Sentient Worlds Observation and Response Department, AKA S.W.O.R.D., is an Earth-based espionage agency charged with handling extraterrestrial affairs. S.W.O.R.D. works in tandem with the international law enforcement agency Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate, AKA S.H.I.E.L.D.
S.W.O.R.D. pools resources with and information from S.H.I.E.L.D. when needed. S.W.O.R.D.’s existence is highly classified, and it was only through the efforts of former S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury that the organization became aware of their counterpart’s activities.
As a subdivision of S.H.I.E.L.D., though autonomous, S.W.O.R.D.’s membership includes both human and extraterrestrial agents, and the organization employs extraterrestrial technology, such as faster-than-light travel. S.W.O.R.D. agents are also given psi-shields to protect their minds from psychics.
S.W.O.R.D.’s current director is Abigail Brand, a half-human-mutant and half-alien hybrid able to generate burning energy in her hands, making her an ideal candidate to run S.W.O.R.D.’s space station, Peak. Her chief operatives include psychic extraterrestrial Sydren and Agent Deems.
At some point, the extraterrestrial “dragon” Lockheed is secretly recruited into S.W.O.R.D. as a mole to observe and report on the activities of the mutant heroes the X-Men in exchange for S.W.O.R.D.’s help resolving some pressing homeworld issues. S.W.O.R.D. operates in Earth’s orbit in a space station called The Peak (VII).
S.W.O.R.D. initially works with Ord, an ambassador from the planet Breakworld with information from the future about an X-Man that will destroy his world. Though his tactics lead S.W.O.R.D. to break ties with him. The agency also faces Thanos’ armada and Sidrian hunters.
Dedicated to Protection
As a subdivision of S.H.I.E.L.D., S.W.O.R.D. is affiliated with their directors, such as Nick Fury, Maria Hill, and later Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man, and the Avengers, though the orbital agency operates independently. They put tabs on the X-Men, watching them closely and plant a mole within their ranks, that of Lockheed, but eventually ally with them many times over against alien threats.
Ord, an ambassador from the planet Breakworld, alerted S.W.O.R.D. to a reliable vision of the future seen by his people’s augurs (psychics). In this vision, one of the X-Men destroyed Breakworld. Hoping to prevent the prophecy from being fulfilled, S.W.O.R.D. authorized Ord to seek an elimination of the mutant genome, employing Benetech scientist Dr. Kavita Rao to that end. Ord facilitated the kidnapping of the X-Man Piotr Rasputin, AKA Colossus, after his death, and secretly restored him to life for use in Rao’s experiments. When the X-Men investigated Rao’s operation, S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury and Agent Brand intervened, and ultimately took Ord into custody for abusing his privileges. Despite the scandal over letting matters with Ord fall out of control, Agent Brand faced a board of inquiry for misconduct but retained her position as director. Thereafter, S.W.O.R.D. continued to monitor the X-Men’s activities via bugging equipment and Lockheed, and kept track of the team’s battles with the sentient robot Danger and the evil twin spirit (or Mummudrai) of Charles Xavier, Cassandra Nova.
S.W.O.R.D. discovered that the X-Man in the prophecies of Breakworld was Colossus himself, meaning that Ord had potentially set in motion the very event he had tried to prevent. S.W.O.R.D. kidnapped the X-Men—along with Ord and Danger—and related their information to the team while en route to Breakworld. Determining that Breakworld had sent a fleet to destroy the Earth, Agent Brand hoped that bringing Colossus into their sector of space would divert the fleet, and give them an opportunity to disarm Breakworld’s armaments before they could be launched to Earth. The Breakworld fleet shot down S.W.O.R.D.’s ship, but the crew and X-Men survived the crash-landing, then began to deal with the planet’s Powerlord Kruun. Agent Deems was captured and tortured by Kruun, but used his position to conspire with Kruun’s aide Sylatin.
During the Skrull's invasion, S.W.O.R.D.’s space station headquarters, the Peak, was destroyed by the “Dum Dum” Dugan Skrull imposter. In the wake of the Skrull invasion, Tony Stark was stripped of his standing as Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D. leader, and the CSA appointed Norman Osborn, AKA Green Goblin, as Stark's successor. Osborn reorganized S.H.I.E.L.D. as HAMMER and let S.W.O.R.D. retain its autonomy, rebuilding the Peak. Afterwards, Beta Ray Bill visited the Peak to obtain information on Galactus’ whereabouts and take out the genocidal maniac Voidian’s armory and he agreed. He returned to Peak with Voidian in custody. Agent Brand later recruited Jessica Drew, AKA Spider-Woman, who had been impersonated by Skrull Queen Veranke during the invasion. Drew was tasked with helping ferret out Skrulls still living on Earth, and for her first assignment she was sent to Madripoor to hunt down Koru Kaviti, a Skrull believed to be fourth in command under Veranke.
Later, S.W.O.R.D.’s leadership split between Brand and former Avengers-liaison Henry Gyrich, and Beast joined S.W.O.R.D. as well. Brand believed Gyrich was an Osborn-appointed pawn, and she was right to distrust him considering she later uncovered his plans to rid Earth of all aliens. After Gyrich ordered that all aliens on Earth be deported immediately, many S.W.O.R.D. employees were subject to this order, and Brand, being half-alien herself, became a fugitive. After escaping capture thanks to help from Lockheed, Brand bribed Gyrich to avoid a scandal, letting him go if he resigned his post at S.W.O.R.D., which he accepted.
S.W.O.R.D. then worked with Cyclop’s X-Men team and Brand assigned them missions. When the X-Men warred with the Avengers, S.W.O.R.D. sided with the latter and gave key intel to X-Men’s longtime foe Max Eisenhardt, AKA Magneto.
When Thanos’ armada attacked and attempted to capture Peak to ahead of his invasion of Earth, Brand contacted the Guardians of the Galaxy. The Guardians arrived and held the armada back while Brand set the station to auto-destruct. the station exploded shortly after she and the Guardians made their escape. Later, Peak received a visitor, the royal science officer of the Skrull Empire, K’eel R’kt who survived his planet’s destruction by the Builders. He offered to help SWORD protect Earth who could face war with the Builders imminently.
Shortly thereafter, Peak was rebuilt and the ferocious Shi’ar warrior Cal’Syee Neramani, AKA Deathbird, showed up at S.W.O.R.D.’s doorstep near death. S.W.O.R.D. called in the X-Men to investigate. After the X-Men arrived to Peak, the station experienced an onslaught by Sidrian hunters out to capture Deathbird. S.W.O.R.D. tracked the source of the hunters’ point of origin: a secret lab where Deathbird was held captive, presided over by the mysterious Sharada Darthri of the Providian Order. While the X-Men’s investigation continued, Ororo Munroe, AKA Storm, and Dr. Cecilia Reyes discovered that S.W.O.R.D.’s Agent Manifold Tyger was a double agent, working for the Providian Order the entire time. A horde of Sharada Darthri’s broodskrulls attacked the Peak, but the X-Men’s Rachel Grey (now Rachel Summers, AKA Marvel Girl) was able to defeat them.
Eventually the Canadian Super Hero team Alpha Flight replaced S.W.O.R.D. and Brand became the lieutenant commander of their team’s low-orbit space station, known as Alpha Flight Space Station (A.F.S.S.), having turned down the role of commander. She reluctantly reported to Carol Danvers, AKA Captain Marvel.