Author's notes: This is a spinoff in the REUNION universe, but it's not crucial that you read REUNION to follow along with the story. However, a viewing of the Indiana Jones trilogy at some point in the recent past might be helpful…or the near future. Plus, you know, you gotta have some KP knowledge as well. Anyway, this won't be as long as UNION or REUNION butit won't be a short one either.
Story Plug: The WGA is a collaborative writing effort between CaptainKodak1, Mattb3671, MrDrP, WesUAH, Zaratan and Yours Truly, you can find a link to the story "The Darkness Within" in my favorite authors listing.
And now, the disclaimers: Kim Possible and all characters originating on that show belong to Disney, Indiana Jones and all characters in the Indiana Jones Trilogy belong to George Lucas (Wow, a Disney/Lucas crossover… it's like all the evil forces in the universe combined), and any remaining characters are mine, blah blah blah…
"If adventure has a middle name, it must be Ron Stoppable"
Indiana Jones and the Simian Odyssey
Chapter 1: Funeral
"I hope you're ready for this, agent Zapruder."
"If you've got any hesitation or doubt, let me know now. Once we go in, you won't have the opportunity to change your mind. You sure about this?"
"Si, senor Ronin."
His civilian name was Ron Stoppable. His wife and friends all called him Ron. His fourteen-month-old daughter, Veronica, called him "Durgle", which, as far as he was concerned, meant 'Daddy'.
However, as an agent for the international law enforcement organization Global Justice, he was known as Ronin. It wasn't a name he had chosen for himself. Early in his career as a hero, a newspaper reporter called him "Ronin", inaccurately believing it to be a term that described ninjas. In actuality, Ronin is the term used in ancient Japan for a wandering Samurai. But, as is often the case with the media, especially media inaccuracies, the name stuck, and eventually it's what he came to call himself.
Of course, Ronin wasn't just Ron Stoppable. In many ways it was also his friend Wade Load. Not long after Ron graduated from college, he had gone to Japan, to the ninja school at Mt. Yamanuchi to train in the ways of ninjitsu. He spent four years under the tutelage of Toshimiru, known to his students as 'Sensei'. Upon his return to Middleton, he had contacted his friend Wade, and asked if he would like to go into the hero business together. Wade would soon become the technical half of the mysterious ninja known as Ronin.
Among the first things Wade did for his friend was develop Ronin's battlesuit, and it was something he was very proud of. Made of an advanced Kevlar-based material, it could withstand just about any projectile thrown at it, from bullets to small missiles. The Katana logo on the chest of the suit housed everything from a global communicator to advanced scanning and detection apparatus. With a tiny microphone located at the larynx, and a tiny speaker sewn into the ear fabric of the mask, Wade could carry on conversations with Ronin anywhere in the world, thanks to three dedicated satellites positioned in various strategic orbits. No more need for a handheld computer to house all the scanning and communication equipment. Ronin wore it all on his chest, on a razor thin piece of integrated technology. Two tiny cameras with every type of capability (including infra-red and night vision) sewn into the headband, faced both forward and rearward. The suit could absorb and even store unfocused energy, like electricity or certain types of kinetic energy, but it could not withstand focused beams, such as rays, or lasers.
The suit also came equipped with a cloaking device. Wade found a way to manipulate light particles so that the suit allowed light to pass through it without reflecting back to the human eye. A flick of the switch and Ronin would appear to just vanish, though physically he'd still be there. There were drawbacks to this feature, however. It used a huge amount of power (storage cells for the suit's power were located in the heels of Ronin's boots), so the cloak couldn't stay engaged for very long. In addition, Ronin had to pull his mask completely down over his face, which meant he was blind while cloaked. And finally, whenever he was cloaked, he couldn't move without giving away his position. Anyone looking directly at him while he was cloaked couldn't see him, of course, but if he moved even a few inches, anyone looking at him would see a human-shaped distortion in their field of vision.
But the real beauty of the suit, as far as Wade was concerned, was the Neurological Interface. In his basement, Wade had a separate station set up that had sleeves for his arms, legs, and each of his fingers. In addition, he had goggles wired directly to the cameras in the battlesuit so he could see everything Ronin saw, and more. The arm and leg sleeves were connected to an interface that allowed Wade to assist, enhance, or just plain control whoever was wearing the battlesuit. Through tiny amounts of neural-electrical generation, Wade could, for instance, move Ronin's arm, make a fist, make him walk, make him jump, etc. But thanks to the suit's built-in neurological enhancers, Wade could also make Ronin jump higher than he normally could, or run faster, or hit harder. All of it was based on delivering a tiny, precise neural-electrical charge into a given muscle on Ronin's body in order to stimulate it. The Neural-Interface manifested itself as wire-thin crimson stripes that glowed whenever they were in operation. All of these features were brilliantly packaged by Wade into a skin-tight suit that – except for the stripes – looked like any typical ninja outfit.
But there was one more element that helped make Ronin the hero he truly was: The Lotus Blade. About two years ago, Ron had acquired the Blade when it was given to him by Sensei just before he died. The Lotus Blade was a sword with mysterious powers and could only be wielded by someone who possessed the abilities of Monkey Kung Fu; the mystical monkey power known as Tai Xing Pek Wah. The sword had the ability to transform into any weapon, provided that weapon was made of metal, and had a mass no greater than a medium sized shield, or metallic equivalent. With his abilities and prowess, Ron could change the Lotus Blade into other swords, a length of chain with a claw at one end, or a shield, and he could even transform the Blade into various tools if need be.
