Chapter 1 - White Trumpets
Kim Possible, girl who could do anything, was sprawled face first into her bedroom mattress, arms and legs akimbo. Bandaged cuts peeked out from under her top, and her hair was clumped to her face.
Around her, her room was as clean and organized as her old one had been, save for the dresser, where several hand-written letters laid, all open and signed "Emeralda Forester". Each page was stained with green ink, written in a loopy cursive.
Several dates were scrawled across the tops. The oldest was just two weeks after her graduation ceremony from Middleton High, and contained a single, simple message.
Bored. Think if I rob a bank, I can knock you on your ass again?
Kim had stared at the letter for several minutes - more due to the sheer ridiculousness of it, than anything - before crumpling the page and tossing it into her bin before she headed for her bathroom.
An hour later, before her hands even dry, she smoothed the letter against her desk and wrote out the return address on an envelope.
A flurry of activity over the summer drove the letter from her mind. She restored power in Brazil, prevented a cracked dam from flooding a village in China, and helped to remove a Lowardian weapon platform that disrupted the life cycle of a group of penguins.
So when the next letter arrived over two weeks later, she didn't think anything of the green outer writing until she ripped open the envelope.
Oh get off your high horse! Like you'd be able to stop me. I could steal thousands right from under your nose, but lucky for you, I'm being watched.
So much disbelief, Miss Priss. I'm good now, aren't I? Besides, government provided labs. Snailing it is about the only way to get a message out without Sammy snooping their nose in. Idiots. Why would you not watch outgoing mail?
So stop being paranoid. I'm stuck as a "lab assistant" to Dr. D. He's lucky I don't fry him instead of his test tubes. I just read fashion mags. He yells. It's like old times, except without the occasional excitement. Well, he did turn one of his actual lab assistants into a duck last week. That was a good day. Still, maybe I'll try to find something else to do. Catch me if you can.
A crudely drawn face with its tongue sticking out was drawn at the end.
Kim had reread the letter twice, then tapped her Kimmunicator on.
"I don't get it, Kim," Wade said. "She doesn't seem to be doing anything that should send up any alarm bells. As far as I've been able to tell, she barely leaves the lab. Personally? I think she's messing with you."
Kim nodded. "Probably, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't keep an eye on her anyway. Check into any electronic trails she left. I'll work the whole twilight zone letter angle."
Between missions, Kim wrote letters. Slowly over the course of weeks, the letters came faster and faster until she was writing a letter every 5 days. However, with each letter, the messages became more and more cryptic. Gentle prods into what Shego was planning were deflected in favor of taunting, jabs at Kim's so-called "inexperience". There were vague references to new work, yet Wade still insisted that he hadn't detected Shego doing much of anything.
Sometimes Kim thought Shego really was just bored. Cooped up in the lab with no one to talk to but Drakken and other scientists, who wouldn't be? Kim wondered if Shego even had access to her ever-present beach chair. The thought of nothing but sterile lab furniture gave Kim a stab of sympathy.
Shego made a few excursions out of the lab, but these turned out to be shopping trips and other dead ends. Wade couldn't find any evidence that Shego had contacted anyone, either.
Kim considered just confronting Shego at Drakken's new lab, but somehow, writing actual paper and ink letters made the whole thing less real. To talk face-to-face to her arch-foe about writing letters would have felt all kinds of awkweird. And then there was the fact that Shego actually hadn't done anything and that Drakken's "lair" was a government run facility this time.
So she wrote, and the summer wore on. And she grew more tense with each letter she wrote.
Today, she had all but forgotten her communications with Shego when she tromped through the living room to her room and flopped, gracelessly, to her bed covers just a few minutes before.
So of course, the alarm chose now to blare its klaxon from her nightstand.
At first, Kim simply tried to ignore it; she had been so close to sleep. After a minute of an ever increasing whine, Kim groaned, slapped the top of her clock, and rolled back over.
Then her Kimmunicator went off.
This was quiet enough to ignore. The jingle repeated itself twice more, then finally, blissfully cut off. Kim drew in a breath, snuggled down into her covers, and sighed.
The Kimmunicator went off again.
