What makes a Silencer?


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Is it training?  Augmentation?  Genetic engineering/manipulation?  Any or all of the above?

Me, I think it's hard to believe the literally superhuman (see the notes about No Regret's timeline in the No Regret board) Silencers owe their success to any one method of enhancement; it's more likely that it's a combination of factors, from optimized biology to anabolic steroids to, hell, nanotechnological augmentation, if we wanna get sci-fi-y.  But, if anything, what is most responsible for their deadliness?

I was contemplating this one day at work when I was supposed to be doing something productive, and it came to me.  Above the physical conditioning and the equipment, what makes a Silencer is mindset.  They see the truth of things--not philosophically speaking, but in the real world.  That man is pointing a gun at them.  An alarm has gone off and WEC SOP dictates a response from security in thirty seconds.  There is no way out save through the enemy and they will not accept a surrender.  And so forth.

There are no rose-colored glasses for a Silencer.  Always seeing what is, they can immediately take steps to deal with it, not having to work around wishful thinking.  It's like being knurd*.

Trained as they are, their solutions are usually quite direct (often destroying a given obstacle), but they can be more subtle (such as digging around a likely nearby desk for a few seconds for a keycard buried under a stack of papers).

But that wasn't quite enough.  Then I remembered one of the ideas about the brilliant show Firefly that intrigued me: that both a protagonist and an antagonist on the show were so incredibly intuitive they could appear as if they were psychic.  (The protagonist, in fact, was, but in previous episodes she was just alluded to as having a mind that worked differently--able to pull off a complicated folk dance perfectly the first time after viewing it once, shoot three people with her eyes closed using math, correcting her older and quite intelligent brother's spelling when she was 3 years old, and so on.)  The antagonist in particular could, at a glance, tell that a man had quite a different past than what he claimed, that a young woman to be susceptible to threats of sexual violence, and that he had to use logic and debate to keep a young doctor from attacking him.

That ability also applied to other interesting characters from other media, but was never better espoused than by Jason Bourne, in the Bourne Identiy movie.

"I can tell you the license plate numbers of all six cars in the parking lot.  I can tell you that our waitress is left-handed and the guy sitting up at the counter weighs two hundred fifteen pounds and knows how to handle himself in a fight.  I know the best place to look for a gun is the cab of the gray pickup truck outside, and at this altitude, I can run flat out for a half mile before my hands start shaking."

That, then, was it.  A Silencer has this intuitive grasp of the truth of a matter, whether implanted through gene therapy, born witih it (naturally or through genetic engineering), or trained to that way of thinking.  That mindset is then focused on the arts of war--martial arts, weapon use, environmental factors, tactical considerations, and so forth--but he still possesses it in all things, if he tries.  (I have this image of a Silencer incognito at a dance club appearing to get into the music but he's really just calculated a sequence of steps that will carry him through the crowd with the minimum resistance, based on the flow of bodies and the rhythm of the music.)

The perfect soldier is never out of his element, and the Silencer's mind, more than anything else, ensures that he isn't ever.

*I will not spoil the joke, but I encourage you to read Terry Pratchett's Discworld series.  In particular, Sourcery, which explains precisely what being knurd is.  In footnote form, not unlike this.  But funnier.
I really think it's the genetic engineering. In one of the missions in No Remorse, you destroy Dr. Hoffman's laboratory, and it's filled with containers with people growing inside them... and when you confront Hoffman about this he says, "Ah... the prodigal son returns home...." A big indication.

After the mission, you receive a video transmission from Maxis. He says he's uncertain at the time.
You'll notice I didn't actually rule that out.  I just said that of the actual results, it's the mind, more than the body.
hmmm i would bet for GE. If i'm not mistake it was Hoffman who worked on a Silencer project. But of course the best Silencer is made by himself only :p
Another quote on the subject.  Ironically enough, also featuring Matt Damon.

Will: "Beethoven, okay. He looked at a piano, and it just made sense to him. He could just play."
Skylar: "So what are you saying? You play the piano?"
Will: "No, not a lick. I mean, I look at a piano, I see a bunch of keys, three pedals, and a box of wood. But Beethoven, Mozart, they saw it, they could just play. I couldn't paint you a picture, I probably can't hit the ball out of Fenway, and I can't play the piano."
Skylar: "But you can do my organic chem paper in under an hour."
Will: "Right. Well, I mean when it came to stuff like that... I could always just play."

