Contact Harvest / Part I

8

January 31, 2012 by DayandKnightly

OFFICE OF NAVAL INTELLIGENCE/SECTION 1

DUE DILIGENCE REPORT – H931106

1730 HOURS, JANUARY 31, 2012

CLASSIFIED U//FOUO

COMM-SCRIBED/PTS 7441-7

>> 00281-11224-KC // LT CONRAD, KEVIN GEORGE

<< 00705-00625-LB // RDML BOYTHORN, LAWRENCE KIRKLAND

RE: OPERATION: EXPANDED CONTEXT

ATTACHED: [Initial RE]

STATUS: Contact Harvest / Joseph Staten / Part I (pg. 9-140)

Sir,

Below is the first of many; as always, thank you for your support.

> > > > > > >WARNING< < < < < < <

> > > > > > >PLOT DETAILS REVEALED< >PROCEED WITH CAUTION < < < < < < <

Prologue

June 16, 2524 / UNSC Colony World Tribute, Epsilon Eridanus System

>…QUOTE:

But he also knew these were the kinds of things a smart Marine didn’t do without a direct order. (pg 13)

Johnson knew that if he was going to move forward, he had to get the okay from higher up. It’s this hesitation that makes a soldier more than just a pawn, yet Avery is haunted by the hesitation he would make only a few pages later at the end of the Prologue.

>…INTEL: Per ONI orders, UNSC personnel executed captured Insurrectionists. If you would have told me that this went on in a face-to-face discussion, I would have simply nodded and said it didn’t surprise me. However, as I read it I was surprised that I was surprised it went on, if that makes sense.

>…Having a family, the diner scene was much more tragic (and therefore more powerful). I didn’t see that coming.

>…Tribute and Reach are both in the same system,  Epsilon Eridani. When playing the games I tend to think of these locations as being far away from each other, but as I read the books I believe I’ll see just how close different flash points really are to each other.

Chapter One

September 3, 2524 / a UNSC shipping lane near Epsilon Indi System

>…INTEL: Humanity’s first contact with the Covenant was because of a “lack of maintenance” on the Horn of Plenty, one that both AIs – Madrigal’s shipping-operations and Harvest’s Sif, had failed to notice.

>…First contacts in science fiction seem to almost always be the result of some mundane detail or small mistake, only brought to the height of epic fate because of the circumstances that occur after. But how much could that be said of the moments of life in general? Rarely do we get the chance to know we’re in a big moment – it’s usually after the fact we realize …

Chapter Two

August 10, 2524 / Greater Chicago Industrial Zone, Earth

>…INTEL: Some background on Sergeant Major Avery Junior Johnson, and this was the beginning of the character opening up for me. I’ve always seen him as a pretty flat surface, barking out orders like your standard military cliché – but the scene with his Aunt and the history there helped to bring out some more depth. I’ve found that this, along with getting to know him better in subsequent chapters, has improved my view of him.

Chapter Three

23rd Age of Doubt / Covenant Missionary Allotment, near Epsilon Indi System

>…INTEL: So far in the book, I found myself identifying with the Unggoy Deacon Dadab the most; a lowly Grunt who’s just trying to get ahead and is annoyed by his coworkers. There’s only so much available to him, and he’s doing the best he can with what he has. We’ve all been there, right?

>…This was a different side to Grunts than I had ever seen before, and while playing a game of Firefight last night I felt I knew them better. (Of course the Unggoy I ran into didn’t seem to notice my new-found respect.)

>…The relationship between Dadab and Lighter Than Some – how they related and communicated to each other, and how the Deacon was the only one who could communicate with him was interesting and entertaining.

The goal of eradicating humanity aside, the Covenant did bring cultures together.

>…The naming of the Huragok (a description of how they float upon creation) was new data.

Chapter Four

December 21, 2524 / UNSC Colony World Harvest / Epsilon Indi

>…QUOTE:

The rebels were understandably sick of being told how to run their lives – what jobs to take, how many children to make – by CA bureaucrats (pg. 61)

These were part of the policies the Insurrectionists rebel against.

This quote brings up a question: were these polices enforced on the core worlds as well? The vibe from the quote seems to imply they were not; that the reason the rebels were such was because they were “being told how to run their lives.”

