Monday, June 24, 2024

Targets Unknown

Written By Agastya Sharma (Grade 7)

At a party in the jolly state of North Carolina, at the house of the even jollier governor Paul Hopkins, a lot of influential people had turned up. The defence minister, the governors of 12 other states, and the most renowned CIA handler in history, Brook Whispel. Brook had left early, unconvinced of the security measures, and had gone back to Langley to watch the party through the security cameras. A scuffle had started between the defence minister and Paul. Brook smiled at himself. He would not have expected any less at a party where cabinet ministers unwind and get drunk. Movement in another room caught his eye. A part of the ceiling was on the floor and three masked men jumped through the hole. One spotted the camera and it went black. Brook had anticipated this. He grabbed his phone and hit speed dial. 235 miles away, in New York City, four people picked up their phones. Four teenagers ran through the door of their house to the waiting jet. Four children reached Langley 1 hour later. 

Part two: Four teens and their firearms

Brook sat still in his office with his files of the four teens in front of him. He felt remorse that he had had to employ kids and possibly put an end to their futures but had he any choice he would have never laid an eye on these innocent children. Now, with the files of their previous missions in front of him, he began to read.

Ethan Springfield
Full name: Ethan Johannes Springfield
Date of birth: 14/6/2005
Age: 14
Previous missions: nuclear emissions project, operation unmanned
Favoured firearm: ACR 6.8
Favoured pistol: Beckler and Koch Mark 23 .45
Occupation in the unit: Field analyst

Brook had gotten them to write their own files so he was squinting to read the next file as the handwriting was miniscule.

Ruby Thorne
Full name: Ruby Velazqez Thorne
Date of birth: 26/9/2005
Age: 14
Previous missions: nuclear emissions project, operation unmanned
Favoured firearm: Barrett .50 Cal
Favoured pistol: Beretta Brigadier .40
Occupation in the unit: AI expert

Brook smiled to himself. It wasn’t unexpected of Ruby to call herself an expert. Though her performance had been commendable. In the nuclear emissions project, or better known as the NEP, a group of scientists had tried to create a nuclear-powered missile to help the army wipe out Afghanistan. Had she not got that crucial bit of information out of that last blueprint, then the Indian subcontinent would not have been alive this moment. He moved on to the next file.

Joe Thompson
Full name: Joe Mary Thompson
Date of birth: 5/3/2005
age: 14
previous missions: nuclear emissions project, operation unmanned
Favoured firearm: scar-l
Favoured pistol: Browning Buck Mark .22
occupation in the unit: combat expert

Brook didn’t pay much attention to the occupation section; for he remembered Joe’s. Joe had surpassed the most trained agents in his orientation session with all the guns laid before him. He was surprised that Joe hadn’t made a obscene emoji in the favored firearm section, he was that versatile with guns. The last file caught his eye. He opened it and began reading.

Veronica Springfield
Full name: Veronica Johannes Springfield
Date of Birth: 14/6/2005
Age: 14
Previous missions: NEP, Operation Unmanned
Favored firearm: Barett M82 .50
Favored pistol: Cylinder and Slide M2D08
Occupation in the unit: Weapons expert; sniper

Brook paused. Joe was fine with combat versatality, but if Veronica had not been there during the NEP, the missile would have been fired. Yes, even her brother, Ethan and her best friend, Ruby had played a part, but if this unit was ever to be revealed to the public, then it would be Veronica who would take the cake and the Presidential award.

His train of thought stopped as the door was knocked on and opened. First walked in Joe, with a SCAR-L in his hands, then came Ethan, along with his preferred ACR 6.8, and then Ruby and Veronica, discussing something about a smoke grenade, with a blueprint between them. As they sat, they all placed the guns on the table, before Brook spoke.

“I hope you have read the file provided to you for your next mission.”
“Dear lord, Brook. We didn’t need to. It’s all over the news. They asked for a ransom. 100 k for each minister. 50 k for each non-government guest. The total equals to about 3 mil. Of course, excluding casualties and concussions. Let’s just hope there aren’t any.” Joe rattled off. 
“Of course, calculating the area by the number of grenades they threw, I’d say there are about three concussions, give or take,” Veronica said.
It’s marvellous, Brook thought. How they have all the information the same as we do. They are better than what I had ever aspired them to be. 
“So, Brook. When are we leaving? I understand that we should make it fast if we want to reach North Carolina.” Ethan asked.
Brook smiled. “ Your transport is waiting.”

