|“||The Reds, industrious little dudes, that they were, they were trying to breed their own super-soldiers, ya know? "In Soviet Russia, science makes you!".||„|
|~ Dr. Charles Zurn|
The Red Hand is a defunct organization in the M.M.O. The Secret World. Known as the Soviet Union's occult warfare division, the government agency turned secret society was once the driving force behind Russia's dealings with the Secret World, pioneering in supernatural genetics, robotics, and even space travel. Though they were considered a rival super-power to the Templars, Illuminati and The Dragon, the Red Hand was ultimately dependent on the U.S.S.R., and the collapse of the Soviet Union quickly led to the society's demise.
Given their immense importance to the Soviet Union's military development, the Red Hand commanded influence in the highest echelons of government, and was in turn allowed considerable leeway in pursuing their goals. Despite their apparent subservient to the U.S.S.R., they possessed the authority to direct and administrate the affairs of several allied countries, such as Romania, East Germany, and Mongolia; they even had influence in Greece and China. Like the other great secret societies, the Red Hand had its own way of doing things: in territory directly under their control, caring for local citizenry was a minor concern at best, with barely the faintest lip service paid to the idea; people were little more than resources to be exploited when necessary and discarded when inconvenient. As such, the Red Hand became notorious for its use of human test subjects over the course of its experiments, with at least one facility earning the name "The Slaughterhouse" for the many casualties that occurred behind its walls. However, because of the society's influence, few of these abuses were ever investigated unless any of them became grounds for a potential security breach.
Whereas the Templars strove to annihilate evil wherever they found it, the Illuminati aimed to force their way to the top of "Darwin's ladder," and the Dragon aspired to become real-world engineers of fate, the Red Hand devoted itself to the future of the Soviet Union. Having emerged from government programs rather than the millennia of history that led to the development of the other secret societies, they maintained a single-minded focus on ensuring the U.S.S.R.'s supremacy through science, technology and even magic.
To this end, they acquired agents from countless fields: professional black-ops teams, crackpot scientists, rogue magicians, and many others - including the super-soldiers acquired from their own labs. They even claim to have poached Nikola Tesla from the Illuminati's potential recruitment drive (forcing the Illuminati to settle for Thomas Edison instead, a fact that Kirsten Geary bemoans to this day). Tesla's technology was particularly advantageous to the Red Hand, as it allowed them to generate electromagnetic fields capable of isolating areas from spy satellites and telepathic voyeurism, ensuring that their facilities would remain hidden.
At one point, the Red Hand actually attempted to do what no other society had done before, and invade Agartha - presumably for use in mounting a larger invasion of the Soviet Union's enemies across the globe. Known commonly as the Hollow Earth, Agartha is an inter-planar nexus that allows those touched-by-Gaia (awakened with super-powers like the player) to travel from one point of the globe to another in a matter of minutes. Anyone not touched by Gaia is said to go mad upon entering, and most entrances to Agartha are guarded by Gaia's servants ("The Bees," literal magical bees) in an effort to prevent innocents from being harmed by premature exposure to the Hollow Earth. The three main societies all know of Gaia, as they recruit many of their agents from those awakened by the Bees, and all are familiar with Agartha as a rapid travel system: they all respect Gaia to a degree, and know not to spit in the eye of one of their main resources. The Red Hand, however, did not share this respect - likely because they were unable to acquire any Gaia-touched individuals to study.
Needless to say,the Red Hand's attempts to claim Agartha ended in disastrous failure: the Red Hand agents were almost all massacred. Of the thousands sent, barely a handful returned, most of them half dead and/or insane. Though their plans of taking the Hollow Earth were cancelled, the Red Hand did gain a consolation prize in the form of at least two Custodians - the giant technological golems used to protect Agartha from invaders. After reworking the deactivated Custodians to their specifications, they set them to work patrolling Red Hand facilities, securing them for future projects. Only two Red Hand re-branded Custodians are ever encountered in The Secret World: one in Facility 9, a facility dedicated to inter-planar/interstellar travel, and Facility 10 (AKA the Slaughterhouse), a facility dedicated to developing super-soldiers.
