“Regrettably, Kim, my assistance has to end here,” Sadie said as she pulled up in front of the Space Center. “I’m many things, but a moon buggy I’m not. Of course,” she added darkly, “Sappho is plenty buggy.”
“No big,” Kim said. “I’m sure there will be plenty of missions where we’ll need you instead of her.”
“There’d better be,” Sadie sighed. “Sappho will be insufferable tomorrow. ‘Guess who was helping save the world while you were playing taxicab, Sadie?’”
“Does your transportation often… argue, Kim-sama?” Yori asked as she got out of the back seat.
“You should hear the spaceship flirt,” Ron told her.
Yori lost a bit of her composure as she stared at him like he was speaking in tongues. Then she laughed, albeit a trifle hesitantly. “Oh, Ron-san, I have never forgotten that American-style humor of yours.”
“This girl’s got to get out more,” Monique mumbled.
Kim went around to Sadie’s trunk space and removed an ordinary garment bag. Inside was a highly sophisticated battle suit prototype, but Wade had assured her she need treat it with only the same care she might treat a blazer for the office. “Yori, while you’re a part of the team I think you’ll find we rely upon people and machinery that are a big cut above what you rely upon in your work as a secret agent.”
“I apologize, Kim-sama. I have seen wondrous things as a student at Yamanouchi. I should not be so startled by – a car that acts like a person,” Yori said.
“Wave of the future, honey. Wave of the future,” Sadie assured her.
“Is Sappho part of that wave?” Monique asked dryly.
“No, I believe she and I can agree that there will and should never be more than one of her,” Sadie replied.
Monique stepped away from the car so Ron could get his mission gear as well. She was already clad in her all black nighttime clothes, her wavy hair the only visible part of her body as it cascaded past her shoulders through a slit in her outfit above the back of the neck. She felt awkward being seen like this in broad daylight, but not as awkward as she’d have felt if she was seen by someone going into a room as Monique, and leaving it as the Oryx.
As Ron reached into the trunk for his bag, his hand brushed against Yori’s. “Oops, sorry,” he said, pulling back. “Ladies first.”
“It is no trouble, Ron-san,” Yori said. “You have seniority, you may go first.” She smiled a little. “I hope Monique-san did not see our hands meet like that. It would bother me greatly if I gave your girlfriend the wrong impression.”
“Whoa, my what?” Ron asked. “Where did you get that – oh. Let me guess.”
Yori didn’t answer at first. “Your guess, Ron-san?” she finally asked.
“Uh, yeah, right, it was KP, wasn’t it?”
“Yes, Ron-san. How very clever of you.”
“It’s not clever, it’s just anything’s possible to Kim,” Ron said. “Even the chance that Monique and I are going out even though I told her we weren’t.”
“So it is not true?” Yori asked.
Ron was about to respond when a little noise distracted him. Rufus was hanging out of his pocket, chortling. “I could date her if I wanted to,” Ron said to the mole rat defensively.
“Hm,” Yori said, retrieving her gear. “That is very interesting.” She brushed past him and sauntered toward the Center’s main entrance.
“Ohh-kay,” Ron said to himself as he got his bag. “I tell KP I’m not dating Monique, and she tells people I am. Then she thinks YORI’S interested in me. Where does Kim get this stuff from, Rufus?”
Inside his other pocket, Ruby groaned.
“We’re meeting with my father as well as Dr. Director and Mr. – Colonel Barkin at Mission Control,” Kim explained as they walked. Four years of referring to him as “Mister Barkin” wouldn’t die easily. “Considering Shego has no patience for Barkin, I’m guessing she’s already waiting inside Sappho.”
“I will be honored to meet Dr. Possible,” Yori said. “Perhaps some day I will have the chance to meet your mother as well.”
“We could have another sparring session,” Monique suggested evilly. “You’ll find yourself her patient real fast.”
“Ah, Monique-san, that sense of humor of yours – so like Ron-san’s!”
Monique’s eyes widened.
Ron grinned at Monique as he put an arm around her shoulders. “Highest kind of compliment, wouldn’t you say?” he asked.
“Not going there, Ron.”
“Once we get there,” Kim went on, ignoring the repartee behind her, “Wade will link up with the Center’s computer network through Dr. Director’s Kimmunicator. He’s customized his computers at home so heavily that they outshine the resources here. It wouldn’t be efficient for him to come here.”
“A pity. I’d like to meet him some day.”
Kim stopped in her tracks when she heard the voice and saw the form outlined in the entrance to Mission Control. “Mom?” she asked, surprised.
