Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. - George Orwell, 1984
Shego was dead.
Kim could not believe it. After all that had happened, after all the progress they had made, after all the trouble they went through to secure their new relationship, Shego had met her end. Kim finally understood the true meaning of futility.
Shego was dead.
Nothing mattered anymore. Shego had been the final link to the days when Kim did not know such suffering. One by one, the people who reminded her of her past had been killed off. First Ron, now Shego. She convinced herself that she was cursed. Whenever she got too close to somebody, they died. No one was safe from her.
Shego was dead.
Kim was a monster. No matter how hard she tried to hold onto something, her mere presence drove it away. Kim had the opposite of the Midas Touch. Everything she touched died. Everyone she opened herself up to died. She was too dangerous. She didn’t deserve to live.
Shego was dead.
No! It wasn’t true! It couldn’t be! Dr. Director was lying! After all, that’s what she did, right? That bitch! She had to be holding Shego somewhere. She couldn’t give up hope! Not now, not ever!
Shego was dead.
Kim could deny it all she wanted, but she knew what she saw. She saw all the powers of Team Go perverted by Dr. Director, the woman whom she had once trusted, the same woman who had now taken everything from her. Still, her mind refused to accept the fact that the only woman she had ever truly loved was gone. Shego was still with her in her heart. There she would live forever. Just as Ron had never left her side, Shego would always occupy a special place in Kim’s heart. Death was not going to change that.
Shego was dead.
Kim still wished that she could see Shego in person, to hold her one last time, to feel her embrace, to slide her hands along her soft skin that shone with the color of the moon, to run her fingers through her raven black hair that felt so soft to the touch yet still managed to flap defiantly like a flag in the wind, to gaze into her deep green eyes that served as a window into her very soul, to feel the warmth of her lips that felt so firm and yet so delicate, like rose petals pressed against hers. She longed to experience the passion that they had shared when their bodies and souls became one in the same, to hold her tightly and never let her go, telling her that she would always be there. But there was one thing stopping her, one fact she knew she could never escape:
Shego was dead.
Kim lost all sense of time as she lay curled up on the floor, not bothering to use the bed on the back wall. She had not moved since last night. She cried for so long she dehydrated herself and her body could no longer produce tears. There was a water fountain on the wall, but Kim felt no desire to move. She had no reason to live.
When Ron had died, Kim thought her world was over. But now the same thing had happened again. She now knew the truth, and she re-experienced Ron’s death as though for the first time. Coupled with the loss of Shego, Kim’s mind could not handle it and she simply shut down. She breathed, but that was about it. Her lungs filled with air, then just as quickly expelled it, taking away what hope she had left with each barely audible breath. The rhythm was steady and mechanical, her mind playing no part in the physical process that kept her alive. She wanted nothing more than to die.
The white padded cell was her entire world now. Gone were the days where she could go to Tokyo on a school night. Under normal circumstances she would have laughed reminiscently at such a thought, but her face displayed no reaction other than a blank stare. Her eyes stared off into space, her eyelids on occasion washing over them and interrupting her gaze for a fraction of a second. But she was not looking at anything. Her eyes did not gaze inward, either. She just lay there, frozen, unable and unwilling to function.
Kim’s solitude was interrupted the next morning when Dr. Director stepped through the door to her cell accompanied by two guards. She didn’t even bother looking. She did not know what awaited her, nor did she care. She had shut down inside. The woman crossed the floor at a disciplined pace and stopped exactly a foot away from Kim, her posture absolutely perfect, not a single hair out of place. She was the epitome of professionalism. The emotionless look on her face would make a stone burn with envy.
Both women refused to show emotion, but for different reasons. Dr. Director believed that emotion was weak, and her hatred for what was in her opinion the most useless of human attributes was exactly why she displayed so much animosity towards the redhead. It was the reason she devoted herself so completely to training Kim in the way she believed the younger woman should go. But more importantly it was the fact that Kim was able to bring out the emotions that Dr. Director had worked so hard to keep hidden. It had been exactly the same way with Shego.
The late villainess had been a thorn in Betty Director’s side ever since she escaped from the one-eyed woman’s clutches. Her agents were far inferior to the monster she created, and she had seen to it that that monster was put to rest. But this did not satisfy her lust for revenge. After all, bringing down Shego had cost over 23 years of time, resources, countless injured agents, and painstakingly methodical planning on Dr. Director’s part. She needed another outlet for those feelings. And this outlet just so happened to be Kim.
“Time to get up, Kimberly,” Dr. Director informed the self-imposed vegetable in a perfectly flat voice. Kim just lay there, not seeming to notice her. Her eyes never moved from the direction in which they were focused, the occasional blink being the only movement she displayed. Dr. Director noted the girl’s emotionless state and congratulated herself on a job well done. But she was still not satisfied. Betty Director had broken enough people to know that Kim was only in temporary shock. She would come out of it on her own eventually, but Dr. Director decided to speed up the process.
Former Marine Drill Sergeant R. Lee Ermey once offered advice on how to break a man down so that you can reshape him into an obedient soldier: “Don’t get mad, act mad.” Dr. Director liked to take it a step further. After all, she had to take those feelings out somewhere, right? Unfortunately for Kim, she was “somewhere.”
The expression on Dr. Director’s face changed to one of pure malice as her eye narrowed, revealing wrinkles on either side of her nose. Her teeth meshed together so tightly they threatened to crack. She bent her right knee to draw her foot back and drove her steel-toed boot directly into the stomach of her prisoner. “Get up!” she ordered sharply.
Kim felt as though she had just been sucker punched by Mike Tyson. Blood forced its way from her mouth as the boot threatened to make an indent in her small intestine. A dark red stain splattered on Dr. Director’s shin as well as the once-immaculate floor. Kim groaned in pain and propped herself up on one elbow for leverage, placing the palm of her left hand on the floor and pushing down to raise herself from her emotional death and assumed a sitting position. She gazed up at Dr. Director with a look of absolute hatred.
Kim brought her right forearm to her face and wiped the rest of the blood on her formerly pure white sleeve. The stain was almost black, meaning that the blood had come from deep within Kim’s body and she could be bleeding internally. But she was not concerned with that right now.
With a renewed sense of anger, Kim forced herself into an upright position and threw a punch at Dr. Director, who was anticipating the attack and caught it with her palm. She activated the green plasma that had formerly belonged to the younger woman’s lover and used it to torture her in every sense of the word. Not only did it remind Kim of the pain of Shego’s death, but the pain also manifested itself physically as it seared her skin.
Kim screamed in agony as her knees buckled and she fell to the floor once again. Shego would never have used her powers for something this twisted. Dr. Director’s cruelty was even more evident in the psychological application of the torture, dragging it out and inflicting just enough pain to have Kim screaming for mercy, preferring to test the girl’s endurance rather than her pain tolerance. It was her mind, not her body, that the one-eyed woman was targeting. The pain Kim had felt yesterday came rushing back in a flash, and if her body could still produce tears, they would have been streaming down her face. Eventually Dr. Director let go.
“That was just a first degree burn,” the one-eyed woman informed the girl who sat nursing her wounded hand. “It’s no worse than a bad sunburn. Just run it under cool water for about thirty minutes and you’ll heal just fine Next time you get a second degree burn,” the one-eyed woman threatened, and Kim surrendered with a huff. Dr. Director noticed Kim’s lack of fluid. “Get her an IV and some bandages,” she ordered one of the guards, who complied and ran off to retrieve the medical equipment.
If it had been anybody else, Kim would have been grateful for the concern. However, she knew Dr. Director was a cat playing with a mouse. If the cat kills and eats the mouse, then it no longer has something to play with. Kim was the mouse. The agent returned in record time and took Kim by the arm, guiding her to her bed, which she still had not used. She struggled in vain, but eventually settled for going limp, forcing him to carry dead weight. Not a problem for someone wearing a suit that could lift a car. The agent placed her on the bed with surprising gentleness and with incredible speed he stuck the IV needle in Kim’s arm before she could even object. He tried to grab her hand, but she slapped his wrist. “I’ll do it myself,” she informed him, snatching the roll of bandages from his grip. He wisely complied.
Dr. Director calmly strode over to the right side of Kim’s bed, her hands occupying their usual position, interlaced just below the small of her back. Her steps were uniform and disciplined, and Kim felt as though she was being approached by a machine. This made her uncomfortable. She pulled her hand closer to her body while she wrapped it in bandages and pushed herself further back into the upright mattress that felt similar to one you might find in a prison hospital. Of course, that’s exactly where she was. She wrinkled her nose and let out an indignant puff of air through her nostrils in a rather childish gesture. Dr. Director lifted one of the corners of her mouth in a smirk.
