The KEPCON facility was a massive, multistory factory structure that had been abandoned for several years. Signs of neglect could be seen all around the building, with dozens of broken windows and unkempt grass growing up all around the premises. The only part of the building that was still being maintained was the basement area, where the rocket fuel was being kept until it could be moved to a more secure location. The twins had broken the lock easily and had moved the fuel out of the large, dark room where it was being kept. This was the room where Tara was being kept, dangling from chains nearly thirty feet above the floor.
The end of the twins' video transmission didn't cause Tara to cease her struggles. She tugged and pulled at her bonds, her lean muscles flexing fiercely against the chains wrapped around them. Alpha and Omega watched her with fascination, laughing at her every angry glare or threatening word.
"You two think this is funny?" shrieked Tara, kicking out at the air with her bound feet. "The second I get free, you two are toast!"
"Oh, you might seem angry and tough but deep down you're terrified, aren't you?" Alpha asked her tauntingly.
"Oh yes, very very terrified!" added Omega.
"What?" Tara shouted. "No way, I'm gonna pummel you two! There's no way I'll let you hurt Lee or any of the other spies!"
Alpha turned a nearby crank, causing the chain suspending Tara in the air to begin lowering down. The girl was slowly lowered to the floor, still kicking and struggling as she came down to eye level with the twins.
"Want to make good on that threat?" Alpha asked, pointing at his cheek. "Come on, kick me right in the face!"
"AAAAGH!" Tara cried out, swinging herself forward as hard as she could. Her legs flew at Alpha's face, only for him to dodge to the side as Tara swung back. "You little coward, stand still!"
"Try hitting me, hmm?" Omega said, turning toward her. "Come on, I'll give you a clean shot!"
Tara let out another scream and swung herself at Omega, who dodged just as quickly as his brother had done. Tara gave a cry of frustration, thrashing and kicking several times at both twins, who dodged the kicks and laughed at Tara again.
"Quit toying around! You punks! You JERKS!" Tara's eyes were beginning to tear up as her frustration exploded to the surface. She kicked wildly, blinded by rage and missing both twins completely. "You won't hurt the Clarks, I'm gonna get out of here and make you sorry!"
"Oh, I'm sure you'll see them again! Right before we smash them to bits!" said Alpha, taking a roll of tape out of his pocket. Tara's eyes widened a bit as she learned of the twins' plans, and she resumed her struggles, her wrists tugging so strongly at the chains that they were beginning to bruise. "Now, are you going to quit being so rude?"
Tara responded by spitting right in Alpha's eye, causing him to let out an angry, disgusted growl.
"I won the Southdale Spitting Competition two years in a row," said Tara proudly. "A gross competition to win, but it's still a competition."
"Let's see you spit at us after this!" Alpha replied, slapping a piece of beige-colored tape over Tara's mouth. Tara let out an angry growl and attempted to work her lips free of the tape, but she had no luck. "Ahahahaha!"
"Try to call us jerks now, little girl!"
"Mmnmm mmmll gmmmmph! I'm not a little girl!" Tara angrily replied, screaming into her gag. "Lmmt mmm gmmm!"
Alpha and Omega simply raised Tara back up to the ceiling with the crank. The two then laughed as they exited the room, leaving Tara alone to struggle.
"Cmm bmck hrr!" screamed Tara, kicking her legs in the air and causing the chain suspending her to swing wildly. "I can't let Lee and the others walk into a trap… and I really can't let them see me like this! I'm Tara Prefontaine, this doesn't happen to me! I've never felt so helpless in my life…"
The girl bowed her head, but only for a moment. She wasn't about to give up, even as the skin on her wrists began to tear and sweat began coming down her face.
"These chains can't hold me!"
The spies could see the KEPCON facility below as they approached, and landed near the entrance, looking for any signs of trouble or a trap. The twins were nowhere to be found, but the spies certainly knew they had been expected and could expect to be in serious danger soon.
"So where are the twins… and where's Tara?" asked Megan.
"I'm sure they're around here somewhere… but I'm going to look for Tara on my own. The rest of you guys need to track down the twins and try not to get captured or… well…"
"Lee, you want us to split up?" Marc said curiously, raising an eyebrow. "Isn't that dangerous considering what's at stake? I mean, splitting up is exactly what they want us to do, they'd love a chance to get you by yourself!"
"I know, but… if there's a trap, and it gets sprung, I don't want all of us to get caught. If it's just me caught, you guys can save me, if you guys get caught, I can save you," said Lee. "Plus, the twins are probably expecting us to stay together. Splitting up will confuse them and give us the element of surprise."
"Wow, Lee, that's a pretty smart plan for you!" said Tony, giving his brother a thumbs up. "Are you sure you're not just trying to impress Tara by saving her on your own?"
"…what?" Lee stammered, suddenly waving his hands. "Huh? I mean… no way! That's not why I…!"
"Everyone saw you blushing," said Megan with a smirk.
"Blushing when? I wasn't…"
"It's okay, Lee, we're ready to go by your plan," Megan interrupted, giving her brother a reprieve as he began to blush again. "Just… be careful, okay? It's really dangerous to go in alone…"
"Believe me," sighed Lee. "I know."
The spies made their way into the building and emerged into the lobby, a large room which branched off in all directions.
"All right," said Lee, pointing at a sign near the path heading left. "I think I'll head down to the basement… you guys stay up here and listen up for the twins."
