Steve Coops

The Zeus Protectorate – Protecting People by Kidnapping Others

zeus-protectorateThe Zeus Protectorate is a secret organisation established by wealthy business men. They believe innocent or otherwise, Alpha Superiors are inherently dangerous and for the sake of society, the most powerful need removing. To do this they capture and incarcerate such threats by way of a special extraction team or outsource specific jobs to mercenaries.


CLEA ORGANISATION DATA FILE

Organisation Classification:

  • Social Cleansing Organisation

Organisation Leader(s):

  • Unknown

Organisation Activities:

  • Abduction
  • False imprisonment

Organisation Weakness(s):

  • The Protectorate has made many enemies of both vigilantes and criminal teams of Alphas

Known Assets:


Notes/History

Much of this is conjecture gathered from a variety of sources since the entire operation is well hidden from prying eyes.

It is believed the origin of the “Zeus Protectorate” lies with their founders, a group of wealthy business people who witnessed the arrival of the first Alpha humans. When some chose to use their gifts to harm others they became alarmed. The general public were scared in many countries, despite the Alpha Heroes trying to restore order. Some people demanded that their Governments lock all the “dangerous people” away regardless of whether they had committed a crime or not, but no civilised political body would incarcerate an entire “race” of people, especially those that did no wrong.

The business moguls that would become the Zeus Protectorate heard the radical calls and drew plans to do the one thing the politicians and UN would not do. However before the plan came into operation, Black Shadow began its deadly purge.

Like so many things that went on hold during the two decade period, once Black Shadow had been crippled, and the Alphas began resurfacing, those business people still in power (and some new allies) decided to put their plan into operation.

They witnessed CLEA build its first Fortress facility and though that took care of the criminal Alphas, the newly formed Zeus Protectorate decided that there were plenty of other Alphas who could still pose a danger to any civilised society, whether they used their gifts intentionally or inadvertently.

To this end the Protectorate purchased a small South Pacific island via shell companies and untraceable bank accounts and began building their own “Fortress” (later called the Zeus Facility). Since its occupants might be innocent of any crime, they made the facility less prison like and filled it with the creature comforts of home where the individuals could live out their days whilst wearing an Alpha Suppression collar (similar to those used at CLEA Fortresses). Aware that some residents would not be able to cope with losing their freedom the Protectorate decided that any resident could have an alternative to wearing a collar and “free” movement of the facility and instead be cryogenically frozen until such time science evolved to neutralise their gifts.

Known trouble causers and criminals though would not be given a choice and subjected to the latter fate. Since the members of the Protectorate considered themselves civilised, they refused to consider killing Alphas like Black Shadow had once done. They believed that in staying at the facility the freedoms the people were sacrificing should not result in any hardship but for the greater good they could not remain around ordinary people.

Once the facility was completed, the Protectorate began seeking out mercenaries that would be sympathetic to their cause and this led to the creation of the Orion Strike team. Early on, Orion experienced problems trying to capture and contain some individuals and though the success rate was poor the data gathered allowed for the creation of technology which eventually gave Orion almost guaranteed success on each “mission”.

CLEA currently estimated the Zeus Facility has at least three hundred inmates and is aware of one successful break out attempt instigated by the Night Rangers although it is now believed that since then the facility has had its defenses strengthened to ensure it is one hundred percent escape proof.

As well as Orion, it is also known that the Protectorate have employed other mercenaries (ironically including Alpha Superiors) to capture targets. Obviously such outside “help” never meet with their employers and captives are taken to a secret location whereupon the target and the reward money are exchanged with Orion. Such tactics not only avoid any security issues but also ensure Orion does not take all the risks all the time.

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Zodiac – The Team that brought back Alpha Heroes

Left to Right: Leo, Pisces, Aries, Sagittarius, Aquarius, Taurus - Scorpio, Virgo, Libra, Cancer, Gemini I (Maria), Gemini II (Laura), Capricorn

Left to Right: Leo, Pisces, Aries, Sagittarius, Aquarius, Taurus – Scorpio, Virgo, Libra, Cancer, Gemini I (Maria), Virgo, Gemini II (Laura), Capricorn

Team Zodiac was the first and largest group of assembled heroes based in Atlantica city. Apart from Agent Rossi, all the members are Alpha Superiors and originally formed up as a means of mutual protection against Black Shadow whom had been systematically exterminating  Alphas. The crime syndicate, saw all Alphas as a threat to their criminal empire.

