Those damn Mayans were right. 2012 didn’t destroy the world, but it sure as hell ushered in a new age. I’ll spare you the nastier details, but depending on your point of view, it might be better off if we had all died. We were once at the pinnacle of evolution, and look at us now… Scattered, scared, trying to find some kind of normalcy in what should be a fictional world. But it isn’t fiction. Monsters, magic, these things exist, and they all seem dead set on killing, enslaving, violating, or just generally doing bad things to us. Hell, if they didn’t fight among themselves so much, we would have never stood a chance.
But you know this, by some trick of fate you were born into this world. I must say, from the bottom of my heart, I am sincerely sorry that your parents were killed or your settlement destroyed, I really am. You may look to your rescuers as heroes, angels, kind spirits or whatever, but the fact is we’re all just plain old humans, and we’re incredibly pissed off. Ever wonder what happens when us ordinary humans turn all of our passions, skills and resources on a common enemy that isn’t a member of our own race? Yeah, I’ll just let that sink in for a moment.
You all have been given a unique opportunity. At this point you might be thinking why me, might be scared of the terrors you’ve seen, might be angry at the bastards who did this. That’s good, don’t back away from your emotions, it’s what makes you human. We’ll train that rage, hatred, or fear into a weapon to strike back at these monsters. We’ll remove that uncertainty and replace it with resolve and strength. We’ll make you into a weapon that will ensure that what happened to you won’t happen to others. It won’t be easy, but you are stronger, faster, and more clever than anyone before you. We’ll help you reach your potential, and give you the tools to take vengeance on the freaks. It’s us versus them, never forget.
Some time during WWII, a secret joint intelligence gathering operation between Canada and the USA got wind that Adolf Hitler and a number of the Nazi higher-ups were dabbling in occult practices. At first these reports were ignored, largely described as “insane,” but a mysterious operative known as The Laughing Man leaked credible information that the Nazi’s had, in some way, allied themselves with strange and unusual powers. While the majority of the black ops funding at the time went towards the Manhattan Project, the group managed to secure some funding to investigate further after continued reports from the front lines indicated that the soldiers occasionally ran into phenomena they couldn’t explain. Although rare, credible reports continued to flow in that some companies were facing monsters.
The Laughing Man (TLM) approached the group seeking to combine his own resources with that of the intelligence agency and the Naval Special Forces Operation VI (pronounced the letters V I) was created with the mission to disrupt whatever the hell was going on with these strange reports. TLM took over the leadership of this group and offered to train a team of operatives specialized in dealing with possible supernatural threats. After WWII, the group focused largely on the western hemisphere after discovering that a few similar organizations were already at work in Europe and Asia. Over the next 60 years, they were deployed dozens of times, battling strange and unexplainable things in both North and South America.
During the years leading up to the apocalypse, they identified a huge international conspiracy. Attempts to warn the government were laughed off, and attempts to leak information to the public were lauded as crazy scams. Shortly after all hell broke loose, VI destroyed some of the more dangerous threats to the USA, but they were far too few. In the years following, VI broke off from the paralyzed governments and independently acted to save as many as possible. All while increasing their resources, and recruiting or rescuing some of the best scientists, engineers, artists, philosophers, historians, and many others to ensure the future and safety of humanity. Renamed the Janissaries, the independent organization maintains the goals of protecting humanity, striking out against our enemies, and developing potent new technologies.
Since the majority of fighting men and women must ensure the safety and defense of the human race, the Janissaries are in a unique position to strike out against the freaks. They’re called in when things get bad. It’s their job to eliminate dangerous threats, leadership, and continue gathering information on the various monsters and evils of the world. They help clear new areas for settling, reinforce an area when under direct attack, and strike out to preemptively annihilate dangerous creatures before they can gather more strength. They recruit children who’s lives were destroyed by monsters. Training them for years until they are hardened in both mind and body.
The Janissaries maintain their independence and avoid directly joining the various political factions that have arisen in the wake of the disaster. Their services are available to all groups and peoples.
Janissaries only get one name, always in English, Spanish, Anasazi, or Cherokee. Some are named after past presidents of the USA. Some after colors, shapes, metals, animals, plants, or other natural phenomena like weather. A few after weapons or gun brands, but these are considered posers. They choose a name upon taking the Oath of Service, typically at the age of 16. As children they are raised in divisions of 8. They get a letter for each division, then they are numbered 1-8. So you could have B7 or R4. That remains their official designation, though their names are used for all but the most official settings and records.
The organization continues to be run by The Laughing Man, a mysterious masked figure. It is not known whether it is the same person, or if others rotate into the roll or take it over when he presumably dies. Three other “Masks” assist in running the organization. Respect for the masks is instilled from the first day. They are the authority.
This massive complex was secretly built into Mesa Verde, Colorado at some point before the apocalypse. Today it has expanded to encompass the entire mesa, serving as training center, barracks, recreation facility, and home for the northern operations of the Janissaries. It also houses the primary research labs for the group. Off duty members are usually here. The next generation is trained up with assistance from the current Janissaries, and they pitch in to grow food, make clothes, manufacture weapons, and otherwise be as self-sufficient as possible. It is the safest place they know, and an emotional and intellectual center for them. Janissaries who are “cradled” are on administrative leave for one reason or another, and this is where they stay on a more long-term basis. A similar base, The Creche, exists in Latin America for the southern operations.
