Project IMMORTAL was an attempt to construct a line of powered exoskeletons for use in heavy combat scenarios, largely based on data collected from the HRUNTING, YGGDRASIL and MJOLNIR programs. Due to a number of marked failures in addition to several major ethical concerns regarding how the suits were used, IMMORTAL was officially shut down in the early 2550s. However, its data eventually passed into the hands of Insurrectionist forces through a mole within ONI and was eventually put into use by The Legion nearly twenty years later. While the rebel forces did succeed in using IMMORTAL suits to great effect for several months, the project gradually collapsed due to both UNSC interference and treachery from the inside. Years later, IMMORTAL's use by the Legion was seen as one of the biggest war crimes of the First Galactic War and a dark stain on the Materials Group's reputation.
Initiated by both the Office of Naval Intelligence and the Materials Group in 2548, IMMORTAL's initial goal was to bridge the gap between the incredibly expensive yet effective MJOLNIR suits worn by SPARTAN supersoldiers and larger mechanical suits piloted by UNSC personnel. A notable feature of IMMORTAL was the attempt to integrate force-multiplying circuits into the suits to increase the power of the user tenfold, something that had been attempted with MJOLNIR with disastrous results years before. Furthermore, unlike the larger suits that required a pilot controlling it like a vehicle, IMMORTAL suits were supposed to contain reactive circuits linked to a pilot's neural interface that would allow for greater mobility on the battlefield. This would also allow the pilot to activate the suit's onboard weapon systems with ease.
However, in addition to the costs of such a problem, the circuits needed to give IMMORTAL's suits an edge would also pose a danger to any user without extensive augmentations, as the SPARTAN-II's and SPARTAN-III's received. To avoid killing their test subjects as MJOLNIR had done, the scientists working on IMMORTAL attempted to devise other ways of allowing their pilots to use the suits safely. A solution was found in 2551, when recent breakthroughs enabled both the arms and legs of the prototype IMMORTAL suits to be integrated with the Human body in a similar manner to robotic prosthetics used by many veterans of the Human-Covenant War. While this would make the suit workable in theory, it would also require any potential pilots to be quadruple amputees, something that posed a major problem in the long run as it was doubtful that any volunteers could be found.
Shutdown and Theft
With this ethical problem presented to ONI, IMMORTAL was eventually shut down by 2553 in favour of designs for the Mark IX Mantis. While the Human-Covenant War had left many soldiers wounded and missing limbs, the cost of creating effective pilots for an already-expensive program was simply too much. Furthermore, the one person that was successfully integrated into a prototype IMMORTAL suit was badly wounded due to the link between the armour and his neural interface not responding properly, leading to a weapons misfire and severe damage to the suit itself. What was a well-intentioned attempt at creating a new type of battle armour for Human forces ended as a failure, though ONI was unwilling to simply destroy the files. By 2555, all data pertaining to Project IMMORTAL was transferred to Project HAYABUSA, which at the time was under the authority of Doctor Malcolm Bright.
As HAYABUSA was a project concerned with the creation of semi-powered armour for an experimental special forces unit, IMMORTAL's data was not seen as a great help and quickly discarded by Bright to his assistant, John Verensky. Unbeknownst to his superiors, Verensky had defected to the Insurrectionist cause by this point, and was actively working to leak classified data to his contacts in the criminal underworld. In a meeting with the elusive terrorist known as Magnus in late 2556, Verensky passed all the data pertaining to IMMORTAL onto him, believing it to be of little use in the long run. In spite of his doubts, Magnus would end up keeping the datachip for several years before delivering it to the Insurrectionist think tank known as the Omega Group in 2568. In spite of their limited resources, the scientists there began planning to adapt the original design into a weapon to be used in the civil war to come.
For nearly a decade, Project IMMORTAL's data was used to create the prototypes of over forty battlesuits, each fully armed for battle. Unlike the Materials Group, Omega had no concerns over the ethics of their program and not only kept the original design, but greatly expanded the use of cybernetics within each suit to compensate for the failed neural link and keep their pilots fully in control while piloting. However, this new design included many invasive surgeries that meant the pilots could not fully leave the IMMORTAL suit once connected, nor could they properly feel pain. Furthermore, chips adapted from neural inhibitors were implanted in the base of each subject's skull, making them docile while not in battle and responsive only to commands from their superior officers. The memories of each subject were also erased in this process to further their loyalty. Many of these medical procedures were incredibly illegal and were performed on subjects captured either from UNSC forces or kidnapped from colony worlds.
In 2577, the Omega Group formally presented IMMORTAL to the Legion's General Robert Amenwae, albeit in an unfinished state. Due to the UNSC's clear superiority in the war and the fact that they considered the Legion little more than a simple rebel group, Amenwae accepted and had them transferred to a converted mining facility on Eden V, an Outer Colony world with a long history of hatred against the UEG and UNSC. There, the existing IMMORTAL suits were heavily modified with the best technology the Legion could procure, and in spite of the massive cost proved to work in limited trial runs over the next three years. While their effectiveness in actual battle was still unknown, the suits functioned well as more weapons were integrated for the anticipated fighting against the UNSC's feared SPARTAN supersoldiers. The pilots themselves were able to survive in spite of the horrific surgeries inflicted on them and could walk around with the minimum level of prosthetics, though Amenwae had most of the subjects put into cryosleep while more unwilling victims were taken from battlefields to act as future pilots.
