A Kim Possible Story
Chapter 3 ...
I stared at the machine sitting in the center of our latest underground lair. It was glowing and twisting in on itself in a not at all normal way. Blue and green and red light it gave off, in rotating colors. It was, perhaps, the prettiest machine Drakken had ever created. I was a little surprised.
"You... made this?" I asked. "You've been taking correspondence classes or something?"
Drakken did his best at a cackle. After all these years he was starting to get somewhat good at it. "Oh, yes, it was quite an effort."
"And it works?" I asked, because... well, I always did. You can never be certain with Drakken.
"It does, I'm quite confident," he grinned widely.
The better part of a decade ago I would have compared him to a child with a new toy. The eagerness was still there now, but the years had turned it somewhat more perverse. His darker eyes, the lines across his face and mouth, it seemed much more sinister than it once did. Less a boy with a treat and more the teenager who'd captured a fly he intended to gleefully pluck the wings off of.
I questioned again what I was doing here and whether it was worth it.
"What's it do?" That was less of a common question, but the device was so... out of step with Drakken's normal M.O. I just had to ask.
"It'll make us kings," he said, waggling his eyebrows.
"I'd prefer queen," I mused. "Maybe princess..."
"Yes," he wrung his hands. "Your 'princess' will try to stop us but I think this time even she will have her hands full."
"That's not what I..." I started, but the gave up. He wasn't really listening to me given how enraptured by the device he was. "What do you mean Princess will have her hands full? What are you planning?"
"You'll see," said Drakken, giggling. It was really disconcerting.
"I don't really like the whole 'shrouded in mystery' sort of schemes, you know," I said. "Last time it ended up with me being kicked into a radio tower during a lightning storm. I had bad hair for a month."
"Hmmm," said Drakken with a half-smile and a finger to his chin. "Is your hair normally frizzy?"
I reached up and ran my hands through my hair almost instinctively. It was it's normal, luxurious, wavy self. "No."
"Must have been the static electricity," said Drakken. "Perhaps I could devise a way to invert that effect, causing all hair to become straight over an area!" He began pacing. "I could make a fortune deploying to fashion shows. Either as a benefit or as ransom!"
"Uhh... okay," I said. "Doesn't really advance the cause of world domination, though."
"Drat," he spat and stopped pacing. He looked at the machine briefly. "What were we doing today?"
"You didn't tell me," I pointed out.
"Right! The secret secrets," he said. "Lets load this bad boy up and go flying." He began marching towards the hovercar. Just as I opened my mouth to protest he turned on his heel and pointed a finger at me. "Don't ask where. I'll give directions." He then turned back and marched away.
To say that was only the start of the oddities of that day is an understatement. I could even joke about it if it wasn't for what happened next.
Next? Of course that was Japan. If you think flying coach is bad, try it in an open air hovercar over the Pacific. Normally I would have taken my jet, but the... device didn't fit. Drakken also can't sit still to save his life.
I stared down at the churning sea just off the coast of one of Japan's southern islands. There was nothing particularly notable about the spot to my eyes. Just one point of ocean among any number of others, with just the dot of land on the horizon.
It was here he pointed his machine at the waves and fired it's colorful ray. There was nothing at first, and I couldn't have been blamed for thinking the device was defective. Then the waters began to boil.
It's a strange sight, to see the oceans boil. It was localized, cover the area directly beneath us and to a couple dozen feet in every direction. But I struggled to understand it. The ocean is moving. At any given point it's moving in any of three or more different directions at once. For that much water to be boiling at once, there had to be something incredibly hot happening beneath it.
I realized what it was when the black smoke began to rise up. Drakken quickly turned off his gun and hollered.
"Get us away!" he shouted, but I was already pulling the controls up and to the side. We had to put maximum distance between us and the site of the event if we were to get out unscathed.
We were only a quarter mile away when it erupted.
Lava exploded from the boiling water, flying in all directions, and emitting a shockwave of sound and pressure that flung the hovercar sideways before I could gain control again. As I clung to the panel in front of me I saw the emerging volcano grow rapidly. From a small hill to a tall peak in minutes. I couldn't believe the sight of it. I had just seen a volcano erupt from a few thousand feet away. It was still too close for comfort.
Once we were steady and flying back east as fast as the hovercar could carry us, I turned to Drakken.
"You just made a volcano!" I shouted. It was loud with the wind flying past, and the roar of the eruption was still echoing in my ears. But that wasn't why I was shouting.
"Not just one," said Drakken. He turned and pointed out back towards the volcano. His arm tracked slowly right towards the north. More smoke was sporadically emerging from the ocean.
He turned back to sit on the bench at the back of the hovercar. He smiled with a lopsided grin. "The tectonic disturbance will chain all the way up through the Volcano Islands and spread to the Bonin Islands."
"Are you out of your mind?" I shouted. "There are thousands of people on the Bonin islands!"
Drakken shrugged. "It shouldn't all be destroyed, just enough to keep Kim Possible busy."
I stared at him. "While we do... what?"
"Did you know what would happen to Japan?"
I looked up from hands and saw District Attorney Brock staring at me. I blinked a few times, surprised by the interruption. I turned to the judge for some sort of acknowledgement that he was allowed to even ask me questions at this stage. The judge, however, was staring at her computer screen. As usual.
I swallowed and turned my eyes back at Brock. "No," I admitted. "I don't even think Drakken knew. He thought it would all be a distraction for what he was planning in Middleton."
"So you contend that neither he nor you knew it would keep going until it reached Tokyo?" asked Brock.
I shook my head. "Absolutely not. Neither of us were geologists. And if I had any idea I would never have proceeded."
"But you did proceed," said Brock, and I noticed it wasn't at all a question.
"I did," I said. "And that's the guilt I'm pleading to. I knew whatever he was going to do was going to be devastating and I didn't stop him."
"So we should hold you accountable for the millions of dollars of damage to Japan's Ogasawara Islands and the billions already spent in recovery costs to the city of Tokyo?"
"You accepted the bargain," I said. "You can't go back on it unless the judge says so." I looked again at the judge, but she was still taking notes and keeping from making eye contact.
