Persona New Agent Briefing

“Power Corrupts, ladies and gentlemen. These are the two most important words you will hear today. Remember them, because we’re going to come back to it and explain it throughout the session today.”

“I want to welcome all of you. New agents - employees of the Persona Corporation, or our Federal friends of the American Counter-Terrorism Icon Operations Network.”

“Today I’ll be briefing you on what Persona Corporation is, how it got started, and what you and we are here to do for each other. Lunch will be at 12:15, and we’ll resume at 12:45. Cold beverages are in the back if anyone gets thirsty. I do ask that all of you silence your cell phones and I must insist on no photography or recording of this session.”

The Children of Eve and Lilith

“The Children of Eve and the Children of Lilith. That’s what the Weizmann Institute’s best researchers call them. Human beings who have undergone mitochondrial mutation. Children born to certain parents - all the children of a given mother, in fact - will exhibit distinct differences in their cellular mitochondria. A quick refresher from high school biology. Mitochondria are sort of a cell-within-a-cell. They’re responsible for powering the cells of our body, and contribute to fighting disease, cellular mitosis, and many other important functions.”

“Children of Eve - supers - metahumans - powered individuals - posthumans. Children of Lilith - monsters - demons - supervillains. You’ll hear a lot of names for both, but they have something in common. It’s called the Hashmal Process.”

“The Hashmal Process has multiple stages. Normal humans are at Stage One. When a baby is born, he goes off life support and his body immediately needs to get on the ball to supply itself. This is what triggers Stage Two in a Child of Eve. This happens seven to ten days after birth. The mutated mitochondria in their cells are pressured by the demands of energy to overproduce, and the mutation engages itself. Actual powers might not manifest for years, until a Stage Three event happens, but the potential is now there. Children of Lilith are those who don’t make the proper linkage between their cells and their mitochondria. Their Stage Two engages somewhere between eighteen and twenty-three days after birth.”

“Stage Three is the interesting part. More interesting because it’s not the end - we have evidence that there is at least a fifth stage in development. But that’s a briefing for another day. Anyway: when the body is forced into a particularly stressful or draining situation - anything from a childhood accident to a growth spurt during puberty - the mitochondrial mutation engages again. The child gains incredible power, superhuman power, always unique to that child. There’s no telling how the mitochondria will act, even among siblings.”

“Some people don’t experience their third stage until adulthood. Some get it very young, as low as four years old in one case.”

“These people are given more power than any other human on the planet - arguably more, in a few cases, than the CEO of the largest company in the world, or the President of America. And as I said at the beginning, power corrupts.”

“That’s where we come in.”

The company

“The Persona Corporation was founded as a result of some very interesting research and development done by its founders. We’re the first - and I think the only - corporation in the world that has unlocked some of the processes whereby superhuman abilities can be modified, suppressed, or even - possibly - enhanced.”

“We sponsor the Icons. I’m sure you’ve all heard of them. The American superhero team that’s been responsible for a great deal of work, including some impressive domestic counter-terrorism, rescue, and philanthropic work.”

“Persona funds itself primarily through licensing the use of its technology to national governments and large, trustworthy organizations like the United Nations, the Red Cross, and so forth. We work closely with governments, NGOs, and private individuals as required. We cooperate with friendly, law-abiding superhumans.”

Icon control

“All of you have signed your non-disclosure forms and had the implications of those forms explained to you. What I can now tell you is that the Icons are not really people. Don’t think of them as human beings with their own hopes, dreams, wishes, or ambitions. They don’t have secret identities. The personalities they have are a sham. Persona’s agents - the Icons’ operators - drive them remotely, through proprietary Persona technology.”

“As an agent, your job will be to play the role of an Icon. You’ll physically be located here at our headquarters, or in one of our mobile operations centers, but your real body will be quiescent. You’ll see, and feel, and experience everything that one of the Icons feels. Your thoughts and intentions will be translated into actions the Icon takes. If you want to pick up a rock, the Icon picks it up. If you want to throw it somewhere, the Icon will throw it at that place.”

