'Of course I real.' said the Mystical Monkey, getting down from his seat and sauntering over towards Kim with a lumbering gait. 'How 'bout you, Red? Are you for real? Huh? Are you? Are you?' He started poking at her with his staff, jabbing her in the ribs and knocking her softly on the head. Kim flinched and fended him off for a few moments before he stopped poking. 'Ok, so we both know we real now.' he said at last. 'You came here to talk with me. So what's on your mind?'
Kim dredged the mission details back into her brain, fighting through her surprise. 'Sensei told me I should come to you for wisdom.' she said.
'Yeah, Sensei....' said the Mystical Monkey, rubbing his chin. 'He nice guy. Good fashion sense.'
'I need to know how to save Ron.' she said, but then stopped abruptly, wondering if the Mystical Monkey even knew who Ron was. The words Chosen One and Ron just didn't seem to go together in her mind, but they sounded more mystical and formal. 'The Chosen One.' she went on. 'Can you help me?'
'Mmmm.' said the Mystical Monkey. 'I could help. Thing is, you not the Chosen One. I wouldn't talk to you at all, but you very close to the Chosen One. He think about you all the time.'
'He does?' said Kim, feeling a rush of happiness at the thought.
'Yeah, it kinda boring,' said the Mystical Monkey, shrugging his robed shoulders. 'Like watching the same movie over and over again. But you mean a lot to him, so I come when you call.'
'Then... you'll help me?' she said, her heart pounding with wild hope.
'Hey, I don't just give my wisdom away, red!' said the Mystical Monkey, shaking a long, knobby finger. 'There will be a price.'
Kim frowned. She remembered that Grimm said the Great Bear had demanded a price from him in exchange for his strength - and that price had weakened him. She braced herself, thinking of Ron. 'Name it.' she said.
The Mystical Monkey stared at her. 'Nacos.' he said.
'What?' said Kim, baffled.
'The Chosen One - he always want to eat Nacos. All the time it 'naco naco naco'! I just wanna see what all the fuss is about!'
Kim stood dithering. 'Uh...' she said, realizing how stupid she sounded. 'I... don't have any here.' she said.
The Mystical Monkey waved at her dismissively. 'That my price, red. You make with the Nacos, then we talk!' He turned and tottered back towards the bhudda statue, walking around behind as if he were going to circle around it.
Kim rushed forward after him. 'Wait!' she called, rounding the statue. 'How do I....?'
But she stopped abruptly. In the brief instant in which the Mystical Monkey had passed out of her line of sight, he had disappeared. She leaned back and forth, checking both sides of the statue, but he was gone.
Kim emerged from the dojo and stepped blindly down the stairs, a dazed look on her face. Sensei was there, and he stared at her curiously. 'Kim Possible.' he said in his deep, soothing voice. 'What has happened? Have you made contact with the Mystical Monkey?'
Kim shook her head, seeming to come to herself. 'Y...yes.' she said.
Sensei nodded. 'And... what did he tell you?'
Kim looked bewildered, running a hand across her forehead. 'He... wants Nacos.' she said.
To her surprise, Sensei actually chuckled softly. 'I see he has not changed.' he said. 'When I first communed with the Mystical Monkey in my youth, he wanted me to bring him rice cakes before he would share his wisdom.'
Kim shook her head. 'But there isn't a Bueno Nacho anywhere near Yamanouchi.' said Kim. 'By the time we got to one, made the order and hiked back they'd be stone cold. And when do they even open in Japan?'
'Do not fear, Kim Possible.' said Sensei, and he snapped his fingers. Two black-clad ninja appeared as if from nowhere, kneeling behind Sensei with their heads bowed. Sensei turned and nodded to them slightly. They nodded back, and then seemed to vanish as quickly as they'd appeared. He turned back to Kim. 'The entire resources of the Yamanouchi School are at your disposal in this matter. You will find a helicopter behind the rear courtyard, and it will be manned with pilots who will aid you in your noble quest... for Nacos.'
