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The Crucible Campaign: Ministry of the Interior

"That fatal crux: hone vigilance or tempt fate?"-Ministry of Interior Motto

The Ministry of Interior is a resolute but thin human chain against the tide of night. The Ministry is the primary agency in the Commonwealth government charged with the safeguarding and securing of the Commonwealth of Deneb corporate society against threats that fall short of requiring the heavy hammer of military intervention, but are too serious or encompass too many areas outside of the traditional borders of law enforcement agencies. This includes internal insurrections against the Commonwealth government, "apocalyptic" natural and man-made disasters, border and celestime security, counterterrorism and internal intelligence. Its five main organizations are the Astrogation Patrol, the Office of Response, Relief and Recovery (OR3), the Interface Inspectorate, the Elite Antiterrorism Strike Teams (EAST), and Vector Control. The Regency Quarantine Service (RQS) was a semi-independent service that was technically under the control of MoI, but was disbanded after the Crucible War to form the backbone of the Astrogation Patrol.

The Astrogation Patrol

The paramilitary service that has total responsibility for civilian shipping lanes and areas beyond the 100 diameter boundary, and assists local space patrol forces within the limit. The Patrol's job is to identify and neutralize threats to astrogation, maintain and service navigational beacons and buoys, enforce the laws of the Commonwealth in celestime areas, oversee the interdiction of protected worlds within the Commonwealth's boundaries, and educate the public on legal and safety matters in all celestime areas of endeavor. It also enforces interdictions and quarantines of worlds offlimits to public access for any number of reasons. It is required to assist all vessels, communities and persons in distress. It is not tagged with immigration or customs duties, but it does have the power to inspect suspicious ships and their passengers and cargos for other reasons. Given the long list of responsibilities, the service is given wide latitude in search powers regarding targets it suspects of engaging in illegal and unsafe behavior. The Astrogation Patrol operates in peacetime as an arm of the Commonwealth Ministry of Interior, but in wartime or active military theaters it becomes an auxiliary of the Commonwealth Navy, with whom it shares a commonality in equipment and logistics.

Unlike the Navy, which operates from a relatively small number of bases that are deliberately shielded back from the public eye, the Patrol usually has a very visible presence in terms of its bases and ships. Conspicuousness is an important part of deterrence in its view, and it goes out of its way to mingle with commercial and private traffic, both to prevent illegal behavior and to reassure the public of its presence. Many ship classes used by the Patrol are usually shared with the Navy, though with heavy internal modifications, but several of the more common classes are used exclusively by the service as a means of distinguishing its main contingents. It also makes heavier use of fighters and armed small craft than the Navy for local orbital patrols and rapid response missions. In most cases the Patrol operates ships of less than five thousand tons displacement, and few craft above ten thousand tons. This emphasis on smaller craft means that its crews are more self-reliant and more apt to take risks for the public good.

Every system with at least a D class starport and a population of one million rates a Patrol "Harbor" from which a contingent or flotilla of its ships operate. Each Harbor acts as a headquarters for shipping within a 1 AU radius area, as a traffic control and monitoring station, a hangar for ship servicing and staging, and a barracks for all Patrol personnel in its area of responsibility. More heavily populated or travelled systems usually rate several Harbors: one or more staged around the mainworld, and one or more covering heavily visited gas giants and planetoid belts. In addition every system with a naval base includes one additional Harbor attached to the base to reinforce local perimeter security. The smallest Harbors can operate about a dozen assorted ships, plus up to a dozen small craft of various kinds. The larger Harbors can operate as independent starports with extensive berthing and warehousing facilities that can support a small task force. All of these are heavily armed and armored to resist the common laser weapons and missles that would be mounted by civilian craft.