After they helped bring down Black Shadow, Team Zodiac then found itself with new enemies. Since the world had been made safe for all Alphas, Alpha Villains were once more free to go about their business.

From the very beginning Team Zodiac has used the White Tower as its headquarters. Originally the head offices of McCabe Consolidated Industries (MCI) since CEO Andrew McCabe (Leo) agreed to bankroll the team, he donated the building for the team use and helped remodel the interior so that all team members could live and work in a pleasant environment. As the general public know where the team are stationed it has caused numerous problems either from press intrusion or by direct attack from any Alpha Villains or other criminals that want to eliminate the group.

With so many team members all in Atlantica, when other heroes started appearing it was decided to split the main team into two smaller ones to give them worldwide coverage. The “second team” thus moved to New Tokyo. Mike Williams was then left to govern one team, whilst Andrew McCabe took charge of the other. Just like in Atlantica, the New Tokyo MCI’s offices serve as a base of operations.


CLEA DATA FILE

Team Identities:

(Team 1)

  • John Lyons – Pisces
  • Michael “Mike” Williams – Aries (Team Leader)
  • Vincent Sean Archer – Sagittarius (Pegasus Pilot)
  • Laura West – Gemini I
  • Maria West – Gemini II
  • Natalie Terelle – Capricorn
  • Charlotte Manceaux – Libra

(Team 2)

  • Andrew McCabe – Leo (Team Leader)
  • Azumi Takara – Cancer
  • Yoshito Sekita – Aquarius
  • Dr Parveen Bhatia – Scorpio
  • Suchin Charoenpura – Virgo
  • Kwame Gyasi – Taurus (Pegasus Pilot)

(CLEA Liason)

  • Agent Antonio Rossi

CLEA Classification:

  • Alpha Superior (All team members except Antonio Rossi)

Special Skills and/or Abilities:

  • Alpha ability – (Pisces) Lyons can make himself and/or other objects invisible by touching them.
  • Lyons is also a highly skilled computer hacker
  • Alpha ability – (Aries) Williams has the ability to move at greatly accelerated speeds.
  • Alpha ability – (Sagittarius)Archer can create energy fields and use them to produce forcefields or direct the energy to fly.
  • Archer is also qualified to pilot the Pegasus jet.
  • Alpha ability – (Gemini) Laura and Maria West have “unstable” Alpha abilities which enablse them to mimic the Alpha ability of any other Alpha Superiors they come in contact with. They are also telepathically linked to each other.
  • Alpha ability – (Capricorn) Terelle has the means to manipulate localised gravity fields. She can vary this from just affecting her or affect an entire room. Using this she can walk up walls/ ceiling etc. as easily as anyone else would walk on a pavement.
  • Terelle is a VR programmer and her programs are used to train the team when “off duty”
  • Alpha ability – (Libra) Manceaux, can control and manipulate electrical and magnetic fields for offensive capabilities or to levitate.
  • Alpha ability – (Leo) McCabe, has the means to generate fire from his hands.
  • Alpha ability – (Canver) Takara can teleport herself and others distances of up to a couple of miles.
  • Alpha ability – (Aquarius) Sekita, has the ability to to move objects up to the size of a small car with his mind.
  • Alpha ability – (Scorpio) Bhatia’s ability allows her to make her body and other objects intangible and thus able to move through solid objects. She can make another person intangible providing she is touching them.
  • Bhatia is also a fully qualified doctor.
  • Alpha ability – (Virgo) Charoenpura, has the means to alter her molecular density making her practically invulnerable to physical attack. During her changes her body takes on a metallic appearance.
  • Alpha ability – (Taurus) Gyasi is gifted with super strength and can move masses far in excess of 100 tonnes.
  • Gyasi is also qualified to fly the Pegasus jet.

Limitation(s)/Weakness(s):

  • All team members (except Rossi) “suffer” the usual Alpha problems in that the more they use their abilities the greater the toll on their bodies which is kept up prevents them using the special skills/properties.
  • Bhatia will not deliberately cause harm to another so is considered a non combatant but she will defend herself and others if threatened.
  • Manceaux lost both legs in a car accident. When not using her Alpha abilities she has to get around via a wheel chair or on artificial legs.
  • Since Manceaux and Williams are married threatening one might result in the other acting irrationally.
  • Archer is known to have a short temper and this can be exploited by an enemy.

