Story: If You Build a Better Monkey (chapter 15)

Authors: Allaine

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Chapter 15

Title: Chapter Fifteen

[Author's notes:

First of all, this story in its entirety is dedicated to Rina Cat, because I know for a fact that some of you began reading these stories only after you were introduced to them by her wonderful fan art at the DeviantArt website. For that reason, I thank her.

Second, yes, Wade's prototype suit is a reference to the outfit Kim wore in "So The Drama".

Third, this story was conceived prior to my watching the third season episode "Gorilla Fist". Any similarities between this story and that episode are purely coincidental.

Fourth, Juliet Newcastle and the Snake Charmer are inspired by Julie Newmar's Catwoman from the 1960s Batman TV series, which was of course the foundation for the "Fearless Ferret" episode.

Lastly, here's the summary for the final story.

In the sixth and final chapter of the Unacceptable Sitch series, Kim is asked by her country to boldly go where no one has gone before after Gemini and WEE threaten the very planet Earth itself from a secret moon base. But this time Team Possible won't be alone.

However, I will be finishing the story Undercurrent prior to starting work on "Under the Milky Way Tonight".


If You Build a Better Monkey 15

Author: Allaine

Spoilers: Takes place after "But for the Grace of Ron".

Feedback: Some of you have been extremely helpful, and I hope you'll continue to do so. New reader opinions are encouraged too!

Disclaimers: Kim Possible, Ron Stoppable, Shego, Wade, and all other characters from the Kim Possible television series belong to Disney, its television production arm, and the creators and producers of the animated series. All original characters are my invention. I seek no profit from writing this, and expect none.

Chapter 15

Ron didn't realize things were strange until he fell backwards and broke through something.

Once he discovered he was lying on his back in a dark hallway with pieces of a paper-like substance on either side of him, then he knew. Strange.

"I knew I shouldn't have had that hospital burrito, Rufus," he said, patting his pants pocket.

It took him a second or two to find that the reassuring bulge created by a tiny sleeping rodent was gone. The other pocket was similarly flat. Rufus and Ruby were gone.

"Rufus!" Ron called, stumbling to his feet. "Ruby!" He ran blindly in the dark, heading toward a rectangle of dim light.

The light turned out to be moonlight shining through a frail door like the one he'd already broken. He broke this one too, as he accidentally ran into it.

"All right, getting tired of those!" he cried out.

Once he was outside, however, he understood why things were so different - including the doors. Ron had been here once, years ago in high school.

He was in the courtyard of the secret Yamanouchi school in Japan.

"Sayonara, United States," he murmured.

"Good evening, Stoppable-san."

Grappling hooks had been stealing his pants for years, but now he almost jumped out of them. "Gah!" he screamed, leaping around.

"I apologize. I did not wish to frighten you," the old Japanese man said.

"Sensei?" Ron asked, staring at him. "How did I get here?"

"I do not believe 'here' is what it appears to be," his temporary sensei said. "The last thing I remember doing was retiring for a short nap."

"So this is a dream, right?" Ron asked.

"It would appear so," Sensei replied.

"Thought so."

"Of course, I seem to be having the same dream. Which doesn't usually occur." The Sensei looked at him piercingly. "Is there something you wanted to talk to me about?"

Ron blinked. "Dude, I mean Sensei, if I could control my dreams, I would have had those 'naked in math class' nightmares a LOT less frequently. Maybe once just for the novelty of it, but that's it!"

"Then it must have been your Mystical Monkey Power, Stoppable-san."

"Can't be that," Ron told him. "I don't have it any more."

Sensei raised an eyebrow. "Indeed? And how did you come to this conclusion?"

Ron summarized the events of the past day, culminating in his fight with Monkey Fist. "And let's face it," he finished. "The Monkey Man knows a lot more about Monkey Power than I do. I mean, he built his very own temple!"

