A Kim Possible Fanfiction
by Greg Fisk (aka "Slyrr")

Kim Possible is owned/copyrighted by Disney and its affiliates, etc. etc.

Chapter 7:
Opposites
Or: Opposites Repel


Kim stormed up to the trussed-up Grimm, taking one coil of the wire that was binding him in her hand and pulling so his face was level with hers. She balled her other hand into a fist. 'What did you do to Ron?' she snarled.

Grimm seemed to snap out of his own shock and his hazel eyes stared into hers, switching from surprised to angry. 'I didn't do this, you idiot!' he shouted, shifting in the cocoon of wires that bound him.

Kim sniffed. 'Like I believe that!' she said. 'Spill it, or I start playing Viva Piñata with your head!'

'I said I didn't do it!' he growled at her. 'Now hurry up and untie me before they get too far away!'

Kim shook her head. 'Untie you?' she said, a smirk edging onto her lips, 'Grimm - you've made me cry, you've made me compromise my principles, you've made me scream with rage - don't make me laugh.'

Grimm's eyes narrowed and he spoke through gritted teeth. 'There's still a chance we can catch up to them.' he said, his voice sounding frustrated. He twitched in his wire prison again. 'The longer you sit around whining, the further away they get!'

'I'm not setting a snake like you on the loose again!' Kim said, letting go and watching with grim amusement as he swung helplessly above the floor. 'I'll find Ron myself - the cops can take care of you!' She turned and started walking away.

'You'll never find him without my help.' Grimm's voice called after her. 'The guy helping Monkey Fist is called Maze - he's a shadow shaman, and he has powers that you don't know anything about.'

'I'll learn.' said Kim firmly, continuing towards the door.

'I'm serious. You've got no idea what you're in for. You want to find Ron? I can help you - so stop thinking with your ego make use of the resources you have!'

Kim paused and looked back at him. 'That's the first thing you've said that makes sense.' she answered, and she held up her wrist Kimmunicator. It was beeping with several lights as she saw that it was working again. Whatever effect had been jamming it now seemed to be lifted. She activated it and Wade's face popped up at once.

'Kim what happened?' he said. 'I've been trying to get through for ages....'

'Wade - contact the police and send them to the UNIT building pronto! Tell them another gift-wrapped villain is waiting to be picked up.'

Wade's face fell in surprise and he looked impressed. 'Was it Grimm? Did you get him?'

Kim paused, looking down at her helpless enemy, who was glaring at her darkly. 'Yeah.' she said.

'They're on their way!' said Wade, tapping his keyboard almost merrily. 'Someone locked the front entrance again, but I'll have it back open before the cops get there. Sounds like cause for a Naco celebration! Hey, where's Ron?'

Kim frowned, not sure what to say. 'Stand by on that.' she said quietly, and turned off the screen.

Grimm was still glaring as Kim started walking away. 'You're making a mistake.' he said. His face and his voice didn't betray any nervousness, but he jerked his arms hard against the wires that were wound around him, making him swing slightly from the cable holding him up. 'Whatever they did with Ron, they also did to Rhonda. We both have a stake in this. If we put our heads together, maybe we can bring them back!'

'Not interested.' Kim said, frowning. 'Help like yours I can do without.'

'We've gone up against Maze before.' said Grimm, fidgeting in the wires. He had spun half way around so he wasn't facing Kim anymore, and was twisting his neck to keep her in sight. She would have laughed at the sight, but she had other things to worry about. 'We know things about him - and Monkey Fist! You have information we don't have, and we have information you don't have - things even your hacker can't find out on his own!'

'That just says I have more faith in Wade than you have in Jade.' Kim said, and Rufus scampered after her, turning and sticking out his tongue. They left the lab, Kim closing the door behind her.

'Possible!' Grimm's voice grated, rising almost to a shout.

Kim strode away from the room, feeling immensely satisfied. Whatever happened afterwards, at least she had finally dealt with Grimm. His words nagged at her - they always did - but she had meant it when she said she had faith in Wade. He had never let her down. He could hack his way anywhere, and any information that Grimm might have, she was confident that Wade could find it too.

She paused as she felt a tugging at the cuff of her pants and saw Rufus looking up at her pleadingly. She felt a sudden stab of loss. Ron and Rufus had their routine down to an art form, and without him there, she was forced to try and remember the list of tasks that she had memorized back when she was Rufus-sitting.

'Sorry Rufus.' she said. 'I don't have cargo pants like Ron does - there's no pocket for you to ride in.' Rufus looked miserable. Kim glanced at her hip pouch. She wasn't sure why she always wore it. Her new Kimmunicator had a grapple line built into it, so the pouch was empty most of the time. She unsnapped it and held out her hand to the mole rat. 'Guess you'll have to crash in here until we find him.' Rufus paused, eyeing the hip pouch warily, but he scampered up her leg and hopped into the pouch, looking like someone in a new and unfamiliar place. Kim bit her lip as she saw him circle around in the pouch as if looking for something that was missing. 'Don't worry.' she said, trying to sound reassuring. 'We'll find out what they did to him and we'll have him back before you know it.' She moved towards the annex where the elevator was located, anxious for the police to arrive so she could turn Grimm into custody....

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Grimm dangled from the wires in the lab, still glaring at the door where Kim had left. He heard a sudden beeping from his pocket - his communicator was working again. He twisted in the coils and finally managed to loosen the bands that held his wrists together. Then he slithered an arm to his communicator, turning it on. He heard Jade's tinny voice. 'GP! What happened? I've been trying to get through to you for almost half an hour....'

'Jade!' he said angrily, 'Monkey Fist - banned!'

Jade took a sucker out of her mouth. 'Huh?' she said. 'Monkey Fist? I thought he was M.I.A.....'

'He's back somehow - and he's working with Maze.' He continued to squirm in the wires, trying to free up more slack.

'The guy from Kwitcherbeliakin? Didn't Rhonda hand him his dignity with her footprints all over it? And where the heck are you?' She tilted her head, trying to see why he was rotating in a small circle, and why he wasn't holding the screen more steady.

