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Stories from the Verse
Chapter 76: Brown 132
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 75: Kondor 115
As Derek started becoming familiar with the layout of the embassy and with his own responsibilities within it, he also began to wonder how he was expected to complete his mission. Of course, the answer to that was always the same: he was to figure out how to do it, using whatever techniques he could, because the regular methods weren’t working. However, he realized that he did not know exactly what he was seeking. He wasn’t going to see information leaving the building, or at least, it was unlikely that he would see such a thing. He was going to have to work from the perspective of the people: who was doing it? The way to reach that answer, he thought, was probably to figure out why. Thus the first question was, why would anyone leak secret information to an enemy country?
The first answer that came to him was money. Several other possibilities came to him immediately, but he decided he should think this one through before tackling them. Someone might be being paid to deliver secrets. That, though, would mean that there was money somewhere, and it probably had to be a fair amount or it would not be worth the risk. The money would have to be cash, because anything else would show up in even a cursory financial investigation, and that raised the question of what was happening to the cash. If it went into a British bank, C would almost certainly know already; even if somehow it was getting back to England to a family member, that would be traced. It could go into a Romanian bank, but the Romanian government controlled their banks so that would be a terribly foolish risk--he might save a million dollars (or whatever currency they used) and then one day find that it had been confiscated by the people who had paid him, because he was no longer of any use to them and they wanted their money back. No, either they were storing a large quantity of cash here in the embassy--unlikely--or it was someone who made regular diplomatic trips to a neutral country, such as Switzerland, where a secret account could be maintained. That was a possibility; that was the most likely answer if it were being done for money.
The reverse of money, though, was blackmail. It might be that someone had a secret, and the enemy knew it and threatened to reveal it. It would have to be a pretty dark secret, though. After all, once they passed information, they would have two secrets, and the second one could get them killed for espionage. Still, sometimes people weren’t very good at estimating the value of their secrets; someone having an affair might think it worth trading government secrets to prevent a wife or husband from learning of it. It was a possibility.
That opened the possibility of what might be an inadvertent leak: someone was having an affair, or had a close friendship, or perhaps indulged in some secret vice, which put him, or perhaps more to the point his secret papers, in a position to be rifled by someone he trusted. That would be difficult to check; such a person would not even know he was the leak, and certainly would not be doing it intentionally.
Intentionally--it might be political, that someone in the embassy was actually working for the other side. That was undoubtedly the fear, that there was an infiltrator or double agent here.
That was a lot of possibilities. He did not know whether that was all of them, but for the moment it was more than enough for a start. He still wasn’t sure how he would find anyone who fit any of those categories, but at least he now had some ideas of what he might be trying to find.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twenty other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #243: Verser Redirects. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: