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All the world's a stage


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Beniboybling
01.06.2013 , 09:01 AM | #31
I love how you make it all sound so real! Detailed, but not heavy. Nice stuff.

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Syart
01.07.2013 , 02:27 PM | #32
They all learned very quickly that, by the nature of the work, Intelligence constantly expected to be operating in a web of lies and deceit. They were trained to suspect everything, to weigh up and judge all information against knowledge and experience. But never too much, a balance of sanity needed to be maintained and an unhealthy paranoia must not be allowed to develop. They underwent thorough psychological assessments on a regular basis.

The majority of them were loners by preference, but they were forced into frequent situations where they had to cooperate to succeed, or indeed to survive. Despite their solitary instincts, most of them developed a circle of close friends and learned to rely on each other. Many, including Lokin, even had a few brief affairs with fellow students over the years he spent at the Academy. But none lasted, and no-one expected that they would. Friendship was one thing, but close emotional attachments were definitely not encouraged.

That was probably part of the attitudes trained into them by the monthly so-called orientation sessions, which all were required to attend without exception. Death might have been a possible excuse, but even then it was reckoned among the trainees that you would need to present a fully signed death certificate in person.

None of them knew what happened in these sessions. For all of them it was the same; they remembered walking into the room, sitting at the desks, putting on a pair of headphones. Then they were outside the room and walking away again. The two hours in between were a blank. Obviously there was some sort of hypnosis and probably drug administration going on.

Lokin and a couple of the others doing medic training tried several times with blood and urine samples from themselves, taking them before and after the sessions and looking for any telltale metabolites, but there was never anything that they managed to identify. If there was a drug, it was a low dose with a very short half-life and which broke down into metabolic products indistinguishable from normal body chemistry. He never found out whether there was a drug or not.
Control, passion, diligence: these three principles shape your world.

Lord Scourge: To repeat a mistake and expect a beneficial outcome is a sign of insanity.

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Syart
01.07.2013 , 02:30 PM | #33
Apart from the orientation sessions, the training was much as might be expected.

Certain elements were common to all of the trainees, such as survival, living off the land, coping with hostile environments and wildlife; also survival of life in general, dealing with all sorts of cities, political systems, and social environments. They studied history, sometimes of the most obscure events and worlds imaginable, but which provided examples of different missions, approaches, outcomes. And general galactic knowledge, important strategic planets and trade routes, famous and not so famous battlegrounds. In general, anything which might prove useful to be built on in the future.

With regard to the more practical aspects of the job, all the recruits received at least basic training in the entire spectrum of the curriculum, but each of them rapidly identified the areas which their strengths lay. With the constant oversight of the instructors, and regular psych assessments, they were steered into the specialisations where they would be most useful and effective.

To his slight disappointment, Lokin didn't get very far in weapons training. He couldn't seem to cope with ranged attacks at all, consistently scoring way below average in target practice. He also didn't have the patience or eye for terrain needed for long range sniping, and it bored him, scouting an area, setting up cover and then possibly waiting hours for the one perfect shot. He would have missed the shot anyway, and wanted more action than that. Scouting was fine, but only as long as it was looking for a way to get into somewhere, out of somewhere, or past something.

So the instructors moved him into advanced infiltration and close quarters combat, training him in the use of stealth technology and sneak attacks, either unarmed or with close range weapons. He finally settled on vibroknife and blaster pistol as his weapons of choice, but never became more than acceptably competent with either.

He learned everything possible about security systems and defence mechanisms, memorising the schematics of all the common Empire and Republic spaceships and frequently used buildings. (As with the Empire, the Republic had its favoured designs for such things as spaceports, troop barracks, government and military administrative centres, and so on.) He practiced until he could literally get through the layouts blindfolded, not entirely practical in terms of watching out for the area's defences, but very useful for a swift exit from a building filled with dense smoke or a ship with complete power loss including lighting.

Sabotage and the use of explosives didn't interest him much, though he learned to use them for infiltration purposes.

What he most enjoyed was evading fighting altogether: techniques of avoidance, disguise, misdirection, diversion, distraction, or best of all, using his wits to just talk his way out of things. He was extremely good at this.

Building on that, he received intensive training in deceit, obfuscation, diplomacy, intimidation, misdirection, seduction, persuasion, questioning, and interrogation techniques. He studied in which situations to use them, and to counter them when they were being used on him, either resisting or using the opportunity to supply convincing misinformation. Making up the misinformation was fun too.