Sensei sighed. "Lord Fiske was once a very great man, Stoppable-san," he said. "His education, his bravery, his dedication to the monkey arts - he could have been a great Monkey Master. But his ambition and greed corrupted him, and now he has become utterly insane. At times I can almost feel his madness moving through the air like waves, when he is delving too deeply into what he should not. That being said, he does not understand the Power as well as he thinks he does."

"Why not?" For some reason, Ron had a bad feeling about this.

"He believes the Power rests inside its host like a flame inside a lantern, or liquid in a vessel. He need only draw it out, and it is his. The Power is nothing like this," Sensei explained, as one hand emerged from the overflowing sleeves of his robe. He placed it on Ron's chest, as Ron stood motionless.

"Your Power is here," Sensei said, "and it is not. It is here, and here, and HERE." His hand moved, briefly touching Ron's arm, than his forehead. "It is everywhere, in truth. Stoppable-san, when the Power entered your body, it became a PART of your body. Lord Fiske could no more remove the Power than he could remove your heart - "

"I think Monkey Fist would love to remove my heart," Ron said anxiously. "And the rest of my organs."

"I mean your heart in the literal sense," Sensei corrected him. "Your soul. The necklace around your neck might as well have tried to take your sense of humor."

"Well, good thing it didn't!" Ron said. "He can have the Power. But the sense of humor stays with me."

"Stoppable-san," Sensei replied quietly, "why do you fear this Power so? I realize that you do not exactly enjoy the company of apes, but - "

"It's not that," Ron sighed. "I mean, you tangle with monkey ninjas enough times, and you learn to live with the fear. When someone mentions monkeys and I overreact, it's more of an old habit than anything else."

"Then why does it trouble you? The Power is a blessing as well as a responsibility."

"Like you just said, it's the responsibility," Ron said.

"You assist in saving the world on a weekly basis. You recovered the Lotus Blade when you were only in high school. I have never found you to be someone who shirks responsibility."

Ron looked down. "I'm just - I'm afraid of how it's going to change my life. I do good things, great things, the way things are now. Becoming the Monkey Master, it's going to change everything."

Sensei nodded slightly. "Why don't you tell me what you want?"

"What I want?" Ron asked. "I want to help Kim. I want to support her. What I don't want is for the roles to be reversed."

"I do not understand."

"Well, what happens when I become a full-fledged Monkey Master?" Ron asked plaintively. "Kim doesn't have super powers. What if I become - better than her?"

Sensei rubbed his beard. "Lord Fiske was too ambitious. Perhaps you are not enough."

"It's not that. Believe me, I want to be the best fighter I can be," Ron said. "I've had this role for years, and it suits me really well, Sensei. KP is a hero, a world-saver. I'm the sidekick. I help out, play the decoy, take out the last henchman while she's dealing with nine others. Every so often, I'm the one who pushes the button that saves the world. Or the one who saves Kim instead of the other way around every once in a while. She's like a sister to me, Sensei, as well as a standard to live up to, and an object of the greatest admiration. If I became . . . better than her, I think my head would explode. It's not who I want to be. It's not who I was MEANT to be. This magic, it was just an accident. Ron Stoppable isn't supposed to be the Monkey Master. He's supposed to be the guy who watches Kim Possible's back."

"I see," Sensei said after a moment.

"I'm sorry if you're disappointed in me, but - "

"Disappointed, Stoppable-san? Of course not. As you say, you are not the expert on the Monkey Master. You were not condemned to life servitude to some kind of unbeatable power when you became one with the magic. Your destiny is still what you choose to make it. You could settle down, take a wife, and live out the rest of your years as a gourmet chef like you dream about - don't look surprised, Stoppable-san, I heard things about you in the school kitchen," he said knowingly.

"Right, sorry."

"Anyway, you could do all these things and never intentionally draw upon your powers again, and it would be all right. It would be a power wasted, but you are free to do with it as you please."

"Really?" Ron asked hopefully.

"There ARE two things you need to understand about your gifts, however."

Ron stiffened. "What two things?"

