The Silence

Chapter 13

War is Peace


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TITLE: War is Peace

AUTHOR: beeftony

DISCLAIMER: Kim Possible, Ron Stoppable, and all related characters are the property of the Disney Company. I own this work of fiction. I make no profit from this.

SUMMARY: Shego helps Kim to solve a murder case, but they soon find themselves attracted to each other. They try to hold on to their relationship, but forces far greater than themselves conspire to tear them apart.

TYPE: Kim/Shego

RATING: US: R / DE: 16

Note: White Flag is performed by Dido. Well, here it is; another mega-chapter. I worked long and hard on this one, and trying to tie up almost all of the loose plot threads took quite a bit of space. I’ve officially broken 50,000 words with this, a mark of achievement for any author. If I continue at this rate, this story could very well pass 60,000 words, maybe even 70,000. But that last one seems unlikely. The story will be as long as it needs to be. Only two more chapters and an epilogue left to write and then I can finally put this monster to rest. Those of you who have read 1984 will recognize the title as one of the three party statements from that book. I just thought it fit, same with the quote. Enjoy.

Words: 11388

If you want to imagine the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever. -George Orwell, 1984

Silence. Absolute silence. That was all she could hear. Cold, dead silence. It was not a peaceful silence. It was eerie how absolutely quiet it was. She could hear nothing, save for the sound of her own breathing. Her ears could clearly pick up the sound of what were no doubt rats scuttling in the air ducts, searching in vain for a way out of the labyrinth. But there was no escape. Not for her. She was trapped in her own thoughts, refusing to open her eyes for fear that it might reveal yet another horror. The creepy stillness of the air around her made her thoughts audible, overwhelming her brain with a cacophony of confused mental stimuli. Rather than calm her down, the silence robbed her of all distractions and forced her to think; really think. It was not something she liked doing much these days.

Kim opened her eyes to see that she was in a standard GJ prison cell. The room was completely white, a Plexiglas separator forming one of the walls, eggshell-colored pads covering the rest. It was designed to give her peace, but again it only encouraged her panicked thoughts, driving her mad with its blankness and lack of identity. She looked down to see that the color of her garments perfectly matched that of the walls. A plain, white cell engulfed in silence. Kim could literally hear herself think. They were not happy thoughts. She vividly remembered the previous night’s events, and trying to force them out of her brain only granted the memories even more lucidity. Many were too sickening to describe, while others were just too painful to even think about. She rubbed her temples, but this only seemed to burrow the images deeper into her mind.

She couldn’t figure it out. Why her? What use could she possibly have been? Why keep her locked up when she had done nothing wrong? Who perceived her as so much of a threat that they would be willing to imprison her? Had GJ been infiltrated by one of her enemies? Who gave the order to have her captured? Why? What had she done? It made no sense.

What did this have to do with Shego? Had the green woman been luring her into a trap? Why would she go to such elaborate lengths to do so? Or had she been the one luring Shego into the trap? Who would use her for such a purpose? What sort of demented person would manipulate her into doing such a thing to the woman she now loved? Was her falling in love with Shego all part of the plan too? It made no sense.

If falling in love with Shego was all part of the plan, then did that plan also involve Ron’s death? Had Shego been framed? Was this all some sort of elaborate plot to get them together only to tear them apart again? Or had their getting together upset the twisted plan and that was why she was now imprisoned? It made no sense.

What the hell did The Reaper have to do with any of this? Why did it have to be Will Du? If it had been anybody else, she would not have been surprised, but why him? Who gave him the order to kill? It was not his style, and yet he carried out this grim task as though he had been performing it his entire life. How did he hide it so well? Did he have split personalities or something? It made no sense.

The more she thought about it, the less it made sense. The more she sought the answers, the more questions popped up. Her head was racing a million miles per hour trying to find the truth, only to find herself even more confused. Who would answer her? Who would explain the sitch to her so that everything would make sense again?

That question was soon answered when the door on the opposite end of the hall buzzed and Dr. Director stepped through, trailed closely by Will Du and several GJ agents. Suddenly it made sense. Why Shego was so apprehensive around this woman. Why she had saved Kim from herself. Why Dr. Director had told Shego, “It’s good to see you again.” She was behind it all! But how? For what purpose? Just like when any other new detail was introduced in this investigation, it all made sense for a moment until too much thinking made it lose its clarity.

She noticed that Dr. Director and those around her were not wearing their usual garments. Instead they were wearing skintight jumpsuits that Kim sworn she’d seen before. She couldn’t quite place it at the moment, though. One of the guards held down the button that activated a two way speaker system into Kim’s cell so that she could communicate. The first sound she heard that morning besides her heart and breathing was Dr. Director’s voice. It was short and to the point, with overtones of dispassion. The one thing that unnerved Kim the most about Betty Director was her ability to not care.

“Hello Kimberly,” the Head of GJ spoke in the most businesslike of tones. Kim’s face tightened as she walked over to the wall and put her face as close to Dr. Director as the Plexiglas would allow.

“You…” she growled. “You were the one behind all of this!”

Dr. Director lifted one of the corners of her mouth in a barely noticeable smirk. “Quite correct, Kimberly. I always knew you were smart. It’s a pity you didn’t figure it out sooner. May I ask how you arrived at that conclusion?”

Kim pointed to Will Du, who stood at attention on Dr. Director’s left. “Well, having bowl-cut here try and gut me with a scythe was a dead giveaway,” she remarked, eliciting a scowl from Du. “But the signs were there the whole time. The way you reacted to Shego was my first clue, but I decided to let it go because there might be a million reasons for you two to exchange a glare, seeing as she’s a wanted criminal in 12 countries. Then the way Shego kept obsessing about my new personality gave me my second hint, but I was too caught up in… other things to pay much attention to it at the time. And of course, let’s not forget that you’re standing here right now, visiting me in my cell for no apparent reason other than I constituted a threat to your precious scheme, whatever that is.”

Dr. Director raised her hands and engaged in a mocking round of applause. “Bravo, Kimberly, bravo. I don’t suppose you’ve figured the whole thing out yet, have you?”

Kim shook her head. “Just that you’re behind it.” Inside she wanted to strangle the woman who was separated from her by a thin sheet of Plexiglas, but it was important to her pride to remain calm and put on a front of confidence. If she gave in to her emotions at this point, Dr. Director would win. Kim was determined to beat her at her own game.

“Well, we’ll get to the exact details later,” the one-eyed woman replied, interlacing both her hands behind her back in her usual pose. “But for right now, I’m sure there’s a question you want to ask. Go ahead.”

