Forknapping Recruits

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ringring ringring's picture
Forknapping Recruits

Does this strike anybody as, I dunno, dumb? I mean why forknap then kill people and resintantiate them from their stacks when you could just physically kidnap them and erase their memory? People are really weird about the way they treat their forks, like they just delete beta forks all willy nilly, for no good reason.

They do mention that not everybody does this, but still, assbackwards in my opinion. ISHYGDDT

Armoured Armoured's picture
Organic damage is good cover

Counter-intuitively, its can be lot easier to hide subversion of a target this way. Suspicion about a high value target tends to be lower when their whereabouts can be definitively stated. A properly equipped EMT team can copy a stack during recovery, and its a lot less suspicious than someone disappearing off the panopticon for a few hours, let alone re-appearing with a memory gap.

Look, its not something I would recommend, but circumstances dictate planning. Its not a great way to start off relations with a potential asset, either.

ShadowDragon8685 ShadowDragon8685's picture
Generally speaking,

Generally speaking, forknapping people is a really, really poor way to raise recruits.

People don't usually agree to be forknapped. I mean, there's got to be someone someone whose public profile says "if you want a copy, go ahead and take one," but he's got to be the exception, rather than the rule.

Either way, it means your relations with your new recruit start out strained at best, and actively hostile at worst. And another word for someone who is actively hostile to you and part of your organization is "traitor."

So then you have to go and either take the long and slow approach of having some silver-tongued psychomaster convince him to forgive you, or double down by fucking with his ego, and if the forknapping would have left them uncharitably disposed to you, what do you imagine forknapping compounded with involuntary psychosurgery will do for his opinion of you?

I mean, if the circumstances are serious enough, it can be justified.

For instance, if you're 100% certain that they're going to agree that the forknapping was absolutely necessary and will agree to work with you even if they're upset because it's aligned strongly with their motivations, that can work.
Obviously, if you don't give a damn about their cooperation and just want to dissect their ego for their precious seeeeeeeekrits, go right ahead.
If you're, say, putting together some kind of second-chance transhumanity survival package that's intended to bring a shitload of egos out of cold storage ten thousand years down the line on after being seeded on an exoworld/taken elsewhere via a slow ship, well, they won't be in a position to be angry at you, since there will be a good chance that your forknapping saved them from final death. (You may still want to insist that no Firewall operative who was sent on any particular second chance was involved in forknapping anyone on that second chance. Even if it's a lie. Couldn't hurt to psychosurgery yourself to make you believe it.)

Generally speaking though, avoid forknapping as a means of getting recruits. If the fork would be happy to work with you, then so would the original, and if you need a fork and need not to have the original, it might be better to consensually forknap them - by which I mean, grab the original, take a fork of them from before they even lay eyes on you, explain the situation, explain the reasons why you need there to be an original who doesn't know about you, and if they agree, you slurp the ego that's ready to join you out of wherever they were, and slot the backup back into the sleeve and return them to whence they came.

If done right, you can accomplish all of this between the times the person goes to sleep and when they wake up, even if they have a circadian regulator, so the fork will go about their business with no lasting effects other than having had a shitty night's sleep. Obviously, if they don't agree, well... Figure it out, sunshine, there's not a lot of ways that can go well, unless you're 100% certain they agree with your cause and so won't squeal on you, but for whatever reasons, cannot bring themselves to be a part of it.

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Dr. Maxwell Dr. Maxwell's picture
Why we do it

Yes, recruiting a forknapped ego makes little sense, which is why I suspect it does not happen. But I know Forknapping potential recruits does.

An ego at your mercy is a complete and total map of you as a person. The ramifications of this are profound even if most people only think of it in the mundane day to day realities of pedestrian existence. In practical terms once Firewall, or frankly anyone with the time and expertise, has your ego they can solve you.

Using a half decent simulated enviroment they can figure out how that snapshot of you would react to any potential sittuation, or can manipulate your percieved reality to datamine your memories. Want an ego's passwords? Simulate their enviroment and create a scenario where they need to log into their accounts, or just create a copy of the ego and modify it to the point it is unable to conceal information from you. Endless scenarios can be run to see if you are a viable candidate for recruitment, to see when you might break or when you may turn.

A single test run may be affected by any number of variables, but a time dilated simulation run thousands of times with freshly copied egos will eventually allow someone to engineer the perfect situation with a perfect script to get you to do, or think, anything. The ego can then be deleted, you wouldn't bother reintroducing your interrogated fork back to your subject.

Is this ethical? Probably not, but I suspect most of the people keeping Firewall going are willing to sell the lives of thousands of simulated egos they took of us before recruitment for the potential lives of every transhuman that ever exist, and which might exist one day.

