HELLO. If you're tired of waiting for Stuart Gibbs's books to come out, well read this fun Spy School/ FunJungle crossover/mashup story I came up with. It's set near Christmas because I was supposed to send it out then but...oh well. More stories to come!
“Are you sure this is December?” Warren yelled from the back.
Chip went and wacked him on the head with a newspaper as if he were an annoying fly buzzing around you. “It’s Texas you moron, it isn’t like DC! Instead of snow and hot chocolate they have sandy beaches and lemonade year round”
You couldn’t blame Warren though; we flew over sunny lands grassy patches when just a couple hours ago we were fighting through a biting wind and treading through a snow just to board the plane.
We were trying our best to get along because after the whole stop-SPYDER-from-blowing-up-New-York fiasco the academy figured we were ready for some field work (who knows what they were thinking with Warren). The agency had gotten wind that SPYDER had set up shop down in the countryside of San Antonio Texas seeing as, well, one of their stolen missiles had blown up their headquarters in New Jersey. Then, seeing as they aren’t bright, instead of finding the best most savvy, intelligent, and athletic agents they had, the agency decided it was a good idea to bring a bunch of kids as well as Alexander and Cyrus Hale, more or less to make sure we didn’t kill ourselves. The next thing you know, Erica, Chip, Zoe, Warren, and Nefarious Jones himself (as well as myself) were boarding a private jet and being flown to the middle-of-nowhere Texas.
It’s a funny story how Nefarious even got into Spy School. He was a member of SPYDER’s school of being evil (as well as star gymnast Ashley Starks who to this day in prison still complains she “stuck the landing) but after everything got blown up the academy thought that if we created a video game that basically taught him how to hack then he’d be of good use. Except that he refused to do anything without bags of Cheetos and it took him one hundred and fifty two of the orange-dusted snack before he finally tried to play the game we’d made up- and failed completely. Somehow he found a spot on the plane when 6th year students who could crack into a safe while engaging in gunfire with the enemy were left behind to study Arabic.
I had wanted to spend five hours sitting next to Erica Hale, chatting up a storm maybe even popping a question if she wanted to tour FunJungle- the theme park/ zoo crossover and watch the dolphin show with me. I’d heard that JJ McCracken (the owner of FunJungle) had recently bought all of neighboring Sea World’s trained dolphins and were getting the shipment just today so they could put on a “Christmas Extravaganza!” (And so people could pay ten bucks per head to watch it) and we’d gotten fifty bucks each for “emergency purposes”, but honestly what were the chances anything bad could happen. As soon as we stepped on the plane we got into problems which caused me to be beside Zoe telling me about all that’s happened while I was gone whilst I was staring out the window and glancing at Erica, alone, her nose in a textbook. I was in front of Warren but behind Chip with everyone else already on board.
I made a move to Erica, Zoe pulled me into her seat and started asking me what it was like to be a mole in one of the world’s biggest evil organizations just two years into my mundane Spy School life. Warren was practically begging to sit next to Zoe, who wouldn’t budge, until Chip said he’d wipe all of us unconscious unless we’d shut up. So in the end Zoe would shift next to Warren every other hour but I really didn’t care. I was happy to just get out of all the craziness that had happened back in DC. Sure it’s a rush but having your life threatened every couple of months just wasn’t my thing. I just wanted to kick back, help Erica and Cyrus bust SPYDER and have a fun time at FunJungle with maybe Erica. Then again, trouble always followed me- a streak I was hoping to break.
“What…is…this?” I’d seen a lot of crazy things recently- animals being murdered, kidnapped, encounters with said murderers and kidnappers and yet somehow this was the weirdest thing that had happened recently. A building being built within five miles of FunJungle. Sure it wasn’t illegal, but everyone knew this was JJ land thirty miles in every direction. You’ve probably heard of the zoo I live in- FunJungle- JJ’s pride and joy, when of course his animals weren’t being killed or stolen. JJ McCracken figured that, to make sure nobody tried to build a hotel anywhere near here that wasn’t his, he was going to buy up all the land until it basically turned into San Antonio. He bought up nearly 200 miles worth of land and proclaimed that nobody would ever build anything near FunJungle and yet- here was a building going up.
“Relax, Teddy- my father’s in on it. They paid him a lot of money- we’re talking 8, 9 figures for an otherwise useless patch of land” Summer walked up and grabbed my hand. Summer- JJ’s daughter and was so pretty it made my eyes hurt- had for some reason, over the other million guys who looked like movie stars and clamored for her- had chosen to go out with me. Well-, we weren’t really dating but around here- treating a girl to McDonalds when she could be flying you to Paris and buying you whatever you wanted was good enough to call a date. We hadn’t really kissed since the one day I basically saved her from getting eaten by crocodiles (it’s…complicated) but we always hold hands when we go to the mall and her hugs are awesome.
“Tens of millions for a piece of land I could have afforded? Sounds suspicious huh?”
“Well, it’s some shoe store who’d lost their other space and now they’re scrambling. They figured if they put up a big sign on this road it’d be good advertisement so they basically emptied their net worth to daddy. He said and I quote ‘I would’ve done it for a hundred times less. You got a deal’”
“Are you sure? Last time you said things would be fine we almost got killed” I was referring to the incident with Hondo, her former bodyguard, where he’d try to take Rhonda rhino’s horn and sell it n the Black Market for a lot of cash.
She slugged my arm, half playfully, half annoyed I’d brought that up. “Relax Teddy. We did a background check on these guys and their tracks are cleared. No cover up or anything. They’re all legit”
I started to argue again but she had to go, but not before she hugged me goodbye.
“See this is what I was telling your mom. You need to get out more with her Teddy” my dad said.
My dad came out of the shadows seemingly every time I meet with Summer. “We’re just friends dad. Jeez we went out like once”
“Right. Friends.” My dad said with as much sarcasm as he could manage.
That happened back in April more than 7 months ago and just two weeks before Christmas they finally finished. We drove by and I have to say- what a shoe company. I mean, it’s got a nice central skyscraper which goes up around ten stories but over the fence which I’m assuming held the various wild animals out, there were lots of two story buildings- almost as if this were a college. I knew I saw at least three different construction companies but I can’t believe how fast they got everything up. Also the landscape was beautiful- they’d managed to get green grass growing and they’d planted numerous trees as well as pathways which led from building to building but were like walking through a park.
“Summer says a shoe company owns that building” I told my dad as he was driving me for my last day of school before break. “You know which?”
“Oh I don’t know. I mean what company doesn’t have enough money to pay for a building and loses is it but suddenly plunks down a hundred mil to build this thing?”
It all seemed suspicious but I had to trust Summer. People were just beginning to move in today, but something was off around them. How many computers do you need in a normal workspace? Why so much camera equipment? Why would they bring it equipment more suitable for a gun range? My mind bounced around but I let it all slide. It was Christmas after all- nothing was going to happen. Just two weeks of walking around the park watching the animals, hopefully with Summer hand in hand. It was going to be great.
When our bulletproof van pulled up to an Embassy Suites our van sounded like a football game- loud and crazy. Embassy Suites was a Ritz-Carlton compared to the miniscule claustrophobic “dorms” back at Spy School. Plus the free breakfast is edible. We were practically banging on the elevator to lead us to our room (except for Erica, still nose deep into the ancient art of disabling enemy agents with nothing but a shoestring and a paperclip) which is when we realized there were only two rooms assigned to us “due to budget cuts” Cyrus had told us. We were so exhausted that we really didn’t care if we had one bed or if we had four (thank the lord though that we had the latter of which) we just found an empty bed and went to sleep.
At Spy School, they wake you up with a wailing interior morning bell which you get used to- seeing that you don’t get any sleep on the mattresses older than Cyrus Hale himself. It took until 11 in the morning until everyone was finally awake (Nefarious had just gotten up by then and by then we’d all gone down and eaten breakfast). He didn’t care though; he just whipped out a bag of Cheetos and started munching. We gathered into Cyrus’s/Alexander’s room to plan the day out.
“We’re going to find out where in the heck SPYDER is hiding out. Last time, we had a mole” Cyrus paused and glanced at me before resuming. “This time we know one thing: he’s here somewhere. It’s a Saturday, all the kids just got out of school the town is going to be hectic. Not like San Antonio is already massive in size, but it’s going to be harder with the interstate jammed with everyone trying to get to FunJungle.”
We didn’t know where he was going but suddenly Alexander stepped in.
“I know I’m trying to get past this tactic but it’s worked once. Ben. Erica. Any of you guys- do you have any idea where SPYDER would be?”
Cyrus started to yell at him- he felt the worst about Alexander’s old way of trying to be a spy –, but then, Warren jumped in.
“I got it!” he exclaimed causing everyone to jump. “I bet you they’re downtown. Everyone will be busy so they could pose as a store and simply set up a temporary headquarters”
I thought about it and it made sense. It’d be pretty easy to hide as a store- selling souvenirs or food or whatever. We’re in the second biggest city in Texas. During Christmastime people flock to the Alamo and such to see the building and there are stores lining the streets near there. They could be anywhere, disguised by other buildings and being covered by the masses of people. Soon, everyone caught on with my thinking, backing up warren’s idea. Warren beamed with joy. Even Erica sided with him.
“My research last night does show a new store- Sal’s Souvenirs and Stuff- that opened just a week ago, in fact the same day we got the tip. It’s possible that they’re located there…
“Let’s go!” Alexander exclaimed and suddenly everyone rushed out of the room antsy to head out and do some work while I lagged behind for Erica.
