Mark - January 15, 2019 - 11:15 AM

For a second, everything's a blur, and all I can hear is a loud whooshing noise. When the world becomes more solid, I'm on one of the outer balconies of the Treehouse. The moment Buttercup zooms back down to the battle, I start going to my NanoCom's contact list. My friends are still out there, among the unfolding chaos. While I'm certain they can handle it, the part of my brain that tries to make me worry about everything keeps on eating at the rest. Something could go horribly wrong that results in everybody getting hurt... or worse. I watch the battle down below, trying to see if I can spot anyone I know. Granted, I think I'm 40 stories up or something, so that's not exactly gonna be possible. I do, however, see the energy trails and blasts that Andrew's leaving behind. I can distinguish his from Buttercup's because his are less uniform and more lightning-based. Well, that and his isn't flying through the air like Buttercup's.

As the battle continues, Andrew gets closer and closer to the Treehouse. I'm fairly sure my friends are with him, but just to make sure, I go to the map on my NanoCom and scroll to where the yellow arrows are. As I expected, their icons are all near Andrew's, who I can still see is moving around them at quick speed. All of a sudden, however, there's a big explosion near where their group should be on the map. And now there's no energy trail anywhere. Oh, no... I look back to the map, and see that the icons are still all there, but Andrew's not moving as fast anymore, but at normal speed.

It feels like an eternity as I watch the icons move down the street toward the Treehouse. Whenever there's a bit of lag and an icon or more freezes for a second, I start to worry until it starts moving again. As they reach only a block from where the Treehouse is, something must happen, because a few of the icons stop moving for a second, and then continue to move again. Two of them, though, move more slowly, and some of the others move over to help them. I look back down to the battle to see if I can tell what happened, but I'm so far away that anything I can see of them is just a speck in a swirl of craziness. I would run to our room to see if my binoculars are still around, but it'll take a while to get to the room, find them and come back to here, at which point they may already be back.

The conflict within me starts to build. If something happened, I should be down there helping them, but I know that they want me to stay up here, out of the line of fire. Even so, if they happen to be in trouble, I should help them. I look at the holo-map to see where my friends are. They aren't on the street anymore, but rather in another alley. They start heading a certain way, and then I hear another explosion. I glance at that location on the map should be, and I see a large cloud of smoke forming from where they came from inside the alley. The icons on the map run down the alley, then pause and start backing up. At this point, my worry for my friends overrides my common sense, and I start running down the halls to get to my friends.

I run to the first transportation tube I can find, and head all the way back down to Numbuh One's house again. When I exit, I check my NanoCom again, and find that they're closer now to the Treehouse than ever before. Matter of fact, they're on the corner of the street where his house is. OK, they're just about to make it out of the battle, which means I just ran all the way down here for no reason. Well, at least I'm gonna be able to reunite with them sooner.

I look to the corner they should be at, and after a few more tense seconds, I see the first person to arrive. Anais. She seemingly just flies up, as if she was launched. Maybe the KND installed some C.A.T.U.H.P.L.U.N.K.s there to make it easier to get up here. Well, I'm grateful for whoever thought that idea up. Lucas comes up next, then Amanda, then Evan, then Anais, then Gumball and Penny. Andrew? From what Andrew told me before, he shouldn't need one to get up here. He comes up even quicker than my other friends, with Jade following close behind. Once I know everyone's here, and it looks like they're relatively OK, I literally feel the worries leaving me.

"Hey!" I call out to my friends. Andrew sees me, and runs over to me so quickly that I barely even perceive him running at me. All I sense in the moment is him being with my friends, a quick flash, and a millisecond later, he's here.

"Mark! You missed the coolest thing!" Andrew says, in his usual super fast, excited way. "OK, so, after you left, and we were trying to get back, I saw some Spawns trying to come at us from the side. But before anyone else noticed them, I grabbed two of them by the pointy things on the back of 'em and swing them around into other monsters!"

"Wait, really?" I ask.

"Yeah," Evan says. "He swung one of 'em so hard at one monster that it burst into pieces!"

"Oh, yeah! The Pesky Pony!" Andrew says, still sparking with excitement. "Another one showed up right after that, and right when it was rearing, I zoomed up to it and hit it from below, and it went so freakin' far!"

"Pesky Pony?" I ask.

"It's another kind of monster. You'll know what I mean if you see it."

"OK, well… It's a good thing you're OK. You guys are all OK, right?"

"Don't worry, Mark! I had it all under control."

"Really?" Anais says sarcastically. "You sure seemed like you had that Petroleum Punk under control."

"It was gonna blow up no matter what!" Andrew says. "I just blasted it so that it'd blow up before it could get to us."

"That's what that huge explosion was?" I ask.

"Yep. But anyway, Mark, I had it mostly under control."

"Anyway, any updates on what's going on down there, Evan?"

"Well, the monsters started changing their battle tactics as we were getting out of there," Evan says. "They pushed us forward, and then they started trying to push everyone back from their line of defense. Granted, Buttercup keeps on wrecking it, but more of them keep coming back. I'm guessing that they're trying to keep us from getting whatever other materials could still be there."

"Is there anything else you know?" I ask.

"Not much, really. We could head back up and find someone who could."

And we do just that. We move up through the Treehouse, going through various tubes, hallways and platforms until we reach the Time Machine Construction Room. Andrew had zoomed on up as we started leaving to let everyone know we were on our way before coming back to us, and so Mandark and Computress are both waiting for us here. Numbuhs Five and Two must still be somewhere in the battle or coming back from it. Nearby operatives are putting the materials together and with the help of some Mandroids, using holographic schematics to figure out how to assemble them in a way that looks like how it should work. But because they don't have all the pieces, it can't properly be put together in a good amount of areas.

"Hey, guys! Mark's here now!" Andrew says, grabbing everybody's attention.

"Mark! Good, you're arrived," Computress says. "We were beginning to get concerned."

"Don't worry, I'm OK," I say. "But we do want to figure out what's exactly going on, like what progress you've made in getting the materials back."

"Yeah, about that…" Mandark says. "Unfortunately, what we have is not enough to make a proper time machine. Many of the other key components for the time machine have yet to be retrieved, some of which are directly important to making sure the Synchronization Engine can function, or at least make the time travel safer for you."

"Well, how much of the materials did we get?"

"I've calculated the schematics and analyzed what we've got so far," Robot Jones says. "We have approximately 38% of the necessary materials required for a complete time machine."

38%... That means that three fifths of the materials are still out there, most likely in the hands of the Fusions. They probably targeted that SCAMPER specifically to get them, though I don't know how they knew they were in there. They must have been attacking everything, which is why the other bases I heard about also got attacked. My mind begins to go crazy with what the Fusions could do with the materials. They could destroy them, use them to create monsters, or maybe… No, they don't have enough of the materials to do that. I don't think they do, at least. Well, whatever it is they do, let's hope we can stop them prior to that.

"Well, I'm sure there's no need to panic yet," Amanda says. "We could just, uh… Oh! I know what we can do! If all else fails, we could build 2x4 versions of those parts and use those instead for the time machine!"

"That could actually work," Evan says. "If we got the right things, we could very well do it. We've created all sorts of stuff that was thought impossible to make with 2x4s. Heck, with enough time, we could probably recreate the time machine in the 2x4 style. And we could call it… The T.I.M.E.M.A.C.H.I.N.E."

"What would the acronym be for it, then?" Andrew asks. "Would it be-"

"Look, that doesn't really matter right now," I say. "What matters is that we do what we need to do to get me back to the past."

"Wait, so what are we gonna do?" Gumball asks. "Are we building the time machine from scratch or are we getting those original parts for it back?"

"I mean, we should try to get them back first," Lucas says. "After all, they'd be the most compatible with what we already have. But we don't know at all where the parts could be."

"Yes, we do," Numbuh Five says from the entrance. I turn around and see her there with Numbuh Two and a bunch of other KND operatives. They're still wearing their KND defense armor, although it's definitely taken a hit.

"Greetings, Numbuh Five and Numbuh Two," Computress says. "You've retrieved information on the location of the materials?"

"We've at least pinpointed where they could be," Numbuh Two says. "We've recently detected a massive spike in Fusion activity in the infected training area. It's likely the Fusion Monsters are taking or have taken the other materials there."

"Wait, why on Earth would they go in there?" Mandark asks. "From what we've analyzed, that place is entirely contained! Of course, that's great news for us, but surely they'd also understand that."

"Maybe they plan to do something with the materials in there," Anais says. "Although I'm not sure what that would be, but still, it probably won't be good for any of us."

"What's in there that we'll need to deal with?" I ask.

"Well, as far as the Training Area's concerned, there's been very frequent reports of a Fusion Numbuh Two," Numbuh Five says. "And he probably has a lot of his weird Shocktanglers in there."

"'His' Shocktanglers? You mean that they're his own minions or something?"

"Pretty much," says one of the other operatives in Numbuh Five's group. Hold on a second. This operative looks familiar. When I see she also has a T.H.U.M.P.E.R., I realize why. I saw this operative before, when we met up with Numbuh Five and her squad in the electronics store near Tech Square. It was dark in there before, and given the brief span of time in which I saw her, I didn't make her out clearly. She's got brown hair, pale skin and green eyes, and I can see the number "108" on her armor and helmet. So obviously, she's Numbuh 108.

"Alright, well, we need to come up with a plan ASAP," Numbuh Two says. "If Fusion Numbuh Two's got those materials, who knows what he's gonna do with 'em."

"Yeah, if he's even half as smart as you, things could get really bad really fast," Amanda says.

"That's the thing: From what Numbuh 108 has reported, it seems he is more than half. And to make things even worse, he absolutely hates puns! I mean, come on! How can he not like puns?"

"It's punbelievable, right?" Numbuh 108 says.

"Yeah!"

"Wait… How would you know he doesn't like puns?" I ask in confusion.

"One time when I encountered him, I made a pun just to see how he'd react to it, since... you know," Numbuh 108 says as she starts chuckling. "And let me tell you: He got so freakin' mad-"

"The plan," Numbuh Five simply says, a little annoyed.

"Oh, right," Numbuh Two says. "We're going to attack the Training Area and get the parts for the time machine back! Who's in?"

