UNITED NATIONS SPACE COMMAND DEFENCE FORCE PRIORITY TRANSMISSION 8993784757-ALEPH ONE
FROM: Lieutenant Commander Michael Pomare
TO: Vice Admiral Michael Aurelius (Forwarded to Lieutenant Commander A. J. Lewis for analysis)
DATE: April 07, 2551 [Military Calendar] [Forwarded on June 23, 2551]
SUBJECT: PROJECT: NOVA
CLASSIFICATION: CONFIDENTIAL [BGX DIRECTIVE], Originator Controlled Dissemination [ORCON]
I looked over Lieutenant Commander Lewis’ mission brief of PROJECT: NOVA’s mission target and I almost laughed with him. Even a three-year-old could have told the R&D technicians it wouldn’t be as simple as they thought. And it has nothing to do with moving planetoids.
The Covenant’s internal composition of extreme variety would lead me to suggest that their politics are based around distrust. Grunts hate Jackals with a passion, and the feeling is reciprocated between the Elites and, apparently, the species you refer to as Brutes. PROJECT: TEMERITY has deciphered communiqués from Elite officials expressing concern and distrust towards the Brutes, and the favouritism shown to them by the Prophets. The Grunt-Jackal conflicts seem to have played a significant part in Covenant history, but it is nothing compared to what could happen if open conflict erupted between the Brutes and the Elites.
So far, the Brutes have shown a capacity for tactical brilliance and skill that matches the Elites very closely, though they focus even more on (no pun intended) brute strength, if it’s possible. The Elites aren’t exactly known for micro-managing, but they show more restraint and discipline than the Brutes. Likewise, the Brutes show an aggression unmatched by the Elites, but which is offset by inexperience in warfare. The Elites have apparently kept them in their place for a while.
This in itself suggests that the Covenant would have prepared for internal dissent, and especially for orbital engagements. The preliminary of [Cloistering Expectancy], for example, shows a network of particle beam weapons that puts Earth’s Orbital Defence Grid to shame, capable of vaporising anything larger than a corvette. Beyond it, fighter and bomber patrols worked in tandem, easily able to knock any invading craft out of the sky before it even got close to the planet. There have been suggestions of launching it from slipspace, where the launcher can remain safe. The warheads would emit copious amounts of Cerenkov radiation, and would be intercepted. If a ship could get past the fighter/bomber patrols, they would have the orbital defence grid to deal with. And if they got past that, they would be unable to escape the blast radius of the NOVA. No pilot would volunteer for a suicide mission, and no unmanned drone could reach that point.
And if the standards at [Cloistering Expectancy] are standard defences for colonies, then attempting to drop a NOVA on the Covenant capital city will be virtually impossible. The initial data Lewis forwarded to me looked promising, but when an Oberon scout drone arrived all it detected was trace amounts of ionized hydrogen fluoride and slightly higher-than-normal levels of background radiation, around an uninhabitable gas giant. It’s evident that the Covenant has managed to mount slipstream navigation equipment to their capital planet, a measure of paranoia that shows just how difficult using the NOVA in an offensive role would be. I therefore have to concur with Lewis’ suggestion that NOVA should be used in a defensive capacity instead.
Yes, I know the two factors seem to rule each other out. But there are ways in which the NOVA would be able to do a lot of damage to the Covenant, and would slow them down, providing enough time to formulate other, better ways to combat our nemesis.
The recent engagement in Delta Pavonis displays one method. Fourteen of the outdated FENRIS warheads were detonated in the orbital rings of Delta Pavonis b, accelerating tens of thousands of tonnes worth of debris at a Covenant fleet, battering their shields and puncturing the hull, allowing a UNSC fleet an easy victory. Imagine a single NOVA planted in a star system’s Oort Cloud, and the destruction that would ensue against a nearby Covenant force.
Or if, as is the case of Coral, the planet is occupied but not glassed by the Covenant: not only would the Covenant forces present be completely obliterated, but the planet itself would be destroyed, denying its contents the Covenant. We are fighting for survival, Admiral. Recapture of occupied colonies is absolutely out of the question for now, and should be taken out of the equation completely.
LT CMDR Lewis suggests that humanity needs a victory to boost morale, and I agree. But he and I differ, I think, on the means to achieving that end. He has suggested mounting a massive invasion of a Covenant world. That is doomed to failure, and would only result in the wastage of hundreds of ships and millions of personnel. What I suggest, Admiral is that we lure the Covenant to us. And then we nuke the hell out of them with NOVA.
I discussed this briefly, and LT CMDR Lewis seemed intrigued. Perhaps he could suggest a staging ground for the Operation? There are other factors that must be taken into consideration that depend upon his choice – logistics, orbital formations, ground defences and emplacements, etc- and I wouldn’t feel comfortable beginning those plans without a suitable site in mind. Once he has one, if you could kindly relay his choice to me via the UNSC Courier Ship Why So Serious? I would be much obliged.
Lieutenant Commander Michael Pomare (Office of Naval Intelligence, Section Three, Naval Special Warfare, PROJECT: TEMERITY lead analyst)