“Oh. Guys, you can come out now! It’s Just Lincoln and Abby.”
Numbuh one looked out from behind a pillar. Ingrid had leapt down from an overhang and landed on Lincoln. Lincoln looked like he’d been assaulted by Dopey the Dwarf.
“How’d we run into you guys? We went opposite ways, right?” Numbuh three asked confused.
“I really, really suck at directions. Anybody seen or heard anything from Team Beetles?” Lincoln asked, shoving Ingrid off him.
“Nothing at all. They’re probably okay” Ingrid said.
“Anybody notice how quiet it is here?” Numbuh one asked.
“Pssh. No” Ingrid dismissed it with a wave of her hand.
“Ingrid, the only reason you haven’t noticed is because you haven’t stopped talking for more than five minutes” Numbuh five said.
Numbuh one heard a high-pitched whine.
“Uh…guys…?” he said, but nobody paid any attention.
Numbuh one got on his Hoverboard and coasted down the Hallway. The whine grew louder, and now it was punctuated with mechanical thumps and hisses.
Numbuh one got to the end of the hallway.
“GUYS!” He called.
“I see they found the main Printing floor.”
“Yes. It’s all going according to plan.”
“Should I go attack them, Father?”
“No. Not yet. Wait for the Childcatchers. I’m finally going to get rid of the Codename Kids Next Door!”
“We, Father. We”
“Yes, Malcolm. We.”
A narrow walkway suspended on cables hung from the ceiling, reaching from one wall to the other. Other narrow walkways ran underneath, crisscrossing each other and spanning across the printing floor.
Underneath the Walkways, machines clunked, printed, inked, whirred, and bound copies of Havoc to be sold on Earth.
“Whoa!” Numbuh five whispered.
“Yeah. All the little workers look like ants!” Numbuh three exclaimed.
Lincoln rolled his working eye.
“So we just drop the Tabasco Bombs into the machine, right?” Ingrid asked.
“Yeah. We drop six or seven, the entire machine melts, and then we run away” Lincoln answered.
“Sure. Just put some other Tabasco Bombs on the walls and stuff. Y’know, so that they can’t follow us” Numbuh one said.
Lincoln looked down.
He wasn’t good with directions. He got lost too easily in enclosed spaces.
He also didn’t like heights.
Never did, Never will.
The fact that he could fall to his death if he took a step the wrong way was a bit too risky, thank you very much.
All the same, he didn’t want to look like a baby in front of everyone else.
“I’ll go first” Lincoln said.
“Legit?” Ingrid asked, but everyone just ignored her.
Lincoln got off his Hoverboard and walked down the walkway.
Ten more steps….
Nine more steps….
Up in the Control room, Cadel and Numbuh two watched Lincoln.
“What’s that?” Cadel asked.
“That huge black shadow thing” Cadel pointed it out.
“Not good, that’s what it is” Numbuh two responded.
Lincoln pulled some Tabasco bombs out of the pocket of his trenchcoat.
Something shoved him off the walkway, and Lincoln grabbed a support cable to keep from falling off.
“Oops. How clumsy of me”
“What the heck?”
Lincoln swung back onto the walkway, and faced down his Other Self.
“Oh. It’s you” Lincoln said, trying to figure out how his own Childcatcher could exist, since Lincoln had never been caught.
“Yep. It’s me. Or you. But do you know who it isn’t? It’s not Holly. It’s not Matilda” Other Lincoln sneered.
“Shut up!” Lincoln snarled.
“Oh, but it’s true, isn’t it? You let her die; you killed her, didn’t you? You left, even though you knew that she’d die, you killed Matilda-“
“SHUT UP! SHE WANTED ME TO LEAVE! SHE SAID THAT I HAD TO!” Lincoln screamed.
“People lie, Lincoln. If you haven’t figured that out, then you’re even stupider than I thought” Other Lincoln sighed and slid out his nails.
“Oh my gosh!” Ingrid screamed. She had just watched Lincoln be shoved off the walkway by his Other Self. “We have to go help him!” Numbuh three squealed.
“Oh, you lot aren’t going anywhere”
Everybody who had been clogging the door turned around.
An entire team of Childcatchers, one for everybody, was standing behind them.
Everybody vaguely heard Lincoln screaming something.
“Nice to see you again” Other Nigel said. “I missed you” Other Ingrid spat.
“Uh Oh” Numbuh three Whispered.
“Oh no” Cadel said up in the control room.
“Childcatchers everywhere, and Holly and Numbuh four are officially MIA and on top of it all, we’re stuck in here and…”
Cadel heard something.
It was quiet, almost silent, but he still heard it. It was like a knife sliding through velvet.
Cadel slipped off the chair and onto the floor just in time. His own Childcatcher sunk his nails into where Cadel used to be.
“What…? But how? We locked the door!” Cadel sputtered, scooting away across the floor.
Other Cadel laughed.
“Stupid Kid. I knew the password. I am your other half, after all.”