"Send in Agent Finn."
At the sound of the intercom, Riley Finn stood up from his perch on the corner of the desk, smiled at that desk's blond occupant, and straightened his tie. Knocking once on the door marked Commander Travers, he turned the knob and stepped inside.
"You wanted to see me, sir?"
"Have a seat, Agent Finn," Travers responded, but made no move to look up from the open file on his desk.
"Thank you sir," Riley replied, as he eased his large frame into one of two leather wing chairs facing the desk. As his new boss made no further acknowledgment of his presence, Finn found himself taking in the room's décor. The furnishings were hardly ostentatious, but they were certainly not standard Government Issue, either. The oak desk, leather chairs, oriental rugs, and brass umbrella rack stood in marked contrast to the gray concrete walls, unadorned save for a picture of President Roosevelt, perfectly centered behind the desk.
Riley's eyes settled on his new boss, still focused on the paperwork in front of him. Quentin Travers, like his office, was a study in contrasts. His gray tweed suit was impeccable, his collar starched, his tie and cuffs held neatly in place with matching gold tie tack and cuff links. Travers had an air of elegance around him, but from their previous, brief meeting, Finn had found him to be direct and unpretentious. The office suited him, Riley mused. Functional, but with class.
His observations were interrupted when he noticed that Travers had stopped reading and was now looking directly at Finn, with a barely discernible bemused smile on his face. Immediately flustered, Riley reached for his briefcase.
"I took the liberty of preparing a summary of current operations, along with expense repo - " he began, but was cut off with a raised hand.
"That won't be necessary at this time, Agent Finn," Travers said. "You may leave your report, but we have a more pressing issue at the moment. There's a potentially serious situation that we need to move on immediately."
Finn sat forward in his chair to offer his complete attention. He was secretly relieved that the meeting was not to be one of pleasantries and administrative matters. He saw himself as a man of action first and foremost, and while he did not shrink from the more mundane aspects of his position, he did not actively enjoy them, either. Travers' willingness to skip the chit-chat enhanced Riley's opinion of him further.
Travers' gaze returned to the file on his desk as he began to brief Finn on their assignment.
"Military Intelligence has learned of a leak within the code analysis program. They have intercepted messages that implicate two operatives, referred to only as The Brit and The Rose. The Brit is believed to have already established ties with the Soviet Intelligence community. MI believes that the Rose is someone on the inside of the VENONA project, and that she's supplying the Brit with information."
"VENONA sir?" Riley frowned. "I'm not familiar with-"
"No reason you should be," Travers snapped. "Let's just say that while we may be allied with the Russians right now out of necessity, we don't trust them. And we'd like to know what the Soviet plans are when this damned war is over."
"And VENONA is serving that end?"
"Precisely. Army Intelligence has given us some information, but not much. They have no solid leads as to the identity of the Brit, but they did name a suspect for the Rose. According to them she was a promising cryptanalyst who helped get VENONA off the ground. But several months ago she resigned without much of an explanation. Once the intercepted messages were translated, she became the primary suspect, but their investigations have found nothing conclusive. They cannot confirm her involvement, but they haven't been able to rule it out, either"
"So they hand it over to us," Finn concluded.
"Exactly. And it comes to my office because our suspect is right here in Sunnydale. Your orders are simple: confirm whether or not the suspect is the Rose, and identify the Brit, if possible."
Finn furrowed his brow in concentration for a moment.
"All of my men are currently in the field, but I can do some shuffling and reassign - " he trailed off as Travers' hand again came up.
"I believe you have a new operative who isn't in the field?" Travers asked with a raised eyebrow.
"With all due respect, Commander, considering the seriousness of this case, I'm not sure that she's the right man - er, agent - for the job."
Travers looked intently at Finn, whose own gaze faltered.
"According to her file she has an exemplary record, even if it is a bit short."
"It's not her record I'm concerned about, sir," Finn stated, "it's her manner - something bothers me."
Travers again raised an eyebrow, and tried to suppress a grin. Finn, he knew, had been an excellent soldier, and was becoming an equally impressive agent, but he was still a young man. He had not yet learned to mask his emotions.
"What is it then, Agent Finn? Did she turn down the introductory dinner and drinks?"
Finn's eyes shot up, then dropped again quickly, and Travers could see the young agent's jaw clenching.
"Turned me down flat, sir," Finn admitted, furious with himself for being so transparent. He didn't know whether that was more or less embarrassing than the rejection by the pretty new agent. Finn had a reputation as a nice guy - a good buddy for the guys, and a good catch for the ladies. When the new girl had cut him off with a 'no thank you, Agent Finn, I don't date colleagues - why don't you try the steno pool' he'd been entirely at a loss. The fact that his new boss wanted to reward her with a plum assignment felt like a slap to the other cheek.
"Well, I guess the young lady has good sense as well as a good record," Travers stated amiably. "Get over it, Finn. You're an asset to this department, with a promising future. When your agents succeed it reflects well on you... and on me, of course. Besides, I insist."
"It's your call, sir," Finn replied. 'And my ass if she screws up,' he thought to himself.
"Excellent, then we're agreed."
Travers leaned forward and reached across his desk to depress the intercom.
"Miss Summers, would you please send in Agent Maclay."