A/N: As much as I hate ret-coning, I did a little in this chapter. Kudos to anyone who spots it. The end scene is freely adapted from the Superman Returns movie trailer, which kicks ass. I can't wait for the movie itself.
"So why don't you tell me about yourself, Bebe?" Toyman asked in his high toned voice. He was back in his current lair, far from any major cities, and their attendant annoying superheroes. The robotic head he was addressing was incapable of changing its expression, but somehow managed, with a flicker of its photoreceptor eyes, to convey an impression of annoyance.
"I am Bebe. Bebe is perrffect. What else is there to tell?" Bebe asked scornfully from where she sat on a cluttered electronics workbench.
Toyman just chuckled. "You are a very advanced design, Bebe, I'll give you that." He leaned in closer, his own mask covered face as expressionless as Bebe's. "Still, if you were really perfect, you wouldn't have been beaten twice...by a cheerleader. Would you?"
The light that flared up in Bebe's eyes made Toyman glad she was just a disembodied head, else he'd likely have been in peril of life and limb. A robot that got angry. That was interesting. Of all the robots he'd ever seen or heard of, only a handful, including Brainiac and, of course, his own beloved Darci, had actually possessed emotions. A thought occurred to Toyman. It was possible that Bebe was merely feigning emotions. Given the intensity of her reaction to his gibe, he thought that unlikely, but anything was possible. He'd have to look into that as he went about the process of reconstructing a Bebe robot of his own. Perhaps there was room for improvement?
"You have a point, Winslow Schott," Bebe said after a moment. "However, Bebe did not lose to Kim Possible alone. Each time she had the assistance of others."
"Really?" Toyman asked, surprised. "I hadn't heard that part. Tell me more!"
Bebe's eyes flickered again. "The first time Bebe was defeated, it was because James Possible discovered that the wireless network that allowed Bebes' hive mind to function was susceptible to jamming. Bebes' lost their ability to coordinate their actions. Defeat followed quickly."
"A serious design flaw," Toyman mused. "I'd ask why Dr. Drakken never thought to guard against that, but there's really no need, is there?" He said the last with a knowing chuckle, and was surprised when Bebe echoed it.
"True," she concurred. "How one so erratically brilliant could construct something as nearly perfect as Bebe is hard to conceptualize."
"What about your second defeat?" Toyman probed. Bebe's eyes flickered again, and Toyman decided if that was her only means (apart from tone of voice) of showing emotion, he'd have to give her a more expressive face when he rebuilt her.
"Kim Possible acquired a pair of shoes with built in temporal distorters. She was able to match Bebes' superior speed and reflexes." Bebe explained.
"What about your hive mind? How did she overcome that?"
Bebe hesitated, and Toyman sensed she was embarrassed by some of the circumstances of this particular failure.
"Kim Possible was assisted by an identically equipped naked mole rat," Bebe blurted.
Toyman blinked behind his mask. What the hell was a naked mole rat? Fortunately the workbench featured a computer connected to the internet. A quick Google search later, an incredulous Toyman turned the monitor and Bebe to face each other.
"One of these things?" he demanded, still not believing it.
"Yes," Bebe confirmed. "However," she clarified, "This one was far more intelligent than a typical naked mole rate. It knew precisely where and how to attack our production machines and computers to effect maximum damage."
Toyman leaned back, thinking. How could a small mammal be as smart as Bebe claimed. He pondered the question for a few moments before dismissing it. He had no particular grudge against Kim Possible, and since she didn't figure in his plans the whole matter was pretty much irrelevant.
"I have a proposition for you, Bebe," Toyman said finally. "I'll rebuild you, and provide you the means to make copies of yourself. I'll even throw in a few improvements, if you like."
"And in exchange..?" Bebe inquired.
"My special friend Darci has run away again," Toyman confessed. "She's hiding from me, and I need your help to find her."
The robot stared at him for a long moment. "Bebe thinks there is something you aren't telling her," Bebe accused softly.
"I'm sorry, Bebe," Toyman apologized. "Darci has run away twice before, since we met, and each time, Superman got involved. It's highly probable that he's helping her avoid me, and we may run into him when we start our search."
"Bebe understands. Bebe accepts your offer, Winslow Schott." Toyman grinned behind his mask and rubbed his hands in anticipation. "Great!" he crowed. He began to babble about his plans for repairing and upgrading Bebe, and she dutifully recorded his words for future reference. But she wasn't really listening. For as much as Toyman had admitted withholding information, she was sure he still hadn't told her the whole truth. Just what it was that he was concealing, she couldn't guess. Yet. But once she had a new body, that would change. Toyman wasn't the only one with a hidden agenda, after all.
Kim looked up from her reading as Ron walked into the apartment they shared at the University of Northern California.
