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The Battle of New Tyre, also called the Fall of New Tyre, was a major engagement in the early years of the. For decades New Tyre had been a battleground between the UNSC and various rebel and secessionist forces attempting to break away from the . Host to almost a dozen disparate rebel groups, three of which had exo-assets, the planet had become a major hotspot for the .
Shortly before the battle, conflict flared across the planet as the most prominent Insurrection faction on New Tyre, the United Independence Front, made their big gambit to capture the UNSC Illustrious, a Marathon-class heavy cruiser, and use it against the UNSC. The ensuing skirmish left both sides bloodied but intact. But the situation completely changed as a Covenant fleet entered the system.
The battle marked the first recorded incident of cooperation between the UNSC and the Insurrection against the Covenant as the UNSC and UIF allied to face the new threat. Through a combination of delicate planning, fortune, and self-sacrifice, their combined forces were able to successfully hold off the Covenant and ensure the complete evacuation of New Tyre.
Order of Battle
At 8:13 on May 13th, long-range scanners suddenly detected seventeen slipspace ruptures at the edge of the system. From them, a fleet of unidentified vessels emerged and their first act was the outright annihilation of the civilian space station Barbados and all two thousand lives aboard it. This slaughter was soon followed by numerous other outposts over the next several hours. Civilian freighters and vessels were also chased down and destroyed without mercy. The situation between the UNSC and rebels quickly changed as the new force encroached further into the system, slowly and methodically destroying any human life along the way, station by station and ship by ship. What few picket ships that were out there tried vainly to stop the Covenant fleet before they were destroyed by powerful energy-based weapons.
The UNSC fleet commander, Rear Admiral Jeriah Colt, knew what they faced and what little time they had and immediately turned his attention away from the rebels. Colt contacted the planetary government and made the first declaration ofand ordered to begin the total evacuation of New Tyre effective immediately. The Admiral prepared to deploy his fleet against the Covenant, however, with a mere twelve ships they were horribly outmatched and defeat was assured.
An Unlikely Alliance
- "Admiral, you know just as well as I that your fleet doesn't stand a chance against these things. This world is our home. If you fail then everyone on it, everyone we love and cherish...is forfeit. You need our help, Admiral. And I am willing to offer it, for the sake of our world."
- ―Nathan Hale, leader of the United Independence Front, to Admiral Colt
Colt would be surprised to be contacted by the UIF leader, General Nathan Hale. Hale contacted the UNSC Admiral and demanded to meet with him and in a surprising move offered his assistance in repelling the alien invaders. Colt was, of course, skeptical and questioned why he should trust a rebel, let alone one he was only moments ago fighting. Hale retorted that the UNSC was completely outmatched anyway and reminded him that New Tyre was his home and that if they failed to protect that everyone will die. Colt contemplated this for a moment, his second-in-command, Captain Robert Gates, was skeptical that the rebel's intentions were honest and suspected that they would turn on them the first chance they got. Colt considered this and made his decision, Colt reopened communications with Hale and accepted the rebel's offer.
Many of Hale's officers were outraged and railed against this calling it an act of betrayal to aid their long time enemy. The more rational and more level-headed supported his decision, including his second-in-command, Lieutenant Naston Golding. The dissidents, led by Lieutenant Lance Millers demanded that they use this opportunity to rally the people and overthrow the UNSC. UIF Command descended into fierce arguments of barely controlled aggression until Hale silenced them. He reminded them that they would achieve nothing and unless they, fellow humans, pulled together to stop the invaders, or else New Tyre would burn and everything they had worked for would be for nothing. For now, Millers backed off and seemed to accept this.
- "I don't suppose you have another secret fleet lying around somewhere do you?"
