The Tal Shiar was the secretive intelligence agency of the Romulan Star Empire, and was the most highly respected and feared organization within the Star Empire. Their main objective was to protect the Empire's security from both external and internal threats using whatever covert (or overt) means necessary.
Noted as being the most feared secret police in the galaxy, the Tal Shiar were the Romulans' elite intelligence unit. Whilst most of its members may not have commanded a starship, the Romulan Navy often made their vessels available to them upon request. A number of vessels were even known to be under undisputed rule of the Tal Shiar when their commanders were their operatives. These "Watchers of the Shadows" were only barely controlled by a strong Praetor or by the Romulan Central Committee. They were known to have no special love for honor or glory; instead, duty and stability were the words they lived by in service to the Empire. (TOS video game: Starfleet Command) When Tal Shiar commandeered recruited servicemen from other branches of the Romulan Guard, said servicemen were traditionally given the opportunity to decline. (TNG video game: Starfleet Command III)
The organization served as the elite imperial intelligence service of the Romulan Empire, the Tal Shiar enforced loyalty among both the civilian and military while at the same time spying on the Star Empire's enemies. Agents of the agency were given broad discretionary powers and could overrule military commanders in the field without any fear of reprisal. However, barring these type of situations, a member of the Tal Shiar typically remained on the ship and serve as "political officers" who ensured that the captain of the vessel, as well as its crew, remained loyal and followed the orders of the Praetor. It was not unheard of for Romulan captains to face arrest by the Tal Shiar officer for failing their mission.
There existed a great level of rumors of agents of the Tal Shiar serving on various vessels who reported to their superiors if the crews were trustworthy and it was this level of paranoia that kept Romulan vessels in line. As such, the agency was known to be very brutal with any citizen who showed dissatisfaction with the government swiftly disappearing in the night. While working as an internal security agency, the Tal Shiar also worked to capture alien operatives for interrogation while other agents were spread throughout the known Galaxy where they worked on data gathering on potential invasion targets. Other mission profiles for agents included supplying weapons to rebels or working to de-stabilize governments or even placing sleeper agents within a rival power who were disguised as a member of their race. (Decipher RPG module: Aliens)
The Tal Shiar were only held responsible to the highest levels of the Romulan Senate, yet the Tal Shiar often performed operations without their permission or support. Their seeming placement above the law bred contempt between Tal Shiar and the Romulan Imperial Fleet, as Tal Shiar authority exceeded that of the highest ranks of the military, even though the Tal Shiar used their own military vessels to perform their operations. (TNG episode: "Face of the Enemy"; DS9 episode: "The Die is Cast") Furthermore, while Romulans despised the existence of mercenary units, the Tal Shiar itself was known to have employed the use of such groups and frequently hired such individuals to act as proxies in their various schemes. (Last Unicorn RPG module: Raiders, Renegades & Rogues)
The base of operations of the organization was on the Romulan homeworld itself where it was situated in the capital in a building known as the Citadel Var'Theldun. (Last Unicorn RPG module: The Way of D'era: The Romulan Star Empire) Though they made use of vessels from the Star Navy, the Tal Shiar also created a fleet of Shadow class warships for its own personal use and utilized special technology to provide them an edge in battle. (TNG video game: Armada)
Similar to the military, the Tal Shiar had a strict hierarchy though its operations remained a secret with occasions resulting in the body violating its own chain of command for convenience or due to necessity. The head of the Tal Shiar was the Chairman who was appointed by the Praetor and confirmed by the Senate. This individual possessed a full range of discretionary powers over the Tal Shiar organization but ultimately answered to the Praetor and the Senate. They were capable of being removed if there was evidence of abuse of power but it required a unanimous vote from the Senate. (Last Unicorn RPG module: The Way of D'era: The Romulan Star Empire) Typically, the Chairman sits on the Continuing Committee, though this was not always the case; a Chairman whose views are against the current political actions of the state can be barred from sitting on the Committee. (DS9 episode: "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges")
In addition to this, there was the position of Vice-Chairman of the Tal Shiar. (DS9 episode: "In the Pale Moonlight") There was also the position of Director that was held by members of the Tal Shiar. (TTN novel: Taking Wing) Another rank known to exist was that held by High examiner's. (ST short story: "Shakedown")
The Tal Shiar was divided into numerous sub divisions each of which performed a different function. It was noted that there was some elements of competitions between these bodies but agents often were transferred from one branch to another in order to discourage competition. This was to encourage its members to work as a unified whole in order to fulfill their mutual goal which was the protection of the Star Empire. The security clearance of an agent determined how much they knew about ongoing operations with some being known to all whilst others being so secretive that only the Chairman and a select few were aware of their existence. (Last Unicorn RPG module: The Way of D'era: The Romulan Star Empire)
Internal Security Division
This branch of the Tal Shiar is one that is often encountered and is tasked with monitoring the population in order to ferret out signs of disloyalty and arrest those who prove to be a threat to the Romulan Star Empire. Its agents have broad discretionary powers in determining what is disloyal and is a threat though they do occasionally allow some of these individuals to escape in order to locate their co-conspirators. This makes their enemies unaware of when or where the Internal Security Division will strike which creates an atmosphere of fear or paranoia which keeps many citizens in line.
