The Fall of Reach, sometimes referred to as the Battle of Reach, the Reach Campaign, and the Defense of Reach, was one of the largest engagements in the Human-Covenant war. It was fought between the UNSCDF and the Covenant from July 24 to August 30, 2552. A small number of human survivors remained on the planet until September 7.
By the 2550s the UNSC had become exhausted. With much of the UNSC fleet transferred to star systems such as Sol and Epsilon Eridani, the Covenant began pushing into the UEG's Inner Colonies with little resistance, frequently losing less than eighteen ships in engagements. ONI meanwhile studied recent planetary attacks and Covenant ship movements, eventually concluding in July 2552 that they were close to discovering Reach, calculating an 87.2% likelihood of it being found by the end of the year. Consequently, Admiral Margaret Parangoski advised Vice Admiral Stanforth to seriously consider using Reach in the hypothetical Operation: RED FLAG, a plan which would involve the sacrifice of an entire world in order to succeed.
Despite suffering a severe defeat at the Battle of Sigma Octanus IV, the Covenant managed to place a tracking device on the UNSC Iroquois and used it to find other human colony worlds. When the Iroquois returned to Reach, the human presence - and its extent - was disclosed and later revealed to the Covenant fleet. Ironically, the location of Reach was already known to the Covenant; a previously recovered Forerunner artifact indicated Reach held another artifact.
At first, the Covenant sent a pre-invasion force, consisting of a few SDV-class heavy corvettes and a CSO-class supercarrier, the Long Night of Solace, to Reach and secretly deployed a large force in the Viery Territory. This invasion force was cloaked from UNSC sensors by sophisticated Stealth pylons deployed around it. The Covenant also sent a small Sangheili Zealot strike team led by a Field Marshal to recover a Forerunner artifact from an excavation site near the Visegrád communications outpost.
- “Colonel, this is Noble One. There are no rebels, the Covenant are on Reach.”— Carter-A259
- Main article: Raid on Visegrád Relay
Before the discovery of the Covenant invasion force, Noble Team was sent to investigate a signal blackout at the communications array outpost that kept Reach in contact to the rest of the UNSC. Sabotage by Insurrectionists was suspected. As Noble Team arrived at the station, they discovered that the Covenant was behind the disturbance. After rescuing pinned-down UNSC troops and finding the remaining survivors at the station, Noble Team was ambushed by an elite team of Covenant Zealots. The only Zealot that escaped the skirmish alive was the leader of the team, a Sangheili Field Marshal.
- “Winter Contingency has been declared, all units are mobilized and ready.”— UNSC Officer
- Main article: Battle of Sword Base
The Covenant created a beachhead on Reach in the Viery Territory with anti-air batteries surrounding the perimeter of their staging area. With several Spires, the Covenant covertly inserted massive invasion armies, including several Corvettes, without detection. After the skirmishes at the communications array, Covenant forces attacked Sword Base in an attempt to overrun the ONI facility and potentially even find the forerunner artifacts under the facility. However, these forces were repulsed after Noble Team reinforced the base and brought its anti-air turrets and communications back online. The Covenant Corvette leading the attack was forced to retreat and was destroyed by an orbital MAC round.
With reports of Covenant deployments on Reach becoming ever-more frequent, the UNSC decided to initiate a reconnaissance operation in order to ascertain what the Covenant were hiding in the "Dark Zone." Upon discovering that the Covenant were massing a large invasion force, the UNSC organised a counter-offensive.
- “…we are now under attack across the Viery territory, including Orbital Defences. As per the WINTER CONTINGENCY, we are countering on every front.”
- Main articles: Battle of Viery and Operation: UPPERCUT
As the fighting across the Viery territory escalated, the UNSC Army launched its offensive at the Covenant's staging ground in an attempt to overrun the Covenant forces. The assault was spearheaded by Noble Team. Throughout the assault, members of Noble Team destroyed several of the Covenant anti-air batteries enabling the UNSC to achieve air superiority. Supported by Longswords and Frigates, the UNSC Army continued its drive across the Covenant staging areas. However, the situation changed when the CSO-class supercarrier, Long Night of Solace, appeared over the area and reinforced the Covenant forces. As a result, many UNSC frigates were lost and the assault ground to a halt.
