|“||Recluse was ingenious. He's had Arachnos gathering psychic children for years, - They mind-control themselves, then link themselves to the other Bane Spiders. They are a vast network of self oppression, designed to enforce its own loyalty.||„|
|~ Dr. Nova about the Seer Network.|
The Seer Network is a group and a branch of the government used to control and regulate brainwaves in the MMO City of Heroes. There are in-fact two Seer Networks, one in the main/Primal world of City of Heroes that was created by Lord Recluse for his organization of Arachnos; The second one is a branch of Marcus Cole's government in the alternate reality of Praetoria. Both realities have in essence the same form of organization, however Lord Recluse and Tyrant both apply the Seer's talents differently.
Arachnos Seer Network
On Primal Earth, the Seer Network was forged after the death of Lord Recluse's right-hand woman and lover, Red Widow. Red Widow had helped Recluse rise to the top of Arachnos by killing the previous leader of Arachnos Weaver-One allowing Recluse to claim the reigns of the organization for himself and thus declaring himself "Lord Recluse". Because she was instrumental in his coup, Lord Recluse sent Red Widow out on most high-risk assignments. Red Widow would eventually meet her end at the hands of the cultists known as the Circle of Thorns, this yielded two major Arachnos policies; the first was that the Circle of Thorns were put on Arachnos's most wanted list and one of the few villains Arachnos would never negotiate with, leading them to simply shoot on sight any of the mad mystics, the second major policy was the creation of the Seer Network. Lord Recluse, in addition to being emotionally invested in Red Widow, also saw her as a valuable resource his organization should not have had to exist without and so, whether in memoriam or just as a back-up plan, Lord Recluse commissioned a training regiment of normal Arachnos soldiers into Seers, training them in the style of Red Widow.
The Widow Program
Arachnos began mentally screening for any soldiers with even the slightest of a sixth sense. In the early 90s Arachnos recruited all females as their seers, as women seemed to take to the training easier than men, if only slightly, though in the mid 2000s training techniques eventually made gender lines meaningless and males were introduced to the program too. The program focused on augmenting the inactive psychic parts of the brain in normal humans to the point where they could preform feats such as telepathy, hypnotic suggestion, telekinesis and precognition. Since the program was always looking to fill it's ranks with human candidates who had even the slightest of second sight, any outright mutants born with psychic powers in the Rogue Isles were also gathered up by Arachnos to be inducted into the program. Some women were titled Widows, these were soldiers who had psychic powers but were also capable assassins that used their powers to accent their other skills in stealth and perception. Any Seer not made into a Widow would be made into a Fortunata, less martially trained than normal Widows but making-up-for-it by being completely devoted to their training as master mentalists.
The Seer Net
Having an army of psychic soldiers all trained in the style of his fallen right-hand was not good enough for Lord Recluse, as he saw a much greater use for the Seers than just as a psychic extension of his military. To ensure the seers and normal soldiers both received reliable training, could coordinate easily and would never betray him, Lord Recluse extended the Seer program and crafted the Seer Network. The Seer Network was a constant telepathic signal broadcasted from the minds of all Arachnos's Seers at once. The telepathic net ensured all the seers could communicate with each-other at anytime it also emphasized Lord Recluse as the highest priory of their collective consciousnesses, creating an underlying loyalty in the same way it had induced psychic powers. If any Seers had dissenting thoughts, their minds were quickly corrected by the collective, erasing even the slightest of rebellious notions. The Seer Network not only prevented rebellion and provided superior coordination, it also made attempts to infiltrate or sway the seers an impossibility, deflecting things like mind-control, possession or telepathic eavesdropping. Once the Seer Network had proven it's value for training and protecting his psychic soldiers, Lord Recluse decided to extend the Seer Net to even normal soldiers. Seers in Arachnos not only connect their own minds to the Seer Network but also link to any local high ranking soldiers. Between all the seers, the Seer Net can easily project the minds of their non-psychic squad-mates into the net with them, allowing even normal soldiers to hear direct orders from Lord Recluse from halfway around the world if need-be and enforcing the same loyalty in them as it did in the seers.