Though they make extensive use of their agents, the Internal Security Divisions greatest resource is the people themselves. Loyal Romulan citizens are asked to keep watch for suspicious behavior and report it to the Tal Shiar. This allows Internal Security to take action where they round up the traitor, his accomplices, family and even friends. Those that challenge these arrests are seen as collaborators and are also taken away where they are placed in re-education camps in order to be conditioned to remove their disloyalty after which they are returned as productive members of society. This differs amongst the more radical elements who are taken away and simply disappear where they are never seen again.
Some within the Romulan Star Empire believe that the Internal Security Division has too much power allowing them to arrest loyal citizens who speak their mind or conduct political "witch hunts". Their interrogation methods are known to be brutal from torture to the use of holographic environments to deceive the "traitor". Some say that this was a necessary action when the Empire was young and needed to enforce authority as well as suppress rebellions. However, these words fall on deaf ears as the Internal Security Division has little desire to end their methods which they see as efficient. In turn, critics keep their opinions to themselves for fear of being rounded up by the Tal Shiar as retribution as its commonly see that those who challenge the intelligence agency are traitors that need to be removed.
Military Affairs Division
The Military Affairs division works in a similar manner as the Internal Affairs Division but its charges are the military itself. As such, this division works to ensure loyalty among military personnel from its lowest ranks to the Admirals themselves. The agents of the Military Affairs Division constantly keep tab on officers throughout the fleet and armed forces. In fact, it has agents within the military who maintain cover identities while reporting everything they see or hear to their superiors in the Tal Shiar. Members of the military have even more to fear from these agents then civilians and are accustomed to being watched by such agents with many worrying that a single word from such officers of the Tal Shiar will end their prosperous career.
This division act as liaisons from the Tal Shiar to the military where they can re-acquisition ships or troops for various operations and can even order these assets across the Romulan Neutral Zone. They are not required to explain their actions other than the fact that its for a Tal Shiar mission. Though they make use of the military for these tasks, the intelligence agency sees them nothing more then pawns. This has resulted in a great deal of resentment from the military namely from the Romulan Star Navy and the Tal Diann. This is because they see the very nature of the Military Affairs Division as an affront to their oath to the Romulan Star Empire and believe that while they sneak or spy on them, the military is dying in service for the greater glory of the state. Like civilians, the officers within the military rarely speak their mind in public in regards to the Tal Shiar as they know that the agency has the habit of ruining careers.
Special Operations Division
Among the Tal Shiar, the Special Operations Division is known to officially handle emergency situations and serious threats to the Romulan Star Empire though unofficially it controls all operations outside the government, namely missions directed at other interstellar states. This makes it one of the more secretive branches of the Tal Shiar as many of its operations are illegal under the treaties with other governments. Its primary goal is gathering information on species that lie outside the Romulan Star Empire. As such, it has numerous agents with some being surgically altered to appear as non-Romulans. Some are perfectly capable of acting as Vulcans though this requires considerable training in order to forsake the passionate Romulan way in favor of the cold logical attitudes of the Vulcans. Beyond these approaches, its known that they use their data gathering methods to blackmail officials on other worlds in order for them to compromise their planet's security in some way or use them to gather more important information.
