In the last article, we went over the events of Halo 3: ODST, which run concurrently to the events of Halo 2.
Complete Halo timeline series
In this one, we're moving back to Halo 2 and covering the latter half of the game's story, looking specifically at the events that led up to a brutal, bloody, and tension-driven civil war that ended up tearing the faction apart.
October 20, 2552 CE (Current Era): The Arbiter attacks Sesa 'Refumee
On October 20, Arbiter Thel 'Vadamee embarked on his mission to assassinate Sesa "Refumee, who was holed up at a gas mine on the planet Threshold. In addition to 'Vadamee, Special Operations Commander Rtas 'Vadumee also went along to provide support, which mainly consisted of lances of Special Operations troops. Under the cover of a severe storm, the strike team covertly landed outside of the facility and hacked their way past the doors.
Once inside, The Arbiter and his allies utilized their armor's active camouflage capabilities to stealthily kill or avoid 'Refumee's soldiers as they chased after him. The strike team finally managed to catch up to 'Refumee, but not fast enough; 'Refumee was able to flee to a different area of the facility in a Banshee aircraft. The Arbiter stole a Banshee of his own and gave chase, eventually finding 'Refumee's new hiding place and waiting for reinforcements.
When the strike team entered, however, they found a disturbing sight: the Flood. Out of desperation, 'Refumee released Flood forms in the facility that the Forerunners had collected for study long ago, and they began to engage both the Arbiter's forces and his own. The chaotic situation bought him enough time to reach a shielded part of the gas mine that the Arbiter could not breach. In order to force him out, the Arbiter used his energy sword to cut the station's cables that held it in the air, thus causing the entire facility to go into a free fall.
The plan worked, and 'Refumee once more fled from his location in a Banshee to a hangar that contained an escape ship. However, the Arbiter and his forces were able to get to him in time to stop him. With nowhere else to go, 'Refumee tried to explain what he had learned from 343 Guilty Spark about the Prophets and their lies to the Arbiter, but the situation ultimately ended in bloodshed and 'Refumee was slain. The Covenant forces captured Guilty Spark shortly after.
November 2, 2552 CE: Master Chief assassinates the Prophet of Regret
Two weeks after fleeing the Battle of Earth, the Prophet of Regret and his crew exit their slipspace portal at Installation 05, another Halo ring. They were unaware that the Master Chief and his allies followed them through it in their own ship. As the Covenant landed on the ring, the UNSC launched a surprise blitz attack on them while they had their guard down. While Miranda Keyes and Sergeant Johnson began searching for the Installation's Library so they could get its Index and prevent the Covenant from using it, Master Chief and a large contingent of ODSTs and Marines, began an offensive push towards Regret. As he tried to retreat, Regret sent a message to the Prophet of Truth to apologize for his rash attack on Earth, and to ask for reinforcements. The Prophet of Regret's Honor Guard Sangheili and other Covenant forces managed to take out most of the Master Chief's Marine support, but the Chief himself successfully assassinated the Prophet of Regret.
Shortly after, the Covenant reinforcements arrived in the form of the holy city of High Charity and its fleet. Realizing they were too late to save Regret, the reinforcements tried to kill Master Chief by glassing the area. The Chief managed to escape death by leaping into a nearby lake, but as he did, a mysterious creature used tentacles to capture him.
However, what nobody knew was that the Prophet of Truth intentionally held the reinforcements off just long enough to let Master Chief kill Regret. The reason he did this was two-fold: he wanted to steal power within the Covenant, and he also wanted an excuse to demote the Sangheili and have the Jiralhanae replace them as the Covenant's primary warrior race. This was because the Jiralhanae were blindly faithful and wouldn't ask questions, while the Sangheili were more intelligent and might discover the truth about the Great Journey being false. By allowing the Master Chief to kill Regret, Truth made the Sangheili look like failures to the wider Covenant Empire, even though they likely would have killed Master Chief is the reinforcements got through.
The Arbiter finds the Index
After Arbiter Thel 'Vadamee returned from his assassination mission, he was given a new mission by the Prophets: finding the Index to Installation 05, or the "Sacred Icon," as the Covenant called it. After interrogating 343 Guilty Spark, the Covenant learned that they would need both the Index and a human in order to activate the ring and usher in the Great Journey. While the Arbiter still lived, the Prophets decided to make use of him. Before leaving, though, the Arbiter noticed that the Jiralhanae were ordered to replace the Sangheili as the Honor Guard protectors of the Prophets... just as Truth had planned. This marked the beginning of the rising tensions within the Covenant.
