Lauren looked over the top of Rachel’s blonde head as they peered around the door frame into Jane’s laboratory. Everyone, like they thought, had gone to breakfast.
“Is it clear?” Peter hissed from behind them.
“Clear,” Rachel said.
Lauren pressed her lips together to keep quiet. The last thing they needed was to sound off an alarm, which is exactly what would happen if she opened her mouth.
The three kids crept inside keeping low as they wove through tables, around chairs, and headed for the supply cabinet in the back.
“Can you pick the lock?” Rachel asked.
With a sharp nod that sent her curls bouncing, Lauren pulled her lock-picking gadget from her bag. She selected a padlock from the tiny touch screen on the top. A small toothpick like blade flicked out and the gadget hummmed to life. Lauren stuck the blade in the lock, gave it a twist, and the lock popped open.
“Now it shouldn’t be too hard to find,” Rachel said scanning the different containers lining the shelves.
Lauren nudged her and pointed to a ghostly cylinder in the corner with her white, scale covered hand. A bright red label warned of possible color changing effects.
“What’s your favorite color, Peter?”
“Well, don’t freak out if your hair turns blue.”
Lauren hefted up the cylinder and popped off the end. Smoke drifted out and wrapped around her. Rachel covered her mouth and closed her eyes. After a full Mississippi-counted-out minute, Lauren closed it. Rachel opened her eyes.
The strange white scales covering her arm and part of her face were no longer white, but Lauren’s normal deep tan. Her hair had turned a bright, sunshine yellow. She raised a questioning eyebrow.
“You look a little bit like your old self,” Rachel said. “Minus the hair of course.”
“Rachel, you’re hair’s blue,” Peter said.
“Yep, this stuff changes your hair color. I don’t know why it worked on Lauren’s skin. Doesn’t matter as long as it did. That’ll keep us hidden for a while.”
“Is blue your favorite color too?”
Rachel felt her face warm. She nodded. “Yep.”
Lauren sighed through her nose.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
All three of them jumped.
Sam stepped out of Jane’s office.
“None of your business,” Rachel said tucking her now blue hair behind her ears.
“None of my business?” Sam said. “I’m your handler. Everything is my business.”
Lauren started to stick her tongue out at him but remembered it would only result in the sounding-off of the creepy siren. She signed again, through her nose again.
Sam glared at them and then started.
“You’re going back out in the field.”
“I said it’s none of your business!”
While they argued in loud voices guaranteed to bring every adult down on them, Lauren woke up her tablet and held up the picture of The Woman.
“Why do y’all have a picture of her?”
“Cause that’s who’s behind this. Peter ID her and we think we know where she is. There. Happy?”
“No. You just got pulled out of the field cause of that thing biting Lauren. You think you should just head back out there?”
“We want to go look.”
“Y’all are crazy!”
Peter backed away. “Maybe Sam’s right.”
“We’re just going to look so we can prove to Carmichael what’s going on,” Rachel said. “We promise we won’t do anything foolish.”
“Like breaking into Jane’s locker and breathing in that strange fog stuff.”
“We knew what it did.”
“Yeah, I bet.”
“Come on Sam, it’s The Woman.”
Sam shifted from one foot to the other and studied the floor.
“Fine,” he said. “But I’m going with you.”
Lauren shook her head and Rachel said, “No.”
“You bet I am. You think I’m going to let you back out in the field with a civilian and Lauren looking like that?”
Both girls sighed. A siren filled the room. Lauren clasped her hands over her mouth.
“We should get you a scarf or something like a mask,” Sam said. “Are we agreed?”
“Yes. But only because we need to hurry and I’m not going to argue with you anymore.”
Sam nodded. Relocking Jane’s cabinet, Sam led the way to the supply room. They took the long side tunnel with the exposed wires and pipes. Few Agents or crew members used it. A pile of boxes blocked the door into the supply room, from the inside. Peter and Sam pushed with all their might, grunting and groaning, to get the door open. Once inside, they gathered weapons, jet packs, nets, any odds and ends, and gadgets and gizmos they might need including roving cameras, flash bombs, and robot roaches.
“Here,” Sam held up a black mask once attached to a motorcycle helmet.
Lauren buckled it around her face. She opened her mouth. The siren hissed out in a muffled low whine. She smiled and gave Sam a thumbs-up.
“That doesn’t mean just go around with your mouth open, but it should keep any accidents from happening.” Sam said with a huff.
Lauren shook her head at him.
“I’m going. I didn’t promise not to grumble,” Sam said.
Geared up, they made their way further down the long, side tunnel until it emptied out into a creek. Getting their bearings with their tablets, Rachel, Lauren, Peter, and Sam cranked on their Jet Packs and flew off into the night to see if they could find proof The Woman was free and creating new monsters. Lauren just hoped they found a cure for the white scales along the way.