Cinderfoot

Cin

Agency Asset Beta-77: Codename ‘Cinderfoot’

Cinderfoot’ is a genetically-different asset with the ability to emit large amounts of heat from his body at will. His ability burns most bright at his feet, hence the moniker. He cannot project this heat beyond his body, rendering him useless at range. However, his ability can be used to melt all but the most advanced metal alloys: allowing him to burn through walls, ceilings and floors to reach a target.

His ability – when turned ‘on’ – renders him impervious to damage from heat and burns, including most energy weapons. Additionally, he can melt incoming solid projectiles before they reach him, making old fashioned slug throwers equally useless.

That being said, Cinderfoot is extremely vulnerable when his power is not ‘on’ and he can only be actively superheated for periods of five minutes or so before his ability needs to recharge. During this period he is as vulnerable as any human. Additionally, if caught in an ambush and unable to activate his ability Cinderfoot is equally vulnerable. He should not be assigned contracts involving extreme cold or hard vacuum for obvious reasons

Notable contracts include; the execution of Amani elders at Praxium VII, the interdiction of European Union diplomats en-route to the Kepler Accords and the assassination of General Trokinov during the Coalition victory at Centauri V.

Threat Analysis

TheA

Agency Threat Analysis: Species Profiles

The following information is Omega-Level Classified. If you have access to this briefing and are not Omega Level, please shut down this console and inform a supervisor immediately. Non-compliance will not be tolerated.

TheA

Human Factions

Intra-Agency cooperation is non-negotiable. Any reports or non-cooperation or conflict will be severely punished.

The Americans continue in their attempts to ape our gifts with their Project Atlas. Although direct conflict would be bad for business, any Atlas soldiers found interfering with missions or contracts should be destroyed on sight. Aside from these genetic aberrations, the US retains the largest and most advanced military of the Earth factions. Proceed with caution on any contracts against or conflicting with them.

The British are similarly advanced in military technology and tactics. They utilise the Agency very rarely. Still, try not to antagonise and if you have to engage, destroy everything and leave no trace.

The Asian Coalition and European Union have no special forces as effective as Agency assets and so utilise our resources frequently. They should be treated carefully. When a contract is based in one of their territories, collateral damage should be kept to a reasonable minimum. This is strictly a business decision: they are of no credible military threat to Agency assets currently.

Megacorporations: Frequent users of Agency assets. Frequent targets as well. Intra-Corporation conflict is highly profitable, though Agency assets are only contracted for the most important tasks. Megacorporations will be otherwise protected by corporate security of negligible threat and mercenary forces of varying potency.

TheA

Non-Humans

The Oroso are well organised and difficult to infiltrate. Missions targeted at them or their territory should be processed through a Beta-Level Handler and approved by personnel at least two levels higher. Their military is competent and well equipped. Equal threat to the American equivalent. Individually, Oroso are physically similar to humans and should provide no extra threat.

The Wun’Tux are ferocious and resilient in battle. Their ships can usually be outmanoeuvred and destroyed, if necessary, with fast moving warheads. Individually their warrior caste is faster than a human soldier and can take serious damage before falling. Engage with caution. Conflict can often be avoided by the gift of humanoid slaves of various species. This can be sanctioned by Delta-Level Handlers on a case-by-base basis.

The Vonn should not be engaged. No contracts are accepted against them or verging into their territory. They are extremely advanced in defensive technologies and have ways of neutralising the powers of various assets. They are ideologically opposed to the Agency and will try to stop contracts wherever they come into contact with one.

The Hirudin are to be treated with extreme caution. They are a secretive species, but we know the older examples are high-level telepaths and their abilities are not yet fully understood. Militarily, their Trinax slaves are of no threat whatsoever. A Hirudin in one of their armoured shells, however, is of considerable threat.

Like the Oroso, the Amani are extremely distrustful of outsiders and therefore very difficult to infiltrate. Militarily the Amani have significant firepower concentrated within travelling fleets (“caravans”). Amani often contest ore-rich worlds with human megacorporations, who have employed Agency assets before to assassinate Amani elders. Long-range targeting is recommended. Assets have been lost to angry retribution from Amani families.