The Credentials Department
Inkslingers grant tattoos based on the credentials earned by Janissaries. These tattoo artists are required by the Order to avoid social contact and personal relationships with the janissaries, but there is a professional loyalty between the slingers and the Order and the Janissaries. Getting ink is one of the greatest goals a janissary strives for. Ink is awarded for successful missions and campaigns, as well as special honors or recognition. Ink is also awarded for passing qualifiers and proving expertise with skills and knowledge. A heavily tattooed agent may have seen dozens of campaigns and be qualified in numerous skills, marking him or her as both extremely dangerous and worthy of great respect and deference.
Sometimes a janissary will desire freedom and earn it, or be too badly damaged one way or another to continue serving. Those who meet the criteria are released from service, their tattoo’s inked over. This is considered a fate worse than death by almost all Janissaries. Most members who become too wounded join the support structure either passing their experience down to the next generation or assisting in the production of the order. It is an option for some however.
The Order rarely trains children over the age of 8, although some tenacious individuals up to the age of 12 prove themselves worthy of training. Generally the younger the better. Sometimes the sole survivor of a destroyed settlement or a young person deemed too old to be trained will join the order. Sometimes a refugee with valuable expertise will join or a particularly brilliant child will be singled out to join the Order in a support role. These people are given the title “cousins” and have real names like John or Sarah. They fill in the support structure of the Order, assisting in all the mundane aspects of life or assist with logistics or any number of non-combative roles.
Magic is a corrupting and negative influence on the world. Witches and Wizards are hunted down without remorse and killed. Some open-minded authority members believe that this skills can be utilized and turned upon itself. Occasionally children that display magical talent are quietly acquired by the order and studied in order to better understand their abilities. Some of these children survive and assist the order with divination, research or producing magical equipment. They unfortunate souls are known as “Locks.” They are usually kept sequestered from the rest of the order.
Like magic, some humans are born with the unique ability to access powers stemming from the control of the mind and willpower. Unlike magic, this is seen as a gift rather than a curse. In the fallen world, the frequency of the mysterious ability dubbed “Psionics” has increased considerably, although it is still quite rare. The Janissaries actively seek out these talented individuals, and sport some of the most advanced knowledge and development of this power. Psionic agents are known as “clears”, and bring their innate powers to bear against the dark elements of the world.
Life at the Mesa
Young trainees are known as “rats,” a term that is more endearing than derogatory. This stems from the observation that the little ones are constantly underfoot and perform low level duties such as cleaning or other menial duties for the order. Official training begins no later than age 8 in most cases, although occasionally a promising new rescuee will receive training up to age 12. Basic training typically lasts 10-14 hours per day, 7 days a week. Besides physical conditioning, it includes a basic but thorough education in history, math, science, and language. Mental conditioning and basic weapons training are also pursued during this time. Discipline, respect, and teamwork are heavily focused. Young people also begin learning the skills that contribute to the prosperity of the order such as crafts, arts, or knowledges and may be apprenticed to a more experienced worker.
Older Janissaries are encouraged to take part in the lives and training of the younger generation. The recognition of an older agent is a source of great pride to the rats, and many are often taken “under wing” of an experienced member where they somewhat share in the glories or failures of the agent. Nicknames are prized and given out sparingly to the youth who distinguish themselves, and often become the future permanent name upon graduation.
As the rats age, more advanced combat and tactical training become commonplace as well as more specialization. Sparring and contests of skill are encouraged both to display proficiency and as entertainment. At the age of 14 the rats undergo their nanite implant and spend the next year or so learning how to harness and utilize their new abilities. Around the same time those with psychic potential begin intensive training as well. At 16, the rats graduate into full agents and begin their service.
Day to Day
In between missions, Janissaries are expected to assist the Mesa in whatever way they can. The residents are trained in a broad array of skills to manufacture equipment, and the entire location is self-sufficient. Food is raised or grown throughout the open spaces, and workshops are scattered throughout.
In their free time, members of the order enjoy a broad array of activities to take the edge off. The order often recovers old media of the past, stockpiling the old treasures of human accomplishment and culture. The Mesa houses a massive collection of literature in both book and electronic format as well as a regularly rotating art gallery for the residents to enjoy. There are several sports leagues for both enhanced and mundane individuals. They are various competitions of skill in many ways both planned and spontaneous as well as parties and festivals. A high value is placed on maintaining the morale of individuals that often battle terrible forces.
The Janissaries are not an army, they are a group of highly trained operatives. Small squads are typically sent out to strike valuable targets or support the standing defenses of the settlements. There are many reasons to send out agents and all operatives must be ready for action at any time. Some go on specialized missions that have months of recon and planning supporting the team. Other missions may be a sudden response in aid of a settlement or to investigate a future target. They must be ready for anything.
Agents are typically rotated on a schedule to ensure some downtime between missions. Some operatives with specialties or known to produce good results may be saved for a future operation. Others may be called upon without prior warning depending on the circumstances. The organization is fairly flexible with regards to who is sent out and when.
An exception is when the order is undergoing an extensive campaign. These often occur when a dangerous threat to a large area is identified. During this time the order focuses the majority of its resources on the threat and agents may see weeks or months of extended action.