Just a couple quick things before we get this party started. No, I'm not finished with Through the Cracks, but there are only five episodes remaining. Well, six if you count the big two-part finale, but those details are in my profile. Thisstory picks up right were we left off in Through the Cracks and Graduation. You can expect the same good-natured episodic fun you've come to expect, but as with real life, college will present some more serious challenges for our intrepid heroes.

Many thanks to Molloy for his help with this chapter. There's just no substitute for good advice.

Enjoy!

Kim, Ron, and all other characters within are owned by the Walt Disney Corporation.


Season Premier: A Prologue of Sorts

by Ultimate Naco Topping


"And do you know what happened at the end of the finale?" the irrepressible borderline insane geneticist asked. "Charity and Danny finally got together! Doesn't it just make your heart sing, Monkey Muffin?"

Monkey Muffin remained stoically grotesque or more accurately grotesquely statuesque in his response. DNAmy squealed with delight as if he had agreed.

"I know! It was the perfect ending!" she said with a sigh and smile. "Well, I've probably kept you up to long. I should get to bed myself. We have a long day splicing genomes ahead of us!"

The portly woman leaned in and gave her love a kiss on his cold stone cheek and floated towards the door. The loud clack of the overhead lighting turning off echoed throughout the now darkened lair. Only a small shaft of light splashed against the center piece of Amy's cuddle buddy collection: the ghastly statue of former English Lord Montgomery Fiske.

Looking down on him, in the darkness of the shadows, he waited. He refused to risk failure by assuming the coast was clear. Impatience was the ultimate betrayal of his art. So, he waited. Seconds, minutes, hours, they were irrelevant. His only sense of progression came from counting the beats of his own heart.

Finally, an inky black form emerged from inky black shadow and approached the stone encasement of Monkey Fist. The figure was wrapped in a pure black gi and hood; only two beady eyes broke its darkness. The ninja paused in front of the villain allowing his senses to gather everything around him before being certain it was safe to proceed. He slowly reached out with both hands and grabbed the stone ring protruding from Fist's head. It resisted as he turned it, the sound of rock scrapping against rock echoed throughout the lair. Finally, the ring aligned. The ninja repositioned himself and gaining as much leverage as he could manage, pushed the ring down into the statue of the simian obsessed villain.

A blast of yellow energy hurtled the ninja backward and forced him to close his eyes. When he opened them, he was forced to shield his eyes with his hands, but as the light subsided into a less intense glow, he knew he had succeeded.

Monkey Fist looked at the blacked robed ninja who was slowly rising from the floor and thought of how to reward him for releasing him from his stone prison.

Fist quickly settled on a quick death.

The mark of the Yono glowed red in his palm as he aimed it towards the ninja. Quickly, the hooded warrior dove into his pouch and produced a gold amulet and aimed it right back at Monkey Fist. The enchanted villain immediately cringed as a high pitched wail filled the air. The red glow of his fist was squelched as he clasped his hands to his ears. The ninja stepped towards him keeping the amulet pointed square at him. Fist's yellow aura faded next as he dropped to his knees grunting in pain.

The ninja continued to torture him for several seconds before finally being satisfied he had made his point. Lowering the amulet, he grabbed the thread it was attached to and fixed it around his neck.

"Well played," Fist said slowly getting to his feet. The two locked eyes for a moment as silence finally filled DNAmy's lair. Fist's eyes fell to the amulet and noted the twisted and writhing outline of Yono the Destroyer imprinted on the gold. The ninja noticed Fist's observation.

"The Amulet of Lao Sing," the masked warrior began. "Named for the monk who crafted it a thousand years ago to defeat the Yono. Lao Sing used its powers to entomb him in the walls of his own Dark Temple before you awakened him and he transferred his power to you. I probably don't have to tell you that the Amulet controls whoever walks the Path of the Yono."

"I gathered," Monkey Fist replied dryly. "So, do I have the honor of addressing you as Master?"

"That would be fitting, for now."

"And does my Master have a name?" Fist asked drowning his words in hatred.

Deliberately, the ninja began to remove his hood. He was only half finished when the former English lord realized who had freed him. His eyes narrowed with further contempt.

"I'm surprised you didn't recognize my voice," Fukishima said faking a hurt tone.

"My apologies. I've been hard of hearing lately… I suppose now comes the part where you use my power to conquer the world."

