Operation tenley, p.1
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       Operation Tenley, p.1
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           Jennifer Gooch Hummer
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Operation Tenley


  This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The author makes no claims to, but instead acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of the word marks mentioned in this work of fiction.

  Copyright © 2016 by Jennifer Gooch Hummer

  THE FAIR CITY FILES: OPERATION TENLEY by Jennifer Gooch Hummer All rights reserved. Published in the United States of America by Month9Books, LLC.

  No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

  EPub ISBN: 978-1-945107-15-3 Mobi ISBN: 978-1-945107-16-0

  Paperback ISBN: 978-1-942664-99-4

  Published by Month9Books, Raleigh, NC 27609

  Cover design by Ampersand Book Covers at www.ampersandbookcovers.com

  PRAISE FOR OPERATION TENLEY

  “If Holly Short from Artemis Fowl was trying to rehabilitate Veruca Salt from Willie Wonka while battling Mother Nature and her Heat/Snow Miser sons, you’d have the Fair City Files. Quirky characters and rollicking fun.”—Dianne K. Salerni, author of The Eighth Day Series

  “If you like stories with fairies, you’ll love Operation Tenley where futuristic fairies are tasked with guarding earth’s teens who have gained elemental powers, risking the ire and wrath of Mother Nature. With a fun, high-stakes battle for control over the planets elements, it’s sure to please middle-grade readers.”—Alane Adams, award-winning author of The Red Sun and Kalifus Rising

  “A fun, fresh mash-up of magic and technology. This is one modern twist on fairies you won’t want to miss!”—Tobie Easton author of Emerge

  Madison, Daisy, Tatum, and, Craig

  Dragons are real.

  1

  Hadley Beach, California

  Tenley Tylwyth needed votes.

  Which is why today she stood outside in the busy quad wearing a sash draped over her left shoulder that read Vote For Me, Tenley T!

  Behind her, a group of boys played Frisbee, while in front of her, students hurried by, ignoring the flyers she held out.

  Please totally Nominate Tenley Tylwyth to

  represent Hadley Middle School on

  America’s Next Most Inspirational Teen

  this Friday Night

  When the Frisbee flew straight toward Tenley’s head, none of the students noticed.

  Except one.

  Holden Wonderbolt was a size or two skinnier than the other boys his age, with milk chocolate skin and impressive skateboard skills. He was on the way to the skate ramp when he spotted the Frisbee.

  “Watch out!” he yelled.

  Tenley turned around just as Holden leaped off his board and launched himself forward. Instead of intercepting the Frisbee, though, Holden sailed toward Tenley while above them, the Frisbee spun off in the opposite direction.

  Had others seen it, they would have wondered: Did that Frisbee just stop in midair, flip itself sideways, and zoom off in a completely different direction? But no one had seen it. Not even Holden, who was busy preparing to land on Tenley.

  This is what Tenley did: step back.

  This is what Holden did: (crash) land.

  This is what the rest of the students did: stare.

  Oh, and a few photos were taken and posted on the Internet within seconds.

  2

  North West Observation Spot, Fair City

  Standard Fair One 3rdi’s were sufficient enough to see everything happening on Earth, even from the far edge of Fair City. But Laraby must have missed something. Why would his client ditch his skateboard and dive toward another student like that?

  He tapped at his 3rdi and groaned, then flung it back over his head into its holder. “Piece of junk. A 3rdi-All wouldn’t have missed anything,” he mumbled. Laraby coveted 3rdi-Alls, which were infinitely better, but were only issued to Lieutenant Fair Ones.

  Frustrated, he rubbed his bald head and stepped back over jagged rocks and dust, the latter of which was always the archenemy of his pristine white robes. He pulled a controller out of his tool belt and entered some information. A small hologram screen appeared. A few more clicks and the scene he had just watched on Earth projected in front of him.

  There was Holden, skateboarding through the quad, when suddenly and without reason, he flung himself off and dived straight into an unsuspecting girl. Nothing in Holden’s immediate surroundings gave any indication of potential danger. Wind, humidity, barometric pressure, fire, temperature, tectonic plates—all normal.

  Laraby pulled his eyes off the screen and sighed. Today he was not in the mood. He’d been hoping to grab a small bite, and now his client’s potential injury would eat into his lunch hour. He’d have to fill out an accident report, for one thing, and Holden Wonderbolt was getting dangerously close to his limit. Another injury could very well result in a red flag for Laraby, which might then lead to a review. And although Laraby did quite enjoy Holden Wonderbolt, he had to admit the boy was a bit of a klutz.

  Laraby prepared for departure. The sooner he submitted the report, the better. City Hall was becoming ever more crowded and less efficient.

  Just as his propellers started to activate, a loud whirring sound made him take pause. There was nothing wrong with his equipment, as far as he could tell. No damage that he could recall, and he was always on top of the updates. But the whirring noise increased. Perhaps it was another Fair One coming to share his ob-spot. This seemed to be happening more frequently, even though he always picked the farthest, most remote sites to observe his client.