The Arbiter landed near the location of the Library only to find out that the Flood had broken out on this part of Installation 05, and were engaged with both the Installation's automated Sentinel defenses and Covenant ground forces. He made his way through the chaotic fighting, and together with several fellow Sangheili who were led by Rtas 'Vadumee, the Arbiter managed to find the Index. However, Sergeant Johnson and Miranda Keyes of the UNSC had managed to find it first. The Arbiter incapacitated both of the humans in close combat, but just as he was about to take the Index, he was ambushed by Tartarus, the Chieftain of the Jiralhanae.
Before blasting him down a large nearby hole, Tartarus triumphantly explained to the Arbiter that the Prophet of Truth had ordered the Jiralhanae to slaughter the Sangheili and that he had outlasted his usefulness. As the Arbiter fell, he was saved by the same mysterious creature who had captured the Master Chief. Sergeant Johnson and Miranda Keyes were captured by Tartarus, who knew that their DNA would be needed if the ring was going to be activated.
The Gravemind helps Master Chief and the Arbiter
Both the Master Chief and the Arbiter awoke to find themselves held by the Flood Gravemind, which had formed due to the severity of the outbreak on Installation 05. The Gravemind pointed out that despite the fact that everyone in the room was an enemy with each other, none of them would survive if the ring was activated like the Covenant was planning. Therefore, it proposed a plan: both Master Chief and the Arbiter would search likely locations that the Index was located. Using teleportation technology that was gained by capturing Installation 05's Monitor, the Gravemind sent the two warriors on their way.
The Master Chief was sent to High Charity, directly into the throne room of the Prophets of Truth and Mercy. The Prophets were evacuated by their guards, but Chief was able to defeat the enemies that engaged him. As he and Cortana searched for the Index, they discovered something they weren't expecting: Sangheili and Jiralhanae fighting each other, with the various other Covenant races taking sides with one or the other. Truth's plan to eradicate the Sangheili had fully begun, marking the beginning of the Covenant's Great Schism. In addition, the ship that the UNSC came to the ring with became infected by the Flood on the nearby Installation 05 and crashed into High Charity. The Flood began to spread, adding to the already-hectic situation.
Unable to find the Index, Cortana devised a plan: if the Index was used to activate the ring, she would hack into the Flood-controlled UNSC vessel and detonate its engine reactors to blow up High Charity and part of Installation 05, preventing it from firing just like she did with Installation 04. Chief, meanwhile, would chase after the fleeing Prophets in an effort to kill them. This meant that Chief had to leave Cortana behind.
As the Prophets prepared to head to Earth in their Forerunner Dreadnought and link up with the fleet that Truth sent there during the events of Halo 3: ODST, the Flood attacked them. Though the Jiralhanae killed most of the Flood forms, one of them managed to latch onto the Prophet of Mercy and attack him. Truth ordered the others to stand down and allow Mercy to be killed, thus giving him complete control over the Covenant. Then, he gave the Index to Tartarus and ordered him to activate the ring and start the Great Journey.
By the time Master Chief arrived, Truth and his guards had already boarded their ship and were preparing to take off. Thankfully, though, he was able to get aboard himself just before the vessel left.
The Arbiter stops Tartarus
The Arbiter was teleported to a forest near the Control Room of Installation 05. Shortly after his arrival, he noticed Tartarus taking the Index and the captured humans into the facility. Aware of what he needed to do, the Arbiter set out to stop Tartarus. Along the way, he linked up with several Sangheili, Unggoy, and Mgalekgolo, and together they all began to execute the Jiralhanae for their willingness to begin the Covenant civil war. It is during this time that he finally concluded that everything Sesa 'Refumee had told him was right: the Great Journey was a lie, and the Sangheili had been too blind to see it for years and years.
