◊  THE TALENTS ◊

Psi-Talents have come into the world as a result of the catastrophic suffering of World War I. Before that time, fear and prejudice had suppressed these natural abilities that some people are born with. This list summarizes the Talents known by what would become the Allied powers in World War II. They are further described in the Bloom Book, excerpts of which appear in Book 2 of the Dark Talents trilogy, Serpent in the Heather.

(Y or N indicates if the ability is under the control of the practitioner--(otherwise the Talent shows up randomly.) "Always on" means the Talent is always manifesting.

HYPERPERSONAL (Influence over others)

Spill --Causing others to reveal secrets. Affected by strong desire to hide. N

Trauma view -- Viewpoint of person's past disturbing experience. Affected by emotional intensity. N

Natural defence (British spelling) -- The individual can't be affected by any hyperpersonal talent. Always on.

Conceptor -- Emotional persuasion. Always on.

Mesmerizing -- Objects have a decrease in judgment. Y

Disguise -- Apparent changes to the body. Y

Attraction -- Exert charisma. Always on.

Suggestion -- Sow an impression or fact in object's mind. Y

MENTATION (Higher knowing)

Hypercognition -- Lightning fast deductions. N

Precognition -- Perceive potential future events, particularly those with high emotional intensity. N

Object reading -- Uncover details of an object's previous owner. Affected by emotional intensity. Y

Hyperempathy -- Detect emotions, especially strong ones or those associated with tension. Always on.

Site view -- Gain historical vision in a location. Affected by emotional intensity. N

PSYCHOKINESIS (Changes to objects, environment)

Darkening -- Dispel light. Y

Damaging -- Break/disintegrate objects & man made items. Y

Sounding -- Release noise that instills fear. Y

Transport -- Move objects. Y

 

-- To avoid spoilers, some Talents aren't listed here.--

 

◊  SPYCRAFT  ◊

Within intelligence communities, spycraft refers to the techniques used by spies to gather intelligence and remain undercover. The need to manipulate, discover, and remain secret has spawned the time-tested techniques used by spies everywhere.

I used these methods throughout the Dark Talents trilogy, set in England in 1936. Here are some examples culled from Kim Tavistock scenes in Book two, Serpent in the Heather.

SIGN OF LIFE. To confirm with handlers or HQ (the "office" in British intelligence service parlance) that one is on duty and pursuing the mission.

In a wool skirt and sweater set Kim made her way down to the castle parlor, where she put in her call to Knightsbridge and Nash Photo Finishing. Someone from the Office answered appropriately and said her photo prints would be ready on Wednesday. Her sign-of-life call complete, she turned to find Powell had entered the drawing room.

THE COVER PERSONA. Obviously, spies wish to remain undetected as such. To that end, they adopt ostensible business and deflecting personal attributes.

“Tread carefully with this Coslett woman, Kim. We’re only allowed a limited operation. You must deploy your witless-American mode to perfection.”

She snapped a look at him. “I didn’t know I had one.”

“What? Oh, yes, quite a good one. Charging around all innocent and eager. Top-notch.”

HONEY TRAP. Female spies might use sex to disarm targets into revealing important information.

“I would like to kiss you,” Powell said. “If that’s all right. If you wouldn’t mind.”

Kim thought it the most awkward proposition she had ever encountered. “Perhaps, given that I’m on assignment, it may not do.”

“Surely, that doesn’t matter.”

“Well,” she said, “perhaps it’s not a rule.”

Powell put his hand on the back of her head and, turning her face up toward him, he kissed her, inexpertly but sincerely.

This had been a bad idea. She had now passed a rotten milestone: pretending affection to further her aims.

ALL THE LIES & DECEPTION. Here, Kim is debriefing with her handler, Owen.

“Lady Ellesmere thought she detected my extreme discomfort. It gave me a start, but I don’t think she could identify my . . .duplicity.”

“Don’t think of it like that," Owen said. "It’s not a lie, it’s a cover.”

Well. It was both. But it didn’t hurt to use the right words, the ones that helped you live with yourself.

◊◊◊

In this snippet, Kim has been trying to manipulate Powell Coslett into revealing secret information.

After a few strides Powell half-turned to her. “What you said . . . I know you’re trying to bolster me. It’s really very good of you.”

She had been twisting his hopes in front of his face, hoping to crack his facade, so it was not very good of her. The further she walked down this road, the more deception and manipulation she used, almost effortlessly.

It was reassuring to know that she had it in her.

YOU SUSPECT ALMOST EVERYONE. Once you start looking for conspiracies, you see them everywhere, whether real or imagined.

She checked down the hallway. No one there. The thought came to her: I don’t trust my father. Her discomfort with him had increased since she had been inducted into the service. Julian could not be spying for the Germans. But then why did she feel he had secrets of his own?

CLANDESTINE SIGNALS. Sometimes messages are short and can be conveyed simply while remaining secret.

Owen’s phone call, a wrong number, had by prearranged code terms announced a meeting at Abbey Pond at one o’clock.

PREARRANGED MEETING SPOTS. Here Kim's father, Julian, is meeting with the head of Britain Secret Intelligence Service, called "E."  They are on the Stone Gallery, a balcony of St. Paul's Cathedral in London. Sometimes the best rendezvous places are public ones, where a few words can be exchanged without drawing attention.

“Talon is wounded,” Julian said straight out. E took a long, deep breath. He kept his gaze on the view, those intermittent slices of London seen from 175 feet up through the stone balustrades. Against the massive, darkened sky, the gold spires of St. Paul’s caught the afternoon sun like a flame in a storm.

PASSING DOCUMENTS. Julian needs to get a message to the Polish intelligence service, and does so through an intermediary (Elsa) whom he is meeting by prearrangement in the crypt at St. Paul's Cathedral in London.

“Young man,” Elsa said, looking worried, “might you know where they’ve buried Wellington? I’m afraid I’ve lost him.”

“He’s over there,” Julian said, pointing. “I say, you can have my guide if you like.” He passed it to her along with his letter to Gustaw Bajek, head of the Polish intelligence service.

AND MORE. Read the trilogy for other examples of spy tradecraft such as legends, brush passes, dead drops, dry cleaning (losing a tail), surveillance and disguise.