The Search and Destroy Agency
Advances in space drive technology during the 21st Century have led to the rapid expansion of humanity throughout the galaxy, accompanied by ambitious (and largely successful)terraforming projects to create a plethora of Earth-like worlds.
Following the atomic wars of both the 21st and 22nd Centuries,off-world colonies offer the best quality of life for many humans,leading to ambitious colonisation programs. By the 2280s humanity is ubiquitous throughout the galaxy, occupying over 200 different worlds.
Humans being what they are, crime has been a major export and the extensive, chaotic, partially governed network of colony worlds has given criminals the perfect environment to escape to and lie-low. Just as the frontiers of the old American west offered sanctuary for fugitives from justice, so too do the colony worlds.
Policing such a chaotic system is practically impossible. Police administration is invariably localised, often corrupt and chronically lacking in resources: criminals evade the law and go to ground: apprehending them is a difficult and often futile exercise. To keep the galaxy clean requires men who are unafraid of getting their hands dirty; men who are prepared to hunt down fellow men for profit.
The Search/Destroy Agency was established to administrate, regulate and operate the network of bounty hunters required to help maintain law and order by apprehending wanted criminals. The law enforcement agencies of the various colony worlds and systems are responsible for identifying and setting the bounties on the heads of wanted criminals, and they advise if a criminal is operating under a death sentence which can be enforced under a Termination Warrant.
The S/D Agency is responsible for taking the warrants and administrating them across the galaxy, ensuring that licensed S/D Agents – Strontium Dogs – are aware of the warrants , understand a warrant’s terms and work to bring fugitives to justice.
Law Enforcement and S/D Agency Organisation Galactic and Colonial Administration (GCA)
The administrative bureaucracy for the galaxy, the office of the GCA handles all routine business and administrative affairs for the colony worlds beyond the solar system. A vast and sprawling secretariat that handles the affairs for hundreds of worlds, its main offices are in New Geneva, Earth and they occupy the footprint of a small city.
Like any large administration, the GCA is strangled by its own administrative red tape and prone to petty and not-so petty corruption. Even with the powerful administrative computer systems automating most of the routine and humdrum tasks, it can still take forever to get the simplest request approved, budgeted and actioned. For this reason the colony worlds tend to rely on their own resources to make things happen, rather than waiting for the GCA to crank itself into a forward moving gear. This leads to the typical fragmentation of the administrative system, with official records claiming one thing but the reality on a colony world being something very, very different.
Galactic Crime Commission (GCC)
Given the vastness of the galaxy and the insurmountable challenge of maintaining law and order, the Galactic Crime Commission has a remit to ensure that law is enforced equally across the galaxy, in the most expedient way. It does this through a two-tier mechanism. Every system has its own System Law Enforcement agency that is responsible for all day to day policing within its worlds (or an entire sub-sector, if the sub-sector is sparsely populated). This includes police actions of arrest and operation of the court system, modelled on the systems and procedures in use on Earth. At least, the Earth-model is the intention. In reality every system introduces its own quirks and conventions reflecting the nature of the system and worlds within it and/or the personalities involved.
The GCA is meant to guard against such diversity but is powerless to prevent it. System Law Enforcement is run to lean budgets and its effectiveness is always compromised. It is ill-equipped to deal with anything but the most basic, uncomplicated crimes and is certainly unequipped to pursue those criminals and fugitives who manage to continually evade the law. This is where the second mechanism comes in.
The second mechanism is the Search/Destroy Agency. Essentially, the S/D Agency is a privately operated, but GCA and GCC-approved, outfit. The S/D Agency is fully licensed to pursue, and where necessary terminate, the perpetrators of serious crimes anywhere in the galaxy. As a privately operated organisation, S/D can be neatly distanced from the GCA and GCC when necessary, although everyone understands that, despite all its private credentials, the S/D Agency is the bounty hunting branch of the Galactic Crime Commission.
As the idea of hunting humans for money is still morally repugnant, the S/D Agency’s almost exclusive use of mutants allows the GCA and GCC to retain a certain moral dignity (despite actually having none at all) in the public arena.
Therefore the S/D Agency pursues those criminals and fugitives that are beyond the reach and capabilities of System Law Enforcement. It can use weapons and tactics completely contrary to ‘legal’ policing and with agents who are, to all intents and purposes, as expendable as one can possibly get.
The GCC is responsible for setting the terms of a warrant for any fugitive that S/D agents pursue. It determines whether the warrant is Capture or Termination and then the value of the reward. The reward value is what is paid directly to the S/D agent who brings in the subject of the warrant but an additional 15% of the reward value is paid to the S/D Agency to help towards operating costs. The GCC is always in full control of the terms of a warrant and can raise or lower the value of a reward according to information and circumstances; similarly, it can change a warrant from Capture to Termination (or vice versa) and any changes made to a warrant are automatically fed to the S/D Agency so that the agents in the field – the Strontium Dogs – are fully aware of the conditions.