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Inside the hidden mountain lair, Dr. Drakken directed a small army. The labors were now moving fast. With the destruction of the Ubergolem, a number of the golems who had sculpted it were now free, and had swelled the numbers working on construction of the full sized Ultra-Atmospheric Jammer.
He even managed to settle into a routine which seemed to be working well - having the golems do the heavy lifting and metal bending for a while, and then making them back off so he could go in and do the fine-tuning, in addition to adding the circuitry, wiring and components. He felt for a while as if he were back in control of the Cupcake factories, with his henchmen working efficiently for a change.
Though the thought made him pause for a second. He'd been gone from his own lair for days now. As reliable and loyal as his henchmen normally were, he suspected they had all abandoned the lair - and assuming they'd left the front door unlocked, he was sure to have a big mess to clean up when he got back..
And that also made him wonder. When would he be allowed back? Maze and Monkey Fist now had him working full bore on the Jammer, and they seemed to have given him free reign - though he was sure they had ordered Shegolem to keep an eye on him. With no communication allowed, and under the sleepless watch of the golems, he felt more like a captive than a partner.
He sniffed at their arrogance - they weren't even there watching over his efforts. They had taken a small number of golems and were engaged in what they said was 'another project'. But as far as Drakken had observed, this project had none of the scale or grandeur of the Ubergolem. They had simply been stacking boxes filled with massive numbers of small spikes like nails with the heads clipped off - millions of them.
And they had been using the computer monitors and Maze's shadow passages to transport these boxes. He'd caught glimpses on the monitors of several major cities across the world - Paris, Moscow, Washington, Peking and hundreds of others. Sometimes they had used the mini-Jammer, but always they had double-checked with Dr. Drakken to make sure that it was powered low enough to avoid detection by Wade. He caught occasional mutters between them about 'global saturation', and 'strategic locations', but nothing that led him towards any clear idea what their plan was.
He thought back to his own plan with the Diablo robots - and all the little parts of that plan which Shego had put up on a computer screen in an effort to try and guess his ultimate intentions. And he tried to apply the same reasoning while he worked on the full size Jammer.
'Once the big Jammer is done, they can use it to take control of the world's satellites,' he thought as he welded parts and equipment in place on the superstructure of the Jammer. 'The threat of a global network outage would be enough to make a number of countries surrender... But what's with the nails then? Are they setting up little antennae all over the place to boost the Jammer's signals? So they can use Monkey Fist's petrifying gimmick against larger targets? No, they haven't taken long enough on any of their jaunts to do more than just dump the boxes and leave. Curious.... What's their final game I wonder?'
Maze and Monkey Fist had promised him 'a place in the new world order' once their plan was finished. But if the caper so far was any indication, the new world order was going to be horribly boring.
Drakken glowered. There was just something missing from all this. Where was the banter, the insults? Where was the fun? And he glanced aside to look at Shego, who stood rigid and silent, waiting for orders. He sighed, shook his head, and lowered the visor on his welding mask before returning to work.
Part IV: The Fate That Launched A Thousand Chips
It was the most mundane and therefore the weirdest 'quest' Kim had ever been on. The black helicopter had flown Kim swiftly through the afternoon sky to the nearest city and landed in the middle of the street in front of a Bueno Nacho restaurant, much to the amazement of passing pedestrians who gawked from the sidewalks.
Kim, feeling very conspicuous, entered Bueno Nacho to make her order. The attendants in the restaurant stared out more at the helicopter than they had at her, and numbly handed Kim her order after she had haltingly pointed to various items on the backlit menu behind the counter. She gave them what she hoped was enough money, and returned to the copter, which sped her back up into the air.
She clutched the warm bag and the cold soda caddy through the flight, a thousand doubts swirling in her mind. She usually ordered salad, so she wasn't sure what kind of Naco the Mystical Monkey would want. In the end, she had simply picked a triple order of what Ron normally ate, and hoped it would be sufficient.
She had changed back into her mission clothes for the 'quest', and didn't know if she should change back before returning to the dojo. As long as it took her to get into the kimono, she figured she shouldn't waste any time changing lest the Nacos get stale.