“Is there anything I can do to make your stay with us more comfortable?” Dr. Director mocked.
“Well, the room has a nice view, and the food’s great, but the service is a little…” She looked to the agent from whom she had taken the roll of bandages with which she was now dueling, struggling to make it stay in place… “…lacking.” she finished, cursing at the bandages that refused to stay on her hand. She was just glad to be ambidextrous, otherwise she would be screaming in frustration by now. But it is difficult to wrap a bandage when one of your hands has just been subjected to cosmic fire. She let out an enraged growl and shook her arms violently, removing the bandage and causing her to grip her hand in pain because of the moving air touching her burned skin. She held it close to her body, wrapping it in the folds of the plain white tunic she wore to guard it from anything else that might bring her further pain. The problem with this approach was that contact with anything meant searing pain. She closed her eyes and gritted her teeth, trying her hardest to ignore by the burning sensation that kept her from noticing that Dr. Director had picked up the bandage and was now standing right next to her with a bottle of ointment.
“Let me help you with that,” the Head of GJ offered. Kim responded by trying to face away from her, causing her to wince once more when she rolled too far over and accidentally subjected her hand to her bodyweight. She resumed her earlier position with a scowl on her face. Dr. Director decided to try again.
“Quit being a child, Kimberly,” she snapped in a tone that reminded Kim of her mother. “Burns can get infected, and we don’t want that now, do we?” she continued in a much gentler tone. “Now, all I’m asking is that you let me give you the proper medical attention, and then you can have your hand back. Fair enough?” she proposed as though she was addressing a four year old, which was appropriate given how Kim was acting.
“Fine,” Kim huffed, crossing her arms impetulantly and wincing yet again when she stuck her wounded hand under her elbow.
“Good,” Dr. Director replied. “Now give me your hand.” Kim reluctantly extended the raw, damaged mass of fingers and tendons that was her right hand, looking away in uncertainty. She clamped her eyes shut and took in a sharp breath of air through gritted teeth and prepared for the worst. To her surprise, her burning hands were met with cooling aloe being rubbed gently into her raw skin. The manner in which Dr. Director applied the ointment was almost maternal, and she gently massaged each singed finger, freeing Kim from the pain that had tormented her. Kim released her captive breath and relaxed her tense muscles, sinking into the bed that suddenly felt so soft. The ointment was like water on her skin evaporating on a hot day, soothing her and relieving the pain wrought by the heat. She closed her eyes and let out a deep sigh, losing herself in the moment. Pain gave way to healing, and for that brief, stolen second, nothing else mattered.
As quickly as it had come, the feeling was gone, and Kim hissed at the touch of the cloth to her damaged skin. She attempted to withdraw her hand, but Dr. Director caught her by the wrist. She gave Kim a reassuring look with her eye, and the redhead relaxed once more, steeling herself to prepare for the pain. After the first layer was on, there was no more pain save for the occasional pinching of her skin whenever Dr. Director completed a circuit. The pain left Kim’s face and she stared at Dr. Director with curiosity.
“Why are you doing this?” she inquired of her captor.
Dr. Director displayed a rare smile. “You’re like a puppy that hasn’t been housebroken, Kimberly. I can’t get mad at you for peeing on the rug. You don’t know any better.” Kim was about to object, but Dr. Director silenced her by pulling extra hard on the bandage, causing her to jump slightly and wince in pain. “No,” she continued in a smooth, nurturing voice. “I have to discipline you; train you so you know how to behave. That way, instead of punishing you every time you do something wrong, I can make sure you don’t do it in the first place.”
Kim quirked her eyebrow at that statement. She was an untrained puppy? That was a load of bull, she was sure. She knew how to take care of herself. She knew right from wrong! What exactly did Dr. Director want to teach her?
As if reading her thoughts, Dr. Director smiled warmly at Kim and continued wrapping her hand. She was about halfway done. The one-eyed woman opened her mouth and spoke in that same gentle tone that reminded Kim of her mother. “You have the heart of a warrior, Kim,” she continued, finally calling the redhead by the name she preferred. “You have strength, the passion, and the desire to it takes win. But you lack focus.” She suddenly changed her tone to the cold, professional demeanor she had displayed the previous day. “My job is to teach you to harness that strength, focus that passion, and to take your desire to succeed and forge you into a soldier who obeys orders and fights for the cause, not herself. And to do that, I have to break you.” She paused for a moment to focus on wrapping Kim’s hand, moving to her fingers, cradling each individual unit like an orphaned child, sheltering them from the dangers of the outside world. She worked slowly and with great care, and for the first time in her life, Kim found herself at a loss for words.
Dr. Director finished wrapping Kim’s hand and secured it before releasing it back to its owner. The redhead had to fight the urge to draw it quickly back to herself as this would likely have caused the bandages to come undone. Instead, she slowly bent her elbow and brought her hand in front of her face, where she gazed in wonder at the absolutely flawless job the one-eyed woman had done. The only other person Kim knew who could wrap a bandage that well was her mother. And so her thoughts drifted to the woman who had given birth to her and raised her for 18 years.
Dr. Anne Possible was Kim’s biggest inspiration. She was everything Kim had hoped she would be someday, and many prophesied that she would grow up to be just like her mother, and more. But the thing about predicting the future is that it’s a game of probability and educated guesses. You can never anticipate what life throws your way. You just have to take it all in stride. And the more you have to adapt, the more you change. A four year old boy can be absolutely certain that he wants to be an Astronaut or a Fire Fighter when he grows up, but unless the cards play out in his favor those vocational goals are likely to change. A girl can fall in love with the boy who has been there for her all along, but what is she to do when he is taken away? Kim had chosen to end up with a woman. But despite all these changes, our parents, especially our mothers, never stop loving us.
They had grown apart in recent years, and Kim no longer visited home as often as she would have liked. It wasn’t far; just a few miles down the road from where she lived, but after Ron died she pushed everyone away. She could not bring herself to face her parents after all the hurtful things she had said but never really meant. For the girl who could do anything, the one thing she could not do was stand up to her parents. Even if she did get out of here, how would she tell them that she had not only managed to fall in love with a woman, but that she was the reason that woman was dead? After all, that’s what happened with Ron. It would just drive them apart again. And so Kim had gotten used to living on her own, without her parent’s guidance. Only now did she realize how much she could have used their support. If she had only had someone to turn to, she would never have fallen in love with Shego, thus sparing herself from this misery and saving the older woman’s life.
But… would that have been a life worth living? They say it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, but Kim knew from experience that loss can hurt so much that the person experiencing it can think of nothing else. She had lost Ron, then her family, and now Shego. She had nothing. But here the woman who had taken it all away was offering her something in return. Would it be so wrong to accept that? To have something to hold onto? To surrender herself when she could not hold out much longer anyway?
Suddenly Kim’s eyes shot open in epiphany. She turned to face the woman who had healed her wounded hand and narrowed her eyes. “I see what you’re doing,” she accused. “You’re trying to manipulate me into trusting you.”
Dr. Director smirked. “It’s what I do, Kimberly,” she admitted. “But I didn’t think you would fall for it that easily, and you proved that just now. You were able to see right through the façade. It appears I will have to work harder.” Rather than seeming disappointed, Dr. Director just continued to grin smugly.
“What makes you think it will work with me when it didn’t work with Shego?” Kim challenged. “After all, you admitted we’re exactly the same.”
Dr. Director’s teeth glinted as she parted her lips to reveal a mouth full of ivory. Her eye narrowed evilly and she let out a menacing chuckle. “Because your reasons for not trusting me are different than Shego’s. If you recall our little discussion yesterday, you’ll remember that I told you her parents were murdered.”
“By you,” Kim interrupted.
The one eyed woman laughed. “By our agents,” she corrected. “You’re forgetting that I don’t get personally involved unless absolutely necessary.”
“Coward,” Kim accused.
Again Dr. Director displayed an amused smile. “I prefer to think of it as reassignment of labor. After all, I handle all the most dangerous cases.”
“So you’re passing the buck because you’re afraid to get your hands dirty?” Kim paraphrased.
“I’m assigning all the cases that don’t interest me to the less competent,” Dr. Director replied sharply. “I could have killed you if I wanted to, but I took it upon myself to train the most unstable agent GJ has ever employed, and that figure includes Shego. My agents need something to do, and I can’t run an organization by myself. Therefore, I must delegate if I’m to get anything done. Why do you think I assigned you to handle Shego instead of Will?”
