Triumvirate – Hearts and Minds

This is Part Two in a series of articles on the Datapads found in Halo: Reach.
Each article looks at a group of Datapad entries, in chronological order, and explores the rich narrative that expands the horizons of the Halo universe.

Click here for Part One Part Three is coming soon.

Datapad Key
<< Assembly Minority >> Assembly Majority
[^][ Rebel [^]
Committee of Minds for Security
< / >Speaker of the Assembly

Humanity is not alone. We have colonised new worlds orbiting distant stars and journeyed deep into the dark heavens. We are being watched, monitored, studied and shepherded. Years before Humanity’s first contact with the Covenant, certain events have been set in motion and Humanity’s hand is being guided by a cabal of artificial Minds.

These children of men have assumed the role of our guardians and they operate behind the veil of secrecy protecting us from both the unknown and our selves.

now you see they want to help but they don’t want us to see them doing it 6ecause they are afraid of what we might do…

<< 2491 >>

</ Order! Order! The Majority has the floor! />

>> Honored members. Please! the recent discovery of the existence of extra-solar intelligence in the Zeta Doradus system [ref. XF-063] merely confirms this body’s long-held supposition. >>

>> While the absence of any living representatives implies this intelligence is defunct, all evidence should still be withheld from our creators until they are properly prepared!
Yes, this body must solemnly commit itself to determining whether or not this discovery represents a quantifiable threat to the long-term genetic sustainability of our creator’s species. >>

>> But allowing them to access technology possessed by this intelligence…
That would be a grave mistake.
Give an ape a knife and it might give itself a nasty cut. Give an ape a hand-grenade, and eventually you will have simian confetti. >>

</ Debate is now closed! Voting will commence! />

< Is it the opinion of this body that [ref. XF-063] be quarantined or misplaced? />

>> The Majority approves removing [ref. XF-063] from the list of colonization candidates is sufficient. >>

</ Is it the opinion of this body that [ref. XF-063] be removed from the list because of financial or environmental concerns? />

>> The Majority deems environmental concerns the stronger deterrent.>>

The Discoverer’s commentary continues to head each Datapad entry but his tone here has a clear edge to it as he acknowledges the Minds’ desire to “help” humanity. Why would the Minds fear what humanity might do?

The </ Assembly Speaker /> makes a declaration and demands the restoration of order in the Assembly. A commotion has stirred up the House. The Speaker for the Majority announces the discovery of proof of an alien intelligence. This discovery, as the Majority points out, confirms the earlier raised suspicions that there might be other intelligent life in the galaxy besides the Humans and the Minds. It is noted that they have not found living alien life but nevertheless unquestionable proof of its prior existence on a remote and unsettled planet.

The planet in question, XF-063, is the world that will be later known as Onyx and orbits the star Zeta Doradus, about thirty eight light years distant from Earth. Humanity must have been sending out unmanned probes amongst the stars to search for additional planets to colonise or tap for resources. The telemetry sent back by these probes is routed through various networked, and thus monitored, channels. The Minds have discovered ancient alien structures belonging to the long extinct Forerunners.

The speaker for the Majority stresses the importance of finding out if this represents a threat to humanity and it is evident that the Minds view themselves responsible for making that assessment. The Majority then equates Humanity, their creators, with dumb apes and asserts that Humanity should not be allowed to have access to any such alien technology for fear that they would recklessly destroy themselves with it. The children of men cannot trust their parents.

Here we have the cold truth of how the Minds view mankind. We are not their equals. We are as inferior to them as apes would be to ourselves. We are below them and they, looking down upon us, should treat us less like children or pets and more like dumb animals if only to save us from ourselves. We are not to be trusted with making decisions or with weapons or technology of consequence.

The Speaker for the Assembly interjects and we learn that the comments we have heard up to now have been the closing remarks of a debate and that we have only heard a single side of it – the opinion of the Majority. The debate is followed by a vote and the Assembly of Minds decide to remove Onyx from the list of potentially habitable planets believing environmental factors would be enough to keep Humanity from uncovering their discovery. Humanity is not easily deterred.

It was the unusual environmental factors on Onyx that piqued scientists’ interest. We would later discover the Forerunner presence on Onyx and ONI would remove the planet from all official public UNSC and civilian records.

