Is It Too Late?
By the time they returned to their tree house, Numbuh 666 was waiting for them to the side of the landing ramp; he looked like he had been worried about them for a while. Numbuh 593 jumped out of the S.C.A.M.P.E.R. first, followed by the other two, and approached him.
“Where are the other two, Forsythe?”
He grabbed the former KND kid from behind and pulled him forward: “Sector V was brutally attacked and taken captive in a trap that this guy helped create,” he explained. He pushed him to the ground, continuing, “And since Numbuh 3 invited us to come along not knowing what to expect, we lost Numbuhs 641 and 650 to Father.” Numbuh 652 reached for her friend, but her leader held up his hand in front of her to keep her back while Numbuh 666 glared at him and crossed his arms.
“Please, you must understand my position –I was forced to do it,” he pleaded, sitting on his hands and knees, afraid to stand in case either of them would push him back down. “It left me with two options, gentleman. I was either going to lead them into that trap or face my demise!”
The other boys were steadfast in their opinions of him, so he tried using a different approach. “Surely there’s some way I can help to save our friends –” he received a frightful slap on the cheek from Numbuh 593. He heard Numbuh 652 let out of shrill gasp behind him.
“You’re already done enough!” he shouted. He looked at his darker teammate and said, “Make sure he’s put somewhere that keeps him out of the way while I go see what our options are.” Numbuh 666 nodded in agreement and dragged the quailing boy to a lesser used section of the tree house. He ignored his struggling and crying the entire way, but when he glanced over his shoulder before leaving the room, he saw Numbuh 652’s eyes garnering tears as she watched him go.
. . .
“Here, I’m sending you the footage I got from the incident as we speak. I’ll need a minute to download it, Numbuh 362.” The leader connected a miniscule cord into the center of his bionic eye, having lifted the lens up, and commenced directing his video recordings of the beach onto the computer’s hard drive.
“Thank you, Numbuh 593,” responded the supreme leader on the flat screen transmitter. After a few moments of silence between them, the file was fully transferred, so he sent it and waited for her to see it. He disconnected the cord and pushed the lens back in place over his eye – he could hear the background noise of his footage on the other side of the screen. Numbuh 86 came into view after a minute when Numbuh 362 motioned her to see the video and waited patiently for them to turn their attention to him.
Eventually the girls addressed him, and when they did, both were clearly stirred by what they’d seen. “From what I see, your teammates were just extra bounty in this and that eighteen hundreds boy is to blame for it,” the supreme leader summarized. She put her hands on her hips; the boy nodded, confirming her statement.
“I’m requesting assistance from the moon base to operate a rescue mission if you’ll allow it,” he said.
“Request granted, but it’s not coming from my moon base – I’ll send down Sector L to assist you, as well as Numbuh 86,” she replied almost immediately. She shot a glance to her companion who – from the looks of it – was fairly surprised about the arrangement.
“Why am I going on this rescue too, sir?” asked the Global Command officer with a whiny edge in her tone.
“Because I’d feel better knowing a professional was working on getting Sector V and Sector R back safely from Father’s mansion, Fanny.” The compliment of being called a professional was enough to soothe the temper mental girl, so she agreed to help the remaining three kids of Sector R; “Good then, it’s all settled. Numbuh 593, call Sector L and clue them in on this mission.”
Numbuh 593 nodded with a satisfied smile as he said, “Will do, commander.”
“Good. End transmission.” With that, they cut off the signal and he rerouted it to tap into Sector L’s tree house configuration system. It took a few minutes, and then the other sector’s leader answered; she had long orange hair styled with outgrown bangs and tresses that hung past her waist. Her skin was fair with a beauty mark on her right cheek, and eyes as beautiful as emeralds. She wore a green ruffle-edged skirt, a white collared shirt of mid-length sleeves underneath a cute green vest, dangling green earrings, and dark green slip-on shoes accompanied by lacey ankle socks.
“Hi there, Numbuh 10,” he started, leaning on the transmitter board – careful not to accidentally hit any keys – and tilted his head with a soft sheen in his eye. Just like most other boys, he had a weakness for her; she was, after all, considered the “prettiest girl in the KND”. However, he had never gotten the chance to meet her in person, so he knew his feelings were anything but genuine.
“Oh it’s you, Numbuh 593,” she replied, resting her hands on her hips. There was a welcoming ring to her voice as she continued, “It’s nice to hear from you again. What are you calling for this time?” Numbuh 593’s expression reverted back to discontent as he proceeded to explain the plan he and Numbuh 362 had spoken of. After some time, he was nearly finished and crossed his arms: “The Supreme Leader instructed me to tell you that you and your teammates, should you choose to accept, will be aiding me in retrieving Sector V and the rest of my team.”
He stopped talking and waited for her response. Numbuh 10 placed her finger on her chin and hummed to herself as she thought it over, and when she returned her attention to her fellow sector leader, there was a smile on her face.
“Very well then, I’ll get my team ready to help you get them back. When do you want us at your tree house?” she said.
“Tomorrow morning at no later than five hundred hours,” he replied, uncrossing his arms. The girl approved of it, and so with nothing else more to do, they ended their transmissions. Numbuh 593 took a deep breath and slowly exhaled, exhausted from his work and from the battle at the beach. He looked over his shoulder, expecting to see his best friend behind him, but to his dismal discovery, she wasn’t there.
