The Modern Age Part IV
The World of Espionage
The world of espionage in Earth-627 is pretty damn complicated. The chief concerns in the Freedomverse are Overthrow and SHADOW plus relatively minor groups by comparison like Al-Qaeda. The situation is significantly more unstable in Earth-627 with countless hyper-technological revolutionary groups and terrorist organizations. Each of them angling for their own particular slice of the planet.
The past five years have been a roller coaster for A.E.G.I.S. to say the least. Director Harry Powers has failed in his mission as far as Jack Simmons is concerned, which is to keep himself morally clean of the kind of corruption and moral compromises that politicians would try and force on AEGIS. Director Powers would state that was JACK'S mission and not his, which is the protection of the American citizenry.
Still, AEGIS has managed to avoid much of the stink that the rest of the Bush Administration's intelligence operatives are operating under and it's reasonably sure that he's probably going to maintain his position under the new administration. Still, the current economy is one that doesn't permit a continued expansion of intelligence or military budgets in the United States of America. AEGIS recieved a massive funding increase after 9/11 and the initial Bush administration push for intelligence rewards, buying flying cars and other wonderful devices, but it's not recieved any further updates and they're expected to make due with the equipment they have currently.
This is despite the fact that SHADOW has been discovered to be still extant, which was meant to be the big justification for AEGIS's existence. Unfortunately, to be honest, it hasn't really done all that much. Harry Powers suspected what Jack Simmons would have difficulty getting, that it's been a very long time since Overshadow was having Nazis knock down people's doors. Even if he did, they've experienced the Terminus Invasion and the Grue amongst plenty of other super powered threats. It's just not the smoking gun that it used to be.
Outside of the United States borders, UNISON has been undergoing its own difficulties. The United States blanket unwillingness to cooperate with UNISON these past eight years has been a serious blow to their effectiveness in coordinating operations. Still, UNISON doesn't need the United States to operate and they have AEGIS. They've managed to since discover that Overthrow has been getting the majority of its "future-tech" from SHADOW. This doesn't reveal much about the nature of the organization or that Overthrow is just a satellite of SHADOW but is a step in the right direction.
Instead, the big problem is that already the European Union has started debating the idea that there's no reason they shouldn't have their own version of AEGIS to operate on and Vladimir Putin has already expressed that Russia can "look after its own borders." UNISON is used to threats to depower them and rely on domestic agencies but this one looks quite serious. What effect this will have on UNICORN, UNCOT, or UNIQUE is anyone's guess.
Still, if anyone can reverse it, it is undoubtedly new Director Chalcedony Johnson. The sudden promotion of her after a murderous Overthrow attack that killed the entirety of the Senior Staff at the Castle in Geneva has reinvigorated UNISON. Despite attempts to block her ascension, she's since become the "roving leader" of the group and secured her position by revealing the gross human rights abuses of UNITROL. The capture and war crimes trial of the Unifer at the Hague is still ongoing but has sent that organization into freefall.
AEGIS and the Patriots
AEGIS has a fairly cordial relationship with the Patriots and the Foundation for World Harmony. The Patriots, unlike the Tomorrow Society, are fully empowered agent of A.E.G.I.S and Harry Powers appreciates their willingness to go the extra mile to get official sanctioning. Harry rarely uses them as super-powered agents but he finds them significantly more tractable than the Freedom League. Harry is very fond of Colonel Shepherd and views the Steel Commando as something of a younger version of himself (though they aren't really that different in age).
Harry is less trusting towards Ashley Morgan, not because he thinks she has any lingering loyalty to the House of Serpents but the fact that he suspects that she might unwittingly be used by General Venom in other ways (such as latent brainwashing or using her as a precedent to send other infiltrators into high places).
AEGIS and the Foundation for World Harmony
Harry Powers has less of a problem with the Foundation for World Harmony than UNISON to some extent. Harry is all for international solidarity but he lacks much of the idealism that Jack Simmons had, instead he prefers results. The Foundation is better organized and more willing to take risks than UNISON. Dame Michelle Holmes has made extensive efforts to set up information sharing and operational licenses for both sets of agents abroad. Thus, AEGIS agents have been able to work in foreign countries and Foundation Agents have been able to bypass much of the trouble that previous administrations would have been able to deal with.
So far, it's been a very effective system.
UNISON and the Foundation for World Harmony
So what is the difference between The Foundation for World Harmony and UNISON? UNISON is the United Nations Peacekeeping force dedicated to Anti-Terrorism, Border Crossing Super Villains, Diplomacy with Aliens, Investigation of International Terrorism, and the dealing with threats to world sovereignty at the behest of the United Nations council. In other words, it delicately fills the role of the United Nations armed forces.
The Foundation for World Harmony on the other hand is the United Nation's Intelligence branch, dedicated to gathering information for the United Nations and dealing with threats to the sovereignty of its member nations. There's significant crossover between both groups and plenty of members have been loaned between the two but the Foundation is significantly more covert. Oddly, because most Foundation offices are handled within the borders of the nations, they also have greater freedom to act.
In another time, the two agencies would be merged but this isn't the period for it.
