388px-First Strike

Halo: First Strike was the third halo novel ever to be released and was released shortly after Halo: The Flood. It is based on the events inbetween Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2. They are straight after the ending of Halo CE. It is based straight after the previous novel. It was, like Fall of Reach and The Flood rereleased with content repairs.

Halo: First Strike is the third book in the Halo Main Book Series. It is written by Eric Nylund.

Halo: First Strike


Eric Nylund


Del Rey Books

Date Released:

December 2,2003


352 pages




The following prices apply







Detailed Plot SummaryEdit

The Prologue begins during Chapter 38 of Halo: The Fall of Reach. Captain Keyes is giving Master Chief the mission to secure the NAV Data from the UNSC Circumference. Fred-104 is made leader of Red Team and ordered to take the other Spartan II's, Kelly, Josh and Will down to Reach's surface to defend the MAC Gun Generator's powering the Super MAC's above.

The narrative then follows Red Team as they ride a Pelican down to the surface, but are forced to make a supersonic hard landing to the ground after the pilot gets hit by plasma fire from a Seraph-class starfighter. The impact kills another four spartans and leaves others seriously injured. Most lose their weapons and ammunition, Fred-104 and Kelly-084 improvise using rocks until they are able to police the covenant weapons, from a group of jackals they kill. The Spartans then group up with the remaining four marines of Charlie Company. The Marines summarize how the battle has gone, saying that they were the only ones who survived the battle at that point.

Vice Admiral Danforth Whitcomb contacts Fred and orders him and the spartans to extract him and his staff claiming that he has the current officer in charge of the defense of Reach. Fred takes Kelly-084 and Josh-029 on a mission to destroy a large covenant camp in a valley near the bunker Charlie Company once occupied. Taking three banshees, they deliver a Fury-Tactical Nuke into a Covenant Warship above the camp. Josh's banshee slipped under enemy fire described as large needler rounds and is prusumed dead. Fred and Kelly complete the mission without complications. The Warship is then destroyed when the nuke goes off.

Despite their efforts, however, the Covenant manage to overrun the reactors on Reach. The Covenant Warships begin glassing Reach, even though they glassed only the poles. Fred, however, refusing to sit around and die comes up with a plan. He and Kelly take their captured banshees, they pick up Will and together they fly off.

It is now back to Sepember 23,2552 and concentrates on John hanging around the debris field of Installation 04 or Alpha Halo. He continuely keeps asking Cortana for updates but she repeats the same "Just Dust and Echoes, no survivors." A battle group of seven covenant warships including the Ascendant Justice enter the debris field, the only surviving ships of Thel's fleet. Cortana finds three cryo pods ejected from the Pillar of Autumn before it crashed into halo. While she moves the longsword towards the pods, she finds a UNSC Pelican with human survivors aboard. It's landed on a nearby asteriod. As the Chief retrieves the pods, and returns to the Interceptor, the pelican takes off and attacks a suspicious Covenant warship, diverting attention away from the longsword. The two small craft link up, the survivors jumping from the pelican into the longsword. The survivors are Sergeant Johnson, ODST Corporal Locklear, Warrant Officer Shiela Polaski and ONI Lieutenant Haverson. The Master Chief, having seen a video of Johnson getting infected, slams him into the bulkhead and aims his own pistol against Johnson's head, waiting for a explanation as to Johnson's survival. Johnson through his own words says that they "passed him up because he didn't taste too good." After confirming with Cortana, that he isn't infected he releases Johnson.

Together, the group manages to board the Ascendant Justice. They fight their way to the bridge and along the way they plug cortana into the vessel's computer network and she effectively kills most of the combat crew by decompressing most of the decks of the vessel. However, she learns that they're running out of time, as the fleet is a prelude to the entire covenant empire's arrival to the debris field. She means literally the entire Covenant EMPIRE. The group makes it to the bridge only to confront a Spec Ops Elite wielding an Energy Sword, whom John defeats with the help of Johnson and Locklear, sustaining only a slight injury. The defeat of the elite warrior allows the humans to gain complete control of the vessel. In the confusion, between the other vessels, the Ascendant Justice enters slipspace, escaping the debris field. The group argues about where to go next, but ultimately chief persuades them to return to Reach, where he feels his team is alive. Another reason is that the Cole Protocol forbids them to head for Earth. Haverson sends Johnson, Locklear and Polaski to the Pelican to get the gear left there. When they are at the Pelican, Johnson contacts John to tell him there is a Spartan in one of the cryo pods.

