Author's Note: Surprise! Chapter four of Endless Wisdom. This is for those who wrote in, encouraging me on for one more chapter. You know who you are.
Warning: This chapter is not quite as fluffy as my others. You've been warned.
The machete mercilessly cut away at the jungle brush in its path, the woman in the lead wielding it with quite frightening precision and skill. The two men following her both silently agreed that it would be best to not give her opportunity to test her prowess with it on them.
"How much further?" She shot back, wiping the sweat off her forehead.
"Well, if this simpleton's map is to be trusted," the second man shot a distrusting glance back at the third "it should be no more than a hundred yards or so ahead."
"Hey!" The third shot back. "I went to the ends of the earth and paid good money for that I'll have you know."
"You got it off of eBid from some punk kid." The woman reminded snidely. "And he ripped you off."
"So his price was a little high." The third admitted defensively. "Our resident expert here has already confirmed it's genuine."
"Just because I've confirmed its authenticity doesn't mean I believe that you're actually going to find a weapon of massive destructive power hidden among the ruins your little map leads to." The second reminded.
"Oh yeah." The woman began. "You'll track down the first stone scratches that you think has anything to do with mystic monkey power" the woman had to force the words out of her mouth "but it's waaay too much of a stretch to believe in a mystical super weapon."
"Frankly Shego, I find it hard to believe that you accept this weapon's existence." Monkey Fist pointed back to Drakken's panting, gasping, sweating figure. "Him, I can accept. But you, surely…"
"Dr. D's check cleared. That's all I care about." Shego replied simply.
"Glad to hear it Shego, because between your pay check and that map, the evil lair might have to cut back on its heating bill for the next month." Drakken wiped the sweat from his neck as he sat down on a nearby tree stump. "Ok, I need to rest."
"This inane campaign was your idea and of all of us, the one who has hampered its progression most with their constant demands for rest is you!" Monkey Fist reminded in a heated temper, pun definitely intended. The climate of the rainforest was enough, even for him, but having to work with such… amateurs… it was almost enough to drive the noble lord mad all over again.
"Look, I don't do field work." Drakken protested.
"Yeah, I'll vouch for that." Shego interjected.
"I'm a mad scientist. I do brilliant lab work."
"Hmm, can't vouch for that."
"If you don't get moving this instant," Monkey Fist hissed through his lips and gritted teeth "I will personally carry you… by your hair, through the tree line!"
Drakken let out a pitiful gulp as he hurriedly stood up. "So, a hundred yards in that direction right? Let's go, what are we standing around for?" He asked anxiously.
It was sometime later as the trio continued to cut a swath through the jungle cover that they finally reached their destination.
"The city of Simril!" Monkey Fist stated in awe. As a former noted archeologist and historian, the accomplishment of finding the city of a lost civilization was not entirely lost upon him as he admitted in a soft voice "I must confess, I never thought I'd see it with my own eyes."
"Ok. Whoopee." Shego found herself easily containing her enthusiasm. "Why do we care about this again?"
"The Simrilian culture was among the first to use clay and stone in their buildings and architecture." Monkey Fist began even as he led the trio towards the ruins. The city itself seemed centered around a massive stone temple with various marking and decorations around it. The temple itself looked as if it had been hit by a bomb. What appeared to have once been several large stone statues standing around the temple each appeared to have been reduced to spare rubble. In fact, to even look at the temple, one would expect the structure to be mere seconds from collapsing upon itself. "In fact, at their peak, their civilization may have well stretched across half the rain forest."
"More importantly," Drakken interrupted with anticipation "according to legend, when the Simrilians had finished conquering their enemies after a series of long, bloody wars, their god of destruction and devastation sent to them, as a blessing for their victory, a mystical weapon. A war hammer capable of devastating anything within its path. Supposedly, one strike from this hammer could crack continents and reduce mountain ranges to mere rubble."
"So, why do you care?" Shego asked even as she disgustedly swatted a hideous insect from her shoulder. It was official; this was the last time she did jungle work.
"Isn't it obvious?" Drakken shouted incredulously. "No one knows what happened to the Simrilian people. They appear to have been wiped out. One year, they're on top of the world, and the next day… poof!" Drakken motioned with his hands. "Gone, without a trace! Don't you see? They were annihilated by their own weapon!"
"Or a natural catastrophe" Monkey Fist speculated.
"Or maybe they just left." Shego prompted sarcastically.
"Or perhaps there god killed them." Monkey Fist observed with the same tone as Shego.
