|Political and military information|
- "In his opinion, she was the most dangerous person in the UNSC. She was the real power in ONI. To his knowledge, only one person had ever crossed her and lived."
- — Colonel James Ackerson's opinion of Admiral Parangosky.
Admiral Margaret Orlenda Parangosky (service number 00230-00923-MP; UNSCMID 03669271) is the former Commander-in-Chief of the Office of Naval Intelligence. In office by 2511, she coordinated ONI's activities during the Insurrection, throughout the Human-Covenant War, and in the years that followed. By 2555, she had been succeeded by her protegé, Admiral Serin Osman.
Parangosky was slight of build and appeared much older than her actual age, but her withered appearance belied her sharp intellect and ice-cold ruthlessness. She was known to be very powerful and deadly; Doctor Catherine Halsey was the only person who had ever crossed her and lived. Colonel James Ackerson considered her to be the most dangerous person in the UNSC.
- "Gentlemen, I'll be brief. After almost fifteen years of continuous and ruinously expensive research without a single new useful technology discovered, the budget of the Onyx initiative has been reprioritized. Although the alien artifacts and hieroglyphics continue to be of interest, recent rebel activities in the Outer Colonies demand that we face realities and reallocate our finite A.I. and military personnel to counter this new threat."
- — Rear Admiral Parangosky explains the reasoning behind the Onyx initiative's loss of funding.
Margaret Parangosky was born in 2461 or 2462, being seventy years of age by October 24, 2531. She joined the United Nations Space Command Armed Forces when she was around twenty-two years old, eventually becoming a captain in the Navy. The first warship she served aboard was the UNSC Lutyens. As a captain Margaret frequently punched well above her weight, so to speak, and brought down a number of senior officers. When the Colonial Administration Authority fell from grace due to a series of scandals Parangosky elected to take on the Department of Colonial Security, which nobody wanted, with the intent to improve it. In doing so she instantly acquired a virtual army of civilian spies with no preexisting loyalties to anyone else in the UNSC.
On January 2, 2511 Parangosky, now a rear admiral, issued an order reclassifying all materials concerning the planet Onyx as Top Secret, Eyes Only. This order affected anything mentioning, referencing, or containing reports, surveys, personal notes and logs, images, or any other data pertaining to the planet. It also was accompanied by an ONI-authorized system-wide network purge under the direction of a military artificial intelligence. The Office of Naval Intelligence Section Three project that would come to be christened "SPARTAN-II" had been in its planning stages as early as 2510. The program eventually involved the abduction and conscription of young children in order to create the ultimate fighting force for the UNSC, and Parangosky approved almost every aspect of it. The kidnappings were carried out in 2517 and the great majority of the seventy-five children acquired were replaced with flash clones, though this particular detail escaped Margaret's knowledge for at least a couple of years.
On March 6, 2525 the admiral announced through another order that after almost fifteen years of continuous and ruinously expensive research without the discovery of a single new useful technology, the Onyx initiative's budget had been reprioritized. Though the alien artifacts and hieroglyphics there continued to be of interest, she said that recent rebel activities in the Outer Colonies demanded that A.I. and military personnel were reallocated. Parangosky emphasized that Onyx was to remain classified and shared that all its materials and files had been re-designated under new nomenclature. Any breaches of confidentiality, she added, would be punishable by death in accordance with various legal articles. A skeleton crew and one A.I. would continue to probe the mysteries of the site known as Zone 67 on the planet, she noted. She closed by saying that in the meantime, the rest of them had a war to fight.
- Margaret Parangosky: "You want to trade lives for time."
- James Ackerson: "Yes, ma'am. Isn't that the job of a soldier? Is there another option? How many worlds are now cinders? How many billions of colonists have died? If we save a single planet, gain a few weeks, isn't that worth a handful of men and women?"
- Margaret Parangosky: "Of course it is. God help us all. Yes, Colonel. Yes, it is worth it."
- — Parangosky concedes the uncomfortable point made by Colonel Ackerson.
