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Ari

The Flying Fortress/AEGIS vs. techno-jerks

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So I was thinking, a rare and exciting change of pace, when I thought better of it and returned to my blessed slumber of oxlike ignorance.

Unfortunately, not all of those thoughts are gone yet, so to get rid of this one I'll hand it off to you folks.

trollthumper already mentioned a while back that one thing he'd been toying with was the idea of a right-wing variant of Advanced Idea Mechanics from MARVEL, bizarre inventors with a political agenda. And what could be more political than AEGIS? Not even Satan.

While a very S.H.I.E.L.D.ish bunch, AEGIS lacks a crucial aspect of true ripoffness: airborne headquarters. They live underground, like moles or beetles, as opposed to the sky-dwelling their Grecian acronym would suggest. It's a problem that calls for a solution, how can we make plain that these are in fact ripoffs of a super-spy agency bent on giving more or less normal people the power to change their world?

So with the recent invasion of space to the rest of the galaxy, those two things come together quite nicely.

America, or whomever foots the bills for AEGIS, accepts a contract from this right-wing mad-science crew to work with the Service to get into play a fleet of flying bases that can protect Earthly/American airspace from future attacks. Naturally these incredible inventions, while undeniably badass, carry a cost beyond money as the Elephantine Concept Holistics Overseers have installed copious amounts of gear to gather information from and strike against anyone the owner of these machines sees fit. It's welcomed after the last few decades of serious SHADOW inactivity and so many alien invasions making the idea of an even more militarized Service making so much superficial sense.

Powers, having his own suspicions, calls in the PCs as the embodiments of abstract concepts that they are to untangle whatever web of corruption or such snoresville might lurk behind his being given the raddest keys while he deals with a pair of really obnoxious nominal inferiors with greater political and financial clout than him. Said pair could be owned(literally or figuratively, go with the gut on that one) by ECHO, and in any case are determined to transform AEGIS from a defensive to an offensive force of American power.

There's other stuff too but it's not important. Act like it's not even there.

So yeah the end goal would be AEGIS having flying bases so they can dramatically explode or fall on things or fight the Sky Lord in the battle of the millennium, and the creation of said bases revealing some mad-science rightist bros to act as an alternative flavour to the mechanistic Foundry or mercurial Labyrinth.

ADDENDUM: I failed to mention this earlier, so here's the "real" reason for the experiment: it's a supervillain plot to gain access to AEGIS(and by extension other agency's) data and tech by being the ones to create and maintain it, so they can sell those secrets to other supervillains and let the quieter, smarter ones work around the new system while paying the rowdier sorts to job for it. "Good job catching the Atom-Smasher, men! A shame about that Magpie but OH WELL"

Edited by Arichamus

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I... honestly thought AEGIS already had a helicarrier rip-off to its name... well, live and learn, I guess.

 

I have to say, though, if the purpose is protecting Earth from space invaders(but not necessarily the trademarked ones), a fleet of spaceships/spacebases would make much more sense than airbases/hellicarriers. Something more akin to SWORD.

 

In fact, with so much communion tech being destroyed left and right on Earth itself, it wouldn't be far fetched to say that those ECHO guys are reverse-engineering that thing to kingdom come and back.

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In Earth'e Mightiest Heroes, SWORD starts off by using captured Kang starship for their space station/base. I wonder how the Lor would react if Earth had a Grue cruiser under their control -- or a Lor warship!

Edited by Raveled

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Considering that Earth is the place where alien conquerors who are bored of living and winning come to die? I'd say they'd be ever so quick to chum it up with us.

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Why? It's technology they'd already understand perfectly, and in smaller amounts than they can bring to bear, and not even created on Earth. Besides, they already got chummy when space invaded the galaxy, not like a Flying Fortress would be much more than a curio. I'd assume the general reaction would be "Cool, don't hurt yourselves with that...oh, too late."

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You know what WOULD be impressive? ECHO managing to reverse-engineer some of Mastermind's Preserver technology. Thus it's a man from the past rather than from the future who unwittingly provides the vital spark that Modern Man brings into flame.

