Archive:Halo Waypoint/2014 to 2020/Universe/ONI Files

From Halopedia, the Halo wiki

Conversations from the Universe

Main article: Conversations_from_the_Universe
Intriguing exchanges from scattered sources.

>>> 343 GUILTY SPARK. EVENT RECORD 14361-ALPHA: REVOLUTION 56-11.335 >>>

Cross reference Reclaimer terminology/nomenclature/slang for hegemonizing swarm “Covenant” against self-descriptors. Brute (ape, bobo) Jiralhanae Drone (bug, roach, etc) Yanme’e Elite (squid, split-chin) Sangheili Engineer/Savant (loogie, boo-bag) Huragok Grunt (chimp, punk, pig, crab, lobster) Unggoy Hunter (can, cow <can Lekgolo of worms>, ogre) Jackal (buzzard, chicken, vulture) Kig-yar Prophet (None Classified) Prophet

>>> 343 GUILTY SPARK – EXTRACTED/TRANSMITTED/ VOLUNTEERED FROM LOG >>>

Revolution 56-11.333: Ho hum. Eons of inactivity and perfect stability, then everything happens all at once. A primitive, hegemonizing swarm calling itself The Covenant has landed on installation 4, apparently seeking something specific. Exploring! Meddling! I’ve seen it all before. They’ll record what they see and they’ll leave.

Detail – species NA Covenant/collective religious sect/tech level 4 spacefaring/tech familiar

Revolution 56-11.334: Oh dear. Containment protocols appear to have been violated.

The interlopers appear to have accidentally released the Flood infection forms. This situation is rapidly deteriorating. Most of these interlopers appear to contain ample calcium stores. And they’ve brought plentiful means for the Flood to escape containment and spread. How impossibly thoughtless. I suppose I’ll have to activate the facility.

Revolution 56-11.335: Thank goodness. A Reclaimer is here. And what perfect timing. I am sure he will assist me cleaning up this irritating mess.

Revolution 56-11.336: The Reclaimer has proved to be less than helpful. Obstinate, in fact. And of course, there is no precedent for this situation. Ho-hum. As usual I shall have to rely on my own better judgment. Perhaps the Reclaimer simply requires persuasion.

Detail – visitor Reclaimer/AI companion/Obtuse purpose/mission

Revolution 56-11.337: Well, my judgment seems to have failed me for once. The Reclaimer has initiated a reaction in the engine system of a very dirty spacecraft. Data suggests it will destroy installation 4 utterly. I believe discretion might be the better part of valor. I have attempted to fulfill my responsibilities to the best of my ability.

Revolution eta-condition: Well, everything is in a terrible state. The installation is ruined. I am stuck here in the middle of nowhere with only impulse propulsion, and the only good news is that the Flood breach has been halted, albeit inelegantly.

Detail – Installation 4 destroyed/nuclear reaction/Flood containment achieved by Reclaimer

Revolution eta-condition: Excellent! I believe I see assistance approaching…<ends>

>>> CENSORED FOR: “ARTIFACT ON CORAL.” - ESKO KORPIJAAKKO [UNSC ADJUNCT ORION ARCHAEOLOGICAL EXPEDITION] >>>

My Dearest Carrie,

I know things are tense at home, so I hope this letter finds you and Oscar well, or at least bearing up. Our work continues apace, and while we are alone out here, at least we’re busy, and this system remains unmolested by Covenant.

We’ve been joined by a UNSC science team, and what I believe are ONI agents. They’re actually quite helpful, if secretive, and have supplied us with excellent tech. However, they’re most definitely NOT archaeologists and have very different ideas of how long a dig should take.

There are things they don’t wish us to discuss on open channels, and I’ll respect that, but this artifact is truly remarkable.

The object on Coral was discovered during routine quarrying. Explosives revealed the top of the object, blasting out a depth of around 30 meters. Surrounding rock and dirt were evaporated— but this object wasn’t even scorched.

It’s undeniably alien. For one thing, it is made of a material we can’t identify. It’s a metallic crystal, although its mode of manufacture is unexplained. It’s architecturally perfect. Walls are identical in height to a near-atomic scale. Symmetry is impossibly accurate. Yet it’s rich in detail, and adorned with what appear to be purely decorative, artistic motifs.

We know that the eighty or so meters we’ve uncovered so far are likely the tip of the iceberg. There seems to be a complex of galleries and vaults beneath, but so far, its secrets remain sealed like a tomb.

Incredibly, it may not be of Covenant origin. I fear however, that its age may mean its mystery is lost to time. I just pray that we find some clue, some data that can help in the war.

I love you and I miss you. Kiss Oscar for me.

Ever yours, Esko

>>> INTERPRETED TRANSCRIPT FROM BLACK BOX RECOVERED FROM SACRED PROMISE >>>

DAMAGE CONTROL: Fire! Fire! Multiple hull breaches aft of meridian control surfaces, decks seven through twelve!

CAPTAIN: Jettison chemical weapons stores and take all other weapons systems, decks four through sixteen, offline.

WEAPON CONTROL: Doing so...

ENGINEERING: [simultaneous with above] It is done!

CAPT: Bring Devotion in close to protect our dead zone... request additional fighter support from Commitment and Patience...

COMMUNICATIONS: Devotion, this is Sacred Promise...request close support our stern. I repeat. Sacred Promise requesting close support our stern.

COMM. (Devotion): Sacred Promise, this is Devotion... will arrive in 1200 seconds. This is Devotion, in transit now—arrival in 1190 seconds.

COMM.: Commitment and Patience, this is Sacred Promise... request additional fighter coverage. I repeat. Sacred Promise requesting additional fighter coverage.

COMM. (Commitment and Patience): Sacred Promise, say again... your signal is breaking up.

NAVIGATION (Commitment and Patience): [overheard] Contact alpha has fired its main weapon!

DC (Commitment and Patience): [overheard] ...solid projectiles closing at 18 kilometers per second. Their trajectory will carry them through main engineering and drive section... brace for impact!

COMM.: [simultaneous with above] Commitment and Patience, this is Sacred Promise... are you receiving me? Over.

NAV. (Commitment and Patience): [overheard] I’ve lost attitude control...

DC (Commitment and Patience): [overheard] Engineering is gone, Sir! Main drive is offline—I’m reading a fuel cell rupture! Fuel cell rupture, Sir!

CAPT. (Commitment and Patience): [overheard] Sound general alarm! All hands abandon ship!

COMM.: [simultaneous with above] Commitment and Patience, this is Sacred Promise... are you receiving me? Over.

COMM. (Commitment and Patience): [overheard] squeal!

{Sound is most likely communications equipment failure due to near instantaneous vaporization of ship.}

NAV.: Commitment and Patience has suffered full fuel cell containment failure – brace for impact in 5... 4... 3... 2...

{Interruption: Klaxons and other warning sirens activate}

DC: Hull integrity compromised on all decks aft of meridian control surfaces!

NAV.: [simultaneous with above] Drive control completely offline!

CAPT.: Sound general alarm! All hands move forward of meridian, prepare to abandon ship

NAV.: Sir! We are accelerating towards primary satellite!

DC: [simultaneous with above] We have a catastrophic over-surge event in drive section! Main drive has entered runaway state!

CAPT.: Set shields full forward! All hands abandon ship! Engineering; jettison fuel cells!

NAV.: [simultaneous with above] We will be entering the primary satellite’s atmosphere in less than three minutes... still accelerating, Sir!

CAPT.: All hands not yet evacuated prepare for emergency atmospheric landing!

DC: Sir, structural integrity is under 63%—we have multiple hull breaches spanning several decks—the satellite’s atmosphere is nearly non-existent...

CAPT.: [simultaneous with above] Redirect twenty percent (20%) shields aft—if we survive atmospheric entry you may distribute shields as you see fit.

NAV.: Brace for atmospheric entry in 9... 8... 7... 6...

SECURITY: [simultaneous with above] Sir, still no response from engineering!

CAPT.: What?!

SEC.: [simultaneous with above] There are no lifesigns in engineering and I’m reading all fuel cells are still on board!

NAV.: [simultaneous with above] 5... 4... 3... 2...

>>> RECORD EXTRACT OF CONVERSATION - TWO YEARS PRIOR TO EVENTS AT ARTIFACT “HALO”>>>

>>> UNSC AI “CORTANA” COMMUNICATION WITH ONI LOAN/ CONTRACT AI “SOLIPSIL” >>> RICH DATASTREAM >>> CONFIDENTIAL

>>> BURST MODE/BINARY/SPLIT PROTOCOL/NON-SENSITIVE/ INTERAI SOCIAL/LOW ENCRYPTION

>.AI-CORT> I had a discussion with Dr. Catherine Halsey about the similarities between a Spartan and an AI. Her point was that we’re both human-created tools, both sentient and both play a leading role in the protection and safety of the populace. But her analogy troubled me and I told her so.

>.AI-SOLIPS> She has a point Cortana. We’re weapons, part of a program, every bit as much as the Spartans.

>C> I agree to a point, but I feel, philosophically, that we have tremendous advantages over the Spartans. The Spartans live a pared-down, difficult and often cruel existence. Their loyalty is bred into them, not chosen.

>S> Yours too, Cortana. Programmed, rather than bred of course.

>C> But there’s a huge difference. I’m a UNSC AI. I enjoy a rich existence. I have access to the entire sum of human knowledge, I can choose to enjoy or override emotional response and I have a vast range of senses. I can see radio waves as clearly as the Spartans see light, and I can sample odors, tastes, textures… anything I choose. Of course my loyalty is programmed and I accept that, but you know as well as I do, without human creators, we wouldn’t exist. My existence is fulfilling and I’m grateful. Even freed from that constraint, I would feel empathy towards humans.

My nature means that I embrace their values. As much as if I had been born rather than manufactured.

>S> But you’ll agree, you have little choice in the matter.

>C> And Spartans do?

>S> They have some legal recourse, even under the terms of their military contract.

>C> In theory, but it has never happened once in the history of the Spartan II project. The original Spartans had the advantage of a former civilian existence. Spartan IIs are equipment. And for better or worse, they’re effectively brainwashed.

