Kim Possible Fan Fiction ❯ The More Things Change... ❯ The More Things Change... Part 3 ( Chapter 3 )

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Kim Possible: The More Things Change…
Part 3
By Aaron
…Two months earlier…
“This is it…this is really it!”
Maria Novak couldn't help but be excited. Her dream was about to become a reality. Ever since she was a little girl, she'd been fascinated by the King Arthur legends. In truth, it was the pursuit of legends that led to her study of archeology. Of course, as she soon began to realize, some legends were truer than others and over time, her obsession with Arthur, Merlin and the Knights if the Round Table began to be seen by some of her peers as nothing more than a mindless indulgence. Eventually, she began to wonder if they were right. But as she stood in the deep hole and stared at the symbol carved into the wooden plank at her feet, she actually felt her body tremble. It felt as though she had really stepped into one of the many books she'd read as a child.
“It's the symbol of Arthur Pendragon!” she yelled out excitedly.
“Amazing!” one of her assistants, an older, pudgy man named Albert with gray, balding hair and a bushy mustache exclaimed, “I've heard of such symbols, but to actually be able to see one in my own lifetime. I never dreamed it would be possible.”
“Congratulations, Maria. This is a MAJOR find,” added Isaac, the second assistant who was a tall, fairly built man about Maria's age. Maria, meanwhile, wasn't about to let her excitement keep her from planning her next move. Kneeling down, she brushed a few more wisps of dirt from the wood before leaning her head against it and gently rapping on it with her first.
“It sounds almost…hollow. This could actually be a structure of some kind,” she thought out loud in even further amazement, “Get the others. Get everyone! We need to cordon off the site and find out just how deep this really goes!”
It took weeks of tests and painstaking digging by hand after that. Maria didn't dare authorize the use of heavy equipment for fear of damaging her find. But every day, more and more of the structure became visible. And at the end of each day, Maria would go back to camp too excited to sleep, wanting to just keep going until the work was done. She had just never felt so energized in her entire life.
“You know, Maria, you really should stop staring at that the rubbing of that symbol and try to get some sleep,” Isaac cautioned one particular night, “You're the head of this dig and we don't need a zombie running the show.”
“I know, I know, but I'm just so fired up. We've never been this close before and…what was that?” Maria started to say before a tiny squeal caught her attention. Suddenly, as she stared down beside the fire, her eyes went as wide as dinner plates as frightened murmurs passed her lips.
Immediately, the whole camp rushed out at Maria's almost sonic pitched scream! But when they got outside, all they found was Isaac issuing them some calming waves while Maria was clutching his ankle in terror!
“Sorry folks! False alarm, nothing to see here!” he announced, waiting until the crowd had dissipated before kneeling down to whisper at her, “What was THAT about?”
“I'm…I'm sorry,” Maria whined slightly as she tried to regain her composure, “It was just, that…that THING.”
“What?” Isaac almost laughed out loud in response, “Maria…it was a field mouse. That's nothing unusual. They're all over these foothills.”
“Oh…don't remind me,” Maria shuddered as her body tensed up.
“What, are you kidding,” Isaac replied, “Maria, it's the size of a ping pong ball. It can't possibly hurt you.”
“I know…I know,” Maria responded, still visibly shaken, “It's just, me and rodents…we just don't…I mean, the teeth, the beady little eyes, those little clawed feet…It just FREAKS me right out, okay? Every time I see one, I just…totally…LOSE it!”
“There, there, it's okay now,” Isaac spoke in a babying voice as he put his arm around her shoulder, “You're safe. The nasty little ball of fur isn't going to hurt you anymore.”
“You're really enjoying this aren't you?” Maria stated, flashing a dirty look. Isaac, meanwhile, kept his arm around her as he rolled his eyes back and forth, trying not to look so amused.
“Maybe a little.”
… … … …
The dig seemed to take forever, but eventually, Maria and her team managed to uncover the entire structure. However, their efforts hadn't yielded the kind of rewards they'd been hoping for. Because, as they stood before their great find, it looked almost like just a big wooden box.
“I don't get it,” Isaac announced, “I mean…a one-room structure buried in the middle of nowhere…with no entrance? Is this making sense to ANYONE here?”
“I hate to say it, Maria, but he's got a point,” Albert agreed as Maria stood staring at the wooden cube with a thoughtful frown, “I mean, if we're going to justify the cost of continuing with this dig, we have to show the bean counters a lot more than just an oversized packing crate.”
“No, I'm not throwing in the towel yet. Not after spending almost a month digging this thing up,” Maria thought out loud as she walked over to the structure, “There's GOT to be something we're missing.”
Maria continued staring intently as she gingerly brushed her hand along the one of the wooden planks. Suddenly, some of the moist soil that had dried from days of exposure fell away, revealing something that instantly caught her eye.
“Wait a minute…” she noted curiously as she squinted, adjusting her thick glasses, “I think…there's some kind of writing here.”
Without a pause, Maria grabbed a brush and began gently scraping away at more of the surface. And sure enough, as the dried dirt fell away, there did indeed seem to be some form of writing carved into the wood.
“This might be a clue,” she stated, turning to the other two before continuing her work, “Check the other walls for signs of these kinds of symbols. We just might be on to something yet.”
It took a few more days of gentle work, but eventually, all four walls of the structure were exposed. And upon closer examination, all four walls appeared to have the same lines of text written on them, each line written with different characters. As her two assistants huddled around a laptop at the edge of the structure, Maria stood on the roof, still closely examining the symbol she'd first discovered. She kept going over it again and again, trying to make sure she hadn't made some kind of a mistake. But she hadn't. It really WAS the symbol of Arthur Pendragon. And yet, when all was said and done, in the end, it still looked like just a big box. In retrospect, Maria had to admit that she was more than a little underwhelmed by her findings so far. But still, she had never been so close to actually finding proof of Arthur's existence…there HAD to be more than what she was seeing.
“Well, there IS a little bit of degradation, but nothing the computer shouldn't be able to fill in the blanks on,” Isaac commented as the laptop scanned over the symbols in the wood, “Still, if this thing is as old as we THINK it is, these carvings have held up remarkably well.”
“They've held up IMPOSSIBLY well,” Albert noted suspiciously, “EVERYTHING here has. I mean, think about it. A wooden room buried in the ground for HOW long? There's absolutely no logical reason for it to still be here. By all rights, this whole structure should have rotted into splinters centuries ago.”
Before Isaac could respond, a series of blips sounded over the computer, indicating that the program had finished its run. Turning their attention back to the matter at hand, the pair stared intently at the characters appearing on the screen.
“Hey Maria, the program's done!” Isaac called up.
“Great! Need me to come down?” Maria replied, still standing on top of the structure.
“Nah, we're good! Besides, our resident translator is here anyway!” Isaac answered back, turning to his older counterpart, “So…what do you think?”
“Hmmmm,” Albert thought out loud, staring intently at the laptop screen as the two switched places, “It looks like about five different languages here…Ancient Welsh, Irish, a couple different writing styles from Scottish tribesmen…even Latin.”
“So…what do they mean?” Isaac asked.
“Well…as near as I can tell, they all appear to be saying the exact same thing. But to write down a single phrase in so many different forms…it's as if whoever buried this here WANTED to make sure that anyone who found this would be able to understand. So let's see…`what lies…within'…” Albert muttered to himself as his voice trailed off to silent murmurs. But suddenly, his eyes grew wide as he leaned back from the screen, a concerned look crossing his face. Something Isaac was quick to notice.
“What?” he asked, growing even more concerned, “What is it?”
“`What lies within these walls…'” Albert read on before turning to Isaac and continuing, “`…must never see the light of day again.'”
Upon hearing the translation, Maria could only toss a surprised look down to her assistants below. But before any of them had time to wonder about the phrase's cryptic meaning, they were interrupted by a large crunch before Maria suddenly disappeared! Weeks of digging and walking upon its surface had taken its toll on the already weakened roof and Maria could only scream as she plummeted into the dark chamber below.
“MARIA!” Isaac cried out as the two raced to the structure and climbed the ladder to peer into the rotted hole, “Maria, are you alright?!”
“Unh…I think so,” Maria groaned as she struggled to sit up, “Nothing broken anyway, but…I can't move my leg. It must be caught under a rock or a timber or something…I don't know, it's too dark.”
“Just hang on! I'll get back to the site to get a few of the others and some rope!” Isaac called down as he rushed down the ladder to get back to camp. Meanwhile, Albert stayed behind to make sure that everything was alright.
“Maria, are you sure you're okay?” he called down. Maria, meanwhile, had managed to find her glasses and was looking around the darkened room to see what she could see. But from what the limited light could tell her shining in from the gaping hole, it appeared to be nothing more than an empty chamber. There was nothing inside that appeared even remotely threatening. But…if that was the case…why were those words of warning carved on the door? Just then, a slight shimmer caught her eye reflecting off the sunlight beaming in…
“Hey, it looks almost like a pole of some kind!” she called up to Albert, groaning as she stretched out towards it, “If I can…just…reach it…I…should…be able to pry myself…there!”
But as soon as Maria's hand grabbed the wooden pole, a dim glow passed over her eyes, which suddenly began to glaze. And she suddenly grew silent as a twisted smile began to appear on her lips.
“Maria!” Albert called down, catching her attention as her eyes darted up to glare at him, “Maria, talk to me! Are you okay?”
Unfortunately, the only answer Albert received was a blinding white flash! Back at camp, Isaac and the rest of the team gasped in shock as an enormous pillar of light erupted from the ground, exactly in the direction of the dig site! Without wasting a moment, they all raced back as fast as they could, but as they broke through the tree line, all Isaac and the others found was Albert lying face down in the grass at the base of the dig, groaning.
“Hey!” Isaac called out as he ran up, rolling Albert over and checking on him, “Are you alright?! What happened?!”
“I'm…I'm not really sure,” Albert replied in a daze as he pointed towards the dig, “I mean…literally one second I was there…the next I'm lying here.”
Leaving one of the men to care for Albert, Isaac ran over to look into the dig site, but all he saw was a massive crater where the wooden structure had been! The structure itself, however, was virtually non-existent, blown into thousands of splinters! And on top of that, Maria was gone! Vanished without a trace!
“Maria! MARIA!!” Isaac called out, desperately hoping to any reply. However, the only response he got was a whisper on the wind. A whisper that sounded almost like…Maria laughing…
… … … …
“Excuse me! Hellooooooo!” the newly christened Maria Le Fay was broken out of her train of thought as Ron called out to her, still trapped in her floating spherical barrier, “Listen, would you mind…I mean, do you think that maybe you could make this thing just a little bit bigger? `Cause I mean, I've DONE the whole hamster ball thing before and I've gotta tell ya, it does get a little claustrophobic, so if it's not too much trouble…”
But before Ron could finish, Le Fay whirled around, hissing at him as the tip of her staff grew into a long snake which lunged at him! Rufus managed to poke his head out to see what all the commotion was about, but as the snake's head passed harmlessly through the barrier towards Ron, he yelped in fright and immediately dove back into Ron's pocket without being noticed. Ron, however, stood his ground with a defensive stance, flashing a stern look before the snake's head stopped short just a few centimeters away before whipping back to Le Fay and reforming into her staff. At that point, all Le Fay could do was flash an amused smirk. After all, she knew there was no point in fighting him. As long as that barrier stayed up, Ron Stoppable was absolutely no threat to her.
“Hmph! In my day, a parlor trick like that would have thrown an entire village into a panic,” she noted before turning her back to him again, “I have to admit, if nothing else, the men and women of this new world are certainly made of more grit.”
“Yeah, uh huh…and the super villains of this world…can certainly spring for better digs,” Ron replied dryly, crossing his arms as he looked around the cave in England where Le Fay had been hiding out since possessing Maria Novak's body, “Just where ARE we anyway?”
“That's hardly something you need to know,” Le Fay replied with a scowl, “Just know that until Kim Possible has performed the little task I've assigned for her, this is where you'll be staying, so you might as well get used to it.”
“Riiiiiight,” Ron said, rolling his eyes before tossing Le Fay a defiant frown, “And you think she's just going to do what you told her to do…why?”
At this point, Le Fay was quickly growing tired of Ron's insolent attitude. And her eyes began to glow as she stormed over and glared at him through the barrier. He may not have looked very impressed at the moment, but if Kim didn't follow through on her orders, Le Fay was going to be more than happy to change that.
“For your sake, boy,” she hissed through gritted teeth, “You'd BETTER hope she DOES.”
… … … …
“MAX!” Kim cried out as she burst through the front door of Ron's house and ran straight to the kitchen, “Max! Is he still here?! Where did he go?!”
