SECRET AGENT TWINS:
Copyright © 2017 L.A. Skinner
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The Beginning 3
Meeting Granddad 5
Republic Of Tajoria 10
Saving Granddad 16
Enter the CIA 21
Training starts 26
Race to DC 38
Running out of Time 42
Home again 50
Secret Agent Twins, Book 2: PROTO 52
“Come on, we’ll be late,” Mum called to Sam and Toby, “We have an hour’s drive to Granddad and your father and I still have a flight to catch.” Sam and Toby were in their rooms packing the last of their things for a visit to their Granddad. They would be staying with him while Mum and Dad attend a conference on nuclear weapons. You see Sam and Toby’s Mum, Elaine, is a scientist working for the United States environmental agency and was asked to give a talk on why we should consider a world-wide ban on nuclear weapons. Their Dad, James, is an attache to the UN, kind of a go-between between the President and the United Nations. It’s all they have talked about for months now and really all it means to Sam and Toby is that they will be stuck for a week with a grumpy old man.
“I don’t think he even has a Play Station,” grumbled Toby as he entered Sam’s room.
“Don’t you ever knock?” Snapped Sam.
“Well you might as well get used to it, I think we have to share a room at Granddad’s” replied Toby.
Sam and Toby had not shared a room since they were 3, even then they hated sharing. Because they were twins, everybody treated them the same, the same birthday presents, the same movies, even their teachers would constantly compare them and expect them to produce the same grades. At least people didn’t buy them the same clothes, although Samantha did often torment her brother by borrowing his hoodie without asking. Now that they were 11 years old, they were becoming more and more individual, more like a normal brother and sister rather than a pair of twins.
Downstairs in the kitchen, Mum and Dad were going over the last few things. “Do you have your notes?” asked Dad.
“Yes, of course, and the laptop. Plane tickets, where are the plane tickets?” said Mum, starting to panic.
“I have them here in my pocket. I hope those two upstairs won’t be too much for my father to handle for a whole week.”
Sam and Toby arrived into the kitchen with their bags on their backs, ready to go.
“We’ll be on our best behaviour Dad,” said Sam.
Toby joined in with “Granddad will hardly know we are there.”
“I hope so,” said Mum, “He’s not getting any younger, you know how he likes a quiet house and the last thing he needs is the two of you running mad around the place. Now we have an hour’s drive to Granddad’s and your father and I have another hour after that to the airport, so we really better get going.” Mum was getting stressed, the conference was a very big deal and meant a lot to her.
With the car packed, Sam and Toby looked at each other as if to say “Good bye home, we miss you and your video games and TV already.” But the house didn’t reply, it just disappeared into the distance.
Granddad had retired about five years ago, and lived in a suburb of Jacksonville, North Carolina. Sam and Toby never knew their Grandmother as she had passed away when they were just babies. They visited Granddad often but had never spent more than a night or two at his house, and even then it was never without their parents. Dad often talked about how he followed in his father’s footsteps when he took a job with the government, although he never seemed clear on what exactly his father did, he would simply say that he worked in “accounts”.
The car pulled up outside the house, where Granddad was on the lawn tending to his roses. Delighted to see the twins, he gave them a big warm hug and lead everyone into the house for treats. What Granddad lacked in video games and cable TV, he made up for in all sorts of treats in his cookie press.
While Granddad was busy putting out milk and cookies, Sam and Toby went to their room to drop their bags. It was their Dad’s old room, and still had some of his old model aircraft hanging from the ceiling. Granddad always said that if Dad hadn’t gone into politics, he would have been an aircraft designer. Downstairs the conversation was short as Mum and Dad had a plane to catch.
“When is the conference?” asked Granddad.
“It actually starts today, but the main event is in 4 days time, when all of the world experts on nuclear disarmament will get together to address the United Nations representatives from around the world,” Mum explained.
“Wow, that’s a lot of very important people in one place at one time,” remarked Granddad.
“Well it will be two less important people if we don’t catch our flight Hunny,” said Dad.
“Ok. Kids! We have to go!” called Mum.
Sam and Toby came thundering down the stairs “Bye Mum, bye Dad, love you.” Hugs all around before they watched Mum and Dad pull out of the drive. As the car took a left at the end of the road, Granddad, Sam and Toby were left standing in the driveway in silence.
“Well,” said Granddad, “I’ve been busy since the last time you visited, I’ve re-built your Dad’s old tree-house. Want to go see it?”
“Wow, do we!” grinned the twins running for the back yard, slamming the gate as they passed through it.
Granddad grimaced as he followed them. They were already in the tree-house peering out the window when Granddad caught up with them. “Before we get carried away, I just have a couple of ground rules, nothing that should spoil our fun, but just to keep you two safe and me sane,” he said, smiling out from under his bushy grey moustache.
“One” he started, “no slamming gates, or doors or windows. I don’t want to have to go around fixing hinges every time you pass through a doorway.”
Toby and Sam nodded, with angelic faces from the tree-house window, giving the impression that they were hanging on Granddad’s every word.
“And two, the garage is out of bounds because….”
“You don’t want kids sticky fingers on your 1973 Lincoln Continental!” Sam and Toby chimed out giggling. “We know Granddad, you tell us every time we visit.”
“Well it’s good to know that you listen,” smiled Granddad as he turned to go into the house.
Sitting in the tree-house, Toby and Sam looked at the four walls. The tree-house window looked out over the back garden with a good view of the back of the house and in through the kitchen window. The entrance was through a hole in the floor in one corner which had a ladder leading to the ground below.
“Could do with a lick of paint,” said Sam.
“I bet there’s some in the garage,” suggested Toby.
“You’re just looking for an excuse to get in to see the car Toby, you know how Granddad feels about that car, he’ll freak out if we go anywhere near it!”
“It’s not just the car, I bet he has all sort of cool old stuff in there, why else would he remind us every single time that visit, ‘not to go into the garage’” laughed Toby.
“Ok,” offered Sam, trying to be responsible, “We’ll have a peek in the window, and if there is some paint on a shelf or something, then we will ask Granddad if we can have some to paint the tree-house.”
“Sounds like a plan,” said Toby, rubbing his hand together.
Down the ladder they went, and making sure they were out of Granddad’s sight, they slipped behind the garage.
“Ow!” squealed Toby, falling to the ground.
“Ssshhh! What is it?” whispered Sam.
“I don’t know,” said Toby, “I tripped over something, some sort of a…..”
“A vent!” interrupted Sam, “What a strange place to have a vent!”
Studying the vent, they could see that there was more to Granddad’s garage than an old classic car. Together they pulled on the vent revealing a shaft into some sort of room beneath the garage. Toby stuck his head in to see where this mysterious vent would lead.
“What can you see?” asked Sam.
“I’m not sure, it’s all a bit dark”, replied Toby, “and upside down!”
With that, Toby lost his grip and slide into the shaft, landing in a heap on the floor of the secret basement.
“Are you ok!?” called Sam, in a whispering half shout. “Toby, are you ok?”
“Yes, yes” came the reply, “but I’m not sure if I can get out, the vent is too high, let me see if I can find a light switch.” Toby felt his way around the room blindly, patting the walls with his hands until he felt a switch. He flicked the switch and the whole room seemed to come to life, the lights came on, computer screens all along one wall started to boot up and the faint hum of cooling fans gave the feeling that he was in a submarine.
“Oh-oh! I think Granddad was worried about more than his car Sam.”
Sam appeared down the vent shaft, landing on her feet near Toby, mouth open, gazing at the room before her. The computer screens had finished loading, numbers flashed up on one, maps on the next, all sorts of data rolled up the screens. Activity filled all the screens but one. It was waiting for some sort of input. Sam took a closer look. Right in the centre was a little blinking cursor, and above it the words “CIA Main Frame Login.”
Struggling to take it all in, the idea that their dear old Granddad, the accountant, had some sort of CIA bunker in his garden? Sam and Toby looked around, each press was labelled, listening equipment, night vision gear, hacking devices, they could see it all through the glass panels on the press doors.
Suddenly Toby found himself rooted to the spot. “S..S..Sam, d..does that say what I think it says?”
“Armoury, it says armoury Toby,” and an armoury it was, behind a locked cage was a wall of weapons. Laser sighted automatics, long range sniper rifles, a whole selection of hand guns and even a couple of rocket launchers!
“We need to find a way out of here,” said Sam.
“Not yet, I want to have a closer look,” Toby said, picking up a small rectangular box from a table in the centre of the room.
He looked more closely “It has some letters on it… R.O.T?”
“Come on Toby, let’s go!”
In the house, Granddad was making lunch when a beeping sound came from a panel in the hallway. Putting down his knife, he went to see what it was only to find a little blinking light over the word “Workshop”. He keyed in a code and the beeping stopped. An image appeared on the screen in front of him. Instantly he saw Sam and Toby in, what he called, his “workshop”. Tapping on a couple more keys, he left the house and quickly made his way to the workshop.
