He wondered how the hell they had found him. It must have been his business contact, Mark Z. He should never have trusted Mark. He should have known better. There is something about information exchange that is just inherently risky, especially with information of this caliber.
They had met through a mutual acquaintance at the Austrian embassy. Mark had a huge list of contacts, along with all of their personal, contact, photos and location information. The list was for sale to the highest bidder. From agency contacts to double agents and their family members, this was THE list of lists.
Their meeting had been coordinated cryptically though a mutual Yugoslavian contact. The “list” was a subset of Mark Z’s master list, but this was the cream of the crop, and well worth the $5 million. To have obtained all of the contact information, photos and history of the upper echelon of world spies was a complete faux pas. This was going to be his last big transaction. Once the information and money changed hands, he was going to be in the final stretch and could drop out of the crazy, unpredictable life he was living.
He missed his wife and boy. Recently, he had been thinking of them more often. He wanted out and this deal was going to be his way out. He would know more about every person in every agency around the world than they knew about their own employees. With that type of information and leverage, he and his family would be guaranteed a protected life.
“R U there” popped the message on his laptop. It was from Mark Z, the Austrian agent. “Y” was his quick reply. They kept their correspondences short so that the bits would get lost in the huge data stream. He pulled up the social map and saw that the agent was writing near-by.
“GR8” came the reply from Mark – Great
“N2 M121” he wrote – Need to meet 1 on 1
“K” was the response from the Austrian.
“$ redi” he wrote back – Money is ready.
“WRU@” wrote the Austrian – Where are you at?
He posted his location.
“LTL & GmobL” – Lose the Laptop and go mobile was the response from Mark.
The HTC Tilt 2 slid quietly out of his pocket. He fired up the agency-installed covert locator app that instantly triangulated his location. The message stream encryption indicator turned from red to green, ensuring that the conversation couldn’t be monitored.
Using cell phones was now the preferred method compared to laptops, which frequently were compromised due to malware, keyloggers and other trojans. Most agencies around the world had moved to smart phones to ensure portability, reliability and mobility in general.
He quickly located the Austrian on the mobile maps. He was nearby.
“Your laptop has been cracked,” texted the Austrian. “It’s on the grid. You had just one too many check-ins.”
“Crap” he texted back. He knew the drill. Once the laptop was compromised, it became a liability and had to be left behind. But, he wasn’t quite finished with it.
“It’s ok, I can still send you the file,” wrote the Austrian. “Do you have the funds?”
“Of course,” he wrote back. This was his ticket out, his insurance policy for a life without looking over his shoulder, a life of relative normalcy. Over the years, he had quietly been stashing money from various covert assignments. This year marked the point when he finally had enough saved away and he could use it to “buy” his way out.
Mark Z texted, “Ok, please start the wire transfer. I will begin sending you the file. But let’s do this quickly, I may have been followed. Meet at the same place?”
“Yes, I will hand you the account information once we meet,” he wrote. The geo-locater showed that Mark Z, was at the cafe, just around the corner from the safe house.
They both sat at the pre-defined tables, back to back and covering each others’ blind spots. The progress bar on his cell phone showed the transfer at 99%. He pulled the thumb drive out of his pocket and turned slightly in his chair. The Austrian did the same, handing him a sheet of paper with the password for the encrypted file. At 100%, the items changed hands.
He plugged in the password into the HTC and watched the names and confidential personal information materialize on the screen. The Austrian tapped on his cellphone and smiled as he accessed the bank account. Everything looked to be in order.
Suddenly a car screeched around the corner. The Austrian’s eyes widened. He stood up quickly and sprinted out of the cafe. As Mark Z. ran down the street, the man calmly took a sip from his espresso.
The pops came in rapid succession and the Austrian pitched forward into the street, not feeling anything by the time his body crumpled into the gutter. The car barely slowed as a face peered through the darkened window and then screeched down the street and around the corner.
The man carefully unfolded a bill from his wallet, left it on the table, and then quietly walked in the opposite direction from the quickly forming crowd. He pulled out his cellphone and initiated the file transfer, wirelessly moving his precious data back to the laptop at the safe house. Once the transfer was complete, he headed to the safe house. He had to lose the laptop and move on.
TO BE CONTINUED
About this article: This post is the SECOND installment of an on-going series for the AT&T Lose the Laptop Challenge. See the FIRST installment here. This is the FINAL month and we are all “gunning” for the GRAND PRIZE of $5000. Remember to VOTE (for me, especially). By voting, you too can win $5000. There were 3 subjects during the previous 3 months: Travel, Social and Shopping. Please take a look at my previous posts. Over the next few weeks, I will be tying it all together so I hope that you will follow the progress and adventures of the hero.
Disclosure Text : I have a material connection because I received a gift or sample of a product for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was/am not expected to return this item or gift after my review period. More information can be found in my About page as well as here. More information about the “Lose the Laptop” program is available here.
HTD says: Biting your nails yet? Re-read Part 1 too! Check next week for Part 3 of The Mobile Spy.