The members of Forum Team burst into the Command Center.
It was a giant room, set up like a war room. Rows of monitors and computers curled around the room. People of a variety of ages sat in the rows, eyes intent on their work. A giant monitor displaying a map of the world covered the back wall. The map had tons of information on it, including active missions, rising threats, and even watchlists.
Terry took all this in at a glance as he strode in with the rest of Forum Team. Ben led them up to the center of the room, his helmet tucked under his arm.
“Forum Team, reporting for duty,” he said.
“Not a minute late,” Mr. Garrett responded. He was a small, thin man, with a pinched but kind face. As Ben had explained it, Mr. Garrett was in charge of deciding which team went on what mission, which missions were sent out, and “basically made sure no one got killed.”
“Let’s get down to business,” the man said, “your mission is extremely simple.”
A holographic display, much like Vesta’s, flickered into being. This display showed a single skyscraper.
“You will enter the building any way you see fit, find the objective, retrieve any data you can, and exit. There should be little resistance. It is an office building.”
Terry raised a hand.
“Yes?” Mr. Garrett asked.
“Which company owns this building?” He asked.
“The Noman Corporation,” Mr. Garrett responded dismissively. “Any other questions?”
Ben raised a hand. Mr. Garrett nodded to him.
“Permission to take a personal vehicle?” the young genius asked.
“Granted,” he said shortly, “now go. Additional information will be transferred to you momentarily.”
Ben saluted and turned quickly, striding from the room. Gwen and Terry quickly followed, with Kimmy shortly behind.
“We have a personal vehicle?” Kimmy asked.
“What is it?”
The personal vehicle, it turned out, was a jet. Not like a giant, passenger jet; much smaller, about the size of a large truck. It had a rounded-off shape, and rested on legs instead of wheels. There were thrusters on the back and one on each wing that looked like they could move during flight.
“Woaaaah . . .” Kimmy said.
“How’d you get this?” Terry asked, staring at the ship in wonder.
“Built it,” Ben said. “Took a lot of time and a couple extra hands, but damn, was it worth it. The school vehicles are crap compared to this beautiful work of engineering.”
The back of the vehicle swung open to reveal a cargo bay. On the left side was an alcove that seemed to have a padded bottom. Above that were two drawers; one labeled “Weapons,” the other “Med Supplies.” On the right were three comfortable-looking seats. Each had a harness, like a roller coaster. Beyond this was the cockpit. Two captain’s chairs sat side by side, an array of buttons and switches and displays before them.
Ben led them into the ship. He strode immediately to the cockpit and sat down. Gwen followed him, taking the other chair.
Terry and Kimmy looked at each other, as if to ask: What should we do?
“You’re gonna want to sit down!” Ben called, already at work on the controls.
The door slide shut behind them. Kimmy and Terry quickly scrambled into chairs, buckling themselves hurriedly. The ship began to hum with energy.
“Preparing to launch, sir,” Vesta chirped. One of the many doodads in the cockpit seemed to be a hologram projector, as Vesta’s head floated between Ben and Gwen.
“Roger, ready to move out,” Ben replied with a grin.
“Launching,” Vesta said.
The entire ship bucked and then shot into the air. In an instant, they reached cruising altitude and revved up to full speed.
And just like that, they were on route to their first mission.