Forerunner Dreadnought

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This article is about the Keyship. For the warship class, see Forerunner dreadnought.
Forerunner Dreadnought
Production information


  • Activation of portals to the Ark[1][2]
  • Transporting indexed lifeforms
  • San'Shyuum warship
  • Prophet of Truth's flagship


Capable of powering all of High Charity while not at full generating capacity

Slipspace drive:



Various weapons installed by the San'Shyuum (before demilitarization)[3]

Service information

Year introduced:

Forerunner-Flood war (at least 100,000 BCE)

Latest sighted:

November 2552


Battle of Installation 00

Participated battles:

Battle of Earth


Truth's fleet

Known commanders:

Prophet of Truth


  • Forerunner
  • Covenant
"My Dreadnought, the vessel that has so long been the focus of our worship, now rests on its true pedestal. Even now, its engines spark greater ones below, relics long without power, yet ready to fulfill their divine purpose. Stand fast! Keep our enemies at bay! Soon, my brothers, we will all have our reward!"
Prophet of Truth to his troops during the Battle of Earth.[4]

The Forerunner Dreadnought, colloquially known as the Forerunner ship, was the Covenant name for a Forerunner Keyship originally discovered by the San'Shyuum on their homeworld.[5][6]

The Keyships were a large part of the Forerunner strategy against the Flood, as they were the only vessels capable of activating slipspace portals to reach the Ark. One of these Keyships, later known as the Dreadnought to the Covenant, would later be found and used by the San'Shyuum, and would later become an integral part of the Covenant religion, as well as power for the Covenant holy city, High Charity. Featuring a power generation capacity and shielding unparalleled by human or Covenant technology, the ship was used as the flagship of the High Prophet of Truth in the final battles of the Human-Covenant War.


The history of the Forerunner Dreadnought is quite extensive, going back to about 100,000 years.

Forerunner-Flood war[edit]

During the Forerunner-Flood war, Keyships were used by the Librarian to index and catalog life in the galaxy and transport it to the Ark. The Librarian, however, destroyed her Keyships to prevent them from falling into the hands of the Flood, who with them, would be able to instantaneously travel to the Ark, rendering the Halo Array useless. Near the end of the war, the Keyships were part of a strategy to hold off the Flood for nearly 79 years,[7] although this advantage would be foiled by the massive computing power of the Flood.

After the activation of the Array, several Keyships automatically were sent out into the galaxy, containing numerous specimens of various alien races, to ensure that life would go on. One of these vessels re-seeded life to the San'Shyuum homeworld Janjur Qom. Instead of leaving the planet afterward, as was the case with other re-seeded species, the vessel remained there for unknown reasons. After the Human-Covenant War, ancient Covenant records which may contain information on this matter were researched jointly by human and Sangheili scholars on Sanghelios.[8]


Main article: San'Shyuum Schism

Early in the history of the San'Shyuum, they found and worshipped a Forerunner Dreadnought that they uncovered on their homeworld. At the time, the ship was partially buried in rock and submerged under the sea known as the Great Apothtea.[9] These early worshippers were split, over the usage of the ship, as the Stoics refused to enter the vessel, while the radical Reformists wished to explore it. The Reformists then barricaded themselves within the keyship, and left Janjur Qom, taking a gigantic piece of the planet with them.[10] This piece was later refitted into the rocky dome of High Charity along with the Dreadnought atop it.

San'Shyuum-Sangheili War[edit]

After leaving their home world the San 'Shyuum encountered the Sangheili, who also had familiarity with Forerunner technology. The San'Shyuum believed that incorporating Forerunner technology was allowed by their religion. To the Sangheili, such a thing would have been unthinkable.

During the war, the Sangheili had an early advantage, with each warrior comparable in skill to ten San'Shyuum in battle. However, the San'Shyuum's technological superiority, and possession of the Forerunner Dreadnought, meant that they had the advantage in space. The San'Shyuum installed a number of weapons on the keyship, powered by the ship's immense power generation capability.[3] The San'Shyuum used the weaponized keyship to great effect in devastating hit-and-run strikes against the Sangheili fleets. Eventually, the Sangheili were forced to amend their position of the treatment of Forerunner technologies and began incorporating elements into their own designs.