At Sensei's encouraging nod, Kim went back into the dojo alone. The still atmosphere hadn't changed with it's tinkling chimes. The frosted window panels which had glowed white in the morning were now deepening to yellow. She looked around, but there was no sign of the Mystical Monkey.
'Hello?' she called out. Nothing happened. She walked in further, looking behind the bhudda statue, seeing nothing shadows. 'Hello?' she called out again, a little louder.
'What you looking for, red?' came a squeaky voice, and the Mystical Monkey was peering around her from behind, looking where she was looking.
Kim yelped and jumped, and the Mystical Monkey did so as well. 'Why you always yell like that, red?' he said, backing away from her slowly. 'What's wrong wit' you?'
Kim sighed, letting her heartbeat slow down a moment before answering. 'Great Mystical Monkey,' she said, still unsure of how formal she was supposed to act in front of him. 'I have returned from my quest and...'
'Yeah, yeah, yeah, long time no see.' said the Mystical Monkey, waving his hand impatiently. 'You got the stuff?'
Kim held out the bag as she approached him. The Mystical Monkey sniffed and his face brightened. 'Smell good!' he said, as Kim opened the bag and handed him a Naco. The Mystical Monkey opened the wrapper and breathed deeply. 'Mmmm!' he hummed, then he unwrapped it completely. 'Hey, it fits right in your palm!' he squeaked excitedly. Then he nibbled a crisp corner. He smacked his lips for a moment, then took a full sized bite. Then he was stuffing the Naco into his face eagerly, spilling crumbs and some tomato chunks onto the floor. Once finished, he licked his empty palm. 'You got more?' he said, and Kim handed him the bag. The Mystical Monkey plunged his hand into the bag and took out another wrapped Naco. 'Ooooh, gimmegimmegimmegimme!' he cackled.
Kim watched as he devoured another Naco, the sound of crunching and smacking mixed in weirdly with the tinkling bells of the dojo. At last, the Mystical Monkey slowed down, and was waving a hand at his throat. Kim guessed why and took the soda out of the cardboard carrying case, handing it to him. 'I wasn't sure what kind you like....' she said, but the Mystical Monkey was chugging eagerly through the straw. He paused a moment.
'Ooooh, and it bubbles on the tongue - that is so cool!' he slurped loudly, then paused again, looking up at Kim. 'Oh yeah, I forgot, I supposed to be dignified - hold on a second!' He lurched to the statue and sat back down in the lotus position, with the Naco bag on one side of his knees and the soda cup on the other.
He cleared his throat and closed his eyes. 'Ok.' he said, putting his hands up with his fingers curled in a meditating position. 'Your offering has pleased the Mystical Monkey....' he said, his voice now sounding mysterious and sage. 'You may approach with your questions.'
Kim stepped forward and, not knowing if she should kneel or not, she got down on one knee, bowing her head for good measure. 'Great Mystical Monkey....' she said.
'Present!' said the Mystical Monkey, reaching for the soda glass and taking another loud slurp.
'I seek to rescue Ron Stoppable - your Chosen One - from the spirit realm. Will you help me?'
The Mystical Monkey pursed his lips, staring at her and tapping his chin. 'I think I can help.' he said, nodding.
Kim felt elated. If this weird monkey could actually bring him back it would all be worth it. 'Thank you!' she said. 'You're the greatest!'
'Hey, don't thank me yet, red!' said the Mystical Monkey. 'I said I think I can help! There a difference.'
'Well... is there anything you need from me?' said Kim.
The Mystical Monkey kept staring at her as if sizing her up. 'Actually, yeah.' he said. 'But this not gonna be easy. Gonna take time to set up....' He picked up the last Naco and stuffed it greedily into his mouth, munching hard for a few seconds, then he washed it down with a pull at the soda straw. 'OK - come back tomorrow morning red. We start early.'
Kim was taken aback by the abrupt dismissal. She got up and moved toward the dojo exit, then paused and looked back. 'Should I do anything to prepare?' she said uncertainly. 'Like... meditate or something?'
The Mystical Monkey had gotten down from the statue, picking up the soda cup and shambling around the statue's side again. He seemed distracted, and surprised by Kim's question. 'Meditate?' he said, narrowing his bushy eyebrows. 'Yeah sure, why not?' Then he shrugged and disappeared behind the statue again, and Kim knew he had vanished.
