A woman with sleek black hair stood before Tara.
“Finish her,” Garrett commanded. Tara closed her eyes and aimed her gun at the woman’s head. She was about to pull the trigger but at the last second she shifted the gun to hit the woman’s arm instead. “I knew you didn’t have the guts,” Garrett snarled.
Joanna sat in her bedroom alone, waiting. A cool breeze poured in through the window and ruffled her hair. With a soft creak the door opened and Joanna quickly sat up.
“Charles,” she said. “It’s about time.”
“Sorry I’m late,” he said. In his hand Charles held a beige envelope. He carefully set it down on her bedside table. “How are you feeling?” he asked. Joanna looked down at her clunky metal arm.
“Fine,” she replied. “I’m getting used to it.” She looked at the envelope. “So what’s my assignment?” she asked. Charles sighed.
“You’re not ready for a real mission yet,” he said. “So I’ve assigned you to a couple of newbies.”
“You want me to train new agents?” she asked. Charles nodded his head uncomfortably.
“It’s for the best,” he said.
“Fine ,” Joanna replied quietly.
“I just want you to take it easy, you’ll get back out to the field one day,” he said before carefully shutting the door.
Tara sat alone in her cell, thinking. Garrett, this is his fault, she thought. As she sat in anger and silence Tara noticed the sound of footsteps. She waited eagerly until the door opened. In the hall stood a tall man.
“I know you can’t speak,” he said. “My people in the lab confirmed that illness took your ability to speak away. However, you can write.” He paused for a second and pulled out a pad of paper and a pen from his pocket. “Tell me everything,” he said.
Tara snatched the paper and pen and got to work. Where do I start?
“This is it,” Charles said. Malcolm nodded his head.
“Cool,” Malcolm replied.
“It was your dad’s room when he went here.”
“Yeah,” Malcolm said quietly. “He told me all about it.”
“Your parents must be proud, you’re a secret agent in training now. You’re growing up to be just like them,” Charles said. Malcolm didn’t reply. “I’ll give you some time to unpack, but I’ll be back later,” Charles said before leaving. “Smile!” he said enthusiastically. The room was big and empty, in the middle sat Malcolm’s three large boxes, all with his name in large letters on the side.
“Just a new adventure,” he said to himself.
“I don’t want to train a little kid!,” Joanna screeched.
“He’s not a little kid,” Charles replied calmly. “He’s a teenager.”
“That’s not any better,” she snarled.
“He’s a good kid,” Charles said. “Just give him a chance.” Joanna glared at Charles, her face was red and her nostrils were flared with anger.
“I’ll give him a chance. One chance is all he gets, if he blows it I’m out.”
“Fine,” Charles said. “He’s very smart and mature. He’s like some crazy tech wiz kid. Can hack almost anything.”
I guess you could say it all started when I was sixteen, Tara wrote. My life was going downhill and I saw no hope for myself. My grades were bad and my parents were always fighting. I was miserable. I spent a lot of my time just wandering, desperate to get away from my awful life. That was when I met Garrett. He said he could help, turn my life around but what really happened wasn’t what I was expecting. He recruited me as one of his own and trained me to become a villain, just like him. I feel so bad now, for hurting that girl. I had orders to kill her but instead I shot her arm. I was so scared and now I realize what I’ve been doing is wrong. I want to change my ways.
Tara stopped writing and pushed the piece of paper across the table to the man whose name was apparently Charles. He read over it and smiled at her.
“You did the right thing, in the end at least,” he said. “I want to send you on a minor assignment with a couple new agents and well, that girl.” Tara didn’t quite understand at first, but then she realized what he meant. She began to panic, shaking her head like crazy. “You two are very alike in ways, I’m sure you’ll get along if you just get over that incident,” Charles said standing to leave the cell. “Trust me,” he said. Tara nodded her head yes, but on the inside she was screaming no.
Drew spotted Garrett sitting at a booth alone. He slipped through the busy crowd until he finally reached the booth.
“Take a seat,” Garrett said with a twisted smile.
“What do you want?” Drew asked impatiently.
“I just need some information about your old spy academy or whatever it was,” Garrett said in a bored tone. Drew smirked.
“And you’ll be using this information against them?”
“Obviously,” Garrett replied.
“They kicked me out, sent me to fend for myself on the streets. Now they’re going to pay,” Drew said in a whisper. “I’ll help you, but take me with you. I can help you invade the academy, I know exactly where to go and everything,” Drew finished. Garrett smiled.
“Deal,” Garrett said. They shook hands and then left together, neither of them had noticed the third man who had been watching them the whole time.
“This is bad,” Charles said. “Very bad.”
Malcolm had finally finished unpacking when there was a soft knock on his door. Charles poked his head through the crack as Malcolm opened the door.
“I see you are already unpacked, perfect!” Charles exclaimed.
