From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
Fox Masters is a role-playing character first created in 2004. Due to his creation long before the release of Going Rogue, he has multiple in-game incarnations that were created to show his freedom of movement between Paragon City and the Rogue Isles. He currently exists as an Assault Rifle/Energy Manipulation Blaster, Claws/Regeneration Scrapper, Mercenaries/Traps Mastermind, Dual Blades/Electric Armor Brute, Martial Arts/Willpower Scrapper, Ninja Blade/Ninjitsu Stalker, Soldier of Arachnos, and Dual Pistols/Energy Manipulation Blaster.
|Player: @ghost of malta|
|Known Aliases:||Ghost Hawk Six, Eclipse Black Nine, et al.|
|Occupation:||Malta Group "Elite"|
|Place of Birth:||Unknown|
|Base of Operations:||Unknown|
Fox's personality varies based on who it is he's interacting with. Upon his release into Paragon City several years ago, he was easily distracted and unable to maintain functional conversation with others. In recent times, a relative norm seems to have been established in his interactions with both superheroes and villains. Always calm and collected, Fox is a steadfast and reliable soldier whose allegiances lie in the right places (even if his moral compass isn't in line with everyone else's) and a cold, aloof operative who never hesitates when it comes to eliminating the opposition.
Given the strain of recent events, he has come to regard his own situation with a certain jaded, dry sense of humor. Despite this, social interactions are far different between those he considers friends, foes, or neutral parties. Note that his disposition does not seem to change considerably when moving between Paragon City and the Rogue Isles; ‘Hero’ and ‘Villain’ don’t quite mean to Fox what they mean to others.
Created from enhanced genetic material taken from the superhero Alan Marsh, the majority of Fox's short life has been devoted to the neutralization and elimination of super powered beings. Despite his lack of actual superpowers, he is superhuman by way of his genetic and cybernetic augments.
Due to his training as a Malta Group Special Qualifications Marksman, Fox is an expert in the use of almost all world small arms and heavy weapons, including esoteric technological devices and Rikti plasma weaponry. An urban operations specialist, his skill with handguns and assault rifles exceeds the human scale. Although a fully kitted out battle rifle is his favorite form of weaponry to take into a fight, he is (like most Gunslingers) most often seen using handguns in the field due to their (relative) ease of concealment and suppression for operations in urban environments.
He is also well versed in infiltration, interrogation, and demolitions work, and has had some training in other types of wetwork that center around subverting, brainwashing, or otherwise coercing metahuman targets.
He is trained in Power Martial Arts, a fighting style developed by a Malta Group unarmed combat specialist to work in tandem with Crey Industries’ Avenger nanites (see below). Designed specifically to combat metahuman threats, it combines the all-out offensive ideal of Israeli Krav Maga and the brutal, hard-hitting approach of Shotokan Karate. Intended to overwhelm and incapacitate the opposition through unrelenting force, Power Martial Arts places great emphasis on powerful, bone-crushing strikes and attacks directed at vulnerable points of the body such as the head and abdomen.
He has been developing his skills in swordsmanship while on detachment in Paragon as well as in the Rogue Isles. Being well accomplished in unarmed combat, the transition has been quite easy for him. Similarly, while in Paragon City, he has been known to discard all weaponry and cybernetic enhancement and has taken up the practice of Shaolin gung fu to further hone his abilities.
Frequently switched on and off or entirely out of his body, Fox's cybernetic alterations include an enhanced imaging suite implanted in his striate cortex that allows him to track targets and identify familiar objects. A microcomputer has been implanted elsewhere in his brain to handle this information, and much of it is processed on his 'biowatch' - a complex array of bioluminescent dyes set up to form a display on his left forearm when activated.
During a firefight, he can choose to load up a visible HUD that keeps him informed of his vital status, tracks his weapon’s need for maintenance and ammunition stores [only on Smartlink-equipped weaponry such as his Retributer handguns], and can also be tasked to provide blueprint maps for reference, if he’s been provided with them.
