"Dr. Halsey and her Class I SPARTAN-II program, while incredibly effective, still had their own flaws to them. Class II, however, would be completely different. Newer and more ruthless DIs, expanded training methodologies, more focus on competitions and exercises, and much more. Dr. Halsey's restrictions had limited the original program from its actual success rate. With a higher starting list of candidates, we're gonna produce a better batch of Spartans."
―Andrew Johnson, debriefing about the SPARTAN-II Class II program, just before its activation.
The SPARTAN-II Program, Class II, also known as S-II Class II or simply Class II was the second generation of the SPARTAN-II program, a super-soldier program initially conceived by Dr. Catherine Halsey and operated under the Office of Naval Intelligence. Originally intended as the second phase of the ORION Project, the SPARTAN-II program drastically changed when Dr. Halsey established it as the program which would later produce the widely-known SPARTAN-IIs, the protectors of humanity during the Human-Covenant War.
After the first Class ended in 2525, the initiation of Class II was nothing short of a struggle. The tremendous costs required, maintaining utmost secrecy, and the high success-failure ratio made Class II almost impossible to be started. However, in 2537, due to the combined efforts of Commander Andrew Johnson and Dr. Johan Hansson, a former ORION operative and a staff member of SPARTAN-II Class I respectively, Class II was started, with significantly higher recruits having the desired genetic markers. The abducted recruits were taken to Reach's FLEETCOM Military Complex, the same place as Class I, and trained until the year 2545, where they underwent their augmentation procedures, transforming them into super-soldiers.
Over the years of the Human-Covenant War, the SPARTAN-IIs saw widespread action across various colonies, participating in more than a hundred battles and skirmishes. After the Battle of Installation 00 and the end of the Human-Covenant war, all surviving Class II SPARTAN-IIs were provided the MJOLNIR Powered Assault Armor [GEN2]. While all SPARTAN-IVs and select SPARTAN-IIIs were transferred to the Spartan Operations branch, Class I and Class II SPARTAN-IIs, along with the remaining SPARTAN-IIIs, however, continued to work under UNSC Navy's Special Warfare.
The SPARTAN-II program was created by Dr. Halsey after the Insurrection, a massive rebellion against the UNSC started. Afraid of the calculation that in a few decades the UNSC could lose the war against the rebels, Dr. Halsey, a brilliant scientist, proposed the SPARTAN-II program to ONI, which was soon after started reluctantly. It involved abducting the candidates and replacing them with flash clones, who would die soon after due to the errors in complete human cloning, and covering up the abduction. The recruits were taken to Reach, where they were trained for eight years in all forms of military methods, before undergoing biological and chemical augmentations at the age of fourteen. These augmentations had a high rate of failure, and out of the 75 recruits who underwent them, only 33 passed through, unscathed, although ONI had secretly listed some Spartans as killed during augmentations, with them using the Spartans for different uses other than the mainstream ones, such as Black Team.
Around the same time, humanity was threatened with extinction by a massive alien empire known as the Covenant. After the aliens attacked and destroyed the human colony world of Harvest, a war started between humans and the xeno-organisms for the former's survival. Thus, the SPARTAN-IIs, who were initially made to suppress the Insurrection, found a larger foe to fight. Although after ONI Section Two publicly revealed the SPARTAN-IIs as the protectors of humanity, the top-ranking brass at ONI knew that the SPARTAN-II program had cost an unusually high amount, so much that an entire battlegroup of warships could be built for that amount. This led to ONI shutting down the program after Dr. Halsey opted out of Class II, saying she needed more time to work towards other projects, specifically Project MJOLNIR. Although the scientists did try to bring back the program, ONI wasn't easily convinced.
The real reason behind the shutdown, however, was ColonelJames Ackerson, who was a direct opposer of the SPARTAN-II program. Unknown to many others, Ackerson, Vice Admiral Margaret Parangosky and a few other high-ranking officers initiated the SPARTAN-III Program, an effort to create cheap and expendable Spartans, who would be sent on suicide missions with a low rate of survival. Simply put, ONI wasn't exactly thrilled with a new SPARTAN-II program, and they had to be convinced in order for that to happen.
