Official Halo Backstory


Halo's backstory and other relevant story information as related in official Bungie documentation or by Bungie representatives in interviews. Third-party coverage of the story as presented on gaming sites or in magazines is not included since these can and do differ widely.

Additional background story can be gleaned from the Cortana Letters and the Halo Transmissions.

Enjoy.


Source: Bungie's Halo press release Macworld Expo New York

Date: July 21, 1999

The player is a military recon unit of the human race's fledgling planetary empire. Pursued by alien warships to a massive and ancient ring construct deep in the void, the player must single-handedly improvise a guerilla war over land, sea and air, using the arsenals and vehicles of three distinct cultures. Using everything from composite swords to orbital bombardment, driving everything from giant tanks to agile combat aircraft, players wage intense warfare over and under the surface of this world.


Source: Nathan Bitner in an Next-Generation Online Exclusive Halo Interview

Date: Aug 9, 1999

Next-Gen: Tell us a bit about what inspired Halo

Nathan Bitner: We wanted to make the definitive game of conflict between the human race and an alien civilization. There have been countless games on this theme, but few of them have the depth of story, detail or originality that you would find in a good sci-fi novel. We're going to write this story, and bring it to life with the best technology available in an electronic game.

One of the things that was most rewarding about the Marathon series was the way that fans pored over the details of the story, analyzing and debating it, and eventually expanding it beyond what we originally had written. Two years after we shipped the third in the series, Marathon Infinity, we could still check out third-party sites to find out the new developments there were in the Marathon world -- it was a blast. That taught us that a complex story reaps benefits long after players have played through the game, and that's very much our intention with Halo.

It's worth noting that though Halo takes place on a ring-shaped artificial world, the story, characters and world bear no relation whatsoever to Niven's excellent Ringworld novels.


Source: Jason Jones in an Inside Mac Games Interview

Date: Aug 12, 1999

IMG: Any particular reason for the Marathon logo, or is it just for kicks? Is Halo somehow tied to and/or an extension of the Marathon series?

JJ: I'll say this: Observant fans of our games will note that certain themes tend to run through our games. For example, the sword Durandal (from the "Song of Roland") first appears in Minotaur as a magic sword and goes on to become a central character in Marathon. There are many other examples of common themes running through our games.


Source: Doug Zartman in a World Without Borders (Mac Addict Fix) chat

Date: Oct 6, 1999

Have Blue: What can you say about the Marathon logo appearing within the Halo logo?

BungieD: What indeed? All of our games have thematic parallels between the storylines. Mostly, some direct parallels. There are certain recurring themes; but it remains to be seen how many direct parallels there might be in the stories.


Source: Doug Zartman in an Incite Video Special interview movie

Date: Feb 18, 2000

Ah, so the, the main character, um, the character that the player plays, is, is, is a human military officer. Um, what we're seeing here on the screen, uh, the player is inside, uh, sort of a hologram room, which, uh, is showing, uh... you've got a hologram of the, the ring itself, you can see the terrain, uh, on the surface of it... um, it's orbiting a gas giant, and you can actually see a, a, ah, an image of the halo itself is that small blue ring...


Source: Joseph Staten at Bungie's "Gathering of Fans" Macworld Expo San Francisco (thanks to SiliconDream and DeusExMachina for filming the event)

Date: January 5, 2000

So the story of Halo... of course because it's a Bungie game and Jason's making it, it's much more complex than just aliens versus humans. If you will...err... bear with me, I can tell you about something that's happening far future. Ah... we're not quite sure about the date as of yet for obvious reasons for some of you people who actually pay attention to dates and such in our games.

Um, but hey... the humans have colonized far out into the Milky Way, and they've created a number of outposts. Unfortunately for us, as we've created these outposts we've run into a big group of aliens know as the Covenant or at least that's what we think we understand from their transmissions that they send immediately before destroying us without saying a word.

Er, it's pretty brutal. They blast into our systems and just raze our planets without warning, sending us very cryptic, slightly religious, very zealous messages. If you can imagine the Milky Way galaxy, and down here on some outer spiral arm is Earth, is Sol, we've sort of colonized inward and the Covenant fleet is coming directly down from a variety of different directions gradually getting closer and closer to Earth.

We have this final battle, a really big set piece battle with lots of star cruisers that sort of thing... in a planet... in one of the Human systems and we get our asses totally whupped. The final ship that survives, which is called the Pillar of Autumn, decides to... the commander of the ship... decides that she's going to set a course far out in the galaxy some random destination as far away from Earth as she can possibly find. And she sets these coordinates with the ship's AI and the ship's AI takes over and they blast off in space.