"No," the young ninja said with a smirk. "But we will get to that when the time is right. First, we need to pay a visit to an old friend."

Monkey Fist raised an eyebrow. While he planned on vaporizing his former, albeit brief, protégé as soon as he separated him from the amulet, he could still admire his thinking.

"Stoppable," said Fist.

Fukishima smiled back at his former master. Before he could begin to reveal his plan, the pair heard a sound coming from the hall outside the lab. The shadow of a portly looking woman fell across the floor.

"Would you mind?" Fukishima said pointing towards a large wall to their side. Monkey Fist glowed yellow once again as he summoned his new powers.

Hearing a large rumble, Amy stopped walking and dashed into her lab. She flipped on the lights just in time to see the smoke and debris settle. Her eyes went wide with panic as she quickly scanned her Cuddle Buddy collection for any missing collectables. Everything was there except for one - the item she prized more than her Gold Star Pandaroo, her Otterfly, or even her Flamingoat. She instantly ran to the hole in her wall and looked out into the night hoping to see something, anything, but instead saw nothing. The disgraced geneticist fell to her knees and wiped the tear from her eyes before muttering a single word.

"Monty…"

------------

As the roar from the Team Go Jump Jet waned, Shego caught herself waving good-bye. With a disgusted shudder, she lowered her arm. Given the nightmare that her trip to Go City had become, her brothers couldn't fade into the night sky fast enough.

After her role in saving the world with Drakken, Princess, and the sidekick became public knowledge, Hego pestered her for weeks to join the whole family (extended included) for a reunion in hopes that it would continue her journey back to the side of justice. She had zero intention of going until her older brother just happened to "be in the neighborhood" one day. Shego had almost gotten him turned away at the door when Drakken walked by and invited him in for ginger snaps and Cocoa-Moo. As the Blue Brothers chatted it up, she attempted to slip away but was dragged back in by Drakken. Finally, Hego revealed his real reason for coming and pleaded for her to join the family reunion. When Shego refused, the strongest man in the world was forced to use the ultimate weapon of persuasion: the puppy dog pout. She would have been able to withstand the assault had Drakken not joined in.

The next weekend, Shego found herself in a Go City picnic pavilion amongst the entire extended family, family friends, and city dignitaries. The urge to flare up her powers in frustration and rage was almost uncontrollable. How she managed to keep them in check as her mother attempted to fix her up with every single male friend of the family that was there defied explanation. Meanwhile her aunts debated whether or not she needed to gain some more weight or lose some but they all agreed she needed to find a nice doctor and settle down. Given that Drakken was the only 'doctor' she knew and could visualize, it left her with a image she wished she could forget but for some odd reason, couldn't.

Just before an unnamed uncle began the annual family scrapbook slideshow, Murphy's Law was introduced to the Snowball Effect. The picnic roof was blown apart and the newly formed League of Nefarious Intent consisting of Aviarius, Electronique, and the Mathter stole the exotic cheese tray (and kidnapped the mayor).

Team Go was once again united in action!

Almost.

Shego went along only to avoid the resulting guilt trip from the family if she didn't. She remained a non-participant in the action until the climactic battle on the roof of City Hall when, out of utter annoyance at both her brothers and the villains and an extreme desire to get it all over with and go home, she began to take names and kick you-know-whats until the battle was won. Unfortunately, it all occurred on live television covered by news choppers and beamed to every corner of the planet.

And so Shego stood on the dock of Dr. Drakken's island lair, evil reputation in shatters, reeking of goodness and justice, wondering what had happened to her evil five year and ten year plans. The walk to her quarters and a much needed shower was a rare reflective moment for her. Was she really evil? Was she really good? Was she the puppet of destiny or fate? Grappling with such questions took away most of the therapeutic effects of the shower. However, as she was drying her hair, she had an epiphany. She had turned evil precisely because she hated dealing with such questions. She wasn't turning good! She was just getting distracted!

Reenergized, Shego donned her green and black jumpsuit and grabbed her thieving tools. As she quietly made her way into the lair's main room and towards the hover car, she began to plot her crime spree. A loud snore echoing through the chamber snapped her concentration. In front of a desk with a laptop, Drakken, in his pajamas, was leaning back in his chair fast asleep. The soft glow of the computer's screen splashed his face. Realizing he must have been working on his book, tentatively titled How I Saved the World through Evil and Other Gardening Tips, Shego cracked a smile. Since he was a notorious heavy sleeper, she felt no qualms about sneaking over and taking a peek at the project he had been so closely guarding from her and the henchmen. Her desire to add a few passages of her own she took as a sure sign she was still evil after all.

