Project CHRYSANTHEMUM

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A screen monitoring Carter-A259's augmentations
"Read. New training protocols have been outlined as well as an improved augmentation regime. We've learned much from the unfortunate medical processes Dr. Halsey had at her disposal."
Colonel James Ackerson introducing the CHRYSANTHEMUM augmentations to Kurt Ambrose[1]

Project CHRYSANTHEMUM was the codename given to the biological augmentation procedures performed on the Spartan-III supersoldiers. They represented a significant improvement over the augmentations used in the previous SPARTAN-II program,[1] being safer and less invasive to perform while producing similar results.[2]

Background[edit]

Carter-A259 undergoing the Project CHRYSANTHEMUM augmentations

The CHRYSANTHEMUM bioaugmentation set improved upon the augmentations of the SPARTAN-II program,[1] pioneered by Dr. Catherine Halsey. With advances in technology, the casualty rate for Spartan-III candidates was usually 0%, as opposed to the 56% casualty rate of the Spartan-IIs. Most of the Spartan-IIIs' augmentations were chemically induced instead of surgically implanted like many of the Spartan-II enhancements.[2]

The genetic requirements for the Spartan-III candidates were loosened from the exceedingly strict criteria of the SPARTAN-II program,[1] although the range of compatible individuals still remained incredibly narrow, with any aberrations from the required genetic set geometrically increasing the failure rate.[3][4] Colonel James Ackerson, the mastermind of the SPARTAN-III program, requested to have mandatory genetic screening put in place in the Outer Colonies in order to find more genetic matches for his program, but the Office of Naval Intelligence leadership felt this would only provoke the colonists for further aggression against the UNSC.[3] As a result of the more lenient selection criteria, the Spartan-III candidate pool was less physically and psychologically consistent, with a higher likelihood of behavioral problems;[1] many of the Spartan-III candidates were more lively and predisposed for aggression than their forebears.[4]

While the CHRYSANTHEMUM augmentations still had to be administered at the onset of puberty as the bodies of either prepubescents or adults would reject the chemicals, Colonel Ackerson's age restriction protocol for the SPARTAN-III program was considerably looser than that of the Spartan-IIs.[3][5] The Spartan-III candidates' ages upon induction typically ranged from four to six years old,[6][7] with the nominal ages of some of them (such as Carter-A259) exhibiting more extreme deviation from the standard age range.[8]

Augmentations[edit]

All Spartan-IIIs[edit]

The schedule of the SPARTAN-III program was accelerated from that of the Spartan-IIs: because the Office of Naval Intelligence wanted to have the Spartans deployed in the field as rapidly as possible, the Spartan-IIIs were augmented at an average age of twelve, whereas the Spartan-IIs were fourteen during their augmentations. As puberty had not yet started for the majority of candidates at this time, they were given human growth hormone as well as cartilage, muscle and bone supplements added into their food over several months to artificially induce the onset of puberty. As a result, the candidates had the bodies of near-adult Olympic athletes at an average of only twelve years of age, and it took some time for them to acclimatize to their larger physiques.[5][note 1]

Drug Description Effect
8942-LQ99 "carbide ceramic ossification catalyst" drug.[2] Skeletons become virtually unbreakable, allowing survival in harder impacts.
88005-MX77 "fibroid muscular protein complex" drug.[2] Increased density of individual's muscles, greatly enhancing physical strength.
88947-OP24 "retina-inversion stabilizer" drug.[2] Color sharpness is significantly improved upon, and night vision is heightened.
87556-UD61 "improved colloidal neural disunification solution" drug.[2] Greatly improves the individual's reaction time, decreasing the time taken to react by 300%; "Spartan time".

In addition to their chemically-administered primary augmentations, Spartan-IIIs were subjected to a number of surgical alterations to enhance their capabilities.[9] Their circulatory systems were also augmented from the human baseline.[10] Like all UNSC Armed Forces personnel, the Spartan-IIIs are implanted with a neural interface.[11]

Gamma Company[edit]

In addition to the standard set of chemicals, Kurt Ambrose covertly had a set of three additional drugs added to the augmentations of Gamma Company in hopes of increasing their survivability in the field. All of the three had been outlawed by the UNSC Medical Corps in 2513.[12]

