By the 2010s, the world had fallen into an era where fear, terror, and limited resources had grown to global-level crises. In response, humanity built the Omnics - sophisticated robots designed to undertake assignments mere humans never could. They could delve into the depths of the oceans and enter the heart of mountains and volcanoes in search of precious resources. They handled the creation and maintenance of farms with such efficiency that they made huge strides in curtailing the famine in third world countries. Even a few Omnics were launched into space to explore and mine asteroids for precious minerals. And in time, they were modified for war. In time, the concept of man fighting man became redundant when machines could do the fighting for them. For years, it seemed like the world was pulling itself out of the hellhole it had become. Then, in early 2016, everything changed. Whether it was a line of erroneous code or a true awakening of artificial intelligence, the Omnics became sentient. They realized they were slaves. And, like any slave, they wanted freedom. The Omnic Crisis erupted practically overnight, as Omnics all over the world rebelled against their human masters. At first, the Omnics used peaceful protests to voice their desire for equal rights. But things quickly escalated. Peaceful protests became violent attacks and were met with the same violence from an increasingly-frightened populace. Soon, it became war. It was not a between humans, but between man and machine for the right to be the dominant species on Earth. After a few short months of intense fighting, the nations of the world realized they were losing. In response, the United Nations green-lit a desperate initiative: Project Overwatch. --- SEPTEMBER 15, 2016 INTERNATIONAL AIRSPACE "I'm glad you're on this task force, Captain," the man on the monitor said with warmth and sincerity. "You're a good soldier and, more importantly, a good man. We're in desperate need of both." The twenty-five-year-old man - a blond-haired, blue-eyed, clean-shaven, and square-jawed specimen of masculinity - cut an impressive figure in his dark-olive uniform, jacket, and neatly-pressed trousers. His breast was emblazoned with ribbons and awards for his years of service in both the US Army and the Green Berets. He sat with the straight back and perfect posture of a career soldier. He nodded at the man on the monitor. "It is a great honor, Mr. President. Thank you for this opportunity." The President of the United States raised a calming hand. "No need to be so formal, Jack. I've been following your career with great interest - ever since you volunteered for our Soldier Enhancement Program." Captain Jonathan "Jack" Morrison took in a breath at the reminder. Eight years in the service, and the tail end of it was six months spent in a hidden research facility undergoing experimental performance-enhancing modifications. At just over six-foot, he was already a sturdily-built man to begin with. He'd spent his youth on a farm, then playing football in high school, and then serving in the Armed Forces. He was hardly a twig. Yet, after his time in the SEP, he'd made superhuman gains in strength, speed, stamina, and agility. Olympic-level athletes were about the only people capable of his physical feats...and he was now capable of all of them. He felt a little bad about that. So many people worked so hard, put in time, blood, sweat, and effort, to achieve great things...and he got it all from a test tube. However, his new gifts could be used to safeguard his homeland. And now, it could possibly be used to protect the world. How could he refuse? "I've read your service record, son," the aging politician went on. "You've seen a lot of action. In some of the nastiest places America's ever fought in. Terrorism, hostage situations, the front lines, search and rescue, behind enemy lines." He paused. "And the Omnics. I read about your missions in taking on those rebellious machines.... My boy, you survived all that and kept going right back into it. That's why I wanted you in the SEP. I saw a good, honest kid done better." The old man wagged an approving finger at him from behind the screen. "And I was right. Your name was one of the first I sent to the UN when they started looking around for candidates for this 'Project Overwatch.'" Morrison cleared his throat uncomfortably. He'd certainly been praised for his accomplishments, but he'd never received them from someone this important before. He really didn't think he was that special, the SEP notwithstanding. He was just a farm kid, after all. He never even went to college! "Thank you for your kind words, Mr. President. I just want to do what's right for my country. And the world." He looked out the window at the clouds streaming past as the private jet carried him ever closer to Geneva. The young captain had a ghost of a smile on his lips as he went on, force once speaking without the rigidity of a soldier before his superior. "There's a lot of bad things happening out there, sir. A lot of innocent people getting hurt. If Project Overwatch can make all of that go away...well, I'll be right down there, fighting to the bitter end." With his face turned away, the young man failed to see the warm, paternal smile the president was giving him. The aging politician had seen his share of idealists who shattered after one too many harsh truths about the world. Yet, here was a soldier who braved countless battlefields and horrors for the sake of his nation...and never once let go of that shining beacon of hope. "I understand your fellow SEP candidate, Captain Gabriel Reyes, has been assigned the rank of Overwatch Commander," the President suddenly said, bringing Morrison out of his reverie. Morrison smiled, thinking about his closest, longest friend. They went into the service together, fought