“Why am I here?” Kim spoke up, allowing her superior officer to get the better of her once more. She cursed herself for giving into the temptation of obeying her captor, but she also needed to know. Besides, Dr. Director already knew what she was going to ask. Why not say it?

“You are the latest candidate in Operation SUPERSTAR. You were selected at birth and raised in a structured environment that has been monitored closely by Global Justice and overseen by myself.” Dr. Director recited this as if from memory.

“What’s Operation SUPERSTAR?” Kim interrupted. She had heard that name before. The way Shego had reacted to it worried her now as it had then. Whatever it was, it wasn’t good.

“Funny, Kimberly, I thought you’d have figured that out by now,” Dr. Director said in a tone that, if it had come from any other person, would have seemed warm and friendly. But somehow she was able to twist it and inject it with an air of mockery. “It is of course a super-soldier program. One that has met with little success over the years, but we have gotten closer to our goal each time. And thanks to you, we’ve reached it.”

“What do you mean?” Kim’s voice betrayed the fact that her mind already knew what Dr. Director was going to say, but still tried to deny it. She squinted her eyes, trying to solve the increasingly complex puzzle that her captor insisted was so blatantly obvious.

“To fully understand my answer, we must start at the beginning,” Dr. Director replied in an emotionless voice, as though she was merely giving a history lesson to a bunch of students. She paused for a moment, then looked straight at Kim with her exposed eye. “Shego.”

Kim scowled. “What have you done with her?”

Dr. Director smirked. “You’ll find out soon enough.”

Kim crossed her arms over her chest and leaned ever so slightly to the left. “So what does she have to do with this?”

“Shego and her brothers were the original candidates for Operation SUPERSTAR. The Operation was named after the comet that gave them their powers. We took them in, gave them a place to live and helped them to master their powers in the hopes that one day they would prove to be valuable assets for Global Justice. We were wrong.” She paused for effect.

Kim squinted her eyes and tilted her head to the side, trying to figure out what her captor was going to say next. All the pieces were finally coming together. Her heart began to speed up just enough to show that inside she was excited to hear the truth, but at the same time terrified. After what happened to Shego’s brothers, she couldn’t help but wonder if the same fate awaited Shego… and her.

“Team Go proved too powerful to control. Shego insisted they separate themselves from the superhero life, and she was the first to do so. We let her go, thinking that four was still enough. Again, we were wrong.”

Kim focused her gaze on the form-fitting suit that Dr. Director was wearing. It seemed so familiar and yet… so different. “So where do I come in?” she asked.

“After Team Go was disbanded, we turned our sights elsewhere. We scoured hospital records, searching tirelessly for a suitable subject. After months of looking, we found one. A girl born Kimberly Anne Possible. We vowed… Ivowed not to repeat the same mistakes we made last time.”

“Aside from the obvious gigantic fuck up of trying to control Shego, what mistakes?” Kim remarked snidely, her tone carrying a remarkable similarity to that of Shego.

Dr. Director smiled and let out a soft chuckle. This was too easy. “Team Go knew about the Operation. We thought that by raising them from childhood, we could earn their trust. For the males, we succeeded. But Shego proved… difficult. She had seen our agents murder her parents in their sleep.” She let out an amused snicker. “She was going up to her parents’ room because she had a nightmare. What she found was much worse than anything she ever could have dreamed. That’s why she didn’t trust us.”

Kim’s eyes widened and her pupils were filled with rage. She furrowed her brow and asked incredulously, “Why?”

“Her parents wanted to teach them how to use their powers ‘responsibly,’” She punctuated this with air quotes and rolled her eyes. “Rubbish. What good are powers like that if you’re not even going to use them? No. Powers like that are not to be wasted on the individual. They must benefit mankind as a whole. Since her parents were not willing to do so, we took appropriate action and trained them ourselves.” She looked to the side and muttered under her breath, “It would have been perfect but for the fact that they had minds of their own.”

“But you killed them!” Kim screeched. This was way beyond simple manipulation. This was sick and wrong. What scared her the most was that Dr. Director spoke of this as though it was just another useless piece of trivia. She didn’t even care.

“I did what I felt was necessary,” Dr. Director replied in a suddenly hostile tone that managed to remain callous. “People in this world are either useful or dead weight.” She injected those last two words with extra force to emphasize how little she thought of such people. “Either someone is helpful or they are in the way. When a door stands between you and the other room, do you not open it? Whenever an object blocks your path, do you not make some attempt to move it? Whenever something or someone stands in the way of true justice, they either join the cause or get the hell out of the way. If they do neither, then the armored tank that is justice will not yield to an insignificant Chinaman. Anyone who stands in our way will be destroyed!” She filled that last word with extra menace, gritting her teeth and firing her words at Kim like bullets.

Those last two sentences brought an image to Kim’s mind. It was an image that was supposed to represent freedom; the power of the individual. It was an image of a lone man standing in front of a tank, refusing to move. Few people dared to recall what else had happened at Tiedemann Square. Despite the fact that millions of people around the world were watching, the Chinese Army had poured over the barricades, taking some of the college students prisoner and massacring the rest. The lone man was nothing. The slaughtered protesters were nothing. Government controlled all. Freedom was dead.

And now Dr. Director had assumed the role of the Chinese tank, and she was barreling down on Kim. But the redhead would not yield. She could not. She had to remain steadfast. This woman was not talking about justice. She was talking about control. Kim would not let herself be controlled. She needed to be strong. “So where do I come in?” she growled through gritted teeth.

“After the ‘gigantic fuck-up,’ as you put it, we were determined not to repeat the same mistakes. So we decided to train you without you even knowing about it.”

Kim’s eyes opened in surprise. “Huh?”

“Did you ever notice how none of the villains you faced used guns? How their plans were so easy to foil? How their deathtraps were so easy to escape? Why Dr. Drakken, Professor Dementor, Duff Killigan, Motor Ed, Monkeyfist, DNAmy and the Seniors are all listed in the GJ Personnel Database?”

“What?!” Kim shrieked.

“It was all one giant training mission,” Dr. Director continued. “No true villain would have ever behaved like those overgrown toddlers. You wouldn’t last a second against some of the enemies I’ve faced. So we gave you a controlled environment in which you could develop your skills blissfully unaware of the destiny that awaited you. Now the time to fulfill that destiny has come and I will not let anything stop me this time. Especially not some failed experiment who thinks she can fall in love.” She said “love” as though it was a swear word.

“Was Shego part of the ‘training mission?’” Kim asked, punctuating the last two words with air quotes.

Dr. Director smiled. “No, that was unexpected. We decided to allow it since we figured that without a true challenge you would wise up to the façade sooner or later. I must say, though, this latest ‘development,’” She said that last word with a mock chuckle. “was quite interesting. I never suspected you for a homosexual, Kimberly.”

