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Project Helix is the code name Space Pirates gave a program that involved fusing Phazon with Space Pirate DNA. Based on previous experiments with Phazon, the Space Pirates believed that they were now ready to combine the element with their DNA. Based on their studies, the Space Pirates believed that with the help of Phazon, they could create radical new Pirate genomes. However, benevolent mutation levels were high in current test subjects and "Phazon madness" was a concern, though they concluded refinements in the infusion process should reduce the odds of mental degeneration.
The initial experiments were with Space Pirate embryos. The Space Pirates hoped to create what they termed 'Elite Pirates' by infusing Phazon into their genome. Early results ended in failure; subjects had damaged brain tissue making the few who survived infancy erratic and extremely aggressive in their behavior, killing all they came in contact with. However, the sharp increase in muscle mass made the start of Project Helix somewhat of a success.
Eventually, research by team Sclera made a breakthrough, in which parasite studies with a Phazon strain code-named 'Vertigo' were very successful. The Space Pirates then fused Vertigo Phazon with Space Pirate DNA with great success. Elite Pirates began to reach maturity and became ready for field testing and training.
As their experiments continued, the Space Pirates believed that Elite Pirates would be the key to obtaining dominance over their enemies. This assumption was on their resistance to damage and their ability to transport and wield many weapons at once, not on active field testing. Although, acknowledging that their slow speed would be a drawback, Science Team still believed Elite Pirates would be superior to enemy units. With a platoon of Phazon Elites augmenting the main army, the Space Pirates believed they would have unstoppable ground forces.
Once Samus Aran landed on Tallon IV and halted Space Pirate operations on the planet, the project was cancelled or postponed due to the obliteration of the labs in Phendrana Drifts and the Phazon Mines, as well as the loss of most test subjects.
Although it is never directly stated as such, the appearance of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption's heavily Phazon-infused super-soldiers known as Berserker Lords and Berserker Knights in the Space Pirate armies suggest that Project Helix had been restarted, or its studies were incorporated into another program. However, it seems that the Space Pirate scientists were never able to eliminate the degradation in mental abilities, as the Berserkers were seen to attack and throw other Pirates at enemies in battle. This rather unappealing tendency of friendly fire in the thick of battle is most likely the reason why so few were deployed for combat during the course of the game's events.
On the other hand, the Berserkers were never given technological enhancements (such as plasma cannons or cloaking devices), and are noticeably weaker than the Elite and Omega Pirates. This may be the result of a lack of funding as well as support for the project, and/or because important research data and equipment on Tallon IV were destroyed by Samus Aran.
- ^ Space Pirate Data "Phazon Infusion": Confidence is high regarding Phazon applications. We know enough about Phazon now to begin combining it with Space Pirate DNA. The code name for this venture will be 'Project Helix'. Preliminary studies indicate that Phazon infusion could produce radical new Pirate genomes. Benevolent mutation levels are high in current test subjects. Phazon madness is a concern, but refinements in the infusion process should reduce or neutralize the odds of mental degeneration. Retro Studios. Metroid Prime. Nintendo. English. 2002-11-15.
- ^ a b Space Pirate Data "Elite Pirates": Initial Project Helix experiments with Space Pirate embryos were disastrous. The Phazon-infusion process degenerated brain tissue even as it augmented muscle mass. None of what we have termed 'Elite Pirates' lived to maturity: the few that survived their infanthood suffered severe psychotic breakdowns as juveniles, killing anything within their zone of perception. Research from team Sclera made a recent breakthrough, in which parasite studies with a Phazon strain code-named 'Vertigo' were highly successful. Since then, we have fused Vertigo Phazon with Space Pirate DNA with great success. The latest batch of Elite Pirates have reached maturity successfully and are ready for field testing and training. Retro Studios. Metroid Prime. Nintendo. English. 2002-11-15.
- ^ Space Pirate Data "Special Forces": As we continue to observe the development of Project Helix's Elite Pirates, it becomes increasingly obvious that these warriors will usher in a new era of Space Pirate dominance. They are incredibly resistant to damage, and their ability to transport and wield so many weapons at once makes them the ideal mainstays of our ground forces. Though they are not as quick as typical Pirates, it makes little difference. With a platoon of Phazon Elite Pirates in the vanguard of an army of normal and Flying Pirates, we will have a near-indestructible backbone that should turn the tide in any engagement. Retro Studios. Metroid Prime. Nintendo. English. 2002-11-15.