Meanwhile, back at Earth, UNSC High Command Facility Bravo-6 in Sydney, Leutenant Wagner briefs the UNSC Security Conucil on the destruction of Reach and concludes that they cannot try to retake the planet and must prepare for the final defense of Earth. All Spartans and vessels are assumed destroyed, though they know that the Pillar of Autumn escaped the ensuing destruction. Also revealed here is that Colonel James Ackerson, who was supposedly reassigned after the events of Halo: The Fall of Reach due to the actions of Cortana, has escaped reassignment and is serving on the Security Council. Ackerson appears almost gleeful that Reach had fallen, but crosses a line when he denounces the Spartans as "freaks" earning a firm rebuke from Admiral Lord Terrence Hood. General Strauss considers sending a recon unit to check for survivors, but Ackerson insists that any such mission would not only be suicidal, but pointless, as the Covenant would have left none.

The narrative then returns to Reach where Kelly, Fred and Will, after destroying the Covenant Ship, crash land their banshees into a pair of hunters, confusing one and disabling the other's gun. They then steal a pair of Wraiths, and blast their way into CASTLE Base under Menachite Mountain. There they meet up with the surviving Spartans of Delta Team, including Isaac-039, Vinh-030 and Bill-078, all injured. They meet up with Dr.Halsey, who treats their injuries, and sends them to retrieve some new weapons-the BR55 Battle Rifle and the M6C Magnum sidearm.

At the lab, Dr.Halsey discovers Colonel Ackerson's plans, which her extensive lists on "Her Spartans," a star chart reference, and a third file labeled "KING UNDER THE MOUNTAIN." Before she can access these, however, a UNSC AI named Araqiel appears and attempts to stop her by threatening to kill her or the Spartans.Halsey destroys the AI by using a Bypass she herself programmed, but her personal AI expresses concern. The Covenant discover and invade the base, and the Spartans and Halsey escape into the old titanium mines located under the base, right before her personal AI sacrifices herself to save them by setting off bombs strapped to the base, killing all the Covenant forces inside. However, they have no way of escaping. With no other options, the Spartans and Halsey venture deeper into the Mine.

In the Tunnels, the Spartans receive armor upgrades and Fred discovers several symbols which ultimately opens a huge tunnel that leads into an even larger room. In the center of the room, they find a Crystal. The Spartans and Halsey find that if they walk straight towards it, it will bend the space around them and, if brought in slipspace, would allow them to travel further using the same amount of energy used in the same vessel. They retrieve the crystal, but the Covenant finds them due to emission of radiation from the Crystal. The Covenant lands troops inside the giant room using a reversed gravity lift, forcing the humans to retreat. Fred orders Isaac and Vinh to stay behind to form a rearguard action, but Isaac and Vinh are overwhelmed and slaughtered. The remaining spartans and Halsey's continue to flee through the tunnels, but as the Covenant pursue them, they run into a dead end.

Meanwhile, in space headed for Reach, Chief and Cortana, along with the last remaining survivors of the Alpha Halo debris field including Sergeant Johnson, find the severely injured Linda-058 in a cryo tube. The others contained marines but they died due to cryotube malfunction. While in the Longsword the Master Chief strips off some pieces from the craft to reinforce the armor of a hijacked Spirit Dropship they are going to use to get on the planet's surface. As they walk into the hangar of the Ascendant Justice, Master Chief and Johnson witness Polaski practising how to drive a Covenant Dropship. As they enter the Epsilon Eridani System, they see what has happened to Reach after the Covenant Fleet glassed the planet. They move their hijacked Flagship closer as they notice that, during the glassing of Reach, the Covenant "missed" a spot. The small fleet-consisting of a dozen crusiers, two assault carriers and three squadrons of Seraphs- ask why a Flagship's presence is required at Reach. While on the ship, the survivors hear a UNSC E-band transmission (the transmission says "Oly Oly Oxen Fee") which is the Blue Team anthem, created by John and Sam. Chief instantly recognizes it. It flashes back to July 24, 2523, as a memory reviews the spartans of the future Blue Team are playing Capture the Flag against Tango Company. The Teenage spartans achieve victory- despite Tango Company's use of live-fire rounds. To state the all clear to take the flag, Sam whispers "Oly Oly Oxen Fee."