Carefully rolling his chair a few feet over, she took a look at the current page he had typed and was surprised to see he was nearing the end of the book. Even more surprising was what he had written:

As the medal was placed around my neck and the General Assembly began to applaud, finally, the genius of Dr. Drakken was being recognized. Finally, I was no longer the laughing stock of villainy. Finally, I had made a valuable contribution to humanity. I may not have conquered the world, but it still felt good. And yet, all of it would have meant less somehow if my loyal, albeit lippy sidekick, Shego hadn't been there to share the…

She stopped reading as her hand went to her chest. That funny feeling in the bottom of her gut returned every time she thought about the moment. As she looked over at Drakken, she realized she hadn't been dealing with a good thing or an evil thing or even a fate or destiny thing. She was dealing with (and brace yourselves, folks) alove thing.

Shego groaned as she looked to the ceiling for answers. It was all way to complicated. She was to young to be having an evil mid-life crisis. Drakken, who she wasn't sure about his level of evil to begin with, was playing nice with the public and the authorities in an effort to cash in on his heroics. The new Drakken was oddly competent and tolerable. And it left Shego in an unfamiliar place. As her eyes fell back to the table with Drakken's notes and scraps, one piece of paper caught her attention. Gently, she picked it up. Crudely drawn, therefore obviously by Drakken, were two stick figures. One colored blue, the other colored green. The blue one had sported a mini-mullet and a shiny medal around its neck. The green one was wearing dress with long flowing black hair. They stood under the banner of Drakken & Shego holding hands.

She smiled.

Then she caught herself smiling and cringed.

PWOPF!

The noise startled her as she instinctively spun and flared her plasma completely forgetting the picture in her hands. Her heart rate and tension quickly subsided as she realized what the noise had been. Drakken, still fast asleep, was sporting a fresh set of petals around his neck. She took a couple steps towards him and just looked at his face. A dizzying array of emotions made their way into her consciousness. But at the same time, looking at him gave her an odd feeling of comfort. It was almost as if…

"Frackle," Shego whispered to herself. With a deep sigh, she grabbed a blanket from the couch and covered Drakken with it. She leaned down over him as he continued to snore. Quickly looking around to make sure no one was watching, she kissed him on the forehead before skulking back up to her room.

------------

"She will look hansom mounted next to your Thorgogle spine!"

Kim groaned in darkness. She wanted to open her eyes, but the hard blow she had just taken rendered her unable to will her body to do anything. Still she could make out faintly what sounded like Ron shouting. The she could feel herself hitting the ground and tumbling over. As the pain from that impact subsided, what little consciousness she had heard the sound of fighting and blows being traded. When she finally did get her eyes open, she wished she could close them again.

Ron hung limply from Warhok's arm,the Lorwardian grinning wickedly.

"I have my trophy, Warmonga," he said. "Where's yours?"

Kim tilted her head up just in time for a large purple boot to block her view. Warmonga smiled back down at her. As the vengeful alien reached down to claim her trophy, the darkness returned to Kim's eyes…

------------

The redhead bolted up from her less than peaceful sleep panting erratically and covered in cold sweat. Though the unfamiliarity of her surroundings did not bring her any ease, eventually, her confusion subsided. The only good thing about living in the trailer parked on her family's lawn was that it was temporary. The rebuilding of the Possible family home was finally in full swing.

But in the meantime, Kim was forced to step over her brothers snoring away in sleeping bags on the floor of the cramped room. Putting on her shoes, she crept across the poorly named living room (as it barely had enough space for three people to squeeze together and watch the eighteen-inch television screen). She looked down the narrow passage that was being called a 'hall' to make sure her parents were still sound asleep and quietly slipped out into the night.

------------

The smell of soot and ash that had hung over Middleton in the wake of the Lorwardian attack had been replaced with the fresh smell of lumber. Piles of rubble and debris had been replaced with stacks of bricks and bags of cement. The tall spires of the fallen alien crawlers replaced with construction cranes.