"ENOUGH!" Drakken was getting tired of being ridiculed. Not that he wasn't used to it, but the heat and humidity just wasn't helping his mood. "They were wiped out by the hammer, and it's here. I know it is. And once it's mine, the world will bow to me. Dr. Drakken!"
"And me." Monkey Fist reminded.
"What are you talking about?" Drakken shot back, slightly upset at having been interrupted at the climax of his triumphant monologue.
"We are equal partners in this after all." Monkey Fist reminded with very clear undertones.
"Oh please. You're just the guide." Drakken dismissed.
"Lord Montgomery Fiske is no one's guide." Monkey Fist eyed the blue skinned scientists squarely, his voice a razor's edge. "And were it not for me, you two would be back stroking down the Amazon River at this very moment."
"Oh please. If it weren't for my map, we wouldn't have found this place and you'd still be sitting in your little dust ridden castle obsessing over a bunch of monkey heads!"
Shego merely thrust her machete into the dirt, dropping her pack to the ground as she sat down on a nearby log, all the while the shouting continued. She had decided it was best to let the two of them kill each other while she reapplied her bug spray.
As she did, she was unaware that her party was being watched by a pair of very ancient eyes.
On an island within a chain of islands off the coast of Greece, on the top of a cliff overlooking the whole of the island there is a temple. Unlike the other temples among the islands, built in monument to gods long dead or mostly abandoned by the modern world, no one is quite sure which one this temple is built to. Many of the tours that pass through and by the island usually pretend to overlook the temple. A few will admit the temple's simple, lost mystery and the rest concoct some half baked story to satisfy the tourists.
The temple in question is a very simple structure. A large building with no rooms, just the main central chamber. The chamber is empty, decorated only with six portraits, three on the opposite walls to the sides of the entrance. The portraits are of family members. Besides each one is a symbol, a sigil for each of the family.
The rusty doors to the temple swung open, admitting a large, red haired man in a plain green shirt and blue pants. A great anxiousness filled him as he looked around. It had literally been ages since he had been here. He had closed down his realm over three thousand years ago, yet he felt it appropriate to leave this shrine here undisturbed.
The man felt a twinge of hesitation as he reached for the ankh beside the second portrait of a lady elegantly dressed in black. After all this time, after all those years when he had asked his family not to seek him out, he was now about to turn to them.
It was a difficult choice to make, but he saw no other alternative as he held the ankh out before the picture.
"Sister, I stand in my gallery and hold your sigil in hand. It is I, Destruction, who calls upon you. Please come to me." He announced in an authoritative tone.
"Well, well. Will wonders never cease?" The portrait spoke back, even as the young woman with the ankh around her neck stepped out of the canvas to stand before him. "You go for thousands of years and then all of the sudden, from out of the blue, who decides to pick up and give you a call?" She asked with a faint smile.
"My apologies sister." Destruction paused for a moment before amending, remembering precisely to whom he was speaking. "Uhh… I mean sorry sis. It's been a while and… well. I didn't know how else to ask."
"Yes, yes it has." Death answered in a soft reserved tone. "So, what's up?"
Destruction expertly masked a disheartenment that threatened to decorate his face at his sister's tone of voice as he explained his delicate situation. Death listened patiently the entire time with an expression that would have absolutely killed in Vegas, pun not intended.
"I see." Death replied simply, her voice and expressions painfully neutral as she listened to Destruction finish with his story. "So what do you expect me to do about it?"
"Sis, please don't be like that." Destruction softened, pleading with her for some sign of sympathy. "You and I have stood together a billion, billion times and more. On the grounds of sieges, in the wakes of catastrophes both artificial and natural, at least from the mortal's perspective. We have shared horrors that many mortals would be happier imagining never occur. You know what's at stake here."
"Emphasize the past tense, brother." Death's words caused Destruction to stiffen as she spoke. He could not remember the last time she had spoken like this to him. "You left remember?"
There was a soft pause as Destruction's mind drifted back to the family meeting. The last time all seven of the Endless were gathered together in the same place at the same moment. The banquet hall of Destiny. The six gathered in anticipation as Destruction plainly and calmly announced his intentions to leave. To abandon his realm and his duties and to request that none of his family ever seek him out. Death had been very silent the whole time.
"You never protested." He replied carefully.
"If I'd thought it would have done any good, I would have. Unfortunately, you're every bit as pig headed and stubborn as Dream." Death crossed her arms at this.
"Then I'd say I'm in fine company." Destruction offered in an attempt to elevate the mood. Death's expression never once cracked.