“It didn’t take very long,” Drew mumbled. “I only had three boxes.”
“Well never mind that,” Charles said. “Come with me.” Malcolm obeyed and began to follow Charles. They walked through the hallway, passing many other people Malcolm’s age. Finally, they reached a tall door. Charles gave Malcolm a reassuring smile before he opened the door. Inside there was a huge table where two girls sat. One had a metal arm and shiny black hair, her eyes were fixed in a glare at the other girl. The other girl had mousy brown hair and sat in a defensive position across the table.
“You three are a team,” Charles announced. “You will all be working together for the foreseeable future.”
Joanna’s grip on the chair was the only thing keeping her from lunging across the table at Tara.
“Ladies this is Malcolm. Malcolm this is Tara,” Charles said while Tara wrote hello on her paper. “And this is Joanna.”
“Hi,” Joanna said bluntly. She looked at the boy, he didn’t look a day over sixteen.
“Hey uh… cool arm’” he replied. Joanna flashed him a glare.
“How about I fill you all in about what’s going on,” Charles said, offering a distraction to what Malcolm had just said. Cool arm? Wow he really is just a kid, Joanna thought.
“Our enemy has gained the trust of an old agent of ours,” Charles announced.
“Drew?” Joanna asked. Charles nodded his head.
“This gives Garrett an advantage since Drew knows our facilities quite well. With Drew’s help it will make it a bit easier for Garrett to go after whatever he wants from here.” Charles stopped and looked at Tara. “Do you know what he wants,” he asked. Tara pulled out her pad of paper. I believe he’s after all your digital data and records. You have valuable information he wants to use. Tara watched as Charles went pale. “How long does he usually wait to attack?” Charles asked nervously. He’s not fond of wasting time. Tara wrote. That was when the alarms started. “Listen carefully,” Charles said. “Never mind training, this is your first mission.”
Drew stood next to Garrett on the hill. Below them was the academy, the place where the agency kept most of their records and data.
“That’s it,” Drew said. Garrett’s face contorted into a twisted smile.
“Well then there’s no time to waste,” Garrett said. He turned to his small army to address them. “You know the mission. Now go!” he bellowed.
The loud sirens hurt Malcolm’s ears. Malcolm, Tara and Joanna were running in opposite direction than everybody else. Get him to the control room by all means necessary. And Malcolm, stay safe. He could still hear Charles saying that in his head. His mission was simple, create a web shield to keep out Drew and Garrett. Simple, simple except for the fact that these people were dangerous and Malcolm was terrified.
“Get the kid to the control room, keep the kid safe,” Joanna said quietly. “Easy.” The three came to a stop outside a room. Joanna dug in her pocket until she found the key to the control room and unlocked the door. There were computer monitors everywhere; Malcolm’s eyes lit up the moment he saw the room. He looked like a kid in a candy shop.
“Well,” Joanna said. “Get to work.” Malcolm nodded his head and ran over to the seat, beginning to click away the moment his body touched the chair.
Sitting in the seat next to him Tara watched Malcolm with fascination. He logged into his account and the moment he did an old smiling couple appeared as the background on the screen. All the files made a neat frame around them.
“Those are my parents,” Malcolm said turning to Tara. “Just in case you were wondering.” Tara smiled and nodded in response. She continued to watch as Malcolm typed in codes and other things Tara didn’t understand until she felt a tap on her shoulder. She turned in her seat to find Joanna towering over her. In her hands Joanna held two guns.
“You’re gonna need this,” she said handing over a gun. Tara nodded slightly and took it from her. It was the nicest thing she had done for Tara so far. “They’re here,” Joanna said gesturing to the window. The blinds were closed but Tara was able to peek through the cracks. Standing outside she saw about fifty people heading for the building, and standing in the center she saw a familiar face. He heart began to race and she became nervous. Garrett, she thought.
The doors were locked but that wasn’t much of a problem. Drew, Garrett and their “army” easily smashed the door to pieces to enter the buildings. Drew stepped through the hole in the wall and into the familiar front hall. He remembered the days in which this place was his home, those days were over. He signaled for the rest of the men to enter the building and one by one they all entered. Garrett came in last and pushed his way to the front.
“Which way?” Garrett asked. Drew took a moment to look down the deserted halls, then he remembered.
“That way,” he said. Garrett nodded his head and turned to the men behind him.
“You all split up into groups and search the building, make sure we don’t miss anything important.” The men nodded and began to disperse, but at the last second Garrett pulled three men aside. “You’re coming with us,” he said.
Malcolm jumped at the sound of feet in the hallway. He was almost done with the web shield and had to stay focused. Joanna and Tara stood together by the door, both holding guns. Malcolm felt safe with them by the door but he still worried that something would go wrong.
“Five minutes,” Malcolm announced. Joanna turned to him and nodded.
“Okay,” she said. Malcolm had nothing left to do but wait and then type a few conformation codes.
