Kim Possible Fan Fiction ❯ The More Things Change... ❯ The More Things Change... Part 1 ( Chapter 1 )

[ A - All Readers ]

Kim Possible: The More Things Change…
Part 1
By Aaron
For any teenager starting college, no matter what school they go to or what classes they take, the first day always lends itself to an intense feeling of excitement and anticipation. And for those attending Middleton Community College, there was no exception. Between a humming campus with bustling students and buildings housing laboratories, classes, shops and gyms of every sort, it made one truly feel as though absolutely anything could happen. Of course, in the case of Kim Possible, “anything” was pretty much par for the course. Not to mention that Middleton Community College was going to be where Ron Stoppable's post secondary studies would be held, not hers. Still, as Kim stood at the gates, she was reminded of the thrill she had felt just a few hours before as she stepped onto her London university campus for the first time. And thinking about what Ron had to look forward to in just a few short moments, she felt that same thrill returning to her as she looked to the future with a bright optimism and wondered just what might lay ahead in this new chapter of their lives.
“Come on Ron. I hate to rush you, but I have to be back at classes in 45 minutes…Ron?” Kim looked over her shoulder to see only a crowd of strangers unloading from the campus bus just in front of her car. Perplexed, her eyes scanned the immediate area for any trace of him. That is, until Ron slid past her through the gates, nearly spiraling her over!
“Oh yeah! MCC!” He announced boldly, stretching his arms and breathing deeply to take in the whole experience, “I'm here! I'm here! Let the bells ring out and the banners fly! Hey Rufus, wake up buddy! Check out our new digs!”
Just then, a tiny yawn could be heard as a familiar pink rodent poked his sleepy head out of Ron's cargo pocket. Rubbing his eyes briefly, Rufus quickly scurried up Ron's body to perch on his shoulder and see the sights.
“Wow!” the naked mole rat chirped as the full impact of the campus hit home.
“You like?” Ron replied, pulling out a campus map, “Oh, this is gonna be great, buddy! You've gotta see everything they've got here. And the best part is, even though it IS a little farther from home, it's still completely Bueno Nacho accessible…an absolute necessity.”
“Mmmmmmyumyumyumyumyum,” Rufus rubbed his belly in approval.
“Well, someone's in a good mood today,” Kim noted, sliding under Ron's arm and wrapping her arm around his waist.
“And how could I not be, Kim?” Ron answered dramatically, “Here I am, an eager young man taking his first steps onto the grounds of a noble learning institution with a mind thirsting for knowledge.”
“Uh huh,” Kim replied, rolling her eyes, “This coming from the same `eager young man' who more than a hundred times was quoted comparing high school to the Spanish Inquisition.”
“All in a past life, KP,” Ron proclaimed confidently, “Like a Phoenix, rising from the ashes, Ron Stoppable has been reborn. No longer the lowly high school student, I now stand before you as `Ron Stoppable: College Man'.”
“Riiiiiiiight,” Kim noted, feeling slightly amused in spite of her dismissive tone.
“Yeah, you know, the more I think about it, the more I realize that high school wasn't really for me,” Ron continued to muse.
“Not really for you, huh?” Kim noted raising a curious eyebrow.
“You know it,” Ron announced, “I mean, where was the freedom? HAVE to take this class, HAVE to take that class, HAVE to do this, HAVE to do that. WAAAYYY to stifling for THIS free spirit. But now, all that is behind me. Here, my decisions are my own, wild and untamed. I finally get to be my own Ron.”
“Uh huh, not to mention the fact that there's almost nobody here who would remember you from high school, right?” Kim asked with a sly grin.
“Yeah, I like to think of that as a fringe benefit,” Ron replied dryly as Rufus nodded in approval.
It didn't take the pair long to find their way to the main building and direct themselves to where Ron's first class was going to be. Plenty of time for Kim to get him there and still jet back to London to continue her first day. Although as they walked along, she couldn't help but feel Ron squeeze her hand just a little bit tighter.
“You okay?” she asked.
“Hmmm? Oh…yeah. It's nothing KP,” Ron replied, although the faraway look in his eyes told a much different story.
“It's just that…?” Kim started, opening for Ron to finish what was really on his mind. After so many years, she knew him much better than that.
“Aw, it's stupid,” Ron answered, “I guess I'm just…gonna miss seeing you in class, that's all.”
“Ron, we've been over this already. I thought you said you were fine with it.”
“I know, I know! I am!” Ron instantly backpedaled before hanging his head slightly, “Really, I am. I'm just…not all the way there yet.”
“Oh Ron, it's okay,” Kim said assuredly, gently sliding her hand down his cheek to get his attention, “There's a six-hour time difference between here and London. On most days, my classes will be finished before you even start lunch. You've got a two-hour lunch break and then we've got a few hours in the afternoon and evening…”
“Two hour lunch break,” Ron sighed blissfully, losing his focus for the moment, “Is there any sweeter term in the history of spoken language?”
“Mmmmmm,” Rufus squeaked, licking his chops.
“My point is…you and I are still going to be able to see each other a lot. And I mean A LOT. So don't worry. It's going to be fine, okay?” Kim continued, gently wrapping her arms around Ron's neck. Ron meanwhile, had to admit, she was making a pretty strong case. And he seemed a lot more at ease as he and Kim moved in closer and hugged each other warmly.
“Thanks Kim,” Ron said contentedly, cuddling with her for a brief moment before putting on a determined face, “Okay…I think I'm ready now. Starting right now, Ron Stoppable's clean slate begins today!”
“Uh huh,” Kim noted with a suspicious look, “Just as long as this isn't the same kind of clean slate as a certain Spring Break trip down to Florida, okay?”
“Kim…you wound me,” Ron replied, clutching his heart before tossing her a warm smile, “I mean, why would I even THINK about going for other girls when the perfect one is already standing right in front of me?”
“Ooooooo, nice save,” Kim noted affectionately, gently tightening her arms around Ron's neck and leaning in. It was at that moment that things started to heat up. She'd originally meant to give him just a little peck on the lips to tide him over until she met him at lunch. But once the kiss started, they both found themselves slowly melting into it as Ron instinctively wrapped his arms around her waist and they pulled each other close. From there, the kiss deepened and it was as if everything else just disappeared. Even Rufus, who was polite enough to turn his head away while the moment played out, went ignored. Only the soft depth of the kiss, the warmth of the embrace and the sound of their breathing seemed to have meaning. Until suddenly…
“A-HEM!” the abrupt baritone voice boomed through the air, yanking the pair back to reality. Not so much from its volume, but from a tone that seemed eerily too well-known to both of them. Their lips still locked together, Kim and Ron's eyes snapped open like shutter blinds, slowly panning up to greet an all-too familiar hulking mass towering over them just mere inches away.
“Excuse me. If I might ask…don't you two have someplace you need to be?”
“Mr. Barkin?!” Kim was definitely surprised to see their old substitute teacher loose in the halls of Ron's new college campus, although she was more curious than alarmed. Just the sight of him was enough to make Rufus swallow hard and dive back into the safety of Ron's pocket without so much as a peep. Ron however, trembling behind Kim, was the one member of the group who had no intention of voicing his feelings that quietly.
“Wha-wha-wha-wha-wha-wha-wha-whaaaaat?! What IS this?! Wha-what are you doing here?! This is…!!” Ron seemed unable to shake his fit of uncontrollable stammering and looked well on going into full panic mode, until a moment of clarity instantly clicked into him, “Hey, wait a minute! What ARE you doing here?! I'm not in high school anymore! Your powers are useless against me!”
“Yeah!” Rufus chirped, suddenly feeling a lot braver as he popped his head defiantly out of Ron's pocket.
“Hm, you must be Ron Stoppable,” Barkin replied in his usual calm but gruff demeanor, “I think you've mistaken me for someone else.”
“Huh? Okay, Kim? I'm confused now,” Ron and Kim exchanged perplexed glances until one of the secretaries from the campus head office came trotting down the steps toward them.
“Oh, excuse me,” she said in a quiet, chirpy voice, “I'm sorry Dean Barkin, but you left the office so suddenly, I wasn't able to get these forms to you for your signature.”
“DEAN!!!” Neither Kim nor Ron could disguise their unified shock. Particularly Ron, as the color drained from his face.
“Uh oh!” Rufus squeaked as he dove back into Ron's pocket.
“Pardon me a moment,” Barkin declared, as he calmly signed the papers on the secretary's clipboard, “Let's see now…Ke-vin…Bar-kin…”
“Wait a minute,” Kim thought out loud, “KEVIN Barkin?”
“That's right. You must be thinking about my cousin, Steve. People get us confused all the time,” Barkin replied as he finished off the papers a few pen strokes later, allowing him to turn his attention back to a still-paralyzed Ron once the secretary had walked off.
“And for the record, he gave me fair warning when he found out you were coming here,” he whispered, staring Ron down, “So don't think I won't be keeping an eye on you.”
With that, the new Barkin turned on his heels and started back into the main building, leaving the pair in stunned silence. It took a few moments for Kim to shake off the surprise of this truly unexpected turn of events. But as she looked over, it was instantly clear that Ron wasn't taking the news nearly half as well as he stood trembling beside her, his face pale and his eye twitching.
“Ron? Ron? Come on Ron,” Kim spoke to him soothingly, holding his face in her hands and trying to get him to focus on her, “It's okay, Baby. It's okay. Come on, it's okay.”
“…nonononoNoNoNoNoNONONONONO!” Ron's voice rose to a full blown panicked scream as he ranted around Kim,“ NO! NO! NO! THIS IS WRONG! SICK AND WRONG! THIS CAN'T BE HAPPENING! IT'S…! IT…! AAAH!”
Lost in a fit of tantrum, Ron threw his fist out on instinct. But Kim's eyes went wide in shock as she heard what sounded like a gunshot going off behind her. Of course, she didn't have to turn around to see what happened. She had a pretty good idea.
“Ron,” she stated as her face flashed an irritated look, “You just punched a hole in the wall, didn't you?”
“Uh, eee…I…no,” Ron blurted out as he quickly pulled his fist out, desperately trying to beat off and blow off the concrete dust. At the same time, Rufus was attempting to use the outside bushes to the 12-inch deep hole, desperately trying to cover up the fact that Ron had momentarily let control of his Mystical Monkey Power slip. Kim meanwhile, could only roll her eyes before turning to Ron with a heavy sigh.
… … … …
It was only a 15 minutes past noon inside the aisles of Smarty Mart as Steve Barkin was finishing the last of the new displays for assembly. Just one more can to go and the pyramid of soup cans for the Brain Storm sale would be complete. And as he stood on top of the stepladder, his arm couldn't help but tremble slightly as he stretched out to place the final can on the very top…
“YOU!!!” a shrill yell shook the aisles, nearly causing Barkin to lose his balance on the stepladder. Flailing wildly, he managed to keep both his balance and the final can in his hands, breathing an instant sigh of relief that the display wasn't ruined. But his troubles were far from over as he turned to see Ron at the other end of the aisle with Rufus perched on his shoulder, both glaring at him in rage.
“Stoppable! What are you bellowing about?!” Barkin shouted, getting angry himself as he thought about what could have just happened to the display he'd so painstakingly built. But Ron couldn't have cared less as he stomped down the hall in a complete frenzy.
