Authors: Deborah Abela
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Max Remy Superspy 07: The Venice Job
ePub ISBN 9781742745121
Random House Australia Pty Ltd
Level 3, 100 Pacific Highway, North Sydney NSW 2060
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First published in 2005
Text copyright Â© Deborah Abela 2005
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
National Library of Australia
The Venice job.
For children aged 8+.
ISBN 978 1 74166 031 9.
ISBN 1 74166 031 9.
1. Spies â Juvenile fiction. 2. Venice (Italy) â Juvenile
Fiction. I. Title. (Series: Max remy super spy; 7).
Photograph of the author by Todd Decker
Cover and internal illustrations by Jobi Murphy
For Todd, thanks for all the travels
Max Remy looked up at the rope that suspended her from the lonely heights of the Great Wall of China. The rough cord dug into her wrists, burning red welts into her skin.
The sun had already fallen behind the jagged hills around her and the chill night wind was beginning to snag at her body, pushing it against protruding stones and rocks embedded into the wall. The same wind would soon be stirred into a frenzy by a fierce storm stampeding towards her in thick black clouds.
She had been on assignment in China for the elite Spyforce intelligence agency, to track down the dreaded and mysterious criminal known only as X. He operated a vast and complex network of businesses, some of which were mere fronts for organised crime: crime that swung in its horror from burglary to gun smuggling, even to kidnapping that ended in the handing over of vast sums of money or, sadly, a long and painful death for its victim.
The only way his crimes could be linked was by the discovery of a scarf at the scene of each crime. Woven onto the scarf was an image of a three-headed snake.
X's mark of death.
Once his victims had seen this sign, they were
faced with the certainty of a swift and often painful end.
With some sneaky undercover work, Max had found out X's true identity and that of his next kidnapping victim. However, only seconds away from alerting the Chinese authorities and averting his next potentially deadly crime, she had been captured.
And beside her, flapping ever more furiously in the wind, was a three-headed snake on a red silk scarf.
Max looked up again at her fraying rope. The wind had picked up and she knew that each swing of the rope against the Great Wall brought her closer and closer to plunging into a sloping landscape speared with rough and unforgiving rocks.
As the first drops of rain fell against her face, Max desperately tried to think of a way to escape. Her life couldn't end like this, alone and cold on a forgotten corner of the Great Wall. She had to stop the evil scheming of X and let the world know his true identity, otherwise not only she but his next victims would be plunged into a world of unspeakable fear. A world of fiendish horrors. A world of
âBlue eye shadow or pink?'
Max stopped writing in her Spyforce diary and looked up to face her mother. She was hovering over Max holding two colours of eye shadow and a hefty dose of schoolgirl excitement.
âFor what?' Max asked carefully.
âThe shoot, sweetie. We're about to start but no-one can decide which colour they like best.'
Why ask me? thought Max. She was about the last person in the world anyone should be getting fashion advice from but she had to say something to get her mother's over-excited smile out of her face.
âBlue?' she offered.
Her mother's overly large smile became even wider.
âYou're right. It's the perfect choice.' She stood upright and turned away, calling out, âAngeline, it's the blue!'
Max looked around and sighed. She wasn't hanging suspended by a fraying rope off the Great Wall of China, but sitting at a desk in an office at the TV station where her mother worked. But when Max thought about it, hanging from the Wall about to plummet to her death didn't seem so bad.
They were about to take part in a publicity shoot for a new TV show. Max's mother was in
charge, which meant she had to make the show and its new stars look so fresh and exciting that when the ads went to air, everyone in Australia would want to watch.
All it made Max want to do was run screaming from the building.
She put the lid on her pen, closed her book and wondered if this was what hell was like: full of preening, pouting fakes with over-polished teeth and personality malfunctions. Max hated the whole TV thing but both she and her mother had agreed to spend more time together, and since her mother was so busy, this was one way they could make it happen.
âMax, daaarling. How wonderful to see you.'
The other thing she hated was people acting like they were her best friend when she wasn't sure they'd even met.
you'd be here today. How are you? And school? Have you grown since I saw you last?'
It was Angeline, head of the make-up department. She had long black hair, false eyelashes and enough red lipstick to send a bull charging straight for her â¦ until she bent down and kissed Max on the cheek and left half of it behind.
âMust dash. See you in the studio. Fabulous to see you.'
That was the other thing about people in television. They asked a lot of questions but never stuck around long enough to get any answers. Max had worked out early not to bother trying.
Max took a tissue from her mum's desk, wiped away the lipstick and tried to shake off the sensation that she was about to step into a whole building of poisonous three-headed snakes. Dealing with X would have been a picnic in comparison.
As she walked out of the office, Max did her best to stay upright as people rushed past her like out-of-control cars and trucks, in and out of offices, looking at their watches, shouting orders at people nearby or into mobile phones. Max ducked under a waving arm, swung around a teetering stack of papers and just missed getting hit by a flying shoe. But as good as she was at ducking and weaving, Max couldn't avoid what was coming next.
âMax! Hey! Watch out everyone, babe-alert.'
Max's shoulders sank.
She'd forgotten about Blake Reynolds, host of the network's game show and of one very large ego. He swaggered through the crowd with a skyscraper
opinion of himself and an inability to realise that no-one with any self respect said stuff like âbabe-alert'.
He stopped in front of Max and took hold of her chin. With his minty fresh breath he was saying how she got prettier every time he saw her and how she must have to fight off all the boys and a heap of other boring and mindless one-liners. Max could see Blake thought he was charming, whereas she thought he was a slimeball in need of a good hosing down.