If that’s the case, were these policies based on the outer colonies only being seen as resource farms? I would think so. If a planet (or its population) is seen only as a commodity, then the policies would be framed not as restrictive but efficient.

>…INTEL: No aging during cryogenic sleep; when Avery muses that he’s spent “half his life asleep” since joining the UNSC (due to all the slipspace travel) I wonder how close he is to the mark.

Traveling to destinations and not being a part of the journey? I don’t know if I would ever get used to that. Whether it’s an event (like an upcoming birthday where you travel through time to reach it) or a destination (where you travel a certain space to get there), having the journey take place without you would be disorienting to say the least.

It would be odd to have to be essentially told that you’ve traveled somewhere. The only thing you have to confirm you’re at a new location is your setting, and you would have no experience/memory of arriving at it. Whether by your own senses or someone else informing you, you need to find out about the event of your moving after it’s taken place.

The fact that you’re in a different location from where you started has now become more subjective with this kind of travel.

>…Per pg. 62, Epsilon Eridanus is the most populous and carefully administered system outside of Sol.

>…QUOTE:

“I imagine the Eridanus embargo is all-consuming,” Sif said, making sure to widen her avatar’s eyes sympathetically. (pg. 69)

It’s amazing to me how much our inner thoughts are on display in our body language, and equally amazing how they can be learned and imitated to great effect. How much of Sif’s processing power is used so she can “think” about each action that we naturally do involuntarily?

>…QUOTE:

The woman was smarter than most DCS employees she  [Sif] dealt with. (pg 71)

Lades and gentlemen, Ms Jilan al-Cygni.

Chapter Five

December 21, 2524 / UNSC Colony World Harvest / Epsilon Indi (same as Chap. 4)

>…INTEL: The fight scene between Avery and Staff Sargent Nolan Byrne was intense. I guess could have seen it coming if I thought it through, but I think violence is surprising. Not for happening, but for always being more violent than you think it is.

>…Since the holidays are only recently over, I found myself looking at the date and wondering if Christmas is still celebrated in the year 2524.

Chapter Six

Not given / Covenant Missionary ship Minor Transgression / Epsilon Indi

>…INTEL: Two paragraphs on pg. 93 detailing how the Kig-Yar came to be members of the Covenant. I was aware of their privateer history, but not to this extent. While this book shows the Covenant at their most powerful, it also shows the seeds of disunion as well – not all the King-Yar are happy to be a part of the Great Journey, and Chur’R-Yar (the female captain of the Minor Transgression) is a prime example.

>…QUOTE:

Dadab wondered if the crewmen, like him, realized they were doomed. (pg 98)

This was the Unggoy’s stark assessment before entering This End Up, a human civilian freighter.

>…INTEL: The first human killed in what would become the Covenant War was by a Huragok, ironic due to their distaste for violence. Also of note was that it was an act to save a friend.

>…Since Joseph Staten did the dialogue for the Grunts through the Halo games, I pictured him saying Dadab’s lines as he tried to flee from Henry Gibson (“Have mercy!”, etc.)

>…Jilan al-Cygni expected more ships to be lost when Sif informed her what happened to This End Up. Her intuition here foreshadowed who she turned out to be in the next chapter, something I didn’t catch the first time around.

Chapter Seven

January 16, 2525 / Harvest

>…INTEL: On page 106, we meet Private First Class Wallace A. Jenkins – the man in whose helmet we would eventually re-live the horror of the Flood outbreak on Installation 04.

>…Johnson and Captain Pondor had time to connect during the Warthog drive to the Solstice Celebration at Utgard, the capitol city of Harvest. They shared war stories, got to know each other better, to the point that “Avery realized he not only trusted but had a great deal more respect for the man who wore his CO’s uniform.” (pg. 114).

I appreciate moments like this in the Halo story because it gives characters a chance to breathe. Often in the games there’s only time for a slick one-liner before you have to rush off to the next plot point and save the world. Not a bad thing in and of itself – it’s a game and it needs to keep moving – and the strong relationships between the characters are still hinted at.

But for two men to talk about their families, to get that kind of context and gravity behind a character – it does nothing but good for the story.

Besides that, it strengthens my theory that the cab of a Warthog just makes it easier to open up.

