The future looked nothing like they had imagined.
In fact, the future didn't look that much different. The same houses lined the streets, children played hopscotch on the sidewalk and rode bikes up and down the streets yelling happily, and the same smell of bonfire filled the summer air.
Even their tree house didn't seem to have changed a bit. From the outside the tree house appeared untouched, right down to the painted numbers on the sides.
When they asked why the operatives hadn't replaced the numbers 1-5 with 15-19, the future operatives just shrugged.
"Not worth the effort." said Ben, and the topic was dropped.
Once in the tree house, the other operatives wandered off to different parts of the tree house, leaving Becca to lead Sector V to the main room and make them as comfortable as circumstances would permit.
Sector V was dying to get the rescue mission going, but, as Becca pointed out, if they tried to rescue Rachael right away, they'd be doing exactly what the Numbuhless One expected them to do, and thus playing right into his hands. It was with great reluctance that Sector V settled themselves in the main room, uneasily taking in the surroundings – so similar, yet so different from theirs.
"Um..." said Hoagie, interrupting the awkward silence that had fallen on the operatives. "The future's not as um, terrible looking as I thought it'd be."
"We've gotten better at covering our tracks." muttered Becca ominously. "The future might not look as bad as we told you it is, but trust us, it's worse."
"That's...cheerful." muttered Hoagie as Becca headed towards the door.
"I'll be in my workshop." said Becca "Please make yourself at home."
The door clicked shut behind her, the silence once again descending over the room.
"We need to talk."
Chelsea flinched as she glanced up from her book. Ross was standing in her doorway, his arms crossed against his chest, a serious expression on his face.
"Whatever." said Chelsea focusing her eyes back on the book, her cheeks uncharacteristically red. Her bed creaked as Ross settled himself next to her, his legs swinging over the sides. They sat in silence, Ross's legs swinging back and forth, Chelsea's grip on the book getting tighter and tighter, until at last she let out a huff and tossed the book to the floor.
"I'm not sorry." said Chelsea, arms across her chest. Ross nodded.
"Didn't expect you to be."
"Then why are you here?" asked Chelsea. Ross sighed.
"I just want to know why you don't trust Becca." shrugged Ross. "Ever since you met her, you've had something against her."
"Wh..." mumbled Chelsea, slack-jawed. "How did you know that?"
"We're twins Chels." said Ross with a grin. "You might be fooling everyone else, but you can't fool me. So c'mon, tell me. What about Becca makes her so untrustworthy?"
"You promise not to tell anyone?"
"Swear on my lucky green yo-yo." nodded Ross, pulling the florescent green yo-yo from his pocket and dropping it into her lap. Chelsea's fingers closed around the yo-yo, tracing the familiar L+S carving with her finger.
"You remember the day we met Numbuh 18, right?" said Chelsea.
"Sure." said Ross. "It was the first day of arctic training. Me and you and Ben and Lily were all put into a group, because we were all going to be assigned to the same Sector if we graduated."
"Right." nodded Chelsea. "We were already friends with Lily and Ben before arctic training. We'd never met Becca before."
"I guess." said Ross, his brow furrowed. "Then we did a bunch of initiation stuff, and started training. So?"
"Halfway through training," said Chelsea seriously. "We were told to stop. Remember why?"
"Because we were getting another member."
"Exactly." nodded Chelsea. "And who was that new member?"
"Becca." shrugged Ross. "I don't get where you're going with this."
"Something about Becca joining our training group was special." said Chelsea "Remember?"
"Sure." said Ross. "She was the first KND member to be exempted from both the Sector-Cadet Act and the Sixth Rule of the KND."
"Becca was originally assigned to Sector W," nodded Chelsea. "Because the Sixth Rule of the KND says that what Sector you're in is determined by where you live, which in turn means she was supposed to be assigned to the group of operatives who were going to become Sector W because of the Sector-Cadet Act. But then, without any warning, and on the first day of Cadet training, she got switched into Sector V. Do you know why?"
