Roughly the size of a UNSC frigate, the Radiant Arrow had a teardrop-shaped profile, with a long, tapering tail that curled up into an open hook. A hangar bay was mounted on the frigate's belly, which was built in an oblong shape that was twenty metres wide and thirty metres deep. It could accommodate at least five Type-27 Banshees.
In 2526, the Radiant Arrow was in orbit of Netherop and became a target of the UNSC. In an attempt to learn more about Covenant technology, SPARTAN-II Blue, Green and Gold Teams were assigned to capture the Radiant Arrow so that ONI could study the technology on board. After days of surveillance by several Prowlers including the UNSC Starry Night, the Spartans were able to enter by following the ship's Banshees through a maintenance hanger in an EVA. The Spartans quickly eliminated the Covenant forces in the hanger without them being able to raise an alarm or escape.
With the hanger cleared, Petty Officer First Class John-117 had Gold Team load five Banshees with Covenant weapons and tools and set them adrift for recovery by the Prowlers in case the Spartans failed to capture the ship or return while Blue and Green Teams began a compartment by compartment effort to clear the ship of hostiles. However, a sensor operator on one of the Prowlers, in reality an Insurrectionist working for Lieutenant Commander Hector Nyeto broadcasted over an open channel on the Spartan's SQUADCOM, revealing their presence on the frigate.
With the Covenant beginning to respond in force, Blue Team headed to capture the bridge while Green Team went to capture engineering and Gold Team acted as backup. Despite heavy resistance, the Spartans were able to push to the bridge and engineering with John taking out the majority of the bridge crew with fragmentation grenades. In response, the Shipmaster activated the self-destruct with a dead man's switch set into his chair to buy the Radiant Arrow's surviving crew the chance to abandon ship. Recognizing the threat, John ordered the other Spartans to abandon ship before using a Covenant escape pod to do so himself when he couldn't stop the Shipmaster from releasing the dead man's switch.
After the destruction of the Radiant Arrow, the Covenant were left unaware of what had happened to the ship. To them, the Radiant Arrow had simply vanished. In an attempt to forge an alliance with the Covenant, General Harper Garvin of the United Rebel Front offered information on the destruction of the Radiant Arrow and the Unrelenting months earlier.
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