The Geek, The Rats, and The Underwater Dome


PROLOGUE:


in the year 4069...

My heart caught in my throat as I swayed uncertainly over the deadly shark-infested ocean. I struggled to regain my balance, tiptoeing across the narrow wire, but the vicious wind was too strong. I had no choice but to jump to my death. Skittles squealed in terror as we plummeted...

       "Squeee!"

       "Skittles, shut up." Carla landed lightly on the dock of port Kennely, and shoved some cookie crumbs into her pet rat's mouth to muffle his annoying screeching. The dramatic scene in her head was ruined and replaced with the noisy racket of seagulls, and people bustling about the streets of the Capital. It was so loud up here, after having traveled through the maze of quiet, dimly lit tunnels underground the city. Of course, it would get loud down there soon enough if anyone ever found out about their secret organization of people who called themselves "Rats." Underground was the only place they could brainstorm ideas for stopping Technobone from taking over the city without the city's countless hidden cameras recording their every word. Though this mission required venturing into open daylight to meet her fellow Rats....but aside from her actual pet rat, everyone was late.

       She spotted a huge, ketchup-red yacht getting ready to set sail. Something about it made her suspicious, and it wasn't just the weird name S.S.Marinara. When she saw the tall man in a crisp black suit, boarding the boat, she heard the words "remember this face" echo in her mind. Miss Stephanie had drilled her with flash cards so Carla could identify the enemy in a glance.

       And this was the worst enemy of all.

       James Ironheart was the head of Technobone, the cyborgenetics company that supplied the nation with robotic arms, night-vision eyeballs, and those sorts of things. It would be cool, except that Technobone also secretly implanted a computer chip in each of their clients. That meant that they could control the synthetic body part if they ever felt like  it. And only the underground community of people who called themselves 'Rats' knew about this.

       Today Carla was on a secret mission to meet up with the other Rats from conjoined squads L and M. They were going to try to infiltrate one of Technobone's bases near port Kennely--but the S.S.Marinara was a change of plans. Carla couldn't ignore the priceless chance she had to find out Ironheart's plans and destroy his evil factories... She knew what she had to do.

       Besides, the other Rats were irritatingly late and the scent of baking cookies was wafting temptingly from the shiny red yacht.

       Carla couldn't afford to waste another second--the few passengers were already boarding. She reached into one of the twenty seven pockets on her jacket and pulled out on of her disguises. She stuck on a fake mustache, covered her bright green eyes with thick glasses, and stuffed her long red braid into a sailor's hat. Perfect.

       She waltzed nonchalantly up to the pile of luggage and blended in with the other workers loading cargo. Once she was safely aboard, she dashed to the railing on the far side of the ship facing the sea. She squinted her eyes against the salty wind, and checked to make sure no one else was watching. Then she dumped the luggage and her disguise over the side of the ship. She listened to the satisfying ker-splosh, which was soon drowned out by Skittles' hungry squealing. Carla sighed and ran below deck, following the scent of baking cookies.

       Finally she reached the kitchen where the delicious smell was emanating from and snuck inside. When she was sure no one else was lurking around, she made a beeline for the stove and opened the door. She reached through the blast of heat and pulled out a gleaming pan of fresh snickerdoodles. It burned her hands and tongue but she and Skittles chowed down anyway until all there was left were crumbs. Carla sucked on her throbbing hot fingers, stuffed Skittles back into her pocket, and turned to leave.

       To her horror, she spun around to face what looked like a retired surfer dude. He had tousled blonde hair and muscular arms, but he had an aged face with wrinkles creased around his eyes.

"What are you doing here little lady?"