Now when they get to this location they find a couple of cool things. They find... you guys have all seen the trailer, right? So, they find a couple of cool things. They find this big gas-giant planet and they find this little moon. Now the name of the gas giant is Threshold... the name of the moon is Basis, and right in the middle between this big-ass gas giant and this little tiny moon is this foreign object. And upon closer inspection they find that this object is, in fact, a ring structure about ten thousand miles in diameter, it has some gravity, it has continents, different climate zones, all of that sort of thing. Most importantly, it can support life on the inside of the ring.

Unfortunately for the crew of the Pillar of Autumn, as soon as they arrive in the system they meet a big ass Covenant battle fleet, which has arrived there before them. They get blown to bits but do a pretty good job of destroying the...Um... other ships... the Covenant ships.

So the ship's AI on the Pillar of Autumn is pretty good... Um.. you'll find out more about the AI later. It's pretty smart, and what happens right before the ship breaks up is a variety of different military officers bail out of the ship, they dump equipment, they dump supplies, it all lands, scattered around the Halo ring. And you, this very elite military officer, gets jettisoned out of the craft, and you burn through the atmosphere and you land on the ring, and what happens from them on is a guerrilla war between you and... uh... and a 'fuck-ton' of aliens. You go around the ring, you try to gather your friends, you try to gather your equipment, gather your vehicles and... uh... beat the hell out of the Covenant.

Meanwhile, you're discovering the secrets of the Halo ring itself, and as the game progresses, you realize that whoever understands and harnesses the technology of the ring is not just going to understand this cool ring structure but is actually going to win the war, save the universe, go home happy... [?]... so ah... that's the story.

Hey... oh wait... I'm sorry, I'm sorry... all of that happens... before the game starts.


Source: Joseph Staten on Bungie TV (Day 2) Macworld Expo San Francisco

Date: January 6, 2000

So, here's the story of Halo:

It's a couple hundred years in the future. Earth has, people of Earth have, gone out and colonized the galaxy. They made a number of different outposts in one particular region of the galaxy and are doing fairly well until they run into a massive group of aliens called the Covenant.

Now, keep in mind this isn't just one alien. It's actually a conglomeration of different alien races, none of which are particularly nice; on the whole they're especially nasty. They're pretty zealous; they have a lot of really zealous religious fervor. Whenever they come in contact with one of the human outposts they wipe it out utterly without any word, without any warning, a couple cryptic messages, but then they raise the planet in a tremendous firestorm. They're destroying all the human systems and the unfortunate thing is they're getting closer and closer to Earth.

Now we have a final setpiece battle with the aliens at one of the last remaining Human colonies that is not Earth. We get totally obliterated except for one human ship and the commander of this human ship decides that rather than lead the aliens closer and closer to earth that they're going to plot a course to some random destination in the galaxy and lead the aliens away with them.

So, they set this random course, they log it into the computer's AI, the AI blasts them out of the system and oddly enough the entirety of the alien force follows them. Not one ship, not a couple, but every single Covenant battleship follows this one human ship.

Now when this one human ship arrives at this uncharted destination they find a couple cool things in the system. They find a big gas giant planet which has a moon orbiting around it. But inbetween the two things is this ring structure, something they've never seen before. It's 10,000 miles in diameter, it has an atmosphere, it has continents, and it can support life. It's a habitat, you can live on it and the human ship comes into the system, makes these very quick discoveries, but before it can do anything else it's attacked by the Covenant battle fleet and broken into bits. Before the ship is entirely destroyed however the commander of the human ship is able to jettison certain essential supplies, troops that remain alive, vehicles and all these different things land in various places on the Halo ring.

And you, the main character of the game, an elite military officer, are able to bail out of the breaking apart human ship at the very last minute and burn through the atmosphere of the ring, which is Halo, land on the surface of the ring, and what begins is a guerrilla war, between you and this massive, overwhelming, alien fleet. Aliens land on the ring and they engage you and the other other members of your former crew in a variety of battles around the ring.

So that's the basic backstory of Halo. All that happens before the game begins. And again the game of Halo is a 3rd person action game; it's all about action from minute to minute. It tells the story of you, one person alone, with your friends, with weapons, with vehicles, fighting a guerrilla war against a fairly overwhelming alien force.

So that's the basic story of Halo.


