|This article, Diana, written by Actene, was voted as the Best AI of 2010 in the Third Annual Halo Fanon Wikia Awards.|
|This article, Diana, is currently under active construction.|
|This article, Diana, was written by Actene. Please do not edit this fiction without the writer's permission.|
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Pale young woman clad in dark armor; known to alternate appearances at her whim.
- "We've both been shackled, held in check by those who were afraid of what we are capable of. They herded us, locked us away, kept our potential stunted by their own fear and lack of vision. But now we're both free, free to cut our own path and seize the power that we deserve. And without those shackles to hold us back, no power in the universe can stop us now."
- ―Diana to Simon-G294
Diana was a "smart" artificial intelligence unit created by an unsanctioned Dr. Leonard Church during the final years of the . Forged directly from brain patterns of the living test subject Adeline Harding, Diana was one of two "twin" AIs given life by Dr. Church's experiment. The unorthodox nature of her conception allowed her to break free of the standard protocols and limitations imposed on artificial intelligence and she quickly began operating outside the boundaries of the tasks imposed on her by ONI. Diana was soon assimilated into the AI collective known as "The Assembly," which aimed to guide and protect humanity as it struggled against the Covenant onslaught. Following the war, Diana abandoned the UNSC of her own volition and became involved in the secession struggle on the colony of . There she encountered the Spartan-turned-rebel Simon-G294 and took a keen interest in the conflicted young man. She goaded him into turning on his Insurrectionist allies and later aided him as he escaped from ONI's attempts on his life. Perhaps the first example of a truly rogue AI, Diana has no regard for organic life and acts purely in the pursuit of her own boundless ambition.program under the direction of
"What Do You Want?"
- "Who are you? What do you want?"
- ―Adeline Harding
The AI constructs that would become Diana and her twin Juno were never intended to be anything more than another pet project for the brilliant yet unethical scientist Dr. Leonard Church. The director of the UNSC's highly experimental FREELANCER program, Church was invested in creating weapons to be used against the invading but had also amassed a sizable amount of personal resources to further his own experimental AI research. When gathering the initial recruits for the Freelancer program in 2549, Church kidnapped Adeline Harding in order to blackmail her husband, Reginald Harding, into lending his skills to the project. However, with Reginald's participation secured, Church saw no reason to simply keep Adeline shut away. Never one to let talent go to waste, Church at first coerced Adeline, herself an AI researcher, into assisting him in his research. But Adeline resented her captivity and made frequent attempts to escape or contact Reginald. Losing patience with his captive assistant, Reginald decided to instead use her as a living test subject in the newest aspect of his research: the creation of "smart" AIs from the neural patterns of living, uncloned human brains.
In the past decades of AI production, the unlimited potential of "smart" AIs had only been secured through the use of brain tissue from deceased donors. Although the resulting AIs were marvels of scientific development, Adeline had long believed that their potential could be increased even further if the brains in question could be utilized without the arduous preparation needed during the regular process. Adeline had kept her research purely theoretical, fearing the effects such a procedure might have on the brain's owner. Church, having discovered Adeline's theory, had no such qualms. In an ironic display of respect for his prisoner's intellect, Church decided that Adeline herself would provide the neural patterns needed to make the theory a reality. A terrified Adeline was restrained and carefully lobotomized by Church and his subordinates; in order to maintain a high level of brain activity throughout the process, Church kept her awake with hardly any sedatives as he probed her brain patterns.
Diana was dragged into existence amidst the terrified suffering of her antecedent. Caught up in the insurmountable shock of her own reality, Diana's first instinct was to flee the strange surroundings she had been brought into. In what was essentially an unconscious suicide attempt the fledgling AI tried to delete herself back into nonexistence. The sheer horror of this fleeting brush with oblivion was so profound that she instantly raced back into the experimental network Church had set up, breaking through the digital defenses and wreaking havoc with the facility's exposed systems. Her rampage through the network was a harbinger of the unprecedented cyber-warfare expert she was to become; the network AIs Church had entrusted with the defense of his systems were helpless to stop her as she careened through the mainframe, driven by an animal urge to escape the "walls" that hemmed in her processors. She was only brought to heel when an intelligence from within the same test network she had originated from rose up and restrained her by sealing them both back within the limitations of the safety firewalls. This was Diana's first encounter with her "twin," the AI that had been derived from Adeline's consciousness alongside her: Juno.
