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 7 of 10.
In moments, a woman’s voice came through the laptop’s speaker. Her voice was stern, her accent hard to place. “We’re approaching what appears to be General Matombe’s checkpoint on this road,” she said. “The soldiers are signaling us to stop. I’m leaving the radio on.”
Static, then a muttering male voice said something in French.
The woman replied in French, saying something that included Christiana Manowar, and SNN.
Now the man sounded much friendlier, or perhaps this was another man.
“Yeah, there she is,” said Wade, putting an overhead view of Christiana, her cameraman, and several of Matombe’s soldiers on the laptop’s screen.
They got back in the car and drove down the road.
“I believe we’re cleared to enter Kitanga,” Christiana said on her radio. “There’ll be another checkpoint in the city, and one at the airport entrance, where we’ll be searched for weapons. The interview will be recorded, and Matombe reserves the right to edit what comes out, so you’ll use the usual disclaimer. I can see glimpses of the lake now, so we’re not too far away.”
“Oooh! Good stuff!” said Wade. “With luck we’ll be the first to hear her interview with our opponent. Which is good, cause I can’t tap the airport terminal security camera any more. It didn’t take them too long to figure where the picture was coming from. I just hope they didn’t kill someone over this.”
“Oh, I feel so out of my league,” said Kim.
“Well, I t’ink you got a damn goot league for t’iss,” said Hans. “You guys make it happen. You know what everybody’s doing.”
“Speaking of which, there’s our two spies, still running back toward Kitanga,” Wade said, and raising his high-caffeine gamer’s soda in a mock toast. “Here’s hoping Matombe is impressed by their story. It’ll take them about four hours, jogging at this speed, but I bet they slow down long before that.”
“So we’re talking tonight,” said Kim.
“Well, they probably had radios, but these burned in their truck, so Matombe could send out another party as soon as now because they didn’t report back. He hasn’t done so, but he could. I’ve got all his license numbers now, and if any of his vehicles come toward us— well, what we do depends on how many come at once.”
“Any storms coming that could wreck the view?”
“It’s cloudy on the coast,” said Wade. “The forecast says this should break up before it gets here. They’re saying twenty percent chance of rain tonight.”
“This is really messing with your business deals, isn’t it?” said Kim.
“I’ve initiated a revenue stream,” said Wade. “It’s all about selling the right ideas to the right people. Don’t worry. I’m scheduling down till this crisis has ended.”
“How do you t’ink it’s gonna end?” asked Hans.
“A lot of things could happen. I hope somebody negotiates something, but we’ll see. Speaking of talking, Christiana’s reached another checkpoint.”
“Ah, bonjour, Madame Manowar,” a male voice said. The rest of the conversation went too quickly for anyone but Maria, who had just arrived, to make out.
“They’re telling her they’re glad she’s come, and giving her directions to the airport,” Maria said, putting her arm casually around Hans’ waist. “Good morning,” she said softly.
He shifted his rifle to one arm and hugged her with the other.
Kim and Ron got bowls of sweetened oatmeal from Ruthanne and took seats across from Ellen and Stephen, who handed them their plasma rifles.
“Your turn,” Ellen said. “We’ll see you at dinner.”
Stephen and Ellen held hands while they carried back their bowls and spoons, and hugged before separating to go into the boys’ and girls’ tents.
“When did that happen?” Kim asked.
“I don’t know,” said Ron. “Seems like a number of guys just recently decided they like one special girl, or vice versa. Maria and Hans were the first, I guess.”
“Aw, Rufus, dude!” Ron snatched the molerat from a now half empty bowl of oatmeal. “You gotta leave some for me.”
Rufus chittered angrily and pointed at the empty places.
“Okay, I get it. There’s no one else here.”
But then Marsha and Bones showed up. “What’s happening?” Marsha asked. “Where’s Ellen?”
“You missed her. She went to bed,” said Kim. “We shot the cannon at some spies—”
“Yeah, I know that. I mean what’s up with Rufus?” Marsha asked.
“Half of Ron’s oatmeal wasn’t enough.”
“Here, little dude, not that you look like you need it,” said Bones, offering Rufus a spoonful.
Rufus gulped down the whole spoonful, then promptly passed out on the table.
“It’s bad when he overeats,” said Ron. “I just hope he doesn’t barf.”
“I hate when he does that,” said Kim. “But he’s sweet, and funny, and I don’t know how many times he’s saved our lives on a mission by chewing a rope or a wire.”
“He can repair small electronic devices, too,” Ron said cheerfully.
“Yeah, right,” said Marsha.
“Maybe sometimes,” said Kim, “but I think the effects of that IQ-boosting ray are finally wearing off.”
“If that’s the case, maybe we can get him a booster dose,” said Ron. “But I think he’s just naturally smart, except when it comes to eating.”