Going back to the modern date, The Asendant crew debate on whether they should go down to Reach's surface in the reinforced Spirit. Cortana looks around to see a spot which can be a extraction point to pick up the people going down to Reach. On the way down, cruisers start to surround them in their dropship, but ultimately let them pass. While Cortana continues to explore the ship's systems, the Covenant AI of the ship manages to temporialy gain control of the coms and alerts the Covenant Fleet of the Flagship's hijacking. Although Cortana is able to destroy the AI, her cover is blown, ans she destroys a few of the enemy cruisers before she flees into slipspace. The humans find canyon, with some movement on it, The Chief wanders out alone to see if there is a trap. Haverson backs him up. At the bottom of the ramp Chief senses a single signal. There is no friend or foe tag indicating who it belonged to, so the chief proceeded with caution. The Chief draws his pistol, only to lower it discovering it is Anton-044 who had disabled his FoF tag so the Covenant wouldn't discover his location. He leads the Master Chief to the entrance to the cavern, where two spartans, Grace-093 and Li-008 were, both operating chainguns that were bolted to the side of boulders. John and Anton, followed by Grace, enters the cavern. Inside, Admiral Whitcomb was standing at a foldout card table, which has the headquarters for Camp Independence.

Admiral Whitcomb asks why Chief was there, instead of being with Captain Keyes doing the covenant homeworld mission. The Chief told him about the events on halo, and while he was telling the story, Haverson and the others from the Dropship arrived. Haverson asks Whitcomb how he is alive, and the Admiral tells Haverson that while everyone was evacuating, he stayed behind because the UNSC was working on a new bomb called the NOVA Bomb, which posseses enough explosive force to destroy a planet. Whitcomb armed the NOVA Bomb's with failsafe tampering detonators and a countdown timer. Whitcomb had a team of marines, Charlie Company, to help arm the NOVA's, but they were wiped out, but he then saw Red Team on coded COM and "asked" to borrow a few spartans, who armed the NOVA's and since had given the Covenant trouble with hit-and-run exercises.

The rest of the Red Team is still trapped underground in the tunnels beneath the mountain in the now destroyed CASTLE facility. The group uses the Covenant Dropship to rescue Red Team. They find a Covenant Force of a few elites, Jackals and a contingent of grunts trying to reach red team under the rubble. They land the dropship half a kilometer away and later destroy the covenant forces. Fred, Kelly, Will, A spartan named Bill and Dr.Halsey emerge from the rubble, with two spartan bodies behind them. The bodies belong to Isaac and Vinh. Whitcomb asks if that was everyone and Fred replies with a yes. Before they can leave, they are instantly surrounded by thousands of Covenant Troops. Grunts, Jackals, Elites and several pairs of hunters. They cover all twelve levels of the Room. To announce their attack, the Hunters give a battle cry and all covenant soldiers open fire on the group. In the firefight, Bill is hit by 5 Fuel Rod hits and is blown to pieces and killed.

Back in space, Ascendant Justice emerges from slipspace into a frozen Oort cloud to hide from the Covenant Fleet pursuing it. They now know Ascendant's true purpose at Reach. Cortana eavesdrops on the Covenant Battlenet and listens to their chatter, using the particles left behind by the destroyed Covenant Seeker AI to help. Cortana discovers the Covenant Fleet's next target is earth. With a fleet of it's size, it would overwhelm the UNSC Home Fleet.

