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Battle for the Hephaestus Array

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Battle of Harpa

Battle for the Hephaestus Array
]]
Conflict:

Human-Covenant War

Date:

December 2nd, 2550

Place:

Endrin, Olmara System

Outcome:

UNSC Victory

  • Array destroyed
  • Covenant forces wiped out
Combatants

United Nations Space Command

Insurrectionist Rebels

Covenant Empire

Commanders
  • Unknown Shipmaster†
Strength
  • Hephaestus Array
  • Several thousand Insurrectionist fighters on the planet's surface
  • Jack-085
  • One Supercarrier
  • 3 cruisers
Casualties
  • Array destroyed
  • Most ground forces wiped out
  • Jack-085 presumed dead
  • All ships destroyed or immobilised
  [Source]


The Battle for the Hephaestus Array, also known as Operation: SWEEPOUT, was a massive engagement between UNSC, Insurrectionist, and Covenant Forces. In late November, 2550, several ships had disappeared in the area, and communication with the colony was lost. However, it was not until a shipment of prototype MJOLNIR armour had gone missing in the area that ONI had taken notice. They sent in Rear Admiral Kesson, along with Battle Group Tempest and the SPARTAN Sigma Team, to investigate. As the group drew closer to the planet Endrin, several small vessels began attacking, and all but one of them was quickly destroyed, the final one attempting to flee. As the UNSC Destroyer Livingston pursued it, the ship began to fly nto atmosphere. The Livingston was suddenly hit by seven individual MAC blasts, destroying it. On the other side of Endrin, a massive construct loomed. Rear Admiral Keeson then received a message from the structure warning them to surrender or face extermination.

Keeson made the choice not to negotiate, but to attack. The Battlegroup split into several parts, with three ships deploying Marines to the planet while the others attacking the Array from different directions. In an attempt to board the massive construct over forty pelicans were dispatched containing ODST's, along with three SPARTAN-II's. Though many dropships were destroyed by AA fire before they could reach the Array, most of the attack force arrived safely and boarded the station. Leading the assault were Jacob-076, Marco-025 and Wulf-041. The Spartans had volunteered for the mission not only because they would have the best chance of eliminating the enemy, but they also had a personal motive: They had recognised the voice of the Insurrectionist leader as one of their own. It was the traitor, Jack-085. The three Spartans were able to infiltrate the Array, along with a small contingent of ODST's, and fight their way to the control centre, which was directing the MAC fire at the UNSC Fleet.

Once there, they came under attack from Jack, who was using the stolen MJOLNIR suit to enhance his abilities in combat. As a platoon of soldiers stormed the room, Jack fought Jacob in hand-to-hand combat for some time as the battle raged across the room. Though the soldiers were easily defeated, the rogue Spartan was pushed back, acquiring a missile launcher that he fired at the others, wounding Jacob-076 before retreating. Marco and Wulf pursued Jack, who had boarded a Longsword fighter, and followed him to Endrin in a pelican, whereupon he was shot down by UNSC ships. By this point, a small group of Covenant ships arrived, forcing the UNSC and Insurrectionist forces to divert their attention towards this new foe. Though the Array could not fire it's weapons in a single, coordinated strike any more, the crews of the individual ships could fire upon the enemy independently, damaging the enemy fleet as it engaged the humans. On the planet, Marco and Wulf came across the crash site, where they were ambushed again by Jack, who knocked out Wulf and engaged Marco for some time, neither one being able to gain an advantage.

The badly wounded Jacob-076, who had been joined by Amy-133, piloted the damaged Array on a collision course with the Covenant Supercarrier that was decimating the fleet. It impacted with the ship, the Array being obliterated and taking most of the Covenant ships. Due to the array's near-total destruction and no bodies being recovered, it was assumed that both Spartans perished, Amy and Jacob being declared Missing in Action following the battle. The destruction of the Array, which was seen by Jack and Marco from Endrin's surface, led to the former fleeing as years of careful work and planning were incinerated; his master plan had quite literally fallen to pieces, causing a major mental breakdown as he ran towards the site of the Array's landing.. Though he watched his former friend run off Marco did not pursue him, reviving Wulf and hailing Nef-015 to pick them up in a Pelican. They were extracted to the UNSC Bright New Day, the only remaining ship out of the entire battlegroup.

Aftermath

The battle was a costly one, with almost the entire battlegroup being destroyed. Both the Array and the Covenant fleet had been destroyed due to the sacrifice of Jacob-076 and Amy-133, the first members of Sigma Team to die in the war. Marco and Wulf, who had survived their encounter with Jack, neglected to report that their former comrade had been the insurrectionist leader, declaring that whoever was in charge had been killed when his longsword crashed. The Spartans shared the news with the rest of the team, most of them being sure that Jack had died when wreckage from the Array hit the planet. The loss of two SPARTAN-II's in a single battle was still a heavy blow for the UNSC due to their effectiveness and the astronomical costs needed to maintain the soldiers.

The former Spartan Jack-085 would end up surviving his battle with Marco-025, and wandered aimlessly across the ruined landscape as pieces of his Array fell around him. After some time spent wandering through the ruins, he fell into an abandoned mineshaft from Endrin's early colonisation and was fatally injured by both the fall and pieces of burning metal from the Array's remnants. Some time later, Jack was resuscitated and given a second chance at life by Simon Petrovich and the Omega Group.

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