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This article is about the Covenant-controlled keyship. For the warship type, see Forerunner dreadnought.
The Anodyne Spirit, known to the Covenant as the Forerunner Dreadnought or simply the Dreadnought, was a Forerunner keyship originally discovered by the San'Shyuum on their homeworld, Janjur Qom.
As a keyship, Anodyne Spirit was part of the Forerunner strategy against the Flood, as one of the only vessels capable of activating slipspace portals to reach the Ark. Following the Halos' firing, Anodyne Spirit was commandeered by an aspect of the imprisoned Mendicant Bias and crashed on the San'Shyuum homeworld. There it would later be found and used by the San'Shyuum, and would later become an integral part of the Covenant religion as the centerpiece and main power source for the Covenant holy city, High Charity. Featuring a power generation capacity and shielding unparalleled by human or Covenant technology, the ship was used by the San'Shyuum Reformists during the War of Beginnings to dominate their Sangheili foes in naval combat, and later as the flagship of the High Prophet of Truth in the final battles of the Human-Covenant War.
The Anodyne Spirit was a keyship, a special class of vessel used by the Librarian and the Lifeworkers to index and catalog life in the galaxy and transport it to Installation 00 as part of the Conservation Measure. The keyships were some of the only vessels capable of activating portals to the Ark. The Anodyne Spirit was designed by naval architects Grasping-Steady-Firmament and Lightning-Weaving-Helix and manufactured by the Ingens Assembler Vats. Unlike most Forerunner ships, the form of the keyship was fixed, allowing it greater structural integrity at the cost of flexibility. During the final days of the Forerunner-Flood war, the Spirit's crew would range deep into Flood-controlled territory to locate untouched worlds and index a cross-section of their biodiversity before it could be consumed.
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, Anodyne Spirit, re-seeded life to the San'Shyuum homeworld Janjur Qom. As the Anodyne Spirit departed for Janjur Qom, a fragment of Mendicant Bias escaped onto the keyship. After the keyship arrived at the planet and re-seeded the San'Shyuum, Mendicant Bias attempted to take control of the vessel and travel to Earth to make amends for the crimes it committed against the Forerunners during the Forerunner-Flood war by aiding humanity. However, an unknown complication occurred and the Anodyne Spirit crashed onto the surface of Janjur Qom, its impact forming an immense sea later known as the Great Apothtea. 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.
Over several millennia, the Anodyne Spirit became partially buried in rock and submerged below the Great Apothtea off the coast of Janjur Qom's main continent. Early in the history of the San'Shyuum, before 2200 BCE, the species discovered and partially uncovered the keyship on their homeworld and began to worship it. These early worshipers 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 division in San'Shyuum society led to the violent San'Shyuum Schism. During the climax of the civil war, around one thousand Reformists stormed the Anodyne Spirit and barricaded themselves inside. The Reformists occasionally raided Stoic territory to collect and stock the ship with plants, wood, seeds, and other goods from the planet, and made preparations to depart Janjur Qom. Eventually, the Reformists commandeered the keyship and left Janjur Qom, taking a gigantic piece of the planet with them.
The massive crater left behind on Janjur Qom was filled in by the Apothtea sea. The Stoics watched as the Forerunner vessel left them behind, but they were unwilling to fire upon the object of their reverence, and grudgingly allowed the Reformists to leave. Though, the Stoics did send them messages warning them that they would be damned by the "gods" for their theft of the vessel. Utilizing some of the terminals located about the Anodyne Spirit, the San'Shyuum solidified their religion and realized the Path to the Great Journey. However, they had mistranslated the terminals and incorrectly believed that activating the Halo Array would initiate the Journey. With the help of the Forerunner technology from the keyship, the Reformists were able to survive and travel the galaxy. Unaware of the ship's Forerunner classification, the San'Shyuum and later the Covenant would come to call the Anodyne Spirit the Forerunner Dreadnought due to the vessel's unparalleled power.
War of Beginnings
The San'Shyuum eventually encountered the Sangheili, who also had familiarity with Forerunner technology. The Dreadnought landed on the Sangheili frontier colony of Ulgethon, and San'Shyuum diplomats were sent to meet with the Sangheili, led by an Arbiter. The San'Shyuum believed that incorporating Forerunner technology was allowed by their religion. To the Sangheili, such a thing would have been unthinkable. The opposing beliefs led to war, and the Dreadnought left the world, after the San'Shyuum discovered that the Arbiter had killed the diplomats.
