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Disclaimer: jake 2.0 and all related elements, characters and indicia © Roundtable Entertainment and Viacom Productions, Inc., 2003. All Rights Reserved. All characters and situations-save those created by the authors for use solely on this website-are copyright Roundtable Entertainment and Viacom Productions, Inc.

Author's note: This story is set during "The Tech."

by Mandy Johnson

Someone had paid a certain research scientist at the NSA, a Dr. Gage, to steal sensitive information concerning agent enhancement programs. Agent Kyle Duarte had been working several hours scanning and searching files for possible buyers.

Rubbing his eyes, he pulled up the recorded conversation Dr. Gage had on his cell phone moments before NSA security shot him. The voice recognition software did its dance on the screen. Wishing he'd thought of this sooner a name came up, a mercenary from his past: Eric Vaughn.

Asking his boss Deputy Director Louise Beckett to join him, he updated her on his find. Maybe this time Lou would allow him to tackle this mission out in the field. He had, after all, tracked down Vaughn once before—he was sure he could do it again.

Kyle held his breath a moment, "I'd like your permission to head a team in to track them."

Immediately Lou answered him, "No, we've discussed this before, Kyle."

"I belong in the field." Kyle pleaded.

"Your cover was compromised." Lou reminded him.

"Yeah, through no fault of my own. . ." Kyle continued to objected, only half listening to Lou rattle on in the same matter she always had for the last two plus years whenever this subject came up.

"Listen to me! Listen to me!" Lou demanded. "I'll use my agents as I see fit. You want to work for me, you work here."

Kyle watched Lou walk away, suddenly he felt the familiar pull of regret and remembering, he found himself back on the streets of Paris two and a half years ago . . .

. . . The air was heavy and dank. It was about to rain as it so often did in Paris. Kyle glanced about the park; there weren't many people around at this time of the night. He was glad for that; if this mission had gone the way it was supposed to, he'd be on the beach with Mei Ling by now . . .

Chinese Intelligence had been waiting for him in Spain. He still wasn't sure how they knew he was going to be there and that Mei Ling was staying at the Plaza de Seville. What he did know, is that the sniper waiting outside the hotel was ready to kill Mei Ling if he showed up.

The NSA had uncovered a plot by factions in the Chinese trade unions to assassinate conservative French president Jacques Chirac leaving the prime minister, Socialist leader Lionel Jospin in power. Lionel's socialist agenda would have provided better trade relations for large Chinese export corporations. These large companies were the real power behind the planned assassination.

The mission had been fairly simple. Mei Ling was to provide the incriminating evidence linking several deep pocketed corporations with the trade unions and Kyle was to meet her for a lover's tryst to get it and her out of the country.

As the senior most double agent the NSA had in Chinese Intelligence, Mei Ling's defection would have delivered the enemy a reeling blow. She had been promised asylum and her new identity, complete with plane ticket and passport, was hidden carefully in Kyle's luggage.

Of course the entire assassination plot had been a ruse to flush out double agents, but Kyle had no idea at that time, and besides it had worked before. He met Mei Ling in Hong Kong several years prior in the same manner and that exchange went smoothly.

Smiling to himself Kyle had to admit it went very smoothly. He never forgot the way she looked in that red dress with her hair straight and smooth waiting for him by the pool in the Mandarin-Oriental Hotel.

Kyle was on the train to Seville, when he got a secure phone call on his cell from Lou, "Kyle you've got to get out of Spain. Now!"

He was speechless for a moment, "Wh-what? Lou, we're so close to getting her out of this life. . ."

"Kyle, they know who you are. They know your coming. We intercepted a message. . ." She spoke quietly, "Chinese Intelligence suspects Black Pearl is working with us. They have a sniper waiting across the street . . . Kyle they'll kill her if you step one foot in that city."

Kyle took a deep breath and exhaled slowly calming his beating heart. The enemy knew who he was. By now his picture and stats had most likely been circulated among Chinese Intelligence and was being sent to their allies. He looked about the cabin; so far no one seemed to take note of him. Perhaps he was safe on the train, for now.

He was shocked, "How?"

"We're not sure. Your cover's been compromised. Get to the Embassy in France, we'll have people waiting to bring you home." Lou paused, "I'm sorry Kyle, but you won't be able to see her ever again."

Taking in deep breaths Kyle stopped on a park bench to rest, he'd been running all night through the streets of the famed City of Lights, dodging the Chinese agents who had been following him since the airport. The American Embassy was only a few blocks away and he felt confident he could make it.

