Oni Conspiracy In ‘Halo’ And How It Influenced Perez’s Future Arc

The interesting part about Halo as a story is that it offers a varied scope of interpretation through its narrative treatment and presentation of varied themes. It can be appreciated as grounded space opera; the overarching narrative has the backing of rich lore to posit itself as an eon-spanning military warfare saga; it has elements like the Flood representing the cosmic horror aspect; and it can also be regarded as potent political intrigue. With both the major warring factions of the series’ present timeline being in the gray spectrum—on the one hand, UNSC representing Earth’s autocratic militaristic colonizing governance, and on the other, Covenant as extremist religious space zealots—the political intricacies of the narrative were strongly emphasized in the Halo TV series. 

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ONI, the intelligence department piggybacking on UNSC’s success, is the major bureaucratic force responsible for plotting out schemes from the shadows, which result in large-scale repercussions. In the first season, a brief glimpse of ONI’s machinations were shown through Admiral Parangosky’s control over UNSC operations—how easily she was able to pit Miranda and Halsey against each other and eventually make Halsey the scapegoat for the Spartan program, despite herself being equally responsible for the child abduction crimes. In the second season, the ONI aimed higher and weaved a malicious, dastardly ploy, which proved to be much more of a severe blow to humanity than even the Covenant could deliver. 

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The Full Extent Of The Oni Conspiracy In Halo Season 02

As a self-serving organization, ONI seeks to portray the image of the Unified Earth Government as a benevolent state in order to keep the colonies in check. To do so, ONI can stoop to any low, and just like most shrewd autocrats through history, it has no aversion to sending its own people to slaughter. After the Spartan conspiracy revealed a can of worms in the previous season, merely putting the blame on Halsey wasn’t going to be enough to save UEG’s face; therefore, in the second season, ONI decided to come to the forefront to take charge of things. Admiral Ackerson became the acting chief of ONI in Reach and wasted no time to undermine Master Chief and bring him to disrepute. After the removal of the emotion suppression pellet, Chief acted less like a puppet soldier and used his better judgment, which in the long run would have influenced the entire Silver team, and given how revered Chief is in the UNSC, the entire military might of UEG would have followed his lead. Of course the control freak ONI couldn’t have let that happen, as it could have eventually signaled an uprising against the dictatorial regime of UEG, which is why Ackerson made sure to take the second-best Spartan of the entire UNSC, Kai, under his wing and turn her against Chief. 

Throughout the Reach segment, Ackerson acted as the face of ONI, but in reality, it was Admiral Parangosky who pulled the strings from the backstage. She ensured Cortana’s allegiance in exchange for saving Master Chief’s life. Later, simulations run by Cortana indicated the inevitability of Reach’s fall in the Covenant invasion, and accordingly, ONI pulled all its resources from Reach to shift their base to Onyx. Parangosky left Cortana in Reach as she had rightly assumed that Covenant forces would take her (as Makee did) while retrieving the Keystone, and Cortana’s presence later allowed ONI to detect the Covenant force’s proximity to Halo. In a way, Parangosky was playing the long game without anyone’s knowledge, and in some aspects, she was successful in the implementation of her plans. 

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Leaving Reach to let it get ravaged by the Covenant forces, ONI was already preparing their grand narrative by concocting Chief’s heroic sacrifice and, as a result, inspiring numerous marines in his image to join the new generation Spartan III initiative. Even though they are nowhere near as close in terms of skill and experience to the original Spartans, Parangosky’s master plan needs only one Spartan to succeed. As seen in the penultimate episode, Cortana’s assistance had revealed the waypoint to Halo, where a major section of the Covenant fleet gathered and Parangosky was prepared to send the entire new generation of Spartan cavalry on a Kamikaze mission. Installing a single spike in a Covenant Corvette, a Spartan warrior could have triggered a fusion drive explosion big enough to obliterate everything in that particular star system, which means the death of all new-gen Spartans but also the Halo Ringworld and Covenant fleet as well. Now obviously, Parangosky doesn’t know that there’s not a single, but an array of Halo Ringworlds created by the Forerunners, but had she succeeded in implementing this plan, humanity would have dealt a major blow to the alien aggressors. As ruthless, diabolical, and wild as the suicide mission was, it could have wrought results. However, Master Chief and the Flood turned out to be the variables Parangosky hadn’t accounted for, which eventually ended her murderous streak. 


How Oni Influenced Perez’s Arc 

The adverse effect ONI had on military was presented well with marine Talia Perez’s arc throughout the season. During the Covenant attack on Sanctuary, Chief was able to rescue Perez, who turned out to be the sole survivor of her battalion. To keep suspicion regarding Covenant activities in inner colonies at bay, ONI awarded Perez as a decorated war hero who fought Covenant forces and survived. Perez’s silence regarding the matter supported ONI’s claim. However, in reality, Perez had turned into the shell of a human being after her traumatic experience in Sanctuary and was too wrecked by the survivor’s guilt to protest against the falsification of the events. 

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Perez’s silence proved to be detrimental in the long run, as the ONI left Reach defenseless, resulting in the loss of numerous lives, which included Perez’s close ones as well. Unaware of the involvement of ONI in the fall of Reach, Perez later enlists herself in the Spartan III program to honor the ideals of Master Chief. From a timid, humane character, she transforms into a model soldier in no time, and by the end, when even Spartan Kai was hesitant to take a decision that would cause the death of the entire Spartan III armada, Perez managed to convince her to do so for the greater good. This is how horribly ONI manipulated the military to exploit them in their war games. 

However, at the end of the second season, there’s hardly any remnants left of the intelligence agency, as the majority of Onyx UNSC high command, including Parangosky, perished during the vicious outbreak of the Flood. Ackerson is alive as he escaped the planet along with Soren, Kwan, and Kessler, but having gone through a change of heart, he might not return to his office —if he manages to survive the Flood, that is. 

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Siddhartha Das
Siddhartha Das
An avid fan and voracious reader of comic book literature, Siddhartha thinks the ideals accentuated in the superhero genre should be taken as lessons in real life also. A sucker for everything horror and different art styles, Siddhartha likes to spend his time reading subjects. He's always eager to learn more about world fauna, history, geography, crime fiction, sports, and cultures. He also wishes to abolish human egocentrism, which can make the world a better place.

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