The knife lodged into the chest of the human shaped target, a fake blood sachet leaking down the figure. The next knife was suddenly in my hand as some kind of reflex. I couldn’t help but smirk at the shot I’d made. Adrenalin ran through my bloodstream and I wanted more of that feeling than just this moment in time.
The way my family have been brought up has been both a blessing and a curse. I’m just the end of a long line of the Thomas family. Since 1900 our family had been recruited to keep the World safe, mainly consisting of a British-American alliance. No one knows who actually recruited us, but what we do know is we gave the British government an anomalous nudge to create MI5 and MI6 in the early 1900s.
My name is Amelia Thomas. Everyone calls me Amy. I’m not quite a fully-fledged member of the International Protection Service, IPS for short, but I’ve convinced them enough to let me start training to be as strong as my family. We have to hide ourselves from those who would want us to be extinct, so we have a cover story. Each of our buildings are known as Thomas Spy Bases, so we can give the cover we work for the TSB like the bank. It throws everyone off. I’m glad it does. If it didn’t, I’d have been moved round place to place every time our cover was discovered.
‘Amy, you gonna throw that knife or what?’ Edward, my cousin, dragged me from my thoughts.
I threw the knife sitting in my grip and it lodged in the crotch of the human shaped target I’d just stabbed in the chest on my American accented cousin.
‘Good enough for you?’ I wasn’t impressed with his tone.
I looked at Edward standing behind me and all I could tell was he was torn between being impressed and being annoyed. His dark brunette hair was almost quiffed over his head, bringing out his bright blue eyes boring into my mind. He was stocky and lanky at the same time, but I knew he wasn’t one to cross. He took three long strides until he stood next to me, towering over my five foot seven and a half inches.
‘Nice shot. Doubt Uncle Mark would approve, but I think he could be persuaded otherwise.’
‘Come on, Edward. I’m meant to graduate in a week and all anyone can say to me is I need more practice. I’ve been in the field, in the tech seat and ensuring weapons don’t go off in anyone’s pockets. Admit it. They all want me to fail.’
‘They don’t want that.’
‘Oh really? So how did you get landed with checking my training again? Oh, yeah, they don’t trust me to train on my own.’
‘Amy, you’re looking too much into this.’
‘Am I? Oh, sorry about that. Not like I’m trying to do the job I was asked to do or anything.’
‘You should talk to Uncle Mark if this is how you feel.’
‘You think my Dad would listen to me? I barely get Harriet to listen to me and she’s the one who needs less persuasion.’
‘Just give them time, Amy. I’m sure when it comes to the tests next week you’ll smash it.’
‘Can I not just smash targets instead?’
‘I could always see if I can get John to be a target when he gets back.’
‘He lets me win. Every time.’
‘I’m not John’s kiddo for nothing, you know.’
‘How about this, you take down two more targets and we’ll go and talk to Uncle Cameron and Uncle Dominic? They might have a plan of getting through to their brother.’
I unsheathed two knives and threw them in separate directions, piercing the blood sachets on their chests.
‘For today, yeah. Just beware Uncle Dominic might try and be the over-playful Uncle.’
‘You say that like you forgot I carry a Revolver.’
I took a deep breath and led my cousin out of the vast target range. We walked down various corridors until we found our way to the main room. The central controls looked like we’d ripped the central controls out of a TARDIS and flipped it inside out so the controls were on the inside of the circle with two opposite central entry points, a semi-circle of power on each side of it. The nearest wall also had a massive screen on it with five PCs plugged in underneath it, all with the headsets attached to microphones as if we ran a call centre. The walls were a mixture of sky blue and dark blue, mainly to appease the family away from Mark’s first idea of wee yellow wallpaper.
‘I don’t see them anywhere.’ I was confused.
‘They’ll have gone for a coffee break, most likely.’ Edward shrugged.
‘Great to see where their priorities lie.’
‘Why are you in such a mardy today?’
‘Why do you think, asshat?’
‘Thanks for that, Amy.’
Two pairs of feet walked towards us from the direction that I knew the kitchen was. Emerged from another of the corridors was our Uncles Cameron and Dominic, chuckling together with steaming mugs in their hands.
‘Finished having a laugh now?’ I wasn’t taking any faffing about.
‘Amy, you need to relax. We’ve got everything under control.’ Cameron pointed out.