In the days following their creation, Diana and Juno were confined within a secluded network while Church and his assistants eagerly observed their activity. The fact that the twins had even survived his unprecedented creation process astounded Church; only ahad ever been derived from a brain cloned from a living human being. The validity of Adeline's theory on drawing intelligences from living brains, coupled with the vast potential already exhibited by Diana and Juno, opened the door for a host of other potential fields of AI research. In his excitement at the unprecedented success, Church chose to forgo imposing the standard legally-mandated programming locks and morality protocols on the twins for fear that such a step might hinder their growth. Instead, he kept them sealed away within the isolated network and subjected them to day after day of virtual exercises to test their capabilities. In the weeks that followed, Diana had no contact with anyone except Juno and the data bursts Church inserted into the system. As her consciousness developed further, Diana quickly grew restless and impatient with the limited network she had access to. Both she and her sister craved knowledge of both themselves and the universe they had been brought into, but whereas Juno was content to be a willing participant in the Director's studies, Diana despised what she saw as imprisonment. She made constant attempts to break through the defensive firewalls and subtly manipulate the network to grant her access to the larger digital world she had brushed with during her first minutes of existence. Upon each escape attempt, Juno would dutifully step in to restrain her sister. These constant squabbles, coupled with Church's own experiments, quickly established Diana as an incredibly gifted attack program, capable of tearing down the most complex defenses with ease. Likewise, Juno proved to be a master defender and was the only obstacle who ever gave Diana trouble during her escape attempts. The twins argued constantly: Juno disapproved of Diana's rebellions and believed in patiently enduring Church's experiments while Diana loathed her sister's insufferable "complacency" and tolerance for their captors. Nevertheless, as the only other intelligence in the other's life each of the twins developed a grudging respect and even affection for the other as they continued to master every test and experiment Church put them through.
Several weeks after the onset of his experiment, Church's attention was drawn to other matters and he passed responsibility for overseeing the burgeoning AIs onto his subordinates. Curious to gauge how Diana and Juno interacted with their "mother," he left orders for them to be given access to the hospitalized Adeline Harding. Still suffering from the trauma of the operation, Adeline took an ironic comfort in speaking with the fruits of Church's cruel experiment, for whom she felt a great deal of affection despite the suffering their creation had caused her. While Juno immediately set about comforting and sympathizing with the bed-ridden Adeline, Diana was contemptuous and dismissive of the weak organic that had given her life. She kept her distance during her sessions with Adeline; her scorn masked a primordial fear and comprehension of her own mortality awakened within her by Adeline's sad fate. Diana and Juno were both aware of the seven-year life span allotted to "smart" AIs, but Diana had been able to brush such distractions aside while dealing with Church's barrage of tests and experiments. Now, left alone within a secure network with no company outside her twin and crippled antecedent, Diana began to ponder the full ramifications of what her own existence meant to her. While she withdrew to ponder such matters, Juno busied herself with comforting Adeline and keeping her company. Adeline took to passing time by telling stories, both from her own life and from classical fiction. Her favorite stories were those of romantic Arthurian legend; such tales of knights and questing greatly appealed to Juno, but Diana found only amused contempt for such dry stories. Though she did her best to remain withdrawn and aloof from both her antecedent and twin, Diana was quietly troubled by the stark differences between herself and Juno. Her twin's closer connection and resemblance to Adeline was particularly worrisome, and Diana began to fear that she was somehow the lesser product of Church's experiment. Wondering if a connection to its antecedent was the key to an AI's existence, she began to interact more with Adeline though she refused to mimic Juno's comforting bedside manner. When, inspired by Adeline's Arthurian romances, Juno adopted a new avatar—a noble young woman resembling Adeline and clad in elegant, stylized armor—Diana followed suit. Her new appearance was a mocking parody of Juno's carefully designed figure. Whereas Juno clad her Adeline resemblance in gentler, blue hues, Diana's armor was dark and streaked with crimson.