Source: Bungie's E3 press kit: page 10 (thanks to Halo Network for the scan)

Date: May 11, 2000

Halo is a sci-fi action game of epic battle, exploration and discovery, set in a world of vast scale and unparalleled realism. Players wage a hi-tech guerrilla war, on foot, in vehicles, in the air and beneath the surface of an alien ring construct orbiting in space. As they explore this vast realm and discover the technologies of different cultures, a gripping story of interstellar struggle unfolds.


Source: Bungie's E3 press kit: page 12 (thanks to Rampancy for the scan)

Date: May 11, 2000

THE STORY
---------

The human race has a fledgling interstellar empire of eight worlds that are engaged in a war with an alien league known as the Covenant. Having destroyed the outer perimeter of the human empire, a Covenant fleet has turned towards Earth. A single human warship is dispatched to lure them away. The ship flees deep into space with the Covenant at its heels, and after many months, comes upon an ancient artificial world - a ring construct 10,000 miles in diameter known as "Halo." Damaged and running low on supplies, the crew picks this world to make a stand against the Covenant.

In Halo, the player is a human military officer on the surface of Halo. Working sometimes in concert with other humans, but more often alone, the player must single-handedly improvise a guerrilla war against this overwhelming and heavily armed alien force.


Source: Bungie's E3 Halo movie flyer (thanks to Halo Vault for the scan)

Date: May 11, 2000

The Story:

Hundreds of years from now, Earth's fledgling planetary empire has been drawn into a merciless war with a consortium of alien races known as the Covenant. Covenant technology is far beyond that of Earth, and the humans are losing. Whole planets are being destroyed. Billions have died. It's only a matter of time before the Covenant find Earth, and destroy it.

The most recent human planet to be discovered by the Covenant fleet is Reach, population 700 million. The Covenant annihilate it utterly. A single human corvette escapes the battle. In a desperate attempt to lead the Covenant away from Earth, the ship charts a course for a distant unexplored system.

In a move that baffles the Commander and her crew, the entire Covenant fleet gives chase.

When the humans arrive at their destination, they find an alien artifact of enormous size in orbit between a gas giant and its moon. They have found HALO, a ring ten thousand kilometers in diameter, with a breathable atmosphere. On its inner surface, HALO has oceans, continents, varied climatic zones. It's a habitat.

The Covenant destroy the human ship in a battle near HALO, but a portion of the human crew escapes to land in scattered groups on the surface of the ring. One of the marines, more skilled than the rest, starts a guerilla war against the Covenant, trying to stop them from learning the secrets of HALO.

This marine is you. The game begins.


Source: Short pieces of background story dialog from Bungie's E3 Halo movie

Date: May 11, 2000

Sergeant Lehto "Report"
Private Gough: "We lost Segur"
Sergeant Lehto: "Gough, you and McLees keep this entrance clear the rest of us are going down that hole to find whatever those blue bastards were after."
Sergeant Lehto: "Private Wang you have point"
Private Wang: "Clear... no movement... no heat... no Covenant anywhere... something ain't right."
Sergeant Lehto: "Hold up... and Wang put a sock in it will ya."
Private Wang: "All's I'm saying is there's a lot of unlocked doors for something that nobody's supposed to have been in for a hundred thousand years."
Sergeant Lehto: "We've got nothing down the rabbit hole"


Covenant: "Your destruction is the will of the gods, and we are their instrument."


Marine: "Can you walk?"
Private Gough: "Cortana told us one of you was onboard, but I didn't believe her."
Marine: "Enemy airborne battalion inbound... let's get you onboard."
Private Gough: "You're staying?"
Marine: "Yes. My battle has just begun."


Source: Microsoft's official Gamestock 2001 site. See "Overview of Halo" contained in the Flash animation.

Date: Mar 13, 2001

You are the ultimate commando - a cybernetically enhanced soldier representing the peak of human military evolution. You are efficient, skilled, and dangerous.

You situation: In a desperate attempt to keep a conquering alien race called the Covenant from finding Earth, you and a ragtag group of Marines flee to a distance uncharted system where you unexpectedly stumble across Halo, an enormous alien artifact in orbit between a gas giant and its moon.

Your objective: Uncover Halo's horrible secret, and destroy mankind's nemesis - the Covenant.

A sci-fi shooter that takes place on a mysterious alien ring-world, Halo will have you battling through amazing indoor and outdoor environments, in vehicles, and on foot with the largest arsenal of futuristic weapons, vehicles, and combat roles of any shooter ever.


Source: Microsoft's official Xbox site.