The lights went out and everything in the workshop shutdown. Toby and Sam panicked, and as a hatch in the ceiling slowly opened, Toby dropped the R.O.T. box back onto the table. Granddad appeared, looking down through the hatch. He lowered a ladder for the twins to escape and said nothing as they climbed out. No-one noticed the small green pulsing light on the R.O.T. box that Toby had left on the table.
Sam and Toby knew that they were in serious trouble, even though Granddad said nothing, they could see by his face that he was furious. The hatch to the basement workshop was actually the trunk of the Lincoln Continental that they had been warned about all those years. Toby thought to himself, “this may be the most trouble I’ve ever been in, but it is totally the coolest!”, his thoughts were sharply interrupted by Granddad’s voice.
“Kitchen! Now! Both of you!” It was a different voice from the one they had become used to, this voice meant business, this was not going to be a “let’s have hot chocolate” conversation.
Republic Of Tajoria
At the other side of the world, in an underground bunker, a computer operator called to his supervisor, “Sir, I have just detected a tracking beacon, I’m not sure what it is, it doesn’t resemble anything that we use here.”
The supervisor picked up the phone, “Mr. Flehair, there is something here that may interest you.”
Stefan Flehair came from his office which looked down onto the control centre floor of the Republic Of Tajoria’s secret intelligence agency. He climbed down the metal staircase to where the supervisor stood over the computer operator. “Sir, this tracking signal has just started to show up on our system.”
Flehair looks on for a moment, “We stopped using these trackers 20 years ago, in fact, the last time I used one was…wait, where is the signal transmitting from? Bring it up on the screen.”
“United States of America, East Coast, Jacksonville, North Carolina.”
Seeing the surprise in Mr. Flehair’s eyes, the supervisor asked if everything was ok? Flehair smiled and nodded, “Yes, fine, get Taas and Jorgan and tell them to report to my office immediately,” said Flehair before turning and walking away.
By the time Flehair returned to his office, two tough looking men were standing to attention outside. Taas, a low sized brute of about 5 foot 8 inches tall with shoulders and a chest so broad he fills the entire doorway as he enters the office. Jorgan, a whole foot taller than Taas, has been known to tip over cars single handed in a fit of road rage, complete with occupants.
“Gentlemen,” started Flehair, “it seems that I have been faced with some unfinished business that goes back to my time as a double agent in the USA. As much as I would like to take care of it myself, I am otherwise engaged at a nuclear conference in Washington D.C.”
Flehair pauses for a moment and then retrieves a file from his desk drawer, on the cover is a big red inked stamp stating “COLD CASE” over the name of one Charles Brin.
Sliding the folder across his desk to the two eager henchmen, Flehair simply says, “See to it that Mr. Brin does not enjoy a long retirement.”
“Yes Sir!”, barked Taas and Jorgan before marching out.
In the kitchen at Granddad’s house sat two very quiet 11 year olds, knowing they had gone too far, they figured that there was no argument they could come up with to ease the road ahead. Granddad still had not said a word since ordering them into the house, they just sat there, all three of them. One waiting to pass judgement and the two others waiting to be sentenced.
Finally Toby couldn’t take it any more, “We are sorry Granddad, what we did was stupid, we had no idea…” tears started to fill his eyes soon followed by Sam.
Granddad sat and watched his two most cherished grandchildren in tears. He had witnessed many things in his life, fought many battles and faced many evil foes, but the sight of these two children in distress melted his heart.
“Ok you two,” he started, “cut that out, it’s partly my fault, I should have electrified the vent,” as he spoke, a smile once again appeared from behind his moustache. His smile was met with two more smiles closely followed by endless apologies as they threw their arms around him.
“Perhaps we should start with a round of hot chocolate,” he said, and began explaining what he really did while working for the government.
“I know your father thinks that I worked in accounts, and I did, or at least that’s where I started, but during the cold war there were some coded communications coming through that no-one could decipher. Someone suggested sending it down to the number crunchers, and so each of us in accounts got a small snippet of an encrypted message. I played with it for a couple of days, it just didn’t make any sense until one night, at about 4 a.m. it hit me. I leaped out of bed and the message suddenly revealed itself to me. It wasn’t what was in the message, that was just a jumble of letters. No, it was what was left out that turned out to be the solution! After that, they moved me from accounts to cryptography, and eventually I ended up out on field work. They took an accountant and turned me into a secret agent for the CIA.”
It all seemed too incredible, and if Toby and Sam had not been in Granddad’s ‘workshop’, they would never have believed it. Granddad’s voice dropped to a very serious tone, “I’m sure you both understand how important it is that no-one else knows about this. I have a lot of enemies out there, and if any of them knew where I was then all of our lives would be in danger.”
Toby looked in awe at his Granddad, “We promise not to tell, don’t we Sam?” Sam nodded, speechless.
Toby continued, “So are you still a secret agent?”
Granddad smiled, “No, I really did retire when your Grandma passed away, although the agency keep me on for the occasional special contract.”
Sam’s eye’s widened, “Special contract? Like you go out and…”
“…and train new secret agents for the field,” Granddad interrupted.
“Will you train us!?” harped Toby, “Yes! Please!” followed Sam.
Granddad paused, he didn’t want to upset the twins, but explained, “I promised your Grandma that I would never introduce your father to my work, so I guess that kind of goes for you guys too.”
Full of questions, Sam and Toby sat with Granddad for the rest of the day listening to all the stories that their father could never hear, and that their grandfather could never tell to anyone else.
The next day, armed with the brushes and paint that lead them to discover the workshop, Sam and Toby set to painting the inside of the tree-house. If they couldn’t train like secret agents, then they decided to at least decorate the tree-house like a ‘workshop’ of their own. Their heads still full of amazement, Toby drew out a plan for the new layout of the “Tree-house Lab”.
“It’ll be much smaller than Granddad’s workshop, but being above ground at least we can see more,” suggested Toby.
Sam just shook her head, “Why settle for pretend when the real thing is just down there. I bet we can talk Granddad around.”
Granddad was outside doing what he always did, tending to his garden. Back and forth he went, pushing his lawn mower, creating an even striped pattern in the grass while humming away to the music in his headphones. While pushing up to one end of the garden, he felt a shadow looming over his shoulder and as he turned to see what it was, he felt a gun barrel pressed against his back.
“Relax,” said the voice.
Judging by the size of the shadow, he thought it would be wise to listen. “Let’s go inside,” said another voice.
Turning to go into the house, he was faced with the broad shouldered Taas, and the towering cause of the shadow, Jorgan.
“I guess you’re not here for gardening tips,” said Granddad keeping things cool. Clearly not his first time being confronted by gunmen, he learned a long time ago to be calm and smooth. His training taught him that there are two types of bad guys, the ones that just shoot, and the ones that want to chat first. If these were the first kind, it would have been all over by now, so, chat he did.
Granddad lead the two men up the garden, “The front door is locked, best come through the back door.” Expecting the unexpected, the two henchmen followed closely looking around to see that there was no-one else about. In they went, granddad holding the door for them. Jorgan first, with his gun still trained on his target, then Taas. Once inside, Granddad shut the door with such a clatter that he startled his captors.
“Are you trying to get yourself killed old man!” yelled Taas.
“Sorry, that door is stiff and needs a good bang to shut it properly. I’ve been meaning to fix it for a while now.”
“What was that!?” jumped Toby.
“Sounded like a door slamming,” replied Sam, with a concerned look on her face.
“Maybe the wind caught it or something?” reasoned Toby.
“No, the lawn mower has stopped, perhaps Granddad has hurt himself, we should check it out,” said Sam starting to worry.
Toby, looking out of the tree-house window, threw himself to the floor, “get down!” he urged in a whisper.
“What is it Toby?” whispered Sam in return, now on the floor next to her brother.
Toby described what he saw through the kitchen window, “There are two men in the house with Granddad, big guys, and mean looking, I think the tall one has a gun!”
“And the other one?” asked Sam.
“It looked like he was looking in the fridge!” replied Toby, a bit puzzled.
“The fridge?” Sam crawled to the wall beneath the window and looked out through a gap in the wooden boards. There they were, just as Toby described, two men, one at the fridge while the other with a gun pointing at Granddad.
“We have to do something,” she said.
Toby looked at her, “But what? What can we do? We’re just kids, and they’ve got guns….”
“But we’ve got the ‘workshop’,” smiled Sam.
“This guy is always at the fridge,” said Jorgan, gesturing with the gun.
“I still have a lot of growing to do,” muffled Taas through a mouth full of cake that Granddad had been saving for after dinner.
“I’m sure it’s not my cake that has you visiting?” ventured Granddad.
