AN: This is the first story Espionage, which contains eleven chapters

Warnings: The first story 'Espionage' in the collection of short stories contains character death, peril, some bad language and violence.

Chapter One

I was late home.

I was due back from the 'conference' today, but I wasn't back yet and it was approaching midnight. I was often late for dinner but I normally called ahead to tell my boyfriend and my sister when I should be back. I never wanted them to worry.

I couldn't this time. I didn't have that option. I was late and, what was more, I would never be on time again. I could see the worry etching itself onto Taylor's face but couldn't sooth it, couldn't kiss it away like I normally would. Beth was be pacing back and forth by this point. I knew she could tell something was wrong; twintuition she called it playfully when we were children.

Before long, two fairly nondescript men in black trench coats knocked on the door. I could see that Taylor thought at first the knock was me; I'd neglected to pick up my keys from the rack that morning, so I'd asked Beth to wait up for me. Taylor was taking the early morning shift at his job that day so I hadn't wanted to keep him awake.

But, like I always knew he would, he had stayed up anyway. He was putting on his 'I'm cross with you' face. That adorable one that made me smile no matter how mad he was at me. When it was not me at the door but two official looking strangers, I could see his heart sink.

"Are you Taylor Arne-Cross?"

Mistrust was evident in his voice. "Yes."

Upon hearing it wasn't me at the door Beth had turned up behind him, "Who is this?" she asked Taylor.

"I shall assume that you're Elizabeth Arne."

"Correct."She said, clearly still waiting for someone to tell her what was going on.

"We have some news to give you regarding Rebecca; may we come inside?"

"Who are you?" Taylor asked, clearly not willing to take these men at their word just yet.

"This is Samuel Meller and I'm Adam Baker." Adam said flashing his useless I.D. "We were co-workers of Becca. We need to come inside."

Taylor opened the door to them, but Beth hesitated for a moment still distrustful, scrutinising the I.D. just enough to try and intimidate these men.

I was almost proud, after all she wasn't to know that these were the kind of men who were beyond intimidation, once she thought she had made her point she stepped aside and let them in.

My dear sweet Taylor on the other hand was completely trusting now the two had flaunted some pieces of paper around; he was so dumb sometimes. They were both unbelievably fortunate that Adam and Sam were telling the truth because if they hadn't they could have easily been mugged and robbed by these two, even if Taylor was tall he was stick thin, and Beth was just as diminutive as I was. Or was that: had been? I hated this.

It wasn't surprising that Adam had been sent to handle the situation. He may have been large and strong enough to be imposing, but there was always something about him that just made people trust the guy, a skill which was utilized with alarming regularity.

Adam walked through to the living room and sat down before Samuel swept the walls with a small clicking device which to the untrained eye looked something along the lines of a cross between an airport metal detector and a Geiger counter.

"Clear." He said before taking the seat next to the first man.

"Ms. Arne, Mr. Arne-Cross, you may wish to sit down; we have much to discuss and little time in which to discuss it, but first, would you like a cup of coffee? You may well need it." Adam asked, gesturing towards Sam.

"I don't want coffee," Beth insisted, but Taylor was too shocked to speak let alone accept or deny the drink.

Samuel stood up again as the other two sat down walking into the kitchen as if he owned the house. It was barely a minute before he came back with a tray carrying three cups. Taylor's favourite mug was handed to him.

"No milk, two sugars, just how you like it."Sam said no hint that he was enjoying the look of abject horror that passed Tay's face.

I could have laughed. I'd seen this before. Hell, I'd done this before. It was mine and Adam's party trick. Sam didn't even drink coffee. All it was needed for was proof. Proof before you could even open your mouth, before you even knew they existed, that they knew everything about you, down to how you fixed your drinks.

Taylor's face was pulled into a grimace of barely restrained anger. He hated people touching his things; it was as bad as spitting on him. It was disgusting, the very worst of violations to him. I was certain he had OCD. It was impossible for him to face a day where he hadn't coordinated everything. It didn't matter if no-one could see it, his hat must match with his underwear because even if everyone else was blissfully unaware of the disparity he would know. That was something that he simply couldn't stand. Despite Beth's lack of compulsive tendencies she looked just as shocked and put out as Taylor did.

