Hallelujah! I am finally done with the first chapter of Now or Never. I'm warning you, this story is going to be much longer than Half the Truth. And better. I hope. I will try to make things less confusing than last time by having each chapter have only certain people's POVs. Some chapters will have guest POVs. I didn't think of the order thing until after i had finished this chapter, so this one is pretty random. The POVs will be in this order: Nigel, Abby, Patton, and Kuki in one chapter. Rachel, Hoagie, Fanny, and Wally in the next. After them, Cree, Bartie, George, and Herbie. And lastly, Maurice, Virginia, Sy, and Chad.
Also, sorry for the wait. School just finished yesterday for me. Now I have all summer to write! Until volleyball starts anyway.
If anyone thought I copied the Battle Room from the X-Men's Danger Room, oops. I truly did not mean for that to happen. There are differences, though. One, my characters don't have superpowers. Two, the Battle Room isn't necessarily used to 'battle' one another in, like the Danger Room. It's more of an obstacle course.
Thank you to all the reviewers of HtT. I hope this story lives up to your expectations.
Disclaimer: Mr. Warburton owns the KND. I own 434.
Thursday 5:15 p.m.
Location: Break Room
"You're kidding," Sy's voice was disbelieving, "Sector Z has been missing for years. How are we going to even figure out where they are?" The Elite exchanged glances, while Chad, Maurice, and Cree stiffened. Nigel pulled out his wallet and removed two crumpled photos. He set them on the table. One was of the Delightfuls and the other of Sector Z.
"Compare," was all he said. Virginia gasped.
"They're practically identical…" her voice trailed off as she realized the implications of what she was saying, "the Delightfuls are Sector Z."
"How's that possible?"
Bartie noticed how calm Chad, Cree, and Maurice were and became suspicious. "You three already know, don't you?"
Chad sighed. "Yes. Sector V found out first, then they told Rachel, Patton, and Fanny, and they later told us after we had joined." The five twelve year olds in the room took in that their teammates had forgotten to tell them a very important piece of information. Then they started considering that the last week had been complete and utter chaos and decided they would let this one slide.
"How did Father turn one of the greatest sectors ever in the history of the KND into the Delightfuls?" Asked George, stumped at how the legendary Sector Z could be turned into something so wrong and evil.
"A very powerful delighfulization chamber," explained Fanny, "the machine used up so much power the chamber ultimately blew up. That huge amount of energy made it so Numbuh Zero's recommissioning module only worked temporarily. Our goal is to build a module that will turn 'em back to normal, permanently."
"But, how?" exclaimed Herbie, "no one knows how to build a recommissioning module."
"My dad did," said Nigel, "and he was ten. Fanny knows enough about a decommissioning module to make one. George may be wacko," the scientist grinned, "but he is smart. He wouldn't be a scientist if he wasn't. Combine those two with Hoagie's inventing skills, and we're well on our way."
"Maurice and I are going to set up communications with the kids," added Rachel, "hopefully, Herbie, we'll be able to get you into the KND archives."
Rachel moved from that topic without transition. "Maurice, we got to go set up communications. Everyone else, do, uh, something." Her and Maurice left.
"Well, you heard the boss lady," chirped Hoagie, "let's go Fanny, you too George, the decommissioning module awaits."
"I'm coming, too," Virginia jumped out of her seat, "it is my job to make sure you inventors don't blow anything up." The four of them left and an uncomfortable silence remained.
"What do we do now?" asked Wally to no one in particular.
"I guess," Cree started heading for the door, "in the wise words of Rachel McKenzie, something."
Location: Control Room
Maurice took some deep breaths to calm himself. He was only addressing the most powerful kid in the Kids Next Door. He grimaced; he was really bad at pep talks. He quickly composed himself, because Rachel had made contact and an eight year old boy appeared on the screen.
"This is a private channel if you do not-oh it's you," the kid's eyes narrowed, "what do you want?"
"To speak with Soopreme Leader Numbuh 434," Rachel looked the boy square in the eye, like a lioness staring down her prey. The kid shifted uncomfortably.
"To discuss an alliance," Realization dawned on both the kid and Maurice that a formal treaty had not been made between the two Next Door organizations.
"How do I know I can trust you?"
Rachel quirked an eyebrow, "how do I know I can trust you?"
"You can't," the boy spat.
"Exactly, now may we please speak to Numbuh 434?"
"She's in a meeting."
"Alright," Rachel smiled warmly, offsetting the young operative, "then we'll wait."
Location: Head of Spy's Office
Abby looked at the large stack of files she had to read through and sighed.
The files contained all the known information on teen spies the TND knew about. Abby understood she would probably keep most of these people as spies, but there were a few that would be more comfortable in a sector.
Like 30c for example. The guy liked being a spy, but for all the wrong reasons. Spies were supposed to do their job to protect people, to make missions easier for the sectors on the front lines. 30c just liked the attention. He was loyal, but needed others who knew his situation around him. As a spy, he couldn't have that. He would fair better in a sector.
