Sirens blazed throughout the building. In the half above ground, the red strobe lights blended in with the natural lighting streaming through the windows. In the half below ground, however, the red lights illuminated the dark only to replace it again within seconds. Of the two, the lighting below ground was more dramatic.
"What's wrong?" Michael Knight asked, running into the control room while avoiding the various FLAG personnel running in various directions in the hallway.
Bonnie was directly behind him.
"The Foundation has been robbed," said Devon, rubbing his forehead with one hand.
"Robbed?" asked Michael, "Of what?"
"Project X," said Devon, "The thief stole it from our main computer. There's not much chance of catching him or her, but we have to try. Your daughters have already been sent for."
"Where are they?" asked Bonnie.
"Let's see," said Devon, "Ashley is at a classical concert with Kitt, while Karr and Elizabeth are on a mission about a hundred miles away. Ashley and Kitt are closest, but the other two are more likely to get here faster. They're not so easily distracted by the Arts."
"Wait, if the thief hacked into the computer, why are we using the noisy red lights?" asked Michael.
"Because," said a new voice entering the room, "The project is of vital concern to the government, and we need everyone to find the thief before he sells the information to a foreign organization."
Bonnie and Michael instantly turned around, but Devon first armed himself with a fake smile before he followed suit.
"Chief Kimberly," said Michael, sounding shocked, "I didn't expect to see you here."
Kimberly smiled grimly. "A pleasure," he said, shutting the door behind him, "I might as well bring you and your wife up to speed, Knight. Devon, you will allow me to proceed."
Devon waved his hand in a gesture of compliance.
"Project X is designed to control nanotechnology," said Kimberly, "Its uses are thousand-fold. With it, doctors can safely remove a tumor without surgery, or build what appears to be a solid mass, resembling a human for example, which can then be used to safely set off mines in minefields. If the mine blows up, the nanobots simply reconstitute themselves. Unfortunately, Project X can also be used as a weapon of mass destruction."
"It is imperative that the thief who stole Project X is caught," said Kimberly, "Which is why I have come here, Devon."
"I am well aware of why you've come, Chief," said Devon, "You are here to observe our operations."
"Wrong, Mr. Miles," said Kimberly, "I am here to take control of FLAG."
Bonnie gasped, and Michael reflexively clenched his fists. Devon was astonished.
"But you can't do that," Devon said.
"Oh, I'm afraid I can," said Kimberly, "As of this moment, FLAG is now under my control. I assure you it's all perfectly legal. You will remain here to resume your duties, of course, as shall Mr. and Mrs. Knight. Ashley Knight, who is 26, I believe, will also remain."
He leaned in closer.
"Unfortunately, the 16 year old girl Elizabeth is too young," he said, "She will have to be removed from her position as Karr's driver."
"But that's impossible," said Bonnie, "Karr only agreed to work with FLAG if he could choose his driver."
"That was the old FLAG," said Kimberly, "This is the new. The two will be separated, and the internal earpiece within the girl shall be disconnected."
"But what about everything Karr has done for her?" asked Michael Knight, "He is not going to want to be separated."
"That's right," said Bonnie, "Why, just last month Karr saved her from a gang."
"As I recall," said Chief Kimberly, "The gang let her go because Karr asked them to. I also recall that they called Karr 'Boss', among other such familiar names. Rest assured FLAG does not need Karr. If he does not want to work with us, we will have him terminated."
The expressions on Devon, Michael and Bonnie at that moment were so shocked it was almost comical.
"But, but you can't," said Devon.
"I'm afraid that I can," said Kimberly, "Now that we're all brought up to date, I'm going to see how our technicians are doing in their search for the hacker."
Kimberly walked over to the door.
"And Devon," he said as he opened it, "I expect you're office to be cleared out by tomorrow. You can have the one next door."
He exited; closing the door behind him. Those still in the room had their mouths slightly open, astonished.
"And what is the purpose of this exercise, anyway?" asked Elizabeth Knight, or Lizzy as her friends and family called her. She was facing the hood of the car.
"To instill trust," said Karr in his deep, ominous voice.
"Right," said Lizzy, "As if I don't trust you enough! Seriously, why do you want me to do this? We should be heading back right now."
"The mission was successfully completed three hours ago," said Karr, "And your sister and Kitt are closer to headquarters. Whatever the emergency is at FLAG, we can take our time returning home."