Rap Sheet/Criminal Traits:

  • Computer fraud (Lyons – pardoned)
  • Aggravated Assault/Assault and battery (Charoenpura)
  • Suspected of being linked to organised crime (Sekita – charges dropped on Chief Naylor’s orders)

Notes/History

The origin of Team Zodiac actually went back twenty years before they formed. In that period, Law Enforcement agencies around the world had once relied upon Alpha superiors acting as crime fighters to deal with similar threats. Then mysteriously the heroes and their equally matched enemies had begun showing up dead. The remainder then vanished without a trace.  CLEA at the time had been involved in recruiting Alpha Superiors to its ranks in the form of the White Guardian program but the take up was poor and following the ‘unusual’ spate of deaths, became non-existant.

The various deaths were investigated by CLEA and law enforcement agencies, but though suspicious, no culprits could be found and brought to justice. This was particularly shocking because after the Alpha Superiors started to turn up murdered, the Alpha inferiors seemed to suffer the same fate.

Eighteen years passed and Alpha’s were little more than a memory in the public eye. Then CLEA got a lucky break. The Atlantica Police Department hire a new chief, following a public scandal where corruption was believed to be involved. The new chief set about cleaning up the APD and during this period CLEA received intel that the corruption in the APD was not an isolated but was widespread in the corridors of power and not just limited to America but in law enforcement agencies and governments world wide.

The group responsible was rumored to be an international crime syndicate that went by the name “Black Shadow”. Further intel suggested that Black Shadow were behind the Alpha deaths. The syndicate had regarded Alpha Superior heroes as a problem and Alpha villains as unwanted competition and when they had been neutralised they had chosen to eliminate Alpha Inferiors due to their future ‘potential’.

Though the intelligence was weak, the chiefs were convinced they had to act, especially as the murders were still apparently happening only the corruption in law enforcement had seen them covered up. As the suspected murders went back over a twenty year period, and CLEA did not have the resources or the budget to perform a worldwide investigation, a task force was set up in Atlantica.

The APD had eliminated its corruption so it was seen as a location where Black Shadow’s position was weakened.  SeniorAgent Sarah Johnson was assigned to head the task force, and her orders were to locate any Alphas in the Atlantica region, that way CLEA could get ahead of the crime syndicate before they could commit any more killings.

Since many Alphas without any special abilities (Inferior) were unaware they were even Alphas, identifying potential victims was not straightforward. In fact the only option the task force had was to search through medical records. All Alphas had a known ‘pointer’, a distinctive birthmark and it was this they needed to find in the records. Once a potential victim was ‘discovered’ the task force was expected to set up surveillance on the “targets” and protect them whilst at the same time lay in a trap for Black Shadow.

Since Sarah had the option to hire anyone with specialist skills she chose to hire John Lyons, believing that he could save on unnecessary red tape. Medical records were not normally available to law enforcement agencies so a hacker could bypass the ‘problem’ to perform the greater good. Being an ex-con meant Johnson, had leverage to obtain John’s help since she could hand over everything they had on his current “activities” to the APD.

Sarah Johnson would later be discovered to work for Black Shadow and was set to ruin her own investigation but her arrogance meant she did not take into account that Lyons would recognise the fact she was a criminal like him. He initially became suspicious when she did not adhere to CLEA protocols and went out for clandestine meetings when there was no logical purpose. Then he noticed that Sarah never left her laptop aroundor allowed anyone else to see her files, which he thought odd because every other computer was networked to CLEA.

Then when he started his hacking of medical records he realised, ironically, that he bore the same tell tale birthmark he was looking for in others. His own medical records had been somewhat lacking since his early years had been spent as a street orphan and he had no medical records from his childhood, hence no identification of the birthmark.

Since he did not trust Sarah, he did not tell her he was an Alpha Inferior. Aware that the chances of an Alpha Inferior becoming a superior were nearly a thousand to one he figured it would be easy to hide his “secret.” The odds though would actually end up in his favour because he became unwell months into the investigation and the signs all pointed to him changing status. No doubt had he not been privy to the information regarding what to expect he would have no idea what was happening.

For the first time he was tempted to admit to Sarah he was an Alpha but before he did that he wanted to take a peak on her computer to find out what she was hiding. One night he stayed late at work after everyone had gone home and then tried to break into her office. Whilst performing the act she returned and the shock caused his Alpha abilities to trigger for the first time. Luckily for John, his Alpha ability enabled him to become invisible so Sarah walked right past him without noticing. She then picked up her handbag and left.
With the building empty John completed his “mission” and then stole he computer. Once he got home it was easy for him to get past the security but what he found was to shock him in ways he never anticipated for one of the files contained a list of names the team had supplied of potential Alphas. Using his own programs, he recovered older version of the file and noticed at one time it had been longer only the now missing names related to people who were dead.

