Sweethearts in college, high-threat protective agents in the CIA, now freelance security operators. Robert Chandler and Alexandra Wells have always been the best at what they do because they have always done it together. At the turn of the century, with their government careers behind them, Alex and Robert forge a new course for themselves in the private sector, and with the dangers the world is about to face, their decision could not be more timely. In West Virginia, a powerful CEO is about to walk into a volatile environment where the locals are always suspicious of outsiders and distrustful of corporate masters with foreign accents. One wrong word, one misstep, and the whole place could go up in flames. To make the situation worse, this CEO refuses any protection whatsoever as he journeys into what could be very hostile territory for him. Unhappy with this decision, his corporate board makes another one behind his back, secretly hiring a pair of covert security specialists to shadow him during his trip, just in case. ChanWell: smart, efficient, and deadly, they do whatever it takes to keep their clients safe when it all hits the fan. And, yeah, in 2001 Charleston, West Virginia, it definitely will.
In addition to her undergraduate degree in international relations from the University of Miami, Alex also had both a law degree (doctorate in jurisprudence—JD) and an MBA from George Washington University. She also spoke Russian like a native and had an excellent command of both French and German by this time in her life. So in addition to applying for a license to do contract security work in the states of Maryland and Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia, she also qualified for a private investigator’s license. More expensive and more hoops to jump through, but she and Robert looked at it as a sound investment for the future.
Robert got the security license, and he would have qualified to become a licensed personal defense instructor if he could have provided paperwork detailing his training at the Agency, but getting that would be more of a hassle than it was worth. And the truth was, who was going to know if the security services he provided included training in personal defense? Or cookie baking for that matter?
Alex and Robert had worked in the Office of Security at the Agency, officially 1810 series special agents/investigators, meaning they did not possess arrest powers, which was understandable considering that the CIA was not a law enforcement agency and no one employed there actually had arrest powers. Curious thing though, the uniformed protection officers, referred to as SPOs by insiders, did attend the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center—FLETC—in Glynco, Georgia the same as nearly every other federal law enforcement officer in the national bureaucracy, but even they were not entitled to arrest anyone, although they could detain people on Agency property, pending the arrival of actual law enforcement personnel with the power to arrest.
However, special agents in the Office of Security did not attend FLETC, but rather OS’s own internal security academy, from which both Robert and Alex had graduated with the highest of marks. They were trained as investigators—personnel security and counterintelligence—and protective agents—personnel and asset—, with additional specialized training in weapons and unarmed personal combat. Alex also received a private pilot’s license and Robert a full course in surreptitious access by covert means (breaking and entering without leaving traces), and a whole host of other very useful skills in their respective eight and ten years service to the Agency. So, they were quite marketable in the right market of the private sector.
The name they chose for their little two-person venture was obvious, ChanWell Investigations and Security, and both were listed as principal officers, with Alex primarily handling the investigative side while Robert concentrated on the protective. They ran the operation out of their apartment, using a dedicated cell phone and an internet connection. Far from the super high speed networks of today, but good enough for the turn of the century.
Within three days of getting their name out there through various internet sites, and after securing the necessary licenses, ChanWell got their first client, and wouldn’t you know it, a personnel vetting job. A new upstart was putting together a small team to do subcontracting work for a well-connected U.S. government contractor, they needed five people who could pass the rigorous kind of background check that Uncle Sam would conduct and they wanted to make sure they had the right people before submitting the names to their client. As this was how both Robert and Alex started out in OS, as field investigators primarily handling background investigations related to secret and top secret security clearances, the assignment presented no problems. However, there was a problem for the client. Instead of five names, they needed eleven to get to the five. The things you don’t know about a person until someone starts poking around in their backgrounds.