Taas swallowed the mouthful, cleared his throat and stood like a man concentrating on reciting a poem, “Mr. Flehair asked that we send his regards,” he started, “He extends his humblest apologies that he could not be here in person, but he had to tend to other matters in this fair country of yours.” He finished, looking to Jorgan for approval of a well delivered message.
Jorgan, shaking his head, continued “It seems that you and Mr. Flehair have some outstanding business from a long time ago?”
Granddad grinned, “I didn’t know he was still in the business. I thought they fired him after his little mess in Mexico caused his government a lot of embarrassment?”
“A mess caused by you!” retorted Taas.
“Well,” said Granddad, “I can’t take all the credit for busting that particular deal, I guess I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.”
“And now you’re in the wrong place at the right time,” laughed Taas, trying to crack a joke that nobody else found funny.
Jorgan continued, “Mr. Flehair did part company with his previous employers after your interference, and moved to a little known nation, the Republic of Tajoria, where he heads up the department of secret intelligence.”
Meanwhile, out in the back yard, the twins had slipped down the ladder and around to the vent that leads to the workshop. Still loose from the last break in, Sam and Toby slid through the opening and into the room.
Toby landed first, as before, closely followed by Sam, “Leave the light off, we don’t want to trigger any alarms. We’re in, now what? We need a plan.”
A plan that had to give Granddad a chance to escape with his life. The armoury was locked tight, there was no way of getting to any guns. This was probably for the best thought Toby, as they really didn’t know anything about them. Then, remembering his video gaming experience, he had an idea.
“Flash-bangs, see if you can find some,” said Toby excitedly.
“What are flash-bangs?” asked Sam.
“They are kind of like grenades, but instead of blowing up the house and killing everyone in the room, they make a very bright flash and a very very loud bang!” explained Toby, getting even more excited, “There must be some around here, then all we need is a way to warn Granddad of what’s coming.”
“Hmmmm,” said Sam, “I think I have just the solution.”
Inside the house the conversation was starting to fade, Granddad knew that this was never a good sign. He tried to keep it going to buy more time, “So what could be so important that Flehair couldn’t make it himself?”
Taas began, “He has some nuclear mee…” and was quickly cut off by Jorgan “Enough of this time wasting, what Mr. Flehair is up to is none of your concern. Taas, I think it’s time we finished our work here.”
Taas reached into his pocket and took out a pistol, then from his left pocket, a silencer. As the gunman walked toward Granddad, the only sound in the room was the grating of metal on metal as Taas screwed the silencer to the end of the barrel. Suddenly the silence was broken by the ‘ding-dong’ of the door bell.
Taas quickly put his gun under a seat cushion and looked out through the window, “It’s some girl, looks like she’s selling something.”
“Well get ride of her! We need to wrap up here,” snapped Jorgan.
From the tree-house, Toby watched the shorter man leaving the kitchen, the tall one remaining with his gun still trained on Granddad. “Come on Sam, you can do it” murmured Toby to himself, all the while clutching a remote detonator.
Ding-dong, ding-dong, “I’m coming, I’m coming!” called Taas.
Opening the door, Taas was faced with a little pig-tailed girl, all smiles and cuteness.
“Hello sir, I am a member of the Jacksonville Girl Scouts and we are giving away free cookies to the supporters who bought the most cookies from us on our last drive,” chirped Sam, then from behind her back she produced a box, “and you’re on the list. Thank you!” Before Taas could even respond, the little girl-scout skipped off down the path.
In the confusion, Taas had taken the box, not quite knowing what it was all about, and closed the door. Immediately, Sam took out a walkie-talkie, “Girl scout to lab, girl scout to lab.”
“This is lab, go ahead girl scout,” came the reply.
“The cookies are in the house, over,” she said.
“Roger….. Out,” said Toby as he readied himself with the detonator.
In the house, Taas arrived back into the kitchen, box in hand. On the lid of the box was a crude drawing of a cookie and written in felt-tipped marker was the logo “Iyes-n-ears Flash-baked Cookies, produced by Twins Bakery.” Taas looked at the lid, “Ha! They just don’t put in the effort any more, just as well they were free” he remarked, “want one?” he asked Jorgan.
Jorgan, becoming more impatient with every moment insisted, “focus and get back to work Taas!”
“Ok, ok, just one cookie, then Granddad, then home,” replied Taas.
Time was at a stand still in the tree-house, Toby could hardly take a breath as the minutes passed, wondering what the two men could be talking about and hoping Granddad could figure out what the plan was. With his finger on the detonator button, and his eyes glued to the cookie box, he watched the short henchman’s hand slide across the lid in slow motion. Tucking his thumb under the lid, he started to lift open the box. Toby’s hand trembling, “not yet, not yet,” he thought, “I must wait until the lid is off.”
Toby could see Granddad sitting by the kitchen table, lifting his hands towards his ears and shutting eyes tight. Toby’s finger plunged down on the button, but nothing happened for a split second, then suddenly the shock wave of a loud bang caused the window to shudder, and a flash as bright as lightning reached the tree-house.
Granddad opened his eyes to find his captors crawling on the floor trying to find their bearing. His ears still ringing, even after covering up, he reached beneath the cushion for Taas’ gun and put it to the back of Jorgan’s head, “Relax,” he said, “let’s talk some more.”
By the time Sam and Toby appeared through the smoke, Granddad had the two dazed men zip-tied to the chair, still wondering what had hit them.
“Granddad! You’re ok!” cried Sam, running in and throwing her arms around him, closely followed by Toby, still shaking from the tension.
“Will I call 911 Granddad?” asked Toby.
“No,” answered Granddad, “I have some friends at the agency that will be much more interested in talking to these two gentlemen. They are already on the way. You two really saved my life there.”
Granddad started to laugh, “Iyes-n-ears Flash Baked! How did you come up with that?” now laughing loudly.
“It was Sam’s idea,” said Toby. “But the flash-bangs were Toby’s,” chimed Sam.
“Looks like you two make a pretty good team, although I bet your mother and father would not be impressed with this episode,” Granddad said shyly.
“Granddad,” said Sam, “Do you think maybe we could do with a little secret agent training? Just in case we ever need to do something like this again?”
Sam and Toby, still in Granddads embrace, both looked up with broad smiles that said ‘please’ a million times.
Looking down at their smiling faces, Granddad returned the smile, “Well, maybe it wouldn’t hurt for you to know what’s safe to touch and what’s not. Let’s sort out this mess first and we can talk about it later over what’s left of that cake.”
Enter the CIA
A black sedan with tinted windows pulled up outside the house. Out stepped a tall, well groomed man in sunglasses, Fintan Spetz, the agent that took over Granddad’s operations when he retired from field duties.
Agent Spetz was greeted at the door by Granddad, “Hey Fintan, how are ya? It’s been way too long!”
Spetz shook his hand warmly, “Yeah, under the circumstances I wish it was longer,” replied Spetz, “anyway, I thought you were retired?” he continued, with that wry grin he saved for his closest friends.
Granddad enjoyed Agent Spetz’ sense of humour, but got down to business, “Do you remember Stefan Fhelair?”
“Didn’t you put him out of work about 20 years ago?” came the reply from a puzzled Spetz.
“Well it looks like he’s got a new employer, my two visitors said something about ROT, the Republic of Tajoria.”
Granddad led Agent Spetz down the hallway to the kitchen where Taas and Jorgan sat tied to their chairs. The agent looked surprised, “henchmen are getting bigger every year, how did you manage to get the jump on these two?”
Granddad smiled and said, “Well, I wasn’t working alone, Sam and Toby executed the perfect rescue.”
Spetz’ face went from surprise to confusion, “Sam and Toby? I know all the agents in this part of the world, are they NSA or something?”
Granddad, taking the opportunity to have a bit of fun with Agent Spetz, looked very serious before causing even more confusion, “No,” he said quietly, “not NSA, they are MGC!”
“What! What are you talking about? What’s MGC?” insisted Spetz.
An uncontrollable fit of laughter came on suddenly from Granddad, slapping his hand down on Spetz’ shoulder, “HA!, My Grand Children! MGC!”
Looking like his retired colleague had finally lost his mind, Spetz could hardly believe it when two 11 year olds appeared before him and introduced themselves as Sam and Toby.
“Wow!” started Spetz, “So, you are the grand children of the great Charlie Brin?”
“Yes sir.” they replied politely.
“Well,” Spetz continued, “I’m not sure how much clearance you guys have, so I won’t say too much for now, but you could not have found a better instructor in preparing you for the junior agent division entry exam!”
“Shouldn’t you be getting our visitors into the car? Agent Spetz?” urged Granddad, indicating that too much has already been said.
“Er, ah, yes, come on lets take a walk,” Spetz said while producing a gun and gesturing to the two captives.
They waved Agent Spetz off and almost as if nothing had happened, Granddad said, “Right, who would like to go out for pizza?”
Sam and Toby both looked at Granddad, that kind of look that asked “Is there something you would like to explain?”
