Disney's Kim Possible in
By Adam Leigh
Dr. Director sat in her chair at the end of a long conference table. She'd only been absent for a week or so and the whole world had happened. It was surreal and a little disappointing. She tried not to interpret events as if the world depended on her to keep order, and this meeting was intended to help that.
To her right was SIC Jennifer Cartwright, who had been more than charitable by taking over command of GJ in Betty's absence. She hadn't yet finished reading every report from the period she was absent, but the summaries she received led her to believe that Cartwright had done a stand-up job in the crisis they were in.
Jennifer and Dr. Director went way back, a handful of years both professionally and then socially and then professionally once more. But it dwarfed the time she knew the man to her left. Richard Wagner Vedas sat calmly and coolly, but inside, he was simmering. Betty knew. He hated bureaucracy, and while she had complete authority in the end, there were at least some considerations given to what the Oversight and Liaison Committee (also known as the OLC) felt about Global Justice's actions.
Aside from the twenty-four members of the OLC at the table as well, there was also Vicki Grimes sitting in a chair to the rear left of Dr. Director. Cartwright had intended to deliver the lady's report, but Betty had insisted that if Vicki did the work, she deserved to present it. As the last of the OLC members got into their chairs, Dr. Director felt it time to get things moving and cleared her throat.
"Ladies and Gentlemen," she said. "I thank you for coming to this OLC meeting today, as we are finally prepared to disclose our findings regarding the recent World Wide Evil Empire incident. Our findings in this case will all labeled WEE15538732-GAMMA and provided to your respective governments or organizations for review. The core elements of this incident, however, we will provide to you at this time."
Betty turned in her chair slightly to get more comfortable. "The matter was opened starting with the kidnapping of fugitive-at-large Drew Lipsky, also known as Dr. Drakken. What was originally considered to be a non-issue in this case, but later was revealed to be essential, is that Drew Lipsky is the son of Angela Kelly-Lipsky and the late David Lipsky who were once known as Atomic Andy and Captain Fantastic, respectively."
In a hospital, not too distant from where the conference was taking place, a patient lay in a darkened room accompanied only by the soft beeps of the many machines connected to her. There had been no visitors since her check-in, and no change in her condition. The doctors who tended to her were unable to figure out what was going on in her brain and their attempts had been greatly hindered by the huge stone headpiece they'd been unable to remove.
Still, aside from looking like a museum mannequin that had gotten lost and ended up in a hospital, Shego looked terribly peaceful. Especially with the sedatives that were keeping her seizures in check.
It was late and dark, and no visitors would have been allowed even if she had anyone who would come. But that didn't stop the door to the room from quietly opening and a short woman, no greater than four feet tall and only half that around, waddling in. She had large spectacles on, and a very loud dress, with a beehive that stood probably half her height again. She closed the door behind her and placed a metal pad across the seam, which sizzled briefly and then sealed the door shut.
Pulling over a chair she jumped up onto the seat and peered over at Shego's sleeping form. The Mantle of Tenoch was still clinging desperately to her body, as the woman had expected. She gently pushed some random strands of hair out of Shego's face and tiled her head.
"Let me tell you a story, Shego," she said to the sleeping girl. "Once upon a time, in a city far far away, I was a young lass just like you. I had strength and power, and ambition -- oh, the heavens did I have ambition! I set my sights on the world and I would not stop at anything less. As the years passed, my power grew and my influence expanded. The other villains of the age looked up to me, and anticipated my success."
The woman adjusted her seating. "Ah, but I had a folly, a terrible, terrible folly. I loved to play games. Not just any games, though. Manipulating games. People without power were inferior to me and I wanted to see them spin through hoops at my request." She shook her head. "It would be my downfall."
Dr. Rick stood and motioned towards the slides that he'd passed out to the OLC earlier. "Depending on who you ask, the Mantle of Tenoch is a very mythic object indeed. Classically speaking, which I guess means what you find in a museum, the Mantle was a Mayan piece, worn by Tenoch, the legendary founder of the Aztec civilization. This mantle was enshrined by the Aztecs after Tenoch's death and later lost in a series of moves by the civilization rending its original location unknown."
"What is also publicly known, or at least can be assembled, is that Cortez came across the Mantle during his conquest of the Aztecs but he neither knew nor cared what it was and his crew shipped it, along with an assortment of other artifacts back to Spain which were consequently traded across the known world, their origins and purposes lost. Factually, this is where contemporary knowledge ends."
