Chapter Five: The New Partner
The early morning sun peeked through the clouds as he made his way across the tarmac towards the sleek, private jet that awaited him. The chill wind nipped at his face, a sharp reminder of the task ahead. It was a long journey from Portland to his destination, and he was all too aware that this was merely the beginning of a much longer odyssey.
As he approached the jet, he noted the figure waiting for him at the bottom of the stairs. A young woman, her posture straight and her gaze focused. Her dark hair was pulled back into a tight ponytail, and her sharp eyes surveyed him with an intensity that matched his own.
“You must be the new partner,” he said, meeting her gaze without flinching. He had been informed about the young field agent assigned to assist him. Another surprise in a day full of them.
“Yes,” she replied, extending a hand. Her grip was firm, her handshake confident. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”
“All good, I hope,” he said, a wry smile on his face. He had no illusions about his reputation in the agency. He was a relic from a bygone era, a reminder of a time when espionage was more about instincts and less about technology.
“Mostly,” she said, the corner of her mouth lifting in a half-smile. “You’re a bit of a legend.”
“A living fossil is more like it,” he retorted. Her laugh was genuine, a clear, bright sound that cut through the morning chill.
As they settled into their seats in the cabin, he looked over at her. She was young, perhaps mid-twenties, but there was a certain hardness in her eyes, a maturity that belied her age. He knew that look. It was the same one he saw in the mirror every morning.
“Are you ready for this?” he asked, his voice barely above a whisper. He had seen too many young agents throw themselves into the world of espionage, only to be chewed up and spat out by the harsh realities of their profession.
“Are you?” she shot back, her gaze unwavering. He couldn’t help but smile at that. Maybe she had what it took after all.
The flight was long and tiring, filled with briefings and reports. She was attentive, absorbing every detail with a fierce…