[ 🎶 ] One of many methane lakes of Saturn's largest moon Titan. The Saturnian Commonwealth's capital Nova Canterlot is in the hazy background.
In the Commonwealth, we like our government neatly organized, correct, and most of all transparent. Nothing vexes the citizens of Saturn's moons more than the suspicion that somewhere, someone in their government is doing something they didn't get a say on. And yet, in a nation where everyone has served in the military at one point, there's also credence to the fact that secrets can have their uses. The space between the appetite of the government for its own accountability and its need to champion our social system in a post-collapse age leaves a dark space; a spook world, where exigencies surpass idealism.
We've invited monsters to dwell in that dark world, reassuring ourselves that they're our monsters. For now, at least, the monsters are playing along. But the fact remains: the Commonwealth is the most benevolent state-level entity to've hailed from old Earth—until you cross its security services, at which point it is pure evil.
Influenced by our outer system neighbors, and in spirit of our own mania for egalitarianism, Saturnian agencies tend toward flat structuring. Heirarchy exists, but every attempt is made to minimize managerial positions by using artificially intelligent systems to coordinate work and compile reports to the agency head. Every agency has an AI engineering department that spends its time fine-tuning the expert systems managing everyone's work. In an emergency, each agency has elected personnel designated to temporarily assume management.
The exceptions to the above are the Expeditionary Fleet and the Civilian Intelligence Directorate, or "CID", where more traditional command structure is the order of the day. A system of checks and balances exists between these two agencies, however, starting with their reporting to two different ministries in government.
Imparting confidential information is a thorny dilemma to a parliamentary e-democracy
. In the past such information, if it had to leave security agencies, was at least restricted to political elites who had great deal to lose if they failed handling it carefully. The nature of elections in the Commonwealth's Parliament means that new ministers can come out of nowhere. Thanks to the influence of political groups like the Pirate party
, the Commonwealth has no overarching state secret laws. To counterbalance this, CID and Fleet Intelligence devised a unique system of delivering intel briefings.
CID and Fleet jointly maintain a corps of AI intel consultants called "attachés". Their function is to advise their clients—ministers, ministerial staff, ambassadors, and occasionally special commissions of the Parliament—on intelligence matters. Attachés are semi-sapient expert systems
that connect to the "Orchestra", a system of predictive algorithms married with an expansive intel database. They observe conversations, internal deliberations, and official communications of their client. If the case warrants it, they will offer confidential information based on their analysis of the situation.
The attaché's access to the Orchestra is bolstered with kinesics
recognition software, learned and compiled knowledge of their client, and downloadable "skillsofts" loaded with subject matter knowledge (which, being skillsofts, also reﬂect the vaporous opinions of the professional whose skills are being duplicated). Attachés may respond to questions from their client, but more often, they silently record and observe, offering information only when the Orchestra deems the situation worthy of warranting it.
Attachés are downloaded into small assistant bots, synthetic bodies, cranial "ghostrider" modules, or sometimes fully-organic bodies with neuromorphic processors
. They are usually identified by a single thick blue stripe, running from forehead to jaw over the right eye. For synths and bots, similar markings are part of the construction, or is even painted over the "face". CID assigns them to the staffs of ministers, and they're a regular sight in Saturnian diplomatic delegations. They almost never speak when anyone other than their clients are present, instead providing info via encrypted mesh communications.
The Orchestra is a highly controversial program. At best, it arms Saturnian officials with timely intel to strengthen their negotiations. It keeps intel secret until needed, partly solving the conundrum of an elected body having access to state secrets. Nevertheless, some in the Parliament want further reassurances. Who really controls the Orchestra? Who decides what its predictive algorithms decide that the attachés should broker? Does it give too much power to CID? So far, the Orchestra hasn't been a source of scandal, but the topic remains a hot point of debate. Parliament members with A-Bloc or Pirate sympathies regularly propose legislation or special commissions to curtail the Orchestra, but so far, the greater majority hasn't been moved by their arguments.
A more profound method occasionally used is the zero retention briefing. Using this method, officials are administered a drug that prevents long term memory formation, and are prevented from using mnemonic cyber-augmentation or other recording methods. A third party supervises the meeting to ensure no tampering by either side, beyond ensuring the parties being briefed recall nothing. The participants have enough time to absorb the briefing, make deliberations, and vote on further measures. They're then isolated until the drug takes effect. The Parliament has its voice heard, but secrets remain secret. However, there are a number of special rules governing this meeting, including the possibility for the party being briefed to vote for wider disclosure of the information discussed. If more than one session is required, the third party in charge of security keeps an encrypted recording of the minutes the participants can study at the start of the next meeting.