In May of 2531, Vice Admiral Preston Cole told Vice Admiral Michael Stanforth his assistance would be needed in order to get Parangosky to allow Cole to use her assets to manipulate energy in slipspace in what he was sure she would consider an "extreme risk" operation. Cole was proposing that Section Two of ONI begin broadcasting prerecorded carrier signals from antiquity in order to attenuate and obfuscate the radio signatures already in slipspace, hoping that doing so would prevent the Covenant from triangulating Earth's location. Later that year, on October 24, Margaret met with Rear Admiral Ned Rich, Colonel James Ackerson, and Captain Aaron Gibson aboard the Point Blank-class stealth cruiser UNSC Point of No Return while it was in interstellar space of Sector B-042. Now a vice admiral and the Commander-in-Chief of the Office of Naval Intelligence (CINCONI), she had made the ship her base of operations. She, Gibson, and Rich entered the room variously known as "the cage" or "Odin's Eye" shortly after 0500 hours that day where the colonel was already waiting. Before she seated herself at the conference table she told Ackerson that he'd better have a good reason for dragging them all there through back channels. He implored her and the two others to examine a document he'd prepared for them on reader tablets, but Parangosky told him to just come to his point after seeing the file dealt with something she was already very familiar with: Catherine Halsey's Spartan-II project. The colonel then proposed a making a new generation of Spartans—Spartan-IIIs. Parangosky was immediately interested by the proposal and asked if she was right to assume what he was suggesting would have no public presence. He confirmed her suspicion and further explained that Spartan-IIIs could be sent on missions against high-value Covenant targets that traditionally would never be considered. Such "suicide missions" could potentially slow the enemy down, essentially allowing the Spartans' lives to be traded for time the UNSC needed to think, plan, and come up with a better way to fight. Though the notion gave her pause, Parangosky had to agree the lives of a handful of men and women were well worth saving a single planet or setting the Covenant even just a few weeks back. She announced she knew the perfect location to use as the Spartan-III program's staging area—Onyx. When Ackerson said he would need a Spartan-II to train the Spartan-III recruits Parangosky agreed. She advised that he tread very lightly in procuring one and not allow anyone in Section Three to find out about either. She was especially concerned that Doctor Halsey never find out. Before taking their leave the vice admiral and the other two naval officers erased the files from their tablets.
Almost six years later another meeting was held within "Odin's Eye" while the Point of No Return was at a classified location. On July 30, 2537 Vice Admiral Parangosky, Rear Admiral Rich, and Colonel Ackerson were joined by Senior Chief Petty Officer Franklin Mendez and Lieutenant Kurt Ambrose shortly after 0900 hours to go over the performance of the first Spartan-III company. Alpha Company, apart from a small number of Spartans whom had been previously extracted for reassignment elsewhere, had just been totally obliterated during Operation: PROMETHEUS. Parangosky and Rich were seated opposite one another when Ackerson showed Mendez and Ambrose in, already reviewing the Spartans' operational records. She scrutinized the lieutenant, him being the Spartan-II who'd been handpicked to train the threes, before telling directing both he and Mendez to sit. She told them she was impressed with those they'd trained and asked Kurt to tell her about the selection process for the next class. Together he and Ackerson communicated that while three hundred and seventy-five candidates had been identified, a lack of data was preventing them from finding additional matches. To this Parangosky suggested microscopic samples could be taken from children in the Outer Colonies during vaccinations administered as part of an official immunization program and also asked if they could perhaps loosen the genetic criteria for selection. Kurt pointed out that doing so would dramatically increase the failure rate during biological augmentation. It was Parangosky who then steered the conversation to Operation: PROMETHEUS, the end results of which were still unknown to Mendez and Kurt. She told the former Spartan-II that Alpha Company's loss was regrettable, but that she and the other officers present would order the operation again if presented with a similar opportunity. The Spartan-IIIs had stopped the Covenant from being able to manufacture any further ships at the asteroid K7-49, and to hear Parangosky tell it this made them heroes. Once Kurt indicated he'd understood what she was saying, the vice admiral let him know she'd put him in for a promotion and that he was to be commended for his Spartans' performance. But as there was still a war to win, she also wanted him to focus and accelerate the training of those who would form the second company.
After most of Beta Company was wiped out during Operation: TORPEDO on July 3, 2545, Kurt asked Margaret's permission to have the mission's two survivors, Lucy-B091 and Tom-B292, placed under his employ to help train the next company. Colonel Ackerson wanted Tom for his own private operations and Lucy was close to being given an "unfit for duty" classification and being permanently reassigned to ONI's psychological branch for evaluation, but Parangosky sided with Kurt over Ackerson's objections. On February 19, 2551 the mobile medical facility UNSC Hopeful was parked in interstellar space of Sector K-009 (essentially "in the middle of nowhere") at Parangosky's order, where it resided by 0420 hours. It was aboard the Hopeful that the Spartan-IIIs of Gamma Company then underwent their biological augmentations.
RED FLAG and war's end
- "We've run some numbers based on the Covenant's movement pattern over the last nine months and the results are... Well, not good. Epsilon Eridani is at 87.2% probability of intersect within the next five months. Eighty-seven percent. It's never been that high. I think we need to start seriously considering RED FLAG."
