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Headhunter brainstorming

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More concept art for my MJOLNIR SPI variant, as customized for two of my Spartan-III characters: Zahra-G098 (top row) and Flynn-G228 (bottom row). To be pedantic, they are no longer strictly Headhunters (by the traditional definition) as of the "main" timeline of my fan lore (c. 2557-2558) but I deemed their role is similar enough for the label to apply.

I've been working on this one on and off for a few months now. Most of the designs are based on sketches I've doodled on paper, but I've been modifying them as I went along (I didn't want to rush it). I made an effort to go back to the basics with this one and tried exploring some new angles to drawing the armor. There's a lot of fun to be had with the shape of the helmet alone -- I've noticed I've become too used to drawing it merely as a blob when there's more to the shape in different versions of the design.

The basic idea for the variation and the format is, as usual, inspired by Bungie's (mainly Isaac Hannaford's) concept art for Halo Reach (along with some inspiration from Shi Kai Wang's early Halo CE ideas). I'll also give a shout-out to this very cool fan concept of SPI armor, which encouraged me to experiment a bit more with the shape of the armor itself further down the line (and reminded me that they should probably be carrying around rocket launcher(s) of some sort).

As you might be able to tell, I'm a firm believer in visually portraying all the gear Spartans must inevitably carry around on missions. I mean, modern soldiers lug around tons of pouches and the like, and with Spartans, the fact they're both augmented and wearing power armor should eliminate the weight restrictions that apply to baseline humans.

Lore:

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UNSC Transmission X017- MRG-STATMID-02
Sent: 13 / 02 / 2557
Encryption Code: RED
Public Key: N/A
From: Franklin, E., PR-OPS, PROJECT MIRAGE DEVELOPMENT TEAM (WATERSHED DIVISION / MATERIALS GROUP)
To: RADM Shan, L., UNSC ORDNANCE COMMITTEE
Subject: PROJECT: MIRAGE PROGRESS UPDATE
Classification: CLASSIFIED (BGE Directive)

The following is a general overview of the current status of the MIRAGE program as well as offshoots and parallel efforts of particular relevance. Where the initial report provides an overview of the GHOST system, the emphasis of this document is on the gamut of variation within the MIRAGE platform; as such, this document is written with the assumption the reader already possesses a basic familiarity with Project MIRAGE and the MJOLNIR GEN-2/GHOST infiltration armor system.

The success of the first generation of GHOST battlesuits can be attributed, in part, to the changed landscape of conflict in the postwar era, more pointedly in regards to operability within "gray zones" where an overt UNSC presence (doubly so a SPARTAN presence) is found tactically, strategically, and/or politically undesirable. This encompasses, among others, belligerent colonial territories the UEG cannot visibly operate in without major political repercussions, as well as ex-Covenant polities of variable and/or unstable alignment (ref. files on POLTERGEIST, CRONUS, HIGH NOON, etc). Such operations comprise a significant percentage of the live deployments of the GHOST variant and will, in all likelihood, continue to do so in the coming years. However, the advantages provided by the suit's optical camouflaging should not be underestimated in the context of conventional combat operations, even despite the indubitable morale value of more "overt" Spartans highlighted by some elements within the special forces.

With continued funding from the Ordnance Committee, the resources of MATGRU and the versatility of the GEN2 platform, the MIRAGE team has been able to make major strides in PR chameleoflage technology. As well, a number of "aftermarket" variations of GHOST by ORDCOM approved suppliers are already in circulation within the special forces community.

Progress on MIRAGE has additionally informed the tandem efforts on the Watershed Division's still-ongoing SPI development program -- even with the advent of S-IV, the mass augmentation of infantry forces at large is still a long way off, and as technology improves, the SPI platform will offer an increasingly realistic alternative to other infantry armor systems -- first within the unaugmented special forces (ODST, etc.) and eventually the military at large. As the focus of SPI development has shifted from S-III to non-SPARTAN special forces, the project has given rise to a handful of variations tailored specifically for these new target demographics -- most notably the SPI/ODST model.