At least it can be said the intelligence community eats its own dog food. Memory suppression or selective memory editing are used on operatives as well. For operatives who've seen something they shouldn't've, a trip to Fleet Intel's Office of Wellness may be in order. For agents operating in the field as reduced beta forks
, memory-pruning before remerging with the "prime" original isn't uncommon. Whether some forks are outright deleted is an open question, but when it's known ahead of time that operatives will encounter things they're not cleared to hold the knowledge of, they may be implanted with an involuntarily controlled narcoalgorithm or drug gland that administers doses of the long-term memory suppressor known as "grey ranks". This drug can prevent memory formation for over a week—albeit with some side effects.
You'll be shocked, of course, to hear that briefings and missions directly involving the causes of Earth's Collapse are frequent causes for various memory hacks. It’s tempting to blame Fleet for this zeal in keeping secrets, but the Ministries of State and Law & Equity are quietly supportive of the policy. Of the ministries, only the Pirate-controlled Science Ministry stands in opposition.
Having seen action during the Fall of Earth, and having collaborated to some extent with ex-JASONs
and other consulting advisors on existential threats, the Commonwealth's intel services are well-briefed on the exsurgent threat. It is public knowledge in the Commonwealth that the antagonists during the Fall of Earth (leaving aside international infighting) were rogue seed ASI, namely "Total Information Tactical Awareness Networks", or "TITANS", armed with killer warbots, nanoswarms, and the ability to suborn, corrupt, and mutate biological lifeforms and machines. It's also well-known that the TITANs were up to something beneath the surface of Iapetus, and that the Saturnian Fleet bombed the moon in response.
One thing thing the Saturnian intelligence community hasn't done is to silo away compiled in-depth knowledge about the TITANs and exsurgency. No agency has a "TITAN office" with specific overview and authority of cases involving the TITANs or the exsurgent virus. The average Saturnian operative potentially has much greater access to information than their counterparts elsewhere, provided they have a need-to-know and aren't shy about requesting it.
Things that are not public knowledge, but are known to high-ranking intel ofﬁcers and any agent with a need-to-know:
• The TITANs' primary weapon, herein referred to as the "Exsurgent Virus", is a highly infectious and semi-sapient contagion transmissible across digital, physical, and genetic mediums, and can rapidly corrupt both machines and biological life.
• Beyond private intelligence services working for the Planetary Consortium of the inner system, and the Jovian
Republic's CID analogues, there are two notable organizations specializing in gathering intel on the TITANs and the Exsurgent Virus. One, Project Ozma, is a black-budget project under the auspice of the Planetary Consortium. The other, Firewall, is an anarchist affinity group operating across the solar system as a fractionated vigilante network rather than a unified organization.
• The TITANs were building a moon-scale supercomputer
beneath the crust of Iapetus
. Exsurgent-infected colonists served as drone labor.
• Many former CID consultants from during the Fall now work for Firewall. Others might have gone over to OZMA. Relative to Firewall, the Commonwealth’s stance on other possible existential threats breaks down roughly thus:
are understood as extreme augmentation cases or singularity seekers. Given that CID and Fleet Intel practice extreme augmentation virtually as a condition of employment, the Commonwealth doesn’t recognize "lucies" as inherently threatening unless they behave as such.
• The Science Ministry and CID's Office of Science and Technology deal secretly with extrasolar alien envoys known as the Factors
on a fairly regular basis. Fleet has quietly pursued the location of the Factor's base of operations in or near Solar space for years, but they've done so very cautiously and under false-flags for fear of upsetting the apple cart that is trade in alien technology.
• The ultra-survivalist mercenary group known as the Ultimates
are deemed a major ideological rival and potentially a serious threat to Saturnian security. The Commonwealth has watched their involvement with stargate exploration and the seizure of authority throughout the Rhean spaceport cluster with particular unease. The gates at Pandora
are the focal points of a cold war that will certainly run hot if the ultimates make their move.
Equestria was once termed "The Sixth Eye". Thanks to its advantageous position for spying on the Loshadians, Equestria was chosen as a member of the "Five Eyes" SIGINT alliance between the old United States of Agarica, Griffonstone, Yakyakistan, the Crystal Empire, and Hosstralia. Although the alliance that earned it the appellation ended before the Fall of Earth, it gave Equestria a massive head start in SIGINT and info-warfare capability compared to its neighboring countries. The USA-backed space colonies around Jupiter as well as those of Equestria around Saturn later inherited much of this capacity.