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I believe there was a helicarrier expy stated in Agents of Freedom, though not sure it was specific to AEGIS. One of the problems here Ari is AEGIS is not a direct ripoff of SHIELD. In a lot of ways, the FC setting has split SHIELD into two parts:

AEGIS is a law enforcement agency, not a superspy agency, and, as a federal agency, only has authority inside the United States. While the agency might well want to reverse engineer alien tech to add to its own technology, it is probably well beyond AEGIS' mandate to be moving out into space and trying to protect the entire world.

UNISON is the international aspect of SHIELD, and, already has the UNISTORM heavy space fighters. If any agency should be looking to expand into space to help further protect the Earth, it would be UNISON. Although, the books talk about there having been a lot of concern in the UN Security Council about the revelation that UNISON had the UNISTORM space fighters, so there may be resistance to it expanding further militarily.

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How would you rather have it, then? Not at all?

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Naturally. But a frequent problem with stuff(especially groups or organizations) invented on the site is that often it's introduced, and either takes an eternity for somebody to come up with something to use it for or sits fallow after one outing. With this, if the Refs DO decide to include such a thing, there'll hopefully be at least something generally swimming around the collective thoughts of the actual active players to have them be part of the site's happenings. I'm certainly not going to run something like this(and especially wouldn't try to do so without first asking), but discussing possibilities seems to me like a better idea than just waiting for the next thing to occur to somebody.

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As someone who was knocking around the "right-wing AIM" idea in Chat for a while, I approve of this. The question is, what particular flavor of hard right? My personal idea was neoreactionary, as they're the kind most likely to pull the "advancement is its own reward, eat my dust, flesh drones" level until it breaks. Then again, I could also see a flying fortress as the base for the a neo-con "Hail HYDRA" group with little touches of the city of Columbia. 

 

I should of course clarify that, despite all the times we Refs veer towards the appearance of a leftist cabal, the first step towards making a far-right AIM group is making sure that their philosophy is clearly fringe enough that it doesn't appear we're saying, "Oh, those wacky Republicans and their orbital death platforms." Hence why I've always joked about building an AIM equivalent around neoreactionary philosophy - it's a mad mixture of an outright disdain for the concept of democracy, the exaltation of "biological truths," the fetishization of hierarchical systems, and the occasional bit of machine worship. It's the exact thing a bunch of radical nerds bent on world domination might lap up. 

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Naturally. But a frequent problem with stuff(especially groups or organizations) invented on the site

 

- Right, so let's actually invent it first! Can't figure out what a group is doing until we know what it's made of. 

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I should of course clarify that, despite all the times we Refs veer towards the appearance of a leftist cabal, the first step towards making a far-right AIM group is making sure that their philosophy is clearly fringe enough that it doesn't appear we're saying, "Oh, those wacky Republicans and their orbital death platforms." Hence why I've always joked about building an AIM equivalent around neoreactionary philosophy - it's a mad mixture of an outright disdain for the concept of democracy, the exaltation of "biological truths," the fetishization of hierarchical systems, and the occasional bit of machine worship. It's the exact thing a bunch of radical nerds bent on world domination might lap up.

 

Well, that's more promising, anyway! "The villainy of people whose ideology I do not share" would not make for a good story. 

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"Oh, those wacky Republicans and their orbital death platforms."

 

....you mean George W. Bush never planned to build a giant flying doom fortress that shoot death lazers? I'm dissapointed in the man, then. On second thought, seems more like a giant flying fortress would be an Obama plan. Guy is a total nerd.

Edited by RobRX

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"Let's talk about modern political actors" is not really where I was going with this, Rob. 

It was just a joke.

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That's a very good idea, troll. I'd add to that with this: they see supervillainy as a necessary evil, both because the 'biotruths' thing (hey, human nature is flawed, you know? You can't change people's nature) and taking at face value the whole mad-scientist "They mocked me, they called me MAD" excuse for trying to level Midtown. I dare say that would mean they'd be definite fans of Doc Otaku, both for his youth, system-bucking and seeming thwarted, unappreciated genius.