He now knew that Sarah was not who or what everyone thought she was. Instinct had shown him that from the beginning and whilst he was more interested in saving his own skin he felt compelled to undo some of the damage he had obviously helped to create by handing her names. This was particularly personal because one of the names left on the list belonged to an ex APD police captain, Mike Williams.

Though at one time Williams was his nemesis, he did not want the man dead so figuring that Mike might be able to understand what he had uncovered he paid the ex-captain a visit. Whether it was luck of fate, John arrived just ahead of an assassination squad and saved his life. The attack also triggered Mike’s Alpha Abilities. Though the ex-captain had no idea what the “list” was he figured he knew one person that might, a senator whom he believed was corrupt and the same person responsible for ruining his police career by making him look dirty forcing an early his retirement from the force.

After getting Lyons to a friend’s house to stay, Mike waited to the next evening to have an impromptu meeting at Senator Frank Morgan’s residence. Suspecting that Morgan was working for some sort of criminal network the exception discovered that his theory was partially true for Morgan was a double agent working to bring down Black Shadow from the inside.

In the conversation that followed Morgan revealed all, including details of Black Shadow and the fact they considered all Alphas were threats. As the existence of Black Shadow was not known to anyone but handful of people high up in CLEA, Williams was told he had to keep what he had learned to himself. Morgan explained that, because the assassins had failed and he had become an Alpha Superior his very existence would distract the syndicate, which was useful to get the pieces in place to organisation because they would lose focus and not spot anything suspicious so easily.

When Williams revealed the intention to “save” everyone on the list, the Senator liked the idea as he knew it would cause the biggest possible distraction, a factor that he could work to his own personal advantage. Being a double agent the Senator could do no more but knew that William’s would need money and resources to attain his goal and after studying the list found the name Andrew McCabe. That person had everything Williams needed so Morgan set up a meeting for the ex-captain. From then on what happened would be down to Williams. However Morgan did make it clear that Williams owed him one.

As president of MCI, McCabe was a multi-billionaire and not the sort a person easily persuaded to believe he might be destined to have “Super Human” capabilities. This despite the fact he bore signs of going “through the change” something Lyon has explained to Williams and something he had personal experience with recently.

When the meeting looked like it was going to collapse Williams gambled and attacked the CEO causing McCabe’s Alpha abilities to activate. With undeniable proof now Williams got McCabe’s attention. He also put forward a plan to “rescue” the people on the list and needed McCabe’s financial help and resources. At this point Williams formed an idea in his mind to put the people they rescued into a team and use them to fight the likes of Black Shadow and other criminals as had the Alpha Heroes done years previously. In that moment of time Williams became the architect of team Zodiac.

Though McCabe offered money and equipment, the CEO did not want to play an active role in the team as he decided that playing hero was not for him. However Black Shadow was now aware of the missing list and were rapidly assigning assassins to take out all the targets. One group of assassins made the mistake of attacking the White Tower, MCI’s head office. McCabe was so full of rage that he changed mind and wanted in all the way, including active duties.

Working quickly the pair of them first recruited a leading Yamaki GT racer from Pacifica, Azumi Takara. Though she was not from Atlantica where most of the names on the list had come from, being a racing driver in a world series had seen her medical records appear after an accident at the Atlantica Speedway. As McCabe and Williams had planned to operate in and around Atlantica it was difficult to convince her to relocate to Atlantica and move away from her only family, her father Yoshi Takara and the sport she so dearly loved.

Several days after they left, Black Shadow assassins tried to kill her at her father’s officers and Azumi had to accept she would be safer with McCabe and Williams. Knowing that sacrificing everything to join the team had been hard on her, McCabe decided to work with her father Yoshi and give her something back, by having MCI sponsor a local level Yamaki series based at the Atlantica Speedway. Though she would not gain the same kudos as being in the World Series it was the best compromise he could come up with. As small teams flocked to the new series, McCabe got in deeper by establishing his own team with Yoshi which became MCI-Takara racing.

