|This article, Thunderbolt Initiative, was written by Ajax 013. Please do not edit this fiction without the writer's permission.|
The Thunderbolt Initiative, also known by those in the program as The Initiative, was a program created by the Office of Naval Intelligence, under the purview of the Beta-5 Division of Section 3, and under the command and direction of Colonel Urban Holland. The aim of the initiative was to increase the operational capacity of the remaining Spartan-II and III operatives, as well as other augmented soldiers, and upgrade their combat capabilities.
The Thunderbolt Initiative was original conceived during a discussion between Colonel Holland and Jun-A266 at the end of the war. There were still many generation-II operators left, several scattered teams of MJOLNIR certified IIIs, and an entire company of IIIs, all still field capable but not all trained, equipped and augmented to similar levels. Both talked of the idea of retraining and re-equipping IIIs from Gamma with help from field experienced operators, but the when Holland presented his idea to Beta-5, they turned him down in favour of Paragnosky's new IV program, which was to be held up as a beacon of new technology, and a new era for man. The SPARTAN-IV program was infiltrated by members of the Insurrection, who not only stole classified information and materiel, but also detonated a number of charges on the UNSC Infinity, crippling the program and killing dozens of IVs. With Paragnosky resigning in disgrace, and the IV program was scrapped and scrubbed from the records.
Initially, Holland tried to again propose his program to the ONI brass, and again failed, until he was approached by Doctor Catherine Elizabeth Halsey, who offered to lend not only her considerable clout at ONI, and scientific expertise to the Initiative, but also the support of Class-I SPARTANS. Within a few months, Holland's program was given the green light, and preparations began. While ONI was unsure of allowing their entire SPARTAN force to be taken out of action for months, or even years, Holland revised the program to train batches at a time, to quickly get combat operable squads back into the fray.
The Initiative was divided into a number of phases, which were staggered, meaning one batch of SPARTANS would begin Phase 1, and once they moved to Phase 2, another batch would begin Phase 1. The aim was to get all of Gamma MJOLNIR certified within four years, and integrated into operational combat teams.
Phase 1: Optimization
The Optimization phase consisted of a new batch of cybernetic upgrades, intended to increase the strength, speed, agility and intelligence of SPARTAN operators. Halsey spearheaded the idea of enhanced cybernetic implants, initially focusing on improving every area of the SPARTAN's physiology. These cybernetic upgrades would eventually be rolled out to the entirety of the UNSC's top tier special forces.
These upgraded packages consisted of;
- Thunderbolt Reflex Booster: The Reflex Booster is a cybernetic augmentation that boosts the reflex of the user and improves reaction time. This allows a user to react faster than an unaugmented human and split their attention between multiple targets. The system itself consists of a central hub connected to a module installed in the the spine, with nodes in the arms and legs, connected to major nerve bundles and to other sections of the Vestibular system, which controls dexterity, muscle control and reaction time. The nodes are activated by the central module, sending signals to the nodes at the speed of thought, then back at coordinating systems in the spine. By stimulating neurons, this system replaces absent sensor function and enable enhanced function, with some training.
- CX-7 Interceptor Implants: The Interceptor implant uses implanted bio-plastic lenses in the eye, embedded with nano-circuitry with neural laces attached to the optical nerve. These lenses, at a basic level, can enhance visual acuity, allowing vision at extended range. They can also produce a limited HUD when attached to a external system, through the users neural interface. The Interceptor implant can also take visually attained data and feed it through to other implants to share data, enhance reactions and even record live data. The Interceptor also provides limited protection against high power glare, even those produced by man-made sources, such as flash bang grenades.
- VKA-551 Social Response Implant: The Social Response Implant (SRI) is a cranial implant that gathers data gathered by the Interceptor eye augmentation and the AEM augmentation to passively and actively monitor an individual for influence or interrogation. The implant monitors an individuals facial expression, body language, sweat secretions, heart rate, pupil dilation, voice modulation and environmental factors. It can also draw upon target data stored in UNSC databases. Software upgrades allow it to work against a wider variety of races. This allows those with this implant to safely defuse dangerous situations, interrogate prisoners and discover the truth.