"One, as I have said, the Power is a part of you. It is in every cell of your body. It flows through you like blood. As such, it touched you from the moment it first bonded with you. You are not the same person, Stoppable-san. In many ways, you are stronger, faster, and tougher than you would have been otherwise. Before, you were human. Now, you are just a bit superhuman. You say it was Kim Possible's training that saved you when you discovered your Power was 'gone'. You are correct in thinking so, but I suspect it wasn't the only reason. Lord Fiske has the Power as well. If you did not have it, I think the outcome would have been quite different."

Ron looked at himself. "Wow," he said. "There IS no spoon."


"Never mind. So it's made me a better fighter. I can deal with that. If it means I can help Team Possible that much better, I'm for it. What's the second thing?"

"The second thing is that I would not worry about surpassing Ms. Possible any time soon. The Monkey Power is not some kind of instant superhero pill, where you need only say the words and be bathed in an otherworldly light that gives you incredible strength or speed," Sensei told him sternly. "It is only a key that allows you to attain a level of skill in Monkey Kung Fu and other fighting styles that mere humans cannot. It requires years of study and intense discipline. If you came to Yamanouchi as my personal pupil, I could make you Kim Possible's equal with - oh, ten years of intensive training, perhaps. Assuming she doesn't get any better during that time. Otherwise, it could be twenty years or more."

"Twenty years?" Ron asked. He gulped. "You know, uh, that sounds like a lot of fun," he said, backing away slightly, "but I'm going to be busy with the whole hero-sidekick thing."

"So be it," Sensei said. "I am sure Kim Possible will do an adequate job in my place."

Ron wondered if Kim was planning to keep training him for three hours a day over the next twenty years, and he decided they needed to discuss a firm timeline with a definite endpoint when he woke up.

Which didn't seem to be happening any time soon. "So, uh," he finally said, "how are Hirotaka and Yori?"

"Hirotaka has become a top teacher here at the school," Sensei answered. "As for Yori, she left two years ago to become a 'secret agent' for the Japanese government. Very secret, of course, and I probably shouldn't have told you, but since we are both dreaming, it is not as if I have actually said anything. Both are well, though, and if this wasn't a dream, I would tell them you asked."

The Sensei had never struck him as an especially jovial man, but Ron suspected that he too had a sense of humor which no magic device could steal.

"Oh, there is one other thing," Sensei added. "Something I should give you, but obviously now is not the time. Later, after you wake up."

"How do I do that exactly?" Ron asked. "If my Monkey Power brought you into my dreams, that is."

"As you have not mastered control of the Power yet, it is not something you can end on your own. I shall have to help you."

"Is there a ritual?"

"Not exactly. They say that if you go to sleep in your dreams, you wake up in real life, Stoppable-san."

Before Ron knew what was happening, Sensei was behind him and had an arm around his neck.

"Sleeper hold, what else?" Ron thought. "Steel Toe could learn from - "

And then he blacked out.

Ron opened one eye and looked around. Slowly he patted one of his pockets and felt Ruby's tiny body. From the way she was breathing he could tell she was asleep. "Maybe it was just a dream," he thought. He took his hand away from his pants pocket and touched the wall behind him. It felt reassuringly thick, something a guy wouldn't accidentally walk through. Into maybe, but not through.

And the curtain across from him was still drawn, shielding Kim's bed from view. All of these things suggested that he had been sleeping in a chair in Kim's room at the hospital, that he'd been dreaming, and that he'd been nowhere near Japan.

Of course, it wasn't like Sensei didn't say it WASN'T a dream. But there was no way to prove that his mind hadn't created the whole thing.

Then again, why would he dream of being told he was still the Monkey Master, and would be until the end of his days? A nightmare perhaps, but then why be told that his destiny was of his own making? Why condemn him and liberate him at the same time?

Maybe it would be easier if he just went with the dream scenario anyway.

He scratched the back of his head with his other hand and let it drop. It brushed against something leaning against his chair. Curious, Ron touched it - and it vibrated.

