Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Wish You Were Here (1.4)


I could mention our organisation's name, but it wouldn't mean a thing to anyone.  No fancy acronym.  No celebrity recruiters spilling platitudes on the airwaves.  No government funding.  Sure, there have been loose associations with the more apparent organizations.  Sure, we've been party to some of the more famous or infamous operations.  Throw down any government or military acronym you can think of, and I'm sure we've done business with them – even if the average recruit off the street doesn't know about it.  But you won't find mention of us in any leaked documents, and we've never had to deal with a high-profile defection.

Walking through a too-trendy old quarter in Istanbul, Turkey, I stopped in the middle of the sidewalk to check my GPS one last time.  Tiny tables littered the pavement populated with blissfully unaware normals sipping strong black coffee out of tiny white cups.  Exactly the type of naïve scene which never failed to make me feel a little heavy of heart.

Turning down a depressingly narrow side street, claustrophobic, devoid of natural lighting, my feet walked towards what passed for our branch office: a little café tucked away beyond a crumbling stone vestibule.  Little more than a walk-in closet, really.  I quickly flashed my badge at the pert barista manning the counter, and muttered the password.  Through the kitchen, and past a door marked KILER – 'pantry' in my native English – she led me down an uncomfortably cramped set of wooden stairs, where I bid her adieu, and rapped seven times on the steel door in a rote pattern.

It wasn't long before I heard three deadbolts unlatch, the door creaking open to expose the expressionless face of Agent Parker, all steel-rimmed pince-nez glasses and five o'clock shadow.  He silently passed me a bulging, sealed manila envelope through the crack in the door, before shutting and bolting it.

Remote agents.  Odd bunch, I thought, but they make the world go 'round.

Climbing the stairs, I examined the package's contents.  Physical photographs and notes, and a couple memory sticks.  Half of my work done for me in advance, Agent Parker would have been busy these last couple days collecting data on Lagan – leaving the fun stuff entirely up to me.

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