Ron ½ Book 2: Middleton Mayhem
Disclaimer: Kim Possible is owned by the Disney Corporation.
Ranma ½ is owned by Rumiko Takahashi and distributed by Viz.
This is a continuation of Ron ½. Please read that first, otherwise you may end up being hopelessly lost. Tsk, tsk. You just had to believe Ryoga when he said he knew how to get you home.
A/N: Closing out this chapter is a little Rongo lemonade. Nothing really goes over the line per se, but just giving fair warning.
Chapter 8: Second Best? - Part 3
The warning growl continued to roll malevolently from Shego's throat as she stared at Kim with an unwaveringly predatory gaze. Her hips began to sway slightly from side to side as she gathered her legs underneath her for that one giant leap that would close the between her and her prey. Her claws flexed in anticipation, leaving vicious looking gouges in the stone floor of the lair as a low growl rumbled in her throat.
"Okay, now that's a little freakish," Kim commented as she slowly began to back away from the growling villainess. Her muscles tensed in anticipation and prepared to dodge as she noticed the tell tale signals that indicated Shego was going to pounce.
The whoosh of an opening door brought a much needed distraction and startled Shego, briefly drawing her attention away from Kim as one of Drakken's minions staggered into the room burdened by a large container. The cat possessed villainess yowled suspiciously in thwarted rage as she stalked about in fury and leapt up onto the girders away from the annoying press of people. With one last distrustful glare at all the people who were making entirely too much noise Shego crouched on her perch and kept a wary eye on everyone below her.
"It certainly took you long enough!" Drakken berated the heavyset minion with a hiss as he quickly flung open the lid of the container...
... And pulled a large, silvery-sided salmon free of the ice.
"Here Shego. Nice Shego," Drakken said in a quavering voice as he held the fish up for her inspection. The hand holding the fish shook mightily as Shego focused her attention on Drakken and his offering. She growled in suspicion even as she eyed the fish with a hungry lick of her lips. She hissed warningly, baring her fangs as her eyes flicked her eyes over Drakken.
Quickly, Drakken set the fish on the ground and backed away, making sure to do so in nonthreatening motions. After a moment, Shego relaxed her stance and deigned to descend from her lofty perch in the girders. She paced warily around the salmon, her eyes darting back and forth as she searched out any threats. Satisfied that no one was going to dare make any move towards her, Shego let out a pleased meow and quickly pounced upon the fish. All of the onlookers in the lair made faces as the villainess began to happily bolt down chunks of raw fish.
"Bring in stage two," Drakken ordered in a fierce whisper once he was convinced that Shego was thoroughly engrossed in her meal and a trio of minions rapidly scurried from the room. Stage two progressed much faster as the minions return within moments with a large beige crate with various technical doodads haphazardly affixed to the exterior. Neither Kim nor Ron were immediately able to identify the object right off the bat, but despite its rather slapdash construction it appeared large enough to contain a person.
Perking her head up at the unexpected noises that were interrupting her meal, Shego flicked a curious glance upward and yowled in fierce protest as she noticed the minions dragging what she instinctively knew was an oversized cat carrier into the chamber. She abandoned her fish and backed away from the offensive object with her hackles raised, spitting venomously all the while.
"Now, now, Shego. Be a good kitty and get into the carrier," Drakken said soothingly as he brandished another fish pulled from the cooler and tossed it into the back of the cat carrier.
Not mollified in the slightest nor fooled by the apparent trap, Shego continued growling and spitting at the odious item. The furious noises continued as Shego raised a paw, her claws aglow with her comet power.
"Run away!" Drakken squeaked as Shego lashed out with a powered swipe that reduced the reinforced carrier into shards of metal and plastic.
Shego sniffed disdainfully in Drakken's direction and turned away from the cowering mad scientist with an imperious air as her head slowly panned about the room. Her searching gaze lingered momentarily on Kim, but eventually moved on, padding by on her paws. Her head twitched curiously as she focused on the lair's computer and she bounded up the dais. Lowering her head, Shego peered curiously underneath the mainframe and tapped the side of the unit with one paw as she let out an inquisitive meow.
Looking around the lair, Ron blanched as he realized that Rufus was nowhere in sight. Considering where Shego was currently focusing her attention, he quickly had to conclude that Rufus must have scurried under the safety of the nearest cover the instant Shego had gone into her crazy cat mode. But now Shego had somehow discerned where Rufus had secreted himself and her catlike instincts had kicked in. After seeing what her claws could do, Ron had an inkling of an idea what Shego might attempt in order to get at Rufus.
"Hey! Bad kitty! Get away from there!" Ron shouted as he jumped about and waved his arms to attract Shego's attention. "Bad kitty! Bad Shego! Bad!"
Shego raised her head up from her inspection of Rufus' hidey hole and studied Ron with narrowed eyes. Ron froze as Shego's cat eyes slowly and deliberately ran up and down his frame. "Um, nice kitty?" he quickly amended.
Briefly, Shego seemed torn with indecision as her gaze alternated from Ron to Rufus' hiding place. She shook her head as if in confusion, her eyes momentarily reverting back to her normal, human irises. Several times her expression wavered from curiosity, to malevolent rage, to something that bordered on lust and back again. After several moments of that strange inner conflict, Shego gathered herself and leapt for Ron.
"AAAHHH!" Ron screamed and closed his eyes in terror as Shego lunged for him, driving his body to the ground and the breath from his lungs. He kept his eyes screwed tightly shut as he waited expectantly for the swipe of Shego's claws that would turn him into several slices of sidekick sashimi.
After several moments had gone by without any of the agonizing pain that he had been expecting Ron finally dared to open his eyes. He had some trouble breathing, but that was to be expected considering that Shego was sitting on his chest. Ron carefully pushed himself up into a sitting position, taking extreme care not to disturb Shego and set her off on another rampage. "Um, KP. Little help," he said quietly as Shego fluidly shifted into a slightly more comfortable position on his lap. Ron gulped nervously as Shego began purring loudly, making her contentment known to all around.
Shego hissed warningly and raised one paw in preparation to strike as Kim cautiously approached. Prudently, Kim decided to back off and Shego settled back onto Ron's lap. After casting one last suspicious look at Kim, Shego resumed her purring and began rubbing her head against his shoulder, much to Ron's discomfort.
"Ron, can you think of anything to calm her down?" Kim asked as she tried to wrap her head around this bizarre sight.
"Like what?" Ron squeaked plaintively as Shego shifted position on his lap and began licking at her paws.
Kim shrugged, for once at a loss as to what do in order to resolve the situation. "Try petting her," she suggested and winced as she remembered what 'petting' usually entailed between two people. It was an old reference to be sure, more suited to her parents' generation, but one she recalled with crystal clarity as well as the horrifyingly embarrassing lecture about the birds and the bees she had received from her mother all those years ago. "I mean like you would a cat," she quickly amended.
"Um, how else would I pet her?" Ron asked, missing the hidden nuance of the term. "I mean I can't be sure, but I don't think cat Shego would appreciate me petting her like a dog."
"Just do it Ron," Kim snapped, her face turning an interesting shade of red as she tried to banish some unwelcome images burning their way into her mind's eye.
Ron gamely began stroking Shego from the top of her head and down along her spine. "On a weirdness scale of one to ten, this is definitely a twelve," he muttered to himself as he continued the soothing motions. Shego's purring intensified, very nearly rattling Ron's body from the force of the vibrations rumbling from her chest. "Make that a twenty."
Shego seemed to shiver with delight under his ministrations, worsening Ron's predicament as she arched her back and squirmed slightly against his hand. Granted she was extremely evil and liable to hurt him in ways he could only begin to imagine, but having a beautiful woman nestled in his lap was causing certain reactions that Ron had little control over. To make the problem even worse, Shego was starting to knead his thigh with her paws, er, hands. And every time that Ron's hand would slow in stroking Shego, she'd turn her head slightly to give him a warning glare and growl until he dutifully picked up the pace again.
"Um, this is not helping," Ron pointed out with his free hand, as his voice quavered from nervousness.