Trying to ignore it, Granddad continued, “I know this place down on Massit Street that do the best pizza.”
The twins chimed, “Granddad!” then paused while he looked at them, before continuing with a fixed stare “What was Agent Spetz talking about? He mentioned a Junior Agent Division?”
“Oh that…” he replied, as if it was nothing. Granddad paused, trying to buy time, then eventually he conceded, “Yes there is such a division, but it is not known to the public. Actually, it’s hardly known in the agency. There is an entrance exam, but it is very tough, and usually is only taken by specially chosen youngsters who have undergone a pre-training course.”
With excitement building, Toby could hardly contain himself, “Granddad! Please! You have to train us! Please!”
Sam, equally excited, but much more contained, calmly added, “Granddad, it’s not just about us learning to become secret agents, it is about keeping us safe. The bad guys know where you live now, and can probably link you to us and to Mum and Dad, so, for all of our safety, you should teach us what we need to know.”
It was hard for Granddad to argue with such a reasoned point, “there are some things that I could show you that might be useful, but I don’t know about the junior agent division. We’ll have to think long and hard about that one!”
Stefan Flehair was sitting at his desk, making final arrangements before leaving the island nation of the Republic of Tajoria for Washington DC. An incoming call appeared on his computer screen, the box in the centre of the screen told him that the call is from “Control Central”. Clearing his throat, he moved the cursor over the ‘answer’ button. ‘Click’, the screen went black. A thin green line appeared across the screen and a voice interrupted the silence.
“Mr. Flehair, I am glad I caught you before you left,” said the voice as the green line moved with the sound.
“Is everything alright Sir?” asked Flehair.
“This is the very question that I was about to ask you,” said the voice.
“Everything is in place Sir,” started Flehair, “the spokespeople at the conference will fail in their plan to convince the world’s nations to disarm their nuclear weapons.”
“And how will their argument fail?” asked the voice.
“It will fail because no-one will be alive to make it,” Flehair replied in a cold calm voice.
“You do understand Mr. Flehair, that if you do not succeed, the investors will be most upset,” came the voice, pausing briefly before continuing, “The Republic of Tajoria and her backers have no desire to be left sitting on the world’s largest weapons grade uranium mine and have no countries willing to buy it.”
Feeling the pressure, a single bead of sweat appeared on Flehair’s temple, and ran down his cheek. Flehair assured the voice “you have nothing to worry about, it will all be taken care of.”
“See that it is,” said the voice before the line disappeared from the screen, returning to Flehair’s travel itinerary.
At the other side of the world, in a Washington DC hotel, Sam and Toby’s parents sat in their room preparing for the conference. Mum, surrounded by papers scattered about her desk and the floor around her chair.
“You always make such a mess as a deadline approaches,” chuckled James, “I can imagine what you might say to the twins if they made a mess like this while doing their homework.”
“Well, they never need to know now, do they.” Smiled Elaine, “I wonder,” she continued, “how they have been getting on with Granddad Brin? I imagine he is spoiling them with the zoo and candy floss.”
“Either that or he is boring them to death with stories of accountancy, and office work.” said James starting to laugh, “So, how are your preparations coming along, will you be ready for the conference?” he asked.
“Ready?” Elaine started, “I have to be, it is one of best opportunities that the world has had since the creation of the atomic bomb in the second world war. With all of the world’s foremost experts in the area of nuclear weapons and government representatives from all of the nuclear powers, we finally have a chance to speak directly to the people that make the decisions. Can you imagine if we can change their minds about nuclear weapons?”
James smiled, “Okay,” he said, “You’re not in the conference just yet.”
Elaine giggled, “You know how caught up I get in this area, I guess I want us to do all that we can to give Toby and Sam a future free of nuclear arms.”
James, noticing some desperation in his wife’s voice, placed a hand on her shoulder and spoke gently, “Well if anyone can make the future better for Sam and Toby, you can,” he paused, “anyway, right now I’m sure nuclear weapons are the last thing on Sam and Toby’s minds, I bet they doing all they can to solve the great ‘how to get rid of Granddad’s oatmeal’ problem,” and they both erupted with laughter.
The next morning, Toby and Sam came down the stairs and into the kitchen to a breakfast of pancakes and bacon. The smell was delicious, and had their senses wide awake. Granddad had been up for a while, and was sitting at the table having eaten his share, reading the newspaper.
“Good morning,” came the voice from behind the paper.
“Morning Granddad,” replied the chirpy voices of the junior secret agents in training, “What have you got for us today?”
“Today we will begin with a tracking exercise,” replied Granddad, with his head still in the newspaper.
“Are we going to the woods?” asked Sam.
“No, we won’t be tracking animals, it’s not a hunting trip. We will practice ‘urban tracking’,” said Granddad, “I want you to piece together my movements this morning, and bring me a report of what you have found by lunch time today.”
“Cool!” said Toby, reaching for the syrup to pour on his pancakes.
“We’ll get to it straight after breakfast,” said Sam, “Oh, by the way Granddad, I was going to buy the latest “Go Girl” magazine, I get it every month. Where is your nearest newsagent?”
“Well, it’s down the….. Wait, you’re not going to get the answers that easily,” laughed Granddad, delighting in the cleverness of his granddaughter.
“We almost had you!” laughed Sam.
Toby and Sam finished their pancakes and bacon and retired to their ‘lab’ in the tree to figure out a plan of action.
“Okay,” Toby started, “what do we know, and what do we need to know?”
Sam pulled out a pen and paper and started to take notes, “We know that he has today’s news paper, and that he does not have it delivered, so he must have gone to the news agents.”
“Right,” said Toby, “but what news agent, there are hundreds in this city.”
“But only a few within walking distance,” suggested Sam.
Then Toby countered, “if we check the car to see if the engine is warm, then we will know if he walked or drove!”
“Brilliant!” said Sam, “just brilliant!”
Toby jumped to his feet, “You go and download a map of all the local news agents, and I’ll go and check the car and we’ll meet in the workshop!”
Granddad watched from the kitchen window as his students climbed down from the tree-house and went about their business. When he saw them split up and head in different directions, he thought to himself “hmmm, very good, they’ll cover more ground dividing up the jobs.”
Toby returned to the workshop to find Sam in place, logged on and downloading the maps.
“The engine is cold,” said Toby, “the car hasn’t moved yet today.”
“There are 3 news agents within walking distance, I bet we can hack their stock lists and see if they sell the Jacksonville Herald,” said Sam as she clacked away at the keyboard.
“Genius, sis,” said Toby.
The computer screen went through a series of logarithms before bringing up three stock lists. Sam did a search for ‘Jacksonville Herald’ and it only showed up in two of the stores.
“Now what?” said Sam.
They sat in silence for a few moments, trying to think of their next move. Then with a broad smile, Toby sat up, “I think I have is Sam! Granddad said that pretty much everything is connected to the net, can we get a look at the security cameras?”
“Yeah, let’s try!” said Sam, her fingers already tapping their way through a network of security firewalls. Page after page appeared on her screen , it seemed that every time she got close, another barrier presented itself, until the tapping and clicking stopped abruptly, “I’m in,” she said with a smile.
“Right, start at 10am and go backwards from there,” suggested Toby.
The twins watched as people appeared to walk backwards into the shop with things in their hand, and get money from the shop assistant before putting the item back on the shelf. They watched until they got back to 8:30am.
“Looks like it’s not this shop”, said Sam, “I’ll bring up the next one”.
They watched another episode of ‘Backwards Shopping’, and then Toby shouted, “Stop!….go back.” There he was, at 9:07am, buying a newspaper and what looked like a packet of chocolate chip cookies.
“We’ve got him!” chirped Sam.
“Print out the evidence Sam, there could be cookies in it for us,” said Toby.
By now, Granddad, who had been out tending to his garden, was cleaning his tools in the garage before going to prepare lunch. The trunk of the Lincoln hissed and popped open, as if giving birth to Sam and Toby.
“Well, how is the report coming along?” asked Granddad.
Sam looked up at Granddad and smiled, “How about we all go to the house and have a look at it over milk and chocolate chip cookies.”
Granddad laughed at the thought that they had obviously tracked his movements, and even worse, discovered that there are cookies in the house.
Day three of training came, and over breakfast Granddad explained there would be a test. He had placed a file on the table in the workshop, and all Sam and Toby would have to do is get it for him.
Sam and Toby looked puzzled, “just get the file?” asked Sam.
“Yes, it’s really that simple,” said Granddad, “at least it would be if I didn’t turn on the security system.”
Toby and Sam got the picture, they would have to get passed Granddad’s security system and into the workshop to retrieve the file, all the while Granddad would be watching on his monitors from the house.
“No problem, we’ve gotten in there before,” said a confidant Toby, “Let’s start from the lab.”
“It feels like Granddad has something up his sleeve for this one Toby,” said Sam.