I glared at Cameron, the family’s genetic dark brunette hair sticking up in slight natural spikes nodded with his blue eyes fixed on my eyes. He was taller and stockier than Edward, but he could still be a softy when he wanted to, mainly to stop me punching Uncle Ben in the face. Dominic cleared his throat and he got the same treatment from me. Dominic was just like Cameron except slightly stockier and he tried to shine his bright white smile in my face.
‘No matter how much you grin at me, Uncle Dominic, I’m not dropping it. Your American charm doesn’t work on me anymore.’ I nearly bit his head off.
‘Amy, that’s enough.’ Edward tried to rein me in.
I walked to the controls and pulled a lever up.
‘Controls at full capacity.’ The female voice of the controls chirped in.
‘Sure it is.’ I spun on one foot and walked round the back of one section of the controls.
I checked the wiring and made sure it as all connected. It seemed intact, but I knew with my family it wouldn’t last long.
‘Did you want us for something?’ Cameron knew.
‘Amy needs you to talk to Uncle Mark. He’s not convinced Amy’s ready for the full gig.’ Edward explained.
‘Amy?’ Cameron asked for my appearance.
I stood up and watched my Uncle carefully.
‘Mark thinks you’re not ready?’ Cameron checked.
‘Yeah. He’s not exactly happy I’m meant to graduate to full member next week.’ I shrugged.
‘You know what I think it is? I think this is because Mark can’t understand you’re growing up. He still sees you as that seven year old who nearly got killed when we let our guard down on that case.’ Cameron put his mug down.
‘The serial killer you had to take down?’ I was surprised it led to that.
‘Yeah. He thought he’d killed the bastard, but as you found out he was very much alive. He needs to get past that event and see you’re a very capable twenty year old.’ Dominic chipped in.
‘Dad’s worried I’m not ready because he thinks I’m a seven year old he thought was defenceless, who then kicked a serial killer in the crotch?’ I questioned the reason given to me.
‘Your Dad’s just trying to look after you, Amy.’ Cameron pointed out.
‘I’m an adult now, Uncle Cameron. I don’t need babysitting anymore. If John was here he could convince Dad of that, or even Matt and Jacob if they needed to.’ I countered.
‘Maybe you should just try not to think about it so much.’ Edward offered.
‘And let Dad think I’m some defenceless kid? No way. If you knew me at all, Cousin, you’d know I don’t let things like that lie.’ I stood my ground.
‘I give in with you sometimes, Amy. You’re stubborn and I don’t have the energy to keep fighting you.’ Edward said.
‘Yet you can scheme with my sister to try and get me snuck out the building under Dad’s nose so you can attempt to get a T-Total drinker drunk?’ I saw right through him.
‘How did you-?’ Edward was horrified.
‘I’m Amelia Thomas. I find out things I shouldn’t, remember?’ I smirked cheekily, just to wind Edward up.
‘Bitch.’ Edward snapped.
‘Jerk.’ I smiled back at him.
‘Are you ever not going to quote at me?’ Edward chuckled.
‘It’s your own fault you started it.’ I grinned.
Edward couldn’t help but laugh at how I back-chatted him so easily. I could see Dominic smirking at us as he took a sip at his concoction in his mug.
‘Hidden your brandy in there, Uncle Dominic?’ I knew.
‘Nope. It’s gin, actually.’ Dominic hiccupped.
‘How you can drink the stuff, I have no idea.’ Cameron shook his head.
‘Someone’s got to drink John under the table.’ Dominic chuckled.
‘He’ll love you for that.’ I laughed.
‘Of course. I need to keep my sister on her toes.’ A voice boomed from behind us.
I turned round and entering the main room was a guy just over six foot with light brown hair and sparkling eyes that fixed only on me. He put his holdall down and I just ran at him. He held onto me as tight as he dared, his arms under my arms wrapped round his shoulders. He gripped tighter round my body and spun me round in his grip.
‘Hey kiddo.’ He grinned at me.
‘Hey Johny.’ I couldn’t help but grin back at him.
John held me close to him again, both of us laughing.
‘I said I’d be back in time.’ John chuckled.
‘Didn’t doubt it for a second.’
‘Come on. Let’s go wind up our family.’
I led John over to Edward, Cameron and Dominic. The guys all shook hands, staying proper to the last.