He is additionally equipped with a Ghost Hawk programmed reflex suite; a set of neural programs which provide subconscious compulsion to perform actions in response to a certain set of stimuli. For instance, he will unconsciously draw his weapon when faced with a visible threat, automatically adjust his bearing to the direction of a surprise attack, and reload magazine-fed firearms without error (so as to avoid embarrassing and potentially fatal fumbles).
Fox’s body often carries a supply of Crey Industries Micter-9 nanites, which enhance his vital functions and greatly improve his natural healing. In situations where he can expect to encounter metahuman resistance, he also employs a set of Avenger nanites. These gather and amplify latent electromagnetic energy in his body and surrounding environment, detonating them in non-visible bursts of quantum energy around his hands.
In an interesting and recent development, the application of his complete focus in making an attack seems to invert part of the quantum signature of the energy, giving it a negative energy side-effect. Despite its non-visible effects, the result of these machines is similar enough to many heroes and villains' "Energy Melee" powers that it can be classified as such. Both series of nanites are controlled by Fox's microcomputer.
As of late, Fox has been seen testing out what he refers to as Adversary nanites, supposedly developed for use with the Echelon’s Arclight project Marines. Based on highly esoteric mass-less conductor technology developed in coordination with Crey Industries, the Adversary nanites provide a way to safely channel hundreds of thousands of volts of electricity through an organic human body. This means that, while fielding them, his cybernetic enhancements are temporarily removed or disconnected. The active electric field generated by the machines has both defensive and offensive capabilities, although they have proved somewhat unstable in the past.
Generated from a body blank infused with DNA from the genetic template of hero Alan Marsh, Fox is by nature stronger, faster, and more durable than a normal human being. However, additional genetic modification has further increased his potential: he has several redundant internal organs in order to reduce the likelihood of his dying from an unlucky injury, including specialized organs that allow him to breathe toxic air and filter poisons out of his bloodstream in a matter of seconds.
His skeleton has been infused with ceramic composites for structural reinforcement and bears a few pragmatic alterations; for instance, his ribcage has been fused into armor-like plates of solid bone for greater protection. In coordination with enhanced muscular growth treatment, this skeletal fortification allows Fox an impressive 1,200-pound dead lift and 1,000 pound extreme load/throwing capacity, although such a degree of physical performance inevitably causes severe damage to his muscles that can only be repaired by intensive surgery.
Almost entirely dependent on technology to make his work possible, Fox employs all manner of firearms, explosives, and high-tech gadgetry; his unique position within the Malta Group allows him access to the very best equipment. Despite this, he prefers to pack light. Some of the more notable devices he utilizes in the field are a Phased-Array Jump Device (teleport pack), a Phototropic Scrambler (cloaking device), and a piece of advanced equipment that some have come to call the 'Pocket Sapper.'
He makes exceptional use of his signature, custom-built Retributer .50 caliber handguns. Tailor-made to his exact specifications, these weapons were built from the ground up with a Smartlink system and designed to employ the Malta Group’s full range of advanced munitions: everything from the prototype Snakebite Microbial Munition – which delivers a payload of voracious super-bacteria capable of eating through tank armor (also, incidentally, quite effective on biological targets) – to the Inferno and Coldshok rounds commonly employed by Malta Gunslingers around the world.
For most standard operations, however, Fox finds that all manner of readily available commercial and military firearms suffice, from pistols and submachine guns to high-powered sniper rifles to the occasional heavy machine gun or rocket launcher. It is also comparatively quite easy to secure ammunition and parts for them.
He owns a pair of matched, Impervium-forged katana, gifted to him by the Vanguard for his service in the Rikti War Zone.
Weaknesses and limitations
Being only a few steps above human, Fox has a number of vulnerabilities:
- By way of genetic manipulation, Fox is inexorably loyal to the Malta Group – more specifically, to the Echelon. Though service to the Group is not in his every word and action and he does have substantial free will, it remains a vital institution to his psychological well-being. A similar analogy can be seen in some individuals' outlook on their chosen god or religion.
