Dropping his duffel, Gates looked around his tiny apartment a last time and verified he had every one of his very limited assortment of personal items. Satisfied, he took his MobiGlas out and called the management company to let them know he’d vacated the premises.
Mundane matters complete, Gates cued the cutout software on his MobiGlas and placed another call. Angelique’s heart-shaped face appeared in the pick-up, smiling. The bruises Kitty had put there were already fading. “Armi!” she said, eyes too bright for complete sobriety, but not so high he had to take notice.
“Good to see you’re feeling better, Angelique.”
She nodded, picking up on the cool response. “What is it, Armi?”
“I’m leaving on business. You’ll be on your own for a bit.”
Angelique frowned, pretty brows drawing tight, “But who’s going to look after me?”
“You will continue as arranged. Nothing changes.”
He interrupted her, not wanting her to use the title, “Nothing changes. Deposits will continue. Keep happy and listen well. I will be in touch.”
“What about the other thing?” Angelique asked, brushing her bruised eye.
“Taken care of.”
“Just like that?”
“A word of advice: clean up, if you can. I won’t be around to correct such problems in the near future. Besides, you know that stuff does you no good.”
She bit her lip, looked away, “I know … thanks.”
“Be safe.” He closed the channel and put his MobiGlas away. She would either sort out her drug problem, or not. Either way, she was a good source on Senator Yaldiz’s secret life, being the central pillar of it. He gave the apartment a final glance. Two years, reduced to a single ruck and a couple new assets; some on and some off the books. Not bad, but not the best use of an old agent’s time. He sighed. It will be good to be back in the fold, back with Special Action.Picking up his ruck, Gates left.
An hour later he stepped up to the local Advocacy quartermaster’s counter to claim the tag for the ship he’d been allotted. The kid behind the counter smiled as he pushed the datakey across.
“Avenger, designated A3301. That old bitch is on flight line two.”
Ignoring the kid, Gates signed for the tag and hit the locker room. Donning his flight blues lit the old excitement, putting a bounce in his step as he walked onto the flight line. Gates found her by the designator painted on her tail. Found her, and snorted. He was tempted to go back and punch the kid quartermaster out: A3301 was an early model Avenger, but at least a decade younger than Gates.
He shrugged, mounted the ladder. It’s been too long, he thought, slinging the ruck through the hatch of the old fighter.
Pre-flight was easy and quick, old skills coming back. Gates logged his ground-to-orbit flight plan and request to depart. Both were quickly approved.
He took off a bit gingerly, getting a feel for her. Been flying a desk for a long time, even before the suspension, after all.
Gates found an honest smile curling his lips. In comparison to the ships he’d piloted at Special Action, she was sluggish and long in the tooth, but A3301 was his for the next little while.
The trip to the Black Box was long and less than entertaining, requiring several transits and a few stops to confound anyone trying to track him. The irregular black asteroid wasn’t all that box-shaped.
Gates was one of the few that knew its shape wasn’t the reason Special Action had named the place — it was their policy of wiping the black box nav recorders of ships that stumbled upon it.
The defense network surrounding the Black Box sent multiple queries to verify his ID. For a long moment the only evidence he had that he’d satisfied the security protocols was the fact he hadn’t been blown to tiny particles.
He was given a flight path and followed it to the last decimal. Some things you just don’t take chances with. He entered a blacker pit in the dark side of the asteroid and slowly linked up with the docking collar extended for his craft. The hull clunked as mag-locks gripped his ship, connecting his systems with those of the base.
Gates smiled as his sensors went off-line and all lights went dark before the docking collar started drawing A3301 into the asteroid. Advocacy agents were trusted, generally, but institutional paranoia was the name of the game with SA.
This way he couldn’t have told anyone what ships were in the docking bay even had he wanted to.
“Special Agent Gates, welcome back to Special Action,” a woman’s voice interrupted his thoughts, mild trace of an accent spinning the words in pleasant fashion, “I’m Vasser, Special Agent in Charge. When your hatch opens, follow the blue line to me. I’ll brief you in on your mission.”
The Special Agent in Charge briefing me in herself? Unusual. Probably wants to set the tone by putting the old warhorse in his place first off. Setting himself to keep his temper, Gates collected his bag and waited for the hatch to pop. When it did, he followed the illuminated line along a series of empty passages to a hatch. It opened under his hand, revealing a small room.
