Today we are featuring Inklings Book Contest 2022 finalist Millen Shah! Millen finished 5th grade this past school year and submitted a story called “The Doomsday Search.”  We really enjoyed his story. Our judge had this to say about Millen’s piece: “I loved how exciting and adventurous this spy story was! The plot line was complex and well-developed, keeping the reader guessing with all the clues. It also had a great message about climate change, and showed a very impressive grasp of world geography.” Enjoy!

By Millen Shah


Saturday, January 28 ✴ Noam’s Perspective ✴ 10:00 PM

“Stop right there!” shouted a mysterious voice in the shadows. 

We assumed it was our trainer, Antarctica, so we sauntered over to him.

 “What are you kids doing outside in the middle of the night?” 

“Training to be a spy,” I said. 

“I know you want to get to your first mission fast but you need some rest, besides why are you doing stuff outside our property? MI6 or the CIA could catch you any second!” he replied.  

“Can I run around inside the mansion to simmer down my athletics?” I asked.

“No,” Ant strictly replied, “You’ve already done a five-mile sprint today.”

We all followed Ant, short for Antarctica, inside our Fingerhut Mansion in Hamilton, Bermuda. My name is Noam, and I have a twin brother named Soam. We live with another set of twins. One is a girl, Euro, and the boy is Austri. We all have different skills. I am the one who can do athletic moves. I’ve been running since I was a toddler. Soam can hack. Back at Engelberg Academy, I saw Soam hack an online math test and get all the answers right! The teachers didn’t realize a thing! Euro can trick people like a magician. Euro likes to borrow people’s keys and see what’s locked up. He returns them to the people without them even knowing. Austri can camouflage herself. For example, yesterday she camouflaged as a brick on the floor and then made me trip! Right now we are in a highly secure mansion. Let me explain why. A short while ago the MI6 and the CIA were recruiting agents to help them create profitable fuels, but the fuels would cause more greenhouse gasses. They found us and tried to draft us, so we escaped from the academy. That’s when Ant followed us out. 

“I will protect you guys wherever you go,” he promised later. 

As we were escaping, we discovered each other and hid in this incredibly safe mansion that my parents had owned before they died. All of our parents were spies and killed on missions. We also decided we couldn’t keep our real names, so Ant suggested we have continents as our names. We quickly adjusted and Ant started training us. It has been a year and a half since then and a lot has changed. We have bonded with Ant and he is like family to us. We haven’t been on any missions so far, but we are training hard. Family is more important than anything.

After Ant called us back inside the mansion, we all went to bed. I did twenty push-ups for my bedtime routine, just to fall asleep. We didn’t know we were that tired, nor did we know the series of events that was about to come. 


 Sun, Jan 29 ✴ Ant’s Perspective ✴ 4:00 AM

Every morning I look at the news on the internet. Most of the time it is usual news about the U.S. President making speeches or protest marches. But this morning something was gaping its mouth open waiting to be read. The article read, “Someone has broken into the FBI and has stolen top-secret information, and is now leaking it to other countries. The criminal has not yet been identified, even by the best agents at the CIA. The FBI will offer up a $100,000 reward if you find out who it is and report them.”

 I thought for a few minutes. This could be the first mission for the crew, but are they ready? It took another few minutes but the answer came quietly in my mind, Yes. 


Sun, Jan 29 ✴ Soam’s Perspective ✴ 8:00 AM  

“Kids, I’ve got some really big news for you, so brace yourselves,” Ant said, “This morning I got the news that there is a big problem for the FBI, and they will offer a $100,000 reward to whomever can find the traitor who is leaking FBI documents to other countries. What do you think? First mission?” 

“Our first mission!” Noam exclaimed.

“Let’s go!” Austri chanted.

“We could also use the reward money to fight against climate change!” I pointed out.

Ant added, “You’ve got to understand, this mission will require very hard work and incredibly good spying, it will be the hardest mission you will encounter in a while. That is, if you’re in.” 

“We’re in!” exclaimed Euro. 

Ant reported, “Ok, once I get details about this I will give you the mission plan.”

We all nodded and went up to our rooms. My room is filled with Chelsea FC pennants. I also have a computer made for hacking called Sono. I use her when I need to do hacking. Though this time I need her to find out the specs of what is happening with the FBI. Once I got on, I started browsing. Eventually, on this third-party site, I found what had happened. It was bad! The person had leaked very important documents about the upcoming plans for NATO and more. We were going to have to get devious for this mission. Because the news was already out, the culprit must have stopped. Since I wanted to impress Ant on this mission, I wanted to find a starting point for the search. Sono made it quick. 

