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14. SPYING 101
Nengghi was dancing at a new club in Singapore. It was not one of the fancy clubs full of beautiful girls. It was closer to the military bases and – more importantly – not too far away from Selangor military and intelligence bases here in the capital. Not too close, but not too far. She had been trained how to use some of the latest scanning units that would inform her where her customers had traveled based on the millions of pollens, dust particles and bits of dirt that remained on their clothing and shoes, especially shoes, people never seemed to get the shoes right. She had been issued a new wardrobe of sterile clothing that could be freshly contaminated by local dirt and contamination from Singapore and areas to the north, she spent weeks in the area before even applying at any of the clubs. Gibson didn’t want anyone sniffing the possibility that she had ever been on the island of Bali. Anyway, women sent as spies tended to be beautiful and manipulative, not disabled and unassuming.

She did carry several traits that were valuable though; stubborn, a bit angry and much smarter than people gave her credit for – most people that is.

Her goal so far had been to track anyone showing signs of having been on Kalimantan. It turned out to be extremely boring and ever so slightly terrifying. Just like back on Bali, she didn’t get many customers, almost none actually. So she had developed other ways to scan customer’s clothing without being caught. Fortunately go-go clubs had no built-in sensors like military installations.

It was another boring night when a powerfully built man walked in to Nengghi’s club. She knew enough about Selangor military units now to see that he was not a regular combat controller. He was a guy who spent a lot of time outside, in the field… very interesting. Using the little light she used to guide customers to their seats, she tipped the back of his heel and collected just the tiniest shred of information. Wandering back to the other side of the club, she loaded the data and it came up with an immediate match. This man – or at least his shoes – had been on Kalimantan. Her heart beat faster, she had to leave the room in case she had been observed; she did not want anyone to catch the blushing of her face. Gibson had taught her to be careful about things like that.

Be careful.

She walked with short steps back into the main room, wrapped a pony tail holder around her hands and passed by her new person of interest. He looked like he was from a Russian family, very little or no Asian blood mixed in there. She looked at him and smiled ever so slightly, hoping he would make it easy for her. He did.

Fortunately for Nengghi, the man had been to one other club previously and was in the mood. He immediately locked on her eyes and leaned forward to catch her attention. She stopped, backpedaled slightly, cracked a cute little smile and cocked her ear.

“What’s your name?” he asked.

“Nin.” she answered.

“My name is Basil, can I buy you a drink?”

Vasiliy never used his real name either.

Three days later Vasiliy and Nengghi were still together, but Vasiliy had only taken a long weekend, it was time for him to return to work. Nengghi was depressed. She had not been able to glean any information from “Basil.” She had also decided that Basil was not his real name. She began to run the odds in her head; how long before she would find another person who had been to Kalimantan, versus the risk of trying to latch on to ‘Basil.’ The only plan she could come up with was to try talking about the war and show some Selangor patriotism. The idea made her shudder. It was far more dangerous than the mere passing of information. Even getting Basil’s data and tying him in with Kalimantan was some sort of achievement and would probably be useful. Her mind wandered back to Major Gibson, now that was someone who had really put his life in danger.

‘Well.’ she thought, ‘If he had managed it, I’ll do the same.’ It was terrifying, but felt good to be focused again.


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That afternoon, Vasiliy wandered in to the underground offices up on the hill. Keng was there meeting with some officers on the other side of town, it was about the Japanese attacks and their implications. He saw Vasiliy walk in and told the people at the other end that he needed to log off. This wasn’t a slight to Vasiliy, rather a sign of his importance. When Keng and Vasiliy had not seen each other in several days, there was always an immediate sense of needing to catch up on things. The forms of the other officers winked off and left the two men alone in Keng’s office.

Keng gave a brief outline of the weekend’s events, which were few and predictable, before asking Vasiliy if he had enjoyed his time off. Vasiliy grinned slightly. “Well” he said, “It started off like that, but I had a much more interesting weekend than I thought I would have.” Keng looked at him inquisitively.

“You know me, first night out I hit the bars, took it easy, enjoyed the view, right?” He gave his trademark grin again – Vasiliy was a man who could get any woman he wanted. “So this mousy little thing at the second place I hit, she caught my attention, I bought her a drink, left and there was just something about her that stayed with me, so I went back. By the way, I didn’t think about it until later but the little light she used to guide people, it was ever so slightly a different design and beam tone than the ones used by the other girls.” Keng raised his eyebrows – he was a suspicious man.

“But I didn’t wonder about it at the time, other than think it was interesting, some people are different you know, and this girl actually had a problem with her hands, so maybe it had to do with that.” Keng furrowed his eyebrows, Vasily put up his hand for Keng to hold his thought.

Vasiliy continued, “We spent the weekend together, she was fun, kind of quiet but so am I. I admit I didn’t think anything more about it. Sunday morning while I was getting in the shower, I saw that little light in her bag and picked it up. It was damned heavy.” Keng stared at him intently. “But,” Vasiliy continued, “she was too close for me to do anything, I had to put it back immediately and grab her bag to move it. At least that helped to explain my contamination on it. But now I wondered, so I had the place checked while we were out for breakfast… nothing. I had her followed back to her apartment, it was convincingly small for someone with her income, so nothing there. She generates absolutely no refuse, not the slightest.” The two men looked at each other and gave that sort of ambivalent visual shrug.