That's the way a Silencer would view a tactical situation or a weapon he's never used before.  It's something he's just good (great?) at.  He picks up, for example, a weapon, judges the mass, finds the center of gravity, discerns caliber and range, figures out the recoil, and it's like it was the first gun he ever used.
I think the Silencer project is unfinished.

That is to say, the Silencers don't come out of their genetic augmentation fully-formed.

The idea came to when when I recalled what little I knew about "hox" genes.

The vast majority of genetics in a living organism are inactive.  It's redundant, or not used or replicated.  The genes that are inactive are called hox genes.  They contain genes from previous evolutionary stages, perhaps many millions of years old.  For example, birds might have dinosaur genetics in their inactive genes.

So maybe even the hox genes have been altered to augment the Silencer in some way or another, and part of their evolution is finding the ability to activate these inactive genes.  These might increase their reflexes, or increase their strength to truly superhuman levels, or even make their brain work on an entirely different level.
Maybe that explains why the Silencer can disobey orders and join the Resistance?
Maybe partially.  A mutation or activation of old genes could give them the adaptibility to handle any environment or situation--including one which contradicts "absolute loyalty" brainwashing.

Me, I think the Silencers, or at least their leadership, know more and are more independent than anyone suspects.
Silencers are not soldiers.

I've been turning it over in my mind and Silencers are definitely not soldiers.  Soldiers die for their cause.  Silencers kill for theirs.

Silencers are entirely too valuable (i.e. costly) to throw away.  Only if they are on the verge of defecting or have defecting must they be destroyed by their employers, and then with extreme prejudice--attempting to capture one would be a catastrophe.  (As the Captain proved, even attempting extreme prejudice can be catastrophic for the unprepared).

A Silencer is designed/built/trained/equipped to kill or destroy and get home alive.  Casualties are not really acceptable unless a cadet is about to become field-ready for each Silencer killed, and even then practical experience is still irretrievably lost.  They are irregulars, and though equipped with the best are trained to survive and succeed when cut off, surrounded, out of ammo, and outnumbered.

In addition, they are capable of improvising.  Give a normal set of soldiers goals and instructions and they'll try to accomplish it using the instructions, improvising, but only if necessary.  Just give them a set of goals, and they'll probably go about it the best way they can figure out and collapse like a card table.  Give a trio of Silencers goals and instructions and they'll accomplish it handily.  Give them goals, but no instructions, and they'll do it their own way.  And probably do it even better.  That is not the action of a soldier.

Silencers are not soldiers.  They are killers and destroyers.  Harbingers, if you want to get mythic.
Another point:

In the No Remorse Topline newsletter, it mentiosn Dr. Hoffman was also working on biomechanical enhancements for military and security purposes--cyborg Silencers?
Shadowen link said:
Soldiers die for their cause.  Silencers kill for theirs.
Uhhh, no.

At least, that was never the case when I played an infantry NCO of a recon troop in real life.

This whole "kill for a cause", "die for a cause" is a distraction.

"You don't win war by dying for your country. You win, by making that other bastard die for his" - GFM. Erwin Rommel [often mis attributed to Gen. Patton].

The job of the soldier is to bring about calculated violence to force his opponent to become "agreeable" with whatever terms set out by  his political masters/military leadership.

In a nut shell.

All else, is window dressing.
Due respect to your service--I certainly couldn't even pass basic training, let alone be expected to perform in real combat.  However, a certain amount of casualties is, from the point of view of commanders, expected and even acceptable in some cases.  If everyone gets out alive and the job gets done, all to the good and let's have a party.  Getting out alive and the job getting done is, as I understand it, bare minimum for Silencers.  "Target of opportunity" is the key phrase, in this case. 

Deaths in training are horrid accidents in the US military; most of the Silencers' casualties probably occur in training so they don't occur in missions--the classic bad-guy "weeding out the weak and unfit" training method. 

Of course, we're talking about fictional characters, so really, it's all just words and other nonsense.
Physically, Silencers are very similar.  Even without the armor.

