Book III: Fire and Darkness
All is not lost; the unconquerable Will,
And study of revenge, immortal hate.
Tokyo international airport.
The Possible clan was gathered tightly together, along with Ron, and Yori and Hirotaka standing by, albeit slightly apart. Mr. Possible looked at the status board, and finally over at his daughter.
"We…could wait." He said. "I'm certain they would understand…" Kim smiled at him and shook her head.
"No Dad… If I wait I think I'll lose my nerve."
"KP lose her nerve? Never." Ron said, grinning… and looking like he was about to lose his nerve. Once again in jeans and a casual shirt, Ron and Rufus looked the same as the day before the nightmare had begun…unless you looked and saw his new poise.
Kim looked the same as well…except for one thing that kept drawing her fathers gaze down.
The understated engagement ring Ron had given her… which Kim now wore. A "Someday" ring, for when they were getting married. Mr. Possible had given a mental sigh at that. At least they weren't going to try and get married at 17!
"Well, I'm not certain about you arriving with no Passports…" He continued.
"Mr. Possible?" Kim's father blinked, looking at the two men in suits who had appeared by him.
"The embassy asked me to provide these to your daughter and companion." Mr. Possible looked at the two passports, even stamped with the entry of Kim and Ron into Japan.
"Will you confirm receipt?"
"Good day, than." And the two, without a word left. Kim looked at Ron.
"Guess so….how did he know?" Kim shrugged.
"Secret Ninja school teacher arts?"
"Sounds good." Mr. Possible was still looking at the very last official obstacle to his daughter's entry in to the United States and sighed.
"Flight 231 Boarding," The family and friends looked at each other, and headed to the entry way…all of them reluctantly.
"Director Barkin!" the officer called.
"Yes?" Steve asked, putting aside his fourth folio of maps of the day.
"Sir, you're needed in the situation room upstairs." He said, referring to the CIA Situation Room. Barkin got up and followed the aid. There were a lot of DDO's, he noticed—national and regional both. This certainly wasn't anything that involved only one nation.
Inside the room, Barkin took his seat—back and behind the others (Paranormal threats was not nearly as prestigious a position as say, Russian affairs). The Director of the CIA got up at the podium, and didn't bother with the pleasantries.
"Over the past 6 hours, there have been a series of extremely worrisome events taking place." He called up a map.
"First of all, the Russian Navy has ordered a full scale surge of all their nuclear missile subs—without any pre-warning. In at least two cases, we know that subs left with less than half their crews." Barkin leaned forward—for the cash strapped Russian navy to do that was nothing short of a miracle.
"Down here—the Chinese air and sea defense units are on full alert—but not against Russia—our sources in Beijing claim that some of their high level officials have convinced themselves that they're about to be invaded by Taiwan!" A disbelieving sound filled the room.
The director continued pointing out parts of the map. Here India and Pakistan were ordering their missiles' deployed, there, Egypt was massing her forces on the Israeli border—even in regions seldom faced with major conflict it was occurring.
"And last but not least, there is some information that the Argentineans may be trying to take the Falklands again."
"How sir?" An officer asked, "We'd be seeing the preparation."
"There is no preparation." The director replied. "In fact, in none of these cases do we have any sign that this is a part of a plan, on anyone's part. Just officials reacting, in ways that quite frankly make no sense." The temperature in the room dropped nearly twenty degrees, Barkin thought. Russia alone had nearly 6 thousand nuclear weapons that could hit the U.S., and if the men in charge of those weapons were no longer sane…
"That's not the only thing." He continued. "We are, of course, tasked with foreign intelligence only, but my associates at both the FBI and Homeland Security have informed me that over the last several days, they've been seeing a very ominous spike in hate crimes and the amount of chatter between domestic terrorist groups." There was a stunned silence in the Room.
"Sir…" DDO Russia said, "Do they believe there is any connection between those events and the foreign situation?"
"Yes. But not what, and not how." The director said. "It isn't just with them—you may have noticed a few missing faces today—last night the DDO's for Libya and Iraq became convinced that they were going to launch an attack on us. They're under sedation…but so far there is no evidence of any drug use or normal psychological breakdown. The only thing the shrinks have been able to agree on is that we're seeing a process of disassociation…or inability to empathize, coupled with increased suspicion.
"Psychosis" another agent said.