Moving on, Abby picked up a file containing information about a teen spy candidate. It was Numbuh 14, renowned for keeping Numbuh 13 contained. She was going to be in a sector. Abby remembered comforting her when the eldest member of Sector N was decommissioned. Sweet and gentle, she was an average student. So, being a scientist probably wouldn't suit her. The file also mentioned Numbuh 14 being squeamish of blood, so nursing wasn't best for her.
Abby sighed. Numbuh 14 could decide what she wanted to do if she passed training.
Darn Rachel for giving her so much work.
Wally and Nigel were helping Kuki organize the hospital. Five white beds, separated by curtains, lined a wall. Another cot was in a small room, surrounded by sharp instruments. On the door hung a sign Fanny had given Kuki to put there. It read 'No idiots allowed. Hoagie, George this means you.'
Kuki was currently sorting medicine bottles. Unable to reach the top cabinet, she pouted. 'Why am I so short?' she whined silently. Glancing at Wally, she couldn't help but feel jealous. He was the shortest out of all the guys in their tight circle of friends, and he was still taller than her. It wasn't fair.
Groaning, Kuki gave up trying to jump up to the cabinet and sank to the ground.
"Kooks," Wally was standing over her, his emerald green eyes filled with concern, "need any help?" Kuki nodded and held out the medicine bottle. She was surprised when, instead of just taking the bottle like she thought Wally would, he hoisted her up onto her feet, grabbed her by the waist and lifted her up. Kuki giggled in delight as she was able to deposit the bottle into the cabinet.
Wally grinned when he heard Kuki giggle. Apart from Nigel, Patton, and Hoagie no one knew he absolutely adored the raven haired girl's laugh. He did have an image to keep up. Still, Wally craved hearing Kuki having fun and being happy. Suddenly, he got an idea. Having set Kuki down, his hands still at her small waist, he started mercilessly tickling her.
"Wally!" she shrieked in between uncontrollable laughter, "let go of me! Wally! Stop!"
"Ahem," Nigel cleared his throat loudly. The pair stopped what they were doing, sheepish smiles on their faces, still holding onto each other. "Wally, stop groping Kuki, Kuki stop encouraging him." The two blanched.
Sometimes, Nigel really wished he had a camera.
Location: Head Therapist's Office
Cree was just about to sit in her chair when Bartie, Sy, Herbie, and Chad walked in. The younger boys looked grim, while Chad seemed nervous. Cree went into therapist mode and pulled out a notepad and pen Abby had given her.
"What's up guys?" she motioned for them to sit down. They did.
"They're accusing me of forming the Splinter Cell," Sy blurted out, hurt that his teammates thought he was part of the Cell. Cree knew he had good reason. The kids viewed the Cell as radicals, menaces, and safety threats. There were no records of the Cell members ever hurting anyone, but they were always present at fights. They would just stand there, watching, decked out in black and masks. When somebody would go after them, they would vanish.
Only two things were really known about their identities. One, they were kids, probably affiliated to the KND. And two, there were four boys and four girls. Now that Cree really thought about it, she was surprised no one had figured out who the Splinter Cell really was a long time ago.
"What brought about these accusations?" she made eye contact with Chad. The blonde tried to look calm, but he was failing. Bartie noticed this, but didn't say anything. Herbie ultimately was the one to answer her.
"In the library there was this whole book regarding the Splinter Cell. It talked about how the group acted more like spies than soldiers. Then the whole conspiracy came up and it all went down hill from there." Cree knew the guys needed to know. They deserved to know.
Telling the truth would be like betraying the Elite, though. But, it was their actions that brought this onto her team. That wasn't fair and besides, the Elite wouldn't have made the Cell if they weren't ready for the consequences. The KND may not need to know about the Splinter Cell's true identity, but Alpha Team did.
"Guys, there's something you need to know…"
Location: Control Room
Maurice was just about to ask to go get some food when Numbuh 434 appeared on the screen.
"Hello," she said curtly, "I am told you wish to discuss an alliance."
"Yes," Rachel confirmed, "I don't want anything besides you not attacking us and all the teen operatives turned over to my command," Numbuh 434's eyes widened in feigned ignorance at the mention of the teen operatives. Rachel scowled.
"Don't play dumb with me. I was once a Soopreme Leader, remember?" The nine year old glared. She had obviously forgotten to take her nap.
"Why should I hand over the teen spies to you?"
"You are the leader of the Kids Next Door and I am the leader of the Teens Next Door. With us the teens can decide if they want to remain spies or return to a Sector setting. Or, retire even."
"Fine, but," Maurice always hated buts, "a sector will have to check up on you at your base annually." The African-American teen hoped Rachel didn't take the bait 434 had laid out for her. By saying 'check up on' the kid was implying the TND was incompetent and needed baby sitters. She was trying to make Rachel angry and lose her head.