- Fox is deeply discouraged from rebelling against Group interests. As much as he might like to, it remains unfeasible: were he to claim independence, the Echelon would merely hunt him down, terminate him, and generate a new copy with his updated para-personality template. Whether this has happened in the past – or how many times – is unknown at this time.
- Despite his numerous augmentations he is not even remotely close to invulnerable. Though his genetic modifications focus on preventing his death from unlucky injuries [stray bullets, etc.] such sundry sources of injury as massed gunfire or a super-strength driven fist can and will still incapacitate or kill him. Even with their reinforcements, his bones will still break under sufficient force. He must also contest with blood loss and infection when the potential for their occurrence exists.
- In addition to the above weakness, his genetic enhancements make surgery conducted on his body extremely difficult for traditionally trained doctors, due to the arrangement and complexity of his redundant organs. Though his bones require tremendous force to break, their level of hardness presents another potential threat: in the event of a major fracture, the potential exists for ceramic-infused chips and fragments of bone to tear through vital tissues and/or cause aggravated internal bleeding.
- Although he is shielded from psychic screening, Fox has no resistance against actual psi-based attacks. Recently he has cultivated a method of gathering enough mental fortitude to resist the effects of psychic attacks [Elusive Mind], but it is only so effective and extremely difficult to bring up to a sufficient level. A heavy blow to the head will still knock him unconscious, and acute trauma such as a bullet entering his skull will likely kill him outright.
- Fox has no magical aptitude to speak of. He can neither sense nor manipulate magical energy in any capacity.
- Fox’s knowledge of pop culture is virtually nil; he ends up looking a lot of things up on Wikipedia. Additionally, his ability to comprehend and adjust to modern society is exceedingly limited, intentionally moderated by the Echelon to reduce the already-slim chance of his defection from the Malta Group.
Fox Group: Toy Soldiers and Lab Rats
Before he even had a name, Fox was another man, bearing the operational codename Black Fox Tango. He was a member of the super-elite Fox Group Next-Generation Special Forces team created by the Malta Group to fight supernatural crime and further infiltrate metahuman society. The Fox Group, however, was disbanded in less than one year after stability problems arose and subjects began to break away from the group, disappearing into the city and hiding among heroes. Those who the Malta could still put a finger on were hunted through the streets of Paragon by a battalion-sized element of Malta Tac Ops soldiers, with no understanding as to why they were being marked for termination.
In a desperate search for deliverance from their complicated and dangerous state, the few remaining Fox Group operatives made a chilling discovery: each of the twenty-six operatives, along with the women of the Knives of Artemis who were supposedly attached to the team on advisory duty, were in fact former superheroes. Subdued by the Malta Group, they were stripped of their powers by a chemical agent fashioned after the unique mutations of a 1970s hero named Silent Echo. Physically and mentally altered by the Malta Group, Fox Group was the culmination of decades of research and a tenuous alliance between the Malta and Crey Industries.
Embittered, beleaguered, and hunted like beasts, the Fox Group operatives spent several months executing strategic strikes on Malta facilities having anything to do with their creation. On one such raid, Operative Tango recovered some interesting documents in a mainframe computer. After translating their encrypted contents, he made a terrifying discovery: now, several months after the official dissolution of Fox Group and the death or termination of ninety percent of its membership, reams of data had been compiled and the resultant information was being put toward the creation of a new, improved army of Malta-made metahuman warriors. The creation, deployment, and termination of the Fox Group had all been part of one huge, overarching, conspiratorial experiment, and he and his late comrades nothing but stepping stones on the way to something greater.
