Office of Naval Intelligence – Halo’s CIA

This morning as I was drinking my piping hot cup of “Canadian As F*ck, eh?” courtesy of Black Rifle Coffee Company, I stumbled across a video by the Youtuber, HiddenXperia, on his coverage of ONI’s betrayal of the Master Chief. As an avid fan of the entire Halo series, like bought Xbox over Playstation specifically for Halo, this is something that I had never heard of. I always knew that ONI were a shady bunch of people, but this ranks up there with Umbrella Corporation and their experiments on workers without their consent. This week is going to be devoted to some of the more “shady shit” ONI has done within the Halo universe and how they’re basically the CIA with a whole universe to play with.

OFFICE BREAKDOWN

The Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) is broken down in various sections which each handle different matters.

Section Zero – Internal Affairs and Investigations (private police force within the UNSC)
Section One – Military Intelligence
Section Two – Propaganda and Information (Spin doctors to keep/distort public perception)
Section Three – Special Projects (SPARTAN Programs, Blacklist Prisons, Experimentations)

This article will primarily be focused on ONI Section Three and some of its nefarious dealings.

SPARTAN PROGRAMS

It’s no secret that the Spartan II project, is the first foray of ONI’s begin into shady practices (technically it was first Project ORION but we’ll stick with the SPARTAN II). I’ll give a brief rundown of their involvement in the Spartan II initiative.

Master Chief after he crash lands on Alpha Halo

As Dr. Halsey built on the Carver Findings and proposed her own potential outcome to the scenario, she petitioned ONI section three to allow her funding and free reign to create the next wave of super soldiers. ONI had conducted it’s own analysis of the Carver Findings (hypotheses presented by Dr. Elias Carver on the breakout of Insurrection) and come to roughly the same conclusion that Dr. Halsey had. They therefore agreed to fund her program and to maintain the secrecy, they utilized all four branches of ONI to mask the project. As the project began it’s earliest stages, Dr. Halsey declared that child recruits are easiest to indoctrinate and to undergo the radical surgeries required. ONI attached Lieutenant Keyes to Dr. Halsey as she moved around human controlled space selecting recruits. When the project finally began, ONI operatives abducted each of the children and replaced them with a rapid grown flash clone. All of these clones would die within the year making the recruits to the program effectively ghosts.

Not only did ONI directly create the Spartan IIs, but they also “acquired” several of them for specific purposes. One of these purposes was the formation of Black Team. This was a small squad of Spartan IIs outfitted with modified armour that carried out black ops missions directly for ONI high command. They carried out assassination missions and asset acquirement missions for ONI against humans/covenant/flood/ and prometheans. On their final mission to obtain a Forerunner artifact, all contact with Black Team was lost. Black Team was found by Blue team and noted as “Missing in Action” on Installation 03. All Spartans are noted as “Missing in Action” instead of “Killed in Action” to keep up the appearance that Spartans never die (this was a practice implemented by ONI).

Spartan Black Team

In addition to Black Team, ONI also acquired 3 other Spartan IIs which they formed into Gray Team. Gray Team was meant for one purpose, to infiltrate far behind enemy lines and cause whatever havoc they could without support from any friendly units. This led to extensively long missions in small quarters which is why the team was limited to the three “most independent and individualistic” of the Spartan II recruits.

ONI also “acquired” Spartan 051 Kurt when he was recovered from deep space following a malfunction by his EVA pack. He was officially listed as MIA but was recovered by Colonel Ackerson of ONI. He was given the surname of Ambrose promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander and was tasked with training the Spartan III recruits on the planet Onyx. Kurt sacrificed himself to hold back the covenant invasion force and allow Blue Team and Team Katana to escape into the Forerunner Shield World at the core of Onyx. He detonated 2 Fenris nuclear Warheads which vaporized the covenant invading force and the rest of the planet that was not guarded by the shield world.

