"That doesn't looked good," Otto murmured, glancing up from the book he was reading to see security chief Dekker walk buy, a heavy silver briefcase in her arm.

"Ja, that is being very suspicious," Franz agreed from next to him. Otto scanned the area around him. Besides his other friend Nigel Darkdoom, there was no one else present in the massive library H.I.V.E had.

"Come on, let's go," Otto said, snapping the book closed and standing up. Nigel looked at him, surprised.

"Where are we going?" the slight boy inquired, carefully marking his page before closing it. Otto had a determined look in his eye.

"We're going to see what she's up too," he said, jerking his thumb in the direction of Chief Dekker, who was still marching quickly and quietly through the library.

"That is not sounding like the best of ideas," Franz said nervously. "Remind me again why I would be going that place again?"

"Because the library is fun!" Otto and Nigel exclaimed together as they cut between rows of shelving. Otto was doing his best to stay quiet but Franz clearly hadn't caught onto the whole 'staying under the radar' approach of finding out what Dekker was doing.

"Franz, the idea is to not be noticed," Nigel said, exasperated, as Franz crashed noisily into a book shelf, sending volumes crashing down.

"Sorry," the overweight German boy muttered, face reddening. "I am being silent now."

"Good," Otto said, rolling his eyes in exasperation. "What happened to 'silent death'?"

"Well, you see the acoustics of the library and the simulation area are being quite different, so the way the noise will be projected is different—" Franz rambled, but Otto sharply held up a hand to silence him. Dekker had reached a blank section in the wall. Looking around to check no one was watching, she pressed her palm against the solid metal wall. To the three boys' astonishment, the wall slid smoothly opened and Dekker stepped inside, the wall sliding shut behind her.

"Whoa," Nigel breathed.

"That wasn't on any of the plans for the school," Otto said, his brow furrowed. There was something really suspicious about the way the Dekker was acting. Pulling his Blackbox from his pocket, he called up H.I.V. .

"Hello, Otto. How may I help you?" the A.I asked politely. Otto and H.I.V. had been through a lot in Otto's years at H.I.V.E.

"Hey, H.I.V. . Can you tell me about any passages in this hall?"

"There are two different routes away from the hall you are currently in," the A.I replied after a second. Otto was getting more and more worried.

"What about any… secret passages?"

"I don't understand," H.I.V. inquired. "Secret passages?"

"Um… passages only the staff would be allowed to access. Somewhere hidden."

"There are no such pathways," H.I.V. said. Otto sighed.

"Alright," Otto grumbled. "Thank you, H.I.V. ." He put his Blackbox away.

"Well?" Nigel asked. Otto shook his head.

"According to H.I.V. , there's nothing there." He looked unconvinced.

"Well, maybe the Chief will be coming out somewhere near the kitchen," Franz said hopefully. "I am volunteering to be checking there."

"No," Otto snapped. He closed his eyes and reached out with his uncanny ability to detect and interface with machines. He immediately found the palm scanner chief Dekker used to enter the room and in less than a minute had convinced it that he really had scanned his hand and it really had been the correct palm. The door slid opened.

"Otto, you are being magical?" Franz asked in wonder. Otto smirked.

"Yes Franz, I am magical," he chuckled. "Now start walking in there, or I'll curse you so you can never eat chocolate again."

The look in Franz's eyes clearly said there was no worse punishment possible and he started walking down the dark hallway, with Otto and Nigel right behind. The door rumbled closed.

Nigel and Franz, although they were great friends, would not have been his first picks to accompany him on a wild goose chase after the chief of security. He would probably have taken Wing, his closest friend, or Raven, although the remorseless assassin still scared him. Shelby, incase they got locked up somewhere, would have been handy, and Laura, for more than one reason than one…

"Otto?" Franz whispered as they came to an opened door. They could hear voices from inside the room it opened up to. "What will we be doing?"

"Staying silent," Otto whispered back. He closed his eyes and tried to sense, through the machinery, what was going on in there.

Almost immediately, there was a blinding pain in his temple and he collapsed on the ground.


Come on, Brand, Laura growled to herself, staring at the security barrier on her computer. She typed a few more commands, but the seemingly impenetrable barrier just deflected her attempts to get through it.

She needed Otto for this. With his special abilities, he could brush aside even the most complicated encryption and security barriers without a thought.

"What are you doing, Brand?" Shelby asked, stepping into the room.

"Slamming my head against the desk," Laura answered, glaring at her monitor.

"For a second, let's just pretend I care," Shelby said, leaning over her shoulder. "What's all this about?"

"Well," Laura explained, her eyes never leaving the computer as her fingers danced across the keyboard. "I was following Otto on his Blackbox—"

"Hold on a second," Shelby grinned. "You were following lover-boy from inside your room? I know you've had a crush on him for like three years now, but that's just creepy."

"Shut up, Shel!" Laura snapped, her face flaming red. "It wasn't like that!"

"Mhmm," Shelby said with an arched eyebrow. "Continue."

Her face still flushed a deep shade of scarlet, Laura explained. "I was just seeing where he was because I was wondering if he wanted to go to the computer lab and work on something."

"Interesting first date," Shelby commented. Laura pretended she didn't hear.

"So I saw him with Franz and Nigel, headed away from the library, when they just… disappeared."

"They disappeared?" Shelby asked skeptically. Laura nodded.

"It was like they walked right through the wall," she said, obviously confused. "So I did a scan, and came up with some really secure computer programs in the area."

Before Shelby could say anything, the door slid open again and Wing walked in. "Hello, Laura," he greeted her. "Have you been running? Your face looks rather red."

Shelby sniggered but didn't say anything. Laura explained what had happened to Wing, who got a look of deep concern on his face.

"We should notify Doctor Nero," he said. "He would want to know about this 'secret passage'."

"We could do that," Laura agreed, sharing a sly look with Shelby.

"Or, we could find this hidden door ourselves and go after Otto," Shelby grinned. Wing looked at them and sighed.

"I suppose I would be required to come along?"

"Come on, big guy," Selby said, grabbing his wrist and pulling him out of the tiny room they were in. "We have a day to save." They hurried out of the accommodation area to where Laura had apparently seen Otto, Nigel and Franz disappear into the wall.

"This is it?" Wing asked, stopping outside a bland section of the wall. Laura nodded. Wing pressed his hand against the wall and leaned into it.

The wall suddenly bleeped and Wing jumped away, surprised. "What was that?"

"It's a palm scanner," Laura breathed, leaning in and squinting at the wall. Sure enough, there was a small area that was a different shade of grey. "I told you, Shel."

"Stalking Otto on your computer is still creepy."

"I wasn't stalking him!" Laura protested. "I was finding out where he was so that we could go to the computer lab together!"

"Isn't that what you would call a 'date'?" Wing asked with a straight face. Shelby sniggered from behind him.

"Can it," Laura ordered, going to work on the palm scanner. It took her less than five minutes to get the door to slide open.

A huge shape burst from the darkness and attacked her.