The SIGINT offices of the Commonwealth's intel services remain home to an old guard virtually unreformed in outlook from the Loshadi-Atlantic Second Cold War. Once servants of the Equestrian Crown, never fully comfortable in their later allegiance with the US, and now oft alienated amid the newness of the Commonwealth, the old guard are varied in their politics and don't constitute a unified group. Because they possess the preternatural expertise of the hyper-aged however, they often wield great influence. To mistake them for relics is foolish. The spook world is now the only one they truly know, and they're its elder ghosts. Minister: Claudine Trudeau Agency Head: Director Riika Järveläinen
CID is the civilian analysis wing of the Saturnian off-world intelligence services. Reporting to the Minister of State, CID’s functions include signals intelligence, mesh monitoring, analyzing surveillance data, and monitoring deep-space trafﬁc for possible threats to circumsaturnian space.
CID's history is entwined with that of Fleet Intelligence. Both came into being about three decades before the Fall. The nascent state emerged from the Equestrian colonies thriving upon the moon Titan, during an era when the outer solar system was, to some minds, up for the taking. Prospectors were staking claims on various moons and rocks, and just as often, governments and hypercorporations sought to take control as well. The lines between settlers, merchants, and pirates were very blurry in those days, and often crossed. CID began as a deep-space tracking and listening outfit, charged with monitoring radio traffic, ship telemetry, and exhaust flares. CID analysts scrutinized ships' communications, trajectories, and physical characteristics from sensor posts hidden all around the Solar system. If a ship headed toward the Commonwealth or one of its outposts looked like a potential threat, CID issued early warnings to Fleet and Parliament. CID still performs this work today, but its portfolio has long since expanded.
CID is divided into several offices whose AI managers report to the agency's head, Riika Järveläinen, a former officer of the Equestrian Office of Strategic Intelligence. CID has no operatives for field activities. Ops and field-gathered intel are strictly the province of Fleet Intelligence. Physical security of CID facilities is handled either by the Security Police, or, for the highest security areas, by Fleet. CID includes the following offices: Asset Monitoring
: Asset Monitoring keeps tabs on current and potential field-operative assets. It works with Memetic Warfare and Fleet’s Office of Field Intelligence to identify and recruit informants and operatives from other polities. It also analyzes intercepted messages from the Mesh and Signals Intelligence Ofﬁce for threats to undercover operative assets. Asset Monitoring never has direct contact with assets; this falls to Fleet. Forecasting
: The office of Forecasting runs predictive simulations on everything, from the likely paths of asteroids in the Lagrangian Transport Network, to entire foreign economies. Employing massive computing power and no small number of AGIs
, Forecasting also supplies combat and defense related simulation data to Fleet for both training and planning purposes. Memetic Warfare
: This office monitors memes and trends in news and the open mesh. Analysts seek to identify memes that are threatening to the Commonwealth, as well as those that might be leveraged to its benefit. On paper, Memetic Warfare liaises regularly with its counterpart office in the Security Police, but in reality the relationship is a rocky one due to personality clashes between their agency heads. Mesh & Signals Intelligence (SIGINT)
:This office eavesdrops on the corporate, diplomatic, and governmental communications of hostile polities. The Ministry of Law & Equity has the power to appoint special attachés to monitor MSI's choice of surveillance targets (though not the content of intelligence gathered). Usually, there is at least one such attaché active at any time, reporting directly to the Minister of Law & Equity. Research & Development
:The engineering wing of CID spends most of its time developing new software, new field gear for Fleet's operatives, and new SIGINT technology for deployment into the deep-space surveillance networks maintained by Fleet. R&D has also researched into the rare post-Fall phenomenon of magical unicorns biologically resurrected
within equestrian communities, and a debate is ongoing about whether to go public regarding the silent return of magic. Doing so might enable the Commonwealth to be the first polity to create an organized corps of magic-wielding agents through R&D's preplanned GALDREBOK program, but so far, caution due to the "Watts-MacLeod" variant of exsurgent virus tied to all cases has carried the day. Science and Technology
: S&T analyzes scientific and technological developments elsewhere in the solar system, specifically those tied into TITANs, exsurgents, psycholucidites, and black-budget hypercorp projects. Rumors that the office has a large amount of hardware capable of hosting boxed
seed AIs for study are most likely true. Space Trafﬁc
: This offices fulfills CID's original role of monitoring deep-space traffic for objects potentially threatening to circumsaturnian space, its holdings in the Asteroid Belt, and its outposts elsewhere. It also monitors potential threats to the Commonwealth's allies, such as the Locus habitat cluster within the Jovian Trojans
. CID's network of listening posts spans across the solar system, as well as throughout several others through the Pandora stargate to exoplanetary colonies. Updates from the extrasolar systems come asynchronously when data is physically transported
through the mysterious black-body
wormholes of the gates. The physical listening posts themselves are placed and maintained by Fleet.