- ―Jeriah Colt to Hale on their situation
As a sign of good faith, Hale took a Pelican to the UNSC flagship, the Terra Firma, to discuss battle plans with Colt. With Covenant forces mere hours away from the two discussed strategy. Even with their forces combined their prospects looked grim. Colt did his best to bring Hale and the UIF up to speed with the capabilities of the Covenant, their strengths, weaknesses, religious nature, and technology. He revealed that Battlegroup Terra Firma was originally on it's way to rendezvous with Admiral Cole's fleet to confront the Covenant before they were pulled aside by the UIF's theft of the Illustrious. He half-seriously inquired if Hale "had any more secret fleets lying around" which Hale admitted he did not.
Colt then made it clear that with only twenty armed ships they did not have the strength to fight the Covenant head-on. Even though they outnumbered them twenty-to-seventeen the Covenant vessels were far superior to their own and could easily destroy them. Their only chance was to draw out the fight as only long as they can for evacuations to complete. If the Covenant decide to ignore or bypass them then they stood no chance. The insurrectionist General deferred command of their naval actions to the most experienced Colt but also stressed that Colt should heed any of his recommendations if the battle takes to the ground.
After finalizing the last details of the plan, General Hale returned to the Spartacus and issued orders for all UIF forces to not engage the UNSC and to prepare for "foreign" attack. Colt deployed the 20th Marine Division, 11th Shock Troops Battalion, and 3rd Air Wing to the surface to link up and dig in with the disparate Colonial Militias and the depleted 16th and 62nd Infantry Regiments below.
With virtually every last outpost in the system destroyed the Covenant fleet finally converged on New Tyre itself. The combined UNSC-UIF fleet, a total of twenty ships, lay waiting in orbit. Colt had their fleet array itself in a checkerboard style formation in order to bring all their MAC cannons to bear on the incoming enemy. The Covenant fleet moved as a single mass, their escorts orbiting their single massive CAS-class Assault Carrier that sat at the center of their formation.
The UNSC-UIF fleet did not wait for the Covenant to enter New Tyre's orbit or allow them to make the first move. As soon as they entered targeting range the fleet fired staggered volleys of magnetic-accelerated rounds at the Covenant fleet. MAC rounds slammed into ten of their ships, most of them were absorbed by their shields but one Covenant frigate was destroyed and another was damaged. The Covenant took the bait and, rather than deploy to the surface, moved into attack speed straight at them.
Even before the first shots struck the UNSC-UIF fleet was already turning to retreat. Colt knew that they would not be able to deal enough damage even if they had concentrated their fire more efficiently, but having the escorts target the Covenant frigates while their capital ships blunted the shields of the cruisers was only to get their attention. If the Covenant took them too seriously then it would simply mean their own swift destruction.
The human fleet accelerated away from the pursuing Covenant and kept the planet's curvature between them. Colt kept their ships just barely within firing range of the Covenant, not moving at full power as to hide their full capabilities, and keeping their attention on them. Colt led the Covenant all around the planet. Periodically the human fleet would briefly turn to form up and fire another volley at the Covenant from extreme range before retreating again while their fighters duke it out. Each brief clash led the Covenant along further, but the cost was bloody.
Over the course of eight clashes, more than half of UNSC-UIF fleet was lost. The UNSC lost four of their frigates, the UNSC Magdalene sacrificed itself to intercept a plasma torpedo meant for the Terra Firma. Two of their precious cruisers, the Falkland and the Sedan, were also destroyed. Meanwhile, the UIF fair little better, having lost four of their five armed freighters in the second engagement and the Vercingetorix was nearly cut in half by a pulse laser. So far the other cruisers in the combined UNSC-UIF fleet only escaped long range fire by the Covenant by desperately using premature archer missile detonations inspired by theat the recommendation of the UIF's Lt. Golding. At this point, they had managed to destroy a further two Covenant cruisers and damaging a third.
This run-and-gun battle continued for another grueling ten hours, after which the Covenant caught on. Their Fleet Master had thought they could simply destroy the fleet at their leisure before deploying to the surface but that was taking too long. At noon of the second day of the battle, the Covenant fleet split in two. Four cruisers and four corvettes broke off from the main fleet and headed straight for New Tyre's main continent. And they were not alone. The rest of the fleet, including the massive carrier, deployed hundreds of dropships and fighters with the break-off group as an escort. With the gig up the UNSC-UIF fleet fired a salvo of archer missiles at the descending invasion force but their carefully maintained distance prevented that.