"It was just so easy for you too, wasn't it?" Death continued, her voice rising in volume as she spoke. "One day you decide you don't want to be responsible for the destruction any more so you just… up and leave. Poof. Just like that. You put yourself on the cosmic 'Do Not Call' list and then leave. Just disappear from the rest of us."
"You could do the same." Destruction offered, still very mindful of his tone of voice. "The worlds do not exist because of the Endless, we exist because of them. We're ideas, concepts, patterns in reality. If we die, another assumes our position. So I took my sigil with me, and I left the destruction of the world to itself. Nothing's stopping you from doing it yourself if you want."
"Maybe I don't want to." Death snapped back. "Maybe I happen to think that my job needs to be done."
"Please sis." Destruction took a tentative step forwards. "I know it's hard for you from time to time. To be at the beckon call of every murderer and killer, of every disease and disaster. You care about them sis. You care, and that's what makes it so hard to take them from their loved ones, from their dreams and hopes."
"Maybe that's why I do it!" Death snapped back. "Maybe I want to be there. Maybe I want someone to be there with them."
"And is that how you feel about me? That I should be there? That it really makes a difference if it becomes my responsibility instead of theirs?" Destruction's voice never rose once. There was no need for it to do so. This discussion would quickly reach its inevitable conclusion.
"Maybe it does." She then added in an almost inaudible whisper, her eyes turning away from him. "Maybe it makes a difference to us."
Destruction relented as he approached his sister, his arms settling on her shoulders. "I do still miss you. All of you."
Death chuckled as she looked back up into the face of her brother. "I suppose next you're going to tell me I still look pretty."
"Would it help?" Destruction asked hopefully.
Death merely giggled, finally giving in as threw her arms around her brother's shoulder, the two family embracing one another tightly. "I missed you."
"I missed you too." Destruction assured softly. "I know you still care about them. I know you're not going to just let my mistake come back to haunt them again."
Death's eyes narrowed on her brother with sharp scrutiny. "If you're even thinking of asking what I think your thinking of asking I will give you a big hug, say 'thanks for calling' and never speak to you again."
"Sis, that hammer is my responsibility. The last time it was used, it wiped out an entire people. I wiped out an entire people, and for trying to help them. That can't happen again."
"Well I'm not doing anything about it and neither are you. You know it's bad news for us to get directly involved with them. If we start interfering, then there goes the universe."
"You almost sound like our brother." Destruction quipped with an amused look on his face.
"I'm being serious." Death leveled her eyes at him.
"Like you've never broken your own rules before?" Destruction cast a probative glance at his oldest sister. As he did, a slight, almost imperceptible smirk may have cracked her hardened features.
"Maybe." She replied softly.
"Then help me." Death had never seen such sincere desperation on his face before. Yet she knew she had to remain firm.
"Not that way."
"Then another way." He offered.
For a moment, Death was silenced as she gave the matter some thought. "Well, I might know of one other way. Someone I know you could call for help…"
"… and therefore, because of his compassion, courage, and tolerance and respect for all races and genders, the Fearless Ferret was perhaps the unsurpassable hero of his era. Thank you."
A tiny set of pink paws clapped and cheered from his desk, giving a standing ovation as Ron Stoppable finished presenting his report for the class. Most of the class had lost interest, occasionally shooting glances of disbelief and incredulousness back and forth, divided between Ron Stoppable and his girlfriend Kim Possible.
Kim didn't pay them one bit of mind. She had no reason to. Ron had done his assignment, and what was more, he had actually done it rather well. His choice of topic may have been a little unorthodox, but using the Fearless Ferret as a means of commenting on pop culture in recent American history did fall under Barkin's requirements of an oral presentation. The fact was that once Kim had helped Ron find a topic he could appreciate, his enthusiasm for the assignment had skyrocketed, along with the quality of the work.
Frankly, Kim Possible had never been more proud of Ron for as long as she could remember, and that was saying quite a lot.
"Thank you Stoppable for that admittedly thorough presentation." Ron couldn't resist sharing a surprised glance with Kim. That was the closest Steve Barkin had ever come to actually paying Ron a compliment in front of the entire class.
Monique cast a disinterested glance between the platter before her and the pair across from her. She had been hoping to catch up with her friends, maybe talk to them and find out first hand how they'd been. So far, she wasn't having much luck getting a word in. Finally out of sheer boredom, she looked at the assortion of Mexican delicacies being hastily devoured before her.
"So Rufus, anything new with you?"