All of these factors combined to make Ronin one truly formidable hero, and an effective Deep Field Operative for Global Justice.
Though he did not yet realize it, today he was on one of the most important missions of his life.
Ronin sat in his custom-made aircraft, the Ninjet, and studied the massive glass building in front of him. The craft itself was cloaked and floating in the deep, huge reflecting pool that occupied the wide plaza in front of the Hovito Corporation building in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
On Ron's shoulder sat Rufus, a clone of a naked mole rat with an artificial brain.
In the passenger seat was agent Zapruder of Brazil's Justice Internacional. Ron didn't much care for the babysitter, but since this was both a sensitive operation and a mission to correct a mistake made by another Global Justice agent, JI insisted one of their operatives tag along.
Ron preferred to work with his wife, Kim Possible. But she was on sabbatical from hero work so she could stay home with their daughter, Veronica. Ron's second partner preference was the reason he was on this mission in the first place.
The Hovito Corporation was a front company owned by the international supervillain known only as Arianna. She had stolen an electronic device called the Integrated Digital Operations Lockdown, or I.D.O.L. It was a remarkable piece of technology that, when connected to any electronic security system, could shut it down, turn it off, or even re-write its software so that only the person using the IDOL could operate it. The device worked on any electronic apparatus, and it wasn't limited to security systems. Anything that ran on a CPU could be broken into and controlled by the IDOL; from personal computers to airliners, etc. In some cases, the IDOL didn't even have to be connected to its intended target if said target had wireless capability.
There were many governments, terrorist organizations, and supervillains who would be willing to pay a hefty price for such an item.
The IDOL, of course, was developed in one of the numerous top secret research facilities in the Middleton area. Arianna had gone to Middleton on the pretext of visiting her sometime lover, James Possible, twin brother to Timothy Possible, both of whom worked for Global Justice. Jim was desperately in love with Arianna, and completely believed she was in Middleton just to visit him, thus he didn't bother to notify Global Justice that an internationally known criminal was in town. Arianna was just as in love with Jim as he was with her, and didn't want to use him in such a manner. But she was a supervillain after all, so she stole the IDOL and, much to her regret, left a heartbroken Jim with the unenviable task of reporting what had happened to his superior, Global Justice Director Wil Du.
Wil promptly suspended Jim, and launched an investigation into all of his operations and missions covering his entire career at Global Justice. AS far as Wil was concerned, young James Possible was not to be trusted.
In the meantime, Director Du sent one of his top agents, a man by the name of Forest Hall, to retrieve the IDOL. Hall and Stoppable had developed something of a rivalry in the past couple of years, and it hadn't always been friendly. But Ron was truly saddened when he heard that agent Hall had not returned from the mission (and was now presumed killed in the line of duty). Ron volunteered to conduct the mission himself. Wil Du was against it, mainly because of Ron's family connections to Jim Possible. But, though Stoppable was not Global Justice's best agent, Ron had a talent for completing the kinds of missions others hesitated to even volunteer for. Ron wasn't very good at the usual GJ missions and operations, and occasionally botched them, committing one mistake or another. But for some reason, on the missions where the pressure or danger was most intense, Ron seemed to thrive. Wil couldn't figure it out. It was almost as though Ron went on the tough missions knowing he couldn't die. And he didn't, of course, though every now and then Ron would sustain some sort of mission-related injury.
So Wil reluctantly sent him, and Justice Internacional insisted one of their own agents go along. And here they were, sitting in the Ninjet, floating on the enormous reflecting pool in front of the Hovito Corporation building.
"Bad news," came Wade's voice from the center console of the aircraft, his face appeared on a small view screen, "Satellite scans indicate some sort of force field surrounding the top of the building. I can't get my scans to penetrate it, which means I can't tell you exactly what or who is inside."
"But we're sure the IDOL's in there?" Ron asked.
"Yeah, thanks to intelligence provided by your friend's agency." Wade confirmed.
"We have a mole in the Hovito Corporation," Zapruder spoke with a Brazilian accent, "He confirmed the presence of the IDOL in this building. We shared that information with your Global Justice two weeks ago."
"So this is it," Ron said quietly, looking at the building again, "This is where Forest Hall cashed in."
"A friend of yours?" Zapruder asked.
"A competitor," Ron replied, "He was good. He was very, very good."
"Senor," Zapruder's tone suddenly became very worried, "If no one has come out of there alive… please…"
Ron didn't respond, but sat quietly looking at the huge glass building that vaguely resembled an Aztec Pyramid. At the far end of the reflecting pool, near the entrance to the building, was a rather odd piece of modern art. It was a tall and wide rectangular metallic arch. Beyond that was a stairway leading up to the front entrance. It was so large and shallow, in fact, that it looked more like a concrete hillside than a long flight of stairs. At the top were the glass front doors of the Hovito Corporation building.
"So we have no way of knowing where the IDOL's being kept?" Ron ignored Zapruder and looked back at the screen.
"Actually, I have a pretty good idea where it's at," Wade replied. His face on the view screen was replaced by a blueprint-type schematic. "I managed to dig up the building plans, and I am almost certain the IDOL's being kept in this room."