"Of course not." said Ross. "They said the reason was classified."
"I don't believe that." said Chelsea softly. "I don't think there ever was an official reason."
"Then why do you think she was switched?" asked Ross curiously.
Chelsea took a deep breath, her grip on the yo-yo tightening.
"I think," she mumbled, eyes focused on her hands. "I think Becca hacked into the KND computer and switched herself to Sector V."
"That young?" asked Ross. "Why would she do that?"
"She's brilliant." shrugged Chelsea. "If anyone could get away with it, Becca could. As for why she'd do that...what villain lives just down the lane from Sector V's tree house?"
"The Numbuhless One." said Ross in disbelief. "You think Becca switched herself to Sector V in order to get closer to her dad? So that she could be in a better position to help him?"
"From the day she told us who she was." whispered Chelsea.
"I don't believe it." said Ross.
"You don't or you won't?" asked Chelsea seriously. Ross hung his head and sighed, his entire body deflating.
"Won't." admitted Ross. "I don't want to believe it."
Chelsea simply nodded.
Ross got off the bed and headed towards the door, thoughts whirling.
Won't Won't Won't Won't Won't.
Unable to bear just sitting and waiting, Sector V has dispersed to explore the tree house that they knew by heart, yet didn't recognize at all. Kuki had skipped off in search of Chelsea in order to borrow some sort of Rainbow Monkey something or other, Nigel and Ben were in deep discussion over the details of the rescue plan, Lily was kicking Wally's butt at video games, and Ross and Abby were discussing the fine points of espionage.
His friends otherwise occupied, Hoagie had wandered into Becca's workshop where the two soon began eagerly discussing the many inventions littered on the floor.
"So how does it work?" asked Hoagie as he turned the time machine over in his hands. Becca's face lit up, happy to have another inventor to explain her projects to.
"Teleportation." said Becca. "You see, I can't tell you how, but I found a subatomic formula that when used correctly lets you take the concept of teleportation and apply it to time travel. So far it's still pretty basic – it only allows you to travel to different years, not different days or months, but I'm working on that."
"Woah." said Hoagie "You guys can teleport?"
"Sure." said Becca. "It's so simple really. It's just a matter of rearranging the atoms long enough to be zapped to your destination and then reassembled. Of course, teleportation is strictly KND use only. It's not like people are going around in hover cars and space suits. The future's not that different, and the adults are nowhere near as technologically advanced as we are. So I just applied the already known technology towards time travel. It took me forever – nine months to be exact. Nine months of no sleep and microwave burritos."
"So why don't you guys just, I dunno," shrugged Hoagie. "teleport into wherever Rachael is, and then teleport out?"
"It doesn't work that way." shrugged Becca. "There needs to be a receiver wherever it is we want to go. I don't think the Numbuhless One would be on board with a plan to build a receiver in his basement."
"So how does time travel work then?" asked Hoagie. "I mean, it's not like there's these receiver watchamacallits in the past...right?"
"Right." shrugged Becca. "But time travel is a little bit different. In teleportation your atoms are rearranged. In time travel the atoms in the space-time continuum are rearranged. No receiver required."
"Can I see the teleportation machine?" asked Hoagie eagerly, his eyes darting around the workshop.
"I guess." shrugged Becca. She led Hoagie out of the workshop, down the hall, and into a room the size of a small closet. Hoagie peered in eagerly, only to see a simple showerhead attached to the back wall, and a simple wood desk to the right of the door with an old fashioned computer sitting squarely in the center. Aside from that, the room was empty. The walls were painted a light tan, and oddly enough – the floor was rubber.
"Is this it?" asked Hoagie disappointedly.
"Yeah." said Becca proudly she pointed to the showerhead. "That is the receiver."
"So how does it work?" asked Hoagie, scanning the room for any details he might've missed, to no avail.