Drug Description Effect
009762-OO Neural-altering non-carcinogenic mutagen. Alters key regions in the individual's frontal lobe to enhance aggressive response, making the animal part of the brain more accessible in times of stress. This allows the subject access to enormous reserves of strength and endurance and enables them to remain fighting even under the influence of a wide systemic shock that would be instantly fatal to a normal human.[2][12] Depresses higher reason centers of the brain over time; requires regular doses of 009127-PX and 009927-DG to be taken to avoid uncontrollable aggression.[12]
009127-PX cyclodexione-4, bipolar integration drug Counters the effects of 009762-OO.[2][12]
009927-DG miso-olanzapine Counters the psychological effects of 009762-OO.[2][12]

Procedure[edit]

The CHRYSANTHEMUM procedures took place aboard the mobile hospital ship UNSC Hopeful. Because of the SPARTAN-III program's secrecy, the Hopeful was stationed in interstellar space at Vice Admiral Parangosky's order for the duration of the procedures. The ship's docking cluster Bravo and the eight decks surrounding it were entirely cleared of personnel to allow ONI to move in their personnel and equipment.[13]

The augmentations were administered over the course of a week; the subject was kept in a mostly sedated state throughout the process, which was conducted in a large, open operations room housing 400 sections separated by semi-opaque plastic curtains. Each compartment was filled with medical equipment, including a sterile field generator overhead as well as vital signs monitors and a chemotherapeutic infuser. The infuser contained vials for the various chemicals, which were administered to the subject via IV and osmotic patches. The Spartans were given a number of drugs to allow them to withstand the procedures themselves and counter their potential negative effects; these included shock reducers, analgesics, anti-inflammatories, anticoagulants, and pH buffers.[2]

Performance[edit]

A Spartan-III attacking a Sangheili Minor

Despite the Spartan-IIIs' expendable nature and lower-grade equipment than the Spartan-IIs, their enhancements represented a "quantum leap" over the previous program's bioaugmentation set.[1]

The muscular augmentations administered gave a Spartan-III the strength of "three normal soldiers".[9] During Operation: TORPEDO, Spartan-IIIs ran at a speed of nearly 30 KPH (around 18 MPH).[14] Spartan-IIIs were also described to have been moving with "speed and reflexes that no Covenant could follow". "They dodged, snapped necks and limbs, and with captured energy swords, they cut through the enemy until the field ran with rivers of gore and blue blood".[15] The Spartans of Team Foxtrot engaged six Kig-Yar in close quarters and left the aliens' bodies "snapped like rag dolls".[15] Tom-B292, 12 years old at the time and equipped with SPI armor, engaged a Sangheili armed with a plasma pistol and an energy sword in hand-to-hand combat. The Spartan's enhanced reflexes allowed him to dodge a plasma pistol bolt and sword swing at point blank range. He then proceeded to throw the Elite to the ground and finish it off with his assault rifle. During the battle, Elites and Kig-Yar moved out of cover because they realized that it was suicidal to face Spartans in close quarters.[15] Approximately 300 Spartan-IIIs faced thousands upon thousands of Covenant, including Covenant air support, and were described to have been winning the battle until 7 Covenant cruisers emerged as reinforcements.[15] During the battle on Pegasi Delta, most of Beta Company were roughly twelve years old. The physical abilities of any Spartan-IIIs who lived long enough to mature would supposedly have improved significantly as CPO Mendez stated that Spartans only grew stronger and faster as their bodies grew accustomed to their augmentations.[16][note 2]

During the Battle of Onyx, one of the Spartan-IIIs briefly fought the Mjolnir-armored Kelly-087. The Spartan-III in question was able to momentarily hold their own against Kelly, being strong enough to twist Kelly's wrist and escape from her arm lock as well, despite wearing only SPI armor. While Kelly was able to quickly defeat the Spartan-III afterward with a palm strike, she took note that she would have easily torn her opponent's arm off if he or she were unaugmented.[17] Upon failing to convince Tom-B292 to leave his side, Kurt Ambrose struck Tom in the jaw with force enough to lift him half a meter off the ground. This only rendered Tom unconscious and caused no permanent damage.[18]

As they were attempting to escape the Olympic Tower on Reach, Jun-A266, Emile-A239, and Carter-A259, all wearing Mjolnir armor, ran towards a fallout bunker at around 36 mph to 43 mph (58 kph to 69 kph).[19][note 3] While making his last stand on Reach, SPARTAN-B312, likewise wearing Mjolnir armor, knocked out a Sangheili General with a single elbow strike and shot him twice in the head as he was struggling to get up. He then continued to make his final effort by dealing single strikes to multiple Ultras and Zealots causing them to forcefully stagger backwards, before being subdued himself.[20]

