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Erin Coney
Coney1.png
Biographical Information

ALIAS

Codename: THORN

DATE OF BIRTH

September 18th, 2476

HOMEWORLD

New Montreal, Camber

Physical Information

GENDER

Female

HAIR COLOR

Black

EYE COLOR

Blue

Political/Military Information

RANK

AAO O-3.png Lieutenant (O-3)

BRANCH

UNSC-Navy-logo1.png UNSC Navy

AFFILIATION

Office of Naval Intelligence symbol.pngOffice of Naval Intelligence

[Source]
"Parangosky always had her own little black ops agents running around, aspiring to be more. She gives them power, uses them for her own ends, then kills them off before they can become threats. But THORN was the first, and Parangosky didn’t realize when she'd grown beyond her control."
―Captain Aaron Gibson

In a past life, Erin Natalia Coney felt pride—if she felt anything at all—in being a living weapon, relinquishing the right to so much as her own identity to more efficiently remove obstacles from the path of her patron, then-Captain Margaret Parangosky. Under the Codename: THORN, she would be Parangosky's right hand in her ascension to power over the Office of Naval Intelligence. But for all her training as a member of Project: ORION and an ONI operative, her utter loyalty left her blindsided when Parangosky attempted to have her killed at the first mistaken sign of disobedience. Learning to fend for herself amid the myriad opportunities for assignment to suicide missions during the Human-Covenant War, Erin struggled with escaping her past until working alongside a pair of SPARTAN-IIs: Vinh-030 and Isaac-039. Discreetly arranging transfer for herself to Onyx, Erin assisted in the training of the top-secret Gamma Company and began learning to want for herself again. Becoming field advisor for a number of teams when the young Spartans graduated, Erin subverted the will of ONI and the UNSC by assigning herself and Team Machete to a remote posting on the recolonization survey ship UNSC Themistocles and eventually the UNSC Infinity. After a disastrous accident revealed how long she'd flaunted ONI's will, however, Erin was coerced into serving at the pleasure of ONI's highest echelons once again as overseer for Fireteam Nephthys.

Biography

The Hotshot

Early Life and Enlistment

"A little friendly competition only hurts when you're the loser!"
―Erin was known to provoke competition when none was forthcoming.
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Erin and William 'Bill' Coney.

While records of her past have been classified, erased, fabricated, and erased again by Parangosky's plants in Section Zero and later by Coney herself, Erin's life began unremarkably in New Montreal on Camber, a colonial world heavily invested in shipbuilding industries on behalf of the UNSC. The youngest of seven children in a struggling household, Erin quickly learned to compete with her brothers for their parents' attention, developing into a streak by the time she'd entered her teen years. Joining her siblings in roaming the streets whenever their dwelling felt too crowded, which was frequently, she started taking part in aggressive freerunning races through the city's lower districts with their friends, sometimes complicated by challenges like shoplifting or retrieving something stashed in dangerous places such as the Halifax Spacewerx industrial yard. Learning from her brothers before she ever began, Erin never failed to complete a race nor was ever caught by police when their races took them into restricted areas. By her mid-teens, Erin was in excellent physical shape and outrunning boys with years more experience, becoming the city's undisputed best runner.[1]

Though her parents expressed hope she would follow her brothers into lucrative work on Camber's orbital shipyards, the longstanding distance in their relationship led Erin to resent their intentions for her, well though they were, and at sixteen applied to the Corbulo Academy of Military Science partially out of spite. Upon acceptance, she left for Circinius IV and rarely communicated with home, throwing herself into her studies without reservation. Competitive as ever, Erin quickly surpassed her peers both in exercises thanks to her athletic life prior and academically as she deliberately shunned free time in favor of her studies. Erin made few friend as she went out of her way to set records in her classmates' areas of study, but did attract the notice of headhunters for the Office of Naval Intelligence. In 2492, before Erin was set to graduate, she was called for an interview with an ONI recruiter who offered her a place in an experimental and top-secret initiative, one which could place her among some of the UNSC's most highly-skilled operatives. Pleased her fiercely self-centered approach had been validated, Erin dismissed warnings about the program's inherent risks and restricted contact with the outside world and volunteered.