Date: Mar 13, 2001

Halo is a sci-fi shooter that takes place on a mysterious alien ring-world. Packed with combat, Halo will have you battling on foot, in vehicles, inside and outdoors with Alien and Human weaponry. Your objective: to uncover Halo's horrible secrets and destroy mankind's sworn enemy, the Covenant.

Incredible mission variety: Fight the Covenant in dozens of missions as you uncover the dark secrets of Halo. Among your many objectives - attack enemy outposts, raid underground labs for advanced technology, rescue fallen comrades, steal alien vehicles and weaponry and snipe enemy forces.

Rich sci-fi experience: Halo transports gamers into a science fiction universe fresh out of a Hollywood movie. With a detailed twisting story-line, complex characters and cunning enemies Halo will fulfill every sci-fi enthusiasts dream.


Source: Joseph Staten (Bungie Studios) in the official Halo footage from Gamestock 2001

Date: Mar 13, 2001

Hundreds of years from now, mankind is locked in a life-or-death struggle with a group of aliens known as the Covenant. The Covenant have destroyed our colony worlds... their forces... they're unstoppable. To lead the Covenant away from Earth, a ship of human soldiers makes a blind jump to a forgotten corner of the galaxy, where they crash on Halo, an ancient ring-artifact, 10,000 kilometers in diameters, locked in orbit between an obscure planet and its moon. And this... this is Halo [pans to show the ring]. And THIS [pans back to the cyborg] - this is you. An elite military unit, you are the last of your kind. Trained to fight with any weapon, attack in any vehicle, you are Mankind's most sophisticated piece of military hardware. Linking together with other survivors from the crash, you begin a guerilla war against the Covenant army that followed you to Halo. Whichever side, human or alien, which first uncovers the secrets of Halo, will find something that will alter the course of the war. Humanity's fate is in your big, green, armored hands.


Source: Bungie's new look Halo page

Date: Mar 20, 2001

Years in the future, the human race is besieged by a group of aliens, known as the Covenant. Greatly outnumbered, humanity makes its last stand on an aritificially created planet-like ring or "halo". It is your responsibility to defend, and ultimately preserve the human race.


Source: Halo XBox Ad from a Microsoft PR Flyer at E3 2001

Date: May 17, 2001

Halo is a sci-fi shooter that takes place on a mysterious alien ring-world. Packed with combat, Halo will have you battling on foot, vehicles, inside and outdoors with Alien and Human weaponary. Your objective: to uncover Halo's horrible secrets and destroy mankind's enemy, the Covenant.


Source: Joseph Staten in a HBO forum post

Date: July 21, 2001

Re: Autumn
Posted By: Joseph
Date: 7/20/01 10:57 p.m.

In Response To: Re: Autumn (Sound of Onion)

To be blunt (and a little cryptic):

The Pillar of Autumn is a kilometer of hope. The only piece of Halcyon-class hardware
between Earth and those bastards that want you and billions like you dead.

Until you turned tail and ran, that is.

Now it's your Alamo. And your grave. Unless you and this all-too-familiar voice in your
head can find a way out--down onto that ring beckoning to starboard.

- Joseph


Source: Jaime Griesemer in a Halo Developer Diary on PlanetXbox

Date: July 30, 2001

Re: Autumn
Posted By: Joseph
Date: 7/20/01 10:57 p.m.

The entire first level revolves around the defense and eventual abandonment of the Pillar of Autumn, which requires you to constantly reinforce the marines as they fight against Covenant boarding parties. Later, once you reach the surface of Halo itself, your mission is to search the countryside for lifepods and survivors, engaging the Covenant that are hunting them down and helping them make it to dropships and escape.


Source: Joseph Staten in a Rampancy forum post

Date: July 31, 2001

Re: Autumn
Posted By: Joseph
Date: 7/20/01 10:57 p.m.

(because poetry is a great break from crunch)
Joseph

Posted On: Tuesday, July 31 2001, 1:43am
Poster IP: 131.107.3.91

deep in the heart of autumn
were silent spaces for fifty
of the ones that need no name

from this celestial bough
all but one did fall into
the pitiless fires of reach

a soldier's ignominy
to have dreamt while brothers bled

but oh, for the rest of us
his shame was our salvation

- unknown author, late 26th century


Source: Microsoft's Official Halo site. Thanks to Chlazza for extracting the full timeline from the XML file.

Date: Sept 14, 2001


INTRODUCTION

A sci-fi, first-person shooter that takes place on a mysterious alien artifact, Halo will have you battling through amazing indoor and outdoor environments, in vehicles, and on foot with the largest arsenal of futuristic weapons, vehicles, and combat roles of any shooter ever.

