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.
The Owl Sector serves as the Vanguard's research/intelligence response team during unusual or strange occurrences. Not Guardians by profession, they are loyal civilians of the The City that have forgone their lives to the cause of the Tower.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Berriole - Bypass Authority
- Camrin Dumuzi - Unknown
- Quist - Geographer
- Ramos - Acting Liaison
- Shun Li - Liaison to the Vanguard
- The Owl Sector and tech mites served as a precursor event to Rise of Iron in the week leading up to its release on September 20, 2016. The tech mites consisted of five different status effects that increased players' experience and reputation gains, and were visible as colorful lights around the players' heads. Initially, players acquired only one buff and transmitted it to others via group activities such as the Crucible, Strikes, and Prison of Elders. As they came into contact with other types of the buff, they acquired those as well.
- The tech mites buffs were accompanied by a Bungie website called Owl Sector, which included a map and pie chart documenting the distribution of each buff, as well as an archive of Owl Sector and Vanguard records. New records were released every two hours from the beginning of the event.