“Nora?” he called out. Being too tired to care after thinking about it, he shrugged and headed out the compartment door to his left for his room.
. . .
Numbuh 652 had left his side an hour ago while he’d been busy in his work with the intent to find the captured former operative. She had weaseled her way around until finally locating him; he was in the space underneath the power supply wires where the team normally hid their candy from Stickybeard when he made his rounds on the random occasion. She lowered to her knees and moved the wires away to see him through the bars of the floor-door. As he opened his eyes and gazed up at her, he wiped away his tears on his sleeve and cracked a smile. She saw it, despite the sparse illumination of his makeshift “prison cell”, and smiled too.
“Numbuh 19th Century?”
“Are you okay?”
His eyes brightened at her concern, so he stood up and attempted to touch her hand through a slot between the bars, but a chain around his left ankle confined him to a limit. He glanced at his foot and sighed at the sound of the links as they rattled; realizing that he couldn’t move any further, Numbuh 652 stretched her arms beyond the bars and coaxed her hands into his. The smile on his face, after the moment of confusion, was so sincere that it made her eyes tear up again – there was something about how much he enjoyed her companionship that warmed her heart.
“Thank you,” he said, “It means the world to me that someone like you would care even after so much chaos has ensued.” She squeezed his hands as her grin broadened.
“I’ll always be here for you even when everyone else turns their backs,” she replied softly. A silence fell over them for some time afterwards, hands together, and simply content with each other despite the space between them. Nothing could ruin the moment, it seemed.
At some point Numbuh 666 entered the room but said nothing when he caught sight of his teammate with their captive ex-operative. Instead of addressing her, he took the time to notice her expression – it was sort of a motherly happiness, how she was laying on the floor with one foot swinging in the air, and how her arms disappeared into the floor between the bars. He could give an educated guess that he and she were holding hands – possibly even with their fingers interlocked.
It didn’t take long for him to understand what was happening between them; he exited as quickly and quietly as he had entered and kept his thoughts strictly to himself, deciding it was best to wait for the right time to tell his leader. He hoped he’d figure it out for himself first – it would save him the time of explaining it.
. . .
At five hundred hours (also known as 5:00a.m.), Numbuh 593 was standing on the landing platform of his tree house patiently waiting for the kids of Sector L to arrive. With a P.I.P.E.R. in his hand, he stood proudly watching the skies and began to make out a moving object coming into view. He zoomed in on it with his bionic eye and smiled – it was his fellow leader’s aircraft headed for him. When it was close enough to land, he ran out of the way and shut the large doors behind their ship, eager to meet them.
First out of it was the KNN (Kids Nightly News) anchorman, Numbuh 11.0, who was a husky African-American boy with curly black hair and a humbling grin. After him were the three operatives who worked behind the cameras of the show: Numbuh 9-Film, Numbuh 11-Teen, and Numbuh 1-8-5-7.
Numbuh 11-Teen was recognizable to Numbuh 593 because he’d read about her work with the “Poorly Dressed” of Le Sissie. His mom had decided against shopping for school clothes their after it had been blown up by Sector V and the Squid Squad – he had thanked them by sending them each exactly one pound of candy for Halloween. She was a brunette with teeth badly in need of orthodontic work and large round glasses, but her off-English accent was chipper.
They were an ordinary bunch of children, and last to step off the aircraft was their leader, Numbuh 10. She was more beautiful in person than Numbuh 593 had thought, but he showed no rise of emotional bliss on the outside for her and her teammates to witness. He approached her and held out his hand.
“It’s nice to finally meet you, Numbuh 10,” he greeted with confidence. She smiled and shook his hand, looking him in the eye.
“The pleasure’s all mine, Numbuh 593. I gotta say it was nice to see you waiting for us to get here,” she replied.
“You don’t look one bit tired,” he continued, looking down and back up, “but I probably do, don’t I?”
“Nonsense,” she interrupted, “you look fine.” Numbuh 593 spotted Numbuh 666 headed their way, zipping up his hoodie, and put on his usual serious countenance. Once close enough, he noticed his friend’s facial details and realized that he looked like he’d been up all night – despite his nocturnal behavior, he could tell that something had happened last night, but made no effort to bring it up. He decided to wait for later when things settled down. “Alright, let’s get down to business,” he stated to the rest of her team. Then he turned to his dark companion behind Numbuh 10 and asked him, “Is Numbuh 652 up yet?”
“She’ll be here momentarily,” he reassured him, putting his hands in his hoodie pockets. His leader focused back on Sector L and began to explain to them his plan to rescue Sector V and his missing teammates. It would be two more hours before they set such a plan into action.
I apologize for the excessive mush, but I was able to sandwich it in between the action scenes, so it's not too overbearing. I remember writing that particular section while listening to some sappy romance music back when I was fifteen, which was - if I remember correctly - the time where I had no real love interests (miraculously), so I made up for the lack of attention by putting more into my characters.
Don't be fooled, though: Numbuh 19th Century is in deep water and he's well aware of it, and let's not forget he's cool with the ladies with evidence pointing back to his time with Numbuh 86. As long as he plays the "misunderstood, neglected, lost boy", Numbuh 652 will blindly believe anything he tells her. He doesn't have to like her. He just has to act like it.