This is why we know so little as field agents, why we who risk everything deserve to know nothing. Because if you fail and are captured, you will break. It is not a matter of time, it is a matter of brute force processing cycles.

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Tonal Architect Tonal Architect's picture
I would not recommend it

It seems a poor way to start a relationship. Besides, if your organization has specific recruitment policies, such that a given ego might continue to be a potential recruit even after the forknapping, then you might run into some larger issues.

Of course, as some have mentioned, forknapping potential recruits is rather more sensible, so that a potential recruiter might have some time to test what methods will work well to recruit someone. It's always a balancing act, though, because if your potential recruit learns that you did that sort of thing, they may, hm, take some offense at it. I mean, they may not - some people don't particularly care what happens to their forks - but I think they are rather more likely to take offense, perhaps even find you untrustworthy.

Free yourself of your desires.

ShadowDragon8685 ShadowDragon8685's picture
Tonal Architect wrote:It

Tonal Architect wrote:
It seems a poor way to start a relationship. Besides, if your organization has specific recruitment policies, such that a given ego might continue to be a potential recruit even after the forknapping, then you might run into some larger issues.

Of course, as some have mentioned, forknapping potential recruits is rather more sensible, so that a potential recruiter might have some time to test what methods will work well to recruit someone. It's always a balancing act, though, because if your potential recruit learns that you did that sort of thing, they may, hm, take some offense at it. I mean, they may not - some people don't particularly care what happens to their forks - but I think they are rather more likely to take offense, perhaps even find you untrustworthy.

It is, and that's the kind of the balancing act. Also why Firewall is such a fucking crapshoot.
You get some assholes who are 1,000% ends-justifying-means types who will do shit like that, and it make work fine and dandy, with superior efficiency and results, for years; until someone twigs to what they were doing and decides they need to get revenge - and hey, any Firewall Sentinel worth the title knows exactly who to go to with what they know if they really want to take out their Server and don't care who the fuck gets taken out in the crossfire. And to be frank, if they've been working successfully with a Server that spooky, chances are that they'd fit right in with the Other Guys, and the Other Guys can afford to pay them a hell of a lot better; though, this being Firewall, chances are that beer money would constitute a pay raise.

Do remember that most members of this conspiracy are, in essence, volunteers. The only people we're supporting are those we have working Firewall's work 24/7/365. A substantial portion of our volunteers are also donors, who funnel money from their own means of supporting themselves to the organization, because they believe in the cause.

Mistreating these people is absolutely a bad idea. It makes my blood boil whenever I see someone refer to Sentinels as assets, the way one would refer to cut-outs and mercenaries. (Who themselves shouldn't be mistreated if at all possible, if for entirely different reasons.)

No matter what the inner-system types in the organization might like to say, Firewall is very much the anarchist collective version of a spy agency. We're chronically underfunded compared to the scope of what we do and the level of game we're trying to play, despite wielding outright military assets at times. Members who want to get revenge for mistreatment and don't care who they hurt can always defect to the Other Guys, and people who want to be doing more or less the same thing but have grown disillusioned with Firewall can, with rather surprising ease and safety, defect to one of the Titanian spook shops, where the support they get from their organization will at least run to a new morph and housing, which is more than we can guarantee them. (And no, we won't "go after them" if someone from Firewall later turns up wearing a Titanian uniform, because we're desperate to mend those bridges, not drop orbital fire on them.) The Ultimates and Argonauts are also both hungry enough for applicable talent, and dangerous enough/well-connected enough (within our ranks) that they'll take the risk of shielding someone from us if they grow disillusioned with Firewall and look for another organization to belong to (assuming that the person in question is desirable to them.)

In my experience, the cold-hearted, pure tradecraft, ruthless bastard type of Proxy is a ticking time bomb. Fantastically effective for Firewall until their countdown hits zero, and at that point the rest of us have to scramble into damage-control mode to minimize the fallout from their fuckup.

We're asking Sentinels to fight a shadow war, both against other organizations of varying levels of hostility towards us, and against existential risks to transhumanity. Literally each and every other one of those other organizations can support them better than we can, and would be more than happy to take a genuine defector into the fold. We're asking these people, sometimes, to do some genuinely fucked-up shit that will corrode the sanity of anyone, and we're asking them to do it basically for free. The only thing we're willing to guarantee them is a new morph if they get killed on a mission for us; Money/Resources/Rep? Shelter? These are things we can only sometimes afford to funnel to our Sentinels, and often in only the most urgent of cases.

