In those first seven months, Monday through Friday from eight in the morning to four in the afternoon, I spent every hour “training”. It was unlike any job I’d ever had before, where you had an allotted amount of training hours before you were expected to know what you were doing.
At Carnus, they made sure I knew what I was doing, and that I was comfortable. I became familiar with everyone that worked there, shadowing every person for a week, starting in the office. Holly told me I didn’t need to know what they did, but that it’d be helpful for me when I started in the field.
Everyone was so nice, carefully explaining the key details of their jobs, and didn’t mind when I didn’t fully understand. It was the first job where I felt really secure and I knew they weren’t going to send me into anything I wasn’t ready for.
I worked with Warren and Aaron in the first few weeks, learning about Analysis. They shared the workload, processing the information on every case that the field agents took part in.
Next, I worked with Eddie and Felicity, who I learned were also cousins. They must’ve been close as kids, because they bickered back and forth like siblings. Overall I liked my time with them the most.
They dealt with any technical issues in the office, and anything else that needed to be done on the computers, like hacking and tracking down people of interest. I also learned that Eddie made trackers and our earpieces, and that the tech table was Felicity’s baby, and she didn’t like anyone to touch it without her supervision.
I spent the least amount of time with Natalie, which was disappointing because she was really cool. She went over the accounting basics with me, then we just got to know each other while she filled out various ledgers and budgets. I learned that she’d joined the team only six month before me, just after she graduated with a Bachelor’s in Accounting.
“I’m so thankful for Warren. It’s rare to be able to get a job right out of college, especially in accounting.” Natalie said to me one day when the workload was small.
“I agree. I definitely owe this opportunity to my brother, Toby,” I replied.
“I never had the pleasure of meeting him, but I know Warren was very fond of him. Everyone else was, too.” She gave me a soft smile that was comforting, not pitying.
“He was my hero. Still is, to be honest. Working here makes me feel more at home, knowing he spent so much time and energy here, will all these people. It’s silly, but I feel him here more than at home.” I confided to her.
“It’s not silly. I’d feel the same if it were Warren and I. Tell me about Toby.” Natalie said, kicking off her shoes before pulling one leg under herself on her chair. It was nice, having someone to talk to. I never had many friends growing up, never really had anyone to talk to besides Toby and my mom.
“He was the best brother I could’ve asked for,” I started. “We never really fought, like most siblings do. He was literally my best friend. He always acted as my defender, too. He was a witty, fun, sarcastic, take-no-shit kind of guy. He was my biggest fan and supporter, and I was his. I was so proud of him, when he got into the military but part of me was sad and resentful that he was leaving me behind with our parents.” I chuckled softly. “Holly told me that he worked here, and I was stunned. We’d been right in the same town the whole time, and he never told me, never came to see me. I’ll always wonder about that.”
“I’m sure there’s an explanation. He was probably told by his superiors to keep it quiet.” Natalie shrugs. “Maybe you’ll have your answer someday. He sounds like he was awesome. Warren was really academic when we were younger, plus he’s eight years older than me, so it was harder to bond. We’re quite close now though, thankfully. There’s nothing like having a sibling.”
We chatted some more about our lives, childhoods, and our families while we had time together.
Next, I worked with Hugo. That was the training week I enjoyed the least. Hugo was a little insufferable as a person, but his intelligence and capabilities at his job helped me get over his ego. Hugo, head of Cyber security, worked closely with Eddie and Felicity. He worked to keep Headquarters secure, monitoring various camera within and outside. He also programmed the sedans with extra security.
Everyone’s job was a lot more technical than I can ever begin to describe or understand, but I did my best to learn the basics, occasionally jotting down notes in my composition book.
The week I spent with Padva went quickly. She was the Head of Communications, and on the first day, she fitted me with a headset and I got to listen in on all of her conversations, even a few in Russian. I hadn’t realized how important Carnus was, how involved they were in the world, and I hadn’t even known it existed.
Everyday, we all ate lunch together in the kitchen, which was adjoined to the offices on the right. It looked like a farmhouse kitchen, fitting in well with the upstairs. There was a large stainless steel refrigerator, where everyone stored their food. There was a whole drawer inside dedicated to Eddie’s Red Bulls, which he kindly offered to share with me everyday. I only accepted on occasion, I like my heart rate to remain steady thank you very much. There was also a stove, a counter, and one large round table. We joked that we were King Arthur’s Knights of The Round Table, and Hugo insisted that he had to be Lancelot. We continued to call him Ego.
I loved Carnus so much, I began dreading going home everyday. All that was at home for me was silence. My parents didn’t really get on well anymore, so I avoided them the best I could. It all just felt empty. I started staying later each day, chilling with Natalie or Felicity, or anyone else who was hanging around. They really became my family, and accepted me so easily as one of their own.
After spending months in the office, Holly decided it was time for me to have some field action. That’s when I officially met the other field agents; Ben Stoky, Owen Gillis, and Caroline O’Day. I was told that usually the three of them worked together, but some days they changed it up. Everyday varied, some days I shadowed all three of them, or just two of them, or one of them and Jonah. I had the opportunity to get to know the three of them well, Jonas too. I knew the whole Carnus family.
In my fifth month, I learned that there was an office gym attached to kitchen. This was where I started my physical training with Jonas. He let me start off easy with the basic equipment, then as my strength and endurance began to grow, we moved onto harder exercises, something I wasn’t used to. I got a local gym membership and went for an hour on weekends, as to help myself out to so I didn’t embarrass myself too much in front of Jonas.
