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Based on an original story and alternate future by Sonny & Ais called In the Company of Shadows.
Based on an original story and alternate future by Sonny & Ais called In the Company of Shadows.
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Basically, the Agency is a secret organization in the United States that excels in espionage and assassination and works covertly with key people in the government. The purpose of the agency is to protect the interests of the United States and, in the post-WWIII world that we set up, to do everything possible to aid the nation in gaining power internationally after the severe downfall that it suffered economically after the war. Another purpose, and the purpose we focus on in the stories, is to protect the government from people both in and outside of the nation, who want to overturn the government and take control (a phenomenon that is seen worldwide in ICoS, understandably since countries everywhere were destroyed, lives were ruined, and people want a lasting change--not just a superficial one--to ensure that this kind of thing will never happen again).
There are two branches of the Agency; one in Europe and one in the United States although both act solely in the interest of the US. Our story focuses on the US so far, so we'll only discuss that branch.
The Agency is located in Lexington, Pennsylvania (fictional city.) Its base of operations is on property that once housed a company called Johnson's Pharmaceuticals. Through various deals with the owner of the company, the company name is also used as an official cover for the Agency for the outside world.
Since it was once the headquarters for a major company as well as the site of factories and scientific testing, the property is vast. Think of a gated college community, with numerous streets and buildings inside. The main building on the Agency Compound is The Tower, where all administrative departments are housed as well as briefing rooms, conference halls and some training areas. Then there are several residential buildings for agents who live on-compound, training bunkers (where training occurs for various stages of advancement, includes a gymnasium type area, training rooms of different kinds and a cafeteria), and smaller buildings that are used for a variety of things such as Weapons Research and Testing, specific medical specialists, and so on. (We'll provide a detailed listing of areas and possibly even a map of the compound at some point in the future.)
The Agency is governed in the following way:
The ICoS universe is basically the real world gone bad. The Cold War with Russia went on, nuclear production continued, tensions built between allies as the US got involved in battles and invasions all over the world to fight the spread of communism, and countries that had once been allied grew distrustful of each other as other world leaders began to think that maybe the US was going too far.
The end result was a three sided Cold War, with the US and a few allies on one side, Western Europe on another and Russia with allies in Eastern Europe, China and North Korea on the third. The situation came to a head as world leaders began to get assassinated and national governments sluggishly responded. Each side claimed that independent groups were responsible for these actions but things finally erupted and the end result was WWIII.
Small nukes (portable nuclear weapons) played a large part in the war and were responsible for the destruction of major cities throughout the globe. That, along with non-nuclear bombings, turned the entire planet into a battleground. After years of death and destruction, an uneasy treaty was formed as the end of the planet loomed in the near future, but tensions are still high. The end result is a world completely destroyed, an atmosphere completely covered with smog, radiation poisoning, increase in infertility and parts of the land that is so full of radiation that no one can step foot on it for years to come.
As the major super powers struggle to get back on their feet, new organizations and political parties are forming their own governments and fighting to take control away from the people who had a hand in WWIII. The Agency exists to battle these groups and to keep the power in the hands of the US Administration.
Any maps we create for the In the Company of Shadows world will be here.
See below for a thumbnail. Click to a see full-sized representation of Lexington, PA-- the fictitious city In the Company of Shadows is set in.
When the Agency was founded, they realized they would need a place to house a large number of people that sometimes would generate high amounts of traffic. They needed a "public" reason for security (guards, high walls, gates, etc) and even on-site housing.
With the illnesses and diseases that spread like wildfire the first few years, the drug companies saw a lot of the profit. They were able to stay in business when many other typical companies from before the war failed. As with most things capitalistic, given enough time and desperation among the people, monopolies were eventually created. Johnson's Pharmaceuticals was initially a company that was not particularly well-known or powerful, but had the fortune for its headquarters to remain untouched during the two waves of the war. Eventually, they expanded and spread to other buildings. At the time, they no longer needed all their complexes.
Due to the CEO having strong connections to the government, one of those complexes ultimately became the headquarters for the Agency. The CEO is able to keep anything from seeming strange about that particular complex by creating the same paperwork as the other legitimate complexes (saying they did inspections on certain days, that this many employees are there, etc).
