Two Worlds Task Force Backstage
For as long as humankind has existed, there have been people who believed in another world, living alongside our own, populated by demons and monsters from humanity’s darkest nightmares. Most of these people were reviled as madmen, corrupted by sin and cast out into the gutters.
But some were seen as prophets, soothsayers, with knowledge of the darkness, who would help humanity wage endless war against these creatures of shadow and blood. They foresaw a world plunged into chaos, a world that burned with the fires of battle for millennia, and they witnessed nightmares that drove them to the brink of insanity, for one simple reason: they saw that the darkness would bring with it the end of the world.
Here’s the kicker: they weren’t that far off.
There was a world of monsters alongside our own, engaged in a secret, shadowy war with those members of the human race with enough skill and knowledge to fight back. The war raged for centuries, with bloodshed and countless casualties on both sides, and no end in sight.
But then, in the early days of the 21st Century, something happened: the war became public, and humanity began to realise the true extent of our world. Bloody, all-out conflict ensued and continued for twelve years, until both sides realised that this violence could continue no longer, and the leaders of the humans and the monsters held a peace summit. This resulted in the end of the war, and the decision that humanity and the supernatural world would co-exist.
This peace has lasted 25 years, due in part to the work of the Two Worlds Task Force.
Established six months after the peace summit, the TWTF is a division of the police force, staffed by both humans and supernaturals, dedicated to preserving the balance between the two groups of this world. This means investigating any and all crime involving both humans and supernaturals, from illegal blood trafficking or exorcisms, to acts of violence between the two parties.
The TWTF is answerable directly to the government, and as such members of the Task Force are not particularly well-liked by the rest of the police force, particularly due to their public influence. However, as the Task Force operates out of different locations to the standard police force, it is only a problem when Task Force is called in to a crime by the standard police force.
Anyone is able to apply for the Task Force, whether they are human or vampire, werewolf, ghost, Sensitive or even zombie, as there are positions available for all these different species. One of the major qualities required by every member of the TWTF, however, is impartiality: for example, a human member of the Task Force should not automatically take the side of the human over the supernatural in any particular case, and vice versa. It is for this reason that many applicants to the Task Force fail the psych evaluation, as it is found that they are unable to remain unbiased.
All members of the Task Force are issued with two main weapons: the first, a standard-issue semiautomatic handgun which carries either standard or rubber rounds only, and the second a large revolver, which can be loaded with silver bullets (for werewolves), sharpened wooden bullets (for vampires), and many other different types of ordnance. They are issued with a number of other weapons, each of which they are specially trained with, for special circumstances, however: for example, it is not uncommon for field members of the Task Force to be dispatched armed with swords, crossbows, rifles, axes and hammers and stakes, to name but a few.
Other than human beings, the world is populated by a number of different supernatural creatures, living alongside humanity. Whilst they are considered equal to humanity, there are some which believe they should be superior, the dominant species on Earth.
Vampires – vampires are the most common supernatural creature in the world, largely due to their human appearance, allowing them to blend into humanity with ease. The differences in their anatomy are numerous: they have fangs in place of their incisor teeth, which appear the same length as normal incisors but extend from the gums when they need to feed, their stomachs and digestive systems are slightly different to a humans due to the fact they only need to digest blood, they possess a degree of superhuman strength and stamina, a much-extended lifespan, and are able to move far quicker than a human.
However, for all their strengths, vampires have a number of weaknesses too. Contrary to popular myth and legend, they are, in fact, able to walk in daylight, albeit with some discomfort (this can be eased through use of sunblock and sunglasses), but they are still susceptible to stakes through the heart, and they have an aversion to allicin (a compound obtained from garlic). Religious artefacts (crucifixes, Stars of David, etc.) are effective, but this is entirely dependent on the faith of the wielder rather than the object itself. For example, if someone truly believes that God will protect them, a crucifix will repel a vampire, and even burn them on contact; however, if an atheist attempts the same, the crucifix will have no effect on the vampire. Similarly, vampires can only enter a human dwelling if they are invited: if they are not, the vampire suffers intense physical pain. The only methods which will kill a vampire with total effectiveness are staking, removal of the head or complete dismemberment, and upon death a vampire will burn and crumble into a pile of ash, a process accompanied by considerable physical pain.