Project: ORION

"I've been saying little girls could run these courses faster, but I never thought the Corps would agree!"
―One of ORION's drill instructors upon learning of Erin's inclusion.

After its success in human augmentation for the military with its initial sixty-five subjects starting in 2491, Project: ORION's leadership sought to glean more from the experiment by diversifying Phase II's hundred-candidate pool. At seventeen, Erin was easily the youngest ORION member upon acceptance following several months of additional screening, including her completion of Special Forces training with the rank of Sergeant. More than conspicuous amidst the cadre of veterans from all branches of service with the Colonial Military Administration and United Nations Space Command, Erin was treated initially as a joke and imminent washout by the other candidates while the intense physical training began to condition them for augmentation. Worse yet, Erin found she couldn't easily place among the top scorers, blunting her confidence as she couldn't immediately find success for the first time since before enrolling at the academy. The derision of her comrades, however, only drove her to fight harder, and Erin never failed to at least keep up. As she gradually improved, her fellow ORIONs were forced to acknowledge her capabilities.

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Erin during her time in ORION.

Finally, Erin and the other candidates were subjected to chemical and surgical augmentations, which were hoped would greatly enhance both mental and physical abilities beyond what a normal human could hope to achieve. These procedures carried significant risks, however: numerous preceding subjects had experienced fatal complications, and with her age making her such an extreme outlying variable, Erin's projected chances of survival were low. Astoundingly, however, Erin would not only survive and cope with ORION's experimental augmentations, but upon full recovery weeks later displayed some of the highest proportional increases across practically all categories, from strength and speed to mental acuity and reaction time. Analysis of the data from her augmentation would confirm Erin's age had been the decisive factor, which would prove critical to Dr. Catherine Halsey's research years later and lead her to use even younger subjects for the SPARTAN-IIs. Meanwhile, ORION's new graduates would spend months acclimating to their new abilities, during which Erin and her comrades would break longstanding records in team and solo exercises.

The first field test of ORION—and Erin herself—would come in 2596 when the supersoldiers were deployed to Eridanus II as part of Operation: CHARLEMAGNE, stamping out a secessionist takeover of a UEG colony. During the operation, Erin was disappointed not to be assigned to an assault team until learning she would have a more crucial role: preserving the secrecy of the ORION project by ensuring no witnesses to their raids were left behind. While other teams carried out raids on Insurrectionist strongholds, Erin would intercept and jam their communications and coordinate with snipers and artillery to eliminate fleeing survivors. While she would carry out her first kills over the course of the operation, it was her work as an advisor which earned her a commendation for enabling the ORIONs to carry out their goals completely undetected. Her efficiency and attention to detail in running covert ops and maintaining operational security would be overshadowed by the wider success of ORION's supersoldiers, except in the eyes of one ONI officer: Codename: MAGPIE, Captain Margaret Parangosky.

Like many in ONI, Parangosky possessed ruthless personal ambition and the cunning to act on it, siphoning assets for her personal use while rapidly ascending the Office's ranks. ORION's success had garnered her attention, and she became interested in Erin specifically thanks not only to her strategic and tactical abilities, but her lack of previous loyalty to anyone in the UNSC. Requiring further proof of her character, Parangosky subtly manipulated the course of Erin's career by modifying parameters to make her appear more ideal for counterintelligence operations, guaranteeing her a place among the ORIONs assigned to Operation: VERITAS. In the following year, Erin conducted missions against the Secessionist Union and other Insurrectionist groups which demonstrated her willingness to carry out espionage, blackmail, murder, and even torture without hesitation. Pleased with Erin's evident amorality, Parangosky arranged a meeting in which she framed Erin's previous choice assignments as 'gifts' and offered her a place in her personal retinue. Never having felt included by her comrades in ORION, Erin gratefully agreed to help her seize advancement and rise at her side.