"I wanna help!" Gumball says. Immediately following this, all my other friends and every other operative in the room chime in about how they want to also aid in the battle too. But then when it's my turn to ask, Numbuh Five almost instantly shoots it down.

"Mark, I understand completely, but we can't risk something happening to you," Numbuh Five says.

"I'm not saying I want to go into full-on battle," I say. "Every instance where I have been in a big battle has been because of forces out of my control. The whole Infected Zone fiasco? Fusion Buttercup attacked the SCAMPER. The battle that just happened? I was knocked off my hoverboard and the correction course sent me down there. And every time, I was able to make it through, especially with the help of my friends. Heck, I think I took on more monsters last time alone than I did in all cases during the Tech Square fight."

"And he's got me and all his friends to help him!" Andrew says.

"Look, if you don't want us to, we don't have to go right to the front lines. We could help in some other way, even if it was from the sidelines like we were doing at first last time. And hey, if something goes down, Andrew's right. I've got my friends with me. I don't have to do this alone. Besides… I have to do this for everyone we've lost…"

Numbuh Five and Numbuh Two look at each other, rather unsure. They whisper to each other for a minute or so, and then they turn back to us.

"Fine, but unless absolutely necessary, we're not gonna let you go into the line of fire."

"Sure. My original role on my team suited that anyway."


One hour later...

Since time was of the essence, we tried to construct a workable plan as quickly as we could, but not have it be sloppy and easy to screw up at the same time. Thankfully, we had Anais with us to help out. And now I understand what my friends meant when they said that she was really good at strategizing things. She really helped to iron out how this plan is gonna go.

Our plan's gonna work like this: Each of the Infected Zones only have one entrance or exit for humans: The Warp Gate. We'll be entering the place through there as several different units, each with a certain purpose. The first group will be a diversion that will seemingly be trying to scope out the place, and will lure the Fusion Monsters away from where we are. Then, a second group will enter that will attack the Fusion Monsters. Whatever group that I'm in will show up at the same time as the first one, but it will split off from it and sneak around the monsters as they approach. If all goes well, we'll be able to sneak past the monsters, find the materials and get out without being spotted. Once we get the materials out, we'll leave it to the pros to finish off the rest of the Fusions. I'll probably sneak in a few shots, though, because I'm still keeping up on my promise to shoot every Fusion I can without compromising something. No matter what, though, the materials are the priority.

Regardless, we're now in the preparation phase and about to initiate the attack. Most of my friends and I have gone to another Preparation Bay to get all the weapons and stuff that we'll need for this mission. Andrew and Anais aren't with us right now because Anais is finishing up the fixing of Andrew's suit, which she had done a good amount of last night.

This time, because I'll be actually taking part in the fight, I'm trying to find some more stuff to aid me that's specialized in espionage. But so far, I haven't found anything yet that would actually be useful. As I'm looking around for something, I notice a couple of operatives go over to this one open box and take these weird eggs out of them. My curiosity takes over as I head to the box and take a look inside. Within one part of this box is, at the least, a couple dozen of these eggs. These eggs come in a variety of bright colors, such as orange, blue, yellow or green. They look like those toy plastic eggs that are everywhere during Easter egg hunts. Maybe there's something inside them?

I take one of the blue eggs out and look at it. There's this small sticker on one side, going over the two halves of the eggs. The icon on the sticker resembles a stick figure running. Hmm… I have no idea what could possibly be in here. Only one way to find out, I guess. I open the egg to find... nothing. Yet at the same time, I feel strange. I don't know exactly what happened, but maybe opening that egg did something to me. Well, whatever it is, I haven't noticed anything yet. I guess I'll continue on getting stuff.

"Yo, Mark! Take a look at this!" Evan calls out from the other side of the room. I turn, and see him, Lucas and Amanda at another large crate. Evan's holding something big, but from this angle, I can't tell what it is. There's a clear, straight path to them from where I am, and so I hurry over. But on my first step, something is immediately off. I move way faster than I expect to, so much so that I'm boosted halfway across the room in just a few seconds! What on Earth?! WHY AM I MOVING FAST? I'm able to slow myself down, but I worry that I'm gonna trip in the process. And yet, I slow down just as normally as I would when moving at normal speed.

"Guys? What is happening?" I ask, a bit concerned. "Why am I moving faster?"

"What do you mean?" asks Amanda, who comes up to me after reloading her S.H.A.V.E.R.A.M.A.

"I-I don't know. I just opened one of those eggs and then I started moving faster when I was coming over to you."

"Yeah, that's basically what happened when we all first tried them as well," Lucas says.

"But, what exactly are they?" I ask.

"Do you want the long answer or the short one?" Amanda says.

I shrug. "Whatever gets me the most necessary info without over-complicating things."

"Alright, so… Those eggs are called E.G.G.s, which stands for Everyone Gets Goods. When you open 'em, they will disperse the equivalent of a 'power-up' to whoever opened 'em. Depending on what that sticker says, they could run faster, jump higher... Heck, they could even become protected from Fusion Matter. These effects will only last for a while, though."

...I don't even know the proper response. We literally have "power-ups" to aid us in fights. Before I know it, questions start to pour from my mouth:

"OK, how the heck is that possible? Where'd the KND get these? Wh… Actually, those are my only major questions, to be honest."

"Well, these eggs supposedly came from an Imaginary Friend that came to one of our outposts. You can guess the rest."

I can, actually. The whole "Imaginary Friend is the point of origin" thing explains so much. If there's anything I know about Imaginary Energy and the Imaginary Friends that come from it, it's that when it's in play, logic might as well not even be taken into consideration. I mean, how else could something like Jade, or any other Imaginary Friend, exist? Well, I know what I'm gonna do after I see what Evan wants me to see: get a few more of those eggs.

"How long will these effects last?"

"Don't worry, it's not that long. At the least, we've seen it last five or so minutes, but it tends to vary a lot depending on how much you need it."

"Oh, OK, cool. Anyway, what did you want me to see, Evan?"

Evan wanted me to take a look at this cool version of the Gatling Gum he found. Yes, we have a literal gumball-firing machine gun. And I know Evan loves those things. If he can't use his specialized T.H.U.M.P.E.R. on a mission, he'll use one of those instead. Such is the case with this mission.

"Yeah, the Training Area's too close-quarters for explosive teddy bears," Evan says. "But Your Nano should be really useful in there given what Andrew told us it did in that last battle."

"Oh, yeah! Mark! There's some things we have that can help your Nano!" Amanda says.

"Really? What are they?"

"Hold on, I'll just transfer 'em to you." She activates her NanoCom, and goes to this section called "INVENTORY". Upon pressing this button, she's greeted to a large grid of squares. Most of these squares are empty, save for a few things. She then presses on one of the squares with something in it, and it becomes a little bigger for her while the rest of the squares recede and fade away. The object in question is a gumball. Automatically, I know things will get confusing, given one of my friends is named after that. Regardless, the gumball in the item square is red, and it even has red flame effects for some reason. I just hope the gumball isn't actually on fire.

Amanda presses one of the holo-buttons beneath the larger item square. While I'm not completely literate in reverse text, I think it says "TRANSFER ITEM". I walk over behind her so that I can more clearly see what she's actually doing. Upon pressing the previous button, a list pops up that she scrolls through until she reaches my name. That's when my own NanoCom gives off another notification. It's not a BEEP this time, though. It's just a blip, and no more blips follow after it.

"You have received an item transfer request from Amanda:

8 BLASTONS GUMBALLS

Do you accept this transfer?"

I press the "ACCEPT" button, and the transfer begins. Well, actually, I barely see it begin because within moments, I'm greeted with a confirmation message. Amanda's inventory also goes back to what it was before, and I end up seeing a few other things in the otherwise empty grid. For example, there's blue and yellow versions of the same gumballs I received just now.

I'm starting to notice a pattern here. First, it was the monsters that had either red, blue or yellow color variations to them, and now we have red, blue and yellow gumballs. I would ask the reason behind this, but I'd rather not overload myself with any more information than what I've already learned. That, and since we're about to enter a battle, I don't want to clutter my mind too much beforehand.

"We should probably transfer our gumballs to you as well," Lucas says. "Maybe our Nano Potions, too, just in case."

"What? N-No, you don't really need to," I say.

"Well, they're pretty much useless in our hands, as we don't have any Nanos to use them on."

After accepting several more item transfers, I now have around 30 of these Blastons gumballs, and around 200 of these weird "Nano Potions", whatever those are. Supposedly, they'll be able to heal my Buttercup nano faster or something. And as for the Blastons Gumballs, if I give one to my Nano, it'll make her more powerful for a short time. And if what she did without one is of any indication, I should probably give her one right before we go into battle.

Once the effects of that other E.G.G. go away, I also go back to that box to get more of them. I grab another one of those "Speed Boost" eggs, but I also grab eggs with different icons on their stickers. There's a lot of different icons, actually. The ones I see alone include a spring, a Spawn, a lock, a beaker, someone in a ninja mask, and a few others. I grab one version of each, just to be safe, which gives me around six E.G.G.s.

OK, no more waiting… It's time to do this. After we leave the Preparation Bay, we head back to our room to meet up with Andrew and Anais, who should be close to being done with fixing up Andrew's suit by now. As we get close, Gumball calls Anais to let her know we're coming. When we arrive, Andrew immediately zooms over to open the door.

"Hey, Mark! Check out how much nicer my suit looks now!" Andrew says, jumping and holding it up in front of him. After I tell him to stop jumping so I can get a closer look, I'm able to see Anais's handiwork. Immediately, I'm impressed. The big gashes on the front of the suit are almost entirely gone, and the only hints that they were any there to begin with are the fact that the usual turquoise lines aren't in the places where I think they'd be. Even so, I can tell Andrew doesn't mind that in the slightest. While the big tears on the right arm have yet to be fixed, as well as , this is a really good start.

"Wow! That looks awesome! You did a really good job, Anais! You'll fix the rest of it later, right?"

"Of course. The right arm's gonna take a while longer. He really did get it messed up when..."

"When what?"

"...It doesn't really matter. What matters that is that Andrew's suit is much more usable now than before."

"You know, Mark, when you go back, you'll probably see the suit when it's brand new and stuff," Evan says.

Mark shrugs. "Probably. I mean, it depends on how far I'm going back. We don't know entirely for sure. Heck, I could go far back enough that I return before you even get powers, and I could give ideas for the suit to Dexter ahead of time."

