[[quoteright:275:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Halo_Cover_Contact_Harvest_1158.png]]

''Halo: Contact Harvest'' is a 2007 ''Franchise/{{Halo}}'' book. It details the events surrounding Humanity's FirstContact with the Covenant and the beginning of the Human-Covenant War, and gives backstory for several characters from the original FPS trilogy. It was written by Joseph Staten, one of the main writers of the ''Halo'' games themselves.

As the United Nations Space Command sends Staff Sergeant Avery J. Johnson to the distant colony of Harvest to help train its Colonial Militia to battle the Insurrection, a Covenant scout ship discovers the planet, with their scans indicating that Harvest is full of Forerunner artifacts. As the UNSC tries to deal with the possibility of an alien invasion, two Covenant Prophets plan to use the relics' discovery to inaugurate a new Age of Reclamation with themselves as Hierarchs. But what they discover will end up radically changing the course of both civilizations.
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!''Contact Harvest'' provides examples of:
* ActionPrologue: The book opens with one of Johnson's operations against the Insurrection.
* ActualPacifist: Like most Covenant Engineers, Lighter Than Some absolutely detests violence of any kind, even against pest animals like scrub grubs. [[spoiler:It's absolutely heartbroken when it ends up killing a human while defending its friend.]]
* AggressiveNegotiations: A nervous Grunt named Yull goes against orders and kills human militiaman Osmo during peace negotiations, starting the first true battle of the Human-Covenant War.
* ApatheticCitizens: Even after the Covenant's existence is made public to Harvest's people, it's not until [[spoiler:after the Covenant starting glassing the homesteads around Gladsheim]] that the locals ''finally'' realize that their lives are truly in danger.
* ApocalypticLog: The book ends with [[spoiler:Mack's final transmissions, which detail the final glassing of Harvest as the Covenant hunt down his last remaining fragments]].
* ArmyOfThievesAndWhores: Downplayed with the ''Rapid Conversion''[='s=] crew; while its Jiralhanae (Brutes) are among the elite of their kind, its Unggoy (Grunt) contingent is bottom-of-the-barrel even by the already low standards of Unggoy in general, with several implied to have shady and/or rough-and-tumble pasts.
* AsleepForDays: After being rescued from an exploding Jackal ship, Johnson is kept in a medical coma for almost two days while he's being treated.
* AutoKitchen: Played with; while the Harvest militia's mess hall has automated food dispensers, they're purpose-built to be cleaned and stocked by hand. As Byrne puts it:
-->"''Some training tools were just too good to fall victim to technological advance.''"
* AutomatedAutomobiles: It's shown that several of the UNSC's vehicles, ranging from FTL-capable freighters to sedan taxis, are piloted by automated systems, though human-piloted ones are still common.
* AwesomeMomentOfCrowning: [[spoiler:The Ascension of the Minster of Fortitude, the Vice Minister of Tranquility, and the Philologist as the High Prophets of Truth, Regret, and Mercy.]]
* AncestralWeapon: [[DropTheHammer The Fist of Rukt]], an ancient weapon wielded by Brute Chieftain Maccabeus, and later by Tartarus.
* BadassPreacher: Dadab, a simple Unggoy Deacon who seeks to educate others about the Great Journey. [[spoiler: He cuts through a group of Yanme'e to avenge his friend, and having the courage to attack Tartarus was ballsy, even though he knew it would get him killed.]]
* BadDreams: Johnson is continually plagued by nightmares of his worst missions against the Insurrection, not matter what brand of medication he takes to prevent them.
* BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor: Jenkins joins the militia with the hopes of eventually becoming a UNSC Marine and living a life of adventure. By the end, he gets his wish... after the Covenant kill his entire family and glass his homeworld.
* {{Blackmail}}: [[spoiler:Fortitude, Tranquility, and the Philologist are able to get the current Hierarchs to step down by threatening to reveal Restraint's illegal offspring to the public.]]
* BigDamnHeroes: [[spoiler:Mack's army of remote-controlled [=JOTUNs=] shows up in time to save Byrne, and proceeds to stop Loki from firing his mass driver at Sif.]]
* TheBrute: While he ''is'' a Brute, Vorenus is huge even compared to the rest of the Jiralhanae pack on ''Rapid Conversion''.
* CallForward: At one point, Johnson notes that nobody's managed to get a decent shot at Insurrectionist leader Robert Watts yet; in a ''Literature/HaloTheFallOfReach'' chapter set several months later, it was shown that John-117's very first mission was the successful capture of Watts.
* CantUseStairs: In a flashback, Maccabeus gets a subtle revenge on a delegation of arrogant Elite inspectors by making them climb the ladders in his ship, which they have trouble doing thanks to their backwards-facing knees.