He went back to the Link fairly regularly, chatting with Poll and his colleagues, and learning everything he could about the gadgets they had and the practical everyday use of all his theoretical training. He learned about searching, cross-referencing, linking, hacking, slicing, spiking, tracing, security, encryption, monitoring, code-breaking, in fact anything at all that could reasonably come under the heading of "sneaky computer stuff". With the extra knowledge he acquired this way, he was very rapidly moved into the advanced classes.

Lokin loved almost every minute of it. He was stretched and challenged far beyond anything he'd imagined, just as Minder Seventy-two had promised. He was with other students every bit his equal, for the first time in his life, and the competition pushed all of them even further up.
Control, passion, diligence: these three principles shape your world.

Lord Scourge: To repeat a mistake and expect a beneficial outcome is a sign of insanity.

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Syart
01.07.2013 , 02:35 PM | #34
Quote: Originally Posted by iamthehoyden View Post
Lol, classic agent training - let's teach you all how to cheat!
Agents don't cheat, they adapt to circumstances
Control, passion, diligence: these three principles shape your world.

Lord Scourge: To repeat a mistake and expect a beneficial outcome is a sign of insanity.

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Syart
01.09.2013 , 01:14 PM | #35
Simultaneously with his Agenting education, he was also doing full medical training, including specialisations in areas which caught his interest. Whether he genuinely chose these areas or whether he was subtly pushed towards them he never knew, but in any case he threw himself into studying with an enthusiasm he'd never known he could feel.

He worked with many doctors at the hospitals, but a few caught his attention more than most. One was a doctor called Geodha Ruadh, close to retiring, but who was a specialist in xenobiology. That being one of Lokin's interests, he spent a disproportionate amount of time with Dr Ruadh. The older man cultivated a constant air of bland benignity, perfectly friendly but completely opaque, impossible ever to know what he was really thinking. This intrigued Lokin, and he began to try to project the same sort of aura himself, though with little success. The other trainees just asked him what he was smirking about all the time.

He also received extra medical training at the academy, particularly in the pharmacology and toxicology area. There was the obvious matter of field medicine, in which he was highly competent but not particularly interested. (The psych analysis said this was because he preferred not to engage in combat.) What interested him far more was the use of drugs and poisons, and here he excelled.

He added a tiny discreet sleep dart projector to his gadget collection, and started to build up a selection of drugs to carry around with him. With these he could kill quickly or slowly; anaesthetise for a few minutes or many hours; mimic various diseases; lower inhibitions; reduce strength, coordination or willpower; cause confusion; induce hypnosis, etc. These (along with antidotes where available) were all added to the medical kit* he took on operations with the standard kolto packs, surgical probes, toxin scanners and so on.

He also discovered, during his advanced pharmacology studies, that Minder Seventy-two had lied to him, that the fruit juice had in fact been laced with a rapidly-absorbed and fast-acting hyoscyamine derivative, which is why he'd talked so much to the Minder in the initial interview. But by the time he found that out, he was so far indoctrinated into the Imperial Intelligence ethos that he wasn't surprised, or even resentful, just a little scornful of the naïve youngster he'd been at the time.

Spoiler
Control, passion, diligence: these three principles shape your world.

Lord Scourge: To repeat a mistake and expect a beneficial outcome is a sign of insanity.

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iamthehoyden
01.09.2013 , 02:19 PM | #36
Quote: Originally Posted by Syart View Post
Spoiler
In the name of science!! And sneakiness
aren't you a little short for a stormtrooper?
---------------
Fan Fiction: My Name is Solomon Crae The Man in the Box

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Syart
01.10.2013 , 01:34 PM | #37
Aged twenty-one, a doctor of medicine with specialisations in xenobiology and cytogenetics, as well as surviving and succeeding in the intensive Imperial Agent training. Lokin had come a very long way from the rebellious boy caught vandalising the Spires of Victory. He felt able to take on pretty much anything. When he put on the official uniform for the first time that morning, and walked unchallenged into the central operations room of Imperial Intelligence HQ, he actually felt proud of himself.

He went through various formalities, was briefly introduced to the Head of Operations, known as Keeper, who gave him what was obviously a generic welcome speech, and then passed back to a Minder who gave him his sealed assignment orders. With mingled excitement and trepidation he entered the requisite passwords and ID and read them. They stated: “Assigned to Cipher Twelve by request. Report to Watcher One.” That was it?

