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Dangerous Games

Maxwell Smart ducked into a dark hallway as he saw an enemy agent pass close by. His partner, agent 99, was nearby.

“Max! There you are, I was beginning to worry!” she whispered to him.

“I'm fine, I was just following this guy,” Max whispered back, pointing to the KAOS agent. “I think he's our man. All we have to do is follow him and corner him. That wraps up the case and we can finally have a vacation.”

“Max, don't think about the vacation right now! This is too important to mess up!” 99 hissed. He nodded.

“You're right. Those ticket prices were outrageous, weren't they? Makes me mad even to think about it!”

“Max!” 99 scolded, swatting him on the shoulder gently. “Focus!”

“How can I focus when you're abusing me?” Max whispered melodramatically. 99 sighed.

“I'm sorry. Now let's go,” she said, already making her move.

“First say you love me.” Max pouted. 99 turned to her husband.

“Max, I love you,” she said tenderly. Her tone immediately changed to sound authoritative. “Now let's go!

They both ducked back into the main hallway, being careful to stay close to the wall. KAOS had managed to smuggle 1,000 pounds of fatal chemicals into the country. They had “imported” it from Portugal, and had obtained it from a double faced scientist who had discovered the most lethal and deadly poison known to man. They had kept their entire supply plus the instructions of how to make it in this factory building. This had proven to be a big break for CONTROL, and they had immediately tracked down the hiding spot. Unfortunately, this just happened to be the biggest and the best among new buildings; every type of security measure had been taken. It had taken Max and 99 three days to infiltrate the building to this point--the point of no return.

They weren't sure exactly what the chemical did to a person, but they had seen it first hand. As a warning, KAOS had sent them footage of one of Control's agents being injected with the formula. Over the next couple of minutes, they had watched the agent slowly die while all the time wailing and twisting in agony. This had made the case a top priority, so Benjamin had sent Max and 99 out right away. The only advantage Control had at the moment was that everything that was needed to produce the chemical was in one place, which theoretically made it easier to destroy. But 3 days of dodging guards, not sleeping or eating, and constantly in the line of danger was starting to take it's toll. Both Max and 99 were tired, irritable, and not performing at the level they should have been. Could you blame them?

“What now?” Max whispered to 99. She shook her head tiredly.

“I don't know. I've been in here so long it seems impossible. Maybe we should just give up, Max. We can't keep this up,” she whispered back despairingly. Max gasped at the thought.

“No way am I giving myself up! Not after we've come this far!” In his enthusiasm, Max stood up. “And to even suggest it is giving up in itself!”

“Max!” 99 whispered fiercely as she watched a Kaos scientist walking towards them. Max ignored her.

“I mean, we've been in this game a long time! I know this is a mental thing rather than a physical thing, but-“

“Max!”

“Don't interrupt! I'm trying to make a point here. Look, what I'm trying to say is-“

“Max, there's someone coming!” 99 said, ducking into the broom closet behind her.

“What?” Max said, not quite sure what was happening. A heavy hand tapped Max on the shoulder. He turned around to come face to face with a tall, slender man with glasses on. “Hi!” Max said cheerfully. The scientist glared at him.

“Who are you?” he demanded.

“Um…um…I'm…I'm you're protégé,” Max lied, thinking himself quite clever. “I just got here. I was looking for you!”

“My protégé? You weren't supposed to be here until Wednesday”, the scientist said suspiciously.

“Oh. Well, I just couldn't wait to get started, that's all!” Max chirped. The scientist rolled his eyes--he hated these recruits. They were full of youthful energy and optimism, both of which he despised. You could always tell which ones they were. He sighed.

“Very well. I'm Dr. Jonathan Samsung, head of the department. Who are you?”

“My name is Bernie. Bernie Klingmeyer,” Max said, shaking Samsung's hand vigorously. “May I say it is a great pleasure to meet you, sir! I've read a lot of your work!”

“I don't write about my work.”

“Oh. I meant I've read about your work,” Max corrected himself quickly. Samsung nodded.

“Well, whatever. Come on, I'll take you to the lab,” he said, already starting off down the hallway.

“You mean, the lab? The one that this whole building was built for?” Max said, running after him to keep up.

“Yes, that is the one.”

“Say,” Max said carefully, knowing he was about to tread on some thin ice, “I've heard about that new chemical you guys got.”

Samsung stopped dead in his tracks and glared at Max. “How did you know about that?”

“Oh…well, I read it in Kaos' monthly newsletter.”

