Tuesday, 3 November 2015

The Hated Volunteer (Night's Black Agents)

I've been digging around some ideas for Night's Black Agents scenarios, delving into the murkier waters of offensive counter intelligence. Counter Intelligence, for the purposes of this discussion, is the frustration of attempts by Foreign Intelligence Services (FIS) to penetrate home defenses, sometimes referred to as Defensive Counter Intelligence. Of course, once the attack has been dealt with the option exists to go on the offensive, and turn those enemy units against the FIS that sent them. 

In the course of that investigation I came across this interesting quote:

'The Soviet operational officer, having seen a great deal of the ugly face of communism, very frequently feels the utmost repulsion to those who sell themselves to it willingly. And when a GRU or KGB officer decides to break with his criminal organization, something which fortunately happens quite often, the first thing he will do is try to expose the hated volunteer.'

That lends itself to some interesting possibilities. 

Consider what happens when a Conspiracy asset decides it has had enough. That might happen for any number of reasons, but when it happens, that asset is going to be in a position to burn a number of FIS assets. The assets it is most likely to burn first are, by the logic of the above quote, the hated volunteers, the ones who walked into this hoping to become vampires.

Let's take a Level Three Node, which means it's at the provincial level. A racket within a larger mafia, a company, merchant bank, brokerage, university and so on. Let's say for the sake of this discussion that it's a university, which has been co-opted by the Conspiracy for its research. It doesn't matter whether that research is pharmaceutical, medical, or archaeological. All that matters is that the research it carries out is of great interest to the Conspiracy.

Now, the Head of Research and whatever Boards govern the university are completely penetrated. They'd have to be, to avoid embarrassing leaks. But within the organization there are going to be dozens of support staff, postgraduate students, professors and researchers, all of whom probably suspect that something's off, but who don't necessarily know the true state of affairs.

It's from that pool of support staff I intend to draw the Hated Volunteer. That person - there may be more than one - has discovered the true nature of the Conspiracy, and wants in. The Volunteer has participated in Conspiracy activity willingly, whether it's helping human traffickers move 'research subjects', conducting Satanic rituals, or something equally depraved.

Assume that the Head of Research is having second thoughts about her involvement with the project. Her love of research, she realizes, has become tainted by the Conspiracy's crass short-sightedness. She wants out, and she wants to take her research findings with her.

That asset is going to want to secure her position within her new home, whether that's Edom or some other agency. In order to do that, she's going to be throwing as much of the Conspiracy under the proverbial bus as she can manage, but the very first to go are going to be those Volunteers. These are people within her own department, her colleagues, people she may have spent a lot of time with. But she hates them, because they willingly involved themselves in corruption. Note that the asset was probably a Volunteer herself at some point, but the irony doesn't occur to her; or if it does, she doesn't care. 

Now pitch your players in, and see what develops. The characters need to separate fact from fiction; are these people being served up on a platter actually part of the Conspiracy, and if so, what's their function? Are they being fed a poison pill, sweeping up a few low-level conspirators while the Conspiracy uses the goodwill generated by the defecting asset to slip in disinformation? Can the defecting asset be protected against retaliation, and transferred to a new, safe location?

Consider the example scenario in the main book, (S)Entries. That scenario assumes that a Canadian NATO officer and logistics expert, Brigadier-General Lennart, has collected data on his laptop which somebody wants. One question worth asking is, why did Lennart do that? 

Note that none of the information below is part of the scenario as written, and very little of it will count as a spoiler, since the information about Lennart is part of the characters' briefing at the start of the scenario.

Say Lennart is actually a Conspiracy asset, and has been using his position within NATO to assist the Conspiracy. Say he did this because he was pushed, rather than volunteered; maybe he was bribed, or threatened. Now he wants out, and is coming up for retirement. He's already contacted a security service that he thinks will help him escape, and has pushed forward his flight date to frustrate Conspiracy countermeasures. 

However in order to prove his bona fides, Lennart had to betray a number of Conspiracy assets within his Node; those Hated Volunteers, people he might have brought into the Conspiracy himself but who took to it like a duck to water. Perhaps his aide, Captain Sebring, is one such. 

This could complicate the characters' lives considerably. If they were brought in by the Conspiracy, wittingly or otherwise, to complete the mission, then the Hated Volunteers might help them get away with it. If they were hired by a third party, it might be that same security agency that Lennart went to hoping for rescue. The agency couldn't bring itself to trust Lennart, but it does trust Lennart's data, and it's willing to sacrifice a few deniable assets to get it. In that scenario, the characters could easily end up burned by the agency that hired them, and also in the bad books of the Conspiracy, which thinks the characters were probably involved in the uprooting of its Hated Volunteers. Of course, it was actually the shadowy third party that did that, but why should the Conspiracy believe it?

That's enough for now. Enjoy!

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