Halo is a military science fiction media franchise created by Bungie, owned and published by Xbox Game Studios. The central focus of the franchise builds on the experiences of Master Chief John-117, one of a group of supersoldiers code-named Spartans, and his artificial intelligence (AI) companion, Cortana. The original trilogy centers on an interstellar war between humanity and an alliance of aliens known as The Covenant. The Covenant, led by their religious leaders called the Prophets, worship an ancient civilization known as the Forerunners, who perished while defeating the parasitic Flood. The eponymous Halo Array are a group of immense, habitable, ring-shaped superweapons that were created by the Forerunners to destroy the Flood, but which the Covenant mistake for religious artifacts that, if activated, would transport them on a Great Journey to meet the Forerunners. In the distant past, a powerful race called the Forerunners fought an alien parasite known as the Flood. The Flood, which spread through infestation of sentient life, overran much of the Milky Way Galaxy.
Exhausting all other strategies, the Forerunners conceived the Halo Array, ring-shaped megastructures and weapons of last resort that would destroy all sentient life in the galaxy to stop the Flood. Delaying as long as they could, the Forerunners activated the rings and disappeared. Nearly a hundred thousand years later in the 26th century, humanity, under the auspices of the United Nations Space Command, or UNSC, colonize many worlds thanks to the development of faster-than-light “Slipspace” travel. Tensions between the government and colonies desiring independence sparks violent clashes. The UNSC sponsors the SPARTAN-II Project to create an elite group of enhanced supersoldiers, whose purpose is to suppress the rebellions covertly. In the year 2525, human worlds come under attack by a theocratic alliance of alien races known as the Covenant. The Covenant leadership declares humanity heretics and an affront to their gods, the Forerunners, and begin a genocidal holy war. The Covenant’s superior technology and numbers prove decisive advantages, but though effective the Spartans are too few in number to turn the tide of battle in humanity’s favor.
After the Covenant invade Reach, the UNSC’s last major stronghold besides Earth, Master Chief John-117 is one of the few remaining Spartans left. The rediscovery of the Halo rings sets the humans against the Covenant, who believe they are instruments of transcendence, not destruction. Master Chief and his artificial intelligence Cortana are instrumental in the destruction of a Halo ring to stop the Covenant and the threat of the Flood. The Covenant descends into civil war following the expulsion of the Sangheili species, with many grappling over the revelation that their religion is false. The disgraced former Covenant Sangheili commander known as the Arbiter, along with the rest of his race, help the humans destroy the Covenant and stop its leader, Truth, from activating the Halo Array via the Ark. The Human-Covenant War ends, though conflict continues to rage throughout the universe. The UNSC creates a new generation of Spartans, and tensions between the UNSC and colonists resume.
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