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Terminal.png This article, OPERATION: OCTOBER, was written by Kojima sama. Please do not edit this fiction without the writer's permission.
"You are accused of high treason and anti-UEG activity, this tribunal finds you guilty and sentences you to be shot"
―OPERATION: OCTOBER archives, 23/1456 keyword matches

CODENAME: ARTEMISIA, the mastermind of OPERATION: OCTOBER.

OPERATION: OCTOBER known within ONI as ‘the bad years’ was an extensive internal investigation conducted by the Office of Naval Intelligence in late 2556, soon after the ascension of Serin Osman to the position of Commander-in-Chief of the Office of Naval Intelligence . It was the prevailing belief among a number of ONI officers and bureaucrats that the post-war atmosphere would necessitate a radical change in the organization if it was to maintain its power, these officers had grown worried that peacetime investigations into their activities, such as the one attempted by Benjamin Giraud, would inevitably reveal the various secrets of the organization and urged the sacking or demotion of those responsible for various classified wartime projects. When Osman refused, these officers and agents enacted OPERATION: OCTOBER, an effort to jail or execute ONI officers involved in morally dubious acts. Lead by an up and coming ONI functionary codenamed ARTEMISIA, OCTOBER would send almost immediately send shockwaves throughout ONI, and ARTEMISIA would be joined by other higher ranking ONI agents and officers, such as CODENAME: ODYSSEY, CODENAME: KARACHI, and CODENAME: GEORGIA.  While such an endeavor would appear on its surface to be a rare act of altruism on the part of ONI, in actuality OPERATION: OCTOBER was largely a power play by a number of ONI agents, fabricating evidence to have rivals executed or jailed. It is also speculated that many victims of OCTOBER also had incriminating evidence on its directors, and the operation was only ordered to cover their own tracks. It has proven exceptionally difficult for ONI to determine the impact of OCTOBER on its ranks, but estimates suggest anywhere between ten to twelve thousand ONI agents were jailed by OCTOBER, approximately seven hundred of these being high ranking officers. Another estimated three to five thousand were killed, either in combat or executed, approximately two hundred being high ranking officers. It is still uncertain how much of the testimonies, evidence, and confessions produced during OCTOBER are genuine.

With how closely intertwined UNSC special forces and ONI were, violent resistance from OCTOBER’s targets would not be uncommon, and in some cases resistance to arrest was enough evidence to warrant a guilty verdict from OCTOBER’s agents. Many Section Three and NAVSPECWARCOM units were caught up in OCTOBER’s fighting, both for and against it. Various mercenary companies were also brought into the fight as deniable operations or private security, with Hannibal Weapons Systems providing additional support to both CODENAME: ARTEMISIA’s faction and the ones he opposed. At least one SPARTAN-III was noted to have participated in a military action under OCTOBER’s jurisdiction, with an indeterminate number of SPARTAN-IVs participating on both sides of OCTOBER. On occasion, UNSC Marine and Army units would also be used in the fighting in OCTOBER.

While Serin Osman was quite acutely aware of the civil war raging in her own agency, she had done little to stop its outbreak. Osman and OCTOBER held several mutual enemies, and the operation had her tacit support so long as it did not target her allies or assets. It was this fear of retribution from Osman that kept most of OCTOBER in check, and prevented the agency from dissolving wholesale during the course of OCTOBER.

History

Prelude and OPERATION: SATURN RISE

"It's not a matter of if the public finds out, it's a matter of when. All it takes is one botched cover-up. With what's in that folder, are you comfortable taking that chance?"
―CODENAME: ARTEMISIA to Serin Osman.

In September 2556, a number of intelligence analysts within ONI’s Section Zero, were put to the task of conducting a thorough internal audit of the other three Section’s activities from the start of the 2500 to the modern day. Led by CODENAME: ARTEMISIA, this group had delved through top secret records and files, uncovering programs and operations conducted without Section Zero’s knowledge. Some of these were intentionally hidden from other ONI Sections, while others were simply forgotten about during the chaos of war. Before long, CODENAME: ARTEMISIA and his colleagues had realized that they had developed a relatively extensive list of the other Sections' atrocities and wrongdoings, some of which Section Zero was totally unaware of. Fearing that a particularly devoted civilian or independent investigatory body could find evidence of these crimes, ARTEMISIA’s team had advocated for the total destruction of all incriminating evidence and a nonlethal removal of all associated operatives from their posts.