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Later, Kim lay on the thin padded mattress on the floor of her room, listening to the night sounds which seemed to circle around the Yamanouchi School. The sound of the air stirring, the sound of leaves wafting in distant trees, and the occasional soft tread of a passing footstep. She had spent the rest of the day going over more scrolls in the library, and joining some of the students in training, just to keep her mind focused. She even managed to snatch her evening meal neatly from the grasp of the lunch lady ninja.
But her meeting with the Mystical Monkey remained in the back of her mind. She mulled over the experience, fighting her disappointment. Truth be told, she felt let down. This Mystical Monkey so far hadn't displayed much in the way of mystical powers. His unexpected appearances and disappearances didn't seem far beyond the skill of the other ninja students. True, she'd never seen a talking monkey before...
But she had thought, once the Mystical Monkey agreed to help, that he would wave his staff in the air with sparkling lights or something. And that Ron would reappear in the dojo, bemused and befuddled, but safe.
And he was supposed to be a mystical entity. Why would a mystic need time to prepare? And what was he preparing? As sleep crept closer, she resolved that whatever the Mystical Monkey had in store, she would be ready. 'I'm Kim Possible - and I can do anything!' she thought, 'Bring it on, monkey boy!'
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In the spirit world, Ron had seen both meetings and was wringing his hands. 'Monkeys!' he wailed. 'Why did it have to be monkeys?'
'Don't be such a baby.' said Rhonda, who was feeling a bit smug after being able to see Grimm pretty much the entire day. Granted, it made for a boring sight, watching him take flights to Japan and back, but it was still nice to just look at something that wasn't Ron or shadows. 'It's stupid to be scared of an animal like that.'
Ron had a sour look on his face, then pointed desperately behind Rhonda. 'Look out, a bear!' he shrieked.
Rhonda let out an ear-rending scream, throwing her hands over her head and cowering. Then she heard Ron's laughter and quickly got up with an equally sour glare. 'That wasn't funny!' she said. 'Besides, bears are scarier than monkeys - you never hear about people getting eaten by monkeys while they're out camping!'
'Come on, bears are more friendly looking! The National Forest mascot isn't 'Smokey the Monkey!'
'Oh yeah? Look at a bear's teeth - look at their claws! You think they just go around eating nothing but honey and berries?'
'Monkeys are scarier!' said Ron.
'Are not!' said Rhonda.
Unheeded by either, the darkness had deepened. The images of Kim and Grimm faded and disappeared. It wasn't until the shadows surrounded them like a smothering blanket that they seemed to notice. They both looked around in sudden silence, fear edging into their faces.
'Ok, ok...' said Rhonda, dropping back into a meditative sitting position. 'I get it - bad vibes....'
'Yeah.' said Ron, following her lead. He looked up around into the surrounding shadows with a nervous wave. 'Sorry about that, darkness dudes...'
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Kim had entered Toshimiru's dojo early that morning and found the Mystical Monkey waiting for her. Without speaking, he gestured to her and began walking in a clumsy, lurching saunter. He wobbled as he descended the steps, using his staff to steady himself while Kim followed.
The main courtyard was already full of students, busy with their morning training. Kim expected a lot of staring, but was surprised when no one, not even Sensei, turned to look at her. None of them looked at the Mystical Monkey either, even though he loudly clattered and tottered his way past, practically within arms' reach of the rope climbing station.
She tried waving at Hirotaka, who was walking by on the battlements doing patrols, but he didn't react in any way. She wondered if no one could see them - or if they were under orders from Master Sensei to ignore them.
They made their way into the sheltered rear courtyard, which seemed dimmer than the outer courtyards. This was partly because they were nearer to the uncarved section of the mountain which rose behind the school, and was lined with thick, leafy trees. And partly because the buildings in front of the rear courtyard blocked some of the sunlight which flooded the training areas.
This section seemed more devoted to meditation training than fighting. There was a rock garden, as well as a trickling waterfall. And near the back wall, there was a large stone fountain with a surrounding pool. There was no one else present.