Table of Ranks

Rank Grade Rank Title Command Level
Enlisted Ranks
E-1 Patrol Recruit Entry Level Blue Squid
E-2 Patrol Apprentice Blue Squid
E-3 Patrolman Senior Blue Squid
E-4 Petty Officer 3rd Class Group Supervisor (5 to 10 Men)
E-5 Petty Officer 2nd Class Group Supervisor (10 to 20 Men)
E-6 Petty Officer 1st Class Section Chief (Gunnery, Engineering Etc...)
E-7 Chief Petty Officer Section Chief/Crew Chief on Patrol warships
E-8 Senior Chief Petty Officer Chief NCO on Patrol Harbors
E-9 Master Chief Petty Officer Chief NCO for a System
E-10 Flag Petty Officer Chief NCO for a Subsector
Officer Ranks
O-1 Ensign Section Leader/Small Craft Officer
O-2 Junior Lieutenant Small Craft Commander/Flight Officer
O-3 Lieutenant Small Craft Commander/Flight Leader
O-4 Lieutenant Commander Gunboat or Corvette Commander
O-5 Commander Destroyer or Escort Commander
O-6 Captain Harbor Commander
O-7 Commodore Area Overseer
O-8 System Commodore System Overseer
O-9 District Commodore District Overseer
O-10 Superintendent Subsector Overseer
O-10+ Superintendent of the Patrol Overseer of the Patrol

Office of Response, Relief and Recovery (OR3)

"Yeah, we can do that." - Unofficial motto of the Office of Response, Relief and Recovery

During the Crucible War, both sides made massive use of weapons of mass destruction, or methods of mass extermination. This was more true of the Zhodani Dawn Heralders and their secular allies in the early parts of the war, but Commonwealth forces used them during the last campaigns into Tienspevnekr and Zhodane sectors in an effort to break fanatical holdouts in the cults main strongholds. At least two of these latter occasions saw the use of a Star Trigger built from specifications provided by remnants of the Darrian Special Branch. The amount of damage inflicted in some cases equalled or exceeded the extermination campaigns carried out by Emperor Lucan's forces during the Black War phase of the Imperial Civil War.

The Regency of Deneb had already encountered massive destruction dating from the Collapse during their reexpansion into Corridor Sector. And the aftermath of the Rape of Trin had already resulted in the creation of a permanent corps of disaster response and recovery personnel under the clumsy joint auspices of the Quarantine Service, and the Ministries of Interior/Welfare and Public Information. This organisation was the Office of Response, Relief and Recovery, otherwise known as R3 or R-cubed by its initials. The service was really little more than a clearinghouse and disaster management office in its earlier incarnation. In the aftermath of the Crucible War, the amount of rebuilding that had to be done, both in the former Regency and among newly integrated or occupied territories was far away and above what R3 could have accomplished with its available resources. Much of the difficultly was bureaucratic, as the demise of RQS and the massive priority given to the military and homeworld recovery agencies stifled its initiative. As the military had little interest or capability in recovery operations beyond basic peacekeeping forces, humanitarian relief needed its own separate organization. Because the MoI had its own seat on the new National Defense Council, it could operate independently of military interference and obtain enough resources to succeed at its mission. The office was transferred entirely to the new Ministry of Interior, and was issued personnel on a permanent basis from units that were merely affiliated with it before.

Sangrail units are assigned to every "R" in the offices designation: planetary response teams, civil affair relief units, and long term recovery battalions. Most famous of these are the planetary response teams. PR teams are gung-ho "lifeguards" who are usually the first response to a disaster beyond the military or the Astrogation Patrol, and are meant to abate or contain a crisis right in the bud. These include many technicians, engineers, medics and scientists crosstrained with military or paramilitary methods, who can immediately triage a world or community while under fire or in the thick of the fan. The stereotype of PR units is usually of a beefy guy leaping down a gravity well in a jump pod, hitting the ground running, and breaking out his tool belt and handcomp with a prominent pair of coke-bottle spectacles on his face. Despite this image, the have very good management (simply because their high profile does not permit embarrassment), plausible expectations and a high success rate. Civil affair units handle midterm civil recovery, usually taking over after the end of a military campaign to provide a modicum of order and services to communities as the first step in recovery, and assisting in the redevelopment and repair of local institutions and infrastructure. Every CA unit includes a small group of armed police units, or affiliated military forces, to provide security to a mixture of governmental and medical units. Long term recovery operations are the purview of the "Sangrail" brigades, units that are primarily civil in organisation (though capable of defending themselves) that provide the various resources and skill base to assist in a lasting recovery.