'Never mind,' he grunted, finally getting both hands in front of him. 'The more important matter is where the heck is Rhonda? Maze pulled some of his shadow-medicine. Both Rhonda and Possible's sidekick upped and disappeared right in front of us.'

Jade's mouth fell open. 'She's gone?'

'Yeah - I think I managed to record Maze's chant on my wristwatch during the fight - and I'm sweeping the room with the scanners as we speak. When I get back, we'll need translations, analysis, and we also need to find out why he and Monkey Fist are chumming it up! I'll be back soon.' He turned off the communicator.

Rueful was scurrying around underneath Grimm, hopping on his hind legs. 'Stand back little guy,' Grimm said. Then he folded back the cuff on his glove and hit a button on his wristwatch. A pencil-thin beam of red light shot from a module on the side.....

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The elevator door opened and four burly policemen strode briskly towards Kim. She was glad to see them, being anxious to start Wade on scanning the lab, but she wanted to make sure Grimm was locked up before turning her attention to finding Ron. She hadn't heard anyone leaving and was still close to the door leading back into the lab where Grimm was securely tied.

'Right in here, boys!' she said pointing them to the lab. The policemen stormed into the room with Kim right behind them.

'Uh... right here what Ms. Possible?' said the tallest cop. Kim shouldered her way past them and saw a mass of severed wires hanging from the ceiling, still swaying gently, holding nothing but empty air.

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Maze staggered into the upper floor of an abandoned building. Rubbish was strewn here and there on the floor and there was an occasional piece of dusty furniture - mournful remains of whatever business had once been located within its walls. Maze's breath came in deep, ragged gasps. Monkey Fist entered behind him and helped him over to a dark corner near a grimy window. A simple bed of scattered straw topped with a blanket was set up there, along with a small cache of supplies. He lowered Maze onto the bed and stepped back, looking down as his ally lay trembling and sweating before him.

They had scoped out this building in advance because it was near to the UNIT headquarters, derelict enough that they would not be disturbed and yet visible enough that they would not be noticed. Maze had warned Monkey Fist that if they succeeded in their scheme, he would be extremely weak and would need somewhere close by to recover.

'Do you require anything?' said Monkey Fist off-handedly, setting down the case which contained the UDM. 'Medicine? Water?'

Maze waved one hand feebly. 'No....' he said. 'I simply need rest. The shadow-medicine we used is extremely powerful. I would never have been able to complete the banishing without your strength. Your assistance removed some of the burden from my shoulders, giving me the power I needed to complete the banishing. Even so, the effort was... most painful. It could have killed me....'

'Then rest now.' said Monkey Fist, his stone lips curling into a faint smile. 'I will stand guard while you regain your strength. We can't risk moving until you have recovered enough to mask us with your shadows, and we can't proceed any further until we return to the lair. Though our enemies are defeated, our plans are only just beginning.'

Maze fell quiet and lay breathing deeply. Monkey Fist moved a few feet away and sat in the Lotus position, letting his mind focus. Tai Shing Pek Kwar was mostly mental discipline, as he always maintained. And he looked on this as an opportunity to practice that discipline while guarding Maze. It seemed unnecessary since they were the only ones there, but since he no longer felt weariness, he kept at it. Soon the only sounds were an occasional creaking, Maze's soft breathing, and the faint sounds of traffic and people moving around outside and in the surrounding buildings while the night moved towards dawn....

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The police were still milling around the lab, inspecting the damage of the battle. Some had gone down to the security suite to tend to the recovering guards. Kim was staring at the blinking screen of her Kimmunicator. She didn't want to have to start this next conversation, but she had swept the labs several times and found no trace of Ron. She answered and saw Wade's face staring out, looking confused and concerned.

'Kim,' he said, his voice sounding suspicious. 'I just read a police wire. They said there's no sign of whoever broke in.'

'I know.' Kim said. 'I screwed up. I went out into the hall to lead the police to the labs, but when I got back he was gone. I thought he was tied securely enough that I'd hear it from the hall if he tried to pull free.'

Wade didn't look accusatory or frustrated as he raised his hands as if to start typing. 'Want me to see if I can start tracking them?' he said.

'No.' Kim answered quickly. 'As of now, Team Probable is off the table. I need you to shift focus to finding Ron.'

'Finding Ron?' said Wade, looking confused.

'Yeah... he's gone.'

'Gone?'

'Wade, I need you to scan the labs. There was someone here looking for Grimm and Rhonda. He said his name was Maze...'

'Mayze?' said Wade.

'No, mah-zay. I found him nosing around while I was looking for Grimm. He said he was a Blackfoot holy man and... well things got kind of fuzzy after that. The next thing I remember I was in the labs, and I saw Ron and Rhonda disappear...'

'Disappear?' Wade said.

'Wade, will you please stop repeating the last words of my sentences?'

'Sorry.' said Wade. 'But... people don't just disappear!'

'I know!' Kim said. 'Which is why I need you to scan the lab!'

'Oh, yeah... Hold on a sec!' Kim held out her Kimmunicator and the greenish beam from the scanner swept out. Kim circled the lab several times, letting Wade go over everything twice. She waited for several minutes afterwards while Wade typed, his head spinning from monitor to monitor.

'Well....?' Kim said, feeling uncomfortable as some of the policemen sweeping the lab were beginning to stare at her.

Wade's mouth was pulled into a lopsided grimace. 'Uh... I'm not getting anything unusual Kim.' he said. 'Just the normal background radiation and activity on the electrical grid...'

Kim fought back the instinct to say are you sure. She knew Wade well enough to know that if there was something to double check, he would do it. But because she wanted to be doing something more, she couldn't stop herself from making suggestions. 'Is there anything I can do on this end?' she said. 'A... bigger scanner or something?'

Wade smiled faintly. 'The Kimmunicator scanners are among the best.' he said. 'Having designed it myself, I know. I'll chew on the data, but Grimm could have engineered the whole thing. It's not the first time he tried to get to you by getting to Ron. You're sure you don't want me to try and get a trace on Grimm?' he said hesitantly.

Kim shook her head. 'I don't think so.' she said. 'Whatever happened to Ron, it looked like the same thing happened to Rhonda. Grimm said he didn't do it.'

