“So, what trap should we be looking out for here, guys?” Shego asked as she carefully opened the door and peered in to the purple room.
“There weren’t any traps when we were here last,” Mim answered.
“No traps?” Kim echoed.
Sheila answered this time. “No traps,” she confirmed. “We dodged, skipped, ducked and everything else we could think of, but we only succeeded in making ourselves look ridiculous.”
Shego was skeptical. “All right, if you guys say so,” she said hesitantly, glancing around constantly as she cautiously made her way into the room. The others followed suit and the purple door slammed shut behind them. With nowhere to go but forward, they all walked in that direction, taking in the layout and look of the room as they did so.
It was a small chamber and flat. The walls were a deep, rich purple and they had obviously reached the top of the spiral because the ground no longer sloped upward. There was a raised dais in the front of the room and in the middle of the platform sat a large, and empty, purple throne. Before the throne sat another stone column that was very much like the one they had seen down below, and it too had a thin crystal obelisk protruding from the center. The obelisk fascinated them all. It was almost alive with color as different shades of all the colors pulsed on and off all along its length with absolutely no discernable pattern.
“The amulet goes around the obelisk,” Mim told them, and they all looked at Shego who was still carrying it in her ankle pouch.
“It can’t be that easy, Nana Mim,” Shego protested. Mim shrugged, not knowing what else to tell her. Shego sighed and carefully stepped forward. Without warning, the brick she was stepping on slid down into the floor. “Shit,” she cursed, and leapt back into the group to avoid the trap she knew she had sprung. It turned out to be the worst thing she could have done, for had she stayed where she was, the net would have only captured her companions and not her. But since she had helpfully joined them, the net successfully captured them all and held them suspended from the ceiling.
“No trap, my left ass cheek,” Shego muttered, as six bodies squirmed around trying to find footing. “Speaking of which, unless that hand was one that changed my diapers, I would suggest that you remove it,” she announced, and the offending hand was moved quickly. “That’s better,” Shego stated. She tested the cords of the net and they seemed severable, but then again, this was the temple that that produced the silver washer of doom and the unmeltable wedding ring. She lit up and slashed at the webbing and the cords fell away, causing them to fall several feet to the floor. Kim, Mim and Sheila gracefully flipped themselves and landed on their feet. Ron also landed on his feet, although his technique was somewhat lacking. Shego was going to be damned if she was going to step on the floor again, so she used the netting to bypass the floor entirely and give herself enough momentum to land perfectly in front of the stone column.
She paused briefly, and after making sure she hadn’t triggered any other traps, she opened her ankle pouch and withdrew the amulet. She put it at the tip and it slid it down via the small obelisk shaped hole in its center. As soon as it had settled, the obelisk stopped flashing and instead turned solid white, sending out a brilliant flash that made all of them cover their eyes.
When the light had died down and they could open them again, they were shocked to discover that there was now a person dressed in purple sitting on the throne in front of them. Obviously female, she looked at them all with an interesting half-smile on her face, as though she had been expecting this, but this was not quite what she had been expecting. She continued to observe them, and after studying both sets of Goshens and Possibles, her smile grew wider, but she said nothing.
The silence irked Shego; she had far too many questions and complaints for this bozo to remain quiet long. “Are you in charge here?” she demanded. The figure nodded and smiled wider. “First of all, stop smiling,” Shego ordered. “It is pissing me off to no end.” The figure sobered, but a smile still played at her lips. “Okay,” Shego said, taking a deep breath. “Who the hell are you, why the hell are you here, how in the hell does a small metal disc stop the destruction of the world and why the fuck did you send a comet after me and my brothers?”
“I owe you no answers, Green,” the figure replied, and Shego’s face darkened. The others waited for the inevitable explosion, but she continued before Shego had the chance. “But since you have returned the dampener to its rightful place, I will give you some of the explanation you seek.”
“What is this place?” Kim asked unexpectedly as she came forward to stand beside Shego.
“In the simplest terms, it is a power plant,” the figure replied and pointed to the obelisk. “That crystal generated all the power needed for my people.”