"YES! You need to request, like, a laser sword that can come from the suit so that I can also slice the Fusions up like your Lightning Sword!"

"Ooooh, I know!" Gumball says. "What about that one thing where you can build up energy that you get from hits and stuff, and then you can just unleash it?"

"While we're on this topic, it could also have some sort of thing where it's compressed in a small area and then forms around you whenever you want it to," Evan says.

"Well, I was thinking more alongside the lines of protection, but sure, we can do all those things, too," Mark says.

Once that bit of banter is over, we start going back down to the ground floor of the Treehouse. We leave the house and head over to the southwest zipline, since the Training Area is in that direction. As we go down this much longer zipline, I start to see the force fields surrounding the Training Area more clearly. They're blue-tinted, like everything made from Dexlabs. The force field appears to have small bands of light that go up from the bottom to the top of the force field and then go away. A much bigger one does the same thing every now and then. There's also two horizontal bands of yellow and black lines that resemble caution tape on the force field as well. They don't go up, though; They stay where they are. I think there's yellow text between the bands, but I can't make it out clearly yet.

We reach the bottom of the zipline, which is only two blocks away from the Training Area. There are a little less houses here, and most of them are essentially abandoned. The ones that aren't are majorly fortified. Well, as fortified as they can be in this scenario. There are parts of this area of town where the infection is very visible, too, whether there be patches of infected ground, small puddles of Fusion Matter, or areas where the ground has fallen or risen. For example, there's a house that's been tilted to the left because of the ground on its left side rising up. Then there's another that's been split in half. I could go on and on.

"Heh… Welcome to the apocalypse, Mark," Evan says dramatically, as if he was a movie announcer or something.

"I still think mine's better," Gumball says. "Let me show how it's done:

Welcome, Mark… to the APOCALYPSE!"

"OK, yeah, you got me that time. For now."

Penny chuckles while shaking her head. "You guys…"

As we approach the Training Area, I see more and more operatives. Soon, at about a block away, there's lots of them. They must all be preparing as well. I also notice Buttercup in the sky, keeping watch on everything going on within. I'm guessing nothing major has gone down in there yet, as she's not alerting us of anything. If she has to, we'll definitely know. Actually, I'm not even sure if the attack has started yet. I don't think so, as I don't see anyone going in there yet.

My NanoCom goes off, once again with a blip. I check and see that it's a text message from Numbuh 108:

"Numbuh 5 gave me your contact info to let you know of where to go. She's currently getting abbylion other things ready, at the moment (she would so kill me if she caught me saying that, but I couldn't resist ;D)"

Oh, dear. Looks like Numbuh 108 has fallen to the puns. Still, I gotta give credit where it's due. I wouldn't have thought that one up on the fly, that's for sure. She sends another message:

"Anyway, head to my coordinates for the signal I'm about to send out. We'll be there."

As expected, I get a notification to check my map, and I find a waypoint that's directly over a house that's down the street. The house is unmistakable, as it has a large satellite dish on top, and a lot more barricades than normal. This must be a KND outpost or something to check on the Training Area. We head up to the house and knock on the door, and Numbuh 108 opens it for us.

"Mark! OK, good! I'll call Numbuh Five now," Numbuh 108 says, before doing exactly that. Numbuh Five then tells me through the NanoCom to stay with the group until further orders.

"Got it," I say, as Numbuh 108 closes the call.

"Come on, Mark! The stuff you'll need is in here."

OK, here we go. I'm assuming that this is when our friend groups split up, as aside from Jade, none of my other friends were put in the infiltration group. Evan, Andrew, and Amanda were all put in the attacking group, and while I'd normally be there, they'll be drawing all the fire away from us. Lucas was put in the diversion group, which similarly will be drawing fire away from my own group. As for Gumball, Anais and Penny, they're in different, less active roles. Despite not being a stealth operative, Jade's in my group because of her defensive capabilities. If things go south, she can form a protective crystal layer around me so that I can't get hurt by anything.

"Don't worry, Mark," Andrew says. "I'll make sure we all get out of here OK, without me exploding stuff this time."

"I'll make sure of it, too," Amanda says.

"Me, too," Lucas says. Soon, everyone else says something similar.

"Well… I guess I'll see you at the end of all this, then," I say. And then we separate, with Jade and I going into the house while my friends go elsewhere. For better or worse, we each have our part to play in this mission, even if it must be in different places.

Jade and I go into the living room, where a few other operatives have gathered. None of them are really talking to each other like they're friends, so I'm guessing Numbuh Five scrounged up all the best stealth operatives from different teams for this group. They've all got similar-looking stealth equipment, whether it be scouters, infrared goggles or something else. There's a large bag on the coffee table in the middle of the room that's packed with E.G.G.s. At least, I assume it was at that point, because all the other operatives have a few E.G.G.s with them. Very soon after I enter, the operatives pause everything that they're doing. They just stare at me in disbelief and interest, a few of them whispering to each other. Now, because of the fact that this has happened several times since the initial incident in the TV room, I've become more used to it. It's still weird, though.

"Yes, Mark will be with us on this mission," Numbuh 108 says. "No further need to gawk at him."

"What else are we supposed to do?" a younger operative says. "He's a hero!"

"Well, I-I don't know for sure about that," I say.

"What are you talking about? You took down Fusion Buttercup! That's amazing!"

"Well, yeah, but…"

"Look, you can gush over what Mark did all you want later," Numbuh 108 says. "Right now, we gotta prepare to do our part of the mission, which could happen at any second." And just like that, the operatives nod and go back to what they were doing before.

"Anyway, Mark, we've made some additions to the plan," Numbuh 108 says. "It's still mostly the same, but we'll be using certain E.G.G.s as an extra safety measure."

"Which E.G.G.s?" I ask.

"These ones." She lifts one out of her bag and shows the sticker on it to me. It's one with a ninja mask on it. "We call these 'Sneak E.G.G.s'. By using one of these, it'll become almost impossible for the Fusion Monsters to see us while we're in there."

"What, it makes us invisible or something?"

"To them, at least. We'll still be able to see each other. Makes things way easier, right?"

"Yeah…" I say. "How many of 'em will we need?"

"Well, I would suggest that you take as much as you can manage. Doesn't hurt to have too much."

I go to the bag and grab a whole armful of E.G.G.s. I think I get at least five of 'em, which is a lot when adding up all the other E.G.G.s I've stored up. Speaking of which, I should find a better way to store these later. If I keep getting more and more eggs at this rate, I won't be able to hold all of them in all these pockets on my armor and the hoodie I have beneath it. After that, I start chatting with some of the other operatives about the mission, and they're all excited at first to talk to me. Whenever things start to get a little too out of hand, though, Numbuh 108 helps to make sure everyone's in check.

We also look back over the blueprints for the Training Area. Because of the way the place is set up, we'll just be going around the side the whole way from the Warp Gate until we reach the other end, where the most Fusion activity has been detected. After gathering a little more data from Buttercup, who's constantly providing an aerial view of the Training Area and updating us on anything going on outside, she saw a lot of Fusion Monsters around one of the storage areas at the other end. The materials are likely in there as well. Once we see where the storage area is located, we formulate our plan accordingly so that we don't have to go through too much of the battle in order to make it to the materials.

A few more minutes later, Numbuh 108 gets a call from Numbuh Five. The other teams are ready, and now it's time for us to get into position. "Let's go, everyone!" Numbuh 108 says as she walks back to the front door, all the other operatives following her. We move as one collective unit, all knowing what we need to do. Soon, we reach the corner, just across the street from the Infected Zone. I also see what that yellow text from before is: Exactly what you'd expect. "DANGER: INFECTED ZONE"... Well, only those who went inside should be in actual danger, which includes all of us.

The Warp Gate is located on the sidewalk, which obviously would cause some traffic difficulties under normal circumstances. But of course, there doesn't seem to be much, if any, traffic. I don't think I've even seen a single car actually driving down a road yet. Either 99.9999% of the world really is dead, and the KND is only one of the few things that remain, or nobody dares to leave their house for fear of being attacked. I don't blame them, to be honest. But it looks like we might not be actually the only organization left after all. There's a few of those SACT armored trunks near the Warp Gate. There are also a few agents by the trucks, as well. They must be here to keep an eye on what goes on near the Warp Gate.

There are many operatives in this particular area, too. They must all be part of the diversion groups. And sure enough, Andrew, Evan, Amanda and Lucas are all by the Warp Gate, readying for battle. However, unlike the other groups, ours doesn't go near the Warp Gate. We stay back in the front yard of one of the houses across the street from it. On the other side of the shields, I can see the Warp Gate inside the Training Area's entrance. It doesn't seem like the Fusion Monsters are aware of what we're doing yet, because if they were, they'd be trying to prevent us from crossing through.

I check my Lightning Gun's energy level again. It's 50%, a lot lower than I thought it would be. I think the energy sealant may have been damaged back in Tech Square, when the shockwave from Buttercup broke all the glass in the nearby vicinity. Granted, the small bit of glass that allows me to peep into the Lightning Gun's energy chamber didn't shatter, but some energy could be seeping through the cracks. I quickly head over to Andrew so that he can refuel my Lightning Gun. Now, I won't have to worry about it running out when I don't want it to.

I also go to own NanoCom's inventory and try to figure out how to use these Red Gumballs. I click on the square with the gumball in it much like Amanda did, and am presented with a couple options. Aside from the "TRANSFER ITEM" option, there is a hologram of my Buttercup nano that wasn't there before, with the option: "GIVE TO NANO". I press that button, and that gumball appears by my Nano's hologram. A funny little animation takes place where my Nano takes the gumball and eats it, and then it glows with red fire. It must be powered up now. I can't wait to see it in action.

"Everyone get ready," Numbuh 108 says. The other squad members begin to get one of their Sneak E.G.G.s, but they don't open them. At the same time, Numbuh 108 informs Numbuh Five that we're in position, and that as soon as the first diversion goes in, we'll go in. When the group arrives, one of the SACT agents goes up to a control panel near the Warp Gate, presses a few buttons, and begins to activate the rift. It opens much like last time, and starts to create another portal. At the same time, the Warp Gate on the other side of the shields moves in the exact same way as the one on this side. And at the same instant, the portal forms. With little hesitation, the first group runs through, weapons at the ready.