She browsed everywhere, and finally, in the Amsterdam News she reported, “The President of the Netherlands has been hacked. The man has police records in “Ifelmottobaivilob.” We don’t know for sure what that means, and it is all scrambled up.” 

Exactly what I need! I needed to have a lead on where we should start. 

“Guys!” I called. Everybody rushed up to my room. 

“What is it?” Euro wondered aloud. He was very curious. 

“It’s a clue!” I shouted, scanning the article for more. 

Ant jumped on it, “What’s the clue, Soam?”

I shared, “The President of the Netherlands has been hacked. The police records are in ifelmottobaivilob. The name is scrambled. I just found this on the website.” 

“How do you know that’s true?” Austri questioned.

“Because the Amsterdam Times said this,” I explained. “The Amsterdam Times’ 

articles are checked by the world news organizations before they get published.”

“Oh no! That means a lot of people in the world know about this.” Noam quickly 

realized that a breach like that could shut down entire governments.

“We must start quickly if we want to beat everyone, especially the President,” Ant pointed out. Everybody rushed to their rooms with copies of the code that had the mixed-up country on it. I also gave everybody a code helper that helps you understand the code and gives you advice. “What could this be?” I pondered, studying the paper with the code.   

“What countries have ivi in them?” I muttered to myself.

“Bolivia!” a voice shouted.

“Noam? You’ve been eavesdropping the whole time?” I quizzed. 

“Yes, sorry. I just wanted to help and I didn’t know where to start.”

“C’mon in, and let’s work together.” I eased up my mood a bit.

After a half-hour of unscrambling, we figured it out. Ifelmottobaivilob=Bolivia Bottom

Left. I also figured out the country without Noam. Bolivia Bottom Left = Chile.


Sun, Jan 29 ✴ Austri’s Perspective ✴ 6:30 PM

“Chile? Wouldn’t that be too obvious for the culprit?” Euro asked.

“Well, Chile is pretty big,” Noam responded.

“Yeah,” Soam agreed.

“Let’s put away the mainland talk,” I piped, thinking it would have to be a very remote place to hide a well-known criminal. “Chile also has many islands, but none are very famous though…” I trailed off in thought. Then I started laughing. I had the answer the whole time! I just hadn’t thought hard enough. Easter Island.


Mon, Jan 30 ✴ Euro’s Perspective ✴ 7:00 PM

After all the growling had stopped, Austri announced what she had been thinking, “Then Easter Island is the place we need to go.” 

She explained the whole thing to us. But, Ant did not look that convinced. “You need some evidence to back it up.”  

“Like what?” Austri pushed back, “I have all the evidence I need.”

“Try to intercept some signals or find more evidence from the President,” Ant continued. “You guys wanted a mission, and you got one, so use the skills I taught you.

We all nodded and headed to Soam’s room to use Sono, his super hacker.

“I have an idea. Let’s get signals from the President’s house and try to track where the culprit is going,” Noam suggested. 

I added, “Remember when we did intercepting signal practice? I was trying to intercept a signal from Austri’s room, then I tricked her like Houdini and saw some of the photos on her computer. 

“Yeah! We could try to intercept photos from his computer too!” Soam exclaimed.

Soam was hacking into the President’s network when an alert came up. “You are entering a private network that only the President and government officials can enter. Why are you entering?” 

I replied, “We are only trying to access the time and the place of the magician performance tomorrow. We live in Amsterdam and want to attend.” 

The screen went black and white. Then two words appeared on the screen, “Access Granted.” 

“I knew you had a knack for deception,” Soam said.

Just like that, everybody was cheering for me. They held me in the air like Superman. I was flying! Soam got back to work, and in a few minutes a picture came up on the screen. It was a picture of the man posing next to an Easter Island statue. He wore an Iceberg t-shirt, hat, and tattoos. Now we were up and rolling.


Mon, Jan 30 ✴ Noam’s Perspective ✴ 7:00 PM

Just like that, we were boarding the plane to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta. We had fake passports and travel IDs. From there we would fly directly to Santiago, Chile, then on to Mataveri International Airport in Easter Island. The trip would take a day. I was going to do some research on the plane, but I got too tired and dozed off.