“I agree,” Vasiliy continued, “the trash thing could go either way, maybe she’s meticulous. So I decided to go one step further. The reason I took yesterday off was to get her out of her apartment for a good four or five hours. I had a MAP team slide up and do a grid of the room and we may have come up with something – two things actually. Her clothes almost all have normal levels of dirt, pollen and other things from around this part of the world. But two of her small shirts at the bottom of one stack were sterile in the center, where they were left folded together. Well, they were near sterile. The team’s opinion is that these two shirts were part of a larger stack of clothing that was originally sterile, and has mostly become contaminated by the surrounding environment.”

Keng looked amused, “Okay.” he quipped, “Your new little girlfriend has sterile clothing; that pretty much does it. What’s the other thing?”

“Oh.” Vasiliy noted idly, “She has an MGV module mounted inside her wall.”

Keng stood up. “Really?!”

“Yes.” replied Vasiliy triumphantly. “The module is almost impossible to detect and we didn’t dare approach it, but its density, size, shape and placement just within the surface of the wall – it’s MGV all the way. So she has some little friends looking out for her, and I’ll bet I know who.”

Keng smiled, and asked “Do you think the probe of her room was detected in any way, and did you find out anything else.”

“No, this was a close range passive sweep, especially after we discovered the place was defended – we missed whole parts of the room staying clear of any possible triggers. And I didn’t have to find out anything else. While we were at lunch, she started talking about the war, and she broadened the discussion to people’s obligations and how we all need to do something. A regular little patriot she is I tell you.” continued Vasiliy with a smile. “She’s interested in joining the service for Selangor somehow, and wants me to help her. What do you think, is she digging into the service in general – this is a military area – or do you think she knows she’s playing around with intelligence personnel?”

Keng thought long and hard. While Vasiliy was talking, he brought up Nin’s government records. They were reasonably complete, she was an orphan, had been injured as a child, parents dead, raised on Sumatra. Spoke a mish-mash of regional languages, nothing to make her stand out. So that meant exactly nothing. If she were a mole, there were a hundred Selangor junior officials the Australians could bribe to create ‘Nin’s’ record. This did not have the feel of a Japanese operation; they hardly needed people like Nin. Keng’s thoughts turned to other events, newer events. An idea struck him, a solution to another problem, and maybe this was his way to solve it.

Tapping his index finger on the table, he paused in thought and sat back down. Leaning forward, he fixed the other man’s eyes with his own. “Vasiliy, I know you will be disappointed with this, but I want you to trust me, that there is something bigger at stake, and that what I’m going to do is necessary. Do you agree?”

Vasiliy looked at him cautiously. “I think it may be premature to arrest her.” he commented.

“No, no.” Keng waved his hand, “I’m not going to do any such thing, you don’t understand, I’m going to send her back to Australia – which is where I’m guessing she is from.” Vasiliy’s face was a study in wonder. “What?!”

“Yes, I’m going to interview her, tell her that her cover is blown, and send her little self packing back to Australia. And do you know why?”

Vasiliy, although shocked, was not stupid and was already picking up on his superior’s logic.“To carry a message?”

“Close, she may be just the back channel I need to help keep a lid on things that could spiral out of control.”

“But,” Keng continued, “you cannot ever tell anyone about this. Even while we were talking just now, I disabled all the sensors covering this office. I have that authority, so that’s okay, but you have to understand just how important this is. It is far more important than the discovery of one mousy little spy.”

Vasiliy nodded his headed in martial affirmation.

Keng looked up at the ceiling, thought for another moment and then gave the order: “Bring her in Vasiliy.”


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The next day Nengghi sat nervously in a clean, empty room in a nondescript sector of government offices. ‘Basil’ had offered to help her enlist but had instead brought her here, most likely to be interrogated. She probably had minutes to live, but she was not as afraid as she thought she might be. And strangely, she didn’t think much about being killed, she already knew what pain was about although she wasn’t looking forward to it. She just did not want to let down Major Gibson.

After what seemed like hours, a Selangor man walked in to the room, his appearance was a typical Singaporean blend of Chinese and Russian. He sat down in front of her.

“Hello Nin.” he opened. “My name is Mikhail. That by the way, is my real name. Do you know what I do?” he asked. Nengghi shook her head.

“Actually, I think you do. Or I should say, you have a better idea of what I do than you are willing to admit.” He sat looking at her. He looked and looked, but she said nothing.

“Well.” he continued, “Whatever your name is, I have a proposition for you. It’s a very simple one, and it will not hurt anybody, does that sound good so far?”

She replied with a quiet, confused expression. The base sensors however, indicated her mind was working furiously to compile everything he said, and that she understood exactly what he meant. Good, he seemed to be talking to the right person. He hated wasting his time, they were running out of time.

“Alright Nin.” he continued again, “here is what I would like you to do.” Mikhail held up a small glass vial. Inside, astonishingly, was a medium sized blueberry. Unscrewing the cap and rolling the fruit into his hand, he smiled, almost to himself, and then held it up, showing her it was safe to handle. He then leaned forward and held it out to her. “Here, take it, I promise you it is only a regular piece of fruit and nothing else.” he said. She reached out and cautiously removed the blueberry from his fingertips. To Keng’s relief she did not try to eat it. Some people might have thought that was his intent, not this one though. He set the glass vial out for her to use if she wished, she did not take it.

“What I would like you to do with this, is to go back where you came from – and I think you know what I mean by that – and give it to someone, anyone who might be interested. Do you understand what I’m asking?”

Nengghi cautiously nodded her head, trying to act timid and confused but suspecting this man knew more. The only thing she could do was obey, get out of Singapore and report back to Major Gibson what had happened, including the blueberry whatever that meant.

Keng was satisfied. Base sensors indicated she knew exactly what to do; there was no confusion in her mind. Yes, he was talking to the right person.


Next: 15. Third Party Invasive

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