Story: Fears and Favors (all chapters)
Authors: A Markov
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Title: Working for a living
Wade checked the data once more; the answer was in there, he could almost taste it. Everything he needed was in front of him. He just couldn’t put it together in the right way. Eight years ago, twenty girls had been recruited by a raving lunatic trying to start her own personal army. They had all been subjected to illegal drug therapy and neural hypnotic manipulation. Now, eleven were dead and, of the eight known survivors, three had undergone brain surgery in an attempt to return them to a more normal existence. The first operation had been cautiously declared a success, but only six months had passed and doctors were still worried about its long-term effects. Their fears were compounded by the lack of positive response from the other two girls who had gone through the surgery. The young ladies had shown improvement but they were not well enough to enter back into society. It had been decided to delay further operations until the reasons for success or failure could be pinned down. Nineteen of the original twenty were accounted for, and one had vanished into thin air three years ago. It was like she had been erased. No, it was more like she had only existed in the program, there was no record of her before she entered the program and no record of her after Kim’s escape had ended it. Wade tweaked his ferret program one more time. He knew the answer was there, he just had to figure out the right question.
Shego plugged the beta unit into the mainframe and began the download. Now came the part that she didn’t like. She had to stay put, waiting for the damn machine to complete its tasks. She never liked to rely on anything outside of herself and being a slave to the timing of a computer’s program irked her to no end. She checked her timer, only eighteen seconds had passed, one minute three seconds to go… if the damn thing worked right. The beta unit started beeping. She wondered if that was supposed to happen and covered it with a note pad to muffle the sound. It was too late. The door burst open and an angry red headed woman ran into the room.
“Hold it right there!”
Shego glanced at her chrono… fifteen more seconds. She let fly with a mild plasma ball to distract the woman and followed up by throwing a heavy UPS battery. The woman ducked and came at Shego from the side. Five more seconds… Shego blocked several kicks and punches while holding her ground and when her timer beeped, she caught the red head’s wrist and twisted it up behind the woman’s back.
“Don’t make me hurt you, sweetheart.”
With a scream of rage, the red head managed to twist out of Shego’s grasp but tripped over one of the desks and spilled onto the floor. The pale woman took the opportunity to grab the beta unit and make for the exit. She threw out a couple of random plasma bursts to discourage the woman from following her but it didn’t work, the red head was right on her tail when she got to the main warehouse. Shego found herself at a disadvantage in the wide-open space. She really didn’t want to hurt the woman but she was being prevented from escaping with the goods and every minute she spent in here was adding to the risk of attracting more potent law enforcement. She continued to fight defensively and look for an escape route.
The red head had her cornered and was pressing the attack. Finally, Shego powered forward with lit hands and was pleased as the woman fell back from her strength. The thief was hoping that would open a clear path but the red head couldn’t just leave it be and came back at her with renewed vigor. Shego barely managed to avoid several punches and finally, in frustration, lashed out at the red head’s knee. A cracking sound echoed in the empty room and her opponent screamed and fell to the floor, cradling a broken knee.
“I really didn’t want to do that, sweetie, but you left me no choice.”
The pale woman picked up the grappling gun that had fallen a few feet away and used it to aid her escape through a high window. Once outside, she reversed the hook, and repelled down the side of the building. An eight-foot tall chain link fence separated her from the waiting hovercraft and she vaulted it without breaking stride. Safely on her way, she checked the contents of her pouch; the beta unit had come through without a scratch. SA Thomas would be pleased; Shego just wanted to kill someone.
Ron was having a hard time with his tie. They were running late for some dance troop party thing and he had forgotten to have Rufus fix his tie before he left him with the sitter. On top of everything, Bonnie was upset with him because he had been called away from the last party they had attended to help Kim. “Bon-Bon, you’re getting upset over nothing.” He said.
“I don’t think it’s nothing; you walked out on me!”
“You know I didn’t mean to leave you…”
“…All alone in the middle of the dance floor?”
“Bonnie, we talked about this. Crime doesn’t wait until after the party.”
“What am I supposed to tell everyone when you disappear?”
“How about… ‘My boyfriend went to help Kim save the world.’”
“And spend the rest of the night answering questions about the famous Kim Possible?” The brunette paused for a moment, then continued in a wheedling voice: “Do you really know her? Isn’t she so pretty? Can you get me her autograph? Where does she shop? What’s her favorite cuddle-buddy?” Her eyes burned now as she loomed over Ron. “Like I would know or even give a rat’s ass what her favorite sushi flavor is.”
“Is this about me leaving you at a party or is it about me going to Kim?”
Bonnie crossed her arms over her chest and turned away.
Ron walked over to her and began lightly massaging her arms and shoulders. “I’m sorry, Bonnie. I know these things are important to you…”
“No buts.” He said earnestly, “They are important to you and you are important to me…”
She tensed inside, waiting for him to say it, hoping he would say it, but he didn’t say it at all. He didn’t even come close to saying it. Important to me, he said. That was almost as bad as I like you as a friend.
Say it! Say you love me! Tell me you love me!
“I… Let me do something nice for you. Your choice… Club… chick flick… fancy restaurant… whatever you want… Let me make it up to you.”
“Whatever I want?”
“Turn off the Kimmunicator.” Her voice was barely above a whisper.
“For one night… turn it off…”
“Starting right now!”
“…O.K.” He turned off the unit and tossed it over onto the end table.
“Oh, Ron.” She collapsed into his chest. It looked like they weren’t going out after all. He was going to spend the next couple of hours trying to comfort his girlfriend. Somehow he was screwing everything up. Ron put his arms around the sobbing woman and tried to figure out what he was doing wrong.
The young woman moved through her katas with strength, grace and poise. She stepped and turned in time with an unseen choreographer, performing her deadly looking ballet for a hidden audience. A man and a woman watched her from behind the one-way glass.
“She progresses well.” The woman commented.
“When will she be ready?”
“Five weeks. Will everything be in place by then?”
“I’ll be ready to move in less than that. Can we speed up her program?”
“No. She is the lynch-pin of our revenge; we will proceed on her schedule.”
The man stopped stroking the small dog in his arms and looked over at his associate, “You’re the chief.” He said, deferentially.
Shego didn’t wait for the hovercraft to come to a stop before vaulting out and heading up the ramp toward the office complex. Pushing a few of the other agents out of her way, she strode through the hallways as though she expected everyone to make room for her, and most of them did. After only three months as a freshman agent at the NSA, Shego already had a reputation for being short tempered and willing to make her points physically. She was pretty sure that this wasn’t what she had agreed to, but she had gone along with SA Thomas’ request that she undergo agency evaluation and training before she started contracting because Kitten seemed to think it was a good idea. She threw open the door to the debrief room and slammed the beta unit down on the table.
“Tell me how these assholes know enough about me to put a guard that looks like her in the building.” She demanded of the two agents waiting for her.
“What do you mean Ms. Shego?”
“The guard at the warehouse was a red haired fem.” She snapped. She had given up trying to get them to just call her Shego about three weeks into this whole thing. “I want to know how the owners of this information…” she held up the beta unit, “…knew that I was going to be coming after it and how they knew enough about me to hire a guard that looks like my girlfriend.”
“Perhaps it was just a coincidence…”
“There’s no such thing as a coincidence in this business. Your organization leaks information like a teenager on MySpace.” She pointed at the beta unit again. “It took me one minute, twenty-two seconds to download that info. You’ve got two minutes to get what you want out of that unit before I take it and walk out of this place forever.”
“Ms. Shego, please remain calm and let us debrief you. Once we have all of the pertinent information, I’m sure we’ll be able to figure out what you want to know.”
Shego noticed that even as he spoke calmly, trying to placate her, he was busily connecting the beta unit to the desktop in order to transfer the data she had brought back. She pretended not to notice that the second agent had surreptitiously depressed a signal button. She hoped he was signaling SA Thomas, because if he was calling security, a lot of people were going to get hurt on her way out. She glanced at the clock on the wall, silently counting down the two minutes. When she reached twelve seconds, the first agent unplugged the beta unit and silently handed it to her. She stomped out.
SA Thomas was waiting for her at the hovercraft. She wondered if he kept all of his suits crumpled up in a ball on the floor or just wore the same one every day.
“Ms. Shego, would you please accompany me on a walk?”
The pale woman sighed, “No Special Agent Thomas, if you want to talk to me, you’ll have to get in.” To her surprise, he did just that. She went on, “I’m not bringing you back and I’m not guaranteeing I’ll listen.”
They rode in silence for a few minutes. Thomas pulled out a cigarette and indicated he needed a light. Shego obliged and they continued in silence. She hated to admit it but his silence was actually starting to peak her interest so she gave in and asked, “What did you want to say?”
“You’re not happy with the Agency?”
“What the hell are you talking about?” she asked sarcastically, “This is my happy face… on weekends I use it to cheer up the orphans.”
“Where do you think things could be improved?”
“You want me to list it in order of importance or alphabetically?”
“You believe you could do a better job?”
“I believe a five year old could…” She caught a glimpse of him in the instrument panel and noticed he was smiling. “No.”
That took him by surprise. “What?”
“No.” She started looking for a landing site. “I’m not doing it.”
“I’m not going to join a ‘special unit’ or an ‘elite force’ or any other damned team for you.”
“I was actually thinking of having you lead a team for me.
“That’s even worse!” She snapped, “I work alone.”
“And the work you did with Team Go?”
“Ancient history… A fluke… A mistake… In the past.” She set the craft down in the middle of an intersection. “Now get out.” She continued to stare at him impassively while the horns began to sound from all sides.
“What’s the sitch, Wade?”
“I’ve got reports of a hostage situation at a private school in Maryland.”
“That sounds like something for a professional FBI negotiator team, why call me?”
“Check out this video…”
Kim watched as the picture resolved and Senor Senior Sr. came in to focus. He was seated in a large leather armchair next to a fireplace, looking immaculate as always. “To the families of the children gathered here, I send my most sincere regrets that this action has become necessary. However, I must insist that each of you come up with ten million dollars to ensure the safe return of your children.”
“Father! This was supposed to be my chance to sing with my new band!”
“Be quiet, Junior. I am speaking with our victims’ families.”
“But Father, I do not wish for victims, I wish for an audience of rich children so that they will buy my records and I will become a huge pop star in the United States!”
“Junior, you will do as you are told. Now get back to the hostages and do not disturb me again.”
There were sounds of falling equipment and the picture fuzzed out.
“He still doesn’t have the villain thing down yet, does he?” Kim asked.
“Not quite. Your ride will be there in about five minutes. I’ll contact Ron and have him meet you in Maryland.”
“You rock, Wade.”
“You told me you turned that thing off!”
“I did! Wade must have activated it remotely!”
Wade’s voice came from the end table, “Ron!”
Bonnie was adamant, “Don’t you dare answer that.”
“Ron, where are you? Why is it so dark there? Do you have the Kimmunicator in a drawer? Ron?”
The blonde looked at his girlfriend and glanced back toward the table where the Kimmunicator sat, covered by his jacket. Bonnie’s eyes held something in them that he couldn’t identify. There was anger… and hurt… but something else too. He didn’t know what it was and he wasn’t sure how to react to it. If he didn’t answer Wade’s call, the computer genius would probably activate the remote roving feature on the thing and come find him and he’d be forced to answer it anyway. His eyes flicked to it once more and when he looked back at Bonnie, he suddenly understood the look in her eyes. If he answered this call, she would be gone when he came back. He remembered telling her once that he didn’t want to choose between her and Kim; her words came back to him… I can’t make you choose and I won’t even ask you to, but sometime… sometime you’re going to have to.
It wasn’t a choice he wanted to make.
Chapter 2- High School Seniors]
Title: High School Seniors
Colin and Randy Beaman are owned by Warner Brothers.
“Junior, I must insist that you clear this area of your toys.”
“These are not toys, father, they are instruments for my band. Now is the time that I will sing for the dancing.”
“There will be no dancing here tonight.” Senor Senior Sr. said sharply. “This is a place of ransom now.”
“Do not use that tone of voice with me, Junior. You know that I am only trying to provide you with the requisite billions to create your own nefarious empire.” The older man shook his head sadly, “I despair that you will ever learn the true art of villainy.”
As Junior moped out of the room, presumably to check on the hostages, Senior checked over his defensive measures one more time. The school had a wonderful security system in place; it had cost him quite a bit to buy the plans and codes for it. He had also added a few touches of his own. For some reason, he still had a soft spot in his heart for Spinning Tops of Doom and he had high hopes for the current version with built in ‘collision avoidance’ software. He was sure that Kim Possible would arrive soon and he was anticipating it with delight. He took his time and made sure that his weapons were not only deadly but also aesthetically pleasing.
“Come with me.” Ron said earnestly.
“What?” She looked at him as though he had grown a second head.
“Come with me.” Ron repeated, holding out his hand. Wade’s voice was getting more strident and the jacket over the Kimmunicator was moving around.
“Are you out of your mind? The last time I went with you, I had to jump out of a perfectly good airplane and a cave fell on me!”
The movement of the jacket was becoming more frenzied. Wade’s amplified voice filled the room, “I can hear you talking, Ron. Pick up the Kimmunicator!”
“Please come with me.”
“I… I can’t.”
“Then promise me you’ll still be here when I get back.”
Bonnie dropped her tear-filled eyes and turned away.
“Look at me!” Ron snapped. When she turned to him, there were matching tears in his eyes. “Promise.” He pled.
“No.” she whispered.
“Your ride’s outside, Romeo.” Wade’s voice came from near his foot.
“Shut up, Wade! And switch off, I need a few minutes.” Ron held Bonnie’s hands and looked into her eyes once more.
“Thanks for the ride, Colin.”
“It’s the least I could do after you saved Randy Beaman and me from his piranha-cat.”
“It was just an underwater fight with a ravenous mutant beast.” Kim replied with a dismissive wave of her hands, “So not the drama.”
“Did I ever tell you about the time that Randy Beaman’s aunt dreamed she was eating a big marshmallow…?”
“Yes. See you around, Colin.”
Shego walked into the apartment still steaming. SA Thomas was a selfish bastard. She knew because she had a great deal of experience with selfish bastards; she looked at one in the mirror every morning. “Kitten…” She called but got no answer. A quick glance at the living room told her that Kim had been called out on short notice. Textbooks were strewn across the coffee table and floor. The girl was a haphazard housekeeper at best but she usually at least stacked her crap into one big pile as a minimum effort to appease the older woman. Shego was surprised at the strength of her disappointment that Kim was not home. Perhaps her words about being a loner to Thomas were less true than she realized.
The soft spoken agent had really twisted her up today. He was trying to manipulate her into running one of his spook squads and she wasn’t going to fall for it. He had probably set up the encounter at the warehouse, just to push her buttons. She’d been subjected to his psyches and their crap for five months now, two months of interrogation and three months of in-house training and field tests. So he must have suspected she would react this way. She grabbed a bottle of water out of the fridge and wandered out to the balcony. She needed to figure out why he wanted her to work for him. He had to have an angle that required some quality that she possessed. She sat down to watch the sun’s light fade from the lake and tried to figure out what SA Thomas found so special about her.
“What’s the sitch, Wade?”
“Ron’s going to be a few minutes late.”
“Pants or Bonnie?”
Kim frowned at the thought. The brunette was starting to get on her nerves, last time Ron had been late because of her, he had been so distracted that he wasn’t a good distraction. She put the cheerleader out of her mind and turned to the task at hand, “Lot’s of cameras around here, can you find me a way inside that isn’t covered?”
“Give me some time, Kim.” Wade said while typing furiously. “This is a premier private school, with a state of the art security system specially designed to prevent… I’m in,” he said triumphantly, “I’m putting up a schematic of the building on the Kimmunicator’s screen, and I’ve plotted your safest route in to the building and marked the two most likely locations where the Seniors could be holding the hostages.”
You rock, Wade.”
Kim studied the blueprints for a few minutes, “Hmmm, the library or the gymnasium…” She paused and looked around, puzzled. “Do you hear a high pitched scream?”
“Hold on, Kim, let me scan the area…” The Kimmunicator sprouted a directional antenna, and Wade began an aural scan. “Yes... and it’s getting closer too.”
aaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIEIEEEEI EIEEEEEEE… THUD!
“Good news, Kim…” Wade said with a smile, “Ron has arrived.”
“Kim…?” Ron’s voice came weekly from a large bush, “next time I agree to travel by air-luge, just slap me.”
“Sure thing, Ron. Now, fold that up and let’s get going.”
As Kim and Ron made their way through the school’s ventilation system, Ron asked, “Why is it always the ventilation system?”
“Because someone forgot to bring Rufus.”
“Hey, I was already late, and if I had gone to get Rufus from the sitter I would have missed the whole mission.”
“I can’t believe the Dancing Queen makes you leave Rufus with a sitter when you go to one of her stupid parties.”
“I can’t believe Bonnie still tweaks you.”
“Uh… KP, you’re the one calling her names and getting us lost in an air conditioning duct.”
“What tweaked you?”
“Never mind, I just called…”
“..because you need directions?”
“Please and thank you.”
“Go back Fifteen feet and turn left. That will put you over the library.”
“You rock Wade.” Kim sighed as she turned around, “I’m sorry Ron… I guess I’m just not used to sharing you.”
“I know KP. How do you think I feel when you’re snuggled up to Shego?”
“It’s not all peaches and cream over here, believe me.”
“What’s not to love?”
“We fight over everything.”
“You can’t agree…?”
“No, we fight… as in 'put up your dukes' and fight… over everything… to decide who gets her way.”
Ron chuckled under his breath, “Hasn’t she ever heard of Rock, Paper, Scissors?”
“Only as weapons of convenience!”
“At least she doesn’t lay out your clothes for you while you’re in the shower.”
Kim removed the grill and looked into the library. Everything was still and dark. “Looks like they’re in the Gymnasium…” They dropped quietly down between the rows of books, “Let’s split up. You head toward the security control room. I’ll go check out the gym.”
“Aye-aye Cap’n Possible,” Ron replied with a grin, “divide and conquer it is.”
Kim paused outside of the gym. The students were sitting on one bank of bleachers while Junior was setting up sound equipment on a makeshift stage. He had salvaged the band members from the pizza shop and was arranging them on the dais. The students all seemed to be in good health and spirits, some of them were holding in giggles at Junior’s antics.
“I’ll take that!”
Before Kim could move, her backpack was roughly snatched away, and her arms were immobilized behind her back. “Good evening Kim Possible.” Senor Senior Sr. said affably, “I will, of course, regret anything that happens to you, but I think I would regret more if I allowed you to keep your wonderful toys.” He afforded her a small bow, “Please forgive this intrusion upon your privacy, but I must search your pockets for other tools and weapons.” He motioned to her unseen captor and Kim felt her ankles being grasped in the same iron grip as her fore arms. When she was securely held, the elder Senior quickly removed her grappling gun and Kimmunicator from the pockets of her cargo pants.
“You may put her in with the others.” Kim was lifted and carried through the swinging doors and deposited on the bleachers next to the kidnapped students. Her captor moved away and Kim caught a glimpse of a box-shaped robot with several flexible arms. Whatever it was, it had left restraints around her wrists and ankles. Kim tried to stand up but found that the bonds on her hands were connected to the bonds on her ankles in such a way that she couldn’t stand at all.
Ron burst into the control room expecting a fight, or at least a sentry, possibly even an alarm but found only a deserted room filled with control boards and monitors. He located the screen showing the gymnasium. On another screen Junior was setting up a camera While Senior arranged himself in a leather chair by the fire. He wondered what was taking Kim so long and then he saw Junior dragging her into the camera shot. Senior must be telling the world that he had captured Kim and that he was raising the ransom price. Ron looked around frantically for anything that might help. His eyes fell on the button marked “For Emergency Use Only.” This sure seemed like an emergency. He pressed it several times but nothing interesting happened.
Senor Senior Sr. paused his admonitory speech and listened intently for a moment. He could hear the sound made by the Spinning Tops of Doom as they began winding up to speed.
“Junior,” he said almost keeping the note of resigned frustration out of his voice. “Did you, by chance, happen to push the button marked “For Emergency Use Only?”
“No father, I have been only here, wallowing in despair because I shall never become a pop star.”
“This is no time for self pity, Junior. Let us leave this place now.”
“But father, I have not yet had a chance to sing…”
“Hold it right there Mr… Senior… Senor… Ah…” Ron’s voice trailed off in confusion and he turned to Kim. “I never know if I’m supposed to call him ‘Mr. Senior’ or ‘Senor Senior.’ I mean… I know he’s from Spain and they say ‘Senor’ but I’m not from Spain… I don’t even speak Spanish…”
“Right Kim...!” He paused to collect his thoughts, “Hold it right there… Uhh… you!”
“Ah, Senor Stoppable.”
“Dude, you are the only one who remembers my name.” Ron said sincerely, “That means a lot to me.”
“You see Junior, polite behavior is always appreciated.”
Senior glanced at the area where the Spinning Tops of Doom were staged, “Kim Possible, you have foiled my plan this time, but we shall meet again. However, before I go, I would not like you to think of me as a man who only takes from others, so… In the spirit of giving back, I have generously provided new sporting equipment for the school.” He gestured to a monitor showing the gymnasium. A line of tennis ball launchers was moving toward the students on the bleachers, “I believe you will find them most… inconvenient.” As he finished speaking the ball launchers began thumping and beeping. Soon tennis balls were being shot at the hostages with surprising speed and force. Ron freed Kim’s legs and arms and they ran toward the gymnasium. Bursting through the swinging doors, Kim used Ron’s Kimmunicator to contact Wade and bring him up to date on their sitch.
“Wade, can you jam them?”
“No can do, Kim.” The genius said regretfully, “they’re all internally controlled, nothing to jam, nothing to hack into.”
The pitch of the spinning tops leveled out as they reached top speed and began to move toward Kim and Ron. Ron heard the noise and turned to look.
“KP… We’re in trouble…”
“I know, Ron. I’m trying to figure out how we can get past the tennis balls right now…”
“NO KP!” Ron shrilled, “We’ve got BIG problems!” He grabbed her by the shoulders and turned her around so she could see the Spinning Tops of Doom coming up from behind them at full speed.
“We could use some help here, Wade.”
“I told you Kim, all of those things are on independent circuits, I can’t hack into them, I’m sorry, but I’ve got nothing for you.”
“Look at the positives KP, what do we have?”
“Your luck, his brains and my Kung Fu skills against an army of independently controlled, ball-shooting robots and Spinning Tops of Doom…? We’re sunk! I mean… if we only had a wheelbarrow; that would be something…”
“What about a laundry cart?” Ron asked, pointing to a cloth covered bin under the bleachers.
“That’s no laundry cart…” Kim said excitedly, “That’s an equipment cart!”
“So… she’s standing there… in the middle of the gym… wearing a football helmet and hockey pads holding a lacrosse stick and a badminton racquet…”
Bonnie walked away from the room where Ron was retelling the details of his close escape with Kim for the third time since they had arrived at the party. He proudly displayed the fresh stitches on his thigh from where the Spinning Top of Doom had narrowly missed amputating his leg. Kim was standing near by being annoyingly self effacing as usual. Bonnie was miserable. When Kim wasn’t around, Ron was submissive and malleable. He never seemed to find motivation to do anything, just kind of coasted. Something about being around Kim energized him and gave him self confidence, made him whole, made him seem so alive. She had never been able to affect him like that.
She walked out of the party and hailed a cab.
Meet the New Chief, Same as the Old Chief
Title: Meet the New Chief, Same as the Old Chief
Wade whistled as he sat back and looked at the name on his screen. He had been right; the answer was there the whole time. He didn’t feel the satisfaction of knowing that he had cracked one of the most insidious plots of all time, instead he felt the cold chill of fear run down his spine. The stakes were higher than he had thought and there was a good possibility that he was in very real physical danger. He pondered his next move. If he stopped looking, they would know he had figured something out and they’d probably come down on him from all sides with deadly force. He’d seen what they were willing to do last year when they went after Kim. More than twenty people had been killed just because they were in the way, who knew how many more had been silenced that hadn’t made the nine o’clock news.
If it was a government agency, they would come after him within legal constraints using people and possibly hand weapons, he could avoid those. This group would just drop a bomb on his house and to hell with the neighborhood. They’d drop a bomb everywhere he might have a house. He created another ferret program and sent it out while carefully crafting two more that he could send out later. The next two programs were crucial, if he could write them correctly, he would throw off whoever was watching him and buy everyone some time. If his programs weren’t convincing, they’d be on him like a ton of bricks.
Maybe I’m just being paranoid, he thought to himself. Maybe I’ve been watching too many episodes of the X-files and I’m blowing it all out of proportion… It was possible that no one was tracking his movements through cyber-space. He hadn’t been able to find anything that indicated he was being monitored. Then he looked at the name on the screen again and realized he was probably under estimating the danger. It proclaimed their arrogance and absolute confidence. Last year’s attempt had not been about killing Kim, it had been a brilliant piece of misdirection. While nearly every government agency had been focused on Kim’s situation, the real culprit was infiltrating their systems, setting up for something big. The worst part was that she was inside the system now, and there was no way to alert anyone without her knowing.
He wondered if anyone else had figured it out but decided, without excess egoism, that no one else would be smart enough or motivated enough to do so. His problem now lay in the fact that he couldn’t tell anyone without giving away his knowledge. So he amused himself by figuring out who he would tell if he could figure out a way to tell them without getting everyone killed. It was a short list.
“Where to, Miss?”
Bonnie sat in the cab momentarily confused. She didn’t want to head back to the apartment, because she knew Ron would come there as soon as he noticed she was gone. She hoped Ron would head there when he noticed. Would he even notice? Of course he would. He was probably already looking for her. Or, he might be showing everyone his scar, again. She thought about waiting right there to see how long it took him to come outside looking for her, but realized immediately how pathetic that was. She allowed herself a small growl of irritation.
“What?” she retorted snappishly.
“Hey,” the cabbie said defensively, “It’s your dime, you wanna sit here all night and look at th’ pretty buildings, it’s fine by me…”
“Huh? Oh… Just head toward Lakeside, I need to make a phone call.” She dialed the number and waited. “Tara?” she said hopefully. “Hi, it’s Bonnie… Yeah, I know it’s late but… I’m fine… Could we meet somewhere…? Yeah, I know the place. See you in half an hour.” She hung up the phone. “Driver?”