As it turns out, the shots weren't meant for them, but for the hunters as they almost destroyed the crystal which the covenant want intact. However, 2 fuel rod shots hit Kelly and incapacitate her. The Covenant advance upon the group. Whitcomb signals for Polaski to pick them up and they get whisked out in the nick of time. However, while going up the Grav lift, the Covenant begin to reverse it's pularrization. It pushes them down. When Li opens the door to fire the jackhammer rockets up the shaft, Dr.Halsey's crystal changes shape and completely disables the Grav Lift. Once they exit the tunnel, the crystal returns to normal.

In the Ascendant Justice, Cortana uses Engineers to combine the Covenant ship with a another ship. This ship being the abandoned UNSC Gettysburg as she needs two reactors to make a manaveur. She jumps into slipspace, and jumps out right in the middle of the Covenant Fleet, at the rendevous point. The group on Reach get back to the Ascendant Justice/Gettysburg using the Covenant Dropship. However, when Cortana jumps into slipspace they don't enter normal slipspace, and they drag the Covenant Fleet with them. The Fleet, in absolute anger and confusion, opens fire on them. However, the shots do loops, curves and also teleport. They enter and exit reality and slipspace. During the fight, Elites who are still on the hijacked vessel, blow a hole in the hull. The Spartans and Polaski go out to repair it, but run into the Elites. They fight, but Polaski, Li and Anton are killed and Kelly is severely wounded. Locklear is devastated by Polaski's death, since he was in love with her. Desperate to escape, Cortana attempts to jump back into normal space. She succeeds, leaving the covenant pursuers half destroyed and trapped in slipspace. Seconds later, the slipspace field colapses, crushing the fleet. The Crystal caused it, making Halsey more obsessed with it.

In Ascendant Justice/Gettysburg, Halsey tells Chief that Linda will live. She then talks to him about Johnson and his survival against the Flood. She reveals that Johnson has Boren's Syndrome, the only known defense against the Flood. Johnson was a failed test subject in the SPARTAN I program. This makes all SPARTANS invincible to the Flood infection. After John leaves, Halsey and Cortana discuss the Crystal and what the Forerunners used it for. When her group found the crystal, Chief and his group were transported back in time.

For repairs, the group head to the Eridanus Secundus Asteriod Belt, home of the URF Resistance or Human Rebels. During not-too-friendly negotiations with Governor Jacob Jiles, leader of the URF, A Covenant ship drops out of slipspace and finds them due to the radiation emitted by the Crystal. Despite malfunctioning plasma turrets, the crew of Ascendant Justice/Gettysburg decide to engage it. When Cortana informs them that the magnetic coils used to shape the plasma aren't working, the Chief comes up with an idea to use the Magnetic coils of the Gettysburg's MAC Gun to shape it. During the fight, Halsey sedates Kelly with out her permission and kidnaps her. With the spartan sedated, Halsey hijacks the URF's Flagship, URF Betsy. Kelly, helpless is taken to Onyx by Halsey. Before Halsey leaves, she hands the Crystal to Locklear with the orders to destroy it before it falls into Covenant hands. Still devastated by the loss of his love, polaski, he plants C-7 on the crystal and destroys it, killing himself in the process.

While the crew of the Ascendant Justice/Gettysburg recover from the current change of events and are able to retrieve a few shards of the crystal, they have more important things on their mind: The Covenant's invasion of Earth. Cortana reveals that they are gathering a 500 ship fleet lead by the High Prophet of Regret, one of three leaders of the Covenant to prepare for Earth's invasion. They gather at a Covenant Shipyard/Space Station called the Unyielding Hierophant. The Chief comes up with a daring plan to blow up the station and put a massive dent in the enemy fleet. He and the Spartans will go to the station via the Covenant Dropship, inflitrate the station, and blow up the station's reactors. Meanwhile, Jacob Jiles and his asteriod base are destroyed by the Covenant Fleet. They will be aided by Cortana's planned subroutines.