The Agent

Internal Struggles

Nemean.png
Erin as an ONI agent, outfitted with a NEMEAN bodysuit.
"Rule one of surviving as the underdog: don't do a job unless your enemies think they made you."
―A page from Parangosky's rules for Strength through Paranoia.

With Erin's whereabouts already classified under ORION, Parangosky enabled her to all but disappear from UNSC records and undergo officer training with the Navy under a cover identity. With command expertise under her belt, Erin was handed over to a legendary ONI wetwork operative, Codename: GRANDMASTER, to hone her talents for espionage, counterintelligence, and other skills her survival in the Office of Naval Intelligence would require. This mentor instructed Erin not only in how to plan and execute covert operations or circumvent security systems, but also introduced her to the landscape of ONI: hundreds of officers heading dozens of departments overseeing thousands of projects from surveillance to research and development, all competing for funding or support to expand their influence. Corruption and cronyism was rampant in the organization thanks to its exceptional power and minute accountability. GRANDMASTER eventually revealed that—despite not being immune to the same faults, as Erin's own recruitment proved—Erin's patron was in a minority with both the capability for and interest in forcing these squabbling departments to perform their intended functions, which had earned her GRANDMASTER's favor. Coming to believe in Parangosky's potential to one day assume command over all of ONI herself by the time her training was done, Erin was commissioned with the rank of Lieutenant in 2598 and took up her role as Parangosky's right hand under the Codename: THORN.

Since the disgrace and discharge of Parangosky's own sponsor into ONI by rival machinations, Parangosky had been left a relative outsider in its establishment. Without powerful friends, she would have been vulnerable to sidelining by bureaucratic alliances were it not for the plan she'd conceived. After the UEG had expanded ONI's power to undermine the Colonial Administration Authority as it grew interested in more direct control of its colonies, parts of the organization which hadn't been immediately absorbed were all but abandoned, including its intelligence arm, the Department of Colonial Security. Widely viewed as a defeated and broken institution after failing to counter ONI's efforts, Parangosky sought the posting as its head to remove herself from her rivals' minds. Erin's first task on Parangosky's behalf would be to plant information which led the council of directors and section chiefs in charge of the appointment to think of MAGPIE as a threat to be rid of, revealing what leverage they had against her to force her to accept the posting. Given exactly what she wanted and better understanding her enemies' methods, Parangosky acquiesced and rebased to the Outer Colonies, away from ONI's centers of power, where she would begin to transform the DCS into her personal army.

"I get to lie and cheat and kill, and it's all perfectly legal—or almost, once we've finished rewriting the rules."
―Codename: THORN expressing her job satisfaction.

Despite being overwhelmed by ONI's concentrated force and having its leadership dissolved, the DCS still retained an expansive network of agents throughout the Inner and Outer Colonies, none of whom—like Erin—had pre-existing loyalties in the UNSC. This made them ideal recruits for Parangosky's personal agenda, as she could be assured none were plants from rival ONI factions and had already settled into a proven working dynamic. Over the following years, while other members of her staff developed a new command structure and ensured the loyalty of the DCS's agents, Parangosky employed Erin as a scalpel to remove potential threats once they had been identified. Part of the UEG's excuse for usurping the CAA had been its infiltration by Insurrectionist sympathizers, some of which remained. When these were identified, Erin would be tasked with their termination or capture for interrogation—assignments she achieved a perfect rate of success in. Thanks to both her reliability and appreciation of her patron's vision for ONI, Erin and Parangosky also developed a rare warm working relationship, trusting one another not to hesitate in the face of drastic measures necessary for Parangosky to secure her position.

