In the early 21st century of a world closely resembling our own on the surface, rare individuals awaken Telekinesis- and Telepathy-based powers during adolescence. Their existence is unknown to the public through interference of certain organizations with power. One such government organization in a highly developed country, responsible only to the Ministry of Interior, employs superhumans to fight crime and terrorism in covert tasks. Nevertheless its actions and ways are not to be made public in any way.

That being said, can the superhuman agents of such an organization be allowed everyday freedom when they are off mission? How can such an organization make sure that its agents will follow the rules of conduct at all times and will not jeopardize the faces of the organization, the government and even their superhuman fellows, should they stir trouble or even go rogue?

If possible, the superhuman agents should actually feel their freedom(instead of, let's say, sleeping in homes under surveillance).

It should also be taken in mind that many such agents are in their mid- or late-teen years because the side effects of said super-powers drastically shorten the user's lifespan(unbeknown to most of them though). That makes for even harder to control individuals.

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    $\begingroup$ How young can the superhumans be found/detected? How "evil" can your government organization behave? $\endgroup$
    – Murphy
    Mar 8, 2016 at 16:17
  • $\begingroup$ This reminds me of the show Alphas. It made me sad when they discontinued it. But the people had special powers, such as producing electricity, producing heat, superhuman bursts of strength, telepathy, extreme intelligence, seeing more of the spectrum of light, or being able to predict outcomes of events. And more. Some of them were committing crimes, and the other group was trying to stop them. $\endgroup$ Mar 8, 2016 at 16:23
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    $\begingroup$ @Murphy In some cases the potential is detected(through other superhumans' powers) as early as 12-year old, but as it's hard to monitor people country-wide, they are found mostly in their mid-teens(that's when the power develops) usually after they cause some kind of an incident. Also the organisation can be as evil as it needs to, as their tenet is "The end justfies the means". $\endgroup$ Mar 8, 2016 at 16:35
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    $\begingroup$ Do their superhuman abilities make them much more of a threat than secret service personnel with access to highly classified data? I would not expect so. That should mean you can employ the same screening and behavioural tactics as used by MI5, MI6 or the CIA. If current practise is not widely published, some older details on the management of spies should be available. The James Bond novels were written by a former spy and much has been published on how such things were handled up to at least the the Cold War. $\endgroup$
    – TafT
    Mar 9, 2016 at 17:33
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    $\begingroup$ Adding to Alphas and Secret World, this sounds quite similar to The Tomorrow People. $\endgroup$
    – cobaltduck
    Mar 9, 2016 at 17:54

7 Answers 7


The same way normal intelligence services operatives are.

Train them, monitor them, enforce the restrictions.

If your average CIA operative were announcing it to everyone they met and telling CIA secrets they wouldn't last long.

You could also create specific areas (for example a remote village somewhere) where they are allowed to live and use their powers freely.

If all else fails generating some sort of dampening device that blocks their powers and making them wear it would be an option. It would be a bit unfortunate if you lost a valuable operative to a mundane car crash while their powers were blocked though.


An important note is why they would give them everyday freedoms: presumably the superhumans want the freedom and their willing cooperation is important enough to force the organization to give it to them.

This depends greatly on how amoral the organization is willing to be.

If going rogue or needing to be terminated is a problem and the organization is willing to be evil then expect the kids to have secret little implants filled with poison hidden in their bodies that need to be reset every few months to prevent them from going off.

Expect some serious brainwashing to keep them in line with anyone who doesn't respond well being terminated.

Luckily these are kids/teens so add in simple pleasures to keep them happy. Sex, wealth, status etc. Paying people well can be a remarkably good way to maintain loyalty and keep morale up.

There could even be an elaborate Truman-show style deception around their "normal" lives to ensure that they have an idyllic life, are only exposed to the "correct" ideals, to avoid release of confidential information when they inevitably tell someone and to make sure they have the perfect little girlfriend or boyfriend in their "real" lives to whom they can reveal their secret identity and who they think they're doing it all to protect.