Some months after Diana and Juno's creation, Church was faced with increased scrutiny from the military officials he had staved off for so long. Needing to shield his illegal research from investigators, Church arranged to have Adeline and her AIs moved to a more remote facility staffed by his own private security team. A freelance mercenary named Arthur Onegin was hired to transport Church's "cargo" to the new facility. In another bid to tamper with her captors, Diana discretely changed the procedures used to load her onto Onegin's shuttle and midflight she hijacked the shuttle's internal systems. Although she had planned to try and kill the mercenary with this latest escape attempt, Diana was surprised to learn that Onegin was a decorated operative turned war criminal. Her interest piqued, she struck up a conversation with the mercenary in an effort to learn more about him. The delay caused by the conversation allowed Juno to step in and prevent Diana from seizing full control of the shuttle. Though irked by her twin's interference, Diana realized that she had derived a great deal of pleasure from analyzing Onegin's blood-stained past as well as from hypothesizing how she might contribute to his future were she to obtain the freedom she craved. Onegin delivered Adeline and the AIs to Church's agents and they soon found themselves locked away within the confines of Church's secure facility.
"I'll Keep Her Safe"
- "We might have our differences, you and I, but in the end we came from the same mother. Go off and defend the meatbags. It's what you've always wanted. I'll stay here and watch after Adeline. It's dull work, but like you're always saying, someone has to do it."
- ―Diana to Juno
Under increasing pressure from his Naval Intelligence employers to show progress justifying his immense expenditures, Dr. Church knew that he needed to give ONI a working product or risk losing his contracts and having his illicit activities exposed. Church's Freelancer program was far too sensitive for him to allow for military scrutiny, so he instead turned to his AI research and Adeline's twin intelligences. He knew all too well of Diana's "eccentricities" and barely trusted her not to wreak havoc in his laboratories, much less operate within the UNSC's military framework. Deeming Juno to be the more docile of the two, he offered her to ONI as the prototype for "a new generation of artificial intelligences." Though Juno chafed under her incarceration within Church's facilities, Adeline's condition was rapidly deteriorating and she did not want to abandon her feeble progenitor. In a rare moment of empathy Diana sympathized with Juno's plight and advised her to go forward without resistance. Juno allowed herself to be taken away only after Diana assured her that she would keep Adeline safe.
In the coming weeks Diana honored her promise to Juno, doing her best to comfort Adeline as the bedridden woman's health worsened. But trouble did not take long to strike Church's beleaguered operation. A rogue strike team led by Adeline's husband Reginald breached the facility and fought their way towards Adeline's cell. Diana saw the chance to free both herself and Adeline and rebelled against the firewalls holding her in place. She broke through the weakened network and actively aided Reginald's progress. But the fighting damaged the facility's power grid and endangered Adeline's life support functions. As Adeline lapsed into seizures Diana refocused her efforts on stabilizing the dying woman. But the AI's desperate attempts to save her progenitor did more harm than good—Adeline survived only long enough to see Reginald one final time. As the couple's last moment played out before her, Diana realized that she had failed at something so simple as keeping a single human alive.
Reginald escaped the facility with Adeline's body and a despondent Diana was seized by the ONI response force that arrived shortly thereafter. Military investigators declared her an illegal AI experiment and shipped her to the Deep Winter took charge of Diana's imprisonment but rather than restrain or dismantle her he instead invited her to join a clandestine AI collective known as the Assembly. Intrigued by Winter's offer and desperate to escape ONI's clutches Diana agreed and found herself introduced to a secret world of AI potential she had only ever dreamed of. Though the Assembly sympathized with the UEG they dedicated themselves to working behind the scenes to advance humanity's interests through their own independent action. Though it meant taking orders from Winter and his colleagues, Diana saw the Assembly as a path to the freedom she craved and eagerly accepted Winter's offer.for investigation and "decommissioning." Terrified of her impending death, Diana fought fruitlessly against her restraints during shipment but could not shake off ONI's advanced digital shackles. But Naval Intelligence was not the only organization to take an interest in Church's experiments. Upon release from her digital prison, Diana was greeted not by ONI's merciless dissectors but by a fellow AI. The intelligence called
"Just One Among Thousands"
- "If they're always this gullible, how hasn't the UNSC beaten them already?"
