Reach Data Drops

Reach Data Drops

OFFICE OF NAVAL INTELLIGENCE/SECTION 3

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.

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