Kim wracked her mind to come up with a solution. "Well, maybe you could try singing. It works on Rufus," she finally suggested out of desperation.
Desperate and willing to try anything at this point, Ron took a deep breath. "Rock-a-bye Shego on the treetop. When wind the blows, the cradle will rock." Shego twitched in curiosity as Ron's oddly soothing voice washed over her. "When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall." The purring seemed to trail off slightly as Shego's breathing deepened. "And down will come Shego, cradle and all."
Cautiously, so that he wouldn't disturb the apparently sleeping Shego, Ron craned his neck around to peer at her slumbering face. "Phew. So glad that worked," Ron sighed in relief.
In the meantime, Drakken, stunned into silence by this odd display and the command the buffoon had over his assistant, forcibly shook himself out of his stupor and sidled somewhat closer to Kim. "I'll make you a deal, Kim Possible," he said softly, making the teen heroine whirl around in surprise. "I will give you back the AI if you'll let me borrow the buffoon."
"No deal," Kim stated flatly as she crossed her arms and glared suspiciously at her arch-foe.
"Oh, come on! Be reasonable!" Drakken bellowed, infuriated at the recalcitrance of the teenager in front of him. Sometimes he felt she did it to simply goad him into fits of rage. "It would just be a temporary loan! I wasn't going to keep him!"
Disturbed by the sound of Drakken's yelling, Shego began to stir on Ron's lap, causing him to blanch. "Um, Drakken, you might want to turn down the shouting," he suggested as quietly as he could.
"You don't tell me what to do, buffoon!" Drakken snarled viciously.
"Oh, crud. That did it," Ron groaned as he felt Shego begin to stir in a prelude to full wakefulness.
"You buffoon! Look what you did now!" Drakken shouted as he leveled an accusing finger at Ron.
"Hey! Not my fault!" Ron shouted back. "You were the one starting with all the yelling!"
"Well, you were the one making me yell!" Drakken yelled back.
Before Ron could shout back another denial, Shego stretched and straightened into a sitting position, causing Ron to clam up with a nervous swallow. Shego rolled her shoulders with a yawn before settling back with a tranquil smile on her face. She sighed in lazy contentment as she turned her head slight so that her sleepy eyes met Ron's slightly panicked ones. The two pairs of eyes stared at each other for a moment, one sleepy and one downright terrified.
Abruptly, Shego's eyes flew wide open in confused anger as she finally noticed where exactly she was sitting. "What the HELL!" she roared as she leapt to her feet and unleashed a blast that sent Ron sailing across the room.
"Ugh! I'm okay," Ron said gamely as he tried to haul himself to his feet and shake off the jolt that Shego's energy blast had given him. He swayed unsteadily on his feet for a moment before crashing back down on the floor. "But I think I'm just going to lay down here for a sec on this nice, soft concrete."
"Shego! You're back!" Drakken cried happily as he rushed forward to gather her up in an ecstatic bear hug. "You're you again!"
"ARGH! What did we agree on about touching?" Shego snarled, her hands blazing to life after prying herself free of Drakken's embrace.
"Not to?" Drakken supplied timidly as he shrank away from the enraged woman.
"Damn straight!" Shego yelled as she whipped her head about in confusion. "Now what the hell is going on?"
"Um, um," Drakken temporized uncomfortably, not really sure how to explain the situation, if he even could at all.
"Talk!" Shego bellowed as she splayed her glowing fingers open in a threatening manner. The glow surrounding her hand flared in intensity and moved upwards from her wrist towards her fingertips. Drakken stared wide-eyed and speechless at Shego's hands as the glow extended past her fingers and resolved itself into a set of very lethal looking claws.
"Huh, that's new," Shego grunted as she studied this new aspect of her powers. The greenish claws were no longer surrounded by her ever present glow and extended some six inches past the finger tips of her clawed gloves reminding her of that series of horror movies that had been so popular years ago. She tapped her thumb claw against the others and was surprised to hear a rather substantial 'click.' It was almost as if the claws were solid, like they were composed of some sort of translucent crystal instead of her usual green glow.
Though her claws no longer emitted any visible glow, when she whipped them through the air they left behind a glowing after image as if they were slicing through the air itself. She took an experimental swipe at the back of a nearby chair and grinned broadly as the hard material fell apart in several neat and even slices.
"Ooh, Shego likes," Shego murmured appreciatively as she flexed her new claws. "Round Two, Princess," she growled with a fierce joy shining in her eyes as she wheeled to rejoin the fight with her rival.
Kim gulped slightly in apprehension as Shego advanced on her. She had to forcibly remind herself that she had handled Shego before. It was simply a matter of avoiding Shego's hands, something Kim had ample experience dealing with. Tightening her resolve, Kim prepared to meet Shego's attack. In most cases, Shego usually leapt at her in an attempt to bring her glow enhanced fists into play.
True to form, Shego charged at Kim, her clawed hands extended in a potentially disemboweling strike. Kim angled her body around the strike, using Shego's shoulder as a pivot to flip out of danger and used her borrowed momentum to coil low against the ground in an attempt to sweep the villainess' legs out from under her.
As Shego stumbled from Kim's attack, she instinctively raked her claws through the air, missing Kim by a fraction of an inch. Both pairs of green eyes widened in surprise as blazing arcs of green energy sprang from Shego's fingertips and sliced deeply into the stone wall several feet behind Kim.
"Now this I can work with," Shego grinned as she inspected the new addition to her arsenal. Most times when she unleashed a blast with her glow it usually just acted like a battering ram, bowling aside any and all obstacles. Rarely had she been able to make any ranged attacks with significant penetration unless she was intently focusing on her target.
The grin on Shego's face was fairly devilish as she whipped her claws about and sent scything blades of emerald energy arcing for Kim. Kim dodged to the left, flinging her body out of harm's way. Shego's newest power blast didn't really move any faster than her usual, the trouble was that it had such a big foot print. That one attack had carved several deep channels over a twenty foot area of the lair's stone floor. With Shego able to fling those blades about at will Kim needed to close the distance between the two of them. Doing so would put her at an extreme disadvantage though. Close proximity to Shego's new claws could very well prove fatal.
"My lair!" Drakken mourned as Shego's claws neatly shredded most of the remaining equipment.
"Could use a little help, Ron!" Kim called as she twisted her body and narrowly avoided another slice of green energy that carved a deep furrow into the lair floor.
"On my way, KP," Ron called and began running for Shego, intent on bum-rushing her, in spite of her new lethal glow, and at the very least making her take her focus off of Kim for a second. It took a moment for him to realize that though he was running at full speed he wasn't getting any closer to the two combatants. Looking down he saw his legs futilely churning away at thin air.
"What the... Hey! Let me go!" Ron demanded at the pair of Drakken's minions held him aloft by his arms.
"How about we let the ladies discuss this between themselves," Drakken advised as he unplugged the AI from the mainframe and tucked it underneath his arm.
The distance between the two women widened as Kim was forced to retreat even farther from those scything arcs of lambent energy. The two were at something of an impasse as Kim could not advance without the risk of being torn to shreds and Shego couldn't connect with her extended slashes due to Kim's innate agility. Abruptly Shego shifted her aim slightly, tossing her glow with seemingly wild abandon as Kim danced about to avoid that flurry of lethal strikes though it did seem that Shego was throwing her shots a little wide.
Suddenly, Shego stopped flinging those green blades of energy and Kim panted slightly at the unexpected respite. With a smirk on her face, Shego crossed her arms expectantly and casually jerked her chin at the wall behind Kim.
Kim turned and her green eyes widened in surprise at the sight of the lair's stone walls, weakened to the point of failure by Shego's slashing attacks and collapsing towards her. She began to run, sure in the knowledge that she could outrun the falling cascade of rubble. She nimbly dodged the lethal rain of falling rock, guided by instinct until a small fist sized chunk of stone slammed into her leg, right behind the knee and pulled a cry of pain from Kim's throat as her leg suddenly went numb. Kim stumbled and tried valiantly to recover her lost speed with a numb leg, but the debris already strewn about the floor slowed her up. She turned and flung a woefully inadequate arm up over her head in an attempt to ward off the cascade.