âI bet it's pretty exciting seeing me up this close, but I really am just your regular guy. A lot more good looking, but regular just the same.' He laughed like it was the funniest joke ever told.
âIt's true,' Max said sincerely. âWhich makes it so hard to work out why they're going to cancel your show.'
Blake's face froze into a sculpture of fear.
âThey said something about wanting someone â¦' Max acted like she was struggling to remember the right word. âYounger.'
Blake's calm, composed exterior was replaced by the look of a kid about to throw a tantrum. His bottom lip quivered and his brow wrinkled into a
sea of worry lines. For a moment Max thought he was going to fall to the floor in a screaming heap but instead he pulled his phone from his pocket and began punching in numbers.
He spoke to his agent in a quivering rage. âThey can't do this to me. I'm Blake Reynolds. The world will never stand for it.'
Max's smile fell from her face, however, when she saw her mum heading her way.
âWhat's wrong with Blake?' Her mother shook her head. âHe looks like he's just been told his hairdresser is moving overseas.' And then she giggled.
Max's mouth fell open. In the past, if her mother had found out what she'd just done, the next few days of Max's life would have been filled with a series of hideous and boring punishments. But her mother had been more relaxed about life since her rescue from Blue's kidnapping.
It was as if Max had got back the mum she remembered from when she was a kid, the one who used to smile, make jokes and not freak out over little things.
âWe'd better go.'
Max followed her mother downstairs to the
studio where the shoot was about to begin, but the closer she got, the more her chest felt as if it was being squeezed between two giant pieces of metal. As they approached the ceiling-high double doors of the studio, Max faced a whole circus of people pouting, prancing and bragging about themselves in full surround sound. There was air kissing, hair flicking and enough look-at-me attitude to sink a ship â to sink a whole fleet of ships. And most of them had sunglasses on even though the lights were so dim that Max could hardly see in front of her.
Which would explain why she tripped on the last step and slid across the floor in one long, slow, unceremonious slide.
The room went quiet.
âPlease tell me I didn't just do that,' she whispered into the ground.
âMax? Are you okay?' Her mother raced over and helped her up and, yes, everyone had seen her, had stopped talking and was standing in a circle staring at her.
Max jammed her lips together, trying hard to stifle a hair-lifting scream.
Luckily, she felt her palm computer vibrate in her pocket.
âI'll meet you in there,' she murmured to her mother. She tried to brush away some of the dust her clothes had mopped up from the floor.
âDon't be long,' said her mother. âIt's all about to start. This is going to be really exciting.'
Max loved her mother, she really did, but there were times when she wondered whether they were related.
She turned away to find a quiet corner to talk and pulled out her palm computer. âHello?'
âAh, if it isn't my favourite spy partner.'
At the sound of that voice, the fall, the fashion victims and the fake hairpieces all disappeared.
âLinden!' she shouted as his face appeared on her mini computer screen.
âYes, but I think my hearing was better before I made this call,' Linden winced.
âSorry,' Max apologised. âIt's just that you've saved me from a fate worse than death.'
âI try to save at least one damsel a day,' Linden smiled proudly. âKeeps me on my toes. What's going on?'
âI'm at Mum's work and they're about to do a publicity shoot with a pack of lipstick-wearing wannabes.'
âSo you're fitting right in?' Linden joked. He knew Max didn't think much of her mother's job.
âIt's like I've always belonged here,' Max answered sarcastically.
Linden laughed. âSpyforce have contacted me. There's a new mission they want me to go on.'
Max paused. At the mention of Spyforce, her hands gripped the computer tighter. âYou know I'm out of Spyforce for good, Linden. I've put my family in danger twice being a spy, and I'm not going to do that again.' It had been only a few weeks since she had resigned from the intelligence agency. Leaving had been one of the hardest things she'd ever had to do, but she thought she'd been dealing with it well and hadn't wavered in her decision one bit.
Until Linden's call.
âWhat's the mission about anyway?' She tried not to sound interested, but couldn't help instantly clicking into spy mode.
âNot sure yet.' Linden hesitated. âBut I don't think I'll be able to tell you anyway, now that you're out of the Force.'
âYeah, I guess you're right,' Max answered. âDo you at least know where they're sending you?'
âSteinberger said it will be somewhere in
Europe, but they can't say too much yet. It'll be undercover.'
âSounds great,' Max responded flatly. The last time she went undercover she was forced to wear a frilly pink dress with shiny shoes and long blonde plaits.
It took all her strength not to vomit all over it every time she looked down or accidentally caught a reflection of herself in a polished window or mirror.
âYeah. Should be a good one.' Linden hung on the line in silence. He knew Max was strong-willed and once she'd made a decision she couldn't be talked out of it.
But that didn't stop him from trying. âMax?'
âI â¦ I â¦'
âMax!' Her mother had poked her head out of the studio doors and was waving her over. âIt's about to begin.'
âI better go. Mum's calling. I'm about to face something a lot more dangerous than a Spyforce mission.' Max tried to laugh, but it came out all hopeless and sad-sounding. âCatching those actors' fat-headedness would be a lot worse than catching
any Amazonian sleeping sickness, or suffocating in a pit of compost worms.'
Just thinking back to their mission in the Amazon made her stomach tense up. She and Linden had escaped plane crashes, anacondas, tarantulas and a ride over the edge of a raging waterfall.
And she'd said goodbye to it all.
There was a long pause. âBye, Max.'
There were a few more seconds of silence before Max closed the connection and the call was over.
She looked around her. She knew her decision to leave Spyforce was the right one. It had to be. Max had nearly lost her mum to one of the most evil men in the business; she couldn't risk anything like that happening again.