“Wabash and Jackson, please.”
“You got it, Miss.” After a few minutes he spoke up again. “Do you think he’s worth it?”
“The guy that’s got you all messed-up… you think he’s worth it?”
“That’s a good question.”
Gemini removed his goggles and indicated to his henchmen that they could do likewise. The seals on the cloning tank opened with an impressive hiss and steam poured out into the room. Silhouetted in the tank’s open door was an impressive female figure. She strode out of the capsule with confidence and looked around at the laboratory. The henchmen averted their eyes from her naked form, she didn’t seem to notice. She nodded to Gemini with approval. “No disorientation this time.” She said, and then looked puzzled. “But there seems to be something missing…”
“Perhaps your clothing…?”
“Don’t be ridiculous!” she snapped. “I’m missing part of my… her… memories.”
“You didn’t think I was going to share everything with you, did you?”
Dr. Director emerged from the shadows, resplendent in her GJ uniform, and looked over the clone with her good eye. The clone stared back defiantly.
“Very good.” The uniformed Woman said crisply. “Get her a uniform and put her in with the others for orientation.”
“Aren’t you coming with us?”
The uniformed Dr. Director exchanged glances with Gemini. “Why would I do that?”
“Well,” the naked clone drawled, “Isn’t orientation for all clones?”
“She’s got you there, Sis.” Gemini laughed. He was very pleased. Each of the clones had recognized that their greeter was a clone right away, and none of them showed the initial grogginess that had plagued the first series. He would have to thank Dr. Drakken for his outstanding efforts. Perhaps he would have Epsilon clean the man’s cell tonight. Pi arrived with a clean uniform and an eye patch for his newest clone. “Excellent.” He chuckled. “Sis, Sis, please go to the east wing. Pi will show you your quarters and see to any needs you have.”
He picked up the phone and waited. There was a series of clicks and electronic background noises that went on for some time. Then a woman’s voice impatiently said, “What?”
“Phase three is complete.”
“Excellent.” She said, sounding pleased. “And the tests?”
“Exactly as predicted.”
“Who knew that conquering the world would be so easy?” She laughed dryly. “In three months they’ll be begging us to take over.” She laughed again, and this time, he joined her.
Ron looked around for Bonnie and didn’t see her right away. He began searching for her and found that the house was much bigger than he had originally thought. But after about fifteen minutes he realized she wasn’t there. He asked around and someone told him they thought they had seen Bonnie leaving about half an hour before. He went downstairs and got confirmation from the doorman. A woman matching her description had exited the building and got into a cab about thirty minutes before. He hailed a cab for himself while calling Bonnie’s apartment.
“Hey! Bonnie,” He said to her answering machine. “It’s the Ron-man…” that wouldn’t go over well. “Um… it’s Ron.” he continued in a more contrite tone of voice. “Hey, you left the party without telling me… I’m just calling to make sure you made it home… Um… Pick up… If you’re there… Hello…? OK… Well, if you get this, give me a call… Just so I know you’re OK… OK…?” He hung up and tried her cell phone, same result and basically the same message. He clung to the hope, no matter how ridiculous it seemed, that she had gone back to his place and would be there waiting for him when he got home.
She hadn’t and she wasn’t.
“That’s totally spankin’”
Shego glanced at Kim suspiciously, but the red head was serious. “You think it’s a good idea for me to work for a government spook?”
They were relaxing together in the Jacuzzi tub. Kim had come home late and bruised. She had gone out to rescue some high school kids and ended up fighting off state of the art killer robots with used athletic equipment. Shego had offered her a massage and snuggle in the tub. Partly because she had been a little worried and partly because she just wanted to see the little red head naked.
“You’re always so melodramatic, Shego.” Kim said dismissively. “Why do you have to say ‘government spook?’ why can’t you just say ‘NSA’ or ‘Special Agent Thomas?’”
It hit Shego like an icy breeze off Lake Michigan, Kim really trusted the government. Despite everything she heard on the news, all the crazy situations in the world and everything she had been put through by that idiot and his clones, Kim really believed that the G-men were out there fighting for ‘Truth, Justice and the be-damned American way.’ She wasn’t sure how to deal with that kind of youthful idealism but, there was a part of her mind that began calculating the advantages.
“Kitten,” she said hesitantly. “You know that these guys all have their own agendas, right? They’re going to use whatever tools they can get their hands on to accomplish whatever goals they have in mind.”
Kim giggled. “You’re too cynical.”
“You’re too trusting.”
Kim just giggled again and began singing the theme song to her favorite TV show. “Super teen extraordinaire…” Shego tuned out the words and just sat back drinking in the sight of her red haired paramour. The girl was always filled with life and energy when she came back from helping someone. Shego wondered if there was any way she would ever be able to take joy in the small things the way Kim did. At least she got to experience a small piece of it, because seeing Kim like this made her feel good. And as a bonus, when the red head came home all bubbly and full of fun, it often resulted in a round of very playful loving. Shego surprised Kim by picking up a line in the second verse, “Floyd the barber cuts his hair…” and was rewarded by Kim tickling her feet.
Soon they were both tickling, and tickling led to other kinds of touching and caressing but the giggly mood prevailed and when Kim intoned in her announcer’s voice, “And now, another episode of silly sex with Kim and Shego…” They both roared with laughter. The silliness gradually gave way to passion.
Later, as they lazed together on the couch, just enjoying being next to each other, Shego couldn’t get Kim’s remarks out of her head. The girl couldn’t really be that naïve, could she? And there was still that part of her mind that was coldly calculating how to use it to her advantage.
When Bonnie wound down, Tara reached across the table and laid a hand on her arm. “I’m not sure you want to hear this, but it sounds like he is trying to do right by you.”
“I know!” Bonnie said sorrowfully, “That’s why I feel like such a bitch! But when he’s with her…”
“Are you sure they aren’t doing it anymore?”
“Yeah,” Bonnie said, then continued with a sheepish smile, “you know she’s…”
“Yeah.” Tara suppressed a small shudder.
“…but that doesn’t help.” Her frustration was more evident now. “He’s so… alive when they’re together.”
They lapsed into silence for a few minutes. Then Tara asked, “Have you ever told him about the night you…?”
“You mean, Josh’s Party?”
“Yes.” The blonde replied with a grimace.
“He was there, he knows what happened…” Bonnie’s expression was dark.
“I’ll take that as a ‘no.’ And I’ll bet you ten dollars that he is completely unaware of what happened and why that night changed your life.”
“You think I should…”
“I’ll go one better than that. I think you have to tell him.” Tara looked anxious for a moment and continued quietly, “He should know that you were interested before he got the haircut and the clothes.”
“I’ll just sound so…”
“I was going to say ‘image conscious’ but, yeah.”
“That’s it right there!” Tara exclaimed. “That’s what I’m talking about. He’s probably worried that you only liked him because of how he changed and that’s why he acts differently around you.” She sat back triumphantly.
“Hmmm,” Bonnie said thoughtfully, “those psych classes are already paying off for you.”
“I think,” Tara hesitated and looked away for a moment, “you should take some time to get to know Kim better too.”
“Put your hostility on the back burner for one minute and think, Bonnie. If you can see what she does that makes him… however you like him, then maybe you can figure out how to do it for yourself.”
Bonnie sat back and sipped her coffee. She had a lot to think about.
Special Agent Thomas read the report very carefully. Eighteen hundred people blinded in Idaho and no one knew what had caused it. The medical examiners theorized that it was a neurological agent released into the town’s water supply but, so far, testing hadn’t revealed any such thing. All they had was half a town of suddenly blind people and an undercurrent of fear throughout the country. He looked through his notes and checked the projected time line; it was consistent with his fears. According to his calculations, the first attacks should have started about a week ago. He was pretty sure that electronic records would be monitored, so he went to the local library and began going through periodicals, trying to find a hint of an attack that had happened last week.
Eventually he found the story he was looking for. A rural community in South Dakota had suffered a bout of what seemed like food poisoning. The odd thing was that nearly everyone in the town was affected but there had not been any sort of community gathering. Of course a town suffering from food poisoning was a lot different that one suffering from blindness, but the pattern was the same. More than half the town suffering from the same illness and the local medicos on site had tested the water and air and everything else they could think of but hadn’t found anything suspicious. He needed to get the results of the South Dakota tests and put them next to the results from Idaho. No, he needed to get them compared by someone who knew what to look for, but who could he trust? And how could he get the information to them without her finding out?
On My Own
Title: On My Own
Shego sprawled in the big comfy chair and stared at the red head taking up most of the bed, she still wasn’t sure how the girl managed it. A laptop sat open on her thighs, with an urgent e-mail message from SA Thomas flashing on the screen. The coded message ordered her to meet the agent down at the lakefront near the aquarium. She tasted bitterness at the back of her throat and scowled at the softly snoring form on the bed. When had she become domesticated? A cute red head walks into her life and all of a sudden she’s a poster girl for the G-men and a house-wife for a hyperactive goody-two shoes? What the hell had happened to her over the last few months? What was she doing sharing a bed with a girl who was so naïve that she actually believed that Fox News was “fair and balanced?”
Shego sighed and rubbed her temples. She was living in an apartment supplied by the government, talking to government shrinks, doing government jobs… something was seriously wrong. What the hell are you, Kitten? She thought, what are you doing to me? She looked at the computer screen and read the message one more time before deliberately reaching out and deleting the file. She ignored the little voice in the back of her mind that was trying to tell her how much she enjoyed being here with Kim. She half tried to convince herself that she was stringing the innocent little kitten along and putting one over on the spooks, but she knew that argument was hollow before she even started.
The truth was that in a few short months, Kim had wormed into her heart and she was losing herself. She remembered three times in the last week when she had stopped doing something because Kim wouldn’t have liked it. Sighing softly, Shego rose and gathered her belongings. She sorted carefully and took only those things that she considered to be truly her own. She hesitated at one point over a pair of onyx earrings that Kim had given her. They did belong to her; Kim had bought them for her. But, if she took them, every time she saw them, she would be reminded of the enthusiastic red head. She set them aside for the moment, unsure of what she really wanted to do.
She stopped briefly at the laptop and typed in a command, and then she picked up her carryall and let herself out. The command erased all her files and formatted the drives. It also started a worm program to, once more, erase her public records from the internet. She would have to start over, again. She paused on the sidewalk as she exited the building to adjust to the low temperature outside. She told herself that it was the cold air stinging her eyes that caused them to water as she stalked off, alone, to reclaim her life.
SA Thomas finished verifying that the kid’s blackberry wasn’t emitting or receiving any signals and looked up at the young man sitting across from him. “Are you sure you weren’t followed?” He asked.
Wade grimaced, “I may not leave my room very often,” he said “But when I do, I assure you I am very much aware of my surroundings.” The computer genius was very uncomfortable being cut off from his network like this, but agent Thomas had insisted and Wade was sure the man had important information.
Thomas snorted and lit a cigarette. “There have been four attacks in the last three weeks.” He said softly. “No one has found anything out of the ordinary in the tests they’ve run, and so far, no one has put the attacks together.”
“Four? I only heard about two.”
The older agent handed a stack of papers to Wade.
“Paper? How quaint!”
“Don’t knock it young man, I keep all my records on paper or in my head.”
“There’s nothing wrong with keeping your files on a computer, the dangers are way overstated in the media…”
“What is my password for files pertaining to Shego?”
“Emerald Rogue.” The teen replied immediately.
Thomas nodded, “Hmmm, what time am I meeting the president tomorrow?”
“I don’t… You’re meeting the president?”
“You don’t know because I have it written down on a spiral notebook in my pocket. And I arranged the meeting without using one piece of electronic communication equipment.” The old man allowed himself a brief smile, “That’s why I keep my important notes on paper. Now, find the common link between those four events, without using your computer.”
“It would be a lot faster if I…”
“And it would also be a lot more public.”
Wade turned his attention to the stack of papers that SA Thomas had given him and went to work.
James Possible woke up with a sharp pain in his side.
“Jim, I heard a noise downstairs.”
“Probably one of the boys getting a late night snack, honey.”
“Maybe,” Anne didn’t sound convinced. “Could you check it out for me?”
“OK,” he said grumpily, “but you’re going to owe me big time.”
James walked down the hallway toward the kitchen blearily rubbing the sleep from his eyes, trying to suppress a yawn. The unmistakable sound of a gun being cocked brought him wide awake. He stopped moving and held up his open hands.
“Good boy!” a sinister voice floated to him from the darkness, “Looks like we got us a smart one. Knows what a gun sounds like and knows what to do when he hears it.”
“Whoever you are,” James said in a slightly loud tone of voice, hoping it would carry back to his wife in their bedroom, “I just want you to know that I’ve already called the police.”
“Nice try, Pops. I cut the phone lines.”
Anne heard his voice carry through the house and picked up the phone immediately but she didn’t have a dial tone. She tried frantically to remember where her cell phone was. It was charging on the sink in the bathroom, could she get to it without making enough noise to draw attention to herself? It didn’t matter; she had to call the police. She went into the bathroom as quietly as she could and searched around on the counter for her phone. She found it and picked it up but the cord caught something on the countertop and knocked over a bunch of her toiletries. The crash was loud enough that she was sure someone would come for her soon. She opened her phone and dialed “911” then hit the mute button and shoved the phone into a drawer just as the door to her bedroom burst open.
A masked man pointed a gun at her and asked in a harsh voice, “What are you doing in there?”
“Looking for my phone.” She said truthfully.
He pushed into the small bathroom and shoved her down onto the toilet. He shined his flashlight around and spotted a phone on the floor. “Its right here.” He said and laughed nastily. She tried not to show her relief that he had found James’ phone and hers was still in the drawer. It was fairly easy because the gunman grabbed her by the hair and dragged her into the kitchen where he pushed her onto the floor next to James. She held him and prayed silently that the twins were asleep and that they’d stay out of the way of these people, whoever they were. Then someone came into the kitchen and pointed a gun at her and pulled the trigger. She felt a pinch in her chest and James jumped up roaring, but someone hit him and the world slowly turned black.
“Come on, Wake up!”
“What time is it?”
“What the hell do you want at five in the morning…? Bonnie?” Ron was nonplussed.
“Hey, Ron...” She said quietly, in greeting. I need to tell you something important... She started to say but he interrupted her.
“I know,” she sighed. “I just told you that.”
“Where you’d go?”
“I needed some time to think. I went to see a friend.” I don’t know where to start.
“Who,” Ron asked scornfully, “Brick?”
“That is totally unfair, Ron Stoppable!” She felt her tension rise. One time, she met Brick for lunch and once she met him by accident and Ron wouldn’t let her live it down. He had sex with Kim, but she couldn’t meet Brick for lunch… Maybe if she just blurted it out… They were going to rape me.
“No,” he replied accusingly, “what’s unfair is you trying to make me choose between you and my best friend and then running off to Brick whenever I do something you think is stupid, which, according to you, is just about every day.”
“Well, you got that part right, you do something stupid just about everyday, sometimes more than once a day.” Fighting her tears she bit her lip, still willing herself to come out and say something. You saved me, Ron.
“I’m so glad you woke me up at four in the morning to tell me that.”
“That’s not why I came here... you st…” You stopped them from raping me.
“…stupid buffoon?” he finished spitefully for her. But the pain in his voice went through her like a knife and she fell back, open-mouthed, trying to find something to say. Trying to find some way to call back her words and start over from the beginning.
“Thank you so much for coming here in the middle of the night and waking me up to tell me how stupid I am and how much I messed up your life.” He ranted. “While you’re at it, why don’t you tell me how much of a loser I am, how low on the food chain I swim…” he got up and looked at her with false excitement, “Oh! And you can make fun of my ears! Maybe you could mock my choice of pets…” he continued, aware of the tears running down her face but unable to keep his disappointed rage bottled up inside any longer. He turned to look at her and Bonnie saw cruelty in his eyes, “Or…” his grin was almost maniacal, “you could tell me how bad my taste in women is.”
“You once told me that sometime, I would have to choose between you and Kim.”
Bonnie found her back against the wall and her legs slowly gave out on her. NO! I didn’t mean it! Don’t choose! She shook her head weakly and mouthed the words but no sound came out.
“I guess now is a good time.” He said woodenly and turned his back on her. “What’s up…? KP…?” Kim was crying.
Bonnie slid down the wall and settled in an untidy heap, still unable to speak. You saved me!
The phone woke Kim up.
She giggled tiredly at the thought of someone calling her ‘Ms.’ “Yes.” She responded and reached across the bed for Shego.
“My name is Agent Johnson of the FBI. I’m calling to inform you that your brothers have been kidnapped by unknown assailants and are currently missing.”
“What?” The bed was empty, where was Shego? “My brothers…”
“I’m very sorry to bring the news to you this way, Ms. Possible, but is there anyone you know who might hold a grudge against you, that would take this kind of action?”
“Shego…?” Kim looked around frantically.
“Did you say ‘Shego?’?”
“Yes,” she said hesitantly, “NO! Shego wouldn’t kidnap my brothers… she’s… just not here… OH… Jim and Tim…!” She was suddenly wide awake. “Someone’s kidnapped my brothers…? My parents…?”
“Are fine. The kidnappers knocked them out, but they’re recovering just fine. Ms. Possible, do you think this ‘Shego’ could be responsible for abducting your brothers?”
“No. But I have a lot of enemies…” her mind began racing through the list of possible suspects, while she mentally prepared a list of essential gear for a rescue mission. “I’ll have my computer guru coordinate with your office, and, agent Johnson… Tell my mom, I’m on my way.”
She picked up her Kimmunicator and activated it while she looked through the apartment. She noticed that several key items of Shego’s were missing. The onyx earrings that Kim had given her after their first date were sitting on the dresser next to Shego’s open laptop. The screen was black except for a dos prompt at the top left corner.
“SHEGO!” She called out but got no answer.
“Wade!” Her Kimmunicator was silent.
She staggered backwards until she tripped over the bed and sprawled on the floor. Wade; not answering… Shego; gone… Jim and Tim; kidnapped… Ron; Oh God! Ron!
She pushed his speed dial button, “Ron!”
“What’s up…? KP…?”
“RON! Oh! Thank god!” She gasped and began crying in relief. Ron was OK! “Ron, someone’s kidnapped my brothers. I can’t get a hold of Wade and Shego’s gone!”
“I’m on my way, KP.”
Ron threw on his mission clothes and grabbed his bag. He didn’t even glance at her as he walked by Bonnie sitting stunned on the floor. He just asked, “Are you still here?” But he didn’t look back or wait for an answer.
“You saved me.” She whispered. He didn’t hear her.
Wade shook his head and looked up at the agent sitting across from him. “If there’s anything tying these attacks together, I can’t find it like this. Face it; we just don’t have enough computing power.”
“I know they’re connected.” The older agent said tiredly. “My gut is telling me that something big is going on and this is the first step.”
“Yeah, you showed me your time lines and it all makes sense.” Wade looked over Thomas’ notes again. “This attack in Idaho…”
“Yes. Seventy-five percent of the population affected to some degree, sixty percent severely, the same percentages in California with the paralysis and in Kansas with the deafness. The only place the numbers are off is in South Dakota, where the ratio is nearly the same but the over all percentages are less.”
“So, they’re connected, but I can’t find out exactly how without some extra RAM.” Wade said in exasperation.
“Before you go off half cocked, I want to show you something.” Thomas pulled a paper with four photos on it out of a folder. “Look at these pictures.”
“Dr. Director or her clone in GJ lock-up last summer…”
“Hmmm,” the agent nodded, “look at the photos carefully, particularly the third and fourth.”
Wade picked up the sheet and studied the photos, first taking each one as an individual subject then glancing back and forth between them. “The woman in the fourth picture is a different one…” he concluded.
“You see that and I see that. According to GJ records, these four photos are all of the same woman; clone number three.”
Wade’s heart was beating very fast. Clone number three was the one that had gone after Kim in the hospital. “Where are the records?” He asked.
“I pulled them again a couple of months ago,” the agent said, handing over another set of hardcopies. “The discrepancy was not apparent.”
“That means someone in GJ switched the clones around in the cells and then changed the records…”
“That means that it wasn’t a clone who tried to kill Kim Possible.”
The Hand that feeds-
Title: The Hand that Feeds
The trip out from Go City was brief but full of tension. Neither of them was able to get a hold of Wade and Ron was vocal about how much he disliked the idea of riding in a GJ transport. Kim didn't have the heart to tell him that Betty Director herself was waiting for them at their destination. The FBI investigators had found evidence that suggested the Be-Bes had been involved in the kidnapping. That meant Dr. Drakken was a suspect and Dr. Director was the GJ agent with the most experience dealing with him.
Kim tried to calm Ron’s frayed nerves by explaining that an inquiry had shown that Dr. Director had been held prisoner by Gemini for two full years prior to everything that had gone down last summer and had proved she wasn’t involved in the “training program” that had messed up Kim’s mind and resulted in the deaths of eleven girls. But he was still convinced that the former head of GJ was evil and that somehow she had fooled or corrupted everybody on the investigating committee. So Kim just let it drop and relied on the knowledge that if she said she wanted to dig a hole to hell, Ron would probably go get her a shovel.
Kim exited the GJ jet and ran across the street to her parents with Ron and Rufus right behind. She lost herself for a moment in the comfort of her parents embrace, reassuring herself that they were OK. After a moment, she pulled Ron into the embrace as well and they all leaned on and drew strength from each other. But when Ron heard Dr. Director’s voice, he stiffened and spun around.
“What the hell is she doing here?” He snarled. Rufus gasped and dove into Ron’s deepest pocket.
In the stunned silence that followed, Kim put her hand on his shoulder and tried to calm him. “Ron…” she began
He shook off her hand and spun around to Kim’s parents. “How can you just stand here while that woman is walking around?”
“Ron,” Kim said quietly, but forcefully. “Look at me.”
He turned to her, fists clenched. He looked ready to snap.
“Thank you.” Kim said sincerely. “Thank you for sticking up for me.” She put her hands on his shoulders and looked directly into his eyes. “It means a lot to me that you’re willing to take on the entire world to protect me. But it wasn’t her. It was a clone controlled by someone else.”
“You’re really OK with this KP?” He was confused.
“Yeah, I trust her.”
“Well I don’t.” He turned his head and held up a hand, “Don’t say anything else, I won’t make any trouble, or cause a ruckus but I don’t trust her.” He spun to face the one eyed woman, “And if I even think you’re going to hurt Kim, I’ll kill you.” Rufus poked his head out and gave her a raspberry, before retreating once more to the safety of Ron’s deepest pocket.
Anne started to say something but James’ put his hand on her arm and shook his head.
“Thanks Ron.” Kim said pulling him into another hug. “You too, Rufus.” Ron’s vehement defense, brought tears of gratitude to her eyes. She composed herself and turned to Dr. Director and said, “Now, let’s go get the tweebs.”
“Perhaps we should reconsider the team…” Dr. Director began.
“Sounds good to me.” Ron replied enthusiastically. “You stay here, we’ll go get the tweebs...” he paused, looking over at the Drs. Possible, “Better yet… you go home, and we’ll go get...”
“I'm providing your transportation…”
“You’re not in charge of GJ anymore…”
“I’m in charge of this mission…”
“Kim, tell Dr. High and Mighty that…” Ron glanced over at Kim. She was looking pale, shaken and very angry. “KP…?”
“My brothers are missing and you two are sniping at each other like five year olds. If I hear one more word, I’m pushing you both out of the plane and going after Jim and Tim by myself.” She managed to finish her sentence before her tears started.
Ron was immediately contrite and rushed over to comfort her. Rufus popped out of his pocket and alternated between scolding Ron and comforting Kim, bringing a hesitant smile to her face.
“We’ve got the coordinates ma’am.” One of the GJ agents said to Dr. Director.
“Well, then. Let’s go!”
Gemini sat before the wide screen and watched as the young brunette took on eight assailants. She moved with strength and grace, never standing still, always turning her momentum into another evasion or attack. It took nearly fifteen minutes, but when it was over the woman stood in the middle of the room, victorious. She wasn’t even breathing hard.
“Have my sisters seen this video yet?” he asked the henchman standing nearby.
“Excellent.” He pet the rat dog in his lap for a few minutes and finally rose. “Inform Lisa that her hunt begins now and begin the media blitz.”
The hour long flight passed mostly in tense silence; with only the bare essentials of information being exchanged and that in terse sentences. Ron eyed everything Dr. Director handed them with suspicion and treated all information with disdain. For her part, Dr. Director seemed to be going out of her way to antagonize Ron by deliberately ignoring him and Kim’s frustration level was rising. She really wanted to chuck them out of the plane but thought she needed both of them to complete this rescue. There was room for eight on the Jet, so Kim, Ron and Dr. Director were accompanied by one GJ agent and four FBI agents. Apparently, Ron wasn’t the only one concerned about Dr. Director’s loyalties, a fact that he pointed out to Kim several times on the flight.
Free fall is a good place for reflection, and after exiting the plane, Kim took a few moments for herself. She reveled in the sensation of freedom that free fall granted her and concentrated on the warm feeling that Ron’s gallantry had provided. Ron was a true friend to her. Kim’s thoughts turned to Shego. Why had the pale woman abandoned her? Kim knew the thief was not planning to come back; she had taken all of her belongings. She spent several minutes agonizing about the pale thief’s abrupt departure but as the ground came up, Kim tried to push the feeling of insecurity aside and concentrate on calming herself for the upcoming mission.
They made their landing on the roof of the dockside warehouse. There was no way to keep from making noise so they all dropped their chutes immediately and prepared for the assault from below. They didn’t have to wait long, within fifteen seconds of touchdown, goons began pouring out of the roof accesses and the fight was on. Kim, Ron, Dr. Director and agent Johnson made their way to one of the access points while the GJ man and the other three FBI agents provided cover by occupying the forces on the roof. Kim tried to raise Wade one more time before they went in but still got no answer. After they recovered the tweebs, she would have to figure out where he was.
Rufus finished opening the lock and performed a back flip down to the ground and landed with a “Ta-Da!” Ron quickly gave the rodent a high five and opened his pocket so the little guy could climb back in.
“Let’s split up.” Dr. Director said. “Kim and I will...”