Samsung shook his head. “I don't even know why they have that,” he muttered. “Well, since you're going to be working here you might as well know something about it,” he said, starting to walk again. 99 had begun to trail along behind them. “We just call it `Formula 1'.”

Max laughed. “Like the race, huh?”

“No! Not like the race!” Samsung bellowed. Recruits were all the same. “We call it that for two reasons. One; we haven't got the results back from our `Name the Deadly Chemical' contest yet. Two; when there are variations of the formula we can order their names accordingly. If there are mutations of the formula we can number them by numbers or letters. Makes it easier for filing,” Samsung explained.

“What does it do?”

“Well, it's very simple really. It's just like every other poison we've ever had except that it's stronger and faster. Basically, it eats the innards of the person in 2.37 minutes, give or take a few seconds. It's a rather nasty way to go, if I do say so. But it will be a great advantage. We won't even have to bother with torture anymore! We can just give the enemies the shot and let the chemicals do their magic.”

Max cringed. “Sort of cruel, don't you think? I mean, a poison that eats a person's insides?”

“Yes, Mr. Klingmeyer,” Samsung said darkly, stopping and turning to Max, “But it's efficient. And if there's one thing I admire it is efficiency.” He continued to stare a Max for a moment, as if sizing him up, then began walking again. “Come. I will take you to the lab and show you around.”

Max followed Samsung down the seemingly endless hallway until they reached a pair of steel doors marked `Restricted Area'. Samsung smiled. “This is it. The very heart of the operation. Control would kill to get inside these doors!”

Max laughed nervously. “Yeah, those Control agents…they're pretty dumb, huh?”

Samsung laughed cruelly. “Yes. We kill them like flies around here!”

“Yeah but, you guys don't get many flies down here, do ya?” Max asked. Samsung gave him a strange look and turned back to the doors.

“Anyway, the best security measures are right here inside. But what's different about them is that they're simple. Efficient, but simple. For example, all you have to do to get into these doors is to knock using the `Shave and a haircut' rhythm.”

“Shave and a haircut?” Max asked, kind of confused.

“Two bits!” Samsung sang proudly. Max stared at him. “What? That's how it goes! Shave and a haircut, two bits!” he huffed. “Anyway, here it goes.” Samsung knocked on the steel doors. They immediately sprang open, allowing them to enter. “See these doors?” Samsung said, pointing out the width of the doors to Max as they walked in. “Sixteen solid inches of reinforced steel. It would take the strongest laser in the world a week and a half to penetrate them. Now, here's the really ingenious part of the building!” he said giddily. “Now Klingmeyer, stand right here, and run to the end of the hallway as fast as you can!”

Max was confused. “What?”

“Stand right here, and when I say go, run as fast as your little legs will carry you to the end of the hallway!” Samsung instructed. Max shrugged and stood at the doorway, preparing to run. Had Samsung caught onto him and now was going to kill him? Was he running into some sort of a land mine planted in the floor? Was something going to drop from the ceiling? “Ready…go!”

Max ran as fast as he could down the hallway, running more out of fear rather than because he had been told to. He reached the other end and waited for Samsung to catch up.

“Were we racing?” Max asked.

“No, we were not racing! It took you eight seconds to run the course of this hallway,” Samsung told him.

“Really? I bet I could do better if you let me do it again-“

“That won't be necessary. This hallway is the best security measure we have in the building. Can you guess why?”

Max looked around. “I don't know. I don't see any openings in the walls where things come out…if there were any explosives I would have died by now…I don't get it!”

Samsung was really excited by this point. “The reason this room is so marvelous is it's simplicity! It's a hallway, plain and simple!”

Max rolled his eyes. “Great security measure!”

“No, you see, there is a self-destruct button in the lab. When you hit that button, you have exactly five seconds to get out of the lab and out into the lobby, which is behind the set of doors we just came in through. BUT it takes even the fastest runner in the world 6.76 seconds to run from this end of the hallway to the other side. See? There's no escape! The hallway is too long! You would die simply because you cannot run fast enough! But there's an even better part to this! If by any chance we ever DO have a Control agent in our midst and we have to blow up the lab, his or her death is not our fault! For one, undercover agents who pose as us don't give us the liability of their death! Two! Technically, you can get out of here. After all, you do have a space of five seconds between the time you hit that button and the time the lab explodes.”

“You're right! That's ingenious!” Max said, marveling at the logistics of the operation. “It's a physical impossibility to get out of here alive because of the hallway! Escape really is futile!” he said excitedly. He then thought about his words. “Escape is futile…” he repeated glumly to himself.