"Mythically, however, there are widespread tales of the Mantle of Tenoch being capable of bestowing powers to its wearer akin to a god. These rumors of supernatural power were redoubled during the years of great intrigue about the Mayan people and their intelligence. There are also writings, which date back to the Aztec era, of the Mantle granting knowledge of the future to its wearing, possibly even the ability to travel in time."
Rick flipped a page on his slides. "Now, there is more information about the Mantle of Tenoch, as I alluded to earlier, that is not in the public consciousness. I have copies of a missing pages from Cortez's journal that indicate the Mantle was complete and being worn by an Aztec man during the time of his conquest. Cortez speaks of the man being 'like a god' and able to see attacks before they happened, speak about men he had never met before, and that rumors existed that he was immortal."
Richard looked around at the faces of the committee as the digested what he'd just said. "Now, this man was consequently slain by Cortez, so you can forget about that last one."
"He was a sweet man, but none to bright," continued the woman to the sleeping Shego. "An accountant in his 'real life' I found it hard to believe that a person so fanciful could live such a regulated facade. Still, despite his naive nature, he was quite a capable hero. He thwarted some of my best plans, I hate to admit. Although much of his life turned out to be dumb luck."
"I was attracted to him. I don't know why. Maybe it was just part of the 'bad girl' persona I was living that I craved attention from my nemesis. He was handsome, though. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't his heart that I desired. We came together from time to time, I guess he came to love me, I'm not sure. I would use my knowledge of his life to help my plans succeed and he would beat me anyway, just shaking his head as if I should feel guilty for using the resources he's given me. But in the end, and I'm not sure why, but by the end of the night, we ended up together."
"But I couldn't drop my games. I just ... I still have to do it. It's the only real sense of accomplishment I get anymore. So I started playing with his mind. I tried to convince him he was a fool, that his life was a series of lucky mistakes and eventually, if he kept up, someone would rely on him for a task he couldn't complete. The luck would fail. I tried to slip my message in here in there, subtly, so he didn't realize what I was doing. But he got the idea, eventually. That's why he went searching for the Mantle of Tenoch, what you're wearing know."
"You see, he got it into his head, and this idea was his own, that the Mantle would make him intelligent and wise. He'd heard the rumors that it granted you knowledge of the future, and he figured if he could see everything coming, he could prepare for it, and appear wise. He never realized that you can't fake wisdom. Either you learn from you past or you don't. Frankly, though, he never should have been able to even assemble the Mantle if he hadn't had help from a little group called 'Global Justice.'"
Vicki smiled nervously. "So you see, our electronic records had this gap, so our only alternatives were to find the original paper records or hope there was enough corollary information in the anecdotal reports that were missed to piece together the truth of the event. Through a combination of anecdotal reports and interviews with surviving ex-GJ agents from the sixties, we were able to reassemble this chain of events."
Agent Grimes turned the slide. "In 1965, the reported year of Captain Fantastic, aka David Lipsky's, disappearance Global Justice was in possession of the complete Mantle of Tenoch."
The committee exploded in murmurs again, but Dr. Director quickly silenced them. Vicki continued. "They had, in fact, been in possession of it since 1963, when, at the behest of Captain Fantastic, with which they had a great relationship, they attempted to search for it. It was pieced together and used by Captain Fantastic in a bid to increase his intelligence to help fight crime and, more specifically, the at large criminal Atomic Andy, his later wife."
"Except, as Dr. Vedas explained the true purpose of the Mantle of Tenoch, it doesn't quite work that way. His soul was exiled from his body and, to the best of our knowledge, found its way back six months later. During his 'soul trip' he learned of a means to 'correct' a villain's evil nature. A device called a 'Kahn-Clasp Inhibitor,' an infinitely distant variant of which has recently been marketed by Jack Hench as the Attitudinator."
"Captain Fantastic had neither the resources nor the intelligence to act on the plans he had committed to memory and Global Justice was eager to help reduce the super villain population, so they jointly developed the first Kahn-Clasp Inhibitor. It was constructed swiftly, and used on Atomic Andy. It worked."
The committee looked around at one another suspiciously. The liaison from Canada spoke up. "If you've had such a device, why have we never heard of it before now? Wouldn't this seriously decrease the number of global crimes?"
"Unfortunately," Vicki responded. "Later reports we uncovered indicate the device had ... side effects."
"Personally, I don't think my own sin of not really loving him with my heart was worth the punishment they inflicted upon me," the woman said scornfully. Shego, still unconscious, lay silently.
"I can remember it now, which is funny, because I couldn't for the longest time. I guess it wore off over time, or something else happened I'm not aware of. In any case, I can actually remember with clarity the times before he used that Kahn-Clasp thing on me so I know for sure, how badly it screwed me up."