>…The coolness Sif has towards Mack is explained in this chapter, and we see that even AI’s find it hard to let go of the past, core logic or not.

>…QUOTE:

As of now, I am your commanding officer. (123)

The reveal! DCS (Department of Commercial Shipping) officer Jilan al-Cygni is really Lieutenant Commander Jilan al-Cygni of ONI Section III.

She called the OP. She’s the reason Johnson, Bryne and Pondor are on Harvest. They’re there to stop the Innies, but we know they have a bigger foe ahead …

This was a twist for me – I thought Petty Officer First Class Healy was the spook. His character was still there after a few chapters, what was the purpose? He was a little too “aw, shucks” for me and I thought it was an act.

Meanwhile, Ms. Al-Cygni could have assassinated me in broad daylight and I wouldn’t have seen it coming.

Chapter Eight

Not given / Minor Transgression, reliquary orbital path (presumably of Harvest)

>…QUOTE:

“Ma’am, we’ve got hostiles in the hold,” Avery whispered into his helmet mic.

“Take them out.” Al-Cygni’s reply was curt. Avery was supposed to maintain radio silence.

“They aren’t Innies.”

“Clarify.”

Avery took a deep breath. “They’re aliens.”

Taken from page 128, we have the first positive identification of a possibly hostile force not related to the Insurrection. We almost take that deep breath with Johnson as he holds his battle rife close, as ready as he can be for whatever comes next.

What was going through Al-Cygni’s mind when she heard this news? I believe I’ve heard somewhere that ONI knew about the Covenant before this; is that true?

> > > > > > >PART I CONCLUDED< < < < < < <

I’ll have Part II for you next week.

[All images (and much knowledge!) courtesy of Halopedia unless otherwise noted]

[Thank you]

-KGC

[Part II and Part III]

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8 thoughts on “Contact Harvest / Part I

  1. xExOp90x says:

    I have to say this was great! I loved reading the whole thing. Can’t wait for part 2.

    • hillgift says:

      Thanks, I really appreciate it! My goal is to get out a section once a week.

      I can read like the wind, but actually slowing down to take notes and focus on more than just plot is the hard part :-)

  2. Josh D. says:

    Nicely done; I myself started reading the books this year, albeit in release order. I’m just into Cryptum.

    Good insights into characters here – I felt a bit of what I think you’re feeling, which is the outer shell of some seemingly simple characters being peeled back to reveal some great depth. Particularly Johnson. The generic name and in-game demeanor are incredibly misleading.

    • hillgift says:

      Josh,
      Thanks for the comment, and I’m glad you’re reading through as well! I think it will be a great build up to Halo 4.

      I think you’re right on with characterization; the scenes/lines Johnson gets in the games put him squarely in the “tough-as-nails-Marine-who-only-speaks-in-one-liners” category, so I didn’t really care about him that much as a character. I didn’t see him as a character, I just saw him filling a role (the tough-as-nails role I mentioned earlier).

      But to see him in different situations involving family, trust, doubt – these things made him real to me and now I’m rooting for him the whole way.

  3. Ben says:

    Absolutely fantastic, mi amigo! Your thought processes are not entirely different to mine, although I can at times, find myself completely absorbed in the fiction :) I enjoyed your analysis and I look forward to further updates!

    ~Ben.

    • Ben,
      Appreciate the comment – as far as being absorbed, you’re talking to the guy who can browse Halopedian.com for hours.

      My plan is to have a section out each week, so that will be coming soon!

  4. The Woaf says:

    I think I’m going to enjoy taking this journey with you! I’ve recently re-read all of Nylunds/Dietzes books in preparation for Glasslands. I promised my self the next thing i read would have NOTHING to do with Halo!

    Then after reading the first section of this post I found my copy of Contact Harvest in my hand reading about Staff Seargent Avery Johnson’s fight against the insurrection! Can’t wait to read the next part!

    • Woaf,
      I’m glad to have you along for the ride. Don’t except any earth-(or Harvest)-shattering insights, but I do enjoy getting down some of the things that stick out to me in the book.

      I love to read, but it seems like 99% just flies out of my head about ten minutes after I read it! I’m hoping this makes something stick … or at least stay in there longer.

      I’m working on the next part right now, and will have it up in the next day or two. Thanks so much for checking this out!

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