Ron's eyes widened, and he grabbed it. He knew what he held in his hands, but he still had to draw it a few inches out of its sheath to believe it.

Somehow, while he slept, someone had placed the Lotus Blade at his side.

Or - it had appeared on its own.

"Looks like I'm a monkey's uncle after all," he whispered.


He let out a strangled gasp and almost hurled the Lotus Blade across the room before realizing the curtain was still closed and Kim couldn't see the sheathed Japanese sword in his hands. For the moment, anyway. "Yeah. KP?" he whispered, looking around frantically for a place to stash it. If she saw it, she'd obviously want to know why, and he wasn't sure if he could explain it away without breaking his oath of secrecy to Sensei and Yamanouchi.

"You were talking in your sleep," she murmured sleepily from her bed.

"Was I?" he asked, moving toward the room's private bathroom. He hung the scabbard by the strap from the hook inside the door.

"I distinctly heard the word 'monkey' a few times," she told him. "Nightmare? Reliving the fight with Monty?"

"Uh, sort of," he said, closing the door again. Once Kim was asleep again, he could bring the sword home.

"Ron? Do I have to talk to a curtain all night?" Kim asked with a trace of irritation.

"What? Is that still there?" Ron said with a forced laugh. He brushed the curtain aside. Kim was lying there, looking at him with a question in her eyes. She was dressed only in a hospital robe, with an IV dripping antibiotics into her vein. The doctor Mrs. Dr. Possible had referred had prescribed them mainly as a precaution, much as he had requested Kim and Shego stay overnight for observation.

"What were you doing? I heard you walking around."

"Just, uh, had to step inside the bathroom, if you know what I mean."

"I didn't hear the toilet flush."

"Didn't want to wake you, KP," he said brightly. "I'll be right back." Quickly he went back into the bathroom and flushed the toilet.

"Ron," she sighed, shaking her head. "So what was the dream about?"

"Well . . . " Ron considered making something up, but what he'd learned had been really important, and it wouldn't be right to keep it from her, especially considering how it impacted Team Possible. "It seems I still have the Monkey Mystical Power after all."

"What?" she asked as she sat up straight, startled. "How do you know!"

"I was told in a dream."

"By who?"

"S - some higher power, I guess," Ron said, having very nearly undone his hiding of the Lotus Blade by dropping Sensei's name.

She stared at him doubtfully. "A higher power told you while you were sleeping that you were the Monkey Master?"

"Pretty much, yeah," he said.

"Are you sure this wasn't a nightmare?"

"Maybe I should start from the beginning," he said, pulling his chair closer and sitting down.

He told her everything. Everything, that is, except for the old Japanese man and any reference to anything at the Yamanouchi school where he'd once trained in high school. Instead he told Kim that he'd been back in the African monkey temple, where a disembodied voice had spoken to him.

"Wow," Kim said when he was finished. "Still, you should be careful. It could have been a trick. Maybe Monkey Fist is using some kind of meditation trick from prison."

"It's possible," he acknowledged, "but explain for me how what I was told could play into any villain's hands. I mean, I have great power and I can use for any purpose I choose? Not exactly a real spirit-breaker."

"True," Kim said. "So you're okay with this?"

He wasn't exactly thrilled about the legendary weapon in the bathroom, since there was no way he could use it on a mission without blowing his secret. "Ron the Monkey Man? Yeah, I guess if I've got to be the Master, this is the best-case scenario. I can go on being the sidekick - "

"Sidekick is a word that applies to you about as well as it applies to Shego these days," she corrected him.

"Junior partner, then. I can be the person I want to be, AND I can be better at it. For that, I can live with a little extra responsibility," he said. Ron smiled then. "Especially since I might need a little extra Diablo sauce to go along with it."

The muffled word "cheese!" could be heard coming from both of his pockets.

"Good," Kim said softly. "Any idea how Shego's doing?"

"Uh, no. Frankly, the idea of being alone with her in her bedroom if she wakes up made me soil myself," Ron said. "Anyway, she's got Monique 'guarding' her door. Either she's really security-conscious, or she doesn't like the night nurse very much."