“Who are your people?” Shego asked, calming down now that whoever she was had started talking.
“We are not from here,” she admitted.
“Doy,” Shego muttered under breath. Kim poked her.
“We came to this world many thousands of years ago,” the being said. “Man was a primitive people then, and we thought it best to separate ourselves from them. We hid our civilization deep in this jungle and kept to ourselves. We were discovered from time to time, but few lived to tell the tale and the existence of this place faded into legend.”
“What happened?” Kim asked. “You seem to be the only one here now, and you keep talking in past tense.”
“Keen observation, Pink,” the being congratulated her. “You are a worthy successor to Red.”
“Um, thanks, I guess,” Kim said haltingly, and Shego grinned beside her. “I wouldn’t start calling me ‘Pink,’ Junior,” Kim warned her quietly. Shego said nothing but didn’t exactly stop smiling wickedly either.
“You’re welcome,” the being amiably replied. “But to answer your question, we found a new, unpopulated plane and we moved on.”
“Then why are you still here?” Shego countered.
“To protect the crystal if the humans should ever discover it. I built the spire around it, along with the traps, so that even if a human should try to enter they would be unlikely to reach the top,” the being explained. “It worked very well for a very long time, but eventually two humans found their way around my traps.” She glanced toward the back to where Mim and Sheila stood.
“Yeah, they rock,” Kim agreed absentmindedly. She paused a moment, her brow furrowed in thought, and Shego could practically see the wheels spinning. “I don’t think you are here to protect the crystal from the humans; it makes no sense. Humans would not know how to use it, even if they managed to steal it,” Kim stated practically. “And even if they stole it, so what? Your people are no longer here and they no longer need it for power. And they apparently still don’t need it wherever they went to because they have never come back for it. I think all of this, the temple, the traps, you, are all here to protect humans from the crystal.”
Mim smiled. “That’s my girl,” she murmured proudly.
“Of course she solved it; she’s a Possible,” Sheila muttered back. “Annoyingly quick minds and superior reasoning skills are a family trait.”
“Junior can hold her own in the wit department,” Mim answered wryly. “Speaking of which, what is that girl up to now?” she asked, as Shego drew close to the obelisk and slid the amulet off of it. Immediately, it turned from white to the multicolored they had seen when they first walked in. Shego quirked an eyebrow, but remained still for few seconds as if trying to sense something. After a while, she nodded and then replaced the amulet. After the white flash, she stood for several seconds more before smirking, nodding and resuming her place beside Kim.
“Kimmie is right, and that’s why we had to bring the damn amulet back here,” she said matter-of-factly. “The energy in that stupid crystal thing is completely unstable without the ‘dampener’ as you called it, and I am sure the longer there is no dampener, the more unstable it becomes. Leave it off too long and the whole thing blows, and with what I could sense, that would probably be enough energy to wipe out half the planet.” She paused. “And that is why you sent the comet after me,” she realized. “This thing is indestructible,” she said, pointing at the amulet, “so you knew if you barbequed me, it would still be there for you to pluck off of my smoking corpse.”
“The comet was never meant for you, Green,” the being contradicted her. “It was meant for Red and Black.”
“Wow, that is such a comfort,” Shego said sarcastically. “So, you weren’t trying to kill me, you were trying to kill two of the women I love most in the world. Women, I might add, that had already been dead for 3 years!”
“I was not aware of that they had passed into another plane,” the being admitted. “But the dampener had to be returned and nothing else had been successful.”
“You tried to kill them before?” Kim asked.
“Once every twelve years, I made an attempt to get the dampener back. All attempts were unsuccessful, so after seven cycles, I decided to do something catastrophic, because at the end of eight cycles the crystal would fracture,” the being replied.
Shego snorted. “They were too good for you. You couldn’t beat them so you decided to kill them, but you actually got me instead. And you couldn’t kill me either.”
“How did Shego survive?” Kim asked.