“Don't be coy with me! I know all about the Dean at MCC! Or should I say…your cousin?” Ron shot back, with Rufus jumping up and down on his shoulder, chatting angrily, “What did you say to him?!”
“Oh, I might have given him a word or two of warning,” Barkin replied, dwarfing Ron with his massive frame, “Now listen, Stoppable. Middleton Community College is a fine post-secondary institution with a proud record of achievement. And NO one is going to disrupt that if I have anything to say about it. LEAST of all, a former student of mine.”
“You know what, Dude?” Ron stated angrily, clearly not satisfied with Barkin's answer, “When it came to you in high school, I let a LOT of things slide, but THIS…?”
“YOU let things slide?! EXCUSE ME?!” Bark hollered back.
“Ron!” Kim's voice sounded off as she came running down the aisle to catch Ron and Rufus facing Barkin in a heated staredown, “What are you doing here? I thought I was meeting you at Bueno Nacho for lunch once my classes were done.”
“Have you considered a shock training collar?” Barkin muttered under his breath.
“Don't you even think about starting!” Kim snapped back, “It's YOUR fault he's acting like this, anyway!”
“I don't think I need to explain my actions to someone who's not even taking college in this country, Possible,” Barkin retaliated.
“People, people!” a new voice sounded off down the aisle, followed by a pair of shrill claps, “What is all this disharmony?”
Suddenly, the entire scene ground to a halt as all four parties looked over curiously. What they saw, standing just a few feet away, was a tall, thin man with short brown hair, appearing to be in his late 20s. His simple slacks and shirt with the rolled up sleeves showed a rather casual look, regardless of the shiny black cane with the round silver head under his arm.
“All this shouting can really bring down a guy's mellow,” the stranger replied as he walked over, shifting his gaze from Kim to Ron to Barkin, “Hi…Kim Possible, right? And Ron Stoppable…and you…well, you I couldn't care less about.”
Rufus couldn't help but giggle in amusement as Barkin flashed an irritated frown in the stranger's direction. But Kim couldn't help but feel much more curious than amused at the moment.
“And you know who we are because…?” she asked.
“Well, I COULD say it's because I'm one of those obsessed stalker fans who's seen you guys on TV. But the truth is, I know pretty much everything about every student at Middleton Community College,” The stranger replied, which even made Kim and Ron more curious before he immediately offered up his hand, “Oh, but I'm being rude, aren't I? Should at least introduce myself first. The name's Maximillion Ambro. You can call me Max. Yeah, I'm the new Campus Counselor at MCC.”
“Oh no. Kim, it's worse than I thought,” Ron found himself starting to panic again, “That other Barkin's moving faster than I thought. Don't you see what's going on here? SPIES!!! SPIES EVERYWHERE!!!”
“Ron…!” Kim scolded. Maximillion, meanwhile, couldn't seem to resist laughing out loud as he twirled his can before whipping it over his shoulder.
“Okay, YOU I like already,” he commented, still chuckling, “So…you guys are going to lunch, huh? Mind if I tag along? I got money. I can cover my end.”
“Actually, lunch might not be a bad idea,” Kim replied, eager to put a stop to the confrontation as she gently hugged Ron's arm, “Come on, Ron. Let's go get something to eat.”
“THIS ISN'T OVER!!!” Ron screamed, shaking his fist in Barkin's direction as Kim dragged him off. Max, meanwhile, only stood and offered a cheerful grin as Barkin walked up behind him.
“He's lucky you stepped in,” Barkin muttered over his shoulder. But Max simply responded with a lighthearted chuckle, drawing a curious look from Barkin until Max looked back over his shoulder, flashing a wicked smirk.
“YOU'RE lucky I didn't let him kill you,” he replied grimly before calmly strolling down the aisle to the main doors. But outside, Ron's frame of mind was nowhere near as stable as he furiously paced outside.
“This is a travesty of justice!” Ron cried out to the heavens, lost in another fit, “This simply CANNOT be allowed to happen! Something HAS to be done…! AAH!”
“RON!!! MMP!!!” Kim shouted to get his attention as she threw her body in between him and the wall of Smarty Mart. It was only then that Ron snapped out of his tantrum and noticed his arm pulled across his chest, his fist tightening. He was about to throw out another punch in anger without even realizing it. And if what had happened on campus that morning was any indication…
“Oh,” he blurted out, trying to calm himself down, “Sorry.”
“Ron, come here,” Kim beckoned soothingly as she put her hands on his shoulders and led him to a nearby bench. Sitting him down, she softly leaned her head on his shoulder as she took Ron's hand in hers and gently hugged him with her free arm.
“Oh Baby, I know this isn't what you had in mind. But you've got to try and relax,” she sighed, sitting back up and looking at him with a concerned gaze, “I can't be around to calm you down all the time now. And honestly, I don't think you can afford the repair bills.”
“I know,” Ron found himself sighing as well as he hung his head. Just then, he felt Kim hug him just a little bit tighter, following with a feathery kiss on his cheek.
“Look, tell you what,” she stated with a more determined voice than before, “Why don't you come over to my place tonight for a couple of hours? We'll curl up on the couch, we'll put on a movie, we'll log in a little makeout time and tomorrow will be a new day. Does that sound like a plan to you?”
Ron was still hanging his head, but it would be hard to not notice a faint smile beginning to form on across his face. The thought of an evening with Kim definitely seemed to be lifting his spirits, if only just a little. And whether or not the effect would be long term didn't seem to matter at that particular moment.
“I think I can go along with that,” he finally replied with a little shrug. Still, there was a certain shyness in the way his body moved, as if he was trying not to seem to eager. But a moment later, he felt Kim's hand fold over both of his as her other hand moved from Ron's shoulder to gently slide a finger under his chin.
“Hey,” she called to him under her breath as she looked into his eyes with a playful smile, “Love you.”
Ron HAD to smile back at that point. At that moment, any lingering anxiety had been completely washed away. And as found himself unable to look away from Kim's soft gaze, it seemed as if everything was truly right with the world. But then, seeing Kim smile always seemed to have that effect on him.
“Love you too,” he replied, gently pressing his forehead to hers.
“Aaawww,” Rufus chirped, feeling touched by the moment. And Kim and Ron needed no further encouragement as they leaned in for a soft kiss…
“WHAT was THAT?!?!” a powerful shout instantly shattered the moment as Kim and Ron whipped their heads over to see Maximillion Ambro storming out the Smarty Mart doors, “His COUSIN?! Are you KIDDING?! I have heard of the shallow end of the gene pool, okay? But that was just…WHOA!!!”
Kim and Ron instantly flashed each other a concerned gaze, neither of them sure what to think after seeing this man who was perfectly calm and collected not two minutes ago suddenly become completely unhinged! But then, as quickly as it came, the tantrum subsided as Max suddenly reverted back to his content demeanor, taking a moment to straighten out his shirt.
“Okay, I'm cool, I'm calm, I'm good. Just had to get that out of my system,” he stated gently, twirling his cane and whipping it over his shoulder before looking over at Kim and Ron with a toothy grin, “So…I'm parched. You guys want something to drink first?”
… … … …
Kim and Ron could only sit in silence at the table in the coffee shop as Maximillion was at the counter making his order. He'd barely said two words since leaving Smarty Mart, making Kim a little apprehensive as to who exactly this stranger was who had suddenly invited himself to be a part of their day.
“Got anything Wade?” she whispered, keeping the Kimmunicator hidden under the table.
“It's strange. My scans usually come up with more. But I've got his file from the MCC computers right here. He's legit, all right,” Wade stated, “Graduated from Go University with a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology. He was also the Counselor at Upperton High last year. He had great results with a lot of the problem kids there. He was hired on to Middleton Community College over the summer.”
“Oh great. `Problem kids.' What does THAT say when he's coming for ME right away?” Ron said, sulking.
“Ron, at least we know he's the real deal, so don't let it get you down,” Kim noted, putting her hand on his shoulder reassuringly.
“So…done checking up on me yet or do you still need a few more minutes?” Max's lighthearted voice sounded off behind them, making their hearts skip.
“Oh…well, uh…we were just…,” a startled Kim stammered as she whipped the Kimmunicator behind her back. Max, however, simply chuckled in response.
“Aw, relax. Perfectly understandable precaution, I'm down with it,” he answered dismissively before pausing to take a sip of the tea he'd ordered, “Haaaaaaaah, MUCH better. Got hooked on this stuff a few years back when I was in England for a couple months. Really don't know where I'd be without it today.”
“Uuuuh huh,” was all Kim managed to get out as she and Ron sat, exchanging glances.
“But…back to the matter at hand,” Max stated with another long sip before turning his attention over to Ron, “You know kid, I've really gotta tell you, I'm not entirely certain that picking a fight with ol' Steve-O back there was really the best way to find a solution to your problem.”
Max paused for another sip of tea before he suddenly flashed a thoughtful look.
“Although, come to think of it…what IS the problem anyway?”
“Well, let's just say that the Ron Stoppable/Steve Barkin relationship has been…complicated over the years,” Kim replied, unsure of exactly what answer to give.
“`Complicated'? `Complicated'?! Kim, do I REALLY need to break out the file?” Ron objected, turning his attention over to Max, “Dude, I have got a file folder on him at home…”
“…as thick as a phone book that you've been keeping since the ninth grade,” Kim cut Ron off, rolling her eyes as she propped her elbow on the table to hold her head up, “You still think he called that Fire Drill during lunch on Cheese Pizza Day in the 10th Grade just because you corrected him on what chapter we were on during English Class that day?”
“Prove me wrong, Kim!” Ron argued back.
“Okay…so there's been a little friction,” Max interrupted, cutting off any debate, “But you're not his student anymore, so what's the problem now?”
“Dude, you don't understand!” Ron protested, “This is a matter of principle! I've already given a Barkin four years of my life! I served my time! Haven't I been punished enough?! WHAT ABOUT MY CLEAN SLATE?!?!”
“Okay, Okay, point taken,” Kim replied, flashing him a stern glance, “But was it absolutely necessary for you to scream in terror when your professor introduced his cousin to address one of your classes this morning?”
“How did you find out about that?” Ron gasped. Kim, meanwhile, simply rolled her eyes in response as Max gave a small chuckle.
“I don't know. I don't think I'd worry about him if I were you,” he replied calmly, taking another sip of his tea, “I mean, come on, you're in college now, master of your own destiny. You don't have to listen to a single thing he tells you. And he doesn't have the authority to tell you what to do anyway.”
“Don't you see? It's enough that I know he's THERE!” Ron exclaimed, his squinting eyes darting suspiciously left and right, “Even now, I can FEEL him watching me, biding his time. Just waiting for me to slip up even for an instant and then…BAM!!! He'll be all over me!”
Upon hearing his words, Rufus immediately shivered in dread, while Kim merely rolled her eyes. Max, meanwhile, simply gave a thoughtful gaze before speaking.
“So…these Barkin boys have become like…what, your own little harbingers of doom, is that it? Getting you worried that something's going to go wrong?” he stated with an analytical tone, “Hmmm, okay. But…what exactly HAS gone wrong?”
Ron didn't reply at first. He only stared blankly for a moment as if he didn't understand the question.
“…Excuse me?”
