“The Criminal Spy” by Eve Hastings

Maia Adey had gotten good at leading a double life by her fourteenth birthday. She was a spy for a group of wanted criminals, and even her family didn’t know.

“Adey! Get in here!” Maia’s boss yelled one afternoon. No one knew his real name, though he was the most wanted criminal in the U.S. Everyone called him Crypt because he was extremely vague when he talked about his past. Not to mention, he had a history of putting his “mysteriously dead” enemies’ bodies in crypts.

Maia shot up and nimbly leapt from her chair to the door of Crypt’s office. She used her shoulder to shove open the door, which usually liked to stick to the doorframe.

“Adey, here’s your new mission,” Crypt told Maia. In the five years since she’d joined, she’d learned being quiet and obedient usually got her raises. This was why she joined–her family needed the money.

“There is a government agency called the Youth Spy Division, and they have a recruiter at your school. Your job is to get the recruiter’s attention. Be recruited to the agency, and spy on them. You will report back to us with information on what they’re doing and when they’re doing it. If you are assigned to missions, inform us. Got it?”

“Yes, I think so,” Maia replied.

“All right, girl, get out of my office and get going.”

Maia ran out of the office and snatched her bag from her chair, startling all of the people waiting for an audience with Crypt. When she got to school she spotted the recruiter immediately: a new “gym teacher.”

Maia was assigned to the recruiter’s group, and he said that they be doing fitness tests. She aced the tests with flying colors.

The recruiter pulled Maia aside and explained that she was being recruited to the Youth Spy Division. “You’re very athletic,” he said. “And we’ve taken a look at your grades–you’re perfect spy material.”

For the rest of the day, every agonizing second scraped by like nails dragging down a chalkboard. Eventually the bell rang, and with it Maia’s heart began beating faster. This is it.

Two men in suits stood casually outside a black van in the carpool line. Maia walked up to them and told them who she was. They simply motioned for her to get in. After a few minutes, the car pulled into a lot in front of a building marked GOVERNMENT FACILITY: NO TRESPASSING. She hopped out and sprinted through the door.

Maia arrived in a room with whitewashed walls and the faint smell of lemons. One enormous window was open, letting the late spring heat inside. Two teenagers sat in the middle. They both had olive skin, curly hair, and hazel eyes. The girl’s hair was pulled back into a sleek ponytail.

“Are you the girl we’re working with?” the girl asked. “I’m Lilia, by the way. And this is my brother, Jonathan.”

“Maia Adey,” Maia replied. She twisted her own straight blonde hair around one finger. “Yeah, I think one of the agents said so.”

Sure enough, a few minutes later, an agent came by and told them they were going to start training. He led them inside, where they went through an intense workout that left all three of them exhausted and sore.

For the next week, everything raced by in a blur. Maia barely had time for everything she had to do. Whenever she came home after training, her muscles felt like lead.

“Hey,” Lilia greeted Maia breathlessly one day. “We’re going on a mission.”

On the car ride to the location, an agent explained what they were doing.

“We’ve intercepted a message saying that someone plans to burn one of our government facilities–the Facility for Aspiring Spies-in-Training, or FAST. This is a protest, but they won’t care if they hurt anyone. Your objective is to get everyone evacuated quickly.”

Maia slipped her phone out and sent a message to Crypt explaining the mission. His response was: Delay them until 4.

So Maia confused the driver and made him take several wrong turns. She noticed Lilia and Jonathan exchanging a suspicious glance, but ignored it. At the facility, she made so many alleged “mistakes” that she set the evacuation back at least half an hour.

One of the little girls was clinging to a desk in a classroom. She had elfish features. Her hair was a light blonde and her eyes were deep blue lakes. “What’s going on?”

“We have to leave,” Maia replied. “Come on.”

The girl held Maia’s hand the whole way out. But when Maia tried to leave the girl with Jonathan, she let go, “I want to help.”

In that moment, something in Maia melted. She’s only an innocent little girl. She decided to help the little girl, who reminded Maia of her little sister–scared, hungry, and small. Maia stopped delaying everyone, and they made it out with two minutes to spare.

When she tried to explain to Crypt later, he swatted her questions away. “You did okay, Adey. At least they still got the building.”

But he became suspicious when she allowed the next three missions to succeed. Finally, Crypt told Maia to just pass the information along to him. He would take care of the rest.

After Maia had failed to get the location of another government facility Crypt had asked her to get, she called him to explain and fix things.

“I honestly tried, boss. I . . . okay, you want me to find out how to get into the CEO’s software? On it, boss.” Maia hung up.

Maia heard a small cough from the doorway. Lilia.

Apparently, she had heard the whole conversation.

The agents didn’t lock her up, but instead kicked her out of the program. However, this meant Maia would have to face him the next day.

That night, her phone buzzed: Set bombs inside YSD dormitories, detonate in 1 hr.

Jonathan and Lilia boarded there, since their parents worked for the government. So did that little girl Maia had met during the evacuation. She’d had been officially accepted into the YSD as a result of her bravery.

The three of them had been amazing people. Jonathan had shown Maia how to jump out of a moving car without getting hurt. Lilia had risked her life to protect a visiting ambassador. The girl, whose name was Annabelle, had wanted to go back for her classmates.

Then, Maia made her decision.

She slunk out the back door and silently took her bike out of the garage. It was two in the morning. Crickets chirped and the dewdrops settled on plants, little gems glinting in the moonlight. Maia biked to YSD as fast as she could. When she got there, she found the back entrance and scaled the wall as only an expert Youth Spy can do. She landed lightly on her feet and took off. Next, she found the nearest panic button and punched it. The alarm began blaring. The sound made it all seem so real that Maia began panicking, her heart beating faster and adrenaline filling her with energy.

Next, she ran up two floors to where some of the spies lived. She knocked on every door, yelled, “Evacuation!” and moved on to the next. Kids stumbled out, rubbing sleep from their eyes. Many of them recognized Maia, but she continued running.

When she got to Lilia’s room, she found Lilia outside, looking about her with panic in her eyes. Lilia spotted Maia and raised her eyebrow.

“Bombs are set to go off in one hour!” Maia yelled. “Help me round people up!”

Lilia folded her arms. “And why should we trust you?”

Maia shrugged. “You don’t really have a choice.”

When Maia got to Annabelle’s hall, she found Annabelle rounding up kids.

“Bombs are set to go off in an hour!” she called to Annabelle. “Help me evacuate!”

Annabelle’s eyes stayed on her for a moment. “I’ve got this floor. You get the top one.”

Maia nodded, and took off. She didn’t stop running until everyone was evacuated. The adults who were taking night shifts in other buildings questioned everyone. Maia explained that many wanted criminals were very close by. Several adults went inside to diffuse the bombs, and others went to catch the criminals. Maia also mentioned the location of Crypt’s office.

The next day, Maia was offered a position in the Youth Spy Division. She told them to wait. She wanted to have a normal life for the time being.

Crypt was captured, and Maia would live a normal life for some time. Someday, she’d be a spy again. Her criminal days were over.

 

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