Sunday, April 15, 2018

Wasting Away Over Peraspera

The Boxing Kangaroo’s superficial armor damage was repaired in a single shift, but the crew found them question, and giving statements to be sent to the Imperial court at Prometheus. Everyone was thoroughly questioned, and it came through the information was correct. The Ministry of Justice’s freelancer was telling the truth, and the Delights and its’ crew were a Rule of Terra cell intent on running a number of car bombs on Prometheus. It was adding up, and the embarrassed Commander Lord Wood decided to conduct a thorough security review. At least the next courier would take the request off to Counter Intelligence on Terra. It would be up three weeks before the investigators arrived, but the compromised spacer was locked up. A series of statements were recorded, with the command staff’s being the longest. The crew was largely ready to get back to patrols.
            The ship departed the orbital complex early in the morning and went into the three-watch rotation. The first two were largely uneventful, but early in the third watch, GM2 Chishan noticed something off with one of the planetary navigation satellites. Calling for Spacehand Owen, his current messenger, he said, “Look at this, one of the local nav sats is on the fritz. Normally, we’d just report it, and the locals would fix it, but we have to play nice around here. Get the skipper,” taking a second to look at the roster, “Afari, and Brand, we gotta fix the thing.”
            Owen replied, “Tell the CO, Engineer and boat pilot there’s a problem with a local navigation sat, and we’ll need to fix it.”
            Brickley was in his stateroom relaxing, while Brand was supervising the cleanup of the mess deck when Owen found them. Afari, though, was taking a nap in the boat. The last to get to the bridge, he subconsciously adjusted his uniform. Addressing the group, Brickley said “Now we’re all here, what’s your suggestion, OOD?”
            “Sir,” Chishan replied, “I recommend the offgoing section take the boat and repair it. The local nav sat’s error codes, checking in our database, are pretty routine. It looks like it’s a simple computer failure. Nothing unreasonable.”
            “Why the boat?” Afari challenged.
            “It’s more maneuverable in getting to a sat. Also, if there’s a problem, we can recover it back to the Kangaroo and it will fit. It’s a cubic meter, plus arrays. If there’s a problem calling for the Kangaroo, there’s no problem with life support,” Chishan explained. “Should I make the 1MC for the offgoing section to muster in the rec room for briefing?
            “Make the announcement. I’ll give the plan,” Brickley stated.
            A few minutes later, Lieutenant Brickley, MM1 Brand, BM3 Zabiyah, Spacehand Hall, Corporal Afari, and Marines Franke and Fini were in the Kangaroo’s bunkroom. On the monitor set up for movies, there was a watchbill that read: Satellite Repair Operations.
MM1 Brand
CPL Afari
Boat Crew
Mne Franke
EVA Supervisor
BM3 Zabiyah
EVA Tech
Spacehand Hall
EVA Support
Mne Fini
            Brand stood up in front of the group, and explained they were going to repair a malfunctioning navigation satellite, and what each person’s job would be. Afari and Franke would be operating the Ship’s boat. She and Hall would be performing the actual repair. Zabiyah would be ensuring that safe operations occurred. Fini was to be the general assistant. Everyone quickly understood their role, and what malfunction it was. The section mustered at the boat, and performed a quick inventory of equipment. Vacc Suits, tool kit, and some spare parts. Brickley went up to the bridge after the boat was sealed.
            Boxing Kangaroo, this is Joey,” Afari said to Chishan, testing the comms. “We are ready to deploy on your orders. Over.”
            “Understood Joey. Standby for my order to deploy. Over,” was the reply as Chishan noted the captain entering the bridge. “Sir, the boat is ready to deploy.”
            “Understood; I’ll give the area warning, you perform the boat ops,” Brickley replied.
            “Aye-aye sir.”
            “All ships, this is Imperial Naval Ship Boxing Kangaroo. We are conducting boat operations in support of navigational maintenance.” Brickley said to anyone listening on a guard frequency. Not that there was much traffic in the area.
            Joey, this is Boxing Kangaroo. Releasing you on my mark,” Chishan examined his board for status information from the Ship’s Boat. “Mark!” as he entered the command to deploy the small craft.
            Boxing Kangaroo, I am making way under my own power. Over,” came Afari’s reply.
            Joey, understand. Carry out your repairs. Boxing Kangaroo out.” Chishan replied. The boat went off to rendezvous with the damaged satellite. Matching orbits, Afari effortlessly got the boat to a position 50 meters from the damaged satellite. Setting the boat to keep station automatically, he got up from the small flight deck to speak with the party in the main cabin. Franke stayed at his console, monitoring comms.
            “MM1, the show’s yours. We’re about 50 meters off the satellite, so it should be nice and easy,” Afari spoke to her.
            “Good work, but there’s no such thing as an easy spacewalk,” she replied. Her and Hall’s vacc suits were ready to go except for their helmets. “My first deployment, we almost lost a spacer on one. We’ll have 200 meters of recovery line linking us to the boat, so Boats can pull us back in. If that happens, remember we don’t have compensation, so take it easy.”
            “Aye-aye MM1. I’ll be standing by here,” Afari responded. “You ready for this?”
            “One last check here,” Brand responded to Afari’s question. “Boats, go through the checklist one last time, then helmets on,” she ordered as they went down, checking tool inventory, diagnostic computer, and suit status. Satisfied, Zabiayah and Fini placed the helmets on Brand and Hall. Once the seals were good, the two suited figures gave the traditional thumbs up gesture, and carefully entered the airlock. It cycled, and they floated out. Connecting the line to the two spots on the outer hull, Brand and Hall made it to the satellite. Brand hooked the diagnostic computer up to it, and got the readouts for the failure code. A recent event caused its’ simple computer to fail. The work was handed over to Hall, and they reset the program to ensure it operated correctly. The reset worked, and the satellite returned to normal operations. Once they returned to the boat, Afari returned it to the Boxing Kangaroo without incident.