Granddad smiled, “maybe I do,” he said, “but I’ve left a lab-warming gift for you in the tree-house that might help you in your mission.”
Sam and Toby gobbled down their breakfast in double quick time so they could get out to the tree-house.
Breakfast gone, out they ran across the garden and up the ladder, Toby was first into the lab, or at least his head was. Stopping at the top of the ladder his sister almost running into his feet. “Come on Toby!” she said, “What’s keeping you?”
In the middle of the floor was an open flight case, the kind used for transporting delicate electronic equipment. There was nothing stopping Toby from continuing, but he just wanted to take in the view of what must be the world’s coolest toy-box.
“If you don’t get moving, I’ll drag you out of the way!” scolded Sam, starting to lose patience.
Toby snapped out of his dreamworld and the two of them bundled into the tree-house. Sam and Toby just stared at the case, hardly able to recognise anything that was in it. It all looked so expensive that they were afraid to touch anything. Then Toby spotted something familiar and reaching into the case pulled out a pair of binoculars.
“These are not all that hi-tech,” he said as he brought them to his eyes, “They don’t even work.”
“Try turning them on!” said Sam looking up from the manual.
They found the on switch and the binoculars seemed to go into a boot-up sequence, and after a few seconds of buzzing and beeping, a menu flashed up “…..Select Frequency….”
“Frequency?” puzzled Toby, “They’re binoculars, not a radio!”
Sam was quickly scanning through the manual, “It’s asking you for the light frequency! You can see all sorts of light through them, from infra-red all the way up to lasers in the invisible light spectrum. There’s even a setting for electromagnetic radiation.”
“Electro-what now?” countered Toby.
“It says here that with the binoculars set to electromagnetic radiation, you can see electricity by looking through them,” explained Sam.
Toby selected EMR on the binoculars and looking out the window down at the garage, the eye pieces filled with glowing white whereever there was electricity flowing. It showed the wires running under the garden to the garage, and the glow of the computer stations in the basement ‘workshop’.
“What’s that?” Toby paused, “There’s something over the garage door, wait, there’s another over the window!” Toby zoomed in for a closer look, “Granddad has those sensors that Mum always gives out about, you know the ones that turn on the yard lights every time a cat walks by, and it looks like the sensors are activated.”
Sam was already tapping in the details to a touchscreen tablet that she had found in the case, “It looks like they are PIR sensors, ‘Passive Infra-Red’.”
“Does it say anything about how to get passed them?” asked Toby.
“They trigger an alarm when they detect body heat,” Sam replied, “Granddad is not making it easy for us.”
“I’ve got it!” said Toby, “If we hang bags of ice in front of each sensor, and then it will block the heat from our bodies reaching them?”
“That could work”, said Sam, “but where are we going to get bags of ice before lunch, and how do we hang them without triggering the alarms?”
“Wait”, said Toby, “if the sensors detect our higher temperature compared to the surrounding temperature, then we don’t need ice, we just need a shield that is the same temperature as everything around us!”
“Good thinking Toby! Like a thick sheet of wood” said Sam excitedly, “We can use on of the panels from the tree-house.”
Sam and Toby set about removing a wood panel from the inside of the tree-house, and crouching down behind it, Sam asked Toby to set the binoculars to ‘IR’ for infra-red. Toby adjusted the settings and looking through the eye pieces could see nothing, it was like Sam was invisible. Sam stepped out from behind the wood, and appeared to Toby as a bright orange and red monster in the binoculars.
“Works perfectly!” chimed Toby, “now, is there anything else in the case that we might need to bring with us?”
Sam lifted out a black back-pack that had a label across it ‘Mission Pack’, “Perfect”, said Toby, “looks like Granddad knows exactly what we will need for the job! Bring it.”
Looking out of the kitchen window, Granddad watched two sheets of wood panelling march from the tree around to the back of the garage. His two trainee secret agents had made it as far as the vent. Toby was about to lift open the vent when Sam stopped him, “Do you really think that Granddad has not left any surprises for us in this vent?” she suggested.
“Oh, you’re right, is there anything in the mission pack?” replied Toby.
Sam opened up the pack and revealed more secret agent gadgets than a James Bond movie, “Here, try this,” said Sam as she handed over a long narrow snake like flexible rod.
“Brilliant!” cried Toby, “a snake camera!” Toby fed the camera down into the vent while Sam looked at the small screen. Rotating the camera, they found nothing out of the ordinary.
“It all looks clear,” said Sam.
“It all looks too easy if you ask me,” replied Toby, “Can we interface the camera through the binoculars Sam?”
“Good thinking Toby, there may be something else to see down there,” said Sam as she connected the cables between the two pieces of equipment. Suddenly the screen filled with laser beams. The entire room was covered with the criss-cross of invisible laser beams, invisible to human eyes at least.
“We’ll never be able to crawl through those lasers Sam,” said Toby.
“We might not have to,” came the reply as Sam was again tapping away on her new tablet. “If I can connect to the Jacksonville Electricity grid, just like we did before, then maybe I can send an energy spike through to the garage and cause the laser system to go into reboot mode. It’ll give us about 45 seconds of laser free access.”
“That’s all we need”, said Toby.
“Okay, uploading the code now, should take effect in about 25 seconds. Keep an eye on the camera Toby………15 seconds……..10 seconds……..5, 4, 3, 2, 1….” Sam looked to Toby and got a thumbs up. They pulled open the vent and slid in as quickly as possible, first Sam and then Toby.
“10 seconds left Sam, come on we’ve got to get the file from the table,” said Toby excitedly.
The twins rushed to their target and just as they approached the table, WHOOSH! Out of nowhere, they were soaked to the skin by a bucket of water. Just as they regained their senses, the intercom crackled into life, it was Granddad from the house “well done you two, you managed to get passed all of the hi-tech sensors and laser beams, but in the end you fell for the old tripwire and bucket of water gag!”
Sam and Toby simply stood there looking at each other, dripping wet, with the rumble of Granddad’s laugher in the background, “Let’s get dried off,” said Sam, with dampened spirits.
Back in the kitchen, Sam and Toby arrived to find fresh towels and hot chocolate waiting from them. Granddad stood there with a big smile and complemented how well they had done.
“You performed wonderfully, but it is very important to remain focused at all times, never get over confidant, and always watch where you’re going,” Granddad was about to continue when the phone rang.
“Hello?” he said, “Ah Fintan, how are you…..” Granddad left the kitchen to continue the conversation in private, leaving Toby and Sam to dry off and enjoy a hot chocolate.
“That’s the CIA guy,” whispered Toby, “I wonder if it is something about the two guy’s from ROT?”
“Probably,” replied Sam.
Meanwhile, Granddad continued in the other room, “That sounds serious Fintan, do you really think Flehair is going to disrupt the nuclear conference in DC?”
“That’s the information that we have gotten from the two ROT agents we collected from your house,” came the reply from the other end of the phone, “They claim that they don’t know any more, but I get the impression that Flehair is going to try to blow up the conference.”
“What! Can we call off the conference, clear the area?” asked Granddad.
“We can’t do that based on a hunch, the only thing that we have for sure is that Flehair is going to be there,” explained Spetz.
“But my son and his wife are speaking at that conference!” said Granddad with growing concern.
“Look Charlie,” started Spetz “you know how it works better than anyone, we can’t raise any alarms or Flehair will know that we are onto him. We have to let him come and hope that we can stop whatever plans he has for the conference, it’s the only way we can catch him before he leaves the country again.”
“You’re right,” conceded Granddad, “I’m going to take a trip to Washington myself to keep an eye on things, let me know if you get any more information.”
“I’ll keep you posted,” said Spetz, “Goodbye,” and he hung up.
Sam and Toby knew that something serious was happening the moment Granddad walked into the kitchen, his usual smile was missing.
“What wrong Granddad?” asked Sam.
“Is it something to do with the ROT agents?” asked Toby.
“Yes,” came Granddad’s reply, “Agent Spetz has gathered some information from our visitors that indicates Stefan Flehair may be on his way to Washington DC to disrupt the conference on nuclear disarmament.”
“Washington?! Isn’t that were Mum and Dad are?!” exclaimed Toby.
“We have to do something!” joined Sam.
Granddad put his hands on a shoulder of each of the twins and looked into their eyes saying, “We will do something, I just hope we’re not too late.”
With breakfast finished, Sam and Toby sat impatiently looking across the table at Granddad, well, that is to say, looking at the large newspaper behind which Granddad sat. Taking one hand from the paper to lift his coffee cup, the corner of the pages flopped over to reveal the staring faces of two 11 year old twins.
“Well?” said Toby eagerly, eyes wide and full of expectation.
“Well what?” came the reply. Granddad knew well what it was that had Toby and Sam poised as if they were laying an egg, but was having so much fun watching the twins squirming with their barely contained enthusiasm that he let the squirming continue.
“Granddad!” came the cry from the twins.