"That deal is contingent on you telling the truth of your involvement," said Brock. "And you're telling me you had no idea what that device would do to Middleton given that it caused a chain reaction of devastation and destruction across Japan?"
"I didn't see that!" I said firmly. "We left as soon as the first volcano established itself. And I had no idea that Drakken would go so far, he'd never committed mass murder before."
"You didn't think opening up a volcano in Middleton would kill people?" Brock said loudly.
"No!" I said. "That's the whole point! He's never gotten that far before. He screws up, or Kim Possible stops him. Or some other villain gets in the way. For years it's been that way. I had no idea it would go any further."
Brock stared at me evenly. "But it did," he said simply.
"Yeah," I said quietly. "It did."
"And you didn't stop him until after he'd fired the machine for a second time," said Brock.
I looked at my hands again. I didn't really want to think about it, but I had to make it through this testimony if this was going to end. "That's right."
"Tell us what you did."
My hands ached. More lies were going to come from my lips. Lies to cover up lies.
I'm so tired.
(Twelve hours earlier.)
I stared at Hego. I stared at him without interruption. Words came from his mouth and I continued to stare at him. He beckoned me back into Go Tower and I still I stared. We were sitting at their command center, across from each other, him in his chair, me in the chair that once belonged to Shego.
Or some Shego.
"What do you want to know?" asked Hego, calmly.
"What do you mean by 'Shego is not your sister'?" I said clearly and slowly.
Hego sighed and reached up to pull off his domino mask. He wiped his eyes gently, removing the black shadow on his eyelids, and then folded his hands on his lap.
"We were only a team for twenty months," he began. His voice was strained as he spoke. It had been that way since he was shouting out for 'Rose' in front of the tower. "It seemed like such a long time."
"Team Go has been around for years," I said.
Hego nodded to this contradiction. "It has, but it has been only in a diminished state. Me, Mego, the Wegos, we do an alright job, but we're only part of a family. We weren't whole without Shego."
I shook my head. I was sympathetic. I truly was. Losing Ron had been painful, and only throwing myself into every single request that came to the website helped dull the pain. The ache was distant now, but manageable. I could still do everything I did as a teenager.
It was just less fun.
"That doesn't explain anything," I said after my momentary reflection.
"I know," said Hego. "I just wanted you to understand that we were a team second. We were a family first." He shrugged. "An unusual family, even before the meteor, but still a loving, united family. Billy, you know as Mego, Joel and Richie, who became Wego, me - I was born as Hector - and Rose... my little sister."
The longing in Hego's voice almost heartbreaking. But I couldn't let myself be carried off in his reverie or there might be no end to this.
"And Rose became Shego," I said.
Hego nodded. "After the meteor fell, and I explained how we should use our powers to be superheroes, Rose took on the name Shego." He leaned forward towards me. "You have to understand, Kim, she was heart of our team."
"The heart?" I said with more skepticism than I intended. Hego winced slightly and I knew I had struck a nerve.
"She was the one who helped us organize, kept us grounded. She was the one who sought out the problems we could solve." Hego groaned. "While I've grown into being a leader, I can admit now that I wasn't very good at it back then. I was worried about the wrong things. Image. Branding. How the media reacted. How the mayor reacted. These things didn't matter to Rose, and she directed us to the needy. The trapped families. The burning fires. Helping with the blizzard that blanketed Go City that first year. I put our name out there, but it was Shego who helped it have meaning. The villains came later."
So much of this was familiar, I realized with a shock. I watched Hego describe the arc of his family's heroism and saw the same path in my own life. The simple helping hand at first. The one voice to answer when everyone else was afraid. The mundane things that grew less and less mundane.
"Twelve months in and we were standing here, on this artificial island, and breaking ground for a monument to our name. It was supposed to be a symbol of hope. That if people needed help, we would be there, you just had to look to the skyline." He frowned. "It was on that day, during that ceremony, that Hellpike first attacked."
Hellpike. A simple villain with a flair for demonic costumes and flaming lances. I remember reading about him. Dr. Lance Heidegger, former professor of mythology at University of Go City, former Olympic javelin contender. He was locked up for good even before I met Team Go for the first time. Still locked up, as far as I knew.
"We fought him off," continued Hego as he wrung his hands. "It wasn't hard for us, we were a good team, and used to working with each other by then. Nobody got seriously hurt, and I saw it as a grand display of our power. I couldn't have planned a better scene. I was excited. Mego was delighted.
"But not Rose," said Hego. He forced his hands to lay flat on the table. "She was all for the Tower until that day, then she turned completely around. She didn't want it to go up anymore. She wanted everything cancelled and for us to vanish back into hiding. Into obscurity."
"Why?" I asked.
"She said it didn't mean the same thing anymore," said Hego. "I was completely incapable of understanding that at the time. I thought she was scared. I was an idiot."
"She wasn't scared?"
Hego shook his head. "Not for her own life, or ours for that matter. She was scared for the city. When we started this, for her it was about helping people, about being the outstretched hand in a time of crisis. But Hellpike changed all of that in an instant. We wouldn't be seen as saviors anymore. We would be seen as a shield. Part of the city's defense."
I nodded. "She was worried people become reliant on you." I can't say that hasn't crossed my mind over the years either. I'm not really sure how I've avoided that, honestly. Maybe it was the knowledge that groups like Global Justice existed. There were others who could deal with villains, it didn't just have to be me. Though I never thought those things when I was high school.
Then again, I haven't even tried to quit. Yet.
"She was worried it would never end," said Hego. "Once you put up a defense you become responsible for it, and you take the blame on the day you decide to lower it. It becomes a cage."
"So she didn't want to do this forever," I concluded. "She wanted to get out."
"Not right away," said Hego. "She voiced her complaints but we were a family. She stuck with us. She was already a sort of defense for the rest of us, and she didn't want to abandon her first duty. But she wasn't excited about it anymore. It began to drag on her. I don't know if Mego or the Wegos noticed, but I did. I just didn't know what to do about it. My indecision put her in danger."
"What happened?" I asked.
Hego looked down at the green wedge of the table I was sitting in front of. "Mathter."