After all, we don't want them getting upset about their civilian lives and potentially becoming emotionally unstable. Better that the organization carefully control things from behind the scenes.

Note that any Superhumans with telepathy or other powers which could reveal the deception would need to either be terminated immediately or be handled at another facility, never allowed near any senior organization personnel and handled through a layer of human personnel who sincerely believe whatever cover story is being used.

Their limited lifespans makes some things easier, they only need to be controlled for a few years. They won't have decades to become disillusioned.

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    $\begingroup$ That sounds like a really good setup for a history. $\endgroup$
    – MKII
    Mar 9, 2016 at 8:08
  • $\begingroup$ Only problem: All the fake civilians now have to be put under the same surveillance due to knowing all these big government secrets. $\endgroup$ Mar 9, 2016 at 9:41
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidMulder They know some secrets. Not all of them. Compartmentalization is a big part of how governments keep secrets. $\endgroup$
    – Murphy
    Mar 9, 2016 at 12:05
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    $\begingroup$ @Murphy: Still, most importantly such a person would know that 1) there are people with super powers and 2) that they are being fooled. On top of that these people would build an emotional bond with these people making it even more likely a mess would be created. Not by the superheros themselves, but by the people surrounding them. Of course in a fictional world that needs not be. $\endgroup$ Mar 9, 2016 at 13:01
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidMulder I'm not so sure. People are good at accepting little lies if they believe they're for the greater good. You can also have lies within lies. The people working you your truman-show town could have been led to believe that the main reason for the deception is to avoid the superhumans being assassinated in their sleep or to otherwise protect them from hostile powers. Hide the big lie behind many smaller lies. $\endgroup$
    – Murphy
    Mar 9, 2016 at 13:32

They have to get some freedom on a mission, or the mission gets a lot harder. If you can trust them during combat, why not during leisure hours?

  • Can you keep the low average lifespan secret from the operatives? Unless they are particularly dumb, they will notice the low number of older colleagues as soon as they learn college-level statistics. Any explanation they make up for themselves will be worse than the truth.
  • How many operatives, and how important is each? Can you assign a well-trained team to keep each one happy and under control? A father figure to offer counsel, a big brother figure to get into some carefully controlled mischief (nights out clubbing, etc.), a best friend who stays sober and becomes the designated driver? A boyfriend/girlfriend who is a few years older and very hot ...
  • Explain to them that all the benefits between missions depend on their value, which in turn depends on the secrecy. Once the masqerade is broken, they will be paid like a mid-level government official. No more sports cars, no more martinis in nice places.

Accept that the secrecy won't be perfect and prepare to handle the fallout. Publish a third-rate superhero comic with the department names and callsigns of the operatives.

  • $\begingroup$ The short lifespan part can easily be kept secret considering the superhumans' existence is unknown to the public and there isn't much data to draw conclusions on. For all the superhumans know(and you can bet most of it is passed to them by the organization) their powers might have surfaced in the world just a several years ago, giving a seemingly plausible excuse for the lack of much older colleagues. $\endgroup$ Mar 9, 2016 at 7:56
  • $\begingroup$ +1 for the Superhero Comic idea, some deviously effective damage control $\endgroup$ Mar 9, 2016 at 8:03
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    $\begingroup$ The lifespan thing can be dealt with by constantly "reassigning" them. John's best friend dies? Tell John he's been "reassigned." To Antarctica or something. A place with no cell phone towers and where the post doesn't run. All John's friends die? Reassign John to Antarctica. Or just play the "too many operatives to keep track of" card. John notices his friend is gone, he asks somebody. "Who? Do you have an ID number? Sorry, can't help you without an ID number. He was probably just reassigned." $\endgroup$
    – Devsman
    Mar 9, 2016 at 14:22
  • $\begingroup$ @Devsman, sooner or later John is going to wonder why so few colleagues older than 30 are about. Giving him excuses could lead him to wonder if they e.g. got killed because they knew too much, and when he will get that treatment ... $\endgroup$
    – o.m.
    Mar 9, 2016 at 16:46
  • $\begingroup$ @ArtemisLeo, the idea isn't new, compare Stargate's "Wormhole X-Treme" ... $\endgroup$
    – o.m.
    Mar 9, 2016 at 17:20