After spending the next month unsuccessfully trying to pinpoint the location of the facility where hundreds of body blanks, genetic profiles, and para-personality templates were being stored in anticipation of creating the Malta’s first batch of super soldiers, Operative Tango received an unexpected transmission from a mysterious informant who referred to himself only as “Admiral Sand.” The transmission contained the coordinates for exactly the facility Operative Tango was looking for, nestled underneath the rock of a small island off the coast of Maine. After infiltrating it, Tango successfully detonated a man-portable tactical nuclear weapon in the facility to prevent the project from ever becoming reality. In order to ensure that the warhead went off, he manually detonated the device and so was terminated in the ensuing nuclear blast.
The Fox, the Echelon, and Paragon City
The next memories that Fox has are of being strapped to a table in a sterile white laboratory with three men standing at his side. He would later learn that these three men were of the seventeen Directors of the Malta Group. One of them was the mysterious “Admiral Sand” who had helped him find and destroy the facility where the Maltas’ new super soldiers were to be built.
Then referred to as ‘Soldier One’, the clone of the late Black Fox Tango was informed of his former self’s sacrifice and how his genes and personality alone had been salvaged from the now-obliterated project’s holdings. He was created – his genetic profile improved, his para-personality stabilized, and multiple augments applied to him – to serve as champion to a group known as the Echelon. Formed from the remnants of the Malta Group’s “old guard” after the schism that occurred after Director Roger Vrabel’s death in 1982, the Echelon continues to diminish in size, clinging desperately to the Group’s original modus operandi: fighting for freedom and democracy by any means necessary. The Echelon is finding it increasingly difficult to sway new recruits to its cause.
Although his para-personality encompassed vast combat experience and other such skills useful to his new career, Soldier One’s training was not complete and his instincts not sharp enough to keep him alive on the job. So, under secret orders from the Echelon, he was entered into Special Qualifications Marksman training. After passing each course with flying colors, he graduated to the ranks of the Ghost Hawk Elites, an informal team handle given to the world's top Gunslingers.
Specializing in an interesting combination of infiltration and devastating assault tactics, the newly minted "Ghost Hawk Six" was assigned a handler named Fiona Taylor [codename “Juneau”] and given his first cover identity and operational sector. As Fox Masters, a recently orphaned Maltese millionaire playboy looking to make a name for himself in the American vigilante hero business, he infiltrated and observed the ranks of heroes operating in Paragon City and relayed that information not only to the Malta Group’s Paragon City Sector Command Hub, but also to the Echelon so that attempts on valued metahumans’ lives by the radical majority of the Group might be routed, and those who proved to be beyond any help safely and discreetly terminated.
As far as Soldier One was aware, he did not exist past having a physical body; he had no birth record, no fingerprints on file, no criminal record, and, ironically, made the very model of the ‘perfect soldier’ that the Fox Project sought to create. Subconsciously compelled by his para-personality to be loyal to the Echelon, he followed their commands to the letter and without hesitation or question – a “quality” that Fox still bears to this very day.
After enough time, continued use of his operational cover identity and the growth and development of his own personality prompted Soldier One to take the name of Fox Masters for his own. His face became the face of Fox Masters and his voice the voice of Fox Masters. The lies of the two men came to coincide, and because of it his entire world revolved around the business he had done through Fox's image. Playing along with this fascinating display of transhuman psychology, Admiral Sand, Juneau, and others involved in his work with the Malta Group came to refer to him by this name as well, and the name ‘Soldier One’ faded into the background of history.
Operation World Wide Red and the Rogue Isles
Now referred to firmly as ‘Fox’ by everyone around him, the Malta soldier spent months in Paragon City, simultaneously keeping its streets and its heroes safe from grievous harm – and delivering it when it was suitable to the Echelon’s purposes. However, a month before his first year of operation in Paragon, his work would take on an interesting twist that would lead him on the long chain of events that ended him up where he is today.
His on-again off-again love interest in Paragon City, Portia Petersen AKA Ms. Permafrost, had single-handedly crushed a substantial portion of a major black operation against Group interests headed by apostate Operatives. Through Fox’s close relationship to her – and, without a doubt, some prompting by the Echelon – she put him on the trail of former CIA director Jack Firenze, the Malta Group's 17th Director, who turned out to be behind the entire scheme. Dispatched by the Echelon in the nick of time, Fox and Ms. Permafrost were able to successfully fight their way through to Firenze and defeat him before his plan could come to fruition.
