Men in Infrared
Nobody suspects an INFRARED of competence.
They're everywhere. They're idiots. We have to give them soft-tipped rubber sporks in the mess halls, for Computer's sake, or they'll take their own eye out trying to eat Gentle Surprise. We do our best to be supportive, to provide them with a safe environment where they can be functional and useful to Alpha Complex-- and where they are denied the ability to do any real damage to themselves or their surroundings-- and we keep an eye out for the ones that demonstrate real talent or potential for future improvement and promotion. But let's face it: there is a sea of INFRARED out there that just isn't capable of anything more serious (for good or bad) than stirring the Vats. Once someone is demonstrably sharp enough to be promoted to RED Clearance, all bets are off, but for the most part we know it's safe not to worry about random INFRAREDs every minute of the day.
Thus was born the Men In INFRARED Initiative (MIII), which originated in a proposal by IntSec's Men In VIOLET (MIV), who were looking for a creative solution to the problems brought up by the Moderately Xenophobic Vehicular Investigation (MXVI). 1 Their proposal, titled "Ramifications of an INFRARED that is Smart, Highly-Trained, and Well-Equipped" 2, sent shockwaves through the High Programmer community Complex-wide. I'm sure many of you still remember the hearings that followed shortly after, with poor Cond-I-RCE taking the heat for her VIOLET_Supervisors, and all the endless rounds of "we had no credible information about an imminent threat" and "had we known someone disguised as an INFRARED could lead a revolt, of course we would have taken action" and "this has nothing to do with our recently-divested shares of WhirledRON_Energy and Vermilion_Developments" 3. No sense in going over it in detail here. What matters is that, even as the hearings dragged on and on and Cond-I lost clone after clone, IntSec was already putting the hard lessons we all learned in CRY and BBY Sectors to work. By the time Cond-I-RCE-6 was smoldering ash and the hearings were concluded, Men in INFRARED were operating in every Sector in Alpha Complex. 4,5
The MiI are exactly what the IntSec proposal implies: Smart, highly-trained, and well-equipped Internal Security operatives disguised as idiotic INFRARED Citizens. Most of the time, they stagger around, point at random things and laugh, scratch their butts while trying to decide between Hot or Cold Fun for dinner, and stare glassy-eyed at the swirling surface of the nearest Vat... but the moment things get difficult, they snap into action, drawing high-power weaponry from places of concealment and moving quickly to take care of whatever trouble has arisen, usually by quickly and efficiently shooting it. Then, in the inevitable chaos that follows, they return their weapons to hiding and join the rest of the randomly-flailing and screaming Citizens, effectively disappearing back into the crowd.
Generally taken from their pool of BLUE Troopers, the Men are selected for their unswerving loyalty, their proven lack of association with Secret Societies, a medically-verified absence of mutations and Latent_Mutation_Suppressant_Deficiency, and a relatively low Clone number. They are then given thirty daycycles of intense Retro-Cluelessness Training (RCT), to enable them to plausibly disguise their inherently superior skills and intelligence when necessary, and issued an All-Access Backstage Pass (AABP), a specialized ME Card that can be made, when scanned, to return either the INFRARED cover identity's personal information, or the actual personal data (and true Security Clearance) of the agent.
The AABP was also able, under some circumstances, to temporarily authorize at any Clearance necessary, even a higher Security Clearance than the presenting agent's; when this occurred, the breach of security was noted but not denied. After finishing whatever official business necessitated the breach, the agent immediately would immediately return to his IntSec field office to undergo a Focused Wipe Of Memory Partitions (FWOMP), to remove knowledge of any higher-Clearance information he may have encountered. This ability of the AABP was removed following the ULTRAVIOLET_Massacre, when it was exploited to a truly absurd degree by Men who, it turned out, were not as unswervingly loyal, free of Secret Society ties, or clear of mutations as previously believed.
And there's the problem: It turns out that the screening methodology has been woefully inadequate. MiI are just as likely to have personal agendas and ulterior motives as any other Clone saavy enough to be worth promoting. The only difference between them and your standard run-of-the-mill Troubleshooter is that at least, when you're looking at a Troubleshooter, you know it. The Men were relatively identifiable for a while-- their jumpsuit was cut slightly different and they wore INFRARED eye-coverings-- but they aren't doing it anymore. As near as I can tell, unless they've all been killed off 6, the Men in INFRARED have gone native. We don't even know how many of them there are, or who any of them are anymore, since one of the first indications we all had that they were turning into a problem was agent Sm-I-TTH's 7 AABP-authorized access to and erasure of the IntSec records on MiI membership at the height of the massacre. 8
It appears they have since improved their methodology and their tools, as well. Several incidents have occurred recently which suggest Men in INFRARED can and do masquerade as other Clearance levels, such as RED, ORANGE, or YELLOW Troubleshooters, GREEN Clearance Tech Services engineers, etc. Also, it appears that at least some of their AABPs have retained their Clearance-exceeding capabilities (despite IntSec's assurances that this entire code branch in the primary security routines has been no-opped!) but have also had any individual user identity removed from them. It could be one MiI, it could be all of them; one AABP can no longer be distinguished from another, or tracked to an individual MiI.