As the Covenant grew in number and in strength, the UNSC began to lose their initial home-field advantage. On the ground, the UNSC would never successfully go on the offensive again and although they would hold off the Covenant in certain areas such as New Alexandria, any surviving UNSC forces were ultimately glassed.
One of the first defeats suffered by the UNSC on Reach was the Covenant's second attack on Sword Base, this time actually glassing areas around the Base. The arrival of the supercarrier led to Operation: UPPERCUT, where Noble Team used Sabres and the corvette Ardent Prayer to deliver a "Slipspace Bomb" to the supercarrier and destroy it. Unfortunately, during the battle, the Slipspace drive malfunctioned and wasn't able to detonate remotely. Jorge-052 voluntarily sacrificed himself to manually trigger the drive. Just as the supercarrier was destroyed, more Covenant ships arrived, this time in the form of Cruisers and Assault Carriers, to reinforce the Covenant forces already present on Reach.
- “I know we're losing. I want to know if we've lost.”
- Main articles: Raid of New Alexandria and Raid on Sword Base
Over the next week, Covenant ground forces landed on the planet and Covenant ships began glassing targeted areas. A battle broke out in the city of New Alexandria, with large numbers of civilian evacuation transports being shot down by Covenant air and ground forces. Units from Noble Team assisted Army and Marine forces in clearing evacuation zones, succeeding in shooting down a Covenant corvette in the process. Though UNSC forces, with great sacrifice, ultimately succeeded in clearing the majority of Covenant troops from the city, Covenant naval assets began to glass the city, and one member of Noble Team was killed by sniper fire while redeploying.
Redeployed, Noble Team and a small force of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers were ordered to destroy the Covenant-occupied Sword Base in a scorched earth operation. Proceeding into the base, the team encountered Doctor Catherine Halsey, who enlisted their help in defending her laboratory amid the ruins of a Forerunner complex from advancing Covenant forces. After successfully holding off the Covenant forces, Halsey ordered SPARTAN-B312 to transport a fragment of the A.I. Cortana to the UNSC Pillar of Autumn, while Jun-A266 escorted her to CASTLE Base elsewhere on Reach. Even as August 30 dawned, however, a third, much larger Covenant fleet was detected exiting Slipstream Space on the edge of the system.
Third Covenant Fleet Arrives
- “Gamma Station, this is Fermion RSO. Unconfirmed reports of an in-system Slipspace rupture.”— Fermion Remote Sensing Outpost
- “Impossible. Check your source.”— Reach Station Gamma
Although elements of the UNSC Army and Navy were engaged in a pitched battle with Covenant forces throughout the Viery Territory, a large portion of the Epsilon Eridani Fleet, including Captain Jacob Keyes, was being kept ignorant of WINTER CONTINGENCY to facilitate the capture of a Class-Five vessel for use in Operation: RED FLAG.
However, plans fell apart when a second Covenant fleet of 314 vessels came to reinforce the attack. This combined flotilla, the largest ever recorded at that point in the war, would not only crush the UNSC in space and on the ground, but ultimately take up positions to glass the planet itself.
The approaching Covenant fleet was first detected in slipspace by Remote Scanning Outpost Fermion. The station's commander, Chief Petty Officer McRobb, sent an emergency message to FLEETCOM and ordered self-destruct to prevent the station's data from falling into enemy hands. A few minutes later three hundred and fourteen Covenant ships exited slipspace at the outskirts of the Epsilon Eridani System. WINTER CONTINGENCY was declared, and Admiral Roland Freemont issued file/bravo-tango-beta-five, ordering all ships around Reach, as well as those at Tantalus and the nearby Jericho system, to rendezvous at Reach in preparation for the coming assault. The Covenant moved in on the orbital defences before the UNSC fleet fully consolidated. Fifty two late arriving UNSC ships, including the UNSC Pillar of Autumn, ran a gauntlet of Covenant warships as they attempted to link up with the main fleet. At the beginning of the battle, only about a hundred UNSC ships were readily available to defend Reach.