Lower ranking soldiers are not part of the Seer Network and are given time to work their way up through the succeed-or-die training of the Rogue Isles, shaping and disciplining them before exposing them to the Net. While most see the Seer Network, in addition to being a boon, as a form of brainwashing, it is impossible to rise in rank without being inducted into the Seer Network. No matter how much a solider advances their skills, the Aracnhos policy remains -no Seer Network, no promotion- this leads almost all soldiers to choose to let themselves be exposed to brainwashing to advance their careers and authority. The Seer Net's policy of making it mandatory for all those wishing to advance in rank, easily keeps any saboteurs from getting to a position of power where they could undermine Arachnos from the inside. Any spies or dissenters are either spotted and killed or psychically dominated, turning the spies into double-agents for Arachnos it-self.
The Seer Net is run by Ghost Widow, who sets the mental outline of the program. Ghost Widow is incapable of disloyalty her-self due to being a literal ghost, whose unfinished business is service of Arachnos, this means the very thing that binds her spirit to the world also prevents it from any form of disloyalty to Lord Recluse, making her a reliable administrator of the program. Though all the Widows and Fortunatas contribute to the Seer Net, Ghost Widow is programed as the collective's architect and all members place Lord Recluse as their supreme commander, even though Lord Recluse himself is not actually psychic. Though the program creates a subconscious under-current of complete loyalty to Lord Recluse, the seers and soldiers still possess their own desires, reasoning and thoughts, they are just unable to form any thoughts of treachery. With the program, Arachnos's armies are kept completely loyal, mentally shielded and can coordinate massive and complex attack plans in the seconds it takes to think them up.
Praetoria Seer Network
|“||Warning: Hostile thought patterns manifesting.||„|
|~ Katie Douglas, a psychic enslaved to the Seer Network|
In Praetoria the Seer Network was the brainchild of Mother Mayhem, the Praetoria's evil version of the Primal Earth heroine, Sister Psyche'. Mother Mayhem serves the supreme ruler of Praetoria, Emperor Marcus Cole AKA "Tyrant", Praetoria's evil version of the Primal Earth hero, Statesman. Marcus Cole seized control of the world after Praetoria's battle with Hamidon, declaring the governments of the past too corrupt and weak to look after the people of the world and stepping in to take control himself as the hero who had defeated Hamidon. In truth Cole, Mother and the other Praetors had in-fact ended the war by making a pact with Hamidon, allowing it to control the wilderness of the world if the humans kept to their few remaining cities, thus giving Hamidon complete control of nature and Cole complete control of humanity, each using the other as the ally they pretended to hate. The arrangement with Hamidon still provided Cole with most of the power he needed to, as he saw it, bring order to the failings of humanity, in this quest he appointed the strongest meta-humans who fought by his side in the war as his Praetors.
Mother was assigned to organize a way to keep the people from rebelling outright and subjugating the masses, keeping them passive. Mother came up with the idea of augmenting normal humans with the slightest of a sixth sense and mutant psychics' minds until they became a well trained and organized army of powerful psychics. Mother not only enforced loyalty, she stripped all those trained as seers of any individuality whats-so-ever. Though each seer in Mother's network has their own senses and reasoning their judgment is just an extension of Mother. To ensure complete subjugation, Mother Mayhem completes Seer training by planting a psychic copy of herself in each seer's mind, making the Seer Net a collection of duplicate consciousnesses spread out over Praetoria. Mother draws power from each mind under her sway, allowing her to extend her own will to each one without danger of stretching her attention too thin, thus the Seer Network seems to have no limit and can continue to grow and grow.
Like Arachnos the Praetorian Seers extend to non-psychics as well; Praetorian law-officers are connected to the Seer Net and given high priority to ensure a clear chain of command, non-psychic civilians were also connected to the Seer Net but not directly and hold no sway in the system. The minds of normal civilians are monitored and pacified, to keep most of the people from thinking disloyal thoughts, however between the psychic copies, soldiers and mass telepathic sensory network the Seer Net can not extend to change and alter all the citizens of Praetoria and a few dissident minds do escape through the cracks. Because of the many, many minds needed to be kept subjugated, the Praetorian Seer Net can only alter civilians who have no strong opinions one way or the other and can not extend to rebels and active combatants, unless said combatants are brought in one by one to be "reeducated".