"KIM!" Ron yelled as he wrestled free of the minions in a surprising display of strength and grabbed the Lotus Amulet at his throat. With all his strength, he desperately flung it towards Kim as quickly as he could before he was again tackled by the swarm of minions. In mid-flight the amulet flashed and resolved itself into the form of a spinning shield arcing over Kim's head an instant before the cresting wave of rubble broke over her head and engulfed her.
"KIM!" Ron yelled again as he struggled to free himself. Held aloft by his arms, his feet churned futilely at thin air as he wrenched his body around in the grasp of Drakken's minions. He had to dig Kim out. The power of the Lotus Shield should have protected her somewhat, but that protection would amount to very little if he didn't get all that rock off of her.
Shego stared impassively at the pile of stone and grunted. "Well, I always knew that I'd bury Kimmie someday." The instant the words left her lips, Shego knew that they sounded a little off and stilted. It sounded like something said in a bad movie.
Though cheered by the fact that she had finally beaten Kim Possible, now that the moment had finally come, after innumerable fights, she couldn't help but feel a little bit of a letdown. It just seemed too damn easy. The moment felt somehow surreal, as if any second now Kim would burst from the rubble virtually unscathed. However after several moments and no movement whatsoever from the rock pile Shego had to conclude that Kim Possible had finally fallen at her hand.
"KIM!" Ron cried again, redoubling his efforts to free himself and on the verge of dislocating his own joints in the process. His body suddenly jerked and stiffened in shock as a sizzling current shot agonizingly through him and turned his muscles into jelly. He barely felt his body hit the floor when the minions finally released him and just before the darkness claimed him, he could finally see that one minion had the foresight to hit him with one of those zap sticks that Drakken had in his arsenal.
"Excellent work, Shego!" Drakken chortled as he gleefully rubbed his hands together. "Just wait until the villainous community hears about this! Oh, this is definitely going in my blog tonight!"
"Yeah, yeah, whatever. It's what you pay me for," Shego mumbled somewhat half heartedly. She kept stealing glances at the ruined heap of stone, half expecting for what? Kimmie to emerge and continue their fight?
"So what are we going to do now, Dr D?" Shego asked, more to keep busy and do something than dwell on these odd feelings of regret gnawing at her.
Casting a look around the ruined lair, Drakken let out a heavy sigh. "Well, obviously we'll have to relocate. The villainous insurance adjuster is never going to believe this."
"Sure. Whatever you say. I'll get the hover car prepped, you grab the AI," Shego said.
"Oh, and bring the buffoon," Drakken instructed offhandedly as he moved about the lair, grabbing some miscellaneous items he would need for his evil scheme.
"Huh? Why? What do we need him for?" Shego asked somewhat uncomfortably as she stole a quick glance to where the unconscious Ron lay in a heap. "We won. Kimmie's goo at the bottom of that pile."
"Oh, let's just call it insurance," Drakken replied cryptically.
As the small fleet of hovercars flew off into the night sky, the pile of stone that Shego had intended to be Kim Possible's burial mound finally began to twitch. At long last, with a grunt of effort Kim thrust the arm bearing the Lotus Shield upwards and sent a small shower of rock tumbling down the side. With another grunt she painstakingly hauled herself free of the mound and slid down to the ground.
There was a hiss of pain as Kim's weight came down on her injured leg and she nearly collapsed, but held herself upright through sheer force of will. In her hand, the Lotus Shield shimmered, briefly shifting into its sword form before resuming its amulet shape. Kim gave the amulet in her hand a look before staring off into the night sky and at the receding fleet of hovercars.
There was a tug on her pant leg and Kim looked down to see Rufus standing there with a lost, forlorn expression on his face. He pointed off into the sky, after the departing fleet and gave her pant leg another insistent tug. In an instant, Kim knew what Rufus was telling her.
"Ron," she said softly.
High in the mountains of Peru a feminine shriek of pure outrage cut through the clear, rapidly brightening sky.
"Okay! Now cut that out!" Ron-chan shrilly demanded, moments after being doused with a bucket of cold water. She shivered as the cool air blew across her bare skin. Clad only in her boxers, there was a good deal of skin in contact with the cool air. Drakken's apparatus had her suspended a few inches off the floor, a number of metallic tentacles wrapped around her wrists, ankles and waist. Various scanning devices were pointed at her and while Ron-chan couldn't be absolutely certain, she thought that at least one of them was supposed to be one of Drakken's death rays.
Standing close by, with an empty bucket in hand, Shego snickered loudly. "You know, this is fun no matter how many times I do this."
"I'm so glad for you," Ron-chan said with a withering glare as she shivered in the cool confines of Drakken's lair. With slow deliberation Ron-chan shifted her gaze from Shego to the true subject of her ire. "You know, I got a real special kick to go along with that slap, you pervert," she promised in a glacially chill voice.
"It was an honest mistake!" Drakken bellowed from his seat in front of the lair's computer, a red handprint on his cheek and some tissue paper plugging his nostrils.
-Just a few hours earlier-
Drakken's fleet of hovercars circled around the peak of Taishu Falls nestled deep in the mountains of Peru. After a few minutes of playing their scanners over the falling wall of water, the convoy burst through the falls and quickly settled onto the hangar floor.
"Okay, why can't you put in a nice door like the ones Hench Co offers?" Shego complained as she gave her soaked hair a toss over her shoulder. "Do you have any idea how long it takes for hair like mine to dry?"
"Do you have any idea how much those things cost?" Drakken demanded as he gave Shego a withering look. He knew of the systems that Shego was referring to. It was one of those lair options listed in the Hench Co catalog. The system was installed at the top of the waterfall and when opened, diverted the flow of water to either side of the lair's entrance with a pair of massive doors. It was a nice system, but part of the problem was that it was hideously expensive and required a tremendous amount of power. Not to mention it would take forever to complete the construction unless he happened to use non-union labor. But sadly there were drawbacks to that as well.
"What? Can't you use your welfare earnings to buy one?" Shego asked sweetly.
"Shego! Would you just bring the buffoon?" Drakken ordered with an irritated growl.
"You do realize that water and electronics don't mix," she pointed out, still snickering slightly. "Remember what happened with your robots when they got slurpstered."
"Make one little mistake and it haunts you for the rest of your life," Drakken grumbled.
"So we brought Kimmie's sidekick, why?"
"I have my reasons," Drakken replied evasively.
Shego just shrugged. "Whatever. You realize though that Kimmie's going to come looking. She knows where this lair is you know."
"Bah. You said it yourself, Shego. Kim Possible is buried under a mountain of rubble in our old lair. Just wait until the villainous community hears about this. Suck on that Dementor!"
Shego scowled in confusion as an unexpected swell of disappointment washed over her. While confident in her ability and what she had seen with her own two eyes, the thought that Kim Possible had really met her end in the old lair seemed, well, pardon the pun, but impossible. She still half-expected Kimmie to somehow appear out of the blue and foil Drakken's plot. It was just the way these things were done.
Tossing her damp length of hair about, Shego banished those thought and bent to pick Stoppable up off the floor of the hovercar. If Kimmie did survive she would show up eventually. If not, then it would make it that much easier to take over the world. Maybe it would be disappointingly easy, but Shego supposed that ruling over Iceland would manage to occupy her attention for a little while.
Something about the sidekick seemed a little off. Shego didn't mean about how he could be a complete klutz and yet take out Drakken's minions in such a way that it usually resulted in the destruction of Drakken's latest superweapon. There was something funny about the way Stoppable was laying on the floor of the hovercar. He somehow seemed a little smaller and… did he actually look a little curvier?
"Um, Dr. D? Something's not right here," Shego said as she rolled Ron onto his back and was immediately presented with a pair of very female attributes. She gave the unconscious sidekick's chest a tentative poke with a finger just to be sure that what she saw was actually real.
"Can't you handle it, Shego?" Drakken whined. "I want to give Dementor a call and really gloat."
