UNSC Vanishing Point
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|Unified Earth Government
The UNSC Vanishing Point is a Point Blank-class prowler that was in service with the UNSC Navy during the early years of the Human-Covenant War. It was attached to Task Force Yama—a splinter group of Vice Admiral Preston Cole's Battle Group X-Ray composed primarily of prowlers—for the duration of Operation: SILENT STORM. The Vanishing Point served as the task force's logistics-support vessel, intended to remain far away from the field of battle.
The Vanishing Point has a large mission preparation hold, which is used by the ship's complement to conduct training exercises. If requested, the hold's artificial gravity can be deactivated to allow for zero gravity combat scenarios, including those with floating obstacles to provide cover. The vessel features various hangar bays meant to perform different duties. This includes a "drop hangar" large enough to comfortably hold the eight hundred members of the 21st Space Assault Battalion, twelve Spartan-IIs, and a handful of other naval personnel. There is also a "command hangar" where various ceremonies can be held, including funeral services where the dead are jettisoned into space while onlookers are protected by a retractable AlON pressure barrier. Toward the vessel's aft is a "fighter hangar," from which a compliment of space fighters can be launched. On at least one of this hangar's bulkheads is a large tactical map that can be used to display fleet and fighter movements. The Vanishing Point sports multiple small maintenance hangars where hardware can be worked on, including MJOLNIR Powered Assault Armor. Finally, the Vanishing Point has at least one observation bubble high up on the vessel's stern.
Countermeasures and compliment
The Vanishing Point possesses a kind of communications jamming technology that is capable of blocking all outbound communications from a targeted area, provided the opposing party does not make use of anti-jamming or delayed transmission technology to counteract this. During Operation: SILENT STORM, the Vanishing Point was equipped with a compliment of at least twenty-four S-14 Baselards.
Operation: SILENT STORM
- Main article: Operation: SILENT STORM
On March 8, 2526, Vice Admiral Preston Cole held a briefing on the Vanishing Point for those that would lead Task Force Yama in Operation: SILENT STORM. Captain Halima Ascot of the UNSC Starry Night, Colonel Marmon Crowther of the 21st Space Assault Battalion, Spartan-II John-117, Staff Sergeant Avery Johnson, and Doctor Catherine Halsey were in attendance. Cole had chosen this vessel for the meeting over his own flagship, the UNSC Everest, for the purpose of operational security. During the briefing, Cole laid out the plan to board key Covenant vessels and destroy them from within using nukes, crippling the aliens' advance fleets and buying humanity time. It was decided that while Dr. Halsey's presence was very important to the mission, she was too integral to the UNSC's war effort that she would need to remain on the Vanishing Point, which would not be directly partaking in any dangerous fleet actions itself.
As the Vanishing Point travelled through slipspace to Biko, the Spartan-IIs trained with the ODSTs of the Black Daggers in the vessel's mission preparation hold. The Spartans made short work of the marines in every exercise until Staff Sergeant Johnson taught they some new, unorthodox strategies that were much more effective. After four days of this training, Colonel Crowther had them all gather in the drop hangar to discuss the specifics of the plan. His plan would have split up the Spartans, with each of the twelve carrying a nuke for a single platoon. This way they could destroy many targets at once, but it severely diminished the effectiveness of the Spartans. John-117 expressed his disagreement with Crowther, who brought up his suspicions that they were "just kids" and therefore less reliable than his experienced marines. Daisy broke formation and angled herself at Crowther in a challenging manner. In response, he marched up to her and requested that she tell him her age. John told her to stand down, but she stood her ground and proclaimed that their age did not matter; it was their training that made them superior. Crowther replied saying that combat experience matters more.
Fight for Seoba
- Main article: Battle of Seoba
Task Force Yama arrived in the Kolaqoa system on March 18 and set course for Biko's moon of Seoba, with Colonel Crowther planning to practice the mass deployment of the Spartans and his ODSTs into an ice quarry. This abandoned quarry had been selected beforehand to be the task force's staging zone as they waited for a nearby Covenant fleet to arrive. However, Operation: ICE DANCE—as the exercise had been designated—quickly became a warzone when the prowlers detected insurgent forces aligned with the Biko Independence Army hidden amidst the ice. The Vanishing Point hung back to block the insurrectionists' transmissions, while the prowlers of Ghost Flight began their insertion run. Despite some early setbacks during the battle, the insurgents were unable to call for reinforcements from Biko and the quarry was ultimately captured by the UNSC.