“No way!” Interrupted Ron.
“Uhn-uh!” Rufus chimed in, shaking his head.
“I stay with Kim.” Ron said forcefully, “You go with Johnson, and if he doesn’t come back in one piece, we’re going to...”
“Ron!” Kim stopped him.
“Whatever.” Dr. Director spat out. “Come on, Johnson.” And she dragged the FBI agent down the hall with her.
Kim wanted to tell Ron off for being so rude but she was moved again by his willingness to stand between her and the world. “Rufus!” She whispered. The naked mole rat popped his head out of Ron's pocket.
“Gawn?” he asked.
“Yeah, buddy. The scary, evil, bi...”
“Ron!” Kim hissed in exasperation.
“I mean, yeah. She's gone.”
“Rufus, I need you to try to find out where the tweebs are being held.”
The rodent stood at attention and threw her a jaunty salute before scampering off into the lair.
Ron looked around and rubbed his neck. “If I were Drakken, I'd put my control room over...” He looked down each passageway and finally pointed, “There!”
“Good choice. Let's go get him.”
Shego sat in the VIP lounge waiting for her flight to board. Monaco might not be the least expensive place to set up operations, but it had certain tax advantages that made it worth her while. It was also a good place to pass unnoticed; so many people there worked hard to stand out from their fellow the run of the mill billionaires that a person who wanted to stay in the background could do so easily. The attendant who brought her drink had red hair and she was reminded of Kim once more. Everywhere she looked, it seemed Kim popped up. She took it as a sign that she was doing the right thing.
She had left home at the age of thirteen, when her oldest brother tried to rope her into his hero gig. Mike and the twins had eaten it up hook line and sinker and Hector never understood why after only six months, she had turned her back on the whole thing. His condescending comments about “women's problems” and his insistence that she was weak because she didn't want to fight through the pain were probably the reasons why she had such a strong desire for independence. The one time she had tried to demonstrate the full impact of menstrual cramps to him, her mother had scolded her for not acting like a lady. Apparently, fighting criminals was allowable, because Hector wanted it, but twisting his testicles off to make a point wasn't “lady like.”
Shego's mother spent her days as a wife, never allowing herself to be her own woman. If being subservient to a man and his loutish offspring, playing the love sick fool and the doting mother while the men watched sports and ordered her around was being a lady, Shego wanted no part of it. She glanced at her reflection in the floor to ceiling windows of the lounge and snorted softly into her drink. The pale thief allowed her critical eye to rove over the reflection of her finely outfitted frame and spared a side glance at the all but slobbering men perched around the lounge trying to figure out how to approach her and win her favor. The smile she saw in her reflection was not a nice one, but it was dead sexy, and the first sacrificial lamb homed in on her and began his pitch. He was kind of cute and wasn't a red head, so she let him make his sales pitch. But her mind kept wandering back to the cute red haired attendant in the short skirt.
Kim and Ron sat in the Passenger compartment of the Jet trying to keep the recently freed twins from going into the cockpit and touching anything.
“Does any of this strike you as odd, KP?”
“You mean, college kids flying around the world in supersonic jets saving genius twin brothers from evil mad scientists? Or was there something really bizarre you had in mind?”
“Well...” he started hesitantly, “Drakken was kind of... subdued, doncha' think?”
“Now that you mention it, it was awfully quiet in there during the fight.”
“And he didn't threaten the tweebs, just took 'em and threw 'em in that closet... You know how much he likes to rant.”
She thought back to the fight. There had been eight henchmen, fairly well trained. Drakken's goons were usually pathetic and he almost always kept up a running commentary about his latest doomsday thingy. For some reason she had been expecting a much tougher fight and she couldn't quite put her finger on it right now, but even though the goons were better trained than normal, the fight had been almost too easy. Something was missing...
“Go on...” said an intrigued Kim.
“And that cloning stuff they found in the next room... I don't think it was even hooked up, it was just kind of sitting there.”
“What are you saying?”
“I think it was a set up, Kim.”
“You're not back on this again, are you?” Kim looked at him angrily. “She helped us find the tweebs. She helped us save the tweebs. Drakken is in the custody of GJ...” at Ron's skeptical expression, she let out a frustrated sigh. “She's not evil, Ron.”
“I'm not listening to this anymore.” Kim practically yelled. “Get over it!” But he had planted the seed of doubt in her mind. If only she could contact Wade and have him crunch the data for her. She tried to raise him one more time but still got no answer. It had been more than six hours since she had tried to contact him and still nothing. She was really worried. What if Ron was right and there was some massive global conspiracy that she was caught up in but couldn't see? She looked over at him and watched him spin around trying to grab the loose strap of his back pack looking like a dog trying to catch its tail. She must be tired, if she was entertaining one of his hair-brained X-files induced conspiracy fantasies. Still, there had been something missing at Drakken's lair. If she could just think for a moment...
But she wasn't given a chance. Jim and Tim finally figured out how to open the weapons storage locker and she had her hands full preventing them from blowing up the jet and everyone inside of it.
A brown haired woman wearing a GJ uniform and an eye patch walked into the room where Gemini was watching GNN.
“...ports from across the country confirm at least four terrorist attacks in small towns ranging from northern California to Kansas. Entire communities blinded, or otherwise struck down by an unknown biological agent and government agencies have no information about who is behind it all. We go live now to Fran Banning in Washington... Fran?”
“I'm here, Bob.”
“What can you tell us about these attacks?”
“Well, Bob, only that there have been at least four. California, Idaho, South Dakota and Kansas have all had at least one attack each and the authorities are trying to coordinate with law enforcement agencies around the country to confirm or deny...”
“Let me break in here, Fran. Does any one know who is responsible for the attacks?”
“Nobody seems to know that Bob. And if anyone does know, they're not telling the press.”
“Well, do they know what kind of Biological agent was used?”
“Again, either they don't know or they just won't tell us.”
“I've seen enough. Turn it off.” he stroked Pepe for a moment then asked, “What do you think?”
“Perfect!” came the reply. “We'll strike two cities each week for the three weeks and they'll be begging us to rule them by the end of the month.”
“Is in motion as we speak.” She started to chuckle and he joined her. Soon they were both laughing; it wasn't a pleasant sort of laughter. When they wound down, she spoke to the henchman waiting nearby. “Dispose of the trash I brought in.” As he left, they started laughing again.
Chapter 6- On the Prowl
Title: On the Prowl
Wade pushed himself back from the table and wished for the millionth time that he was in his room at home. He could access the internet from here but he wasn’t hooked into his own system. It was kind of like wearing someone else’s shoes, sure they get the job done but it isn’t comfortable. The latest data that his ferrets had unearthed showed that his decision not to return home had been the correct one, whoever was behind this thing was after him with a vengeance. For the last ten days his automated systems had been maintaining a slowly losing battle with a hacker who was determined to get in. Had he taken direct control he could have easily repelled the intruder but it would probably have revealed his current location. So he contented himself with his secondary access points and made sure that nothing linking him to his main system got out. Unfortunately, that meant he had to be out of communications with Kim and Ron.
There had been three more attacks since he had met with the taciturn NSA man, and the people of the country were in an uproar. The latest incident had inflicted amnesia on three quarters of the population of Las Vegas. Demonstrations were being held across the nation calling for the government to do something about the terrorist attacks. Already, many in congress were calling for the military to be deployed on home soil for the protection of the citizens. Exactly how the military was going to protect everyone was not revealed, but with each unsolved incident, the panic increased and the country’s leaders wanted to be seen doing something, even if it was an empty gesture.
He pulled a pen and a piece of lined paper from the drawer in front of him and began composing a note to agent Thomas. It was in code, but the gist of it was an outline of which senators and congressmen were voting to put control with which agency. Anyone pushing for handing control over to Global Justice was suspect in his eyes and needed to be carefully monitored. After he finished the note, Wade contemplated the message he was composing for Kim. He would only have one chance to communicate with her electronically so he wanted it to be perfect, but he was distracted by a surprising bit of data that turned up about Shego. He decided to take a chance and send a paper note to Kim, it couldn’t be comprehensive, but he could at least give her the name. Later, when he was ready to break cover, he would tell her everything.
There was nothing to distinguish the woman from any of the other hundred or so passengers that exited the plane at the O’Hair airport. She wasn’t particularly tall or strikingly beautiful, nor was she hideously deformed. There was no ominous music that followed her through the terminal as she paused with the other passengers to check which carrousel she should collect her luggage from. Instead of tight leather pants, a black singlet, high top combat boots and an intimidating trench-coat, her attire was casual; slacks, loafers and a baggy sweater. She wasn’t even wearing sun glasses. Nothing about her appearance or manner suggested that she was a deadly assassin here in Go City on a mission to kill one person and kidnap another.
The cabbie who took her to her hotel promptly forgot about her. She was just one of dozens of people who passed through his cab that day, nothing to distinguish her, nothing to point at and say, “That was odd.” The doorman, concierge and bellhop all interacted with her without picking up the slightest hint of her malevolent intentions or even registering her in their memory. Even the off duty police officer she shared an elevator ride with dismissed her from his mind as soon as she exited. Being glamorous might be hard work, but being completely forgettable was nearly impossible. She pulled it off without breaking a sweat.
Safely locked into her hotel room, she went to work. From concealed pockets inside her luggage, she removed the components she needed to hook into the hotel’s wireless servers anonymously. Flexible monitor screens and a projection keyboard joined the electronic components arranged in the small briefcase on the coffee table. Satisfied with the set-up, she logged on and sent a signal to her client. Then she closed the briefcase and prepared to rest. It had been a long flight and Lisa Chairman wanted to be at her peak when she went after Kim Possible.
“He’s not here Bonnie.” Kim said acerbically. She really resented the interruption. With both Wade and Shego missing, she was working hard on trying to figure out if their simultaneous disappearance was connected or coincidental. She couldn’t keep herself from hoping that the pale woman had returned and even though she was almost certain it would not be Shego at the door, the sight of Bonnie’s face made the interruption and the let down even more painful.
“I know.” The response was so contrite and heartfelt, Kim did a double take. Was it really Bonnie? “Can I come in?”
Kim was so shocked by the tone and the request that she just stood there, flabbergasted.
“Please?” Bonnie added quietly.
Kim shook off her surprise and motioned for her to come in. As she followed Bonnie into the living room, Kim’s wariness reasserted itself. “Why are you here?” she asked bluntly.
“I need to tell Ron something…”
“He’s not here.” Kim snapped and immediately regretted it. The haunted look in her former rival’s eyes touched her. “I’m sorry.” She said. “Come into the kitchen and let me get you a cup of tea.”
Kim busied herself with the kettle and mugs for a few minutes, giving Bonnie time to collect herself. “What do you need to tell Ron?” she asked when everything was ready.
“I need to tell him about the time he saved my life.” She said softly.
Kim was confused. “From the Be-bes?” she asked. Something clicked in her mind. If the Be-bes had been involved in kidnapping her brothers, why weren’t they at Drakken’s lair? She filed it away for future reference and turned her attention back to Bonnie.
“No, before that… in eighth grade…” She dropped her hands into her lap and looked down at them. “I tried to tell him about it a couple of weeks ago, but it didn’t come out right…”
“Was that when you woke him up in the middle of the night to tell him how stupid he was?” Kim couldn’t entirely suppress her smirk.
“It didn’t come out right!” Bonnie wailed. “I tried to tell him about… about… about something important… and it didn’t come out right.” She continued sobbing. “The words… got all messed up and he… didn’t understand. Everything I said just came out wrong and he was so mad… now he won’t talk to me at all.”
The doorbell rang, interrupting Kim’s thought. “Just a minute Bonnie, let me see who’s at the door.” She left the table and checked through the peephole. It was a courier. “Can I help you?” She asked through the closed door.
“Letter for Miss Kim Possible.”
Kim left the security chain in place and opened the door a few inches. She accepted the envelope and signed for it, tipping the courier a few dollars. She examined the envelope as she went back into the kitchen. There was no return address, and her name was printed on the front in large block letters. It looked like someone had used a stencil to form the letters. It wasn’t sealed; inside was a three by five card with four names written in the same style:
Lisa Chairman Betty Director
Electra King Lady Tremaine
She recognized the first name; it belonged to the missing girl from the program. And of course she knew who Betty Director was, but the other two were a mystery to her. She handed the card to Bonnie as she sat back down. “Do you recognize either of those bottom names?”
The brunette looked at the card and replied, “No, but the second one sounds familiar. Who sent you this?”
“No idea. It came by courier and there is no return address.” She handed the envelope to Bonnie and sighed. “This is one of those times when I really miss Wade.”
Bonnie looked at her with a puzzled expression, “Can’t you just beep him from anywhere?”
“He hasn’t answered my calls since the day…” Shego left me. “Uhm… since Ron and I went to rescue the twins…” She looked at Bonnie awkwardly, “I think that’s the same day you and Ron…”
“Yes.” Bonnie said sorrowfully.
Kim sighed inwardly; it didn’t matter if Bonnie was a pain in her side. She couldn’t stand to see anyone in distress. “Look, you can tell me what you want to tell Ron and I’ll make sure he hears it.”
Bonnie’s head came up and her eyes were briefly filled with hope but her suspicious nature kicked in almost immediately and her expression became guarded. “Why would you help me? You don’t even like me.”
And whose fault is that? Kim bit off the retort and sighed again. “You’re right, we’re not friends, but we both care about Ron. I’m not so blind that I can’t tell that you really like him, even if you treat me like a wicked stepmother.” She smiled conspiratorially, “Besides, he’s been miserable for the last week and it’s starting to bring me down. The whole time we were fighting Frugal Lucre this weekend, he was moping around, couldn’t get his head in the game.”
“Really?” Bonnie asked hopefully.
“Really.” Kim confirmed. “Now, tell me…” but she was interrupted by the doorbell again. “Who is it?” she yelled as she got up.
“Betty Director.” Came the muffled reply.
Both girls glanced at the card and then back at each other. Kim motioned for Bonnie to hide the card while she went to answer the door. She verified it was Dr. Director through the peephole and began to open the door when the wrongness hit her. The woman in the hallway was wearing a patch over her left eye. Kim tried to slam the door shut but the imposter already had her foot in the way. She threw her weight against the door trying to close it but the woman outweighed her and was slowly pushing her back into her house.
“Bonnie!” She screamed, “Call 9-1-1!”
The imposter put on a burst of strength and threw the door open knocking Kim painfully against the wall. The fake GJ agent gave Kim a moment to recover by removing her eye-patch entirely before rushing Kim, but she was still on the defensive and the woman’s superior reach was making it tough for the red head in the close confines of the apartment entryway.
“The phone is dead!” Bonnie screamed from the kitchen, prompting a feral grin from the intruder. Still fighting defensively, Kim drew the woman into the main living room. It was fairly large and gave her more room to maneuver. It also meant that Bonnie had an unobstructed path out of the apartment. As soon as they were both in the room, Kim went on the offensive with a Shaolin Chuan attack, alternating between hand and foot strikes. When she had forced the imposter away from the main entrance she shouted, “GET OUT OF HERE BONNIE! RIGHT NOW! RUN!” And turned her full attention to her opponent.
The fake Dr. Director’s eyes flicked toward the kitchen for a second but Kim pressed her attack and forced the woman to pay close attention to her. With a little more room to move around in, Kim found herself with the advantage. She concluded that she was facing a clone or a syntho-drone. Its skill level did not match her own but she refused to let her guard down or even let up on her attacks. She was able to push it into the sharp edge of the coffee table and noted that the thin scratch dripping blood from her leg meant she was a clone or a double. Had she been a syntho-drone, the living room would be covered in goo and there would be an empty skin suit draped across the floor.
Within minutes, Kim had the imposter at bay. Trapped in a corner of the large room and frantically looking to escape. She was wondering how to capture the woman without breaking any more of her furniture when she heard the sound of sirens from the street below. “Sounds like your ride is here.” She taunted the woman who crouched defensively, eyes darting around trying to find an escape route.
“What do we have here?”
Kim heard Dr. Director’s voice from behind her and cart wheeled across the room attacking the second intruder with a propeller kick to the head and followed through with a series of uppercuts to the body that lifted the surprised woman off the floor. Kim stopped her attack when she noticed several police officers and GJ agents entering the room with their guns out. Two of the guns were pointed directly at her.
“Put your hands up and back away.”
Kim raised her hands and backed away.
“It’s O.K.” Said Dr. Director from the floor. She stood slowly and motioned to the imposter still in the opposite corner. “I think we can chalk it up to self defense.” She rubbed the right side of her face and looked over at Kim who was staring at her suspiciously. “It’s really me Kim. Your friend called 9-1-1 and told them I was attacking you. Naturally they contacted Global Justice and we responded with the police.” Bonnie entered the room with a Go City policeman and waved her cell phone at Kim.
“Sorry about the… you know… attacking you.” Kim said contritely.
“No need to apologize for that, it was a good attack.”
“What are you going to do about…?” Kim indicated the woman currently being cuffed by the GJ agents.
“I Think I’m going to go have a talk with my big brother.” The one eyed woman’s tone indicated that something more than talking would probably occur. “This is getting old.”
Shego examined the picture frame carefully. She was certain that there was more to the security system than met the eye, even an eye as discerning as her’s. She was not disappointed. Two magnets attached to the back of the frame were most likely activating proximity switches buried in the walls. Remove the painting and the magnet would move away from the sensor, setting off the alarm. A good system would have polarized switches; that meant that she had, at best, a fifty/fifty chance of getting a replacement magnet oriented correctly. The magnets were also countersunk into the frame; she couldn’t pry them out without removing the frame from the wall. For the first time in two weeks, Shego smiled. This was going to be fun!
Placing her hand flat against the wall, Shego ignited it and began directing heat into the wall cavity. After a few minutes, she stopped and pulled an infrared imager out of her pouch and pointed it at the area she had just been warming. The heat dissipated quickly from the air pocket inside the wall but lingered in the junction boxes and electrical wires of the security system. Creating a tight beam of plasma, she cut a fist sized hole, next to the box containing the wires that went to the proximity sensors behind the picture frame, then reached into the box and bypassed the switches. Working quickly and carefully, she removed the picture from the frame and returned the frame to its position on the wall. She then reset the wiring to the proximity sensors and patched the hole in the wall.
She was sneaking past the security station when the beta unit in her pouch started beeping.
Blast from the past
Title: Blast from the Past
[Author's notes: James Bond is the brainchild of Ian Fleming and might be the property of Sony Pictures, MGM, EON, Universal Pictures or possibly some guy named Kevin McClory. Apparently no one knows for sure, but he certainly isn’t mine.]
Shego stopped outside the door to her flat and tried to figure out what felt wrong. She still hadn’t decided if she was going to pull off Wade’s finger nails or cut his Achilles’ tendons when she saw him next. His impromptu activation of the beta unit had alerted the guards to her presence at the museum and one of them had landed a glancing blow to the back of her head with a baton before she could knock him out. It hurt like hell and she wanted to share that pain with the person she believed was responsible. Right now, there was something wrong with her flat and the pain was making it difficult for her to concentrate on what it was.
She went through a quick meditation routine and cleared her mind. Concentrating on her surroundings, she focused on each thing individually for a second and sorted them into right or wrong feelings. There was no music. The couple, who rented the flat next door to her, always had the stereo playing. Day, night, home or away, there was music coming from their flat at all times, but now, the hallway was silent. Shego pulled out her pick set and went to their door but her picks were not required, it was slightly ajar. Slowly she opened it and slipped inside. In the living room she found the bodies of the young couple who lived there. A quick glance around showed evidence of a struggle but something else caught her eye.
Burn marks. Hand shaped burn marks on the furniture and walls. She was being set up. The pale woman headed for the door but hesitated when she heard voices in the hallway. It was another neighbor, speaking to the police about a disturbance. Shego left by way of the balcony. She hopped over the railing and controlled her fall by catching the rail at each floor on the way down. When she reached the street she walked away casually, heading for the bolt hole where she had stashed the painting. As she walked down the street, she pulled out the beta unit and looked at Wade’s message. "Do not return to your apartment, someone is trying to frame you for murder." Thanks for the warning. She thought wryly.
“Hold it right there!” She was almost to the corner when the unwelcome sound of Dr. Director’s voice stopped Shego in her tracks.
Someone sat down and looked across the table from him. Without looking up special agent Thomas said “Hello Betty.”
“Hi Jim.” She replied with insincere cordiality. “We have a rather thorny problem over at GJ, and I was wondering if you would be so kind as to swing by and help us out.”
“You couldn’t call?”
“Oh, agent Thomas, you are quite funny.”
Her forced joviality was starting to get on his nerves but he didn’t allow any of his rancor to show in his expression. He looked at the four agents she had brought with her. “Did you think I was going to resist?” he asked placidly.
“Well, you never know when an old man’s heart is going to give out.” She said, allowing the malice she was feeling to come out for the first time since she had sat down. She placed her hand on his arm and the auto injector she was palming stabbed him. He sagged in his chair but the agents smoothly stepped in to catch him before he fell. Two of them walked him out of the restaurant while the others gathered up his notes and personal items.
Dr. Director flashed her badge at the manager as he walked over to them and he held the door open for them as they left.
Wade watched the debates in the House and the Senate with growing dread. The leaders of his country were going to declare martial law. The worst thing about it was that no one was protesting. There was no voice of reason speaking up to prevent the subjugation of the free people of the United States. The leaders of the nation were debating away the people’s freedom and instead of facing an armed revolt, they were being hailed as heroes. The computer guru knew he only had a few days left. First, he checked on his mom, she was doing just fine in New Zealand.
Wade checked over his list of assets and concluded he would be able to get a dozen people out of the country. More if they went only as far as Mexico or Canada but judging from the news feeds out of those countries, they wouldn’t be much safer than the US soon. Mexico was a better choice because it was easier to get in and out of. Canada was a dead end. He could get a dozen people off the continent and maybe twenty more out of the country. By this time next week, congress would be handing over control of the country to the military and from there he figured it was a short step to Global Justice running the whole show. The sooner he started moving, the more people he could get out.
He arranged his notebooks on his desk and went over his moves one more time. He estimated that from the time he logged on he would have eight hours before they located him and less than thirty minutes after that until armed troops arrived. He hoped that his ride could get here in that time. It all depended on where she was in the world. He took a deep breath, connected to his home system and went to work.
Bonnie opened the door and looked at Ron. She felt as nervous as she could ever remember feeling. She couldn’t find her voice, so she just motioned him inside. He hesitated for a moment and she thought he might just turn around and leave; but he did walk in, pointedly not making contact with her as he went by. The action infuriated her and she spun around to give him a piece of her mind but their last conversation flashed through her mind and she quickly controlled her impulse. I guess all those times I had to bite my tongue when my sisters were teasing me has paid off, she thought.
When Bonnie opened the door, Ron’s first thought was that she looked scared. He didn’t remember Bonnie ever looking scared before. She usually just looked mad, usually at him. Then she waved him inside like a servant boy and he almost walked away. If it hadn’t been for Kim telling him that Bonnie needed to talk to him, He would have been just fine letting her go her own way. He walked inside making sure he didn’t accidentally touch her and set off one of her tirades. The only reason I came here was because Kim wanted me to, he thought. He didn’t say it out loud because Kim had also told him to be nice, and he was pretty sure if he brought Kim up it would piss Bonnie off. He stopped in the living room and turned to face her.
“Can I get you something to drink? I’ve got…”
“I’m fine.” He said abruptly
“Do you want to sit…?”
“I’m fine.” He said again with the same tone and inflection.
Again, she found herself at a loss for words. He certainly wasn’t making this any easier. He was just standing there with his arms crossed; looking at her defiantly, as if the only reason he was here was because Kim had asked him to come. Oh, my god! She thought. The only reason he’s here is because she asked him! She felt her anger and frustration rising and she wondered why she was even bothering to explain herself to him when it was obvious that the only thing he cared about was Kim.
“Well?” he demanded. He had been standing in her living room for several minutes and she was just looking at him, like she expected him to apologize or something. He didn’t know why Kim thought this was important but he knew he wasn’t going to bow and scrape before the great goddess Bonnie. She might be pretty and surprisingly sweet one on one, but that didn’t make up for her public bitchiness or her constant slams on his best friend. When she didn’t respond he just shook his head and started to leave. “I knew this was a bad idea.” He muttered.
“Ron, stop.” Even to her own ears, she sounded arrogant and demanding. She saw his back stiffen and could tell he was getting ready to dress her down again. She quickly blurted out, “Why did you come here?”
“That’s a good question.” He said sarcastically.
Bonnie closed her eyes and forced her voice to be even and calm. “Honestly, Ron. Why did you come here?”
“Yes.” Her eyes were still closed.
He studied her for a moment. She was standing stiffly with her hands clenched at her sides. Her eyes were shut tightly and she looked like she was expecting him to hit her. “Because Kim asked me to.” He said cautiously.
He half expected her to explode in anger but she just flinched a little and asked, “Do you think she might have had a good reason?” Conceding that Kim had more influence on Ron than she did wasn’t nearly as painful as she thought it would be. After all, they had been friends since pre-K and had saved the world together who knew how many times. It made perfect sense that the boy would place Kim’s opinion high on his list. Still, Bonnie was surprised at how easy it was to concede something to the red head.
Ron was stunned. Why had KP told him to come here? She had said that Bonnie needed to tell him something important, but she didn’t say what it was. Kim telling him to go see Bonnie was confusing enough, for Bonnie to be saying that Kim might be right was even more confusing. His tired mind couldn’t take much of this sort of thing, best to just go with the flow and let his essential Ronness sort it all out. “So…” he said hesitatingly, “You have to tell me something…?”
“Yes.” She breathed a sigh of relief.
“So… I should sit down…?”
“And… I… should… have something to drink…?”
“Yes.” I can do this, she thought. “I’ve got…”
Ron sat in awe at the string of invectives that came from Bonnie’s mouth. He wasn’t sure what half of the English words meant and he certainly hadn’t known that Bonnie was able to curse in so many languages. He was alert enough that when she paused to take a deep breath, he activated the record function on his Kimmunicator and continued to listen in bewildered admiration. Bonnie was just getting warmed up.