“Well, I don't know, but it seems to me that looking at where you are, you've quite a bit going for you,” Max continued, “You're in a good college with a shot at a good future. You've got the girl of your dreams hanging off your arm that even a blind man can see is TOTALLY crazy about you. And then you two have that whole `saving-the-world' thing going on. I mean, come on, you're going to tell me THAT'S not fun? Call me crazy, but from where I'm standing, I'd say life's dealt you a pretty good hand. Maybe what you ought to think about doing is focus on what's going RIGHT instead of worrying about what HASN'T gone WRONG.”
Again, there was no immediate response from Ron. He simply found himself staring out into space again as Maximillion's words slowly began to sink in.
“Huh!” was all he managed to finally blurt out. Kim, meanwhile, immediately took note as Ron suddenly seemed very thoughtful.
“Wow,” she noted with a somewhat surprised tone, “You ARE good.”
“Well, it's not hard once you understand the position,” Max said with a shrug, “I mean hey, I used to BE him. I can understand what he's going through.”
With that, Max paused for another sip of his tea, but gave a curious look as he suddenly pulled the cup from his lips.
“Hm! Although right now it looks like what I am for the most part is empty,” he added, turning his cup upside down and giving it a brief shake, “Guess I'm gonna have to go back for a refill.”
Max then rose from his chair, but he paused to give a quick knock on the table, getting Ron's attention once again.
“Take it from me kid, enjoy the ride. I'm pretty sure it's only going to get better for you from here,” he said before tossing Ron a confident wink, “Trust me.”
And with that, Max turned and strolled back to the counter, leaving Kim and Ron alone with their thoughts.
“Kim, what do you think?” Ron asked simply as he and Kim looked at each other, “Was he right? Am I just overreacting to all this?”
“I don't know,” Kim replied, shrugging slightly, “He DID make some pretty good points. What do YOU think though? THAT'S the question.”
“Well…,” Ron said thoughtfully, pausing for a shrug before tossing Kim a warm smile, “…you ARE the girl of my dreams.”
Kim found her eyes drifting away shyly before looking back at Ron with a smile of her own, reaching over to softly caress his hand.
“And I AM totally crazy about you,” she answered affectionately as she pressed her forehead to his and their fingers gently started playing off each other. Rufus, meanwhile, couldn't help but sigh, caught up in the wave of emotion that was starting to build, but he was still quick to turn his gaze away as Kim and Ron leaned in to kiss. Unfortunately, a familiar series of beeps snapped them out of the moment before it even started.
“Ooohhhh, somebody's got some REALLY bad timing here, I'm just not sure who,” Kim groaned, hanging her head with an annoyed sigh before pulling out the Kimmunicator, “Go, Wade.”
“I just got word that Electronique has escaped from prison and is heading straight for Go City,” Wade replied, “Hego is trying to stop her, but it looks like he's going to need some help. Do you guys have enough time before Ron's next class?”
“What do you think?” Kim looked at Ron with a playful grin, “Feel like having some of that “save-the-world” fun?”
“Why not? After the morning I've had, going a few rounds with the bad guys could only improve my day.” Ron replied with a shrug. With that, the two of them were on their feet and out the door just as Max walked up with his refill.
“Hmmm,” he noted with a curious half smile before taking another sip.
… … … …
“I've got a BIIIIIIIG mouth!” Ron exclaimed as he and Kim took shelter behind a car. Electronique was standing in the middle of a city block which now looked like a war zone, laughing maniacally and throwing her electric blasts at anything that so much as twitched. Meanwhile, Kim, Ron and Hego were pinned down so completely, they'd barely had a chance to make any kind of move against her.
“So…would you mind explaining just what's going on here?!” Kim called over to Hego, who was hunched behind another car just a few yards away, “How did Electronique get her “Big Bad” on again?! I though Jack Hench's Attitundinator turned her good!”
“It did!” Hego replied over the sound of Electronique's blasts, “From what I've heard, apparently, she got struck by a bolt of lightning in prison! Not only did it undo the Attitundinator, it also made her electric attacks about five times stronger!”
“You know, I've gotta say, this could only happen in our world,” Ron commented dryly. Kim, meanwhile, was more focused on bringing this battle to an overdue end as Hego managed to maneuver himself in beside them between Electronique's attacks.
“This is getting us nowhere fast,” she muttered, clearly becoming frustrated, “Hego, is there anyway you can get her attention so Ron and I can try something?”
“Well, I could always throw something at her,” Hego replied. Unfortunately, without thinking anymore about it, he decided that the “something” he was going to throw at her was the very same car that was shielding them from Electronique's blasts! That is, until the car was inexplicably snatched from his hands! Immediately, Hego turned around, only to see Ron in his Mystical Monkey Power mode, with the car mounted over his shoulder.
“Whoa! Dude!” Ron objected, placing the car back down, “Not the thing we're actually HIDING behind!”
“Okay, how did you do that?” Hego could only ask, looking more than a little perplexed.
“GET DOWN!” Kim cried out, grabbing Ron's shirt and yanking him away just as another of Electronique's attacks came streaming past them! The blast exploded into a nearby building, sending Kim and Ron rolling over each other along the sidewalk until they finally stopped with Kim lying on top of him.
“Ron, are you okay?!” Kim blurted out as she threw her hair out of her eyes, thinking only about Ron's well-being at the moment.
“Well…I think I've got a piece of cement jabbing me in the back…,” Ron winced slightly in pain before he tilted his head slightly to see Kim's body draped over his own. And he couldn't help but let out a warm sigh as he wrapped his arms around her waist.
“…But I guess I'll just have to live with it.”
“Oh, would you stop?” Kim retaliated as she slapped him lightly across his arm. They clearly had more important things to worry about at the moment. But still, she couldn't hide the amusement in her voice as she spoke. And she wasn't pulling herself away either, not when Ron gently took her face in his hands or when he slowly leaned up to kiss her…
Just then, reality came roaring back as Hego came flying overhead and slammed hard into the brick wall beside them, struck by one of Electronique's blasts! Having been pulled out of their private moment, Kim and Ron quickly remembered that they had something more important to do first. But it didn't stop them from pointing at each other sternly to say one quick thing…
“Jinx! You owe me a soda!” Ron blurted out with a chuckle.
“Oh, good. You finally got one after how many months?” Kim replied with a sarcastic smirk.
“Well, I know I can't beat you, but I've gotta at least stay competitive, right?” Ron lightheartedly argued back, causing Kim to give an amused eye roll before turning her attention back to the matter at hand.
“Hmmmm…If I can get to the other side of the street, we might just have a chance to take her out,” she thought out loud as she turned to Ron with a confident smile, “So what do you say? I hit her high…”
“…and we hit her low,” Ron finished her thought as he and Rufus exchanged smirks. And with that, Kim made a mad dash towards a pile of rubble that lay strewn across to the other side of the street, hoping that it would be enough to shield her from Electronique's attacks. Electronique, however, wasn't about to be outmaneuvered as she focused her attention on Kim, preparing to unleash a full power blast! But before she could fire, a sharp pain drilled into her foot, causing her to lose her concentration.
“Ouch!” Electronique cried out on instinct as her blast dissipated into nothing. Glaring down, she caught a glimpse of Rufus gnawing away at her foot before pulling his teeth out.
“Hello!” he chirped merrily before sticking his tongue out at her.
“You again,” Electronique growled, electricity flashing around her body, “Wretched creature!!! I'll put an end to you this time!!!”
Rufus immediately whimpered in fear as he hopped off Electronique's foot and ran away. But it didn't take Electronique long to see where he was running to as he scampered up Ron's pant leg to seek shelter in his hands. Ron, meanwhile, stood in front of her with a stern look on his face, his right leg lifted straight up in the air as his body gave off its Mystical Monkey Power glow.
“Uh, do you mind? How about picking on someone your own size?” Ron noted simply. And before Electronique could react, he brought his foot straight down, smashing into the street like a pile driver! The force of the impact broke up the street into small chunks of asphalt! But it also caused Electronique to lose her footing, which was all the opening Kim needed. Firing her grappling hook at a nearby lamppost, she pulled herself into the air, swinging around and slamming feet first into Electronique's face, sending her flying into a nearby car!
“Very nice, KP!” Ron called out, running up to her.
“Well, you weren't so bad yourself,” Kim replied, leaning in and softly kissing Ron on the cheek, bringing an instant smile to his face.
“Hmmm, now I seem to recall we were about to do something a moment ago. Now what was that again?” Ron noted playfully, flashing Kim an affectionate smile. Kim, meanwhile, didn't waste a second picking up on his hint.
“Oh, come here, you,” she said, taking Ron's face in her hands and leaning in to kiss him once more…
Suddenly, a surge of electricity ripped through the air, sending Kim and Ron flying along the street! Ron was sent hurtling into a pile of rubble and immediately buried. But it was only for a second as his fist burst from the wreckage! A moment later, the rest of the debris exploded off his body, which had regained its Mystical Monkey Power glow!
“Rufus! You okay?!” Ron called out. Rufus immediately responded from his pocket with a positive chattering and a quick thumbs up, which allowed Ron to focus on more important matters. It was fairly obvious where that last attack had come from and it seemed that both he and Kim had seriously underestimated Electronique's recuperative powers. And if Ron wasn't mad before, he was certainly mad now! But just as he was about to charge in, he caught a glimpse of Electronique standing over a groggy Kim, her hand blazing with electricity!
“Hold it!” Electronique called out threateningly, “I don't care what kind of power you have, boy! Even YOU'RE not faster than a bolt of lighting!”
Ron could only glare at Electronique, who simply responded with an evil grin, confident in her upper hand. But before she could think to do anything to Kim or Ron, she felt something tightly grab her wrist!
“Neither are you,” a wicked hiss whispered behind Electronique as a dark figured towered over her.
“WHO DARES…?!?!” Electronique whirled around in a rage, but cut herself off as she saw who her mysterious attacker was. And the image processed into her brain, her eyes went wide and her jaw dropped open.
“Hi!” the toothy grin that faced her called out happily before the figure raised his free hand into the air, holding a long, black cane…
Electronique had no time to react at all as an enormous lightning bolt came streaking down from the sky, enveloping her and the stranger in a blinding flash of light! All she could do was let out a shuddering yell as the electrical energy ripped through her body, blowing off parts of her armor! But that was the last thing going through Ron's mind. Kim was still lying right next to them when the lightning hit and she had made no effort to move before Ron lost sight of her! Now all he could see was a rupture of smoke, dust, and sparks of white light!
“KIIIIM!!!” Ron cried out, ready to leap into the haze to find her.
“Ron?” Kim's slightly dazed voice called softly into his ears. And Ron whirled around to see Kim, much to his surprise, standing behind him! And despite the slightly bewildered look on her face, she didn't seem to have so much as a scratch on her! But neither one of them was about to ask any questions. At that moment, they were both so relieved to see each other that all they could do was hug each other tightly, neither one about to let the other go.
“Kim, are you okay?” Ron finally asked, being the first to pull away slightly, “How did you get out of there?”
“I…I don't think I did,” Kim replied, still confused as she turned her head towards the settling dust where she had just been lying, “I think…it was him.”
