When logic and proportion have fallen softly dead
And the White Knight is talking backwards
And the Red Queen's off with her head
Remember what the dormouse said
"Feed your head, feed your head"
- - Jefferson Airplane, White Rabbit
The Network is a faction created by the Red Star Rising with surprisingly enthusiastic help from the community to create a faction based on conspiracy theories. Or more correctly, conspiracy theorists, quack scientists, lunatic fringers, doomsday preppers, and other elements of society considered amusingly crazy. Essentially giving an arsenal to the nutjobs you always see featured on the history channel spouting off nonsense about aliens making the Pyramids. Only, they're not completely off their rockers. While universally bad at direct combat for their cost, the benefits they can give with their intelligence gathering ability, debuff capacity, and stealth detection can't be under-estimated.
The Wingbats take flight
"They call us crazy. The lunatics who saw ghosts in every shadow. For years they pushed us to the fringes of social circles, the mocked us for seeing truth! But now it's the dawn of a new era, and finally, we truthers of the world can unite!. The government UFOs, Satanic robomen, MK-ULTRA, Hapsburg puppeteers, Romulan cults in Africa, Soviet bombs in China, crabmen controlling Mexico, we know all! And now, we will reveal all!"
- - Encrypted message decoded by CBURA from shortwave radio frequency 1605 HZ by unknown sender. Message bears similarity to previous messages sent by shortwave call sign "thirdeye".
Conspiracy theorists have existed in some form or another since there have been things to rampantly speculate about. However, in this age, there are many strange going ons. Even discounting the super-normal factions such as the Imilki Ecumene, the Atomic Chinese, and the Protectorate which draw so much of the current speculation by these conspiracy theorists, there is much strange. The Talon and the Black Hand operate in the shadows. The Unionists, Syndicate, India, and Combine all have something terrifying to hide beneath their facade. Africa, the Japan, and the allies utilize science in strange ways. The Soviets dominate the lanes of space far above the earth and the Contingent hangs in the upper atmosphere. Japan wields incredible science and the power of the mind. And this is just scratching the surface. It's quite an interesting age.
And it is also an age where communities that once would have been separated by distance are now just a phone call away, or even just a few keystrokes should you have access to the Syndicate's interwebs. While groups of conspiracy theorists have been drawing closer together for quite some time as the twentieth century rolls through it's final third, it was the emergence of a mysterious figure known as the third eye who helped catalyze their union as the ranks of those willing to believe what they had to say swelled due to the increasing number of people exposed to the strangest elements of the world and beyond.
The Third Eye, named for the Third Eye's belief that we have three eyes, two that simply see the world at face value, and a metaphorical third one that peers beyond what meets the eye to see the truth, was a highly charismatic figure that took every step to hide his or her identity, a step many of the groups he or she was appealing to empathized with. Clad in a baggy jacket, ballistic armor that made determing gender by looking at the chest impossible, pants that helped confound attempts to identify him or her by their figure, gloves, a ski-mask, sunglasses, and a helmet and always speaking through a voice modulator to attest to the Third Eye's constant paranoia regarding the world at large, and was also probably the reason why the Third Eye preferred to speak in heavily air conditioned rooms.
The Third Eye started drawing these groups together, stating a need for those who had an idea of the truth to come as one so that they could stand strong and united to not just survive, but perhaps take the power back for the people and stop the Shadow Cabals/Government/Supranational Bodies/Megacorporations/Mole Men/Robots/Secret Chinese Clones/Aliens/Extradimensional Gribblies/Occultist conspiracy/Atlanteans/Your Neighbor's talking dog one day. The word was spread, and soon, the groups starting coming together, rallying under a new organization called "The Network" as no one could agree on a more fanciful name.
The Network would be something between a confederation and an alliance of various conspiracy theorist groups, loosely bound together, but always ready to come together and support one another. The Third Eye, surprisingly did not assume any great deal of power, preferring to remain an idealogical leader rather than a political one and allow for open forums to try and figure out plans. The Network soon had stations across much of the world, but it would be in the United States where their greatest concentration of strength could be found.
Arming the uprising
"It takes a dedicated kind of blindness for one to see the terrible events of recent history, and not think that they are connected. To think that the scorpion graffiti on the burnt shells of torched buildings is mere coincidence, to believe that Unionist activity in New Jersey is a mere social experiment, and to hope that our governments hold nothing from us, is to prove oneself fully under the control of these shadowy anti-mankind conspiracies."