"Correct…and if you think Global Justice is going to help us… three hours ago we received scattered reports of something going on... that something being the mother of all gunfights, evidently. There have been no further communications from them, or any subsidiary headquarters since then." Barkin noted that even now, he didn't seem overly unhappy about that—GJ was largely seen as a bad joke at the CIA and NSA. Still… if something had taken them out…
Barkin had a bad feeling that it was GJ itself that had done the "taking out." He raised his hand.
"Yes, Director Barkin?"
"Has our own nuclear arsenal been secured?"
"We had more pre-warning…so yes, it is…as much as possible." The director didn't go into the specifics and nobody asked. "But it also makes us more vulnerable to a first strike…or whatever other form of attack we may be facing. I need you all to hit every source, every possible lead… Gentlemen, we have a news blackout, and for once both parties are cooperating, but that won't last. Quite simply, the world is closer to world war now than at any time since the Cuban missile crisis." The meeting broke up, with people heading for their offices, and the director caught up with Barkin.
"President's waiting, Steve. Let's go."
"For what sir?"
"It concerns those two students whose homework I have so carefully not been noticing you grading."
Kim started and woke up from where she'd fallen asleep, leaning against Ron, who had also fallen asleep. With one short layover in Hawaii, they'd spent the trip nonstop, and despite the offer of DVD and free inflight meals, both she and Ron had quickly become bored.
Or rather become bored of being worried.
Is this right? I have to do it. I can't have my life back until I do it.
But what if they put you in jail? For years…or longer. Ron say's he'll wait…is that fair to him?
But if Ron wants a life, he deserves one…not on the run.
"Hey KP." Ron said holding a snack pack, "Preserved peanut for your thoughts?" Kim laughed, and shook her head, then laughed again as Rufus took the bag and devoured it.
"It'll be OK, KP." Ron said, in a quieter voice, not disturbing the sleeping parents in the seats behind them.
"Ron…" Kim said, "Promise me one thing."
"If… they put me in jail for a long time… don't waste your life…. You know…waiting."
"I won't…but it won't be wasting it to wait for you." He said softly. Kim started to protest, but Ron silenced her with a grin. "Trust me KP."
"If you'll look to the left, you can see the lights of the Middleton International Airport, where we will be landing in a few minutes. For you jet laggers, it's 7:45 PM" The pilot spoke over the intercom. Their flight was coming to an end.
Jonathon Possible started awake. Ron and Kim were talking and the plane was moving into its final descent. He remembered the last conversation he'd had about Kim…with the family lawyer, 12 hours ago.
"Jonathon…you need to keep her in Japan."
"I can't Stan. She's determined."
"Well…" His lawyer sighed. "Jonathon, I'm not a criminal defense attorney, but I know a few. I think we could get this thrown out of court—certainly use the event that sparked her use of drugs as a defense…and in any case a jury will probably acquit on its prejudices after all."
"I think she knows that… Kim intends to plead guilty." Jonathon held the phone away from his ear until his old friend calmed down.
"Jonathon—I know she's a hero, but sit on her. Does she know that assault on a police officer involving bodily injury carries a minimum of 5 years in jail? That there were six and if she gets an anal judge, she might do up to 30 years, plus anything else? Even with parole, she'll be in her 30's before she gets out!" Mr. Possible sighed.
"I know." He said, "But she is certain." He paused, "Could we try for a pa-"
"Pardon? Don't hold your breath—lots of people see her as a vigilante…and pardoning vigilantes for beating up cops isn't high on the governors list." Another pause, "Jonathon—even if that wasn't the case, this governor is a real hard ass—especially in the matter of pardons. I'm not saying it won't happen, but if he believes she pled guilty expecting him to do a favor…uh-uh, bad, very bad idea."
"So what's your advice."
"Take her home, and wait until I can get a criminal attorney, and then we turn her in. I'm going out on a long limb here, but I think I can get an unofficial agreement from the PD to give us a few days. No more. Sorry Jonathon—I wish the news was better."
Mr. Possible shook his head at the memory and looked over at Ron and Kim, who were talking. The twins were asleep…which explained why the DVD unit in the seat in front of them was still intact. He turned and found his wife was looking over at him.
"Thinking?" She asked.