The very least we owe them is to treat them like respected members of our organization, not disposable pawns, assets, or hostile contacts. Because, frankly, if we're not even ticking the 'social interaction' and 'sense of belonging' boxes, sooner or later they're going to break away from us, even if it's only to go fight the X-Risk war on their own terms, without answering to a bossy nag who throws you into harm's way without even having the decency to look you in the eyes (metaphorically speaking) when they tell you to go into harm's way.

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eaton eaton's picture
Playing Devil's Advocate

Nailed it.

By Any Means Necessary doesn't mean that all means are effective in the long term; any proxy that's press-ganging civilians into duty as Sentinels is rolling the dice with our security.

That said… one of the routers in my neck of the woods has made a pretty well-known habit of working with ID Crew when the chips are down, calling in some favors for beta and even alpha forks of egos they have on ice. No firsthand knowledge, but according to a couple of the proxies that have worked with him… well, he usually pays extra for ID Crew to smooth things with psychosurgery and/or memory cutouts before the "new recruits" are woken up. I don't think anyone's super comfortable with it, but so far it's been hard to argue with the results. He's been able to pull off some pretty long-odds ops, with minimal exposure for his small handful of reliable Sentinels.

A couple of us have made the case for long-term risk assessment on the approach, but I suspect he's not going to change his tune until something goes pear-shaped and his rep takes an actual hit.

Not sure how this turned into therapy; any suggestions?

ShadowDragon8685 ShadowDragon8685's picture
eaton wrote:Nailed it.

eaton wrote:
Nailed it.

By Any Means Necessary doesn't mean that all means are effective in the long term; any proxy that's press-ganging civilians into duty as Sentinels is rolling the dice with our security.

Depending on the circumstances, pressganging may not be a bad idea. Some of the most dedicated people we have are those who got caught up in the middle of mega-shit, were thrown a gun by an existing Sentinel and told "Follow me if you want to live!"

Turns out most folks tend to have warm fuzzies towards the people who got them out of the fuckbarrel alive, or at least ego-intact. And hey, if they don't like the idea of being part of Firewall on a full-time basis, you can always just give them some nice comfy psychosurgery and resettle them somewhere; or even just resettle them somewhere with the promise they don't have to go out and do missions, but we'd appreciate it if you kept someone appraised of anything you see that's funny.

But yeah, just shanghaiing any old egos and putting them to work is a terrible idea, no matter how good you think your psychosurgeons are. Sooner or later, that kind of scheme falls apart, and when it does, it falls apart bad.

Quote:
That said… one of the routers in my neck of the woods has made a pretty well-known habit of working with ID Crew when the chips are down, calling in some favors for beta and even alpha forks of egos they have on ice. No firsthand knowledge, but according to a couple of the proxies that have worked with him… well, he usually pays extra for ID Crew to smooth things with psychosurgery and/or memory cutouts before the "new recruits" are woken up. I don't think anyone's super comfortable with it, but so far it's been hard to argue with the results. He's been able to pull off some pretty long-odds ops, with minimal exposure for his small handful of reliable Sentinels.

A couple of us have made the case for long-term risk assessment on the approach, but I suspect he's not going to change his tune until something goes pear-shaped and his rep takes an actual hit.

This is another reason why those "By Any Means Necessary" guys are corrosive to Firewall. Trucking with the likes of the ID Crew and Nine Lives and the LLACO and Shui Fong may be profitable, in some cases, or may grant access to... Interesting egos, but in the long run that kind of thing gets out. I'm pretty sure everyone on the Eye has heard about that server that was faccilitating that child-ego sex-slavery ring (no matter how fast it got clamped down on, word like that gets around.) Whether or not that was even a true rumor is immaterial, but enough rumors like that get around, and a Sentinel is going to start asking themselves if working for us is really any superior, from a moral standpoint, to working for the Other Guys. This goes 1,000% true for anyone whose servers are involved in shenanigannery of that nature!

When they start asking themselves questions like that, the best-case scenario (for us) is that another Server (or sometimes, a Cell of a server's own Sentinels,) decides that said Server is not representing Firewall's mission of standing in opposition to existential risks to transhumanity in an appropriate way, and takes them out. Second-best scenarios include them breaking off to go wildcat/just make a clean break out of the game altogether, or defecting to the Titanian spook agencies or the Argonauts (if possible.)

If we're really unlucky, they'll decide that since they're already monsters, they may as well be well-compensated monsters, and defect to the Other Guys/the Ultimates.

Quote:
Not sure how this turned into therapy; any suggestions?

Yeah. Start looking for another Server, one you can live with being associated with, or try to move up in the ranks yourself. Or else bring this up with other members of the Eye (and frankly you've already done that, what with what you just said,) and hope that our existing mechanisms for reigning in an errant Server will result in this guy getting a stern talking-to by people with the influence to make his life hell if he doesn't straighten up.

