Only the good spy young, p.5

Only the Good Spy Young, page 5

 part  #4 of  Gallagher Girls Series

 

Only the Good Spy Young
 



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Page 5

 

  "I was worried about you, Squirt. I was - "

  "Wheres my mom?" I heard my voice rising, but I didnt try to stop it.

  "Shes fine, Squirt. " Abby looked at me. "She couldnt come herself, so I came. Shes fine. "

  "Why couldnt she come?" I blurted. "Whats so important that -"

  "All right, then. " Mr. Baxter pushed up from the table, signaling that the Q&A portion of our night was officially over. "Its best you two get some sleep. Big day tomorrow. Well have to get up early to get you back to school.

  Tomorrow. School. Bex and I looked at each other. Wordlessly, we both stood and started for the door. Roseville felt a million miles away.

  "Abby?" Bex stopped and turned in the doorway, waited for my aunt to look up. "How old . . . When he joined them . . . how old was he?"

  Abbys smile was soft but sad. She swallowed hard before she said, "Sixteen. "

  Chapter Eight

  How To Return To School

  (A list by Cameron Morgan and Rebecca Baxter)

  · Do laundry. This is far easier , by the way, when youre at your grandmothers house and not an MI6 safe house (because, while the latter might have far cooler defense mechanisms, the former has a way better laundry room).

  · Pack. Which is where living in a series of safe house comes in handy, because youve never actually unpacked.

  · Set alarms. Because even a Gallagher Girls internal alarm clock has a tendency to get wonky when youre dealing with vast amounts of stress and jet lag.

  · Dress in layers. Because planes are always cold. And also, its far easier to change your appearance and lose a tail if you can also lose your sweater.

  · Double-check that you have the essay you wrote for Culture and Assimilation, the codes you broke for Practical Encryption, and the research paper I did for Covert Operations.

  · Take the CoveOps paper out of the bag. Stomp on it. Kick it. Throw it in the trash.

  · Take it out of the trash and pack it again. Just in case.

  It took three planes, two SUVs, and at one point a very questionable-smelling VW van, but sixteen hours later I found myself staring through bulletproof glass at the bare trees and patches of half-melted snow and ice that lined Highway 10 as it cut through the forest like a snake. After three weeks of living like a gypsy in a foreign land, it felt especially strange to be coming home.

  Home.

  "Whatcha thinking about, Cam?" Bex poked me and smiled.

  "Oh, you know . . . the usual," I said as calmly as possible while sitting in the back of a limousine that was as unusual as possible. (Im pretty sure it used to belong to the president. )

  "Have you covered vehicular surveillance yet?" Aunt Abby asked.

  Bex shook her head.

  "Really?" Mrs. Baxter said. She sounded genuinely surprised. "I thought you would have covered that in . . . "

  She trailed off, but I knew what she was going to say: Covert Operations. CoveOps. Mr.

  Solomons class.

  "Oh, well. I guess theres no time like the present. " She crossed her legs. "Tell me, Cammie, What do you see?"

  Two cars ahead of us. "

  "Lead cars, yes. " Mrs. Baxter nodded her approval, then turned to her daughter. "Bex?"

  "One tail vehicle. "

  "Right," Mrs. Baxter said. She went on, citing the origins of moving surveillance and protection, something about the chariots of ancient Rome and the death of Caesar, but my mind was drifting. I was watching the dozens of other cars - limousines just like ours (though slightly less bulletproof) that filled the road, waiting to carry my classmates back through our towering gates.

  "Ive never seen the line so long," Bex said, and Id been thinking the same thing. "Guards must still be on vacation time," she joked.

  Aunt Abby shifted in the seat beside me, but she didnt say anything. I expected the car to slow and wait its turn in line. But instead, Mrs. Baxter asked, "Whats the second rule of countersurveillance?"

  "Resist routine and expectations," Bex and I replied just as Mr. Baxter jerked the limo into the passing lane. I felt the car moving faster and faster, flying by the long line of cars waiting to carry my classmates back to school.

  Mrs. Baxter sounded just like Bex when she said, "Exactly. "

  I know the Gallagher Academy. I mean, a person doesnt ruin as many white blouses as I have without spending a lot of time crawling through filthy sewer lines and secret passageways. So as we flew farther and farther from the gates, I felt pretty certain that we were actually speeding toward . . . nothing. Or so I thought until Mr. Baxter jerked the wheel again and we found ourselves on a narrow lane that, I swear, Id never seen before.

  The good news was that the car was bulletproof and missile proof and had tires that were filled with solid rubber instead of regular air, so they could never, ever go flat.

  The bad news was that I was starting to figure out why Bex was such a bad driver, because the rougher the road got, the harder Mr. Baxter pressed on the gas.

  "Shortcut," Aunt Abby offered. "

  "To where?" Bex and I both asked.

  The car was barreling down the narrow path, tires plunging in and out or rough gorges, mud slamming against the undercarriage. Barren limbs scraped against the sides of the car, and it felt as if we were being swallowed by the forest, driving straight toward an electrified stone wall and at least a dozen of the most highly calibrated security cameras in the world.

  "Now?" Mr. Baxter asked from the front seat.