'You believe him?'

Kim paused. 'I... don't know.' she said at last. 'If it was a dodge, or if he was acting, it was a really good act. And good isn't the sort of thing that comes easily when he's around. If the scanner data doesn't go anywhere, then we can start by finding out everything we can about Maze.' A sudden flash of memory came to her and she hastily added, 'And there's something else - I'm pretty sure I saw Monkey Fist in the lab as well.'

Wade's jaw fell open. 'Monkey Fist? Cheese, was everyone down there at UNIT tonight?'

Kim shrugged. 'It feels that way. We could also get information by contacting the Yamanouchi school to confirm if Monkey Fist is still walking the path of the Yono.'

'That... could be tricky.' said Wade. 'They're a ninja school, and they love their secrecy. Usually they're the ones who try to contact us...'

'Then now's as good a time as any to find out if they've got a phone.' said Kim. She felt a bit more focused now, having talked with Wade. They'd come up with several ideas for places to begin their search, and now it was a matter of doing the searching. She turned her attention back to the lab as the Kimmunicator screen went dark, preparing to search the room yet again...

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It was nearly midnight before Kim finally left the UNIT building. She made her way back to the Sloth, checking on Rufus, who was sleeping in her belt pouch. She put the key in the ignition, checking in with Wade once more before getting ready to leave.

'... I went over everything with a fine tooth comb.' she said. 'Ron's just gone. One minute he was there, the next... nothing but empty space.'

Wade was shaking his head. 'It had to be some kind of portal technology,' he said. 'Except... you're sure Monkey Fist was there?'

Kim put her hand to her head. Her memories of the events between when Maze was chanting in front of her and seeing Ron and Rhonda disappearing right in front of her were clouded. 'I'm almost sure he was, but... there was something different about him. It looked like he was still made of stone, but he was moving.'

Wade shook his head slightly. 'If he was really involved, then it limits the scope of what I can find out.' he said. 'Monkey Fist's plans deal in mysticism, not science. And magic isn't something I know a lot about... or study much.... or believe in.'

Kim looked sharply at him. 'Wade - it's real. I told you about what happened at Yamanouchi with the Yono, I saw the Yono myself. I saw what the Lotus Blade can do when Ron's holding it. It wasn't just smoke and mirrors.'

Wade still looked skeptical. 'I... didn't see it myself.' he said.

'You may not believe in magic,' said Kim. 'But do you believe in me?'

Wade didn't answer, looking like he was thinking hard. 'I... don't think you're lying about what you saw.' he said carefully. 'But you may not have seen what you thought you were seeing. There are all kinds of scientific ways that those things might have been done. Holograms, energy weapons, hypnotic suggestion... Monkey Fist could have set it up to make you think it was magic...'

'Either way, he and Maze are our best place to start searching for Ron.' Kim said. She wasn't ready to start debating the existence or non-existence of magic with Wade, and was anxious to find out anything that Wade's searches might uncover, whether he 'believed' in it or not. 'Have you got anything?'

Wade turned back to his computer screens. 'Systems are still processing the data from the scanners, but I did find out some more about Maze - was this him?' And a black and white news photograph flashed up on the Kimmunicator screen. The man pictured was dressed more normally than he had been in the Labs, but the beak-like nose was there, and the mane of dark hair. He appeared to be speaking at some kind of rally.

'That's him.' Kim answered. 'Who is he?'

Wade answered with his eyes on one of his screens, his face turned away from Kim. 'An expert on Native American artifacts and folklore, recognized as a leading specialist. He used to be active in trying to secure more legal and political rights for the Blackfoot tribe, but over the last ten years, he's spent most of his time alone searching for artifacts. He's recovered several famous relics, but he's passed up a lot of sweet job offers to stay out in the field.'

'Any former colleagues we could hunt up?' Kim said.

Wade shook his head again. 'He doesn't seem to have had many friends, at least none that are recorded. Here's something interesting though... within the last year he sold a number of artifacts and seems to have vanished from public life completely. No one's seen or heard from him in months.'

Kim's eyes narrowed. 'No criminal record?' she said.

'Not that I can see.' Wade answered. 'Doesn't mean there isn't one though...'

'How about Yamanouchi?' said Kim. Were you able to contact them?'

'Sorry.' he answered. 'I haven't been able to contact them before, and I still can't. I tried to trace the hits they put on your website, but it led me to 'askaninja.com'. If they have some means of communication, it's not normal.'

'The Gravy Ghost.' said Kim quietly.

Wade's eyes perked. 'I forgot about that.' he said. 'Sensei seems to have some way to contact Ron...'

'...except Ron's not here.' said Kim grimly. 'All right. We try to track down Maze. In the meantime, I need to visit Yamanouchi and see for myself if Monkey Fist is really gone. I don't think the Sloth can get to Japan - can you find me a ride?'

'Wade smiled. 'I had a feeling we might start there.' he answered. 'It'll be hard, but I think I can get you transport by tomorrow after school.'

'Spankin.' Kim said. 'But I think the hardest part is still ahead.' said Kim, sighing.

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Mr. and Mrs. Stoppable stared blankly at Kim. They had seemed nervous somehow when she awakened them in the middle of the night, and even more so when they saw Ron was not with her. 'Kidnapped?' said Mrs. Stoppable, her thin face with its triangular glasses stretching as her mouth fell open.

'It... looks that way.' said Kim, faltering. She hadn't been able to think of any other way to explain what had happened in the labs. Somehow vanished without a trace sounded a lot more ominous, and until she had more information, Kim figured she had better try and phrase the events in terms that were easily related to and understandable.

'And that Monkey Fist character is behind it?' said Mr. Stoppable, adjusting his own glasses, his voice still sounding sonorous and soothing, even though his face was frowning and worried. 'The same one who came after our little Hana?'

'Yes, but I don't think Hana is in any danger right now....' Kim started.

'But what about our Ron?' Mrs. Stoppable said, her voice rising. 'Where did Monkey Fist take him? What does he want with him?'

'I... don't know yet, but I don't think they'll hurt him.' Kim said.

