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Unread post Reach
To: Cpt********.1465.UNSC.THESEUS
From: ISitInA.ERROR DATA UNAVAILABLE
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Attachments: 1 (F484 Reach Announcement, 48 Mb)
Subject: Reach

Captain,

February 13, 2568. Friday the Thirteenth. And also a day that will go down in infamy.

The day Reach was attached.

The third generation of Orion-IVs were still in training. Contrary to popular belief, up until graduation every day is a critical day for Orions. The entire training program is designed to shape them quickly into the ultimate soldier. Many “chance” happenings are perfectly planned. Every missed treatment can cause havoc on an Orions body. Every stress they encounter is carefully analyzed.

This, naturally, was blown out of the water the moment the Covenant arrived. We're still studying the effects on the surviving members. Being able to dethaw those who were placed in cryo is still a high priority. I'll be honest, Section Two needs all the ammunition it can get these days.

I was off doing some work involved with the next Orion program when I heard the news. Earth might be the cradle of humanity, but Reach is the stronghold of the UNSC. I was shopping when I got the call – the planet was legendary for its coffee, and I fell in love with it. (You can probably guess where I was already.) My comms burst into life with frantic news to get to the local ONI facilities ASAP. I remember asking why; I thought it was another false alarm, or maybe something had happened in one of the things I was assigned.

They told me Reach went Winter Contingency.

I remember feeling... nothing for a long moment. I couldn't even feel the heat of the coffee in my hand. And then panic. Blind panic. They were assaulting my Orions. I don't know why I suddenly felt possessive of all of them; I'd only helped in recruiting generations two and three. But they were all mine, as of that moment. Even the Orion-Is through the Orion-IIIs. Before I even made it to the facility, blind panic had turned to cold rage. The kind of cold rage that can help you focus on the task at hand.

My task was sifting and cataloging massive amounts of data from Reach. Roland, god bless his digital soul, was maintaining a secure link and passing everything he could to ONI stations throughout the UNSC with the assistance of every AI who wasn't dedicated to the fighting somehow. Not just the combat data, either. He was also passing along every file that might not have an off-planet backup. Trust me, there were more of those files than you can imagine.

I can't explain how, what, or why, but I moved as if the universe moved through me. Every byte of information that passed through my makeshift desk was of vital long-term importance, and I made sure that as much of it as possible went where it needed to be. Because, God knows, the AIs there were so overloaded it was insane.

It was 46 hours after the initial news before I finally slept. I literally passed out in the middle of working. Coffee can only keep you going for so long. Cold fury can push it farther, but the crash is worse. Somebody literally carried me to my hotel room, or so I'm told. It was fourteen hours later when I woke up. As soon as I was showered and had a bite to eat, I was back to work.

Do you remember where you were when you got the news? Or were you too young to remember?

Sincerely,

Chair
*************
Note by Hive: Captain, I have encountered additional encrypted data within this message. The encryption keys are old enough to be added to my own databanks upon my creation due to our frequent status in the outer regions of humanity's occupied zone, in case we encountered any of the number of missing ships from the war. However, it uses a completely different set of encryption keys than the previous messages used. Below is the unencrypted message.
*************
I wish I could have been there for you. But it wouldn't have done any good, would it?
*************

F484 Reach Announcement wrote:
F484: Now, I'm sure that some of you are wondering why you need to learn the proper programmed procedures if the programming adapts to you. That's a a good question. Your HMD will learn, if you'll pardon the phrase, your own idiosyncrasies in due time, however it is not a smart AI. It can't make intuitive leaps of logic as to what each motion of your eye, each twitch of the cheek, each personalized blinking pattern, and each random impulse your CNI pick up means just by you doing it at random. You start with the basics, you drill them into your head, and then it has a base with which to observe your own gradual adaptations. When you need to use the link to your weapon to zoom, you don't need it to give you a full detailed report on your urine recyc, now do you?
Audience: (QUIET LAUGHTER)
F484: Kavacha armor is designed to give you as much data on the battlefield as you need and more. However, we don't need everything all the time. If you'll look at the screen, you'll see what it looks like when all available data is displayed at once. I sure as hell can't see the grunt in there, so I can't expect you to, either. By learning how to call up and dismiss information as the situation requires, you gain more freedom. Now, as Science Corps, there are several packages that I can tell you from experience you want running at all times. The radiation detection package allows- (INTERRUPTED)
Roland: (URGENTLY) Alert! Six Covenant cruisers have come out of slipstream and are being intercepted by the automated defense systems. By all previous data, we expect more within the hour. Please assume Reach Winter Contingency Protocols! This is not a drill!
F484: (BARKING WITH AUTHORITATIVELY) Alright, maggots, class dismissed! To your bunks, secure your gear! Stay there and await further instruction! Move! Move! Move!


Tue Mar 22, 2011 10:11 pm
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Unread post Re: Reach
You were already working at the Orion project by the time Reach was attacked?

Aren't you a prodigy, eh? Tell me something, Chair, what were the Covenant really after that day?