* CarFu:
** Johnson cripples [[spoiler:Maccabeus]] by ramming him with his Warthog.
** Brute Choppers are designed for this trope, as they're basically giant bladed rams that happen to also be anti-gravity motorcycles.
* CatapultNightmare: On the trip to Harvest, Johnson's flashbacks get so bad that he wakes up from cryo-sleep despite having taken three times the recommended number of sleep inducers.
* ChallengingTheChief: How Maccabeus originally got the position of Chieftain from his father. [[spoiler: And how Tartarus gets the position from Maccabeus.]]
* CharacterDevelopment: Much of the book is about how Johnson starts to change from a grim and humorless ShellShockedVeteran to the wisecracking {{Determinator}} we know and love in the games.
* ChaseFight: Johnson and Byrne on a Warthog being chased by a Spirit dropship.
* ChekhovsGun: A literal example; Harvest's mass driver is first seen firing to commemorate Harvest's solstice. [[spoiler:After the Covenant attack, Harvest's defenders use it to cripple the ''Rapid Conversion''.]]
* ChekhovsSkill:
** When Dadab finally gets Lighter Than Some to throw a rock at a target, the latter hits it dead center. [[spoiler:Lighter than Some later saves Dadab's life by nailing a human in the head with a rock]].
** At the solstice celebration, Attorney General Pedersen talks about how in Harvest's early years, Mack once used a mass driver to launch a new power supply straight into one of the Tiara's coupling station; it worked like a charm, but Sif was not amused about the possibility of him missing and destroying her data-center. [[spoiler:Towards the end, Sif willingly lets Loki (Mack's other half) fire a mass driver round straight into her data center in order to prevent her from being captured by the Covenant.]]
* ClassifiedInformation:
** Pretty much all of Johnson's counter-insurgency ops are classified, which means he has to do a lot of lying when navy corpsman Healy starts asking him about his past.
** Later, when Ponder, Johnson, and Byrne accelerate the militia's training in order to get them ready to fight the Covenant, they can't actually tell the recruits that they're going to have to fight aliens; instead, they tell the militia that they're being trained to defend an incoming Colonial Authority delegation from a potential Insurrectionist attack. [[KeepingSecretsSucks None of them are happy about having to lie]], but they reason that the basic skills needed for fighting both the Covies and Innies are going to be the same anyways.
* CoitusEnsues: [[spoiler:The penultimate scene of the epilogue is some GladToBeAliveSex between Johnson and Jilan. While the scene is brief and non-explicit, it can still come across as somewhat jarring.]]
* ColdBloodedTorture[=/=]JackBauerInterrogationTechnique: Marine Nolan Byrne tortures an Innie prisoner in order to find their bombs. He does so only after his unit's ONI advisor gives him the go-ahead, implying that the UNSC as a whole approves of this.
* ConnectedAllAlong: In ''VideoGame/Halo2'', Johnson plays a pivotal role in defeating [[spoiler:Tartarus]]. Here, it's revealed that the two had already directly fought against each other during the first battle of the Human-Covenant War.
* ContinuityNod:
** When Johnson is asked whether he's ever been to Harvest before, he remembers that he was once sent there to assassinate a corrupt Colonial Administration official. This is implied to be the mission shown in page 122 of ''ComicBook/TheHaloGraphicNovel'', where he sniped Jerald Ander, leader of the Secessionist Union's Harvest branch.
** Johnson and Byrne use prototype Battle Rifles during an anti-piracy op.
** Dadab notes at one point that the reason high-level [=AIs=] are banned in the Covenant is because the Forerunners' own [=AIs=] had fallen to the Flood, a clear reference to Mendicant Bias's betrayal.
** Sharp-eyed readers will notice that the individual requesting [[spoiler:Mack's final transmissions]] in the epilogue is a certain ONI-contracted civilian code-named "Charlie Hotel", aka Dr. Catherine Halsey, the creator of the Spartan-[=IIs=] and Cortana. Additionally, the ship that recovered the transmissions was the ''Heracles'', established in ''Literature/HaloTheFallOfReach'' to be the first human ship to successfully bring news of Harvest's fate to the rest of the UNSC.
** [[spoiler:Mack's final transmissions]] also mention a lone human ship that came across Harvest and was destroyed by the Covenant. That ship is implied to be the CMA ''Argo'', stated in ''The Fall of Reach'' to have been sent to investigate why the UEG had suddenly lost contact with Harvest.
* ContinuitySnarl: Despite Staten being one of ''Halo''[='s=] main writers during the Creator/{{Bungie}} era, the book still has a few of these:
** Harvest is stated to have a population of just over 300,000. However, all other media before and after have stated that Harvest's population was three million.
** The book conflates the Eridanus and Epsilon Eridani star systems into one "Epsilon Eridanus" system, though every other source before and after treats them as two separate systems.
