Friday Lore Post: The Imperial Intelligence Ministry

Many have wondered how it is that the Imperial sovereign has managed to hold together such a huge empire for so long. The answer is complex but a large part of that answer is the Imperial Intelligence Ministry, a mysterious network of spies, informants, assassins and all manner of other people who lurk in shadows as a matter of habit. These intelligence agents know everything that happens in the Empire, and much of what happens outside of it, and report back to the sovereign so as to maintain their total control over the Empire and all things within it.

The Intelligence Ministry, like all Imperial ministries, is headed by a member of the sovereign Demna family, generally a first cousin or aunt or uncle of the sitting ruler. This position is appointed for life or until the sovereign sees fit to appoint someone else, and it is the responsibility of the intelligence minister to collate and report all relevant intelligence to the sovereign. Unlike other Imperial ministers, the intelligence minister’s identity is kept a close secret, known only to the sovereign and their heir. Reportedly even the intelligence minister’s spouse and/or children are not permitted to know what the minister does for the sovereign, though whether this level of strict secrecy is maintained in reality is unknown.

The Intelligence Ministry’s most obvious mandate is to maintain the Empire’s spy network. Their spies are highly trained and operate both within and outside of the Empire, sending messages through the network that all end up with the intelligence minister. This network is used both to safeguard the internal security of the Empire—where everyone knows the Intelligence Ministry could be listening in at any time—and also to keep the Empire aware of important events in other nations, either to facilitate colonialization or to plan for future conflict. There is no available estimate for how many spies the Intelligence Ministry employs, but there are presumed to be Imperial spies in or adjacent to all major political space globally.

Imperial spies by and large have no families or attachments and can and will be killed if they become a liability to the Intelligence Ministry. Defections are very rare and defections that don’t end in the defector being assassinated within the year are even rarer. The Intelligence Ministry recruits most of its spies as children or even babies, taking in orphans or children that have been given up, or, more often, buying enslaved infants. These infants grow up the literal property of the Intelligence Ministry, with no expectation of anything other than service to the Empire.

Assassinations are also performed through the Intelligence Ministry. Some of their operatives are trained in assassination, and even among people who know who and where the operatives are, most of them are said not to know which ones are trained to kill at a moment’s notice. The majority of assassinations conducted by the Intelligence Ministry are carried out within the Empire and the targets are political dissidents, enemies of the sovereign, and other malcontents. The Intelligence Ministry works autonomously from other law enforcement institutions in Aergyre in order to maintain Imperial law and order when guardsmen or armies cannot. Rumours that the Intelligence Ministry and the Empty Moon Guild of Assassins has been fighting an undercover cold war in Dolovai for years are unable to be substantiated.

The Intelligence Ministry dispatches agents attached to every army and governor, whose only job is to deliver reports back to the Ministry. Why these operatives are separate from the secret operatives who also operate attached to political figures in the Empire is unknown, though it seems the duplication of information is a means of verifying its accuracy. Many officials may also know they have an attaché from the Intelligence Ministry and therefore assume nobody else is spying on them, which has resulted in a number of governors being caught committing treasonous acts, including the failed Rusk Rebellion, when the governor of Rusk Province distracted his intelligence attaché with a false report of a riot in order to allow his forces to overwhelm the military unit stationed nearby. This failed because the governor did not realize that his bedslave was also an Intelligence Ministry operative.

The Intelligence Ministry also oversees all books and other written material in the Empire. They obtain copies of anything that has been written and disseminated and review them for what they term “Imperial standards of accuracy,” which many argue is a not particularly complex code to say they censor anything that doesn’t seem patriotic enough. They also perform this service for plays and operas, music, and the curricula for every school in the Empire, including those used in all Imperial enclaves. In recent years, the Intelligence Ministry has been reportedly attempting to create a Bureau of Languages in order to create a comprehensive dictionary of Gronnde and of all other languages known to the Empire, which one assumes will lead to them claiming the authority to decide which words should and should not exist.

In reality, the Intelligence Ministry’s power is likely not as sweeping and omnipotent as it appears to be. It is an organization comprised of people, and people cannot be everywhere at once. No doubt the Intelligence Ministry does supervise and spy on most things that happen in the Empire and without, but their claim that they hear literally everything is unfounded, and given that there have been six assassination attempts on the current sovereign that made it to the attack phase in the last decade, it is clear that some things do slip by them. Of course, it is worth pointing out that nobody is more poised to slip things past the Intelligence Ministry than the person who runs it, and though one assumes there are checks on the power of this unknown individual, that cannot be confirmed.

Addendum: Before first printing of this atlas, the author received a request from an Intelligence Ministry operative to remove or alter several elements of this entry. This request was denied, likely preventing the legal publication of this atlas intact in Aergyre.

From “The Definitive Atlas of the World, Vol. 3: Institutions and Organizations,” by Pascal Tiberius Naoton Quimbell Haeverine anNatalie, published in White Cape in DN 1997 with thanks from the author to his sibling, who asked their name not to be printed, for their assistance in researching this section.

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