This is a continuation of another short story titled: Odd Job. I suggest reading that, before reading this. I hope you enjoy. Comments are appreciated!
October 24, 2015
Incidents of espionage have been well documented throughout history. The ancient writings of Chinese and Indian military strategists such as Sun-Tzu and Chanakya contain information on deception and subversion. Chanakya's student Chandragupta Maurya, founder of the Maurya Empire, made use of assassinations and spies. The ancient Egyptians had a throughly developed system for the acquisition of intelligence. Feudal Japan often used ninjas to gather intelligence. All methods were used to obtain information using nothing more than humans and specific tools. When the ability to communicate from one source to another was used by morse code, radio, phone, computer, etc, humans were no longer essential for collecting intelligence. Thus spies became obsolete for a period of time. During the WWI, WWII, The Cold War, and Vietnam, countries relied on obtaining information by the means of intercepting coded documents, data, reports—any input that's traveling through the highway of communications between two factions. Once the means of advanced security became relevant, countries and groups could no longer collect the intel by using complex machines to decipher and decode the input that would travel through mainframes. Since then the custom of human spies that were once formally useless are now crucial.
It is of this, a new generation that had the NSA form the operation: The Third Converge. The First Converge was established soon after the birth of The United States. Its purpose was to gather info on other countries and groups. The fashion was using men and women to access and infiltrate certain faction groups to be aware of their purposes to protect the country and its citizens. The Second Converge was created to replace the first. The Second Converge used machines and components to keep tabs and monitor factions remotely. These times were easier to gather intel and much quicker since no humans were longer needed to penetrate countries or factions. With firewalls and super computers, it now was the time of The Third Converge. Humans were now needed again to gather important intel. In the frame of The Third Converge, Shadow Assets were the new breed of spies.
With all the high tech gadgets, weaponry, and tactics, the rudimentary technique of spying has been extravagantly changed. The Third Converge supplies everything needed to their Assets. Each Asset has their own field operative to help them in situations like hacking into a computer, or giving simple directions when needed. All this is done remotely. The field operative is normally near the Assets in a van, but it's been notably dangerous to bring a field operative. Field operatives now stay in Washington, the NSA headquarters. It's much safer in case the Assets need to leave an area quickly and quietly. Assets are experienced men and women in the art of acrobatics, weaponry, and hand to hand combat, but are professional at evasion, stealth and interrogation. Assets are recruited from all special organizations in government. Only some can become an Asset. It requires patience, hard work, and extreme discipline. An Asset is alone on a mission and will be abandoned if they are captured, so the United States is not held responsible for a spy in another country. After being recruited, Assets go through extensive training in which they learn to be able to respond to any situation immediately with precise execution. They have to be able to react to anything accordingly. Once, Assets regularly operated solo missions, recently though Assets have been working in pairs for complicated missions. These Assets are the muscle for the new espionage era. This is exactly what he is, a Shadow Asset.
Nearing Phoenix International Airport, he is excited to touch ground. It's been a long day. At touch down he exits the plane. The time it took to get off was not so bad as the others. It was a small flight. Walking up the ramp to reach the terminal he can't help but passively listen to the people around him. Training has taught him to always observe and be astute. The two girls close to him are discussing plans for their vacation. They talk amongst themselves deciding they should acquire some attractive male attention during their visit. This brings him to actively listen and he succeeds very noticeably. The two girls look right at him and smile. Giggling, they head away from him turning around to get another look at the handsome man. He can't help but blush slightly. They notice and start giggling again. He stops walking in the terminal and just stares at the departing girls. For a 25 year old man he is doing well for himself when it comes to women. Nothing serious and nothing extravagant.
Heading into the bathroom to drain his bladder he stops and looks himself in the mirror. With light blue eyes, brown hair, a structured face with a cleft in his chin, he was always told he was handsome with traditional good looks. It always helped too that he is in the best shape in his life. He is not huge with muscle, but toned. After taking a leak and washing his hands he decides to fix his hair. His hair was pretty short, spiked up in the front.
