by Tim Dedopulos
To explain my personal vision of the different SLA enforcement bodies, I've first got to explain one or two peculiarities in my vision of the SLA corporate structure, so I hope you'll all bear with me.
Like any machiavellian governmental system, I see SLA having several fairly discrete tiers of power, each tier having its own cabals and jyhads (to use a couple of funky words with little provocation). At the top is Slayer, assisted and advised as appropriate by his little coterie of thugs, Teeth, Taarnish, Intruder and Senti - but particularly the good Preceptor. These are the people who don't need an appointment, who hold SCL1 and know the Truth.
The first real tier of power lies beneath these legends, with the important departmental heads and other movers and shakers; Matt Cradle, Jacob Vayde, Alexander Xavier, Ernest Strand, Max Hagen and others. These are people who get to talk to Slayer in person, if it's been a particularly bad week. Like any circle of councillors, they are not friendly with each other, and spend a lot of time trying to undermine each other while they jockey for position - a bit like a game of Vampire: The Masquerade, in fact. I classify these people as Illuminati - the people behind the scenes, making the day-to-day decisions. Only when stuff gets fucked up does Slayer take much notice. This tier includes the aides of each of the major players; even if the aides have no actual influence per se, everyone needs advisors. They have mighty SCLs, but they don't actually know the truth.
Beneath them are the influential - lesser department heads, important subordinates, the Deans of the universities, governers of cities, Lord Shahantian, major media figures, brilliant scientists, and so on. These are the great and the good, the highest tier to which any PC could ever aspire. They would not ever have contact with Head Office, unless Slayer summoned them.
The last rank of corporate influence is made up of everyone else with any faint sniff of power; middle managers, foremen, minor celebs, news editors, professors and head researchers, etc etc etc. These are the insignificants. They are the tier with which the vast majority of game-to- game plotting will take place.
So, in order of decreasing influence, we have legends, illuminati, influentials, and insignificants.
The different security forces have similar roles, but with different mandates, and they tend to work at cross-purposes.
I'll start from the bottom this time, and work up, trying to compare the different forces to real equivalents.
Monarchs are store guards and mall security; little people with nothing to say who are nevertheless determined to say it as loudly as possible. They're controlled by anyone and everyone.
Shiver units & SCAFs are county police. They deal with the community, keep it doing more or less what it is supposed to, and make sure that the good citizens feel that they are being protected on a day to day basis. Like most fictional local police, they're corrupt, stupid, unhelpful, unsympathetic, and they chew baccy all day long - YeeHaw! They are at the beck and call of the Insignificant power tier.
Ops are the FBI, but gone freelance. They're there to take care of the big things that we all know and love, like riots, subversives, killers and the like. They're the meat and bones of society's defense structure, not SLA's. They too are at the beck and call of the Insignificant power tier, even if they don't much like the fact.
Cloak Division is the CIA. They're there to take on the jobs that require a degree of central coordination, need sensitive handling, or are supposed to be kept secret. Also, like the CIA, they are in charge of operations which the "unenlightened" man on the street might consider detrimental to the public at large - the SLA equivalent of running drugs to the Contras, for example. Everyone knows they're sneaky and nasty, and they extend their mandate. Although they are represented in the Illuminati, they work with the Influential. Their mandate is very broad indeed.
Dispersal Shivers are the national guard - they are there to maintain peace and order in the face of severe public disturbance. The Influential have a degree of control over them - that is the tier they are responsible to, in effect - but their mandate is narrow: keep the public in their place.
Enforcer Shivers are more like a Black Ops hit squad. When someone or something everyday needs to be destroyed in the interests of the greater good, they get the job. They answer to the Illuminati, and don't really possess personalities. Think of them as drones.
Internal Affairs are the NSA. In _theory_, they're supposed to make sure everyone is a good, loyal little citizen. In practise, they take care of Black projects, internal surveillance operations, monitoring and control of destabilising groups, and jobs which are not so much detrimental to the man on the street as fatal to him. They are more or less controlled by the Illuminati. They're secret in the same sort of way as MI6 is - It doesnt exist, but everyone knows where their offices are anyway.
Dark Finders are field agents; they are, in effect, to Cloak and IA investigators as the Ops are to the Shivers - the ones who get it done. They're the being in the field who gets to do what the planners and intelligence agents have decided is necessary. They are also responsible for sensitive assassinations; the Enforcers are not used where secrecy is required. Some Dark-Finders are recruited and bio-enhanced from other services, while others are vatgrown. For real emergencies, there are rumours of a Darkfinder vatgrown variant that stands some 15-20 feet tall. Either way, part of the conditioning involves psychological manipulation to ensure loyalty and obedience.
The Ebon Guard are little-mentioned, but they're the special Ebb-using forces. Their deathsuit helmets are modified to ensure SLA loyalty and obediance, and they are highly enhanced beings. This makes them the Ebb equivalent of Darkfinders. In theory, they too are field agents for Cloak and Internal Affairs, but the nature of modifications made tends to divide the two forces into the Karma - Dark Lament rivalry. They are _not_ Necanthrope - Neccies in the Intelligence community work for Cloak, IA, Stigmartyr or the Black Chapter only - but their powers, augmented by their training and special kit, are Necanthrope grade. They report to Teeth, but are at the disposal of the Illuminati. They do not know the Truth.
Stigmartyr are more like the British military's special intelligence taskforce code-named SI-8. They're so secret that almost no-one has ever heard of them, and those that have don't know what it's all about. Even within the Illuminati, information about them is very scarce indeed. They report directly to Teeth, and hold a James Bond style 000 rating - they can kill, destroy or sieze anything they want to at any time without any shred of proof whatsoever, and don't even have to give a reason. All Stigmartyr agents know the Truth; all SLA-loyal individuals who know the Truth - apart from the Legends - are Stigmartyr agents, or dead. There is no middle ground. Stigmartyr's sole concern is to keep even the slightest hint of the Truth suppressed.
Finally, The Black Chapter are Slayer's private force. Their mandate is to do whatever Slayer wants them to do. They are all fanatically loyal and ludicrously dangerous, but whether they actually have minds or not is open to question. They won't talk to anyone else who isn't Slayer, let alone take orders from them.
As far as I remember, all the above is bona fide non-classified truth.