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“I welcome you and all the other initiates today to the one millionth introductory orientation for Universal Secret Operations Operatives. I am your Universal Secret Operations Orientator. You are among the chosen few. You are the elect who have the innate intelligence, who have developed the fortitude, and who now possess or will soon possess the enhanced skills to do the job. You will be a terrific asset to USO. I salute you.”
“As you are no doubt by now fully aware, the purpose of USO is limited strictly to investigations of violation of law. Operatives are not concerned with political or public opinion. We are concerned, and only concerned, with conduct and then only such conduct as is forbidden by the laws of the Galaxy. Secret operations is dangerous work, very dangerous work of vital importance to the security of our social structures and hallowed traditions of our Galaxy. We thank you in advance for the difficult and dangerous work you will soon be doing to undercover and thwart violence and mayhem. You will suss out simple plots for site-specific violence and uncover complex plans to wreak insane chaos across the Galaxy. The work we do will prevent entropic declines into disorder and pandemonium. We at USO will not tolerate a madhouse Galaxy. Understood? Questions? None? Good. You will keep our institutions safe and secure. Others will sleep well at night because you will spy through the nights. They will walk with confidence in the twilight because we have swept the path of evil the day before. They will prosper each day and all day because we at Universal Secret Operations protect them each day and every day. USO sincerely thanks you for joining us, and we thank your families for the sacrifices you as operatives will make. Gods bless the Galaxy and our clandestine activities.”
“First, you should know that the Universal Secret Operations has never had a traitor. Having said that, I assume you have viewed the promo demo on-line, passed the virtual initiation course, and signed the you-can-kill-me-and-it’s-okay induction paperwork. Yes? Good. I will now outline for you the training you will undergo to convert you to full-fledged USO Operatives. Looking around today at your many-hued, bright, young, and eager faces, and seeing you all leaning forward into the breach as it were...I see...oh...well, let’s speak first to dress, proper dress...”
“In lieu of a uniform while working in the office, you will find that it is most suitable to wear a dark-colored suit. That is what you should be wearing today. Understood? Good. To continue, your ensemble will be complete with shiny shoes (for feet if you have them), camera-sunglasses (if you don’t have ears, these can be worn on a placard hanging from the neck or other upward protuberance), earpiece with silver dot mic (ditto, but take care to position it in proper proximity to speech and hearing orifices). And, remember, your transparent USO signet pinky ring is de rigueur.”
“When undercover, dress to compliment your environment. Wear a boubou (ankle-length, loose-fitting garment worn by all sexes, races, and those entities with bodies), with a mud, foliage, concrete, and/or native plastic decorative design. The following gadgets are also useful, so you should equip your stealth-fabric bodypack with them accordingly to your mission: (1) HID torch, (2) document mini-scanner, (3) tough-touch-tablet with Windows 2043®, (4) hand-launch micro-drone, and (5) smart watch (no stupid gear for USO) with space-time feature based on string theory (an upgrade to time travel functions will soon be available.) A galactic language translator and recorder has already been implanted in your wrist.”
“For casual wear, a rogue few will wear a standard issue thong with the abbreviation "USO" in large letters on the front and their ID badge pinned to the back of the thong. However, most feel this does not go well with their body type and comfort preferences. Hah!...No!...just kidding, no need to be rude.”
“When off-duty most typically wear some gentle-colored pants, gentle-colored shirt, delicate footwear, a pastel bill cap, and perhaps a scarf. Ho, ho, ho, again just kidding, wear whatever you like, as long as it upholds the USO image if you were to be captured on visuals.”
“Now, one word on verbal protocol. In the course of this work, this difficult, dangerous, secretive work, you will experience a temptation to yell, curse, and say things that you later regret. If you do so, it will make you seem stressed, upset, irritated, not at all like the bad, sick, cool operative you have long aspired to be. Further, those emotional slipups can trigger other verbal slips that tip information to the enemy. Don’t be a pant-less coward. Don’t be a bozo dog. Instead USO Operatives are recommended to vent with pithy expletives such as ‘Whatever’, ‘Sheesh.’, and ‘Well, la-di-dah.’ Repeatedly remind yourselves, ‘Only the BEST, I am the only the BEST!’”
