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Owl Sector Logo

Owl Sector was an alternate reality game created to build up hype for Destiny's last expansion, Rise of Iron.


From Destiny Wiki[1]

On September 15, 2016,[2] players began reporting that their Guardian characters were receiving several unusual buffs. When some players who were streaming on Twitch received the buff, a user named owl_sector[3] appeared in the chat and said, "We've detected an unidentified foreign intrusion into your systems, Guardian. Stay calm. We will investigate."[4] The owl_sector Twitch profile linked to owlsector.bungie.net,[5] which showed a blank world map and a message at the top:


Transmission Buffs

World Map of the transmission buffs

There were five different transmission buffs:[4]

  • Brilliance 3.2 (green)
  • Glory 2.1 (white)
  • Splendor 2.6 (yellow)
  • Magnificence 2.0 (blue)
  • Fortitude 3.1 (pink)

They were obtained seemingly at random by starting strikes or getting kills in the Crucible, apparently spread by other players.[4][6] They provided an experience and reputation boost for a short time.[4]

Owl Sector Records[]

As more players became infected with the transmission and received the buffs, the world map started lighting up, and message logs corresponding with the transmission names became available on the Owl Sector website.[4]

  • SHU = Shun
  • QUI = Quist
  • BER = Berriole
  • RAM = Ramos
  • IR = Ikora Rey
  • CY6 = Cayde-6
  • ZAV = Commander Zavala

Brilliance 3.2[]

Owl Sector Internal, OS-I6 1

SHU: How long since we last convened? QUI: I can still recall the Dawn Calamity, so not long enough. BER: I've got consistent and strange reports coming in from across the system. SHU: Try me. BER: A few Guardians in the field report being swarmed by some kind of electronic mite. The first few after visiting the Dust Palace on Mars, but the rest from all over. SHU: How bad? BER: Fantastic, apparently. At least, that's what they're yelling over comms. Is happy shouting a medical issue? Do we take this to the Vanguard? QUI: Ikora first. The Hidden might know something.

Owl Sector Internal, OS-I6 2

SHU: Berriole's deployed on Mars, Quist is whimpering in the corner— QUI: Slander. SHU: Correction to the record. Quist is curled up in the corner, making noises of outrage— RAM: Officially, the Vanguard suggestion of quarantine was implemented and shortly afterwards reversed due to irreparable ineffectiveness. Unofficially, they laughed at Quist. Refer to Quist's notes, which will be released to all of the Owl Sector after appropriate redactions. I remind the Sector that public records can be read by children; please word reports accordingly. Next steps? SHU: Segregating affected Guardians is impossible at this time. But limiting civilian exposure is still possible. Critical, in fact. RAM: Guardians are more likely to respect exclusion from the City than confinement to our hospital wing. SHU: I don't want to see the effects of this tech mite on those without the Traveler's Light. I'll talk to Ikora. QUI: She still talks to you? SHU: I'm Liaison to the Vanguard. It's my job. Besides, I'm irresistibly charming. RAM: Even if? SHU: Even if.

Owl Sector Internal, OS-I6 3

RAM: Berriole found a trove of laboratory notes in a locked section of the Dust Palace. Some dead scientist named Shirazi. Some forgotten experiment under the auspices of Willa Bray. QUI: She's good as a bloodhound for secrets. SHU: You could use a bit more sheepdog, yourself. RAM: Our Guardians will honor the ban on City travel. This has been relayed on all channels as far as Saturn. QUI: They might have honored the quarantine. SHU: They're Guardians, Quist. Means the Light has cooked their brains. Haven't you seen them dancing in the Plaza, for no reason, with no music at all? We'll take what we can get.

Owl Sector Internal, OS-I6 4

QUI: Did you see this dispatch of Berriole's?

Z. SHIRAZI CB-PZ-1.2 Regrettably, Patient B entered a coma minutes after injection with Brilliance 3.2. Vital signs remain normal. Homeostasis preserved. While cause for concern, I do not think it necessary to table this study and will proceed.