"Now!" Numbuh 108 says as soon as the last few members of the first group are about to go in. Immediately, everyone opens their E.G.G.s and they run toward the Warp Gate. I run alongside them, opening mine so quickly that the shell halves literally fly right out of my hands. Jade also opens up her E.G.G. by clawing it open. As the last guy in the diversion group goes through the Warp Gate, we follow him inside.

"Alright, everyone, get another egg ready just in case," Numbuh 108 says as we follow the squad through the entrance and into the main part of the Training Area. This part of the place is very open, and there are passages on the left sides that extend off to other parts. Right now, it should be just a straight shot to the materials, because the current most Fusion activity's been reported near the infected M.O.S.Q.U.I.T.T.O.H. on the other side of this open space. Well, without all the Fusion Matter, it'd be an open space, because this place is abundant with it. Whether it be on the fences, the ground or somewhere else, it's always somewhere. Some parts of the fence have been torn apart, or are just gone completely to make room for pools of Fusion Matter. In fact, that's the exact first roadblock we come across.

The ground itself has seemingly caved in, making room for a much larger pool of Fusion Matter that goes from end to end of this pathway. The remains of a bridge are on each side, but there's no way to cross here. Even with a running start, that seems unlikely. And although there are a bunch of things floating around above the Fusion Matter, including random 2x4s, metal beams, tires, or even parts of the fence itself, they're too far away to reach.

Of course, we don't need those things to cross in the first place because we have Jade with us. She can just create a crystal bridge, and that's exactly what she starts doing. She plants her claws into the dirt, and a large crystal extends outward to the other side until it starts piercing the ground on the other side.

"OK, that is awesome!" one of the other operatives says.

"Maybe we shouldn't be so loud right now," I say, gesturing for everyone to be quieter. "They might still hear us."

"The E.G.G.s will take care of that, too," Numbuh 108 says. "Trust me, I've used a lot of these things."

We begin walking down the giant crystal to the other side of the pit, constantly ensuring that I don't lose my balance. Once we make it to the other side, Numbuh 108 asks what we're gonna do about the giant crystal that's now going across the pit. That's definitely not normal, and it could be a giveaway that something is off.

"Don't worry, I can simply get rid of it," Jade says. She walks up to the giant crystal, touches it, and after a second or two, the crystal starts to break apart and turn into dust. The dust falls into the Fusion Matter pit, causing its walls to glow due to all the reflected light shining off of it. Then, the crystal pieces disappear into nothingness. That's not the only way she can get rid of crystals she's created, though. She can reabsorb them back into herself as well. But with big crystals like this, it's more efficient to just disintegrate them. Once the crystal's all gone, the only hint there was anything there are slight dents in the pit's walls.

As we continue onward, I find something interesting. It's a fallen-over target stand, but attached to the target itself is a large paper that has one of the KND's adversaries painted on it. That's right: The KND's got adversaries. The one shown here is the blue-jacketed, bald, giant cigar-smoking businessman that is Mr. Boss. Yeah, that's a very clever name you got there. There's other enemies that the Kids Next Door has, ranging from all-around threats like Father to the measly Toiletnator. Yes, that's the name of an actual enemy of the Kids Next Door. Well, that's assuming you can call him an "enemy", as he hasn't done much that's been particularly threatening anyway.

Given how often these villains try to mess up the KND, you'd think that we'd just kidnap these guys, remove their memories of the Kids Next Door and be done with it. But I'm pretty sure the reason we don't is because we like going against these guys and putting them in their place over and over again. It's more fun that way, and gives the KND something to fight. If we didn't, it'd probably be a lot more boring. Also, whether or not they knew about us, they're still evil adults at heart. At least in this case, they're focusing on us instead of the kids who can't help themselves.

Once the other team members make it across, we continue onward through the Training Area. In this area, not many of those problematic Fusion Matter pits are visible. However, there are a few Shocktanglers coming our way. They don't even seem to notice us, though, despite us being right in their line of sight. Any doubt that I had about the E.G.G.s disappears instantly. They go right past us as if we aren't even there. One gets so close to me that I can hear the low buzzing coming from it, and I think I feel the static electricity coming off of us. Once the monsters pass by, we move forward.

I should probably use another E.G.G. now, just to be safe. After all, the Run E.G.G. from before lasted a few minutes, and it's been a couple minutes. For all we know, the Sneak E.G.G. ran out just now. I take another Sneak E.G.G. and open it, ensuring that I'll be fine.

"Hey, um, 108?" I ask.

"Yeah?" Numbuh 108 says.

"If we close these E.G.G.s, will the powers they give eventually come back to it so that we can use them again?"

"I'm not sure, actually," Numbuh 108 says. "If you think that might work, go right ahead. And if it does, let me know immediately."

The distant fighting begins as we pass by another fallen target stand, this time with Knightbrace, the demented dentist, painted on the paper instead. Either the first group has gotten into a struggle with the Shocktanglers from earlier, or the second group's arrived to stop them. No matter what, the battle itself has begun. Almost immediately after the fighting starts, even more Shocktanglers, Fusion Spawns and other monsters appear out of nowhere and start heading down toward where the battle is. While the monsters don't see us, it's problematic to try and avoid them. Our group has to split up and go to opposite sides of the area in order to not run into the monsters by accident. In this moment, I also check the map on my NanoCom to see how my friends are doing, and I can see their icons moving all around the Training Area, some faster than others.

After a minute or so, the first wave finishes passing by us, and we're able to continue. However, we immediately stop when an Eruption Attack happens on the other side of the Infected Zone. Because of the shields, it can't go all the way up into the sky. Rather, because the shields form a dome shope, they change the Eruption blast's path so that it doesn't go upward, but horizontally… in our direction! The Fusion Matter blast starts to fall downward while still moving horizontally, and we run as fast as we can to avoid it. The Fusion Matter slathers the ground almost all around us in random patterns, and there's a lot of it.

"What was that?!" I yell. "How did they know we were-"

"The Fusion Monsters must be trying to form obstacles to slow the others down if they make it up here," Numbuh 108. "Everyone, move! Quickly!"

The sides of this area were nearly untouched by Fusion Matter, and so we run as fast as we can down those sides. Another Eruption attack takes place as we're running, but this time, the shields cause the blast to curve almost all the way around to the other side. Now they must be trying to directly attack the group. I check the holo-map just to see if my friends are alright, and the icons are still moving around. OK, they're good for now. I return my focus to the mission and close the holo-screen as we make our way through an unfinished part of a building, although it's not really one. All the inner walls seem to have been cleared out, making it one large room. There are some things like a TV and couches, which the operatives must use when they're not training. There's even a video gaming system still in there, but now it's covered in dust.

When we reach the end of the building, I can tell that we're close. The Eruption Attacks that are happening are a lot closer now, and I can almost hear the rumbling and bubbling sounds that indicate one is coming. Another blast takes place, and it goes right over us. Yeah, we're definitely close. From what I saw of the schematics prior to this mission, we just gotta go through one more big area before we reach the location of the M.O.S.Q.U.I.T.T.O.H.. That place has very few options as for where to go, and so even if Fusion Numbuh Two tries to run, we should be able to find him and take him out.

We enter the (hopefully) penultimate chamber, and within, there's multiple ravines of Fusion Matter that all converge into one giant pool of Fusion Matter in the center. The entrance to the next chamber, however, has been cut off by one of the bigger ravines, and it looks like there are platforms we can cross. But that's nothing compared to the gigantic Shocktangler in this area as well. It's almost times larger than a normal Shocktangler, and that's just in terms of height. Its wire thingies seem to be at least 15 feet long, and they're a darker green color instead of any of the other colors on a Shocktangler. To top all that off, it has six eyes instead of the regular two. Is this meant to be the Super Shocktangler? I'll just call it the Mega-Shocktangler for now because that's what I did with the Cyberus.

The Mega-Shocktangler is hovering around the area in a counter-clockwise fashion, making sure no intruders can get in here. Thankfully, due to this E.G.G., it can't see us. Yet, that is. I have no clue how much longer this E.G.G. is gonna last. The Run E.G.G. lasted only a couple minutes before, and we've almost reached that deadline. And I know that none of us want to be here when that thing does end up being able to see us.

Most of this area has very little cover, save for another target stand, a few tires, or something else that couldn't provide much cover anyways. It's just ground and Fusion Matter. I don't know how much longer this E.G.G. will last, so if we're gonna move through here, we gotta do it fast-

"Come on! Let's go!" Numbuh 108 says, before she starts moving toward the exit. I swear, we have almost the exact same thought processes about these things. We follow her out, of course. She started running right when the Mega-Shocktangler was on the opposite side from the exit, which gives us the most time to get out of here. However, right when we reach the exit, we come across a major problem.

There's only one platform, and the rest are just not there. That platform gave a false promise, and now we might be screwed. Given how long the last E.G.G. lasted, this one will wear off really soon. That said, I desperately look around the area to see where else we could go. The first solution- well, probably the only one I'll choose to look at- is an area on the edge of the room where the fence has sunken quite a bit. This happens to be next to a stack of crates that will give us the perfect boost out of here. I think there is space to go there on the outside, as the shields aren't directly in front of the fence here like they were at the entrance.

Without even speaking, I make a beeline toward these crates, hoping the rest will follow suit. I climb the crates as fast as I can, and check the small, narrow area outside the fence to see if it's safe. To my relief, there's no infected ground down this way for a while. The other operatives make it to the crates now, and I quickly motion them to go over to the other side of the fence. As the operatives jump down, I take a look ahead to see if there's anything else we'll have to deal with on the other side. There's no other infected ground, either, so we're good in that regard.

As I'm about to head down over the fence myself, I take a look back to see if the Mega-Shocktangler notices us… And it's staring almost directly at me. I immediately grab my Lightning Gun and get ready to fire, for this is probably going to be one of the most difficult fights- Hold on. It just looked away. And now it's moving normally again. OK, the E.G.G.s haven't worn off yet, but they probably will any moment now. I jump down, and land. It's a good thing this fence sunk down a lot, or else this would be a much rougher landing.

"That was too close," I whisper.

"Yeah," Numbuh 108 says. "I was almost certain that Electrotangler was gonna see us."

