Gaming, Technology, Video Games

The Story of Halo Series: The Spartans Backstory (SoH Part 1)

**Warning: This article contains spoilers**

Welcome to what will most likely be one of my favorite series to write: The Story of Halo. As you may know, Halo is my favorite video game series of all time. It started when I was about 8 years old and my stepbrother brought his Xbox and a copy of Halo 2 to my house. I was in awe because I had never been exposed to (or allowed to play) a violent video game until that point. Halo astonished my young brain, and it left such an amazing impression on me; sadly, I was soon thereafter banned from playing all violent games by my protective mother, and my Halo adventures were put on a six year hiatus. A couple years ago, I bought an Xbox 360, and fittingly, my first title was Halo 3, as the violent game ban had been previously lifted.

There is one prevalent issue with the Halo games, however: the storyline can be confusing. If you want to play games to get the story from the beginning, you’ll have to start with Halo: Combat Evolved, which is 12 years old now. On the other hand, for newcomers who jumped into the series at Halo 4, they most likely had a ton of questions. Why is there a crazy, naked, blue woman running around in my head? What am I doing inside this planet, and how is that possible? How did I get here? Who am I fighting and why? What is a Spartan, and why am I so special? These are all legitimate, valid questions; I’ll admit that the canon can be quite confusing.

For that reason, I’ll be condensing and simplifying the canon in this Story of Halo series. I’m not going into detail about everything, but I hope to offer a clearer picture than is sometimes painted in the games; much of my understanding of the story stems from the fact that I’ve read the dozen or so books written alongside the games. I also occasionally scour the halo.wikia.com website; this is the most fantastic resource for all things Halo, and if you’re interested in a more detailed look at the storyline, this is the place to go. You may also want to start by reading “The Fall of Reach,” which is the first book in the series, and it chronicles the events of the first game, chronologically (it details the events of and surrounding the Halo Reach game, which is first in terms of storyline, but was actually released about a decade later as a prequel to Halo: Combat Evolved.)

So, without further ado, I will begin my series by explaining to you more about the Spartans and their importance to the series. I’ll tell you about events that happened even before Halo Reach, so that you understand why the Spartans exist; something you don’t get by jumping straight into the games. Please note that this entire article will be full of spoilers, and I may omit information, purposely or accidentally; I’m not perfect, and I’ll probably make mistakes, as the storyline is quite extensive. I hope you enjoy!

First of all, let me set the stage for you. The games are set about 500 years into the future, and at this point, humans have learned how to create engines that travel faster than the speed of light. They are called FTL drives, and the one the humans use is called the Shaw-Fujikawa Drive (the aliens have their own type as well). With the invention of the Shaw-Fujikawa drive, humans are able to colonize worlds in new solar systems; millions and millions of miles away from our own. After the very first new colony is formed, Mars, it becomes apparent that a new form of government will be needed to govern new planets; we’re talking a planetary scale here, and no longer a country-to-country model.

This form of rule comes in the UNSC, or the United Nations Space Command. This body basically governs all of the human colonies, and sometimes, they don’t do a great job, as they are disconnected from the plight of their colonists. As more and more colonies are formed at further distances from Earth, thanks to the Shaw-Fujikawa drive, it becomes apparent that the politicians on Earth don’t always understand what goes on in the outer colonies. To put this into perspective, think of the reason for the American Revolution. Britain didn’t understand the American colonists’ struggles and forced them to pay absurd taxes; they rebelled and became their own leaders.

Many of the leaders on these colonies (mayors, governors, etc.) feel the same way. They want to rebel against the UNSC and govern themselves. For this reason, in the late 2400’s and early 2500’s, some colonies start an insurrection against the UNSC. The UNSC soon finds that it’s going to be a tough, long war, and they might not win or be able to keep control over the colonies. They need a new weapon; a secret weapon. This is where the Spartans come into play.

The SPARTAN program began back in the 2100’s; long before the insurrection. At this point, the UNSC wanted to create a stronger soldier, but they didn’t have a specific reason why. The halo Wiki puts it this way: “the project is more an experiment into the capabilities of existing technologies than a fully-fledged military department.” The project is not a success, and it soon ends. Then, in the early 2500’s, the UNSC tried again. This time, results were better, and the resulting soldiers were named the SPARTAN-I soldiers, but they still weren’t good enough to make funding worthwhile, so the program was once more scrapped.