"Got it," said Megan. She gestured for Marc and Tony to follow her as the three of them raced down the hallway and kept their ears peeled for Alpha and Omega.
"I just thought of something," Marc said, turning to Megan as the spies ran down the long, dark corridor. "What if Alpha and Omega are still with Tara? Like… where she's hanging up, they're watching for someone to come into the room so they can jump them?"
"If that's the case, and Lee finds Tara, he's in big trouble!" Tony said with a worried tone. "And we'll be stuck on the other side of the factory!"
Megan nodded, her own face showing as much worry as her brothers'. She didn't like Lee's plan to split up the group either, but if it would keep the entire team from being ambushed, it was worth it to divide their assets. Hopefully, she thought, Lee would be able to signal them on his communicator if he was in trouble.
"And vice versa…" Megan looked down at her own communicator. "At the first sign of trouble, we call Lee, got it?"
Marc and Tony nodded to each other. The three spies entered a large, open room, lit by flickering lights from the ceiling. In the center of the room was a large, metallic cylinder standing upright. It was nearly fifteen feet tall and about four feet wide.
"Is that a support pillar?" asked Marc, looking the strange object up and down. "That's weird, there's fifteen whole feet of space between the top of the object and the ceiling…"
As the three spies approached the object, they noticed that it was beginning to move ever so slightly forward.
"That thing is…." Tony began, reaching out with his hand and pointing at the object as it leaned over, falling down toward the spies. "That thing's coming down!"
The spies leaped back as the cylinder hit the floor with a mighty clang. In the place where the object was now stood Omega, his arms across his chest.
"Omega!" Megan shouted, pointing at the villainous twin. "That's a pretty lame trap, you know!"
"Oh, it wasn't a trap!" said Omega, showing the large apparatus behind him. It appeared to be another metallic object with several large fins protruding from the back. "It's the casing for our multi-stage rocket that we're planning to launch right at your house!"
"You're gonna blow up our house?" Tony shouted angrily. "You're crazy!"
"What's so crazy about wanting to kill all my enemy birds with one stone? Or in this case, one big boom!" Omega launched into a series of loud laughs before taking a fighting stance.
"Guys, if Omega's here, then that must mean…" Marc began, looking over at Megan.
"Right…! Alpha is with Tara! And soon with Lee!" Megan said with a gasp.
Lee ran through the facility as quickly as he could, following the signs posted that directed him toward the basement. As he was running, he continued to think about Tara and what might be happening to her… he hoped Alpha and Omega hadn't placed her in some kind of death trap or something even worse.
"Even chained up like she is, I wouldn't put it past her to try and provoke them!" thought Lee nervously. "Tara, just try to stay still and be quiet until I come rescue you!"
The signs led Lee to a large, double metal door at the end of a long hallway. The door was sealed up tight, secured by a coded keypad that controlled the door's locking mechanism. Lee stared at the keypad for a few moments, wondering what his next course of action should be. He then reached down to his belt and pulled a small ring from one of the pockets.
"The Superspy Ultimate Decoder Ring!" said Lee with a smile, holding the ring up to the keypad. It instantly deciphered the code and triggered the door to unlock, causing it to slowly open before Lee's eyes. "All right! Now where's Tara…?"
Lee began walking the basement floor, passing several side chambers as he made his way to the large, metallic gate at the end. He pressed a button near the gate, causing it to slide open and reveal the large rocket fuel storage room… and Tara.
"Mmmph…!" Tara let out a grunt and a gasp as she saw Lee enter.
"Tara! Don't worry, I'll have you out of those chains really fast!"
Tara had seen the twins planting traps in the room before they left. Her eyes widened and she shook her head, trying to verbalize a warning.
"Nmmph! Mmmph! Mmm…!"
"Tara, are the twins still in here?" asked Lee, looking back and forth. "I'd better be careful, they probably saw the gate open up and now they're looking to pounce!"
Lee carefully walked into the room, keeping up his guard.
"MMMPH! NMMMPH!" Tara shook her head even faster. "Lee, there's a-"
Lee's ankle suddenly snagged on a tripwire. He looked down.
"Oh crud…" Lee groaned, just as a large bucket of rocket fuel came crashing down on his head.
"You're going down, Omega! And your brother too!" shouted Tony, glaring at the villainous twin. "And Lee's gonna deal with your brother!"
"Wherever Lee is, my brother isn't," Omega replied, stepping toward the three spies. The spies immediately took defensive stances, while Megan wondered what Omega could possibly be talking about.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Megan asked.
"It means I'm right here!"
"Huh?" The three spies all turned at the voice behind them, only to have Alpha dive on them from behind, striking Megan with a kick to the face while smashing his arms across Marc and Tony's chests. The three of them tumbled to the ground, allowing Omega to lunge forward and grab Marc and Megan by their collars.
"Hah hah, nice one, brother!" Omega laughed.
"He was standing there the whole time?" Megan gasped, struggling to get out of Omega's grip. "But… how?"
"Not the whole time," said Alpha with a smirk, pinning Tony to the ground by placing a foot on his chest. "I was crouched down in the shadows while my brother was gathering up rocket components!"
"You dirty cheaters!" cried Tony, struggling under Alpha's foot while trying to punch him in the leg. "Well, you won't catch our brother!"
"Oh, we knew one or more of you might split off from the pack to find that insufferable girl," Omega said mischievously. "That's why we laid plenty of traps before we left! Your brother's probably triggering them right now!"
"Oh no…" thought Megan, her eyes wide with fear. "Lee!"
