In his second year of active duty, in 1985, Garret was transferred from his base to a rather more secretive government facility. There, the brainwashing and mind control experiments of the CIA’s Project MK-ULTRA were alive and well after supposedly being shut down in the mid-1960s. Garret had been selected from a list of candidates considered fairly intelligent but also extremely malleable, and he was forced into the program.
Garret endured a year of sensory and sleep deprivation, a wide variety of psychological tortures, and massive doses of hallucinogens and psychedelics, and many other drugs as well in an attempt to break down his ego and rebuild it to the government’s liking. They also performed minor surgical procedures and dosed him with a variety of chemicals to attempt to induce low-key shapeshifting powers – the goal was to produce a mind-controlled superspy that would be unswervingly loyal.
They almost succeeded.
Instead of creating a perfectly loyal spy, they created a shapeshifting sociopath. The psychological tortures made him frightfully intelligent and charismatic, but with no real sense of empathy or loyalty to his tormentors. He also had gained the ability to change his physical features, down to his fingerprints, and gained an unexpected ability: the power to exude strange pheromones which would make others willing to please.
He feigned obedience long enough to get to a knife, then brutally murdered several of the scientists who had experimented upon him in the space of a few minutes. Others, whose conditioning had taken more thoroughly, managed to stop him, but his captors didn’t want to just throw him away. Instead, they subjected him to a fresh battery of psychological tortures that were designed to instill loyalty and, more importantly, a mental block against engaging in violence, even from using any kind of gun. When they were done, he had no more ability to kill, but he still hadn’t fallen into perfect loyalty… Maybe.
For some reason, they then let him out and gave him an honorable discharge, apparently confident that their secret project wouldn’t give away the secret or go on a killing spree. Did they leave a second mental block in his head, against betraying the secret? He still doesn’t know, because he never remembered the details of any of the tortures they put him through.
Once out, Garret took advantage of the G.I. Bill and used it to help pay for law school. He passed the bar swiftly and became a phenomenal lawyer by age 30; with no moral compunctions and his enhanced mind, he did well in the field. However, part of the conditioning did leave him with – if not a particular loyalty to his tormentors – the need to have a “master,” a cause or person to play lieutenant for. He fell in easily with those who wished to exploit his talents for their own gain, and is now secretly “Control” for a group of villains he is attempting to direct for his master’s purposes.
Paranoid and ready to sell his compatriots – and masters – out in a minute, however, if it would lengthen his life, he also seeks to gather as much information as he can on who he works with and for. You can find a hundred causes in any city, after all, but you only have one life. He keeps his public life as a lawyer at arm’s length from his private life as Control, maintaining a different appearance for each situation. He intends on his companions having no notion that Garret Horne, who seems to be kept on retainer to protect them in court, is the same man that manages them for their secret master.