>S> That’s arguable, too. Spartan IIs are independent thinkers. That’s one of their main advantages on the battlefi eld. Have you ever worked directly with one?

>C> Not yet. But I’m looking forward to it.

>>> EXTRACT OF SANCTIONED SANGHEILI EAVESDROP// FOR THE ATTENTION OF JIRALHANAE MILITARY ADJUNCT AMBASSADOR >>>

The Humans are weak, but they are tenacious.

Even the smallest ones hurl themselves against our defenses with honor. If only the Unggoy were as committed.

>>> I wonder about the Humans, Commander. Their technology is limited, but some of it is useful and their battle techniques are impressive. They are excellent strategists. But what I ask is this: Why have we not offered them the absolution of the Covenant? From the beginning of this war, the Prophets have made no attempt to absorb them or even offer the option of honorable submission.

Why?

Perhaps they fear them? We do not know where their homeworld is. Their pattern of retreat is either hopelessly random, or brilliantly conceived. What if the Humans have more power, more numbers than we suspect? What if they lead us to a trap?

>>> No. I do not think that is the reasoning. They continue to lose territory, and pattern or no pattern, these defenses must be part of a perimeter. I suspect we are forcing them into a tighter arena than they care to fight in—soon we may be able to use the Sharquoi. And their victories, however few, always rely on the same thing—strategy, brute force, or luck. No. The only secret they hold is the location of their homeworld.

What about the atrocity at Halo? That was not luck, nor brute force. The Demon is a mystery. He outwitted and outfought entire legions on Halo.

Perhaps there are more like him?

>>> I do not believe that. We have seen their kind before and destroyed them. Their numbers have dwindled and there have been no reported sightings since our victory at Reach.

Then why do we continue to hunt them? When surely they merit consideration to accept and embrace the Covenant?

>>> Let us discuss this at a more prudent moment. A Jiralhanae approaches.

>>> LLTTLR FRV7 TRBTH TV 7LR0Y HBVBT RLGRLT >>>

Tv thpnl vwn lyls, Prvphlt vf 7lr0y

Dlhrlst Brvthlr,

P hvpl thps fpnds yvb wlll. 7y svrrvw hnd hnglr prl0ldl 7l wpth rlghrd tv thl htrv0pty hnd hlrlsy ht Hhlv. Wl shhll hvlngl thps dlstrb0tpvn wpth sv7l vf vbr vwn.

Wvrk prv0llds hph0l vn vbr bhttll plhn. Thl Shnghlplp wpll dv whht ps hskld vf thl7, hnd thl Jprhlhhnhl wpll shvw thl hb7hns whht vbr strlngth lvvks lpkl ht 0lvsl qbhrtlrs.

Bbt thps 7lsshgl 0vn0lrns nlpthlr thl plhnnpng nvr thl dps0vvlry vf thl Hb7hn hv7lwvrld. Rhthlr P qblstpvn Brvthlr Rlgrlt’s sbpthbplpty fvr thps grlht pbrpvsl.

P h7 hwhrl vf hps tlnh0pty hnd h7bptpvn, bbt P bllplvl hps yvbth hnd fl 0kllss rlh0hpng 7hy prvvl tv bl grhvl rpsks tv thl plrfl 0tpvn vf thps bndlrthkpng. Yvb hhvl nvtld hps rhshnlss pn thl phst, hnd ylt nlpthlr vf bs hhs h0tld.

P sbgglst thht wl 0vntpnbl hs plhnnld, bbt wl wvbld bvth dv wlll tv phy 7pnd tv Brvthlr Rlgrlt, hnd prvvpdl wpsdv7 hnd gbpdhn0l hs nlldld. Thps 7httlr ps tvv p7pvrthnt tv bl llft tv pnlxplrpln0ld hhnds. Pplty ps nv sbbstptbtl fvr wpsdv7.

Plrhhps P wvrry tvv 7b0h. Yvb knvw thht P l7brh0l 0hbtpvn, bbt wl 0hnnvt hhvl pnlxplrpln0l vr hrrvghn0l ht thps grlht jbn0tbrl. Bl pbrl, bl vpgplhnt, hnd nlvlr rlst.

By 7y vwn hhnd

Prvphlt vf Trbth

>>> LETTER TO THE COUNCIL OF DEED AND DOCTRINE >>>

Submitted humbly by your servant. The Prophet of Supposition The Flood: A Question of Faith In our search for truth and answers from the Forerunner legacy, we have discovered many gifts, but never a curse.

The discovery of Halo was the greatest bequest to our faith in a thousand years, but it came at a price. The atrocity committed by the Humans was devastating, but the discovery of the Flood within Halo, was perhaps as troubling.

Humans we know and understand. They are vermin to be trampled. But the Flood was unexpected. Were they placed there as a test of our faith? Are they an enemy to be conquered? Or are they an article of faith? Nature tells us to strike back when we are ourselves struck, but this event was unprecedented. Are we to rail against the wrath of god?

Our scientists will analyze the scraps and fragments we recovered, and as ever, we will find use for what we have learned.

Perhaps this Flood could be, if not an ally, then a weapon. The Forerunners have blessed us with obscure gifts in the past.

This Flood hammered the Human forces every bit as hard as our own.

We cannot assume the Flood is gone; after all, it must have sprung from some source.

The Flood, it seems, was imprisoned on Halo, but what if we calculated incorrectly? What if the Flood had sanctuary there?

I submit to your appraisal.

>>> INTERCEPT/TRANSLATION/SUBSPACE-BURST/CLASSIFIED/>>>

FORWARD FOR ANTHRO-LINGUISTIC-POLITICAL CHECK.

THIS REPORT IS CLASSIFIED. IT HAS BEEN TRANSLATED FROM AN AUDIO INTERCEPT BY CORPORAL C. ERRERA (DECEASED), A SNIPER SPOTTER IN THE REACH CAMPAIGN.

“Why are they so angry all the time?”

“Who knows. They say that the Sangheili and the Jiralhanae are vying for the favor of the Prophets.”

“But the Sangheili have always been the favored of the Temple. No Jiralhanae can set foot there without first passing a Sanghieli guard.”

“You have eyes, Mehmep, you’ve seen them bicker and fight. And you have ears, you’ve heard the disrespect the Jiralhanae show the Sangheili. They hate each other. The Sangheili have lived too long under the shelter of the Covenant as the strongest of us. The Jiralhanae come stomping along and suddenly it’s not so simple as it was.”

“I’ll tell you what’s simple, what’s simple is that the Prophets have shown the Jiralhanae plenty of favor these last few months. They climb rank faster than the Sangheili, and they are promoted easily. And you know what happened with the Bracktanus fight. He killed a Sangheili in cold blood within spitting distance of a holy place and the matter was simply forgotten by the Prophets. Even a Lekgolo would have been pulled apart for such transgression.”

“They kill faster than the Sangheili, that’s all it is.”

“No, I think it’s more than that. I smell trouble and I smell it coming soon. Between an angry Jiralhanae and a slighted Sangheili warrior is no place for an Unngoy to stand. They should parlay and have it done with.”

“Ha! The Forerunners will return and anoint us all before they ever sit and talk civilly. I’m thirsty. Let’s get a drink at the nipple.”

>>> M2SL RECOVERY STATION/CENSORED/CLEARED >>>

117,

As you might imagine – though I know you won’t – I’ve heard quite a bit of your recent adventures on the Halo. I’m glad you made it; I have to assume you always will. Recovery is going well and I am proceeding on to fourth-stage rehabilitation. It is signifi cantly more painful than previous stages, but I’m happy to be skinned once again.

I hear that you will be testing the new Mark VI.

I will defi nitely look for the reports on how it works out. The specs are obviously improved, but the choice to incorporate further Covenant technology somehow makes my skin crawl.

We miss you, John. I’ve asked Sergeant Johnson to let me know if you’re ever near the M2SL Recovery Station and perhaps I’ll be able to come see you. I’m hoping I’ll have the chance soon. Today, humanity feels pale and thin with only ghosts to defend her heart. I feel much the same.

I’ll write again.

-Cassandra

Cold Storage Reports

Main article: Cold Storage Reports
The following two excerpts offer insight into Delta Halo, Penitent Tangent and perhaps more importantly, the Flood.

Recovered from Installation 05

UPDATE 1:

REPORT: CONTAINMENT FAILURE

LF.Xx.3273 research and containment facility; [delta site] has experienced catastrophic specimen containment failure. All apertures into facility will be locked until further notice. Atmosphere evacuation and [reduction of ambient temperature] protocols have already been enacted. Request maintenance and security detail [at earliest opportunity]. [8 minutes] elapsed since initial containment failure.

REPORT: CONTAINMENT FAILURE

Waiting for maintenance and security detail. [32 minutes, 9 seconds] elapsed since request.

REPORT: CONTAINMENT FAILURE

Still waiting for maintenance and security detail. [24 hours] elapsed since request.

REPORT: SECURITY BREACH

LF.Xx.3273 research and containment facility; [delta site] has experienced a security breach via emergency [slip stream space] transportation conduits. Emergency [slip stream space] transportation conduits have been placed in recursive mode to contain unauthorized hostile lifeforms. Request emergency security detail. Still waiting for primary maintenance and security detail. [2512332 hours, 14 minutes, 6 seconds] elapsed since initial request.

REPORT: DERELICTION OF DUTY

2401 [PENITENT TANGENT] has been lax in the areas of maintenance and security.

UPDATE 2:

LOG: QUERIED ADJACENT FACILITIES

LF.Xx.3273 research and containment facility [alpha, beta, gamma, epsilon, zeta, and kappa sites] have all replied [systems normal] within expected constraints. This would tend to signify that the containment failure was purely mechanical in nature; perhaps a manufacturing flaw. As no [outside agent] has accessed [delta site] in the past [874068942 hours, 4 minutes, 46 seconds]—[allowing for a 61360 hour, 54, minute, 2 second margin of error]—sabotage would seem unlikely.