Since the peace summit, vampires have developed various methods to stave off their hunger, although the main one relies on humans voluntarily giving blood for them to drink. In return for these donations, however, the vampires have supplied human scientists and doctors with multiple vampire blood and tissue samples, which contain antibodies allowing them to develop cures for all known diseases. Vampire society is still divided, however, between ‘takers’, those who drink the blood given to them by humanity, and ‘turkeys’ (a pejorative nickname given to them by the takers), those who abstain from drinking blood altogether. Turkeys are able to stave off the hunger through considerable willpower, as well as some man-made narcotics (for example, nicotine abates the hunger temporarily, so a number of turkeys are also smokers) which affect vampires differently to humans.
Werewolves – also known as ‘lycos’, werewolves consider themselves to be very different from vampires: whilst vampires consider themselves to be an entirely different species from humanity, werewolves consider themselves to be ‘infected humans’. In other words, werewolves are able to blend in and act as normal humans for roughly 28 days a month, only being affected by their condition for one or two days, when there is a full moon.
The werewolf ‘virus’, as it is seen by most werewolves, is passed on through the bite or scratch of another werewolf, at which point it lies dormant in the receiver until the next full moon, at which time they transform themselves. The transformation itself is an almost unbearably painful process, in which the werewolf’s heart stops and then shrinks, during which all the other organs fail and change shape and position within the body; bones snap, extend and reform, fur sprouts from the skin, and they are generally dragged through hell only to come out stronger on the other side. Due to this constant horrific injury, werewolves become much stronger over time, even in their human forms, which also reap some of the benefits of wolf form: for the few days surrounding the full moon, their senses are heightened and their physical strength is increased.
Werewolves’ weaknesses are widely known: they are susceptible to silver, particularly bullets, although cages made of silver can be and are used to contain lycos in their wolf form. Similarly, a number of werewolves who choose to resist their conditions find strong sedatives or sleeping pills often make their wolf form a lot more sedate and less likely to attack anyone. For those who choose to embrace the wolf, however, there are special centres, known as ‘Sanctuaries’, set up in every major city in which werewolves can transform and roam in peace with other werewolves, and nature and instinct rule: some lycos are killed in these Sanctuaries, but these deaths are legally accepted, due to the animalistic nature of those involved.
Ghosts – ghosts, as you might expect, are imprints of the recently (or in some cases, not so recently) deceased, left behind in our world due to ‘unfinished business’. For the most part, ghosts are invisible to the untrained human eye, yet remain completely visible, and in some cases tangible, to supernatural creatures. Only when a ghost is particularly strongly-formed is it easily visible to the human eye, and even this takes extreme strength of willpower from the ghost. People who have an affinity with the immaterial (known widely as ‘Sensitives’), however, are able to sense the presence of ghosts, to the extent that they are often able to talk to them, and in some cases see them clearly.
Essentially, ghosts are comprised of memories, and it is through the use of memory that they can make themselves stronger: for example, if a ghost moves to a place which meant a lot to the person who left them behind (a first or last home, for example), the memories are rich, and they are able to become visible and tangible. However, if they are in a place they are not familiar with, somewhere they have no memories of they will take a much weaker form. The more skilled ghosts (basically, those who have been around longest), are able to shape their own memories into weapons at the cost of reducing their own presence in the material world, as they are essentially using up their own essence to create a weapon. However, these talented ghosts are hard to come by, and usually keep to themselves rather than presenting themselves to others.
Many ghosts are also able to ‘possess’ living beings, gaining temporary control over their physical forms. They do so through physical contact, and it is not always done through choice. While this does grant ghosts temporary access to a solid physical form, there is a drawback: the ghost is able to see every corner of the host’s mind and memory, but conversely the host is able to see every corner of the ghost’s mind and memory as well. Due to the fact that they are composed of memories, and access to them is access to their very being, it is understandable that most ghosts are reluctant to possess anyone.
Due to the fact that ghosts are created by unfinished business in the mortal realm, if at any point that business is completed, the ghost will be presented with a doorway. This doorway could be very normal, or grand and ostentatious, but each one is unique to a particular ghost: when they enter the doorway, the ghost ‘passes on’ to the next life, and whatever may lay there.