Ron immediately looked on with Kim as the haze continued to settle and they were finally able to get a better view of Kim's mysterious rescuer. He was a tall, thin young man, who looked even slightly taller with his short, brown hair slicked back high. He was dressed all in black, except for a white shirt with wide sleeves that folded over his jacket sleeves. The jacket itself looked like a tuxedo jacket with the tails modified to be long and wide in the back, almost like a trenchcoat, but flapping like a cape in the slight breeze. His fingerless gloved hand still had a death grip on Electronique's wrist, who only managed to let out a weak groan as she remained crumpled to her knees, unconscious. His other hand, meanwhile, was still holding the shiny black cane with a silver lightning bolt for a head. A pair of reflective sunglasses covered his eyes, but his lips were still curled into the same wicked grin until he looked up to see Kim and Ron tossing concerned glances in his direction. At that moment, he merely flashed a lighthearted smile, twirling his cane in his hand before whipping it over his shoulder.
“Oh hey. You guys okay?” he finally spoke out in a merry tone as he finally released Electronique, “Yeah, I've really got to apologize for her. She's always been trouble.”
“Uh huuuuuh,” Kim noted, her eyes darting back and forth, “And you would know this, how? Just who ARE you anyway?”
“Yeah, and how did you do that whole lightning thing?” Ron added. The stranger, meanwhile, merely gave an amused chuckle as he shook his head.
“Now, now, kids. I could answer all your questions right now,” he answered before turning his back to them, “But where would be the fun in that?”
“Hey!” Kim called out as the stranger seemed ready to walk away, and it seemed to be enough to make him look over his shoulder back towards her and Ron.
“Oh come on, you're just going to figure it out anyway, so why ruin a perfectly good surprise.” he continued before turning around to leave once more. But just then, Hego had recovered from Electronique's earlier attack on him and had come running up. But as he looked over at the stranger, his jaw dropped in the same way that Electronique's had just moments ago.
“Max?” he blurted out, clearly in shock, “Max, is that you?”
“`Max'?” Kim noted, exchanging glances with Ron before their faces showed a look of shock as well, “Maximillion Ambro?!”
The stranger twitched slightly before turning back towards Kim and the others. And as he pulled his sunglasses down past the bridge of his nose and flashed an annoyed frown, there was no longer any doubt that it really was the same Maximillion Ambro that Kim and Ron had met not long before!
“Great. Just great!” he exclaimed as he stormed past Kim and Ron to give Hego a firm smack in the arm with his cane.
“Ow!” Hego blurted out, “What was that for?”
“Way to go, Stupid!” Max ranted, “They could have figured it out just fine on their own! But you had to come in and open your big mouth!”
“Excuse me?!” Hego retaliated, “You ghost into town after dropping off the face of the earth for seven years and I'M the bad guy?!”
“Pretty much, yeah!” Max argued.
“Uh, excuse me?!” Kim piped up, cutting off Hego and Max's heated debate, “But would someone please explain to us just what is going on here?!”
“Oh, and I suppose you're gonna blab about THAT now too!” Max continued berating Hego before storming off, “Honestly, I had a whole timetable planned out and he just throws it all away! SHEESH!!!”
With that, Max stamped his foot into the street, creating an explosion of smoke and glitter around his body! A second later, he was gone, leaving Kim and Ron standing in the middle of the street with Hego, completely astonished.
“Okay, that was a new trick,” Hego commented.
“Hego, what is the sitch?!” Kim exclaimed, “How do you know this guy? Who IS he?!”
“Do yourselves a favor,” Hego replied sternly before walking off, “Stay away from him. He's nothing but trouble.”
And a few moments later, Hego was gone as well, leaving Kim and Ron with no answers to their questions. They could only look on at the spot where Max had just been standing and toss each other bewildered glances.
“Okay, I'm officially confused now,” Ron commented simply. What he and Kim didn't notice however, was a pair of glowing, blood-red eyes peering from the darkness of a nearby alley.
… … … …
“Ow!” Ron winced as he felt a tiny shock from touching his locker, “Aw man! Thanks to Electronique, I'm going to be all static-y for the rest of the day.”
“Tell me about it. My head's gonna be a giant powder puff when I wake up for classes tonight,” Kim added before the sound of the Kimmunicator commanded her attention, “What have you got, Wade?”
“Nothing much, except that Maximillion Ambro is an orphan from Go City,” Wade answered, feeling a little perplexed himself, “I honestly can't believe how little there is on this guy. A couple of old school records, but that's about it. There's an address, but it's got to be old. No way he's living there now. But I haven't found anything else. It's like this guy just appears and disappears whenever he wants.”
“Yeah, we kind of got that impression already,” Kim noted, sounding slightly annoyed, “Let us know if you find anything else, Wade.”
“Uh, KP, I mean, I'm curious too, but don't you think you might be overreacting just a little?” Ron asked, “I mean, the guy DID stop Electronique from frying you. That kinda makes me want to be a little generous with the benefit of the doubt.”
“Ron, the guy made a bolt of lightning appear just by lifting his arm!” Kim argued.
“Exactly,” Ron replied, “So if he wanted to hurt us, don't you think he could have done it by now?”
“I hear what you're saying Ron,” Kim stated with a slightly worried tone, “But at this point, we should find out as much as we can about this guy before we start giving too much on faith.”
“Late to classes on your first day, Mr. Stoppable?” the unmistakable baritone voice sounded off behind them.
“AAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!” Ron shrieked, jumping behind Kim before he whirled around to see Kevin Barkin's gruff features staring right at him. At that moment, Ron's attitude quickly switched from panic to annoyance.
“DON'T…DO THAT!!!” he shouted angrily.
“Is that really how you screamed this morning when he talked to your class?” Kim whispered at him over her shoulder. However, the look on Ron's face glaring at Barkin as he tried desperately to calm himself clearly indicated that now was not the time. So instead, Kim turned her attention to Barkin himself.
“And as for you,” she stated, “Is there some reason in particular that you're microscoping my boyfriend like this?”
“Very good question,” a familiar voice sounded off behind Barkin, who whirled around to see Maximillion Ambro standing right behind him, as if out of nowhere. Even Kim and Ron couldn't help but be a little surprised, despite what had just happened in Go City.
“Last time I checked `Kev', looking after the well-being of the students was MY job, not yours,” Max stated with a confident smirk as he slightly waved Barkin off, “So why don't you just toddle off now?”
Kim and Ron weren't sure what to make of this guy anymore, but they weren't about to look a gift horse in the mouth either. However, Barkin wasn't going to let himself be intimidated either as he looked straight into Maximillion's eyes with a deathly serious expression.
“Let's get one thing straight, Smart Guy,” he muttered grimly, “This isn't Upperton High anymore. You're reputation doesn't mean anything here. Now the old Dean may have hired you on before his retirement, but you're dealing with ME now. So don't think that I won't be keeping an eye on you.”
Satisfied that he'd gotten his point across, Barkin turned on his heels and walked down the hall. But Max clearly wasn't about to be intimidated either as he gave a simple shrug.
“Okay, good luck with that,” he stated, tossing a little wave in Barkin's direction before flashing a sinister smile and lowering his voice to a wicked hiss, “You'll need it.”
Barkin simply responded by tossing an irritated look over his shoulder. Max, meanwhile, maintained his smirk before suddenly letting out an amused chuckle as Barkin turned the corner.
“Ah yes, I am going to have a lot of fun with him,” he commented lightheartedly before turning his attention to Ron, “And look at you, already starting to stand up to him. Good for you. That scowl of indignation totally plays. But anyway, I'll see you guys later, okay?”
“Hey, wait a minute!” Kim exclaimed as Max was just about to leave.
“What?” Max asked simply.
“What do you mean, `What?'” Kim argued, “How can you stand there and act like everything you did in Go City never happened? Just what is your deal anyway?”
“Oh gee, I'm surprised Hego didn't tell you everything himself,” Max replied with an annoyed eye roll.
“He was a little sketchy on the details,” Kim stated sarcastically, “Now after everything that's happened so far, I think you owe us a few answers, don't you?”
With that, Max only let out a sigh of submission.
“Alright, fine…”
“Oh, excuse me, Mr. Ambro?” the chirpy voice of Barkin's secretary sounded off as she came hurrying up to them, “A rather large package just arrived for you at the office. We need you to sign for it.”
“Oh, of course,” Max stated rather matter-of-factly as he calmly signed the invoice on the secretary's clipboard.
“Oh, and since it is a rather large package, you might want to get it out of the office before Dean Barkin sees it,” the secretary noted as she handed Max a piece of paper and headed back the way she came.
“Yeah, THAT'LL definitely make me move faster. Okay, let's see what we've got here,” Max muttered sarcastically to himself as he scanned the paper. Suddenly, his eyes instantly lit up and a huge smile crossed his face.
“No…way!” he exclaimed, “Gotta go.”
“Hey, wait a minute!” Kim shouted after him as he dashed down the hall, “Just where do you think YOU'RE going?!”
“Sorry, but I've gotta get this!” Max called back, clearly overjoyed, “My garden gnomes just arrived!”
As soon as the words escaped his lips, Kim and Ron had to look at each other in a state of disbelief. It was as if they had no earthly idea exactly what he had just said.
“What?!” Kim blurted out after him.
“Best Halloween decorating on the planet!” Max announced gleefully, “Mark my words, you put out a couple dozen of those on your front lawn and just watch the reactions! I'm telling you, you have not lived until you've seen the looks on people's faces!”
And with that, Max turned around and started running back down the hall in a giggling frenzy. But it was at this point that Kim had decided she'd had just about enough.
“Oh no, you don't! Get back here!” she yelled, chasing after him down the hall with Ron right behind her. But as soon as they turned the corner where they'd seen him run, all they saw was a few sparkles of glitter and wisps of smoke, just like when he'd pulled his disappearing act in Go City just before.
“Okay, how is he doing that?” Ron thought out loud as he and Kim could only look on perplexed.
“It's maaaaaaaagiiiiiiiic,” Max's voice sounded off softly behind them as they whirled around to see him peeking from a nearby room, whisking his eyebrows playfully, “Neat, huh?”
Max then ducked back into the room, slamming the door behind him! Kim and Ron reached the door only a second later, but when they opened it, all they found was an empty room. Empty except for a few traces of the same smoke and glitter from before.
“Ho-kay, this guy is officially getting on my nerves,” Kim said with a scowl before calming down slightly and turning to Ron, “He's probably gone to the office to get his stupid package. Look, you'd better get to your class. I'll track him down, okay?”
It all sounded like a perfectly reasonable plan as the pair went their separate ways. But when Ron's class was finished two hours later, he and Rufus went outside to see Kim sitting on one of the campus benches, wearing a completely bewildered look on her face.
“So…I'm guessing you didn't find him, huh?” Ron noted as he rolled his eyes innocently, trying to broach the subject as delicately as he could.
“I turned this place upside down. He's just…gone,” Kim stated in a complete state of disbelief. And Ron didn't need any more encouragement to sit down beside her and place a reassuring hand on her shoulder.
“He's got us running around in circles,” Kim continued, taking a moment to think before a determined look crossed her face, “We need to talk to Hego again. If we're going to deal with this guy, we need to know a lot more than what we know.”
“Uh huh, good plan, great initiative,” Ron answered as he looked away, clearly with other things on his mind, “But…it doesn't HAVE to be right away, right? `Cause…I seem to remember, we kinda had some plans today…and…you know…”
Kim had to let out a hollow chuckle at that moment, rolling her eyes before tossing Ron an amused smile. After all, she had to admit that a little time for some romance with Ron might be enough to ease a few of her own frazzled nerves. And there didn't seem to be any immediate trouble on the horizon.
