THREE YEARS AGO
It seemed like the whole of Go City was on fire from above. Black smoke covered the sky while dozens of fires raged throughout downtown and the suburbs. Kim had to ask her ride to fly close to the city to avoid the thick clouds but that was a losing battle as the propellers of the helicopter churned up more dust and soot that only made it harder to see.
"We need to land," said Connie, the pilot of the news helicopter that Kim was riding in. "It's going to get dangerous."
Kim nodded and stood up in the cabin, grabbing her bag. "Its fine, I'll get off here. You head back."
"You sure? There might not be a way out," said Connie.
"There's always a way out," smiled Kim. She pulled her bag tightly against her back and adjusted the straps. "You be careful."
"You too," said Connie.
Kim slid open the door and stepped out onto the rail, squinting her eyes against the wind and burning smoke. She peered through the haze to spot a good landing location on the roof of a building not too far from her destination but out of the direct path of the nearby fires.
With a silent prayer, she dove off the helicopter, tucking her arms behind her to streamline her fall and subtly direct her descent until she was just far enough away to safely deploy her parachute. With a yank, the silk canopy opened above her and jerked her upwards at her shoulders. The intense heat from the fires actually caused her to briefly rise up higher and she hand to carefully pull on the guide ropes to make sure she wouldn't overshoot her mark. It was less than a minute later than she was touching down on the roof of the three story building. She shrugged off her pack and strode quickly towards the only door.
When she pulled on the handle she was immediately greeted by three large suited men staring at her angrily. She held up her hands and tried to smile pleasantly.
"Kim Possible," she announced herself. "I'm here to see him. I have an appointment."
The suited men looked briefly amongst themselves and then stepped aside. As Kim moved to walk past them, one of the men fell in step behind her, gently urging her forward down the stairs and through the large brownstone.
She was ushered down to the first floor and into an office filled with nicely dressed people that looked at their wits end. Even the man she came to see looked disheveled, his jacket was hanging off the edge of his chair and his sleeves rolled up to his elbows. He was looking over a stack of papers stapled at the corner and urgently talking to an aide standing right to his side.
"Sir," said Kim's suited escort. "Kim Possible is here for you."
The man looked up and sighed. "I don't know if there's anything you can do anymore," he said with resignation.
"We won't know less I try," said Kim, still smiling pleasantly. She walked up and held out her hand. "Mayor."
Go City Mayor Noah Salton shook her hand briefly and then turned to go back to his desk, throwing the packet of papers onto the edge of the large mahogany surface. "We've got fires everywhere, the main power grid is half gone, looting is rampant on the south side, and to top it all off, we have no idea where she is."
"The National Guard is tracking her," said Kim casually. "She's heading south, possibly to Cuba or South America. There's very little chance she's coming back this way."
"Then maybe you should be there, because unless you've got a firehose attachment on that hairdryer of yours, I don't have any jobs for you," said the Mayor.
Kim nodded and came around to sit in the chair in front of the desk and folded her legs. "What happened?"
"My city is on fire!" the Mayor shouted.
Kim looked at him expectantly. "Before that. I thought we were making progress with her."
"Well, you can't trust demons," spat the Mayor.
Kim shook her head. "Where did it start? I want to take a look."
The mayor slammed his hands on the desk and leaned forward towards the small redhead sitting opposite him. She didn't even flinch. "Find the biggest fire and it'll be right there in the center!"
"That's not very helpful," said Kim. "As you said, your whole city is on fire."
The mayor frowned deeply. "Who is paying your tab?"
"A few interested parties," said Kim dismissively. "You don't have to worry about my bill."
"Who?" said the Mayor.
"I'm not at liberty to say," recited Kim with a small smile.
"Damn it," grumbled the Mayor. "The White House?"
"I can neither confirm nor deny," said Kim. "Though I didn't have to pull any favors to get access to the National Guard's tracking data."
The Mayor slumped in his chair and ran his hands roughly through his thinning hair. Then he looked up and pulled sideways at his chin. With a clap he laid his hands back down on top of the paper on his desk. "Look, Dr. Whitmeyer over at COTEF was running some tests and the Demon got wind of what they were building and it pushed her over the edge."
Kim raised an eyebrow. "What were they building?"
"A contingency plan," said the Mayor. "Containment."
"You have something that can contain the Demon of Go City?" said Kim.
"Maybe," said the Mayor. "They never got it tested and, well, now she's gone, so unless you drag her back here, we'll never know."