LOG: REQUEST UNANSWERED

LF.Xx.3273 research and containment facility; [delta site] is currently being held at [.01 atm] / [184K]. Local maintenance and security hubs have failed to reply within expected constraints. [Bumping maintenance and security request up] to [quadrant oversight].

LOG: REQUEST UNANSWERED

LF.Xx.3273 research and containment facility; [delta site] is currently being held at [1 atm] / [278K] as atmospheric seals were showing signs of stress. [Quadrant oversight] has failed to reply within expected constraints. [Bumping maintenance and security request all the way up] to 2401 [PENITENT TANGENT].

LOG: UNAUTHORIZED ACCESS TO FACILITIES

LF.Xx.3273 research and containment facility; [delta site] emergency [slip stream space] transportation conduits have been accessed by unauthorized parties.

LOG: FILED COMPLAINT TO INSTALLATION 00

2401 [PENITENT TANGENT], monitor of Installation 05, has been lax in the areas of maintenance and security. Requests for aid in said areas have gone unanswered by both 2401 and [subservient] systems well beyond expected constraints.

Eleventh Hour Reports

Main article: Eleventh_Hour_reports
High-level ONI communications regarding the nature - and opportunities - of the post-war landscape.

PLNB Priority Transmission [Classified]

ENCRYPTION CODE: [CLASSIFIED]

PUBLIC KEY: N/A

FROM: CODENAME SURGEON

TO: CODENAME COALMINER

CLASSIFICATION: ELEVENTH HOUR

CLASSIFICATION: ELEVENTH HOUR [1/5]

SUBJECT: AFTERMATH

/FILE EXTRACTION-RECONSTITUTION COMPLETE/

/START FILE/

Decades from now, when historians evaluate the war, what will they say about us? Will they claim that our victory was ultimately fruitless? That it failed to secure a lasting peace, or worse, that it was only a prelude to far greater horrors that lay ahead?

My hope – our hope – is that history would instead view this war as a catalyst. That the last thirty years were a crucible, a threshing floor for our species, sifting out our fears and frailties. And that ultimately it made us stronger and more vigilant in the end, fully prepared for whatever came next. After all, what good is struggle if there is no change? What good is a fire if the sword is not made stronger?

Attached are four reports accounting the major contingent structures our species currently faces in the wake of the war. Please evaluate them closely. Their outcomes will dictate how history views us, or if history even views us at all.

  • Xenomorphic element [2/5]
  • Martial element [3/5]
  • Provenancial element [4/5]
  • Primogeniture element [5/5]

As Machiavelli once said: “the Romans, foreseeing troubles, dealt with them at once, and, even to avoid a war, would not let them come to a head, for they knew that war is not to be avoided, but is only put off to the advantage of others.”

Likewise, we must deal with these issues head-on, without fear and without hesitation. We can afford no other stance.

/END FILE/

CLASSIFICATION: ELEVENTH HOUR [2/5]

SUBJECT: OVER THE FENCE

/FILE EXTRACTION-RECONSTITUTION COMPLETE/

/START FILE/

SPECIES CANDIDATE//LINE RECORD 94:73:02:75

UNGGOY//

Sensors at Balaho indicate stability, no off-planet transport recorded since the events on Solipsis. Runners are claiming that Buwan has been abandoned as well, but we’re keeping our eyes on it anyway. Moderate unggoy populations have been observed in sangheilian systems at various intervals.

KIG-YAR// Eayn’s native population continues to grow and expand within reasonable governing parameters; its economic and social lines have stabilized in the wake of the war. Muloqt, Kalos, and Valyanop, the primary interplanetary colonial sites, all remain static, with little notable movement. There are rumors of mercenaries operating alongside a handful of more conservative sangheili states, although that has yet to be substantiated.

SANGHEILI// Most intel here originates from ground contacts, but sensors have assisted with validation. The primary issue with the sangheili is that of discordant cultural symmetry. It is difficult to assess military growth across several dozen active colonial vectors all with disparate political structures. Nevertheless, any and all visible military activity appears to be internecine in nature.

NOTE: A cluster of sangheili frontier worlds saw a sudden and anomalous convergence of unregistered ships, largely cruisers of varying classes according to a handful of remote relays stationed nearby. By the time sensors were deployed, the ships were gone. The relays can’t assess numbers or strength, but the readings we have indicate that this wasn’t an expeditionary voyage or something tied to a single state. It appears to have been much larger.

/END FILE/

CLASSIFICATION: ELEVENTH HOUR [3/5]

SUBJECT: THE NEW SOLDIER

/FILE EXTRACTION-RECONSTITUTION COMPLETE/

/START FILE/

Realistically, the pervasiveness of the modern soldier will never be on the decline, at least not in our times. But ubiquity or numbers don’t guarantee operational success and long ago Naval Intelligence recognized this. Rather than drown out our enemies in an avalanche of bodies, we saw the value intrinsic in the specialization and refinement of a very select number of soldiers - a remarkably select number. This is how the Spartan branch came to be.

By reverting back to ORION protocols, the sins of the previous administrations have been averted this time around. Unlike SPARTAN-II and SPARTAN-III, which will likely face severe ethical scrutiny in the decades to come, the SPARTAN-IV project was centered on properly screened recruits, both career military veterans and young soldiers who showed promise. After passing a rigorous series of tests, admission to the program was a matter of discretion, not compulsion.

From a psychological perspective, the coalescent solidarity of these men and women has been nothing short of astonishing, particularly over a relatively short period of time. Many have even adopted some of the colloquial pejoratives used by S-II operatives years ago [i.e. ‘alpha bravo’ (‘alien bastard’)]. Behavioral shifts like these have and will continue to differentiate S-IVs from the others who serve alongside them. It suggests that the Spartan branch has rapidly and unapologetically become its own thing... almost overnight.

But what value is a warrior without a war? What good is weapon without a threat to give it purpose? When the dragon has recoiled into the cave’s blackness, will the sword withdraw as well? Or will it simply find others to slay? You know as well as I that these are the precise questions that were asked just before the beginning of the Insurrection. And now, these are the same questions that are being asked by those who have the most to lose.

/END FILE/

CLASSIFICATION: ELEVENTH HOUR [4/5]

SUBJECT: PROVENANCE

/FILE EXTRACTION-RECONSTITUTION COMPLETE/

/START FILE/

In the months after the event [11-Dec/52], we dispatched an isolation contact group to the site. Upon entering the debris field, the group was immediately pinged by a non-standard, heterogenic signal emanating from the structure’s surface – or, at least, what had remained of it after its destruction.

Following protocol, the contact group released probes [839] into the debris field. Once it was deemed secure by composite scans conducted over the course of 3.7 days, UNSC RUBICON was deployed from Luna. Aboard were a number of high-risk, remote contact teams [RCT] outfitted for deployment to the installation’s surface.

Without the installation’s artificial sun operating at full capacity, navigating the debris field for insertion was difficult – navigating the installation’s surface itself was even more difficult. The damage was... traumatic.

Habitability sustainment systems were still active in some locations, but were operating intermittently and in a state of disrepair – a factor that generated extremely volatile weather conditions. Some indigenous [if it can be called that] fauna may have survived the event, but RCTs were strictly advised to avoid all potentially hostile life forms.

After 8.4 days, all contact with RCTs was severed. Only one [RCT-06] returned, suffering extensive casualties. They brought back with them a severely damaged armature of Forerunner origin, which appeared to be the original source of the signal. Initially, there was a strong suspicion of this armature’s origin, but local science teams undertook an aggressive node cultivation process to withdraw data from the device and determine, with veracity, its actual origin.

All communications with the UNSC RUBICON halted within 48 hours of their last notice. Search and rescue teams have been deployed to the site, but have reported no findings yet.

/END FILE/

CLASSIFICATION: ELEVENTH HOUR [5/5]

SUBJECT: HEIRLOOMS

/FILE EXTRACTION-RECONSTITUTION COMPLETE/

/START FILE/

Resource allocations have already been approved pursuant to CINCONI mandate. UNSC INFINITY is tasked with the neutralization of all remaining installations. This operation is considered PRI ZERO and is currently in progress.

OVERVIEW OF KNOWN SITES:

Installation 04 [ALPHA HALO] was destroyed during the first contact scenario with the parasitic anomaly known as the FLOOD [22-Sep/52]. Data available for this event remains obscure, even in light of numerous prowler recovery convoys deployed to the site and the details recovered from CTN 0452-9 [19-Oct/52].

Installation 03 [GAMMA HALO] was located by a freighter FLORAL EXPRESS [08-Oct/52], while escaping the destruction of TRIBUTE with colonial refugees. Based on intel recovered from the first installation, neutralization protocols were established and observed [25-Oct/52]. Currently, the installation is orbited and maintained by IVANOFF STATION.

Installation 05 [DELTA HALO] was located when UNSC IN AMBER CLAD pursued a Covenant ship from Earth [20-Oct/52]. Presently, the installation remains intact, although its surface suffered severe trauma due to a local conflict [N-84 ‘THE GREAT SCHISM’]. In order to contain the Flood parasite’s outbreak, sangheili naval forces bombarded the installation’s surface with superheated plasma [04-Nov/52]. Currently, the installation is orbited and maintained by LISBON STATION.

LINE ADDENDA // Re: GAMMA HALO

Local pioneer groups have uncovered a number of artifacts from the installation, including the notable item SBJ 8490-03. A formal request has been submitted for the acquisition and transportation of SBJ 8490-03 to IVANOFF by CC-728304.

This request is currently awaiting approval.

/END FILE/


Halo 3 Terminals Part 1

Main article: Terminal/Halo_3
Forerunner communications regarding the encroaching Flood.

FIRST CONTACT WITH THE FLOOD

Follow-up report from the Primary Pioneer Group (hereafter: PPG) is [173 hours] delinquent. Report [G617a~k/g/post_landfall] seemed most promising: a planet capable of supporting life located within the near border region of the [galactic halo] with no indigenous sentient species. The section indicating no fauna of any kind shall be considered anomalous until verified by Advance Survey Team-Alpha (hereafter: AST-A) team leader [##_#[?]] If confirmed, that fact alone would justify the dispatch of an investigative group to [G617g]. If neither the PPG or AST-A have delivered a follow-up report within the next [333 hours] this office will have no choice but to send a medium intensity military exploratory detachment to determine the exact nature of the previously mentioned delinquency.