The next day, Dr. Halsey was transported from the Vanishing Point to the quarry to attend a post-battle debriefing. By this time, the Vanishing Point was holding station two planetary orbits out from Seoba. During the meeting, it was revealed that the Spartans were only fifteen years old, leading Crowther to decide to no longer send them into battle. While the group moved on to discuss how the insurrectionists had been so prepared for Task Force Yama's arrival the day before, the Vanishing Point detected a flotilla of five Covenant intrusion corvettes drop out of slipspace and set course for Seoba. This information was immediately shared with the task force's key personnel, who scrambled to launch their prowlers to meet the flotilla. When Captain Ascot's Starry Night was shot down as it launched from the ice quarry, John-117 made the decision that he and his Spartans would search for survivors. However, upon reaching the prowler's crash site, they found an intrusion corvette trying to recover the Starry Night. This changed the goal of the Spartans' mission from rescue to asset denial; they could not allow the Covenant to access the data stored within the prowler's computer systems. After being informed of this, Crowther asked Lieutenant Commander Hector Nyeto if the Starry Night's self-destruct system could be remotely activated to prevent its imminent capture. Nyeto responded saying that only Captain Ascot herself and the captain of the Vanishing Point had this ability. However, it would take nearly an hour to get a message to the Vanishing Point and for the return signal to arrive, as a result of the vessel's extremely distant position. John-117 assured Crowther that his Spartans would find a way to activate the Starry Night's self-destruct system themselves.
While they experienced some setbacks and injuries, the Spartans managed to get a small team inside of the Starry Night. They rescued the few survivors aboard the prowler and armed its nuclear self-destruct system. All of the Spartans vacated the area before the nuke detonated, taking the intrusion corvette along with it. Before they were extracted, they investigated the wreckage of the Covenant vessel, finding and removing an intact starholo from its bridge. It was then transported to the Vanishing Point for Dr. Catherine Halsey to examine.
Honoring the dead
On March 20, the Vanishing Point rested in a high parabolic orbit above Biko. To honor the two-hundred-and-three men and women who had given their lives at Seoba, an equal number of gray interment capsules containing their ashes were arranged in the vessel's command hangar, by its exterior hatch. A large honor company of officers and enlisted personnel attended a funeral service led by Major Ojombo, a chaplain assigned to the task force. After she gave an emotional speech about the honor of service and sacrifice, Lieutenant Commander Nyeto—now the de facto commander of Task Force Yama after Ascot's death—ordered Staff Sergeant Johnson to call the company to attention, lift the AlON pressure barrier, and have the outer hatch be opened to let the capsules float out into space. At that moment, the Vanishing Point was at the apogee of its orbit, which would allow the capsules to break free from Biko's gravity and drift into deep space. While this was going on, Nyeto delivered his prepared Committal speech. When this was finished and all the capsules had been jettisoned, he had Johnson order the hatch closed and the pressure barrier retracted. The staff sergeant then dismissed the honor company, with most promptly leaving the hangar and returning to their duty stations.
Only a handful of senior officers and the six Spartans that were not in the infirmary remained to hear about their next course of action from Nyeto. The lieutenant commander approached John-117 and complemented him on accomplishments the previous day, promising that he and his compatriots would continue to see action despite their young ages. Colonel Crowther contested this yet again, saying that the Spartans reported to him. In response, Nyeto reminded Crowther that he now reported to him, and that Admiral Cole surely knew about their unique situation before assigning them to the operation. What followed was a heated debate that ultimately ended in Nyeto conceding to Crowther after being threatened with a report to a UNSC board of inquiry. As the remaining personnel departed from the hangar in a shocked silence, Johnson was joined by Crowther on the walk back to the Black Daggers' quarters. Crowther apologized to him for having that exchange in front of everyone, but he told the colonel that he had seen worse. He also warned Crowther that his disagreement with Nyeto was not a "pissing match" he was going to win, as it had been decided far above his pay grade that the Spartans were not children and that they were the right fit for the mission. Crowther agreed with this sentiment, saying that the young supersoldiers had saved them at Seoba and that they were ready for battle. He then revealed that he was suspicious of Nyeto and his strange attitude toward the Spartans. It had seemed to him that Nyeto had purposefully stalled in supporting them during the previous day's battle. As such, Crowther wanted to keep the Spartans away from Nyeto until he figured out what was going on. To keep the Spartans away for a time, the colonel informed Johnson that he was sending them on a mission to sabotage the Covenant's supply chain at Etalan.
Skirmish over Biko
- Main article: Battle of Biko
Later that day, the Vanishing Point was resting at liberation point three on the opposite side of Biko from Seoba when the expected Covenant fleet arrived in-system. From aboard the prowler, Colonel Crowther ordered his Black Daggers to deploy alongside the prowlers of Task Force Yama, hoping to board as many ships as possible. However, as the roughly hundred-strong Covenant fleet rapidly approached Biko and its meager navy, a tight fighter screen formed around its capital ships, preventing any prowlers from getting close. This forced Crowther to call off boarding attempts until an opportunity presented itself. In the meantime, he had Johnson visit John-117 and the rest of Blue Team in one of the Vanishing Point's maintenance hangars, where they were watching the battle unfold as their armor received maintenance and repair. When Johnson told the Spartans about their new mission, they were highly skeptical of Crowther's apparent shift in attitude toward them. However, they agreed to take the mission after Johnson revealed that Crowther was being cautious due to his mistrust of Nyeto, a feeling that they also shared.
