The fears, paranoia and secrecy of the Cold War awakened ancient fascinations: Science and the supernatural bringing together spying and scrying, espionage and esoterica.
The degree to which the existence of the supernatural has been acknowledged and understood by different governments has waxed and waned throughout history and across various cultures. With formal recognition often stymied by the indecisiveness of bureaucracy and the occult’s resistance to being catalogued and codified, even the most receptive authorities seldom make these positions a matter of public record. Nonetheless, wherever there has been a willingness to believe it has always been accompanied by the intention to exploit. Perhaps the most prominent examples came during the Cold War, where both the United States and the Soviet Union are known to have undertaken research into mind control, remote viewing and associated psychic phenomena.
With the records of the infamous MKUltra programme and its counterparts largely lost (and, in some cases, deliberately destroyed) it can be difficult to separate the speculation and rumours from the truth of their, admittedly limited, successes. Still, it is believed that a small number of agents and operatives emerged from these experimental projects with unusual or inexplicable talents, though the line between those that were created and those who were merely discovered is somewhat indistinct. The most powerful of the uniquely gifted individuals to come out of the Eastern Bloc was a spy and assassin who, operating with apparent impunity throughout Europe and across much of America, was given the codename “Kuklasi”.
The specifics and extent of Kuklasi’s abilities, and how these played into the methods by which they undertook their missions, seem to have been carefully and deliberately withheld from all but the most senior and select of KGB officials. In fact, information about Kuklasi was so meticulously compartmentalised that they are referred to with the neutral “оно” (literally: it) rather than a gendered pronoun in any report that claims or implies direct contact with them. Other reports - including those authored by American sources - are more lax and occasionally use masculine pronouns, though it is unclear whether these are a meaningful indication of Kuklasi’s gender or are more just a reflection of prevalent attitudes and assumptions.
Gaining a clearer picture of just what Kuklasi could do was a matter of reconstructing data from innumerable sources: A puzzle whose pieces are found across thousands of individual reports and memos, records and letters and other, heavily-redacted documents which, at first glance, have no connection to one another. Indeed, it is unlikely that the story would have ever been uncovered if it were not for the unceasing diligence - and not-insignificant amounts of luck and creativity - of the innumerable researchers who were eventually able to piece together enough evidence to ascertain the nature of Kuklasi’s inhuman abilities. Though the source of these abilities remains unidentified, we now know that Kuklasi was able to take control of other people’s bodies.
Utilising a functional version of the techniques that are only pretended to in psychic surgery (there through sleight of hand and managing the subject’s perspective) Kuklasi physically forced their hand through the back of the target’s skull and directly into the brain. The attack was undeniably agonising; nerves stripped bare and exposed to crudely rummaging fingers. It would have been an extraordinarily brutal way to murder someone, but this violent intrusion was only the means to an altogether more unnatural end. Even as the damaged healed, almost instantaneously (that instant likely seeming unending for the victim), the contact created a somatic entanglement, a connection between Kuklasi’s nervous system and that of their victim.
Once this link was forged - a psychic graft between the two bodies - Kuklasi had complete and unalloyed dominion over both: Processing, and distinguishing between, two overlapping sets of sensory input in order to operate both bodies separately and simultaneously. Still, in order to co-opt and coerce another’s will so completely the connection had to be absolute. Whilst the pathways that allowed for control were one-way, the sensory feedback from was raw, bordering on overwhelming and pain (though divorced from actual and lasting harm) was most acutely amplified. Whilst it had to be initiated invasively, the connection could be severed remotely; an act of will that left the victim temporarily disorientated and vulnerable to whatever dangerous or compromising position Kuklasi had left them in.
Using these forcibly-borrowed bodies Kuklasi was able to gain quick and easy access to sites and facilities - and thence to secrets - that were impenetrable to more traditional forms of espionage. If the control had extended to the mind Kuklasi might have been entirely untraceable, but even disbelief and denial could not be relied upon to keep their work secret. Instead most of their victims were murdered, though these deaths were usually staged as suicides or accidents (often through acts of recklessness that fatally imperilled the victim). A few of Kuklasi’s more valuable targets were recruited, having already been forced into actions that would see them branded as traitors, or blackmailed for having committed crimes they had had no choice in committing.
As far as can be reasonably ascertained, recorded mentions of Kuklasi cease abruptly (and without subsequent comment) after a short and otherwise unremarkable memo that was sent in February 1963. Mentioning only that they are travelling to Baku, Azerbaijan - then the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic - to make contact with a new handler, it is a perfunctory missive that wholly underwhelms as the bookend to a brief but singular career in espionage. Those who have looked into the history of Kuklasi, some tracking down anyone who might have crossed paths with them, assume that the sudden end to an already fragmentary paper trail is deliberate; though questions as to who engineered its conclusion seem likely to remain unanswered.
While Kuklasi’s abilities, as violently and grotesquely as they were made manifest, share characteristics with other phenomenon - Witchwalking comes to mind, though they perhaps more closely resemble the alleged abilities of Umbral Locke - they are more often considered a unique and anomalous occurrence. Certainly, there is no evidence that any of Kuklasi’s compatriots (nor their rivals) were similarly empowered by dint of involvement in one or other of the experiments that were both rife and dangerously unregulated at the time. It is to our great fortune that it was an innate and unreproducible fluke. Any such power, if it became a commonplace and reliable weapon, would likely cause unimaginable disruption; remaking the world in ways we can barely begin to fathom.