|“||The Council has spies everywhere.||„|
|~ Angelo Vendetti (Staunch enemy of the Council)|
The Council is a villainous group in the M.M.O. City of Heroes. It is a para-military group of considerable resources operating in the US and Etolie Isles once it's members needed to flee Europe after World War II. The Council is a reformed Nazi organization. Though they maintain much of the Nazis' research, techniques and former members of the Nazi party, it has denounced the rampant racism and xenophobia previously imposed within it. The Council believe they have found the key to creating the superior life-forms through genetic augmentation and while they still maintain any member of inferior races should be purged from the planet, they now offer the chance to be genetically spliced into a superior being to all non-members, those who refuse to join them, however, are to be purged.
A Shadow Rises Across Europe
Before they were The Council, the organization was known as The 5th Column. The 5th Column was the brain-child of Benito Mussolini. Mussolini admired his co-Axis leader, Adolf Hitler, and was so impressed by Germany's Nazis, he set-out to match them by creating his own Italian branch - this as the 5th Column. Mussolini's assigned commander was Ridolfo Uzzano, a man who had toured Italy searching for a secret society, when he found them he was accepted and set to be merged with an ancient dark power the society, the Path of the Dark, had semi-worshiped for centuries. At Ridolfo's induction ceremony though a group of adventurers, who had been searching for the Path of Dark had finally found them; A fire-fight broke out. The members of the Path of Dark were either killed or arrested. A stray bullet had pierced the dark crystal Ridolfo stood before creating a feed-back explosion and the last anyone saw of Ridolfo Uzzano during the ordeal, he was being dragged into the darkness screaming by the very shadows. Uzzano had appeared years later, at first to avenge himself on the adventurers, hunting-them-down across Europe and killing all members he knew of, the wife of the team's leader being the only recorded survivor, spared only since Uzzano did not know she existed. In his campaign across Europe, he was no longer going by the name "Ridolfo Uzzano". but instead "Requiem".
Requiem had gained the last of the dark power kept alive by the cult through-out the centuries, the power of Nictus. He was physically described as a being of living shadow, the only parts of him escaping shadow where his eyes, which glowed red. Mussolini was impressed by Requiem's campaigns across Europe, so when Requiem reported in, to serve in the Italian military, Mussolini appointed him as head of his new Italian Nazis - The 5th Column. With Requiem leading and Mussolini funding the 5th Column surpassed the German Nazis, however Requiem knew the value of remaining silent. The 5th Column continued to supply the Italian troops, but mostly did spy work and built resources, Requiem dead-set on supplanting Hitler's people once the War was over. On April 28th, 1945, the 5th Column would change forever as Benito Mussolini was executed, the Italian government dissolved all connections to the 5th Column and Requiem's plans were left in pieces. One of Mussolini's dignitaries, Paolo Tirelli would have been out of a job any way and decided he would rather be isolated in the 5th Column than as a powerless bureaucrat in the Italian government and completed the severing of ties between the Column and the Italian government on the 5th Columns side.
The Center Held
The Center was technically in-charge of the 5th Column, in swearing allegiance to Mussolini's government, though Requiem tried to put Tirellii in a figure-head position, he soon found Tirelli intended to be the Center of it's operations. Paolo Tirelli had connections to an Italian assassination group called Arachnos, and started relying more and more on Arachnos with their official suppliers in Italy gone. The Center re-staffed most of the 5th Column with Arachnos assassins, though eventually, the leader of Arachnos, The Weaver, cut ties with them, his assassins taking more to the 5th Column than their home organization. In addition to supply issues, The Center had a major issue, recruitment. With no state conscription, the 5th Column would not be able to replenish it's ranks. Arachnos had pumped new blood into the 5th Column but the Weaver too had cut off troops. After the second World War, there was a massive stigma tied to the 5th Column for no one wanted ties to Nazis, much less being recruited into such a group, and with no state conscription The Center faced a very real problem in a generation or two.
Overtime The Center found a brilliant scientist who would be called "Arakhn". Arakhn is said to have been an assassin prior to her lab-work and so it is likely she was a member of Arachnos. Arakhn was a genetic researcher prior to joining the 5th Column and seemingly joined to accelerate her research. She had been studying Requiem's DNA to trace his powers, she eventually revealed Requiem's dark power was called a "Nictus". Nictus were aliens, they took portals from world to world to try to steal the new planets they arrived on. Nictus are beings of living dark energy. The Nictus can not survive in most atmospheres, in adapting to this, Nictus have evolved to be able to merge with other organisims, though it is less a "merger" than a possession. Nictus hosts are coated in dark energy, become increasingly hostile and view their past lives as a "pupa stage", with memories of it as a childish mortal phase. The will of the Nictus tends to over-ride all other aspects of the host once it's identity is set aside, minus a quirk or two from the host added on. Any creature possessed by a Nictus is added to the Nictus hive-mind as a type of form to assume. In theory Nictus can transform into any species it takes over, into any other species any Nictus has ever possessed.