In the unlikely event that a non-Silencer sees one of the Corps without his armor or helmet, the Silencer will have a few traits that are common to all of his or brethren.  His skin will be pale (if he would normally be very dark, there will be a sort of discoloration, as if he has not seen enough sun), his hair will be stark white, and his eyes will be very dark, often black.  Generally their hair is cut military-short, or shorn completely.  Whether this is purely a cosmetic change or an irreversible side effect of the gene therapy Silencers go through is not known.
:mask: it is the mind of a Silencer that really makes him good not the GE or physical training, you can see that in the video the Captain was expecting anything...cautious while Zurovec and Vittek  were just arguing
Time to dust of some old topics to try to bring life back to this forum.

According to Crusader lore Silencer's are humans identified in their adolescent years (years 12-18). How they are identified is not told, but I think it has to do with fitting a certain profile of physical and mental toughness as well as loyalty to the WEC. Silencer's are then removed from society and are trained rigorously in virtually every form of combat, stealth, interrogation etc, basically transforming them into a one-man army. They are probably also psychology conditioned to ensure ultimate loyalty, a point that does fail from time to time.

We have a trio of Silencers disobeying an order to kill civilians and they reference someone named Owens in the intro cinematic, probably another Silencer who didn't carry out an order and was silenced for it.

The Hoffman storyline suggests at some point Silencers are genetically engineered. There is no concrete proof of this and it's unsure whether or not previous generations of Silencers were genetically engineered also. In contradicts the lore but of course the WEC would not want the general population to know they grow Silencers in vats and thus came up with that story.

I like to believe the first Silencers were actually created the way the manual states. Perhaps the very first Corps was recruited from the elite forces of the Military (Enforcers?) and later the WEC realized they could make even better soldiers if they trained them from puberty on. The reason to wait for adolescent years is that by then you can make out who's physical fit rather than select toddlers on the basis of genetic make-up.

I do think the WEC will always be worried, borderline paranoid, about traitors, especially in the Silencer Corps, so genetical engineering makes sense at some point.

Now, what makes a Silencer? Even if they are genetical engineered, I think it's their training and psychological conditioning that turns them into the ultimate killing machines. Genetical engineering augments this. But Silencers remain human, after all. Vittek and Zurovec became so caught up in their arguing that they didn't notice a Vetron sneaking up on them while the Captain remained cautious of his surroundings and managed to dodge the bullets. Possibly this was another reason to start engineering Silencer, make them even more perfect.

Was the Captain engineered? No evidence is found. We don't know if Hoffman just started the project. Of course there are hints that the Captain was a project of Hoffman. In mission 2 he states "The prodigal son returns home, is that it?" which could refer to one of his subjects returning. But it could easily as well simply mean the traitor returns to the WEC in general. Then there's the remark in the mission you kill him. "All without your fatal flaw". It could mean that the Captain was a subject in an earlier batch which was obviously flawed. But it could also mean the "normal" Silencer were a liability because their loyalty wasn't absolute and genetical engineering was going to fix it.

There's a nice little reference in No Regret to this when Denning first asks if the Captain might be an android or genetical engineered.

In short there is no proof if the Captain himself was genetical engineered and whether the current generation of Silencer in general was. But in the end that doesn't matter as I think the biggest impact on what makes a Silencer is the training (both physically and mentally) and brainwashing.
I think you just said absolutely everything that I ever speculated on and about The Silencer. :)

I always thought that Captain, Vittek and Zurovec are all "the 1st gen Silencers" as they actually showed genuine human emotions and that they're still thinking for themselves (as seen in the intro). Also, they showed that even the Silencer can get "sloppy" (not noticing a mech coming) and panic/anxiety (Vittek was freaking out while Zurovec was trying to calm him down). I believe that that's what Hoffman was trying to "perfect" - remove any possibility of Silencer "going human". In my opinion, Hoffman was trying to create a Terminator-like soldier.

It's not hard to believe that all Silencers are created by cloning/genetic engineering as we saw and destroyed all those giant test tubes with live subjects during a mission when Hoffman finally gets a bullet.

I never really heard they reference any "Owens" during the intro sequence but that is likely because English is not my first language and as soon as subtitles appear, I tend to pay more attention to them than to what is actually being spoken (as I assume that subs are a mere transcription of what is being said, and in Crusader series that's not the case). Also, the first time I saw this intro was back in '95 and I was 11 then (and my English sucked back then, obviously :) ) and I never really bothered to pay too much attention to the intro in the last few years (most of the time I just skip it).
Vittek says something like "We can't go back, you heard what happened to Owens" or something like that. I'll have to rewatch the cinematic for the exact wording.