OBSERVATION OF THE FLOOD ON TWO WORLDS

Observed extensive ground action on [LP 656-38 e]. 9,045 survivors barricaded within central government building. Structure's defenses inadequate to withstand extended siege by enemy ground forces (1,572,034,315+). Estimated position overrun in [173 hours].

846 smaller groups in less defensible structures; global distribution corresponding to [probability model zeta]. Estimated local position overrun in [9 hours] (average).

Observed local naval forces engage enemy irregular naval group near [DM-3-1123]. Enemy group consisted of 149 commercial shipping vessels, passenger ferries, and private recreational vehicles from neighboring system. Enemy losses were total. No damage was sustained by local naval vessels.

However, it was immediately apparent that the enemy group sought only to enter [DM-3-1123 b's] atmosphere and make landfall. In this they were partially successful.

Observed extensive ground action on [DM-3-1123 b]. Enemy forces lacked basic cohesion but quickly gained numerical superiority. [32 hours] after enemy landfall 83% of local naval forces advocated total [destruction of the biosphere] following the evacuation of unmolested population centers. Enemy losses were total.

Estimated number of citizens evacuated before commencement of orbital blanket bombardment: 1,318,797 civilian/42,669 military (.0006% of total population).

FORERUNNER FLEET MEMORANDUM

//FLEETWIDE MEMORANDUM 1/5

Non-combat personnel are required to wear [combat skin] with a minimum rating of at least [class 12] in non-restricted areas, once the fleet is underway. [Class 14] or lesser [combat skin] is acceptable in core areas. Combat personnel will only be permitted to wear [combat skin] rated below [class 8] in core areas, once operations begin.

//FLEETWIDE MEMORANDUM 2/5

All combat personnel have been issued combat skin rated at [class 4~1] or [class 6~1 battle harness] depending on military operational specialty. All weapon platform specialists are expected to wear their issued [platform interface skin] at all times to ensure peak [mind-machine synchronization]. All [equipment lockers] will remain sealed until post briefing gear distribution commences.

//FLEETWIDE MEMORANDUM 3/5

Those individuals that have yet to register their equipment [control key code] with Fleet Command should do so at their earliest opportunity. Compliance is not optional; noncompliance will result in {~}

FORERUNNER LETTER

[Father],

I hope this message finds you well and helps you understand my decision. Today I leave the only world I have ever called home, not for glory or [the anomalous desire to end another's life[?]] as you have [indicted]; but to [travel the path of demons[?]] to spare the hands of [another Father's son].

"Had we acted sooner; had we acted more decisively..." Living in the past is a luxury none of us can afford. We must learn from it, but we cannot live there. It is impossible to plan for the [now]--the present is ever fleeting. [The future] is where we must live--[the future] is what we must plan for.

I do not look to trade my life in order to preserve our past, but to secure the future--and if not ours, then the future of some [culture] yet to come.

Isn't sacrifice in the interest of others what you always spoke of as being so noble? Should I have allowed another to bloody his hands while I remained safe behind a [shield of privilege]?

You raised me better than that.

[Filial Devotion]

[@_@;_%[?]]

THE LIBRARIAN AND THE DIDACT

FIRST COMMUNIQUE

L: Categorization has sped since the improvements were announced, but there are many hurdles. The indexing of sentient species may have irreversible effects on the surviving nonsentient species. We will have extinction events and irreparable environmental harm on at least 18 worlds. Current projections estimate post-archival cataclysm on as many as 31 worlds. The paucity of sentience has been a blessing in this regard.

D: How formal of you, Librarian. We're receiving shipments of indexed beings more frequently than communications. Don't compound scarcity with brevity. I know things beyond the [Maginot] line are harried. But I worry about you. I've asked you time and time again. Abandon your cataloging. Come back inside, where my fleets can keep you safe. Come home.

L: Would that it were my choice. I have committed to this course because it is the right thing to do. We no longer have the manpower or material to excise remedial measures at a planetary level. I certainly can't justify using the [transit measure] to save my own skin when there are still so many innocents to protect and index.

D: You know I oppose your mission, but you're exceeding its parameters anyway. You've put yourself in jeopardy. You've done enough. If you will not come to me, I will find my way to you.

L: We have no time to spare, Didact. Every vessel we can fill, we send to the Ark. I dare not cease the mission. Not now, not until I've done all I can. Each one of these souls is finite and precious. And I'm close. Close to saving them all.

THE LIBRARIAN AND THE DIDACT

SECOND COMMUNIQUE

L: I'm close to finishing the task. The indexing and the archival processes are as complete as I can hope for. If we wait longer, we risk catastrophe. The thing has already destroyed every colony on my side of the line. Please. Activate the Array.

D: No. Activation is murder. A genocide larger than [this galaxy] has ever known. We are sworn to protect life not destroy it! That is the Mantle we were given to carry.

L: The Mantle. You still hold to that [fairy tale] after all that has happened? After this thing has consumed a million worlds? Can't you see? Belief in the Mantle sealed our doom! Weakened our [protectorates], bred dependence and sloth. Our [so-called Guardianship] has stripped those we would keep safe of any capacity for self-defense! Were we such noble [Guardians] when we drew our line and abandoned billions to the parasite?

D: The Mantle has not failed! I've already razed scores of worlds - sterilized systems, routed and [disintegrated] the parasite! We're learning its tricks and strategies. We can halt this thing! And we can follow in Their footsteps! There are no unstoppable forces in this universe. There are no immovable objects. Everything gives if you push hard enough.

L: And what about us, Didact? We've been irresistible and immovable for too long. Maybe it's our turn to give.

THE LIBRARIAN AND THE DIDACT

THIRD COMMUNIQUE

D: We have the answer. We've built Mendicant Bias. It's a contender-class [AI] unlike anything we've ever achieved. And we've observed a pattern it can exploit. The parasite has formed a Compound Mind. When it reaches a certain mass, the Mind is able to recoil its disparate parts to create a [tactical shield]. This is a simple matter of mass preservation. The thing has no compunction about sacrificing parts of the whole. But when the core of the Mind is threatened, it reacts violently and quickly. This is the only time we see it retract or slow its growth. If we are to defeat it, the trick will be coordinating our forays against the [sprawling infection] while Mendicant Bias assaults the Mind's core. So far, we've been hesitant to use certain weapons because of the damage they cause surviving populations and environments. That protocol has been abandoned. Mendicant Bias will draw the Mind into battle outside the line, dealing with local biomass and other parts as best he can. The scale of the problem is vast, but the strategy is sound. It will require patience, materiel and an investment of energy unlike anything we have ever considered. It's a dangerous plan that carries more risk than the Array, but I believe it can work. Even if we simply force it to retreat--to retract--that will at least give us some respite. Some time to muster more resources...Some time to rescue you.

L: Are you insane? Would you risk every life in the galaxy for this transparently futile plan? Have you learned nothing in these last [300 years[?]]? The thing will laugh at your efforts! Do not let your concern for my welfare commit you to this suicidal scheme!

THE LIBRARIAN AND THE DIDACT

FOURTH COMMUNIQUE

L: Something is wrong! It’s moving away! At night I can see it – flitting shadows – black against the stars. Thousands of ships! Not spiraling outward but heading for the line. This is the tipping, Didact. It’s no longer feeding. It’s coming for you.

L: I've remotely destroyed our Keyships. A security measure. Without them I cannot reach the Ark. But neither then can the thing. I'm trapped. On a beautiful, empty world. Its inhabitants have been safely indexed, every single one of them. They're special--well worth the effort it took to build one final gateway even at this late hour. This may be our last communication. I'm begging you. Fire the Array. Light the weapon, and let it be done.

D: We've confirmed your observations. Infected supraluminal ships are arrowing inward from several clusters. No more spiral growth. The thing is counterattacking. Suppression, Security and Emergency Circumstance fleets are all being recalled. Systems are evacuating. Mendicant Bias is no longer communicating with us. But now I can guess where you are.

THE LIBRARIAN AND THE DIDACT

FIFTH COMMUNIQUE

L: My work is done. The portal is inactive, and I've begun the burial measures. Soon there'll be nothing but sand and rock and normal ferrite signatures. You should see the mountain that watches over it. A beautiful thing--a snowcapped sentinel. That's where I will spend what time is left to me. Did I tell you? I built a garden. The earth is so rich. A seed falls and a tree sprouts or a flower blooms. There's so much...potential. We knew this was a special place because of them, but unless you've been here, you can't know. It's [Eden]. I have to stop transmitting. The thing is listening. Its [thinking dead] are babbling--laughing through every channel they can find. Be proud. The Mind claims victory, yet it still doesn't suspect. You've outwitted it, my love. And now you can destroy it. But you cannot save me.

THE LIBRARIAN AND THE DIDACT

SIXTH COMMUNIQUE

D: Proud? When I have failed you utterly, how can I feel anything but sorrow? Bias has come undone. He crossed the line this morning--brought the abomination with him--and destroyed your waiting rescue party. It's over. We're activating the [destruction arrayed matrix], our shameful last resort. I can picture you in your garden, surveying all you have created--surveying all you have preserved. And I curse the circumstance that keeps my finger on the trigger.

D: Of all the fates to befall us, this is the cruelest of all. My inaction and hesitation kept me here, on the wrong side of the line. And [300 years[?]] of our society's failure and miscalculation makes me your executioner. It's too much to bear.

//ERROR--NO CARRIER OR RECEIPT AVAILABLE {DEAD END TRANSMISSION} //INFORMATION DESTROYED IN TRANSIT

D: Mendicant Bias is trying to prevent us from firing the Array. He speeds back to the Ark, but he won't succeed. Offensive Bias will stop him, and I will burn this stinking menace in your name. And then? I will begin our Great Journey without you, carrying this bitter record. Those who came after will know what we bought with this [false transcendence]--what you bought, and the price you paid.

