Chapter 9: Grad Work

Grad Work (3)  Ivy was frustrated. Her senior year at Pavo Real High School had finally come to an end. She received her diploma as her family proudly looked on, then went out to party with all of her friends and former classmates. They danced and laughed the night away, and Grayson Tanaka, always the daredevil, showed off in the gyro spinner. Grad Work (5)

Grad Work (7)

“So what are you planning to do next?” Ivy asked him as they danced together.

Grayson shrugged. “Go to U.C. Berkeley. Study business,” he said in a flat tone. “Dad’s paying for it, so, you know…whatevs.” Ivy already knew this, of course. She also knew that what Grayson really wanted to do was study art and run off with his ex-boyfriend, Matias. And that her best friend, Virginia, had dropped out of high school and had spent the last four months delivering sing-a-grams for minimum wage and waiting tables at a local bar (with a fake I.D., of course). Grad Work (4) Grad Work (6)

But the person she wanted to know about most was far more elusive than her other friends. Adao was as difficult to trace as a ghost. She tracked his computer moves, trailed him around town, and even rummaged through his family’s trash can. She knew that he had been spending a lot of time working out at the gym lately.

Adao had been spending a lot of time working out at the gym recently.

Adao had been spending a lot of time working out at the gym recently.

Grad Work (9)

And she knew that he occasionally made purchases at the hardware store and the computer computer component store. The best that she could guess was that he had been building computers. But why would the government be suspicious of something like that? Grad Work (16)  Grad Work (1)

“I’m afraid I can’t answer that,” said her contact, J. T. “It’s not in my clearance. I only know that he is under suspicion by DHS, and that they want more information.”

Ivy knew that she had to get closer. But ever since their outing to Five Flags last October, Adao had been steering clear of her.

Two weeks after graduation, the opportunity presented itself. She had been searching the Rocha-Morinho family’s mail for clues, when suddenly, she heard the front door open. She slammed the mailbox shut and leaped away just as Adao appeared. At first he squinted at her through his glasses, puzzled. Then he broke into a grin. “Ivy!” he said. “Hey, we haven’t talked in ages! How are you?”

Grad Work (11) Grad Work (10)

Ivy was stressed. Worried that she wasn’t doing her job well. And annoyed that she still had no clue what Adao was doing. But she settled for, “I’m fine. But cold. Brr!” She gave an exaggerated shiver.

Adao took the bait. “Well come on in and warm up.” His grin stretched even wider as he threw open the front door. Ivy kept up the act, rubbing her hands together and blowing on them as she followed him inside. “Hey, I know,” said Adao, “I’ll make us some cocoa. Or tea?”

“Cocoa’s fine.” Ivy waited as Adao sauntered into the kitchen, whistling to himself. Then she began to sneak about the house, opening doors and peering into cabinets, looking for signs of something, anything strange.

Grad Work (12)Grad Work (15)

“Marshmallows?” Adao called out from the kitchen.

“Um…sure!” Ivy called back. Then she darted into a corridor which contained stairs leading down to a basement. Without hesitating, she raced down the steps, then felt around on the wall until she found the light switch.  Grad Work (14)

For a moment, she stood there, blinking. Beside an ordinary woodworking bench, there was a large, shiny, egg-like structure. All around it were scraps of metal and what appeared to be some type of robots. Was Adao into making battlebots? That wasn’t too unusual. And she knew that the egg-shaped structure was just a fancy type of robot-building unit. The only unusual thing that she could see in the basement was a door, which was barricaded shut by a heavy wooden table. Grad Work (2) Grad Work (18)

“I wonder,” she said aloud, as she crossed the room and shoved the table aside , “what could be behind door number two?” She twisted the knob and opened up the door. Her eyes widened. “What the hell?

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