The information gathered by this division is used to plan military operations as its the nature of the Romulan Star Empire to test their enemies before engaging in open conflict. This means that the Special Operations Division often tests other civilizations in order to determine whether they are capable of challenging the Romulan state. They also work to destabilize threats such as the Federation/Klingon alliance which is done so through covert means such as "sleeper" agents that are created through brainwashing or undercover operations. The techniques of the Tal Shiar often aim to sow mistrust and paranoia within the Star Empire's enemies.
Intelligence Analysis Division
This division works to study all the information gathered by the other divisions and determine conclusions from them. This makes them experts in code breaking and decryption procedures which make use of highly advanced computer algorithms. It is the encryption experts from the Intelligence Analysis Division who maintain the extensive security systems of the Romulan Information Network. This divisions makes regular reports to the Chairman and to the Romulan Senate keeping both appraised of information both internal and external the Romulan Star Empire. These reports are the most accurate and up-to-date information available to the Romulan government though some believe that the Chairman censors certain pieces of data for reasons of public safety and security.
Among the duties of the Intelligence Analysis Division also include compiling information on the more serious threats to the Romulan Star Empire such as those represented by the Borg Collective and the Taurhai Unity.
Research and Development Division
Through the Research and Development Division, the Tal Shiar make constant attempts at developing new technology for use in its work. The purpose of the division was to design and test new devices for use by the agents of the Tal Shiar. Its been known to analyze scientific data gathered by agents which includes the technologies of other civilizations in order to determine their usefulness to both the organization and the Romulan Star Empire.
There were rumors that the Research and Development Division were more concerned with getting results then in producing safety or testing procedures for the technology it was developing. This combined with the classified nature of their work meant that the R&D facilities were often located in deep space stations or on distant planetary bodies. The location of these assets were known only to a select few as they were considered a state secret with only members of the Tal Shiar along with certain members of the Romulan Star Navy knowing of them. In case of the latter of the two, these members of the fleet were often the officers in command of the supply ships sent to the outposts and even these individuals were not privy to the details of the nature or purpose of the facilities they visit.
The technology this division were known to work on were weapon, defensive and cloaking systems along with tools for use during espionage missions. This division often sought to create more powerful disruptor weaponry and were even known to create miniaturized versions that could be disguised as ordinary tools that were shielded from conventional scans. They also worked on the applications of offshoot disruptor technology such as the Veron-T type disruptor which tore its enemies apart on a molecule by molecule basis from the inside out. Furthermore, they were known to have produced perfect replicas of Federation, Klingon and Cardassian weapons for covert missions leading others to believe that the Tal Shiar had procured illegal copies sold to them. There was, however, a flaw in these replica weapons was the fact that they required Romulan energy sources to recharge them which meant that Romulan energy signatures were capable of being detected upon closer examination.
The Research and Development Division were also involved in the development of better cloaking technology and have attempted to find a practical means of cloaking entire planets. Recent creations include cloaks for space stations as well as a small scale personal cloak camouflage suit which possessed holographic properties that were capable of hiding an individual Humanoid from visual as well as sensor based scans. There have, however, been a number of difficulties as the Tal Shiar research branches have been unable to mask the distortion effect of the cloak within a planetary atmosphere along with the high power requirements for even smaller personal cloaking devices. Largely, these problems appeared to have been solved but the technology remains experimental and not for public use.
In addition, the division produced miniaturized and concealed sensors, computer devices, surveillance equipment, explosives, concealed personal armor, incapacitating drugs and other chemicals along with many other types of items.
- It is likely that the Research and Development Division was responsible for the creation of the Shadow-class warships.
Mind War Division
This division was devoted to developing as well as the refinement of new technologies and techniques for interrogation, brainwashing, intelligence gathering and psionic warfare. Similar to the Research and Development Division, Mind War at times crossed the lines between the other branches and sometimes affected all parts of the Tal Shiar with its discoveries as well as its methods. It was originally a sub division of R&D but grew rapidly to the point that was eventually given its own separate division. Despite this being the case, Mind War and R&D often worked closely on the development of new technologies. (Last Unicorn RPG module: The Way of D'era: The Romulan Star Empire)
Temporal Assessment Group
The history of the Tal Shiar
- And in conclusion, the corrupt and cruel former Security Department has been, this very day, eliminated! In its place will be a shining new force for justice, incorruptible and forever honest.