Electrotangler, huh? Alright, then. "Well, we should be able to go down this way for now. As for everything after… I have no idea. We'll just have to take it as we go, I guess."

We head around the outer edge for a little bit, keeping our eyes and ears open for any possible thing that could come at us. The sounds of battle are constant, and the Eruptions continue to go over to the other side. We need to find a way to stop those so that nothing bad can happen. I check my map again, and see that everyone seems to be moving around. At the least, they're trying to hold a position and keep the monsters back. However, their icons are slowly going backward. The Fusions' Eruption strategy is clearly working, but so is our diversion.

Only around 30 seconds after we started, Numbuh 108, who's leading the way, stops and motions us to also stop. "I can hear him," Numbuh 108 says, putting her ear to the fence. I focus more closely on what's going on past this fence, and I can confirm that I hear his voice. Like Fusion Buttercup's voice, Fusion Numbuh Two's voice sounds similar, but also distorted and creepy. We head down the fence until Fusion Numbuh Two's voice is clearest, but also where the ground starts to get infected and cave in. The fence, however, has caved in more quickly, and has several holes in it that we can use to look in on what they're doing.

"Well, they shouldn't get very far after what we've set up." Fusion Numbuh Two says next. He must be talking about the diversion groups. I look in and finally see him.

Like every other Fusion, he has green skin and is slightly bigger than his counterpart. I can't see his eyes right now, as he's facing away, but I'm sure they're red. His clothing, unlike Numbuh Two's, lacks almost all color. His shirt's a slightly bluish gray, and his pants are completely black. Instead of being brown, his flight helmet is a dark turquoise. But interestingly, he also has a weird apparatus on his back that use two tennis rackets for something. Maybe it's a KND flight device or something, although I've never seen anything like it before. There are several Shocktanglers in this room as well, guarding what I believe is the storage area. The door is still open, though.

"I already have that sorted out," Fusion Numbuh Two says. Who is he talking to? I don't see any monster trying to talk to him. Maybe it's Lord Fuse himself, communicating to Fusion Numbuh Two through the hivemind. "And based on what we know and have, we should be able to go forward with it with very little obstacles..."

Go forward with what? What are they planning to do?

"...I will be there. But first, I shall delay them just a little longer from reaching this point."

Fusion Numbuh Two then walks up to a large, red button on the wall, and slams his fist down on it. The moment that he presses it, a loud, stereotypical alarm sound rings out in the area as a machine comes out of the ground in the center of the area. After the dirt clears, a much crazier and more powerful version of a Gatling Gum comes out of the ground.

"ALERT: MULTIPLE TEENAGERS DETECTED!" the alarm system says, before the turrets turn to directly face us. Fusion Numbuh Two must have tampered with the system to target everyone who's not a Fusion. "SURRENDER NOW… OR ELSE!"

"I had a feeling they would pull something like that," Fusion Numbuh Two says. "Skip the surrendering. Just kill them."

Both the turrets and Shocktanglers instantly start firing at where we are, and I don't even have time to think before I dive to the left and hit the floor. The gumballs start breaking through the fence, and Fusion Matter starts coming through the holes. Some of the operatives that didn't get the memo in time are hit and get knocked out. Thankfully, these gumballs don't go anywhere near as fast as bullets whenever they fire, but that doesn't mean they're not dangerous. Some operatives try to fire back, but they immediately start getting targeted. One tries to run back where we came from to try and draw its fire, but he gets knocked out by a gumball to the head instead.

"Numbuh 2! We've been made!" Numbuh 108 screams into her walkie-talkie. "Send immediate backup now-" Another gumball goes through the fence and hits the walkie-talkie directly, breaking it into many different pieces. She scrambles out of the line of fire and closer to the fence. Everyone lies flat on the ground and tries to move as little as possible.

"JADE! FORM A BARRIER!" I say in a panic. She doesn't hesitate to do so, as a layer of crystals come out of the ground and climb up the fence. Any gumballs that try to hit us after that are deflected straight off by the crystals. While the monsters stop firing, the turret continues shooting at the crystal barrier.

"We gotta get to the other side! We don't have much time!" Numbuh 108 says.

"But that turret's gonna stop anyone who even tries to get through!" Jade says. "Who knows how much ammo that thing has left in it!"

"Well, we can't just stay here!"

I know that I need to get out my Nano. I can't see us being able to continue quickly without it. I go into my NanoCom and summon my Buttercup nano. Surrounding her is glowing red fire, but I feel no heat coming off of them. The Blastons Gumball's effects have yet to wear off.

"Do something to stop the turret!" I say, and my Nano doesn't wait a millisecond before zooming through the fence toward it.

"Hey, over here! Yeah, you! Come on and fight me over here!" the Nano says as the turret starts firing away from us and to the right. Then I hear metal breaking and then get slammed into the ground. Now we have the chance to strike. Jade touches a portion of the crystal barrier, and just like that, a part of it big enough for us to fit through immediately turns into powdery dust.

"Go! Go! Go!" Numbuh 108 says as I blast apart the fence's exposed area. As soon as I'm done firing, Numbuh 108 leads the charge into the chamber. The turret may be gone, but there's more Shocktanglers that we need to deal with. My Nano comes down to help us against them, and I don't even need to tell her to attack them before she does it. She zooms right into the main cluster of Shocktanglers and hits a gold-wired one with enough force to create a blast of energy that travels in an almost cone-shaped beam that disorients at least six more of these monsters and knocks them down. Maybe because the gumball I gave her amplified her power, it could also lengthen the amount of time the monsters are stunned as well.

Once my Nano knocks out one Shocktangler, it goes to the next. I follow in her wake, taking out the Shocktanglers that she leaves stunned in her wake. Everyone starts following my strategy and fires at the Shocktanglers while they're down. I'm able to take out at least four of 'em before the final Shocktangler remains. My Buttercup nano charges at it, but it doesn't seem to go down for as long as the first one did. Come to think of it, the blue-wired ones don't go down for nearly as long. The yellow-wired ones were down for at least 10 seconds, while these blue-wired ones are only out for around two or three, at the most. Regardless, we eliminate it.

Before we can even catch a little bit of a break, a loud mix between a buzz and a roar prevents us from such a thing. I think the Electrotangler's finally received word of what's going on. With only one blast, part of the final wall separating this chamber from the Electrotangler's is completely splintered, and the Electrotangler rises up to confront us. It looks at us for a brief moment, and then makes another buzzing roar before starting its attack.

The Electrotangler's Fusion Matter blasts are much bigger and more powerful than the Shocktanglers'. They're even stronger than those that came from the Oil Ogre I encountered in Steam Alley. I narrowly dodge one of them, and the blast it charged up was bigger than me. By that, I mean that the diameter of the energy blast was the same as my height. Everything ahead of that blast gets utterly drenched in Fusion Matter. When the Electrotangler charges up a second blast and narrowly misses another operative, it hits the M.O.S.Q.U.I.T.T.O.H. and actually punches a hole in its outer armor. Heck, it nearly goes through it. And when it's not blasting us, it tries to use its super-long wires to either try to grab and throw us around or strike us. One operative gets too close and gets thrown into the air behind it.

The Electrotangler then starts to target where the hurt/unconscious are. We kept them hidden behind the other wall in hopes that the other monsters would attack us instead, but clearly this one isn't falling for it. When it tries to charge up another blast, we blast it with everything we got. My Nano also flies over to help, but before she can do anything, something else zooms into the Electrotangler. Whatever it was that attacked the Electrotangler just now, it pushed it with enough force to send it into the storage building, to the point that the part of the building caves in a little. The zooming thing finally becomes clear when it goes down to us and stops. Andrew.

"Mark! Are you alright?" Andrew says. "Numbuh Five and Numbuh Two ordered us all to start attacking head-on and stop the diversion plan."

"Yeah, they found out we were here and things kinda went south," I say.

"How? I thought you had the Sneak E.G.G.s."

"The Fusions activated an extra security measure in this place that found us while we were trying to spy on them-"

The building starts to rumble, and the Electrotangler gets up, ready to attack again. My Nano zooms at it, but the Electrotangler immediately blasts at her with Fusion Matter, completely reversing her direction and slamming her into the ground. Right after, I get another alert on my NanoCom:

"Warning! Your Buttercup Nano is running low on energy!

Use a Nano Potion?"

Well, obviously yes! I click "YES" as soon as the option pops up, and another holographic animation appears of my Nano as it receives a glass beaker that's filled with a glowing red liquid. Again, with the red. She drinks the potion, and her "energy bar" almost instantly fills up. She then starts punching the Electrotangler again like nothing happened. Andrew joins in as well, and he's doing a ton of damage.

Andrew blasts himself upward to attack the Electrotangler as well. Like with one of the Shocktanglers from earlier, Andrew rips out some of its wires. But this time, though, he starts swinging them around and hitting it with them. Because of the speed at which he does this, it starts getting sliced up pretty bad by its own wires. It tries to grab Andrew in order to swing him around, but I shoot those wires so that it can't do that.

As the Buttercup nano and Andrew hold the Electrotangler off, the rest of us head to the storage area's entrance. I blast the lock off and try to open the door, but it won't budge. I push and pull the door, and neither way works. There must be something the Fusions put on the other side that's stopping the door from opening. Well, if we can't open it the conventional way, we'll have to break it down.

"Everyone fire on the door!" I say, and we do just that. We unload all we can on the door and the walls around it to try and break through. Despite the fortifications on the door, it is no match for bolts of energy.

I look back up at Andrew as the door finally begins to break away, and he's still holding his own very well against the Electrotangler. But it looks like he won't need to go it alone anymore, as the Electrotangler starts getting pelted with gumballs from a Gatling Gum that's on our side this time. Finally, when the Electrotangler turns around to deal with whoever did that, a giant crystal flies at it and tears straight through it. Now I know for certain those are my friends. The Electrotangler falls and because of its size, collapses through the roof and into whatever the storage area is. OK, we gotta move now before something happens to the materials.

As we enter the room, we find the inside to be a LOT more infected than the outside. There is absolutely no resemblance to a storage room anywhere in here. The ground's literally sunken further and further down into the Earth until it's at least 20 feet down from the entrance. A giant Terrafuser is at the other end, much bigger than any one I've seen so far, and its roots spread all throughout the room. Some of them even went over the door, it seems, and those were the fortifications made. There are many smaller Terrafusers in here as well.