One other notable portion of the Agency and its cover story is in relation to active field agents/employees of the Agency who have civilian relations or surviving family. The agents claim they are part of a private military organization (Murphy Corps) which operates as security contractors on the Johnson's property. The company is used by the Agency as an official cover for active field agents with family and includes official documentation and information that can be researched within the government to lend credence to the claim.
During the course of WWIII, the borders had been tightly controlled in and out of USA, but food and goods were still imported from trusted or neutral countries, the same way exports continued to be sent out. After the first bombs exploded on American soil, the borders were tightened considerably and fears of biological or chemical warfare caused the amount of imported food to be restricted. Although this did not affect farming areas as much, it was the city-dwellers who largely felt the brunt of the war. Not only were the urban and metropolitan areas the source of the majority of the bombings, which decimated miles of land and displaced thousands of people, but in the process, the grocery stores, convenience stores, and all other places that many city-dwellers typically relied on for food were either destroyed or suddenly had a limited supply of food.
People who had spent their lives in the cities, relying on grocery stores, refrigerators and microwaves, did not know how to get food on their own. And, in the initial chaos after the bombs, it was unclear whether the soil or water was contaminated in areas where they feared there may have been nuclear backlash; community gardens were destroyed and it was not recommended to plant anything within miles of the impact zones. At the same time, panic had beset the country, causing people even in areas that had not been touched to flood their local stores with demands for food and other essential goods in order to stock up in case the same thing happened near them.
Most of the rural areas of the US were untouched by the first wave of bombs, resulting in farms that still had plenty of crops. The farmers still needed other essential supplies for their families and homes, however, which they typically bought at the local towns or bought in bulk when they visited the larger cities which were hours away in some cases.
In the immediate chaos of the bombs hitting the States there was a temporary loss of infrastructure. Farmers who were accustomed to selling the majority of their crops to larger companies, corporations, or grocery chains, found that the although there was a high demand for food, the companies who typically bought from them were absent or destroyed and the government was still reeling from the attack while trying to fend off further attacks and retaliate against the countries who had hurt theirs. Faced with truckloads of crops that would only go bad with time, many farmers got together and split the cost of driving to the larger cities to sell their food. Fuel was especially expensive in the immediate backlash of the bombs so it was only cost-effective to go in groups.
The farmers traveled to the suburbs and outer skirts of many of the destroyed cities and set up farmers markets to sell their crops. Depending on the area of the States, money was not quite worth what it used to be. In the destroyed cities, there were people who still had cash that they'd taken out of the banks prior to the bombs or otherwise had in their possession, yet they had lost loved ones or their homes and didn't even have the food or water they needed to feed themselves or their family. In an area with increasing demand for dwindling supplies, money meant less to them than it did to those who were in relatively untouched parts of the country. As a result, many of the farmers were paid astronomical amounts of money for even the smallest portion of their crops, causing them in essence to grow rich from the war.
But the farmers had only so much crop and their equipment was expensive and highly specialized; in some cases, the equipment was even rented from companies that had disappeared, gone bankrupt, or had heard that some farmers had grown rich from the markets. Not all farmers had grown rich like that but some of the companies demanded more and more money from all the farmers so they could continue to use their rented equipment. Some farmers could not afford this and were forced to relinquish the equipment and borrow neighboring farmers' equipment instead.
There was a sense of great fear among the survivors of the bombs, some of whom were people who had never truly felt hunger before, at least not as they knew it by then. When the government still hadn't solved the food crisis and the farmers markets began to dwindle, panic and anger spread across some areas. They didn't know when their next meal would be coming, they had dead or dying loved ones, no homes or proper shelter, and many lost the capability to leave the city for other areas of the country due to crippled mass transportation, severely damaged highways and roads, and vehicles that were destroyed by the bombs. Along with that, what they'd initially feared as being a few bombs hitting once became a wave of attacks that terrorized the country at inconsistent intervals. People didn't know where to run; where could possibly be "safe." The emotions and tensions heightened until the situation escalated and the people felt they needed a tangible scapegoat.
This resulted in what would later be known as the "Crop Riots."