“So,” Malcolm said, desperate to break the silence. “Where are the other people?”
“Everywhere,” Joanna replied bluntly.
“Oh,” he quietly. “Cool.” Malcolm glanced at his computer. Only four minutes left, he thought.
Tara flinched at the sound Garrett’s voice.
“This way!” he barked. She tightened her grip on the gun a looked back at Malcolm. There were only four minutes left on the countdown. I’m safe, she thought to herself. I’m safe.
The sound of feet got closer until suddenly it stopped. Joanna held her breath, they were right outside the door. She silently gestured for Tara to back up with her towards Malcolm. Malcolm turned with panic in his eyes, Joanna carefully put her finger to her lips and Malcolm nodded. The three stood together in silence (with the exception of Malcolm who was sitting). Joanna looked down at Malcolm; he didn’t have a gun because Joanna only brought two. She promised herself not to leave his side no matter what, for Malcolm was completely defenseless without a weapon. The door handle rattled violently and then stopped.
“Open up!” a harsh voice called out. “Now!” The three looked at each other nervously. Then they noticed a small metal ball that rolled under the door. It suddenly flashed red and began emitting smoke with a horrible hissing sound. The smoke was thick. So thick Malcolm could barely see the screen in front of him. However, Malcolm could see the the numbers on the screen. 1 minute, it read.
Tara heard what was obviously the door crashing down. The smoke still lingered in the air so the three couldn’t see anything that was more than a foot from their faces. She could hear the heavy breathing and footsteps of the intruders, Tara guessed there were about four or five of them. She dropped to the floor and began to crawl towards Malcolm’s desk which was illuminated by the faint computer light. She could hear the tapping of his busy fingers as they danced across the keyboard. He was typing in the codes, and once they were all in the system there was no way Garrett would be able to invade their files. At least that’s what she was hoping for.
Joanna watched as Malcolm typed in the long and complicated final code. She couldn’t see him that well but she knew he was finished when she heard the final clack on the keyboard. He looked up at her, she had to get him out. He rose from his seat when the first gunshot rang out. All three of them bolted into the hallway. The smoke had become so thick Joanna could only make out blurred silhouettes in the hall. I have to find Malcolm, she thought.
Malcolm stumbled into the hallway where the sounds of gunshots were beginning. They sounded rather distant but they seemed to be getting closer by the second. Students he had seen earlier joined him, Tara and Joanna in the hallway, they were all shooting down the hall at people who were hopefully intruders. It was strange to think that not too long ago Malcolm was the new kid and now he was being shot at.
Another orb fell to the ground and filled the hallway with even more smoke. Everyone was partaking in the blind chaos. The halls were filled with the sounds of gunshots and Joanna had nothing but a gun and her metal arm to defend herself.
It was impossible to see with thick fog lingering in the hall. There was nobody left in the control room, everyone was in the hall blindly shooting at each other.
Malcolm felt a pair of rough hands on the back of his shirt, they pulled Malcolm to his feet and sent him flying. With a loud thud he hit the floor and the loud crash that followed announced the closing of a door.
“Fix this,” Drew barked. Malcolm looked up through the fog at Drew, he was pointing at the computer.
“I can’t,” he replied. Drew quickly pulled out a gun in response.
“How about now?” Drew asked.
“I swear, I can’t fix it,” Malcolm said in a panicked tone.
“Last chance,” Drew said, pointing the gun at Malcolm.
“I promise,” he yelped. “I can’t, I prom-” Malcolm was suddenly cut off by the sound of a gunshot.
The bullet zipped through the air, too fast for him to react. First the bullet tore the fabric of his shirt and then it began to pierce his chest. Malcolm went stiff the moment the bullet made contact with his flesh. He slumped to the ground and blood started pouring out of him. That morning he had been the new kid, now he was dying. Drew looked down at Malcolm and sighed.
“You had your chance kid,” he said before slipping out the window.
It all ended when Tara’s bullet lodged into Garrett’s shoulder. He screamed out in pain and called for everyone to retreat. The academy had won. The smoky layer was fading and the damage was becoming visible. While everyone else celebrated Tara stood in the control room in silent agony. He was just a kid, she thought. She suddenly felt a hand on her shoulder, and to her surprise she saw Joanna at her side. Through the fog she could see that Joanna’s eyes were brimming with tears.
“I was supposed to protect him,” she said quietly. “I failed him.”
Joanna watched from the car as Charles set down the last box and waved goodbye to the couple. Sprawled across the side of the box was the unmissable name Malcolm. As he walked towards the car he turned back once more to face the couple who were now carefully looking through the contents of the box. Charles quietly opened the door and slipped into the car.
“Ready?” he asked Joanna.
“Tara?” he asked.
"Yep,” she managed to croak. The medicine was finally working. Charles started up the car, and with that the three of them disappeared down the road.