Richard Crowe's country of birth is a closely-guarded secret, but the South African dossier on his mercenary activities suggests that he turned up in a Johannesburg orphanage at the age of 14. It is well known that he served in the Apartheid-era security forces after checkered tours of duty in Namibia and Angola during the border wars. Rumors of atrocities have dogged him ever since he was invited to retire from the SADF in 1993 with the rank of colonel. For the next few years, Crowe surfaced in over a dozen conflicts across the southern hemisphere, earning substantial remuneration - and in one case in Rwanda, significant scarring - for training and leading elite counterinsurgency troops. As he moved from war to war, the colonel assembled a small but fiercely loyal cadre of officers with whom he would later form The Adversity Group, based out of offices in Dubai. Euphemistically known as risk-management consultants, Adversity has done little in its decade of operation to dispel Crowe's reputation as a sociopath war criminal and profiteer.
The woman who would become Val Cortez was poached right out from under the U.S. Army's nose. She'd moved from 98J to Information Warfare Specialist with three chevrons on her sleeve and would have taken a spot in Aviation School. But the CIA got a look at her test scores and knew that she had a talent that the Army wouldn't be allowed to develop. She fit the profile perfectly and it only took two weeks of screening in Langley for her to realize it. Strangely enough, her training put her back in the hands of the Army, only this time at Ft. Bragg and in unmarked BDUs. On graduation day, she met her handler, a veteran spy she would only ever know as David. She learned to trust David with her life, and in time, a lot more. The affair ended when the Agency said so. David continued to run stings on bioweapons markets around the world. She took special activities assignments that got blacker every year, until the day she got the call: Bring David in.
"Doyle" is not his real last name.
A brilliant PhD candidate at U. Chicago with a dozen offers from the biotech sector, David felt a void that research couldn't fill. The CIA recruiter recognized that hunger and David left academia behind for a new kind of school, The Farm. His test scores were off the charts, but he turned down a top position at the Sci-Tech Directorate for a bottom spot on the Ops waiting list. This was 1989, and he didn't have to wait long. Somat Koreliyev, a molecular biologist, walked into the Iraqi consulate in Baku with a complete inventory manifest from the Vozrozhdeniya bioweapons lab and 72 hours later David was over the Aral Sea logging his second H.A.L.O. jump. Three years and one valor citation later David was on the clandestine service roster, running interrogations, profiling HUMINT assets and doing a little recruiting of his own. When the Krieger file was reopened in 2001, David was the only operator with deep enough background to go in for as long as it took.
Dr. Herman Krieger's old life ended in 1974 with the death of his seven-year old son in a car accident. In that devastating moment, new priorities formed in the mind of Austria's preeminent pharmacologist. Krieger resigned as the associate director of the World Health Organization and began liquidating his family's assets. His wife left him the following year. Krieger's ideas about imposing 'natural selection' on humanity attracted some old attention. 'Gotteserbengesellschaft' had been around since the 1750s but their original methods - notably eugenics - had given way to maverick drug research carried out on human subjects in developing countries where the authorities could be induced to look the other way. Krieger used his professional connections to found a non-profit conservation project as a front for GeGs activities. Unscrupulous pharmaceutical companies began to exploit the opportunities for securing new patents, and Krieger enjoyed unprecedented funding for his work. The GeGs was eventually uncovered, but by then Krieger had vanished with over $200M.
Herman Krieger has spent the last twenty five years fixated on a single burning question: "'What is the unique factor that determines human survival?" He was twice nearly arrested: Once for attempting to purchase medical data originally gathered in the course of wartime atrocities; and again for attempting to smuggle a restricted plant species out of Brazil. His obsession has taken him to every corner of the world; from the Sudan to the Andes, from Haiti to Bosnia, and from Mongolia to Borneo. He became convinced that the key to improving survivability lay in improving adaptability. After finding an obscure reference to transformational shamanism practiced in Jacutan, Krieger began quietly bribing the Micronesian authorities to secure uncontested development rights in the archipelago. He found that the islands themselves afforded him not only the specific knowledge that he was looking for, but an ideal sample group on which to test his new theories...
Krieger has greatly expanded the research capabilities of the Jacutan operation, recruiting scientists from the ranks of the disgruntled, the discredited and the dismissed - and funneling money into construction. But his work continues to be defined by its failure to produce a stable recipient. His first experiments resulted in 100% fatalities, due to Krieger's practice of administering massively toxic doses of known entheogens - psychoactive drugs associated with mystical euphoria. He introduced supplementary treatments to boost the subject's tolerance and allow them to receive even higher doses and sustained periods of altered consciousness. Unsatisfied, Krieger tried to add radical neurosurgery and eventually gene therapy to the mix in an effort to build his 'ultimate survivor', but the results were either vegetative or too monstrous to be considered still human.
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