SIDE AGENCY: Meta-4
The United States Department of Defense' division for Anti-Superhuman crime, Meta-4 is a bit of a sister agency to AEGIS. Bluntly, it's also considered to be the bad guy agency of the world. Reduced to little more than a few super powered agents and Reagan holdovers by Clinton's time, the coup by the Psychotic Seven made it recieve a surge of new perosnnel and funding. Unfortunately, almost all of this was devoted to kidnapping suspected metaman terrorists, torturing suspects, and generally violating civil rights. Meta-4's embarrassment to the United States as an exempler of everything wrong with US foreign policy would take pages to describe but amount to the organization being a vessel for Anti-Metaman bigots attempting to forward an agenda.
Meta-4 has only managed to avoid being shut down thanks to the secret projection of Project: Icarus.
Harry Powers has already expressed that Meta-4 is a drain on United States resources and a blight on their national identity. He hopes that it will be shut down, not just for moral reasons, but the fact that it will spare AEGIS any further budget problems.
Harry Powers: Is tougher, meaner, and more hardassed than ever. He's also lost his left eye recently thanks to the efforts of a SHADOW assassin. Harry has had a cybernetic replacement installed but he wears an eyepatch to prevent people from realizing that he's scanning them with it at all times. The recent events have been hard on Harry but he's started to realize he doesn't need to be Jack Simmons and that he can take the Agency in his own direction.
Stuart Bonham: Harry's second in command, Stuart is coming to increasing heads with his Director. Bluntly, they couldn't be more different in command styles and the two now disagree on almost everything. Stuart believes Aegis should focus on being an inspiration while Harry believes they should be effective. Both are extremely moral and upstanding man but they disagree on how to best honor Jack's legacy.
Terrorist Groups and Aegis
Fourth Reich: Harry Powers on the Fourth Reich. "Nazis, I hate these guys." He's largely been continuing the policy of deploying the Patriot whenever a whiff of Count Reich II comes up. Sadly, he's starting to seriously worry about Jack's 'programming' and he fears Count Reich II may soon take advantage of his friend's difficult emotional state.
The Gene Nation:The Gene Nation is a group that Harry has little tolerance for. If it had been his call, he would have nuked Genesis Island before it started being populated with people from around the world. He also advised the world to reject clemency for the Red King and has since been vindicated. Unfortunately, it's no longer an option to advise assassination for "Emperor Mass." Instead, he hopes to simply prevent more superhumans from seeking refuge on his island and giving him an even larger super powered army.
Something that he suspects could lead to a second Psychotic Seven style coup.
The House of Serpents:The House of Serpents is something AEGIS has a long and involved history against. America Force One is Harry's preferred method for dealing with them but he's more than a little irritated that he's had to deal with TWO Presidential orders to focus on other threats than them. He's not sure he'd be able to stand a third. Harry is aware there's HOS infiltrators in AEGIS but he's actually aware who they are and what they're doing. He's more concerned about the OTHER agencies that have been infiltrated.
He'd be a LOT more concerned if he discovered the reason the Patriot may be acting so strange lately is that his damaged Android chips have recently started to come from a new contractor. The Monev Corporation (read it backwards).
UNITROL: With the capture of Unifer, Harry Powers has made a move to start grabbing as many domestic Unitrol agents as possible. He's also interested in covert actions abroad, though he's working with Dame Michelle Holmes on this as well. Harry suspects, correctly, that with their leader out of the way that they're likely to sell their vast amounts of military hardware and super-villain made tech to the highest bidder. In the meantime, UNITROL is now a mercenary army for sale and any super villain can purchase their assistance.
Harry is also watchful for attempted jailbreaks on Unifer, who was captured on United States soil and currently in AEGIS custody despite it being a UNISON operation (a major embarrassment for him even though he's just glad he's under arrest).
PHANTOM: Harry Powers would very much like to launch a "Secret War" against Ruritania, proceed to blow up all of their secret files and eradicate PHANTOM's nuclear stockpile, before then putting a bullet in Death Mask III's head. He knows, if he ever does this, that it'll be the end of his career and he'd probably be forced on the run. Still, given how dirty Harry knows that Death Mask III really is and Kenneth Kane, he's not sure it's not warranted. PHANTOM has had little traction in the United States and Harry is very much about blowing up its holdings abroad or confiscating its wealth.
Diplomatic relations with their countries be damned.
Chalcedony Johnson: Director Chalcedony is exactly what Unison needed at exactly the right time. So far, she's managed to find 42 spies of various terrorist organizations and has managed to slash the budget costs of administration 60% while devoting that to operational costs. She's also started recruiting numerous young super humans of Europe into UNISON's ranks. Dame Michelle and Harry Powers both like her, as well. Her friendship with the Freedom League has helped her cause as well with their "international focus" now bringing prestige to both organizations. She's approached them about them officially becoming a UNISON team, though Captain Thunder is reticent.
Director Johnson is a close friend of Athena and Black Wing, with tabloids speculating that she's more than friends with both (though European tabloids, much like their American counterparts, will speculate on everything). In truth, she's always been an admirer of Divinos and he's returned that admiration. Divinos is more interested in working with Unison than AEGIS and its been something that has caused some difficulties with his fellows.
