When you think about the Halo series of video games, you probably reminisce about a great story, an excellent multiplayer experience, and a slew of badass weaponry that makes us yearn for the future. If you've played even a single story mission, then you know about the Spartans: highly trained, augmented super soldiers designed to withstand any condition and defeat any enemy. In theory, it sounds pretty cool to be a Spartan. In reality, however, it'd suck. Majorly.
In the world of Halo, the SPARTAN-II program started as a way to combat insurrectionists and later became a way to stem the advance of the alien empire known as The Covenant. The goal was to pair advanced exoskeleton technology with a mechanically and biologically enhanced soldier.
But the process of creating a Spartan, were it to happen in real life, would be brutal, unethical, and extremely controversial. Here's what a to-be Spartan would experience:
Candidates, typically between the ages of 5 and 6, are kidnapped by Office of Naval Intelligence recruiters. These candidates are then flash cloned and the copy is sent home. Unfortunately, because the science behind flash cloning wasn't totally sound, these clones would often die a week or two later, leaving parents mystified and grief-stricken.
How did ONI find candidates? Well, they gathered genetic information during a vaccination program. But if you're thinking that's just another reason not to vaccinate your children, just remember that this is what they got in exchange:
Still, the procedure was pretty unethical...
The first step in enhancing candidates is grafting materials onto bones to increase their strength. The goal is to make the bones of the candidates nearly indestructible, but those who undergo the process say it feels like their bones are all being broken.
The worst part is that this process only covers about 13% of the skeletal system so... maybe they could have just had some milk instead? Or maybe some grape juice?
It might've hurt like a b*tch, but Spartans were nearly unbreakable. Fair trade?
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Janessa Pon)
It's safe to say that casually flipping over a Scorpion tank requires some insane strength. So, as part of the SPARTAN-II program, all sorts of proteins are injected into candidates' muscles. Sounds cool, right?
It might... until you hear that it feels like napalm is coursing through your skin and your veins are being ripped out of your body.
This is nothing for a Spartan.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Darhonda V. Hall)
The attrition rate for real-life special operations units is ridiculously high. Many don't make the cut and, if you don't, you're out — but at least you're not dead.
In the SPARTAN-II program, candidates that survived the augmentation process often died from physical side effects. Out of the 150 children that started out in the program, only 33 made it all the way through to the end, becoming the super soldiers who would go on to kick some serious alien hide.
You have to be a little crazy to try and become a SEAL, but at least it's your choice.
(U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric S. Logsdon)
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