Project CHRYSANTHEMUM

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A screen monitoring Carter-A259's augmentations.

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]

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] In contrast to the SPARTAN-IIs who were consistently taller than the average human, the SPARTAN-III candidates were also less uniform in terms of physical stature.[5] However, there were a small number of SPARTAN-III candidates—called "cat 2s" by Kurt Ambrose—who would have met the requirements for the SPARTAN-II program; some of them would later be removed from their mainline companies, given better equipment and assigned to separate special forces units.[6]

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][7] The SPARTAN-III candidates' ages upon induction typically ranged from four to six years old,[8][9] with the nominal ages of some of them (such as Carter-A259) exhibiting more extreme deviation from the standard age range.[10] The schedule of the SPARTAN-III program was also 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 candidates 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.[7][note 1]

Augmentations[edit]

All SPARTAN-IIIs[edit]

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 improve the colloidal neural disunification solution[2] Greatly improves the individual's reaction time, decreasing the time taken to react by 300%; "Spartan time".

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.[11]

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][11] 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.[11]
009127-PX cyclodexione-4, bipolar integration drug Counters the effects of 009762-OO.[2][11]
009927-DG miso-olanzapine Counters the psychological effects of 009762-OO.[2][11]

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.[12]

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]

Carter-A259 undergoing Project CHRYSANTHEMUM augmentations on a biobed.

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] While most SPARTAN-IIIs were issued with SPI armor as opposed to MJOLNIR for budgetary reasons, the small number that did receive MJOLNIR armor were considered to be on par with the SPARTAN-IIs.[6][13] 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".[14]

While making his last stand on Reach, SPARTAN-B312 knocked out a Sangheili General with a single elbow strike and shot it twice in the head as it 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.[15]

During Operation: TORPEDO, Tom-B292, 12 years old at the time and equipped only 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 Jackals moved out of cover because they realized that it was suicide to face Spartans in close quarters.[16]

The muscular augmentations provided an individual SPARTAN-III the strength of "three normal soldiers".[17] During Operation: TORPEDO, SPARTAN-IIIs ran at a speed of nearly 30 KPH (around 18 MPH).[18] 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".[16] The Spartans of Team Foxtrot engaged six Kig-Yar in close quarters and left the aliens' bodies "snapped like rag dolls".[16] 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.[16]

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.[19]

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.[20] While his 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.

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 even a SPARTAN-II; for example, Dante-G188 remained standing momentarily after a number of Needler rounds had blown his chest open, initially not even realizing his grave injuries. As a side effect, the drug suppresses higher brain functions over time; without the regularly administered counteragents, cyclodexione-4 and miso-olanzapine, the Spartan would lose their strategic judgment and become more prone to impulsive, instinct-driven behavior.[21]

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,[22][23] implying that the effect was not universal to all Spartan-IIIs.

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.

Sources[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Halo: Ghost of Onyx, page 63
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j 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. ^ Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, pages 26-27
  6. ^ a b Bungie.net: Communique from Kurt to Mendez
  7. ^ a b Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, pages 98, 100
  8. ^ Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 362
  9. ^ Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 16
  10. ^ Bungie.net: Carter-A259 Personnel Profile
  11. ^ a b c d e Halo: Ghost of Onyx, page 107
  12. ^ Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 97
  13. ^ Halo: Reach
  14. ^ Halo: Reach ViDoc: A Spartan Will Rise
  15. ^ Halo: Reach - Lone wolf
  16. ^ a b c d Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, pages 21-23
  17. ^ Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 99
  18. ^ Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 17
  19. ^ Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 165
  20. ^ Halo: The Fall of Reach, page 73
  21. ^ Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 340
  22. ^ Halo: Last Light, cover art
  23. ^ Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 98