Steve Coops

ARGO – Illegal Science Experiments

Left to Right: McEwan, Watson and Blanchard

Left to Right: McEwan, Watson and Blanchard

Alpha Research Gathering Operation or Argo is a rogue scientific research group. Whilst there intentions are genuinely for the betterment of mankind through finding the answer to the Alpha Effect the fact that they consider their test subjects as expendable or collateral damage in terms of the greater good is why ARGO is such a huge threat to all Alphas.
Whilst the group sometime subcontracts research that often leaves the three to risk of capture. There more usual method of operation is to use advanced drones (supplied by the Mechaniac) to capture test subjects at night whilst they are sleeping. The individuals are then kept comatose during the experiments before being returned home, sometimes days later. The only thing the victim will be aware of is unexplained side effects of the experiments and missing time.


CLEA ORGANISATION DATA FILE

Organisation Classification:

  • Rogue Science Unit

Organisation Leaders(s):

Organisation Activities:

  • Illegal experiments on Alpha humans

Organisation Weakness(s):

  • Amongst the top most wanted organisations. CLEA have strived to shut them down so they have to keep on moving.
  • Have made enemies of many vigilante teams who openly seek the scientists and often have greater resources than CLEA.

Known Assets:

Notes/History

When Alphas first “appeared” early scientific research found another curiosity besides the “super human abilities” in that all the known Alphas at that time seemed to be immune from incurable diseases.
This fact was of interest to two young students, Blanchard and Watson who had suffered personal loss associated with such diseases. When the pair met at university they discovered they had much in common which included biology and genetics. Together they decided that once they graduated they would pursue careers which looked into the physiology of Alphas because they believed if they could replicate what internal genetic coding separated humans from Alpha humans then they could cure many diseases. The name scientists referred to this theoretical process was the fabled “Alpha Effect”.

Unfortunately for them, by the time graduation day came, Black Shadow had begun its purge on all Alphas so any careers in the field of study into these unusual people vanished. The pair therefore went their different ways and spent years advancing in their respective fields. The turning point for both came when Black Shadow was ripped apart by Zodiac’s actions and Alpha humans began resurfacing.

Making contact with each other the pair decided to carry out their goal they had set whilst they were mere students. Having some serious backing enabled the pair to form a private research company. They believed that the way forwards was not only by experimentation but also by collecting as much data on Alphas in general. Many companies in the past had all worked separately on the same goal but by isolating themselves Blanchard and Watson believed such companies had been covering the same ground.

What was needed was to amalgamate all the previous research to avoid repeating earlier studies before trying new investigations. Since the initial work would involve assembling the biggest database of Alpha research. Blanchard proposed they named the company the Alpha Research Gathering Organisation or ARGO. Though the full name was over descriptive, Blanchard thought the acronym “ARGO” was catchy enough to grab people’s attention.

Funding by large medical corporations, was a bonus since Alpha research data held privately could only be bought for huge sums of money. Just collecting and analysing that data alone took three years but once completed ARGO became the leading authority on Alpha Research. Then came the next part of the plan and that was to try new experiments, which entailed the use of volunteer test subjects. They opened up several small private research clinics for this and though they hired numerous specialist scientists to collect biological samples and perform tests, Blanchard and Watson still liked to get involved with the actual scientific side of things. They were very much hands on bosses in this respect.

Such research found many interesting secrets but not the one concerning the means in which Alphas where immune. Indeed it was ARGO research that discovered that a sustained weak electrical charge at the right frequency could prevent an Alpha using their unique gifts.

Developing the idea further ARGO created the prison collars for CLEA’s Fortress facilities which could be used to neutralise and contain Alpha fugitives. Having already established a link with CLEA, ARGO was given access to the prison population and was able to obtain a steady stream of volunteer test subjects in the form of prisoners that hoped to reduce their sentences through co-operation. No matter how much research ARGO performed they could not find the answer to immunity by normal means and so began using more invasive methods.

Once CLEA got wind of abusing prisoners in the name of medical research they immediately ceased its partnership with the organisation, and informed other law agencies around the world. Having outlawed ARGO, CLEA believed it had dealt with Blanchard and Watson’s means to continue but they were wrong.
Though the “legal” backers vanished overnight and they lost the resources of CLEA it was merely a setback.

Very quickly Blanchard and Watson discovered they had new “friends” in the form of suspect pharmaceutical companies that had a vested interest in their research but did not want to establish direct links that would raise suspicions with the law enforcement agencies. Limited to two members would not get the job done but they found plenty of people in the scientific community who had fallen foul of the law and were unemployable. They were only too grateful to get work and had the added bonus of not being bothered about working for an illegal company.

With backing from “secret” law abiding companies, ARGO would thus receive funds that were transferred through offshore accounts and dummy companies. CLEA eventually became aware of the cash flow but there was no direct proof to anyone that would stand up in a court of law.

The one thing they could not directly replace was the fact their research needed custom equipment which in the past had been provided by their sponsors. The pair therefore hired McEwen who was known to be a genius tech expert but had been disgraced for mismanaging funds. He’d made plenty of money before that happened and his arrogance knew know bounds. Though Watson and Blanchard wanted him as “another” researcher, he insisted on full partnership.