The government has set up a help service for ghosts named the Deceased Advice Service (DAS), staffed almost exclusively by Sensitives, who offer advice to the recently-deceased and attempt to help them complete their unfinished business and pass on peacefully.
Doppelgängers and Boogeymen - Although most ghosts are usually sorted into the “benevolent-Casper” type or the “possession-and-eerie-moaning” type, certain Ghosts have a much more tragic and malevolent existence; such is the case with Doppelgängers and Boogeymen. Doppelgängers are ghosts who become fixated on a particular person they knew in life and feed solely on their memories. As the ghosts grow in strength the absorbed memories transform their visage until they're the spitting image of their target. Unfortunately, this results in the ghost becoming completely overwhelmed with jealousy for the life of their target, who they attempt to frighten into either suicide or a dangerous situation. While murder is illegal, Doppelgängers are rarely charged due to lack of evidence of foul play, as well as being unable to differentiate between the murderous ghost and the ghost of the recently deceased. Boogeymen, unlike Doppelgängers, are not made evil through unfortunate circumstances, but are born dastardly. These ghosts prey on a specific group of people, notoriously children, and feed on their nightmares instead of memories. With every nightmare they consume their appearance becomes more gnarly and terrifying, so much so that anyone who many who gaze upon elder Boogeymen are driven mad on the spot. They will also result to physically harming their prey to make their nightmares more potent. Although generally fearsome, Boogeymen lose all of their power if they confront someone without fear. They are also severely weakened if they accidentally consume a pleasant dream.
Zombies – these are not the shambling, groaning corpses of fiction: in fact, zombies are as mentally functional as most humans (and more so than some). In essence, a zombie is a creature born when the physical body dies, but the soul and memories (which would normally become a ghost) remain somehow attached to it. Thus, the body goes through a state of decomposition, while the mind and soul of the person remains active.
Due to the nature of zombies, it is suggested that they are ‘dipped’ once a week, a process which involves bathing the body in formaldehyde in order to preserve it. Whilst this is not a permanent solution (and it does naturally make zombies stink of formaldehyde), it temporarily stops the decay which would normally set in after a few days. However, if a zombie is injured, the body will not heal itself: broken bones can be re-set with a splint, but they will never heal, and cuts can be stitched up but they won’t heal over. This is where the standard (seen as stereotypical) view of the zombie comes from, but most find this image offensive.
Also contrary to popular belief, zombies do not crave human flesh to sustain themselves: in fact, being dead, they don’t really crave anything. They never get hungry or thirsty, and in fact even if they did eat or drink anything the body would be unable to process it and it would eventually be regurgitated. They are also unable to feel pain, which can be a double-edged sword, as they are unable to tell when they are injuring themselves.
Unfortunately, due to the fact that they are already dead, zombies are also very hard to dispose of. In fact, the only foolproof way to ‘kill’ a zombie is total dismemberment, usually combined with complete immolation of the body parts. This will ensure that no part of the zombie will be left functional to come and get revenge on the ‘killer’.
Homunculi and Ghouls - While most Zombies are created through as-of-yet unknown supernatural means, there are a few man made Zombies roaming the Earth. Homunculi are fabricated creatures, made either from the stitching together of different deceased bodies or through the creation of an artificial humanoid shell. Once the body is completed, whoever is creating the Homunculus, known commonly as a Frankenstein, calls forth a spirit and tricks it into entering the body, and then traps it in there. Before the ghost can escape, the Frankenstein electrocutes the body and does so repeatedly until the ghost runs out of energy and becomes permanently bonded to the body. Stripped of memories, the Homunculus has no sense of self and blindly obeys it's masters orders. For this reason Homunculi are quite the pain for the T.W.T.F. because their lack of self preservation allows them to work their bodies to their utmost limits 24/7. This also gives them a relatively short life span, however, as they are apt to injure their bodies beyond repair when performing 'missions'. Ghouls are the opposite of this process. Since the discovery of supernatural creatures, people have begun doing extensive, mostly illegal, experimentation on human and supernatural beings. One such experiment was to take a supernatural or a human and force them into a near death experience. When the gate to the afterlife appeared, the experimenters would revive the body, but forcibly banish the spirit through the gate. The result was a Ghoul, a creature that knows little more than blind anger and will do anything to devour souls. Despite the tendency for Ghouls to murder their creator on the spot, their creation continues to be a popular trend. The body of a Ghoul doesn't suffer from the same deterioration as other Zombies; their skin simply becomes hard and calloused, which provides ample protection against most forms of injuries. Ghouls can be defeated with sun light and fire, though.