Fusion Numbuh Two is on the other side of the room, along with a few more Shocktanglers and… something else. I have no idea what that is. It's a circle of vines on the floor that are constantly shifting around each other, but the circle itself never moves. The part of the ground that the circle contains what at first looks like Fusion Matter, but is also spiraling downward into something. At the same time, weird, long tendrils of Fusion Matter are coming from the sides of the spiral. These tendrils have wrapped themselves along a couple Mandark Industries-branded crates, and are dragging them toward it. Those must be the crates with the materials!

"It was only a matter of time," Fusion Numbuh Two says as a ball of Fusion energy begins to form in his hand. "But it doesn't matter. You won't be getting these pieces now."

"Yes, we will," Andrew says, jumping down through the hole the Electrotangler just made and lands without a hitch. He smirks at Fusion Numbuh Two, then zips for the tendrils. He blasts at some of those that hold one of the crates, grabs it and throws it up to us. But then he becomes occupied with the tendrils and blasts them off of him when they try to grab him.

The Shocktanglers move in front of Fusion Numbuh Two in an attempt to block the shots we're firing. The Nano starts taking out the Shocktanglers like the rest of 'em, but Fusion Numbuh Two's got a different trick up his sleeve. The ball of Fusion energy that he had stored in his hand suddenly changes color from green to blue, and becomes even brighter in the process. At the same time, it makes a creepy noise, almost like a vocalization. After two seconds of charging this up, he throws the ball of blue energy, and it locks directly on to my Buttercup nano. It chases it around for a few seconds, and the instant it connects, my Buttercup nano spins out of control and is sent across the room. She tries to get up, but falls unconscious. She turns back into energy and returns to my NanoCom.

OK, I have no clue what Fusion Numbuh Two did, but whatever it was could be a serious problem. If it took out my Supercharged Nano in one hit, who knows who it could do to us! I focus all my attention on Fusion Numbuh Two right afterwards. He takes a hit or two, but soon he fights back with some tricks of his own. He throws a small ball out to us that upon hitting the ground, explodes in a flash of light. The flash is so bright we can't do anything but shield our eyes.

I hear Andrew zap more things, before something hits the ground. "Hey!" Andrew says, before blasting more things. I feel him zip by me, but then he starts screaming. As the light wears off, I can see what just happened. Fusion Numbuh Two just did something to Andrew! What looks like a needle has been injected into Andrew's right arm, at one of the points where his armor has yet to be patched up. Small bolts of energy are coming out of Andrew's body and into the needle. That thing has got to be siphoning the energy from him!

"What do you think we were doing as you prepared your mission?" Fusion Numbuh Two says as he holds Andrew, who's starting to wince in pain from his energy being drained from him. "Nothing? Nah… We were doing the exact same thing! I was planning to use that on Buttercup, but using it on you was worth it-"

Jade pounces onto Fusion Numbuh Two and starts biting and clawing into Fusion Numbuh Two's arm in an attempt to go him to let go. This works, as Andrew gets thrown off toward me.

"GET OFF ME, YOU FREAK!" Fusion Numbuh Two yells as he grabs onto Jade and throws her as fast as he can up the room. Jade uses her flying powers to redirect her velocity back toward where she came from, this time at even more full-force. She flies over my head as I scramble over to Andrew, who's desperately trying to get this arm-band off of him.

"It's draining me!" Andrew screams as he attempts to blast the device off of him, but he can't muster the power to do so. Well, Andrew, I've got some of your energy, still. I'll see if it can break it. I aim my Lightning Gun directly at the arm-band and shoot it. It doesn't take long to break. I check the point where his arm was injected, and it doesn't look like it was injected too deep. There's a red liquid around where Andrew was injected, but I don't necessarily think that's all blood. If Fusion Numbuh Two said he was gonna use it on Buttercup, that might be some of the Antidote X left over from what was taken in Tech Square.

As the other operatives and Jade attack Fusion Numbuh Two and his last couple monsters, he tries to run for the tendril-circle. But I'm not gonna let him try after what he did to my brother. I blast at Fusion Numbuh Two over and over again, but right when I think he's done for, Fusion Numbuh Two grabs Jade and uses her as a shield. Her crystalline body perfectly reflects my last few blasts, and one of them gets redirected right into the gun. The initially cracked glass porthole takes the brunt of the blast, and the energy that was initially in there starts to spill out as one continuous blast. To make the most of it, I orient the gun in my hands so that the blast goes toward Fusion Numbuh Two and his monsters. While Fusion Numbuh Two reflects most of it, some of it actually hits the remaining monsters. After that, though, the energy stops coming out. My Lightning Gun's out again, and this time, it might be the last time.

Jade claws once more into Fusion Numbuh Two's arms, this time even deeper than before. This makes Fusion Numbuh Two let go of her. When Jade lands on the ground, she dig her claws in the dirt. When the crystals start forming near Fusion Numbuh Two's feet, I know her exact plan. She's gonna trap Fusion Numbuh Two so that we can kill him more easily. However, just before that can happen, Fusion Numbuh Two activates his flight device. It starts making the loud noises that a lawnmower would usually make, and then the tennis rackets start moving back and forth. Soon, they move so fast that Fusion Numbuh Two hovers up, then takes off.

Fusion Numbuh Two starts flying around the room at a crazy fast speed, so quickly that we can barely focus on him. Even so, I can tell where he is in the room at all times because of the constant lawnmower noises coming from it. The operatives try to aim at him, but he's almost always able to dodge. He has so much control over where he flies that I'm both impressed and frustrated. A much weaker attack comes from Andrew, but I know it's not safe for him to be here anymore, particularly after literally being drained of his energy.

"Jade! Forget Fusion Numbuh Two! Get over here to help Andrew!" I say. Jade stops and flies to both of us without question. She checks where Andrew was injected

"Andrew! Are you OK?" I ask as Andrew looks to me and Jade. He's a little pale, but not so much that it could be problematic.

"...Yeah," Andrew says. "I just feel… drained. I don't think it did anything truly harmful to me, as far as I know."

"Don't worry, Andrew. You don't need to do much else."

"But I wanna help!"

"You have, a lot. You can take a rest now. We'll deal with Fusion Numbuh Two."

"You sure?"

"Yeah."

"But first, I need to seal that Fusion Portal," Jade says. Like what she was trying to do with Fusion Numbuh Two before, crystals start to form all around the hole. OK, so that is the Fusion Portal. I had a feeling it was 'cause of the whole "inward spiral" thing, but I wasn't entirely sure. The tendrils try to fight back against being trapped, but Jade swoops in to attack them and push them back so that she can finish sealing the dome that she's formed around it. "Nothing will be coming through now."

One of Fusion Numbuh Two's blasts lands directly between me and Jade. "OK, get Andrew outta here now!" I say. Jade picks up Andrew and starts flying out through the whole in the ceiling in order to bring him to relative safety. Now that Andrew's safe, I start re-focusing on the situation at hand. Fusion Numbuh Two is still flying all about, and is actually doing well against the other operatives. For instance, he just grabbed a box and threw it right into an operative who was occupied with avoiding the blast he also just sent. Then he swoops down, grabs weapons from an abandoned crate in the corner and proceeds to use them against us.

Jade comes back through the hole in the roof to help assist us in our battle. She immediately goes for Fusion Numbuh Two, and gets grabbed before she can fly into his face. She proceeds to thrash around and bite into Fusion Numbuh Two's hand and fingers as he scrambles through a crate he's nearby. "I've got just the thing for you," he says as he grabs a weapon out of the box and fires it at Jade. Out of the gun comes… a mouse toy. That weapon's got to be a K.A.T.N.I.P.P.U.H., the ultimate cat distraction tool. This could be problematic, considering that Jade still possesses a good amount traits that cats have. These include purring, seeing things that seemingly aren't there, and being affected by catnip. The mouse toy bursts open upon hitting Jade, and she gets covered in the stuff. When the rest of it goes down to the floor, she flies down at once to sniff it and roll in it. This is usually the point where she goes crazy.

"Jade, are you alright?" I say.

"Markwhatshappening," Jade says before pouncing at nothing. She then pounces at nothing again. Her eyes are extremely dilated. Then she pounces on the wall and starts walking up it. "Theresathingoverthere. Brightperson. Gottagocheckitout."

She wanders down the wall until a Fusion Matter blast hits the wall in front of her. After several more hit the wall afterwards, Jade starts to freak out. Her defensive form turns all spiky and prickly, which is her second line of defense in most cases. "BATTLEBATTLE! WHEREAREYOUMARK?!"

"I'm over here!" I yell, and Jade dives toward me, but completely misses. She goes through the wall and ends up flying elsewhere in confusion. Who knows what she's gonna do next. Regardless, I'm in a definite pickle now. My Lightning Gun's been wrecked, Jade's going who-knows-where, Andrew can't do anything right now, and my Nano still has a minute or two to recharge. I can't afford to wait around because if I do, Fusion Numbuh Two's gonna wreck all of us. I mean, I do have the sword, but that's not exactly the most practical thing to use against him. But hey, it's better than nothing.

While Fusion Numbuh Two is turned away and fighting off another operative, I sneak up behind him and attempt to stab him. When he starts to turn around, I jump at him, knowing that this is the only chance I'll have to attack him with it. My sword cuts through part of Fusion Numbuh Two's flight apparatus, and it sparks as my sword jams into Fusion Numbuh Two's side.

Fusion Numbuh Two screeches as he suddenly takes off backwards, but with my sword in him still. I get pulled back with him, and both of us fly all the way to the other end of the room. I let go so that I can land on the floor instead of hitting the wall like Fusion Numbuh Two ends up doing. He hits the wall at such an angle that the Lightning Sword goes even deeper into him as a result. He lands and starts to pull the sword out of him. He's still got some energy to go on.

When Fusion Numbuh Two finishes taking out the sword, he immediately targets somebody to attack with it. And that target is Numbuh 108. "This is for those terrible jokes you made!" he says as he takes a moment to ready his aim, and then throws the sword straight at her. I run to see if I can intercept the sword's trajectory and take it, but I'm unable to reach it in time. Numbuh 108 tries to dodge, but the sword still hits her and slices into her side.

