0900 in the !@#$ AM
Myron walked up to the office of The COMPANY's Second in Command, as he'd been ordered, less than three minutes ago. And, in true COMPANY fashion, he was already ten minutes late.
Of course, he was lucky he wasn't even later than that. He'd been so busy helping plan the upcoming takedown of GORGON that, if he hadn't chosen that moment to come off the floor for some coffee, the messenger might never have found him in time.
Some might call that good luck, but in The COMPANY it translated to "here's another boot up your !@#$."
So he'd dropped everything, including the coffee, and run like holy !@#$ to the nearest elevator -- full, of course -- and then the stairs. Ten flights down he wondered if he'd gone the wrong way, and kept going for another five until he was where he needed to be. And then, at last, after charging the wrong direction for too long (the directory sign had been put upside-down) he'd gotten here -- totally late, of course.
He was about to knock on it but someone shouted "come in." He did, rather nervously. SPYGOD was liable to shoot at him and then offer him a drink: what was this guy going to do?
(Look like he needed to have a few hours on the toilet, apparently. Was that his game face, Myron wondered. Or was he just frozen in that nasty glare?)
"You're late, Underman," the man said, rising up from behind his desk and reaching into it for something: "That's not a great way to start things out, now is it?"
"No sir, no," he stammered, trying to stand at attention and yet get ready to jump out of the way of the inevitable bullet: "I sort of got lost. I've never been on this level before."
"You should jog more, fat!@#$," the man replied, still looking for something: "It'll give you something to do with your new team."
"Uh... my what, sir?"
"Team. New. As in you have a team, now."
"I thought I already did, sir?"
The withering gaze came up from the desk and froze Myron's blood in his brain: "You were part of a team, Myron. You are now in command of one."
He'd found what he was looking for, apparently. A small pair of ornate little pins, much like he'd seen some of the Agents wearing: the Agents people tended to defer to and take orders from.
"Catch," he said, and tossed them at Myron, who did: "Congratulations, Myron. You are now a Warrant Officer. Do you understand what this means?"
"It means I'm in charge of an operation..." he said, looking at the pins: "But, what about GORGON?"
"GORGON can stew in its own !@#$ for now, Underman," the Second declared, slamming his desk shut on one end, and then opening it up on the other to pull out a large bottle of expensive-looking whiskey: "We need to go forward on OPERATION: BUGSMASH as of !@#$ two days ago. And, with SPYGOD sidelined in Africa, for right now, you're the man to do it."
Myron blinks, and thinks of a thousand different excuses he could make, right now. All of them wind up with either a tongue lashing, or being shot at. So he nods, takes the hooch bottle he's being handed, and upends it for a much-needed drink.
"The plan's pretty much set in stone, but you have the right to make any modifications you think are appropriate," the second goes on, handing over a data stick: "You were always going to be involved, given your area of expertise, but SPYGOD says you're the man to make it work, now. You'll need to pick a team of people who can do what the plan calls for, and you'll need to lead them, and as many Agents as you think you'll need, into the !@#$ when it goes down. You have supreme authority, but also supreme responsibility. So if you don't want to do it..."
Myron blinks again, mid-gulp. Did he just get a 'get out of jail free' card?
And if so, does he dare take it?
He thinks about that. He thinks about how his life's been turned upside down since that fateful day that The COMPANY took him into custody, and then more or less drafted him, instead of shooting him in the brains. Up until this point, he hasn't had a choice about anything, really.
Is this a test, then? If he says 'no,' will a giant boot come out of the floor and kick him in the junk? Will he be made to peel onions in the mess hall? Forced to !@#$ a bear for the FBI?
He thinks about that really !@#$ quickly, puts down the bottle, and nods: "I'm in, sir."
Then he takes another, longer, and more forceful swig before he can change his mind, or the Second takes the bottle, or the pins, away from him.
* * *
Generally speaking, there are three kinds of people who work for The COMPANY in any kind of !@#$-kicking capacity: Agents, Superheroes, and reformed Supervillains.
