This post was originally written as a userblog for Destructoid on 3:17 AM on 05.31.2013
2552. A gigantic intergalactic war broke out between multiple races. At the start of it, at least, from our point of view, there was the fight between the Covenant and humanity. One hero stepped up to the challenge to save humanity. His past a grim tale of military experimentation and loss. He fought the good fight, and he could fight it because he was special. Not specially engineered, like everyone believed, but specially conditioned.
Master Chief is not a Spartan. In fact, there was no Spartan Project. The United Nations Space Command, or UNSC, did take kids aside for special training courses, but no weird superhuman experimentation was done on them. Instead, they were specially groomed to believe they were better, stronger, and smarter than everyone else. In a time where morale was at an all-time low on every human settlement. A self-esteem project was a last effort to help raise the overall morale of the troops stationed everywhere.
What the project did was make these kids believe, from an early age, that they were part of a special military operation. One that would give them superhuman strength, give them deep tactical insight, and train them to stay positive in all situations. All of this was a lie, in truth they were no better than any other soldier out there. By the time their training was done, they’d be more confident and be able to give useful tactical support in every situation they’d be needed. Outperforming regular soldiers who joined the army as young adults would be incredibly easy for these kids, making it easy to keep their morale up and keep the lie alive for a longer period of time.
At the end of the project, feeling the need for an extra boost, the military had special suits designed for these specially conditioned soldiers. Suits unlike anything any other soldier in the field was wearing at the time, making it easy to further differentiate them from the common soldier. It would instantly mark them as something special the first moment they’d set foot in the world of active duty. A few extra events were created, usually in the form of encounters with actors posing as ODSTs trying to pick fights with this newly formed elite unit. The actors would talk big, act tough, and lose in painful looking manners to make them look stronger than they actually were. With the elite of the elite supposedly having fallen to the hands of a bunch of newly trained Spartans, word would quickly spread through the military about them.
In the meantime, a fictional tale was spread through the military branches. Fed in such small doses that it felt like a classified story that somehow got leaked. The Spartan Project. Something that fell somewhere in between old-time symbolic comics books like Captain America, and science fiction stories questioning the justification of the vile acts of the UNSC in the style of Ender’s Game. The darker side of these rumors was important, it made the entire thing a lot more plausible. No way the UNSC would fabricate false rumors that would put them in a bad light.
When it was finally time for the Spartans to enter their first real battle, all but one Spartan fell. Whether or not this meant that the conditioning project failed, or that only one out of ten kids really believed their training, didn’t matter anymore. The tragic story of the one boy who survived made him iconic in the eyes of the military. Inspiring everyone to fight for survival in what was previously a losing battle. Spartan or not, he became more than that in the eyes of everyone looking for a symbol of hope.