Kim left the hospital feeling pretty good. The latest tests had shown a result that the doctors believed they could use to help her fellow surviving victims recover. Apparently she had been exposed to a peculiar type of radiation that might be the key to the success of her operation. Everyone was very excited about the possibilities and a test on the other girls was going to commence tomorrow. She started to call Ron and share the good news with him when she saw someone she recognized standing next to her motorcycle.
“Lisa..?” She asked. “Lisa Chairman?”
Even if Kim had not fought with a Betty Director clone two days ago, she would have noticed the physical resemblance, but the voice would have been a dead give away. The red head stopped about fifteen feet away from the brunette and glanced around warily.
“Where have you been for the last three years?” Kim asked casually, sliding her backpack down to the ground. “We’ve been worried.” She tried to keep her voice calm and level.
“Oh, here and there.” Hearing Dr. Director’s voice come from a young woman her own age was creeping Kim out. The brown haired woman was standing still but her eyes were intense on Kim, missing nothing.
“I don’t suppose you know who ‘Lady Tremaine’ is, do you?” Kim composed herself in a cautious posture, ready to attack or defend without hesitation.
“I’m afraid not, Kim.” Her voice was casual but her body language matched Kim’s
“How about ‘Electra King’?”
Lisa looked puzzled, “The Bond girl?”
“Bond girl… like James Bond?”
“Yeah, Electra King was a kidnap victim that ended up working with the bad guys in ‘The World Is Not Enough.’”
The light went on in Kim’s brain. “What about you, Lisa? Are you working with the bad guys?”
The brunette chuckled genuinely. “You never grew up, did you? Bad guys? Good guys? There’s no such thing as good or bad, Kim. There is only power and weakness.” She began an oblique advance toward Kim.
“What about your mom? Where does she fit in to all of this?” Kim asked as she circled to her left.
“My mom?” Lisa looked puzzled again.
“Yeah, your mom.” Kim said accusingly, “I should have known you were Dr. Director’s daughter from the beginning.”
“My mom…?” Lisa burst out laughing. “You think she’s…” She broke off when she noticed a large group of people coming into the parking lot. Shift change had started and crowds of nurses and doctors were entering the parking structure. The brown haired woman scowled. She relaxed her stance and said, “We’ll meet again soon, Kim.” Then turned on her heel and disappeared into the throng.
“Go, Ron…” Kim couldn’t believe her eyes. “Wade…? Where have you...?”
“No time for questions or answers.” Wade said abruptly. “You have to be at Pier Nineteen in thirty minutes.” Kim looked at him for a moment. There was usually a certain amount of playfulness in Wade’s face, but today he had on what Ron referred to as a “Serious face” and so instead of asking the thousands of questions that came to mind, she just nodded and ran to her bike. The warf was far enough away that making it there in thirty minutes was going to be tough.
Wade looked at his screen in alarm. He had estimated eight hours for them to locate him but only three had passed and they were already getting close. He was going to have to leave within the next hour or he might not be able to leave at all. He checked Sadie’s location; she was still two hours out. If he left now, they would take twice as long to find this location because there wouldn’t be any activity and he could get quite a distance on foot in the next two hours. On the other hand, there were still several people who he wanted to get out of the country and if he left now they would be stranded. He would give it another half hour here, and then arrange to meet Sadie somewhere else. Maybe he could stick it out for forty five minutes and still get away. He typed furiously.
[End notes: Next Time:
Title: Decoder Ring
“You really think you can take me down?” Shego asked calmly. She surreptitiously checked her escape routes and found them covered by GJ agents. She was a little surprised that there was no sign of the Prince's Carabiniers around but figured it meant that the woman in front of her was hoping to avoid the complications and paperwork that came with local government involvement. Glancing around at the ever-present street monitoring cameras, the pale woman wondered how GJ was going to explain this to the French. She had to be very careful not to damage anything more than necessary, she also made a mental note to swing by the police station at her earliest convenience and have them return the squeeze she had paid out. She moved into a defensive stance and started running scenarios in her head. There was no way she was going to let the woman take her into custody.
“I almost had you in the hospital room.” The one-eyed woman snarled. “If that incompetent fool hadn’t picked up the gun when he did, you’d be dead along with your little red haired slut.”
Shego digested the information the woman had just given her. If the woman at the hospital had been a clone, there was no way whoever was standing in front of her right now could know about the details of that fight. Still, the woman obviously expected that statement to goad Shego into an attack, so the pale thief obliged even though it hadn’t enraged her. After their first exchange, Shego knew the woman she was facing was not the equal of the woman she had fought in the hospital; her timing was off and her movements were stiff and stilted. As they closed once again, Shego raked the claws of her glove across the woman’s abdomen. The woman screamed in pain and frustration and most of the agents raised their firearms. Shego made a careful note of which ones were slow on the up take.
“Not yet!” the brown haired woman hissed at her underlings. Noticing the smirk on Shego’s face, she continued, “But if I hit the ground… Shoot her!”
The blood oozing from the woman’s stomach showed she wasn’t a Syntho-drone. The pale thief kept her attacker at bay, landing punches that were hard enough to crack bones but delivered in a way that the one-eyed woman kept her balance; each time she rocked the woman back, Shego noted which agents were reacting quickly. Even though the woman obviously lacked the speed and skill of the original Dr. Director, the ego was still there. Shego concluded that it had to be a clone.
“The real Betty Director got her ass kicked when she faced me.” She taunted, dodging a kick. “What makes you think an impostor has a chance?” She stopped next to a man-hole cover.
“You got lucky!” The woman growled, swinging wildly.
Shego caught the woman’s wrist in her left hand and twisted it, forcing her off balance. “Do you remember it?” she whispered. “Did the cloning process give you the memory of how I humiliated you? Do you remember how I kicked your sorry ass out of the window?” She drove her knee into the woman’s solar plexus. Gasping the brown haired woman tried to speak but Shego grabbed her by the throat and brought their faces close together. She lit her free hand. “Does it feel familiar? It should, clone.” The pale thief drew back as if to strike the gasping duplicate but surprised everyone by pulling the brown haired woman after her and swinging her around to fling her forcefully toward the most alert gunman while melting the man-hole cover they were fighting near with a plasma burst. She heard automatic gun fire and an anguished scream of pain as she dropped into the sewer. It was a ten meter drop and she slowed her descent by grasping the outside of the ladder. When she hit the bottom, she let fly another plasma burst up the shaft she had just come down, a large but relatively cool ball that quickly expanded when it reached the street level. That should slow the pursuit a bit. She thought and headed for the marina.
Kim pulled up to the Pier Nineteen dock house. There was a chain across the entrance and a closed sign in the window of the Go City Bay Tours company building. Before she could pull out her Kimmunicator, a young man wearing a tour guide uniform came out and asked, “Are you Kim Possible?”
“Yes, Wade said...”
He held up a hand and smiled at her, “No need to go into detail, you're at the right place. You made it with several minutes to spare.” he unhooked one side of the chain, “Go ahead and board with the others.” He stopped her from dismounting. “Bring your bike too.”
Others? She thought. What others? This was starting to get really mysterious. In the back of her mind, she thought about the time that Drakken had overshadowed Wade's system and got her to steal Dementor's teleportation device for him. And she was wondering if something like that was going on now, but when she got to the ferry, she saw Ron and Bonnie standing together near the railing by a ruggedly handsome middle aged man with long blonde hair and an eye-patch. Rufus was standing on Ron’s shoulder eating a cheese puff.
“KP!” Ron greeted her, “Captain Ron was just telling us how you saved him from getting capsized by the Nimitz!”
“Well, if he had been paying attention to where he was going instead of trying to impress the ladies, he wouldn't have needed my help in the first place.” Kim replied teasingly.
“They usually get out of your way...” Captain Ron began slyly.
“Yeah,” Kim interrupted him, “If you're driving the Saratoga!” And they shared a laugh.
“Well, I've gotta go pretend to drive this thing... Don't know where the other passenger is, but we got a schedule to keep.” The rakish captain turned to a crewman standing nearby. “Tell the boys to get us underway, we've got places to go and people to meet. Miss Possible, it's good to see you again. Rufus, m’lad, help yourself to anything you want from the snack machines.” And with a wink and a slight bow, he turned away to see to the running of his boat.
Kim turned to a nearby crewman, “Where are the other passengers?”
“There are only you three and someone who isn't here yet. A woman named 'Monique' was also supposed to join us.”
The three friends exchanged glances while the crewmen went about the business of getting the ferry underway. They were just starting to move when Kim saw Monique climb out of a taxi at the end of the pier. “MONIQUE!” She yelled. “C'MON GIRL! RUN!” Kim turned to one of the crewmen and asked, “Can we wait for a second? She's right there!” The crew started yelling back and forth but the ferry slowly and inexorably pulled away from the pier.
Monique started running. She wasn’t going to make it.
Kim got a running start and leapt back to the pier, it was only about six feet and she made it easily. She activated her rocket skates as soon as her feet hit the pier and she described a smooth arc around behind the dark skinned girl. “Brace yourself!” she yelled as she approached Monique from behind at breath taking speed. Even prepared for the jolt, it threw her off course and they were heading fast in the wrong trajectory. “Lean left!” She yelled and Monique tried to oblige as the twelve inch piles whizzed past them at nearly twenty miles per hour. One of Monique’s bags caught on a pile and it ripped from her hand causing their trajectory to move even further from where Kim wanted to go. Suddenly, Kim found herself out of room. The pier was ending and she was headed a good fifteen degrees away from where she wanted to end up. Monique’s weight was pulling her further off course and the ferry was out of range for her grapple.
“Drop your bags!”
“On my signal, Mo.”
“Do I have to?”
“Three… two… one… NOW!”
Monique sighed and let go of her clothes. She hoped Kim and Wade realized what a huge sacrifice this was and mentally told herself that someone was replacing her wardrobe when they got to wherever this super secret location was. And it better not come from Smarty mart, or someone’s head was gonna roll. Then Kim let go of her and she screamed.
Shego ran down the tunnels of the Monaco sewer system as fast as she dared. According to what the NSA had told her, the woman she fought in the hospital was a clone. She didn’t buy it now, judging by fighting skills, the person she had faced in the hospital had been the original Dr. Director and, since they had told her that it was a clone that had later died, she must have somehow arranged to switch places with an actual clone while in GJ custody. Despite the findings of the inquiry, this woman had been in it from the beginning. On some level, Shego admired the cold calculating mind that had arranged for a decoy clone to be treated as a captive so she could throw suspicion from herself when the time came. Shego wondered briefly how the calculating bitch had arranged a switch under the watchful eyes of the NSA and Mi6. She also thought about the possibility that they were all part of a vast conspiracy, but dismissed it quickly. Even if there was some massive plot by all the spooks to take over the world, it wasn’t her problem. Right now, she needed to concentrate on her next move.
Clones meant that blue skinned scientist, Dr. Drakken, and if what Kitten had told her about that Director woman working with her dog-toting brother was true, the annoying freak probably had access to all of the resources of GJ and WEE combined. With that kind of influence they could be set up anywhere in the world. One of her priorities had to be figuring out where they were so she could avoid the place. Wouldn’t do her any good to set up shop and find out the psychotic, power hungry, despots that wanted to use her against her girlfriend were right next door. EX-girlfriend, she corrected herself with a stab of pain. I’m not that person. I’m not that weak. I don’t need her. I don’t need anyone. She brutally shoved the pain back down into her gut where it got lost in her anger. China was probably a good bet. The government was paranoid and jealous of its power. They were very unlikely to allow anyone not directly connected with the government to set up a secret laboratory anywhere within its borders. She’d have to look into that after she got away.
She still wasn’t sure if they wanted to kill her or capture her. The second possibility concerned her more. If she was captured, they’d probably hold her out as bait for… Would Kitten come for me if…? Would I come for her? She wondered. Shaking her head, she concentrated on putting distance between herself and the GJ agents behind her while working out how to get the painting to the person who hired her to steal it. She had to admit that she was surprised when he had contacted her about the job. Especially after the disastrous way her relationship with his son had gone. Still, the man was loaded, his kid was kind of cute, in an overly self-indulgent way, and she could think of worse places to hide from Global Justice while figuring out what to do next. One of them was this sewer. As she neared her bolt hole, one thought haunted her. Would she…? Would I…?
Wade fended off yet another cyber-breach and turned his full attention to the work he had started three and a half hours ago. He figured he still had thirty minutes or so before they pinpointed his location, and maybe fifteen minutes after that before they arrived in force, but he still hadn't arranged transportation for everyone on his list. He set the timer for twenty five minutes and continued to type furiously at the several keyboards he had set up around him. The Possibles would be on their way to Osaka, Japan, while the Stoppables would soon be in Sapporo. Dr Freeman was set for Vladivostok and Dr. Porter was going to Moscow. But he hadn't been ably to contact the Rentons at all and Monique's parents weren't willing to just pick up and leave. He kept at it, arranging rides for his friends and their families until the alarm went off. Just one more, he thought as he acknowledged the buzzing sound, I can finish this one.
A sudden pounding on the door was accompanied by shouts of, “We know you’re in there, Mr. Load!” Wade looked up wild eyed. He had lost track of the time and they had found him. They were outside the door right now! He typed in a command and the computer began running a code that would overwrite not only the units here, but all of the other servers he had tapped into as well. He had written this one himself and he thought it was probably the sneakiest thing he had ever come up with. As he watched it start the calculations, he considered the size of the network he had been using and thought I might just get a Nobel in mathematics for this one. Then the wall behind him exploded in toward him and he stared at a rubble covered apparition in shock.
Kim caught Monique on her left arm. The sudden shift in weight pulled them sharply left and had her nearly lined up with the ferry she wanted to be on. A gangplank carelessly propped against one of the piles made an excellent ramp and she crouched as she hit the incline and used her powerful legs to launch herself skyward off the end. Monique’s scream continued unabated into her ear as she fired the grappling gun at the ferry, praying that she was in range. The hook stopped just short of the upper deck railing but fell to the lower deck. As soon as she saw the hook in contact with the ferry’s lower deck, she snapped the cable to her belt and looked down at Monique, still flailing and screaming.
“You might want to close your mouth,” Kim said offhandedly, “we’re going swimming.” And she hit the retract button.
“We’re so close!”
Two figures watched the Corduroy News Network. The male was built like a Sherman tank and cut an imposing, almost frightening picture with his wild hair and eye-patch over his left eye. Only the little Chihuahua nestled in the crook of his arm gave any indication that he might have human emotions or feelings. He stroked the dog slowly, savoring the feel of the coarse fur under his finger tips. With each stroke the dog whimpered nervously, but the man didn’t seem to notice. The female was a rapier to his broadsword, thinner and more flexible, but no less deadly. She stood with her arms crossed, her right eye socket covered by a patch and her left eye staring impassively at the screen.
On the television, several panel members were arguing about which branch of the military was going to be most effective when congress declared martial law and which agency was going to be appointed by the Joint Chiefs to head up the search for the terrorists. The discussion was interrupted by a bulletin stating that another city had been hit, this time in Canada. Two thirds of the population of Yellowknife, in the Northern Territories had been afflicted with a form of turrets syndrome. The shot cut to a live scene outside of the white house where thousands of people had gathered to beg the government officials to lock down the country for their safety.
“We’re so close.” The man whispered again.
“They haven’t given us control yet.” She warned.
“Oh, but they will.” He said gleefully, placing the shivering dog up near his face. “And they’ll do it soon. Won’t they, Pepe?”
[End notes: Next Time:
Chapter 9- Bottle in a Ship]
Title: Bottle in a Ship
[Author's notes: I do not own Ardbeg, Jack Daniels or Ricky Charmichael. I would suggest you check out both Ardbeg and Ricky Charmichael but avoid Jack Daniels.]
The ferry brought them out to the middle of Lake Michigan where they were met by a fifty-foot trimaran. Monique opted to stay on board the ferry and head to Vladivostok by way of Canada, Alaska and Japan, while Kim, Ron and Bonnie boarded the trimaran for a cruise through the Great Lakes to the Atlantic where they would transfer to a passenger ship headed for France. All of the travel plans had obviously been put together by Wade with camouflage in mind, rather than speed. Attempts to contact Wade had been futile, so all of their information was coming from prearranged plans and old communications. After settling in on the trimaran, the three of them met in the galley for a late dinner.
Bonnie took a sip of the instant coffee and grimaced. “I knew I should have stayed on the ferry with Monique.”
“That must be why you said, ‘Russia in the winter? I don’t think so.’ when you were offered the chance.” Ron said sarcastically.
“Hey, I didn’t know I was going to have to spend two weeks stuck inside a three room boat with Miss Perfect and the Wonderful Wizard of Weird.”
Turning to Kim, Ron snarled, “Tell me again why you thought I needed to hear anything this bitch queen had to say.”
Kim rolled her eyes. “Because it’s important to her, Ron.”
“How would you know?” Bonnie snapped.
“I’m just trying to help…”
“Well just stop sticking your nose in my business! I don’t need your help.” Bonnie stormed out of the galley into the bunkroom.
Ron rose to follow her, still angry, but Kim stopped him. “Let her go, Ron.” She tried to raise Wade once more and when he failed to answer she slammed the Kimmunicator on to the table. “Damn! I wish I could raise Wade and find out why it is so important for us to do this.”
Still staring at the door Bonnie had disappeared behind, Ron said, “I wonder what she wants to tell me.” Kim rolled her eyes; it was going to be a long two weeks.
For a few days they walked on eggshells around each other. The close confines of the trimaran, and the fact that they were not supposed to go up on deck during the day, made for very uncomfortable quarters. Kim found it amusing that they tended to triangulate themselves to end up as far from each other as possible, usually with one of them in the galley, one of them in the bunk room and one in the lounge. When someone left their area to get a snack or go to the head, one of the other two would move into the recently vacated space. This caused a few growls and mutters but they managed not to hurt each other or get on each other’s nerves too much.
The third night on board, Kim woke to the sound of sobbing. She looked over and saw Bonnie had her face shoved into her pillow and was crying into it. Her sobs were racking her body and her knuckles were white from the death grip she had on the pillow. Kim wondered what she could do for the girl. It must have been difficult for Bonnie to drop everything and come on a journey with her boyfriend and her bitter rival at the drop of a hat without even knowing why it was necessary, especially since her relationship with Ron seemed to be in a rough patch. When Wade had mentioned Paris, Bonnie had probably imagined a first class plane ticket today and shopping on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré tomorrow. Kim was positive that Bonnie hadn’t counted on being stuck on a boat with her and Ron for several weeks.
She waited until the sobs had subsided and stirred gently; acting as though she was just waking. The noises from Bonnie’s bunk ceased as soon as she moved. Kim stretched and made her way to the galley where she put on the kettle and began preparing herself a cup of tea. She kept glancing into the bunkroom hoping to catch Bonnie moving so she would have an excuse to speak with her and was soon rewarded. When the kettle began to whistle, Bonnie sat up and stared daggers into the galley.
“Sorry.” Kim said. “I can’t sleep and I thought some chamomile would soothe me. Would you like a cup?”
“I don’t want any damned tea.” The acerbic brunette snarled. “I want a real drink.” She flung off her blanket and swung out of bed.
“Are you sure?” Kim asked, “You know alcohol doesn’t change your mood, it just amplifies it.”
“Spying on me, Possible?” Bonnie sneered at her. “Is that how you get your edge?”
For a few moments Kim considered playing it off, like she hadn’t seen the brunette crying but something in her thought that Bonnie really wanted to tell somebody what was bothering her. Whatever her reasons, she had left her life behind and come with Ron. According to him, Wade had been clear that they would be out of the country for a while, possibly permanently and she had just picked up and walked away from her life. Either her life was really bad, or Ron meant a great deal more than she wanted to admit, even to herself. Kim watched with growing concern as Bonnie walked over to the cabinet and pulled out a fifth of whiskey.
“I can’t believe it!” She exclaimed in awe. “They’ve got Ardbeg!” The brunette reverently poured two fingers into a cup and savored the shot as she drank it. “Oh!” She said quietly. “That’s good stuff.”
Kim remembered the first time she had tried a shot of whiskey. It had burned down her throat like fire and fell into her stomach like a brick, a very hot brick that wanted to come right back out.
“C’mon, Miss Perfect. Let’s get toasty.”
“What?” a disapproving frown touched Kim’s face.
“I’m going to tell you a story and I’ll be damned if you’re going to be sober when I do it.” The brunette set two paper cups on the table, “Be damned if either one of us is going to be sober when I do it.” She stared defiantly into Kim’s eyes. “Or have I finally found something I can do better than you?”
Kim knew that Bonnie was just goading her and that getting into a drinking contest with the brunette was probably the stupidest thing she could do, but something about the challenge in those icy blue eyes stirred her competitive soul and her Kimness woke up and took over. She picked up a shot and downed it. The liquid rolled down her throat, coating it in warmth, nothing like the throat burning disaster she had experienced with the Jack Daniels. And instead of the fiery charcoal lump she expected in her stomach, there was only a pleasant, smoldering warmth that radiated from her middle out toward her limbs.
She was transported back to a day in the early part of winter when she had been foolish enough to go out without a jacket and had arrived home barely able to feel her arms. Shego had lit her hands and gently massaged warmth back into her shivering body. The gentle caress had been comforting and quite erotic. The sensual memory cast sharp relief on the hole in her life that Shego had recently filled and, for a moment, the pain was so intense that she staggered back as though she had been struck. Bonnie’s face twisted into a triumphant sneer. “One drink and you’re already falling down.”
Kim shook her head, trying to hold back her tears. “No.” her voice was harsh and filled with her pain. “The whiskey feels like Shego.” Looking up, she could see the confusion on Bonnie’s face. “Shego…” Kim whispered. “When I was cold, Shego… would put her hand on my stomach and warm me… but… she… she left me.” Bonnie just looked at her, nonplussed. “The whiskey feels like Shego.” Kim whispered, unable to keep the tears from falling.
Bonnie stood over her rival watching the goody-two-shoes, stuck-up, bitch collapse in on herself and cry about being dumped by her criminal, lesbian, freak of a girlfriend. She should feel elated. At last, her life was better than Kim’s in every way that mattered. This was supposed to be a glorious day. So, why did she feel like she had just beat-up a third grader? Kim was a gibbering wreck; she should be dancing to Queen, not trying to figure out how to comfort Miss Perfect.
What is wrong with me? “Aw, hell!” Bonnie said in exasperation. She sat down heavily and poured out two fingers of whiskey into each cup. She took Kim’s hand and put another shot in it. “Drink up, Princess.” She said softly, “At least it reminds you of something you like.”
Bonnie kept their cups wet and listened as Kim poured out her heart. Occasionally she shook her head at the wrongness of being the confidant of the great Kim Possible. But as she listened, Bonnie began to understand that inside the seemingly perfect exterior, there was a little girl who was scared of letting everyone down. Afraid that she wouldn’t be good enough and that someone would get hurt again. The training, the world saving, all of it driven by something the red head hadn’t really understood or had any control over. As the alcohol kicked in, they found themselves commiserating about other things: school, Ron, Mr. Barkin, Ron, fashion, and Ron. There was lots of talking about Ron. Smooth as the whiskey was, Kim was not used to drinking and in less than two hours she was passed out.
Bonnie, not sober herself but not quite as far gone as Kim, watched the red head slowly fall over onto the bench and laughed. Somewhere, in the back of her mind, a cheerleader was running around and shouting, “we won!” Outwardly she just snorted and shook her head. “I tha’ yuwere gonna’ lissen t’ my prolems…” she got up and staggered around the table. She grabbed Kim under her arms and began dragging her toward the bunkroom. “Doan’ thing tha’ jes ‘cause I drank yer sorry butt unner a table tha’ you doan’ haff ta lissen t’ me…” Knocking over the stools and spilling all the cushions from the small couch, Bonnie managed to get Kim through the hatch into the bunkroom. She tried to lift her up onto one of the lower bunks but the unsteadiness of the boat, combined with her own shaky state made it impossible.
“Fine mess ya got me in this time, Possbul.” The brunette slurred from half under her passed out companion. “S’posed ta be able ta do anysing… can’ even get inna bed.” She giggled to herself, “Hower ya s’posed to save t’ world if ya can’ even get inna bed?” she made a half-hearted attempt to stand. “Haff ta get Ron ta do it.” She dropped her voice to a stage whisper, “He’s good at it ‘chya know. Savin’ stuff… saved me once.” She brought her finger up near her mouth and made a long wet shushing noise. “doan’tell ‘im… They we’re gonna rape me… loooong time ‘go... a‘fore high school… but Ron stop’t ‘em… Ron Stopapapmul… stopamole… stoppa’… Ron…” she giggled again. “Fell in love wi’ ‘im righ’ then.” She nodded her head once. “Jes’ too frikkin’ stupid ta tell ‘im… too stoop…”
Her head dropped down against the red hair splayed over her chest and she began snoring softly in time with Kim. She never saw Ron who had been awakened by the noises of her attempt to get Kim in bed. She didn’t feel it as he easily lifted Kim into her bunk and then did the same for her. She didn’t hear it as he cleaned up the galley and made himself a very early morning snack. She didn’t know he had been standing in the doorway, and heard every word. He sipped his coffee and thought about what he had overheard, trying to remember what she was talking about.
Ron peddled as fast as he could. He was supposed to be home already but he had lost track of time at Bueno Nacho. Kim had been trying to cheer him up, but no amount of Tex-Mex could change the fact that when they started at Middleton High, they would be in different classrooms for the first time since pre-K. He cut into the new construction area to shave a few minutes off of his ride home, and also because the way the builders had cleared the lots reminded him of a Supercross track. He tore through the freshly turned and leveled lots, making motorcycle noises and imagining himself powering over the jumps in front of thousands of screaming fans.
Ricky Carmichael has a fight on his hands tonight! Ron Stoppable is anything but “stoppable” as he carves through the field. One more lap to go! Can the cagy veteran hold off the young gun? Only two more turns… Ron slid his bike down a long bank and jumped over a small culvert across the path that led back into the tract where his house was. And Stoppable takes the lead! Ron Stoppable is your new Supercross Champion…! As he made the turn onto his street, Ron noticed a lot of people out in front of Josh Trollman’s house.
