Halo: The Fall of Reach (2001)
- Set before the events of the first Halo game.
- Humanity has settled hundreds of other planets in the galaxy, but the outlying colonies are growing restless.
- To quell the foreseen rebellions, the Space Marines fund research for a group of super soldiers called SPARTANS.
- Jacob Keyes and Dr. Catherine Halsey kidnap young children for the program. They replace the recruits with terminally ill clones so that their parents will never know to come looking for them.
- The Covenant first attack humanity, obliterating both outreach worlds like Harvest and heavily fortified military worlds like Reach.
- The SPARTANS are decimated, though John 117 (Master Chief) survives. Another, Linda 058, is kept in cryostasis, barely alive.
- An AI doppelganger of Dr. Halsey is created, named Cortana, and introduced into Master Chief's suit technology.
- Humans discover and translate an alien hieroglyph with mysterious coordinates. These numbers lead the Pillar of Autumn to the first Halo ring in the original game.
Halo: The Flood (2003)
- A novelization of the first game.
- Recounts the same story of Master Chief and Cortana stopping the Flood and destroying Halo, but adds in side stories of unseen Marines and Covenant Grunts.
- None of these extra tales are crucial to the overall plot of the franchise.
Halo: First Strike (2003)
- Takes place between Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2.
- Master Chief learns another ship, carrying Sergeant Johnson and some unimportant supporting characters, has escaped the first Halo too.
- These survivors hijack a Covenant flagship for transportation, unearthing a strange Forerunner artifact in the process.
- The artifact can bend time, enabling the Chief to visit Reach before its full destruction. He rescues Dr. Halsey and some of his fellow SPARTANs.
- Cortana learns the High Prophet of Regret is coming to Earth, without permission from his peers and without the understanding that this is mankind's home. He thinks the planet is merely the location of another Forerunner installation, the Ark.
Halo Graphic Novel (2006)
- A four-part comic book series from Marvel.
- The first issue is a glimpse into the inner workings of a Covenant Elite unit. Rtas 'Vadumee, the half-jawed alien who assists the Arbiter in Halo 2, fights the Flood.
- The second issue explores the exciting industry of SPARTAN armor manufacturing!
- The third issue shows how Sergeant Johnson escaped the Flood and Halo at the end of the original game. The answer? A unique medical immunity... and a lot of moxie.
- Remember how the city of New Mombasa in Africa got eradicated during Halo 2? Now you can relive that cheery moment through the eyes of its citizens.
Halo: Ghosts of Onyx (2006)
- This is the story of the SPARTAN-IIIs, budget replacements for Master Chief and the SPARTAN-IIs. The new breed of super soldiers are cheaper to produce, but much quicker to die.
- The SPARTAN-IIIs' adventures are not very crucial to canon, but they do find a Forerunner "bomb shelter" of sorts that implies the ancient race might have survived the only known firing of a Halo.
Halo: Contact Harvest (2007)
- Not yet released.
- Set nearly 30 years before the original game, during the Covenant's very first attacks on humanity.
- Focuses on a group of Marines, including a younger but no doubt still cigar-chomping Sergeant Johnson.
Halo: Uprising (2007)
- Not fully released.
- Another four-part comic book series from Marvel.
- The first issue is about yet another funnily named artifact, the The Key of Onsanalan... located in Cleveland, Ohio. Of course it is.
- Oh yeah, and Master Chief gets knocked unconscious. To be continued...
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