Kim smirked and put one hand on her hip. “There’s a lot about me you don’t know.”

“On the contrary, Kimberly; I know everything about you.” She paused to let the effect of that sink in. “Everything.” The extra emphasis she put on that word caused a shiver to make its way down Kim’s spine. “You think we weren’t following you the whole time? You think I’m stupid enough not to keep tabs on Dr. Load when my best operative fails to report in? I know exactly where you were every second of every day since the minute you were born. I know everything that goes on inside that little red head of yours. And I don’t even have to work that hard to do it. You wear your heart on your sleeve, Kimberly. An illiterate child could read you like a book. I know what drives you, what motivates you. I know your likes, your dislikes. I know who you are, what makes you tick, and how to manipulate what you think. You’re nothing but a puppet, Kimberly, and I am pulling all the strings!” She gritted her teeth for that last part, leaning forward so that her face and Kim’s were separated only by a sheet of Plexiglas and a couple millimeters of air. Kim glared back with equal intensity.

Dr. Director backed up and her face resumed its normal stoic expression. “However,” she sighed as her eyes broke contact with Kim’s and traveled to the floor, “we were not expecting this. I failed to factor in just how similar you two were. It never occurred to me that the two of you might ‘fall in love.’” She said that last part with an air of mockery. “I may know how you operate, Kim,” she continued, finally calling the redhead by the name she preferred, her tone suddenly turning gentle, “but you still manage to surprise me. That’s what made you a great operative. You didn’t need to be taught to think on your feet. It came naturally. You remind me so much of myself when I was your age: idealistic, optimistic, humble, and so very, very naïve.” Her tone made the switch from compassionate to commanding without missing a beat. “You’ve been living in a dream world, Kimberly,” she quoted from a science fiction movie Kim had once seen with Ron. “It’s time to wake up.”

“I’m nothing like you,” Kim grimaced, pointing an accusing finger at her captor.

“Really?” Dr. Director countered. “You seemed to adopt a new personality rather quickly after Ronald’s death. Perhaps you don’t even have an identity. You look to other people to determine how to act. You can’t decide who you want to be so you choose to be whoever someone else decides you should be. You of all people know how easy it is to get caught up in peer pressure. You were the most popular girl at your high school, Kimberly. Are you telling me that you didn’t care what other people thought of you?”

Kim opened her mouth to speak, but Dr. Director continued before she had the chance to interrupt.

“Like it or not, the people we surround ourselves with define who we are. You are like clay, Kimberly. Whenever you get close to someone, your personality begins to reflect theirs. Not a full reflection, mind you, but certain traits carry over. That is why you are acting so much like Shego right now.”

“Leave her out of this!” Kim bellowed, causing everyone but Dr. Director to take a step back. Even the usually stoic Will Du was surprised by Kim’s sudden change in volume. Dr. Director, however, simply smirked and let out a soft chuckle.

“You don’t believe me? Let us take a look back to your high school days, when you were with Ronald. You have described him many times as your ‘safety net.’ He was always there for you when you needed it. A true friend.” She said that last sentence almost mockingly as she broke eye contact with Kim. She quickly turned back and stared the redhead straight in her twin emerald orbs that now burned with unbridled fury. “But he was more than that, wasn’t he? You loved him. You two completed each other so well. Are you trying to tell me that didn’t have some effect on your personality?”

Kim looked down, away from the judgmental eye and searched her very soul for an answer. She raised her head and revealed a face that betrayed her thoughts. She finally realized what Dr. Director was talking about. She did not have to share it, for everyone in the room knew what she was about to say. As much as she hated Dr. Director for doing this to her, she could not deny that she had always looked up to this woman. She was so intelligent! Only Shego was so insightful. For some reason that she could not fathom, Kim opened her mouth and formed a reply. Her voice was calm and measured, while still showing emotion. It was the tone one uses when they realize what they have been hiding from themselves all along.

“Whenever I was with him, it was like I suddenly stopped caring what the world thought of me. I mean, I still got caught up in all the petty things, but… he made me realize that other people don’t define who I am. I do. He showed me that it doesn’t matter what other people think of me. All that matters is what I think of myself.” Dr. Director moved her hand to her chin as Kim spoke, no doubt formulating her rebuttal. Kim decided to continue anyway. “So yes, maybe that part of him rubbed off on me, but since when is that bad? It’s the reason I still love him, even though he’s dead. And you’ll never take that away!”

The one-eyed woman on the other side of the Plexiglas merely smiled. “Oh, but I already have.”

Kim looked puzzled. “What?”

“You of all people should know Shego doesn’t kill. She’s too morally conflicted to do that. She likes to pretend she’s ‘evil,’ but in truth she’s nothing more than a teenage rebel. She doesn’t begin to compare to all the truly evil people in this world. You know nothing of true evil.”

“I can think of a few evil people,” Kim retorted, her eyes indicating Dr. Director.

The one-eyed woman’s face suddenly changed to one of pure hatred. “You think you know the difference between good and evil? You’ve never had a gun pressed to your head. You don’t know what it’s like to have to sacrifice the life of one hostage to prevent the deaths of thousands of people. You only see in terms of black and white. You think you have it hard because you lost the love of your life? I’ve buried three husbands! And I loved each one more than the last! You have no idea what it is to suffer!”

“Bullshit!” Kim roared back. “I died that day!”

“No,” Dr. Director corrected her, “you didn’t. Ron did. You lived. And so did Shego.”

“But you just said Shego didn’t kill him!” Kim replied, thoroughly confused.

“Of course not! I did!” Dr. Director fired back.

The words shot straight through Kim’s heart like bullets. Her face went blank and her eyes widened in utter shock. She felt nothing for a moment. Then the pain she had experienced that day came flooding back as she remembered what she had done to Shego after she found Ron lying on the floor.

Kim kicked the green woman square in the ribs, shattering her rib cage and knocking the wind right out of her. She then straddled Shego and began beating her face in, not caring that her knuckles were bleeding. She needed vengeance. She desired nothing more than to kill the woman who had taken away her world. But something stopped her.

It was a hand on her shoulder. She turned up to find a woman with short brown hair and an eye patch. “Dr. Director?” she asked with a tear-choked voice, forgetting for a moment about the unconscious villainess whose face was no longer recognizable.

“Let it go, Kimberly,” the Head of GJ insisted.

“NO!” Kim shouted in response, tears streaming down her cheeks. “No, I won’t! He’s gone! Ron’s gone! She killed him!”

Dr. Director’s face suddenly turned compassionate as she knelt down next to the broken redhead. “I know. I saw. But this is not the way to do it. Justice is not the same thing as revenge. If you kill her, what then? Destroying her won’t bring Ron back.”