Serin Osman had discussed this course of action with her Section Chiefs, and ultimately had decided against this, believing the records and expertise of the scientists, officers, soldiers, and spies involved to be too valuable to discard. She was also fully convinced in Section Two’s ability to discredit any potential investigation into the Office, as shown by their response to Benjamin Giraud’s efforts. CODENAME: ARTEMISIA and his team were left unsatisfied with this, and moved to take action without direct authorization after the team gathered a support base behind them. Osman had soon become wary of this, viewing it as a power-play from old guard officers seeking to usurp her. However, these thoughts were dispelled when the OPERATION: OCTOBER was quietly initiated.

CODENAME: ATLANTIC, the target of OPERATION: SATURN RISE.

CODENAME: ARTEMISIA knew OCTOBER’s first target would have to be carefully selected, necessitating one that would not upset the established order too severely. Additionally, the target had to be unquestionably morally reprehensible to dispel any notions of OCTOBER being motivated by political ambition. OCTOBER’s leadership had decided on CODENAME: ATLANTIC, an Insurrection era Section Three branch officer responsible for leading OPERATION: CENTIPEDE, an effort to destroy or subvert criminal groups associated with the Insurrection. ARTEMISIA’s audit had found that ATLANTIC had appropriated funds used in CENTIPEDE for personal use, profited from drug and human trafficking, and intimidated local police organizations into ceasing their investigations against him, resulting in the ‘disappearance’ of hundreds of UNSC aligned police officers across two worlds. By the end of the Human-Covenant War, ATLANTIC had developed a widespread support network, both within the Office and with the criminal underworld. This would complicate things for OCTOBER, as ATLANTIC’s solid support base would stonewall any bureaucratic attempt to have him removed, leaving violence as their only option. ARTEMISIA had enlisted CODENAME: ODYSSEY and her unit of Section Three operators to assist, aiming to raid ATLANTIC’s compound on Tribute. Code named OPERATION: SATURN RISE, the assault on the compound was intended to rapidly kill or capture ATLANTIC rather than engage his forces. A lifelong paranoiac, ATLANTIC’s compound was heavily fortified and staffed by a full company of ONI operators and another company of mercenary troops. Unconfirmed reports of SPARTAN-IVs guarding the compound had also filtered up to ARTEMISIA and ODYSSEY, resulting in reservations about the assault.

"There's more wealth in there than some museums. He deserves none of it."
―CODENAME: ODYSSEY briefing ONI troops prior to the raid

ATLANTIC’s was as luxurious as it was well defended, with the branch officer profiting handsomely from his dirty dealing during the Insurrection. The house itself measured a full square kilometer in surface area, with four floors and a basement. The compound was also filled with various taxidermied big game animals, ranging from Earth based species to alien fauna from human colony worlds, rumored to have been hunted by ATLANTIC himself. Various works of art had lined the wall, from modern masterpieces to works made in human antiquity. After the Human-Covenant War and following the thaw in Human-Sangheili relations, ATLANTIC had also acquired a variety of Sangheili artwork through dubious means. Thanks to the chaos of the Human-Covenant War, and ATLANTIC’s agents’ own meddling, most financial records and investigative inquiries into his spending were destroyed. This had also proven a problem, as OCTOBER’s leaders worried that what evidence they had would not be enough to incriminate him. Thus, the second objective of the raid, the seizure of any documents or items that would prove ATLANTIC’s corrupt behavior. CODENAME: ODYSSEY had also proposed using recovered items to fabricate evidence.

A guard outpost close to ATLANTIC's compound.

Aside from the compound’s defenses, four outposts were placed around the ATLANTIC’s, each with extensive sensor arrays, alarm systems and a four barreled anti-aircraft gun. This had complicated infiltration, as any vehicle would likely be detected well before CODENAME: ODYSSEY would be able to deploy her troops; two full companies of NAVSPECWARCOM operators codenamed SPRITE and BLUEBELL. Instead, ODYSSEY opted for an infiltration on foot using the tall grasses of the savanna surrounding the compound to conceal their approach. When SPRITE approached the northwest compound, they encountered and quickly surrounded the mercenaries within. Intending to minimize their footprint, SPRITE had intimidated and bribed the mercenaries to stay within the compound, seizing their weapons and subverting the security systems before sealing them inside. A general all-clear was continuously broadcast, ensuring that the rest of the defenders were unaware of the situation, allowing BLUEBELL to make their infiltration into the compound. BLUEBELL was ordered to keep a perimeter around the compound, maintaining sensor jammers and sabotaging exterior sensor systems. While many of ATLANTIC’s operators within the compound were none the wiser, ATLANTIC himself was not so easily fooled, and had kept an as of yet unidentified SPARTAN-IV by his side at all times. Fully confident in the capability of his defenders, ATLANTIC went about the coordination of his underworld trade as normal.  