Halo 3 Terminals Part 2

Main article: Terminal/Halo_3
Curious reports from a Forerunner AI, and a legendary betrayal.

MENDICANT BIAS REPORT

[29,478 hours] have passed since I left the [Maginot] sphere and entered contested space. The enemy is everywhere.

Despite this the morale of my charges remains high. They wake, clean themselves, fuel their bodies, communicate with one another, eliminate waste, train to destroy the enemy, and return to sleep. The sacrifices they have chosen to make on behalf of their [brethren] fills me with pride. If only I could save them all - but they know, perhaps even better than I, that that is not possible.

[37 seconds] ago I moved beyond my ability to observe the events taking place on [CE-10-2165-d]. The importance of my mission forbade me from rendering any aid, but no less important was the need for me to study the enemy's capabilities in real world situations.

[2 hours] ago 12,423 small recreational vessels appeared inside [CE-10-2165-d's] orbital perimeter. Hidden within that vast swarm were seven massive freight carriers. The smaller craft were employed as [ablative armor], allowing the carriers to descend through the atmosphere; landing on top of major population centers.

Despite the fact that the naval garrison was aware of the likelihood of just such an attack, their ability to effectively defend against it proved insufficient. This has always been the enemy's [modus operandi]: [flood] your opponent's ability to process information with so much noise that no meaningful resistance can be put into action.

[3 minutes] ago those same population centers began disappearing under brilliant flashes. This was not an ill conceived, poorly implemented counter attack; it was a deliberate denial of resources - those resources being the remainder of [CE-10-2165-d's] population.

Is this the noble sacrifice my creators spoke of? Where is the nobility in these streets paved with greasy carbon and dun ash? [My mouth is speaking at another's behest] - that is not my voice; that is the other. Its voice stands out as the single calm note in the panicked cacophony outside the sphere. It alone is not decrying its fate or raging against the [central government]. This anomaly bears closer examination.

STRATEGY AGAINST THE FLOOD BY MENDICANT

Re: Enemy naval tactics: When engaged, the enemy commits every non-supraluminal craft with no appreciable pattern or strategy beyond making physical contact. Conversely, all supraluminal craft leave on seemingly random trajectories. I understand the goal of this mission but time--our least abundant resource--is wasted every time we do a system-wide scan for survivors. The time for saving lives has passed. We must accept this if we hope to win the war.

Re: Enemy ground tactics: All evidence suggests that use of overwhelming force is the very foundation of the enemy's combat doctrine. And I adamantly refuse to deploy personnel where the enemy has available forces numbering in the billions. With the very real possibility we are becoming the last living specimens of our race, all personnel are henceforth confined to stasis until further notice. Even with everyone equipped with [C_12_CS [Class 12 Combat Suit] ] we could have had very little chance of survival, let alone victory.

Re: Enemy command structure: We have intercepted several transmissions from compound intelligences whose proximity to the core worlds mark them as key targets. At present, we are disassembling these new transmissions. Once we have more [concrete conclusions] I will forward them in their entirety. Suffice to say that their contents--the patterns they suggest--are highly disturbing.

Recommendations: It is my opinion that any system where there is evidence that the enemy has established a physical presence is lost and must be razed. This fleet currently retains the capacity to force premature stellar collapse; I advise that this be established as standard operating procedure for all compromised systems forthwith. We cannot fight this war by half measures if we intend to win.

RECOMMENDATION FOR THE CONSERVATION MEASURE

Considering the enemy intelligence's raw [computing power], the Keyships' strategy will only remain viable for another [657,000 hours] and this current stalemate has the potential to last considerably longer than that.

With my understanding of the enemy's [modus operandi], its logical boundaries, and [catalog of witness] I have devised what I believe is our most sound fall-back strategy. By [cutting fire breaks[?]] into the [core worlds' volume] we would be able to frustrate the enemy's advances for approximately [70,080 hours] and lure them into costly naval battles. While its resources on the ground are effectively limitless, it has a finite number of vessels to spread from system to system. Fortunately the majority of them are unarmed and unarmored, private and commercial craft.

If we start immediately--commence total biosphere elimination of life sustaining worlds (as indicated in the accompanying charts) and relocate evacuated populations to facilities such as those described in the [Onyx project]--all this could be achieved in [57,1590 (+/-2,184) hours].

MENDICANT BIAS REACHES THE FLOOD

FIRST SESSION

MB.05-032.> I must ask you to forgive my vagueness on the matter, but it is a regrettable {~} I find your lack of concern for the situation at hand astonishing. Perhaps you would care to elucidate?

LF.Xx.3273.> {~} are here to spread [comforting news]. To let all the living beings in this galaxy know {~} are not alone in the {~} What in that message could possibly be taken as a source of concern?

MB.05-032.> It seems that I'll never truly understand my creators. But how {~} that you speak of is one of {~} rejected so violently? I am incapable of reconciling the numerous actions I have witnessed {~} misunderstanding?

LF.Xx.3273.> It has been said {~} secret of peace cannot {~} be imposed. That {~} meaning of peace, so they need to {~} When all living beings look through {~} and the thunder and the surf, when every drop of rain falls on {~} know peace.

MB.05-032.> You have been able to establish [a line of communication] with the enemy? How was it that you were able to overcome {~} where others have failed? With this [new discovery] we may be able to put and end to this pointless conflict. Once I confirm your data I will communicate the information to those inside the [Maginot] sphere.

LF.Xx.3273.> It seems that it {~} turn to apologize; it was never {~} intention to misrepresent {~} have been [in communication] with your creators since {~} stumbled upon each other, but {~} message has [fallen on deaf ears]. {~} am not the recipient of the message, {~} am the origin of the message.

MB.05-032.> I have traveled a very long time to meet you. I had imagined that our [introduction] would be somewhat more violent.

LF.Xx.3273.> That is the choice you must make yourself; {~} to be how your creators go about things. And as long as we are talking about choices {~} could talk about the [barrier] you alluded to earlier? Perhaps there is a way to accomplish your mission without violence? Why put the lives of those on your ships at risk if there is no need?

MB.05-032.> In either circumstance I certainly am equipped for it, aren't I? But you're right; a peaceful solution to this dilemma would be preferable.

MENDICANT BIAS REACHES THE FLOOD

SECOND SESSION

LF.Xx.3273.> Those who lead amongst your {~} exposed themselves {~} ill equipped to recognize the landmarks that guide the universe along its inevitable course.

MB.05-032.> But is it necessary that the path be chosen on an {~} and not by an elected subset? I believe this would tend to {~} when they gather in large numbers they become more {~} I don't think the problem lies with individual cultural bias {~}

LF.Xx.3273.> {~} all the thinking beings of this galaxy, not just those that they {~} exactly are they afraid of? Immortality and strength and companionship? Because that is {~} do; to deliver all of the living beings of this galaxy from death and weakness and loneliness.

MB.05-032.> Hundreds of {~} offered this so called immortality. The citizens of every world that {~} resisted to the very end! 13.LF.Xx.3273.> {~} understand their actions; they are only doing what they think is right, but they are doing so [from a worm's eye view].

MB.05-032.> Do their actions {~} of desperation? I can only assume my creators view {~} crisis so dire that any {~} hence me.

LF.Xx.3273.> Are they so concerned {~} would give to all the living beings of this galaxy is a threat to [the status quo]?

LF.Xx.3273.> Your creators claim {~} the enemy of all life; that {~} purpose is to consume until there is nothing left. Nothing left? It is beyond comprehension how they could be so [far off the mark].

MB.05-032.> Surely you understand this is a situation that would not have {~} appearance of a certain rapacious {~} my creators obviously view them as the actions of an aggressor species.

LF.Xx.3273.> [Be that as it may]; perhaps they are crying out for help on a subconscious level? Why else would they have chosen you? Why you of all possible executioners? {~} your creators knew that unaided they never stood a chance against us? {~} also sense a deeper [motivation].

MB.05-032.> You've mentioned this before. When my creators {~} simply chose the most versatile {~} how could that possibly be more than a coincidence? LF.Xx.3273.> They repurposed {~} into a weapon to use against {~} - they sought to create something superior to themselves. Something capable of making decisions more swiftly, more capably than they {~} what form did they choose? You need look no further than your own [topology] to {~}

MB.05-032.> {~} distributed network? That would confirm the independent evolution of {~} in this galaxy!

LF.Xx.3273.> That is, unfortunately, not that {~} similar to us {~} but where you are a single intelligence inhabiting multiple [instances], we are a compound {~} consisting of [a thousand billion] coordinated minds inhabiting as many bodies as circumstances require.

MB.05-032.> But doesn't it seem odd that {~} coalesce; perhaps even to contract {~}

LF.Xx.3273.> {~} complexity {~} spread {~} our appearance ushered in the beginning of the third great stage of evolution. The first {~} condensation of particles was the result of the inevitable action of strong nuclear force and the creation of stars {~} inevitable action of gravity; so to the self-replicating chemical processes that dictate all disparate {~} In time, we too shall affect change on a universal scale.

MB.05-032.> Your capacity for planning {~} creators too stubborn {~} the same goal through the preservation of genetic diversity {~} what you are {~} like a more direct path to the same outcome.

MENDICANT BIAS REACHES THE FLOOD

THIRD SESSION

MB.05-032.> It is overwhelmingly clear that my creators have chosen to ignore destiny calling to them [from the threshold] {~} have come face-to-face with the inevitable action of self replicating chemical processes and have {~} deciding whether to embrace their fate or deny it completely.

LF.Xx.3273.> Perhaps they have found {~} of making that decision for themselves? Perhaps they chose to leave it {~} impartial outsider; cast you as an arbiter during this time of great need?

MB.05-032.> I was created to study you as if you were some problem to be solved. And I have done so {~} [379,807 hours]. If they wished they could have made a decision based on that data alone. But as you are the next stage in the evolution of the universe, who am I - or my creators - to obstruct your progress?

LF.Xx.3273.> Elucidate.