“But it will make me feel better!” Kim protested.

“No it won’t. It will only bring you temporary satisfaction. After that all you will feel is emptiness. She wants you to kill her. If you kill her, she wins. Don’t let her win.”

“Well then what the hell am I supposed to do?” Kim choked as she stood up, ignoring Shego’s battered body that lay on the cold stone floor. “Ron was my life! She took everything!”

“Become stronger than her!” Dr. Director urged, her tone resembling that of a motivational speaker. “Keep on living and show her that nothing she can do will break you down! Show her that even though she took him away, she hasn’t taken away the love you felt for him! This life is nothing! He’s in a better place now, Kim, and killing her isn’t going to bring him back. I’m sure he’d want you to move on with your life.”

“But it hurts so much!” Kim sobbed as she ran into the older woman’s arms.

Dr. Director held the sobbing woman in her arms, a demented smile crossing her face. All was going according to plan.

The memory disappeared in a flash and Kim found herself back in the cell. “You used me,” she realized. “You filled me with false promises so that you could twist me into whatever you wanted. YOU’RE THE REASON MY LIFE HAS GONE TO HELL!” She cocked her fist back and drove it right into the Plexiglas. If the barrier had not been there, the punch would have hit Dr. Director square in the face.

Kim hit the Plexiglas so hard she bloodied her hand, but she didn’t seem to feel the pain. All she felt was rage. Raw, unbridled fury that caused the blood running through her veins to boil and her teeth to grind together so hard they nearly cracked. Her emerald eyes burned with a fire like never before. The expression on her face was one of pure hate. Her breaths came at irregular intervals, the anger causing her lungs to burn like everything else. The shallow, infuriated intakes of air resembled those of a bull about to charge. And she would have charged but for the transparent obstacle that stood between her and the woman she wanted to strangle. She settled for letting out a cry of pure anger as she smashed her hand against the Plexiglas yet again. The guards made ready to move in and subdue her, but Dr. Director simply raised her hand ordering them to stand down. Let the little girl throw her temper tantrum.

As she nearly broke her hands against the Plexiglas, Kim convinced herself that she really was hitting Dr. Director. All the repressed anger and emotions came to the surface as the tears ran from the corners of her eyes down her cheeks and her hands continued to pound the impassible barrier. She spoke no words, but her screams could be heard even through the soundproofed Plexiglas. They were screams of anger, screams of passion. She was not behaving rationally, but then rationality was the one thing she did not want right now. She howled like an animal, concentrating all her fury on that one spot. She was so angry. Angry that Ron had been taken away from her by the woman whom she had trusted, the same woman who had now captured her and was telling her she had no right to choose. Dr. Director may have been able to defeat her by arguing, but she could not stop Kim’s display of fury.

Eventually the blows weakened and Kim fell to her knees, completely drained. She sobbed softly and let her arms fall to her sides in defeat. She lowered her head and let the tears flow down her face, hiccups causing her to gasp intermittently. Dr. Director gazed at her dispassionately, striking a sharp contrast with the redhead by displaying no emotion at all. Kim lifted her tear-filled eyes to face her captor. “Why?” she asked quietly.

“Ron was holding you back,” Dr. Director answered coldly. “He distracted you from your true destiny. You were chosen to be the ultimate agent of justice. There would be none who could challenge you. You would have been invincible, Kimberly. And you still can be.”

“But I loved him!” Kim interrupted, standing to her feet with a renewed sense of anger.

“Agents of justice do not love!” Dr. Director snapped. “We did not help you to become unstoppable just so you could throw it all away on some nonconformist! Do you think a multi-billionaire would be stupid enough to trap himself in his own laser security system? Of course not! Mr. Paisley was one of our agents, and he performed his job flawlessly! You, on the other hand, accidentally touched one of the fake beams! If they had been real, you would have been vaporized! Who do you think gave Dr. Load his first computer? Global Justice! Who made sure you weren’t killed on your missions? Global Justice! Who taught you everything you know? Me, Betty Director, Head of Global Justice! Your life does not belong to you, it belongs to Global Justice! And you have no right to choose who you can or cannot love! I decide what happens to you, not you! There is a price to pay for everything you have gained!”

Kim lowered her head, saline droplets still cascading down her cheeks. “I never asked for any of that,” she whispered.

“But you accepted it,” Dr. Director countered. “You loved being able to ‘do anything.’ It was Global Justice who made it possible. Your natural athleticism was of course an asset, but against a bullet you wouldn’t stand a chance. We let you have your little fantasy world. We let you mature in the ways of crime-fighting. But all good things must come to an end, Kimberly, this is a fact of life. Ron died so that you could move forward. He sacrificed his life in order that you might become even better. You did not truly love him. You used him as an excuse to hold yourself back. He started out as a safety net, but he soon turned into a crutch. You were too reliant on him. He was always the distraction, and you became distracted. You would never have been able to undergo the training if he was there to distract you. He had to be eliminated.”

“No he didn’t!” Kim protested, screaming at the top of her lungs. “You want to know the real reason I could do anything? It was because of Ron! He made me believe in myself! You may have set up that first mission, but Ron’s the one who convinced me to do it! I would never have even gotten into the saving-the-world business if it wasn’t for Ron! He wasn’t just a distraction, he was the man I loved! When he died, my heart died with him! You had no right to take away the one person in this world that gave me hope!”

“So you really loved him, then?” Dr. Director replied. Kim nodded. The one-eyed woman smiled evilly. “Then explain why you were so willing to give up his memory to pursue Shego. You seemed to let go of him awfully fast.”

“That’s bullshit!” Kim retorted. “I waited six years!”

“So you ‘waited’ for six years, is that correct? Was that out of respect for the dead? Were you just waiting until enough time had passed so you could go fuck a woman and not feel guilty about it?”

“That’s not what I said!” Kim’s throat was becoming raw from all this shouting. Her voice was hoarse and raspy. “You’re twisting my words!”

“Of course I am. What do you expect me to do?” Dr. Director countered. “You still hold onto all those ideals and thoughts of individuality, and it’s my job to teach you to think like a machine. I’m not trying to solve your personal problems, Kimberly. I’m trying to assimilate you. The way you think right now is of no use to GJ. But we have broken you before and we can do it again.” She leaned in closer, so that her face was mere inches from Kim’s, separated only by the Plexiglas partition. “And don’t believe we can’t.”