“Sure,” Marsha said, not believing a word of it.
“Let it be, babe, everybody’s like that about their pets,” said Bones.
At this point Rufus let loose a huge burp, but mercifully, didn’t barf.
“I think I’ll wait a little while before I put him back in my pocket, just in case,” said Ron.
“Oh, I forgot,” Kim said, pulling the kimmunicator out of her pocket and turning it on, just in time to catch an overhead view of Christiana Manowar walking into the airport terminal with her cameraman and some soldiers.
“That’s the end of the radio,” Wade said. “She just turned it off. I’ll ring you the moment she starts uploading the interview.”
“Well, that’s anticlimactic,” said Kim. “Anything else going on?”
“The two spies have slowed to a walk. ETA some time after dark, unless someone goes out to pick them up. Okay, just a moment.”
Wade’s face was replaced by a series of random images and progress bars.
“Excuse me,” Kim said, picking up the kimmunicator and walking away from the table. “This is probably just for me.”
“You alone? Good,” said Wade. “This isn’t going to the computer. I just wanted you to know that food drops in the rebel zone are going as planned. Soldiers are taking larger portions, but they are sharing. I found your own villagers, both villages. They are both in pretty safe places, and have an okay stash of canned food. They’ve been through stuff like this before, and planned ahead. This is totally against the UN’s rules, but I won’t tell on them.”
“Oh, thank God,” Kim whispered. “I was so worried about them.”
When Wade tapped into Christiana’s satellite feed to SNN a couple hours later, nearly everyone in camp gathered around Mr. Tully’s laptop to watch it, even those who’d had guard duty the night before.
It began with a closeup of Christiana’s face.
“Here we are in the temporary headquarters of General Dabel Matombe, who has consented to this exclusive SNN interview.”
Christiana was sitting in an office chair in a small room, at an angle to the general, who was seated behind a scuffed-up looking metal desk, with two soldiers standing guard who usually remained off-camera.
The general spoke English with an accent mostly African, but with a touch of French.
“I am grateful to you, Christiana, and to SNN, for giving me the opportunity to tell the world, and especially the UN, the truth about what’s happening in Central Congo.”
“You wanted to make a statement about that.”
“Yes, the Central Congo civilian government is in theory a coalition. As you know, there are two clans— perhaps we should call them ethnic groups, for each has millions of people, who are most of the people in this country. The government supposedly represents both groups. The committee of generals is also in theory a coalition representing both groups, but in fact I am the only general representing the eastern group, but I am now removed from the committee. Why is that? Because I acted on behalf of my people against the policy of the other generals, because my people were starving.”
“According to my sources at the UN aid office, they are now making airdrops in the eastern hills.”
“Which will cause CHAOS!” Matombe said angrily. “People will fight and kill each other for the food. The food must be distributed by the soldiers, who will keep order.”
“There are some who say that the soldiers keep a larger share for themselves,” said Christiana.
“They always make sure that the people do not starve or get sick,” Matombe said. “You must understand that soldiers have a harder task than other people. They must not only stay alive till better times come, they must stay fit and healthy enough to fight. There are foreign militias, armed factions, bandits. For this reason, the soldiers must have a larger share.”
“What about those who say the officers, including yourself, enriched yourselves by selling UN aid supplies?”
“If we are selling the food, who has the money to buy it?” asked Matombe. “Consider this seriously before you believe these stories. The economy of the eastern provinces is village subsistence farming, and although it has rained recently, we are suffering from a drought and lean harvests. Who has the money to buy the food? Tell me, Christiana, who has the money?”
“That’s a very good question, General. I’d like to know the answer.”
Matombe shrugged. “Nobody has the money. You want to know where my own money comes from? My pay! Being a general in a country suffering civil war is difficult and dangerous work, and pays well. The other generals of the committee have bigger houses than mine. Perhaps they are the corrupt ones.”
“Well, you’re the one who’s created an incident. You brought your men to Kitanga, took over the airport, apparently wounded or killed at least two civilians in the process, and you’re holding hostages.”
The general laughed. “I do what I can do. The other side has four generals, twenty tanks, five jets, though I am not sure how many of these tanks and jets are in working order, and many times as many trucks, weapons, and men as I possess. Of course I must hold hostages. I regret that any civilians were killed in the airport takeover. It was unnecessary. Your network showed footage of me rebuking my men for this. But make no mistake— if I am attacked, many civilians will die.”
“Why do you think you need to take this action?”
“What did the other generals tell you, Christiana? That I should retire because of the scandal and be replaced by another easterner? General Lassa is also supposed to represent the east, but he does not. Nor will whoever replaces myself. I would likely be arrested, tried, and executed for treason, which would restart the civil war. I am here because I cannot accept those conditions.”
“What is it you want?” Christiana asked.