Faeries - Know by many names such as the fairer folk, or Fae, faeries, as we know them, are the lesser denizens of the two courts of Fae, Seelie and Unseelie. Not the flying miniature creatures that were depicted throughout our modern day stories, the faeries that choose to take an earthly form resemble humans for the most part. That being the case, it is not hard to spot a faerie in a group of people. The fae take after the court from which they originate, giving them a massive variety in physical appearance. The one characteristic in common they have is that they are considered to be beautiful beyond words, this is due to the ‘glamour’ that surround each faerie. This is a powerful illusion created by the greater fae to help lesser fae ensnare the hearts of mortals. None can really attest to have seeing a faeries true form, but it is widely believed that seeing their true form can drive a mortal to insanity.
The Seelie Court represents the light in the world, having most of its beings being of a beneficial nature. Physically, Seelie faerie are usually brightly colored, their skin tone, hair, and eye coloring usually taking after the beautiful things in nature, such as wildflowers or trees. Though initially helpful in nature, Seelie fae only seek to help others when they can benefit from it. It must be said that though Seelie are the gentler of the two fae, they are by no means any less dangerous than the Unseelie.
The Unseelie Court represents the darkness in the world. The Unseelie feed off of malicious acts that they either cause or have influenced others to commit. Physically, the Unseelie are the opposite of the Seelie, where as the Seelie embody everything that is beautiful in nature, the Unseelie embody everything that is cold and harsh, often in the form of ice and stone. The malicious nature of the Unseelie makes them quite deadly, but most are usually too coy to outright kill people, preferring to collude and conspire. Most Unseelie can overcome their more basic desires to fit in more in society, sating themselves on smaller acts of malice, like shoplifting or acts of vandalism.
The two courts do share some common traits however. Both are able to draw upon their glamour to create illusions, though this practice is illegal and if caught doing so is a felony offense, which can lead to a sentence of ten years imprisonment. No poison or disease affects faeries, and they can recover from injuries twice as fast as a human being. Though a faerie can be killed by human means, they are heartier. Where as it only takes one pound of pressure to break the average human’s skin, a study found it took four pounds of pressure to break the skin of a faerie.
The bane of a faerie’s existence is cold iron; anything made of this can burn and disfigure a fae. Because of this, many choose to wear gloves at all times to cut the risk of exposing themselves to cold iron. Lastly, the most fatal weakness to the fae is a triviality to humans. Heartbreak, though traumatizing to humans, is lethal to faeries. Faeries who succumb to heartbreak are found with a caved in chest with their heart and veins turned to ash. Because of this, faeries only pursue carnal interests, and have become detached from humanity.
Muses and Succubi - Muses and Succubi are fae who have taken to prostitution, using their powers of allure to feed off of humans. Muses, hailing from the Seelie court, are considered beings of pure desire. A night with a Muse is considered a life changing event. Only an elite few can afford a night with a Muse, but they are extremely sought after. Though prostitution is illegal, Muses are considered by most to be a legitimate business, and it is incredibly difficult for the T.W.T.F. to get a charge on most Muses due to the resources available to them. Succubi are a far more sinister form of prostitution. Hailing from the Unseelie court, Succubi are faerie who have been driven to the edge by their malicious intents and actually drain the life from their johns. Though they are rare, a Succubus can go undetected for years, taking the lives of many people.
Sensitives – while not really another species, it is worth mentioning the Sensitives here. The most common way for a person to become a sensitive is to survive a near-death experience, and look through their own doorway. This gives them an innate connection to the immaterial world, and from that point on they will be able to sense the presence of ghosts at all times, whether they like it or not.
The majority of Sensitives are caring towards ghosts, seeing them as tortured souls, and wish only to help them. These people usually use their talents to become part of the DAS, and help ghosts towards their own doorways and onto something better. However, a select few are more malicious towards ghosts, and become exorcists, using their talents to force ghosts through any doorway that becomes available to them in order to rid the world of spirits. Since the peace summit, exorcism has become illegal, and anyone found practicing in the art will be arrested immediately.
