99 arrived at Control headquarters earlier than normal on a rather mild February day. The night before she had gotten a message on her answering machine from the Chief asking her to come in as early as possible the following day, that he had something urgent to talk to her about. 99 went immediately to her office, removed her hat and coat, smoothed down her hair and then headed to the Chief's office. She walked in and smiled brightly at him.
"Good morning, Chief!"
"99!" He said, looking up from his papers on his desk. "I wasn't sure if you got my message."
"I got it." 99 sat down. "What's up?"
"I have an assignment for you."
"Wonderful. Is Max coming in?"
"No 99," Chief started, "This is just for you."
"Oh, ok." 99 said somewhat surprised. "Well, tell me about it."
"Before I tell you I need you to promise me you won't tell a soul, not even Max, about it."
"It's that important?"
"Your role in it is, yes. It has to be believable. I know you and Max are close and what I'm going to have you do will be very hard on both of you but you must keep it a secret."
"Ok, Chief." 99 said, skeptical of what the assignment could be, "I won't tell Max. I won't tell anyone."
"I hope so. Your life will depend on it." He sighed, "I debated even putting you on this assignment but you are the perfect candidate…"
"I can do it, Chief." She said, confidently.
"I know you can, 99. Just know that it's going to be hard on you emotionally."
"Well, why don't you fill me in on what's going on?"
'Last year for your vacation you went to the Island of San Jirman, correct?"
"That's right. It was a marvelous time." She said, recalling her trip. It was wonderful getting away from the trials of being a spy for a week. She had gone by herself and enjoyed every minute shopping, eating at exotic restaurants, and laying on the beach. She loved it so much she was tempted to stay there. But back home in Washington was a man who had her heart in the palm of his hand and she knew there was no way she could ever leave him, regardless if they were merely casually dating or not.
"And while you were there," Chief continued, "You met Victor Royal, correct?"
"99… Victor, with the help of his casino on the island, is providing KAOS with thousands upon thousands of dollars. Leaders from all over the world go to Victor's casino, gamble away all their money and mysteriously disappear. Victor in turn gives seventy-five percent of the winnings to KAOS to help fund their operations. What's more, once the world leaders disappear from Victor's casino, KAOS puts one of their men in charge. It's a very large operation that we need to eliminate."
"How do I fit in, Chief?"
"With Victor. 99, I remember you telling me that on numerous occasions Victor has asked you to marry him and move back to San Jirman."
"He has." She confirmed.
"We need you to accept his proposal, go over to San Jirman and find out exactly how he is doing it. It will be dangerous and you will be all alone. The only thing that could possibly save your life will be your cover as Victor's fiancée."
"Oh Chief." She said, not expecting to be handed a mission like this.
"99, you are the perfect candidate. You need to call Victor up and tell him that you have thought about it and would like to accept his marriage proposal." Chief handed her a plane ticket. "Here is your ticket. You leave at three. You are to pack up your office just as if you really were quitting. I will inform Larabee that you have put in your official resignation and, as I'm sure, he'll get the word out. This has got to be believable. You and I will be the only two people who know you haven't really quit. Everyone else must believe you."
"Chief, I don't know…"
"Max will forgive you." Chief said, knowing that the only reason she was so hesitant was because of her partner. "He will. 99, I'm counting on you. Tell me you'll take the mission."
99 sighed and looked at the Chief. "I-I'll take the mission."
"I promise you, Max will forgive you."
"I hope so."
"99, you can't worry about Max. This mission needs your full attention." Chief said looking at the woman before him. "I know how you feel towards Max, 99. And I'm well aware that leaving him will probably be the hardest part of the mission for you but just remember it isn't permanent."
"Chief, if he doesn't forgive me I don't know what I'd do."
"I have faith in Max. Now you need to get to cleaning out your office. And remember, tell no one."
"Right Chief. Um, shouldn't I have an official resignation?"
"I already have one." 99 got up and sighed.
"Well, I suppose I'll talk to you later, Chief."
"Yes, 99." Chief cleared his throat. "99 it was a pleasure working with you. I sincerely wish you all the best in the next chapter of your life." Chief said, loudly enough so Larabee could possibly hear. 99 smiled at him and then left his office. She stopped at Larabee's desk.
"Larabee, do you know if we have any cardboard boxes laying around?" He got up and went to a supply closet.
"Sure, I think we have some. What do you need it for?"
"Just to pack a few things."
"Spring cleaning, huh?" He asked, reaching for the top shelf.
"Larabee, it's February."
"So? Doesn't everyone do their spring cleaning in February?" He asked, handing a box to her.
"No, Larabee. They usually do it in spring. That's why it's called spring cleaning."
"You know, that makes sense…" He said going back to his desk. 99 smiled.
"Thanks for the box, Larabee. I'll see you later." She made her way to her office and placed the box on her desk. 99 looked around, though she knew she wasn't really quitting she couldn't help but feel sad. 99 picked up her phone, dialed Victor's number and informed him that she would be delighted to marry him. He was thoroughly pleased and very excited for her to arrive. 99 informed him that she would be leaving that very day. They made a few arrangements and then 99 hung up the phone.
One by one she started placing items in her box. She had just gotten the desk cleared off when Larabee stormed in.
"99, Chief just had me file your resignation. You're really quitting?"
"Yes, Larabee. It's time for me to move on."
"Move on? Where are you going?"
"San Jirman Island." She started, "I'm getting married to a man named Victor Royal. I met him on my vacation last year. It's time for me to leave Control and worry about the rest of my life."
"99… are you sure you want to do this?"
"Yes, Larabee. I'm positive." 99 said, trying to sound as convincing as possible. Larabee looked at her.
"Well… have you told Max yet?"
99 felt her chest tighten up, "No, I haven't. But I'll speak to him as soon as he comes in."
Don't forget to check out Chapter 2!