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Authors: Riley Clifford

The 39 Clues Invasion

BOOK: The 39 Clues Invasion
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UNLOCK A TOP SECRET FILE
ABOUT THE CAHILLS’ DEADLIEST ENEMY —
THE VESPERS
!

  1. The seven Rapid Fire stories each contain a fragment of a code. Collect the fragments in order to assemble a complete ten-digit code.
  2. Go to
    www.the39clues.com
    .
  3. Click on “
    My Cards
    .”
  4. Enter the ten-digit Rapid Fire code to unlock a digital card and Top Secret Vesper file!

The code fragment for this story is:
L

 

Are you ready to save the world?

 

 

One Year After the Clue Hunt

 

When Dan Cahill started talking kung fu movies, no force in the universe could make him stop. First he ranted about the bad lip-synching, then he rhapsodized about how Bruce Lee was so fast that movie directors asked him to slow down his punches so they could be captured on film. Atticus Rosenbloom lay the phone down on the windowsill to let his friend finish his monologue from a distance. Usually, talking to Dan made Atticus laugh so hard he almost choked on his retainer, but right now he couldn’t muster a chuckle.

His mom and dad were outside by the car, giving final instructions to Atticus’s older brother, Jake. The two siblings looked so different that people were always guessing that one was adopted, which forced Atticus to explain that, in actuality, they were half brothers. But Jake had been around from the moment Atticus was born, so they didn’t count the difference.

Atticus knew he should be outside with his family, but he didn’t want to start crying again and make his mom late for her appointment. Jake didn’t cry. He just pretended everything was okay. Or maybe he just didn’t care as much — Astrid was only his stepmom, after all.

As he peered out the window, Atticus saw his dad load the suitcases into the trunk while his mom hugged Jake. On the phone, Dan’s tinny voice was now going on about a snarfing-related incident at school.

“Uh-huh,” Atticus said into the phone before putting it down again.

He heard the car doors shut and watched Jake walk back to the house as their dad maneuvered the family’s station wagon around the recycling bins and out into the suburban cul-de-sac. His mom looked up from the passenger seat to Atticus’s window and gave him a wave as the car disappeared into the trees that lined the street. She looked so tiny and frail from Atticus’s room. Her face was tight and thin, and even from a distance her hand looked like paper stretched over bone.

Atticus’s chest heaved and he pressed the red button on the phone, cutting off Dan’s voice.
Sorry
,
lost service
, he punched into a text and hit
SEND
.

Across the street, another station wagon pulled away from the curb. The driver was probably on his way to field hockey practice, the grocery store, or a family dinner out. Certainly not to a series of expensive medical appointments in New York City.

This wasn’t ancient China, where emperor Qin Shi Huang’s doctors gave him mercury pills to try to extend his life (in actuality, of course, they killed him). Modern medicine was supposed to know how to make people get
better
. But even the full staff of Harvard Medical School hadn’t known what was wrong with Atticus’s mom.

 

Simeon disassembled the microphone with mechanical precision. There was a place for every part, resting snugly in the foam inside a steel case. He glanced at the rearview mirror. As soon as the Rosenblooms’ car disappeared from view, he slipped his transmission into drive and pulled out into the street.

His new long-range microphone was proving to be a great asset on this little break-in assignment. He’d just learned that Atticus and Jake Rosenbloom would be alone through the weekend. As soon as the two children left the house, Simeon could use his tools to gain entry into the study and liberate Astrid’s files.

Simeon liked using his tools to break into things. He could break people, too, for that matter. Just like a penknife could encourage a lock to open, it could also encourage a person to spill his secrets. In either case, you just needed to apply the right pressure. Simeon’s favorite tool was the ornately engraved weapon strapped to his chest. If things went south on a job, he could always fall back on his Cretan dagger.

Given what he knew of the Vespers, Simeon was surprised that they only wanted a few files from a sick professor. For five hundred years, the Vespers had been one of history’s greatest crime organizations, sowing death and mayhem in their wake. Simeon had tortured for them, even murdered. But sometimes luck tossed him an easy job.

Simeon didn’t really care either way. Working for the Vespers was really no different than working for any of the other syndicates, cartels, and dictators that had hired him in the past. The client just presented him with their concern, he picked the right tools, and he dealt with it.

Problem solved.

