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Ascendant Justice was a Covenant DDS-class carrier. It was the flagship of a scouting party sent to Installation 04 after its discovery by the Fleet of Particular Justice. In September 2552 the vessel was captured by Spartan John-117 and the other human survivors of the Battle of Installation 04.
Armed with seven plasma turrets, the ship had a complement of 3,000 personnel. There was an unusually small number of combat personnel: a light company of Unggoy and only a hundred Sangheili. However, there were enough Huragok on board to merit them having an access tunnel of their own. John-117 noted that he "...hadn't seen anything like this on the Truth and Reconciliation," and that it was "armed like a ship of war, yet had the support staff of a refit vessel." It possessed a crude associated intelligence construct and software for replicating AI matrices.
Shortly after the Fleet of Particular Justice arrived at Installation 04, Ascendant Justice and a small group of ships were sent into the system from High Charity, arriving prior to UNSC Pillar of Autumn. During the Battle of Installation 04, the Prophet of Stewardship alternated his base of operations between Ascendant Justice in orbit and Truth and Reconciliation just above Halo's surface. When Supreme Commander Thel 'Vadamee sent a single infantry unit to relieve the Prophet for his constant force misappropriation, Stewardship ordered Ascendant Justice to destroy their transports on approach, warning that any other affronts to his leadership would result in equally lethal fates. 'Vadamee then assembled a strike force to retake Ascendant Justice and physically relieve the Prophet of leadership until the humans were eliminated, but Stewardship left for Truth and Reconciliation before they arrived, leaving orders for the crew to arrest 'Vadamee if he continued to interfere with the Consecration. When Thel's force arrived on Ascendant Justice, no shots were fired and the crew acknowledged his authority.[note 2]
When Installation 04's destruction was imminent the Fleet of Particular Justice moved into cover behind Threshold. Ascendant Justice's scout group remained to search the wreckage for transmissions from survivors. It was soon boarded and captured by a small team of human survivors, including John-117, Staff Sergeant Avery Johnson, Lieutenant Elias Haverson, Corporal Locklear, Warrant Officer Shiela Polaski, and the AI Cortana. The survivors then used Ascendant Justice to return to Reach and evacuate a small number of Spartan survivors, Vice Admiral Danforth Whitcomb and Dr. Catherine Halsey, as well as a Forerunner artifact from the planet, attaching to the wreckage of the frigate UNSC Gettysburg for additional power. They then escaped through slipspace toward the Eridanus system, becoming the first ship known to go into slipspace so close to a planet. En route to Eridanus Secundus Ascendant Justice was forced to engage multiple Covenant warships, including several cruisers and DDS-class carriers, in an alternate slipspace dimension caused by the Forerunner artifact. Furthermore, some surviving Sangheili crew members had sabotaged Ascendant Justice's main power conduit, forcing the Spartans to go on an extravehicular mission on the outer hull. This mission resulted in the deaths of the entire surviving Sangheili crew, but also killed Spartans Anton-044 and Li-008 as well as Warrant Officer Polaski.
The ship received assistance from remaining rebels in the small asteroid colony of Eridanus Secundus, who provided personnel and repairs for the ship's weaponry, before being discovered by the Covenant. Though Ascendant Justice engaged the initial Covenant forces in ship-to-ship combat, reinforcements arrived en masse, forcing it to abandon the colony to the Covenant.
After fleeing from Eridanus Secundus, the crew of Ascendant Justice discovered Unyielding Hierophant, a Covenant refit-and-repair station which was being used to service a Covenant invasion force that was poised to invade Earth. Vice Admiral Whitcomb then initiated Operation: FIRST STRIKE, in which the remaining Spartans boarded the station and set its reactors to overload. The Spartans escaped the station and traveled to the far side of a nearby moon where Gettysburg was waiting for them.
Vice Admiral Whitcomb and Lieutenant Haverson had detached Ascendant Justice from Gettysburg and taken it in a slingshot orbit around the moon. Vice Admiral Whitcomb pretended to have the Forerunner crystal by using a hologram and challenged the Covenant to come and claim it. The Covenant did not fire on Ascendant Justice for fear of destroying the artifact. The two used the momentum from their slingshot orbit to crash into the station even after the Covenant had cut the ship's engines off with laser fire. Whitcomb then ordered John-117 to see what was left of the Covenant and then "...hightail the intel back to Earth." The last few seconds of visual and audio record from the ship showed the door crashing to the ground and the vice admiral opening fire on the boarders. The station's reactors exploded, destroying carrier and over 400 enemy vessels. Only a few Covenant ships survived the catastrophe, which delayed the Prophet of Truth's plan to invade Earth. Ascendant Justice's slipspace drive allowed Gettysburg to reach Earth and warn the UNSC leadership of the Covenant's plans to invade Earth.
Only four members of Ascendant Justice's original Covenant crew survived its capture. A Special Operations Sangheili who engaged the Master Chief in hand-to-hand combat was shot and pushed into an escape pod and a few Huragok that were taken to Earth on the Gettysburg were turned over to the Office of Naval Intelligence.
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