“You really think SPYDER’s there?”
“It’s a long shot but what else do we have. We got to at least try it” She stopped by her shared room with Zoe, picked up her laptop and sprinted down the stairs. I picked up the local paper down at the lobby which was complimentary to guests and figured I could make the jammed interstate feel faster by skimming through the news. I hopped on the van and we headed out into the city.
Crowds of people at FunJungle weren’t a thing that never happened. Opening day, Henry’s death and funeral, Kazoo’s kidnapping and the recent elephant stampedes had all attracted enough people that FunJungle had to stop letting people in (but they’d still take their money for entrance tomorrow) to make sure no kid got trampled during the last elephant stampede. But today was in a league of its own. Hoards of kids flying from all over the country along with their parents, families on vacation, crowded the gates at 7:55 AM. I was watching from JJ’s office, on one of his many security cameras with none other than JJ and his daughter with my mom and four cups of hot cocoa.
“JJ, you can’t just let them in” My mom was pleading to him. “Kids are going to be hurt, people are going to be mad about the lines, it’s going to be chaos. And don’t even get me started on the animals…”
“Charlene, relax. We’ve bulked up on security. Everyone’s just here for the dolphins. We’re going to make it through today.” JJ assured her.
He wasn’t completely lying. The “extra security” was really just getting his staff out of his office and onto the walkways. But the dolphins were real and amazing. We’d already had a couple which you could pay a small fortune to ride on but we’d just picked four trained dolphins up from SeaWorld- who was starting to focus on their new and improved Shamu show. JJ plopped down half a million and got four dolphins with their most experienced dolphins to boot. He was going to go on a radio talk show, his commercial on a hundred different TV stations, and he was going to make a webcam appearance on CNN all to promote the FunJungle Christmas Extravaganza!- a way to get people to book for the holidays.
I walked up to Summer. “How’s the dolphin show?”
“Oh, it’s really awesome. Daddy got the trainer to get the dolphins to do some really amazing things. You have to see it” she replied.
It sucked that with every perk we were given- we weren’t allowed to come to the VIP showing of the dolphin show because JJ was afraid someone was going to record it and leak it into the public (which is why anyone who paid 100 grand couldn’t bring any camera or phones into the building. JJ also installed a retractable dome around the tank- to not only keep the elements away but the “vultures” (news helicopters) keeping the water clean and the show a secret.
Suddenly, the ground started to shake. We walked back to the window to find hoards of people either running to see the dolphins swim or go to Rhonda, who was even more popular now without her horn. As always, my mom was right. Within ten seconds a merchandise cart had been run over, two children faceplate into the cold asphalt and somehow a guy who’d snuck in popcorn against park rules had been body checked and his salty snack was now scattered on the ground.
“JJ! This is why…oh the gorillas” my mom yelled before she sprinted out of the building headed to Monkey Mountain.
“Hey Summer?” I asked.
“Yeah Teddy?” “So you dad doesn’t have any extra security right?” “Yeah…” She looked at me curiously “Why do you ask?”
I sighed. “I just get the idea something is going down today. We’re a week from Christmas and with these crowds and no one to get them in lines…well, this is just the equation for someone to either hurt the animals or the people It’s happened before” As if to confirm my thoughts, I gestured to the camera by the dolphins, where a fight was breaking out. What little security we had was rushing to break it up.
Summer waved it off. “Relax, Teddy. Look, my dad already knows what the people can do. But think about it: the people who’ve committed crimes against us were amateurs. Even Hondo, I mean what crook is stupid enough to let elephants in his way when he has a gun? Today’s going to be just fine”
I wish I couldn’t just let the idea of me getting in the middle of trouble happen again today but Summer did that whole bit where she batted her eyes and tilted her head while she talked that I melted inside.
I blushed and had a silly grin on my face. “Alright.” I raised my hands in defeat. “I surrender”
She slugged my arm. “Hey this is the biggest theme park in Texas. Things are always more exciting than they were back at my old boarding school. C’mon, my dad says it’s fine that we go backstage. I’ll show you the cool stuff” She grinned before racing off.
Who knows how but somehow, even though I had experience running from huge raging water buffalo (as well as their mother Large Marge) Summer had gotten some wheels and was sprinting into the swarms of tourists. I was catching up, only fifty feet from her, when she got pulled into a large crowd and was carried off.
“What a waste of time! Why would we even go here!” Cyrus was yelling at us for spending 6 hours at Sal’s Souvenirs and Stuff imposing as customers, deliverymen and even getting Erica in as an employee. But all we found were stocking stuffers, postcards, and lots of Alamo models. It turns out, this really was a coincidence. It was a family just trying to start up a business in time for the holiday rush.
Alexander was getting the bulk of Cyrus’s rage. A lot of the things he said were of events years in the past. While Cyrus was giving Alexander and earful we started searching the San Antonio metroplex for any building recently opened. We blew up SPYDER’s gated community around 7 months ago so we plugged that information into the CIA database (our phones were at all times linked and logged in) and searched. We found…nothing. Other than Sal’s store there was an ice cream parlor, two McDonalds, a Nike store and an antique store but after putting into thought how much space you would need just to have a basic headquarters we ruled out all these places.
“C’mon guys!” Chip yelled “We need something! I’m not going back to counseling the first years. I’m living the hotel life. Is there any place big enough where you could have headquarters”
“Wait” I piped up “What if it’s not in San Antonio”
Everybody glanced at me curiously while Erica gave me one of those you’re-too-dumb-to-be-a-spy looks. But nonetheless, even she looked at me with some curiousity.
“Guys, Ben’s got a point” she said “I mean you’d need a lot of space and I don’t know if downtown’s gonna get you there. I know that’s where we were sent but if you bought the space near FunJungle…”Erica paused, before starting to type stuff in.
I, being the logic one, found the one flaw in this plan. “Uh, guys- remember JJ owns 30 miles in every direction of FunJungle. He’s not going to let anyone build anything there. Unless SPYDER took over Killer Paintball I don’t think they could’ve built anything there…”
“Found it!’ Zoe shrieked. “Headquarters for Super Shoes Inc. ‘More than 100000 square feet bought from FunJungle owner JJ McCracken in exchange for 33.2 million dollars. Construction finished in less than 6 and a half months. –CNN’”
“It’s got the right size and it’s within our 7 month limit. I say it’s good” I told the group. I glanced around and saw nods of sweet relief. We were sure we’d just stumbled upon SPYDER’s headquarters.
Chip banged on the separating glass our van had that you see in Taxi’s. “Cyrus! Quit your whining. We found our location! It’s around 3-5 miles due east of FunJungle”
Cyrus paused before proclaiming “Well what are we doing here! Let’s go!”
He was about to start the car when Erica piped up. “Uh Grandpa?”
“Yes cupcake?” he replied.
“Taking in account of the traffic and how far it is from where we are- about fifty miles in the other direction. By the time we get there it’s going to be 9 or 10 ‘o clock and I don’t about you guys but even I wouldn’t want to step foot near SPYDER property that late. I say we get back to the hotel and get some sleep and then tomorrow we do some recon”
Cyrus started to object but then Erica did some weird sign thing with her hand which probably means “Everyone else is tired let’s go back to the hotel grandpa” so Cyrus agreed to drive us back.We got dinner at In-N-Out burger, met up in Cyrus’s room to do some research on Super Shoes before we went to our respective rooms and went to sleep. It was an exhausting day and I knew tomorrow would be even worse so I passed out.
At midnight, somebody broke into my room and kidnapped me.
Naturally, I tried to follow her with no avail. The kidnappers had picked the perfect time: It was crazy busy and you couldn’t move a foot without bumping into someone. Everywhere there were tourists in packs just like the one that took Summer. So, with no other options, I called up JJ.
“WHAT! WHERE ARE THOSE PUNKS WHO STOLE MY DAUGHTER” JJ was lit up when I returned to his office to tell him the horrid news. After a minute long rant he came to his senses and devised a plan. Or to be more literal, yelled into his walkie talkie.
“I NEED PERIMETERS STACKHOUSE. FORGET THE SHOPLIFTERS AND THE ANIMALS. LINE THEM UP AROUND THE WALL. NOBODY GETS OUT!”
“But sir what if the people throw things at the anim…” I heard Bubba Stackhouse reply.
“I DON’T CARE” JJ yelled “I NEED TO FIND MY DAUGHTER” He turned off his walkie talkie. “C’mon Teddy we’re going to look around the park”
“Uh, JJ. With all due respect sir, seeing that at any given moment you could fire my parents, isn’t the park quote-unquote ‘the biggest theme park in Texas’. Won’t that cause any troubles?”
He laughed. “I’ve got segways, golf carts, even drones with cameras. You can spot her miles away. Let’s go”
It took about ten seconds to find Summer. It was all a blur. We hopped in JJ’s personal golf cart and drove toward the dolphins where I spotted Summer, disheveled, being led to the keypad lock to the dolphins.
I tensed up. A man was holding a gun to her head and looked like was forcing Summer to give him access to the dolphins. At school, Summer had told me that her dad had given her the new master code for all the exhibits seeing that as long as she didn’t tell anyone (which worked out so great last time) we’d be fine. It wasn’t the same when she was being held at gunpoint. We pulled up. JJ, being the smart one, figured screaming would save his daughter.
“NO! DON’T SHOOT HER! PUT THAT GUN DOWN OR I’LL HAVE YOU ARRESTED 6 WAYS UNTIL SUNDAY”
Without moving the man waved JJ over. I lagged behind him.
