The Agency, Chapter 2

December 5, 2011
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“Can I get you anything else, Mr. Reid?” A shapely stewardess, with her hair pinned up in a stylish bun, stood directly in front of Damian, a coy smile spread across her face. Damian looked at the empty martini glass on the pedestal table beside him and swirled the one in his hand, a small slosh of liquid spinning around the clear glass.

“No, thank you. And please, call me Damian.”

“As you wish, Damian,” the stewardess said, “But only as long as you’ll use my name.”

“Which would be?”

“Rebecca Answorth. Becky if you like. Can I get you anything else to make the flight more enjoyable?”

“You could stand there a while longer.” Damian replied, grinning.
Rebecca blushed. “How about a pillow instead? These seats are designed for espionage briefings, not resting. You look quite tired.”
“Not tired. Intrigued. Stressed. Maybe even a bit irate. But never tired.”
“Good. That’s the attitude to have when you’re dealing with Central Intelligence.” She turned, walked towards the cockpit of the aircraft, and left Damian alone once again. He looked around the tastefully adorned Lockheed Constellation. The black-skinned, tri-tailed aircraft soared smoothly over the East Coast, just as the sun was sinking below. The eighteen-cylinder Wright radial engines hummed busily outside the lush cabin decorated with various maps of the world on the walls. Accent lighting lined the ceiling and shown down the sides of the cabin, illuminating these detailed cartographs. Damian assessed the stainless steel tables, leather conference chairs, and grey-carpeted floors. Suddenly, Becky walked out from behind the galley wall, a small serving tray balanced on one hand, a pillow grasped in the other. Her heels clicked as she approached Damian.
“Your pillow?” she asked, taking notice of the paperwork Damian had brought with him from the San Marco.
“Yes, thank you.” he answered, looking up at her.
“You seem rather lonely. Trust me, as an agent, you’ll soon grow tired of working alone. I did, at least. Would you like some company?”
“As an agent? Miss Answorth, the government superspy?”
“Former. I grew lonely, hated going it solo, and soon found out good looks only last you so long in this business. After my fourth go-around, they put me in the air. But I like it. I get to see the different headquarters, talk to agents, and meet new ones,” she said, looking at Damian, her seemingly ever-present smile beaming. She sat the serving tray with the cups of coffee on the table beside him.
“Ah. So you’re a people person.”
“How’d you guess?”
Damian laughed. “You’ve got full clearance?”
“Do you see any partitioning walls or double thick doors onboard, Damian? I didn’t think so. I’m present at most all briefings and debriefings onboard.”
Damian retrieved his attaché from his feet, pulled out a few reports, and organized them with papers marked “CONFIDENTIAL” that lie on the seat next to him. Rebecca pulled a chair beside Damian’s, retrieving a cup of coffee from the tray and handing it to him.
“Well, I’m a rookie. This is my first time working for Central Intelligence.”
“Yes, I know. You’re formerly employed under the Agency. An officer, correct?”
Damian was stunned. “Correct. It appears you are rather informed.”
“A perk of the job. You’re a trial for the CIA, Damian. They want an unknown agent backed by the big brass.”
“And what can I expect as the unknown agent?”
“You’ll meet Jessica. Jessica Dodson.”
Damian chuckled. “Yet another woman? Is Central Intelligence being overrun with estrogen?”
“Why not? The department heads think it’s an excellent idea. Women have shown great leadership characteristics, flexibility in training, and greater organization in the work place. They save the boys to play agent.”
So, this Jessica… what is it exactly that she does?”
“She'll be your tour guide, Damian. Your advisor. She briefs all new appointments to Langley.”
“And just how will things go when this bird touches down?”
Becky tilted her head back, as if attempting to recall someone’s name. “Ah,” she laughed. “An initiation faster than any you’ve ever seen in your life. The way I remember, I was rushed off the plane quickly. To Central Intelligence, you’re as important as the papers you hold. They don’t waste time in getting you where you’re going. You’ll be hurried to a vehicle, most likely a black sedan, which will take you directly to Langley. From there, you’ll be escorted to Dodson’s office. Beyond that, I can’t tell you. The briefing process depends on each mission.”
“I understand. Car, Dodson, briefing.”
“Exactly. Be especially careful to study any lingual or cultural information they’ve given you. Remember how I said I’d only had four missions?”
“I wouldn’t have made it back from two of those operations without that information. It can be your lifeline.”
Damian looked at the papers stacked in his lap, sighed, and shuffled through them, overwhelmed by the large packet. “Understandably,” he replied.
Becky peered at the papers. “What’s the objective of your mission, Damian?”
“Recovery. And bit of reconnaissance.”
“The recovery of what?”
“An aircraft. Two, hopefully. And their missing crews.”
“Have you been briefed on a location?”
“On the shores of Lake Baikal.”
The plane began to shudder and Damian was nearly thrown from his seat. The co-pilot stepped from the cabin door. “Miss Answorth, Mr. Reid? Would you please fasten your belts? We’re beginning our decent and expect some turbulence.”
Becky settled herself into one of the office chairs and fastened the harness across her waist. Damian followed.
“You’re nearly there, Damian. We should be landing momentarily.”
Damian, fastened to his chair, looked outside the window beside him and watched as the clouds cleared from view. But something was amiss. Damian didn’t identify the anomaly until the plane began to glide over the ground. He shot a worried look in Rebecca’s direction.
“Miss Answorth? I’m afraid our runway has yet to make itself known.”
She laughed, and replied, “Gets the rookies every time. Patience, Damian.”
Moments later, the plane shook again. As if answering the pleas of Damian’s worries, intense beacons of red light began to flash along the ground below.
“A bit delayed, aren’t they?”
“Merely to keep under the radar, Damian. We’re approaching Dulles International. Or rather, the backside of Dulles. Central Intelligence has been using a secretive airstrip here for two years now. It lets us come in quick, unload, load, and take off again. We’ll be touching down soon. Prepare to move fast.”
Damian nodded. “I may only have a few moments beforehand. I’d like to thank you for your help, Becky. I’ll take your advice.”
“I have faith in you, Damian.”
Damian reached over, grasped her hand, and gave her a kiss. The Lockheed’s tires squealed in protest as the landing gear impacted the Dulles runway, and soon, the plane came to rest. Rebecca stood, signaling to Damian.
“This is where it begins, Damian. It’s time to move.”
Damian collected his papers and followed her to the front of the plane, where she opened the cabin door. Once more, he took her by the hand, as a flight of stairs was brought to the door. She looked deep into his eyes.
“Good luck, Mr. Reid.”
“Thank you, Miss Answorth,” he replied, kissing her again. He paused, turned around and walked out into a scene of controlled chaos. As he descended the stairs, a black sedan stopped at their base. The driver stepped out of the car, and addressed Damian, asking him to come with him. Damian sighed, stepped into the car and into a new life.

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