How to Infiltrate a Hostile Alliance - Sins of a Solar Spymaster #5
recently gave a talk as part of href="http://www.eveonline.com/news.asp?a=single&nid=2934&tid=7"
target="_blank">EVE University's 5th birthday
celebration on the topic of how newer players can get involved in
far more easily than other aspects of the game. One of the
questions which kept coming up was a request for rules or guidelines on
how to infiltrate hostile alliances - the basics of how one gets in,
gets the job done and gets out. Similarly, I was asked by a number of
aspiring corporate officers about the basics of the counterintelligence
game - how to find and out hostile agents. While there are no hard and
fast rules on either side of this divide, the example of one of my
now-retired agents and his infiltration of Veritas Immortalis
illustrates a number of lessons about the spy game.
Blitter had no experience in the espionage game. He approached me out
of the blue with a difficult question: Having just purchased a 38m
skillpoint character with a 'clean' corp history (i.e., not affiliated
with an agent's home alliance) capable of piloting capital ships,
should he put the character in Goonfleet - ruining it for any espionage
use in the process - or take a crack at infiltrating our enemies? This
wasn't an easy question to answer. It was October of 2006, at a time
when Goonswarm was living in Red Alliance's home system of C-J6; we had
no conquerable space of our own, and the bare handful of capital ships
our group of determined newbies could muster could barely be called a
'capfleet'. On the other hand, a capital ship character was the
opposite of the stereotype of a goon agent, who our enemies conceived
of as a recently-created newbie alt with no standings or employment
history. There didn't seem to be much harm in giving it a shot, so I
encouraged Blitter to infiltrate one of the Southern Coalition
alliances which were arrayed against us at the time.
As an espionage agency, we were lucky that we had been able to plan in
advance for the war against the Southern Coalition. Months before
Goonswarm moved in to live with Red Alliance in Insmother we began
seeding our future enemies with spies: Veritas Immortalis, Knights of
the Southerncross, Interstellar Starbase Syndicate and Lotka Volterra
had each been thoroughly infiltrated long before we made the
cross-galaxy journey from our motherland in Syndicate to Insmother.
Blitter acquired his capital agent at just the right time - we were
about to try to seize Scalding Pass from Veritas Immortalis, the first
target in what would rapidly develop into the first Great War.
When Blitter approached Veritas, he wasn't entirely sure how to go
about it. The invasion of Scalding Pass had just begun; paranoia was
rampant. In the end, he opted for complete openness: he made a post on
Veritas' forum in their recruitment section, mentioned that he owned an
Archon carrier, had an incredible amount of skillpoints, and was
willing to help out with logistics in the fight against the goon
hordes. The response was immediate and positive; within a day, Blitter
was in Dragons of Redemption, one of the primary corporations in
Veritas. At the time we were both surprised by how quickly Veritas
jumped on him, but in hindsight it makes sense: he was offering them
exactly what they would want in an ideal recruit, and it seemed
impossible to Veritas that a capital pilot could be a GIA agent. The
best way to get into a hostile organization is to keep your story
simple and tell people what they want to hear. No convoluted
explanation or fancy stories needed: take the direct approach.
What could Veritas have done differently? First, they should have held
their potential capital recruit to a higher standard of scrutiny.
Capital pilots are privy to far more strategic information than the
regular membership, so you must be especially certain they are not
spies. They could have checked his employment history and contacted the
CEOs or known members of his prior corporations for references; had
they done this, they may have found that the character had been sold,
and that the 'Lenutza' applying to Veritas was not the same 'Lenutza'
as before. They could have investigated the character sales section of
the Eve-Online forums looking for evidence of a potential sale. At the
very least, they could have resisted the urge to believe what they
wanted to believe, and held Blitter in a 'trial period' of sorts where
his access and information had been limited. But, they didn't.
Once inside Dragons of Redemption, Blitter became every CEO's dream
carrier pilot. This was during the days where capital ships were rare,
Rorquals and Jump Freighters did not exist, and carriers were the
primary logistics engine of conquerable space, moving critical fuel,
strontium and ships from the empire markets into deep 0.0 without risk.
