The sound of quick typing echoed throughout the school gymnasium which had been set up for final exams only days ago, and was now being used to further test a lone student. It was unusual. Rather than scrawling out the answers or checking boxes in a government issued booklet, the test was being taken on a computer that looked far too 'state of the art' expensive for such a purpose. Odder still, about 50 additional very expensive looking computers had been promised to the school in time for the coming year.
Mrs Jones, the Principal, crossed her arms at the young boy staring intently at the screen, and fumed inwardly.
He was completely focussed on his task, his fingers pausing only briefly over the keyboard when he'd furrow his brow in thought.
It was too strange. Mrs Jones had been working in education long enough to know that the government didn't just hand out computers of that quality – at least not to schools. She also knew that this was not a normal aptitude test that their young Rodney McKay was being asked to take.
Mrs. Jones had been dead-set against fast tracking a twelve year old boy through Junior and then Senior High. Even if he was a prodigy, he was still just a boy. He needed time to develop normally. Now here he was, barely thirteen years old, graduated from High School only days ago, with far too much knowledge about the world and not enough knowledge of himself. All because that damned science fair project had proven that his subject level was well beyond that which they'd been teaching. The school board had decided to let him pick his own pace and get him out of their school before he could frighten anymore parents.
A handful of men being driven in black cars and wearing black suits and black sun-glasses swooped in yesterday, claiming to work for the Department of Education, no less, and wanting to give Rodney an 'Advanced Aptitude Test'. If they were from the Department of Education then her naked arthritic ass was going to be the next Play-boy centre-fold. Those computers felt like a pay-off of some sort.
"Finished!" the too young graduate stood beside his chair, waiting to be dismissed.
Mrs. Jones smiled reassuringly, "Very good Rodney."
Before she could say more, one of the suited men strode into the gymnasium, "Well done Rodney. You finished that much more quickly than we anticipated and scored very high from what we've seen so far." Mrs Jones arched an eyebrow. The man merely smiled placatingly and mouthed the word 'networking' in her direction. Evidently they had been monitoring Rodney from one of those other computers they had brought with them and set up. She'd be glad when all those wires that now trailed down the hallways were gone. These people were definitely not Department of Education.
The boy brightened at the words of praise and the man smiled too broadly and opened an arm to lead the boy – practically dripping snake-oil to Mrs Jones way of thinking. "Come along then. Our graders are just reviewing some of your more creative answers. We'll have the results shortly." Rodney followed the man without hesitation – his too young face displaying only trust. Mrs Jones followed them down the hall to the library and exchanged looks with the schools petite Biology teacher – Miss Stevenson, and the bulky librarian, Mr Lewis. They both nodded to her and followed Rodney into the library. She refused to think of any of the strangers by the names they had provided. They were an obvious fakes. They'd listed themselves alphabetically, for pity sake. Whoever they were, they were that confident that they couldn't be stopped. That was what frightened her most.
Reassured that Rodney was safely supervised she turned back down the hall and hurried to her office, where three more of the school staff were working to confirm the identity of these claimants.
She found the three leaning against her desk. Cheery plants and sun light streaming into the room were a sharp contrast to the look of defeat on the faces of all three. The plump English teacher became their spokes-person, "They're who they say they are."
"Don't be ridiculous!" Mrs Jones balked.
He raised a placating hand, "I know!" He motioned to the other two, "We know… but I don't know what else to say. The Department called ahead and told us they were coming. People we KNOW personally in the department told us they were coming. They came with the proper identification. The police say there is nothing they can do, based on all that. We have spent the entire morning calling everyone we can think of. They all corroborate. And we've been told in no uncertain terms that if we call the Head-office again we'll all be up for an early review." He started pacing agitatedly, "Whoever these guys are, they're over our heads and they know it."
Mrs Jones put her hands on her hips and huffed but the other man wasn't finished yet, "Heck, Sylvia here even stalled Rodney outside the school by suggesting there were merits in teaching Creationism in a Biology Class. He ranted for an hour!" Come to think of it, Sylvia did look like she had a head-ache. "We've done everything we can." He sighed, regret clear on his face, "Now we are just going to have to take them at their word and let them do whatever it is they've come to do…with supervision of course…"
Agent D, today dubbed Mr Douglas, smiled in a fatherly way as he made small talk about responsibility and using ones mental gifts to better the world. The boy had many interests, and much to say about all of them, which was fine as long as they had time to kill. Agent C, Mr Clarke, had a glint of triumph in his eye when he rose from the computer they'd set up in the library. He was finished checking the results of the test, Douglas surmised. And they were positive, judging by the way Clarke winked and headed out the library doors. He would be headed out to the car to make the call, and await a response.
The woman who was Miss Everton today slid out of the black car and rejoined her partner, Mr Figgs, in the McKay kitchen. He cast a weary look at her.
Mr and Mrs McKay sat at the kitchen table with him, and between those two it seemed like it would be impossible for either agents to get a word in edgewise without shooting them first. Unfortunately, shooting them would defeat the purpose. On the bright side, their mission looked easier minute by ear-bleeding minute. The only thing the McKay's seemed to agree on was that their son was more trouble than he was worth.
