Drake’s immediate response was denial. Kari looked contemplative.
“Spies?” Drake asked in disbelief. “Why are my parents suddenly interesting?”
“Why would our parents be spies?” Kari asked thoughtfully.
“Your parents were in college during the height of the Cold War,” Mrs. Tennyson pointed out. “They started out as young conspiracy theorists getting together, but it soon turned into an information gathering team of close to twenty people. Both of Drake’s parents and Kari’s father were involved.” Mrs. Tennyson then turned to Kari. “Did your mother ever know?”
Kari shrugged. “She left when I was a little girl,” she said simply. “I haven’t heard from her in nine years.”
“I’m sorry,” Mrs. Tennyson consoled.
“It’s her fault she’s gone, not yours,” Kari replied. “What were they gathering information for? Was it to help America win the Cold War?”
“They weren’t trying to help anyone win anything,” Mrs. Tennyson explained. “They gathered secrets from everyone, the US, Soviet Union, the UK, even France and Germany.”
“Why do all of this?” Chris asked. “For the fun of it?”
“I think it was more for the curiosity behind it,” Mrs. Tennyson supposed. “They weren’t out to win a war; they just wanted to know what was truly going on. The stories my husband told me made them appear just fearless in their pursuit of knowledge. They were young, curious and willing to take that kind of risk.”
“So they became spies?” Drake asked, still not fully buying all of this. “It still doesn’t sound like my parents. My parents are the safest people I know; my dad takes vitamins religiously and pays bills and taxes the day they come in the mail. I once watched my mom compare peanut butter brands for almost ten minutes.” Drake leaned forward in his seat. “What exactly about my parents made them spies as good as you claim.
“The collective cleverness of ingenuity of these people would’ve made NASA jealous,” Mrs. Tennyson said. “All of this only lasted for two years. After that, they all settled down, went back to school and made their lives and families.”
“What type of secrets did they gather?” Kari asked.
“Anything they thought was interesting; locations of top secret nuclear facilities, private dealings of high ranking officials, even where the Soviets kept Hitler’s body.”
Kari reached into her pocket and pulled out her father’s silver ring. She passed it over to Mrs. Tennyson. “What were these? My father and Drake’s parents all had one.”
Mrs. Tennyson examined the ring. “These rings were the unofficial symbol for their group. The color silver represents illumination, and to your parents and their friends that meant the thirst for knowledge.” She handed the ring back to Kari and pulled out a thin chain from around her neck and under her shirt. Hanging from it was a silver ring exactly like Kari’s. “This one was Richard’s.”
“So let me back up here,” Drake said. “If our parents were spies, why are they disappearing now? My parents disappeared two days ago, and a few days before that Kari’s dad was gone, too. So what’s happening now?”
“I’m not sure,” Mrs. Tennyson replied. She then turned to her son, who seemed deep in thought. “What are you thinking about, Chris?”
Chris sat there rubbing his chin for a minute. “I think someone talked,” he then said. Turning to Drake and Kari, he said, “My dad worked for a computer software company here in LA. He specialized in security and firewall software. If my dad wanted something hidden, no one would be able to find it. Logically, if he was half as amazing as he was back in college, the only way someone would find them out would be a snitch in the group.”
It was a thought that hadn’t crossed either Drake’s or Kari’s minds. “Why would one of them betray the others like that?” Kari asked.
Chris shrugged thoughtfully. “I don’t know. Maybe one of them got found out and he ratted the others out as part of a deal?”
“Mrs. Tennyson,” Drake said, “is there any evidence left that would connect any of our parents to any of this?”
“No,” she replied. “That’s what’s confusing me in all of this. Richard said everything was destroyed.”
“There’s something still missing,” Chris interjected. He turned to Drake and Kari and asked, “Who disappeared first?”
Drake and Kari looked to each other. Kari then replied, “My dad went missing.” Her face suddenly changed as if she just realized something. “But he sent me a letter warning me. He lives in Chicago, but he sent me a letter to my college in D.C. It usually takes mail a day or two to make that trip. I usually take the train to make the trip, and it’s still a seventeen hour trip. There’s no way my dad was the first to be taken.” She suddenly looked so relieved to know that.
“Can I see that list you said your dad sent you?” Chris asked.
Kari reached into her back pocket and pulled the folded list out and passed it over to Chris. Chris looked it over. “You’re sure this is your father’s handwriting?” he asked without taking his eyes off it.
“I know what my dad’s handwriting looks like,” she replied slightly defensive.
Chris didn’t talk as he continued studying the list. Drake watched his eyes dart all over the page. “A name’s missing,” he said simply. When no one responded to him, he looked up at everyone. All three of them just looked completely confused. Chris turned to his mother and asked, “Didn’t dad say there was a professor involved, too?”
Mrs. Tennyson suddenly understood, but Drake and Kari still didn’t. “What professor?” Drake asked.
“My dad told me that one of their professors was part of the whole spy ring,” Chris explained. “Having a professor involved made them look like a legitimate normal school club, which helped them avoid attention.” All of a sudden he stood up and started walking away, saying to himself “What was his name?” He came back with a MacBook covered in stickers from different video games. He sat down and started typing away. Everyone went over to look over his shoulders to see him looking up the faculty for George Washington University. He came to a link for one of the teachers and clicked it. A picture of an older man, easily in his seventies, appeared on the screen.
“That’s the professor,” Chris said triumphantly. “Arthur Greiser.”
“Professor Greiser?” Kari asked. “He’s one of the most popular teachers there. He was my dad’s favorite professor there; when my dad told him I was planning to go to GWU he even found me some extra scholarship money.”
“Maybe he can find us some answers,” Drake replied. He then pulled out his phone, flipped it open, and asked, “Does this guy have a phone number?”
Drake dialed as Chris read off the number. Kari snatched the phone out of Drake’s hand before he could finish, though. “What?” Drake asked annoyed.
“What were you planning to say?” she asked back. “I don’t think this is something we should talk about over a phone.”
“You want to go to Washington, D.C.? We just got here!”
“Kids, were you followed?” Mrs. Tennyson asked. Everyone turned to see her at the window, looking at six men in suits coming out of three black cars across the street.
Drake and Kari both looked horrified. “How did they follow us?” Kari asked in disbelief.
Drake peered out the window to get a better look. “They don’t look like the guys back in Aurora,” he pointed out.
The six guys started walking toward the house. Drake and Mrs. Tennyson stepped away from the window and everyone ducked into the kitchen and out of sight.
Chris set his computer on the counter and continued to look something up. “Yeah, there’s a search out for you guys.” He twisted the computer around to show Drake and Kari both on an FBI wanted list for questioning of “possible terrorist activity”.
“Great, now we’re terrorists,” Drake said. “What do we do now?”
There was a hard knock from the front door. “FBI, please open up,” said a deep male voice.
“Be right there!” Mrs. Tennyson called back. She then gave Drake, Kari and Chris a stern look and whispered, “Go out the back. Stay hidden and I’ll stall them as long as I can. Go. Now!”