Secret Agent Paniel Diper: Chapter 2 - The Briefing
Sitting in the Uber en route to his mission briefing with MI6, Paniel had a sudden flashback to a past trauma. It involved several flashing images including a gunshot, Paniel shouting Nooo!!, a woman crying, Paniel crying, a baby crying, and Paniel shouting Oh, God!! and This is traumatic!!
‘Get a hold of yourself, Paniel!’ he slapped himself awake. ‘This is your first freelance Secret Agent job in over four years. You can’t let your past trauma get in the way.’
‘Pardon?’ said the driver.
‘Nothing,’ said Paniel. ‘Just a little flashback.’
‘Oh right. Of What?’ Paniel looked out of the window. ‘I don’t want to talk about it.’
‘Oh right. Why?’
‘Let’s just say... it’s complicated.’
‘Oh right. In what way?’
‘Look, are we nearly there yet?’
‘About twenty minutes. So, this flashback, then.’
As Paniel entered the co-working space, the other freelancers glanced at him with respect and admiration.
‘Pan!’ said Kai, looking up from his graphics tablet. ‘We haven’t seen you for a while. Got some tweets to write?’
‘It’s not Pan. It’s Paniel. I need to use the meeting room.’
‘Already booked, I’m afraid. Tony’s in there with one of his life coaching clients.’
‘For God’s sake!’ said Paniel. ‘I’ve got an extremely important Skype call in five minutes. I’ll just have to do it in here. None of you are allowed to listen, it’s highly confidential.’
‘Can tweets be confidential?’ said Sarah.
‘It’s not tweets, for God’s sake! I don’t just do tweets! I’m also a Secret Agen... look, could you all please put your headphones on for a few minutes?’
Paniel sat down at a hot desk and opened his laptop with some skill. As soon as he had logged into Skype, a call came through from MI6_TOPSECERT. He took a deep breath and answered. An image of himself appeared in the bottom-left corner. MI6 were set to audio-only.
‘Agent Diper. Before we proceed, we must ensure that you are alone. Is there anybody near you who might overhear this call?’
‘There are six other freelancers but they’ve all got their headphones on.’
‘Excellent. My name is M, which is short for Maaark.
‘Nice to meet you, Maaark. Can I just say how honoured and excited I am to have been asked—’
‘Alright, Diper, we don’t have much time. Are you familiar with Bazookr?’
‘I’ve heard of it,’ said Paniel. ‘A new social media platform. Popular among teenagers. By downloading the app and adding a small physical attachment, they’re able to turn their mobile phone into a ‘Social Gun’ which can be fired at their friends, allowing them to share messages and files. Privacy is said to be Bazookr’s main priority, which is why they’ve grown so popular so quickly. Only the person who has been shot can see what they’ve been sent.’
‘Correct, Diper. You know your social media.’
‘Well, I’m actually trying to move away from—’
‘We’ve been watching Bazookr for a while. We don’t trust them. They’re up to something. And their CEO, Murdoch Musk, is a slippery character.’ Paniel noticed that the video of himself had frozen at an unflattering angle.
‘We don’t buy the whole privacy thing,’ Maaaaark continued, ‘which is why we sent 0046 to keep an eye on them. He joined Bazookr as Head of Likes at their campus in Silicon Valley last year. He was reporting to us nightly via Slack, but we lost contact three days ago. That’s where you come in.’ Paniel sat up. ‘So I’ll be replacing 0046?’
‘Not exactly,’ said Maaaaark. ‘It would be too obvious to get you in with the same job as 0046, so you’ll be joining Bazookr as Intern.’
‘You will be reporting to their Head of Operations, Dr. Spitörswallow.’
‘There’s a flight to Silicon Valley Airport in one hour. You will be on it. Find out what happened to 0046, and find out what’s really going on at Bazookr. We want to know what Musk is up to. And most importantly, don’t get caught.’
‘I won’t let you down, Maaaaaark.’ He was about to end the call when another voice spoke up.
‘Oh, h...hey, Agent Diper. J...j...just before you go, my name is Q...Quentin. I’m your Quartermaster.’
‘Ah, of course,’ said Paniel, excitedly. ‘What gadgets have you got for me?’
‘Well, I j...just wanted to check, do you have a smartphone?’
‘Great. Well th...that should be able to do everything you need.’
‘Also, if you ever have a s...s...spare moment during the m...m...mission, it would be awesome if you could post the odd tweet or Instagram Story from the MI6 account. We’re still fairly new on the s...s...socials and would really love our followers to feel like they’re with you in the f...f..field.
‘I’ll do my best.’
‘One more thing,’ said Maaaaaark. ‘You are ready for this, aren’t you, Agent Diper? Normally we wouldn’t use a freelancer, but budgets are tight right now, and we frankly can’t afford to deploy another full-time agent on Operation Bazookr.’ Paniel looked directly into the webcam.
‘I’m ready. For this.’
Paniel closed his laptop and ordered an Uber to London Airport.
‘None of you heard any of that, did you?’ he asked the other freelancers. They shook their heads. Paniel called his Uber driver to find out where they were parked, and left.
‘See you, Pan,’ Sarah called after him. ‘Have fun with Dr Spitörswallow.’