By: Nidheesh Samant | RedPaper.in
Night had fallen when Ice returned from the market. Even though he had a diverse skill-set, haggling over grocery prices did not fall within it. His empty wallet stood proof for that. Ice carried the groceries to Owl’s house. The beach shack looked quite picturesque in the glow of orange lights. Ice rang the doorbell. Owl opened the door and took the groceries from Ice’s hands. He motioned with his head, indicating Ice to follow him. Owl walked into the kitchen and placed the grocery bags down. He proceeded to remove the groceries from the bag.
“So Ice, did you give my question a thought?”
“Yes, I did.”
“Good, let’s hear your answer then.”
“I believe in the ideals of The Agency. It does not matter who is leading it. If that person starts steering The Agency in the wrong direction, he loses my faith.”
“Yes, but what if The Agency is beyond saving. What if the entire organization has been corrupted? Would you stand with it or against it?”
“Owl, you taught me all these years. You told me that orders are important, but belief in a cause is even more so. I will do whatever it takes to further the cause of protecting the innocents from the workings happening in the shadows.”
“And here I thought you weren’t a man for words. Good, I found out the information you wanted.”
Owl handed Ice a piece of paper. On it were scribbled a few words:
Ice looked up at Owl.
“Thank you, I will leave right away.”
“I will arrange for a contact of mine to meet you there. He will fill you in on the details and help you gather information.”
“Can he be trusted?”
“Yes, he’s an old contact of mine. Known him for long. So…nope…keep you guard up.”
“Of course. Very well, I shall leave now.”
“Good luck, Ice. Report to me first thing after getting back.”
Ice left Owl’s house.
Turin, Italy. 2018.
Paolo checked his watch as he reached Café Dolce. He was to meet Owl’s contact at 4pm. He was on time. He took a look inside the open air café. Among the many tables occupied by couples and groups of friends, he saw a table with a single occupant. Dressed in all-blacks, he sported slicked back hair. He was sipping on his cup as he read the menu. Paolo entered and made his way to him.
“Signore Ice, I presume.”
The man with slicked-back hair looked up.
“The coffee is nice, but I prefer tea.”
Paolo smiled at him.
“With enough sugar, anything is sweet enough for me.”
Satisfied with Paolo’s answer, the man motioned for him to sit on the chair across.
“Yes, I am Ice. You must be Owl’s contact…Mister..?”
“Paolo. You can call me Paolo. Yes, I had a talk with Owl. He told me to find out a few things for you. But, before that.”
Paolo called the waiter and asked him to get a cup of hot chocolate. After the waiter had gone, Paolo reached into his bag and removed a brown envelope. He slid it over to Ice.
“This envelope contains photos of the people Viper associated with when he was here.”
Ice opened the envelope and removed its contents. They were photographs of various individuals. Ice proceeded to look at each of them, one by one. The photographs were not of great quality. Paolo continued briefing Ice.
“These are all members of a group that calls itself Jaeger. These are all the top dogs. All of them highly are skilled mercenaries. Jaeger associates itself with many political and terrorist groups. They specialize in assassinations. “
Ice continued going through the photos, as he listened to Paolo.
“The man behind Jaeger is a shadow. No one knows who he is, or what he looks like. No name, either.”
Ice had reached the tenth and the last photo. Paolo could see Ice was spending more time on this photo than he spent on the others.
“Signore, is everything alright?”
“Paolo, who is this?”
Paolo looked at the photo Ice was holding. It was a photo of a girl with a stern, yet angelic face, sporting a blue lipstick.
“Ah, this is one of my better photos. She is called Valkyrie, one of the best in Jaeger. It is said her skills with a sniper rifle are beyond human.”
“Valkyrie, I see. Did she get in touch with Viper when he was here?”
“Yes, she did. In fact, I believe that she was the point of contact between Jaeger and Viper. She is the only top-dog from Jaeger who happens to be in Turin at this time. But, I’m afraid I have no more information for you. I got in very deep as it is.”
The waiter arrived with Paolo’s hot chocolate. Paolo thanked him for it and picked the cup up from the table. He blew on it as he waited for Ice to keep the photo down. Finally, Ice kept the photo inside the envelope along with the rest of them. He finished his coffee in one swig.
“Thank you, Paolo for this information. I shall leave now.”
“You are most welcome, Signore.”
Ice half got up from his seat and sat down again.
“Just one more question, Paolo.”
“Sure, Signore. Ask me.”
“Those two guys sitting at the table, a couple of tables to our left, do you know them?”
“Ah, so you finally noticed. Well, yes I do know them. I led them to you.”