Author's Note: So I actually started this story a long time ago but I never got very far. I know there's lots of room for improvement. Any *constructive* criticism would be helpful - don't be a jerk, I will not pay any attention to comments that are just rude, if you actually have something helpful to say then be helpful, not rude.

The day was bright. The sky was blue and clear. Birds tweeted and flew swiftly from tree to tree as a female figure ran towards a low building set between two low mountains.

Aleesha Parks had been summoned by her boss, the captain of the Secret Spy Institution, to report to his office at once. After eight years of working for him, she knew better than to keep him waiting. Of course, he would not have to wait as long had she chosen to drive, but she was not about to waste the gas to go the quarter mile or so between headquarters and home. Being a loyal subject to the captain, she had chosen to set up her home close to headquarters so that she might receive her missions in a timely manner. She loved getting new missions; they were always filled with just the right amounts of excitement and suspense. Oftentimes, Aleesha felt as though she belonged in an action movie. It was her favorite part of being a spy. She allowed the machine in front of the door to scan her ID card, then walked in as it accepted it and the automatic door opened.

People - all of them members of the SSI - milled about the area, exchanging words, documents, and other items of importance. Aleesha pushed through the crowd to the lift. It must have already been on the first floor, because the doors immediately opened. She waited a few moments before it stopped at the second floor, which was where she got off. There were signs pointing in the direction of different rooms, but Aleesha didn't need them anymore; they were really for the newer spies who were still getting used to the place. She knew that she had to take a left from the lift, then the second right, the third left, and finally the last right to get to the Captain's office. Not at all nervous, Aleesha waltzed right into the room without even knocking. She didn't have to. He knew it was her. He always knew it was her.

The office was dim. A fire blazed opposite Aleesha, just as it always did, no matter the season. It provided the only light in the small room. A desk composed of some dark wood took up the center of the room. A high-backed leather chair was behind the desk facing the fire and away from Aleesha. It always faced away from Aleesha.

It faced away from everyone, or so Aleesha was told. Though everyone knew who occupied the chair, not one person could claim that they had seen the face of the man who sat in it. He had never showed his face to any of his spies, and he had yet to give any indication that he ever would. The man was an enigma. Aleesha found that she quite liked it. The whole reason for her becoming a spy was that she loved mysteries, and here was one sitting right in front of her. She didn't even know his real name, and she hadn't met anyone who did.

"Hello, Aleesha." Captain's voice was clear, deep, and smooth. "I'm so glad you could make it." He gestured towards a smaller, less comfortable chair on her side of the desk. The skin on his hand was an even caramel tan, like Aleesha's. "Please, sit."

Aleesha accepted his invitation, but not before finding a bottle of cream soda in Captain's mini fridge and popping it open. He knew how much she loved the drink from their very first meeting, and ever since, he'd had a bottle of the stuff waiting for her at every following meeting. Taking a sip, she answered, "You called, so I came."

Captain let out a satisfied chuckle. "Yes, you always do, Just as a faithful spy should." She watched for a few moments as he tapped out a rhythm on the arm of his chair. "You have a new mission."

Aleesha grinned from ear to ear and scooted to the edge of her seat. It'd been weeks since she'd been assigned a mission, so she'd been dying for some action. Taking another sip of soda, she asked, "What's my mission?"

At first, she didn't think he was going to answer. She'd once had a mission where he did not tell her what it was. She had been left to figure it out on her own. When she did - months later and after some serious trouble on her part - Captain had praised her and said that her actual mission was figuring out what would have been the mission had he told her in the first place. Aleesha thought that it might be something similar when he said, slowly, "I doubt you have heard of it before, as it is meant to be as secret as our own institution, but there is another organization of spies called the Secret Sleuth Society. Of course, as with ours, no one except its members and future members should even know of its very existence, but I have my ways of learning things." He paused, as if contemplating what to say next. "I have . . . issues, certain problems with the leader of this organization that have led me to the belief that they could best be solved with her death."