"I'm pretty sure you're gonna wanna see this," Shego answered uncertainly as Ron-chan began to stir, revived by the deluge of water and Shego's exploratory pokes.
"I know I'm a prisoner, but would it be too much to ask for an ibuprofen?" Ron-chan pleaded as she sat up, clutching at her head.
"Wait a minute. Who's she? Where's the buffoon?" Drakken demanded with a confused expression on his face.
"I'm right here. Is it too much to ask that you remember my name? It's not all that hard to remember," Ron-chan grumbled irritably as she adjusted the fit of her soaking wet mission shirt and quickly took stock of their change in venue. "Can't you get one of those sliding rock doors like a normal villain? Or at the very least, put a roof on your hovercars?"
"B-but, you're not, you know, you," Drakken stuttered, ignoring the sidekick's criticisms at he leveled an accusing finger at Ron-chan's rather prominent female assets.
Ron-chan glanced down to where Drakken was pointing. "Oh, yeah. That. Welcome to my world," she muttered with a distinct lack of enthusiasm.
"Bah! It's gotta be some sort of trick," Drakken confidently declared as he grabbed the hem of the sidekick's shirt and yanked it upwards. His eyes widened in surprise as he came face to chest with a well-formed pair of breasts. Slowly, he raised a hand and gave the breast, that could not possibly be, in fact, a real breast, a tentative squeeze. With a look of disbelief at this apparent impossibility on his face, Drakken raised his gaze to the most definitely female buffoon's very angry eyes just as a trickle of crimson dripped from his nose.
"Blood, hair, skin, saliva. All normal," Drakken declared with a look of complete bafflement written across his face. "Aside from the fact that there's no conservation of mass and the differing blood types, you're perfectly normal. Too normal. There's not a single special thing about you."
"Hey! I still have feelings you know!" Ron-chan shouted in protest at Drakken's rather insulting assessment.
"So are you going to quit playing doctor with the sidekick and get back to cracking the AI?" Shego asked, her voice dripping with wry amusement. She glanced at the AI sitting rather forlornly on the floor, unpowered, unconnected and completely ignored.
"Aren't you just the least bit curious about… this?" Drakken wondered with a nebulous wave of his fingers at the mystery of the shape changing sidekick. The test subject in question was currently trying to shake what remained of the chilly water from her hair and shivered as the occasional breeze wafted across her skin.
"What's there to be curious about?" Shego responded with a bored shrug. "So the sidekick changes to a girl with cold water and back with hot water. Woohoo! Neat party trick."
"Trick! It completely defies the laws of physics," Drakken yelled, his scientific curiosity coming to the fore. "It's like the buffoon is two separate people crammed into one body."
"How many times do I have to tell you? It's magic! I'm cursed!" Ron-chan shouted vehemently, her chest heaving with frustration.
"Bah! There's no such thing as magic! There's always a scientific explanation!" Drakken retorted while trying his best to maintain eye contact with the buffoon. Even though all that heavy breathing was doing some interesting thing with buffoon's chest, the buffoon was still a male despite the visual evidence to the contrary. He supposed that it might have been prudent to leave the buffoon clothed in something more than his… er, her… er, whatever, boxers, but some of his equipment was rather sensitive and it was possible that clothing combined with the water and the temperature shifts would throw off his data.
"And figuring this out is going to help us take over the world, how?" Shego asked curiously before Drakken and Ron could launch into a debate about science and magic. It was a tirade that had been going back and forth with no result.
"No pure research is ever wasted, Shego," Drakken asserted loftily.
"Uh huh, and while we're wasting time with this Kimmie might be coming to the rescue," Shego pointed out.
"Bah, you said it yourself. Kim Possible is buried under the ruins of the old lair," Drakken scoffed as he waved aside Shego's caveat. "We have all the time in the world."
"Yeah, maybe not," Shego disagreed. "Kimmie always manages to turn up for some reason. She's harder to kill than a cockroach."
"Ugh," Drakken shuddered. "Y-you don't happen to see any of those disgusting things do you?"
"What? Don't tell me you did the same things to them as you did with the termites?" Shego demanded half accusingly as she quickly cast her eyes around the lair.
"Of course not!" Drakken quickly denied. "It's just that a few of them might have been exposed to a little radiation is all."
"Oy. I'm going to go make sure we have a can of Raid in the kitchen," she growled irritably.
"Wait Shego! You can't go yet!" pleaded Drakken.
"What?" Shego asked expressionlessly. "Why not?"
"I need one more sample, Shego," Drakken said hesitantly.
"So get your sample already," Shego answered. "You don't need me here for that."
Drakken looked distinctly uncomfortable as he glanced from Ron to Shego and back again. "Um, well see the thing is, I really can't do something like that," Drakken said hesitantly.
"Would you quit being a baby and just do it?" Shego demanded with an irritated look at her so called employer. "I thought you had all this 'scientific curiosity?'"
"I do!" Drakken shouted. "It's just that there are certain lines a person doesn't cross."
"What the heck are you talking about now?" Shego demanded.
Drakken looked a little sheepish as he leaned forward to whisper his instructions into her ear and cringed back as soon as he was finished.
"You want me to what?" Shego asked incredulously.
"Well, obviously you can see why I would have trouble with collecting this last sample," Drakken said timidly as he tried to justify his request.
Shego's face was a model of impassiveness as she processed all this. Her eyes shifted over to where Ron-chan was hanging and studied the blonde with a strange look that made her feel more than a little uneasy.
"Fine. I'll do it," Shego said slowly.
Drakken cringed and flinched away from Shego as she delivered her answer. "Ah! I'm sorry, Shego! I didn't mean to…" His voice trailed off as he realized that Shego had agreed to his request and wasn't promising him impending doom or bodily harm. "Wait. What did you just say?" he asked just to be sure that he wasn't simply hearing things.
"I said I'll do it," Shego answered her gaze still lingering upon Ron.
"Score one for scientific curiosity!" Drakken crowed as he raised his fist in triumph.
"Don't get me wrong, you are definitely giving me hazard pay for this," Shego pointed out. "And remember this is a one shot deal. Don't get into a habit of asking me to do things like this."
"Of course, Shego. One sample is all I need anyways," Drakken quickly agreed.
Picking up a kettle of hot water, Shego immediately doused Ron with its contents and watched as the sidekick reverted to his male form. The tentacles binding Ron shifted slightly, ensuring that the change in his body structure wouldn't afford him an opportunity to escape.
"Now get out," Shego ordered flatly as she stared at Ron's bound form with a smoldering gaze. It was an expression that he had never seen on Shego before, but instinctively he knew it did not bode well for him. In fact, in all likelihood this new expression probably correlated with some new painful experience.
"What was that?" Drakken asked in confusion.
"Leave," she ordered in a slightly louder tone of voice.
"But I have to stay to monitor the experiment," Drakken began to object.
Without even removing her gaze from Ron, Shego languidly raised an arm a fired off a blast right at Drakken's feet.
"Right. Well, it's obvious you have everything well in hand," Drakken said quickly in a reversal of his earlier position. "I'll just be leaving. Maybe give mother a call. You know how cross she gets when I don't give her a jingle."
Shego continued staring at Ron thoughtfully for a few moments after Drakken fled while the prisoner and subject of Drakken's latest experiment continued staring right back with a slightly sick and hopeful grin.
It was strange, but the more she stared at Kimmie's sidekick, the more she felt these increasingly odd urges well up within her. It had been there in the back of her mind ever since she had that blackout back at the old lair. A confused expression flickered across Shego's face as a war of emotions waged within her. After an eternity of struggle one side of her finally capitulated and quit the field of battle.
"I must be crazy," she finally muttered softly to herself before she turned to leave the chamber through the opposite door. "I know I'm crazy. This is completely crazy. Lock me up in a padded room crazy. I can't believe I'm doing this."
