"16.... 41...18.... Open Sesame!"
Despite the fact that Ron Stoppable had been opening the same locker at Middleton High for the past three and a quarter years, he always got a kick out of saying that. Sure, it wasn't what the 'normal' high school student would do, but then again, his personal motto was 'Never be normal'.
He allowed himself a small smile, one of the few that he had had in the last two weeks. He sighed, and began rummaging through the rather disorganized interior of his locker, searching for his Latin book, as class was about to begin in a few minutes. The blonde never really cared that much if he was late for a class, but Latin was different. For some reason, one that even Wade couldn't figure out, he had shown quite the aptitude in his language class. In fact, it was the first 'A' that he had accomplished in a class. Ever.
Finding what he had come for, he grabbed the book and, slamming the door shut, he took off down the hall. He had just stepped into the classroom when the bell went off, signaling to the teacher that while he had cut it close, Ron had still made it in time.
"Ronald, why don't you take your seat so that we can get started?" his instructor asked, with a tolerant smile.
The blonde simply smiled back and plopped down in his assigned seat about two-thirds of the way back. He was having difficulty concentrating on what the teacher was saying, as he was too lost in his thoughts that had, once again, settled on the events of two weeks ago. It wasn't everyday that one was involved in, what had been politely called by the US State Department, as a 'radiological incident'. Basically, it meant that a small nuclear bomb had gone off.
It really wasn't Team Possible's fault. At least, not according to Global Justice. But, then again, GJ had a vested interest in seeing that Kim and Ron were found to be without fault in the international incident given that it was GJ who had called them in in the first place. And not everyone was sharing Dr. Director's view of the facts.
It had started simply enough. The four musical tones that the two friends had come to equate with the job had interrupted an otherwise lazy Saturday afternoon spent at Middleton Park. Wade informed them that a Global Justice spy satellite had picked up some suspicious activity in a remote region of Siberia. It seemed that a Geiger counter had registered an increased level of radiation in an area that wasn't supposed to have a nuclear reactor or house a nuclear warhead.
Kim, who normally wasn't one to shy away from a mission, had her doubts about this one. It sounded more like a job for the Russian military or maybe even the CIA. So, using a protocol that she hadn't used since her first encounter with the top-secret law enforcement agency, she placed a call directly into the office of the head of Global Justice.
To say that Dr. Director was surprised when the private line to her office rang would have been an understatement; there were only seven people in the world that knew it existed. It just so happened that the two seventeen-year-olds at the other end of the line happened to be two of the seven. Kim got right down to business, wanting to know why GJ was sending them in.
The reason was simple enough, even if it did bruise Kim's ego a little. Team Possible, it turned out, was fourth on the list of people that GJ wanted on this case. Global Justice itself had no assets in place, as with the CIA. The Russian military simply refused to acknowledge that something was going on, probably because it didn't want to be dictated to by an American-funded agency. So, Team Possible was it.
So, twelve hours later, Kim and Ron were jumping out of a FedEx Jumbo 747. Their transportation had to be civilian, as the Russians weren't about to help and definitely weren't about to let a US military plane invade Russian airspace. The jump itself was quite uneventful as was the trek to the location that GJ had given Team Possible. Things, however, got quite eventful once they reached their destination.
It seemed that with the abysmal state of the Russian economy, the government was unable to pay their army. But, several officers in the missile corps had found a way to make all the money that they would ever need. They were going to steal one of the warheads of an ICMB. In fact, they had already stolen it and were transporting to their contact that was waiting for them on the Pacific coast.
Perhaps they should have just tailed them to their buyer, or called in reinforcements from GJ, but that simply wasn't the style of Team Possible. Kim and Ron both jumped into the fray with both feet. And although it was the first fight that they had been in that involved live gunfire, both freelance agents held their own. They had neutralized most of the enemy forces when Kim realized that the last one had managed to get near the control panel for the weapon. Before she could do anything to stop him, the last soldier entered in the authorization codes and activated the bomb.
Kim quickly contacted Wade who analyzed what the soldier had done. His analysis was not welcome news however; the bomb was active and would detonate within fifteen minutes. And there was no way to figure out the cancelation codes in time to stop it. Fortunately, they were close enough to the Japanese border, and Wade had an exit transport there in five minutes. Everyone made it out alive, but a large section of Eastern Siberia was going to be uninhabitable for about ten thousand years.
Word was quickly relayed to Moscow about the 'incident'. Of course, once the Foreign Ministry learned that two American teenagers had been involved in the explosion, they instantly spun the whole thing as Team Possible's fault, with one sub-Cabinet level minister going so far as to say that the it was the act of US espionage and that Russia was now in a de-facto state of war with the US. No one really believed him, but the point got across to Washington, loud and clear.
When Team Possible got back to Middleton, they were greeted by four FBI agents, two at the Possible residence and two at the Stoppable residence. And while they were officially there to simply bring Kim and Ron in for their debriefing, the agents did nothing to allay the fears of the two sets of parents who were now worried that their children might be on trial in a Russian court sometime very soon. After they had been picked up, Ron saw Kim once more at the FBI field office in Denver for but a brief second, and then he was led off to his own interrogation room.