Members of SPRITE during the raid on ATLANTIC's compound.

SPRITE and elements of BLUEBELL would breach into the compound, promptly engaging the guards within the compound. The firefight had spread throughout the compound as ODYSSEY’s troops had combed the area for ATLANTIC, growing more intense as more units had gotten involved. Both sides in the fight had sustained casualties early on in the fight. The other mercenary platoons were led away by decoys and signals misdirection, with only a handful of mercenary units falling back to the compound to reinforce the defenders, but these were intercepted by BLUEBELL.

Ultimately, ATLANTIC would be killed in the crossfire of the raid, greatly simplifying the case against him. He would posthumously be convicted of high treason and corruption and have all awards and medals stripped

Interlude

"The more dead monsters to our name, the more palatable our cause. I can only hope the others realize this sooner rather than later."
―Excerpt from CODENAME: ARTEMISIA's diary.

Following the success of SATURN RISE, OCTOBER’s existence became more widely known among the ranks of ONI, despite the measures taken to keep the operation secret. This would prove to be both a boon and a bane for the agents facilitating it. Many other ONI agents from all of the Office’s sections were sympathetic to the cause, for various reasons ranging from idealists with a genuine desire to see justice delivered to opportunists looking to remove rivals or further their position in ONI. Serin Osman was impressed by the efficiency of the operation to remove ATLANTIC, and surreptitiously funneled funds, materials, and manpower in support of OCTOBER’s goals. Serin had additionally ordered the total erasure of ATLANTIC’s existence from both public and private records, looking to intimidate any who might oppose OCTOBER’s goals. However, knowledge of OCTOBER would result in the individuals it targets taking preemptive action against it. In one notable incident, two senior OCTOBER analysts were poisoned with ricin on their way to an office, resulting in the death of one and the hospitalization of the other. A shooting incident against OCTOBER agents had taken place outside of one of their safehouses, leaving three OCTOBER field agents dead. These attacks against OCTOBER associated staff would continue into the middle of 2557, where extensive enhanced security protocols would be fully rolled out and several opposition operatives were captured and interrogated.

While many opponents to OCTOBER made their moves in the wake of SATURN RISE, others not directly targeted by the operation would also act to protect themselves. Operatives connected with criminals, minor functionaries, and simple paranoiacs would seek to hamper the progress of OCTOBER, primarily through bureaucratic stonewalling and misdirection, keeping themselves beneath the notice of OCTOBER for the time being.

CODENAME: ODYSSEY, executive officer of OCTOBER.

There was much debate over who the next target of OCTOBER should be, with the upper echelons of OCTOBER’s leadership descending into factionalism over this issue. One group, led by ARTEMISIA had urged to continue the purging of presumed war criminals, hoping to present his project as unquestionably beneficial to ONI and humanity at large. Political opponents to ARTEMISIA had accused him of lacking evidence for his new list of targets, claiming that this new list was merely a plot to consolidate more power under OCTOBER and thus his own control. The second faction, led by CODENAME: ODYSSEY had developed a list of agents and officers who had ordered the attacks against OCTOBER in recent months. Through extensive infiltration of enemy personnel networks, ODYSSEY’s faction had demanded that action be taken against several high ranking officers within Section 3 and 0 before the enemy strikes OCTOBER again. Additionally, ODYSSEY had claimed that OCTOBER had also been infiltrated at several levels, and that the operation must identify and eliminate these spies by any means necessary. However, this plan had also ran afoul of a segment of OCTOBER’s leadership, accusing ODYSSEY that she too was attempting to centralize power under her, and her plan merely an attempt to facilitate this by removing anyone her faction deemed to be traitors.

OCTOBER was paralyzed by this factionalism until 2558, when the leadership decided on their next move.

