Cry Wolf: a HERO Television Special
The insignia of the Saffron Corporation.
The Saffron Corporation is a Swiss pharmaceutical and healthcare entity that owns a number of subsidiaries worldwide. Although operating under its original name and purposes, it is now a mere facade portraying itself as an eco-friendly, customer-oriented and even a charitable organization to an unsuspecting public. After its takeover by Kimberly Anne Foxglove, the organization has become involved in more secretive operations such as genetic research, chemical and biological experimentation, and weapons designing.
Saffron headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.
History (Early Beginnings and Fall to Corruption)
Established in 1896 by the patriarch Fritz Reinhardt, the corporation started with the manufacture of vitamin preparations and byproducts. Through the decades, it has produced synthetic vitamin C products, tranquilizer derivatives, antidepressants, and cancer medications. It has since expanded its operations and released a wide variety of products on the market ranging from openly known diagnostics and medical equipment, foods, drinks, and even cosmetic products.
With exploration having long been a part of the family tradition, the descendants of Reinhardt funded and led numerous expeditions around the globe. In the name of research and the quest for untapped scientific and medical finds, the company builds a number of international facilities.
It was thanks to one of these exploration teams that the turning point in Saffron’s history came. It was in the mountains of the Himalayas that a Saffron expedition discovered the Insania virus. Exposure to the virus and encounters with the extraterrestrials that brought them nearly wiped out the team though the survivors succeeded in bringing the sample back to civilization. After barely containing the sample, much of Saffron’s manpower and resources were diverted to study the virus and its potential applications. Originally intended for benign purposes such as creating means of dealing with incurable diseases, the Reinhardts forbade any research that would allow the virus to be used as a weapon. Although they kept the virus a secret, a disgruntled employee sold a sample to the black market which would end up in the hands of AIM and other bio-terror groups.
Despite all of the family’s efforts, the Saffron Corporation would ultimately step unto the path of venality. In 1998, South African prodigy and military scientist Kimberly Anne Foxglove would marry Wilhelm Reinhardt which later allowed her to take complete control of the company. Not only did Foxglove shift much of Saffron’s functions towards illegal experimentation and illicit research and trade of weapons of mass destruction, she also saw the profit and power that the Insania Virus could bring. Foxglove’s decisions has led to the despoiling of natural environments, the slaughter of indigenous peoples, and the sacrifice of countless human specimens that included Saffron employees and their families.
With his worst fears becoming reality, Wilhelm attempts to expose his wife’s actions only to be stopped by the woman herself, costing him his life as well as his daughter’s.
Foxglove introduces herself to her guests.
Having survived several hostile attacks from within and without throughout its nearly century long existence, Saffron under Kimberly Anne Foxglove’s leadership has thrived and become stronger than ever.
Aside from being one of the well-respected and high-earning pharmaceutical companies on the planet, Saffron also retains mutually beneficial connections with other business entities such as Stark Industries, keeps tabs on the superhuman community and has ties with SHIELD and its polar opposite Hydra. Only the latter two groups are aware of Saffron’s true nature, while the rest of the world is completely oblivious to the reality that Saffron has become a criminal empire in its own right and is responsible for a number of (carefully covered) viral outbreaks around the world.
To further its goals and protect its interests, most especially its extensive viral experimentation program, Saffron once relied solely on third-party private military contractors, but later chose to supplement the other hirelings with its own force of well-trained and heavily armed mercenaries. Aside from providing security and protection to employees, important guests, installations, and other vital assets, the Corporation’s PMCs (such as the Saffron Security Force) are publicly utilized for search and rescue, disaster response and peace-keeping duties, while its more clandestine elements (SHADOW Company and Kill Team Edelweiss) are capable of more dangerous paramilitary operations like reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering, abduction, sabotage and assassination.
The Unveiled Future
For decades, Saffron has made it a rule to keep away from matters that involved the superhuman community of the planet. Some notable exceptions include charitable (insiders call it hypocritical) donations made to the hapless victims of empowered criminals and repairing the damages caused by battles between superheroes and villains, some of which were engineered by the corporation itself. This frontage of nonalignment is likely to change with the proposed passage of the Superhuman Registration Act on everyone’s agenda.
For now, Foxglove is content with watching the events unfold from behind her desk. She senses conflict on horizon, and like any conflict, there are conceivable gains. And when that day arrives, she shall make sure that she and her company would profit the most and (as usual) at the considerable expense of others.
An evil smile that spells profit for the Company, and a great deal of misery and destruction for everyone else.