- "I'm going to keep at it. Anything that's encyrpted can be unencyrpted, and nobody locks me out forever."
- —Baird, on his attempts to crack A2897
A2897 was a computer data disk that contained top-secret information that Chairman Richard Prescott kept hidden from the rest of the Coalition of Ordered Governments. The information that was contained inside A2897 detailed information about Azura and its location.
Discovery by Hoffman
Col. Victor Hoffman discovered A2897 when he noticed Prescott locking his desk during the First Battle of New Jacinto and suspected him of holding more secrets from him. He broke into the desk and took the disk, but discovered that it had a non-COG encryption code when he tried to read it. After the battle, Prescott confronted Hoffman about it. He admitted taking the disk, but refused to give it back, determined to find out what Prescott was hiding. Prescott was unconcerned that Hoffman might crack it and even admitted that he had a backup. Hoffman showed the disk to Sgt. Bernadette Mataki and asked what to do with it. She suggested to have Cpl. Damon Baird try and crack it. Hoffman showed the disk to Baird, but he was unable to crack it. Hoffman left A2897 with him to continue attempting to crack it.
Baird spent months trying to crack the disk without success and Prescott continued to refuse to divulge what was on it, leading to a lot of speculation about its contents. Hoffman later told Quentin Michaelson and Miran Trescu about it and Trescu offered Gorasni help in the decryption. By the time that the COG disbanded and abandoned Vectes, Baird failed to break the encryption. Baird returned A2897 to Hoffman and told him that he worked on it up until that very morning without success. Baird even enlisted the help of a Gorasni ex-spook to come up with some ideas as the man was paid to spy on them, but even he had no luck. The best that the man could come up was that the disk might need a physical key such as another disk run simultaneously or a fingerprint.
Cracking the Encryption
As Azura fell to the Locust, Adam Fenix ordered Prescott to give Hoffman the encryption key to A2897 so he could come to their aid. He also gave Prescott a message for Marcus as Adam intended to stay behind to complete the Imulsion Countermeasure Weapon.
After over a year missing, Prescott arrived on CNV Sovereign with Adam's message for Marcus. It revealed that Adam was alive and being held on the island of Azura where he developed a weapon to destroy the Lambent. Before dying, Prescott handed Marcus a disk and commented that "the old bastard" would be furious. Though Prescott died before he could explain what he meant, Damon Baird realized that the old bastard was Hoffman and the disk that Prescott handed over had to be the key to unlocking A2897. Based on Adam's message and Prescott's last words, Baird speculated that A2897 was the data on Azura where Prescott secretly kept Adam. Though being so long out of contact with Anvil Gate left Baird worried whether Hoffman was still alive or even had the disk, Marcus stated a belief that if Hoffman died, Bernie would have hung onto it. After being rescued by Delta Squad, Dizzy Wallin confirmed that Hoffman still had the disk and was still cussing about it.
After reuniting with Hoffman, Marcus revealed the events of the day to him including Prescott's death and handing the key over to the disk. Hoffman was shocked, admitting that he almost gave up on decrypting it. Their discussion was interrupted by the beginning of the Battle of Anvil Gate, but Hoffman handed the disk over to Baird before the Lambent arrived. After the battle, Baird successfully decrypted A2897 which contained all sorts of data and maps on Azura, though no pictures. The data revealed the existence of the Malestrom barrier and the need to use a submarine to go under it and helped Delta plan their attack on the island.
- Anvil Gate (First appearance)
- Coalition's End
- Keyhole (Mentioned only)
- No Hiding Place (Mentioned only)
- Gears of War 3
- Aftermath (Appears in flashback(s))
- Gears of War: Anvil Gate pg 346-347
- Gears of War: Anvil Gate pg 402-403
- Gears of War: Anvil Gate pg 430-437
- Gears of War: Coalition's End
- Gears of War: Coalition's End pg 423-424
- Gears of War: Dirty Little Secrets: No Hiding Place
- Gears of War 3: Act I: Abandon Ship
- Gears of War 3: Act I: Shipwreck
- Gears of War 3: Act II: Trench Run
- Gears of War 3: Act II: Airborne
- Gears of War 3: Act III: Unbreakable
- Gears of War 3: Act III: Rescue