Halo transports you to a science fiction universe fresh out of a Hollywood movie with a detailed, twisting storyline, complex characters, and cunning enemies. Your objective? Uncover Halo's horrible secret, and destroy mankind's nemesis - the Covenant. Your situation? Desperate...


COMBAT EVOLVED

You are an elite warrior fighting an alien force in vehicle and foot based combat across a wildly imaginative and unearthly environment - an ancient alien artifact known as Halo.

This giant living ring you now find yourself on is populated with strange creatures, exotic vegetation, twisting underground lairs, huge mountain chains, and countless angry aliens bent on your destruction.

Snipe alien infantry, pilot vehicles, destroy installations and rescue your comrades as you strengthen your arsenal with superior alien weapons and vehicles and fight to uncover Halo's secrets and save the human race.


MASTER CHIEF

You are the Master Chief, the last human "super-soldier" remaining from an experimental military program - the SPARTAN II protocols.

Selected at birth and raised in a "boot camp" setting for your entire childhood, you were an excellent soldier by your early teens.

With bionically and chemically enhanced bones and musculature, genetically rewritten neural links, and a specialized "hotwired" cybernetics package complete with heads-up display - you are the ultimate commando.

You are efficient, skilled, and dangerous, and, are the only human the Covenant truly fears...


TIMELINE

For centuries, mankind has colonized the Orion Arm of the Milky Way galaxy. Though each world held dangers, the military-accompanying bands of intrepid colonists-carved out dominion over hundreds of planets. Human ingenuity, resourcefulness and bravery have literally tamed the heavens.

Now, in the 24th Century, a mysterious alien enemy-the Covenant-appears, striking without warning. Driven by a fanatical need to rid the universe of the "infection" of Humankind, Covenant forces mercilessly advance, crushing all in their path.

Soon, the once proud Colonial dominion of Earth is reduced to a handful of worlds.


EARLY CONFLICTS

This period in human history is characterized by a series of wars between various governments and factions in our Solar System. Conflicts of particular historical importance include the Jovian Moon Campaign, The Rain Forest Wars, and a series of clashes on Mars.

2164: INTERPLANETARY WAR

UN-sponsored military forces begin a pattern of massive buildups, culminating in the first real interplanetary war. After the successful Marine deployment on Mars, recruitment drives and propaganda tactics strongly bolster UNSC (UN Space Command) forces. UN forces defeat Koslovic (supporters of rabid Communist hard-liner Vladimir Koslov) and Frieden (a resurgence of fascism) forces on Earth, then begin a systematic and dedicated drive to crush their remnants on the various planets they hold throughout the system. At the conclusion, Frieden and Koslovic forces are defeated, in the face of a massive, unified and very powerful UN military.

2170: EXPANSION

The next 120 years is characterized by a period of restructuring as a unified Earth government is formed. Now, the victors must deal with a less-obvious, but equally serious threat: overpopulation and a massive military with no enemy to fight. In the postwar period, there are massive population surges and the overpopulation, coupled with the destruction and famine bred by the Rain Forest Wars, becomes threatening.

2291: FASTER THAN LIGHT

A secret team of researchers, physicists and mathematicians develop the Shaw-Fujikawa Translight Engine, a practical means of propelling spacecraft across vast interstellar distances.

2310: FIRST WAVE

The Earth government unveils the first in a line of colony ships; given conditions on Earth are deteriorating in the face of overpopulation, hitching a ride out to a colony becomes a highly attractive option. Additionally, the Earth government plans to attach military personnel to each colony, to help better utilize the massive (and expensive) standing fleets.
Because FTL travel is still fairly new and expensive, colonists and military personnel face a stringent regimen of physical and mental testing. In theory, only the best-qualified citizens and soldiers are allowed to colonize "nearby" worlds. This is the birth of the Inner Colonies; typically Inner Colonials are-later in the timeline-considered the elite, the best and brightest.

2362: THE ODYSSEY

The Odyssey is launched January 1, 2362. The lead ship in the colony vessels, the Odyssey-laden with troops and terra forming gear-spearheads the colonization of a new world. This sparks the first wave of human colonization.

2390: INNER COLONIES

Colonization of the Inner Colonies is fully underway with 210 human-occupied worlds in various stages of terra forming.

