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The hardest part of a last stand is when you’re the only one left…
When the original Halo: Combat Evolved launched with the original Xbox on November 15, 2001, we learned that The Pillar of Autumn, the ship carrying Master Chief to the eponymous ring of mass destruction, we learned they had just made a desperate lightspeed jump from the planet Reach, the overwhelmed former home of the Spartan super soldiers. Spartan 117 was the only one left according to the story, and as the trilogy came to a close in September of 2007, it seemed to be the truth. Readers of the novel The Fall of Reach, however knew there were some survivors.
Halo: Reach, released in September of 2010, brought us the story of the ill-fated planet. As Noble Six, a member of a squad of SPARTAN-IIIs, the newer and less powerful variant of Dr. Catherine Halsey’s super soldier program. You witness the initial invasion of the planet and take part in trying to turn back the overwhelming onslaught of the alien Covenant forces. Your successes are small and hard-earned. One by one, team members are dying around you; Jorge stay behind to detonate a damaged bomb, Kat is shot by a sniper, Jun personally escorts Dr. Halsey to safety and Carter slams his ship into an enemy assault platform. allies become fewer and fewer and the odds continue to go against your survival.
It’s down to you and Emile, two men with a suicidal mission: defend the Pillar of Autumn against a literal army of Covenant forces. It seems impossible, but you must fight. The last SPARTAN-II, the most advanced AI in existence, the secrets that may win the war and every last survivor of Reach is depending on you. You can’t let them down.
Then they arrive. You defend the Mass Driver Emile uses to keep the skies clear. The Autumn’s startup sequence is nearly complete, you’ve held your ground and your hope is running high…until an Elite gets to Emile. He bravely fights it off, but they’re both gone.
You’re all that’s left.
But there’s no retreat. No surrender. No failure for a Spartan. You take over the gun and pave the way to clear skies. You hear Captain Keyes thank you for saving them all, the ship flies out of orbit, some time later finding the Halo that’s starts the whole thing.
But you’re not dead yet.
Post-Credits, you see your soldier watch as the skies grow darker and Covenant forces start landing on the forsaken planet. You pick up your gun and are back in control. You have one objective left.
Enemies swarm your position, abandoned buildings provide little cover, and for every one you kill, two more emerge from the fog. Then you get hit, and you see something: a crack in your helmet. Then another. Your enemy becomes increasingly aggressive. Eventually, you take your helmet off to keep up the fighting.
From the camera inside you watch yourself continue the fight one enemy dead,then another. Then you get hit. You gun down two more but the third one knocks you down. You kick two more off you but the sword eventually strikes you. Blocked by an onlooking boot you watch as an Elite brings his sword up and hammers it home.
You arrive back at the first scene in the game, the cracked SPARTAN helmet on the ground. Your helmet. But the land is recovering. The sky is bright again. And, as Dr. Halsey narrates, there would have been no victory if not for the sacrifices of Noble Team, as a group and individually.
You saved humanity and died a hero. No one could ask for a better end.
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