He stopped us ten feet away from him. “Look man, I’m going to figure out this code or the girl is going to type it in. What is it going to be?”
JJ started to argue before Summer herself piped up. “Daddy, I’m scared. Can you tell him the code? Please?” She almost started crying and I had to fight off every instinct to not run over there.
JJ paused for a minute and then sighed. “I tell you this code and then you better scram. It’s 786637. Now let her go”
Summer was shoved before the guy took off. “Code Red! Man in black attire. He’s got an eye patch! Get him!” JJ yelled over his walkie talkie.
Normally, JJ was a very cautious man. He was short and wasn’t exactly muscular but it didn’t stop him from trying to tackle the somewhat agile man. He looked about 17 or 18 and I thought JJ might actually be able to stand him up because he left Summer with me and charged at the man. Have you ever seen in a movie where some dude gets hit backward, his head jerks back, and he flies three feet before sliding into a wall? Thanks to the fact that last night’s light drizzle had frozen over (it was in patches so that all the tourists weren’t slipping and breaking their neck) JJ got clocked by the guy, flew up a foot in the air and slid all the way to the edge of the glass tank where the dolphins were being held.
“Are you ok?” I asked Summer, while we watching paramedics attend to JJ and security guards holding off the hoards of people wanting to get to Summer and her dad.
She sighed. “I could’ve been worse”
“Did you get a good look at that guy?”
“What, do you think that through me basically being held hostage that I’d remember what he looked like? Beside he had a ski mask on”
We were practically inches from each other, in part because the coldness had caused me to instinctively hug her to keep warm (which I was glad she didn’t decline) but mostly because, well, she was safe. I was about to lean in for a kiss when Large Marge had to ruin everything.
“Teddy!” She was running up to me which totally killed the moment. I pried myself from the hug to talk to her.
“What Marge?” I replied.
I assumed she would think I was the person who tried to kidnap Summer, which she did and after a minute of her rambling JJ finally cut her off.
“Marjorie, look I’m pretty sure Teddy was not the kidnapper, he was with me the whole time”
“But what if he hired…?”
“Nonsense” JJ interrupted. “People know Summer is worth a hundred times more than the money I’ll ever make. If they’d gotten away with her, they would’ve been rich”
“Uh…guys?” Everyone stopped as I spoke up. “I’m pretty sure they weren’t after Summer. They were just using her as bait”
After the realization of what really had just happened, JJ figured it out. “You mean…”
“Yes sir. Somebody is after your dolphins”
To some people, being held by an attacker in the middle of the night would be a huge scare. They’d flip out, grab whatever object they could find and swing it at the invader to get them out. But I’d already been through that…twice so I knew that either I was better off keeping calm or it was Erica. Thank the lords it was the latter of which. Her lilac and gunpowder scent, now faded, still told my brain it was the one spy you could ever trust in the world. As always she did her whole “keep calm and I won’t hurt you” spiel before she un-scissored he legs and let me free.
“What are we doing?” I whispered, as to not wake my fellow roommates.
“What do you think we’re doing?” she hissed. “I am not waiting all night only for these morons to screw tomorrow up. C’mon we’re leaving”
Who knows why she considered me not a moron considering she was calling Chip- a guy who could destroy some professional spies in a one on one fight- a moron but I wasn’t complaining. We snuck over to where the elevators were only to find Cyrus waiting.
He sighed. “I know you too well. C’mon, Alexander’s waiting for us in the van downstairs”
Erica tried not to look disappointed but it was clearly showing. I mean Cyrus is a 50 year veteran and Alexander may not have more skills than a wet tissue but his flirting skills are enough to get any woman out of our way. I’d never seen her sad to have such powerful back up like this. Who knows why she was in a bad mood but all I know is that Erica is like a bull: you make them irritated and then they go crazy.
After a somewhat long and silent thirty minute drive we arrived at what looked to be the headquarters for Super Shoes Inc. We drove about a quarter of a mile past it before parking our van, grabbing our backpacks, and disappearing into the night with our black attire.
“Yep, looks like this is it” Cyrus whispered. We paused and marveled at the sight before us.
We’d just landed after hopping over the 20 foot tall electrified gate, covering ourselves in some material that not only helped us with gripping onto the slippery metal bars but also insulated any shocks from our bodies. I was expecting maybe a small lawn with a walkway to the main building of SPYDER’s headquarters, seeing as on short notice they probably didn’t have any time to make something large.
Instead, I was shocked to basically see a nicer, cleaner, homeless-people-free version of the beautiful Central Park from New York. Lush trees lined smooth paved sidewalks that walked through meadows and meadows of green grass and flowers, with some park benches just for fun. We paused for a split second to marvel at the glorious sight.
“Are you sure this is SPYDER?” Alexander asked. Even he was smart to know: Why in the world would you shell out so much money to create this beauty? I glanced at Erica who returned my glance.
They were hiding something. We would have to find out later.
The building was not as grand as I’d expect it to be: just your average ten or so floor company headquarters. A project this size would take a couple of years but SPYDER, who conveniently owned a construction company that ended up getting paid billions by the government to fix the bridges they’d blown up, had gotten it up fast. We walked to the front doors where we surveyed the entrance.
Cyrus was working at the double layer mechanical key-hole lock, Erica and I on lookout for any unwanted attention whilst Alexander was trying to figure out the keypad. And Alexander did the worst possible job at it as any human could’ve.
I glanced over at him typing away at the keypad, like your friend does to get your pass code to your Iphone. Also, like an Iphone, once you try to type in the code to many times, your phone is disabled. Well at SPYDER, they didn’t simply “lock you out”, they set off the loudest alarm you will ever hear.
It happened a second after Cyrus quietly proclaimed “We’re in” when it went off. I jumped as soon as I heard the loud noise. It was hard to describe- it was a police siren, mixed in with a fire alarm with the sound multiplied by 1000. However, it was very brief, just a quick WAH! before all was quiet. Three seconds later, four SPYDER agents busted through the main doors.
That day had been stressful. After I suggested that someone was after JJ’s dolphins, JJ flipped out. His office looked like a bomb had went off in it and he ended up closing the park early to “investigate”, which basically meant putting police caution tape over any of the areas Summer’s kidnapper had gone. Seeing as I was in the middle of all of this, my mom had taken the day off to ensure I was safe and to help keep JJ from having a heart attack.
We were both exhausted and it didn’t help that at one in the morning, I heard the loudest alarm I’d ever heard. I was sure my hearing was destroyed right then and there. My eyes sprung open and after I’d determined that it wasn’t a wild animal from the woods our trailer was three feet next to, I snuck out of bed before my mom stopped me.
It was common knowledge my mom had better hearing than most humans, if not other animals. Back in Africa, my mom had spent years with the Gorillas, which meant if any other vicious predator came, she had to know it was coming. The problem is that the human eye can only hear so far and in one direction, so she had to pick up super-human hearing. Honestly, the way our trailer was built I could tell if my mom got up.
“What are you doing Teddy?” She rubbed her eyes before she sighed.
“I heard something out side. I guess I was going to go see what it was I guess”
Under normal circumstances, my mom would’ve sent me back to bed, but in light of the new dolphins and because she was wiped out from earlier in the day she told me “Alright, be quick. Try not to hurt yourself”. She groggily trudged back to her bed.
I snuck outside and it took me two seconds to find Summer. Even though she was wearing all black, somehow she managed to stick out in the dark night over the nearly black forest floor.
“What’s Up?” I whispered.
“So you know how you said somebody was after the dolphins?” she whispered back. We walked through the back employee entrance and across the park toward the main entrance.
“Yeah” I whispered back.
“Well, we just had a break in at the dolphin station”
“WHAT?!?” I yelled. She cupped her hand around my lips really quick, but we were far enough from all the other scientists in the RV park it didn’t really matter.
“SSSHHH” she quieted me. We were now walking into a car of some sorts, which my parents had told me not to do, but I assumed it was JJ’s car.
“Are we going in your…”
“Yeah, it’s my dad’s car. We’ve located where the people who broke in are at now. Daddy wants to see if we can catch them” I climbed in, slid over, then Summer got in and closed the door before JJ sped off.
“So where are we going JJ?”
“So you know that new corporation that opened up, Super Shoes? Well…we didn’t do as good of a job with the background check because one of their employees snuck onto the park and broke in to the where we’re holding the dolphins before we could change the pass word.”
I glanced at summer with an “I told you so look” before I went back to the conversation.
“I’m assuming we’re traveling there?”
“Yes we are. But not alone though. Security is on its way. We’re going at night so the press doesn’t get their hands on this story. We’re trying to keep this as low as possible”
I knew that “security” meant Bubba Stackhouse and Large Marge, but I had a gut feeling that the guys we were dealing with weren’t your average point-a-gun-at-you criminal. But I wasn’t the one to try to stop JJ McCracken. When he committed to a cause, he committed. These were the guys that had tried to take his daughter. He was going to let no one stop him from getting to these guys.
We arrived there as the security car pulled up and was scaling the fence, with a right they’d thrown over to protect us from the electrified fence. It took us a minute, but eventually we made it over. JJ, Summer and I agreed to quietly try to sneak into the somewhat grand building and surrounding park. We were tiptoeing toward the complex, but instead, Marge and Bubba went for the wave-your-guns-and-yell-like-a-5-year-old strategy.