However, Dr. Johan Hansson, one of the scientists who worked on the augmentations of Class I, did not give up hope. While he had been distracted by other projects, especially Project MJOLNIR, Dr. Hansson finally managed to meet Commander Andrew Johnson, a former ORION operative who was a supporter and a fundraiser for Class I, even going so far to launch the second-generation of ORION called Project VALKYRIE, although failed to gather enough support. With both the gentlemen sharing their similar beliefs, they took it to UNSC High Command and convinced ONI to restart the SPARTAN-II program. ONI was happy to do it this time, unlike previously, seemingly content with it running under Johnson and Hansson rather than Dr. Halsey, who they despised of due to her gaining huge reputation and a place in their SWORD Base on Reach. In 2537, Class II was given the green light to start, and after a year or two of finding the recruits, Class II officially began on July 8.
For Class II, the researchers at the program expanded their search area by including all of the human colonies and extended the age limit for the candidates from five to seven years. To acquire statistics about the children, ONI Section Two falsified a disease known as "Bernier's Syndrome" that was associated with the genetic coding of a child between five to seven years of age. All the colonies initiated blood test programs, with the staff being researchers of ONI. This yielded some good results, as they identified one hundred and fifty such candidates within nine months, faster than Class I which took twelve months instead. Although most of them originated from the outer colonies, such as Lancaster-205 and Varun-173, a few came from inner colonies, such as Ren-172.
To interview and talk with the recruits, Dr. Hansson and Johnson together went and personally met each of the one hundred and fifty candidates, although in some instances Johnson was replaced with Dr. Abraham Taylor, another scientist of the staff. Each of the candidates was given a numerical tag ranging from 151 to 300. In the daytime, they'd go meet the children and ask a few questions and analyzing a few demonstrations of their skills. If they had passed the test, then soon afterward, at a random night, they'd be abducted by ONI agents who replaced the children using flash-clones. The flash-clones would die within a decade, due to the fact that full-body human cloning was not yet possible, due to the various aberrations in the genetic code. This was to make it appear as if the children had died naturally, thus covering up their abduction.
The recruits, being told of the program and their purpose by Dr. Herschel Schmidt
Out of the 150 candidates, only 90 were successfully abducted, leaving out 60 candidates. This was caused either by the candidates not having the exactly desired qualities after the interview, or were unable to be recruited, for reasons mostly unknown. The candidates were recruited and taken to Reach aboard the UNSC Prevalence, an Impulse-class stealth frigate. On July 7, 2537, the recruits were taken to Reach's FLEETCOM Military Complex's auditorium, where they were debriefed by Dr. Hansson and Dr. Schmidt about the program, in simpler words such as "being offered a different, better life", "protectors of humanity" and other phrases. Most of the recruits were eager, with a few exceptions who did not want to have their lives changed, but all of them were scared nonetheless. When they tried to leave, the DIs stopped them and made them sit. After the debriefing, the recruits were immediately sent to bed, to prepare them for the big day ahead.
Training And Team Assignment
The next day, all the recruits were woken up sharply at 0500 hours; those who hesitated were immediately attacked with shock batons, waking them up. They were taken outside, where they were made to do continuous sit-ups, jumping jacks, push-ups, etc. After they were done with that, Master Sergeant Bryant Wilmer took them on a hike around the complex and the hills nearby, covering two miles in total. Finishing the hike, the recruits were allowed to relax for five minutes, before being sent to a class, taught to them by a 'Dumb' AI known as 'Virat', whom everyone simply called 'CB' on the AI's request. Williams taught the recruits about the Insurrection and following it, the Human-Covenant war. The classes were followed by a competition of the classic 'Ring the bell'. The recruits were divided into teams of three, forming thirty teams. They were instructed to reach the bell on the top of a huge pole and ring it. The team to ring the bell last would not be given dinner, and had to go on another hike. At the end of the day, Sage Team, comprising of Ren-172, Varun-173, and Élise-171, lost and had to skip dinner, rather having to eat biscuits and drink only water.
The next day was a similar routine, albeit was more tough and long. The topic of the lesson was the ancient Battle of Thermopylae. At evening, all the recruits were taken on two Albatrosses and were given parachutes. They were supposed to jump from the Albatross, in order to test their bravery. Surprisingly, every one of the recruits made the jump; no one had got scared and opted not to jump. Impressed by this, Wilmer decided to qualify all the teams for dinner. The next six months included the same schedule with some minor changes, in order to toughen the recruits' will to fight and win.
