The Uncanny Valley
By Ninnik Nishukan
Summary: The Uncanny Valley is a hypothesis about robotics concerning the emotional response of humans to robots and other non-human entities. A younger Dr. Drakken and his newly-hired assistant Shego experience the effect of it first-hand. Pre-series Drakken and Shego friendship. No romance, but plenty of Drakken and Shego interaction.
Epilogue: Kim Possible Time
Dr. Drakken had barely had time to brood and stew over his recent failure for a few hours before the window and the back wall of his prison cell was blown away.
Squeaking with shock, he threw himself to the floor.
When the dust cleared and he dared to look up, he discovered his sidekick standing in the hover car right outside, both her long, dark hair and the green plasma that surrounded her hands fluttering in the wind; the plasma giving her face an eerie glow.
He blinked at her pose and her cool, calm smirk; she was really developing that good old villain flare for the dramatic. To anybody else, what with her hands lit up like that, it would have looked like she'd simply blasted through the wall like a kid would punch through a wet paper bag.
He knew better, though; after having had Shego for an inmate, most prisons had started making her and his cells plasma proof. Judging by the sound and size of the explosion, the training he'd given her on explosives last year had really paid off. She was nothing if not an extremely fast learner, and it had turned out that she'd known the basics already.
"Hello, Doc," she said brightly. "My little vacation is over and I wanna get back to work. What say we get outta here?"
His eyes lit up. "Shego?"
Her chin tilted up in challenge. "Expecting anybody else? Your darling Bebes, perhaps?"
His expression went dark. "No." He mumbled, getting up from the floor and dusting himself off. "No, not them."
She raised an eyebrow, but shrugged. "Let's go."
"Right." He nodded firmly and scrambled out of the broken cell and into the hover car. There was no time for idle chit chat.
When they'd put some miles between themselves and the resulting spotlights, sirens, barking dogs and yelling guards, Drakken turned his attention to his sidekick, absentmindedly studying her profile.
It wasn't the first time she'd broken him out of jail— they'd been sent to jail at least twice since that bothersome cheerleader had arrived on the scene— but it was the first time she'd come to break him out just for his sake, and not because she was also incarcerated and needed to get out as well, which was why he'd been a little surprised at seeing her.
"Thank you, Shego," He said, nodding. "Good job."
Shego glanced at him, one eyebrow cocked. "Talk is cheap, Dr. D. I expect more than a 'thank you' for helping you out at my own personal risk like this."
He frowned, about to lecture her, but reconsidered, sighing. It would only be ineffectual…and besides, she sort of had a point. "Oh, and what does Her Highness want? I hope it's not a raise, because—"
"I want my own hover car." She replied as she calmly maneuvered them past their Caribbean lair's neighboring islands.
Drakken opened his mouth to speak, but she beat him to it.
"A stylish one, not this flying toaster. I want it black, green and sleek." She told him matter-of-factly.
"What's wrong with—" He began, but stopped when he saw the look she sent him. "Fine. Fine, I'll…what do the teens call it? I'll 'pimp your ride', as it were," He said with disdain, making inverted commas with his fingers.
"Good." She said almost cheerfully, a smile tugging at one side of her mouth. "Hey, Sport," she grinned, nudging him with her elbow, "it's great to be back. Vacation was getting kinda boring at the end there."
Yes, without anybody to bother, right? Drakken rolled his eyes.
Oh well…at least she hadn't asked for a raise.
"So…not that I'm dying to be ranted at, but…what happened with your little vendetta, Dr. D?" Shego asked in a casual tone as she strolled into the lab, idly peeling off her gloves as she went.
"Nnnnghhh! Don't even ask!" Drakken moaned as he followed her, but she could still tell he was itching to vent about it.
She sighed, dropping into the couch and dropping her gloves on the coffee table. "What happened? Had all of your so-called 'posse' turned into super heroes or something?"
"KIM! POSSIBLE!" Drakken roared, actually shaking his fist. Shego sighed again. "Kim Possible happened! She's actually the daughter of a guy I went to college with! Can you believe it?"
Shego sent him a puzzled look. "Huh? Who?"
"James T. Possible!" Drakken announced, like it was some ancient, eldritch curse. Pausing, he felt strangely disappointed when there was no gasp from Shego and no dramatic crash of thunder and lightning when he mentioned the dreadful name.
"Well, uh…the last name should've probably been a clue." Shego commented dryly.
"Hey! How was I supposed to know?" Drakken demanded.
"It's not exactly a common name." She pointed out.
He gaped at her, looking betrayed. "Not you, too!"
Shego decided it was time to get on with the story before she lost her patience. "So, what happened?"
Drakken winced. "Um…"
Shego sighed and leaned back. "Look, Doc, this is a golden opportunity for you here." She informed him with a hint of a wry smile on her lips. "For once, I'm actually getting interested in what you have to say…so spill!"
