Halo: Evolutions, Volume I

Page 33

Theirs is a connection,
deeper than circuitry
Beyond that of man and machine
deeper still; the electric flash of synapse
It is bound in destiny; fortified in trust
deeper than blood
greater than love
Theirs is a union
the ―Demon" and the goddess
the warrior and the intellect
Built for destruction
Created for war
To deliver peace; through force and fire
Against an enemy from beyond the stars
Advanced and devout
In their wake; only glass
and the echoed screams of the dying
Threatened by oblivion;
Tested by the promise of eternity
Yet they remain;
these two as one
Somewhere, out amongst the vast cold of the universe proper
They journey forth, into the unknown
This princess, of light and reason
This weapon, of flesh and bone
The purpose of this analysis is to find the final resting place of Preston J. Cole (UNSC Service Number: 00814-13094-BQ) for what I surmise to be the answer to the political, sociological, and military conundrum the UNSC now faces with the post–Covenant War situation.
Please spare me the plausible denials and ―need to knows" about the reason for requesting this analysis.
I know.
Otherwise, you wouldn't have asked me in the first place.
To ascertain if such a final resting place even exists, or if the redoubtable Cole rests at all, is not a straightforward query, and I'm afraid my analysis will be less than straightforward as well.
Even if you pierce the veil of propaganda and discount the vast number of Cole's victories, promotions, and decorations as nothing more than engineered drama to prop up our population's then-sinking morale-Preston Cole still has an unparalleled battle record . . . even far and away more impressive than the legendary Spartan-IIs. He was the greatest hero in modern times, a legend before, and in spite of, our meddling.
I shall add commentary for historical context and psychological analysis, but these depend
primarily on the available interviews, orders, after-action reports-as well as audio, video, and AI-enhanced holographic bridge and battle logs.
You'll forgive me if I wax long and poetic about Preston Cole. We knew him, we loved him, and finally we hated him for being the less-than-perfect military god that we had come to depend upon.
Cole would not approve of this report-only because he is the subject of the inquiry. He at least would have understood and, also being a cunning bastard of a military strategist, he would do the same in our shoes.
To quote Cole himself: ―They told me to fight, and that's what I've done. Let historians sort through the wreckage, bodies, and broken lives to figure out the rest."
Which is precisely what I intend to do.
Preston Jeremiah Cole was born to Jennifer Francine Cole and Troy Henry Cole November 3, 2470, in the rural reconstituted township of Mark Twain, Missouri. He was the third child of seven (three sisters and three brothers).
He was described as a precocious child who obeyed his parents, had wild black hair, dark brown eyes, and an unwavering stare that unnerved most teachers and classmates alike.
His father was a dairy farmer with no criminal record, no military background, and followed the Quaker faith with no particular zeal.
His mother was arrested once at the age of twenty-one for protesting taxes (released on one-year parole), and both her grandfathers served in the Rain Forest Wars (one surviving, received the Bronze Star-see attached report on Captain Oliver Franks).
Starting in 2310, exploration and colony ships were built, and the best and brightest people left the safety of the Earth to make their way to the stars. This was the "Golden Age" of colonial expansion from Earth. Within 180 years, the main human colonies had been established-some becoming huge population and commerce centers such as Reach, while others would remain tiny manufacturing outposts. This collection of "close" worlds would later be called the Inner Colonies.
The Inner Colonies provided a surplus of raw goods, materials, and taxes that flooded back to the parent government on Earth. For most it was a time of plenty, optimism, and indolence unparalleled since second-century Rome or the financial bubble at the end of twentieth-century America.
For the Cole family, however, tax records show his family struggling to make ends meet.
Preston Cole's Fifth Grade Report Card
Missouri Rain River School District
Wallace Fujikawa Elementary School
Homeroom Teacher: Dr. Lillian Bratton
Preston J. Cole (Student ID #: LB-0034)
Physical Education: B-
Pre-Algebra: A
English: B
Art: C
Physical Science: A
Technology II: A
Finchy-Franks Intelligence Quotient: 147
Sociability: Below Average
Leadership: Average
Classroom Participation: Below Average
Citizenship: Above Average
Preston requires guidance to reach his full potential. A boy of high natural intellect, he tends to work too hard even when he plays. He overanalyzes every strategy when he plays baseball, slowing the games to a crawl. If he does not know how to do something, he looks it up, or if possible derives it (in the case of Mr. Martin's pre-algebra class) from first principles. These traits in and of themselves are admirable, but he also needs to cultivate his imagination. In short, Preston never seems to have fun. Everything is a task to be finished. Preston also falls asleep in class on a regular basis; I would suggest that his chores or responsibilities at home be relaxed. He is, after all, only ten years old.
Confidential Note: Wallace Fujikawa Elementary School
database / March 12, 2481 (Military Calendar)
The incident in Mr. Martin's pre-algebra class has been settled. A makeup final exam has been given, and Preston was carefully monitored the entire time. He produced another perfect test score, proving to William (Mr. Martin) that he did not cheat, although a perfect score (let alone two perfect scores) is a feat that has never been accomplished on the standardized pre-algebra final.
Preston's father continues to defend his son's driven nature and his family's antiquated beliefs, insisting that Preston's education at home has far and away exceeded what is taught at school. He went on to say that his chores were necessary to the family's financial support and absolutely refused any suggestion that they apply for government aid.
Follow-up with a social worker at the Preston household bore no evidence of physical or
psychological abuse when they made a visit at the school district's request .
{Excerpt} The Viability of Extended Colonization By Preston J. Cole (age 14)
Freshman English / Miss Alexander
Grade received: B
(Teacher's comments: ―Thesis: B / Conclusions: C / Too much speculation and gratuitous use of Yeats quotation")
