Rated M for Kim and Ron’s amorous behavior.
Kim Possible, Ron Stoppable, Rufus, Wade Lode, Mr. and Mrs. Dr. Possible, Jim and Tim Possible, Monique, Hope, and Dr. Betty Director are characters from the Kim Possible show, created by Mark McCorkle and Bob Schooley, owned and copyright © by the Walt Disney Company. This story © 2009 by cloudmonet. Chapter 4 of 10.
Luther Tully was missing at breakfast, so Maria offered the prayer of grace. He showed up in camp about the same time the trucks and villagers did.
“I’m sorry I missed breakfast,” he said. “I was up late and overslept.”
“Well, let’s check the inventory and distribute the aid,” said Maria.
“There’s no real point to doing the inventory,” Mr. Tully said. “We know it’ll all check out.”
“Yes there is,” Maria replied in an urgent, hushed voice. “If we change our routine, the truck drivers will know we know about the fake invoices.”
“I already reported this situation to the UN aid supervisor in the capitol,” Mr. Tully said.
“If we have different drivers, or armed guards, we’ll know the UN decided to take action,” said Maria. “Till then, I suggest we assume the situation is unchanged, and act accordingly. We’re checking this inventory.”
“You didn’t happen to report this sitch to anyone else, did you?” Kim asked the reverend with an edge to her voice. “We can’t trust anyone in the Central Congo government or military unless Wade vouches for them.”
“I understand,” the reverend said, bowing his head, not in prayer, but in shame.
Nanahno, Rutoba, and Humba were all in the line this day, and took turns translating instructions from Mr. Tully and Maria. When all the boxes were distributed, Nanahno took Kim by the hand and led her to a woman with a walking stick who looked frail and a bit disoriented.
Nanahno said something in Hurendu to the woman.
“This my mother,” Nanahno explained to Kim. “She is still sick, but she is better than before thanks to the medicine.”
“Kim?” the woman asked. “Hi, Kim. How are you?”
“I’m fine. How are you?” Kim replied.
“I’m fine,” the woman replied, though she clearly wasn’t. All the English she knew was this scrap of ritual conversation. She said a bunch of stuff to her daughter, who translated.
“She wants you to know her name is Ruma, and she wants to thank you for helping our family with food and medicine and being my friend. That’s all. Goodbye.” Nanahno chuckled. “My mother is funny.”
“Before you go, Ron and I wondered if we can come visit you sometime,” Kim said.
“No, that’s no good.” said Nanahno. “Sorry. We have nothing. It would be so rude for us to welcome a great friend like you to our village and home when we have no meal to share with you and no gifts to give to you.”
She wiped tears away and hurried after her mother.
“These poor people,” said Kim. “It’s so easy to say the wrong thing.”
“I’m trying to figure them out,” said Ron.
Kim and Ron were washing their clothes at the tub when a Range Rover with the UN insignia on the side door drove beside the fence toward the main parking lot. “Looks like something’s happening,” said Kim. “Could you be a dear and finish these for me while I check it out?”
“Sure thing, KP,” Ron replied.
Kim sprinted over to the parking lot and found herself standing beside Maria, who was shaking hands with two UN peacekeeping soldiers armed with plasma rifles. Mr. Tully was somewhere else.
They were both tall, blonde, and spoke English with Nordic accents. They identified themselves as Hans and Dieter from Copenhagen.
“We did not know t’iss assignment would include protecting two such beautiful girls,” Hans said.
Much to Kim’s surprise, Maria seemed flattered by this hokey come-on.
Kim said, curtly, “I’m glad the UN sent you both here to help Ron and I protect this place.”
“Ah, you already got a boyfriend,” Dieter said. “Looks like t’ere plenty ot’ers here t’ough.” He smiled and waved at the volunteer girls who were walking toward them.
Kim rolled her eyes. “So what’s your mission, besides cruising chicks?” she asked.
They both laughed. “Well, we don’t know quite what’s goin’ on,” said Dieter. “T’e UN t’inks you need protection while t’ey check out some trouble.”
