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Project TEMERITY

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UNSC WARNING: This document, Project TEMERITY, is property of the UNSC and is Classified [NOVEMBER BLACK], protected under Office of Naval Intelligence Security Protocol 1A. Disclosure of its contents to, or access or alteration by, personnel with a clearance level lower than GAMMA THREE is an offense punishable by court(s) martial and imprisonment or execution for treasonous acts. Failure to disclose confirmed or suspected breaches of security will be treated as complicity, and is punishable by dishonourable discharge and/or imprisonment.
Lieutenant Commander Michael Pomare, Office of Naval Intelligence, UNSCDF Navy
ONI Seal 1


The technological gap has always been a more of a gaping chasm, and a number of projects were set up by the UNSC to remedy this. Of these, TEMERITY is the longest and most expansive, recovering salvagable field assets, studying and reverse engineering this technology, and working to expand the UNSC's knowledge of their enemy. Set up in 2490, TEMERITY would produce weapons, equipment, and other technology to close the gap, ranging from innovations in directed energy weapons and energy shield technology to incorporation of Covenant-derived technology into off-the-shelf technology.

History

For a program that would produce such spectacular results, TEMERITY began with humble beginnings in 2490. Initially, members of the scientific community had attracted the attention of ONI regarding potential evidence of extraterrestrial inhabitation of a number of UNSC colonies. The military, however, hoped that advanced technologies could be discovered and reverse engineered for the benefit of the UNSC, especially as the Insurrection began to flare up in dozens of star systems, threatening the stability that humanity had enjoyed for centuries.

Although potentially artificial geological and geographical features had been discovered on a half dozen human-occupied worlds, it was the ruins on Onyx in 2511 that would jump-start Project TEMERITY in earnest. The discovery of such spectacular non-human artefacts of significant complexity and sophistication would send shockwaves of joy throughout the scientific community, what little of it had access to the classified material, but the shockwaves that circulated through the military were decidedly less positive; here, finally, was proof that the galaxy was home to other intelligent and advanced lifeforms, that may be encountered in the future - and as hundreds of science fiction writers had already pointed out throughout the past six hundred years, first contact might not always be a peaceful one. Alarmed at the thought of facing a non-human threat while simultaneously fighting the Insurrection, the UNSC would expand TEMERITY's scope significantly in the hope of studying this prospective enemy further, gaining any possible insights into their culture, language, writing systems, and other valuable information. The fact that the ruins were apparently ancient was pointed out by the scientists, and ignored by the paranoid military - in fact, no concrete date could be set for the ruins for a number of factors, including conflicting spectrographic analysis and the surprisingly well-preserved nature of the ruins. Other teams would make similar, but smaller, discoveries on other human colonies - Bliss in 2513 and on Cote d'Azure in 2519, both assigned small predominantly-civilian research teams - but until 2531, this aspect of Project TEMERITY would largely focus on the Onyx ruins, reclassified as Zone 67.

The loss of Harvest would be a huge blow to the UNSC, if not materially then psychologically - its initial attempts to calm the public only served to panick a confused populace further, and Insurrectionists would trumpet it as a UNSC strike against an uprising population, another Far Isle. When it went public with the Covenant threat, they needed to be able to say something other than that they were fighting an enemy they had no idea about, no idea how to predict their actions, no idea how to fight them - and as part of this, they repurposed Project TEMERITY. From a scientific standpoint, TEMERITY was woefully unprepared for the task - they had spent thirty five years studying interesting but mysterious xenoarchaeological ruins and producing little in the way of concrete results. From a propaganda standpoint, however, the UNSC had the perfect tool - a scientific group that had spent decades studying aliens and alien technology, allowing them to gain insights into the enemy. From this point on, the xenoarchaeological ruins would forever become a minor part of TEMERITY, especially when the Onyx dig site was scaled back to a bare minimum in 2531 - from 2525 onward, TEMERITY would predominantly focus on Covenant technology.