Thanks in part to Erin's work, the DCS was under Parangosky's complete control in just a few years, not only monitoring threats to colonial stability per its mission statement with increased efficiency but keeping tabs on the various facilities and projects her rivals in ONI staffed and operated. For the next phase of Parangosky's scheme, the missions Erin carried out would for the most part change in only one significant way: her targets were no longer Insurrectionist moles, but operatives like herself pledged to aid Parangosky's rivals in their own pursuits of power in the Office. While these were typically simple assassinations or leaks staged to look like the work of other competing factions, stoking conflicts which would weaken Parangosky's enemies, Erin would also infrequently take up new identities to infiltrate and spy on their rivals' projects. While she was offered promises of power on multiple occasions in the course of these placements from figures of higher stature than her own patron, Erin's loyalties never wavered, and Parangosky praised in particular her hand in the embarrassment of one of the officers who'd forced her into becoming head of the DCS by orchestrating his divorce and loss of illegally-held funds stored in private shared bank accounts. In the scandal's wake, Parangosky was able to strike a surreptitious deal for her elevation to Rear Admiral as chief of security for all of Section Three.

Despite the authority of her new position, the Rear Admiral's swift recovery from what should have been a dead-end posting earned her the notice of every aspiring officer in ONI. Now that she had something worth taking, Parangosky would more often be the target of schemes from both rivals seeking to install their own loyal agents and junior officers hoping to climb the same ladders. Fortunately, her loyal spies in the DCS kept her informed of threats as they developed, allowing her to proactively foil these plots rather than react to their damage done. With her increased scope of responsibilities, however, she increasingly delegated the task to Erin, coming to trust her as a personal watchdog. With permission to direct DCS agents to gather whatever intelligence she needed, Erin often carried out the wetwork necessary to spare her patron the inconvenience of attacks, but was also given command of a small cadre of her own agents to oversee. With this praetorian guard in place, Parangosky was free to wage political war on those seeking to make ONI serve them rather than the other way around, slowing their machinations with security audits and exposing criminal activity without the fear of reprisal which had kept corrupt factions in check with each other for decades. Simultaneously, cutthroat threats and blackmail as fierce as that which came before brought resources and jurisdictions under her thumb or crushed them under her heel.

Though bribery had brought her into initial power in Section Three, Parangosky's own undisputed dominance secured her ascension to Commander-In-Chief of ONI less than a decade later, as the former director's own chosen successor failed a test of judgement in a situation engineered by Parangosky and Erin. With any officers or project leaders who could've posed a credible threat either defanged or brought into line, its new commander was able to steer the Office into more productively combating the Insurrection while setting up mechanisms to prevent it from sliding back into bureaucratic infighting. Parangosky chose Erin to lead the implementation of these programs, which as an open secret between them functioned as a test of Erin's ability to smoothly run the house Parangosky had built, training her to one day succeed her as CINCONI. Under Parangosky, the Office's authority and influence expanded, seeing the position of its head promoted to Rear Admiral of the Upper Half and eventually Vice Admiral.

An External Threat

Decades of Parangosky and Erin's best-laid plans for maintaining stability in the UEG's administration and colonies were suddenly disrupted when in 2525, humanity's first contact with alien life ended in hostilities and the razing of an entire world. Thinking diplomatic channels might still save the situation, the UNSC—ONI included—were still unprepared when the glassing of Second Base swiftly followed. As Parangosky moved to persuade the UEG's leaders to abandon negotiation and ready for war, she instructed Erin to personally recover data from and destroy a partially-decommissioned bunker on Green Hills, suspecting the Covenant had found another human colony so quickly by recovering navigational data from human systems like the Tiara on Harvest. By the time she woke from cryostasis aboard the UNSC Storm Warning upon arrival, however, the colony was already under attack, and Erin was forced to throw ONI's weight behind a request to the Storm Warning’s captain to deploy an ODST squad in support of her mission.

"Aw, y'know how it goes. Boy meets girl, saves her from aliens in an exploding secret base, girl saves boy from black ops hit. Tale as old as time."
―Pete Stacker on his first meeting with Erin Coney.