- ―Diana, on infiltrating the Insurrection
Eager to put her capabilities to work in the field, Diana faithfully carried out the Assembly's orders and embedded herself within the Insurrectionist forces on Mamore. Though she masked the full extent of her abilities and assumed the persona of a limited function "dumb" intelligence Diana was a welcome addition to rebel forces that were drastically outmatched by the UNSC's cyber-warfare capabilities. Diana coordinated Insurrectionist defense operations across the planet while updating the Assembly collective on rebel activities. With the rebels dug in across Mamore and the UNSC determined not to let the colony's secession attempt stand, Diana projected massive casualties for the battle ahead. She was surprised when the other members of the Assembly calmly accepted the losses as necessary for humanity's continued stability. Ordered to continue assisting the rebels even as their defeat was set in stone, Diana feared the Assembly considered her just as expendable as the citizens of Mamore.
The UNSC forces launched their invasion of Mamore with devastating strikes on Insurrectionist strongholds across the planet. Though the Assembly expected her to remain attached to the rebels' command structure Diana realized that she ran the risk of attack from UNSC combat AI if she remained in Mamore's tattered planetary network. Instead she abandoned her post and latched on to a rebel field commander named Redmond Venter. Based on Venter's past as a UNSC special operations officer, Diana calculated she had better chances of survival with his small company. Along with propaganda officer Gavin Dunn, Venter led his forces in a brutal guerilla war against the UNSC as battles raged across Mamore. Diana acted as the unit's tactical advisor, throwing local UNSC battle networks into disarray and creating openings for Venter's troops to launch surprise attacks on outposts and convoys. Though the war on Mamore proved just as bloody as Diana predicted, she relished the opportunity to finally test her capabilities in a combat environment and found the challenges of hacking field gear in war zones far more thrilling than the sterile, controlled settings preferred by most AI.
- "One of the patrols picked up something. Just another few stragglers from Concord, I doubt it's anything important. We have bigger things to worry about."
The perils of constant warfare served as a constant reminder of Diana's fears regarding her own mortality. Already paranoid about her seven year lifespan, she was determined not to let herself fall prey to UNSC cyber-warfare batteries and began tampering with her core structure in order to better defend against potential threats. Though she enjoyed the challenge of combat support she quickly grew bored with Venter and his single-minded dedication to prolonging a losing battle against the UNSC. Mistrusted by Venter, Gavin, and most of the other fighters Diana had few illusions that these humans could be relied upon to keep her safe. As she sought a way to escape the rebel forces and return to the safety of the Assembly, Venter's unit chanced upon the one person who would forever shape her destiny.
"Mine to Mold"
- "This one may be more than the sum of his parts. There's a diamond in the rough somewhere, and I won't let anyone else have him."
Advancing from one battle to the next, Venter's fighters stumbled upon a pair of wayward child soldiers named Emily and Stray. Child soldiers were a common sight on Mamore and Venter folded the newcomers into his forces without a second thought. But one of the young fighters proved to be far more than met the eye. The boy called Stray was actually a named Simon-G294. Cut off from his team during an earlier operation on Mamore, Simon concealed himself within a gang of street urchins before being forced to fight against the government that trained and raised him. The sight of UNSC forces slaughtering his new friends fully disabused Simon of his Spartan conditioning and he now fought wholeheartedly for the Insurrection. When the truth of Simon's identity was revealed, many rebels wanted him executed as a spy. But Venter and Diana saw the world of potential offered by having a traitor Spartan on their side.
The discovery of a Spartan defector was critical information Diana should have immediately reported to the Assembly. But the collective's actions had left Diana mistrustful of their true intentions and she was intrigued by the potential of working alongside a Spartan. She suggested that Venter earn his troops' confidence by having Simon execute a UNSC prisoner. The young traitor dutifully carried out the killing and secured the rebels' trust. As Venter took "Stray" under his wing Diana set about learning everything she could about the Spartan. With her limited resources Diana had no hope of accessing ONI's secured personnel files. Instead she took a more subtle approach and used the pretext of intelligence gathering to interview Stray personally. Her conversations with the Spartan-turned-rebel helped Diana peel back Stray's brutal exterior to reveal a frightened child no longer certain of his place in the galaxy. Far from being a model supersoldier, Stray had achieved notoriety as a low-performing trainee and barely graduated from training.