“So you know about the looted trucks, the forged paperwork, the soldiers and the rebels?” Maria asked. “I’m the one in charge of inventory.”
“Ya, t’at’s goot,” said Hans. “You don’t need to worry now.”
“We got people negotiating with t’e rebels,” said Dieter. “I t’ink we’re gonna start with air drops, maybe open a center like t’iss one over t’ere.”
“What about whoever’s been scamming profits off looted food?” asked Maria.
“T’at’ll stop,” said Hans.
“What about the forged documents?” asked Kim.
“Well, could we see t’em?” asked Dieter.
“Ya, t’at’s a goot idea,” Hans agreed.
Most of the inventory lists were in a file cabinet in Mr. Tully’s trailer, but Maria, Stephen, and Mark had been comparing the three most recent lists, on the theory that gaps in the box numbers might still reveal which boxes were missing, so they could in theory be traced.
Ron joined them at the picnic tables, having hung up the wet laundry.
“Whew! T’iss looks like t’e real t’ing,” Dieter said, examining the inventory list. “You t’ink so too, Hans?”
“Look. T’e sun shows t’e watermark,” said Hans. “How can t’ey make t’iss paper t’e same? Must be t’e same paper. How did t’ey get it?”
“Oh, no!” Kim exclaimed. “It must be someone working in the UN office. What if they warned our mastermind? What if the soldiers come here?”
“T’at’s why we’re here,” said Hans. “T’e commander t’inks just like you.”
“We’d better find out who’s the mole in the UN aid office,” said Kim. “I had a feeling about this, remember, Ron? We should have talked directly to the boss instead of letting Mr. Tully file paperwork.”
“On the bright side, we’ve got two dudes with plasma rifles now,” said Ron.
Luther Tully seemed none too pleased with this turn of events, even though it was his own fault that Hans and Dieter were sent here. He didn’t think the villagers would react well to soldiers of any type. He really didn’t like their music, either, some sort of Eurobeat techno stuff, but after Maria had a discussion with the volunteers, she overruled him. Hans and Dieter turned up their ghetto blaster, and played MP3’s for a dance party that lasted till the moon was high.
So it was late when Kim and Ron called Wade from their tent, or the middle of the day in Middleton.
“I tried to call you earlier,” he said.
“I just noticed the message,” said Kim. “I guess I didn’t hear the ring. The music was kinda loud.”
“Well, my news starts with two UN soldiers from Copenhagen, who should arrive sometime tomorrow.”
“Hans and Dieter? Already here,” said Ron. “We just partied with them half the night.”
“I wouldn’t wanna just sit and listen to that techno stuff,” said Kim, “but it’s fine for dancing.”
“Okay,” said Wade, “so they’re already there to help protect the camp, in case any soldiers show up. You’ll also have new drivers, and cargo guards. And they’re going to arrange air drops for the rebels and other people in the east.”
“I got news about the forged invoices that’s kinda troubling,” said Kim. “Hans and Dieter examined these carefully. Both the real and the fake invoices are printed on paper with the same special watermarks, and probably with the same printer, which means there could be a mole in the UN aid office.”
“I wonder who,” said Wade. “Well, let’s try the obvious. I’ll check out the person who prepares the real inventory lists. That would be, um, Brigetta Maelstrom.”
Her ID picture appeared on the kimmunicator screen— young, tanned, with pale blonde hair and eyebrows and a gray business suit.
“Let’s see, she’s 23 years old, born in Stockholm, spent her junior year as an exchange student at William McKinley High School in Columbus, Ohio, got a business degree from Walden College in Connecticut— that’s the kind of stuff her boss knows about her.”
“Now for the good stuff,” said Kim.
“Yeah,” Wade said, going into a frenzy of typing. “My Place and E Journal. Hmm. Nice—”
A picture of Brigetta sitting on a beach chair, wearing a red string bikini and a straw hat, appeared on the kimmunicator screen.
“This is about four years old,” said Wade.
“She’s hot, but is she bad?” asked Kim.