A section of the blueprint was electronically highlighted. Ron didn't even bother asking his friend if he was certain. Wade had saved his life countless times and was hardly ever wrong about such things.
"What's this huge circular thing?" Ron asked, gazing at the screen.
"That'd be in the building's atrium. That's where the lobby is, and very likely where the security guards will be stationed. That circular object is a huge bronze globe suspended from the ceiling." Wade explained.
"OK, so walk us through this." Ron suggested.
"Right," Wade acknowledged and began highlighting specific sections of the blueprints as he talked, "The front doors are standard glass office doors, double bolted. The good news is that the alarm system is only wired to the glass and will only go off if it breaks. It won't go off if the bolts are cut and the doors are opened. This is standard procedure at most large companies since security guards are always opening doors when they shouldn't. All you need to do is cut the bolts and quietly open the doors. Now, there are surveillance cameras on the front of the building, but they're outside the energy barrier. I can broadcast a jamming signal from the Ninjet that will cause those cameras to display a frozen image of the plaza on their monitors."
"That is good news." Ron agreed.
"Well, sort of." Wade countered, "Since the image will be frozen, the water in the reflecting pool won't be moving. Someone's bound to notice that after a few minutes."
"We'll have to get to the guard station before that."
"Correct," Wade continued, "And those guards will be heavily armed, so be careful."
"Hey!" Ron said casually, "It's me! We both know when I'm gonna die, so everything between now and then is gravy."
"Is that why you've been taking all the dangerous assignments?" Wade asked, incredulous, "Please tell me that's not why you've been taking all these high-risk missions."
"Well…" Ron began to falter, "I mean-"
"Aw Ron, you gotta be kidding me!" Wade practically yelled, "Are you not aware of the possibility of shifting timelines? You could die today, which means Veronica could still grow up and wind up marrying Ray Beam. In fact, without a Daddy in her life, that's very likely what might happen."
Zapruder had a look on his face like a lost child at a busy mall.
"But TJ-" Ron began.
"Wont' be born." Wade cut him off, "And thus won't be able to help you save the universe…"
"So I should go home and lock myself in the closet?" Ron's voice took on an edge.
"No," Wade clenched his teeth, "I'm just saying that rushing off into the most dangerous missions doesn't automatically mean you're going to live through them. Just be your usual cautious self, Ron!"
There was silence for a second, then Ron and Wade both burst out laughing. They laughed loudly for a good couple of minutes.
"Oh, mercy!" Wade said, still laughing and wiping away a mirthful tear, "I totally forgot who I was talking to."
"'Ron' and 'cautious self' aren't words you usually hear in the same sentence," Ron said, still laughing.
"The day Ron Stoppable gets cautious is the day I start looking for the Apocalypse." Wade chortled, "Just don't do anything stupid… Oh, man! There I go again!"
Ron's face instantly looked serious, "OK, that wasn't funny."
"Maybe not to you," Wade guffawed. "So you took all these missions because you thought you might be saving the life of another agent, figuring you had a ways to go before your death, right?"
"Well…" Ron looked sheepish, "Yeah. I guess."
"You and your 'sacrifice yourself for the perceived greater good' complex," Wade scolded, "You really should see a therapist."
"If I need therapy, it's because you keep posting all that embarrassing stuff about me on the GJ online message boards!" Ron cracked.
"Speaking of which," Wade shifted the subject, "Did you see Wil Du posted the latest chapter of his Speed Racer fanfic? Chim-Chim gets killed by a steamroller."
"Was that not sweet?" Ron agreed enthusiastically, "And Racer X was driving that steamroller! I totally knew he was going to-"
"Senors?" Zapruder finally broke into the conversation, "The mission?"
"Uh, right!" Ron said, regaining his composure, "I believe we left off at 'heavily armed security guards.'"
"Gotcha," Wade acknowledged, "That huge globe hanging from the ceiling of the lobby will make an excellent route marker. Once you're in the front doors, you'll have to go up two long flights of stairs to get to the lobby. Then you'll need to dispatch the guards. When that's done, continue straight back to the rear of the lobby. The globe and the entry stairway should be at your back. There will be a long corridor without doors. Follow it all the way down to the end, turn right, and that room should be where the IDOL is being kept."
"Any guards outside the building?"
"None that the scans are showing," Wade answered, "I've got a small schematic here marked 'Security Drone', but it's also labeled 'experimental'. If the drones are up and running, they'll be about five feet tall and run on small tank-like tracks, so keep your eyes open."
"What about interior security systems?" Ron asked.
"That'll be up to agent Zapruder. Disarming them is his field of expertise." Wade replied.
"Once we have the IDOL, we can use it to shut down any remaining security alarms or systems." Zapruder confirmed.
"Remember, Ron," Wade said slowly, "You'll be under that energy barrier, which means communications between us will be cut off."
"Well that- hey! Does that mean Rufus can't come along?" Ron asked.
"I'm afraid so," Wade confirmed, "The signal from his brain would cease and he'd shut down, probably die."
Some years ago, Rufus had perished when a mission Kim and Ron were conducting had gone horribly wrong. Wade cloned the naked mole rat and built an artificial brain from technology that had been developed by Kim Possible during the six years she and Ron were apart. The brain itself was about the size of a refrigerator and was kept in the basement laboratory of the house Wade shared with his wife Monique. A signal from that brain was beamed to a network of three satellites positioned so that Rufus could go anywhere in the world.