“You mean that nice Mr. Ambro? He left just a few minutes ago,” Mrs. Stoppable replied, clearing the table as Mr. Stoppable remained seated, holding a giggling Hana, “I think he said something about needing to talk to an old girlfriend.”
“Shego,” Kim uttered under her breath as she turned back to the door, “I've gotta run!”
“Kim, is everything alright? Where's Ronald?” Mr. Stoppable asked, a little unsure of what was going on. Even Hana's baby gurgling seemed to show a hint of concern.
“What? Ron? Oh, he's…he's fine. He's just fine. Yeah, I'm just gonna…go…get him right now…Yeah, that's…that's just what I'm gonna…Bye!” Kim yammered nervously, her eyes darting back and forth as she slowly backed to the front door. A second later, she was out, slamming the door behind her as she went straight to the Kimmunicator.
“Wade, find Drakken…Now!”
… … … …
Shego was sitting in the middle of a coffee shop. It was one of the few she had grown to feel comfortable in over the years as this particular establishment dealt to clients of a far less reputable sort. But it was hardly the kind of dive that most criminals would be known to hang out in. Camille Leon, the Seniors…even Professor Dementor was known to stop by in for a latte every now and then. But Shego was far too preoccupied to take in the uptown atmosphere.
She hadn't even taken a sip of her coffee as she sat with her head on the table, her eyes glaring into space. She'd been wandering around in a foaming frenzy ever since she woke up yesterday. Ever since Maximillion Ambro…! Just thinking about his smug, superior grin made Shego feel like smashing something. But she'd already done enough smashing at Drakken's place. Besides, she already knew it wouldn't make her feel any better. After all, she knew EXACTLY what it REALLY was she wanted to smash. But the thought that it just didn't seem like it would ever happen only made Shego angrier as she looked around the shop. Actually, the more she thought about it, the more this shop looked a lot like that one two years ago. The one HE walked into…
… … … …
…Roughly two years earlier…
Shego was sitting in a coffee shop, taking a brief moment to relax. Dressed in some civilian clothes instead of her usual body suit, no one would have even given her a second look in a place like this, which was exactly what she was going for. After all, being an internationally wanted criminal tends to make one a little reluctant to attract any unnecessary attention. Shego may have gotten into the whole super-villainy game because she found it more appealing, but no one can commit to anything 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And every once in a while, Shego found herself craving a much needed break, even if it was only for five or 10 minutes at a time.
Pausing to savor the taste of her cappuccino blend, Shego let out a contented sigh. Between taking in the décor, listening to the gentle music and catching the odd phrase of what was actual intelligent conversation, she slowly found herself beginning to feel human again. It was one of those moments when she could just let herself be frozen in the moment and let the rest of the world pass her by. And Shego was more than happy to simply close her eyes and lean back in her chair, ignoring the bell that indicated someone was walking in the door. But her peaceful calm was about to be shattered as five simple words echoed in her ears.
“Got any Earl Grey? Perfeeeect.”
Instantly, Shego's eyes snapped open. It wasn't the words that caught her attention NEARLY as much as the voice. There was no mistaking THAT voice! Her bottom lip trembled as she looked over towards the counter with a wide-eyed glare to see a tall thin man standing at the counter with his back to her. He was definitely taller than before and he had a black cane in his hand. Still, she was absolutely positive. It wasn't until he turned around, leaning back on the counter as he waited for his drink that the man's face came into her view. And Shego's eyes went even wider as she whirled her head back around to her table, her whole body trembling in a white hot rage.
It WAS him!!!
Trying to calm herself down, she rose slowly from her chair so as to not draw any attention and slowly made her way to the ladies' bathroom, clenching and unclenching her fists as she walked. Fortunately, he didn't seem to have noticed her yet. Once she reached the bathroom, however, she quickly dove inside. An instant later, anyone who would have bothered to look would have noticed a distinct green flash from beyond the door.
Maximillion Ambro, meanwhile, patiently waited for his drink as he looked around the room with a calm grin. Suddenly, the tap of a coffee platter indicated his wait was over as he turned to the young manager gratefully.
“Hey, thanks,” he said in an appreciative tone. Suddenly, the manager ducked under the counter, which was soon followed by the clattering of dishes behind him and frightened gasps and murmurs as people tried to sneak their way out of the shop as quickly as possible. And a moment later…
“Oh my, that voice sounds familiar!” Max announced playfully before turning around to see Shego standing right in front of him with a flashing hand pointed just centimeters from his face, ready to blow his head clean through the wall if he so much as twitched. But as if he wasn't surprised to see her at all, his face merely turned out a lighthearted smirk as he calmly took a sip of his tea.
“You bellowed?” he said smugly, placing his cup back down onto his plate, “How's it going, Shego?”
“Five…years?!” Shego snarled through gritted teeth as her entire body tensed up, “Five years…and that's ALL you have to say to me?!”
“Well, what were you expecting?” Max asked, his eyes darting back and forth in mock-thoughtfulness, “Jumping up and down? Squealing your name? `Long time, no see'? I don't recall you going in for being cliché.”
“Do you have…ANY idea…the things I swore I would do to you if I ever saw you again?!” Shego shuddered in rage, every molecule in her body screaming at her to just blow him away and get it over with, “And THIS time, my brother isn't around for you to hide behind!”
“Awww, someone's cranky,” Max responded sarcastically, showing no concern for his situation whatsoever, “You haven't had your nap-nap today.”
“YOU BROKE UP WITH ME ON AN ANSWERING MACHINE, YOU JERK!!!” Shego yelled at the top of her lungs! She had had about all she was going to stand and was ready to end it right then and there! But at that moment, she just happened to blink.
That was all it took. One blink…and suddenly, Max had completely disappeared from view. Whipping her head back and forth, she saw him already a good three feet away from her, walking off calmly!
“Right. Like it's MY fault you were too busy pillaging and looting to pick up your phone,” Max stated as he continued walking, slapping some money onto the counter for his tea, “Thanks. Keep the change.”
Shego was still too lost in her own anger to wonder how Max managed to avoid her like he did. She only glared at him more furiously as her hands flashed even brighter.
“You swaggering little…” she muttered to herself before she charged at him, her voice raising back to a full on yell, “YOU HAVEN'T CHANGED A BIT!!!”
Shego's strike was right on target, but to her surprise, her hand slashed at nothing but air! Once again Max had completely vanished! Instinctively looking around again, she finally saw him already sitting at one of the tables, still wearing that same grin. Shego, meanwhile, could only scowl in aggravation.
“On the contrary, I've changed A LOT. I just don't advertise it. YOU'RE the one who's acting like she's still in high school,” Max replied, only making Shego angrier as he took another sip of his tea, following with an amused chuckle, “I mean seriously, what did you THINK was going to happen? You'd run off, plunder the world until you got bored, then come home every once in a while to find me waiting at the door like a good little puppy? Were you really THAT deluded? Come on Shego, use your head. This is ME you're talking to. You should have known better than that.”
Slowly, tiny fragments of logic were beginning to piece themselves together inside Shego's brain, despite her boiling anger. How was he doing this? This was TWICE now that he'd avoided her without her even seeing it. And as she looked back at him, it was clear by the look on his face that this was NOT the same Maximillion she knew back in high school. This was no awkward young man trying to cover up his insecurities with jokes and sarcasm. There was GENUINE confidence in his eyes now, in the way he carried himself. But…what changed? Had he REALLY gotten that good in just five short years? Whatever the answer was, this disappearing act of his was already starting to get old as Shego's fury began to take over again. She had to find a way to clip his wings and get him to a level she could deal with.
“Besides,” Max continued, “You can't STILL be hot about this after five years. My understanding was you'd moved on already. I mean, what about that blue guy you're always running around with now?”
“Dr. Drakken? How do you…? He is NOT my boyfriend!” Shego didn't know whether to be amused or insulted as she finally made her move, firing two full force plasma blasts right where Max was sitting! This HAD to do the trick. Trying to run through that labyrinth of tables would have given Max more than enough time to pull his little vanishing stunt. This was MUCH faster. Sitting down, there was NO WAY he could avoid THIS!
The blasts tore through the table and chairs like they were made of cardboard and exploded into the far wall across the room! But to Shego's shock, Max was no longer where he was sitting! Just then, she felt someone standing between her and the counter. Was it him?! Impossible! The only time she'd lost sight of him was during the initial flash when she fired her blasts! But THAT would have meant he got up from his chair, ran through the tables and got behind her in a fraction of a second! And NOONE could be THAT fast!
“Oh really?” Max responded, looking over his shoulder with a smirk as he and Shego stood back to back, “`Karaoke Night'?”
“How did you know that?!” Shego gasped as she whirled around, but all she saw was the pastry rack behind the counter! As her body trembled, her anxiety was clearly becoming apparent. Her seething anger was being mixed with a blinding confusion. Just then, she heard a sipping noise behind her followed by the soft tap of a cup onto a coffee plate that made her eye twitch. Had he gotten behind her again? And was he still drinking his…? What was going on here?! Shego wanted nothing more than to tear him apart, but it was like she was fighting a ghost, literally appearing and disappearing on the wind. She tried desperately to figure out what to do next, but then suddenly, Max leaned over and whispered in her ear, making her bottom lip tremble…
“I pay attention.”
“RrrrrrrrrrraaAAAAAAAAAAAHH!” Shego cried out in rage, whipping around to strike only to send her plasma charged hand smashing through a table! Max, meanwhile, was sitting calmly at a new table in the middle of the shop, still sipping his tea. Feeling like her body was going to tear itself apart from all the tension she was feeling, Shego could only glare at him in a wild-eyed frenzy!
“Alright…enough is enough,” she growled, her hands blazing more furiously, the madder she got, “So what's it gonna be? Are you gonna keep fluttering around like a chicken or are you actually gonna throw down here? Well? Are we gonna do this thing…OR WHAT?!”
With that, Max flashed a wide eyed look of interest before standing up from his chair. As his cane tapped the floor, small white flames formed around his hands and feet, then began slowly burning up his body, much to Shego's bewilderment. It was as if they were shedding away his skin and clothes, revealing another form underneath. Within moments, his civilian look had burned away completely, and Maximillion stood before Shego again. But this time, he was dressed all in black, with fingerless gloves and sunglasses. His hair was slicked back high and his jacket looked like tuxedo tails modified long and wide in the back like a trench coat. A white shirt with wide sleeves folded back over the sleeves of his jacket completed the look. But there was no doubt, it was still him. That irritating smirk was still a dead giveaway.
“To be honest, I WAS hoping it wouldn't come to this,” Max said with a sigh, twirling his cane before snapping it over his shoulder, “But…if that's the way you want it…”
Shego stood her ground, her anger returning as she glared at him. She wasn't about to let a few parlor tricks keep her out of THIS fight! Something Max noticed right away as he lifted his hand up to her with a “come on” wave.
“…May I have this dance?”
That was all Shego needed to hear as she charged towards Max with a roar of fury! Max, meanwhile, maintained his calmness as he simply stood smiling, waiting for her attack.
… … … …
How long had the fight been going on? Shego wasn't sure. It all just felt like a blur. All she could feel at that moment was the aching in her arms and legs and the sweat pouring down her body as she fell to her hands and knees, coughing and gasping for breath. The once trendy coffee shop had now been reduced to a gaping hole of splintered wood and shattered glass. And Shego herself was completely exhausted. No…she'd passed exhausted about five turns back. As she gulped and panted, desperately forcing air into her lungs, she felt like she was going to throw up from pushing herself so hard.
And in the middle of all the devastation, sitting right in front of her on a mostly intact table with his legs crossed, was Max. Shego, meanwhile was so winded, she couldn't even glare at him. All she managed to get out was an indignant sneer. As if it wasn't bad enough that he was still fresh as a daisy while she was out on her feet. But there wasn't even a mark on him!!! Shego didn't have a scratch either, but that just made things worse. He hadn't even TRIED to hit her throughout that entire fight! Meanwhile, Shego had been throwing everything she had at him…and even a few things she DIDN'T…and she couldn't even lay a finger on him! And on top of all that, as he looked down at her on the floor, he was still smiling that same wretched smile!!!
Just then, a pair of shrill beeps sounded from Max's wrist. Looking down, he raised his sunglasses to get a better look and found himself sighing.