Or, if those aren't an options, decide whether or not you're happier living with what the guy is doing, breaking off ties (and if you're part of this org, you damn well should have the skills to make a clean break whether or not a Proxy with a grudge is looking for you, as long as you don't piss off all of the Eye,) or explaining your actions in purging his operation, burning his stack and deleting as many of his backups you can find to the rest of us.

I don't recommend that last one, as an aside, but if you work for this org, you damn well ought to have the skills to pull it off as long as you're willing to accept there's a statistically zero chance you'll be able to get away with it undetected. (Also, you won't be able to get their backups that we have, but no matter the circumstances, if a member of Firewall takes such umbrage to another member that they go and start burning stacks and running backup deduplication protocols on his outside backups, there's going to be a lot of pointed questions asked of the ego before they just reinstantiate him.)

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Zarpaulus Zarpaulus's picture
From what I can discern

From what I can discern psychosurgery isn't 100% reliable, especially in regards to memory erasure. And in any case it's going to be harder than running a kidnapped Fork in Breakout: Crisis until it reaches its breaking point and deleting it, then contacting the original who's been going about their life as if nothing happened.

SquireNed SquireNed's picture
Zarpaulus wrote:From what I

Zarpaulus wrote:
From what I can discern psychosurgery isn't 100% reliable, especially in regards to memory erasure. And in any case it's going to be harder than running a kidnapped Fork in Breakout: Crisis until it reaches its breaking point and deleting it, then contacting the original who's been going about their life as if nothing happened.

Psychosurgery isn't 100% reliable; I do it, and I should know. There are endless levels of intricacy; it's only really effective when used in a therapeutic scenario with a willing patient. Memory erasure is actually relatively easy, if you're willing to smash and grab, but large-scale memory erasure is how you wind up with gibbering husks, and even I find it to be inhumane, and I've used psychosurgery to do some pretty mean things.

Forknapping recruits just isn't an effective long-term strategy. It works in a pinch, but the better strategy is fork-renting. Find someone who has the skills you need and is someone you can use as a deniable asset, and simply ask politely with a monetary incentive. Alternatively, the standard methods of blackmail and coercion can be used, if you're fine with the ethical implications (again, I shy away from it), as well as the fact that it's also likely to backfire on you.

The best way to get recruits is to have them apply, but depending on how you're hiring you can't always do that. Of course, psychosurgery can help to give that little "I think I'd actually like to work for you" push, and it's relatively effective. Once someone joins, you can keep 'em going easily, but you have to make sure they don't feel betrayed.

There's only so much "greater good" you can spout before people get fed up. I know that "greater good" alone doesn't cut it for me, but I have a financial support network of a couple dozen mes so I can afford to take a hit from time to time. Your psychosurgery patient may be more pliable.

Creator of Street Rats, a CC-BY cyberpunk roleplaying game.

ShadowDragon8685 ShadowDragon8685's picture
I should point out that

I should point out that financial incentives are only effective on Sentinels who are still mostly affectionate towards Firewall, but are having serious problems in their other lives that they need help sorting out. Very often, with that kind of person, the more effective solution is to relocate them somewhere they'll have an easier time having their own other life than just giving them money... Or else deploying some otherwise-unused Firewall assets to help take care of their problems in lieu of money.

For instance, if a guy is in deep with a mob of one stripe or another, paying off his debts might be expensive - more expensive than sortieing a Sentinel cell to deal with the problem - a lot of Servers don't ever think of this, for some reason, but if you need to raise funds, there's a huge overlap in the Venn diagram between a successful heist crew and a successful Sentinel cell, and with the intel we're coming up with all the time, you should be able to identify some materially-profitable flaws your crew can exploit.
And really, who doesn't love a good old-fashioned heist, huh? You can pay off your guy's debts, give the rest of the guys a bonus, and give yourself a fat cash injection. (Just don't make this too much of a habit. Not only will it start to raise questions within Firewall, but it can get the attention of blocs who would otherwise not give a damn about Firewall.)

Or you could take a more direct approach and tell your Sentinels to scare the piss out of the mob in question, make it clear to them that their actions have attracted the unwelcome attention of one of the shadowy powers in the dark, and it would be most healthy for them to back off. Or simply relocate them and their backups somewhere that mob has no presence nor ability to project their power.

But basically, we can't compete with the Other Guys in terms of financial incentives, and if someone is so mercenary that financial incentives mean the difference between them being a believer in our cause and not believing in the cause, their loyalty should be considered suspect at all turns.