“Oh, alright,” she conceded, talking in a babying tone as she reached over and gently glided her hand down Ron's cheek, “We'll do it tomorrow.”
Ron couldn't help but smile back at her as they both sealed the deal with a soft peck on the lips and a quick cuddle. Little did they know that Max was standing about 10 yards behind them, concealed behind a large tree.
“Hm,” he thought out loud, grinning calmly as he walked off, “Well…setbacks aside, I'd say things are working out very nicely.”
… … … …
A secret location somewhere in the world…
The next morning had almost come and gone and it every indication seemed that another calm day was to be had. Everything except for an insane cackle echoing through the dimly lit corridors of a cavernous lair.
“At last, it's finished!” Dr. Drakken gloated wickedly, “My greatest creation is finally complete!”
Drakken couldn't stop himself from laughing evilly as Shego walked into the room, sorting through the mail in her hand. But after the last couple of months, she wasn't the least bit surprised at what she saw. The entire room was covered top to bottom with hedge sculptures of every shape and size. Drakken, meanwhile, was standing at the top of a stepladder set up beside a huge hedge sculpture of himself, standing 10 feet tall and striking a triumphant pose.
“So tell me what you think, Shego,” he stated proudly, “Too much?”
“Not for you,” Shego replied dryly, her lack of enthusiasm turning Drakken's smile into an annoyed frown. Just then, Drakken's plant mutation activated as one of his vines grew out and tapped him on the shoulder, drawing his attention to the sculpture. And Drakken gasped in horror as he looked at the sculpture and saw a stray twig sticking out of the elbow like a sore thumb! But the vine was quick to respond to the crisis, handing him a fresh pair of pruning shears.
“Why, thank you,” Drakken said politely, giving the vine a nice pat before turning to Shego with an indignant scowl, “It's good to know I have SOME help around here.”
“Whatever,” Shego said, rolling her eyes slightly before turning back to scan through the mail, “You know, Dr. D, as nice as it is that you've got yourself a hobby and…as amusing as it's been watching you go without sleep for days on end because of it…have you thought about what you're doing for money? I mean, it's been two months now and you don't seem to have given any thoughts about your cash flow.”
“Thank you for your `doom and gloom' predictions, Shego,” Drakken replied sarcastically, delicately pruning some more twigs from his sculpture, “But I'll have you know that I've already been giving the situation all the thought it requires.”
“HAVE-YOU?” Shego asked sternly, raising a suspicious eyebrow in Drakken's direction.
“Yes…well…,” Drakken's eyes darted back and forth, searching desperately for an answer before making a feeble attempt to redirect the conversation, “Practice what you preach, Shego! I don't see YOU bringing in the green. At least not the green WE'RE talking about.”
“Sometimes, I don't know WHY I bother…,” Shego muttered to herself as she walked out of the room, leaving Drakken to tend to his pruning. Walking back into the main hall of the lair, her sorting had found her a newspaper from Go City. Her curiosity sufficiently piqued, she sat down in a nearby chair to leaf through it. But she didn't even get past the front page before her eyes went wide and her jaw dropped open!
“No…no no no no no. There's no way…” her voice rose from a stunned whisper to a livid roar as her hands blazed, burning into the newspaper, “NO…WAY!!!”
“Shego?! Was that you?! Did you say something?!” Drakken called from the other room, but his only reply was the echo of a metal clang. Peeking his head out into the main hall, he saw that Shego was already long gone, with the door to the lair left flung wide open. All that she'd left behind was the newspaper she had just been looking at, lying on the floor and burning from the plasma discharge her hands had generated!
“Shego!” Drakken yelled, ignoring the fact that she was no longer able to hear him as he whipped back into the other room and came back out with a bucket of water, “How many times do we have to have this conversation?! If you're going to burn something, do it in the fireplace! That way it doesn't set off the…!”
Unfortunately Drakken wouldn't get the chance to finish his thought, as his words were cut off by the shrill clanging of the lair's fire alarm! And a second later, a torrent of water began pouring down from the ceiling!
“…sprinkler…system,” Drakken muttered in conclusion. Soaked to the bone and realizing there was no point in fighting it, he could only let out a defeated sigh and trudge off to find a mop. Meanwhile, the newspaper that Shego had left behind was still lightly smoldering on the floor. But the part of the front page that hadn't been burned showed an amateur photo taken the day before, showing Maximillion Ambro with his wicked smile, clutching the wrist of the defeated Electronique, with Kim, Ron and Hego staring at him from the foreground.
… … … …
“Max? The SAME Max?! Hego, are you sure?” Mego asked as the two of them walked down one of the many halls of the Go Tower, with the Wego twins close behind, “I mean, it HAS been seven years, you know.”
“Mego, I was standing less than six inches from the man,” Hego replied, the annoyance in his voice clearly apparent, “Offhand, I'd say that's close enough to be sure.”
“But Hego, he DID beat Electronique…Isn't that a good thing?” The Wego twins chimed in with their typical method of finishing each other's thoughts. But before Hego could respond, a loud buzz could be heard echoing throughout the Go Tower, indicating that someone was at the front door. Not wasting a moment, Hego headed straight to a nearby viewing monitor, only to see Kim and Ron standing outside in their mission gear, with Rufus on Ron's shoulder and all three staring back into the front door camera with serious frowns.
… … … …
“Come on, Hego. We need answers,” Kim stated as they joined Team Go walking through the Go Tower hangar, “We tried to deal with the sitch on our own, but…this guy is just in a whole other UNIVERSE. Anything you can tell us would help.”
“Just who IS this dude?” Ron chimed in, trying to kick things off with the simplest question he could start with.
“He's a liability,” Hego replied just as simply, wearing an annoyed frown.
“Oh, just because YOU didn't get along with him…Would you stop? He's fine,” Mego spoke back dismissively.
“He's a lunatic!” Hego argued.
“Come on, Hego…He's not THAT bad.” The Wego twins protested.
“Hey, do you know if he still puts out the garden gnomes on Halloween? Because I've gotta tell you, I've NEVER laughed so hard,” Mego asked Kim and Ron, his voice full of anticipation. The mere mention of garden gnomes, however, caused Ron to let out a slight shudder.
“Uh…we're not going to talk about that one, okay?” Kim replied, respecting Ron's feelings on the subject as she put her arm around him reassuringly, “Guys, can we focus here? We'd like to know exactly what kind of powers this guy has.”
“Well, he couldn't throw lightning bolts or disappear in a puff of smoke when WE knew him, that's for sure,” Hego answered. The mention of it even had Mego and the twins looking surprised and shrugging their shoulders.
“So what COULD he do?” Ron asked, following up on Kim's question.
“Well, to be honest, not really much of anything,” Hego replied with a shrug, “I mean, he didn't have much in the way of athletic skills…”
“…or coordination…” Mego added.
“…or talent…or forethought…” the Wego twins piped up.
“Well, there was ONE thing he had going for him,” Hego mentioned after a moment of thought, “I guess the best way to describe it would be this…incredible good luck. It was like no matter what kind of trouble he got into…”
“…And I have to say, he got into a LOT of trouble with the bad guys…” Mego interjected as the Wegos nodded in agreement.
“…No matter WHAT kind of trouble he got into…!” Hego started to say again, reasserting himself, “…he just…always seemed to get out of it okay. I remember one time he fell off a building and a rope caught his ankle and saved him.”
“Don't forget the time the giant robot was going to fall on him…And missed him completely,” the Wego twins added.
“Uh, okay Kim?” Ron whispered to her with a concerned look, “Am I crazy, or…is this guy starting to sound a lot like…me?”
Kim could only reply with a similar troubled expression as Rufus let out a series of worried whimpers. Just then, she and Ron found themselves thinking back to something Max had said shortly after they met him…
…“I mean hey, I used to BE him. I can understand what he's going through.”…
“Okay, but if that was what he was like seven years ago…what's changed? Obviously, he's been doing some upgrading. But what kind?” Kim commented thoughtfully. Just then, she and Ron looked at each other as they both flashed back to something else Max had said the day before. It didn't seem like anything at the time, but at that moment…
…“It's maaaaaaaagiiiiiiiic. Neat, huh?”…
“We thought he was just kidding around. What if he WAS trying to tell us something?” Kim mused, still looking at Ron before turning the Kimmunicator, “Wade, I need you to drop everything else about Maximillion Ambro and cross reference his name with anything involving magic. Talismans, wizards, fact, fiction, anything you can find, no matter how small or insignificant.”
“That's a lot of data to crunch, Kim. It might take me a while,” Wade replied, “Where is this coming from all of a sudden?”
“Call it a hunch,” Kim said with a shrug, “It's a long shot, I know. But it's worth a try. Let me know if you find anything.”
“Okay, so let's just say for the sake of conversation that this guy didn't bring too much to the hero scene,” Ron inquired, “Just…how did you guys get to know him?”
“Well, to be honest, the person you should be talking to about THAT is Shego. I mean…,” Hego began to say, although the waving of hands and nervous expressions of his brothers seemed to indicate that that was an extraordinarily bad idea.
“Shego?” Kim thought out loud, “What does SHE have to do with…”
Suddenly, a thundering roar echoed in their ears as an explosion ripped through the air! Instantly, Kim, Ron and Team Go looked over to see a giant hole blown into the wall of the Go Tower! But a dim pair of green glows shining through the settling dust made it clear who the culprit was, even before her scowling face came into view.
“Sh-She-e-e-e-eg-o-o-o-o-o-o,” Mego and the Wegos shuddered as they clung to each other in fear.
“WHERE IS HE!?!?!” Shego snarled before storming across the room right past Kim and Ron, making a beeline straight for Hego.
“Uh…greetings, Sister. “You're, uh…looking well…,” Hego announced nervously. But his words were cut off as Shego grabbed the collar of his uniform and pulled him down to look him dead in the eyes.
“Hego, I am NOT kidding around.” Shego spoke threateningly through gritted teeth, “I know he was here in town yesterday. I'm only going to ask one more time… WHERE…IS HE?”
But before Hego could respond, Kim intervened, running up and grabbing Shego's shoulder to try and pull her away. Acting on instinct, Shego lashed out with a plasma-charged backhand slash! But her hand struck nothing but air as Kim easily dodged the attack, heading back towards Ron with a pair of backflips.
“Sounds like you need a timeout, Shego,” Kim announced defiantly as she and Ron stood their ground.
“Oh, and look who's here!” Shego growled, as if she hadn't noticed them before. But it didn't seem to faze her in the least as she now had a new target for her anger.
“Now you listen to me! I don't know what rock you found him under!” Shego growled as she stomped over to Kim and Ron, her eyes almost glowing in rage as her voice rose to a full blown roar, “But YOU two…have got SOME nerve…running around…with MY…EX…BOYFRIEND!!!!!”
“EX-BOYFRIEND?!?!” Kim and Ron blurted out at each other before turning back to Shego in a complete state of shock! Even Rufus's jaw dropped in disbelief! But their surprise only doubled as none other than Maximillion himself suddenly peered up over Shego's shoulder! He was wearing the same outfit and hairstyle he'd worn the day before against Electronique. He even had the cane and the same toothy grin. But before anyone could react, he whipped a digital camera out in front of his face, pointing it right at the still-stunned trio.