With her revelation about the Nictus, Arakhn injected herself with some Nictus samples and became Nictus too, like Requiem. Requiem felt violated, he wanted the dark power of the Nictus all to himself, but The Center green-lit the experiments and requested Arakhn start working on augmenting soldiers with Nictus DNA. With the Nictus, The Center had found a solution to his problem. Nictus DNA, properly harvested, could last forever and could merge with any living thing. Nictus -can- take over any life-form, but non-willing hosts tend to burn-out quickly, killing the host and the Nictus inside and so Nictus only possess non-willing creatures for a short time, taking residence in crystal formed by the tears in reality where they touch down on a planet - this was what Requiem had found, The Path of Dark was worshiping a Nictus hive kept alive on earth since ancient times. Arakhn, The Center and The Nictus saw a solution to each-other's problems. The Nictus needed hosts, the 5th Column needed recruits and the Nictus could grant super-human abilities to any they inhabited. The Center made several new policies based on Arakhn's research. First of all, The Center declared a reformation to the 5th Column's Nazi philosophy. It was politically inconvenient to be bound to Nazism and The Center had never cared about dark-skinned people, Jews or homosexuals being exterminated. In keeping with Mussolini's attempts to follow Hitler's wish for a "Master-Race" The Center concluded any being merged with a Nictus to naturally be a superior race, so by simply reforming Nictus as the "Master-Race", not Caucasians, The Center was able to technically stay true to the 5th Column's origins without being weighed down by them.
Requiem had been intending to usurp The Center anyway, but with Arakhn's discovery and the new policy of what "Master-Race" would mean going forward, Requiem opted to turn the 5th Column against The Center. Many die-hard Nazis sided with Requiem, but most had joined the 5th Column for power, not philosophy and with Arakhn's new super-soldiers Requiem's rebellion failed. He escaped execution and went into isolation with a few others. Before he left, Requiem had managed to get Colonel Burkholder, Vandal and Nosferatu on his side, he would later secretly induct new recruit, Maestro to his side as well, but Requiem told his officers to keep hidden and simply provide him with information and resources on the inner-working of the organization until the time was right for a second great rebellion. After the rebellion, The Center decided a formal change was in-order, and to remove themselves from the stain of Requiem's fanaticism and the political back-log of the Nazis, The Center re-dubbed the organization "The Council".
The Modern Council
Arakhn did not want the Nictus calling the shots for her species were wild and spread like a virus. Arakhn wanted to be the last full Nictus, but still intended to continue her research. Small samples of Nictus would germinate in Council troops, tiny strains would modify normal humans to work at peek human efficiency - thus Arakhn repurposed injections of such strains plus a few preservative materials as a super-soldier serum for The Council.
Though The Council operate mainly out of the smuggler area off of Paragon City known as Striga, they also have established territory in Etolie Isles, AKA, The Rogue Isles just off the US east-coast. The Rogue Isles are ruled over by Arachnos, for the Weaver was assassinated long ago by a meta-human who could well be classified as a demi-god, Lord Recluse, one of The Weaver's recruits who turned on his master when he bungled a major operation to seize Paragon Rhode Island. Lord Recluse is a Social Darwinist and has reformed Arachnos into a government for the Rogue Isles. Despite the size of the scattered Etolie archipelago, under Arachnos it is now a world-power. The Center established Striga long ago as a HQ while the world forgot about the Nazis and was only recently found so he keeps his main base there. The Council continue to allow The Marcone Family and The Warriors to do business smuggling in Striga as both supplied The Council for years, but warn them not to venture deep into the Isle, where the Council train.
The Rogue Isles represent a truly opportune place to train in, so The Council sent representatives to The Rogue Isles to parlay with Arachnos. As Arachnos and The Council have ties, The Council was at-least let in the door to make negotiations. As Arachnos are Social Darwinists now they firmly detest racial supremacy and many troops are itching to open fire on the Council. The Center has re-emphasized to Lord Recluse he never had any attachment to the delusions of Hitler and has stamped out the remaining fanatics from his ranks who did. Lord Recluse and the Center eventually came to an agreement. The Council would be allowed to set up a base on the tip of Sharkhead Island, in an area known as The Pit. The Council would receive routine "Inspections" via Arachnos peace-keeping forces. Troops would be sent into the Council base. If The Council could not recover/repel the small but elite teams of Arachnos troops it would only prove The Council were too weak to make it in the Isles and thus they would be wiped out after the raid. If they could survive the raids, Arachnos would leave them alone for a month or so before their next "inspection". However, if Arachnos troops found even one trace of Nazi ideology, one killed person of color, one Jew being experimented on, one manifesto of Mein Kampf, one emblem of the 5th Column the team would report in immediately and Arachnos would carpet bomb the entire area and begin assassination proceedings of The Center off in Striga. Lord Recluse is many things, but he particularly hates Nazis and so The Center is kept constantly on his toes operating out of The Rogue Isles. So far The Council have repelled or recovered from all Arachnos raids, and see the monthly cleansing of some/most of their staff there as a form of tax to operate in a UN nation that evades UN regulations.