“Aw man, would you look at the time,” he groaned before turning his attention back to Shego with a whisper, “I've gotta go,”
Hopping off the table, Max turned on his feet and calmly walked to the door. Shego, meanwhile, could only reach for him in a futile attempt to grab his coattails, which swirled behind him like a cape. But it was no use…her body was in a far too exhausted state to listen to her brain's commands. Max, meanwhile, continued to walk away from her, but he stopped short at the doorway as he turned back into the store. Then, with a snap of his fingers, the entire room filled with a blinding flash of light and suddenly, the entire shop stood just as it had been before the fight! There was no indication that even a single creamer had been spilled that morning!
“My apologies, kind innkeeper! I believe this should cover the damages!” he called over to the shop's owner, who was still underneath the counter, huddled in a corner in fear. Then he turned his attention to Shego, who was still on the floor, completely drained.
“And Shego…try to be in a better mood next time. It is absolutely IMPOSSIBLE to talk to you when you're like this!” he scolded before flashing a cheesy grin and turning back to the doorway, “See ya.”
As Max walked out the door, his body almost looked to be turning to vapor, blowing away in the wind. Shego, meanwhile, could only scowl in rage as she continued struggling to get back to her feet…
… … … …
Even now, thinking about that day was enough to make Shego want to start knocking heads around. Never in her entire life had she EVER felt so humiliated. The fact that she couldn't even touch him and he hadn't even TRIED to…! She could feel her fingers digging into her palms and she clenched her fists under the table, using every ounce of willpower she had to keep from just letting loose and blasting the entire coffee shop to atoms.
“You know, if you're trying to calm down, coffee is really one of the last things in the world you should be drinking,” the voice cut into her brain like a white hot knife as Shego's eyes went wide. Her whole body went stiff as she knew it could only be one person. And sure enough, who should be standing behind her but Maximillion, dressed in the same hair and black outfit he wore when he'd fought her, grinning happily as if there wasn't a problem in the world. Shego, meanwhile, could only breathe through her nose in shuddering gasps as her jaw trembled.
“You REALLY want to leave now,” she tried to speak as calmly as she could. Max, meanwhile, simply gave a hollow chuckle as he walked around to the other side of the table, setting down a cup of tea.
“Can't do that, Shego,” he replied simply as he flopped back on one chair while putting his feet up on the seat of another chair right next to it.
“TRY!!!” Shego yelled, nearly knocking her chair back as she shot up and glared at him, her hands looking like they were about to burn right through the table. Max, however, simply looked around the room at all the other people who were now looking at them before sitting back up and leaning on his elbows across the table towards her.
“Shego…let me give you some advice,” he stated quietly, lowering his sunglasses to the bridge of his nose and looking up at her with serious eyes, “You don't want to play the `Tough' Card when you're already 0 for 2. What you WANT to do…is sit down…and actually LISTEN for once in your life.”
Shego could only stand there and scowl for the longest time before she slowly managed to drum up enough composure to sit back down. Sufficiently satisfied that the situation was under control, at least for now, Maximillion simply smiled. Shego, meanwhile, leaned on her elbows across the table herself, staring into his eyes with pure contempt.
… … … …
All was quiet, except for the tiny scraping of a small broom as Dr. Drakken seemed to finally be getting the last of his lair cleaned up. Whoever that strange man was who dropped Shego on Drakken's couch the previous night, he had certainly called it. As soon as Shego had woken up the next day, she just became completely unhinged! Fortunately, Drakken was smart enough to lock the back room door, so at least his hedge sculptures were safe. But that didn't mean he liked what he saw when he finally worked up the courage step back out into the main hall.
He'd been cleaning ever since. Whole garbage bags filled with broken machinery and rubble were already piled outside the front door. But as he swept the last few bits of debris into a dustpan held by one of his mutant vines, he finally began to see light at the end of the tunnel. Suddenly, an explosion ripped through his ceiling, creating a hail of rock and dust! Drakken was completely caught off guard by the blast, but was even more surprised by the flash of flaming red hair dropping in through the haze.
“Kim Possible?!” he blurted out in shock. At that moment, the mutant vines growing out of Drakken immediately stood straight and tall, as if throwing up their hands in surrender.
“Now cut that out!” Drakken yelled at his plant-like limbs before storming across the room towards Kim, “Do you mind?! I had JUST finished sweeping there! Haven't you ever heard of a front door?!”
But Kim was in no mood for Drakken's unique brand of super villain slapstick. Grabbing him by his coat, she whirled around and slammed him into the wall hard, glaring into his eyes.
“How should I know?! You think she tells ME anything?!” Drakken argued, still feeling like HE was the victim in this scenario as he sighed in frustration, “I ask you, where's the trust? You spend so many years working together to build an evil empire of destruction. Is a little open communication REALLY so much to ask?”
“Wade, Shego's not here,” Kim stated into the Kimmunicator, already ignoring Drakken's problems.
“Oh, come on!” Drakken hollered, “You blow a hole in my lair after I finally got it all clean! The LEAST you could do is hear me out!”
“If you were looking for Shego, why didn't you say so?” Wade responded, “I could have just run a scan on the energy signature her powers generate. She always leaves a residual energy trail.”
“Wade, Girlfriend-Panic Syndrome setting in, okay? Cut me some slack!” Kim replied angrily. Wade, meanwhile, continued scanning for any energy Shego's powers may have left behind in an effort to track her.
“Got her!” Wade announced triumphantly as a map appeared on the Kimmunicator screen, a single blip indicating exactly where Shego was.
… … … …
“Oh, get over yourself!” Max almost laughed as he put his feet back up in the chair beside him, “You think I'm throwing my lot in with Kim Possible and Ron Stoppable just to spite YOU? Honestly, I don't know how you get through doorways with that swelled head of yours. It never occurred to you that there might be something ELSE I see in them that might make me want to offer my humble assistance?”
“Oh yeah? Like what?” Shego argued with a huff. Upon hearing those words, Max's attitude suddenly changed. Leaning across the table, he took off his sunglasses and stared at her intently, making completely certain that she saw the absolute conviction in his eyes.
“Because they inspired me,” he said straight out, without a trace of humor in his voice, “When I found out who I was and what I could do…”
“Oh please, you don't SERIOUSLY expect me to believe that `Merlin' nonsense you were spouting off before, do you?” Shego cut him off.
“I don't care WHAT you `believe'. I KNOW it,” Max replied, moving right along, “Anyway, when I got back, the question then was what to do next. After all, I couldn't just sit on the sidelines anymore, but I couldn't do SO much that people would start getting dependent on me. For years, I couldn't come up with an answer…until you introduced me to those two. They GET it, Shego. Something you and I NEVER got when we were their age.”
Shego didn't know what to make of it as he spoke. She could only sit there with a partially stunned expression as Max continued.
“Let's face the facts, okay? The only reason we ran with your brothers back in the day was because we were a couple of angry kids out looking for kicks…which is exactly why YOU ended up switching sides and I ended up leaving. We didn't get it. But those two…they're in this life because they grabbed it and HELD ON to it! Because they believe that their names are whispers on the winds of fate! That Destiny DEMANDS that they be brought to this place, that they be who they are, that they do what they do! THAT'S…why I'm back.”
“Oh, would you can the melodrama?” Shego responded as she rolled her eyes, “You're starting to sound like Hego, for crying out loud.”
“Well, now that's just rude,” Max responded, taken aback by Shego's comment, “But I meant what I said. Don't get me wrong, helping them out IS going to be a total blast, okay? But the bottom line is, they're in this game for the RIGHT reasons. And if I can help them out…if that's the least I can do on this planet…Well, that's enough for me.”
Shego could only look away, not really knowing whether to be amused or disgusted by what Max had just said. Just then, something else he said before suddenly caught her attention.
“Hang on a second,” she piped up, “Rewind the tape. You said `I' introduced you to them. Exactly how did THAT happen?”
“Well see, that brings us to the SECOND reason I'm hanging around again,” Max answered lightheartedly, and Shego could already feel her face turning into an angry glare as she knew she wasn't going to like the answer, “The thing is, Shego, despite whatever friction may have come to exist between us over the years, I have to admit that I still feel a certain obligation towards your well-being. So let's just say I've been keeping an eye on you the last few years. Oh, and by the way, I FINALLY got to meet that new guy of yours a couple nights ago after I dropped you off. You know, your boy in blue? He seems nice. I bet he's funny too. Is he funny?”
“Waitwaitwaitwaitwaitwaitwait,” Shego interrupted, her anger returning, “You've…been stalking me…for SEVEN…YEARS?!”
“Oh, don't flatter yourself! I do have SOME standards,” Max argued, rolling his eyes, “I just keep my ear to the ground, I hear things. Even after all this time, I still have some people who are willing to talk to me. No doubt I'm going to get a LOT of enjoyment watching you try…and FAIL…to figure out exactly WHO they ARE.”
At that moment, Shego was through with listening as she jumped up from her chair, her hands blazing! But before she could do anything, Max's hand moved like a blur, whipping his cane across her hands and pinning them to the table!
“Tch tch tch tch tch tch tch tch tch tch. Oh, Shego, Shego, Shego. In ALL the time we have known each other, WHAT…could I have POSSIBLY done…that would make you think I'm scared of you?” he sighed, shaking his head and looking up at her with a calm smile before his face turned slightly more serious, “Look, the bottom line is this. I'm back…and I'm not going away again. Now…if this turn of events is going to become a source of any personal resentment or animosity on your part…then there's really only one piece of advice I can give…”
Shego only responded with scowls and groans as she tried to pull her hands free from under Max's cane. But no matter how hard she struggled, her hands refused to budge. It was as if they were encased in concrete. Max, meanwhile, maintained his calm, rolling his eyes slightly as he reached for his tea and took a sip.
“You know, this whole transition is going to end up going a LOT smoother when you finally realize that I'M not the bad guy here,” he stated, placing his cup back on the table as Shego kept fighting to free herself, “Now I KNOW you're not going to believe a word of this. But the reality is, except for your boss or your boyfriend or WHATEVER you want to call him…right now…at this moment in time…I'm probably the only REAL friend you have left in this world.”
Shego could only freeze up, staring at Max with a look that seemed to be a mixture of bewilderment and disgust. Did he just call himself her “friend”? Max, however, simply responded with a goofy grin right back at her.
“Doesn't THAT screw everything up?” he hissed wickedly, causing Shego to scowl at him again. But before any more could be said or done, a shrill crash pierced the air as Kim came smashing in through the window beside them! Seeing where Kim's flip was taking her, Max pulled his cane away just as Shego gave a hard yank on her arms, causing her to flop backwards onto the floor just as Kim landed on their table. But Max only seemed interested in the shattered window as he sighed, snapping his fingers. And instantly, the glass shards reformed into the clear pane of glass they once were.
“Okay, point of interest,” he noted to Kim, who only stood on the table, glaring down at him, “There ARE ways to make a dramatic entrance that DON'T require someone to clean up after you all the time.”
“Speaking of cleaning up someone else's mess…!” Kim shouted, in no mood for any of Max's comments, “Your little friend, Morgan Le Fay or Maria Novak or Maria Le Fay or WHATEVER…She got Ron and she wants me to trade HIM for YOU. So what are we going to do about that?!”
“Wow…that's a little surprising,” Max replied with a bewildered look, “She REALLY thought you were going to be that easy to control? Well, that's just silly.”
“The point is…!” Kim interrupted, “…since Ron is now caught up in YOUR problem, I just thought you might want to help get him out of this!”
“Uunnh, oh great. That's ALL I need is another thorn in my side,” Shego groaned as she forced herself to her feet and grabbed Kim's shirt, pulling her off the table, “Now listen up, Princess. I don't care who this Magica De Spell is that you're talking about! But if any ONE of you has a problem with HIM, then you'd better step back, because the line starts HERE!”
“Oooo,” Max replied as he winced at Shego's outburst. Kim, however, surprised everyone when she responded with a simple lighthearted giggle.
“You know…I REALLY don't think I've made myself perfectly clear…,” she chuckled, gently placing her hand over Shego's, which still had a death grip on her shirt. But a second later, Shego could only blurt out a stunned yelp as Kim sent her flying across a neighboring table before she even knew what was happening! Once Shego was disposed of, Kim, with barely a pause, whirled back around, grabbing Max by the collar of his jacket and nearly dragging him out of his chair as she glared angrily into his eyes.
Max, however, replied simply with a playful smile. Reaching up, he took Kim's wrists between his thumbs and forefingers and gently plucked her hands off his collar.
“I differ to your threatening tone of voice,” he answered cheerfully, placing Kim's hands at her sides before standing from his chair and straightening out his jacket as he walked to the door, “By all means, let us not dally in an emergency like this. Let us treat it as a serious situation, one requiring the utmost priority and…by the way you wouldn't happen to know where she TOOK him, would you?”