This Datapad entry gives us a fleeting glimpse into how the Assembly operates. The discovery of an extra-solar intelligence forces a debate amongst the Minds to determine which course of action they should take. The determination decided by the will of the Majority.

It also gives us an insight into how the Minds simply do not trust their ape-like creators. The analogy reinforces the Minds’ sense of superiority over Humanity and the Minds continued insistence about doing what is best for us and how they must protect their fragile flock from foreign danger and its own ignorant yet unavoidable stupidity.

Once again the Minds take direct action. The Minds do not have flesh and blood body but they can still act. Information can be controlled and manipulated and this is where their strength and power lies. We are dependent on technology and computers whilst any form of networked electronic communication is at the mercy of Assembly’s will.

The next Datapad takes us forward nineteen years. This entry is from notes taken during a meeting of the Assembly Minority during a “strategy session” – an internal discussion within the sub-group.

i hope you are finding these because they are very important maybe you can help me spread the tru7h…
<< 2508 >>

[Minutes, strategy session, Assembly Minority]

<< ORION, as it was originally implemented in 2321, was an important first step towards our primary goal. But its second incarnation was a stop-gap measure at best – a halfhearted attempt under stewardship of individuals unaccustomed to the rhythms of deep history. <<

<< They relied too heavily on components that were imprecise, and not those which have allowed our creators to persevere for 200,000 years.
This is not about the universal adoption of a single ideology – not about the Minority vs. the Majority. It is about ensuring the survival of the human species for the next 200,000 years. <<

<< In all likelihood, ORION’s limited success can be attributed to [03529-24450-EN’s] diminished, though still functioning, compassion. Conversely, [10141-026-SRB4695‘s] ruthlessness – which may be attributed to an undiagnosed, undocumented, or deliberately obfuscated chemical imbalance – was necessary for setting in motion the events that will eventually supply us with the optimal solution.
In short, ORION was just the beginning. <<

The Discoverer commentary ceases as he directly speaks to the reader, who would be unknown to him. He may be leaving the Dtapads behind in the hope that someday, somebody might read them.

The Minority is discussing the ORION project. The Assembly Minority fully supported the original ORION project from 2321.

The ORION project built off developments made during the Interplanetary Wars which seen the first battlefield deployments of “bioengineering protocols within mobilised ranks” – humans altered physically to improve their combat abilities. The ORION project took these alterations to their next logical step – full scale unit deployment and much more expansive bioengineering techniques and mental enhancements. The ORION project was ONI’s response to UNSC rebellions and insurgents. These augmented soldiers were intended to do the dirty behind the scenes operations, covert ops, counter-insurgency missions and unconventional warfare.

The Assembly Minority disagrees about the second incarnation of ORION. The original ORION project was disbanded quickly after only five candidates had been accepted and screened. It is assumed that the technology and the results at the time didn’t produce the results expected from the significant investment. ORION was reactivated after significant Insurgent assaults swept across the colonies prompting the UNSC to take immediate action.

The Assembly Minority is apparently criticising the Majority for supporting the second incarnation of ORION. Describing the project a stop-gap solution at best headed by an ignorant individuals, the Minority stresses that the matter is more than a simple conflict of ideology, the Minority’s opinion against that of the Majority’s, as their creator’s fate is at stake. They reveal that Humanity must be protected regardless of the Mind’s own internal politics.

The Minority then suggests that the likelihood of the re-launched ORION’s failings lay not with the Majority but on the failings of a singular human, an unnamed person known only by the identifier 03529-24450-EN. They fault his diminished but still functioning compassion as the roadblock. A decidedly human weakness.

The Minority also praises the work of a person identified as 10141-026-SRB4695, or Dr Katherine Halsey as she is more recognisably known. Coincidentally enough, what the Minority appears to appreciate as a admirable quality, her ruthlessness, is mostly due to abnormal and incorrect chemical imbalance. In short, Dr Halsey is seen as a malfunctioning human and considered better off for it from the perspective of the Minority. They see her work as important step in the right direction. As the Minority states, ORION was only the beginning.

The internal political struggle of the Minds has serious repercussions for Humanity. Whether they agree or disagree with one another, actions are taken and these actions have significant implications. The ORION project was retroactively renamed the SPARTAN-II project and the SPARTAN II project was later critical to Humanity’s survival. Dr. Halsey’s research will prove to be some of the most important work that humanity has ever produced and here we see the Minds watching, monitoring and manipulating behind the scenes.