Once was a time when Rufus functioned as a member of Ron's team. Information could be downloaded directly to Rufus' artificial mind and the mole rat could relay it to Ron, or use it in specific situations, such as defusing a bomb, or dismantling a security system in a space only a naked mole rat could crawl into. But fourteen months ago, when Veronica was born, Rufus had become so enamored of Kim and Ron's daughter that he took it upon himself to be her personal guardian angel. He never left Veronica's side, even when she slept. Rufus had come along on this mission at Kim's insistence; she wanted alone time with her baby. Now Rufus wouldn't be able to go after all.
"Awwww." Rufus squeaked dejectedly.
"Sorry buddy," Ron said sympathetically, "But I would appreciate it if you'd stay here and guard the Ninjet."
"OK", Rufus said unenthusiastically. He knew his friend was only trying to be nice.
"I'm jamming the surveillance cameras… now!" Wade informed them.
"De-cloak the Ninjet. I'm gonna bring it over to the edge of the pool," Ron said, "Let's get this thing and get out of here."
Ronin and Zapruder opened their doors and got out of the aircraft.
Nothing went amiss on their stealthy journey up the concrete outer stairs to the front doors. As Wade had said, they were simple glass office doors, double bolted. As long as he was right about the alarms they wouldn't have too much trouble getting into the building.
Ronin took the Lotus Blade from his back and transformed it into a long hacksaw. Zapruder looked nervously around, then peered through the doors and up the interior stairway. He could see no one.
It's a maddening experience trying to saw through metal and be quiet about it. Several times both agents were convinced a squeak or a jarring noise would alert someone and bring security down upon them. But it never happened. Eventually Ronin was able to sever the bolts and slowly open the door. He squinted his eyes and gritted his teeth, hoping Wade was right about the alarm.
The agents crept up the stairs. As they neared the top, they came within sight of the massive bronze globe. Naturally, South America was the most prominently featured continent. Ron thought a casual visitor to this place must feel very intimidated by such an enormous sphere hanging over their heads.
Presently, voices began to make their way into the agent's hearing range, but they all seemed to come from one location. Cautiously peering up over the top step, Ronin observed about a dozen human security guards gathered around the reception desk. They seemed to be talking in excited tones.
"They are wondering why all the images have frozen on their exterior monitors," Zapruder whispered, translating for Ronin.
"Good," Ronin whispered back, "That means they'll send someone to investigate. We can take care of at least one guard when he comes down here, and then figure out how to dispatch the rest."
"I'm afraid it won't be that easy, senor," Zapruder whispered back, "It seems as though they are sending four guards and not one."
"Terrific." Ron muttered, We'll have to-"
He cut himself off when he saw Zapruder pull what looked like a handgun out of his vest.
"No lethal measures!" Ron whispered savagely.
"No, senor," Zapruder explained, "This is a gun that shoots darts. It delivers a non-lethal but paralyzing serum that renders a grown man unconscious.
Ron nodded, "How many shots do you have?"
"Five," Zapruder answered.
Zapruder shook his head, "It is a disposable weapon, no clips to reload."
"Alright," Ronin whispered, "Take down the four that are coming over here, then come help me deal with the rest."
"Si, senor," Zapruder acknowledged.
Ronin crouched against the side of the stairway, trying to appear as invisible as possible when they heard the approaching footsteps. At the last second, Zapruder nervously stood up and fired off four shots as rapidly as he could.
By the second shot, Ronin was already up and sprinting across the lobby. He got about two thirds of the way there before a cry of alarm was raised. The guards scattered, drawing weapons. The guard sitting in the chair at the reception desk looked up just in time to catch the edge of a flying shield on the bridge of his nose. He was thrown over backward while the shield's trajectory was slightly altered and it embedded itself in the wall behind the desk.
Ronin didn't break stride, but vaulted up over the desk just as the air filled with energy beams that shot in several different directions at once. Two of the guards conveniently dispatched each other inadvertently with their own weapons, leaving five… then four as Zapruder took down another guard with his last sleeper dart.
The four remaining guards took up aggressive stances around the desk as Zapruder retreated to the stairway for cover. One of the guards shouted something.
Ron ignored them, called the Lotus Blade back to him, then changed it to a large hammer and began destroying the console at the receptions desk, disabling any of the electronic equipment that might be used to call for help or set off an alarm.
Wistfully, Ron found himself once more wishing he could transform the Lotus Blade into one of the other powerful Ohana Blades; companion weapons to the Lotus that once existed in ancient Japan. But as Ron found out on one of his early missions, the Lotus could no longer become one of the other Ohana Blades. Ron guessed that because they no longer existed, the Lotus Blade could not become them. It was a rather disappointing discovery.
Again, one of the guards shouted something in Spanish. Ron leaped to his feet, transforming the Lotus into a shield with a very reflective surface and held it tightly against his side. As he came up, energy beams began bouncing off the shield. Ron grabbed the reception desk chair with his free hand and swung it out in front of him, winging it at the nearest guard. The guard yelped but was unable to get out of the way in time as the chair swept through his feet and sent him sprawling. Ronin took two quick steps toward the next guard and raised the shield. Seemingly mesmerized, or perhaps blinded by the reflecting energy beams, the remaining guards continued to fire at the shield's surface despite the fact that Ronin's lower half was completely exposed. The guards realized this too late, Ronin smacked the shield into the face of the nearest guard, knocking him off balance, then came up behind him, putting the guard between himself and the guard's comrades. They continued shooting, of course, and the poor guard absorbed the beams fired by his companions. As the security agent began to slump, Ronin whipped out his shield hand and hurled the shield at the two remaining guards. It sailed unerringly at the nearest guard, slamming into his head and glanced off at an angle. The final guard put his hands up protectively over his face and took the shield in the abdomen. His breath exploded out of him as he was sent tumbling into unconsciousness.
