The “Iron Wolf” stories from the days of Solar Flame, with his gadgets and derring-do, were romantic and exciting. He’d sneak into the enemy base, shut down their computers, ravish their women and get away after completing his objective. The Cabal was scarier. You never knew who they were. You couldn’t tell where they’d show up. Your trusted lieutenant would turn out to be a secret turncoat, or a computer system you bought years ago and had cleaned out multiple times would turn out to be somehow infected.What was scarier is that nobody really knew where they came from or how they started. Iron Wolf was easy. You had at least four different origin stories for him from three different “credible sources”. It was the Cabal that nobody could explain. And worse, nobody bothered to try. You just assumed it was there.
It happened innocuously enough. I didn’t even realize it at the time. I’d just gone in for a routine physical check-up. The doctor put me to sleep while they prepared the nanomachines, and the next thing I remembered was being told I was in good health after a cancer removal. I went home and thought nothing of it.
That’s how the Cabal works. Members aren’t chosen for their intelligence or their ability or anything else. While they might co-opt exceptional people for leadership positions, by and large the criterion for membership is that nobody would suspect you.
They implant a sub-personality, skills, triggered memories, everything. They rewire the mind, making you into a sleeper agent. No gadgets, no secret Spaces, nothing. Just encrypted messages passed between members and the occasional mission briefing when a few such people meet at a transit station or something similar.