** Related to the above, it's claimed that the Insurrection is largely confined to the Inner Colonies of the "Epsilon Eridanus" system, though (again) every other source has shown that it spanned numerous star systems and was most widespread in the ''Outer'' Colonies.
** One related to WritersCannotDoMath: it's claimed that the UNSC only has seventeen colonies, which is significantly less than the total number of planets shown/mentioned in previous media. Though Staten later clarified that he was referring to the most developed colonies, subsequent sources have indicated that the UNSC in 2525 encompassed over 800 worlds, at least several dozen of which were fully developed.
* CrisisOfFaith: The Covenant is indicated to be going through an Age of Doubt at the novel's beginning, and several of its characters find their faith challenged in some major way:
** When given the order to exterminate Harvest's population, Maccabeus struggles with whether it would be a greater sin to disobey the Prophets, or to let what he believes are the planet's Forerunner relics be destroyed. He ultimately decides that disobedience is the lesser of the two sins.
** [[spoiler:When Dadab discovers that Lighter Than Some is helping the humans, the latter points out that the Prophets are violating the tenets of their own religion by not giving humanity even a chance to convert. This troubles Dadab enough to convince him to not destroy the Tiara's data center.]]
** The Covenant's very motivation for exterminating humanity is revealed to be this: [[spoiler:The future High Prophets believe that the Oracle's revelations indicate that humans are Forerunners who were left behind by the Great Journey, which would render false the Covenant's promise that all believers would walk the Great Journey. Fearing the complete collapse of the Covenant if this revelation were to become public, the Hierarchs decide that the only way to cover up the AwfulTruth is to order the genocide of all of humanity.]]
* CrushingHandshake: Johnson may be a veteran Marine, but when he shakes Governor Thune's hand, it turns out that the latter has an even stronger grip thanks to a lifetime of manual farm work.
* DancesAndBalls: At Governor Thune's request, Ponder and Johnson attend a ballroom party celebrating Harvest's solstice.
* DefrostingIceQueen: Sif, Harvest's Shipping Control AI, eventually warms up to Agricultural Operations AI Mack.
* {{Dehumanization}}: The opening discusses how the Marines uses slurs as a way make themselves think of the Insurrectionists as less than human.
-->"''An Innie was an enemy'', Avery thought. ''A thing you killed before it killed you.'' The young Staff Sergeant had said these words so many times he'd almost started to believe them."
* DissonantSerenity: At one point, Johnson notes that Mack sounds ''way'' too calm and chipper for the situation they're in (said situation being a Spirit dropship trying to gun down Johnson, Byrne, and a wounded civilian). [[spoiler:That's because it's actually the rather unpersonable Loki trying to imitate the very personable Mack.]]
* DoomedHometown: Harvest becomes this for all of its residents.
* DownOnTheFarm: Harvest is an InSpace version of this, as it was mostly settled by farmers from the American Midwest.
* TheDragon: Tartarus, serving as the security chief to his uncle Maccabeus.
* DramaticIrony: The Minister of Fortitude notes at one point that "while something like the Unggoy Rebellion might temporarily destabilize the Covenant, a Sangheili[[note]]aka Elite[[/note]] revolt would shatter it." [[spoiler:After Fortitude becomes the Prophet of Truth, he himself will eventually become the one responsible for shattering the Covenant by causing the Sangheili to revolt en masse.]]
* DrowningMySorrows: After a botched counterinsurgency op and finding his beloved aunt dead, Johnson ends up spending his leave getting completely wasted at seedy nightclubs. He snaps out of it after being reassigned to train the Harvest militia.
* FirstContact: It does not go well, as one might expect from this being the beginning of [[Franchise/{{Halo}} the Human-Covenant War]].
* ForegoneConclusion: Lighter Than Some's efforts to create peace will fail and the Human-Covenant War will rage on for over a quarter-century, Harvest will fall, and Tartarus will supplant Maccabeus, gain the Fist of Rukt, and survive Harvest. On a happier note, you know going in that Johnson and Jenkins are guaranteed to survive.
* EarlyBirdCameo: A civilian passenger ship that gets bombed by Insurrectionists is stated to have been headed towards the resort world of Arcadia; ''VideoGame/HaloWars''[='s=] lead designer had pitched to Staten his idea for the planet, and the latter had liked it so much he included it in the book over a year before ''Halo Wars''[='s=] actual release.
* EliteMooks: Maccabeus's Brutes are very much this, with each one capable of taking on multiple militiamen by itself.
* EnemyCivilWar: [[spoiler:As Tartarus is forced to retreat from the Tiara, the surviving Grunts and Drones aboard all turn on each other.]]
* EveryoneCallsHimBarkeep: The San'Shyuum characters are all referred to only by their titles[[note]]In fact, the true names of Fortitude, Tranquility, and the Philologist wouldn't be revealed until ''The Essential Visual Guide'' was released four years later[[/note]].