The moment the door to the McKay residence had opened they were greeted with, "Oh what has he done now?" followed by the last three hours of listing everything their son had ever done to embarrass or inconvenience them. Of course, it didn't help that both agents already knew everything he'd ever done. From taking apart his Grandmothers piano when he was 4, which they claim gave her the heart attack that killed her two days later, to disassembling some expensive electronics in a store to see how they worked when he was 6, to building a nuclear bomb at 12, and everything in between. Figg's hand was twitching alarmingly on his lap. He wanted his gun.
Thankfully Mrs McKay chose that moment to pause the deluge to ask a question and, this time, wait for an answer. "Well… I suppose we'd better find out what he's done now. Another nuclear bomb is it?" Everton thought they seemed a little hung-up on the nuclear bomb. It was only a model, granted it was a working model...
Figgs just looked at them a moment, as though waiting to see if he truly had permission to speak before venturing, "Well, we at the Department of Education are concerned that his level of knowledge exceeds his capacity for responsibility, given his age. A boy with the ability to build bombs at a whim is naturally a concern to us. He may require more supervision than any two parents… however… dedicated," He forced that last word, "they may be…." He'd put a little too much emphasis on the word 'may' and he winced at himself.
How amateurish. Everton sighed inwardly and stepped in smoothly, "Given the circumstances you have done extremely well. However, as you have seen for a long time now, Rodney presents unique challenges."
Mr and Mrs. McKay nodded their agreement. Everton quickly carried on before they could interrupt, "As such we think it's time the country took a more direct hand in preparing him for the world, and keeping him under control until he is ready…"
Agent Figgs was all too happy to be driving away from the McKay residence. He glanced at Everton as she picked up the car-phone, "That was a little too easy. I can't believe they offered to pay us to take him." He frowned at the briefcase between them, containing the newly signed custody papers which granted the organization full guardianship of the target. The boy was theirs now.
Everton spoke succinctly into the phone, "Fieldtrip is a go," before hanging up and turning to her partner, "Are you actually complaining? We got what we came for. You're lucky I didn't slap you when you suggested they read the contract first."
He rolled his eyes and curled his lips in distaste, "Well, they didn't. Besides, you don't want to have a kidnapping case opened up after all this effort just because they didn't understand what they were doing. The whole point of this charade is to keep them quiet, isn't it? I just think that convincing them to hand over their son should have been a lot harder. I mean, they didn't even ask for ID!" He spat out the words, "We spent time developing contingents. They didn't even call the school!"
"I never would have thought you an idealist," she smiled at him in amusement.
"I just don't like to see decent planning go to waste."
"You got the permission slip ready?"
"Right here," He patted his coat pocket.
Clarke walked back into the library and nodded meaningfully. Mr Douglas nodded at Clarke as the other man re-entered the room and smiled at where the target was now grilling Bakers about the computer hardware they'd been using. The boy had noticed the speed of the computer he'd been tested on and already had some ideas about the design modifications in the unit. Agent B, their tech man, was now packing up the gear while answering question after question. The large librarian hovered protectively, as though Bakers was likely to pick the boy up and pack him in one of the boxes too. It was rather amusing to watch.
"Rodney," Douglas strolled over to the target with a smile for the librarian, "We were very impressed with your results. How would you like to come to our testing centre and take a few more tests? I'm sure we have a few spare computers too. You can take them apart; see what you can do with them."
The targets eyes widened, "Really! You'd let me do that?"
Douglas nodded, "Absolutely!"
The large librarian shot a look at the female teacher who'd been left to help guard. The teacher all but ran out of the room. Douglas smiled. He imagined he knew where she was headed.
Minutes later the elderly principal came storming in. "You can't take him anywhere! No student can be taken anywhere without parental permission no matter if you're from the Department of Education or the Vatican in Rome!"
Agent Douglas smiled calmly and led Rodney to the phone behind the library counter. "We have parental permission. You can call them yourself and see. Here Rodney, dial your home number for us, would you?"
Rodney dialled the phone, "Hey Dad…sorry… ya sorry about that too. I didn't mean to… mmmhmm. No I'm not disrespecting ok…ok…ok…ok…uh Dad? There are these guys here from the Department of Education that want to take me for some tests. Can I go with them? ... You already agreed? ... Sorry… I didn't know… No I don't want to waste your time… No! I didn't build another bomb… what do you mean I'm not your problem anymore? ... I didn't mean to sound lippy… I'm not arguing… I just wondered what… I didn't understand… sorry… ok…" The boys eyes alternated between rolling skyward and wincing. Then he held the phone back up to Douglas. "He hung up."
Douglas looked a bit aghast and sympathetically took the phone back, "He, ah, didn't ask to talk to a teacher?"
The boy shook his head.
"Riiiight then…" He drawled out before turning reluctantly back toward the Principal, "We have a signed permission slip too. It's on its way." Judging from the unrelenting look in the woman's eyes she could be a problem later. A nice natural looking death would have to be arranged. Agent Douglas almost regretted it, he might have if he hadn't already done and seen far worse in his career. He looked back at the target; soon to be a perfect example.