They were on a plane to Toronto, where Crystal's father lived, when the man approached them, despite the seatbelt sign still glowing above them. Crystal had been reading the emergency procedures information card from the pocket on the seat in front of her, but Brenda, who was in the window seat, looked up right away. "Can we help you?" she asked, frowning.
The man ignored her and instead, slipped a note onto Crystal's lap and walked away. Crystal looked up at him frowning, then tried to be discreet as she opened the note.
We need to talk. Meet me in the cockpit.
Crystal reread it, but it still said the same thing.
"What does it say?" Brenda asked, craning her neck for a better view.
"Who is this guy? How do I get to the cockpit? The seatbelt sign is on, and I'm pretty sure citizens are not allowed-"
The seatbelt sign darkened with a ping.
Crystal sighed and undid her seatbelt with a metallic click. "I'll be right back," she told Brenda. "If I'm not, use that GPS gadget of yours to find me and come to my rescue." Brenda, who was as brilliant with technology as Crystal was with biology, nodded solemnly.
Crystal walked up the aisle, not looking back. She passed the washroom, the mid-plane emergency exits, and a really loud, annoying kid. She passed through the first class section, eyeing their luxurious little cubicles enviously. A flight attendant with a high ponytail, hot pink lipstick and the standard unflattering green scarf knotted around her throat stood purposefully in Crystal's way.
"You're not supposed to be-" she was interruped by another flight attendant, who grabbed her shoulder and whispered in her ear. Pink-lips frowned, but moved to the side.
Crystal moved past them, confused and a bit frightened. She went past the curtain behind which the flight attendants sat, until she came to the wall which she assumed led to the cockpit. There was a locked door in front of her, and, for lack of better options, she knocked on it.
The door clicked and opened without hesitation, and she went inside, to find the cockpit ful of switches and dials, just like she had seen in the movies. The mysterious man crouched there to her right behind the pilots. He was in his late fourties, with thick gray hair and defined frown lines. Stocky, but toned beneath his blazer. His eyes were dark and solemn, his brows nearly black and raised expectantly as he motioned for her to sit. She obeyed.
"I needed to talk to you in a secure area." He said simply. The pilots completely ignored them. "There is something you need to know about your employer."
"Who are you?" Crystal asked.
"My name is Harry Goldberg. I represent the SDPO - the Scientific Discovery Protection Organization," he explained. "We keep an eye on all academic and commercial laboratories. We've been watching you and Mr. Vanden for some time, but unfortunately, we only received information about his history today."
"Mr. Vanden's real name is Brandon Verell. He changed it after building up quite a criminal record."
"I've been working for a wanted criminal."
"He was interviewed extensively during one of his periods in captivity. His psych profile says that he is literally planning to take over the world. He was sincerely proud of his ambitions during the analysis. Since then, he has learned to keep his plans to himself."
"I've been working for a mad-man who wants to take over the world. Is this a joke?"
"Be assured it is not, Ms. Johnson."
"Call me Crystal."
"I have orders from the SDPO and some other very respected leaders to inform you of the situation fully and offer you protection, services, even a job."
There was some kind of loud, heated argument going on just outside the cockpit door, but it was muffled, and the two of them ignored it.
"Job? What do you mean?"
"Now that Mr. Verell has compromised your findings, we believe he will try to do some real damage. We would like you to join our team and help us stop him."
Loyalty flashed in Crystal's eyes. "What about Brenda?"
Mr. Goldberg smiled kindly. "Miss Farmer could come in handy as well."
Crystal smiled back, but more questions burned in her mind. "Exactly what would you have us do? It's not like I have the location of his secret lab or anything."
"If it is not too much trouble, Ms. Johnson, we would like you to create weapons that could immobilize the ones that he has his hands on."
"You want to fight fire with better, newer fire."
The argument outside had gotten louder and there was a loud thump on the door.
"Sometimes there is no other option."
Crystal gave it one final, thorough thought, then grinned. "When do I start?"
Suddenly, Brenda burst through the cockpit door, breathing hard, her curly brown hair decidedly mussed. She surveyed the situation quickly, then glared down at Crystal, who sat sheepishly, cross-legged on the floor. "You told me to come find you!" Brenda exclaimed. "What's going on? What took you so long?"