Through the rapidly rebuilding town, its world famous world saving teen hero moved shoulders slumped and head down. Her world had changed and in more ways than one. The town she had grown up in, walked to and from through, and had been imprinted at the deepest levels of her memory would never look the same. It would be rebuilt and nobody was moving away (save for the recently graduated seniors), but it would never again match her childhood memories.

Kim's foot nearly stepped on a packet of Diablo sauce. She looked up to see the empty slab that had once been Bueno Nacho. Next to it was a sign happily announcing the restaurant's return in the near future and featuring a picture of the new building. Gone was the sombrero shaped roof and familiar round design. The new Bueno Nacho would be a sleek modern building with a triangle motif and hip urban colors.

Her stomach turned over as she felt a tear well up in her eye. She briefly thought that it should be Ron having this type of reaction, but she was overwhelmed with the realization that life as she knew it was over. The status quo had been sleighed. The paradigm had shifted. The world was a different place.

The Lorwadian attack was a mental and emotional line in the sand. Before, her world was firmly under her control. The villains popped up, she stomped them. Bonnie sniped at her, she outclassed her. Ron stumbled, she picked him up. Life had questions, she had answers.

That reality no longer existed. For the first time in her life, Kim had faced an enemy that didn't rely on a gimmick or whose plan was championed for its elaborate nature rather than its functionality. It was a harsh wake up call that there were enemies out there who meant serious harm not merely hazards to themselves.

Aside from the rather unique revelations about life only Kim could have were the rather mundane ones her peers were having. Except for Ron and Monique, there just wasn't anyone else from high school she was really ever going to see again. There were countless people outside of her very close knit circle that she was going to miss. Even the thought of never having to deal with Bonnie again was accompanied by the melancholy of the end of one chapter in life.

Kim almost ran into a pole. At the last minute she stopped and looked up. Scaffolding surrounded Middleton High. Having the school ready for the start of classes in a few weeks was viewed as symbolic statement of life returning to normal for the town. The redhead followed the pole she almost ran into to read the newly replaced school marquee.

Earth 1. Aliens 0.

Kim had the faintest of smiles as she read it. But standing in front of her school didn't just remind her that one chapter in her life was over, but that a new chapter was about to begin.

And she didn't have the foggiest idea were to begin.

She had narrowed her collegiate choices down to eight internationally acclaimed universities. She had made a chart to balance the pros and cons of going to each. She went through their generous offers that went well beyond what a school would have offered had she not been Kim Possible. None of it helped her discover an obvious choice. As she scrapped her notions of how to pick a school, Kim came to realize that the appeal of going international had lost its luster. The Earth was no longer the expansive universe she traversed in her world saving adventures. It was suddenly a small corner of a much larger whole – a whole that as she looked up to the stars, now seemed a lot more fascinating than Paris or Cairo or Tokyo.

Not to mention she had no clue what to study. The fact that she had no clue what to study was more or less a side note to worry about later. A track in international diplomacy or criminal justice seemed logical, but she still hadn't reconciled with the idea of turning her hobby into a career.

And the fact that Ron hadn't heard back from any of the schools she had applied to didn't help her deliberations either. She couldn't fathom choosing a school before they knew if he was accepted to any of them, but it was quickly coming to that.

Ron.

Kim stopped at the thought of her best friend. All of her other troubles and worries paled in comparison. Going to school together had become a top priority for sure, but with each passing day, Kim had to prepare herself for the possibility that they could be on different continents in the coming weeks. While it was comforting to know they each had been truly scared of what the future held for them, thinking about the mechanics of it all did little to qualm them.

Kim could handle the new harsher reality of the battle between good and evil. She could handle starting a new life at a new school. She could handle uncertainty about what to do with the rest of her life. But she still didn't know if she could handle life away from Ron – or worse, life without Ron. If it really came down to it, could she move on if she had to? For his part, she knew Ron had already dealt with and accepted the possibility; not that he wasn't going to do everything he could remain by her side, but unlike the events before junior prom, the blonde had a much more mature take on the possibility of change.

Thinking about how much he had grown in the last year made Kim pause once again. Though he had his moments, potential boy had finally arrived. Star running back, terrific big brother, college-bound graduate (at least in the States), great boyfriend, and now unrivaled Monkey Master, she came to had come to one inescapable conclusion: Ron had passed her. The thought shook her to the core. It wasn't that she didn't want him to succeed – she was thrilled with his success – but being the best was one of the defining characteristics of Kim Possible. Now, she no longer the better athlete, the better older sibling, or even the better fighter.