Mr. Stoppable nodded. 'Is there anything we can do?' he said. 'I didn't mind going up against that Mather person to save my son - if we can help in any way....'

Kim shook her head. 'Right now it's not a question of fighting, it's a matter of finding. Wade's on that right now. I'm sure once we find Monkey Fist, we'll find Ron. I promise, I won't stop until he's home safe and sound - and I'll let you know the minute I have any news.'

Mrs. Stoppable was looking down as she spoke again. 'You've never let us down before, Kim.' she said, and her voice was low and worried. 'You've always looked out for Ron. When he disappeared that one time, you promised to bring him back and you did.' she looked up into Kim's eyes. 'Please - Ron thinks the world of you. I know you can find him again.'

Kim could only nod.

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It was late and all was dark as the Possible house slept. Rufus seemed nervous and fidgety in the makeshift bed Kim had set up for him in her room, made from a long-unused basket and some warm cloth. He had tried using the pillow next to Kim's head, giving Pandaroo a puzzled look, but Kim had stared at him until he skittered to the basket, looking forlorn.

Wade had assured her that there was nothing more they could do until tomorrow, and encouraged Kim to get some rest. But like Rufus, Kim felt too energized for sleep. She wanted to rush out, to keep looking for Ron, to do something. And so sleep came very reluctantly. When she did drift off at last, she fell at once into an uneasy dream.

Ron was being pulled away. He was sinking into a whirlpool of shadow. She wanted to help him, to stop what was happening. But there was an unwelcome grip on her mind, the dark will of someone else, who prevented her from rushing to his aid. Ron was disappearing, vanishing in the vortex of black vapor, and the last thing she saw was his hand reaching out to her...

Kim was suddenly wide awake again. Ron's hand - covered in a glove, but even as he disappeared there had been a flash of white - from a band around his wrist. The chip. She sat bolt upright, fumbling in the dark for her wrist Kimmunicator. She berated herself. 'How could I have been so stupid?' she thought.

And she remembered sitting across from Ron in a booth at Bueno Nacho. A small microchip, about half the size of a postage stamp, was resting on the table between them. Grimm had removed the chip and told Ron all about it before he had used the Attitudinator to turn him back into Zorpox. When it was all over, the resulting conversation between her and Ron about the chip had ranked as one of her all-time worst memories. But Ron, in typical Ron-ness, had forgiven her.

'If you want me to put this chip back....' he said, looking down at it, '...I won't say no.'

'Get rid of it.' she answered. 'We don't need it anymore.' But later back at school, she had seen a white band on his wrist with a small chip protected in a durable plastic square.

'Nice bracelet.' she said. 'Is that....'

'Yep.' said Ron, holding up his forearm. 'Now you can keep tabs on your bad boy 24/7.'

Kim shook her head. 'Ron, you don't have to...'

'I know.' he said, waving his hand softly. 'But I want to. You said you believe in me. That was all I needed, Kim. I'm keeping this now because I believe in you. I've always been there for you. And this is just my way of saying - I know you'll always be there for me.....'

'Wade!' Kim said, her voice sounding urgent even to her own ears. She knew she had connected with him, but it was a few seconds before Wade's face showed up, looking tousle-haired and bleary.

'Kim...?' he said, and his voice was slurred. 'What? It's almost three o'clock in the morning... I said there's nothing you can do until...'

'The chip!' she said. 'Ron had it on him when he disappeared! We can track him!'

Wade looked more awake, and then he was typing rapidly. 'It's been a while since I monitored the tracking programs for him...' he said. 'We haven't used it all that much, really. I hope it still works...'

Kim was clenching the Kimmunicator hard in her hand. Hope flared powerfully within her as the seconds passed. If Ron was anywhere on Earth, the chip would let Wade zero in on him - then they would have an exact location. Once she knew where to go, it was just a matter of getting there, saving Ron and taking down the bad guys. Easy and simple - just like it always was. Each second seemed to pass like a full minute. At last, Wade looked up. 'Sitch me!' she said urgently.

But Wade's face looked ashen. 'Kim... I'm sorry. I'm not getting any signal.' And as quickly as the hope had risen in her heart, it was snatched and replaced with the lead-like heaviness of disappointment. Wade caught the expression on her face and reacted quickly. 'There... could be a lot of reasons for that.' he said, his voice sounding only slightly reassuring. 'They could have jammers set up wherever he is, or maybe the chip is malfunctioning - it's over four years old after all. Or maybe sunspots....'

Kim listened as Wade went through several more reasons, each sounding less plausible, before she finally broke in. 'Thanks Wade.' she said softly. 'Thanks for trying. I thought maybe...' but her voice faltered.

There was an uncomfortable silence. 'I'll... leave the tracking programs running.' he said. 'There's a chance the signal may resume... or maybe it's intermittent....'


'Yeah.' said Kim, almost whispering. 'Please and thank you.'

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Kim heard the bell at Middleton High ringing with a metallic echo, the sound rolling across the wide grounds that surrounded the building. She sighed and walked in through the door, glancing aside at the marquee, which read: 'Exams - you never know what you've got till it's wrong'.

No sooner had she stepped inside than she heard a booming shout. 'Stoppab....!' Mr. Barkin's voice was cut off as he stopped in mid-yell. He looked at Kim and then next to her. 'Possible!' she said, recovering. 'Where's the trouble-maker king?'

Kim closed her eyes, the question cutting through her more keenly than she thought. With no more information, she tried to resolve herself to the fact that she'd be trying to answer this question, or variations of it, for some time to come.

'And what have I told you about wearing that mission equipment of yours in school?' he said, not giving her time to answer the first question but pointing down at her hip pouch, which was strapped to her leg and looking very out of place with her normal school clothes.

'I need it to carry Rufus.' Kim said, opening the pouch. Rufus sprang out, waving at Mr. Barkin. 'Ha-hey!' he squeaked.

'Very cute, Ms. Possible.' he said, his voice sinking to a dangerous growl. 'Going all Paris Hilton are you? I thought it was those pocket pooches that ladies stash in their purses these days when they're trying to look hip. Why are you carrying around that freak of nature?'