Of course, this wild goose chase into the internal workings of the Malta Group came with resounding consequences for Fox; the proverbial cat was out of the bag and word of this vat-grown Malta Group operative’s exploits spread quickly, sowing fear and distrust throughout the ranks. Metahuman or not, he was determined to be too great an investment to terminate without some consideration. A ruling led by twelve of the sixteen remaining Directors declared Fox a liability to the Group, and as such, in accordance with a completely unexpected promotion to the rank of Field Commander, he was assigned to head the Rogue Isles forward operation. Interestingly, this was a command position under which the previous operations over the last forty years had been compromised and obliterated to the last man.
Despite his displeasure at being handed such a dire task, Fox - now granted the unique call sign of Eclipse Black Nine – suffered no diminution in his desire to serve Group interests and so took up the mantle without a fuss. Disconnected from the usual support lines that other field commanders around the globe enjoy, he was forced to fortify his operation by any means possible while at the same time gathering as much intelligence as he can on the intricacies of the Rogue Isles and the inner workings of Arachnos. The contingent of Malta Operatives both loyal and rogue, and the array of metahuman assets that he commanded became the staple of his existence, and it was here that Fox learned the value of his humanity in creating close-knit friendships that helped both him and those around him to survive.
Operation Echo Fire: Along Came a Fox
Just when he thought things were starting to go well, Fox was once again plucked up from his newfound position of comfort and set on the trail of a new group of apostate Operatives. Researchers working under the authority of Nightmare Azure 1-9-1 - AKA Alexander Noland Harris, AKA Director 11 of the Malta Group, and the very pioneer of the sinister, decades-long cover operation that created Fox Group and all of its derivative black projects – had finally perfected the anti-metahuman virus first utilized in the Fox Group’s creation.
Codenamed Silence after the superhero it was originally extracted from, the counteragent was experimentally dispersed as a viral cloud that blanketed most of West Africa, wreaking utter havoc as all of the region’s super powered beings (the only thing keeping any semblance of order in the region) suddenly found their abilities nullified. Using the havoc as a distraction, Harris took several battalions of loyal Tactical Operations soldiers – along with tanks, Titan cyborg units, and aircraft – and seized control of Attavia Island, a hidden Council base in the northern Atlantic which allegedly held a stockpile of intercontinental ballistic missiles. Aiming them at major metropolitan areas in the U.S. Eastern seaboard, the world held its breath as his hackers in the GlobalOps network hijacked every news network around the world to broadcast his dark manifesto:
Harris’ view was an extreme version of the stereotypical Malta Group philosophy: that super humans and humans could never coexist peacefully. In his world view, any balance reached between the two would inevitably devolve into a power struggle that could only end with one side on top and the other extinct or enslaved. However, since superhumans were technically the aberration in the equation (and much more difficult for regular humans to control) he wanted to expose the world en masse to the Silence counteragent, its superhumans forced to live out their existence as baselines, no greater or lesser than regular humans. Those who resisted would be killed, forced into slavery under the new regime, or put into labor colonies around the world.
Thanks to the reluctant efforts of Fox Masters and several superpowered companions (including the superhero Xanatos) who smuggled themselves along on his operation, the potential global disaster was defused right under Director Harris’ nose. Afterward, Fox confronted him personally and bested him in personal combat, but not before Harris could release the activation code for several Kronos Titans he had surreptitiously hidden in the installation. Their missile pods packed with Silence-filled virus bombs, the Kronos flew across the Atlantic divide to Rhode Island and fired their toxic payload over Paragon City before touching down in zones around the city and wreaking havoc, barely challenged by the now powerless metahuman population.