"What we're about to discuss with you is rather sensitive in nature."

"Who are you? Where's Becca?" Beth asked again having still received no answer.

"That's what we're here to discuss." Adam said, before turning towards Taylor, "We've come to understand that you were the closest person to your sister and were notified of the full extent of your... relationship."

This was Taylor's ultimate nightmare, the thing he obsessed over the most, even though Beth, the only person whose opinion mattered, had told us time and again that there was nothing wrong with us, that everything was fine. His head was buried in his hands. Fear shook his whole body. I'm sure what we were wasn't technically illegal – we weren't related by blood – but society looked down upon it anyway and Tay was obsessed with the thought that there might be some little know by-law that could send us both to jail.

"I...what are you going to do? Where's Becca? You haven't arrested her, have you?"

Adam sighed exasperatedly "Stop fretting, Mr. Arne-Cross. We're not here for some little misdemeanour. Your sister was permitted to act above such personal indiscretions. We're here on far more important business,"

Taylor looked up from his hands, "Indiscretion, are you serious?" He had spent much of his life fearing he was the worse of people for what he felt for me, and now Adam was treating it as though it were nothing, insignificant. Even Beth seemed surprised.

"Would you prefer if I arrest you? Though I assure you it would be a complete waste of both our times."

"Then why are you here? Why do you keep saying Becca 'was' rather than 'is'."Beth chipped in, sounding more and more frustrated that her questions were being avoided.

"You never really knew your sister did you?" Adam commented with mild surprise, "You may have lived with her but you only really saw what was on the surface too. Never saw beyond the mask. There was much more to her than you think."

"Will you stop talking in these stupid fucking riddles and just tell me what's going on already!" I flinched, Adam didn't, but he didn't know Beth like I did. Beth never shouted. She got angry, she locked herself away, she threw things, and she played her guitar until her fingers bled, but never ever did she raise her voice.

What was worse, Taylor didn't give away a single clue that this wasn't the norm.

"I'll put it bluntly then. Your sister was a spy for the British government."

Taylor scoffed, "Right, right. Don't be so stupid."

"Becca worked in an IT firm writing software. You guys are crazy, tell me where she is or I'm calling the police." Beth threatened.

Adam smirked, that sort of vaguely smug grin that would make people want to smack a person. "I'm not lying and even if you phone the police it'll do you no good, they're not going to come. I can guarantee that."

"You honestly expect me to believe that Becca, my little sister Becca, was some kind of master of espionage?"Taylor added, disbelief apparent in his tone.

"It was in the interest of your safety, the safety of both of you," he said with a nod towards Beth "That she led a double life. You'll have to accept that she was our greatest prodigy. She was no more than thirteen when we discovered the potential skills she held."

Taylor was dumbfounded; I knew he would be if he ever found out. Both of them didn't believe in the fantastical so easily, but I could see he was trying to fit the theory into what he already knew. He shook his head like he was trying to clear water from his ears before speaking. Beth remained silent.

"No. I don't get this, I know she wouldn't have had time to have extra lessons or be far away, she would have had to have been in two places at once. She was at school with me, she got decent enough A-Levels and then left school with me, we both just went straight to work. I'm sorry mate, but you've got the wrong person."

"All these things you 'know'. You really don't know anything do you? They were all part of the mask as fictitious as her nine to five job at the office, Rebecca was a genius, surely that couldn't have escaped your attention."

Of course it never escaped Taylors's attention, he was forever commenting on it to me. He never had any need for a calculator when I was around, I could finish a book before he had read the first chapter. Any question he had I could answer in a second.

'You should have left here,' he'd always say, 'you should have gotten a degree, a better job, better than this prejudiced little town.' But I always told him he was daft. What could be better than here? Better than us? The three of us together; the three musketeers. I didn't want to go if they weren't going to be there. Lying was a necessary skill I picked up quickly, but every time I lied to him was like a knife to the heart.

"When you were separated into three different classes in school was when we took her under our tutelage. She was put into an accelerated learning program and took her GCSEs in under 6 months; her A-Levels took less than a year. While you were struggling with the basics of French verbs Rebecca was mastering six different languages. She was proficient in freehand martial arts, computer programming and hacking, weaponry, chemistry, mathematics; by seventeen she had a degree in modern foreign languages and another in natural sciences, by twenty she had her PhD in the development of matter. As soon as she was eighteen she was sent on missions around the world for us. She had done so much for this country that will never be recognised, she was simply the best there was."