Kim glared back at the woman who had taken everything from her. Flames of hatred burned in her eyes. Her teeth ground against each other so hard that they threatened to crack. She realized this was a fight she could not win. No matter what she said, Dr. Director twisted her words and flung them back at Kim with a few words of her own. She realized this could not be all about convincing her to join an organization she had idolized since she was a child. They could have just offered her a job and she would have gladly accepted. No, this was different. Dr. Director had to be planning something evil. Otherwise she would never have gone to such great lengths to try and compromise Kim’s morals. “So now I suppose you’re going to tell me your master plan and try and convince me to join you. That’s how these things always go.”

“Quite right, Kimberly,” the Head of GJ confirmed. “I suppose you’ve noticed the new dress code around here,” she continued, indicating the skintight jumpsuit she now wore. It was navy blue, with glowing red stripes running in patterns that resembled that of computer circuitry. Suddenly Kim remembered where she had seen those patterns before. It had so much to do with Shego she was amazed that she hadn’t noticed it right away. Then again, that was a long time ago.

“You adapted my battle suit,” she realized.

“You are correct, Kimberly,” Dr. Director responded. “We actually have you to thank for this. After all, it was your field test that allowed us to improve it. Too bad you didn’t get to use it that much.”

“Well, I would have, but Professor Dementor sort of ruined it,” Kim remarked. “It kept malfunctioning after that.” Her voice was casual, the subject of evil plans providing an ample distraction from the heavy emotional topic they had just discussed. Kim welcomed the change in conversation. This was one area in which she knew the score. “So how does that help whatever you’re planning?”

“Oh, Kimberly, you’ve figured everything else out so far. It shouldn’t be that hard for you,” Dr. Director mocked. “After all, you can do anything.”

“Sorry, I got nothin’,” Kim riposted. “Your plans are too complicated for a simple little girl like me to understand.” Her voice oozed sarcasm.

“It’s really not that difficult to understand, Kimberly,” Dr. Director continued, ignoring Kim’s flippant remark. Just think. What is it I want?”

Kim’s face turned serious as she closed her eyes and concentrated. She found the answer she was looking for instantly. “Control.”

Dr. Director’s eye grew more intense in excitement. “Correct, Kimberly,” she congratulated her prisoner. “Imagine it. We outfit each agent with a battle suit and they become unstoppable. No more casualties! If you thought one battle suit was enough to stop a take-over-the-world scheme, imagine what thousands would do. There would be no more crime, for the criminals would fear the agents of justice rather than mock them as they have in the past! They have always had the edge because we used conventional standardized uniforms while they were not held back by bureaucracy and could create whatever super powered device they pleased. Now we have the lead and we plan to exploit it to stamp out crime forever! There will be no escape for those who run from justice. They can run, but there is nowhere they can hide!” Her usually stoic mood had been replaced with that of megalomania and delusions of grandeur. She smiled wickedly as she described her perfect world.

“But you don’t just want to stop crime, do you?” Kim interjected, finally thinking critically. “You want to bring people under your control so that you can decide what crime is. You want to use force to control how they think. You want to take over the world!”

Dr. Director clapped her hands in mock applause. “Bravo, Kimberly, bravo. You figured that out quicker than I thought.”

“There's just one problem though,” Kim continued. “It won’t work.”

Dr. Director merely smirked. “Oh? And why is that?”

“Because you can lead a horse to water, but the horse has to decide whether or not to drink it. You can make people say anything, do anything, but you can’t make them believe it. People will always have a mind of their own, and nothing you do is going to change that. People will eventually find a way to overthrow you, and you’ll find out the hard way that people can think for themselves and don’t like being controlled. Then you’ll find that you’ve awakened a sleeping giant, and nothing you can do will save you from the day everyone finds out you’re nothing but an overconfident manipulator. What are you going to do when you find out all those agents that you thought you had control over suddenly figure out that you’ve been pumping them full of lies? Together, they’re stronger than you are. You can do whatever you want with me, but you’ll never enslave humanity!”

Dr. Director let out a chuckle. “You know who you remind me of?”

With a renewed sense of confidence after her freedom-of-thought speech, Kim crossed her arms smugly and asked, “Who?”

“Have you ever read 1984 by George Orwell?” Dr. Director inquired.

“I was on the honor roll,” Kim remarked. “How could I notread it?” She appeared to have changed gears quickly, almost completely forgetting about the emotional breakdown she’d had just moments before. But in truth she was rebuilding her shell and putting on a front. Inside, she still wanted to kill the woman standing on the other side of the Plexiglas, but maintaining a calm façade was a point of pride. She would not let the one-eyed woman break her.

“Still,” she admitted as she brought the index finger of her right hand to her chin and rested her elbow on her left forearm that still lay crossed on her chest, her eyes traveling to the floor. “It’s been a while.” She made eye contact with Dr. Director once more. “Care to refresh my memory?”

“Oh, I think you’d identify with the book very closely,” Dr. Director promised her. “Particularly with the character of Winston. You honestly believe that the people can make a difference, when it is the people who choose to enslave themselves.” Kim looked at her quizzically. “We’ll get to that later,” the one-eyed woman assured her. “But your ideals remind me so much of him. Do you know what happened to him?”

Kim shook her head. “Like I said, it’s been a while. Besides, I read that book senior year. I was a little distracted with Ron.” A sliver of emotion escaped through her façade as she spoke the name of her dead lover.

Dr. Director allowed a bemused smile to slip through her own fortress of dispassion. “Yes, yet another reason why he needed to be removed.” That last sentence elicited a scowl from Kim, who quickly reverted back to her stone face, determined not to let Betty Director in her head. “It’s too bad. You missed one of the greatest stories of the individual’s struggle against the collective. Winston was a revolutionary. He was displeased with the world around him. But he kept it hidden from everyone, convincing himself that he was fighting the war on his own, one thinking man against an entire society of like-minded drones. But then he found love. Someone to share his struggle with. Someone he could open up to, mentally, emotionally, and especially sexually.” Kim’s eyebrow perked up at that last word. Perhaps she should have paid more attention. “He thought that by finding love in a society that condemned any signs of affection other than love for your fellow man, he had achieved victory. But do you know what happened to him?”

“He died?” Kim guessed in a sardonic tone.

Dr. Director smiled. “In a way, yes. But physically, no. He lived. But he was a broken man when they were done with him. For you see he failed to realize that he was not fighting his war alone. There were other dissidents, and the society in which he lived was more than equipped to deal with such self-branded “revolutionaries.” His head was pumped full of ideals, just like yours, but ultimately the system won. Just like it will now. Oh, I must get you a copy of that book, Kimberly. You’re going to need something to pass the time.”

“So why are you bringing up high school Literature?” Kim asked, not quite following Dr. Director’s logic. “What’s the point you’re trying to make?”