The Spartan-IIIs' augmentations allow them to remain conscious and even function effectively while exposed to the vacuum of space for up to a minute. However, the Spartans still suffer from the negative effects of exposure to space and require medical treatment directly after to recover.[21]

Although the carbide ceramic ossification rendered the Spartan-IIIs' bones "virtually unbreakable",[2] they can still be broken by extreme physical trauma. This was demonstrated when Olivia-G291's legs were broken in several places[22] by a three-meter-long slab of rock falling on them.[23]

While most Spartan-IIIs were issued with Semi-Powered Infiltration armor as opposed to Mjolnir for budgetary reasons, a small number of Spartan-III candidates—called "cat 2s" by Kurt Ambrose—were set apart from the general population of the program by Ambrose and Franklin Mendez on the basis of their exceptional skill and performance either in general or in specific fields.[24][25][26] These Spartans were removed from the program's mainline companies, given Mjolnir armor and assigned to separate special forces units.[27] Kurt regarded the "cat 2" Spartan-IIIs as being on par with the Spartan-IIs, though he would also later assess Gamma Company on the whole as being comprised of the "finest Spartans ever".[5] Additionally, Dr. Catherine Halsey noted how SPARTAN-B312's "hyper-lethal" rating was shared by only one other Spartan, and remarked that Jun-A266's skills as a sniper were "unmatched".[28] Similarly, Mark-G313 was noted as being the best sharpshooter of his detail, which at the time consisted of Team Saber and Fred-104,[29] who was the second-best sniper among the Spartan-IIs.[30] Additionally, during Operation: JOVIAN WHISTLE, Mark stealthily eliminated numerous Jiralhanae warriors, leading Fred-104 to deem his skills exceptional even by Spartan standards.[31]

Gamma Company[edit]

Veta Lopis: "And if you don't get your injections, you... what? Start hearing voices? Go berserk?"
Ash-G099: "Something like that. Except we don't always hear voices."
Mark-G313: "Or see flying dinosaurs. That only happens sometimes."
Olivia-G291: "But we can usually... read thoughts. I kind of like that, especially when there are civilians around, thinking about sex and stuff."
—Exchange between Special Inspector Veta Lopis and the three Gamma Company Spartans of Blue Team regarding the latter's augmentations in a joking manner[32]

The mutagen 009762-OO, administered only to the Spartans of Gamma Company, makes the Spartans almost completely immune to shock under extreme stress, allowing them to endure injuries and physical pain beyond a Spartan-II; for example, Dante-G188 was able to function for some time after a number of Needler rounds had blown his chest open, initially not even realizing his grave injuries.[33] As a side effect, the drug suppresses higher brain functions over time; without the regularly administered counteragents, cyclodexione-4 and miso-olanzapine (the cocktails containing which are colloquially known among the Gamma Company Spartans as "Smoothers"),[34] the Spartan will lose their strategic judgment and become more prone to impulsive, instinct-driven behavior.[35] This may also occur in combat under extreme pain and stress; after both of her legs were broken, Olivia-G291 engaged and destroyed an Aggressor Sentinel by smashing it repeatedly with a "rock as large as her torso" in an uncontrolled berserk rage.[22][note 4] Fred-104 noted that she could easily have indiscriminately attacked both allies and enemies in this state, and in order to immediately return her to normal, Fred was forced to strike her in the head with the butt of his rifle. The blow had enough force to knock off her helmet and was just enough to snap her out of this state.[36] It should be noted that life-threatening—or, indeed, even fatal—injuries do not invariably result in uncontrollable aggression, as demonstrated by the example of Dante-G188, who calmly limped into safety before saluting Lieutenant Commander Ambrose and informing the commander that he had been "nicked".[33] Rather, Olivia's case is suggested to have been the result of her using her immense pain to compound her strength and rage to the point she could no longer control herself.[22]

There are several different types of "Smoother". The most common type used during combat operations is administered via a hypodermic injection and lasts approximately twelve hours, after which its effectiveness begins to steadily decrease. Several factors such as stress and fatigue can precipitate the mental unraveling process.[37] The first symptoms, appearing within several hours after the Smoothers' effect wears off, include nervousness and irritability,[38][39] eventually followed by paranoia, fits of temper and physical outbursts.[37] After well over a day without a Smoother injection,[39] Mark-G313 began having difficulties distinguishing friend from foe in the middle of a firefight, holding a combat knife to a Marine sergeant's throat before being successfully convinced by Fred-104 that the Marine was an ally rather than an enemy infiltrator.[40] Another, significantly more expensive type of Smoother is a subcutaneous insert with a longer-lasting effect. While they can only be changed out in a medical facility, they also cannot be lost or destroyed during a mission like the more commonly used kind.[41]

