Chapter 10: Amazing Grace

Chad and Stephanie were sitting on the bed and Ebony was standing in a corner rubbing his head. Stephanie waved her arms wildly to demonstrate as she told about her newest escape…much to Chad's annoyance. But his boredom was lost on her as she went on excitedly. "And then I grabbed the gun of the one in front of me, and the other two ran into each other because I wasn't where they'd been aiming! So I crept up behind the last three and knocked them all out with the butt of the gun! Then I dragged them to that empty closet…" She rambled on and on, and Chad didn't bother hiding his yawn. "And she did this without setting off a single alarm?" He thought to himself in disbelief. Alarm….why did that ring a bell? Trying to work some feeling back into his legs, yet still look interested in Stephanie's explanation, Chad stood up and crossed the room. As he did, he noticed a small envelope stuck in his belt. He remembered the bug and realized how much they—whoever "they" was-- would have overheard. He snatched the envelope out of his belt and ran to the door.

"I gotta go…. stay here. Ebony you can try to fix my computer if you want, but I gotta…go. See you later." He raced out the door without a backward glance.

Chad ran out of the office and straight across the circular room to Shade's office. "Shade, hi, I'm so sorry-- I got caught up with a whole bunch of different stuff that happened and I completely forgot about something that came in the mail earlier, and I was going to tell you about it but then I forgot and I just remembered now, so I ran over here as fast as I could to bring it to you so you can examine it and find out what it is!" He stopped abruptly and took a deep breath. As the purple color receded from his face, he added a quick "please."

Shade looked at him strangely then threw his head back and laughed. He looked at Chad who was looking back at him with a serious expression on his face. It was then that he realized that Chad wasn't joking. Shade asked, "What exactly happened when you received this thing?"

Chad shook his head as if to say "Why would I remember?" Shade looked at him seriously for a moment, then stood and said, "Come with me." Chad followed him down to the hall that would take him to the cafeteria, but Shade turned into the door labeled "Cubicles" and walked to the end of the row. There was an elevator exactly like the one in Shade's office. They went down the elevator to the same huge room.

"We could have taken my elevator but we would have had to wade through the tables in the gadget room," Shade said by way of explanation.

Shade walked over to a table where a very thin, pale woman was sitting with a bored expression. She had short black hair, a small nose, and quite a few freckles. She smiled at them. Chad read the name plate on the desk although he already knew who it was, as he had seen her many times, but always in Shade's office. Grace Groot, Gadgets. Chad could tell that Shade needed something, and that Grace's gadgets were going to help.

Lia's head was safe, for the moment. Warren was explaining to her everything that had happened; however, he didn't tell her how Banneker had tried to get "it" from Stephanie.

"…and so we have sent a man into The United States Statute of Secrecy, under cover of course, to find out what they know about us. Nevertheless, just to be safe, if our man is found out we would want to know what they would most likely do."

"Well… they will probably… try to trace you back to here and if they can't then they will change what this Chad person is going to do."

Warren muttered to himself for a bit, then said, "Well thank you Miss Lazaratu. You can go, but know this; if you tell anyone we will kill you in your sleep. Come back in twenty four hours."

Lia was a bit shaken up at this, but didn't let on. She got up and walked out of the room.

Grace had led them to a door in the side of the wall in the big room and was know looking at 16 TV screens all lined up in a square on the wall. She was rewinding one and talking while she did it. "So you say you received this bug in the mail, and the computer asked you if it should be destroyed and you said…no?!"

"Well I wasn't sure if it was in my spy pack or not, and it said that it couldn't just destroy the bug, it had to destroy the whole container."

"Well no matter. It was an out-dated bug, and the boys were able to erase half of everything "they", whoever "they" is, would have heard before they heard it. Ah, here we are." She had stopped rewinding and now it was playing the tape. Chad had no idea the agency had his room bugged. That meant that they had known about Stephanie escaping every time she did. Chad asked about this and got his answer.