“Yes, now see, the only thing in this entire building that will blow up will be the lab.”

“So if you're outside the lab you're ok?”

“Yes! But, the force of the explosion will probably bring the entire building down.”

“So if the explosion doesn't kill you-“

“100,000 tons of steel will. Yes, you're catching on.”

Max gulped. “So is there any escape whatsoever?”

“Actually, there is,” Samsung said, going into the main lab. Max followed closely behind, trying to soak up everything he was seeing. The lab just seemed to be a big circular room, with a few beakers and steel desks. That was it.

“Say, this place is pretty bare!” Max commented. Samsung shrugged.

“Well, we just moved in. As soon as we get a few throw pillows and tapestries in here it won't seem so bad. Here it is-the escape pod!” Samsung said, pressing a button. The wall opened and a tiny, egg shaped vehicle stood in front of them. “Again, simplicity is the issue. Kaos only wants one surviving member. It's much easier for security measures if only one person knows the formula. Thusly, this pod will only hold one person. If more than one attempts to board it will malfunction and come crashing to the ground, killing whomever is inside.” Samsung walked over to a large red button on the wall, covered by a sheet of plastic. “This is the self destruct button, and this-“ he pointed to a green button on the desk “-is the help button. If, and only if, you suspect a double agent in your presence, all you have to do is press this button and 100 armed soldiers will come running. They are stationed right outside the double doors. It will take 9 seconds for them to get here. Unfortunately, they kill everyone inside the lab.”

“How come?”

“They do not know which are the scientists and which are the double agents. We can afford to take no chances. Therefore, their orders are to kill everyone.”

“Gee, I feel safer already…” Max muttered. Samsung didn't hear him and walked over to the safe in the wall.

“This is the only thing you will not have access to. Only I have access to it. It contains the formula for Formula 1 along with the limited supply of it we have.”

“Wait, if the lab blows up, does the formula blow up too?”

Samsung sighed. “Yes, it does. Rather stupid, I think. I think it's stupid everything we need to make it is right here, too. I mean, I don't even think they have a copy of it anywhere else. And they killed the guy who invented it.”

“Why don't they have copies?”

“Again, security. We can't have this stuff falling into the wrong hands.”

“As if it isn't already…” Max murmured.

“What?” Samsung snapped.

“Nothing!”

“The formula will be destroyed along with the building. We just can't afford to take chances. But there are so many security measures it's virtually impossible to get into this lab.” Samsung said, sitting down on a chair and relaxing.

“Freeze!”

Max and Samsung held their hands up and looked to their left. 99 had just entered and was holding them both at gun point. She smiled at Max. “Good work, Max!”

“Thank you!” Max said, coming over to join her. “Just gets easier every time!”

Samsung shot him a dirty look. “You traitor! What do you think you're doing?”

“My job!” Max retorted, taking off the lab coat. “I'm a Control agent, and we're shutting this place down! Now, open that safe or she'll shoot!”

Samsung stayed put. “You'll have to shoot me first,” he said bravely.

Max sighed. “Come on, don't make this difficult. Just give us the formula and we'll be on our way.”

“Never!” Samsung bellowed, lunging at 99. Out of instinct, she shot him in the chest. They both watched as his lifeless body slumped to the floor. They were silent a moment.

“Dammit 99, why'd you do that?!” Max cried at his wife angrily.

“Max!” she said, offended at his outburst. “You've never spoken to me like that!”

“I know, I'm sorry. I'm just so sick of this place and he was the only one who could have handed over the formula,” Max said miserably, sitting down on the floor and burying his face in his hands. “That safe is impossible without the code. It explodes if you enter more than one wrong combination,” he said, near tears. “Now we'll never get the formula,” he pouted.

99 sat down next to him. “Oh Max, I'm sorry. I just shot him out of instinct. I'm sorry!” she said, trying to wrap her arms around him. He shoved her away and walked to the edge of the room.

“Oh god we're gonna die here…” he muttered to a wall. He sat down in a heap, facing the wall and trying to think. “Ok Max, just calm down…” he said to himself. “Go over the facts and see if you've missed anything. It's taken us three days to get this far and we'll never make it out of the building unnoticed. Even if we do, our mission would be a failure and it could mean the deaths of millions of people.” He sighed heavily. He knew what the only answer was.

“Come up with anything yet, Max?” 99 asked. Max stood up and walked over to her.

“99, I've thought about it and the only way to get rid of the formula is to blow the lab up.”