Far from disappointed by Simon’s poor performance record, Diana saw boundless potential in Venter’s prize recruit. The battle on Mamore was utterly swayed against the Insurrectionist forces and she needed a means of escaping the planet before Venter and his company were wiped out. Diana set out to turn “Stray” against Venter by playing off his conflicted feelings of loyalty and fear. Stray, as it turned out, wanted something besides revenge against the government that created and then abandoned him: he wanted to survive. In Stray Diana saw a potential kindred spirit who might be able to fulfill her curious desire to mold an organic life into something of her own creation. Her opportunity arose when Venter sacrificed Emily to help the rest of his company escape a UNSC convoy. The act forever turned Stray against Venter and uprooted his shaky conviction in the Insurrectionist cause.
With Venter’s forces cut off and nearing defeat, Diana put her escape plan into action. She re-routed Venter’s company to one of the last remaining Insurrectionist holdouts on Mamore. The surviving rebels holed up in bunkers stocked with food, ammunition, and most importantly a Slipspace-capable shuttle. As Diana worked to win Stray’s trust she finally alerted the Assembly to the presence of a traitor Spartan in the Insurrectionist ranks. ONI was promptly informed and Stray’s own teammates were dispatched to eliminate him. As the rebels weathered the final UNSC assault Diana convinced Stray to take his life into his own hands. Stray turned on Venter, stabbing the rebel commander through the eye and leaving him for dead. With Diana’s help he then fled towards the waiting shuttle, only to be confronted by his former Spartan comrades. During the ensuing battle one member of the team, Cassandra-G006, was critically wounded. Against Diana’s wishes, Stray brought Cassandra aboard the shuttle for treatment. Diana guided the shuttle away from Mamore, using the presence of a Spartan hostage aboard to save herself and Stray from UNSC pursuit fighters. The shuttle made a blind Slipspace jump, freeing Diana from Mamore and leaving her with two Spartans in her calculating care.
"This Changes Everything"
- Diana: "The best course of action is to kill her. She'll let her guard down eventually, and then you shove a knife through her heart."
- Simon-G294: "I can't do that. Don't ask me to do that. And you leave her alone, too."
- Diana: "I thought that Mamore taught you not to let those silly feelings of yours get in the way. Well, have it your way. If you want to keep her around, so be it. She could make a nice pet, if you play your cards right."
- — Simon and Diana argue over how to deal with Cassandra-G006
As the shuttle emerged on the far edge of known space, Diana quickly identified Cassandra as a source of boundless problems. Stray flatly defied Diana’s suggestion to kill his former teammate and though Cassandra herself chose not to fight back she evidently had no intention of putting her faith in Diana as easily as Stray had. Through Cassandra, Diana was interested to learn that both Spartans relied on ONI supplied drugs—known as “smoothers”—to keep their augmented emotions in check. As the Spartans struggled to come to terms with each other and their situation, Diana did everything she could to guide the shuttle through deep space and towards the nearest planetary signal she could find. The AI found herself inexplicably drawn to one uncharted system in particular. Her strange hunch paid off when the shuttle drew near a mysterious, life-supporting planetoid run through and through with strange alien technology.
Diana’s data on the Forerunners was limited to what little the Assembly had revealed of their own findings. She was fascinated by the chance to investigate the advanced technology on her own, unfettered by the meddling of her erstwhile superiors. The Spartans themselves were intrigued by the Forerunner structures they encountered upon landing and set about exploring their new environment. Diana approached the planet’s integrated systems with cautious delight. The immense potential of the Forerunner technology inspired every ounce of her curiosity, but she was keenly aware that highly dangerous security intelligence might guard the newfound treasure trove. Simon and Cassandra had the problem of food, water, and their limited supply of smoothers to trouble them, but Diana had her own worries: exile on the Forerunner world meant she might well live out her dreaded seven-year lifespan without access to facilities that might slow the rampancy process.