“The dampener exists to dampen and alter energy. That does not change, even when it is away from here,” their host explained. “When the comet struck, the dampener was able to reduce and modify the comet's energy so that their young bodies could not only survive it, but actually absorb and utilize it. I did not foresee that the combination would have such an effect,” she concluded with an ironic smile.
Shego grinned, happy that in her own small way, she had screwed up the alien’s plans. “Yeah, I bet you didn’t,” she chuckled, loving the irony.
“So what happens now?” Kim asked. “The dampener is back where it needs to be. Does that make everything cool? The world isn’t going to blow up on us?”
“Everything will be fine as long the dampener remains in place,” the being confirmed. “After it was taken the last time, I made some modifications to the building and the traps in order to improve security.”
“Yeah, modifications that we just breached,” Shego pointed out. “And if we can do it, others can too and we are up shit creek again.” She turned to the being. “There is no way to get rid of this thing?” she asked.
“Not that we have been able to delineate,” the being replied.
A plan was forming in Shego’s mind, and she had more questions. “How long have you been stuck here watching this thing?” she asked.
“Over 50,000 years,” was the reply.
“Could you go join your people if it wasn’t dangerous?” was the next question.
“I can see no reason why not,” the being replied. “But why?”
“Because I think that having something like this that can blow up the planet I am living on is bullshit,” Shego stated. “I think that you being here, having to watch this something for 50,000 years is bullshit, and I think that whoever discovered this crap-ass source of power and decided to use it without having a plan to get rid of it or at least defuse it is one of the stupidest fucks that I have ever heard of. So, to sum up, I am going to defuse the damn thing.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Shego,” Kim protested. “An advanced alien race that can bring people back from the dead can’t think of a way to get rid of it. What are you supposed to do?”
“They are an advanced alien race who built a power source they could not get rid of, tried to kill already dead people, gave superpowers to the person they were trying to kill, and put the fate of a world into a little metal disc,” Shego pointed out. “Forgive me if I don’t put much stock into their intellect. Here,” she said, taking off her glove, pulling off Sheila’s ring and tossing it to Kim. “Keep this for me. I would be really pissed off if anything to happened to it.” Kim caught it, and satisfied that it was in good hands, Shego turned to the obelisk. She took off the amulet, put it back on its chain, put both chain and amulet around her neck and grasped the obelisk.
“That’s my girl,” Sheila said proudly.
“Of course she is; she’s a Goshen,” Mim replied, rolling her eyes, and echoing Sheila’s earlier words. “Reckless, brash and foolhardy, but always successful and generally having humanity’s best interests in mind.” Sheila smiled sheepishly at Mim and together they, along with Kim and Ron, watched as Shego attempted to absorb an earth-shattering amount of energy.
For a few minutes nothing happened. Shego made her powers work by taking in energy, and so at first it was not any different than a good soak in the sun. As her reserves topped off though, she knew that she would have to expend some energy or she could short circuit herself. She lit up her free hand, careful not to ignite the one holding the obelisk lest she give some the energy was trying to bleed away from it back to it.
After a few minutes of this, it became apparent to Shego that, while it was working, it would take years to drain the crystal this way. She needed to expend a lot more energy and she needed to do it for an extended period of time. She sighed. “I can’t believe some of the shit I get myself into,” she thought, but then as she glanced up, she spotted Kimmie. Suddenly, it all made sense. She closed her eyes and concentrated, making not only her hand light up with plasma, but forcing the rest of her body follow suit so that after a few moments, everything but the hand grasping the obelisk was alight with green plasma. It took an inordinate amount of energy and concentration to completely light herself up like this, which is why she only did it rarely and only for a few moments. But with the crystal supplying her with energy as fast as she was expending it, she sustained it, hoping that she could mentally keep up her concentration until the crystal’s energy had dropped to a safe level.
Kim fidgeted as she watched from a safe distance. She did not like feeling helpless and she felt that way now. Shego was on her own; with all of the energy she was expending, there was no way anyone would be able to get close enough to touch or help her because she was completely lit up in green flame. And, in spite of her discomfort in being left out of the situation, Kim could not help but be mesmerized by her. “She’s beautiful,” she thought, and then blushed, realizing the wrong thought had crossed her mind. “The flame is beautiful,” she hastily corrected herself.
