DISCLAIMER: nothing belongs to me if you've seen it on TV. Soundtrack for this chapter: Hall of the Mountain Grill by Hawkwind; Planetfall by Litmus; We Came Too Late by DarXtar.
Her name was Kim Possible, and she could do anything: escape death traps, overcome lethal robots, parasail one hundred miles across open ocean, and perform a perfect scorpion at the peak of a cheerleader pyramid. When Ron had dragged her to see The Helix Repetitions, she'd been bored by the hero's bullet-dodging stunts, a simple feat for a teenage girl who could and did dodge laser beams. The digital cybervillain Agent Jones hadn't seemed much of a menace, either, when compared to Professor Dementor, Monkey Fist and the ever-dangerous team of Drakken and Shego; real menaces, all of whom she'd faced and defeated. More than once.
The next weekend, after finishing their homework and preventing DNAmy from fusing the entire Columbus Zoo into one cute and cuddly supermonster, she'd persuaded Ron to watch the historical drama Sense Insensibility with her, and actually got him to confess, however grudgingly, that it was the better of the two movies. A practically impossible feat, as anyone who knew Ron Stoppable would readily admit. But her name was Kim Possible, and she could do anything.
She was on the outskirts of Middleton and she was furious. "RON!"
"It – it's not so bad, Kim, really." Her boyfriend darted around the other side of the Sloth, trying to stay out of arm's reach. He'd been doing that since she arrived. "It's just a little bit wrecked, is all."
Her remarkable vehicle lay in a ditch, fenders crumpled, tires splayed, windshield nonexistent. The powerful engines normally concealed in the trunk jutted out at odd angles, still spluttering.
Tired of Ron's antics, she vaulted over the car, advanced on him in rage. "I let you borrow it one time – one time! – and now this!"
Pinned between her and the Sloth, he threw his hands up, cried out: "No hitting no hitting no hitting!"
Curious about the uproar, Ron's naked mole rat Rufus popped out of his shirt pocket,squealed in panic and pantomimed the same motions. The absurd display somehow defused her anger.
" I'm not Shego, Ron. I don't hit."
He warily lowered his hands. "Just erring on the side of caution, KP."
Rufus chattered his relief, ducked back out of sight.
She looked over the damage, and her irritation turned to dismay. "It's totaled."
"That's why you have insurance," Ron helpfully announced. "Have you ever seen those commercials? The ones with the evil guy in the suit and tie? He's like, you know, Chaos or something. They're hilarious. 'I'm a charging rhino –'"
"I've only got liability. Club Banana wages don't go far enough for full coverage."
"So…liability doesn't pay to fix your car?" He had a notepad out, scribbling furiously. "Good information to know. Got anything else?"
She growled. "Do you have insurance, Ron?"
He hastily put the pad and pen away. Sometimes he saw more of Shego in his girlfriend than he cared to admit.
She walked around the car again, determined not to start crying. "What am I gonna do? When Mom and Dad find out, they'll go into orbit." They'd warned her not to let Ron behind the wheel. The conversation flashed through her mind, not improving her mood a molecule:
"Honey," her mother had cautiously begun, over breakfast, "don't take this the wrong way. We love Ron."
"Just like a son to us," Mr. Dr. P had interjected, not looking up from the latest issue of Missile Monthly. "Look at that! Vernon finally got that crate off the ground! Hmmm…aniline and nitric acid. Well, there's no denying the classics."
"Like we were saying, Kimmie, we love Ron, but there are some things he just shouldn't be doing. Not till he, ah, matures a little more."
She had finally realized where this was going. Sometimes her parents were annoyingly cryptic. "Oh, I understand. He's done with water polo, really." That had stopped just short of an international incident. The Serbian prime minister had been particularly incensed. "It was just a lark."
Her mother sighed. "Not so much the water polo thing, Kim."
Her father put down the magazine. "We heard that you let him drive your car last week."
"Dad, I had to. The Kepler was out of control and breaking threshold speed. I had to board it and shut it down." The improbable team of Motor Ed and Shego had been behind that caper; they were still at large, something that irritated her. Leaving loose ends wasn't her style.
"Runaway rocket cars are the exception, not the rule. What about coming home from school last Friday?"
"I – I was texting Monique about something. It was just for a few blocks. I mean, you wouldn't want me texting behind the wheel, right?" A sheepish, innocent smile. Inside she was smouldering. They'd passed Bonnie at a red light; undoubtedly the snitch had turned her in.