None of this ferrying is particularly fun, and carrier pilots were not
known for being eager to help out with this sort of alliance-level
drudgery; Blitter ingratiated himself almost immediately by helping
with this. Beyond this, he was nice to his new corpmates, witty, and
sociable. An agent who is considered a funny, friendly member of the
team isn't going to be suspected of being a spy; in fact, if an agent
is good enough at making friends, anyone who accuses him of espionage
may find themselves under suspicion. By doing the critical yet boring
carrier work, Blitter quickly gained the trust and respect of the
Veritas leadership. Inside of five days that trust would be betrayed.
The system was JLO-Z3, one of Veritas' five stations in Scalding Pass.
Blitter and seven other carrier pilots were inside a POS staging for a
capital operation when the first major opportunity to act against
Veritas presented itself. Contacting me via instant messenger, Blitter
incredulously related the situation: the CEO of one of the Veritas
member corporations, Doctor Einstein of Grettistak, was planning on
ejecting from his Chimera-class carrier and warping between the other
towers in the JLO system to check on their fuel levels. Carriers were
too clumsy to warp around in this way, and Dr. Einstein had announced
his plan over teamspeak. The teamspeak channel only had eight people in
it, including Blitter; the tower the carriers were staging at had a
password set to prevent any hostiles from gaining access, but each of
them had the password. If it could be arranged properly, Blitter held
the key to a capital-level Grand Theft Spaceship.
We scrambled to find a pilot who could fly a Chimera who was online at
the time, without giving away the nature of what we were doing to any
possible Veritas agents. Luck was with us; we got a pilot and had him
log off in a pod in a system one jump from JLO-Z3. While Blitter kept
an eye on Dr. Einstein's empty carrier from his own Archon, he kept the
Veritas pilots on teamspeak occupied with idle chatter - using his
charisma to reduce their awareness level while building up trust. A
Swarm covert ops pilot got into JLO-Z3 and began carefully setting up a
warp-in on the tower with the staged carriers; if it was arranged
properly, the pod with the goon Chimera pilot could log on, jump into
JLO and immediately warp to the covops, placing him just within range
of the empty capital ship. If the warp in was set up improperly, or if
the Veritas crew noticed that something was amiss, they could change
the password as soon as the goon pod showed up and ruin the whole plan.
Tension increased as everything was in readiness; Dr. Einstein remained
out of pocket, clueless. Go time: Pod logs on. Pod joins gang with the
Covops. Pod jumps into JLO-Z3, hits warp, enters the password Blitter
gave him while mid-warp: bam, the pod lands within 10 kilometers of the
unpiloted carrier. It has to slowboat to get within six klicks of the
Chimera to board it; with nail-biting slowness it approached. Blitter
reports that the Veritas pilots have caught on: "Hey, there's a pod in
It was too late. The Swarm pilot had reached the Chimera and boarded
it, cackled and then warped away. A huge win for an alliance as lacking
in capital ships as Goonswarm; an embarrassing loss for Veritas, who
had fewer than ten carriers themselves. We judged it a worthwhile 'win'
to burn Blitter's cover over, and waited for the inevitable. There were
only eight pilots who knew the password to the Veritas tower; one of
whom had his carrier stolen, so that left a list of seven suspects,
Blitter included. A quick background check would have noted that
Blitter had only been in Veritas for five days; compared to the
veterans in the tower with him, he was the most obvious spy. Whenever
you find a hostile espionage action and you want to try to catch a spy,
the first thing to do is write down the names of everyone involved and
the time it occurred; this is the 'timestamp' and even if no
conclusions can be immediately drawn from this, it can be pieced
together with other timestamps to catch a hostile agent. This was not
done. Blitter remained.
We knew that it would only be a matter of time before
Veritas’ members realized the error of their ways did their
homework and caught Blitter out. Even though it wasn't official yet,
his cover was blown; when this happens, the only sensible thing to do
is to cause as much damage and havoc as you can, sow mistrust and hope
to go out with a bang. The opportunity came the next day, as Veritas
began evacuating from JLO; the system had been invaded the night of the
carrier theft, and a general pull-out was called to safer areas of
Veritas space. Blitter volunteered to help with his carrier agent, and
his seemingly selfless offer was gladly accepted.