- “It is said remorse is the pain of sin. We feel no remorse.”
The main Covenant force moved in on the orbital defences. The initial salvo of Plasma Torpedoes was mostly absorbed by three sacrificial refit and repair stations, allowing the defenders to return fire. The Orbital Defence Platforms and a nuclear minefield combined to take down a full third of the Covenant fleet, destroying about a hundred Covenant ships with the first salvo. The vaporized Titanium-A of the refit stations also served to block incoming plasma torpedoes. However, the next Covenant salvo significantly damaged the UNSC fleet, as the Covenant maneuvered for clear shots around the Titanium dust cloud and moved in for the kill. They destroyed a quarter of the Super MAC platforms, further crippling the UNSC orbital defence capabilities, before retreating out of range. A previously unknown warship type, the Covenant supercruiser, carrying an immensely powerful energy projector revealed itself, destroying the UNSC Minotaur before withdrawing temporarily. The attacking fleet withdrew to regroup after deploying hundreds of dropships to the surface. The UNSC fleet pursued and destroyed a large number of the Covenant dropships, but many still made it through and landed on Reach's northern and southern poles.
As the surviving dropships disgorged thousands of troops, the Covenant fleet began another attack. Some ships made pinpoint slipspace jumps, putting them within the UNSC formation. This left them vulnerable for a short time but allowed them to strike the ODPs directly. The Supercruiser returned and destroyed the UNSC Herodotus and UNSC Musashi from beyond ODP range. The UNSC Pillar of Autumn engaged and destroyed the Supercruiser, detonating a Shiva nuclear device inside the Covenant warship's shields. The detonation reverberated off the shield and disintegrated the Supercruiser.
Attack on the Orbital Defense Generators
- “There are thousands of them. Grunts, Jackals and their warrior Elites. They have tanks and fliers. Christ, they've breached the perimeter. Fall back! Fall back! If anyone can hear this: the Covenant is ground-side. Massing near the armory!”
Thousands of Covenant landed on Reach in an attempt to destroy the Orbital Defense Generators, and were intercepted by Marine forces who were able to defend against the first few waves of Covenant forces while sustaining heavy casualties. The remaining SPARTAN-IIs who were not assigned to Reach Station Gamma were sent to Orbital Defense Generator Facility A-331 to assist in the defense of the station. Unfortunately, their Pelican escort, Bravo 001, was shot down, resulting in the deaths of four Spartans (including Malcolm-059), and leaving others wounded. Near their crash site, the surviving Spartans discovered the shell-shocked remnants of Charlie Company.
Charlie Company had been assigned by Vice Admiral Danforth Whitcomb to find the prototype NOVA Bombs. They were forced to help defend the Orbital Defence Facilities on their way to their objective. Unfortunately, as the Covenant neared the Orbital Defense Generators, someone at HIGHCOM panicked and ordered Longswords to bomb everything within 500 metres, resulting in the destruction of the Covenant ground forces in that location, but also catastrophic friendly fire: Charlie Company was reduced to four men, and its leaders: Lieutenants Jake Chapman and Buckman were killed. The Spartans, after being briefed on the situation by Charlie Company, responded to a distress call from Whitcomb, who requested immediate evacuation. Frederic-104, commander of the Spartans, split the remains of Red Team into four groups: Team Alpha (Frederic-104, Kelly-087, and Joshua-029), which was tasked with eliminating an encampment of 10,000 Covenant and their hovering cruiser (without the use of a nuclear weapon, as the EMP blast would render the generator inoperable), Team Beta, tasked with defense of the Orbital Defense Generators, Team Gamma (Li-008, Anton-044, and Grace-093), ordered to retrieve Whitcomb, and Team Delta (the Charlie Company Marines and six wounded Spartans which included William-043, Isaac-039, and Vinh-030), ordered to secure the Spartans' fallback point at CASTLE Base.