A Younger Dr. Halsey
An Older Dr. Halsey

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then, in 2525, the UNSC tried again, this time, under the lead of Dr. Catherine Halsey (take note of this name; she’s important). Dr. Halsey went in depth to look at the genetics of many, many children. She thought that if they found just the right children, with just the right genetic attributes, they could train them from a young age and form them into better soldiers than adults who had already grown and formed into the individuals they would always be; an adult’s adolescent years were not sculpted for soldiering the same way that a fully trained child could be.

So, with about 300 subjects in mind, Halsey, with the UNSC’s approval, kidnapped these children–they were six years old. These six-year-old kids were replaced with clones, but the clones were poorly made, and most soon developed fatal diseases; thus, hundreds of families lost children, but they had no idea that it was through a kidnapping. they simply believed that the clone was theirs, and that through sickness, they lost a child.

How did Halsey get away with 300 kidnappings? Well, at this point, there were dozens of colony worlds; at a rate of a handful of kidnappings per planet, with millions on each planet, it was completely and utterly unnoticeable.

These kids were conscripted into the SPARTAN-II program, and they were tasked with training to fight the insurrectionists. By this time, the insurrection was getting out of hand, and the UNSC needed the Spartans to train well and come through for them to win the war.

There were a lot of factors that made these kids different from other soldiers. By the time they were teenagers, they had been injected with hormones and serums, ceramic had been injected into their bones for strength, they had participated in dozens of insane training exercises, ranging from long runs to wilderness survival events.  These soldiers could run faster than any human and most other animals; they could run at this insane speed for miles and miles without stopping. They were taught to have amazing teamwork, and their instincts were honed to perfection. They learned to communicate in many different ways so that they worked as the most fluid, coherent team possible. They were also very, very smart; they knew what to do to survive, and they always made the right decision that allowed them to “Live To Fight Another Day.” They could lift and throw unthinkable weights, and they were six or seven feet tall; they were superhuman. They became “harder, better, faster, stronger,” as Daft Punk might word it. I see a resemblance, by the way…

Daft Punk VS Halo… Any resemblance?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This augmentation didn’t come without cost. Some of the Spartans’ bodies rejected the augmentations, and many died; others were left permanently disfigured or injured. Still others were able to live and succeed in other UNSC posts, but they could not continue to train as Spartans. This whittled down the number of successful SPARTAN-IIs greatly, but even still, it was a great success for military advancements. Even at that, it was a very, very expensive program, both physically, and in monetarily.

The Spartans were then fitted with MJOLNIR armor, named after Thor’s hammer of legend. This armor was so heavy that without the ceramic bone implants, the Spartans would have been snapped and crushed under the weight of it. The armor has many, many capabilities, and they take advantage of the biological augmentations. For example, the Spartans were augmented to have instant reflexes; the armor is linked to this, so even a slight movement will result in the armor moving at a greater rate of speed than your arm would without the armor; less movement and motion was then needed to gain the same result without the MJOLNIR armor. Below are some armor variants of different models.

This armor also has many other capabilities. It includes a climate control system with oxygen tanks and purifying vents. The armor is pretty much bulletproof, includes an advanced communication system, which was linked to other sets of armor and could be used to contact other ships and bases as needed. A radar was installed, and many other improvements were made as the technology became available.

This is where I’ll stop for today, as the next portion of the story gets into the end of the insurrection, and the beginning of Halo Reach, and I’ll save that for Part 2. So there you have it; the backstory of how the Spartan program began. If you have any questions that I didn’t answer in the article, let me know in the comments below; I’ll most likely be able to answer! If you’ve enjoyed, leave a like or a follow, and I hope you’re as excited for Part 2 as I am; that’s where things start to really pick up. Be sure to take a look at the LP channels in the “Links” tab, and I’ll see you guys next time.

Protecting Earth and Her Colonies
Matt

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6 thoughts on “The Story of Halo Series: The Spartans Backstory (SoH Part 1)”

  1. shit, what an awesome article. I didn’t realize that Halo had such an interesting story. Hmmm, I need to try and get the games now. Looking forward to part 2 🙂 I’m really interested!

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