The tine pink figure never bothered to look up from its ravagings as it continued to gorge itself on the Bueno Nacho menu arrayed before it, leaving Monique still with no one to talk to as she looked up across the booth at her best friends.
Monique still couldn't help but smile at the sight of her two friends as they remained lip locked, oblivious to all else around them. She was still trying to figure out how they were getting oxygen to keep from passing out.
"So, Kim, Ron, everything going ok?"
No response from the two.
"So anyway, I was wondering if you two knew how much do death rays go for these days?"
The sound of lips smacking was the only thing heard from the other side of the booth.
"I've been thinking a lot about my college placement tests and have decided 'to heck with the whole thing.' So I'm going to be a super villain."
Still no response.
"Yeah, I'm planning to conquer Middleton tomorrow. Then Paris. Gotta look fashionable if I'm going to be ruling the world after all."
"Hmm… forget Paris." Ron replied dreamily as he parted from Kim by precious inches, his eyes half open as he continued to stare at her.
"All the best fashions are in Milan." Kim whispered in the same star struck tone as she maintained her hold on her boyfriend.
Monique couldn't help but to burst out giggling at the sight. "So I take it all is well up there in cloud nine?"
"Oh yeah." Ron answered in the same heaven induced tone.
"Couldn't be better." Kim agreed.
The chime of the Kimmunicator went unheeded as Kim and Ron returned their attentions to one another.
"Uh guys." Monique once again tried to gather their attention, but was once again ignored. When the Kimmunicator finally chimed for the third time, Monique signaled to Rufus to go fetch. The naco filled rodent quickly retrieved the small device from Kim's pocket and brought it to Monique's grasp.
"Guys I… oh, hey Monique." Wade Load's image came through over the screen of the Kimmunicator, a little startled by the unexpected face. "Can I speak to Kim?"
"You're welcome to try." Monique held out the Kimmunicator screen to give Wade a better view of the lip locked couple.
"Oooh man!" Wade recoiled at the sight as Monique brought the Kimmunicator back to her face. "I know there's no such thing as cooties but really. Seriously, how do you guys stand that stuff?"
"Give it a try some time cutie. You might just learn to like it." Monique jested suggestively.
"I'll… keep that in mind." Wade hurried. "Listen, I hate to interrupt them but I just got a hit on the site. I need to talk to Kim. Any chance you happen to have a crow bar on you?"
"Sorry, I left mine at home."
At this, Kim took the small blue device from Monique's grasp, practically glowing as she asked "What's the sitch Wade?"
"Got a hit on the site, this one from South America and… and… could you tell Ron to stop that please?"
What Wade was referring to was Ron's lips dancing up and down the side of Kim's neck as she spoke on the Kimmunicator. "Ron's fine Wade. You mentioned something about South America?"
"Uhh… yeah." Wade tried and failed horribly to restrain his awkwardness. "It looks like Drakken has struck. And he picked up a partner this time. Monkey Fist."
"Monkeys!" Ron's attention immediately turned from Kim's perfect neck to the Kimmunicator. "Why is it always monkeys? Seriously. I mean, of all the things, why monkeys? I never figured that out."
"Our ride?" Kim let out a sigh. It seemed that making out was going to have to wait for later.
"All set. One hypersonic jet on its way, courtesy of some private donator. Apparently he's the one who called it in."
"He? He who?" Ron interjected.
"He goes by the name of Derek Katastrofi."
"So, where are we meeting this guy again?" Ron asked from within the cabin of the jet.
"Apparently, he's meeting us in the rainforest at the drop point. He was the one who saw Drakken and Monkey Fist and decided to meet us in the forest." Kim readied her chute pack.
"And, when he saw two super villains rummaging through the forest, he decided to stick around because…?"
"He thinks that they are after something really serious."
As Ron processed Kim's explanation, he looked over the jungle canopy. At Kim's signal, the pair jumped, free falling through the air before finally pulling, their chutes opening perfectly as they made their way through the canopy.
Kim landed flawlessly on the ground, discarding her pack and removing her helmet.
Ron on the other hand, true to form, caught his chute within the branches of the jungle and was stuck dangling three feet from the ground.
"Aww man. This tanks." Ron's struggles to free himself only seemed to make the matter worse, further entangling his limbs, leaving him to hang helplessly.
"How do you always have problems with that?" Kim asked amused. Not that she relished in the suffering of her poor BF, but there was just something so cute about him in this condition.
"How do you never have problems with that?" Ron indicated to the thick canopy. "And can you help me down please?"