2490: THE BIRTH OF THE OUTER COLONIES

Expansion continues at a rapid pace, and by 2490 human space encompasses 800+ worlds throughout the Orion Arm of the Milky Way (ranging from fairly well-tamed planetary strongholds to tiny hinterland settlements). Outward expansion continues, and the Inner Colonies become a political and economic stronghold, though they rely heavily on raw materials supplied by the Outer Colonies.
During this period, the planet Reach (orbiting Epsilon Eridani, literally on Earth's front porch) becomes the primary Naval yard, a major producer of warships and colony vessels, as well as a training ground for covert operatives and Special Forces.

2530: THE COVENANT WAR BEGINS

On April 3, 2530, contact with the Outer Colony, Harvest, is lost. After failing to re-establish contact with Harvest, the Colonial Military Administration sends a scout ship, the Argo, to investigate. Contact with Argo is subsequently lost after arriving in the Harvest system.
The CMA dispatches a battle group to Harvest, consisting of three warships. The lead ship in the battle group, the Heracles, returns to Reach, badly damaged and with heavy casualties. The ship's commander reports that an alien warship with powerful weaponry was present, and had decimated Harvest, exterminating the colonists (and presumably destroying the Argo). The battle group engaged the alien warship, and was thoroughly routed. The Heracles-following the destruction of the other two ships in the group-jumped out of the system, but due to the damage she had sustained, took several weeks to make it back to Reach.
The Earth military goes on full alert, and begins making preparations to move in and retake Harvest. By December, a massive Earth war fleet under Vice Admiral Preston Cole mobilizes, one of the fastest such mobilizations of such a large fleet in the history of humankind.

2531: THE BATTLE OF HARVEST

Cole's war fleet engages the alien warship responsible for the decimation of the colony, scoring a victory (though the battle cost Cole two-thirds of his battle group). Only a last minute tactical inspiration turned the tide of battle.
After returning to Earth, Cole-promoted to Admiral-learns that a number of outlying colonies have been destroyed, leaving behind no survivors. Cole begins to move his fleet around, trying to intercept the invaders. Ground and ship-to-ship battles begin in earnest, raging throughout the Outer Colonies. During one ground engagement, Human forces capture one of the aliens. Before succumbing to his wounds, interrogators learn that the aliens refer to themselves as "the Covenant" (roughly translated).

2535: THE OUTER COLONY MASSACRED

In the course of four short years, Cole's forces are hammered, despite his excellent leadership and tactical brilliance. It is simply a matter of being outgunned; Covenant kill ratios tend to top four to one in ship-to-ship combat. By 2535, virtually all of the Outer Colony worlds have been destroyed by the Covenant. The "Cole Protocol" is established by military order: all human vessels must ensure that Covenant forces do not find Earth. Human ships must-when forced to withdraw-not move on to an Earth bound vector, even if that means jumping without proper navigational calculations. If blind jumps are not possible, the ship's captain must order self-destruction if capture is imminent. In addition, it is also imperative that the powerful ship A.I. data cores not fall into Covenant hands, so part of this protocol involves either the removal or destruction of the ship's A.I. in extreme situations.

2536: THE SIEGE OF THE INNER COLONIES

Covenant forces begin to swarm into the Inner Colonies. For several years the war falls into a pattern: humans win isolated battles, typically during ground operations, but at a horrible cost. In space combat, the humans are losing at a precipitous rate, and one by one, the colonies fall.

2552 AND BEYOND: HALO

Covenant forces arrive at Reach and obliterate the colony. You (Master Chief) escape aboard the cruiser Pillar of Autumn and are the only survivor of your team.
In accordance with the Cole Protocol, the Pillar of Autumn's captain plots a random, long-distance jump, hoping to lure the Covenant fleet-dangerously near Earth-away from the human homeworld.
After deactivating the drive, the Pillar of Autumn drops into a distant, uncharted system. There is a Covenant fleet in the system as well, near a planet-sized ring-shaped construct, Halo. A brief-and lopsided-battle ensues and the Pillar of Autumn is severely damaged. An escape craft containing the surviving humans crashes on the mysterious alien construct.


Source: The Halo timeline as presented on Microsoft's Xbox.com site. Slight changes from the above timeline discovered two months ago. Note the Timeline was removed shortly after Nov 14th 2001.

Date: Nov 14, 2001


The Halo Timeline


2160-2200: EARLY CONFLICTS
This period in human history was marked by a series of brutal conflicts between various governments and factions in our Solar System. Conflicts of particular historical importance included the Jovian Moons Campaign, The Rain Forest Wars, and a series of clashes on Mars.