As soon as she heard that, Kim's eyes suddenly went wide. All this time, she had been so focused on finding Max. All she could think about was saving Ron, but after she found the one person who could help her do that, she finally realized that she hadn't given a single thought to what they were going to do to actually SAVE Ron.
“Well then,” Max stated plainly, “This is a problem, isn't it?”
… … … …
While Kim was focusing on getting TO Maria Le Fay, Ron was focused on getting AWAY. Placing Rufus down beside him, Ron fired up his Mystical Monkey Power, letting loose on Le Fay's barrier with a thundering onslaught of punches and kicks! The cavern was actually lightly trembling from the force unleashed by Ron's attacks, but against Le Fay's shield, it had little to no effect at all. Before long, Ron began to realize that he was only wasting time and energy, so he powered down, sighing in frustration as he leaned back against the floating sphere that held him.
“Aw man, this stinks! I mean, how is it I can punch out giant robots now and I'm STILL the one getting captured?!” Ron complained with a huff. Just then, he heard Maria Le Fay's quiet laughter as she stepped from the shadows, quite amused with Ron's earlier attempts to free himself.
“If it makes you feel any better, I chose YOU because you were CLEARLY the larger threat,” Le Fay boasted, thoroughly enjoying the sight of Ron scowling back at her, “YOUR magic combined with HIS would have been FAR too great a power for ME to overcome if you decided to betray me. At least against Kim Possible, a mere mortal, I have the advantage. Even IF she found this place, she would NEVER be so foolish to attempt a rescue.”
Le Fay was feeling quite proud of her judgment at that moment. But just then, she heard a curious sound behind her. Something that sounded almost like…snickering. Confused, Le Fay broke away from her gloating and whirled back around to see that Ron was not only snickering at her, but had now burst into full blown laughter!
“Lady…let me get this straight…” he said between giggles as he desperately tried to control himself, “You…you thought…that you had a better chance of beating KIM POSSIBLE…than ME?!”
That was as far as Ron got before he howled with laughter, much to Le Fay's growing anger. Temporarily unable to speak, Ron could only hold his sides as he felt like his jaw was going to unhinge from laughing to hard. Even Rufus, who had gone unseen the whole time, had lost control laughing and stepped into view.
“Hey Rufus! Can…can you believe she just said that…?!” Ron blurted out before he started laughing again. Rufus, meanwhile was rolling on the floor of the sphere, chattering and giggling. Catching a glimpse of Rufus at Ron's feet, Le Fay put on Maria Novak's heavy glasses and squinted for a better view. But as the vision cleared, Le Fay's eyes suddenly went wide.
“Wh…wh-what…?” she shuddered as Ron and Rufus continued laughing, “What…IS tha-a-a-a-a-a-t?”
“Wh…what?” Ron replied, wiping tears from his eyes as his laughter finally began to calm down.
“WhatisthatwhatisthatWHAT IS THAT?!?!?!” Le Fay stammered, her voice rising to a high pitched shriek.
“What, him? It's just Rufus,” Ron answered as he picked him up to give Le Fay a closer look, “He's my buddy. He's…”
“Get that thing away from me…” Le Fay stammered, backing away until she slammed herself into the far wall of the cavern.
“What?” Ron called over as he and Rufus looked at each other curiously, “Come on, it's not a big deal. He's a naked mole…”
“GET IT AWAY FROM ME!!!” Le Fay screamed again, shutting her eyes tight as she swung at the air with her cane, “All of them! Every snaggle-toothed, claw-toed, beady eyed one of them! Just get them away!!!”
“Huh!” Ron blurted out as he and Rufus looked over at Le Fay with confused glances. Suddenly, like a burst of light, the truth dawned on both of them, forcing them to flash each other an evil grin.
“Ooooooooh. Sounds like SOMEONE'S got rodent issues,” Ron called out tauntingly as he waved Rufus out in front of him for a trembling Le Fay to see fully. Rufus, meanwhile, simply giggled as he stuck his tongue out at her.
“EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!” Le Fay finally shrieked, getting the attention of her sand golem, who came lumbering in.
“Milady, I heard your cries. What troubles you so?” it spoke curiously, looking over to see Le Fay huddled behind a stalagmite, shivering in terror.
“…get that…THING out of here…” she whimpered, pointing towards Ron, with Rufus still in his hand, “GET IT OUT OF HERE!!!”
The golem looked in Rufus' direction, frowning and adding a low, throaty growl. The next thing Ron knew, he was shifting his body this way and that as the golem's arms became like whips that lashed out at him through Le Fay's barrier.
“Yee…whoa…I…yu…watch it…AAH!” Ron blurted out, trying desperately to keep Rufus out of the golem's clutches. Unfortunately, he didn't have much room to maneuver when he could only move within the confines of the sphere while the golem was actually able to pass through it. This was exactly like before when Le Fay's staff turned into a snake head that managed to get through the shield when it tried to strike him. But that shouldn't be, unless…what if Le Fay's barrier was designed so that only she and her allies could penetrate it and no one else? This gave Ron an idea. It was a long shot, but it was worth a try.
Hmmm. Two brainstorms in less than five minutes. Better yet, two brainstorms in the same 24-hour period. That HAD to be some kind of record for him. No doubt about it, Ron Stoppable was DEFINITELY on a roll today!
“Rufus, I've got a plan,” he stated, reaching into his pocket as the sand golem stormed over to the barrier in frustration, “Here, hold my cell phone. And whatever you do, DON'T LET GO.”
“Mm hm, mm hm. Okay,” Rufus chirped as he clutched the cell phone tightly. The golem, meanwhile, had now shoved its head and shoulders through the barrier as its arms reached inside.
“In the name of Milady Le Fay, you WILL relinquish that creature, child!” it commanded, reaching for Rufus. Ron however, simply flashed the golem a cocky smirk.
“Oh, you want him?” he responded, grabbing Rufus firmly before shoving his hand, Rufus and all, into the golem's mouth up to his wrist, “Go GET him!”
“Hulph?” was all the golem managed to get out, before Ron braced his arm with his free hand, unleashing a force wave that shattered its upper body and sent Rufus flying across the cavern room like a cannonball. As the golem began to crumble away and Rufus rolled along the cavern floor to safety, Ron was relieved to see his plan had worked. Using the golem's body as tunnel through the barrier, he was able to use his Mystical Monkey Power to shoot Rufus through to the other side. But there was no time for pats on the back. The golem's body was already slowly beginning to reform. And getting Rufus out was just the first part.
“Rufus, go!” Ron called out, “Get out of here! Use the cell phone to call Kim or Wade or SOME-body!”
Rufus seemed reluctant to leave, giving off a series of worried whimpers. But Ron knew this wasn't the time for Rufus to be worrying about him.
“I'll be fine!” he called back to Rufus, reminding him what HAD to be done, “GET KIM!!”
“Uh huh, okay,” Rufus replied, bucking up after letting out another concerned whine. But he did pause at the cavern entrance to stick his tongue out at a shivering Le Fay before making his escape.
“Well, that should help even the odds a little bit,” Ron stated confidently. Le Fay, meanwhile, emerged from her hiding place, seething in rage at what had just happened. The fact that she was just brought to her knees by such an insignificant…!
“Oh, please,” she argued, trying to assert that she still had the upper hand while trying desperately to put the image of Rufus out of her mind, “Even IF that…creature manages to contact ANY-one, do you really think she's going to find out where you are?”
“She's Kim Possible,” Ron replied simply, leaning back and crossing his arms as he flashed a knowing smirk, “She can do ANYTHING.”
Glaring at Ron's smug grin, Le Fay's first instinct was to blast his body to atoms and get it over with, but she managed to stop herself quickly. After all, nothing was going to be accomplished by that. Instead, she simply took a slow, deep breath, trying to regain her composure. Now was the time to come up with a backup plan.
“Alright…fine,” she hissed as she raised her staff, “We'll do this the hard way.”
Suddenly, the entire cavern filled with an eerie glow. Before long, creaks, cracks, rumbles and groans began to be heard in the forest outside, causing birds to take to the skies and animals to flee for their lives. And moments later, unearthly moans began to echo throughout the woodland area.
… … … …
Kim stood in the coffee shop as Maximillion tapped his foot impatiently, both lost in thought. Suddenly, the unmistakable tone of the Kimmunicator sounded off, instantly getting their attention as Kim immediately answered, hoping that Wade had come up with some way to help.
“Got something, Wa…Rufus?” Kim noted with surprise as the naked mole rat appeared on the screen, chattering in a panic. Unfortunately, he only managed to stay on long enough for just a few seconds before the signal was cut short.
“Rufus? Rufus?! Oh no, Ron's cell phone must have died,” Kim exclaimed as she made a fresh call, “Wade, tell me that call was long enough that you could track it.”
“Almost…just a little bit more…got it!” Wade announced triumphantly, “It looks like the signal originated from just outside a small forest in England.”
“Then that's where we're going. I'll drive,” Kim responded, heading for the door. But just then, she was stopped by Max's hand on her shoulder.
“Not that I have a problem with your driving,” he stated, tossing Kim a reassuring smile, “But in this case, you're probably better off going with my travel plan.”
Before Kim could say anything, she and Max were instantly surrounded by a burst of smoke and glitter. Shego, meanwhile, had recovered just long enough to see them slowly fading into the growing cloud.
“Oh, no. Not this time!” she yelled as she jumped headlong into the haze. A moment later, the smoke had cleared, revealing that all three were gone.
… … … …
Kim was trying her best to wave the smoke out of her face as she stepped out into the light. But when she did, she couldn't recognize where she was. It was a wide grassy meadow, leading off a cliff with a small forest below. It only took a few moments for her to realize that Max must have just taken them to where Ron and Rufus were. Max, meanwhile, merely smiled as she turned back to him, playfully fluttering his eyebrows.
“Okay,” Kim admitted, “Points for convenience.”
“Told you, you were gonna like having me around,” Max replied confidently.
“Let's not go nuts,” Kim responded dryly before the Kimmunicator got her attention once again.
“Kim, if you think you'll need it, I've finished my work on your Battle Suit,” Wade announced, “I've even made a few upgrades to it.”
“No offense, Wade, but it might have helped to have known that a few seconds ago,” Kim answered, “This is one of those `day late and a dollar short' sitches, now, `cause we're…kind of already on our way there.”
“Now hang on a minute,” Max interrupted dismissively, looking at Wade over Kim's shoulder, “Where're you keeping it?”
“Well…it's here with me,” Wade answered, not entirely sure where Max was going with this.
“Not anymore,” Max replied, putting his hand on Kim's shoulder once again. Just then, a bright flash caught Wade's attention as he turned around and was shocked to see that the Battle Suit had disappeared! But back in England, Kim gasped as her entire body began to glow brightly from her neck down. A second later, the light faded and Kim was stunned to look down at herself and see that she was now WEARING the same Battle Suit that had just seconds ago, been halfway around the world.
“Whoa…,” she blurted out, partly shocked, but also partly amused.
“So NOW what do you think?” Max inquired behind her. Turning back to see him looking more than a little smug, Kim flashed him a suspicious eye, but found herself giving a little smirk as well.
“Well…you're STARTING to talk your way out of the doghouse,” she answered before turning back to the Kimmunicator, “Wade, Battle Suit problem solved. Mind giving me a crash course on these upgrades you were talking about?”
“Yeeeeeah…okay,” Wade replied, looking very confused as he called up the Battle Suit's new schematics, “Well, after your first fight with Warmonga, I realized the energy catcher was too inefficient against certain types of weapons, so I converted the technology for use on the entire suit. Now any part of the suit can absorb energy discharges and store them…”
Kim was beginning to like what she was hearing so far, but just then, her left sleeve began to grow and shift. However, instead of the energy catcher that was there before, something that looked almost like a small gun barrel began to grow from her wrist.
“I also included a working Proton Cannon,” Wade added, “It converts any energy the suit absorbs and allows it to be fired in a concentrated blast.”
“I like. Wade, you are just rocking all over the place today,” Kim replied enthusiastically. Just then, she heard panicked chattering coming up behind her as she turned to see Rufus running up to her as fast as his legs could carry him.
“Rufus, are you okay?” Kim called over as she knelt down to pick him up. In response, Rufus immediately began jumping up and down in her hands, chirping wildly as he pointed in the direction he had just come from.
“Don't worry, Rufus. We're here now. Now, show us where they took Ron,” Kim answered reassuringly as she placed Rufus on her shoulder and was about to head off.
“HOLD IT!!!” a familiar voice growled behind her as Kim and Max turned to see Shego standing just a few yards away, her hands blazing, “No one's going anywhere until this creep and I get some unfinished business settled!”