Kim rolled over, snatched it off her nightstand, and groaned into her pillow, "what?"
"Uh, rough morning?" Wade's voice said.
Kim just nodded into the pillow, then raised her head. "Sorry Wade," she said, rubbing the bridge of her nose. "I just got in."
"What?" Wade tapped a few keys. "You should have been back 6 hours ago!"
"I know. The flight got delayed. Twice."
Wade winced. "I'm sorry Kim, I should have -"
"No you shouldn't have," Kim said. "You needed sleep as much as we did. That's not why you called though."
"It can -"
Kim glared. "Wade."
He sighed. "Alright. You told me to call as soon as I learned anything about Shego, right?"
Something like electricity shot through her spine.
"What's the sitch?"
"You received another letter." Wade jabbed a thumb towards the upper left of the screen, where her dresser sat. "I used an optical scanner to read it before you opened it and -"
"Wade!" Kim said. "You can't just read my mail!"
Wade blinked. "But - I thought you wanted helped trying to track down what Shego wanted!"
"I do! I mean - that is -" She sighed. "No, you're right. I'm just not used to anyone going through my mail." She got up and paced over to the dresser. "How'd you know, anyway?"
"I just woke up a few minutes ago. Saw you were home and decided to scan all of Shego's letters to see if I could decrypt any patterns."
Kim flopped back onto her bed and ripped open the letter. "What's the code, detective?"
"That's... actually not why I called."
The letter came out easily and fell into her hand. "What do you mean?"
Kim opened the letter and read the single line written there.
See you at school. Don't be late.
Kim flipped the page over and double checked the front again. There was no other writing.
Then the realization hit her: Today was the first day of class.
"Wade, we're gonna be late!"
Kim grabbed a set of clothes and rushed off to the restroom. She came back for her book bag, packed and ready a week ago, her Kimmunicator, and headed towards the front door. She passed her mother scraping off eggs into a plate in the kitchen.
"Kimmie! Your breakfast!"
"Sorry mom, I'll get it later, love you, bye!"
And before her mother had a chance to answer back, Kim closed the door and reached her car in two long strides. The car started, and as soon as she had left the manufactured home's short driveway, she engaged the flight mode and sailed over the tight-knit temporary housing towards Ron's house... and her former home.
"Talk to me Wade," she said to her Kimmunicator. "If Shego's at the school, I want to know where."
"I've been scanning CCTV cams of the college and high school, but I've found no sign that Shego's at either one. Trying thermal positioning."
"Wouldn't she just show up like anyone else?"
Wade continued tapping keys. "Only if she doesn't light up. Even then, not everyone can move like Shego either... but it's a moot point. She's not showing up."
"Keep trying what you can. You wake up Ron?"
"He's not happy about it, but yeah."
A minute later, she landed just outside her old home (where a basic framework of a new house had been built), and drove the few feet forward to Ron's house, where he stood out front, backpack in hand.
He waved as she pulled up, then got in the car. "Sitch me."
Kim explained what Wade had said as they flew. Below, a patchwork of rubbled buildings, bulldozed land, and smooth new construction passed by. The city had, by far, seen the brunt of the Alien invasion, and while no large city was truly spared, Middleton was struggling to catch up.
As they approached the school, the buildings thinned out. In a grassy square, through the trees, they saw a lone Lowardian walker sinking into the grass.
Kim nosed the car down.
"You sure she's here, KP?"
"No," she said, "but it's the first usable hint she's given us this entire time."
"I dunno, KP. My money's still on her yanking your chain."
"I guess we'll find out."
She landed the car with a screech. They slowed to a reasonable speed and pulled into the parking lot. The wheels constantly bumped over rubber crack filler.
"Think we should split up?"
"Whoa, nuh-uh." He crossed his arms. "Last time I went through a new school alone, I wound up lost in the girl's locker room. So many screams. So. Many. My ears are still ringing, Kim."
Kim shook her head, took his hand in hers, and led him towards the school.
The buildings of the entire college were plain concrete, hastily rebuilt over the summer. Two men donning hardhats stood near a great pile of cement and steel, arguing with pointed jabs and stomped feet.