* EverythingSensor: Downplayed with Luminaries, devices used by the Covenant to scan for Forerunner relics. The fact that [[spoiler:they can also detect humans]] plays a major role in the plot, as the Covenant initially assume that their Luminaries are detecting actual Forerunner technology when they come across Harvest.
* FakinMacGuffin: [[spoiler:After Lighter Than Some shows Loki how to create a signal that the Luminary will register as "Oracle", Harvest's defenders uses this knowledge to create a fake "Oracle" that Captain Ponder carries out into the open so that they can lure the ''Rapid Conversion'' in close enough for the mass driver to cripple it.]]
* FascistButInefficient: The Covenant may be an authoritarian theocracy, but its bureaucracy is shown to be cumbersome at best; the Unggoy Rebellion began in large part because the Ministry of Concert feared causing a Kig-Yar revolt if they properly punished the Kig-Yar captains responsible for sabotaging Unggoy narcotics, and Fortitude hates the ceaseless bureaucratic negotiations it takes to distribute Forerunner technology among the Covenant's members, which is why he becomes attracted to the idea of becoming Hierarch and having the power to cut through red tape. [[spoiler:Of course, after Fortitude becomes the Prophet of Truth, he quickly discovers that the life of a Hierarch is also full of tedious bureaucracy and politicking.]]
* FireForgedFriends: After fighting together against Kig-Yar, Johnson and Byrne begin to mend their friendship.
* GreenEyedMonster: The ''Rapid Conversion''[='s=] Yanme'e crew become incredibly jealous of Lighter Than Some for taking most of their responsibilities, since it's a ''far'' better engineer than all of them combined, [[spoiler:and gleefully kill it when they get the chance]].
* GoodOldFisticuffs: When Byrne and Johnson reunite on Harvest, the former's anger at the latter results in a brutal, no-holds-barred fight that leaves both combatants covered in blood, and ends with Byrne nearly choking out Johnson until Captain Ponder stops the fight.
* HairTriggerExplosive: Subverted. [[spoiler:Forsell attempts to take out Tartarus by throwing a Covenant energy core at him, but it doesn't explode on impact like expected; by the time Johnson sets it off with a burst from his SMG, Tartarus has already gotten to a safe distance away from the explosion.]]
* HeadInTheSandManagement: Harvest Governor Nils Thune refuses to ask for UNSC aid after finding out that potentially hostile aliens have discovered his world, since he fears his people will join the Insurrection if he lets UNSC warships into their backyard.
* HeelFaceTurn: [[spoiler:Though never evil to begin with, Lighter Than Some comes to actively aid Harvest's people against the Covenant.]]
* HeroicBSOD:
** Pacifist Lighter Than Some suffers one when [[spoiler: he kills Henry Gibson to save Dadab]].
** Jenkins falls into a deep depression after his family are all killed.
* HoldingHands: [[spoiler:A non-corporal variant; Mack and Sif have a heartwarming moment where they express their affection for each other by having their holographic avatars hold hands. Though neither can technically "feel" physical sensations, their brain donors' sense-memories give them plenty of fodder for their fancy.]]
* HolyCity: The Covenant capital of High Charity, a massive mobile space station where most of the Prophets reside.
* HomeGuard: Harvest's Colonial Militia; while half have some sort of law enforcement experience, the others are mostly farmers.
* HostageSituation: Several:
** In the prologue, after the marines have cornered an Innie bomber, the latter decides to take a young boy hostage and threaten to blow up the restaurant she's in. Johnson hesitates to shoot her in fear of hitting the boy, which results in the Innie activating her bomb when the boy's father attempts to take the detonator from her, killing thirty-eight civilians and all of Byrne's squad.
** The operation that got Ponder demoted started to go downhill after an Insurrectionist took his own family hostage with a grenade. Ponder believes the guy was bluffing, but one of his men got nervous and shot him nonetheless, resulting in the guy's dead body pulling the pin by reflex.
** When a Spirit dropship has Johnson and Byrne in its sights, the two manage to escape by threatening to kill the grievously-wounded [[spoiler:Maccabeus]] if they're fired upon. [[spoiler:Johnson and Byrne try to kill Maccabeus anyways as they escape, but he survives by a stroke of luck.]]
** Vorenus takes Byrne hostage in an attempt to get the militiamen surrounding him to surrender. [[spoiler:The arrival of an army of [=JOTUNs=] distracts Vorenus long enough for the militia to shoot him down without harming Byrne.]]
* ICanStillFight: Despite still recovering from his injuries, Johnson leaves his hospital bed to get back to training his recruits, since he realizes that they're going to be the only thing standing between the incoming Covenant and Harvest.
* ImpaledWithExtremePrejudice: [[spoiler: How Tartarus kills Captain Ponder. Those bayonets on the Spiker Rifles are not for show.]]