Team Alpha hijacked three Banshees and approached the Covenant encampment (they were ignored by the Unggoy Zawaz, who assumed they were Sangheili on a secret mission) and used Fury Tactical Nuclear Weapons within the shields of the Covenant ship, destroying the encampment and negating the EMP effect that would have disabled the Orbital Defense Generators. Joshua was killed in the process by concentrated small arms fire from the 10,000 Covenant ground forces encamped around the Cruiser. The remaining Spartans of Team Alpha then fell back to CASTLE Base, blasting their way through the remaining Covenant in the area with two commandeered Wraiths. Team Gamma accomplished its mission and fell back to Camp Independence with Whitcomb, where they survived the partial glassing of the planet. Team Delta fell back to CASTLE Base, but in the process lost the remaining Charlie Company marines and every Spartan save for Vinh, Isaac, and William. When the remnants of Team Alpha and Team Delta arrived at CASTLE Base, they found Catherine Halsey there.
Unfortunately, Team Beta was unable to stop the Covenant, who attacked in their thousands. The Orbital Defense Generators were compromised, and the Covenant (after eliminating the powerless, immobile ODPs in geosynchronous orbit around the planet) began the glassing of Reach.
Mission to Reach Station Gamma
During the space battle, the AI Doppler, controller of Reach Station Gamma, was unable to destroy the vital information on board the UNSC Circumference, an ONI Prowler involved in Operation: HYPODERMIC. As the Covenant deployed troops to the station, Doppler reported this violation of the Cole Protocol to the Pillar of Autumn before self-destructing himself to keep from further violation. In response, Captain Jacob Keyes sent John-117, James-005, and Linda-058 to the station. They accomplished their task and destroyed the NAV database onboard Reach Station Gamma, but at the cost of James and Linda. While on board, they rescued some Marines on board the station: Staff Sergeant Avery Johnson and Privates Wallace Jenkins, Bisenti, and O'Brien. They then were evacuated by Pelican back to the Pillar of Autumn. Linda-058 was clinically dead, but there was a chance of saving her, so she was placed in a cryo-chamber. John-117 asked Lieutenant Hall to scan for James (who was blown into space) but they were unable to find him.
Battle at Aszod
- “The only off-planet extraction point left on this continent. Small scale air attacks have decimated many convoys en route. An armada of Covenant cruisers have hastened to side as well. UNSC cruiser, Pillar of Autumn is waiting for your arrival.”
- Main article: Battle of Aszod
On the ground, the Fleet of Particular Justice was beginning their glassing run. Aszod was the last off world extraction on the continent of Eposz and one of the last places to not but be utterly destroyed. UNSC convoys were en route to the yards, while the three remaining members of Noble Team, Carter-A259, Emile-A239, and SPARTAN-B312, trailed behind. Their job was to reach the UNSC Pillar of Autumn, that had landed in the Aszod shipbreaking yards, and deliver the final fragment of Cortana.
Six and Emile fought their way through the surrounding area and shipyards and eventually reached the correct landing platform where Keyes was to receive the fragment. Covenant troops swarmed the landing platform before the meeting could happen. Once clear, Captain Keyes received the package. However, a CCS-class battlecruiser appeared and headed toward the Autumn. Emile, who was in a MAC gun turret, was killed, leaving Six to destroy the cruiser with the gun. Six's shot hit its energy projector, crippling the cruiser.
The Autumn escaped Reach and jumped to Installation 04. A dozen Covenant ships led by Covenant Supreme Commander Thel 'Vadamee pursued, while the remaining vessels stayed behind to finish glassing Reach. Back at the shipyards, the stranded Noble Six continued fighting against the Covenant invaders. Eventually, the lone SPARTAN was overwhelmed and killed by a group of seven Sangheili warriors.
- “We are not wasting a single UNSC ship to confirm what we have already seen a dozen times before: Reach is gone. Everything on it is blasted to bits, burned, glassed over, and vaporized. Everyone on Reach is dead. Dead. Dead. Dead.”