Organisation of the Agency

The Agency is renown for it’s use of genetically different “assets” but this is something of a PR coup. It has a large number of gun-toting mercenaries who are contracted in as necessary (like Sol-Sec) and a smaller group of it’s own ‘normal’ assets. Described as ‘favoured contractors’, these individuals have access to Agency resources and intelligence but are restricted in which jobs they can take and how much freedom they have to work outside the control of the Agency. In this sense, being ‘favoured’ is a double-edged sword.

The top tier of the Agency is occupied by the Elders, second generation ancestors to the genetically different individuals who – back in the 21st Century – formed the core of the organisation. They rarely have need to go out on actual contracts but guide the Agency and decide what missions it should and should not accept from prospective employers. Their motivations are often difficult to fathom to assets in the field.

The middle tier is where the ‘super-powered’ assets sit. These are the individuals with otherworldly powers who are tasked for the missions deemed impossible for regular mercenaries. They’re thought to number somewhere between twenty and one hundred, the figure kept intentionally vague by a paranoid Agency. Any of this tier hoping for a quiet life or a solo career are hunted down with all the resources their employer can bring to bear. Each of these assets has a human ‘handler’, someone responsible for them and vice versa. These individuals are dedicated to the Agency and designed to keep the assets the same way.

The ‘favoured contractors’ are placed in the next tier down. People in this tier tend to be extremely talented but genetically normal; computer hackers, infiltrators, snipers, etc. who the Agency tends to keep on staff. Outsiders view this employment as tainted: it clashes with most mercenaries’ desire to be free to pursue whichever contracts they like. But the ‘favoured’ have access to equipment and intelligence that would otherwise be impossible to attain.

At the bottom of the list (and only loosely connected via a series of management chains) are the mercenary groups used most commonly by the Agency when they need large volumes of muscle, quickly. The most well known of these is SolSec, though the Agency also utilises sell-soldiers of the Black Moon Union for operations outside of the Core Worlds.

XA

Short for ex-Agency, the term ‘XA’ is very rarely heard at all. The Agency quashes any rumours that members would want to leave, nevermind are successful in doing so. The Agency wishes to retain their market share in super-powered assassins, of course, and wants to keep it’s secrets – it’s edge. But there is also a hidden agenda. A refusal to be disobeyed that is impressed on the assets from their first mission to their last.

To this end, all Agency assets are assigned a human ‘Handler’, a talented soldier and diplomat who is ruthlessly, unshakably devoted to the Agency. Handlers monitor all aspects of an asset’s behaviour, mood and psychometrics in order to best predict what they might need and – more importantly – if they might stray from the cause. Agency personnel who have hopes of escaping find their Handler to be the first obstacle in their way.

Each of the small number of XAs have an astronomical figured bounty on their head for live retrieval. This attracts attention wherever these people try to flee, meaning most lie as low as they can, or travel to the edge of humanity just to evade mercenaries and bounty hunters.

Human Factions

Even with the advent of solar and then extrasolar travel, old divisions and rivalries between members of the human race continue, pitting group against group in an often bitterly fought contest.

United States: The dominant military force of the Fourth Age, the US usually has first choice on the best colonies and resources spaces. Culturally the Americans still pursue the qualities of liberty and justice, although this pursuit is particularly difficult in a wide and complex universe.

Great Britain: Often referred to as the Second Empire or the Commonwealth, the British control territory second in quality only to the Americans. Their military is likewise a respectable second best and protect the colonies near and far. Britain is nominally still ruled by the Royal Family, but a expanded Parliament makes all major decisions.

The European Union: An amalgamation of the ‘old’ Europe and former Soviet States, the Union came late to the galaxy and was bogged down en-route the complexities of the Far Planet Revolution and Pan Eurasian War. Following the latter, the Union began a programme of modernisation, leaving their military a mix of out-dated and brand-new. Culturally the Union is a melting pot of traditions, ideals and motivations; their politicians are often slow to make decisions for good or ill.

The Asian Coalition: Another loose alliance of old Earth states, the Coalition is the most populous of the human factions. Politically disparate, their leaders rarely agree on unilateral action outside of significant events like the Pan Eurasian War or their wide reaching colonisation efforts. Their modern military is remarkably varied with everything from the modern Japanese warships to old, reconditioned British Dreadnoughts. The Coalition is another mix of cultures and ideas that leads to an odd and unpredictable variety in daily life.