“Oh, for crying out loud…” Max exclaimed as he rolled his eyes, looking a little annoyed at this point. Shego, meanwhile, caught up in her own anger, fired two full force plasma blasts in his direction! Max could have easily stopped the attack, but before he could react, Kim jumped in front of him, taking the blasts head on! Shego couldn't understand for the life of her what Kim could have been thinking. But as the dust settled, her jaw could only hang open as she saw Kim standing completely unharmed. And not only that, but the blue lights on Kim's Battle suit actually seemed to be glowing brighter for some reason.
“Complete Energy Absorbing Battle Suit,” Kim thought out loud, “Oh yes, This I DEFINITELY like.”
Rufus, meanwhile, wasn't really in the mood to care about what Kim thought of her new fashions. Jumping up and down on her shoulder, he chattered and whined, pointing off in the direction they needed to go to save Ron. Kim, however, was quick to respond, taking Rufus in her hands and giving him a serious, but comforting gaze.
“Ssshhh…Relax, it's okay. We're going to bring him home, Rufus. I promise,” Kim spoke in hushed tones, gently patting a whimpering Rufus on the head before turning to Max…
“Let's go.”
“Hey!” Shego cried out, her hands glowing even brighter as Kim and Max were about to walk off, “I thought I told you…!”
“YOU DON'T WANT TO MESS WITH ME RIGHT NOW!!!” Kim shouted back, cutting her off as the Proton Cannon burst from Kim's wrist, pointing at Shego dead on! Staring down Kim's wild-eyed glare and the bright flash from the cannon barrel was enough to instantly change Shego's mind as she put up her hands in surrender. Kim then turned off and kept walking as the Proton Cannon disappeared from her arm once again, satisfied that she'd made her point. Max simply threw in his two cents by offering Shego a cheerful grin.
“Neh neh neh neh nehnehnehneh neh…” Shego muttered under her breath with a sneer as she dropped her arms and trudged off behind them. Kim, meanwhile, kept a wary eye over her shoulder as she walked, moving in a little closer to Max.
“What did you have to bring HER here for?” she whispered. But all she got in response from Max was a shrug.
“…oops?” he replied.
“`Oops'…That's all you have to say,” Kim fired back with an annoyed frown as she stopped short.
“Oh relax. She's going to be very useful…Trust me,” Max stated, turning around and flashing Kim a playful wink as he kept walking. Kim, however, simply stood with Rufus, both of them showing the same level of concern.
“Why is it every time he says `trust me', my stomach just ties up in knots?” Kim mused as Rufus stayed perched on her shoulder, nodding in agreement with a worried chatter.
“Welcome to my world,” Shego replied, walking past her with an aggravated glare. With that, Kim turned her attention to the situation at hand as they followed Max to the edge of the cliff overlooking the forest. But when they got there, she definitely didn't agree with the sight that awaited her.
Staggering out of the forest below emerged a small army of lumbering, man-like creatures. But they all seemed to be composed of different elements. Some looked like they were made out of dirt, some out of rocks. Some even looked like they were made out of broken trees. Kim wasn't sure what they were. But as they looked up at her and the others, it was obvious what they were made FOR as they let out a unified moan and limped towards the base of the cliff like mindless zombies.
“Huh. Plain vanilla golems?” Max noted curiously, “That's…not much of a defense. But then again, she's probably using most of her magic keeping Ron contained. She'd HAVE to, I guess.”
“Something tells me those things don't have to stop us. They just need to slow us down long enough for her to make sure RON is the one who pays for us coming here,” Kim replied, as Rufus whined on her shoulder, “Which means we're going to have to move fast. Let's go.”
“Mmm hmm, mmm hmm,” Shego muttered as she stared out over the valley below, “And what makes you two think I'm going to be the least bit interested in helping either ONE of you?”
“Well, I don't recall anyone ASKING,” Max replied simply with a shrug, “I'm pretty sure we can handle this just fine without you. You'd probably just slow us down anyway…”
“Oh please. A pitiful attempt at getting me fired up by challenging my abilities,” Shego stated before flaring up her hands and tossing Max a dry frown, “Okay, I'll bite. But after this, it's you and me…GOT IT?”
“Whatever you SAA-aaay,” Max replied playfully, rolling his eyes with a cheesy grin. Shego merely flashed a brief scowl in response before bounding down along the cliff and charging straight into the army slowly bearing down her, making it perfectly obvious that she wanted to get this over with as soon as possible. Moving fast to strike the first blow, she sent a blazing slash straight through the first tree golem that crossed her path, reducing it to splinters. But instead of reacting to her attack, the other golems simply shambled past her, continuing to make their way to the cliff.
“What's the sitch?” Kim was quick to ask, observing what was happening below, “They're just ignoring her.”
“Golems typically only follow a simple basic command,” Maximillion explained, “These ones were most likeley told to come after you and probably after me…”
“…so WE'RE the only ones they're paying attention to,” Kim chimed in, finishing Max's thought.
“You've been getting quite the education on the subject these last couple of days,” Max noted as Shego surged ahead, darting around the passing golems and smashing through any that happened to stumble into her way. Within seconds, she had navigated her way through to the other side as she looked over her shoulder to see Kim and Max still on the cliff.
“Have fun! I'll have this wrapped up in a couple of minutes!” she called back up at them. Kim, meanwhile, simply stood with Max, giving Shego a dull stare as she disappeared into the forest.
“She doesn't have a chance, does she..?”
“Not as such, no,” Max replied simply, “But…as long as Le Fay is focused on her, she won't be taking her frustrations out on a certain OTHER someone.”
“Hmmm…I can live with that,” Kim stated with a nod of indifference before turning back to the fight, clenching her fists, “Well, let's not waste anymore time up here.”
“Works for me,” Max said with a shrug as his body suddenly gave off a soft glow. Then, with a pass of his arm, a wave of earth was sent crashing over the advancing golems, throwing them back towards the forest! Kim could only look on wide-eyed, but as she turned her head towards Max, who only responded with a shrug and a knowing smile, she could only give an amused smirk before flipping off the cliff, slamming a two foot crater into the softened ground as she landed. Then, without a pause, she charged headlong at the recovering golems as Maximillion gently floated to the ground and followed behind her.
… … … …
“What was that?! What's going on out there?!” Maria Le Fay exclaimed, hearing the low rumble echoing through the cave from Maximillion's attack on her golem army. Ron, meanwhile, simply gave a confident grin as he leaned back, raising a hand up and gently breathing on his fingernails.
“Yeah, that'd be Kim,” he replied calmly as he shined his fingernails on his shirt, following up with a quick inspection, “You know, it's still not too late for you to back out of this…save yourself a LOOOOOT of pain.”
“But how much pain is it going to save YOU?!” Le Fay hissed as her staff flashed violently, planning to unleash her fury on Ron, who remained trapped inside her barrier! But before she could launch any kind of attack, an explosion of green plasma ripped through the cavern! And Le Fay was sent sprawling from the force of the blast, much to Ron's relief.
“In here, KP!” he called out as a lone figure stepped out from the haze of dust, “Man am I glad to see…Shego?!”
“Who are you supposed to be?” Le Fay groaned as she struggled to her feet. Shego, however, could only give her attention to Le Fay's suit of armor and flowing red cape.
“Who are YOU supposed to be?” she asked back with a hollow chuckle, “Look lady, maybe you didn't get the memo, but the `Joan of Arc' look went out of style about 500 years ago.”
“Oh, I don't have time for such nonsense,” Le Fay said dismissively, calling out to her golem, “Take care of this pest!”
“As you wish, Milady!” the golem's voice echoed through the cave. Suddenly, Shego was swallowed up by a wave of sand as the golem emerged from under her feet, forming around her. For a moment, it looked as though Shego had been effectively dealt with. But without warning, the golem's body was rocked by dozens of plasma blasts bursting out from its body! And seconds later, a giant green wave of energy ripped through the golem, blowing it to pieces and raining sand throughout the cavern as Shego stood triumphantly.
“Oh please…is that REALLY all you've got?” Shego commented, turning to Le Fay with a cocky smirk. Le Fay meanwhile, merely replied with a wicked grin of her own as her body began to glow brightly.
“More than YOU have,” she replied with a hiss. Shego immediately put herself on guard, but when Le Fay pulled out Maria Novak's thick glasses so she could see well enough to fight, Shego had to force herself to keep from laughing.
“Oh, this is going to be even easier than I thought,” Shego said, already sensing a win.
“That's what YOOOOUUUU thiiiiiiink,” Ron mentioned under his breath as he rolled his eyes. But Shego wasn't about to pay him any attention as she charged straight into battle. Le Fay also has in no mood for hesitating as she floated herself off the ground and burst ahead. As the two reached each other, Le Fay's staff came across Shego's slashing strike with a blinding flash and the fight was on!
… … … …
Meanwhile, Kim and Maximillion had just reached the tree line as they hurried to make their way to Le Fay's hideout. Their fight against the golems was going well with only a handful left to defeat. And Maximillion was certainly showing some more impressive talents as the battle continued. With a flick of his wrist, he sent one stone golem flying into another, smashing them both into pebbles! His next attack came as he raised his hand, unleashing three force waves that crushed the three earth golems in front of him. Without a pause, he whirled around as a ring of fireballs circled around his hand. And as he whipped his arm across, the fireballs flashed forward, striking a pair of tree golems and exploding on impact, instantly burning them to ash!
Of course, Kim holding her own perfectly well against the golems' assault. She effortlessly cleaved through an earth golem with a forehand chop before performing a quick backflip to avoid a tree golem as its massive limb bashed into the ground where she had just been standing. And without wasting a second, Kim surged ahead, striking the tree golem with a straight roundhouse kick that sent flying into the forest, slamming into the trees and smashing to bits! But just then, something grabbed her arm hard, and swung her around. Kim was quick to recover, but looked up to see another giant stone golem towering over her with a death grip on her arm, preparing to strike. It must have gotten behind her while she was fighting the other two. But before Kim could react, the stone golem just mysteriously stopped, frozen in mid-strike as it shuddered and then suddenly, collapsed into a pile of rock. Meanwhile, Kim noticed her Battle Suit was starting to give off an odd glow. It was the same glow as before, when she used it to absorb Shego's plasma blasts. With no clue what had just happened, she went straight to the Kimmunicator to find out what was going on.
“Wade, analysis time,” she stated, “One of these golem things grabbed my suit and suddenly, it just fell apart. Any thoughts?”
“Let me run a quick scan,” Wade replied, rattling off on his keyboard, “Well, here's something. It looks like each of those golem constructs is giving of a faint energy signature. It must be what's holding their shapes and making them move. Your suit must have absorbed that energy when it grabbed you.”
“Wait…so you're saying, the suit can even absorb MAGIC too?” Kim asked, her eyes widening in surprise.
“Well, according to THESE readings…it looks that way,” Wade answered, sounding just as surprised as Kim. But Kim wasn't about to get ahead of herself. Wanting to put this new theory to the test, she shifted her focus to the last two golems that were left, a stone golem and a tree golem. Charging forward, she leaped into the air, flipping over them both. She would land behind them just a second later as she whirled around, placing her hands against their backs. And as soon as Kim touched them, just like what happened with the first stone golem, the final two froze and quaked before suddenly falling apart into the pieces that created them. Meanwhile, Kim's suit began to glow once again, which was all the proof Kim needed.
“Wow!” she exclaimed with an excited smile, “Wade, you are just rocking with ENCORES today!”
“Well, I hadn't PLANNED for it to work like that…but I don't mind taking the credit,” Wade responded with a shrug. Kim, however, despite this new knowledge, had no intentions of slowing down as she looked over at Max with a determined nod before tearing headlong into the forest.
… … … …
Back in the cave, Ron found himself having to occasionally shield his eyes from the brilliant flashes as Shego traded blows with Maria Le Fay in a heated standoff. But while neither side was giving an inch, Shego was slowly becoming frustrated that she wasn't gaining any ground against Le Fay, who was matching her attacks with pinpoint accuracy and displaying just enough power to fend her off. In a lot of ways, fighting her was just like fighting Maximillion!
“Shego, she's getting her powers from the staff!” Ron yelled out, not really caring WHO he was getting help from at that particular moment, “You HAVE to get it away from her! It's the only chance you've got!”