The fall of Reach was a catastrophic blow to the UNSC: they lost their second largest military-industrial complex, after the Sol system, and sustained crippling military losses at Reach, losing over one hundred ships, including irreplaceable cruisers and supercarriers such as UNSC Basra, UNSC Trafalgar, and UNSC Musashi, not to mention the large numbers of civilian and military personnel killed by the invading Covenant forces. With the Epsilon Eridani System in Covenant hands, there were no further major stop points before Sol. Prior to the fall of Reach, Dr. Catherine's Halsey predictions stated that mankind was losing the war, and can only survive for a few months against the Covenant onslaught... but after the losses, the prediction shrink to a few weeks.
A memorial for Office of Naval Intelligence personnel lost during the Fall of Reach was created at ONI Alpha Site. Here, prominent ONI Scientist Catherine Halsey was memorialized despite being alive.
At the same time, despite such a devastating defeat the UNSC still fared better than in previous battles. Even against the technologically superior Fleet of Particular Justice, outnumbered 2:1, they still managed to inflict disproportionate losses to the Covenant, due largely to the twenty Orbital Defense Platforms orbiting Reach. The AI Cortana piloted the fleeing UNSC Pillar of Autumn to the previously undiscovered Installation 04. While the Battle of Installation 04 was tangential to the main front, the containment of the initial Flood outbreak-and the experience gained-was just as critical to the survival of the UNSC.
As well the prototype Mark VI armor was being field tested during the Fall of Reach. The data from these tests were used to improve the final models of the armor that were issued to John-117 and other surviving SPARTANs shortly before the Battle of Earth.
On October 8, 2552, Admiral J. Garcia compiled 844 files related to UNSC Naval actions taken in the Reach Defense Coordination Zone from between July 24 and September 5. They were compiled into a report called "Preliminary Reports of Action - Defense of Reach." They were eventually sent to UNSC High Command for further simulation and data mining.
- Main article: Raid of Reach
As the Covenant began glassing Reach, the surviving Spartans continued their fight. Team Gamma; a Red team splinter composed of Anton-044; Grace-093 and Li-008, had managed to survive and complete their mission to rescue Vice Admiral Danforth Whitcomb from HIGHCOM. Too late to reach CASTLE base, they hid in the mountains attacking Covenant units with the use of guerrilla tactics as opposed to a conventional assault. They programmed their Mjolnir suits to transmit the "Oly Oly Oxen Free" secret code on E-Band radio, hoping that any surviving SPARTANs would discover it and help them.
Meanwhile, underneath the ruins of CASTLE base, Dr. Halsey and 5 SPARTANs (Fred; Kelly; Will; Vinh and Issac) had spent 5 days combing the remains of a Forerunner structure and an additional 5 days trapped in a hallway inside the ruins by Covenant forces. They managed to retrieve a Forerunner Crystal that the Covenant were seeking, but it emitted a burst of radiation which alerted the Covenant to their presence. Vinh and Issac fell at the hands of overwhelming Covenant forces, and the others escaped by blowing the hallway down behind them.
After the survivors were recovered by Ascendant Justice, a Covenant Flagship captured by John-117 after the Battle of Installation 04, the ship drew a group of Covenant vessels out of the system in pursuit to Eridanus secundus, leading to the destruction of the asteroid colony, and the destruction of the artifact and the recovery of a small number of pieces by the Covenant. Also, the Ascendant Justice destroyed around sixteen Covenant warships during the escape in Slipspace and at the rebel base.
List of Detailed Engagements
- Raid on Visegrád Relay
- Battle of Sword Base
- Battle of Viery
- Operation: UPPER CUT
- Raid on New Alexandria
- Raid on Sword Base
- Battle of Aszod
- Main article: Fall of Reach/Timeline
- Main article: Fall of Reach/Participants
The Fall of Reach was one of the largest deployments of troops and hardware for either side. At least 58,000 land assets were at Reach at the time of the invasion. Over 152 UNSC Naval assets were utilized in the battle. Several notable people of both the Covenant and the UNSC were at the battle. This includes Thel 'Vadam, John-117, Hieronymus Michael Stanforth, Catherine Halsey, and Edward Buck.