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SquireNed SquireNed's picture
ShadowDragon8685 wrote:I

ShadowDragon8685 wrote:
I should point out that financial incentives are only effective on Sentinels who are still mostly affectionate towards Firewall, but are having serious problems in their other lives that they need help sorting out. Very often, with that kind of person, the more effective solution is to relocate them somewhere they'll have an easier time having their own other life than just giving them money.

Relocation and financial assistance both help, but relocation is less-than-subtle. Especially if it comes out of the blue. Plus, financial incentives work well as a "psst, hey" before you either burn them as a deniable asset or give them the big speech.

Quote:
For instance, if a guy is in deep with a mob of one stripe or another, paying off his debts might be expensive - more expensive than sortieing a Sentinel cell to deal with the problem - a lot of Servers don't ever think of this, for some reason, but if you need to raise funds, there's a huge overlap in the Venn diagram between a successful heist crew and a successful Sentinel cell, and with the intel we're coming up with all the time, you should be able to identify some materially-profitable flaws your crew can exploit.
And really, who doesn't love a good old-fashioned heist, huh? You can pay off your guy's debts, give the rest of the guys a bonus, and give yourself a fat cash injection. (Just don't make this too much of a habit. Not only will it start to raise questions within Firewall, but it can get the attention of blocs who would otherwise not give a damn about Firewall.)

Or you could take a more direct approach and tell your Sentinels to scare the piss out of the mob in question, make it clear to them that their actions have attracted the unwelcome attention of one of the shadowy powers in the dark, and it would be most healthy for them to back off. Or simply relocate them and their backups somewhere that mob has no presence nor ability to project their power.

I would personally never deploy assets to do this sort of work; you don't want to get your name tarnished as being a criminal, nor do you want to show your hand. We fight the things that go bump in the night, not replace them, and even where we've got a lot of resources we're usually still a small player.

If an agent gets in trouble due to debts or the like, you didn't screen them closely enough or you didn't give them the support they needed a while back. In any case, they are more of a liability than an asset, and I would ditch them. Their decision, their problem.

Creator of Street Rats, a CC-BY cyberpunk roleplaying game.

ShadowDragon8685 ShadowDragon8685's picture
SquireNed wrote:I would

SquireNed wrote:
I would personally never deploy assets to do this sort of work; you don't want to get your name tarnished as being a criminal, nor do you want to show your hand. We fight the things that go bump in the night, not replace them, and even where we've got a lot of resources we're usually still a small player.

Mind you don't forget that tranish can make others misappraise the true nature of a thing. Whilst you don't want to make an absolute habit of it, doing some perfectly ordinary "criminal" work can make others underestimate you. It can be a means of securing much-needed resources for your server, and, to be perfectly frank, Sentinels need to not feel like every time you contact them, they're going to be in for nothing but horror and despair and thankless necessities that prevent them from getting sleep.

Quote:
If an agent gets in trouble due to debts or the like, you didn't screen them closely enough or you didn't give them the support they needed a while back. In any case, they are more of a liability than an asset, and I would ditch them. Their decision, their problem.

First off, in the second instance ("you didn't give them the support they needed a while back,") it is very much not their decision.
Second off, your Sentinels are always your problem. "Ditching" someone in a situation like this is somewhere near the top ten worst things you could do. You cut someone off from the Eye when they're already deep in debt and starting to sink, they're going to start seriously considering alternative ways out of the mess they find themselves in.
Best case scenario, they go Titanian or Argonaut. Worst case, as I mentioned above, they go to work for the Other Guys, who, as I have previously mentioned, have among their very few virtues an almost limitless budget. Shacking up with the Ultimates or some other merc group, or going criminal freelancer, would be somewhere in between.

Other really bad case scenarios include those guys they're in debt to grabbing themselves a copy of your now-burnt Sentinel's stack and interrogating the fuck out of him. They should find him a veritable font of information which the Other Guys or Oversight or other criminal cartels would just love to have, and pay for.

And any way you slice one of those above outcomes, now you're mobilizing assets to deal with the problem. Only instead of helping one of their own out, they're assassinating him after you already cut him off for no greater crime than winding up in debt to the mob. Which means that any of them are going to start thinking long and hard about how loyal you are to them (answer: not very,) and consequently, how much loyalty you in turn are owed (answer: not much.)

I iterated before, and I reiterate again: the only thing the Eye really has to offer our sentinels is our support network and to tick those social interaction and sense of belonging boxes. If they need money, the Other Guys have basically all of it, and so do the Ultimates, ID Crew, or even Direct Action or some other mercenary or criminal outfit. If they need to feel like they're fighting the good fight in ways that let them sleep at night, but have lost faith in Firewall, the Titanian intelligence services are eager to snap up anyone we leave disillusioned.

