Aegis Cognito was founded in the final days of the Internet as a small IT and data consultancy firm. It made a killing in the aftermath of the Crash by branching into data recovery and reconstruction, piecing together Virus-damaged and compromised data. It became famous with companies and individuals seeking to piece together lost research and business intelligence for its uncanny ability to recover and acquire difficult-to-retrieve information. While Europe wallowed in post-War depression, Aegis built an international clientele and developed into a world-class data retrieval and consultancy firm.
Later still, after the appearance of megacorporate intelligence divisions and the post-Euro-War restructuring of the European intelligence community, Aegis evolved into its current form as one of the world’s first independent intelligence agencies, digging itself a cozy slot alongside MET2000’s Argus, the French Infolio and the CAS-based Special Information Services (SIS), which soon followed suit.
Aegis and its counterparts fill a necessary place in the corporate ecology; many small and medium-sized corporations and even a few countries (not to mention powerful individuals and organizations) simply can’t afford the expense of integrated intelligence assets. This in turn restricts their access to various types of intelligence gathering that require long-term commitment (listening posts, sleeper agents, continual intelligence and market analysis, counter-intelligence overwatch, etc.). Many of these activities can’t be carried out by deniable and expendable assets (including most of the folks reading this) because they involve a lot more logistics, coordination and commitment than your average shadow crew can bring to bear. Aegis and Co. provide ready-to-use intelligence infrastructure and resources in just about any field for anyone willing to pay the hefty price tag.
Because their operations are specialized and smallscale, corps like Aegis rarely rate extraterritoriality; they have to find creative solutions to avoid getting pulped or swallowed up by the big boys they inevitably go up against. Some, like Argus and Infolio, are independent subsidiaries of bigger AA corps, while Aegis avoids acquisition by ensuring impartiality and making itself essential to everybody at the same time (and keeping enough dirt on everyone in its own files to dissuade possible takeover attempts). Aegis boasts an unblemished track record of confidentiality, but a clear clause in every contract states that they keep copies of the paydata they retrieve as a safeguard.
Aegis Cognito and its counterparts prefer to remain lowkey. Their reputations as independent information procurement sources in their specific fields do most of the advertising for them. Aegis possesses offices in eighteen countries on six continents, strategically located near flashpoints for covert action or particularly active intelligence sources or markets. Most people find Aegis’s physical and Matrix presences understated—a floor in an office building or an unassuming building in an office park.
These places are Aegis Cognito’s public front, where potential clients can find “case managers” for their individual agendas. The exception to this rule is the massive Torre do Tombo (also known as the Tomb) complex in Lisbon, Portugal, where the corp keeps its main assets and central databases. What used to be the National Archives building (and bunkers) was converted into a state-of-the-art secure fortress with zero-zone security.
The facilities that Aegis calls “op centers” are spread evenly across the globe. Using various fronts, they provide the backbone of the organization’s internal structure and represent a combination of staging areas, e-intel overwatch and intelligence gathering posts. Countries such as Aztlan, Russia, the Sioux Nation and the UK among others ban intel corps within their borders, but Aegis manages to get around those strictures.
So what does this espionage corp offer its clients? Quite a bit.
Intelligence Gathering Services
Aegis is a small operation, employing less than 7,000 people worldwide. Most are case managers/handlers and managerial, legal, office and research staff seconded to the corp’s various public offices. Less than 400 are highly trained field agents and infiltration specialists (many of whom are permanently in the field, operating under deep cover). Aegis accepts contracts to perform specific objectives and ongoing intel gathering, allocating resources as needed to fulfill contract specifications. When data-snatches, operative extractions, stings and even tailchasers are needed (as the case may be), Aegis has no compunction about complementing its excellent ground assets by hiring shadowrunners.
Aegis handlers generally provide all the necessary mission intel dossiers even when using freelance operatives, but in return they demand a high success rate and total confidentiality. Aegis runs are almost always high-risk; their own crack deckers are extremely efficient at acquiring low-security material through quasi-legitimate channels.
Data Subscription and Consulting
Aegis also provides subscription-based intelligence and news analysis, as well as access to huge information and personnel databases. Database subscriptions range from Pearl (5,000¥/month) to Obsidian (150,000¥/month) and give varying degrees of access to information in Aegis’s classified files. Pearl clearance gets you minimal corp and personality profiles on major figures, while Obsidian users get detailed personnel dossiers, strategic hotspot updates and meticulously researched corporate hierarchies. All mission-sensitive files or ongoing operation dossiers are kept out of the databases for six months after the relevant contract is terminated, but after that everything falls into the open databases. The vast Matrix and physical archives housed in the Torre do Tombo contain everything from personnel records to aristocratic genealogies to just-behind-cutting-edge corp research.
To complement its basic services, Aegis also subcontracts and outsources reports and forecasts to a number of independent (and not-so-independent) analysts and consultants on spec. Consultants range from academic scholars to specialists in diverse fields, depending on what the client requests. These analysts rarely receive a full brief—only the necessary details and parameters to provide a report—and are always left ignorant of who initiated the request. Specialists at Aegis then stitch together the final report.
The corporation retains its original focus: data reconstruction and decoding of physical records and damaged or missing old computer records. Its patented Enigma Knowbots are expert systems designed to rebuild files damaged or compromised (but not destroyed) by the Virus of ’29. Aegis personnel use a variety of other techniques to reconstruct similar lost data from fragments using fuzzy logic constructs, sifting code meshes and advanced multi-phase emulation software. Aegis is a world leader in the field and though data reconstruction nowadays represents a small share of its overall business, it remains a steady source of profit. Regular clients range from North American security agencies to megacorporate research divisions.
So what else do you really need to know about Aegis? Well, for one, nobody knows who runs it. Argus belongs to MET2000 and Infolio to the French group Index-Axa, but ever since Aegis’s founder Gustavo Carvalho passed away from cancer in 2051, nobody beyond the highest echelons of the company seems to know who is actually calling the shots. Day to day operations are run by Chief Operations Officer Teresa Santos (a Brazilian ex-pat), but no one knows anything about the current owner or owners. Aegis is a private corp, but exactly who it belongs to remains a closely guarded secret, part of the deal Aegis cut with Portuguese authorities back in the 2030s.