Upon entering SAINT and passing through the primary indoctrination course, which requires consenting to conditioning, all operatives undergo a non-invasive neurological procedure, typically in the course of a standard medical examination. While rendered unconscious, the operatives are introduced to rapid and compressed cognitive and physiological manipulation in order to impart the required imperatives. Part behavioral conditioning and part neural programming, the package provides multi-faceted methods of defeating point-source threats to information security.
In situations where an operative is or imminently will be located by counter-intelligence forces, Level I functions assist in various measures to provide rapid egress from the threat environment. Specifically, sensory data is sent in full to the brain and processed without filtering; in a normal, conscious individual, the overload of stimuli would adversely affect the ability to think. In this case, the conditioned reflexes use the increased sensory gain to react more quickly to threats. Additionally, pain sensations are blocked out, allowing the operative to move even if injured. This also allows the operative to move far more quickly and with greater agility, since the boundaries of safety for the body can be ignored. The overriding, nearly instinctual impulse activated in Level I situations is to get the operative to a location that will be secure until extraction, as the mental and physical demands will likely leave the operative temporarily in a hallucinatory, dream-like state with torn muscles, ligaments, and tendons and possibly broken bones.
Should the Level I protocols be insufficient to prevent capture, it is imperative that the operative be able to withstand interrogation in all forms. The primary functionality of Level II conditioning is simply the dispensation for extreme mental and emotional stability. While not depriving the operative of their normal “human” psychological features, essential to blending in amidst social settings, this underlying passive characteristic makes operatives extremely hard to manipulate under duress. This is coupled with increased passive resistance to various drugs designed to lower inhibitions or otherwise adversely affect the operative’s ability to resist. A useful secondary consequence of this is that the operative is able to take various recreational drugs, narcotics, or alcohol in social settings while retaining full mental functionality. The final protective measure in the Level II arsenal is the ability to self-induce a coma, in the event that stress techniques and other physical methods of aggressive interrogation begin to wear down the operative’s stamina. The coma will provide a chance to recuperate somewhat despite external stimuli that would otherwise prevent it.
A truly dedicated, sophisticated, and well-equipped counter-intelligence force can overcome all efforts by operatives to escape and resist, at least some of the time. The Level I and Level II protocols were designed with that in mind: not to create an impenetrable protection around operatives and more importantly the classified information carried in their heads. Rather, the protocols were designed to greatly increase the difficulty opponents would face in extracting that information. Given time, even the most sophisticated resistance conditioning can be undone. It is in that case that the single Level III protocol is activated: self-termination. Capitalizing upon the programmable nature of cells in NH series bodies, Level III situations trigger a pre-programmed set of cells in the brain to catastrophically overload, essentially creating a small detonation that destroys neural pathways beyond recovery. The requirements for activation of this situation are quite restricted: if the operative’s resistance capabilities are breached and the loss of intelligence or information deemed vitally or critically classified is imminent, the protocol will execute immediately and without warning. As it is standard procedure for operatives to update their mental back-ups before deploying operationally, the primary concern is not protecting lives, but rather information security.