Hello, X.I.N. here again, providing you with some more information that you may deem important to current events.
Most of what is known about this clandestine group was lost after the death of old Emperor Zorr, including the closely guarded secret of the Trigger Phrases. What I do know, I will share with you to the best of my ability.
To understand the Shadow’s, you must first understand the fear that the general population has for this group. See, the recruitment process is fairly one-sided. Parents were required to register their children at the age of three, where a number of tests would be performed on them. If a child passed this test, their parents would never see their child again.
Throughout the course of that child’s youth, they would be subjected to ruthless training that either broke or hardened an individual. Those that broke were discarded; those that hardened were progressed to the next stage of training. Advanced Combat, Espionage, Xeno Linguistics, Flight Training, Weapons, Seduction, Manipulation and Neural Conditioning.
The last one is incredibly important, as this is when the Trigger Phrase is introduced. The child is placed in a tank filled with liquid, which aids in placing them in a hypnotic state; tubes are inserted into the child’s body to inject chemicals required for the conditioning process. Three seemingly random words that don’t belong together in a sentence are repeated to the child non-stop for twelve hours straight, each day, over the course of several months. A second message is sent through on a higher frequency which cannot be heard, this message is truly sinister, it removes any semblance of free will from the child and provides the emperor with a failsafe in case they start to question their orders. This process is repeated several times throughout the course of the training to ensure that the conditioning sticks.
As most Shadow’s are taken at the age of three, and subjected to over a hundred years of training and conditioning, the Trigger Phrase is just a precaution. In some instances, however, a child is not found until much later in life, well into their adolescence – this is particularly common in rural families. If discovered too late, the training is more complex and requires a more aggressive conditioning process, the trigger phrase in this instance is a requirement as the likelihood of these children ‘snapping’ is incredibly high.
Bella Korlaan was one such child. She was not discovered until her sixty-fourth year and while this still labels her as a ‘teenager’ it made training her more problematic, she rejected the conditioning as she held onto memories of her family. Eventually, however, they were successful in conditioning her and she became one of their best agents, so much so that they trusted her with an off-world assignment. This was perhaps a major miscalculation on their behalf but they figured that with their other Deep-Cover Shadow on Terra, it would only be a matter of time before she was once again back in the fold.