"Hey, K.P.," he greeted her in a tired voice. He dropped his backpack just inside the door and headed for the apartment's tiny kitchen.
"How was class?" Kim asked sympathetically. Given the day of the week and the time, Kim had a pretty good idea why Ron was tired.
"Professor Clay was his usual bubbly self," Ron reported as he opened the refrigerator and started rummaging.
Kim grinned. Darrin Clay taught 'Introduction to Logic', one of the courses all freshmen were required to take. Kim had taken the class the previous semester and enjoyed it, even if Prof. Clay's lectures were a touch on the...dry side.
"I mean," Ron groused as he straightened up and shut the 'fridge door, can of soda in hand, "Logic is dull enough on its own. He could at least try to make it a bit more exciting."
Popping the soda, Ron slumped onto the couch that dominated the apartment's 'living room' and let out a sigh. His funk didn't last long, though. Almost as soon as Ron sat down, a tiny pink blur streaked out of his room and bounded up onto him.
"Hi!" Rufus squeaked, his stubby arms clasping one side of Ron's face in an enthusiastic hug.
"Hey, buddy," Ron laughed, fingertips lightly stroking Rufus' back before the rodent slipped down into Ron's front shirt pocket. Rufus had barely vanished from sight when his head popped back out of the pocket.
"Sunflower seeds!" Rufus exclaimed gleefully, clasping one in his paws.
"Got 'em just for you, buddy, enjoy," Ron chuckled.
"Hank hoo!" Rufus chirped, and set about eating.
"Speaking of food," Kim said.
"What about food?" Ron asked, his tone playfully conspiratorial, one hand going to his stomach.
"Well," Kim said sheepishly, "Justin called and cancelled our dinner date." Ron's eyes narrowed briefly, but he relaxed and said nothing. "But I was really looking forward to going out for dinner, and I don't want to eat in tonight. Wanna go somewhere with me?"
Ron brightened immediately. "Like you have to ask," he scoffed. Then, "UH, where were you thinking of going?"
"I was going to let you choose, Ron. You have better taste in restaurants than I do."
Ron rubbed his chin. "There's a place up in Shasta Lake I've heard good things about," he offered.
"Kim smiled at him. "Dare I ask what kind of cuisine they serve?" Knowing Ron it was probably spicy as all get out.
"Moroccan!" Ron revealed.
"Moroccan?" Kim echoed. "What sort of..."
Ron cut her off. "Falafel, hummus, babakanoosh...", he said, licking his lips hungrily.
"I don't know what any of those are," Kim giggled, "But I'll take your word for it. Let me get my purse and we can go."
Ron sighed happily. Dinner had been terrific, even better than he'd heard. Afterward, Kim had suggested they stop on their way home and catch a movie. Now, two hours of romantic comedy later, he and Kim were back home, relaxing on the couch. Kim was snuggled against him, her head resting on his chest, dozing. Ron was feeling sleepy himself, his head nodding, when something happened. At first he thought he was dreaming, as the room got very still and dark, then seemed to fade away entirely. Suddenly, images began to flash around him, so fast he could hardly make out what each one was. Then, just as quickly as it began, it was over.
Ron's head jerked up, his eyes snapping open. 'What the hell was that?' he asked silently. The images he had seen were a jumbled blur in his brain. He puzzled over them for a while, trying to make sense of them, but had no luck. Even so, he couldn't shake the notion that something was about to happen. Just what it was, he didn't know, but he was sure it involved Team Possible somehow. As he sat and reflected, Ron became convinced that it (whatever it was) would happen soon.
And that it would have far reaching consequences for him personally.
It was almost midnight when Kara and her friend Susan Ross left the Watson Library on the campus of the University of Kansas and started the long walk back to Ellsworth Residence Hall, where they shared a room. Given the hour and the fact that it was the middle of the week, there wasn't much activity. Per their usual procedure, Kara and Susan stuck to the well lit main streets. It wasn't at all necessary, of course, since Kara had her superpowers, and Susan was 'in the know' as Kara liked to put it. Still, it paid to keep up appearances.
"So," Kara said, glancing at Susan, "are you ready for finals week?"
Susan gave a dismissive snort. "I'm an athlete, Kara. How hard can it be to prepare for a final in Underwater Basket Weaving?"
Kara giggled. Susan enjoyed playing the role of dumb jock, especially for people who resented those on athletic scholarships and the supposed free ride they got vis-à-vis academics. It wasn't true, of course. At least not in Susan's case.
"Sure," Kara agreed sarcastically. "That's how you managed a B average in chemistry and biology last semester. All those hours of studying, and tutoring from yours truly, had nothing to do with it."
