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The Crucible Campaign: The Brotherhood

The assimiliation of Zhodani citizens prompted the early Commonwealth government to accept certain customs and institutions that were specific to their culture that otherwise would not have found any general basis in the new shared culture. First and foremost were the Tavrchedl ("Defenders of our Morality") psionic surveillance units. Though the old Regency of Deneb, in its new embrace of psionics, had permitted the creation of police and intelligence units built around psionic surveillance, its laws and traditions strictly limited these forces to surveillance of persons and targets that were specifically listed or named in legal writs obtained from local courts under a mixture of local and Regency law for reasons mainly having to do with law enforcement.

But the Tavrchedl were used by the Zhodani in a broader public health manner, to survey against persons having "mental" disorders stemming from alienation or unhealthy psychological behavior. Given that the organization merely disguised the strongly xenophobic nature of the Zhodani psionicist thinking, the Commonwealth government had strong reservations about the continuance of the organization in their society. After years of contentious negotiations, the Commonwealth government accepted it only under strict guidelines that limited its search powers to persons in public view. Active surveillance of suspect individuals was only permitted under a court order, instigated by a public complaint or clear psionic impression of a serious mental health problem. This rigid process often collapsed in the field, with Tavrchedl units routinely exceeding their authority for quite understandable reasons. The precedent that the Commonwealth set in accepting these units created another problem. Once it had been legalized for one sovereign member-state, other states had begun creating their own units under the purview of their public health services, and were thus using loopholes to circumvent Covenantial protections.

The Commonwealth Senate and Assembly finally acted upon this problem in the early 60s. Under the Psionic Surveillance and Reporting Act of NE 63, all such official forces that used psionic surveillance for various reasons had to obey centralised protocols and legal precedents. Additionally, the Psionic Accreditation and Training Service (PATS) was established as a non-governmental service for overseeing the professional accreditation of psions used for public health monitoring. Because of their stereotypically mystical aura, and the public service nature of their profession, psions who served under PATS authority are known popularly as the Brotherhood. Every psion in the Commonwealth must already swear an oath to community authorities, and are obligated to uphold a code of ethics under penalty of law. Brotherhood psions must also obey a Hippocratic-style code of public service, and recognize the legal restrictions stipulated by Commonwealth, state and planetary legal codes.

The PATS is neither a government agency, nor an independent order, as the Commonwealth did not want power to collect dangerously in one agency. Nor is it a centralized body beyond the protocols established by the government. It is essentially a professional guild, similar to a planetary bar association or other agency that registers, licenses and oversees the professional conduct of their membership. Any psion who desires to practice their craft in public must subject themselves to the agencies' mandated path of training and accreditation before they will be issued the legal licenses that allow for them to use their talents and skills outside of legal private use. The governments of member federations are obligated to fund, staff and oversee the operations of each PATS chapter in their territory, in addition to normal laws protecting and regulating psionics. Nevertheless its protocols are powerful, and its enforcement powers over psions are extensive. Each chapter is mainly a regional committee of individuals, usually judges and other experienced persons with backgrounds in psionics and law, overseeing the operations of psions in a particular region or state. The sole power of the committee is the issuance of permits and licenses to psions. Assisting them is an independent investigative unit known as the Entropy Corps, which investigates complaints of agencies who abuse psions, or psions who abuse their powers. Below this committee are the regional psionic agencies and institutions, public or private, who do actual training and accreditation testing.

A Brotherhood psion is first and foremost a public servant, though the service that employs him or her varies. Usually this is a Tavrchedl-style public mental health monitoring service, or a local police or regulatory force. He or she is usually a telepath or clairvoyant used for surveillance purposes, has legally limited search powers, and must obey a transcendent code of rules to prevent manipulation or abuse by local authorities. Other Brotherhood psions include those who work in actual medical industries, therapists, detectives, coroners (necropathic technicians), academic research, intelligence gatherers, teleporting first responders and anything else where the information or access gained by psionic talent can lead to abuse or public/individual manipulation. Despite these limits, the broadening of legal psionic careers has led to a plethora of new psionic services, both natural and artificial, in planetary governments and the private market. This led to the enactment of a psionic amendment to the Bill of Rights to prevent exploitation of psions. Legally, a psion cannot actively probe the mind, or use any of their talents in any other way that impedes a person or their property, without a persons consent. Talents may be used in a legally defined "reasonable" manner, but exceeding these definitions permits an injured party to sue or seek civil restitution.

The areas of admission for psionics in the Commonwealth are vast, even greater in many cases than under the Zhodani's law. The advent of artificial psions using Beezer gear has greatly expanded the potentials for psionic abuse and misuse. The increasing ability to isolate the ability to conduct natural psionics is an even greater worry for the future. The most commonly encountered Brotherhood psions are usually working with local mental health agencies, or as so called "party scanners" who collect information on the general public mood or atmosphere in a community. Customs and immigrations also use large numbers of psions to scan for persons of potentially dangerous nature. Necropathic techs search the minds of dead persons for engrams to assist investigations of accidents or deaths by miscarriage of justice. Mnemonic Retrievers help recall dimly or vaguely remembered experiences for research, legal or personal reasons. Clairvoyant or Audient surveillance officers permit undetectable recording of conversations or meetings. Finally there exists all kinds of rogue individuals who have the means of using their abilities for rather nefarious purposes. All of these persons come under Brotherhood regulations and purview, with the last subject to severe criminal penalties.

Every psion must abide by a professional code of ethics stipulated by their chosen profession and PATS, and at higher levels the law. Abuse of psionic talents leads to various kinds of punishment, all stipulated by Commonwealth law. The most benign of punishment consists of losing licenses to practice a psionic talent in a professional manner. More severe punishment includes imprisonment, chemical lobotimization, "capping" with psi shields, and cold berth imprisonment. Psi talents are still sufficiently rare that the Commonwealth would rather use rehabilitation instead of more draconian punishment in most cases of misdemeanor or professional miscarriage. Felony acts committed with assistance from psionic talents are a different matter; in these cases the guilty persons are chemically lobotimized. Repeat or capital offenders lose their psionic talents permanently through chemical or surgical means. Felonies and other criminal activity committed by psions are handled by appropriate police authorities rather than PATS, though the latter has been known to interfere in local legal proceedings in some states.

The following talents are universally recognised in the Commonwealth as being psionic:

Talents not included in the above list are considered "Amygdala" or wild talents and are subject to more stringent testing, training and licensing requirements.

Brotherhood Careers