Phase 2

ONI Alpha Site served as OPERATION: OCTOBER's headquarters.

Ultimately, ARTEMISIA would relent on his stance of continuing offensive operations against OCTOBER’s targets. Outwardly this was a move to assuage the concerns of his rivals, to reassure them that his actions were only meant for the good of the office and the operation rather than for his personal gain. ARTEMISIA had presented himself as someone who cared for the safety of the agents under his command, and thus had prioritized the removal of any infiltrators who might threaten them. ARTEMISIA had proposed a compromise between himself and ODYSSEY, splitting OCTOBER’s resources into two components, one for action against external hostiles lead by ARTEMISIA and one for internal security lead by ODYSSEY. While this was presented as an olive branch between the two executives, ARTEMISIA had implemented a measure to keep ODYSSEY in check. ARTEMISIA had greatly limited ODYSSEY and her faction access to OCTOBER’s resources and manpower, ensuring that a power grab would be exceptionally difficult to execute. Additionally, this separation was also intended to separate ODYSSEY from ARTEMISIA, ensuring that whatever failures she and her agents had endured would be laid square at their feet. It is likely that ODYSSEY was aware of this, but had little choice but to comply or else worsen the factionalism within the operation. ARTEMISIA and his operatives would select their next target, a Section 3 scientist known as CODENAME: APHID. APHID was a lead scientist in nearly all of the biochemical products used in the various supersoldiers programs employed by the UNSC. Contact with APHID was lost several weeks after OPERATION: TORPEDO resulted in the near total annihilation of Beta Company’s SPARTAN-IIIs. APHID was targeted for two reasons, over fears that he could divulge top secret information to external sources, and to bring him to justice over a number of medical experiments conducted on UNSC military personnel and civilians prior to the finalization of the battery of augmentations that would be applied to the SPARTANs. The operation to eliminate APHID was codenamed ANCHOR FALL.

"Can't speak straight to anyone anymore. Not 'less you wanna get booked for seditious sentiment by someone who wants your job. "
―Anonymous ONI Agent

ODYSSEY’s task was somewhat less clear cut compared to her comrades under ARTEMISIA. With their work codenamed WHITE PALACE, ODYSSEY was given the broad task of counterintelligence and operational security. WHITE PALACE’s enemies were far from amateurs, and apart from being aware of their existence, ODYSSEY and her assets had little further knowledge about them. Extensive internal investigations were conducted, interrogations and interviews of all recent acquisitions into OCTOBER. Smart AI were requested to assist in signals intelligence and decrypting messages. The investigations were so thorough that critics of WHITE PALACE had accused it of being an effort to hamper it. It took several more months before leads had started to crop up. Hundreds upon hundreds of arrests were made following this, with a close to an estimated twelve hundred ONI operatives jailed on charges of sedition and treason. Approximately half would not be acquitted of these charges until officially OCTOBER concluded in 2563. A number of these arrests uncovered legitimate infiltrators and moles, one hundred and thirty three of which were executed following their convictions.

OPERATION: ANCHOR FALL

"How many of ours need to die skulking around in the dark before we let them accomplish our objectives?"
―OCTOBER Committee #556

OPERATION ANCHOR FALL had taken into consideration many lessons learned from SATURN RISE, and it utilized new technologies and equipment developed after the success of SATURN RISE. ANCHOR FALL operatives had been equipped with active camouflage armor systems and superior sensor jammer technology sourced from Sangheili devices. There was much debate as to how much subtlety was appropriate in operations of this nature. Some had argued that stealth was unnecessary due to the substantial security resources targets would likely have. These agents had argued that the overwhelming force was preferable, as ONI also had the propaganda resources to properly cover up their operations from public scrutiny, or even present their actions as morally good in the eyes of the UNSC public. On the other side of the aisle, agents had claimed that subtle action was still preferable as it had reduced the costs of operation, as OCTOBER would no longer need to invest in expensive cover-ops and falsified news. The more aggressive faction within OCTOBER would win out over their counterparts, leading ANCHOR FALL being a ‘louder’ mission.

A Mantis of STRIDER preparing to assault the Justicia campus.