“Hold that pose!” he announced cheerfully.
“Thank you!”
Kim, Ron and the Team Go brothers had no idea what to think as they just stood rooted to their spots. They could only stare at Max with bewildered looks as he stood just a few steps away, suddenly howling with laughter at the fresh photo of Kim and Ron and Rufus staring into the camera with wide eyes and gaping jaws.
“Oh, this is just too perfect!” he snickered gleefully, “I mean seriously, that couldn't have been a better shot if I'd planned it!”
The only one in the room not in a state of confusion however, was Shego. Every muscle in her body was tensed like a steel spring as her hands blazed and a twisted scowl crossed her face. Suddenly, as if she might explode if she waited a second longer, she leaped straight forward, slashing at Max with a yell of rage!
Shego's attack was right on target, but to her shock, it failed to hit the mark. Kim and the others could only look on and gasp as Max's body seemed to turn to vapor, sending Shego flying harmlessly through him and skidding along the floor face first! But Shego's failed attack only made her more incensed as she whipped back onto her feet and whirled around, glaring at Max, whose body slowly reformed and turned solid again. Max, meanwhile, simply stared at Shego with an expression of wide-eyed innocence.
“You know, if you wanted to be in the picture, you could have just asked,” he stated with a shrug before flashing Shego a goofy smile. But Shego clearly wasn't in the mood for jokes as she charged forward, slashing at Max once more. But a split second before her attack connected, Max popped away in another cloud of smoke and glitter, only to appear just a few steps away, throwing an amused grin and a playful fluttery wave. Again and again Shego lashed out, only to have Max evade every single one of her attacks with the same disappearing act. Until finally, as Shego lunged forward with a plasma charged punch, Max simply reached up and effortlessly caught her blazing fist just inches from his face. Shego, meanwhile, could only look on, stunned.
“You know Shego, I've gotta tell you, I don't remember you being this slow a learner,” he said with a simple grin. But an instant later, Max twirled around hard, dragging Shego with him into a forming tornado right inside the Go Tower hangar! The vortex itself was only a fraction of the size and power of a real tornado, but it was still powerful enough that Hego had to use his super strength to prevent his brothers from being sucked inside! Meanwhile, Ron had to change into his Mystical Monkey Power form, holding Kim close and gripping Rufus in the palm of his hand! But within seconds, the twisting winds subsided as Max slowed his spin and finally released Shego, sending her spiraling across the room and slamming into the far wall! Max, meanwhile, was standing in the middle of the room, grinning from ear to ear and posing as if he'd just finished a dance number.
“Let me guess. He couldn't do THAT before either,” Kim said with an annoyed tone as Ron let her go. Hego and his brothers could only shake their heads in reply as they looked on with wide-eyed shock. Meanwhile, Shego was still trying to clear her head as she stumbled away from the wall, murmuring in a daze. And Max seemed all too willing to help with her recovery as he suddenly popped up behind her once again, gently rubbing her shoulders.
“Aye, but ye're so tense, Sheeeego, me lass. I daresay ye be in need of a long vaceeetion. Hew `bewt a noice trip dewn t'the Emerald Oisle. Waddeye sey?” he said jokingly. But Shego could only hold her head and groan.
“Not the Irish accent. Anything but the Irish accent…,” She muttered through gritted teeth, her voice rising to a roar, “YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I HATE THAT!!!”
Once again, Shego whirled around and slashed at Max! But once again, Shego's attack only passed through the same puff of smoke and glitter. Instantly she whipped back around, only to see him standing upside down as if he were floating, balancing on the head of his cane with only his index finger.
“Well YAH,” he replied with a shrug, “But I can't be messing with your head if I'm doing stuff you like. THINK!!”
With that, Max flipped back to his feet and turned his back to her, walking back towards Kim and the others, who still had no idea what to make of the situation.
“Honestly,” he continued with a chuckle, twirling his cane before snapping it over his shoulder, “I would have thought you'd have figured that out by now.”
Max didn't seem to have a care in the world as he calmly walked away. But at the same time, he had left his back to Shego completely unprotected. And Shego was never one to let a mistake go unpunished as she quietly slunk forward before running up and leaping high into the air, bringing her flashing fists right down onto his head!
“Look out!” Kim cried out, instantly forgetting everything she had seen so far. But she soon realized how unnecessary her warning was. Because an instant later, Shego's body struck what appeared to be a transparent dome that was surrounding not only Max, but Kim and the others as well. And the barrier not only repelled the attack, it sent Shego flying back and bouncing along the hangar floor!
“Don't hurt yourself, Sweetie!” Max called over his shoulder with an amused chuckle before joining the others. Kim, meanwhile, had had just about enough of his amusement as she stormed over to him with an aggravated frown.
“Okay, just what is your sitch?! You just stroll into our lives one day without telling us a single thing about you?! And suddenly, you're popping in and out of nowhere, fighting bad guys, showing off new super powers every five minutes?! And THEN we find out that not only did you used to hang out with THEM, but you used to date HER?!” Kim shouted at a still grinning Max as she pointed at Shego, who was still outside, slashing furiously at his barrier with no effect.
“Impulsive little scamp, ain't I?” Max replied cheerfully. Shego, meanwhile, powered up and unleashed a pair of full force plasma blasts at Max's shield. But the blasts simply bounced right back at her.
“Aah!” was all Shego could blurt out as she was sent flying.
“Okay, dude? Not for nothing, but this whole cryptic thing you're on? Not so good for the credibility,” Ron stated with a cautioned whisper, ignoring Shego's efforts to break in along with everyone else. Her next attempt involved stomping back with a steel bar and whaling away with everything she had. But in the end, the result was simply a bar bent in half, which she immediately heaved across the hangar with a growl of frustration.
“Oh, come on. It's just good clean fun,” Max said in his own defense before pulling out his digital camera once again, “Besides, how else can I come up with quality shots like this?”
Taking another look at his saved photo of a stunned Kim, Ron and Rufus, Max couldn't help but start giggling once again. Kim and Ron and Rufus, meanwhile, could each only give an annoyed eye roll before they looked over and saw Team Go on the other side of the dome, staring in Max's direction. Mego and the Wegos seemed oddly amused by the sight, but Hego merely flashed a stern frown.
“Okay, aside from the magic tricks, he…he really hasn't changed a bit, has he?” Mego noted, fighting the urge to laugh himself.
“Nope,” Hego replied simply with an irritated tone.
“Oh…I'm sorry,” Max said, a few stray chuckles managing to get out as he tried to calm himself back down, “I'm easily amused.”
“Well, that makes one of you,” Kim commented, pointing back at Shego, who was still going largely unnoticed. By this time, however, she was biting and gnawing at Max's barrier with a wild glare in her eyes. Lost for any other options, she had finally resigned herself to trying to tear through the dome with her teeth.
“Awwww,” Max said, turning to Kim and the others with a wide grin, “She's just so cute when she's crazed.”
“He's calling HER crazed?” Ron muttered to Kim under his breath.
“Okay, listen, I've gotta ask,” Max said calmly, walking over to Kim and Ron and taking them aside, “Would you guys mind too terribly if I took care of this one? I mean, I don't want to look like I'm moving in on anybody's turf here, because don't get me wrong. You guys have done a phenomenal job of handling her, believe me. But this time…I get the sense she has some things she needs to get off her chest.”
“Dude, just how bad a breakup WAS this?” Ron felt the need to ask.
“Well, what can I say? Some people, they go bad, they just can't handle rejection,” Max answered with a shrug, “Go figure.”
“Now hang on. I don't know about this…,” Kim said, looking over at Shego and feeling very unsure about everything that was happening at that moment.
“Oh, come on. Don't worry. She'll be fine,” Max answered, putting his hand on Kim's shoulder with a smile before lifting his sunglasses over his eyes and tossing her a playful wink, “Trust me.”
Before Kim could object, Max reached up and snapped his fingers, instantly filling the entire hangar with smoke and glitter. No one was able to see anything, until a few seconds later, when the haze dissolved almost as quickly as it had appeared. And Kim and the others were surprised to find themselves standing on the catwalk overlooking the hangar from the far wall, while Max and Shego stood just a few yards apart on the hangar floor, staring each other down.
“Okay, what just happened?” Ron blurted out in confusion as he and Rufus tried to shake the cobwebs out of their heads.
“Okay Shego, you called this meeting. So what's it gonna be?” Max called over to her with a confident smile, instantly regaining everyone's attention, “Is this just some light sparring? Or am I gonna have to put some…you know, actual EFFORT into this?”
“We'll just see how smug you are after I rip that smirk off your face, you jerk!” Shego hollered back, her hands blazing so brightly that it almost seemed to give her entire upper body a faint green glow.
“Well…this sounds like it should entertain me briefly,” Max replied, looking completely unconcerned as he twirled his cane, whipping it over his shoulder before raising his free hand to Shego with a “come here” wave, “So…tell daddy how you want it.”
There was no longer any need for words as Shego charged forward, yelling in rage! But Max's expression refused to change as he lowered his cane, which immediately began to glow. As Kim looked on, the glow from Max's cane looked almost the same as Shego's plasma powers, but it was glowing white instead of green. Shego, meanwhile, didn't seem to notice as she slashed forward right at Max's face! But Max seemed to have no trouble at all simply raising his cane to block the strike and the fight was on!
What came next looked like a kung fu movie fight scene crossed with a sci-fi laser show as Shego traded strikes with Max, who was wielding his cane like a sword, dodging and blocking Shego's slashing attacks and whirling kicks. It only took Kim a few moments to get a general idea of Max's fighting style and it was clear right away that he didn't have Shego's style or finesse. Some of his movements seemed blocky and rigid as opposed to Shego's attacks, which were smooth and fluid. He also didn't have nearly the same level of ferocity either as he seemed to be fighting a more offsetting, defensive battle, in sharp contrast to Shego's full on blitzkrieg assault. But despite the vast difference in experience and fierceness, it seemed to be doing little to give Shego an advantage. Because Max was able to either dodge her attacks completely or use his cane to redirect her strikes or block them like a solid wall. But even more surprising than that, as Kim looked on, she noticed Max was taking a small half step forward every few seconds during the fight. He hadn't made a single offensive move against her, and yet he was managing to gradually force Shego back!
Still, Kim didn't have time to be impressed. Whatever else this fight may be, it was also acting as the perfect distraction for both Shego and Max. And if there was ever a time to get the answers she needed, it was now.
“Come on,” she whispered to Ron, grabbing him by the arm as she managed to tear herself away from the spectacle taking place below, “We've still got some questions to ask.”
“Aw, come on KP,” Ron protested silently, “I mean, look at them down there. One of them's gonna do something. And you KNOW it's gonna be good.”
“Oh, alright,” Ron said in a disappointed tone as Rufus whimpered from his shoulder. Forcing himself to turn away from the battle raging below, Ron could only hang his head as Kim led him over to Shego's brother's, who were still looking on with awe at the scene taking place in front of their eyes.
“Hego, we need to know more. Just what is going on here?” Kim asked, “Shego called Max her `ex-boyfriend'. Like, they actually DATED? I mean, no offense to anyone, but somehow, he doesn't strike me as her type.”