            A few days later an unknown ship entered the system. Zabiayah was on the bridge, when he noticed a jump flare alert. Noticing the sensors, it was a ship coming in system, with the origin system masked, and at 80,000 km away, too far to do anything. He called for Brickley, who was in his office.
            “OOD, report,” was the captain’s command as he came into the small bridge.
            “Bogie detected, bearing 305 range 80k, origin system masked, sir,” was Zabiayh’s practiced response....

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Solomani Security In My Traveller Universe

While the common and popular depiction of Solomani Security is of a Secret Police force with a vast network of informants and a ruthless prosecution of anyone it deems a  threat to the Solomani Cause. As I see it, it's a much more complex organization.

SolSec has two missions in practice; serving as the political police of the Solomani Confederation, and as the primary intelligence agency for the Confederation. The political police role has two functions; keeping the Party and populace aligned with the Solomani Cause, and preventing problems from disrupting the Confederation. At times, these roles come into conflict, but the guidance from the Committee of Consolidation and the Coordinator General generally resolve these on  case by case basis. Also, SolSec agents are often seen as "S-Men" working for the benefit of Solomani society.

The political police work in the general populace is minimal. While hundreds of millions, if not more, Monitors do file reports about what they see and hear, few citizens end up directly in front of a SolSec officer for a criminal issue. Planetary agencies, like the Krypteria of Polyphemus/Capella (SR 1537), are more likely to deal with the Solomani in the street. Local police and security forces will have liaison arraignments with SolSec, where information appropriate to the level of enforcement is exchanged. Also, Old Solomani worlds with independent-minded populaces, like Sequoyah/Capella (SR 1337), require SolSec to have it's own arrest force. However, interstellar travelers of any stripe will have encounters with SolSec. Partially, SolSec wants to know as much as possible about the workings of what actually happens, and every report helps them. It is frequently in the form of a minor functionary that just asks to see the logs at landing, or performs immigration checks.

Active members of the Solomani party are more closely investigated than ordinary citizens, and members of the Secretariat most of all. Generally, a local member of a cell will receive party discipline rather than SolSec attention, but a senior member, usually a delegate to a major party conference, may have issues investigated by a SolSec officer. The factionalism inherent in the Solomani Party means that only the most egregious political crimes are treated harshly; corruption is one of them. The differences between factions are not unlike Cold War era "Kremlinology" for outside observers, but there is more transparency than in a truly closed political environment.

The internal monitoring of the Army and Navy has two major components. First, there are monitors inside military units. Most understand the difference between military duties and typical complaints of them, and actual disagreement with the Cause. Few of these monitors are "Zampolits" in the sense of being an explicit representative of the Solomani Party and SolSec, more often they serve as staff officers, or just have connections. The personnel (S-1) and logistics officers (S-4) are common covers, but some monitors are operational personnel, even up to unit commanders. The additional role as the criminal investigation departments for the military means there are some open SolSec officers at most bases, working with the Military Police. They can either be uniformed personnel, or a plain clothes operation. Generally, the teams assigned to a deployable unit will be uniformed, and one that operates at a base will be plain-clothes.

The monitor program provides much of the small scale information that SolSec uses to work with crude psychohistorical simulations and understand how to operate on a particular world. The general rule for monitors is not to provide salacious gossip that jams the networks, but information directly related to consideration. Current cultural ideas are welcome as well, as it allows SolSec to deeply understand the nature of Solomani society, particularly on different worlds. Given the size of the database, favored researchers are sometimes offered access to older portions. Also, the nature of monitors varies. Some are quiet recorders, others are highly patriotic citizens, and some just have spy fantasies. The ones with spy fantasies tend to get asked to leave the monitor program.

An internal officer may spend a tour assigned to an investigative team, followed by an intervention unit. Senior internal officers end up in the Administration, and they are the leads for many units. It is not unknown for senior investigative officers, while nominally administration, to operate with Field agent teams. Secret agents, of course, do exist, but are far less common than popular media thinks.

The External Directorate is a fairly standard intelligence agency in Charted Space, and it has earned a healthy respect from Imperial Intelligence agencies. Despite a well-earned reputation as a group of fanatical agents sneaking in and destroying Imperial targets, many quickly realize there's no real romance in their sordid business. They employ open agents as attaches to various missions, and under official cover. Secret Agents are more common than in Internal, but many operate under various forms of cover, such as merchants or tourists. On occasion, agents may be lent from one directorate to the other, and transfers do occur. However, to maintain the correct outlook for each role, this is unlikely.