- — Admiral Parangosky shares frightening findings with Vice Admiral Stanforth.
By 2552 Parangosky had been promoted to a full admiral. On July 18 of that year Vice Admiral Stanforth sent her a due diligence report with his thoughts on the just-concluded battle with the Covenant at Sigma Octanus IV and Operation: BRAVADO; attached was a file containing data the aliens had been broadcasting from the planet's surface that was picked up by the UNSC Iroquois. Stanforth assured her the after-action report was en route and as he planned to make the rounds in Sydney, Australia soon, invited her to talk then over tea. Parangosky responded less than five hours later, sending her reply at 0325 hours on July 19. She congratulated the vice admiral on the victory at Sigma Octanus but said their tea would have to wait. Something had come up, she told him, which demanded he head to Reach immediately. Informants on Verge were pointing to an ultra-radical wing of the People's Occupation, but Parangosky strongly suspected something else was brewing. She and others had run some numbers based on the Covenant's movement pattern over the previous nine months and concluded that within the next five there was an 87.2% chance the enemy would reach the Epsilon Eridani system. Given these dire odds, she believed they needed to start seriously considering Operation: RED FLAG, a planned last-ditch effort to capture one of the Covenant's hierarchs to use for leverage. She told Stanforth to send her updates on the mission's recommendation documents he'd been working on back in March so she and others in Sydney could evaluate them. Though she thought it obvious, she also made sure he knew to keep this between the two of them and said he needn't worry about the ONI trawlers on Reach who would be asking everyone involved questions about the data the Iroquois collected, as long as his people didn't withhold critical intelligence when it mattered most. Parangosky knew Catherine Halsey would likely be involved in whatever they did with RED FLAG, but she noted to Stanforth that her patience with the doctor was wearing thin. She'd been searching through the admiral's files without permission since early June, and specifically those that related to Onyx. Margaret said she'd be surprised if Halsey hadn't pieced together what they figured the planet really was, but that she was keeping her in the Viery Territory with half a dozen eyes watching her every move. She only shared this with Stanforth because she knew he was fond of Halsey and wanted to give him the chance to brace himself for the end of what Parangosky called "her free ride days". She promised to drop the vice admiral a line once he arrived at Camp Hathcock and, as an addendum, included with her message the results of a Hemley & Aubourn behavior analysis done on Halsey the previous year. Stanforth sent Parangosky the original stratagem document for RED FLAG (updated with the latest requisitions) on August 1 after just arriving back in the Epsilon Eridani system.
Operation: RED FLAG was meant to secure the capture of one of the Covenant's three "high prophets" for the purposes of bartering a formal ceasefire with the alien hegemony. Intelligence suggested that the high prophets spent their time either within the confines of the mobile dome-ship structure "High Charity" or aboard a Class-Five flagship carrier, be it a CAS-class assault carrier or CSO-class supercarrier. A substantially-sized, high-impact team of Spartan-IIs wearing qualified Mjolnir armor could theoretically assault a Class-Five vessel to either seize a hierarch which may be aboard or, failing that, to acquire full control of the ship and return it to High Charity. There, the team could split up into discrete covert splinter groups, gather sufficient intelligence, seize a high prophet, and withdraw back to a ship, securing ad hoc exfiltration. Incumbent to the capture of a Class-Five ship, however, was the likely need to sacrifice a colony of significant value to the Covenant. Defenses would need to be purposefully lowered somewhat in order to draw the enemy in before enacting the first part of the operation. The best shot at taking over a Class-Five would come after a Covenant fleet believed it had attained a major victory. Margaret's previous transmission to Stanforth had seemed to him to suggest that Reach might be used to stage RED FLAG. Stanforth refused to even consider using Reach as bait, but he did not yet know then that it had already come under attack and did tell Parangosky that his thinking would be different if the colony was found and deemed indefensible. He also had submitted the latest preliminary requisitions to Halsey and promised to ping Margaret with details as soon as he had them. By August 27 both Parangosky and the vice admiral had agreed to sacrifice Reach, having green-lit it for RED FLAG during a discussion had at some point in the prior week. At 1115 hours on that date Stanforth responded to a message she'd sent concerning the mission to let her know he and Halsey had just finished briefing the Spartans who would be undertaking it. The Spartans, along with a significant portion of the planet, were still being kept in the dark regarding the Covenant's presence there. He told Parangosky that regardless of what was happening at the enemy's primary target sites then, they couldn't allow it to compromise RED FLAG. He also suggested that at some point they were going to have to tell Captain Jacob Keyes, commander of the UNSC Pillar of Autumn, about the ongoing attack. Keyes and the Autumn had been selected to transport the Spartans during the first phase of RED FLAG, but should a much larger enemy force arrive at the planet soon Stanforth felt Keyes might abandon the mission if he wasn't made aware that Reach was already doomed. Included with the due diligence report sent from Stanforth to Parangosky were catalogued metrics for the key staff and assets RED FLAG would involve, courtesy of Cortana, the artificial intelligence who would assist the Spartans' intrusion. The vice admiral had affixed his own notes to Cortana's work and asked that Margaret let him know what she thought within the next few hours after getting his report.
