Note: Yes, I actually did manage to update. I know this is probably a HUGE surprise, and please, no one have a stroke. That would really be a bummer for me.
I haven't had much time to write (granted, it's been years ...literally ...oops) - but I've got this to try to make it up to you all! I'm in college now, and I have an internship at a radio station, so I'm not going to always be able to update on a regular basis. However, I promise to keep working on this one!
Now, on to the story!
Lisa began to nod, but stopped. "You have to promise to answer my questions."
"You're not going to just let it slide, are you?" J sighed.
"I'm every bit as stubborn as you are." Lisa replied. "I'll argue with you until my face turns blue, if that's what it takes."
"Miss, I give my word that we will tell you why we are here and do our best to answer any other questions you have, but this isn't the place or the time. You need to calm down first." Chieftain spoke calmly and offered his hand to shake and seal the agreement.
Lisa paused, as if considering any possible drawbacks to the offer, and after a short amount of time, reached out and shook his hand. "Keith, if you're planning on sticking around here, you're going to want to come up with a story for everyone. I don't think that telling them you've become a part of a supposedly fictional organization will be taken well."
J shuddered. "You're probably right about that. I'm planning on going to visit my parents tomorrow, so I have a while before I need to have a story for them, but your mom will be home soon, won't she?"
"No, she's working on something big at the office. It might be hours before she comes home, so you should probably go see your parents now."
"I can't take much more time in the car … especially not with Chief's tunes …" Spin moaned.
"Fine, we can get a hotel room and leave you there." Chieftain chuckled. "It's no skin off my back."
Lisa pinched the bridge of her nose and groaned. "Please tell me that you guys have hotel reservations."
"Why would we do that?" J spoke cautiously. "It would be lying."
Lisa groaned. "There's a huge medical convention, a concert, and the State Fair in town. The only rooms you'll find are probably dumps! Haven't you ever heard of planning ahead?"
"I've heard it mentioned … but it didn't seem like it would jive with my style." Spin grinned. "Besides, J was supposed to make a list of everything that we'd need."
"Ugh … why am I not surprised?" Lisa shook her head. "Keith, c'mere for a sec." Lisa took a few steps away and the elder cousin followed. "Why do I get the feeling that you planned this?"
"I've got two theories." J grinned. "One; you're overly suspicious, or two; I did, but only to a degree. I didn't know that the convention was this week."
Lisa growled, struggling to not serve up a backhand. "You're planning on staying here." It wasn't a question.
"It's here or in the car."
"I hate you …" Lisa sighed. "There's a fold-out couch in the basement and we've got an air mattress, but Mom still might decide to kick you three out."
"Well, we can deal with that if and when it happens." J called to his companions with an arm wrapped around Lisa's shoulder. "We can stay here!"
She slipped out of his reach and made her way back up the sidewalk. "I hope you can still find the basement. If you can't, I'm sure you'll be able to encourage yourselves until you do."
Erica waited next to the door for Lisa. "So … what's the deal? Those other two guys look kinda familiar, don't they?"
"Eri … just … I'm going to my room. Talk to Keith if you want to know what's going on, okay?" Lisa sighed and made her way up the nearby stairs, en route to her bedroom.
"Alright … hmph … a moody sister … wonderful ..." Erica grumbled as the door opened. "Once again, this is your fault, Keith."
The agent groaned. "I know. You aren't going to join the hate club too, are you?"
"I won't if you make supper." Erica suggested with an angelic smile. "Who knows, maybe your cooking will be enough to get Lisa to eat."
"She hasn't been eating? How long has this been going on?"
"Well, she only started again recently." Erica winced at Keith's pained expression. "Right … you didn't know … after you, let's say 'disappeared', Lisa hardly slept. It took a lot of convincing to even get her to eat. One time she nearly wound up in the hospital, but after that, she seemed to snap out of it."
Keith shook his head. "I guess that explains more of her attitude."
Quick, uneven footsteps heralded the coming of someone else. "Hey, dawg, ya mind unblocking the door?" Spin begged plaintively. "I'm dyin' here. These bags are heavy!" He grinned awkwardly when he noticed Erica. "Oh … heh … hi …"
Erica eyed the baggage suspiciously. "You guys are staying here? Haven't you ever heard of a hotel?"
"Yes, but we didn't think we'd need reservations to get a room with summer over. Lisa told us about all of the stuff going on in town and that she was pretty sure we wouldn't be able to get a decent room, so … here we are."
"Keith … oh man …" Erica laughed. "Here, I'll help you out. Give me one of those bags."
"Thanks!" Spin smiled gratefully and gave up possession of a pair of duffle bags. "The name's Neil, by the way."
"Erica. Follow me." She led the rookie off, the pair still chatting happily.
"You going to be able to handle this?" Chieftain asked, arriving with the last of the bags.
"I think so … but you'll have to ask me again when this is all over." J admitted. "Let's go."
Lisa frowned. It was now somewhere close to nine o'clock, her mom wasn't home yet, and the laughing downstairs made it impossible to stay in a bad mood.
Finally, her curiosity got the better of her, and she crept downstairs.
The three agents and Erica were seated in various locations radiating around the TV. Each held a Wii-mote in his or her hands, had their eyes focused on the screen, and had plates with the remains of pizza and cans of pop within arms' reach.
Lisa sat down on an unoccupied section of couch and watched. Now she could see which game they were playing. Super Smash Brothers … go figure.
Kirby slams link off of the platform. He's done for; no more lives left. Yoshi gets bashed with Kirby's hammer. He's gone too. Zelda comes up from behind and manages to get a few hits in. Kirby jumps high in the air and falls on Zelda in his rock form. The round is over; Zelda is done for as well.