Tue Mar 22, 2011 11:01 pm
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Unread post Re: Reach
******
Hive, if you were to offer speculation, why do you think our anonymous sender changed their encryption code? It's reading to me like "I don't want to talk to you." Is that the impression you're getting?

Additionally, using the two encryption styles we've received so far, can you narrow down the potential ships and outposts that may have used these particular codes beyond just their date of use?


Tue Mar 22, 2011 11:07 pm
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Unread post Re: Reach
bzzt! I'm sorry, Captain, but I'm not qualified to make that kind of judgment. But if I had to hazard a guess, I would suspect that you are correct.

Bzzt! I'm sorry, but no. I have no data on them beyond their date of use.


Wed Mar 23, 2011 12:29 am
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Unread post Re: Reach
I can be of limited assistance in that, Captain. Though their original use is still classified, I can say that they were ONI ciphers and that they were sometimes utilized by ODST and other groups during ONI supervised operations.


Wed Mar 23, 2011 12:32 am
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Unread post Re: Reach
To: Cpt********.1465.UNSC.THESEUS
From: ISitInA.ERROR DATA UNAVAILABLE
Origin: ERROR DATA UNAVAILABLE
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Subject: Re: Reach

Captain,

A prodigy? Only in that I was 17 when ONI first contacted me about being a "consultant" for them, and I'm not even all that special in that regard. Biologically, I was 32 when Reach fell. My boys were all old enough to serve by that time and had been conscripted. My ex was the true prodigy. Brilliant beyond compare, and just as eccentric. But after the divorce, he took my need to travel on business well.

It worked well -- he watched the three boys whenever I had to go off planet for business. A year, maybe two at a time before I came home for a couple of years. The boys would be more than eager to return to Mom at that point, just to get away from Dad. Typically, about the time that I'd need to leave again, they'd start to miss him. It worked well for the both of us.

Things were both easier and harder once I became an official ONI agent. But that's a different story that I'd rather not go into right now.

As for what the Covenant wanted, that much was obvious. The destruction of humanity, and the recovery of any ancient alien artifacts that might be on Reach.

Sincerely,

Chair


Last edited by ISitInA on Wed Mar 23, 2011 1:52 am, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Mar 23, 2011 12:45 am
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Unread post Re: Reach
It sounds like you had the typically functioning dysfunctional family. I'm glad. If you'd had the perfect life growing up and into adulthood, I would've lost respect for you. It's imperfections and tribulations in life that makes us adaptable and able to handle the situation when the BLAM! hits the fan.

As for the Covenant searching for artifacts...how successful were they? Did they discover the portal to Halo?


Wed Mar 23, 2011 1:07 am
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Unread post The Fall
To: Cpt********.1465.UNSC.THESEUS
From: ISitInA.ERROR DATA UNAVAILABLE
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Subject: The Fall

bzzt! Captain, I have applied your personal language filters.

Captain,

I'm sure you're well aware of how frantic the UNSC was to put up a good fight. We doubted we could win, but the Covenant were going to pay for every inch of that whole BLAM system.

Unsurprisingly, Reach was a place of many firsts throughout history. The battle was no different. It was the first colony to hold out under constant assault for three whole months. The longest before that was Perrugia, which held out for two weeks, and was considered a major victory. It was the home of the first Naga-class Orbital Defense Platform to fire a MAC round in live combat. 40 Naga-class platforms, 10 Chimera-class platforms, and all three of the Mudskipper-class platforms ever built. While nothing compared to the total of 400 ODPs surrounding Earth by the end of the war, it was still massively impressive.

Unsurprisingly, the Naga-class platforms were the first to fall. The Chimera and Mudskipper-class platforms lasted longer due to the experimental shielding technology contained within. All gained from that one captured Covenant cruiser.

More importantly, it was also the first time that Orions ever disobeyed a direct order.

Actually, that's not perfectly true. Allow me to explain.

Back when the first Mudskipper was being built, there were concerns about if they would work to proper capacity against the Covenant. (These turned out to be sadly valid.) To this end, ONI collected up a group of Orion-IIs who were no longer fit for combat thanks to the Covies and gave them a task. Find ways to help defend Reach against an assault. Their bank account for this... Well, let's just say it didn't have a ceiling.

To this day, nobody knows how they were able to secure as many smart AIs for this purpose. However, it is known that some people were forced to retire over their mismanagement. Virtually every detail that didn't have to deal with keeping the Covenant from getting close to the planet or to delay them from wiping it out was ignored.

This counted for approximately 34% (rounding down) of their ideas.

They knew that keeping the Covenant away would be an impossibility, so they did the most logical thing to their minds – ways to keep the Covenant there, and then ways to keep as few from leaving as possible. Everything from planetary shielding to turning the entire planet into a giant bomb was considered. Some of the ideas, looking back with fresh eyes, were truly revolutionary. Some were so simple that we all wonder why we never thought of it before.

So what does this have to do with Orions “not exactly” disobeying orders?

This group's orders were very vague. They had extreme authority, with very little oversight. And they were determined.