Kim wrapped her arms around herself in an effort to warm up a bit. It could still get cool in Colorado even if it was the middle of summer. In the darkness, she tried to figure out where she had wandered but the construction made it difficult for her. When she finally did figure it out, she realized she had gone quite a ways from her temporary home and how exhausted she was. With a deep sigh, Kim decided to push everything out of her mind. She wasn't going solve any of her issues tonight. And maybe with a little sleep, an answer or two would come to her.

Kim began the turn back 'home' and tried to focus her thoughts on getting rest when the ground beneath her feet gave way and she was plunged into darkness.

------------

Being no stranger to free fall, Kim had her emotions under control quickly. However, when one is not given time to prepare mentally for the sensation, even the most experienced adventurer can be temporarily scared. By the time she had figured out the nature of her sudden sitch, she reached the air pocket at the end of the high speed vacuum tube and came to a fast but gentle stop.

"Ms. Possible," Kim was tersely greeted as she stepped out of the tube and into the underground facility.

"Agent Du," the redhead replied in kind.

"Dr. Director would like a word with you. Follow me."

Will abruptly turned from her and began to walk away. Kim was left with no choice but to follow his cold rigid frame. She shivered as she fell in step behind him. In many ways, Global Justice's Middleton facility was much like a villain's lair, full of seemingly pointless computer banks buzzing away, cold dank hallways that stretched forever, and oddly placed cavernous control rooms that suddenly opened up.

On cue, Will and Kim entered just such a control room complete with computer stations, control panels, and large view screens. Kim was drawn towards one of the screens displaying a map of the world. Several red dots blinked over locations ranging from Siberia to Argentina. Approaching each were a pair of yellow triangles. Kim recognized their labels as Global Justice strike teams. She quickly forgot about following Du and examined the map more closely. The agents seated underneath the vast screen intently communicated with the unseen teams. To Kim, it appeared they hadn't been on break for days. But their bloodshot eyes remained locked as one set of yellow triangles flashed red.

"Jupiter team in acquisition range," one of the controllers said bringing all the men and women at the panel to attention. The crackle of an audio stream opened up on the speakers.

"Approaching alien walker now," said a gruff commando voice. "Craft is covered in dense vegetation... Looks like Drakken's plant formula... I see a hole in the coverage... A panel has been opened... Circuits removed. This one's been compromised."

"Copy that, Jupiter Leader," one of the agents replied. "Secure site for investigation unit."

Kim wasn't sure, but she thought she had gathered enough to realize what was going on.

"It's a losing battle," said a voice directly behind Kim. The redhead was once again startled and spun around. "My apologies for scaring you," Dr. Director said.

Kim took a couple breaths and composed herself.

"No big. And I wasn't trying to...,"

"Don't worry, Ms. Possible. If we didn't want you to see that, we wouldn't have brought you here. Would you like a cup of coffee?"

"That would be nice," Kim said hesitantly.

"I have a pot brewing in my office."

------------

Kim slowly stirred the small packet of cream into her mug. Normally, she drank it black, but if she was feeling scattered, she'd try to take the edge out of it. Still, the aroma of the fresh cup of coffee did help put her at ease a bit.

"We here at GJ didn't have a chance to thank you and Mr. Stoppable for thwarting the Lorwardian attack," the head of Global Justice said as she sat down behind her desk with a cup of coffee herself.

"Oh, well, most of the credit goes to Ron..., and Drakken," Kim said still not in total belief of either statement. Dr. Director gave her a knowing look as if some secret was being passed between the two.

"Awfully late for you to be out walking around tonight," Betty said leaning forward.

"I couldn't sleep. I've had a lot on my mind lately," the redhead said staring into her coffee and choosing her words carefully.

Dr. Director sized up the teen from behind her one good eye before opening up a folder on her desk.

"I'll bet. You've been accepted to every major international university in the world," Dr. Director said drawing Kim's attention away from her drink. Kim looked somewhat surprised to hear that information but not that Dr. Director had access to it. "But with classes starting in two weeks, you haven't enrolled at any of them."