The evacuation was an arduous process and accomplished entirely through
the use of carriers, because subcapitals couldn't make it through the
Swarm blockade of the system. Several other Veritas carrier
pilots helped out, and as a group Blitter and his companions would jump
between JLO and 28Y and back, all night, until every personal and
alliance asset in JLO had been cleared to safety. Pilots would trade
Blitter their ships and items and in theory he would deliver them back
in 28Y. In reality, Blitter was taking the items and putting them on
escrow (the primitive precursor to the contract system) to himself so
it looked as if the items were not being stored in his hangar. Each
time, Blitter would undock from JLO and jump to 28Y with an empty cargo
hold to keep up appearances. Once in 28Y, he used GIA funds to fully
buy up Veritas's market in 28Y, which was a factory hub, and then bring
this war materiel to JLO to be sold to the Swarm once JLO fell. As the
night wore on, the other Veritas carrier pilots tired and went to
sleep, leaving the rest of the work for the 'loyal' and 'tireless'
Blitter. When the evacuation was at last complete, it was time for the
Lenutza > Well
folks, have some bad news. I'm actually a goon
spy. I was responsible for the carrier theft yesterday and as for the
20 or so carrier jumps out of JLO- I just did
Lenutza > Well, all of those POS fittings are going to
Goonfleet. The Mittani sends his regards. So long and thanks for, well,
Kirby Khariton > :o
Nari Teko > wtf
General Dynasty > holy fuck
Lenutza > the 31 large arty batteries and month's worth of POS
fuel especially will help.
Kraydon > hows he get his hands on all those pos fittings
Lewisc > just been handed to him to jump out i think
Kraydon > er, er wtf
Chi Ana > ouch
Meteorus > The scumbags have to resort to underhand tactics they
cant win a fair fight.
Jokull > why the fuck does someone get his hands on that kind of
stuff after being in corp 8 day´s ????????????
Lewisc > iwas thinking that too
huxorator > ask dorm.
Lewisc > warfare of faggotry
Kraydon > exactly why i asked the question i asked in the first
Lewisc > typical goon shite
Lewisc > dirty underhanded
Lenutza > fofo, etc etc
Anomaly21 > That's WHY YOU DON"T RECRUIT DURING WAR TIMES....
huxorator > lenutza did you do that before, I mean are you
experienced in spy stuff?
Alpha Dread > lenu is a piece of shit
Chi Ana > tbh someone should prolly have checked his employment
Anomaly21 > might have been a good idea
Jah'Ret Khan > He may ahve stolen all that shit, but he's still
a fat goon with a neck beard. THe morale victory is to -V-!
Anomaly21 > and you know like not recruiting people during war
Meteorus > Fair point
Chi Ana > take heart v spying is a sign of desperate peeps
The impact on the Veritas morale was catastrophic. Not only had they
lost a system in JLO, but their compromised evacuation to 28Y had
compounded the loss. The incident severely shook the confidence of the
Veritas members in their leadership; why, it was asked, was a pilot who
had only been in the alliance for eight days been given so much control
and responsibility? Why was he not caught and booted after the
incredibly obvious theft of Dr. Einstein's Chimera? Because the
leadership could not be trusted to provide effective
counterintelligence, an atmosphere of 'witch-hunting' developed, where
individual pilots would investigate and accuse each other of being
hostile spies. Usually the victims of such a witch-hunt are unpopular
but innocent; one corporation in Veritas summarily kicked any pilot who
had been with that corporation for less than three months in hopes that
this would clear out GIA spies; none of those booted were actually
working for us. Bitterness soared and fleet participation plummeted. In
the end of the campaign for Scalding Pass, the greatest defenders of
the region were Veritas' neighboring ally, Lotka Volterra, not Veritas
It didn't take a convoluted cover story for Blitter to achieve all
this: just a bit of forthright lying and enough charisma to be
likeable, along with a willingness to work for the cause of his target
alliance above and beyond what a regular member did. On Veritas' part,
it wouldn't have taken anything fancy to catch our agent: a basic
background check, investigation of references, or - in the aftermath of
the carrier theft - a modicum of common sense. It might cause chaos and
carnage, but the espionage game is best when it's uncomplicated.
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