Trope-a-Day: Memory Gambit

Memory Gambit: This is the stock in trade of the ISS and of most intelligence organizations that have the technology to do it. People who don’t know the plan can’t give away the plan. Besides, eliminating the knowledge from your brain is pretty much the only way to fool an alethiometer, although even then, it’s hardly foolproof.

(Usually the memories are kept stored so that you can restore them later.)

One particular form, of course, is what happens when you retire from the Fifth Directorate or from particularly sensitive positions in the other Directorates – they keep all your classified memories, and replace them with a plausible fabricated alternate life story of what you were doing all that time that matches up with everything that happens to have made it into the public record…

Trope-a-Day: City of Spies

City of Spies: Many spies, of course, hang around Nepscia (Galith Waste) and its red market, both because many secrets find their way there, and because a city with no rules (see: Wretched Hive) makes an excellent place to play intelligence agencies’ rougher away games.  Likewise, the Conclave Drift contains a lot of spies, simply because it’s where everyone is, and where a lot of top-level diplomacy and politicking goes on, with the obvious concomitant to it.

Nonetheless, the true City of Spies remains Eilan (Eilish Expanse), the capital world of the Free Eilish Confederacy, a doggedly neutral power friendly to the world, conveniently central for most of the Great Powers while not being – unlike the Conclave Drift – too convenient for any one of them in particular, and as such, the absolute favorite location for people’s intelligence away games.  Absolutely crawling with agents for absolutely everyone.  They don’t quite have carpooling for the tails, but it’s certainly not unheard of for two tails on the same agent to end up having to shamefacedly exchange name, address, and insurance information after a flitter collision…

A Good Man

“Vinav Amanyr-ith-Amaranyr is a good man.”

“You are surprised to hear me say that?  You shouldn’t be.  Many of our Renegades are – the ones who become Renegades because they’ve seen the Galaxy’s problems and can’t stand not doing anything about them.”

“So what do you do about poverty and oppression?  You can try and persuade people that things have to change, and you can ask Valeä Andreth’s people how slowly that works, and at what cost.  Or you can join the belligerati and try advocating Imperial takeovers, but everyone knows how well they work, or rather don’t.  But in any case, you’re pushing a mountain uphill because the root of all these bad things is nothing but bad ideas, and ideas that run in parallel with one’s species-nature are hard to kill, however insane or counterproductive they might be.”

Or you can take the short road, and reason that the solution to bad ideas is better people, and that you can save a lot of life and time if you can create better people here and now.”

“And so, you can reengineer a grab-bag of autoevolutionary improvements from the alpha baseline into a contagious self-replicating neurovirus – say, the cognitive bias eliminations, the empathy enhancement, the motivation restraint, the self-deception resistance, and the neophobia and xenophobia removal.  Then you spray it generously into the planetary atmosphere, and let the bad ideas kill themselves off.”

“It’s a good plan, simple and elegant.  Worse, it’s a plan that could take only a matter of days to execute.  It probably would work, if we let it, and – and I’m fairly certain this is the rationale he’s using – former citizen-shareholder Amanyr-ith-Amaranyr will get the retroactive consent he’s hoping for, because it almost certainly would improve the lives of everyone on his target world.”

“So, yes, Vinav Amanyr-ith-Amaranyr is a good man, and because he’s a good man who cares deeply for the well-being of his fellow sophonts, he’s about to violate the first ethical principle by performing non-consensual modifications on the minds of millions.”

“And that’s why we have to kill him.”

– induction briefing, Operation <blank>, ISS Internal Security & Surveillance Directorate

Trope-a-Day: Cultured Warrior

Cultured Warrior: A very important aspect of training and institutional culture, not just for the Imperial Military Service, but for the entire sentinel darëssef, which includes the police, emergency services, paramedics, etc.  The argument runs, essentially, that it has dangerous and unpleasant side effects to have people running around trained to fight who know nothing else but fighting, be it fighting wars, fighting crime, fighting disease, or fighting entropy, and are thus disconnected from the finer things in life and the gentler, civilized virtues.

Thus, in addition to everything else, sentinel training (including even the seriously harsh kind used by the Imperial Legions) works hard to cultivate a taste for high culture and an appreciation for the finer things in life as a contrast to and counterpart for the gritty side of life.  In action, the institutions of the darëssef, from the IMS, the ISS, the Watch Constabulary, etc., on down have traditions to encourage this, including specific cultural leave in which their membership is encouraged to immerse themselves in this side of life on the institutional dime, in the interest of keeping them collectively healthy, functional, and complete.

Even many mercenary outfits do this, on the grounds that a sane mercenary is a more profitable mercenary.