"She's very security-conscious," Kim said. "Plus she was a little snarkier than usual today." Then she paused. "Ron, this 'voice' told you that the Monkey Mystical Power is a part of you? That it's made you stronger, faster, things like that?"

"Yep," he said, leaning back. "The Ron Factor is now the Ron Max Factor. Might not have been able to win today if it wasn't for that. Well, that and your training, of course," he added.

"So your powers have been making you a better fighter," she said. "Because, you know, I've been meaning to tell you just how quickly you've been learning your lessons. Even Shego thinks you've come a long way from a few weeks ago."

"She said THAT? No wonder she's been snarky," he muttered. "She's been regretting it ever since!"

"Ron," Kim said.

"Sorry, KP. And yeah, thanks, that means a lot to me. I did feel like I was picking up what you were teaching really easily - well, if you consider hours of relentless exertion followed by pure exhaustion 'easily'. But I just figured it was because you were such a good teacher." He stopped. "That didn't come out right," he added. "I didn't mean you're not - "

"Don't worry, I know what you meant," Kim said. "Must be nice having super powers."

"You're not going to ask me to wear spandex now, are you?" he asked.

"Too bad Monique doesn't have powers like that," she went on, almost to herself.

"What about Monique?"

"Oh, nothing," Kim said cheerfully. "I guess none of us knew what an edge you have."

Ron wasn't sure what she meant by 'us', but he accepted the praise just the same.

"And here I thought teaching one's child about right and wrong was a parent's prerogative," Dr. Director sighed.

"Don't think of it that way," Vivian Porter told her as they watched Thomas interacting with Oliver. "Think of it more as having his cybernetic parts 'reprogrammed'. His human brain still has a lot to learn from you."

"Do you suppose this will work?" Betty asked. "I'd hate to think that Thomas will be downloading classified government secrets when he's five because they look 'interesting'."

"I wouldn't be worried," Vivian replied. "When I first designed Oliver's artificial intelligence, I programmed him quite thoroughly about what he was and wasn't permitted to do. I've never had any problems with him since then, except for a minor glitch or two."

Dr. Director widened one eye. "Minor glitch?"

"Very minor," Vivian assured her quickly. "Anyway, he can explain to Thomas' robotic brain the necessary concepts better than I can now. It just may take an hour or two."

"I've always got time for my son," Dr. Director said. Then she smiled at Vivian. "For you, too."

Vivian blinked. "Huh?"

"Vivian," Dr. Director said, "you know that I've never had many meaningful relationships over the years. My twin brother Sheldon and I were not close, even before he became Gemini."

"How does one decide to become a megalomaniacal would-be tyrant just because you don't treat him like an 'older brother' anyway?" Vivian asked curiously.

"It's really very simple."


"He's insane. Anyway, what I was trying to say is that until I adopted Thomas, I had no family. As head of Global Justice, my work became my personal life, and I was strictly professional with my fellow GJ agents. Oh, there was this one man," she admitted wistfully. "He wasn't exactly a GJ man, mind you. But we . . . at any rate, it couldn't work out. And of course, I didn't exactly have friends when I was a prisoner of the Acceptables," she added.

"Now, however," Dr. Director continued, "I have Thomas, and more. You and Holly have become the best friends I was never able or allowed to have, and that means a lot to me."

Vivian was briefly taken aback. "Wow," she finally said. "That was a surprise. Thank you, Betty. My only friends were my machines for years, and of course you know all about my dating troubles. But my time spent with you and Holly is important to me now as well."

Betty smiled and, reaching forward, squeezed Vivian's hand gently.

"Dr. Director?"

She turned, hearing Oliver speak her name. "Yes?"

"I am making progress with your son, although I cannot estimate at this time how much longer it will take. His circuitry is very advanced."

"Thank you, Oliver."

"And I believe you are about to receive a transmission."