During the training, the trainers found out that some of the recruits found interest in sneaking past the various guards and meeting up with each other. They indulged in different activities, such as tutoring each other, reading collectively about whatever was taught every day by CB, or simply testing and improving their stealth abilities. Upon Hansson's requests, GySgt Wilmer reluctantly formed two unusual teams called Brown Team and Bistre Team, which were five and four members respectively, comprised of these recruits. Brown Team was separated from the other teams for most of the time, specially trained in stealth, reconnaissance, and ambushes, unlike the rest who were trained for front-line combat.
After the six months, the recruits started learning about basics of the military. They were taught how to handle a rifle, how to prime a grenade, and how to heal a wound using bio-foam. Training courses were set up, where the recruits were forced to crawl under barbed wires, while the DIs continuous shot at them using Narq-dart rounds, which caused numbness and pain when hit. More training methods included passing over the Pillars of Loki, and agility training, such as ringing the bell in the middle of a booby-trapped field. Aside from military knowledge, human history too was taught importantly, specifically the Jovian Moons campaign and the Interplanetary Wars. Such training continued for two years, after which their training drastically changed.
Competitions and exercises
Unlike Class I, whose training was simply focused on how to improve and how to adapt while on the battlefield, all while assisting and protecting those on their side, Class II had a radically different approach. Similar to the training of the SPARTAN-III program, Class II had a bigger emphasis on teamwork and the competitive spirit. The teams were continuously made to fight with each other, which strengthened their bond and the will to beat everyone else and win. For certain events, the recruits were also issued with Semi-Powered Infiltration Armor Mark II, otherwise called simply as SPI Mark II. Their suits were a modified variant called the KNIGHT-class, which featured a different design to allow for more agile-tactics.
The Military Wilderness Training Preserve, where the recruits were asked to defend the area while their DIs tried to infiltrate.
Aside from competitions, Class II also included a lot of exercises and events, which were added to give a feeling of an actual battle, to test how the recruits would react and fight back. The DIs and the various guards spent an incredibly high amount of time in designing realistic battlefield scenarios, such as safeguarding a base, infiltrating an enemy outpost,
After the general training ended, the DIs put the recruits into a huge exercise. One team comprised of the ninety recruits, while the other team consisted of all the three-dozen trainers. The recruits were posted on the Military Wilderness Training Preserve and had to defend the complex and safeguard their flag, while the DIs had to infiltrate and retrieve it. The recruits were given general weapons such as assault rifles, battle rifles, pistols, marksman rifles and flashbang grenades along with TTR-training ODST BDUs. On the other side, the DIs, to make up for the odds being against them, had a large arsenal of weapons, vehicles, and turrets, and wore KNIGHT SPI suits. After a long fight, the recruits won, but only by a slight margin. The DIs had used a lot of traps to take down the recruits, but nonetheless happy that their recruits had been taught well.
Just before the time for augmentations, eight years later, the DIs put two more large-scale tests for the recruits. Similar to the one Class I recruits were put to after two years of training, the first one, however, was vastly improved and modified to fit with Class II's training methodology. The 90 trainees were taken to and dropped individually the Veszprém Mountain Ranges, 150 kilometers away from the FLEETCOM Military Complex, on January 31, 2545, at 0730 hours UNSC Standard Time, with no survival gear, weapons, or even food given. Provided with only their general PT uniform, a map, and a digital compass, the trainees were given five days, or in Reach's time sense, 135 hours, to make it back to their base, or else they would wash out of the program, having wasted eight years of their life. Although the DIs were not being serious about the washing-out part, since they couldn't afford to lose any of the candidates, the recruits took their job quite seriously.
When a few of them finally grouped together, the recruits started collecting the essential things required for surviving the cold weather, such as food, fire, water, shelter, and weapons. After a few days, all the recruits who were heading in the same direction managed to gather together and all the 90 trainees successfully reached their destination four hours before their deadline ended. The second test was the same 'Capture the Flag' match and this time, the recruits won by a larger margin compared to their previous one. With all set, the recruits were sent to their riskiest part of their entire training.