Additionally, the San'Shyuum were able to weaponize the Dreadnought's own contingent of Aggressor Sentinels to serve them in combat. By the time the war ended, these Sentinels had been wiped out almost entirely, only a select few having been preserved aboard the keyship.[11]

Eventually, in order to ensure the survival of both races, the two races merged to form the early Covenant with the San'Shyuum as the head religious leaders and the Sangheili as their protectors, and head of the military.

Centerpiece of High Charity[edit]

The two races then penned the Writ of Union, which formally began the Covenant, and decommissioned the Forerunner warship, removing all known weapons, and placing it within the partially completed High Charity.[12] It was then used to power the city, with its engines at partial power.[13][14] The Dreadnought then became the purview of the ascetic priests, who studied the vessel's systems and tended to the Oracle, in fact a fragment of the rampant Forerunner AI 032 Mendicant Bias.

After the Taming of the Lekgolo, the Prophets used the newly incorporated Lekgolo to explore Forerunner relics, and after ages of experimenting on lesser relics, finally worked up the courage to explore the Dreadnought's pathways. At first, these explorations were slow and deliberate, as the priests feared damaging the Dreadnought or offending the Oracle. But with no response from the Oracle, the priests began to continue the explorations until the practice became common place.[15]

Human-Covenant War[edit]

The Keyship gave power to the whole Covenant Holy City. The green cable is a conduit launching individuals into the Keyship.

Before the start of the Human-Covenant War the Forerunner Dreadnought, the founding of the Prophet’s religion, would soon become the place where their religion was proven false. During the 23rd Age of Doubt, the Minister of Fortitude, and the Vice Minister of Tranquility went to the Dreadnought for confirmation of two symbols found on the missionary vessel Minor Transgression. These two symbols were “Reclamation” and “Oracle”, which were found on what was known to humanity as Harvest. After the Philologist entered the data into the "Oracle" inside of the Keyship, it began a series of cryptic messages, listed below:


During this series of messages, the Oracle began a launch sequence, which would rip the Keyship from High Charity and destroy the Covenant capital with it. Fortunately for the people of High Charity, the Dreadnought was short-circuited by Lekgolo exploring the pathways. The Oracle was soon disconnected, but this caused a spiritual crisis for Fortitude, Tranquility and the Philologist. Through the Oracle’s messages, the Forerunners (or their descendants), were still alive, which would shake the foundations of the Covenant itself to the core: if the masses learned that they might be left behind, then they would revolt against the Prophets. In an attempt to keep the religion itself intact, they covered up the encounter, and would try to eradicate these Reclaimers.[16][17]

For most of the Human-Covenant War, the Dreadnought remained a purely religious artifact, not a weapon, until the First Battle of High Charity.

The Battle of High Charity[edit]

When the Flood attacked High Charity, the Master Chief was on his way to stop the Prophet of Truth, from escaping and at the end of the Battle of Installation 05. He was able to board the ship as Truth uncoupled it from the city's power grid by narrowly making it through a conduit and into the opening it connected to. The Forerunner Dreadnought lifted off, and jumped into Slipspace in the midst of a large battle between the Jiralhanae-led Covenant, Sangheili-led Covenant and the Flood.

Battle of Earth[edit]

The Dreadnought on its way to Earth.

Five days after leaving High Charity (infected by the Flood), the Dreadnought arrived in Sol system.[18] While the Dreadnought was passing Jupiter, John-117, onboard the ship, was contacted by a station on Io, but after going into radio silence, he killed four Unggoy, a pair of Kig-Yar and then another group of four Unggoy. It is unknown what happened immediately afterward, but soon, the Spartan was found unconscious by a group of Jiralhanae. The Jiralhanae interrogated him, asking him where the Key of Osanalan was, but the Spartan managed to escape by sticking his captor with a plasma grenade.

After making his way to the Prophet of Truth’s position, he reported to the UNSC that one Prophet Hierarch was on board and that he would transmit more information later. Then, Spartan-117 took aim at Truth with a Carbine and fired. Just before the Master Chief could get a good shot at Truth, a Kig-Yar with a Carbine shot and hit the Chief.