“My point is that while we may not be able to control what people think,” She brought up her right hand from behind her back and tapped her index finger against her temple. “But we can control how they express what they think.”

Kim cocked her head to the side with a confused look on her face, her eyes squinting ever-so-slightly, trying to read Dr. Director’s mind. It had not dawned on her that the impossibility of that action was actually the one-eyed woman’s point.

“For you see, no one can know what is truly on the mind of another person,” Dr. Director continued “We only know what they tell us. And even that might not be the truth. For all we know, they could be lying and telling us what we want to hear. You think that such behavior will lead to revolution. If everyone acts like Winston, convincing themselves that they are one man fighting on behalf of the entire human race, then the leader will be overthrown, correct?”

Kim nodded.

Dr. Director smiled. “But you fail to realize that that’s exactly why there won’t be a revolution. Because if everyone is convinced that they are alone, there will be no way for them to unite. A solitary dissident is disposed of quickly and the example made by his death inspires other people to wish that they could be a martyr; to die for a cause. But this will only perpetuate the rule of the person in charge since the cycle repeats itself over and over again. One person is crushed by the party, and the entire population idolizes him, not realizing that they all see him the same way. For if they were to read each other’s thoughts they would know that they all had the same thing in mind: to lead the revolution. But if they are all leaders, then there can be no followers. Each one will try to lead the revolution on his own, and one by one the revolutionaries will be crushed.” She extended her arm in front of her and balled her hand into a fist as she drew her arm back to accentuate that last part.

“Everything you’ve ever been taught about one man making a difference was a lie,” she continued. “In the end, might makes right. You’ll never win, Kimberly. I am holding all the cards.”

“But people aren’t stupid! You think they won’t figure out what you’re doing and band together?” Kim protested, still refusing to accept Dr. Director’s twisted worldview.

“A person is not stupid,” Dr. Director corrected, “but people are dumb, ignorant panic-driven animals and you know it. It’s all about who controls the majority. You know the reason Adolf Hitler was able to rise to power?”

Kim shook her head.

“Even though he was a terrible military strategist and had bad foreign relations, the one thing Hitler could do better than anyone else was move a crowd. Read the words to his speeches and you’re not likely to be impressed. For words alone do not inspire. But if you watch him onstage, you will find yourself captivated, even if you don’t understand a word he’s saying. Despite everything he did, all the atrocities he committed, Adolf Hitler was smart enough to realize that if you tell people something often enough and persuasively enough they’ll begin to believe it. It’s called propaganda, Kimberly, and it’s yet another facet of Operation SUPERSTAR. If we can control the opinion of the masses, then we control the world. You can see it happening now with advertisements. How hard would it be to insert subliminal messages that influence people’s thought patterns? Not hard at all really, once we assimilate the United States Government.”

“Of course,” Kim moaned as she rolled her eyes. “Why is it every villain starts with the White House?”

“Because the President of the United States is the most powerful man in the world, Kimberly,” Dr. Director said in response to the rhetorical question. “And it also factors into the other part of our plan.”

“But that won’t work,” Kim argued. “Are people really going to listen to you if you forcibly take over the government?”

“Oh, Kimberly, you think too small,” Dr. Director chided. “There isn’t going to be any sort of coup. The President will still be the head of the country. But think of Global Justice as… the neck. We can turn the head any way we want.”

“And just how are you going to do that?” Kim challenged, her arrogance getting the better of her. “I highly doubt they’re just going to let you waltz in there and control the most powerful man in the world. I mean what are you gonna do? Declare a state of emergency and take over command? The man controls two branches of the military. I think he can handle National Security. And why are you telling me all this anyway?”

“Actually, that’s exactly what we’re going to do,” Dr. Director said in reply to Kim’s first question. “Naturally a normal enemy would be easily dealt with, but what if a situation were to arise that required GJ’s ‘unique services?’”

“What do you mean?” Kim spoke, even though she had a good sense of what the answer would be. “And you still haven’t told me why you’re telling me all this.”

“Think about it, Kimberly. Most of the world’s major villains are already on our payroll,” Dr. Director responded, still ignoring Kim’s second question. “We outfit them with each with a super suit, and soon they become too much of a threat for the U.S. government to handle, and so they call us in. Then we keep them at bay just enough to satisfy our control over the Capitol. Once we control the White House, we control all the Executive Agencies. FBI, CIA, NSA, FCC, the list goes on and on. We would have the world’s most powerful country at our disposal. And our dream will finally be realized.”

“Why are you telling me this?” Kim repeated with a low growl. “And what’s with the ‘we?’”

“The answer to both those questions is exactly the same,” Dr. Director replied. “I want you to join us. You still have a chance to redeem yourself. Let go of your silly ideals and ultimate power shall be ours! Together, we will rule the world!”

Instead of becoming angry, Kim just burst into laughter. She fell on her back and rolled around on the floor laughing hysterically, gripping her stomach. She seemed to be running the full gamut of emotions today.

“Is something funny, Kimberly?” Dr. Director asked, annoyed.

Kim stopped her laughing long enough to stand to her feet, only to double over again in uproarious laughter. “I’m sorry,” she breathed, “I’m just waiting for the part where you say you’re my father and we have to go crush those pesky rebels!” She was laughing so hard she almost forgot how to breathe, but it was worth it. After all this drama, it was nice to have something humorous to take her mind off of it. That she was able to crack a joke aimed at the woman who had imprisoned her was just icing on the cake.

Mark Twain once said, “Humanity has unquestionably one really effective weapon—laughter. Power, money, persuasion, supplication, persecution—these can lift at a colossal humbug—push it a little—weaken it a little, century by century; but only laughter can blow it to rags and atoms at a blast. Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.” And this was especially true at the moment. For all her tricks, Betty Director had no defense against humor. She took herself way too seriously. That was another reason she never liked Kim’s sidekick. His outlook on life was too bright for him to be manipulated. He had been the light in Kim’s life, one that Dr. Director had taken away with great pride. She could withstand anger, hatred, and appeals to pity, but mockery was Dr. Director’s Achilles heel. For laughter symbolized freedom. And freedom was exactly what she was trying to take away. The situation was quickly spiraling out of control. She had to stop the redhead from laughing.

“So, you think I’m funny, huh?” she said to interrupt the younger woman’s riotous laughter. Kim wiped a tear from her eye and nodded. “You know, Ronald always was quite the joker. I took pleasure in watching him die.” She injected that last word with extra menace, certain that it would cause the redhead to sober up and become angry, placing her right where Dr. Director wanted her. Instead, Kim only laughed harder.