And if all that fails, if they still want to fight X-Risks, won't work for the Other Guys, and can't make contact with the Titanians, but their loyalty to Firewall is completely destroyed, they're just going to break off into the night and go wildcatting. If that happens, we can be well and truely screwed, because chances are that if they're a Sentinel operating on their own, they know exactly enough tradecraft to get themselves and whatever freelance cell of X-Risk Busters they build snatched up by the Other Guys and thoroughly interrogated.

Treat your Sentinels like family, because in many cases, you and the other Sentinels they know will be the only form family they have left. (And no, I do not mean "Exploit them.") You need to know what's going on in their lives, and be ready to help them out, whether it means sending one member of the cell around to another when they're going through an emotional crisis and feeling isolated and alone, or figuring out a way to get the legbreakers to back off, whether that mean just paying them off, relocating your Sentinel outside their reach, or scaring the metaphorical (or literal; I'm not gonna judge,) piss out of them.

And really, if you think burning a person whose primary skills (IE, the ones we either recruited them for, or which we heavily developed in them) involve subterfuge, stealth, chicanery, skulduggery, and a liberal dollop of violence, cutting them loose and kicking them out in the cold, with a head full of Firewall secrets, is a good idea, you need to have your firmware debugged and recompiled.

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SquireNed SquireNed's picture
ShadowDragon8685 wrote:

ShadowDragon8685 wrote:

Mind you don't forget that tranish can make others misappraise the true nature of a thing. Whilst you don't want to make an absolute habit of it, doing some perfectly ordinary "criminal" work can make others underestimate you. It can be a means of securing much-needed resources for your server, and, to be perfectly frank, Sentinels need to not feel like every time you contact them, they're going to be in for nothing but horror and despair and thankless necessities that prevent them from getting sleep.

First off, in the second instance ("you didn't give them the support they needed a while back,") it is very much not their decision.
Second off, your Sentinels are always your problem. "Ditching" someone in a situation like this is somewhere near the top ten worst things you could do. You cut someone off from the Eye when they're already deep in debt and starting to sink, they're going to start seriously considering alternative ways out of the mess they find themselves in.
Best case scenario, they go Titanian or Argonaut. Worst case, as I mentioned above, they go to work for the Other Guys, who, as I have previously mentioned, have among their very few virtues an almost limitless budget. Shacking up with the Ultimates or some other merc group, or going criminal freelancer, would be somewhere in between.

Other really bad case scenarios include those guys they're in debt to grabbing themselves a copy of your now-burnt Sentinel's stack and interrogating the fuck out of him. They should find him a veritable font of information which the Other Guys or Oversight or other criminal cartels would just love to have, and pay for.

And any way you slice one of those above outcomes, now you're mobilizing assets to deal with the problem. Only instead of helping one of their own out, they're assassinating him after you already cut him off for no greater crime than winding up in debt to the mob. Which means that any of them are going to start thinking long and hard about how loyal you are to them (answer: not very,) and consequently, how much loyalty you in turn are owed (answer: not much.)

I iterated before, and I reiterate again: the only thing the Eye really has to offer our sentinels is our support network and to tick those social interaction and sense of belonging boxes. If they need money, the Other Guys have basically all of it, and so do the Ultimates, ID Crew, or even Direct Action or some other mercenary or criminal outfit. If they need to feel like they're fighting the good fight in ways that let them sleep at night, but have lost faith in Firewall, the Titanian intelligence services are eager to snap up anyone we leave disillusioned.

And if all that fails, if they still want to fight X-Risks, won't work for the Other Guys, and can't make contact with the Titanians, but their loyalty to Firewall is completely destroyed, they're just going to break off into the night and go wildcatting. If that happens, we can be well and truely screwed, because chances are that if they're a Sentinel operating on their own, they know exactly enough tradecraft to get themselves and whatever freelance cell of X-Risk Busters they build snatched up by the Other Guys and thoroughly interrogated.

Treat your Sentinels like family, because in many cases, you and the other Sentinels they know will be the only form family they have left. (And no, I do not mean "Exploit them.") You need to know what's going on in their lives, and be ready to help them out, whether it means sending one member of the cell around to another when they're going through an emotional crisis and feeling isolated and alone, or figuring out a way to get the legbreakers to back off, whether that mean just paying them off, relocating your Sentinel outside their reach, or scaring the metaphorical (or literal; I'm not gonna judge,) piss out of them.

And really, if you think burning a person whose primary skills (IE, the ones we either recruited them for, or which we heavily developed in them) involve subterfuge, stealth, chicanery, skulduggery, and a liberal dollop of violence, cutting them loose and kicking them out in the cold, with a head full of Firewall secrets, is a good idea, you need to have your firmware debugged and recompiled.