Her parents' features were hard as flint. " Ron doesn't have a license," intoned Mr. Dr. P.
"I do. And he's got a learner's. He can drive if a licensed driver's with him."
"Legally, that may be true, but don't you ride with him," her mother said. " We heard about poor George Bugatti." Ron's attempt at Driver's Ed had ended with Mr. Bugatti's nervous breakdown. One more class for Coach Barkin to teach.
"But he's trying –"
Her father was adamant. "We're glad he's trying. But until he succeeds, don't let him drive. That's all we're saying. He's got his scooter and that's sufficient."
But the scooter broke down the day of the Fearless Ferret Fan Convention, and Ron had begged and pleaded and even used the Puppy Dog Pout on her, promising that the car would be all right. No one would ever know.
And she'd given in.
"Maybe we can fix it," Ron suggested.
Kim made a sound somewhere between a sigh and a derisive laugh. "Have you been to automotive school? I haven't. And we sure couldn't fix it to begin with. Had to call in the Tweebs."
"Make another deal with them, then." He was trying to push a shattered headlight back into its bent socket. "After all, they built it, more or less." A second later he jumped back with a yelp, waving his pinched thumb in the air.
"They're at that science camp."
He was still nursing his wound. "Not Lake Wannaweep, I hope."
"No. Some place safer." Safer until they got there, she thought, imagining rockets flying through the cabins. "For a month." The grim nature of the sitch suddenly came into focus. "I'm looking at a whole month… without wheels."
"You'll have wheels, Kim. My scooter'll be fixed in a couple of days."
"Yeah. Spankin'." The tone of her voice was cutting, but she didn't care.
"The guys at that new garage in Upperton can fix anything."
"Wait a minute. What new garage?"
Connor blurted an oath when the phone rang; he was beginning to wonder if he'd ever get the new exhaust system on the Mayor's Porsche. "Y'ello, Auto Doctors," he said, politely. The Boss was watching him. The chick on the phone was pretty distraught, but he tried to play it cool. "Yeah… uh huh… Could be a while. Could be a coupla weeks. We're booked solid."
The Boss saw Connor's eyes go wide. Was this the chance he'd been waiting, hoping, praying for? They were running out of time.
"Solid propellant, or aniline and nitric acid?" There was a pause. "Lemme put you on hold a minute." Connor motioned to the Boss. "It's her, Boss, it's Possible. Her car's on the fritz. Sounds like it's a wreck."
"Is it the car?"
"Pretty sure it's the car, Boss. She's asking if we know anything about rocket engines."
"And we do, man. We do." Motor Ed grinned a great toothy grin. "This is it, man. This is the gift of the gods. Seriously." He spun around, wailed an ancient Hawkwind riff on the air guitar.
"So, uh, so what do we do?"
"Tell her we'll come and get it. Tell her it's on the house. Make up some craptastic story, something about it's our pleasure, dig? You're good with the words, Connor. Seriously. That's why you're our Dedicated Phone Man. "
"Yeah." Connor smiled. "I'll butter her up."
"Butter's not good enough . Oleo her, man. Oleo. Make it sound real. Give it the ring of truth. Seriously. The ring of truth."
Wearing a sinister sneer, Connor returned to the phone. The Boss was a good guy to work for. He'd been weirding out ever since he went on that three-day vacation, but he did, at least, respect a man's talents. "Y'ello…Miss Possible? Yeah, you, uh, you're our 400th caller." He looked to his Boss for reassurance; Ed gave him the thumbs-up. "The whole fix is on us. Tow truck and all. It's the contest, you know, you probably heard about it on the radio. 400th caller gets a once-over free."
A moment later, Kim put the cellphone down in astonishment. "I won the contest."
"The one on the radio, I guess. They'll fix it for nothing. 400th caller." She was still slightly stunned.
"Gift of the gods, KP – gift of the gods."
Motor Ed stood before the tow truck, giving final instructions. "Make it all good, man. Give Red a ride home, if she needs it. Dig? I want everything smooth as the neon finish on a brand-new Superbird. Seriously."
The truck pulled out, rattled off down the street, heading for the highway.
"So what are we gonna do with it, Boss?" Connor asked. "You been talkin' about it ever since we opened this garage. What's the caper?"
"No caper, man." Motor Ed was checking the wall calendar, a strangely relieved expression on his hirsute face. "We're gonna save the world."