- In Halo 3: ODST, on a wall in the level Mombasa Streets, "Remember Reach" is written as a rallying cry to the people of Earth, similar to the 19th century Texan Revolution cry: "Remember the Alamo." The slogan is also the name of a Halo: Reach marketing campaign.
- The Fall of Reach has often been compared to the attack on Pearl Harbor. An example of this is when Chief Petty Officer McRobb compares Reach to Pearl Harbor. He remembers that Pearl Harbor, too, was once thought too strong to attack, and resolves not to let his lack of attentiveness allow the Covenant to surprise the Reach defenders. However, there are lots of differences. As example, Pearl Harbour didn't weakened much the US military, but Reach was the opposite, and Pearl Harbour was the beginning of a war, and Reach's fall was almost the ending.
- At the time of the invasion, at least one hurricane was raging on the surface of Reach.
- Halo 2
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- Halo: Reach
- Halo: The Fall of Reach (First appearance)
- Halo: The Flood (Mentioned only)
- Halo: First Strike
- Halo: Ghosts of Onyx (Mentioned only)
- Halo: Evolutions - Essential Tales of the Halo Universe
- Halo Legends
- i love bees
- Bungie.net: CAA Factbook
- Halo: The Fall of Reach, pages 295-297
- Halo: The Fall of Reach, page 240
- Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 173
- Halo: The Fall of Reach - page ??
- Halo: Reach - ViDoc: A Spartan Will Rise
- Halo Encyclopedia, page 198
- Halo Official Timeline
- Halo 3 - Promotional Material: Believe (Magazine Ad)
- Halo 2 Limited Collector's Edition - Bonus Item: Conversations from the Universe
- Halo 3: ODST - Easter Egg: ONI Memorial
- Data Drop 2
- Data Drop 3
- Halo: The Fall of Reach 2010 Edition - Page 251
- Halo Encyclopedia - Page 208 - The Fall of Reach
- Halo: Reach - Level: Winter Contingency
- Halo: Reach - Level: ONI Sword Base
- Halo: Reach - Level: Nightfall
- Halo: Reach - Level: Tip of the Spear
- Halo: Reach - Level: Long Night of Solace
- Halo: Reach - Level: New Alexandria
- Halo: Reach - Level: Exodus
- Halo: Reach - Level: The Package
- Data Drop 5
- Halo: The Fall of Reach 2010 Edition - Pages 327-332
- Halo: The Fall of Reach 2010 Edition - Pages 335-336
- Halo: The Fall of Reach 2010 Edition - Page 343
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- Halo: The Fall of Reach 2010 Edition - Chapter 36
- Halo Encyclopedia - Page 208 - August 30
- Halo: The Fall of Reach – Page 300
- Halo: The Fall of Reach 2010 Edition - Page 348-349
- Halo: The First Strike 2010 Edition - Pages 14-21,
- Halo: The First Strike 2010 Edition - Pages 31-38
- Halo: The First Strike 2010 Edition - Chapter 4
- Halo: The First Strike 2010 Edition - Chapter 12,
- Halo: The First Strike 2010 Edition - Pages 145-146,
- Halo: The Fall of Reach 2010 Edition - Chapters 34-35, 37
- Halo: Reach - Level: The Pillar of Autumn
- Halo: Reach - Level: Lone Wolf
- Halo: First Strike – Pages 104-105
- Halo: The Fall of Reach p. 290
- Bungie.net - Jason Jones Interviewed By You
- Halo: Reach - Description: MJOLNIR Mark VI
- Halo Legendary Crate - Bonus Item: First Twelve Hours
- Halo: The First Strike 2010 Edition - Chapter 19
- Halo: The First Strike 2010 Edition - Chapters 13-15
- Halo: First Strike, page 339
- Halo: The First Strike 2010 Edition - Chapters 18, 20-30,
- Halo: Reach = Level: Noble Actual
- Halo 2 - Level: The Heretic
- Halo Waypoint: Universe - Michael Stanforth
- Halo: The Fall of Reach, page 283