By the 22nd Century, mankind has reached the stars and beyond them. Warp drives take colonists to the outer reaches of the galaxy where terraforming has helped create new, Earth-like worlds that provide homes for a humanity that has outgrown its native planet. If this expansion across the depths of space was not enough, mankind has also learned how to manipulate the space-time continuum, permitting time travel and travel into parallel dimensions where the laws of the universe may not apply at all.
It should be a time of peace, prosperity, enlightenment, exploration and the expansion of horizons. But it is not. Far from it.
The known universe is far from peaceful or enlightened. Earth, ravaged by three atomic wars, ravaged by global warming,is introverted, sullen and filled with prejudice and hatred. Elsewhere, the human colonies have encountered and come into conflict with alien races that are every bit as resentful and aggressive as humankind. The space-lanes are beset by pirates, reavers and slavers.
The parallel dimensions are ruled by exploitative individuals who cannot resist imposing their will through the bending of the laws of reality. The galaxy is a ruthless, dog-eat-dog place.
Colonists fight for survival. Despots plunder and murder with abandon. Criminals assault society and escape on the next starship, free to continue their crimes elsewhere. No one is safe. No one is secure. The rule of law is replaced by the rule of the gun. Where justice and order should exist, chaos, hatred, cruelty and prejudice prevail.
And nowhere is the cruelty and prejudice more prevalent than in the way humanity treats the most unfortunate people in its society – the mutants.
The atomic wars of Earth caused unprecedented levels of radiation to permeate the atmosphere. Strontium 90, a virulent radioactive isotope, is responsible for creating severe and widespread mutation across the populace. The mutations range from the subtle through to the catastrophic but the degree of mutation is unimportant. Each and every mutant is feared, hated and despised by the ‘Norms’. Through no fault of their own the mutants are forced to live in ghettos, are denied honest work and forced to scrape through life hungry, begging for both food and life.
Many will die – through neglect, Norm cruelty or as a result of their mutations. Most will spend their lives in abject misery, rejected by their families and wider society. But for some – the strong, the quick-witted, the amoral – there is another way…
In a sprawling galaxy where law enforcement is simply impossible, the obvious recourse is to rely on bounty hunters to bring criminals to justice, or to carry out the death penalty for those crimes. Few Norms are willing to work for such blood money, but for mutants the Search and Destroy Agency offers a way out of misery and penury. A way to be of service to society; a way to make a living. The bounty hunters of the late 22nd Century are the mutants; Search and Destroy agents, at liberty to roam the galaxy in search of its scum and in return for money.
Society has a different name for these agents. To society, they are not Search and Destroy agents, but Strontium Dogs