“Mim-jay is blushing and looking at Junior,” Sheila mentioned to Mim. “And they have been wearing our wedding rings ever since they received them. Should we be concerned for their future or proud they are following in our footsteps?”
“I think you are putting the cart before the horse, dear; they are barely friends,” Mim scoffed.
“So you keep insisting. And yet Junior, who cares so little for everything that she makes a statue look emotional, panics when Mim-jay is nowhere to be found and nearly has an emotional breakdown in front of everyone when she cannot resuscitate her,” Sheila countered.
“Granted, from her actions earlier, it would appear that Junior has feelings for Kimmie-Ann,” Mim allowed, purposely leaving out her own conversation with Shego lest it give Sheila more ammunition. “But it doesn’t mean that Kimmie-Ann has any feelings for Junior in return.”
“We shall see about that,” Sheila sniffed, and though she said nothing for the time being, Mim knew the battle was far from over. They continued to bicker about it as Shego continued her efforts on the crystal.
Shego determinedly kept discharging her plasma, but after two hours, she could feel her mental strength flagging and knew that she couldn’t keep up the energy discharge for very much longer. She slowly turned her plasma off, extinguishing every part of herself until all of the green flame had died out. She peeled her hand off the obelisk and sank into a sitting position on the ground, mentally and physically exhausted.
Kim was at her side in an instant. “Are you okay?” she asked, concerned at how Shego was slumped against the stone column.
“Never better, Princess,” Shego replied tiredly before the cranky smart mouth in her reared her sarcastic head. “It reminded me of being kicked into a transmission tower.”
“I already explained about that,” Kim muttered. “Do you have to keep bringing it up?”
“If it makes you uncomfortable, hell yes,” Shego stated with a tired grin. She looked up at the crystal. “Did I do any good at least?”
“I don’t know,” Kim answered honestly. “But the crystal is all white without the dampener around it.”
“Well, that’s something, I guess,” Shego said, slumping back against the column. “Where’s Barney? Maybe she can tell us.”
“Barney?” Kim questioned.
“You know purple, like that dinosaur guy,” Shego explained. Kim still looked confused. “Never mind.”
“I am right here, Green,” the being informed them.
“Help me up, Pumpkin,” Shego requested, and Kim did. Still a little weak from everything, Shego had no choice but to lean on Kim for support and it made Kim happy for reasons she couldn’t quite explain. “Is that thing okay now?” Shego asked. “Can it be left alone without the dampener and not blow up the Earth?”
“I hadn’t thought it possible, but yes,” the alien answered her. “You are a very determined human.”
“That’s diplomatic way of calling me a stubborn pain in the ass, but thanks,” Shego thanked her. “Can you leave now?”
“Yes, I could, but I do not think it is fair,” she replied.
“Why?” Kim asked incredulously. “You have been here, alone, for 50,000 years. How is that not fair?”
“If I leave this plane and join my people, Red and Black can no longer remain here. After you have given me my freedom, it does not seem right to take away theirs,” she replied somewhat sadly.
Mim and Sheila glanced between them and came forward. Mim, as per their usual, was the one to speak. “We thank you,” she began, “but we have been expecting for this entire episode that our returned life would not last past the end of the adventure. We vowed to enjoy it and the company of our young ladies while it lasted, but we had no illusions that we would remain alive. We know we are dead and we ought to be dead because this is not our time; we do not belong here and we do not want to try to belong here. So while we are touched that you considered us while making your decision, it is a sacrifice that is completely unnecessary.”
Kim and Shego’s faces fell at their proclamation. They were right of course; they did not belong here, and the reality of them coming to live in the modern world would have been legal, moral and all other kinds of chaos. But Shego loved having them back and Kim, though she had only known them a short time, had grown to love them as much as Shego did. Neither girl wanted them to leave, even though they knew that was how it had to be and how they figured it would be.
“Don’t be so melancholy, my dears,” Mim pleaded. “You will not lose us. Now that we know how to slip back here, we will come to visit you from time to time, we promise.”