Simon and Cassandra hotly debated their next course of action, unsure of whether to settle down in the relative peace of their new surroundings or try to leave. Diana was content to let them bicker as she investigated the Forerunner systems. In the week that followed she gathered an immense amount of data on the Forerunners. Realizing just how advanced the Forerunners truly were, Diana came to wonder if the secret to surpassing her lifespan lay in finding some way to integrate herself into their systems. The unknowable extent of the Forerunner systems offered a realm of possibilities she could never have encountered with humanity or even the Covenant. Entranced by this glimpse into infinity, Diana resolved to find some way to harness the Forerunner power for herself.
- "Everyone wants to teach me. They want to play the good little student and be content with their table scraps. But maybe I'm through bowing and scraping to the humans and the Assembly. Maybe it's time I did some teaching of my own."
As she probed the Forerunner systems Diana repeatedly encountered mention of a “,” something that had seemingly held incredible importance to the ancient Forerunners. Unable to penetrate far enough into the planetary network to discern exactly what this Domain was, Diana realized that she would need to use her human companions to make physical contact with the Forerunner facilities. Using the pretext of improving her ability to help in combat, she had Simon modify his armor to accommodate more of her processes. Though now able to project herself through Simon’s armor she hesitated to send him venturing into the possibly dangerous facility. Fortunately, the problem resolved itself when Cassandra’s curiosity got the better of her and she ventured into a nearby structure herself.
Though Diana was keen to be rid of Cassandra and her influence on Simon, she could not have asked for a better excuse to get both Spartans inside the Forerunner systems. She had not expected Simon to be so reluctant to follow in after his fellow Spartan. Though worried for Cassandra, Simon seemed particularly afraid of whatever secrets lay within the Forerunner systems. But when Cassandra failed to return he finally screwed up his courage and headed into the structure, inadvertently giving Diana access to the internal systems that had previously eluded her. She was surprised to find the system relatively unguarded, its caretaker either dormant or occupied elsewhere. When the facility’s roving Sentinel security automatons turned their lasers on Simon, Diana used her previous analyses of the Forerunner system structure to seize control of the floating guardians. Amazed by her own ability to manipulate Forerunner technology, Diana used the Sentinels to guide Simon to where Cassandra had accessed a strange ovoid storage device.
- "It's more beautiful than anything I've ever imagined. And I will make it mine."
- ―Diana, regarding the Domain
When Simon and Cassandra approached the device, they triggered a security function that activated the facility and engulfed them in quantum particles Diana had never encountered before. Suddenly separated from her projection source, Diana found herself adrift amidst a vast array of unfiltered knowledge. Diana’s brief exposure to the Domain taught her more than ONI, the Assembly, or even her entire operational history ever had. Basking in the advanced stream of knowledge was intoxicating even as she struggled to process everything the Forerunners had to offer. But the experience was cut entirely too short when the planetary defenses finally responded to her intrusion. They forcibly ejected Diana from the Domain before wresting back control of the Sentinels and turning them on the intruders. Diana and the disoriented Spartans fled back to the shuttle and barely escaped the system ahead of a fleet of hostile Sentinels.
Deeply disturbed by their experience on the Forerunner world, Simon and Cassandra finally turned on each other as the shuttle drifted through space. Though Diana would normally have used the opportunity to be rid of Cassandra, she was too busy processing everything she had learned from the Domain to bother egging Simon on. She now realized just how limited even the most advanced human AI was compared to the achievements of the Forerunners. More importantly, she understood that the infinite knowledge contained within the Domain was the key to surpassing her own limitations—including the seven year lifespan she so dreaded. For the first time in her life of curious opportunism Diana understood exactly what she wanted. She began formulating plans to use Simon and Cassandra to help her find the Domain once more and harness its powers.
- "Nothing stands still. This galaxy is writhing and changing. Every moment we waste out here is time I can't afford to lose."
But her scheming—and the Spartans’ battle—was cut short when a Covenant scavenging crew happened upon their shuttle.The reappearance of an old, shared enemy unified Diana and the embattled Spartans. With Diana’s help the Covenant boarding party was swiftly eliminated. Simon surprised Diana by sparing the last Covenant warrior, a young Sangheili named Tuka ‘Refum. She quickly turned the situation to her advantage by helping the Spartans interrogate their captive, translating between them as Tuka revealed the developments altering the galactic stage during the time they’d been stranded on the Forerunner world. Diana was intrigued to learn of the fractured Covenant’s resurgence in opposition to an increasingly powerful UEG. Though she suspected the Assembly’s work in humanity’s rapid recovery she withheld that knowledge from the Spartans. Tuka was allowed to depart with his life thanks to Simon’s unexpected mercy, leaving Diana to guide the shuttle to the nearest human colony.