“Mmm, so far, such badness as I can find is directly related to the hotness. I found topless—”
“No thanks,” Kim said, dryly adding, “What do you call a kid who wants to molest adults?”
“Uh, jailbait?” Ron offered, and got an elbow to the ribs. “Well, you asked,” he protested.
“Alas, girls my own age are still in middle school,” said Wade. “Brigetta’s newer stuff is password protected. I wonder, is it because the pictures are even steamier, or is there some other reason?” He typed, and typed, and typed. “I’m in!” he exclaimed. “Oh— this is very interesting!”
“Something besides her silly body, I hope,” said Kim.
A picture of a blonde girl standing between two young black men appeared. They were wearing cammo ghetto pants and black T-shirts; she was wearing a black bikini top, a black miniskirt, and fairly extreme cosmetics. It was hard to recognize her as Brigetta.
“What do you think, Ron?” Kim asked. “Goth, punk, or goth light?”
Wade said, “The caption says, Kinshak, Saturday night. Me and the boys had a fun time dancing to this conga rap group. I forget their name. Too loaded, I guess. She didn’t date it, but it’s in last November’s folder. I wish I could find out just who her boys are. Let me try to pull up some more pictures.”
“Punk poser,” said Ron.
The next picture showed Brigetta, without her punk poser makeup, wearing a little black dress and pumps, standing beside a Central Congo soldier, in uniform, with his grenade launcher over one shoulder, and his other arm around her shoulder.
“It says, Me and Kauda in the bush,” said Wade. “This looks like the guy on the left in the first picture. Okay, so, that’s Kauda, and he’s wearing an officer’s uniform.”
“You don’t think he has a My Place site, too, do you?” asked Ron.
“She has more pictures of him here,” said Wade.
One showed him from a low angle with his shirt off, looking stern and heroic. A closer portrait showed a clear enough view of his uniform shirt to show the name patch on the sleeve, Cl. K. Matombe.
“Colonel Kauda Matombe?” asked Kim. “Brigetta’s dating General Matombe’s son?!”
“Let me check the relationship,” Wade said, opening other browser windows. “Yes, General Matombe does have a son named Kauda, who was recently promoted to colonel. We’ve connected all the dots! He’s our man. What do we do?”
“I think the UN has to know about this,” said Ron. “Otherwise, anything General Matombe wants to do, he can make it look like the UN supports him.”
“If Brigetta’s exposed,” said Wade, “the UN can either expose Dabel Matombe and try to get him expelled from the junta, or do nothing, and then Matombe thinks he’s smarter and stronger than they are. Which will they choose? It’s beyond our control. If they choose to confront him, the junta may remove him, or not. If removed, he could run away and join the rebels. He’s got some ties with them. If he keeps his position, the UN may have to shut down the aid office. Or the UN could use force against him— troops from NATO, or even China.”
“China?” asked Kim.
“They’ve got a contract to build a rail system. There’s some Chinese troops here already, to protect the railroad from bandits and looters, many of whom may be off-duty Central Congo soldiers. China could fight for the UN.”
“So exposing Brigetta could start a completely unpredictable chain-reaction of war?” Kim asked.
“Oy vay!” said Ron. “Either choice sounds terrible. I’m confused.”
“I think we have to tell the UN what they should know, and trust them to take care of the sitch as they see fit,” said Kim. “When it comes to problems like this, they’re experts and I’m not.”
“I’ll call Dr. Director,” said Wade.
Kim pulled off her shoes and socks, shirt and shorts, and lay back on the sleeping bag in her black lace underwear. “Did I tell Wade the right thing? The UN knows what to do and I don’t? That’s why I want to go to college, right? So I know how to handle bad guys I can’t just beat up and hand over to the cops. So I know how to handle a sitch like this.”
“I just got confused,” Ron said while pulling off his own outer clothes.
“We’ll both know more when we finish college, right?”
“Wade finished college and he wasn’t sure.”
“He majored in engineering, and he is only 14. If we take history, sociology, political science— the more I think about it, the more I think I’m doing good here. I hope we can make the villagers like Hans and Dieter.”