“I don't know if you could call what they had a real relationship. It was more like a relationship of convenience,” Hego answered with a sigh, “Maybe I should start at the beginning. See, Max and Shego met when they were just starting high school. By this time, Shego's attitude was starting to sour and she didn't really get along well with anyone. Max was the only boy in school who would actually go near her, the only one she couldn't intimidate. I guess that was what she liked about him at first. The next thing we knew, they were spending all their time together. As soon as he found out about the whole Team Go thing, he wanted in. Shego let him tag along sometimes.”
“Even though he didn't have any powers to defend himself?” Kim reacted with a hint of surprise.
“Well, Max always had more guts than brains, I guess you could say,” Hego replied, “He was nice enough, but he wouldn't let himself be intimidated by anyone, which brought out this smart-alecky, smug side to him. He was a bit of a prankster, not afraid to thumb his nose at authority. I didn't particularly care for that, but it became another thing Shego liked about him. She saw him as a rebel, like her. And then there was that luck of his. It was like there were absolutely no consequences to anything he did, which made his rebellious side that much worse. He started seeing himself as untouchable.”
“Oh Hego, stop painting him like some punk,” Mego protested, “He wasn't that bad.”
“You're just saying that because every time one of you got into trouble, he'd turn around and defend you whenever I tried to keep you in line,” Hego argued, pointing at his brothers, “Honestly, you three were no better than animals whenever he was around.”
“Come on Hego, quit tiptoeing around it…Why don't you tell them the REAL reason you don't like him?” the Wego twins chimed in, throwing themselves into the argument.
“What are they talking about?” Kim asked, hoping to steer the conversation back on track.
“When Shego left the team…Hego blamed Max. He thought that Max was the one who talked her into it,” Mego answered before Hego had a chance to react, “It wasn't until a few years later that we found out he broke up with her. But this big lummox STILL won't let it go.”
“They both disappeared at the same time! What other conclusion would you come to?!” Hego protested. Mego, however, only responded by flapping his hand like a barking dog and making “blah, blah, blah” looks with his face.
“So…do you know exactly what happened between them?” Kim asked, trying to sound as sensitive as she could, broaching the subject, “You know…how they broke up?”
“No one really knows,” Hego said with a shrug, “Shego could probably answer that. But just TRY to get anything out of HER.”
Everyone's attention immediately turned back to Shego's fight with Max, which was continuing to rage below. After finally realizing that close combat wasn't getting her anywhere, Shego jumped back, firing a volley of full on plasma blasts! But Max responded to the change of tactics by pulling a large black disk from his jacket, which popped out into a top hat. And with some quick movements, he used the hat to catch every blast aimed at him, each one disappearing inside.
“Okay, TIME OUT!” he called, throwing his hand up in a halting motion. Everyone, including Shego could only look on confused until Max tucked his cane under his arm and reached into the hat. But to everyone's added surprise, all he ended up pulling out was nothing but a steaming cup of tea.
“Thanks. It WAS getting a little cold,” he stated cheerfully in Shego's direction before sipping from the cup, closing his eyes and taking a moment to savor his drink, “Oh yeah, that's the stuff.”
Shego was mad enough before, but at that moment, she was completely humiliated. To think that he had just used her attack to warm a stupid drink?! Roaring in anger, she unleashed a huge two-handed blast at Max, just as he was flattening out his top hat and shoving it back into his jacket. But Max seemed to pay it no heed as he calmly took another sip of his tea, reaching his free hand across his chest. Then, with a simple backhand swipe, his hand gripped the blast as it reached him and effortlessly shoved it aside, sending it exploding harmlessly into the opposite wall from where Kim and the others were looking on!
“Haaaaaah, that's better,” he stated, finishing his second sip. Then, vanishing the used cup into his jacket, he pulled out his cane and did something no one had expected. Floating just millimeters off the ground, he burst forward, flying towards Shego like a bolt as he yelled out, his cane prepared to strike.
Caught off guard by the sudden offense and blinding speed, Shego couldn't help but flinch as Max bore down on her, but suddenly, a soft *poof!* sound entered her ears and she opened her eyes only to be greeted by a haze of smoke and glitter. Whirling around, she saw Max standing just a few feet away, leaning back on his cane and flashing a calm smile.
“Right here, Sweet Cheeks,” he called out invitingly, pointing at his jaw with his free hand. Shego only let out an angry growl as she glared at him.
“DON'T…CALL ME THAT!!!” she shouted, so enraged at this point that a tiny vein was starting to appear on her forehead.
“Okay, is he even trying?” Ron had to ask as Rufus looked on with a surprised gaze, “Because…I don't think he's trying.”
“You're right. It's like he's just…PLAYING with her,” Kim agreed, shrugging her shoulders. Shego, meanwhile, had once again surrendered to her rage and once again charged towards Max, who simply smiled.
“She can't win,” Kim admitted to herself, shaking her head as she looked on at Shego's futile attempts to take Max down, “There's just no way. But why doesn't she see that? She's smarter than this.”
“Not in this case,” Hego answered, “Unfortunately, Max has always been one area where Shego has never been in her most logical mindset,”
“Yeah, when they were getting along, it was one thing…But whenever they got into a fight, you KNEW it was going to be EPIC,” The Wego twins added.
“You know, she'd get mad and he'd get all smug and play the “Calm, Cool and Collected” card, mostly because he knew it bugged her,” Mego continued, “Of course, I never complained, because any time she got mad at HIM was a time she wasn't getting mad at US.”
“Maybe not at YOU,” Hego corrected, “But who was the one who had to step in every time to break it up?”
“I guess it's no real surprise they didn't stay together,” Kim commented.
“I'd heard they ran into each other a couple years ago,” Mego added, “I don't know what happened, and I'm not about to ask. But I guess Shego's been fuming about it ever since.”
Shego, meanwhile, continued her assault, but to no avail, as Max deflected one of her strikes with his cane. An instant later, Max twisted his cane up and over to slide the end of it right under Shego's arm. And with a flick of his wrist, he effortlessly flipped Shego back over his head in a 10-foot arc with his cane. Shego could only blurt out a yell of shock as she went flying. But without even turning around, Max snapped his fingers and pointed right at her, halting her fall and leaving Shego floating in mid-air. Then, by slowly lowering his hand, Shego was eased back to the ground to land safely on her feet. But a second later, he found himself blurting out a quick laugh before turning back to face her.
“Aw, come on, Shego,” he chuckled, as he shrugged at her, “I mean, we both know I'm gonna win, but at LEAST make me WORK for it.”
That was all Shego was going to take! At that moment, she was completely resolved to winning this fight and she didn't care what she had to do to make it happen! As her hands flashed brighter and brighter, it looked as if she was putting all the energy she had left into one final all-out assault. An assault she launched a moment later and she ran forward, yelling in anger as her hands locked together into one giant fist!
“Ooooo,” Max uttered in an impressed tone as he brought up his free hand, which suddenly burst with a flash of electricity! Tiny ribbons of electrical energy coiled up his arm and licked the air around him as Max confidently stood his ground against Shego, who wasn't backing down as she continued stampeding towards him. Then, as Shego scowled in rage and Max flashed a crazed grin of anticipation, both combatants lunged forward, their fists connecting in an explosion of clashing energies!
A loud boom echoed through the hangar as Kim and the others struggled to see through the blinding flash. But a moment later, it became all too clear who had won this last exchange. Shego had been thrown clear by the blast and was sent bouncing back along the hangar floor before rolling to a stop, lying face down as she struggled to get back up. But Max, meanwhile, was still on his feet, having only been knocked back a couple of steps! And if that wasn't enough, the worst he seemed to have taken was a slight twitch in the hand he'd used to counter Shego's attack!
“Oooohoohoohoohoohoohoooooo, tingly,” he commented with a wicked chuckle, staring at his shuddering hand before turning back to Shego, “Now THAT'S more like it.”
“Don't you…ever shut up?” Shego panted and she tried desperately to get back on her feet.
“Sheesh, I pay you a compliment and this is the thanks I get,” Max responded, rolling his eyes through his sunglasses as he crossed his arms, “How many times have I told you to lighten up?”
Shego's only reply was a groan of effort as she lunged upward into a standing position, her hands starting to blaze once again. But by this time, Kim had seen just about enough. While she still didn't know any more than she did before about Max's full range of abilities, it was clear from the beginning that he could have ended this fight in 10 seconds if he'd wanted to. He was only prolonging it for his own amusement and was only interested in that end. Shego, however, was completely out of control. The recklessness of her last attack was proof of that. If this fight went on any more, it wouldn't be much longer before she got herself or someone else seriously hurt. And Kim wasn't about to let that happen just so Max could get a few more laughs.
“Come on,” she motioned to Ron, “We've got to put a stop to this.”
Just as Shego prepared to launch another attack, Kim and Ron leaped over the guardrail of the catwalk, landing right between her and Max. Kim stood with a firm defense, staring down Shego, while Ron placed Rufus on the floor before standing back up to face Max. Frowning in determination, Ron's body flashed as he clenched his fists tightly and changed into his Mystical Monkey Power form. But as soon as he saw Ron's transformation, Max's eyes suddenly went wide.
“Well…Mystical Monkey Power, huh?” Max commented with a chuckle, catching Ron off guard, “I thought that was what it was, but I wasn't sure. It's a magic that's been lost for so long. But wow…that is some pretty potent stuff you've got there. Man, I'm even MORE impressed now.”
“W…wait a minute,” Ron blurted out, still surprised by Max's statement as he turned to Rufus, would could only shrug in confusion himself, “How much do you know?”
“Oooo, a LOT,” Max replied playfully with a wide grin.
“Uh, excuse me. Could we wrap this up? One of us has to be up at 1 a.m. so she can get to her classes on time,” Kim interjected sarcastically as she turned her head in Max and Ron's direction. But Shego was quick to take advantage of the opening. And Max was actually caught off guard as he saw Shego run up, tagging Kim across the face with a roundhouse kick and sending her flying into the wall beside them!
“KIM!” Ron shouted, whirling around in fury and slamming his fist into the hangar floor, sending an avalanche of concrete in Shego's direction! But Shego simply rode out Ron's assault on a piece of the shifting floor, almost like a surfer on a wave as she landed safely a few feet away. Ron, meanwhile, could have continued attacking, but he was far more concerned about seeing to Kim's well-being as he and Rufus both ran over to her. Team Go, meanwhile, still stood on the catwalk, looking on in awe at what Ron had just done.
“Okay, how did he do that?” Mego asked. Hego, meanwhile, could only shrug his shoulders and shake his head with a wide-eyed expression.
“I'm okay,” Kim said, rubbing her head with a slight groan as Ron helped her up to her feet. But Kim's frustration was far more focused on Max than it was on Shego and she and Ron both stood at the side, glaring at him.
“Don't you think this has gone on long enough?!” Kim yelled out, her words seeming to finally get through to Max. Looking around, the true impact of what was going on seemed to finally hit him. The destroyed parts of the hangar, Kim getting hurt, leading to her and Ron both getting angry at him. And then, there was Shego, who was so incensed, she didn't seem to be noticing anything except for Max. This had started out as just some harmless fun for him, but it was quickly drifting away from that. And as he began to realize it, all Max could do was slump his shoulders and sigh in concession.
