Disclaimer: Anything from the book belongs to Ally Carter

Chapter 1

I lined up the site on the rifle and tried to ignore the rain dripping into my eyes. I was frozen solid and soaked to the bone. Take it from me, Maine during the winter is not somewhere you want to be camping! Especially if you haven't slept in 47 hours 56 minutes 12 seconds and counting!

Of course I wasn't the only one out here. There were twenty other boys in my Junior class at The Blackthorne Institute for Boys. We had all been dumped out here with over forty pounds of heavy camping equipment with one objective:

Assassinate your target and return to base

Of course, those types of missions are a whole lot easier when you know where your target, (or even your base for that matter) is in relation to where you are. I had basically managed to map out a route back to base when we had first been dropped off, but finding my target had been another matter entirely.

I won't go into all of the gory details, but lets just say it involved nearly two days of hiking and a whole lot of mud and caffeine.

Fun fact #1: Dry instant coffee is vile.

I lined up the targets head in my sights. If it had been anyone else set up as the target then Dr. Steve Sanders, then maybe I would have aimed for his back. The only rule of this was that it had to be an approximation of a kill shot. We were all using paintball, but a paintball to the head would still really hurt.

As I prepared to squeeze the trigger, I had one moment of misgiving. Knocking people out isn't necessarily fun, but this guy was, like, the embodiment of pure evil. Wait, I think my mother actually has that title.

I pressed the trigger, and a moment later Dr. Steve was flat on the ground with blue paint smeared through his hair. I sighed and collapsed the gun into a tube about the size of a piece of PBC pipping. I dropped the gun into my bag and turned to leave.

I started to jog back in the general direction of where I thought the base was. I stopped abruptly when I passed a boulder. I closed my eyes momentarily. I was hungry, I was tired, and theoretically I could let whoever this other hunter was hit me with a paintball and just be picked up in the helicopter and go home. On the other hand I could also theoretically be a masochist and set up a trap for whoever this guy was.

I cursed at my own brain and disappeared into the trees around me. I doubled back silently through the pine trees to behind my would-be attacker. I launched forward knocking the boy off of his feet and pining him into the ground. My hands were around the guys throat before I could really think about what I was doing. I was so tired that my brain was running off of nothing but instinct, and unfortunately for the guy I was chocking (who also happened to be my roommate) my instincts were those of an assassin.

I blame my mother for that.

"Jesus Christ Zach! I get it! You got me." Grant chocked out.

My adrenaline rush fadded and I let Grant breath again.

"Remind me to never ever sneek up on you again." he said.

"I would have thought that you would know that allready considering youv'e been my roommate for five years." I told him as I examined his tactical position. "This isn't a bad spot. What was your plan? Take out the guy who finished first?"

He nodded.

I simply dropped my stuff on the ground and sat next to Grant. He had had a good plan. Assassins work annonymously and it's a very competitivie job market. If you can take out the guy who took out your target then who's to say you weren't the one to do it?

Grant studied my face. "Tired?"

I nodded.

"Want some coffee?"

"Do you have any hot water to mix it with?"

"Ummm no not exactly." He studied me again. "Just how many hours have you burned without sleeping?"

I dropped my head back against the tree. "48 hours, 26 minutes, and 11 seconds."

Grant whistled lightly. "How long do you think it'll be before they pick us up?" he asked.

"That depends on when exactly Steve wakes up and radios in."

"You hit him perfectly in the head didn't you?"I nodded. Snippers call a perfect hit to the back of the head disconnecting the computer. It's kind of the gold standard of snipping. "Jeez it's like you can't miss or something! Any way, how long do yuou think it'll be till he's up?"

That was when I heard the sound of a chopper approaching at high speed. "Aparently not that long. I guess Dr. Steves head is a little thicker than we thought."

Grant laughed and exactly 7 minutes and 4 seconds later, we were all on our way back to school.

You're all probably wondering what kind of school it is I go to. What school teaches highschoolers outdoor survival and sniping instead of algebra and history? What kind of school lies about it's very existance? What type of school teaches kids how to take lives?

Hell, you don't even know who I am. I'll tell you.

My name is Zachary Goode.

And I go to a school for spies.