KILO FIVE

Kilo Five is one of the more secretive things that ONI has done. Kilo Five is a secret Blacks Ops team that is run by a former Spartan II and serves a guerilla hit and run squad. It’s field commander is a Spartan II and the rest of the squad is made up of 3 ODST Troops, Professor Evan Phillips and a Smart AI known as Black Box. The main purpose of Kilo Five was the start an insurrection amongst the various Sangheili (Elite) factions following the Schism (when the Elites and various other Covenant allied with Humanity against the brutes and their forces). Kilo Five answered directly to Margaret Parangosky, the Commander in Chief of ONI. They operated with complete impunity using whatever means necessary to accomplish their missions.

Kilo Five

Now that we’ve covered most of the stuff the people know about ONI let’s talk about the things they don’t know…

NIGHTFALL

In Halo: Nightfall, Jameson Locke and his ONI Remote Tactical Strike Team stopped a Sangheili bio weapon attack on the colony of Sedra, with minimal casualties. As they completed this mission, they noticed a rare element which was the base of the bio weapon. The element was completely unique to a single shard of the Alpha Halo which was destroyed by the Master Chief at the end of Halo: Combat Evolved. Locke and the remaining uninfected members of his team, partnered with Sedran Colonial command and their leader Colonel Randall Aiken to venture to the shard and obtain a sample of the element to manufacture a cure. The expedition was attacked by a large colony of Lekgolo worms (drone organisms that make up the Hunters in the Halo game series) which are attracted to electrical signals. As the expedition forces dwindle, Locke and private Macer managed to make it to a small 2 seater craft called a “tug” and managed to escape the shard. The rest of the team were killed either by infighting or by the worm colony with colonel Aiken sacrificing himself using a HAVOK nuclear warhead to destroy the Alpha Shard and the Lekgolo colony. When Locke and Macer return to Sedra and manufactured the cure, ONI whisked them away “for immediate debriefing”. Nothing is known about what happened to Macer, however following the mission,Locke left ONI and enlisted in the now declassified Spartan program.

Nightfall release poster

Nightfall wasn’t that bad of a covert mission, except that ONI completely covered up the bio weapon attack, citing Boren’s syndrome as the cause of the sicknesses, disavowed those who died on the shard and whisked Macer away to Black Site facility to never be heard from again.

BENJAMIN GIRAUD

Benjamin Giraud was a civilian contractor working with ONI and their section two office. He was a field reporter that worked with the UNSC to provide front line news about the war effort to the folks back home. After he witnessed the Master Chief “Save Humanity” during the battle of Mombassa in 2552 (Halo 2 campaign), he decided to discover the truth behind the Chief so that people would be able to know their hero. He worked tirelessly to arrange interviews with various individuals to get the story on the Chief in the year of 2558. As he went through the list of contacts provided by ONI and the ones he found himself, he discovered that all of the ONI contacts were plants meant to muddle up the information and hide the truth. As he discovered the cover up, ONI threatened that they would ruin him if he pursued this story. Deciding that the people needed to know the truth about their saviour, he went against ONI and continued the investigation on his own. He discovered that the Master Chief and the other Spartans were nothing more than children who had been abducted by ONI retrieval teams and indoctrinated by the UNSC. Appalled at what he discovered, he decided to expose the cover up and show the people of Earth Space what ONI had done. He arranged an interview on a talkshow on the ECB News channel hosted by Charles Kesler where he would reveal the entire story to humanity so that ONI would lose it’s support. Unknown to Giraud, ONI (through their Section two office) controlled the news channel. Prior to Giraud’s interview, ONI arranged for witnesses to be aired refuting every single point and fact of proof that Giraud had. When he came on the air and delivered his evidence, he was seen as a crack pot conspiracy theorist and completely discredited. Following the interview, he was apprehended by an ONI security team from section zero, and taken to their Midnight facility (a top secret high security black site prison hidden in the Asteroid belt). Giraud was sentenced to solitary confinement in Cube B-349 (cell B-349) where his mind slowly began to unravel due to the isolation and not having any human contact for weeks on end. He would punch the walls of his cell until his hands were bloody, rub his head along the wall until it bled and smear it around the walls. The last mention of Giraud states that he is still in his cell at the Midnight facility and the use of knockout gas is frequently required to stop his self harm.