“Hey, sweetie,” Mrs. Dr. Possible said as she came towards Kim. “Are you all ready for today?”
“Almost,” Kim said, still confused. “What are you doing here? Don’t you have work today?”
“Yes and no,” her mother said. “My shift at the hospital is over, but I’m on call here.”
“Kimmie, you’re about to embark on a very dangerous mission in space. Oh, I know, you’ve been in space before, but this isn’t just Dr. Drakken on a satellite,” Holly Possible explained. “This is a self-described ‘empire of evil’ in a secret facility on the surface of the moon. If one of you is injured or, say, deprived of oxygen due to exposure, I think you should have a trained physician and neurologist waiting here.”
“I don’t really think this mission will be that dangerous, especially with all five of us,” Kim said. “Oh, that’s right! Mom, this is Yori. She’s joining us from Japan for this assignment. Yori, my mother.”
“It is a great honor,” Yori said, bowing.
“Betty has told me all about you,” Kim’s mother told her. “It’s very nice meeting you. Hey, Ron, Monique,” she added, looking past Kim.
“Hi, Mrs. Dr. P,” Ron said.
“You should go home after we take off, Mom,” Kim went on. “We could be gone a while, and someone needs to watch the tweebs – “
“Don’t worry, they’re here too,” her mother said casually.
“Hey sis, can we – “
Kim blinked. Her mother’s presence was a surprise, but the tweebs were a bigger one. “Is this about you flying on Sappho, or going to the moon?” she asked them.
“Can’t it be both?” Jim replied.
“Do these children often come on missions?” Yori asked Ron.
“Unless we need a portable sonic phase disruptor, not really, no,” he said.
The twin boys focused on the two women all in black. “Whoa, ninja chicks!”
“Now we HAVE to come along!” Tim added.
“Even at that age,” Monique said, “men are into women who can kick their asses.”
The tweebs’ faces fell. “Aw, that’s just Monique,” Jim complained.
“I bet the new girl’s still a ninja,” Tim said hopefully.
“You boys would be staying here even if there were twenty ‘ninja chicks’,” Holly warned them, “so be glad it’s ‘just Monique’.”
“Sorry, tweebs,” Kim said. “You want to join the team, you come back to me when you’re twenty-one.”
They looked at her intently. “All right, sis,” Tim said. “You’ve got a deal.”
“Uh, what?” Kim asked.
“Looks like we’ve got just five more years to get in shape for the team,” Jim said thoughtfully.
“Not much time to start bulking up,” Tim added.
“What are you guys – “
“You said, we want a place on the team, we come back when we’re 21,” Jim reminded her. “Sounded like a promise to me.”
“And me,” Tim said.
“That’s not what –” Kim started to say.
“Think they’ve got you there, KP,” Ron said.
Kim shot him a look. “Not helping,” she muttered.
“Come on, kids,” Holly said. “Your sister has more important things to do.” She glanced at her daughter as the boys disappeared back into Mission Control. “Don’t worry, boys their age won’t remember things like that.”
“I’m not so sure,” Kim said. “They never let me live anything down before.”
“Miss Possible,” Barkin grumbled as he appeared behind Mrs. Dr. Possible, “need I remind you that the world is in imminent danger? As in, no time to lose?”
“Right, gotcha,” Kim replied. “Let’s move, guys.”
“There’s my Kimmie-cub,” James Possible said as they entered.
Yori raised an eyebrow.
“Dad,” Kim said, exasperated. “Not in front of everybody, okay? Where’s Shego?”
“Well,” he said, “Sappho is currently on the tarmac, and it appears Shego is on her.”
“You mean on deck.”
“No, I mean on Sappho. Lying on top of the ship. I’m told she does enjoy her sunbathing,” her father said.
“She’s been prepping Sappho for the past hour,” Dr. Director explained. “And, well, you know Shego. She’s not fond of making small talk.”
“Unless she’s fighting,” Ron pointed out.
“Shego knows her banter,” Monique added approvingly.
“Yes, but perhaps one day she can learn to enjoy holding a conversation without launching a brawl,” Dr. Director suggested. She reached into her pocket and pulled out the Kimmunicator she’d been given not long after starting work for Team Possible. “I believe Mr. Load said you’d be needing this?”
“Actually no, you will,” Kim said. She went over to her father and handed it to him. “Dad, we need you to connect this to your computers. It’ll allow Wade to interface directly with the Space Center’s network while you’re monitoring Sappho’s flight. It’s the only chance we’ll have to communicate with him from the moon.”
