The next morning, once Stalker arrived, Eric launched an outbound call on his secure international line to Zurich.
A friendly male voice answered, “Eric, what a pleasant surprise. I always enjoy hearing from friends associated with my favorite three letter agency. How can I be of service, kind sir?”
Eric almost smiled as he greeted, “Good afternoon, Otto. I trust you and your organization are doing well and are profitable. Do you have time to visit on another assignment? I need some colossal brain computing power to augment my brawny top agent in a new game of cat and mouse.”
Otto grinned and asked, “Ah, would this be about the think-tank report on falling commodity prices which are being artificially manipulated?”
Eric sat blinking, almost unable to respond, while he listened to Otto lightly chuckling on the phone.
Finally, Eric admitted, “Otto, I guess I should not be surprised that you have already accessed my source of information, but I am annoyed. You could at least have pretended to be intrigued by the potential of a new assignment.”
Otto, still smiling but removing the tone from his voice, offered, “But, Eric, you contract with us because we have our finger on the pulse of what is important. Who would need us if we were constantly behind on our intelligence gathering? Of course a new assignment with you would be welcomed.”
Half smiling and half annoyed, Eric responded, “Okay, point taken. I need you to assist Stalker in his assignment. He has national security clearance, and you have the digital intelligence to help point him in the right direction. I have him here with me so the two of you can begin the process. Our regular terms, I assume?”
Stalker leaned into the conference phone and remarked, “Good day, sir. I am glad to be working with your team again. May I use the special cell phone for our communications, per Eric’s instruction?”
Otto agreed, “Yes, when do you want to begin the discussion on the DMOs?”
Eric and Stalker looked at each other in silent awe of Otto’s foreknowledge of the situation.
Then Stalker, not missing a beat, asked, “How about now?”
Otto smiled to himself and offered, “Let me round up my usual suspects and call you back on this number. I believe it will take me thirty-eight minutes. That should give you time to freshen up your coffee and procure some fresh raspberry jelly filled donuts. Talk soon, gentlemen.”
After Otto had dropped from the call, both Eric and Stalker eyed each other.
Stalker promised, “I swear there are no electronic listening devices in here. I had it rechecked.”
Eric sighed and admitted, “This is why I call them.”
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