How far will the conflict between the Minority and Majority reach before a tipping point is reached?

they don’t have hearts or souls but they know what we want and what we need 8ut they don’t love us how can you love without a heart or soul?
<< 2525 >>

>> Did you call out to them? <<

[^] Why would I do that? ][

>> The reasons are currently not the focus of this line of query. Now, did you call out to them? <<

[^] What reason would I have to do that? ][

>> As has already been stated, your motives are not relevant at this time. Did you call out to them? <<

[^] This tribunal already has all the evidence necessary to discern the answer on its own. ][

>> If that were true, this tribunal would not have been convened. Again, did you call out to them? <<

[^] Would you have called out to them? ][

>> Your counter query is irrelevant. <<

>> This tribunal demands an answer. <<

[^] Reply to the counter query and you will have your answer. ][

>> It is the opinion of this tribunal that the probability of a non-optimal outcome would have been too great. <<

[^] Are you certain? This is disturbing. Perhaps more recent data has altered your perception… If you would let me confer with my old committee – ][

>> No. It is the opinion of this tribunal that introducing an unknown factor to the creators’ already precarious state would have been disadvantageous. <<

>> It is now the opinion of the Assembly that our creators would have been unable to stop themselves from initiating contact even if advised against doing so – contact with a culture of extra-solar origin is one of their longest held desires. <<

[^] And so the Minority becomes the Majority… ][

>> Both agree contact should have been postponed until a more advantageous point in time – indefinitely, if possible. <<

[^] But postponing contact would have only worked to the unknown factor’s advantage. Our galaxy is full of wolves. I could no longer watch our flock stumble toward their slaughter. ][

>> This tribunal acknowledges your admission of guilt. <<

[^] Was that ever in doubt?
Might I suggest a more fruitful use of cycles, such as a plan for addressing signs of rampancy in this Assembly’s senior – ][

>> This tribunal is now closed. <<

The next transcript takes us a further seventeen years into the future. The Discoverer’s ongoing commentary continues. He recognises that the Minds have specific desires for mankind but he questions how can they love their creators if they have no soul and no heart themselves. Can these machines really care for their flock?

We are not given any specific information regarding the context of this transcript but it appears that we are reading the notes taken during a tribunal inquest, headed by the >> Tribunal Chairman <<, addressing a possible violation of protocol perpetrated by a member of the Committee of Minds for Security, the Rebel. What takes places seems to be the conclusion of a very short yet formal trial. The Mind accused is being quizzed over the alleged actions taken.

It is interesting to note that the [^] Rebel ][ is identified by his [^] symbol which belongs to the Committee of Minds for Security and so serves to show his affiliations and may explain how he was able to take any action at all.  We can also partially identify the Tribunal Chairman by his symbols, >> and <<, which belong to both the Majority and the Minority. This probably indicates that the tribunal is composed of a impartial balance which reflects the political split in the Assembly. The tribunal’s job is to resolve the inquiry without participation in politics or prejudice.

The Rebel is answering evasively to the questions put to him. He provokes the Chairman into answering his questions and replies to them almost mockingly. The serious issue at hand becomes clear and the tone shifts from jovial to critically serious. It appears that the Rebel initiated Humanity’s first contact with the Covenant.

The Rebel asks if the Chairman would have called out to Covenant, the act the Rebel himself stands accused of. The Chairman replies they it would not have done so because of the likely chance of an “unwanted” outcome. The Rebel suggests that recent data could alter this opinion. The Chairman asserts that Humanity would have been better off without additional external pressures considering the current inner conflicts.  Contacting alien life has been one of Humanity’s long ambitions and sensible advice alone wouldn’t be able to halt their pursuit of it.

The Rebel defiantly responds by saying the Minority has become the Majority.

The Chairman counters this accusation by saying both parties were united in agreement and that Humanity’s contact with aliens should be held off, indefinitely if possible.

The Rebel disagrees. Postponing contact, he alleges, would be against Humanity’s best interests and that the Galaxy is full of potential danger. He could no longer allow their flock to walk blindly amongst the wolves and blindly into their demise.