* ImprovisedWeapon: When his freighter is attacked by what turns out to be Covenant raiders, Hank Gibson arms himself with a fire extinguisher and [[spoiler:nearly kills Dabab with it]].
* InterestingSituationDuel: The Jackal ship ''Minor Transgression'' accidentally destroys a human freighter's ArtificialGravity systems in the process of disabling it, forcing everyone aboard the latter to fight in zero-g.
* InterspeciesFriendship: Between Dadab (an Unggoy/Grunt) and Light Than Some (a Huragok/Engineer).
* IronicEcho:
** After Mack teases Sif about her {{Tsundere}} tendencies by misquoting ''Theatre/{{Hamlet}}''[='s=] "The lady doth protest too much, methinks", he tells her "It's Shakespeare, sweetheart. Look it up." [[spoiler:Sif says the same thing to Mack in her final message to him, an indirect LoveConfession[=/=]PreSacrificeFinalGoodbye asking him to reread Sonnet 18.]]
** "Someday we will win. No matter what it takes." An Insurrectionist first tells this to Ponder before taking his own daughter hostage, resulting in a shootout that leaves numerous civilians dead. [[spoiler:Ponder later says to Tartarus while sacrificing himself as bait to help take down a Covenant ship, which allows Harvest's defenders to evacuate a couple thousand civilians to safety.]]
* IronicName: Both Covenant ships fall into this:
** The ''Minor Transgression''[='s=] crew engage in a major heresy by tampering with their ship's Luminary, not to mention the fact that they're glorified SpacePirates.
** The ''Rapid Conversion'' does not convert a single individual to the Covenant's religion, and is in fact the first ship to undertake the mission of exterminating all of humanity.
* IronicNickname: While it was initially established in ''VideoGame/{{Halo 2}}'', the names of Prophets being ironic is taken to the extreme: the Prophetess of Obligation neglects some of her duties due to her pregnancy, the Vice Minister of Tranquility (the future Prophet of Regret) is extremely combative, and the Prophet of Restraint knocks up a lover when he's legally forbidden from breeding. Though averted with the Prophet of Tolerance who is described as having improved relations between the Covenant's different species.
* ItsProbablyNothing: When Sif gets a distress signal from a stranded automated space freighter, she figures the corrupted data at the end of the file are just the result of damaged circuits. It turns out the freighter was attacked by Kig-Yar privateers.
* ItsWhatIDo: When [[spoiler:Lighter Than Some]] repairs [[spoiler:Sif in order to help the evacuation of Harvest's people]], the latter asks the former why it's bothering helping. It replies by simply stating its name, which [[spoiler:Sif]] takes to mean "I help because that is who I am."
* JumpingOnAGrenade: Captain Ponder lost his arm when he dove to cover a dropped live grenade in an attempt to prevent more casualties.
* JurisdictionFriction: [[spoiler:Harvest Governor Thune is not happy about the details of Jilan's and Loki's plan to defeat the Covenant (more specifically, the fact that they didn't consult him first when they made a few changes to said details), and refuses to relinquish his authority to the UNSC as required by regulations. Jilan settles the issue by knocking out Thune with stun rounds.]]
* JustFollowingOrders: Johnson's implied attitude to the torture and execution of prisoners. It doesn't make him feel better though.
* LowerClassLout: Flim, a former bilge worker, is an Unggoy version of this; he's a greedy bully with no interest in spiritual or intellectual matters of any kind.
* LudicrousGibs:
** An Insurrectionist is literally blown to pieces when Johnson hits him with a round from his Stanchion gauss-rifle, a MagneticWeapon originally designed to destroy bombs and other ordinance.
** Energy cutlasses are designed to explode after being stabbed into something; when Byrne stabs a Jackal with its own cutlass, the latter is blown apart into slush.
** A Brute Chopper manages to catch a Harvest militiaman in its bladed wheels, tearing the man to shreds "like wood fed through a chipper".
* LuredIntoATrap: When the ''Minor Transgression'' attempts to raid the human freighter ''Bulk Discount'', it turns out to be a trap set up by ONI, with Johnson and Byrne assigned to ambush the boarders.
* MadnessMantra: [[spoiler: Mack's accusations of "Liar! Liar! Liar! against Loki after the latter all but destroys Sif.]]
* ManBitesMan: Flim nearly kills [[spoiler:Forsell]] when he bites the base of his neck and nicks his jugular.
* ManlyTears: Jenkins begins to weep after realizing that his family were all killed during the Covenant's attack on Gladsheim.
* MookHorrorShow: PlayedForDrama during the opening of the Harvest militia's attack on the Tiara; it's from the perspective of Dadab, who watches helplessly as his fellow Grunts (all of whom are PunchClockVillains at worst) all die.
* MundaneUtility:
** The same technology used for the UNSC's MagneticWeapons is also used by less developed colony worlds for sending objects into space or launching waste into the sun.
