As we made our way to 'The Core', Spike pointed out the different attractions of the Onion building to me. Of course, after having 'Layer 1', 'Layer 2', 'Layer 3', and so on pointed out to me, I began to get an inkling of what, exactly, was up.

"So wait, The Onion," I began, pausing for emphasis, "has layers?"

"Well," said Spike, almost sheepishly, "if the shoe fits..."

"...throw in a pop culture reference?" I questioned sarcastically, throwing in a patented eyebrow-raise for good measure.

Spike shrugged it off and kept walking. I followed along, because I had little other choice (there was no way I was getting lost in an onion with a bunch of half-bit heroes), but I was beginning to seriously doubt the merits of coming to this place at all. I hadn't even got to ride in the lousy jet.

Luckily, we reached the Core just then, interrupting my internal tea party of doubt and self-pity. The huge metal behemoth of a door was conveniently located right at the end of a hall, right in the centre of the building, and conveniently labelled, in large bold letters, "THE CORE". You know, in case there was any doubt about it.

"This is..." started Spike, quite dramatically.

"The Core?" I hazarded, though there wasn't even a hint of doubt in my mind.

"How did you know that?" Spike demanded in a quite comical tone. And the funny part is, I couldn't tell, for the life of me, whether he was joking or not. If they really were that inept, though, I could see why they needed my help.

After I shrugged it off and he gave it up, he slid a hand onto a panel and slid the door to the Core into the wall. It moved with far less sound and seemingly far less effort than a door of its size should have, to reveal a room that simply did not belong in 'The Onion."

It was, to be blunt, really, really cool.

It looked like some sort of command room or supercomputer from a sci-fi movie; wires everywhere and a giant screen dominating the room, displaying who-knows-what at sizes that would make any rich suburban father cry at the foot of his gargantuan widescreen TV.

I'll let you imagine the gritty details for yourself, and you can come back in a few minutes when you've done so.

Good? Good. The only real blemish on the perfectly awesome look of the room was the fact that a typical nerd was napping on a particularly comfortable looking recliner in the middle of the room. A wild guess told me this was 'Zeke'. but I had been expecting him to be more of a man of action. You know, maybe actually operating the computer.

"Welcome to the Core," came a surprisingly suave voice from Zeke's direction, snapping me from my mental reverie and pouring me into a metaphorical martini (shaken, not stirred).

"Cut the Bond crap, Zeke," said Pyro. I had, until now, ignored his presence in my narration, but it didn't really matter until now that he was there, because he was as silent as the grave. Real-life grave, not zombie-movie grave; the latter is actually quite filled with noise. Rois was there too, but again, it was of little consequence.

"Do you have to embarass me in front of the newb?" whined a whiny voice, much more fitting of the geek in front of me. If you must have a metaphor, I would say it tried to chug the martini I was pleasantly basking in, and choked like the lightweight it was.

"Pyro, Zeke, save it for the Friar," interceded Spike, before Pyro could react. "Jarret, this is Zeke. He's our computer guy. And before you ask," he said hurriedly, seeing that I was about to ask, "his power is not to play videogames really well."

"Oh, you're learning!" I said with a smirk. "Then what is it?"

"He's a psytech. Which means he can interact with computer with no interface."

"Which means he can basically think and talk like a computer?" I prompted.

"Which means he's the ultimate nerd," Pyro muttered.

"Which means I could use the Core's security systems to fry you in an instant," retorted Zeke maliciously, glaring nerdy daggers at Pyro.

"Which means..." started Spike, with a warning in his voice.

"Which means shut the hell up and tell us why we're here!" burst out Rois, stunning everyone in the room into silence. Of course, as quickly as it came, the outburst was gone and she just looked bored again.

"Uh, yeah," said Zeke haltingly, he being the first to recover. "I've got your first mission for you..."

The End

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