The Arbiter had a problem, though: the Control Room had a heavily armored door that couldn't be broken by any of the weapons that he or his allies had. However, his forces had actually killed the Jiralhanae who were guarding Sergeant Johnson, which gave him and his Marines enough time to board a nearby Scarab walker and take control of it. The Sangheili and humans forged an alliance out of necessity; the Arbiter protected Johnson's Scarab with a Banshee so that he could use the Scarab's weapons to blast down the Control Room door. Once this was done, the two of them went into the facility.
Tartarus and his troops were attempting to force Miranda Keyes to activate the ring with the Index, but the arrival of the Arbiter surprised him, as he thought he was dead. Arbiter offered Tartarus a hand of truce since he was well aware that the Jiralhanae had been manipulated into believing the Great Journey just as the Sangheili were, but Tartarus cast it aside. With no other option left, the Arbiter and his allies killed Tartarus and his troops, thus eliminating the threat of the Halo ring. 343 Guilty Spark, who Tartarus had brought along, explained that because the firing process for the ring had begun but was stopped, all of the other rings were put into standby mode and that they could be activated from one place: The Ark.
Though the threat of Installation 05 was eliminated, the Great Schism continued to rage on. Sangheili, Jiralhanae, and the Flood all battled on in High Charity. Eventually, the Sangheili managed to gain the upper hand against the Jiralhanae due to their superior tactics. However, the Flood threat was seemingly unstoppable from the ground, so the Sangheili retreated to their space vessels and formed a naval blockade around the now Flood-infested High Charity to prevent infection from spreading. A contingent of Sangheili ships were dispatched to Installation 05 in order to glass it and prevent the Flood there from spreading as well.
However, the Sangheili's victory was only a small one. Truth and his fleet of loyal Jiralhanae were at Earth, and they were searching for something that had the potential to lead them to the Ark ...
What do you think of the rest of the story of Halo 2? Let me know, and feel free to ask questions about things you don't understand or are curious about in the comments. Halo 2 is a massively complex game that's simply impossible to summarize effectively without going into extreme detail, so if there's anything more specific you would like to know, I am more than happy to help.
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Halo: The Master Chief Collection (opens in new tab) ($30 at Microsoft)
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Halo Wars 2 (opens in new tab) ($40 at Microsoft)
Halo Wars 2 is arguably the best real-time strategy title on Xbox One, offering players a wealth of incredibly satisfying, Halo-themed content.
Halo 5: Guardians (opens in new tab) ($20 at Microsoft)
Halo 5: Guardians is the latest Halo first-person shooter title, and it's got plenty of good content within that most players will have a good time with.
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These plot summaries you do for Halo are terrific. It's such a complex expanded universe that even fans of the games, books, and shows like me have a hard time following it all. Your breakdowns help immensely.
I'm really happy to hear that!
Truth! I do not Regret, for one second, reading all of the Halo Timeline series... ; ) But seriously, excellent work once again! There's so much content in the Halo universe, that these summaries are invaluable to me.
Thanks for making this! Good work btw. You know when Reach Remastered is coming out for xbox. Last I heard they have the Xbox version running ready for flight but the PC version is holding them back. I'm guessing no news on that?
Not as of now!
Thanks for another great article, Brendan. I'm sure sometime between now and when Chief follows Truth to the Ark you'll give some more detail on what happens after the battle at Installation 05, including Cortana's interrogation and trickery, how the single flood ship breaks the blockade and how High Charity eventually gets to the Ark. I don't know much about this period, is there a book or comic series that can get me caught up?
Apologies for the late reply - I will touch on these things in the Halo 3 installment. As for media to read regarding these, you'll want to pick up a copy of Halo: Evolutions, Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, and the comic book series Halo: Uprising. Evolutions has a short story in it called "Human Weakness" that deals with Cortana's experience with the Gravemind. Ghosts of Onyx doesn't exactly give you what you're looking for regarding the blockade, but it does go into detail about how the Sangheili set that defense line up in the first place and also expands on the Schism in general. Lastly, the Uprising comics are centered around Chief while he rides back to Earth with Truth on the Forerunner Dreadnought ship after Halo 2's ending. For general post-Halo 2 details I also recommend Halo: Broken Circle and Halo: Shadow of Intent. These books primarily aren't focused on the Schism itself, but it is a part of the stories, and it all helps to contextualize the event we see in-game. Hope this helps!
Thanks Brenda, just now seeing this. I've seem Uprising, the others are on my list.