Kim gave them a wide berth.
Students all around them filed towards the main entrance of the college: A dry, cracked reflection pool filled with weeds and dirt. The pool sat in front of the newly constructed main hall. Like the buildings they passed, it was smooth and gray, without so much as a simple facade. In the windows, small potted plants made a feeble attempt at decoration.
Ahead, the streams of students seemed to converge, heading towards the college park where the alien walker sat. A temporary stage held what looked like several school officials, with one at the podium.
Kim recognized her as Dean Mendez. She spoke and gestured wildly, overemphasizing every one of her talking points, and her hair frayed in all directions from the force of her apparently long speech. Kim had spoken to her after rescuing several of the students in a burning dorm one year. She spoke well one-on-one, but didn't seem to know what to with her arms when in front of a group.
Kim and Ron filed into the back of the crowd, where people were standing due to the lack of seating.
"Yes," Mendez said, sweeping her arms up in a little bounce, "it's true that we've been dealt a heavy blow in Middleton, and Middleton Community College no less so..."
Kim leaned over to Ron. "Keep an eye out for Shego. I bet anything she's in the crowd."
"So deductive," a voice droned right in her ear.
Kim jumped away and widened her stance when she landed.
Shego just put her hands up. "Whoa there, action Barbie. Hey, not here to fight. This time."
Ron, finally noticing their new arrival, marched up to beside Kim, finger jabbed forward, and promptly tripped over his feet.
"Found her," he said.
Shego looked down at him through leering eyes.
Kim relaxed her stance. "What do you want, Shego? What are you doing here?"
Shego just batted her lashes. "Oh, but that'd be so boring!"
"Spit it out, Shego."
"Aw, Princess, don't be like that." She leaned forward and grinned. "I thought you'd be glad to see your penpal, after all."
Kim colored slightly. Yep, all kinds of awkweird.
"If you're just going to waste our time, then we're going to class," Kim said. She was tired. Her eyes were barely keeping open, and only a rush of adrenaline kept her awake now. Witty repartee wasn't in her current vocabulary.
"So defensive," Shego said. "And here I thought we were becoming friends."
Kim snorted. "Yeah right. You're totally plotting something and I'm going to get to the bottom of it."
"That's one way of putting it," Shego said.
Kim started. "And just what is that supposed to mean?"
Shego swept an arm towards the stage. "Why don't you look and find out, Princess?"
Kim blinked, glared at her, then followed her arm up to the stage, where Mendez was still bouncing her way through her speech.
"And now," Mendez said, "I'm sure you're all quite tired of me dancing around up here." She winked. "So it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you the woman who made this all possible. She had donated over 12 million to the repair fund of Middleton Community college, and over 50 million to the tri-city area. She's been concentrating on Middleton in light of the focus of the alien attack, but has been helping communities all over the world, providing much needed funding for food and emergency housing. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome one of the most wonderful and generous women I have ever met, Miss Norana Umbra."
Applause surged through the crowd. Perhaps fans of the new speaker or just happy Mendez had finally stepped off the podium.
Kim glanced at Shego, whose grin didn't falter. Kim turned back towards the stage.
In contrast to the haphazard and vibrant dean, Norana was like a dark pond that had never known a breeze. Each step she took towards the podium was measured, purposeful. Her dark skin flashed under the hemline of a simple black dress, and her short black hair spoke of a no-nonsense style, save for a single lock of hair that fell across her forehead. Kim would have pinned her as Indian, but when she spoke, it was with a heavy English accent.
"Ladies and gentlemen," she said, her speech as slow and measured as her steps had been, "I thank Dean Mendez deeply for those words, but I am simply doing what I believe I must."
Applause started, but with a simple raised hand, it was hushed in an instant.
"I wish to continue doing the best I can for Middleton, for its residents, for its parents, and for its children. For future generations. I want Middleton to become a shining beacon for America, and for the world. A symbol of everything the world can be."
Kim felt the hairs on the back of her neck stick straight up. Strange.
"I'd like to announce," Norana said, "here today, the next step I have taken to make this dream a reality. To make Middleton greater than it has ever been. I'd like to announce my purchase of majority shares in Middleton Community College, to better direct the future here."