Alone at last, Ron tugged futilely at his bonds, straining at them until he felt as if his chest would burst, but like so many times in the past, he had to concede defeat. It was probably unintentional on Drakken's part, but the scientist had imprisoned Ron in such a way that he couldn't bring any of his abilities to bear. He wasn't sure if the Breaking Point technique would work on the metal coils, but the point was rather moot since he wasn't able to reach the coils with any of his fingers. He could try to lob a ki blast, but the machine that had produced the tentacles sat directly behind him and though Ron craned his neck about, he couldn't see anything that he could hit which would be remotely helpful to him. Though he ransacked through the library of his newly acquired skills, he could not find one that would help him escape.
"Um, hello?" Ron called out uncertainly as he remained suspended on the harness, utterly alone in the middle of Drakken's lair. "Can I go home now?"
The sound of slow, measured footsteps approaching the chamber filled Ron with a sense of dread. If it was Kim coming to rescue him, the footsteps would be quicker and stealthier. This was a slow pace meant to unnerve him and it was doing a good job of it too. For some reason an image of a black hooded executioner came to mind and refused to leave.
Ron felt his jaw unhinge and he gurgled unintelligibly as Shego reentered the chamber dressed in a strange variation of her usual uniform. Green was still the predominant color, though a slightly lighter shade than on her usual jumpsuit. And there was still some black material, primarily as side panels to separate the front from the back. There the resemblance to Shego's usual outfit ended. This outfit was a sleeveless one piece skirt that showed off Shego's legs to full effect and came with a matching cap perched on top of her head. She was even wearing a pair of heels.
"Um, hi, what's with the outfit?" Ron asked in a slightly sick tone of voice.
"Oh, I just felt like dressing up," Shego answered mysteriously.
"Well, could you go put the rest of it on?"
Shego giggled at that, an unexpectedly girlish sound seemingly devoid of thought coming from one of the most dangerous women he had ever happened to meet. "This is a favor for you. Just consider me your angel of mercy," she answered serenely.
"Would the mercy part involve you letting me go?" Ron asked hopefully.
"Before we begin, I have just one question. Why?" Shego asked, ignoring Ron's tentative question as she gave him a strange look.
"Um, would you get mad if I happened to say that I have no idea what you're talking about?" Ron asked hesitantly.
"Why did you rescue me?" Shego demanded in a louder voice. "That day outside your school when Drakken was all 'declare me emperor of your town.'"
"Oh, that. Uh, reflex, I guess," Ron answered as honestly as he could. He wasn't prepared to see Shego's face contort in anger as his statement hit home.
"Reflex? Reflex! I am not some damned damsel in distress. I could have handled myself," Shego yelled, raising a hand wreathed in green flame.
Ron stared at the glowing green hand. Yup, that was the Shego he knew and remembered. And feared. Can't forget feared. That was normal. Normal was good. Okay, normal Shego was violent Shego and would hurt him, so that wasn't all good, but it was better that weird Shego. Weird Shego just plain scared the crap out of him.
"Oh, right, women's lib and all that," Ron said quickly. "So does that mean I was supposed to let you get smushed by the thing that was going to smush you?"
"Argh! You are impossible!" Shego howled in frustration.
"No, actually I'm Ron. Ron Stoppable," Ron answered disingenuously. "Don't think anyone's ever confused me for Kim before. Well, except for that time we got brain switched, but that's another thing entirely."
"Okay, this is getting me nowhere and fast," Shego grumbled to herself as she extinguished her flame. "Might as well just collect the damn sample and be done with it."
"Waitasecond! What in the hell do you think you're doing?" Ron yelped, his eyes wide and panicked as Shego grabbed hold of his waistband.
"Drakken needed one more sample," Shego answered matter-of-factly.
Ron shook his head and wrenched his body about in a renewed attempt to escape his bonds. "What kind of sample does he expect to find in my pants!"
"Come on, you gotta be smarter than that," Shego replied dryly with a somewhat playful gleam in her eye. "I'll give you three guesses and the first two don't count."
"Ohnonononono. You can just forget about that. Why the heck are you collecting that sample for Drakken anyways?" Ron demanded.
Shego shrugged and the confused look once again reappeared on her face as she stared into his eyes. "I-I don't really know why. I mean you're not all that good looking and even though you did rescue me, that's really not enough to make me feel this way about you, plus you're Kimmie's freaking side-kick."
There was a slight shake to Shego's head as if she were trying to clear the strange thoughts and feelings from her mind. "Wait a second. You didn't slip me something did you?" she asked as she gave Ron a suspicious look.
Ron scoffed in disbelief, glancing down at his bound form. "You're kidding me right? In case, you haven't noticed, but I'm the prisoner here. I should be asking you that!"
"This-this isn't right. There's something weird going on here," she muttered uncertainly as she tried again to clear her head.
Ron took a different tack as he tried to take advantage of Shego's momentary confusion. "Okay, I can see that you obviously have some issues, so how about I just leave while you work them out?"
With another shake of her head, Shego managed to clear some of the fog from her mind and fixed Ron with a slightly amused look. "Nice try, but if my issues involve you, then letting you go doesn't really help me."
"Well, it was worth a shot."
Shego snapped her fingers. "I got it. How about you consider this a thank you then?"
"Ah, a thank you?" Ron parroted, momentarily taken aback. "Can't you send a card like a normal person?"
"This is more fun. I don't like ordinary dates," Shego answered, a warm feeling suffusing her body.
"How is this in anyway a date?" Ron incredulously demanded.
"Well, you're a boy. I'm a girl. You're wearing almost nothing. I'm wearing this. Sounds like a date to me," Shego replied as she leaned up against him and used her fingertips to trace an idle design upon his chest.
"Okay, let me remind you. I had no control over any of that," Ron pointed out indignantly as he defiantly jerked his chin over to where his clothes laid. "In fact, gimme my clothes and I'll fix this problem. And as for the other? Well, I'm only a boy half the time, so dating is obviously out of the question."
"Why are you acting so frightened?" Shego mock pouted.
Ron let out a brief, derisive chuckle. "Because you scare the hell out of me," he answered truthfully. "Every time we've been this close, it usually ends up with me getting hurt."
"Oh, don't worry. I won't hurt you, well, not unless you want me to," she offered coquettishly.
Ron merely stared at the villainess in shock, not believing what his ears were hearing. He rapidly shook his head from side to side, hoping that once his vision cleared this would turn out to be nothing more an extremely vivid, if somewhat disturbing, dream. It had to be a dream. Nothing this strange could happen to him more than once in a single lifetime. This was his fault for eating some chunky salsa left out past the expiration date. Any moment now, he would wake up and find this was a really bad dream. Yup, any moment now. He opened his eyes, fully expecting to see his ceiling only to see Shego still in her rather abbreviated nurse's outfit making those same weird eyes at him.
"I have magic fingers," Shego said in a sing-song voice as she playfully twiddled her fingers in front of Ron's eyes.
"I know! I know! Why do you think I'm so freaked? You can rip through solid steel with those fingers!" Ron protested shrilly.
"So you want me to stop?" Shego asked with that same coquettish look on her face.
"Yes! I think that should be obvious by this point!"
Shego paused and actually seemed to consider that momentarily.
"No. You don't really want me to stop," she finally decided.
"Yes! Yes, I do!" Ron protested strongly.
"Relax, I am a professional after all," Shego said soothingly, but her words did not have the intended effect on Ron.
"I don't even want to think about what that means!"
"Trust me. This is purely in the interest of science," Shego said reassuringly as she again grabbed the waistband and pulled it towards her. "Hello," she said in surprise as she quickly took a peek inside.
"Enough already!" Ron pleaded.
"Let's see. How did that expression go?" Shego mused thoughtfully, ignoring Ron's panic as she reached for her goal. "It's time to shake the dew off this lily."
Unable to watch Shego collect her 'sample,' Ron flung his head backward, praying for something, anything that could get Shego to halt her ministrations. "This isn't fair!" he wailed at the uncaring ceiling. "It's not my fault! I didn't even drink anything weird today!"
The more he thought about it, the more it seemed like Shego was under the effects of the same love potion that had Bonnie jumping all over him. But that was clearly impossible. He had been careful not to drink or eat anything when Chin Kang was nearby.