“Okay, Okay!” Howled Granddad with laughter, “Let’s get started.” Rising from the table, Granddad folded his newspaper and began the short journey to the his workshop beneath the garage. Out of the door he went, followed closely by Sam and Toby, into the garage where his Lincoln Continental sat. Granddad opened the flap covering the fuel cap to reveal a keypad.
“Enter code,” was the short message that appeared on the LCD screen.
“3-9-5-1”, typed Granddad. The sound of a confirmation beep, followed the message, “Cleared to enter.”
Suddenly a hiss rose from the back of the car and the trunk opened, revealing the entrance to the workshop. Although this was not their first time in the workshop, it was their first time gaining entry with the proper authority. Down the steps they went and Toby made straight for the armoury cage.
“Is there something of interest there Toby?” asked Granddad.
“Yes, the guns Granddad, can we start with the guns?” said Toby excitedly.
Granddad laughed, “No Toby, guns are very old fashioned. These days agents use much more powerful weapons.”
“Bazookas?” Toby offered, now more excited than ever.
Buy now, Granddad was almost fit to burst with laughter, “No, Toby, these days agents use one of these.” From a drawer Granddad produced a laptop.
Booting the laptop, Granddad explained how almost everything in the world is connected to the internet, “if we needed to know something in the old days, we would have to kick down a door and ask who ever was inside, now we just do an on-line search.”
Sam looked disappointed, “Granddad, are you telling us that secret agents just ‘Google’ their way to the enemy?”
“Information is key to winning the battle against your enemy Sam,” replied Granddad, “and all the information we want is at our fingertips right here, we just need to know how to do more than look at videos of cute kittens falling over.” Granddad started tapping on the keyboard, then a few clicks of the mouse and suddenly an image appeared on the screen, it was the front of Granddads house.
“That’s your house Granddad,” said Toby.
“But it’s an odd angle, like the camera is in the driveway,” said Sam, joining in Toby’s puzzlement.
In full teaching mode, Granddad continued, “even modern cars are connected, what you are looking at is the the reversing camera on my car. If it is connected to the internet, then there is always a way to access it. Right now we are connected via the GPS system to my car, and we can override many of its functions.”
“You mean we’re hacking you’re sat-nav?” asked Sam.
“Yes, you could say that,” replied Granddad.
For the rest of the morning, Sam and Toby sat at their new work stations, tapping and clicking their way around the world. Occasionally Granddad would stop them to introduce new programs and hacking techniques. By lunch time, the twins had exceeded Granddad’s expectations, devouring all he had to offer. It was time to set a challenge, thought Granddad.
“The street lights outside,” he started, “they usually come on about 6pm, I would like to see them on by 1:30pm.”
Toby and Sam took to their keyboards. They loved competing against each other, and while Toby usually won the sporty contests, Sam knew she had the edge when it came to technology.
Within minutes, Sam’s screen was filled with code, scrolling up the screen, line after line of encrypted digits. Then it stopped:
“Welcome to Jacksonville City Electrical Service Central…….How may we proceed?”
“I’m in!” exclaimed Sam.
“I’m not far behind you,” said Toby, as if racing to the objective.
Outside, on the street people were going about their daily routine when the faint background hum of street lighting began, and the lights began to glow.
“Got it!” cheered Sam excitedly.
Amid the cheering and celebrating, the street lights went out again. Sam stopped, “What happened?”
Toby sat with a smug smile on his face, “I told you I wasn’t far behind you.”
“Well done you two, that was very impressive. We will break for now, and come back to some more hacking training after lunch,” said Granddad, please with the progress of his two new students.
Race to DC
Granddad, Toby and Sam left the kitchen and moved into Granddad’s workshop, Sam took a seat in front of the main computer, “we need to know when and how Flehair is coming into the country, if he is not here already” she said.
“He won’t use his own name,” suggested Granddad, “and there are no direct flights from Tajoria to the USA, so he could be anywhere in the world.”
Toby clicked his fingers, “How about if we cross-reference all of the names on flights out of Tajoria against names on flights into Washington?”
Granddad continued, “Then any matches are probably going to be him, there can’t be many people flying that particular route! Good thinking Toby!”
Sam was already on it, accessing passenger lists from the Republic of Tajoria, “Only four flights per day out of Tajoria,” she said, “That gives us a good shot at finding a match. Running the compare sub-routine now.”
Page after page of passenger lists flashed up on the computer screen, out of the thousands that travel through Washington each day, all they needed was one match, suddenly, “…MATCH…FOUND…” appeared in the centre of the screen. Sam clicked for more information, “…MR.JOHN SMYTH………INBOUND TO WASHINGTON………ETA 3HOURS 20MINUTES………”
“Three hours!” Granddad exclaimed, “We are five hours away, we will have to delay him somehow. Sam, load up the ACARS protocol.”
“What is ACARS Granddad?” asked Toby.
“It is the Aircraft Communications Addressing & Reporting System, kind of like texting for aircraft. We can get a message to the pilot.”
Sam had the protocol loaded and ready for instruction, Granddad leaned over the keyboard and started typing, “Flight FW339017, due to unexpected high winds we are diverting all non-urgent flights to Logan international Airport in Boston…Please confirm…” they waited, holding their breath, then “This is flight FW339017…Confirmed…”
“Yes!” cheered Granddad, “that buys us an extra four hours! Okay, it’s time to gear up and get moving.”
Toby moved towards the armoury, “So, where do you keep the keys Granddad?”, as if it were ice-cream that he was getting.
“No guns Toby, at least not for you two”, said Granddad, “This has to be kept very quiet and very subtle, if there is any indication that something is up, then Flehair won’t show himself, and we may not see him or his attack coming th next time. This could be our only shot so we can’t take any risks of scaring him off.”
“So what do we need?” asked Sam.
Granddad produced a flight case, a smaller version of the one Sam and Toby found in their tree-house. This one was labelled ‘Field Equipment’. On opening, it displayed rows of compact devices.
“Audio bugs, radio tracking devices, video monitoring, everything we might need to keep an eye and ear on what’s happening,” said Granddad, “Oh, and Toby, will you pass me the small case marked ‘Parabolic Microphone’?”
“Parabolic microphone?” repeated Toby, passing the case.
“Yes,” said Granddad, opening the case and quickly assembling what looked like a mini satellite dish surrounding a microphone. “You just connect your head-phones and point the dish at your target to hear what they are saying,” he continued, “usually more effective than a gun.”
In a matter of minutes, the car was loaded and pulling out of the drive. Toby, Sam and Granddad were on their way to Washington DC, not quite sure what they will find there, but ready for anything.
Somewhere in the skies over the Atlantic Ocean, a crackling sound came from the cabin speakers of flight FW339017, “This is your captain speaking, we have received instructions to divert to Boston due to high winds in the DC area, we do apologise for the inconvenience this may cause, but safety is our priority. There will be buses available on our arrival to allow you to complete your journey by road.”
“Excuse me miss,” said Flehair to the air-hostess, “I need to book a hire car for when we land in Boston, is there a phone on board?”
“No need to phone sir, if I may have your boarding pass, I can arrange that for you,” replied the air-hostess in very polite manner.
Handing her the boarding pass, Flehair said “Thank you, can you make it something big and comfortable, I have a lot of driving to do?”
The air-hostess looked at the boarding card, “Certainly Mr. Smyth, I shall see to that right away.”
On the road between Jacksonville and Washington DC, Sam was tracking Flehair’s flight, “It’s only 30 minutes from landing in Boston.”
“Good work Sam,” replied Granddad, “although it looks like he will still get to DC before us, but not by much.”
“Wait!” said Sam excitedly, “a message has just left the plane via the ACARS system, requesting a hire car for Mr. Smyth!”
“Excellent!” said Granddad, “Keep an eye on the rental company servers, I’d like to know what car he will be driving.”
“We can track him,” chirped Toby, “if we know what car he is driving, we can track him.”
“Can we Granddad?” asked Sam.
“Toby seems to have it all figured out, what are you thinking Toby?” enquired Granddad.
“Well, all the rental companies have a Lojack device fitted to their cars, it’s a tracking device that can be activated in case the car is stolen, all we have to do is activate the Lojack and track the radio signal, just like following the sat-nav,” explained Toby, rather pleased with himself.
“Well done Toby, where did you learn that?” asked Granddad.
“Video games,” came the reply.
Flehair landed in Logan airport, Boston. The moment he stepped off the plane he was on the phone, “Flehair here, there was some sort of weather problem, and I’ve been diverted….Yes I’ll be there on time, the plan must go ahead, just make sure that the device is delivered as we agreed!” Hanging up abruptly, he made his way to the car hire desk.
Running out of Time
“Looks like he has landed,” said Sam, “I’m scanning all of the car hire companies, but nothing has shown up yet.”
“If it were me, I would use a different name to hire a car,” said Granddad.