Megacorporations: The biggest of the “mega” corporate organisations have the reach, budget and standing to rival some countries. Several vie for control of the current and future economy, waging a largely unseen, bitter conflict.

The Agency: Barely known, whispered of in the shadows of these gargantuan groups, is the Agency. It employs individuals referred to as “genetically different” and markets their unique (often fantastical) powers as the highest calibre of mercenary. The other human factions utilise the Agency for tasks, jobs and missions deemed too risky or difficult for anyone else. The costs for such services are prohibitive.

The Page-Turner Corporation

PT

The Page-Turner Corporation came into existence at the end of the Second Age. It joined the hierarchy of the massive – so-called ‘Mega’ – corporations dealing everything from coffee shops to fusion reactors.

A mere minnow at it’s inception, Page-Turner was small enough to out-manoeuvre and out-react it’s rivals. It’s first coup came in the shape of Dr. Tara Whittaker and her staff, the leading experts in fusion reactions. She spent several years at Blackmane, developing profitable upgrades to reactor design. Following a number of high profile corporate defections during the First Age, the majority of talented scientists under private contract were kept under lock and key. Dr. Whittaker was no exception, residing in a luxury orbital lab and living complex around Venus. Protected by mercenary warships and soldiers, the lab was deemed impenetrable. Then one day the silent alarm was tripped.

Blackmane security arrived to find chaos and confusion. When they eventually contacted the captain of the mercenary guard, news was grim. Whittaker was missing. And the mercenary captain, a man fat from years of corporate security work, pointed the finger of blame in one direction. The Agency.

The Agency had long been a bogeyman used by superstitious mercenaries, soldiers and bandits. Blamed for misfortune, for the battles lost that should have been won. Blackmane’s first impulse was to ignore the man’s story. But the more they looked into the incident, the more they become convinced a regular group of people couldn’t have unknit their security to adroitly.

The Blackmane investigation was halted by the assistant to the corporation’s CEO who, off the record, confirmed the existence of the Agency (a little known fact) and it’s involvement. The assistant made it clear the corporation was cutting it’s losses on Whittaker. Within weeks she came into the employ of Page-Turner.

And this became the business model of Page-Turner. The use of the Agency to kidnap scientists who could essentially give the corporation a commanding market share in a brand new speciality. The main mystery was how Page-Turner attained initial and on-going funding to secure the expensive expertise of the Agency.

Blackmane attempted to re-acquire Whittaker months later. The mission was brief, bloody and unsuccessful, the few mercenary survivors were convinced someone had leaked their attack plan. Page-Turner Security had predicted their every move with a spooky prescience.

A Precis

It is the year 2222.

Humans have taken to the stars. And they are not alone.

Mankind is still divided. But it grows, making friends and enemies on the way.

Against this backdrop of galactic intrigue, a small subset of humans have been made different. Genetically Different. They work for a shadowy organisation called the Agency. The Agency uses these individuals and their superhuman powers as hired guns, available to the highest bidder.

It has done so for over a hundred years. But the Agency has a hidden agenda. Ancient alien artefacts have vanished from their collections. Experts have disappeared. And it’s up to a small band of ex-Agency assets to work out what their old employer has planned. Before it’s too late.

Project Atlas

Project Atlas is the codename of a clandestine American military project with one aim: the production of Genetically Different soldiers. In historical homage, Atlas is colloquially known as the “Super Soldier Programme” in reference to comic books of old.

From the 21st century onwards, the US military – from star navy to special forces – were unparalleled. Though officially neutral in the Far Planet Revolution, the US intelligence services and military kept close tabs on developments given the proximity of their colony on Titan. When the rebel leaders took power, the CIA and NSA began to hear rumours of new agents in play, giving the revolution an unfair advantage. The US activated special forces cells of their own on the Union moons to shed some light on the new arrivals. These elite teams were eliminated in short order, leaving only garbled non-nonsensical transmissions. These records spoke of single soldiers with the ability to shoot energy from their hands, vanish into the walls or soar through the sky.

Before they could investigate fully, the Agency made contact with the director of the CIA. The group, it explained, were non-partisan. The destruction of the American special forces teams was more of a warning shot. Like with every other human faction, the Agency said, it would happily work for the Americans for the right fee. This infuriated the hawkish sections of the US military. Most believed it was a hoax or a trick of science and jet packs, but a Senator on the Defence Board commissioned a experimental biologist to look into the issue. Dr. Zimmerman attacked this task with relish, investigating the limited evidence available on these Agency individuals.