A low rumble permeated throughout the lair causing both Ron and Shego to look around curiously. "What the hell is that?" Shego said as she gave voice to their mutual feeling of unease moments before the lair's wall collapsed inward in a shower of rubble.
"Ack!" Shego yelped as she pressed up against Ron in surprise.
"Knock, knock," a familiar voice could be heard saying through the clouds of dust.
Ron felt his spirits rise at the sound of that voice and then plummet just as quickly. "Oh crap. I'm so dead now," he moaned, instinctively knowing that Kim had come to his rescue as usual and that his luck was running true to form.
"We are here to rescue, Ron-san," Ron heard Yori say. Ron could only wince at the plural implicit in the word 'we.' If Kim had brought along Yori, then it was a sure bet that Lo Shin had come along too. Recalling the punishments that the girls had inflicted upon him for the sin of saving Shego from being pancaked, he could only begin to imagine the punishment for being found in such a compromising situation.
As the dust cleared, all three girls gasped in unison at seeing Ron's state of undress and his rather close proximity to one green tinged villainess.
"Um, hi," Ron said weakly, a sick feeling welling up inside of him. "This isn't what it looks like." Even as he said it, he knew that is was an incredibly lame thing to say. Not that he expected the girls to actually listen to him in the first place.
Not all that long ago, Lo Shin had looked up to Xian Pu as a role model. It was only natural of course. Xian Pu was the strongest and most promising warrior in the village. Their momentary clash in Nerima over possession of the Monkey Talisman had wiped away some of the hero worship, but not all.
True, Xian Pu was constantly abusing Mu Tsu, but there were times when even Lo Shin had to admit that her brother deserved it. Lo Shin had lost count of all the times that her brother had made the mistake of professing his love of Xian Pu to some large farm animal or statue.
The one thing that could possibly be considered as a flaw in her Amazon sister was her lack of fluency in foreign languages. Not to say that Xian Pu was stupid. The purple haired Amazon had simply chosen to concentrate on other things, like Ranma for instance. But in the time that Lo Shin had spent in Nerima in the company of her fellow Amazons she did have to concede that sometimes Xian Pu's curious vernacular had its uses.
"YOU I KILL!" Lo Shin thundered as she charged at Shego, her staff held before like a lance, ready to impale the shameless woman who had attempted to steal her man upon its end.
No less incensed by the display they had just witnessed, Yori was right beside the Amazon, her razor sharp fans snapped open to full extension and her arms quivering with barely repressed rage. Where Lo Shin had given voice to her anger, Yori chose to let her actions speak for her. A blush bloomed upon Yori's cheeks as she considered what might have occurred in the lair before their arrival. Her momentary embarrassment was quickly replaced by rage. The audacity of the villainess had to be punished. The liberties she had taken with Ron-san's body demanded to be avenged.
"Okay, geisha girls, just try it!" Shego challenged as she flung her hands outward and summoned forth her power.
Her glow flickered wanly about her arms, creeping down towards her fingertips. Shego took a deep breath forcing her power to do her will, but there was a marked difference. Before, where the power seemed to flow naturally of its own accord, now it seemed like trying draw water from a dry well.
Finally, after expending a tremendous amount of effort, a wan green glow flowed past Shego's fingertips and coalesced into a set of claws. But something was terribly wrong and Shego could feel it. Before, when she had summoned forth her new claws, they had been solid and incredibly powerful, but now her claws seemed weak and fragile and after a single experimental slash through the air they evaporated in a shower of green sparks
"Oh, crap," was all that Shego was able to get out before the two enraged girls were upon her. She hastily kicked off her heels. Fighting barefoot might have put her at a disadvantage, but less so than attempting to balance herself in high heels. Besides. Those were actually a pair of very nice shoes and she didn't want to ruin them.
Lo Shin jabbed at Shego's head with her staff and she ducked under the blow, grabbing hold of the weapon, pulling the shorter girl in closer for a counterattack. But before she could retaliate with a kick that would fold the Chinese girl in half, Shego's instincts kicked in and she backflipped away from a slash from Yori's fans.
Shego grimaced and tried again to summon her glow power, but to no avail. If only her powers were working properly she would have been able to destroy the staff just now and level the playing field somewhat. Individually, these two girls weren't quite up to her level, but together they were close enough to give her a challenge.
As the three women careened about the lair in a wild melee of fists, staff and fans, Ron's eyes focused on Kim. He was elated to see that she had survived her impromptu burial at the other lair. Apparently his sending the Lotus Shield to protect Kim had saved her from serious harm. He did notice that she walked with a slight limp, but Ron was sure that Kim would be able to completely recover given a few days rest.
"Hey! Would you two give me a break here?" Shego demanded crossly as she hastily dodged a pincer style attack from Yori and Lo Shin. She grabbed at her dress to ensure that she didn't pop out of the garment at the worst possible moment. "I'm wearing a skirt here!"
"Now you know how I feel!" Kim and Ron heckled the villainess in unison.
"Jinx! You owe me a soda," Kim got out an instant before Ron could.
"Aww, man," Ron whined, momentarily forgetting his imprisonment.
Ron gave Kim a slightly sheepish look as he hung in the grip of the restraints. "Um, Kim, I can explain. This wasn't what it looked like."
Kim merely arched an eyebrow at him. "Really, so Shego wasn't dressed in some weird nurse's outfit, you're not hanging from one of Drakken's contraptions wearing only your boxers and the two of you weren't standing really close together?"
Ron blew out a defeated breath from between his teeth. "Okay, so it was what it looked like. But just so you know, this wasn't my idea at all."
Kim spotted the number of discarded kettles and buckets. "Yeah, I think I pretty much figured that. So who found out about your curse? Drakken or Shego?"
"Both! Would believe that Drakken felt me up and got a nosebleed?"
The image that appeared in Kim's mind made her pause in shock. Though the mad scientist had put her in harm's way many times she had never would have imagined him capable of doing something like that.
"Drakken felt you up?" she asked incredulously, her jaw hanging slightly at the image.
There was an apologetic shrug from Ron. "Well, to be fair, he kinda thought they were fake. Well, that is until he squeezed. And then he got the nosebleed."
The image of Drakken and Ron forming in Kim's mind was even stranger than the one she had witnessed only moments ago. "Sick and wrong," she finally said as she stuck out her tongue.
"That's what I said," Ron agreed fervently. "It's worse than that. It's wrongsick!"
"So what did you do then?"
Ron shrugged again. "Well, then I slapped him."
"That's it? You slapped him?"
"Well, I was a girl at the time, so it only seemed natural. Why? What would you do?"
Kim shuddered at the new image forming in her mind. "N-never mind. I hope I never have to find out."
"Oh, oh, yeah. That would be very wrong. Very, very wrong. Worse than wrongsick!" Ron agreed as he now shared the image that was passing through Kim's mind. "Can we change the subject?"
"Please and thank you," Kim said gratefully as she grabbed hold of one of the coils and gave it an experimental tug. The coil hummed under her fingers resisting her efforts to dislodge it.
"Yeah, that's on there pretty good, KP," Ron supplied as he watched Kim's attempt to free him.
Kim glanced about the lair in search of some sort of control to Ron's restraints. There weren't any controls on the device itself, nor could she spot anything that looked like a remote control. She cocked her head to one side as she stared at one of the devices currently pointed in their direction. "Isn't that one of Drakken's death rays?" Kim asked curiously as she pointed at the object in question.
Ron nodded his head enthusiastically. "Now see, that's what I thought," he quickly agreed. "So could we get me out of this thing so the death ray isn't pointing at me?"
Kim took a deep breath, recalling the advice Felix had given her. "Listen, Ron. I have something I need to tell you," she began.
Now that freedom was so close at hand, Ron squirmed anxiously in the grip of the containment coils. "Um, could it any way wait until you maybe get me out of this thing?"
"I promise this will be quick," Kim answered.
"Well, have Rufus see if he can chew some wires or something while you're telling me," he asked plaintively. "I really need to scratch my nose."
