Sounds good so far....
I had a cushy assignment in the financial district of beautiful San Francisco. I had been inserted into the headquarters of a big bank to keep tabs on an up and coming young banker that we suspected of laundering money for terrorist organizations. Actually, “suspected” is inaccurate, we knew what he was doing but I was assigned to him to figure out whom he was working with etc.
I couldn’t have been happier. I had an analyst in Langley do all the work at the bank that I was being paid $125k a year to do; he would just send me emails with everything attached. I had the target’s phone, various email accounts, snail male, office, apartment, car, and I had befriended him. I mean it was routine. I got the operation up and running and just sat back and let the information flow in. We could have arrested him 6 months ago. Although to be honest he would have been fortunate to be just arrested, chances were that he probably had other things to look forward to. He was screwed and had no idea. I almost felt bad for him, there was something endearing about him, but this was the path he choose, avarice is a hazardous trait.
Anyways, I was enjoying lunch with one of my many beautiful female colleagues when I got the text message that would ultimately change my life.
“ MEET ME AT (NAME OF LINC’S FRIENDS BAR) AT 22:00 TONIGHT.”
It was from Penkower, my superior. What was he doing in San Francisco? I approached the entrance to the bar and noticed two “dudes” standing in front. I took note of the fact that they never even glanced at me. A normal person will give you a look to check you out as you approach, even if they don’t make eye contact, at a minimum they size you up from a distance. These guys didn’t do that. They were agents, it takes one to know one, and they watched me without looking. Who knows what they were doing, maybe they were Penkower’s security detail, one way or another I knew something big was going down.
I entered and found Penkower sitting ominously at a table near the back of the bar.
“Have a seat.”
No hand shake or smile, just a terse instruction.
“Whats up? What are you doing out here?”
“Listen, we are pulling you out of the bank and are going to try to get you in somewhere else.”
“Why? Where do you want me to go?”
“ We want to insert you into a new Neurobiology research center at UCSF.”
My heart sank. Great, I was going to be trading my suit and building full of beautiful women for a lab coat and awkward Neuroscientists with limited social skills. He could tell I was disappointed.
“ Listen I know you like your assignment, but this is bigger than you could possibly imagine. This operation has profound implications for national security.”
“Then why are you putting me on it?”
I was a junior officer, I had only been n the agency for three years.
“You’re the only one who has a chance of passing the interview, how many other Neurobiologists do you know in the agency?”
Its amazing, despite all the power and influence the agency had, we still had to perform well in interviews. I spent 4 years getting my PhD before realizing that a life in the laboratory was too mundane for my taste, so I joined the agency after graduating.
He handed me a thick folder, which contained the new me. New name, new Ids, new apartment, new social security number, and of course a new resume. According to the resume I had received my graduate training at the Harvard school of medicine and I was a prolific author on the Neuroscience of cognition. I didn’t ask, but I’m sure my new name was on the books at Harvard and the various journals in which I had been published. The envelope also contained the 250-page PhD thesis I had supposedly written. It was titled “ The Role of Hippocampal PKC epsilon and GABA-A receptor Interaction in Cognitive Enhancement.” I understood, I knew the language at least, and just reading the title brought feelings of the past rushing back.
“I need you to resign at the bank tomorrow morning and start getting ready for the interview, it will be a week from tomorrow. Make sure you read up on this guys research, you will be interviewing with him, the position is in his lab.”
He handed me a second folder, which contained a full agency “work up” on Dr. Tringgle and copies of all of his publications.
“I need more time. I mean I haven’t looked at this stuff in years and now you want me to become an expert on research that I didn’t do, and know this guys stuff in and out in one week?” I need at least two weeks.”
“Can’t be done. We are working under critical time constraints.”
I looked at him in disbelief.
“Fine. What is the objective? What is this all about?”
“I can’t tell you that right now.”
“What are you talking about?”
“The mission is extremely sensitive, like I said it is bigger than you can imagine. There is a chance that you will not pass the interview, and I can’t risk giving information about the mission to a person that may not need it. If you get hired you will be fully briefed.”
He stood up and walked away without saying goodbye, leaving me sitting alone in disbelief. The day had started innocuously enough, but now I was knee deep in Neuroscience and thrust onto a mission I did not understand. I drove home trying to come to terms with everything, having no idea how naive I actually was.
I spent the next week at coffee shops and libraries pouring over my fictious research and Dr. Triggles work. Neural plasticity, allostaric inhibition of GABA-A receptors, striatal cell cultures, ligand binding affinity for metabatropic glutamate receptors, kinase cascades, I could go on and on. It was driving me nuts. I missed the bank already.
To say Dr. Triggles was a distinguished scholar would be a vast understatement. He was an “Endowed Chairman of Neurology” at the school of medicine at UCSF, which is academic banter for “bad ass.” He only published in the premier journals and he had hundreds of publications. His research was focused on the pharmacological enhancement of cognition. In other words he had been trying to develop drugs that improved memory and reasoning skills etc. Interestingly, he had published a paper about every 6 months for 25 years, but he had not published anything in the last two years. Strange.
Also of note, in the early eighties he had worked in conjunction with the Department of Defense to develop “go pills” for the Air Force. Go pills are essentially amphetamine in the form of a pill. The Air Force wanted a drug to keep their bomber pilots alert and awake when they were on long missions. The bulk of the United States strategic bomber fleet is based in the heartland of the continental United States to protect these valuable assets from preemptive strikes. Accordingly, if the heavy bombers are called on to perform a mission in say the Middle East, the pilots must depart Montana, fly to the target, deliver the weapons, and return to base. The trip can take over 24 hours and requires several delicate mid-air refueling operations. Despite their grandeur, air force pilots are fallible and they were falling asleep on these missions. Hence the development of go pills.
Anyways, I prepared as best I could for the interview and headed up to the North Bay for the interview. Apparently, Dr. Triggles worked at a satellite campus of UCSF that was based way up in Sonoma. I was leaving the happening financial district for cow country.
I was shocked when I arrived. The place was in the middle of nowhere and looked more like a compound than a research campus. The place was enclosed in high, barbed wired, chain link fences and two armed guards were stationed at the entrance. The security was ridiculous: the armed guards at the gate, more in the lobby, an x-ray machine, they searched my briefcase, and I had to go through a labyrinth of checkpoints just to get to the conference room where I was to meet Dr. tringgles for my interview. What the hell were they doing in here?
I pondered the question and sat nervously waiting for my interview to begin.
Sounds good so far....
There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)