Lee leapt back out of the way, barely avoiding getting smashed by the barrel of fuel. It hit the ground hard, making a loud metallic noise and splashing rocket fuel all over Lee's outfit.
"Missed me!" Lee said, chuckling to himself and looking up at Tara. "Impressive?"
"You're covered in rocket fuel, idiot!" thought Tara, her eyes glancing over to a crossbow rigged to fire a flaming arrow near the barrel. "Highly flammable rocket fuel!"
Tara watched helplessly as the crossbow trap triggered, hitting the puddle of fuel near the barrel and sending a jet of flame rapidly across the long trail of rocket fuel on the floor… a trail that led right to Lee.
"…uh oh!" Lee exclaimed, attempting to flee the flames. "…as long as I'm covered in rocket fuel, I'm making a trail everywhere! I can't outrun it!"
Lee watched as the flames got closer and closer, while Tara could barely bring herself to observe, closing her eyes as the flames approached her classmate.
"No… he's going to be burned alive!" thought Tara, her struggles beginning anew. "Those freaks are going to pay if Lee gets…!"
Suddenly, Lee had a burst of quick thinking. He reached down to his belt and pulled out his freeze spray, pointing it at the trail of fire.
"Lucky I picked this back up after getting out of that ice!" Lee said, smiling. "I just hope those creepy twins left some in the can…"
Lee pressed the trigger and sprayed a cloud of freeze spray at the flames, the cold air instantly chilling them and smothering the fire. The force of the spray even froze the rocket fuel that was on the ground, though Lee still had some of it dripping from his outfit.
"Guess I need to get this thing dry-cleaned at WOOHP after the mission," thought Lee, looking up at Tara. He could see that she was still struggling, seemingly oblivious to the fact that he'd survived a close encounter with fiery death. "Hey Tara, I can get you down now!"
"Mmmmphh!" shouted Tara, continuing to struggle. "I'm glad you're alive, Lee… but I'm not giving up on getting free!"
Showing relief was a sign of weakness, thought Tara, and she wasn't about to let Lee know how glad she was that he was alive. Lee just shrugged and walked over to the chain crank, reaching out to grab the handle. As his hand drew close, he noticed a small, blinking dot placed on the wooden end of the crank.
"Hunh," said Lee, looking down at the crank. "They've got this one rigged with a trap too… I'd better be really, really careful…"
Lee reached out with his hand, extending two of his fingers and flicking the red dot off the handle. It flew through the air for a couple of seconds before exploding in a bright flash, sending out a hot wind that caused Tara's hair to briefly flutter, and forced Lee to raise his hand to shield his eyes from the flash.
"That could've been nasty!" Lee said to himself. He then turned the crank, quickly lowering Tara to the ground. "Finally, time to get you out of those chains."
The redhead walked over to Tara, who was still struggling, despite the fact that her freedom was now imminent. She glared hard at Lee as he reached to take the tape off of her mouth.
"Uh… they didn't boobytrap the tape too, did they?" Lee asked, only half-jokingly. Tara just continued to growl and glare, turning her head as Lee tried to remove her gag. "Don't worry, I'll be gentle."
Lee carefully pulled the tape from Tara's lips, causing her to wince a bit from the slight sting as it came off.
"I was just about to get free on my own, you know!" shouted Tara, continuing her struggles. Lee looked around behind Tara to see that the chains around her wrists and upper body hadn't even begun to budge. "Just let me… give me a few more minutes!"
"Tara, this isn't a game or some kind of competition!" Lee shouted in frustration. "It's a real mission with real consequences, and the longer we wait here the more danger my brothers and sister are in! I need to untie you right now!"
Tara screamed at the top of her lungs, fighting her bonds until a thin trickle of blood emerged from one of her wrists. She gritted her teeth and flexed against the chains, pushing her body toward Lee in an attempt to get him to back off.
"I can do it! Just give me more time!"
"Tara, LISTEN!" Lee grabbed Tara tightly around the waist, preventing her from struggling. She instinctively started to kick to try and push him away, but closed her eyes and stopped herself, fighting back a tear.
"Okay, I'm listening…!"
Lee breathed a heavy sigh.
"There's no shame in getting caught and put in danger… it's happened to every one of us… lots of times," said Lee.
"But not to me! I… I was humiliated, Lee! They taunted me, they… they-"
"It makes me mad too… it makes me want to fight harder, but not because I want to win, okay? I fight because I want to help people… I want to protect people everywhere from criminals, I want to protect my friends and my family, my brothers and my sister… WOOHP isn't about being better than everyone else, it's about being the best you can be and using your talents to help protect the world. Tara… please… try to think about that."
Tara looked into Lee's eyes and continued to struggle weakly. Lee tightened his grip on her, resting his hand on her chained, wounded wrists. Tara gritted her teeth and remembered the moment Jerry had first proposed to her that she join WOOHP. He was talking about seeing the world, helping people… but all Tara could think about was how awesome she'd look, how she'd be the greatest spy of all time.
"I didn't join WOOHP to help people…" thought Tara. "I joined WOOHP to help myself."
The girl bowed her head, feeling the first twinges of shame going through her. She knew she'd joined WOOHP for all the wrong reasons, and she'd nearly gotten herself and Lee killed for it.
"Lee," said Tara quietly, a bit of resistance in her voice as she swallowed her pride. "Thanks for saving me."
