Practical Filth

Shortly after that incident, the cross-directorate Technical Services PWG presented us with a new range of disposable, concealed monitoring devices intended to be used in a variety of scenarios. Unfortunately, while a technological miracle of the age – packing all the multispectral monitoring functionality needed for various espionage scenarios into tiny, shielded, disguised packages, while duplicating the functionality of their guise – they proved to be less than useful in practice due to a cultural delta.

While perfectly suited for work at home, it had escaped the boffins in TS-PWG that on the many worlds of the galaxy less particular about maintenance than the Empire’s, the appearance of shiny, new devices or attachments (nuts, lights, push buttons, and the like) would in itself stand out remarkably clearly against the background.

It was my unfortunate responsibility, in my new role as Second Directorate liaison and as an old field agent, to break this news to TS-PWG and propose an appropriate solution. While we considered the notion of making, shall we say, “pre-unmaintained” monitors, the difficulties of devising patterns of wear and corrosion which would blend smoothly into the environment and, indeed, the difficulties of discreetly modifying unmaintained infrastructure proved insuperable.

The answer we came to was inspired by a training course still on offer at the College of Masks – “Filthy Barbarism for the Clean-Living Agent” – intended to demonstrate how to avoid standing out among the less civilized, and in particular the habit of “littering”, the lazy and careless abandonment of minor waste without consideration for the property of others or the surrounding environment. In short, many worlds simply have an endemic problem with discarded waste, providing the perfect material guises for monitoring devices.

Of course, little is as simple as it seems. The distribution of specific items of waste is culturally and economically determined, and as such, the specifics of these material guises vary greatly from world to world, place to place. It was never my intention that the routine sampling of “litter” from various worlds for the benefit of the Technical Services PWG, operation GARLAND WASTREL, should be my legacy. But if “Mishaka’s Scav Runs” it is to be, it’s a better legacy than many in our profession receive.

– Three-Centuries In Intelligence: A Memoir,
Mishaka Kodonaga,
declassified +1648