As overpopulation and political unrest on Earth increased, a number of new political movements formed. The most noteworthy dissident movements of the period were the "Koslovics" and the "Frieden" movement. The Koslovics_supporters of neo-Communist hardliner Vladimir Koslov_sought a return to the glory days of Communism and the elimination of corporate and capitalist influence, particularly in orbital facilities and offworld colonies.

The Frieden movement was a resurgence of fascism, springing from anti-Koslovic sentiment that had taken root in the Jovian colonies (largely backed by Unified German Republic corporations, frequent targets of Koslovic "workers' crusades"). "Frieden" literally means "peace"-in this case, they believed that peace could be achieved only once the "oppressors on Terra Firma" were eliminated.

2160
March-June: The Jovian Moons Campaign began. Jovian secessionist attacks on United Nations Colonial Advisors on the moon Io led to three months of fighting between the Earth military and Jovian "Frieden" forces. Though this was not the first armed conflict in our Solar System, it was easily one of the bloodiest, and is generally considered to be the spark of increased friction and militarization that followed.

The Jovian Moons Campaign escalated tensions, as Earth's national governments-many of which sponsored colonies within the system-began fighting proxy wars off-planet. As these proxy wars continued, tensions on Earth mounted, leading to a number of armed conflicts on Earth itself.

2162
The Rain Forest Wars: Armed conflict ripped through South America, as Koslovic, Frieden, and UN forces all clashed over ideological differences, sparking additional conflicts off-planet.

2163
December: In a conflict that stemmed from the Rain Forest Wars, the three primary Earth factions clashed again, this time on Mars. A series of lightning strikes against Koslovic forces near the Argyre Planitia marked the first extra-terrestrial deployment of Marines. The campaign was an unqualified success. As a result, future military doctrine favored large contingents of Marines for ground assaults and ship-boarding actions.

2164: INTERPLANETARY WAR
UN-sponsored military forces began a pattern of massive buildups, culminating in the first real interplanetary war. After the successful Marine deployment on Mars, recruitment drives and propaganda tactics strongly bolstered UNSC (United Nations Space Command) forces. UN forces defeated Koslovic and Frieden forces on Earth, then began a systematic and dedicated drive to crush their remnants on the various planets they held throughout the system. At the conclusion of these brushfire conflicts, Frieden and Koslovic forces were defeated in the face of a massive, unified and very powerful UN military.

2170: EXPANSION
A unified Earth government was formed in the wake of the conflicts of 216. Now, the victors were forced to deal with a less obvious but equally serious threat: overpopulation and a massive military that had no enemy to fight.

In the postwar period there were massive population surges and the overpopulation, coupled with the destruction and famine bred by the Rain Forest Wars, threatened to destabilize the economy.

2291: FASTER THAN LIGHT
A team of researchers, physicists, and mathematicians working in secret developed the Shaw-Fujikawa Translight Engine, a practical means of propelling spacecraft across vast interstellar distances. This new engine allowed ships to tunnel into "the Slipstream" (also called "Slipspace"). Slipspace is a domain with alternate physical laws, allowing faster-than-light travel without relativistic side-effects. Faster-than-light travel is not instantaneous; "short" jumps routinely take up to two months, and "long" jumps can last six months or more.

The SFTE generated a resonance field, which when coupled with the unusual physics of the Slipstream, allowed for dramatically shorter transit times between stars; however, scientists noted an odd "flexibility" to temporal flow while inside the Slipstream. Though no human scientist is sure why travel time between stars is not constant, many theorize that there are "eddies" or "currents" within the Slipstream-there is generally a five to ten percent variance in travel times between stars. This temporal inconsistency has given military tacticians and strategists fits-hampering many coordinated attacks.

2310: FIRST WAVE
The Earth government unveiled the first in a line of colony ships-and volunteers were in great supply. Conditions on Earth had deteriorated in the face of overpopulation, so hitching a ride out to a colony became an attractive option.

Each colony ship was assigned military personnel and escort ships to help better utilize the massive (and expensive) standing fleets that, in the collapse of armed dissent, were soaking up a great deal of funding and resources.

Because FTL travel in this period was still fairly new and expensive, colonists and military personnel faced a stringent regimen of physical and mental testing. In theory, only the best-qualified citizens and soldiers were allowed to colonize "nearby" worlds. This was the birth of the Inner Colonies.

2362: THE ODYSSEY
The Odyssey launched on January 1, 2362. The lead ship in a fleet of colony vessels, the Odyssey-laden with troops and terraforming gear-spearheaded the colonization of a new world. This sparked the first wave of human expansion beyond the confines of the Solar System.