"It's what we do, you know," said Lee, releasing his hold on Tara slightly. "We look out for each other, protect each other, help each other when we're in trouble…"
Tara couldn't help but smile just a bit. Lee finally unwrapped his arms from around Tara's body, and she didn't try to struggle against her chains. Instead, she looked up at Lee and gave him a smile.
"I love helping my teammates out of jams," said Lee. "And not just because they're my siblings, or because you're so…" Lee blushed, tripping over his words. Tara's smile grew a bit more.
"Didn't you say your siblings were in trouble?" Tara reminded him. "Stop flirting with me and get me out of these stupid chains!"
"I wasn't flirting!" Lee replied indignantly, blushing even more.
"Riiiight…" said Tara, rolling her eyes as Lee finally began loosening her bonds. "I can't wait to start pounding those twins into dust! …with your help."
"Yeah, it'll take both of us working together to stop them," Lee said, freeing Tara from the chains and leaving her to undo the bonds around her ankles. "I just hope Megan and the others were able to hold their own long enough for me to get you out of here…"
Back in the large room on the other side of the factory, Megan, Marc, and Tony had been bound tightly with rope around the large, metallic cylinder, which was now propped up from the ground by a rig as the twins were quickly fashioning it into their rocket-propelled missile. The rope was wrapped tightly around the spies' waists, pinning them to their sides and making it quite difficult for them to do much struggling.
"I can't believe they beat us so quickly!" Tony shouted, straining and grunting against the ropes. "They totally got the jump on us, no fair!"
"Fair or not, we'd better get loose quickly!" Marc said, watching as Omega stepped away from the missile. "If I read their schematic correctly, they just finished attaching the final component!"
"That's right, Marc Clark!" Alpha said, standing at a control panel for the missile and programming the coordinates. On the control panel's screen, Megan could see the image of their family's house suddenly pop up with a targeting reticule over it.
"Oh no…. they're getting ready to fire!" Megan cried fearfully, intensifying her struggles. "Come on, Lee…! I know you and Tara can get back here in time! …as long as those traps the twins mentioned didn't blow you up first!"
The three siblings struggled and shared worried expressions as a timer popped up on the control console, reading '00:01:00' in big red letters. The timer began ticking down, counting out the last sixty seconds before the launch.
"Oh, how dramatic!" Omega said gleefully, rubbing his hands together. "Brother, this launch will be a great success!"
"Yes, a toast to our victory!" concurred Alpha, slapping his twin brother a high five.
"Oh man!" Tony shouted, looking over at the timer as it ticked down past forty. "You two clowns won't get away with this, you know! We'll find a way out, or our big brother Lee will stop you, or…!"
"Tell me, why didn't we gag them like we gagged that girl?" Omega asked his brother, picking up the roll of beige tape they'd left out near the control console.
"Wouldn't it be delightful for those two OOPSIE fools to hear their children's screams as the missile approaches?" asked Alpha, mentioning the spies' parents while staying his brother's hand. "Besides, we'll only have to put up with their whining for… only thirty more seconds!"
"Ah, you have a point!" Omega said, turning back to the captive spies. "Yes, beg for mercy if you wish, you have but twenty seconds before launch!"
The three looked at the timer and continued struggling, knowing their time was just about up.
"15… 14… 13… come on, Lee, come on!" thought Megan. "Tara, I once said you were a fantastic girl… well here's your chance to prove it!"
The timer counted down past ten.
"Hey you, catch this!"
Alpha and Omega turned, only to see Lee throwing a wrench right at Alpha's face. The wrench slammed into the twin's forehead, causing him to let out a scream of pain and fall backwards to the ground, groaning and clutching his temple.
"You'll pay for that!" Omega shouted, running at Lee and Tara as they entered the room. Lee turned to Tara quickly.
"You handle Omega while I shut down that countdown, got it?"
"Got it!" said Tara, readying her fists to keep Omega busy.
"Oh no you don't!" Omega shouted, stretching one of his arms outward toward Lee. Tara responded by diving for Omega's legs, tackling him fiercely to the ground and preventing him from grabbing Lee before he could reach the control console. "You little brat, you won't escape us again!"
"I'm no brat!" Tara replied, using her fierce strength to try and wrestle with Omega on the ground. Lee reached the control panel just as it ticked down past four.
"Lee, hurry!" Megan shrieked, watching the control panel as the timer went down to three.
"Oh man, I don't know which button to push!" Lee cried frantically. He curled his right hand into a fist. "Here goes nothing!"
With as much force as he could, Lee slammed his fist down on the control panel, sending shards of metal, wires, and buttons everywhere. The timer terminated at '2', sparing Lee's siblings and cancelling the launch.
"When in doubt, just punch it!" said Lee, shaking his hand to relieve some of the pain.
"Something we both agree on!" Tara replied with a smile, struggling as Omega pinned her to the ground. "Grrr!"
"He might've stopped the rocket for now, but after we deal with you we can restart the launch any time we want!" Omega grunted, pushing down as Tara tried forcing him up. "I don't think so… you're much too weak to handle me!"
"Never… call… me… WEAK!" Tara shouted, gritting her teeth and redoubling her efforts. Lee ran over to the missile and began untying the others, just as Alpha was starting to pick himself up from the ground.
"Better hurry with those ropes, the other creepy twin is getting up!" Tony shouted.
"Right…!" said Lee, untying the last knot and releasing his siblings. "Got it!"