** As is possible in the games, Dabab uses his plasma pistol as a flashlight while traversing the Tiara.
* MyGreatestSecondChance: Eventually, Johnson comes to view his reassignment as not just a chance to reforge the Harvest recruits into true soldiers, but to reforge himself into the honorable man that he had wanted to be when he originally joined the Marines.
* TheNeedsOfTheMany: [[spoiler:After being repaired by Lighter Than Some and helping Loki evacuate Harvest's last survivors, Sif nonetheless agrees to let Loki finish destroying her in order to prevent her data from falling into Covenant hands, and eventually convinces a heartbroken Mack to let Loki do so.]]
* NotHimself: During the evacuation of Gladsheim, Johnson notices that Mack's good humor seems to be a lot more forced than it normally is, with the normally sociable AI having actually been reluctant to directly interact with the refugees. [[spoiler:It turns out to be Loki impersonating Mack.]]
* ObstructiveBureaucrat: The Covenant's Ministry of Concert basically started the Unggoy Rebellion by their refusal to properly punish Kig-yar saboteurs, reasoning that a few thousand sterile Unggoy weren't worth upsetting the Kig-yar about.
* ObligatoryWarCrimeScene: The prologue has Byrne torturing and executing Insurrectionist prisoners on ONI's orders.
* OneProductPlanet: Harvest is the UNSC's most productive agricultural world, capable of producing enough food for six other colonies despite only being one-third of Earth's size.
* OutsideContextVillain: The UNSC has been too busy fighting against fellow humans to contemplate the idea of a war against hostile aliens, so the Covenant comes as a complete surprise to them. To emphasize this, none of the characters use the Covenant's in-game {{Reporting Name}}s even once, since humanity doesn't have anywhere near the knowledge to come up with them yet.
** In an interesting inversion of this, the discovery of humanity catches the Covenant almost just as off guard, [[spoiler:thanks to humanity's special connection with the Forerunners]].
* OriginsEpisode: For Wallace Jenkins and the High Prophets of Truth, Mercy, and Regret.
* PlayingPossum: [[spoiler:How Dadab survives his firefight against the humans.]]
* PopulationControl:
** The Unggoy breed so rapidly that there are strict constraints put on their reproduction during times of peace.
** The San'Shyuum are so inbred that a significant portion of their population are put on a "Roll of Celibates" and not allowed to reproduce at all, though they can still have sex as long as any resulting pregnancies are aborted. [[spoiler:The High Prophet of Restraint's refusal to kills his unborn offspring (or their willful mother) is what gives Fortitude the opening he needs to overthrow the current Hierarchs.]]
* PoseOfSupplication: Dadab starts groveling and begging for Maccabeus's forgiveness when Lighter Than Some decides to show that it's been building agricultural machines for the humans instead of fixing the dropships. [[spoiler:Fortunately for both Dadab and Lighter Than Some, the Brutes mistake Lighter Than Some's inventions for weapons, and are happy to put them to use.]]
* RammingAlwaysWorks: Mack takes down the Spirit dropship chasing Johnson and Byrne by ramming it with several JOTUN crop dusters.
* RampJump: In a nod to the games, Johnson and Byrne manage to get into the last container leaving Gladsheim by launching their Warthog off a loading ramp. Justified by Mack having been adjusting the container's speed as necessary.
* RedOniBlueOni: Cool-minded and calculating Fortitude is the Blue to HotBlooded and rash Tranquility's Red.
* ReligiousBruiser: Maccabeus's Brute pack aboard the ''Rapid Conversion'' are all hand-picked for not just their combat skills, but their strong faith in the Forerunners.
* TheReveal:
** The novel reveals the ''true'' reason behind the Human-Covenant War: [[spoiler: When the Minister of Fortitude and the Vice-Minister of Tranquility go to the Philologist to affirm on their behalf, entering the data on Harvest causes the Oracle, Mendicant Bias, to reactivate, and inform the three Prophets that what they think are relics for "Reclamation" are actually "Reclaimers", the humans of Harvest he identifies as his makers. Fortitude concludes that the humans are living Forerunners left behind when the rest used the Halo Array to transcend. While they stop Mendicant Bias from launching the Dreadnought, Fortitude and Tranquility decide to eradicate the humans, lest this knowledge go public and tear the Covenant apart, especially since they had, by then, started to kill humans, which would be considered sacrilege. Fortitude and Tranquility induct the Philologist into their scheme and ascend as the High Prophets of Truth, Regret, and Mercy, beginning the Human-Covenant War.]]
** An early one happens when DCS[[note]]Department of Commercial Shipping[[/note]] middle manager Jilan al-Cygni reveals both her true identity as an ONI agent and the real reason why Johnson and Byrne have been transferred to Harvest.
