Laynie Portland is an agent with the Marstead Agency.
When in 1977 Helena "Laynie" Portland was about to graduate from the University of Washington, she received a letter from Marstead International. While there was a lot about the company she had yet to learn, she knew it to be "a technology and aeronautics firm with a global presence and reputation". The fact that they were interested enough in her for their recruiters to invite her to a dinner followed by an informal interview, she was flattered and not a little excited.
It was not long into their dinner discussions that they let her know that they were seeking "college graduates with the right mix of aptitude and skills to work and grow within our worldwide market". When they tacked on a statement that she had "the potential to serve the interest of [the] country", she figured things out and stated her findings that they were "representatives of a U.S. intelligence agency, unnamed so far, and you are trying to recruit" her. She had nailed it.
It was fairly obvious why she was one of their top candidates. She was a beautiful young woman, standing 5'8 with long straight corn-husk colored hair that fell to her mid back. Since her father was of Scandinavian descent, it was felt by everyone that she had inherited his genes though in fact she was adopted by him and his African-American wife with the proceedings being closed so no one knew her origins. But what Marstead did know was she was very intelligent and a wizard when it came to languages. She was fluent in Spanish and German, was learning Russian, and would add several others other time.
After she went "through the Company’s rigorous tradecraft and tactical training program" she began to see first hand what a "dirty business" the world of clandestine service was. Nevertheless she kept going putting everything she had into it because she had a secret that she was certain no one had figured out. Her opinion of herself was simply this: "I am worthless; my life has no value. I am only useful when the work I do serves a greater purpose".
That sort of inner rating of herself will play a major part in the things she is willing to do on behalf of Marstead, stemming from something that happened as a very little girl before her adoption, something that she barely remembers.
Fascinating line: In the intelligence business, the same traits that made for successful agents - cleverness, glibness, and the ability to charm, lie, and remain unflustered - were shared by people with deeply flawed psyches.