“Because she would have torn Will apart,” Kim answered. “You sent me in because I’m the only one who can handle her. Not even you would last in a fight with that woman. That’s why you hide behind all your agents. You knew she had a soft spot for me, so she wouldn’t rip me to shreds first chance she got. And that’s why I’m able to fight her without getting myself killed; I’m not afraid to take a risk and put my life on the line. You only fight if you know you’re going to win.”
“As Napoleon once said, ‘If you don’t want to lose, don’t pick on someone your own size,’” Dr. Director quoted, unaffected by Kim’s assault. “There is a fine line between bravery and recklessness. It’s my job to send in the person who is right for the job, even if that person isn’t me. I’ve put my life on the line more times than I can remember, and more than you ever will. Don’t presume you know what it means to risk your life. After all, you were never in any danger.” She said that last sentence in a voice that, if not for the person who was using it, would have been warm and reassuring. Instead it was cold and sarcastic. She leaned forward to emphasize her point.
Kim crossed her arms and huffed. She could argue all she wanted and she still wouldn’t be heard. Every time she challenged Dr. Director, her situation seemed to get worse. She would submit… for now.
“So when does my ‘training’ start?” Kim asked in a belligerent tone, her emerald pupils boring into the one-eyed woman.
Dr. Director just smiled. “Just rest for now, Kimberly. When it’s time, you’ll know.” She turned heel and headed towards the door.
Confused by the woman’s cryptic answer, and against her better judgment, Kim spoke up. “So what was all this about?”
Dr. Director stopped for a moment. Without turning around, she answered, “I wanted to see if you knew your place.” She faced the redhead, her single eye glinting in the fluorescent light. “Now I see you do.” She exited the room, leaving Kim sitting there clutching her wounded hand, trying desperately to figure out what just happened.
The Global Justice Forensics Lab was not just for the dead, though without a decent cup of coffee it would certainly seem that way. Wade grumbled silently to himself as he struggled to stop his eyelids from closing, the steaming brew sitting on the cold lab table next to him being the only thing keeping him awake. On the table lay a body, but the only thing that separated the body from his usual work was the fact that the person was not dead, merely unconscious. But the body still merited investigation.
Wade sighed and thought back to a time when things had been simpler; when he made gadgets for Team Possible and ran Kim’s website. Now he tried to figure out how people died. It was a waste of his talents, he knew, but the privacy it afforded him was enough of a payoff for the reclusive supergenius. Apart from Kim and Ron, Wade had never had any real friends. This was the only place in GJ where he didn’t have to talk to anybody. Here he was free to be himself. The only downside was that he had to poke around the bodies of dead people.
Which is why he was glad that the body that lay in front of him was only half dead. The dim lights of the room cast a seedy glow on the naked flesh of his subject, who did not have even the least bit of covering. But Wade wasn’t into necrophilia, and the woman’s nude body held no interest to him. It sure was a waste, though.
“Damn, Shego, what did they do to you?” Wade asked the pale woman, even thought he knew there would be no response. How could there be? She was unconscious when she arrived, and Wade had been tasked with monitoring her to see if there were any side effects from the “treatment.” Aside from her continued lack of consciousness, there were none as far as the supergenius was concerned.
There was a long green scar running from Shego’s armpit to her hip, and the accelerated healing power granted to her by the comet was the only thing that stopped her from bleeding to death. It was green for this reason. Wade didn’t know what they had done, but he did know that it had been such a shock to her system that it put her in a comatose state. Wade let out a deep sigh and grabbed his coffee, taking a sip before once again turning his eyes on the pale, naked flesh of the woman who had become Kim’s lover.
Wade had never really liked Shego, but nobody deserved this. He did not know exactly what happened to her, but he got the feeling that he didn’t really want to. Kim especially couldn’t find out. Wade didn’t think it was fair to keep his only friend in the dark, but when you worked for Global Justice, Dr. Director’s word was law. And he had to obey or else the world around him would come crashing down as it had for Kim. And unlike Kim, he couldn’t do anything.
But neither could Kim in this case. For all the times he had managed to bail her out, the one time she needed him the most he had failed her. Wade blamed himself, even though he knew that nobody could have seen this coming. But he should have been able to do more! Why couldn’t he see it when it was right in front of him all along?
Because nobody could, he reminded himself. The feeling that this gave him was bittersweet at best. He still felt that he could have warned her, but by the time he discovered The Reaper’s true identity Kim was already in a prison cell. It wasn’t his fault, but he didn’t care. Kim had always been his first priority, and he had failed her. Nothing in the world could make Wade forgive himself for what he let happen to his only friend in the world. And to Shego.
The supergenius suddenly felt compassion for the woman who had tried to kill his best friend time after time and eventually stolen her away. Wade had always had a little crush on Kim, and while he was a bit disappointed that she ended up with Ron, he was there for her. But he had to ask himself: did he let the resentment he felt towards Shego get in the way of doing everything he could to help Kim? If it did then Wade had every right to feel angry and depressed right now. But he had more important things to worry about, namely keeping an eye on a super powered woman who could wake up at any moment and would be royally pissed if she did. Not that she showed signs of doing so anytime soon.
Wade’s fingers brushed lightly against the keys of the small laptop he carried, showing a surprising degree of dexterity given his massive fingers. But Wade had requested that the laptop be made with larger keys to compensate for his large digits. Besides, he had been doing this almost all his life. The reason he chose to use a laptop instead of one of the main computers was because the mission he was on was not authorized by GJ. But he had to know. He could still help Kim, even though everything had gone to hell and there looked to be no way out for his best friend.
The keystrokes were barely distinguishable from one another as the young supergenius hacked the files that he had not been granted security clearance for. Through a complex array of technical wizardry comprehensible only to himself, Wade was able to mask his signature so that even if the higher-ups did figure out that they were being hacked, there would be no way to tell who was doing the hacking.
Finally, Wade found what he was looking for. Scrolling down through the long file known as SUPERSTAR, the young super genius’ eyes were wide and horrified, but he could not turn away. He gazed up at the woman who lay on the table, noticing that her eyelids now fluttered, which meant that she was at least dreaming while in her coma. His mouth opened and Wade formed three simple words:
“How could they?”
Peace. That’s what she felt. Absolute peace. No distractions, no noise, no danger, just peace. It felt good.
Shego opened her eyes to find herself surrounded by white. No corners, no horizons, no floors or ceiling, just white as far as the eye could see. It was like being in one of those commercials where an actor would go out and pitch a product, not appearing to be standing on anything. Shego had always found that cool. And now she was experiencing it first hand.
She noticed that she was not wearing her normal green and black catsuit, but instead she was clad in a white robe. She did not like it. She was not used to wearing something so loose, and a scowl developed on her face as she rubbed her knees together and confirmed that she was not wearing any underpants either. She glanced down at what she perceived to be the ground, half expecting for it to be made of glass and for fifty men to be staring up at her. But there was nothing but white that seemed to extend indefinitely. She was amazed and confused at the same time. Amazed that she was in a place she had only heard about, and confused that she had ended up here instead of that other place. She opened her mouth and turned her head up, gazing into the infinite whiteness. “Is this heaven?” she asked no one in particular.
“No, but it’s sure not hell,” a voice behind her answered. Shego spun quickly around to find the source of the voice, and her jaw dropped in shock. Of all people, it had to be him.
‘Of course,’ She thought. ‘It’s bad enough that I’m dead but can I at least go eternity without running intoyou?’ She closed her jaw and adopted an authoritative pose. “You,” she greeted sardonically.
The blond figure across from her smiled. “Now, I know Drakken never remembered my name, but you’re usually pretty good about it. I’d hate to think you’ve forgotten about me in the time I’ve been gone,” he jested, his lighthearted tone alleviating at least some of the tension between the only two people who had loved and been loved by Kim Possible.
“Okay, fine, Stoppable,” Shego replied, eliciting a gloating smile from her lover’s dead boyfriend. “Where is this place? And where is Dr. D now that you mention it? I’m half expecting to see him pop out of nowhere seeing as I ran into you.”
“Oh, he’s up in heaven,” Ron replied nonchalantly, drawing a surprised look from Shego, who had not expected a self-proclaimed “evil genius” to get into a place of good. But then, that would probably be hell for a man who detested anything good. Though Shego had to admit that although Drakken claimed he was evil, he never committed anything worse than property damage and theft, and most of that was because of her. He was just an overgrown toddler, and he was nothing like the truly evil people in the world. He liked to think he was evil, but the truth is he couldn’t muster the strength to harm a fly. Not with those tiny hands of his.
“Whoa whoa whoa, hold it right there, slick,” Shego interrupted, making a “time out” sign with her hands. “So if he’s up in heaven, then where the hell are we?”