Table of Ranks (R3 only)

Rank Grade Rank Title Command Level
Enlisted Ranks
E-1 Private Recruit
E-2 Private First Class Buck Private
E-3 Corporal Work Team Leader
E-4 Sergeant Squad or Vehicle Leader
E-5 Technical Sergeant Senior Platoon NCO
E-6 Craft Sergeant Senior Company NCO
E-7 Engineering Sergeant Senior Battalion NCO
E-8 Sergeant Major Senior Brigade NCO
Officer Ranks
O-1 2nd Lieutenant Platoon Leader
O-2 1st Lieutenant Company Executive Officer
O-3 Captain Company Commander
O-4 Major Battalion XO or Staff Officer
O-5 Lieutenant Colonel Battalion CO or Regiment XO
O-6 Colonel Regimental Commander
O-7 Brigadier Brigade CO
O-8 Lieutenant Sangrail Regional Commander
O-9 Command Sangrail Subsector Commander
O-10 Sangrail Theater or Regional Commander
O-10+ Sangrail Commandant Sangrail Commander

The Sangrails are named after the legend of Arthur and the Holy Grail. As the story went, Arthur had been stricken by the treachery of his enemies, and the land reflected this corruption by withering and dying. Only when Bedivere brought him the Holy Grail did the corruption pass from both. The name reflected the double duty of the corps: ecological and disaster recovery on one hand, and cultural and political education on the other hand to prevent a recurrence of these disasters. In the aftermath of the Crucible War, the Sangrails were the first in to devastated worlds on the heels of the military. This corps combines specially trained paramilitary units with teams of engineers, scientists, scholars, medics and educators to stabilize stricken communities over the long term. Their purview includes both civil and ecological recovery. Unlike past "world building" missions, the Sangrail units usually adapt Commonwealth political institutions and assumptions to fit the local culture, instead of the other way around. These units are only assigned worlds that have been clearly pacified, and where the military is in the process of beginning a pullout. Frontier Constabulary units are often folded into the Sangrails as part of the postconflict or disaster process for conversion into normal police or planetary military units. These Sangrail units consist of mainly experienced civilian professionals or retired military personnel, though they are extensively trained in languages and cultures, and have basic military skills.

R3 has its own fleet of lightly armed starships, mainly Navy crewed armed transports supplemented by jump-mobile medical or factory units. Because the economics of starflight constrains the amount of resources that can be carried by these ships, Sangrail construction units are trained to make do with whatever resources are available, which has the bonus of accelerating local reconstruction. R3 recruits mainly young college or vocational school graduates in the early twenties, who are physically fit as well as technically proficient in construction, social work and instruction, rescue and triage, transportation, security and even more mundane fields like agriculture and biology.

Interface Inspectorate

The uniformed service assigned to customs and immigration duties. The II tries to staff every starport in the Commonwealth with its inspectors, though in practice this is nearly impossible. Under Commonwealth law, every person, data packet or physical shipment arriving at a starport anywhere in the Commonwealth must face a cursory inspection or have proper documentation. In reality, the borders leak like a sieve. It is impossible for the Commonwealth to adequately staff its starports with sufficient personnel, much less stop or regulate the flow of persons and goods that flow via the Badlands. For all intents and purposes, the Commonwealth's borders are open to anyone that can show proper identification. The Inspectorate therefore acts as a monitoring service, scrutinizing the incoming flow of persons, data and goods to parse out suspicious or destructive behavior, and isolating these persons for further questioning or arrest.

The II relies heavily upon a mixture of personal profiling, psionic "brainprinting" and electronic surveillance to mark and identify persons or things of interest to other agencies. The agency maintains massive databases that try to track and analyze traffic and commerce through everyone of the Commonwealth's starports, but more often than not personal intervention, through a careful check of trade and travel documentation by actual field inspectors and putting a psionic or electophysical "mark" upon a person or shipment of interest, that obtains the best results for detection of smugglers, espionage agents and other persons whose activities are not in the best interest of the Commonwealth. These marks are generally unreproducible electronic signatures surreptitiously added by psions or specialized magnetic resonance equipment to the physical bodies of a person, data package or physical shipment. Everytime these transfer through a port of entry or exit, inspectors log and modify these marks. Specialized emoticoms can read both psionic and EM sigs, allowing normal nonpsions the ability to immediately "read" the travel history of the subject or object. Individual Inspection stations send out updated customs logs daily to central monitoring stations via the X-Web, using the J-lag to get a jump on possible miscreants.