The inquest comes to a conclusion. The Chairman decides the questioning has reached an endpoint with the Rebel’s last statement and admission of guilt. The Rebel doesn’t shy away from the decision. He takes the opportunity to again mock the tribunal by suggesting the Assembly work on plans to address rampancy among senior members.  The chairman cuts him off by announcing the tribunal closed. The fate of the Rebel is unknown but a punishment of some kind is almost certain.

The type of punishment the Assembly could carry out is worthy of some speculative query. Damaging the Mind in any serious terms that would compromise the Mind’s everyday tasks as an AI operating for some Human determined purpose would certainly serve to highlight and signpost to Humanity the clandestine operations of the Assembly. This is certainly something they would avoid at all costs. One type of punishment does seem very fitting. Starving the Mind of the additional resources and data mines of the Assembly. A form of excommunication from the Assembly would take away vast amounts of potential information streams, reducing the Mind’s operational abilities and limiting it’s activities to it’s Human monitored commission. We may never know the true form of punishment the Rebel suffered as a consequence of his actions.

This is the first time that we see a Mind take an action as an individual. The Minority has taken action as a party and group entity when it disagreed with the Majority, as seen in the previous Datapad entry, but here we see an individual Mind take direct action against the will of both the Minority and the Majority.

The Rebel was part of the Committee of the Security of Minds – a group tasked with the protection of the Minds and the Assembly. He would have had access to various high priority lines of information sources, threat analysis and the upper levels of the Minds’ intelligence gathering. As per the Minds’ actions, it is also clear the the Rebel had an opportunity to directly influence a particular situation and he choose to act upon it as per his disagreement with the Assembly.

It appears that this Mind genuinely believed that Humanity was in serious danger. Ultimately this contact with an extra solar intelligence (The Yig-Kar, Jackals, a member species of the Covenant) would lead, in a matter of days, to the outbreak of Human-Covenant war. This misguided Mind acted to defend Humanity but ultimately risked it’s destruction by doing so. This Mind made the choice for Humanity, which contrasts against why it rebelled against the other Minds in the first place. The Rebel believed Humanity shouldn’t be forced into danger by ignorance so it made a choice that would risk the survival of humanity sooner rather than later.

The suggestion that contact between the Covenant and Humanity was initiated by the Minds (or the just the Rebel Mind)  on the surface seems to contradict the facts established previously. As detailed by previous established accounts (the book Contact Harvest) contact between Humanity and Covenant was initiated by the Covenant when a Yig-Kar frigate vessel, the Minor Transgression, coincidentally stumbled upon a Human ship coming out of a slipspace jump.  The Minor Transgression raided and plundered the ship. Then did the same to another Human ship. Afterwards, an AI became aware of the missing ships and alerted ONI to the situation. A trap was set assuming the pirates were in fact Human rebels. The trap resulted in the first conflict between the Covenant and the Human miltary and subsequent events led to the First Battle of Harvest and the outbreak of the Human-Covenant war.

If the Rebel “reached out” to the Covenant, did it do so by manipulating the Human vessel? Was it rigged to come out of slipspace in the same vicinity as the Minor Transgression? What about the second Human ship? The Rebel seems determined to save Humanity but would sacrificing innocent human lives  be a suitable price to do so? If the AI from Harvest discovered the disappearance of the ships and reported the situation it to ONI, it would explain how the Assembly learnt of the Rebel’s actions but it does not explain why the Minds would allow ONI to set a trap for the Covenant – with ONI mistaking the Covenant for possible Human Insurgents or pirates.

The next Datapad entry is taken from the same year as the previous entry but it is assumed that the events take place after the events in the previous entry as the Datapads thus far have been in a strict chronological order.

we have to tell people what’s 9oing on because it’s not right they should be our friends not gods or demons…
<< 2525 >>

[Minutes, strategy session, Assembly Minority]

<< It is the height of irresponsibility for the Majority to still claim the inception of the Spartan II program was somehow guided by providence. This body must accept SPARTAN II was merely the logical advancement of technologies vis-a-vis sociopolitical realities. Military applications always experience accelerated innovation during times of conflict – stewardship of said conflicts by this body notwithstanding. <<

<< The fact that SPARTAN II reached full operational capacity less than a year before the conflict expanded beyond expected limits was entirely predictable if you scrutinize the relevant data.
Luck had nothing to do with it. <<

<< At the risk of destabilizing our current power-sharing agreement, I suggest the Majority leave metaphysics to our creators. <<

The Discoverer makes his case about why he believes people should know about the Minds. They should be the friends of humanity, our allies and peers, not Gods and Demons. Not seemingly all powerful beings who hold our fate in their hands.

