Firewall is not the only organization that exists out there to try and protect transhumanity from the risks to its existence. There are those out there, however, who turn their attention away from just preserving the existence of transhumans to ensuring that the future it has awaiting it is not one of suffering and misery. However, in the aftermath of the Fall, such actions are still surprisingly difficult. In the Planetary Consortium, just about anything goes, and, on anarchist stations, this only becomes more clear. Some habitats on Venus even specialize in such things. The depravity to which transhumanity can now sink becomes as boundless as the imagination, and there are those who would seek to limit such excesses. [hr] Unknown: Michael White, is it? MW: Who are you? What's going on? Where am I!? U: I asked you a question, Mister White. I will not ask it twice. MW: You made a big mistake, buddy! Yes, I'm Michael fucking White! Do you know who my friends are!? The things they'll do to you when they find out about this!? U: Mortal men hold no threat to me, Mister White. Mister White, I want to talk to you about Jessica. MW: Jessica? Who the fuck's Jessica? [There is the sound of metal running across skin] MW: Ah! Motherfucker! U: Jessica was the woman who spoke with some of the people you extorted exorbinant amounts of money from, in exchange for pushing their family member's names up on the list of egos to be brought out of storage for indenture contracts. The woman who ended up buried in the Martian desert, her stack missing and her backup erased because of you, Mister White. MW: I... Don't have a fucking clue... What you're talking about. U: I think you do, Mister White. [Another cut] MW: Ah! Fuck! Fuck! Go to hell! [Sound of spitting] U: You first, Mister White. [The sounds of Mister White screaming begin. Occasionally he begs for mercy and says he is willing to talk, but the Unknown voice merely sings Amazing Grace through the remainder of the record.] [hr] [b]Origins[/b] The Sheperds are a group of men and women derived from a group who fled Earth and brought with them the tradition of the Order of Saint Anthony of the Oppressed. The religious order spread very quickly and easily amongst the poor and downtrodden masses of the Planetary Consortium, especially amongst indentures. The order took to charity work, distributing goods amongst the very poorest of the poor, particularly the tools necessary to try and climb out of poverty. At first, the Order of Saint Anthony was a relatively benign group. While it certainly protested many of the PC's less scrupulous activities, it was never violent. Their works were entirely peaceful and in line with traditional values of most missions of the last several decades; of quiet dignity and charity to all in need. With the changes of the years preceding the Fall, the Order had learned to be particularly liberal. However, the gentility came to an end with the death of Beatriz Valmor. Beatriz Valmor became a martyr when she was killed by overzealous Direct Action mercenaries as she tried to protect an unlicensed fabber that produced food for the downtrodden in a Martian slum. Valmor, a nun in the order, incited the underclasses and those friendly to the order to protest. When the local branch of DA enforcement tried to put down the protests with tear gas before it became a riot, it had the opposite effect and violence began. When a young mercenary panicked and fired into the crowd, killing a young man, a nearby priest, Anthony Nakata (named for the order's patron saint), was overcome with rage and was the first to charge the soldiers. A man with a violent youth, Anthony was better equipped with bio- and cyberware, and his bare-handed murder of the man who fired the shot was enough to incite the rest of the crowd to charge the barracades. The end result of the riot was a hundred-and-thirty arrests, along with the final deaths of a few of the leaders. However, the damage was done and ripples were sent through the Martian underclasses who saw on the mesh images of blood-smeered walls that read "I did not come to bring peace, but a sword". It was some time before the organization known as the Shepherds would come to be. It was not a sudden thing but an organic process, where the younger, more hot-blooded members of the order (and those with sympathies to it) came to believe a more violent form of liberation was necessary. The strikes of retribution against those responsible for the deaths of Beatriz Valmor and those killed during and after the riot were the first resounding act, however, that indicated the society's birth. [b]Ideology[/b] Born from the ideals of the Order of Saint Anthony of the Oppressed, the Shepherds believe it is their holy mission to defend those who cannot defend themselves, to speak for those without voices, and to avenge the wronged. Defined by a contradicting dichotomy, however, the Shepherds are intrinsically violent in their approach to achieving this change. Though they rationalize it quite differently, the Shepherds all believe that violence is a necessity to achieve change, and that the sacrifice of a life, their own or that of others, is frequently required to achieve a given end. Although given Shepherds vary wildly in character, from weeping martyrs to foaming-at-the-mouth fanatics, most are usually people with good intentions. Their focus on transhuman activities makes them rarely coincide with Firewall interests. [b]Factions[/b] Nothing is so disunifying as politics and religion. As such, within the Shepherds, there are some diverse groups who hold wildly differing beliefs. While they are all referred to as Shepherds, every Shepherd finds themselves aligning with a particular ideology and grouping. [u]The Swords of Saint Michael[/u] The Swords of Saint Michael, better known simply as the Swords, are known as the largest faction of the Shepherds. They are also the best armed and organized, looking more like a small private military contractor than a religious order. They are also known as the most level-headed of the various groups. Their size gives itself to an inherent bureaucracy that makes them slower to action than any other faction. They are, however, significantly more dangerous when mobilized. The Swords believe themselves to be God's protectors of the weak, and it is for this reason that they are more frequently defensive than offensive, working to carry on the work of the Shepherd's first martyr, in protecting the poor's access to basic means of subsistence and opportunity. They do occasionally make large-scale attacks, but such events are rare. When they occur, however, they are nothing short of being appropriately termed Biblical. The Swords maintain close ties to the Order of Saint Anthony of the Oppressed, assisting the order in its charitable acts and acting as an unrelated group when the Order needs to deny any connection to the various acts it performs. In this respect, they are perhaps best described as the militant arm of the Order than a separate organization. [u]The Rabble[/u] The least respected and least organized category of the Shepherds are the Rabble. The Rabble are the younger, more hot-blooded members of the Order who turned to violence more out of hatred for the establishment and less out of religious devotion. They are more aptly described as a violent mob than a religious group, and display little of the spiritual devotion involved with a religious order. The Rabble is not so much one group as it is a large number of groups, who tend to form around a charismatic member of the Order. The Rabble are largely only kept in line by the Swords frequently stamping out any group who goes too far and might end up disgracing the Order's public face. [u]The Flagellants[/u] The smallest and perhaps most bizarre faction within the Shepherds is also the most frightening and well known. Recognizing the hypocrisy innate in their choosing violence over the peaceful teachings of Christ, the Flagellants see themselves as flawed and fallen in the eyes of God, and their turning to violence as a sign of weakness, but are unable or unwilling to accept that their actions are innately evil. Thus, rather than seeking forgiveness and returning to the Order, the Flagellants see their damnation for the benefit of others as a worthwhile cause. Thus, they accept their failings, believing that they must suffer for the salvation of others. This willingness to be self-sacrificing is seen as the ultimate emulation and tribute of Christ, even if the ultimate methods are seen as flawed. Because of this belief, the Flagellants are willing to sacrifice their other moral restraints, doing anything to get results. This makes them by all accounts the most utterly terrifying, as they will resort to everything from torture to taking hostages to most any deplorable acts to get the job done. This doesn't mean they're eager to do so, of course; they still believe that the moral restraints have meaning. However, they are willing to ignore them out of necessity.
—[img]http://img813.imageshack.us/img813/982/exhumanbar.jpg[/img] [img]http://img804.imageshack.us/img804/4473/scumbar.jpg[/img] [img]http://img818.imageshack.us/img818/1396/gatecrasherbar.jpg[/img] [code][@-rep +1, f-rep +2][/code]