I was in Advanced Weaponry class when the loudspeaker on the celling blared, "Ben Ripley, please report to my office. Once again, Ben Ripley, please report to my office immediately. Over."
At that time, my Advanced Weaponry teacher, Professor Harlenson, had been teaching us to use a howitzer, or, in my case, trying to teach me to use a howitzer. I had to admit, it was a grim sight. Mr. Harlenson cringed every time he saw me. Now, he was grinning, probably because I was going to suffer at the cruel hands of the principal.
"Ooh, Golden Boy's in trouble," smirked Warren, one of my classmates. He was a big dipstick, but had a massive crush on Zoe Zibell, one of my friends, and thus regarded me as a threat to getting close to Zoe. When I got back, I would pummel him, I promised myself. But Warren wasn't the worst of my problems right now.
The Principal was.
Over the course of two years, I'd been called to the place three times, and he had displayed terrible judgment every time. The outcomes were: me being sent to the security chamber for isolation after defending myself against Chip Schacter, (my enemy-turned-friend); me being told my summer plans were derailed; and me being expelled. Outside of spy school, there were some things that people took for granted. Like having fair people in charge of them. This privilege was one we didn't have at the academy. I crossed my fingers for a good outcome this time around.
As I walked across the campus, I received a text from Erica Hale: hurry up, slowpoke. Maybe I wasn't in trouble. I picked up my pace.
I had been expelled from spy school when I blew up the Principal's office. We were using paint shells on howitzers in our yearly exams, the SASCAs, when Erica Hale had loaded a live shell into the howitzer and fired on the Principal's office, which was behind our enemy's foxhole.
It was all a ploy to get me into SPYDER, an organization that plotted against the CIA. I had destroyed their base and accomplished my mission, and thus was reinstated to the academy. Unfortunately, no one told the principal that he had been fooled, or that I was innocent. I could tell he still regarded me as the culprit. He was now determined to do everything within his power to make my days at the Academy as miserable as possible. As I walked to the Administrative Building, I received a text from Erica Hale: Hurry up, Slowpoke. This gave me a glimmer of hope. Perhaps I wasn't in trouble. I picked up my pace.
After I destroyed his office, the principal had been pushed into a closet. He now sat in a folding chair behind a card table, glaring at me like I was on top of the CIA Most Wanted list. Without his desk, however, it was hard for him to look as menacing as he used to. In the meantime, the government had set the repairs of his old office to three years back, at least, so he wasn't moving anywhere anytime soon.
When I got to the closet-office, the first thing that hit me was the smell of ammonia. The Principal's office had probably been a custodial closet for several decades.
The Hales were waiting.
Cyrus spoke first. "Ben, we have a mission for you." As he said this, he handed me a manila envelope. A label on it said, ‘Only for Your Eyes'. This was serious, I realized.
Inside was a photograph (extremely grainy) of a person that made me grimaced instantly. "Yes, it's Joshua Hallal," Cyrus said. Alexander and Erica both nodded, while the principal gave him a blank look. This proved that, despite his best efforts to prove that he was important, everyone knew he was low in the ranks of CIA agents. He mostly took care of paperwork on things no one else wanted to do. Thus, he had no idea who we were talking about, and the Hales made no effort to tell him.
Joshua Hallal had been the top student in spy school. He had mastered Kung Fu, Ju-Jitsu, and Lithuanian knife fighting. He'd faked his death by blowing up his dorm room with a bomb, and had then defected to SPYDER.
I'd watched him fall off a coal mine's transport lift with my own eyes. He'd lost an arm, a leg, and an eye, which was covered by a patch, and yet he was still alive, claiming he'd landed in a bog. He was a thorn in the side for the CIA.
"He's been working for an organization known as CVAW-3, short for ‘Collaboration of Villainous Agents Worldwide, No. 3'. "They're planning an attack, and Joshua will carry it out," Erica said. We all nodded like bobble heads.
"Wait—There are more CVAWs?" I asked. "We don't know for sure. It could be a ploy to make us think that they're bigger than they really are," Alexander informed me. "But we do know that it's not SPYDER. SPYDER went kablooey along with their base, literally and organizationally." "Who's going to go undercover?" I asked. "Joshua knows both of us." Cyrus opened a door, and in came Mike Brescinski, my best friend. Mike had been my friend from normal school. On my first mission, he'd been manipulated as a decoy and was captured by the CIA. He'd always guessed that I was a spy, and the CIA considered him a threat. So on my last mission, he'd stowed away and ended up playing a crucial role. Later, he'd also been recruited. He was rocking it here, and was already living the high life at the academy.
"Hi, Ben," he said. "You and Erica will work with me!" he enthused happily. I'll go undercover and find out their plans." "YOU?" I blurted. "Yep, me." If he was hurt by my comment, he didn't show it.
"If you get caught," warned Cyrus, "you'll be terminated, like the other 4 other agents who went before you. Thanks to those the pinheads, who all messed up in different stages of their missions, CVAW-3 is on high alert. You'll have to use your senses instead of technology. Well, technically, you can use a recording machine when you meet with us, and you have your phone, but we have to do a bug check on it every time you see us. Understand?" "I understand." said Mike.
"What will we do?" I asked Cyrus. "You'll tail him with Erica," said Cyrus and Alexander at the same time. "We understand." I said. "Dismissed." said Cyrus. Erica left with me.
As we walked away, I had the impending thought that I would fail. How could I stop a 19-year old professional enemy agent from attacking a random place in the world? As if she had read my mind, and maybe she had, Erica reached over and put a hand on my shoulder and said, "You can do it, Ben. I know you can. If you've beaten Joshua twice, you can do it three times. Don't worry." Probably for the first time all day, I smiled. She was right. If I had my friends with me, I could do anything. I could defeat Joshua Hallal.
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