“But he didn’t book it, the airline did it for him,” added Toby, “so it must be under the name Smyth.”
Suddenly, ‘BING’ went the laptop, “we have him!” said Sam excitedly. She was just about to start working on activating the tracking device when ‘BING’, another one.
“Oh no!” she said, “two cars have been rented under the name ‘Smyth’, how can we tell which one is Flehair?”
“It’s okay,” said Granddad, “check what cars these two ‘Smyths’ are hiring, if I know Flehair, he’ll be making full use of his expense account. I seem to recall him having a liking for luxury European cars.”.
Sam clicked furiously at the mouse, zooming through menus on her screen until she arrived at an image of a compact Hyundai Accent, “How about this Granddad?” she asked.
Granddad took one look and laughed, “I don’t think that is evil villain material, do you?”
“Okay, how about this?” asked Sam. Up flashed a black saloon Audi A6, “That is probably more his style,” ventured Toby.
“I have to admit, he has good taste in cars,” said Granddad, “but he’s just a little predictable, start tracking it.”
Sam set to work activating the Lojack transmitter, and within about 30 seconds, had an overhead map of the airport with a triangle indicating the exact location of Flehair’s car.
“He is already on the move!” said Toby, “will we be too late Granddad?”
“It is going to be close, but whatever he is going to try, he won’t try until the conference is in full swing,” replied Granddad.
While Granddad and the twins are speeding towards DC from the south, Flehair is in just as much of a hurry from the north. Beside him on the passenger seat is a file outlining his mission to disrupt the talks on nuclear disarmament. Going over the plans in his mind, “simple,” he thinks to himself, “the spokespeople at the head table are the ones that have the influence, removed them and the vote cannot take place.” Approaching DC, the traffic began to build up and Flehair became more and more agitated. Looking at his watch he could see that he still has enough time, but only just.
“Position report?” asked Granddad, drifting into agent mode.
“He’s in DC, not far from the conference, 200 meters….100 meters…. He’s there! He’s there!” said Sam starting to panic.
“Okay, calm down, we are less than 20 minutes away, and the conference is not starting for an hour, we have time,” said Granddad, “now remember you two, you are not supposed to be here, I’m not supposed to be here. So, we have to keep a very low profile when we arrive.”
Having made their way through the traffic they found themselves surrounded by news cameras, reporters, TV broadcast vans and all manner of media people hoping to be the first to get the story of the conference talks.
“Wow! I had no idea that this was such a big deal! And Mum and Dad are in the middle of it!”, said Toby with some pride.
Pulling into a space at the side of the road, Granddad turned to Sam and Toby, “I’m going to see what I can find out, you two stay here and don’t leave the car until I get back, remember ‘You’re not here’.”
“Got it!” chimed the twins.
Sam and Toby were alone in the car, “We can’t just sit here and do nothing!” said Toby.
“Granddad told is to stay put until he gets back,” replied Sam, “This is not a game in the back yard, people’s lives are at risk Toby.”
“Yes, people’s lives like Mum and Dad!” reasoned Toby.
Just then they spotted a man in a long black coat standing at the service entrance to the conference centre. Checking the file on Flehair they could see that it was him. Neither of the twins spoke as they watched a van pull up to the door. “Right On Time Audio” written on the side of the van.
“Right on time,” repeated Toby, “Right on time, R O T! It’s them!” he said with fear in his voice. Sam started to dig into the kit bag and produced the parabolic microphone, “Quiet!” she snapped, “we need to hear what’s going on!”
The driver of the van stepped out and approached Flehair, shaking his hand. Sharing a headphone each, Sam and Toby listened carefully as the crackling faded into conversation in their ears.
“I hear you had some trouble with your flight,” said the van driver.
“Yes,” came Flehair’s reply, “something about the weather, but we still have time to put or plan into action. Do you have the speakers?”
“Speakers and stands, just as you ordered,” said the van driver, stopping short of standing to attention and barking ‘Sir’, so as not to blow his cover.
“Good, you need to bring the speakers in and set them up either side of the head table. If anyone asks, simply tell then that there is a fault in the existing set and that you were sent to fix them,” instructed Flehair.
As the van driver lifted the speakers from the van and onto the hand-truck, Sam and Toby could see the strain in his face.
“These speakers weight a ton!” puffed the van driver.
“Well, they are very powerful speakers, I expect they could blow your ears off!” said Flehair as he broke into laugher, soon joined by the van driver.
“Blow your ears off!” gasped Sam, “There’s a bomb in the speakers!”
While the twins were dealing with the shock of learning Flehair’s devious plans, Granddad had tracked Flehair’s car. Pulling his smart phone from his pocket, he connected to the CIA main frame and typed in the car registration number, within seconds the hazard lights give two flashes and the trunk clicks and opened.
“This is so much easier than the old days when we had to pick the locks manually,” thought Granddad to himself.
There inside the truck was the mission folder, Granddad started to go through the papers, one by one, photographing each one as quickly as he could.
‘BANG!!!’ A sharp pain shot down Granddad’s neck and everything went dark as he fell forward onto the papers that he was photographing. Standing behind him was Flehair, holding a short heavy baton. “I thought you might show up old man,” said Flehair as he returned the baton to his inside coat pocket.
Bundling Granddad into the trunk of the car, Flehair went to the glove compartment to retrieve the radio remote control for the bomb filled speakers and made his way back to the conference.
“Where is Granddad, he should be back by now!” fretted Sam.
“What if he is not back in time? We need to do something!” said Toby.
“Okay, let’s think about this, Flehair has a bomb in the conference, how is he going to detonate it? A timer maybe?” reasoned Sam.
“No,” joined Toby, “if it was a timer, then Flehair would not have to be here, it must be some sort of transmitter. Can we scan for any odd radio signals?”
Tapping on the keyboard, Sam brought up waveform after waveform, “with so many cameras and reporters around it’s hard to find anything that stands out.”
“Wait!, What’s that?” shouted Toby excitedly while prodding the screen. There on the screen, just under Toby’s finger tip was a lone waveform that was just outside the broadcast frequencies used by the news stations.
“It’s carrying a strange digital encryption, that could be our signal!” exclaimed Sam.
“Can we tell where the signal is coming from?” asked Toby.
“Cross referencing it with the satellite maps now, it’s lined up with Flehair’s car,” replied Sam, “We have him! He’s on the move.”
The twins are starting to panic, alone in the car, “Where’s Granddad?” they wondered.
Toby broke the tension, “Right Sam, we can’t just sit here, we have to do something. People are taking their seats inside and the bomb could go off anytime once the doors close. Can we do anything to stop Flehair?”
Toby’s call to action had Sam focused again, “The frequency of Flehair’s transmitter is 1.3 Gigahertz, if we can flood the area with a signal strong enough then maybe we can jam the airwaves stopping Flehair’s transmitter from working.”
The two sat quietly for a moment, they had nothing in the kit bag powerful enough to block a signal like that.
“I have it!” started Toby, looking across the street at a news van, “you said that the frequency was close to the news broadcast frequencies, with their big dishes on the roofs, they have all the power we need. Can we use one of them?”
“Genius!” cheered Sam, “if we can direct a news dish through the windows of the conference centre, towards the speakers, then we should be able to block Flehair’s transmitter!”
“What about the guy sitting in the van?” asked Toby.
“Leave him to me,” came Sam’s reply with a smile.
In the conference hall, the last of the attendees made their way in, being ushered to their seats. Making sure that everything is in place, Flehair turned to leave the hall just before the doors a closed and the conference began.
Outside, Sam approached the reporter leaning against the news van, sipping his coffee and playing with his phone, “Excuse me mister, president Obama has just been spotted around the corner,” said Sam, in a little girl voice.
Coffee thrown aside, the reporter took off running with his notepad in hand and the van left wide open. “Nice one Sis,” smiled Toby.
“Okay, you go and line the dish up with the window and I’ll see if I can programme the upload frequency to 1.3 gigahertz,” said Sam.
Before she could finish her sentence, Toby was on the roof of the van trying to move the dish, “It won’t budge Sam,” he called down, “It’s going to take the two of us!”
Meanwhile, Flehair was approaching the main exit of the conference building, confidant that his plan was going perfectly.
Sam, climbing up to join Toby, was greeted with the sight of her brother laying on his back with his feet pressed against the dish, “well don’t just stand there, help me!” snorted Toby.
The two lay side by side pushing with all their strength against the dish. Slowly it began to creek forward. “One more push”, said Toby. Feeling their muscles about to burst, the dish jerked forward into position pointing directly at the conference hall window.
“Whoohoo!” they cheered.
Climbing down and into the van Sam started to programme the broadcast transmitters to the frequency of 1.3 Gigahertz.
“What’s taking so long?” asked Toby.
“It’s all computer controlled, the system has to load a new protocol to transmit at our frequency,” replied Sam.
Up flashed the computer screen, “New protocol accepted…..Loading 10%….20%….30%….”
