Authors: Franklin W. Dixon
Lexi's father was also her fencing coach, and he was notoriously protective of herâlike a stage mom with a sword.
“You're going to love it!” I told Lexi. “It's a really fun city.”
“I don't know how much of it I'll get to see,” she replied. “I mean, there are the Olympics to think about.”
“Olympics, Schmo-lympics,” said Bess. “Think about the fashion! You've got to hit Rodeo while you're out there. I'll give you a list of stores to check out.” She laughed.
“I don't know, Bess. If what the Internet says is true, Lexi is going to be a little too busy with a certain swimmer to go anywhere.” George waved her phone around, showing a picture of Lexi and Scott Trevor with their arms around each other. Lexi blushed.
Scott was the darling of this year's Olympics, a multi-gold-medal swimmer with the body that went along with being in a pool for six hours a day. His face was on everything, from cereal boxes to swimwear. I'd even heard a rumor that he was going to be hosting
Saturday Night Live
He was also Lexi's boyfriend, a secret they'd been trying to keep for almost a year.
“I'm excited to get to see him! We've both been training so hard, it's been almost impossible. This is a big year for himâhe's set to break the record for the most individual gold medals held by any athlete in the world!”
Lexi's face suddenly darkened. The smile faltered on her lips. George and Bess were cooing over photos of Lexi and Scott on George's phone, but I couldn't help noticing that something seemed to be wrong. Call it my detective senseâI smelled a mystery.
“Is something wrong, Lex?”
“What? No. No, it'sâit's nothing, really.”
The tone in her voice caught Bess's and George's attention. Bess threw her arm around Lexi.
“Spill it girl,” she said. “Boy problems? Talk to me.”
“Oh no! Everything is fine with me and Scott. I'm just worried about him. There's been someâ¦ stuff happening recently.”
“Stuff?” I said. Something about her voice made me worried.
“Is this about the threats?” George broke in.
“Yesâhow did you know?”
George waved her phone again. “The Internet knows everything.”
“The Internet might, but I'm in the dark,” I said. “What's going on?”
Lexi sighed and looked down.
“It started a few months ago. I mean, star athletes get a lot of fan mail in general, and some of it's always the crazy stalker type or threats or whatever. You just learn to live with it. But Scott started getting really intense, crazy hate mail as the Olympics got closer and closer. He just laughed it off and tried to focus on the swimming, butâ¦”
“But what?” I asked.
“Last month, someone stole his laptop and put all his information onlineâcell phone number, e-mail address, credit cards, everything. He had to quit the gym he used, move, get a new number. It was a mess. And the letters started saying there was worse to come if he didn't drop out of the Olympics now.”
“Has he gone to the police?” I asked. This was serious stuff. He needed some protection.
“Yeah, they're looking into it, but they haven't found many leads. The Olympics assured him there would be good security, though, and he lives in LA anyway, so he won't have to travel or anything.”
Lexi grew quiet, but she didn't make a move to leave the gym. Something else was clearly on her mind.
“Lexi,” I said. “You've been getting threats, too, haven't you?”
“How did you know?!” She shot a look at George's phone. George shook her head.
“That's Nancy for you. She knows more than the Internetâespecially when it comes to mysteries. So what's the deal?”
“I didn't want to mention anything. My dadâhe's so protective, you know? But I've started getting e-mails that say if Scott doesn't quit, I'm the one who's going to get hurt.”
“Lexi! You have to tell someone.” Crazed fans had been known to hurt stars, even to kill them. Lexi was putting herself in terrible danger by not reporting these threats, even though it was likely they would never amount to anything.
Lexi bit her lip for a moment. A host of expressions struggled to cross her face. Finally, she forced herself to smile.
“Oh, I'm sure it's fine. Just nerves. This stuff happens all the time.”
She tried to laugh, but it came out hollow.
“Lexi, I thinkâ” I started to say something, but she cut me off.
“Listen, don't mention this to anyone, okay? I've got to go shower. My dad will be here any minute to pick me up.”