Not long after this Morgan cashed in his favour by asking Williams to break one of his “informants” out of a New Tokyo police station. Yoshito Sekita was working for CLEA in New Tokyo. Like Lyons, Yoshito had stumbled on the fact that Black Shadow had corrupted the agency. However unlike Lyons, Black Shadow knew Yoshito was an Alpha Superior and chosen not to eliminate him because they wanted his telepathic and telekinetic skills. Taken at gun point Black Shadow implanted an explosive device in his brain (see Alpha Strike for another example of this happening) to ensure co-operation and he was made to resume his duties with CLEA in order to feed information to Black Shadow.

When Morgan in his capacity as a Black Shadow member learned this, he gave Yoshito a way out by making him a double agent. However at a later time CLEA internal investigations began investigating the CLEA team Yoshito was part of due to payment irregularities regarding senior officers. Having got permission to operate from the New Tokyo Police, CLEA sent armed officers to arrest the agents suspected of corruption. At the time the CLEA strike team were unaware that Black Shadow had put their own operatives in place under orders to either protect its assets or if they looked like they were going to be captured they had to silence them instead.

In the resultant fire fight many died but Yoshito, the lone survivor, was captured and taken back by local police. They wanted him to clear up the mess since there was nobody in authority left from his own CLEA group of agents. The police wanted answers, but Yoshito refused to talk because he feared for his life knowing that the device in his head could be triggered by any corrupt insiders within the police force. Morgan had to get him out and needed outsiders to do it, hence he called in his favour with Williams. Yoshito thus became the first of four team members that were not on the list John Lyons stole.

The next Zodiac member to be recruited was a doctor. Parveen Bhatia was unlucky enough to have a cousin who had voluntarily joined Black Shadow as an asset. The syndicate eventually learned Parveen was an Alpha, and Black Shadow decided to have the cousin kill her as a loyalty test. Unable to carry out his orders, he told Parveen that she could not return home or else both of them would be killed and so for several years she did just that.

She left the area changed her name and began practicing out of in a small town outside Atlantica. She also changed her name and to make her disappearance seem genuine, her cousin identified a body at the morgue as being her. Thus, to Black Shadow he had carried out his assignment.
Then one night she attended the prenuptial celebrations for one of her closest friends in the town and the organiser chose to do it all in style by having the party in the big city. Thinking she would be safe for one night she went to the venue in Atlantica, during which a bar brawl broke out. As the police rounded everyone up and took statements Parveen’s fake ID became exposed. Forced to give her real name and identity to the police, she appeared back on Black Shadow’s radar.

Her cousin was killed for not carrying out orders and she was put back on the assassination list. Luckily for her, Lyons had stolen that same list and they got to her before the assassins. As the team’s resident doctor, Parveen made it clear she would adhere strictly to her medical oath which meant she would cause no harm to others and therefore would not use her Alpha abilities to harm anyone deliberately. Though not ideal the others had to accept that her view point would not change in combat ‘situations’ reducing her more to support role.

After Parveen, the next person on the list to be contacted was a detective in the Atlantica Police Department, Vincent Shaun Archer. Interestingly or ironically Vincent’s Alpha status had changed around the same time as Mike’s but though aware that he had special ‘powers’ elected to keep it a secret. In his position he had heard the rumours on the streets of Alpha’s meeting inexplicable fates and decided to it was wise not to advertise he was an Alpha superior.

Vincwent excelled in undercover work but his latest case has disturbed him immensely. His job was to infiltrate a research lab called Teknor after a tip off had revealed possible illegal practices. When he worked his way up their system and earned the trust of his superiors, Vincent uncovered Teknor’s secret, the pharmaceutical supplier had kidnapped two Alpha Inferior girls, Laura and Maria West when they were just six years old so they could use them for research. Trying to discover why all Alphas were immune to most illnesses had been the subject of much research and being able to recreate this ‘Alpha effect’ in normal people was seen as the solution to all medical problems. Teknor’s motives to benefit the entire human race could have been regarded as honourable, with the two girls being a small sacrifice to pay. However the girls were never volunteers and Teknor management were more interested in financial gain that could be made from such a brewakthrough.

The girls had been fed lies over the years and were under the belief they were survivors of a worldwide disaster and had been taken to the facility for safety. At the age of eleven, they had both become Alpha Superiors and remained at the lab quite happy until during their teens when both started to suspect that something was wrong, and then when they were sixteen they tried to escape to the outside world.