- - Introduction of a Network propaganda video, titled "If Ignorance was a Drug..."
The Third Eye soon decided to hold an open forum to determine how the Network should proceed from here, and after substantial bickering the Network came to the conclusion that if they were to have success they'd need to become more than just a bunch of clubhouses and cliques that meet together, but an actual armed force capable of seeking the truth and perhaps even fighting the many enemies they perceived. This new organization would need teeth, and so the process of finding them began.
The most important part of the job, of course, was in finding proof of the conspiracies or the super-normal. Here, the UFO watchers, Cryptid finders, and Ghost chasers would prove to be of immense help in getting the sensor equipment needed for part of the job. Turning their tools for tracking down their selected obsession to the benefit of the rest of the Network and pooling their efforts, they created surprisingly sophisticated technology that allowed them greater ability to chase after the shadowy foes that had to be around the corner.
For the other half of intelligence gathering, many "investigators" largely ridiculed by the community at large and amateur historians who spent much of their lives searching for the patterns that would expose truly ancient conspiracies or the absolutely real and not at all delusional proof that the currently accepted version of history was the product of byzantine revisionism on a truly epic scale, would provide for the more human factor of intelligence.
For weaponry and defenses, survivalists and militias deemed too "out there" for those with more down to earth objections to the powers that be, who prepared for sure to come apocalypses or to defend themselves from the Government/Any supernational body of your choosing/corporations/more super-normal threats and stockpiled enormous amounts of weapons, armor, kit, and knowledge of how to make fortifications would help provide for the Network as well as some actual training for the largely civilian organization, though they of course kept the choicest weapons for themselves.
For vehicles, research, and construction, would be inventors, scientists, and engineers who believed that the powers that be were silencing a technological revolution that could change the world for the better just to keep on making a profit were deemed to be best for the job. They would either scratch build what the Network needed on these fronts or convert already existing assets to be more suited for battle. While not a serious match for genuine military hardware, it was still seen as a vital step towards taking the power back for the common man.
Finally, an elite core of combatants was made out of former soldiers who had actually had encounters with the super-normal and were discharged for myriad reasons. These were the men and women who had actually fought against the shadowy enemies the Network saw all around them and lived and could offer actual experience in the field of combat and first hand accounts of the enemies that hid from the limelight. These would get the best equipment the Network could scrape together for them. These would be called the Conduit, for they lay the pathway to the truth.
Demons laugh when a crazy man goes to war
"A group of paranoid nutjobs joined up with the Confederates. So what? I think they're reliable nutjobs. After all, where else can you go to find skeletons in the Allies' closet?"
- - Dennis Hoffhassle, responding to Confederates sick of the Network's endless prattling about the "worldwide conspiracies".
While the Network was forming, the Confederate Revolution was also picking up steam in the United States, opposed by both the Unionists and the Allies and manipulated by many other factions. The Network's obvious misgivings about the Unionists and the mistrust many had for the allies effectively forced the Network to the Confederate camp. It was decided that while there were many, many parts of the Confederates the Network had major concerns with (and a belief by many that the Confederates are an astroturf rather than a grassroots movement), they were the better choice than the Unionists whom the Network had increasing evidence about the sinister actions of.
As such, when Confederate forces moved against an Allied-Unionist base, the Confederates were surprised by a Network transmission giving the Confederates every weak point they knew about in the base, and then further surprised them by offering their armed forces to assist the Confederates against the Unionists and Allies, leading to a resounding confederate victory. Afterwards though, it seemed that the Confederates couldn't personally stand to be around the Networkers, finding their constant prattle about space invaders, men in black, doomsday robots, and cults to be insufferable.
This lead to the Unionists proclaiming the Network to be a criminal organization and placing an order for a manhunt against the Third Eye, only for even the FBI to be unable to tell the Unionists anything more than that the Third Eye is probably from the Continents of North America or Europe. So the rather uneasy alliance between the two was formed, leading to the Confederates growing to be rather used to relying on intelligence reports from the Network since while it's nearly always given a heavy flavoring of nonsense and fruitcake, it tends to be highly accurate once you filter it enough.
Militarily though, the Network was never the match of the Confederates as the latter had already taken up most of the heavy equipment and the Network, while certainly wealthy enough due to it generally being peopled by affluent but eccentric folk with too much time on it's hand, to buy hardware, always had to thoroughly inspect anything they purchased for any "bugs" or tampering by the "man". Not to mention that the Network was mostly made of civilians while the Confederacy could rely on a substantial number of trained soldiers. Indeed, just about any faction with any real significance that could take arms was bound to beat the Network in a fight with equivalent numbers.