- I hereby make this proclamation, my friends. In honor of Emperor Shiarkiek, let this new force for justice bring naught but glory to his name.
According to a former agents Zhaban and his mother, the Tal Shiar was merely a mask for the far more secretive cabal known as the Zhat Vash.(PIC episode: "Maps & Legends") The Tal Shiar was known to exist as far back as 2155 which meant that it predated the creation of the Federation. (ENT novel: Kobayashi Maru) During the Earth-Romulan War, the Tal Shiar was known to had saturated the Coalition of Planets newsnets in order to gather intelligence on their enemy in the conflict. (ENT - The Romulan War novel: Beneath the Raptor's Wing) Starfleet can confirm its existence to the late 23rd century, when the Tal Shiar or its immediate predecessor) performed a number of covertly dangerous operations against Starfleet and the Federation.
- Editorial Note: Sources conflict on the origin of the Tal Shiar. In the novel Vulcan's Heart it was created in 2344 to replace the corrupt existing intelligence apparatus (see the passage quoted above). Other sources, such the ENT novel Kobayashi Maru, specifically refer to Romulan Intelligence as the Tal Shiar as early as the 2150s. Given the conflicts, contributors to this page are encouraged to distinguish between instances where the Tal Shiar is specifically named versus cases that involve Romulan intelligence organizations but do not use the term "Tal Shiar".
Early in the 22nd century, prior to 2153, the Tal Shiar replaced a rising star in the Vulcan High Command named V'Las with one of their own agents. This agent, posing as V'Las, became Administrator of the High Command. In this capacity, his mission was to control Earth and to contain the Andorians. V'Las was able to give a Starfleet report on their first encounter with the Enterprise at Unroth III. (ST reference: Federation: The First 150 Years; ENT episode: "Minefield")
In the 2260s, the Tal Shiar formed an uneasy alliance with the crew of the USS Enterprise under the command of Captain James T. Kirk in order to investigate a number of attacks in the Romulan Neutral Zone. (TOS comic: "Blood Enemies")
Assignment: Eternity (2269)
In 2269, a small force of Tal Shiar troops led by Commander Dellas managed to gain control of the top-secret cloaked planet known as Deployment Base Alpha. The base was operated by agents who worked for the secretive organization known as Aegis, but Dellas and her soldiers were able to kill the agents, and began to examine the advanced technology for their own ends.
Dellas and her team discovered that the technology would allow them to both monitor time, and give them the ability to travel through it. After viewing the history of the late 23rd and early 24th centuries resulting from the signing of the Khitomer Accords in 2293, Dellas began to plot the assassination of Ambassador Spock.
Fortunately, her plan was foiled when the USS Enterprise arrived with Gary Seven, Roberta Lincoln, and Isis who had received a distress call from the Aegis agents, and had traveled to the 23rd century to enlist Captain James T. Kirk's assistance. Together, Seven and Kirk were able to destroy the equipment and self-destruct the base, keeping it out of the Tal Shiar's hands. (TOS novel: Assignment: Eternity)
The Tal Shiar also assisted in the investigation of Starbase 14 which had been heavily damaged by unknown means. They aided the crew of the USS Enterprise in the investigation and exchanged officers with the Romulans whereupon both sides claimed that they had nothing to do with the recent attack. (TOS comic: "The Chosen Part 2: Blood Enemies")
In 2263 of the Kelvin timeline, one of their operatives, Livia approached Starfleet officer, Commander Valas, former first officer of the USS Endeavour after she became a prisoner on Romulus.(TOS - Boldly Go comic: "Issue 6")
The Khitomer Massacre (2346)
In 2346, the Tal Shiar was able to obtain information gained from the Cardassian Obsidian Order that the Klingon House of Kultan had commissioned the development of biogenic weapons on the outlying colony on Khitomer. The Tal Shiar supplied the information to the Romulan Senate, and shortly after preparations for an all-out assault on Khitomer were underway. (DS9 novel: Vengeance)
When the assault was underway a few weeks later, the Tal Shiar enlisted the aid of Ja'rod, who sabotaged the colony's planetary defenses and allowed the Romulan fleet to completely ravage the planet. (TNG episode: "Sins of the Father", TLE novel: The Art of the Impossible)
Dark Matters (2356)
In the 2350s, the Tal Shiar sponsored a number of experiments involving artificial wormholes and cloaking devices that utilized dark matter, that were performed by Doctor Telek R'Mor and Ambassador Lhiau. By 2356, the experiments were proved successful and Chairman Jekri Kaleh had thirteen D'deridex-class warbirds equipped with dark matter cloaking devices.