** [[spoiler:Mack reveals to Sif that he's also a former ship AI named Loki.]]
* RevengeBeforeReason: [[spoiler:When Jenkins sees Tartarus, he becomes so focused on avenging his family that he disobeys Johnson to chase the Brute down, which almost gets him killed when he's ambushed by Flim.]]
* TheRevolutionWillNotBeCivilized: The Insurrectionists commit a fair number of atrocities, such as taking children hostage and bombing civilian passenger ships.
* RoboRomance: Mack often flirts with Sif, much to the latter's annoyance. [[spoiler: By the end, Sif admits to reciprocating Mack's affections.]] Justified, since "Smart" [=AIs=] are basically just scanned human brains with a lot more processing power.
* SceneryPorn: The detailed description of the Tiara and its golden space elevators when Johnson sees them for the first time.
* SlaveRevolt: The Unggoy/Grunt Rebellion, which nearly shattered the Covenant before it was finally put down.
* ShellShockedVeteran: Both Johnson and Byrne are haunted by their experiences fighting the Insurrection.
* SignLanguage: Dadab and Lighter Than Some primarily communicate with each other in Huragok sign language, with the former acting as the latter's interpreter.
* StunGuns: A paintball-based variation; in training exercises, the militia recruits use tactical training rounds (TTR), bullets which dissolve into harmless blobs of red paint within 10 cm of any surface, with the "stun" part being that the paint is a powerful anesthetic. Additionally, the paint also stiffens the nanofibers of the recruits' training fatigues, in order to simulate non-fatal but crippling injuries like getting shot in the knee.
* SuddenPrincipledStand: When a somewhat drunk Healy suggests to Johnson that they visit "a place with ''really'' friendly ladies", the latter goes into TranquilFury mode, giving Healy a stern dressing-down about the need to respect the uniform and all the men who died wearing it. While Johnson means everything he says, he realizes he's being a bit of a hypocrite, given that the last thing he did before being reassigned to Harvest was getting drunk in Chicago's shadiest bars.
* SurroundedByIdiots: Even Dadab privately admits that the ''Rapid Conversion''[='s=] Unggoy crew are exceptionally dim, even by the already low standards of their kind. Justified by Maccabeus's Sangheili masters deliberately providing him with bottom-of-the-barrel Unggoy out of contempt for his kind.
* SmokingIsCool: Played straight with Captain Ponder and Sergeant Johnson, who enjoy a few Sweet Williams cigars. [[spoiler:In the epilogue, Johnson gives Jenkins and Forsell his last remaining cigar after offering them a place in the Marines.]] Subverted with the Minister of Fortitude, who uses some tobacco designed to keep one awake during a long meeting, and suffers a terrible headache afterward.
* SpaceElevator: Harvest has [[ArcNumber seven]], all supported by a massive space station known as the Tiara.
* SpacePirates: Kig-yar/Jackals live off this, to the point that the Covenant first make contact with humanity when the Kig-yar ship ''Minor Transgression'' raids a human commercial vessel.
* SplitPersonalityTeam: [[spoiler:In preparation for the incoming Covenant, Mack becomes Loki, a Planetary Security Intelligence that activates whenever Mack needs "a clear mind, not one filled with crop cycles and soil tests." Unlike affable and agreeable Mack, Loki is cold and ruthless.]]
** [[spoiler:Technically speaking, they're two separate [=AIs=] that share the same data center, but they regard each other as two halves of the same being, to the point where their avatars are mostly identical.]]
* StartOfDarkness: For [[spoiler:the Minister of Fortitude, aka the Prophet of Truth]], as we see the beginning of his descent from a relatively well-intentioned bureaucrat to a power-hungry schemer.
* StateSec: The Office of Naval Intelligence, represented in the novel primarily by operative Jilan al-Cygni.
* SterilityPlague: The Infusion Incident, which occurred when vigilante Kig-Yar captains deliberately contaminated Unggoy narcotics in order to sterilize High Charity's growing Unggoy population, which had displaced a great number of Kig-Yar nests. The Minister of Concert's refusal to punish the perpetrators would become the most important of the many grievances which sparked the Unggoy Rebellion.
* StuffBlowingUp: [[spoiler:After being mortally wounded by Johnson, Jackal Shipmistress Chur'R Yar blows up her ship ''Minor Transgression'' by igniting its methane suite, in an effort to take her killer down with her.]]
* SubspaceAnsible: Zig-zagged.
** Most averted for humanity; while [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maser maser]] bursts work fine over relatively short distances, long-range communication between human colonies require FTL-capable freighters to act as "the twenty-sixth-century equivalent of the pony express".