"And Kim thought it was a waste of money when I bought that pool table for the game room!" Ronin shouted triumphantly, calling the Blade back to him.
"Senor Ronin!" Zapruder shouted in alarm.
Ron spun in time to see the first guard, who had been knocked over with the chair, struggling to get to his feet. He raced over and dispatched him with a chopping blow to the nerve cluster at the base of the neck. The man crumpled up in a heap.
Zapruder strode over to the security console and threw up his hands in frustration.
"Senor," he complained, "I was hoping to disarm the security and defensive systems from here."
"Then you should have gotten here first," Ronin growled in reply. He didn't much appreciate the way Zapruder had sat out most of the fight with the guards.
Zapruder studied the wreckage of the security console, "I believe I can shut down some of the alarms, but I have no idea how we will deal with the defensive systems."
"So do it," Ron spat, "And let's get moving."
While Zapruder worked at the console, Ron busied himself handcuffing the security guards together with their own restraints. After he completed this, something seemed to occur to him. He removed one of the guard's shirts, and tied several knots, making a sort of pouch or bag out of it. Then he went to the reception desk and began putting staplers, pens, paperweights, and one or two others things into the pouch until he felt he had enough, and tied the bag closed, then secured it to his waist.
"Finished, senor," Zapruder announced, "I've done as much as I can. I managed to shut down the surveillance cameras and some of the alarms and detection equipment."
Ron simply nodded and began making his way toward the rear of the lobby, crossing under the huge globe toward the opposite side of the entry stairway. Zapruder reluctantly followed.
The corridor was dark as they made their way into it. There didn't seem to be any artificial lighting at all, though it looked as though up ahead some of the natural light from outside was streaming in. They moved a few steps toward the patch of light, barely able to see anything in the immediate vicinity. Zapruder took out a small penlight and switched it on.
"Senor!" He whispered urgently.
Ron stopped and craned his head around. On his shoulder was a small, metallic robot. The main body was spherical in shape and it moved around on eight legs.
"Arachno-drones." Ron said in an annoyed manner, "Don't worry, they're just gathering information. They're too small to house any kind of weapon."
Zapruder gasped. Ron looked up at him and noticed there was an arachno-drone on the other agent's shoulder. Ron said nothing, but took out the Lotus Blade, motioning for Zapruder to turn around. The Brazilian agent did so.
His back was a virtual hive of small, metallic creatures. Ron transformed the Lotus into a series of interconnected rings and used them to brush the creatures, first off himself, then off Zapruder.
"Make sure you crush them all," Ron ordered, "So they can't return and deliver notification of our whereabouts."
Both men spent several minutes stamping the arachno-drones to bits. After making sure no others were coming out of the walls or ceiling, they moved on.
Upon approaching the patch of light on the floor, it became clear to Ron that there was a skylight far overhead. But something didn't feel right about this. Zapruder continued to move forward.
"Stop!" Ron barked, "Stay out of the light."
Zapruder nodded and both men flattened themselves against one wall of the corridor, inching past the rays of sun that streamed downward from the skylight. When they reached the other side, Ron took the Lotus Blade and held it out into the light rays.
Suddenly, two panels slid open on opposite sides of the wall. From behind each panel, lasers streamed horizontally outward, about six inches apart from each other. They began at the floor and went up to just past the seven foot level. One of the lasers nicked the Lotus Blade and sparks erupted, causing Ron to reflexively withdraw the sword. It was clear that had both men stepped into the light rays, they would be been impaled repeatedly by the lasers. As if to drive home the point, something fell out from behind the panel on the opposite wall.
Zapruder let out a scream, then clamped a hand to his mouth.
A partially decomposed body lay crumpled up on the floor at the edge of the pattern of light. The lasers had sliced through whoever it was, and somehow pulled him into the wall when they withdrew. Ron crouched down and gazed at the corpse.
"Forest Hall," He muttered.
Then he straightened up, glared at Zapruder and moved off down the corridor.
A little further down, they came upon a gap in the floor. Wherever it went it was deep, and there didn't seem to be a bridge or electronic controls for any kind of crossing. It was too wide for either man to leap across. Ron looked around, then up. The ceiling on this side of the skylight was only a few feet above them. There was a steam or water pipe running from one wall to the other near the ceiling. Ron took out the Lotus Blade and transformed it to a length of chain with a claw at one end. Then he whipped it at the steam pipe. The claw end of the chain went up and over the pipe, then slung around and attached itself to the chain. Ron gave two good tugs on the chain to make sure it was securely latched, then swung himself across the chasm. When he got to the other side, he turned and swung the end of the chain back to Zapruder.