Following a presentation of the new technology to the Romulan Senate, the fleet of Romulan warbirds set out through an artificial wormhole to travel into the 2370s and capture the USS Voyager and bring it back to the 2350s, where they could use the starship's advanced technology. Thankfully, the Tal Shiar were unable to gain Voyager's advanced technology, but instead massed over 4,000 vessels along the Romulan Neutral Zone and prepared to attack five Federation colonies along the border, and using their dark matter cloaks and wormhole technology attack Earth, Vulcan, Bolarus IX, and Starbases 12, 74, and 212.
Thankfully, Kaleh and R'Mor were able to return to Romulus after escaping to Voyager and inform the Romulan Senate of Lhiau's plans to invade the Federation. The Empress was able to put an end to the assault, labeling the whole mission an exercise, and ordered that all dark matter technology be removed. Kaleh retired from the Tal Shiar. (VOY - Dark Matters novels: Cloak and Dagger, Ghost Dance, Shadow of Heaven)
Defiant Confrontation (2368)
As Lieutenant Commander Benjamin Sisko took the USS Defiant for a trial run to the Romulan Neutral Zone, he discovered a derelict D'Deridex-class warbird in Federation space. Whilst investigating this find, they encountered a trio of warbirds under the command of Commander Valerius of the Tal Shiar who had laid a trap for the rogue Vulcan criminal called T'Uerell. When Commander Sisko challenged the Romulan officer, he began his attack which forced Defiant to flee into a nebula whereupon it left an emergency distress beacon. When the USS Enterprise-D came to rescue the ship, they discovered that the prototype vessel had fallen to the Romulan Star Empire who were beginning to study it at a secret starbase. However, the Starfleet task force managed to destroy the starbase and allow the crew of the Defiant to escape. (ST video game: Legacy)
Omarion Nebula Massacre (2371)
After seeing the potential threat posed by the Dominion of the Gamma Quadrant, the Tal Shiar formed a secret alliance with the Cardassian Obsidian Order through the efforts of the Order's leader Enabran Tain. Together, they worked to engage in a preemptive strike against the Founders' homeworld through the use of a cloaked Romulan/Cardassian fleet. To ensure a successful operation, several former Obsidian Order operatives were assassinated, though one, Elim Garak, managed to evade the attempts on his life as well as discover the plot.
Together, the Tal Shiar and Obsidian Order fleet moved through the Bajoran wormhole and arrived around the Changeling home planet where they opened a weapon volley that destroyed much of the planet's crust. However, there was no drop in life signs. It was then discovered that the readings they were getting were false, and that they had fallen into a trap. Jem'Hadar fighters attacked the fleet resulting in the Battle of the Omarion Nebula. The fleet was massacred with many of the crew taken captive. It was discovered that the Tal Shiar had been infiltrated by a Founder who worked on the ambush in order to diminish the threat posed by the Romulans' feared intelligence agency. The battle greatly diminished the standing of the Tal Shiar for some time. (DS9 episodes: "Improbable Cause", "The Die is Cast")
By 2374 the Tal Shiar had recovered and engaged in an attempt to capture the prototype Starfleet ship USS Prometheus, a plan which was foiled by the Doctor and an EMH Mark II. In the same year, they were responsible for the investigation over the mysterious death of Senator Merken Vreenak and concluded that the Dominion had assassinated him. This led to the Romulan Empire joining the Federation Alliance in the Dominion War. (VOY episode: "Message in a Bottle", DS9 episode: "In the Pale Moonlight")
A Divided Romulus (2379)
In the aftermath of Shinzon of Remus' death and his slaying of the Imperial Romulan Senate, the Tal Shiar would be one of the many factions seeking dominance of the Star Empire. It would be led by Director Rehaek at the time and worked secretly in order to secure a power base in the new government that struggling to form. (TTN novel: Taking Wing)