- MD-66 NeuroLink Electronic System: The MD-66 NeuroLink is a specialised electronic system that provides a wireless system link to not only external systems but to internal systems. It also has a number of plug in slots for expanding systems to improve its functionality and add uses. The MD-66 NeuroLink is itself, plugged into the Neural Lace, providing a bulwark between the Neural Lace and the mind itself. The MD-66 NeuroLink links to any other active augmentation, sending and receiving data on their running, acting as a central diagnostic and control system. It also provides a centralized protection against cybernetic attacks, with complex defensive hardware and software. The Wireless system also allows it to send and receive narrowband microwave messages and interface with nearby wireless systems.
- MD-661 Cybernetic Warfare Module: The MD-661 CWM (CyWar) is a plugin module for the NeuroLink that provides offensive Cyber Warfare systems for the operator. This modules contains numerous high power processors and CPUs, with codebreaking systems, counter-cryptographic subroutines and Information Warfare solutions to defeat millions of different defences, from across the entirety of Alliance Space.
- MD662 Network Analysis Module: The MD661 NAM is a module that uses specialised scripting systems to analysis and silently snoop in on systems, without raising alarm systems. This allows it to intrude for investigation, though prevents major data insertion or retrieval.
- Adrenal Thermal Metabolase Implant: Adrenal implant that releases a catalyst that enhances adrenal response during times of physiological stress, but also produces and controls a nanite containing co-enzyme inhibitor for the harmful by-product of the catalyst. This implant allows for enhanced responses during scenarios entailing extreme pressure.
- FQ-67 Cognitive Enhancement Implant: The CEI implantation consists of four separate implants, two plugged into each hemisphere of the brain. Each implant consists of a brain machine interface, with a highly specialised CPU cluster that is designed to enhance brain function. It delicately provides nootropic stimulation, enhancing brain function. Through controlled stimulation, data parsing and enhancement, it can achieve neural synchronisity, allowing for faster brains, that can react faster, process data faster and provide fast data uploads.
- QR-4 Medical System: The QR-4 consists of a large network of finely tuned augments that monitor the health of the operator and work to restore it in the event their health is endangered. The central augment consists of a diagnostic module implanted in the lower back that controls smaller secondary modules in the occurrence of critical damage through internal or external trauma.
- Sensors: The Sensor module consists of hair thin sensors attached to the vital organs. This sensors monitor the health status of the operator, and can alert him to organ failure, damage or trauma. There are also sensors in the lymphatic system and adrenal glands.
- Implanted Defibrillator: The Defibrillator module consists of inbuilt paddles, intended to re-establish normal sinus rhythm in the event the heart undergoes arrhythmia. This defibrillator has a charge of 80 and can be vital in saving the life of a critically injured operator. The unit is directly controlled by the Medical System and carefully controlled, allowing precise control of the electric pulses.
- Wound Suppression System: The WSS consists of a number of modules designed to decrease healing time without potential life threatening side effects. One module controls Leucocytic coprotein complex and microfibrin spindlase distribution from nanite controlled node, allowing for near instant clotting of vascular breaches, without incurring fatal blood clots, through carefully controlled application and nanite control systems. The second module is an Angiogenesis Protein Therapy system, promoting growth of new blood vessels from existing ones to heal wounds at an increased pace. The last module is a Nerve Stimulator implant, intended to control the release of neurotransmitters related to healing and recovery, allowing for neuromodulation of the immune system, allowing for control of the immune cycles, reduction in systemic inflammation and increases in the speed of healing.
XA-91 Inner Ear Implants: A series of carefully introduced implants to the inner ear, intended to protect the ears from auditory assault, sharpens hearing and directional detection and implants to the balance centres, that not only protect them from potential confusion but increases their ability to maintain their balance, giving them incredibly balance and agility. A number of inner ear implants also manipulate the small bones in the ear, allowing it to produce like for like sound, when audio data is transmitted to the NeuroLink. This generates a 'silent' radio receiver so an operative can receive updates without alerting others.