"The one who made a clone of Shego?" I said, recalling some the details from the trial. "Wait, that happened to Rose or the Shego I knew?"
Hego stared at with a strangely disbelieving look. I wasn't quite sure why. "What did I say?"
"Most of the time, Mathter's clones vanish after a half hour or so," Hego said, still giving me that look. "But this one didn't. So we had to figure out what to do with her. It looked like she was going to stick around for the long term."
"The Shego clone?" I asked. Hego nodded. "Shego said at trial that the clone was gone. Was she evil and have to be locked up? She probably would have gotten along swell with the Shego that I ... knew..." I stopped as I put together what he was saying. But the pieces refused to fit properly in my brain. It was too incomprehensible.
"Wait," I said, raising a hand. "What are you saying? You can't be serious."
"We offered her a place on the team," said Hego, continue on despite my questions. "We already had two Wegos, what harm could there be with two Shegos?"
"Are you telling me that Shego - the Shego that I know, that I've fought - isn't just not your sister..." I trailed off with my mouth hanging.
"We thought they were getting along," continued Hego. "They talked long into the night at this very table. Something had to have happened, though, because the next morning, there was only one." He looked me in the eyes. "And she remaining Shego said that she was the clone, and that the original - our sister - was dead."
"No way," I whispered.
"We accused her of being evil, and she readily agreed. She grabbed her costume and left." Hego grimaced. "We even tried to stop her, but... well, you know how Shego is."
I stood up immediately and stepped back from the table, reeling. That was impossible. Shego was a clone? And she killed the first Shego? All this time I've been fighting an evil clone of the real Shego? But... but...
I pointed towards the door. "Then who the hell did I just meet?!"
Hego turned and reached behind him towards the console attached to the large monitor overlooking the table. He pressed a few buttons and brought up a security access log for the front door palm reader. It scrolled through dozens of access attempts before reaching the bottom. The last entry on the list was from a few minutes earlier.
It said SHEGO - ACCESS AUTHORIZED.
"So... what does that mean?" I asked. My mouth was dry.
"It means it's either yet another clone of Shego," said Hego. "Or it was really Rose."
"And she didn't die?" I said. "Shego didn't actually kill her."
"If that was her," said Hego. "Then no. In fact, until last May, she'd never been responsible for anyone dying."
"Then... why did she tell you..." I started to say, but I trailed off. I started to think about what Rose - the one I met just earlier today - had said.
"I don't know," Hego shook his head. "I can't figure it out. Did Shego think that Rose was dead and didn't check? There was no body on the floor that day, so it would have had to be pretty convincing to fool her. But if she hadn't faked it... that meant Shego was in on it."
I was starting to tune Hego out as the conversation played through my head. Rose hadn't been angry with Shego at all, in fact she was worried about her. She seemed excessively worried about her, in fact, more than she should have been for someone on trial for killing hundreds.
"But why make us believe she died?" asked Hego. "And why come back just to turn around and leave without talking to us. Why only talk to you? Someone who never knew her before." He looked pleading as he turned towards me. "What did she say to you?"
What had she said? She talked about changing the game. About becoming evil intentionally. She talked about a plan. She talked about...
"She said it would be easy to save Shego from this trial," I said aloud.
Hego blinked. "What?"
I looked up to the security log still displayed on the monitor.
"I think she might be right," I said, piecing at least the last conversation together.
"Why would we want to save-" started Hego, but I turned away from him before he could finish. I started walking towards the door.
"I need to get back to the trial," I said quickly. "I'm sorry, but I have a very small window if I'm ever going to really understand this." I paused at the doorway and looked back. "And... I think I promised to take care of her."
I turned and ran and only was within earshot long enough to hear Hego say, "Take care of whom?"
Shego looked small. Smaller than she'd ever seemed. As a hero, as villain, as... whatever the people considered her now, she was always proud. Tall.
Not today. Today she was trying to vanish into the chair she was sitting on. It was a dramatically different posture from what she wore yesterday, even as she realized the origin of Drakken's device.
"There's no fault line near to Middleton," Shego said to the slimy District Attorney that was pacing behind the prosecution's desk. "Drakken said that it wouldn't cause the same effect as when we were near Japan. He didn't exactly say what he thought would happen, but the impression was that it would be less powerful or less significant in Middleton."
District Attorney Brock turned to glare at her. "But it was just as bad in the end."
Shego breathed very deliberately. I'd recognized that coping mechanism. She was trying very hard to control her emotions, whatever they might have been at this point.
"It was much worse than he imagined," said Shego. "Because he didn't really know enough about physics."
"And you do?" accused Brock.
"I do now," Shego admitted. "I've researched this considerably since... then." She adjusted her position in her chair and looked almost teacherly. "The sudden and rapid expansion of matter combined with increased mass at the center of the reaction and the fact that he fired at a concrete street where there was no room for growth... well, it heated up rapidly."
"Until...?" prompted Brock.
The muscles in Shego's cheeks flexed. "Until it exploded." She licked her lips nervously.
"A reaction that has been estimated to be equivalent to three kilotons of TNT," supplied Brock. He hadn't even referenced any of the papers on his desk. This was information he knew by heart.
"I guess," said Shego. "I hadn't heard that."
Nether had I. I wondered - not for the first time - if he was the one. I wish I had found the time to investigate more people, but I couldn't even narrow down the suspect list until the trial started, and Shego's attempt at martyrdom here had substantially shorted the window I had.
No, I'd have to leave things to Kim Possible. Which I was beginning to feel quite comfortable with.
"And then?" asked Brock.
Shego looked up at he ceiling of the courtroom as she spoke. I don't know if she was trying to avoid the any looks from the gallery, or if she was trying just to collect her thoughts.
"The shockwave threw us off our feet and only the hovercar's meager auto-balancing helped keep us from being tossed onto the streets," said Shego. "After that, Drakken was all babbling. He was confused, trying to work through the effects of the machine in his head to figure out what had happened. He expected to create a mountain I learned in his diatribe, but instead we had set off a bomb. He was trying to rationalize the effects when the first shots came our way."