The programme, newly christened as Atlas, soon hit a wall due to lack of solid data. The ambitious Dr. Zimmerman came up with a plan. He used a third party to arrange a contract via the Agency and draw them to a set location: a trap. Springing this trap would leave Zimmerman and the Project with a real live Agency asset.

The asset took down over forty of the troopers down before capture. Once secured at the project base – secreted away just past Pluto – the experimentation began. He was scanned from every angle, with every manner of diagnostic known to mankind (plus a few the US hadn’t told anyone about). Samples ranging from hair strands to bone marrow were obtained from the sedated prisoner. Tetrabytes of data came rolling in, much to the delight of Dr. Zimmerman and his political masters. And then 24 hours after the capture: the station went dark.

The USS Iowa was dispatched at maximum speed from Titan. A sturdy American battleship, on high alert and armed for bear. It found the empty shell of a station, the highly trained security team dead and piled in Zimmerman’s office. The asset, of course, was gone. The message clear. Project Atlas was scaled back, made cautious and kept under close supervision. And quietly, through the Third Age, scientists worked..

At the beginning of the Forth Age, Project Atlas had produced a slew of failures. Promising special forces soldiers had been experimented on, their bodies, minds or sometimes both mutated wildly in an effort to match the strange capabilities of the Genetically Different. The sixth wave of cadets emerged from the testing vats looking human, thinking clearly. On the surface it seemed the scientists had been too cautious, gotten nowhere. And yet compared to their baseline testing, these sixth wave soldiers were physically stronger, twice as agile as before. Their mental alacrity was just as enhanced, gifting them genius level intelligence and astounding ability to assimilate information.

Atlas could finally be classed as a success. But these super soldiers were shrouded in secrecy. The American authorities knew they would strike fear into the hearts of their enemies and act as a deterrent to threats at home and abroad. But after the massacre off of Pluto, the threat of the Agency was always at the back of their minds.

A brief history of the Agency

TheA

The Agency is often disregarded as a rumour. An old tale told around a bar table. Or a catch-all excuse for a mission gone wrong. But, like with every rumour and legend, it contains a grain of truth.

The Agency has existed for an indeterminate time before the First Age. It’s origin is shrouded in secrecy, but Agency assets have been recorded in operation since before Sol was fully colonised.

The true nature of Agency assets forms the crux of the legend. Some people describe these individuals as talented solo operators, humans (mostly) operating at maximum efficiency and deadliness. Other reports describe individuals with fantastical abilities to resist damage, to walk through walls or to create chaos without even picking up a gun.

These individuals are described in Agency files as ‘GD’: genetically different. The mechanism by which they are created is a closely guarded secret, but all of these assets have a wide array of capabilities leading some to describe them as ‘superpowered’, like heroes of pulp fiction. Or – as is often the case – the villains.

The vast majority of the human population know nothing of The Agency. A tiny proportion are aware of rumours and heresay. An even smaller section of the human race (high level government/military figures, CEOs of megacorporations) know how to contact the group and what it is capable of. In this sense, the Agency effectively forms the most expensive and effective mercenary company in existence and is contracted for the most delicate and difficult of jobs.

Agency assets have worked in the background and the shadows of several major events through the modern Ages, including the Far Planet Revolution and the Pan-Eurasian War. Their missions are clandestine and their presence covered up as to prompt as little suspicion as possible.

The closely guarded secrecy has prompted its share of curiosity and animosity. Most notably is the American Atlas Project (dubbed the ‘Super Soldier Solution’). A long-term experiment in production of GD soldiers and operatives for the American military. The programme itself started in ignominy and bloodshed as the original director, Dr. Hans Zimmerman, made a unilateral decision to kidnap an Agency asset to experiment on. In the days after this brash move, the secret American base went silent. The teams who arrived to investigate found a stark message in the form of every member of base personnel dead in the Director’s office. This was the first and last time Atlas attempted to access an Agency operative.

The tiny group of individuals who have (often explosively) left the employ of the Agency are labelled XA. Their old employer places the highest of bounties on these individuals: for live capture only. Their motivations, like most things about them, remain shrouded in mystery.