"With the advent of other programs like SPARTAN, the new HAYABUSA unit will give us a chance to field a specialized unit of soldiers on par with their predecessors, in order to combat the mounting Insurrection in our colonies."
―Malcom Bright, proposing the restructuring of HAYABUSA to his superiors.
Project: HAYABUSA began in 2536 during the Human-Covenant War, as an effort to create a powered battle armour system. This was proposed by RKD, an Earth-Based think tank, and presented to the UNSC Ordnance Committee, who allowed the project to go ahead unhindered.
Though initially having no knowledge of the similar MJOLNIR Project, the armour system went through many development stages with varying levels of success until contact was made with ONI's Materials Group in 2550. With pooled resources, their work eventually coming to fruition with the creation of a fully functional, MJOLNIR-Compatible suit developed for the sixth iteration of the armour. Though at the late stage of the war, there were few viable Spartans remaining who were able to test the suit, tests carried out by members of the SPARTAN-II Sigma Team confirmed that the suit was indeed ready for field usage. However, by late 2552, and the end of the Human-Covenant War, the suits saw limited usage on the battlefield, and despite favourable combat reports, were not mass-produced. As such, the project was put on indefinite hold, having lost much of its funding and manpower to other projects.
In December of 2553, HAYABUSA was brought back online by Malcolm Bright, who had been one of the chief scientists behind the creation of later MJOLNIR models. Though there was some initial scepticism, Bright and his team, including his young protégé, John Verensky, made significant improvements to the existing system, upgrading HAYABUSA to be compatible with the latest MJOLNIR suits, though the project was put under Army supervision. Bright's intention was to remake HAYABUSA as a suit that, though compatible and comparable with the MJOLNIR Armour fielded by Spartans, could be worn by unaugmented Human beings, or at least humans that did not possess implants similar to that of a SPARTAN-II. An obvious plan would be to scale back the armour, though that would sacrifice it's advanced protection. The plan was to retain both the energy shielding and advanced protection for the wearer, while also enhancing their strength and agility. It was a breakthrough in October of 2554 by Verensky that led to this becoming a reality.
Verensky's new layout, containing a miniature fusion generator, smaller than that of MJOLNIR armour, would improve the user's strength, speed, and reaction time. The subjects would, however, require a degree of chemical augmentations similar to those undergone by the SPARTAN-III's during Project: CHRYSANTHEMUM. In addition, plans were made to equip the members with reflex-enhancers that would allow them to effectively use close quarters weapons as well as firearms.
Due to the highly secretive nature of HAYABUSA, the candidates were chosen from a select pool of soldiers across the UNSC military, largely those with a track record of insubordination or violence; in short, those who would not be missed. The project would shape these miscreants into a truly formidable fighting force in order to counter Insurrection. The selection process was carried out by John Verensky, each member of HAYABUSA being picked to his own standards. This would only end up making the
Special Operations Unit HAYABUSA
"Sure, they're unconventional in just about every way, but hell, the project works. They get results we haven't seen since the Spartans first arrived."
―General Cole Warrick
In early 2555, shortly after the HAYABUSA Unit was made active, Malcolm Bright was killed in an explosion while working in the lab. While the talented Verensky was in prime position to take over as project lead, General Cole Warrick, the Army supervisor, was placed in charge, deploying the soldiers on several 'test missions' over the next month in order to test their effectiveness in the field. Initial data for the 84 members of the HAYABUSA Unit was deemed very successful; several Insurrectionist bases were taken out with no casualties, and the abilities of individual troopers had been increased far beyond all expectations. As a result of their augmentations, the reaction times of the soldiers in the unit had been increased greatly, making them able to facilitate the usage of close quarters weapons, such as knives and katanas, as well as conventional ballistic weapons. Though initially disapproving of the choice in weaponry, General Warrick supported the unit after it's outstanding mission results, the likes of which not seen since that of the SPARTAN Projects.
NOVA Incident and Disbandment
In August of 2555, after several months of successful deployment and a single encounter with the SPARTAN-III Shrike Team, HAYABUSA suffered its heaviest losses yet, nearly a third of the soldiers being killed on a single mission. This affected the unit badly, their situation only worsening when General Cole Warrick died suddenly in a car accident on Earth. With no clear military lead for HAYABUSA, John Verensky took charge shortly before a UNSC-Sangheili summit was held on Earth, offering the unit as bodyguards for the event. By this point, Verensky had been manipulating both HAYABUSA and the UNSC for years. Not long after the Sangheili delegation arrived, the soldiers attacked, attempting to kill the members of HIGHCOM present. While a number of officials were killed, either by the HAYABUSA soldiers or their rebel backup, the operation ended in failure. This is largely due to the presence of Shrike Team, who engaged and killed most of the unit. Their field commander, Lieutenant Mark Lykos, was almost able to assassinate a high-ranking Admiral, only to be stopped by the undercover agent Alexander Redford, who despite being badly wounded was able to kill him.
This failed attack marked the end of HAYABUSA and the exposure of John Verensky as an Insurrectionist spy. With barly half a dozen survivors following this mission, the soldiers were forced to go on the run, hijacking a transport shuttle off of Earth and making their way towards Venezia, one of the few human-run planets outside of the UNSC's control. There, the survivors went their separate ways, some retiring from a military life while others became mercenaries and bounty hunters operating on various frontier worlds.
While the HAYABUSA group had produced some remarkable results during its tenure as a special forces unit, the mass defection during the NOVA incident and John Verensky's betrayal marked an absolute failure for the project as a whole. Furthermore, this dark stain on the Army's reputation only served to help those within the UNSC who put their full support behind the vastly successful SPARTAN-IV Program. While there were several sightings of surviving HAYABUSA's in the outer colonies, these individuals were few and far between; most were killed by BRUTUS agents or dropped off the radar entirely.