Identity Unknown

"Being back here made me see how much it can get to you; the training, all of the lessons, even just the environment we are in. We aren't the same as everyone else. And everyone else can never know.'

After six months of searching for her father, Charlotte Goode returns to the Gallagher Academy. Exams and eager friends await, but something is wrong. When a phone call changes everything, Zach can offer the answer - but someone will stop at nothing to keep him silent. And when a double agent is revealed, Charlotte must choose who to trust - but time is running out, and the Academy's greatest secrets are at risk.

The stakes are higher, but is she ready?


24. Lost

"Hello, and welcome."

The voice sounded like it belonged on a cheesy game show, but as my eyes flickered open, I wasn't on a cheaply-run-but-supposedly-glamorous set. Stone walls surrounded me, letting the cold seep in. I shivered slightly, and a jacket was instantly thrown in my direction. I smiled at the young guy who had haphazardly chucked it at me, and he winked, which I wasn't expecting, because 1) I hardly look attractive when I try to make an effort, and 2) I was pretty sure that my hair had gone frizzy from the humidity when I was outside.

I remembered it clearly - Rick, Cammie, Liz, Macey and I strolling down the street. My flip-flops clacked against the pavement and Liz clasped an ice-lolly. The sun was roasting our backs as we walked towards... I could hardly remember. But then the memories surfaced, suddenly, unexpectedly, and I was hit by a surge of fear.

"How long have I been here?" I asked weakly.

"Only a couple of hours," a voice reassured, but it didn't belong to one of my friends. A man clad in a silver suit beamed at me. "Welcome to the CIA, Miss Goode."

"Where are my friends?" I asked him. His smile, an arc of gleaming white teeth, remained on his face, even though his words cut me like a dagger. "They're not available just yet." As a spy, this either means they are unconscious, being tortured, or... I didn't want to think about the other option. I had managed to get out of that room in time, but I don't know if anyone else did.

"Can you remember?" he asked. I nodded numbly, the memory crawling back to me. We hadn't been able to get rid of the substance that was intoxicating the air. There were no obvious escape routes. But I remember pushing against a wall panel, feeling it shudder beneath my palm before swiveling around, revealing a way out. I tried to call out to my friends, but I was choking, we all were. I stumbled through and then felt myself fall, my chest aching, as my eyes slammed shut.

"Where are my friends?" I asked again. The man frowned slightly, his perfect illusion shattering as his eyebrows arched in confusion. He must have thought I was still partly unconscious or something.

"I told you, they aren't available." He accepted a clipboard from a young woman with bright lipstick and turned back to me.

"Actually, we have a young man here with us - something Solomon?"

"Rick?" I said, hope and relief flooding through me. But the man was shaking his head.

"No, Joseph Solomon. Follow me." I felt my legs pulling me along, heard my footsteps clash on the ground, but I was numb. I knew trying to get Bex back by getting into the CIA wouldn't be easy, but I didn't ever imagine it could be this dangerous.

"Do you have a Rebecca Baxter here?" I asked the man. But he didn't acknowledge my question, instead gesturing to a door and walking away. I didn't even know his name.

Sighing, I twisted the handle and opened the door, an audible creak escaping from its hinges. Two figures stood before me in that room. One was Mr Solomon. The other was my brother.

"Zach!" I cried, wrapping my arms around him and burying my face in his chest. I hadn't got to talk properly with him for what seemed like months.

"Hey, C," he murmured, with a smile that didn't quite reach his eyes.

"What's wrong?" I asked, my eyes skimming across a fresh scar on his forearm.

"Sit down," instructed Mr Solomon. I kept my eyes on Zach as I sat.

"Is Bex here?" I asked.

"Yes," Zach informed me. I breathed a sigh of relief, a tiny segment of pain easing away. At least I knew one of my friends was safe.

"Look, there's something else..." Zach started suddenly, but trailed off. I let my eyes flicker over to Mr Solomon. He was sitting completely still, his face expressionless.

"Mr Solomon?" I said, scared for his reaction. But he didn't do anything, say anything.

"I'm really sorry Charlie, but..." Again my brother couldn't find the words to tell me. But I had already feared the worst. And I had a reasonable idea, judging my my teacher's grief-stricken manner. But I couldn't accept it to be true until I heard the words said out loud.

"Rick didn't make it out," said Zach.

His words hung in the air, but I couldn't form a response. I clenched and unclenched my fists. It can't be true, I chanted in my head, but my brother's solemn expression and the pain gripping my teacher told me otherwise.

'Not available' can mean dead. And today, it did.


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