Upon reaching Green Hills' surface, Erin was advised by the ODSTs, Kilo-40, that a landing party consisting entirely of important-looking Sangheili was headed toward the bunker. Despite knowing to engage them was likely suicide, Erin ordered Kilo-40 to ambush the Sangheili and delay them as long as possible before falling back for extraction while she completed her task. After entering the bunker, however, she found what Parangosky had really desired to hide: evidence of her involvement in authorizing the SPARTAN-II program. Recovering the information for her patron, Erin primed the facility's fail-safe explosives only for its security systems to alert her to the Sangheili breaching the bunker's sole entrance, trapping her. Nonetheless prepared to give her life for Parangosky's interests, Erin had resolved to set off the charges when the Sangheili were attacked from behind by one of the ODSTs, clearing her way enough for both of them to make a narrow escape. Though Erin berated him for not following orders on the way to their extraction, the trooper argued adamantly against leaving people behind. Struck by his idealism despite knowing she'd his squad had been sent on a suicide mission, Erin made a snap decision to kill the ONI agent in charge of their extraction when the agent attempted to execute the trooper for what he may have seen in the bunker. Making sense of the indiscretion during the return slipspace journey, Erin and Corporal Stacker entered a brief intimate relationship only to part once the trip ended.

As soon as BRIAR, one of the agents Erin had been given, picked her up and departed the Storm Warning, however, BRIAR attempted to kill her by releasing a nerve agent in their shuttle's crew compartment. Narrowly surviving the attack by blowing out the shuttle's viewport and repressurizing with the emergency oxygen once BRIAR and the tainted air had been flushed into vacuum, Erin immediately diverted course to a safehouse to assess how far the threat extended. Once there, she discovered the order for her termination had come from none other than Parangosky herself. Devastated by the betrayal and lost as to why her patron would so suddenly end their long and mutually beneficial relationship, Erin swiftly retooled every asset at her disposal to ensure her own survival, sequestering resources and erasing documentation which could be used against her. With this accomplished, she used BRIAR's channel to contact Parangosky and explain she would be transferring, threatening to give the information recovered on Green Hills to her enemies if assassination attempts continued. With a temporary armistice with CINCONI in place, Erin proceeded to disappear among the Office's bureaucratic and conspiratorial departments.

Burn Notice

"You spend years perfecting all the ways to work a system—tell the right lies, grease the right palms, knock off the ones who won't play ball. And then forget someone who doesn't care about the game could come and knock all the cards down."
―Erin remarks on ONI's unpreparedness to counter the Covenant.

Erin spent more than the first decade of the Human-Covenant War figuratively on the run, operating as a free agent within ONI by trading her knowledge and abilities to powerful and often competing divisions in exchange for asylum from Parangosky. Despite the material she'd collected on Green Hills and her intimate knowledge of Parangosky's means of controlling ONI, her former patron had moved quickly to bury any corroborating evidence of claims Erin could make, and Erin herself refrained from sharing everything with any one party. This was in part to protect herself, always ensuring her continued usefulness, but also to protect Parangosky; despite her betrayal, sabotaging CINCONI in the midst of a war all humanity was losing would have catastrophic consequences, ones which Erin wasn't prepared to see through in exchange for her own life. Though she crossed paths with and bested Parangosky's assassins on many occasions, over three quarters of her chronological time was spent in cryostasis as she found refuge in vessels isolated for long periods in slipspace, awakening only for brief intervals to exchange favors with one duplicitous figure or another.

In early 2539, this series of deals and deceptions brought her into hiding right under Parangosky's nose in Section Three itself, providing operational support for NAVSPECWEP. Tasked with oversight of two SPARTAN-II operatives, Vinh-030 and Isaac-039, Erin participated in a string of classified ops aimed at disrupting Insurrectionist activity on colonies critical to the war effort against the Covenant. While carrying out a sting on Kholo, however, the surprise arrival of the Covenant Fleet of Righteous Vigilance cut the operation short only for the Spartans to be cut off from Erin's extraction. Though she was barely able to direct them to a civilian shelter before losing contact as the glassing began, Erin remained in orbit undetected aboard the UNSC Nightshade, reluctant to give up hope they'd survived since the deaths of two SPARTAN-IIs would lead to audits of the mission by Section Zero, increasing the risks of Parangosky finding her. Her faith was rewarded upon receiving a distress signal from them far below the surface, and Erin managed to commandeer a platoon of Air Assault ODSTs to deploy and hijack a Scarab from Covenant troops trying to dig them out.

