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Historical/Psychological Analysis of Cole, Preston J.

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Historical/Psychological Analysis of Cole, Preston J. was a report filed December 30 through 31 of 2552 by Codename: SURGEON to Codename: USUAL SUSPECTS that documented the life of Admiral Preston Jeremiah Cole beginning with his early life and up through Cole's supposed death at the Battle of Psi Serpentis. The report ends on SURGEON's speculation that Cole was in fact alive living with former Insurrectionists, and potentially could be persuaded back into active service. The conclusion by SURGEON was corroborated with the AIs Phoenix and Lackluster to 89.7 percent.[1]

Contents[edit]

PLNB Transmission XX087R-XX
Encryption Code: GAMMA-SHIFT-X-RAY
Public Key: N/A
From: CODENAME SURGEON
To: CODENAME USUAL SUSPECTS
Subject: HISTORICAL/PSYCHOLOGICAL ANALYSIS OF COLE, PRESTON J.
Classification: EYES ONLY, CODE WORD [REDACTED] TOP SECRET
Security Override: BLACK LEVEL-IV
Ghost server file-transfer protocol (EXACTION): TRUE
AI-touch protocol (VERACITY): FALSE
/file extraction-reconstitution complete/
/start file/
The purpose of this analysis is to find the final resting place of Preston J. Cole (UNSC Service Number: 00814-13094-BQ) for what I surmise to be the answer to the political, sociological, and military conundrum the UNSC now faces with the post-Covenant War situation.
Please spare me the plausible denials and "need to knows" about the reason for requesting this analysis.
I know.
Otherwise, you wouldn't have asked me in the first place.
To ascertain if such a final resting place even exists , or if the redoubtable Cole rests at all, is not a straightforward query, and I'm afraid my analysis will be less than straightforward as well.
Even if you pierce the veil of propaganda and discount the vast number of Cole's victories , promotions, and decorations as nothing more than engineered drama to prop up our population's then-sinking morale - Preston Cole still has an unparalleled battle record... even far and away more impressive than the legendary Spartan-IIs. He was the greatest hero in modern times, a legend before, and in spite of, our meddling.
I shall add commentary for historical context and psychological analysis, but these depend primarily on the available interviews, orders, after-action reports - as well as audio, video, and AI-enhanced holographic bridge and battle logs.
You'll forgive me if I wax long and poetic about Preston Cole. We knew him, we loved him, and finally we hated him for being the less-than-perfect military god that we had come to depend upon.
Cole would not approve of this report - only because he is the subject of the inquiry. He at least would have understood and, also being a cunning bastard of a military strategist, he would do the same in our shoes.
To quote Cole himself: "They told me to fight, and that's what I've done. Let historians sort through the wreckage, bodies, and broken lives to figure out the rest."
Which is precisely what I intend to do.
Codename: SURGEON
0900 hours, December 30, 2552 (Military Calendar) \ UNSC Point of No Return, Synchronous Lunar Orbit (far side)

Attachments[edit]

A number of files and documents were included within the report as original sources, most of which were accompanied by analysis and comments made by SURGEON for historical context. They were organized in seven sections, and constitute the majority of the report. They were as follows:

Speculation[edit]

The Archer missile screen and the anomalous presence of the Io were smoke screen and decoy. Cole initiated a transition to slipstream space the instant before detonation of the Shiva nuclear ordnance and the triggering of the micronova of Viperidae.
Everest was not destroyed.
Cole faked his death and escaped.
One hole in this theory pertains to the crew of Everest. Cole's massive personnel transfer prior to the battle might have been intended to fill his ranks with those sympathetic to his motives or, at least, those who had unwavering loyalty to him. But he could never have convinced the entire crew of Everest to agree to a wartime desertion. I do not believe Cole could kill his own crew - but perhaps he could keep potential dissenters indefinitely in cryo sleep?
As to Cole's motivations, that is pure speculation. But the resurfacing of Bellicose and his former lover, Lyra Castilla, point in the right direction - that, and a mental breakdown brought on by years of constant fighting with overwhelming casualties.
Scattered reports and rumors of independent human forces fighting Covenant pop up on the outer edge of what we believe to be nonsanctioned human colonized space... reports that track toward the Sagittarius side of the Orion arm in the Milky Way... and then these rumors fade to whispers... and legend... and then die out all together.