“You think you’re different from any other villain I’ve defeated a million times before?” Kim gasped in between bursts of laughter. “You’re plagiarizing every major villain in history! You… you can’t be for real! This is some kind of joke, right? Am I on Candid Camera? Is the camera in your eye patch?” She put on a very goofy expression and waved right at the eye patch. “Hi mom! Hi Dad!” she said in a voice that sounded like she was losing her mind. And, in fact, she was. But she didn’t care. When anger didn’t work, when sex was unattainable, and when she was too proud to cry, laughter was Kim’s perfect release. She laughed like she hadn’t in years; long and loud, with youthful abandon. Dr. Director watched the younger woman rolling on the floor, mocking her. The one-eyed woman’s face tightened, her teeth grinding together so hard they threatened to crack. Eventually she’d had enough.

“SILENCE!” she yelled so loud that the sound waves actually penetrated the Plexiglas and reached Kim’s ears without the aid of the speaker system. Kim stopped laughing and immediately put on a straight face, pushing herself off the ground and facing Dr. Director in the eye once more. Fun time was over.

“I will not tolerate MY creation mocking me!” Dr. Director roared, losing all traces of subtlety and assaulting Kim with pure hatred. “You think you have freedom of choice? Your whole life was determined by me! I OWN YOU!” If Dr. Director’s breath could have traveled through the Plexiglas, Kim would have looked as though she was in a wind tunnel. Instead, the spit flying from the one-eyed woman’s mouth splattered against the transparent barrier, obscuring her from the younger woman’s view. The stone wall had broken down and revealed the beast within, struggling for control. The beast sought to claim Kim’s soul for itself, and it was not afraid to crush the redhead’s spirit to do it. Betty Director had been replaced by a monster. If she had not been so angry, Kim would have been truly afraid. Instead she stared straight into the maw of the beast with unparalleled intensity, refusing to yield under the relentless assault.

“Everything you’ve ever been taught about individuality is SHIT!” the monster continued, her arm sweeping horizontally in front of her to drive home her point. “The person in charge always wins! And I am in charge! You won’t be so full of ideals once we’re done with you! I will break you, and rebuild you in my own image! And this time, no fucking lesbian of a failed experiment IS GOING TO STOP ME!” She breathed heavily for the next few moments, trying to recapture all the air she had just wasted. Her lone eye seared into Kim. But the look on the redhead’s face was cold and unmoving. They had switched roles.

The look on Kim’s face changed suddenly. It was a rare expression. It was the face one makes when they’ve just had an epiphany. Her mouth hung half open, and her eyes were slightly squinted. It was as though the curtain concealing her life had been pulled back and the redhead was finally able to see clearly. All the fog that had obscured her vision up to this point faded away and Kim saw the situation for what it really was. She could see straight into Dr. Director’s soul. In that instant, all the pieces of the puzzle fit together. Why she had been locked up. Why Shego had been cursed with growing up under the watch of such a cruel woman. Why Ron was dead. It all made sense.

Dr. Director wasn’t just a manipulator. She didn’t just use people as a means to her own ends because she herself had no choice. No, Elizabeth Director was pure evil. All her life, Kim had been so sure of what evil was. After all, she was a champion of truth and justice. She fought what she saw as “evil,” never realizing that true evil was compelling her to do so. The villains she faced weren’t evil; they were simply misguided souls. They liked the process of taking over the world more than the end result. They were harmless. But the devil’s greatest trick was convincing the world he didn’t exist. And Dr. Director had been behind the scenes this whole time, orchestrating a grand scheme with which she could take over the world. She was not human. She was the devil of law enforcement. And she had to be stopped. Still, there was one thing she didn’t get.

“So what the hell does he have to do with all this?” Kim asked, indicating Will Du, who stood at attention by Dr. Director’s side, his expression never changing.

The rather abrupt change in conversation was nonetheless welcomed by Dr. Director, who silently cursed herself for losing her composure. She took in a deep breath and recomposed herself. She opened her mouth to speak once more in a flat, emotionless voice. She sounded as though she was lecturing a class full of high school students. “The Reaper functions as a recruiter of sorts. A false enemy that we can use to gain a person’s trust by saving their life. It’s how I got Shego to join.”

Kim’s eyes widened in realization. “That’s what the nightmare was about…” she thought aloud.

Dr. Director nodded. “Yes. Traumatic events usually stay with a subject for all their lives,” she affirmed, deliberately avoiding the use of the word “person.” “I’m curious, however, as to why Shego didn’t share this detail with you. Surely she must have known what was coming.”

“She probably didn’t think it was important,” Kim retorted. “Or maybe she hoped that you’d only take her. What have you done with her anyway?”

Dr. Director allowed a wicked smile to paint its way across her face. “That actually leads back to the main purpose of Operation SUPERSTAR,” she replied, pointing to her super suit. “She was still good for something after all she took and never repaid.” Her voice was callous as ever, but that last sentence contained just a hint of malice.

“What do you mean?” Kim asked, her facial muscles contracting and furrowing her brow.

“I mean, Kimberly, that The Reaper doesn’t carry that scythe around for no reason.”

Kim squinted for a moment, then her eyes shot open in horror. “You didn’t…”

“The Kafziel was made with materials found at the crater left by the comet,” Dr. Director explained, her lecture voice making a return “Whenever a member of Team Go is killed, that power has to go somewhere.” Her eye gleamed with a brilliance that looked as though it belonged on a psycho killer. “Guess where it goes.”

“The scythe…” Kim realized. Her body jolted when realization struck, but her mind still tried to deny it. It couldn’t be true…

“Correct, Kimberly,” Dr. Director congratulated the redhead who could barely focus in light of the cognitive dissonance that caused her mind to race at a million miles per hour trying to find another meaning for what the one-eyed woman had told her. It couldn’t be true! She was lying! Nobody was that evil!

“What use could you possibly have for that?” Kim growled, not sure if she really wanted to know, but at the same time, she needed to.

“It’s as simple as what I’m wearing,” Dr. Director answered. “Picture it, Kimberly. We infuse the super suits with the powers of Team Go, giving us even more power! We will be truly unstoppable!” The gleam in her eye resembled that of an axe murderer.

Kim’s eyes shot open even wider. The final piece of the puzzle had fallen into place. But her mind still scrambled for some sort of counter-information. Dr. Director had said Team Go. And Shego wasn’t a member of Team Go, right?

“Of course, specific powers would be allocated to specific types of agents to avoid making everyone convinced that they don’t need anybody else. After all, absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

“But you’re already corrupt,” Kim pointed out.

Dr. Director smiled. “Exactly. Which is why my suit can utilize all the powers.”

Kim gulped. “All of them?”

