Halo timeline: The Battle of Earth and the birth of an Arbiter

In the last article, we covered the crucial discussion that took place between the Sangheili Sesa 'Refumee and 343 Guilty Spark after the events of Halo: Combat Evolved.

Complete Halo timeline series

In this one, we're going to go over the beginning of Halo 2, in which the Covenant arrive on Earth and the Sangheili that failed to protect Installation 04 is branded as Arbiter.

Prelude: A luminous discovery

In 2551, a small Covenant excavation team was able to uncover a Forerunner artifact in the depths of Meridian, a human colony world that was sacked by the Covenant. Understanding the object's significance, the team took the artifact to the Prophet of Regret, who realized that it contained information about the locations of Halo rings. San'Shyuum scientists spent over a year cracking open the artifact, and when they were done, they made a massive discovery.

Not only did the object (dubbed a "luminary" by Regret) reveal the locations of the rings, it also showed him a map to a place called The Ark, where all the Halo rings could be activated at once. However, in order to get there, they had to travel through a special portal that was located on the planet Forerunners called Erde-Tyrene. Seeing this as an opportunity to usher forward the Great Journey, Regret immediately departed for Erde-Tyrene with a small fleet.

October 20, 2552 CE (Current Era): Regret arrives at Earth

The Prophet of Regret's small fleet arrived at "Erde-Tyrene" as planned; however, the Covenant were unaware that the planet was also known as humanity's homeworld, Earth. Regret's forces, who were surprised, outnumbered, and outgunned, scrambled to try and find a way past Earth's massive orbital defense grid. They were able to do so by sending boarding craft to the orbital defense mass accelerator cannons (MACs) and planting explosives inside each one. This allowed Regret to land troops on the planet and begin searching for the portal to The Ark.

The Master Chief, who had recently returned from Installation 04, was able to successfully defend the MAC station Cairo from one such explosive. Afterward, he made his way down to the surface alongside Sergeant Avery Johnson and Captain Miranda Keyes to assist UNSC marines in repelling the Covenant invasion. Due to Master Chief's counter-attacks being largely successful, the Prophet of Regret decided to retreat to the newly-discovered Installation 05 — Delta Halo.

After having Chief picked up, Miranda Keyes was able to follow Regret's ship through its own slipspace field. Unfortunately, because of how many Covenant troops landed on Earth, the forces Regret left behind managed to capture the city of New Mombasa. This ultimately led to prolonged fighting between the UNSC and the Covenant in the days to come.

Thel 'Vadamee becomes the Arbiter

Despite the significance of the Battle of Earth, the rest of the Covenant had no idea it was happening because Regret didn't inform others. Instead, they were focused on another matter: the punishment of the Sangheili Thel 'Vadamee for failing to protect Installation 04. 'Vadamee, who led the Covenant fleets at Reach and Installation 04, was thwarted by Master Chief. Since the Covenant's Great Journey revolves around the Halo rings, the fact that 'Vadamee failed to keep one of them safe was considered an unforgivable failure.

For this, he was branded with the Mark of Shame, which removes all honor from a Sangheili's name. With his reputation in tatters, 'Vadamee was sentenced to death. The Prophet of Truth, though, offered him a deal: if he became the Arbiter and died in service of the Great Journey, his namesake would be restored and his honor returned. Shocked by the opportunity, 'Vadamee immediately accepted. His first mission as the Arbiter was to assassinate a heretic who dared question the word of the San'Shyuum — Sesa 'Refumee.

However, the focus of the next article will shift back to Earth, as a squad of UNSC Orbital Drop Shock Troopers, stranded in the Covenant-controlled city of New Mombasa, end up discovering crucial information that will give the UNSC a fighting chance to win the war ...

Your thoughts

What did you think of the beginning of the Battle of Earth and Thel 'Vadamee becoming the Arbiter? Let me know, and make sure to read our previous timeline articles if you haven't already.

Complete Halo timeline series

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.