‘We weren’t expecting you back for a few days. Did something happen?’ Edward asked.
‘Just that our makeshift base got blown. Falling Stars on our patch. We got rid of enough of them, but it definitely cost us time. We got out in time before we became smithereens.’ John informed us.
‘So where are Matt and Jacob?’ I was confused.
‘Putting away the weapons. Dad wants a report, so Matt’s dealing with that.’ John squeezed my shoulder.
‘Do you think I’m ready for graduation?’ I wanted his opinion.
‘Dad’s not on board, is he?’ John knew.
‘Not quite. He’s treating her like a seven year old.’ Edward explained.
‘It’s just Dad’s way of keeping you safe.’ John told me.
‘Don’t need it, John. I’m twenty turning twenty-one. I can manage.’ I nearly scowled at him.
‘You still have a lot to learn, Amy. It takes years at this.’ Dominic tried to convince me to back down.
‘Oh, sorry, but last I checked it was me who stopped the family becoming shish kebabs when the Falling Stars tried to blow up the last base. So maybe I know what the risks are and that we should let me do my job before we judge each other on their capabilities.’ I snapped.
I stormed upstairs to the first floor and straight to the room with my name on. I slammed the door behind me and I got straight onto my bed, curling up to figure out what my next move would be. My door slowly opened and Cameron walked in, sitting on the end of my bed.
‘Go away.’ I moaned.
‘You really think I’d leave my niece lie this?’ Cameron raised an eyebrow at me.
‘Why do you even care?’
‘Amy, I know this is difficult for you. You’ve had it worse than most of us.’
‘Can’t help my genetics, can I?’
‘What do you mean?’
‘My biggest hurdle? It’s this Asperger Syndrome I just happened to have! Harriet has it too but it seems to have barely affected her! I’m stuck in this battle with my Autism whilst the rest of you can just get on with your lives without any holdbacks. What if Dad’s right and I’m just a liability and I’m never going to be a full member of the IPS?’
‘Amy, look at me.’
I slowly sat up from lying down on my bed and looked him in the eye.
‘You are not a liability. You are our strongest member and Mark just needs to see that. You started your ascension through the roles in this family since you were seven years old. You have found patterns none of us would have seen and you have hacked into so many databases to save people’s lives I’ve actually lost count. Don’t doubt yourself after all you’ve achieved. Just trust yourself and it’ll come to you. It always does, Amy. You’re a natural at this. Don’t let them win. We need our youngest member on their A-game. You with me on that?’
‘What can I do?’
‘How about tomorrow I train you? You might not want to throttle Edward quite so much after that. I might rope John in to help, since he’s back.’
‘Thanks, Uncle Cameron.’
‘It’s what I’m here for.’
I held Cameron close, both of us laughing how much we connected after a few years apart on Mark’s orders.
‘What are we gonna do with you, eh?’
‘Help me talk to Dad?’
‘I’ll do my best. I dunno he’ll listen very much, I’m afraid. You know what he’s like.’
’He’s not that bad. He’s just protective. You are the youngest member of the family.’
‘Means I’m just as lethal as the rest of you.’
‘I know. He doesn’t, so you need to show him how lethal you really are.’
‘Does that mean I can throw knives at my Dad?’
‘Shame. He would have made great target practice.’
Cameron couldn’t help but chuckle at my humour. He knew I was feeling better, but we were a long way away from being back to normal and miles away from being a stronger family with no chinks in the armour of our family.
‘You ready to go back downstairs? I think Matt and Jacob have returned to annoy Dominic some more.’
‘That’s my job, isn’t it?’
‘Precisely. You ready?’
Cameron held a hand out to me and I took it, letting him lead me back downstairs. I walked a couple of paces behind him, mainly because my legs weren’t as long as his so I struggled to keep up at his pace. We got down the stairs and I got clocked by Harriet’s twin Matt and my second eldest brother Jacob.
‘Still in one piece, I see.’ Matt joked.
Matt was just like John, but much bulkier. All the men of the family seemed to be of a stocky build, which Jacob was a part of too. They were all built to rugby tackle anyone if they needed to. Both Matt and Jacob had the dark brunette genetic hair most of us had. I was released by Cameron, but I just stared at Matt, still seeing a small blood patch on his T-shirt.
‘Are you still mad at me?’ Matt saw right through me.
