A false start (process, process…)

Sources of Contamination:
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An Op is an Op, simple; but an Op doesn’t venture into enemy territory alone. We vet families – and can bar them from joining the Op – but once they leave our sphere of influence, the Op must seize control and wield his kin as clandestine cover. A respectable man must have a wife, after all, and a respectable wife must be fecund and productive for her Lord and State. But the pliant, detached creatures we select for foreign assignment are not householders by nature. Would that we could destroy their defective brood; but that is an engineer’s solution. And much as we suffer the consequences, as much as it might be humane to do so, we cannot simply execute children without risking international outcry and accusations of profound hypocrisy at home. By mandate each household must reproduce the State in miniature. When a family veers off course the community and State will apply corrective pressures and return it to equilibrium. Abroad, at best the family will live on a diplomatic compound, where a network of families can provide at least a semblance of normalizing forces: a bad facsimile of State, perhaps, but at least an image of State, however blurry. Compound life is not always possible. Often a family must survive as a discrete unit, submerged in a zone of maximal contact with hostile elements, where surveillance must be assumed and proper comportment is crucial. Those families – estranged from State and saturated in Strange – become odd and decline.

Decades of discrete surveillance finds clusters of traits evolving in families bereft of State. A male and female pair will often allow the infantile fantasies of their child to pollute their discourse and cuckold the State. And what is family but discourse? Or more accurately: what is family but programming and course correction through discourse? Transcripts reveal trained Ops referring to their families as prides of lions (which in turn fosters a base environment of sprawling), wolf packs, dolphins, and in one instance as a flock of geese. Correctives applied through official channels – specifically requests for the patriarch to intervene and introduce elements of Protocol and Doctrine into their play – yield weird and unwanted results. Aforementioned flock of geese, a mother, a father and an infant nicknamed “egg,” spoke of “squawk protocol” and “big honk,” performed chores in service of “the Pond.” Prefrontal lobotomies were performed resulting in the usual steep drops in performance. Other methods of maintaining a semblance of separation from outside elements and a totem of State in the home include cooking meals unavailable in the assigned country. Such meals involve complex improvisation to find substitute ingredients, or interaction with a network of countrymen- ritual trades of baking soda for dried raisins, for example, or a bottle of wine for carob syrup. Camaraderie is commendable, of course, but substitutions of any sort are worrying, and threaten to undermine the meal. The meal being the transubstantiation of State, nourishment wrest from labor applied to the homeland’s soil.

Cities with large expatriate populations have stores dedicated to foreign comestibles. Britons in particular yearn for their native treats with remarkable fervor. Brewery slurry potted and sold as toast spread, clotted creams, tinned puddings with phallic names, sultanas, carbonated fluids… securing and consuming these atrocities becomes ritual for the Briton, and in this way, he is to be emulated. The treats are cheap and rewards not in the realm of the consumer. We have already begun to appropriate the process. Our farms produce delicacies for export and these may sometimes be found in such stores. Rinds sugared and packed with tissue in elegant tins. Dried cubes of stew meat we will call “threadies”. Our [commercial] agents spread these products. Our cuisine shall eventually become ubiquitous. Until then it shall struggle for shelf space among the lesser foodstuffs, among the gaudy things of the East and West, the heathen and the vulgar, cross-contaminated with the good.

It should go without saying that an Op should cultivate his relationships with those who serve the expatriate community, with an eye toward recruitment. They make excellent agents. Conversations overheard reveal compromising personal information, such as infirmity (toiletry and minor medical items such as familiar brands of bandage, lozenges, cough remedies etc. a large portion of their trade) or – in the case of stores equipped with a lending library or videocassettes for rent – sexual deviance. The clucking of spouses overheard is also a rich seam of information. But it should also go without saying one should be wary of these shopkeepers. All agencies are after them and their information is often muddled with their contact with the enemy (or entirely made up for profit, see: TINCAN where a shopkeeper in Havana supplied us with vacuum cleaner schematics he claimed were taken from a military installation and mislead us for years).

Our training is unrivaled, particularly for the current generation of Ops. Yet the training each must undergo is a source of distress and contamination when brought into an alien context. A complete description of the Training Round is beyond the scope of this document, and given that most of readership have experienced it, redundant. A brief overview will suffice to refresh the experienced many, and gloss over the experience for the unfamiliar few.

Each citizen must undergo his or her two years of mandatory military training at the age of eighteen. Aptitude tests are administered. High achievers with particularly agile set of personal ethics are identified and tracked into demanding, dangerous positions. Future Ops roam the southern borders, huddling for warmth in the mountains and firing at marauders with long guns. Others stoke furnaces or guard prison camps. Those who survive are sent to technical institutes and elite colleges for intellectual hardening. Ops are recruited from the ranks of junior party members, and introduced for two years to foreign orthodoxies – subjects that are corrosive to our ideals but necessary for an Op to become “polished” and presentable to the diplomatic community.

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