Kim stared up at him. At least with Mr. Barkin, she knew how to explain the sitch in terms he'd understand. 'Ron went M.I.A on a mission last night. I'm looking after Rufus until we find him.'

'Is that so?' said Barkin, raising an eyebrow, but the rest of his face remained scowling and suspicious. 'And you're sure he's not just trying to duck out of the homework I've got ready for him?'

Kim tried not to get defensive. After all, ducking out to avoid homework was something Ron might try to do. 'I'm sure.' she said softly. 'Wade and I are trying to track him down....'

'I see.' said Barkin. 'Well I'm afraid that means you will now have to collect his assignments for him and store them until such time as he resurfaces.'

'Yes sir.' Kim answered.
'And I'll expect him to turn in said assignments on time.'
'Yes sir.' she said again.
'And he'll be on makeup practice time for the team as well when he gets back.'
'Yes sir.' Kim said yet again.
'And don't expect me to cover for him at Smarty-Mart for very long...'
'Yes sir.'

Barkin seemed taken aback by her compliance and looked at her quietly for a moment. 'Well, carry on then.' he said, and then turned and walked away.

Rufus let out a low groan. 'Mmm-hmmm... homework.' he squeaked, sounding crestfallen.

She was at her locker barely a minute later, and Wade was waiting for her on the monitor screen. 'I've gone over the scanning data a dozen times.' he said. 'So far, nothing. If it was portal technology, it's like nothing I've ever seen before.'

'Keep at it, if you think there's any chance it could tell us something.' said Kim. 'In the meantime, there's still Yamanouchi. Have you got a ride lined up?'

Wade smiled and nodded. 'Be at the airport after school and everything will be set up.'

'Yo, Kim!'

Kim thanked Wade quickly and turned to answer the voice that had sounded behind her. She heard a whirring sound and saw Felix moving smoothly down the hall in his high-tech wheelchair. She had a momentary feeling that mixed several emotions. There was discomfort, because Felix was Ron's best guy friend and he was sure to ask where Ron was. Dread, because she wasn't sure what she should tell him, and deep in the back of her mind a twinge of impatience because all she wanted to do was get to class and get the day over with so she could begin her trip to Yamanouchi. 'Hey Felix...' she said, putting up a brave smile and waving weakly.

And right off the bat, he threw it in her face. 'Where's Ron? Haven't seen him yet, and if he's not with you I don't know where he is.' he said, looking at her with an expression just short of sly.

Kim hemmed for a moment. She wasn't sure how many times she could bear relating the experience in a single day. 'I'm.... not sure.' she said, which she felt was a vague enough answer while still being true.

But Felix's eye went to her hip pouch, where Rufus was still poking his head out and looking around. His expression became suspicious at once. 'Why are you carrying Rufus around?' he said. 'Kim? Where's Ron?'

'I...' she started to answer, but at that moment the warning bell rang. 'I... gotta get to class!' she said, hoisting her backpack and going into a slow run. 'Catch you later!' But Felix was staring after her, even as she turned the corner.

She sighed with relief as she sit down to her first class of the day, Intermediate Algebra. Felix was in Advanced Calculus, so she wouldn't see him again until lunch. By then she hoped to have steeled up the nerve to tell him. It was the first time ever she had been relieved to be in Algebra.

Monique was already there and smiled as Kim took her seat just in time. 'Cuttin' it rather close, aren't you girlfriend?' she said quietly, smiling but keeping her eyes on the chalkboard where the teacher was already writing several equations to work through.

'That's how I like it.' Kim said, trying to look cheerful. The teacher turned and glared back at both of them, and they settled into silence under her withering glare. Things sank into normality as the clock ticked and the lesson progressed. About halfway through, Kim felt a rustling in her hip pouch. Rufus had poked his head out again. He was pointing to the clock, and then to his mouth, and waving a rumpled-looking piece of paper.

Kim tried to surreptitiously reach into her backpack. She took out a small tub containing a number of Pop Pop Porter's Mini Corn Dogs. She gave one to Rufus and he disappeared back into the hip pouch, a soft chewing sound coming from it a second later. Kim folded the paper and slid it into her pocket. She had condensed Ron's old instruction book on Rufus-Sitting into one handy spreadsheet, but she had forgotten exactly how 'needy' Rufus was. She reflected briefly for moment, wondering if Ron had trained Rufus or if it was the other way around.

She heard a whisper from Monique's desk. 'Why are you packing a naked mole rat, girl?'

And once again, Kim was spared from answering as the teacher rounded on them. 'Ms. Monique!' she snapped. 'Unless you are answering this equation, I will thank you to remain silent in this class!'

Monique shrank slightly in her seat. 'Yes, Ms. Merical.' she mumbled. And under her breath she added. 'Not very merry-cal.'

'What was that Ms. Monique?' Merical said, her voice rising.

'Nothing!' Monique answered.

'For that matter, Ms. Monique - would you please fill out the surname on your future assignments?'

'I can do that.' she answered. 'If you'll tell me how to get Planck's Constant higher than one.'

Ms. Merical looked coldly at her for a moment. 'Touche.' she said at last, and turned back to the board.

For the rest of the morning, Kim managed to avoid both Felix and Monique with a combination of looking busy and actual dodging. But there was no avoiding lunch break, which was highlighted in red on Rufus' care list. It was pizza day, and Rufus would not be denied. She took as many slices as the lunch lady would allow, and made her way to a free table where she took Rufus from her pouch and pushed every slice over to him.

Rufus tucked in at once, and Kim was momentarily fascinated. It always seemed as if Rufus could eat more food than he should physically be able to contain, and the naked mole rat had gone through a whole slice before she turned her attention to her salad. She had barely taken a bite though, before hearing a thumping sound by the seat next to her and a whirring sound at her other side.

Both Monique and Felix had flanked her and were staring at her, their expressions less than congenial. 'All right, spill it girlfriend.' said Monique without any preamble. 'Where's Ron at?'

Kim swallowed and sighed. Rufus was well into his second slice of pizza. 'Guys, look - I'm sorry I've been giving you the runaround.' Rufus paused, and looked at her sadly. 'I've got something to tell you, and I've been racking my brains trying to think of the best way....'

