Vanguard Serial Crimes Unit (VASCU)
The only thing worse than our job is what happens if we don’t do it.
Serial murder is one of the crimes that most homicide squads hate. People who kill on more than one occasion have a fundamental disconnect with the normal human way of thinking. Even the best detectives and profilers can make mistakes, and those mistakes cost lives. If the police department believes the murderer to be a serial killer, it has the option of calling in some assistance.
The FBI maintains a specific unit of agents who deal with spree-killers, serial killers, and slashers. VASCU dispatches agents to assist police investigations, and maintains sleeper agents in the field. These agents look for evidence of all kinds of killers, from deranged sociopaths to supernatural terrors. Unlike other groups who hunt “monsters,” VASCU has one major benefit — and it’s also their greatest handicap. Vanguard agents are bound by the law, and that means bringing killers in to see a fair trial wherever possible. Modern America is pretty far from the Wild West, and lawmen can’t just shoot people they’re sure are killers — even if those killers can shrug off a fire ax to the skull.
Vanguard agents aren’t like any other FBI agents. Most of them have picked up the basics of criminal profiling, and most also know their way around a crime scene, but that doesn’t get anyone the amount of flexibility that the Bureau gives to VASCU. Every agent in the Unit is unique among the FBI. Why?
Because every agent is psychic. Criminal profilers claim they get into a killer’s head. A VASCU psychic does that directly, feeling everything that a killer feels. The best forensics teams can re-create what they think happened at a crime scene, but a Vanguard agent can stand at the scene and see the killer plying his deadly trade inside the theater macabre of his own mind.
The unique nature of its agents is VASCU’s little secret. Though every member of the unit is an FBI agent on paper, anywhere up to two-thirds of their membership would have failed the agency’s normal rigorous training. They get in through a loophole. The physical tests that prospective agents go through don’t just monitor heart-rate and blood pressure. They also test for psychic latency, scanning the subject’s brain-waves. Roughly one in every hundred prospective agents tests positive, and even if one of them fails the rest of her training, she’s still brought in to VASCU — assuming she’s not an unmerciful fuck-up.
Vanguard agents active in the Chicago area include:
Status in VASCU is a combination of formal rank within the department and the informal air of respect paid to a specific agent. While a high-profile collar is good work, the Director of Operations praises consistency over showboating.
• You applied to the FBI, and they told you that you’re psychic. They offered you a chance to sidestep the existing training and organizational regime and you took it — though the nature of the job is still a shock. Some of the paperwork is brain-crushing, but nobody can doubt the thrill of tracking down a real life serial killer and bringing him to justice. To help you toward that end, you have the option of spending Merit dots to unlock Teleinformatics abilities.
••• You’ve been at this for a while now. Either you were an agent in another unit who flagged positive for psychic potential during your last physical, an old-time member of the Serious Crimes Investigation Team who doesn’t know when to quit, or you were recruited for psychic power and put yourself through the full FBI training program. Regardless of how you did it, you hold full Special Agent status with the FBI and other agents respect you for it. You gain one extra dot of Status (FBI).
••••• People keep saying you should take an easier job, but you wouldn’t transfer to another department if they paid you. The hell with counter-terrorism operations, you know how serial killers tick, and you’ve probably faced at least one who ended up in Lansing. Among VASCU agents, you gain the benefit of the Inspiring Merit, whether or not you would normally qualify for it. If you already have the Merit, those who follow you regain two Willpower points instead of one.
A number of different departments fall under the umbrella of the Vanguard Serial Crimes Team. Some don’t see field assignments, whether they’re the archivists of the Violent Crime Research Team, or the scientists of the Neuro-Cognitive Research Team who research the powers unlocked by the Wintergreen Process.
The wild cards amongst the wild cards, the Field Liaison Department consists of agents who liaise with other “monster hunters.” All requests for a team of agents to work with a known killer come through this office to be approved, though in most cases the process is pretty much a rubber-stamp. Field Liaison agents join hunter cells under a number of cover stories, using their companions to arrest or kill supernatural murderers. Others act as the handlers for suicide squads of monster hunters released from prison. Agents tend to bend the rules in their favor whenever they can — it helps that they don’t spend too much time around other VASCU agents. A few focus on hunting monsters for being monsters, rather than because the monster has killed, through an agent needs to be careful that her fellows don’t think she’s gone rogue.
By far the largest department is the imaginatively named Operations Department. They’re the field agents, the people on the ground who research, investigate, and profile serial killers. At least seven out of every ten VASCU agents belong to the Operations Department, all the way up to the Director of Operations — the officer in charge of VASCU as a whole. While some agents have had extensive training either in prior law enforcement careers or as FBI agents, others in the department have no formal training and rely on their psychic potential and whatever techniques they can pick up from their fellow agents. Teams of Operations agents always have one long-serving agent attached simply so the others don’t drag the VASCU name — and by association the whole FBI — too far through the mud.
Though the FBI has never had an “X-Files” team, VASCU’s Special Project Department comes close. These agents specialize in the really extreme cases. Some burn with psychic power, pushing their brains to the point of breaking. Others don’t have the same degree of mental power, but have a knack for getting into killers’ minds. Special Projects takes on the really extreme cases — cases that would break other agents. A perp who flays her victims and wears their face in public, but everyone treats her as though she’s the person whose face she wears. Another never touches a single person — but every single person he talks to later kills in the throes of their worst vice. The agents who work Special Projects know every case they get risks breaking their minds, but they do it anyway — because leaving the killers out there isn’t something they can allow.