They all walked out with their kits: about seven water bottles each; their guns and weaponry like knives and grenades; and their possessions. And, of course, parachutes. They were going to drop near the hostage site and take out the thugs. Rather simple for them. They climbed into the chopper and sat with their headsets on. They knew what was coming. This mission was their third, but it was the first time the public would get to know about the teenage special forces of the CIA. Brook would get that covered, Ethan thought. He will delegate the job to us, and then tell the media the mission was carried out by the Elite Task Force. There was no such task force, but the public will believe what was told to them. As the copter took off, the radio started chattering. It was news that the goons had increased the ransom by a million dollars. The faster they got there, the better. 

“Approaching landing site,” the pilot spoke into their headsets. Ethan looked out of the chopper. It was densely forested land. They would be entering the hostage-takers’ territory in a few minutes. 

“Landing site reached. Take action,” the pilot said. Ethan looked at his friends. They all were scared but looked defiant. Ethan smiled at them. The chopper swerved to dodge a missile launched from the three-storey bungalow that was the site of a jovial party only seven hours back. Ethan was thrown off the chopper and he was joined by Veronica, then Joe, and then finally Ruby. They soared through the air and then realization dawned on them. If the chopper had been ambushed, then their presence was known.

Ruby went limp in the air. Ethan reached her just in time to pull her up and open his chute. Behind him, Joe did the same and Veronica’s chute flew open in front of him. They hit the forest floor and detached their parachutes. Ethan gently laid Ruby down on the floor and as her eyes flew open, she shuddered. 

“Dear lord, you gave us a fright. Are you okay?” Veronica asked.

“Yeah, the gear took the hit. This means they know we’re here, don’t they? We better be vigilant. We should be expecting an attack any time soon.” Ruby said.

Ethan was busy analysing the gear and said, “ According to my calculations, the rocket came from over there.” He pointed to a clearing. “We should get going. The mob that captured the ministers was part of an organization, called SnakeStrike. The NEP scientists were SnakeStrike’s main lab experts. They don’t do petty jobs like ransoms, but I guess after their top people were assassinated, they would need money.”

A sudden noise made a few birds fly out of their trees.

It was a bayonet’s crack. 

“Quick, take cover.” was Ethan’s response to the wary looks on the faces of his team.

All of them leapt behind different bushes and Ethan could hear the silent loading of firearms. A man walked into the clearing where not moments ago, four teenagers had landed. He had a muscular build, with broad shoulders and strong legs. He was tanned like he’d been on the beach. He carried the bayonet they had heard. “Who’s there? I have a gun. I’m not afraid to shoot.”

Static buzzed in Ethan’s headset. Veronica’s voice cut through the silence. “We need to take him out. If he discovers us then our goose is cooked.”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake, Veronica. Your big brother has already planned everything. All we need right now is a diversion. Ruby, feel free to do the honours.”

“Righto, chief.” At the same time, three coordinated blasts behind the man were set off. He turned abruptly and lost his balance. And, like a well-trained unit, all four of them surrounded him. Joe tackled him down and tied him with industrial-grade rope. He struggled, but to his astonishment, this teenager’s strength surpassed his own. He faced the one who appeared to be the leader. “Who are you? What do you want from me?”

“Uh, uh, uh. Tsk, tsk. Even such a sensible man like yourself should know that when you’re hog-tied, you’re not in a position to ask questions. Or make threats.” looking at the man’s angered expression, Ethan said.

The man sniggered. “Neither are you. I hit a beacon in my shoe when I fell. My team is surrounding you as we speak.” He looked rather pleased with himself until his back was pummeled by Joe. His grin turned into a grimace. “You kids should never poke your nose into other’s business. Didn’t your parents teach you that?” At that, Ruby, who was orphaned and lived with the Springfields, shrieked and drew her Beretta and placed it behind the man’s head. “You should learn not to poke your nose into others’ business.” And with that sentence, her finger tightened around the trigger. The man fell sideways, blood now flowing from the back of his head. 

“Ruby, control yourself! He was our only lead and you put a bullet in his brain!” Ethan shouted. “I understand he said hurtful things but that does not justify you shooting him in cold blood! Veronica, take the people surrounding us out. We have made too much of a presence of ourselves and now the sneak in and blow stuff up plan won’t work.”

“So, what do we do?” Joe asked.

There was a glint in Ethan’s eyes. “Plan B.”


The door of the minister’s house was blown down. All four of them had their guns at the ready, and they looked around. The first room was empty. It was circular, and only housed the flight of stairs going upstairs to the first floor. Ethan motioned to the others. We’re lucky they didn’t hear the door blow up, he thought. Veronica and Joe walked side by side, up the flight of stairs. They were all dressed in black. The first room they entered on the first floor was a storage room filled with fresh produce from the farm the minister, Paul Hopkins, owned. “Clear.” Ruby said.

