A long, blue car pulled up before the music store, and a tall man got out, shut the door with a determined push. A distinguished-looking man, flaxen-haired, eyes keen and blue in a square, handsome, tanned face. He went into the music store and could be seen inquiring of the owner, a middle-aged woman.
"I am looking for Georges Bizet's L'Arlesienne Suite No. 1."
"Any particular recording?"
"Yes, I am partial to Davier's 1955 recording."
"Oh, I am sorry, sir. We don't have that recording. Can I interest you in the Berlin Philharmonic's recording from the same year? I think it is even superior. Herbert von Karajan, you know. His first year conducting the Philharmonic."
"Well, it's not what I wanted, but I'll listen to it and see what I think."
"Please come back to the listening booth, sir."
He followed her to the booth, took the record she gave him, put it on the turntable, and put on the headphones. Then he pulled photographs out of the record's sleeve. He felt a jolt of shock as he looked at the first one.
"Good morning, Mr. Phelps. The man you are looking at is a man you once knew well, Daniel Briggs. One year ago, as you know, he disappeared in the middle of a mission, leaving his team, the team you now lead, scrambling to complete the mission. They barely succeeded, but succeed they did. Dan Briggs, however, was never seen again until his body was discovered floating in a river four months later. Following investigations by another team, a mole was discovered in the Secretary's staff. He had sold the details of the mission to a government behind the Iron Curtain, a government discredited by one of Dan's missions. They kidnapped Dan and tortured him for information about the Impossible Missions Force. They wished to be able to reinstate themselves as a power among the Communist governments by demonstrating prowess in the intelligence field. Thankfully, they failed. Dan Briggs was a stronger man than anyone knew. He never talked. He told them nothing and saved the IMF. In recompense for which, they killed him."
Jim Phelps took a deep breath. The voice on the recording was not usually so poetic, but Dan Brigg's death had been a shock to everyone. There was no better IMF team leader than he, none who had ever commanded such loyalty.
"Now, however, one unscrupulous man has decided to turn Dan Briggs' legacy upside down. You may recognize the name of Henrich Janek. He was Under-Secretary to First Secretary Augustín Dalibor of the Communist Party of Herzvolakia, whose deposition was one of Dan's first great successes. He has spent the last decade on a personal vendetta to find out who deposed his superior and avenge his death. His brother just before he died this year created a machine that will take any recording of a voice and rearrange the sounds to make that voice say anything he wants. Now Janek has only to break into the vaults in the People's Museum in Herzvolakia's capitol city to gain access to the only known tapes containing Daniel Briggs' voice, recorded during his months of captivity. With these and his brother's machine, he can create recordings that will discredit not only Briggs and his team but all of the IMF's missions. Every mission will come under doubt as to its veracity, and future missions will be rendered useless.
"Your mission, Jim, should you decide to accept it, would be to retrieve the tapes, destroy the machine, and thoroughly discredit Janek himself so that no government will ever believe anything he puts out. As always, should you or any of your IM force be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. Good luck, Jim. This recording will self-destruct in five seconds."
Jim lit a cigarette to cover the smell of the self-destructing and took one last hard look at Janek. Slimy little man. Discredit Dan Briggs, would he? Not on my watch.
As he went back through the shop, the owner said, "What did you think of the recording?"
"Not quite according to my taste, but thank you."
"Come back again, sir, but please don't smoke among the records."
He apologized easily and left the shop.