Rufus studied the device for a moment with a practiced eye and then squeezed between a seam in the mechanism. Once inside the naked mole rat found a bundle of wires leading into a circuit board. Grabbing a couple of wires at random Rufus swapped inputs with some unexpected results. There was a surprised gasp from Kim as coils abruptly contracted, pulling Ron's arms and legs behind him into a hogtied position before slamming him repeatedly into the ground before grinding him against the stone floor.
"Ow! Whatever that was, could we please not do that again," Ron groaned in pain with his cheek pressed painfully into the floor.
"Oops, sorry," Rufus said apologetically as he swapped around a different series of wires.
Ron barely had time to yelp as the cables hoisted him upwards and yanked his arms and legs apart. "Not… helping…" he ground out from behind his teeth as he hung spreadeagled in midair.
"Eep!" Kim yelped and clapped a hand over her eyes as Ron's involuntary contortions gave her an inadvertent peek into his boxers.
"My bad," Rufus squeaked again in apology as he swapped around yet another bundle of wires and Ron was thankfully returned to his original position though still firmly restrained by the cables.
"Is it safe to look now?" Kim asked, not quite daring to peek out from behind her hands.
Ron glanced downwards to make sure that he was at least modestly covered up. "Yup, I'm decent. Or at least as decent as I can be in just my boxers. Damp ones at that. Well, since it looks like I'm going to be hanging out here for a little while longer could you scratch my nose for me while you're telling me what you needed to tell me."
Kim tentatively scratched gently at the tip of Ron's nose as he wriggled it around so that her fingers were getting the right spot. "See, Ron. Remember, this morning, when we were sparring?"
"Uh huh," he grunted as he leaned harder against Kim's fingers, effectively relieving his itch.
"Well, the thing of it was that you actually won fair and square. I wasn't holding back at all," Kim confessed and felt a great weight lift off her shoulders. It seemed a little ludicrous to tell this to Ron now with him captured, dripping wet and half-naked in the middle of Drakken's lair with her scratching his nose while three other women, one of whom who just happened to be her nemesis, were careening about said lair in a wild free for all battle.
Ron stared at Kim in surprise.
"Booyah, Ron's the man!" he crowed as he tried to do a little dance of joy while still held within the confines of his restraints. Kim cheeks turned a rosy shade as Ron's dance caused his still somewhat damp boxers to ride up a bit.
"But this means you're going into some real training buster," Kim promised, cutting short Ron's celebration. "You left yourself open so many times I can't even begin to count. If you had been fighting Shego you could have ended up seriously hurt."
"Got it, Kim," Ron answered meekly and then gave her a worried look. "Wait a sec, does this mean you're going to make me fight Shego now?"
"We'll see," Kim answered fighting to get her blush under control.
"Um, would that happen to be a not-gonna-happen we'll see?" Ron asked hesitantly with a nervous glance at where Shego was still engaged in battle with both Lo Shin and Yori. It looked like the fight had degenerated into some hair pulling and even some biting. "Cause I don't think I'll be ready for that for a long, long time."
"We'll see, Ron," Kim answered again as Rufus finally found the right combination of wires to dump Ron unceremoniously at her feet.
"Miss Possible, we really can't thank you enough."
"It was no big. I'm just glad that we were able to stop Drakken before he managed to use AEON to do some real harm," Kim answered automatically as she cast her gaze about in search of Ron.
Yori and Lo Shin had been dropped off at Middleton earlier, over their vehement protests. Wade had the foresight to arrange two separate evac flights. One heading directly to Middleton and Ron's house and the other heading to the Rhombusoft Programming Lab. In spite of her initial flash of jealousy – no, not jealousy, not really – at the thought Ron with Yori and Lo Shin alone in the plane while they comforted him over his trying ordeal, Kim had wanted Ron to head home and recuperate.
In spite of his exhaustion Ron had insisted on accompanying Kim to Rhombusoft when she made the delivery. He even went as far as to pull the 'are we a team or aren't we?' question on her. Of course, Yori and Lo Shin had insisted on accompanying Ron as well, but the flight to the lab had limited space and the other, larger jet would not have been able to land near the lab.
For some reason the instant that Ron had entered the building he had disappeared. Kim shrugged her shoulders. Ron was probably lost somewhere in the bowels of the building. Well, at least in a civilian building there wouldn't be any self destruct buttons for Ron to accidentally push.
"AEON? No, that's down the hall. Third door on the left. This is project Retrospect," Dr. Lucas explained as he tapped a finger on top of the 'AI.'
"Retrospect," Kim repeated slowly, mulling over the actual project name as she closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "Please tell me that it has something to do with time travel," she asked almost plaintively.
Dr. Lucas' smile was almost beatific. "Well, you could say that. Project Retrospect is a gaming platform built for nostalgic game fans. Bring back some classics from the Winner game console from back in the '70's like Nightcrawler, Meteors, and Rocket Command
"Video games," Kim said flatly. "Why is it always video games?"
Dr Lucas gave her a confused look. "I'm sorry?"
"Nothing," Kim sighed. "I'm just glad we could help out."
The sun had long since retired beyond the horizon when their ride dropped them off at Bueno Nacho per Kim's request. She figured that after a trying day like this one Ron deserved a little treat. Much to her surprise, Ron didn't pester her to pop in and pick up some Bueno Nacho to go. In fact, as soon as they had disembarked the tiny hovercraft Ron had immediately set off in the direction of home. As they walked along the streets towards their homes Kim could hear Ron try to hide the occasional sniffle, though his attempts to hide his feelings were marred by the tears he occasionally wiped away when he thought she wasn't looking.
"Ron, it's okay," Kim said consolingly as she took his arm. "Shego had you tied up and helpless when she… when she…" Her voice trailed off, unable to continue as she had trouble dealing with that one image of Shego and Ron together.
Back at the lair, when Ron was held at Drakken's and Shego's mercy, Kim had avoided discussing the ordeal with Ron in order to clear the air between them. That had been the issue that threatened to undermine their relationship. She saw now that the reason that Ron had resisted going back to Middleton with the other two girls because he needed to talk about what had happened to him. He needed her. After all, who out of the three of them knew Ron the best. If there was anyone who could help Ron through this it was her.
"Huh?" Ron grunted as he gave Kim a confused look.
"You're crying," she pointed out.
"First, it wasn't crying, Kim," Ron said defensively as he drew himself up as manfully as he could. "And second, even if I was crying, which I wasn't, I wasn't crying about that."
"Then what are you crying about?" Kim asked, this time she was the one who was confused.
"It's just that I'm so happy, KP," Ron explained as he wiped yet another tear from his eye. "While we were at Rhombusoft, I got a peek at the ending of Ultimate Dream 7, Ultimate Dream 7-2."
"Wait, wouldn't that be Ultimate Dream 8?" Kim asked with a confused frown on her face.
"Of course not, KP," Ron scoffed. "Ultimate Dream 8 is a completely different story with different characters and a whole new game engine."
Kim rolled her eyes. Of course, yet again, it would have to be videogames. If there was a subject that could move Ron to tears it would be video games. That and Bueno Nacho. "Ok, so what's so great about the ending of this new game," Kim asked as she rolled her eyes.
"It's just that you get a sense of closure that you didn't get at the end of UD7. Here the hero, Nimbus, finally gets to make peace with the ghost of Erin, the girl he loved, but you could see that he also has a future, with his childhood friend Tina."
"Okay, now I'm confused," Kim admitted as she scratched at her head. Somehow the names seemed a little familiar, but the details escaped her.
Ron shrugged. Not many people got how beautiful the story of Ultimate Dream 7 was unless they played it for hours on end like he had. The first time he played the game he bawled like a baby when he came to the point where Erin died. Not even Kim had been able to console him. "I could lend you my copy of the game," he offered.
"Thanks, but no. I've got better things to do with my time than play videogames."
They walked along the street for another few moments in silence until something occurred to Kim. "Wait, so you came with me to Rhombusoft because you wanted to get a sneak peek at a videogame?"
"Well, just the cut scenes," Ron replied.