With that, Lexi ran out of the gym. I stared at her retreating back. A thought started to form in my head.
“I know that look,” said George. “What are you thinking, Nance?”
“Nothing,” I said. “But you knowâ¦ I've never seen the Olympics. And it's in the country this year. It would be a shame to miss it.”
Bess looked at George, a smile spreading across her face.
“Rodeo, here I come!”
They gave each other a high five.
“Well, if you think about it, Dad, it's important that I go to the Olympics. I mean, who knows when they're going to be in the country again, right? And as a civic-minded citizen, I think it's important to support any event that promotes global collaboration!”
Carson Drew was a big-time lawyer, and a firm believer in taking part in important events. He was also my dad. Right now, those two parts of him were battling it out over whether I should be allowed to go to the Olympics. I'd cornered him after dinnerâhe washed the dishes; I dried them.
“A week on your own in LA Nancy? I don't know.”
“I won't be on my ownâBess and George are going to come too. Plus, Lexi will be there. You always say how important it is that I support my classmates.”
I was pulling out all the stops on this one. Something told me that Lexi was going to need my helpâeven if she wasn't able to ask for it yet. Of course, I wasn't going to mention that to Dad.
“All right, all right!” Dad threw up his soapy hands. “You can go.”
“Thanks, Dad!” I gave him a big hug. I hated hiding anything from him, but this was important. I knew it.
“Just be careful with whatever case it is you're working on. I expect a full briefing
daily check-in calls, you hear?”
I laughed. Of course Dad wasn't fooled. But he was letting me go, and that was all that mattered!
“Frank! A little help here!”
I stepped to the side, trying to get into a more defensive position. I stumbled a little, though, as my foot encountered the edge of the narrow wooden bridge on which I was standing. I nearly went down to my knees. I could hear the guy behind me take a quick step forward, but he dropped back when I regained my balance. I noticed a strange buzzing noise, getting louder by the second, but I couldn't tell what it was coming from. The two guys in front of me were watching me closely, waiting for the right moment to charge. They were dressed like refugees from a bad eighties movieâbig frizzy hair, spiked leather jackets, and plastic framed sunglasses. What was with gangs and the terrible matching outfits?
Didn't they realize it just made them look silly?
All three were carrying very, very big sticks. Sticks with bits of metal shoved through themâsharp and rusty nails. Those made them look a little more serious.
“Frank! I haven't had a tetanus shot in years so you need to get over here right now!”
Where was Frank? And what the hell was that buzzing noise? The only thing that was keeping these three dudes from rushing me was the two of their friends who were already unconscious at my feetâTweetle Dumber and Tweetle Dumbest, who'd walked right up and let me knock their lights out. These ones, however, were being more careful, and it was only a matter of time before all three of these guys came at me at once. I was goodâwell, heck, I was greatâbut if the three of them attacked me at the same time, I'd give them fifty-fifty odds they could take me.
The two in front of me had noticed the noise as well. It was now incredibly loud. They glanced behind them, and I got ready to charge them. It was my best chance. I was just about to start running when a motorcycle came flying over the hill, straight for the bridge. The two guys scattered to the sides. I heard two loud splashes as they landed in the river below.
“Jump on!” yelled Frank. Frank slowed the bike just enough to let me leap onto the back. As my arms wrapped around him, he revved the engine again. He
popped up on one wheel and drove straight for the guy who had been creeping up behind me on the bridge. The thug stood his ground for a second, but when it became clear that Frank was fine with running him over, he followed his friends into the river.
“See ya, suckers!” I yelled as we zoomed out of sight.
For a few minutes, Frank drove in silence, trying to get us as far from the gang's stomping grounds as possible. Then he started to slow down.
“Keep going!” I yelled. “Once they get on their bikes, they'll catch up to us in no time.”
“Don't worry,” said Frank. “I removed all the starters before I took this one. They're not going anywhere.”
“I'm glad you weren't out wasting time while I was fighting the baddies,” I said.
