The Reef Wars were a series of conflicts that took place in the Solar System's asteroid belt, waged between the Awoken of the Reef and the Fallen House of Wolves. They ended with Skolas' confinement in the Prison of Elders and Queen Mara assuming the Kellship over the Wolves, bringing the defeated Fallen into her realm.
The seeds of the conflict were sown when the House of Kings and their mysterious Kell organized a massive attack against the Last City on Earth so that they might shatter humanity's final bastion and claim the "Great Machine", a limitless supplier of ether, for themselves. Mustering the might of the House of Devils from Earth and the House of Winter from Venus, the Kings also sent their summons beyond the asteroid belt to the House of Wolves.
Virixas, the Kell of Wolves, heeded the call and amassed his fleet from the Jovians with the intention of combining his House's strength, which ranged between the hundreds of thousands to millions, with the Fallen coalition gathering for the assault. Pushing through the asteroid belt toward Earth, the Wolves' presence stirred the Awoken who knew of the coming attack through their Techeuns and Crows but lacked any means of warning the City. Whether Mara Sov, the Queen of the Reef, sought to save potential allies from the coming onslaught, or simply desired to bring the Wolves under her rule, is unclear, as the Fallen and Awoken share different views on this; but regardless of the Queen's motives, she acted.
At some point, the Reef allied with the Nine. What role they played or what motivation they had is unknown at this time, though it is possible that the Wolves were a common enemy, as they were originally occupying the outer system.
Course of the war
Virixas had the Wolf fleet regroup at Ceres, a dwarf planet in the belt, still seemingly oblivious of the Awoken's presence until the light from their ship engines appeared. The Awoken fleet consisted of starfighters, destroyers, frigates, and other ships salvaged from the Reef, led personally by Queen Mara. Unworried by this seemingly meager force, Virixas warned the Queen to surrender. The Awoken respond by cutting their engines and drifting; at this point Mara and Virixas engaged in banter, with the latter hoping it would give his ships time to draw the coming battle away from Ceres. This would not be the case, however, as the Queen would summon her Harbingers.
Massive superweapons of unclear origin, the Harbingers first disrupted Fallen ships and Servitors so severely that they were left barely operable, then unleashed such destructive force that Ceres and over half of the House of Wolves were wiped out; among those killed in the massacre was Virixas, the Kell of Wolves himself. Before they could be completely annihilated the remaining Wolves—under half the original House—scattered into the asteroid belt, never to see battle at the Twilight Gap. Although the Queen managed to save the City from their attack three new claimants to the Kellship rose to threaten her people: Irxis, Wolf Baroness; Parixas, the Howling; and Skolas, the Rabid.
The three claimants to the throne instigated a civil war within the House of Wolves. In the early part of the war, Irxis had the upper hand; while the other claimants tried to gather as many Kaliks Servitors for themselves, Irxis controlled the Orbiks Servitors, who had permissions on the Kaliks Servitors, giving her a tactical advantage over her enemies.
Skolas sought to eliminate Irxis first, in a devastating battle known as the Eos Clash. Leading Skolas' fleet was Peekis; his determination brought victory, and Irxis' death, but at a terrible cost to his own side. Skolas had Peekis demoted to Dreg for his recklessness. Wolfship Orbiks-Fel was destroyed at this time.
Razing of Amethyst and Battle of Iris
The Silent Fang, Skolas' elite assassin unit led by Drevis, attacked an Awoken space station called Amethyst; slaughtering all aboard. Paladin Abra Zire gave chase to the Silent Fang to Iris, where they engaged a Wolf Ketch. To their surprise, however, it was not Drevis' ship, but Parixas'. Grayor, another vassal of Skolas and the Fang, had tricked the Awoken into defeating Skolas' last rival. With Skolas as sole claimant to the throne, he declared himself the Kell of Wolves.
Battle of Bamberga's Wrath
With the Wolves divided no longer, and gaining the upper hand, attacking 10 Hygiea, the Reef Crows finally cracked their encryption and discovered the Wolves had miscalculated the eccentricity of the asteroid Bamberga. Using this knowledge, Paladin Imogen Rife tricked Drevis into flying in Bamerga's path, destroying her Ketch and leading to her and her High Servitor's capture. Rife took the prisoners to Vesta but was ambushed at Pallas by Pirsis.
Siege of Pallas
In an effort to rescue Drevis, Pirsis attacked Pallas with the largest Wolf fleet gathered since the beginning of the Wars. She was met with near equal force, as the Queen reinforced Pallas with Armada Paladins Abra Zire and Kamala Rior, but the battle stalemated: neither side could use their full strength without risking collateral damage. Skolas diverted some of the Reef fleet into the Hildian Asteroids with help of Beltrik, the Veiled, to lessen the pressure on Pirsis.