"Can't tell you." shrugged Becca. "I don't want to tempt you into trying to make your own. I will tell you that underneath this floor there is a generator capable of producing the massive amounts of energy we need to teleport, which is why the floor is rubber. Rubber is a horrible electricity conductor, which protects us from fatal electric shocks while the generator is in use."
"Can you at least show me what it looks like to teleport?"
Becca hesitated and began shaking her head no, when the computer beeped.
"Hmm." said Becca as she glanced at the screen. "I guess it wouldn't hurt. Numbuh 25 is requesting clearance. You can watch, but you need to hide under the desk okay?"
"Why?" asked Hoagie in confusion.
"Because," said Becca, her hand jumping to her hair "we're not supposed to let outside operatives in here unless they're transporting. Numbuh 25 would get awfully mad if she knew I'd let you in."
"Makes sense." shrugged Hoagie wedging himself under the desk, far too excited to argue. By peeking through the two-inch space between the floor and the desk, Hoagie was able to get a decent view of the receiver.
"First I need to approve the request." said Becca, narrating her actions for Hoagie's benefit. Hoagie shifted, trying to get into a comfier position. "Then I activate the generator."
A loud hum filled the room, and the floor vibrated.
"Calibrating energy levels." mumbled Becca, the keyboard clacking under her experienced fingers. "Adjusting for height and weight factors. Calculating atom displacement. Activating signal."
By now the showerhead was glowing florescent blue, the whine of the generator growing steadily. Drips of blue began to flow from the showerhead.
"Where did the water come from?" asked Hoagie. Becca simply shushed him.
Hoagie looked back at the blue, and realized it wasn't acting the way water was supposed to. It zigzagged on its way towards the floor; sometimes shooting back up for a moment before continuing it's descent.
"It's not water," said Hoagie in awe, craning his neck to look up at Becca "it's light."
Becca winked, then placed a finger against her lips.
The light gathered a couple of inches from the floor, growing higher and higher until it was a little more then four feet tall. The light contracted and grew so blindingly bright that Hoagie had to close his eyes. When he opened them again the light was gone, leaving behind an operative in its place.
The operative was a light brown female. Her coal black hair was pulled back into two braids, and her brown eyes radiated seriousness and authority. She was wearing blue jean shorts, faded blue sneakers, and a tie-dye shirt with the number 25 stamped on the back in white. A red cap was placed jauntily on her head and a pair of black-rimmed glasses rested on her nose.
"You have a lot of explaining to do." said the girl sternly as she fixed a glare on Becca. "Moonbase has had absolutelyno idea where you've been, not to mention the amount of work I had to do covering your backs so your parents wouldn't suspect anything. There is a reason we plan long-term missions ahead of time, as you should be aware. Remind me of that reason."
"Because then you have time to formulate an excuse for our absence." recited Becca in a monotone.
"Exactly." nodded Numbuh 25. "Where is Numbuh 17? I've been saving up my ranting for a week and I don't think I can wait much longer."
"Main room probably." shrugged Becca. Her eyes widened. "B...but, w-why don't you go to his room? I'll f-find him for you."
One eyebrow shot up.
"What's wrong with me going to find him?" asked Numbuh 25 sternly, and Hoagie couldn't help but think of how similar that expression looked to one often used by Abby.
"N-Nothing." stuttered Becca. "It's just... if he hears you coming he might...um... make a break for it and wait until you calm down. Then you'll never get to rant to him. But if I find him for you he won't suspect anything, so he can't get away."
Numbuh 25 rolled her eyes. "That sounds just like Ben." she grumbled. "Alright, fine. I'll meet my brother in his room. Make it quick please. I need to get back to Moonbase."
"Sure thing." said Becca cheerily. Once Numbuh 25 had left the room, she let out a breath. "You can come out now Numbuh 2."
"Poor Numbuh 17." grunted Hoagie as he pushed himself up off the floor. "I'd hate to be him right now."
"Me too." agreed Becca. "Me too."