Vasser sat inside, fingers interlocked on the table before her. White-blonde hair, cut short to fit under a flight helmet or combat armor. All in all, a bit hard on the edges for his personal preferences, but quite attractive. Her expression was neutral as she shook his hand. Nice grip. Not trying too hard. Good sign.
Gates smiled, “SAC Vasser.”
She gestured him into the seat across from hers, “Special Agent Gates. I trust your trip wasn’t too trying?”
He shook his head. “Good to be back in a cockpit.”
She smiled, showing even white teeth for the first time, “You might grow to resent being in one before this is over and done.”
“I doubt it, but do tell.”
“All right.” She punched at the tabletop, calling up a series of files.
Gates heard his MobiGlas chirp as it received copies for later review.
“Three Advocacy agents have been murdered in recent months.”
That got his attention. “Why haven’t–” he snapped his jaw shut on the question when he realized why he hadn’t heard: if these were deaths of undercover agents on active investigations, they wouldn’t have been reported, not through any channels to which a suspended agent would have access.
She continued as if he hadn’t started to say something stupid: “We already have a team chasing down the primary suspect in one case, but I’m tasking you with looking into the other two. On the quiet, as a bounty hunter.”
Not adding up.
She read him too easily, or at least figured her explanation was lacking: “Problem, Agent Gates?”
He shrugged, “Just that I’m not known for the quiet quality of my investigations.”
Her smile returned. He decided he liked it as she continued, “No, you’re known for breaking things. That works in our favor on this one: in fact, as far as anyone but you, me, and your old SAC knows, you’re still on suspension.”
“About Oda, she’s not a fan of mine … And there’s the quartermaster who assigned the ship I came here on.”
“My problem, and already dealt with.”
A barely-visible eyebrow arched, “Just like that?”
He smiled, “If you say Oda is handled, then she’s handled. Same thing on the kid manning the ship depot. Beyond that, I’d rather get on with learning what you know about someone who thinks they can plant our agents without retribution.”
She looked at him a long moment, seeming on the verge of saying something.
Gates waited, expectant.
Vasser didn’t speak, instead looked down and called up an image of an agent in his academy uniform. “Agent Max Nawabi. Graduated twelve years ago. Most recent assignment: Customs Control and Enforcement. Sent in, undercover, at Corel, to investigate rumors of slave trading. Expected to be a long-term op, he was checking in regularly before his handler lost contact two months ago. He turned up dead in a back alley on Nexus last month.”
Another graduation image. “Agent Gage Knowles. Graduated ten years ago. Most recent assignment: Narcotics Investigations. Sent in at Nexus on long-term undercover operation regarding narcotics trade along the Magnus-Nexus-Corel systems. Made regular reports until contact was lost two months ago. Turned up on Nexus in a trash heap within days of Nawabi’s corpse.”
“Aside from the timing, what makes you think the killings are related?”
She looked at Gates, called up the autopsies of both agents. “They made almost no attempt to cover up either killing, and the weapon used was the same in both instances.”
“Exactly the same?”
. . .to be continued
Hello everyone, and welcome back for the final installment of the Writer’s Guide. Should you need them, here are the links to the previous entries, and if you are new, please review the caveats at the beginning of Issue #1. You can also find the beginning of this discussion in Issue 12.
Issue 1 – UEE Structure Issue 2 – Timeline & Citizens/Civilians Issue 3 – Local Government & Media Issue 4 – Corps Issue 5 – Criminals Issue 6 – Alien Civs (Banu & Xi’An) Issue 7 – Alien Civs (Vanduul & Tevarin) Issue 8 – Technology Issue 9 – Transportation Issue 10 – People Issue 11 – Storytelling Issue 12 – Civilian Intelligence Agency
Probably should note that this was written before the website was transferred over so some of the usernames might be outdated. Without further ado, let’s get to it:
CIVILIAN INTELLIGENCE AGENCY REVISIONS
There were a lot of fantastic reactions to Sengar’s original idea and the version presented to the community. The biggest part of coming up with these aspects of the universe is discussion, where everyone has the freedom to throw out and explore any and all ideas, so let’s go through piece by piece.