Drakken's eyes narrowed and his lips pursed so much at her comment that he dimly resembled a highly offended old witch from some cartoon. "Very funny, Shego! Look, just forget it, you don't want to know—"
Shego sat up again, subjecting him to a pouty glare. "Hey, after I busted you out of prison, the least you can do is tell me how you ended up there in the first place!"
Drakken scowled. "I thought I was already designing a new hover car for you!"
"Aww, come on…!" Shego cajoled impatiently.
Groaning, he finally gave in. "Gah! They turned on me, okay? The Bebes turned on me!"
"Well…I'd hate to say I told you so, but—" She paused, looking theatrically pensive. "Oooh, you know what? Actually, I'd love to!" She whooped, grinning shamelessly. "I told you so, Dr. D! But would you listen? Of course not, you just—"
"Oh, nice!" Drakken snapped. "Just rub it in, will you?"
She'd been right— his sidekick had been right, and it was chafing his evil scientist ego something fierce.
Shego had been right. Well, not really back then…because back then, there had been no real unstable factors; what had happened had happened not because the robots had 'rebelled', but because he'd neglected to add Shego to their Friendly Files…but in the end, they'd become exactly what Shego had feared they would become because he'd been— he refused to even think the words 'arrogant' or 'stupid'— reckless enough to add that 'pinch of human emotion'.
That had been his biggest mistake.
The worst thing about it was, that all the while when he'd been developing their ability to feel, there had been some kind of niggling doubt in the back of his mind…and it wasn't until after that terrible moment when his own creations had turned against him that he'd realized that he'd unconsciously been remembering the sight of Shego, wide-eyed, choking and struggling, her legs kicking in the air as she was being held up from the floor by her neck by Bebe-1.
That had just been a machine carrying out the directives that had been programmed into its system, however. That hadn't been a machine making a…a human-like decision to rebel.
The next time he created drones for himself— clones, androids, whatever— he'd be more careful. Plan it better. Make them more stable. Less unpredictable; that was, not unpredictable to their master...just his enemies.
He'd just have to find the perfect balance between obedience and artificial intelligence with free will and the power to adapt, and the Bebes had clearly been a dead end. He was tired of trying to improve on them; it was time to try something different.
"Why'd they turn on you, anyway?" Shego went on, interrupting his thoughts. "Short circuit?" She suggested flippantly.
"They decided they were too perfect to be ruled by someone as imperfect as me." His tone was bitter. "The nerve of them!"
"Yeesh, I didn't know robots could be arrogant." Shego grimaced. "Sounds like you made those metal Barbies a little too human."
"You don't say." He retorted sourly.
"So…what?" She went on, waving a hand to make him elaborate. "Did they just take off then or what? Elope with the microwave?"
Drakken scowled at her jokes before cringing as he recalled what had happened. "Er…no…they still tried to kill Kim Possible since they saw her as a threat."
"And?" She prompted.
"And, uh…she sort of…blew them up." He admitted reluctantly.
Her eyes wide, she rose from the couch. "Sh— what? She destroyed them? The prissy little cheerleader did that to a bunch of new and improved killer robots?"
Even though Drakken had kept the robots from her while he'd been redesigning and rebuilding them, like he'd promised he would, she hadn't been able to resist when he'd finally finished them and had asked her if she wanted a demonstration. She hadn't particularly wanted to see the robots again, but she felt like she would have to know what their new abilities were just in case she ever found herself facing them in an out of control situation once more.
And they had certainly been…different. Stronger. More independent. Faster. Really faster. When they moved at top speed, in fact…she hadn't even been able to see them. More than ever, the robots had brought a chill to her spine and had shoved her helplessly into The Uncanny Valley with the ease of a dump truck tipping garbage into a hole.
And if Kim Possible had defeated them, how could she hope to ever defeat the smug little brat again?
"Don't remind me." Drakken grunted. "Beaten by a cheerleader in front of my old posse-- it was embarrassing!"
"Well— well, she had to have had some help, right?" She demanded, staring at him with incredulity. "I mean, she didn't just— just kung fu them to bits, right?"
Drakken frowned; what was she getting so upset for? "Uh, no…um, I mean, her father— I still can't believe they're related— and her little computer boy used her, uh, beeper phone thingamabob to create a sonic disturbance. That really slowed the Bebes down. They were only working at half of their full capacity, I think. I mean, they weren't even blurring anymore—"
Shego cleared her throat loudly. "Good! That's…er, that's good. So she hasn't suddenly turned into Super Girl over night."
Drakken didn't see what there was to be relieved about. "Still…she destroyed my robots!"
Yeah…she did. Shego thought, frowning. "Doc…" She frowned even harder when a new thought occurred to her, focusing a stern, appraising stare on him. "Don't tell me you're still gonna build new ones?"
Drakken shook his head, huffing. "What's the use? I've had enough of them!"
"Great," Shego muttered under her breath, "or I might've had to hurt you."
Drakken glared suspiciously at her, but let it go.
Exhaling slowly, Shego ran a hand through her hair and shrugged her shoulders, as if trying to shrug off the moment and move on. "Well, anyway…chin up, Doc!" She began briskly. "You're out of jail, with new chances to do evil! And hey, here's a bonus— since the guy you want revenge over is the father of your arch foe, getting rid of her would kinda kill two birds with one stone, right? Revenge and pest control!"