Shego looked down again, but avoided the stares of the jury. "Local police had showed up and were trying to take down the hovercar while clearing people away from the fires and molten earth flowing through the street. Drakken's first instinct was to turn the machine on them." She shook her head. "Even after what we had done, he still wasn't even hesitant to turn that device on again. He claimed he could reduce the intensity of the beam and avoid an explosion, but he didn't even understand what had happened.
"No, after seeing that first explosion, I turned the hovercar and ran." Shego looked towards Brock. "Drakken objected, tried to stop me and turn back, but he's a housefly compared to me in strength, there was no hope." She growled slightly. "So he tasered me."
"He what?" asked Brock, sounding surprised.
"He had started carrying a taser a few years back, to help he fight off some of the minor threats," explained Shego. "Mostly the lesser agents of GJ while I was otherwise occupied defending him. I never expected him to have the balls to use it on me, though."
"So he used this taser on you, apparently without you noticing," summarized Brock. He appeared to completely disbelieve that Drakken had tasered Shego. I wondered why. It sounded plausible to me. Why would that minor point stick with him? The crux of the trial was already admitted to, the machine was used, and Shego didn't intervene until afterwards.
"Like I said," Shego replied. "I wasn't expecting it. So I ended up on my face while Drakken wrenched the controls back towards the destruction. He was going to go back and try to recover his plan. Maybe hold the city hostage or something. I don't know what he was thinking at that point. It didn't really matter. I couldn't bear to see that machine get used again."
"Alright," nodded Brock. He'd shifted his weight forward, like he was eager to hear what came next. "So how did you stop him?"
"I punched my fist through the motor compartment, with a little help from my Green," said Shego. "The hovercar couldn't keep itself up and crashed into the steeple of Holy Trinity before landing in the soccer fields behind it." She broadly gestured to the side. "No seatbelts in those things, as I said before. I was thrown almost twenty yards away. Got the wind knocked out of me. When I recovered I took off on foot to hide."
Brock waited a few moments, staring at Shego. His enthusiasm seemed to have dulled, like she'd just killed his pet. "Is that it?" he asked.
"Yes," said Shego.
"What happened to Drakken?" asked Brock.
"I don't know," said Shego with a shrug. "He was gone once I got air back into my lungs, I didn't spend time looking for him."
"Some bodyguard," grumbled Brock. Shego looked at him with surprise but said nothing. "And you haven't heard from him since?"
Shego shook her head.
"And you don't know where he might be?"
Again, Shego shook her head.
This time Brock mumbled something inaudible.
"Your honor, can we assume the district attorney is satisfied?" said Chester, the shorter of Shego's three lawyers from HenchCo.
Brock looked slightly angry but he nodded. "We'll accept this testimony."
Lloyd, the skinny lawyer sitting at Shego's defense turned and looked back into the galley. His eyes moved around until they settled on mine. He tipped his head slightly to the side.
I nodded back. Then reached into my purse for my makeup remover and wig. I quickly began rubbing my face with a cloth.
The judge nodded and looked up from her screen, finally appearing interested in what was going on in her courtroom. "Very well, we will break for-"
The judge looked towards Shego's lawyers, surprised. She blinked and tilted her head slightly towards the desk.
Lloyd had stood up and had his hands out before him. "If you don't mind, I'd like to ask one question of my client to clarify the her testimony."
The judge eyed Lloyd skeptically, and I wondered if she had seen HenchCo lawyers in her courtroom before and knew better than to let them speak unprompted. There were several seconds where I could hear my heart beating loudly in my ears.
Then the judge nodded. "Proceed," she said.
Lloyd walked in front of the desk and looked at Shego. She looked back with a combination of fear and anger, switching rapidly between the two.
I pulled my wig over my head.
"Shego," said Lloyd. "Do you believe that it is appropriate for you to take the blame for the actions of your clone?"
I stood up.
"What?" said Shego. "What are you talking about?"
"I said," repeated Lloyd. "If you feel you are to blame for something your clone does. Since your clone is just another version of you in a different location."
I moved towards the aisle. A couple of people I bumped into looked at me angrily. Then their eyes widened.
"What does that have to do with anything?" said Shego. She was frowning deeply. "Clones happen all the time, we just call them twins. They're independent people, responsible for their own fates. They deserve to be free from their twin."
Just as I was about to step directly into the open aisle leading up to the bench, someone grabbed my arm roughly and pulled me back. I grabbed their wrist in response and looked back, ready to convince a bailiff or reporter that it's not right to mess with me.
But instead I looked into intense green eyes below furrowed red brows. I was so startled my voice caught in my throat.
"Are you sure you want to do this?" whispered Kim Possible to me in urgent tones. "There's no going back. You won't be able to hide again."
I felt her strength through her words and gaze, felt her fingertips press into my forearm. She was even more powerful than I thought from our meeting at Go Tower. Her determination was a force to be reckoned with.
She was so much better suited to being a hero than I was. And a perfect match for my dear Shego.
"Wouldn't you do it?" I asked softly. "I took the cowards way out all those years ago, and she bore the burden on her own. I can't leave her alone now, when I can finally help."
Kim's expression softened, and she released my arm. Her stare continued but she didn't make any motion to stop me.
"So why are you trying to take credit for your clone now?" asked Lloyd to Shego.
"What?" Shego squawked.
I stepped into the aisle and put my hands on my hips, channeling my inner-Shego for the first time in nearly a decade.
"He's asking why you're testifying for things I did!" I shouted.
The entire courtroom turned to look at me. Everyone was surprised. Everyone except for Lloyd of course.
It didn't quite fit as well as it used to, but my green and black jumpsuit was comfortable. The black wig approximated Shego's hair where I had cut it short so long ago. And without my makeup, my green skin was quite prominent.
You could hear a pin drop in the courtroom.
Then Shego spoke, barely above a whisper. "Rose?"
Then the room exploded into activity as the galley turned and converged on me, the judge began banging her gavel loudly trying to restore order, and I felt Kim Possible step close to watch my back in case anyone else had surprises in store for this trial.