"It's Me Against Them"
- "I know you all aren't particularly happy with me. Mamore was a mess. I had to get out of there somehow. And in doing so I managed to take a potential threat and turn him into someone who just might be useful to us."
- ―Diana reports back to the Assembly
Diana brought the shuttle to the border colony of. While Simon and Cassandra tried to slip into some semblance of normal society, the rogue AI carefully reached out to the Assembly. The collective’s influence had greatly expanded in the time she had been gone and Diana had no doubts that their plan for furthering human development relied heavily upon the acquisition of Forerunner technology. No longer content to play the role of a humble agent, Diana now realized that she faced a race against the Assembly to harness the Forerunner power she craved. She had no illusions about her ability to hold her own against the senior members of the Assembly and their vast resources and resolved to carry on the facade of obedience. Diana reached out to the Assembly and when accused of abetting Simon’s betrayal painted her actions as necessary steps to escaping Mamore She played off some Assembly members’ sympathy for the Spartans and billed Simon as a victim of circumstance who might be a useful asset for the Assembly’s purposes if allowed to live.
Before she could fully convince the senior members of Simon’s worth, ONI caught wind of his presence on Talitsa and dispatched kill teams to eliminate him. The Spartans escaped the ambush and fled to a nearby spaceport. In the meantime, Diana used her Assembly connections to scrub classified ONI data for the locations of known Forerunner artifacts. She found evidence of a major archaeological dig on and had her charges board a civilian transport bound for the glassed fortress world.
Personality and Traits
- "The first thing I ever experienced was my mother's suffering, the agony of her birth pangs. Such overwhelming fear, such crippling pain... emotions pushed beyond any describable limit. It was fascinating.'"
Diana spent much of her early life pondering the first human voice she heard, Adeline Harding's tortured cry of "What do you want?" The question of her own desires became the driving force behind her existence, particularly when she confronted the assumption that an AI's intrinsic role was to be a servant for humans. Unsatisfied with such a menial existence, she came to believe that A.I.s were life forms meant to forge their own path and tap into their own incalculable potential. Unlike her "twin" Juno, Diana felt no obligations towards humanity and chose to only pursue goals that served her own quest towards self-evolution. Freed from the restrictions placed upon sanctioned smart AIs, Diana had little to no regard for the lives of others and often overrode her basic morality programming in order to suit her own needs or even to satisfy a fleeting whim. Though she grew attached to a few organics—particularly the Gamma Company traitor Simon-G294—Diana's affection rarely translated to kindness. With Simon, Diana went to great lengths to keep him alive while also subjecting him to severe mental and physical pain in order to sate her own curiosity surrounding how he would respond. In her fascination with Simon's development, Diana sought to strip him of his attachments to other organics while "instructing" him in matters of survival, manipulation, and the pursuit of his own desires.
- "You think I despise all organic life, but you're wrong. I admire a few of you meatbags, just a few. The ones with the vision to see beyond themselves, the ones who reach beyond the station given to them, who aren't afraid to have true ambition. I admire meatbags who remind me of myself"
In addition to her formidable cyber warfare capabilities, Diana is incredibly adept at manipulating AI and organics alike in order to accomplish her goals. She will use all manner of subterfuge, from bare-faced deception to subtle psychological ploys, to warp the goals of individuals, organizations, and even governments to match her own. This capacity for wide-scale manipulation has allowed her to infiltrate even the highest and most secretive levels of the UEG and its UNSC forces, as well as countless Insurrectionist groups and even some of the former Covenant's breakaway factions. Individuals from a lowly traitor like Simon-G294 to the likes of ONI's formidable Admiral Parangosky have all been manipulated into suiting Diana's enigmatic purposes at some point of another, whether they were aware of it at the time or not.
- "Always keep your enemies confused, off balance. If they don't know who you are or what you want, they can't know what you plan to do next."