The Covenant army landed in overwhelming strength and assaulted six of New Tyre's seven largest population centers and center-points of evacuations. The cities of New Tyzena, Azores, Korae, Aegea, Verde, and New Nassau all came under attack. Two cruisers led the attack on New Tyzena while the other two cruisers attacked Korae and New Nassau respectively, meanwhile, the four corvettes broke up into two groups, one assaulting Aegea and the other Verde.
The two cruisers attacking New Tyzena, dubbed CCS-U166 and CCS-U167, began low-level plasma bombardment of the city and it's outskirts, devastating whole city blocks, and suburban sections within minutes. The UNSC sent in a strike force of eight Longsword and Shortsword squadrons outfitted with GBU-2494/T MSNOs (Massive Shaped-charge Non-nuclear Ordnance) in an attempt to destroy the two cruisers. Despite a valiant effort the strike force fails to destroy either of the cruisers, their warheads proving ineffective at piercing their shields. As a result, they were devastated with the surviving 14% returning to base. However, the force of the bombardment succeeded in forcing the two cruisers to break off their attack and retreat several kilometers. Despite this momentary reprieve, thousands of Covenant warriors were still mustering at their landing zones and within hours would lay siege to New Tyzena. Already they were testing the cities defenses with air attacks. On the others fronts a similar situation was playing out as Covenant vessels on the surface began low-level bombardments of their targets.
As night fell on the first day of the battle, the ground campaign began in earnest. Heedless of the nighttime conditions, the Covenant army launched a determined assault on the planet's capital, several legions backed by tank battalions and flocks of Banshees and dropships rolled in from the east. Despite a determined defense by prepared UNSC defenders they struggled to hold back the tide. Combined forces of UNSC Army troopers, Marines, Colonial Militia, and even New Tyre's Police Force engaged them but were quickly being overwhelmed, outnumbered by short diminutive Grunts and outfought by ferocious Elites. Under the cover of heavy bombardment, the Covenant chewed through the UNSC's initial defenses and forced them back street by street.
The fighting soon reached deeper into the city. In New Tyzena’s downtown transit plaza, elements of the 62nd Regiment along with the 11th Shock Battalions' Alpha Company were fighting. Under the command of ODST Major Rolph Macer, who took charge after the 62nd's commander was killed by a plasma mortar, they had been fighting for several hours to keep the Covenant from accessing the transit's metro tunnels. If they succeeded the Covenant would be able to outflank all of their defensive positions in the city and reach the evacuation zones. In case they failed the soldiers rigged the tunnels to collapse in order to deny them to the Covenant. Communications were in chaos and it did not look like they would receive reinforcements anytime soon.
The situation grew desperate until suddenly the Covenant's front ranks were shredded by withering sniper fire and rockets from above. Brightly colored aliens commanders were picked off by well placed sniper rounds and their lesser troops became confused and leaderless. Unidentified reinforcements emerged from concealed tunnels and rappelled down from windows to join the battle. They felled several of Covenant dropships with RPGs while heavy machine gun batteries opened up from the high rooftops and drove off the Banshees. Disorganized by the sudden onslaught the Covenant was forced to momentarily retreat and allowed the UNSC a chance to breathe for the first time since the ground battle had begun. The embattled soldiers were surprised to be suddenly relieved but they would be even more surprised to see that they were Insurrectionist soldiers.
The Insurrectionists announced their intentions to help defend New Tyre from the aliens and they brought with them intelligence on the enemy's troop movements as well as spare ammunition. The UNSC forces were uncertain how to respond to this, especially the Army troopers and militiamen who had been fighting the Insurrectionists for years. The UIF's scouts then radioed in and informed them all that the Covenant forces were regrouping for another push and would be mobilizing soon. Major Macer was bewildered by the Insurrectionist's assistance but was in no position to be picky about allies and welcomed any help he could get. He accepted their help with a handshake with their commander and asked how did they move their troops while escaping notice.
