Dirty Tricks

By Moe Lane


You think that demons are the experts at character assassination? Please: those guys have no inter-Word cohesion. Sure, you can get individual experts, and certain demonic organizations are very good, in a limited arena, but if you want breadth and flexibility, go talk to the Host.

To be fair, it's only been in the last century or so that Heaven started using their inherent advantages. Like a lot of other nastily fun activities, it was all due to Marc's gradual assumption of Heaven's intelligence agencies: his Collators uncover a lot of useful scraps of information in the course of their duties. Amass enough of them about someone, and a particularly bright celestial and/or blessed soul can gather enough evidence of secret Hellsworn status (or at least general nastiness) to justify a investigation.

Once that happens, the Adjustment Department comes out to play.

The Adjustment Department is mostly comprised of Servitors of Trade, Protection and Revelation, but anyone willing to participate (and able to get permission to do so from their Archangel) is welcome. Mercurians are always welcome for their insights into human psychology (although few if any can actually actively participate), Kyriotates usually end up performing preliminary investigations - or inciting the obligatory angry mob afterwards - and Elohim/Malakim make excellent bait (albeit for completely different reasons). Other Choirs are less represented, but not unknown.

The Department's targets are mostly Hellsworn and/or demons who have been found out without - and this is the important part - actually realizing that they have been found out. Suitable candidates are then s u b jected to a very careful and quiet investigation of his or her particular weaknesses, with special emphasis on ferreting out any secret perversions or antisocial behaviors. Once one has been found (or evidence of same has been faked), a scenario to exploit it is crafted with loving care. After that, all that remains to place the temptation in the target's path while making sure that there's a camera crew in the vicinity.

Such a scenario usually avoids the death of the target, at least directly. The problem is that simply killing someone may not actually solve a particular problem: there's always someone ready to take the tragically-slain leader's place. Thoroughly smearing a person's reputation, on the other hand, will also neutralize a target's influence - and the muck can often be counted upon to splatter onto the target's public causes. More than one would-be political movement has been shut down cold before it starts by a judicious Adjustment.

It didn't take long for Heaven to realize that Hell would always kill a servant with a blown cover, if the alternative was to let the Host destroy his or her reputation. Adjustment missions thus tend to combine very stealthy preparations with a fairly dramatic, and public, revelation. There are many in the Host that criticize the Adjustment Department work for just this reason: the argument that this sort of thing just feeds Nybbas' Word has a lot of force behind it. The Department's stock response to this is that this sort of thing also encourages the rest of Hell to think that the Media would cheerfully let them go down in flames if it would mean better ratings, thus eroding demonic trust levels even further. The essential Truth of this position has kept the Department a going concern for now.

What makes all of this truly obnoxious is the fact that there are very few corporeal situations that will discommode a 'victim' who has a backup body and a strong dose of righteous indignation. The actual level of outrageousness (in every sense of the word) of a typical Adjustment should be carefully tailored to fit the campaign...


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