Josh was going to be a senior this year and Ron really hoped that he would find someone else to bully at school, since he generally made Ron’s life as difficult as possible whenever he saw him around the neighborhood. He pulled up short and looked down the street. No one had seen him yet, but he couldn’t get by the house without being noticed. “What do you think, Rufus, sneak past or go around?” he asked his constant companion.
“I gotta agree with ya’ little buddy, even though we’ll be even later.” Ron replied and turned to go around the block, when he heard someone say “But Lonnie, I don’t want to go with them.”
Looking closer, there was a girl, about his age, braces, stringy brown hair, clinging to the arm of an older blonde girl, probably in high school, dressed like Britina. There were three guys standing near a van, one of them was holding the brown haired girl’s arm. The blonde shook off the younger girl’s hands and said cruelly, “You want to hang out with Connie and me? You want to be a big girl…?”
“Then shut up and do what I tell you.”
“I’m tired of you already. Boys!” she said looking at the toughs around the van with an evil smile, “Why don’t you show her what it’s like to be a big girl.”
The brown haired girl looked around desperately and caught Ron’s eye. The pleading expression was too much for him to bear so he started peddling toward the van. He knew he was already going to be late and now he was probably going to get beat up. On the bright side, his ‘rents might go easier on him if he was beat up… Always look for the bright side. The girl watched him approach solemnly. He could tell that she wasn’t really expecting him to help. He gave her a wink and a wry smile as he ran his bicycle into the side of the van.
The guy holding onto her turned to look at him. “What the…?”
“Dude! He did that on purpose!”
“That’s it kid, you’re dead meat!”
Before his shirt was pulled over his head blocking his vision, he saw the girl running away, forgotten by the toughs who had turned their attention to him. It eased the pain… a little.
Ron finished his snack and went in to check on the girls. They were both still passed out. He rolled Kim from her back onto her side in case she got sick and she didn’t even stir. A thought occurred to him. It was an evil thought and he knew it was evil, but he didn’t even try to fight it. For the next ten minutes, he busied himself arranging everything for maximum effect, giggling insanely the whole time. He understood, deep down inside, that playing a practical joke on a woman who knew sixteen kinds of Kung-Fu was a bad idea and that involving his girlfriend pushed it into the realm of colossal stupidity, but this opportunity was just too good to pass up. As he paused in the doorway he fought the urge to take a picture. At this point he was definitely going to be bruised, possibly bloodied, but if he actually recorded this for posterity, he wouldn’t survive. Still, it took every ounce of will power he possessed to walk away without snapping a shot.
Kim rose to consciousness slowly. Her mouth was full of something nasty and her head was aching. She could feel every single hair follicle on her scalp and they all hurt. The sheet felt like a cheese grater on her skin and there was an uncomfortably hot weight pressed against her right side and laying across her chest. She reluctantly opened her eyes and found herself staring directly into Bonnie’s. Their screams filled the small cabin as they flung themselves away from each other with complete disregard for the throbbing agony they were experiencing. Ron, standing in the doorway, savored his last few moments of full mobility by wiping away tears of laughter.
[End notes: Next Time:
if You Give a Mouse a Cookie]
Title: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie...
[Author's notes: I covered James Bond in the last chapter but he still isn’t mine and Cessna is owned by Textron.]
The following security measures are in effect immediately, National curfew will be set at ten PM. All non-citizens are under house arrest and may not leave their place of residence without proper authorization. All citizens must carry valid identification at all times and be prepared to show correct permits when traveling more than twenty five miles from their place of residence. No private assemblies of more than five persons are permitted. No public assemblies of more than five persons are permitted without notifying your local Security Czar and obtaining the proper permits. All public assemblies of more than five persons must be attended by at least two members of the National Security Force and duly recorded for review by your local Security Czar. Gasoline rations will be issued in accordance with schedule fourteen of the Security Protocol and all requests for variance must be submitted to your local Security Czar. The complete Security Protocol is available at your local Security Center and we encourage all citizens to familiarize themselves with it as soon as possible. Hard copies are available for your convenience. All violators of the Security Protocol are subject to immediate disciplinary action under schedule thirty-nine of the Security Protocol. Citizens are encouraged to report violations and violators to their local Security Center using the phone numbers set up for that purpose. Be patient and support your local Security Czar through these temporary measures until we can ensure the safety of every man woman and child in these great United States. We now return you to your regularly scheduled program, American Icon.
“Did you just say ‘pie’?”
“Um, yes sir.” Rho said nervously.
“His computer is filled with pie?” Gemini looked doubtful.
“Yes sir, to approximately one hundred trillion decimal places.”
“Pi… the number?”
“Yes. He seems to have come up with a new method to calculate it and used his system to run the program when we surprised him.”
Gemini’s face furrowed into a dissatisfied scowl. “So… instead of information about Kim Possible, her friends or her family we have one hundred trillion-“
The interruption caused Gemini’s frown to deepen, an action Rho had thought impossible. “Approximately, one hundred trillion decimal places of…”
“Pi.” Gemini pronounced the word slowly and deliberately with great distaste.
“We believe that one hundred trillion digits is a new record, sir.” Rho said hopefully, before the floor opened up beneath him and he plunged into darkness.
“What does Mr. Load have to say about this?”
“Well, we’re not sure… sir.”
“And why not?”
“Because he isn’t here, sir.”
“And where, pray tell, is he?”
“We’re not sure, sir.”
As Gemini pressed the button that would send Kappa plunging after Rho, he sighed. Some days it just didn’t pay to take over the world.
As Shego’s plane neared the private island, she activated the transponder provided by Senor Senior Sr. The gadget was supposed to guarantee that someone would attend to her approach personally and prevent the automatic defenses from shooting her down. She hoped it worked; the Cessna, Skyhawk she was flying wasn’t the world’s fastest or most maneuverable plane. Any hostile action would probably mean she would have to bail out and she didn’t fancy a swim today.
“To the small plane approaching my island, please verify your identity or I will, regretfully, deploy my short-range, ground-to-air, heat-seeking missiles.”
“Tell you what, old man, you shoot me down and I’m gonna’ put my boot so far up your ass you’ll need a grant from the European Speleological Foundation to organize a search party to go find it.”
“Ah! Ms. Shego, how nice of you to join us. I take it your venture was a success?”
“Yeah, I got your stupid painting, and questioning my competence won’t make it any easier to find my damn boot.”
“Please, Ms. Shego, I did not mean to cast aspersions upon your professional capabilities. It is only that there have been rumors of unpleasantness involving you, and I thought that, perhaps, you were approaching me for reasons other than our previously agreed on business.”
“Rumors of unpleasantness are the least of your worries if you keep jerkin’ me around.”
“Now, where do I land this thing?”
“Your tone of voice is most disrespectful. Almost, I am tempted to shoot you down, despite the precious cargo you carry. However, I will honor our agreement and turn you over to our automated control tower for final approach instructions.”
Ron limped across the lido deck to where Kim and Bonnie were lounging. “Hey ladies!” he said brightly, “The Ron man is here for your interactive pleasure.”
Kim lifted her head marginally and glanced around with a confused expression on her face. “Did you hear something, Bonnie?”
“I brought snackage.”
The brunette didn’t even bother to move. “I didn’t hear anything. What about you, Rufus?”
“Aw, man! Et tu, Rufus? Et tu?” Gingerly, Ron kneeled down on the deck between the two lounge chairs and folded his hands together in supplication. “C’mon, guys, it’s been like, ten days! When are you going to let me out of the dog house?”
Bonnie sat up and pulled an organizer from her carryall. Opening it, she started flipping through the pages, muttering numbers. “Ah!” she stopped turning pages and jabbed her finger at a page near the back. “Right about… never. Is that good for you Kim?”
“Yeah, never’s good for me.” She replied, barely suppressing her smile. “Hold it!” she sat up. “Is that this never? Or next never?” As the girls dissolved into laughter, Ron got laboriously to his feet and limped back to the Jacuzzi. It looked like he was in for another lonely day of soaking his sore body in the hot jets. He was healing up pretty fast; he figured he’d be able to walk normally in another week or so. For now he comforted himself with a mental of Kim and Bonnie in bed together, Kim on her back with Bonnie snuggled up against her, one arm draped across Kim’s stomach, Bonnie’s head on Kim’s shoulder, tilted just so, lips parted slightly, seemingly waiting for a kiss from the beautiful red head who’s face was turned just slightly toward the Brunette. The pain faded as he visualized the scene.
Kim looked over at Bonnie who, in the last two weeks, had become, if not a friend, at least not an enemy. “We really shouldn’t blame him, you know. I don’t think there’s a man alive who could have resisted.” She smiled ruefully, “At least he left our clothes on and didn’t take any pictures.”
“So he says.”
“I went through every thing he owns very thoroughly. If there were pictures, I would have found them.”
“When did you go through his stuff?”
“You remember when he was hanging upside down from the yardarm and you were dunking him at random intervals?”
Bonnie’s smile grew and a satisfied gleam brightened her eyes.
Kim relaxed back into her chair. “In a few days we’ll be in Cannes, enjoy the Mediterranean while you have the chance and keep the heat on Ron until he buys you something nice.” She closed her eyes and tried not to think about the inactive Kimmunicator in her bag. The network that it used seemed to be down and she hadn’t been able to make any calls. Although she did have all the information stored on the device, she wasn’t able to link to anything outside of it. Trying to put Wade’s fate out of her mind for the moment, she wondered how to get a cell phone, she was pretty sure they had stores. She’d seen a commercial for one on TV once.
Agent Du walked casually up to the checkpoint. He presented his forged credential to the agent on duty and was admitted into the records area without question or fuss. Outwardly he was calm and collected. Inside he was shaking like a martini in a Bond flick. He was about to disobey orders for the first time in his life. Well, not so much ‘disobey’ as ‘act without orders in a manner contrary to the established chain of command’s known desires.’ In short, he was going to release a prisoner and make it seem like a clerical error. He had to admit; the thrill of testing himself against the Global Justice system was somewhat intoxicating. He understood why people would want to do this sort of thing on a regular basis.
He pulled two files and substituted their contents with documents he had prepared on his home computer, and then he logged on to the records department’s computer with an alias that he had generated specifically for this mission. Once in the system, he issued a command to release Special Agent Thomas from custody and countermanded the standing order that Dr. Director immediately be notified of any change in the prisoner’s status. He quickly logged off and left the building by way of the side entrance. The door he utilized had one advantage, no camera.
Outside, he hurried to his rented car and climbed inside, only then did he allow himself to succumb to the nervousness he felt. He waited for a few minutes until his hands stopped shaking and the urge to throw up passed, then headed to a rendezvous with his alibi. The mainframe clocks should reset tonight and make it seem as though the release had been ordered while he was otherwise occupied. When he reached his destination he took several deep breaths, calming himself for his lunch with Betty.
“My name is Doctor Candice Grain. I have a Masters Degree in political science from the University of Notre Dame. I speak five languages. Prior to this posting, I served the President of the United States as National Security Advisor and Secretary of State. You may refer to me as “Madam Security Czar,” you may refer to me as “Doctor Grain,” I’ll even allow you to refer to me as “Mrs. Grain.” But I warn you, I have unconditional dominion over a substantial force of heavily armed soldiers, mercenaries and agents, and the next person who calls me “Candy” is getting shot!” Her penetrating glare swept over the assembled men and women of her war cabinet. “Do I make myself clear?”
There was a moment of nervous silence, broken by the sound of several Marines chambering bullets into their side arms followed quickly by a chorus of, “YES MA’AM!” from the people around the large conference table.
“Damn skippy!” She muttered as she sat down at the head of the table. “Now, I believe the Global Justice representative has something to report to the committee. Dr. Director, You have the floor.”
“Thank you, Madam Security Czar. We have traced the biological agents used in the attacks back to a man named Drew Lipsky. He is better known as ‘Dr. Drakken,’ a self proclaimed ‘Mad Scientist’ who has tried, on several occasions, to take over the world. We have him in custody now but we are unsure if he was the mastermind behind the scheme or just the supplier of the biological agents. Now, if I could turn your attention to the screen behind me…” She called up the first slide. “This is Dr. Drakken. A few months ago we raided his lab in connection with a kidnapping. Timothy John Possible and James John Possible, twin brothers, fourteen years old, were abducted by Dr. Drakken for reasons as yet unknown to us.”
“Are these twins any relation to Kim Possible?”
“Yes, they are her younger brothers.”
“So, they could have been kidnapped as a way to lure Miss Possible to some sort of trap.”
“That is a leading theory, but the I mention the kidnapping only because it resulted in the raid on Dr. Drakken’s laboratory where we found the materials and machinery necessary to manufacture the biological agents used in the attacks.”
“And how long ago was this raid?”
“Approximately two months.”
“Two months! And you’re just telling us about it now?” the irate man jumped up from his seat. “For God’s sake, woman! There’ve been ten attacks in the last two months!”
“And he’s been in custody that whole time. We confiscated nearly a dozen devices with unknown purposes and several reams of notes that had to be sorted through. Our investigations turned up this information two days ago and we have been vetting it for the last forty-eight hours. We contacted the Security Czar’s office as soon as we found solid evidence and this meeting was convened at the earliest possible time.” Her eye swept the assemblage, “Are there any more questions about the timeliness of this disclosure or the actions of my ay- ahem, I mean, Global Justice?”
There was a general murmur of denial and a few coughs. If anyone caught her slip of the tongue, they let it pass unmentioned. With an infinitesimal smile, she continued. “We have reason to believe that he employed three agents to disperse the biological agents: A cat burglar, known only as “Shego,” A mercenary for hire, calling himself “The Ron Man” and, this pains me to say, Kim Possible.” There was a murmur of disbelief around the table as everyone reacted to the bombshell that Dr. Director had just dropped in the room.
“How can you accuse Kim Possible of being involved in… something like this?” one outraged man yelled.
“Yeah! She’s always helped people, this isn’t the kind of thing she’d do.”
“What kind of hokey crap are you tryin’ to pull here, Betty?”
“ORDER!” Dr. Grain banged the table several times, “Order! The committee will come to order!” gradually the sound died down and when they had fallen into an uneasy silence, she turned to Dr. Director and motioned for her to continue. “Please tell us why you believe Miss Possible is implicated in this matter. And, Betty, this had better be rock solid.”
“If you’ll all turn to page nine of your briefing, you’ll see that we have evidence showing that Miss Possible and her accomplice, a Mr. Wade Load, are implicated in five robberies with an estimated average take of one point six million dollars. We believe that the kidnapping was part of a power play between Kim Possible and Dr. Drakken into which, Global Justice was unwittingly drawn. We attempted to take them into custody three weeks ago, but they were somehow alerted to our plans and remain at large. Kim Possible was last seen at Go City Memorial Hospital one day before we attempted to detain her and we confiscated all of Mr. Load’s computers but have hot been able to recover anything of use to our investigation from them.”
“This evidence is circumstantial.”
“They fled when we tried to pick them up for questioning.”
“That hardly means she is an international terrorist-”
“Her family is also missing. No forwarding address, no word to neighbors, no record of travel, they all just disappeared from the face of the earth, the day before Global Justice tried to speak with Miss Possible about her connection with these matters. There have been no attacks since that day.” She paused for a moment to let them absorb that and went on, “According to schedule twenty-three of the Security Protocol, Kim Possible can and should be declared an Enemy of the State.”
As soon as special agent Thomas walked into his office, he knew something was amiss. His paperwork had been disturbed. Someone had been going through his files and notes. It upset him quite a bit. Not because anyone would be able to decipher his code, (Two parts obscure references and three parts illegible handwriting,) but because it meant that someone on his staff was a traitor, working for or with that harpy from Global Justice. He stood absolutely still and began surveying the room. He let himself sink into a light, receptive trance as he took in the room as a whole. This pile used to be a foot to the left. That pile has been rifled through. The pile on the coffee table just moved. He came out of his trance quickly and eyed the pile suspiciously. It failed to move again, but he was now aware of a faint rhythmic sound, almost like breathing. He drew his gun and crept across the room.
[End notes: Next Time:
A disbelieving murmur filled the room. Kim possible, an Enemy of the State? Why, you could just as easily say that the oceans were shallow or the mountains were flat. Dr. Grain’s eyes roved over the people in her cabinet, judging their reactions and making mental notes of those that seemed either too accepting or too vehement in denial. She was disappointed to see that nearly everyone fell into one of those categories; she had been hoping to find her cabinet members less hasty to jump to conclusions. Her gaze brushed Dr. Director and she was taken aback by the expression of malice on the GJ representative’s face. There’s more to this than she’s telling us. She thought, I wonder why it’s necessary for her to discredit the kid? Her reverie was interrupted by an aide.
“Courier packet for you, Ma’am, JAG seal and priority delivery.”
She took the package and studied the seal and priority routing label. It was classified as “Secret” and since everyone in the room had that clearance, she went ahead and opened it. As she leafed through the documents in the packet, the heated arguments in the room faded into the background. In the package were security camera photos of Kim Possible and her accomplices engaged in what appeared to be burglaries. There were also copies of offshore account transactions in her name corresponding with the dates of the thefts. The account balances were astronomical by any reckoning and indicated that she had stolen considerably more than Global Justice had reported. She finished skimming the incriminating documents and pounded the table, calling for order.
Into the uneasy silence, she said softly, “The information I just received confirms the accusations of Dr. Director.” She waited for the gasps of astonishment and muttered self congratulations to quiet down before she looked directly at the GJ agent and continued, “However, you seem to have left out the fact that she was working for you.” Dr. Grain spread out the photos that had just been delivered. Betty Director figured prominently in about half of the pictures: here, with her arm around Dr. Drakken’s shoulders, sharing a laugh; there handing a briefcase to Shego; and, in one of the most damning, poring over a set of blueprints with Kim Possible, Drakken’s lab equipment plainly visible in the background.
“Captain, arrest her.”
Two Marines advanced toward Dr. Director, who was proclaiming her innocence loudly. When they reached her, she grabbed one by the arm and pulled him off balance forcing him to interfere with his partner. The young man recovered quickly and they worked together to back the one eyed woman into a corner. “Please come quietly Ma’am.” One of them said politely.
“Over my dead body, Jarhead!” Her foot lashed out catching him solidly on the side of his head. She moved into close quarters with the other Marine and landed several solid blows to his stomach and chest before dancing back out of his reach. The Captain signaled for two more men to advance. They did so, cautiously, but the she didn’t wait for them to come to her. She launched herself at the nearest man, trying to get through him to one of the doorways and they all closed in on her. The cabinet members, with the exception of Dr. Grain, crammed into a corner as far away from the action as they could. Dr. Grain calmly stayed in her seat. Dr. Director managed to keep the Marines at bay for a few minutes before finally grabbing one of them to use as a hostage.
She held the boy off balance with his ceremonial sword at this neck. “The rest of you, back off or this kid dies now!”
“Do as she says men.” The Captain’s calm voice cut through the chaos.
“I’m walkin’ outta here, and soldier boy is commin’ with me. Any of you yahoos got a problem with that?” The one-eyed woman looked around frantically, she was surrounded by Marines. “Captain, tell your men to get out of my way.”
“Company… DOWN!” the Captain yelled, and all the Marines fell flat on the ground. Dr. Director found herself facing him across the room. His weapon was out and pointed at her.
“You’re not going to shoot me; you might hit your own soldier.”
“He’s a Marine ma’am. He understands the risks of combat.”
“Wha-?” at a signal from his commanding officer, the young Marine let his entire body go limp. The slender woman was not able to support his weight and she was forced to let him slide to the floor, the sword was pulled from her grasp by his falling body and cut into his neck slightly, but not enough to do serious harm. Before she had time to recover, the captain shot her in the shoulder, knocking her completely over a service table. Deafened by the sound and reeling from the hit, she still tried to crawl to the door. A young marine stepped into her path. She heard the unmistakable sound of a bullet being chambered and looked up into the barrel of his sidearm. “You ready to come quietly now, Ma’am?” His eyes were full of menace, his politeness was nowhere in evidence.
The room was suddenly filled with the sounds of a dozen people talking at once as the cabinet members contacted their staffs and advisors. The captain called for his corpsman and saw to the restraint of his captive. Dr. Grain leaned back in her chair and tried to figure out what was missing in the information she had been given. Everything seemed a bit too pat.
Kim and Ron stared at Bonnie with open-mouthed disbelief. She split her time between looking at them and reading the scroll across the bottom of the television behind the bar in the café where they were having lunch. Only Rufus seemed unaffected, probably because he had his head completely buried in a cheese dish and wasn’t really paying attention to what the brunette was saying.
Kim recovered her voice first. “Are you sure that’s what they said?” Fear and denial warred for supremacy in her voice and her eyes darted back and forth between the screen and Bonnie. There was no mistaking the images for anyone else and little doubt about the nature of the broadcast but she was hoping it was a joke.
“At least they used your yearbook picture, Kim. No one will be able to recognize you from that.”
“Gee, thanks, Ron. That will be a lot of comfort to my parents when they see that I’m an international criminal, wanted on four continents!”
He grinned sheepishly, “Well, if we hadn’t pulled that job in Sydney, we’d only be wanted-“
“What?” Bonnie interrupted. “What the hell are you talking about?” she turned to Kim, “What job in Sydney? They’re making this up, right? He’s kidding… You two aren’t… You didn’t…” She glanced back and forth between them. “Oh, my God! You are! You did! It’s true?”
“Bonnie, it’s not like that!”
“It’s not like you two stole millions of dollars and hid it in offshore accounts?”
“You’re not helping, Ron.”
Bonnie stood over them, both hands on the table watching Kim with half lidded eyes. “All this time I thought you were so goody-goody. It turns out you’re just as selfish as anyone else, you just hide it better.”
“That’s not what happened, Bonnie.”
“Did you steal the money?”
Bonnie held up her hand. “No ‘buts.’ Did you steal the money?”
“Bonnie you’re not listen-“
“Did. You. Steal. The. Money?”
Kim sat back and folded in on herself. “yes.”
“Where is it?”
Shego checked the torque on the last bolt and wiped the sweat from her forehead. There wasn’t enough room in the hangar to work on her plane inside, so she had to pull it out on to the runway whenever she had the opportunity to make repairs and it was pretty hot out on the tarmac. The engine on her Cessna had seized about a mile from the Senior’s island and she’d had to dead stick the thing in. She’d walked away from the landing and the plane was in one piece, so she considered it a good day, even though it meant she had to work out in the hot sun to fix it.
Of course, being trapped on an island off the coast of Spain with no transportation of her own had presented a unique set of problems. She had worked out a deal with Senor Senior Sr. to trade her services as a thief for a small stipend plus room and board until she could fix the plane and figure out where she wanted to go next. It wasn’t a great deal for her, but she still made a little bit off each job and she really couldn’t think of a more secure hiding place. She spent her free time either working on her plane or in the Senior’s fully equipped gym.
She went inside to set up the compression tester so she could test the cylinders.
“I’m busy, Junior.”
“Always you are busy. Busy with your little toy aero plane, busy with your work out routine, busy with your nail filing, busy with your hair wash-“
“I’m a busy girl, Junior. Whaddaya want?”
“Father requests that you join him in the lounge.”
“No, it is true. He sent me out here like some kind of fetching servant boy.”
“Tell him I’m busy.”
“So now you wish for me to be your messenger flunky boy too? I will not be some kind of message carrying beeping device for you!”
“That doesn’t even make sense…”
“You are not listening to me. I do not wish to be your fetch-“
“AARRGH! If I go to the lounge, will you shut up?”
“There is no need to be Mrs. Rude Person.”
Watching him slide across the concrete floor of the hangar and slam into a tool box made Shego feel much better.
Special Agent Thomas walked carefully across the cluttered office. The soft, rhythmic breathing sounds seemed like they were coming from his couch, but there was no one on it. He moved around the room trying to pin point the source, but no matter where he stood, the sounds were coming from the couch. He picked up his umbrella and gently passed it through the air directly above the couch cushions. It met no resistance. He moved across the room to his desk and grabbed the first thing he came to that didn’t look breakable. He tossed it onto the couch.
The staple remover dropped through the couch as if it wasn’t there and the rhythmic noise stopped. Thomas moved cautiously forward to the edge of the couch and reached a hand out. Where he should have encountered the arm of his couch, there was nothing. His fingers just disappeared. “I know you’re in there.” He said quietly. “Stand up slow. And keep your hands in plain sight.” Even though he was fairly certain of what would happen, it was still eerie to see a hand emerge from his seemingly solid sofa cushion. When the culprit’s head became visible he said, “Mr. Load, how nice to see you. How is that you came to be sleeping in a hologram of my sofa?”
Wade looked at the agent sheepishly. “Well, when they raided my lab, I had to go somewhere-”
“They found your lab?”
“Yeah, I was making a lot of public transactions, trying to arrange transportation out of the country for as many of my friends and their families as I could.”
“How’d you do?”
“About sixty percent, they found me a lot faster than I figured they would. Even then, I had time to plant some information where the Judge Advocate would find it. I think they tapped into my com frequency and triangulated my position that way. I should never have let Global Justice get their hands on a Kimmunicator, even an old one.”
“While they were ‘interviewing’ me I overheard a conversation about your escape. Field agents reported that you were taken by a rival organization in an invisible truck.” Thomas fumbled around in his coat for a pack of cigarettes, “I’m pretty sure the NSA doesn’t have an invisible truck. I’m pretty sure that none of the intelligence organizations have an invisible anything, but when I see you sleeping inside an incredible simulation of my couch, I think… Maybe it wasn’t invisible, maybe the boy built a truck with stealth capabilities and he used it to escape.”
“Well, I didn’t build it-”
“Then it was Dr Freeman’s?”
Wade gaped. “How do you…?”
“His research isn’t exactly secret, you know.”
“Yes it is. It is exactly secret.”
“No time to worry about that now.” Thomas finally found a cigarette and lit it. “I think we’re missing the important question.”
“Which would be…?”
“Why are you here?”
“I found out where biological agent used in the attacks was designed.”
“And where is that?”
Bonnie looked at Kim with thinly veiled disbelief. “You gave it all back?”
“Not all of it. Not yet. Wade and I just started working on returning everything when all this stuff happened.” She ran a hand through her hair absentmindedly, “Like I told you, I mainly did it as a way to keep the Chief from being able to get to me in the first place.”
“I still don’t understand how that was supposed to work.”
