Eleven o clock on a dark wintry evening. Agent 011 with a frown on her face was sitting in the specially built, black-yellow supersonic car, clutching the documents close to herself.
Her mind flashed back to the conversation she had with her boss. Agent B. The Head of Intelligence operations in the organization and in the country.
The very ordinary, desiccated looking Agent B. Behind his rather inconsequential facade was a razor sharp mind that controlled some of the biggest brains in the country. The normally cynical and unflappable B was worried. One could see it by the way he paced up and down his cabin.
"This is the biggest thing to hit us in a long long time" he told Agent 011. "Have you any idea how big it is? Even the President is small change!"
The President. The mysterious man in the trademark hat. The man behind the scenes - the mastermind of the Organization. Second in command to the Chairman. One of the most powerful men the Organization has seen.
Agent B continued.” This has global implications. The future of our entire organization across the world is at stake." "Like us, ten countries across the world a similar top secret information collation has taken place. We need to get this information, the documents and the recording of the information to the global HQ in New York. Any errors, the documents falling into the hands of the enemy is curtains for us.”
"You need to identify the head of operations. Francis is his name and get this document and the evidence to him. Make sure you get it to HIS hands only and no one else. Francis is one of the cleverest people in the setup. He has been working undercover in **** (mentioned the codeword of the organization) He will ferry it to the right places. BUT" and a pause here.” You have to get it to him by midnight. By midnight, it has to reach him so that he can convey it to HQ by Friday. By midnight the shift also changes - so you will not be able to meet him and any delay spells doom."
"..And 011.."Agent 011 paused and looked up “It’s dangerous. There are spies everywhere. Be careful"
So here was Agent 011 sitting in the car going to pick up the recording from Agent 017 and Agent 021 who were at the top-secret underground estate located in an innocuous looking mill.
She looked up, out through the dark tinted glasses at the road. The terrain seemed unfamiliar.
Desolate and gloomy and a winding road that seemed to go nowhere. A few minutes of panic. Could there be an infiltrator? Was the man driving the car - the enemy? Looked at him. She had carefully selected him from the line of supersonic cars because his face was familiar and she was certain she had used him on a mission earlier. Decided to cross check anyways – everyone had their price!
Rapped against his seat - “Where are you going?"
"The place where you told Me."
"This is not the road. Is there another entryway to the place? What are the directions I gave you?"
The driver replied "It’s the same place!"
A look at the directions printed on the wireless indicated that there are two such locations in the city. The driver had gone to the wrong one. (Murphy operates even in super secret missions). Clock was ticking. Hurried messaging exchanged between the two agents and the driver skid to a stop, and rushed back in the other direction.
As luck would have it the shortest route was fraught with many obstacles that had to be crossed, the road was riddled with some sort of big craters as if some enemy had destroyed the expressways. The roads were abuzz with people – civilians’ maybe. But she thought not – they were probably counter espionage agents trying to retard her progress. And even at that time of the night, there were hordes of vehicles on the street commuting in a completely erratic manner which suggested a desire to self destruct.
Suddenly the car screeched to a halt. Agent 011 glanced at her watch while simultaneously making a lunge for the door.
Agent 017 was pacing up and down the stairway smoking cigarettes like a chimney. Not a good sign at all.
“What’s the matter?” agent 011 managed to rasp out “Where are the documents?”
“That moron agent 021 – he has gone and done something to the software. Everything has come to a grinding halt. I am sure he is related to the President or something. There is no other way he could have got a job in this place else blah blah blah”
017 continued his diatribe. Normally agent 011 would have been more than happy to join him in bashing up agent 021 – an embarrassment to the agency-(he had single handedly managed to goof up almost ungoofable projects). But there was no time. Francis had to be caught.
She rushed to the InfoTech hub- the top secret state of the art facility housed in the most unlikely place. Agent 021 was making bleating noises standing behind another agent (unknown to 011) who looked anything but happy to have him there.
“What’s the status 021?”
021 jumped – startled. “Oh they have just managed to start it up again – but it means a delay of half an hour”
011 cursed fluently under her breath. And then cursed some more. “We DO NOT have the luxury of half an hour. WHY THE beep-beep did you not do this earlier?” Turns to the other agent.” I am sorry – but maximum time we have is seven minutes.”
Joins 017 in pacing outside. 017 is still continuing his soliloquy on the utter incompetence of 021. 011 is almost tempted to poach a cigarette off him though she doesn’t smoke. No one warned her about the stress of joining an intelligence agency.
Whips out her communicator instead and tries to dial Francis. As luck will have it Francis is missing in action. Calls up his deputy and tells him about the delay. The deputy, who apparently has not been briefed about the documents, insists that Francis cannot be found and does not seem to realize the importance of getting the parcel to global headquarters on time.
011 jumps back inside. Unknown agent, fingers flying over the keyboard is trying to crash a half an hour process into a few minutes. Seven minutes come and go. 011 tries Francis again on the communicator. No luck. Contemplates calling Agent B but decides against it. By some magic unknown agent has managed to finish the work (in a record eleven minutes). Grabs the documents from him and sprints to the supersonic car. Agent 017 runs behind her and jumps into the front seat.
With a squeal of tires the car takes off. Again the road seems to have been destroyed in some mission. Desperately tries to get the location of Francis on GPRS. Ten minutes. Each moment is nerve-wracking. 017 is busy urging the driver to hurry. Driver sensibly points out that he cannot fly. 011 is taking deep breaths and calling upon the names of every God known to mankind to come to their aid.
Entry into the maze where Francis operations are conducted from. A labyrinth like place in pitch darkness. One lone man in the corner. 017 jumps out and runs to ask him the way.
Seven minutes later – both agents make a spectacularly hurried entrance (jumping from a moving car) into operations center. The time -11.57.
Ask for Francis. The deputy there looks at the disheveled agents and says “I think Francis has left”
Heart stopping moments for the agents. Then miraculously luck (FINALLY) decides to favor them. Francis himself walks out. Documents safely given to him. The time 11:59.
The world and the organization apparently will live to see another day.
(This was written about three years ago. To put it in context, this was for a Global new business pitch worth well LOTS of money by advertising standards. Agent 011, in addition to the sundry tasks in getting the country strategy in place had the all-important work of catching the 12 o clock courier (The elusive Mr. Francis) – as usual advertising people will ALWAYS work at the nth moment so getting the presentation and the films/recording to the courier was fraught with tension – apparently more than usually so – the resulting trauma led to this post)