Teknor knew that it could never let the girls go free for the charges of kidnapping and public outcry would wreck the company and place many of the top brass in jail. Instead of “destroying” the evidence Teknor decided to hang on to their test subjects turning them from ‘guests’ to ‘prisoners’ at the facility. When Vincent arrived and learned what was going on he was surprised that his captain would not conduct a raid to rescue the young women. The captain was intimidated by the size of the company and did not want to go after them until there was irrefutable evidence.

Realising, that if Teknor got wind of his investigation, the twins would be killed, Vincent struck a bargain with Williams when asked to join the team. He agreed but only if they rescued the twins first.  Just before they met Vincent had openly been contemplating on using his Alpha abilities in anger to perform an unsanctioned rescue attempt. Though the odds were stacked against him, and there was a chance Teknor security could capture him and he become another Guinea pig he was unable to leave the girls to their fate. Therefore  when Mike arrived to recruit him, Vincent considered fate had intervened to alter the odds in his favour.

Williams was not comfortable in using the fledgling team he’d assembled to break into a secure facility illegally, but knew it was the correct moral choice, and in return he “recruited” three new members. The twins would be the next Zodiac members to arrive that were not on John Lyons list. Whilst trying to rehabilitate the twins back into society McCabe discovered that both their parents were dead and after becoming very close to them he decided to legally adopt them as his own children.

Suchin Charoenpura was the next Zodiac member to be “found”. As an Alpha Superior she had become a threat to Black Shadow as she had taken the war to them as a vigilante. The syndicate had killed her parents who were both scientists when she was ten years old by way of Alpha Strike. Surviving the massacre at the lab which also took the lives of her “extended” family, Suchin found her way to Europa and was forced into working for the Claremont drugs cartel who used children as couriers. When she got too old for this task she became employed as a prostitute and a dancer by the cartel as did many young women. Trapped and unable to escape the cartel for fear of their lives Suchin found her way out when her Alpha abilities triggered and she became Alpha Superior.

Teaming up with a mercenary Nathan Clarke who also had a grievance against the cartel, all she could think about was revenge. It was only after and after she had caused some serious damage to the cartel’s operations that she learned Black Shadow was responsible for her parent’s murder and wanted vengeance on that group more so than the Claremont gang. This time her mercenary friend refused to go down that path believing the syndicate was too big a fish to hunt.

Having learned via the criminal underworld that one of the most prominent people in Black Shadow was “The Baron” she headed to Atlantica for revenge. Seeing how heavily protected he was, she decided to tone down her “mission” and take down anyone she discovered helping the Baron. By destroying them she figured that he would lose face in the syndicate and she could create an awful lot of disharmony, weakening Black Shadow at the foundations. Taking out Black Shadow assets were rather easy for her, since she had no fear of them as the only people she figured might cause a problem would be Alpha Strike but they had not been seen in nearly twenty years.

Though she did cause damage to some of Black Shadow’s Atlantica operation the only real accomplishment her attacks achieved was making herself a priority target for Black Shadow assassins. When Michael, Vincent and Yoshito arrived at her hideout Suchin assumed they were from Black Shadow and had come to kill her. Fleeing into the sewers she separated all three of them and after removing all but Yoshito from the fight the two of them clashed. Yoshito tried to explain why they were ther,e but she wouldn’t listen and after managing to knock him to the floor Yoshito tried to distract her by using his telekinetic abilities to lift his Sai and throw them at her, assuming she would be in her ultra-dense form.

Only as the Sai buried itself in Suchin’s chest did he realise, she had changed back to normal density and he had inadvertently seriously injured her. Though Suchin survived her injures Yoshito felt severe guilt for what he had done and wanted to leave the team. He felt he was a liability but the Parveen talked with him and tried to make him understand what had happened was simply bad luck. Still unconvinced, he finally changed his mind when Suchin forgave him. As Yoshito and Suchin had both been mentally “damaged” through what they had been forced to endure in the past they worked together to rebuild their lives anew. In so doing they grew close to each other and would go on to have a relationship.

Though almost everyone else up until this point apart from Suchin had only had been fortunate to only have been targeted once by Black Shadow, the next name on “the list” would in the end me become a target on two separate occasions and for two different reasons.

