OFFICE OF NAVAL INTELLIGENCE/SECTION 1
DUE DILIGENCE REPORT – H931106
1500 HOURS, FEBRUARY 9, 2012
>> 00281-11224-KC // LT CONRAD, KEVIN GEORGE
<< 00705-00625-LB // RDML BOYTHORN, LAWRENCE KIRKLAND
RE: OPERATION: EXPANDED CONTEXT
ATTACHED: [Initial RE if needed]
STATUS: Contact Harvest / Joseph Staten / Part II (pg. 141-282)
With characters established, the story has grown. Please send any feedback through normal channels.
> > > > > > >WARNING< < < < < < <
> > > > > > > PLOT DETAILS REVEALED< >PROCEED WITH CAUTION < < < < < <
23rd Age of Doubt / Covenant Holy City, High Charity
>…INTEL: In this chapter, we meet some of the main players that will shape the future of Halo – the Minister of Fortitude (future Prophet of Truth) and the Vice Minister of Tranquility (future Prophet of Regret).
>…The description of High Charity and its inhabitants in this chapter is fantastic. Having played the games we’ve been to High Charity, but we were too busy to stop and take in the view. This is unfortunate because there’s a lot to see, and this is where the novels shine – taking something familiar and expanding on it so a new appreciation is gained.
For example, I loved how the San ‘Shyuum’s mode of transportation was dictated by their rank. The lower ranks had to group together in a ring of at least twenty to have the power to cross larger distances, and it moved up from that (depending on status to groups of seven, three and then to full Ministers or higher for an anti-gravity chair powerful enough to travel long stretches on its own.)
>…Fortitude felt there should be a follow-up to the “Infusion Incident,” and he lodged a formal complaint – inciting some blow-back from more senior Prophets. He was proven right in this, however, with the incident being the tipping point in what would be known as the Unggoy Rebellion.
Fortitude was many things, one of them being an accurate reader of passions. He understood how beings felt about certain situations, and thus could predict and influence those feelings. It would serve him well in his future as a Hierarch.
Even in his youth, Fortitude had understood that while something like the Unggoy Rebellion might temporarily destabilize the Covenant, a Sangheili revolt would shatter it. (151-152)
If he understood this so well, why risk it? We know as the Prophet of Truth he made the move that brought the Jiralhanae to dominance over the Sangheili within the Covenant, something that he would have (presumably) known the Elites would not accept.
Perhaps he felt they would accept it, or perhaps he felt his control was so absolute it wouldn’t matter.
>…INTEL: Buried in this chapter was the reminder that the San ‘Shyuum civil war (Stoics vs. Reformists) and the Sangheili – San ‘Shyuum war were both fought for the same reason – how the Forerunner relics should be used.
Both of them were won by the Reformists by the use of the Forerunner Dreadnought. Is there any other ship with such a strong arm in Halo history as this Keyship?
>… The Prophets ascend in rank (and a new age begins) on their ability to respond to a crisis. It can certainly be said that leaders are found in times of trouble, but an unintended consequence? The leadership of Covenant society is based on failure.
New leadership only comes when things are there most dire, and until that point does not change. What’s worse is it’s not expected to. This allows too much ambition to not only wait for failure in others but to hope for it – and maybe to bring it about.
>…When Tranquility told Fortitude he had a warship standing by to inspect the new Luminaries found, he was deeply troubled (to put it mildly) that the Sangheili were made aware of the find, for fear the balance of their Covenant would not be maintained.
As in the previous section, cracks in the Covenant union are showing their ugly head. Even though the balance of power had stayed the same for over three thousand years between the Covenant’s two primary races, the fear of being usurped was very real to the Minister of Fortitude.
And none would have the power to alter his decisions. (158)
Power is simply a childish desire grown up – the ability to get our own way merged with better ability to make it so.
January 19, 2525 / Harvest
>…INTEL: Avery and Jilan had some good bedside conversations as he was recovering; I’ve often wondered who has the harder job, those in charge or those who execute those commands.
The answer always depends on who you ask.
…then he reached out and gave Avery a single, earnest shake. (171)
Byrne and Johnson come to terms. Battle may fundamentally be about difference, but it’s incredible the types of friendships that can be forged by it.
January 20, 2525 / Harvest
For the first time in her existence, she felt overly constrained – experienced a rampant twinge. And it made her very afraid. (177)
This observation about Sif is tied directly to her frustration at the limits of her knowledge. She knows something is happening on Harvest, something that she’s not being told – and that causes the “rampant twinge.”
In this quote (and those to follow) I was struck by how much “rampancy” could be defined as “reality”; let me explain.