In 2385 two agents, Zhaban and Laris were sent by the Tal Shiar to the Romulan colony of Yuyat Beta posing as vineyard workers to keep an eye on the Colony. There they assisted the Yuyati in rescuing Admiral Jean-Luc Picard and Lt. Commander Raffi Musiker of the USS Verity from Governor Shiana. Picard and Musiker revealed themselves as Tal Shiar agents who would be excommunicated for their personal relationship. They agreed to help Picard contact the Verity and ensure the natives evacuation. Zhaban assisted Picard in contacting the Verity and beaming Shiana to the Verity's brig. Picard allowed Zhaban and Laris to beam up to the Verity. The Tal Shiar sent a ship to assist Zhaban in capturing the Verity and ensuring it's destruction. However, Laris refused to take part in it with Zhaban, which convinced him to stop working with Tal Shiar. After Commander Vinux arrived with a D'Deridex-class warbird and told Picard that the Tal Shiar was operating out of the Romulan Senate's purview. The Tal Shiar then disappeared. Zhaban and Laris, having betrayed the Tal Shiar, agreed to Picard's offer working at Château Picard.(PIC - Countdown comics: "Issue 1", "Issue 2", "Issue 3")
After the death of Praetor Tal'Aura, the Tal Shiar were dispatched to investigate the matter of her death. In 2386 they concluded that she had been assassinated by agents of the Romulan noble houses and thus began a campaign of arresting and detaining the nobles on Romulus. However, Sela made a formal statement that the Tal Shiar were as responsible as Tal'Aura's murderers and stated that they knew who the assassins were but did nothing. During the course of events, Director Rehaek's home was destroyed with his wife and young daughter killed in the explosion. The director himself was believed to have been vaporized in the incident and two hours later, Tal Shiar forces arrested Sela and her personal guard under charges of murder. They were sentenced to death, but Praetor Chulan intervened at the insistence of Commander Donatra and instead banished Sela and her followers. (ST website: The Path to 2409)
The Tal Shiar were among the factions vying for power in the chaos following the Hobus supernova of 2387, known for excessive use of lethal force to restore order and paying no heed to those killed or injured in the crossfire. (STO website: Legacy of Romulus Dev Blog #13: Tovan Khev)
Agents of the Iconians (2409)
By the year 2409, the Tal Shiar has become their own entity. Under the command of Colonel Hakeev, the Tal Shiar has been working to make the Romulans and Remans subservient to the Iconians, with Hakeev as their herald. As well, Hakeev has returned to using Borg technology since the incident with the Narada. Working in tandem with the Elachi, the Tal Shiar has been invading various colonies separated from the Romulan Star Empire while spreading misinformation towards D'Tan's Romulan Republic movement. However, after attacking Virinat, the Tal Shiar gained an enemy in the form of a survivor of Virinat, working alongside the Romulan Republic.
During a conference seeking to legitimize the Romulan Republic, the Tal Shiar attempted to sabotage the talks to drive the Federation and Klingon Empire away. However, the sacrifice by Commander Temer ends up persuading both sides into accepting the fledgling government. Soon after, the survivor is implanted into the Tal Shiar as a mole for the Romulan Republic, forcing them to make questionable decisions while learning of the Tal Shiar's role (especially that of Hakeev's) in the Hobus supernova before being rescued.
On Nimbus III, the Tal Shiar and the Elachi performed various experiments with various races within the mysterious "Installation 18". Starfleet, the Klingon Empire and the Romulan Republic discover this and drive them off of the planet.
After a failed attempt at attacking New Romulus, their attention soon turned towards the Reman rebellion lead by Obisek, once more catching the attention of the super powers. Despite Obisek warning them of the Tal Shiar being controlled by their "Dark Masters", the "Demons of Air and Darkness", both Starfleet and the Klingon Empire was reluctant to act. However, this changed when a captain was kidnapped to a planet on the Nopada system and forced into combat by Hakeev and his men, discovering an Iconian gateway inside his base. Armed with this information, the super powers made an attack on the Tal Shiar's base on Brea III. In the subsequent attack, Hakeev was killed and Sela found herself and her ship taken away by the Iconians themselves.
Command was passed down to Commander Ruul, who sought to undermine New Romulus' government, however, this was quickly brought to an end. By this point, the Tal Shiar became a shell of its former self as many of its operatives became quite disillusioned and joined the Romulan Republic or were totally indoctrinated with the ideas of the Iconians.
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