CHERUB: Of A Girl
A tale of a girl, and how she came to join CHERUB
Knock. Knock. Knock.
Lauren woke up with a start. She quickly glanced over at the glowing red display of the alarm clock beside her bed.
Lauren groaned. She could only think of one person to be up at this time, and to be banging on her door.
"Rat, you idiot!" she yelled.
"Can you just let me in? Please..."
"It's not locked" she said as Rat pushed the door open and walked in. Lauren noticed he wasn't wearing CHERUB uniform, and she could see his bags outside the door. Then realisation hit her.
"Not you as well!"
"Only for a few weeks. A short mission in France." He said slowly.
"Great. Now I really feel like a lemon, I'm the only one stuck on campus while the rest of you are out on missions having fun."
"I only found out about this last night. Chloe Blake production, very last minute. Sorry." He said, jumping onto her couch.
Lauren threw a pillow at him.
"What was that for?" he exclaimed indignantly.
"For going of on a mission and leaving me here!" she said, trying to look hurt, but ruining it by laughing.
"I tried to get you on it as well, but it was a no-go. Anyway, I'll only be gone a couple of weeks."
"Whatever" Lauren muttered.
"Cheer up! Your brother isn't here, but Bruce is!"
"Yes, and Bruce and I are the best of friends…" Lauren replied sarcastically.
"Especially after he's kicked your sorry butt in sparring" Rat replied, laughing.
"Very funny, Greg Rathbone." Lauren said, with mock seriousness, the use of his full name making him cringe.
"Anyway, just think, you're already a black shirt. I'm only a grey shirt, and I need mission experience if I'm going to catch up with you." Rat said.
"But still, you get to go away. I'm stuck on campus alone. It wouldn't be so bad if you and Bethany were with me" she moaned.
"Well, go and ask Meryl. Maybe you're being held back for a big mission or something."
"Maybe. I should go and complain to Meryl, and ask for a mission, even if it is some boring security test."
"Yeah, but don't worry. I'll only be gone a few weeks, you won't even notice I'm gone."
"Yeah right. It's okay when just Bethany or someone is gone, but it'll be weird without you. Plus, I'll miss you."
"I'll miss you too…"
"And Rat, if I even hear rumours of you cheating on me with some French girl, there will be trouble. I don't want you becoming like my brother." Lauren said, as Rat burst out laughing.
"I'll tell him you said that!" Rat replied, still laughing.
"I don't care…" Lauren said, but was cut of by the Crazy Frog ringtone of Rat's phone.
"That's your tasteless ringtone" she sniggered, as Rat fumbled in his pockets for the phone.
"'ello" he said, flipping it open.
"Where are you Rat?" asked the voice of Chloe Blake, his mission controller.
"I… um…" he started, but couldn't finish before he was cut off
"Let me see… you're up to something with your girlfriend?"
"Very funny Chloe"
"Anyway, Dana and I are waiting for you at reception. Get down here fast, or you'll be sorry!"
"Okay, see you soon." He hung up.
"That was Chloe ringing to tell me I'm leaving now." He said.
"Oh…" Lauren said. "Gimme a minute to get changed, I'll walk down with you." She quickly got out of bed and grabbed a CHERUB shirt and pants from the pressed pile in her wardrobe, before ducking into her bathroom to get changed.
"All done" she said a few minutes later as she stepped out in combat trousers and her black CHERUB t-shirt.
They grabbed Rat's bags and walked down the deserted corridor, all the other CHERUB's were sleeping. It took a while like always for the lift to come, and they went down without talking. When they reached the reception, they saw Dana and Chloe standing there, Chloe double checking paperwork, and Dana listening to her iPod while fiddling with her bag.
"Finally" Chloe said, seeing Rat arrive. Dana looked up and stared at him for a few minutes, before staring at Lauren.
"I guess this is goodbye then…" Lauren began, turning to face him.
"Do I get a farewell kiss?" a hopeful sounding Rat asked.
"No, I wasn't joking…" Rat said, sounding hurt, and doing the puppy eyes at Lauren. She shook her head, and pointed at Dana and Chloe. Lauren wanted their relationship to be a secret. Rat stepped closer, and spoke quietly. "I know you want us to be kept secret, but I don't know why…"
Lauren stepped forward, and quickly kissed Rat.
"Goodbye" she said, wrapping her arms around him.
"I'll only be gone a few weeks, a month at the most…"
"You two finished yet?" Chloe cut in. "We have to leave now."
Lauren and Rat broke apart.
"I'll call you tonight" Rat called out as they left the building.
"I love you!" Lauren said at the last minute without thinking. Then it hit her, she had said she loved Rat when other people could hear, and it didn't kill her.