RAM: If that's the effect on civilians— QUI: It might have been temporary. But— RAM: The decision to lock down the City was wise.

SHU: Thank you, thank you. Really, it's too much.

Glory 2.1[]

Owl Sector Debrief to Ikora Rey, OS-I6 1

IR: So what you're telling me is that an unknown substance or virus or curse is spreading among our Guardians. SHU: I wouldn't put it that way, but yes. IR: What are you doing about it? SHU: We thought we'd ask you. It's not like anything we've seen before. We thought you or the Hidden might know. IR: Nothing in my experience resembles this. SHU: For what it's worth, our Guardians aren't worried. It's a carnival out there. IR: But you and I know— SHU: We do.

Owl Sector Debrief to Ikora Rey, OS-I6 2

SHU: We are in agreement, then. IR: As much as I ever agree with you.

Owl Sector Debrief to Ikora Rey, OS-I6 3 IR: Your team is observing strict sterilization, firewall, and decontamination procedures, I hope. SHU: It's touching to know you still care. IR: The effects on ordinary humans, Awoken, and EXOs are unknown, and I'd rather not experiment. SHU: The great Ikora Rey doesn’t want to know? IR: There are higher priorities in this situation. SHU: You'd be worried sick if I caught the mite. IR: The suffering of any lessens us all. SHU: C'mon, Korrie. IR: Liaison Shun, please confirm your operating procedures. SHU: Standard Amber 6 protocol, no deviations. IR: That will be everything, thank you.

Owl Sector Debrief to Ikora Rey, OS-I6 4

SHU: Have you seen this?


Patient E, Jun, has been uncooperative. Laughed unpleasantly when I told him he would receive Glory 2.1.

"You're running prototypes in parallel because it's cheaper and faster," he said. "No ethics board on Earth would approve. But I don't have a choice. I’m neck-deep in debt to Clovis Bray."

I wish we had tweaked these elixirs to modify disposition.

IR: You wished to introduce me to your Golden Age analogue? SHU: Ha. Ha. No, I thought you'd be interested in Jun. This kind of coercion isn't a known Clovis Bray practice. IR: Not in the books you read, perhaps. SHU: But it's in the record?

IR: It's in the record.

Splendor 2.6[]

Records of the Vanguard, OS-I6 1

CY6: I don't see the harm in it. A little mysterious fun, some ka-ching to our usual pew-pew. Didn't you take candy from strangers, when you were newborn in the Light? ZAV: No. I did not. IR: This isn't candy, Cayde. The Owl Sector reports a highly contagious armor systems override. If you'd stop clowning for a moment and think— ZAV: What protocols are the Owl Sector implementing? IR: The Liaison asked me what to do. CY6: That's a new one. IR: Both the Owl Sector and my Hidden have been unable to gain control of these overrides. I suggest quarantine as a stopgap. CY6: Lodging an objection, based on previous experience. ZAV: She's right, though. It's the best option at the moment. IR: The only option.

Records of the Vanguard, OS-6I 2

CY6: All right, what's the next option? IR: If you're so brilliant, you tell me. ZAV: I suppose we should have known better than to tell Guardians to stand still. CY6: It's not their strong suit. They’re not good at staying off my table, either. Stinkers. IR: Focus, Cayde. This is an emergency. CY6: You mean opportunity. ZAV: Cayde— CY6: I'd like some of that Splendor that I'm seeing on Guardians. I look good in yellow, and I'm due for an upgrade. ZAV: I am going to forbid you, Cayde. CY6: Always the life of the party. IR: We need you as you are. Healthy and in sound mind. CY6: All right, all right. I'll sit on my hands. This time.

