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The Gateway was a Forerunner Ringworld that acted as a gateway to elsewhere in the Universe. Although its true purpose was to act as a portal, both the UNSC and the Covenant believed that it was one of the Installations. They attempted to "fire" it, accidently broke it, and barely escaped, with only a few people that were teleported into the Abyss.
The Forerunner, long before the Flood, had wanted to try and push the boundries of their technology and escape the Milky Way Galaxy. They came up with the Gateway. It was still highly expiremental and unstable and was not used until the moments before the Halo Array was fired. It is unkown if the Forerunner who entered the portal lived or met their end. Behind, they left a Monitor named 42 Contrite Kindle, a supercomputer named Mordant Song, and a Sentinel factory.
About 2000 years before the Human-Covenant War a coding malfunction occured in all new Sentinels manufactured at the Gateway, in which several guarding the Index added by the Forerunner attacked the Index, leaving the ringworld without an Index, and completely incapable of functioning normally. This caused much grieving and embaressment for 42 Contrite Kindle, who became Rampant in the aftermath of the destruction of the Index.
In a rush to escape from Hope, the UNSC Persephone quickly locked onto a random human colony and fired its slipspace drive. However, structural failure caused them to have to pull out early and they arrived at the Gateway.
Sending the two Spartans aboard, Spartan-231 and Spartan-158, and a portion of Recon Brigade to go secure a landing spot for the ship so it can be repaired. Upon landing on the surface, they were cheerfully greeted by 42 Contrite Kindle who made a hopeless attempt in trying to explain what the ringworld did, as he did not know himself. Without warnning, Mordant Song activated several hundreds of Sentinels to exterminate the soldiers who landed on the planet.
The Battle for the Gateway
There were many casualties, but a quick appearance from the Covenant Destroyer, Hope Reborn, diverted Mordant Song's attention. Soon, the battle went from the UNSC and the Sentinels to the Covenant and the Sentinels.Within 15 minutes the Hope Reborn was crippled and pods and ships were evacuating the sinking ship. As the first of the waves of Covenant refugees hit the ground, the UNSC Turn-the-Tide had appeared and Pelicans started to rain down reinforcements. In less than an hour the once serene ringworld became a gory battlefield.
A small group of ODST and Spartans, including Spartan-231 and Spartan-158, reached the Apex. After defeating the rampant monitor, 42 Contrite Kindle, they accidentally reactivated the Gateway. Spartan-158 and most of the other UNSC personnel made it away safely aboard the Turn-the-Tide. However, most of the Covenant forces and Spartan-231 were warped away and the Gateway finally gave way and collapsed forever.