"You even mentioned on how my 'figure got shot to hell' afterwards, and you're absolutely right." The woman nodded. "Mutagenic anomalies are what they called it at the time. Basically, they used this thing on me to make me 'good' and it destroyed fundamental sequences in my DNA. They built this whole corporation, VersaGene, around trying to piece back together by body from the wreckage the device left it in."
"But here's the terrific part: I didn't care! That damn evil-adjuster made me so benign, so happy to just be alive and with my 'beau' Captain Fantastic that I felt like I could endure anything. And it wasn't just anything, it was world changing agony! But no, everything was all dandy for me. That bastard went through emotional turmoil that got him out of the hero business, but he didn't have to feel his skin literally crawling across his body for days at a time."
The woman grit her teeth. "If it wasn't for that Kahn-Clasp Inhibitor, I'd have killed myself to be rid of it all. Just to end the pain." She hesitated, checking Shego for a reaction to which, naturally, there was none. "He married me, as things would go, and I was happy, or mock happy, or whatever you call someone so utterly manipulated that you have no idea what up and down are anymore. We had Drewby-- ugh, I mean Drew. Then, a year or so later, he went back to that cursed thing."
She shook her fist. "David, Captain Fantastic, had been working with GJ as an analyst and, strangely enough, personal accountant, since marrying me but had never gotten over how he wronged me. And damn well he shouldn't have, but the point is, he never understood why he didn't foresee the side effects of the Kahn-Clasp Inhibitor when he discovered it in his soul's journey across time and space. So he decided to take another stab at it, find someway of fixing me or gaining peace with what he did."
"Now, this was 65, we were just starting to dabble in computers as a country and GJ was, as they are now, ahead of the game. They had just come across the concept of computer-aided security recognition. The precursor to those keypad entry systems so pervasive today. David had set up some of those systems, and knew his way around a bit, so he gave himself access to the vault and walked in and put on the Mantle of Tenoch again."
Rick shrugged before the crowed. "This is where it doesn't make sense, because nothing we ever documented explains what happened the second time he put on that Mantle."
"It practically exploded. When agents went in to clean up the mess, the only thing they ever found was the helm piece, which they agreed to remove and placed in the care of a long lasting family in good standing with Global Justice." He pointed to himself. "Mine. Where it had stayed, safely, until last week. It was believed that the other pieces of the Mantle had been destroyed, and it no longer presented a risk nor was a viable source of information anymore."
"Apparently, we were wrong. The pieces, unbeknownst to me or anyone at Global Justice, resurfaced across the world. Eventually finding their ways back into museums where, last week, they were stolen and assembled again with the exception of a single piece, the helm in my family's possession."
Richard sat down and Dr. Director nodded. "Thank you Richard. Now, based on what you've heard today, the events of the last two weeks will begin to make sense. I will briefly connect the dots for you." Betty nodded and a project showed a timeline.
"Based on the discoveries of Vicki, revealing usage of access codes and information from the 60s being applied two weeks ago, and the information we now possess concerning Captain Fantastic and Atomic Andy, as well as our understanding of the true purpose of the Mantle of Tenoch, it is our opinion that the objective behind everything that happened recently, was in order to put Angela Lipsky in a position to gain access to the assembled Mantle of Tenoch so she could use it to gain information about the future. Possibly in order to enact a form of revenge on Global Justice for what happened to her or to continue her plans of world domination."
"Honestly though, I would think they'd have noticed," admitted the woman, reaching into her purse and pulling out an old, jade amulet, intricately carved. She showed it to Shego's unconscious body. "Cortez even spoke of it in those 'lost pages' they have. The 'Window of Jade' the Aztecs called it, but to Cortez it was one of a hundred jade amulets recovered in that area. So why would think it special?"
She laughed to herself and put the amulet around her neck. "It really is a foolish translation, though. You see, just because someone can be killed..."
The woman put her hand out over Shego's forehead and pressed her fingers against the unconscious girl's temples. The amulet on her chest began to glow bright green as tendrils of purple energy began flowing out of the pieces of the Mantle and around the ends of Shego's body. They drifted on unfelt currents of air for just a moment before quickly being pulled into the jade amulet.
As the energies flowed and twisted in the air, they collected with other, green colors, and merged before flowing into the amulet. The woman's body suddenly lifted from the ground as began to shimmer as the purple tendrils began to wane. Her skin turned translucent then became nothing but energy entirely, reorganizing, redistributing, becoming a messy blob first then slowly being manipulated back into the human form. However, now, the form was taller, thinner, more feminine.
