Balloons, Bolts and a Battle

Part Fifteen: Where Do We Go From Here?

Author's Comments: As this story winds up (for the time being) I'd like to thank Scott Simerlein of the LaPorte, Indiana, Wordcrafters for his extensive feedback, suggestions and assistance, especially with spelling and punctuation. Mark Lungo for providing assorted comments and suggestions. And the many folks who have read this story and posted comments about it. Thank you, one and all!

Now, Kim, Ron, Rufus, the Doctor and K-9 are ready to continue their search, but there is also the matter of who these two intruders are, and how they almost got into the TARDIS. And just where is the Empath going with the TARDIS he stole? However, Kim Possible is on the sitch, and "Anything is possible, for a Possible," isn't it?

Read on . . .

Kim swept her gaze around the inside of the smoke-house, but there was no sign of

anyone else there. Ron came through the door behind her and stopped abruptly. Rufus

looked out of his pocket and gave a yelp. But the Doctor merely shook his head and called

into the TARDIS.

"Are you all right, K-9?"

The answer came at once. "Yes, Master. The intruders have been neutralized."

"Very good. Ronald, Kimberly and I will be coming in now." The time lord stepped over

the two limp figures and into the TARDIS, followed by Kim and then Ron. Once inside they

saw K-9 resting at one side of the console, facing the door. Kim checked the two men on the

floor and found that they were both breathing quietly and totally relaxed, as though they were

deeply asleep.

"When did these two try to enter, K-9?"

"Fifty-seven minutes and 45 seconds ago, Master. As per your orders I was in position

and ready for any intruders and stunned them when they attempted to enter."

"These are the same Union soldiers we met two days ago when we first came here,

Ron," Kim remarked as she studied the two men's faces.

"Yeah, you're right, KP. Maybe they were looking for some smoked meat for their

lunch," Ron commented. "They were probably doing that the first time we met them, too. But

how did they unlock the TARDIS's door, anyway?"

"Good question, Ron." Kim looked up with an annoyed expression. "You did lock the

door of the TARDIS when we left, didn't you, Doctor?"

The time lord was indignant. "Of course I did! At least, I'm sure that I meant to, and

I think that I remember . . . "

Kim gave a sigh. "K-9?"

"The door was not locked, Mistress Kimberly."

The Doctor frowned in annoyance.

"At least his pants didn't fall down," Ron remarked softly to Rufus, who promptly stifled

a mole rat's laugh by ducking down into his special pocket.

"But even if the TARDIS wasn't locked, how did these two get into the smoke-house?"

Kim went on. "They wouldn't unlock the door, come in and lock it behind them again, would

they?"

"Good point," Ron agreed. "Maybe this place has a back door."

"Let's just see." Kim stepped over the unconscious soldiers again and back into the

smoke-house. Ron and the Doctor followed her in time to hear her say, "Here it is, guys!

Take a look."

The Doctor and Ron followed the sound of Kim's voice around the TARDIS to the back

of the building. There was about three feet of clearance between the rear of the TARDIS and

the inside of the smoke-house wall. Several boards had been pulled away from the back wall

to leave a hole to the outside about two feet high and three feet wide at floor level. Kim went

down on her knees to examine the opening, and then glanced up at Ron and the Doctor.

"These breaks are fresh, and here's a crowbar of some kind. You were right, Ron.

They probably broke in to see if they could find some smoked meat to add to their rations, saw

the TARDIS and tried its door."

"And K-9 zapped 'em when they stepped into it," Ron added. "He's one smart dog,

Doctor!"

"Well, yes, I know that, Ronald. It's nice of you to say so." The Doctor hesitated for a

moment. "You should tell him that; I'm sure he'd appreciate it."

The Doctor straightened up. "Now, let's move those two soldiers outside so we can

take our departure." They walked back to the front of the TARDIS where Kim and Ron picked

up one of the unconscious men. With some effort the Doctor picked up the second man, and

then called to K-9.

"There's a hole in the back wall of this smoke-house, K-9. Please keep it under

observation while we dispose of these two, and if anyone else tries to use that hole, stun

them, won't you?"

"Affirmative, Master."

Kim looked back to see K-9 come out of the TARDIS and head around it to the back of

the building. Then she and Ron followed the Doctor's lead as they carried the soldiers through

the trees until they reached the edge of the grove. After they had propped both men up

against a tree stump Ron asked, "How long will they be 'out,' Dude? And will they have

headaches when they wake up?"

"About another hour, and no, they won't, Ronald," the Doctor replied. "They may not

even remember what happened to them, either."

"Even if they do remember, they might not believe it really happened," Kim said

thoughtfully. "Especially if they saw K-9 before he stunned them."

"Yeah. Who'd believe a machine could move around, talk, and shoot at you, during the

Civil War?" Ron remarked.

"Actually, Ronald, mechanical devices that could duplicate the action of living things go

back a long way," the Doctor explained as they walked back to the smoke-house. "In 400 B.C.

Archytas of Tarentum constructed a wooden bird in the form of a dove, which could fly." He

paused at the door and mused, "I've been meaning to check up on that for some time, now."