I believe at least some of the BLUE Clearance Unidentified_Contractors in LAH Sector were MiI acting on their own AABP-cleared authority-- perhaps they were even the origin of Internal_Security_Order_3367/4-LAH itself-- and that Drake-U, Nook-U, and Huac-U were all unwitting scapegoats for their operation. It is, of course, entirely possible that they are involved with or behind many of the other mysterious incidences that have clearly surrounded the Toothpaste_Disaster and this Investigating Commission-- especially those that have involved the death or disappearance of Citizens, such as Action_Squad_Alpha, the Legion_of_Ultraviolence, and of course, Flo-U-RID-3 and Knok-U-OUT-5.
1 MXVI's name is actually a bit of security-by-obscurity, as it had nothing to do with fear of the foreign or vehicles of any sort, it was far more excessive than moderate, and it was a systematic purge/mass-termination rather than an "investigation": MXVI was Internal Security's private codename for the Armed Forces "action" that ended the ToothpasteRebellion.
2 The "INFRARED" being referred to, of course, was the so-called Batclone, who repeatedly evaded capture and termination throughout the entire massacre, until finally pinned down by the now-missing Peter-G-UNN-5 and his Legion_of_Ultraviolence.
3 Really, I should probably not have even thrown this last quote in, because it's just going to incite you Halle-B-RTN-4 watchdogs into another round of recriminations, and then eventually someone is going to pop up with ludicrous assertions about "shadowy groups of high-clearance PLC execs" and Voodoo_Economists, which is just patented nonsense.
4 The first unit of Men were already in training by the time the first copies of the "Ramifications" report were being dropped in mailboxes. Because the full extent of the Toothpaste_Disaster was still unfolding at that point, and follow-up incidents were still occurring, training was begun at IntSec's officially nonexistent Information Factory in LOK Sector. Despite this precaution, an act of sabotage nearly ended the program before it had even begun: the KorDrill7 (long abandoned and mostly forgotten about in HOL Sector) had been stolen at some point late in the chain of Disaster events-- unbeknownst to anyone at the time 9-- and slowly but surely smuggled into LOK Sector, where it was presumably intended to burrow through the fifty meters of LeadLike shielding that protect the Information Factory from the rest of LOK. I do not believe that those who stole and used the 'Drill were aware of the MiI program training in progress; no more than three or four Citizens in all of Alpha would have known about it at that point. The MiI program, however-- concerned that it had been detected-- moved to another (never identified, possibly mobile) training location, even as the "Ramifications" report began to make its shockwaves, and the first Men in INFRARED deployed approximately 25 daycycles later-- coincidentally enough, about the same time Cond-I-RCE-1 was taking the stand for the first time. 10
5 Initially, knowledge of the deployment of the MiI was kept purely within Internal Security, with an operational Clearance of VIOLET. Over time, however, the other Service Firms-- starting with Armed Forces-- became aware of the disguised operatives, and the Clearance level for the program decreased as more people needed to know about it for cross-coordination purposes. Today, knowledge of the program is generally GREEN Clearance within Internal Security, BLUE in Armed Forces, and INDIGO in all other Service Firms.
6 Highly unlikely, given their level of skill at evasion and survival, as well as the fact that IntSec continues to budget for them every fiscal quarter.
7 This identification is widely debated, since one MiI looks much like another on vid. The AABP used for the access was Sm-I-TTH's, however. On an interesting and potentially related note, fully 21.8% of the first round of Men recruits came out of TTH Sector.
8 This information was expected to be recovered and restored some time ago but the still-ongoing Class Three search and reconstruction effort has been hampered by the rate at which Men in INFRARED have been managing to kill anyone who is put on the search team.
9 It was not until well after things had calmed down that Intercepted_Communication_ZedZed/34-Seven-Alpha-6-Six was analyzed and the implications of its content were realized; yet another sterling example of the very expensive "intelligence community" that continues to let us down all too often.
10 I apologize for the size of this particular footnote, but details, I'm sure you'll agree, are very important.
I also note with some interest and more than a little growing concern that in just the past few hours, as I've been working on and saving drafts of this entry for the report, HPD&MC reports a 17% rise in the average number of INFRAREDs moving about our halls here in OUT Sector, and that they are averaging a 22% higher-than-normal level of focused muscular activity, suggesting they are moving with conscious intent. Perhaps it's just a really good episode of Teela-O tonight and they're all excited, but then again...
Refs: Action_Squad_Alpha, Batclone, Intercepted_Communication_ZedZed/34-Seven-Alpha-6-Six, Internal_Security_Order_3367/4-LAH, Flo-U-RID-3, Halle-B-RTN-4, KorDrill7, Latent_Mutation_Suppressant_Deficiency, LeadLike, Legion_of_Ultraviolence, ToothpasteRebellion, ULTRAVIOLET_Massacre, Unidentified_Contractors, Vats, Vermilion_Developments, VIOLET_Supervisors, Voodoo_Economists, WhirledRON_Energy
Uh, not that I'm still in OUT Sector right now or anything. I could be anywhere.
Footnotes within footnotes! Does your cruelty know NO END?!?1
1I'd be impressed if it wasn't irritating me so much.
Pepe the ProxyBot has brought me his first draft of the Speculative_Ongoing_Subjective_Timeline_of_Events and, on reviewing it, I withdraw my speculation that the Unidentified_Contractors were from the Men. I have no idea who they were.