In light of its continued success, Project MIRAGE is moving on to the formal introduction of its second phase. Main projected improvements of the second-generation GHOST-pattern battlesuits (along with the requisite mid-life upgrades to extant platforms) include:
  • Streamlined, fully photoreactive variant techsuit
  • Increases in overall stealth efficiency and emissions baffling
  • Increased compatibility with cross-platform hardware and software
  • Improvements in the ergonomics of the external architecture (refer to notes on attached visualization)
Experience gathered on the field by Spartan special operators has greatly informed the MIRAGE team on future development of the GHOST ensemble, while the increased funding and additions to project staff have opened doors for greater specialization and modularity. The visualization accompanying this document is one of a number of similar concepts to explore potential developmental avenues of the MIRAGE/GHOST platform based on both operator experience and hard data garnered in the field, and focuses on the combat ensembles of some of the most longstanding users of the GHOST pattern armor -- S-G098 and S-G228, SPARTAN-III special operators assigned to UNSC Battlegroup Endymion within NAVSPECWAR/GroupONE/Task Force Theta/UCW OPS Team 7. The visualization has been produced by the Endymion Spartan Service Crew with AI assistance, and has been derived from both trends in S-G098's and -G228's armor configurations over the last thirteen months as well as suggestions offered by said Spartans. A summary of the accompanying textual documentation is included below.

Basic notes for context:
  • The MIRAGE set is designed to be highly customizable, and barring some exceptions, individual suits tend to diverge more and more from the base template according to the operator's needs (as well as logistical realities) as time goes on. In addition, Spartans pick their gear on a mission-by-mission basis depending on the requirements of the deployment scenario at hand.
  • Long-term operability with limited resupply opportunities requires a delicate balance between optimum stealth and carrying capacity. However, even with more irregular surface arrangements, PR systems remain obviously superior to conventional camouflaging techniques. Indeed, well-arranged asymmetric loadouts can actually expedite camouflaging capacity as they aid in breaking off the operator's silhouette. PR cloaks and "ghillie" camouflaging is often used to further this effect.
  • Pictured coloration is tentative, and has been streamlined for illustration purposes, though primary colors are, in a general sense, indicative of the actual suits worn by the pictured individuals.
Standard weapon loadouts are as follows (NOTE: depictions of WEPS in visualization are subject to the same variation as the armor designs themselves):
  • S-G098
    • Primary: MA5K-S assault carbine [PR-enabled variant of the MA5K carbine w/suppressor attachment]
    • Secondary: M6C-S PDWS
    • Tertiary/support: M-44 PADS [Portable Automated Defense System; deployable sentry turret], grenades, detonation charges and mines, and one or more rocket launcher(s) [M41 SSM or M07 LAAW]
  • S-G228
    • Primary: deployment specific: M48 Stanchion SASR-I with photoreactive cowlings (+jack for battery recharge via suit reactor) OR BR55-I Battle Rifle [use of BR55 over the 85 model is in part due to both logistical reasons and (consequently fortuitous) personal preference]
    • Secondary: M7S SMG
    • Tertiary: grenades, potentially single M07 LAAW
(NOTE: following notes from the technical team are presented in unedited form.)

First row: Zahra-G098
  • 1 - Standard GHOST ensemble with apt. gear. Note the PR sidearm holster, dump pouch and asymmetric UA back plating (controlled asymmetry conducive for camouflage effectiveness). COBRA pattern integrated combat knife sheath fancy but possibly unnecessary.
  • 2 - Fairly standard setup, w/UA-reinforced helmet, w/a more defined equipment belt and an M41 SSM in carry. Note the gauntlets- the standard RIFT-II pattern is easy on the eyes, but has its share of functional hurdles (wrist vs forearm mobility!).
  • 3 - We may have something with the gauntlets in this one; also note fully concealed chestplate strap attachment. Vertical attachment of M-44 PADS nonstandard but workable. Knife location potentially problematic with prone movement.
  • 4 - Optics assembly novel but unnecessary for S-G098.
  • 5 - Conspicuous equipment vest of questionable utility as MPAS allows pouch attachment directly on armor w/o supporting webbing. Encased PADS might make the turret less conspicuous (and less likely to stick to things).
  • 6 - The shoulder region of the chestplate here is worth considering - very smooth. We've been trying to find viable alternatives to the strap attachment system for some time. Note the extended UA vambrace.
  • 7 - Use of tactical slings is surprisingly common even with magnetized weapon attachment systems. Reconsider knife placement?
  • 8 - MAG-fixed LAAW attachment vastly preferable to traditional sling system.