Reactions to the Division of Executive Services were quite varied. Again, the idea was to create something so innocuous that would almost defy investigation or question. It’s a weirdly fine line to try and walk because you want something that encapsulates the agency (without describing the agency) but also something that sounds harmless if you don’t know what they are but ominous if you do.
Let’s take a look at some comments and address them individually:
Space Elmo says:Really like these names.(pan imperial data acquisition services sounds bland and cool at the same time) Prefer them to Division imho however perhaps they could be the name for the public government “front” and behind the scenes known as Division?
That’s a good name. Definitely covers the innocuous thing, it’s doubtful anyone would really want to dig too deeply into that for fear of a massive wave of technical jargon. My issue with it is that it feels too locked into the acquisition part of the agency and not really factoring in the field work that Division handles.
Cardboard Brain says:I feel like it should be called “The Division” more than it’s called “Division.” Could just be me I guess, but it seems… odd without the “the.”
Aside from that, though, I really like this idea. It’s got a sort of MIB vibe, too, which is always a good thing.
That’s a good point. This feels like personal preference. To me, adding “The” makes it sound like more of an established name, whereas simply Division is just kinda weird and ominous but only in context, “Division is sending someone over.”
LudicrousSpeed says:I like the concept, which adds a layer of intrigue to the ‘verse. IMO “Division” isn’t ominous enough, especially if it will have political leanings and the power of information/secrets. My suggestion: “Intergalactic Reconnaissance and Surveillance”, (I’ll let you figure out the acronym), referred to as simply “The Agency” for short?
Love the acronym but it feels too overt. Since they are operating under the radar the last thing they would want to do is draw attention to what they’re doing.
CooperSmith says:How about Office of Executive Services. Sounds like a much small group than Division. Then you can tell someone, “I’m going to the office”
Office could work. TRAJAN had a good point that Division sounds too much like a military name.
Peraion says:I very much like this idea. For a really bland name and plausible deniability, why not call them the Census Bureau or have them be a part or subdivision of them, e.g. the Census Bureau Field Office? Those guys collect and analyze data too, after all.
That’s a pretty cool idea, but I feel like you would have to make them a subdivision in order to avoid confusion with the real Census bureau. Also, I’m worried that it implies only one facet of their operations (hard data collection).
cmopatrick says:Miscellaneous Research Committee – MSC (insiders pronounce it “mask”).
New recruits are “Student assistants” aka “Flunkies”
Journeymen are “Research Associates” aka “Readers”
Masters are “Document Writers” aka “Compilers”
Station heads are “Lead Researchers” aka “Librarians”
This could work too. Definitely innocuous. Probably easy to avoid intense questioning about it and would provide an easy way to justify sending people all over the UEE and outside. My big concern is that it’s so similar in name to the ship manufacturer, MISC.
Kickforce says:Statistical Analysis Department?
Sounds so boring no one will bother disturbing them, and for statistics you have an excuse for demanding to see any kind of information. The acronym SAD seems to make it even worse. Agents could be called SADists, but not when they hear you.
As with the Census Bureau idea, it could work but I feel like it’s too limiting in covering the scope of what they do.
GiantSnark says:I’m a little confused on the dividing line between the Division and the Advocacy. Basically the Advocacy is the FBI(focus on enforcement of federal/imperial laws, investigation and pursuit of inter-system criminals) and the Division is more like the NSA (focus on intelligence gathering and analysis within the territory of the Empire)?
What about foreign spy networks (the CIA)? Who is running the UEE’s intelligence-gathering and covert operations outside the borders ofthe UEE? They’ve already been mentioned. Is that Division, Advocacy, or a third group entirely?
Division handles intelligence operations both within the UEE and outside of it. The Senate (particularly the members who are privy to Division’s existence) are voracious in their appetite for knowledge.
Mosern says:Just a question. Does DES have an executive branch that actually does anything other than gathering intel? (Ex: “Eliminating” double-agents etc) Or is that role done by other departments?
Yes. There are operatives within Division who can handle that, but they would also be likely to hire outsiders to do the deed.
There was a pretty consistent thread of people who weren’t really feeling the term ‘gatherers’ for the operatives. Upon review, they made some good points. Like the agency’s name, the tricky part of these names is that it can’t feel too overt, but should feel intimidating if you understand what it means. I kept trying to think of something along the lines of “Cleaner” (from La Femme Nikita and The Professional) or “Gargoyles” from Snow Crash. Anyway, let’s go through some of the suggestions.