Wondering, he asked a couple of people where to find Watcher One, and was eventually directed to a terminal to the side of the room, where a middle-aged man with greying hair, dark skin and eyes, and an intent expression was working. “Sir, Junior Agent Eckard Lokin. I’m to report to you.”

“Ah yes, Lokin. Sit down, I need to finish this then I’ll be with you.”

The code on the screen in front of the Watcher wasn’t one that he recognised. He could see patterns in it, but the display moved too fast for him to fix anything long enough to analyse it. After about five minutes, One cleared the board and switched off the screen.

“So... a brand new Agent, come to show us old ones how to do the job, eh?” A friendly smile, no sneering.

“Well sir”, he started but the Watcher cut him off with a wave of his hand. “Just call me One, or Watcher. Been that so long I’m not even sure what my name was any more.”

“Watcher, then.” He hesitated, unsure of himself.

“First posting is always tough”, Watcher One nodded sympathetically. “I’m not trained in field work myself, though I think the next generation of Watchers may have that as a requirement, but I’ve seen enough of you pass through my hands.” He looked old and tired for a moment, but then resumed his relaxed good humour.
Control, passion, diligence: these three principles shape your world.

Lord Scourge: To repeat a mistake and expect a beneficial outcome is a sign of insanity.

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Syart
01.11.2013 , 12:56 PM | #38
“You’ve been assigned to our newest Cipher Agent - you understand what a Cipher is?”

Lokin nodded.

“Then you should understand why your orders are so brief. Basically, you go where the Cipher requires you to be and do what he needs done, which may or may not come directly from central Intelligence orders and protocols. Ciphers have a high degree of autonomy. They make their own decisions and do what’s needed to complete the mission, and it won’t necessarily follow the standard operating procedures you’ve been trained on.”

He pondered for a moment. “You’ll be part of a small team – Cipher Twelve, yourself, and another junior Agent, who is also at the final stage of her training to become a full Agent. She’s due in tomorrow, you’ll meet her then. Twelve has shown excellent training and mentoring skills, which is why he tends to get lumbered with the beginners.” One grinned. “He seems to enjoy it, and he selected you both himself from the lists.”

Lokin listened. This wasn’t exactly the sort of briefing he’d expected.

“Twelve has only just been given the Cipher designation. Ciphers are pretty rare, it needs a very special sort of person, and a lot of Agents don’t even survive long enough to be considered, so he starts off by being exceptional. He’s very experienced, very intelligent, and very knowledgeable. And very secretive too.” He chuckled. “But then, aren’t we all? What I’m saying is that you need to trust him and he needs to be able to rely on you. You’ll learn a lot from him, not just about the job.”

“Got it, Watcher”, Lokin nodded again. “I keep my ears open, my mouth shut, and follow orders.”

Watcher One frowned slightly. “That would be an excellent answer if this was a straightforward military posting. You should know by now that Intelligence is different. Still, as a starting principle it will do. But you will need to learn independent thought and especially adaptability, if you're to be a good Agent.”

He glanced at the blank screen for a moment as if seeking inspiration. “Ah yes, the important bit: I’m your liaison. I’m normally here, or if I’m not, one of the other Watchers can always find me. Anything you need, any data you find, I’m the one you come to. I and my team are responsible for supporting you in any way we can, including linking your data into data from other sources, and feeding back whatever’s necessary. Also any information you request or we think you need, and anything particular we need you to go after.”

He paused and then added, “Unsurprisingly, everything you do is confidential, except to Cipher Twelve and myself. By the nature of the work, Cipher operations are at the very top level of the secrecy pole. From this moment on, unless you’ve got specific instructions from Twelve, you will communicate only with me or Keeper within Imperial Intelligence.”

Lokin was tapping into his datapad. This was more like it.

“Incidentally, by “everything you do”, he means everything. I don’t want you even talking about what type of fruit juice you want to drink without thinking about the implications”, came a familiar voice from behind him.

“There you are, Twelve”, Watcher One smiled cheerily. “Here’s your brand new Agent, all nice and shiny, fresh from the academy, just like you ordered.”

Lokin swung round in astonishment, to meet the well-remembered cool grey-blue faintly smiling eyes of the thin-faced Minder Seventy-two from five years ago.
Control, passion, diligence: these three principles shape your world.

Lord Scourge: To repeat a mistake and expect a beneficial outcome is a sign of insanity.

