UNSC Forward Unto Dawn
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Forward Unto Dawn redirects here. For the web series, see Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn; for the poem, see Forward Unto Dawn (poem).
The UNSC Forward Unto Dawn (hull classification symbol: FFG-201, UNSC REG: UNSC_REG // 77263.000_A), was a Charon-class light frigate in the UNSC Navy. Affectionately known by her crew as "The Dawn", the ship's name is taken from a poem about humanity's interstellar expansion. With a maximum complement of 782, the Dawn participated in the final battles of the Human-Covenant War.
Battle for Earth
As of November 2552, Forward Unto Dawn was part of the UNSC's Seventh Fleet, which was part of the Home Fleet after September 5, 2552. The Dawn was recalled to reinforce the Home Fleet during the Battle for Earth against the Covenant, now led by the Jiralhanae after turning against the Sangheili when the Great Schism began. The UNSC suffered very heavy casualties from the Prophet of Truth's massive Covenant combined fleet when it arrived in the later stages of the Battle for Earth. By the time Spartan John-117 arrived from Installation 05 aboard the Prophet of Truth's Forerunner Dreadnought, Forward Unto Dawn was one of the few ships remaining under Fleet Admiral Terrence Hood's command. Due to the lack of larger and more powerful vessels, Hood used the Dawn as his flagship during the Battle of Voi. He agreed to commit Forward Unto Dawn and at least six other frigates of the Battle Group Victory against the grounded Dreadnought, which had begun interfacing with the Forerunner structure the Covenant had unearthed between the cities of Mombasa and Voi. After the Spartan destroyed the Covenant's local anti-air defenses, the frigates and several C712 Longswords assaulted the Dreadnought.
Despite firing nearly a dozen MAC slugs at Truth's ship, the Dreadnought remained unharmed. Immediately afterward, a slipspace portal was activated and the Forerunner Dreadnought and Truth's fleet passed through it. Unbeknownst to the UNSC, who assumed that the excavated complex was itself the Ark, the real Ark, Installation 00, lay beyond the portal.
The Flood arrived in Voi shortly after the opening of the slipspace portal; the parasite was pursued by a portion of Sangheili Fleet of Retribution, led by the assault carrier Shadow of Intent and commanded by Fleetmaster Rtas 'Vadum, supporting the UNSC to stop the Flood threat. After the infection had been cleansed, the Sangheili and UNSC viewed a message from Cortana, warning them that the Gravemind itself was coming to Earth. They further learned that there was a solution to the Flood on the other side of the Portal - one that did not require firing the remaining Halos.
'Vadum insisted that Elites and humans both go through the Portal to deal with Truth and the Flood once and for all. Though skeptical, Lord Hood agreed to commit some forces to the mission. To this end, the Forward Unto Dawn alongside a portion of the Seventh Fleet including UNSC Aegis Fate joined Sangheili forces of the Fleet of Retribution; elements of the 11th Marine Force Reconnaissance/ODST were also tasked with gathering intelligence on whatever lay beyond the portal. Hood gave Commander Miranda Keyes command of Forward Unto Dawn while he remained behind to coordinate Earth's remaining defenses; the ship was docked inside Shadow of Intent's massive hangar bay and the task force set off through the portal.
Operation: BLIND FAITH
Once at the Ark, the UNSC-Sangheili allied fleet and Truth's numerically-superior massive Jiralhanae fleet engaged one another. The Dawn was ill-equipped to fight against such large opponents, but was able to engage the enemy warships for a short time. At the same time, the Dawn deployed troops to the surface, with John-117's team disabling a Mantis AA gun and a pair of Anti-Air Wraiths. Once a landing zone was cleared, Forward Unto Dawn set down near the Cartographer and directly offloaded several M808C Scorpions and M12 Warthogs.
As the human-Sangheili alliance pushed toward the installation's control center, Sergeant Major Avery Johnson was captured so that Truth could force him to activate the Halo Array. Around this time, the Flood arrived at the Ark via the now-infested High Charity and began attacking both sides. Commander Keyes attempted a daring rescue, though she was killed personally by the Prophet of Truth. Nevertheless, the Chief and the Arbiter succeeded in killing Truth and stopping the Halo Array from being fired. Shortly thereafter, John-117, Arbiter Thel 'Vadam, and monitor 343 Guilty Spark discovered that the Ark was manufacturing a replacement for Installation 04; it was then determined that igniting the ring could destroy both the Flood and the Covenant with a single, decisive blow.