Though a compromise oOnce McEwan was on board the ARGO could now proceed without limitation. However being illegal they had no access to test subjects. Posting ads was out of the question since it would reveal their existence to CLEA. Desperate times called for desperate measures so just like Black Shadow had once found the means to locate Alphas, they too did the same by hiring people to kidnap new test subjects under the belief that the suffering of a few to benefit the many was a necessary evil.

CLEA soon learned of ARGO’s new methods and immediately began looking to close them down permanently but each time an illegal lab was found, before CLEA or law enforcement offices could make their move the operation is shut down, only to reappear some time later in another country. On several occasions the three “founders” were nearly caught after the people they hired to do the kidnapping “talked”. Whilst hiring researchers was not a problem, hiring people to kidnap the test subjects meant they would cross paths with the law. This had proved to be a weak link so, Blanchard and Watson decided to implement McEwan’s radical idea of using robot drones.

Having black market links with the individual known as the Mechaniac allowed him to get hold of the advanced machines which he could maintain. From that moment in time the group’s operations have remained relatively unchanged and they only stay one step ahead of the law because their victims remain unaware of what is happening to them by being kept comatose. To avoid drawing attention to their operations, ARGO tries to limit the length of time it holds onto its test subjects. Missing people always attract attention and the longer they are missing the greater the chance of somebody calling the authorities. Even if the victim or those around them later works out that something has been “done” to them, by the time police of CLEA get involved, ARGO will have moved on.

Whilst very careful to avoid attracting attention to themselves, ARGO has made some spectacular blunders. The first and most notable of these happened when a test subject, Michelle Bertrand (later known as Chrysalis) woke up during an experiment. Startled to find herself wired to some lab equipment she panicked and during her escape woke up another test subject Quinn McGrath. In making contact with him, a fully fledged Alpha, her unstable genetic matrix made his existing Alpha abilities unstable. Consequently she gained her Alpha abilities as per the experiment but from that moment on he lost control of his.
After recovering from what had been done to them, both swore vengeance on ARGO and made it their life’s mission to bring down the organisation. Later they teamed up with another of ARGO’s experiments, Stonewall, who wanted revenge just like them. She too had unexpectedly awoken after an error in her anaesthetic dosage but before escaping had stolen some of ARGO’s computer files which is how she tracked down Chrysalis and Quartz.

Over the course of a few years the trio caused more than a few problems for ARGO’s operations and slow progress in their work led to Blanchard making a severe error of judgment by trying to collect test subjects in the form of “Trident” . ARGO was planning on leaving North America due to the country becoming “too hot”. Blanchard figured in going after high profile targets they should make it worth the effort and they should keep the captives as permanent test subjects. After capturing Hornet and Hijack, Blanchard awoke Hornet and revealed his intentions in a bid to get her to reveal information leading to the location of Gecko. Tanya was tricked into telling Blanchard what he needed to know before sending the drones. However the units failed and Rachel managed to escape to MCI’s White Tower office block, Zodiac’s Atlantica base of operations.

This led to an assault on the tower by the drones during which Rachel and some of Zodiacs members were captured and taken to the ARGO facility by means of Banish (who had been captured some time earlier in the year and was being “controlled”). The entire Zodiac team mobilised and located the hidden facility and was successful in rescuing its own team and Trident. ARGO escaped without their prize but some time after that Banish got free of their control and joined Night Shadow.

One nights disaster therefore ensured that as well as CLEA to contend with, ARGO would actively be pursued by Zodiac, Trident and Night Shadow as well as their earlier “experiments”. This reduced ARGO’s means to operate freely for quite some time.

Taking a pause from operations allowed ARGO to reassess its methods. One problem that had becoming more evident over time was some of the impracticalities of using drones. Though they were efficient, the original Mechaniac designs were meant as machines of war. They were therefore not gentle on their test subjects and on occasions had fatally injured them. McEwan decided that the best option was perhaps some sort of cyborg. Raiders had proven how capable they could be in the field of battle. However Watson and Blanchard were against it.

Turning someone into a machine was not something they were prepared to do. The whole purpose of creating ARGO had been to try and find medical benefits for ordinary people. Though some Alphas had been lost it had never been a deliberate act. The experimentation was deliberate but in all cases they had never intended to kill anyone. Turning an ordinary person into a machine would fly against all of that, especially as the process would technically kill them, a deliberate act.

McEwan eventually came up with a second proposal – a synthetic robotic person. If covered in a skin like substance such a machine would be capable of capturing test subjects without damaging the goods. Unlike a cyborg though his idea would be a lot more expensive to produce.

This idea the other two liked. McEwan set to work but then ran into problems with the AI. Since the machine required more sensory feedback the adapted version he “borrowed” from the Mechaniac’s drones proved useless. This was eventually solved when Watson suggested they clone a human brain. Not knowing what to choose as a basis she suggested they clone both a male and a female brain.

Working together they pair managed to build a prototype but it took a long time to iron out all the bugs and get it to operate reliably. Once completed though McEwan could put them into production. Since they could be given a base programming they were given different colours for the task assigned to them. Some would act as assistants for the other scientists whilst others would work on retrieving new test subjects.

After they were spotted for the first time on the streets the press dubbed them “Argonauts” and the name stuck.