As word got out about the Network's extensive knowledge and ability to acquire it, informants were swiftly planted into the organization. The KGB, CBURA, SPIDER, CIA, ACIN, the FBI, and more all have some people to try and sift through the layer upon layer of brain hurtingly convoluted conspiracy theories to find actionable intelligence, and their services could often be hired out if one was willing to accept the risk of them using this chance to get even more dirt on their hirer.
Due to it's goal of not only finding out the dark sides of the factions that are out there in the open, but bringing to light the powers that hide in the shadows, the Network operates around the world in fact-finding, espionage, sensor sweep, and infiltration missions with perhaps a dash of sabotage and covert ops if the clique feels brave enough. After all, the truth can't be found solely in America, and if the war to free the human race from it's veiled overlords was to be won, they had to go and confront it directly.
They can be found roaming through the wastes of China trying to figure out the weaknesses in the Chinese war machine, some try trekking through Russia to get dirt on Davidova's regime, others operate in western Europe in the heart of the allied nations, others go into the Combine territories to find what lies in the jungle, some venture into Palestine and Yugoslavia to find more about the Cult and Order, others delve into the remote locales where the most reports of killer robots come from, some try Japan to find out more about the psychic phenomenon or proof that Japan is plotting to take over the world, some chase UFOs all around the world, and still others can be found in Oceania and SEA, to get the scoop on the many, many factions there, and much, much more.
Those factions curious about the super-normal factions of the world also tried to get more information from the Network. Whether it's more knowledge on the Cult, Talon, Protectorate, Ecumene, Chinese, or what have you, they tend to be a good if annoying source. The Network's equipment comes mostly from it's allies in the Phoenix Front (which has made quite a killing off of a bunch of cash loaded suburbanites just learning how to go to war), the Confederacy, and International Inc.
Armed Seekers of Truth
"You think you can keep the truth down, huh you field grey wearing sons of bitches? You can't keep the truth confined with your endless red tape or green belts. You won't force us, and you're gonna stop degrading us! You and every other puppeteering shadow cabalist is going to learn that you can't hide anymore." - Unknown contributor to the "True Truth" AURA thread.
The most basic unit in the ad hoc army of the Network, the Cryptid Chaser utilizes his technology built to hunt after the likes of the Loch Ness Monster or Big Foot to help the cause of the Network. The Cryptid Chaser can detect stealthed units and has a substantial line of sight, but is only armed with a hunting rifle he's not particularly skilled with and armored in a cheap ballistic vest and a metal helmet that may actually be his mother's bowl. The Cryptid chaser can also reveal an area of the map within a certain range for as long as they stand still with their sophisticated telescopes.
Carrying some of the best civilian surveillance gear in the world, ghost hunters working with the Network consider themselves the best and finding the things that most people can't see. Though they aren't armed, they do go into battle able to stop enemy infiltrators and stealthed units from getting too close for comfort, along with creating static listening posts on the field to observe the enemy.
The UFO hunter is important to the Network's obsession with the various things that occupy the skies that have yet to be identified to the mainstream media. Not only does the UFO hunter have a large line of sight and stealth busting tech, but can also deploy a special hidden sensor that can watch over the area while they're away. The UFO chaser has access to Flak Cannons offered by the Soviet UNion, though as they're not quite as burly as Flak Troopers they can only fire them while standing stock still so they can assume a comfortable (tripod supported) firing position.
The Survivalists are as the name implies, those dedicated to the art of surviving against the harsh outside world filled with enemies surrounding them. As such they carry heavy (by the Network's standards) firepower, bringing in an old MG-42 known for it's high rate of fire to make up for their problems of accuracy and mediocre caliber. The Survivalists can put down special two man fox holes with their experience in setting up home-made fortifications to help someone wait out the storm.
Monster Hunters are convinced that there are things out there that are going to get people that no ordinary gun is going to handle. As such, they make home-made rockets and launchers for them. As these are home-made by people with a previously only academic interest in explosives, they are substantially inferior to nearly any other anti-armor troops, but they're what you have to work with. On the flipside, the home-made nature of their launchers means that they can enter a camouflaged mode where they stand still, hide themselves, and bring out their binoculars to greatly extend their line of sight.