"What is it?" asked Kim.
"I don't know, some magnets and a freezer or something," shrugged the Mayor. "It's not portable, so you have to bring her here, not it to her."
Kim nodded. "But if I did bring her here, you could put her in?"
"When the fires are out... maybe."
"We'll have worse than fires to deal with if she's not sealed up tight," said Kim. "You should get it ready."
"I'm busy," said the Mayor.
Kim stood and brushed off her jacket. "So am I," she said. "But if your ice box isn't ready by the time I'm done you're going to waste a lot of my effort and some important people's money."
"Don't threaten me," said the Mayor. He pointed angrily at Kim.
Kim smiled. "I'm not, just letting you know what's at stake." She walked towards the door. "Put out your fires, and get your 'containment' ready."
The mayor shook his head. "What are you planning on doing? Just putting a leash on her and dragging her back?"
Kim bowed her head slightly. "That's for me to worry about. Have a good day, Mayor." She straightened her back and walked out of the office and then the building out to the chaotic streets lined with police cars and filled with the distant sirens of fire trucks.
"COTEF, huh?" she said to herself absently. Then she reached into her pocket and pulled out her cell phone. With a press of a finger she used her first speed dial.
"Wade?" she said into the receiver with a smirk. "Have you been holding out on me?"
*** [PE] ***
POSSIBILITY ENGINE II
THE DEMON OF GO CITY
*** (ooo) ***
The alarm was very shrill and Wade leapt to his feet, knocking a few empty soda cups to the floor in the process. With a bleary scan of the room he realized he was still in his office at COTEF, having fallen asleep on his keyboard. On one of his screens were a series of models predicting certain containment failures and their likelihood of producing a cascade failure of the entire system. He noticed none of them indicated any risk.
Rubbing his eyes, Wade then looked around for the source of the noise. He found a wired phone buried beneath a stack of papers and pressed a glowing red button on the device to silence the noise. A voice came from the phone a second later.
"Mr. Load?" The voice was deep sounding. It had to be one of the security guards. Nobody else in the building called him "Mr." anything if they talked to him at all.
"What is it?" asked Wade, lifting the receiver of the phone.
"We've got a situation outside," said the guard. "Is Dr. Whitmeyer there?"
Wade checked the schedule on his computer and then the clock in the corner of his screen. "He should have left already. Don't you have him on your logbook?"
"We don't have him checking out this evening," said the guard.
"What's going on outside?" asked Wade as he called up the security cameras on his computer. He shouldn't have access to the surveillance systems from his research computer, so he had to at least pretend he couldn't find out himself.
His screen suddenly filled with the view out the front door and he nearly dropped the phone in surprise.
"A protest has organized out here," said the guard.
A 'protest' was putting it lightly, thought Wade. On the screen showed hundreds of people standing out in the cold night, many carrying signs calling for the "freedom" of the Demon. The entire path to the facility was filled with people and the crowd stretched out into the street.
"How on earth did they find us?" asked Wade.
"I don't know," replied the guard. "Can you look for Dr. Whitmeyer?"
Wade rubbed his eyes again as he stared at the screen full of people apparently shouting. He scanned the front row of people and then stopped as he saw a familiar face.
"Sheldon Director," said Wade. The leader of Gemini Ascendant. This was not a good sign.
"What?" asked the guard on the phone.
"Nothing, I'll look for him," said Wade and hung up the phone. He quickly activated the internal cameras and confirmed he wasn't walking around somewhere. The guard had access to these cameras too, so it wasn't likely, but he had to at least check.
Then Wade called up his recognizer program and rewound the security footage (something the guards couldn't do) and set a search for Dr. Whitmeyer's ID Tag showing up in the video.
The program chugged away silently while Wade got up from his chair and went looking for a new shirt to put on. He found a basket of cleaned clothes and dug through the pile to find a white shirt and began putting it on.
His program chimed about two minutes into the search and Wade watched the cameras track Dr. Whitmeyer while he finished buttoning his shirt. The cameras found him going to the bathroom about three hours ago before he returned to the containment monitoring room. After that point he doesn't emerge again.
"Working late again," guessed Wade. He tucked his shirt in and grabbed his tablet before leaving his office and heading down to the quarantine area. He stopped as he was walking up to the first identity scanner and listened. He could hear the chanting protesters all the way in here. They needed to do something about them before it got out of hand.
He entered the quarantine area and opened the door to the containment monitoring room. It was empty.