But Shego wasn't paying Ron any attention as she jumped back and unleashed a full force plasma blast with both hands! If she was going to win this fight, she was going to do it HER way! But her look of determination instantly turned to one of shock as her blast exploded BEFORE it hit Le Fay, harmlessly striking an invisible sphere she had raised around her body to protect herself. And before Shego could get her head back into the game to launch another attack, Le Fay lifted her arm, rendering Shego's body motionless as it floated off the ground. Shego, meanwhile, could only groan and struggle as she desperately tried to move.
“Well…I'm all warmed up,” Le Fay announced before whipping her hand forward and sending Shego flying backwards across the cavern and slamming into the stone wall behind her, instantly knocking her unconscious, “Now…where was I…?!”
Le Fay was feeling quite confident as she turned to carry out Ron's punishment. But her eyes suddenly went wide in surprise as she saw none other than Maximillion, with Rufus perched on his shoulder, standing beside Ron's barrier, rapping at it from different angles as he examined its structure. It was at that moment, that Max noticed Le Fay staring at her as he turned to her and flashed a quick grin.
“Oh hi,” he called out before turning his attention back to Ron's situation. Le Fay, however, could only glare as she wrung her hands around her staff. This was NOT the way she wanted her plan to be going.
“You…” she hissed angrily.
“Oh, you might want to seriously reconsider your priorities,” Max answered dismissively, still analyzing the shield around Ron, “Believe me, I am the LEAST of YOUR problems right now.”
“What?” Le Fay blurted out, unsure of what Max was trying to tell her. Just then, Kim burst from the cavern ceiling behind her, smashing to the ground in a hail of dust and rock!
“KP!” Ron called out, his face smiling wide with a mixture of joy and relief.
“You told me to call when I got him,” she announced as Le Fay whipped around just in time to see Kim pointing at her with the wisp flare Le Fay had given her. With a hard pull on the release, the end of the flare exploded in a brilliant flash, lighting the entire cavern! And suddenly, a large ball of light came streaking out with lightning speed, bashing Le Fay hard in the chest and sending her flying backwards into a cluster of rocks that quickly buried her! Maximillion, meanwhile, with Rufus whimpering on his shoulder, continued to look around Ron's shield.
“Hmmm…see, I TOLD you she was good,” he thought out loud to Ron as he kept knocking on different parts of the barrier, “I mean, if this thing can contain YOUR powers, that…is a VERY big deal. Fortunately…there is always…a weak point…to a barrier like this. You just…have to look around enough…and with the right counter magic…”
“Uh…excuse me? Not to undermine your authority on the subject,” Kim interrupted, gaining everyone's attention as she lifted her hands and wiggled her fingers, “But might I suggest a slightly more…high tech approach?”
Maxmillion put up his hands in concession as he took a few steps back, indicating that he wasn't too proud to get someone else's input. Kim, meanwhile, stepped forward, placing her hands against the barrier and instantly, her Battle Suit began to glow again. After a few seconds, the barrier seemed to be getting thinner and less visible as Kim's Battle Suit continued siphoning off the energy that kept it intact.
“Okay Ron, NOW give it a shot,” Kim called out after a few more seconds. Trusting her judgment, Ron cracked his knuckles as he fired up his Mystical Monkey Power, reaching back and then lunging forward with a thunderous punch! And sure enough, the barrier shattered like spun glass, the shards vanishing into thin air as Ron stretched, savoring his freedom. But Kim had other ideas as she smiled and jumped into Ron's arms, the two of them holding each other and spinning around happily before Ron gently took Kim's face in his hands and leaned in, kissing her deeply.
“MmmMMmm,” Kim murmured through the kiss with an impressed tone, running her hands up his arms and savoring the moment as long as she could before their mouths slowly parted, “Wow…SOMEONE'S happy to see me.”
“Hey, just because I knew you'd find me doesn't mean I didn't miss you,” Ron replied with a shrug as he looked into her eyes affectionately. Rufus, meanwhile, had leaped onto Ron's shoulder and began happily hugging his cheek.
“Hmm…I think I may have to take my time on some of these rescues now,” Kim said warmly, pulling herself in close and tracing circles on Ron's chest with her finger as she smiled and nuzzled with him, “I kind of like you this way.”
Almost losing themselves to the moment, Kim and Ron were about to lean in and kiss again, until they both suddenly remembered that Max was in the room. Turning around, they quickly caught a glimpse of him with his hand over his eyes.
“I'm not even here!” he announced boldly as he flashed a cheesy grin. Kim and Ron, however, simply sighed as they remembered the situation they were still in. Just then, they heard a small clattering of rocks as they looked over to where Le Fay had gone flying.
“Oh boy, look who's coming back,” Max added dryly before reaching over to Ron and putting his hand on his shoulder, “And look at you, here you are, not even ready. Come on man, let's get organized here!”
Suddenly, Ron's body began to glow and a second later, he was standing in his mission clothes. Kim had already been through this transformation before, but for Ron it was a very big deal as his eyes went wide in amazement.
“COO-OOL!” he shouted as he turned to Kim with a pleading smile, “Aw come on, KP, can we keep him now, huh? PleasepleasepleasepleasePLEEEEEEASE?”
Kim could only sigh and give an annoyed eye roll in reply. But Max still appeared to be more interested in Ron's wardrobe, looking it over thoughtfully.
“Hmmm, well you know, I like it…it's functional. But it just doesn't POP, does it? It needs something…something…something…” Max mused as he snapped his fingers and lightly pounded his forehead with his fist. It was as if the solution was right on the tip of his tongue. Kim and Ron, meanwhile, only looked at him, neither one of them entirely certain what was going through his head THIS time. Then suddenly…
“I'VE GOT IT!!” Max shouted as he swung around, grabbing Ron's shoulder once again. Suddenly, in a brilliant flash, Ron's appearance had changed again. He was still dressed in his old mission gear, only now he was wearing a white, bolero style jacket over his shirt. Kim recognized it right away. It was the same jacket that Max used to wear when he was running around with Team Go.
“That jacket saw me through many a super villain in style,” Max added proudly, “Something tells me it'll do the same for you.”
“Whoa!” Ron exclaimed, “Rufus, check this out! Are we talking snazzy or what?!”
“Oh yeah!” Rufus chirped excitedly, giving an enthusiastic thumbs up.
“I have to admit,” Kim replied with an approving nod, “It does look good on you.”
But Ron wasn't going to get any more time to bask in his new look. At that moment, Maria Le Fay exploded from her stone burial, her eyes glowing in rage! Kim and Ron could only scowl back as they prepared for the next round, but Maximillion simply offered a lighthearted grin.
“Oh good, the gang's all here. Now we can enjoy our feature presentation,” Max announced as he slung his cane over his shoulder. However, Le Fay couldn't help but notice that he was actually walking AWAY from the fight.
“Wait a minute…where are YOU going?!” she shouted as Max waved his hand, causing two pillars to grow out of the ground and form into a small table and chair.
“Oh, me? Yeah, I'm just gonna sit back and enjoy the show,” he replied, pulling a cup of tea out of thin air as he looked over at Le Fay with a confident smile, “Trust me, at this point, it's not like they're going to need MY help to take YOU on.”
“That's what YOU think,” Le Fay answered defiantly as she raised her hand, encasing Kim and Ron inside yet another barrier. But Kim and Ron merely smirked at each other in response before Kim placed her hands against the shield, draining its energy with her Battle Suit. And Le Fay's eyes went wide as Ron used his Mystical Monkey Power and put his fist straight through the barrier with the lightest punch, shattering it to pieces.
“Okay, I know you're a little out of touch, so let me give you some advice. If you want to get anywhere in the super villain game, you can't just keep relying on the same moves over and over again,” Kim stated, raising her hand as her Battle Suit's proton cannon morphed out from her wrist, “Every once in a while, you need to come up with something new…like this.”
Gasping in shock, Le Fay jumped to safety as Kim fired, sending a white hot beam exploding into the ground in front of where Le Fay had just been standing. But the force of the blast was still enough to send Le Fay flying in mid-jump and rolling along the cavern floor. Ron and Rufus, meanwhile, could only look on in wide-eyed shock before turning to Kim, who simply looked back at them with a confident smirk.
“So what do you think?”
“Okay,” Ron stated, still recovering from his amazement, “That…is TOTALLY better…than the tight, tight Global Justice uniform.”
“I had a feeling you'd like it,” Kim responded, tossing Ron a flirty look as she blew a quick breath across the cannon barrel. Just then, a pillar of sand came flying in, missing Kim's head by inches as it slammed into the cavern wall behind her! Looking over, Kim and Ron immediately caught sight of Le Fay's sand golem, fully recovered with its earlier encounter with Shego and clearly itching for a fight!
“Alright, THIS one's all mine!” Ron called out and Rufus was quick to leap off his shoulder as Ron transformed into his Mystical Monkey Power form and charged in. Kim would have preferred being able to sit back and watching Ron in action, but she soon had other things to worry about as Le Fay came leaping at her with a loud yell. Fortunately, Kim was able to sidestep her as she brought her staff down, cleaving into the cavern floor. But Le Fay was quick to respond as she spun around for another strike, which Kim blocked with her forearm. Le Fay struggled against her for a brief moment, but the power of Kim's Battle suit proved to be the deciding factor as she swept Le Fay's staff aside and took the offensive.
Le Fay's sand golem wasn't letting up for a second, lashing it's arms out as pillars of sand, much like it had done in their first encounter. But this time, Ron was prepared for it as he kept running, striking back with double handed chops and smashing the golem's arms away to nothing. Reaching the other side of the cavern with minimal effort, Ron lunged forward, planting his fists firmly into the golem's chest. But the golem simply smirked as Ron's fists only seemed to sink into its body, doing no damage at all.
“A rash and foolish attack, child. Surely you should have known that a physical attack would serve you little against a body such as…” the golem started to gloat as sand began slowly trailing up Ron's arms, threatening to swallow him whole. But its boast was cut off as Ron looked up at him with a wicked smirk, his Mystical Monkey energies starting to glow brighter. It was at that moment that the golem realized what Ron's attack was truly meant to accomplish.
“…oh no.” it whined slightly as it felt its body beginning to quake. This was exactly what Ron had done to the golem when he shot Rufus through Le Fay's barrier. To think that it had just fallen for the same trick twice…!
“I don't like you,” it stated plainly, scowling into Ron's grinning face, which had now turned quite smug. An instant later, its body was once again blown apart as Ron unleashed a powerful force wave! Ron would stand triumphantly a moment later, feeling quite proud of himself as he gently clapped the sand from his hands and walked off.
Kim, meanwhile, continued her struggle with Le Fay and neither side appeared to be gaining a clear advantage. Le Fay had jumped to a safer distance and Kim was right after her. Acting quickly, Le Fay caught her by surprise with a triple attack of fireballs, forcing Kim, who was stuck in mid-charge, to take them head on as they exploded around her! But Le Fay wouldn't get the chance to see if her attack did any damage. Just seconds later, another beam from Kim's proton cannon sliced through the smoke that was kicked up by Le Fay's attack. Le Fay, meanwhile, was just barely able to leap to safety as the beam tore through her cape.
But Kim wasn't done yet as she leaped through the smoke, holding a large stalagmite in her hands and bringing it right down on top of Le Fay like a club! Le Fay was just barely able to throw up her arms, forming a barrier to protect herself. But while her shield caused the stalagmite to smash harmlessly in two, the force of the blow still drove Le Fay a full foot into the ground! Kim immediately followed up with a second Major League swing, but again, the stalagmite was no match for Le Fay's barrier and Kim's makeshift weapon was now crumbled into nothing. Still, Kim wasn't about to give up as she lunged forward, sending her fist straight at Le Fay. But even this seemed to do little as Le Fay's barrier stood up to her punch.
“Hah! What good are even YOUR abilities if you can't even strike me?” Le Fay gloated as Kim's fist continued to struggle against her shield.
“Uh huh…You…just keep…TELLING yourself that!” Kim groaned as her Battle Suit began to glow once again, absorbing the energy of Le Fay's barrier. And Le Fay could only look on in shock as Kim suddenly managed to shove her fist through the shield, bashing her hard in the chest. The attack was strong enough to send Le Fay flying into another part of the cavern, but still, it had only been a fraction of its full power. And Kim was starting to find herself getting very frustrated.
“Uuuuh…This could go on all day,” she muttered to herself with a sigh, trying to think of a way out of the situation, “If there was just some way we could keep her from using her magic…”
“KP!” Ron called out to her. Kim turned around just in time to see him toss something at her. At first, she thought Ron had maybe found something, but as she caught it and looked down…
“Rufus?” Kim blurted out as the naked mole rat smiled waved up at her. At first, she could only look over at Ron with a raised eyebrow, clearly bewildered.
