Home > World-Building > Day Two Hundred and Twenty: The Shadow Agency

Day Two Hundred and Twenty: The Shadow Agency

For the month of December, I’ll be world-building. This means taking a look at the people, places, and institutions that I have created over the last six months and trying to figure out more about them. This will involve a look at the stories in which they’ve appeared, and then some speculation, stream-of-consciousness writing, and with any luck a few revelations. In addition, I may come back and add new material as the Elves in my unconscious ship out new ideas, so I’ll be sure to link them up.

Your feedback as readers is, of course, more than welcome. There are probably questions that I’m forgetting to ask and holes that I need to fill.

Wish me luck!


I’ve mentioned here a couple of times that I have a deep-seated distrust of corporations, but did you know that distrust also extended to the government? Why yes it does, but in a different sort of fashion. Where I have nothing but contempt for the way that corporate entities abuse their power and manipulate the public, I have a kind of grudging admiration when the government does it.

Why? Too much X-Files when I was young and impressionable, I suppose.

But also, the motivations for government secrecy seem ever so slightly more legitimate than corporate endeavors. If a government is engaged in a massive conspiracy or cover-up to protect national interests, to defend the security of the nation, or to protect its people, I can kind of get where that’s coming from. If a company is hiding data, falsifying studies, and engaging in unethical behavior just to turn a profit or to boost its stock price, I find that reprehensible.

It’s not the kind of moral distinction that can help you sleep at night, but I think a lot of people would agree. After all, men and women who sign up with the national military, kill and destroy in the name of their country, are generally considered heroes. Men and women who sign up with a private company – Blackwater/Xe, for example – kill and destroy in order to pull down a fat paycheck, well… let’s just say there’s no holidays in their honor.

So, it felt natural that I should come up with a government agency of my own, to be used where I see fit, and that agency is the not-so-creatively named Department of National Security.

The DNS has shown up in a few stories so far. Here’s what we know about them:

104: Discipline

  • The DNS took in Carly Siminsky after her powers manifested.
  • They’re training her in their use.

133: Khrys Ferro 1

  • The DNS deals in counter-terrorism action.
  • It has field agents and bureau agents.

135: Khrys Ferro 3

145: A Little Rain

  • They have a database on metahuman criminals.

180: Away from the Green

  • They’ve enlisted the help of Evelyn Pierce.
  • They fight drug trafficking.
  • They have experience dealing with metahumans.

189: The Bad News

  • They have been holding Carly Siminsky for several years – five or six.
  • They have a desert training facility.

Okay, I think that’s about it.

So far, nothing really earth-shattering. They deal with superhumans, but they don’t keep them a secret or anything. And there’s no indication that there’s any kind of super-human registry or anything like that. The DNS just keeps tabs on them and tries to enlist those that it can into helping it deal with its problems.

Of course, it can’t just be that. There has to be something more insidious going on. And once I figure that out, I’ll look forward to exploring it.

What I do think I know about the DNS is that it’s been around for a very long time, but has only been public for a few years. The way I see it, the DNS was an extra-legal department that connected various agencies in the United States government: the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, DoD, IRS, State Department, all of them needed to keep in touch with each other somehow, but lawmakers had done a fine job of firewalling them off from each other.

Much like life, bureaucracy finds a way, and by the time World War 2 was in full swing, there was a network of connections between all those major agencies. That network grew into a shadow agency all its own, funded by siphoning off from the departments that Congress knew about. The attacks of September 11th, 2001 were a chance for the agency to come out into the open – somewhat – but at the same time required that it be forced to perform more mundane, publicly-visible tasks. Like counter-terrorism, for example.

And just like an iceberg, of course, much of the DNS is hidden well out of sight, still dealing with the connections between agencies and issues that don’t really fall into the bailiwick of any one department.

I will have to figure out more specifically what they do, of course. There are certain things that the CIA or the FBI already do very well that it wouldn’t make sense for the DNS to copy, so I’ll have to figure out what those things are. Right now I know that one of them is dealing with metahumans – so pretty much any metahuman story is going to end up with the DNS in it somewhere.

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