A Number, Not a Name: part two

Chapter 2: Traveling to Krudia

Ms. Connors looked up from her computer as she heard Tasha walking past her desk “Have a nice day Tasha.”  

“Thank you, you as well Ms. Connors.” Tasha exited the room and stepped into the aisle where Jason was waiting. “So,” began Tasha as they started to walk down the aisle, “what are your thoughts about your first assignment?” 

“I’m really looking forward to it” Jason answered, “between you and me I’m a bit tired of typing up reports.” 

“I know what you mean. During my first few months here it seemed like I’d never get the chance to put my skills to use on an actual field assignment.” 

“So what’s your specialty?” Jason asked. 

“Several things actually. counterintelligence, codes, technology but my main specialty and first love is microbiology.” 

“Microbiology, that’s impressive. I’ve always admired people who could spend hours analyzing strands of DNA or studying microorganisms.”

 Tasha flashed a smile and responded, “Thank you. Lab work can be quite difficult at times but I have always enjoyed a good challenge. So, what about you? What do you specialize in?” 

“Like yourself, I specialize in a variety of things. Tech, weapons, encryption, counterintelligence” 

“You’re not too shabby yourself.” 

“Thanks” Jason responded as they reached the elevator. “Are you going down as well?” 

“Yes, I am,” Tasha replied. Jason then pressed the down button of the elevator, the doors opened, and the two of them walked inside. 

“Ground floor right?” Jason asked. 

“Yes, thank you.” Jason pressed the “1” button and the elevator began to descend to the first floor. The doors soon opened and they stepped out into the lobby. 

“How did you end up working for the agency?” Tasha asked as they made their way towards the front doors. 

“Well, you could say it sort of runs in the family. My father is a consultant here and I guess I took after him in that I’ve always been interested in this type of work. I also thought of it as a way to put my technology and coding skills to good use. Even more than that I’ve always wanted to be able to make, a difference in the lives of people and help make the world a better place. So right after college, I decided to apply for the NSA and two years later I finally heard back from them saying I had been accepted.” 

Tasha nodded understandingly. “What about you?” Jason asked as the automatic doors opened and he and Tasha stepped outside, “how did you end up here?” 

“Long story short I was working as an intern for a Professor Landon in the microbiology lab at Georgetown University,”  Tasha began as they came to a stop on the concrete pavement in front of the building, opposite the parking lot, “and as it happened the agency’s top executives were looking to recruit someone with my area of expertise so Professor Landon told them about me. And soon after that, I began working here.” Tasha paused for a second then resumed speaking. “I have to say I never imagined myself as an NSA agent but as soon as I started working here I instantly fell in love with it. The travel, excitement, and mystery of it all. Playing an important part in bringing the bad guys to justice. I can’t imagine myself working anywhere else.” 

“Who knows maybe one day I’ll feel the same way.” 

“I have a feeling that you will.” She said, a sincere look in her eyes. Tasha then raised her arm and quickly glanced at the time on her watch. 

“I’ve really enjoyed our conversation,” Tasha said, “but I’m afraid I must be going now.” 

“Sure…see you tomorrow Tasha.” 

“Goodbye Jason” Tasha replied before the two of them split up and walked towards their parked cars. 

…..

Jason and Tasha sat in the seating area of gate 16 at Washington Dulles airport. The sound of flight announcements, the clattering of shoes, and distant conversations filled the air. Tasha was reading an article in the latest issue of Journal of Applied Microbiology which she had purchased from an airport newsstand. Jason was absorbed in the latest issue of The Washington Post which he had picked up from the side table next to his chair. A voice soon boomed from the loudspeaker “Attention all passengers this is a boarding call for Air U.S.A flight AU1498 from Washington to Bulin. At this time we would like to board all first-class passengers or those that may require special assistance. Thank you for choosing Air U.S.A.” 

“Well, I guess that’s us,” Jason said as he placed the newspaper back on the table, grabbed his carry-on bag, and stood up from his chair. Tasha closed her journal, grabbed her carry-on bag, and stood up as well. The two of them then made their way to the gate where a member of the flight service personnel scanned their tickets. They then made their way down the passenger boarding bridge onto the airplane and walked down the aisle towards their seats.

To the outside view, they looked like normal passengers, even the contents of their luggage, such as pens and coat buttons, looked innocent enough to the observing eye. In actuality, the pens also contained a hidden knife and camera and the coat buttons were tracking devices. There was also a lock picking device and a gun located in the hidden compartment of their bags. They arrived at their seats 3A and 3B. Jason asked, “window or aisle.” 

“Window, please. I always prefer to have a view.” 

“Sure. Here let me take your bag” Jason offered as he reached for the handle. 

“Thank you,” Tasha said as she gave her bag to Jason and then took her seat next to the window. Jason put their luggage in the overhead compartment and then took his seat next to Tasha. Once everyone had finished boarding the plane the flight attendants reviewed all the safety regulations and then prepared the cabin for takeoff. After they had finished the plane taxied down the runway and took off. 

“No way!” Jason exclaimed as he glanced at the screen located in the back of the chair in front of him. 

“What is it?” Tasha asked as she looked up from the journal she was reading.

 “They’re showing Return of the Samurai. I’ve been dying to see it, the first film was so awesome!” Jason gleefully grinned. 

“Let me guess your favorite film genre is action-adventure,” Tasha said with a playful smile on her face. 

“It’s only the best one. So what about you? Which genre is your favorite?  

“I like all film genres but overall I prefer documentaries over movies.”  

“That makes sense considering your choice of reading material” He responded, glancing at the journal in her hand. 

“These journals happen to be very informative and even interesting.” 

“Oh, really” Jason replied, obviously disagreeing with Tasha’s opinion. 

“Yes, take this passage for example ‘recent studies have shown that the external mucosal barriers of teleost fish play a vital role as a primary defense line against infection.’” 

“Fascinating…but ah…Return of the Samurai is still more entertaining.” 

“I’m sure it is,” she responded sarcastically. The two of them then settled in on the flight, Tasha concentrating on her microbiology journal and Jason fully immersed in Return of the Samurai. Once they were finished, they spent the next hours either chatting or sleeping as the plane made its way across the Atlantic; traveling ever closer to Bulin.

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