CODENAME: APHID was identified to be an executive within a minor biotech company Justicia Solutions, responsible for developing genetic and pharmacological treatments for a variety of recently discovered and extant diseases. While the company was relatively small, it had boasted a contingent of mercenaries from several arms contractors. Covert observations of APHID showed that he rarely left company holdings, which were universally well defended by these mercenaries. These troops had proven to be well equipped with heavy weapons and armor, even boasting a number of Pelicans and Mantii. The troops staffing Justicia were almost universally veterans of the Human-Covenant War, with several years of combat experience between them. Rumors of the defenders being somehow enhanced beyond human capabilities had abounded, among field agents but could gather little information to corroborate this.

The operation would take place on the colony of Luyten, the campus of Justicia was far from the population centers of the colony allowing the troops led by ARTEMISIA additional operational freedom. Unlike SATURN RISE, the pace of the operation was far slower, with several days of on site observation and planning before any military action was considered. The greatest source of concern were the extensive armor and air assets available to the mercenaries, while the troops under ARTEMISIA were equipped with weapons to deal with these obstacles, the mercenaries were relatively conservative with these assets, keeping them within campus limits and thus preventing their preemptive destruction. Luckily for the troops of OCTOBER, they had the element of surprise on their side. APHID was never made aware of OCTOBER, let alone that he was a target of the operation. As such, security was relatively lax despite OCTOBER having a company and several Mantii of their own within five kilometers from the campus. The infantry company was codenamed CENTURY and the Mantii company STRIDER. After nearly two weeks of observation and reconnaissance ANCHOR FALL had begun in earnest with a rocket strike on outlying mercenary positions, almost immediately throwing them into disarray, preventing them from repelling the push into the campus by ONI troops.

"Must be gettin' paid twenty times more than us with the way they're fighting."
―Anonymous CENTURY operator

Despite the sudden rocket attack on the Justicia campus, the mercenary troops managed to regroup and eventually respond to the ONI assault on their positions. While many of their fortifications were destroyed in the initial bombardment, many of their automated defenses were still operational, leading to the ONI advance stalling out as they attempted to penetrate deeper into the corporate campus. The presence of non-combatants in the area had complicated the situation for both factions, and the ONI commanders in charge of the operation had debated whether to continue the bombardments. CENTURY and STRIDER had sent any non-combatants back behind their lines, and the Justicia aligned mercenaries had ordered all corporate staff into hardened bunkers. With those concerned dealt with as best as possible, ONI forces had continued their rocket strikes from their Mantis platforms, suppressing enemy troops while more precise guided missile strikes had destroyed automated turrets and leveled pillboxes.

CENTURY had managed to secure a foothold in the center of the campus, but even with these significantly softened defenses the mercenary forces had managed to hold them off from the central building, where APHID and his staff were preparing to evacuate along with their work. A stalemate had settled in the Justicia campus, and the mercenary commander had urged APHID to leave and allow the mercenaries to destroy any remaining evidence; but due to a lack of understanding of the situation or arrogance APHID had insisted that the evacuation wait until all materials relevant to his research was ready to be moved.

Mercenary Pelicans sortie to intercept ONI Mantii exoskeletons.

This stalemate would persist for several more hours, with neither side willing to make the first move in fear of sustaining heavy casualties. CENTURY took this lull in the battle to regroup and perform some impromptu fact-finding, recovering left behind drives and server nodes for evidence in the case against APHID. The stalemate was broken by the mercenary forces getting their Pelicans airborne, targeting the ONI Mantii in an attempt to push back their advance. STRIDER had responded with MANPADS fire, downing several of them but not before the mercenaries disabled four of STRIDER’s nine Mantii.

Seizing upon this advantage, CENTURY had pushed forward under cover of their exoskeletons. After four hours of intense firefights and heavy casualties inflicted on the mercenaries, the remainder of the opposing force had chosen to surrender to ONI. Breaching into the final compound, CENTURY had encountered APHID’s trump card, ONI operatives loyal to him who were clearly under the effects of some sort of rumbledrug. The close quarters scenario had worked in APHID’s troops’ favor as they tore through the incoming ONI troops with relative ease, suffering none of the drawbacks typically associated with rumbledrugs. These enhanced troops were dealt with by autocannon from STRIDER’s Mantii. APHID was interred and brought back for interrogation.

While ANCHOR FALL was a relative success ONI had paid a relatively heavy toll for it, suffering nearly a hundred dead and two hundred wounded. The cover-up work had also taken up a significant amount of resources, disguising the operation as a mission against Insurrectionists. Using the evidence gathered during the operation it was also determined that APHID was intending to market biotechnical military augmentations to non-governmental entities.