“Our Icons are fast, strong, and agile. You won’t be up to their standards, but you won’t have to be. The reflexes and control architecture of the Icon will do a lot of the work for you. You’ll be able to perform physical feats that you’d have no hope to pull off in your original bodies.”

“That said, we’re not doing anything like transferring your mind or soul or consciousness into another body. You stay right where you are, your brain keeps operating just like it always does, and if the Icon gets knocked out, you’re still okay.”

“Agents are chosen for their professionalism, their skill set, and their ability to function as Icons to the general public. I want to remind you all that the Icons are a highly-respected team. They have a lot of goodwill with the world at large, and that goodwill has been generated entirely through the actions of people like yourselves. The key to making terrorism effective is to make people afraid, and one of our strongest assets is our ability to counteract that fear. You are doing America a service by upholding what it stands for through the Icons.”

“This information is strictly confidential. You are expected not to discuss it with anyone except members of your immediate team, or your supervisor. Members of the military or government employees with security clearance may have access to such information; we’ll be covering that in more detail in another briefing.”

“And now that you know something about your jobs, I want to remind you again. Power corrupts, and with this information, and control of the Icons, you will have power. We will be watching.”

Agent Frequently Asked Questions

‘’‘Do superhumans try to join the Icons? If so, what happens?’’’

“We get asked sometimes. We send them to HR, who will either evaluate them for the Allies program or politely say no. Allies are basically their own teams, managed by corporate personnel and backed by Persona, and after a few months to a year we make another determination about the candidate: whether to tell them the truth about the Icons. Those that are told usually stay on with the Allies and graduate to senior management or command positions. Those that aren’t are quietly let go.”

‘’‘What’s the real difference between Children of Eve and Lilith? Are Lilim automatically bad guys?’’’

“Absolutely no they are not bad guys. Though unfortunately it tends that way.”

“Children of Eve tend to grow up smarter, faster, healthier, and better than stage one humans. Their mitochondria give them considerable advantages, but that happens thanks to a solid symbiosis between the mutate and their overall cellular structure.”

“Children of Lilith have a bad linkage, or a partial one, which makes their cells go out of control. They exhibit physical deformities or extreme mutations, like hair all over their body, or atavistic animal traits like claws, and their hormonal balance is frequently off. Because of this they have a very challenging time adapting to society, and society at large doesn’t really seem interested in changing that. So most of them exhibit antisocial behavior, or isolate themselves. There are some Lilitim who live in Alaska, or Siberia, or the Congo, or in the sewers of New York City. They don’t want to hurt anyone and don’t want to get hurt, and we leave 'em alone for the most part.”

“Of course sometimes all their advantages will go to an Eve’s head, and they’ll fall into Superman Syndrome - the notion that they’re better or more deserving. At that point they become a risk to society if they act out those feelings, and we’re also tasked with dealing with such people.”

‘’‘How does the arrest and incarceration model work? Is there a death penalty?’’’

“A lot of new agents ask this question, and I’m sorry I can’t really go into the details of why, but as a rule Persona prefers to incarcerate rogue Eves or Lilitim. Sometimes we get a serious crime, and they hand down a death sentence - and a lot of people think that the guy deserved it, and often maybe he did a lot to deserve it. Persona’s legal staff will file an amicus brief in such cases and try to work with the courts to arrange something fair.”

“Each member of Persona’s Icons has law enforcement privileges. Behind the scenes, we make sure that there’s an agent who is also empowered within the appropriate jurisdiction, and that agent is the one who will make the actual arrest. In such cases, a team supervisor will direct Icon operators to follow that agent’s lead, and the agent will deputize members of his team as necessary.”

“Another reason we prefer jail time: we’re working on the Hashmal process for Lilitim, finding ways to retune their bodies and change their cell structure to remove the Lilith qualities. This is done on a case by case basis, always, and the patient must always give informed consent for us to proceed. Our hope is that such individuals can be rehabilitated.”