Thursday, July 24, 2014

Groups of Note: the Grasscutters

I've mentioned these guys here and there. Some of you might have heard stories from elsewhere, so I thought I'd help set the record straight on what they are, and are not.

The Grasscutters

The Grasscutters are what's left of a KGB-sponsored program to create a team of assassins capable of killing supers. It emerged from the Cold War and survived until the collapse of the U.S.S.R. The name refers to a Russian proverb: "the tall blade of grass is the first to be cut".

The Russian oligarchs who emerged in the chaos of the Soviet Union's dissolution acquired many of these agents to eliminate their rivals (or their rivals' security), but many more went underground and became mercenaries. They command high prices, but their training is top-notch. They allow supers into their own ranks but do not depend on their abilities, preferring stealth, misdirection, and exploitation of any weaknesses a target might have. Their first rule, translated, is "they too are only men".

Grasscutters will stalk a target for days, weeks or even months. They learn his routine, research his powers and tactics, and set up a series of ambush points - purposefully missing a sniper's shot (which might not hurt a sufficiently tough super) to lure the target into a more deadly trap, for example. Their contract stipulates that they will lose at most three men before returning the client's money, and acknowledge that there are a few individuals against which they have no chance.

Hiring them

I've never tried, so this is all hearsay. Supposedly the Grasscutters set their price at $100 million a head, but will negotiate their rate upward for difficult targets. The CIA gives them 23 confirmed kills and 3 misses, so presumably someone is buying. You need some pretty deep underworld credentials to even get in touch with them, and I'm not going to leave any breadcrumbs in this guide.

The most prominent miss on their record is Faduma, the vampire queen of Somalia. The weirdest miss is Doctor Cross, of Cross Hospital in Seattle, WA. He's a completely innocuous super-healer, so I guess he had to have pissed off somebody. Speculation is that he healed (or didn't heal) the wrong person. For my money, I'm more curious how he survived them than why they tried to hit him.

Current activities

The Grasscutters are, obviously, considered international terrorists. They typically don't operate in western Europe or the States. Aside from mundane law enforcement, any superhero worth the name will try to stop them if they pop up - even if they're after a known supervillain at the time.

Supervillains take a dim view of any anti-super organization, but some very unscrupulous villains have supposedly tried to get them to knock off rivals.

Former Soviet state supers, like the Marxman, might have more reliable information. He and I are obviously not on speaking terms, but if you want to learn more about the Grasscutters, you can try him.