All American Superheroes, whether they're powered or not, are supposed to be registered with the Federal Government, and given a license. It's not absolutely followed, of course, and some heroes proudly flout the law. But being licensed means that a Super has a degree of protection from the results of his actions while being a hero, including partial immunity to lawsuits for actions taken while being heroic, and legal immunity for any laws that were broken at the time.
Unlicensed heroes don't get !@#$, and are subject to prosecution for running afoul of anti-vigilante laws. Some, like The Owl, have been skirting the edge of the law for ages. Others get caught and are made examples of by overzealous District Attorneys, jealous cops, and the catspaws of organized crime.
As part of the license, all registered Supers are classified as Strategic Talents, and made reserve members of The COMPANY. They can be called into action at any time, sent anywhere in the world, and made to do anything that The COMPANY deems necessary at the time. Alien invasions, reality inversions, superwars, and massive operations against supervillain teams or foreign nations taken over by powerful and evil folks are common reasons to be drafted in yet another "Super-Slam."
(Or, as some have termed them, "Super Hero Gang-Bangs.")
Yet, in an organization that exists to keep Supers available to handle extraordinary threats, the Supers are the low people on the totem pole. The Agents are actually above them in rank, and entitled to tell even the most powerful of Supers what to do, when, and how.
This is because the Agents are the ultimate bad!@#$. The people who survive Hell Month come out of it highly-motivated, ultra-loyal, and more than a little nuts. They are held in extremely high esteem by SPYGOD, who has gone on record saying that he'll trust the judgment of his worst Agent over the best Strategic Talent, every time.
But at least the Superheroes can take some solace: they're not the bottom of the pile. That place of distinction goes to reformed Supervillains who are working off their debt to society by being The COMPANY's super powered slaves. When a villain comes before SPYGOD, he can do whatever the !@#$ he likes with them, without much in the way of legal recourse, and he just loves putting their slack !@#$ through as many wringers as he can.
Why the tremendous, almost un-American latitude? Because, technically, being a Supervillian is tantamount to being an enemy agent, and, since the Cold War, such persons don't get much in the way of trials or rights. In the time since the Computer Hell virus, the comparison has shifted to terrorists, rather than SQUASH-led Supercommies, but the same theory fits.
Myron has been an obscenely lucky man, thus far. His utter incompetence at being a supervillain led SPYGOD to be uncharacteristically merciful, and let him work off his debts in short order. As of now he's classified as a Superhero, rather than a villain, but he's still running around and shouting "how high" when normal Agents say "jump, you !@#$."
But the pins? That changes everything.
On occasion, SPYGOD sees fit to put a Superhero in charge of an operation, or ongoing concern. At those times, the hero is made into a Warrant Officer, officially makes that man or woman not only an actual Agent, but an Agent in charge of an operation. The Agency may only last until the show's over, and then it's all back to normal, but on occasion a Super has been allowed to retain the Commission, even without the leadership issue, and remain an actual Agent.
This is essentially the mad, bad dad handing his uncertain and tremulous son the keys to the Corvette, a bottle of hooch, three guns, and use of his favorite hooker for just saying "yes sir" without fail or prompting a number of times.
And Myron just got the prize.
* * *
He leaves the office, breathes deep, and hoofs it for the stairs. He doesn't have any time to !@#$ waste on this one.
The pins feel weird in the neck of his uniform, but he's sure he'll get used to it. Will he get used to this power, though? Will he be able to order people around? Will they obey, or just laugh?
Something the Second told him gives him hope:
SPYGOD has every confidence in you. He says out of everyone he ever turned, he has the best feeling about you...
But then he had to ruin it:
... but if you !@#$ this up, you're vanishing into a hole in the ground. Get results, fat!@#$.
"Yeah, well, okay," he says, seeing the stairwell, and stopping to talk to himself in the safety window: "If we're gonna be !@#$, let's have some fun with it, huh?"
There's a pair of sunglasses in his pocket. He puts them on and imagines he's someone else. The big tough guy he couldn't be back in school, when talking back to bullies got him a wedgie, followed by a chocolate swirly.
"!@#$ yeah," he grins.