How I Learned to Stop Worrying
Unobtrusive — that is the standard operating procedure for any sentinel. Firewall’s continued success relies on its secrecy. The larger the footprint it leaves during a given mission the easier it is for other organizations to monitor Firewall’s efforts or even attempt to infiltrate the group. To keep a low profile, Firewall consistently works to acquire allies with influence in other organizations, using those groups as a front for their activities when possible. Many of these “allies” are misled regarding Firewall’s intentions and true purpose. Many operations are conducted remotely (via hacking instead of sending in sentinels) or via uninformed freelancers. When it is necessary to activate sentinels, small group infiltrations are preferred, using the minimum number of personnel necessary to achieve the mission goals.
Firewall also frequently infiltrates and places long-term moles within other organizations in order to exploit their assets, freeing it from having to deploy its own resources. Sentinels are sometimes recruited for this very purpose, so they may take advantage of their non-Firewall positions and secretly access another group’s resources or set them aside for Firewall’s future use. For example, a department head at Starware may have spent years sealing a deal to ship crucial spacecraft parts to the isolationist Jovian Junta. The lucrative deal brings huge prestige, a job promotion, and a salary increase, all accomplishments the department head strives for in their regular life. Yet this particular department head is a long-standing sentinel and this deal is a fantastic new opening for Firewall. Not only can the department head siphon off a thin stream of revenue for Firewall use (hidden thoroughly by vectors), but they’re also in a position to smuggle sentinels into (or out of) the Jovian Junta habitats, a job usually extremely difficult to accomplish. The risks to such activities—and the consequences of losing a critically placed sentinel — mean that this opportunity is reserved for important operations and dire threats.
In an attempt to be prepared for rapidly developing situations, Firewall places caches of supplies on numerous habitats and worlds, available to sentinels as needed. The composition and availability of these caches to sentinels depends wholly on the situation and on the decisions of the router(s) involved. These caches can hold weapons, armor, nanofabricators, archived information, or even relics stashed from previous missions until Firewall decides what to do with them. Large habitats may even be home to several caches, with routers only revealing the ones with heavy firepower when absolutely needed. Some caches may be so dangerous, however, that once a mission is complete, a router will authorize the cortical stack destruction of all sentinels involved, resleeving them to a backup that has no knowledge of the cache’s existence.
As noted under erasure squads, Firewall will not hesitate to react with swift and unequivocal force if an unobtrusive approach has failed and the danger reaches a certain threat level. What constitutes a “threat threshold” is actually calculated by specialized risk assessment software and may change from mission to mission according to other external factors. If the situation is dangerous enough and the scale of the consequences of failure sufficiently large, a Promethean will be tapped to calculate the threat level and decide when it is time to tactically withdraw and “thermally cleanse.”