People who had once been very successful and wealthy were now left with nothing but an ever-growing gnawing hunger and dead or dying loved ones and they became acutely aware of the difference between their lives and those of their rural counterparts. The farmers who came into the city had trucks that may be old and rusty, but still worked-- still gave them mobility where many city dwellers felt they had none. The city people perceived the farmers as appearing healthier, more well-fed; and why wouldn't they be, the city people asked themselves-- the farmers had to have been holding more food for themselves, hiding it before they brought their crops to the city. They were probably holding out on the city dwellers until they could raise the prices again or force more desperation out of the urban people who didn't have the capabilities to grow food on their own. And, perhaps the greatest sleight of all, many rural people, especially farmers, still had homes, families, and loved ones. They hadn't been directly affected by the bombs and now they were taking the food away from the people who needed it most: those who lived in the cities.
Desperate mobs grew furious with the perceived relative happiness of the farmers and rural dwellers. It started at the markets in a few areas of the country, when farmers found themselves overwhelmed by the hundreds or thousands of people trying to demand food when they had a limited stock. When the farmers ran out of food and tried to close down, the mob lashed out.
In some areas of the country, urban scavengers followed the farmers home from the market, initially in search of the supposed stockpiles they thought the farmers were hiding. Once they arrived and didn't find any food, they were too far gone to stop. In many cases, the mobs laid waste to the farmers' fields, their homes; in some cases, the mobs even killed farmers' family members who had made it through the war. In some places, entire farming families were killed and their homes destroyed; in other areas, the mobs primarily terrorized the countryside but were eventually run off by the farmers or gave up.
It was with a sense of anger and fear that the farmers regarded the cities and the people who lived there; they worried that the scavengers may come back when they grew hungry enough. Others started anew, although they kept a careful eye on their family and crops, paranoid that some day the scavengers would return. This created an intense distrust between the urban and rural communities that was primarily localized to those particular areas. The farmers markets disappeared and the people in the cities continued to grow increasingly restless and hungry. Communication across the country was not very good at the time so there were many places that did not realize until years later that the Crop Riots had even occurred.
Although there were many farms that had no troubles with the urban scavengers, rumors spread across the country from other families and other towns; the rumors were almost always phrased as the story of a brother's cousin's wife's friend or some such distant relation, but in the more rural areas, everyone knew everyone so they knew who to trust when they heard such tales, and they knew that these were not simply fabricated rumors. As a result, the farmers in areas even far removed from such violence became highly distrustful of going into the cities or dealing with city dwellers and did their best to make due with what they had. When equipment broke down, the farmers either learned to not use it or they borrowed equipment or parts from nearby farm families.
This situation only grew worse after the second wave of attacks, when the intervening years had not been enough to smooth over the distrust between the rural and urban residents. Without access to the larger cities, the local stores did not have nearly the supplies necessary even to support the smaller communities they served. Many rural areas ran just as low on supplies as the more decimated cities did, and a large number of complications arose from this.
A main complication was that groups of scavengers within the cities had started to grow desperate and, especially after the second wave of bombs, in some places they formed raiding parties that attacked supplies that were being shipped out of the companies that had persevered through the war or had grown stronger. Drug companies were especially vulnerable to this before they realized the importance of having heightened security. Medicine that was needed to treat and cure everything from the simplest illnesses to the most complex of diseases became inconsistently available and heightened the demand.
As a result, in many cases the local doctors were unable to get access to the medicine because they did not have the money, resources, connections, or ability to receive or store it. Thousands of people died in the USA across the years of bombings and afterward due to issues like this. The local doctors were not always able to leave the smaller towns to visit larger cities or drug company headquarters to try to procure further supplies, partially because they had patients they were treating that they simply could not leave and they did not have enough staff members to watch over the patients while they were gone, and the doctors received no help from the others; rural people especially in farming communities refused to go anywhere near urban areas, even if the people in those cities had never done anything wrong to them, even if it was to try to get medicine to save a family member, because they didn't trust that the city people wouldn't follow them back and make it all worse by destroying their homes, killing their family, and laying waste to the town in general.
By the time Book One starts, there had been enough time that passed that the intense distrust from the rural community has faded slightly, but there are still many rural places a person can travel through in which they will receive a very cold unwelcome and will be chased out if it's believed they are from a larger city. It is also not unheard of to find people from rural and farming communities in Janus and other rebel groups. For those who are in groups such as Janus, it is common to have a mixture of people originating from rural and urban backgrounds, which has resulted in altercations in the past. But for the most part, their common goal and belief eclipses the distrust that had grown from the rumors and later verification of the Crop Riots.