Sometime later, the operatives had once again gathered in the main room of the tree house, eating a pile of candy provided by Numbuh 17. The summer sky was beginning to darken, and the first evening stars began to twinkle in the night sky.
"Ross?" the operatives froze as the voice of an elderly woman floated upwards. "Chelsea? Sweethearts, are you here?"
"Be right back." hissed Ross as he bolted out of the room.
"Where's he going?" asked Hoagie "And who is that lady?"
"That's my grandma." said Chelsea. "She and Grandpa live here."
"In the tree house?" asked Wally. Chelsea rolled her eyes.
"No doofus. In the house underneath the tree house."
"No need for name calling." reprimanded Ben as Ross came back into the room. Ben turned to face him. "What's up Numbuh 15?"
"We need a meeting." said Ross firmly. "Now."
"We have a problem." announced Ross as soon as Sector V had been relocated to another room out of hearing range.
"Explain." said Ben.
"Grandma just told me our parents called." said Ross firmly. "All of our parents, not just me and Chelsea's. She said that they thought we had been gone from home long enough, and we're not allowed to sleep in the tree house tonight. Oh, and Mrs. Beetles said that Becca is staying the night with Lily. That means there'll be nobody in the tree house tonight..."
"...which means we need to figure out what to do with Sector V." nodded Ben with understanding.
"Exactly." said Ross. "We can't leave them here. They could find something they shouldn't, or investigate Becca's inventions, or even get attacked. After all, we do live in the middle of a war zone."
The operatives stood in silence, eyebrows scrunched in contemplation.
"I have an idea." said Becca timidly. "It's...well... maybe it's not the best idea ever, but I think it's our best option."
"Go ahead." nodded Ben.
"We could..." said Becca hesitantly "We could always take them home with us."
"Are you insane?" asked Chelsea. "You want us to take them home with us? That is the worst idea I've ever heard! The instant they see any one of our parents they'll figure out the truth, and who knows what'll happen? And what if our parents recognize themselves? How the crud are we supposed to explain that?"
"It could work." insisted Becca. "Lily already told Numbuh 5 who most of our parents are."
"Nice going." grumbled Chelsea under her breath. Ben lightly jabbed her side with his elbow.
"Let her finish." said Ben with a nod towards Becca.
"Wally's too dumb to figure anything out on his own," continued Becca as Lily shot her a scowl. "Sorry Lily, but you know it's true. We could easily distract Kuki with Chelsea's rainbow monkeys, and we're definitely not spending the night with grown up Nigel. We'll just have to hope Hoagie's either dumb enough not to notice, or smart enough to not say anything."
"I guess." said Chelsea reluctantly. "That sounds...logical."
"Good." said Ben casting a sympathetic glance Chelsea's way before smoothing his features into a calm, neutral expression. "We need to make sure our parents don't run into each other. Becca and Lily, you take home Abby. Chelsea and Ross, you take Kuki and Hoagie, and I'll take Nigel and Wally. Okay?"
"We can make it even safer," said Ross. "if we give them all disguises."
"Excellent idea." nodded Ben. "Alright team. Move out."
Chelsea held back, before sighing and following her teammates out the door.
"This better work." she grumbled to Ben.
"It will." said Ben. "It has to."
"Since when has that guaranteed anything?" grumbled Chelsea.
"It doesn't." said Ben, his stomach beginning to twist into a knot. "What the crud have we gotten ourselves into?"
"Mooommmm." called Chelsea as she ushered a now blonde Kuki and a dark haired Hoagie inside the front door, Ross following close behind. "Can me and Ross have a sleepover with some friends we made at camp? Please?"
"Chels." sighed a female voice. "You just got home."
"Please mommy?" asked Chelsea, her tough demeanor completely gone as she walked into the next room, her eyes wide and her mouth turned down slightly. "Pwetty pwease?"
Ross chuckled and rolled his eyes.
