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TURN: Washington’s Spies Spycraft Handbook – The Station

In the wake of Mary finding his codebook (and Ensign Baker overhearing their subsequent conversation about him being a spy), Abe realizes he needs a safer place to conduct his espionage activities. He turns to the root cellar beneath the ruins of his burned-down house, fashioning it into a lair of spy gadgets safely away from the prying eyes of Mary and the curious hands of Thomas. There, Abe can keep his cipher wheels, create spy tools like his stiletto knife and his miniature paper and pencil, and store his chemicals for making invisible ink.

Spies throughout history have needed a secure location to conceal their true activities. A station is a location for in-field operations in enemy territory. Though occasionally known to foreign intelligence services, as in the case of acknowledged diplomatic missions, stations are most often in a concealed location, and provide a home base from which spies can conduct their missions of surveilling and sabotaging their enemies.

A specific type of a station is a safe house. Intermittently used and frequently changed, safe houses are locations which provide traveling agents and contacts with a safe place to lay low or rest during their travels.

The lifespan and success of a station — and the spies using it — are inexorably linked to the quality of the escape routes, clandestine communications, evasion techniques, and physical security measures employed around it. An ideal station has multiple exits onto busy streets where an agent can instantly blend in and lose any possible tail. A station, especially a safe house, will often utilize exterior signals known to agents to communicate about the safety of entering.

As a home base for agents, stations are akin to a safety raft in shark-infested waters. As long as there are separate interests in the world competing with one another, no spy is truly safe.

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