Prologue

The five children sat at the table in the tree house, Numbuh Three seated at the head of the table, a cake sat in front of her with exactly eleven candles set in it to form the number 3. The fire of the candles illuminated the girl's delighted face, her smile spread from ear to ear. The other four began to sing in unison, "Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you! Happy birthday dear-"

The voices were cut off by a deafening explosion. Five faces, moments ago carefree, turned firm and ready. They reached under the table and each picked up a weapon. They jumped onto the table and pointed their weapons expectantly to the ceiling, waiting for some sort of villain to leap through and try to destroy them. Instead, the table lurched, sending all five flying in seperate directions.

Fire was suddenly all around them, burning through the walls, ceiling, and floor. Dried leaves and twigs burnt quickly, computers sparked and sizzled all around them. The smell of burning wood and rubber filled the children's noses.

Numbuh One crawled across the floor, legs numb, hands burnt. His sunglasses had fallen off somewhere, one of his shoes was lost under a fallen board of wood. He could hear sounds of explosions all around him. He knew the computers were the source of most of the noise, but there were explosions from outside as well. He screamed as he saw a branch the length of his room and the width of all five children laying on their backs shoulder to shoulder, falling right above him. He couldn't move in time, so he covered his head and closed his eyes, then muttered something no one was meant to hear.

Numbuhs Two through Five had met together in the hallway.

"Where's Numbuh One?" Numbuh Five asked frantically. Numbuh Four looked down the hallway, toward the room they had just left.

"He's probably still down there!" the blonde boy exclaimed. As he began to run down the hallway, a hand caught him on the hsoulder. He looked into the eyes of the small Japanese girl, just turned eleven.

"Please," she whispered, "Would Numbuh One want us to try to risk our lives to save him? I think..." she looked down, tears forming in her eyes, "I can't do it." The girl started down the hallway, toward Numbuh One.

It was too late. Fire burned through the hallway, weakening the floor. Numbuh Three let out a strange squeak, then fell through the floor, followed by Numbuhs Two, Four, and Five. The tree house burned. It was lost and so was everything else inside.

The four children, dazed, walked around the remains of their beloved tree house. A small groan caught Numbuh Five's attention. She ran toward the sound and uncovered small twigs and remains of weapons, layers of ashes, to see the form of Numbuh One. A huge branch covered both his legs.

"Numbuh One?" she asked hopefully, her face breaking into a small smile. Numbuh One weakly opened his eyes and returned the smile, then fell asleep.