I’d never been much of a fitness buff before, that was more of Toby’s expertise. Toby used to workout everyday to prepare himself for boot camp, plus he had played football at our high school. He’d convinced me to join him a few times, but I enjoyed being a couch potato a little too much.
That had to change now, so I tried my hardest, going home every day exhausted-but exhilarated too, in a way. I felt better than I had in a long time, physically, emotionally, and mentally. It was okay that I didn’t have support at home, because I had an abundant amount at work.
When I was breezing through our exercises easily, Jonas and I moved onto self-defense techniques and hand-to-hand combat. I sucked at first, because I didn’t want to hit Jonas or inflict pain on him, but after taking many hits of my own, I grew out of that feeling and began trying as hard as I could.
He usually got the best of me, but I got better and better everyday, and everyday brought new and harder tests. I became genuine competition for him. He never let me give up, always teaching me techniques and pointing out what I wasn’t seeing.
Jonas told me that he was impressed with my skill, and how quickly I was learning. In a lot of ways, he reminded me of Toby- and I think that’s why I was so eager to impress him and do well. We grew to be close friends the more we worked together, like I had with everyone else.
Jonas reported my progress to Holly each day, and seven months into my employment with Carnus Investigations, she called me into her office one morning when I arrived. I sat down in the same chair I had sat in all those months ago, much more at ease this time around.
“Jonas has been speaking very highly of you, and I think it’s time we conclude your training and send you officially into the field as his partner.” Holly said, a huge smile spreading across her face.
I couldn’t help beaming back, I’d been eagerly awaiting this day for weeks. Holly reached into her desk drawer and placed five things in front of me; a new ID (now featuring the word “Agent” in front of my name, a secured smartphone, an earpiece, a set of car keys, and a gun.
I eyed the last object warily and Holly rushed to reassure me. “Jonas will be taking the rest of the week to train you with the gun, then your training will be officially complete. Hugo secured the cell phone, so you can use it for work-personally too, if you’d like. Also, consider the remaining sedan as your own”
I could hardly believe it. I thanked Holly profusely and went to find Jonas so we could begin my gun training. I wasn’t totally intimidated, I’d gone hunting before with my grandfather and Toby, but I’d never used a handgun.
We trained hard that week, going around to various shooting ranges to practice. I struggled a bit at first, not being used to the kick of the gun, but Jonas was a patient teacher, telling me different hints and tricks. We returned to Carnus for lunch each day, but returned to the ranges afterward until it was time to call it day. By the end the week, I was proficient with my gun.
Three days later, I was wakened at 3 in the morning by my work phone buzzing wildly. I was immediately vigilant. I picked it up, seeing a text alert that said “Security Breach in progress on Vehicle 413.” It was an alert from the security app Hugo had downloaded on my phone, and vehicle 413 was my sedan, which was currently parked in the driveway- I had left my car at Carnus Headquarter, per the request of Eddie, who wanted to tinker with it in his free time. I jumped out of bed, grabbed my pocket knife, slid my slippers on, and snuck through the house. I peeked out the front window and saw a dark figure crouched down at the driver’s side of my sedan.
I quickly switched on the porch light and saw it was my father, lockpicks in hand. He jumped when the light came on, his head whipping around to the door, which I opened, crossing my arms over my chest. I watched him sheepishly stand up and head towards me.
I would’ve let him just break in, but all of my things from Carnus were in the glove compartment, including my gun and ID. He couldn’t know about those. I backed up as he walked back inside the house, slipping my pocket knife into the pocket of my pajama pants.
“Dad, what do you think you’re doing?” I asked, trying to keep the accusatory tone out of my voice.
He floundered for a moment, clearly unable to come up with a logical explanation. “I don’t think you’re telling us the truth, Penelope.”
“About what?” I asked, outraged.
“About this-this job of yours. I find it a little suspicious that they’ve given you a car, considering it’s an office for a car parts manufacturer.” He accused, crossing his arms over his puffed up chest.
“So you thought the solution was to break into my car? Instead of just asking me about it?” I tried to keep my voice down, not wanting to wake my mother. I could barely contain my wild arm gestures. I’d never been so furious before, especially with him. “And honestly, why do you even own lockpicks? What are you, 007, now?”
“Penny-” Dad started, his shoulders deflating.
“No.” I wasn’t going to let him get away with this, like everything else. “I’m going to move out. You never would’ve distrusted Toby this way, and I’ve done nothing to deserve being treated like a criminal.”
At the mention of Toby’s name, his face hardened and his body stiffened. “You know, I didn’t love Toby as much as you seem to think.”
My jaw dropped, and I felt as though I’d been slapped. How dare he say that. Why would he say that? He’d never spoken a word against Toby, ever. I stormed past him to my room and began packing a bag. I took everything I’d need, along with some clothes until my bad looked like it was going to burst at the seams.
When I came out, dad was sitting in the recliner in the living room, his fingers steepled together over the bridge of his nose. “Penny-” He tried again, sounding defeated.
“I’ll be back soon for the rest of my things.” I said as I walked out the door, not bothering to look back.
“Did you make amends?” Olger asks.
“Of course. Mainly for my mother though. She couldn’t stand that it when anyone fought. I accepted my father’s apology, but I still moved out. We had dinner together every Sunday.” I say, thinking about how much I’d like some of mom’s homemade meatloaf right now. “Dad didn’t ask me about my job again.”
Read the next part!: Let Me Explain: Part Seven