Lauren decided there was no point in going back to her room, so she went straight to the dinning room. At this time, it was still too early for most cherubs to be awake, yet alone eating breakfast, so there were only a few staff eating. As Lauren filled her bowl up with cornflakes, she looked around for Meryl, and saw her walking in the double doors of the dinning room.
Lauren scurried over to her. "Hey Meryl! You look good today!"
Meryl grinned. "What do you want Lauren? You're starting to sound like your brother!"
At this, Lauren burst out laughing. "Well, are there any missions lined up for me?"
Meryl smiled. "How did I know that was what you would be wanting?"
"Well, are there?" she pestered.
"I think there is something for you…" Meryl began as Lauren looked hopeful and held her breath. "…but it won't be starting until 3 or 4 months." Meryl said, and sensed the disappointment on Laurens face. "Why did you ask?"
"It's just that all my friends are out on missions at the moment, even James. And I'm stuck on campus, feeling like a lemon."
"I know what its like" Meryl sympathised, while Lauren inwardly snorted.
"Please Meryl" Lauren begged. "Can I please go of campus for a few days, even if it is just for some small routine security test…"
"Hmmm" Meryl thought. "I'll see what I can do, seeing as your schoolwork is all up to date. But I can't make any promises…" Meryl stopped. "Unless… We're always short of new cherubs, and it's hard to get people to go on recruitment missions. We normally have to give them out as punishments…"
"When can I go?"
Meryl looked startled. "You're keen. Eat your breakfast and go to the mission preparation building at 8:30 instead of lessons. I'll tell your teacher where you are."
Lauren smiled. "Thanks Meryl"
"All the best" she replied.
At 8:30 Lauren was waiting on the chairs just inside the doors of the mission preparation building, in her best CHERUB uniform to give a good first impression to her mission controller. All the big mission controllers like Ewart Asker and John Jones were away on big missions.
"Hi, you must be Lauren!" said a relatively tall woman with red hair cut in a bob, from behind Lauren. She nodded, and held out her hand. "Well, I'm Courtney Millis, and I'm your mission controller. I don't believe we've had the pleasure before." Lauren shook her head as they walked down the corridor.
"Anyway, I've heard great things about you from Zara and Meryl. Thanks for volunteering."
"No problem." Lauren replied as she walked into Courtney's office. It was like all the others in the building Lauren had been into, except just a bit smaller, and ridiculously neat. Lauren sat down as Courtney walked behind the desk.
"Okay, so have you ever been on a recruitment mission before?" she asked. Lauren shook her head, so ourtney continued. "Well, basically we give you a false surname and background and you move into local care for about 2-3 weeks, evaluating the other children, trying to find potential new recruits. Normally these missions are pretty easy and straight forward. Since I wasn't sure if it was your first, I prepared a briefing anyway."
Lauren grabbed the file off the desk and opened it.
MISSION BRIEFING FOR LAUREN ADAMS
DO NOT REMOVE FROM MISSION PREPARATION BUILDING
ANY ATTEMPT TO DO SO WILL SET OFF AN ALARM
DO NOT COPY OR MAKE NOTES
WEST HILL CHILDREN'S HOME, MANCHESTER
The West Hill Children's Home was built in 1991 to help cope with the rising numbers of homeless children throughout the region. It has facilities for up to 120 children, but numbers seldom reach half that. Due to a lack of funding, the building is in need of renovations and severely understaffed. Most orphans would prefer to go to any other homes in the region, which are better funded, so most only end up at West Hill if no other home will take them.
THE CHERUB MISSION
A CHERUB agent, going under the name of Lauren Forrester, will move into the home for 2-3 to search for and evaluate potential CHERUB recruits. She will claim to be moving back into a care home after things didn't work out with her foster parents. Potential recruits must be intelligent, fit, and have a thirst for excitement. Identical twins and people with foreign language skills are favoured. Once an agent has found a potential recruit, they must contact their mission controller and arrange for the potential recruit to be taken back to CHERUB for testing. If they are suitable and would like to join CHERUB, they will be sent back to the care home to gather there belongings before quietly disappearing with the CHERUB agent.
THIS MISSION HAS BEEN PASSED BY THE CHERUB ETHICS COMMITTEE ON THE CONDITION ALL AGENTS UNDERSTAND THE FOLLOWING:
This mission has been classified VERY LOW RISK. All agents are reminded that they have the right to pull out of a mission at any stage.
Lauren put down the briefing. "When do I leave?" she asked.
"Tomorrow morning. I've given you the rest of the day off lessons so you can pack your stuff and say your goodbyes." Courtney said.