“Not there, for starters,” Ron admonished, causing Shego to blush a little. Even though she claimed not to give a damn what other people thought, Shego had been raised in a religious atmosphere, and while she had gone against everything else she was taught, the punishments she endured for swearing were so severe that she usually didn’t do it unless she was either very angry or very confused. At the moment it was the second one.
“Okay,” Shego said in her own little form of apology. “So where are we?”
“Well, you can only go to heaven or hell if you’re dead,” the blond responded. “Right now you’re just in a coma.”
“So I’m alive?” Shego asked. Ron nodded. “Well then what the—” She paused as Ron glared. “What is this place?” she finished.
“I dunno,” Kim’s old partner admitted. “I guess it’s your mindscape, but I was never really into all that metaphysical stuff. I think it just means we’re in your dream.”
“So you’re a figment of my imagination?” Shego surmised.
“Actually, no,” Ron corrected. “I’m the real deal.” He thumped his chest twice with his open palms. “That’s one of the cool things about Mystical Monkey Power. I would have preferred to visit Kim in her dream, but she’s keeping herself awake. Besides, you and I have stuff to talk about.”
“Geez, I know Kimmie dated a few guys in the past, but I thought the only guy I had to answer to was that Josh kid she went on that date with that time she almost vanished,” Shego remarked, sparking a particularly amusing memory, marred only by the fact that that had been an attempt to kill Princess, whereas now she was in love with the redhead. And now the one against which she would forever be measured was standing right in front of her. “But hey, you never did like being normal, did you?”
“You remembered my motto too,” Ron sighed wistfully as he stared off above them, clasping his hands together in gratitude. Apparently it meant a lot to him. Shego rolled her eyes.
“Okay, so what do we need to talk about that’s so important?” Shego asked, cutting to the chase.
“Oh nothing, just the fact that the woman who killed me is now boning the woman who effectively became my widow even though we weren’t married.” Ron’s frank yet accurate portrayal of the situation did nothing to calm the green woman. Her face tightened, then relaxed when his boyish smile revealed that he was just joking.
“Well gee, it sounds so dirty when you put it like that,” Shego riposted, pretending to be hurt by the remark. Ron, however, was no stranger to the green woman’s wit and continued the conversation without missing a beat.
“Okay, maybe that was a little harsh,” Ron apologized, which softened the pale woman’s gaze. “Still, you’ve gotta admit, this was a bit of a shock to everyone. But I’ll manage.”
“You’re not freaking out?” Shego asked, confused. “No blaming me for taking advantage of her in her moment of weakness? No accusing me of corrupting your old girlfriend? You’re seriously okay with this?” The fact that the person she had killed was essentially condoning her relationship with the woman he loved struck Shego as suspicious.
“I was a bit tweaked at first,” the blond admitted, “But I’d do anything to see Kim happy. And that’s what you’ve made her: happy.”
“Seriously, you’re not even the least bit freaked out that Kimmie’s a lesbian, and loves me on top of it?” Shego responded, still unwilling to believe it. “The woman who killed you?”
Ron simply flicked his hand in a dismissive gesture. “Pssh. You didn’t kill me. If you’d taken a second to investigate you’d have noticed this.” The blond parted his robe and Shego recoiled in horror, but Ron was thankfully wearing pants underneath. She slowly turned her head to gaze at the hole that lay just below Ron’s left pec. It was a bullet hole.
“So wait, someone shot you?” Shego asked. Ron nodded. The green woman’s face contorted to convey her immense confusion at this revelation. “So then wait, if I didn’t kill you, then who did?”
“You know who,” the blond replied simply, and Shego contemplated this for a second before her eyes shot wide in revelation. Who else but the woman who wanted to see her dead since the day she escaped? Who wanted to take Kimmie under her wing while eliminating all the competition? The one person she had never allowed herself to suspect: Betty Director.
“That bitch!” she screamed, smashing her fist into her palm.
“That’s what I said!” Ron sympathized.
“So what did you do to piss her off?” Shego asked in the same manner one might address another member of a club. And that’s what Stoppable was: a member of the “people who love Kim Possible” club. Hell, he was the founder.
“Apparently I ‘kept Kim from reaching her full potential,’” he mocked, making liberal use of air quotes. Shego was unable to control herself and chuckled as she placed her hand over her mouth, trying to force back in what she had allowed to escape.
“Man, you always did make me wanna laugh,” the green woman admitted, shaking her head and sighing. “But back then I hated your guts so I controlled myself. Now… I’m not sure what I feel about you.”
“Could it be that you’re trying to understand Kim better by understanding the person she loved before you?” Ron suggested, and Shego was a bit shocked at the insight. She didn’t know what to make of it. Stoppable was smarter than her previous encounters with him had led her to believe.
“I… guess you could look at it that way,” Shego finally managed to stammer, still amazed that the man whose lover she was now dating held no animosity towards her. It was an ability to forgive that went beyond Shego’s understanding. After all, when your entire childhood consists of being blamed for stuff you didn’t do and getting treated like an animal, it’s kind of hard to forgive. But here was a man willing to look past her faults, and at that moment Shego understood why Kim had loved him. It was impossible to make yourself feel guilty in his presence. It was… nice.
“So, what exactly did you want to talk to me about?” Shego repeated, sensing that there was still more to be discussed. “I mean, am I going to wake up? And if I do, where? How do I get out? Is Kimmie gonna be okay?”
Ron halted her questions by raising his right hand. “One,” he counted, extending his index finger, “Yes. Two,” His middle finger joined the index finger, “GJ Forensics Lab. That’s Wade’s department. Which actually leads me to three,” His ring finger extended while his thumb restrained his trembling pinky finger, “Wade will help you bust out of there. But…”
“But what?” Shego asked. “Kimmie’s gonna be okay, right?”
“I don’t know,” Ron admitted with sigh as he bowed his head, “but neither will you. You have to let her get through this on her own. There’s nothing more you can do for her right now. You just have to save your own hide and wait until the whole thing blows over. Otherwise you’ll both end up getting killed. And as much as I’d like some company, I think KP deserves to live a full life.”
“Wait, you mean I have to just leave her there?” Shego made no attempt to disguise the anger in her voice. “Leave her when she might die or become some brainwashed drone? Fuck that!”
“Look, I don’t like it either, but you’ve got no choice,” Ron insisted, the levity of his tone vanished and replaced with a level of maturity that caught Shego off guard. “If you ever want to see her again, you have to let her work through this on her own.”
“But I can’t just leave her!” Shego screamed, ignoring the sidekick’s reasoning. “She needs my help!”
“Since when have either of you needed each other’s help?” Ron countered, breaking through Shego’s defenses and capturing her full attention. “You and Kim have always been about doing it for yourselves. If you were in her position, what would you do if she was the one who saved you?”
Shego was silent. She did not want to answer that question.
“I know what you’d do,” Ron continued, and Shego leaned forward, anticipating his next words. So insightful! No wonder Princess had kept him around; he knew exactly what made other people tick, and he knew just what to say when it mattered most. Not that this was of much comfort at the moment. “You would feel like you owed her for life, and you don’t like that feeling, do you?”
“For some reason people can’t resist the temptation to hold that sort of thing over my head,” Shego grumbled and Ron nodded in understanding.
“Well neither does Kim,” the blond stated, and Shego began to see where he was going with this. The realization hit her and tears began to well up in the corners of her emerald eyes.
Shego turned to leave, only to realize that she was still in her dream and had nowhere to go anyway. She settled for pacing in an angry little circle with her elbows locked and her hands clenched into fists like a toddler, green flames snaking around her forearms. She looked directly above her and opened her mouth, unleashing a hellish scream that embodied all the rage she felt at that moment. It carried for untold miles, but despite the deafening noise the man in front of her did not budge. After a good ten seconds of uninterrupted screaming, the need for oxygen forced Shego to gasp and fall to her knees in defeat, tears seeping from the corners of her eyes. She pounded the floor with an ignited fist, producing no effect other than a slight stinging sensation in her hand.
“Damn it,” she cursed. “The one time I don’t want to leave someone behind is the time I have to. This is why I don’t like getting close to people. The universe always finds a way to fuck it up. Why can’t I just love somebody without everything going to hell?”
Ron’s eyes flashed with sympathy and he strode over to the crying woman, whose rare display of weakness stirred something inside him. He felt compassion for the woman who had once tried to kill him. He knelt down next to her and placed a hand on her shoulder.
“It’s not fair,” the green woman blubbered, embarrassed to be seen in this state by Stoppable, of all people. But she offered no resistance as he wrapped his arm around her and drew her close to his body in support, just as he would have done for Kim before they were lovers. As he held the sobbing form of Shego in his arms, Ron found himself wondering if Kim was taking it this hard.