The rain was coming down, softly at first, but it was gaining momentum as he turned on Gabriel heading toward Second Avenue. The streets were devoid of any life as the rain drummed harder on the buildings around him, creating deep puddles of cool rainwater on the sidewalk.

Kyle stopped running, because the splashing was causing more noise than cared to make. He crept along the buildings trying to stay under the awnings and out of the now drenching rain. Then through the noise of the rain he thought he heard the slow steady click of a gun hammer. He stood deadly still as a voice in his ear spoke in Chinese, "Don't move. Mr. Duarte."

Kyle felt, what he heard a moment ago, the gun shoved in the small of his back. Kyle thought he'd try and confuse the agent so with a slight Brooklyn accent he stuttered, "Hey! I ain't gatta no money, I'm just trying to st-stay outta da rain."

The agent laughed as he pushed the gun harder into Kyle's back. "It's no use in denying it. We've been tracking you since you landed in France. You are Kyle Duarte of the United States NSA. And I have. . ."

He never got to finish his sentence as Kyle landed a heavy blow to his gut and at the same motion tried to wrest the gun away from him, but the Chinese agent didn't give up that easily. Breaking away from him the agent stepped back pointing the gun at Kyle's chest.

Kyle faced the smiling man. The Chinese agent was small and compact dressed in loose fitting black dress clothes popular in Asia.

"Going to a party?" Kyle asked looking around the empty street. Just a head of him was a darkened private park enclosed in a twelve foot fence. Behind him was a row of awning covered shop windows. There weren't too many options if he tried to run for it.

Mockingly the man spat, "You are quick, Mr. Duarte, however, I still have the gun!"

Buying himself time, Kyle smiled back at him, "So you just gonna kill me? Or do have orders to take me in alive?"

The agent lowered his gun a fraction, "Yes American slime, I cannot kill you just yet, but as long as you are alive it does not matter how I bring you in."

Kyle lifted his hands in the air and surrendered. The Chinese agent smiled, "So you wish to do it the easy way? Good."

As the agent came closer to Kyle to put him in restraints, Kyle charged him slamming the hand holding the gun into the shop window. The glass shattered from the impact and the Chinese agent howled in pain.

Kyle made a run for the park leaping onto the black wire fence, he climbed over falling hard to soft wet ground. Gaining his feet Kyle glanced behind him to see the agent in pursuit, his bloody hand tucked under his sleeve.

"You wanted to see me?" Lou came around the desk setting down the mission report she'd been reviewing.

Without looking at her Kyle responded, "Eric Vaughn is in the country."


Kyle continued, "Probably the east coast, most likely D.C."

"How do you know?" Lou's interest was peeked as she moved to sit down behind her desk.

Turning to face her Kyle answered, "I called some former assets. I think he's here because he doesn't trust anybody else to pick up whatever he paid Gage to steal.

Firmly Lou reminded him, "Gage failed. We got him before he managed to steal anything."

Pausing, Kyle opened his mouth to say more, but Diane barged in. Without waiting to be acknowledged she said quickly, "We've got a problem."

Kyle thought he'd lost the Chinese agent. He'd doubled back and climbing one of the stronger looking trees he watched as the agent passed by and kept on going straight over the far side fence and out of the park.

Kyle was safe. By now Mei Ling knew he wasn't coming. If he didn't show she was supposed to walk away and act as if nothing was supposed to have happened. She would go on with no one the wiser, until the NSA could come up with another way to free her.

Would she know he didn't meet her to save her life? Would she understand? Would he ever have the chance to explain? A million questions ran through Kyle's mind as he climbed down from the tree, out of the park and along the cobbled avenue to the Embassy.

He had nearly reached the gates of the American Embassy when without warning a Volkswagen bus came around the corner screeching on two tires as it turned sharply toward Kyle.

After the fire alarm went off and they found Jake missing. Kyle sent out teams to find him. Coordinating the effort from Sat-ops, Kyle paced trying to figure out a way to track Jake.

He was worried for the nanite kid. If they didn't think of something to do with him soon, the poor kid would be turned into a lab rat for the rest of his life. So, Kyle was reviewing Jake's personnel file looking for ideas.

It seemed to him, Jake Foley was only working in Tech Support because it was what he was good at. He went to Georgetown University, graduating with high marks in computer sciences and his past quarterly reviews from his NSA supervisors were higher than average.

Jake had also applied for Intel training, twice. It seems he didn't just get a job at the NSA to defrag hard drives, but to be a spy. This made Kyle worry a bit. A kid growing up on James Bond movies didn't always make a good agent, but he saw things in Jake he admired.