Again, applause started, but again, it was hushed with a gesture. Kim just felt tense.
"I would like to make it clear that I have every intention of working with the board, and am fully committed to my values to make this college the best it can be. I have not stopped there, however. In addition to the school, I'd like to announce the purchase of majority shares in both Middleton Space Center, with special interest in the Propulsion Lab, as well as a place that has authored several new procedures and experimental equipment, Middleton Medical Center." Applause started, but Norana simply kept speaking, only slightly louder. "It is my hope that by directing the major technology centers of Middleton, we might guide the city, the state, and the country into a new era."
This time, the applause grew to a roar, and Norana let it play out for a moment before raising her hand off the podium once more. Kim could feel pounding in her temples and tried not to blink.
"Besides these major technology hubs, I have also purchased several smaller tech firms around the tri-city area. Of course, I want to provide for my companies as well, and so, have bought the franchise rights to every Bueno Nacho in the metro area."
Confused murmurs replaced applause this time.
Kim glanced at Ron, who stood slackjawed and brows creased.
"Of course," Norana said, this time with a quirk of her lips, "the menu will remain the same, but a few new features have already been added. All employees of any one of my businesses - as well as, most importantly, Middleton Community College students - can enjoy heavy discounts."
This time, applause broke out again. It was the loudest yet.
"I think that's all I came to say today," Norana said, turning towards the faculty behind her. "I look forward to reshaping Middleton into the absolute best city it can be."
Just before she left the podium, her gaze, once simply scanning the crowd, unerringly moved to stare straight at Kim. They locked eyes, and for a brief moment, Kim thought she could read something in them, in the furrowing of that dark brow. But then Norana turned completely around and left the microphone behind, to be replaced again by the dean.
"Another big hand for Miss Norana Umbra!"
Applause rose through the crowd, but Kim wasn't paying attention anymore. She watched as Norana walked slowly back to her seat and sat back down in her chair in the faculty area on the stage. She made no motion to acknowledge Kim again, and simply stared forward with her chin raised and a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth.
Kim stood, staring at the woman, her headache worse and thrumming in her temples.
"Ron," she said, finding her tongue. "Ron!" She grabbed his arm and spun him around.
"Is... is this good or bad?" Ron said.
Kim stared at him.
"I mean," Ron said, "the last time Bueno Nacho got taken over, it didn't work so well. On the other hand, student discounts! Oh yeah! And this probably means the - uh, KP, are you okay?"
Kim, however, was very not okay. Her breathing was shallow, and her teeth ground into each other, making her jaw hurt.
"Ron," she said, "she's bought out the Space Center, the hospital, the school, and Bueno Nacho?"
Ron blinked. "Oooooooh." He nodded. "And?"
"Ron! What connects all those things together?!"
"... a passion for experimentation?"
Something in Kim's temple pounded to get out. "... no, Ron. ... I think we are the ones being targeted here."
A slow look of realization overtook his features and Kim let go of his shoulders.
"We have to find out," Kim said, "and I know just the person to ask."
She spun, then did a double take of the area: Shego was gone. Kim swiveled and craned her head around the people who had gathered around them.
She spotted Shego's green leg just before it turned a corner.
"Come on," she said to Ron, then plunged ahead, away from the crowd.
A/N: So! That was a thing!
This fic updates weekly until finished. This will be a long fic, for the first novel, and I might end up writing a sequel after this one is finished, but we'll see when we get there. I have everything plotted out and I do believe it'll call for one, but the story might change as I go along.
Feel free to review and let me know your thoughts! I'm very open to criticisms, praise, general comments, or anything in-between. :)
Disclaimer: This is a lawful transformative work/parody pursuant to Suntrust v. Houghton Mifflin Co. The author makes no money from this work and never will attempt to do so (and she doesn't have any anyway.) © 2016 SapphicVixen. Limited Palette may not be reproduced or republished, in whole or in part, without the author's permission. Not authorized by The Walt Disney Company, and no sponsorship or endorsement by The Walt Disney Company is implied.
This, my friends, is a work of love.