The Phoenix Project is an independent global scientific organization, formerly a secret branch of the United Nations, dedicated to studying threats to humankind. It was founded in 1945 but was preceded by a number of other organizations, such as the Committee for the Study and Prevention of Species-Level Threats (the Soviet Union, 1918-1927) and the Phoenix Working Group (the United States, 1935-1945). It also shares its symbol with similar groups dedicated to fighting for humanity going back all the way to the 9th century but is not strictly speaking a continuation of those groups, except in so far as each generation picks up the torch and continues the struggle.
The Phoenix Project was founded on October 24th, 1945. The second war to end all wars was over, but there were those who understood that we could no longer afford to think in terms of nations and empires. For a time, the Phoenix Project successfully navigated the political conflicts of its era. That was our Golden Age. Phoenix Project operatives scoured the world for clues. We had bases in two dozen countries. Even the heavens were not off-limits.
The golden age of the Phoenix Project ended in 1973 with the disastrous Phoenix-2 mission to study the Tsiolkovskiy crater on the Moon, after which the Project entered a period of slow decline. After its existence was revealed to the media and all funding was finally cut, the Phoenix Project was forced to become independent, with most of its operatives acting as sleeper agents.
Out there, on the far side of the Moon, began our downfall. The failure of the Phoenix-2 mission exposed us to our enemies in the UN. Stripped of resources and scattered to the winds, we were reduced to a secret... a memory. When the Pandoravirus woke up, we should have been the first line of defense. When huge clouds of mist appeared over the sea, when people started vanishing, we should have figured out what was going on. And when those people started coming back, changed, hostile, alien, we should have been ready to fight. But we failed.
The ecosystem started to change, imperceptibly at first, then faster and faster. Three factions arose: New Jericho, trying to restore order and purity; Synedrion, hoping to build a world without hierarchies; and the Disciples of Anu, a new, syncretic religion dedicated to adaptation and biological change. At war with the world and at odds with each other, these factions cannot find a way forward. Now the mist is returning, and armies are rising from the sea. Without the Phoenix Project, humanity will fall. It's time to rise from the ashes.
The best-known individuals associated with the Phoenix Project are Randolph Symes Sr. (Director, 1945-1955), Newton Sumrall (Director, 1960-1968, Administrator, 1968-1974), Irina Semionova (Administrator, 1960-1968) and Randolph Symes III (Director, 2025-2047).
Randolph Symes I
Born and raised in Fairfax, California and originally something of a dilettante and a con artist, Symes Sr. found a spiritual home amidst the eccentrics of the Phoenix Working Group. When a disaster befell the group he preserved much of their work and was instrumental in the founding of the Phoenix Project and its success throughout the 20th century. Symes tried to piece together all the information acquired by predecessor organizations of the Phoenix Project, and although he never completed this task, his writings, dismissed by government experts as radical and/or paranoid, do seem prophetic in retrospect.
Randolph Symes III
The great-grandson of the original Randolph Symes, Symes III rose to become Director of the Phoenix Project and attempted to reconcile the legacy of his namesake and his grandfather, Peter Symes, who betrayed the organization in the late 1970s. After the discovery of the Pandoravirus, Symes III tried to hold the Phoenix Project together and resurrect its original mission. His belief in a scientific solution led him to travel the world looking for an answer to the infection. With dwindling resources, Symes III pursued every possible lead, no matter the cost. Eventually, he and the last survivors of the Phoenix Project abandoned the base for one final journey. His ultimate fate remains unknown.