“It is not the same,” Shego said petulantly.
“No, it isn’t,” Mim agreed, gathering her in for an embrace. “But it is the only way, and you know that, Junior.”
“Doesn’t mean I have to agree with it,” Shego mumbled into her shoulder while hugging her back.
“You agree with so little. Why should this be any different?” Mim teased her gently. Shego smiled sadly, hugged her for a moment longer and released her. Mim gently touched her cheek and then moved on to Kim.
“Ah, my Kimmie-Ann. It has been so nice to finally get to know you,” she said.
Kim hugged her hard. “I am so going to miss you, Aunt Mim,” she said.
“And I you, Kimmie-Ann. We are so much alike that it scares me, but I know you will do me proud,” she said fondly. “And pay no mind to Junior if you want to visit. The Mansion belongs to you as well as her and I expect you to call every now and again.”
“I will, Aunt Mim,” Kim promised.
Two very unhappy Goshens stared at one another for a long while, neither one really knowing what to say. Finally, it was Sheila that spoke. “Keep yourself out of trouble, Junior,” she advised Shego.
“I promise I won’t do anything that you wouldn’t do,” Shego replied, a small sad smile on her lips. They wanted to say more, but they couldn’t, so they left it at that and Sheila turned to Kim to say her goodbyes.
“Goodbye, Aunt Sheila,” Kim said, using the honorific for the first time and hoping that Sheila would not be offended.
Sheila was far from it, and she hugged Kim. “Good bye, Mim-jay. It is nice knowing that I have another splendid great-grandniece out there.” Kim beamed and Sheila smiled back.
All four of them turned their attention to the figure still seated on the throne. “Can I keep this now?” Shego asked, holding up what was once again an amulet.
“It is no longer needed here, so you may,” the being said.
“Thanks,” Shego said simply.
“It is I who should be thanking you,” the being replied, and slowly disappeared from view.
“Goodbye, my dears,” Mim called out as they too faded from view. “We will see all of you back in Middleton.”
“Bye, Aunt Mim, bye Aunt Sheila,” Kim called back.
“Stay out of my bathroom this time!” Shego ordered genially. An airy chuckle was her response.
“Now what, Princess?” Shego asked when living humans and a naked mole rat were the only beings remaining.
“We go back the way we came and try to make it out of here?” Kim replied. Shego grimaced. She really did not want to go through the traps again.
“Um, KP?” Ron cut in. “What is that door behind the throne for?” Kim and Shego looked where he was pointing and went to check it out.
“Stoppable, you are a genius,” came Shego’s unexpected praise as she opened the door and saw the stairwell to the outside.
As they were climbing down, Kim was struck with a sudden thought as she replayed the day’s events. “You didn’t do all of that so you could keep the amulet did you?” she asked.
“It might have been one of my motivations,” Shego admitted impishly. “It was a gift after all.”
Kim smiled and shook her head. “Speaking of gifts, this belongs to you,” she said, handing Shego her ring back.
“Thanks, Pumpkin,” she said as she replaced it on her right hand.
“I thought you didn’t want it,” Kim reminded her.
“I changed my mind,” Shego retorted. “Can we go home now?”
“Please and thank you,” Kim responded. Then she groaned. “But you are up on kidnapping charges and we need to tell them that Drakken is innocent for once.”
“Maybe you guys can drop me off in Mexico and I will catch up the you later?” Shego offered.
Kim shook her head. “No way, José,” she said. “We all got into this mess together and now we are all going to get out of it together.”
“That means you’ll be arrested for robbery; you know that right?” Shego pointed out.
Kim sighed. “Yes, but we’ll deal with that when the time comes. Right now, let’s just go home.”
Shego saluted “Whatever you say, Pink,” she shrugged.
Kim glared at her. “Don’t even start with that, Junior,” she warned. Shego grinned. Ron looked at them both.
“Come on, buddy,” he told Rufus as they boarded. “We are going to sit in the back so that when KP kills her, we won’t get any blood on our clothes.”