Tara drove her knee up into Omega's gut, stunning him and enabling her to push his body off of hers. She stood up and struck a victorious pose, only to have Alpha slam hard into her side, sending her sprawling to the ground.
"Tara!" Megan cried, watching as her friend lay seemingly lifeless nearby. Alpha began to laugh, proud of the vicious hit he'd delivered to the unconscious girl.
"It's lights out for her!" Alpha said, turning to the spies.
"And now, lights out for you!" Omega shouted. The twins ran at the four children, leaping up into the air to deliver a powerful drop kick to Lee and Megan's chests. The two were ready, crouching down and catching the twins before the kicks could make impact.
"Nobody knocks out a fellow WOOHP agent!" said Lee, turning to Megan and smiling.
"That's right, you two are in big trouble now!" Megan added. Lee and Megan swung the twins into one another, causing their heads and bodies to collide with tremendous force. They let out grunts of pain, then two more grunts when they were unceremoniously dropped to the floor.
"All right, yeah!" shouted Tony victoriously. "Now let's wrap this one up!"
"Right," Lee nodded, turning to the spot where Tara had fallen. He could see her on the ground, rubbing her side slightly in pain. "Whew, she's woken up…"
"Unnnh… guess I celebrated a bit too soon," groaned Tara, looking over at Lee. "Did we win?"
Lee smiled, both at the fact that Tara was okay, and at the fact that she'd acknowledged her mistake.
"Not yet, but soon we-"
Lee's words were cut off by the twins' creepy laughter. The two of them smiled unsettlingly at the spies, then stood up, their hands joined.
"Did you really think that would be the end of us?" hissed Alpha.
"We've got one more trick up our sleeves!" Omega added, punctuating his words with a laugh.
"Oh crud, if this is what I think it is, then…" Tony began.
"We gotta stop them!" shouted Marc. Lee and Megan lunged toward the twins, but were soon blinded by a flash of light as Alpha and Omega merged into a combined being that towered over the five spies. "No…!"
The combined form of Alpha and Omega began to laugh, clenching its fists, which crackled with lightning.
"They've done this before?" Tara asked, rubbing her head.
"Yeah, but we stopped them…" Lee told her.
"Then what's the big deal?" Tara replied, the smile returning to her face. "All I see is one big creepy clown instead of two little shrimpy ones. They're no match for us!"
"Oh no…" Marc groaned. "Don't tell me she still hasn't learned anything."
"Don't confuse arrogance for confidence, Marc," replied Megan. She looked over at Tara, who was striking another fighting pose. "All right, maybe it's a little bit of both… but she's right, we can totally kick Alpha and Omega's butts!"
"I don't think so!" shouted the twins. The combined figure extended its arms at Marc and Tony, hoping to ensnare them in its grasp. The two swiftly dodged, not wanting to be caught by the same trick again. The twins' arms then went for Lee and Tara. Lee barely left out of the way, while Tara was forced to contort her body downward to avoid being caught.
"I usually love limbo contests but this is really giving my calves a nasty workout!" shouted Tara, wincing slightly as her legs bent all the way back to accommodate her position. "Even I'm not sure if I can wrestle something this big!"
"Hmm…" mused Lee, rubbing his chin. "Maybe if we take this one part at a time…"
The giant villain kicked down at Megan, striking her in the chest and knocking her onto her back. She quickly pulled out her freeze spray and iced its leg to the ground before it could pull it back up… but the twins pulled their leg up anyway, easily breaking free of the ice and raising up for another stomp.
"Their strength is incredible in this form!" said Marc, running across the room to avoid being stomped himself. "Maybe if I can re-aim the rocket at the twins, I can blow them to pieces! I know we can't ever kill anyone, but if it's to protect the lives of my brothers and sister, I don't have a choice!"
Marc ran to the control panel and inspected the wiring, wondering what he might be able to do to fix it. Lee looked over at him and quickly shook his head.
"Marc, we don't have time for that! I have a better idea!"
"You better come up with it soon!" shouted Tony. He ran between the twins' legs, only to see an outstretched hand come barreling toward him. "Aaaaah!"
Tara watched as the twins snatched Tony off of the ground and pulled his thrashing form high into the air.
"I wonder how high we can throw you, hmmm?" came the twin's voiced in unison from the combined creature's mouth. "Right through the ceiling, perhaps?"
"Lemme go you psycho! …psychos…! Whatever you are!" Tony pounded his fists down on the twins' arm, but their grip was unrelenting, and Tony soon found himself in position to be flung up into the air. "…help!"
"Marc, Megan, both of you grab a leg and use your cables to tie them together!" said Lee, who then turned to Tara. "We're going to take this big guy from behind!"
"That's what I'm talking about!" Tara said enthusiastically. "Let's go!"
Marc and Megan looked over at each other uncomfortably, hoping they could grab onto the twins' legs tightly enough to secure the cables between them.
"It's now or never, Marc, Tony needs us!"
"Right, Megan, I just… I don't want to get stomped flat, you know?"
"Come on!" Megan shouted, running over to the twins' right leg and grabbing on tight. The twins, sensing Megan's attempt to corral their leg, began raising it up off the ground and stomping down hard, effortlessly carrying Megan along for the ride. "Aaaaaaaahhh!"
"Nnnnghhh!" Marc wrapped his arms around the left leg and placed his hand down on his belt, preparing to deploy the cables. The twins continued to stomp repeatedly, lifting both spies up off the air and sending shockwaves through them with every stomp. "I'm getting nauseous!"