“WHEREVER YOU ARE, SHOW YOURSELVES!” Marge yelled as she was flying her gun around the air. Apparently, someone else was already there because a girl that looked to be Summers age, popped out of nowhere in a complete ski mask, along with a boy, which looked about my size. We retreated with our hands up as they disabled Marge and Bubba of their weapons and pinned them on the ground. Finally, the girl pulled the ski mask over her head, and I hate to admit that my heart skipped a dozen beats when I saw her.
“You must be JJ McCracken” she said, pulling Marge’s, who was struggling, arm tighter.
The SPYDER agents were tough, but thanks to Erica’s amazing fighting skills, who took down two of them, as well as Cyrus and Alexander able to handle both guys, we finished them off, an put them behind the building. Cyrus then spent the next minute yelling at Alexander for setting off the “------ Alarm”
On the way out, the SPYDER agents reset the door lock, assuming they would take us down, they didn’t put it in some sort of lock down mode, so Cyrus had to break in again. It took him a minute, but he eventually got in. Of course, as soon as got in, we heard some more people. I, as well as everyone else, put our hands on our “weapons” them three guns, me my handy taser, as we assumed it were more SPYDER agents.
“WHEREVERY YOU ARE, SHOW YOURSELVES” a woman yelled, raising her gun in the air like at a track meet. We lowered our hands before Cyrus sent Erica and I to fight them.
“They shouldn’t be hard Ben” he said before I ran off to them “But if they are, please don’t kill yourself, let Erica take them” Cyrus said, before he and Alexander slipped into the building. From my Disarming the Enemy class back at school, I learned that you have to run in a zig-zag before you basically tackle them. Of course all of which I forgot, so I ended up mimicking Erica.
We tackled them from behind as they both dropped their guns and fell to the grounds. At least I know how to pin someone on the ground, but in my defense, anybody could’ve. These two people were big, weren’t agile, and frankly were less qualified to be armed then I was, which was saying a lot. It was after they were lying on the ground when I noticed three people hiding near the corner of the wall, JJ McCracken and Summer, and another kid who looked to be my age that was staring at Erica, which was understandable- she had that effect on basically everyone.
Erica broke the awkwardness. “You must be JJ McCracken” she half whispered, loud enough to be heard.
“Yeah” JJ whimpered, hiding behind Summer. “Are you going to…” JJ paused while he pointed to the two what looked to be security guards we’d pinned to the ground.
“No” Erica said “As long as you don’t point a gun at me or my partner Ben” She glanced at me, the one that she used to question people, which I silently responded with my classic “I don’t know” shrug. She must’ve not seen them as a threat because I followed her lead as she walked over there.
We all shook hands and we greeted each other. Summer was grinning at me for some reason, and for a second I totally forgot I had a full blown crush on Erica. She’d dressed up in something similar to Erica, all black and it was tight enough which showed off her slender curves. She let her hair down though, and her outfit was topped by a pink necklace, her signature color.
“You guys got other people in there” JJ nodded toward the building.
“Yeah…why” Erica cautiously replied.
JJ looked nervous. I’d heard stories that outside of TV, he was one unconfident man. It seemed to show. “Well…uh…I mean…I thought…it would…be empty..so…maybe..you…should get…”
Erica cut him off. “That’s what I was thinking. Did you hear the alarm?”
JJ’s eyes widened. “Alarm?”
Erica sighed. “I forgot you weren’t CIA spies like us. Anywhere private we can go where you can fill us in”
JJ had tried to keep a poker face but when we told him we were spies, he kind of had a heart attack and froze.
Summer spoke up. “Yeah we do, back at FunJungle. We can go to my dad’s office” JJ nodded to confirm.
Erica replied “Ok you guys can get a head start, we’ll meet you back there” Marge and Bubba had gotten up upon hearing they’d leave, and sprinted to the two vehicles outside the fence as fast as they could. Summer, the other kid- who’d been quiet the whole time and was still staring at Erica, and JJ made their way back to the car while we went to get Cyrus and Alexander.
“You think we can trust these guys?” I asked her when we got into the building looking for Cyrus and Erica.
“I mean, they’re giving us a private place to convene and they weren’t trying to attack us or anything. Plus, comparing to the people you’ve fought with, what’s the worst they could do”
I couldn’t really focus on what she was saying or that we’d found Cyrus and Alexander. Because we were on the second story of SPYDER’s new headquarters when backup enemy agents showed up.
“Let’s go c’mon Alex!” Cyrus shouted, trying to hide ourselves didn’t matter at this point.
We ran down the stairs where we met three SPYDER agents, big, muscular men dressed like T-ball coaches, in t-shirts and shorts, were running at us. There were at least four more cars with similar built agents showing up, with I presumed more to come. Fighting them obviously wouldn’t work- after the first couple waves, no matter how good we were, we would get overwhelmed. Cyrus took a split second to take us around the back, and now it was simply a footrace to the back fence, assuming no one was back there of course.
We made it to the fence, and all in one stride, Cyrus sprayed a material on the electrified barbed wire fence which allowed him not to get shocked, and then hurdled over the fence. Erica and even Alex followed him, which left me. Now, I’m not as weak as I was before, but I wasn’t nearly in shape to scale the fence in one stride. I could do it, but it took a few seconds. In the heat of the moment, I remembered I was armed: I did have a taser. It was one of those where it fires at people and you don’t have to make contact. So I jumped on the wire, turned around and shocked the burly agent, a split second before he got to me.
I didn’t realize the effect of making a 250 pound man, running full speed one direction, completely do a 180 the other way. He ran back and knocked the other two agents in pursuit of us flat on their feet. I climbed the fence the way you would when you had to retrieve a ball during school, all to the dismay to Erica but hey, at least I was alive. Our car had been outfront, and as with everyone else, I assumed SPYDER had taken it over, so we only had one other choice, run to FunJungle. As soon as made it over we began our journey, in the middle of the night, out in Texas country, with dozens of enemy agents out to kill us.
I was as frozen as JJ learned that we were dealing with Spies not your average bad guy. These were people the government was after. I had no idea how they were going to get to FunJungle but as soon as they suggested that we go, I sprinted to the car and booked it out of there with Summer and JJ in tow. Marge and Bubba followed behind and we quickly drove back to FunJungle. JJ assumed that something had gone wrong with them trying to get back, because by the time we all get settled in JJ’s office, they still weren’t back. We set up cameras around the front entrance so that we could let them in.
“So… What the heck do we do” JJ asked to nobody in particular.
We glanced at each other before we stared at the ground because in truth, we didn’t know what we were going to do. How do you combat criminals who you think just Wave a gun at you but are so important the CIA sends people to fight them? With JJ deep in thought, Bubba playing with his security badge and Marge glaring at me, I turned the Summer.
“I’m assuming we’re going to solve this ourselves? I mean, we’ve got one of the better track records for thirteen year olds.” I proposed.
“That’s what I was thinking. Where should we start?” Summer replied. That was Summer. She didn’t care if we were going against some employee looking to make an extra buck or international criminals. She wanted to do everything without help, well excluding me.
“I was thinking we should find that girl and see what she knows” I said, partly because she sounded like our go-to for information, mostly because I wanted to see her again.
Summer looked miffed, and for good reason. We’d unofficially been going out, and that wasn’t saying a lot. The only times we’d been out was behind the scenes at FunJungle, and after our third “date”, I basically knew more than the contractors about FunJungle. We’d been to malls and such near San Antonio, and of course McDonalds, which as always ruined by paparazzi who’d gotten wind of our after school hang out and showed up with their big bulky cameras.
On the other hand, this is other girl, and I hate to admit it, was way prettier than Summer. She wasn’t like Summer, but I liked her more. She was athletic, seemed to like defying authority as much as I did, and honestly I felt like it wouldn’t be hard to get her on a date.
Summer sighed. “I guess you’re right” she told me, “eventually we’ll have to ask them because what the heck do they mean that they’re spies”
“Because I thought we were dealing with someone as harsh as Hondo or someone”
Summer shivered when I mentioned Hondo. Hondo was her new security guard hired because the old ones didn’t notice when Summer went and gave them the slip. But then he’d stabbed his back and was involved in this whole situation involving the removal of Rhonda Rhino’s horn. He’d handcuffed us and did that whole pointing-a-gun at us act, but honestly he hadn’t hurt us
“Do you think that they’d be out to do any harm?”
“I dunno. Honestly I assumed that they were after the dolphins, but maybe they’re after something else?”
“Yeah, what would they be after? Because going after some dolphins are kinda lame”
“Well, in the dolphin’s defense, they are worth half a million each”
“Maybe…” Summer started. She never got to finish the sentence. Someone broke down the door and let themselves in.
We spent about twenty minutes to complete a run which I assumed in a car, would’ve been less than five. It was only about a mile, but Cyrus forced us to hide behind a tree every time we saw a light or anything. When we finally arrived at FunJungle, we hoped the fence, which was surprisingly low for a multi-billion dollar project. Cyrus led us to the building near the entrance, which we assumed was administration. We scouted the three levels until we reached the top, where eventually we found JJ’s office. Erica pulled out her lock-picking kit (“Travel Size” provided by the CIA) and we broke in.
You could taste the awkwardness in the room. Summer and Teddy were frozen together, JJ snapped out of his thought, and the security guards looked at us curiously.
Erica did the talking “So we should explain who we are, but are you going to introduce yourself?”
They went around the room, although we knew who most of them were. The boy who was my size’s name was “Teddy” and the two security guards were “Bubba and Marge” We went around, and then we tried to explain. Or, Erica did and we all kind of stood back and nodded when they looked at us to confirm what she was saying.