"Ron, if I helped you, then I couldn't get to do this." Kim took Ron by the shirt, pulling his face directly to hers. It was official. Ron was going to have to find a way to get tangled in his chute on every mission from now on.
"Uhh… excuse me."
The voice from the side caught both Kim and Ron off guard. For some reason, the instant Kim turned to see who had spoken was the exact moment that Ron's chute seemed to work itself from the tree branches it had caught on, dropping Ron with a surprised yelp to the hard ground.
"I'm sorry lass. Please forgive me. You must be Kim Possible." The tall, older man in a plain shirt and pants with burning red hair on his head and chin walked over, introducing himself, extending his hand. Off to his side was a small young girl wearing torn gothic clothing, her hair shaved very shortly.
"Hi, and you're Mr. Katastrofi?"
The older man smiled politely. "Please, just call me Derek. And this is my sister, Sarah."
"hI. He, hE SaYS MY nAMe is SaRAh, but it's nOT. I'd TeLL yoU WhaT My name iS, buT it'S A sEcReT." The young girl replied in a distracted tone of voice. As she spoke, she seemed to try to catch at insects that weren't actually there.
Kim looked up at Derek who smiled apologetically. "I'm afraid she's not well. I try to look after her."
"You know, it might be safer then if she waits for us." Kim offered, even as Ron slowly stood back up, finally freeing himself from the last entangled knot of his chute.
"Man, it takes weeks of Bueno Nacho to get the taste of rainforest out of your mouth." Ron spit a small bit of dirt from his lips even as he pulled a grain of grass from between his teeth.
"Oh, Derek, I'd like you to meet my partner, Ron Stoppable." Kim formally introduced.
"Yes, I noticed." Derek replied with a knowing grin. "Hello there young man."
Ron looked up at the older man as he smiled and shook his hand firmly. As he did, Ron was once again disturbed by a sensation of familiarity coming from this complete stranger.
"Uh, hello. How's it going?" Ron tried to conceal his unease behind his usual carefree smile. It wasn't quite the most convincing performance of his life.
"Listen Mr… Derek," Kim amended "I really think your sister would be better waiting for us here."
"I dON't like to WaIT. IT's too bOring. i can hEar mySELF think when I wait. it'S too loud." The soft young girl seemed to look at something that wasn't there as she spoke, prompting spooked looks of concern between Kim and Ron.
"I'll make sure she's ok, I promise." Derek insisted. "We'll stay in the back and let you do your job, but I really should look after her."
Kim just shrugged acceptingly. "Well, lead the way."
Derek motioned a path that lay before them through the jungle, taking the lead as Kim followed after him. As she did, Ron quickly took up the rear, leaving him to struggle with something within his mind. There was something about this… Derek that felt different. For reasons he couldn't explain, whenever Ron looked up at his backside, flashes appeared before his mind's eye. In an instant he saw a great hall, and at the entrance to this hall were seven golden statues looking out over a garden that stretched on for eternity. Of these statues, six faced forward, over looking the garden and one… one had its back turned away with a knapsack over its shoulder.
"I really must thank you for coming so quickly Ms. Possible." Derek insisted. "The fate of the world is at stake."
"No big." Kim assured. "I know these guys, and while they are dangerous, I don't think they'll be able to do much damage to the world from the middle of the rain forest."
"They will if they find the Hammer of Simril." Derek stated surely. Kim had to check twice as they walked, but she seemed positive that he wasn't even sweating in spite of the overwhelming humidity.
"And what, if I already didn't want to know, is the Hammer of Simril?" Ron called up from the rear. Even as he did, he blinked twice, and for a split second, swore that he noticed Sarah's hair nearly triple in length to a full lush head of hair before receding to its short, brief length.
"Long ago, the Simrilian people expanded nearly across the entire rainforest." Derek explained. "But they had many enemies and in conquering those enemies, their society was left devastated. Simrilian myth describes that a great god took pity on them and gave them the hammer to help them rebuild their civilization. Unfortunately, the hammer was… flawed."
"What kind of god builds a messed up hammer?" Ron asked.
"I bUilT a MeSSed UP NaIL once. IT wouldn't Go in aLL tHe way. I had to YeLL really lOUd." Sarah interjected.
There was an awkward silence that didn't seem to affect Derek in the least as he continued to lead on. Kim skipped ahead a few paces to whisper to him. "I don't mean to be rude, but are you sure you're sister is ok?"
"She's… ok." Derek seemed to accept his sister's condition as an unavoidable truth of the world. "We're all hoping she'll get better someday, but until then, I try to look out for her."