Taylor was speechless under the onslaught of information, I wondered whether the speech was rehearsed to make them stunned or if they were simply words that he had wished to say built up over years of hiding the reality of his own life which just flooded out of Adam's mouth under the guise of an explanation. I knew he had had a tough time in his private life, and that other people could manage to balance this job and those strange abstract concepts like love and family had always been a sore spot for him.

It took almost a full minute for the silence to be broken when Beth uttered two words; "The conferences."

Samuel, who had as yet remained silent and motionless, nodded his head.

Taylor released a deep, shaky breath. "Ok, say I do believe you. Let's pretend for a moment that Becca is a super spy and that by some stupidity and complete lack of observation on my part I never knew. You're still talking in the past tense."

He may not have been as clever as I was, but that in no way meant he was stupid. It was plain to see that he knew exactly what was going on. He just didn't want to. He just wanted to hold onto the belief that everything was ok; he'd been let in on this huge secret but somehow he could carry on as if nothing had changed. That a new order by MI5 had requested politely that close family was to be informed of our occupation.

"There was an oversight on our part;" Adam admitted, "Becca was undertaking an intelligence gathering mission for the UN. We'd been given leads on a trafficking organisation based near the Chinese-Burmese border. They were attempting to forge links with some big time crime bosses in Soho; obviously we couldn't allow that."

"A drug ring?" Beth piped up.

"No, human trafficking. They kidnap villagers, farmers, street children, and sometimes whole minority groups in order to sell them to factories for big companies that care more about turning a profit that human life." Adam shook his head in disgust, though I knew having worked so long on this case he had become partially immune to the horrors of it, "And those are the lucky ones. Many become prostitutes it's even been known for people to be sold as human sacrifices. It's a sinister world."

"I didn't even realise these things still happened." Tay whispered looking faintly sick.

"It's more prevalent than you might imagine. It happens more now than it has in years. This outfit was selling to a corrupt organisation that was using the trafficked people as medical test subjects. They were trying to stage a coup on the military powers that were already active in the area by threatening biological warfare. We had managed to link this to the recent disappearance of the prominent biologist Gregory Bayer. Rebecca had gathered sufficient intel and on our word had decided to act, but her partner was, at our best estimates, a double agent. We unknowingly let her slip through the radar. I didn't even realise until it was too late. She was shot in the back. All we can tell from the last radio communications with her is that the bullet most likely nicked his heart; she would have died within minutes."

I could see the tears in Taylor's eyes and for a moment I was sure that Beth was going to stop breathing. The two of them were stock still; no sound touched the room, just silent misery.

"We are truly sorry." Adam insisted, "She was a great loss to our whole unit and I know it's a great loss to you two as well, but I'm afraid to say that we have more pressing matters. The organisation she opposed have had a lot of information from the double agent. Now that Becca's dead they will come after you, they'll assume you know something, even if you don't. They will try and find you by any means necessary. They will torture you for information that you don't even have."

Sam, who had still remained silent throughout this exchange, finally spoke up. "Becca had said that in the event that anything like this happened, we should get you both to a safe place, and to put you under strict protection to make sure you don't get hurt. She would have done anything to keep you safe, so I hope you can honour her wishes."

Taylor was easily convinced on this matter, but I could see that Beth wasn't. I knew my twin, and that point between pure grief and pure anger could pull acts out of her that most ordinary humans would have been incapable of.

"You'll have twenty-four hours; everything Rebecca owns has been handed to you both to be shared evenly; her bank account and all the money within it, her weaponry, and all her personal effects. We need you pack up what you can and then take it to this address, no furniture, nothing huge, take your valuable items, your passport and identification, a few clothes and as many of the documents in the house as you can find. Becca had a habit of leaving bits of information in unlikely places."

"We'll take everything left in the house and store it in one of the warehouses in case there's anything left that we might need in future. The house will be stripped down and sold, and the profit transferred to your bank account." Sam added

"We need to leave you now, but you must be quick," Adam insisted, "They may already be on their way."

So that's how my life ended.

Do you want to see how it began?