"Well..." came the female voice. "Oh... all right, that's fine. I just finished cooking dinner. Come and sit up. And go get your sister, will you?"
"Nice one sis." grinned Ross as Chelsea re-entered the room, looking very smug.
"Thanks." said Chelsea. "NATALIE! DINNER TIME!"
"Hi dad." said Chelsea and Ross simultaneously.
"Yaaaaaay!" came a high-pitched female voice from the top of the stairs. A brunette seven year old threw herself down the steps, her brown eyes sparkling happily as she tossed her arms around Chelsea and Ross. "You're home! And guess what? I lost another tooth!" The girl opened her mouth proudly to display the missing tooth.
As Ross and Chelsea dutifully feigned excitement, their dad looked over at the visitors carefully.
"Nice to meet you." said the man with a smile, extending a calloused hand.
"Dad," said Chelsea, breaking away from her little sister's grip. "this is... um... Henry and his sister... uh... Kelly."
"Henry?" asked Hoagie in surprise. Ross kicked the back of his leg. "I'm... Henry. Yeah. Hi."
"Nice to meet you Henry and Kelly." Kuki opened her mouth in confusion, but Chelsea quickly cut her off.
"Let's eat." said Chelsea, her hand wrapping around Kuki's wrist as she dragged her towards the kitchen. "I'm starving."
Soon the family was sitting calmly around the dinner table. Natalie, Chelsea, and Ross heaped their plates high and shoveled down their dinner, while their parents ate slowly, and Kuki and Hoagie hardly ate at all, for they had recently learned the identity of Ross and Chelsea's parents – Lee and Sonya – and it was only swift kicks courtesy of Chelsea and Ross that kept them from voicing their shock.
"So how was camp?" asked Sonya, interrupting the silence that had fallen on the table. "Did you have fun?"
"Yeah." said Chelsea and Ross simultaneously. Chelsea swallowed her mouthful of potatoes, while Ross began to weave stories of their time at camp.
"Did you get to practice with the yo-yo?" asked Lee.
"Of course." said Ross proudly. "Everyone was really impressed with my tricks."
"Would you like me to teach you some more yoyo tricks after dinner?" offered Lee eagerly. Sonya fake groaned and rolled her eyes.
"Just as long as you don't break another vase." said Sonya sternly, her eyes giving away her amusement.
"What about that awful one Auntie Fanny gave us?" teased Ross. Hoagie and Kuki twitched with shock at the name. "Can I break that?"
"Make it look like an accident." winked Sonya.
"You have an aunt named Fanny?" asked Hoagie, his mouth dry.
"Nah." shrugged Ross. "She's me and Chelsea's godmother."
The family went back to talking, and didn't notice Hoagie leaning over towards Kuki.
"She would be a terrible godmother."
"Abby feels stupid."
"Nonsense." said Lily firmly. "You look fine. I can barely recognize you."
Abby's hair had been let down from her braid, her cap resting in the pocket of her newly acquired black shorts. A pair of blue glasses was perched on her nose, and her hands were tucked into the pockets of a sky blue hoodie.
"C'mon." mumbled Lily, pushing open her front door. Abby took a deep breath before entering the home.
"Mooooommmm!" said Lily as the front door slammed shut. "I'm home! Is it okay that I brought another friend?"
"You mean besides Becca?" came a cheerful female voice. "That's fine I suppose."
"Lily!" a laughing toddler ran clumsily to the front door, where he threw his small arms around Lily's waist.
"I missed you!" said the small boy, his black hair falling into his brown eyes as he grinned toothily. "Did you have fun at camp?"
"Naoko!" cried Lily happily as she scooped the toddler into her arms. "I missed you too! Camp...? Oh! Camp! Yeah, it was fun. Me and Becca had lots of fun." Naoko turned to look at Becca. Becca smiled and waved.
"Hi Becca." said Naoko cheerfully, before glancing curiously at Abby.
"Who's that?" he whispered to Lily, one finger pointed in Abby's direction.