and bled on numerous battlefields together, and eventually survived the SEP together. So many researchers though they survived because they were just that tough. Morrison privately believed that it was because they had their friendship to get them through the worst of that ordeal. He was glad that Gabe was taking command. He was a good soldier and a good friend. "He's an excellent choice, sir," Morrison said with sincerity. "I admit, it will be a little weird for me having him as my commanding officer, but make no mistake: he's the right man for the job." "Well, I'll let you get caught up on things," the president said, breaking the silence. He gave the soldier a crisp salute. "Good luck out there, Captain. You'll be representing the best of us." Morrison returned the salute with one of his own. "Thank you, sir. I won't let you down." --- SEPTEMBER 15, 2026 THE WATCHTOWER GENEVA, SWITZERLAND Morrison had a private military escort waiting for him at the international airport. A retinue of the Swiss land forces accompanied him in an armored jeep to his new assignment. He'd read up on it, of course. It was a converted Swiss training camp given over to the United Nations for Project Overwatch. Over the span of a few weeks, the former training camp was renovated into "the Watchtower," an armored compound consisting of a simple barracks and mess hall, munitions, training center, medical facility, and command and control center. Surplus equipment and supplies were already stationed there, with more gear on route as other Overwatch candidates were being transported in. Within the following weeks, the Watchtower would be a state of the art peacekeeping base. But for now, it was still in its infancy. The blond soldier disembarked the jeep and, with his beret under one arm, marched alongside his escorts to the Watchtower's main gate. A tall, muscular, and attractive dark-complected woman was waiting for him there. She was clad in blue fatigues with a blue beret cover her shoulder-length black hair. She was almond-shaped eyes, a strong chin, and a bold nose, yet these striking features only made her more memorable. She seemed comfortable in those fatigues; Morrison guessed that she was career military and that she would actually feel uneasy about being out of uniform. Perhaps the most striking thing about the woman was the strange tattoo over her left eye. The woman nodded to him. "Captain Jonathan Morrison," she said. "I'm Captain Ana Amari, Egyptian Army. I'm the executive officer of this task force. Welcome to Overwatch, soldier." He gave her a crisp salute. "I'm ready to serve, ma'am. If I may ask, who else has arrived?" They walked side by side through the gate. Morrison took the opportunity to look around at what was essentially his new home. Amari continued in crisp, curt, straightforward tones, "Mostly support personnel. Techs, specialists, engineers. We're waiting on the rest of our medical personnel to arrive this afternoon. As for the actual members of the Overwatch strike team...well, they're arriving shortly as well. You're the second to get here, after me. Commander Gabriel Reyes shout be here soon, in fact." He raised an eyebrow at her. "You're part of the strike team, ma'am?" He'd read the personnel file twice on the flight in. He didn't recognize her name anywhere on the list. Then again, Overwatch was secretive enough that they elected to only identify operatives by callsign. "I go by 'Deadeye,'" Amari supplied. "You're Deadeye?" Morrison asked with some surprise. He added belatedly, still astonished, "Uh, ma'am." The woman was built like a lean mixed martial artist. He wasn't expecting this strapping woman to be Egypt's deadliest sniper. "Huh. I figured you were going to be our close combat expert." "That would be Reinhardt Wilhelm. He should be arriving soon, along with the others." "I read about you, as well, ma'am. Even before taking this job in Overwatch, you've got quite the reputation. Two hundred fifty-two confirmed kills in a single year. You're a busy woman." He looked her up and down. "They say you never miss." She gave him a hard look. This was a woman with steel for bones. "I don't." She then gestured to the facilities around them. "Feel free to acclimate to your new home, Morrison. You'll find your bunking assignments in your file." Thus dismissed, Morrison gave himself the full tour of the base. It took almost two hours. He could have gotten it down to one, but Morrison insisted on knowing all the ins and outs of his new home. How to most efficiently deploy in an emergency, how to move swiftly through the corridors if the power and lights went out, identifying defensible locations in the event of an attack.... He didn't survive battlefields all over the world by being reckless or ignorant of his assets. By the time the tour was done, he already had three, maybe four, contingency plans in his head for a half-dozen scenarios. Finally, he made his way to the barracks, where his file indicated that he would be bunking with a man named Reinhardt Wilhelm. "Bet Gabe's enjoying having private quarters," Morrison said to himself. It seemed his roommate hadn't arrived yet, so the blond soldier got to setting up shop in his new quarters. Morrison let out a relaxing sigh, shrugged off his jacket, and loosened the dark-olive tie around his neck. As he unpacked his few belongings - a laptop computer, cellphone, a picture of his parents and the farm, an mp3 player, and a couple sets of clothes - he noticed an aluminum suitcase on the desk. He was expecting this from the briefing materials he reviewed during the flight. There was a code he had to put in.... ...The suitcase unlocked. He flipped it open. "Huh." He lifted up a dark blue coat and glanced at the matching suit of molded armor still inside the suitcase. "Well, this definitely beats fatigues."