First alluded to in Lunch Hour In Lawndale and seen in Legion of Lawndale Heroes, Project Nightbreed is an ultra-secret, 'code-word only' project within the DELPHI program known as 'Project: Fast Forward' which is dedicated to locating and/or creating, and the deployment (within various government and military groups) of specialized enhanced humans or metahumans specifically designed for small-unit combat operations. (In deploying these operatives and soldiers, Project Nightbreed is considered not to exist, and they are recognized as having received their enhancements from Project: Fast Forward itself.)
‘Project Nightbreed’ was begun in 1920 (and brought under the aegis of ‘Project Fast Forward’ when that program was created in late 1979) after special interests in the post-WWI U.S. military decided to pursue the concept of extraordinary abilities in soldiers as a force-multiplier. (The program was first conceived after the disastrous Battle of Belleau Wood.)
To date, Project Nightbreed has located eleven (it was originally believed to be only four) individuals with the abilities considered suitable for them to be ‘adapted’ so that their abilities could be duplicated in others; the project has specifically identified metahumans with vampiric- or pseudo-vampiric abilities as the most suitable for enhanced small-unit tactics.
The transformation is performed through the use of a mutagenic substance known as the 'Nightbreed solution', which was originally created through extraction of fluids from Alpha Nightbreed (specifically whole blood and spinal fluids), but can now be created in a laboratory. (The synthetic version is not as potent as the organic version; therefore, persons treated with it have lesser power levels. However, the speed in which it can be produced and utilized in creating new Nightbreed makes it ideal for usage.)
Roughly 3% of those exposed to the Nightbreed solution have an immediate allergic reaction which results in massive seizures, extremely high body temperatures, coma and death within 24 hours. Persons of Asian descent, primarily females, are the most susceptible to an allergic reaction from a direct, high-level exposure (as opposed to the exposure that a Delta Nightbreed has received). The reason for this is currently unknown. The person exposed to the solution can be saved if the solution is promptly removed from their body by Delmitrium-157, a special solution which, in liquid form, is known simply as 'flush' and has several significant qualities (among them, the ability to quickly dilute and remove poisons, drugs and so forth from the body). It has recently been revealed that the 'altech' solution known as 'medicinal tin' (an instant-acting anti-allergen substance created by the Ringmasters for use by their forces) can be used to instantly counter the allergic effects and allow those allergic to the Nightbreed solution to survive and gain abilities.
Nightbreed are divided into five classes:
- Alpha - metahumans born with their abilities, or persons infected and changed into the HST ('hostile sub-terrestrial' - the term for vampires as created by The Initiative) who have undergone special gene-therapy to produce the Nightbreed solution in their bodies. Kyle Armalin is the last of the seven known Alpha Nightbreed.
- Beta - receive their abilities through blood transfusions or 'mixing' of blood and the organic form of the Nightbreed activation solution. Betas are generally not subject to any psychological inhibitions on their abilities that Alphas possess, and Betas also possess psionic powers (telepathy, telekinesis and psionic blasts) which are not seen in any other variants below Beta Nightbreed. Transformation to Beta class is referred to as 'being sired', and occurs within one hour after undergoing the procedure. Franklin Davers is a Beta Nightbreed.
- Gamma - receive their abilities through the synthetic version of the Nightbreed solution. Their power levels are typically far less than those of Alphas or Betas, and are limited to physical enhancements of ten to twenty times their pre-boost state. Unlike Alphas or Betas, Gamma Nightbreed cannot produce the Nightbreed solution in their own bodies. Transformation to Gamma class is referred to as 'being turned', and occurs within twenty-four hours of undergoing the procedure. Almost all Nightbreed operating at present (at least 95%) are Gamma Nightbreed.
- Delta - individuals who have developed trace amounts of the Nightbreed solution in their bodies due to long-term intimate contact with Nightbreed. They do not develop powers, but have a vastly increased resistance to disease, a higher rate of healing, and are less likely to develop negative medical conditions as they age. Most Delta Nightbreed are unaware of their status. Erin Danielson-Chambers is an example of a possible Delta Nightbreed.
- Omega - individuals who already have metahuman abilities, or the potential for them, and have been exposed to the Nightbreed solutions. These individuals usually possess some of the typical Nightbreed abilities, but are usually an intermix of Nightbreed and the original abilities (greater and more unusual variants of metahuman powers are seen with use of the organic variant, but use of the synthetic variant allows for a more predictable and uniform generation of abilities, depending on the type of abilities the subjects possessed beforehand). Omegas manifest their new abilities almost immediately upon completion of the procedure, and it is unknown (at present) if Omegas can pass along their powers (old or new) to others. Priscilla Henry and Stacy Rowe (of the Legion of Lawndale Heroes) are examples of Omega Nightbreed. Because they typically possess abilities Alphas and Betas do not have, in addition to having no psychological limitations on their new abilities, Omegas are considered the most powerful class of Nightbreed.
All current Nightbreed possess the majority of powers possessed by Armalin and Davers (see individual entries), but there are others who possess the powers of three other known Alpha Nightbreed. There may be other Alpha Nightbreed who have not been revealed, with unusual variations on their abilities.
The powers possessed by Gamma Nightbreed (through Armalin) are:
- Enhanced Strength: up to 10,000 lbs (five tons).
- Enhanced Speed: up to 100 mph, or speed bursts of up to 1000 mph (Mach 1+ speeds) for up to six seconds.
- Enhanced Senses
- Protected Senses
- Resistance to Fire/Heat/Radiation:
- Accelerated Healing (between five to twenty times faster than normal/cannot regenerate severed major limbs but can regenerate smaller parts - eyes, fingers, tongues, genitalia; see 'accelerated healing')
- Hyper-leaping: 100-300 feet upwards, 350-600 feet down or across an area
- Hypnosis (control others for up to sixty minutes/people with psi-potentials, extraordinarily strong will power and any form of resistance training may continue to fight the effect even if placed under the Nightbreed's sway)
- Molecular Control/Mist
- Levitation/Flight: up to Mach 1+ (roughly 1000 mph) until fatigued
- Fangs and Claws: ALL Nightbreed can extend their incisors, toenails and fingernails to do slashing damage against adversaries. By extending their nails, Nightbreed can climb walls and other surfaces. Against beings of mystical origin or with weaknesses to magic, a Nightbreed's edged attacks do significantly more damage as against normal beings.
Due to a necessary stabilization agent in the Nightbreed solutions, all Nightbreed have a sensitivity to the metal silver (this does not affect them in normal, everyday circumstances, such as wearing silver jewelry). Weapons that are composed of extremely pure levels of silver cause injuries to Nightbreed that heal at normal human levels.
An interesting quirk is that Nightbreed can, by smell, not only identify one another, but can identify the source and level of other Nightbreed.