By September 20, 2552, yet another class of Spartans was being developed under Parangosky's watchful eye. Unlike its predecessors, this new project would return to ORION protocols of recruiting exceptional and fully capable adult soldiers. On October 13 cloaked remote sensor platforms of unknown provenance were discovered near Argyre Planitia on Mars, triggering cryptonym WIDEAWAKE. After consulting with Admiral Parangosky, Fleet Admiral Joseph Harper then issued a Priority One stand-down order to the scouting team which had made the discovery. On November 17, just over a month later, a massive structure was uncovered on Earth by the Covenant and activated to generate a portal. This portal created spatial distortions that damaged artificial gravity on all ships present in its vicinity. The science and repair records which followed this event were redacted at Admiral Parangosky's request.
Following the end of the war, Parangosky found herself at odds with members of the UEG and UNSC High Command over the Sangheili. While Fleet Admiral Terrence Hood and others believed that a peace treaty with Arbiter Thel 'Vadam and the Swords of Sanghelios was desirable, Parangosky believed that keeping the Sangheili mired in internal dissent would leave them unable to threaten the weakened UNSC. In 2553, Parangosky assigned Osman to lead an intelligence team on a covert mission to sow dissent among the Sangheili, disguised as a diplomatic mission. These activities included having Kilo-Five secretly assist Avu Med 'Telcam and the Servants of the Abiding Truth in their war against 'Vadam and his followers, going so far as to destroy several of 'Vadam's ships in order to allow 'Telcam's forces to escape during the rebels' failed assault on 'Vadam's keep. She was also planning to wipe out the entire species and colonize Sanghelios itself, in the event that ONI's efforts to create civil war amongst the Sangheili failed. 
Parangosky's plan backfired when Jul 'Mdama, a Sangheili prisoner in ONI custody, escaped from the ONI facility at Trevelyan. 'Mdama, who had learned of ONI's plot to turn his people against each other, would eventually forge a new Covenant from the old client races. When Parangosky learned of 'Mdama's escape, she was furious and had Dr. Irena Magnusson, the director of Trevelyan, detained for her failure.
Parangosky also planned to obtain the CCS-class battlecruiser Pious Inquisitor with the intention of reverse-engineering its ventral beam for use against Sangheili colony worlds. Kilo-Five was tasked with capturing the battlecruiser; however, they were ultimately unsuccessful and the ship was destroyed.
On October 31, 2556 General R. Dellert suggested to Fleet Admiral Hood that he may want to have a "heart-to-heart" discussion with Parangosky. The general had gotten word of a specialized Spartan-IV operation carried out earlier that year which could jeopardize the UEG-Sangheili political relationship Hood had been expending effort toward.
When a Forerunner artifact onboard UNSC Infinity threatened the ship during its second tour on Requiem, Parangosky sent Dr. Halsey a note requesting her aid in the matter. While she admitted that ONI held Halsey in less than ideal conditions and that she was not in a position to ask her personal favors, she appealed to the doctor's commitment to humanity's survival to help the crew of Infinity.
Personality and traits
- "Strength through Paranoia."
- — Parangosky's personal motto
Parangosky's reputation within the UNSC stems not only from her powerful position as the head of ONI, but also from her intimidating force of will. She is shrewd and highly intelligent, and combined with her cold demeanor these qualities make her an imposing figure despite her age; Dr. Halsey regarded her as one of the few people that she was genuinely afraid of. Her usual persona was that of a curt, professional leader. However, the reputation surrounding her ruthlessness streak were well founded. As head of ONI, Parangosky held almost unlimited power within the UNSC to conduct espionage, order assassinations and coordinate high risk, top secret projects and operations. She was responsible, among other things, for authorizing Colonel James Ackerson's SPARTAN-III project, the SPARTAN-IV project, and was aware of the construction of the UNSC Infinity. Many viewed her as the true power operating behind the UNSC's military government. This could most clearly be seen by her initiative to destabilize Elite society on Sanghelios. This project was carried out despite the fact that Lord Admiral Hood, the de facto head of the UNSC during the final days of the war, was conducting high-level peace negotiations with the Arbiter. Parangosky doubted that a single Elite, no matter how noble, could fully restrain Covenant splinter factions from waging war against humanity. Her world view was explained by her protege Serin Osman as, "It doesn't matter what your enemy's intentions are, only their capabilities."