A much rarer group of Sensitives is widely known as the ‘Oracles’, who through their own spiritual or immaterial experiences, have been gifted with the ability to see into the future. However, this often drives the Oracle made, and as such these visions are often cloudy, jumbled and confused, taking a lot of effort to convert their ramblings into any coherent prophecy.
Frankensteins (aka 'Mad Doctors') - A nickname originally given to Sensitives who create Homunculi and/or Ghouls, although it's colloquially used now to describe any Sensitive with a penchant for experimenting on or with supernaturals, legally or no. Naturally both the creation of Ghouls and Homunculi are highly illegal, as they involve crimes murder (on whatever other 'source' material they use for the bodies), unlawful treatment of Zombies and slavery of ghosts.
New Los Angeles – Los Angeles was one of the first cities to fall in the war, taken by supernaturals in the very first days of the conflict. The United States Government declared it a quarantine zone, and mere weeks later ordered a mass air strike on the city, which was obliterated completely. Hundreds of thousands of people, human and supernatural, lost their lives in a single day, and that day plunged the war further into fire and darkness.
However, in the final days of the war, the peace summit was held in the ruins of Los Angeles, and it was decided that a new city should be built on the ashes of the old, to stand as a memorial and as a tribute to those who gave their lives in the war. With the combined efforts of humans and supernaturals, a mere two years later New Los Angeles stood proud, a new utopia in which all creatures would co-exist peacefully.
“The Hub” – a relatively small building in the centre of New Los Angeles, the Hub is headquarters to the Two Worlds Task Force. Whilst it may look like a squat, three-storey building next to the steel-and-glass skyscrapers it is nestled amongst, the Hub continues for roughly twenty storeys underground, and is home to research and medical centres as well as the Task Force.
“The Fortress” – hidden away on the outskirts of New Los Angeles, the Fortress is the high-security penitentiary in which perpetrators of major crimes are held. There are separate wings for each supernatural creature, due to the differing technical specifications needed to hold such a variety of species.
Since the peace summit, there are a number of concepts which have developed which some may be unfamiliar with. Here are a few prime examples.
Anti-Supernaturalism and Anti-Humanism – in the same way that people are capable of racism, sexism, homophobia and many other intolerances, certain members of the populace are prone to intolerance towards other species. For example, a human who dislikes vampires simply because they are a different species would be considered an ‘anti-supernaturalist’; and similarly a vampire who dislikes humans simply because they are a different species would be considered an ‘anti-humanist’. Whilst most people don’t hold any hatred towards other species, there are still a minority who do, and they can occasionally get violent: this is the kind of violence in which the TWTF will become involved.
Blood Clubs – Blood Club society is a highly secretive underground society in which vampires meet in specially-designated ‘clubs’ to drink unlicensed human blood (often trafficked or smuggled in from other countries) and, very occasionally, bring in an actual human or two to slaughter for their blood. As you can imagine, Blood Clubs are totally illegal, and even an individual’s presence at one is an offense which can lead to imprisonment.
Dog Fights – in a similar fashion to the Blood Clubs, Dog Fights are a similarly underground, and similarly illegal practice carried out by many (humans and supernaturals alike), in which they pit werewolves against each other at their ‘time of the month’ and take bets on the outcome of a fight. The charges of being caught at or involved in the organisation of a Dog Fight are just as harsh as a Blood Club, and will likely result in imprisonment.
Meat Markets – sometimes, despite all their best efforts and ensuring they don’t miss their weekly ‘dip’, zombies fall apart. And when they do, more often than not they head to a Meat Market, a black market which specialises in dealing human body parts to zombies who have lost them. Surprisingly, provided that it can be proved no murder was involved, running or participating in a Meat Market carries a much lighter sentence than the equivalent for a Blood Club or a Dog Fight.
Memorgies – unlike Blood Clubs, Dog Fights or Meat Markets, Memorgies are in no way illegal. Instead, they are collections of ghosts who meet in order to share their memories with one another in an indiscriminate fashion. According to those who have been involved, participating in a Memorgy can be an intensely sensual experience, and as such many ghosts participate in them, as it is some of the only meaningful connection they can make with other beings.