  Or perhaps it was asteroid winds picking up. He’d heard talk the last time he was in City Hall that Mother Nature and her Weathers were on the brink of infiltrating the Fair Force’s protective layer again. A stronger system had been implemented since her first infiltration, but no one knew if this was enough. Mother Nature and her Weathers were becoming increasingly hostile, which meant the clients on Earth were in even more danger. Time spent filling out injury reports was precious time away from monitoring them.

  Dust picked up around him. He’d washed his robes only yesterday. Annoyed, Laraby stepped out of the swirling debris but stopped when an enormous wind tunnel appeared overhead, close enough to be dangerous. With no time to protect his gear, Laraby took cover under his arms, abruptly knocking the 3rdi sideways. He yelped. A Fair One’s tools were powerful but not indestructible and once damaged, were never quite the same.

  He waited for impact, but nothing happened. He peeked up at Fair Force, three of them, hovering a few meters above. Their badges were visible, and red sirens flashed over their propellers.

  “Fair One lara b3. You are under arrest. Anything you think can and will be used against you. You are hereby ordered to City Hall in three minutes. Failure to do so will result in further penalty.”

  “Officers,” Laraby shouted above the noise. “I think you must be mistaken.”

  The Fair Force typed into a small tablet. A pocket in Laraby’s tool belt buzzed. The arrest warrant was delivered.

  City Hall in three minutes? He’d never been arrested before.

  “Good day,” the Fair Force nodded, before propelling upward and zooming away as fast as they had come.

  “It’s lunch time,” Laraby grumbled, activating his propellers again. As soon as he felt his feet lift, he tipped his head left and started for City Hall.

  3

  South West Observation Spot, Fair City

  Pennie pushed back her 3rdi to focus on
that sound. Just as she thought, it was getting closer: a deep humming that vibrated enough to make the inside of her ears itch.

  She felt around her white robes for her tool belt. Her inquiry about smaller-sized robes had gone unanswered. And so today, as she did every other day, she looked like a basket of laundry with red hair.

  She found her location device and clicked on it. She was right where she thought she was, on one of the more remote ob-spots where few Fair Ones ever went. In fact, most believed this particular ob-spot was still shut down, the aftermath of a small turf warfare between Administratives and Fair Force. Why the Administratives ever thought they could win was anyone’s guess.

  Pennie slipped the location device back into her tool belt. When she looked up again, a wind tunnel was getting closer. Heading straight toward her, in fact.

  She started to activate her propellers, but the wind tunnel slammed to a halt above her. Three figures with badges and red lights flashing above them unraveled.

  “Fair One penn 1? You are under arrest. Anything you think can and will be used against you. You are hereby ordered to City Hall in three minutes. Failure to do so will result in further penalty.”

  The Fair Force typed into his small tablet. Pennie’s tool belt buzzed. Her arrest warrant was delivered.

  She shook her head. She’d never been arrested before. “Officers, I’m in the middle of monitoring my client. It’s not really a convenient time. Would it be okay if I came in tomorrow?”

  The biggest of the Fair Force dropped closer. “No.” He pulled out a set of handcuffs.

  Pennie stepped back. “Actually, on second thought, I’m all done here. Thank you, Officers.”

  “I suggest you get on your way then, Fair One.”

  The three Fair Force lifted upward and zoomed away.

  “I was just doing my job,” Pennie mumbled, activating her propellers properly this time. As soon as she was off the ground, she tipped her head right and started toward City Hall.

  4

  Fair City

  Pennie rarely had a clean landing and this time was no different. She stumbled and yelped before falling back on her buttocks.

  It was her feet. Because along with their smallish four-foot stature, a Fair One also possessed tiny feet—not particularly good for landing. Descendants of the fairies of yesteryear, whose ancestors had wings for transportation, a Fair One no longer possessed these magical limbs. They did, however, maintain the same tiny feet, which presented a challenge. Wings and tiny feet allowed for a delicate landing, but propellers and tiny feet did not. Experienced Fair Ones may have perfected the act, but graceful landings required a skill that rookie Fair Ones like Pennie had yet to master.

  Fair City was buzzing today. Fair Ones were coming and going, and collisions were constant. The danger of so many propellers had at one time been enough for the Fairships to ban them in town altogether. But Fair Ones were busy, and getting busier, and walking simply took too long. So eventually propellers were reinstated, and now there was hardly ever a Fair One on tiny foot.

  Pennie retracted her propellers and looked at the building ahead.

  City Hall was written above the entrance. It was a drab building. Once gleaming like everything else in Fair City, it was now covered in layers of dust and debris.

  A sign by the bottom stair read:

  NO OPEN PROPELLERS

  PAST THIS POINT

  Pennie gathered her robes and began climbing the stairs.

  A dozen meters away on the other side of the grand staircase, Laraby had little trouble landing. Laraby was an overachiever and the first of his family to become a Fair One. His parents and siblings had no desire to work for the Fairships. They chose instead to live well outside of Fair City on another bit of space junk in the asteroid belt where they quietly manufactured propeller parts—except for one of his brothers, whom he preferred not to think about at the moment. Or any other moment.

  Laraby reached down for his tool belt, braced himself while his propellers retracted, and brushed down his long red beard. Then he, too, gathered his robes and started climbing.