The next day when we arrived, Euro, Austri, and Ant immediately checked the police records at the police station. Soam looked around for clues and I checked the location of the President. He was on the way from Santiago to Mataveri, so we needed to act quickly. I was trying to find the others when I spotted a man getting through security. He looked exactly like Iceberg Man in the photo we hacked from the president! I sprinted like lightning into the airport while calling Ant. 

“What’s up Noam?”

“I spotted Iceberg Man going through security! I need a boarding pass.”

“On it,” Ant replied.

That’s how things work in the spy business. Before I knew it, I was cutting the line. My athletic skills allowed me to stride right in and time it perfectly when the woman was looking back. I got through security and kept acting normally while watching the culprit. Then I felt a tap on my shoulder. I twirled around ready to fight. It turned out to be Ant and the rest of the crew. We did a silent and quick head nod and went back to watching Iceberg Man. We saw him open his passport and look at his name. We gasped. It was  Jimmy Jawalker, the head of federal documents at the FB!. Ant and I shared a look. We read each other’s minds; perfect undercover identity. We followed him for a little while, but then Iceberg Man started running wildly. He had probably spotted us. He was running so crazily that he hadn’t noticed that he had dropped his travel notes. I made smooth long strides to pick up the envelope before anyone else, and we left the airport to avoid suspicion. The envelope was surprisingly heavy. 

“Nice job, Noam! Your super strides saved us again!” Ant complimented. “Now, open the travel plans.”

I opened it carefully like I was taking the clothes off a baby. Then everyone got quiet,

“Go here,” I read. “Oh, and it looks like it contains a seed from somewhere,” and I held up the seed from the envelope.

“From where?” Austri asked.

Soam had a major breakthrough. “We just need to identify the place where the seed comes from, and the place where this seed comes from is where Iceberg Man is going!”

“Let’s get cracking!” Euro whispered, no pun intended. 

We took a cab to Hanga Roa and reserved a spot at Kabaka’s soundproof and secure private rooms. Once inside, I typed, Seed Tracker. One thing came up, “Take a picture of your seed and we will identify where it came from. CEED approved. Trackseedy approved.” I clicked the link and a camera came up, I took a picture, then it asked me to take one from every angle, I did that too, then it went to the search screen. It only took five minutes. The result was Svalbard Seed Bank. Also known as The Doomsday Vault, Norway! The Norwegian government wanted to make a seed vault to protect seeds to replant crops if a doomsday event were to happen. We booked flights from Easter Island to Santiago, then on to Sao Paulo. After that, we’d go to Oslo and then to an island off the coast named Svalbard. 


Thurs, Feb 3 ✴ Euro’s Perspective ✴ 8:00 AM

Two days and seventeen hours later, we arrived. It was an icy day in Svalbard, Norway. The wind was blowing like a leaf blower, it was freezing cold and the forecast predicted severe snowstorms in the coming hours. Since we had boarded exactly two hours and forty minutes after Iceberg Man left, he had the time to get to the seed vault way before us. The seed vault was ten minutes away from the airport, so convenient for Iceberg Man. We drove there and registered to visit. 

“Why are you here?” the counter woman questioned. 

“We are here to visit and see the wondrous traits of the seeds. For example, the lines and col…” I got cut off. 

“Access Granted,” the counter woman declared abruptly. 

We were off and into the home of Iceberg Man.


Thurs, Feb 3 ✴ Austri’s Perspective ✴ 8:30 AM

It was scary, very scary. We had yet to meet a real villain. I was shaking and Euro looked petrified. We saw the rows of seed trays and the different colors, the plant names were on labels that stuck to the trays. It was empty and quiet in the vault. Then the quiet broke. 

“Oh my god! I have an idea!” Soam exclaimed in a whisper, “We can find the room where the seed is stored, and see if Iceberg Man is hiding in there. What are those red ropes hanging from the ceiling?”

“Great idea Soam,” I replied. “That rope is an emergency rope in case the room gets flooded, it would pull the seed trays up to a safe and thin compartment hidden in the loft of the roof.”

Soam nodded. We continued on, quietly walking so no one could hear us coming. Then I spotted a door marked “Seed Storage”. Light shone through the door cracks.

“Over here,” I whispered to the crew. 