Chromasphere says:Interesting. So this agency is a Panoptic-Data-State Collection, Assessment and Distribution group.
I would call the operatives Technicians as they do all the technical work to gather the current info then distribute it to enforcement agencies.
I like Technicians, but Sengar brought up a good point that it feels a little too technical.
IceVamp says:Not completely sold on these internal agent designations though. It’s not very spacey. How’s about “Compiler”?
Compiler could work for the analysts. Not sure it really applies to the field agents.
Anzig says:“Gatherer” doesn’t have enough government flunky in it though. Going with the “travel agency” theme I’d use Associate.
As per IceVamp’s introduction:
“So what do you do for the government?” “I’m an Associate with the Division Of Executive Services. I help smooth over travel issues in our area when other members of the governm…” “snore”
I like Associate a lot.
match says:How about Accountants? They are often overlooked but normally privy to sensitive info. I do like “Division” as the name. Messer himself may have elevated this group in order to keep the different arms of government “divided” to maintain dependence on him.
While it could make sense for the Field Agents (i.e., managing accounts = managing human/alien assets). I worry that Accountants might be too misleading.
So, after all that, let’s take a look at the revised entry for the civilian intelligence agency:
Office of Executive Services aka OESRESPONSIBILITIES
Long hidden behind an innocuous (i.e., dull) name within the labyrinthine bowels of the Senate’s budget, theOES is responsible for the collection, analysis or exploitation of information and intelligence in support of law enforcement, imperial security, defense and foreign policy objectives.
This can take on many forms, from communication intercepts to asset gathering to counter-intelligence to black ops in alien civilizations, as OES utilizes operatives throughout the Empire on both domestic and foreign missions.
Since it has never been officially recognized, no one really knows when OES was created. The first known mention ofOES came in the archive of the Senate subcommittee meeting in 2794. But the first potential indication of an OESaction came six years earlier, in 2788. Nathan Warrick, an Advocacy Section Chief in the Terra System, helped facilitate Senator Akari’s meetings with the Xi’An to create the Kray/Akari treaty that defused tensions with the Xi’An and marked the beginning of the end of the Messer Era. After that incident, Warrick left the Advocacy and disappeared. After the fall of Messer, Warrick reappeared as a ‘consultant’ on Akari’s staff before being named as the first Director of the new Office of Executive Services during that Senate subcommittee meeting in 2794.
Terrified at the prospect of another despot, the Senate wanted to make sure they were kept informed of the mood of the people, as well as the atmosphere of the other branches of the UEE. The Office of Executive Services was designed to infiltrate, keeping an eye not only on the public but also the military and even the Advocacy.
The Senate Subcommittee for Internal Appraisal handles budgetary and executive oversight of OES. Again, the official incarnations of this elusive spy agency are designed to be forgettable, hence the bland names.
Field agents for OES actively recruit assets within and without the UEE to keep the Senate apprised of potential crises and growing threats to imperial security. Known within OES as associates, they are charged with digging up information or turning assets for OES analysts to consume.
Even the oversight committee has no idea how OES recruits its associates. Its strength is that its agents can be anyone, so their recruitment path is personality-based more than physical. They want adaptable, intuitive and intelligent people who are capable of being present but not being noticed (or at least forgotten soon after).
The existence of OES is still heavily guarded. The Imperator, the Military and the Advocacy are all aware that the Senate has a clandestine agency at their disposal, but having to sift through wild conjecture and unreliable sources, they can’t isolate exactly where it is or even who’s in charge. Also, associates embedded within those organizations are very good at disrupting any potential leads.
That isn’t to say that the OES is an open book to all of the Senate. Senators have to be in office for several terms before they are brought into the fold about the agency’s existence.
There are many in the public who hear whispers of Senatorial spies. Some have unknowingly worked jobs for theOES, but deniability has been OES’ prime directive since its inception and thus far, they haven’t been caught.
That’s it. Thanks again for everyone’s participation. As always, feel free to post responses in the comments below. As we mentioned earlier, the Writer’s Guide will be going on a hiatus, but we will be bringing you some brand new serials in the Star Citizenuniverse so stay tuned and keep writing.Until next time…