He took the Kimmunicator with a small look of misgiving. “I don’t know, Kimmie, some people here would feel very uncomfortable about granting an individual free access to our network, especially a computer wizard. There would be security concerns.”
“If it would make them feel any better, Wade could probably hack into the system on his own.”
“Oh, I’m sure they’d feel MUCH better,” he said wryly.
“Dr. Possible,” Colonel Barkin said, “this is a government matter of the utmost importance. I’m sure that trumps the very small risk that some minor classified project would be compromised by Mr. Load.”
“Very small? How about zero?” Kim replied.
“The work done here is cutting edge, Colonel, and decidedly not minor. And if you had let me finish,” James went on, “I would have explained that while some people would be uncomfortable, I am not one of them. I trust your judgment, Kim. So I just won’t tell them.” He glanced at the device. “I don't suppose you have a USB cable handy?”
“Just turn it on, Dad. Wade can walk you through the rest.”
“Hrm,” he said, studying her. “I'm not seventy-five, you know. I DO know a little something about computers.”
“Remember when you needed us to set the VCR for you?” Tim asked.
“Like, say, last night?” his brother added.
James Possible grumbled as he activated the Kimmunicator.
“Hey Kim - I mean, uh, Mr. Possible,” Wade said as his face appeared on the screen. “Did Kim talk to you about -”
“I'm trusting you won't feel the urge to go peeking at other scientist's project files while you have access, Wade.”
“No problem, sir.”
“He's probably seen most of them anyway,” Monique said.
“I'll pretend I didn't hear that,” James replied.
“Just set the Kimmunicator next to any port,” Wade told him. “I'll take care of the rest.”
“I thought Wade-san was simply an inventor,” Yori said. “These handheld devices, Kim-sama's new suit. But I see, he is like a ninja of computers, is he not?”
“I - guess you could say that,” Ron admitted. “Ninja of computers? I guess you didn't have a lot of exposure to the Internet at Yamanouchi.”
“My government has helped me greatly these past two years,” Yori replied. “Apparently it is impossible for an agent like myself to function without being 'computer literate'. But that kind of - hacking, I believe the American term is? I am lacking in that kind of talent.”
“Nice to know you don't know everything,” Monique muttered.
Yori smiled slightly. “Do not fear, Monique-san. I know more than enough when it comes to fighting - as you have experienced.”
Wade's face suddenly appeared on every computer monitor in the room. “Coming in loud and clear?” he asked.
“In surround sound, Wade,” Dr. Director said. “Although I think we'd like to be able to use SOME of the computers here ourselves.”
“Oh, right.” The original displays reappeared on most monitors, with Wade's face remaining on a widescreen display near the long window overlooking the launch pad. “Better?”
“Kim, I'm opening a frequency with Sappho now,” Wade told her. “We'll be able to receive your transmissions here as well as at my house. She's confirming that a course has already been plotted by Colonel Barkin.”
“That's right,” Barkin said. “The American government has had coordinates for the location of the entrance to Gemini's base for a few days now.”
“Let me guess,” Kim said. “That's where you sent the joint American-GJ detail?”
He frowned. “Well, yes.”
“So it's possible it was just a trick, and if we go there, we'll find an ambush waiting?”
“It's been deemed 'unlikely' by the Joint Chiefs. Besides, it's not as if we have any alternate coordinates.”
Kim just nodded. She'd see if Sappho could run her own scans once they were in space. “Then I guess we're ready.”
The atmosphere seemed to get a bit more still, and she looked around at the rest of the team (except Shego, of course), then at the adults and her brothers. “Guys, come on, it's just a mission. It's not like I've never had to save the world before. This isn't goodbye.”
“Of course it's not, Kimmie,” her mother said quickly. “It's just - your father and I are very proud of you. And you too, Ronald. Monique. It's not often that we see you off on your missions, and this one is as important as they come.”
Kim didn't know what to say - she'd never felt the absence of her parents' love and support, but considering it had been just a few months ago that she feared losing it forever because of her same-sex relationship, it just felt good hearing it. Ron, however, didn't feel quite so tongue-tied. “Thanks, Mrs. Dr. P,” he said. “We'll send postcards while we're gone.”
Yori chuckled at the sound of his “American-style humor”.
“You also have the thanks of your government, Kim Possible,” Colonel Barkin said. “There might just be a medal or two coming when this is all over.”
“Not a Navy medal, right?” Ron asked.
Barkin grimaced at Ron. “No, Stoppable, not one of those.”
“Right, just checking.”
“I do need a place to change before we go,” Kim remembered, taking the garment bag containing the Battle Suit off her shoulder.