As for just who and what they are, I'm thinking a conglomerate of Silicon Valley graduates who've taken their success and obvious genius(for what they actually are good at) as signs of general superiority over the great unwashed. With a Ron Swanson-esque idea that if the government must exist, at least it can get out of the way of progress as they see it. Thus the attempt to co-opt and subvert AEGIS. So far as they're concerned, they're the future.

As for the name...I dunno. ACME, APEX, something else to do with high places or standing?

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I sense a past schism with tech money libertarians who wanted to use their power to tear down the government in the name of the nerdbro right to smoke marijuana where they please and fire women when they get pregnant.

 

(In fact, maybe those people are still in the organization and are building the backup plan - if the plot is exposed, it can be used as proof of how stupid the government is) 

 

So the organization itself sounds doable, as long as we avoid the "the people whose politics I oppose...as SUPERVILLAINS!" trap I mentioned earlier. 

 

As for the actual plot, it's great that you liked Winter Soldier and want to see some of that imagery here. Nothing wrong with that. 

 

It's welcomed after the last few decades of serious SHADOW inactivity and so many alien invasions making the idea of an even more militarized Service making so much superficial sense.

 

Why would _more_ spending make sense here?

 

SHADOW has re-emerged but hasn't proven a serious threat (we've never done an Inundation event) and the alien invasions recently have either been largely restricted to Freedom City or to the galaxy at large. This isn't the MCU where many people in power worry about the dangers of their superhuman protectors, or wish there were more of them. Freedom City has generally turned on its heroes when they were failing - but that hasn't happened here either. 

 

Note that this is not a "no", Arichamus - but it is stuff that should be figured out. I understand you're describing the leadership of AEGIS as making a mistake - but they'd have to have a _reason_ to do this.  

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Thanks for giving this a chance, Avenger.

My reasoning is that, while AEGIS' recent history is light on real failures, its notable successes are equally slim. Its work, while necessarily focused on the long haul of meticulously gathering information so it can form strategies to take action on, by now looks less than impressive when so much slips it by, and what it does find out is often beyond its ability to deal with on its own. So to its masters in the Houses, AEGIS needs some teeth, and the easiest way to do that is to fold it into the military, refocusing its intelligence-gathering on national defence rather than espionage against supervillains and organizations like SHADOW. Partly, that decision is BECAUSE of how effective the world's superheroes have been, with the Service seen as in danger of just becoming the low-rent alternative when its developments in advanced technology, magic and psionics could be more practically applied by strengthening the nation as a whole.

The [whatever] Group, having followed this and influenced it where they could, seize the opportunity by offering their enormous resources and technical expertise in designing the new platform for AEGIS to protect America from. Taken with the ingenuity and power of the Flying Fortress designs, not to mention their gracious and very patriotic offer to foot around 2/3 of the bill for both construction and maintenance of the crafts, the deal is made over the objections of Dir. Powers and Deputy Dir. Bonham.

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I want Nano in this soooo bad. She's basically an AEGIS agent, but how far can her superiors be trusted? Will she become a double agent, when she finds out these people want to infiltrate AEGIS? And with her tech-based and telepathy powes, will she gather information from inside?

 

Even better: I never determined exactly what supervillainous organization Diane was unkowingly working for before her transformation... And ECHO fits the bill perfectly! Someone inside AEGIS might even want to sell her back to them as part of the bargain, and get rid of a nuisance at the same time...

 

:wub:  I'm in love with this plot.

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Hah, well, thanks for the reminder that we do actually have active PCs related to AEGIS, SG! 

 

(That had been my next question) 

 

What can the carriers do that existing AEGIS facilities can't, Ari? 

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Ari, while I am all for some possible story involving AEGIS that gives our PCs closely associated with the organization some interesting things to do, I think trying to shoehorn AEGIS into SHEILD's place in Winter Soldier is not the way to do it.

As I pointed out, AEGIS is a law enforcement agency, not an espionage agency. Any information gathering it does is the same as any other law enforcement agency does, gathering evidence to be potentially used in a trial, which necessarily is often a long drawn out process. To move AEGIS into the military would be a fundamental change in its nature. For one thing, it would pretty much lose its ability to operate in the United States, except in the most extreme of circumstances, and even then only by request/order of a governor or the president.