Erica talked about how we were from the CIA and that we were after the evil organization group “SPYDER” who we presumed was occupying Super Shoes Inc. She creatively avoided how we were Spies and talking about Spy School by shocking them with as much information as we could give them. After she was done, JJ spoke up.
“So…what exactly do we do?”
“Honestly, I don’t know. If you haven’t figured it out, SPYDER is very dangerous, even to us. We’ve heard of what Summer and Teddy could do, but that was with relatively lame villains”
“Like you’ve done anything” Teddy retorted. A part of me was feeling he spoke up only to get Erica’s attention, mostly because of his crush on her, which even Alexander had figured out.
“Have you survived gunfire in the middle of the night five seconds before a missile lands a hundred feet from you?” She glared at Teddy, which made him stand down.
“Anyways…I want you to help us with access throughout the park JJ, but we don’t need anyone else. The government sent us down here for a reason, and we don’t need assistance”
JJ nodded. “I get your point. But are you sure you don’t need Summer and Teddy?” They can be clever at times…”
Erica stopped him. “We’re fine. Where should we meet up tomorrow?”
“How about here at 7:30? Everyone at the park gets here no earlier than 7:45 before the park opens at 8, so it’ll be abandoned before then”
Erica shook hands with him “We’ll see you then”. She lead the way as we followed her out of the room.
Once we’d completely left the building, I asked her “How much do you want to bet Summer and Teddy try to invade our meeting?”
“Fifty bucks” she replied, a grin creeping on her face.
“I’m assuming you planned the meeting to happen not only on their territory, but also for them to be there”
“Do you really underestimate them?”
“Really?” She glanced at me with a you’re-too-dumb-to-live look. “Of course it was a bluff. Have you seen their track record. Teddy seems to stumble across the plot out of nowhere, and Summer probably knows her way around the park better than JJ. If SPYDER is anywhere, we’ll find them with Summer and Teddy. Though their combat skills are pretty much worthless…hopefully we don’t need them for that”
Erica’s plans for the most part were right, so I just had to trust her. Also running a mile and change and break-neck speed with an evil organization chasing you was, surprisingly, tiring. I crashed as soon as we made it back to the hotel.
As soon as Erica, Cyrus, Alexander, and Ben followed by JJ, Bubba and Marge left, I asked Summer “So what are we going to do?”
“You mean after we get into their meeting with JJ?”
“No after I turn into a billionaire”
“Haha, well y’know I could give you a ‘small’ loan of a billion dollars. Anyway, yes, it’s kind of like that situation that you had to deal with when Kazoo the Koala went missing. You had to prove that you didn’t steal him by solving the case, although here it’s a variation where we have to prove that we can solve cases so that they let us in the meat of things”
“Do you have a plan if they know we’re going to be there?”
She waved that idea off. “Are you serious? They think we’re some lame thirteen year olds that got lucky three times in a row. Also, I know five other ways to get in this room. We should be fine
“I’m assuming we should get here by 6:45?”
“7:15. It’ll take you at least half an hour to explain things to your mom”
I forgot about my mom. It would be never ending to convince her that this was “safe”. I sighed. “Ok, I gotta go to sleep and prepare how to talk to my mom. Where should we meet?”
“Meet near Hippo river. See ya”
I paused. Hippo River was far from the administration building. But it’s not like I don’t trust her.
I shrugged my shoulder as I walked back to my trailer where my mom had gone back to sleep and so did I, as soon as I landed on my bed.
We left a note on everyone’s bed to meet us at the lobby at 11 to go do some recon. I knew at least Nefarious, Warren and Zoe would buy it, but Chip would definitely go looking for the missing bodies of Ben, Erica, Cyrus and Alexander, although without the van Cyrus was using to take us to FunJungle, he really couldn’t do much. Erica had woke me up and we’d gone to FunJungle.
JJ had a security guard open the gate and we walked toward the building. On the way home, we’d talked about what we needed to be done so that we could bait Summer and Teddy to do what we needed.
“So are we sure that SPYDER wants the dolphins?”
“Yeah, but we have no idea how they get from the tank all the way to where they’re storing them. After a laser scan we saw that there was a tank under the building”
“So why don’t you laser scan FunJungle to find where they’re taking them?”
“It’s four feet of concrete. If you want to sit next to the tank for a couple of hours, by all means do it”
We were in the hallway that led to JJ’s office. We had a half-plan which only worked if Summer and Teddy listened in and then tried to follow our plan, which Erica claimed was “1000% going to happen”
When we walked into the room, it was obvious where they were. I mean, the ceiling tiles were practically falling out of their sockets. I think the kid that had tried to beat me up with a toy sword back at Spy School could’ve done a better job. I tried not to give anything way through my expression and listened to the conversation with Erica and JJ.
“So you’re sure…this SPYDER…is plotting to take our dolphins?” JJ asked.
“Yes. They have a tank and they’re ready to store and I presume hold them for ransom”
“I’m going to ask the obvious question. How do we stop this?”
“Well the most logical way is to cut off where they could possibly take the dolphins out of site, which is where you come in”
“Me?” He pointed a thumb at his self.
“Yes. We need to see if there was a route built or created that would take the dolphins below ground, whether it was built by you or not”
“I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t though. I mean, if it was in the blueprints or anything, I would’ve known. Did you see the dolphin parade? There was a point to letting the media know…”
“Ok, ok. So yeah, later today, we’re going to go back and look underground near the dolphin area. There are two other things that we need though”
“We’re going to need access to your park 24/7. Keys, keypad codes, anything” JJ started to protest but Erica shushed him. “Yes, I know it’s a lot to give to strangers, but you’ll find a way to get over it if you’re dolphins got stolen. Also, we need a background check over everyone, for moles of course. Ay employees you have do a background check”
JJ thought about it for a second, before he agreed. “Alright. The password, is 102602- Summer’s Birthday. It opens pretty much every door. I think I can swing a background check by the end of the day, if you’re including past construction workers and such.” He paused “I don’t know why the heck I even trust you guys. You have some sort of contact or anything? It’ll make me feel better about giving you all my info”
Erica gave him the CIA’s business number, which honestly was no help because there was a million people calling to the CIA asking them to send agents for whatever reason. We shook hands and we left the room. Then, we sprinted toward the dolphins exhibit, knowing that we had five minutes before the park opening and we didn’t need anyone seeing us breaking in.
I thought we did a really good job hiding. Summer and I had gotten up to the room at 6:45 and we climbed onto the roof of ceiling tiles and started a recorder when the agents had walked in. We were as still as…whatever doesn’t move at seven in the morning and listened in on the conversation. Trying to be quiet, we’d bought our phones and were texting each other to communicate.
“So we’re going over there right?”
“Yeah. My dad was smarter than I expected”
“What?” I replied.
“That code he gave them opens every door here…except for the dolphin exhibit”
“But he said it’s the master…”
She visibly put her hand up before she continued typing. “Yeah, but considering that it’s my birthday-really stupid if you ask me- some idiot who looked it up online would get lucky, so he had a separate code installed for the dolphins”
“And then what are we going to do”
She looked at me like I was too dumb to live. “Honestly I didn’t know how people would steal the dolphins until I remembered construction created a sewage pipe where the filtered material from the pool goes. I don’t know where it leads to, but I know it headed in the direction of this SPYDER’s building and it’s plenty big enough to hold some dolphins”
“Your dad doesn’t know about it?”
“Trying to do damage control that people threatened our lives was more important to him than looking at construction and the blueprints I guess”
The agents were leaving and by the looks of it, they had the same idea of heading to the dolphin exhibit too.
“C’mon” Summer said aloud “There’s a way we can get there faster nobody knows about”
We jumped down from the ceiling and sprinted out the door. Instead of following the walkways, we went to the building next door where we went through a door that led to a walkway covered by foliage and chicken-wired fencing. I followed her down the straight pathway where there was another door at the end. We walked through that door, through a small maze of halls to another door.
Suddenly, we appeared right in front of the key pad to the door. Where we spotted some people who’d just arrived and tried JJ’s code.
We stared at the agents. They started to form around the keypad as if us looking at it would break it. I spoke up right when Erica was about to speak.
“Ok so the whole park is about to open and we don’t want people trying to break into the dolphin exhibit. If you want to step away from it, Summer knows the real code and we’ll talk inside”
I was surprised by the calmness in my voice. Summer’s nodding confirmed it. Erica glanced at Ben before the cleared a path to the keypad. Summer didn’t bother covering the code, she typed in her birthday and we were in.
As soon as the door closed, Erica turned on us. “Ok, I’ll give you a minute to explain how you got here before us before you need to get out” Then, she pulled a gun on us.
I know Erica was mad when Summer and Teddy showed up, but because Summer put in the right code, one her father was lenient to give us, I thought she’d be nice to them. I didn’t expect the gun.
“Whoa why the gun?” Summer shrieked.
Erica replied coldly “The safety of us is more important than any help you could give. You have thirty seconds”
Summer thought for a second before she replied “Look, if you wanna kill us, that’s fine, I’m not going to threaten you with JJ anyways”
Erica lowered her gun. “Killing isn’t our thing you know. More like, we beat you up for stalking us before we send you back”
“ANYWAYS, I think I have an idea where this SPYDER is planning on moving the dolphins. JJ doesn’t know and probably won’t tell you anything important. If you want to beat us up now, it’s been a minute” Summer glanced at Erica.