“I’m not sure myself, I wasn’t thinking clearly then. I thought… if I have some kind of blackmail or… something, maybe she wouldn’t… you know… I don’t know.”
“Her head was all screwed up, Bonnie.” Ron interjected. “Cut her some slack. She was trying to protect herself from a psycho bitch with a bent for world domination who had tried to brain wash her.”
“I guess you’ve got more in common with the green chick than I thought.” She glanced around the small café; no one seemed to have noticed them or their resemblance to the pictures on the TV screen. “What are you going to do? You can’t just go check in to a hotel…”
Kim smiled winningly, “That’s where you come in.”
Shego stalked into the room, ready to give the elder Senior a piece of her mind. A glance at the big screen TV that dominated one of the walls stopped her in her tracks and wiped what she had planned to say clean out of her mind. Four pictures dominated the screen. One of herself, one of the buffoon, one of the nerd and one of a chimpanzee in a hideous green dress. The scroll across the bottom of the screen indicated that these were the members of a notorious international gang of terrorists wanted by the US government in connection with several biological attacks. Kim’s name was under the chimp’s picture and they had spelled ‘Shego’ wrong.
Senor Senior Sr. was standing near the bar. “Kim Possible, a notorious international terrorist? This does not seem to be credible, and the picture they have of her is not very flattering.”
Shego shook her head to clear it and turned to the man. “Not flattering? It’s a freakin’ monkey!”
“Ah, she did seem to be a bit… hirsute.” He mixed a couple of drinks and handed one to Shego. “I’m sorry to see that you are also included in this list of terrorism suspects. It changes drastically the arrangement we must have.”
Shego took the drink and sipped it absentmindedly. Kitten, what have you got yourself into? Who did you piss off that has this kind of power?
“You see, they will come looking for you now.” Senior continued, “And I must apologize but I do not wish to be associated with a terrorist.” He waited until she took another sip to continue. “That is why I have notified the authorities of your whereabouts.”
Shego turned to him, “What?”
“The authorities will come here looking for you now. I will turn you over to them.”
“What? Listen here you stupid old man, I…” her vision blurred for a moment and then cleared. “You drugged me?” She felt like she was in a vat of molasses.
“It seemed prudent. You are quite capable of disabling my son and me, then overcoming my security.” He reached out and took the glass from her unresisting fingers. “I thought it would be safer if you were unable to move.”
“Please understand that I hold you in the highest regard and I promise you that if you survive, I will share with you the reward money.” He shook his head sadly as she lost consciousness. The last thing she felt was his strong arms catching her before she fell to the ground.
[End notes: Next Time:
The Other End Has Teeth]
Title: The Other End has Teeth
Shego woke up in pain. Both of her shoulders felt like they were on fire and her arms were numb from the elbows down. Her neck was kinked and a muscle at the base of her skull was in spasm. Her face was against something cold and hard. She tried to sit up but something pulled on her arms and her feet were stuck. Suddenly, she was fully awake. Her eyes snapped open and a quick test of her limbs let her know that her fears were reality. She was hogtied and laying on a concrete floor. Her arms were pulled behind her and, as near as she could tell, her elbows were touching. She felt something odd brushing her ankles and after a few moments figured out that it was her numb fingers. Her legs were bound together all the way up to her thighs. As she assessed her predicament, the uppermost thought in her mind was: That old man is going to suffer for this.
She was able to move her head a little. She looked around as much as she could and discovered that she was in a cell. Her limited view included a heavy door with a very small window, some plumbing that was probably for a wash basin and the leg of a cot. She managed to twist and scoot herself in a complete circle on the floor. The cell had no window but there was a commode. The cot had no mattress. She was alone. Gingerly she began testing her bonds. Slow pressure caused them to dig into her flesh, and while she still couldn’t feel her hands, she did feel something dripping from her ankles and she guessed that it was blood. Another round of painful scooting confirmed a few drops of blood on the floor, smeared by her body.
Her bonds were probably metal, anything else would have stretched or snapped. And they had to be wires of some kind, to cut into her like that. She lit her hands and concentrated the heat of her plasma into her wrists in an attempt to melt the bonds but the heat was instantly transmitted throughout her body. She let out an involuntary scream of anguish as she felt intense burning heat in her armpits, around her breasts and on the soles of her feet. The heat did not dissipate immediately when she shut down her plasma either. She began thrashing around and cursing her captors, Senior, the world in general and the inventor of the wires with which she was bound. The sound of the door being unlocked penetrated through her anger. She struggled to move around to where she could see her jailer.
“Hello, Shego.” two simple words, spoken in an even tone of voice but dripping with menace. Shego felt her stomach sink and fear gripped her. “What…?” her captor continued in mock astonishment. “No snide remarks? No, glib sarcasm? Surely you must have a derisive epitaph you wish to share.” A pair of well-polished, pointy black boots moved into Shego’s view and stopped about a foot from her face. Craning her neck, she was able to look up into the face of her captor. The sinister grin on the young woman’s face was cold and threatening. “I want you to understand that I have no interest in your fate. I don’t care if you’re guilty. I don’t care if you’re innocent. I don’t care if you go to trial. I don’t care if you live or die. I. Don’t. Care.”
The brunette crouched down until her butt nearly touched the floor and brought her face close to Shego’s. “You see, I’m going fishing for red heads,” she said in a chillingly offhanded voice, “and you’re my bait.”
Shego glared at the woman and snarled, “I don’t think so!” She lit her hands full force and put all of her strength into breaking her bonds. The burning pain spread throughout her body but she ignored it and fought even harder, channeling all of her pain into rage. The intense pain only made her more determined, but no matter how willing the spirit, the body can only take so much and after three and a half minutes of hell, the pain overcame her and she passed out.
The woman sniffed reflectively and prodded the unconscious form with the toe of her boot. “Impressive,” she said to someone just beyond the doorway. “Replace her bonds and test them to see if that display weakened them at all. And make sure all of the heat conducting cables we coiled around her are still intact and in place, we wouldn’t want to deprive her of one millimeter of sensation the next time she lights up.”
“You really think she’ll do it again, after that?”
“I’m counting on it.” Lisa Chairman said as she exited the small cell.
“So, you can see that the biological agent was designed on this system. There isn’t enough computing power for it to extrapolate the entire organism with so little information unless it had a model for it already in its memory.”
“I’m gonna take your word for that, Mr. Load.” Agent Thomas leaned back in his chair and fumbled for another cigarette. “This severely limits the number of people who can be trusted.”
“How many people do you think we can trust?”
“Counting you and me? Two.”
“I think I can improve on that.”
“Look, all I’m saying is that if Ron dyes his hair brown and ditches the pleather pants, no one will recognize him. The only picture they have of you is a m-m-mo-” Bonnie tried to contain herself; she managed to choke out “m-m-monkey!” before dissolving into laughter. Kim just stood there, fuming silently.
“Guess it all works out, eh, KP?” Ron put in, trying to cheer her up. “If you had taken a good picture that year, everyone would be able to recognize-”
“Not if she was wearing that green dress!” Bonnie interrupted and went back to laughing. She was holding her sides and a tear trailed down one side of her face. Every few moments she would start to collect herself but when she opened her eyes and looked at Kim, it set her off all over again.
“You gotta admit, Kim, that it’s kinda funny that they used that picture.”
“No! Ron, everyone in the world thinks I’m a monkey!” Kim threw her arms up in frustration. Bonnie, who had just wound down started laughing again. She slipped off of her seat and fell to the ground, but didn’t seem to notice.
“It’s better than being an instantly recognizable international terror-” She was interrupted by a muffled sound.
Kim’s head whipped toward her backpack so swiftly that she almost gave herself whiplash. “Did you hear that?” She asked Ron in a disbelieving voice.
She lunged for her bag and began strewing its contents around her trying to find the Kimmunicator.
“Hey, Kim. No time for questions. I’m transmitting a diagram of the Kimmunicator and some instructions. Use them and call me back.” The transmission ended abruptly.
Kim wasted no time in memorizing the instructions and the diagram. She’d had to make field repairs and modifications before so this wasn’t anything new. Judging from the adjustments Wade wanted, she guessed she was changed the operating frequencies for the device. Questions raced through her mind as she worked but she managed to suppress them and concentrate on what she was doing. Ron, who had nothing to occupy his hands or his mind, asked them all, several times.
Shego woke up in pain. She was still bound in the same manner, but she could feel her arms all the way down to her wrists. She kept her breathing regular and subtly tested her bonds. They had obviously been changed; perhaps there was a weak point that she could find this time. Her activity was cut short by the voice.
“I know you’re awake, and I know you’re testing your bonds. I suggest that you do not move suddenly, because there is an I.V. in your left arm.”
“More drugs?” She choked out through her dry mouth.
“No, not drugs, I don’t want to dull the pain you will feel. It contains fluids and nutrients because I want you to be fit enough to endure it. You see its no fun for me if you pass out every five minutes.”
“That’s hardly flattering, and certainly not up to your vaunted wit.”
Shego closed her eyes and braced herself for what was coming. “When I get out of this” she whispered, “I’m going to kill you, again.”
“Again? Surely you have me confused with someone else.”
“Nah, you’re just another freakin’ clone of that bitch Betty Director. But since you’re so young, I’m guessing they went the whole route with you, in vitro fertilization, host mother, boarding school, the whole nine yards. And now you’re getting ready to take over the world but Mommy Dearest doesn’t think you’re ready, so you’re going to kill Kim to prove your worth and then maybe mommy will love you.”
“I don’t need her. I’m doing this for me and Uncle Sheldon.”
“What about your mommy?”
“She’s being taken care of already. She should have paid more attention to what was going on around her, now she’ll pay the price for her arrogance.”
“Still mad at’cher mommy for not carrying you in her womb?” Shego teased the young woman. “Bet they couldn’t find anyone to volunteer, either.” Shego could feel the wires cutting into her arms as she tried to break free. She could feel the small rivulets of blood running down her forearms and dripping off of her elbows.
The young woman pulled out a brochure and began reading. “…new polyfiliment that actually contracts when subjected to axial loads… That means stretched. …holds twenty-eight hundred pounds of impact pressure and thirty-five hundred pounds of steady pressure. Hmmm… able to withstand temperatures of five-thousand degrees Celsius... Impressive stuff.” She tossed the paper aside and leaned down close to Shego. “The other stuff is what I really like though. The thick cables wrapped around your body are made from a super heat conductor, developed by the British Space Agency, which has a unique quality. When you apply heat to one end of the cable, that end stays cool but it instantly transmits all the heat to the other end. They use it to keep things cool in space, move all the heat outside of the space station and things like that. I’ve found a better use for them, you’ve already experienced it once, and I’m going to make sure you experience it many more times before your girlfriend gets here.”
“We’ll see.” Shego closed her eyes stilled herself. Concentrating, she could feel the thick cables that wound around her body, terminating under her breasts, in her armpits and the bottoms of her feet. Taking a deep breath and willing her body to obey her, she put all of her energy into heating the thin wires binding her arms and legs, ignoring the burning throughout her body and straining at her bonds with all her might. An agonized scream ripped from her lungs as she thrashed around trying to break free. Blood dripped from the wound on her arm caused by ripping out the I.V. needle. The wire binding her wrists and ankles was hot enough to instantly cauterize the deep cuts it caused. This time, she lasted nearly four minutes before she succumbed to the pain and passed out.
When Wade stopped talking, Kim sat back and said, “Let me see if I’ve got all of this straight, someone used the NSA computer to design a debilitating biological agent, then used it on cities across the country to create a massive panic so that Congress would declare martial law?”
“And you don’t know who the master mind is?”
“Drakken’s already in custody, Dr. Director was part of it… but now she’s been discredited, perhaps sacrificed. What about Gemini?”
“No one’s seen him or heard from him for the last month.”
“It should be easy to figure it out.”
“What do you mean?”
“Who’s in charge right now?”
“What do you mean ‘in charge’? In charge of what?”
“Who’s in charge of everything? Martial law means that somewhere up the chain of command the buck has to stop.”
“So, we need to pass a buck and find out where it stops.”
“Good idea, Kim. I think I know how to do it. I just intercepted a message that Shego has been captured and is awaiting extradition in Valencia.”
Shego woke up in pain. This is becoming a habit, she thought giddily. Her bonds seemed to be the same, but she was now gagged. Her right leg was numb and she couldn’t feel either of her arms below her elbows, but the spasming muscle in her neck seemed to be better now. Her body ached all over and the way she was tied forced her body to rest painfully against her burns. She took several deep breaths and began a meditation routine to mitigate the pain. The young Betty Director’s voice broke her concentration.
“If you’re planning another pointless attempt to melt your way out of those wires, I’d advise against it.” Shego’s tormentor crouched down near her face and tapped the gag filling the pale woman’s mouth, almost making her throw up. “I added another of those remarkable heat conducting cables to your set up. It goes right here.” She poked the gag again and laughed while Shego dry-heaved into it. The spasms caused several of her burns to open up and begin oozing. Her right shoulder was wrenched painfully and trying to scream almost caused her to throw up again. She stilled her body by force of will and glared defiantly at her torturer.
“If this doesn’t have the desired effect, I might put some in more sensitive areas…” She trailed her fingers down Shego's chest and stomach, stopping at her pelvis. “If ya' know what I mean.” Shego’s eyes widened involuntarily. Lisa threw back her head and laughed from the gut. When she finished, she got down on her hands and knees and put her face right against Shego’s until their noses touched. “The best part…” and she laughed again. “The best part is that, thanks to all those test you went though at the NSA, I know how to make your plasma flare against your will.” She reached over to Shego’s ribs and pressed a pressure point.
Shego felt the burning pain flowing across all of her existing injuries and the horrifying sensation of hot metal in her mouth. Her involuntary scream set off her gag reflex again and the spasm of her dry heaves pulled her right shoulder out of its socket. After her cramps passed and she felt like she could breathe once more, Lisa put her lips against Shego’s ear and whispered. “That was fun, let’s do it again.”
Shego pulled desperately at her bonds, tearing the skin of her burns and wounds and agitating her already aching shoulder. Lisa reached for her chest again and she tried to shrink from the touch but she couldn’t move. She closed her eyes and shook her head rapidly. The heat came again and again, over and over. Each time accompanied by the voice. She blocked out the words, they were too horrible to contemplate. Better to think about the pain than the words. Kitten is far away, She told herself, she won’t come for me. This bitch will never catch her. I’ll get out of these bindings, and when I do… I’ll kill her.
After nearly an hour of arguing, it was decided that Kim would head to Spain and try to spring Shego using forged papers provided by Wade. Ron wasn’t allowed to come because of the high probability that he would be recognized by anyone who had seen his picture. Bonnie didn’t seem disappointed by that development at all. But, when Kim presented her credential to the Stationmaster at Police Headquarters in Valencia, she was told that Shego had been released to Global Justice two days earlier. She left the building as fast as she could without raising their suspicions and contacted Wade.
“They already got her, Wade.”
“Not exactly.” He said hesitantly.
“What do you mean?”
“She’s being held by Lisa Chairman. I just got a message and an address.”
“Well, give me the address.”
“Kim, it’s a trap!”
“No, duh!” She replied sarcastically. “Of course it’s a trap! So what? I’m just going to leave Shego in the hands of Dr. Director’s daughter because it’s a trap? I don’t think so, Wade. Now give me the address.”
“Your ride’s on the way, Ron’ll meet you there.”
[End notes: Next Time:
Title: Cage Match
Wade didn’t want to let Kim see the pictures that Lisa had included in what was basically a ransom note, but Thomas insisted that he show them to her. “Miss Possible needs to understand what she’s up against.” The older agent had said. “If you don’t show her these pictures, she might underestimate the situation.” Wade didn’t agree and had said as much, but Thomas stood firm and told Wade that being a mission director was hard enough when everyone in the field knew all the risks. As Kim’s mission director, it was Wade’s responsibility to her, and to the mission, to provide as much information about the situation she faced as possible. If he sugarcoated the situation, he was going to get her killed. Maybe not today, but someday she would encounter a surprise that she couldn’t overcome. Her best shot at making it home in one piece was to know the true severity of the situation, no matter how unpalatable.
Wade gave in and reluctantly sent her the pictures. He forced himself to listen to Kim’s tears of anguish, knowing he could offer nothing to ease her pain. Thomas rested his hand briefly on the young man’s shoulder, offering what comfort he could.
The narrow street was deserted. Pre-dawn fog hung lazily in the air, creating halos around the street lamps and diffusing their light. Muffled footsteps broke the silence. Strong and even, they grew louder and from the fog emerged a demon. Clad in black and trailing swirling fog, she moved forcefully through the pre-dawn haze. Her red hair billowed around her head. Her hands, curled into fists, swung powerfully at her sides and her green eyes burned with the promise of vengeance.
As she approached the warehouse, the fog seemed to move out of her way. First parting, as if it was unwilling to stay between her and her objective, then swirling around behind her as though the intensity of her passage had agitated it too much to return to the calm state it had enjoyed before she passed by. She stopped before a nondescript door and examined the number plate attached to it. Satisfied, she turned her body slightly and braced herself for impact. The lock on the door snapped under her strong kick and the sharp retort echoed around the docks, gradually fading away as if fleeing the scene. A gull shrieked in the distance.
The interior of the warehouse was dimly lit creating shadows around the perimeter and barely illuminating the high ceiling. It was easily twenty meters deep and nearly forty wide; support columns reached up into the shadowy overhead at five-meter intervals. It was completely empty save for two figures. One standing arrogantly against the back wall directly across from the door and the other laying in the center of the cavernous room, its normally graceful shape distorted unnaturally by cruel bonds. Kim ran toward the twisted figure, creating a small dervish of dust in her wake.
“Stop right there.” Lisa didn’t shout but her voice was firm and carried easily across the room, echoing slightly. She took a few steps away from the back wall.
Kim ignored the command and continued toward Shego’s motionless form. Suddenly the pale woman’s plasma flared. Her body convulsed and a muffled cry of anguish escaped past her gag. In an uncanny moment of clarity, Kim was able to focus closely on Shego’s face. There were tears of pain leaking from her tightly shut eyes, trailing down her dust caked face and a small rivulet of blood dripping from around the gag in her mouth. When the pale woman opened her eyes, Kim saw only despair.
Standing motionless she held Shego’s gaze and tried to convey hope to her lover. I forgive you for running. I forgive you for leaving me without even saying goodbye. I am here for you, Shego. I’m right here. Out loud she said softly, “What do you want, Lisa?”
From the corner of her eye she saw the slender brunette point a remote control at the helpless body of her friend. Shego’s plasma flared again and her body shuddered once more. The smell of charred flesh reached Kim’s nostrils and she fought the urge to gag. She kept her eyes pinned to Shego’s face and when the woman’s tired eyes opened, Kim projected once more, willing with all her heart for Shego to understand and find comfort in her thoughts. I’m going to get you out of this! Don’t give up on me! Don’t you dare give up! Lisa pushed the button again. And again Kim forced her eyes to remain open and hopeful for Shego to see when her spasms passed, but she couldn’t control her voice or her legs. She dropped to her knees and screamed, “What do you want from me?”
All of the cruelty done to her by this woman’s family passed through Kim’s mind; the loathsome demons that still haunted the recesses of her unconscious mind, the physical privations to her body and the emotional liberties that had been taken with her heart and mind. For years she had been a slave to the manipulations of this unholy family and tonight, it was going to stop. Kim felt the pain and anguish retreat deep into her body, completely subsumed into an unearthly calm. Her hand closed around a jagged, fist-sized piece of concrete on the floor, and with a new clarity, born of detached logic, she decided her course of action.
In one fluid motion she stood, whipped her body around in a full circle and let fly the stone at Lisa with all her might. As the rock left her hand, her powerful legs pumped and began pushing her body toward the sadistic woman before it unerringly hit its mark. Lisa dropped the remote when the stone impacted her forearm and before she could retrieve it, Kim fired her grapple at the startled tormentor. The woman dodged and the heavy claw missed her head by inches. But the evasion carried her further from the torture-inducing controller and by the time she recovered her balance, Kim had reached her.
Lisa wasn’t ready for the intensity of Kim’s initial attack and the red head dealt punishing blows that powered through her spur-of-the-moment defenses. Unable to block or even slow the blows being rained on her, Lisa tried to retreat, only to be denied even that surcease. Desperately, she closed on the red head, ignoring the blows to her head and neck and clenched her tightly around the waist. Still absorbing fierce punishment, Lisa managed to wrap a leg around Kim’s ankles and tumble them both to the ground. They recovered almost simultaneously but Kim had lost the advantage.
They closed and began feinting and testing each other, trying to find or create a weakness. Soon they were fully engaged; attacking any perceived opening and landing glancing blows that would be devastating if not countered. They fought in silence, without banter or insult. The only sounds coming from flesh impacting flesh or feet skidding across a dusty floor. Occasionally, a grunt of surprise would escape the lips of one of the combatants but the grim silence seemed to take on a form of its own and dominate the colossal arena. They ranged all over, engaged in their deadly ballet. Lisa landed the first serious hit and Kim’s cry of pain reverberated through the room. Lisa allowed herself a grim smile.
Kim was rocked back and executed a series of acrobatic evasive maneuvers to prevent Lisa from gaining a lasting advantage. She managed to avoid most of the brunette’s attacks by varying her movements and choosing random, often risky, defensive moves. Her evasive techniques frustrated Lisa and caused her to over extend a couple of times, but not enough for Kim to launch more than a cautious counterstrike. Recognizing Lisa’s frustration, Kim engaged in even more bizarre and unpredictable acrobatics, taunting, not with her voice but with her body until, finally, Lisa lost control and let her guard lapse completely in an all out effort to strike the evasive red head.
When Lisa overextended herself, Kim’s attack was explosive. She landed devastating blows on the woman’s body, knocking her around like a rag doll. She never let Lisa recover, and never dropped her guard, even when the woman seemed to be completely helpless. Time after time, she hammered her hands and feet into the body of the woman who stood against her. Her fists were red with the blood of her opponent and yet she continued to drive them into the woman’s chest and face. Still feeling curiously detached, she clenched the limp body between her thighs and grasped the unseeing face in her hands. She was just about to twist when a pleading moan penetrated her tranquility.
She looked around and met Shego’s concerned gaze. The pale woman was shaking her head and trying to speak through her gag. Confused, Kim glanced down at the broken body between her legs and her emotional calm deserted her. In a split second, she relived the entire fight. The fresh memory of Lisa’s lifeless eyes rolling back up into her head while her fists drove into the woman’s body blossomed in her mind. Did I kill her? Horrified at the thought, she dropped the limp body to the ground and frantically searched for a pulse.
“Hey, dude. I’m not very good at geography, but I don’t think there’s a big ocean between France and Spain. In fact, I’m pretty sure that there’s no ocean between them.”
“What’s your point?”
“Well, I looked out the window, and I saw this ocean… thing... underneath us… ya’ know…”
“So… where you takin’ me?”
The pilot nodded to his crewman and the man knocked Ron out. “Sorry, kid,” he muttered to the unconscious figure, “the reward money’s just too good to pass up.” Rufus burrowed into the deepest pocket he could find and bit every finger that came within range of his formidable teeth. They finally trapped him by removing Ron’s pants and putting the entire garment in a cage.
Agent Will Du glanced into the room one more time, just to be sure. Four figures sat woodenly at a plastic molded table; each of them instantly recognizable and incredibly life like. But their expressionless faces and motionless bodies gave him the creeps. He knew three of them personally and one of them by reputation and he knew that none of them would act like this. He carefully made his way out of the holding cell area, covering both his electronic and physical tracks. As he walked through his own office area, he called out to one of the research assistants.
“Jan, please get me all the information we have on Dr. Drakken’s Syntho-drone project and a contact number for Special Agent Johnson at the FBI.” A little misdirection never hurt anyone, he thought as he readied himself for a for a field trip that he might not be able to return from, and the old man owes me a favor already. Will could only hope that Thomas would believe him when he brought him the information. It was too bad that he couldn’t get pictures of the four of them sitting there like dolls on a shelf; life-sized living breathing, if not actually moving, dolls of Kim, Ron, Betty and Shego. He wondered who wanted them and what they wanted them for.
A fluttering beat touched Kim’s fingers and a rasping breath proved that she hadn’t imagined it; Lisa was still alive. She pulled out the Kimmunicator. “Wade, get me an ambulance and tell Ron to get his butt in gear.” Kim bound the hands and ankles of the unconscious woman and turned her attention to Shego. First she went after the remote, but Wade warned her not to destroy it.
“It’s giving off some kind of signal.” He broke in when she raised her foot to crush it. “I think that’s what’s keeping her goons out of there. If you destroy it, the signal will stop and they’ll be all over you.”
She left it lying on the floor and went over to examine Shego’s bonds. The loops of wire holding the pale woman’s arms and legs were cutting deeply into her skin, Kim pulled out her lipstick laser and tried to cut the wires but Wade interrupted her again.
“Don’t waste your time, Kim. It’s a new kind of poly-filament wire, as long as it’s under tension, you won’t be able to cut or break it.”
“Then how am I supposed-”
“Look for a tool like this…” He uploaded a photo of an odd looking pair of pliers, it had two sets of jaws, set about an inch apart, and three pivot points. “Grab the wire with both sets of jaws and lock them in place, then squeeze the lever, bringing the two sets of jaws together, that will release the tension in that one area, you should be able to cut the wire with a regular pair of side cutters.”
Kim found the tool in Lisa’s pouch and ran back to Shego. “She’s got some kind of box on her chest…”
“It’s a muscle stimulator, just pull out the leads.”
“Got it,” She began to cut the wires. She started with the loop holding Shego’s wrists and ankles together. “Where is the ambulance? Where’s Ron?”
“I’m not calling an ambulance until you and Shego are out of there, and Ron… isn’t answering.”
Kim was working on the loops holding Shego’s arms together, starting from her elbows and working down to her ankles. “Shego needs an ambulance too, Wade. She’s in no condition to get anywhere and--Ha! Last one.” She cut through the final loop around Shego’s wrists. Shego hissed as the blood began circulating once more through her numb hands. She tried to sit up but put too much weight on her dislocated shoulder and collapsed back to the floor grunting incoherently.