Now aware of the immediate threat within his ship, Truth ordered a jump deeper in the system, straight to Earth, where the battle was still raging between the battered remains of the UNSC fleet and Truth's forces.[19] As the Dreadnought transitioned from Slipspace, now in range of Earth's orbital defense platforms, Admiral Hood was about to give the order to attack the ship. He only stopped because he found out that the Master Chief was aboard. The Keyship, leading the Covenant loyalist fleet, eventually broke through Earth's already-weakened defenses, and headed for Earth.

The Dreadnought and John-117 entering Earth's atmosphere.

Nine days after the ship's arrival in the system,[18] the Dreadnought entered Earth's atmosphere. John-117 jumped from the ship as it continued descending, using a hatch as a heat shield, and falling two kilometers into the African jungle near Mount Kilimanjaro. The Dreadnought continued its descent and landed on the Portal to the Ark, which the Covenant fleet was excavating.

The remaining UNSC forces in Africa planned to launch a surprise strike on the Keyship to eliminate Truth and stop him from activating the structure they thought to be the Ark. The Master Chief led a Marine assault on a Covenant anti-air battery sector in the town of Voi and successfully disabled the battery, giving the UNSC a clear shot at the Keyship. Lord Hood then attacked the ship with multiple squadrons of Longsword fighters and three UNSC frigates. The Dreadnought's advanced Forerunner shielding allowed it to survive multiple MAC rounds and hundreds of Longsword-launched missiles and emerge completely unharmed, and the UNSC attack was halted when the Portal was activated by the Keyship.

After activating the portal, the Dreadnought entered it and landed on the Ark. It did not take part in the battle, instead flying to the Ark of its own accord.[20] Truth was untroubled by this automated action, but unbeknownst to him the Keyship was reuniting the last fragment of Mendicant Bias' compound mind to the rest of itself kept on the Ark. Mendicant Bias managed to successfully contact John-117 through a series of terminals, seeking atonement for the Forerunners. The Dreadnought was destroyed when the Master Chief prematurely activated Installation 04B.[21]


  • In the Halo Uprising comic series, almost every background on the Dreadnought was modeled after a location in Halo 2. For example, the Dreadnought's hangar bay looks identical to the Threshold gas mine hangar bay in Halo 2, including a docked Seraph. In addition, areas identical to the Valleys of Tears as well as the High Council Chamber in High Charity can be seen. This may be a case of artistic interpretation by the artist to capture the look of Forerunner and Covenant architectures.
  • Originally, a level referred to as forerunnership[22] was supposed to take place on the vessel right after defeating Tartarus in the level The Great Journey in Halo 2. The level was cut due to time constraints.[23]


List of appearances[edit]


  1. ^ Halo 3, campaign level The Storm
  2. ^ Halo 3, Terminals
  3. ^ a b c Halo: Broken Circle, page 12
  4. ^ Halo 3, campaign level Tsavo Highway
  5. ^ Halo 3, Terminal Six
  6. ^ Halo 3, Terminal Four
  7. ^ Halo 3, Terminal Five
  8. ^ Halo Waypoint: Catalog Interaction (page 14)
  9. ^ Halo: Broken Circle, page 86
  10. ^ Halo: Contact Harvest, page 262
  11. ^ Halo: Broken Circle, page 189'
  12. ^ Halo: Contact Harvest, pages 145-148
  13. ^ Halo 2, campaign level High Charity
  14. ^ Halo: Contact Harvest, page 148
  15. ^ Halo: Contact Harvest, pages 269-271
  16. ^ Halo: Contact Harvest, pages 274–276
  17. ^ Halo: Contact Harvest, pages 379–384
  18. ^ a b Bungie Weekly Update: 01/23/09
  19. ^ Halo Waypoint, The Long Road Home
  20. ^ Halo 3, campaign level, The Ark
  21. ^ Halo: The Essential Visual Guide, page 50 ("Unfortunately for the Covenant, the Ark and the Dreadnought were both subsequently destroyed by the Master Chief.")
  22. ^ One Final Effort
  23. ^ Halo 3 Legendary Edition, Essentials Disc Two, Halo 2 Cutscene Commentary