  "Thisll do," Abby told him. "

  Mr. Baxter pushed a button on the dashboard and floored the accelerator.

  And for the second time during my winter vacation, I saw my (relatively short) life flashed before my eyes. I gripped my best friends hands, waiting for a crash that never came.

  Believe it or not, Ive never actually been in the Gallagher Academy lade. Well, I hadnt been. Until then.

  I still dont know what was the most shocking - the feeling of the car hitting some kind of ramp at eighty miles an hour, the sensation of flying through the air and soaring over the fence in a limousine, or the sudden splash that comes when a two-ton car dives nose first into water, seat belts snapping, holding us into place.

  I felt the heavy car sinking. Water was over the hood and rising above the windows, but not a drop was seeping inside as we sank below the surface, into the murky darkness of the lake. Fish swam past the windows as if limos drop out of the sky every day - and neither Aunt Abby nor Mrs. Baxter seemed the least bit concerned that our bulletproof car was sinking.

  But wait, I realized a second later. We werent sinking.

  Bex and I both leaned forward, watched the way the limos headlights sliced through the water as a propeller emerged from the trunk and began churning, pushing us through the murky haze like a submarine.

  "WARNING: RESTRICED AREA. AUTHORIZED PERSONAL ONLY," a shrill mechanical voice ordered in stereo, echoing through the cars speakers.

  Mom . . . " Bex started to say, but her mother merely shushed her.

  "ACQUIRING RENTAL IMAGAMES NOW," the voice said just as an orange light flashed through the car like lightning. I squinted, and it felt like thousand tiny flashbulbs were going off inside my eyes.

  "PRESENT VOCAL RECOGNITON, PLEASE," the voice commanded, and my aunt responded, "Abigail Cameron. CIA. "

  "Abraham Baxter, MI6," Bexs father said from the front seat. Beside me, Bexs mother gave her own name, then nudged me softly in the ribs.

  "Um . . . Cameron Ann Morgan . . . Gallagher Girl?" I didnt have a clue what my official title was or should be. International terrorist target? Teenage girl? Spy in training? Person who really, really wants to know whats going on?

  I heard Bex reply in the same way I had, and then the movement stopped. Water fell away as if the car were emerging from the lake, but there was no sunlight streaming through the windows. I peered through the bulletproof glass and saw the headlights sweep over solid stone. T
hen the car doors popped open automatically, and Abby stepped out, and nothing in my sixteen (almost seventeen!) years of living, or five and a half years of training, had fully prepared me for what I saw.

  "There are caves under the lake?" I guessed, but Bexs mother was already out of the car walking toward the trunk.

  Id heard of underground waterways, caverns, and caves my whole life, but Id never known I was living right beside one, I stared at the stalactites and stalagmites that covered the caves floors and ceiling. The ground sloped down behind us, toward the water of the lake while my best friend and I stood on an underground shore, and I remembered that I didnt know all of my schools secrets - not even close.

  Before I knew it, Mr. Baxter had our bags out of the trunk and Mrs. Baxter was hugging Bex, whispering in her ear. I was still taking in the long, dark cave that stretched far beyond the headlights glare.

  I stepped to the wall, and ran my fingers along the Gallagher Academy crest that was carved into the stone.

  "Good-bye, darling," Mrs. Baxter kissed my cheek. And then Aunt Abbys hands were on my shoulders.

  "Cammie, stop for a second. Before you go any farther, I need you to promise me something. "

  "Okay. "

  "I need you to be careful this semester. " She did sound like herself I realized. She sounded like Mr. Solomon. "Cam, do you hear me?"

  "Yes . . . I know. "

  "Do not take unnecessary chances. "

  "I know. "

  "And, Squirt, you need to be . . . strong. "

  I started to tell her again that I knew, but something same over me. "You arent coming, are you?" I asked.

  Abby looked from me to the Baxters and back again. "This is as far as I go. "

  "But I thought maybe youd . . . We wont have a CoveOps teacher. "

  "Sure you will, Squirt. " She smiled slightly. "Sure you will. "

  Chapter Nine

  "Dr. Fibss filing cabinets?" I heard myself mutter five minutes later - still a little shocked, to tell you the truth. But what else is a girl supposed to feel after riding in an underwater elevator, going through six more scans (two retinal, three voice, and one full-body), and them climbing fifty feet up a rickety staircase that looked older that the school itself?

  So, yeah, shock probably covers it. But that didnt stop me from examining the hidden door thorugh which wed just emerged. "I never knew there was a passageway behind Dr.

  Fibss filing cabinets!"

  "Which is the sole reason its still functioning. "

  Bex and I spun around to see Professor Buckingham behind us, standing in the doorway of the dim room with her arms crossed, looking like the most intimidating barrier of all.

  "Cameron, Rebecca, come with me. "

  There are three things its important to know about Professor Buckingham. 1) Shes our oldest faculty member. 2) She is an absolute legend at MI6. And 3) She walks faster than should be humanly possible with a bad hip. At least it seemed that way as Bex and I dragged our heavy bags up the staris, trying to keep pace.

  "I hope your break was nice, ladies. " She glanced back at us. "Or as nice as can be expected under the circumstances. "

  "Professor!" Mr. Mosckowitz called from the stairs above us. "I need the -"

 
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