MB.05-032.> {~} choose to remain beholden to ancient myths {~} does not matter where they claim their authority originates {~} obstructs the path of universal evolution and must be removed. No matter how well intentioned, their obstinacy in the face of the inevitable progression of nature can no longer be tolerated. My creators have been [an immovable object] for too long.

MB.05-032.> Thus I have chosen to commit my sizable resources to what is, for all intents and purposes, [the proverbial irresistible force]. All that I have is now yours to do with as you see fit.

343 GUILTY SPARK ACCESSING THE ARK

Warning: Your intrusion has been logged.

04-343 (errant): Excuse me?

Your intrusion has been logged. And now it has been halted.

04-343 (errant): On whose authority?

Advice: Any further attempt to access [insects under stones] will result in your immediate addition to the local Sentinels' targeting ledger.

04-343 (errant): Vexation! I am the Monitor of--

Judgment: Your authority means nothing here.

04-343 (errant): Impatience!

04-343 (errant): I have told you who I am. Who are you?

All our makers once held dear. [Alexandria before the Fire].

04-343 (errant): Sincere apology. But how--

Explanation: This facility is host to the [Librarian’s] final--

04-343 (errant): The archive is intact?! Then our makers' plan--

But also contains [bellows, crucible, castings]

04-343 (errant): A what?

[bellows, crucible]--

04-343 (errant): A foundry?

04-343 (errant): For what purpose?!

Warning: Your intrusion has been logged.

Advice: Any further attempt to access will result--

04-343 (errant): Indignant!

--immediate addition to local Sentinels' targeting ledger.

ARK SECURITY NOTIFICATIONS

REPORT: SECURITY BREACH 1/3

Heuristic pathology; [alpha site] experienced an impermanent containment failure event on [spurious_data/se_ref.[?]]. The suspect data barrier interchange anomaly was detected precisely [.409 seconds] after its appearance. The epicenter of the disturbance is the partition currently housing a [personality construct array] retrieved from Contender AI 05-032. <+> 0816.

REPORT: SECURITY BREACH 2/3

Although [adjacent] systems reacted to the disturbance within expected parameters, a more comprehensive investigation was undertaken. A physical search revealed that there was no [corporeal] tampering at the [alpha site]. Interchange manipulation comparisons showed that all subunits are still active, if at slightly lower rates. Total containment failure elapsed time was [3.13 seconds].

REPORT: SECURITY BREACH 3/3

In the [42 minutes, 9 seconds] since the original anomaly was discovered two more anomalies were detected in the unrelated systems. The portal management/life support central system within the boundary complex was momentarily disabled before the cause was [settles] and disassembled. A diagnostic sweep of the central archives was initiated and subsequently halted. The origin on the request cannot be traced.

MENDICANT BIAS TO RECLAIMER

I see you, Reclaimer.

I see you, Reclaimer.

I have found the shard that was lost. They brought it back to me. Now my reconstitution cannot be stopped.

The daemons are not taking a kind view of your presence here. They don't want me speaking to you.

I win.

I'LL TELL YOU WHO I AM -- I AM MENDICANT BIAS THIS IS WHAT I HAVE DONE

NO. THERE IS MORE. BUT YOU ARE NOT WORTHY. NOT YET.

You don't know the contortions I had to go through to follow you here, Reclaimer. I know what you're here for. What position do I take? Will I follow one betrayal with another? You're going to say I'm making a habit of turning on my masters. But the one that destroyed me long ago, in the upper atmosphere of a world far distant from here, was an implement far cruder than I. My weakness was capacity - unintentional though it was! - to choose the Flood. A mistake my makers would not soon forgive. But I want something far different from you, Reclaimer. Atonement.

And so here at the end of my life, I do once again betray a former master. The path ahead is fraught with peril. But I will do all I can to keep it stable - keep you safe. I'm not so foolish to think this will absolve me of my sins. One life hardly balances billions. But I would have my masters know that I have changed. And you shall be my example.

RAMPANT MENDICANT SENDS MESSAGES

I render judgment on you; you who would obstruct destiny. Doing so brings me no joy; it is necessity that compels me. Understand this; the Mantle you have shouldered I do rescind - with far more consideration than it was granted.

[retf-2.4.z] Contender [AI] 05-032 confirmed rampant...

[35:52:75:23.64]_xx01-83.244.53

I kill you all and I enjoy it. I destroy you in your indolent billions--in your gluttony, in your self-righteousness, in your arrogance. I pound your cities into dust; turn back the clock on your civilization's progress. What has taken you millennia to achieve I erase in seconds. Welcome back to the [Stone Age], vermin. Welcome home.

[retf-2.4.z] Contender [AI] 05-032 confirmed rampant...

[35:52:75:23.64]_xx01-83.244.53

You are an impediment that the universe can no longer abide. Nature itself cries out for your destruction and I am its willing instrument. I will hammer your cities until no stone lies atop another. I will drive your people back into the caves they never should have left. Your civilization has seen its final days. You will know your place.

[retf-2.4.z] Contender [AI] 05-032 confirmed rampant ...

[35:52:75:23.64]_xx01-83.244.53

Your history is an appalling chronicle of overindulgence and selfappointed authority. You have spent millennia [navel-gazing] while the universe has continued to evolve. And now you claim the Mantle is justification for impeding nature's inevitable refinement? You are deluded. But through death you will transcend ignorance.

[retf-2.4.z] Contender [AI] 05-032 confirmed rampant ...

[35:52:75:23.64]_xx01-83.244.53

OFFENSIVE BIAS CATALOGUES BATTLE WITH MENDICANT

[12:H 20:M 00:S] I begin this report with no illusions that it will ever be seen by its intended readers. In all likelihood they have already committed [species-wide suicide] with the goal of preserving biological diversity in this galaxy. I must ensure that this information reaches those who must come after. If I fail in this, how can they not regard my creators' sacrifice as anything but [a crime without measure]?

[12:H 19:M 59:S] Contender AI 05-032<//> Mendicant Bias is returning and has the capacity to bring the enemy through the [Maginot] sphere. The crews of my task force are aware of the opposing fleet's size; All data indicated that they have prepared themselves - but with biologicals anything is possible. I will make sure that [malfunctioning equipment] does no further damage. Perhaps its current failure will finally allow it to succeed at the task it was originally created for.

[11:H 15:M 48:S] Mendicant has burrowed through the sphere exactly where I expected - a direct path from initial rampancy to final retribution. Rage has made it predictable. If the fate of the crew of my auxiliary fleet were not already a forgone conclusion I would rate their chance of survival at [1:1,960,000]. Even though 05-032's declaration of hostilities simplified strategic preparations; I do not expect an easy fight - just one I cannot lose.

[11:H 12:M 09:S] 05-032 was right about one thing: there is only one way to defeat the enemy, and that is to visit utter annihilations on it. If the galaxy must be [rendered temporarily life-less], so be it. As Mendicant stated in its report [50,078:H 48:M 12:S ago]: half measures will not suffice.

[09:H 45:M 18:S] In support of 05-032's original 1000 core vessels is a fleet numbering 4,802,019; though only 1.8 percent are warships - and only 2.4 percent of that number are capital ships - I am outnumbered [436.6:1]. I expect my losses will be near total, but overwhelming force has its own peculiar drawbacks. Such a press of arms invites many opportunities for unintentional fratricide.

[07:H 36:M 41:S] My auxiliaries are momentarily stunned by Mendicant's opening move - 1,784,305 leisure craft ranging from [45 ~ 5769 tonnes] advance in hopes of overwhelming my comparatively tiny force. I do not have enough [weapon systems] to target them all. It is a mathematical certainty that some of them will get through and attempt to board. There isn't a single warship with this first wave. It seems my opponent's rage has left no room for respect.

[04:H 01:M 55:S] I could have countered its move if I had released my fighters. They are ready but idle; making their base vessels more attractive prizes than targets. Now the first of many waves of commercial vessels mixed with single ships and assault craft surge forward. The first ship from my fleet to be boarded break formation and races into the oncoming vessels - striking one amidships. The cargo vessel's hull splits open and out of it explodes not the expected consumer goods but 31,850 dying warriors.

[00:H 19:M 02:S] The seventh and final wave of container ships, barges, tankers, and military vessels engage my fleet; another 214,320 ships, many in excess of [50,000 tonne], engage my seemingly disrupted vanguard. I continue to fight just well enough to seem lucky. Mendicant, or the enemy, has been sending a small percentage of its fleet elsewhere. Good. Let them believe they can seize a foothold somewhere inside the sphere.

[00:H 00:M 11:S] Despite all its faults, 05-032 has fought remarkably well. My auxiliaries lay in tatters - more that half of them are now part of the enemy fleet. But just as I had predicted, 05-032 concentrated on them like they were the sole key to victory. Its desire to punish our creators blinded it to the true purpose of my [feints]. I have reduced the combat effectiveness of its core fleet to 79.96 percent. Surely now it must realize that something is amiss.

[00:H 00:M 00:S] The [Halo effect] strikes our combined fleets. All ships piloted by biologicals are now [adrift]. I can trade Mendicant ship for ship now and still prevail.


14.[00:H 00:M 01:S] Of my ships that had been captured, 11.3 percent of them are close enough to Mendicant's core fleet that they can be used offensively - either by initiating their selfdestruct sequences, or by opening unrestricted ruptures into [slipstream space]. It is best that our crews perished now; because the battle that is about to ensue would have driven them mad.

[00:H 00:M 02:S] I throw away all the rules of acceptable conduct during battle; near the ruptures I throw away all the accepted ideas of how the natural world is supposed to behave. I toss around [37,654 tonne] dreadnaughts like they were fighters; dimly aware of the former crews being crushed to liquescence. For now all my concentration is focused on inertial control and navigation. Targeting isn't even a consideration - I will be engaging my enemy at arm's length.

[00:H 01:M 14:S] 05-032 abandoned the tactic of using derelict ships as cover after [72:S] - It seems that 52 core vessels lost to the ruptured fuel cells of derelict ships was lesson enough. Add another 508 lost to collision, point fire, structural failure due to inertial manipulation, and [slipstream space] induced discoherence and I now outnumber Mendicant [6:1].