I wasn’t really planning on helping beat up Erica and Teddy. I mean Teddy seemed like a nice enough kid who always seemed to stumble into trouble, and Summer, well how could I not have a crush on a really pretty blonde built like Erica who also was pretty intelligent, smart, and could blind you with her smile. She was friendly and funny while most rocks had more personality than Erica.
Erica glanced at me and then she sighed. “Well, show us what you know. But you know the
punishment for lying…”
“Yeah, Yeah whatever. So you’re looking for some sort of tube right?”
“Anything dolphins could fit through” Erica replied, Teddy staring intently at her.
“Well, it wasn’t in the blueprints, but there was a sewage pipe installed that does lead toward the direction of SPYDER’s headquarters or whatever you call it”
We cautiously followed Summer down a maze of hallways and down a set of stairs. This was more of a setup than anything else. There was most likely security guards or something down the hall where Summer led us, but Erica had one of those feeling she was safe because, well, she was following her.
Once we were down in the basement I could see this sewage pipe. There was a web of smaller pipes that were attached to the tank where the dolphins were being held that lead to a central box, which had the sewage pipe connected to it.
Teddy spoke up. “Is there a way to get into it?”
I walked over to the pipe and looked around it. Out of curiosity, I jumped, and there was a small vent above. “Found an entrance!” I yelled from the top of the metal pipe.
Everyone climbed to the top of the pipe, and Erica pried open the metal grate with a flathead screwdriver from her utility belt. Erica, Cyrus and Alexander jumped in.
“It’s a 30 minute walk. You sure you can afford it?” I asked both of them.
Summer grabbed Teddy’s hand, which obviously made him blush and she announced “Of course. We don’t have to be back by like noon and anyways I want to see where this goes”
All three of us jumped into the pipe and began on our adventure.
Summer grabbing my hand made it felt like the cheesiness you find in a movie. It’s just like a walk to a building we’ve been to and back, no big deal right? But I think complying with this task meant more, we were in for the whole ride now.
Inside, it was exactly what you expected a sewage pipe to be like. It was dark with a faint light every couple of minutes which I assumed were for workers to somewhat see, and there was a lot of gunk on the ground which we had to avoid by walking on the sides of the circular tube. Erica had fallen behind when Cyrus and Alexander wanted to sprint up there to see if it connected in any way to SPYDER’s base.
“So I don’t believe we’ve met without me pointing a gun at you” She shook hands with Teddy and Summer, which was really weird for her, the only other times she’d had hand to hand combat not in a fight with enemy agents was with Cyrus…or me.
“Why are you so cold?” Teddy said, out of the blue. We all turned at him before Erica sighed.
“It took a while to explain this to Ben” she said pointing at me “But in the spy business, you just can’t be nice. That’s how people are killed. You be really nice to one person and the next thing you know they turn on you and shoot you. You guys will be safe in your nice FunJungle suites while we have to lug it out somewhere across the US in the middle of the woods”
“Uh, have you seen the trailers. Trust me, the woods are the Ritz compared to the dinghy motor homes” Teddy replied.
“Not when you have an enemy organization after you and when you have no supplies. At the very least every day you’re guaranteed food, a roof and that you’ll wake up in the morning”
Summer finally spoke up, which got me listening “Who is this SPYDER anyways?”
Erica thought about it for a second before she responded “I don’t expect you guys to get this, but SPYDER is an international organization who before we thought were evil guys, which they still are, but based on their last plot, they’re more of a money making greedy business than evil terrorists. Did you remember how they tried to blow up the New York bridges”
Summer looked surprised. “That was them? What was the goal of that anyway?”
Erica again pondered her answer before she responded “Ok, this is part of a CIA cover-up so please don’t go blabbering to your daddy or the news about what really happened, got it?” The glare in Erica’s eyes, even in the dark, seemed to burn through the fiercely nodding heads of the two thirteen-year-olds. “Well, in reality, SPYDER has this company, Lew Brothers, that is a major construction company. They were going to get paid billions to fix the bridges once they destroyed them”
While Teddy looked to be intrigued by the fact, Summer look shocked. She managed to sputter out “Wait…can…you repeat..the company name…SPYDER…owns?”
“Lew Brothers. Why?”
“That’s the name of the construction company who built the dolphin tanks…and the one who surveyed the entire park above and underground for new hotel and other attraction opportunities”
Erica muttered a curse. “So they know pretty much everything about the park?”
Summer nodded. “They could’ve installed anything and we wouldn’t have known, the only reason I know about this sewage tank is because I got bored and poked around here, which they let me do, as the previous construction company did”
Erica started to ask her questions but suddenly we heard Cyrus yell from the end of the pipe.
“Erica! We hit gold! Come as fast as you can!” Cyrus hollered, not caring if someone could hear him because we were ten feet underground outside the park. As soon as we heard him, we stopped talking and sprinted toward the end as fast as we could.
Erica was quite a character. I didn’t know how to react. She bested Summer in every way except for the fact her personality was as exciting as my history textbook. But she seemed to come around. Now we were sprinting toward the end of a sewage tunnel with them, and five minutes later we met Cyrus and Alexander at what looked to be a submarine ladder.
“Are we good?” Erica asked.
“See for yourself” Cyrus waved a hand to the ladder.
First Erica followed by Ben, and being the gentleman I was, I let Summer go ahead of me. When we got there it was creepy.
It wasn’t what I thought it would be like. I was assuming that it would lead to some sort of major headquarters you’d see in the movies with huge computers, desks, and numbers with a green font. Instead we were in what looked to be a lobby of some business corporation. Soft jazz played in the corner with some couches, plants, and a sizeable desk in the middle.
I saw a piece of paper sticking out of a drawer inside the concierge’s desk so of course, I pulled open the drawer. Of course, then the alarms sounded.
“What’d you do!” Summer shrieked.
“I don’t know!” I yelled while Erica yelled “Get back in the pipe!”
There was a part in me that the contents of this drawer was important so with as much power I could I yanked the drawer, which fell surprisingly easily out of its bearings and tucked it under my arm like a football.
SPYDER agents poured through the front door, I’m assuming the nearby motor home complex I’d seen on drives down this road housed them, and their guns started firing. I ducked under the desk with the drawer in me, and in the moment, I threw a binder clip I found at the desk at the stairs behind it, putting the agents off guard for half a second, which I needed.
In a split second I stood on the desk and dived into the circular hole, hidden by a plant which had moved been moved by Summer. Honestly, if my mom hadn’t put me through diving camp when I was 8, I would’ve clocked my head, bodY, or legs on the edge of the tube. Instead I arced my back beautifully which swished me into the hole the way Lebron James would with a basketball shot. Erica caught me on the way down while Summer climbed up the ladder and shut the door tightly.
Then we sprinted down the tube because for us, there was a chance that there’d be no tomorrow.
My instincts and my reactions helped me escape into the whole as soon as I heard the alarm go off. We all piled into the hole except for Teddy, who was screwing around under the desk. Erica and I glanced at each other because we realized one thing: He couldn’t survive a second with SPYDER. Suddenly we saw him flying down the hole out of nowhere. Erica stuck her arms out and caught up, to the delight of Teddy. Summer closed the hatch and we ran.
Alexander may not know how to throw a punch but he was definitely in shape to run. Cyrus held his own against the four kids, which thankfully we were all in shape. We made it back to the dolphin tank in a little over five minutes, and then it took us another fifteen long, tired minutes to get to JJ’s office, which was thankfully empty.
I was breathing heavily, leaning on Summer who honestly didn’t care. After a couple of minutes to catch our breath, I spoke up “Teddy, what the heck did you risk your life for”
I panted for a second, hands on my knees, before I produced the drawer “I…saw something…thought….it might be…important”
Erica, who looked like she was disappointed in her speed, suddenly grinned at me “Smart to get the drawer, let me see what you have” She went through it and found a bunch of documents, basically the document which had confirmed that Lew Brothers had constructed the building, and various blueprints that diagrammed the sewage pipe connecting the building to the dolphin tank.
“OK, so it looks like SPYDER’s on to us. But at least we can confirm this definitely wasn’t a sewage pipe: it even shows right here that they front is detachable so that they could get the dolphins into the pipe, but we don’t know why they would go through the trouble of this whole thing” Erica explained to us.
Summer looked confused “Well, aren’t they evil and stuff? You said that they created a whole gated community for their evil schemes. I mean the dolphins are worth about a couple of million total. Wouldn’t they just do it for the money?”
Ben shook his head. “No, no SPYDER ‘s not like that anymore. They’re goal is to make money, not be famously evil. What’s an ulterior motive that they’d go through all the trouble of doing this?”
Erica spoke up “Exactly what we’re going to figure out today. Summer, you said that the dolphin show or whatever opens tomorrow at 8 right?” Summer nodded in confirmation. “Meaning we have today and a little of tomorrow to figure out what their true plan is. Summer and Teddy, you guys go to all the dolphin trainers and see if anyone is acting suspicious. We need to find their mole. Alexander and Cyrus are willing to go back to SPYDER headquarters, and Ben and I…well we’ll do our role”
I didn’t like that they’d be alone. “What exactly are you doing?” I asked.
“I would’ve told you if I wanted to. Anyways, meet up back here by 7 tonight” she said, before we all awkwardly exited the room.
Summer and I talked to all the dolphin keepers to little avail, which was unfortunate because it took until 7 to find them all and talk to them. Although to be honest, it didn’t really matter. Christopher, the head keeper, had been hired for years and was working with the other aquatic creatures and had only been moved to head dolphin keeper because of the newly acquired animals.