The several-year-long siege was eventually broken by an unsanctioned attack led by Weksis, a lone Dreg and a group of fanatics. They managed to breach a section but were captured by Commander Hallam Fen, Rife's protégé. Pirsis decided to attack in his footsteps to take advantage of the confusion, and reached Kaliks-4's cell. However, she was delayed by Imogen Rife who destroyed the Servitor rather than it be freed. In revenge Pirsis killed Rife and fled.
Commander Fen was able to link up with the Reef and orchestrated a plan with the Crows and Techeuns to devise a mass illusion of the Queen's Harbingers. The Wolves broke ranks immediately, allowing Fen and Paladins Leona Bryl and Kamala Rior to finish them off. Fen was promoted to one of the Queen's Paladins in his mentor's place for bringing Drevis alive to Vesta.
Hildian Campaign and the Fortuna Plummet
To try and break the siege at Pallas, the Queen ordered Paladins Abra Zire and Kamala Rior to hunt for Skolas. However, this eventually proved fruitless after he disappeared into the Hildian Asteroids, and it became known as the Battle of False Tidings. Beltrik, Skolas' vassal, eventually left the Hildians to gather Ether from the asteroid 19 Fortuna, positioning the bulk of his forces above the resupply area in order to form a defensive screen against any potential attack from the Armada Paladins. Unbeknownst to Beltrik however, following Bamberga's Wrath, the Reef had constructed a powerful gravity weapon known as "Charybdis", and Zire planned to utilize it together with her experience.
Knowing that Beltrik expected Zire to throw her forces against his defensive fleet, she devised a strategy to make him believe she was doing just that, dividing her forces and sending a portion of them to engage Beltrik's screen. While her feint kept his forces contained at Fortuna, Zire then gathered the rest of her fleet at asteroid 687 Tinette, which was making a close pass by Fortuna at the time. With the remainder of her fleet safely hidden within Tinette's shadow, she activated Charybdis defensive system. The weapon's beam pushed Tinette out of its orbit and sent it hurtling into Fortuna, destroying both asteroids and obliterated Beltrik's host. In the ensuing chaos, Beltrik's shattered and disarrayed forces were quickly neutralized by the full might of Zire's now-recombined fleet and Beltrik himself was captured and taken to the Queen.
After the battle, the Crows made contact with Variks, a former scribe of House Judgment. Variks was displeased with Skolas, as he was too vicious and hateful—it is rumored that it was Skolas who docked Variks' arms—and the scribe was willing to side with the Reef to stop him.
Most of his lieutenants dead or captured, Skolas planned an attack on the Awoken fortress of Cybele to change the tide of the war. Thanks to Variks' betrayal, however, the Reef knew of this, and so when he arrived all four Armada Paladins were waiting with a large fleet. Defeated in a decisive battle, surrounded on all sides, Skolas was captured and locked away in the Prison of Elders. Most of the Silent Fang were killed, and the rest captured.
With most of the Wolf nobility incarcerated in the Prison of Elders, Variks declared Mara Sov the new Kell of Wolves, and advised other captives to swear their fealty to her. The first amongst them to do so was Saviks, who became chief of the Wolf contingent of her guard. A small few attempted to continue their fight against the Awoken, such as Veliniks, the Ravenous. This would-be Kell rallied a group of Wolves to fight with him, but before he could strike he was captured by Corsair Petra Venj, who fought during the Hildian Campaign.
Tracking Veliniks to Earth, inside a valley, Petra ordered an airstrike that resulted in Guardian casualties; this led to increased tensions between the Reef and the City, and Petra was demoted and sent away from the Reef, to be recalled years later during the Wolf rebellion.
Some time after the Wars' end, Queen Mara gifted an imprisoned Skolas to the Nine to commemorate their victory against the Fallen and as a "prisoner" exchange, but in an act of apparent subterfuge, Skolas was freed by one of their agents and given a ship. Declaring himself Kell of Kells, Skolas found renewed purpose and led a new uprising to unite the Fallen and claim the Great Machine. Saviks and his Fallen heard of Skolas' return, and were the first to rise against the Queen, attempting to assassinate her. Though many so-called of these "Queenbreakers" fell, their weapons claimed as trophies, and Saviks sent to the Prison of Elders, he and many other Wolf nobles would escape soon after. In response, the Queen placed bounties on these enemies and called to the Guardians of the City to quell the rebellion.
List of appearances