Trivia[edit]

The Birth of a Spartan live-action commercial for Halo: Reach depicts Carter-A259's eyes changing color from hazel to light blue as a byproduct of his retinal augmentations, a side effect not described in any other media. Several augmented Spartan-IIIs have been shown to have different eye colors,[42][43] implying that the effect was not universal. The effect may have stemmed from Carter being much older than his peers when undergoing the augmentations.

List of appearances[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ These hormonal treatments supposedly replaced the catalytic thyroid implants received by the Spartan-IIs as part of their augmentation procedures. When describing the CHRYSANTHEMUM augmentations, Halo: Ghosts of Onyx does not mention the Spartan-IIIs receiving the growth hormone catalyst in the form of a thyroid implant like the Spartan-IIs. Since the Spartan-IIIs received human growth hormone months prior to receiving their augmentations, it can be inferred that the catalytic thyroid implant was rendered redundant since both serve the same purpose.
  2. ^ While Mendez's statement was in reference to the Spartan-IIs, it can be assumed to hold true to their successors due to the similar nature of the augmentations.
  3. ^ During the last cutscene of the level "New Alexandria", Kat mentions that the fallout bunker in the building is 96 meters from there current location. Jun, Emile, and Carter cross this distance in approximately 5 to 6 seconds. Which would mean that they ran anywhere between 36 mph to 43 mph (58 kph to 69 kph)
  4. ^ Assuming the rock was made from limestone, which was mentioned to be present in the cave on page 114 of Halo: Last Light, the rock potentially could have weighed anywhere from 1,400lbs to 11,200lbs (approx. 630 to 5000 kilograms) depending on the relative size of Olivia's torso and the gravity on Gao. Link to boulder weight scale.

Sources[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Halo: Ghost of Onyx, page 63
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, pages 101-102
  3. ^ a b c Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, pages 82-83
  4. ^ a b Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, pages 67-68, 70
  5. ^ a b c Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, pages 98, 100
  6. ^ Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 362
  7. ^ Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 16
  8. ^ Bungie.net: Carter-A259 Personnel Profile
  9. ^ a b Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 99
  10. ^ Halo: Fractures, "Lessons Learned", page 6
  11. ^ Halo: Glasslands, page 188
  12. ^ a b c d e Halo: Ghost of Onyx, page 107
  13. ^ Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 97
  14. ^ Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 17
  15. ^ a b c d Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, pages 21-23
  16. ^ Halo: The Fall of Reach, page 73
  17. ^ Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 165
  18. ^ Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 369
  19. ^ Halo: Reach, campaign level New Alexandria
  20. ^ Halo: Reach, campaign level Lone Wolf
  21. ^ Halo: Fractures, "Lessons Learned", page 5
  22. ^ a b c Halo: Last Light, page 114
  23. ^ Halo: Last Light, page 118 (Google Play edition)
  24. ^ Halo Waypoint: Kat-B320
  25. ^ Halo Waypoint: Cater-A259
  26. ^ Halo Waypoint: Emile-A239
  27. ^ Bungie.net: Communique from Kurt to Mendez
  28. ^ Halo: Reach ViDoc: A Spartan Will Rise
  29. ^ Halo: Last Light, page 108
  30. ^ Halo: First Strike - The Definitive Edition, page 194
  31. ^ Halo: Last Light, pages 152-154 (Google Play edition)
  32. ^ Halo: Last Light, page 136 (Google Play edition)
  33. ^ a b Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 309
  34. ^ Halo: Last Light, page 123 (Google Play edition)
  35. ^ Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 340
  36. ^ Halo: Last Light, pages 102-104 (Google Play edition)
  37. ^ a b Halo: Last Light, pages 145-146 (Google Play edition)
  38. ^ Halo: Last Light, page 182 (Google Play edition)
  39. ^ a b Halo: Last Light, page 214-215 (Google Play edition)
  40. ^ Halo: Last Light, page 247 (Google Play edition)
  41. ^ Halo: Last Light, page 249 (Google Play edition)
  42. ^ Halo: Last Light, cover art & pages 104, 106 (Google Play edition)
  43. ^ Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 98