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In the beginning of Halo 2, Regret invaded the Earth.

But, in Halo: Combat Evolved, Covenant didn't know anything about Earth.

Captain Jacob Keyes: "Report!"
Cortana: "It must have been one of their boarding parties! I'd guess an Antimatter Charge!"
Fire Control Officer: "Ma'am! Fire control to the main cannon is offline!" Cortana: "Captain, the cannon was my last offensive option."
Captain Jacob Keyes: "Alright then. I'm initiating Cole Protocol, Article 2. We're abandoning the Autumn. That means you too, Cortana."
Cortana: "While you do what, go down with the ship?"
Captain Jacob Keyes: "In a manner of speaking. The object we found, I'm going to try and land the Autumn on it."
Cortana: "With all due respect, sir, this war has enough dead heroes."
Captain Jacob Keyes: "I appreciate your concern, Cortana, but it's not up to me. Protocol is clear. Destruction or capture of a shipboard AI is absolutely unacceptable, that means you're leaving the ship. Lock in a selection of emergency landing zones, upload them to my neural lace, and then sort yourself for a hard transfer."
Cortana: "Aye aye, sir."
Captain Jacob Keyes: "Which is where you come in, Chief. Get Cortana off this ship. Keep her safe from the enemy. If they capture her, they'll learn everything. Force deployment, weapons research... Earth."
Master Chief: "I understand."

In the end, 343 Guilty Spark got into data array of Cortana, but data didn't go into the hands of the Covenant.

In Halo 2, Covenant prophets did capture 343 Guilty Spark, but that was after Regret invasion of Earth.

How did Regret get coordinates of Earth to get here?

  • I don't think anyone says anywhere they came to Earth to get a human to activate the array- in fact, that seems excessive when they could have ordered their troops to start taking prisoners or gone to one of the colonies. Evidenced by the fact that they left Earth without taking anyone. I'm not sure they were even aware of the human capacity to operate Forerunner technology. – PointlessSpike Sep 4 '14 at 13:58
  • @PointlessSpike But, they did activate Halo installation 5 using a human. – Captain Cold Sep 4 '14 at 14:03
  • Actually, it's possible they knew from the beginning. I remember that they noticed Forerunner sensors marked humans as reclaimers during Contact Harvest and covered it up, so that answers that question. – PointlessSpike Sep 4 '14 at 14:37
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If I remember correctly, Regret took possession of a Forerunner artifact called the Luminary, when activated it showed Regret the Ark, and a way to get there, by means of the Key ship and the Portal buried in a planet called "Erde-Tyrene" ... Earth . After seing this, Regret impulsively ordered a course for Erde-Tyrene, with whatever ships he had at the moment. The Luminary made no mention of Humans and so Regret had no idea that this planet was actually Earth, the Human's home world the Covenant have been looking for the whole time. This also explains why the fleet that Regret brought was small, compared to the other invasion fleets, more specifically, the fleet that invaded Reach - “Something's not right. The fleet that destroyed Reach was fifty times this size!”- Lord Hood, (HALO 2). So in short, they found Earth by accident.

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Regret wasn't invading Earth to grab a human. He wasn't expecting to find humans at all. Cortana says as much, when defending New Mombassa.

Cortana: I've been analyzing the Covenant tactical chatter. They're surprised ...confused. I don't think they expected us to be here. Not you and me. All of us...humanity...on Earth. Odd, I know, but it does help explain why they came here with such a small fleet.

-Halo 2 script, Chapter 4: Outskirts, Speed Zone Ahead

Regret came to Earth for the Forerunner artifact, the Portal you take to the Ark in Halo 3. So presumably he found the coordinates at another Forerunner installation.

http://halo.wikia.com/wiki/Battle_of_Earth

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