The Cleaner

Summary: The true masters of the covert arts do not court attention.

The counter-intelligence chief had a hawkish nose and vulture's beady eyes. He snuffed out his cigarette and discarded it in the overflowing trash can, before entering the room at the end of the hallway. He closed the door to the head engineer's office and spoked in a hushed, rasping tone like a tomb robber worried about waking the dead. The head engineer had the stern face of a military man, but he cowered like a cornered beast.

"The enemy is aware of our latest design changes," the spy said, bringing his hands together as if to utter a prayer to a shadowy god. "Despite your assurances the staff were all vetted."

"My engineers undergo the strictest security checks, especially given the nature of our work," the manager said, raising his hands before him. "None of them have troublesome beliefs, financial duress, or other…distractions I am aware of."

"If you were aware of it, I would not need to be here," the spy hissed. "If this continues, then we both know whom will be held responsible."

The head engineer gulped. The counter-intelligence operative grinned like a circling predator as he leaned forwards. Unbeknownst to either party, the engineers continued their work, ignorant of the drama unfolding without them. They labored in blissful ignorance as an elderly lady wheeled a cart up to the end of the hallway and emptied all the trashcans in the office.

The counter-intelligence operative did not bat an eye as he stormed out of the office, his point and the consequences made clear. He tossed his cigarette into the cleaner's cart as she left, thinking nothing more of the engineers and their leak. As he left the building, the cleaner headed out the side entrance, consolidated the bags into a single large one, and hurled the bag into the dumpster for later collection.

No one noticed the discarded blueprints and design documents stuffed into her pockets.