Cimór gazed out over the lectern as her audience finished connecting. The virtual space was crowded with avatars – the glowing spheres with emoticon faces that nym-avatars defaulted to, naturally, hiding identity, culture, and species – haloed with the expected glows marking slow connections and packet loss. Even those telerepresenting from less backward worlds found their connections impaired by the exigencies of encapsulation and multibounce routing.
The avatars themselves were arranged in groups of six: each representing the bundled communications of a single supercell’s membership, six cell leaders from different polities – carefully selected to be safely independent and yet of potential aid to each other, as well as synergistic personality matches – who would be given cross-communications at the end of the introduction. Each group, so far as it could perceive, was the only group in the auditorium.
The last avatar flickered into being, its “face” set to apology-but-necessity. Glancing down at the lectern, Cimór watched the extranet security panel flicker through its final checks, then spill out blue confirmation that the layered overweaves were properly secured, and the termination points were, at least, as secure as dumb agents were able to determine.
A flick of a finger brought the opening of her presentation up in the well, the COG’s tree logo, and the embracing text: Freedom’s Seed. Access to Tools and Ideas.
“Gentlesophs,” she began. “Thank you for attending. At this introductory talk, we’ll be discussing how to find and recruit new members for your seedling, while maintaining the proper security, deniability, and above all, cell structure. I’ll be presenting general strategies along with specific notes on adapting them to different types of polities and cultures, as well as both memetic and software tools to assist in assessing possible candidates for suitability and reliability, as well as eliminating potential spies, saboteurs, and agents provocateur.
“But first, let’s talk about the sort of candidates you should consider – a subject which will also answer a question many of you doubtless have, namely, why we recruited you.
“The first division to be made is that of the loud and the quiet. The loud, whichever kind they are, should be immediately dismissed as possible candidates, although the reasons differ between the loud and violent, and the loud and… shall we say less violent, in their use of violence is generally casual, rather than targeted.
“We do not support the former because even on the rare occasion that they espouse that they’re emulating the Drowning of the People, the Saryala Disarming, or the Spontaneous Disarchy of Dorentil Major, in practice the overwhelming majority of people whose plan is violent revolution not only cause a lot of collateral death and destruction along the way, but tend to be the sort of kveth-sakkar whose primary interest is being free to oppress someone else. We have, obviously, no interest at all in supporting that – and from your perspective, the reasons why such make bad partners should be obvious, even apart from the high-profile attention such activities tend to draw.
“We do not support the latter, meanwhile, for a variety of reasons – not least that many of these ‘activists’, too, are all too happy to support a heavy cratic hand just as long as it is perceived as working for them. Frankly, gentlesophs, we support groups with libertist values out of enlightened self-interest, and those who merely improve a few of the proximate results without addressing the ultimate causes do not provide a useful return on our investment.
“To you, on the other hand, they are dangerous. The sort of activities they participate in, especially the ones that are themselves coercive, are hell on operational security, break up the cell structure, and attract a lot of attention – the kind that makes more constructive activities harder to carry through under scrutiny, and can be easily spun to turn the general population against them – or, depending on the ruthlessness of the security state, to justify mass arrests or massacres. In either case, they’re just meat for the machine – and so if a seedling goes down this path, we drop it from the network.
“The recruits you want are the quiet ones. The tools and ideas we can supply are attuned to supporting those with an eye on the long term, and with a desire to live free, well, and under the radar in the meantime – and to build. That’s who you need to grow all the institutions of a civilized society in the shadow of the uncivilized, until one day your would-be masters wake up to find themselves redundant, ignored, and impotent.
“That’s why we selected you, and who your best candidates for recruitment, in turn, are likely to be.
“Now, any questions before we move on to practical matters?”
– Freedom’s Seed COG, introductory talks to proto-seedlings