"I don't agree with your logic," said Lizzy.
"Nonetheless, I happen to be your ride home." said Karr.
"I could always take the bus," said Lizzy.
"We are in the middle of the desert." Karr pointed out.
"Too true," said Lizzy, arms crossed, "How long is this going to take again?"
"The test would have been over by now if you had not insisted on stalling." said Karr.
Lizzy groaned. "Fine," she said, "But next time I'm not going to be such a pushover."
"You should be aware," said Karr, "That I know you want to try it."
Lizzy betrayed herself with a small smile at this point, but quickly hid it behind a scowl. Of course, this didn't fool Karr.
"Alright," she said, "Where do I stand?"
"Right where you are," said Karr.
Lizzy gulped. "And…and you'll make sure I won't get hurt?" she asked.
"As long as you don't move," said Karr.
"Alright," said Lizzy, breathing in and out, "Let's get this over with."
Karr lightly moved backwards down the empty road for about a hundred feet, then switched gears and moved forwards towards Lizzy. Lizzy held her breath as she watched Karr drive up to her at high speeds. Despite every instinct in her body, she stayed still as a statue while Karr came closer and closer.
"Hold still," Karr warned her through her earpiece.
Suddenly, his hood made contact with her stomach, and Lizzy found herself somehow pushed below him. She lay there on the hot pavement, face up, and registered that Karr was above her.
Karr stopped, giving her time to think. She breathed, and realized that she was still below him. In fact, judging by the position of his front left tire, she was completely covered by him.
"Still in one piece?" Karr asked her jokingly.
"I can't believe I fit," said Lizzy, "How did you manage to do that without my head hitting the pavement too hard?"
"Computation," Karr answered, "Ready for another test?"
"What? You want another one?" asked Lizzy, "Karr, we have to get back to FLAG."
"If you would turn your head a few degrees," said Karr, "You would see that I am completely covering you. You cannot leave until I let you."
"Blackmail, is it?" asked Lizzy. But her voice was joking. "Very well, but make it snappy."
Karr drove forwards, and Lizzy found herself lying on the road on her back and facing the sun.
"Alright," she said as she got up, "But this is the last one."
"Agreed," said Karr.
"What are you going to do next?" asked Lizzy, "Drive down the road at 200 miles per hour while an airplane lands on your roof?"
"No, although I will allow you to attempt landing on me if you ever learn to fly." said Karr.
"Then what are we doing?" asked Lizzy.
"Stand there and I will show you," said Karr.
"Tell me first," said Lizzy.
"Very well. I am going to turbo boost over you."
"Really?" asked Lizzy, smiling, "Cool! Already I like this better than the last one we did."
She stood stock still, and soon Karr was sailing over her.
"Why?" Kitt complained, "Why, why did there have to be an emergency? The concert was just getting good."
"I know," complained Ashley, driving Kitt, "And I was so looking forward to the 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky. There were going to use real cannons for the finale, too!"
"I was looking forward to Mozart," said Kitt, "They haven't played a single one of his pieces yet, but they were going to."
"Think we could get an agent from FLAG to record it?" asked Ashley.
"Now Ashley, you know the programme said there was to be no flash photography or recording," said Kitt.
"I know," said Ashley, sounding like a child denied desert before dinner.
"That's why I am using a satellite instead of a camcorder," said Kitt.
"Kitt!" said Ashley, in a tone that was reprimanding him but proud of him at the same time.
"Ah, we're back at FLAG," said Kitt, "Mind if I take over?"
"Not at all," said Ashley, letting Kitt drive, "I sure hope it's nothing serious."
"Activity within FLAG seems to be normal," said Kitt, "They've turned off the sirens. Hospital bay is empty, but everyone is concentrated within the computer block and the control room. My guess is that the emergency involves computers. Maybe we've been hacked."
"Hmm," said Ashley, "That would be bad. We've never been hacked before."
"It probably occurred with a side computer," said Kitt, driving up to the entrance, "I doubt anyone could get into the main FLAG computer. It is too well protected."
"I see," said Ashley, "Well, let's get in there and find out. I'll meet you underground."
With that, she stepped out of the car. A few more steps and she was inside the building. A quick elevator ride and a short trip down the hallway, and she was within the confines of the control room. She spotted her father immediately.