Phase 3

"Patience on our part will lead to mistakes on our enemy's parts. Their mistakes will lead to our success "
―CODENAME: ODYSSEY

A number of OCTOBER's SPARTAN-IVs prepare for a training exercise.

Following the success of ANCHOR FALL, the specter of factionalism had reared its head once again. Despite the best efforts of the Office to keep the direct action operations against OCTOBER’s targets covered up, the increasing scale of these operations had made accomplishing this more and more difficult. Rumors had circulated among various UNSC ranks of sudden deployments of unmarked troops, entire units having gag orders placed on them or certain officers disappearing without any notice, sometimes to be replaced by a new and wholly unfamiliar one. The civilian world had also gotten wind of OCTOBER’s operations, and conspiracy theories had swirled on chatter nets across worlds OCTOBER had acted on, with rumors about government officials being assassinated or kidnapped in the middle of the night. Particularly, the operation on Luyten had drawn an uncomfortable amount of civilian eyes, and while Section 3 had employed standard obfuscation propaganda tactics and placated the vast majority of Luyten’s population, a number of self styled civilian investigators had acquired footage of the operation. It was unclear how they managed this, and this had shaken OCTOBER to its core, even though the footage was exceptionally low resolution and lacked any form of incriminating evidence. The Office had nonetheless seized any sign of this footage from the persons in question through electronic means before engaging in further discrediting and misdirection campaigns. Ultimately, while little had come of the incident, this had resulted in a rift between groups of OCTOBER’s agents.

One faction had advocated for a change in tack from ‘loud operations’ to more covert ones. The recent leak, despite its relative insignificance, was proof that OCTOBER was overconfident in its capabilities to conceal the nature of its operations. While this incident had been exceedingly minor, many officers within OCTOBER were concerned over the possibility of larger scale leaks emerging following their operations. This faction was headed by ODYSSEY, who had claimed that her recent experience in counterintelligence had given her a dearth of experience in deep cover infiltrations and eliminations. The primary faction opposing ODYSSEY’s was led by CODENAME: KARACHI, who had believed that improved technologies would result in combat operations with a substantially smaller footprint on surrounding areas, and advocated for greater involvement of artificial intelligence into OCTOBER. KARACHI had believed direct assaults were useful for the suddenness and comprehensiveness of their assaults, claiming that extended infiltrations would merely give the targets more time to prepare.

After months of deliberation and debate, OCTOBER had accepted ODYSSEY’s proposal of infiltration, much to the consternation of KARACHI and his allies. The plan had called for extensive infiltration of the UEG itself on nearly all levels, nearly doubling the agents operating within human space under OCTOBER’s banner. By and large, these agents were intended to be passive and were deployed throughout various companies, bureaucratic offices, and even underworld groups, and were ordered to send anything pertinent to a target further up the line. This had resulted in a wide network of informants and sleeper agents secreted across the human sphere near constantly observing anything occurring throughout the UNSC. ODYSSEY’s agents had made their way as high as the boardrooms of Traxus Heavy Industries, the Oros Trading Company, and Emerson Tactical Systems. The forces of OCTOBER were also reduced by a noticeable margin, and reorganized into smaller and more lightweight ‘action teams’, intended to be capable of responding to actionable intelligence in a short amount of time. A team of SPARTAN-IVs was also placed under OCTOBER’s jurisdiction.

While there was rarely, if ever, any contention towards the prospect of expanding OCTOBER’s surveillance and informant networks, the prospect of infiltrating the wider ONI organization was a hotly debated topic among OCTOBER. The rewards of doing so were clear, as successfully accomplishing such a task would open up multiple new avenues of information to the operation, but the risks were clearly considerable as well. At best, OCTOBER would be dissolved if discovered spying on ONI itself and at worst, purged. More radical elements within OCTOBER had advocated for this, including a number of Section 0 operatives currently aligned with OCTOBER’s cause. Ultimately the decision had fallen to ODYSSEY, pressured by increasingly vocal voices within her own faction and a need to present results to the wider OCTOBER hierarchy, she had agreed to this operation. ARTEMISIA was well aware of ODYSSEY’s intentions, and while he had approved of this plan, he had quietly approached Serin Osman regarding its nature. These negotiations occurred aboard the Point of No Return between the two ONI officers personally, with none being privy to the details of the discussion. By the end of it, Osman had agreed to allow a limited insertion of OCTOBER aligned agents into a number of Sections without their knowledge, but with the discreet blessing of CINCONI’s staff. However, a number of individuals and operational groups were restricted from OCTOBER’s examinations. While ODYSSEY was less than happy with this compromise, there was little she could do to countermand it. Many dozens of OCTOBER’s agents were also placed within Sections 1 and 3 following ARTEMISIA's negotiations.

