The Imitari Project was a clandestine operation carried out by the Kingdom of Nordennavic throughout the early 21st century, with the assistance of the private company Macmillan Heavy Industries. The main goal of the project was to develop an elite squadron comprised of pilots cloned from the DNA of former ace pilots.
Ulysses and ZOE
On April 20, 1996, the world received a massive shock when FCU President Robert Sinclair announced the existence of the Ulysses 1994XF04 asteroid. No one knew exactly how its impact three years down the line would play out, but trajectories indicated that it would strike the Usean continent, leading to the development of the Stonehenge Turret Network. However, Nordennavic, located directly northeast of the Usean continent, had major concerns about the trajectory data, which the FCU was not willing to divulge in full. They determined that some form of self-defense would be necessary. Having spies in the Estovakian military granted them knowledge about the Chandelier but they calculated it wouldn't be completed in time for Ulysses' impact.
When the Usean Continental War broke out in 1998, Nordennavic sent a couple of spies into the Usean Allied Forces to monitor the situation. They returned with data concerning an engagement between Phoenix and an unidentified F-14D whose flying characteristics, especially its hasty retreat, matched that of Belkan UAV technology. Nordennavic sent one spy masquerading as an unaffiliated mercenary, callsign Grendel, to sign up for the Allied Forces and attempt to capture the next detected UAV. The next one was discovered to be an F/A-18E, which retreated in the same fashion. Grendel gave pursuit, but when he got close to the development facility for the UAVs, all contact with Grendel was lost. His last transmission indicated some form of laser defense network may have caused his demise.
Nordennavic suspended the spy operation and decided against pursuing what would be later revealed as the Zone of Endless program. They were defenseless in July 1999 when Ulysses made impact; however, although their fears were confirmed when many of the falling meteors hit the Anean continent, most of them had struck Estovakia. Emmeria and Nordennavic avoided most of the damage.
Formation of Imitari
Regardless of the lack of damage from Ulysses, Nordennavic's focus of concern was now placed on the fragile situation of the world. Over half a million people died on the Usean continent, nearly as many in Estovakia. The leaders of the country knew that the safety of Nordennavic was now in question, as more conflicts like the Usean Continental War were sure to spring up worldwide in the aftermath. General Rasmussen, the head of Nordennavic's armed forces, made a seemingly-insane suggestion: creating a squadron of clones from former top aces who had already proven themselves on the battlefield. After some deliberation, they decided to experiment with the idea.
On August 3, 1999, exactly one month after "Ulysses Day", Nordennavic covertly launched the Imitari Project jointly with Macmillan Heavy Industries. Macmillan, who had already made headway into clone technology, accepted the partnership and began work on their first clone: one of Cipher from the mercenary Galm Team. Nordennavic's spy network tracked down Cipher's hiding place, and, under the cover of night, sneaked into the house he was living in and snipped a piece of his hair. The spies successfully returned to Nordennavic, and they immediately ordered a clone to be developed using the DNA. Macmillan returned on September 1 with a seemingly look-alike of Cipher. The only difference was in his eyes - they were gray instead of Cipher's natural dark green.
Regardless of the minor difference, the Nordennavic Air Force placed the Cipher clone (codenamed CCipher, pronounced c cipher) into an older Vargr P-26 to test his flying capability. On September 3, exactly one month after the project began, CCipher took off and successfully performed a training mission involving virtual enemy aircraft and ground defenses as well as an aerial refueling. The mission was considered a complete success, and CCipher was made the leader of the newly-formed Grendel Squadron, in honor of their fallen spy.