Immediately dispatched to Paragon City to try and stop the Titan, Fox lost track of Director Harris and the apostate Malta agent was able to make his escape. In Paragon, Fox and his companions gathered up a small contingent of heroes whose powers had survived the biological attack and finally disabled the Titans one by one, the last in the devastated King’s Row district, effectively saving the day.
The media cover-up that followed was enormous, unlike anything the Malta Group had ever had to accomplish before. Fortunately, Director Harris had not made any reference to the Group or his involvement with them, so covering the news broadcast and global threat proved easy enough. As for the Kronos Titans and the Silence virus, an unprecedented number of Malta cleanup crews were sent into Paragon City to extract the destroyed war machines in the confusion and chaos, and teams of Malta Operatives posing as CDC agents administered countless doses of retroviral agents to reverse the effects of the Silence virus on the metahumans of Paragon City. Being as they were dispatched from Attavia Isle, the Kronos titans were mislabeled as Council creations and a heroic crusade against the Council base was launched from Paragon, only to find it empty.
As for Fox, he simply slipped away in the confusion of everything that had happened, going on to ply his unsung heroics another day.
Rikti Invasion: No Rest for the Wicked
With the onset of the New Rikti War and the emergence of Vanguard under the provision of the United Nations, the Echelon insinuated Fox as a nebulous 'outside consultant' to Vanguard’s leadership. He met with and advised the heads of important organizations involved with the war effort, while at the same time keeping their eyes off the efforts of Malta Group operatives in the region.
This, of course, meant that he had to put up with Vanguard, Longbow, fancy parties, and a broad assortment of heroes and villains – all the while smiling and remaining courteous, as the job demanded of him. He also performed occasional 'cleanup' duty for those occasions on which Malta Group operatives fell victim to Rikti psychic manipulations or were compromised by Vanguard or Longbow operatives and had to be eliminated.
This duty lasted for approximately one year before he was withdrawn. His resignation was honored with a lengthy commendation ceremony with Lady Grey and several members of the Freedom Phalanx (excepting Statesman himself) in attendance.
Without any engagements or outstanding responsibilities, Fox made the most of his Consultant status. While he still spent most of his time in and about Paragon City and the Rogue Isles, Paragon City has since been transferred to another operational division and the Rogue Isles forward operation is being run by remote from the GlobalOps installation in Israel. With the insertion of Inquisitorial forces in the Rogue Isles op – and their subsequent defection – it would have been no small wonder if the two forces had come into conflict, but such was not the case and no sign of the renegade Inquisitors has been detected since their departure.
[To Be Continued...]
- Fox's trademark facial scars were dealt by the heroine Mynx when he briefly imprisoned her in his Rogue Isles base for interrogation.
- Fox is not a terribly original character; rather he is the culmination of pretty much every sci-fi game, novel, and system his player I've thought was cool over the years. Drawing elements from the Metal Gear Solid series of video games, James Bond films, Phillip K. Dick novels, and more conventional games such as Biohazard Gaming's "Blue Planet" and Games Workshop's "Warhammer 40,000," he is the fusion of ideals and technologies adapted from those influences.
- Fox Hunt Video – An outdated video based on the [now retconned and updated] story arc detailed in “Operation Echo Fire: Along Came a Fox.”
- WH40k: Space Marine Gene-seed - The final influence that gave Fox's genetic augments substantial form. He has modifications generally equivalent to the Secondary Heart, Osmudula, Biscopea, Haemastamen, Catalepsean Node, Preomnor, Multi-lung, Occulobe, and Oolitic Kidney.
- Metal Gear Solid - the original influence for Guyver Scott [the main character of a short-lived novel I attempted to write some years ago] who would eventually go on to become the template for Fox Masters. In retrospect, the Fox Hunt video linked above shows definite similarities to the story of MGS.
- Metal Gear Solid 2 - Further influence for Fox. Primarily linked because I won a spot in the 'Get your name in MGS2: Substance' contest. On the Extreme difficulty Tanker map, there is a soldier bearing the dogtag of 'Guyver M. Scott' [the fellow mentioned just above].