Records of the Vanguard, OS-6I 3

ZAV: All Guardians are observing the prohibition on City visits. Ikora reports that appropriate crisis protocols are in place in the Owl Sector. CY6: A watch-and-wait operation? You know I'd rather be shooting something. Can we sprinkle some of this stuff on the Fallen? IR: Be careful what you wish for, Cayde. ZAV: The Bypass Authority's researches have borne some fruit, I hear? IR: It's slow going. I'm offering backup computational and decryption support, but she's fiercely self-sufficient, like most of the Owl Sector. CY6: You mean she isn't asking you for help. IR: I think she likes having secrets. CY6: That doesn't sound familiar at all. IR: In spite of my reservations, she's earned my commendation, Cayde. It's high-risk work for a civilian. ZAV: Speaking of civilians, this Dr. Shirazi troubles me. IR: Her choice of passphrase is interesting. As is her decision to lock each separate entry, a security precaution disproportionate to her project's classification as Level 2.

CY6: Not the probable association with a high-velocity technological mite that could bring the City's defenses to its knees? It's her passphrase that bothers you?

Magnificence 2.0[]

Report of Bypass Authority Berriole, OS-I6 1, for Owl Sector records, assigned to incident TRANSMISSION.

I have been tasked with returning to the Dust Palace on Mars, which as far as we know is the only link between the Guardians first affected by these overrides. Appropriate contamination equipment has been requisitioned, although specs are for the Dawn Calamity and have not been adjusted.

The Owl Sector has determined that our acutest need is information. Which is where I come in. The area of interest includes former Clovis Bray buildings, so I expect my skills in cryptography, biosignature falsification, and historical architecture to be thoroughly exercised.

Report of Bypass Authority Berriole, OS-I6 2, for Owl Sector records, assigned to incident TRANSMISSION.

Nothing unusual to report during approach and landing. Standard Cabal and Vex presence, still in conflict, and easily evaded. I was drawn to signs of disturbance in a section marked as unexplored. Following those signs, and unlocking the doors in my path, I climbed five floors to a derelict laboratory with a view of the rosy plains and a computer half buried in dust.


I love these vintage rigs. So graceful. So elegant. Mementos of a brighter time. They tend to be banged around a bit before I get my hands on them, but this one was pristine. I powered it up, ran a few traces and queries, and brought up the last authentication: one Dr. Shirazi, a scientist, working for Willa Bray. Something secret. The hashed password is twice the average length. I will submit my next report when I have cracked it.

Report of Bypass Authority Berriole, OS-I6 3, for Owl Sector records, assigned to incident TRANSMISSION.

Quist, Shun, I'm hearing the strangest things from you. Is everything shipshape?

At any rate, Dr. Shirazi's password was a combination of musical tones and a Persian phrase that loosely translates as "Remember who watches you."

Her entries are individually locked. The first is below, and more will follow.


I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to work with Clovis Bray. No more clawing for research grants. No more hopping universities. The volunteers enlisted for this study are likewise in good spirits.

Patient A, Susan, believes with all her heart in the colonization effort and will do anything to support it. Twelve hours have passed since injection with Magnificence 2.0. Her vital signs are strong, but she complains of phantom insects.

Report of Bypass Authority Berriole, OS-I6 4, for Owl Sector records, assigned to incident TRANSMISSION.


Patient A remains healthy and cheerful, despite a low buzzing in her ear. She has referred to the phantom insects so frequently and with such confidence that I'm starting to imagine them. Blue, darting things. There's a word for this phenomenon, where the patient's reality becomes the researcher's, but I do not remember it.

We did tag this variant with a blue colorant, for our own scans, but the patient should not have known. I will call it coincidence.

Fortitude 3.1[]

Report of Geographer Quist, OS-I6 1, for Owl Sector records, assigned to incident TRANSMISSION.

Current assignment is to quarantine and monitor the group of Guardians carrying overrides, care for any casualties, and so on. Easy peasy. No off-world missions and a dozen Guardians with flickering vision. My kind of job.

...Sorry, Shun, what was that?

Make that two hundred, then. Manageable.

...or a thousand.

...or ten thousand.

Oh Traveler...

Report of Geographer Quist, OS-I6 2, for Owl Sector records, assigned to incident TRANSMISSION.

Quarantine failed shortly after institution. Note to self: Corralling sick Guardians is one thing. Healthy, rambunctious Guardians, armed to the teeth and impatient to go back starside...