“Oh, baby!” Kim cried in distress, “I forgot about your gag, let me--Wade! She’s got some kind of cables wrapped around her body and one’s in her mouth… Can I take them off without hurting her?” She helped Shego into a sitting position.
Before wade could answer, Shego reached up with her good arm and ripped the gag out of her mouth, ignoring the puss and bile that spattered out and dribbled down her chin. She looked at Kim and, shaking her head, said very slowly, “Moh ambooam.” She began slowly and deliberately pulling off the other cables, ignoring the oozing blisters underneath them.
Kim winced in sympathy, “I don’t understand…”
“Moh ambooahm…” Shego insisted, “Boh home.”
The pale woman nodded.
“Can you walk?”
Shego closed her eyes, as if she didn’t want to see Kim seeing her like this, and shook her head. Kim picked her up and headed for the door. In the distance, a siren broke the silence. It was a long two blocks to her barrowed car. Shego kept getting heavier and heavier with each step. Kim pretended not to notice the tears running down her face or the small hisses of pain she let out when Kim adjusted her hold. She kept up a running monologue about being safe and getting better and how it was all going to be alright now, while her mind raced with worry about Shego and Ron. She forced herself not to fall over or drop her precious cargo.
The Plane taxied to the hanger and stopped just outside. Four men exited the craft; two of them carrying a four foot square box, one of them holding a covered cage. They met two men wearing dark suits. The men in the suits, looked inside the box, and lifted a corner of the sheet covering the cage. They nodded to each other in satisfaction. One of them gestured and three much larger men came out of the hangar, one of them carrying a large suitcase. The case was laid on top of the box and opened so that all four men could see the contents. There was a short celebration and the four men collected the case and returned to their plane. The three large men picked up the box and the cage and took them into the hangar.
As the plane took off, an unmarked white panel van exited the hangar. When the van reached the main gate, a shadow detached itself from one of the piles of rubble that littered the area and flowed across the tarmac to the main building. The rays of the rising sun glinted off the edge of a fan hanging from its belt.
[End notes: Next Time:
Alas, Poor Yorick]
Title: Alas, Poor Yorick
Kim called the number that Shego wrote down. She wasn’t sure what to expect after her brief and very confusing conversation with the woman who answered, but the Pack Media Studios’ helicopter which appeared out of nowhere, with a fully equipped modern triage unit and an army of well-trained mercenaries, was a complete surprise. She looked through the unexpected throng, hoping to catch a glimpse of Shego’s mysterious “Fox” but no one stood out. Everyone was professional and courteous to her, and after seeing Shego safely to the medical area, she allowed herself to be escorted out of the medico’s way to the passenger section. After that auspicious start, the ride itself was long and frustrating; no one would answer her questions, beyond fulfilling immediate physical needs, and they wouldn’t let her in to see Shego either.
When she tried to raise Wade, all she got was static. One of the mercenary/attendants told her the craft was shielded because of the sensitive nature of their portable studio equipment. He didn’t explain why a filming crew would need a fully equipped triage unit or an army of mercenaries and Kim felt it prudent not to push the issue. He did offer to put through a call to anyone the red head wanted to reach. However, Kim didn’t know exactly where Wade was or how to contact him outside of the Kimmunicator, so she declined. Instead she paced the passenger area and fretted. After a few hours, that seemed like days, she was approached and told politely that she needed to find a seat and strap in, they were coming in for a landing. She grabbed a seat next to a window and peered out over Paris.
They were met at the airport by an officious blonde man who reminded her vaguely of Will Du, without the annoying overconfidence. He introduced himself only as “Owen” and rebuffed her increasingly stringent demands firmly, but politely. She was escorted to a waiting SUV and informed that if she wished to accompany Shego any further, she would get in and remain quiet. Kim looked around the airfield. She was standing in the eye of an industrious hurricane. In the area close to the gigantic helicopter, which she had just exited, there was calm, but everywhere else was filled with frenetic activity. These people, who had Shego and her now, were powerful enough to shut down part of a busy international airport on short notice. She nodded once and got in the car.
As the caravan of black SUVs and sedans rolled out of the airport without so much as a pause at the security gates, Kim silently hoped that Shego’s Fox was not turning them over to the government.
“What in the hell are they going to do with them?”
“I don’t know, but you’re the old salt who’s seen it all, I thought you might have some idea.”
“Don’t get your panties in a bunch, kid.” Thomas held up a placating hand to the fired up GJ agent. “I know you’ve risked a lot by getting this information and bringing it to my attention. And I want you to know that after all this… stuff… is over, you’ve got a place here, in my division.” He poked himself in the chest with his thumb, “Some of us put the welfare of the country ahead of our own personal gain.”
“Thank you, sir.” Will said stiffly.
The older agent turned to his computer monitor and asked, “Whaddaya’ think, Wade?”
“Insurance policy,” was the terse reply. The teen didn’t even look up from his keyboard.
“Insurance? For what?”
“They’ve been declared ‘Enemies of the State,’ right? ‘Most wanted,’ ‘super-criminals,’ and all that jazz. Wouldn’t it be pretty embarrassing if the big wigs running the show couldn’t catch ‘em?”
“So they whip up some synthodrones to parade around in front of the public and give everyone a victory over the terrorists.” Will shook his head in admiration, “You’ve got to admit it’s a good idea.”
“Yeah, but it’s predictable. This is the same methodology that we saw when Gemini and Dr. Director were after Kim last year. Dazzle ‘em with BS and move all your pieces into place while they’re distracted. This sure as heck isn’t a Drakken plan.”
“But when Drakken kidnapped Kim’s brothers…”
“Convenient, wasn’t it. That he kidnapped them just as this stuff started happening and that he just happened to have all the equipment necessary for this kind of stuff just lying around in his lab to be found…” Thomas let his voice trail off.
“You mean that was a set up?” Agent Thomas nodded, and Will continued, “If Drakken didn’t kidnap the Possible twins then who did?” He began to pace the small office, muttering under his breath. Suddenly he stopped and looked at Thomas with new understanding. “It was a set up.” He said excitedly. “The Be-be robots were supposedly involved in the kidnapping--that’s what led us to Drakken. But when we raided Drakken’s lair, there was no sign of the robots at all, just a bunch of cloning equipment and notes.”
“Kim did say that the fight was easier than she had thought it would be.” Wade put in thoughtfully.
“And the absence of the Be-bes would account for that.” Will continued excitedly, “There were a couple of guys on that team who said they thought the machines in the lab were not even hooked up, but I dismissed their comments because I didn’t think they knew what they were talking about… But Betty was in on the raid, she found the evidence that led to the Be-bes…” He looked up at Thomas again, “Her too?” the man nodded, “Then… she’s being set up too, but not as an opponent… as a rival for power!” Will sat down weakly and looked up at Thomas and asked warily, “Who else knows about this?”
“Good.” With that, Will stood up and pointed his pistol at Special Agent Thomas. He was only mildly surprised to find himself looking at the old man’s revolver.
Kim stood at the window watching the sun come up over the Arc de Triomphe. It had become apparent that they were not in the custody of any government or government agency as soon as they arrived at the palatial private residence. Kim had been shown to this comfortable room and then ignored for the rest of the time. Just like on the ‘copter, her physical needs were met, but no one would give her any information about Shego. She had stopped even trying to get answers from anyone several hours ago. Awake only through force of will and copious amounts of caffeine, she drifted in and out of awareness at the window.
“You must be Kim.”
The soft words startled her and she turned so quickly that she lost her balance. Strong hands caught her arm and steadied her until she was able to recover. The woman had a distinctive tattoo around her right eye. She was as tall as Shego and her hair was a dark brownish red. She was older, probably a little older than Kim’s mom, but looked to be in top physical condition. She didn’t have the air of “staff” around her and Kim thought she was finally face to face with her hostess. She held out her hand, “And you must be Fox.”
The woman took her outstretched hand, but instead of shaking it, she held it gently and scrutinized the tired girl from head to toe. Kim felt like she was being examined under a microscope and just when she was feeling uncomfortable, the woman smiled and released her hand. “I don’t see it.” She said.
Kim was nonplussed. “What?”
“Your halo.” The woman gestured toward Kim’s head, “I don’t see it.” She carefully moved Kim to the side and looked at her back, “nor the wings. No halo… no wings… The way Shego talks about you, I thought you’d at least have a halo...”
“Shego talks about me?”
“Constantly. You got a harp somewhere?”
The question didn’t make any sense to her, so Kim ignored it. “Is she going to be okay?”
“She’ll be fine- in a week or so. She has severe second degree burns in some difficult to treat places and some of the burn sites are infected, but she’s a fast healer and she’s in good hands. Would you like to see her?”
Again, Kim endured a searching look, but dismissed her concern as soon as the woman said “Of course, down the hall, third door on your left.”
Fox stood looking at the closed door for several minutes, assimilating the information she had gleaned from the young hero. When she had organized her thoughts she raised her voice slightly and asked, “Did you track this… Lisa Chairman?”
Owen stepped out, seemingly, from nowhere. “Yes.”
“She will no longer pose a threat.”
Fox arched an eyebrow and glanced toward the door Kim had departed through, “Really? I didn’t think the kid had it in her…”
“Ahem, well… I thought it prudent to… finish the job.”
Fox sniffed reflectively and nodded her approval. “The current political situation in the States is bad for business. David and I would very much like it to change. This girl… this young woman,” she corrected herself, “poses a threat to whoever is behind the whole debacle, I want Shego’s young idealist aided in any way we can. Unobtrusively, of course.”
Even though an attempt had been made to mask the equipment, it was still a hospital room. Shego lay in the gel bed, covered with a light sheet that was tented so as not to come in contact with any of her blistered skin. IV tubes and wires for monitoring equipment trailed from the unburned portions of her body and her face was mostly obscured by the apparatus over her mouth. It was supposed to speed the healing of her tongue and soft palate, but Kim was worried that it would remind the pale woman of the gag that Lisa had used. Kim was trying to be cheerful and positive about Shego’s recovery but the pale woman wasn’t making it easy for her. Now she had to leave for a few days and she was hoping for something from the woman before she went to rescue Ron.
Kim walked in and tried to catch Shego’s eye, but the pale woman turned away from her. She walked around to the other side of the bed, but Shego turned away again. “C’mon!” She snapped and instantly regretted it. She spoke again, in a more persuasive tone. “Please, Shego, at least look at me.” Shego closed her eyes and shook her head. Kim sighed; this was going to be harder than she thought. “I’m not sure why you’re upset, and I don’t know why you won’t look at me.” Kim took a deep breath and went over what she wanted to say in her mind one more time. “I think I know why you left. I think it was because I was asking you to change too much and maybe you thought you were losing yourself.” Tentatively she reached out to caress one of the woman’s hands. “I know I come on strong, and I guess I pushed you to be what I wanted instead of who you are.” She swallowed nervously; she really didn’t want to say this next part. “I have to leave for a while. They’ve got Ron. He’s somewhere in Washington D.C. I have to go try to help him.” Shego moved her hand away from Kim’s touch. “I’m sorry, Shego. I’m sorry.”
Kim waited for a few minutes, willing the injured woman to open her eyes and share a glance, at this point she’d even settle for a glare, but Shego kept her head turned away and her eyes closed. “I’ve gotta go. I left a beta unit with your friend, Fox. In case you… change your mind…” Kim kissed her fingers and laid them tenderly on Shego’s temple. “Good bye.” She whispered and walked out of the room. She managed to hold in her sobs until she had closed the door. And because she didn’t trust herself to be able to maintain her composure if she looked back, she didn’t see Shego’s outstretched hand.
Fox was waiting for her in the foyer. “You’re not going to be able to save her, you know.” She said darkly.
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Kim snarled, her red rimmed eyes betraying her recent crying. “You said she was going to be fine!”
“Physically, yes. Emotionally, I’m not sure.” She put her hand on Kim’s shoulder, “I know you, Kim, you’re a hero, you save people. It’s what you do.” Fox continued gently, “But I know her too, and you can’t save her. You can only hold out your hand and hope that she saves herself.”
“I’m Kim Possible, I can do anything.” She wasn’t sure if she was trying to convince Fox or herself.
“I’m telling you, this situation calls for subterfuge and stealth!”
“And I’m telling you that it calls for a frontal assault and public knowledge!” The two antagonists faced each other across the desk, shouting at the top of their lungs, noses about two inches apart.
“Uh, you two aren’t going to draw down on each other again, are you?” They both turned to look at the live picture of Wade.
“No!” they growled in unison. Wade rolled his eyes in relief. Last week they had faced off with guns drawn, and it had taken him nearly half an hour to get the two to where they trusted the other not to be a part of the conspiracy. He was really hoping that they were ready to work together now. Kim hadn’t checked in since reaching Canada and there were indications that she might have been captured. He still didn’t have a lock on Ron’s tracking chip and he needed these two agents to work together if he was going to help his friends.
“They’re starting the arraignment hearing tomorrow. We need to turn over all of our information to the media and get them to spread it for us.”
“Have you watched the news lately?” Thomas said tiredly. “It’s completely controlled by the National Security Force!”
“How do you know that?”
“Because,” Wade broke in, “over the last week, I’ve tracked several stories in the press, and everything that doesn’t follow the NSF party line gets cut before the broadcast. They’re even trying to control the net; anyone who posts something out of line gets their server shut down.”
“Dr. Grain is in charge of all of this. I need to see her in person.”
“Like you said, she’s in charge of all of this. If you walk into a room with her, you’ll be dead before the door closes behind you.”
“I don’t think so, Will. I know Candice from way back, if anyone over there is fighting for the people, it’s her.”
Wade nodded his head. “It’s good strategy to use a front man who doesn’t know what’s really going on until you’ve consolidated power. The weakness of that strategy is that if they find out what’s really going on before you’re ready, they can shut you down.”
“Then let’s bring this stuff to her attention.”
“And if she’s in on it?”
“If she’s one of the people behind this, I’m already dead.” Thomas sighed and began hunting through his pockets for a cigarette, “Like I said, we go way back, if she’s in on it, there’s probably someone on their way over to kill me right now.”
Somehow, Will didn’t find that comforting at all.
That night, someone leaked footage of the interrogations to the media, and hundreds of millions of people around the world watched as Betty Director, her arm in a sling, ranted about “lancing the boil of civilization” and ushering in a utopian age with herself as Empress. She bragged about having clones on every continent and an invincible army of trained agents ready to rise up in revolt at her command. She sounded like a deranged egomaniac, and the coverage of her tirade portrayed her as unstable and very dangerous.
Nearly five thousand people turned up at the courthouse where the hearing was to take place, forming an angry mob that pushed and shoved against the barriers and each other. They shouted invectives at the lawyers for the defense and hurled garbage and rotten fruit at the defendants, as they made their way into the building. Inside it wasn’t much better. The large court room was filled to capacity and TV cameras covered the scene from every angle. Will and agent Thomas watched from his office, Wade watched from his lair. Betty Director continued to stand firm, displaying pride in her actions and insisting, by her demeanor that she was on the right path. Kim seemed to be folded in on herself, crying and saying “I’m sorry” over and over again. Ron just looked confused. Shego seemed to be in fine form, cursing everyone around her and trying to hit, kick or bite anyone who got too close.
When the Bailiff pulled his gun and started toward the defendants, it took several seconds for the crowd to notice. Panic spread through the court room as he advanced on them. People shoved their way toward the doors but those outside knew nothing of what was going on and were still pressing inward. Three other Bailiffs moved in and grappled with the murderous guard, trying to wrest the pistol from his grasp without causing anyone else harm. Two shots rang out. One of the Bailiffs sagged to the ground and Ron Stoppable flew backward and slammed into the jury box, blood pouring from his chest. Nineteen people were hospitalized in the resulting stampede, the hearing was rescheduled.
[End notes: Next Time:
Spilled Milk and Broken Cookies]
Title: Spilled Milk and Broken Cookies
Wade stopped the playback.
“What are you doing?” Kim shouted.
“You’ve seen it enough.” He said gently. When she had contacted him from Go City, he had been very relieved. But she had insisted that he playback the footage from the court room. For the last half hour she had done nothing but watch Ron get shot over and over. He didn’t know what she was looking for, but it was certainly not making her feel any better.
“I have to know where the bullet hit him!” she cried.
“Kim, I’ve analyzed it thoroughly, and I can’t tell-”
“What about other angles? There were more cameras in the court room…”
“I’ve already gone through them, they don’t show anything more. I’ve told you, he’s listed in critical condition at Mercy Hospital.”
“Yeah, but you don’t know it’s him!”
“It can’t be anyone else.” He said soothingly, “He’s the only patient in the high security wing of the hospital... He was admitted twenty minutes after the shooting… it fits, it’s gotta’ be him.”
“Unless he’s dead, and it’s someone else completely.”
Wade sighed inwardly and began a comprehensive scan of the high security wing of the hospital. He knew that tone of voice; she wouldn’t be satisfied until she saw Ron in person. He could get her in to see Ron, but he didn’t think that she would leave without him once she was there. She was choked up with grief and guilt and if he helped her get in, she would probably do something stupid and get captured along with Ron. Steeling himself, he prepared to do something he knew would make her angry when she found out about it. He was going to lie to Kim. “I’m sorry, Kim. I can’t get you inside… the security system is on a separate grid. I don’t have access.”
Wade could tell she was skeptical about it, so he came up with something to keep her mind occupied. “I’m uploading the caravan route that they take from the prison to the court house. Figure out the best place for an ambush, it’ll be our best chance at freeing Ron.” With Kim occupied, he turned his attention to the discussion in agent Thomas’ office.
“…not acting like Kim at all.” Will was saying.
“That’s because it isn’t her.” Wade confirmed. “I just got off the Kimmunicator with the real Kim, she’s holed up in Go City; and according to her, the real Shego was in bad shape lying in a hospital bed when she left Paris last week. That’s not Shego either.”
“Well, no shit! If it was Shego, she would have melted the place, not spent all that time cussing at everyone. So it probably isn’t any of them-”
“Synthodrones don’t bleed when you shoot them, they melt.”
“Does that mean that it’s really Ron?”
“I don’t know what else it could mean.”
“Could they all be clones?”
“Maybe, but clones can’t be programmed the way synthodrones can, and that was definitely not Kim’s personality.”
“Where does that leave us?”
“Ron is Ron. Kim and Shego are synthodrones, and Betty is…”
“I don’t think it’s her.”
“I agree, that’s a clone.”
“Well, you two know her a lot better than I do, I’ll trust your judgment.” Wade turned to his second computer and began typing. “I’m giving you guys the same thing I just sent to Kim, a map of the caravan route. We need to figure out the best place to hit it, so we have the best chance of rescuing Ron.” Agent Thomas cleared his throat. “If you get through to Dr Grain, none of this will be necessary,” Wade conceded, “but I want to make sure I’m ready to go if you don’t come back.”
The agent nodded his head and stubbed out his cigarette. “You’ll know in about three hours.” He gathered up the files they had prepared for the Security Czar and put them into a briefcase. “Wish me luck, gentlemen, it’s been an honor and a pleasure.”
As the door closed behind him, Will turned to Wade’s image and said, “Let’s get plan ‘B’ up and running.” And they went to work.
Bonnie had never felt so alone in her life. Outside her hotel room she could hear people celebrating. Shouting joyfully out of their windows and sharing the glad tidings with those out on the streets that might not have access to a television or radio. One of the terrorists was dead. Some right-thinking nurse or doctor had pulled his plug while he was hospitalized by a gunshot wound. Someone had killed Ron, and they were all rejoicing, whooping at the top of their lungs and dancing in the street. “Ding-Dong, the witch is dead.”
There was a hole inside of her that threatened to consume her. She was alone, in a foreign country, Ron was dead and Kim was on trial for treason. She’d seen her sitting in the court room with her head in her hands, crying and saying she was sorry. And even though Bonnie knew that Kim wasn’t responsible for the attacks, there was a part of her that raged at the red head for involving Ron in her messed up life. Dragging him all over the world, risking his life for people who didn’t care, she had known Kim would get him killed one day, and the day had finally come. He had gone to help Kim and she had gotten him killed. She raised her voice in an anguished howl, venting her rage and frustration verbally. She screamed until her throat was sore, and then collapsed on the couch, sobbing into her pillow.
Fox walked into the room and went over to Shego. “Are you alright?” She was nearly fully healed now, with just a few light bandages on some of the worst of her wounds.
“What the hell do I care, I never liked the little buffoon anyway.” She snarled. “I’m more concerned about that synthodrone of me, if I ever get my hands on Dr. D, I’m gonna rip his head off and shove it up his-”
“Careful moving around, you’re still not a hundred percent.”
“I’m well enough to kill that bastard and all of his friends.”
“I don’t think she’d take too kindly to that.”
“Your little angel, I think she’d be pretty upset if you went on a rampage and started killing-”
“Take a good look around. Do you see her?”
“She’ll come back.”
“I won’t be here.” Fox studied her from half lidded eyes and she met the penetrating gaze full on, defiantly. “I got wrapped around her finger once; I’m not letting it happen again… Don’t just sit there smugly nodding your head, I’m too young to give up my life for someone, no matter how cute they are.” She gave her head a little shake, “I don’t see how you did it.”
“Oh,” Fox smiled predatorily, “I’m still a mercenary, I just use different methods now.” Her face softened, “You should go to her, she’s going to need someone to lean on.”
“She can lean on that nerd of her’s. I’m busy.” The words were harsh, but the timbre of her voice betrayed her true emotions. Fox pretended not to notice and lent what comfort she could to her former pupil, now friend.
“Miss Possible…? Kimberly…” Will spoke softly, trying not to startle the woman sitting distraught on the bed, there was no response. He reached out and gently touched her shoulder and several seconds later she turned her head toward him. Her mouth moved a few times but no sound came out. “Come with me, I’ll take you to a safe house.” She shook her head, weakly, mouthing the word no. Will picked up his communicator, “Wade, she’s almost catatonic. I’m going to have to carry her. Can you have Sadie meet us in the alley?”
The normally exuberant teen, was subdued. He listlessly put down his soda and typed a command into the computer, “You’re linked directly now, Will.”
“Wade…?” Kim mumbled.
“I’m taking you to him, Miss Possible.”
“They killed Ron.”
“We know.” He picked up her unresisting form and carried her out of the room and shut the door. Several minutes later, a window opened and a shadow poured into the room. It glided around, briefly inspecting the mussed bed and the few personal items that had been left behind. When it was apparent that the room was now empty, and the occupant would not be returning, the shadow glided back out the window and closed it from outside.
Dr. Grain looked over her glasses at the old man sitting across from her. She shuffled the stacks of paper he had presented to her and glanced through one of the documents once more. “This is a serious accusation, Jim.” She pulled out one sheet of paper and held it up. “On this list is a former Speaker of the House, the current head of the FBI and the Vice President... I can’t just walk into the West Wing and arrest the VP, now can I?”
“Actually, under the provisions of the Security Protocol, you can.” He said evenly.
She sat back in her chair and studied him through narrowed eyes. “Before I take any actions, I’m going to want to verify this independently…”
“If you do, you’ll be dead before you find anything out.” He kept his voice and body language neutral. “These people are moments away from implementing a total dictatorship in the United States. All the stuff with Global Justice and those kids is slight of hand to distract you.”
“So, I can prevent a totalitarian government by taking unilateral action against the people who want to set it up… kind of ironic.”
“They’re the ones who set the trap, I think it’s only fitting that you use it to catch them.”
After Agent Thomas left, Dr. Grain spent almost half an hour deep in thought, referring occasionally back to the mound of evidence he had brought her, and making notes. Finally, she called in her secretary and arranged another meeting. She was standing at a crossroads in history. The actions she took today would shape a nation, possibly the world for generations to come. As the men and women she had called on filed into the room, she allowed herself a moment of regret that Thomas would have to die, then turned her full attention to creating a new world.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I have just received irrefutable evidence of a vast conspiracy stretching all the way to the West Wing. It seems that someone wants to set themselves up as the absolute ruler of the United States. We’re going to stop them.” She began handing out notes to each of them. “Unfortunately, stopping this is going to leave a power vacuum at the highest levels of our government.”
“Who’s going to step in?”
Shego sat watching the replay of the explosion on the news. She paused the broadcast and hit the eight-second button again. Her face was clearly visible in the shot and then the bus was engulfed in the explosive flames once more. She paused it again. Rewind. Pause. Her face... plainly visible in the window… then, a huge fireball. She pushed play and let it run.
<click>…ead. The three remaining bio-terrorists were loaded onto the bus at exactly nine oh six a.m. The Justice Department has not released a statement yet regarding how the bus was bombed, but the general consensus from the public is one of relief. There is no possibility that these depraved terrorists will escape justice now. We now join Kitty at the scene of the... <click>
“How does it feel to be dead?”
“Like there’s a hole in my gut, and I’m falling into it.”
“It wasn’t her on that bus, any more than it was you-”
“You don’t know that! I don’t know that!” Shego screamed. “I should have been there…”
Fox held the beta unit out to her but Shego felt a strange reluctance to taking it. As long as she didn’t have confirmation, she could believe that Kim was still alive. She could walk away right now, and Kim would always be alive. Vibrant, healthy, perhaps married… maybe with children… She’d be a great mother. If she kept her hands at her sides and walked away, Kim could be alive. Tears streaming down her face, she reached for the device.
“Your ride will be there in about five minutes.”
“Is he going to take us where we want to go or knock us out and turn us in for the reward money?” Her voice was full of bitterness.
“That’s not fair, Kim. I-”
She interrupted him, “I don’t want to hear-”
“Miss Possible, you’re not being fair to the boy.” Will tried to calm her.
“He got Ron killed.”
“Wade didn’t have any control over-”
“Wade got him the ride. Wade kept me from going to the hospital.” She turned an accusatory eye to the former GJ agent, “Now who do you suppose is responsible for his death?”
“Greedy mercenaries who will do anything for enough money and overzealous vigilantes,” Will replied evenly, “not a grief stricken friend who is still willing to give you his help and support while you heap scorn on him for something he had no control over.”
Kim sniffed disdainfully. “If I’d been there in the hospital, Ron would still be alive.”
“If you had been in the hospital, you would both be dead. I fail to see how that would be an improvement.” Will said coldly.
