Now we were in what I called the Flashy Garage. This was where the Agents’ personal cars were parked. Even at three in the morning there were a lot of cars here, and most of them were Corvettes, Beamers, a Lamborghini here and there, Cadillacs, and other foreign cars I didn’t know the names of.
“That was good you guys,” said Hawk suddenly. His voice rang out in the garage. Arielle answered with beaming gratitude, but I just stayed quiet. Hawk was a man of few words, and this was a speech for him.
The doors of the Company opened, and the three of us walked through them. Hawk led us to the Boss’s office-Dragon. I didn’t even know his real name, he’d been here much longer than I’d been in training.
In Dragon’s office, Hawk sat down in the single chair. Arielle and I stood behind him on either side.
“Well, Daviel, how did they do?” asked the older man. He had hair that used to be as black as Hawk’s own, but was now salt and pepper. His eyes were dark green, snapping and making him look younger than he must have been. His skin was tan, and he was still in good shape. Did I mention he was Hawk’s father?
“Just fine, sir. They were precise in their movements, neither got caught nor left any evidence of their short visit to the law firm,” Hawk answered in his low voice.
“Do you think they’re ready?” asked Dragon.
My hear leapt. Ready? Hell yeah! I’d been ready for this since the beginning for this! Getting promoted to Rank Four would mean I didn’t need a mentor, I was allowed to do missions alone or with a partner. C’mon Hawk, you know I’m ready!
“Do I think they’re ready?” Hawk confirmed, biting his lower lip. He looked at Arielle-pixie like Arielle with her short black hair and bright brown eyes. Barely standing five foot four, she seemed to vibrate with excitement. Hawk craned around to look at me. I lifted my chin, looking at him levelly as I itched to run my fingers through my long auburn hair. It was a nervous habit of mine. I knew standing up Hawk and I both stood around five ten, and I would always look at him as an equal, not as my better.
“I think so,” he finally answered, taking his gaze from mine back to the Boss. “They’ve had ten years worth of training, and they have been showing promise for a year now.”
Dragon nodded, clearing his throat. He was quiet for a moment and I let my eyes travel over his office. I’d been here before-the walls were wood paneling, matching the floor and desks in teak. There were expensive sculptures all around, and the two chairs were leather.
“All right. Then I promote the two of you to Fourth Rank. Tomorrow come back and we’ll have uniforms and everything else you’ll need. Congratulations both of you,” sighed Dragon. “Now you can both leave.”
Arielle was about ready to explode with joy. Thankfully though, she waited until we’d gotten out of the office before letting out her joy. She shrieked and jumped up and down, leaping into me and wrapping her arms around me in a hug. “We’re finally fourth rank! Casey, can you believe it?!”
“Heck yeah I can believe it! Ten years in the making and we don’t need mentors anymore! It’s about time,” I hugged her back and let go, both of us heading for the lounge.
The lounge was a nice sized room and connected to the lockers. First I went there while Arielle stayed in the lounge, putting on some coffee. “Mocha?” she called.
“Always,” was my reply. I walked to my locker-24-and opened it, getting out a loose t shirt and a pair of shorts. Quickly I changed out of the tight novice uniform and throwing that in the locker. Back in the lounge I threw myself down on an overstuffed leather easy chair, letting out a sigh. Arielle brought me a mug and I thanked her, blowing on the scalding liquid as I tucked my legs under me.
“So…”Arielle began, dragging her own chair to me. “We are going to be partners, right?” she asked hesitantly.
“Well duh!” I scoffed, smiling at her. “Ten years of training together? I couldn’t work with anyone else you know. You know all my moves, I know all yours. We’re perfect as partners!” I replied.
“Good. Now, we still have one issue.”
“What’s that?” I asked, scouring my mind but not able to think of anything.
“School starts in a week. This is our sophomore year you know, we’re almost sophomores!” she announced, her voice rising in a squeak.
“You know, you really do justice to your name, ‘Mouse.’ And if I recall, you said the same thing about our Freshman year,” I added, sipping the hot liquid.
“Yeah, wasn’t it great?” Arielle bubbled.
I thought back to the school year. All AP and advanced classes, ten page essays, constantly trying not to stand out. Oh yeah, it was a bomb. “The greatest,” I answered with a smirk.
“Fine, be a jerk about it,” Arielle muttered. “But on to the next topic-what kind of car are you going to ask the Company for since your sixteenth birthday is coming up?”
“Please try not to break the company budget,” commented Hawk, who had just come in the room. He helped himself to some of our coffee and went to the lockers.
When he came back out, I replied loftily, “I’m not! All I want is a Mustang.”
Hawk raised an eyebrow. “All you want?”
“Well okay,” I shrugged. “A Shelby Mustang 2009, silver and black with Satellite radio, black and grey interior, and those really cool hubcaps.” I glared at him. “And who was the one who asked for a Lamborghini for his sixteenth birthday?” it was legend that Hawk had asked the Company to comp a Lamborghini for him when he had been only sixteen.
“I had high hopes-and if you notice, I now have that Lamborghini. Plus a few Beamers, Ferraris, and other cars you can only dream of, kid,” Hawk teased, walking to the door. “Oh, and congratulations, both of you, on your Rank. Guess you don’t need me anymore, so I can go back to my own missions.” He saluted us, then left.
“No more mentor, I nearly forgot,” breathed Arielle. “We’ll be all alone on missions now, Case.”
“Yes, and without big bad Hawk to protect us, who knows what kind of trouble we’ll get into,” I added, fighting the urge to roll my eyes.
“I didn’t mean that! I mean, well I just meant we’ll be alone is all,” Arielle huffed.
Finishing off my coffee, I stood and stretched. “Hey, I think I’m going to head home. You coming?” I asked, walking to the sink and rinsing my mug out.
“Yeah, I guess. It is almost four in the morning after all,” shrugged Arielle, following in putting her mug in the sink. I stared at hers-with little penguins all over it. She noticed and scowled. “Hey-at least I have spirit. Look at yours, goth girl,” she laughed, pointing at my black and silver mug.
I punched her playfully on the shoulder, laughing. “I’m not Goth, Miss Penguin Lover!” I protested. The two of us walked out and down a set of stairs.
“Hey Henry, can you take us home?” I asked the guy at the desk.
“Sure, just a second.” He punched a few buttons and stood up, grabbing a set of keys. Arielle and I followed him to a black escalade, getting in the back.
“So I heard you two gained Rank,” he said once we were on the road.
“Yeah, no more mentors for us,” Arielle exclaimed. She was already fidgeting. That girl could barely hold still during a mission, let alone outside the Company.