The ploy failed, though, because all Rachel did was smile.
"That would be great. Numbuh 11 can use them to test her psyche profiles."
Hoagie, Fanny, Virginia, and George were pouring over the decommissioning module's blueprints. Fanny was explaining the complexities of the device to the other three, but Hoagie wasn't listening.
Instead he was mulling over how to break it to Fanny that her new boyfriend was not a good choice. He had to go. How did he tell her to break up with him? He should probably wait until he could get her alone.
But that wasn't Hoagie's style.
"So, Fanny," he interrupted, "what's going on between you and Strowd?" Fanny blinked twice then scowled.
"For yer information, we're dating."
"He's a sexist, pretty boy who gets on everybody's nerves."
Virginia chose that moment to intervene. "Who's this Strowd guy?"
"Nineteenth Century," spat Hoagie, "and the way he looks at you, Fulbright, is absolutely disgusting."
"He's disgusting?" Fanny was now engaged in a glaring match with Hoagie, "have ye looked in a mirror today, Gilligan, or did yer face break it?"
"Funny, funny. Don't try to change the subject, dump him."
"No. Why can't ye get it through yer thick skull that I like him?"
"Because he's going to try and turn you into a freaking doll."
"Get yer head out of the clouds. He would never do that."
Hoagie snorted. "Fanny, he comes from a time where you would be considered his property."
"He was decommissioned."
"You know better than anyone that's a lame excuse. Decommissioning may take away his memories, but it can't erase his values." Fanny's shoulders slumped slightly in defeat, but Hoagie took no pleasure in the victory. The Irish teen was desperate for acceptance outside their close circle of friends. She wouldn't give up on Nineteenth Century.
Hoagie sighed as Fanny stomped out of the lab. He knew she knew the others would always be her friends. She wanted something more, though. Something he doubted she would ever get from Nineteenth Century.
Location: Control Room
"So," Rachel was finalizing the deal with Numbuh 434, "the KND won't attack us, communications will be conducted by mainly Numbuh 9," she gestured to Maurice, "and all the teen operatives will be taken care of by us."
"What about the decommissioning squad?" 434 asked. Rachel had a sinking feeling the girl was planning something.
"There will always be operatives out there who decide to join the Ninjas. We will leave an old decommissioning module active for those cases. The decommissioners would also have to catch any operatives who decide not to join us. There will be a lot. Alpha Team was a very special group. More than likely, our next few trainees will not have the determination they possessed.
"The decommissioners are not out of a job. Nobody is," Rachel concluded. There was no way 434 could find a flaw in that.
"Then will they be picking up Numbuh 35 tomorrow, as it is his thirteenth birthday? I am also patiently expecting full reports from my other four agents."
Darn that brat.
"They are my agents."
"Our agreement was that you would be in charge of the teens and I of the kids. They are still kids, therefore, they report to me." Maurice glanced at Rachel and saw her face was set into cold, hard lines. He suppressed the urge to run away out of fear and looked up to see 434 staring Rachel right in the eye, a tiny smile on her lips. It dawned on him he had a lot to learn.
"Numbuh's Infinity, 74.239, 23, and 65.3 will report to the Moonbase tomorrow. Since Numbuh 35 will be a teen by then, he won't. Good night." Rachel turned off the transmission and growled. "You just saw why I chose her as my replacement. That little girl may not be the best fighter in the world, but she can trump anyone when it comes to politics. Remember, never underestimate her. She can destroy you with the things you say."
"I have one question."
"Why did you just give up at the end of the argument?" Maurice had been wondering why his boss had not tried to fight back against 434's demands.
"It was either that or make a deal."
"Oh, now I see, but what would we have to trade?"
"Something we can't afford to lose."
Location: Break Room
Nigel entered the Break Room after hearing Cree shakily request over the intercom for everyone to report there immediately. Everybody was already there when he arrived. He saw Bartie's, Sy's, and Herbie's grim expressions and knew something was wrong.
"What's going on?" he demanded. Several bad scenarios ran through his head.
Sy crossed his arms. "We know about the Splinter Cell."
Hope it sets up a good base for the story. Please review.
I have to admit, the hardest thing to write in this chapter was the 434/Rachel dialogue. I knew 434 had to totally trap Rachel without Rachel (or the reader) realizing what she was setting up. I think it came out alright. Another thing, when Rachel calls 434 a brat, she is just angry. She is not trying to be mean.
To tell you the truth, when I first thought up Numbuh 434 I had wanted to make her the character that nobody would like, one without really much of a personality. Then, I got a review from Boogirl saying that she thought 434 was cool and really liked her. After that, I decided to flesh out 434 a little more. She grew on me and now is one of my favorite characters. There is more about her in chapter four and it will feature her point of view.
To summarize, I will have a pole up until the beginning of chapter five about whether or not you like 434. If there are a lot of votes for her, I will put another poll up so you the reader can decide her real name. If not, I will name her myself.