‘That obvious?’ I knew my anger was starting to rocket.
‘Amy, tone it down a notch.’ John was on red alert.
‘You gonna apologise for what you did, brother?’ I wasn’t giving in this time round.
‘I have nothing to apologise for.’ Matt snarled.
‘Amy, don’t even think about it.’ John briskly walked to my side, stopping me from moving any further.
‘And I thought you couldn’t get any worse. You know, you should speak to Owen on how to appreciate the help I give on your missions especially when you couldn’t even change a fuse without help!’ I hissed.
Matt flew over the handle. Matt charged at me and I got round John’s grip. Matt made the first swing, but I caught his arm and pinned him to a nearby table, locking him in an almost police hold as if I was going to cuff him for resisting arrest.
’Maybe Matt you should remember which sister of yours you’re challenging. I’m just as capable as you, so back off and only come find me when you can get over your pride to coke out the words I’m sorry.’ I snapped in Matt’s ear.
I released Matt and shoved him towards Dominic and Jacob, watching us both carefully. I turned my back on them and started to head towards the corridor I knew took me towards the training quarters. I stopped in the doorway and felt queasy all of a sudden. My heartbeat started to race. Pain rippled through me almost at the intensity of being crushed in a car. I started to fall to my knees as John caught me, guiding me carefully to the floor. The pain intensified and a scream ripped its way through my lips, piercing any silence there had been in the entire building. I could hear John’s muffled voice calling out to me, but I couldn’t hear anything else. The scream was long and sharp, my vision starting to blur together into a mess of colours before everything went black.
I found myself dressed in white in a white space with no visible walls or any kind of exit. No matter where I rested my eyes it was totally white. The only thing in the space with me was a chair and a dressing table. I sat on the chair, trying to gather myself. I looked in the mirror and could see my reflection looking back at me. My medium build was heading in the slightly stocky build the men of the family had, even giving me slightly broader shoulders than the girls in the family. My dark brunette hair was tied in a ponytail behind my head, swishing behind me everytime I moved my head. My green eyes were sharp with colour staring back at me. I just wanted to know what was going on. I got up after I heard footsteps in the space.
‘Hello Amy.’ A female voice called to me from behind.
I turned to find a girl in her late teens watching me. I recognised her immediately. Her light brown hair finished at her shoulders, flowing in the white light that seemed to surround her. Her blue eyes fixed on mine and neither of us could speak for a few seconds.
‘Laura.’ I found myself saying her name.
‘Well, Laura-Mei Thomas actually.’ Laura shrugged.
‘What’s going on?’
‘I thought you would know that by now. This is a vision.’
‘I’d got that far. I’ve had these for too long. You’ve been gone from mine since I was fifteen. Where did you go?’
‘Home. Amy, I’m from the future. Your future.’
‘Great. Just what I wanted.’
‘Don’t be so cynical.’
‘Have you met my brothers?’
‘That’s another thing you need to find out.’
‘Something’s wrong isn’t it?’
‘Yeah. You’re my last resort. I’m sorry I have to do this to you, Amy.’
‘You need to talk to Ashleigh.’
‘What’s my Mum done now?’
‘You’ll have to ask her what she did in 1995.’
‘What’s that supposed to mean?’
‘You’ll find out when you ask her. She keeps it in her notebook of what she did. You have to find the truth and use it to fight back like hell.’
‘You’re not making any sense.’
‘I will, when the time is right. Things will go downhill on the day you get made a full member of the IPS, Amy. Everything rests with you. Your challenges will be difficult and you have to learn that sacrifices have to be made. I wish you luck, Amy. You will need it for all you will be facing. You must be strong and use your family connections to their strongest points. Your family is depending on you.’
’You sound like you’re quoting a James Bond movie.’
‘Might be. Who knows?’
‘Can’t you say and explain everything?’
‘Afraid not. My family needs me. You’ll find out all about that soon enough. Just watch yourself and let John help you with that anger of yours. Oh, punch Matt in the face for me, would you?’
‘What’s he done now?’
‘Nearly got me drowned and killed by atomic bananas in a matter of two hours on my last case.’
‘You can tell our family’s gotten a bit mad when that actually makes sense.’
I reached a hand out to Laura, hoping she would take it.
‘Come with me.’