That was two weeks ago and Ron Stoppable had not heard a single word from Kim in all that time. He had gone to the Possible's at least a dozen times looking for information, but her parents hadn't heard anything either. In fact, they had secured the services of an attorney in an attempt to force the government to reveal the location of their daughter. All three of them were sure that she was still being held by the Justice Department, despite the assurances from the Deputy Director of the FBI that she had left on her on recognizance a mere ten hours after being taken into custody.
All this added up to one very lonely, very depressed, and very worried blonde that had not listened to a single word so far in his Latin class. He would have been quite content to have simply stayed in his own little world, imaging every possible horrible thing that could have happened to Kim, but it seemed that his teacher had this strange notion that his students should actually be listening to him in his class.
"Ronald, did you hear what I asked you? Could you please open you textbook to page ninety-four and following along with the rest of the class?"
This brought a round of laughter from the class as Ron simply sat there with an embarrassed expression as his only reply. Deciding that it wasn't in his best interest to upset the only teacher at Middleton High that actually liked him, the blonde open his book to the indicated page. Just as he was about to push the entire Kim problem out of his mind for the rest of the class, he noticed for the first time that something was stuck in his Latin book.
As he flipped to where it was embedded, he realized that it was a sealed envelope. He took it out and examined the back. It was simple and white, legal sized with no identifiable marking on it whatsoever. Then he turned to look at the front, and there he saw something that caused his heart to skip a beat. In neat script, a single word was written. "Ron". And it was in Kim's handwriting.
"Class be damned," Ron thought as he ripped open the envelope. Inside was a single sheet a paper that he quickly unfolded. Scanning it, Ron saw that it was a letter that Kim had written to him. He couldn't figure out when she had had the time to slip it into his locker, or how she had gone unnoticed when the entire school was wondering where she had gone off to. He read it, and then read it again as there wasn't much to it.
Meet me at the bench in Middleton Park where we had the picnic two weeks ago at ten o'clock tonight. Do not tell anyone that you have had any contact from me.
Kim's note caused Ron to go through a whole range of emotions from relief that Kim was okay to confusion over what was up with the cryptic meeting to a little bit of anger that she was back in town and hadn't come by to tell him that she was alright.
But none of that mattered at the moment. It was only two in the afternoon and all his questions would have to wait for another eight hours when he could ask the million questions that he now had.
Ron found that he was so excited to see his best friend again that he had left for the park well in advance of the specified time so that he was waiting for over half an hour before his watch told him that the ten o'clock hour was upon him. But as the minutes pasted and there was no sign of Kim, he was beginning to wonder if he had the right spot. Or if Kim was going to show at all.
His questions about the meeting were all put to rest when he noticed a figure walking along the path towards his location. It was late, and he hadn't seen anyone pass by him in the part the entire time that he was there so he instantly thought it might be Kim. But as the figure got closer, Ron could see that whoever it was, they were wearing a brown trench coat.
The blonde felt his heart sink because Kim didn't wear trench coats. Then he remembered her first date with Josh; she had worn one then. He quickly looked back at the approaching figure and as they passed by one of the lights that illuminated the trail, he caught a quick glimpse of red hair.
"KP!" her best friend shouted loud enough to announce to the whole town that she was back. He ran the rest of the way over to her and picked her up in a great big bear hug that she instantly returned. When he felt that he had embraced her as long as was acceptable for a guy who was only her friend, he started to let go but stopped when he realized that Kim wasn't letting go quite yet.
After a while, even Kim was forced to break the hug, although Ron thought she looked like she wanted to let the embrace go a little longer. But he put that thought out of his mind as he looked at his best friends whom he hadn't seen in two weeks.
"Kim, where the hell have you been? I've been so worried about you which is nothing compared to the state that your mother is in? What's going on?"
Kim gave Ron a small smile and placed a reassuring hand on his shoulder. "Sorry I'm a little late. I had to be sure that no one was following you before I could make contact."
The teen gave his friend a very dubious look at the thought that someone would follow the 'sidekick' part of Team Possible. "Ah, Kim, why would anyone want to follow me?"
The redhead gave a little sigh as she began leading him away from the spot on the trail where he had caught up with her and over towards the bench. "That's a very good question, Ron, and I promise that by the end of our talk tonight, it will be answered."
"What else do we have to talk about?"
Kim turned and looked Ron straight in the eye to convey the seriousness of what she was about to say. She took a deep breath, just enough to brace her for what she was about to lower on her poor unsuspecting friend. "Ron, we have to talk about the future of Team Possible. The future of us."
Author's Notes: To those of you who are patiently awaiting an update to "Their Good Name" please be assured that it is coming. There are currently four drafts of the chapter on my computer with a fifth being worked on now. Its not so much writer's block, as I know exactly what I want to convey in Chapter Six, its just that I've become quite disgusted with the quality of the work that I have produced.
So, something that one of my high school English teachers once told me was that if you ever found yourself writing and rewriting something over and over again without any luck, go write something else and allow your mind to focus on other matters. Then come back at what you were trying to write in the first place with a fresh view. So, I am taking his advice.
This was an idea (one of many others) that I had come up with and figured that this was a good time to get started on it. I'm going to put up one or two more chapters of this work along with my other new work, "The Legend of the Lotus Blade," before I return back to work on "Their Good Name," which should be Monday, 5/3. In the meantime, enjoy my two new works.
One other thing: For those of you who have read it, my first work, "Inner Strength" is being turned into a comic by one of the best KP artists that I have come across Rich Sirios. You can find the URL to the comic online in my bio section.