*Maybe Lou would let me train him to be an agent?* Kyle thought suddenly. *Yeah, why not? At least I could be more involved in the field without actually being in the field.*

This made Kyle feel a little nostalgia; Jake's situation reminded him of his first big assignment.

*Several years earlier. . .*

The beaches in Bali were always crowded; Kyle glanced up from his magazine hoping to catch sight of the double agent from Chinese Intelligence, but there wasn't anyone coming closer to give him the prearranged signal. It was hot, eighty-eight degrees and climbing, Kyle wished he had time for a swim.

The supporting NSA agents were wandering around him like bees to a hive. He had to wonder if Chief back at Sat-ops was worried he'd botch the meeting.

A few of his fellow agents had said as much before they left. "He's too young. He doesn't have the experience. He's not digging deep enough."

They all voiced their concerns, but Chief quieted them, "He just needs to step up. After all, he's learned to look beyond the obvious, he'll do just fine." Kyle left his doubts at that final briefing.

Now, waiting on this hot beach in an entirely different country, Kyle's doubts returned. He'd been trained for this; he knew what to do. And anyway, this was a simple mission. A quick drop and he'd be back in front of his TV watching football in no time.

Just then a vision of beauty came strolling up the shore. She was Chinese, wearing a white sundress hugging her delicious hips that swayed as she walked barefoot in the sand. He knew instantly this was the mark, but he didn't want to be distracted by her beauty and looked down as she signaled him. He missed it.

Looking back up hoping to see her face near his, he was surprised to see nothing—she had vanished. Frantically he looked up and down the beach for his white vision, but she was nowhere to be seen.

Later, in the safe house getting ready to disembark for the states, Kyle's anger with himself increased. "I've completely botched the mission!" He berated himself over and over.

The other agents, understanding his frustration, had left him alone as he showered and packed his gear. "What an idiot! I should always keep my eyes on the mark! How many times did my instructor caution us??"

Kyle almost threw his towel down on the bed in anger, but at the last moment he was shocked to see a women lying on the bed and stopped himself. Embarrassed, he quickly used the towel to cover his undressed self.

"It's YOU!" Kyle blurted, recognizing the women in white.

The young woman laughed with a thick Asian accent, "You American men—all alike."

Kyle smiled; her voice seemed to come from deep within brushing her full lips with sweet breath. He instantly liked her and knew he could trust her. It was this talent that had made him an agent in the first place. He instinctively knew who to trust.

He quickly pulled his clothes on asking, "Do I have the honor of addressing Black Pearl?" Kyle felt that her code name fit her perfectly; she was breath-taking in her white dress with her obsidian hair gleaming in the moonlight coming from the second story window.

Smiling she sat up on the bed, "I have the information you need." She smoothly reiterated the signal he had first missed on the beach. When Kyle returned in kind she pulled a small case containing a memory card from the folds of her dress.

"Why didn't you approach me on the beach?" Kyle asked as he secured the memory card in a bullet proof container.

"There were too many eyes, too many agents." She put her arms up around Kyle's neck smiling into his eyes, "Besides, now we have a chance to get to know each other better."

Kyle, forgetting all about keeping his eyes on the mark, closed them as he bent down to kiss her. . .

"Kyle? Hey, Kyle?" Lou was staring at him oddly. Apparently, he hadn't been paying attention to what she was saying. Lou tried again, "Where were you just a moment ago?"

Kyle sighed, "I was just thinking back to my first international mission in Bali." Sadly he turned to look into Lou's eyes. She looked back at him with sympathy. "I miss her, Lou."

Lou didn't say anything at first. Then she smiled softly. "I'm just glad we got you out of France in time, Kyle. The embassy was crawling with Chinese agents for that party they were throwing!"

Kyle paused and started to laugh remembering, "Why a Volkswagen bus?"

"You know," Lou laughed too. "I really don't know why. I think it was just Agent Wright¹s weird sense of humor."

"Yeah," Kyle grinned, "He does have that . . . Or more than likely it was the first vehicle he could steal!"

Lou looked hard into Kyle's eyes, "So you think this Foley kid has potential as an agent?"

"Yeah, Lou. I really do." Kyle looked hopeful.

"I'll talk to my superiors; maybe we can get them to create a special team or something to field test the nanites." Lou sighed, "You're going to have your hands full."

Kyle simply nodded. Suddenly Lou looked at him all business, "We've got Foley's cell phone on record right?" When Kyle nodded she continued, "Let's use that to track him. . ."