Dr. Director's Kimmunicator went off a millisecond later, and she drew it from her handbag, letting go of Vivian's fingers. "I never thought years ago that I'd be using one of these," she murmured to Dr. Porter.

"Uh-huh," Vivian said absently, studying her hand where Betty had touched it.

"Yes?" Dr. Director asked, answering the device.

"Hey, Dr. Director," Wade said. "Just letting you know that I've received a couple eyewitness sightings of Duff Killagan in Thailand."

"Excellent," she replied. "Have you notified Kim?"

"She's being checked out of the hospital right now," he said. "Anyway, he's already left the country, but it gives me a lead I didn't have before. It's only a matter of time before I track him down."

"Wonderful," she said. "Thanks for the sitch." She turned it off and looked at Vivian. "Something else I never thought I'd use - the word 'sitch'."

"People change," Vivian said.

Ron tapped his foot on the floor. "I didn't think single guys had to sit around and wait for women to get dressed," he said. "No offense, Ruby."

Being a 'naked' mole rat in every sense of the word, she looked quizzical.

"Come on, KP," he called upstairs. "The deranged Scotsman isn't going to just wait forever, you know!"

There was a noise from above. "Keep your shirt on, Stoppable," he heard Shego's voice come floating down. "For all our sakes, keep your shirt on."

For a typical Shego retort, it lacked some of its pep, Ron thought.

A few moments later, he thought he understood why.

"Don't - say - a fucking - word," Shego snarled as she stormed in.

He couldn't have spoken if he wanted to. His jaw didn't seem to be working. Rufus rubbed his eyes and stared harder.

Shego had come downstairs wearing cargo pants and a tight black turtleneck that bared her toned midriff. Other than the black and green gloves on her hands, and the dark olive shade of her pants, she was dressed exactly like Ron.

"Um, Shego?" he finally asked nervously.

"I lost a bet, satisfied?" she growled.

"Completely!" Ron replied, putting up his palms.

"Let's just get this over with," she said. "We fight him, we beat him, and I ask him to say 'ah' with a five-wood. And then maybe I'll be able to enjoy myself," she added, folding her arms.

"There ARE other ways to have a good time, you know," Kim said from behind.

Ron saw her first. "Has someone been changing the past again?" he asked, astonished.

Shego turned and saw Kim was dressed in the green-and-black cat suit that had been folded in her bedroom drawer since the time she'd worn it in Boston. She didn't let the fact that Kim looked damn hot distract her. "What are you wearing?" she demanded.

"I didn't think this left much to the imagination," Kim said.

"I think I'm going to wait outside," Ron said, "before Monique walks in wearing feathers and heels." He disappeared before either Kim or Shego could say anything.

"We had a bet," Shego said angrily. "I don't need your pity!"

"The bet was flawed," Kim replied.


"According to Ron, he still has his Monkey Power," Kim explained. "It's become a part of him, and it makes him a stronger and faster fighter. Unlike Monique, who has no powers of any sort."

Shego nodded slightly. "So he had an advantage over her. He could get better faster."

"That's what I think," Kim said. "Ergo, his improvement was not entirely my doing, and it's possible that Ron would still be fighting at the same level whether it was you or I training him."

"And that's why he's better than Monique!" Shego understood. "The bet's off!"

"Well, you already conceded, so it's too late for that," Kim said slyly. "I say you're still stuck with that outfit today. Still, since there's no way to tell who the better trainer is, I decided that it's only fair if we BOTH pay the penalty for losing."

Shego pouted. "I hate these pants."

"Look, it's up to you. Do you want to go now, or do you want us both to go back upstairs and change into our usual attire?" Kim asked.

Her impatience to hunt Killagan down as soon as possible, combined with her pleasure at seeing Kim wearing something that suited her FAR better than loose-fitting pants, proved even greater than her distaste for the Team Possible mission uniform. "Let's just go," Shego finally grumbled.

"Look at it this way," Kim said as she walked out with Shego. "You'll be able to undress faster tonight."

Shego purred in spite of herself.

Wade frowned at the closet. Kim might not even want to wear it.