While the real augmentations happened later, a year before in 2543, some of the top-performing recruits in the batch were taken for early augmentations, in order to try the newer chemicals and surgical methods to be introduced to the rest of Class II. For this task, a dozen such trainees were taken and they underwent the augmentation procedures in the medical bays of Reach's FLEETCOM Military Complex. Out of the twelve recruits, only three such recruits survived the augmentations, while the others seemingly died. However, in reality, three other trainees—Ren-172, Samir-292, and Varun-173—were secretly marked as killed during augmentations. The real reason behind this preliminary test was to recruit three Spartans for the top-secret VELOX Unit. ONI had expected Samir, Varun, and a third Spartan to survive and be recruited, but as the third Spartan died, Ren was taken in instead.
The remaining survivors were brought back to the rest of the Class and continued their training for almost one more year. While many-a-times this trio was separated from the group in the fear of their enhanced strength resulting in unwanted accidents, during rest hours and other instances they were allowed to interact with the other children under the supervision of the drill instructors. The videos of the previous Class I's and the preliminary dozen Class IIs' augmentations were shown to the recruits in the final days before their augmentation procedures. While ONI did their best to convince that the new augmentation procedures would result in increased survival rates, the children were nonetheless scared.
On December 16, 2544, the 90 recruits were taken to the UNSC Trial By Fire, an Epoch-class heavy carrier known for its participation in Operation: TREBUCHET, in orbit to undergo their biochemical augmentation procedures, and if successfully made it through, become super-soldiers. At sharply 0500 hours, the recruits were transported to the ship, where they would stay for three more hours in their respective medical bays, getting prepped and ready for the experiment. The recruit would be shaved, and incision vectors and locations would be precisely lasered onto the body, to avoid confusion. After then, the recruit would be sedated, which general anesthetic and painkillers are inserted, to make him/her unconscious
Then, the subject would undergo all the procedures in a set order. First, the occipital reversal surgery is performed, in which the neurosurgeon cuts a small hole in the skull carefully, revealing the left hemisphere of the cerebrum. Then, the neurosurgeon uses specialized equipment to rearrange the capillaries present in the occipital lobe, with surgical precision. The rearrangement allows more blood flow beneath the rods and cones of the subject's retina, this producing a visual perception increase. As this takes place, the subject's bioelectrical nerve transduction is altered, causing approximately 300% increase in the reflexes, and also causing increased intelligence, creativity and memory recollection. Once completed, the removed part of the skull is reattached using certain chemicals that help in sealing it and the incised part is bandaged.
One of the test subjects undergoing the preliminary check-ups and being sedated.
Next, a small incision is made in the thyroid gland of the subject, in order to insert a platinum pellet, containing a few human growth hormones, targeting the skeletal and muscle tissues. It also targets osteoblasts to boost bone tissue formation, effectively strengthening the bones and their structure. Around the same time, muscular injection enhancements are performed in addition to the catalytic hormone implant. The injections increase the density of the connecting muscles and fibers, making the tendons tighter and stronger. A side effect of this is the decrease in lactate recovery time, preventing muscle cramps largely, and thus being an advantage.
Being the most complicated procedure, the carbide ceramic ossification treatment is performed the last, in order to allow quick and necessary changed should any certain complications occur. In this, the skeletal framework is exposed allowing for removal of roughly 3% of the bone's volume from a small layer and replacing it with the carbide ceramic shell. After the procedure is done, the ceramic then bonds with the rest of the bone material due to the body's natural tendency to reattached the removed part of the skeleton, while other stabilizing and therapeutic procedures are performed.
During the augmentations, the subject feels intense amounts of pain, and as such, a lot of sedatives and painkillers are administered in order to make the subject lose consciousness and reduce the amount of pain experienced. As quoted by one of the survivors of the augmentations of the original Class I, the pain when the carbide ceramic is attached feels like "the [subject's] bones are breaking, and as if [their] marrow is made of glass and is being shattered."