The metaphor of a biological system, for example a population of wolves or fungus growth in a Petri dish, is tempting to apply to colonial expansion.
There can be three fates for any biological system. It may grow as long as there are sufficient nutrients, a suitable environment, and no over-predation-the system can enter a balance state of growth and loss-or the system may decline from over-predation, lack of nutrients, environmental disaster, or being poisoned by its own waste products.
Off-world colonies similarly require a stable environment with suitable food and water, and no over-predation. It is considered an open system because there are limitless numbers of habitable planets. (Or at least a very large number within the Milky Way Galaxy. See my Drake calculation assumptions in Appendix B.)
Human colonies, however, differ in one critical aspect: they are, by rule, inhabited by predictably intelligent entities. The values of these entities can diverge from the parent world with each successive generation. That is, while colonies directly seeded from Earth remain very earthlike in social, economic, and political values, they change with successive generations as they adapt to local environmental pressures, and in turn send out new colonies farther in physical distance and values from the original parent.
Such diversification in biological systems is a normal evolutionary process, but it produces offspring that are increasingly alien in nature to the parent.
Such was the case of colonial expansion in early Earth history, most notably in the British colonies in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Those colonies diverged from their parent nations and their resulting different social and economic values culminated in a schism, and in one notable case a war that resulted in a shift in the balance of power, such that one former colony became the dominant military, cultural and industrial complex on Earth for hundreds of years.
How long can Earth and its close colonies extend without producing offspring that differ
sufficiently to want to break away from the parent? As William Butler Yeats said: ―The center cannot hold."
The Cole family farm was an anomaly. Most small Earth farms couldn't compete with colonial
agro-corporations that could produce ten times the yield on worlds with constant sunlight and volcanic alluvial soils. The Cole farm, however, still exists (after eight generations) and continues to operate. This family instilled a no-nonsense work ethic and discipline in Preston Cole that made him
―anachronistic" in comparison to the population at the time who were enjoying the benefits of the still-expansive colonial era and whose most noteworthy ability was a sense of entitlement.
Perhaps it also gave Preston Cole a clarity which many at the time lacked. Reading his freshman essay, one cannot help but think that this must be a fabrication of ONI Section-II, a remnant fiction from an earlier propaganda campaign. And yet, it has been verified as legitimate. What would Cole have become had his teacher shared even a fraction of his insight and encouraged it? This boy whom the elementary teacher decried as lacking ―imagination" was damn near prophetic.
Cole's grades, however, continually slipped in high school-we assume from the boredom of the standardized coursework and the increasing demands of his life on the farm.
No journals have been found from his adolescent years, and it is doubtful that his family situation would encourage such activities, so we're forced to speculate on his aspirations.
Cole was surrounded by a world of excesses and opportunities that were just out of his reach. He was highly intelligent, but had no creative outlet. Given the mass media's predilection for romanticizing off-world adventures at that time, Cole may have seen the colonies and stellar exploration as an irresistible opportunity which he could not pass up.
Given his limited economic means and lack of excellence within the templates and strictures of a standardized educational system, there was only one way for him to seek his fortune off-world.
(2488–2489 CE)
The policy at that time was to allow any college graduate or promising student out of high school with superior grades (or the right connections) to enter prestigious military colleges that virtually guaranteed a commission upon graduation.
The requirement of mandatory noncommissioned field experience before application to officer training schools was instituted only later, when it became clear that such officers would be responsible for irreplaceable military assets and personnel-and, in the Covenant War, the lives of millions of civilians on the worlds they protected. Preston Cole was one of the first admirals to implement such a policy, saying, "Those not bloodied in combat have no business leading men and women into battle."
The just-graduated Preston Cole (age eighteen) had neither the grades nor the connections to attend such officer training academies. So he enlisted as a noncommissioned recruit in the Navy. He was ordered to Unified Combined Military Boot Camp (UCMB), and then shipped up-elevator for six additional weeks of vacuum and microgravity training (colloquially known, then, as now, as
"barf school"). Upon his graduation as Crewman Recruit Cole he was ordered aboard the
CMA Season of Plenty, assigned to atmospheric reclamation maintenance duty.
{Excerpt} Preston J. Cole's Military Service Enlistment
Application / September 21, 2488 (Military Calendar)
WHY DO YOU WANT TO ENLIST? (answer in 100 words or less)
―Humanity's future is among the stars. There is no single more important thing than to help men and women build new lives on distant worlds. I have no illusion that this is some manifest destiny, but rather, it is the only logical place left for humanity to evolve. I plan to be a part of that, learn as much as possible, and then one day become one of those humans on some distant world, on a little farm of my own under a night sky full of stars that I've never before seen."
Evaluation of Cole, P. J. (UNSC Service Number: 00814-13094-BQ) by Petty Officer Second Class Graves, L. P. (UNSC Service Number: 00773-04652-KK) / UCMB Sierra Largo /
November 3, 2488 (Military Calendar)
Completed all requisite physical tests: YES
Displayed any mental aberrations: NO
Combined Arms Skill Test (CAST): 78 (Above Average)
Combined Physical Skill Test (CPST): 65 (Average)
Gratney-Walis Hierarchical Aptitude Score: (GWAS): 94
Remarks: Follows orders without question beyond what is required. Keeps mouth shut. Shows initiative. Hard worker. How often do we see that these days? Move this kid onto NCO track before someone makes him a dammed technical specialist or we lose him to OCS.

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