“Good thinking Max! How do we do that?”

He sighed. “We're going to be inside when it happens.”

99 stood up. “No, there's got to be a better way.”

He shook his head sadly. “No, there is no other way. It's just impossible. This place is made entirely out of steel. We can't just put a stick of dynamite up the gutter. We'll have to use the self destruct button.”

“Ok, and how long do we have after that?”

“5 seconds. But there's an escape pod.”

“Good!”

“The bad news is it only holds one,” Max said morosely. “Any more will make it crash.”

99 gasped. “Max, there's got to be another way out.”

“No, no, I told you! The self destruct button will blow up the lab and the formula, and will destroy the building too. One of us is just going to have to stay here when it happens.”

Max and 99 looked at each other for a moment, contemplating that. “Max, I can't-“

“Yes, you can,” he said, already opening the wall to reveal the escape pod. “Now go on. Get in,” he said softly. 99 shook her head.

“No. I will not leave you!”

“99-“

“Max, it was my fault anyway! You go!”

He took her hand and tried to guide her to the pod, but she wouldn't budge. “This is no time to be selfless, 99.”

“We'll die together, Max,” she said, starting to cry.

“No, we won't. If I had one wish in this world it's that you should live a long time and be happy.”

“Max, I can't be happy without you!”

“Nor I without you!” Max said. He sighed. “Look, I don't want to argue. Just get in.”

99 ran up to Max and hugged him tightly. Max pulled away.

“I don't want my children to grow up without a mother, and I don't want to die a coward. Please, just go!” he pleaded gently. Reluctantly, 99 kissed her husband goodbye and climbed in the pod. Max smiled weakly. “That's my girl.”

99 threw one last look at Max and pressed the `escape' button. Immediately she shot up out of the building.

Max sat down in the corner. He had one last thing he wanted to do before he pressed the self destruct button. He took off his shoe phone and dialed the number to the Chief's cabin in Minnesota. Control hadn't been the same without him and Max missed him a lot. He just wanted to say goodbye.

“Hello?” a familiar voice said.

“Chief! It's Max!” Max said.

“Max!” Chief asked on the other end, sitting down on his couch. “How are you?”

“Um…I'm in kind of a bad situation and I can't talk long. I just wanted to talk to you one more time,” Max said.

“What do you mean?”

“Well…I'm in kind of a bad spot right now and looks as though I have no other choice but…well, suicide, basically.”

Chief gasped. “Max, you're not serious?”

“Yes, I am. If the explosion doesn't kill me, 100,000 tons of steel will. I let 99 have the escape pod, and I wanted to warn you that you'll probably be getting a phone call from a hysterical woman tonight. Look Chief, I just called to tell you that…that you meant a lot to me over the years, and that I'm proud I got to serve under you.”

“Max are you sure there's no way out?”

“Believe me, I wouldn't be even considering this if I thought there was another way out…but there doesn't seem to be one. Look, 99 feels the same way. I didn't mean to you know, scare you or anything by calling you. Really, I just wanted to say goodbye,” Max said sadly.

Chief could tell this was serious, but if Max thought there was no escape there probably wasn't. He sighed heavily. “Thank you for calling, Max.”

“No problem.”

“Couldn't you just stay there until someone came and got you?”

“No. You don't want to know all the security measures this place has got. We'd kill more people than we'd save. When I press the button I'll not only be destroying a deadly chemical but several hundred Kaos agents as well. Hey look, I'm gonna go now, ok?”

Although he regretted it, Chief said, “Ok Max.”

The line went dead. Max hung up and walked slowly over to the big red button. His hands were sweating and his mouth was dry, but he knew it was the only way. Before he could lose his nerve, he swiftly slammed the button with his fist and closed his eyes. A loud, blaring alarm went off, but Max was already a million miles away.

“5 seconds until self-destruct…”

He was with 99 in a garden somewhere. They were just laying there on a blanket, enjoying the sun and each other's company.

“4 seconds until self-destruct…”

Miles away from danger. Miles away from anything that could tear them apart.

“3 seconds until self-destruct…”

The garden was full of delicate flowers and stunning colors. The air was crisp and clean, with birds chirping in the background.

“2 seconds until self-destruct…”

Avery and Carry were there too. They were all together, sitting together and laughing. This place was very serene. Nothing could go wrong.

“1 second until self-destruct…”

99 was telling him how much she loved him, how they would always be together, and he was just sitting there and taking everything in. The sky was so beautiful…