Surprised, Drakken considered her and her words for a moment before finally nodding. "You know, Shego, you've turned out to be a pretty good sidekick!" He declared, grinning. "Why, you're worth a…a dozen of those stupid Bebes!"
Shego shot him a sour look. "Gee, Doc, is a human being worth more than a robot? Really?"
Drakken ignored the comment and went on smoothly. "Maybe having super-powered humans as henchpersons is the way to go instead of robots. I mean, one flaw in their systems and you never know what might happen…!"
Shego shook her head. "Hah, yeah, good to see you've learned your lesson there at least…!"
"It's really too bad there aren't more of you, Shego." Drakken mused, rubbing his chin.
"Well, what can I say?" Shego smirked, tossing her hair. "I'm one of a kind, Doc."
"Hmmm…but maybe you don't have to be…" Drakken nodded vaguely as he let his thoughts wander; he could practically feel the gears shifting in his brain as an ingenious new idea began to take shape.
Shego gawked at him for a second; then the shocked expression turned into a scowl. "Oh, no— no way!"
"What?" Drakken looked up, baffled as his train of thought was derailed.
"I know that look in your eye!" Shego accused, pointing an angry finger at his face. "It means 'wacked-out mad scientist plot number gazillion and one forming even as we speak'!"
"Who? Me?" He asked, voice becoming sweet and eyes big and innocent; he knew he probably wouldn't even fool her for a second, but he had to try. If he could get her to agree to this one, they would win for certain!
She stomped her foot with an air of finality. "There is no way I'm letting you clone me!"
Oh, doodles. Caught. He groaned; there was just no getting anything past this woman. "How did you know?"
"Because I know how your mind works, weirdo!" Shego barked, stalking over to the couch again and plopping down into it.
Drakken could tell that as far as she was concerned, the conversation was over— too bad for her that he never gave up that easily!
"Come on, Shego!" Drakken whined, leaning over the arm rest and tugging on her wrist pleadingly. "That Possible girl is really getting to be a pain! We could use all the help we can get at this point!"
"I said NO!" Shego huffed. "And I can take care of the cheerleader myself! Just give me another chance and you'll see!" Shego wasn't so sure; the fact that Possible had managed to defeat the new and improved Bebes had been a blow to her ego…but she wasn't about to admit that. Possible wasn't better than her. She was just…lucky. She had techno savvy friends and she was lucky.
"But all I need is a tiiiny liiiitle strand of hair…or maybe an eyelash or a skin flake…?" Drakken wheedled, edging closer to her.
Shego's nose wrinkled as she practically leapt up from the couch and away from him. "Eww! Keep your mitts off of my— my skin flakes!"
"But— but it's so easy!" Drakken objected, trying to sound reasonable. "I already have a cloning machine in my lab! It'll only take about five minutes!"
"I don't care if it takes five seconds!" Shego shot back. "You are not gonna clone me!"
"But why?" His tone was petulant.
Shego was sure she was going to develop a facial tic around this guy; was there no limit to his madness? "Doy!" She blurted, waving her hands for emphasis. "Because having a clone of myself around would be even creepier than those robots? Talk about your frickin' Uncanny Valley!"
He was the big sci-fi geek, right? Surely he of all people would have to know that cloning always went wrong! Either the clone emerged hideously disfigured or evil or… in her case, eviler than its DNA source. Even she— who actually had a life— knew that! Besides, even without anything "going wrong", the simple fact of meeting an exact copy of yourself was unsettling enough in itself.
When he only blinked perplexedly at her, she threw her hands up, exasperated, and started heading for her room. "Look, just…figure it out, Genius! Nobody wants to be cloned!"
He pouted. "You'll change your mind once you see how brilliant it is…"
She whirled around, grabbing the lapels of his prison uniform. "That's it! I'm calling my lawyer! You and me are gonna have a little talk about my contract!"
Yelping, Drakken was dragged to his study by his arm. "Hey! Let me at least change out of my prison clothes!"
Three hours and a lot of hard bargaining later, Shego emerged from the study looking self-content, a sulky Drakken and a smug lawyer trailing after her.
"Who ever heard of a 'No Cloning' clause, anyway…?" Drakken muttered as he walked towards his room to change.
If her clones were going to be even half as sassy as Shego herself, he'd have to think twice before he ever resorted to cloning her in any case.
The End (really this time).
Author's note: Sorry for the lateness of this epilogue.
A big thank you goes out to my beta, Charlotte C, who was kind enough to beta read this so I'd be able to publish it before going on vacation.
And I'd like to wish my friend Marvolo Cassius a happy birthday in advance since I won't be here for his birthday on the 29th. Have a good one, ass face, and thanks for the help on that other fic of mine.
In the episode A Very Possible Christmas, Shego was shown with her very own black and green hover car. I'm guessing she uses it for weekends and when on solo missions or something.