"It's not polite to point." came the female voice teasingly. Abby turned, and forced herself not to show the shock that coursed through her body.
The woman looked eerily similar to Kuki. Most likely, Abby reminded herself firmly, because it was Kuki, just older, with her hair tied back into a professional looking bun, wearing a blue apron tied over a grey business dress.
"Hello...?" said Kuki trailing off expectantly, reaching down to sling Naoko on her hip.
"Abby." said Numbuh 5 calmly. Kuki's eyebrows narrowed thoughtfully, and Abby swallowed hard.
"Abby, did you say? Abby...?"
"um...Smith." said Abby quickly. Becca gave her a thumbs up from behind Kuki's back.
"Lovely name." said Kuki, her features smoothing out. "I have a friend named Abby."
"Thank you Ms... um..."
"Beetles." said Kuki warmly. "Kuki Beetles. But please, just call me Kuki."
"We're going up to my room, okay mom?" said Lily, reaching for Abby's wrist.
"That's fine." said Kuki as she hefted Naoko into a more comfortable position on her hip. "Dad'll be home in about an hour, and then we'll have dinner, alright?"
"Sounds good." nodded Lily as she tugged Abby from the room, Becca following close behind. "Thanks mom!"
"Are the disguises really necessary?"
"Mhmm." said Ben as he directed Wally and Nigel to a small yellow house. Ben put his hand on Nigel's shoulder stopping him even as Wally kept moving.
"Look Numbuh 1," said Ben in a low tone. "Here's the thing. My parents are...well they're...I mean... they're..."
"They're what?" asked Nigel. "Evil? Weird? Boring?"
"None of those." said Ben. "They're...well, they're gonna seem familiar to you, okay? Can you do me a favor? I promise to explain tomorrow as long as you don't tell anyone else or let Wally realize, okay?"
"Realize what?" asked Nigel suspiciously. "Familiar how?"
"You'll see." promised Ben. "Just promise, okay?"
"Whatever." said Nigel, his pace picking up in order to catch up to Wally. "I promise."
Abby, sprawled messily on the floor of Lily's room, turned her head to look up at Becca. Slowly, she pushed herself to a sitting position.
"Abby's fine." mumbled Abby. "It's just a lot to process."
Becca nodded, and silence descended on the room, only the faint sound of running water and chirping crickets disturbing the night.
"So..." said Abby, biting her lip thoughtfully. "The Numbuhless One huh? What's he like?"
"Oh," said Becca, jumping a little, her eyes darting to stare at the ground. "He's...y'know...evil."
"That's all?" asked Abby with a grin. "C'mon. You can tell Numbuh 5. It's only fair we know who we're up against for our rescue mission tomorrow, right?"
"True." said Becca reluctantly. "Alright. He's a middle-aged villain, lives in Father's mansion, particularly enjoys using his fire powers, and is a whole lot smarter then Father. He used to be a normal guy but...um...then something went wrong, and he turned evil, blah blah blah, the end."
"Did that something have to do with his wife?" asked Abby thoughtfully. "You wouldn't mention her when Numbuh 17 first told us your story."
"No." said Becca, a little too quickly. She cleared her throat. "Um... nope. Sorry. No one is um... really sure why he...um... became evil."
Abby raised an eyebrow in disbelief, but then dropped the subject.
"And you don't know his old numbuh, right?" asked Abby.
"Um..." said Becca hesitantly. "Well... officially, yeah, no one... um... no one knows."
"Officially?" said Abby sternly. Becca looked at the floor guiltily. "Look, Abby knows you don't wanna screw up the future, but our Soopreme Leader has been taken hostage, we've been putting up with your secrets for ages, and Abby thinks it's only fair you tell the truth."
"The truth?" said Becca nervously. "R-really? You, um, you want the truth? Are you sure?"
"Why wouldn't Abby be?"