Charlotte Manceaux, lawyer and owner of the firm Manceaux Law had initially been attacked when Black Shadow discovered she was an Alpha several years before Lyons obtained the list. She had been traveling home with her fiancé in a chauffeured limo belonging to the law firm and was attacked by assassins on bikes but the attack was only indirectly successful. The driver was injured but survived the shooting. However the threat on her life triggered her Alpha abilities for the first time and without knowing what was happening she inadvertently sent an electrical pulse through the vehicle. The shock totally incapacitated the already injured driver and he stomped on the accelerator and the car ploughed off the road and down an embankment where it cartwheeled to a halt. The wreck was so badly mangled that Charlotte had to be cut out and her shins were so badly damaged that both her lower legs had to be amputated above the knee. Her lover and the driver died at the scene.

Only after she was recovering in hospital did she realise she had the capabilities to absorb electromagnetic energy and then to her horror she learned that because of her Alpha abilities the crash had been partly her fault. Though she was given the option of using prosthetics she was so deep in depression that she never stuck to the physio appointments and consequently ended up using a wheelchair to get around. Due to the loss of her fiancé Charlotte regarded her Alpha abilities as a curse and never actively sought to use them. For this reason and since she was disabled, Black Shadow decided she was no longer a threat.

Later on the syndicate would reverse a decision a few years later after Charlotte had returned to work and her firm got involved in a case involving an unscrupulous business man. The suspect was a key member of Black Shadow and they needed the case for the prosecution to “disappear” hence plans were made to eliminate Charlotte.

When Williams and McCabe saw her name on the list they had no idea that the “hit” would be a second attempt on her life. They did not know either that she was being targeted not because she was an Alpha but because her job was a direct ‘legal’ threat to the syndicate. Since Williams had handled a lot of the work so far, McCabe decided he would try and recruit Charlotte and he was surprised to find she was disabled. The recruitment drive was a total disaster. McCabe suggested her life was at risk because she was “special”, but Charlotte proved she already knew she was an Alpha Superior by displaying some of her power. She also made it clear she hated that power so would not get involved in any group that would make use of it. Then Charlotte suggested that since she was disabled she would not really be a threat to Black Shadow and then sent McCabe packing.

McCabe though would not be defeated and after a rethink and a new strategy he succeeded in getting her to join them, helped partly on his return visit by the other “team” members having to protect her when Black Shadow assassins finally caught up to her. Since she needed to be more mobile Charlotte had to retry using her prosthetic limbs but as she had neglected her original training regime, Parveen had to give her an intense course. This she struggled with as the pain was almost unbearable but the doctor was persistent. Parveen kept pushing but found it difficult to keep her cool because Charlotte was a “difficult” patient.

Reaching out to the others, Michael Williams suggested he take over the training since it seemed obvious that the gentle approach was not working and Charlotte needed some “tough love”. Unlike Parveen who would simply accept the insults, Mike fought back and refused to let her give in. Like the doctor, he knew Charlotte was acting up out of the pain and he admired her for keeping going. Out of the daily training wars a strange occurrence happened because as Charlotte got better, Mike found himself drawn to her company. Though from opposite social circles the two of them would come to enjoy each other’s company and like Suchin and Yoshito they would also consummate a relationship as well. (Later they would progress further and become married).

Whilst romance blossomed for Williams the future for the group as a whole looked good because together they had saved everyone on the list except one. Though Charlotte was a useful distraction Mike still found time to chase down the last name which belonged to Natalie Terelle, a VR programmer.
He felt complete confidence on beating the crime syndicate altogether. However with the delays in recruiting other team members, and extra unplanned missions, the passage of time had allowed Black Shadow to finally get ahead of Williams and McCabe. Aware that people on the “list” were being protected, rather than an obvious attack on the target, Black Shadow elected a subtle approach when it came to Natalie. Operatives for the syndicate decided to get Natalie’s own “work” to do the evil deed. Aware she liked to work late, the operatives managed to implant a virus into her VR headset. Its activation created a series if hypnotic patterns which would keep her mesmerised long enough for a fire bomb to go off. Both the virus and the bomb were set to trigger at a time when nobody was going to be around to save her and the plan nearly worked because Williams arrived too late to save Natalie.

She had been trying the headset to run a program and the virus kicked in. The various patterns and colours held her in a trance like state and she was only “released” when the fire spread and cut the power. By this time she was trapped three floors up and had nowhere to go. Natalie would have died if it was not for one unforeseen factor that either Black Shadow or Mike Williams knew about. That factor was a person, Kwame Gyasi, a truck driver who was only in Atlantica and happened to be near Natalie’s place of work because he needed a room for the night.