"Can I ask what happened to her?" Kim felt uneasy at the question, but curiosity overtook good manners.
"It's a very long story lass. The short version is that the world just up and changed on her."
"So, we're agreed." Drakken announced finally. "I get North America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and you get South America and Australia… on alternate Sundays." Drakken added, hoping that Monkey Fist wouldn't notice.
"We agreed to no such conditions!" The ninja master shouted, getting madder by the second. "And I retain control of Asia as well as Africa, in addition to…"
Monkey Fist was interrupted by a green bolt of plasma as it scorched the ground not three inches to the side of the bickering pair.
"You two haven't even found this hammer thingy nor do you know if it even exists and you're already arguing about how you're going to split the world!" The heat combined with the two shouting non stop had finally pushed Shego well past her limit.
The two stood in uncomfortable silence, silence filled in only with the sound of bugs buzzing around them, for another minute or so. Drakken was the first one to speak.
"You know, she has a point."
"Indeed. Perhaps we would best dispense with negotiations of territory until we have actually located the weapon we seek."
"Then get moving already!" Shego fired another blast at the duo's feet, prompting them both to leap out of the path of fire and straight for the temple.
It was only a matter of minutes, as the trio made their way through the damaged ruins, before they came to the central chamber of the main temple. The room was illuminated only by sun light that poured in from a sky light of sorts over a large alter. At the very center of the alter lay their prize; a five foot long war hammer, decorated in strange ruins that none of the three could translate, nor made any effort too.
"There it is." Drakken's voice took on the tone of a child who'd found his first choice of Christmas presents under the tree. "I knew it existed. The Hammer of Simril!"
"Uh-huh." Shego noted skeptically. "And forgive me for spoiling the mood but exactly how do we know that this is in fact the Hammer thingy and not just a Hammer thingy."
"Shego, please." Drakken pouted. "You're embarrassing me in front of the Hammer." Even as Drakken spoke in a hushed whisper, his fingers seemed to gently caress the artifact as if it was a lost lover.
"You actually work for this imbecile?" Monkey Fist turned to Shego.
"Unfortunately. He's the only one out there who offers dental." Shego explained.
"Yeah, we'll you're going to need a good dentist once we knock all your teeth out!" A high pitched voice exclaimed, causing the three super villains to turn around. Sure enough, two familiar figures in mission gear emerged from the corridor leading into the room.
"Kim Possible!" Drakken and Monkey Fist exclaimed simultaneously.
"And me! Remember, Ron Stoppable, loveable sidekick and occasional distraction." Ron waved attention to himself, slightly disappointed that his clever battle taunt had gone unappreciated.
"Cheap buffoon and petty pretender." Monkey Fist declared.
"Nobody disses the boyfriend!" Kim threatened as she pulled at her sleeves, taking a few intentional steps towards the ninja master.
"Yeah, yeah, I gotta ask, how the heck did you two…" Suddenly, Shego paused as something that she had heard caught her attention. "Wait a minute, did you just say boyfriend?"
"Yes I did." Kim eyed her nemesis squarely.
There was a long, uncomfortable pause as the three villains looked at one another, each in mutual confusion.
"Do you seriously mean to tell us that you… and he" Monkey Fist pointed with unrestrained disdain at Ron "are… dating?"
"Is that a problem Monkey boy?" Ron Stoppable asked angrily. His seething rage didn't once faze the three super villains as they continued to look at each other.
"Seriously?" Drakken asked.
"YES!" They exclaimed in mutual frustration.
Continued silence was exchanged between the three villains as they stared at one another in apparent disbelief. "I didn't see that coming." Drakken finally admitted.
"Nor I." Monkey Fist concurred.
"I'm kinda disappointed to be honest." Shego pointed out.
"What?" Ron replied a split second before Kim.
"Disappointed?" Kim was a second away from tearing Shego to pieces.
"Oh come on, I mean, hero dating the sidekick. That is just so cliché, not to mention unprofessional. I thought you knew better than thaaa…" Second up as Kim bolted across the room, slamming into the pale skinned super villain, knocking her across the room.
"Quickly Drakken, the hammer!" Monkey Fist indicated even as he drew ready for battle while Kim and Shego rolled around across the temple floor, savagely beating at one another.
"Of course!" The mad scientist eagerly turned from the battle back to the prize he had sought. Tiny, greedy fingers settled over the handle of the hammer, the power from the weapon absolutely intoxicating to the touch.