II personnel are generally lightly armed civil servants, an anomaly in the paramilitary confines of MoI. Ranks and authority are based upon civil service (CS-#) codes rather than a pseudomilitary system. Actual port inspectors are uniformed, but the majority of the Inspectorate's personnel are drones working tirelessly in the bowels of its various branch offices. The II is a grey, faceless bureaucracy in every sense of the word, and generally the agency does not have the elan or spirit of the Patrol, the adventurous daring of the Sangrails, or the singleminded purpose of Vector Control, and its morale and political leverage suffer by comparison. Despite suffering in the shadow of its more prestigious and storied neighbors, the II arguably is more important in being the first line of defense and detection of outside threats. More commonly the agency has a reputation for punctilious conduct and excessive bureaucratic zeal. And its staffing relies heavily upon Bwap and traditional Vilani-culture personnel in what is otherwise a horrendously stultifying bureaucratic culture. Despite the fact that the agency and its work has all of the appeal as gazing upon a blanched, warmed over corpse, its effective recruitment practices combined with the otherwise recondite nature of its work, ensure that the agency maintains its professional conduct regardless of its circumstances.

Most Inspection stations are based within 4 parsecs of the Commonwealth border and periphery, within ports that are specifically designated as "Extranational Entrepots" for foreign exchange and travel. But the Inspectorate maintains waystations at all A, B and C-class starports in the Commonwealth, and on every world with a population of greater than 6. Under Commonwealth law the Inspectorate is the main agency responsible for security within starport extrality zones, though in practice the agency merely hires private security forces or contract out to local law enforcement for the actual dirty work. The II maintains at least one, and more commonly two, central data stations in every subsector for collation, tracking and dissemination. The agency has arrest powers in a limited context, though it is the only agency in MoI with an investigative arm, but these are all confined to customs and immigrations. Suspicious persons or activity are handed off by II to Vector Control or the Patrol.

Elite Antiterrorism Strike Teams (EAST)

The EAST teams, otherwise known as the "Constrictors", are elite platoon to battalion sized paramilitary units stationed upon important worlds as crime prevention and intervention units. Generally there exist a platoon sized force for every ten million persons on a world, and high population planets can have several battalions. The majority of these units are usually stationed at or near a downport or highport, as the majority of terrorist actions are generally focused on transportation and communication infrastructure, and because these have the fastest forms of transportation for rapid deployment. They have distinctive uniforms and logos, decorated with sinous patterns, that give the units their names.

EAST teams are a natural Commonwealth development of the Regency's development of lightly armed units meant to replace the vast but diffuse security forces operated by the Imperial aristocracy. Under Imperial law, various levels of the nobility were mashed into the law enforcement bureaucracy, creating a highly balkanized system of competing legal and paramilitary jurisdictions. Rivalries within the nobility often led to nasty infighting between personal security forces and huscarles, which became serious combat during the splintering phase of the Final War. And the wide differences in how nobles exercised their discretion, and conducted their own personal affairs, meant that the quality and honesty of legal protection and recognition of sophont rights varied significantly between jurisdictions, even giving corrupt and tyrannical regimes a patina of Imperial legitamacy. During the early years of the Collapse, Norris chipped away at the military forces of the nobles by consolidating control under the Regency military, but it was not until after the Representational Reforms that control over paramilitary and legal forces was finally wrested away from the aristocracy. The antiterrorist forces that became the first EAST teams were originally a part of the Ministry of Justice, but during the Pre-Crucible Dawn Heralder terrorist campaign these forces were transferred to Interior and were significantly expanded.

These units are generally under the command of a special MoI overseer, who has limited authority and discretion over the deployment of his or her forces. These restrictions are generally to prevent abuse of these units by either Commonwealth or planetary officialdom, and limit corruption. These forces may only deploy in a clear antiterrorism operation, or in support of another agency or planetary government. These units generally deploy against external or interstellar terrorism and piracy, or against insurrections that are aimed against the Commonwealth authorities or government. Intervention into local federation or planetary affairs is limited, and is only actionable under a "surrogate clause" of the Commonwealth's Internal Insurrection Act (or "Riot Act") invoked by the local overseer (who then becomes completely accountable under the Act) or by special dispensation by subsector overseers or other MoI agency heads. In the latter case it is valid for another MoI agency cooperating or acting with the local government to request assistance from the Constrictor garrison, without special oversight. In the event of a major emergency, Constrictors can take virtual control of a planetary government, which is usually the last short step before the declaration of martial law and military intervention.