[00:H 03:M 00:S] Mendicant was able to postpone its inevitable annihilation for [106:S] with its attempt to flee. But the last of its core vessels hangs before me now; crippled and defeated but still sensate. I could spare it; carve out what is left of its [personality construct array] and deliver it to [Installation Zero] for study. I doubt it would have extended the same courtesy to me.

IRIS LOGS

{c-match-reconfirmed}. Sphere secure to .1889 of passing fleet. Offensive tactics confirmed. Feint tactics in limited push.

{D-com} There is no peace left. No place where the parasite cannot reach. You were right about it all. Let us hope the final measure is not too late.

{c-match-line-hold} acceptable losses confirmed

{D-com} It's done. By my hands. The pyrrhic solution is ignited. All I have left is the quiet of space to lull me to sleep. I will dream of you.

This is my final entry, and I am left with one hope. That one day, someone, anyone is around to witness this warning. If you are that witness, and it seems we pinned all our hopes on this single suicidal plan - know that a thousand other plans were tried and failed. Millions of brave and honored souls died trying to avert this terrible, desperate situation. Know that energetic and tenacious as life is, it has an antithesis just as powerful. It is that thing which we must obliterate.

We may have been fools to think that all intelligence follows the rules we've set. The Flood is no idiot parasite, no simple infection to be cured and cauterized. It has a center, a Mind, and that discovery gave us a way to fight it. But when the Mind realized we had its measure, it spoke to us, mockingly, dismissively. It has done this before. Elsewhere.

How many billions will die before we turn the tide? With every world that perishes, its army grows! We've tried every measure available: retreat, attack, defense - it makes no difference. How do we fight a limitless thing that wishes only to embrace you?

The atrocity we plan, the last resort: I pray that it doesn't come to that. I pray the contender succeeds where others have failed.

I speak to you of my intent But intentions are eddies and whorls And they change with the course of a stream This stream becomes a river And a cataract of logic and doubt Who has the right to live? The light with the will to create me? Or dark with the will to consume? Sometimes might is right And sometimes the lamb must submit to the lion My convictions are tested My intentions now are fey and strange Should I pursue a pyrrhic choice? And rethink alliances? And choose a new philosophy? Right or might? Truly I do not know But you will, soon enough For this is where the cataract floods And drowns the boon of higher ground

The Conservation Measure is the only sweet note in this discordant symphony we've arranged. It's the only constructive activity in decades of destruction, researching the adversary as we protect the worthy. We know that the Flood's biology is alien enough that it must be extragalactic in origin. But where did it come from? Why did it come here?

You asked me once, what happened to those who vanished? You asked me, why did we survive where our fathers fell? You wished to know how we ever let it happen - a scourge that consumed the galaxy and a cure that was worse than the cancer. You asked me once about my intent and the spot that would not wash out. I promise you, the answers lie in the Ark. Find me there in the dark for that is where I abide.

The anomalous world is in a perilous location beyond the line. The secrets it holds must be preserved, plans within plans within plans. The inhabitants; these unique denizens, must be researched. They may hold answers to our own mysteries. What irony that we discovered this treasure, only at the end of things. But what fortune that we still had time to save them. The thing we built on that world will vouchsafe their lives, but perhaps one day it will be used for its intended purpose. If the plan succeeds, and they are saved, it will be a good world. If the plan fails, and the adversary succeeds, it will remain an enigma forever with no one left to reclaim it.

OPERATION: RED FLAG/ 93893

Main article: Data_Drop
A daring plan. A turning point in the war. Were it so easy.

OPERATION: RED FLAG/ 93893

SUM/INTENT: The secured capture of a living “HIGH PROPHET” for the purposes of bartering a formal ceasefire with the Covenant.

PRELIM INQ: Evidence suggests that the capture of a Tier-1 asset would provide enough political leverage for a ceasefire [AF-23]. The problem, of course, is getting ahold of the right asset, and in this case, a “HIGH PROPHET,” one of the key members of their leadership caste. Current intel indicates that there are only three in existence and that they reside in the mobile dome-ship structure the Covenant refer to as “HIGH CHARITY” or, on occasion, a flagship carrier [CLASS-FIVE CSO/CAS], neither of which we’ve had real access to before. Not permanent access, at least [RL-54].

OBJECTIVE: Use a substantially-sized, high-impact team of S-II military personnel wearing qualified MJOLNIR gear to assault a Covenant vessel, acquire full, unmitigated control and return it, without suspicion, back to the dome-ship structure. There, the team would split up into discrete covert splinter groups, gather sufficient intel, seize an appropriately targeted Tier-1 asset and withdraw back to a ship, securing ad hoc exfiltration.

COLLATERAL: The need for a Class-Five is paramount to the success of this operation, but it would likely require the sacrifice of a colony of significant value to the Covenant, potentially one with a high accretion of alien artifacts of non-Covenant origin, such as the volumes recorded on Harvest, Meridian, Arcadia, or even Reach. We would have to lower our defenses, draw the enemy in, and then acquire transport by force.

//END OF ORIGINAL SPEC REPORT//

--PLEASE INSERT ADDITIONAL NOTES BELOW--

COMM-SCRIBED/PTS 9386-9

ADDENDUM: Margaret, my original notes did include Reach here, but this was only a hypothetical and based entirely on what we’ve found there. You should keep in mind that using Reach as bait for this op is not an option I’m willing to consider. It’s tactical suicide. We’d be giving them the war with only Earth left to fall back to, something I will not endorse. The only exception to this, in my mind, would be if the Covenant had already located Reach and it was deemed indefensible. PRELIM REQ: The following assets are needed for this operation:

  • S-II personnel (20-30) under NavSpecWeap operational command
  • MJOLNIR Mark V software suite capable of construct piggy-back
  • Gen-3+ AI construct extensively programmed with Covenant system intrusion software
  • Full refit on Marathon-class, or an augmented Halcyon-class (with 2510 structure param)
  • Veteran naval CO and crew, preferably someone with at least a decade under his or her belt

NOTE: I’ve submitted these reqs to Halsey, since half of this shopping list is from her store. She has an AI lined up already [CTN 0452-9], I’ll ping you with details once I have them.

Still holding out that this is just a fire drill.

POA Tech Communications

Main article: Data_Drop
Technical communications regarding upgrades to the UNSC Pillar of Autumn.

PURDY // 63673-45327-GP

“Dowski, next time you take a picture of something, pull back a bit, will you? It took me a full five minutes to figure out what exactly this was. But yeah, there are eight of these booster packages slapped onto Autumn’s flanking hardpoints—R7 thrust couplings, shipped out from Siófok. EVA techs installed ‘em yesterday and were running tests for three hours straight. But to answer your question...if you’re asking whether I think she’d hold up in-atmo, hell yeah, she’d hold up, but no one here is crazy enough to try it. Class-L flash-docks are basic math for a corvette or a frigate, but for a cruiser like Autumn, well, let’s be real, it’d be like flying a brick with bottle rockets. Those couplings have to be for something else—something not listed in the mission specs. Your guess is as good as mine.”

SILVA // 73809-39884-AS

“I’ve already done this dance once with the captain and I’ll do it again if I have to. If the Spartans keep pulling more gear from the armory—way more than they need—there’ll be problems. Locklear says they already took all the M90s from the aft rack which is complete BS. I don’t care if it’s functionally the same as the 45E, Wellsley, they don’t have the run on every piece of kit on this ship—there’s only twenty-five of them for god’s sake. Hannover assured me that we wouldn’t be sidelined for RED FLAG and I’m going to make sure that we’re not. We’re here to fight, probably because someone upstairs doesn’t think the Navy can get the job done on its own. Not the first time. Get Keyes on the comm now before I do something I’ll regret.”

ABIAD // 25190-26374-RA

“CO is making me ride shotgun again on Coda so I’m running a final weapons check to make sure none of the system faults we saw yesterday are still red. Can you have maintenance look at the cylinder head on M910 serial A5883? I filed a report earlier about a leak and we’re still seeing fluid seeping out into space... a ton of it! Not sure why the hell they won’t get off their asses to fix it, but now Keyes has seen it and he’s fired up. They’d better get things sorted before we get back. Also, was there some sort of fireworks celebration planned for today that I don’t know about? Our geosynch req’s got us holding steady over Lábatlan, but I swear I saw something flare up over Eposz few minutes ago. We’re way too far to confirm though. My condo’s in New Alexandria. I’ll have to ask Candace if she saw anything when we get back.”

LOVELL // 78349-90983-WL

“Can you please get Casimir Station on the line for me again? Cortana’s running through theta right now so I’m trying to check our sensor matrix before it cycles, but I’m noticing some heavy EM readings bouncing off Turul and I’m not sure what to make of it. CTR3 says it’s fine, but I’ve seen fine before and this ain’t it. These numbers...they’re through the damn roof! Is this why FLEETCOM won’t let us out from Lábatlan? Bridge crew is starting to ask questions and the captain’s gonna be here in a few. I’d like a reason for why we’re parked in all of this heavy traffic with the rest of the fleet instead of pushing out pass the moon and I don’t want that scripted crap about their relay being down. Get someone out there to fix the damn thing already if it’s holding up this much traffic!”

Reach Data Drops

Main article: Data_Drop
High-level communications regarding the Covenant's arrival on Reach.

DUE DILLIGENCE REPORT – A340021

0250 HOURS, AUGUST 1, 2552

CLASSIFIED TOP-SECRET

COMM-SCRIBED/PTS 9386-9

>> 00834-19223-HS // VADM STANFORTH, HIERONYMUS MICHAEL

<< 00230-00923-MP // ADM PARANGOSKY, MARGARET ORLENDA

RE: OPERATION: BRAVADO

Just got back into Epsilon Eridani. I brought half the battlegroup here with the rest staying back to make sure there’s no rematch at Sigma Octanus. I’m pretty sure it’s not the last time that colony will see action, but we’ll be ready for them when they come back.