For the second time I was ushered back to my jail cell in a daze that I could barely recall. But this time I wasn't alone. As soon as the doors were locked and the bailiffs had left, I rushed up to the bars separating my cell from the adjacent one.
They weren't directly adjacent, so I couldn't reach inside. In fact my arm only reached about halfway of the distance between us. But I pressed my forehead against the bars and stretched out. Rose did the same and we could just barely touch our fingertips together.
She looked at me with a kind and peaceful smile that was completely at odds with how I was feeling right now. How could she be so calm? What in the world was she thinking?
I pulled my arm back inside and looked at her.
"Are you crazy?" I asked.
Rose laughed. "Probably. If so, it's a defect we both share." She smiled and looked at me with pride. "Did you mean what you said in there? Clones should have free and independent destinies?"
"Well, doy. But I'm a little biased in that matter," I said. "Being a clone."
Rose shrugged. "Who's to say which one of us is the clone?"
I rolled my eyes. "Oh, not this again," I said. "It's clear I'm the clone. You were standing when Mathter's beam hit us, and I was on the ground afterwards. I'm the divergence."
"I think you take a little bit of pride in being a clone," said Rose. "But, you know, I don't think we ever considered the idea, back then, that neither of us were the original. Maybe the original was destroyed and we are both copies of her."
"It doesn't matter, Rose," I said clearly. "It's long past mattering. One of us had to be the one responsible for the original's life and we chose you."
Rose shook her head. "I regret that, you know. I think I gave up too easily." She eyed me suspiciously. "And since you knew everything I did, I think you let me do that."
I sighed and stepped back to sit on the bench in my cell. "Of course I let you. We both were burdened by the life, we both wanted out of it. One of us was going to end up giving up more than the other and I decided it would be me."
"And I let you," said Rose softly. "That was our real divergence. And it shaped everything that came after."
I nodded. She wasn't wrong. I just don't see how it could have gone any differently.
I studied her. She had dressed up like me, but clearly didn't have the physique anymore. Not that she was flabby or frail, but she was just as bit thinner, with a sharper jaw.
"You look good," I said.
"I look like you," said Rose with a grin. "Do you compliment a mirror?"
"Dork," I said back. "And you don't look like me. You look like a version of me who had the luxury of living a real life instead of my insanity. I bet you even stair-climb."
"Jog," said Rose with a shake of her head. "Our thighs are big enough."
"Were you wearing makeup before?" I asked.
Rose nodded. "Covers up the green. I have to overdue it, though, to make it thick enough. I end up looking like I have a perpetual tan. Not a terrible look, but I was never really ashamed of our complexion." She shrugged. "I guess I don't have to anymore."
I ran my fingers through some of my hair. "Were you ashamed of our haircut? I can't believe you went all Mrs. Dr. P."
"Who?" said Rose. "I had to make myself look different than you. There were few choices if I wasn't going to have surgery."
"I get that, but did you have to cut off so much? And blonde? Ugh." I shook my head. "At least go red or something."
"Red... like your princess?" asked Rose.
I sighed. I didn't really have the years necessary to explain Kim Possible to Rose. I didn't try.
"I get what you see in her," she said. "We talked yesterday. She didn't know who I was. I guess she does now."
I looked at her skeptically. "You have only skimmed the surface, trust me."
"Why?" asked Rose with an raised eyebrow. "Have you plumbed her depths, then?"
I stared at her and forced my green skin to stay... well green. "Well, that was crass," I said instead.
"But not too off the mark it seems," Rose said with a growing smile. "I'd recognize that jaw clench anywhere."
I coughed. "So, what's going to happen to us next in your grand plan?"
"Grand plan?" said Rose. "Did I have one of those? I though you were the planner. I just do whatever comes to mind."
"Oh, so that's why you conspired with my lawyer to put on a show for the entire courtroom after I had to testify as to what happened on that day."
"There wasn't a good opportunity beforehand," said Rose with a shrug.
"Unbelievable," I said. "You've probably damned us both now."
"I don't think so," said Rose, leaning back against bars of her cell. "I think you're heading for a mistrial. And now that everyone knows about me, the DA will have a harder time trying to figure out which of us was the one with Drakken on that day. They won't be able to do that without some doubt, and if there's doubt, there's a chance a jury won't convict."
"So, a plea bargain," I said. "Not to burst your bubble, but that's exactly where I was yesterday."
"You had no leverage yesterday," said Rose. "Now - together - we'll be able to negotiate a better deal."
I sighed and rubbed my eyes. "I don't want a deal, Rose. I deserve to be punished."
"Not like this," said Rose. "I know it seems like everything you've done to control villainy has been undone by the countless people Drakken killed on your watch, but you couldn't have known. Just like Bueno Nacho, he kept you in the dark."
"And just like Bueno Nacho, it was worse than I imagined," I said. "I should have realized by now."
"Shego," said Rose. "Drakken killed those people, not you."
I shook my head. "Rose..." I wasn't sure how to even talk about this. "Even if I could explain away those people, they're not the only reason I deserve this."
I jerked the control stick to the side and leaned heavily. I saw Drakken tumble to the side as I rolled the hovercar up and over the devastation that damned machine made. Drakken was shouting something, but I couldn't care less. I felt cold and numb. That explosion leveled all the buildings in the surrounding six blocks. People died.
They DIED! And I let it happen. I had blood on my hands.
The hovercar shook violently as we passed over the destruction. What was left of the building was on fire, kicking up black smoke everywhere. If not for the GPS on the dash I'd have no idea where I was going. But at least it prevented those cops from shooting at us.
I looked down over the edge again. No, it wasn't just the buildings on fire. The earth itself was burning with molten stone.
"I thought you said it wouldn't make a volcano here!" I shouted over the sirens coming from all over. Police and fire trucks were racing about trying to find a place to fight the surging flames.
I could see ruined houses below. People's lives scattered between the flames. There were probably people down there too. Families. Children. Some already dead. Some sure to die from the smoke and fires. So many lives ruined...
Drakken tackled me around the waist and I fell as the hovercar struggled to remain level over the heated air. I reached over to grab at him but he was scrambling around like some mutant crab, staying out of my reach.