"Enough of this!" the twins shouted, looking down at Tony. "Time to send you flying!"
Tony grabbed onto the arm holding him for dear life, clinging to it to keep from being thrown. After several attempts, the twins let out a cry of frustration. The fused creature balled up its other hand into a fist and prepared to strike.
"That's not gonna feel good…!" Tony thought, blinking his eyes tightly closed.
Suddenly, the fused creature found itself with two spies hanging on its back. Lee and Tara were hanging off the twins' shoulders, and before the creature could swing its fist at Tony, the two reached around and poked the twins right in the eyes. The twins let out a howl of pain, dropping Tony to the ground and swinging their fist to the side, causing the creature to punch itself hard in its other wrist, prompting another loud scream of pain. Marc and Megan, who had already secured the twins' legs together with cables, tugged hard on them, which caused the eight-foot-tall figure to land hard on the ground, still wincing in pain from the self-inflicted blow and the poke to its eyes.
"You're gonna be sorry you did that…!" shouted the creature as Lee, Tara, Marc, Megan, and Tony gathered around it.
"No, you'll be sorry!" replied Lee. Tara smirked at him. "…oh come on, I didn't have time to think of a good comeback! Spies, attack pattern Z!"
"What's that?" asked Tara, unfamiliar with the Clarks' signals.
"Pound the crud out of them!" Lee told her.
"Oh cool, that's what I was gonna go with anyway," said Tara.
Before the twins could gain their bearings, the five spies pummeled them with a flurry of powerful punches, knocking the large creature senseless. The speed at which the punches came left the twins unable to put up a resistance, and the cables around their legs kept them from standing. Soon, the rain of blows was just too much for Alpha and Omega to handle, and they could no longer sustain their combined form. The creature split, returning the twins to normal in an unconscious state.
"Hey, we did it!" Megan said happily, raising her fist victoriously. "Yeah!"
"Nice work, guys!" said Lee, complimenting the other spies… including Tara. "You did great on your first mission…"
"Yeah, even if you did get captured," said Tony with a laugh. Tara leaned in toward him and smiled menacingly.
"Watch it, your brother gave me permission to give you a noogie any time you got out of line," said Tara, slowly extending her hand toward Tony.
"What?" shouted Tony, glaring at Lee. "Is that true?"
Lee began laughing nervously, prompting Megan and Marc to glare.
"…I might've said it as a joke, maybe…" Lee chuckled, placing his hand behind his head. "And besides, Tara would never actually hurt you."
"Maybe tickle you a little," Tara said, continuing to relish the moment. "Megan told me all your ticklish spots. Like the one right below your ribs on the left side."
"Aw, come on!" Tony shouted, looking back and forth between Megan and Lee. "Why are you guys always doing this to me, huh?"
As Tony sweated it out, the other spies shared a friendly laugh, glad that they could joke around now that Alpha and Omega were finally beaten. As the laughter continued, the spies' communicators switched on and they could see Jerry on their screens.
"Just checking in with you, spies, have Alpha and Omega been defeated? And is our newest agent doing all right?"
"See for yourself," said Tara, hoisting the unconscious bodies of Alpha and Omega over her shoulders. "I whipped their butts all by myself, and saved the others at the same-"
Lee and Megan quickly grabbed Tara, holding her arms and covering up her mouth, prompting her to drop the unconscious villains to the floor. Tara struggled against them, not giving her full effort but still clearly showing her displeasure at their holding her.
"As you can see, Tara's doing just fine!" Megan said happily.
"And we all beat Alpha and Omega, working as a team!" continued Lee, as Tara managed to extricate her mouth from the spies' grasp.
"Aw come on, you guys, can't you take a joke? I was just messing with- mph!" Tara managed to get out before Lee covered up her mouth again. "Mmmm!"
"I see you've still got enough energy left for horseplay, but I would like you to come back to WOOHP as soon as possible for a quick debriefing. We'll be sending our containment team over to pick up the twins and they'll take you back to WOOHP with them. Excellent work, spies!"
Jerry's face disappeared from the communicators, and Lee and Megan released Tara, who shot them both a quick glare before crossing her arms back over her chest.
"You guys know it was just a joke, right?" Tara asked, looking over at Lee. "Just wanted to see Jerry's face when I told him I'd taken both those jerks down."
Lee smiled, indicating that he realized Tara was just playing around.
"Yeah yeah… I think you've learned your lesson, Tara," said Lee with a smirk. "I… I have to come clean with you, I was about to ask Jerry to have you kicked out of WOOHP just before we got called downtown. After what you said, I just… well, I thought you'd be a really bad spy and do something really reckless. I was worried about my brothers and sister and-"
"It's okay," said Tara calmly. "I know you were looking out for them. Guys, I'm… I'm sorry I was like that before. I had no idea of the danger you guys have to be in, I thought it would be a piece of cake, but it turns out I almost caused the whole town to get blown up."
"Hey, there's nothing wrong with being brave and competitive," said Megan, placing a hand on Tara's shoulder. She looked over at Marc and Tony, who nodded and smiled.
"Just… when we're on a dangerous mission, leave all that 'competition' stuff behind, okay?" Marc added. Tara nodded, then turned her gaze to Lee.
"I'm still going to be the best WOOHP agent of all time," Tara told him.
"Bring it on!" Lee said, pointing a finger at Tara. "I'm gonna be the youngest superspy EVER, and I'm going to go back out to the training course and break all your records!"