We went to the door. The locked door had a label with a code on it. The code was a mixture of numbers and words. We figured the numbers were for the room. The letters were s-d-o-p. Then I noticed something, because of my camouflage skills, I perceived a seed camouflaged on the door. Then there were three other seeds. Four. That is a special number in the world of spying. That means a-d on the secret decoding cipher disk. I quickly solved the puzzle, palm. We were all quiet as I opened the door and walked inside. The room was heated and had a really cool display of seeds. I was admiring them when I heard a voice.

  “Ah, I see you have found me!” 

We turned around to discover Iceberg Man stepping out of the storage room, “I want to settle this with peace,” he offered.

Peace? With all you’ve done?” I shot back.

“You are very smart kids, but in a few minutes it won’t matter,” he forewarned.

I motioned for everyone to remain silent, I pointed to my body which meant I saw something that was camouflaged. Then, I pointed to the door. There was an emergency call button that camouflaged right into the password. This meant if anyone typed in the right password, then security would automatically be called. It also meant security was on the way. The others got the idea and gave me a thumbs up. 


Thurs, Feb 3 ✴ Soam’s Perspective ✴ 8:45 AM

You know that feeling when you are on the brink of success and then you’re not? That is what I’m feeling right now. The team and I were so close to capturing the criminal, but then Austri had to point something out. We hadn’t planned on what to do if we found Iceberg Man! Iceberg Man retreated to the storage room and climbed high up into the loft.  

“I have an idea,” I told the group. “First step, cut the emergency seed rope and attach it to the ceiling. Then pull yourself up to the loft and corner him. Take hold of his arms and cuff him.”

Noam did as told. We hoped it would work. We agreed to be silent. We heard the door creak and were expecting security to arrive. We were ready to nab this guy without fighting, figuring we would negotiate with him.

“How and why did you guys come here?” a gruff Norwegian voice asked. It turned out to be Iceberg Man’s accomplice.

 “We have him cornered, and security is on the way, so don’t try to run.” Soam sternly challenged. 

The backup man was cooperative. “What do you want from me?” 

“We will offer you a compromise. Tell us how you’re helping Iceberg Man, and we will tell the judge to shorten your sentence,” Soam advised. 

“That would be wonderful, but considering you…” the Norwegian started to say. 

“I’ll do it,” Iceberg Man blurted from the top of the loft. We hadn’t heard from him in a while and it startled us.

“Spill it,” I demanded.

Iceberg Man began to confess, “I stole the documents by getting a person from the FBI to hack for me.” 

“Who?” I asked.’

“Jimmy Jaywalker,” he confessed. 

We had all the links to the crime and had identified the culprits, and we just needed to report it to the police. We left Iceberg Man handcuffed in the loft, being guarded by security. We rushed out of the seed bank and took a cab to the Svalbard Police Station. We shared information about the criminal activity. They transferred the case to the FBI and put us on the phone with them. We explained the situation and Iceberg Man’s confession. They told us to hand the phone back over to the Svalbard police. 

We breathed a sigh of relief. First mission accomplished! At this point, we were cold, starving, and tired. As a reward, they put us at the Svalbard Hotell- “The Vault” for a night and fed us a dinner of Kjøttkaker, or meatballs and cabbage.


Fri, Feb 4 ✴ Noam’s Perspective ✴ 1:00 PM

The FBI left. We had done it! I felt heroic! We worked with the FBI and confirmed with the criminals. Iceberg Man’s actual name was Alika Sojon. The helper was Shrendsing Chercster. Alika Sojon was sentenced to jail for ten years, but Jimmy Jaywalker and Shrendsing Chercster were sentenced for thirty years because they didn’t cooperate and confess.

We got a $100,000 reward from the FBI. Just like Soam suggested, we donated the money to organizations fighting climate change. Then we just wanted to relax. We were heading back to the hotel when we spotted two gentlemen who were tipping their hats to us. They stopped us to hand us a certificate. We thought they would stay and talk, but they just headed off. The certificate, which had photos, said,  Keep it up! You are our heroes! 

Glancing at the certificate, I recognized one of the faces in the photos. “Guys! One of those gentlemen was the new director of federal documents at the CIA!” I handed it over to Ant to look at it.

“You’re right,” Ant replied and handed the certificate back to me.

I studied it closer, then smacked my face.  Of course! It had his signature on it

We all laughed. 

“We all could have done better spy work,” Soam asserted.

“True, we need to train more,” I added.

“Still, we shouldn’t devote all our time to spying. We have each other,” Austri pointed out. 

I stared at my new family and whispered my favorite motto to myself, “Family is more important than anything.” 

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