"Dr. Whitmeyer?" called out Wade as he looked around. The room was not terribly big, there wasn't much space for a person to hide in, but the security cameras said he was in here. Wade checked under the desks and behind the consoles but saw nothing. The only other place he could be is in the containment area itself.
He sat down and turned on the screens – which had all apparently shut off due to being idle – and reached over to turn on the flood-lamps in the containment area. It was odd that everything was off, but not beyond comprehension. The 'demon' didn't need light as she was an icicle, she wasn't aware of anything, even if her power was steadily growing.
The lights inside the containment area didn't turn on, though, and Wade frowned. He looked at the screens which equally showed blackness. He switched over to infrared to see if he could get a better view.
Wade's eyes widened. The infrared showed a warm shape on the ground in front of the demon's containment unit.
Leaping to his feet, Wade ran to the heavy insulated door and punched in his access code to unlock it. With a jerk he pulled open the door and ran inside. The light from the monitoring room brought some definition to the inside of the containment area, enough for Wade to see his breath and make out the shape of Dr. Whitmeyer lying on the floor. He bent down to feel for a pulse. The body was very cold but there was still a weak heartbeat.
Wade raised his eyes towards the containment unit. She was still in there. Shego. The 'Demon' of Go City. She hadn't even moved in her frozen cylinder. Her eyes were closed, her arms resting to either side, covered in a white robe provided by their facility when they first froze her. Nothing was different.
Except for what looked like a black mark on the outside of the unit.
Wade reached down and grabbed Dr. Whitmeyer's arm and pulled him out of the containment room and into the monitoring area. In the full light, his skin looked blue there was frost on his lips and brow. He looked terrible.
Wade jumped back into the chair in front of the monitors and picked up the phone there, calling the guardhouse. He explained what he found and had them call for an ambulance immediately.
After he finished explaining everything to the guard, Wade looked up at the screens showing the containment area. Without Dr. Whitmeyer in there, they were completely grey, reflecting the ice cold environment they maintained.
With a flick of his wrist, Wade began playing back the video in reverse, looking to see when Dr. Whitmeyer ended up in there and why he was on the floor. The video played back for a long time as the time stamp stretched back over an hour before there was a sudden flurry of color and activity. Wade stopped the video immediately and then played it forward at normal speed.
He watched as Whitmeyer stumbled into the room in a hurry while holding one hand to his head, and began clumsily pulling on panels on the side of the unit. He then quickly reached in and pulling out several wires before something exploded, taking out the lights and the normal feed video cameras.
After seeing this, Wade immediately checked the diagnostic report on the containment unit. He saw that two of the auxiliary systems had been either disabled or damaged in whatever explosion happened but otherwise full containment was still in effect. The demon was still in suspension.
Wade stared down at the still form of Dr. Whitmeyer. "What on earth were you doing?"
*** [ ooo ] ***
Shego watched as dawn crested the nearby buildings through their hotel window. She had gotten some sleep, but not very much. She had a nightmare about being locked away in some silent prison like her counterpart in this world and couldn't get herself to calm down enough to fall asleep again.
She was unused to having such troubled thoughts. She was not particularly prone to introspection, even when she realized exactly what she was capable of in that "Supreme One" universe they started in she didn't have trouble sleeping. She had more trouble with waking life, actually, as she couldn't keep her thoughts focused on the task at hand. Instead she kept thinking about the torture she suffered, and the morose thought that in that universe she'd gone so insane that she didn't even notice everything going to ruin around her.
But recently, she'd been waking at night thinking about... well, thinking about Kim. And about Athena. They'd been jumping from world to world for a while now with no trace of them. Would they ever catch up? Were they even supposed to catch up? There was a bizarre time travel element involved in the Elder Shego's cryptic message to her and frankly it didn't make any sense.
All she knew was that the map she had would lead her to Athena, and Athena had kidnapped Kim. But she didn't know how the map would lead her there, and what she should do once she got there, and that was troubling her. The doubt troubled her.
Even as a villain she had little doubt in herself. She doubted Drakken and his plans, but that seemed like a foregone conclusion. But she never believed there would be a situation she couldn't get herself out of, or that she end up too badly off. But that was before she cared about anyone. Before she had a real friend. Before she reconciled with Kim. Before she met Cassie.
