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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:

  • A Father to His Men: Whitcomb.
  • 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!"
  • 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.
  • Did Not Do the Research: When Master Chief is escaping the Unyielding Hierophant, he climbs into a Banshee's "seat". Banshees don't have seats; the pilots lie prone to fly them.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Sacrificial Lion All of the Spartans, except for John, Fred, Will, Linda, and Kelly.
  • Title Drop: "We're going to take this fight to the Covenant. We're going to launch a first strike."
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: A number of plot points are brought up and then left unexplained within the book:
    • Why the Ascendant Justice had so few warriors on board. The characters remark that it's odd and it's never again mentioned.
    • Who or what exactly was the "Guardian of the Luminous Key" on board the Ascendant Justice.
    • Why Fred instinctively knew how to pilot the Wraith tank.
    • What exactly was the nature of the crystal the Covenant were so keen on getting.
    • The origin of the Covenant A.I. that Cortana encountered. Its code seemed frustratingly familiar to her, and it's never explained why.
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