"The truth is..." mumbled Becca. "Well, the truth is... oh man, oh man, Numbuh 17 is really gonna kill me this time... you see... well, the thing is... we... we kind of... well... we lied. My sector... my sector knows his numbuh. We're the only ones, but we decided not to tell anyone ever. Not even our Soopreme Leader."
"Why not?" asked Abby.
Becca hesitated. "Because…" she mumbled, releasing a sigh as the words tumbled out. "He's my dad. He's the only connection to my mom and – and if the KND knew I was his daughter, they'd hate me. They'd never have let me join in the first place."
"He's your dad?" said Abby, her eyes and mouth wide. "Only connection to… what happened to your mom?"
"She's dead." whispered Becca. "She died when I was six."
"Abby's sorry." mumbled Abby.
"I've also never told Numbuh 788 because… because I'm dangerous." admitted Becca in a small voice.
"Dangerous?" asked Abby warily. "How?"
"You know who Grandfather is right?" asked Becca. Abby nodded. "Well he possessed fire-control powers. He passed on those powers to Father and Father's brother. Father never had kids... well, biological kids that is, but Father's brother passed it down to his son, the Numbuhless One and… and…" Becca swallowed hard. "And he passed it on to me."
Abby stared at Becca, her mouth open, trying to absorb that information.
"B-But…but…" stuttered Abby, "You can't control fire now can you?"
"No." said Becca. "You only exhibit fire power if you turn evil. But… I can… how should I put this? I can feel it."
"Feel it?" said Abby bemusedly. "What?"
"When I'm by a fire," sighed Becca "it feels like… almost like the fire's calling to me. Like it's trying to speak to me in a different language, one I can't understand. But once you renounce good, then you learn the language. Fire will listen to you. People who have fire power tend to be either really good or really bad. Sometimes they're both at different points of their lifetimes, but never both together. If you've got fire power, you're either the hero or the bad guy. There's no in-between. You either save the world or try to destroy it."
"Are you sure?" asked Abby. "That seems a little extreme."
"Think about it." sighed Becca. "Grandfather and Father are the worst villains in the world. Numbuh 0 is a hero to the KND. And Numbuh 1… he became both."
Abby gasped. "Numbuh 1… Nigel's the Numbuhless One?"
"Well, not right now." shrugged Becca. "But yeah, once he grows up he'll go bad."
"Abby doesn't believe it." said Abby. "Not Nigel. He would never…"
"But he did." said Becca wearily.
"You're lying." said Abby angrily "You have to be."
"But I'm not." whispered Becca, tears starting to form in her eyes. "Why would I lie about something like this?"
"If you were telling the truth." said Abby. "And Abby's not saying you are...but if you were...what does that mean for you? This whole good or evil thing?"
"It means," whispered Becca hesitantly. She took a deep breath. "It means Chelsea's right. Numbuh 1 is right. You shouldn't trust me. It's a horrible idea to trust me. Because like it or not, the fate of the KND is gonna end up with me. And I... I don't know if I trust myself to do the right thing."
Wow. So this is reaaaallllly long, but I just couldn't bring myself to make it shorter.
...And now I'm going to make it even longer by answering some questions you guys sent in! I got asked so many questions (which I love by the way) that I can't fit them all in one chapter. So I'm going to span them out over a couple of chapters, okay? So if you don't see the answer to your question here, it's either because a) it has/will be answered within the story itself or b) it will be in a future author's note.
So let's get on with it!
Q: How did the operatives meet?
A: Ben, Chelsea, Ross, and Lily have been friends almost since birth. They all live in the same neighborhood, and when they were younger, they loved to pretend to be KND operatives, even going so far as to pre-choose their numbers and titles. At the age of 8 they entered the Arctic Training Base, where they were all assigned to Sector V. Later that same day, Becca (for unknown reasons) switched from Sector W's training group to Sector V. Lily and Becca became fast friends, and Chelsea, perhaps out of jealousy, tried to ignore Becca as much as possible, although eventually she broke down and became friends with Becca. Ross and Ben had no problem with the new addition to the team, and they've all been friends ever since :)
Q: Can you tell us more about the lives of other future operatives?