“Hmm, how about Mr. Tully?” asked Ron.
“I’m kinda surprised by Maria. I wouldn’t have guessed either of them was her type at all, but she clearly likes Hans. He flirted just a little, she warmed up to him, and then they talked, and then they danced. I just hope he doesn’t break her heart.”
“She’s a big girl, Kim.”
“Yeah, right. I hope she doesn’t think Jesus answered her prayers with this guy.”
“Maybe Hans really likes her.”
“I’m not so cynical that I’m gonna say I doubt that,” Kim said, rolling on her side to face Ron. “What I wonder is for how long?”
“They sat with us at dinner. You heard them talk. Didn’t it kind of remind you of us?” When Ron rolled on his side, it seemed like his shoulders were wider than they used to be.
They looked at each other in the moonlight filtered through the green nylon tent, pulled each other into an embrace, and closed their eyes to kiss. When Kim opened her eyes, she noticed her clasp was undone, the straps sliding off her shoulders. She smiled, sat up, and pulled it off.
“I guess it’s not a dare anymore,” she said, pulling off her bottoms and reaching for the purple box.
The next day three trucks arrived with new drivers, full loads, and UN guards, who exchanged pleasantries with Hans and Dieter. The villagers looked warily at the four peacekeepers, and none of the children dared approach the gate till Kim appeared.
“Who are these soldiers?” Nanahno asked Kim.
“They’re UN soldiers,” she replied.
Nanahno translated this to the two men who came with her, who discussed this with each other.
Kim looked at Mr. Tully and Maria. “How should I explain this?” she asked.
“Why are they here?” Nanahno asked. “I’m wondering this, and so are the men. I think they’re here because bad soldiers are coming. Tell me what’s true, Kim.”
“I’m really not sure, but yes, bad soldiers could be coming,” said Kim.
Nanahno clung to Kim as Hans approached, smiling, his hand extended in friendship.
“T’e bad soldiers might not come here,” he said. “We don’t know where t’ey might come. T’e UN is guarding all t’e distribution sites and trucks now. T’at’s what we should’ve done before.”
“Kim, is he lying or fooled?” asked Nanahno.
“Nanahno, I trust your experience,” said Kim. “If you think what you see here means Central Congo soldiers will show up, you’d better be ready for that. And we should be ready too.”
“I’m always ready,” said Hans. “But I t’ink if t’ey come we’ll hear about it on our radio.
“A major troop movement, yeah,” said Kim. “A small group like the guys who’ve been doing the looting, maybe not so much.”
Nanahno was translating the substance of this exchange to the two men with her, who told her to say this to Kim.
“A whole army or a big group of soldiers is not so bad. A small group will steal or kill or do whatever they want.”
“That makes sense,” said Kim.
After that, most of the villagers who came for the food and medicine were men or older boys, and now Nanahno’s big brother, Iko, did the translating. The villagers were happy for now, because there was plenty for everyone, but they feared bad times would soon return.
Hans and Dieter had satellite radio contact with the UN aid distribution office in the capital. Everything seemed to be going smoothly there. Any potential scandal from this entire affair seemed to be getting handled quietly. Perhaps the professionals, as Kim, Ron, and Wade had hoped, did know how to handle this situation.
Kim and Ron learned this was probably not the case on the night of their sixteenth day at the camp.
They were in the middle of greatly enjoying each other’s company, when they saw a flashlight shine and heard the rustle of footsteps. At first they thought it was just someone from one of the other tents, but then the light shone on the tent fabric.
“Hey, Kim? It’s Maria,” she said quietly.
“Aaaah!” said Ron. “No peeking!”
The light went out. “I’m sorry, but I—”
“It’s okay, Maria” said Kim. “Shh, relax,” she quietly told Ron. “This stuff happens. No big!” Then she raised her voice, “Hey, Maria! What do you want?”
“There’s soldiers in Kitanga. A lot of soldiers.”