"Yes… Dear." He paused, "Why is it that our daughter is doing the right, moral, lawful thing… and right now I want to hit her over the head, tie her up, and send her with Yori and Hirotaka right back to Japan?" Ms. Possible tried to smile, but now that they were coming back, it was a fragile, worried smile.
"Because great minds think alike, dear?"
Pain. There was only pain. She couldn't see. She couldn't hear. Where was she? What was she?
The bus jounced over the road back from the game, and the Maddogs team and Cheerleading squad was tired—but happy. Another victory. Tara was talking to her other friends, who were congratulating the cheer captain on her routine. Bonnie was leaning against the window, looking out. Given how much effort she'd expended to get that place, she sometimes wondered why it didn't bother her that Tara had it. The school shrink would probably ask her that.
Bonnie shook her head. He didn't understand—few of them did. Ms. Possible did, and Bonnie knew that Kim's mother would take the secret to her grave. Everyone, even Kim's friends, thought that Bonnie had survived a dreadful experience, and had to be reacting to the fact that she'd almost been murdered by a crazed psychopath.
What they missed is that Kim had seen Bonnie as her enemy…like any of her rogue's gallery. Bonnie remembered the days at home, partially sedated… and then the realization that had struck her.
She had been Kim's enemy. How much had Kim done…how much had she worked, days always full of work, never able to say no…
And I was always happy to add my little two cents to it. The cheerleader thought. When they'd been stuck together she'd seen a different side of Kim, as Kim had of her…but too little, too late, evidently. Everyone said it was just the drugs, but it hadn't been completely… Kim had struck out at another enemy who had done nearly as much to make her life hell as anyone else.
And-what the hell? Bonnie jerked upright as the bus nearly hit a crawling form on the street. Their post Barkin teacher, a sweet but really, really ineffectual woman looked out in surprise.
"I…think we should stay in here until the police arrive." She said.
"Sure….not." Bonnie said. "What if whoever it is needs help?" She paused, and Queen Bee Bonnie took control. "Brick, Tara? Let's go." Her boyfriend grabbed the first aid kit, and the three left with Ms. Wilson following them.
"uh…uh…" The figure was moaning, or gasping. Bonnie blinked. There looked to be a slick trail behind the crawling…woman, with that hair, and it smelled coppery.
Oh God. That was blood. And it was in a circle. She'd been crawling in a circle.
"Ma'am…are you OK?" Tara said, and turned the light on the form.
And screamed. Ms. Wilson passed out. Brick turned his head and threw up at the sight of that terrible, ruined form. Bonnie couldn't tell what was clothing and blood covered flesh, and how did a human body have so much blood in it. She seemed to notice the light, and tried to raise her hands to it, whether to defend, or plead, Bonnie couldn't tell.
"Oh My God." Bonnie gasped, there were holes in her wrists.
"he…eh….he…" She said, and Bonnie remembered the last time she'd seen that hair, because she'd never seen that ruin of a face.
"Uh!" Bonnie ran forward, on legs that seemed made of rubber, and Tara and Brick followed her.
"Wh-what do we do?" Tara asked. Bonnie was already on her celphone.
"911? This is an emergency." She said, in a voice that sounded much steadier than she was.
"Well…we're back in America." Kim's father said with false jocularity. Kim nodded, absently. Now, they had two things to do. Go home and see…
"Ronald Stoppable!"The cry came from across the terminal, and they looked up to see Ron's parents and Rabbi Katz standing, looking at him. Ron now looked nervous. His parents charged him, kissed hugged, told him of their eternal love for their only son and threatened him with death and destruction if he ever, ever did that to them again. Kim noticed that Ron was getting that increase in eye moisture, and like he had for her, politely ignored it. Ron then looked over at Kim and decided to take the plunge immediately.
"Mom, Dad? I've asked Kim to marry me."
"Mr. and Ms. P already know."
"And Kim's agreed."
They looked at Ron. Looked at the worried Kim who had come up by him. Then looked at Ron—worried, but not flinching, waiting for whatever might come. His parents paused, looked at each other, and looked back.
"So. Have you set a date for the wedding yet?" Ron mutely shook his head, and Kim walked up to put her arm on his shoulder.
"It's going to be a pretty long…engagement, Mr. Stoppable." Kim said. "I'm here to turn myself in." Ron's parents looked at each other, and then his mother walked up to Kim.