On the bed, Shego's body shivered as it began to shift and sag, her face drooping slightly while the rest of her body because spindly and boney. Her hospital gown sagged as the body beneath shrunk slightly, her deep and rich black hair turning lighter and streaking with gray. Her fingers crackled with energy once then dissipated into the air only to be draw in by the energies of the jade amulet.
At long last, the light began to fade and the woman's form touched the ground, first wobbly, then quickly getting her footing. Her clothes had torn and shredded, to small for her new height. She looked at her long, smooth arms and ran her hands across her sharp jaw and tight skin. She quickly rushed to a mirror and gazed deeply at the image she saw.
"Oh my," she said at first, with a gasp, before slowly turning to grin with giggles. "I'd forgotten how sexy I used to look." She laughed playfully, then turned towards the bed. The once youthful, even sex form, had been replaced by something elder, less nimble, and more frail.
"You're lucky," the woman said scathingly. "At least you still look like you,and not some bulbous monster." She flicked her long hair behind her and picked up her purse, a large bag, but one necessary to keep the clothes she knew she'd need to leave with. Slipping on the flimsy skirt and tank top, the woman smiled in the mirror again.
With a pleasant laugh, she walked over to the bed and began removing the Mantle of Tenoch. "What was I saying before? Oh yes," she packed away the pieces in a larger plastic bag she'd brought with her. "Just because someone can be killed, doesn't mean, given the right circumstances, they aren't immortal."
With her things packed away, the woman walked to the door and looked at the metal seal she'd placed there. She cocked her head to the side and then held out her hand before her face. Concentrating, she narrowed her eyes and suddenly the hand burst into crackling green energy. She brought her finger down on the seal, cutting through it like butter.
"Definitely an improvement," she said simply, then pulled open the door and walked away.
The committee stared, blankly. The German oversight member cleared his throat. "But I thought Angela Lipsky was permanently 'good.' How did she overcome the effects of the Kah-Clasp Inhibitor?"
Betty's mouth became a thin line. "We can't, at this time, narrow down a specific explanation. Our conclusion of Lipsky as the ringleader is based on her knowledge of David's passcodes, as well as the remarkable coincidence that there was a system breach at exactly the same time she was visiting GJ Headquarters with Kim Possible. Just because we cannot determine the cause of her turn back to evil, doesn't mean it is not the most likely scenario."
"Who removed the records of the Mantle of Tenoch?" asked the Italian oversight member.
"We believe it was the work of a virus," Vicki said, standing. "Possibly originating from Mrs. Lipsky as well, but we can't confirm that. The virus, if there was one, was self erasing. Also, the paper records for many of these events were also missing, so there may have been a second hand in it."
"Dr. Director," the British liaison spoke up. "This story, while elaborate and informative of how devious GJ's actions have been in the past, is not fully supported by the evidence of events in the last two weeks. Is it not more 'likely' that Gemini acted alone and has simply stepped up his game?"
Betty reflected no emotions but simply nodded. "That is a possibility. However, we prefer to prepare for the worst in case it comes true."
"Are you attempting to incite panic?" accused the US liaison, who alternated his look between Dr. Director and Jennifer Cartwright.
"That is, in fact, the opposite of our purpose," said Dr. Director. "We wish you to know all of the facts that have come to light, so you can better prepare yourself for what might be coming ahead."
"Which is what, exactly?" replied the liaison.
Betty sighed. "Almost anything."
"Not the best conference I've been to," shrugged Jennifer as they stood in Dr. Director's office (which was previously Cartwright's office, which was previously Vicki's office). "But this is the way things are in the world."
"What do you mean?" asked Richard, throwing his presentation in the trash.
"Just a few years ago, nobody would have questioned GJ," said Jennifer. "The climate of truth is changing in the world. Nobody trusts anyone anymore. If it can't be destroyed and proven to contain at least some malicious or devious intent, then they won't trust it, and if there IS a devious element, they know they can't trust it. It's an endless cycle of shameful behavior on everyone's part."
"Something funny about that, Bets?" asked Jennifer.
"No, I was just going to say I thought Richard was the jaded one."
This time Rick laughed. "Well, when you've lived as long as me, it's hard to keep a fresh perspective." He shrugged. "I think Aurora's rubbing off on me, though, I have more hope these days than I used to."
"Does that mean you'll consider being an agent again?" asked Betty.
"No," Rick said curtly. "I don't believe in these organizations anymore."
Jennifer raised an eyebrow. "That's an odd statement to make, considering your current involvement."
"Not really. I don't really trust Global Justice at all. I'm probably worse than your OLC. The difference is, I trust Betty." He flashed a smile to the Director. "So I'll do her a favor or two. That, and I do think Kim Possible will go far, so anyway I can help keep her safe in her budding years, I'm glad to help."