"We are here," announced Karr, driving up to the front entrance.
"You know," said Lizzy, "If the emergency is such an emergency, it might be faster if I enter FLAG your way."
"Through the garage?" asked Karr.
"Yup," said Lizzy, "It is quicker to go from there to the control room."
"Very well," said Karr, driving forwards.
They drove around the building until Karr reached a tree. Upon parking next to that landmark, Karr activated a hidden remote key and the entire ground in front of them moved itself to slope downwards to a hidden road just under the ground.
Karr drove down the slope and underground, where he subsequently followed a twisted path that constantly sloped downwards. Eventually, he reached the garage. Kitt was already parked in his space.
"Lizzy, you're late," Kitt remarked as Lizzy got out of Karr, "They're waiting to brief you upstairs."
"Got it," said Lizzy, running up the stairs.
She ran through the hallway and punched a number into a keypad, then opened the door to find herself in the control room.
"At last," said Chief Kimberly, the sole occupant of the control room, "You have arrived, Ms. Knight."
"Um, Chief," said Lizzy, "I didn't expect-"
"No, I'll bet you didn't," said Kimberly, walking over and closing the door behind her, "But I have some news for you, and I didn't want anyone else to interrupt."
"Um, okay," said Lizzy.
"What's wrong?" Karr asked her through the earpiece, "Your heartbeat has spiked."
But Lizzy didn't dare answer.
"Due to a hacker who stole top-secret information today," said Kimberly, "I have been able to take control of FLAG. And I have a few new rules."
"Um, wow." said Lizzy, "New rules? Such as?"
"I'm sorry," said Kimberly, "But you are too young to be an agent here. We need to separate you and Karr."
"How dare he even suggest that!" said Karr through the earpiece, "Doesn't he know I will tear him apart?"
Lizzy internally laughed. Of course. Karr had hacked into the room's security system to listen in on them. Again.
But to Kimberly, Lizzy was very mad.
"What?!" she said, "Although we've only been together for three months, Karr and I are practically inseparable."
"You mean that you won't agree to a separation?" asked Kimberly.
"No," said Lizzy, "Karr is a good friend of mine."
"I'm sorry," said Kimberly, shaking his head, "But it's impossible. If a driver is too young, he or she can be removed from the position. This means that there must be another driver, which means that allconnection to the previous driver must be severed. You don't want to hold Karr back, do you?"
"What?" asked Lizzy.
"I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to disable the earpiece," said Kimberly firmly.
"No," said Lizzy, backing up to the door, "No!"
"Elizabeth, be reasonable," said Kimberly.
But Lizzy had already grasped the door handle, opened it and run down the hallway.
"Lizzy! What's wrong, where's the fire?" asked Michael Knight, standing in the hallway as he watched his daughter run towards him.
"He wants to disable my earpiece!" Lizzy said, running up to him.
"For her own good," explained Kimberly, "We can't have two drivers connected to Karr at the same time."
"Can't you wait until the other driver gets here before disabling the earpiece?" he asked.
"The other driver is already here," said Kimberly.
"Wait," said Lizzy, "Karr already chose another driver?"
"No I did not," said Karr emphatically, speaking through her earpiece.
"No he didn't," said Kimberly, "We chose for him this time. And we need him to get acquainted with his new driver as soon as possible."
"We'll get this whole thing sorted out, don't you worry," Michael said to Lizzy.
"But we need to disable the earpiece now," Kimberly said.
"Perhaps that would be best," said Karr, "It would get Kimberly off your back. We can always enable the earpiece later."
"You mean it's alright to disable it?" Lizzy asked Karr.
"What? Of course it's alright," said Kimberly.
"Yes." answered Karr.
"Alright then," said Lizzy, frowning.
"Great!" said Kimberly enthusiastically, "Follow me."
"Honey, are you sure?" asked Michael Knight.
"Not really," said Lizzy.
"This way," said Kimberly, grabbing her by the arm.
He reluctantly led her to the lab and instructed her to sit in the chair while he went with her father to talk to the doctors.
Lizzy sighed. Everything she worked for was going down the drain.
"Do not worry," said Karr in her ear, "Everything will be back to normal in a couple of days, and we can re-enable the earpiece then."
But Lizzy was not so sure.