The soft beep that signaled the swipe of a keycard drew Kim’s attention to the door on the left side of her room adjacent to the Plexiglas. She jumped slightly and gripped the sheets to keep them from slipping away. The hairs on the back of her neck bristled and stood on end as the redhead watched the door hiss open and Dr. Director stepped through accompanied by two massive guards, much larger than the ones this morning. Rather than dispassion, the look on Betty Director’s face was one of steely resolve, as though she was bracing herself for something. Kim set her jaw and returned the gaze.
“Did you have a good rest?” the Head of GJ asked sharply, her tone promising dire punishment for any attempt at humor. Kim nodded her head yes. “Good. You’re going to need all the sleep you can get to endure the training,” Dr. Director informed her prisoner. “Guards.” She made a motion with her hand and the two men behind her pressed a button on their wrists, activating a blue glow around their hands. They stepped on each side of the bed and grabbed Kim by the arms, meeting no resistance as the redhead did not offer any, but simply accepted the fact that anyone channeling Hego’s super strength was not someone she was going to win a fight against. Much less someone who controlled all four powers. Her only response was to gaze solemnly at Dr. Director, preparing herself for whatever happened next.
“Walk,” the one-eyed woman ordered, and Kim complied, her arms restrained by the two agents escorting her. She kept her vision straight ahead and her steps even, as though she was heading to her execution. In a way, she was. The time had come to see just how Dr. Director would attempt to kill her freedom. Without a free spirit she was as good as dead. She had made peace with that, and the only thoughts that filled her head as she walked down the stainless steel corridors were of how she could resist.
What was Dr. Director planning to do? It couldn’t be another demoralizing conversation; they had already had one of those. And it couldn’t be like last time, because Kim was not here of her own free will. This left one alternative. Kim hardened her features even more as her face solidified into a stony glare. Her bare feet made no sound as she kept pace with the guards on either side of her, whose boots clanked on the cold steel. Dr. Director led the group, standing directly in front of Kim and blocking the redhead’s view of anything. It didn’t matter anyway. She knew the intricate network of tunnels at GJ like the back of her hand. After all, until she was imprisoned she had been second in command of the organization. Still, since she didn’t know where she started, as well as the dizzying pace at which she was forced to walk quickly confused the redhead and she now had no idea where they were heading. Until they arrived at their destination.
Dr. Director veered off to the right while the guards continued forward, and Kim’s trained eyes quickly took in the details of the room. There were a number of devices here that looked as though they belonged somewhere in between a hospital and a horror movie set. There were various whips, chains, manacles, blades, scalpels, needles, and other devices that Kim didn’t even want to know about. One she did recognize had three blades and was shaped like a pair of scissors, designed for cutting out a man’s stomach. She also spied an anal pear, which was designed to be forced into someone’s plumbing and gradually expand by operating the handle. She shuddered at the thought of that being used and quickly turned her attention elsewhere.
The clinical quality and modern look of the stainless steel contrasted the instruments used for a practice that stretched back to prehistoric times. The surgically cleaned blades glinted in the fluorescent light that eliminated all shadows, which served to contrast the stereotypical dungeons where this sort of thing usually took place with delicious irony. Kim would be able to see everything, which made her heart race as she thought of what might happen if certain parts of her were to get cut up.
It suddenly occurred to Kim that of all the times she had been captured on her missions, she had never been tortured. She was about to find out first hand what it felt like to endure something she never dared to think about. Her breathing became shallow and a pool of sweat formed at the base of her spine. Her eyes stopped blinking and instead darted around the room nervously, failing to notice the lone device to which she was being led.
It was an impressive piece of machinery, Kim had to admit. It was your run-of-the-mill slab, with a cold metallic surface and manacles to restrain anyone unlucky enough to be attached to it, but running down the middle was a gap about three inches wide. Kim wondered what that was for. To the side of the chair there lay a console with a keyboard, several levers, and a dial with various settings. A computer screen displayed a heart rate, which at the moment was flat because nobody was hooked up to the machine. But that would be resolved momentarily.
Dr. Director snapped her fingers and Kim felt a sudden rush of air as her clothing was ripped from her body. She made an attempt to cover up, but the guards holding her arms were too strong. She settled for a scowl instead. Her body shivered not from the temperature of the room—though it was cold—but instead the blood boiling inside her shook her frame like a volcano about to erupt. “Strap her in,” the one-eyed woman ordered.
Naked flesh met cold steel and Kim hissed as goose bumps sprouted on every inch of her skin. Her backside went numb, and Kim arched her back in an attempt to escape the icy sensation, only to be met with failure as the manacles snapped shut and held her in place. She was now spread eagle on a very uncomfortable piece of machinery, and her other extremities had begun to feel the sensation of pins and needles as well. She closed her eyes and tried to think of something warm, anything that would distract her from the cold that for some reason brought up the image of a doctor’s stethoscope, which of course reminded Kim of her mother.
But more importantly it made her eyes snap open and take in the multitudes of surgical instruments that had been perverted from their original purpose. Where they had been designed to heal, they could be used to cause immeasurable pain. Such was the way of the world. No matter how good the intentions behind a particular invention, someone would eventually find a way to use it for evil. Nuclear fission can light up a city, but it can also level that same city. Every sword has two edges. This is a fact of life.
It made Kim sick to think of how those instruments might be used. The fact that they were completely sterile was of little comfort. Something told her that her blood was going to be on them before the end of their session. She closed her eyes and opened them once more, hoping that this tactic would somehow make everything go away. But when she opened her eyes, everything was still there. There was no way out. She set her jaw and a look of grim determination concealed the worry and insecurity that the redhead felt inside. She had gotten herself into this situation, and now she would have to get herself through it, not out of it. If she could endure the pain, she would have won that round. But how long until she broke? She hoped it was before Dr. Director, whose patience seemed indefinite at one moment, then hanging by a thread the next, was able to inflict any true damage
The one-eyed woman finished her inspection of the controls and turned to face Kim, who wrinkled her nose and burrowed her eyes into her captor, challenging her and letting Dr. Director know she wasn’t going down without a fight. This caused a smirk to cross the one-eyed woman’s face. She communicated everything that she was about to elaborate upon in one of her famous monologues simply by raising one side of her lips. The look in her eye told Kim one thing: “I will own you.”
Even though she was speaking to an audience of one, Dr. Director spoke as though she was addressing a crowd, perhaps to make the two guards in the corner feel included. Her words sat on the edge of her tongue before she spoke in that ever-dispassionate voice. “Quite a piece of machinery, huh?” she began, pausing to wait for Kim’s inevitable response. She did not have to wait long.
“It certainly fits like a glove,” Kim commented as she tugged on her arms in a vain attempt to free herself from the manacles that held her fast to the slab.
Dr. Director chuckled. “Well I can’t have you going anywhere,” she replied, moving over to the console and reaching for the keypad. On the monitor to which it was attached, Kim’s heart rate read 90 beats per minute, above average. The one-eyed woman took notice of this and smiled. “Excited?” she asked rhetorically. “Or afraid?”
“Annoyed,” Kim retorted, defiant even in the most dire of sitches. The one-eyed woman let out an amused chuckle.
“Do you want to know how it works?” Dr. Director asked the redhead, typing a series of commands on the keyboard. Under normal circumstances there would have been an operator, but Dr. Director thought it best if she handled this one personally as none of her agents possessed the moral flexibility necessary to perform such a task. Well, Agent Du did, but he was busy at the moment. Besides, it made her feel in control, a feeling she lived for.
Kim was about to respond to Dr. Director’s inquiry when she heard a humming noise from behind her and her lower back began to tingle as if to warn her and she pushed against her restraints to arch her back and extend herself fully. The one-eyed woman continued her monologue.
“The machine works by sending electrical impulses through needles that attach to the nerves in your spine,” she spoke to that invisible audience, and Kim let out a small squeak as the needles dug their way into her spine, forcing her back onto the slab. “When we alternate the frequency, the prisoner will feel anything from pleasure,” she rotated the dial and endorphins shot through Kim’s system, forcing her to smile. She quickly frowned when she realized that smile was not her own. “To discomfort,” Dr. Director continued, rotating the dial another quarter turn, causing Kim to stiffen as her joints locked and her jaw clenched, the muscles in her body temporarily paralyzed. “To agony,” the one-eyed woman finished, rotating the dial once more, tearing a scream from Kim’s body as thousands of volts of electricity coursed through her body, causing her heart rate to rise to 120 bpm.
