Thomas Laker is an agent with the Gray Outfit.
Officially he is an employee of the NSA, or so we are told, but in actuality he is one of the senior operative attached to the Gray Outfit.
That is a strange name for a strange collection of experienced agents from apparently other more recognizable agencies. Laker, when asked, comments, "You know why people call us the Gray Outfit? Because we're a bunch of dull, middle-aged bureaucrats". When it is pointed out that the Gray Outfit reports directly to the Secretary of Homeland Security, Laker quips, "Mostly on our lack of progress. We try to persuade various agencies to cooperate better. Share information more freely. Important work, but very dull."
Laker's modesty over the group he works for hides the fact that as one person early on states, "What the CIA won't tell the FBI, what the DEA won't tell the NSA, they will tell you guys. Because as individuals you have reputations. And connections. You end up in possession of the hottest secrets in town. Information you can't just sit on. And you don't. You act on it."
The Gray Outfit is run by a man named Sam Mason who informs us that "The Gray Outfit doesn't do signals intelligence, image intelligence, or measurement and signature intelligence. We do human intelligence". To help do that, and because it has some highly impressive clout in the nation's Capitol, "Mason had been able to find room for its headquarters on Capitol Hill itself, in a Victorian-era townhouse within sight of the great dome. The bronze plaque by the door said, 'National Alliance of Auto Parts Distributors, LLC.'"
Laker's entry into this collection of experienced operatives comes via his time with the CIA. Before that he was a college football player, according to an elderly woman who was obviously in the know, Laker was "one of the best running backs Notre Dame ever had. Expected to turn pro. But you said no to the NFL recruiters in favor of the one from CIA. Served with distinction in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq. Returned to Langley as one of the most talked-about candidates for deputy director. That didn't happen. Instead you are officially just some sort of consultant for NSA. Which I think is totally bogus."
Laker, who has the nickname of 'Lucky' but does not use it, is said to still look like he were "wearing shoulder pads. He tended to loom. Then there was the way he turned his head a bit to the left and looked at people askance, as if listening hard to what they said and not believing any of it. In fact, he was only favoring his good ear. He was mostly deaf in the other one, the result of the IED blast that had flipped his Humvee in Baghdad."
In the first recorded adventure, Laker will be teamed up unofficially with a still rather new employee of the NSA name Ava North. She is a cryptographer, not a field agent, but she learns very quickly and she is not just along for the ride - she will earn her keep several times over.
"Paranoia is a secret agent's best friend."