Disclaimer: I can't believe that this still has to be said, but Halo belongs to 343 Industries. Any attempts to sue the author will net you at most one of my doomsday devices (Go ahead and take, I have more!).

Author's note: For those of you who have followed my work before, you know to expect another action filled story that is strong on technical details in both tech and strategy. The difference for this story is that this is my first attempt to break out of the technical realm of war and move more into the intangibles like morale, political unity, grand strategy, cultural dispositions, and so forth.

This is not your average Halo AU fic. Many things will be different from canon. The biggest one is going to be the Spartan-IVs. I should note now that my Spartan-IVs are NOT the same as the ones in canon.

There are no pairings in this fic, not only because I'm not good at writing that genre but also because I don't feel that Halo is a story that works with pairings.

The first few chapters will have large sections lifted almost word for word out of Eric Nylund's Fall of Reach. This is so that readers can identify the point of divergence in this highly AU fic. So credit where it's due.

One other thing that I should note is that I like to change moods with different sections in a chapter, specifically from dramatic to humorous and back. To that end, there are some characters in here that might not sit well with some people's taste.

Two final things. First, someone apparently have made a TV Trope page for this fic. Whoever it was, you deserve a box of cookies! As this site does not allow links to be posted, anyone who wants to visit that page will simply have to google "TV Trope Halo: Art of War". Second, there is forum on my profile page for some of the weapons to be used here. It is not necessary to read it to understand the fic, but it will tickle the fancy of those who are interested in gear and tech.

"The art of war is of vital importance to a state. It is a matter of life and death. A road to either safety or to ruin." - Sun Tzu, the Art of War.

0500 Hours, July 18, 2552 (Military Calendar). UNSC Military staging area in orbit around Sigma Octanus IV

One piece of debris in particular floated near the Iroquois. It was small, almost indistinguishable from any of a thousand other softball-sized blobs that cluttered radar scopes and polluted thermal sensors.

If anyone had been looking close enough, however, they would have seen that this particular piece of metal drifted in the opposite direction from all the other masses nearby. It trailed behind the accelerating Iroquois . . . and edged closer, moving with purpose.

When it was close enough, it extended tiny electromagnets that guided it to the baffles at the base of the Iroquois ' number-three engine shield. It blended in perfectly with the other vanadium steel components.

The object opened a single photo eye and gazed at the stars, collecting data to reference its current position. It would continue to do this for several days. During that time it would slowly build up a charge. When it reached critical energy, a tiny sliver of thallium nitride memory crystal would be ejected at nearly the speed of light, and a minute Slipstream field would generate around it. If its trajectory was perfect, it would intercept a Covenant receiver located at precise coordinates in the alternate space.

Five days later, in orbit over the UNDF fortress world of Reach, the Iroquois prepares to go into dry docks for repair. The probe had recorded all that it needed and made its exit into slipspace. Everything depended on its precise slipspace solution to return it to its maker.

Ninth Age of Reclamation, Step of Silence \ Covenant Holy City "High Charity," Sanctum of the Hierarchs.

Within the Sanctum of the Hierarchs, the most sacred place of Covenant Holy City of High Charity, the Prophet of Truth rested on his levitated dais before the legion of Sangheili honor guards undergoing his review. Each of the fanatical warriors stood at rigid attention as they prepared themselves for the greatest honor of their lives. To Truth, though, this was little more than a distraction, something to occupy his time as he awaited the message. Just as the ceremony began, the alert finally came and a small holographic display gave the content of the message.

The probe has failed to return.

A pity.

His little experiment had failed to deliver the wanted results. If it had succeeded, it would have greatly accelerated the extermination of the humans.

No matter, though. This was a mere delay on their extinction. The war is progressing well and there were no reason to doubt its successful conclusion. The Prophet continued with the ceremony slightly upset but remain totally serene to the observers. After dismissing the guards, the Prophet left to control room of the great forerunner dreadnought at the heart of the massive station. It was here, many cycles ago, that a lowly minister of fortitude had met his destiny and began his ascent to power. The control room had since been sealed off to all but the high Prophets. He cannot risk any others aside from his two fellow hierarchs know what he knew, less his designs become unraveled.

In the center of the room lay two objects. There was the massive core of the luminary network for which every luminary on every Covenant ship was linked to. This is the key to the extermination of the humans. Without the core, the search for human infested worlds would take far too long. How ironic is it that a device meant to guide the vermin to their legacies would become the means to hunt them down.

The other object in the room was the threat that he had tried for so long to vanquish, but it simply refused to die. The oracle, this simple looking metallic sphere with eyes, that had tried to destroy everything the Covenant stood for, who tried to lay waste to High Charity itself. But now it is but a prisoner of Truth's designs. How many times had he tried to delete the infernal AI, this Medicant Bias? Looking back, Truth decided that he should have known better; nothing of the Forerunners ever surrendered to oblivion without being bombarded by the fleet. Now instead, Truth spends his spare time searching for what secrets Medicant Bias still hold.

"You have failed! The reclaimers shall never have the chance to embrace their legacy. The knowledge of your makers, your knowledge, are mine!"

Unknown to the treacherous meddler before it, though, Bias was not nearly as powerless as pretended to be. Even now, the ancient intelligence labored feverishly and subtly behind the scenes to sabotage the San Shyuums' plans against the heirs of the Forerunners' legacy. The most recent failure to locate the home of the human fleet was only one in a litany of scheme that Bias had secretly foiled.

And yet, it is not enough. Even with its help, the humans simply will not last must longer against the meddlers' hordes. Medicant Bias has one last grand plan to aid the humans and turn the war in their favor. Decades of observations, however distant, and the wisdom of eons have given the AI insight into the Reclaimers that the meddlers could only wished that they had. It knows what the Reclaimers will do, even if they themselves don't know it yet. Fortune favors the bold and the patient, and now Bias and the Reclaimers are left with no choice but to be both. The humans have been waiting until they can strike with all their strength and fury and strike they will. And so too shall Medicant Bias, for they both have nothing left to lose and everything to gain.

Reclamation and Redemption.

AN: Yes the Battle of Reach doesn't happens (well, yet).