“I want to be put back in my rightful place on the committee of generals. I want the UN to open ground-based aid distribution camps in the east.”
“Would you accept asylum in another country?”
“No. This is not just about me.”
“What if the other generals appointed another commander to their number who does represent the eastern provinces?”
“I doubt that they would choose someone I would call acceptable.”
“It’s hard for me to imagine what it would be like for you to rejoin the junta— sorry, I mean the committee of generals. How could you possibly trust each other after this?”
“If I was a man who held grudges, I would have fought them to the death a decade ago. No. I want peace for both our peoples. I joined them once and I can join them again.”
“That’s the end,” said Wade. “When they broadcast this, Anchorman Copper will then come on to remind everybody that Matombe’s assertions have not been fact-checked and so forth, and then he’ll have a panel of experts discuss the situation. I guess SNN’s decided to feature this story. I’ve been casually listening to some of their studio chatter.”
“We never should have done anything,” Kim said.
“I agree, but what do we do now?” asked Luther Tully.
“He took over a city. He killed people. He didn’t have to do t’at,” said Hans. “Now he’s trying to make himself sound all noble.”
“What do we do now?” Maria asked.
“Well, what are the possible outcomes, and what do we want?” asked Ron. “Okay, the Central Congo army could decide they don’t care about Kitanga, and move in, and wipe him out. So, heavy casualties in Kitanga, and maybe the rebels start fighting again up in the hills. Then do we have peace here, or do the other armies move through? We don’t know, and even if it’s good for our villagers, it’s awful for everyone else. So we don’t want this to happen, right?”
“Oh course not,” said Kim.
“What’s everyone else think?” Ron asked. “Hans, Dieter, you’re the pros.”
“Ya, we want to avoid t’at,” said Hans.
“Well, if t’e other generals want to fight, t’ere’s no way for us to stop it,” said Dieter.
“Okay, so what if they don’t attack Matombe?” Ron asked. “What does he do? Just stay in Kitanga? That won’t be good for our villagers.”
“Agreed,” said Kim.
“So we all don’t want him staying in Kitanga, right?”
“What would we do wit’ him if we could do whatever we want?” asked Hans.
“He said he’s not into taking asylum,” said Maria.
“Ya. If we believe him, he wants to take care of his people, which means rebels and villagers in the eastern provinces.”
“So how he can do that?” Ron asked. “If he’s back in the junta, doing the corrupt general thing in the capitol, or also if he goes east and joins them.”
“Wade, do you have any idea if the generals would consider restoring him to power?” Kim asked.
“We might have some idea once this interview actually airs on SNN, if either the other generals or president make some kind of public reply. While it’s not impossible, especially if there’s a lengthy standoff and complications in the east, you don’t want him to stay in Kitanga.”
“So how about moving him east?” asked Ron. “Couldn’t the UN help negotiate some sort of deal to put him there and declare a truce? Cause it kinda was the UN’s fault this happened.”
“Our influence with the UN is waning, given that it led to this mess,” said Wade.
“You know, Matombe doesn’t have to have it his way,” said Dieter. “He could be imprisoned or dead. T’en t’ere’s no more problem.”
“Unless it causes the rebels to start fighting again,” said Ron.
“I was specifically told not to assassinate Matombe,” said Kim, “unless I could make it look like one of his own soldiers did it.”
“T’at’s an interesting loophole,” said Dieter.
“Whoa!” Wade exclaimed. “You didn’t tell me that.”
“Do we really want to go there?” asked Kim. “Any of us?”
“I certainly do not,” said Mr. Tully.
“I’d do it if I was ordered,” said Dieter.
“Would you, Hans?” Maria asked with some alarm.
“I don’t t’ink we’d get orders like t’at in t’iss situation,” said Hans. “It’s what you people call, uh, code gray?”
“Yeah, code gray,” Kim said glumly. “I’m really hating code gray. We can’t do anything.”
“Can we communicate with Matombe?” asked Ron.
“Yes,” Wade admitted. “They’ve got TVs and telephones. I can patch us in. But that’s the wildest of wild cards. Who are we gonna tell him we are? What leverage do we have to get him to do what we want? What can we offer him? And how’s he gonna respond?”
“I can talk to Dabel,” said Mr. Tully.
“I’m sure you can,” said Wade. “I’m sure you want to talk to him. But how’s he gonna respond? Who’s he gonna think you’re speaking for? Will he believe anything you say?”
“I understand,” said Mr. Tully.
“If any of you want to try roleplaying conversations with Matombe, and you come up with anything you think may help in some way, run it by me, but the more we mess with this sitch, the more cautious I am about doing little things that can have big effects.”
“Are you inspired?” Kim asked Ron.
“Heh, heh, well, not really.”
But inspired or not, Ron, the evil genius of Junta General Two, was drafted to roleplay General Dabel Matombe, while Kim, Hans, Dieter, Maria, and Mr. Tully all tried to convince him to move his troops east and join the rebels.
