Agents of STRIKE
The New Millennium
The New Faces of Fear (2001)
The early 21st century was defined by terrorism. Terrorist attacks on places like New York, London, and Madrid led to a global “War on Terror” and invasions of countries like Afghanistan and Iraq. These sorts of terrorist activities were thoroughly “mundane” in nature, deploying low-tech tactics like suicide bombings and home-made IEDs. They did not deploy extranormal agents, and supernatural secret societies like Leviathan or HYDRA didn’t appear to be behind them.
Nonetheless, immense pressure was put on SHIELD by the World Security Council to use their resources to intervene and help fight the War on Terror. Under duress and with extreme protest, Nick Fury eventually relented and began deploying SHIELD agents on conventional intelligence operations against mundane terrorist targets, something that is widely considered to be outside SHIELD’s mandate.
The Fantastic Future (2006)
While extranormal threats had existed for decades, SHIELD (as well as their counter-parts in Leviathan) had always managed to suppress their existence to the general public. Even the superhuman nature of Captain America was generally not something the public fully understood.
That all changed in 2006 when Dr. Reed Richards and his 3 associates engaged in an experiment in extra-dimensional travel. Breaching a boundary beyond normal space, Dr. Richards and his compatriots came back altered by the experience, with extranormal abilities and altered physiologies. Because Reed Richards was already something of a celebrity with a company behind him (the Future Foundation), he was not able to conceal what had happened to him and the rest of his team. He also didn’t attempt to.
Instead, Reed and his team used their abilities to help people in disaster situations, and used his research on the so-called “Negative Zone” that they explored to further his technological developments with the Future Foundation. Dubbed the “Fantastic Four” by the press, they were the first true “super-heroes” of the modern era. However, unlike some of the costumed vigilantes that came later, Reed and his team didn’t engage in battles with enhanced criminals or extranormal threats, instead focusing on disaster relief and public emergencies.
The Doom of Latveria (2007)
A small Balkan country, Latveria had broken away during the Soviet collapse. One of its citizens, Victor Von Doom, returned to the small country in 2008 and used his advanced technology to take it by force. Von Doom is a genius and a master of robotics, rivaling Reed Richards, Hank Pym and Tony Stark. The World Security Council convened and discussed using SHIELD to force a Latverian regime change in regards to Von Doom, but given how disastrous forced regime change had been going in Iraq at the time, the decision was made not to pursue that.
I Am Iron Man (2008)
Those four words changed the world. In 2008, Tony Stark declared that he is the power-armored hero the press had dubbed “Iron Man”. Unlike Reed Richards’ Fantastic Four, Iron Man was a super-hero who directly combated threats, both extranormal and mundane. He confronted terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq (ostensibly to retrieve and destroy illicitly obtained Stark weaponry) and he defeated his rival, the power-armored Obadiah Stane. SHIELD attempted to bring Stark into the fold repeatedly but was rebuffed. Attempts by the US government to restrict, oversee, or censure Stark’s activities were complicated and ultimately unsuccessful, hampered by Stark’s overwhelming wealth and public popularity.
The Hulk’s Rampage (2009)
Overseen by US Army General Thaddeus Ross, Dr. Bruce Banner worked on another Super-Soldier program based on subjecting an individual to large doses of Gamma radiation. When the project was looking like it was going to be shut down as trials failed repeatedly, Banner took the bold move of subjecting himself to the experiment. It turned him into the rampaging, green-skinned monster known as the Hulk. For over a year the Hulk raged across North and South America, evading General Ross. Eventually, Banner disappeared entirely, until a few years later he resurfaced as part of the modern Avengers.
The Mysterious Wanderer (2010)
A strange individual appeared in 2010, claiming to be the Asgardian thunder god Thor. He attracted a small following of devotees, and started fighting criminals and terrorists. Attempts by SHIELD to apprehend the man were unsuccessful, although eventually he agreed to join the Avengers by his own volition.
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While he claims to be Thor Odinson of Asgard, intel on this individual leads to conclude that he is actually Thorlief Golmen, a psychiatric nurse from Brussels. How he came to possess his extranormal abilities or the equipment he utilizes is unclear as of this writing. While it is possible this is merely the most recent civilian identity used by this individual and they are instead exactly who they say they are, given a choice between the possibility that they are actually an incarnate Norse god or an extranormal scam artist, or a delusional individual with enhanced abilities, logic and caution should be used.