"It hasn't been as easy a choice as I thought," Kim said after a moment. "I mean, we're talking about committing the next four years of my life... Not to mention, Ron hasn't heard from any of those schools yet. I'm just afraid if I...," Kim trailed looking back to her drink.

"...choose the wrong school you'll break up the Possible-Stoppable team?" Betty finished.

"Something like that..."

Dr. Director sensed the inner turmoil in the teen as she moved out of her chair and sat on the edge of her desk right next to Kim. Although she was never one for relationships herself, the head of Global Justice knew that Kim was worried about much more than ending her mission work with Ron.

"What if I was to offer you a way to keep the 'team' together and still grant you the international experience you desire?"

Kim looked Dr. Director in her eye, curious but skeptical.

"I'd say I'd be interested... What's the sitch?"

"I'm not going to lie to you, Kim. Governments all over the world have their hands full with rebuilding efforts. Many of the crime fighting agencies across the globe have been diverted into helping with that. Global Justice has been strained to keep up with criminal activity as well as making sure Lorwardian technology doesn't fall into the wrong hands. Most of the walkers were secured, but as you saw in the control room, many recovery sites have already been raided. There's a lot of dangerous alien gear flooding the black market. Global Justice needs all the help it can get and Team Possible is right at the top of our list."

Kim ingested the information carefully before speaking.

"How would it work?"

Betty allowed herself a smile, her recruit was genuinely interested. She grabbed a glossy looking brochure from on top of one of her file cabinets and handed it to Kim.

"We've partnered with Go City University to create a new training program for our college-aged candidates. Think of it like R.O.T.C only for Global Justice. You'll be part of the general college population, live in the dorms, attend regular classes..., you can even participate in cheer or football if you two chose and be free to pursue a degree in whatever field you like. But you'll also attend specialized classes tailored specifically for Global Justice recruits. Given your experience, you and Ron will skip over much of the basic curriculum, but that means you'll be expected to start mission work right away."

Kim glanced over the brochure as she took in everything Dr. Director had to say.

"You mentioned still getting an international experience?"

"Each student in the program must study abroad for no less than two semesters. Not the full experience you were looking for, but some might say it's a fair compromise."

"Sounds expensive," Kim said.

"It is, but for certain exceptional recruits, such as yourself and Mr. Stoppable, GJ will foot the entire bill."

Kim folded the brochure and set it down on Betty's desk. They were well beyond a simple sales pitch or recruiting ploy.

"What's the catch?"

Dr. Director shifted before replying.

"As with other R.O.T.C. programs, graduates are expected to commit to six-years of service upon completion," she said keeping her eye on Kim. This was the critical moment in her effort to recruit the teen hero. If there was anything that would shy her away, this was it.

"That's ten years when it's all said and done," Kim observed.

"True, but you'll have your degree, a chance study abroad, continue to do that which you have excelled at, and, if I may speak candidly, so much needed personal security..."

Kim hung on those last few words. She tried her best to come up with sound reasons for rejecting such an offer or at the very least, take some serious time to think it all over. But so much of what Dr. Director was offering to her filled her needs and answered mostof her anxieties, she could only come up with one.

"I'll have to talk it over with Ron and my parents first," Kim said. Betty nodded not at all surprised by her answer.

"Of course, but I should tell you...,"

Before Dr. Director could finish, the air pressure in the vacuum tube in the corner of her office hissed followed by the sound of two high-pitched yells. Almost instantly, a blond and a pink blur tumbled out of the tube and rolled across the room before hitting the wall.

"Hey K.P!" Ron shouted with excitement as he picked himself and Rufus off the floor. A stunned Kim turned from him to Dr. Director.

"We picked him up making a late night run to the Bueno Nacho in Lowerton - it's the only one open in the tri-city area," Betty whispered to her. "How was Paris, Ron?"

"Don't know," he said approaching the two women. "Someone read the chart wrong and we ended up in Bolivia."

Takeing his place on Ron's shoulder, Rufus crossed his arms in protest of the accusation.

"But you still gotta try these things, Kim! They totally rock!"

The redhead remained in a state of shock as her boyfriend's childlike wonder splashed over the seemingly hardened Dr. Director.

"Glad you're enjoying it, Ron," she said. "I was just explaining to Kim the program at Go City U."

"Oh, isn't it great, Kim?" Ron said taking a hold of his girlfriend around the shoulder. "It will be just like high school only no D-Hall, no mystery meat, and especially no Barkin!"