** The Covenant are fully capable of FTL communications, and the book has a fun example of this working to somebody's disadvantage. All Covenant ships are equipped with a Forerunner device known as a "luminary", which scans for Forerunner energy signatures (and other factors) and automatically relays the data back to the Covenant capital of High Charity; the one on a Kig-yar privateer ship registers Harvest as having lots of Forerunner relics. Tampering with luminaries is forbidden under the pain of death (not the least reason being that they're Forerunner relics and are thus holy); the Kig-Yar attempt to do just that in order to prevent their luminary from letting the Covenant know about their discovery. They fail, which leads to the titular "Contact Harvest".
* TalkingThroughTechnique: A technological variation; when al-Cygni is auditing Mack and Sif, the latter two are also communicating privately through code, which is mostly just Mack teasing Sif and Sif getting angry in response. However, al-Cygni quickly notices that the two are having a private conversation when Sif is just a few seconds late in responding to her; Sif has to quickly claim that she and Mack were simply comparing records.
* TalkingToTheDead: [[spoiler:Mack's final transmissions are him continually sending messages to a dead Sif.]]
* TeethClenchedTeamwork:
** The Harvest recruits quickly figure out that their drill instructors Johnson and Byrne do not get along. Additionally, Johnson doesn't care much for Healy's more casual and friendly attitude towards recruits.
** Despite being co-conspirators, Fortitude quickly makes it clear that he's beginning to think of Tranquility as a potential liability, [[spoiler:foreshadowing their relationship as the High Prophets of Truth and Regret]].
* TrainingThePeacefulVillagers: Johnson's and Byrne's main assignment on Harvest is to help train the locals into a proper Colonial Militia; Johnson himself wonders if giving weapons to the denizens of politically unstable worlds is such a good idea. However, the trope is partly subverted in that not all the recruits are completely raw, with several being law enforcement veterans.
* {{Tsundere}}: Sif is Type B, and finds it frustrating how Mack is able to so efficiently push her buttons. One example of such is when he misquotes a Creator/WilliamShakespeare play and jokes about her not knowing what it is, and she's so irritated by it that she replies with not just the complete works of Shakespeare in several different languages, but a multitude of other plays ranging from Aeschylus to "the twenty-fifth-century absurdist dialectics of Cosmic Commedia Cooperative". He just finds this overreaction amusing.
* UnwittingInstigatorOfDoom:
** Lighter Than Some attempts to atone for killing Gibson by inventing farming machines as gifts for the people of Harvest. When its work is discovered by its Brute overseers, they turn its creation into vehicles of war; specifically, the first Brute Choppers, which are used to deadly effect against Harvest's people.
** [[spoiler:Mendicant Bias revealing the special relationship between humanity and the Forerunners is what causes the future Prophets of Truth, Regret, and Mercy to decide that humanity must be completely wiped out, since they realize that such a revelation would cause the Covenant to collapse.]]
* TheWarOfEarthlyAggression: The early Johnson-focused chapters center around the conflict between the UNSC and separatist rebels, known as the Insurrection.
* WatchingTroyBurn: When the ''Rapid Conversion'' starts glassing Harvest, Johnson notes that each of the hundreds of smoke plumes he sees in the distance represents the smouldering remains of a once-thriving homestead and its inhabitants.
* WolfInSheepsClothing: al-Cygni in her "DCS manager" disguise affects a pleasant demeanor, but as Johnson quickly finds out, she's absolutely ruthless.
* WrongAssumption: Given the First Contact premise, there's enough to fill a Forerunner shield world:
** al-Cygni initially believes the ''Minor Transgression''[='s=] raids on human ships are Insurrectionist attacks; she only realizes her mistake after Johnson and Byrne encounter its alien crew firsthand.
** For most of the novel, the Covenant assume that the Luminaries are indicating that human space is full of Forerunner relics to be "reclaimed". [[spoiler:In fact, they're indicating that human space is full of humans, aka the "Reclaim''ers''".]]
** The UNSC initially don't realize that the Covenant is a multi-species empire, and assume that the ''Rapid Conversion'' is going to be crewed by Jackals like the last Covenant ship they encountered. As such, all the humans at the peace meeting on Harvest are shocked when the Covenant representatives turn out to be Brutes.
** The crew of the ''Rapid Conversion'' believe that there's a Forerunner Oracle on Harvest, when their Luminary is actually just detecting a human-made [=AI=]. [[spoiler:Harvest's defenders take advantage of this to lure the ''Rapid Conversion'' into a trap.]]
* YouHaveFailedMe: Tartarus throws Yull down a waterfall for disobeying orders and prematurely starting a shootout with the humans. Later, he kills Bapap for being too injured to be of use.
* YouKnowTooMuch: [[spoiler:Loki basically murders Sif in order to ensure that the Covenant don't get access to her data.]]
* YoureCuteWhenYoureAngry: Mack cheerfully admits to Sif that this is why he likes to annoy her.
* YourTerroristsAreOurFreedomFighters: It's noted that there are widespread numbers of people, even on Earth itself, who sympathize with the Insurrectionists' goals, even if they don't approve of their methods.