Flehair walked away from the building, and slipping his hand into his pocket, he found the transmitter. The device scanned his fingerprint and give two short beeps to say that the detonator was armed.
The computer screen continued, “….40%….50%….60%..”, hardly a breath came from Toby and Sam, “..70%….80%….90%…”
Flehair stopped to look back at the building and smiled, thinking that after all his hard work, he’d hate to miss the fireworks show, then pressed the detonator button.
“100%, frequency locked.” Toby and Sam erupt with cheers, “We did it!”, cheers Toby.
“It worked!, We jammed the signal!” cheered Sam.
Flehairs transmitter gave 3 long tones, he tried again, the same thing happened. Knowing that something had gone wrong, Flehair walked quickly away from the building towards the car. Just as he reached the car, a black sedan screeched to a halt and three armed CIA agents jumped out.
“Mr. Flehair, I thought I might find you here, my name is Agent Spetz,” said said one of the agents, “I’m afraid you’ve reached the end of your career.”
Sam and Toby’s celebrations in the van quickly turned to worry, “what about Granddad?” said Toby, “we have to find him.”
They leaped from the van to see Flehair surrounded and being handcuffed by Agent Spetz, and just beyond, two agents helping Granddad out of the trunk of Flehair’s car. They three re-united, they hugged and cheered.
“Go easy,” pleaded Granddad, “I have a bit of a headache.”
Turning to Agent Spetz, Toby asked “How did you find us?”
“You’re not the only ones who know how to track people,” the agent laughed, “now let’s get you all back to your Granddad’s.”
The whoosh of air from the helicopter rotor blades flattened the grass in a clearing near Granddad’s house as Agent Spetz guided the twins and Granddad away from the aircraft. “After that crack on the head we couldn’t let you drive back, I’ll have one of the guys bring your car back by morning,” said Spetz.
“Thanks,” smiled Granddad, “We needed to get back in a hurry anyway before anyone realised we were gone.”
“You guys did a pretty good job today,” said Spetz to Sam and Toby, “you remind me of myself when your Granddad first trained me in the Junior Agent Division.”
“Okay, time to get going now Fintan,” interrupted Granddad, “Bye now.”
“Oh, okay”, said Agent Spetz shyly, knowing that he had put his foot in it once again, “goodbye guys!”
Granddad and the twins waved off Agent Spetz and the helicopter before walking to the house.
“So Granddad,” started Toby, “surely after all that we’ve been through, we’ve shown that we deserve a shot at the Junior Agent Division entrance exam?”
“Yes, we saved all those lives, and didn’t once get into any danger, or end up in trunk of a car,” chimed Sam with a smile.
“Alright,” said Granddad, “I guess I could have you guys around a little more often, and while you’re here we could do a little training. After all you have another year before you’re old enough to take the exam at Langley.”
The next day, Sam and Toby’s parents returned to find Granddad cutting the lawn and their son and daughter playing in the tree house.
“We’re back,” called Dad.
Sam and Toby rushed down out of the tree house to greet their parents with hugs and kisses.
“How were things while we were away?” asked Mum.
“It was fine,” said Sam, “we played some scrabble.”
“And pizza,” smiled Toby, “we should visit more often.”
“Well that’s up to Granddad,” said Dad.
Everyone turned to look at Granddad, “I’d love to have Sam and Toby visit more often,” said Granddad, “If they don’t mind hanging out with a retired old accountant.”
Sam and Toby shared a knowing grin that matched the big smile beaming out from behind Granddad’s moustache.
Did you enjoy Secret Agent Twins 1: Training Begins?
If you enjoyed Secret Agent Twins, Book 1: Training Begins, then look out for Book 2.
Here’s a sneak preview…shssss, it’s a secret….
Secret Agent Twins, Book 2: PROTO
Chapter 1: Back to School
“Lunches? Pencil cases? Phones?”
“Yes dad,” chimed the twins in response to Dad’s interrogation.
“It’s not our first day at school,” said Sam.
“It’s just our first day in 7th grade. We have everything covered,” added Toby.
The street outside of Willis Junior-High school was littered with cars and busses spilling their contents out at the curb. It was the end of summer and although it seemed to be school as usual, Sam and Toby felt like they had learned a lot during the holidays, especially in their visit with their Granddad. Sam was excited to catch up with her school friends. As much as she liked her brother, sometimes she just wanted to get away from him and be with other girls her own age. Toby enjoyed school football, and looked forward to the season ahead.
Before they got to the door, most of their class-mates had gathered with them. Like a swarm of bees moving together, buzzing with chatter about the Summer adventures, Toby was fit to burst at not being able to talk about the biggest adventure of all. Eventually Toby and Sam got to their lockers and with a sigh Sam said, “It’s killing me, we had the most exciting story of anyone, but we can’t say a word! It’s like we are the most boring kids in school!”
“I know!” replied Toby, “but maybe it’d be ok to tell just one or two…….if we swore them to secrecy?”
“NO! We can’t! Granddad and Mum and Dad could all get into serous trouble from ROT! You know we can’t!” scolded Sam.
“OK! OK! I just wish we could is all,” said Toby, feeling sorry for mentioning it. “So what’s first?”
Sam, checking her diary, shook her head. “Toby, seriously, it’s the same thing every year. Our first two periods of the year are spent getting our timetables and signing up for the extra curricular activities. This term I think I’m going to do some extra computers.”
“Sound’s good, but I think I’d prefer some track and field, it’ll help with the football. Who’s running the computers?” wonders Toby.
“Miss Tunny,” replied Sam.
“Miss Tunny? Well that… ahem… You know after all that Granddad has taught us, maybe computers might be more interesting,” said a blushing Toby.
“RRRIIIINNNNGGGG!!!!!” shrieked the school bell, closely followed by the slamming of lockers all over the school. A flood of students all made their way to the sports hall, where there were rows of desks organised for students to talk to various teachers about what extra curricular activities were available. Everything from the history society, which never had much of a line, to the dodge-ball club which seemed to have a queue half the length of the hall.
There in the middle of the madness sat Miss Tunny. No-one knew how old she was exactly, but she was definitely one of the younger teachers in the school. She had been teaching I.T. and business there now for 3 years since she graduated from college.
“Hello Sam, hello Toby,” her voice had a warm and friendly tone.
“Hello Miss,” they replied.
“Did you have a nice Summer?” added Toby.
“I sure did, how kind of you to ask Toby. And you? What did you two get up to during the holidays?” came the reply.
Before Toby could utter a word, Sam jumped in, “Can we sign up to the computer club Miss Tunny?”
“Of course, I would love to have you,” she said as she turned the sign up sheet around towards Sam, before pointing to where they should add their names.
“It’s starts next Thursday, in the I.T. room C5. All you’ll need is a pen and paper to take some notes,” explained Miss Tunny, “Oh! And you might be interested in this.”
Miss Tunny produced a leaflet from a pile, “There is a new competition being run this year, it’s called the ‘President’s Coding Program’. It’s to encourage young people to become more involved in computing and programming, I think you guys could put together a great entry.”
“WOW! Sound’s cool, thank you Miss,” said Toby, before he and Sam headed off to explore the other tables.
Halfway around the world, deep in the Republic of Tajoria’s secret intelligence headquarters, a small group of 4 men sat around a long table. At the head of the table was nothing but a computer screen with a familiar green line across the centre on a black background. The line moved with the speech, as if the screen was alive, “Flehair has failed us!” said the screen, “What happened?”
A short, very round man with glasses and black hair slicked across his balding head, cleared his throat with a cough. “Flehair got caught up in a feud with an old enemy. It turned out that Charlie Brin discovered the plans and the CIA managed to intercept Mr. Flehair.”
“So our plans were foiled by a retired CIA agent?” asked the screen.
“Not quite Sir, it appears that it was actually his grandchildren that stopped the bomb from going off,” came the reply.
The voice grew quiet, there was complete silence in the room, the green line perfectly still. Everyone sitting around the table could feel the building tension. 30 seconds passed, then 45, a whole minute of complete silence. The voice returned, quieter than usual, “As none of you seem to have any clue of what needs to happen now, allow me to spell it out. Brin and those grandchildren of his need to be removed from the equation.”
“Kill the children?” asked another man.
“No,” said the voice quietly, “killing them would lead the CIA to come looking for the killers. We need to have them arrested by the very people that trust them the most.”
“Sir,” started the round fellow, “we have a man on the ground in the United States at the moment, I think I may have a plan that could remove the children and Charlie Brin from ever being able to bother us again.”
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Secret Agent Twins 2: PROTO
Note from the author.
Thank you for reading Secret Agent Twins: Training Begins, I hope you enjoyed it. There will be more adventures from Sam and Toby coming real soon. If you don’t want to miss out on any updates, you can send me an email at [email protected] and you will receive a message as soon as the latest adventure is released.