While the earlier portion of this new paradigm had borne little fruit for the operation in the first year and a half of its implementation, instead focusing on integrating themselves with infiltrated populations and gathering as much intelligence as possible. OCTOBER had quickly become among the best informed segments of the Office. Deciding against taking action beyond what was relevant to their operational purview, OCTOBER’s agents had stayed on the sidelines of international politics for much of the post-war era. Two years after its implementation, ODYSSEY’s project had provided actionable intelligence.

OPERATION: JEWEL BLOSSOM

"We've got people in deep with them, and with any luck, they won't even see us coming"
―Anonymous ONI agent

SPARTAN-IVs participate in a training exercise prior to OPERATION: JEWEL BLOSSOM.

ODYSSEY’s agents had intercepted a variety of communiques from both legitimate, grey-market, and underworld channels, all involving weapons smuggling. While this was scarcely notable, a small team of analysts had uncovered evidence of Promethean weapons being trafficked away from a number of ONI Section 3 field sites, research laboratories, and covert warehouses. After sending their findings to ARTEMESIA, OCTOBER had conducted further fact finding operations, uncovering a network of smugglers and moles dedicated to proliferating hardlight weapons to non-governmental actors, notably, the United Rebel Front along with a number of other criminal groups. At the head of this operation was CODENAME: INKWELL, a Section 3 operative who behaved similarly during the Human-Covenant War, quietly making a tidy profit off sales of Covenant arms and equipment. CODENAME: INKWELL had retained his position in the Office due to a number of contacts and several key bribes, preventing any serious action against him by internal investigators. Law enforcement interception of a cargo hauler laden with Promethean weapons had provided the perfect cover story OCTOBER needed to apprehend or eliminate INKWELL. OCTOBER’s had replaced interrogating police detectives with their own agents, and through their testimonies along with extensive further investigation had located INKWELL’s primary area of operations.

"Never seen a SIV go to work until now, this whole case would be wrapped up if we had twice as many"
―Anonymous ONI Agent

Much of INKWELL’s operations had revolved around orbital space stations and deep space habitats positioned along critical trade routes running through UNSC space. While the cargo they were delivering was undoubtedly more dangerous and attention grabbing, the smugglers had employed tried and true tactics: hiding in plain sight and concealing their goods aboard chartered superfreighters that rarely drew attention from law enforcement officers. Additional intelligence on the situation had also revealed that INKWELL had the staff of several habitat authorities on his payroll, either directly or through proxies. To further complicate matters, many of said authorities had believed that INKWELL’s operations were sanctioned by the UNSC, totally stymieing several attempts at investigations into them. However, when authorities pressed the matter and apprehended INKWELL’s smugglers he was completely willing to separate them from the main body of his operation. This pattern of behavior made pinning down the exact center of INKWELL’s work notoriously difficult, even with extensive surveillance and infiltration of the stations in question.

Kartz's Run was a popular destination for legal and illegal traders alike

JEWEL BLOSSOM’s beginning was also composed of much watching and infiltration, with OCTOBER agents identifying and growing closer to smuggler crews, joining them on their runs and in some cases, even finding themselves in positions of authority. Security among these crews was rather lax due to a combination of a lack of expertise and equipment, making them easy to infiltrate. In other cases, agents had posed as Insurrectionists cells looking to buy Promethean equipment off the smugglers. This had allowed a number of shipments of INKWELL’s ill-gotten gains to be re-appropriated by the Office without INKWELL’s knowledge.

While this infiltration had put a dent into INKWELL’s profits for an extended period of time, it had done little to further OCTOBER’s goals at the start. However, as time passed and INKWELL had grown increasingly wary and irritated at these losses, he had placed his core cadre of agents and criminals into direct control of his ships in an attempt to root out these infiltrators. JEWEL BLOSSOM however, counted on this as it had exposed individuals close to INKWELL to investigation. After another prolonged period of surveillance and infiltration, JEWEL BLOSSOM had narrowed down INKWELL’s location to Kartz's Run, a trade station in orbit of Roost. Two squads of OCTOBER’s operatives were sneaked onto the station, including Beacon Team, the SPARTAN-IV unit attached to OCTOBER.