“Okay, we’ll be right out,” said Kim. “I’m sorry, Ron,” she said softly, giving him a brief kiss.
“The mission comes first,” he agreed. “Hey Maria, could you turn your light on like it was but don’t look in? It’s really dark without it.”
It was a cloudy night, before moonrise. The flashlight cast a ghostly green light bright enough to sort out underwear and shirts.
“Thanks, Maria,” Kim said, pulling on her cargo shorts, socks, and shoes. She unzipped the tent door and crawled out, holding the kimmunicator. She had Wade onscreen by the time Ron crawled out.
Wade was in an unfamiliar office, with a woman in a lab coat, two men in suits, and probably some others. “Excuse me just a moment,” he told them. “I’m kinda busy, Kim. What’s happening?”
“Know anything about troops moving into Kitanga?”
“No. But I’ll try to learn whatever I can as soon as I can,” he said. “Can I call you back?”
“Uh, okay,” said Kim, and signed off.
As Maria led them toward Luther Tully’s trailer, she said, “Mr. Tully has some friends in Kitanga. He was online, chatting with somebody there. Two trucks arrived just before dark. Now there’s at least fifteen trucks, and more arriving every hour. That’s probably more than a hundred soldiers already, maybe two hundred.”
“Did you get Kim?” Mr. Tully asked when Maria opened the travel trailer door. “They’ve taken over and closed the Kitanga airport.”
“I’m here,” said Kim.
“And so am I,” said Ron.
Mr. Tully gave her a completely dejected look. “This is all my fault. I never should’ve filed that paperwork with the Central Congo civilian oversight board.”
“I don’t think that went through,” said Kim. “When Wade learned about the UN report, he checked all the other places you might have filed reports.”
“So it just comes to them and gets deleted,” said Mr. Tully. “I’m not surprised. But somebody could’ve read it before they deleted it.”
Kim didn’t think Wade would want Mr. Tully to know he had redirected the forms to a fake website in Cape Town, so she didn’t tell him about this. But she didn’t see any reason not to tell him about Brigetta.
“This is probably happening because of the girl in the UN aid distribution office in the capital who prepared both the real and fake invoices. Nobody knew until recently that her boyfriend was General Matombe’s son, Colonel Kauda Matombe.”
“What?! Oh, Lord save us!” Mr. Tully exclaimed, looking panicked. “He’s coming to get me. He’s gonna shut us down.”
“Amp down, dude,” said Ron, “I mean, reverend, sir. You didn’t know anything about that part of the sitch at all.”
“General Matombe doesn’t know I didn’t know that. I was his friend, Ron. That counts for a lot in this country. It looks like I betrayed him bad.”
“You might be in some kind of danger,” said Kim, “but coming after you hardly requires a military takeover of Kitanga. Something bigger is going down. I wish Wade were available to figure it out.”
“What do you do if you’re part of the ruling junta, and it looks like the other generals are gonna take you out?” asked Ron. “Well, if you got your own army, that is guys loyal to you, you probably take this army wherever you can move it, take over the area, make a stand, and offer to negotiate. I figure it could’ve taken a couple days for the political winds to blow against General Matombe, and a few more for him to get this move together.”
“Ron, that’s brilliant!” said Kim.
“I’ve done things kinda like that myself a few times. There’s this new game, Junta General Two, and—”
Kim laughed. “Well, it sounded brilliant.”
“I’ll have you know that a lot of strategy and simulation games have pretty sophisticated scenario models behind them,” Ron said defensively.
“Well, if you were playing this game as Matombe, what would you do next?”
“Secure the area and procure resources,” said Ron.
“So that means martial law and looting?” Kim asked.
“Yeah, pretty much, unless I’m popular, in which case I’d want to turn the locals to my side.”
“Well, Mr. Tully. You’re the one who knows Kitanga. Does Dabel Matombe have charisma points with the locals?”
“Kim, this is serious!” Mr. Tully said.
“Well, does he?”
“I don’t think he’s gonna do anyone any good,” the reverend said, and typed, Any update on the soldiers? on his laptop keyboard, but his friend made no reply. He tried searching for anyone else from Kitanga without success.