ONI FLOOD EXPERIMENTS

This is the crème of the low for ONI. They condoned experiments with the Flood on human prisoners and covenant prisoners of war. ONI backed a crazy scientist, Major John Smith, who deliberately infected several human prisoners and infected Elite prisoners. He was infecting the prisoners to attempt to find a cure for the disease and to try and weaponize the Flood virus for use in a theater of war. The containment was broken and the entire ship, The Mona Lisa, became infected with the exception of Smith and the elite, that had been nicknamed by the Marine retrieval team, Henry. As the team enacts the “Cole Protocol” (scrub all Navigational data and if possible either make a blind slipspace jump away from Earth or scuttle the ship) they are notified they have 20 minutes before a nearby UNSC ship, the Foulcault, will deliberately destroy the ship to prevent the spread of the infection. Smith hijacks the pelican the retrieval team arrived on and leaves the ship to save himself. Seargent Lopez, her remaining crew and Henry destroy the NAV data and damage the engines to stop the ship from going anywhere. As they attempt to evac they are attacked by the flood infected prisoners. the rest of the team fall to the infection with the exception of Lopez, Henry and MacGraw. MacGraw takes one of the two escape pods and flees the ship leaving Lopez and Henry to fight over the last one as their time runs out and the UNSC Foulcault scuttles the ship. It is later revealed that the Foulcault was operating under direct orders from ONI high command to scuttle the ship and leave no trace of their experiments.

Lopez v. Henry

These are just a few examples of the “shady shit” that ONI pulled throughout it’s tenure. They are also responsible for the creation of the MJOLNIR power armour and several advanced weapons utilized by the UNSC. Mostly though, it’s obvious that for every thing they admit to doing or being involved with, there is probably another 100 that they swept under the rug and eliminated all trace of.

That’s it for this week’s post! it’s pretty short compared to some of the other ones I’ve posted but there isn’t much info on ONI and their nefarious dealings… I wonder why… See you next week!

Project ORION – The Rise of the Spartans

This month for the continuation of the Halo series, I decided to focus on the SPARTANS and their origins as a unit.  Starting out in the early years of the United Earth Government (UEG), Project ORION is where it all began.

SPARTAN-II logo

PROJECT ORION

Project ORION was launched in the early years of the 23rd century shortly after the unification of the Earth into the UEG and the formation of the United Nations Space Command (UNSC). The project was started in an attempt to biochemically alter soldiers to create super soldiers for use in the field. While ORION would eventually be shut down, the concept was taken and utilized as the basis for future SPARTAN programs and certain advancements were used for field kits following the Insurrectionist Civil War.

In 2390, the UEG had formally established the Inner Colonies of the Earth Empire. For the next hundred years, humanity began to expand into the Sol system establishing dozens of colonies on habitable worlds. As the expansion continued, the power and influence of the UEG began the wane to the point that political independence was the hot topic among the colonists. Colonies began to separate themselves from UEG control and the UNSC took steps to maintain a grip on the Outer colonies that were trying to secede from the UEG. In preparation for conflict, the UNSC enacted Project: ORION on April 13, 2321, as a means of developing tougher, faster and stronger soldiers. Of the original 5 candidates selected, none were deemed a success and the candidates were returned to their respective units. Each of these candidates would die within a year of being returned to their unit for reasons  undisclosed by the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI).