Due to the vagueness of the orders, they were able to co-opt many different groups of people, not simply other Orions. Joe Schmoe soldiers, civilians, anybody they thought was useful was brought in on their work. And not just for thinking. For preparing “test models” and “contingency plans.” Naturally, these were the real thing just trussed up with fancy words.

You might wonder how they got the materials for this. Simple – a refugee ship that was an asteroid miner. Full of miners. Remember that Reach rests in a resource-heavy system, with two asteroid belts full of raw materials. While already heavily mined, nobody really paid much attention to one more mining ship. And then two. Even three mining ships didn't rouse suspicions. Nor did the new strip mines on the planets. All crewed by refugees.

They took over decommissioned foundries and shipyards for their purposes. How did they man them? More refugees. It was another oversight, sadly, that allowed them to do this. The UNSC was just happy that somebody found a use for all these refugees, to get them out of their hair. When they saw that it was attached to a top-secret black book project, nobody said a word. In those days, there were so many running around that you started to avoid asking questions, even when an AI told you that you should.

Even more frightening, their orders gave them the power to do this and more.

Reach was partially saved by this. They “borrowed” many of the relics and dispersed them in various locations. They had “redundant power plants for the ODPs” built. They gave Orions new orders, with the understanding that these orders came from HIGHCOM directly and could only be overruled by HIGHCOM itself.

This is also part of the reason why no agent of ONI is allowed to be an Orion anymore, and why HIGHCOM isn't allowed to give Orions missions directly.

When the Covenant arrived, they let them know about the artifacts, playing up their significance... and then raised the shields around select locations. They Covenant couldn't glass areas because of the artifacts, but had a devil of a time getting in due to the shields and the firepower that had been placed there. New UAVs, some of which we're using today, appeared over the battlefield. Methods of psychological warfare, skin irritants pumped into the air designed to work only on specific Covenant races, “packages” stuck to dropships as they unloaded troops to explode when they returned to their base or ship, special ground defensive tactics developed specifically for Reach, special evacuation procedures...

All developed in secret, just far enough out of sight where nobody would question it, but just close enough to be there when needed.

Though civilian casualties were surprisingly low, millions died on Reach. Millions more in orbit. And HIGHCOM was going ballistic because select groups of Orion soldiers were ignoring orders. Because they were following orders.

One such Orion bears special mention. Not just because, like so many others, he was an ONI agent. But partially because I've mentioned him before.

Brooks, now a SCPO, lead a group of Marines, Army, Orion-IIs, Orion-IIIs, and even some G3 Orion-IVs in the defense of one particular power station. The MAC cannon it powered lasted for over 27 days, longer than its ammunition did. The power station lasted under continuous assault for 52 days. At the end, they were under continuous attack for over 63 hours before the station fell. Reports are hard to come by, but they say that near the end the Covenant were having to climb hills of their own corpses in order to get to the station. Until the shields finally blew out and they could get the armor in.

The longest-lasting ODP power station was assaulted by platoons of troops supported by so much armor it boggles the mind. That's how much they'd earned the wrath of their enemies. And that's why when it was purposefully sent critical, it wasn't a defeat.

Even in death, Brooks found victory. Because he knew that every moment that the enemy was focused on him, he was saving a life somewhere else.

That's the sort of mentality behind one of the greatest Orion instructors ever. A good man, who waged war for all the right reasons.

I'm sorry. There's more, so much more, but I need to take a break. I think I'm going to get into my spare bottle of brandy now. More when I get sober again.

Sincerely,

Chair

*************
Note by Hive: Captain, I have encountered encrypted data within this message. The encryption keys are old enough to be added to my own databanks upon my creation due to our frequent status in the outer regions of humanity's occupied zone, in case we encountered any of the number of missing ships from the war. Again, it is a different cipher than what was used before today. Below is the unencrypted message.
*************
You all were his sons and daughters, as much as his own flesh and blood. He mentioned you several times in his journal. Never any sorrow. Always pride. You never disappointed him. Ever. Does that help?
*************

Catch-22 wrote:
CPT Munsey, Richard
SgtMaj B438

Munsey: (DISMAYED) This is way more civvies than we expected.
B438: (CALMLY) Within expected parameters. We'll open Charlie Site.
Munsey: (CONFUSED AND UPSET) Charlie Site? Where the hell is that?
B438: Here. If need be, we'll thin them out a bit more and open Echo Site, but I'm not sure if we'll be spreading our troops too thin. (PAUSE, 2.2 SECONDS) That's located here.
Munsey: (EXTREMELY AGITATED) Why the hell weren't we informed about this?
B438: It was classified.
Munsey: (INCREASED AGITATION) Is there a Foxtrot Site? Or a Golf Site?
B438: Golf is being used for Orions, sir.
Munsey: (EXPLOSIVELY) And where the hell is that?
B438: Classified, by orders of HIGHCOM. I can only reveal its location with permission directly from HIGHCOM.
Munsey: But we can't even contact them from here!
B438: Catch twenty-two, sir.


Wed Mar 23, 2011 1:39 am
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