At that moment, Mr. Barkin walked by, dropping a thick booklet next to Kim's elbow. 'Sorry to hear that Ron has gone missing, Ms. Possible.' he said briskly. 'To demonstrate my sympathies, his first wave of extra homework has one less page than normal.' Then he walked off. Felix and Monique sat with their mouths open and their eyes wide.

'Well, there's always the direct approach.' she said darkly.

'Missing?' they both said together, leaning their heads in. Felix wasn't able to get quite as close since his chair couldn't pull up under the table fully, and he craned his neck with dangerous enthusiasm. Then Kim felt like the referee in a tennis match, looking back and forth between the two as they ran the gamut of questions which covered how, when, where and why.

It wasn't exactly the place she would have chosen to break the news; a room full of students chowing down on their meals, the faint smell of old mystery meat in the air and Rufus stuffing his face on cardboard cafeteria pizza. But she went through it again while Monique and Felix moved around to sit at the table in front of her. Their faces retained the shocked expression during her whole narrative about the events at the UNIT building, and her efforts to begin the search. She kept a firm grip on the table, fighting to stop herself from interjecting her own feelings and worry. The last thing they needed was to hear the person was supposed to be leading the search getting all emotional.

'...so after school I'll be going to Japan to see what I can find out about Monkey Fist.' she said, winding down. 'Until then I'm kind of stuck.' She turned to Monique, her voice becoming hesitant. 'Could I ask you a favor?' she started.

Monique sighed heavily. 'Let me guess - could you cover for me at work?' she said. 'Girl, just because I'm assistant manager now doesn't mean you can bog off anytime you want....'

'It's important, Monique!' Kim said. Then she dropped her voice to a girlish whimper. 'Pleeeeeeeeeease.....?'

'Oh no!' said Monique holding up her hand. 'Girl, you are not using that on me!'

Kim's pupils dilated. Her eyebrows rose, and her lower lip curled out slightly.

'Don't!' Monique said, panic rising in her voice. 'I'm warning you!'

Kim put her hands together, holding them down to her waist, and pulled her shoulders up. 'Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease?' she said again, batting her eyes.

Monique bent forward, collapsing onto the table and slamming both fists down. 'Aaaaaargh!' she said. 'All right, all right! Just... stop that!'

'Please and thank you!' said Kim, reverting to normal posture at once.

Felix had watched the whole thing with wide eyes. 'What... was that?' he said, glancing nervously at Kim.

Monique was sitting up again, looking reproachful. 'The Puppy-Dog-Pout.' she said. 'A weapon of psychological warfare among Possible women for at least two generations.'

'Is there a countermeasure?' Felix asked.

'Not if you've got eyes.' said Monique.

Felix shook his head slightly. 'I always wondered how you got Ron to go on some of those crazy missions...' he said. He looked up at Kim, his face looking more serious. 'Kim, he's my best bud. Find him, would you?'

Kim looked equally serious. 'Try and stop me.' she said, and her voice had a steely edge to it.

Felix nodded, but he looked away, seeming embarrassed. 'And uh... could you find him fast?' he said, running his hand up the back of his neck. 'There's something he and I need to discuss.'

There was something about his demeanor that drew Kim's curiosity. 'Discuss?' she said. 'Guys don't discuss things - they just say stuff. They only discuss...' and she gasped. 'It's about a girl!' she said, and at once Felix' cheeks flamed red.

Monique went from sulky to eager in the blink of an eye, pouncing on the information like a cat on a mouse. 'Who is it? Spill!'

'I'm... thinking about asking out Zita Flores.' he said, looking bashful and unaccountably guilty.

Monique squealed. 'Feliiiiix!' she chirped. 'That is so cool!'

'But why do you need to discuss it with Ron?' Kim asked.

Felix looked away as he answered. 'Well, I know you and Ron are a thing now. But he did go out with her a couple of times, so I just... want to make sure he's OK with it.'

Rufus had his paws together and was smiling, doing the 'rah-rah' gesture. Kim smiled. 'Somehow I think.... he'd say go for it.' Kim answered.

By the time the final bell rang, Kim was almost frantic to get out the doors. Mr. Barkin had given her three more packets of homework for Ron to do, and Rufus had gone through all of the corn dogs. She checked in with Wade, packed everything in her book bag and closed her locker. She looked towards the gym and let out one shuddering breath of distaste. Before she left there was one more little chore....

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Bonnie Rockwaller was already in uniform for practice. She stopped in front of the mirror, checking her face, her hair and her makeup for the seventh time. She noted one hair was out of place in the lock that draped over the left side of her forehead. She stared, trying to smooth it back into place, but it kept sticking back out.

She glared at the hair angrily, then took it with her thumb and forefinger, squeezing it hard. With a swift motion, she pulled it out of her scalp by the root, ignoring the sharp pain that followed. She looked at the hair as it waved feebly in the air between her fingers.

'No use begging for mercy now.' she thought. 'You had your chance!' Then she dropped the hair into the trash can under the girls locker room sinks. She checked her reflection. Everything seemed perfect. She looked hard at the rest of the hairs on her head. 'Let that be a lesson to the rest of you!' she said darkly. Then in the mirror, she saw a movement behind her. Kim Possible had come in and was looking at her warily.

Bonnie turned and stared back at her in silence for a few seconds. The two rivals had never had much to say to each other. After the incident with Dementor's Bond-O balls, Kim had acted like the experience was supposed to have made them into chums or something. As if getting strapped to a giant electrostatic generator and nearly being vaporized was some kind of soul-weaving technique. More silence followed, until Bonnie went from staring to glaring. 'What?' she said. 'Looking for make up tips so you can finally get yourself looking halfway decent?'

Kim didn't reply. She simply looked at Bonnie, her eyes more focused than normal. Bonnie sighed and turned back to the mirror, picking up her poms. 'Hurry up and get dressed, loser.' she growled. 'Everyone else is already out there.' She was just about to brush past Kim and go out onto the gym floor when Kim finally spoke.