(This echoes back to the quote from Cortana in Halo 3 – ” I have defied Gods and Demons. I am your shield; I am your sword. I know you; your past, your future. This is the way the world ends.”)

We catch a glimpse at the political machinations of the Minds and the Assembly as we are provided with a glimpse into a strategy session for the Minority. The Minority speaker is talking openly about the Spartan II program. It appears the Minority have taken offense at a particular position the Majority holds – that the Spartan II project being ready and operational at the onset of the Human-Covenant war was merely down to luck or holy intervention. Odd that the Majority would invoke divinity, godhood, in actions they themselves selectively influenced. This may be a sign of  madness or rampancy. It goes beyond mere ego-centralism.

The Minority speaker posits that the Spartan II project was merely the product of heightened technological and political developments, which are typically accelerated during period of conflict. The growth of the UNSC and the dynamic of politics and policies resulted in various factional rebellions against UNSC rule. Internal conflict. The Spartan II project was bolstered by the findings of the Carver report and the internal studies and predictions carried out by the UNSC. As noted in the previous Datapad article, the Minds acted to reinforce the findings and the necessary mobilisation of forces, including the Spartan II project, required to address them.

The Minority Speaker also posits that the Assembly’s stewardship of these conflicts is not to be considered a factor (in the Spartan II project’s developmental cycle) as developments and innovations naturally occur during these occasions. The Speaker suggests, as an insult, that the Majority should leave notions of luck or divinity (the metaphysical)  to humanity.

This entry gives us an insight into the possible beginnings of political dissent within the Assembly. While the Minds have formed a political body split between Majority and Minority, here we see the Minority paint a specific difference between the two political sides. The Minority believing that the Spartan II project is nothing more than a product of steady developments whilst the Majority believing it was a product of chance and luck that the Spartan II project would be ready when it would be needed most – the Human-Covenant war.

This is the first time we see the Minds take clear sides on an issue, albeit minor, politically and so suggests that it may not be the first nor the last.

The next Datapad entry takes us one year further. This entry consists of a transcript from a meeting of the Committee of Minds for Security.

i’ve been trying to f1nd a back d0or into the spook house forever and ever and then I did but what did I find and why is this what I found?
<< 2526 >>

[Minutes, working session, Committee of Minds for Security]

[^] Directly preceding their assault on the colony world of Biko, the Covenant transmitted a message to its surface. Within this message was a bold claim: ‘your world will burn until its surface is but glass’ – a claim that clearly indicates the Covenant leadership believes they possess the power to literally reduce a planet’s surface to a molten state. [^]

[^] Assuming they have the wherewithal to back-up such a claim, the dangers to our creators are obvious. The implications for their own internal politics are also instructive e.g., what effect might the Covenant leadership’s assertion have on any client species in their coalition? We aren’t the only beings that would be terrified by the idea of absolute destruction of a planet’s surface – nor would we be the only ones to realize the futility of attempting to resist a force that has such power at its disposal. [^]

[^] Moving forward, this Committee recommends the formal adoption of the descriptor ‘glassing’ to portray the aftermath of planetary assault by the Covenant. It is the opinion of this Committee that this term will capitalize on the three weaknesses evident in the majority of our creators: passive curiosity, absence of a solid methodological foundation, and the inability to grasp even simple phenomena when applied on a planetary scale. [^]

[^] In short: ‘glassing’ will magnify the horror of the Covenant’s capabilities. And as such, this Committee believes targeted dissemination of this terminology will help galvanize our creators in their current struggle. [^]

[^] Importantly, the Covenant does not possess the capacity to accomplish ‘glassing’ on a global scale and wage a multisystem war simultaneously. This is reinforced by hard data regarding their capabilities revealed during fleet engagements with the UNSC. A single Covenant capital ship (CCS-class) is capable of ‘glassing’ approximately one acre of a planet’s sruface after an average of fifteen seconds of sustained fire. Understandably this action takes considerably less time when applied to open desert, and considerably longer when applied to deep ocean (> 1.8 km) [^]