"Well, don't you run off and do that alone, Kimberly Ann Possible… We want to be with our future daughter in law to give support." She paused, "And don't go assuming the worst." She looked at her, "You are not alone." Kim looked at the two families and nodded.
"Thank you." Then the father turned to Ron.
"Ronald…I'm assuming that the Shego lady was behind the, ah, transfer of the Naco money?" Ron nodded. He was still trying to come to terms with the fact that his family had just seemed to agree to this.
"And…you've had it for all this time?"
"And this time it stayed in the bank." Ron grinned.
"Safe and earning interest." He said.
"And no "The Ron" ?" Husband turned to wife, and looked defeated.
"Pay up." Ron's mother said.
They were on their way to the terminal curb where the cabs waited, when Ms. Possible's purse started making an unnerving jangle. Her mother reached down and pulled up the celphone and glared at it.
"Dr. Possible, and remember, I'm off the roster for this week." Then she paused and blinked. "I understand." She said in a different voice. "I'm at the airport and I'll be there in twenty minutes."
"Dear?" Mr. Possible said. His wife looked at him soberly.
"All the lead surgeons are being called in. They have a bad one." From his wife, the brain surgeon, no more need to be said.
"I understand." He said. The two turned to Kim and Ron, when all of a sudden, both of the teens PDA's started bleeping. They pulled them out.
"What is it, Wade?" Kim asked.
"Kyoko? What's wrong?"
The answer came back, identical words from two different throats.
At that, any suggestion of going home was dropped. Ms. Possible took off in the first cab, and the rest of the family piled in after her, Yori and Hirotaka trailing along after them. One the trip, Kim tried to find out more information about what had happened, and Ron tried to calm down the distraught Kyoko.
Inside the hospital, Ms. Possible dropped her coat and quickly robed. Fortunately, she thought, she'd caught some sleep on the way over, but she was still in very lousy shape for any sort of operation. The main assistant surgeon was with her.
"What're the main injuries?" He shook his head.
"Better to ask what isn't. Her heart stopped 3 times on the way here, and the paramedics had to restart it. We're here for her brain, and I stopped counting broken bones at 60. This is Shego, you know." She nodded. "Well, according to the file, she has some kind of comet power—and that's the only damned reason I can think of that she's alive." He shrugged, "And for some reason all the internet links to Global Justice are down, so we don't have anything else." He then pulled out the more detailed information and Ms. Possible kept scrubbing while she tried to fight off the shock.
Compound fractures of all limbs, broken collar bone, fractured skull. Right eye socket fractured and fragments of bone driven into the eye. Pelvis fractured. Several ribs broken, including one that had been driven into her right lung, leading to its collapse. Lacerated Pancreas.
On the "minor" list: Cheekbones broken. Nose Broken. Several fingers broken. Possible damage to the uterus. Two holes, possibly made by the same object, driven through the wrists.
On the "odd" list.
"These burns—what are they?"
"Hell if we know, and I include the burn specialists at every other hospital we contacted. They have the same characteristics of both radiation and chemical burns, but there's no sign of contamination. Not only that…" He continued, pulling another sheet, as they walked down the hallway, "She's got what look like very early forms of cancer, all co-located with the burns." Dr. Possible purged that from her mind. Cancer was a long term problem, and Shego would have to survive the night to worry about it.
Then they were in the surgery. Shego lay on the table, the respirator and other equipment keeping her alive, other surgeons working on her torso. Normally you would never do all this at once, but there was no time. Her skull had already been opened, head clamped securely in place, revealing the gray matter of Shego's brain. To most people that was a topic that brought back horrible thoughts of mad scientists—but the brain had no pain receptors and could survive being exposed.
It could not survive being crushed against the unyielding bone of the skull, as the swelling from its merciless beating took hold. Doctor Possible looked at it for a moment, the ugly blotches of ruptured blood vessels marring the normal healthy look. She didn't look at Shego's face—at least the part of it that was visible, more than once. In all her years of brain surgery, she'd never seen anyone to whom the phrase, "Beaten into an unrecognizable pulp" applied, until now. Without pausing, she grabbed a tool from the tray.
"James." She told her assistant.
"I'm going to seal off the main ruptures by hand—get the micro waldo's ready so we can go in and start working on the smaller ruptures and internal damage." He nodded and started getting the complex device ready. Looking up at the monitor, Dr. Possible prepared to engage in her trade.
To be continued.