Part 1 - Chapter 20 - The Mission (Part 1)

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Dear Readers: These next two chapters are longer than usual because I didn't want to break up Sing's mission into more than two parts. Enjoy!

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The following evening, I arrived at the front of the academy buzzing with nervous energy. My heart raced, and I checked under my poncho for about the hundredth time to make sure I hadn't forgotten my Vaquero.

Judge Severn drove around the curve of the driveway and pulled to the curb. Trent got out carrying a backpack and stood by my side. She got out too and walked around the car to join us.

"This is hard for me, Sing," she said. "I know you see me as a judge, unfeeling, and a cold-hearted person." She looked at Trent. "But I'm sending my only grandson into danger." She ran a sleeve across her eyes. "I can't even give him a hug for good luck."

"I'm going to be okay," he said. "Don't worry about me."

"Make me proud, boys." Without looking back, Judge Severn got into her car and drove off.

Trent pointed to the academy's entrance gate. "Look!" Rumbling up the driveway, belching diesel fumes, rolled an old bus. It looked like the kind of bus that rock bands toured in. No windows on the sides or back, fancy paint job, and lots of chrome.

The bus pulled to a stop in front of us and the door opened. Larry sat in the driver seat and said, "All aboard."

Trent piled on behind me. Larry pulled the lever and shut the door. It wasn't like any bus I had ever seen. Both sides of the aisle were lined with computer monitors. A bank of workstations ran the length of the bus with a variety of computers, headphones, microphones, and speakers. I saw a bathroom in the back and a set of lounge chairs that would look really good in my living room. "We aren't exactly inconspicuous in this thing, are we?"

Larry shifted the transmission into gear. "It's a matter of context. In the back of a resort parking lot among all of the other flashy busses owned by entertainers, we'll blend right in and look perfectly natural."

"What do you think of all this?" I asked Trent as I took a seat beside him in one of the loungers.

"Pretty cool."

The strip wasn't far from Spring Valley, and the ride didn't take long. Larry turned into a parking lot. He drove to an area where other buses were parked and powered off the motor.

Larry got out of his seat and flipped a switch that provided muted illumination to the inside of the bus. He spent the next hour hooking things up a lot of gadgets and testing. Trent and I helped by handing him the stuff he asked for.

When done, Larry parked Trent in front of a computer, powered it up and said, "You have untraceable Internet access through a cellular provider."

Trent nodded and began keying.

A few minutes later the monitors popped to life, we were looking at camera feeds from the hotel security system. I couldn't believe it. "How are you doing that?"

"Special modification of the CIA's Stuxnet worm," Larry explained. "We planted it weeks ago. Allows me to control the resort's security system. I'm feeding false video to hotel security, but we get to see the real thing."

He flipped a switch on the console. "Grant, do you copy?"

From somewhere inside the resort, Grant's voice came back. "Five by five."

"What's your location?"

"The lobby bar."

Larry flipped a few more switches and the display changed on the monitors.

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