But it was silly and dangerous for Kim to be laid up overnight at a hospital for observation last week because of monkey bites. An ordinary shirt and pair of pants was no longer acceptable for a full-time heroine in this day and age. His inventions had paid off dozens of times over the years. Something like this could go on reaping dividends for Kim for years.

Of course, it WAS several years old. He'd put his prototype away, still unfinished, when the Acceptable Family arrived and Kim had hung up her spurs.

But Wade had made several years' worth of upgrades to Kim's latest Kimmunicator. Why not here too?

He fingered the skintight outfit hanging in the closet, white with blue stripes. "Clothes do make the woman," he murmured.

Wade made up his mind. After he finished using the treadmill, at long last he'd get back to work on his variation of the Centurion Project.

Jaqui coughed as she rolled away from the wall. "Wha fuck?" she choked, trying not to inhale copious amounts of dust.

Hands grabbed her by the arms roughly, and she tried to fight them off until she felt a gun barrel pressed against her forehead. "Come with us or be shot," a man ordered.

"Fine," she said, her voice raspy. "I didn't like prison anyway. And my roommate had a flatulence problem."

"Really?" the man said. He turned and pumped three bullets into the other woman, who had been trapped under her collapsed bunk. "Now she doesn't."

Jaqui was struck speechless for a moment, although not for any love of the woman. "If I'd known you were going to do something about ALL my problems," she finally said, "I'd have given you the name of a guard or two."

"Funny," he said. "We are leaving now."

Two other men in visored helmets hoisted her up by the armpits and physically dragged her from her cell on the third story of the Texas state penitentiary she'd been housed in since her extradition. A helicopter gunship was waiting for them. Complaining all the way, Jaqui was unceremoniously tossed inside even as searchlights trained on the chopper and the sound of shotguns being fired could be heard.

"Who the hell are you guys?" she demanded as the helicopter began ascending. Shots pinged off the underbelly of the vehicle.

"Your - vacation leave is over, Jaqui," someone said from the rear of the gunship. "I have need of you."

Jaqui turned cold. "You couldn't just leave me there, could you?" she asked bitterly. "You had to drag me to whatever lair you're using these days just so you could pull the floor out from under me yourself."

"Nonsense," Gemini said as he emerged from the shadows. "I haven't dropped someone into a secret pit in . . . oh, three weeks or so. Kappa knew he wasn't supposed to be singing rap music in the halls. It upsets Pepe so."

She heard a lot of things besides her employer's penchant for punishing minor offenses by dropping people into death traps. Like his dog Pepe - apparently a lot of things upset him.

"So why did you bust me out? Is E-Cool coming too?"

"Well, my dear Jaqui, I'm afraid you'll be operating on your own from now on. E-Cool will go on using computers in a prison library under tight supervision for some time to come," Gemini said smoothly. "I have no need of thieves at this time, especially those who are defeated by Kim Possible and her crew."

"Look, about that - "

"Think nothing of it," he interrupted. "I don't expect people to beat Team Possible on their first try. You've had your nose bloodied - "

"It was worse than bloodied."

"Figure of speech, Jaqui. What matters is that you've faced them once already. The second time will be entirely old hat for you."

"I have to fight them again?" she asked dubiously.

"Probably. You are about to become my newest Alpha. You will be my personal guard from now on."

"What happened to the old Alpha?"

Gemini raised a finger. "Ah yes. I almost forgot. He'll be dropping out of sight . . . now." He pressed a button on the wrist of his robotic hand. "Where were we again? Yes, Alpha. And when one is about to threaten the Earth with global destruction, generally one expects Kim Possible to poke her nose where it doesn't belong."

"And where doesn't her nose belong this time?" Jaqui asked. "Underwater base? Cloaked airship?"

"Not exactly, but it DOES involve a ship. A spaceship, to be precise."


"Don't worry, Jaqui, the moon is quite lovely this time of year."

The End. (To be concluded in "Under the Milky Way Tonight")

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