Syart's Avatar


Syart
01.14.2013 , 02:10 PM | #39
Twelve told Lokin to spend the rest of the day familiarising himself with the headquarters while he attended to some business, and then to meet him in one of the briefing rooms the next morning. Lokin was only too willing to indulge his curiosity and happily wandered around where he could – his ID wasn't enough to get him through many of the doors, but the attempts didn't seem to get him into any trouble.

He found the archives, but was smilingly prevented from doing any research by overly helpful archivists. (He noted as many of the security details as he could, for future reference when he had time to think about getting around them.) So he spent most of his time in the main operations rooms, observing what went on and chatting to a few of the Minders, Fixers and even briefly again with Watcher One, about what they did and how things worked. He'd heard it all in theory, and been through it in mock missions at the Academy, but the real thing was still subtly different.

The next morning he went straight to the briefing room, but instead of Cipher Twelve, he found a small young woman with black hair cut very short and lively brown eyes, who bounced out of her chair as soon as he came in.

“Hey, you must be Eckard Lokin! I'm Cirean Geardail, Junior Agent. Cipher Twelve told me about you, we'll be working together with him. Great to meet you! Grab a coffee and come and sit down!”

Lokin was rather taken aback by such ebullience, but pulled himself together and replied with his best opaque blandness, as much like Dr Ruadh as possible. “Ah yes, I was told that there would be another Agent working with us. Very pleasant to make your acquaintance.”

Cirean laughed. “Sorry, I guess I do come over a bit excitable, but really, you know, this is exciting, isn't it? Our first time being real Agents?"

“I think we should be taking our role seriously”, replied Lokin, a bit repressively.

“Come on, lighten up a bit!” She grinned. “I'll calm down, I promise.”

Lokin got himself a coffee, the aroma reminding him forcibly of the interview with Minder Seventy-two. It seemed like half a lifetime ago, but the memory was still vivid.

He took a seat across from Cirean, and studied her while he sipped. After a minute, he realised she was studying him just as intently.

“See?” she said. “I can be quiet and calm, if I try really really hard.” She winked at him.

Reluctantly, Lokin chuckled. “All right, I admit it, you can be quiet.” She was actually quite attractive, he thought, and obviously intelligent or she wouldn't have undergone Agent training. It was quite possible that her over-excited inconsequential chatter was a pose, just as much as his own attempts at unreadable blandness were.

“Cipher Twelve told me he recruited you, but wouldn't tell me anything about it.” She smiled mischievously. “He brought me in too, I was playing truant from school one day – I was at Northern High – and decided to try free climbing Lord Ergast's monument. He stood at the bottom and watched, then applauded when I reached the top. Then he arrested me when I came down, at least that's what I thought he was doing. What happened to you?”

Lokin blinked. “Surprisingly similar. Though I'd just been expelled from Kaas City West, I didn't do much playing truant.”

Cirean grinned. “I think NH would have expelled me fairly soon, I was hardly there most of the time and was nothing but trouble when I was. So what did he find you doing?”

He grinned back. “I was vandalising the Spires of Victory sculpture, using desh metal to change the light flows. He let me finish, then brought me over here. If I'm honest, I was so scared I thought I was going to need fresh underwear.”

“Me too”, she nodded sympathetically. “So why did you get expelled?”

“I knew more than the teachers, got bored, messed around a lot until they kicked me out.” He shrugged.

“Yeah, my teachers were idiots too. But messing around is fun! I once reprogrammed the physics teacher's computer to play the short opening chorus from Victory at Chabosh – the opera about Tulak Hord, you know? - at high volume every time he changed the display slide. He couldn't stop it, but he was determined to pretend it didn't matter and finish the lesson. After half an hour, everyone in the class was singing along.” She beamed with joyful reminiscence. “I got a whole month detentions for that, but I only turned up for about half of them. The school complained to my parents, but they gave up on me years ago.”

Lokin laughed. “Do you know, I actually wish I'd thought of doing that.”

They carried on chatting, swapping tales of misbehaviour at school, and anecdotes from their Agent training. By the time Cipher Twelve joined them, after an hour or so, they'd both come to the conclusion that their skills balanced each other quite neatly, and they were well on the way to becoming firm friends.
Control, passion, diligence: these three principles shape your world.

Lord Scourge: To repeat a mistake and expect a beneficial outcome is a sign of insanity.

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iamthehoyden
01.14.2013 , 06:06 PM | #40
Oh I'm so glad that his recruiter returned! Interesting guy, looking forward to this!
aren't you a little short for a stormtrooper?
---------------
Fan Fiction: My Name is Solomon Crae The Man in the Box