They boarded the jet in silence. Kim spent the entire trip ignoring Will and everyone else on the cargo plane, ostensibly studying the schematics of the lair she and Will were going to storm. At the designated spot, they jumped from the plane and unfurled their gliders. As they glided past the familiar beach and over the Turner’s hotel resort, Kim tried to let go of her anger and pain. Stopping Gemini and Dr. Director wasn’t about revenge for Ron’s death; it was about making sure the world was safe. Will was right, Wade had done everything that he could to make sure they would be able to stop the evil, if she lost track of that and let her anger control her, she would be dishonoring Ron’s memory.
She allowed herself a moment of reflection and pictured Ron’s goofy grin. She remembered Ron in a series of snapshots; his mouth crammed full with a Naco, Beaming over the top of the podium at his Bar Mitzvah, Arms raised in victory in the middle of Drakken’s self-destructing laboratory, Dancing enthusiastically in his Middleton Mad Dog’s costume, High Fiving Rufus… Rufus… her mind stopped there, she and Wade would have to find out what happened to Rufus… She and Wade… Wade… She was being very unfair to Wade.
As she lit on the ground she thought about the day eight years ago when she had first come to this place. She had been eager and willing to start a new phase in her life, excited at the chance to do something for her country. Now she was back to put an end to the scheming and pain that emanated from this vile location and the people behind it all. She had come full circle. She looked at Will standing beside her and pulled the Kimmunicator out of her pocket. She could try to heal a little bit of the pain right now.
“What’s the sitch, Wade?”
“There’s a lot of activity inside, power and energy fluctuations all over the place, but there are no alarms. They changed the codes since the last time you were here, but I’ve overridden the lock at your entrance.” His eyes were puffy from crying but his voice was steady. “You’re all clear, Kim.”
“Thanks. And, Wade…”
“Pardon to interrupt, Rockwarer-san.”
Bonnie screamed and jumped up. Facing her was a short… person of indeterminate gender clothed from head to toe in flowing black pajamas. “Who the hell are you, and what do you want with me?”
The ninja reached for her menacingly. “I will make you to join with Stoppable-san.”
“Like hell you will!” Bonnie picked up the nearest thing she could reach, a table lamp, and began swinging it at the black clad intruder. “You stay away from me! I’m not gonna' just sit here and let you kill me too!” One of her swings took the lamp to the end of its cord and it jerked out of her hands. She started picking things up at random and throwing them at the intruder. She never saw the second ninja behind her and never even knew that she had been darted. As she lost consciousness she heard babbling in a language she didn’t understand.
*What did you say to her?*
*I told her that we would bring her to Mr. Stoppable.*
*I thought she liked Mr. Stoppable, why would she not want to join him?*
*I don’t know; American women are weird. Let’s take her back anyway, and if she wants to leave, I’m sure Sensei will allow it.*
*I hope she decides to stay, she has the spirit of a great warrior... and she is also nice to look at.*
[End notes: Next Time:
New Friends and Old Habits]
Title: Old Freinds and new habits
Senor Senior Sr. finished his morning ablutions and proceeded to the kitchen in his usual manner. The sight of Shego sitting casually at his breakfast table flanked by three men in dark suits was surprising but he covered well. “Ah, Good morning Ms. Shego. May I say it is with great joy that I find you hale and whole. To what do I owe the honor of your presence on this fine morning?” Her glare was really quite impressive.
“They tortured me, Senior.” Her voice dripped with menace.
That surprised him anew, “The police tortured you?”
“They turned me over to a sadistic bitch named Lisa Chairman-”
“Surely you cannot think I had a hand in…” He stopped and dropped his head. “I believe I understand, you have been done a great injustice, precipitated by my actions against you, and you have come here to subject me to the same indignities you experienced?”
Shego looked genuinely shocked. “Hell no! I’m not a freakin’ psychopath.”
“I am sure you and your companions have not traveled all this way just to tell me you forgive me for my part in this unpleasantness.”
Shego smiled. Senor Senior Sr. had been through two wars, dealt with politicians, assassins, mercenaries and lawyers, but this smile was quite possibly the most frightening thing he had ever seen. A shiver ran down his spine and he desperately thought of a way to get to his escape craft. He would have to play along until he could lure them all into the lounge where he would have access to his defense control console. He changed his grip on his cane so that he could swing it better if they did attack him physically.
“No, I haven’t come to forgive you. I have come to exact my revenge and to that end I offer you this gift.” She pushed a large manila envelope across the table toward him. “My companions, by the way, are Agent Dewey, Agent Cheedim and Agent Howe.”
Shego shook her head.
Her head shook again and her smile got bigger and, if possible, even more frightening.
“I don’t understand.”
“Just open the envelope, old man.”
With shaking fingers, Senor Senior Sr. opened the envelope and glanced through the contents. “These are citizenship papers…” He looked at her with genuine confusion, “You have made me a citizen of the United States…?”
“Ahem, those papers show that you’ve always been a citizen of the United States.”
“Ms. Shego, forgive an old man his confusion but I still do not understand how this will accomplish your revenge.”
Shego stood up and walked toward the door. “These men are agents of the IRS.” She nodded at the three dark suited men, “They are here to talk to you about fifty odd years of back taxes, plus interest, penalties and fines...” Her smile returned, “And I’ve made sure that they have access to all of your financial records. Have a nice day.”
She left him alone with the taxmen. They were all smiling; he could practically see their hands rubbing together in glee.
Kim used the weight of her body to add momentum to the henchman in her grasp and sent him careening across the room where he ran head first into his compatriot who was trying to sneak up behind Will. Two more down, she thought, only twenty to go. It was getting harder to maneuver in here with all the piles of unconscious thugs, but somehow she managed. Spin… duck… kick… dodge… punch-punch-twist-kick… flip… back-flip-kick… counter… spin-kick… and… pirouette… body-slam! Done! She paused to take a look around the room. Only she and Will were standing. There was an occasional moan from one of the piles but no one was going to be coming after them soon.
“Nice moves there Will.” She was beginning to appreciate why he was… had been, she corrected herself, GJ’s top agent. “This way!”
“Are you sure?” he hesitated, “It would seem more likely to find the control room over that way…”
“I trained here for years, Will. I think I know where the top dog hangs out.”
They burst into the open command center to find Betty and Sheldon Director behind a squad of elite fighters. “The Chief is mine!” Kim snarled and launched herself over the heads of the guards. As she landed in front of Dr. Director, she caught a glimpse of Will taking down two of the guards with his stop-watch. After that, she was too busy defending herself to worry about anything other than the Chief.
“You were never a match for me, Kimmie.” The words were harsh and the tone condescending. Kim fell back under the Chiefs brutal onslaught. “Always looking for approval, always following me around, wanting a gold star, never a true soldier.”
Kim tried to counter attack but the Chief was too fast. Every time she tried to go on the offensive, the older woman batted her attack aside like it was nothing. Desperately she defended herself and slowly lost ground to the relentless physical and verbal assault. The Chief was landing blow after blow through Kim’s defenses. Already her chest and forearms were sore and bruised. The Chief was just powering through her defenses; nothing was stopping her. Kim felt self doubt creeping up into her mind. She had never been able to defeat the Chief, she didn’t know how. The Chief was stronger, faster and more experienced, it was hopeless. Why had she even tried to come here?
The Chief maneuvered her into the small spaces between the consoles; she tried to escape to the open area in front of the main view screen but was cut off at every turn. And the Chief’s hateful monologue continued, eroding her confidence and breaking her spirit. Her head snapped back and she felt the muscles in her neck stretch as the Chief landed an uncontested blow to her face. She slid across the floor and smashed into one of the consoles. When she opened her eyes, the Chief was standing over her. The one eyed woman picked her up by the front of the shirt and glared at her.
“This wasn’t even a fight.” She spat in Kim’s face. “You’re embarrassing, always have been, hanging out with losers and punks, never had the instinct, never had the guts.” She pulled out a length of piano wire. “After this, I’m gonna go kill your green-skinned freak of a girlfriend. My only regret is that I didn’t pull the plug on your little dork of a sidekick myself.”
Kim felt a rage building up inside her. Ron had always been there for her. Her one true friend. Always ready to cover her back, always ready with a flip comment and a goofy grin. She had never let anyone put him down in her hearing while he was alive and she was going to be damned if she would let this psycho bitch do it when he was dead. She reached up and grabbed the hand holding her shirt; she began to squeeze. She concentrated all of her rage into that hand. “You think I’m gonna let you kill my girl friend?” she hissed, still concentrating on squeezing. “You think I’m gonna let you take over the world?” She asked a little louder. The Chief’s eyes were darting to her hand, now encapsulated by Kim’s and the bones were starting to grind together. “You think I’m gonna roll over and die for you?” She was shouting now, and slowly rising to her feet. The Chief’s eyes were round with fear and her free hand waved aimlessly. “You think I’m gonna sit here and listen to you bad mouth my friends?”
Kim could feel the sharp ends of the broken bones in the Chief’s hand poking into her palm. She ground them together and watched the Chief pass out. She turned to see that Will had taken care of the guards but somehow Gemini had a gun to his head. “Release my sister or I kill him.”
“Give it up, Gemini.” Kim gasped out. “There’s an entire battalion of Marines and Navy Seals camped-out outside this place, just waiting for my signal to come in and take you.”
“Ha! I don’t believe you, Kim Possible! I have monitors all over this area, if there were that many troops out there, I’d know about it.”
“Would you believe a troop of Airborne Rangers and a division of the National Guard?” Will dead panned.
Gemini looked confused and Kim tried not to laugh. “Would you believe a mall cop and a well trained poodle?” She added with a giggle.
Gemini’s expression hardened. “I do not think you will find it so funny when you are cleaning up his brains, Miss Possible…” He cocked the gun and from the doorway there came an echoing ominous metallic sound of a bullet being chambered into a gun. It was followed by many similar sounds and a squad of fully armored Marines filed into the room.
“You had it right the first time, Miss Possible. Your friend on the computer hacked into their system and allowed us to surround the place with, well not quite a battalion, but close enough.”
Gemini looked around the room that was suddenly full of Marines pointing automatic rifles at him, and let go of Will. “I give up.” He said, dropping the gun and putting his hands over his head. The Marines moved in and began cuffing everyone.
“Miss Possible…?” The Marine commander walked up to where she was helping Will to his feet, looking decidedly uncomfortable. “My orders are to bring you in as well…” His eyes shifted from side to side and he scratched his head. “But if you were to… say… knock me down and run for the exit right behind me, I’m sure that any pursuit would be delayed for a few minutes while my men made sure I was alright.” He coughed nervously. Kim exchanged glances with Will.
“Why would you-”
“My nephew told me how you took care of him when he was brain-switched with that Dr. Drakken fellow… and I know you wouldn’t do any of those things they say about you.” He looked around again, “Do it now, Okay?”
Kim exchanged another quick glance with Will, raised one eyebrow and gave a little shrug. They pushed past the commander, who made a big show about falling into a heap and screaming bloody murder. He also managed to put himself into the line of fire between his troops and their retreating backs until they were safely through the doorway. Once topside, they ran smack into a man wearing pilot’s wings. He grabbed her shirt and pointed toward an attack copter sitting unattended about fifty feet away. “Take that one!” he yelled. “Compliments of Mrs. Xanatos.”
Surprised once more but unwilling to look a gift horse in the mouth, She and Will climbed in. “You know how the fly this thing?” she asked.
“AH-1W Super Cobra,” He said crisply, “It’s a little older but I can handle it.” He twisted around to look at her, “How do you know David Xanatos?”
Kim shrugged. It was the first time she’d heard the name. As they took off, she could see the pilot acting out an exaggerated pantomime of being overcome for the Marines that were coming out of the complex.
Anne Possible clung to Jim’s arm. Her fingernails dug into his skin, even through the thick denim jacket he was wearing, but he barely noticed the discomfort. The last three days had been a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Ron’s death had been devastating, and James thought he couldn’t feel any worse until the news of Kim’s death reached them the next day. Wade’s call, letting them know that Kim was alive had lifted their burden for a moment and offered hope that Ron was OK as well, but that hope was soon dashed. Now, they stood outside together waiting for the taxi that was supposed to bring their daughter to them and Anne’s fingers were tightening every time a taxi passed without stopping. She was late by nearly half an hour. Anne refused to let herself feel anything until she saw Kim and held her in her arms. At least that’s what she told herself, but with each passing minute, she became more convinced that somehow, she was going to have to live through the agony of losing her daughter once more.
When the taxi slowed in front of them, she wrenched open the door before it fully stopped and pulled Kim into her arms. The next half hour was a blur of touching and crying. Even the twins let down their guard and joined in the hugging. Kim was passed from family member to family member as they each reassured themselves and her that she was alive and with them. She spent some of that time apologizing for the delay; she hadn’t understood the Japanese address system and had asked the driver to take her to Chuo District instead of Chuo Ward.
About eight hundred kilometers away in Sapporo, a similar reunion was taking place. There was no less joy in the reunion, and no less grief for the loss of a beloved friend, but there was significantly more cheese, and due to injuries, there were no exuberant physical displays. The family contented themselves with holding hands and crying on each other in relief.
Bonnie wasn’t happy. For what seemed like days she had been bound and blindfolded while everyone around her spoke in a language she didn’t understand. She heard Ron’s name several times and her own, but no one would answer her questions. She thought she was being passed from one group to another at regular intervals because while the language stayed the same, the voices changed. Finally she was escorted into a cold room and forced into a chair. Her bonds were cut and her blindfold removed. She found herself staring into the smiling face of a short Asian man.
“Who the hell are you and what do you want with me?” She screamed at him.
“Ah, Lockwallah-san, you are awake.”
Her breath caught in her throat and she stood so suddenly that she almost lost consciousness. “R-Ron?”
“Welcome to Yamanuchi.” He was pale and drawn but there was no mistaking that goofy smile or those ears. “I understand you tried to show Taka-san the way of the light…” He was grinning that ‘I just made a funny joke’ grin and she wasn’t sure what he was talking about. Realizing he had lost her, Ron continued, “He said you attacked him with a table lamp when he told you he was going to bring you to me… And here I thought you liked me.” The sly look in his eyes let her know he was teasing.
Everything she tried to say caught in her throat. She pulled him up out of his chair and held him tightly. “Easy, Bon-Bon,” He croaked, “My chest is still a little sore.”
“I thought you were dead.” She sobbed. “I thought they were going to kill me too.”
“I thought I was dead too. After I got shot, a nurse came into my hospital room and woke me up. Started talking about how she was going to kill me for the good of all mankind, how she’d never be convicted because she’d be a hero… Then she kinda fell over and I saw Yori standing behind her.” Something about the way he said Yori’s name raised an alarm in her mind but she was too relieved to know that he was alive to care. The pain in his eyes answered her unspoken question about Kim.
“I would never have pegged you for an acrophile.”
Kim glanced over at the pale thief with a confused expression.
“Someone who loves heights and climbing.”
Kim looked around. From the top of the Izumi Garden Tower, she could see all of Tokyo. There were taller buildings, but she usually picked this one to climb, primarily because she could take the train to the basement. “I can think while I’m up here.”
Shego walked over and sat down next to the red head, feet dangling over the two hundred meter drop. “What are you thinking about?”
Shego put a comforting hand on Kim’s arm. “He might still-”
Kim closed her eyes and pulled away, “Don’t say it!” she said sharply. “Let me deal with reality.”
“Trying to offer me hope?” Her green eyes blazed for a moment, “I don’t want hope. I want Ron.”
“Is that all you want?” Shego said it casually, but there was tension in her demeanor.
“No.” Kim sighed, “but it’s top of the list of things I’ll never have again.”
“Never is a long time.”
“More hope?” Kim asked bitterly.
“Is it such a bad thing?”
They sat in uneasy silence for a while. Tears dripped from Kim’s eyes, blurring the lights of Roppongi spread out below them. Finally she asked, “Was I so horrible to live with?”
Shego snorted dismissively, “No. I enjoyed every minute we spent together.”
“Even when we were fighting?”
“Especially when we were fighting.” Shego laughed. Then she took a deep breath and let it out slowly, “But I felt like I was in a cage. Schedules… bosses… rules… paperwork… all designed to pin me down and hold me in place.” She got up and began pacing along the parapet, “You live with those conditions, you thrive in them, but me, I gotta’ be free!”
“For you.” The pale woman put a hand on Kim’s shoulder. “I don’t want to live like that, Kitten, but I don’t want to give you up either.”
Kim stood and faced her, searching her face for some sign of deception or hedging, and finding only naked truth. “Where do we go from here?”
“I hear Toshimaen is nice, after that…? Who knows?”
[End notes: Next Time:
Bonnie stood just inside the archway, partially concealed by the shadows. Ron and Yori stood in the center of the small courtyard facing each other, unmoving, right hands touching at the palms. They seemed almost casual but Bonnie was able to pick up the clues of the battle that raged between them. A bead of sweat rolled down Ron’s cheek. Yori’s big toe twitched rhythmically. She focused on a point past the two combatants and tried to let her peripheral vision take in their essence like Sensei was teaching her.
Life was hard in the remote school, but it was also very rewarding to those who put forth the effort. As she studied the ways of Yamanuchi, she found inside of herself the strength to eschew the opinions of others and rely on her own judgment. Over time she had been able to accept Ron’s connection to Yori and to understand that her need for him had been rooted in her own self doubt. Ron had been the first person to ever put her welfare above his own, without obligation and without compensation. She understood now, that it was a part of him to be selfless and now she understood her own motivations well enough to let him go.
She searched her feelings for some remnant of jealousy about Ron and Yori, and she found a twinge, just on the edge of her conscious mind. Relaxing her body and mind, she focused, as Sensei had taught her, and chased the emotion down, grasping it and bringing it out into the light of her conscious mind so she could truly examine it. She yearned for a bond like the one shared by Ron and Yori, like the one Ron had shared with Kim, but she knew she would never be able to forge one with him. Desiring such a bond was not harmful, as long as she understood it would have to be with someone else. Maybe that cute Takahiro would be interested in one.
Her first year would be over soon, and she would be allowed a week away from the school. Ron had invited her to nearby Sapporo, where his family now lived. He had invited her to spend a week with them and catch up with the news of the world. She laughed at herself, if anyone had told her that she could go a year without television or e-mail, she would have said they were insane. Looking back on the past year, it seemed so natural to ignore the outside world and concentrate only on developing her self. She briefly wondered about what was going on back home, wondering how Kim’s family was dealing with their loss, perhaps she would try to find them and offer her condolences when she was in Sapporo.
She let the feeling of sadness go and just then, caught a glimpse of the aura surrounding the two combatants. It came into focus so suddenly and surprisingly that she lost her concentration and gasped out loud. She was somewhat amused to realize that she had drawn attention to herself, not from Ron and Yori, but from other students who had taken up unobtrusive observation points around the courtyard. She concentrated, on blending back in with her surroundings, not hiding, but relaxing and becoming an essential part of the shadows in the archway.
“Very good, Lockwallah-san” Sensei’s voice came from behind her right ear. She levitated about a foot into the air and let out a little scream. “Tsk-tsk-tsk, you still have much to learn about paying attention. Truly, it is said that the harmonious mind is a boon to the horn section of the soul.”
In the courtyard, Ron burst out laughing and bowed in concession to Yori. Whereupon Rufus popped out of his pocket and chittered, “brekfiss!”
Jim Thomas walked slowly down the street thinking that Heinlein was right; Christchurch was one of the loveliest cities on the planet. He finished his errands and met Wade in the Apollo’s Coffee House downtown. Life in the southern hemisphere had been good for the boy. He was still pretty short and stocky but now most of the bulk was obviously muscle.
“Good to see you, Wade.”
“You too, Mr. Thomas. Have you heard from Dr. Grain?”
“Yeah, she says that she’s almost done cleaning house, and she feels like she’ll be ready to hand control back over to the President and Congress in a few months.” He tried to keep the sarcasm out of his voice.
“That’s what she said a few months ago, isn’t it?” Wade asked, “And a few months before that, I don’t think she’s ever going to give it up.”
“You’re probably right. I think that once a person finds themselves with that kind of power, it takes a super-human effort to let it go. Still, as dictators go, she’s not a bad one.”
“She tried to kill you.”
“Yeah, but not very hard.” Wade chuckled at that, and Thomas continued, “She put an end to that crap that Sheldon and Betty Director cooked up--Fifteen clones she had running around--and busted everyone involved.”
“I hear you’re still keeping your hand in.”
“People stop by from time to time, and I tell ‘em what I know. They seem to find it helpful, and who am I to argue?” He rummaged around in his coat for a few moments for a smoke. “Mr. Du stopped by last week, has some new scheme to overthrow the system and restore the people’s rights.” His voice trailed off
“You don’t think it will work?”
“Nah, people aren’t unhappy enough. They’ve still got their ‘Endurer’ and their ‘American Icon,’ who needs freedom?” There was a wistful note in his voice. “What about you? How’s your friend, Kim?”
“Haven’t talked to her in a while, she’s doing alright though, changed her name and joined the British Civil Defense’s International Search and Rescue Team. She’s actually running her own crew.”
“Sounds like a good gig for her. How’s cyberspace?”
Wade grinned, “Haven’t spent much time there lately, I’m getting into anthropology, I’ve discovered a whole new species… girls!”
Thomas laughed and picked up his cup, “To a lifetime of study.” He toasted.
“I’ll drink to that.”
It was an ordinary hotel room. Two double beds, a TV, a couple of comfortable chairs and a few crappy paintings. The setting sun elongated the shadows and eventually they took over the room. The air conditioner hummed, occasionally clicking off for a while, then coming back on with a buzz and a loud clunk. During one of these cycles there was an extra noise, a soft noise, like the sound of a small kitten jumping off of a chair onto a thick pile carpet. A few moments later, one of the shadows flowed across the room and blended into the curtains.
“It’s no use hiding, Kitten. I’m already here.”
“Damn!” but the reply was filled with laughter. Kim turned on the lamp near her and looked over at Shego lounging on the bed. “I know you weren’t there when I came in…” She glanced around the room, trying to figure out where the pale thief had been hiding.
“Trade secret my dear, I’ll never tell.” She got up as Kim came over and they embraced. “Hmmm, you feel good, Kitten.”
“So do you.” They held the embrace for a few minutes and released each other in stages. Finally they stood close to each other hands on the other’s elbows and gazed at each other as if they hadn’t seen one another for months, mostly because they hadn’t. It was Shego who broke the embrace this time.
“Champagne’s not getting any colder…” she said impishly, tilting her head at the bucket. “Missed you in Nome.”
Kim laid a hand on the pale woman’s arm, “I’m sorry hon. I was caught up in Yugoslavia and I couldn’t get away in time to make our rendezvous.”
“You think I don’t know about that, Ms. Domitable? Really, Kitten… Jen Domitable…? Can’t you come up with a simple name?”
“Me Jane.” Kim grunted.
“Chya! Jane... D’oh!” Shego teased. “And, you really should be charging these people…”
“Hey! They gave me a car… you think I should be a cut-throat, cold-blooded snake?”
“Yes...” Shego drew out the word, letting the ‘s’ fade out gradually.
“Like the way you moved all of that art from the Security Czar’s private collection to the public display at the Louvre?”
“I’ll have you know I made a lot of money on that deal…”
“I also know you turned down about ten times what you made…”
“I guess you’re a bad influence on me, Kitten.”
They moved to the balcony and sat down together, looking out over the Singapore skyline. Conversation was easy and comfortable, full of light touches and friendly banter. Each of them smiling easily and laughing effortlessly. The transition from conversation to loving was natural and unforced; they enjoyed each other for the rest of the night, interspersing catching up and heating up as the mood took them. As dawn began to penetrate their idyll, Shego and Kim rested, enjoying the tactile bliss of skin on skin and the scent of a recent lover.
Kim broke their reverie, “Do you think we’ll ever be able to have a normal relationship?”
Shego snorted, “Define normal, Princess.”
“You know what I mean.”
“I’m not sure, hon. Neither one of us is normal. You’re an international search and rescue team leader and I’m an infamous art smuggler, why should we have a normal relationship?” She cupped Kim’s face in her hand. “We both agreed, I’m not going to stop stealing and you’re not going to start—let me finish.” She held up a hand. “I have never met anyone who completes me the way you do, and without being egotistical I can claim the same for you. But we’ll never be happy under the same roof. For right now, we can just love each other and go our separate ways, until the next time we meet.”
“What if you meet someone else?”
“How many people have you met over the past year?”
“About a thousand, or so.”
“Any of them compare to me?”
Kim blushed, “None of them even came close.”
“It’s the same for me, Kitten. I don’t think there’s anyone else out there that can come close to you. And if the only way I can have a piece of you is to wait a few months between visits, then that’s the way it’s gotta be.” She got up and walked over to her pouch. “Who knows, Maybe one day I’ll wake up and decide I want to be a hero…” She pulled a small envelope out and turned back to Kim with a mischievous grin, “Of course, maybe you’ll decide to come over to the dark side.”
Kim shook her head, “I don’t think so.”
“I have something special for you.” Shego had a tinge of uncertainty in her voice. “Please don’t be mad at me for not giving you this last night.”
“What is it?”
Kim folded her arms and dropped her face into the dreaded puppy dog pout. But as soon as she started, Shego closed her eyes and ran to the bathroom, closing the door behind her. Even though her victim was out of sight, Kim didn’t let up.
“How in the hell do you do that?”
“Do what?” Kim pouted.
“Project that… thing… into a closed room? Nevermind!” Shego threw open the door and with one hand covering her eyes, held out the envelope to Kim, who snatched it and ran over to the bed to open it. Two photographs of a handsome blonde man with a goofy grin fell out onto the bed.
Kim held them like they were going to shatter under the slightest pressure. “Wh… W… When were these taken?” she stuttered in a whisper.
“About a month ago,” Shego said quietly. “and only about a thousand kilometers from where your parents live now.”
“Why did you wait until…?”
“Because you’re going to rush out and go find him right now. I’m willing to cut our tryst short so you can go find your boyfriend, but I’m selfish enough to want at least one whole night with you.”
Kim caught Shego’s face and brought it close for a soft kiss. “Thank you.”
“Uh, Kitten…?” Shego said as Kim opened the door.
“You might want to get dressed first.”
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