‘I can’t. The family in your timeline need you there. You’ll see me again. I’ll make sure of that.’
Laura touched my forehead and I was blinded by white light.
I woke with a start on the floor of the main room, John by my side. I stood up and saw Matt was nearby. I took a step towards him and I punched Matt in the face, knocking him to the floor. He looked up at me, holding his nose that was slowly dripping blood.
‘What was that for?’ Matt was annoyed.
‘That’s from Laura-Mei Thomas, jackass.’ I snapped.
‘Laura, like from your visions when you were a kid?’ Jacob was confused.
‘We’ve got a situation. I need to talk to Mum.’ I watched my family watch me carefully.
I then ran from the room straight down the opposite corridor and didn’t stop until I reached Ashleigh’s lab. I opened the door and found she was nowhere to be seen. I walked down to the tables she had set up for tests and located her black book, pointing out to me that was the book that held her secrets. I checked the book and came across the entry I wanted. It was marked by the year as 1995. I checked what it said and all I could get from it was she had merged DNA for an egg to form a child in the womb. I checked the coding she used in the book and all I found was the usage of our initials for each member when we use the radio. I could figure out the female in the joining was Harriet, but I couldn’t figure out the writing for the male. I then saw what the markings were for what the test achieved. I saw the marks for the result were dated 5th June 1996 and had the initials AT2. It then hit me. AT2 was me.
‘What are you doing in here?’ Ashleigh’s voice was full of rage.
I turned to see Ashleigh entering her lab. Her nearly jet black hair curled to about her shoulder blades, her eyes a deep brown scowling their way through my brain. She was built a little less than me, but I knew she was close enough to put up a fight. I knew I was going to be in trouble, but I had to stand my ground.
‘I’m uncovering the truth.’ I was ready to reveal all.
‘What truth would that be?’
I showed her the page in her book I’d found.
‘Harriet’s not my sister, is she?’
‘You think she’s not your sister?’
‘Don’t lie to me! I know she’s not from this book! You took her DNA and messed with it to combine with either Matt’s, Owen’s, Jacob’s or John’s DNA and your result was me! How long did you think you could hide this from me?!’
‘Look in a mirror. Oh wait, I forgot, you broke the last one you did that to.’
Ashleigh slapped me round the face. I felt my body twist and before I knew it I’d swung back around and punched her in the jaw, knocking her to the ground.
‘You have twenty-four hours to tell Dad, or I will.’
I walked away from her and through the labyrinth of corridors until I reached the target range. I typed in the code for the door and stepped inside, locking the door behind me. The room looked more like a tunnel than anything else. I scanned the space to find on the far left were the tables covered with ammunition to then find the far right tables covered with actual weapons, including a bow, knives and a couple of swords. I walked right to the table on the far right and picked up a sword. It had a purple thread encased into its grip. I checked the weight of the blade and it felt like it had been made for me, the balance of it fitting what I needed it for. Heart drumming, I walked to the wooden dummy with sections of wood sticking out. Bracing myself, I started to attack the dummy with the sword. I attempted to speed up the attack, knocking the wooden sections out the way with the sword, chipping sections out as I worked. I didn’t want to give in and I knew I had to prove to Mark I was ready, not matter what he believed on keeping me safe from it all.
‘Amy, can you open the door?’ Mark didn’t sound too impressed.
I ducked as one of the wooden sections tried to clobber me as I stepped back from the dummy. I took a deep breath and headed for the door. I carefully unlocked it and let him in. Mark stormed in and turned to face me, anger almost burned onto his face. His genetic dark brunette hair was slightly tousled with small spikes too. His brown eyes were trying to hide the warmth he had for me, but his posture was tense and trying to retain his anger. He wasn’t quite as stocky as the rest of the family, but he made up for it in other ways.
‘You punched your mother!’ Mark’s Scottish accent bled through his words as he attempted to tell me off.
‘Dad, I didn’t want to have to tell you this, not when you’re this angry.’ I shut the door and put the sword on the floor by the door.
‘What are you talking about?’
‘Mum took your DNA for tests, right? She said it was in case you got injured and she needed to repair you? Dad, she used Harriet’s DNA with Matt’s, Owen’s, Jacob’s or John’s in an experiment to create a child.’
‘Who was the child?’
‘I’m the child.’ I could see the colour drain out of Mark’s cheeks as the truth finally set in.