It's not all that different from a police force.
Have a secret internal affairs department. Some of the super powers are telepathic, which to me means mind reading. So you have weekly "counselling" sessions where the members can can go and talk, share their frustrations, or just hang out and play board games.

Doesn't really matter what they do, since the counselor will be carefully probing to see if there is any underlying resentment or other issues that need to be addressed in such a way as to diffuse the issue in a satisfactory way.

Another thing that will help is a clear code of conduct that all members agree to, with clear routes to bring issues to light.

One of the bigger things that the organization will need to think about are people that see injustice within the organization and decide to become whistle blowers. Having internal routes that actually work to fix internal problem will help stop this.

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    $\begingroup$ "Having internal routes that actually work to fix internal problem will help stop this" -- although in practice that seems to be the absolute last thing most organisations try, after they've tried everything worse. $\endgroup$ Mar 8, 2016 at 19:18
  • $\begingroup$ @SteveJessop Why set up systems to fix problems when you can just cover the problems up and throw the people that complain in prison? So much simpler. $\endgroup$
    – AndyD273
    Mar 8, 2016 at 20:48

These super humans would not be granted the same freedoms as everyday people.

Using the United States military as an example, you do face restrictions (and these for your average mechanic or what have you.)

  • Limited freedom of movement. All travel must be reviewed/approved.
  • Overseas "trips" to fun places like Afghanistan. These are not optional
  • Limited freedom of speech, no commenting on politics while in uniform (you're not supposed to at least)
  • Restrictions on appearance and fitness

These are basic restrictions that all members of the US military accept. Considering the nature of your operatives and the likely exceptionally secret nature of their work they could expect increased restrictions on freedom of movement, speech etc. Operational lock downs are not uncommon. Leading up to a big mission they would generally have no communication with the outside world and would be on lockdown on the base somewhere.

Considering their knowledge and abilities it would not be surprising to see significant observation/surveillance as well...

An organization of specially trained people that get used/lied to/controlled by a secret government organization...always a good setting for a story.


Have your superhumans under secret surveillance at all times. Technically violation of their freedom. But as long as super humans don't know about they will feel free. Alternatively or additionally introduce informants into their daily lives such as a teacher classmate step-parent work colleague have them get close to the superhuman becoming there friend, romantic partner or trusted counselor. Then have your informant make daily reports bake to you on there action and mental state. This way if they are going rogue you can figure it out before hand.

  • $\begingroup$ This could work for a number of cases, but what if some superhumans live in an environment destitute of teachers or parents(living away from their parents and/or skipping school)? The only thing left would be friends who are undercorver agents and that would make for less of a dependent way to control a person. $\endgroup$ Mar 8, 2016 at 16:50

Can the superhuman agents of such an organization be allowed everyday freedom when they are off mission?


How can such an organization make sure that its agents will follow the rules?

It depends on how strictly the rules are being enforced. Here are some approaches:

  • No enforcement: take it on good faith they will follow the rules
  • Incentives: e.g. money
  • Reactive enforcement: they break they rules and then they are punished
  • Surveillance: monitored so preventative measures may be taken
  • Selective recruitment: only bring on people who will abide by the rules
  • Training: taught to minimize their impact on the public
  • Indoctrination: fealty ingrained
  • Brainwashing: either with telepathy-based powers or some other means
  • Collateral: e.g. you have their loved ones
  • Ultimatum: e.g. an explosive in their head

Options may vary based on the details of the particular powers.


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