Installations And Incidents
|“||The goal of the program is to create the first voyager. Not someone who floats in a suit mere mind-miles from the Earth, no: someone to explore the inner-outer reaches.||„|
|~ Halina Ilyushin|
Hidden under a Soviet observatory in rural Transylvania, Facility 9 was built to further the U.S.S.R.'s ambitions in the Space Race, with most of its programs concerned with interstellar travel - particularly those that might outdo the United States' space program. Potential cosmonauts from all over the Soviet Union were brought to the Facility for testing and training, including an ambitious young girl by the name of Halina Ilyushin. At first, Halina and the others believed they were being trained as conventional astronauts, and that may well have been the original intent of the program, but when the U.S. won the race to the Moon, the Red Hand pushed their test subjects to a more ambitious goal: inter-dimensional travel. Unknown to them, Halina and the others had been selected not only for their potential as astronauts, but for their latent psychic powers: over the course of the experiments, they were given infusions of anima, the life-force of Gaia, and taught to psychically detect and manipulate it at will. Unfortunately, the effects were too subtle to be of any use, and Red Hand were under pressure from the Soviet Chairman to produce immediate results, prompting the scientists to also infuse Halina and her fellow test subjects with what they called anti-anima - The Filth. In the ensuing chaos, almost everyone in the facility was killed, forcing the Red Hand to abandon the program and seal the base shut.
Unknown to them, however, the facility was still active. Of all the test subjects, Halina alone had survived the infusions and become the "Phantom Cosmonaut" that the Red Hand had sought; she remained trapped in the facility, alone except for the Contact Core, the laboratory's resident Artificial Intelligence. Unwilling to give up her dream of travelling the cosmos, she was ultimately corrupted by the Filth, driven to obsession and madness by the whispers of The Dreamers; promised the chance to explore the horizons of reality, she gladly allied herself with the Dreamers. By the time the player arrives at the Facility, the infusions of Anima is the only thing that keeps Halina lucid; internally, however, she is lost to the Dreamers, consumed by their whispers and her dreams of seeing the stars.
|“||Comrades, welcome to Facility 10. Know that the Red Hand appreciates your continued support within the Party. Yes, the Presidium has concerns over what they call our "slaughterhouse," but you will see we are making great advances in the hybrid soldier program...||„|
|~ The Slaughterhouse's Pre-Recorded Tour Guide.|
Like Facility 9, Facility 10 was situated in Romania, hidden deep under the Carpathian Mountains. However, it differed substantially in purpose, having been established to produce super-soldiers for the Russian army. It was quickly nicknamed "the Slaughterhouse" by the Red Hand's critics among the Soviet government, in part due to the vast numbers of test-subjects consumed over the course of experiments: hundreds of disgraced soldiers, mental patients, political prisoners, failed cosmonauts, and even a few volunteers were shipped into the Facility as "bio-energy potential" and never seen again.
Upon discovering the existence of vampires, the Red Hand sought out the most powerful strains of vampirism, eventually following the bloodline back to Romania. Here, Mara, celebrated queen of vampires and daughter of Lilith, had established a feeding ground violent enough to get the attention of Nicolae Ceaușescu's securitate. Despite the danger, the Red Hand sent one of its most accomplished magicians to make contact with Mara and offer her a partnership; though Mara happily drained the messenger dry, she accepted their offer nonetheless. To that end, she supplied her new allies with as many vampires as she could spare, to be used as biological material in the Red Hand's attempts to create a super-soldier. It is unknown what Mara was initially promised as payment, but whatever it was, she wasn't interested in it: Mara's real intent was to obtain an army of vampire super-soldiers on behalf of Lilith.
Though the scientists were successful in creating super-soldiers through forced application of modified vampire genes, the drawbacks were immediately obvious: though immune to sunlight and possessed of all the physical strengths they'd hoped for, the hybrid soldiers were left hideously distorted by the experiments, their overblown musculature and massive frames making them easy targets for enemy snipers and artillery. Worse still, the hybrids were often violent and incapable of rational thought; most of them could only be controlled through the mental powers of military psychics.
Over the decades, research and development continued, but the Soviet Government gradually lost interest in the program. With less oversight from their Soviet masters, the Red Hand grew lax and inattentive - until several subjects escaped from the Slaughterhouse, massacring their way across Eastern Europe and finally getting government attention once again. Unwilling to channel the U.S.S.R.'s resources into purging the Slaughterhouse for fear of another outbreak, the Soviet Premier ordered the facility sealed with everyone still inside.
Unfortunately, the base was almost completely self-sufficient by then, and the lockdown merely allowed the scientists to continue their work in peace; by then, many of them had been infected by the very strains of vampirism they'd been studying, and an eternity of research without constraints seemed an attractive prospect. Through the following decades, they continued producing ever-more vicious specimens of vampires, oblivious to the fall of the Red Hand and the end of Soviet rule, until Mara finally returned to claim her army - thus setting the stage for The Secret World's third act, "Mortal Sins."
Hell's RowIn Transylvania, on the edge of the area known as the Shadowy Forest, there is a region known only as "Hell's Row," the fiery remnants of what was once a small town. A few crashed planes with Red Hand insignia can be found in the nearby area, along with orders directly connecting Red Hand interference with a large-scale infestation of demons across Hell's Row. From what little evidence remains, the Red Hand had been trying to conduct some form of experiment with inter-dimensional travel, only to end up establishing a dimensional link to Hell.
