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The CIA Headquarters

"Citizens of Earth, my name is Tyrus and I am the Director of STRIKE. I have endeavored since I was given this position to improve ties with world governments and to create a sense of openness and trust with the world community. Unfortunately trust is a two way street and despite my best efforts, others have seen fit to not return the favor. Since it has been made clear to me that neither I nor STRIKE is trusted to do our job, I can no longer continue my attempts to be open and fair. As a result of not one but two abject betrayals by the United States Government that specifically told me it wished to operate in a sense of trust and respect I am forced to end my program. After today, the STRIKE offices scattered across the world created specifically to deal with the media will close until further notice. Our ties with the United States Government will be broken and all operations will be returned to their former state of internal information only. I regret to inform you of these changes but if you wish to know what made them necessary, I suggest you ask your elected leaders."

Purple-gloved fingers tapped together in contemplation as the recording continued. It'd been played all over the internet, starting five minutes ago. Immediately it'd found its way onto his feed, filling up all three monitors with Tyrus' projected image. A few hours had passed since the youth had last seen her, except then, her image had stood mere feet from where he sat, projected into his very office.

"When STRIKE was founded under the previous Director it was a private organization established to protect Earth from cataclysmic threats. As a result of its private nature and secretive operations many people rightly felt concern over an organization that acted on its own accord. When I took over the position I sought connections with the world, I sought to ease fears. Unfortunately governments have proven to be paranoid entities concerned more with their own agendas than the safety and security of the world as a whole."

An innocent smile crept its way onto his face.

"From this point forward STRIKE is once again returning to private status. That said, I will be making structural changes in the coming months that will have obvious effects. We will begin by opening embassies across the planet where governments can communicate with us, but we will not be beholden to any single government. Our second point of reorganization will be to establish a private network of support that will allow us to operate untouched by corporate or national interests. The third step in this plan is a simple defend the Earth. Whatever happens between states is left to them, STRIKE will, from this point forward, operate only in the interests of global security against major threats."

Teeth were showing now.

"I regret that these steps have been made necessary but I can no longer expose this organization to repeated breaches of trust and the blatant attempts of governments to bend us to their will and desire to use STRIKE as a weapon against their foes. We are a weapon but we are a weapon against those who would threaten the safety of the entire planet, not specific factions within it. There is a threat coming and when I have all the appropriate information it will be released globally. I will also make an announcement to the general population. This information will not be released until we are fully prepared to deal with what is coming."

A small chuckle escaped from between his lips.

Good God, did I just giggle?

"I tried repeatedly to work with governments and organizations. I was told groups like The Equalizers would work alongside STRIKE...only to have them used as a threat and potential weapon the moment the United States disagreed with one of our policies. To make matters worse, we were at no point given an opportunity to defend our policies, our support was pulled instantly and an operation with global security in mind was forcefully aborted to avoid a massive conflict. I have tried to be trusting, perhaps I was too trusting. Unfortunately cooperation and openness are a two way street and I am not willing to be the only one to walk down that path."

The recording ended abruptly, then repeated a second later. Already, the world would be reeling. What could it mean? Was STRIKE...gone?

The answer, of course, was no. Klaus was by no means concerned with this radical policy change. STRIKE would continue to protect the world from extraterrestrial threats, and they'd do so happily. While he was certainly at least partially responsible for this otherwise shocking turn of events, he was undoubtedly not the cause. By its very nature, STRIKE would draw ire from the governing bodies of most prominent countries; the United States were probably not solely to blame for...whatever this was.

It was the culmination of months of tension between STRIKE and the States, and something gave out on their end. Silently, the Langley Knave wondered if reintroducing Director Tyrus to her past had had more adverse effects than he'd initially projected. He'd done it to be good, but clearly, sometimes being good isn't the same as being right.

He stood up from his chair, pulling his mask down over his face from where it'd been hanging, hood-like, over his back. He'd changed out of his CIA attire about an hour ago, in preparation for his first complete meeting with the Consortium. Kai Aurelius would be responsible for the locale, and Klaus was incredibly excited to visit whatever exotic fortress or faraway stronghold the Undersea Liege had to offer. In fact, he was practically giddy. STRIKE would certainly be on the agenda, in addition to the group's mission statement and resource assessment. His thoughts wandered back to the Director as he strapped his Death Ray into its holster underneath his left arm.

The lights from his monitors cast eerie shadows around the room, illuminating only the stark white lenses of his magenta mask. And behind, a bemused smile of satisfaction put his happiness into perspective. It was not what he had done, it was that he had done something at all. Years and years lost, years and years with no choice; now he mattered. His world had been closed off to him by another, but now he was free to do the same to anyone, if he pleased. But of course not! He was a better man than Otto. No, he was the best man he knew. He'd compiled a team of the most dangerous beings alive, and he would make them heroes. He would make the world safe, not STRIKE, not the CIA, not anyone. Only him, and his Consortium.

He slid his magnificent dagger into its sheath with an effortlessly practiced motion, hearing it lock magnetically into place. How astonishing it was. He looked back at his monitors, still replaying the broadcast.

"Until we meet again, Director Tyrus," he said to the figure on the screen. Before he left, his eye caught his personal copy of Tyrus' old CIA file, resting open on his desk. Perhaps it was the source of his elation; indeed, he'd promised himself he wouldn't open it, that it was hers and hers alone...but the only way to remove temptation, of course, was to yield to it.

"Or..." he began, turning to look back at the screen, a devious smile filling his face, "would you rather I call you Samantha Arkett?"