"108!" I yell as she falls to the floor. I run to Fusion Numbuh Two and start attacking him hand-to-hand in an effort to distract him for long enough that Numbuh 108 can get out. However, every punch that lands on his exposed Fusion skin causes my hands to hurt from the acidic burn. He doesn't even bother looking at me as he hits me square in the face and knocks me back onto the ground. I drift in and out for a few moments before I wake up fully again. Now I feel that burning feeling all over my face.

The other operatives who aren't unconscious rush to defend Numbuh 108 and get her and the other hurt operatives out of the main chamber, but as they pick her up, Fusion Numbuh Two starts making the ground under them all an Eruption Zone. Everyone panics and scrambles in response to this. Some try to blast Fusion Numbuh Two, some try to run, and others try to pick up Numbuh 108 and get her out of the Eruption Zone. They're able to make it close to the exit, but Fusion Numbuh Two gets a direct hit afterward on those trying to help Numbuh 108 out. Those who are attacking him are hit with another wave right after. They fall on the ground and barely have the strength to get back up. Soon, their instincts of self-preservation take over and they just try to get out of there.

I get up and stumble toward my Lightning Sword, not trying to attract attention from Fusion Numbuh Two. He probably knows what I'm doing, but is way more focused on the others rather than me. I jump over the puddles of Fusion Matter that have been created from all the blasts, and pick up my sword. I turn around, and Fusion Numbuh Two now has his sights on Numbuh 108 again. She grips her side tight with one hand as her armor there turns red. With the other, she starts using her T.H.U.M.P.E.R. to blast every teddy bear she can at him. While they disrupt his focus a little, not much else happens to him. He floats right up to her until he stands directly above her.

"My counterpart's jokes aren't so funny now, are they?" Fusion Numbuh Two says as he reforms around ball of Fusion Matter energy in between both of his hands.

"Ugh… Maybe," Numbuh 108 says, shrugging. "But hey, I find them rather infectious."

Fusion Numbuh Two pauses, and the ball of Fusion energy gets reabsorbed into him. The look on his face is nothing but one of pure exasperation.

"...Are you serious?" he says. "You're gonna waste your last words on THAT?! THAT WAS EVEN WORSE THAN THE OTHER ONES YOU'VE DONE! THAT DIDN'T EVEN MAKE SENSE!"

"What do you mean?" I say. "Are you just confused?"

"YOU TOO?" Fusion Numbuh Two says. "Y-You're really going to do this?"

"Yep."

"...No. No, no, no! I refuse to accept-"

"Ha! You refuse to accept it?" Fusion Numbuh Two's face is getting angrier by the second. This is probably a horrible idea, because he'll snap and try to kill us all if I go to far, but… to be honest, this is utterly hilarious. Even then, this is distracting him long enough for the others to get out of the room.

"What, can you not BEAR it?" Numbuh 108 says, flaunting the front of her T.H.U.M.P.E.R. at Fusion Numbuh Two.

"Wha- That doesn't even have a bear in there!"

"Well, then I guess it bear-ly made any sense to begin with."

Fusion Numbuh Two just stares at Numbuh 108 for a second before immediately forming a ball of Fusion Matter in his hand. OK, the fun and games are over now. I need to make sure I'm ready for what comes next.

"You're not going to die quickly," Fusion Numbuh Two says, picking Numbuh 108 up and holding her against the wall. "I'll bring you back with me to the House, and words will not be able to describe what we will do to you then-"

"Hey!" I say as I activate my NanoCom. Based on what Fusion Numbuh Two has said, I think he's just one pun away from utterly losing it. I think that if he loses it, he'll become harder, but also easier to take down. What I mean by that is, he'll probably want to kill me more than ever when he breaks, but at the same time, he'll be so focused on killing me that he won't think straight. He'll end up slipping, maybe enough for us to be able to defeat him. A bonus of this could potentially be that he unintentionally reveals some things to us. He already mentioned the "House", whatever that is, so maybe we can get more out of him, at the least. And maybe losing his cool will make not think straight and become more vulnerable.

"WHAT?" Fusion Numbuh Two says.

"Well, I was just gonna say that you really are different from Numbuh Two. You're really bitter, actually. At everything. Including jokes. And it's turned you into a big bomb of Fusion rage that's waiting to explode at any second."

Fusion Numbuh Two isn't even sure how to react to what I'm saying. If anything, he's absolutely confused. Numbuh 108 smirks, because she knows exactly where I'm going with this. "OK? Your point? Wait… NO! DON'T YOU DARE SAY IT-"

"All I'm sayin' is, we need to defuse you."

"OH, THAT IS IT!" Fusion Numbuh Two screams as he takes out two blasters. "I AM GOING TO DESTROY YOU!"

Fusion Numbuh Two starts firing as I dive behind the crystal dome surrounding the Fusion Portal. Fusion Matter splatters all over this side of it, but given Jade's crystals are pretty much indestructible, I don't worry about that. Despite that, I need something to help me fight back against him, because sooner or later, if I do nothing, I know he's gonna kill me. I briefly check my Buttercup nano's energy level to see if she'll be able to battle. It looks like it, as her energy level is around a third, but there's one problem: It's not super-charged by the Blastons gumball anymore. Well, it was still powerful without one of those anyways. I summon my Buttercup nano and instantly give her another Nano Potion to restore her to maximum energy.

The revving of a lawnmower starts up again. I try to look through the crystals, but the refracting crystals, Fusion Matter tendrils beneath them and the Fusion Matter covering the other side all makes it basically impossible to see him. The sound gets closer, and my Buttercup nano already knows most of what she needs to do. I duck down and start crawling as quickly as I can around the edge of the crystal dome as Fusion Numbuh Two reaches it. Then someone gets punched, and I jump up and start running to Numbuh 108, who's right on my path to the door. I turn around for a brief moment and see Fusion Numbuh Two is on the ground, dazed. But not for long, I assume.

"Come on!" I say as I reach my hand out to Numbuh 108. She grabs it and gets up as quickly as she can. We don't even say anything until we start running.

"That was a good one," Numbuh 108 says, referring to my "defuse" pun. "I think that bought our teammates enough time to get away and call out for help." She then winces when we go up one of the steeper slopes, and my attention is drawn to her side again. Yeah, that wound looks bad. We need to do something to help it. But first, we need to get out-

"Nope!" Fusion Numbuh Two says, before the entrance area gets blasted with Fusion Matter several times. Even so, we don't stop moving. Just stepping in a thin layer of Fusion Matter shouldn't hurt too much for too long. The lawnmower sounds get even closer, and soon so close that it's right behind us. A large hand grabs me and throws me away from the entrance, but my Nano catches me. Fusion Numbuh Two going after the limping Numbuh 108, who's not able to run as quickly as she could due to her wound.

"You think that what you're doing here will change anything? Well, guess what? It's all pointless!" Fusion Numbuh Two screams. He's moving a lot more sporadically, and he's shaking. He must be really weakened.

"Wait, what are you talking about?!" I say, turning his attention back to me and my Nano. Fusion Numbuh Two simply chuckles, and says:

"Just open those crates and you'll understand why," Fusion Numbuh Two says with a malevolent smile, pointing his finger to one of the crates that the materials are in. Wait… did he do something to them? What did he do? Is he trying to play mind games, to mess with my head so that I'm not thinking straight? No, I can't let him do that. He won't fool me today. Numbuh 108 isn't fooled either, as while he's not looking, she blasts him right in the back of the head. Immediately, his attitude changes from cunning to furious, and he doesn't even waste time before blasting Numbuh 108.

"You know what? Screw the plans I had for you earlier! You're just going to-"

While he's distracted, my Nano zooms up and bops him right on the head. With both these factors combined, I have plenty of time to run up to him and start slicing and stabbing at him over and over again. Given how most of the other Shocktanglers lasted for a few seconds, I stab him as rapidly as possible to get the most damage in before he can recover.

In this brief moments, I target this lawnmower-tennis flight device in particular, enough for it to break apart. In a panic, Fusion Numbuh Two starts thrashing about to try and get me off of him, but I continue holding. Gripping onto the lawnmower base of what was once his flight apparatus with one hand, I repeatedly stab Fusion Numbuh Two with the other. All the while, my Buttercup Nano continues to hit him, making it harder for him to fight back against me. I think I stab him at least 10 times before he manages to blast me off of him. But when I get up and look at him, it's clear I did some major damage to him. The Fusion Matter that makes him up seems to be slightly less cohesive, and more of it's dripping to the ground instead of sticking together. I think only a few more hits are needed to take him down.

Fusion Numbuh Two starts to charge up that weird blue attack of his again. I still don't know exactly what that is, but it's a big danger to my Nano. However, it looks like he has to use a lot of energy to use it, which gives me time to hurt him a few times. I think this is our chance to stop him, but it might be our only chance.

"WRECK HIM!" I yell, and my Buttercup nano, despite the danger, zooms right into Fusion Numbuh Two and punches him square in the face. His flight glasses break, and his flight helmet flies right off and lands in front of me. Now that I see it more, his flight helmet's got a backwards "2" on it. I run right up to him as he manages to blast the blue attack at the Buttercup nano. Despite my Buttercup nano getting hit directly, it gave me the perfect opportunity to stab him more. With every stab now, the Fusion Matter that makes him up becomes less and less stable. He tries to do one last stand by hitting me with another final blast of Fusion Matter, but it doesn't matter at this point. I get the final stab in, and at that point, he starts to truly break down.

I pull the sword out, which is now drenched in Fusion Matter. But it starts zapping it off much like the rest, which should mean that the Fusion Matter won't mess it up too much. Fusion Numbuh Two struggles to get back up, but soon realizes that it's not working and falls to the floor for good. He looks up at me, and just before his red eyes go out, he smiles again with that same grin that he had when talking about the "surprise" he left in the crates. Then, like every Fusion or Fusion Monster I've killed, he just collapses into a puddle of Fusion Matter.

...We did it. Fusion Numbuh Two is gone. That's the second Fusion that I've beaten here, and I have a feeling it may not be the last. Despite that, I think I'll be taking a short break from all this fighting. I have no idea how short said break is gonna be; It may be a few days, or even just a few hours. Even if the latter is the case, I'll take it.