Troublemakers and criminals are not sent to jail but rather to the B.A.F.- Behavioral Adjustment Facility. The BAF screens for any potential new seers and focuses on turning the rest brought in, into mindlessly passive "healthy" citizens. The BAF is a formal brainwashing facility and as such occasionally encounters those too strong willed to break through normal reprogramming methods. The Praetorian Resistance, frequently tries to break-out those stuck behind the BAF's walls and while they are able to orchestrate occasional breakouts, they rarely can get out more than a hand-full at a time and so must prioritize their targets carefully. Even when successfully breaking-out their people, some freed Resistance members have experienced permanent brain-damage ranging from eccentricities, to insanity, to outright comas. Still the BAF is considered a paradise compared to where prisoners could end up, the Mother of Mercy Mental Hospital...
Once a seer is identified in the BAF they are dragged off to work with Mother herself. In the Mother of Mercy Hospital, patients are completely broken down, Mother psychically lobotomized her potential seers, cutting out all their fears, independence, ambitions and memories and then constructing psychic copies of herself in the shells of their minds. Not only are potential seers from the BAF sent to the Mother of Mercy but also normal men and women whose wills are unwavering to the BAF's standard brainwashing techniques and need to be broken down entirely. Only one person has ever escaped the Mother of Mercy Mental Hospital, Calvin Scott, who broke out when his beloved Aurora was selected from among the staff by Mother and possessed as her main host when her original body was injured. Calvin believes the love of Aurora and the large amount of concentration Mother needed to focus while permanently anchoring herself to Aurora, was what enabled him to evaded the otherwise omniscient seers to make his breakout. Calvin Scott would go on to be the leader of the Resistance and cautioned them of the terrors that went on behind the Mother of Mercy's walls. Other than the unique case of Calvin Scott none have ever gotten out of the Mother of Mercy with their mind's intact once they set foot inside. Once patients emerge they are either loyal psychic avatars of Mother with no will or emotions of their own or mindlessly happy civilians with no memories or personality of their previous selves, as a result Resistance members consider being sent to the asylum to be a fate far worse than death and completely irreversible, as such BAF break-out usually occur when prisoners are scheduled for transfer, prompting the Resistance to act fast to prevent them from reaching the Mother of Mercy Mental Hospital at all costs.
Arachnos Seers versus Praetorian Seers
Though both groups are referred to as Seers and are trained the same way in each reality, each has it's own capabilities and limitations based entirely on how they are run. While Praetoria's Seers are more intrical to the rule of their government they have nowhere close to the mental shielding capabilities of their Primals counterparts. Arachnos seers apply the Seer Network to less people but those that are in the Net are immune to outside psychic influence rather than dominated by it. Though Lord Recluse is a megalomaniacal outright villain and Emperor Cole is a well meaning, if delusionally so, extremist, ironically Arachnos's Seer Network is less controlling, focusing on enforcing loyalty to those who have voluntarily signed up for Arachnos while the Praetoria seers are more focused on subjugating the wills of any who would oppose their leader, functioning more as a slave army.
When Emperor Cole heard of the alternate reality of Primal Earth he began organizing a campaign to invade and "bring order to the chaos of the alternate world". Once Praetoria began researching travel to Primal Earth and getting ready their invasion force Calvin Scott decided to fight fire with fire and had his own teams make contact with anyone who could help in the alternate reality. Calvin thought he had contacted the heroes of Primal Earth but soon found his contact, Lord Recluse, was an outright super-villain, however Calvin still considered Lord Recluse to be less oppressive than Emperor Cole and continued negotiation with him, promising Arachnos ties to whatever new government was formed once the Praetors were defeated. As a result of the alliance Lord Recluse sent detachments into Praetoria to aid the Resistance. When Arachnos seers were encountered by the Praetorian seers the Praetorains were shocked to find that while the Arachnos Seer Network was not being used to convert new members it prioritized mental fortitude and their minds were completely impenetrable, protected by the combined wills of the collective and even extending to the Resistance members under their protection. The Praetorian Seer Network considers Arachnos's Seer Network to be their single greatest threat from Primal Earth, as their otherwise solid method of mental domination can not apply to them, furthermore the Praetorians consider super-villainy to be the main reason to oppress the wills of others in the first place. Arachnos, on the other hand, considers the Praetorian Seer Network impressively applied but do not consider the effort expelled worth diminishing their mental barriers, this is in addition to being fundamentally opposed to the idea of complete mental subjugation, as the organization considers free-will essential to their Darwinian philosophy.