“Agreed,” he admitted quietly with a slight nod. But Shego had no intention of letting it end there as she charged forward again, ready for more! Kim and Ron immediately sprang into action, jumping back in between Shego and Max and bracing themselves to take Shego down if they had to. But it was as if Shego didn't even see them, she was so focused on destroying her real target. Before Kim and Ron could launch a counter attack, however, Max suddenly appeared in front of them, throwing out his hand and gently pressing his first two fingers against Shego's forehead.
“Relax,” he said with a calm smile, “You've had a busy day.”
Shego looked almost stunned as Max pressed his fingers against her, but a moment later, her eyes began to droop as she let out a groan and slumped over him, completely unconscious. As Shego hung off his shoulder, letting out sleepy sighs and moans, Max turned his attention to Kim and Ron. His expression, though, had definitely changed. It was far more somber than it had been just a few short moments ago.
“Sorry about that, Chief,” he said with a shrug, “Sometimes I need a little smack in the head to get me back to reality.”
With that, Max snapped his fingers and a brilliant flash filled the room. When it passed, the entire hangar was standing just as it was before! There was no indication that a battle had even taken place at all. Again, Kim and Ron could only look on in surprise again as Max tossed them a reassuring smile.
“Never let it be said that I don't clean up after myself,” he stated before turning his attention back to a sleeping Shego, still hanging off him, “Okay, I've just gotta take her home now. Don't go anywhere, okay? I'll be right back.”
And before anyone could say anything, Max and Shego had both disappeared in yet another burst of smoke and glitter. And as Team Go climbed down to join them, Kim and Ron were left standing in the middle of the room, shrugging at each other and trying to process exactly what all they had just witnessed.
… … … …
“Shego?! Are you back yet?! Get the door!” Dr. Drakken called from the back room as the sound of the doorbell echoed through the lair. But all he got was silence until he heard the doorbell ring a second time.
“Shego?! Are you out there?! Could you get the door please?!” Drakken called again. And again, silence was his only reply. A few moments later, the doorbell rang a third time.
“Shego, I mean it! If you could have gotten the door and I go out there to find you lounging around, I'm going to be really mad!” Drakken whined, his voice getting louder as he came closer to the main hall. But all he saw was an empty room. As the doorbell rang a fourth time, Drakken could only sigh and shrug as he walked across the main hall to the front door and opened it.
“Oh, thank you!” Maximillion Ambro rasped as he burst into the room, cradling an unconscious Shego in his arms. Desperately looking for a place to set her down, he stumbled across the room and placed her on an empty couch as gently, but as quickly as he could.
“Whew! Sorry about that. She's put on a little weight since the last time,” Max panted, trying shake the aches from his arms before throwing up his hands in a cautionary gesture, “But…you didn't hear that from me.”
“Ooookaaaaaaaay,” Drakken replied, raising his eyebrow curiously, “And…you are…”
“Oh…I apologize again. Name's Maximillion Ambro, you can call me Max,” Max replied as he walked back over to Drakken, giving his hand a welcoming shake, “And you must be the new guy. I've actually wanted to meet you for quite a while now. Look, can I just say what a HUGE relief it's been to know that she's finally found somebody? I mean, she had me REALLY worried for a while there.”
“Uh huh,” Drakken replied cynically, still not sure who this stranger was or what he was talking about, “And who are you again exactly?”
“Told you, the name's Max,” Max replied, backing up to the front door of the lair, “Don't worry, we're going to have plenty of time to get to know each other. Anyway, she's had a bit of a rough day here, so if I were you, I would just let her sleep for as long as possible. And uh, FYI? If you've got anything particularly fragile in here, you might want to hide it somewhere, `cause…when she wakes up, she's probably gonna want to start breaking things. Okay, gotta run. See ya in the funny papers.”
With that, Max was gone, slamming the front door behind him and leaving Drakken still in a daze after his whirlwind introduction. Only a few sleepy murmurs from Shego caused him to turn his attention back to her, wondering what could have possibly happened as Shego curled up on the couch and continued to sleep.
… … … …
“After Shego left the team…it just wasn't fun to be around her anymore,” Max said with a shrug, sitting across from Kim, Ron and Rufus in the Mucho Grande Bueno Nacho with Team Go listening intently from the next booth, “So I got out…went to school…tried to get on with my life. Still, I'd be lying if I said I haven't been checking in on her from time to time. I WAS hoping those Child Development courses she took a few years back might turn her around, but I guess they didn't take.”
“Riiiight. Look, I'm going to assume that whatever these abilities of yours are, you've had them for quite a while,” Kim noted, a suspicious undertone lingering in her voice, “So why didn't you ever do something about her?”
“Well, I admit, the thought had occurred to me,” Max replied simply, rolling his eyes thoughtfully, “But by the time I got out of college, you guys were already around. And you were doing a pretty good job of keeping her under control, so I figured, what did you need me for? Of course, once I found out about you guys, I found something new to be interested in.”
Max paused briefly to take a sip of his Slurpster. But as he put it down, he looked intently at Kim and Ron, reaching up his hand and slowly pointing at them both one at a time.
“You…and you…are the reason I got back in the game.”
Kim and Ron could only look at each other curiously. Even Rufus didn't know what to make of what Max had just said. But at that moment, Max's watch suddenly let out a pair of beeps.
“Oh man, would you look at that?” he thought out loud before leaning across the table towards Kim and Ron, “I'm sorry, but our time's up for today.”
“Whoa Dude, where are you going?” Ron exclaimed as Max stood up from the booth and started walking off, “You didn't even tell us where you got your powers from or anything!”
“Yeah!” Rufus protested.
“What? It's not like the world's going to end tomorrow. We've got plenty of time to talk about that,” Max replied before turning around and walking away again. Kim was silent for a long moment as Max headed for the door. But just as he reached for the handle, she finally spoke, stopping him dead in his tracks.
“Wait…I have to know…,” she said before turning around to look at him from the booth, “…Why us?”
Max didn't answer right away as he turned around to stare at her curious gaze. A moment later, his eyes stared out into space as he gave a thoughtful shrug.
“Curiosity, I guess,” he finally replied, before offering her and Ron a reassuring, but still slightly excited smile, “I've been keeping an eye on you for quite a while now and I've gotta say, straight up…you guys have just blown my mind. Honestly…I can't wait to see what you two are going to be capable of when you actually get to legal age.”
“Uh huh. And, uh…just what makes you think you're going to start rolling with us?” Kim asked cynically. After all, it was more than just a little presumptuous of Max to think he could just invite himself to join their team. But when presented with Kim's question, Max simply gave a lighthearted chuckle.
“What, are you kidding? Come on, you're gonna like having me around,” he replied, pulling out his sunglasses before tossing them a playful wink, “Trust me.”
With that, Max put on his sunglasses and twirled his cane before slinging it over his shoulder and turning back to the door with a happy whistle. And as Kim and the others looked on, he seemed to vanish into thin air as he walked outside. There didn't seem to be anything more they could do, so Kim and Ron simply turned back to their table. But Team Go had other thoughts on their mind besides just Max.
“Man, Shego has NEVER been that mad before…Whatever happened between them, it couldn't have been good,” The Wego Twins thought out loud. Hego and Mego could only nod in agreement from the other side of their booth.
“Maybe,” Kim said, looking at Ron as they maneuvered themselves into the conversation, “Still, he did seem to go out of his way not to hurt Shego through that whole fight. It kind of makes me wonder…do you think he still has feelings for her?”
“There was a time he never would have left her,” Hego answered with a shrug, “I guess…he just grew up faster than she did.”
A brief moment of silence followed as no one was sure exactly what to say or do next. Suddenly, the beep of the Kimmunicator sounded off, instantly getting Kim's attention.
“Go Wade,” she announced, eager for something she could wrap her head around after a day of well-rounded craziness.
“Kim, I think I may have something,” Wade said, rattling off on his keyboard, “I don't have it nailed down yet, it's kind of a long shot. But if what I found does have something to do with Maximillion Ambro, I wanted to let you know right away. Because…well…if this is accurate, we may be in over our heads on this one.”
“How `over'?” Kim asked, not feeling particularly reassured.
“Well, since I didn't have anything else to go on, I thought I'd start by going through historical records and myths, hoping I could find any ancestors with backgrounds in magic,” Wade explained, “And while I was doing that, I came across one name over and over…Aurelius Ambrosius.”
“Hmmm, Ambrosius…Ambro…sounds promising,” Kim said thoughtfully, “Who was he?”
“Are you kidding? He was a legend,” Wade answered, “The man grew up to be one of the greatest wizards of all time.”
“Well…not to sound arrogant or anything, but if this guy was so great, how come I've never heard of him?” Kim responded with a shrug.
“Kim,” Wade looked right at her with a serious gaze, “Aurelius Ambrosius was the birth name of Merlin.”
“MERLIN!?!?!?” Kim, Ron and Team Go yelled into the Kimmunicator with unified shock! Even Rufus had to let out a shocked chatter. Just then, a gentle rap was heard at the window beside them. And they all turned their stunned expressions to the window, only to see Max standing outside with his digital camera in hand.
“Say cheese!”
Looking at the newly saved picture, Max could only laugh out loud with glee as he vanished into thin air. Meanwhile, Kim and the others could only stare outside the window with looks of shock frozen to their faces.
“Something tells me…our lives just got a LOT more complicated,” Kim uttered, her jaw still hanging open.
… … … …
A small forest off the coast of England…
All was quiet. Birds were chirping, the wind was rustling through the trees. At first glance, there would be absolutely nothing to indicate that anything was out of the ordinary in such a peaceful, secluded place. Unless of course, someone chanced to look at down and notice a rather large mound of earth slinking along the ground like a snake.
The strange mound continued moving on deeper into the forest, until it arrived at a small cave. Upon reaching the entrance, the earth seemed to grow and shift, forming into a large, crude human shape, with blood red eyes…the same red eyes that had been spying on Kim and Ron the day before in Go City. With only a simple grunt, the giant of sand trudged inside the cave. After a few minutes, the tunnel opened up into a dark room where a lone figure sat in the shadows.
“You've kept me waiting for two days,” a female voice rose from the darkness, “You'd better have good news for me.”
“Far be it for me to question your great wisdom, Milady,” the sand figure spoke in a tone that seemed far more intelligent and civilized than its lumbering form would have anyone believe, “But had you wanted me to arrive sooner, would it not have been a simple matter for you to bring me here yourself with your…?”
“I don't want to hear the end of any sentences!” the female stranger commanded, throwing up her hand in dismissal, “Tell me…you found him.”
“I have,” the behemoth replied as a twisted smile crossed its cragged face. Upon hearing his answer, the female stranger flashed a smile of her own that could even be seen in the darkness.
“Show me.”
Rising to her feet, the strange woman walked forward to her giant servant, pressing her fingers to its protruding forehead to see the image in its mind. The image was the same one from the day before, Kim and Ron standing in front of Maximillion Ambro and the defeated Electronique. Seeing the image for herself, the woman could only let out an evil chuckle of satisfaction.
“So…you're the new Merlin,” she gloated, “Well…don't get too comfortable with that title…”
The woman paused as her hand suddenly blazed with fire, lighting up the entire cave. As light filled the room, the giant saw the image of its master, with long, sandy blond hair, eyes such a light blue they almost seemed to glow and a gray plated body armor with a flowing red cape. Suddenly, her face flashed an evil grin as she tightly clutched the long wooden staff in her free hand.
“…Because as of right now…,” she hissed wickedly, “…you're mine.”