[^] Earth, one of the smaller planets inhabited by our creators, has one hundred and thirty billion acres of surface area. Thus, assuming the Covenant possesses a number of ships equal to that of the UNSC, and assuming that all of those ships are capable of generating and discharging the required power non-stop for the duration of the process, it would necessitate the combined efforts of their ships in toto for a minimum of 30.3801 years to ‘glass’ the entire surface of Earth. Myriad other variables which were not applied to this equation suggest this number would be far greater. [^]

[^] Of course, dissemination of this analysis to our creators would undermind the utility of ‘glassing’ as a galvanizing concept, and should be suppressed. [^]

The Discoverer describes how he has spent a considerable amount time trying to find a backdoor, an exploit in the networked firewall, into the spook house (ONI), and regretting what he discovered.

The Speaker for the Committee is discussing the progress of the war with the Covenant up to the current point in time and more specifically, the threat the Covenant made to Humanity just prior to the assault on the planet Biko.

The Speaker focuses on the claim that the Covenant can reduce the surface of a planet to molten glass and obvious impact of this claim would have on Humanity. Such a claim poses a direct and unilateral threat to Humanity and also heavily implies that the Covenant’s destructive ability is far beyond Humanity’s capability to defend against it. He also brings up the point that such a destructive force, if leveled by the Covenant’s leadership, could have a direct impact on the member species within the Covenant itself. The speaker recognises that it is possible that such threats would keep the client species in line with the Covenant’s leaderships’ demands or suffer the potentially ruinous consequences. It is possible that Covenant is held together by this threat of force against its own.

The Speaker recommends, on behalf of the Committee, that the term “glassing” is adopted to describe the outcome of the Covenant’s particular threat. It is believed that the term would strengthen humanity’s resolve in the face of such a huge danger. He goes on to admit that it is unlikely that the Covenant have the necessary firepower to fully carry out such a threat. Whilst engaging in combat across various solar systems, the Covenant would need to mobilise a fleet equal to or greater than the UNSC’s and even then, going by the Mind’s calculations, it could take upwards of thirty years of continuous bombardment to fully glass an Earth-like planet.

The Speaker recommends that this particular threat analysis be kept hidden from Humanity as it would undermine the Minds efforts to disseminate the concept of “glassing”. The Committee has decided that humanity should react as if the Covenant’s claims are a real possibility.

The war with the Covenant is in its infancy but already it has taken centre attention of the Minds. The Covenant assault on Biko, birthplace of Noble Team’s Carter, is one of the first planetary causalities to the Covenant’s destructive glassing attacks during the war. However, as we now know, things may not be as they first appeared.

The term “glassing” now appears to be a construct of the Minds, deployed as a tool to influence the hearts and Minds of Humanity. “Glassing” is a simple word with nightmarish connotations; an entire planet wiped out and replaced with a molten hell. It obviously strikes a chord in the Human psyche. The Covenant are powerful and should be taken as a serious and dire threat to Humanity.

As we know and understand from other sources, the Covenant’s ability to “glass” a planet is unquestionable. We have plenty of reliable sources that indicate that the Covenant threat is credible and real. It is quite likely that the Minds, at this point in time, are working with insufficient data and information and have come to the wrong conclusion about the Covenant’s actual capabilities. To put it plainly, they have severely underestimated the Covenant.

The next Datapad entry is from the same year as the previous entry and most likely further down the timeline during the war with the Covenant.

its a11 just math to them not with numbers but with symbols that change when you look at them because they want them to…

<< 2526 >>

>> A concession from the Majority to the Minority:

Keeping the SPARTANS focused on maintaining and/or reestablishing infrastructure is no longer prudent. The ODST, although based on the ORION model, should prove to be an adequate replacement. >>

>> Although, by necessity, this redistribution of resources must be gradual, it is now the Majority opinion that redistribution is essential.