The Spartans it to the station without incident, but are forced to take a detour through a temple complex. There, they encounter brutes for the first time. The Chief grapples with a Brute, and barely makes it out alive. Grace is then killed by Brutes with Brute Shots. After the fight with the Brutes, the Chief activates Grace's suits failsafe system, killing many Covenant in the process. They still manage to make it to the Reactors, which they successfully rig to explode. The Spartans's only have ten minutes to escape, so they commandeer three banshees with the help of Linda's excellent sniper fire. The Chief then rescues Linda from oncoming Covenant reinforcements. With the rest of the remaining spartans, they exit the station and head towards the backside of an unknown moon, but only see the Gettysburg when they made it back to the Ascendant Justice/Gettysburg's original location. The crew had taken the Ascendant Justice's slipspace drive and planted it on the Gettysburg. While Whitcomb and Haverson commandeer the Ascendant Justice and head straight for the Unyielding Hierophant. They notice the Covenant fleet trying to escape the station, but lured back towards it by the Ascendant Justice. They are lured by a fake hologram of the crystal. They then crash the Ascendant Justice into the center of the station, destroying both Ascendant Justice, the station and all the surrounding ships. The enemy fleet is left with a 485 ship gap in their fleet and leaves them with only 15 ships, not enough to take on the UNSC Home Fleet. The Five human survivors of the operation, John-117, Sergeant Johnson, Frederic-104, Linda-058, Will-043 and Cortana, all plot a course for Earth where they warn High Command of the impending invasion.

In the epilogue, it shows High Charity, the Covenant's "homecity" where it is located above the Alpha Halo debris field. Tartarus gives an orb containing shards of the Forerunner crystal to the High Prophet of Truth, another of the three leaders of the Covenant. Truth tells the chieftain to reward the survivors and then execute them silently for the Great Schism has secretly begun. Then he is order to punish Thel for the loss of halo, his fleet and Ascendant Justice. The book then concludes.


  • Master Chief Petty Officer John-117
  • Senior Chief Petty Officer Fred-104
  • Petty Officer Second Class Kelly-087
  • Petty Officer Second Class Linda-058
  • Petty Officer Second Class Will-043
  • Petty Officer Second Class Bill-078
  • Petty Officer Second Class Li-008
  • Petty Officer Second Class Vinh-030
  • Petty Officer Second Class Isaac-039
  • Petty Officer Second Class Anton-044
  • Petty Officer Second Class Grace-093
  • Petty Officer Second Class Joshua-029
  • Petty Officer Second Class James-redacted
  • Petty Officer Second Class Malcolm-059
  • Dr.Catherine Elizabeth Halsey
  • Flight Officer Mitchell
  • Cortana
  • Lysithea
  • Lieutenant Jake Chapman
  • Lieutenant Buckman
  • Governor Jacob Jiles
  • Lieutenant Wagner
  • Colonel James Ackerson
  • General Nicolas Strauss
  • Fleet Admiral Lord Terrence Hood
  • Vice Admiral Danforth Whitcomb
  • Lieutenant Elias Haverson
  • Petty Officer Second Class Shiela Polaski
  • Staff Sergeant Avery Junior Johnson
  • Corporal Locklear
  • Covenant Seeker AI
  • High Prophet of Truth
  • Chieftain of the Brutes Tartarus


  • The original cover for the book showed a split in his helmet. This was fixed later in development.
  • It was thought the surviving ships of the fleet were to attack earth, but they actually returned to High Charity and partcipated in the Second Battle of Earth.
  • The Longsword is referred to as a pelican. This error is fixed in the 2010 remake of the book.
  • The 2010 front cover shows a Spartan holding a Plasma Repeater, however this is never found in the book.
  • In the book it incorrectly states that Ghost's can fly. This could be confusion with Banshee's or a failure to ask Bungie.
  • The Master Chief activating Grace's failsafe is a reference to the Predators in Predator when they do the same action to a fallen comrade.


Main series
The Fall of Reach The FloodFirst StrikeGhosts of OnyxContact HarvestThe Cole Protocol
The Forerunner Saga
CryptumPrimordium Silentium
Kilo-Five series
Glasslands The Thursday War - One unannounced sequel -
The Art of Halo The Art of Halo 3Encyclopedia (2009)The Essential Visual GuideThe Art of Building Worlds