While her position has allowed her to authorize numerous programs that may be seen as ethically questionable, Parangosky has been shown to nonetheless possess a moral code. In her own view, she willingly played the part of devil's advocate, sacrificing the needs of the few for the many. The Admiral held no illusions that she held any sort of moral high ground. She viewed the SPARTAN-III project as a tragic necessity, sacrificing hundreds for potentially billions. Although Parangosky originally resented the compassion Catherine Halsey showed for her Spartans and saw Halsey's feelings as a liability, her attitude changed with old age as she began to reexamine the decisions she had made over her career. Part of her self-reflection may have been the result of Dr. Graham Alban, a friend of hers who worked on the SPARTAN-II program, committing suicide over his guilt for being involved with the project, and likely fed Parangosky's existing antipathy for Halsey.
Parangosky saw Halsey's use of flash clones in the SPARTAN-II project as particularly unethical and demanded that the doctor answer for her use of the illegal technology. Although the Admiral had allowed the SPARTAN-II project to proceed, Parangosky believed that the use of flash clones, and the following trauma inflicted upon the families who watched their "children" sicken and die, was merely an attempt of Halsey to soothe her own conscience. Kidnapping in her mind was justified, lying to the public about the 'death' of the original Spartan candidates merely made matters worse. Parangosky bitterly remarked that as declassified information was slowly made public, many surviving families would come to know their dead children had in fact survived - only to have died fighting against the Covenant. In her own version of Contrapasso or poetic justice, she declared Dr. Halsey, at that time an unofficial fugitive of the UNSC for misappropriating Spartan assets, as KIA. Just as her Spartan candidates had been stripped of everything they knew and declared dead, forced into a life of perpetual service, so too would Halsey.
Parangosky viewed Serin Osman as both an heir and perhaps family. Serin was someone she could mentor, advise, and be supported by in the harsh and brutal world of military intelligence.
Behind the scenes
Parangosky is listed on an ONI memorial plaque inside the ONI Alpha Site in Halo 3: ODST. However, the Halo Encyclopedia states that she was still alive and onboard the Point of No Return by 2553, and she is a major character in the Kilo-Five Trilogy. This is presumably an Easter egg, given that all ONI personnel who had appeared in canon as of the game's development are listed on the memorial wall.
On August 2, 2019 Showtime revealed that in the television series the network is airing Margarget Parangosky will be played by celebrated Indian actress Shabana Azmi. The announcement described Parangosky as the head of the Office of Naval Intelligence. According to Azmi she had to give up two other projects in India already on her schedule in order to take the role, but she figured it would be worth it.
Shabana Azmi has won India's National Film Award for Best Actress five times, making her the record holder for this honor.
List of appearances
- Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, Chapter 2
- Data Drop #2
- Halo: Glasslands, Chapter 4
- Halo 4 Official Site: STORY
- Halo: Hunters in the Dark, page 38
- Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 80
- Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, Chapter 13
- Halo: Mortal Dictata, Chapter 2
- Halo: The Thursday War, Chapter 2
- Dr. Halsey's personal journal, August 8, 2510
- Halo: Glasslands, Chapter 18
- Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 3
- Halo: Evolutions, The Impossible Life and the Possible Death of Preston J. Cole
- Halo Encyclopedia, page 74
- Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, Chapter 8
- Halo Mythos, page 76
- Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, Chapter 10
- Data Drop #3
- Data Drop #4
- Data Drop #5
- Halo: Reach, Winter Contingency
- Halo Waypoint - Spartans
- Halo Legendary Crate, Data Drop #2
- Halo: The Thursday War, page 265
- Halo: Mortal Dictata, page 82
- Halo: Hunters in the Dark, Chapter 2
- Halo Legendary Crate, Data Drop #3
- Halo 4, Infinity Briefing Packet
- Halo: Glasslands, page 65
- Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 48 ("And for God's sake," she said, narrowing her eyes to slits, "Catherine Halsey must never know. Her bleeding-heart sympathies for the Spartans have won her too many admirers at CENTCOM.")
- Halo: Mortal Dictata, page 490
- Tumblr - Natascha McElhone, Bokeem Woodbine, Shabana Azmi, Bentley Kalu, Natasha Culzac and Kate Kennedy join the cast of Halo!
- the quint - Shabana Azmi to Star in Steven Spielberg’s Web Series ‘Halo’
- Halo on Showtime on Twitter