"Grrr! Haaheeeeeee!" Drakken panted and strained as he tried to lift, but the hammer barely flinched a centimeter. "This… thing is… heavier than… it looks!"
Monkey Fist turned in frustration, just out of the corner of his eye noting Kim and Shego leaping through the air in battle before turning his attention to his primary target. Ron Stoppable.
"Well, at least this venture will not have been a complete loss of time and effort. I do, after all, get to dispose of the pretender and false heir to my throne." Monkey Fist leapt into the air in a perfect flip, landing a few feet in front of Ron.
"Whyaah!" Ron cried as he drew a poorly composed battle stance of his own. "Come on then, let's spank the monk…"
Ron was cut off as a kick to the chest knocked him back into the temple wall, causing him to hit hard before falling to the ground in a dull moan.
"I think… perhaps someone misunderstands the concept of spanking the whoa!" Ron was again cut off as a fist clenched at the rough of his shirt and pulled him up.
Kim continued her acrobatic dance across the room as searing plasma bolt after bolt chased after her with frightening precision. Kim landed just in time to duck another shot that barely singed her hair, before leaping forward with a spin kick to knock Shego back.
"Oh man, I'm going to need forever to get these split ends out." Kim sighed at the singed condition of her beautiful hair.
"Split ends will be the least of your concerns Kim Possible," Drakken announced triumphantly "just… as soon as I… can get this stupid…" Drakken continued to tug and heave at the hammer, finally managing to pull it off of the alter it had been poised on. But Drakken's feeble arms lacked the power to carry it and the hammer's end instead fell to the ground.
As soon as it made contact, a powerful and visible shockwave emerged from the point of impacting, flying outward and knocking both Kim and Shego into the temple wall even as it knocked out a large portion of the wall behind them, sending them both flying right through and into free fall.
"KP!" Ron cried out as he ducked another punch from Monkey Fist. With hurried panic, Ron quickly caught a kick from the ninja master between his arms before lifting up and throwing the monkey man into the side of the wall. Abruptly ignoring his fallen foe, Ron ran over to the hole in the side of the wall, arriving just as a grapple hook shot up and settled itself on the side of the gaping hole.
Ron looked down in time to see a familiar mane of crimson pull itself up and back into the room.
"KP! You're ok!" Ron cried out even as he helped her back inside.
"Neither of you will be for long!" Drakken insisted even as he pulled the hammer up high for a second strike. "Because this time, I'm really going to let it sw… swin…SWING!" As he raised the hammer over his head, Drakken once again felt himself caught off guard by the hammer's weight as he lost balance, falling backward as the hammer fell on to the temple floor once again.
Once again, a massive shock wave emanated, this time shooting backwards, knocking a stirring Monkey Fist back into the wall and causing the whole of the temple to shake. And rumble. And quake.
"Is that supposed to do that? I really don't think that that's supposed to do that."
True to Ron Stoppable's predictions, the temple was not supposed to be falling apart, but the combination of age and its accompanying decay combined with the force of the hammer's power had already upset the temple's delicate state, and sent the structure to slowly collapse around them.
Chunks of rock and debris seemed to rain down all around them as the temple room suddenly became a death trap. Drakken quickly evaluated his options and considered his choices.
"Ehh, I think I'll just stick with homemade doomsday weapons from now on." Leaving the hammer where it had come to rest, Drakken quickly hurried across the room and straight for the corridor that he had come from, in the process running right past the man known as Derek who, apparently oblivious to the crumbling structure all around him, moved for the inert hammer lying on the temple floor.
"Quick Ron, I'll grab Derek, you grab Monkey Fist!"
"What?" Ron tried to protest but it was no use as Kim had already taken off, leaving Ron to grumble in frustration. "Stupid, no good, always having to do the right thing…"
Kim tried to dance past the falling rubble, having some difficulty as she just barely managed to avoid a massive cinderblock landing a precious inch in front of her path. Derek on the other hand, seemed to have no problem whatsoever.
In fact, he really didn't seem to have any problems. He walked in a strangely elaborate series of twists and turns, taking an awkward path across the room that seemed to steer him clear of rubble and debris as it fell around him. It seemed as if he had already traced out his steps across the room in such a manner as to avoid even the sparest falling pebble.
Kim tried to call out but her voice seemed to go unheeded as Derek knelt down, lifting the hammer with one hand, and staring at it long and purposefully. What happened next happened too fast to appreciate, but as the rubble and dust continued to fall all around her, admittedly obscuring her view by a considerable degree, Kim Possible could have sworn she saw the hammer seemingly crumble to pieces and virtually disintegrate within Derek's hands.