I don't know what sort of cells you work in, but the cells I work in have a very high entry barrier with strict professionalism requirements. We also operate under the concept of total silence; almost nobody knows we exist, and those who do can only speculate based on thin evidence, like seeing regular modus operandi across various events. We don't do crime because it isn't worth the heat it brings. Of course, maybe it's just that we're all ex-military or ex-mercenary, and we tend to have a more centralized support network.

I think it is an agent's decision to get into dire straits without warning their team-members. When we orient a new Sentinel, we make it clear that they are not to do things that jeopardize the mission: no crime, no debts, no fooling around. We give them that clause before they know what they're doing, and if they say no we walk away and cease to exist as far as they are concerned.

As far as ditching Sentinels, we've only done it twice. In each case, members had gotten involved with questionable organizations or were suspected of turning to hostile intelligence agencies.

You seem to forget that there's good work for people with the sorts of skills that Sentinels build outside the x-risk community; we have some great would-be hypercorp darlings who are aces of the negotiation and law fields, as well as a number of Direct Action or Ultimate sorts. Former Firewall working mercenary jobs actually decreases the risk to humanity, even if they might know a little too much, but we compartmentalize information with the concept that any one of us could be burned from the network.

You also seem a little paranoid about the whole interrogation thing. We keep our identities secret, and most people aren't interesting enough to warrant interrogation. Speaking from experience, it takes about fifteen minutes to break an untrained individual, and the amount of information you are likely to gain is useless. I don't know of anyone who makes interrogation for debt a regular practice, though I don't have that many friends in the wrong places. Keep in mind that we train our members to resist interrogation, which gives them some benefits; I even provide voluntary psychosurgery to assist with that, though it's not particularly effective as it more preps them on ways to seem worthless than helping them endure long-term interrogation.

We're not heartless, we just demand our Sentinels to hold themselves to a standard. If members fail to live up to standards, we "fire" them just like any other organization. Most people are willing to sign a memory erasure contract for the event of dismissal, though as I've mentioned before I'm not a huge fan of the procedure—it does make people very resilient against standard interrogation not performed by a skilled psychosurgeon, though.

Creator of Street Rats, a CC-BY cyberpunk roleplaying game.

Chrontius Chrontius's picture
As someone who's changed

As someone who's changed genders on a "bite the bullet" basis without psychosurgical or even psychological assistance, I'd like to be the first to say I'm glad it's not your cell I ran into first.

I don't make a habit of knocking over banks, but as someone who has enough trouble sleeping under his desk, meeting you all didn't do wonders for my ability to get my forty winks. I'd kindly appreciate not having to wonder if you'd put up with the kind of PTSD I can't talk to muggles about, and more to the point, that doing the right thing caused. I figure, I'd appreciate it if you acknowledged that you do your recruits some dirt, and gave us some latitude for trying to reorient.

I'm already known to sleep under my desk and shower at the fitness center, but people are starting to recognize what passes for dark circles under the eyes in a ripwing, and I only have monthly access to a healing vat if I'm lucky.

It's not like I'm eleven kinds of badass, I'm just an old man who knows the right kinds of questions to ask to find you all. I was fucking thrilled when I got the Big Speech.

(My master has been away from the terminal for almost 180 seconds now; hyperspectral cameras suggest that he is measuring an ethanol solution - he's paying attention again.)

It seems like cutting and running is a cowardly decision from those in your position, when you are quite capable of causing the problems in the first place. Maybe you all didn't leave me homeless the last three times, but I sure haven't tried to find another place to sleep since I met you all.

Chrontius Chrontius's picture
(My master has retreated to a

(My master has retreated to a sleeping bag under his desk and cut his connection. I believe you have touched a nerve. In the future, please consider displaying more overt sympathy for your employees; I gather that significant sacrifices are made, at the expense of those employees, and with little personal gain. In the meantime, I need to monitor my master's liver function. If you'll excuse me...)

SquireNed SquireNed's picture
We help out our guys with the

We help out our guys with the repercussions of runs. Again, we do have a capable, if unlicensed, psychosurgeon who did the traditional college route, so even if you want to keep people out of your brain you still get professional treatment from my cell.

It's when agents do things that could jeopardize the integrity of the cell that they get removed. If they have needs, we support them. If they go off on their own and attract the wrong sort of attention by using loan sharks, doing heists, or the like, we remove them. As I mentioned, we have substantially more liquid assets than the average cell, since several of us pull down security contracts.

First, I like to think that the outsiders who know about Firewall would think highly of us, and not lump us in with criminals and terrorists. Sure we don't make happy endings, but we're up against things that go bump in the night. Second, I don't want my cell running into heightened habitat security because some half-witted Sentinel thought they'd go and make a little money on the side.

