2009-12-19: A Stranger Calls



Date: December 19th, 2009


Tammy, fresh out of her scuffel with Tiago and Lena, seeks only to do her office paperwork and slip from a nice, hot bath and into unconsciousness. Fate, in the form of a strange woman calling her private line, intervenes in this, forcing a long night to become even longer.

"A Stranger Calls"

Tammy's Office/Manhattan

It was not an hour after having wrestled with a guy half her size during what was supposed to be the easy part of an apprehension that Tammy found herself slipping into her office chair. The male had had his hands handcuffed behind him, but had still managed to slam her against the wall, and she'd spent nearly a half-hour fighting off the paramedics with responses that she was 'fine'. Now seated in the pleather swivel-chair, she runs her hand across her face, thanking whatever deity was out there that it was over.

Only to have her phone ring. "Great." With a long-suffering sigh, the dark-haired agent sits forward and picks up the receiver on her desk phone. "Agent Lansing." The greeting is curt, impatient, and met only with the dial tone. With a frown, she notices that no lines were lighting up, and that the ringtone was markedly different from her office phone. A glance to side reveals her lit-up lavender-colored cellphone. With a grump, the receiver is slammed back down and her personal device picked up.


The voice on the other end is female, and remarkably neutral. There's the vague sounds of the city through the line, as if it's either a cell phone or a pay phone…either way, somewhere outside. "Tammy Lansing?" No one she knows, certainly. Stephanie stands outside, speaking on one of those pre-pay cell phones. A manila folder is in her hand, closed at the moment.

A frown creases the agent's face as she settles back into her chair, the first thought running through her mind that it was her sister calling from a different phone than she was used to. But the voice was way, way off, and Tammy was not a social butterfly, leaving her with only two logical conclusions of who it could be. And it was a bit late for telemarketers to be calling her.

"Speaking. And if this is a reporter, I have to say once again that it is the policy of all agencies not to comment on any cases, open, closed, or otherwise. I can give you the number for our PR representative, if you like, though I have to say that I highly doubt he would appreciate the late hour of the call."

The tone of her voice inferred that Tammy herself did not appreciate the late hour, her voice flat and, despite her words, unfriendly. Clattering can be heard vaguely, as she digs through a drawer for her address book, in which she kept pertinent numbers.

The tone that comes back is sarcastic. Smarmy, even. "Glad to hear it. You see, I happen to need some information, Ms. Lansing. Tell me about Alpha Protocol. I'm just dying to hear the explanation." Stephanie's walking as she talks, heading down the streets of New York. "This is quite the who's who of impressive people, after all. And you might be the answer I've been looking for."

There's a pause of disbelief on the agent's end of the line, as she was sure she'd heard just about every single technique one could use to obtain information from another. But open hostility was a new one to her. She elicits a cross between a cough and a laugh, leaning back into her plush office chair and allowing her feet to find purchase on the corner of her desk in a relaxed pose she rarely allowed during the day. But at night, there was only a skeleton crew present to witness her 'down time'.

"Ma'am, if your grand idea to get a hot scoop is to call up and harass federal agents, then I am shocked at your lack of sense. Let's save each other a lot of time and headache. Why don't you tell me who you are, what you want, and exactly what you think you have that will make me give it to you?"

Stephanie's reply is "Oh, I don't need a hot scoop. I happen to be a woman standing here with a manila folder just chock /full/ of government information. Alpha Protocol. Everybody from the President on down. Like I said, it's quite the who's who." And if she's got their agent list, a massive security leak, too. "And there's such /interesting/ connections, too. Given Noah Bennet and his connection with Primatech?" A pause, then a smirk that's audible in her voice. "Still think I'm a reporter?"

"The President, you don't say…" Tammy's voice, despite her best efforts, sounds vaguely intrigued by the revelation, though it's quickly brought under control and back to it's disinterested, level tone. She leans forward in her chair, removing her feet from her desk as she rummages for a pen and paper, writing down both the names Noah Bennet and Primatech with a scribbling flourish.

"No, ma'am, you don't sound like a reporter at all anymore. You sound like a blackmailer. And I believe this is the part where I'm supposed to act either outraged or intrigued, and then ask you what you want. But really, government conspiracy theories are a dime a dozen, and I'm willing to bet that if you had anything appreciable, you'd have already gone to the press, or sold it to the highest bidder. I can only assume the reason for this cloak-and-dagger phone call is that you want me to give you something, after all. So why don't I give you my office address, and you can swing by tomorrow morning where we can discuss your demands?"

That prospect gets an amused snort from the other end of the line. "I'm not a blackmailer. That's a little too petty. And I'm not out for money. Well, not directly, anyhow. What I want is information. You might have it. And I have more than enough of my own to trade. But I'm not going to treat you like a rookie, so please, do me the courtesy of not assuming I am. Me showing up at your office would lead to me getting locked up in a dark, dark hole somewhere till you got the answers you wanted, and I got nothing at all. No, any meet-and-greet will be done in a very public, very populated place. The question really becomes, are you someone who's willing to deal, Ms. Lansing, or do I move to the next name on the list?"

Taking her moment to roll her eyes, Tammy clicks her pen on and off several times, placing her elbow against the desk, then propping her cheek on top of her knuckles as she silently weighs her options. The number was untraceable, and getting a location with her civilian phone was out of the question. She'd need a computer the size of her desktop for that sort of nonsense, not to mention the training to run it.

"It's information from me you want? Official policy is not to discuss agency business with anyone lacking the necessary security clearance. But very well, I will make myself available to you tomorrow, if you like, at a time and place of your choosing, if that would make you feel any better. I… feel the need to warn you of what a dangerous game you're playing. If you're some kid who's found something you think is big and are looking for a cheap thrill and insight into the dirty laundry of the US Government, the likely outcome will be a very, very long prison sentence."

Stephanie still seems just amused at the threat. "Of course that's the official policy." Voice full of scorn, now. "But if you're black ops, you know that sometimes you bend the rules to get done what you need to get done." She considers. "Tomorrow, noon, Times Square. If I see ANY hints that you've brought along the Gestapo…and believe me, I know what to look for…deal's off. I'll call you then."

"Noon, Times Square. I'll just assume you know what I look like."

Pulling her ear away from the receiver, Tammy snaps the flip-top phone shut, cutting off the call. She brushes her hair away from her face, hunching over her desk with her face in her hands, resting her forehead against the cool wood of her desk. "I hate being a spy." After a bit more mourning the warm, soaking bath it seemed the universe was conspiring to deny her tonight, she shakes herself and sits back up, setting aside her personal device. She reaches over to her office phone, picks up the receiver, and dials the code to connect to an outside line, waiting as the tone sounds ringing on the other end.

"…Hey, it's Lansing. I just got the weirdest damned call… Yeah, I'm really attracting them lately. Listen, sorry for waking you with this, but I need you to look up…"

Oh yes, it was going to be a very long night, indeed.

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