The one eyed woman said nothing and threw a punch, blue energy emanating around her fist, and put an enormous crack in the Plexiglas. Not enough to break it, but enough to make a point.

Kim tallied the death toll in her mind. ‘Hego…

Dr. Director glowed purple and shrunk to the size of an ant, then back to full size.

Kim closed her eyes and lowered her head in a moment of silence to honor the death of the one who had originally possessed that power. ‘Mego…

Dr. Director now glowed a bright red, and within seconds there were five exact copies of the Head of Global Justice.

A tear slid down Kim’s face. ‘Wegos…

The one-eyed woman recalled the copies of herself and lifted her hands in front of her face, her elbows bent at a 45 degree angle, fingers curled but not quite closed into a fist.

Please no,’ Kim thought.

Dr. Director’s hands lit up with green energy.

Kim’s heart skipped a beat and she fell to her knees. Her face was devoid of expression. She was in complete and utter shock. Her mind shut down and she merely sat there. A solitary tear made its way down her cheek. Her eyes seemed distant, staring straight ahead, but focusing on nothing. Nor was her gaze directed inwards. She was frozen.

Dr. Director smirked. Mission accomplished. “Your training begins tomorrow,” she informed the empty shell that remained of Kimberly Anne Possible before turning heel and marching out the door, her entourage close on her heels.

Kim sat in stunned silence for several minutes. Then, from nowhere, a song came to her mind. She didn’t know why she thought of it. All she knew was that she wanted to think about anything besides what just happened. It was a lot to take in, and she needed a distraction. The silence became her world once more, and she could hear the song, calling to her, beckoning her very soul.

It was a very sad song. Ron had never liked it, claiming that he didn’t want people to think he was gay, but the truth was that he broke down and cried at the sound of it. Just like Kim was doing now. The song served as her final message to Shego, who had been so cruelly snatched away by fate’s devious hand. It embodied her spirit, her pride, her refusal to give in. Even if she ended up dying for it, Kim had to remain strong. This was not for herself. This was for Shego. The imaginary intro finished playing in Kim’s head and the words began speaking directly to her soul.

I know you think that I shouldn't still love you
or tell you that
But if I didn't say it, well I'd still have felt it
Where's the sense in that?

Kim finally realized why Shego had been trying to push her away. It wasn’t just because she had so much self-doubt, but because she wanted to protect Kim from the demons of her past. One demon in particular. It seemed bitterly ironic to Kim that Shego’s attempts to liberate her from Dr. Director were the cause of both the beginning and attempted end of their relationship. But she had been too stubborn. Why couldn’t she see that Shego was only trying to help?

I promise I'm not trying to make your life harder
or return to where we were

The simple truth dawned on Kim. She was in love. And love had made her blind.

But I will go down with this ship
And I won't put my hands up and surrender
There will be no white flag above my door
I'm in love and always will be

There was no turning back now. It was all or nothing. She could not escape, but she could still rebel with her mind. If she gave in, Dr. Director would win. And Kim could not disgrace Shego’s memory like that. She had to remain strong. She had to endure whatever her Dr. Director threw at her. She had to do it—for Shego.

I know I left too much mess and
destruction to come back again
And I caused nothing but trouble
I understand if you can't talk to me again
And if you live by the rules of “it's over”
then I'm sure that that makes sense

I’m sorry, Shego,’ Kim communicated with her heart. She had failed her. Shego had been trying to set her free, but Kim in her trademark stubbornness had refused to accept it. She had tried to hold onto the relationship, but the harder she squeezed, the more it slipped through her fingers like sand. She wondered what Shego was thinking as she looked down on Kim from wherever she was now. Kim hoped it was heaven. Even though Shego had committed many crimes, she had made a real attempt to reform. She wondered if Shego would even still want to talk to her if she ever made it to heaven. But that was where Ron was, too.

But I will go down with this ship
And I won't put my hands up and surrender
There will be no white flag above my door
I'm in love and always will be

Kim found herself torn between two lovers. She did not want to choose. She decided to stay alive as long as possible to avoid having to make such a decision, but she knew it was inevitable. For the first time in her life, Kim resigned herself to her fate. She loved Ron and Shego equally, but in different ways. There was no way she could choose. She would not need to. They were both dead anyway.

And when we meet
which I'm sure we will
all that was there
will be there still
I'll let it pass
and hold my tongue
And you will think
that I've moved on

But what would happen when she died? How would she be able to confront two people whom she had essentially sentenced to their deaths with her mere presence? Kim resolved not to think of it, but the prospect of deciding who she loved more weighed heavy on her mind, and more importantly, her heart. She decided not to let it show. If Dr. Director wanted her to cooperate, she would. But she would not buy into anything. She would lull the one-eyed woman into thinking that she had accepted her dogma, but in her heart she would remain true to herself. It was perfect.

I will go down with this ship
And I won't put my hands up and surrender
There will be no white flag above my door
I'm in love and always will be

Kim would take whatever Dr. Director threw at her. She had to be strong. But sometimes being strong is so hard. Tears poured from the corners of her eyes and streamed down her face, occasional hiccups causing them to fly off, landing somewhere on the pure white floor and leaving a small puddle, then evaporated just as quickly. Kim cried harder than she ever had before in her life, the graveness of the situation finally dawning on her. This was it. This was her end.

I will go down with this ship
And I won't put my hands up and surrender
There will be no white flag above my door
I'm in love and always will be

Kim curled up into a ball on the floor and let the tears cascade sideways down her cheeks, running across her face down to the floor. The sobs shook her body. The song continued to play all around her, even though in reality there was nothing but silence. Mucus ebbed from her nose, and she brought her arm up over her face to wipe it away. She smeared it on her otherwise clean pants, ridding herself of any shreds of hope she had left. All she could do was await her “training.” The imaginary instruments faded and only the voice remained as the song that was not really playing came to a close.

I will go down with this ship
And I won't put my hands up and surrender
There will be no white flag above my door
I'm in love and always will be

For the first time in six years, Kim cried herself to sleep.

If there’s one thing writing this chapter has taught me, it’s that my mind never runs out of ideas. Seriously, I was looking to make this 6,000 words at the most, and now that figure is closer to 11,500. I’ll let my readers point out all the references, but I would like to thank Zokolov for giving me the “one giant training mission” idea. Check out his story, The Final Showdown. It’s a really great work of art. I extend my thanks to all who have read and reviewed this so far, and I assure you there is plenty more in store for you. I may even reach 70,000 words. You guys are the greatest. I’m going to start writing chapter 14 after the Fannies. I am presenting Best One-Shot, and I hope everyone likes what I threw together and submitted to Zaratan so that he could integrate it. This year’s awards are going to rock. Please read and review. No flames, please.


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