Hunters, Fullmooners and Smashers – the Hunters and Fullmooners are human groups which hunt vampires and werewolves respectively: they claim that, whilst dangerous, the adrenaline rush one gets from hunting a powerful supernatural creature is unbeatable. Smashers, on the other hand, are groups dedicated to destroying zombies by literally ‘smashing’ their heads apart. All three of these practices are illegal, and carry serious sentences with them.
Branding - in the early days of the war, when the existence of supernaturals became public knowledge, humans naturally panicked. In this initial panic, a number of people who woul go on to become Fullmooners took to branding people 'outed' as werewolves with a crescent moon symbol, in order to make sure that they could be identified even when not in wolf form. Branding still unfortunately occurs, with Fullmooners doing it so they are able to quickly spot werewolves during 'hunt days'.
The ‘Ghost Network’ – due to their nature as beings of pure spirit, ghosts are inherently connected to one another, and as such are much better at finding other ghosts than humans or other supernaturals. Due to this skill, it is not uncommon for a member of the Task Force to call on the ‘Ghost Network’ to aid in his or her investigation, as they can often extend these skills to find corporeal beings as well.
GhostFinder – one of the most popular smartphone apps ever created, GhostFinder allows the human user to see ghosts through the camera of their smartphone by picking up and displaying electrical impulses caused by ghosts. It is effective, however roughly only 75% of the time, and even when fully effective ghosts are displayed as fuzzy figures made up of blue light. The technology is upgrading all the time, however, and the creators hope that soon the user will be fully able to see ghosts through use of the app.
Supernaturists – Supernaturists is a commonly-used title given to humans who have certain sexual fetishes involving supernaturals and, whilst mostly harmless, sometimes there is overlap between Supernaturists and the hunting groups listed above, and often this requires investigation.
Lupex - A steroid developed from fluid drawn from the adrenal glands of werewolves post-transformation. When administered to humans, it provides a massive, but temporary, burst of strength, speed and heightened senses. However, prolonged use leads to extreme aggression and ultimately multiple organ failure. Extremely rare, due to the difficulty and danger involved in gathering it.
Lieutenant Lucas Carter - a 123-year-old vampire and an expert investigator, Lucas heads up the field investigations for the New L.A. branch of the Task Force. His brilliant mind and somewhat impulsive demeanor belie a traumatic, and often violent past that he wishes he could forget.
Sergeant Erik Pelland - Lucas' right-hand man and one of his closest friends, Erik is a werewolf who has long since come to terms with his condition. He is fiercely loyal to those he is close to, particularly his wife Margot, but his condition has gradually caused him to become more aggressive over the years.
Detective Endymion - an almost unnaturally-handsome Seelie Court Faerie, Endymion faces numerous struggles in his day-to-day life: namely, an inability to truly connect with his team-mates due to his fear of heartbreak; as well as his addiction to glamouring. However, Endymion is a trusted Detective and an expert in undercover work.
Detective Claire Weaver - a tragically young ghost and former Sensitive, Claire has always been an outsider, from the cliques of high school to the entire living world. She is a valued member of the team due to her special talents in covert operations, and has the potential to become even more powerful than she can imagine.
Detective Charles Washburn - something of an enigma, 194-year-old vampire Charles is, like most vampires, haunted by the demons of his past. He is, however, an invaluable member of the team, with two centuries' insight into weaponry, as well as a high level of skill in stealth operations.
Vincent Keller – soon to be sworn in as the new Mayor of New Los Angeles, Vincent Keller is a 325-year-old vampire with the power to truly unite the Two Worlds, and rid the world of prejudice and injustice. He is a strong, fair man and a trustworthy leader, liked by all but the Anti-Supernaturalists, who are nonetheless a dying breed.
Captain Samuel Griffin – Lucas’ immediate superior in the Task Force, Griffin is a gruff, but intelligent human who greatly respects Lucas and the rest of his team, a respect which is mutual. However, that doesn’t stop him from disliking some of Lucas’ more unusual methods of investigation, ultimately choosing to ignore them as long as they provide results.
Margot Pelland – Erik’s loving wife, branded a Supernaturist for her relationship. Nevertheless, Margot is a strong woman, who will stand by her husband until the very end.