System Colonial Administration (SCA)
System Colonial Administration represents the GCA at a system level, attempting to administer GCA laws and regulations across any number of worlds within a given star system. As one might expect, it is a bureaucratic nightmare which, far removed from the bureaucratic nightmare it represents, means that SCAs tend to forge their own path and to hell with what GCA says.
SCAs tend to fall into one of three camps:
The Ultra-Authoritative. The administration tries to micromanage every aspect of citizens’ lives. Because it is distant from the GCA it believes it must work twice as hard to enforce its presence. Laws, rules and regulations are enforced without any thought for how the quality of life is affected; taxes are high and collected by the most efficient bureaucracy ever conceived, whilst those parts of society that really need an efficient bureaucracy, such as health care or system law enforcement, suffer. Petty politicians and bureaucrats delight in building their own empires, shaded by the SCA’s murky, impenetrable conventions, allowing corruption and despotism to flourish unchallenged. The worst aspects of Earth are magnified, whilst the true needs of the worlds in the system tend to be ignored.
It is in these kinds of systems that mutant hating and bigotry is every bit as mendacious as it is on Earth.
Struggling Heroically. The administration tries to balance the dictates of the GCA with the genuine local needs of the system worlds. Bureaucracy takes a backseat to genuine local interests but at the expense of administrative coherence. Social concerns tend to be good but the essential infrastructure, such as communication, social and health care and law enforcement are under-funded but supported morally. It is systems falling into this type that criminals and fugitives find easy to hide within. The gaps in the administration make it easy for people to enter the
system or land on a world and simply disappear. It makes those systems easy prey for organised criminal elements – either mafia-style gangs or marauding pirates and outlaws – to prey on the weak and isolated.
Mutants are still disliked, generally but the prejudice tends to be lessened and, in some quarters (generally outlying colony worlds where life is hard for everyone), mutants may even be
Might As Well Not Exist. The system administration has broken down almost completely – either through inefficiency, incompetence or corruption (and usually a mixture of the three). Certain offices exist, like law enforcement or tax collection but are simply a veneer for the greedy, corrupt and inept to hide within, playing the systems, lining their pockets and generally having an easy life. On the worlds of the system life is cheap; and the infrastructure is as good as the amount of charity existing within the hearts and minds of those who can afford to indulge in it. These types of systems are lawless backwaters where criminal scum thrive and prosper. Many of the criminals might even run the agencies of the SCA.
It is not uncommon to find mutant prejudice non-existent in such systems; there are other things to hate and exploit.
System Law Enforcement (SLE)
System Law Enforcement is the GCC’s police force, attending to everything the police forces of Earth attend to but clearly within the remit of a particular system and (supposedly) sensitive and sympathetic to the local conditions of that system. Known by a variety of names – Cops, Sleepers, the Heat, the Fuzz, the Filth – depending on the quality and character of the SLE, this is the uniformed and sometimes plain clothes, police service; a very, very thin blue line.
Two things can be depended upon where SLEs are concerned: they will be under-funded and over worked. In many cases they will be understaffed, under-trained, under-managed and under performing,too.
Where the SCA is of the Ultra-Authoritative kind, expect the SLE to mirror that authoritarianism with random cruelty, a delight in prosecuting even the slightest crimes, arrogance and an absolute, passionate, perhaps even murderous, hatred for Strontium Dogs. The SLE will not be any more effective because it is so fascistic; in fact, it is likely to be corruption-rife and populated by the kind of psychopaths who enjoy uniforms and ought to be the subject of Termination warrants.
In systems where the SCA is Struggling Heroically, expect the SLE to be just as under-funded, overworked and so forth but put a brave face on , work the long hours, suffer the indignities and Do Their Best. The officers are as efficient as they can be but realise that there are some crimes and criminals that are simply beyond their capabilities to stop. These SLEs do not like Strontium Dogs but see them as a necessary evil.
Where the SCA Might As Well Not Exist, the system police tend to be equally invisible: timid, office-bound and paperwork beleaguered. Chasing targets and issuing parking tickets is as strict as the regime gets; dealing with serious crime is simply something for specialists to do.
Strontium Dogs are viewed with ambiguity and often relief; these are the kinds of specialists the SLE rely upon – men and women with Big Guns and the guts to take on the scum of the universe and collect the reward. Meanwhile, the SLE counts beans and its blessings.
Local S/D Offices
Every system has an S/D office, usually at the headquarters of the SLE but sometimes a separate entity. SLE officers are usually drafted-in to staff the office, meaning that the amount of help S/D agents are given depends very much on prevailing levels of competence and prejudice. The routine is simple. When an S/D agent arrives on a world, he comes to the office, registers his presence and the warrant he is executing and what weapons he is carrying. The S/D office issues the necessary permits to comply with local laws or, if local law cannot be complied with (because some kinds of weapons are illegal, even for S/D agents), then the office acts as a depository for the weaponry, which is collected when the Strontium Dog leaves the world.
The S/D office also verifies the conclusion of the warrant and issues payment in folding money. It should therefore be the first port of call for every S/D agent and, sometimes, registration can be done in advance, meaning that the Strontium Dog can get on with the task of tracking down his quarry.