  Halfway up the staircase, Pennie noticed a disheveled Fair One sitting alone. His robes were tarnished with soot and grime, and a few bits and parts of an old propeller were cupped in between his palms. A sign by his feet read: Blade-less. Please help.

  “Extra blades?” he asked hopefully. Pennie slowed. Something about his eyes reminded her of her father, who had gone on a galactic tour with some friends and never returned. Their travel box had hit a meteor. Her mother had never been the same.

  Pennie shook her head at the disheveled Fair One. “I’m sorry, sir. I don’t have any.”

  Extra propellers were nearly impossible to come by. The Fair Force kept tight control over all equipment, most especially propellers. Unapproved travel outside the asteroid belt was strictly prohibited but somehow becoming more frequent. Perhaps this was why she was getting called in; the ob-spot she’d been on was at the very end of the belt.

  “I’ll keep my eyes open though,” Pennie told him.

  “Thank you. And may His return be swift.” The Fair One raised his right hand with fingers crossed and pressed it to his heart.

  “May His return be swift,” Pennie repeated, doing the same with her hand before continuing up the stairs.

  Most of the Fair Ones on the staircase were descending, but a few were climbing, their robes gathered into fists and their lungs heaving just like Pennie’s. She wasn’t used to this level of exertion. A bead of sweat ran down her temple.

  At the top, Pennie noticed a bald Fair One with a long red beard stepping up to the landing at the same time she did. They arrived at the entrance at the same time, and noticing her panting, the Fair One held the door for her.

  “Thank you,” Pennie said.

  “Your last remembering is their first vision,” he mumbled.

  “What?”

  Laraby looked up at her, confused. “Did I just say that out loud?”

  Pennie smiled politely and stepped inside.

  ATTENTION!

  DUE TO RECENT ACTIVITY

  ALL TOOL BELTS MUST NOW BE CHECKED

  BEFORE ENTERING THE GREAT HALL

  Code 00090.

  ABSOLUTELY NO OPEN PROPELLERS)

  Pennie stopped. Hand over her tools? She couldn’t hand over her tools. Without them, she’d lose all monitoring capabilities of her client. If there was one thing a rookie learned in training, it was to always keep one’s tools close. A Fair One had to be ready at all times.

  “Excuse me,” Laraby said, stepping around Pennie and up to the Tool Belt Check. Pennie watched him unbuckle his belt and hand it over to the teen Administrator with an eyebrow piercing.

  “Thanks,” the teen sneered. “lara b3?” she confirmed, waving his belt over the scanner.

  “I am, indeed,” Laraby answered.

  She handed Laraby the paper ticket that spit out from the scanner. “Listen for your number.” She motioned to the door behind him.

  Laraby turned around. Pennie was standing in the same place with the same blank look on her face. “We have to give them all of our tools?” she asked. “This wasn’t anywhere in the Manual.”

  She looked like she might cry. And crying was something that Laraby just couldn’t deal with. He’d grown up with twenty-seven younger siblings, and the last thing he needed right now was to miss his number being called.

  He started walking past her.

  “Excuse me, do we have to give them everything?” Pennie asked him directly this time.

  Laraby stopped. “Are you a rookie?”

  The Fair One nodded. This rookie was definitely about to cry.

  Guilt flooded his senses. He’d been a rookie Fair One not long ago himself.

  “It’s a new rule. You have to check your entire belt. They won’t let you in any farther if you don’t. Sets off the alarms.”

  These words di
d little to soften Pennie’s worried look. Maybe, Laraby thought, she’d been hit in the head by an asteroid particle. That had happened to one of his little sisters, and she’d looked worried ever since. He pointed up to the sign. “Tool belt. Check. It.”

  Finally, Pennie shook her head. “Sorry. I feel a little dizzy.” She lifted her hand to her forehead. Maybe it was all those stairs.

  “I realize,” Laraby said, over-pro-nun-ci-ating for her just in case she was too dizzy to hear him. “It goes against the natural instinct to give up your tools. You’ve been trained well. But, like I said, it’s a new rule. She’s going to scan your belt and give you a ticket. Listen for the number on it—that’s how they’ll call you up. When you’re finished with your business here, you’ll hand the ticket back to her and get your belt. Easy.”

  “What if something happens? I can’t fail this assignment.”

  “Hopefully nothing will. And anyway, you’ve been summoned here. They can’t fail you for that.”

  Pennie unbuckled her belt and handed it over.

  The teen didn’t bother making eye contact when she waved Pennie’s tool belt over the scanner and handed her the ticket.

  Pennie turned to Laraby, who was noticing that the teen still hadn’t put his tool belt into a locker. “Thanks,” Pennie said. “I don’t even know why I’m here.”

  “Actually, I have no idea why I’m here, either.” Laraby narrowed his eyes on the teen Administrator. Finally, she placed their belts into lockers. “Just got summoned a few minutes ago,” he continued, glancing at his ticket and pulling open one side of the double doors. “I’m sure it’s a mistake, though. I’ve never broken a rule. After you.” He waved Pennie through.

 
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