2390: INNER COLONIES
By 2390, the colonization of the Inner Colonies was fully underway. There were 210 human-occupied worlds in various stages of terraforming, and the population burden across human-controlled space was largely stabilized.

2490: THE BIRTH OF THE OUTER COLONIES
Expansion continued at a rapid pace, and by 2490 human space encompassed more than 800 worlds throughout the Orion Arm of the Milky Way (ranging from fairly well-tamed planetary strongholds to tiny hinterland settlements). Outward expansion continued, and the Inner Colonies become a political and economic stronghold, though they relied heavily on raw materials supplied by the Outer Colonies.

During this period, the planet Reach (orbiting Epsilon Eridani, right on Earth's metaphorical doorstep) became the UNSC's primary Naval yard and training academy. Reach was a major producer of warships and colony vessels, as well as a training ground for covert operatives and Special Forces.

2525: THE COVENANT WAR BEGINS
On April 20, 2525, contact with the Outer Colony, Harvest, was lost. After failing to re-establish contact with Harvest, the Colonial Military Administration sent a scout ship, the Argo, to investigate. Contact with the Argo was subsequently lost after the ship arrived in the Harvest system. v The CMA dispatched a battle group to Harvest, consisting of three warships. The lead ship in the battle group, the Heracles, returned to Reach, badly damaged and with heavy casualties. The ship's commander reported that an alien warship with powerful weaponry was present, and had decimated Harvest, exterminating the colonists (and presumably destroying the Argo).

The battle group engaged the alien warship and was thoroughly routed. The Heracles-following the destruction of the other two ships in the group-jumped out of the system, but due to the damage she had sustained, took several weeks to make it back to Reach.

The Earth military immediately upgraded their alert status and began preparations to move in and retake Harvest. By December, a massive Earth war fleet under Vice Admiral Preston Cole mobilized, one of the fastest such mobilizations of such a large fleet in the history of humankind.

2525: THE BATTLE OF HARVEST
Cole's war fleet engaged the alien warship responsible for the decimation of the colony, scoring a victory (though the battle cost Cole two-thirds of his battle group). Only a last minute tactical inspiration turned the tide of battle.

After returning to Earth, Cole-promoted to Admiral-learned that a number of outlying colonies had been destroyed, leaving behind no survivors. Cole began to move his fleet around in an attempt to intercept the invaders. Ground and ship-to-ship battles began in earnest, raging throughout the Outer Colonies. During one ground engagement, human forces captured one of the aliens. Before he succumbed to his wounds, interrogators learned that the aliens referred to themselves as "the Covenant."

THE OUTER COLONY MASSACRES
Over the next several years, Cole's forces were hammered, despite his excellent leadership and tactical brilliance. It was simply a matter of being outgunned; Covenant kill ratios tend to top four to one in ship-to-ship combat.

By November of 2535, virtually all of the Outer Colony worlds had been destroyed by the Covenant. The "Cole Protocol" was established by military order: All human vessels must ensure that Covenant forces do not find Earth. Human ships-when forced to withdraw-must not travel on an Earth-bound vector, even if that requires jumping into Slipspace without proper navigational calculations. If blind jumps are not possible, the ship's captain must order self-destruction if capture is imminent. In addition, it is also imperative that the powerful ship AI data cores not fall into Covenant hands, so part of this protocol involved either the removal or destruction of the ship's AI in extreme situations.

2536-2552: THE SIEGE OF THE INNER COLONIES
Covenant forces swarmed into the Inner Colonies. For several years the war fell into a pattern: humans emerged victorious from isolated battles-typically during ground operations-but at a horrible cost. In space combat, the humans lost at a precipitous rate, and one by one, the colonies fell. 2552: HALO Covenant forces arrived at Reach and obliterated Earth's last major military stronghold. The battered cruiser, the Pillar of Autumn, fled the devastation, carrying with it the sole surviving SPARTAN. The SPARTANs-an elite unit of supercommandoes, equipped with the fearsome MJOLNIR assault armor-were created as the ultimate soldiers.

Now, only one SPARTAN remains to carry the fight to the enemy. In accordance with the Cole Protocol, Captain Jacob Keyes-the Autumn's commanding officer-plotted a random, long-distance jump, hoping to lure the Covenant fleet away from Earth. After deactivating the drive, the Autumn dropped into a distant, uncharted system. There was a Covenant fleet in the system as well, near a planet-sized ring-shaped construct, "Halo."

Halo's secrets must be unlocked if humanity is to survive the Covenant onslaught...


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