In addition, the types of information gathering its agents have currently been undertaking is very different than normal intelligence gathering, so their expertise would not translate well into operating in an international scale, where there are already a number of federal intelligence agencies operating that DO have the expertise.

And if they are mainly to be yet another national defense intelligence agency, why do they need a "flying fortress"?

The other plot hole I see is that this group's offer to foot the majority of the bill for building these "flying fortresses" is a sure fire way for pretty much everyone to wonder what their motives are. Patriotism is nice and all, but that is an extreme that would certainly make a lot of people wonder what they are really up to.

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What can the carriers do that existing AEGIS facilities can't, Ari?

They're better protected, both in actual durability and on-board defences as well as location, being able to hover high in the sky. They can carry and support significantly more equipment and personnel than a regular AEGIS base does (with regular supplies), and are built to gather and transmit data from both their labs and sensors with much greater speed and security.

Also don't forget Argonaut, Avenger.

Thevshi, I agree entirely with all your points. This is indeed forced, awkward, unnecessary and has significant plot holes. But I think that can be worked around.

 

Central to the problem is that, as you say, this change of station affects how it operates mainly by making it harder to actually do things on American soil without explicit permission. But its role of producing weird science to fight extraordinary threats and monitoring for such threats would be largely unchanged. Rather than merely super-police, they'd take on the role of a cross between the DIA and DARPA.

 

In addition, the types of information gathering its agents have currently been undertaking is very different than normal intelligence gathering, so their expertise would not translate well into operating in an international scale, where there are already a number of federal intelligence agencies operating that DO have the expertise.

Quite true. But for the longest time AEGIS, along with searching for evidence to bring people to trial, has also had to find weaknesses, get information on peoples' capabilities and resources, and other strategic necessities in a wide variety of situations. I feel we can allow for some overlap on that front.

 

And if they are mainly to be yet another national defense intelligence agency, why do they need a "flying fortress"?

Partly it's just artistic license, but the fortresses allow for rapid mobilization against threats and protection of people and data to a far greater degree than, say, an underground bunker.

 

The other plot hole I see is that this group's offer to foot the majority of the bill for building these "flying fortresses" is a sure fire way for pretty much everyone to wonder what their motives are. Patriotism is nice and all, but that is an extreme that would certainly make a lot of people wonder what they are really up to.

Again, a good point. If you were trying to figure out how to rebuild your deck, and somebody just showed up and offered to help pay for and build the deck, you'd wonder that too. But in a world where there are super-philanthropists like Miss Americana or the Rhodes Foundation, and technology firms like HAX daily provide super-scientific solutions to problems, not to mention how the [whatever] Group has a pretty much totally clean record by this point, ameliorates that somewhat. And AEGIS is a prominent and respected enough institution that I'm going to assume plenty of other companies would be eager to have 'helped bring AEGIS into the future' on their walls. The prestige and connections would presumably dwarf the monetary cost for the really heavy-hitters.

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Arichamus, after discussing it with other Refs, I think what you're proposing is too much of a change to the setting.

 

A story where AEGIS is being infiltrated by a super-science based supervillain organization is a great idea. The villainous organization itself sounds like a great idea. You could easily do the story SG is interested in without the MacGuffin of the carriers. 

 

Fundamentally changing AEGIS's mission on a long-term basis, however, is too much. What you're proposing is a bedrock shift in the nature of law enforcement in the Freedom City setting. And that needs significantly more groundwork than the desire for an extended Winter Soldier visual homage. 

 

This is probably something best-saved for that homebrew setting you're currently working on. 

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Sure thing. Thanks for giving it a fair shake, Avenger & other Refs, it's appreciated.

As for the alternative, AEGIS being infiltrated and subverted without a change in mission or so on, I'm glad that's passed muster.

So, other folks, how do you figure that should go? I've already talked a great deal about this, and at this stage it's probably best if I step back for a second.

Souffle_Girl, your thoughts? HG_Morrison?

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