A: Ben: Benjamin Pennywhistle Gilligan (age 10) was born October 26 to Hoagie and Abigail Gilligan. He has an older sister, Jamie Gilligan (12) and a younger brother, Aaron Gilligan (2). Even from a young age, it was clear that Ben had inherited his mother's leadership skills, and he was by no means as hesitant as her to exercise them. As a young boy, when not playing with Chelsea, Ross, and Lily, Ben used to follow his sister everywhere, anxiously anticipating the day he would be allowed to join the KND. After becoming a cadet, he was immediately pegged to be the next leader of Sector V, an honor he took so seriously, he had to be dragged from the training ring at the end of every day. His intelligence is second only to Becca's, but because of his intense dedication, he gets the best grades in school.
Lily: Lily Marie Beetles (age 10) was born August 18 to Kuki and Wallabee Beetles. She has one younger brother Naoko Beetles (4). Despite being Kuki's daughter, she doesn't particularly like Rainbow Monkeys, although she doesn't have the heart to tell her mother (who is currently the Secretary for the President of the entire Rainbow Monkey Corporation) and consequently, her room is filled with Rainbow Monkeys. She prefers to play with Yipper cards, and is the undefeated Yipper Card champion of the KND.
Chelsea/Ross: Chelsea and Ross* (both age 10) were born March 13 to Lee and Sonya. They have a younger sister Natalie (7). Chelsea is the older twin by three hours. She is the shortest member of Sector V, but despite her height she is without a doubt the toughest member of Sector V. She is fiery and impatient, and she is almost fearless. She does, however, have a girly side. She loves Rainbow Monkeys and is completely envious of Lily's constant flow of Rainbow Monkey products (courtesy of Kuki). Ross has a similar temperament to his dad. He is very laid back and calm in almost all situations. He does have a temper, but he hardly ever lashes out at anyone. Despite being almost polar opposites, Chelsea and Ross are incredibly close and very protective of each other.
*I refuse to give Chelsea and Ross a last name. It's one thing to make up names for your own characters, but it's totally different when you're making up a name for someone else's. It just doesn't sound right.
Q: Has Becca had other close calls with the KND finding out about her family? What would the KND do to her if they found out?
A: Becca has not ever had her story questioned (besides, of course, by her sector) because her story about running away from a guardian working for the Numbuhless One is a very common occurrence in my future world. If it were ever to get out that she was the Numbuhless One's daughter she'd be immediately decommissioned and then after the decommissioning, thrown into a KND prison cell, or worse, used as a negotiating chip against the Numbuhless One. Either way, she'd forget everything, and probably never see the light of day again. Hence, the secrecy.
Q: How do they like to spend their free time?
A: Ben usually spends his free time reading, going over different battle strategies, inspecting the tree house, or occasionally playing Yipper.
Chelsea plays with her rainbow monkeys (never calmly, and always with lots of fights and battle cries), reads her rainbow monkey comics, practices her fighting skills, and practices first aid.
Ross watches/plays basketball, practices tricks with his yo-yo, practices his stealth skills, and just chills in front of the television.
Lily plays video games, helps Becca with inventions, plays Yipper, and every once in a while sneaks out to the park to see Bradley III
Becca doesn't give herself free time. She more or less lives in her workshop, and only leaves her inventions for missions or when her friends drag her out kicking and screaming.
Q: Does Lily secretly like Ben? Does Ben secretly like Lily?
A: I don't know. I haven't asked them. What do you think? :3
Thanks so much for sticking with me guys. I know I'm not exactly the most reliable updater, but you guys've stuck with me, so I promise to stick with you, and I hope this slightly longer chapter will make up for the long wait.
Codename KND (c) Mr. Warburton
Future Sector V (c) Andra