The TV screen proclaimed Kirby the winner and moved on to the scores.
Kirby – 30 wins
Zelda – 4 wins
Yoshi – 2 wins
Link – 0 wins
"Who's Kirby?" Lisa asked with a poorly concealed snicker.
"David." Erica answered with a pout and gestured toward Chieftain. "I'm Yoshi, Keith is Link, and Neil is Zelda."
Chieftain smirked as the next round loaded. "You don't mess with the Lone Star State or the Star Warrior."
"I'm done." Erica announced, pausing the game. "Here ya go … get your butt kicked for a round or two, might do you some good." She passed her controller to Lisa and left.
"Okay, let's do this." Lisa smiled uneasily, feeling awkward around the agents.
"Hold on. You didn't have supper yet, right? There's extra pizza in the refrigerator if you're hungry." Keith offered.
"No thanks, I'm not hungry."
Spin gave a happy whoop as Lisa un-paused the game. "That being said, let's play!"
J re-paused the game. "Go eat something." He said more forcefully. "Erica told me you ate next to nothing today."
"I told you, I'm not hungry. Besides, I ate when I came home from school early."
"Am not, and if I was, you couldn't prove it."
"Lisa, you're being immature. Starving yourself won't accomplish anything."
"What are you babbling about? I'm absolutely and totally fine!"
"Both of you shut your traps." Chieftain ordered. The cousins continued to glare at each other, but obeyed. "Now, I'll win one more round of this, and then you," he pointed at Lisa ", are going to have something to eat." Chief held up a hand as Lisa started to protest. "I'm not finished. While you eat, we'll answer your questions. Seem fair enough?"
The scowl on Lisa's face slowly morphed into an impish grin. "No, because I'm going to win this round."
"Like I said," Chieftain's laughter rumbled through the kitchen ",I won one more round. So now it's chow time for you."
"I almost beat you." Lisa reminded the black-haired agent with a grin as she threw a slice of cold pizza on a plate and popped it into the microwave.
"Almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades." J quipped sourly.
Spin chuckled and jabbed at J's side. "It was only a game. No reason to be a whiner."
"Anyway …when do I start getting my answers?" Lisa asked, apprehension obvious in her voice.
"After you've had a bite or two."
"Fair enough." Lisa agreed as she poured herself a glass of milk.
The microwave dinged. "Grub time." J retrieved the plate and passed it to Spin, who in turn, slid it in front of Lisa.
"Okay," Lisa began, swallowing a bite. "The game …how 'real' is it?"
"Depends on exactly what you're talking about. Some aspects are totally fictional, but there are others that are pure fact." Chieftain paused until Lisa took another bite of pizza. "For example, we rarely encounter our target directly. Also, the number of agents responding to a situation varies, depending on the importance or difficulty of the mission."
She nodded thoughtfully. "Rhombulans?"
"Fake." J laughed.
"What about the whole 'Agents aaaaaare goooooooo!' shtick?" Lisa grinned.
"The Commander hates it – we put it in there as a gag."
"Does everyone get a code-name?"
"Nah, only Responders get them."
Lisa paused, watching the three carefully. "Responders are …a type of agent? That's what you guys would be considered?" They nodded. "Then what other types of agents are there?"
"Well, some work mainly in the tech department, others in mechanics, and some in music. Then there are some older agents who aren't ready to retire – they serve as teachers or as other support staff."
"Then what about the Divas? Where do they fit in, or are they even 'real'?"
"They're a much smaller sub-section of about 50 Responders. Foxx, Missy, and Starr are the most experienced of all the Divas. They usually respond to the most sensitive situations, as long as it wouldn't be putting them into danger."
"As a division of women, the Divas are generally more attuned to the emotions of others, and therefore are more able to assist in delicate situations." Chieftain added, sensing another question before it came.
"You said 'a much smaller group of 50 Divas' …then how many 'normal' Responders are there?"
The three agents met glances. "I dunno, what do you think?" J scratched his head.
"No idea." Spin shrugged. "I still keep managing to bump into new people."
"Somewhere between five and seven hundred should be a safe bet." Chieftain finalized.
Lisa's eyes bulged as she coughed on a chunk of not-quite-chewed pepperoni. "Come again? Seven hundred?"
"Give or take. If you think about it, that's not very many, considering the area we cover."
"Do I even want to hear this?"
"North, Central, and South America, and the eastern halves of Europe and Africa; the rest of the planet is the responsibility of the Ouedan."
"They're real too?"
"Do you guys work with them often?"
"Not really. Our 'territories' really don't create a need for that."
Lisa nodded once again and tried to think of another question. Sure, she had one that was burning in her throat worse than a jalapeño pepper, but it could also make or break everything. Pandora's box. I'm going to have to let all of the little nasties out sooner or later. Maybe it will be better to have everything out in the open. She narrowed her eyes at J. "Okay, you knew this one was coming, and I don't want any lies. What are you doing he-"
"Lisa? Erica? Whose car is out front?" An adult woman's voice called from the vicinity of the front door.
Lisa dashed from the kitchen. "I'll be right back."
"She was gonna ask what we're doing here." Spin hissed in a panicked whisper.
"Probably, but like she said, we knew it was coming. I'm surprised she didn't ask sooner. What's the problem?"
"Well, what are we gonna tell her?"
"Only thing we can – the truth."
Note: Dun dun DUUN! I hope that was somewhat satisfying for all of you! Let me know what you thought! Reviews are what made me start writing again!