- Main article: Battle over Etalan
The Vanishing Point left the Kolaqoa system later that day with two prowlers serving as escort. On March 22, the three ships dropped out of slipspace close to Etalan, and the Vanishing Point's analysts spent the next four days observing the logistics fleet's movements, trying to discern which vessel served which purpose, and which would thus be prime targets. By March 26, they felt confident that four of the fleet's fifteen vessels were equipment freighters that carried spare parts and other materials used to keep the Fleet of Inexorable Obedience operational in the field. At this point, the logistics fleet was seemingly preparing to break from orbit over Etalan, evidenced by the fact that they had begun syncing their orbits and bringing their fusion reactors to full power. Since time was running out, Gold and Green Teams were deployed from the Vanishing Point in S-14 Baselards, with the intent to destroy the equipment freighters. As they embarked on this mission, Blue Team remained in the Vanishing Point's aft fighter hangar, deciding on which vessels they should target in their phase of the mission. As they were discussing this, Dr. Halsey informed the group that she had identified the fleet's munition supply vessels as the three large "air-skimmers" that were dipping in and out of Etalan's upper atmosphere. Despite having come to this conclusion only minutes after they had arrived on March 22, she explained that she had kept it to herself so as to not alert Nyeto and his subordinates—whom she had deduced were Insurrectionist spies—to their plan. Hearing this, Linda asked why the spies on the Vanishing Point were still living, but Halsey admitted that she did not know who the individual spies were and if there were any currently on the stealth cruiser. She also admitted that the spies had managed to plant surveillance devices in her lab. Regardless, Blue Team prepared to follow through on their part of the mission, now targeting the three "air-skimmers" instead.
With the Vanishing Point nearing the designated drop-off point, Blue Team boarded their Banshees as a Baselard remotely piloted by an operator in the stealth cruiser's observation bubble powered up on the hangar deck just ahead of them. Moments before launch, a decoy flight of three manned Baselards soared past the hangar aperture with a Banshee squadron hot on their tails. The Vanishing Point cold-launched a salvo of twenty pre-targeted M42 Archer missiles, and an instant later, the remote Baselard shot out of the hangar and fired on the Banshee squadron. Meanwhile, the Vanishing Point's missiles activated and flew after the Banshees as well. The Banshees scattered, giving the manned decoy Baselards a chance to escape. John gave Blue Team the order to launch their Banshees and fall in behind the alien fighter squadron before firing on the remote-controlled Baselard until it self-destructed into a fireball that helped distract the Covenant forces. Simultaneously, the Vanishing Point evacuated its waste holds to try to fool any long-range sensors before slipping away. Blue Team managed to convince the enemy squadron that their communication equipment was damaged, buying time to reach the air-skimmers. At this point, Gold and Green Teams successfully ejected from their Baselards, boarding and destroying the designated equipment freighters. Blue Team's destruction of the air-skimmers soon followed and all twelve Spartans were recovered.
After observing the remnants of the logistics flotilla until a new Covenant supply convoy arrived at Etalan five days later, the Vanishing Point and its two escort prowlers rendezvoused with the rest of Task Force Yama in the Polona sector on March 31, 2526. By this time, Hector Nyeto or one of his operatives had managed to slip a sophisticated data miner into Dr. Halsey's personal lab computer, which stole her most closely guarded data and regularly caused Déjà, her assistant AI, to regularly experience glitches. Despite discovering this, Halsey decided that she would not remove the data miner in case that tipped Nyeto off that she knew his true allegiances. Tolerating the glitches, Halsey and Déjà tried to work out the location of the logistics base from which the Covenant had sent the new supply convoy. Since it had taken five days for the convoy to arrive, Halsey assumed that the base must be between half and three-quarters that distance at Covenant slipspace travel rates. However, it did not appear that there were any habitable worlds in that range. Déjà suggested that they may have instantaneous interstellar communications and that the planet situated near Transit Node Bhadra within five days from Etalan should be their target. Halsey agreed with the AI's assertion.
Crowther returned to the Vanishing Point and visited Halsey's lab, as she had requested under the guise of flirting with him. Once they were alone in her private quarters, Halsey revealed that she was putting on a show in the event that Nyeto or one of his agents were watching; this way, they would not suspect that Halsey and Crowther were meeting to discuss their suspicions. With that settled, Halsey stated that they needed to decide how to handle Nyeto before he tried to kill her Spartans again.
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List of appearances
- Halo: Silent Storm (First appearance)
- Halo: Silent Storm, chapter 5
- Halo Encyclopedia (2022 edition), page 128
- Halo: Silent Storm, chapter 21
- Halo Encyclopedia (2009 edition), page 252
- Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, chapter 2
- Halo: Silent Storm, chapter 19
- Halo: Silent Storm, chapter 20
- Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, chapter 3
- Halo: Silent Storm, chapter 7
- Halo: Silent Storm, chapter 16
- Halo: Silent Storm, chapter 17
- Halo: Silent Storm, chapter 8
- Halo: Silent Storm, chapter 10
- Halo: Silent Storm, chapter 11
- Halo: Silent Storm, chapter 14
- Halo: Silent Storm, chapter 15
- Halo: Silent Storm, chapter 22