Insurrectionist

As the Civil Wars on the Outer colonies intensified, Project: ORION was relaunched in secret on January 29, 2491, to combat insurgent attacks. The project was opened with 65 candidates, with a future 100 volunteers being accepted following initial training. On January 12, 2496, the first ORION soldiers were deployed as part of Operation: CHARLEMAGNE to recover a sub-orbital transit station over Eridanus II. The mission was successful without any casualties and without detection, this was also the only time in the program’s history that a full unit of its operators would ever be deployed.

With the success of Operation: CHARLEMAGNE, the tales of super soldiers being deployed by the UNSC spread like wildfire, causing conspiracy theories to be born. ONI used the leaked knowledge in a very aggressive propaganda run in the following decades to incite compliance from the outer colonies. During the same year as Operation: CHARLEMAGNE, ORION operatives were deployed as part of Operation: VERITAS, where they apprehended several Secessionist Union operatives who were employed in various high-level offices in the Colonial Military Administration (CMA).

As the Insurrectionist War began to heat up, the UNSC escalated their counter-insurgent activities with Operation: TREBUCHET. This operation was put into immediate action following the defection of UNSC Marine Colonel Robert Watts. ORION operatives were deployed to combat the insurgent threat and were very effective for a time. As the conflict dragged on, the insurgents became harder and harder to root out. The Insurgents adapted to the tactics of the ORION operatives very quickly and became increasingly harder to combat. While the bombings and flashpoint scenarios between Insurrectionists and the UNSC continued to increase, more civilians were caught in the crossfire, and were killed as a result. These civilian deaths added to the growing resentment for the UNSC on the outer colonies forcing more to join the Insurrectionist fight. In response to the growing Insurrectionist threat, the UNSC recruited more operatives into the ORION program, culminating in 300 active duty personnel.

As Operation: TREBUCHET continued, some of the older members of ORION began to exhibit PTSD and sympathy towards the Insurrectionists. Some operatives refused to participate in the program post-augmentation and were incarcerated as a result. Despite the success the ORION soldiers were having, the results were far below what the scientists expected. Due to the age of most candidates and the inadequate genetic screening performed during recruitment.; the genetic modifications led to minimal improvement and the immunosuppressants failed in many candidates. These issues led to irreversible genetic fragmentation and degenerative conditions in most of the ORION personnel.

In 2502, Operation: KALEIDOSCOPE was put in to action. KALEIDOSCOPE was a multi pronged approach by the UNSC to pacify the Insurrectionist threat. ORION operatives were deployed to neutralize key insurgent strongholds and eliminate insurgent personnel. The main goal was to eliminate Jerald Mulkey Ander, the leader of the Secessionist Union.

KALEIDOSCOPE

On March 13, 2502, Jerald Ander was assassinated by ORION operative, Corporal Avery Johnson. With Ander’s death, the Secessionist Union was easily dismantled; however, it did not deter those from seeking independent control from the UEG, it actually served to strengthen the Insurrectionist movement on several planets. While KALEIDOSCOPE dealt a massive blow to the insurgents, it failed to pacify the planets as had been originally intended and was declared a failure as the result. As Operation: KALEIDOSCOPE was wrapping up, it became apparent that some of the ORION operatives were beginning to develop severe side effects from the augmentations. These side effects ranged from physical anomalies to mental illness.

The ORION project began to decline in performance due to the ineffective strategies used by the UNSC. Operation: TANGLEWOOD was the final operation that ORION operatives participated in.

In 2506, project ORION was quietly terminated with the remaining 165 members being reassigned to various special forces elements in the UNSC. Some of the former ORION operatives began to exhibit mental instabilities and were discharged from the UNSC as a result. ONI concocted a plan to cover up the ailments being exhibited by the former ORION members as a medical ailment called Boren’s Syndrome. As many of the ORION soldiers began to retire and have families, the children of the former operatives required specially formulated injections to ensure they suffered no health defects. While some ORION members were discharged, others like Avery Johnson, were able to serve well past what is normally expected of human service. Johnson served for a continued four decades after the project was shut down.