Raid on Installation 08
With the rest of Forward Unto Dawn's crew and complement dead or aboard the remaining Sangheili vessels, Johnson brought the ship a few kilometers from the incomplete ring's Control Room and closed the distance in a Warthog. Ultimately, Johnson was betrayed and killed by Guilty Spark, who was in turn apparently destroyed by the Spartan. The ring was activated, and John and the Arbiter raced to the now-deserted Dawn. After crashing Johnson's Warthog into the ship's oversized cargo bay, 'Vadam headed for the bridge while the Spartan uploaded Cortana into the ship's mainframe to activate the engines. The ship entered the slipspace portal, which collapsed as the ring's energy pulse hit. Forward Unto Dawn was cut in half as a result.
The forward section, containing the Arbiter, returned to Earth and crashed into the Indian Ocean, and he was rescued from the wreckage by a UNSC recovery team. Data retrieved from the forward section's internal systems exhibited the Master Chief's interactions with several terminals on Installation 00. For humanity, this data shed light on the Forerunners' final days before the Halo Array's activation. ONI scientists discerned the terminal data was incomplete, but understood the significance the Librarian, Ur-Didact and IsoDidact played in the Array's activation.
Adrift in space
The aft section emerged in unknown space, John and Cortana having survived the Halo's pulse. The Spartan and AI were left in a drifting hulk without working propulsion. After Cortana dropped a distress beacon, John entered a cryo chamber to wait for recovery. During the years that followed, Cortana remained active and alert while the Spartan slept in cryo. In 2556, the AI compiled a history of the Forerunners and humanity and shared it with the still-unconscious Spartan. She later took the opportunity to overhaul and upgrade John's Mark VI MJOLNIR armor, making modifications to its layout using nanomachines while also rewriting its firmware.
Battle of Requiem
On July 20, 2557, precisely four years, seven months, and ten days after the Battle of Installation 00, Cortana noticed that the ship's intruder alarms had been activated and awakened John-117 from cryosleep. After being revived, John fought off the intruders, who turned out to be Sangheili, Kig-Yar and Unggoy. The Chief and Cortana soon realized that a Covenant fleet had surrounded the Forward Unto Dawn's remains while a group of Phantoms unloaded more boarders onto the heavily damaged frigate. During the fight through the ship, the Master Chief managed to launch one of the ship's Hyperion nuclear missiles and destroy a nearby Zanar-pattern light cruiser which was approaching to destroy the ship's remains with its ventral energy projector but did not bother to raise its shields. Shortly afterwards, the Dawn's remains were caught in the gravity well of the Forerunner shield world of Requiem and was drawn inside. Though John attempted to escape using one of the Dawn's escape pods, he was sucked into space before he could board one. The remnants of the Dawn did not survive atmospheric entry and the ship was torn to pieces, scattered over a kilometers-wide swath on the surface, along with the attacking Covenant vessels.
Fortunately, dozens of weapons and a handful of M12 Warthog LRVs survived the crash, enabling John and Cortana to scout the surface of the shield world. Having discovered Cortana's distress beacon, the UNSC Infinity was deployed to recover the Dawn's survivors. Infinity's crew, still following the beacon, attempted to find the Dawn's crash site inside the installation. However, the ship's locator signal was being faked by the Forerunner supreme commander known as the Ur-Didact, who attempted to draw the Infinity inside Requiem to enact his plan of vengeance upon humanity. The wreckage was presumably destroyed along with Requiem itself in February 2558.
Forward Unto Dawn underwent a major redesign in Halo 4, though 343 Industries writer Jeff Easterling has since confirmed that the ship's original appearance is considered canon. A modified version of the design is used as the appearance of the Strident-class heavy frigate.
Despite maintaining a generally similar profile, the ship appears much larger, with more of the forward half remaining intact. This increase in scale was intended to create a more interesting playspace, much like the dramatic upscaling of the UNSC Pillar of Autumn in The Maw; otherwise, the first level's playspace would have been cramped and required a great deal of backtracking. The scale is further confused as the Dawn dwarfs the 300-meter Zanar-pattern light cruisers encountered in the level. The ship's cryotubes have also been remodeled and the cryo bay has been rearranged.
The enlarged cargo bay (a defining feature of the Charon class) is greatly reduced in size and moved farther forward, creating an inconsistency with Halo 3's final level. Rather than having two primary engines on the main hull and two secondaries on the "wings", there are only two primary engines with one secondary nestled between them. The port and starboard hangar bays have been reduced from five small bays on either side to one much larger bay on either side; they are moved much farther back, remaining with the aft section. The visual armament has been changed; rather than the four dual-barreled guns, six quad-barreled point defense guns and five triple-barreled turrets are mounted on the upper portion of the hull. These are similar in design to the M870 Ramparts and Mark 55 Castor naval coilguns found on the Strident-class.
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