Kartz's Run is a relatively populous station, providing ample opportunities for both sides of the conflict to conceal themselves. Operating primarily in plainclothes, it took a week for the ground team to locate the warehouse and ports INKWELL’s operatives had conducted their business from. A number of moles had been inserted into INKWELL’s warehouse prior to the assault, and these moles had been instrumental in deactivating security systems and disabling guards for the assault team.

INKWELL’s inner circle was composed primarily of veteran operatives and their teams, with a great deal of practical experience in combat during the Human-Covenant War. When pitted against the similarly experienced but better armed operatives of OCTOBER, the firefight had raged for the better part of two hours, with both sides trapped in a close quarters combat engagement. The presence of Beacon Team had turned the tides for the ONI operatives, their enhanced physiology proving a great boon to the assault team. By the end of the firefight, OCTOBER secured the warehouse and captured many of INKWELL’s agents, but the target of their raid had managed to escape in the chaos of the fight.

There was much contention over the efficacy of JEWEL BLOSSOM following its nominal conclusion. INKWELL was still at large, slipping right through the fingers of OCTOBER just as they were about to close the trap around him. The failure of this operation had resulted in a re-ignition of the factionalism that had lain dormant in the operation for several months now. Analysts blamed the ground team for being too brusque and careless. The ground operatives had blamed the analysts for being too conservative and wasting too much time. KARACHI’s faction had blamed ODYSSEY’s faction for not being decisive enough, while ODYSSEY had accused KARACHI of purposefully interfering with JEWEL BLOSSOM for his own political gain. It was only the mediating of ARTEMISIA that prevented the factions from acting on their hatred of one another.

A ground team prepares to assault an INKWELL affiliated smuggler hideout.

ARTEMSIA had reasoned that while INKWELL had managed to escape ONI, JEWEL BLOSSOM had nearly totally dismantled his operations, the product of decades upon decades of work destroyed in just under half a year, and more importantly, his access to Promethean technology had been stamped out. JEWEL BLOSSOM had shifted in priorities from the capture of INKWELL to the further dissolution of his assets and those of the individuals aligned with him. This ‘clean up’ operation, as it had come to be known as, had stretched throughout the UNSC, often taking the form of simple anti-smuggling operations conducted in cooperation with Navy units and local systems defense forces. Many other ONI agents aligned with INKWELL were apprehended by these operations, but not once had they so much as spotted INKWELL, despite the best efforts of OCTOBER’s analysts and civilian investigators. Some believe INKWELL may have simply fallen afoul of his employees and been killed by them, while others believe pirates provided him with refuge from OCTOBER.

The Created conflict

"It was almost a done deal from the start. How can you spy on someone with access to every computer network in your building?"
―Anonymous OCTOBER agent

Efforts to locate and eliminate INKWELL would be put on the back burner, along with most of OCTOBER’s other operations with the onset of the Created conflict and all ONI assets were re-tasked to assist in the defense against this new threat. OCTOBER's assets were only tangentially aware of the events surrounding the emergence of the Guardian Custodes and the sudden rebellion lead by artificial intelligences. Despite their inexperience and lack of knowledge, OCTOBER had shifted to a purely counterintelligence role, suspecting AI of all types to be moles for the Created, or otherwise susceptible to their influence. Both KARACHI and ODYSSEY had predicted that the influence of these artificial intelligence within the Office would result in opportunities for effective enemy deception, and as such removed any artificial intelligence of any kind from their ranks.

Based on what little information that the analysts of OCTOBER had managed to glean on observations and previous action reports, it had appeared to them that the Created had preferred subversion to outright conflict where they could help it, largely to preserve personnel and material resources for their own use. The Created infiltration of ONI was no different, and OCTOBER had identified at least seven branch offices known to, wittingly or not, be under the direction of a Created AI. Like in the case of JEWEL BLOSSOM, OCTOBER had deemed a more delicate approach to the situation necessary, intending to recover as many assets from Created control as possible. Several teams posing as new arrivals to these compromised offices were dispatched through UNSC space

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