Tentatively, Zapruder gave a tug on the chain, then nervously took hold of it and swung himself across. Halfway through his swing, the pipe shifted downward. Zapruder yelped and barely got his feet to touch the other side. Ronin reached out and caught him by the waistband, hauling him to safety. Frightened, Zapruder flung his right arm around Ronin and clung to him. Ron shot the agent an annoyed look and forcibly removed the arm from around his neck. Then he anchored the end of the chain to a place on the wall, intending to leave it there for their use when they came back through the corridor.
A few more paces and they found themselves at the end of the long passageway. On the wall to their left was an icon, presumably the Hovito Corporation logo. It was an image of gold in the center, with small lengths of wood that formed triangular rays emanating outward to give an impression of the sun.
They turned right and Ron stopped, staring.
Before them was a large room with a ceiling that went all the way to the glass roof of the building. Dim light streamed in from the outside. A wide tiled floor stretched out before them to a set of three stairs and a dais. On a pedestal in the center of the dais was the IDOL.
It wasn't very large; about the size of two fists. It was bright silver, and rectangular. It had several ports for electronic connections as well as a small display on its face, and a tiny keyboard for input purposes.
Zapruder began striding forward.
"Let us hurry," he said eagerly, "There is nothing to fear here."
Ron's arm shot out and caught Zapruder at the chest. Pushing on him, Ronin pinned Zapruder against the wall.
"That's what scares me," he growled.
Ronin turned and walked over to the sun logo. With some effort, he wrenched one of the lengths of wood from it and walked back to where the tiled floor began. He and Zapruder crouched at the edge.
Ron began systematically tapping the large tiles. Zapruder had a confused look on his face; he had no idea what the other agent was doing. Nothing happened when Ronin tapped several of the lightly colored tiles. Then he tapped on one of the dark ones.
A tiny, square-ish panel in the opposite wall slid open, there was a very loud 'fwoosh' sound accompanied by a burst of smoke; a flechette – a tiny, needle-sized dart – embedded itself in the length of wood Ronin was holding.
Ron handed the piece of wood to Zapruder and straightened up.
"Stay here." He ordered.
Zapruder offered him a nervous smile, "If you insist, senor."
Ronin gingerly stepped out on to the tiled floor, tiptoeing around the darker tiles and stepping only on the light-colored squares. A quick glance showed Ronin the walls on either side of him were a honeycomb of tiny panels; thousands of them, each housing a deadly flechette. Ron cautiously made his way across the tiled expanse to the stairs.
Just before he got there, he lost his balance.
Zapruder tensed, straightened up and anxiously sucked air through his teeth as Ronin stumbled slightly, then caught himself. When he got to the stairs, Ron leaped to the wall, then pushed off it, bypassing the stairs altogether to land on the dais.
There were more tiles here as well. Ron tiptoed his way across the short distance to the pedestal and stood gazing at the IDOL before him. He crouched down, rubbing his chin and examining the pedestal itself. Ronin surmised that its surface was pressure-sensitive, tuned to the precise weight of the IDOL. It seemed his earlier hunch had been right. Straightening up, Ron took out the improvised pouch and hefted it in his hand, gazing at the IDOL and trying to gauge its weight. He reached into the pouch pulling out a stapler and several pens, letting them fall to the floor (making sure they didn't strike any dark tiles). Then he cinched up the pouch once more and leaned part way over the pedestal, the pouch in one hand, the other hand ready to snatch up the IDOL.
Zapruder stood anxiously waiting for Ronin to do something.
The tension in the air grew thick.
Almost quicker than the eye could see, Ronin caught hold of the IDOL and replaced it with the pouch full of office supplies. Then he stood there for a few seconds - though to Ronin it seemed to stretch out into forever - and waited for something to happen.
Zapruder let out a sigh of relief followed by a nervous chuckle.
Ron allowed a grin to play across his face for perhaps the first time that day. He straightened up, tucking the IDOL in under one arm, then turned around and took two steps.
Behind him, the pedestal began to lower. Ronin heard a noise and turned to look.
Suddenly, alarms blared while the building began to rumble. The wall behind the pedestal began to collapse.
Ron turned and raced across the tiled floor, paying no heed to where he was stepping. In an instant, the air was peppered with tiny darts that came spewing from the walls on either side. Some of them sliced through the air in front of him while others crossed behind him with a deadly hissing noise. Ron didn't break his stride, he leaped off the dais and onto the tiled floor below. More flechettes sizzled through the air as Ronin ducked and weaved while sprinting toward the entrance to the chamber. A flechette embedded itself in the IDOL, several more grazed him as he ran. One of the lethal projectiles came so close to his face, Ronin felt the wind of its passing on his eyelashes.
He crossed over onto the non-tiled floor and raced around the corner to find Zapruder standing on the far side of the chasm. The chain had become dislodged during his swing and he stood there for a second, staring at the links clutched in his fingers.
"Give me the Blade!" Ron shouted over the blaring alarms and the rumbling of the building.
"Throw me the IDOL!" Zapruder shouted back.
Ron looked nervously around. This was an unexpected turn of events. On the other side of Zapruder, a panel opened in the ceiling and a heavy security door began to lower.
Zapruder glanced at the lowering door then turned back to Ronin, "No time to argue! Throw me the IDOL and I will throw you the Blade!"
Ron hesitated for a fraction of a second, then lightly tossed the IDOL across the chasm to Zapruder's waiting grasp.
"Give me the Blade!" Ron shouted frantically.
A slow, malicious grin spread across Zapruder's face.
"Adios, senor." He said as he let the length of chain fall to the floor. Then he turned and ducked under the still lowering door and ran down the corridor.