Mikos West: The new Director of American UNISON operations, Mikos has spent a good deal of his time working with Harry Powers trying to unveil SHADOW operations. Ironically, he's actually discovered more about the Labyrinth than anything else. Chalcedony is hesitant about Mikos' obsession with "The Illuminati" and other ridiculous ideas of a conspiracy several thousand years old, but already Taurus has started to notice a surreal number of reports that a Dwarf in a bowler hat has been sited around several major operations that have been broken up. Mikos has personal reasons for this, his wife was killed during Overthrow's attack on UNISON and already has a name for the man he wants to see hung for funding it.
Franklin Folkes. Ironically, Taurus' SHADOW ties are about to come bite him in the bum.
Terrorist Groups and UNISON
Fourth Reich: The Fourth Reich has always been an opponent of UNISON and will likely continue to remain such. Chalcedony's chief contribution to eliminating the threat of World Neo-Nazism is to send out agents to look for some way of finally laying the spectre of Count Reich II to rest. Eldrich has privately recommended that there might be a Half-Demon of considerable power in some obscure United States agency willing to help.
He has a history of fighting Nazis.
Count Reich's reaction to UNISON's New Director? "QUIET! I'M LISTENING TO MARLENA DIETRICH!"
The Gene Nation: UNISON would very much like to smack down the Gene Nation like the little punks they are. Unfortunately, that's not going to happen anytime soon. Genesis Island is a member of the United Nations and a lot of governments have been interested in the Red King's sly mention of the possibility that governments might use his country to "get rid of" unwanted Metamen. UNISON has already given private orders to take out their operatives when found, deciding to ere on the cause of what's right rather than what's political.
The House of Serpents: The House of Serpents is something that Chalcedony is appalled by. She thought it was a bad joke when she first heard about it but her association with Dame Holmes and Harry Powers has exposed just how large the United States' terrorism problem really was. She's redoubled efforts to deal with the organization's international activities even as its still difficult for her to honestly believe the organization is as influential as it appears to be.
General Venom, privately, is happy that she's taking a stronger stance against groups like him though is irritated how its interfering with operations. He's considering dispatching Supreme to "send a message" if she doesn't back down.
UNITROL: The capture of Unifer has resulted in the organization entering free fall. Most of its countries have since fallen into civil war, unrest, or have declared their allegiance to PHANTOM. A few have actually been fully liberated and democracy restored thanks to Chalcedony's efforts. She's recieving some unexpected and unwelcome assistance from the House of Serpents. General Venom is eager to wipe out all traces of Unifer's dream and unless he's freed, the organization is likely to be totally wiped out between their dual efforts.
It's unlikely anyone will mourn it. But so far, it remains the organization's biggest success in recent memory.
PHANTOM: The political nightmare of the Gene Nation x100. Ruritania and countless other little countries have nearly as much collected authority as a member of the U.N. Security Council. Chaledony Johnson suspects, rightly, that all of their problems lately are purely the manuverings of The Inner Council to attempt to dismantle the power structure of UNISON. In fact, he did his absolute best to block her ascension to Director.
Believing PHANTOM represents a literal threat world sovereignty as a whole, she has begun a serious "shaking down" process to find all infiltrators of that organization and privately begun coordinating efforts to find out which nations are secretly under its control. As an enemy of freedom and democracy, PHANTOM is something that must be destroyed.
Terrorist Groups and The Foundation for World Harmony
Overthrow: Dame Michelle Holmes has never actually cared all that much about Overthrow. Bluntly, she's always viewed them as a microscopic threat by comparison to organizations like PHANTOM or SHADOW. As she said to Margeret Thatcher. "Prime Minister, my chief concern is where a bunch of disgruntled French academics got themselves a brainwashing machine. Not where some pimple faced Grad Students will strike next. That's for the local authorities."
The revelation that there's ties between SHADOW and Overthrow has hurt the group's credibility but she's much more interested in what this really MEANS. Privately, she predicts there's a 75% chance that Overthrow will make an attempted break from SHADOW within the year. She intends to mop up the organization if she can when Overshadow's inevitable retailiation occurs.
SHADOW: Dame Michelle is old enough to remember Overshadow and while she'd hoped he'd finally died, his resurrection is not terribly surprising to her. She's not terribly impressed by SHADOW overall, thinking Overshadow's reliance on clones to be a tremendous weaknes (and she's correct). Privately, she's ready for Operation: Indulation two. She's been working a very long time on a bio-weapon first proposed by Jack Washington Junior during the last one....
UNITROL: Dame Michelle Holmes would never say that the death of UNISON's existing power structure was the best thing to ever happen to it, but she has to admit that she's impressed by Director Johnson's handling of the UNITROL affair. Freedom from diplomatic ties, Michelle has ordered almost a hundred individual wetworks operations against the False United Nations. While PHANTOM is eager to sweep up as much as possible, and had been privately funding the organization for years, it was a Foundation manned submarine that sunk Unifer's own headquarters.
Now, she hopes to get onboard the largely intact submarine and get the computer data inside that could expose all of UNITROL's Phantom ties.