“She's got rodent issues!” Ron answered, instantly clearing up Kim's confusion.
“OooOOOoooh,” Kim replied knowingly, looking over her shoulder with a sinister grin, just as Le Fay came charging back into the cavern with a loud yell. Acting quickly, Kim whirled around hard, flashing her arm out and making sure Rufus was seen loud and clear.
“Hello!” Rufus announced sticking his tongue out at her. Her eyes widening in horror, Le Fay immediately skidded to a stop, cancelling her attack.
“That…thi-i-i-i-i-ng…,” she shuddered, almost paralyzed with fright, “Get it away from me-e-e-e-e-e-e…”
“She really DOES have rodent issues,” Kim replied confidently as she leaped forward with a flying kick! Despite her terrified state, Le Fay managed just enough presence of mind to sidestep Kim's attack. But Kim managed to clip her in the shoulder with a roundhouse kick right as she landed, sending Le Fay spiraling on her feet.
“Ron!” Kim called over, lobbing Rufus towards him as Le Fay stumbled to escape. Turning around, she caught a glimpse of Ron charging towards her, Holding Rufus straight out in front of him.
“AAAAH! GetitawaygetitawayGETITAWAY!!!” Le Fay shrieked as Ron struck, smashing his fist into the ground under her feet and sending a wave of earth and rock crashing at her. Out of desperation, Le Fay managed to throw up a shield to protect herself and ride out Ron's attack. But as she whirled around to get away from him, a smirking Kim blocked her path, flashing out her arm to shove Rufus right into her face.
“Hello!” Rufus called out again, licking the tip of Le Fay's nose, although he had to gag from the unpleasant taste. At that moment, the color drained from Le Fay's whimpering face as her bottom lip trembled and the pupils of her eyes turned into two tiny dots.
“EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!” Le Fay screamed at the top of her lungs, completely lost in panic! Seizing the moment, Kim lunged ahead, swinging her arm around and chopping the staff out of Maria's hand, sending it twirling through the air across the cavern. Kim immediately followed up with a hard side kick into her stomach, sending flying into a nearby wall.
Le Fay's sand golem had reformed just in time to see its master go down. As soon as the staff was taken out of her hands, the golem could only let out a wailing moan as it crumbled away to nothing. At that moment, it looked as though Kim and Ron had the fight won, but still, they had to be sure as they ran over to where they had seen Le Fay go flying, now hearing only weary groans. Fortunately, who they found was no longer Le Fay, but the freed body of Maria Novak. Even Le Fay's armor had disappeared, leaving Maria laying in the same clothes she had worn when she had fallen into the dig site a month ago, groggily opening her eyes.
“Tch! Told you so,” Maximillion said from the sidelines, finishing his last sip of tea.
“Uunnh, where am I? It feels like I've been asleep for weeks” she murmured with a loud yawn as she slowly sat up, but winced as she felt a series of aches in her body, “Ow! But obviously nowhere COMFORTABLE. What's going on here?”
“It's…a long story,” Kim replied, unsure how exactly to explain the situation to her, “Ron, could you help her outside.”
“Okay, that's it. We don't have to go very fast,” Ron spoke reassuringly as he helped a weary Maria out of the cavern, keeping Rufus hidden in his pocket to avoid scaring her again. Meanwhile, Kim was left alone with Maximillion, standing over the staff of Morgan Le Fay.
“Okay, so what exactly do we do with THIS thing?” Kim thought out loud, “I mean, it's not like we can just LEAVE it here.”
“Let ME worry about that!” a voice sounded off behind them as Shego suddenly burst past them like a green blur, grabbing the staff and flipping to a safe position! Admittedly, Kim had been too focused on fighting Le Fay to worry about what had happened to HER, but now Kim's eyes were wide as she saw Shego holding the staff, her body staring to give off an ominous green glow.
“Shego, no! You've got to put it down! Trust me, you REALLY don't want that!” Kim tried to warn her before it was too late. But unfortunately, her warning was too late before she even made it as Shego gave out a wicked cackle.
“Oh…DON'T I?!” she hissed as she whirled around to face Kim and Max, her eyes flashing a bright green. Sudenly, her body floated off the ground as Shego, now possessed by the spirit of Le Fay, howled with laughter while green streams of energy swirled around her body. This was the sight that greeted Ron's eyes as he came running in to investigate and immediately winced in panic along with Rufus.
“Uh…I'm gonna wish I didn't come back in, aren't it?” he stated as Shego's laughter echoed throughout the cave, the energies surrounding her getting stronger by the second.
“`SHE'LL BE USEFUL,' you said! `TRUST ME', you said!” Kim scolded at Max, who simply twiddled his thumbs and rolled his eyes innocently as Shego's power surge continued, “Now what, Smart Guy!”
But Max wouldn't get the chance to come up with an answer as Shego emerged from a blinding green flash, now as Shego Le Fay! Her traditional suit had even been replaced with black and green bladed armor and a flowing black cape as her eyes glowed with menace.
“Ahhhh, now THIS is power. Yes, this body should be more than enough to handle…nng!” Le Fay started to gloat, but was cut off as she clutched her head and staggered back, looking almost in pain.
“Rrrr…! For…GET IT!” Shego's eyes opened to reveal that the glow had mysteriously disappeared from them, “If ANYONE'S gonna smash his arrogant little face in, it's gonna be ME!!”
“WHAT?!” Le Fay shouted as the glow suddenly returned to Shego's eyes.
“Whoa,” Kim uttered in surprise, realizing right away that Shego was actually RESISTING Le Fay's control.
“You know, the TRULY scary thing is…this REALLY doesn't surprise me,” Ron added plainly. But Kim was already focusing back to the situation at hand as she looked at Max with a stern frown.
“Okay, TELL me you can actually STOP her,” she muttered threateningly.
“Well…I COULD say that,” Max replied, rolling his eyes once again, which only made Kim more aggravated, “But I think what you REALLY want to ask me is can I stop her without KILLING her.”
“I really don't think I need to answer that at this point, do you?” Max answered dryly.
“Terrific,” Kim responded sarcastically, “NOW what do we do?”
“Well, if it helps,” Max answered as he cracked his knuckles, “I'm pretty sure I can keep her busy while you guys work something out.”
“Yeah, uh huh. And exactly what are WE supposed to come up with?” Ron complained.
“Oh, come on. You guys aren't stupid, you'll come up with something,” Max stated as he took a few steps forward, “And as soon as you do, wait for my signal. You'll know it when you see it. Excuse me, ladies?!”
“Huh?” Shego, or possibly Le Fay, blurted out in surprise as Max strode forward, taking off his sunglasses.
“I'm pretty sure there's more than enough of me to go around, don't you?” he continued with a wicked smile as he eyes flashed bright white! Meanwhile, Shego almost appeared to be divided in half as one eye glowed and the other stayed normal.
“Very well, I propose a truce,” Le Fay suggested, “That way we'll BOTH get what we want…”
“Works for me!” Shego answered with a glare. Of course, Maximillion wasn't the least bit intimidated, laughing wildly as a column of white light exploded from his body! But Shego/Le Fay wasn't about to be intimidated either as her body glowed green and surged ahead. Max was quick to respond, charging forward as his cane flashed across her staff with a blinding flash and a wave of pure force!
Kim and Ron could only look on wide-eyed as Max and Shego/Le Fay traded strikes and all the flashes and power that went with it. The way that Shego/Le Fay was fighting, it not only proved that she still had access to all of Shego's powers, but that Le Fay was even making them stronger! But as for Max…no doubt about it, this was at LEAST three times as intense as his fight with Shego two days ago. He hadn't even been TRYING then, but…was he really trying NOW? And if not, just how much power did this guy really HAVE?!
“`You'll come up with something'…What are we supposed to come up with to deal with THAT?” Kim objected as Shego/Le Fay tossed a giant green ball of plasma in Maximillion's direction! But Max flashed across the room with lighting speed and swung his cane hard, knocking the ball right back at her. And Shego/Le Fay barely had enough time to jump out of the way as the ball exploded violently into the wall behind her! Meanwhile, as Ron watched the fight, unsure what to do himself, he suddenly remembered what Le Fay AND Max had said to him over the last two days…
…“YOUR magic combined with HIS would have been FAR too great a power for ME to overcome…”…
…“Give yourself a little credit, kid…You're stronger than you think”…
“Me,” Ron uttered, “We come up with me.”
“Huh?” Kim looked at him curiously.
“Le Fay told me,” Ron explained, “She said if my magic came together with his, she wouldn't have a chance. Maybe if I could get in there, we might be able to…”
“Ron,” Kim cut him off, looking at him with serious eyes, “Don't get me wrong, I like that you want to step up in these sitches now, but what do you think you're going to do in there? I mean, look what you're up against.”
Ron turned his attention back to the battle as Shego/Le Fay launched another giant plasma ball towards Maximillion. But Max simply smiled as his body glowed, splitting into six different copies of himself giving the one attack six targets to choose from. But now was Shego's/Le Fay's turn for a surprise as well as she snapped her fingers, bursting the ball into dozens of plasma bolts that struck all six of the stunned Maximillion copies, exploding on impact! Shego/Le Fay tried to peer through the smoke for any trace of him, but suddenly…
“Not bad,” Maximillion's voice sounded off behind her as Shego/Le Fay whirled around to see him reclining on too pillars growing out of the ground like a chair and footrest, smirking and holding another cup of tea in his hand, “I see you've got Shego's accuracy…”
“…Too bad you've also got her attention span.”
“You know, after further observation, you do make a convincing argument,” Ron admitted as Shego/Le Fay simply growled and she burst forward, her staff smashing through the pillar Max was sitting on as he spiraled out of the way.
“Look Ron, it IS a good idea, but you can't go out there throwing fists in a fire fight. We need to find another…” Kim froze in mid sentence as an idea finally flashed into her brain, forcing her to slap her forehead before going straight for the Kimmunicator, “Oh, I'm such an idiot! I can't believe I didn't think of this sooner! Wade, theory me!”
“What's up?” Wade replied.
“We need a way to get Ron's Mystical Monkey Power into this fight from long range,” Kim suggested, “Based on what we've seen so far, what are the chances we could absorb it into the Battle Suit and fire it off through the proton cannon?”
“Well, it should be no different than any of the magical energies the suit has absorbed already,” Wade guessed, “But Kim, we still don't know how strong Ron's Mystical Monkey Power really IS. I don't know if the suit can handle it.”
“That's a risk I'm willing to take,” Kim replied as she signed off, looking over at Ron. But Ron wasn't nearly as sure as he looked back at Kim nervously.
“Kim, is this really a good idea?” he asked, thinking back to all the things he had already done with his Mystical Monkey Power so far, “Look, I'm not saying you're wrong. It's just…I don't want you to get hurt.”
“Ron, don't worry,” Kim answered as she walked up to him, “It'll be fine…”
“…I believe in you.”
“Kim…are you REALLY sure…?” Ron uttered, still not showing the same level of confidence. But Kim simply responded by sliding her hand down his cheek, looking into his eyes with a reassuring smile.
“When it comes to us? Always.”
Ron couldn't help but smile back as they both leaned in, sharing a soft kiss before Ron took her hand. There was just one more thing he had to do first.
“Rufus, this is gonna get intense,” he called down, “You'd better get back. And I mean WAY back.”
“Uh huh, okay,” Rufus nodded as he jumped out of Ron's pocket and scampered to the far end of the cavern behind them. With that, Ron transformed into his Mystical Monkey Power form, his fingers intertwining with Kim's as they held each other close. Almost immediately, Kim's suit began to glow, even brighter than it had before.
Meanwhile, Maximillion continued distracting Shego/Le Fay, but his next move was something no one could have possibly predicted. As Shego/Le Fay jumped to the far end of the cavern, Max surprised her by actually tossing his cane at her like a spear! But Shego/Le Fay managed to dodge the attack by inches, sending it flying into the cavern wall behind her.
“Wha…are you insane?!” Le Fay replied, “You would so callously throw away the focus of your power?!”
But Shego/Le Fay was so stunned by Maximillion's move that she was too late to notice that the cane hadn't changed back into Merlin's wand. It wasn't until that moment that she saw a thin line stretching from the cane to around the middle finger of his hand. He hadn't thrown it away at all…he was still in contact with it! And Maximillion simply smiled and fluttered his eyebrows before sending a bolt of lightning streaking along the line, striking his cane and blowing out the wall behind Shego/Le Fay! As Shego/Le Fay went flying face first, the line attached to Max's cane snapped back, bringing it back into Max's hands.