Unlike the last time the blue attack was used on her, my Nano is pulling through. I imagine her energy level, however, is really low. That being said, I quickly use a Nano Potion on her and then head over to Numbuh 108. She's next to the entrance, trying to fix herself up. The wound still looks bad, though.

"Hey, Nano!" I say. "You were able to heal me before, at least a little. Are you able to heal her, too?"

"Well, yeah," my Nano says. "I can heal any of you if they're near you, but I'll make sure the people you know are prioritized."

"Well, I know her, so... Heal us both."

Similar to what she did with me, she charges up an energy wave and then blasts it at both of us, crying out some form of battle cry as she does it. Both of us feel that same feeling that I got when my Nano healed me earlier, and I can visibly see her wound start to heal much more rapidly. In hindsight, I probably should've given her a gumball prior to doing this, but even without one, it's helping a lot. It stops the bleeding, at least. I'm sure any bruises and cuts that I've got are also healing just as well.

"Thanks," Numbuh 108 says.

"No probl-"

"HOLD ON, MARK! WE'RE COMING!" I hear Evan say in the distance, right before he and tons of other people come through the entrance. The Fusion Matter is of little concern to them. Of these people, my friends make up a good amount of them. They're all armed to the teeth and ready to fire at anything that they think is here. For example, Evan's Gatling Gum is fully revved up. To everyone's surprise, the room only has me, Numbuh 108 and a lot of Fusion Matter puddles, the second biggest of which is still spreading out.

"We already got him, guys," I say.

"Oh," Evan says, his Gatling Gum now revving back down. "That works, I guess. Are you alright?"

"Now that my Nano's healed us a bit, we're a lot more alright, that's for sure."

"...Your Nano can do that? Could it do that to us?"

"I think so." I turn to my Nano. "Heal away."

My Nano smirks and nods before she charges up and fires another healing wave at my friends. I don't know exactly what happened to them, but regardless, they visibly feel better.

"Whoo…" Lucas says. "Yo, everyone else! Come over here to feel better-"

My NanoCom starts to make another sound. The same exact sound that it made after I killed Fusion Buttercup. I've never heard this sound since then in my whole usage of this NanoCom so far, but to be fair, I have only used it for a little more than a day, so that could change. But based on what I know, this could mean something very cool. I look to screen just to make sure if I'm right in my thoughts, and the same exact holo-screen as before is there:

ALL KEY COMPONENTS FOR NANO CREATION IDENTIFIED

WOULD YOU LIKE TO A CREATE ANOTHER NANO?

YES / NO

"Dude! You're getting another Nano?" Lucas says. "That's so awesome! Press YES! Press it!"

"I'm almost jealous of you, heh," Evan says. "But still, press that YES!"

I oblige my friends' requests, even though I was gonna press it anyway. The small laser comes out of the NanoCom and beams into the Fusion Matter puddle that Fusion Numbuh Two used to be. On closer inspection, the goo puddle clears away in the middle to reveal a flight helmet very much like Numbuh Two's. Like before, the "NANO CREATION PROGRESS" meter starts slowly filling up, and the Fusion Matter and flight levitate up into the air. The flight helmet becomes re-submerged in the Fusion Matter as it starts to get more and more condensed into a ball and glow. After the pulsating rings go out and converge back into the glowing ball, there's a flash of light, and my newly created Numbuh Two nano appears before us.

"Hello!" the Numbuh Two nano says, waving to us. We all wave back just to be polite.

"Hi," I say as my Buttercup Nano floats up to my newest Nano.

"Sup?" my Buttercup nano says as the two Nanos fist-bump. "Welcome to the Nano Club. Well, I was actually the only member up until that point, so that doesn't make any sense, actually…"

"So I'm your second Nano?" he says, to which I nod. "Heh, that fits me rather well, actually. I'm Nano Number Two!"

He spins around and then holds up two fingers to hammer the joke in. Literally not even a minute after I've created him, and he's already started cracking bad jokes. We either laugh, cringe, or do something in the middle. I guess I should've expected as much from a Nano of him. But I think I've had my share of puns for the day… OK, maybe for a few days. But I imagine that pun will not be the last from my Nano. After I call back both my Nanos into my NanoCom, I tell everyone that we need to get the Mandark Industries crates back to the Treehouse as soon as possible. I'd rather avoid another ambush and have to fight for these materials all over again. But first, we need to find Jade so that she can come back.

"Jade!" I start yelling out as I go outside. "Jade, where are you?" We search for a couple minutes before finally finding her inside the broken-down and damaged M.O.S.Q.U.I.T.T.O.H., of all places. Some of the lights are still on in there and blinking. Every time Jade sees one of those lights, she grabs it and sometimes claws into it. At this rate, she's gonna run out of lights to break.

"Markareyouinhere?!" Jade says. "Are you inhere?!"

"I'm over here!" I say. She turns around, her eyes still dilated.

"Ithink… therewascatnip inwhat he had."

"Well, Fusion Numbuh Two's been destroyed, so he won't be a problem anymore."

"Cool! Cool, cool, cool! So we're... goin' back?"

"Yeah."


Once the catnip that was affecting Jade starts wearing off, she comes back and we start to make the journey back to the Treehouse. Like most cats, she starts to get tired after the catnip wears off, but she promises to stay awake right up until we get out of the Infected Zone. While initially worrying about how we'll get these heavy crates back, hovering Mandroids come over to help lift the crates for us and take them back. Then when they get outside, Buttercup takes them the rest of the way.

After taking the long way back to the Warp Gate, I see Andrew hanging out with Gumball, Anais and Penny.

"And you should've seen when I hit the Electrotangler with that- Mark!" Andrew says, before running over to me. He runs over to me much more slowly than usual- Actually, I can't really say "usually" considering that even when most of his energy's sapped, he's still running fast.

"You OK still, Andrew?" I ask.

"Yep. I think I can still get the energy I lost back. It'll just take a while, but I'm sure that us just hanging out will replenish it much faster."

"Well, I know the perfect way to start." I smirk and go to my NanoCom's nano selection screen. When the Nanos pop up, the middle disc has changed. Its top is now glowing a dim blue, and the Numbuh Two nano is hovering above it. When Andrew sees my new Nano, he reacts just like I expected.

"WHOA! YOU HAVE A NEW NANO?!" He starts to spark again with excitement.

"Yep."

"OK, as soon as we get back to the Treehouse, we gotta test this Nano out and see what it can do!"

"Yeah, and then I'm gonna finish up Andrew's suit entirely," Anais says. "What happened could've been worse had it not been for Mark being there."

"Even so, I took a hit for Buttercup and probably saved her from losing her powers," Andrew says. "Anyway- ...Uh, guys? Jade's asleep."

Once Andrew stops talking, I can hear the purring. I turn to the source and see Jade's curled up into a ball and fallen asleep. To top it all off, she's still in her crystal form. That's gonna make it hard to get her back. We weighed her once when she was in that form just to see what it was, and it was a whopping 83 pounds! And it's not like she was bigger or anything, all she did was change into that form. Crystals are so much denser than cats. With this in mind, we try to find something we can use to carry her in without completely messing up ourselves. Sure, we could all carry her, but it'll still be awkward. Thankfully, Andrew found a small wagon that we can put her in so that it isn't as difficult. Once we eventually get the wagon over to a SCAMPER, we come across Numbuh 108 and Numbuh Two.

"Hey, Mark!" Numbuh Two says. "108 here's telling me that you got a Nano of me now!"

"Yep," I say. "Looks like I've got two Nanos now."

"Heh... I would make a joke about that, but I bet your new Nano already made it."

"Actually, he did." I chuckle. "Anyway, I guess we'll be going back now?"

"Of course. We'll be bringing all you guys back. Well, Numbuh 108's gonna head back to the outpost for a bit, just in case something else goes down in the Training Area."

"By the way, Numbuh Two, can you get the ramp for the SCAMPER out?"

"I think I do. Why?"

In response, I simply look over to my friends, who are still trying to get the wagon over here. Evan and Lucas are pulling on the handle, and Amanda and Gumball are both pushing, and only then are they able to move it at a normal pace. Numbuh Two goes in and activates the process for unfolding the entrance ramp. Now, we'll be able to get the wagon with Jade up into the SCAMPER without having to lift her again. Once we finally get her inside, we're able to get going.

"See ya, Mark!" Numbuh 108 says as we're about to take off. The entrance ramp folds back in and the door closes, and we start going back up to the Treehouse. On the way up there, something off goes down. As I'm looking at it, I see what looks like a box get thrown at a really high velocity out of one the rooms and into the air. Moments later, it explodes, sending Fusion Matter going in every direction.

"What in the..." Andrew says, looking where I am. "You saw that too, right, Mark?"

"Yeah! Numbuh Two, did you see that?"

Numbuh Two then gets a call on his NanoCom. He answers, and I hear Mandark's voice on the other side.

"Numbuh Two, we got a major problem!" Mandark says.

"What do you mean? What's going on?" Numbuh Two asks.

"We just checked the crates. The materials...

They aren't there."


? ? ?

"They tried to pull their own diversion, but we pulled our own on them. It'd be stupid to have the materials stay in the Training Area where the Kids Next Door could easily get them back. No... we brought them here instead. My- Well, my counterpart's former abode. But not it belongs to us now. And while it's a shame Fusion Numbuh Two is gone, that's left plenty of opportunity for me. Now, it seems I'll be the one spearheading the new project that we have in the works..."

"You do know I can hear you, right?" asks the Fusion right next to me, his voice as monotonic as a text-to-speech program.

"Well, it's true," I say as I turn to him. "Regardless, he was a great help in deciding the direction it will go now."

"That is if they don't find us first. I calculate the minimum odds of them knowing what 'The House' is at a current 52.7% chance of success," says Fusion Robot as we walk down the hallway toward where the Fusion Portal is. "And it'll almost certainly be more."

"I already have plans in place to lower that probability." We arrive at the room where we've linked our Fusion Portals to the others across the world. Outside the portal that was linked to the Kids Next Door Training Area are a slew of crates full of exactly what they need, but are now in our hands. But we're not gonna destroy them. Oh, no... "We have bigger plans for them, plans so big that even if they try to stop us, it won't matter... Ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha-

"You're doing it again!"

"Shut up..."