Summary Conclusions[edit]

In my best estimation, Cole survived the Battle of Psi Serpentis.
He may be alive and healthy today.
By Earth-normal chronology he would be eighty-two years old, but before the Covenant War he had his liver, heart, and endocrine system replaced with flash-clone parts. Also, many of his "years" occupied with space travel were filled with periods of cryogenic suspension and minor but additional relativistic effects. Our best guess at Cole's biological age is sixty.
He is likely leading a band of colonists, insurgents, and UNSC defectors to build a new home far outside UNSC-dominated space. He always wanted a farm on some world where he could look up and not recognize the nighttime stars.
I think he did just that.

Recommendation[edit]

While it is remotely possible that my analysis is incorrect (AIs Phoenix and Lackluster have, however, independently corroborated my conclusions within 89.7 percent accuracy), I shall nonetheless give you my informed recommendations on this matter.
For the moment Preston Cole may be living a simple, isolated life - the governor, perhaps, of some unknown provincial farming colony.
But how long will that isolation last, given the highly unstable situation we find ourselves in after the Covenant War? Namely:
a. The insurgency may rise again (especially dangerous given the UNSC's weakened postwar status); and
b. The Covenant (to the best of our limited intelligence of their culture) is in utter chaos now that their religious hierarchy has been removed. What they will do with their independent races, or collectively, is anyone's guess.
It is inevitable that these coming conflicts will spread to a wider region of the galaxy.
Cole might be found and convinced to fight once more. In addition to possessing great military genius, he would be a natural figurehead for our battered forces to rally behind. Insurgent or Covenant aggressors would think twice before engaging Preston Cole in battle.
But if found, will Cole fight? For us?
There are three possibilities: (1) Cole will see that Earth and all her colonies are in peril and defend them once more. (2) He will fight for humanity... but perhaps not on our side. After living for years among former insurgents, he may back those forces should they rise against the UNSC. Or (3) Cole will not fight, having grown too weary to take up arms again, and will flee farther from the conflict .
Neither I nor the AIs can hazard a better than even guess as to the probabilities (plus or minus 4.35 percent, 4.05 percent, and 4.30 percent respectively).
All that can be said with absolute certainty is that Cole will remain a leader - whether leading his people to safety... or back into battle once more.
I offer my services, as usual, to pick up Preston Cole's trail, find him, and attempt to convince him to join our cause.
Failing that, if he chooses to side against us... well, I leave those unpleasant details to you.
I, for one, have lost my stomach for killing legends.
CODENAME: Surgeon
Office of Naval Intelligence (Section-III) Operator #: AA2
2200 hours, December 31, 2552 (Military Calendar) \ UNSC Point of No Return, Synchronous Lunar Orbit (far side)
/end file/
/scramble-destruction process enable/
Press ENTER to continue.

Production notes[edit]

  • This report is used as the fictional framing device for the short story "The Impossible Life and the Possible Death of Preston J. Cole" by Eric Nylund. The action of the story is told solely through the report and its attached files.
  • The file name of the report, "PLNB Transmission XX087R-XX", is shared with that of "PROGRESS REPORT/OPERATION HYPODERMIC". It is not obvious if this is merely coincidental, suggests a connection between the reports, or is simply a mistake on the part of the author. If any connection were to be inferred, it would be that SURGEON's report on Cole was likely prepared as part of Operation: HYPODERMIC; however, such a supposition would be wholly conjectural.

List of appearances[edit]

Sources[edit]