Creator of Street Rats, a CC-BY cyberpunk roleplaying game.

Rolando DeLaxie Rolando DeLaxie's picture
Physically kidnapping someone

Physically kidnapping someone gets spotted by a SPIME every goddamn time.

"Nobody goes to Grid 36." --Rolando DeLaxie
Scandal Artist, Extortionist, fmr Noctis Ranger

SquireNed SquireNed's picture
Rolando DeLaxie wrote

Rolando DeLaxie wrote:
Physically kidnapping someone gets spotted by a SPIME every goddamn time.

Not if you do it right. Deploy EMP, then dazzlers or camera burning lasers to render them blind within a few minutes of the desired operation. Use a vehicle, drive by the blind zone, stuff 'em in, you and vehicle keep going in your separate ways no issue.

Change the exterior of the morph and vehicle as soon as possible, and you've seriously limited tracking.

Creator of Street Rats, a CC-BY cyberpunk roleplaying game.

Rolando DeLaxie Rolando DeLaxie's picture
The vehicle has to be

The vehicle has to be "outside" and can be recorded at any range, silencing and EMPing leaves traces and makes noise, this is where I clutch my head and start making awful muttering sounds from the sheer complexity of it all. Surveillance is way too goddamn ubiquitous. Switching morphs takes an hour minimum if you have cyberbrains. You have to be at peace with being spotted. I hate it too. But to that end on top of all that I suggest smartclothes. Ask about our Candybar(tm) brand G36 uniforms!

"Nobody goes to Grid 36." --Rolando DeLaxie
Scandal Artist, Extortionist, fmr Noctis Ranger

Baribal Baribal's picture
Total deniability

Even if you do your darnedest to leave no traces of your abduction, there's one thing you can't erase: You use your target's time. Even if you cook up the perfect cover, like impersonating the police to make it look like you legally detained him for a while, or a mountaineering accident at some god- and mesh-forsaken place deep in the Martian or Titanian wilderness, someone who had plans of spending time with your target may start investigating. Cover stories are often less bulletproof than psychosurgical interventions are. Does the police department exist? Do the people there remember the incident, even if the records say that it happened? What about other wilderness nuts who just happened to be in the region, or what about the hospital that the target says he went to to have his injuries treated? All it takes is one overly curious person to keep pulling the thread for the whole cover to unravel.
Forknapping is a matter of making a copy. The traces of it can be erased in all but the most paranoid systems, and even then there's no cover story that someone could find weird, at least not on the target's side; internal audits at the body bank are another beast, of course.
And even if you say you have the perfect cover, then you usually also have a very limited time frame. I don't know the specifics about what an interview at Firewall entails, and probably I also do not *want* to know (and I really hope that it's not performed by people who enjoy their work), but from my own, mostly theoretical knowledge, I know that a sufficiently thorough deconstruction can take weeks of real-time, even when you're working with time dilation and as parallel as you can. No way that you could do that without forknapping.

Don't get me wrong, it is the wrong thing to do. But I don't see how less wrong approaches could fit the bill at all.

Morgan's Butchery | Body bank, morph individualization and upgrades | Psychotherapy and Psychosurgery, therapeutic and recreational | http://eclipsephase.com/comment/59484#comment-59484

SquireNed SquireNed's picture
This is why you rip a copy.

This is why you rip a copy. Nobody's the wiser, and it keeps your recruit from returning to their normal life.

As far as recruits go, the method of inducting people varies. I'm not someone who's done it a ton, but various mes have sit in on one or another initiation, and it really depends.

If you're a random guy who's seen too much and needs to be brought to the truth, it's something that can be a long and lengthy process, especially when the time comes to figure out the risk of recruiting them versus their potential utility. Seen a few of those guys get reinstantiated before they ever knew us (if the guy doing the interview felt nice) after an interview.

If you're philosophically aligned, it's more of a loyalty test. We need to make sure we ain't bringing in people who will go traitor, so that's how it goes. You'd be surprised how slapdash these can be, especially if we're pretty certain that we need that person right now for something and they can't be fully vetted.

Field recruiting gets even messier. I've handed a guy a gun and said "Congratulations, you're Firewall now." Of course, that version of him didn't last much longer than "Huh?", but I've seen that be the beginning of some really beautiful agents.

Of course, there's some sloppiness. For instance, most mes are Firewall members, but only one of us was ever formally recruited. I probably shouldn't post that too loudly around here. There are a couple branches of me that even joined Firewall independent of my branch, and we met within the organization. Could be more.

Creator of Street Rats, a CC-BY cyberpunk roleplaying game.