This page is full of spoilers, so if you're a player you probably shouldn't read them, or you should at least talk to your gamemaster before doing so.
The origins of Project Ozma date to the first modern SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) experiments in the mid-20th century. That experiment—also named Project Ozma—grew into a larger, international concerted effort to try and locate and identify ETIs; a myriad of projects blossomed during this time period, all falling under the general SETI nomenclature. While initially government funded, by the late 20 th century and early 21 st century the work was primarily funded by private sources.
The first hypercorps to expand into space swallowed SETI whole, revitalizing and refocusing the decades-old programs with newly emergent technologies, each in divergent areas to achieve a particular hypercorp’s objectives. After all, if the bean counters were going to authorize the spending of billions to expand markets into space, they wanted assurances that no little green monsters were waiting to destroy future revenue streams.
As with other organizations that survived the Fall, the broad distribution of SETI projects between multiple hypercorps guaranteed that personnel, technologies, and processes would survive, even if a given hypercorp did not. As the Planetary Consortium rose in power, future-minded individuals in influential positions within the new order ensured that these divergent projects were once again swallowed and put to work.
During this transitional period, however, knowledge of the exsurgent virus’s existence emerged. All of the various SETI projects were retasked as a unified agency and renamed Project Ozma. While the virus’s origins remained a mystery at the time, far too many of the movers and shakers of the Consortium were convinced that the exsurgent virus represented first contact. Project Ozma altered its focus from searching for ETIs, transforming into a ready-response agency to deal with first contact. As the true threat of the exsurgent virus became known, Project Ozma was rapidly elevated in scope and oversight authority, absorbing numerous smaller agencies in the process. While the nominal concepts of a SETI project remained in public view, the completely transformed Project Ozma vanished from sight, turned into a highly classified black-budget operation, with very few even in the Planetary Consortium aware of its presence or influence.
Project Ozma now operates as the Planetary Consortium’s high-level threat assessment and response organization with immense power and authority as well as almost unlimited funding. Primarily focused on extraterrestrials, in reality Project Ozma is tasked with any potent threat to the Planetary Consortium or its interests (which includes secret threat groups, such as Firewall).
Project Ozma’s internal structure is much different from Firewall’s, being organized more like a traditional black ops spy agency bureaucracy. While their field operations are sometimes similar in the deployment of teams to assess, contain, or erase threats, they also have the resources and personnel to conduct more long-term and extensive operations. It is likely that Project Ozma operates behind numerous front groups, from legitimate-seeming hypercorps to criminal syndicates, and that they have influence within many others. Given their connections and reach, Project Ozma is far more capable of pulling strings behind the scenes to get what they want, especially in the inner system. When circumstances call for it, they are more likely to pull out the big guns than Firewall is, using their resources to call up communication blackouts, memetic propaganda campaigns, and force sufficient to wipe out entire habitats.
Gamemasters should treat Project Ozma as the ultimate Men-in-Black style government operation. They are cunning, ruthless, manipulative, and capable of hatching extensive long-term plots. Even in an age of omnipresent surveillance, they have the means to operate with complete secrecy and deniability. They also have access to cutting-edge science and information that is classified beyond top secret. While the organization’s primary motivation is the protection of the Planetary Consortium and inner system, they undoubtedly have other hidden agendas that groups like Firewall can only guess at.
Sidebar: Project OZMA Rumors
Whether true or not, gamemasters can use the following rumors to help tailor Project Ozma for their campaign.
- Project Ozma transcends even the Planetary Consortium’s authority, operating as a supra-governmental agency under the direction of the inner system’s inner circle of elites.
- Project Ozma dealt with the Factors first, before their presence was made known to the rest of transhumanity.
- Project Ozma has captured a live Factor for their own experimental purposes.
- Project Ozma is still in communication with and/or working for the TITANs.
- Project Ozma has a pet TITAN under their control.
- Project Ozma is behind the interdiction of Earth.
- Project Ozma has their own secret Pandora gate.
- Project Ozma’s secret headquarters is on Earth.
- Project Ozma agents have exhibited signs of exsurgent infection.
- Project Ozma has their own cadre of psi-capable asyncs.
Project OZMA and Firewall
Though Project Ozma and Firewall often see eye-to-eye concerning the nature of various threats, they are more often at odds: wary adversaries, acknowledging the prowess of the other, but never letting down their guard. This “at odds” mentality does not stem so much from the methods used (though most Firewall consider Project Ozma personnel to be explosive-happy puppets that can’t think their way out of a skin sack) as from conflicting agendas. Project Ozma does not trust an organization as powerful as Firewall because it does not have a rigid-enough hierarchy and is outside of any known authority’s control (namely themselves). Conversely, Firewall doesn’t trust Project Ozma as they are too close to the powerful inner system elites and their opposition to x-risks is a more incidental side effect of more self-serving goals.