He walks out of the bathroom and heads down the hall toward baggage claim. Watching all the people preoccupied with their affairs bores him. All of them on their phones, listening to their iPods, selfishly concerned about their next dilemma. Clueless to the true aspects in life, absorbed in their day by day life of small luxuries. Pure ignorance seems to bring them happiness. By no means is he unhappy, but sometimes a simple life seems to be an easier one.
The baggage conveyor belts starts spitting out the bags and everyone begins crowding around it waiting to spot their bag, grab it and leave. When waiting for his bag, a visibly shorter man approaches.
"Can I see your passport or ID please?" the short man asks.
It is an airport security officer asking. He is annoyed with the question, maybe he is tired, or it could be that he is anxious to get home and any attempt to delay that wish would bother him. Is he acting suspiciously? He is in dark clothing, but still his actions were not peculiar in any sort. He wants this confrontation over with so without a word he gets out his passport and hands it over.
Taking the passport the security man looks at it, then up at him. The security officer tries to pronounce his first name. "Ala... Ela..."
"ăl'əmĕth. Al for short," states Alemeth looking directly into the other man's eyes.
"Did I do something wrong, Officer?" Al continues.
"No, Sir," replies the airport security. "Random checks, part of the job. You must understand, I mean nothing by it. Have a good day, sir." With that the security man hands over the passport and departs. Odd, Al thinks, but after watching the officer a little longer Al notices he's asking a couple the same question. Alemeth was Al's real name, but many people can't pronounce it correctly and Al is shorter and less garish.
After getting his baggage, he walks to the long term parking garage, gets in his truck and travels on the I-10 east. Taking the 202 east he is on his way to Val Vista. Twenty-five minutes later he is pulling into his driveway. Al gets out, locks his truck and enters the home he bought when the housing market was at its lowest. He got an even better deal since he was enlisted in the military. A low percent on a 250,000 dollar house. About five years ago the valley built more houses than were needed. The supply did not meet the demand. Thus the rates were low to compensate for the low demand. So thanks to that he has a great house. He could have gotten a bigger one, but who is he trying to impress? No need to go overboard. Plus he wanted to save his money. After eating he gets himself up to his room and on the bed. Before he knows it he is out like light.
Late afternoon is advancing when Al wakes. Three o'clock glows red on the radio. Al got gets up, takes a quick shower, and gets dressed in loose clothing. Today is beautiful. Spring is a good time in Arizona—not too hot, but always sunny. In the kitchen Al makes his protein shake for later and puts the thick liquid in a container, then puts that container in the fridge. With a yawn and stretch Al grabs a skillet, cracks some eggs, and starts to make a omelet. A delicious omelet with shredded cheese, bacon, green peppers, the works. He will need the energy for later when Al travels to a nearby gym for a lesson of self defense. It's a style of Judo mixed with Krav-Maga. His teacher is a beautiful woman named Elina. She is an energetic girl, still young like Al, but has mastered many things in a short time.
From what she's told Al, Elina was born in Houston. Her parents own many businesses, including a gym. When she was very young she was taught many fighting styles by the instructor at that gym. She progressed fast in her training, learning many types of self defense techniques. She won many competitions in her time and still competes. She moved to Scottsdale and attended ASU. When she graduated majoring in business, she decided to open a gym in Gilbert. She has been doing this for some time now. She's always happy and seems to enjoy life.
When he first met her, there seemed to be good chemistry between them. She always seemed to flirt with him, but he would discard it thinking it was just how she was. This was a ongoing thing with them. There would be subtle hints of an attraction on her part, but he wasn't sure sometimes. Of course he is attracted to her. She's 5'6" and weighs 110 pounds. Very thin, healthy body. She is in the middle of toned and skinny. With her marvelous blond hair, alluring green eyes, stunning facial features, she is one of the most ravishing women he has ever laid eyes on. Their relationship has been nothing more than a friendship. They have gotten coffee together a couple times and even went out to dinner once. The hints seemed to be there concerning the allurement that she has toward Al. He would always laugh it off or say something to release the tension. Sometimes she would show that she was displeased with him ignoring the compliments. He will see her today and he is anxious to get to class.