Ron grimaced, then took a running start at the chasm, hoping he had the strength to make the leap across such an impossible distance.
Just before he reached the edge, he skidded to a stop.
"Idiot!" Ron shouted as he smacked himself on the forehead.
Ron Stoppable; sometimes he could forget things.
He stretched his hands out on either side and then slowly drew his legs up under him into a cross-legged position. A bright crimson sphere appeared and enveloped him, holding him aloft. Ron sailed easily across the chasm to the other side, then landed on his feet as the sphere abruptly vanished.
The security door was almost all the way down.
Without hesitating, Ron dove for the ever-shrinking gap below the door and rolled beneath it just short of too late. Then, suddenly remembering, his arm darted back under the door and snatched the chain, pulling it through a fraction of a second before the security door slammed shut.
Ron stood up, returned the Lotus Blade to his back, turned and stopped.
A seven foot high barrier of lasers barred his path. Then suddenly the lasers withdrew and a body crumpled up on the floor.
Somewhere above, something cracked, as if a heavy object were breaking.
Ron crouched, took up the IDOL and once more tucked it under his arm.
"Adios, Zapruder," he muttered to the dead man at his feet.
Ron sprinted the rest of the way down the corridor and out into the lobby. Most of the guards were still unconscious, though a couple were struggling against their restraints. Alarms continued to blare. The building began to shake more violently. The globe was swinging back and forth.
Feeling a little safer, Ronin trotted beneath the precariously undulating globe to the top of the stairs. When his foot hit the top step, he felt something click and vibrate beneath his feet. Ronin realized too late that he'd just set off another security measure. But what it was, he didn't know.
Less than a second later he got his answer.
Two loud, simultaneous gunshot-like cracks rang out above and behind him. He turned to see the massive globe falling through the air in his direction.
Ronin's face was a canvas of sheer terror. He turned and sprinted in a blind panic down the stairs. An instant later, the enormous globe crashed to the lobby floor with a deafening roar. Ron lost his footing and went down, clutching the IDOL to him. The globe rolled forward, crested the stairs, and began rolling down upon Ronin, picking up speed by the millisecond. Ron somehow managed to find his footing once more and raced down the stairs again as the globe thundered in behind, gaining on him rapidly. The stairway rocked violently, cracking in several places. Ron found speed he didn't even know he possessed as he practically flew down the stairs. He could feel the globe almost upon him. Another second or two and he would be pulverized beneath it.
Ronin drew the Lotus Blade from his back, transformed it into a shield and hurled it forward. The Blade sailed almost Frisbee-like through the air and shattered one of the front doors. Ron gathered up all his strength and leaped as hard as he could, diving forward through the doorframe. An instant later, the globe slammed into the entrance. The front doors exploded outward while the building was shaken to its foundations. But its forward momentum, at least, was halted.
No one would be going through those doors for months.
Ronin instinctively tucked up into a ball and grunted when he hit the top of the outer concrete stairs. He tumbled several times and then came to a stop on the third stair down.
He found himself surrounded by Hovito security drones.
They stood about five feet high, had tank-like treads for mobility, and brandished flechette launchers, all of which were pointed at him.
Then Ron looked into the face of an adversary.
His name was William Locke, a Frenchman who had once done some freelance operative work for Germany's Das Justice Korps. He and Ronin had conducted a few missions together, but things went sour between them when Locke tried to take credit for a mission Ron had completed. It wasn't necessarily that Ron had such an ego, but Locke had used the glory to advance his own career, and had also falsely accused Ronin of failing his duties. On one particular mission, Ron had put himself in considerable danger to retrieve a stolen priceless artifact. Once it was retrieved, Locke took possession of it and claimed the credit for himself. After awhile, Locke had turned rogue, and began working as a double agent for several supervillains, including Professor Dementor. Lately, word had gotten out that he was working for Arianna. But looking at his face, Ronin suddenly got the feeling that Bill Locke was about to double-cross his current employer and keep the IDOL for himself.
Locke walked over and stood above Ron. "Ronin! Again we see there is nothing which you posses that I cannot take away. And you thought I had given up."
Locke held out his hand expectantly.
Ron held up his fist and the Lotus Blade sailed into his grasp. Dozens of flechette launchers suddenly hummed to life. Ron cautiously put the Blade into it sheath on his back. Locke knew better than to try and take it.
"You chose the wrong friends," Locke gloated, "This time it will cost you."
Ron reluctantly handed over the IDOL.
"Too bad the Hovito-bots don't know you the way I do, Locke." Ron growled.
"Yes." Locke agreed, "Too bad. You could warn them, if only you controlled them."
Unable to resist, Locke decided a demonstration of the IDOL was in order. He punched several buttons on the device and held it up in the air.
All the Hovito security drones shut down.
Like a sprinter exploding off the starting block, Ron leaped to his feet and ran down the concrete steps.
Surprised, Locke watched Ronin run for a second, then powered up the drones once more, directing them to pursue the fleeing ninja. As the bots went after Ronin, Locke held the IDOL up before him and began to laugh maniacally. The laugh echoed throughout the plaza.
"RUFUS!" Ron bellowed frantically as he raced down the shallow concrete steps, "START THE ENGINE!"
On the far side of the reflecting pool, the Ninjet de-cloaked. The pilot-side door of the aircraft opened and the naked mole rat scampered out, gazing in the direction of the Hovito building.
