Installment #1


Living as a covert agent has never been easy for me. Add in the fact that my family is a bunch of renegade military geniuses, shape-shifters, athletic and scholarly legends and fully aware of it, and you get my life in a nutshell. Being the "plain Jane" of such a... gifted bunch has its perks and problems, but it's never boring. Oh, and I forgot to mention:

We almost die on a regular basis during our missions.

Chapter 1

The frigid midnight Zephyr seemed to impale the meticulously folded pleats of my dress like a well-sharpened knife. As I stared into the darkness of the forest, lit only by a lone crescent moon above, I could hear the beating of my heart against my ribcage. I had narrowly escaped them, as usual, but this time it had felt a little too close. The next time we could suggest a location for headquarters, I would make sure to make it somewhere more urban and a bit less... rustic.

Nevertheless, I gathered up the flowering skirts around me and showed the infrared camera the faded tattoo on my ankle. After what seemed like an eternity of balancing on one leg and watching the red line go back and forth over my foot, the inconspicuous pile of leaves about a foot away me twisted itself inside out and pulled me into it. Before I could catch my breath, I was sitting in a cold metal elevator and falling at breakneck speed. I could feel my stomach turn upside down as I reached into the pocket of my ragged hoodie for my dented water bottle. Fortunately (or unfortunately- I wasn't sure yet), I landed at a hard stop as I heard the bottom of the elevator hit the hollow wooden basement of HQ. I pulled out my phone and was going to check how messed up I looked, but acknowledging that my existence was going to be questionable for the next 48 hours, I decided it would be better not to. The door of the elevator slid open with an echoing hiss, and I found myself in my younger sister's laboratory. There were cyborgs floating around carrying platters of hors-d'oeuvres and goblets of something purplish-red that looked expensive. One of them "tripped" over a clump of wires nestled comfortably between two desks, splashing the deep red liquid all over my older sister, Lisbeth's leather ballet flats. "Augh!," she exclaimed loudly, "What on earth?! Wait a sec, is this wine? Katya, I TOLD you not to mess with the big glass bottles we found in Paris! Did you get them from Erma?!"

I wisely decided to exit before Lis caught sight of my faded, worn jacket and sooty ball gown and scolded me as well. Looking for my mother, I sneaked down the staircase to the main office, where I suspected she would be. The office, or the Tablinum, as Mother called it, was probably my favorite place in the house, except for my room. And maybe the kitchen.

By Samyukta Iyer