"You're not missed in New York?" asked Betty.
"Aurora is more than capable of finding me if she wanted," grinned Rick. "For the purposes of her privacy, I'll not even mention how much she knows about magic that you think is just hocus pocus."
"Oh, I'm sure I'll be riveted by what you have to say for a long time to come," Betty admitted. "Aurora needn't worry about me. You're only... what? One? Two hundred times older than her?"
"Now now," Rick said waving a finger. "We do not count a man's years until he has nothing else to count."
Betty smiled. "Emerson."
Kim wasn't sure where she was supposed to be here, after all the ruckus that had been going on recently, she had to see. There was a connection, something drawing her in, and right now, how she felt, she needed every connection she had to feel alive again.
She wheeled along the hospital corridors silently. She had heard from an orderly about the 'event' the previous night, and only in passing found out who it was. What strange and bizarre coincidence that they'd be placed on the same floor in the same hospital. Kim wondered if it was fate.
Or perhaps Global Justice messing with her again.
Kim found the room easily, there was no reason to put it behind locked doors, nobody knew she was here except for a handful of people and the doctors and nurses who didn't know who she was. Kim figured after last night, however, that it would end up in the news eventually.
Kim pushed open the door and awkwardly wheeled herself in, shutting the door behind her. In the room was a single bed with an eldery woman lying here, her long hair combed delicately to the side, her pillows fluffed and sheets straightened. Only the soft sound of the EKG meter filled the silence. Kim wheeled up to the chart which said only 'SHEGO.' Nothing more, nothing less.
Kim smiled sadly, and moved to the edge of the bed and looked, shocked at what she saw. The normally pale, but vibrant Shego had become soft, and dull. Her face was drawn in place, not along the edges of the mouth or the sides of the eyes, where laughed takes its toll, but across the brow and nose, and beneath the eyes, where her constant scowl left its mark.
Kim reached up and felt Shego's hair, letting her hand brush across the former thief's cheek. It felt cold to the touch. Not dead cold, but, as if a heat or fire that had always burned within her was suddenly extinguished. Even the room felt slightly chilled to Kim as she pulled a loosely knit shawl around her shoulders.
"Hey," she said to the silent Shego. There was no response and none was expected.
"It's okay," Kim continued. "I don't think we'd have much to talk about even if you were awake."
She tried to think of something to say and fell silent.
"Don't you think I forgive you," Kim said suddenly before she knew what she was doing. "For taking that Mantle after we worked so hard to get it." Kim opened her mouth to continue but it felt wrong. "This still shouldn't have happened to you though. I really don't know what's going on anymore."
Kim sighed. "Ron left. I know you really don't care, but I'm telling you anyway. For once, you can't interrupt me with your sarcastic remarks! Anyway, he, uh, thinks he's a burden, so we went to toughen up. He shouldn't have. I really need him right now."
Kim looked up. "How about you? I don't suppose you get many visitors. Team Go knows you're evil now, so I don't imagine they write much. Who else is there? Drakken? Still in GJ jail I assume. Could be anywhere I guess. So, all you get is me. Tough deal, huh?"
"I've had visitors, but, I really don't want them right now. I feel... useless. I say I can do anything, well, apparently I can also chase away the closest person in my life as well. I guess you had to leave your family when you realized you weren't... good. That must have been rough too."
Kim paused but couldn't think of anything more to say. She sighed, and started to wheel back towards the door.
The hair on the back of Kim's neck suddenly stood on end and she felt a chill just as she reached the knob and she stopped to cover herself, shivering slightly. "Ugh," she said. "It's cold, huh?"
Kim looked back at Shego's form, lying still, under a simple sheet. Kim frowned. She turned and wheeled back to the bed, grabbed the heavier blanket and pulled it on top of the aged criminal. "That's better, right?" Kim half-smiled, then sighed again.
"I've got a book," Kim offered. "I can, read a bit of it, if you like?"
Pulling out the rich tome, Kim opened to the page she was reading and started to speak aloud. The words were simple, but there was a warmth behind them. Caring. Each syllable she vocalized seemed to bring warmth back into the room where there had only been surgical coldness before.
Closer than Kim could ever suspect, Shego's disembodied form lay ethereally beside the wheelchair. She wasn't sure exactly what had happened, but suddenly the cold depression that had fallen on her since putting on the Mantle lifted. Shego couldn't touch, or feel, or interact, or speak to anyone. But for some reason, Kim, reading a simple book, felt warm. She clung to her nemesis for dear life and prayed for the first time ever, that Kim would never leave.