"What the hell, Dr. D?!" I shouted as I flipped around and then kicked him square in the chest. He rolled back and then quickly recovered, steadying himself on the tipping surface. He looked deranged.
"We have to go back!" he announced. "Defend our territory!"
"Territory?" I said, dumbfounded. "What territory? You destroyed everything! There's nothing to defend but a pile of ash and bodies!"
"There was some sort of pressure component I hadn't considered," said Drakken. "I'll get it right with the next shot and then we'll have a tower to defend. I've played enough of these types of games to know how to keep it safe from invaders."
I had no idea how to even process that. "You want to use that damn thing again?" I said. "You'll destroy everything! Hell, who even knows what's going on in Japan right now!"
"We can't back down now, Shego," said Drakken, reaching into his labcoat. He was staying out of my range and I didn't want to throw my plasma balls at him or I might ruin the hovercar. He pulled a silver taser from his pocket. That simple defense that I actually recommended he carry.
"This is nuts," I told him. I tried to approach him but he scrambled around to keep at maximum distance from me without falling off the hovercar. "What use is a tower surrounded by nothing but ruin?"
"Nobody will get close then," said Drakken. "And we can force the world to submit to me! If not, our machine will show them what happens if they refuse."
"No," I said loudly. "No. You destroy that machine before it has the chance to malfunction and destroy us."
"It has the power to force the world to our demands!"
"Destroy it or I will!" I yelled.
"I won't let you hold me back anymore!" said Drakken with a growl.
I staggered slightly from the hovercar's irregular movement. Or maybe it was because of something else.
"What?" I said, barely audible over the sirens.
"I know what you've been doing!" said Drakken, pointing a tiny clawed finger at me. "You've been sabotaging me! Pushing me down when I could have succeeded years ago!"
My eyes widened but Drakken continued.
"I thought it was just a coincidence! I convinced myself you were soft for Kim Possible! But it's been too long, too consistent! Kim Possible wasn't always there. But YOU were. You were at the source of my failures and the one time I got close enough I could almost taste it was when I hid everything about my plan from you!"
I felt like we were falling but the hovercar was actually managing to stay fairly stable, even though we were essentially flying over molten lava.
"So I tested you!" announced Drakken. "I developed this plan all on my own, without your voice in my ear. And look! Look how far we've gotten!"
I gazed at him in shock. "You... wanted this to happen? You planned this... ruin?"
"Well, the machine clearly needs some calibrations, but we're exactly where I wanted to be," said Drakken.
"How could you want this!?" I cried.
"I'm evil, Shego," Drakken said dismissively. "Please, keep up."
"Evil is perspective!" I said. "Evil doesn't exist. Everyone tries be a hero, they just do it in contrary ways!"
"Oh, please, there are plenty of us who know we're evil," said Drakken. He peeked over the edge of the hovercar to look at the devastation below. "Besides, the fire will clear away the old world in time for my new rule."
My god. Who have I been protecting all these years?
"This is the time, Shego!" announced Drakken. "I can forgive you but you have to choose now! Drop this delusion of being a hero and embrace villainy! Be my partner for real! Together the world will cower at our names! Grovel at our feet! March at our order! Pray to our visage!"
I felt my world crumble around me. Nothing was right anymore.
"Be who you've tried to convince the world you are!" said Drakken, reaching out a hand. "Be a villain with me!"
I stared at him in horror.
Drakken waited for a minute then lowered his hand. "Or just get out of my way."
I took one timid step forward.
Drakken raised an eyebrow. "Coming my way?"
The second step was a little easier.
Drakken's arm reached out again. "Let us ruin this world!"
The third and forth came quicker. Once I'd committed to the path, it was easier to follow.
"Come!" said Drakken pointing to the controls. "Turn us around and we will-"
But he didn't finish.
My hand sticking through his chest made it hard.
His eyes unfocused as she twitched on my arm. He looked to the blackened sky. With his dying breath he only said, "No."
My vision blurred. I think the tears were getting in the way. With a little effort, I flung Drakken's body over the edge and down towards the cooling lava below. His body vanished in a flare of fire.
I staggered over to the controls and pushed them away from the fire, towards the north. I planned on heading into the mountains.
But between my tears and the ash, I couldn't see the church steeple until it was too late.
The headline mocked me. So much planning, so many years in the works, all for nothing.
"Villainous Sidekick Avoids Death Penalty," said the paper. The article talked up the dramatic revelation of a still living clone and the circus that followed the declaration of a mis-trial after the clone made it clear Shego had been perjuring herself for a substantial portion of her testimony.
Then, inconceivably, she managed to win herself a plea for voluntary manslaughter with no treason charges and a sentence to be carried out in a specialized prison built by some espionage agency at an undisclosed location. Somehow, between the courthouse and the prison, the clone - Rose - managed to escape and vanish. Shego, however, arrived successfully, and was now under the best guard that private funding could buy.
Just like that, she was gone. Slipped from my fingers. I felt like I could go insane.
"Mathter," called out the prison guard. I got up and walked towards her into the isolated room. On the opposite side of the room another door then opened and a man was ushered in and sat down before me.
His arms were bound in chains which were locked to he floor.
I put my briefcase down.
"Mathter," I said to The Original.
"Mr. Brock," said The Original back to me. "I am disappointed to see you in these circumstances. I expected a much better outcome to the trial you chaired."
I glanced at the guard in the room standing by the door I came in. I looked at her forcefully. "Can I have some privacy with my client?" I said.
The guard frowned but then turned and knocked on the door. A moment later it was opened and she walked out.
I turned back to The Original and sighed, reaching up to rub my cheekbones. Even after five years the metal ached. The implants to change my face always became sore when I was tense and that was pretty much the state I'd been in for the last few weeks.
"Don't touch it, you'll only make it worse," said The Original.
"Don't get prissy with me," I snapped. "You think you've had it bad, I've been out here trying to orchestrate our revenge only to be screwed at the last minute by some bad information about Shego's clone."
"I hope you aren't intending to blame me for that," said The Original. "We were the same person when that happened. You have the same memories as me. If you forgot something, then I forget something."