"You could try for a hundred years and not break all the records I set. Oh, and next time we go out on a mission? I'm gonna be the one saving your butt. You know that guy Mel, the one who captured you? Well, I'm gonna make it a point to kick his butt and then drag his beaten, broken body all the way to wherever you are, just to see the look on your face!"
"That's nothing! Next time Alpha and Omega break out of WOOHP jail, I'm going to go kick their butts and send them to you as a birthday present, along with a video recording of me kicking their butts! Oh, and that's only after I break all the old records of mine you broke at Southdale. While I'm at it, I think I'll learn how to build computers and plant trees just so I can win THOSE competitions too!"
"Oh, it's on, Lee!"
"It is SO on!"
Megan, Marc, and Tony watched Lee and Tara's continuing friendly argument, with Megan resting a hand on her chin and wearing a very annoyed expression.
"They could go on for hours like this," said Megan with a sigh.
"Tell me about it," groaned Tony. "…wait, you guys better not be thinking about breaking my skateboarding records!"
"I really hope the WOOHP containment team gets here soon," muttered Marc.
Lee and Tara hadn't slowed down for a second.
Back at WOOHP, Jerry once again commended the spies for a job well done.
"Tara, while you did stumble at the beginning, your bravery and skill is still quite impressive. Still, such a capture on your very first mission… are you sure you wish to stay with the organization?"
"Of course!" Tara said, a proud smile still etched on her face. "It'll take a lot more than being chained up by a couple of super creeps to discourage me. In fact, next time I think I'll be the one to save Lee's butt!"
"You told me that already," groaned Lee, rolling his eyes.
"Right, yes, well, as long as you can keep your ego in check I think you'll be a wonderful member of WOOHP! Welcome again to the team!"
Tara smiled and gave a slight bow of her head as a show of quiet respect.
"Thanks, Jerry…" she said, turning to Lee and whispering. "I promise… you've got nothing to worry about."
Lee smiled at her, finally glad that he felt he could trust Tara as a member of WOOHP.
"Who knows, it might actually be fun having her along…"
"Well, anyway," continued Jerry, "I have some news for you all. I'd like to thank you for training Tara, but I have to say that she won't be part of your group."
"Huh?" Tony said in disbelief. "But we spent all that time training her and hanging out with her!"
"Yeah, Jerry, what's up?" asked Lee, raising an eyebrow. Tara too looked surprised, and disappointed.
"But you just said-"
"Agent Prefontaine will be a member of WOOHP, just… not in your individual squad. Oh, don't worry, she'll be staying in your school, I'm not reassigning her to Australia or anything. I've decided to make Tara the first member of our new WOOHP mentoring program."
"WOOHP mentoring?" Megan asked, blinking in a somewhat bewildered way.
"Yes, I'm placing Tara under the tutelage of an established superspy in WOOHP, whom she'll be accompanying on missions and learning under. I think it'll put Tara on the fast track to superspydom! Who knows, she might become our youngest superspy ever!"
Tara smirked at Lee upon hearing this. Lee grumbled a bit under his breath.
"Tara, you'll be working with Britney on your missions from now on," said Jerry, showing Britney's face on the monitor. "You'll meet with her tomorrow and go on your first mission together."
"Sounds great!" said Tara, smiling eagerly. Marc took out his PDA and did a few quick searches.
"Britney's pretty cool, we all met her a while back and she was lots of fun," said Marc. "She even told us about all of the records she holds at her old high school. She was pretty humble about them so we really had to pry to get information out of her, check this out…"
Marc showed Tara all the records that Britney continued to hold at her school. Tara's eyes went wide.
"Those… those marks are all better than mine!" Tara exclaimed. "But how'd she…"
"Well, she IS five years older than you," said Lee with a smile. "But don't worry, it'll give you something to strive for, right? I mean, we're not even IN high school yet…"
"But still… I see a challenge, I have to beat it! I can't let these records go unbroken!" declared Tara, who immediately launched herself into a series of practice punches. "Huah! Huhhh! Hyaaaah!"
"I can see that Tara and Britney are going to get along just fine," said Megan, giggling loudly. The spies, and even Jerry, joined Megan in her laughter as Tara continued throwing punches at the air.
Back at Southdale the next day, Lee was leaning against his locker, letting out a long sigh as Megan, Marc, and Tony came over.
"Guess what?" Megan said excitedly. "Peter Williams agreed to go to the homecoming dance with me! He's so dreamy, and he's up for homecoming king too! If he wins, he said he'll make me his queen!"
"And I asked Sheena out just a few minutes ago and she agreed to go with me!" Mark said. "I even apologized to her for forgetting to ask before and she apologized to ME for not asking me earlier! And then she kissed me on the cheek! See where her lipstick touched my face?"
"Yeah, Marc, sparkly pink glitter is definitely not you," said Megan, giggling as she noticed the mark on her brother's cheek.
"Well I got a date with that foreign exchange girl!" said Tony, grinning from ear to ear.
"The one from France?" asked Megan. Tony replied with a nod.
"Nice!" Marc replied, giving his brother a high five. "So, Lee, how's it going?"
"Still nothing," sighed Lee, bowing his head. "And with only two days left… I guess I'm gonna have to go with Tami. It's better than nothing, right, guys?"
Lee looked over at his siblings, who were coughing uncomfortably and shifting their feet. Lee let out an even bigger sigh. Then, he saw someone coming down the hallway. It was Tara, smiling as she happily strode down the hall toward Lee and his siblings.