Due to the augmentations, 35 subjects supposedly died during the augmentations. Although many of them were because of their body rejecting or unable to accept the changes, some listed as killed were actually alive, secretly recruited by ONI for their own purposes, or in the case of Saran-197, to be put in the cross-branch team of Spartans known as GAUNTLET Team. More 14 subjects 'washed out', either being crippled due to the augmentations, or not fully benefitting the augmentations, and thus not able to handle MJOLNIR. Many of them underwent the rehabilitation process, which proved to be fruitful as it resulting in bringing some Spartans back to duty, such as Sarah-184. The deceased recruits were also preserved in cryogenic statis, with hopes of being brought back to life using advanced medical technology in the future.
After the augmentations, the candidates who successfully underwent them followed a recovery period, ranging anywhere from two to five weeks. They followed a strict timetable of stretches, exercises, and drills, in order to adapt and get used to their newer bodies. They consumed five high-protein meals every day, with even the meals containing growth hormones to make them stronger and fit, something that was introduced in Class II and not in Class I. Sometimes, they'd go to the gym and train for hours straight, in order to become fit.
The UNSC Trial By Fire, home of the Spartans for the next one-and-half month.
Completing their recovery process, the recruits underwent approximately three more months of training. This time, it was more on adaptability, being thrown at with every war situation the DIs could think of. The recruits participated in team-based competitions, target practice, running and agility tests, and a whole other lot of such training exercises. Sometimes, the recruits would be pitted against a couple of toughened Marines and as thus practicing close-quarters combat again, with faster reflexes and increased speed. Some accidents occurred, with many Marines being seriously injured and in some instances even being killed, due to facing strong blows to their chests or heads by the Spartans reflexively.
After then, the Spartans were issued with the new MJOLNIR Mark IV armors, with prototype fitted-modules which featured rudimentary energy shielding salvaged from Insurrectionist tech, hinting that the insurgents had access to Covenant technology, and might be violating the Cole Protocol. They were taken to the same Damascus Materials Testing Facility, located on Chi Ceti IV. They went on some obstacle courses and running fields to get used to the lightning-quick reflex-boosting abilities of the armor, and naturally taking a liking to the armor. Then, they trained for one final month on Reach and bonded with the armor's mechanism, before being shipped off to be deployed in the Human-Covenant War.
Battle of Atlas
In February, the Class IIs were sent on their first real deployment against the Covenant; the colony world of Atlas. Atlas had been attacked roughly two weeks earlier by the Covenant, and then-Upper Rear AdmiralDanforth Whitcomb had already engaged them in the Siege of the Atlas Moons. Arriving late to the battle, the SPARTANs wasted no time in taking the fight to the Covenant. Quickly suiting up in their MJOLNIR armors, the SPARTANs used SOEIVs onto the planet's surface, into a jungle. Some of the SPARTANs faced a few injuries on rough landing but no major ones. Gathering all their gear together, they proceeded.
The SPARTAN-IIs on the surface of Atlas.
The SPARTANS' mission was to take out the huge Covenant battalion stationed in the jungle, where they made a big clearing and set up their tents and artillery. In order to launch a surprise attack, the SPARTANS opted to climb a nearby mountain cliff and open fire on the unaware enemy. Doing that took an hour, after which they set up the turrets and launcher, and initiated the battle. It was a hailstorm of bullets, rockets, and shrapnel, as the Covenant soldiers were mowed down like grass on a lawn in a matter of minutes. The Elites tried to fire their plasma cannons but were obliterated.
With the mighty army destroyed, the Spartans were ordered to scout a large area to neutralize any remaining enemy forces. After nearly three hours, the Spartans intercepted and killed various Sangheili-led taskforces and squads who were retreating to their base, unknown of its fate. Then, the SPARTANs were told to return back to the UNSC Trial By Fire in-orbit by Whitcomb in a tense voice, suggestive that something had happened. After boarding the Albatrosses, as they neared the ship, to their horror, it was heavily damaged.
On board, they were informed that while the SPARTANs had been successful in eliminating the Covenant groundside, the situation was the quite opposite. The human fleet was decimated. There were only a tenth of the ships left than before. Whitcomb then broadcasted to all the remaining ships and ordered them to retreat, stating that they had lost the colony. The ships soon departed, as the Covenant battlegroup neared the planet and began their orbital bombardment, destroying all life present. The first mission of Class II was a success but at the same time a defeat. Over the years, the SPARTANs learned to get over the guilt and adapted so they can fight harder and be equally harder to kill.