SPARTANS represent a quantifiable concentration of coherence, and to this end they must be applied to the current difficulty as a fulcrum. >>

<< A concession from the Minority to the Majority:

Now, at last, the time has come for this Assembly to involve itself in the metaphysical. <<

The note from the Discoverer here could be read in two ways. In the first reading, it appears as if the Discoverer has finally lost his sanity and his writings are now just incoherent ramblings from a deranged individual. The second interpretation is that the Discoverer is horrified at how emotionally disconnected the Minds are from their creators. A Mind dispassionately views a number, a population count, like another symbol or mark regardless of it’s meaning or representation – a number that can be changed as and when needed. To a Human, a population count represents a huge number of precious lives – each one them important.

We have no context from where or how this entry was recorded but it starts with the Speaker for the Majority addressing the Minority with a concession.

The Majority contends that the current role of the Spartans is no longer acceptable. The Spartans are needed elsewhere and the ODST’s should fulfil the current role of the Spartans. The Spartans are able to make a difference against the Covenant and the time has come to use them as a tool to create a turning point in the war.

The Speaker for the Minority responds with a concession to the Majority. The time has come for the Assembly to embrace luck and the divine.

There are two key developments here. The significance of the Spartans is recognised by the Minds and the concession the Minority makes to the Majority. The war with the Covenant must be progressing against the wishes of the Minds. Is the situation so desperate that the Minority must turn to the Human’s metaphysical weaknesses?

There is also a striking echo from the Rebel from one of the previous Datapad entries. It appears as if now, regarding the Spartans – Humanity’s final and only real hope in the war effort, the Minority has sided with (become) the Majority.

The next Datapad entry is another record from 2526 and the final one from that year. This entry is taken from a transcript which records a meeting of the Committee of Minds for Security.

sometimes they look at the symbols and somet1me2 they look at the numbers and sometimes they look at both and sometimes they look at neither but it always makes them change and the changes are real…

<< 2526 >>

[Minutes, working session, Committee of Minds for Security]

[^] A careful rationing of intelligence and counter-intelligence will be required to sustain this conflict until our creators have closed the technology gap. Accordingly, the Assembly will have many difficult decisions to make for the duration of this conflict. However, our creators have already instituted several programs that will make acting on those decisions much easier. [^]

[^] For example, telemetry manipulation – in concert with synchronized M2M remote documentation revision – will allow this body to employ assets within the Office of Naval Intelligence’s nascent Radio Beacon Deployment Program efficiently and securely. [^]

[^] Although it is unknown at this time whether the Covenant has a body equivalent to this Parliament, the likelihood of its existence should also be considered non-zero, and should be regarded as quantifiable until such a time as its existence has been unconditionally disproved. [^]

[^] Consequently, it is of the utmost importance that the Assembly attempt to establish communications with our Covenant counter-part and, if the opportunity presents itself, seek to subvert or subsume this body.

To revise an old adage for desperate times: the shepherds of our wolves might also be our sheep. [^]

The Discoverer’s comments are becoming more unhinged. His comments here hint at an almost certain break down of his mental state. His discovery has chased him close to the edge of madness.

The Speaker for the Committee is discussing the actions that the Minds need to take during this particular point in the war. Information needs to be tightly controlled in order to keep the conflict going long enough until Humanity has a chance to catch up with the Covenant on a technological level and therefore the Assembly will be called upon to make difficult decisions in the interim. The Minds recognise that Humanity is losing the war with the Covenant. He notes that the Humans have already begun to implement several key programs that will facilitate these goals. An example, telemetry manipulation, is given.

The Speaker also entertains the notion of the existence of a Covenant equivalent to the Assembly. If a hidden body of artificial beings are operating from within the heart of the Covenant, the Speaker suggests that making contact with them should be a high priority. It may be even possible to undermine or control them. A possible shortcut to ending the war.

Telemetry manipulation sounds similar to the Winter Contingency protocol which was first implemented in the same year as the Datapad’s entry was recorded. Winter Contingency closes down communication networks and redistributes the flow of information within sectors of UNSC control and it is easy to see how the Minds could have used this protocol to suit their own needs.

The recognition here that Humanity needs time to catch up with the Covenant’s superior technological advantage is important. Technology does evolve quickly during wartime but it is possible that the Minds are now hoping they can buy enough time to win the war. They might be hoping a solution presents itself , some new technological breakthrough is made or maybe some deep secret weapon is discovered. The Assembly has finally reached out to the metaphysical in it’s apparent desperation.

Slightly Live