So, I've been working on a rough skeleton for a conspiracy that underlies a series of one-shots my gaming group will be participating in. Inspired by Warren Ellis' Planetary series, the conspiracy is driven a small team transformed into posthumans by contact with a TITAN. The (seemingly) unconnected one-shots my group will be playing will all bear the conspiracy's fingerprints, and the players will encounter different members of a secretive inner circle in each one. Some notes so far, if anyone's interested:
Lars-Mueller Joint Stock Cooperative
Lars-Müeller may be young, but the upstart hypercorp has made a name for itself as a source for exotic bioweapons and TITAN artifacts — as well as experimental tech based on those prized items. It's no match for larger and more established powers when it comes to securing gate time or landing major contracts, but on the ugly edges of R&D and smuggling, it's a rising star.
What few know is that LMC is a front for a small group of Exhumans determined to exploit the Exsurgent virus. Convinced that they can bend it to their will given time and sufficient resources, the LMC board sends well-equipped forks of themselves to hunt down emergent strains of the virus, observing the effects of each one and securing samples for experimentation. Their long-term goal: the transformation of humanity into a new species that can not only survive but win a future Fall-like scenario. The fact that LMC's board would shape and potentially control that new species is, of course, purely coincidental…
Lars-Müeller's structure is opaque to outsiders; its inner circle is a group of six co-conspirators who originally worked for Cognite and Direct Action. Transformed by contact with an exsurgent-infected TITAN mind, they retained their personalities and memories but were… changed. These Primes rarely interact with the outside world, letting disposable forks do their dirty work and coordinate the efforts of mercenaries and contractors when needed.
Helena Krawczyk, The Researcher
"No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.
Helena is a Lars-Mueller operative tasked with obtaining new strains of the Exsurgent virus for study. Like most of Lars Mueller's high-ranking agents, she's an nth generation fork of one of the board members. She hides her mission — convincingly — behind the illegal but more common activities of TITAN artifact hunting and pillaging of gatecrashed worlds. Her primary focus is the Mars TQZ, but she's been known to personally ride herd on small gatecrashing crews if the mission is promising.
The prime she was forked from — the original Helena Krawczyk — was Cognite researcher working on safe protocols for hosting recovered TITAN minds. Although she considers herself a "field hand" to the rest of the board's puppet masters, Helena was actually the initial champion of the Lars-Mueller plan who convinced the others… and executed the team members who hesitated.
As an adversary, Helena is startlingly forthcoming. Subterfuge isn't her style, and she believes that the LMC plan is self-evidently correct: confronted with the long-term risks to transhumanity, posthumanity is the only reasonable goal. Although Helena is cautious and cold-blooded, she's not a sadist: unlike some of the less stable Lars-Müeller personalities, she can be reasoned with and will cut deals if she believes they won't compromise her mission. When cornered, she won't hesitate to kill herself, triggering her emergency farcaster and destroying her morph's cortical stack to avoid recovery and interrogation.
Edward Kim, The Face
"Convictions are more dangerous than lies."
On the books, Edward Kim is an "acquisition director" for the Lars-Mueller corporation, buying and securing exotic artifacts old Earth and exoplanets alike. Off the clock, he's the regional handler for Firewall's presence on Habitat On The Rock — using his official position to identify and intercept potentially dangerous artifacts that pass through the infamous museum habitat's exhibits. He's a frequent presence on Whiskey Station as well, given its relative proximity to HoTR and the on-again-off-again nature of Habitat's risk profile.
Kim has a mixed reputation in Firewall: He's been an effective agent but his techniques are often troubling. Rather than maintaining a traditional mix of sentinels and assets, he often purchases forknapped egos from criminal cartels like Nine Lives, using quick-and-dirty psychosurgery techniques to compel cooperation and wiping them when operations conclude. It's hard to argue with results, but those who've crossed paths with him insist it's only a matter of time before it blows up in his face… and Firewall's.
Unknown to Firewall, Kim is a worst-case scenario: a double agent hiding X-risks under the organization's nose. A former Cognite executive, his initiation into Firewall was the awakening of a TITAN seed AI on Habitat on the Rock. He and a mixed team of corporate and mercenary assets put down the outbreak, but were infected with a variety of exsurgent strains in the process. The group hid that fact from Firewall, and six of its members eventually founded Lars-Müeller JSC.
Kim isn't a fighter: if confronted he'll try to talk his way out of the situation, play his opponents off of each other, or use distractions to escape. Worst case scenario, he'll kill himself and rely on his aggressive backup policies to get him back in business quickly.
Wim Klarenbos, the Hacker
A sociopathic infomorph who specializes in transhuman cognition. Wim as the infosec and psychosurgery expert, and often helps Kim scrub and retrain skilled egos he's purchased from Nine Lives for special tasks. He enjoys his work a little too much, and he's probably the least sane of the entire group. He's a gifted hacker but relies heavily on massive parallelization, spinning off dozens or even hundreds of forks of himself to overwhelm the defenses of target systems, then quickly subverting their normal reporting and logging systems to hide the otherwise obvious digital footprints. When he lacks the computational resources for that approach, he can be overly cautious, dotting every I and crossing every T before moving on to the next step of an intrusion.
Tessa Voberg, the Assassin
Secops lead for the original gatecrashing mission that resulted in Lars Mueller's creation, Tessa is the most dangerous member of the group on paper. Voberg forks tend to lay low, coordinating jammed or puppeted morphs and only getting their hands dirty if other options have failed.
Jesse "Joker" Fernandez, the Muscle
Tessa's second-in-command, Fernandez is a violent, even sadistic brawler who favors direct confrontation with overwhelming firepower. His let-God-sort-them-out tendencies are kept in check by deference to Voberg's orders and her distaste for unnecessary exposure. Most "heavy" Lars Mueller missions use at least several Joker forks for muscle; sometimes local mercs are hired but loaded with his ego for the duration of the op. He doesn't much care for the grand mission of Lars-Mueller, but he likes the idea of being top dog and rebuilding transhumanity from the ground up puts him comfortably close to the center of power.
Eun-sook Wang, the Async
Wang was an exobiologist specializing in transgenic biohacking. Her work focused on securing samples of exoplanet species, then searching for "exploitable" genetic material that could be incorporated into the human genome.