Substantiating rumors of the existence of the Black Order, the Emperor decreed in 305 AC the formation of the Black Hand: a daughter organization of a greater network of spies and agents working to further the cause of the Regalian Empire and Unionism, while serving only at the pleasure of the Emperor or higher State powers. The Black Hand was to be the Crown’s answer to increased criminal activities from the sewers, as well as stricter law enforcement regulations on freedom of movement by guards into the sewers. Many in the government view the Black hand as the more morally corrupt arm of the law, but are still happy for its existence, as it certainly increases the efficiency of law enforcement as a whole. The Black Hand takes its orders directly from the government liaison, the Crown Prince, who generates them from the other Curias. Thus, while the Regalian Guard and other law enforcement cannot reach into the Regalian Sewers or foreign nations, the Black Hand can, and will go on missions to deal with criminal elements who in turn reached out to the surface world.
With the government reforms of 305 AC initiated by Cedromar I, the Crown cautiously revealed to the public the greater existence of a Black Order, an unofficial ring of spies and rogues who serve the Emperor’s personal subterfuge needs. The Emperor however deflected attention away from that revelation by announcing the creation of the Black Hand, an organization subservient to the Black Order which was to function as Regalia’s secret service and special forces in times of need. The Emperor allocated part of his personal Palace budget to the creation of this organization, and appointed a Yanar by the name of Nadina Haaven, much to the surprise of the other military leaders, to function as the Principal Secretary of the Black Hand. Furthermore, he appointed his own son, the Crown Prince, as the liaison of the Consul Reichsrat for the Black Hand. As such, the Black hand had formally been established, and recruitment would begin in earnest.
Later that same year, an incident during a local trial resulted in the Principal Secretary Nadina Haaven being stripped of her position. A new leader was henceforth appointed, but unlike the previous initiation, were never revealed to the public. To this day, the Black Hand Operatives can still be seen wandering the city during times of crisis, yet their new Principal Secretary, and every following leader, remains eerily unknown.
The organization of the Black Hand is fairly flat; it has a liaison of the government that functions as a communication line between the various government institutions and the Black Hand, and a Principal Secretary who has effectively control over everything within the Black Hand. Every other member of the Black Hand is simply a Black Hand Operative, a member who fulfills the missions issued by the Principal Secretary. There is also an unofficial rank within the Black Hand reserved for those who do not act as Operatives, but as information brokers or spies. These individuals are often recruited directly, do not become an official part of the hierarchy, but send reports of spy information to the Principal Secretary. These individuals are called Black Doves, and their reports are filtered by the Principal Secretary to decide which ones are valid or dangerous enough to alert other government institutions of. There are a number of limitations and rights granted to the Black Hand members, as detailed below:
- Black Hand members can be of any race, age, gender or disposition.
- Black Hand members must be approved by the Principal Secretary of the Black Hand.
- Black Hand members must undergo a combat proficiency test before being approved.
- Black Hand members are given weapon and armor permits for open carry, but are told to conceal.
- Black Hand members will be given safehouse destinations in their operating areas.
- Black Hand members may not be part of any other Organization.
- Black Hand members must obey all orders by the Principal Secretary, and can be dismissed at any time for any reason by said person.
The Black Hand operates in so called Safe Houses in various operating theatres. These Safe Houses make use of expertly designed so called Walker Locks which cannot be lock picked with conventional tools, are heavy enough to resist brute force, and are also laced with Lapis to avoid magical interference. Their bases are often filled with boobytraps, though provide a safe haven for extraction and resting in between missions. That being said, Black Hand Operatives barely gather in safe houses, as they are primarily used to escape detection or assault, and Black Hand Operatives should avoid making it obvious where their bases are, or who they are working with. The Black Hand has no formal above ground base or headquarters. The Paperwork is centrally stored in some backroom department of the Bureaucracy which has no effective papertrail. All these acts are taken to ensure the safety of the Black Hand and its members.
The recruitment process for the Black Hand is fairly obscure. Since the Principal Secretary is not known to the general public, prospective Operatives must use their deduction skills to seek out the potential leader, or any individuals who could offer them clues. If this is not possible, they must find some other means to prove themselves and have their ambitions heard by the elusive Order. Approval or rejection is decided solely by the Principal Secretary, who may choose to run any number of tests to assess the candidate's skills and loyalty to the Empire. Most commonly, Operatives are invited rather than recruited.
Note: Due to the IC nature of the recruitment steps, recruitment must entirely occur IC. There are no threads in which you can apply for the Black Hand.
The activities of the Black Hand are divided into certain actions called Acts. These Acts are specifically designed in a way that it very concisely states what must be done, as these Acts make the members of the Black Hand immune to the law while they are deployed. For every Act, the Principal Secretary will define a deadline number of days, and for the duration of these days the Black Hand Operates are immune to the law, either when a specific set of them are assigned to a mission, or when all of them are dedicated to solving a bigger problem. Note, the content and regulations of these Acts are not public to anyone but Black Hand Operatives. When confronted with regular authority, Operatives have a specific Black Hand badge that they can show to avoid prosecution. These badges are only handed out when on missions.
- Act One: Retrieval. In Retrieval, the Black Hand Operatives must retrieve an individual from a kidnapping situation, often the Sewers. This involves the Operatives receiving information from the Black Doves or the Principal Secretary to ascertain the location of the kidnapped individual, and then to mount a rescue.
- Act Two: Dismissal. In Dismissal, the Black Hand Operatives must eliminate a targeted individual, often a criminal element. This is simply a fancier term used for a cold blooded assassination. (Note, Dismissal Acts do not circumvent Death Rules, the target may reject Kill Perms).
- Act Three: Sabotage. In Sabotage, the Black Hand Operatives either sabotage, or plant evidence of underhanded conduct to expose someone falsely. This is entirely done to eliminate a political problem, or to defame a potential source of issues for the Government.
- Act Four: Enforcement. In Enforcement, the Black Hand Operatives either blackmail, aggress or threaten a person into being more pliant and compatible with their other missions or desires. This is often also seen as asset acquisition, and can also involve creating moles in foreign organizations.
- Act Five: Information. This is technically what the Black Doves are recruited specifically to do at all times. They must keep their ears open passively and report information directly to the Principal Secretary in case they find something interesting. It can however also be issued as a mission specifically to Operatives, and is generally the default mission for Operatives when they do not engage in any other Act. That being said, being on this mission does not grant them Law immunity.
- Despite being a spy ring organization, and needing a level of secrecy, there is a strong bond among the Operatives to be part of a family dealing with the dirty business of the Empire for the greater good.
- Black Hand members are often despised by the Regalian Guard, as they sometimes do the same work, but through dishonest means, and furthermore have no limitations placed on their ability to execute their missions.
- Black Hand as a name refers to the fact that the Black Order often delegates its work to information only, and as such, sees the Black Hand as its principal daughter organization that can act where it cannot.