While doctoring their mission reports to smooth over the incident and return to their next task, however, Vinh and Isaac approached her in confidence to report Vinh was pregnant. Thinking they would die beneath Kholo's surface, Vinh and Isaac had indulged in feelings they'd long had for each other without thought of consequences, and wanted to keep the child, but feared what NAVSPECWEP and their ONI controllers might decide about the reduction in combat efficiency allowing Vinh time to see the term through represented. Despite her chagrin at the unexpected problem, Erin both suspected their fears were well-founded—and reasoned her years of experience hiding within ONI made her the best possible intercessor to keep their indiscretion hidden, and agreed to cover for them. After arranging funds and quietly transferring Vinh to a hospital on Reach, Erin would spend the next year altering mission reports and leading Isaac to carry out the Spartans' assignments alone, making occasional visits to Vinh's accomodations in New Alexandria. In this time, Erin developed her first real ongoing friendships since Parangosky with the two Spartans, and began to reassess her own life as she observed their happiness together.

This status quo could only last so long, however, as Erin and Isaac completed their last assigned operation just two months after Vinh had given birth to a boy they named Daniel. As Vinh would be required to report with Isaac for their next assignment, the couple entrusted Daniel's welfare to Erin, placing him in foster care in New Alexandria where Erin could easily keep tabs on him. Having spent more than a year under NAVSPECWEP by then, Erin would also be parting with the two Spartans, as contact would increase the risk of discovery both for Erin and their child. Though she regretted saying goodbye to the first people she'd been close to in a very long time, it led her to reflect that while she had once prided herself on being self-sufficient and not needing such attachments, her lack of choice in forming attachments now made her miss the possibility of them. The experience would inspire her to seek a particular assignment to disappear to next, and in 2543 transferred into the SPARTAN-III Program on the ONI-redacted world of Onyx to help gather and train the candidates of Gamma Company.

The Advisor

SPARTAN-III Program

Battle of Earth

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Erin in Ryu Base's command center.
"Zealots don’t quit, Spartan, they just come back twice as mean and four times as crazy."
―Erin cautions Ion Team.


Aboard Themistocles

Aboard Infinity

The Prisoner

Personality and Traits

Notes and References

  1. Gangs of children competing in an outlandish sport is something of an homage to kids shows like Medabots, Beyblade, and Digimon that the author grew up with.

Deceased

ORION Personnel
Phase 1 Kian BekkarTobias CrowleyGalo EscárcegaAndrew JohnsonFrederick KingRoy KoelAnton LaMarcheArnold LewisRichard MackFelix MartelJess MorleyThomas PershingJerrold Pershing Sr.Sieghard SchuchardtBartosz SówkaEllison SuarezHector ThornhillLouise WilliamsHank Wimbleton
Phase 2 John AcktonErin ConeyDaniel ContrerasRiley FranklinSteven HawkinsMarion HollisterRichard JonesTeresa MorrisonViktor PerrinHarold Redford
Phase 3 Grant AndersonCodename: DRACULADean JacksonNoah Sówka
Phase 4 Nolan ByrneAshley CoemanAvery JohnsonJoseph KovacsCarmen OcampoCarissa ZhengDaniel Mathis Sr.Marcus Buchanan
SPARTAN-1.1 Julius Bruening IIIKane Hollister-KingRen T. JonesRichard Mack JuniorDaniel Mathis Jr.Alexander RedfordJace WilliamsJackson Williams
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