The jet was almost ready by the time that Cavendish and Dakota’s van pulled into Phineas’ driveway. It sat on a large catapult, pointing almost straight up into the late afternoon sky. Its wingtips stuck out over the fence into the neighbour’s yard on either side by a couple of feet. Cavendish pulled the key out of the ignition and the engine died. They piled out of the van and proceeded as one body through the house and into the backyard.
“Boys-,” began Lawrence in surprise.
“Oh, hi Dad,” said Phineas breezily as he hurried by, “we’ll probably be late for dinner.”
They emerged from the house into the backyard which lay mostly in shadow under the broad swept back wings of the jet. Candace was waiting for him, tapping her foot. “Phineas,” she said. She gestured dramatically at the sleek aircraft filling the backyard. “What is this-,”
Phineas pushed past his sister without stopping. “Sorry, Candace,” he said with a wave, “perhaps next time.” He turned and called over his shoulder. “Oh, and you should get in the house, otherwise you’ll get cooked in the jet blast.” He walked over to a corner of the yard where Baljeet was unwinding a thick cable from the jet’s ground cart. “Baljeet,” he said, grabbing the heavy cable and dragging it across the yard. “How are we looking?”
“We are almost ready,” said the diminutive Indian boy, Baljeet was even younger than Phineas, “but I must caution against-,”
Phineas climbed up a ladder and partially disappeared, so that only his feet and legs were visible. “Sorry, Baljeet,” he said. He was mostly hidden by the jet’s wing and his voice was slightly muffled as a result, “There’s no time for a test flight. Milo’s gone missing again-,“
“Why didn’t you say so,”exclaimed Baljeet in his high pitched, sing song voice and waving his arms, “I will write a negative probability tracking algorithm.”
“Thanks, Baljeet,” said Phineas, plugging the cable in his hands into an exterior power socket. “In the mean time the rest of us are going to San Fransokyo.”
Baljeet turned his attention back to the ground cart. He flipped up the clear plastic cover on the primer switch and flipped it. “Phineas, we are ready to start the jet’s internal systems.”
“OK,” said Phineas. He gestured to Ferb, Zack, Melissa, Amanda, Cavendish and Dakota who had all gathered at the base of the catapult on which the jet was poised pointing at the late afternoon sky. “We’re almost ready to leave,” he said. “Ferb, lets get into the cockpit and start our pre-flight check.” He scrambled nimbly up a second ladder and disappeared into a hatch. The others followed him. The jet’s interior was spartan. Exposed wiring and hydraulic lines snaked everywhere. Phineas and Ferb hauled themselves into the pilots seats with a system straps and footholds. They put on their headsets and began running through their pre-flight checklist. They skipped every step they thought that they could safely omit. Behind them, Phineas and Ferb could hear the others pulling themselves into their seats and buckling their restraints. The two stepbrothers each put a hand on the throttle. With his other hand, Phineas flipped up a plastic cover and touched his thumb to the red button underneath, but didn’t press it. Sitting in the co-pilot’s seat, Ferb did the same. “Ready?” asked Phineas.
“On the count of three,” said Phineas. His right hand tightened on the throttle.
Phineas and Ferb pushed the throttle all the way forward and pushed the button under his thumb. On the other side of the cockpit, Ferb did the same. The high pitched whine of the turbofans spooling up was suddenly drowned out by the deep bass roar of four JATO rockets suddenly igniting. In the seat behind Phineas, Zack suddenly as if something heavy was sitting on his chest and fervently hoped that the jet would hold together. The rational part of his mind told him that Phineas and Ferb knew what they were doing, but he thought it anyway. Out of the corner of his eye, the ground fell away as the jet began to move. It accelerated from a standing start to several hundred miles an hour within a very short distance. As they accelerated Zack’s point of view widened from his obscured view of Phineas and Ferb’s backyard to their entire neighbourhood and to Milo’s as well. The jet heeled over hard at six thousand feet, while still climbing and for a brief moment Zack was able to see all of downtown Danville spread out below him like a large map. They were still accelerating and Danville slid out of sight almost immediately. They continued climbing until they levelled off at seventy thousand feet. Then Phineas hit the scramjets and broke the sound barrier for the straight shot flight to San Fransokyo.
“Who are you?” asked Milo, “and what am I doing here?”
Liv Amara put put away her pen light. “My name is Liv Amara,” said Amara again. “I am the CEO of Sycorax Bionics. We want your help, and in return, we might be able to able help you.”
“What do you want from me?” asked Milo slowly. This feels like the Octalians all over again, he thought wearily.
“We’re conducting advanced life extension research,” she explained. “We heard about through our sources in Danville and we thought that we might be able to help each other.”
“So rather than just saying, ‘Hi Milo, we’d like you to participate in our experiment,’ you just knocked me out and kidnapped me?” asked Milo sarcastically, “And what about my friends?” he continued, “I’m pretty sure they didn’t just let you take me.”
“We’re not interested in your friends,” replied Amara, “but we didn’t really given them a choice either.”
“What did you do to them?”demanded Milo.
“Not much,” said the man. “We tranquillized them at the same time we tranquilizer you.”
Amara continued. “They should have woken up a couple of hours ago none the worse for wear-,”
“-And wondering where I am,” countered Milo defiantly. “I have the best friends in the world. Zack, Melissa and Amanda will be looking for me.” And they have Phineas and Ferb with them, thought Milo, those two will likely cook something up all on their own.
“But they don’t know where you are,” said the man. “Be reasonable, Milo, the best way for you to help yourself is to co-operate.”