"Hey, Tara!" Megan greeted her as she walked past. Lee leaned up and whispered in her ear.
"How'd the mission go?" he quietly asked. "And how was Britney?"
"Mission went awesome, we kicked butt," Tara replied. "And as for Britney… I have no idea how someone that girly and sweet could've set so many athletic records. She has no competitive drive at all! I mean, I like her and all, but sometimes she can be kind of annoying… she actually asked me what I was wearing to homecoming. As if I'm even going to homecoming."
"…you're… not going to homecoming?" Marc asked curiously.
"Why not?" Lee asked.
"It's dumb," said Tara. "It's just a bunch of sappy dancing and silly music and no competition. …and besides, I don't even have someone to go with."
"Oh?" Megan said, leaning over toward Lee, who could immediately tell what his sister was up to. Lee gulped nervously, turning back toward Tara who was now staring right at him, her eyes locked onto his.
"What?" said Tara, leaning in toward him. "You wanted to ask me something?"
Lee looked at Tara, his eyes going up and down her body and back up to her face. No doubt about it, Tara was really pretty… Lee didn't even mind the fact that she had just as much muscle mass as he did.
"Go to the homecoming dance with Tara? Would she even want to go if I asked her?"
Lee opened up his mouth to speak, only to hear a shrill voice coming from far down the hall.
"Hey, you!" shouted Tami, pointing at Tara as she and her entourage of girls walked over. "You're not acting my Lee to homecoming, are you?"
"Excuse me?" Tara said indignantly, turning toward Tami. "Your Lee?"
"Oh yes, I've had my eyes on Lee for a long time, and you're not going to ask him to homecoming before I do! Besides, he already agreed to go with me!"
"…huh?" Tara said, turning toward Lee. "You'd REALLY go out with this bimbo?"
"Listen, Tami…" said Lee, taking a step toward her. "I never actually said I'd go to homecoming with you… and um… actually… I was about to ask Tara."
"WHAT?" shouted Tami, not noticing the very small blush that had formed on Tara's face.
"You were going to ask me?" she thought, looking over at Lee and noticing just how handsome the redheaded boy was… remembering how good it felt when his arms were around her back at the KEPCON facility, and how kind he'd been to forgive her after she'd been such an arrogant jerk. "I… guess homecoming wouldn't suck so bad if I were going with you."
"Yeah… Tara, would you go to homecoming with me?" Lee asked.
"Oh no you don't!" Tami whined, pointing at Tara. "You… you step off of my man right now!"
Tara quickly positioned herself between Tami and Lee, staring down the blonde with a very intimidating glower. Lee placed his hand on Tara's shoulder, prompting her to turn toward him. Lee was slowly shaking his head.
"Don't… you could break her in half if you wanted but I really don't want this getting physical," thought Lee, trying to convey that message with a concerned look.
"Hey! You big muscley freak!" shrieked Tami. "I'm talking to you!"
Tami poked her finger into Tara's chest, prompting Tara to once again look back at Lee, giving him an expression that said 'I won't hurt her but please let me have some fun.'. Lee gave Tara a shrug and a very slight smile.
"You step off my man, or I'll- aaaaaaaaaahhhh!" Tami's words were cut off as Tara suddenly lifted her into the air. "Put me down! Put me down right now!"
Tara began bench pressing Tami in front of everyone, easily lifting the skinny girl up and down more than a dozen times, prompting horrified gasps from Tami's entourage, but laughter and cheering from everyone else as Tami shrieked and thrashed in Tara's mighty grasp. Finally, after about twenty repetitions, Tara set Tami gently back on her feet.
"Now, who's stepping off whose man?" asked Tara, leaning in once more. Tami backed off, pointing at Tara as she and her entourage quickly retreated.
"Fine!" shrieked Tami. "Keep him, you big freak! You… you… man girl!"
Tami stormed off, while Tara turned back to Lee. By now, Megan had stars in her eyes.
"That was so awesome how you bench pressed Tami!" Megan squealed, fawning over Tara like a fangirl. "Marc, did you get it on your cameraphone? I wanna put in on Youtube!"
Marc laughed nervously and put a hand on Megan's shoulder, while Tony put his hand on Megan's other shoulder. The two began to calmly guide her away.
"Let's get you something to calm you down, I think you're overstimulated for the day," said Marc, laughing a bit as he and Tony dragged their sister off. The crowd parted, leaving Tara and Lee alone in the hall.
"Tara, I'm sorry Tami talked to you like that… I know it must hurt to be called-"
"Totally used to it," said Tara, putting her hands on her hips. "Trust me, if I was afraid of being called a freak or a man girl, I never would've started working out."
"Well… I just want you to know that you're really pretty, and I think you're the toughest girl I've ever-"
"I already agreed to go to homecoming with you, don't make me change my mind," said Tara, smirking and placing a hand on Lee's shoulder. "See you Friday night."
"Right…" said Lee, smiling back at Tara and watching as she walked away down the hall. He couldn't help but blush as he leaned back against his locker. "There's still no way I'm letting her keep all those records, though!"
Tara continued to walk, glad that she had both a date to homecoming and a set of loyal new friends. She was fine with putting her competitive urges aside for her new endeavor, at least as she got to keep them alive and well in everything else. She walked to her next class, happier and more confident than she'd been in a long time.
"If homecoming goes well, maybe one day I'll tell you why I started breaking all your records, Lee…"
All of Tara's hard work was finally paying off.