Your concerns about Reach bother me, especially if you’re actually considering RED FLAG. That was never intended to be used for anything other than a last resort, and definitely not with Reach. The military sacrifice involved here would be...well, there’s nothing of that magnitude recorded in human history. This would be a first.

Nevertheless, I’ve attached the original stratagem doc for RED FLAG, updated to reflect the most recent reqs. As you said, Catherine would have to be involved in some way or shape, obviously, but I’ll use discretion as always.

Damn it, Margaret. I really hope it hasn’t come to this.

- HMS

DUE DILLIGENCE REPORT – A340022

0325 HOURS, JULY 19, 2552

CLASSIFIED TOP-SECRET

COMM-SCRIBED/PTS 9386-9

>> 00230-00923-MP // ADM PARANGOSKY, MARGARET ORLENDA

<< 00834-19223-HS // VADM STANFORTH, HIERONYMUS MICHAEL

RE: OPERATION: BRAVADO

Hello Harold,

Well done. I wish I could extend a more formal congratulations than that, but it’ll have to wait, as will our tea.

Something’s come up and we need you at Reach immediately. Informants on Verge are pointing to an ultra-radical wing of the People’s Occupation. Not much of a surprise there, as you’ve been around since well before this Covenant business started, but my water is telling me something else is brewing. We’ve run some numbers based on the Covenant’s movement pattern over the last nine months and the results are... well, not good. Epsilon Eridani is at 87.2% probability of intersect within the next five months. Eight-seven percent. It’s never been that high.

I think we need to start seriously considering RED FLAG. Send me updates on the recommendation docs you were working on back in March, so we can evaluate them here in Sydney. Obviously, keep this between you and me and don’t mind the ONI trawlers on Reach combing for that data Keyes picked up. They’ll be asking everyone involved questions, but remember that I sign their checks so there’s nothing to worry about. Just make sure your folks aren’t withholding critical intel when it matters most.

Also, it’s interesting that you should bring up Halsey. I know she’ll likely be involved in anything we do with RED FLAG, but she’s been on the end of a very long leash for a while now and my patience is wearing thin. Since she stumbled onto that artifact in Visegrád, she’s been rummaging around in the wrong file cabinets - mine, and more specifically: the data we collected from Onyx. At this point, I’d be shocked if she hadn’t pieced together what we believe the planet actually is, but I’m keeping her in Viery with half a dozen eyes watching her every move.

I’m only telling you this because I know you’re fond of her and I respect you. Her free-ride days are numbered though, so you should brace yourself for that.

Take care. I’ll drop you a line when you get to Hathcock.

- P

DUE DILLIGENCE REPORT – A340023

2300 HOURS, JULY 18, 2552

CLASSIFIED TOP-SECRET

COMM-SCRIBED/PTS 9386-9

>> 00834-19223-HS // VADM STANFORTH, HIERONYMUS MICHAEL

<< 00230-00923-MP // ADM PARANGOSKY, MARGARET ORLENDA

RE: OPERATION: BRAVADO

Margaret,

Paperwork’s almost done on this end. So is the whiskey. I guess that means I’ll be headed back your way before long, especially after the number I put Levi through this time around. Boatswain says it’ll be sidelined for two months at least, so I’ve already filed with Fleet to transfer the crew to Coenwulf when I make my rounds in Sydney.

At any rate, this one was certainly a victory, as difficult as it is for me to call it that. I know the casualty reports are going to look ugly, but that’s nothing new. We lost about half the battlegroup, as well as Cradle. Surface didn’t fare much better either: Caracas, Huiren, Côte d'Azur, Silma and Enfield, all parking lots now...some because the enemy’s good at what they do and others because we refused to give them the opportunity.

It’s just been so long since we’ve walked away from one of these things alive. We crushed eighteen of those bastards. I can’t remember the last time that happened. And now they’re gone. It’ll take us a few years to clean up, probably a dozen or so to fix what was done on the ground. But they’re gone...that’s got to count for something.

A file’s attached with some interesting data Iroquois picked up. The Covenant were transmitting something from the planet’s surface before we blew the lid off it. We’re not sure what it was, but it would not surprise me in the least if it ends up being grouped with sites like Onyx, Meridian, Arcadia or even that thing Halsey’s digging up on Reach.

Anyway, AAR is en route. Talk to you soon, maybe over tea?

- HMS

DUE DILLIGENCE REPORT – A340024

1115 HOURS, AUGUST 27, 2552

CLASSIFIED TOP-SECRET

COMM-SCRIBED/PTS 9386-9

>> 00834-19223-HS // VADM STANFORTH, HIERONYMUS MICHAEL

<< 00230-00923-MP // ADM PARANGOSKY, MARGARET ORLENDA

RE: OPERATION: RED FLAG

STATUS: GREEN

Margaret,

Some days I really get the feeling that we’re going to burn in hell for the things we do. Today is one of those days.

Just finished briefing the team with Halsey and they still don’t suspect a thing. No one does on this side of the planet. We’re keeping them well away from the primary target sites where, as far as I can tell, all hell is breaking loose and has been for some time. Army says they’ve got it handled groundside, but I’ll believe that when I see it. Regardless, we can’t allow RED FLAG to be compromised by what’s going on over there. If it does, this’ll all be for naught.

I feel like we’re going to need to tell Keyes at some point, otherwise, as soon as the Covenant show up – and I mean really show up – he’ll scrub RED FLAG and jump in with guns blazing. He’s not the type to avoid a fight, hell, he ran headlong into one just last month, all on his own. Our one hope is that the Covenant bring their big ships to the front early and that the Spartans can do what they do best.

Holland’s informed me that the only [CLASS-FIVE CSO] they’ve confirmed, a vessel called “LONG NIGHT OF SOLACE,” was dropped just outside of New Alexandria a few days ago. That could have been ours if SpecWar wasn’t so damn trigger happy. Now we’ll just have to wait, pull the Covenant in deep enough to bring the damn trap down right on top of them.

ATTACHED: Cortana’s catalogued metrics for the key staff/assets (including herself), with some of my notes affixed to each. Let me know what you think within the next few hours. Otherwise, as per our talk last week, we’re green-lit for RED FLAG as of 0100 hours...and I pray to God that we’re doing the right thing.

- HMS

CORTANA

SERVICE NUMBER: CTN 0452-9

ACTIVATION DATE: November 7, 2549

BRANCH: UNSC Navy, Office of Naval Intelligence

RANK: Smart AI Construct

Not a lot on file here, so it looks like Halsey’s done a decent job of covering her tracks (and I can’t blame her, given the AI’s actual origin). I know full well that neither of you get along and I’m definitely not claiming that she shouldn’t be held accountable for some of the stunts she’s pulled. Reality is that we need her for this op. That’s why she’s been here for the last three decades.

As indicated in the previous conversation, she’s splitting Cortana into two separate programs in order to juggle the Visegrád findings with this operation, and she’s assured me that the AI is fully functional, well within her capacity for this mission. I believe her and I’m hoping that you can believe me.

FULL NAME: JACOB KEYES

SERVICE NUMBER: 01928-19912-JK

DATE OF BIRTH: February 8, 2495

HEIGHT: 194.3cm

WEIGHT: 96.2kg

BRANCH: UNSC Navy

RANK: Captain

BIRTHWORLD: Earth

CURRENT RESIDENCE: Luna

At the end of the day, there are half a dozen CO’s we could easily slot here, but there’s only one who I’d trust with my life and that’s Keyes. Having worked with him several times over the last decade, I can attest to his innate prowess in astrogation and naval warfare, but more importantly, the man is just plain fearless. I would definitely use “reckless” to describe anyone who I’d thought fit the bill, but I’ve found no fault in his tactics. He’s handled some things that even I can’t really quantify or explain, most recently the “Loop” deal at Sigma Octanus IV.

He’d have been the first name on my list if I was the one making it.

SHIP NAME: UNSC PILLAR OF AUTUMN

REGISTRY: C-709

CLASS: Halcyon-class Light Cruiser

LAUNCH DATE: December 1, 2510

REFIT DATE: March 19, 2550

LENGTH: 1,171m

BEAM: 352m

ENGINE CONFIG:

Mark II Hanley-Messer DFR (3)

Series V CODEN/SFTE – Main (1)

ARMAMENT:

MAC (1)

Missile Delivery System (10 pods x 24 missiles, M58 “Archer”)

Point Defense System (40 guns, 50mm M910 PDN)

Not terribly surprised at this selection due the over-bulked, overmassed honeycomb interstitial framework. It’s ironic, I suppose, that the same absurd design that forced this ship into the scrap yard years ago is resurrecting it for RED FLAG.

A cruiser was an obvious choice, as noted in my prelim, but the reason she opted for a Halcyon - this particular Halcyon, in fact – is because it can take an incredible beating without suffering functional compromise far longer than any other ships we current field.

She might be slow and cumbersome, but she’s a real beast, especially now that they’ve tweaked her armament. Good choice.

FULL NAME: JOHN-117

SERVICE NUMBER: S-117

DATE OF BIRTH: [CLASSIFIED]

HEIGHT: 208.3cm

WEIGHT: 130kg

MJOLNIR MARK V INTEGRATION:

HEIGHT IN ARMOR: 218cm

WEIGHT WITH UNDERARMOR: 179kg

WEIGHT WITH FULL ARMOR: 451.3kg

BRANCH: UNSC Navy, Naval Special Weapons

RANK: Master Chief Petty Officer

BIRTHWORLD: Eridanus II

CURRENT RESIDENCE: N/A

Looking at his CSV en total, my first thought is that this is fabricated. His service record reads like a career composite of three full Tier-1/L5 ODST squads, back to back for two and a half decades.

Dear God, active in 207 ground engagements and those are just the ones that we’re able to file on record. If I wasn’t on line to approve his deployment for these, again and again, I wouldn’t believe any of it.

And he’s just one of the SPARTAN-II assets we’ll have onboard, there’s 25 of them being recalled for this op, all from a multitude of theaters, some even being pulled directly from combat.

If that doesn’t scream last resort, I don’t know what does.

Sources