In 2583, following the deployment of a Spartan team to Eden V's capital of Sargon, the UNSC launched a full invasion of the colony world to purge it of the Legion's presence. What ensued was a siege that lasted several months, with massive casualties on both sides in spite of the UNSC's clear technological supremacy. A group of twenty IMMORTAL subjects, designated 'Pack One' were dispatched early during the conflict to halt the UNSC's advance through a critical sector of the planet. While ground-based mass drivers had managed to shoot down a low-flying Frigate, Legion forces were being pushed back on all fronts until Pack One arrived to test themselves in battle. They proved to excel in combat, using their mounted missile launchers and machine guns to kill great scores of UNSC troops with minimal loss on their own side. However, the arrival of several Spartans and a battle within the crashed Frigate led to a massive loss for Pack One as their foes brought down the ship around them, killing most of the units and leaving the rest either badly damaged or immobile until reinforcements arrived. It was during this fight that the inhibitor chip of the first IMMORTAL recruit, I1, was badly damaged.
The remaining IMMORTAL pilots were deployed throughout the siege on multiple fronts, though it soon became clear that in spite of their impressive kill ratio the battle would eventually be won by the UNSC. These deployments saw the loss of a number of irreplaceable suits, though they were able to kill a number of SPARTAN-IV supersoldiers, damaging the enemy's morale. Furthermore, I1's damage had not been detected by Legion technicians, causing the pilot to begin questioning his orders in spite of his amnesia and even attempting to reason with UNSC troops in one engagement. Following several more battles and defeats, the IMMORTAL complex in Eden V's Tendi Mountains was assaulted by several platoons of ODST's and a SPARTAN-IV team, who easily overcame the base's security with the intention of apprehending General Amenwae. It was at this time that I1 successfully removed the inhibitor chips from several of his brethren and fighting broke out amongst the surviving IMMORTAL subjects as the base was stormed.
The death blow came for Project IMMORTAL that same day, as the remaining subjects were killed by either UNSC or Legion forces, while I1 himself confronted and murdered General Amenwae as he attempted to escape. While he attempted to surrender when confronted by several Spartans, he was shot repeatedly and killed by Elena-071, who was leading the operation. With I1 died the last remnant of IMMORTAL, while the Siege of Eden V ended that same day.
Following the destruction of Project IMMORTAL, the Office of Naval Intelligence made an effort to distribute propaganda showing the full extent of the augmentations the unwilling test subjects had undergone; being essentially grafted into a metal suit and surgically altered beyond the point of return for the purpose of war. While this proved to turn the wavering public opinion firmly against the Legion, it was pointed out eventually that IMMORTAL was initially a program created by ONI and the Materials Group many years before. It was seen as an old shame for both parties in spite of the fact that the UNSC's design never actually saw combat testing. Even years later, IMMORTAL became a byword for the war crimes committed by the Legion during the First Galactic War, and the lengths they would go to in order to win their fight against the UNSC.
While it underwent many changes over the years, the design for IMMORTAL suits created by the Materials Group was that of a bipedal powered exoskeleton standing at nearly eight feet tall, possessing thick armour designed to repel most light gunfire and even stand up to low-grade plasma weaponry for long periods of time. A 20mm mounted machine gun was to be attached on each shoulder and was designed to tear through infantry, while two missile launchers were to sit on the underside of each arm. The pilot's neural link with the IMMORTAL suit would have assisted in its increased mobility, as it was built to jump, climb and move even in extremely high or low temperatures. The pilot's cockpit could only be opened from the inside, or with specialist removal equipment from the outside. Due to the nature of the pilots, almost every operation from within the IMMORTAL suit would be carried out via the neural link, as it could not be used by any other personnel. Force-multiplying circuits and reactive circuits in the suit's arms and legs were built in to greatly increase power and reactions for close combat, though it was this that also lead to the IMMORTAL's major downside and eventual cancellation for UNSC usage.
During the years of preparation before the Siege of Eden V, scientists working with both The Legion and the Omega Group greatly modified the design from the basic IMMORTAL suit and stood at over nine feet tall. Much of the armour plating was scrapped to give the suits better mobility, and the overall design possessed a much more Human-like appearance, with hands and opposable digits to grab objects and assist the pilot when not in full battle gear. The two machine guns were replaced with one heavy-barrelled gun on one arm, and a rapid-fire missile launcher on the other. Another noticeable feature of the reworked design was the inclusion of a noticeable 'head' for the mech, which contained a HUD that monitored the pilot's vital signs and could switch between normal viewing and Infrared at will. Two long bladed weapons were also built into the suit's gauntlets for close quarters combat. A large thruster pack was also built into the suit, meant for rapid deployment and escape if necessary. While certainly a huge boon for the pilot, these packs were also vulnerable to enemy fire and could ignite and explode if their armour was breached. The armour itself could also be removed by the pilot, allowing for free movement or escape in times of need.