"START THE ENGINE, RUFUS!"
Rufus scampered back into the Ninjet. Several seconds later, the engines cranked up, and the craft drifted around so the passenger side was facing toward Ron.
Ron pelted straight for the metallic arch, while behind him, the Hovito-bots were gaining. Some of them were firing their deadly projectiles in Ronin's direction. He took the Lotus Blade from his back and once more transformed it into a claw and chain. Ron hurled the claw, then, without stopping to make sure it was securely latched, swung through the arch and far out over the reflecting pool. At the very last second, he let go and plunged into the pool itself. Tiny splashes erupted all across the surface of the water as hundreds of darts hissed through the air and into the pool. Ron swam for the passenger side of the Ninjet and hauled himself up. A few darts embedded themselves with a 'thunk' into the body of the aircraft. Ron called the Blade back to him, transforming it into a katana while it was still in the air, then pulled his door shut.
A few seconds later, the Ninjet streaked into the sky.
Ron was about to tell Wade why Zapruder was missing when he felt something on his leg. To his horror, Ron looked down and saw a tarantula crawling up over his right knee.
"WADE!" Ron screamed, "THERE'S A BIG SPIDER IN THE NINJET!"
"Yeah!" Wade enthused, "It's a rare Amazonian Tree Spider! I had Rufus go capture it while you guys were inside."
"I HATE SPIDERS, WADE, I HATE 'EM!"
"Come on!" Wade said in an annoyed tone, "Show a little exoskeleton, will ya?"
The Ninjet banked to the left and headed northwest, in the direction of the setting sun.
Several minutes later, Rufus had secured the Tree Spider and Ron was telling Wade about the mission.
"I had it, Wade. I had it in my hand!"
Wade uttered a chuckle laced with contempt for the name he was about to say, "Bill Locke?"
"Wanna hear about it?"
"Woops, maybe later," Wade answered as if suddenly distracted by something, "In the meantime-"
"I can get it." Ron insisted, "There's only one place he can sell it. I just need to-"
"I'm sure Wil Du will handle it, Ron." Wade said even more insistently, "Right now I've got a very important call for you from your wife."
"Oh," Ron said, surprised. Kim usually didn't call him while he was on missions, "Put her through."
Wade's face was replaced by an image of a little girl with a shock of very red hair on her head.
"Durgle!" She squealed excitedly.
"Hi, sweetheart!" Ron exclaimed touching the screen with his hand, "Where's Mommy? Is she there?"
A pair of hands reached into the frame, picked up the little girl and set her down somewhere off screen. Then Ron's wife Kim sat down and gazed at him, it was clear she had been crying.
"Sweetie, what's wrong?" Ron asked with rapidly growing concern.
"Can you come home, Ron?" Kim asked, sniffing back a sob, "Nana died this afternoon."
"… and so we commit the body of Marion Zimmer Possible to the ground, back to the dust from whence it came. Her soul having already gone on to its final glory with Almighty God, her body shall rest until the return of Christ, when all shall rise, and the sea will give up its dead; our bodies made new in the twinkling of an eye. Marion's legacy lives on in her children; two beloved sons: Dustin "Slim" Possible, and James Timothy Possible. She is also survived by five loving grandchildren: Lawrence, Kimberly, Jocelyn, James, and Timothy, and one great-grandchild: Veronica. The Possible family would like to thank you all for coming today, this concludes our service."
It was a sunny afternoon at Middleton Cemetery. Most of the family members were seated while the rest stood in a small cluster near a freshly dug grave. An American flag, draped over the coffin, was removed and folded by an elderly gentleman into a tight triangle shape, and handed to Kim's uncle Slim.
Kim dabbed at her eyes with a tissue as she watched her grandmother's coffin slowly descend to its final resting place. On one side of her sat her husband, while on the other sat her mother, who was holding Ronnie-Anne in her lap. The little girl was oblivious to the solemnity of the proceedings and occasionally squirmed in her grandmother's embrace.
There were quite a few elderly people wearing army uniforms in attendance. Kim knew none of them. Indeed, she had been quite surprised earlier to see the flag draped over Nana's coffin. Kim knew this was an honor generally reserved for members of the military, police officers, and firefighters.
She was about to ask her father if he knew any of these people when she noticed his chair was empty. She craned her head around and spotted him talking to an extremely old man a short distance away. The old man had a cane, but stood straight and tall. He wore a gray flannel suit that had clearly seen better days and wore an old brown fedora on his head.
Kim got up and walked over to her father's side. James had been talking quietly to the old man, but stopped when Kim approached.
"Kimmie cub," her father said with a solemn smile, "There's someone here I want you to meet. In fact, I've been hoping to introduce you to him for quite some time now but the opportunity never seemed to come up. This is Doctor Henry Jones."
The old man put out his hand, and Kim gently shook it. She noticed he was wearing an eye patch over his left eye, while the other seemed to twinkle with a lively enthusiasm.
He had a very firm grip for a man of his advanced years.
"Everyone calls me 'Indiana'," He said with a sort of lopsided grin.
"Pleasure to meet you." Kim said courteously.
"Kim," her father laid a tender hand on her shoulder, "There is something I need to tell you, and it's very important."
Kim looked at him, puzzled but expectant.
James continued, "Doctor Jones here is my father… your grandfather."