The Network's best private investigators have a notorious reputation of being able to get into places even professional intelligence agencies have problems with. The Private Eye, while only armed with a pair of pistols and some concealable armor, is very, very good at interrogation. Not only can a private eye infiltrate just like any other spy can, and blend in via rigorously practiced stealth techniques, but they can also get close to an enemy infantry man, manhandle them, and then get what they know out of them in record time, temporarily revealing everything the enemy knows about the battlefield.
Coming from the Survivalists, the Conspiracy Buster adds the all important capacity of sniping to the Network, taking people down from hundreds of feet away with impunity. Or they would had they not been using ancient hand me downs from their allies, only ever shot at targets who were completely still, or were used by people who had rarely left the comfort of a middle class life. Inaccurate and lowly damaging by Sniper standards, the Conspiracy buster has a special trick up his sleeve where he fires a tranquilizer dart that does not reveal his position at the cost of only stunning rather than killing an enemy.
Essentially an improvised fighting vehicle by any other name with a whole lot of sensor equipment and armor plating added on, these vehicles may only mount a paltry set of twin-linked MG-42s that does not at all provide enough punch to justify it's expense if used as a frontline combat unit, but the view they grant is unparalleled, and their ability to foil stealth is also quite useful. The Storm Pursuer can if threatened, "batten down the hatches" and take more hits at the expense of not being able to fire as the vehicle closes itself entirely.
Actually more of a van, the battle bus is the transport of the Network, with extensive armoring slapped on to protect the four passengers inside. While it does possess fireports and is decently tough, the main advantage of the Battle Bus is that it it can pass as a normal vehicle as the armor plates were put on the inside of the vehicle's chassis skin, effectively cloaking it and allowing it to use it's stealth-busting sensors unmolested by fire.
The very rough equivalent of a battle tank, the Truth Seekers were made when the Network bought some Jackson copies of dubious legalities from "Jason's armoured vehicles". Expecting that they would use the simple metal boxes as APCs, they were surprised to find the Network's enthusiastic engineers scraping together some old cannons, a turret mechanism, up-armoring, and a new engine to create a wannabe tank. It's outdated cannon and improvised nature mean that it's outmatched against any proper tank, but the periscope is of exceptionally fine quality, and the cannon can be used to launch a camera and a transmitter to get an eye-view of a distant location.
The closest thing to a heavy tank you'll ever see in the Network, the Killdozer, is as the name implies, a heavily uparmored bulldozer using concrete slabs, metal plates, and generally anything they could and placed it onto a stripped down Bulldozer chassis. Using a world war 1 vintage cannon and a set of machine guns, the Killdozer is painfully slow as even the upgraded engine has trouble handling all the added weight, but it is incredibly well armored and can place sensor-mines that provide both a view-point of the map, and can blow up in someone's face if stepped on. The Killdozer's weight also lets it crush lesser vehicles.
A Civilian helicopter with a "bubble" cockpit for maximum visibility, a hull-mounted twinlinked WW1 vintage machine gun with home-made HEAT rockets strapped to the side, the Little Birdy is ridiculously fragile and exceedingly mediocre at providing fire support, instead it's real strength is in deploying air-mines that can damage other aircraft should they run into the balloon lifted mines (ever so audaciously painted to look like part of the terrain, which works better than you'd think at the speeds most aircraft go) that also contain potent receivers to intercept communications, revealing stealthed units and providing line of sight from them.
In response to more intense Unionist and Allied air operations against the Network, the group has turned to a simple solution; a sufficiently large and uparmoured pick-up truck, a radar set, a rotating chair, and a rack of unguided rockets sold to them cheaply by the Phoenix Front who stole it from old Z-battery anti-air rocket mortars set up and only roughly maintained for decades as a last-ditch anti-air system, whose sales representative reportedly did a double take when she heard of the quantities they wanted it in. The Rocket stormer can't depress it's rockets enough to attack ground targets and has a limited arc of fire to avoid problems with backblast, but it can fire flares to illuminate large portions of the battlefield and blind some unfortunate suckers.
The meeting places of the Network are carefully armored by the survivalists to let them take a greater pounding than the usual houses they're made from, or are sometimes even scratch built. Here one can find all the various members of the Network pouring over information, various spies from intelligence organizations trying to find something of value, garages for the engineers to try their pet projects, and also some of the best radio and television reception you've ever seen. If captured by an Engineer, the Network can be hired out for a price, though you probably will want to lock down any sensitive information you have back at your own base.