“Speaking of whichâwhere are the plans?”
The bike skidded to a stop so fast we nearly flipped over.
“JOE! The plans we were supposed to get from these guysâthe ones they stole? Our whole mission?”
Frank sounded kind of peeved. I let him twist in the wind for a second.
“Just kidding big bro. Got 'em right here.” I patted the bulge in my pocket. “Now, let's get out of here. I have hair spray all over my hands from fighting those dudes.”
For a second, I thought Frank was going to make me walk back to ATAC headquarters.
With everything wrapped up for ATAC, the only thing left on my weekend plan was to play ZOMG Kill 3, my favorite video game. I'd already won it twice, but until ZOMG Kill 4 came out for at-home play, it was the best game out there. My hands still felt vaguely sticky, even though I'd showered. We were in Frank's room, since that's where the game player was. Frank was lying on the floor, studyingâ¦ something. What else was new? I heard the doorbell ring downstairs, but over the opening music of ZOMG 3, I barely noticed it.
“Boys!” yelled Aunt T. “You shouldn't have ordered pizza! Dinner is going to be ready soon.”
“Pizza?” I said to Frank.
“Did youâ¦ ?”
I shook my head no. This could mean only one thing.
A moment later, a familiar face loomed in our doorway.
“Hey, Frank. Hey, Joe. Anybody order one mission with extra danger?”
It was Vijay! Vijay Patel was a fellow ATAC agent, who specialized in intelligence and undercover operations. He'd been our contact for new missions before. He was also a big video game geek, so I loved getting to work with him. He always had the latest handheld
games to play while we were on stakeouts.
He flipped open the lid of the pizza box he was holding.
“This will give you guys all the details on the case. I've got to get back to headquarters.”
Inside the box was a familiar looking disc. I was pretty sure that was ZOMG Kill 4! Some of our missions came disguised as video games. After we watched the briefing, they worked just like the real thing! This was awesome. Vijay must have arranged it.
There was also, however, a pizza with mushrooms and anchovies. Gross!
“Can you take that back with you?” I asked him, pointing at the pizza.
“And give us a hint on what the mission is?” added Frank.
“Sorry, no can do. It would look suspicious if I left with the pizza. I think your Aunt Trudy is already a little annoyed that I interrupted her soap opera watching. And all I'm saying about the mission is this: I'll see you guys in LA!” With that, Vijay bounded back downstairs.
LA? I was liking the sound of this. LA meant two things to me: beaches and movie stars. Perhaps even movie stars on the beach. In bikinis. Sweet.
Frank grabbed the disc from the pizza box, as well as a slice.
“Ew,” I said.
“Pizza's pizza,” he responded, and he took a big bite.
I flipped the lid of the box closed so I wouldn't have to smell it.
I took ZOMG Kill 3 out of the console and we popped the new disc in.
The opening scene was of a tall, muscular young man in a Speedo and goggles getting out of a pool.
“That's Scott Trevor!” said Frank. “People say he's the fastest man on Earth! Or, well, in water.” Frank was an avid swimmer and was on the Bayport High School swim team. I vaguely recognized Scott from a poster Frank had on his wall.
As Scott waved to the crowd in the video, a voice-over on the video began to explain exactly what Frank had just said. Turned out he had, at twenty-one, already won six Olympic gold medals and set multiple world records. He'd also begun to receive numerous death threats, all focusing on the upcoming Summer Olympics in LA.
“Yes!” said Frank. We high-fived. Going to the Olympics had always been a dream of ours, and now ATAC was sending us!
The camera panned across the new Olympic buildings that had been built for the games.
Up until recently, the threats had been a little less common that what he generally received, but nothing out of line. But a recent burglary at his house, combined with more frequentâand violentâthreats, had made the Olympic officials nervous. The games brought
in a huge amount of publicity, as well as controversy over human rights abuses in participating countries and fights about the money used to build the stadiums. The last thing they needed was more negative publicity.
Suddenly, Vijay appeared on the screen.