The monitor recorded each accelerated beat of her heart and the display showed that she actually skipped a few beats. The only thing louder than the monitor was the agonized howl that forced its way from Kim’s lungs. After what seemed like an eternity, Dr. Director flipped the dial back to zero, and Kim collapsed on the metal slab that was now warm with the energy from the electric current. Kim gasped for a few moments as a thin line of drool slid down her cheek. Her body was drenched in a fresh coat of sweat. Recovering, she spat on the steel floor and gritted her teeth, turning her face to her captor. The one-eyed woman smirked.
“I didn’t expect you to scream so soon, Kimberly,” she mocked. “We’ve only just begun.”
“I wasn’t expecting it,” Kim growled through clenched teeth. “If I’d had time to brace myself for it I would have been able to stop from screaming.”
“Okay then,” Dr. Director riposted in an amused tone. “Brace yourself for this.” She punctuated that last word by twisting the dial past its previous maximum, but this time the redhead clenched her jaw and let out an extended grunt as sparks danced across her exposed teeth, the sphincters in her neck locking into place and her eyelids clamped shut. But as soon as she managed to reach equilibrium Dr. Director twisted the dial yet again, forcing another scream from the sweat-soaked body of her captive. Taking that as her cue, she switched the machine off once more.
“You’re resisting too much, Kimberly,” the one-eyed woman scolded. “By trying to fight the pain you’re only making it worse. Embrace the current and let it pass through you. If you don’t offer any resistance, it won’t hurt nearly as much.”
Kim raised her now bloodshot eyes to gaze at the woman who dared tell her what she was doing wrong when she could end this at any time. “No,” she rasped. “Giving into the pain means giving into you. I’ll keep fighting it until one of us breaks.”
“Defiant to the last,” Dr. Director commented with mock sadness, shaking her head in disapproval. “Very well.” Her hand rotated the dial once again, and Kim’s tortured screams could be faintly heard through the supposedly soundproof door that served as the entrance to this private sector of hell.
Ron let out a deep sigh as his eyes peeled open and the blue glow gave way to chocolate brown pupils. He had been using his Mystical Monkey Power to check on Kim, and it didn’t look good. The green woman next to him had stopped crying and was now watching him with anticipation, eager for good news.
“Well?” she asked nervously, the uncertainty evident in her worried eyes.
Ron dropped his head. “She’s being tortured,” he whispered, attempting to hold back the tears that came flowing out anyway, dripping down onto the invisible floor.
Shego, on the other hand, was done with crying. She stood up and stamped her feet in rage. “That bitch!” she screamed. “I’m going to fucking kill her when I wake up!”
Drying the tears from his eyes, Ron slid his legs out of the lotus position and stood to his feet. “No,” he said as though it was an order. “You can’t. You’ll end up getting both of you killed. We both agreed that your powers need at least a month to recharge after she stole them from you. Your healing ability is the only reason you’re still alive. You can’t push it any further.”
“And I thought I hated it when Princess was right,” Shego spat, using the sidekick as the scapegoat for all this. “But you make me so angry I wanna—”
“Ah.” Ron raised his hand in the air to stop her. “Remember, he’s watching.” His index finger extended upwards, indicating the general direction associated with heaven.
Shego cursed under her breath as she locked her elbows and stomped her foot. She crossed her arms and spoke. “So what am I supposed to do once I get out?”
“Disappear for a while,” Ron answered. “Let your powers recharge and then come back for Kim. With any luck she’ll make it through this and come out of it stronger than ever.”
Shego gulped. “And what if she doesn’t?”
Ron sighed and dipped his head. “Try not to think about it,” he encouraged her placing a hand on the green woman’s shoulder… “Since when has it ever been smart to bet against KP? Just focus on your part and you two will meet again. I promise.”
“I guess you’re right,” Shego admitted softly, bowing her own head. “She’s always come through before, even when that’s what I didn’t want her to do.” She raised her face to make eye contact with the blond. “You know, you’re not half bad. It… means a lot that you’re not freaking out over this. One less thing to worry about.”
“I only want what’s best for Kim,” Ron humbly replied, his hand still on the green woman’s shoulder. “Right now that’s you. I have more than I ever dreamed of in heaven. It’s a wonderful place. It… I can’t even describe it. But it’s a place where nothing else matters, where suffering is impossible, where all that matters is the fact that you’re free, truly free, and nothing can take that freedom away.” Shego’s eyes sparkled as tears formed. No more suffering… that sounded nice. Freedom… that sounded even better.
“So then why make the Earth at all?” Shego asked. “Why make people suffer when it’s possible to create a place where they don’t?”
“That’s one you’ll have to take up with the big guy,” Ron replied, gesturing upwards. “It’s way out of my league. All I’ll say is that, if you find true love, that’s as close to heaven as you’ll get on Earth. And until it’s your time, you should be happy with that. Even if I’m not there with her, I… I want Kim to experience that heaven. To get her away from the hell she’s in now. But she has to go through that hell to appreciate heaven. Maybe that’s why God created suffering. So that he could promise us a place where it doesn’t happen, and that would be enough of an incentive to follow him.”
Shego blinked a couple of times as she tried to digest what Stoppable had just told her. “I guess this means I can’t call you ‘buffoon’ anymore, does it?” she finally managed to joke.
“Nope,” Ron confirmed, dropping his hand from the green woman’s shoulder.
Shego sighed and dropped to the floor again resting the underside of her biceps on her knees, joining her hands in the middle of the gap that separated her legs. Ron followed suit by bending his knees, placing one palm on the ground before plopping firmly on his backside. He made a small “oof” as he landed and sat up with his right leg outstretched and his left drawn closer to his body, using it as an armrest for his left arm. The two sidekicks looked at each other before Shego finally spoke.
“Will I ever see her again?” she asked worriedly, seeking reassurance. Her emerald eyes were soft, and her face carried no malice. Her soul was out in the open, and Shego had allowed herself to become completely vulnerable.
Ron returned the gaze with a pair of confident eyes that erased all doubt. They penetrated Shego’s soul, and for the second time in her life—the first being with Kim—Shego found herself completely comfortable in the presence of one who could completely crush her soul if they wanted to, but chose not to out of innate compassion. No wonder Kim had loved him. He always knew just what to say.
Peering straight into the soul of the green woman, Ron’s lips formed one word. “Yes.”
Shego’s face lit up, but Ron was not finished. “Yes, you will see her again, but only if you do as I tell you. You have to let her work through this on her own.”
Shego dipped her head and cursed silently to herself. She raised her eyes once more to look upon the blond. “Can I at least say goodbye?”
At this, Ron raised his finger. “One second,” he spoke before closing his eyes. A faint blue glow emanated from behind his eyelids, and Shego realized he was using his sight once again. She considered this for a moment.
Shego had done a little studying of mystical monkey power after a chance encounter with Monkey Fist led to more than a few annoying injuries. Apparently the sight allowed Ron to see far off places. She had also read that he had the ability to share this sight. She thought about it for a second, then decided it was her last chance to see Kim before she woke up and had to abandon the redhead without saying goodbye. She reached out and tapped him on the shoulder. “Hey! Monkey boy!”
Ron’s eyes opened and the glow faded. “What?” he asked.
“I want to see Kimmie one more time before I wake up,” she practically begged.
“Are you sure?” Ron asked. “She’s not exactly out of danger at the moment. You might see some stuff you don’t want to.”
“I’ve seen a lot of disturbing stuff in my day, Stoppable. Now can you share that mystical monkey sight thing or what?”
“Well, I haven’t quite mastered it, but yeah,” the blond admitted.
“Good,” Shego said. “Now show me Kimmie before I rip you a new one!”
“Okay,” Ron sighed. “But you can’t say you weren’t warned. Kim’s being tortured right now, and now that you love her, it… it may be too much for you to handle.”
“I know,” Shego breathed as she lowered her head. “But it’s my last chance to see her. I wanna say goodbye.”
“Alright,” Ron spoke up, gripping the green woman’s hand and closing his eyes. “This is going to feel a little weird.”
Shego closed her eyes and focused as well. Suddenly she felt something tickle. It started small, beginning at her hand and snaking around her arm, much like her plasma powers did. Shego assumed this was the mystical monkey power. It actually felt sort of good, like a cool breeze. But that only lasted a few moments.
Pain! Suddenly Shego felt her body engulfed in a white-hot sensation. She felt like her own powers had turned against her. Searing, blinding pain! She couldn’t stand it any longer! Opening her mouth, Shego let out a bloodcurdling scream.
Kim’s scream climaxed and ended in a hoarse gasp followed by several heaving breaths as the electric current left her and her body slackened, slowly asphyxiating her as she struggled to keep her elbows no more than a couple inches above her shoulders. It felt like being crucified, only worse. Her relief was short lived when the current caused her to tense up yet again, the strain evident on her face. Sweat oozed from her pores and caused her naked, unprotected body to glisten in the fluorescent light. A strained groan escaped her lips as she tried not to cry out in agony, but once again a scream was ripped from her quickly tiring body. Kim had never felt so helpless in her entire life. She had lost track of time, but one of the guards would announce whenever an hour had passed. He had made the announcement three times.