Originally from the United African States, Kwame was aware he was an Alpha Superior but having been subjected to bullying in his childhood because he was partly deaf he always feared how people might treat him if they knew he had super human strength. People at home eventually learned his secret so he fled to America in order to avoid the unwanted attention. On the night Black Shadow tried to kill Natalie he had to make the choice to use his gift in public.

Seeing her screaming at an open window and with no chance of help, Kwame ripped a lamppost out of the ground and used it to shimmy up to the open window. Natalie was barely conscious so he reached in and threw her over his shoulder before making his way back down to the ground.
Williams saw Kwame in action and after getting Natalie medical treatment from the EMTs that had arrived at the scene he asked Kwame to join the team but the loner refused, preferring to keep himself apart from society. A few days later though Kwame changed his mind when he realised his “secret” had saved a life and there was so much better usages for them if he did not keep them hidden.

This decision would make Kwame the last member of the team to join and the last member that was not on the stolen list. He however was not the last Alpha Superior to join the team for Natalie would spend several weeks in the safety of the White Tower before she too gained her superior status.

With thirteen members now part of the team there was only the matter of what they called themselves. At first as they operated in secret as a vigilante group under the collective name of the Night Hunters. Then Morgan made contact with them and asked the team to go public as he had noticed their actions had caused Black Shadow to make mistakes. By going public the Senator figured that the team would get the crime syndicate on the back foot and if pressure was heaped upon them then Black Shadow would need to hold a crisis meeting with its Atlantica senior members to work out what to do about a bunch of costumed heroes. If such an event took place then Morgan suggested that would be the ideal time to bring down the organisation. Williams and McCabe could not fault the logic and so agreed to the proposal.

This meant they had to come up with a better name than the Night Hunters, a symbol the general public could rally behind. It was Laura who came up with the idea they would go with in the end. She had found herself waiting for a team meeting one day and began reading her horoscope. Noticing how most of the team had links to the Zodiac sign through either their personalities, their Alpha abilities, their background or even their star sign she suggested that was what they called themselves. At first the others did not like the idea but as they could not think of anything else they eventually came around to her idea.

After a few public appearances in which they captured the media attention, Zodiac became the talk of Atlantica. Nobody knew where they came from or where they went to, all expect CLEA. For some time the team had been hacking into the APD and CLEA’s databases to gain intelligence and in the case of the latter they had not gone unnoticed. Chief Naylor approached the group and rather than charge them for hacking, she suggested they work together. If they agreed to assist CLEA in certain operations then she would grant them unlimited access to CLEA’s intelligence files. In return for this they would have to accept a CLEA officer working with them as a liaison. At first Williams and McCabe refused but when they realised she could make life very difficult for them, they compromised, figuring that a liaison could help them smooth over problems when the team would have to deal with local police and other “local” agencies. This led Agent Antonio Rossi to joining the team on a full time basis. As CLEA liaison he ensured Team Zodiac did not disrupt any ongoing undercover operations involving CLEA or anyone else and he got them the intelligence reports they required.

In time the press worked out the team operated from the White Tower and so Zodiac went official. It took quite some time for the excitement to die down but when it did Morgan reported that Black Shadow was holding the meeting. When this occurred Zodiac, the APD and CLEA went to the secret location but as well as Black Shadow members they found Alpha Strike waiting. The team of Alpha Criminals had been ‘stored’ in cryogenic stasis to be redeployed in a crisis situation, such as what was just happening. Alpha Strike where not scared to cause collateral damage and use innocent lives as shields which almost had Zodiac on the back foot for some time in the battle. However, Zodiac endured and won the day.

Once key Black Shadow members were captured in Atlantica, the intelligence gained allowed other agencies around the world to find syndicate members and the whole group collapsed within months.
With Black Shadow gone the team’s work had not ended but just begun for as Alpha villains and other powerful criminals began appearing out of everywhere which ensured they were kept busy. Alone they would not have coped with the demands of hunting them all but just as negative elements of society were trying to make use of the power vacuum heroes began appearing everywhere.

In time, Black Shadow would re-emerge but it would never achieve its original worldwide status. By this time McCabe and Williams had begun to notice that with other heroes around their large team seemed liked overkill in Atlantica. The decision was made to split the group in two and base themselves in Atlantica and New Tokyo. Rossi then would spend his time alternating between both groups.
McCabe would also go on to set up the Knights Forge along with other partners in order to keep the team and other heroes equipped adequately.

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