Ronnie was a 25 year old fresh out of college that was slightly new but a couple months before SPYDER ever invaded Texas. He’d gotten a bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology and did some field work for FunJungle in part of his bid for a Master’s Degree.
Josie, who actually was hired by seven months ago, pretty much knew nothing about dolphins and was only there to read cue cards and be attractive. She was put in Carnivore Canyon and was moved just yesterday, and the only reason it took us an hour to find her because she was an hour late, because of “Make up purposes”
“You know we’re going to be in trouble because we didn’t find anything, right?” I asked Summer, after our whole debacle with Josie.
“Well, if it isn’t one of the dolphin keepers, maybe it’s someone else who was recently hired? I mean, it could be anybody who could give SPYDER information right?”
“I guess so. Is there a quick way to check that?”
“Well, sort of, I mean I know everyone here, but I don’t know exactly when they were hired, but we can rule out a bunch. Such as Marge and Bubba”
We’d somehow walked all the way into JJ’s office absent-mindedly. Summer sat down at JJ’s desk and started typing away. “There’s a spare laptop in that drawer over there. If you help me with this, we’ll get down twice as quickly”
I powered open the laptop and sighed. This wasn’t the glamour and excitement I’d hoped that came along with fighting an international terrorist organization. I put in the first information and wrote down when he was hired. This was going to take a while.
“What exactly are we going to do?” I asked Erica. It was noon, and after our conversation with Teddy and Summer, we’d changed into somewhat normal tourist clothing, and now we were standing in the main pavilion right in front of Hippo River. Alexander and Cyrus had to go fetch everyone back at the hotel an hour ago before they would leave an expedition into SPYDER headquarters. How they qould explain Erica and I missing would remain a mystery.
“Well we had to get rid of them some way. We’ve got to figure out what SPYDER’s plan here is exactly”
“Got any ideas?” I asked her.
“Just as many as you” She replied. We started with a quick laser scan of all the buildings just to conclude SPYDER wasn’t planning on blowing up the park or something. We didn’t find any explosives in between the walls, so then we moved onto the dolphin exhibit. We got into the dome like structure using the back door, and we glanced around the same maintenance area behind the tank with the sewage pipe as if looking at it after a hundred times we would find the key to the puzzle.
After an hour of looking at our only clue, we sat in the bleacher like area surrounding the big dolphin tank where in a little more than 24 hours, would be filled with people ready to watch a dolphin show without any dolphins. It was 2, and all the workers had abandoned the place, so we could make as much of a racket as we wanted to. I’d never seen Erica this down before. Normally, she would’ve been composed, but she… almost seemed to be sulking.
“Are you okay?” I asked her, taking a step back, waiting for whiplash.
She shrugged her shoulders. “The organization is going to put me into the field if two things happen on this trip. One: We stop SPYDER from doing whatever. And two, I lighten up. Apparently someone, Alexander most likely, blabbed about me saying that you have to be heartless or whatever back on the ship in New Jersey. It’s pretty bad to be heartless when a fellow agent is down and you have to choose to save them or yourself. They’re making me be all light and stuff, which luckily for Summer and Teddy, is about as much of me as they can handle”
“Are you serious? So you can’t figure out what SPYDER is doing…because you have to be nice?”
She turned to me and grinned “It doesn’t help that they’re as confusing as calculus is to a 5 year old.”
“So you have no idea what they could even plan on doing?” I asked her.
“Not a clue. Well, enough chit-chat time to get going” She responded, although honestly I would blow the whole mission to just talk to Erica somewhat normally.
“So, where to?”
“JJ’s office. I’m sure something valuable is going to pop up there”
We made the trek over to the administration building and walked to the top floor, where we had the clattering of laptop keyboards, We walked in to see Teddy and Summer typing away.
They stopped and looked up at us, which I responded with “What are you guys doing?”
Summer quickly explained “So the dolphin keepers had no idea what the heck SPYDER was which makes sense: because SPYDER only just infiltrated 7 or so months ago and they’d been here for years. So we figured maybe SPYDER hired someone in a completely different field. I mean, as long as they had insider access, it didn’t really matter. Only problem is that there’s over a hundred or so workers, not to mention construction workers which at the very least triples that number.”
“I guess that makes sense” Erica replied. “How many have you gone through?”
Summer replied “Well it takes a while because you have to scroll all the way down to find when the page was added so in the thirty minutes we’ve been here: 40 so far”
Erica stuttered for a second. I could obviously tell she was holding back from bossing around everyone, but she kept her calm composure. “Ok, I guess you can do that. Do you mind if we go through all these blueprints? We might be able to find something?”
Summer stared at Erica for half a second. She looked up and down her, for any signs that she was keeping something from them. She didn’t see anything. “Go for it” she replied, waving her hand somewhat dismissively while she turned back to her computer, typing in employee name after employee name.
Erica went straight for the “D” section while she instructed me to start at the “A” section so that in the situation SPYDER was trying to attack any other building or use another building to get the dolphins, it’d be quicker to figure out where. I pulled out a big packet and drawing of the “Amazon Adventure” and went to work scouring the blueprint for a tunnel or entryway and the packet of notes for any added features. I quickly glanced out at the massive park and it’s seemingly endless attractions. I sighed and began reading.
Summer added “Not to mention we looked through hundreds of employee pages and we couldn’t find one employee recently hired enough to be SPYDER’s mole”
Alexander finally stopped looking at…Mr. Wigglebottom to speak up “So what do we do now dad?”
Cyrus looked at Erica “When can we talk to JJ?”
She thought for a second “After his press conference at 12 to promote the dolphin show, which may not happen if we can’t figure this out”
“Alright, we’ll see you there” Cyrus said before taking Ben and Erica back to the hotel.
The next morning was flat out rough. You have no idea how hard it is when a very strong and agile spy –in-training comes up to you and basically wants to kill you because you got to sneak off on a mission while he had to deal with Nefarious wanting food and Warren being Warren for three hours. Luckily, Chip was put in a better mood when Cyrus told us to come to the press conference together, so that there “wasn’t any whining”
We got there half an hour before it started, meaning that even though the press conference was outside in a parking lot, we still were almost half a football field from JJ, although with Cyrus’s binoculars, you’d think you were right there in the front row.
30 minutes later one of JJ’s pretty spokeswoman came out on stage to introduce him and all the other assorted admin involved in the dolphin show. Warren suddenly looked like he’d seen a ghost.
“Um guys” he whispered, raising his hand like he was in a classroom.
You can only take so much of the guy. And the car ride was just about as much as we could take.
We all screamed in unison “WHAT WARREN”
“Do you guys know who that is?” he said pointing to the stage,
We instinctively looked at Josie, who was one of FunJungle’s many recent spokeswomen hired. “Um yeah, that’s Josie? Pretty blond? High School Kid?”
“No that’s not a normal high school kid. I’ve been her biggest fan my whole life. That’s Ashley Sparks”
We glanced back at her for a second before everything suddenly clicked, Warren was right about something, that was Ashley Sparks. Former gymnast who had gone evil and turned to SPYDER.
Ashley must’ve noticed us because suddenly a bunch of smoke bombs were launched into the cloud, although before the smoke engulfed my vision, I saw one thing: Ashley kidnapping JJ McCracken.
I was in the administration building looking outside a window that overlooked the parking lot, or in this case, the parking lot that had been converted into the grand press conference for JJ’s dolphin extravaganza. I’d wanted to be right on stage where Summer was, but JJ said it was “bad for the press” to have some random kid on the stage, so the next best thing was to let me in to the administration building which honestly was better than standing outside in the sweltering Texas heat. I’d wanted to be on JJ’s side, because y’know, SPYDER was around, and I knew they would strike.
Not a minute into the press conference, I was proven right.
It was Josie and Carly and Samantha who’d assisted in JJ’s kidnapping, which I couldn’t believe. The whole time we’d simply ruled them out because they were dumb. SPYDER seemed to always be a step ahead and realized they could plant three of their younger, female agents to pose as not-so-bright high school kids looking to make a quick buck reading information cards.
As soon as I saw it, I ran out of the administration building and started trying to fight the obviously upset crowds to find Summer and JJ. Thankfully, Summer found me first and pulled me up to the stage, so it’d be easy to run towards JJ.
“What happened?” I asked her, sprinting.
“I don’t know. My mom walked out of the car, followed by me, and then by JJ. Josie stood right at the top of the flight of stairs leading to the top of the stage when she just snatched him. The others were at the bottom of the stairs and they ran to a nearby getaway car” We ran out onto the main road where we saw a glimpse of the black car speeding away before it disappeared over the horizon. We saw the kid-spy gang and motioned for them to come over.
Erica asked Summer “Did you see the car?”
“Only for a second. It was a black van”
“I’m 13, who memorizes license plates?”
They all turned to Ben, who meekly raised his hand, before speaking up. “Obviously that’s what’s SPYDER’s been after the whole time. The head of the whole company. JJ. He could easily be ransomed for all he’s got, what, a couple of billion dollars. Worst case is all the profit from FunJungle goes to SPYDER. They never wanted the dolphins.”
We all had a moment of realization. If SPYDER wanted a good ransom, sure JJ would be fine, but without the dolphin show, that would spark a national outrage. It’d be much easier to comply with SPYDER’s demands if they stole the dolphins. Suddenly we all turned around at the park and wheeled it over to the dolphin stadium, where our fears were confirmed: in the midst of all the chaos, SPYDER had distracted us yet again, this time, taking FunJungle’s most prized possession.