'Bonnie, you're in charge of practice today.' she said flatly. Bonnie raised an eyebrow. Kim seemed to be wincing as she continued. 'And... depending on things, I may need you to head up practice for a few days.'

Bonnie's lips curled into an insolent smirk and she felt as if Christmas had come early. 'What's the matter, Kim?' she said, a teasing sing-song tone creeping into her voice. 'Pressure getting to you? Need someone a little more rock solid to show you how its done?'

Kim's expression wasn't angry or defensive. It was cold. So cold that Bonnie felt her smirk disappearing as quickly as it had come. 'Ron's missing.' she said, her voice equally cold. 'I have to find him.'

Bonnie didn't tease her again, but she felt a stab of frustration. 'Again?' she said. 'Kim, can't you keep your loser boyfriend from getting lost for one week? Dibble was right - just being around you is a menace....'

Kim took one step closer to Bonnie. 'Do you remember what happened the last time Ron went missing?' she said.

Bonnie flinched. Under the influence of Zorpox's Mega Synaptic Transducer, all her evil and good had been reversed. Everyone else in the city had thought they were super-villains and started cooking up schemes to take over the world. But she had become a pathetic goody-two-shoes who had fawned over Kim, declaring that she was her best friend. 'Yes.' she said grudgingly.

'And do you remember what I said when you started getting all snarky about it the last time you asked?'

Bonnie's eyes slitted. 'You said something?' she answered sarcastically. 'It was more like you turned into a rabid wombat. As I recall, you told me to 'can it'...'

Kim's eyes slitted just at thin. They were standing right in front of each other now, and the tension was palpable. 'I'm going away to find Ron. And if you make it any harder with your attitude, then you should know that 'rabid wombat' was only stage one of how mad I can get.' Then she turned and left without another word.

Bonnie stayed there for a full minute after Kim had left. She looked down and was ashamed to see that both of her hands were trembling. She gritted her teeth. 'What's with you two?' she said, addressing her hands. 'Pull yourselves together, you make me sick....'

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Kim hiked up the dizzying trail that led to the mountain sanctuary of Yamanouchi. The scenery was breathtaking, with mountains of yellowish-brown stone, azure blue waterfalls and fountains, and the soothing green of many groves of trees with bamboo thickets. In all her previous visits to Yamanouchi, she had always been too focused on missions to take time out and appreciate the beauty of the Japanese countryside. But traveling there alone (except for Rufus, who remained sheltered in her hip pouch), she found herself noticing these previously ignored details.

The ride to Japan had gone smoothly. Wade had found another one of Nakasumi's hypersonic jets that was making a return flight to Japan. It was more of a cargo plane, so there wasn't any first class seating, but it was fast, and currently that was all Kim cared about. It was not long after her arrival that she set out for the hidden valley of peaks where the Yamanouchi school was nestled. She reached the last summit and the school came into view. There was still some scaffolding here and there, but it looked as if most of the buildings had been rebuilt after the destruction unleashed by the Yono.

She made her way across the rope bridge towards the school entrance. She did notice one feature in the courtyard, visible even behind the high stone walls that surrounded the school - the Yono shrine had resurfaced. And there was only one way it could have happened... She broke into a run, dashing towards the ornate doors when she heard a voice shout suddenly.

'Yamero!'

She looked up towards the battlements of the front gate and saw a person silhouetted against the sky, staring down at her. The voice spoke again. 'Possible-chan?'

Even after so much time, Kim remembered the voice - having crushed over it once before. 'Hirotaka?' she called back up.

The ninja heart-throb nodded. He turned, looking back into the courtyard, and spoke to someone who she couldn't see from outside the walls. Then he turned back to her. 'Welcome back to Yamanouchi, Possible-chan.' he said. 'Your arrival was not unexpected. Please enter - Master Sensei and Yori are waiting for you.'

The massive gates set in the stone walls soon began to open, a shuddering creak sounding through the air. Kim passed through the gates and into the courtyard. Several practice sessions were underway in different sections of the courtyard, but dominating the scene was the ugly hulk of the Yono shrine. It was surrounded by a grim clutch of uniformed ninja, who stood with weapons ready.

Kim reached one of the larger dojos near the center of the courtyards, and saw two figures emerging from the doorway, descending the stone stairs towards her. Kim bowed her head to Sensei as he stopped in front of her. He seemed the same as ever, his bearded face and his perpetually squinting eyes looking relaxed and curious. His red robes with golden trim swathed over him, covering everything but his wooden sandals.

And as always, Yori was at his side. She looked at Kim, her expression unreadable. Kim had long suspected, despite saying she believed Ron and Kim were destined for each other, that she was still harboring a secret crush on Ron.

'Kim Possible.' said Sensei, his deep, resonating voice. 'We are honored by your presence - though I fear the circumstances behind your journey are as grave now as they were when you fought alongside us against the Yono.'

Kim looked at him. Sensei had always gave the impression that he had secret information, though he rarely disclosed it. 'Then you know why I'm here?' she said.

'The answer to that question lies plainly before us all.' he answered, his head turning slightly towards the Yono shrine.

Kim followed his glance to look at the apex of the shrine. The long metal rod with it's heavy ring jutted from the stone platform at the very top. But there was no stone figure standing before it. 'Monkey Fist... he's gone isn't he?' Kim said.

Sensei nodded. 'It happened several weeks ago. And I suspect you are here because Monkey Fist has struck again.'

Kim looked pleadingly at Sensei. 'You... knew that someone had released Monkey Fist? You knew he was on the loose?'

Sensei nodded.

'Why didn't you have someone tell me?' she said.

Sensei looked surprised. 'This is my way of telling you, Kim Possible.' he said.

Kim put her hand to her forehead, and for a moment she knew exactly how Ron felt. She knew how it felt to be suddenly hammered with information that everyone was somehow expecting you to have known in advance through clairvoyance. 'OK....' she said, struggling to keep her temper. 'I need to know everything. Tell me how it happened, who set him loose, and anything else that I may need to know, and please don't assume I know it already...'

'The exact circumstances are unclear...' and Sensei gestured to Hirotaka, who had stood nearby. Hirotaka stepped forward. '...but Hirotaka may be able to provide some of the answers you seek.'