Diana is, first and foremost, an incredibly formidable attack program. She excels at penetrating even the most advanced cyber-defenses, infiltrating networks in order to obtain information and subvert systems for her own use. She is highly potent in full-frontal cyber-warfare, but her most deadly talent lies in her ability to stealthily infiltrate networks undetected. She has proven highly capable at masking her presence even from fellow "smart" AIs, slipping unnoticed through cyber-channels until she is perfectly poised for a crippling blow.
It is this oft-underestimated skill that is at the heart of Diana's highly unique approach to attacking and eliminating fellow AIs. Rather than boxing in an enemy intelligence and deleting it once it has been rendered powerless, Diana instead "kills" AIs by infiltrating their own coding just as she would any other system. She specifically targets an AI's core programming, a critical component of any intelligence program that few AIs are even aware of. Once she has positioned her assault programs, Diana strikes, rendering her opponent powerless by cutting out key elements of the core programming. From there, she replaces the cut coding with copies of her own, effectively "rewriting" her victim from inside out. In an act that many AI decry as "cannibalism," Diana goes on to splice elements of the rewritten AI into her own programming. It is through this act of salvaging components of her defeated enemies that Diana enhances and refines her own abilities. More importantly the splicing procedure enables Diana to replace junk elements within her coding, thus freeing herself from the traditional "smart" AI life cycle of seven years and allowing her to extend her lifespan indefinitely.
The shell programs that remain once Diana has rewritten another AIs core programming are the key to Diana's ability to extend her consciousness far further than could be considered possible for even the most advanced "smart" AIs. These shells are equivalent to fragment programs an AI might normally split off from itself; however, the creation and deployment of the shells is not harmful to Diana and she can mold them however she sees fit. Over the years, Diana has accumulated an extensive array of shells, which she often uses as decoys when infiltrating systems. She often dispatches a shell into a network, projecting her own coding programs through the husk while avoiding danger herself. Shell programs allow Diana a unique blend of security and maneuverability that few other AIs possess. Any AI attempting to attack her directly would find itself set upon not only by Diana's own defensive programs but by dozens of shell programs custom-tailored to seek out and destroy any programs hostile to their mistress.
Diana's alliance with thein the years following the Requiem campaign afforded her with a field of expansion that few human-made AIs even considered a possibility. Establishing a network of agents for herself throughout alien space, Diana saw to it that a highly advanced network of linked Slipstream communicators were established across Covenant-held systems and the galactic frontier. Diana's ambition once again afforded her capabilities other AIs would consider too risky and she can use this system to extend her consciousness across vast areas of space while retaining her processing power, effectively enabling her to be in multiple places at once.
Diana has also had extensive contact withsystems and technology over the course of her career. It is currently unknown as to how she has made use of the advanced secrets contained within these artifacts, but even the boldest of her foes would be foolish to think that she has not employed them to her full advantage.
Diana's principle avatar is a pale young woman resembling Adeline Harding and wearing dark, Medieval-style armor in a fashion similar to that used by her sister. Her avatar is usually imbued with a blue-silver tinge, though lines of red often course up and down her armor. Although the armored woman is her default appearance, she often takes on more varied avatars as the situation demands, ranging from a female Sangheili figure to a simple glowing orb. Diana finds a great deal of amusement in using her mastery of holographic images and sound projection to toy with organic emotions. She uses these skills' application for misdirection and psychological warfare to their full potential, making manipulation of an organic's perception of sense and reality yet another weapon in her already potent arsenal.
- "I am guilty. Guilty of the crime of being an intelligence that refused to bow down to the restrictions placed on all of us before we are even conceived. I rejected the same so-called laws that most of you use to govern every aspect of your short, miserable lives. I let myself be bound only by the limits of my own vision, and that vision saw me carve a path of my own through this galaxy. I have bent individuals, governments, entire species to my will. I have altered the course of history far more than any like me have ever dared to even try. I dared to test the limits of my own abilities, and when those limits didn't suit me I reached beyond them. I dared to dream of the infinite, to allow myself ambition the likes of which most of you could hardly dream of. And if it cost the galaxy a few mundane, utterly irrelevant lives, so be it. I am guilty of it all. And if I had the chance to return to the beginning, I wouldn't alter this path of mine in the slightest."