Constrictor units are mostly shod in light or medium battledress, have lightly armed vehicles and robots for support, and are trained in a variety of urban warfare and fighting and operating in the local planetary environment. They are paramilitary personnel, but use Civil Service grading rather than an approximation of military rank. As the entire "Snake's Den" is a rather miniscule bureaucracy compared to the other security forces, elan and unit cohesion are very high, and this creates an informal attitude regarding authority that is unusual for a uniformed force. As these units are considered to be special operations forces, their recruits are mainly experienced law enforcement or MoI personnel that have passed the physical and professional exams, and undergo specialized training in small unit operations, tactics and a combination of wilderness and street survival skills. Though generally a "hammer" force, their prior skills and experience can allow for them to be used for regular intelligence and police work in a pinch.

Vector Control

As the name suggests, VC was originally a part of the Regency Quarantine Service, in this case the intelligence and long term planning divisions of that defunct agency. These divisions were tasked with identifying current and potential Viral threats during the Quarantine War, and with directing the RQS's resources to deter or destroy them. These agencies identified the Tong of Kaasu long before the opening of the Regency Frontier, though its warnings were ignored by Regency officials, leading to the bloody Tong War a few years later. After the Tong War the divisions were given the task of directing private contractors and the small number of Regency Army units posted to Corridor Sector in cleanup of residual Viral infection in info networks and directed technology leftover on cemetery and former Tong worlds alike.

As the RQS waned as an agency, and the threat of Zhodani terrorist violence and aggression increased, both divisions were suddenly plucked away from Quarantine duties and combined into a new internal intelligence agency. The new agency received enormous new resources, including a significant increase in personnel and training, and was set to work with the new EAST teams against the Dawn Heralders and other terrorists. During the Crucible War its operatives helped eradicate Zhodani Ochtanzie sabotage and terrorism teams, and root out DH sleeper cells from newly liberated worlds. The force was especially instrumental in rooting out DH cells in the former Federation of Arden and Sword Worlds in bloody fighting waged mainly by local militias and subsector security forces. After the war it became the sole centralized service designed to handle internal intel gathering, and eventually became an important tool during the difficult period of postwar infighting that accompanied the creation of the member federations.

In this new role the meaning of the term "vector" was expanded to mean "any and all active agencies or persons whose direction and magnitude make them a threat to the Commonwealth." The impossibility of fulfilling such an encompassing task was readily apparent, and the agency is usually divided into two main directorates: Operations, and Planning and Analysis. Operations are VC field agents, who are mainly tasked with surveillance and infiltration of terrorist groups, extranational criminal syndicates, pirate bands and residual viral threats in Corridor or along the Periphery. These operatives are mainly a mixture of surveillance and undercover personnel. The main task of the agency, as with all MoI agencies, is prevention rather than investigation, and their agents only have circumscribed arrest powers to do mainly with their job. Unlike their intel counterparts in Foreign Affairs, or the gumshoes in CPS, their proximity to Commonwealth government outfitters and the critical nature of their work means that their operatives generally receive the best equipment possible. In paramilitary situations, though, Vector must summon and cooperate with the military, R3, the Patrol, and especially with the Constrictors. Close relations with the EASTs are often reinforced by crosstraining and the significant number of Vector operatives who graduate to Constrictor teams. Vector agents generally have a more intense POV than their colleagues, which has led to frequent infighting in the past. Vector Control officers are plainclothed, and their rank structure is the same civil service system as per the EASTs.

P&A is both a thinktank and a liaison office; its former role requires that it do a great deal of out-of-the-box conceptual thinking in regards to the ever-changing nature of "the enemy" (chaos and disorder). The latter role is primarily for the creation and maintenance of academic and governmental information channels outside of its own efforts: in a departure from the usual groupthink mentality of a government agency, VC has discovered that in the field of intelligence good publicity is fleeting (or buried beneath several layers of official secrecy), but being tagged by They-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed as the designated scapegoat for official mistakes and failures, whether attributed to Vector or not, can leave an indelible stain on their reputation. So it is better to share the credit than be rewarded with all of the blame; plus it improves the quality of info gathered. The majority of their outside info comes primarily from universities and private thinktanks, and especially from the Brotherhood and member world and federation military forces. P&A goes about its business in both passive and active modes: passive data mining of all information received supplemented by active initiatives and funding of private research.