"You seem pretty calm considering what happened," I pointed out.
"What would you have me do?" asked The Original. "You're the one with access, freedom of autonomy, a cushy job at the prosecutor's office. I'm just here to establish your alibi while you were talking with Drakken."
"This was your plan!" I shouted.
"It was our plan," said The Original. "I don't recall you ever objecting to it at our meetings before."
"We last met three years ago!" I said. "Three years of me living this life, acting like a proper man, doing my not-at-all-cushy job well enough to be elected District Attorney, all the while knowing it was a lie. I don't even know who I am anymore."
"You're The Copy," said The Original. "I would imagine you have the sense to realize that you wouldn't have anything at all without me."
I glared at the man in front of me. "I have the sense to realize that Shego was right. A clone does deserve a fate separate from his copy."
The Original narrowed his eyes. "I can make your life inexplicably difficult even from in here, so don't get any crazy ideas. Someday, someone will figure out who you are, and if you don't want me to speed that along any, you'll do what I tell you, Copy."
"Go ahead," I said, crossing my arms. "Considering what just happened to my case, I'd say the justice system is particularly well primed to listen to the pleas of clones right now."
"You'll end up in jail like me," said The Original.
"Probably not just like you," I said.
The Original tried to stare me down but I wasn't going to budge. He eventually looked away. I leaned back in my chair, pleased.
"What about our revenge?" said The Original, looking back at me.
"What does it matter?" I said. "So we got beat around a bit and thrown in jail for life. We're villains, we deserved it. We didn't plan well enough. If we had, we wouldn't have gotten caught so many times that they threw away the key."
"We deserved it?" asked The Original with a laugh at the end. "You really have been working hard at that job. Do you really believe that? That we owe any modicum of fairness to this system? We are above it. We will prove that."
"Perhaps we should prove it in a better way," I suggested.
The Original looked at me strangely. "Do you have a better plan?"
"No," I said instinctively. Then I considered. "Maybe."
"Let's hear it then," said The Original.
I leaned back in my chair. "You know I've overseen a number of cases involving villains over the years and as a result I've had an awful lot of interaction with someone who might be willing to do a lot for us if we were to give him just the right amount of equipment. Such as, say, the plans for a new calcu-laser."
The Original frowned. "Who?"
I smiled. "Jack Hench."
"The Vendor?" said The Original with disgust. "He's shrewd."
"He's rich," I said. "And money is the real power in this world. Big lasers and bombs are old world thinking."
The Original rubbed his chin for a minute. I wondered how it could take him so long to come to a decision. We had the same brain. We should reach the same conclusions, right?
"Tell me more," said The Original.
I was led into the apartment by an older Global Justice agent who then quietly backed out and locked the door behind him. It was a cozy place, with browns and reds decorating the walls and the furniture, a long glass coffee table between two chairs and a couch, a small kitchenette, and a large queen-sized bed on the other side of an archway in the bedroom.
And there was a sliding glass door that led out to a veranda overlooking the Swiss mountains. It was there that Shego was sitting on a bench, having her blood drawn by another GJ agent with blonde hair and wearing a white labcoat.
Shego nodded to me as I approached and held up a hand to wait. I did as suggested and studied the collection of DVDs on a shelf. It was filled with family fair, animated shows, and a few older action movies, including more than half of the James Bond collection. I wondered who picked these films out because it certainly wasn't Shego.
A minute later the GJ agent came in from the veranda and smiled as me before leaving through the door I entered in. She was carrying a white plastic case with her as she left.
I turned and headed out to sit on the veranda.
"This is nice," I said when Shego offered no conversation for almost three minutes.
"It's boring," replied Shego, curtly.
I smiled before I could stop myself.
"This place is straight out of an IKEA catalog it's so basic," said Shego. "I feel like I'm attending college."
"Did you ever attend college?" I asked. I'd never even bothered to wonder before.
"When would I have had the time for that?" Shego said. She rolled her eyes and turned look back out at the mountains.
"I tried to," I said. "Didn't finish. Not really a lot of ... consistently available time."
"That's what happens when you play the game," she said absently.
"How..." I started, but then stopped myself, wondering if the question was rude. Then I wondered if it mattered if it was rude. Then I wondered what exactly I was supposed to be doing here. Rose hadn't exactly made it clear what she expected from me.
"You get lost in there, pumpkin?"
I looked over to see Shego staring at me.
"Sorry," I said.
"Did you have something to ask?" said Shego.
"I... no," I said.
"No?" Shego sounded disappointed. "Sure?"
"Yes," I said.
"Fine." She shrugged, and turned to look at the mountains again.
A minute passed.
"You know, they've got safeguards here," said Shego. "The cameras are always watching me. They've got these lattices in the walls and floor that absorb my Green. Even these glass doors are shatterproof." She looked down over the edge. "There are even these force projectors that will grab anyone who tries to leave from the patio. Up, down, or out."
I nodded, unsure what to say about her cage.
"Yup, I could throw you right off this balcony and you'd be fine," said Shego. She looked at me with a grin. "Want to test it?"
"Uh, no," I said. "I would not like to be thrown from a balcony."
"Spoil-sport," said Shego. She didn't look disappointed, though.
I stared at her. "Why did you just tell me that?" I asked.
"Why?" She replied. "So you understand there's nothing I can do to you in here." She hesitated. "Nothing violent anyway." She looked a little awkward, almost like she was bashful. But that was impossible.
"So," she said after returning her posture to normal. "What were you going to ask before?"
I licked my lips and tired to figure out how to phrase it politely. "All this time, as Drakken's partner, and as an independent, how much were you... being you?"
"And how much was an act?" Shego said, completing my thought. She breathed out loudly and stood up. She walked slowly to one end of the balcony and then turned around. She leaned against the railing.
She held up a hand. "In some ways, none of it was an act," she said. "I did what I had to do to keep the villains in line. I know Rose explained some of this to you, so I won't repeat her. I chose to do what I did, and while I couldn't have walked away, I could have changed my attitude if I wanted to. I didn't."
She spread her arms. "So this is me, princess, the same Shego you've always known. I don't like ceremony, I hate fakers, and I have very little patience for idiocy."