The current dissipated once more and Kim’s entire body went limp, her hair an electrocuted mess and a river of drool flowing from a mouth that had forgotten how to swallow. Choked sobs formed her breaths as she hiccupped pathetically. Her raspy breathing seemed to go unnoticed by Dr. Director, who continued to operate the machine, every once in a while interjecting a comment such as, “It’s for your own good, Kimberly,” or “Stop resisting and the pain won’t be as hard to endure.”
Eventually these comments had changed to taunts like, “You can do anything, huh? Except tolerate pain!” The taunts would be followed by a surge of electricity that held a slightly greater charge than the last, then it would end and the cycle would begin all over again. Time lost all meaning as Kim lost herself in the steady mixture of pain and insults. Eventually everything became a matter of bracing for the shock and shrugging off the insults, but she couldn’t ignore them too much as she wouldn’t know when to expect the shock otherwise. Sometimes Dr. Director would change the rhythm of the taunts and the shocks just to screw with her hapless victim. But Kim still resisted, and though her eyelids hung half open and the tongue that had lost all feeling was like cotton in her dry mouth, she still managed to defy the one-eyed woman by staying conscious. It was a contest to see who would break first. Kim was losing badly.
Eventually Dr. Director realized the futility of the physical approach. Kim would keep resisting, and she would die before she broke. Dr. Director decided to switch tactics and do what she did best: target Kim’s mind.
“You know, we’re not all that different,” the one-eyed woman asserted, causing Kim to look up at her with one eye half closed, the other completely shut. Mucus ebbed from her nose and her auburn hair was frayed and slightly charred from the heat that the electricity converted to before dissipating. A line of drool dribbled down her chin. Her heart threatened to leap from her chest. Kim’s entire body glowed with sweat that showed just how dehydrated she was. But she still managed to answer back.
“Oh yeah?” She heaved. “How’s that?”
“We both live for one thing, Kimberly. Do you know what that is?” Kim feebly shook her head no. “Control,” the Head of GJ spoke in response to her own question. Kim gave up trying to hold her head up and went limp, her body swaying a few times before asphyxiation forced her to once again push against her restraints.
“I doubt that,” she gasped, her need for water so great it was a wonder she hadn’t passed out yet. But the redhead had an iron resolve that would not be broken. Or so she hoped.
“Really, Kimberly?” Dr. Director drawled on, ignoring the fact that her prisoner was literally dying of thirst. “I beg to differ. You were on every committee in school, you always called the shots on your missions, and do you remember what happened when you first met Agent Du?” Kim barely managed to shake her head. “You were so obsessed with defending your precious title of Captain of the Cheerleading Squad that you failed to notice the irony of your situation. For you see, it was your desire to be in charge that drove the success of the mission, not your lack of any ability to cooperate. And because of this you are no different than me.”
“You know, Shego said the same thing,” Kim rasped before producing a sound that Dr. Director figured was either a chuckle or a cough, maybe both. “You want me to fuck you too?” she jested, letting the one-eyed woman know she was not afraid of her. Instead of scowling, Dr. Director flashed the redhead a twisted smile.
“Ah yes, the green bitch,” she commented, earning a half-hearted attempt at a growl from Kim. “You know, I never understood how two people as different as you could end up together. It defies all logic, not to mention the laws of nature.”
“It’s something you’ll never understand,” Kim whispered hoarsely, her need for water so great that she could hardly see. She coughed violently, and Dr. Director snapped her fingers, which one of the guards interpreted as a signal to get the tortured redhead some water. He returned momentarily with a glass full of the clear liquid and handed it to the one-eyed woman before returning to his post, casting a look of sympathy on Kim before he left.
Watching this was hurting him, and every fiber of his being told him that this was wrong; that Dr. Director should just stop before Kim died. But orders were orders, and he had to follow them. He cursed himself for lacking the courage to bust out the woman who had saved his family and inspired him to join GJ. Back then he had believed in his ideals; in justice. But this wasn’t justice. This was control. He knew he was too far in to back out now, and Kim’s resistance gave him hope. If she succeeded, that would mean freedom for himself and the rest of the agents who had been duped by Betty Director but were too scared to act. The look he gave her said, “We’re counting on you.”
All of this went unnoticed by the two women, who at the moment were locked in a duel of the mind. Neither would yield, but one held the advantage, while the other just refused to surrender or accept any offer from the other side. It was very tempting, though.
The clear liquid caught Kim’s eye, and she lazily followed it as Dr. Director moved it in front of her, teasing her; tempting her; enticing her to submit. But she could not; she would not. She had to remain strong. But it was just a cup of water. One more thing to keep her alive longer so that she could resist Dr. Director’s torture. Her body cried out for the life-giving substance, but her mind was slow to act. She leaned forward ever so slightly, pushing against her restraints with all the strength she could muster, in dire need of the water just inches from her face.
Dr. Director stopped her teasing and placed her finger under Kim’s drool and sweat covered chin. “You’ve forgotten how to swallow,” she explained as she tilted the younger woman’s head upwards, “so I know this is going to be painful, but just try not to choke.” With that, she tipped the glass and the clear liquid succumbed to gravity, allowing the irrevocable law of nature to propel it downwards into the mouth of the one who secretly desired it, but would never admit it, stopping it in her throat and involuntarily spitting it all out, splattering it all over Dr. Director, who simply tilted Kim’s head back once more and poured it down the hatch again.
She met with the same result every time until the glass was empty. “Okay, so you don’t want my little gift. Your fortitude is impressive. Or, are you just too weak to try and swallow?” she taunted, provoking the redhead in hopes of a response. Kim just hung there, too exhausted to think up a retort. Dr. Director growled and twisted the dial, shocking the younger woman to attention. She snapped her fingers once again, and the guard ran off to refill the water.
The one-eyed woman gripped Kim’s chin and slapped the redhead’s face with the back of her hand, causing a stream of bloody spit to fly out and splat against the steel floor. Kim’s head simply bobbed as she made no attempt to hold it upright. She wanted to resist, but her body refused. She needed to rest; to recover. But Dr. Director had other ideas.
“Answer me!” the one-eyed woman demanded as the back of her hand collided with Kim’s cheek once more, reddening the face of her prisoner. The redhead’s only response was to look at her with half-closed, bloodshot eyes, on the verge of passing out. A parched moan escaped her lips, betraying her desperate thirst. At this time the guard returned with the water. Dr. Director tilted Kim’s head upwards once more, pinching the redhead’s nostrils shut and forcing the liquid down her throat. Kim gurgled and coughed, but the water kept coming, blocking her oxygen supply. She needed to remove the obstruction in order to breathe.
Setting the glass down, Dr. Director clamped the mouth of her captive shut. “Swallow!” she ordered.
Kim had forgotten how. Her system was in such shock from the electricity that her esophagus refused to respond. She was drowning. The rest of her body convulsed, trying to break free so that she could breathe. But there was only one way out of this. She had to swallow. But even if she could, that would mean submitting to her captor. And Kim did not want that.
A solitary droplet broke through and trickled down the back of her throat, soothing the raw and damaged tissue. It felt so cool; so refreshing, and Kim could not hold out any longer. She opened her throat and the water flooded down her esophagus, huge gulps causing a bulge in the redhead’s neck as she downed the entire mouthful of liquid. The fingers released her nose and the redhead let out an involuntary sigh. A scowl developed on her face.
“Do you see how much easier it is when you submit?” Dr. Director sneered, celebrating her little victory. She was making progress.
“I only swallowed because I had no other choice,” Kim protested, her voice less hoarse than before and nearly restored to its previous level of clarity. “Besides,” she giggled, “this only means I can resist you longer.” Her voice was filled with false bravado, putting on a defiant show and refusing to let Dr. Director know she was close to giving in just to stop the pain.
A wicked grin flashed across the one-eyed woman’s face. “Good then, we still have plenty of time to play. Hopefully you won’t resist this time. After all, you know how… painful that can get.”
“I can handle it,” Kim insisted, filled with new life and ready to take whatever Dr. Director threw at her. Adrenaline pumped through her veins and in that instant, Kim felt as though she could truly do anything. But the only response she received was another mocking chuckle from Dr. Director.
“You know,” the one-eyed woman spoke in a bemused tone, “this is more fun than I thought it would be. You see, I’ve been torturing you long enough to break anybody else on my staff, and yet you act like we haven’t even started. A most worthy challenge indeed.”
