Shego's eyebrow twitched into a frown as she regained consciousness. The other brow quickly joined it as her waking mind realised she was not where she had lain herself down to sleep. It felt like she was lying on someone's kitchen floor.
Her eyes snapped open as that perception sank in, but what felt suspiciously like a hangover made its presence known as she tried to rise. Had she enjoyed herself too much last night? She didn't usually... no, she had finished her holiday and Middleton had been her first stop on the way back to New York. She'd arrived late, taken a room in one of the nicer hotels and gone to bed.
Apparently something had happened since then.
Finding the nearest wall, she crawled her way up it until she was on her feet. Her head throbbed and her vision was blurry, so at first all she could make out was a dark room with a weak yellow light coming from high above. As her eyes focused, she could tell the smooth white panelling on the floor in fact covered the entire room, which seemed to measure about fifteen by thirty feet. The individual panels were not seperated by grout, which made her uneasy. She tapped at the one she was leaning against with a fingernail; it was familiar, but she couldn't place where she'd seen it before. Regardless, she knew a trap when she was in one.
Someone else was there with her, also dressed for bed. She didn't need the tangled mop of red hair to identify who it was. Shego croaked and coughed before she could force any words up her throat. "Time to wake up, princess." No response. "Princess!" she called with more volume with no better result. Edging along the wall, she approached the girl before nudging her with her foot. "Kimmie?"
A beep sounded from beyond the slit in the other wall.
Shego stumbled across the width of the room to see a narrower room beyond this one. One end housed humming computer equipment. The screen was filled by a timer that was counting down from just under thirty minutes. The opposite end housed a door which was clearly marked as the exit. Directly across from the slit was a desk. The green girl could make out her catsuit draped across one end, and Kim's mission outfit across the other. In between, a desk lamp shone down on the surface... and what looked like a nine by twelve picture frame. There was no image, only a typewritten note.
Shego squinted as she read it, then her eyes widened in shock. "No way!" she breathed. Several emotions struggled for dominance across her features until she clamped down on them all. She glanced back at the timer before returning to Kim and dropping on all fours. Rolling the teenager onto her back, she started slapping her face and insisting she wake up with renewed urgency.
The redhead was not pleased to be so rudely woken, only to open her eyes to the sight of her archfoe.
"Wh... Sh-go? ...Shego!" She suddenly tried to scramble away, but the back of her head came into contact with the wall with quite a thump and she groaned.
"Yeah, not the smartest thing to do after being gassed, pumpkin," Shego pointed out.
"Is that what this is?" Kim moaned, scrubbing at her face with her palms.
"Well, I don't remember drinking until I blacked out, and I'm guessing you don't even know what that's like, so..."
One hand covering an eye, Kim looked at Shego's dark green silk attire with the other. "What are you wearing?"
"Pyjamas. Better than your bedroom attire," the green girl gestured at the teenager's T-shirt and sweatpants. "We were knocked out and brought here, and now we've got twenty-nine minutes to get out of the trap. We need to talk."
"Shego... shouldn't we be trying to escape instead of having a heart-to-heart?"
"No, you don't get it, that's what I'm talking about. We have to talk." Kim looked at her like she'd gone crazy. "Ugh... go look through that," Shego told her, pointing at the slit in the wall above Kim's head.
Groaning as her head complained at the fresh movement, Kim eased herself around to see the light coming through the wall above her. Struggling to her feet, she looked through the slit and took in the scene. "You two really should talk," she read aloud from the note on the desk. She looked back to Shego, who had eased herself into a sitting position across from her. "The Motivator?"
"Deceptively positive, isn't it?" Shego asked her with a crooked smile. "Rolls off the tongue easier than 'manipulator,' too. He also thought it represented his technological bent... the first Space Schisms movie? The red robot malfunctioned because of a bad motivator."
Kim slid back down the wall and sat facing the woman. "Another Go City supervillain? Sounds as silly as the Mathter."
"Oh, you ran into him, too, huh? Trust me; him, Aviarius... nothing compared to this guy."
