John Clark and Mike Charles are agents with Echelon 6.
The small department is a brand new group created by the President to handle "oversight and coordination of domestic and inter-national intelligence operations". Trying to come up with a way to handle the "whole hydrant-pissing" problem that plagues the community, he signed a secret directive forming this way of cutting through the red tape that each official agency invariably used to keep their secrets inside.
Each of the major organizations were "directed to offer three candidates for consideration" but for reasons known only to the President, two of those three had to have no background in intelligence. "Strictly civvies" but people who "not only think outside the box but in fact live outside the (intelligence) box."
Mike Charles is already a CIA agent when Echelon 6 is formed. He is the man from the inside the Agency picked and his recommendation of his old college friend and now noted newspaper sportswriter, John Clark, brings that man into the fold.
When we first meet the two, it is many years before the Echelon 6 days, back when both were in college and both had not a whole lot more on their minds than occasional study and constant chasing of skirts. The adventure they would have together would cement an already solid friendship and lay the groundwork for what would come a decade later. The second adventure brings them back together in another wild and unplanned escapade but this time Charles is used to it. After that, the two would find themselves reunited occasionally for even more dangerous jobs.