 

After school the next day, Jake and Atticus barely had a chance to toss down their book bags and punch in the security code before Atticus started complaining again. Jake groaned as he crouched down to unlace his running shoes. Coach had been pushing the team hard to be ready for the regional meet this weekend, and Jake was completely beat.

“I don’t want to go,” Atticus whined. “I’m sure you’ll win and everything. But all I get to do is sit there and watch high-schoolers wearing tight pants run around in circles. Can’t I just stay here and hang out with Dan?”

Jake sighed. Dad had told him to let Atticus have friends over — which inevitably meant Dan. Other than the Harvard professors who had identified Atticus as a prodigy and called to try to stump him with new logic problems, Dan Cahill was Atticus’s only real friend.

Jake wasn’t sure that the Cahill kid was a good influence on Atticus. Since the two had met in an online gaming chat room, there had been a marked uptick in fart jokes in the Rosenbloom household. Astrid said it was just the way eleven-year-old boys were, but Jake blamed Dan.

“We won’t get into any trouble,” Atticus promised.

Fat chance of that, with the Cahill kid in the mix
, Jake thought.

“And I’ll have my phone, so you can call me in between races.”

Jake shook his head. “I promised Dad I wouldn’t leave you here alone.”

Atticus’s face fell. “I won’t be alone. Dan will be here.”

At home, Atticus had books and online friends to distract him. Sitting in the bleachers for hours, Atticus would torture himself worrying about his mom. What could really go wrong if he stayed home? Atticus and Dan were dumb sometimes, but they weren’t
that
dumb.

Jake glanced up at the security panel just inside the front door. Last year Jake’s dad had installed a state-of-the-art security system so museums would lend him artifacts to study. If anyone came into the house without typing in the code, the police were guaranteed to be there in five minutes. Right now there was a priceless Aztec mask from the Peabody Museum in Dad’s study, and the house was sealed as tight as a vault.

“Okay, sure.” Jake stood up, slipping into his sneakers. “What do you want to do for dinner?”

Atticus perked up. “Hawaiian pizza?”

“Pizza? Again?”

It was the third night in a row.

“We can do something else if you want,” Atticus said, but Jake could hear the disappointment in his voice.

Jake shrugged. “No, pizza is good. I’ll go order it online.”

“Then can we call Mom? We promised to check in,” Atticus suggested.

Atticus tried to hide it, but Jake could see his lip was trembling. His little brother didn’t want to call to let his mom know that he was okay. He needed to call to know that
she
was okay.

Jake didn’t trust his voice, so he just nodded. He remembered when Dad had first pulled him aside to tell him why Astrid was looking so tired, why she had dropped out of her tennis league and was napping all the time. His father’s voice had come out ragged and whispery, like something had clamped down on his vocal cords.

Now Jake’s voice was threatening to do the same thing, and he couldn’t let Atticus hear that. The kid was already teetering on the edge. It was Jake’s job to keep him from losing it entirely.

It was just a matter of time before his whole world unraveled.

 

Dan Cahill nearly spilled his Twizzlers as he tried to walk down the sidewalk and open two packets at the same time. Lately he liked to wrap a red one around a black one and eat them together. It was just like the rest of his life — the normal version just wasn’t enough anymore.

The truth was that he’d almost stolen the Twizzlers. Ever since he had taken lessons from Lightfinger Larry in safecracking and pocket-picking, Dan had these urges. He wanted to steal something, just for the thrill. He didn’t mind paying, and he didn’t want to hurt the guy who owned the store. But he was just so
bored
.

Less than two years ago, Dan Cahill had been a regular kid, and his biggest excitement had been seeing how many Slurpees he could down in a five-minute period. But that had all changed at his grandmother Grace’s funeral, when Dan and his older sister, Amy, had learned something that shattered their world.

They were members of the most influential family history had ever known, a family whose members included everyone from Mozart to Annie Oakley. And throughout the Cahills’ storied past, its rival branches had lied, stolen, and even murdered — all to find 39 Clues that were the key to the family’s secret power.

Grace’s funeral had sparked a final chase around the world for the Clues, engineered to bring the feuding branches together. In the end Dan and Amy collected all of the Clues but chose not to use them, leaving their secret locked in Dan’s photographic memory.

Though Grace’s dying wish had been for the hunt to usher in a new era of Cahill cooperation, Dan still couldn’t stop himself from longing for the familiar high of outsmarting the other branches. At the time every moment had been terrifying, but now everything he did seemed dreary and colorless in comparison.

BOOK: The 39 Clues Invasion
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