"When all is said and done, it is a fact that peaceful negotiation with you will be fruitless as you have no intentions of doing the same thing with us. This time there will be change, no matter what means will be used for that end... "
- - "Sprawlestia's" message to virtually every Syndicate-aligned e-mail addresses after the "Great Shutdown of Urbe Arcadia", 1968. Sprawlestia is rumored to be one of the new leaders of the famed hacktivist group, Nemo.
These forces can be called on during minor faction deathmatch. The Conduit is the elite of the Network, those soldiers who have actually had encounters with the stranger elements of the world and were either discharged from, or left the military for various reasons. As such, they are given the best weapons and equipment that the Network can get it's hands on. These are some samples of what a lodger can call on.
The Trust Engineers are those engineers who sought out the Network after their experiences in the field of battle and as such allow the Network to acquire buildings for it's purposes and get a better idea of enemy capabilities. The Trust engineer uses SMGs smuggled into the country by the KGB and CBURA, turning these weapons of the man into tools for liberation, giving them surprising combat ability for an engineer, and they wear fairly substantial armor, but the real ability of the Trust Engineer is to signal in a downpour of EMP mortar strikes wherever someone is in spotting range, forcing vehicles and buildings to a standstill.
Armored with salvaged and "modified" armor from Peacekeeper and Legion Security officers and using a tacticooled out ADK-45 given by the KGB, the Cable Commando finally has some decent line infantry ability. The Cable Commando, while not quite as capable as the price tag suggests, can deploy a fast flying suicide drone that can act as artillery. As the drone has negligable line of sight of it's own, it requires guidance and spotting, but when it hits it strikes like a small artillery shell. While interceptable, this effectively turns every cable commando into an artillery platform in his own right.
A heavily modified marauder tank, the Modrauder is essentially nothing like the original vehicle, having just about everything stripped out due to paranoia concerning bugs and actually being a frankensteinian combination of several marauders. Now it resembles a giant metal box, and it's occupants are often derided as cowards and fools and it's often joked that those opposing the network shall "take away their metal boxes". Such comments go away when the Modrauder unveils a world war one vintage Big Bertha howitzer firing a devastating 16.5 inch shell that drastically exceeds the sheer amount of boom used by modern, small caliber artillery. The Modrauder can unveil a great degree of audacity by placing up stands and tarps to disguise itself as a building or land formation, rendering it stealthed so long as it remains still.
A civilian heavy lift helicopter burdened with armor plating and a degree of weaponry in the form of two autocannons and a pair of rocket pods, The Eye in the Sky's real purpose is to be a platform for perhaps the nuttiest idea by the Network yet. Hiding a V2 missile "lost" by the Soviets to be held inside the helicopter's cargo hold and then pushed out via a rather ingenous rammer, then activated and fired to function as the world's most surprising cruise missile. A joke in the KGB is that every time one is launched, the Politiburo has an uproaring laugh.
A proper tank made from the completely stripped down parts of Scorpions and Marauders, the Investigator menacingly waves around a very long barreled 90mm cannon that lets it function as a tank or building sniper thanks to it's great accuracy, though it has decentish speed and armor. Though it has middling single shot damage, a special loading system lets it fire quite rapidly and it's accuracy is impeccable, it can be quite dangerous if given space and a spotter. If pressed, the Investigator can load up some home-made canister shot that devastates infantry.
A congreave soldier carries a substantially more sophisticated missile launcher than his standard network counterparts, capable of tracking both aircraft and ground targets, which warheads he's using. The Congreave soldier's rockets add thermite to greatly increase the temperature of their HEAT warheads for even greater penetration, and can fire a long ranged building clearing warhead sold to the Network through middle-men working for the KGB seeking to sell off their stock of incendiary weapons, though the rarity of such warheads means they have to wait a long time to fire another.
|Clubbers||Cryptid Chaser • Ghost Hunter • UFO Hunter • Survivalist • Monster Hunter • Private-Eye • Conspiracy Buster • Storm Pursuer • Battle Bus • Truth Seeker • Killdozer • Little Birdy • Rocket Stormer|
|Conduit||Trust Engineer • Cable Commando • Modrauder • Eye in the Sky • Investigator • Congreave Soldier|
|Detailed Information||Characters of The Network • The Worldwide Conspiracy|