“Haircuts. Tentacles? Ah, yes. Now, I recognize that some of you have tentacles rather than the hair of neural-typical humanoids. Don’t let that be a hindrance. There are ways to comply with the custom of an off-the-face and behind-the-ears haircut. No one wants to see close-cropped tentacles, instead plait them and tie in a pigtail or queue. Alternatively, pull them back into a firm bundle and bind all of it into a club. Don’t even have feathers, you say? That does not have to be an impediment, let me repeat, not an impediment. Wigs and weaves are perfectly acceptable, in some cases even preferable. A good appearance is one step closer to accessing one’s target, and another step closer to deception for gain. Good looks will ultimately help bring you to your final steps to close upon, convert, and control your assets. Again, be creative. No beards, no long sideburns. Chemoreceptors and mechanoreceptors are perfectly acceptable, as are lateral line systems. If you have them, use them.”
“Basic Education. You will soon undergo a process which is intended to ultra-educate and hyper-train you as an USO Operative. This is your covert advanced training. We at USO are known for our galactic delivery powers. In the USO Basic Educational program, you will become highly skilled in assessment of finance, communications, social contacts including turned agents and other assets, and the logistics of interplanetary travel and transport. All of which are realms within which USO collects, analyzes and delivers tidbits of information to the powers-that-be as are most succulent. Questions? No? Are you sure? Okay.”
“Physical Training. Remember, a strong Galaxy depends upon strong USO Operatives. Do your best, do your best at all times, and continue to improve upon your best. If you do your best, you won’t be stressed. How do you do your best? Prepare yourself, lay your foundation, know your abilities and limits, have no fear, or at least show no fear. Any questions? No? Good. In the USO physical training program, you will lift weights in high repetition to develop the slow-twitch muscle fibers that will enable long-distance endurance feats such as hand-to-hand combat, climbing, running, and swimming. You will also perform jump training, speed training, and heavy lifting, with calculated muscle fatigue, to develop your fast-twitch muscle potential for explosive movement and power, regardless of gender or temperament. A pass will be given to gaseous entities such as soft-bodied, free-swimming quasi-Medusozoa entities. Poor eye–hand coordination can compromise your ability to do every day tasks such as compiling your regular service reports. No one in this cohort has poor eye-hand coordination, except the aforementioned gaseous entities who, lacking both eyes and hands, will be expected to comply with all reporting requirements through their usual channels.”
“Each of you, whether humanoid or other entity, has tested high in fieldwork aptitude. From this day forward you will continue to do your best. You will stay sharp, and advance your careers by understanding tactical leadership and commitment to physical development. You will practice aviation and ship logistics so your movements are seamlessly covert. You will master data acquisition and rendering. You will train to collect images of planets, people, places, and property with precision. You will study the core requirements of safety, weapons, inter-galactic law, technology, and business administration. There will be a focus on the virtues of discipline and work ethic. You will begin by learning how to fill out your timescreen. Hooah.”
“You are ready. You have received all the necessary inoculations for every disease known in the Galaxy. You have been gene-modified to protection against the venomous secretions of snakes and spiders, the toxic ooze of mega-platypus foot spurs, the poisonous fangs of razor-rats, and whatever hostile hive-ants might throw at you. As for the sentient life forms you will encounter and must overcome, keep your wits about you. Universal Secret Operations believes you’re smart enough to do this job, and you’ve been physically enhanced to spec. Physiologically you are now capable of handling the environmental extremes of other worlds that would reduce a lesser sentient to ash and puddles. Robust melanocytes in your epidermis and eyes (excepting gaseous entities) now produce pigments and other bio-stiffeners to protect you from a wide range of radiations. Your modified lung-heart-brain system will allow you to move over mountains, through deserts, and down into the ocean depths without excessive equipment. You will need a ship to fly, but we believe you will get to where you need to go. You’re the best of the best. Hooah.”
“Boot Planet. In a few moments all of you USO initiates will load up for transport to the aforementioned secret training on our hidden Boot Planet. Yes, that is a name from antiquities, but that’s what it’s called. Training will last between ninety to one hundred twenty U-days depending on the aptitude of the initiates in each cohort. This will be an intense, challenging experience. You will excel to be your very best, do you hear me? Don’t pull your buddies down. Know this, ninety-nine point nine percent of initiates successfully complete the course, don’t be that one to fail. Nothing funny about that, boys and girls, and nymph-phase entities.”
“Thank you for your attention, and anticipated compliance and success. I am much obliged for the lives you will spend in service. Carry on, and load up.”
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This work is copyright protected. It is a work of fiction. Incidents, places, and names (especially those of alien entities) are products of the author/artist’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to actual events or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Caption: Operatives Orientation, by Annmarie Throckmorton 2016.