Sif is finite, a created program for a certain task. While she can reach out as far as her data center, processor clusters and storage arrays allow her to, these have limits.
But what are these limits but the reality of her life? What are these constraints but another way of stating the questions philosophers (and everyone else) has tried to answer since the beginning of recorded history?
“How did I get here?” “What happens to me beyond the present?”
Sif realizes she is not in control of the world she inhabits, and how she reacts to that fact causes the first hint of rampancy. This realization of reality – that she does not have all the answers nor the ability on her own to acquire them – is what causes her to look over the edge of (in her case) “normal” AI operations.
This is why I said rampancy could be a synonym for reality – be it mankind or fictional AI, we all enter a new level of understanding when we realize our place in the universe is limited and ultimately out of our control.
Almost without thinking, Sif reached out and took Mack’s hand. (182)
Given the context of the chapter, I think this line it meant to further push Sif’s rise to rampancy, to give us another indicator that she is heading closer to that state.
However, going deeper into the line gives us more of a reason why. The first part, “Almost without thinking,” at first glance gives you the idea that this action was almost involuntary; she reached out solely based on a real (or implied) emotion. In other words, Sif “gave into her feelings” or was “lost in the moment” at this point.
But actions done “without thinking” are some of the most thought-out actions we ever do in our lives. A rash decision made, an event we’d like to have back – in retrospect something said or done “without thinking” often has more thought behind it than we’d like to admit.
This is why this quote works so well for me – Sif is going rampant because she’s thinking, not due to a lack of it.
>…INTEL: A new type of AI emerges, the PSI (Planetary Security Intelligence). For Harvest, the PSI is Loki.
I liked the idea of each planet having it’s own back-up AI in case of emergency, but it made to wonder about the extent of their reach. Does each UNSC planet have one? Are there other AI hidden within other smart AI? All possibilities.
Not given / Covenant Lesser Missionary Allotment
>…INTEL: Per page 189, the Covenant knew not only about the Flood but also that it was aided by some of the Forerunner’s own AI. I didn’t realize they knew this extent of detail about the Forerunner history.
>…The Vice Minister of Tranquility (future Prophet of Regret) was Maccabeus’s alpha male. While I’m sure the San ‘Shyuum didn’t have “Alpha Male” emblazoned on his official ministry name tag, I thought it was interesting that the pack mentality of the Brutes was in place even at this high level.
In Maccabeus’s mind, Tranquility was the Covenant – the Jiralhanae’s loyalty was to him alone. This is why the Vice Minister could refer to the Brutes earlier in Chapter 9 as “Creatures who have proven themselves both loyal and discreet” (157).
>…I liked the contrast the Jiralhanae brought to the inside of CCS-class battlecruiser, Rapid Conversion. The feasting hall, lamps, and specially-constructed ladders (since the Sangheili had the gravity lifts removed )all gave the ship a different feel from then on out.
This was the ship that was going to make first contact, and details like this make it unique enough to stand out from the crowd of Covenant ships we’ll be introduced to as the war goes on.
>…And in complete contrast to that, I enjoyed the description on page 198 of the part of the ship that we’re used to – the low, artificial lighting and smooth surfaces of Covenant design. I’ve put a lot of bullet holes in those surfaces over the years!
If one were to judge by color alone, the youth was marked for greatness. (202)
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Tartarus.
Thankfully, we’ll never know what he was destined for if judged by hair style alone …
>…INTEL: With the arrival of Huragok Lighter Than Some, Rapid Conversion would now become a truly formidable ship with the Sangheili-imposed restrictions repaired.
February 9, 2525 / Harvest
>…INTEL: Great description of the recruits training exercise with Johnson and Byrne. It let you spend some time with Harvest’s first line of defense and it wasn’t wasted.
Staten could have easily just had a line at the top of the next chapter to say, “the recruit’s training had gone well” and be done with it; instead we get to see the men become brothers and feel the intensity as they prepare for an “attack” from their two Staff Sargents.
The image of Avery jumping up snow-white (pg. 219) and firing at you out of no where is enough to freak anyone out, even if he is a fictional character.
Unknown / Rapid Conversion / Reliquary System
“I’m afraid,” Dadab said with as much gravitas as he could muster, “the answer is ontological.” (225)
This was the answer the Deacon provided to the question of (my paraphrase), “where does the Great Journey go?” You’ll be happy to remember that his answer satisfied the Unggoy faithful.
>…INTEL: The Yanme’e were primarily used for maintenance before the Human-Covenant War – this was new info to me.