- XI-116 Neural Stabilization Feedback System: The NSFS is a cranial implant that reads feedback produced by the inner ear and optical implants to adjust the operators output. every second the augment monitors the operators orientation and balance then processes this into positive feedback, modifying this out put so the operators balance and hand-eye co-ordination and muscle control is regulated and enhance.
- BH-22 Microprobe Throat Implant: This implant allows a user to send audio messages through their NeuroLink without actually speaking, by manipulating their vocal chords. This means an Operator can send audio messages online without the use of microphones, recording equipment, or even moving their mouth.
These implants, once fully tested and approved, were rolled out to SPARTANS closely related to the project, and given a month to acclimatise to these upgrades, before bringing in the first group of SPARTANS in for Phase 1. Once upgraded, the Spartans are given a month of rigorous post augmentation training to learn how to use their augmentations most effectively.
Phase 2: Specialised Training
Once the SPARTANS have been given time to adjust to their new augmentations, they are hand picked for specialised training by their trainers. These Spartans see a variety of different schools, based on their aptitude. These schools usually last 6 to 9 months.
- Officer School: Those Spartans who show particular aptitude for leading teams, are selected for officer training. These Spartans undergo training, including operating alongside Army and Marine forces. Once finished, these Spartans will have significant experience and training, and will be embedded as a XO for a Spartan team.
- Warrant Officer School: SPARTANS who show skill at advisory, technical and operational skill will be selected for Warrant Officer school, cramming in a wide variety of subjects such as operational support, learning technical skills to support forces in the field and combat advising. Usually, they will work alongside special forces, serving under a Warrant Officer for training, before being returned to be embedded with a Spartan unit.
- Special Weapon School: SPARTANS who have particular skill with special weapons will be sent to a regular or special forces school to train for that weapon, and be embedded with a Spartan unit for practical training.
- Explosive Ordnance Training School: The handful of Spartans who specialise in explosives are sent to the ODST EOD school. There they learn how to properly commit to demolitions, disarm explosives and deploy explosive munitions. They are usually embedded with Spartan units operating close to Insurrection hot spots.
- SPARTAN Combat School: The Infantry Combat School is the on site training school that is intended for the majority of Spartans that lack a specialisation. This school is designed to hone their skills, teach them the skills needed to bring them to the same level as the IIs, and prepare them for potentially being promoted NCO rank.
Phase 3: MJOLNIR Certification
Once the Spartan has been through their training program, and prior to being embedded with an active Spartan unit, they receive their first suit of MJOLNIR. While initially given standardised models, as their training comes along, they'll be introduced to more advance variants, including live fire exercises in a variety of environments and gruelling exercises, assault courses, endurance exercises, hand to hand combat and CQC training. This training, which can last up to two months, leads to them being 'MJOLNIR Certified' and ready for active duty.
Phase 4: Combat Operations
Once passed through their training school, and certified to use MJOLNIR, they are deployed on an active deployment, with one to two other SPARTANS from the same batch. They are embedded in a combat experienced SPARTAN unit, usually those who have IIs or SWG 3 IIIs. These Spartans will serve with these teams on combat deployments for a number of months, up to a year, before the team leader gives them a recommendation, passing the program. After another year of combat operations, usually as their own team, they'll qualify to have new Thunderbolt trainees in their team for training.
After two years, the first group graduated, with 30 members of Gamma Company graduating, as well as several members of Gamma and Alpha who weren't MJOLNIR certified. Initial combat operations proved that the new operatives were not only operating more efficiently than previous Gamma teams, but also neared long term Spartan operatives from the III program. By the next cycle, they had 90 more augmented soldiers ready for combat. After four years, they had the entirety of the UNSC's augmented super soldiers certified to use MJOLNIR and in teams of other operators who were certified to use MJOLNIR. With SPARTANS divided into squadrons, they could quickly build a team an deploy to a mission, or a growing situation.