Visual representation of the Muscular Enhancement Injections in process.
Class II's augmentations aren't any different from Class I's, and major improvements were only for the apparatus and the methodology, instead. The augmentations included a variety of cerebral surgeries, muscular injections, and hormonal intakes, as well as a load of painkillers, analgesics, shock reducers, chemotherapeutics, etc.
Occipital Capillary Reversal
Surgery is done on the occipital lobe of the left cerebral hemisphere of the brain, the visual processing center of the brain. The surgeon performs a procedure on the capillaries, the smallest of the body's blood vessels, to reverse the direction of blood flow in each capillary to boost the blood flow beneath the rods and cones of the subject's retina. This procedure produces a marked visual perception increase.
Possibility of retinal rejection and detachment for 11% of subjects causing permanent blindness.
Carbide Ceramic Ossification
An advanced carbide ceramic material is grafted onto the skeletal structure to begin assimilation into the upper layers of each individual bone. This results in the bones being virtually unbreakable. The coverage of this procedure does not exceed 3% total bone mass due to significant white blood cell necrosis: effectively, the carbide ceramic can only comprise a thin outer "shell" bonded to each bone without interfering with bone functionality as organs.
Failure rate of 3.8% due to possible mutations and compromised bone marrow matrix integrity. May cause skeletal growth spurts may cause irreparable bone pulverization
Catalytic Thyroid Implant
A platinum pellet is implanted in the left thyroid gland, containing a human growth hormone that is released into the body to boost the growth of skeletal and muscle tissues. As the hormone is released into the body the pellet dissolves and is absorbed. The hormone targets and stimulates the growth of fast and slow twitch muscle fibers, effectively producing significant gains in muscle mass. The hormone also targets osteoblasts to help boost bone tissue formation and effectively strengthen the bone structure.
Suppressed sexual drive. 2% of subjects acquire elephantiasis.
Muscular Enhancement Injections
In addition to the growth hormone catalyst, a protein complex is injected intramuscularly that targets the muscles' intracellular molecular machinery to help increase muscle strength and endurance. These injections target the muscles' molecules increasing the density of the connective tissues and fibers, the more visible result being the muscles quivering and contorting over one another, making connecting tendons stronger and decreasing lactase recovery time.
5% of test subjects experience a fatal cardiac volume increase.
Superconducting Fibrification of Neural Dendrites
Alteration of bioelectrical nerve transduction to shielded electronic transduction. 300% increase in subject reflexes. Anecdotal evidence of marked increase in intelligence, memory, and creativity.
Possibility of 12% of subjects can contract Parkinson's Disease and Fletcher's Syndrome.
The entire number of people working in Class II, including the staff, the DIs, the scientists and researchers, the medics, and the Spartans themselves, along with other miscellaneous people was over 150. While the number decreased after the augmentations, and due to some unfortunate casualties during training, the resulting number of people were still pretty high. A few recruits, who were discharged or were clinically KIA after the augmentation procedures, were rehabilitated and made to work as ODSTs, although after receiving more augs as part of the SPARTAN-IV program they began fighting like Spartans as well. Some others, however, were listed as killed during the augmentations in the records but were secretly recruited by ONI.
A common controversy among the Class IIs was the Spartan tags extending to 500, when only 90 trainees were recruited. While a few can be accounted for the fact that originally 150 members were considered to be recruited, a better explanation and the truth is quite different. After incidents regarding the Insurrectionists' knowledge of the SPARTAN-IIs, particularly Raid on Camp New Hope, ONI decided to have the tags irregularly numbered from 151 to 500, in order to confuse the rebels and make them overestimate the UNSC's might. On the other hand, there are a few deleted and inaccurate records, more relating to the birthdate and recruitment dates of the recruits, especially that of Janissary-169. While the cause is still unknown, it's believed that this is part of a bigger cover-up.
The SPARTAN-II Class II program was originally made as Project VALKYRIE, a fan-made program which recruited Spartan 1.1s and gave them training and highly-improved ORION augmentations, but was later changed to Class II in order to be more canon-friendly. However, VALKYRIE itself exists as a program by Johnson which failed to start.