“Well what can I say, I’ve always kept a cool head under pressure.” She paused, taking note of the cackle that emanated from Dr. Director’s mouth. “Which is more than I can say for you.”
Dr. Director continued to laugh, her emotionless façade slipping away and slowly being replaced with madness. To Kim’s horror, she actually seemed to be enjoying this. Not a good sign. Still, this might work to her advantage. After all, taking down crazies with delusions of grandeur was her specialty. But she had never encountered a sadist. It seemed Dr. Director’s love for control knew no bounds. She would go to any lengths to force someone to submit to her will. That could be a problem. Hell, it already was.
“Are you planning to torture my eardrums with your incessant laughing?” Kim asked sarcastically. “Because after years of dealing with Drakken, I’m kind of immune.”
Sobering quickly, Dr. Director set her features once more and moved towards the console. A slight giggle escaped her lips and she spoke up with an amused sigh. “I’m sorry,” she breathed. “It’s just that I got so carried away with shocking you I forgot about the other capabilities of the machine.” A mad cackle burst forth from her lungs yet again and Kim began to question Dr. Director’s sanity. She gulped.
“Other capabilities?” she almost whispered, a notable trace of uncertainty in her voice.
The laughter ceased, but the faint shadows of a smile still remained on Dr. Director’s face. “You recall that the needles are attached to the nerves on your spine, correct?”
Kim nodded, a look of worry etched on her face.
“Well, do you know how pain signals are sent through your body?”
Kim shook her head, too frightened to think straight. Dr. Director’s hands neared the keyboard, and Kim’s muscles tensed. Her breaths shortened and became shallower, almost to the point of wheezing. Sweat beaded on her forehead, stinging her eyes as the salty water massed on her skin and trickled down past her eyebrows, following the curvature of her nose before dropping on her lips, where the young woman’s tongue shot out like a snake and pulled it into her mouth. She curled her lower lip and kneaded it with her upper teeth. She closed her eyes and waited for the pain.
“Well,” Dr. Director continued, noticing that Kim’s heart rate had risen after her last remark, “the central nervous system operates on a complex set of firing neurons that communicate with each other through electrical impulses. Through the miracle of modern technology, we have been able to program in complex algorithms of electrical signals that can mimic specific sensations.” Kim’s eyes widened at that remark. “For example, when I enter this string of commands,” her fingers tapped away at the keyboard, and Kim stifled a cry as an intense pressure developed on her left side. “It feels like I’m squeezing your ribs, doesn’t it?” the one-eyed woman finished.
Kim nodded, her eyes clamped shut and her teeth gritted under her tightly sealed lips. She looked constipated.
Dr. Director entered another series of keystrokes and the pain dissipated, allowing Kim to breathe a sigh of relief. “That felt so real,” she commented.
“It was real,” the one-eyed woman replied, her hands leaving the keyboard for a moment as she turned around to address her prisoner. “At least in the sense that real is electrical signals interpreted by your brain.”
“Wasn’t that in a movie somewhere?” Kim remarked.
“I don’t watch movies,” the Head of GJ answered flatly. “But I do read. Descartes’ ‘Malicious Demon’ argument adapted to become the ‘Brain in the Jar’ analogy is really quite fascinating. It actually applies to this situation.” Kim tilted her head and quirked her eyebrow at this statement. “The pain is only in your head,” Dr. Director explained, pressing a finger to her temple. “But the mind is easily deceived and the body will respond accordingly, whether what it feels is actually happening or not.”
“So I can cancel out the pain by reminding myself that it’s not real?” Kim surmised.
“Well, you theoretically could,” the one-eyed woman replied, “but I’ve yet to see anyone achieve it.” She typed in another string of commands and Kim braced herself. “Have you ever wondered what it feels like to have your fingers cut off? One,” Kim stifled the urge to scream as her mind insisted that her index finger had just been hacked off, “by one,” Now her middle finger was dismembered, “by one,” Dr. Director finished her remark as her captive yelped with pain, curling her fingers to confirm that they were still attached.
‘It’s not real, it’s not real, it’s not real,’ Kim reminded herself, trying her hardest to ignore the sensation of her digits being hacked off. But it was futile. The device attached to her back overrode her central nervous system and informed her body that it was sustaining damage, and the pain intensified as one by one Kim lost her fingers, despite the fact that when she looked up they were still attached to her hand.
As suddenly as it had come, the pain was gone, and Kim breathed a sigh of relief. Her respite was short-lived, however, as the rapid series of taps and clicks confirmed that another string of commands had been entered. She gulped.
“What’s going to happen now?” Kim squeaked, terrified.
“You’ll see,” the one-eyed woman replied, not even bothering to face her victim, preferring instead to watch the beat of her heart accelerate in nervous anticipation. She didn’t know where or when the pain would strike, which forced her to remain on edge, bracing her entire body for the agony that was sure to come. Her muscles burned as she flexed each and every one, tightening her facial features and locking her joints, pushing full force against her restraints. She wished it would just happen, wished that the pain would come so that she need not fear it. Her paranoia worsened with each passing second. Her heart threatened to explode, and the incessant beeping of the monitor was slowly driving her insane. Eventually her strained muscles could not hold out any longer and her body slackened.
“It’s not coming, is it?” the redhead sighed, allowing herself to relax. “That was just to fuck with my head, right?”
Dr. Director turned her head slightly, enough to peer over her shoulder while still not showing her face. She chuckled. “Wrong,” she answered as she pressed the final key.
Nothing happened for a moment. Kim’s heart skipped a beat, causing the monitor to fall silent for a split second. In that instant, a bead of sweat dropped to the floor, and all the ears in the room heard the faint “plip” as it struck the metallic floor. Time stood still, and Kim held her breath. Then all hell broke loose.
Kim felt what she was sure was a bullet rip into her chest, causing her confused body to ripple and convulse from the imagined impact. Another struck her in the leg, and the redhead yelped in pain. A third strike impacted her stomach, and blood spewed from her mouth onto the monitor that recorded her heart rate, which had accelerated to 160 beats per minute. Screams were ripped forcefully from Kim’s body with each simulated bullet, her body unable to tell the difference and her mind unable to convince it otherwise. She struggled like an animal against her restraints. Blood poured down her chin onto her chest, spraying wildly around the room as her body shook with convulsions. One of the guards turned away and deposited his last meal on the floor at the sight. Dr. Director, however, gazed at her suffering prisoner with the face of an axe murderer.
Kim felt herself beginning to lose consciousness. Blood began to run from her nose as well as her mouth, draining her body of its most precious resource and producing a light-headed feeling in the redhead. The monitor blared like a siren as Kim’s heart rate rose to 180 bpm, her body in full-blown panic mode. Time seemed to slow as she made eye contact with Dr. Director.
Then her heart stopped.
“NO!” Shego screamed as she broke the connection and stood to her feet. “She’s not supposed to die!” She leveled her finger accusingly at Stoppable. “You said she was supposed to live!”
Ron remained seated in the lotus position. His eyes were still closed, and no words came from his usually chatty lips. He seemed to be ignoring Shego.
“Answer me, you damned buffoon!” the green woman screeched. Is Princess gonna live or die?”
Again, no answer. Shego dropped to her knees, tears forming in her emerald eyes. “Please, tell me,” she blubbered.
Ron’s eyes opened and a bright blue emanated from his sockets. “It’s time to go,” he spoke solemnly.
“What? No!” Shego screamed as she noticed the world around her began to dematerialize. She was waking up. “Tell me damn it! Does Kimmie live or die?”
“Take care, Shego,” Ron’s voice echoed before he disappeared. Now Shego was all alone. Chunks of white broke off and were replaced with darkness. Shego let out one final cry of desperation.
In the GJ Forensics Lab, a set of emerald eyes snapped open. Shego grabbed the collar of Dr. Wade Load and brought her face inches away from his. Her mouth opened and she demanded one thing of the supergenius.
“GET ME THE HELL OUT OF HERE!”
And there you have it folks. The result of a plot bunny gone wild. I originally only intended for this to be around 8,000 words, but I was off by around 7,000. I hope you can fight the urge to lynch me after that evil cliffie, but I had to stop somewhere. I’m almost done with this tale of mine, and I’d like to thank all the folks over at Slash Haven, particularly Hobnobrev, King in Yellow and Apopstis for helping me to get the torture right. If all goes according to plan, I should be getting reviews claiming I made people cringe, as was my intention. This thing is rated M for a reason. Only one more chapter and an epilogue left to go and then I’m done with this baby. Thanks to everyone for their support. Without you guys I’d just be rambling to myself. Please read and review. No flames, please.