20 March 2020

Coronavirus Invasion Nea Ionia Lockdown Day #2

Today has been a mentally gruelling and frustrating experience. The Centre requires field agents, while not on a mission, to participate in the training of new or prospective recruits at the base. My partner and myself were assigned a young prospective agent and made him go through some of the hoops of our trade. Exercises included foreign languages, pattern recognition, friend or foe identification and of course physical training. Part of the physical training was done at the base while some of it was done outside, as a field exercise.

The agent proved to be not very receptive to the training. I fear what will come if he is to be used in a mission. Youth is of course impatient and this can be a very serious issue in the field. The future agent showed however excellent physical stamina and a good capacity at identifying the enemy and reporting it. Foreign languages are in particular a useful skill for any secret agent. While this recruit is showing great potential with these, his distinct lack of dedication and effort in this matter could be a hindrance. Natural ability can't always replace hard work, I'm told.

Anyway, the filed exercise proved to be a relief. The agent was enthusiastic and energetic. My only concern is that his overly competitive nature might lead him to take more risks than absolutely necessary. This line of work also requires humility...

18 March 2020

Coronavirus Invasion Nea Ionia Lockdown Day #1

The city streets are empty and I drive the car in near silence, passing the rare open shops who braved the curfew and the few masked silhouettes hiding from the invisible attacker. My mission: buy additional ammunition from an undercover friendly supplier and deliver these plus two mysterious packages in a blind drop to my agent. Masked and gloved, I sneak pass along militians who've arrested some unfortunate Roma motorist, under suspicion of helping the invaders. The "fifth column" is already here!

I reach the first rendez-vous point, an underground shop in an undescript building. The grid is down and I park my car at a safe distance to avoid risks of identification. The owner, a middle aged lady, is now lifting the grid, giving surreptitious looks on both sides. A stranger approaches and exchanges a few words. I pretend I'm not there, since I don't really belong. The stranger hovers around and I don't like this. Her lack of mask or gloves makes her stand out. I decide to come in anyway. I give the password: "Do you have chick peas?" - "Yes of course", the owner answers. She points at a lower shelve, hidden from view on the left side. I take two clips of ammo and head for the counter where the owner stands, now masked as well. She looks at me with an understanding gaze: "It will be 340, cash of course, small notes". Then she smiles: "I recognize you, you're agent X". Damn! I've been made! How long am I going to go like this if I'm burned on the first day, even masked? I blurt some excuses and leave the shop for the dead drop, my clips safely in one of the bags.

The system is simple: I ring the bell, give the code phrase. My agent answers. She is a kind old lady and can't hear very well. Or maybe it's the mask and the interphone... I don't know. I identify myself and she eventually opens. I enter the cold hall and get up the stairs to the lift. Everything is empty, as it should. Too easy? I open the lift door, drop my bags on the floor and push the 5 button before jumping out. The lift door closes by itself and I see the numbers changing on the hall screen: 1... 4... 5 and stop! I hear the door lift upstairs opening and closing. Someone (my agent, I hope) has dropped something in the lift and pushed the 0 button. Thirty seconds later, I open the door to find a black wallet, slightly dusty. I grab it and leave as fast as i can without drawing attention. I'm back to base in no time...