Vital Background Information

April 1941- Vichy France.

You are, you are assured, somewhere over France. But whereabouts, your guess is as good as anyone’s. Beyond the small windows of the Lockheed Hudson all you can make out is darkness, and one patch of darkness looks like any other. Suddenly that darkness is broken by five patches of light that seem to burst into life. Five fires that should outline the drop zone. Five fires that show you are expected, and that friends wait below.

The converted bomber passes over the fires, then turns back.

“Green light, good luck chaps”

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Vital Background Information

Postby Priest » Fri Aug 21, 2015 12:12 pm

Special Operations Executive (SOE)


SOE was formed in July 1940, at a time when Britain was threatened with imminent invasion. The situation was beyond desperate; the army had lost most of its heavy equipment in France and was inadequate for the task of resisting invasion, and the navy could only promise to delay one for a time. Everything hung on the Battle of Britain, in which an overmatched RAF struggled against heavy odds.

Where MI6 preferred to quietly obtain information which could be acted upon by the regular armed forces when directed, SOE was charged with causing as much mayhem as possible. This meant at times working with questionable allies such as Bolshevik or Communist groups, of which the British government officially disapproved. As far as SOE was concerned, it does not matter if the enemy of my enemy is my friend or not, so long as he is causing trouble for the other side.

Wherever possible, recruits were sought who were either displaced natives of the target region, descendants of natives, or at least had connections with the target Country. Fluency in a language could possibly be mastered, but the ideal operative had the sort of local knowledge that would enable him or her to not seem out of place even if questioned.

Many SOE operatives were members of the target Country’s armed forces who had escaped capture and joined free forces on the Allied side, though this was mainly the case with northern Europe and Scandinavia. Personnel from Balkan countries were less commonly available, and in any case the situation was different there. France and to some extent Norway were controlled by Nazi Germany but relatively peaceable; regions such as Yugoslavia were battlegrounds for overt guerrilla forces. Thus an agent destined for France might have to live as a citizen; one operating in Yugoslavia could be housed at a guerrilla camp and not have to pass for anything other than a British agent.

SOE was notable for recruiting anyone with the requisite skills and aptitudes, regardless of background and possible previous misdeeds. Criminals were a useful source of certain skills, while a poor record in the military, perhaps even including a court martial, did not necessarily mean that the individual could not make an excellent SOE agent.

SOE operatives worked, where possible, in conjunction with local resistance forces though an agent or team of agents could at times undertake a mission alone. SOE agents might be assigned as liaison for resistance or guerrilla groups, relaying information home via radio or requesting support as needed, usually in the form of supplies and weapons parachuted into their area of operations. Often one SOE group would pass information back, to be acted upon by another.

Sabotage was a major activity of the SOE, another assassination. Theft of important documentation, and the kidnap of personnel of value to the enemy.

Overall, SOE operated very much on faith. That is, most of the actions its operatives undertook were of relatively small importance in the grand scheme of things. However, sufficient disruption would tie down large numbers of
Axis troops, undermine morale, show occupied countries that it was worth resisting, and cause a modest but significant drain on resources. In the bleakest days of the war, faith that by doing enough little things the Axis might be undermined and ultimately halted was the only light to be seen during a very dark night indeed. (Taken from World War Cthulhu, Cubicle 7)
We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are.
- Anais Nin
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Re: Vital Background Information

Postby Priest » Fri Aug 21, 2015 12:26 pm

Network N


Image


There is a certain side street in London, near Trafalgar Square, that few people ever walk down. On that road there is a gloomy building, with a closed bookshop on street level and offices on the floors above. Knock on the door beside the bookshop, and you may be admitted into the most secret of sanctums. Ascend the creaking stairs – stepping over the bundles of yellowed newspapers collected from all over the Empire, and the teetering piles of mouldy books – and you find yourself in a little waiting room, with tattered yellow-cushioned chairs and a flickering gas lamp that makes the shadows dance.

The sound of typewriters and low voices can be heard through one door, but you wait for the other door to open – the door to N’s office.