Second row: Flynn-G228
  • 1 - More or less consistent fixtures of G228's combat ensemble include: the M42 Individual Camouflaging System [a piezoelectric smart-fabric chameleoflage cloak]; a long-distance comms device and aerial; a sharpshooter/JFO optics package on the helmet; and a TACPAD. Note the added UA bracer plate on the right forearm.
  • 2 - Experimental application of UA helmet reinforcement with optics package on the side. Combat knife placement here is nonstandard and unintuitive to S-G228 and is only depicted for speculative purposes. Semi-rigid fragmented cloak configuration preferable to free-flowing config? Thankfully smart fabric allows both.
  • 3 - Optics box configuration is novel but appealing for various reasons; earmarked for further consideration.
  • 4 - Lower leg configuration interesting but asymmetric knee guards of questionable utility. Optics box may be too large and unwieldy compared to version shown in (3).
  • 5 - Little of note here, though note integrated chestplate attachment strapping. Bulk of lower legs undesirable compared to standard GHOST pattern (?)
  • 6 - Boot configuration is... different.
  • 7 - Legs overloaded? Carrying capacity not a problem w/MJOLNIR; however, mobility may be. Fragmented M-42 configuration rather elegant, however, as is the optics package. M48 length/size definitely nonstandard.
  • 8 - Note the recoil compensation assembly and the power cable on the M48; we might want to put some research into making the energy transmission wireless to prevent accidents (or just general awkwardness; S-G228 complains about it getting in the way).


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Comments28
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manati20's avatar
Kmon13's avatar

Cool design concepts.

templar127's avatar
clearly all are awesome!
cbootz's avatar
I was gonna say if these were all just concept pieces, I would've just said it all looks like the standard kit of most S-III squads.
The-Chronothaur's avatar
One could easily look at them as such. I just like to tie things to my fan lore somehow, but I'm just as fond of the idea that there's some basic variety even in the standard SPI armor.
fuzzlebutt94's avatar
Love this would you mind if i make a cos play using these as reference ?
The-Chronothaur's avatar
Not at all, go ahead :)
hippta243's avatar
Once again, great work. These SPI variations are awesome
SPRTN's avatar
Oh man these are to brilliant and honestly we don't see enough SPI armor variants. You really went all out on this one and unlike the more streamlined power-armor systems I personally would like to see more utilitarian/industrial based armor setups. You also make the modular attachments and gear work so well and gives halo the definite reality-military-based feel it should always have. Another thing that caught my eye was some of the weapons they seem to carry and wondering if you'd eventually end up drawing some of them, that be interesting to see how S-III's trick out their gear. Again loving your work and can"t wait to see more. 
The-Chronothaur's avatar
I'm glad you like them and I absolutely agree with what you're saying about utilitarian vs. stylized aesthetic in Halo power armor.

And yes, I am planning on going into more detail about their weapons somewhere down the line.
Aerrowflex's avatar
So anotheeeeerrr awesome submission. I'm going to favourite this and use this as a reference point for when I build my SPI Armour Cosplay. 

I especially like Z-1 and Z-5. I think the less clustered the nicer look and I just think it's a good reference point when building and adding accessories to the armour when I begin building. As far as LORE and the armour itself. I have really started to dig and love the Spartan III's and the Headhunter fireteams. Their armour, although cheaper and less protective than MJOLNIR offered many additional technologies and was interesting to read about in "Headhunters" and "Ghost of Onyx." It's reflective panels and VISR is really great to see tested for later ODST VISR software in H3:ODST and active camouflage in later game Multiplayers(contuinity use).

The SPI armour itself is pretty and you always make great illustrations and interpretations, I don't say this lightly when I say 343i should get in touch with you if they ever require an artbook with armours in the Halo Universe - your expertise would prove invaluable.
The-Chronothaur's avatar
Thank you! I hope my work proves helpful for your project.

The SPI armor is definitely an interesting piece of tech and I really like how it looks visually so it's been fun to flesh out this sort of hypothetical development of that concept.

I don't think 343i does that kind of thing, that is, contacting fan artists to do work for them, but I appreciate the sentiment all the same.
Rythye's avatar
Pretty badass.

Great artwork m8
Solojo's avatar
I dunno why but I really like 2-7's arm positions. It's like they're going "What? I didn't do it don't gimme that look!"
The-Chronothaur's avatar
That's basically the idea-- that or "You're being serious?"
AngelicLionheart's avatar
Excellent work.
Well done.
Freelancer521's avatar
I'm blown away by all of your concepts here. It feels like you've captured the feeling of Modular MJOLNIR and given each set of GHOST its own personality. 
The-Chronothaur's avatar
Thank you! I really tried to get across that Reach-like modularity while still keeping them all recognizably part of the same variant line.
Arbiter376's avatar
Cool concept art
Swatson3rd's avatar
i am a fan of how they have all the pouches and equipment they need visually represented on their armour and i am keen on flynn's camo cape. 
i dont know what you think but i rekon that an adapted version of an ODST backpack might work well.
and is that a reference to a certain secret mission to sanghellios i see there?
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