“We should tell Hans and Dieter about this,” said Maria.
“I guess we should,” Mr. Tully admitted. “You do it. You get along with them.”
“Make sure they tell their UN commanders that there’s a real and immediate threat here,” said Kim. “Although we don’t know for certain what’s happening, or even if Dabel Matombe is really the commanding officer— it looks bad. Kitanga’s what, a two hour drive from here?”
Kim and Ron followed Maria outside the trailer. “We’ll see you tomorrow,” Kim said quietly.
“You’re not coming with me to see Hans?” she asked.
Kim pulled out her kimmunicator and loaded the first map. “We’re gonna go warn the villagers.”
“C’mon, Ron,” she said, jogging onto the road.
The rising moon was a ghostly light between layers of clouds, just bright enough to show them the lay of the land. Kim turned down the brightness of her kimmunicator screen to minimum, so her eyes would adjust to the dark.
“Slow down a little, KP,” Ron called out, and she slowed enough for him to run beside her.
“Let’s run while we can,” she said. “When we leave the road, we’ll have to walk most of the time.”
After about a mile, they were under trees as well as clouds, and slowing to a walk. “Look for a trail on the left. We should be pretty close to it.” Kim fumbled with the buttons to enlarge the scale of her map.
“Yeah, it’s pretty obvious,” said Ron, running ahead to a trampled area half the width of the road.
It soon narrowed, and became hard to follow through the shadows of the trees.
“They walk this way every day,” said Kim. “If we start brushing against bushes, we’ve gone wrong somehow.”
Twice they had to double back a short distance. The trail itself wasn’t on the map, but the clearing where a village and its gardens were located was marked clearly, and they were getting closer to it.
It was getting harder and harder to see anything, for both the clouds and forest canopy seemed to be getting thicker. Then Kim brightened the kimmunicator screen, and used it as a flashlight.
She stepped out of the trees into the village clearing just as a light mist began to fall.
“I hope they appreciate this,” said Ron.
“Hello! Is anyone here! It’s Kim!” she called out.
The houses, or huts, were made of poles, split boards, and split palm-leaf thatch, mostly, with a gap between walls and roof serving for windows, mats covering the dirt floors, and hanging blankets for doors. People began to light lamps and peer out these doorways.
“Kim!” shouted Nanahno, peeping out one blanket door with her big brother, Iko. “Kim, I missed you!” The little girl ran out in the drizzle, wearing only her pale underpants, and embraced Kim tightly.
“Why did you come here in the middle of the night?” asked Iko.
“There’s trouble,” said Kim. “Soldiers have come to Kitanga, the big town on the lake. Lots of soldiers. We think General Matombe could be there.”
“They’re just going to the eastern hills like before to fight the rebels, because they stole our food,” said Iko.
“Uh, we think General Matombe got booted from the junta, and he’s now a rebel himself,” said Ron.
“General Matombe’s soldiers gave the rebels your food,” said Kim. “Wade watched this with the space satellite. Usually you don’t worry about a big army because the general makes the soldiers behave well. But sometimes rebel generals order their army soldiers to loot.”
“Are you sure about this?” asked Nanahno.
“Is this what Wade says?” asked Iko.
A number of men peered out of their blanket doors, and some women too, chattering sharply to each other and the two children in their own language. It seemed like Nanahno was saying something, and Iko was saying something else.
“What are they saying?” asked Kim.
Nanahno said a bunch of stuff.
Iko said some other stuff.
“Kim, tell Iko you know what you’re talking about,” said Nanahno. “The men want proof, because this doesn’t sound right to them.”
Dot dot da-dot!
“Ah, right on cue,” said Ron.
“Hey Kim,” said Wade, “I’m really sorry about earlier, especially when I found out— Wait, where are you?”
“I’m standing in front of Nanahno’s house, in her village, talking to them about the soldiers who took over the Kitanga Airport. I think everybody’s in danger. What do you think?”
