Literature / Halo: First Strike

Halo: First Strike is a Halo book bridging the events of Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2. As the latter hadn't yet been made when the book was written, there are some inconsistencies between the two, some of which Tor rectified with an updated edition.

No relation to the Jackie Chan movie of the same name.

First Strike provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: A great deal of subplot mysteries in this book don't come up again after this book.
    • The Forerunner crystal, which is deemed too dangerous by Halsey and so destroyed. The Prophet of Truth receives a few fragments that he thinks may be good for his plans, but that's the last we've heard of it.
    • The Ascendant Justice has numerous unsolved mysteries, including its unusually small crew, its AI unlike any known Covenant one, and one of its passengers supposedly having been the "Guardian of the Luminous Key".
    • Sergeant Johnson's immunity to the Flood has also never come up again. In this case, it is intentional; Bungie has said they've chosen to ignore it.
  • A Father to His Men: Whitcomb.
  • Ace Pilot: Sheila Polaski
  • Badass Boast: Admiral Whitcomb's transmission to the Covenant fleet after crashing the Ascendant Justice into Unyielding Hierophant:
    "We're here in the middle of your fleet with your 'holy of holies'. Come and get it!"
  • Badass Crew: The mixture of Spartan, Navy, and Marine characters.
  • The Captain: While he's technically a vice admiral, Danforth Whitcomb fills this role to the letter. Complete with a gruff personality, Texan accent and a mustache.
  • Continuity Nod: During the mission to the Unyielding Hierophant, Cortana is mentioned as splitting herself into copies in order to fulfill various functions. She later does this in the finale of Halo 4.
  • Fictional Document: The 2010 rerelease to celebrate the launch of Halo: Reach includes a few transcripts and documents further expanding on the EU.
  • Four-Star Badass: Vice Admiral Danforth Whitcomb.
  • Heroic Sacrifice / Dying Moment of Awesome: Whitcomb and Haverson.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Haverson kills an Engineer who just repaired John's armor in order to keep the Covenant from getting any data on it. He finds the act just as despicable as Cortana does, but stands by his decision. Also, when Whitcomb decides they bail out while the Covenant come in and destroy Eridanus Secundus.
  • I Like Those Odds: Averted when Fred leads a 3-man Spartan team to destroy a Covenant cruiser
    Kelly: I'm all for a good fight, Fred, but those odds are a little lopsided even for ten thousand to one.
    • Fortunately, Fred has a plan to destroy the entire task force.
  • Killing for a Tissue Sample: Sergeant Johnson turns out to be immune to the Flood. Halsey gives John the choice of giving the Office of the Naval Intelligence one of two data crystals. One directly mentions Johnson by name and and outlines how his nerve condition makes him immune, the other has the same information but omits his name and DNA. She warns John that giving ONI the former will likely cause them to dissect Johnson in hopes of figuring out the cure. John struggles with which is better to give, and chooses the latter.
    • Sadly, it turns out this was all for nothing- see Retcon below.
  • The Last Dance: When Whitcomb and Haverson crash the Ascendant Justice into Unyielding Hierophant and lure the Covenant fleet in, destroying most of the ships as the station blows up.
  • MacGuffin: The Forerunner crystal seems to serve no purpose other than getting the survivors from Halo to Reach in time, allowing them to escape the besieged Reach and creating an exotic setting for a space battle. While Truth mentions its remnants may be "enough for their purposes" in the end, it's never referenced again.
  • Mauve Shirt: Most of the Spartans on Master Chief's team.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Cortana discovers the Covvie ships, with their better technology than the UNSC, are capable of jumping within a gravity well easily. The Covenant AI she's on the ship with leaks the info to Covvie ships nearby, and it's used in Halo 2 by the Covenant. The shockwave destroys the city of New Mombasa, and the ship's jump prevents the squad in Halo 3: ODST from landing correctly.
  • Noodle Incident: As the Chief and his team gear up for a Zero-G op, they reminisce about a training mission they had
    Fred: This reminds me of the underwater mission Chief Mendez sent us on at Emerald Cove. When he sabotaged half our air tanks? And we ended up stealing his?
    Anton: (laughing) And after, we ditched him and camped on that island. It was a week of nothing to do but light bonfires, bake clams, and surf.
    Grace: Mmmmm, calamari.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Haverson, despite outranking the Master Chief, willingly concedes command of the mission to the Spartan. Later when the mission changes and he retakes command, Haverson is still agrees to take them back to Reach even though he knows that Master Chief really only wants to go to check for surviving Spartans.
    • Whitcomb as well.
  • Retcon: The 2010 rerelease changes a number of details to make the book mesh better with later canon, as well as to simply fix internal inconsistencies. For one thing, Brutes are no longer referred to as a newly encountered species when the Spartans fight them.
    • Later data on the Halo-verse revealed that Sergeant Johnson is not immune to the Flood, he just outfought them and escaped on his own merits. The irregularity in his nervous system is due to him being a SPARTAN-I, an earlier super soldier program that predates the Spartans that we are more familiar with.
  • Sacrificial Lion All of the Spartans, except for John, Fred, Will, Linda, and Kelly.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Master Chief and co. crash landed into the Ascendant Justice's hanger bay at 300 meters per second, or 671.1 miles per hour, and then get right back up. Sure, Master Chief has his armor, and the ship may be made of some kind of future metal that doesn't disintegrate upon crashing at Mach 0.9, but, c'mon, Sergeant Johnson wasn't even wearing a seat belt.
    • On the other hand, it's Sergeant Johnson, the man is legitimately badass.
  • Tempting Fate: Mixed a little with Underestimating Badassery, while on the Unyielding Hierophant, a Cortana clone finds out what the Chief and the rest of the Spartans would be encountering shortly and states this little gem.
    "Also be advised, Chief, that there are ceremonial guards in this temple—a race we have not encountered before. Roughly translated from Covenant dialects, they are called 'Brutes'. They shouldn't be a significant threat or they would have been used in previous military situations."
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: Check the dates that the story takes place from. The Chief escaped Halo on September 22. It ends on September 13. That Forerunner crystal was warping time.
  • Title Drop: "We're going to take this fight to the Covenant. We're going to launch a first strike."
    • And the attack itself is codenamed Operation: FIRST STRIKE.
  • Try Not to Die: When the Chief and the other Spartans leave to fix the ship.
    Whitcomb: Chief, make sure you come back alive. That's an order, son.
  • Underside Ride: In a flashback it's revealed that the Spartan team did this during an exercise. The soldiers they were up against suspected this, and ran mirrors along the bottom of the car to check for them. The Spartans suspected this, and brought along their own mirrors to counter.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer: Cortana needs to disrupt the mainframe on the Covenant space station they're invading. Her answer? Clone herself about a gajillion times, resulting in a DDoS attack that is so effective that Cortana herself starts having trouble communicating with John.