"What is he, a mind control villain?"
"More of a persuader. You have to be suicidal for him to convince you to jump in front of a train or set yourself on fire... that's pretty much the problem. People can suck beyond belief and the Motivator exploits that. I mean, he's caused positive things too, but there's always a cost that someone has to pay."
Kim mulled over the possibilities. "I guess that's potentially dangerous..."
Shego's expression was surprisingly forthright. "Kimmie... I have a history with this guy. He was my nemesis when I was a hero. You know I was the only one in Team Go with a brain. He's the villain with the brain. Mad scientists and psychotics want to take over or destroy something, but Motivator prefers the personal touch."
"I dunno... what's the worst thing he could do?" Kim asked with a smirk, not resisting the opportunity to put down Shego.
"He can go online and convince a guy watching kiddie porn to start abusing his own kids."
Kim's shock was obvious. "W-what?"
"Then he can mess with the wife's head so that when she walks in on it a few months later, she joins in," Shego added, her sneer a cynical parody of the one Kim had just lost. Watching the shock on the redhead's face was delicious. "Careful Kimmie, if you get any paler someone might mistake you for me."
"He... he really did that?"
Shego shrugged. "Worst thing he ever did, technically... as far as I'm aware."
"Y'know, I could explain his motives, his ethics, give you his background... but we're talking about the same guy who currently has us in a deadly trap!"
Kim took a deep breath. "Okay... what's the sitch?"
Shego crossed her arms. "I triggered the voice-activated timer trying to wake you up, so there's microphones in here. That and the clue means the computer is listening, to both of us. There's probably even keywords it's waiting for, and the programming will be sophisticated enough to understand context." The woman's disgruntlement was obvious as she continued. "We need to have a conversation. For half an hour."
"Um... and if we fail?" Kiim asked.
"Most likely, this wall I'm leaning against will end up on your side of the room and crush us to death."
"Like the trash-crusher scene." Kim wasn't a fan of science fiction, but her association with Ron meant she had been exposed to most of the classics... and the story of that movie could have worked without the sci-fi angle.
"Yup. If it comes to that, I suggest we put our hands through the slit so they have a way to identify our bodies."
The redhead sighed. "No. You were right, we're just going to have to talk."
"Really? Because I could go either way."
The corner of Kim's mouth tweaked upward, despite the situation. "Cheap shot, Shego. We both know you're a survivor. You seriously think that if we just sit here talking, and say all the right things, the countdown stops and a secret door will open?"
"Oh, it won't stop. We're stuck with the allotted time, no matter what. Giving us a chance to escape is a given, but this is his equivelant of telling us his plan while we're languishing in his dungeon."
"Some dungeon," Kim admitted, looking about the room.
"Is this stuff what I think it is?" Shego asked, tapping at the panel on which she sat.
"If you think it's the superalloy they use to make the new spacecraft, like the latest Kepler, I think you're right. So you can't blow us out of here, can you?"
Shego scowled. "I bet it would ricochet, again like the damn trash-crusher." She watched the girl look up to the ceiling.
"What's with the mood lighting?"
"Haven't figured that bit out, yet."
"The Motivator... he put all this together himself?"
"Must have." A puase. "Usually did."
"So... why is the ceiling so high? Why indirect, yellow light? I mean, if nothing in here is random..."
"He obviously doesn't want us reaching the ceiling. The light fixture could provide a means of escap-" Shego's eyes widened in realisation as she looked back to the ceiling itself. "Oh, he wouldn't. He wouldn't put me in here with you and..."
"What kind of sound is that light making, to you?"
Kim listened a moment. "I'm not sure, but I know it's not a fluorescant light."
Furious now, Shego rose to her feet, one hand bursting into green flame. Then she declared, "Son of a bitch!" and let her signature power fade. "He'll have boobytrapped the damn thing just like he must have boobytrapped the computer. I can't risk blasting it! Damn!"
"What's the big deal with the light?" Kim asked.
"I told you he had a technical bent," Shego growled. "It might interest you to know that it was the Motivator who invented the truth ray."