On rare occasions, you’ve bumped into other clandestine visitors. Names are never exchanged, of course, so you think of them by whimsical codenames. The Duffer Old Gent, moustaches flaring like a walrus. The Clergyman, pale and nervous, clutching a leather-bound book to his chest. The Smoking Girl; the smell of her acrid French cigarettes filling the room even after she departed. The
Sailor, with his tattooed forearms. The Foreign Prince, swarthy, slender and sinister. What business these people have with N you cannot guess.

Then comes the command, “Come forth!”, and you obey. N awaits you. You are struck, as always, by the contrast between the desk and the rest of the room. The desk is clear, empty, save for the same few necessities. Two telephones – one of which, you suspect, is a direct line to some exalted echelon of government.
A pen and inkwell. A single folder of documents that contains all you need to know. And a strange paperweight, an idol of clay that squats in the corner of the desk. It seems oddly heavy for its size, on the rare occasions he has to move it. The rest of the desk is pristine.

Behind and around the desk, though, is a chaos of paper and books. Files overflow their boxes, maps and reports lie scattered recklessly, and the bookshelves groan under the weight. Directly behind N’s desk is a locked cabinet containing those books that require special ‘handling’. The Necronomicon, requisitioned from the British Library for the duration of the war. Nameless Cults, liberated from the personal collection of an English aristocrat who died mysteriously. De Vermiis Mysteriis – stained with some green ichor. Other books come from N’s personal library. The room reflects its occupant. A storehouse of knowledge, eccentrically catalogued, perhaps shot through madness, but utterly focussed and precise when it comes to the matter at hand.

N, then. Younger than you might expect, for a man of such influence. Well dressed, but unaware of it – you suspect that he has a valet who takes care of such mundane matters, and that N would hardly notice if he were dressed in sackcloth and ashes. From his curious mode of speech and slight lingering tan, you guess that he grew up overseas, under the hot sun of India or Egypt or Palestine.

Highly-strung, possessed of a frayed, nervous energy. From the pronounced limp and the scars on his lame left hand, you do not need to guess that he suffered some terrible injury in the past, but he is not a military man. He is ascetic. You’ve never seen him drink, or smoke, or to have any vices at all beyond the amphetamine pills he uses to avoid sleep.

“I don’t care to dream”, he said once, and that was the only glimpse he ever gave into whatever drove him to this place.

N occupies a curious niche within the British establishment. From what you have gathered, he operated a private intelligence network of sorts before the war, composed of academics, clergymen, occultists and the like, and was able to provide the government with vital information about the Nazi Abwehr and their operations long before the official intelligence departments were able to do so.

Now, N consults with the Special Operations Executive, adding his expertise to their mission of sowing chaos across the path of the Nazi advance. He’s a regular visitor to planning meetings at SOE headquarters on Baker Street – and Downing Street too, from time to time.

A well-connected academic, a monkish eccentric who knows too much for his own good, a dilettante in the Great Game – that is how the government sees N.

You’ve seen another of his masks. You see it again as he passes you the folder. Inside, there are maps, typewritten documents… and a photograph. You turn it face down as soon as you glimpse what it depicts. Your hands shake.

“There’s a lair marked on the map. The RAF intends to bomb the rubber factory here, three miles to the east. I need you to make sure they drop their bombs early. Wipe everything out.”

There’s an ophidian coldness to the man, an inhumanity that terrifies you. The bonds of morality and sanity mean nothing to him. You suspect that you mean nothing to him beyond your immediate value as a tool, a weapon.

His intellect – vast, cool, and unsympathetic – regards you like an insect pinned to a slide. There’s no backing out now. You know that he’s used bribery, blackmail, veiled threats to get his way.
They found the Duffer Old Gent in an alley in Whitechapel, his throat cut. You’ve heard the Sailor’s in prison now, on suspicion of being a German spy. What else would N do to prosecute his private war?

“It must be done”, he says. You have your orders. You depart, stumbling down the cramped stairs with the folder of horrors. Later, you memorise it all, then burn it all, and as the flames consume the photo you imagine the incendiaries tumbling from heaven, burning the thing to ash. It must be done, no matter what compromises or sacrifices are needed to accomplish the mission. N’s right, damn him.

As the flames in the grate die down, you try to sleep, but it does not come. You don’t care to dream anymore, either. (World War Cthulhu, Cubicle 7)

Welcome to the other War, gentlemen!
We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are.
- Anais Nin
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