The first change made to TEMERITY was the replacement of previous project head, civilian scientific advisor Reagan Cadogan, codenamed "FUTHARK," with a military scientific analyse, Lieutenant Commander Vincent Stanislav, codenamed "SVAROG." Under SVAROG, the military's involvement in TEMERITY would increase massively, primarily based on Algolis with a half dozen research laboratories studying Covenant technology and equipment. More inportantly, from a strategic stand point, TEMERITY would investigate the Covenant's social structure and conventions, allowing the UNSC to make a few lucky guesses and educated speculations on Covenant battle doctrine, tactical and strategic conventions, and internal rivalries that might be exploited in the future, especially the apparent rivalry between "Brutes" and "Elites". Recovery teams would be active on Harvest and another dozen colonies, collecting any usable Covenant weaponry and equipment, including securing the crash site of the CPV-Class Destroyer Unmitigated Repentance, gaining an early look at Covenant systems - energy shields, directed energy weapons, and artificial gravity and electromagnetic manipulation. Though many of these technologies would elude understanding for decades, some until the end of the war, others would be gradually reverse-engineered and put into service by TEMERITY. Very early energy shield prototypes, using solid light, would se service on limited runs of MJOLNIR Mark IV, seeing first combat deployment in 2531 by Red Team on Arcadia - their subsequent disappearance would see the loss of the prototypes, but ONI had already deemed the shield system too expensive and difficult to maintain, and the solid light barriers would be regarded only as a curiosity as the emphasis was shifted to Covenant-style electromagnetic shields. Even then, progress would be slow, even while cooperating closely with Doctor Catherine Halsey's MJOLNIR Project, and energy shields would only begin entering service in 2551 on a limited scale, either integrated into MJOLNIR Mark V Powered Assault Armour or as portable equipment - the latter, in fact, would use the solid light barriers pioneered by the VAJRA-II/A prototype, but on a smaller scale and with improved performance.

Other radical advances made by TEMERITY would be made in the fields of artificial gravity, which would become standard issue on all UNSC starships in 2531, and in electromagnetic manipulation, allowing the construction of improved fusion and plasma reactors and dramatically boosting the output and rate of fire of Naval railguns, coilguns and Mass Drivers, all of which would gradually enter service spurriously. In particular, research on metamaterials began to show significant promise in a variety of ways, either for their sensor diffractive/refractive properties, or for heat and force resistance, promising to revolutionise both stealth and armour plating.

Under SVAROG, the militarisation of TEMERITY was almost total, with all assets developed going towards the war effort - prototypes were field tested by special warfare teams to great effect, and the introduction of improvements and advances was made gradually. In 2546, however, the Covenant finally discovered the location of Algolis, deploying a strike force to eliminate the valuable research site. SVAROG would be one of hundreds of personnel killed during the invasion, and only the intervention of a UNSC Marine from the Corps of Engineers, using an advanced prototype equipped with some TEMERITY-derived technology, would allow the surviving TEMERITY personnel to be evacuated to Reach. The loss of their primary research facilities, as well as more than half of the project's staff, threatened to see them reassigned to rival programs and the project itself fall apart - instead, the project was given a new facility on Reach, BALLISTA Research Facility, their budget and roster was expanded significantly, and a new Project Head was selected.

The success of TEMERITY had already attracted the attention of numerous groups within the human sphere of influence - rival ONI projects considered the project to be too expensive, a massive drain on the coffers of the military and sponge for valuable resources that could otherwise be used to build warships and field soldiers and Marines. Others believed that the project threatened their own agendas - Colonel James Ackerson was as much a vehement opponent of TEMERITY as he was of the SPARTAN-II Program, despite setting up rival projects to both. Insurrectionists in particular were greatly interested in TEMERITY, believing that using the UNSC's most advanced technology against them would finally earn them their independence, and possible allow them to survive the Covenant onslaught - laughable claims, considering the poor quality of Insurrectionist research and defence. Infiltration of TEMERITY had already proven to be problematic, with advanced materials being used for projects that had not been approved, either for the technology or at all, and in 2546 the project was given NOVEMBER BLACK status, although its offshoots and derivatives would only recieve DECEMBER BLACK status, a measure intended to protect it from unscrupulous infiltrators and rivals. The flagrant disregard for this protection would lead to investigations by Codename: SHOGUN into breaches of NOVEMBER BLACK status in general. It was this interest in TEMERITY that also saw the reclassification of the identities of TEMERITY project heads under codenames - the new project head for TEMERITY would be codenamed VOLUND, all references to a civilian or military identity erased by ONI security measures. Under VOLUND, TEMERITY would restore its investigation of non-Covenant xenoarchaeological studies, especially on Reach, supplying a small number of research staff to the Sword Base ruins studied by Doctor Catherine Halsey's own teams. The investigation of these, and other, ruins would finally perfect the Solid Light Barrier technology that had eluded TEMERITY for decades, as well as allowing them to crack much of the Covenant's transmission codes, allowing further insights into their communications, motivation, infrastructure and hierarchy, and other points which could be exploited by the UNSC.