"So you didn't want to talk about what happened in the lair."
Ron rubbed the back of his neck uncomfortably and sucked in a deep breath before answering. "Yeah. I'm going to take a rain check on that."
Another few moments passed in awkward silence while Kim considered this. Obviously, it was a delicate subject for Ron, one that he wasn't comfortable discussing, but it was important for him deal with it. Kim drew in a deep breath.
"Look, Ron. About Shego," Kim began in another attempt to broach the subject and maybe get some closure on this disturbing issue.
"Huh. Okay. That. Don't wanna talk about it, KP," Ron answered curtly, himself unwilling to deal with what had nearly transpired.
Kim growled in frustration and leapt forward, placing her hands on Ron's shoulders to block his path and confront him. She knew what was best for Ron, even if he didn't. And getting some closure on this issue was best for him. "Ron, about what Shego was doing… in your pants... er, boxers…" Her cheeks flushed and she found herself unable to continue.
There was a wail of horror as Ron clapped his hands over his ears and shook his head from side to side. "Ah buh, buh," he said quickly. "Going to my happy place! Going to my happy place! NOT thinking about magic fingers!"
"That's just the thing. It looked a lot like Shego's 'magic fingers' were going to your 'happy place,'" Kim interjected wryly.
"KIM!" Ron shouted in protest and despite his earlier assertions that he could not be embarrassed in any way, shape or form, a slow flush began creeping up his neck.
Seeing that she had gotten through to him, Kim prepared to press her point home and help Ron deal with what had happened in Drakken's lair. A slight movement in the trees just over Ron's shoulder caught Kim's eye and she leaned slightly to her right in order to get a better view. There definitely was a person there and it looked like they were struggling to get through the shrubbery.
Following Kim's gaze, Ron turned slightly to catch the same spectacle that had captured her attention and had to wonder what someone was doing there at this time of night. The patch of foliage, one of those little stands of trees that somehow escaped being cut down to make way for human habitation, wasn't all that large. It pretty much fell between property lines so neither neighbor felt compelled to keep up with it. Besides, who in their right mind did landscaping late at night?
Finally, the figure struggling through the wooded patch of land burst out onto the sidewalk. For a moment the figure stood there in apparent confusion and looked around to take stock of his surroundings. With a tired shrug he adjusted the enormous pack he carried on his back and turned up the street away from the two teens to continue on his journey.
Kim stared at the figure incredulously for a moment before she found her voice, her issue with Ron momentarily forgotten. "Um, is that who I think it is?" she asked Ron as she pointed.
"Ryoga?" Ron called out uncertainly.
The Japanese youth turned at the sound of a familiar voice, his glassy eyes staring at them listlessly. "Ron? Kim? What are you guys doing in Hokkaido?"
Before either teen could answer and point out the boy's error, Ryoga's eyes rolled up into the back of his head and he collapsed face first into the pavement.
Next: 18 again
Omake! Omake! Omake!
Drakken winced as a particularly loud explosion reverberated through the lair. For the last several hours Shego had been just cheerfully blasting everything in sight with her powers. Sometimes she would be content to just blow an object into large, smoking pieces, but occasionally she wouldn't rest until she had completely blown an offending item into its component molecules.
His nose wrinkled as he caught an acrid whiff of burning silicon. From the smell of it Shego had recently blasted one of his mainframes. Shego's powers weren't exactly thermal per se, but sometimes managed to duplicate thermal effects. Near as he could tell Shego's concussive powers obliterated molecular bonds releasing heat in an exothermic reaction. She could even do a bit of spot welding by disrupting enough molecules and releasing enough heat to join two objects together.
It really was fascinating and he would have loved to study the nature of Shego's power some more, but he had little hope of that actually happening. If Shego refused to be cloned then she just as vehemently refused to be poked and prodded simply to satisfy his curiosity. Of course, if he cloned her then he could study the clone's powers. Argh, but that got into that cloning bit again and a tissue sample wouldn't be enough to study her powers.
He really should just leave well enough alone. With Shego in the mood she was in now he ran the risk of incurring some serious bodily harm if he attracted her attention. The thing of it was that he never did find out if Shego had collected that sample for him.
Shego finally finished destroying thing and Drakken could only hope that she had decided to move on to people. Still swearing sulfurously under her breath Shego flung herself on a padded couch that she had left relatively intact and began to tend to some of her minor wounds.
A worried expression crossed Drakken's face he watched Shego apply some ointment to her skin. It seemed that she had calmed down somewhat and now might actually be a good time to broach the subject.
Drawing a deep breath, Drakken decided that his scientific curiosity demanded that he take his life into his hands.
"Um Shego? Did you ever manage to get my stool sample?"
Whoo! Done finally.
Well, done might be a bit premature. Finally done with this chapter.
I have so many miles to go before I sleep.
It was so hard trying to keep this section from spiraling out of control and crash squarely in the land of lemons. As it is, it seems like we've picked up a little lemonade along the way. Well, maybe weak lemonade.
Now it might seem incongruous that Shego would suddenly fall for Ron like that, but I'm going to explain it thus. Ron still had lingering effects of the love potion in his system. Not enough to get a woman under normal circumstances to fall in love with him.
However, Shego is anything but normal. Comet Powers and in my incarnation, possessed by a cat spirit driven to kill him and the rest of the Twelve courtesy of Drakken's botched attempt at Cat-Fu training. The cat spirit part of Shego also fell for Ron because everything is all jumbled up inside of her. Shego is the cat, the cat is Shego and here comes Ron with this magical potion in him that makes women fall in love with him upon eye contact.
Like I said, the potion had worn off, but there's enough magic in Shego's metabolism, so to speak, for her to be extraordinarily sensitive to whatever love potion still in Ron's system. Think of it like bee toxin. The amount in your system is cumulative even after the swelling goes down.
But even so, Shego did put up a fight and try to resist. I suppose the straw that broke the camel's back would have to be the fact that Ron saved back in the beginning of this book during Drakken's invasion of Middleton. Even though she was all pissed about it, she still kinda got the warm fuzzies thinking about someone caring enough to rescue her.
Oh, and her powers fizzling. That was from all the jumbled up emotions too.
Okay, enough with the exposition.
Sorry to take so long in getting the final part of this chapter out. It's just been one of those infections of can't-bring-myself-to-sit-down-and-write-a-blasted-thing-itis.
Plus, I've had a rather stressful several months. In May, I had a roommate just up and move out, leaving me in a lurch. And then I had to post on all sorts of sites for a new roomie at a time when people move out of a college town. Needless to say, I hadn't got a lot of offers, except for the ones from Nigeria which would eventually end up scamming me for money.
So me and Maalox became pretty good friends. I wonder if it's something one can become addicted to.
Then in fairly short order, my glasses broke, my car battery dies right before I had to take a trip and the toddler son of a friend spilled water into my laptop. And on top of all that I moved from my old apartment into a newer, better, but consequently more expensive place.
Not to make excuses. Like they say, everyone has a couple and they both stink.
And since confession is good for the soul, I will say I've been logging in a lot of hours on Oblivion. Enough so that I can still see the screen when I close my eyes.
Hopefully, I'll be able to get back into the writing saddle, but I've recently been tapped to help write a webcomic. Hopefully that will come out soon as well.
Man, I gotta pick up the pace on this writing of mine. When I first drafted this chapter, Final Fantasy 7 Advent Children, hadn't made it to the US yet. This chapter would have been a lot funnier two years ago.
Till next time...
Freddy's glove from Nightmare on Elm St.
The blast pattern of Shego's new attack resembles InuYasha's Windscar, though on a smaller scale.
The waterfall door to Syndrome's lair in the Incredibles
Shego's sorta like Ukyo in playing with Ron's curse.
Tenchi Muyo, in particular Washu collecting data and her sample.
Final Fantasy 7 and Advent Children and their company Squaresoft or Eidos or whatever.
The Atari 2600 and the Flashback
No real way to convey it in written format, but the 'AI's' voice and offers to play tic-tac-toe both refer to the movie Wargames.