Global Superterrorism (2011)
Things began to escalate in the second decade of the new millennium. With the extranormal phenomenon being unable to contain any longer, more and more individuals with supernatural powers began to surface. Advanced futurists like Reed Richards and Tony Stark began to cause technology to dramatically leap forward, leading to power-armored criminals like Abner Jenkins (“The Beetle”). More and more threats appeared, and SHIELD had its hands full as a global law enforcement agency for extranormal problems.
Moreover, while conventional terrorism was on the decline, supernatural terrorism was suddenly on the rise. New groups, like the Serpent Society and the Hand, were appearing. Things needed to change, and Nick Fury had an idea.
The Avengers Assemble (2012)
In 2012, Captain America’s body was discovered in Greenland. He was frozen, and due to his enhanced physiology, he apparently was in a state of suspended animation. After being revived and acclimating to the modern world, Cap wanted to continue fighting extranormal foes to freedom. Nick Fury decided to revitalize the Avengers Initiative, with Cap as the leader.
This time, instead of covert cells, the Avengers would be a public super-hero team like the Fantastic Four. Fury recruited Tony Stark, Thor, and Bruce Banner for the team, and added two SHIELD agents to monitor the team, Clint Barton (codename: Hawkeye) and Natasha Romanov (codename: Black Widow).
The first operation the Avengers were sent on was against the Serpent Society as they attacked New York. It was as a result of the Avengers’ victory in this battle that SHIELD learned that HYDRA was back, and that the Serpent Society was directly linked to them.
HYDRA Returns (2013)
HYDRA never truly disappeared, they just went underground. Becoming a cellular terrorist network, they had continued to operate all through-out the Cold War, running missions against both SHIELD and Leviathan. Now, with terrorism being the new global threat, HYDRA has come into the forefront once again, with a new leader behind them; an individual code-named “Kraken”.
HYDRA’s operations continue to follow the same patterns they did during World War II; they continue to pursue sources of extranormal power, “deep science”, mysticism, and above all else they pursue their mystical homeland of Thule.
The Heroic Age (2014)
With the Avengers becoming a global super-hero team that fights terrorists and criminals, the door is now truly open for other costumed vigilantes. Individuals like Spider-Man, Daredevil, and the Punisher appear as a result. Governments struggle to find laws to define how these costumed vigilantes can and should operate. While the Avengers are technically overseen by SHIELD (loosely), others like Spider-Man are more complicated. Dubbed a menace by publications like the Daily Bugle, Spider-Man is nonetheless considered a hero by many New Yorkers.
Leviathan Awakes (2015)
Seemingly dormant since the fall of the Soviet Union, Leviathan returned with a vengeance a few years ago. Unleashing their own “super-hero” team upon the world with the Liberators, Leviathan seems to be intertwined with the FSB, the successor to the KGB. This makes SHIELD’s operations against Leviathan extremely complicated, as Russia is a member of the World Security Council. Russia denies Leviathan even exists anymore, stating that any such organization died with the Soviet Union and will not authorize any operation against Leviathan interests. When the Liberators attacked Washington, DC in 2015 and were defeated by the Avengers, Russia officially blamed Chechen separatists for the group.
President Wright (2016)
Preying on American fears of extranormals and supernatural terrorism, Republican candidate Gordon Wright was elected as the 45th President of the United States. Claiming to represent the “Wright Wing”, he ran on a platform of trying to restore order and crack down on super-criminals and costumed vigilantes. He has a hostile relationship with the World Security Council and SHIELD, and developed the Office of National Emergency (ONE) as an independent American response to extranormal threats. Nonetheless, he acknowledges SHIELD’s authority on US soil and the America’s obligation to the World Security Council, and allows SHIELD’s facilities in the US to continue to exist.
Formation of STRIKE (2017)
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Nick Fury came to the conclusion that while the Avengers are successful in countering extranormal threats and enhanced individuals, there is also an expectation of conduct and activities that comes from the fact that they are publicly known, costumed super-heroes. The Avengers themselves are (largely) moral individuals with strong ethical beliefs that will not conduct certain operations even if they may be critically important to global security.
To remedy this problem, Nick Fury devised the Special Tactical Reserve for International Key Emergencies (STRIKE). STRIKE is a task force designed to do things the Avengers can’t (and won’t) do. They are composed of highly-trained field agents and enhanced individuals who do not have qualms about doing what must be done to preserve global security.