So all heck broke lose pretty much when JJ was dragged off the stage. People went crazy, pretty much every thing that could be remotely used as a weapon, shoes, purses, rocks, were flung toward the stage as a last-ditch effort to stop the bad guys. But alas, it didn’t work, and we were caught in this wild outbreak of insanity. It took a miracle to not only stay together, but find Teddy and Sumer. And an even bigger miracle to get back to our car and tail SPYDER.
We didn’t have any extra seats so Summer and Teddy just piled onto the floor. At this point, the last thing on our minds was getting pulled over by the cops.
“So do we have any idea where SPYDER could be taking them” Teddy asked. This was after the car had zoomed past Super Shoes Inc.
“No other intel” Cyrus replied at the wheel, shaking his head. “We’d always that that they’d be there forever. I guess we were wrong.
“How far could they be?”
“No Idea. They could be halfway to Dallas right now, to take us away from the dolphins, but right now, JJ is the number one concern”
Luckily, we didn’t have to make a four hour drive to Dallas. Unluckily, we took a five hour drive around San Antonio. It took SPYDER that long, trying to shake us, and in the end, they finally just led us to an empty warehouse building. I’m sure they didn’t want to leave JJ there, but they had a full tank of gas, as did we, and we were running dangerously low. The last thing they didn’t want is to be stranded by a forest and have to carry him through the woods on a gurney.
They hurried the shadowy figure into the building with about ten men around him, guns pulled out, looking at the van.
“Are they going to shoot?” I asked.
“Through our bulletproof wall and windows? They couldn’t hurt us. And the last thing they want is gunfire”
Summer, out of the blue, asked “Why? I mean, we can shoot ‘em down and then we’ll take JJ right?”
Cyrus chuckled at Summer. “No, it isn’t like the movies. If we shoot back at them, and I don’t want to resort to this, we can shoot JJ. We’d legally get away from it because we could claim it was a missed shot”
Summer’s eyes widened. “Wait…WHAT. WHY?. No, you can’t, not my dad…”
Cyrus put a hand up. “Yes, I know. Of course, we won’t resort to that, but if it means saving the park..anyway I shouldn’t be thinking this”
Summer calmed down. “Explain what good killing my dad suddenly happens”
Cyrus shrugged like the murder of an international celebrity was no big deal. “Well if he’s dead then they don’t have anything to ransom. Anyways here’s the plan”
After Cyrus told us what we were to do, we all grabbed our guns (except for Teddy, Summer and I, who were held to tasers) we waited five minutes before we stealthily ran to the front door, and picked the lock.
That was when SPYDER, out of nowhere, pounced on Erica, Alexander, Cyrus and Summer.
This story was finished on August 12, 201
TEDDY: They were gone so fast, I almost laughed, but then I remembered I was in a life or death situation.
I was just amazed. I looked at them picking at the lock, turned toward Ben, who's eyes suddenly grew, glanced back at them, and they were gone.
It didn't take a genius what to do next.
We ran like heck, first around the warehouse and then zig zagged throughout the yard even though we didn't hear gunfire. I honestly through we were going to try and stop them, but of course, Ben had taken charge and told me that we needed to get to safety, but frankly the kid had les muscle than me and I never believed he had supposedly "saved the world" thrice. Behind a tree we came up with out plan.
"What do we do? Repel to the top. Use suction-cups to get around the side? Climb this tree and zip-line through the window?" I asked, eager for some excitement but nervous at the same time.
"No" Ben replied "We're going to sneak through the front door"
"But won't they see us?"
"How else do you think we're going to get in, huh? Do you have a grappling hook or a zip line? Can you climb a rusty, flat-walled warehouse? We can't all be Erica you know!" he hissed at me in a whisper, to which I responded by raising my hands.
"Sheesh, I'm sorry, new to this whole Spy thing you know"
"It's fine, just follow my lead and come in"
We waited a minute, to which Ben had been tapping his watch every second just to see what time it was. This kid had more jitters than me. At some seemingly random time, we ran to the doors we'd tried to pick, and to our luck, they were unlocked. Slowly, we opened the door which squeaked ever so slightly. We paused and looked around for them.
Thankfully this wasn't like a video game where every room is dark and a jump-scare was just waiting around the corner. It was an open warehouse with the lights on, although considering that they were bounded and gagged on chairs in a circle placed in the middle of the warehouse, there was still that video-game feel to it.
"This is weird" Ben whispered, who'd crouched down in the corner.
"How?" I asked "I saw a similar scene in some spy move"
"Exactly. SPYDER never plays by the unofficial spy-movie rules"
"What do you think they're planning?"
"I don't know, just walk under the rafters and see if we can get near them without being seen"
We lasted approximately three seconds. I didn't know that by tip-toeing, you're placing a lot of weight on one tiny toe. Ben had spread his weight out evenly through his whole foot, quietly walking near the wall. I stepped on a loose plate and exposed us.
"Come out Ripley and company, we've known you're there" someone from the center of the circle announced. "Hands up if you don't want to be knocked out"
With our hands placed above our heads, we walked out of the shadows into the light, where I finally took in this whole hostage scenario. It was... abnormal. Only Cyrus, Alexander, Summer, and Erica were gagged. JJ was holding a contract in one hand, and a pen in the other. True he was still tied to the chair, but he could talk.
"So I guess we're going to have to kill you after this, but I guess you at least want to know what's going on. Hi, I'm Joshua Hallal" the man said, at which point I almost expected him to stick a hand out for me to shake.
"Care to explain...this?" I asked, seemingly waving a hand at the hostage scene.
"I think Ben's figured it out, care to explain Ben?"
Ben sighed and started talking. "So Josh is a head member of SPYDER who's pretty much immortal. He's taken the dolphins to distract us from stopping them from taking JJ, who they could ransom in exchange for the profits of the park, to sum up"
Joshua laughed. "Are you kidding we're not that stupid"
Ben thought for a second and then looked at the contract. "You never wanted to kidnap JJ, you just wanted to make a deal with him"
"Exactly. See I knew what a business man JJ was, and that he'd rather die than give up his billion dollar park"
"So that's why he was never around" Ben said "All those meeting were with members of SPYDER in an attempt to get his signature. You were going to transfer it onto a document that would look like JJ had signed over the profits of the park to you"
"See" Joshua sneered "We can be non-violent we want to. You just had to get involved, so we had to kidnap JJ, but only for a little while, just until we could convince him to sign to any deal, which he refused."
Joshua raised his gun "This time there's no waiting Ben" he said, when all of a sudden, a flying grappling hook knocked it out of his hand.
"What?!?" I exclaimed, before the showdown began.
BEN: I timed it perfectly. Outside when Teddy had though I was anxious to start, I was really sending Morse code to Zoe via a network on our watches that even SPYDER couldn't intercept. The grappling hook was something I "taught" her during my first year, a scene I still reminisce over year old marshmallows in spoiled hot chocolate by a broken fireplace at Spy School.
They'd been on the roof, and after a perfect knock out, they flew down on ropes, Bond-style. Well, all of them but Nefarious, who kind of slid but ended up belly flopping and flattening an enemy agent.
Suddenly, the seven other SPYDER agents came out of the house to challenge us. Ashley, Murray, some of my old teachers and another agent I didn't know sprung and were ready. Chip had been carrying a pocket knife and quickly slid Erica and company out of their gags. They popped up and we attacked SPYDER.
The fight lasted thirty seconds. I don't know why people like a good 'ol classic karate fight (or in Ashley's case gymnastic-karate duo) but why do all that work when you have chloroform on your side. We kicked them all in the land down under, uppercut the ones who weren't completely sprawled on the ground and hit them with a chloroform rag, which would leave them out for around an hour. Joshua, had sadly left, but it didn't matter. We called the CIA to get these guys, took JJ, group hugged for half a second, and realized we were in big trouble.
JJ would be dead in an hour if we didn't get those dolphins back to FunJungle and put on a show. Not by SPYDER, but the VIP crowd, some of whom paid 5 figures for their prime tickets.
Finding the dolphins was hard but manageable. It helped that we'd got a tip from a man at a truck stop who'd remembered the license plate of the strange truck with the tank on it's trunk.
Dolphins in...our control, we booked it back to FunJungle turning a thirty minute drive into a fifteen minute drive. As soon as we got back to FunJungle, what crowd left their suddenly saw JJ had flipped on him.
There was lots of profanity, lots of confusion, lots of throwing stuff and everyone asking the same question: What in the heck just happened?
We'd gotten a mic and JJ stood on the roof of our car. "PEOPLE" his voiced bellowed "WE ALL WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO ME! MY PR GUY PETE WILL SCHEDULE A PRESS CONFERENCE TOMORROW, BUT FOR KNOW, LET'S GET THOSE DOLPHINS TO THEIR STAGE"
It took a while, and after a thirty minute delay to not only wrangle the dolphins, but to wrangle the people who'd left right after JJ's kidnapping, the show started, with a surprise.
JJ reached into his pocket and whipped out four tickets "Here, these are some of my extra seats, I would use them, but I'm a mess" He handed them to Summer and told her to pick three other people, which was the easiest pick of her life. Then, something better happened. JJ had installed this special seating in the roof of the dome where the show was, and once we got up there, it was just us four: Teddy, Summer, Erica (who looked sad, yet relieved) and me, all alone. In a seating area for twenty.
Summer smiled at me, and I swear a flash of jealousy went across Erica's face, who suddenly reached for my...
This story was finished on August 12, 201