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. The San'Shyuum used the weaponized keyship to great effect in devastating hit-and-run strikes against the Sangheili fleets. During a skirmish at the Planet of Blue and Red in 860 BCE, the Dreadnought was used to eliminate Sangheili ground forces from orbit. 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.
With the nearly unbeatable keyship in their possession, an eventual San'Shyuum victory seemed inevitable. Still, the Sangheili continued to fight and a strike force managed to infiltrate the keyship toward the end of the conflict. During the raid, they disabled many of the vessel's vital subsystems and slaughtered thousands of San'Shyuum. A counterattack was quickly organized and the Sangheili boarders were killed. However, their actions proved that the San'Shyuum and their keyship were not invincible.
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
The two races then penned the Writ of Union, which formally established the Covenant, and decommissioned the Forerunner warship, removing all known weapons, and placing it within the partially completed High Charity. It was then used to power the city, with its engines at partial power. The massive piece of rock taken from Janjur Qom was later refitted into the rocky dome of High Charity, along with the Dreadnought atop it. 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 ancilla 05-032 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, often with the aid of Huragok. One of these Huragok was Drifts Randomly, who internalized data from the keyship which later allowed it to activate the Portal at Voi on Earth in lieu of the keyship itself. Afterwards, at least twenty Mgalekgolo remained on guard around the Dreadnought.
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 in 2525, 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.
Fall of High Charity
When the Flood attacked High Charity at the end of the Battle of Installation 05, John-117 was on his way to stop the High Prophet of Truth from escaping. 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 Covenant, now commanded by the Jiralhanae and the San'Shyuum Prelates, against the ships still under the control of the Sangheili. As High Charity lost power from the Dreadnought's departure, further chaos ensued in the mobile city as the Flood continued to consume Sangheili and Jiralhanae forces.
Battle for Earth
Five days after leaving High Charity (infected by the Flood), the Dreadnought arrived in Sol system. While the Dreadnought was passing Jupiter, John-117, on board the ship, was contacted by Io Station, 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. 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.
Nine days after the ship's arrival in the system, 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. 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.[Note 1] The vessel landed amidst a sprawling oceanside city in a region later referred to as Mahsko. Before Truth disembarked with the intent of activating the rings, he ordered some of his most loyal soldiers to stay behind and guard the holy Keyship.
When Installation 08 fired incomplete and shook itself apart, everything on the surface of the Ark was severely damaged. It was believed that the Keyship was destroyed, however it endured by means unknown.
By March 2555, the UNSC was unsure of where the Dreadnought ended up while discussing reopening the Portal at Voi, noting that the last time the portal was opened, it required the Dreadnought. Lord Hood suggested contacting the Sangheili, suggesting that they might know where the ship ended up or have another idea that they were unaware of. Ultimately, without the Dreadnought, the Arbiter sent the Huragok Drifts Randomly who had worked on the ship with the ascetic priests. Using the data it had internalized from the Dreadnought, Drifts was able to reopen the portal without the ship.
In the midst of the Second Ark Conflict in 2559, Atriox decided that he would need to return to the galaxy. Hearing that the Anodyne Spirit held a certain slipspace flake, the leader of the Banished sent a team led by Chieftain Minas to recover the crystal and bring it to him so that he could open a portal to Reach. Nearly seven years after its arrival, the Dreadnought still stood where the Prophet of Truth had abandoned it, among the towers of a seaside city in Mahsko. The region was still uncontested by the UNSC forces fighting for control of the Ark.
Upon infiltrating the Anodyne Spirit, the Banished force was ambushed by surviving Covenant Jiralhanae and Kig-Yar that had faithfully followed Truth's orders and protected the vessel for years. After fighting through the remnants of the Covenant loyalists, the Banished managed to retrieve the crystal shards from deep within the Dreadnought at the cost of roughly two thirds of their men. Realizing that the surviving Covenant defenders still outnumbered them, they escaped the vessel and returned to Atriox with their prize. Using the crystal, he returned to the galaxy in October 2559 via a portal facility hidden on Reach.
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