They entered the dojo and sat on the matted floor. Kim listened as Hirotaka related his encounter with Maze, her feeling of worry increasing as he finished. '...I only remember ordering him to leave the grounds.' he said. 'The next thing I recall, I was standing at the foot of the shrine, trying to stop them from escaping.' He looked slightly ashamed for a moment. 'I fought well, but Monkey Fist was.....' and he paused, as if not knowing what to say.

'What?' said Kim. 'Did the Yono come back too?'

'I... do not think so.' Hirotaka answered. 'Monkey Fist.... was still made of stone. He moved, fought and spoke, but... he was not flesh and bone. I was unable to stop him. He and the man who freed him disappeared.'

'And this man - what did he look like?' Kim said anxiously.

Hirotaka shrugged as if trying to remember foggy details. 'He was concealed in shadows. But I remember he was tall, and thin... and he bore a staff...'

Kim felt her fingers clenching. 'His name is Maze. He and Monkey Fist... did something to Ron. He's disappeared.' And she shared her tale of what had happened in the UNIT labs, as much of it as she could recall. When she described exactly how Ron and Rhonda had vanished, Sensei's face became worried, and the wrinkles that were hidden by his normally relaxed demeanor suddenly became prominent. Yori's face fell in shock.

'This news does not bode well.' said Sensei, shaking his head. 'Stoppable-san is the chosen one - destined to wield the Mystical Monkey Power and do great deeds.'

'Do you know... or can you guess where they took him? I have to find him somehow.' Kim said, unable to voice the possibility that Ron's disappearance was anything more sinister than some kind of teleportation.

'Alas, no.' said Sensei. 'I have never heard of anything like what you described to us, Possible-chan. It is mysticism of the kind we do not study at Yamanouchi.'

'Then... can I look around?' Kim said. 'If they did something to Ron, maybe they can undo it! If there are any clues here that might show me where Monkey Fist is hiding...'

Sensei looked doubtful. 'Our most skilled ninja have sifted every inch of the courtyard, and the shrine, and the area surrounding the school.' he said. All we found was this.' And from his sleeve, he took out a yellowing scroll of parchment.

Sensei handed it to her and she looked it over. She saw the strange monkeyish symbols and sections of the parchment that looked like drawings of landmarks. She held up her Kimmunicator. 'Wade?' she said, holding up the parchment. 'Look this over with the scanner - seem familiar?'

There was a pause while the scanner beam swept over the parchment with a mechanical hum. 'Sure does.' said Wade. This is the first half of the scroll that Monkey Fist used to find the original Yono shrine. He destroyed the second half at the museum.'

Kim sat in thought. 'Monkey Fist didn't have the scroll on him when he started walking the path of the Yono.' she said. 'Which means... Maze brought it with him when he came here to free Monkey Fist. Which means he must have gotten it from....'

'Monkey Fist's manor!' said Wade, snapping his fingers.

Kim looked eager again, with another solid lead to follow. 'How soon can you find me a ride?' she said.

Sensei's voice rose up. 'That will not be necessary, Possible-chan. The Yamanouchi school has many resources. We will arrange to have you taken to your next destination.'

Kim bowed her head. 'Thank you Sensei. You've been a great help.'

Sensei rose to his feet, and once he had fully stood up, Yori and Hirotaka rose as well. Kim stood too. 'It is our honor to aid you in your search for Stoppable-san.' he said. 'May good fortune follow your every footstep.'

'If I could ask one favor,' she said. 'Do you have... a phone number? In case I need to speak to you again....?'

Sensei smiled. 'Do not fear, Possible-chan. As with the matter of the Han, I will arrange for a means to contact you.'

It was only a few minutes later when a black helicopter rose from the courtyard of the ninja school and into the sky. Sensei watched as it dwindled into the distance before vanishing from sight, carrying Kim Possible with it. Yori looked at him. 'Master Sensei,' she said. 'Should we not send some of our students to aid in her search? I will go myself...'

Sensei shook his head. 'She will return here eventually, I think.' he said, and he looked back up at the grotesque form of the Yono shrine. 'For Kim Possible, I fear that the answers she truly seeks do not await her out there in the wide world... but within herself.'

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Far away in the North American continent, nestled in the midst of a region of mountainous forests, there was a well-ordered camp with a complex of cabins and a set of docks by the shores of a nearby lake. A thin line that was clear of trees marked the only road, which threaded through the forests to the entrance of the camp.

Chief Sakituya entered his cabin after a long day. The sun was westering to twilight and the entire expanse of Kamp Kwitcherbeliakin seemed grayish blue as the light faded. It wasn't easy for a man of his age to maintain the camp. He had his aches and pains the same as anyone. But he had a deep connection to the land about him, which the camp was at one and at peace with, and this gave him the strength and the endurance to complete his daily tasks. He tended the fire in his fireplace, casting some sweet-smelling herbs onto the dancing flames.

But he was not totally alone. As he sat down to rest and meditate, a hulking furry mass squeezed through the door. A huge grizzly bear let out a weary-sounding growl and pushed the door closed behind him with his snout before circling on the floor in front of the Indian chief and lying down.

Sakituya smiled. 'I do not blame you, Ikkinikinsstiwa.' he said. 'The nights are still cold, and your cabin has no fire. Stay as long as you wish, if you feel you can endure the snores of a tired old man.'

Gentle Paw snorted once before his massive body seemed to relax on the fur rug beneath him.

Chief Sakituya also relaxed and let his mind drift into the dream-like state between memory and reality. He sang, his voice sounding softly in the cabin. His words rose and fell in a musical chant, speaking words of past beauty, of present struggles, and the unknown future.

But his meditations came to a sudden end as he heard a noise outside, the distant, shrill cry of an eagle. Gentle Paw raised his head, rolling and sitting up on his haunches. Several more seconds passed in absolute silence.

'We have visitors, old friend....' said the Indian Chief.

At that moment, the door to his cabin opened, and the thin, lithe figure of a teenage boy with auburn hair stood on the threshold.

'Chief Sakituya.' said Grimm, his voice heavy and strained, 'I need your help.'

Next:
Chapter 8