Lore throughout the game posits that demons are residents of a perpetually dying set of realities known as the Hell Dimensions. Anxious to acquire Anima to sustain their dimension and equally anxious to escape their monstrous homeland, demons frequently make bargains with humans in exchange for their Anima-rich souls - or at the very least, a chance to experience Earth. Little is known of what actually happened to Hell's Row, but the area is dotted with dimensional rifts wide enough to impose the Hellish environment over the town, reducing most of it to perpetually-burning ruins in the process. The only building left standing is the local tavern, where a stable portal to Hell has been established. Further investigation of the Red Hand aircraft reveals that most of them were destroyed by demonic weaponry.
The player's handlers confirm that whatever occurred, the Red Hand delved too deep in the wrong direction and gave the Hell Dimension's inhabitants an avenue for escape - killing the locals and obliterating the Hand's scientists in the process. Exactly what the Soviets were intending to do remains a mystery: perhaps they were attempting to invade Hell just as they'd tried to invade Agartha - only for Hell to make a counter-offensive. All that is certain is that the Red Hand intentionally pierced the veil between Earth and Hell, and there is no one alive left to tell the tale.
Deep within the Shadowy Forest itself, the Red Hand successfully established a modest facility concealed at the base of the waterfall from which it draws its name. As with most Soviet bases in the area, the facility quickly became a laboratory for conducting preternatural experiments, and though the full extent of their plans remains a mystery due to a lack of surviving documents, one of their more ambitious projects is still in evidence: having decided to continue Facility 9's attempts at conventional space travel, the Red Hand's scientists sought out a means of sustaining their astronauts indefinitely on minimal supplies. Perhaps inspired by the Slaughterhouse's pact with Mara, they eventually decided to make use of vampires in this program, grandly foreseeing an army of immortal cosmonauts traversing outer space on compact blood diets and colonizing distant planets in the name of the Soviet Union.
However, the project was a failure. Though they were successful in acquiring a vampire test subject for their experiments, he proved more powerful than the scientists had anticipated: prior to his capture, Janos Dragosani had been one of the most dangerous vampires in all of Romania, his power ultimately necessitating a specially-designed holding chamber known as "The Crypt." Given the Red Hand's disastrous attempts at creating vampire super soldiers, their attempts at creating vampire astronauts likely went the same way. Though it is not known whether the project ended due to a disastrous outbreak or simply a lack of consistent success, the end result remains the same: the project was shut down and the Hatchet Falls base abandoned, like Facility 9 and the Slaughterhouse before it.
Much like its predecessors, however, the abandoned base was not left entirely vacant. Decades after the collapse of the Red Hand and the Soviet Union, the Orochi Group discovered the Hatchet Falls base and decided to use it as a way station for captives en route to the Nursery in the Carpathian Mountains. However, while renovating the base, they quickly discovered that Janos Dragosani was still alive and active within the Crypt; recognizing his power and knowing that they might not be capable of destroying the ancient vampire if the need arose, they decided (for once) not to tamper with his restraints.
Dragosani is still alive within the Crypt when the player investigates the Hatchet Falls base during Issue 7.
For all its resources, ambitions and far-reaching influence, the Red Hand was still just a government program, dependent on both the approval and the survival of the U.S.S.R. for continued existence. Ultimately, the many failures and atrocities of the Red Hand became too egregious for even the Soviet Government to tolerate, and the once-unlimited budgets allocated to their scientists were suddenly revoked, along with administrative rights to allied territories, and the carte blanche they'd been allowed in the past. In the end, the mass-outbreak from the Slaughterhouse destroyed the Red Hand's credibility once and for all: many of the group's leaders were forced to defect to the Illuminati - or risk being imprisoned or even executed for gross incompetence. Scientists and magicians throughout the Hand, suddenly finding themselves under the watchful eyes of the KGB, were forced to destroy their own work in a desperate attempt to disguise reckless experimentation or criminal negligence - with mixed success.
In the end, the once-mighty Red Hand was reduced to a shadow of its former glory, too restrained by government oversight to accomplish any of its scientific ambitions. Eventually, even that was lost in the fall of the Soviet Union, with the few functional remnants of the Red Hand being dissolved to make way for the new government. Fearing prosecution for crimes against humanity, the most prominent of the Red Hand's scientists and magicians fled the country, eventually being assimilated into the Illuminati and the Phoenicians, offering their expertise in exchange for leniency and wealth.
By the start of the game, the Red Hand has been long-since rendered defunct, though the remnants of the society can still be found throughout Transylvania as relics of a by-gone age - to be appropriated by the player's faction.