They threw things.

Shun modeled the outbreak for me after we retreated in disgrace. We are on track for total saturation of the Guardian population, excluding those off-duty, inside of a week.

Should any complications arise—which, since we're talking about a mysterious invasive technological override, is likely—the Tower will stand undefended, and the City will be helpless and vulnerable to attack.

Traveler's shadow, they're going to blame me.

How the ARG Was Solved[]

Tile 1

Tile Node

A few days after Rise of Iron launched, the Owl Sector website updated with a new line of text, "5552585355," at the top of the page[7] that linked to another website, www.bungie.net/Sim.[8] The website displayed a SIVA symbol and included the following information: a node of five symbols, an "information forwarding protocol," a "processing key," a "processing initialization vector," illegible text, and the lines "Node sensors have detected unprocessed information [Rijndael-AES-CBC]" and "Local resources insufficient to process data. Increase resources by combining processing keys with 7 other nodes, per Forwarding Protocol."[9]

Since this was a crowdsourced ARG, everyone had to forward all of their protocols to the same node on the SIM site. Redditor nanowatts[10] created owlsector.net, which linked to a Google Sheet that logged user-submitted SIM information results. Redditor jmpherso[11] asked users to share the following information the Google Sheet:

  1. Your node. This is 5 symbols. Pretty simple stuff. Example, Square Circle Diamond Triangle Square, or, SCDTS.
  2. Your "information forwarding protocol". This is how you find the "next in line" (who to forward your information to, get it!?). There are two options. An image with the symbols and clockwise arrows or counter clockwise arrows in one of 5 locations (the image always has the symbols the same), or 12345 -> reordered numbers. If you imagine this as a "filter" you apply to your node it's simple. Let's use my previous example node, SCDTS. Let's say the image is counter-clockwise arrows in the 2nd position. This means the Circle in the second position changes to a square. So the "next in line" is SSDTS.
  3. Processing key. This is kind of a confusing part because I'm not 100% on how this type of crypto works, but from my understanding we will combine all 8 of these to form a full "key" used to decrypt each wall of text correctly. I might not be 100% correct here, but that won't become apparent until we have all the data.
  4. Processing Initialization Vector. This is important for your wall of text only, but you'll need it for each wall of text among the 8 of you who link up.
Some pieces compiled

Nodes compiled together

Redditor thegrayfox89[12] was the first to successfully decrypt some nodes using this spreadsheet. He noticed JPEG information in some decoded HEX code, so he created a script that scanned the spreadsheet, created 32 byte keys from eight node sets, and then converted the resulting data into a .jpg. Eventually, there were over 900 small JPG files to decipher.[13][9] Redditor mg2brandon[14] helped with his own script, which also brightened the images (revealing more information) adding six more tiles to the set.[13]

More pieces

More nodes compiled

Redditor MockingDolphin[15] explained that users had the forwarding protocol wrong. At the time, users assumed that they had to apply the forwarding protocol to the associated node, but they were actually supposed to apply each forwarding protocol to the original starting node (the one whose illegible text they'd been decrypting), which led them to the next node and its processing key, whose forwarding protocol they'd apply to their original node again to get another new node. They had to repeat this process until they ended up with eight processing keys.[13]

Script map

Map from scripted compiling

When compiling some of the JPGs together, it was noticed that each tile had symbols around them, and that every tile "A" had the same four combinations of symbols facing it by the four tiles surrounding it. It was then guessed that those symbols are the node that the tile they're facing was originally decrypted from. This made piecing the puzzle together by hand much easier after a couple users edited their code. Once big chunks were combined together, it was concluded that the combination was forming a cylinder room.[9]

Redditor then iihavetoes modified thegrayfox's script to reverse engineer the mutated node into the original node to solve for the missing forwarding protocol, and created an image dump.[16] mg2brandon worked with nanowatts using his script to generate more node tiles.[17] Within a couple of hours 914 out of the total 1024 node tiles were created. Soon after, Datto posted an image on Twitter[18] of an opened area to access the final monitor.