"All aboard, K-9!" At the Doctor's call, the canine computer came around to the door of

the TARDIS and went in, followed by Kim and Ron. The Doctor resumed speaking as he

entered.

"During the eighteenth century a considerable number of such creatures were built by

various mechanically adept individuals," he continued. "In 1738 Jacques Vaucanson built a

life-size mechanical duck that would quack, preen itself, stand up, sit down, move its wings,

eat and drink exactly like a real one." As he closed the door of the TARDIS he grinned at K-9

and the two teens. "If Thomas Jefferson or Abraham Lincoln were to meet K-9 they'd probably

just say something like, 'Fascinating! What will they think of next?'"

"Getting back to the subject, Doctor, where do you think the Empath has gone with the

stolen TARDIS?" Kim asked.

"Yeah," Ron added. "How can we find him this time?"

"We'll use that list of dates and places in American history that you recovered from his

lair, Kimberly. Each one is the place and time of an historic battle; the sort of places you'd

expect to find lots of emotional stress and tension ― which is just what he wants, remember?"

"But how do we know which one he's going to?" Kim replied. "And what were those

places and dates, anyway?"

The Doctor pulled the piece of paper that Kim had found in the Empath's cabin out of his

pocket and studied it for a moment. "The Battle of Fair Oaks, of course. Then the siege of the

Alamo in San Antonio, Texas . . . the siege of Fort McHenry , , , the Battle of Bladensburg

. . . and finally, the Battle of Cowpens, during your American Revolution."

"Pick a battle . . . any battle," Ron remarked in a disspirited voice. "He could hop all over

the place."

"Yes, Doctor, suppose we stop at the Alamo while he goes to Fort McHenry? We could

hop around for ages and still never catch him," Kim said in exasperation.

"It's really simple, Kimberly. The TARDIS can do a quick pass through the time period of

each event on the list, and if another TARDIS is there ― even for only a few seconds, mind

you! ― we'll know it." He grinned at them all. "And once we know the Empath has landed

somewhere and somewhen, we'll know just when and where we should land, you see?"

"Wow! You can do all that?" Ron ran a wondering gaze over the TARDIS control

console.

The Doctor shrugged. "Oh, I just tell the TARDIS what needs to be done, and she

handles the details." He patted the console gently. "She always knows what to do."

"Dude, it's just a machine!" Ron protested.

"Ronald, you and Kimberly rely on Rufus for help in tight spots, don't you?" The Doctor

smiled in a way that reminded Kim of how Ron looked when he had a big piece of double-

cheese pizza to eat.

"Yeah!" Rufus made an indignant sound and then chattered rapidly to K-9.

"Master Ronald, Rufus wants me to remind you of the number of times he has turned off

a machine of Doctor Drakken's and made your mission successful." The robot computer's

voice sounded normal, but Kim had a distinct feeling that K-9 was being facetious.

"Okay! Okay, I surrender," Ron held up both hands. Then he glanced at Kim and

shrugged.

"So, where do we search first, Doctor?" Kim asked, in her 'mission mode' voice.

"We'll take the list in order, so our first sweep will be at the Alamo, San Antonio, Texas,

in early March of 1836." He frowned in thought for a moment. "That's when the American

settlers in Texas were in revolt against the Mexican authorities."

"Say . . . maybe we can get some tacos while we're there," Ron remarked hopefully.

"I don't think we'll have time to look for tacos, Ron," Kim said absently as she watched

the Doctor setting the controls on the console.

.

Ron gave his pet a sad look. "No tacos, Rufus," the teen sighed.

As if Ron's sigh had been the signal for it, a loud sound shook the TARDIS and it

immediately began making its 'wheeze-woosh' sound. The Doctor hung on to the console,

and Kim managed to keep her balance, but Ron fell on his back and Rufus gave a squeak of

surprise. As the boy sat up with a bewildered look on his face the 'wheeze-woosh' sound

ceased and the central column of the control console stopped moving.

"What was that?" Kim exclaimed as she gave her partner a hand up. "Are you all right,

Ron?"

"I'm okay. Rufus? How about you?" A cheerful squeak answered him, and the mole rat

scrambled up to sit on Ron's right shoulder.

The Doctor flipped a switch and the outside viewscreen lit up. They all stared in surprise

at the shattered walls of the smoke-house, which was now about twenty feet away from the

TARDIS.

"I believe a 'bolt' from a Confederate gun that was aimed at Professor Lowe's balloon has

overshot the target and struck the smoke-house," the time lord remarked. "The HADS

dematerialized the TARDIS, moved it out of the building, and then rematerialized it.

Hmmm . . . " He tapped several switches and dials. "There's no sign of an explosion, but the

solid projectile certainly did the smoke-house no good at all!"

"Great!" Ron groused. "They can't hit a big observation balloon, but they sure can pick

off any smoke-house in the neighborhood."

"What about those two men we carried to the edge of the woods?" Kim asked with some

concern. "Do you think they're all right?"

"Scanning for that now, Kimberly . . . yes, there was no explosion, and their life-readings

are normal."

Ron scratched his head in thought. "Why does the Confederate Army take time to shoot

at a balloon when they've got a battle to fight?"