Shego turned her head to look at the sleeping form in other bed. The young Kimmie-look-alike was an excellent partner. Quiet, but attentive, and a quick learner. In fact, she was better about keeping them on mission than Shego was. She had volunteered to come with Shego even knowing how open ended it was; even knowing they might never return to her home world. What did that mean? Did she trust Shego to keep her safe? Was she trying to keep Shego safe? Who knew when the girl rarely spoke more than a sentence at a time.
Shaking her head, Shego decided to give up on sleep and jumped out of bed. Coffee, she decided, was what she needed, and not the garbage in the hotel room. Putting on her spare set of clothes, pulling a ball cap down over her eyes, and grabbing some money off the dresser, she headed out of the room and down to the street.
She found a coffee shop a couple blocks away, a little busy since it was a work day, and got in line to get a cappuccino. As she was waiting she checked the TDF again. The battery was still recharging, they had a few more hours to go until they'd be ready to leave this world. She switched over to the scanner and studied the four gateways detected again.
She wondered what it meant. Was there really someone else here from another dimension? Was it someone they knew? Was it one of the Grand Commander's mechanical henchmen? Or was it some other adventurer, another dimensional traveler that had a TDF of their own? Will had said there were lots of travelers in their area of the multi-verse but Shego and Cassie had moved far out of their range already.
Suddenly the TV in the coffee shop started blaring and Shego looked angrily up at the screen. She saw someone had pushed a chair over to reach the TV and had turned up the volume. It was showing some news coverage of a crowd over by the docks. Shego started to shake her head when she noticed the title on the bottom of the screen reading: "Demon of Go City Found?"
"—and there is no sign of stopping," said the woman reporter on the screen. "Officials say the group arrived around two o'clock in the morning last night, gathering at a tremendous rate until they had blocked traffic entirely on Kennedy Dr and Steven Branch Road. Police have temporarily rerouted traffic around this area, but the protesters are being ordered to disburse."
The screen changed to cut to an interview between the same reporter and one of the protesters. The protester was a young man with a goatee and a knit hat holding a sign that says 'God Wants Her Free'.
The reporter motioned to the building behind her. "Why do you believe that the Demon is here at this facility?"
"Gemini Ascendant has contacts within the congressional committee that has the Angel contained," said the scruffy boy. "This facility is definitely where she is being unlawfully held!"
"Gemini Ascendant organized this protest?" asked the reporter.
"They told us all where she was and we were happy to show our support for the freedom of God's Angel!" said the boy.
"If she's here you wish the COTEF facility to let the Demon go?" asked the reporter.
"Absolutely," said the boy.
The screen changed and cut back to some panning shots of the crowd of hundreds in front of the non-descript harbor building. The reporter's narrative continued. "Gemini Ascendant is the activist group led by Sheldon Director, a former minister who has been the figurehead in the movement to have the Demon released. Earlier this morning Director was spotted within the crowd but hasn't been seen since the police arrived just before dawn. There are also reports that an ambulance picked somebody up early this morning from the facility, an employee in his mid-forties believed to be Dr. Robert Whitmeyer, the original researcher who developed the containment vessel used to capture the Demon three years ago. We have reached out to hospital officials at Go City Memorial Hospital to confirm the employee's identity but they have so far declined to comment."
The screen changed to show stock footage of the capital building in Washington. The reporter continued, "In light of the recent conflict over the Demon's fate in congress, Simon, Gates and Associates, a D.C. firm, has been attempting to sue the government for wrongful imprisonment of the Demon. The firm claims that the Demon was never tried and convicted of any crime but has been held in captivity for nearly three years. A representative from Simon, Gates, and Associates stated that the reason why the location of the Demon is being kept secret is to prevent her from being given due process."
Shego turned away from the screen and stepped up to the counter to order her drink. She was trying not to get herself involved, but Kim's altruistic tendencies had been rubbing off on her. She hated to think about being imprisoned, simply for using the powers she was given. But the clips she saw of her counterpart killing police and blowing up tanks were enough to give her pause. Still, the obvious growing tensions meant this situation was bound to blow up sooner or later.
She sighed as took her latte and headed for the door. There was a lot she didn't understand about this world and with her appearance, there was a huge risk in asking questions. All her normal choices were out. Her brothers were absent, Kim was apparently the one who captured the 'Demon' and probably wouldn't help her, Drakken was a senator who had no history of villainy and certainly hadn't worked with her, and even with all the super powered battles her counterpart had started she'd seen not a single mention of Global Justice.
What else could she do?
She paused on the street and pulled out the TDF again. The screen still showed the maps of the four gateways. She stared at the anomalous entry gate.