*Johnson was dosed with an abnormally high amount of radiation emanating from a crate of plasma grenades on Paris IV; as a result, he was immune to Flood infection.*

THE FUTURE OF PROJECT ORION

Following the shuttering of Project ORION many of the augmentations and advancements were incorporated into the SPARTAN-II program and its successors. The failures of project ORION were blamed on the age of the recruits. Being adults, the recruits bodies rejected many of the augmentations, giving a less than expected result. The SPARTAN-II and SPARTAN-III programs were therefore forced to use prepubescent recruits so that their genetic information and physicality would allow for the augmentations to take hold. The SPARTAN-IV program overcame this obstacle, but that was not until after the end of the Human-Covenant War on March 3, 2553.

Due to the combat effectiveness of the ORION operatives the UNSC utilized project ORION and its operators as the model for a reorganization of the Orbital Drop Shock Troopers (ODSTs).

In the years following the closure of Project: ORION in 2506, the small amount of special forces in the UNSC were not able to effectively combat the rising Insurrectionist threat. Around 2510, ONI began to re-examine the Carver Findings (A set of theories published by Dr. Elias Carver in 2491, predicting the outbreak of an insurrection) to determine if there was a solution within Carver’s predictions to their current Insurrectionist issue. The findings stated that the instability would continue to grow unless drastic military action was taken. ONI had conducted it’s own research and came to the same conclusion as Dr. Carver; if the threat was not subdued, by 2525 there would be an open war between the inner and outer colonies.

Dr. Catherine Halsey had taken Carver’s findings and built on them herself. Halsey’s findings predicted that if UNSC inaction against rebel leadership continued, there would be a 35 year war with over 5 billion dead or a conflict of indeterminate length that would lead to the downfall of human civilization.  Halsey presented her findings to Vice Admiral Stanforth and ONI Section III, who had come to their own similar conclusions. In order to avoid this grim future, Halsey agreed to work for ONI under Section III’s Special Projects Division to develop a solution.

Halsey

Dr. Halsey took the data from the initial Project ORION and made drastic changes. The candidates would be selected based on age, and genetic markers that would increase the success of the augmentations. The candidates would have to exhibit physical strength and mental attributes as well as being under the age of 10. The age limit also helped with instilling core military values and the understanding of War; which could not be taught to already enlisted individuals. In addition to the more selective candidate pool, one of the other major changes involved the creation of powered exoskeletons for use by the operatives. The drawback of this new armor is its requirement for augmenting the subject, effectively turning the participants into human guinea pigs. Despite the obvious danger to recruits and the unethical means to which they would be treated, ORION-II was permitted.

In 2511, Generation II of Project ORION was initiated to combat the Insurrectionist threat.  By 2517, 150 suitable candidates had been selected for the program, though funding only allowed for half that number. Thus the top 75 candidates were selected from all planets across UNSC controlled space. The selection pool included both male and female candidates as well as various ethnic backgrounds to ensure diversity. The candidates all were around the age of six years old and most lived on the outer planets. ONI operatives kidnapped the candidates in the night and replaced them with flash clones. These flash clones were grown from the DNA acquired by the Outer Colony Vaccination Program. The clones would die after roughly a year due to medical complications resulting from flash cloning an entire human being.

Halsey was not fond of the original name for the project, Project ORION Generation II, so she renamed the project out of personal preference and desire to distance it from the failures of the first Project: ORION. Halsey centered on the SPARTAN-II program as a homage to the name of ORION.

With the subsequent success of the SPARTAN-II program, Project ORION was retroactively renamed as SPARTAN-I.

spartan_evolution_by_tdspiral-d6m3nfi

 

There you have it, the story of how the SPARTAN program came to be. While the most popular iteration of the SPARTAN program is the SPARTAN-IIs and the face of Halo, the Master Chief; none of that would be possible without Project: ORION. Next month I will breakdown the SPARTAN-II program along with its various victories and defeats. See you next week!

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