History of S.A.S.S.

While the wider world became aware of the threats posed by post-humans, magic, and supervillains in 2005, there was a community of those in the know long before this.

In 1998, a group of recently discharged marines were drawn into this world. Alice Peyton, Sally Lee, Arthur Weston, and Daphne Dixon were on vacation in San Francisco when they were caught in the middle of a crossfire between Dusk Man and the dark magician Kaldor. 

The four of them took up arms against the rogue mage. Weston picked up a discarded spellbook, reading it while the other three surrounded Kaldor. The five were able to use the spellbook to strip Kaldor of his magic abilities. When the authorities didn’t believe them, the four agreed to search for more supernatural events on their own. They formed the Super Villain Assault Specialty Squad. Dixon acted as leader, with Lee handling logistics and research, Petyon handling tactical, and Weston delving further into the mystic arts.

The group expanded slowly, typically by finding others like themselves that had stumbled onto this larger viewpoint. After a bad call almost led to Lee’s death in a fight with the Lizard Legion, Dixon decided to seek a replacement, feeling she was better suited for field work than leadership.

A young MIT graduate named Betsy Bullard also found herself in the sights of this larger world. Bullard was kidnapped by Doctor Levi Thacker just after she graduated in 2000. Thacker, codenamed Leviathan, had recently been discovered to be kidnapping students for use in experiments to turn them into biological weapons.

Bullard was brought in as both a hostage and a lab assistant. She was trapped with Thacker for almost a week before she attempted an escape. A heated fight broke out between the two of them, during which Thacker released some of his experimental monsters. The timely arrival of Payton, Lee, and Weston helped turn the balance.

Bullard immediately assessed the situation, working in tandem with the squad to build a device to neutralize the monsters. Dixon was impressed with her skills, offering her a position and taking Bullard under her wing.

The first mission under Bullard’s leadership was one that impacted her for a long time after. The team was brought into combat a serial killer with precognitive abilities in Cheyenne, Michigan. Dubbed “The Apollo Killer,” he claimed (through contact with the media) that he didn’t want to kill, but that his visions informed him that he must. The police didn’t initially believe his claims, so he provided proof in the form of things he couldn’t have known or been present for, such as claims made moments before the letters arrived.

S.A.S.S. was brought in by the F.B.I. due to their reputation for unusual cases. Soon after, the team became the focus of the killer’s messages, eventually leading to the death of recent member Pete Teller. Bullard was successful in tricking the killer into revealing himself as a local deputy, Phillip Avery Reid. She did so by pushing Weston and Peyton into pursuing their own investigation without explicitly telling them to. Meanwhile, Bullard followed her own leads, almost falling victim to the killer before they captured him

Within a year, Dixon stepped down as leader and promoted Bullard. After stepping down, Dixon took on a recruiting and mentoring role, looking for new members across the globe. Lee was the lone dissenter of Bullard taking charge, as she was not part of the original group. Payton, seeing how Bullard’s perspective was beneficial to the group, convinced Lee to stay.

Following the reveal of the posthumans to the world with the 2005 battle between Hercules and the Nanomancer, the services of S.A.S.S. were suddenly in higher demand. Up until this point, they primarily found themselves fighting mad scientists and magic users. Now many state, local, and global governments were attempting to bring them in, thinking they were under attack by supernatural threats. This required them to change gears to be far more discerning about which cases they took on.

In 2006, the group was brought in by the state of California to investigate an unusual desert phenomenon. This led to Bullard’s first documented experience with extraterrestrials. She met a Quarnian, a shapeshifting plant creature. Named Greenhouse, he had been on Earth for over a century and now a bounty hunter had been sent to collect him. With Earth being a non-space faring planet, the bounty hunter used aggressive tactics without concern for people in the area. Payton stood up for Greenhouse, recognizing that he was seeking asylum on Earth. 

In 2008, billionaire technology executive Robin Markovic approached Bullard regarding her time as S.A.S.S.’ leader. Over the course of the conversation, he made it clear he planned to approach the United Nations about forming a more global peacekeeping force to help with these kinds of increasingly unusual threats. Bullard was quick to say that S.A.S.S. would make great use of a larger budget and scope. But Markovic corrected her, saying that he did not want all of S.A.S.S., only Bullard. 

Bullard ultimately took him up on this deal, believing her leadership would be more impactful in a larger organization. She became the head director of the United Nations Irregular Operation Network aka UNION. The S.A.S.S. team was devastated by this change. This culminated in a fistfight with Payton, who took her leaving as a sign of betrayal. 

After Bullard left, Payton took over as leader. In the following years, she dealt with a combination of the effectiveness of U.N.I.O.N. and interference from groups like the Majestic-12 limiting the need for a smaller organization. Dixon eventually retired to a ranch in Texas. Weston left the group in 2018 to travel the world and document magic history. Lee remained onboard while Payton slowly converted it to a logistics and intelligence service, focusing more on finding ways to make their operations more effective.

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