>…Lighter Than Some creating the plow as a gift to the humans, and that plow eventually becoming the Brute Chopper made more sense to me after reading it through. I had heard of how the Chopper was created, but it actually made sense (and therefore seemed much more likely) to me after going through this chapter.
>…Trying to get in a pre-war mindset can be difficult, but it’s the state of the Halo universe at this point. With that mindset, the attempts at communication can be better appreciated.
The etching of the meeting place the UNSC put on the underside of their freighter so the crew of Rapid Conversion would know where to land and of their peaceful intentions was one such attempt.
“A wise observation, Deacon.” Maccabeus lifted a silver-haired paw and placed it on Dadab’s head. (236)
This show of approval from the Chieftain was a nice moment – our nervous Deacon finally gets some positive feedback. Dadab even joins in the pack’s “booming chorus of joyous yelps” when they confirm the identification of a new Oracle.
February 11, 2525 / Harvest
>…INTEL: First official contact between the Covenant and humanity was intense: half because you know something is going to go horribly wrong, and half because of the prose.
Maccabeus in his golden crest, the Brute bodyguards at his side, the recruits nervously surveying the whole scene, Johnson determined to keep everything going as smooth as possible – it all creates the needed tension.
>…Having Mack play the “Welcome to Harvest” video as a way to study the Jiralhanae was interesting; playing images and then scanning their reactions to try and get a feel on what these aliens liked or didn’t like.
He played the video until receiving a subtle signal from Jilan al-Cygni, then switched it off.
“Governor,” she [Jilan] said in a whisper. “They want us to give them the entire planet.” (252)
It was after this realization that the worst-case scenario exploded, with casualties on both sides.
It’s difficult to see a different outcome to this first meeting with both sides armed to the teeth, yet what alternative would have worked? Both sides had already fought each other (the skirmish on the Minor Transgression), and the idea that either side would come defenseless seems at best unpractical, at worst unwise.
>…INTEL: Much like the interior discussion earlier about the Rapid Conversion, the description of the inside of the Spirit was well done and took me back to play-throughs of the games. As Maccabeus strained to keep his pack mate Licinus upright (the stasis fields that would normally keep the crew level were removed by the Sangheili) it felt as if I was right there with them (minus the flesh wound of course).
23rd Age of Doubt / High Charity
>…INTEL: On pages 262-263 a brief rundown is found about the early history of the San ‘Shyuum, how the Reformists dramatically left Janjur Qom with the Keyship. The layers of detail being added to the Prophets have elevated their status as protagonists for me, making them characters with a history instead of merely “the guys pulling the strings.”
>…The Roll of Celebrates was unexpected, but made sense with only about one thousand of the Reformists leaving their homeworld. It also made sense to me that the High Prophet of Restraint would seek to have his genes passed on and seek to defy the Roll.
While this is a stretch and you could do this with one hundred other flashpoints, follow along with me as the dominoes fall, on upon the other:
Ascension of Truth
Campaign to expunge humanity
Accelerated changing of the guard (i.e., Brutes replacing the Elites in the Covenant hierarchy)
Destruction of the Covenant
The (probable) end of the San ‘Shyuum people
While the Prophets names are meant to be ironic, the ultimate irony of Restraint’s desire to propagate his own seed destroying his race altogether is remarkable.
>…The slow flight to the Keyship inside High Charity was aided by time in the games, having seen the three-pronged structure several times. Contact Harvest continues to bring settings you thought you were familiar with even closer.
>…There was an interesting note about a Forerunner structure whose debris made up the rings of a gas giant near Sanghelios – the Lekgolo homeworld of Te. What was the structure, originally I wonder?
>…While I guessed wrong on who the ONI spook was, I saw the eventual Prophet of Mercy coming from a mile away as Truth and Regret entered and Dreadnought and asked the head Philologist for confirmation of the Luminary’s findings on Harvest.
<I WILL REJECT MY BIAS AND WILL MAKE AMENDS> (276)
The Forerunner AI we come to know as Mendicant Bias speaks after eons of silence, and nearly destroys High Charity in the process of breaking free with the Keyship.
The groundwork for the future is laid here. The question is, what else would have begun had not the Lekgolo shorted out the Dreadnoughts systems?
“He asked me to keep you safe,” Loki slowly shook his head. “But that’s too risky. Better just to keep you quiet.” (281)
Mack’s request goes unheeded by Loki as he shuts down Sif with a military-grade virus. However, one fragment remains …
> > > > > > >PART II CONCLUDED< < < < < < <
Part III to come next week, per SATCOM function.
[All images (and much knowledge!) courtesy of Halopedia unless otherwise noted]