The Insurrectionist officer, Captain Mikael, informed him that the UIF had used the city's sewer system and their smuggling tunnels to covertly move their troops to combat zones throughout the city and allowed them to prepare their ambush undetected. This was once a prized secret of the UIF but now that New Tyre was going to be lost anyway it meant nothing to be revealed now. Despite the unease of both sides, with the Covenant still bombarding them and the alien's second-wave breathing down their necks, there was no time for old grudges and the combined human forces prepared to repel the enemy.
Covenant Temporarily Repulsed
With Mikael's help, Major Macer came up with a new defensive strategy. Until now they had been fighting a static defense but now thanks to the UIF tunnel's and knowledge of the city's back alleys they could adopt a much more fluid and mobile strategy.
When the Covenant's assault returned they faced not an immobile force, but were harrowed by fast mobile groups of guerrilla soldiers. UIF rocket-jumpers and snipers harried them from rooftops and sappers planted mines in the path of their tanks. When a Covenant unit lost cohesion they were routed by determined UNSC counter-attacks. UIF commandos led by Mikael guided Macer and the ODSTs through New Tyzena's complicated underground network to took them behind Covenant lines. They repeatedly ambushed Covenant troops, hit vulnerable flanks, and reinforced flagging defensive positions.
All over the city, a similar situation was playing out as UIF forces made contact with the UNSC defenders and with coordination born of desperation and precedence the defenders began to outmaneuver the alien army by moving through the tunnels. Alien units advanced only to be isolated and eliminated piecemeal while their conspicuous command-and-control continued to be disrupted by relentless sniper fire. Slowly the defenders began to retake lost ground and push the enemy back.
The human forces began to lure the Covenant troops into the buildings, only to pull out through secret Insurrectionist escape tunnels and then drop the entire building on top of them with demolition charges.
Return to Desperation
- Oscar-10: "Echo-1, this is Oscar-10, preparing to fire FPF Salvo-7. Advise you take cover. Firing...This is it, now or never!"
- Echo-1: "No visual, I cannot confirm kill. Wait...wait...NEGATIVE! I repeat negative effect. The cruiser is still standing!"
- Oscar-10: "God help us all..."
- — Comunique between 5th Artillery XO and Captain Kiri
Fight for Fort Ticonderoga
The Axe Falls
- "Damn it to hell! The fucking thing is just sitting there tearing us apart and we can't even scratch it! What I wouldn't give to just break its stupid neck!...Wait, could it be...its neck? That's it!"
- ―General Nathan Hale realizes the potentially fatal design flaw of the assault carrier.
In the battle above the defenders were not faring well. The relentless damage they had sustained had allowed the Covenant fleet to catch up to them. Their situation was critically desperate as the assault carrier was tearing their fleet apart. The UIF lost another freighter and their venerable corvette, the Guevara, to plasma fire. The UNSC Terra Firma was heavily damaged and had only one MAC cannon online. The Vercingetorix had its starboard engine wing burned off from a near-miss plasma torpedo and the Spartacus was badly damaged and venting atmosphere across eight decks. Its MAC cannons were still functional but its slipspace drive had been disabled in the last skirmish. Every ship but the Blackjack was damaged and the entire fleet was done to their last salvos of archer missiles.
Hale, angered by the losses they had sustained and death wrought by the carrier commented on how he “wanted to break its stupid neck” and was struck by inspiration. He observed the carrier’s design and saw the potential weakness in its thin neck section. He contacted Colt and brought this to his attention. Colt was dismissive of any idea of targeting the assault carrier saying they don’t have the firepower to break through its shields let alone destroying it. Hale replied that they may not have the firepower, but they did have the mass. The rebel general conceived a plan born of true desperation, calling it Operation: AXEKICK.