Here, Aleesha gasped. She had never been sent on a murder mission; Captain usually reserved those for the senior spies, those who had been working for him for twenty, even thirty years. What was he thinking by allowing her to take it over? She couldn't make it look like an accident, or a suicide, or cover it up altogether, as the others could. She might even get caught before she was able to do the deed! "But Captain -" she started to protest.

He held up a finger, the sign that whatever she had to say should not be said. "Now, Aleesha, I know you must be nervous, but I have faith in you, and I really don't want to get my hands dirty. I know you don't have that problem, do you?"

The truth was that she didn't. It was just that she didn't have the right amount of confidence, the confidence that she could actually pull it off. She tried to bring this to his attention, but again he put her protests down.

"Aleesha, you are the only one I trust with such a delicate mission. Anyway, the authorities would never know a thing, and I doubt they would care even if they did. The place is as well-hidden as ours. If you just hid the body somewhere, I doubt anyone would know until days later, and by then you'd be long gone and safely out of the way. Don't you see, Aleesha? It's okay to be a little messy with this - as long as you don't make too obvious a mistake, like leaving finger prints, but we know how to take care of that. I will warn you though, that she has been anticipating her assassination for quite some time. That's why I've set you up with a partner. His name is Aaron. For now, he'll simply act as your guide from checkpoint to checkpoint; you shouldn't need him for any more than that for quite some time. Trust him as you do me."

Finally, Aleesha decided that she had to give in. "All right. You win. Let's start with the basics. Where is SSS headquarters?"

Satisfied with her compliance, Captain pushed a button on the arm of his chair, and a hologram of the globe appeared. "It's close to the southern tip of the Rocky Mountain Range, somewhere in New Mexico." The hologram zoomed in on the mentioned state. "Like this building, their is tucked away and rather difficult to find." SSI headquarters was hidden in Tennessee, where the Appalachians finally started to fade away. "I myself don't know exactly where in the range it is hiding, but I know that it is in the general area. Alana Bark is the name of your prey. Like me, she likes to keep her identity a mystery, but she couldn't hide it from me."

Aleesha allowed the dramatic pause to extend a few moments before she said, "Sir, how do you expect me to get from here to New Mexico in a timely manner?" She was not planning on driving the one thousand and some miles from Tennessee to New Mexico. It would take nearly twenty-four hours without making any stops. That was not her specialty.

"Why, you'll fly, of course."

"What about all my equipment? Won't that all get taken at the security check?" Aleesha was still trying to think of every possible obstacle that could prevent her from taking on this mission, which was quite the opposite of what she normally did.

"Not when they are cleverly disguised as something else." Captain motioned to the right side of the desk. "Open the bottom drawer."

Aleesha did as she was told. "Okay. Now what?"

"What do you see?"

"Umm . . ." She looked inside. "A flash drive, a CD player, an iPod, a wristwatch, and several IDs with my picture on it." Aleesha was perplexed. Are these the things he was planning on sending with her to help? Well, he had said "cleverly disguised."

"Ah, now there, you are incorrect, Aleesha. These are all things that I was able to design myself. The flash drive is not a flash drive, but a pocket knife. The CD player is a pistol; don't worry, it unfolds. The iPod is actually a cartridge of tranquilizer gas. The wristwatch becomes magnetic at the push of a button, and with the push of another button, shoots a laser that can cut through most materials. If you look closely, you will notice that the IDs are all fake. These you will use at the different airports so that it will make you more difficult to track."

Aleesha was dumbfounded. They were all genius, of course, but she was almost certain that they would still be seen for what they were once she got to security check; however, she kept her arguments to herself. Captain had never steered her wrong before.

He stretched his arms over his head. "Well, you have your instructions and your supplies. You may go now."

Aleesha rose from her chair, downed the rest of the cream soda, and threw the bottle in the trash. As she opened the door, Captain called, "Aleesha?"

She turned to face the chair. "Yes?"

"To give you an idea of how important this is to me, you have exactly 72 hours in which to complete your task, starting tomorrow morning at 9:00. If you fail to do so within that allotted time, you will no longer work for me." He dismissed her again. "Contact me when you've done it. I'll be waiting."