The words did little to register in her head as Ron released her and headed back towards the tube.

"When you're done with the paperwork, Rufus and me will be in Tokyo checking out the Z-Boy II!" Ron said as he and his pet loaded themselves in the vacuum tube. With a rush of air and squeals of joy, the pair was gone.

After a moment, Kim finally blinked and turned back towards Dr. Director. The Global Justice chief wore a satisfied smirk and held out a piece of paper and pen. Slowly, Kim took at read it over and realized Betty had taken the liberty of filling all of her information out. All that remained to be filled in was Kim's signature. Kim burned a little inside. First, at Ron for not talking to her first before signing away ten years of his life and then at Dr. Director for devising a near flawless trap. Still, the redhead felt like she was watching herself from a distance as she clicked the pen hesitantly and began to move it towards the paper, but just before the ink began to touch the document, her mind threw her a curve.

"Wade!" she exclaimed.

"Wait?" Betty responded confused. "Wait for what?"

"No, Wade. What about Wade? He's just as much part of the team as me, Ron, or Rufus."

Dr. Director paused at what could be a serious objection to Kim's recruitment. Luckily, she had an answer.

"Every agent is allowed to and encouraged to develop their own assets. I'm sure the Trustees can be swayed to extend him proper security privileges as long as he adheres to Global Justice protocols."

Dr. Director held her breath hoping her answer satisfied Kim. The redhead looked back down at the paper. The six-year service agreement jumped off the page at her.

At least it wasn't a car monkey clause.

The voice inside her head screamed for her to stop and think. Things just didn't fall into place like this. Yet, a deeper feeling way down deep washed over her. Even if she did stop to think about it, was she really going to turn the offer down? Ron was in. Wade was in. If her parents had a say, they would be in. The redhead realized that her old life was gone, but that this one was just as good as any of the other new ones she could choose.

Kim sucked in a deep breath and bit her bottom lip before touching the pen to the paper and signing her name.

------------

The three Global Justice hover jets throttled up. The tension on each of their cables went taught as the Lorwardian walker was lifted off of the jungle floor. Vines snapped as it broke free from its prison of vegetation. As the airlift faded into the black of night, a small group of men emerged from their hiding spots amongst the foliage. All but one wore identical uniforms and hoods though each had a different symbol on his chest. The oldest of the men donned a fancier uniform with no hood. He looked contemptuously after the Global Justice craft before turning and, looking as mean as a man petting a Chihuahua possibly could, addressed his men.

"Beta, who was responsible for securing the perimeter?" he menaced. The henchman with the accompanying Greek letter stepped forward nervously.

"Um, I believe Agent Theta, sir," he choked out.

"Theta, show yourself," the man in charge yelled. From behind a tree far separated from the group, a highly fearful henchmen poked his head out of his hiding spot.

Without saying a word, the man produced a small remote and hit the only button on it. In an instant, vines swung out of the tree Theta was standing behind and secured him to the trunk before a loud rumble shook the ground. The tree shed it other branches and detached itself from the ground before streaking into the sky with a plume of fire and smoke behind it. The other henchmen gulped in fear as they watched their former coworker streak across the sky.

"Now, where were we?" Gemini growled. The remaining agents all took a step back leaving one, who was holding a scanner and a Lorwardian component in his hands, by himself. He swallowed his panic as the scanner completed its tests.

"The power converter is in perfect working order, sir," a relieved Agent Delta said.

"Good," Gemini smiled as he began to walk off into the jungle. "We must move quickly before little sis's stooges get to the next site. Global conquest awaits!"

After taking several steps, the super villain realized his men weren't following him. A terrified Beta addressed him.

"Um, sir, our jet is parked in the other direction," Beta said closing his eyes and cringing in fear of his punishment. Gemini produced his remote while glaring at his hapless agent. His thumb quivered over the button for a moment before putting the remote away unused. Realizing some nasty peril was not awaiting him, Beta opened his eyes.

"Consider that your warning," Gemini said before heading in the right direction. With only one man lost on the mission, the World Wide Evil Empire agents relaxed and fell into step behind their leader.


Episode One of The Freshman Fifteen: The More Things Change..., premieres Thursday, March 13th. Until then, enjoy the remaining chapters of Through the Cracks coming to a fan fiction site near you in just a couple weeks!