In the dark and sepulchral office, the figure smiled.

The underling stood before his desk, pocket secretary in hand. Unlike his predecessor, this underling did not exhibit any sign of fear. He had delivered his report in the dry, unemotional tones of a bookkeeper reciting a particularly routine set of financials, then stopped immediately afterward, waiting for his employer to reply.

"Excellent," the man said, still smiling. The smile, however, did not reach his eyes. It never did. "It appears as if our plan is working even better than expected."

"Yes, sir," the underling said, allowing himself a bit of emotion. "They're quite concerned. They have no idea what is happening, and they have no clear leads regarding the source."

"Of course they don't," the dark figure said, contempt dripping from his tones. "Do you truly expect that they would?"

"No, sir. Of course not," the underling said quickly. "They appear to have gotten quite a number of people involved in their search for answers, especially when one considers the effort the fixer has put into the matter."

The smile grew imperceptibly wider. "I do so enjoy watching them chase phantoms. It's almost unfortunate that they haven't a chance to discover what's happening, is it not? The arrogance of assuming that they can do so amuses me. I think I shall have a bit more amusement with them before we continue with our plans. How fortuitous that recent events provide me with a means to lead them astray yet again."

"What do you wish me to do, sir?" the underling asked, his stylus poised over his pocket secretary, awaiting orders.

The boss leaned back in his chair, stretching languidly. "Hmm..." he mused. "I think that the time has come to increase the level of danger a bit. Yes, that might well produce the desired results." He returned to his upright position and leaned forward, his gaze probing the underling's face. "Yes. Take careful notes, because everything must function with perfect precision. Here is what you will do..."

The underling, glad for a chance not to look directly at his unsettling employer, noted down his instructions with utmost care.

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