“Use my office, Kimmie-cub,” James said. “But so you know, Kim, it's a cloudless day today and the glare on the tarmac can get extremely bright,” he warned her. “Let them know downstairs that you'll need eyegear before you go out onto the launch pad.”
“Free shades? Sweet!” Ron said.
Rufus poked his head out. “Me?” he asked hopefully, pointing at himself.
“Sorry, Rufus,” Mr. Dr. Possible said. “They don't come rodent-sized.”
“So you're not upset?” Sappho asked. “I mean, I realize we had a similar discussion that time you found out about the JPEG files of you fighting I downloaded to my hard drive, but -”
“Nah,” Shego said, her arms folded underneath her head. “If I didn't make a real effort to piss people off, everyone would love me, and I don't have that kind of free time.”
The white orb hovered over her, connected to a cable that issued from an opening in the front of the spaceship. A light at its center flickered, which Shego had learned meant the craft was thinking. “I can't tell if you're being serious or not,” she eventually admitted.
“You're still learning about humans,” Shego said. “Which is my point. It took my Pumpkin weeks to figure out our relationship. What chance would an artificial intelligence have?”
“I think Sadie is right for once. You ARE full of yourself.”
“Does that mean I'm not your favorite pilot any more?”
“Actually, I think I like you even more.”
Shego laughed. “Well, let's see if you can't try toning it down when Kimmie's around. I don't think it's cheating if I flirt with a machine, but she really doesn't see it that way. And maybe some day we can build you your very own robot to flirt with. Maybe one that comes in green and black?”
There was a pause before Sappho laughed nervously. “Oh, Shego, what odd things you say,” she said. “Oh look,” she added a tad too brightly, “the rest of the team is coming.”
“Finally,” Shego said. “Mind if I get a little help down?”
“Of course not.”
Shego was over twenty feet in the air. Not even she could land a fall from that height without breaking a half-dozen bones. But Sappho moved her “eye” within reach, allowing Shego to grab hold of the reinforced titanium cable. Then Sappho slowly lowered her to the ground, allowing Shego to lean against the ship and wait for Kimmie's arrival.
As the other four slowly came into view, Shego watched for a while, and then whistled.
She had to admit, her past desire to get Kimmie into one of her catsuits had been more about the skintight fabric, and less about the color scheme. Shego was identified with green and black. It wouldn't do for Kim to start wearing the same colors. White and blue was better - although she still thought the pattern was a bit too conservative for her taste.
The way that “battle suit” hugged her curves, though - rowr. And with those sunglasses on… “Oh, Princess,” Shego breathed. “I knew you had the 'right stuff'.”
Of course, now that Kim had finally stopped insisting on dressing like Stoppable, still in his black top and baggy pants, now she had the Oryx and the new girl Yori dressed alike. What WAS it with heroes and their insatiable need to wear matching outfits?
“About time,” Shego only said as the four arrived. “I did get to work on my tan, though.”
“Nice shades,” Kim said, noting they were different from the standard-issue ones she'd received along with the other three.
“Kimmie, you KNOW I'm a sun worshipper. I'm never without a pair, plus five or six more where I'm crashing.” She lowered her sunglasses slightly with a finger. “I have a style, you know.”
“Is this Yori?” Sappho asked, her eye focusing on the Japanese woman as it came around to look at the new arrivals.
“Ah, you must be Sappho… Sappho-san, I mean,” Yori said. She'd learned from Sadie, who had been offended when Yori had addressed her without the honorific. Apparently some machines didn't differentiate themselves from people.
“Hm, you're cute,” Sappho purred.
“I told you, it takes getting used to,” Ron said.
“A spaceship flirting?”
“Actually, the not flirting. I mean, hello, Ron Stoppable, chick magnet?” he asked plaintively. “There was a time she liked my ears.”
“After getting hit with a cosmic backlash, yeah,” Shego said, chuckling.
“Not to hurry things along here,” Monique said, “but if I know Mister Barkin - and unfortunately, I do - he's turning red right now waiting for us to take off.”
“She's right,” Kim said. “Gemini needs to be stopped ASAP.”
“Then let's go kick some tail, shall we?” Shego said. “Come on, I've got a ship to pilot.”
Sappho made what could only be described as a 'happy sigh'.
Colonel Barkin, and the others with him, wasn't the only one who observed their takeoff with keen interest. “They're -” someone began to say.
Then he carefully looked at the ground beneath him and tested it gingerly with a foot. “On their way,” he finished saying into his transmitter.
Nothing happened, and Kappa breathed a sigh of relief.
To be continued…