“Chris is right,” replied Amara. She input a command into her tablet and Milo was bathed in a ghostly blue light. At the same moment, the large high resolution computer screen on the wall opposite Milo flickered to life. Milo saw a slightly abstracted image of himself displayed on the screen. As Milo watched, it slowly dissolved through his body, peeling back the layers like the layers of an onion, starting with his clothes, then his skin, musculature, nervous system and internal organs, stopping only when it had digitally stripped him down level of his skeleton. He could see every fracture and broken bone he had ever had in his life. Amara input a second command into her tablet and medical data began to scroll down one side of the screen. “Milo, according to these scans, you have broken a total of twenty-eight bones.” She paused letting that sink in.
Milo’s face was a mask, but inwardly he was surprised. Living with Murphy’s Law meant that he was more inclined than the average person to have accidents and mishaps and yes he had broken more than a few bones, but twenty-eight? He suddenly felt as though she was trying to manipulate him and suddenly felt as though something was telling him to be cautious.
“You don’t have to live like this,” Amara after a while. “We have the resources to help you,” she continued. “We could run some tests, sequence your DNA and-,”
Milo didn’t let her finish. “You may think you’re trying to help me,” he said, “but you’re not. My best friend used to think like that.” Milo had briefly gone missing the previous autumn as a result of run-in with Cavendish and Dakota, and a pair of rival time agents, Brick and Savannah. He had ended up in the late 22nd Century as a result.The incident had sealed his friendship with Cavendish and Dakota as a result. In the process looking for him, Melissa had revealed to Zack and Sara that she had collected a large amount of information on Milo and Murphy’s Law, including a number of very intimate personal items, including two years worth of his used toothbrushes. Exactly how she had gotten them, Milo had immediately decided that he didn’t really want to know, but he had appreciated both her desire to want to help him and her eventual realization that what she had wanted for him wasn’t the kind of life that he envisioned for himself. “Fortunately, she knows me a lot better that you do.” Milo emphatically shook his head. “I am not helping you,” he said. “You drugged me, and all of my friends, then kidnapped me, and you expect me to participate in some weird experiment?” Milo forced himself to take deep, steadying breath before he continued. “That is just really, really rude.”
Liv Amara looked impassively at the hapless and imprisoned teenager. “I had hoped that you would be willing to co-operate, Milo,” she said, “given what we can potentially offer you in return, but if you don’t want we can give you-,”
“-I don’t,” replied Milo flatly.
Amara nodded. “Very well.” She turned to Chris. “Let’s prep.”
The jet touched down in a flurry of heat and noise, its engines spooling down with a high pitched whine. Zack woke up with a slight start as the jet touched down with a slight bump and settled on to its landing gear. In the cockpit, Phineas and Ferb were unbuckling their safety harnesses and running through their post-flight checklists. Zack rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and looked out the window. He had fallen asleep somewhere over the Midwest. The view out of the window was unfamiliar. They appeared to have landed on somebody’s private helipad.
Cavendish and Dakota both appeared to have been thinking the same thing. “Phineas-,” Cavendish began.
“-Where are we exactly?” Dakota finished for him.
Phineas finished his post-flight checklist, took off his headset and got out of his pilot’s seat. He shifted his weight back and forth from one foot to the other, restoring the circulation in his legs. The flight had left him feeling a bit wobbly. “Welcome to San Fransokyo,” he said.
Zack looked out the window again. The helipad was surrounded by neatly manicured grounds dotted with mature trees. Beyond that was a high wall. Beyond that distant skyscrapers pulsed with green and orange and purple neon lights. The neatly manicured grounds reminded Zack a little of McDuck Manor and he wondered who lived here. His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of Ferb pulling a lever, the plane’s outer door opening and a metal staircase unfolded with a metallic rattle. They filed down the stairs and out on the grounds. They stood for a minute or two looking around.
“So what happens now?” asked Amanda.
Phineas frowned. “I’m not sure,” he admitted. He had briefly talked to Hiro to give him a heads up that something was brewing and to send him some 3D scans of some of the equipment that they had studied. Hiro had promised him that somebody would be there to meet them when they landed, but there was nobody in sight.
“Maybe we landed in the wrong spot?” Zack wondered out loud. He heard it as he said and doubted that Phineas and Ferb would make such a basic mistake, but he looked around at the immaculate grounds and the large house which lay at the end of a long path lined with flagstones that led from the helipad, and felt at least a little as if he was trespassing.
Phineas had opened his mouth, about to speak when they heard a shout. They all turned and saw a thin, lanky looking figure with shoulder length dirty blond hair striding down up the path from the house. Next to him came a broad shouldered man with a dark complexion, close cropped dreadlocks, a yellow bandana and a green sweater. “Phineas,” said the tall, lanky man, excitedly, “Ferb. What’s up little, dudes?”
“Oh, hi Fred,” said Phineas. “I thought that Hiro was going to meet us here.”
“Hey guys,” said the dark skinned man with a casual wave, “yeah, he wanted to but he’s not done looking over the data you sent him.” He paused. “He didn’t like the idea of Alistair Krei being involved in a kidnapping. He interns for Krei, you know. What exactly is going anyway?”
Phineas was about to answer when his phone rang. He pulled his phone out of his pocket. His caller ID said “Baljeet Tjinder.” He answered the call and Baljeet appeared on his screen. “Hi, Baljeet,” he said.
“Phineas, I have written a negative probability tracking algorithm,” said Baljeet.
“Can you tell us where Milo is?” asked Melissa.
“Unfortunately, I can not,” replied Baljeet, shaking his head. “I can only determine that he is somewhere in San Fransokyo.”
“OK, thanks, Baljeet,” said Phineas. He tapped his screen and hung up.