Between their decades old HQ in Striga and their major training facility in Sharkhead, The Council are able to keep pumping out high-quality soldiers and push the standards or scientific and military might. The Center would very much like to conquer the Rogue Isles too, but sees Lord Recluse as the last possible enemy to make, thus he is more focused on spreading out in the US from Striga first. Super-Heroes of Paragon City regularly undermine Council operations as nearly all are illegal. Super-Villains of the Rogue Isles regularly steal Council resources or kill Council soldiers because Lord Recluse's profound hatred for Nazis, sees that Arachnos does not try overly hard to guarantee The Council's safety, giving super-villains an excuse to use The Council as outlets for abject sadism as they feel inclined.
Most of The Council appear to be normal humans armed with guns, body-armor and night-vision goggles - but there is more to them than meets they eye. The Council's troops punch, kick and dodge and incredible speeds. They are hardy even without their armor and many can take a bullet or two even without their bullet resistant armors on. These troop make-up most of The Council, though in various different stages of strength depending on the amount of time they have been training/taking their serums.
Arakhn's mentor, Nosferatu had been using alternate forms Nictus had incorporated into a genetic modification process of creatures he called "Vampyrs" - using himself as the first test-subject of-course. Vampyrs, had psychic powers to mesmerize others, suck the energy out of other life-forms, and their natural Nictus properties allowed them to give of dark blasts of energy, as well as regenerate any wounds.
Another genetic mutation Nosferatu and Arakhn had engineered were dubbed "War-Wolves". Soldiers injected with the serum did not always take well and Nosferatu and Arakhn created a bobby-prize state, where the default serum would mutate anyone who could not handle/tried to reject the Nictus into mutated mirrors of bipedal and wolf-like species combined from previously Nictus host aliens. War-Wolves exist as feral creatures rejecting all humanity, kept in-line only due to intense brain-washing that only keeps them just barely loyal enough to focus on enemies of The Council as their primary prey.
- The vampire and werewolf-like mutations are no coincidence, Nosferatu is a fan of classic monster-movies and so wanted such forms to be defaults for his experiments. Arakhn cared less about the theatrics of War-Wolves and Vampyrs and more of what they could do for The Council; Nosferatu's preferences were indulged as long as the results were efficient soldiers.
The last major mutated type of Council using Nictus DNA is the Galaxy Soldiers, these creatures are entirely of Arakhn's design. Galaxy Soldiers appear humanoid, but albino and with glowing purple eyes. Arakhn dresses the Galaxy Soldiers in purple spandex for both easy movement and to establish them as not needing armor or guns with their Nictus DNA fully in effect. Arakhn herself dresses like a Galaxy Soldier and works day and night to unlock more, and more modifications to Nictus augmentation.
The Council stole the schematics for the android hero, Citadel. Through use of Citadel's schematics, The Council has managed to produce several knock-off robot troops - nowhere close to as strong as Citadel, but making up for it in numbers. Vandal has transferred his brain to a Citadel like body, but even he admits it pales to the original.
The final group of the Council are the Ascendants. Ascendant wear silver armor from head to toe, carry sonic riffles and stand a good 10 feet each. These soldiers have submitted for formal brain-washing/conditioning to be trusted to high-ranking positions. Ascendants can not be converted into spies by Requiem or through psychic conditioning of the Vampyr, so altered are their brains at that point. Ascendants live to serve The Center. Relatively few soldiers make it through the ranks to be offered Ascendant training to cap off their careers, so The Center only keeps them in high-security areas. The armor of Ascendant is treated to resist all forms of energy and their frames are so hardy they can run for hours at a time in full armor without feeling fatigue. The Ascendants' sonic riffles tear apart anything they are pointed at, able to turn even men-of-steel into men-of-jelly.
- The Center is said to be a mutant, some say he is a powerful psychic, others say he has utterly benign mutant properties and is an unremarkable man who just got lucky. As the Center has never once fought and relies solely on his troops it was left ambiguous which account was true. - A Late game Personal (solo P.o.V. perspective) Mission, confirms The Center does in-fact have minor psionic powers, namely he can ease the minds of others so even complete strangers feel open and comfortable conversing with him. These powers can not actually control the minds of others, just, put them at ease enough to hear him out and make them more likely to co-operate with him.
- The Council was made to replace 5th Column by the dev team after use of a Nazi organization saw the game banned from being sold in Germany. The replacement of all troops and previous Nazi background was swept away so the game could be sold around the world. The dev team decided to make such a change part of the cannon story and the marketing of the situation soon saw on the 5th Column being over-run by The Council.
- Due to change in international laws, the 5th Column would be slowly integrated back into the game, but with The Council firmly remaining in-charge and only needing to endure attacks from 5th Column mobs.
- If the player clears a mob of The Council, when the area re-spawns enemies, the same spot will be made up of 5th Column instead, and by the same token if a 5th Column mob is cleared out, The Council will reassert in the area.
- During it's live run, the game devs insisted the 5th Column did not have any spawn locations in the Rogue Isles as Nazism conflicts with true Darwinism (individuals being defined by their capabilities, not social stigmas - like race) and thus Lord Recluse would have made the entire island chain a death zone for 5th Column.
- The Center often simply reads his paper behind re-enforced glass while he waits for his men to destroy intruding heroes.