Well, there was one thing.
*** [ ooo ] ***
Miss Seely walked calmly and casually up to the door, gently brushing some of her dark hair out of her face, and smiled at the camera. She was young, beautiful, and a refreshing change from the serious looking security guards that had been flooding into COTEF since that morning.
Wade just couldn't figure out why she was here and by herself.
"Miss Seely," said Wade with a smile as he opened the door for her.
"Mr. Load," nodded Miss Seely as she stepped in. The heavy door slid shut behind her and they began the long walk towards the containment area.
"Two days and two visits," said Wade. "We're quite popular at DARPA these days."
Miss Seely glanced briefly behind them. "And with the Gemini Ascendant as well. I wouldn't be too happy about that."
Wade swallowed. "Yes. Well. Uh, we're still not quite sure how they found out about us. Certainly our facility goes through extensive background checks before hiring and all employees sign detailed contracts that—"
"I'm sure that COTEF does all it can to protect itself," interrupted Miss Seely with a slow wave of her hand. "But oversight committee and several senators are also well aware of the Demon's presence here, and the bar for their appointment is quite a bit lower." She smiled again. "Don't worry, Wade, we don't think this was yours or Dr. Whitmeyer's fault."
Wade sighed in relief. "Then who?" he asked.
"That is still being investigated," said Miss Seely. She stopped and motioned towards the door in front of them.
Wade quickly stepped up to the security panel and released the locks. As he held open the door for the aide, he frowned. "Then why are you back today?"
"Obviously, since this location has been compromised, we need to move her."
Wade's eyes bulged. "What?" He stumbled slightly to run ahead of the taller woman. "No, you can't."
"She can't stay here," said Miss Seely. "That protest outside is one step away from a riot."
"That's not what I meant," said Wade, holding up a hand and stopping the aide's pace. "There's nowhere to take her. Her containment vessel is a massive machine and has very specific power requirements. Even finding a place to build the necessary infrastructure could take months!"
Miss Seely frowned and put a finger to her chin. "That hardly seems likely. Redundancy was part of COTEF's contract with the DoD. Where's your continuity plan?"
Wade grimaced slightly and looked away.
"You're hiding something," Miss Seely pointed out after a minute of silence.
"There's a... test facility," admitted Wade. "Where we built the prototype. It's outside of the city about fifty miles from here."
"That sounds better," said Miss Seely. "Is it a marked COTEF facility?"
Wade shook his head. "No, it's owned by one of our Chinese suppliers. Nakahara Heavy Industries. They build the compressors and cryo-tubing and assembled the entire biological regulator module."
"Sounds like good people to get in touch with then," said Miss Seely. "In the mean time you need to work on making our Demon a little more mobile."
"We're never going to be able to move her without that crowd noticing," said Wade. "And if they do we'll have the same problems as now." He shook his head. "I'll need the DARPA Chief's sign-off to do anything, as well."
Miss Seely reached into her jacket and pulled out a folded letter. "You have it."
Wade stared at the paper and swallowed. He slowly reached out and grabbed the letter between his fingers. There was an embossed seal on the corner that he recognized.
"Are we going to have a problem?" asked Miss Seely as she studied Wade's expression.
"No," Wade said quietly. "Though people are not going to be used to dealing with me instead of Dr. Whitmeyer."
"Dr. Whitmeyer isn't here right now," said Miss Seely. She looked squarely into Wade's eyes. "I know you've let Dr. Whitmeyer take the spotlight when it was your work that created the containment vessel. I know that you've been quiet while your breakthroughs have been stolen by others. But this is not the time to be quiet. You were looking for a moment to shine and it's now. Set up the transfer, find a way to do it without anyone noticing, and your name will be the one people remember." She put her hands gently on his shoulders. "Do you understand?"
Wade looked terrified but he nodded. "Okay," he said. "Okay! I got it. I'll make it happen."
Miss Seely smiled and then patted him on the shoulder before standing tall again. "Good. I'll be back soon to see how you're doing." She nodded. "I believe in you, Wade. You'll make it happen."
Then she turned and headed back towards the exit. Wade stared until she was out of sight again. Then he looked down at the paper in his trembling hands.
He wished Dr. Whitmeyer was around.
*** [ ooo ] ***
(Author's Note: This is all I've got after a year's worth of work, a third of Part 2 written. Not very promising. Hopefully 2014 will prove more fruitful.)