"No one is ever in here. We need some more people who are willing to do boring jobs at the agency."

She looked at Shade as if hinting something. He simply acted as if he couldn't hear or see her.

"Ok. Here is where it tells you about the bug, and you tell it to send it through, then you grab a balled up package completely ignoring the little envelope. And there is the janitor coming in and… why is he picking the envelope up and sending in a… Oh my god… that's a placing probe, it activates the bug, and makes it indestructible. I've got to tell the boys about this. I'll suit you up for this mission when I get back."

"Shade, why didn't we come here sooner? She seems to be on top of things better than you are."

Shade was still staring blankly, ignoring all comments pointed at him.

Back in Shades office Chad was explaining why he didn't destroy the bug when it came through.

"I didn't know if it was in my new spy pack. I didn't want to destroy that."

Grace was shaking her head, "Chad, you could have come to me if you wanted some new gadgets, then you wouldn't have spent your entire savings on this thing, especially since mine are better."

"Glad to know you're so modest. I just didn't think of that, ok? I had my eyes set on something and I wanted it, so I got it!"

"You sound like some spoiled Super Villain. 'I wanted it so I got it!'"

"That's enough!" Shade interrupted.

He turned to Grace and asked her for the things she had said she would bring, and set them on the table. To Chad, they looked like a wallet photo of himself, a silver necklace, a package of bubble gum, and a set of contact lenses. Grace started talking, "This photo is fingerprint sensitive, when you press your nose, in the photo, and put it against an electronic lock the code will appear in the corner where the time and date usually is. The bubblegum has microscopic sleeping pills that are activated by saliva. Chew it for 10 seconds then stick it to any part of your enemy's skin, or the bottom of their shoe. It has a duration of up to 3 and a half hours, before they wake up. This necklace will stretch up to five times its size, can be used for rope, and also has a little button on the clip that, when held for 5 seconds, will explode up to ten feet around it. The contact lenses are for… just that… contacting us. Simply take them out of your eye and squeeze them between your thumb and pointer finger, they will explode, and when they are gone, we know it and will come in. They are non prescription and, if I may say so, quite comfortable, so will not sustain any eye damage. Any questions? No. Good. Bye Chad, see ya later."

By this time it was getting quite late, so Chad went back to his office where Stephanie and Ebony were waiting.

"… and so Ebony is actually a girl's name that means 'Dark Strength' and originated right here in America."

"Oh", said Stephanie in fake amazement at facts she already knew. As Chad walked in they stopped talking and stared at him. Chad hated it when he got attention. He would much rather be the anonymous hero than the recognized one.

"Hey," said Ebony, "What's up?"

"The sky," said Chad as he walked through the room ignoring everyone in it.

"Well, he's in a bad mood." Chad heard Ebony say as he jumped down into the room under the chess board.

After about ten minutes, Chad came back out, and couldn't believe his eyes. The entire room had been ransacked the air mattress was deflated there was a pillow that had been sliced open, the desk drawers had been ripped out and the contents, strewn around the room. There was blood on the wall and Stephanie and Ebony were missing. Chad was dumbstruck. Just then he noticed a small audio tape on the ground. He picked it up and ran from the room to the room with all the TVs. Grace was there reviewing the tapes that Chad had seen earlier. She looked at him. He was silent. He held out the tape. She raised her eyebrows questioningly. He slowly nodded.

Gasses voice appeared on the tape loud and clear.

"Hey Chad. You hear this?" There was a muffled sound of a punch, then a hair curling scream. "That's the sound you'll hear over and over again in your sleep if you don't come. Meet Li at the other U Triple S building, yes you know which one I'm talking about, the Universal Studios Signature Simulation, that sure was a crappy fake title by the way. Come there alone and unarmed. No bikes, no weapons, just you, unless you want to hear this the rest of your natural life." Again the sound of a punch and a scream, then static.

"Chad go get Shade. Tell him that it's urgent." She shoved him hard in the shoulder, still staring at the tape, and then started playing with the dials on the TV screen.