"Nope, not a thing," Susan confirmed, before bursting into giggles herself. "Seriously, I think I'm as ready as I can be without burning myself out," she added when the mutual snickering died away. "I'm going to take the books easy the next couple of days, then brush up over the weekend."
"That sounds like a good idea," Kara nodded. "I'm pretty sure that..."
The shrill sound of a whistle split the night air.
"That's close!" Susan exclaimed. She and Kara shared a brief look, then Kara dashed for a nearby alley that was shrouded with shadow, while Susan ran toward where the whistle had come from. She knew she wouldn't get there first, but that was okay with her.
Two men were manhandling a girl in the cul-de-sac between Haworth Hall and the Stewart Children's Center. They were dressed all in black, with full face masks. Kara's lips pulled back in a savage grin. These two had to be the tag-team rapists that had been working the campus the last few weeks. They'd struck a half-dozen times, always managing to escape capture, only failing to achieve their goal once, and the other five times leaving their victim badly beaten.
"This is gonna be fun," Kara snarled to herself as she stooped down and alighted behind the men and their still struggling victim.
"Ahem!" Kara vocalized, noisily clearing her throat.
The men turned their heads. "Aw, crap," one of them said.
"Don't be a pussy," the other snapped. "It's just some blonde cow dressed up like Superchick."
"You're a real charmer, handsome," Kara sneered. The man, who was armed with a baseball bat, started toward her.
"I'm gonna wipe that sneer right off your face, you worthless little bitch," he declared with a malicious grin.
Kara said nothing, just watched him approach, a knowing little smile on her lips. She didn't even flinch as the man swung the bat at her head as hard as he could.
The 'crack' of splintering wood echoed between the buildings. The broken bat clattered to the ground as the man, his hands stinging from the shock of hitting an unmovable object, stared dumbly as Kara reached out and snagged his shirt. With a flick of her wrist she sent him flying a good thirty feet into the side of one of the buildings. He slumped to the ground, stunned.
"Your turn," Kara said, addressing the second rapist. Without a word he turned to run.
Only to find himself facing Kara. He turned again.
"Do yourself a favor and give up," Kara advised.
The man fainted instead.
The sound of running feet drew Kara's attention, and she had to fight the urge to smile as Susan ran up.
"Holy Heck," Susan said theatrically, gawking at her friend as if seeing her for the first time.
"See to her," Kara commanded, jerking her head toward the now hysterical woman she had just rescued, "While I deal with her friends." Susan obeyed while Kara gathered up the perps and held them. It took only moments for a cruiser to come screeching to a halt in the cul-de-sac.
"Holy Heck," one of the officers said, echoing Susan's earlier words, "It's Supergirl."
"I have a pair of would be rapists for you, officers. I think they're the ones you've been looking for."
While the officers cuffed the men and put them in the back of their car, Kara turned to check on the victim. Her sobs had been diminishing as Susan comforted her, which was a good sign. Now Kara got a clear look at the girl.
For a bare moment, Kara was absolutely still. She knew this girl. She had several classes with her, and had become friends with her over the past year. Seeing her sobbing uncontrollably, with torn clothes and bruises forming on her face and arms, caused a spike of white hot rage to flare up in Kara. She spun, eyes blazing, toward the patrol car. The men gaped at her, as if realizing their peril, but Kara quashed her rage, albeit with great effort. She turned again.
"Is she all right?" she asked softly.
"As much as can be expected," Susan reported, her own voice underlain with fury. The girl looked up at Kara, her tear filled eyes showing no sign of recognition.
"Thank you, Supergirl, thank you."
"I- I-," Kara stammered. "I'm- You're welcome." Kara swayed slightly, then said, "I have to go," and without another word shot straight up, quickly vanishing from sight.
"Wow," one of the cops said. "She seemed really shaken."
"Yeah," Susan agreed.
High above the Earth, Kara drifted with her eyes closed, remembering the recording Clark had played for her, the one his biological father, Jor-el of Krypton had sent with him. It was oddly similar to an old Raoist prayer, and probably deliberately so, given the heights of conceit members of the House of El were allegedly given to.
"Even though you have been raised as a human being, you are not one of them. They can be a great people, Kal-el, if they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you, my only son."
Kara opened her eyes. Jor-el had been right about one thing, at least. Humans did have a great capacity for good.
'If only their capacity for evil wasn't just as great,' Kara mused sadly. Then she shook her head. 'Gah! I'm starting to sound like some snobby Kryptonian elitist,' she thought. Ahead of her the glow of impending sunrise lit the limb of the Earth. In minutes Sol had risen, bathing Kara in His golden glow.
She glanced at down at the Earth, with its teeming billions.
'I pray you're right, Jor-el. I pray to Rao you're right.'