In Game


Server Room

After stepping on the "filled in" cylinders in the Wrath of the Machine raid, a loud noise occurred, and some players quickly discovered that the two monitors in the previous "server farm" pyramid room could be activated. When activated, they would flash binary code. One monitor displayed the "column," and the binary needed to be translated into a decimal digit (ex: 0010 -> 2), and the other monitor displayed a "row." Once both monitors are activated, a played has to jump on the correct cylinder in the "0" area of the room, and what the monitor flashes a new number, someone else needs to jump on the correct cylinder in the "1" area of the room. After performing four cylinder jumps, the pyramid opens, and players can obtain an Exotic engram, an emblem, and access to the last monitor to activate after defeating the raid boss. Accessing the last monitor grants access to a final chest, which, when opened, contained a quest item to start the exotic pulse rifle quest. [9]

In Destiny Lore[]

From Destinypedia[19]

The Owl Sector is a civilian scientific organization that advises and assists the Vanguard, with its headquarters located in an observatory at the highest point of the Tower. Its members consist of citizens of the Last City who desire to support the Guardians. The Owl Sector's focus appears to be analyzing and discovering the purpose of unexplained Golden Age technologies.[5]

The Owl Sector reconvened for the first time since an event called the "Dawn Calamity" in response to field reports from Guardians whose armor had become infested with "tech mites", which manifested as swarms of colorful specks that swirled around their heads. Five varieties of tech mite were documented, each with a unique coloration:

  • Brilliance 3.2 (green)
  • Glory 2.1 (white)
  • Splendor 2.6 (yellow)
  • Magnificence 2.0 (blue)
  • Fortitude 3.1 (pink).

The tech mites originated from the Dust Palace on Mars, but rapidly spread to other Guardians. While this phenomenon, designated "Transmission", initially alarmed the Vanguard as it overrode Guardians' armor systems, Guardians responded to it with enthusiasm and mocked attempts by the Owl Sector to quarantine them.[5]

Unable to contain the mites' spread among the Guardians, the Owl Sector and Vanguard instead implemented a quarantine on the Last City in order to prevent non-Guardians' exposure. Meanwhile, Bypass Authority Berriole traveled to the Dust Palace to learn the origin of the tech mites. She followed sets of tracks to a lab, where various locked storage cabinets had been cut or blasted open. At a console in the lab, she discovered the mites were linked to a Clovis Bray project overseen by a Dr. Zarin Shirazi who worked under Dr. Willa Bray. Berriole transmitted records of Dr. Shirazi's experiments with the mites, which had been encrypted to an unusual degree, to the Owl Sector. The records revealed that the tech mites were a nanomachine therapy to improve subjects' intelligence and strength for the Golden Age's colonization effort, but they produced several unforeseen side-effects including manic and paranoid behavior, loss of voice, levitation, and comas. Shirazi developed a countermeasure and saved the test subjects, but she had become disillusioned with the project and recommended to Dr. Bray that it be abandoned.[5]

Eventually, a third of all Guardians became affected by at least one variety of tech mite, prompting the Vanguard to further tighten the City's quarantine. The Owl Sector's Liaison to the Vanguard, Shun Li, accidentally became exposed to a sample of tech mites and lost consciousness soon after, forcing his fellow operative Ramos to take on the duties of Acting Liaison. Fortunately, the countermeasure was discovered among Shirazi's records, and the combined efforts of the Owl Sector's research corps, the Hidden, and the Techeuns succeeded in replicating it. Shun was revived, and the cure was administered to the Guardians, much to their disappointment. With the crisis ended, the Owl Sector was returned to standby status.[5]

After sealing Shirazi's lab, however, Berriole noticed that the tracks that led to the lab appeared to have been made by Fallen, implying that a group of Fallen, possibly the Splicers, were responsible for the entire incident.[5]

Continued communications between a member of Owl Sector, Camrin Dumuzi, and the Hunter Ana Bray suggest that the organisation survived the Red War in some form.[20]

External Links[]