Chapter 1

It was an ordinary, average day in my life. As usual, while getting up from bed I accidentally knocked a lamp on the floor which broke up immediately. It was no big problem: I was going to buy a new lamp, anyway and the current one didn't work as lamps should do. It was because of previously falling off of the nightstand.

First thing I noticed after awakening was that 99 wasn't in bed. Next was the clock on the closet door: it showed 6:45 AM. Oh great, I overslept again! How 99 manages to get up in time, when I oversleep sometimes, is a mystery. I jumped from the bed and ran to the bathroom. It was empty too. A wet washcloth was hanging from the rack next to the sink and wet towels were still on the floor from her morning shower. Also, she had hung wet panty hose from the shower curtain rod. Funny. I could have used them on my last mission when I dressed in drag. She advanced me every time this morning!

While brushing my teeth I looked in the mirror. It showed the face of a perfect secret CONTROL agent 86. That's me. There was not much time to brush because I was running late, so I did my work quickly. That's why I accidentally used the wrong brush, pushing the trigger bottom of the gun brush, and a bullet burned right through one of our new towels. Of course, I forgot about my brush gun – a dangerous weapon for unexpected events. But it didn't lower my mood. As I have said, it was an ordinary day in my life.

While going to the kitchen I felt the seductive smell of scrambled eggs. My stomach began to sing a song of joy and … hunger. There was 99 at the kitchen stove. My wife and partner looked really beautiful at the range. I didn't repeat my previous bumbling and said loudly:

— Hi Honey, it's me, Max!

I didn't want to test her reflexes on this good day. She had a good right cross for a girl and could easily confuse me with some KAOS agent.

She turned to me and said joyfully:

— Good morning, sleeping beauty! You overslept fifteen minutes. Breakfast waits for you on the table.

— Thanks, honey, — I said and began to eat my scrambled eggs.

In five minutes my shoe phone began to call and request my attention. I said:

— Oh no, it's Chief. We can't even eat without being distracted! What does he want?

— Or, maybe, it's the shoemaker. — Replied 99. — I have given your shoe phone number to him.

— Why would you do that? — I asked. I thought it was a crazy and ill-conceived idea to give my shoe phone number to anybody except CONTROL agents and my old buddy Sid.

— Honey, he can contact you about your shoes. It's good, isn't it? Think about it, sweetie. It's so logical for a shoemaker to know your personal shoe phone number!

— All right, — I answered with a sigh, considering that there might be KAOS agents who had infiltrated the cobblers. However, I didn't feel like arguing. — I will answer the phone.

I stood up lazily and walked to the wardrobe. I lifted my shoe and opened it, put it to my right ear and began to listen.

— Honey, either my shoe is broken or somebody on the line uses sign language!

— Max, look closer. Maybe it's not the right shoe. — My lovely wife suggested to me. Of course, I knew it was wrong shoe. My intuition was so great I could rely on it. So I said it to 99.

— 99, of course, I know it's the wrong shoe. I was just trying to find out if you knew it. — I said and began to search for the right one.

I had many pairs of shoes so sometimes it was confusing to decide which pair to wear. Every pair was shoe phone, every pair was black, and every pair fit my feet precisely. I don't know why each pair had a unique phone number. It was very annoying.

After finding the right shoe I opened it and prepared to dial Chief, but instead of Chief's voice I heard Larabee saying: "Black prince will dive into Pacific Ocean". My answer was immediate: "Wolfs aren't afraid of finches". Something clicked and Larabee said: "It's all right, Chief". In a second I was glad to hear the voice of our Chief. Or, maybe, not so glad…

— Max, where are you? Why are you always late? — Yes, it was the voice you can't forget even if you wanted to. But now Chief was being really unfair - it was so early. To be honest, what else one can expect from a boss who carps at worker because of any trifles?

— Calm down, Chief. Please don't shout. I can hear you. What do you want? It's very early. We'll be in headquarters at 7:45. No, even earlier — at 7:44, if you want. We are just having breakfast now.

— Well, eat your breakfast quickly and hurry up to the HQ. I need your help, so please don't be late.

— OK, Chief. May I continue my urgent work?

— What work do you mean?

— Breakfast. — This short answer surprised my boss. He said nothing… for three seconds, sighed and then spoke again:

— I forgot to tell you there is a new password for today. You can find it in your red code book at number B-45. That's all. Bye.

Well, I was glad that it was all. There was a loud click on the other end as Chief hung up. After hanging up myself, I put my shoe phone in the wardrobe and returned to the drawing room. My wife looked at me with her eyes wide open.

— What did Chief say to you?

— He said we must be in CONTROL at 7:44. How I hate phone calls like that!

— That's all? — You can't fool 99 nor can you tell her only part of the truth. With her woman's intuition, she always understands that story continues, not ends.

— No, that's not all. The Chief said we should use new passwords for today. We can find them in the red code book at number…, number…, number…. Oh, darn. Sorry, 99, I forgot the number.

Even my perfect memory sometimes takes a hike.

— What had you said before Chief told you about the passwords?

— I was talking about… uh... breakfast. Oh, yes Ninety-Nine, now I remember! He said it was under number B-45 in the red code book.

— Well, that obviously means we will find our new passwords in the blue code book at number A-17. Drink your coffee. I'll find the blue book. — 99 has never forgotten about my stomach. I appreciate her for it. I surely could have mentioned the A-17 password, but it was so cool to do nothing except eat! Well, to be honest, I didn't even know there was a blue book.

99 pretty quickly found the blue book and brought it to me. She started to thumb through the little book and noticed A-17. She began to read the password phrases.

First phrase: "Twenty cows never play the same golf party again"

Reply: "Dinosaurs will fly after rainfall at Wednesday"

Second phrase: "The Beatles are the great chess players except Ringo"

Reply: "Drinking milk doesn't make your ears grow"

— Who dreams up these stupid passwords? — 99's feelings about new code phrases were nothing compared to my feelings about them. These phrases were so hard to remember!

— It's Larabee. He doesn't do much at his work so he likes to deal with passwords and codes to relieve boredom.

— Well, let's get going to HQ. We can memorize these silly things on the way.

I sighed, kissed my lovely wife and went to the wardrobe. To find all my clothes, to wear them isn't hard, but it can be challenging with lack of time. While my faithful companion dressed, I, too, searched for something to wear.

Ten minutes passed. Maybe I should be jealous of 99 – she put on her clothes quicker than I, but I wouldn't do it and in this way spoil such a good day. It's boring to tell you how we exited the house, directed to the Sunbeam Tiger and became a little distraught when I lost the ignition keys. And I'll not get into it – it was an ordinary day in my life.

I just kissed 99. The sweet little dear found them, so I kissed her. It was our agreement – when I forget my car keys and she finds them, I kiss her. Maybe she thinks I am naïve enough so I cannot guess she made spares. But she will never guess that I never take my own ignition keys. I kill two birds with one stone –I can kiss 99 without taking keys. Why should I deal with some keys, when 99 will do it? And on this day 99 blushed when I kissed her. I kissed her so passionately so she forgot about all keys in the world. But I didn't forget. I said:

— Honey, start the engine! Chief awaits.

And we took off to HQ. Like I said, it was an ordinary day in my life.