Kim and Ron, meanwhile, were focused on their job as Kim's Battle Suit continued to absorb Ron's Mystical Monkey Power. But Kim's suit was now doing more than just glow as it began giving off tiny electrical sparks just as the Kimmunicator sounded off.
“Kim, if you're going to shoot the proton cannon, you'd better do it now!” Wade exclaimed, “The suit can't handle much more! It's going to overload!”
“Let it overload!” Kim argued as she stood her ground, “We're only going to get one shot at this! We've got to make it count!”
As Kim argued with Wade, the fight between Max and Shego/Le Fay continued as her staff crossed with his cane in a struggle of raw power. But Max was about to gain the upper hand once again as he waved his free arm and caught Shego/Le Fay in a small tornado, blowing her across the room and dropping her flat on her face. But as she struggled to get up and looked over at Maximillion's smirking face, Shego/Le Fay began seething in rage and roared as her staff struck the ground, sending a massive wave of green plasma straight at him! Max, meanwhile, appeared to be completely caught off guard as the wave struck him hard, sending him flying back into the far wall and driving a large hole into it!
Kim's eyes went wide as Max's body slumped to the ground. Everything she had observed from him up until that point indicated that he could have EASILY countered that move. Unless THAT was…
…“…wait for my signal. You'll know it when you see it.”…
“That's it!” Kim called to Ron, who nodded in response as she threw her fist out. A second later, the proton cannon barrel appeared from her wrist and was already flashing violently!
“We'd better brace ourselves. This thing is probably going to have a real kick!” Kim warned. But Ron was quick to respond as he stamped his foot up to his ankle into the cavern floor, wrapping his arm tight around Kim's waist as he reached over and gripped her wrist.
“I'm pretty sure we'll be able to handle it,” he answered with a confident smile. And Kim had to smile back at him warmly before turning back and preparing to fire. Meanwhile, Shego/Le Fay had strolled across the cavern and was standing over Maximillion's limp form, feeling a new surge of confidence.
“So…do you STILL think you have a chance of beating us both?” Le Fay boasted, preparing to strike what she thought was the final blow. But her question drew a very curious response from Max, who only began giggling, followed by a fit of hysterical laughter.
“Do YOU still think I'm actually TRYING?” he laughed, looking up at her with a twisted grin. Shego/Le Fay was confused at first, but it was at that moment that she turned to see Kim and Ron braced to fire the proton cannon of Kim's Battle Suit, the barrel flashing wildly!
“NOW!!!” Kim shouted as the white beam exploded from the cannon, at least four times larger than any of the blasts she'd previously fired! Even with Ron's foot planted firmly into the cavern floor, the recoil of the blast still plowed them at least three feet back along the ground! And at that moment, Kim was thankful in the back of her mind that she had Ron there to support her. Even WITH the Battle Suit, if Ron hadn't been bracing Kim's arm, the blast would have easily dislocated her shoulder.
The attack was right on target, but at the last second, Shego/Le Fay smirked as she threw up a barrier to protect herself! The force of the blast slamming into the barrier was enough to push her back slightly, but it STILL wasn't enough to penetrate it! And Kim could only gasp in shock as the barrier was standing up to the beam's searing power!
“Oh please!” Shego called out, “Did you REALLY think we'd forgotten all about YOU, Princess?! You're going to need something a lot stronger than THAT little water pistol to…oh no…”
That was when it finally dawned on her the trap they had just walked into. Whirling her head around, Shego/Le Fay looked to where Max had just been laying, only to find him completely vanished! Turning back to Kim and Ron, she gasped in horror as Max was now suddenly standing beside them, smiling and waving playfully.
“Hello!” he called out cheerfully as he brought his hand down onto Kim's wrist, lightly pressing his finger against the proton cannon barrel. Instantly, the beam DOUBLED in size as it ripped through the air, shaking the entire cavern with its force as it struck Shego's/Le Fay's barrier, smashing her into the cavern wall! Miraculously, the shield was still protecting Shego/Le Fay from the beam's full power, but the force of the blast was still penetrating inside, pinning her to the wall, unable to move. Feeling as if her body was being crushed by the weight of the blast, Shego/Le Fay shuddered as she suddenly began screaming in pain!
“Max!” Kim called over to him, “Shego…! We've got to…!”
“Not yet!” Max replied, looking on intently and making it obvious that he fully understood the agony Shego was in, “We can't do anything until she drops the staff!”
“But…if she drops it…won't she lose all the magic stuff?” Ron noted.
“Let ME worry about that!” Max answered, not taking his eyes off Shego for a second.
“But…what if…?!” Kim started to say.
“It's okay!” Max shouted, turning to look straight at her, “She'll be fine…!”
Kim couldn't help but notice the seriousness in Max's eyes as he spoke. There was pure resolve in his eyes, not the lighthearted ribbing like there was with all the other times. And he was making it clear that no matter WHAT went down, he wasn't about to let ANYTHING happen to Shego. At that moment, Kim and Ron looked at each other and agreed to put their faith in Max as they gave him a simple nod and turned back to Shego/Le Fay, pouring on the power!
“Almost there…! Wait for it…!” Max called out as Shego/Le Fay continued crying out in pain. Suddenly, her voice began to fade as he body went limp and she began to black out. Losing consciousness rapidly, Shego's grip on the staff began to loosen…and slip…and finally…
…she dropped it!
“THERE!!!” Max shouted as he burst forward, literally charging across the cavern and back with Shego in his arms in the blink of an eye! The barrier had disappeared the instant Shego dropped the staff, but Max managed to carry her out of harm's way just before the beam struck her! Meanwhile, the beam itself tore carved a giant hole through the cavern wall before streaking harmlessly into the sky like a comet.
Kim and Ron crumpled to their knees a moment later, both completely drained from the effort as Rufus ran back up Ron's arm to join them. It took a few moments, but eventually, they both managed to stagger to their feet as they looked over to see Max, still holding Shego in his arms as she groaned and gently opened her eyes to look up at him. As Shego's eyes finally began to focus, her arm shivered as she raised a glowing hand as if to strike him. But the glow quickly faded as she only managed enough strength to lightly glide her hand along Max's cheek.
“I…REALLY…hate your guts…” she muttered to him with a light scowl before passing out again. Max, meanwhile, simply replied with a chuckle as he smiled down at her warmly.
“Awww, someone's gonna sleep well tonight,” he said jokingly. Meanwhile, Kim and Ron could only give each other a relieved smile as Ron put his arm around Kim's shoulder and Kim wrapped her arm around his waist. Just then, a low rumbling sound could be heard as the cave began to shift and collapse.
“Aaaand now we're leaving,” Max announced as Kim dragged Ron over to him, grabbing his shoulder as they all vanished in a veil of smoke. Meanwhile, Maria Novak was still outside the cave, wondering what was happening, but now gasping in shock as the cave collapsed in front of her!
“Sorry! Sorry!” Max exclaimed, suddenly appearing beside her as he grabbed her arm and disappeared once again. Moments later, the entire cave came crumbling down, followed only by an eerie silence falling over the English forest.
… … … …
It was Monday morning and Shego had found herself in the same coffee shop she was in two days earlier. It hadn't been until a couple of hours earlier that she had finally come to. Apparently, Kim and Ron had carried her into Drakken's lair with Max back on Saturday, but Max was once again sketchy with Drakken on the details of what happened.
Looking over, she saw a half read newspaper lying across a neighboring table, opened to a headline that read, “Noted Archeologist Found after Mysterious Disappearance”. But all it did was serve as a reminder to Shego of what had been happening the last few days, which was really the last thing she wanted to be thinking about at that moment. Just then, she was interrupted from her train of thought a waiter walked up placing a cup of tea on the table.
“I didn't order this,” she said, confused.
“A gentleman ordered it for you,” the waiter replied, handing her a folded slip of paper, “He said he thought it might calm your nerves. He also wanted me to hand you this.”
Clearly confused, Shego looked around the room for an explanation. Suddenly, her eyes went wide as she looked over to see Maximillion sitting across the room at a table by the window, flashing a lighthearted grin and raising his teacup towards her just as a waitress walked between them. But just then, as the waitress passed by, Max was gone, leaving only the note his note behind as Shego opened it. Although what it said didn't make her feel any better…
Shego could only utter an aggravated groan as she crumpled the paper and dropped it to the floor, putting her head down on the table in submission. It seemed that no matter what she may have wanted, Max was going to be here to stay.
… … … …
“Hey, heading out?” Max called over to Ron as he walked down the hall. It was time for lunch and Ron was already on his way to meet Kim.
“You know it!” Ron replied as Rufus rubbed his belly and smacked his lips in approval. Max didn't see any harm in seeing him to the door. But suddenly, he grabbed Ron's shirt and held him back.
“What's up?” Ron exclaimed. But Max only confused him more as he suddenly started sniffing the air. Little did Ron know that Kevin Barkin was standing just around the corner.
“Yes…he's here. I can SMELL his contempt,” Max hissed with a wickedly amused tone as he turned to Ron, “Hey…wanna try something?”
Barkin found himself growing impatient. Certainly, they both should have reached him by now. Looking around the corner curiously, he noticed that both Ron AND Max were gone. But where could they have…?
“Hey `Kev'!” Ron called jokingly behind him as he whirled around to see Ron and Max peeking out from a classroom behind him, “Looking for someone?”
“HAH!” Max taunted as he and Ron disappeared in the room, slamming the door behind them. Immediately, Barkin raced down the hall in pursuit, but as he flung the door open, all he saw was an empty room. How did they get out? For that matter, how did they even get IN? There were no other doors leading into it!
“What the…? WHAT MADNESS IS THIS?!?!” Barkin's voice echoed through the halls as Ron and Max walked down the main steps, laughing hysterically.
“Dude, you were right. That WAS fun,” Ron chuckled as he gently knocked his fist against Max's as a gesture of friendship before running to the main gates, “Okay, I've gotta run. Meeting Kim.”
Unfortunately, Ron ended up spending over an hour sitting at the booth in Bueno Nacho waiting for her. Kim's classes were usually over with by this time, but it was looking painfully apparent that her last class of the day must have run long. Sighing as he propped his head up on the table, he could only turn to Rufus with a somber look.
“Well…looks like it's just you and me today. Wanna order, buddy?” he asked in a dreary tone while Rufus could only whimper in response. Just then, they happened to look over and see a lone figure standing just outside the door.
“Huh?” Ron noted as he raised his head curiously…
… … … …
“Bye! See you tomorrow!” Kim called out as she waved goodbye to some of her classmates. She sounded cheerful enough towards them, but as she turned and headed for the front gates, it became clear that she was only putting up a tough front as she sighed and trudged to her car. She could only hope that Ron would forgive her for standing him up. But she hadn't counted on such a long lecture and it would have been bad form to try and call him in the middle of it. Still, despite the valid reason, she couldn't help but feel guilty. It seemed that even with a super powered car, this would be just one of quite a few missed opportunities to come from attending schools on different sides of the world. Just then…
“Hey you,” the unmistakable voice echoed in Kim's ears as she walked out of the gates. And her eyes went wide as she turned to see Ron just around the corner, leaning back against the wall, with Rufus waving from his pocket.
“I thought maybe I'd be the one to give the surprises today,” he replied with a shrug, holding out his hand with a red rose, “Beautiful flower for a beautiful lady?”
“Oh Ron…,” Kim was obviously touched by the gesture, but it still wasn't enough to drown out her confusion, “But…how did you GET here?”
“Well, you're not the only one who can call in favors,” Ron answered confidently as he pointed upwards, “Let's just say we…hitched a ride.”
Turning around and following Ron's hand, Kim looked upward to see Maximillion standing on top of a nearby street lamp. Offering a reassuring grin, he simply gave a stage bow and disappeared in a puff of smoke. Kim, meanwhile, could only smile with gratitude as Ron walked up behind her and put his arms around her waist, resting his head on her shoulder.
“You know what? I think I really AM going to like having him around,” Kim stated before turning her head to Ron, reaching up and sliding her hand down his cheek as they leaned in and kissed deeply. Max, meanwhile, simply stood at the top of the Big Ben clock tower as he watched the sun setting over the London horizon.
“Ah yes,” he said to himself with a satisfied grin, “This is gonna work out juuuuust fine.”
… … … …
Elsewhere in England…
The forest was bustling with nature's quiet activity. Completely undisturbed, no one would have ever guessed that such a fierce battle had taken place days ago in another small wooded area just a few short miles away. Yet now, for some strange reason, there was a small part of the forest that seemed eerily quiet. Not a bird could be heard chirping, not a single rustle could be heard. There, in a small clearing, a long wooden pole lay in the tall grass, still and silent…