The Mystical Monkey stopped by the edge of the fountain and turned to face her. 'OK red,' he said, cracking his knuckles and looking up at her intently. 'You want Chosen One back?'
'Yes.' said Kim firmly.
The Mystical Monkey paused and eyed her, as if he wasn't quite convinced. 'You do whatever it takes to get him back - no matter how tough?' he said, staring straight into her eyes.
'Yes.' said Kim.
'Are you ready to take the journey?' he said, pointing at her with one furry finger.
'Yes.' said Kim, starting to wonder how many times she would have to say it before he believed her.
'Are you ready to go the distance?' he said, clenching both his fists and shaking them.
'Yes!' said Kim, getting impatient.
'Are you ready to get your feet wet?' he shouted, dancing in place and waving his staff in the air above his head.
'Yes!' said Kim, trying to sound just as enthused as he did.
The Mystical Monkey hopped up onto the rim of the fountain, pointing his hand dramatically towards the horizon. 'Then follow me!!' he said loudly. Kim stared in amazement as he threw down his staff and jumped into the fountain, plunging into the water and moving through the pool towards a raised sculpture in the middle.
Eventually he paused and looked back at Kim. 'What you waiting for red?' he said. 'Feet wet! What I just say?'
Wondering how on Earth this was going to help, Kim gingerly stepped over the fountain rim and eased herself into the water, which rose up past her knees. The Mystical Monkey was in nearly to his shoulders, the parts of his robes which were submerged billowed under the water.
When she reached him, he sank nearly to his chin. 'Sit.' he said simply.
Kim winced, the cold mountain water biting her skin as she lowered herself to a sitting position. She caught her breath as the water rose past her stomach and to her chest. The Mystical Monkey was in up to his neck, his eyes were closed and he seemed to be meditating. Kim settled herself beside him, waiting.
At last he spoke again, and his voice had taken on a soothing, dream-like quality. 'In order to save Chosen One, you must learn to flow like water.' he said. 'Very important. Meditate with me, Kim Possible, and try to become one with the water....'
But all Kim felt was chilly. 'How?' she said, trying to stop her teeth from chattering.
'Relax...' came the squeaky, but soothing voice. 'Close your eyes. Focus on nothing but the water...'
Kim sighed and closed her eyes.
'Concentrate on the sound of the water....' the Mystical Monkey chanted. 'It's calm... it's peace. Feel how it flows... flowingly.... with it's wonderful, peaceful flowey-ness...'
Kim didn't 'feel' like water, she felt like a fool. She was glad Bonnie wasn't there, and also glad that none of the other Yamanouchi students were watching. She didn't really know them well but the thought of Hirotaka or Yori looking at her while she sat chest high in a chilly fountain, trying to become 'one' with the water....
'Do you feel the flowey-ness....?' Came the voice of the Mystical Monkey.
Kim grimaced. The cold was really starting to sink in, and she felt her arms and legs beginning to shiver. 'This is for Ron.' she thought fiercely. 'Don't think about how stupid it is, just do it for Ron....' She tried to think past her physical discomfort. She focused on the sound of the fountain as water drops splashed softly around the sculpture. It was peaceful - it was the only sound in the dim and sheltered courtyard. She felt the water lapping around her arms and torso and soon imagined that she could feel outside herself a little bit...
Just as she was thinking that she might be getting somewhere, she felt a wet, hairy arm wind around her neck, while another hand clamped around her shoulder. Before she knew what was happening, she felt her head plunging beneath the surface of the water, and took a swift gasp of air.
All sound was muffled, including the sound of her own grunts as she struggled to break free. The Mystical Monkey's arms felt like iron bands and she couldn't even budge his fingers as he kept her held firmly against the bottom of the fountain. She could feel her clutching fingers breaking the surface of the pool, with air just beyond her reach.
She started kicking with her legs, but felt the five-fingered foot of the Mystical Monkey gripped tight around one ankle, and she couldn't get enough leverage to push him loose. Her lungs started burning as her breath became more stale, the need for oxygen sending waves of panic through her.