There is a crazy man after me. Not just your normal crazy man, either. Not some simple ordinary type of crazy, like a celebrity stalker or someone who gets messages from outer space. This is a guy who thinks that he can rule the world. We're talking Adolf Hitlertype looniness here.
Many years ago this guy accidentally discovered an ancient temple in a Middle Eastern desert that was once dedicated to a Roman god named Mithras. When he discovered the temple, either he unleashed some kind of supernatural force that made him nutso or his obsession with what he found caused him to check himself into the Crazy Hotel.
Oh, and did I also mention that he thinks I'm the living reincarnation of the Goddess Etherea? I told you: wacko. Anyway, whatever he thinks or however he came to think it, the main thing is he wants me dead. Somehow he's got the idea that I'm the only thing standing between him and world domination.
His name is Simon Blankenship. For many years he was a member of an elite, clandestine group of U.S. secret agents called the Blackthorn Squad, along with my headmaster and teacher, Jonathon Kim. Mr. Kim was with Blankenship when he discovered the temple, but whatever happened in there didn't make him crazy. I know this because Mr. Kim is probably the most centered and noncrazy person I know.
Mr. Kim is the headmaster at Blackthorn Academy, the boarding school in Pennsylvania that I attend. Well, "attend" is not exactly the right word. Saying you "attend" a school would imply that you had a choice in whether or not to go there, whereas I really didn't. See, I was in a little trouble with the law and this judge said I could either go to the school or go to Juvenile Detention. Since I figured that a young girl from a wealthy Beverly Hills family wouldn't do so well in Juvie, I chose the school. Yep. I fought the law and the law won. I've been here for just about two months now and it's been "interesting," to say the least.
I've had to work every other day in the school's kitchen, attend a full load of very difficult, really weird classes, and start to learn Tae Kwon Do. And for the most part I've been denied my beloved Internet access. Also, I discovered that the school secretly sits on top of one of the most sophisticated crime labs and secret-agent hangouts in the world. That's because Mr. Kim, the former secret agent, established the school to train students to become members of a worldwide network devoted to stopping Blankenship and his Mithrians. Some of the upperclassmen here at Blackthorn, the ones who belong to the "Top Floor" section, go on missions with agents to help with surveillance or sting operations. That's way cool. Mr. Kim won't let me into Top Floor yet, but I'm wearing him down.
Along with some of the other students here I also helped Mr. Kim recover a very rare, ancient book that Blankenship had tried to steal. Of course, it turned out that Mr. Kim had actually switched the books ahead of time, so Blankenship ended up with a fake. Only, Blankenship doesn't know it's fake. He thinks it's real. Which is a good thing for us.
That was when Blankenship, who now calls himself Mithras, swore that he would seek his revenge on me. Like I said, he thinks that I am the reincarnation of the goddess Etherea, who, according to legend, was sent by the gods to banish Mithras to the underworld.
Did I mention he was crazy?
"No, Rachel, you must cock your hip first, then sweep your arm like this and throw the attacker across your leg, like this," said Mr. Kim. He grabbed the front of my do bak and sent me sprawling to the mat. I felt the air whoosh out of my lungs. Again.
From where he was watching, Alex Scott let out a chuckle. Alex is a second-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and while he's pretty strong and brave and stuff, he's really kind of a pain in my backside. He's always laughing at me, because for the most part, I'm a total klutz. I gave him my best stink-eye as I struggled back to my feet.
Brent Christian, who was almost a black belt, stood next to Alex. Brent was different. He was quiet, soft-spoken, and gentle, and he never laughed at me when I exhibited my less-than-graceful nature. Also, it didn't hurt that he has this kind of young Colin Farrell look going, either.
It was 7 A.M. and I was in the school's do jang, taking another private Tae Kwon Do lesson from Mr. Kim. Do jang is a Korean word that means "the place of the way." It's a training room where students practice. Since all the fuss with Blankenship, Mr. Kim had decided that we needed to accelerate my martial arts training. So I met him at 6:30 every morning in the do jang, where he drilled me relentlessly on the patterns and taught me self-defense moves. Alex and Brent came along most mornings to help out.
There were two problems with this as far as I was concerned. The first was that I am not a morning person. It was bad enough that everyone at Blackthorn is an early-riser, go-getter type. I mean, they serve breakfast at eight o'clock for crying out loud. I can't possibly form a coherent thought before 10 A.M. The second problem was that since Mr. Kim had started these "extra training sessions," most of the "extra training" involved me landing on my keister. Because Mr. Kim, in addition to being a superspy and the headmaster, is one of the very best martial artists in the world. He is a Ninth Dan in Tae Kwon Do, an Aikido master, and not only that, he is a personal friend of Jackie Chan. Needless to say, I was a little overmatched. But Mr. Kim felt it was important that I learn as much as I could, as fast as I could.
Excerpted from Spy Goddess, Book Two: To Hawaii, with Love by Michael Spradlin Copyright © 2006 by Michael Spradlin. Excerpted by permission.
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