They walked on, checking all the rooms until they found they the living room, with its door slightly ajar. Voices were coming from inside. Ruby said, “Let’s put a frag grenade in. Then we’ll walk in and put a few bullets in everybody.” Clearly, she was still seething from the insults by the man in the jungle.

“No, have you gone mad? They’re more hostages in there than thugs. If we throw a grenade in, the casualties will be—” Veronica was cut off mid sentence as they heard nothing else from inside the room. All of them suddenly had their guns to their side. They knew that the element of surprise they were counting on had disappeared. Now the only option was to go into the room with a blown cover. Joe, the strongest of the four, pushed the door open. Three men stood waiting, all with Mini-Uzis in their hands. Twelve more were guarding the hostages. Obviously, they had called reinforcements. 

“Run!” Ethan shouted. All four of them dived for cover as the men opened fire. The door was blown off its hinges. Ethan ran up the stairs to the second floor with Ruby, whereas Joe and Veronica ran across the floor to the storage room they had passed earlier. Ethan and Ruby spun around to find two men chasing them. Both of them fired a few warning shots which toppled the first man back down the stairs and made the second dive for cover. The agents kept running until they reached the roof. One man was there but he had his back to them. Ruby motioned very silently. She had recognized him. He was the one who launched the rocket onto their chopper. Let’s push him off. 

Ethan nodded. Both of them crept up very silently and in a flash Ethan had his pistol to the man’s back. “Don’t move or you’ll have a round in your back.” Ruby ran up just as Ethan left the man. As expected, he spun around. He was welcomed with a kick to the stomach. His face froze in an expression of horror as his legs hit the ledge and he toppled over it. His body seemed to hang in the air for a moment, before he flew off the roof. 


Meanwhile, Joe and Veronica were managing just as well. A man lay with a knife in his heart, while another was slumped against the wall with blood sprouting from his neck. Right now, both of them worked together to set off a fuse in the storage room. They ran out just as an explosion shook the whole house. Up on the roof, Ethan and Ruby looked at each other. They feared the worst.


All of them radioed each other and somehow managed to make it to the landing site. All of them were out of breath, but they felt rather satisfied with the results. Three thugs were knocked out, with four more dead. Four more casualties than required, but it was rather all right. Ethan was just happy to see that his sister was okay, and he showed that by crushing her in a hug. Then he told the others the plan.


They made their way back into the house. The scene was of pure mayhem. Looks like Joe’s makeshift bomb seemed to work, Ethan thought. The canopy of leaves that covered the ceiling was now burning. An unconscious man was lying on the floor. They went back up the flight of stairs. Another man was there. He looked much more well trained than the goons who had unsuccessfully tried to contain the children. An AK-47 hung by his side as he smoked a cigar. The smoke from it was thick, so the kids coud not see the man’s face. Joe raised his gun, waiting for permission from Ethan. He waved the gun down. Attack, he mimed. Joe got the message clear as day. But it was as if the man was expecting him to do that. He spun around and backhanded Joe so hard that he fell backwards. The man dropped the cigar and crushed it under his polished shoe. The smoke dissipated revealing what none of them expected to see. 


All of them stared in horror as he grinned. “Didn’t you expect it, Ethan? It was the perfect opportunity. I’ve been working for SnakeStrike way before I joined the CIA. When they had attacked your school four years ago, you four caught my eye, and I managed to get you to join the CIA. Then happened Operation Unmanned, then the NEP. You four now are liabilities more than assets to the CIA. One wrong move and you could reveal to the whole world that the agency has been using kids. They’ll thank me when they find that I have killed—” he was cut off as a sharp pain overtook him in the abdomen. He put his hand to it and looked down. His hand was red. His shirt was soaked with blood around his stomach. He fell to his knees. Blood loss would get to him first. But, he was wrong. He was thrown backwards as a bullet hit him in the forehead. 

Thereforth, it was a cakewalk for the four. They walked on, shooting anybody who would get in their way from completing the mission. They finally reached the living room where a man stood alone, guarding the hostages. He fell as they walked in, a hole in his head. All the ministers were freed and they hit the alarm so that the CIA would know that they had completed the mission. Half an hour later, a chopper let itself down in the forest. All the people walked in and strapped themselves in. An hour later, the chopper touched down near their house. The Springfield’s house was also Joe’s, as his parents lived with the Springfields. All of them sat inside the house with a sense of momentary freedom before their parents came and fawned all over them. They all looked at each other. They smiled.

All was good.

Featured Image Courtesy – Fandom


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