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The Perks of being an Owl
People always have ulterior motives. You can't save someone from themselves. People are never as they seem. These cliches ring true. Even for thieves. Even form terrorists. Especially for teenagers.
Take my best friend Ryker Cook for example. He might be a stealthy evil genius who spends after school and weekends planing our next great heist but if you knew why then i guarantee you wouldn't think him an awful person. You see two years ago, Rykers dad died and left him and his now widowed mother to take care of the younger siblings. At the time, Ryker was to young to get a job and his mom couldn't hold herself together enough to even leave the house. Bills were piling up, there were four little mouths to feed and Ryker was at his wits end.
That very afternoon at lunch, Rykers already fragile being just shattered.
"Avalon," Ryker cried. "I can't do this anymore. My dad trusted me to take care of this family and even in death I'm disappointing him."
I had no idea what to say. As an orphan I have never had to worry about disappointing anyone. Luckily though, someone else beat me to it. Ryker tried to pull himself together as our English teacher Mr.Oliver approached our lunch table.
"Hello Ryker. Hello Avalon." Mr.Oliver said in his friendly but sarcastic way as he sat down. "I have a proposition for the two of you. I could get both of you jobs as owls."
Being naive freshmen at the time we graciously accepted the job. Little did we know that "owl" in Mr.Oliver's world meant jewel thieves of an ancient terrorist organization called Domus Desperantium. Which translates to ' The house of the Hopeless'. But despite everything our moral compasses were warning us of, we stayed out of necessity.
Now two years, nineteen heists, 1,386 hours of missed school, countless pep talks laced with sarcasm from Mr.Oliver, and at least 300 lies to Miss Cook later; Ryker and I stand just one plane ride away from one of the most valuable gems in the world: The hope diamond.
It was just two hours ago that Mr.Oliver set a not on my desk in English class that simply instructed me to make a disruption. So I did the only thing I could think of.
"Mr.Oliver," I said. "Do you hear that? I think it's a time bomb."
Immediately the class broke out in laughter.
"So you're a terrorist now Avalon?" Ryker asked with a smile.
"Of course Ryker." Mr.Oliver said Sarcastically. "Avalon Montgomery, the international terrorist. I suppose she is a spy and a thief too."
This only made the class laugh more. Little did the class know that Ryker and Mr.Oliver were being serious. Mr.Oliver stood up and gestured for Ryker and I to join him in the hallway. Once the door was closed behind us, we got down to business. Mr.Oliver handed us plan tickets, a picture of the Hope Diamond, and blueprints to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.
"I'll cover for you." Mr.Oliver assured us. "But you have to leave right now. The company car is waiting outside."
I could tell that Ryker was overjoyed. This would be our tenth job this year and more jobs mean more money. However I was thinking logically. If Mr.Oliver was risking a hallway meeting and shipping us off in the middle of the school day that meant that the Domus Desperantium wasn't the only group after the Hope Diamond.
The moment we landed in Washington D.C., Ryker and I started preparing. I did my best to mask my emotions for Rykers sake, but on the inside I was about to have a panic attack. At sundown, Ryker and I went to the Smithsonian. Ryker hacked into the security system and turned off the alarms and looped the security cameras. I decided to go in old school: threw the air ducts, until I was directly over the diamond then I took off the vent cover and jumped to the ground. As I ever so carefully felt around the glass case for the emergency release that would open the case something disheartening happened. Ryker activated the buildings intercom.
"Ladies and gentlemen," Ryker said. "Welcome to Apple Island."
Shivers went down my spine. 'Apple Island' was our code word for someone was coming. I grabbed the diamond and turned around to leave, but it was to late. The other thief stood right in front of me with her hands on her hips and disappointment on her face. It was Clarimonde Cook, Rykers mom.
"Avalon, where is he?" Clarimonde demanded
I hid the diamond behind my back and tried to swallow the lump in my throat so I could speak.
"I don't know what you're talking about Clarimonde." I said calmly. "I'm working alone."
"No offense Avalon," Clarimonde frowned. "But I don't believe for a second that you could do this job alone."
"But I did. Almost. I swear." I lied
When I was in first grade my parents were in a car accident. My mom died on impact and my dad slipped into a comma. So needless to say, Ryker is the closest thing i have to family. In my experience the one thing that family's and thieves have in common is loyalty. So even if Clarimonde killed me I was not going to give Ryker up. I could tell Clarimonde didn't believe me, but she really didn't have a choice.
"Avalon, just give me the diamond." Clarimonde said with an outstretched hand.
"Why?" I asked. "What group do you work for? How do I know I can trust you?"
"Let me kill two birds with one stone." Clarimonde insisted. "I work for the Central Intelligence Agency."
Everything that occurred next happened in a blur. Clarimonde made me put the diamond back then she escorted me outside only to find no Ryker. Agent Cook put me in the back of an armored van like some terrorist and drove me to Langley, Virginia. The president ordered that I have an immediate trail.
So now I'm here. Literally strapped to a metal chair staring into the eyes of twelve people who will decide my fate.
"So tell us Miss Montgomery, why should we spare you?" One of the women asked.
And there it was. The question that everyone in my life at one point or another has asked me. And still after sixteen years, I didn't have a good answer. After all, what is so special about Avalon Montgomery that makes me to good to be killed like all of the other teenage terrorist thieves in history.
"I'll give you seven hundred- thirty good reasons." Ryker said as he entered the court room.
"Mr. Cook, you have no right to speak." The woman said.
"Actually," Ryker said. "I am a United States citizen which means I have the freedom of speech."
Jury lady didn't have a come back for that one, so Ryker continued talking.
"Miss Montgomery was a thief for Domus Desperantium for two years. Which means she has inside information. It's simple really, if you kill Avalon, you kill your best lead."
Needless to say, the government went for the deal. What will happen to Mr. Oliver? I have no idea. What will happen to me when the government has gotten everything they need? I don't know that either. But I do know one thing. It took loosing my parents, joining a terrorist organization, almost stealing the Hope Diamond, being put on trail for my life, and being rescued by my best friend to finally realize my worth.
It turns out all an owl needs to survive is another owl.