“Whatever’s going on is big, but it’s kinda hard to see much through the clouds, even with the D-phase centaur.”
A vague shimmery image appeared on the screen of a bright blob parking next to some dimmer blobs.
“That’s probably another troop carrier truck showing up,” Wade explained. “See, those dimmer blobs are soldiers getting out.”
“Are there security cameras inside the airport terminal?”
“Heh, heh, probably whatever they have is strictly closed-loop. Doesn’t mean I can’t get in, but it’s hard— oooh, never mind, I got it! Check this out! Let me make sure I’m recording.”
The inside of the terminal was teaming with soldiers, most of them armed with grenade launchers or automatic rifles. A couple of them came through carrying someone on a stretcher, someone whose civilian clothes were spattered with blood.
Nanahno crowded close to see, then barked a rapid fire of syllables at Iko and the men.
A couple of men came out, dressed in boxer shorts, and looked at the kimmunicator screen, on which they saw other soldiers carrying a wounded or possibly dead middle-aged woman. The watching men spat out cascades of angry syllables.
“War is horrible,” said Nanahno. “Iko, tell Kim you’re sorry.”
“I’m sorry,” he said, wiping tears from his eyes.
They watched the soldiers moving, standing, sitting, and sleeping in the wide hallway.
“I could have seen this coming,” said Wade’s voice, “if only I’d watched the right roads at the right time with the right spy satellite.”
Kim said, “Ron has the theory that General Matombe got removed from the junta because of the Brigetta Maelstrom problem, and is moving his loyal troops to Kitanga to make a stand, or negotiate, or something.”
“Oh, look!” said Wade.
The soldiers quickly stood up, moved into orderly lines and looked down the hall away from the camera.
“I wish I could get sound,” Wade said. “There he is, General Matombe!”
The soldiers and officers all saluted the approaching man, tall, stout, and imposing, with many awards and insignias attached to his uniform. He stopped, returned their salute, and began speaking.
“I don’t know what he’s saying, or even what language he’s using, but I’m recording this,” said Wade.
To judge from his expressions and body language, General Matombe was speaking urgently and passionately.
One of the men watching made a comment, and Nanahno said, “He said he looks like a crazy man.”
“He’s totally lost his cool,” said Ron. “He’s like Hitler or something.”
“I wish I knew what he’s so upset about,” said Kim.
“He could be upset about the civilians getting shot,” said Wade, “or he may be urging them to slaughter all his enemies. I don’t know. Let’s keep watching.”
One of the men said something to Nanahno, who translated Wade’s words. Then he said something back to her.
On the screen the general moved toward the camera, and out of view, followed by some other officers, one of whom Wade, Kim, and Ron recognized as the general’s son, Colonel Kauda Matombe.
“I don’t dare move the camera,” said Wade. “If I do, they’ll realize someone’s watching them, and maybe think it’s other civilians, and shoot them or something.”
“What do we do?” asked Kim. “No matter what, it just gets worse. What about these poor villagers?”
“We can hide,” said Nanahno. “We’ve done it before. Thanks to you we weren’t surprised.”
“I just hope you don’t starve while you’re hiding.”
“We live on hope,” said the little girl. “That’s all that anyone can do.”
One of the men called out something, and immediately, from inside several huts, there came a deep rumble of conga drums something like the rhythm to Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away.”
“That’s how we send messages to other villages,” Nanahno explained, speaking very quietly.
“I’ve seen that in movies,” said Ron.
“Will the sound carry far enough in the rain?” Kim asked.
“Shuh shuh,” said Nanahno. The drumming stopped, and after a pause, the faint tapping of a similar rhythm could be heard between the steady patter of raindrops on the mud. She smiled. “We’re gonna be okay,” she whispered, hugging Kim tight. “But you have to go. We can’t have anybody see us go to our hiding place, not even you. We’ll never forget how you helped us, Kim.”
“Kim Possible,” she said. “If you ever want to find me, that’s my whole name.”
“Nanahno Kasimpa,” the little girl replied, and ran back into her hut, waving anxiously for her big brother, Iko, to follow.