It’s about time you all had some concrete background on what is really happening so that when you read these stories, you have a frame of reference rather than having to decipher it as you read. This is the deal, as best I can reconstruct it, from several conversations with Frank and a mutual friend I shall refer to for now as the JAMer.

The world was pretty normal for the most part. Oh, there were a few extraordinary individuals starting with Captain America and later his daughter, American Pryde. Then, a year and a half ago, the New York Science Fair incident, an “accident” eventually traced to terrorist activity blamed on Latveria, occurred. Intended to be much more destructive and spectacular, it was almost completely prevented by a few youths who had an exhibit near what would have been “ground zero.” For their heroics, they were rewarded with exposure to extra-dimensional radiation permanently changing them into what would become the nucleus of Team Liberty sponsored by the U.S. Defense Department for the purpose of preventing future terrorism.

Last September, things changed drastically when a new energy drink launched under the brand-name “Nuclear Fructosion.” It was just one in a series of such products trying to capitalize on the trending need to find personal energy on-demand. Millions of cans were sold on launch day, packaged over the course of a couple dozen production runs in the weeks immediately preceding the launch. One of those production runs was tainted with a mutagenic poison, a derivative of a human-genome enhancement serum researched secretly by the U.S. government some three decades ago – and then stolen.

It produced different symptoms in every victim and proved extremely lethal – any treatment that helped one victim invariably killed anyone else it was tried on. In all, 914,228 people were poisoned before the product recall was complete. 856 (<0.085% or 85 hundredths of one percent) survived. All of the survivors were mutated in some way, with results the original drug was never designed to produce. Each victim’s mutations vary based on the mutagen’s interaction with both their mind and body. Many of the survivors were found to have unusual powers or abilities and a worldwide sensation/scare/panic/hunt was initiated to locate/identify/track/watch these folks who became known as metas or metaXs – the worry was enhanced by the dramatically heightened ambitions and powers of two formerly obscure second-world leaders.

The government, of course, got involved to the tune of two agencies: DOSPA (Department Of Superhuman and Paranormal Affairs), a cabinet level agency which sets policy on the subject, and PRIMUS (acronym to be provided later), an executive branch police agency trained and equipped to deal with metaXs who disobey the law. PRIMUS – J Cranton Lawless: Director – actually operates the Meta-secure facilities of properly equipped prisons. PRIMUS also maintains the most complete official database on the incident, its survivors, and their mutations.

Not every survivor’s mutations were dramatic or noticeable, but every known survivor became suspect in the wave of fear that swept the world. Some victims had means and were treated privately, some were foreign and treated abroad, and a few had no means but survived in spite of the lack of care. These cases did not have treatment records (at least not in the U.S.), so no copies were sent to the National Poison Control Center or were forwarded to PRIMUS, yet, even these were documented via intelligence efforts. There were a few whose identities were never discovered, but all were documented as completely as possible and efforts at intelligence gathering are determined, and persistent.

Two Cities, Millenium City and New York City, have MARS (Metahuman Activity Response Squads) responsible to apprehend meta-criminals on behalf of PRIMUS. There is a third location of “super” activity in San Diego, but since only Nature Boy Kirby has operated there (until recently) and is not noted as a meta (thought technically, he is), no MARS is maintained there. The few “super baddies” that have turned up there are attributable to the bio-tech research concentrated there or the occasional upstart who thinks to begin a career against “weaker” heroes (or at least fewer heroes). They are usually RUDELY surprised when they meet the Nature Boy,…

Almost immediately, the entertainment industry, being the opportunists they are, launched The HERO Channel, a channel devoted to the latest about metaXs much the way MTV is devoted to the latest about music. A series hosted on the HERO Channel called, “So You Want to be a Super Hero” aired for several months before several of the contestants were outright killed, live, on the air. Team Liberty promptly investigated and when programming resumed a few minutes later, the Team was locked in mortal combat with the immensely powerful and evil Emperor X. In the battle, Phoenix was killed (again), by a nuclear bomb she was taking away from Earth to prevent it doing major harm.

Team Liberty originally closely followed government orders. Since the Nuclear Fructosion incident, (shortly after the research was stolen) they parted ways and established independent operations, backed and funded primarily by Multi-Gazillionaire Industrialist Jack Frost.

The most interesting wrinkle is the so called Sentinel Program, which no one claims. The “program” maintains a number (unknown how many) of 30-odd foot tall robots which hunt metaXs. That is not how some of the press report it, but if you watch events as they happen, you see it. The Whitehouse denies knowledge of any particulars and doesn’t recognize it as legitimate, meaning neither DOSPA nor PRIMUS officially controls it. Someone controls it, hides it, and funds it quite well though. Sentinel robots, when active, routinely cite authority to act under a law that is not yet a law. It is only a bill, and it is not making good progress in congress.

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