"From that balloon Professor Lowe is telegraphing reports of the Confederate movements

to Union Army headquarters," the Doctor explained. "That makes it possible for General

McClellan to order troops and artillery to move to any point under attack as soon as the attack

begins." He snapped a control switch and looked at Kim. "By finding a way to quickly transfer

that hydrogen from the small balloon to the large one, you have helped to prevent a defeat of

the Union forces, Kimberly."

"All I did was suggest using that kettle as a pipe. Professor Lowe would have thought of

it sooner or later," Kim protested.

"But it was sooner, because of your timely suggestion," the Doctor replied. "Do you

remember how Professor Lowe said observation time right then was worth a million dollars a

minute?" He grinned at Kim and Ron. "You may have saved fifty million or so by thinking of

that kettle."

Kim considered the matter for a moment and then shrugged. "No big, Doctor; that's what

I do."

"Well, if we meet another such situation I hope you keep on doing it," the Doctor

commented. "Anyway, here we go!"

The Doctor tapped two switches and then moved a handle on the controls. The 'wheeze-

woosh' sound started again, and the central pillar of the console began steadily moving up and

down. "Next stop, The Alamo!"

Ron looked at Rufus on his shoulder. "Brace yourself, buddy. Here we go again!"

Instead of answering, Rufus stared at the door that let to the rest of the inside of the

TARDIS. Then he began chattering rapidly while tugging on Ron's collar and pointing at the

inner door.

K-9 wheeled around to face the inside door and called out, "Warning, Master! Intruder

alert!"

Kim turned toward the door and dropped in to a combat stance.

The door to the rest of the TARDIS swung open and Oscar Diggs walked in, wearing a

look of astonishment.

"This place is amazing!" the boy said in an awe-struck voice. "It's lots bigger on the

inside than it is on the outside. And, what was that bump I felt?"

There was a moment of total silence before the Doctor gave a sigh. "Well, K-9, we've got

another one."

"Affirmative, Master."

Kim exchanged a look with Ron that mixed dismay and amusement.

"Well, it happened before, KP," Ron shrugged. Kim nodded in reply and then turned to

the time lord.

"What now, Doctor? Go back and return Oscar to 1862 and the Civil War?"

"I'm afraid we can't do that, Kimberly. Once it has dematerialized and started on a trip

this model TARDIS has to materialize someplace before a return journey can be made." The

Doctor frowned as he spoke..

"Oh; it can't make a U-turn, then?"

"No, Ronald, it can't." For a moment the only sound was the 'wheeze-whoosh' coming

from the central pillar as it rose and fell.

"He isn't really your uncle, is he, Miss Kim?" Oscar asked innocently.

The Doctor gazed at the boy with a mixture of respect and annoyance. "Why do you say

that, Oscar?"

"Miss Kim called you 'Doctor' instead of 'uncle,'" Oscar explained. "But I thought there

was something odd going on, ever since yesterday."

"Oops!" Kim, Ron and Rufus chorused.

"Well, you're right," the Doctor admitted. "They got on board without my knowing until it

was too late. Just like you," the Doctor added. "Now you'll have to come with us until I can

spare the time to take you back to the year and place where you belong."

"You mean this box is a traveling machine of some kind? And we're going somewhere

now?" Oscar's eyes widened with surprise.

"It is. And we are. But just now I'd really like to know how you got in here without a

certain someone seeing you." The Doctor gave K-9 a stern look as he spoke.

"Anything is possible when a Possible is concerned, Master."

Rufus muffled a giggle, Ron grinned and Kim smiled. "I'll sort it out, Doctor, and find

out how Oscar got in without being seen. Will it be all right if we use the breakfast room?"

The Doctor gave a sigh, and nodded. "Go right ahead, Kimberly."

As she led Ron and Oscar through the inner door, Kim began, "You see, Oscar, Ron and

I live in a place called Middleton, in Colorado, and we were running to get indoors before we

got caught in the rain . . . "

The End - For Now . . .

Author's Disclaimer and Notes:

The Disney Company owns the Kim Possible concept and characters.

The British Broadcasting Corporation owns the Doctor Who concept.

The term TARDIS is also copyright by the BBC.

The plot of this story is my responsibility.

Vaucanson's mechanical duck is only one example of the various machines that were built in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to duplicate the action of a living thing. In 1774 a Swiss inventor built a 'Lady Musician' that could actually play five different tunes on a harpsicord. It was not done by a music box; the figure really did play the instrument. The owners of these 'automata' would often go on a tour and demonstrate their devices in special exhibitions to a paying audience. During the nineteenth century such events were frequent in both Europe and in the Unted States.

The HADS — Hostile Action Displacement System — is a device that will dematerialize a TARDIS if it comes under direct attack, and then rematerialize it in a safe place..

So Kim, Ron, Rufus and the Doctor know the places they have to look to find the Empath and the stolen TARDIS, but just which one will their quarry go to? Will he effect the Earth's history somehow? What's more they now have a stowaway on board! How and why did Oscar Diggs get into the TARDIS? How will this effect the operation? All these questions will be answered in the next (and final) tale in this story arc . . . but you will have to wait a while until it is written.