Eating in his living room, Al turns on the TV. He changes the channel to a news station and catches up on local events and past reports. Nothing worth remembering, he thinks. After he is done eating and cleaning up the small mess, Al gets his bag and towel.
He walks to the garage, opens the door and gets inside his truck. He is driving on the main road, Pecos, heading east. Once he gets to Higley he makes a right to travel south. Five minutes later he is pulling into the parking lot of the gym. Not many people are here. Getting out of the truck, Al goes to the front door. Opening the door Al is greeted by a rush of cool air. Looking around he notices there are a few people inside using the workout equipment.
"Hey there Al, you here for class?"
A trainer that Elina hired to help around the gym is asking Al this question. His name is John. He is a physical guru. Only eats organic foods, always works out and exercises. As fit as he is he isn't very astute. Nothing bad, just not as keen as others. Still he is a nice guy and is extremely polite.
"Yep, sure am. What room is it in today?" Al decides to keep the small talk going.
"Oh it's in room two, Elina is already in there. You're pretty early, there isn't anyone here yet for class but you."
"Yeah well I didn't have anything else planned so I decided to get here early. I'm just going to get in there and start stretching. It's good to see you John. Have a good one. See ya later."
"Yep you too Al, take it easy."
Entering room number two Al is welcomed by the pleasant Elina.
"Good afternoon Alemeth, how are you doing today?" Elina asks with a smile. Al responds in kind saying it is good to see her again.
"I've been doing good. How have things been?"
"It's good, very good. I haven't seen you in a while. Has it been busy at work?"
Al told her he worked as a government agent whose job is to travel to United States embassies in other countries to adjust their functions so the embassy works more efficiently and organized.
"Yeah it has, traveled to France again. Twice in six months. If they don't get their act together I'm sure some jobs will be lost. How about you?"
"It's been busy. More and more people sign up for classes and memberships for the equipment. So how come you're here so early? Missed me?"
She says this with another smile, this one is different though. It might be wishful thinking, but what if this woman was coming onto him? She is very good looking, a natural beauty. If this girl is flirting right now, Al didn't know it yet. He normally picks up on this, but this girl is very different than others. She is very special in that he has respect for her and would never want to rush into anything. If he was to press the matter and perhaps be a little suggestive and he was turned down their relationship won't be the same. He likes her so Al will wait until the flirting is absolutely obvious.
"Sure I did, can't get the training any other place," Al says this to keep it professional and see her response. Her smile fades a little. Did Al also notice disappointment, discouragement?
"Well, I'm glad to see you back. Let's have a good session and start stretching shall we?"
"So have you gotten yourself a girlfriend since the last time we saw each other?"
There it is again, Al thinks to himself. That smile, the tone, body movement, flick of her hair, posture, hips. All the signals being displayed. Is this wishful thinking? With all the training in observation and the natural instinct he has at reconnaissance and reading people, he can not understand if he is looking into this too much. Stop and relax, he tells himself. He will open up and embrace his gift of discernment.
"No, I haven't got one. How about you Elina, do you have a boyfriend?" he looks at her and notices that his answer is not the one she wants. He didn't put much detail into his answer.
"No, I don't have one either. I haven't found a man that is good enough. I need one who knows how to handle himself and a woman like me. These guys today aren't real gentlemen. Not like they used to be, not like you."
There it is, clear as day. Point blank. He knows it. Or does he? Damn, he thinks to himself. Is that just a compliment, or more? This is impossible and ridiculous. He is a spy and one of the best in the agency. He's able to interrogate anyone and know from tone of voice and pulse fluctuation if the person is lying or not. He is able to observe human behavior in such a way that he scared his trainer back when he was learning to become a spy. All of this and he can't decode the basic human behavior of a woman. Then again, they are just as complicated as men. Pay attention, he thinks to himself.
