And He Shall AppearMature

Prague, 2014

“Get me Matthews,” said the man in the grey designer suit. He took the escalator down, waiting with a phone pressed to his ear.

When he heard a new voice on the line, he was just stepping off the moving stairs. “Joseph? Where are you?”

“Sir, I called as soon as I arrived.”

“At Václav Havel?”

“Yes, I’m at the departures gate now, looking for Laurent.”

“Well tell me when you find him.”

“Will do, sir— speak of the devil, there he is.”

Joseph saw the paranoid man passing through the security checkpoint.

“I’ll call you when it’s done.”

Joseph hung up, his confident eyes barely straying from his target: a Frenchman.He hurried over to meet him.

Monsieur?”

Laurent turned to see Joseph on the concourse, stretching out his hand. He put his coat on, and nervously placed his palm in the stranger’s.

Est-ce que je peux aider?”

Oui, parlez Anglais?”

“Yes,” replied Laurent.

With a nearly vacant expression, and cavalier delivery, Joseph answered, “I’d like to speak with you about your employer’s connection to Byzantine.”

Sweat dripped down the back of his neck, as Laurent nearly exploded with panic when he heard the words. Immediately he led Joseph somewhere they could speak privately.

“How did you find me?” Laurent thundered under his breath.

“It’s irrelevant, M. Laurent, just remain calm. What matters is: you have a leak.”

Had. I took care of it,” Laurent defended.

“Your agent at the DGSE, yes?”

Oui.”

Hmm,” said Joseph feigning worry, “Well, someone has leaked information to the Americans. This would suggest that you still have a problem.”

“The CIA?”

“Yes, Laurent. Some contractor for the CIA leaked the information. One Hank Carson I believe. And he got it from someone working in the south of France,” Joseph lied.

Laurent stated his agent’s name aloud in disbelief, “Élodie?”

Joseph nodded slightly.

“Then why are you here? Why does the CIA care?”

At this, Joseph chuckled, “Who said I was CIA?”

Laurent looked puzzled. Then he turned his head about to make sure they were still quite alone, and they were. Laurent pressed again, “Well who the hell are you then, and why do you care?”

“Oh I’m sorry, I’m Joseph. I work for Acquisitions.”

“Joseph who?”

“Joseph is fine for now. We’re not in bed together just yet.”

“Is that what you want?”

“Sure. But we want to make sure that your boss likes what we like. And we want to make sure he does what he’s told. The two of you can do what you're told, right?”

“So this is a ‘shake-down’?”

“You can call it blackmail if that's what you want. If it makes you feel better. I’m telling you that you have a problem. And that I have a solution.”

“Why should I believe a word you say?”

“The difference between my organisation and the CIA, is that they haven’t made the connection to Byzantine and your boss yet. And they don’t like M. Flynn’s politics very much.”

Laurent was still sweating like a pig, but now he resigned a sigh of defeat. He peered around the terminal again, to see the coast was clear.

“Okay, Joseph. I have a problem, what’s your solution?”

“Just tell me your agent’s address here in Prague, and I'll take care of it.”

Laurent did as he was told, and signed his agent’s death warrant.

“It was a pleasure doing business with you Monsieur Laurent. We’ll be in touch.”

As Joseph was rising from the bench, Laurent added, “Oh… she mentioned that she was being followed. And she said she took care of one individual. But I suppose that doesn’t matter since she’s a traitor.”

Joseph was taken aback by this development. And only now he was aware that the CIA was so close. He realised he might have to stay in Prague longer than he intended. However, he smiled and lied again to Laurent, “Yes. It’s probably nothing. À bientôt.”

He excused himself, and put distance between the Frenchman before he pulled his phone out again. First came the dial tone, and then the friendly “Hello, Rockhart Acquisitions. How may I direct your call?”

Hiding his anger, and looking for the nearest fire exit, Joseph growled, “Get me Matthews.”

The End

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