|First Battle of Harvest|
Covenant religious crisis
Covenant culture and society was founded on the belief that they were the chosen of the Forerunner. Piety was partially demonstrated by the "Reclamation" of ancient, and supposedly holy, artifacts. A query in 2525 to an ancient Forerunner AI concerning the large number of "relics" on a world as-yet unvisited by the Covenant revealed a critical flaw in Covenant belief; "Reclamation" was a mistranslation of "Reclaimer", the "relics" on the world were humans, and that humans were the Forerunner's chosen inheritors.
This information was restricted to only a few in Covenant leadership. They realized the public knowledge would shake the foundations of the polity and potentially destroy it. Those privy to the information moved to prevent catastrophe. They seized control of the Covenant and used their new powers to declare a war of extermination on humanity. The first target was the world that the Forerunner AI had been consulted about: the UEG colony world of Harvest.
- Main article: Skirmish over Harvest
First contact between the Covenant and humanity involved a number of raids on civilian cargo ships in the Epsilon Indi system by a Covenant missionary ship, the Minor Transgression. The raider made a scan of Harvest before being intercepted and destroyed.
Following quickly on Minor Transgression's heels was the Covenant cruiser, Rapid Conversion. The cruiser's commander, the Jiralhanae War Chieftain and Shipmaster Maccabeus, was ordered to glass the colony. However, the pious Maccabeus opted to delay this in order to search for relics first. This put him in conflict with Tartarus, his more zealous nephew.
The Covenant arrives
On February 3, 2525, Tiara, Harvest's orbital station, detected Rapid Conversion entering the system on long range sensors; the cruiser registered as an unknown object but determined the ship was constructed of materials beyond human science.
The Covenant were not immediately hostile and a peaceful meeting on the surface was arranged. The humans were represented by Attorney General Rol Pedersen and members of the Colonial Militia of Harvest, including its commander, Captain Ponder. Maccabeus arrived at the head of a group of Jiralhanae and Unggoy. The meeting went sour prematurely when an overeager Unggoy attacked and killed Private Osmo. Pedersen was killed, while Staff Sergeants Nolan Byrne and Avery Johnson escaped with a severely wounded Ponder. Maccabeus was wounded by Johnson from a Warthog.
Tartarus used Maccabeus' refusal to glass the colony outright, and his shameful wounding at the hands of Johnson, as reason to challenge his superior's leadership. Tartarus killed Maccabeus in a duel and assumed command.
Governor Nils Thune issued an order for all colonists to be assembled in Utgard, the capital, for immediate evacuation. Many chose not to leave and were killed in the subsequent ground battle and glassing. A week after the evacuation order Covenant forces destroyed the outer city of Gladsheim. ONI Lieutenant Commander Jilan al-Cygni assumed command of military forces and the evacuation plan was finalized on February 23.
Captured intelligence revealed the Covenant's interest in artifacts and relics to the militia. A mortally wounded Ponder used a fake Oracle to lure the Covenant cruiser into the sights of the colony's Mass driver. The ship was disabled after two rounds and crashed. In the ensuing confusion and lifting of Covenant air superiority, a militia strike team secured Tiara. 360 refugee-laden cargo freighters ascended the space elevator to the station and prepared to flee into Slipspace; unfortunately - due to superior capabilities of the Covenant - 145 freighters were destroyed before they could escape.
During the following months, the Rapid Conversion's crew repaired the ship and steadily continued the glassing of Harvest, gradually destroying the JOTUN automatons in which the remnants of the AI Mack were housed.
The Colonial Military Administration dispatched CMA Argo to investigate the cessation of communications from Harvest - expecting insurrectionist - and the scout ship arrived in system on April 20, 2525. The AI Mack unsuccessfully attempted to warn Argo of the enemy presence. The scout ship managed to send a single signal before being destroyed by the Rapid Conversion. A single Covenant battleship arrived some time later and remained in the system to face any future investigation parties sent in by the CMA.
Argo was followed up by a CMA battlegroup consisting of the destroyer CMA Heracles, and the frigates CMA Arabia and CMA Vostok. Captain Maribeau Veredi of Heracles commanded the formation. The ships arrived in Epsilon Indi on October 7 and encountered the same Covenant ship. The Covenant ship responded to first contact protocols by broadcasting the message: Your destruction is the will of the gods, and we are their instrument, and then opened fire.
The CMA battlegroup was soundly defeated in an engagement lasting fourteen seconds. Covenant Point Defense Lasers intercepted many Archer Missiles with the remainder being shrugged off by shields. Plasma Torpedoes and lasers destroyed both frigates and heavily damaged the Heracles; the destroyer managed to escape but took several weeks to limp back to Reach.
- Main article: Second Battle of Harvest
With the failure of the initial counter-attack, the Covenant were left in de facto control of Harvest. However, the UNSC was not content with this state of affairs and returned with a larger fleet in 2526 to retake the devastated world, eventually reclaiming it over a five-year campaign.
- Halo: The Fall of Reach (First appearance)
- Halo: Contact Harvest
- Halo Wars (Mentioned only)
- Halo Wars: Genesis
- Halo: Evolutions - Essential Tales of the Halo Universe
- Dirt (Mentioned only)
- The Impossible Life and the Possible Death of Preston J. Cole