Saturday March 8, 2003 1215 GMT+2:
The stewardess smilingly welcomed us aboard the Bombardier Dash-8Q400 and pointed us towards the cabin's 72 faux leather seats. Two of them were all ours for a little over an hour. A couple of old farts with a mission; Agents T1 and T2.
Between buckling up and absent-mindedly watching the safety demonstration, I casually opened the in-flight magazine on page 65.
"Your mission - should you choose to accept it - is to meet up with the Danish head operative codenamed liveforever, force him to drink tequila and return safely to home shore. It is vitally important to blend in with the locals, agent T1. We'll be sending T2 along as a backup. I know he's a freshman of sorts, but that's all we can spare right now. Get him up to speed on the matters at hand.
Intelligence reports the probable presence of four people at the meet-up, you clowns included. Not much is known about liveforever's protectional detail other than it's led by a shady individual known throughout the community as Carthag. Be careful down there and do not under any circumstances make a scene. You are to report back no later than midnight Sunday. Your very existence will be denied in case of a query into your where- and whatabouts. This message will be marked for destruction in five seconds."
The terse message morphed into an advertisement for "Bonnie" tortilla chips. In it were to wrinkly women in slit skirts. On the same page in T2's in-flight magazine there was an ad for a Rolex wristwatch.
"What are we up to this time?", T2 asked, trying to keep casual in spite of his thirsty sounding voice.
"We're out to get some Danish guy drunk."
"Drunk, eh? Like that mess in Lincolnshire last year?"
T2 hadn't forgotten our rather wet adventure in the east English lowlands.
"Yeah. A lot like that mess in Lincolnshire last year. This guy however, is different from that Sleaford chef. If his cover story really is a cover story, it is a really good one. It's outright devious. Family man, academic, cozy little place in downtown Copenhagen. Stuff like that. Word has it he's a high profile E2 operative."
"Tell me more about this E2 thing. I'm lost."
T2 is the only person I know who's not afraid of Klaproth. Usenet does that to people.
"E2? Where do I even start? Lots of people down at intelligence believe it to be some sort of propaganda machine for lesbian animals. They might be right for all I know. Sorry, that's all I have. The day we were briefed on the E2 organization, I was severely distracted by P7."
"That sweater again?"
"That sweater again. Could we please talk about something else?"
So we talked about something else.
My pickled herring sandwich arrived. The silver of the Gulf Stream on a perfect slice of rye bread. The norse gods were smiling at me. Or smirking.
"The reasons for us going down there still appear somewhat muddled to me" T2 muttered well into his fourth Tuborg. They stopped being complimentary about when he started ordering them from the stewardess' cleavage. Nobody could focus like T2.
I tried to explain the best I could: "Looks like there's a senior operative power struggle going on at E2, and someone with their own agenda has decided to send us down to take care of things. This will probably be our toughest mission yet."
T2 didn't offer a spoken reply to the last piece of background information. He just stared me in the eye and continued cleaning his M33 Utility, Opener, Bottle.
What had we gotten ourselves into this time? Challenged to do a beer relay - which that godforsaken heathen country was so famous for - the minute we set foot on Kastrup? Our hands tied to our backs behind some seedy downtown adult shop, forced to eat sausages containing additives outlawed back home? Pumped full of amphetamine and held in front of grainy VHS recordings from the 1986 World Cup?
What evil puppetmaster was pulling the strings here?
I dozed off in the leather-ish seat, dreaming disturbing dreams of Michael Laudrup. The word "NEMESIS" was tattooed in flaming letters across his scrawny chest.
- * -
Sunday March 9, 2003 1859 GMT+2
"Hey! Spending a Saturday night in Copenhagen like that was a great idea!"
"Couldn't agree more. Their hair must hurt today."
Back in Norway, skint. At the far end of the arrivals someone had set up an Internet kiosk. I went over to it and swiped my by now see-through Visa in the slot and got access. I had but one message to send back:
Pictures available at http://geekinfo.net/e2/winter.html
Allright, allright. I know there's too many references in here to stuff you don't know anything about. Like Michael Laudrup's status as Norway's national football nemesis and the part about tortilla chips. And the aircraft. And the adult bookstores. And the red sausages. These are my references and this was our nodermeet. Sorry.