Ron Stoppable took no notice of this as he grabbed the stunned Monkey Fist, lifting him up and hurling him roughly over his shoulder. "I hope you remember this Monkey. I know I'm going to try and forget this ever happened. KP, come on."
Kim Possible tried to focus on the figure of Derek but he no longer seemed to be there. Kim wanted to try and see if he had perhaps fallen or been injured, but there was no time. Against her instincts, she followed Ron's lead out of the room as falling boulders seemed to chase them the whole way out.
Kim and Ron made their way through the corridors and out of the front entrance to the temple just as it collapsed behind them. As they stopped for a moment to catch their breath, Ron took no concern as he casually dropped Monkey Fist to the jungle floor.
"Kim, you know I love you, right?" Ron asked delicately.
"Uh, yeah." Kim answered slightly uncomfortably.
"I'd do anything for you, you know that." He reaffirmed.
"I know." Kim still wasn't sure where this was going.
"Well, then I don't want you to take this wrong, but next time, I don't care what the stakes are, you are rescuing Monkey Fist." Ron answered flatly as he kicked slightly at the unconscious ninja master at his feet.
Kim just smiled at her boyfriend for a second before suddenly remembering something that her previously panicked mind had overlooked. "Oh my god Ron, Derek was in there and the whole place fell on him and I couldn't see him and…"
"Relax lass." A familiar voice announced from behind. The two teen heroes spun around in time to see the tall man standing, apparently unfazed, before them. "I'm all right."
"How did you get out of there?" Kim couldn't hide her shock at his miraculous escape. She hadn't seen him following them out, and she was sure that there hadn't been any other way out of that room.
"I just took another way out. There's always more than one way from one place to another." His cryptic answer didn't satisfy Kim in the least, causing her to wonder if the affliction that had affected Derek's sister was hereditary or a common malady within their family.
"Was the hammer…? I mean I didn't see it…" Kim tried to figure out how to ask whether or not she had just really seen him disintegrate it within his hand.
"It's gone." He assured, even as he took Kim's hand in his own, shaking. "I can't thank you enough Team Possible for your help."
"Oh, it was no big." Kim replied, a little less than satisfied by some of the questions she had that still went unanswered.
"I assure you, it was." He turned to Ron, shaking his hand as well. "Thank you as well young man. I can see my sister was right about you."
"Huh." For a second, Ron looked at the older man in confusion before comprehension finally dawned on him, his eyes opening wide as he let out a hushed whisper. "No way."
"Well thanks again." Derek turned to walk away when Kim suddenly caught him.
"Wait a minute, what about your sister? Where is she?"
"Oooh." Shego let out a low moan as the world around swirled and spun before her eyes as they slowly opened themselves.
"hEllO." An innocent voice spoke from the side, quickly catching Shego's attention. The green clad villainess focused on a young girl with long flowing hair that was a myriad of different colors as she looked down on her. "yOU FEll. i SAW yoU."
"Ok. Thanks kid." Shego replied as she rose unsteadily to her feet. "Anyone ever tell you you're CD is skipping. Might want to get that looked at."
The young girl didn't seem to hear Shego. "I fell ONce. i FlaPPed real haRd, but I couldn'T FLY."
"Riiight." Shego just gave the girl a bewildered glance before looking around. Evaluating her options, she decided that it simply wouldn't do to try and hike through who knew how many miles of rain forest without a little insurance in case the princess caught up with her. "Come on, you're coming with me."
"i DON't want to LEAve. i'M exPECTing my BROther. He takes cARe of me."
"Well, he's just going to have to go without. Come on." Shego was in a foul enough of a mood without listening to some nutcase's family history. Grabbing the girl roughly, she forced her along, until the girl brought her feet to a halt, stopping Shego in the process.
"You're mean! I dON't liKe you. Snakes. ThEre are sNaKes EveRywHere."
Shego never really seemed to hear the little girl's words. She was too distracted by the ground as it seemed to slither and churn with an unending number of slimy serpents that crawled towards her, causing her to cry out in panic as she burned with her powers in a futile attempt to keep them back.
Author's Note: Ok, people. That makes all seven of the Endless to one degree or another. I think that officially makes this the final chapter. I hope you all enjoyed this little story of mine.
If any of you even slightly enjoyed this story and/or the Endless, I would highly urge you to catch Neil Gaiman's Sandman series. It is nothing short of utterly brilliant.