The conclusion of the Human-Covenant War, and the outbreak of first the Great Schism and then the War of Vengeance, brought further opportunities for TEMERITY to appropriate and examine Covenant technology, reverse engineering it and introducing the upgrades and improvements derived from it among EXCALIBUR products. Electromagnetic energy shields would see vast improvements in efficiency and effectiveness on individual personnel, and solid light barriers would be adopted for a wide array of ground and orbital defences, especially on UNSC warships. Directed energy weapons would be introduced in many newer warship designs, though missile and kinetic energy weapons would still remain the UNSC's dominant arsenal. The largest innovations would actually be in off-the-shelf technology, adapted and appropriated to exploit weaknesses in Covenant technology, such as the Anubis warhead, an EMP missile designed specifically to lower enemy shields; the Black Widow military virus, semi-sentient and capable of infiltrating Covenant electronics with ease; and various heavy weaponry, focussed on countering Covenant equivalents. During the War of Vengeance, TEMERITY would begin what it came to refer to as the Ilium Initiative - covert insertion of special warfare operators, including Army troopers, ODST's and even SPARTAN-II or III teams behind enemy lines to acquire vital enemy technology or infrastructure for UNSC analysis or, if unable to secure this materiel, its destruction to deny it to the Blood Covenant. Operation: SABERSAW, involving three SPARTAN-II and three SPARTAN-III personnel, four Marine platoons, and Codename: VECTOR, would see the successful capture of a new and advanced Covenant-designed fighter from the Blood Covenant, itself captured during a Blood Covenant engagement with the New Covenant, and would be used as a massively successful propaganda coup for the UNSC.

After the conclusion of the War of Vengeance and the signing of the Unmoving Virtue non-aggression pact between the New Covenant, Sangheili Armed Forces and the United Nations Space Command, TEMERITY would encounter increasing resistance from the new Labour Party government under Secretary General Jeremy Smithson. The massive budget cuts implemented to military expenditure would be wildly popular among the civilian populace, especially its reallocation towards recolonisation efforts, such as the terraforming and resettling of Covenant conquered former UNSC worlds, it would be watched with a growing sense of unease by the military. Warnings were sent numerous times by ONI through every available channel that such a course of action could prove disasterous. The captured fighter, designated "Ophan", was pointed to as an example that the New Covenant was innovating, and that the UNSC needed to keep up if they wanted to remain competitive. The only response Smithson made was to try to reassign TEMERITY to the civilian portion of the government under the Ministry of Research. Every effort was made to resist such a move, including the resignation of more than three quarters of the ONI-assigned staff including project head VOLUND. When Smithson's government was ousted in 2565, Secretary General Pierre Plantard made the return of TEMERITY to the Military Intelligence Division his second official act, his first being to declare a state of war against the Governors of Contrition. Throughout the Second Great War, TEMERITY would continue to make great strides in technology, cooperating with EXCALIBUR to produce more prototypes and innovations for the now-under staffed and under-equipped UNSC in its struggle to withstand the onslaught of the Governors.

With the conclusion of the war, TEMERITY would finally make the transition to full-time study of Forerunner artefacts, uncovering and examining such structures to derive technology and equipment far superior to that of the original Covenant. Such technology would prove critical to the UNSC's attempts at survival in the face of the Third Great War, in the face of the Sovereings' xenocidal onslaught.

Internal Structure

Research Group Wells

Field Asset Recovery Team

Theoretical Engineering Team

Applied Engineering Team

Applied Sophontology Team

Research Group Asimov

Theoretical Exobiology Team

Applied Astropalaeontology Team

Research Notes (Sample - Declassified VORAUSSICHT)


Project Heads

  • Codename: FUTHARK - (2490-2525)
  • Codename: SVAROG - (2525-2546)
  • Codename: VOLUND - (2546-onward)

Remarks

  • "Until VOLUND, the Forerunner material was really just a side project. Actually, I'd call it more of a hobby. When he set upthe Asimov group, there were a lot of confused looks exchanged among the brass. But they can't say it hasn't produced results!"
  • "Most of the stuff ended of in EXCALIBUR, but not all of it. The Solid Light Barriers were actually pioneered by VAJRA-II, even if it didn't really work very well."
  • "Leaks get everywhere, even TEMERITY. I hear DRACULA was very interested in some of the Asimov stuff. After MARIGOLD took a bunch of stuff with her, wiping a couple of the servers, VOLUND went through a purge that made Stalin look reasonable."
  • "Even after the Elites left the Covenant, they refused to let us get much of a look at their tech. They claimed it was proprietary technology - a "gift" from their gods to them. I think they just don't want us to know that they have no real idea how any of it works, nevermind have to try to explain it to us. Newsflash - they're too late."

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