Right when he is going to say something, the door into the class room swings open and people started to enter. The session is going to start soon and his classmates are starting to get to class. His timing couldn't have been worse. Great, he thinks to himself. With that last thought, class starts.
The session is working well, until Elina tells the class to partner up for the next exercise. Elina asks Al to be her partner. Al agrees and waits for instructions. The purpose of this exercise is to disable your opponent and get him or her on the ground. Easy enough, Al thinks. Would he be disabling Elina or her him? They stand face to face. She asks the class to watch her and Al perform the action.
Then, without warning, Elina quickly approaches Al using her left hand to grab his right forearm. Al tries a basic counter that will have him twisting around, grabbing her left arm with his right hand and then applying pressure on the elbow, but she's agile and has the element of surprise. She gets close to Al, turning her back to him. Still holding his forearm, she uses her right leg and brings it back so it is in between his legs. Using her momentum and her foot that is throwing him off balance, she throws him over on her right side. He falls on his back with a hard thump. The mat eases his fall, but the sound is loud. She asks everyone to follow suit. Al gets up and listens to her explain the move, showing the importance of using a leg in between their opponent's legs so the opponent can't gain balance after being thrown over the right hip. After the instructions she tells them to proceed on each other switching from thrower to the thrown.
"Okay Al, your turn. Will you be able to get me on the ground?"
Her voice is taunting. What is she trying to do, embarrass him in front of the class? But for what? Just as she did, he attacks with no warning. He grabs her right arm with his left hand. He turns his back to her and brings up his leg in between hers.
She knows this move very well. Hell, she was the one to offer it to the class. So she's able to counter this easily. Once he brings his back to her and is going to put his leg in between hers, she puts her left hand on his back where his shoulder connects to his arm. While doing that she twists her right arm quickly. His grip releases and she grabs his right arm. She brings him to the ground by applying pressure on his arm. She gets him to the ground, puts her knee on his back and uses her weight to keep him on the ground, not that he would move since his arm was being bent in a way that would break it if she administered more pressure. She gets close to his ear and whispers very quietly,
"Whats wrong Al? Can't decide whether to get in between my legs or not?"
"What?" Al replies back, half confused, half embarrassed.
"Come on, you hesitated when putting your legs in between mine. What's on your mind? You seem distracted. Is something confusing you . . . Al?"
These words are being processed by Al in a number of different ways. He wonders what the meaning is. Is she being blatant with him, or using the cover of the exercise to tell him something? Hesitate on what? The current exercise or with her, not acting on her hints and flirtatious behavior? Confused on the Judo move or on her? Confused on her approaches toward him? Is he really clueless to this or is he acting innocent and ignorant? If so, why? Why is he so (for lack of a better term) nervous about this interest between them? Great, what should he say now? Innocent he decides, that's what it is, he's acting innocent to her. Her tone is different. It's like a challenge or perhaps she's acting like him, oblivious. She's playing innocent now. Revealing that she knows his shyness.
"Yeah, I guess so." That's all he manages to mumble. He tries not to look so dismayed.
"Well, pay attention to what's happening around you," she tells him, "You don't have to over analyze everything. Some things are pretty simple to understand Al." She speaks with a tone that signifies that she knows what Al is contemplating.
"Maybe I've been a little stubborn toward some obvious actions."
"I would say so," she says matter-of-factly. The smile returns to her. Now he has to do something. He just announced to her that he has been a little reserved. Well, more than a little.
"How about we have dinner tonight?"
"That sounds good, but only if we eat at your place. I'll bring over some food and cook us something nice. How does that sound? You still live off Skyline right?"
Wow, he thinks to himself, "Yeah that would be great, and yep I'm still off Skyline. Do you need directions?"
"I will, after class though. For now let us continue. Place your feet here when performing the attack Al." She says this as she shows him what she means. He can not concentrate very well though. As he mimicks her moves and follows her steps his mind dwells on tonight. What will happen? he wonders. Not the time, he tells himself. He won't worry himself over tonight's dinner. He needs to relax, that's all. He has been overworked in his job and needs to wind down.