OSFI Player's Handbook Chapter 6: Friends and Enemies of the OSFI Field Agent
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Friends and Enemies of the OSFI Field Agent
The life of a field agent working for OSFI is a dangerous one; an agent's well-being often depends on how shrewdly he or she chooses hisor her friends and how well he or she remians vigilant in his or her search for his or her enemies.
Contacts and Double Agents
A contact can be defined as anyone who has access to data or resources that may be potentially useful at some point in time; a double agent is a contact in the employ of a foreign power's intelligence service but is actually working for OSFI. As such, it is not a contact's rank, social standing, etc. that determines his or her quality, but rather the nature of the information and the how inconspicuous the contact can be in accessing it. For instance, a high-level officer who continuously accesses information outside of his or her purview may draw attention, whereas a computer technician or programmer who works with sensitive materials regularly may not.
Motive also helps to determine a contact's quality. A contact motivated by money is generally not the most reliable, as he or she can and will go to a higher bidder should one come along; they also tend to be less willing to endure intensive interrogations should he or she be captured. However, contacts motivated by personal reasons or political ideologies are usually more reliable due to a more personal devotion to the job itself.
"Creating" a contact or double agent is a tricky business, yet it is perhaps the most critical in a field agent's life. It is the contacts and double agents who provide the information an agent needs, an escape route from time to time, and even other material needs should the circumstances demand it. An agent generally assesses the potential contact's position and access to information, and then seeks clues as to the potential contact's personal or political feelings in order to determine if "turning" a contact or agent is possible. However, it is largely a gut feeling or judgement; if successful, the contact could provide valuable information, but if unsuccessful, it often blows the agent's cover.
Once a contact is created or an agent turned, care must be taken to insure that the connection between the OSFI agent and the contact is never made. This generally means only very limited social contact (often, face-to-face meetings only take place under the most dire of circumstances) between contact and agent. The most common methods of passing information are usually either through some sort of electronic or subspace communication; however, old-fashioned methods such as the "dead drop" (a secret location where information is left by the contact for the agent to pick up) or the "brush contact" (exchanging information as the contact passes the agent in the street) are just as successful when distances between contact and agent aren't prohibitive.
An informant is a type of contact- usually a member of the criminal subculture of the area- who makes a living (or a nice side salary) by selling information. As mentioned above, financial arrangements tend not to make the most reliable of contacts, but some are quite reliable, as they are proud of having a reputation of reliability. Of course, such "professional" informants tend to be far more expensive than your average every-day street snitch...but, in this business, you get what you pay for.
Finding a broker of information is not generally terribly difficult, as they need to be known in order to make any money in the first place. This presents its own set of problems for the field agent, as he or she usually does not like to advertise his or her interest too loudly. However, if one is found, an agent should take care to have hard currency (i.e. latinum) at his or her disposal, as Federation credits are not generally accepted since it is only an electronic currency.
An agent would do well to keep the information broker from dictating the places of any meetings or drops for his or her own safety.
While assassination operations are directly against OSFI's ethical and moral mandate, the same cannot be said for other powers in the galaxy. The Romulans, Cardassians and Klingons all utilize assassination to achieve political or intelligence successes, as do other, lesser-known organizations. Since there is always the chance that an OSFI field operative might be discovered, there is a risk that he or she could become targets of an assassin.
One of the primary difficulties facing agents is the wide variety of assassination methods at the assassin's disposal. There are those who prefer "blunt" instruments, such as phasers, lead pipes, stun batons, etc. Often, 'accidents" are created when something a bit more subtle is needed, such as transporter accidents, sabotaging environmental systems, programming a replicator to poison anyting that is ordered, etc. The method is generally chosen after carefully considering the target, the target's surroundings, the degree of subtlety needed and/or desired, and, of course, the method of escape.
As one can imagine, ferreting out an assassin is difficult at best. However, if an agent remembers the mantra of "caution and vigilance," the odds get better. For example, simply remaining focused and aware of one's surroundings and, more importantly, any changes or additions to them, will go a long way in determining if something was "wrong." Also, using caution when interacting with contacts and double agents- such as not becoming friendly with anyone not important to the mission- would narrow the odds down even further.
Other Organizations within the Federation
Star Fleet Intelligence is a relatively self-contained unit; however, there are times when it must cooperate with other agencies and organizations in order to perform its duties. Though OSFI tries to keep things "in-house" as much as possible, it does not always have that luxury.
When OSFI has to depend on another organization to conduct operations, it is usually from Star Fleet proper, either the Navy or the Marine Corps. For example, field agents often "hitch" rides aboard starships (under some cover story) in order to reach their appointed destination; Marine Corps elite units and special forces are often used by agents in extraction missions.
Whenever possible, agents are encouraged to be honest and forthcoming with their Star Fleet brethren; however, the mantra of "need to know" is to be considered at all times. Again, this comes down to "caution and vigilance"- remember that the more people that know something, the more likely it is that others will find out.
* The Vulcan Intelligence Bureau (V'SHAR)
The V'Shar focus solely on protecting Vulcan interests; however, when information of a critical nature to all of the Federation is obtained, the V'Shar are quick to share said information with OSFI or other appropriate authorities. such practices are, of course, reciprocated by OSFI.
Since OSFI is an external organization, the two agencies rarely cross paths in the field, save when the operation being undertaken concerns Vulcan or Vulcan interests. Nevertheless, when their paths do cross, relations have historically been smooth and non-competitive, largely due to the fact that the V'Shar observe the same ethical and moral principles of action that OSFI does.
* The Am Tal
The Am Tal is the internal security force of the Andorian people. However, unlike the V'Shar, the Am Tal does not stick solely to internal Andorian security; they are quick to run operations off-planet if they feel it is in the best interests of Andor.
Also unlike the Vulcans, who are a peacful, passive people, the Andorians are a violent, passionate race. As such, the by-laws that are rumored to govern the Am Tal do not contain the same restraint that OSFI's or the V'Shar's do; the Am Tal are rumored to be well-versed in running black operations of all types. However, these are nothing but unconfirmed rumors and matters of hearsay- no such actions or operations have ever been confirmed.
In fact, the very existence of the Am Tal is more akin to that of Section 31 than OSFI or the V'Shar- it is based largely upon conjecture, rumor and hearsay. However, given their rumored propensity for conducting operations outside of Andorian space, there is the chance that OSFI operatives may encounter Am Tal agents; if one does, extreme caution is advised in any dealings with them.
* Section 31
Since Section 31's existence has already been summarized in the Overview of this document, only a sparce amount of elaboration is needed in this section.
Only recently has Section 31's existence finally been proven; as such, Star Fleet is taking an active role in ferreting out agents of this shadow organization. For more info, see the Section 31 factsheet.