She wrapped her arms around her sides. "In other ways, I've never let myself look back at who I was before, and so I've never been myself since that day." She looked to the side, into the sliding glass door. It was darker inside so it showed her reflection.
"I don't like ceremony because it reminds me of what I gave up. I don't like fakers because I was giving up all of my peace for the greater good and if others aren't doing at least that much I don't want to look at them. And I have been, for far too long, tolerating an idiot, who was smarter than he let on."
She looked down. "Now that both sides of me are exposed - even if only to you - I'm lost. Who am I? I have no idea anymore."
She turned away from her reflection and let her hands fall. "So now I have a question for you." She looked at me with a frown. "What are you doing here?"
I nodded, if only to acknowledge the question while I bought time to think. Why was I here? Only because Rose asked me to 'take care of her'? No. I think I would be here regardless.
Did I feel sorry for her? I'm not sure. I don't think that's quite the reason. She went through a hardship but she invited it on herself, and she built up the hammer that fell on her every day she fought me pretending to be - or actually being - a villain helping Drakken. No, she knew the cost to doing what she did, and she should have prepared herself for it. I don't feel sorry for her, or pity.
I guess, I respect her. Ever since learning about Rose and the choice Shego made to protect, a thought has been going through my head over and over again.
Would I do the same thing in her situation?
Have I done the same thing already?
"I don't think I have an easy answer for you," I said. I swallowed. "There have been times in my life - long periods of time, in fact - where I have been completely disconnected from the other people I know. Obviously Ron felt that way too. But even Wade can't see everything I do. My parents don't appreciate what I've dedicated my life to do, so they couldn't respect my decision to drop out of college. My friends... they get just a slice of my life and they think they know me. And over the years I've watched that slice get smaller and smaller."
"I have my regrets," I continued. "But I don't dwell on them. I made the choices I had to make at the times I made them. And while I could have wished to have led a more sane life, I don't imagine for a second that I would have been happier ignoring all this."
I stood up and walked over to Shego, getting just out of arms reach. I leaned to my side against the sliding glass door. "And there's you. You aren't a friend, you're mostly supposed to be my enemy, and you also really know just a slice of me. But there are times I see beyond the battles we've been in, the times between fights, the times after the fights are over and the lair hasn't blown up yet. In those times, I sometimes see in you... myself."
Shego's eyes widened at me and I turned slightly away to avoid her stare. I didn't want to feel that pressure on me.
"Rose said to me something," I said to Shego's reflection. "And she was only really guessing, but I wanted to know the truth. I wanted to hear it from you." I breathed slowly. "All those fights, some I brought to you, but others you brought to me. Why? Why was it me that you kept coming back to?"
Shego's reflection shifted her weight a little. After a moment, she even started to reach out a hand towards my shoulder, but then she stopped and retracted it, leaving it resting on her elbow. I was starting to think she wouldn't answer at all when she cleared her throat and opened her mouth.
"You could beat them," she said.
I turned, then, to watch her face as she spoke. If she was going to lie to me, I wanted to see it.
"GJ has some good days, and Team Go has some more," said Shego, looking straight into my eyes. "But Kim Possible always wins in the end. Who else could I ever trust to stop the villains I couldn't?"
Was that honesty? Or was I just seeing what I wanted to see?
I'm so tired. I really don't care anymore.
"I'm here because I think you're the only person I understand," I said. "And being here makes my life just a little bit more manageable."
Shego looked at me, seemingly frozen.
Then there was just a slight twitch of her lip downwards. Her eyes were wet.
"I... I killed Drakken," she said.
I nodded. I didn't know she had, but I could hardly say it mattered at this point.
"I understand," I said.
Then she broke down in tears. I went to her side to hold her as she sobbed.
We stood on the lawn in front of Go Tower as Mego pulled off his mask and became Billy again. He laid the material in the shoebox that I provided. My own mask was already lying in there.
"You sure about this?" asked the Wegos, each say half the sentence.
"Yeah," I said.
Then they smiled. And Joel and Richie were standing there, dropping their masks into the box. They pulled on their jackets, covering the red and black jumpsuits, and turned to look up at the tower.
"She was a good home," said Joel.
"For a while, anyway," said Richie.
Billy nodded. He pulled a sweater over his head and then stuck his hands in his pocket. "But it became a prison after a while," he said.
I nodded. "Not just for us," I said.
My brothers stood there, looking at the stone edifice. For once, I looked upon it and saw it for what it was. Just a building. One that had outlived its purpose.
"You understand the plan?" I asked.
"What little there is," said Billy with a nod.
"We separate," said Joel.
"We make new lives," said Richie.
"And we find out what it means to be... us," I said.
We all stood there a moment more. Then Billy sneezed. "You know, it is not exactly summer weather."
I laughed. We all did. Then, when the chuckles were over, I picked up the box and walked it over to the tower. The door was standing open, the power had been shut off by Richie over an hour ago. I threw the box into the opening.
"Ready?" I asked.
They all nodded.
I let the power of the meteorite flow through me, felt my muscles expand and become powerful. Then I turned and punched the foundation of the tower.
With a deafening crack the rock split open and spidered across the face. Another crack sounded as the weight began to push down on the weakened stone and foundation. Steel supports were crushed under weight they never expected to hold.
Then, as magnificently as it once stood, it fell, crumbling into itself.
I ran clear of the debris and made sure my brothers were protected from anything that flew out. It only took a few minutes for the dust to settle.
I turned, hugged each of my brothers in turn, and then we each got onto boats and sailed off in different directions.
My name is Hector. I have a gift. It's a power. It can be used as a weapon, or it can be used as a shield. The question, is how can I avoid it's overuse.
I wish I could have understood what Rose was telling me as a child. But I'm starting to get it.
I spent a long time trying to be a *super*hero.
Now I'm going to be just a hero.
** END **
I don't have much to say right now. Pouring 90% of this chapter out in a day kind of drained me. Maybe I'll update this section at a later date.
If you liked this, hated this, or just feel ambivalent about it, please leave a review so I know. Maybe next time I'll get better!