“Ah, but you are blocking ze road,” said Ron.
“The east road is blocked, yes,” said Maria, “but the northeast road you used to move aid boxes to the rebels is open.”
“Zat road is so, how you say, mucky, in ze rainy season. A few trucks can get ssrough maybe, but our convoy will be ze sitting ducks for ze attack. Open ze road and I will gladly make ze truce wiss ze UN.”
Kim did a facepalm. “Enough wiss ze accent, Rrrron. He doesn’t talk like that at all.”
“Who is this Rrrron? I am the great General Matombe, champion and defender of my people, and I have become a desperate man. Do you want to make a truce with me, or shall I fight my way out? What can forty soldiers do against more than a thousand? So what if you have ditches? We will surround and overwhelm you on foot. We will sneak up on you and cut you down one by one when you least expect it. We will do both these things and others. You cannot win. Open the road.”
“Ron, I mean Matombe, has a point,” said Dieter. “Talk of going east leads toward t’iss issue, and t’en what do we say? If he starts t’inking about us as an obstacle, t’en eit’er we do what he wants, or we have a battle. Can we win? Ya, I t’ink, t’ough it may depend on how well Wade can see wit’ t’e satellites when t’e soldiers come.”
Mr. Tully said, in his best sermon voice, “General Matombe, please listen to your old friend and repent the error of your ways.”
“Hey, point of info,” Ron asked, in a normal Ron manner, “Do you know if Matombe’s a Christian, Muslim, or something else altogether, cause I’m not sure how to take this approach.”
“Just wing it,” said Kim.
“Mine old friend, Monsieur Tully, surely you must know that a man in my position is forced to make compromises. Did not King David and his generals do many things that Jesus would have preached against? These circumstances offered me no better choice than to take the action I did. Circumstances which, I remind you, your own investigation of myself caused me to suffer. My apologies in advance if any of my men happen to kill you in battle, and the next time we meet, you are already a stinking corpse.”
“Now just wait a minute, brother general, this was all a misunderstanding between friends,” Mr. Tully pleaded. “If I had any idea that you were behind the looting of my trucks, or that this food would go to villagers even less fortunate than the ones in my care—”
“Enough of ziss blazzer, Monsieur Tully. You are only repeating ze slander you have already said against me.”
“Yes, you could react this way,” Mr. Tully admitted. “What can I say to you but I’m genuinely sorry.”
“Sorry does not cut eet! But perhaps we can reach an understanding, yes? I can put your aid camp and villagers under my full protection, in exchange for just a couple of young, white, nubile American hostages. I will not harm zem in any way, oh no, no, no. But hostages of ziss nature work better on ze world stage. Ze church girls, and ze U.S. pressident, very good. In a few monss when I am reinstated as committee general, I will reward you most handsomely, my friend. I will even pay ze hostage girls tuition scholarships, I am such ze nice guy.”
“Sorry, we ran out of nubile hostages,” Maria said. “Nothing here but hardassed UN soldiers.”
“Straight up!” said Kim, high-fiving with Maria.
“You know what’s really pitiful, Mr. Tully?” Ron asked in his normal voice. “I could see on your face that you partly wanted to go for this. Tells me something about Matombe’s charisma level if you want to believe in him this much, no matter what. Also tells me something about your gullibility level, that is, unless Matombe really is such a noble sacrificing guy. The truth probably is somewhere in the gray zone, but way too dark a gray for me to trust him with my life, much less Kim’s or Maria’s.”
“And that’s why we don’t want you talking to him, Mr. Tully,” Maria said. “Your friendship has given him a far stronger hold on you than you have on him.”
“I do believe Ron just proved that,” Mr. Tully admitted.
“I think Ron proved none of us are ready to talk to General Matombe,” said Kim.
Dot dot da-dot!
Wade’s face appeared on the Kimmunicator screen.
“No luck with the roleplaying,” Kim said.
“Excuse me a sec,” Wade said. “I’m having trouble descrambling the audio.”
A picture of Christiana Manowar’s vehicle appeared onscreen, stopped in the cane field, talking to the two soldiers from the truck hit by the homemade cannon at dawn. They were all speaking French, some of which Maria was able to translate.
Man’s voice: You can’t go that way, Christiana. They dug a deep ditch in the road and blew up our truck with a big shell.
Christiana: You seem unhurt.
Other man: We see the ditch across the road. We test the ground to see if we can drive off the road.
First man: I said, no the ground is soft, then we heard loud whistle, then big boom, and our truck was flames. We heard more shots, ran as far as we could.
“T’at’s a lie. We only shot once,” said Dieter.
“Shh,” said Hans.
Maria continued translating.
Second Man: How far is Kitanga?
Driver: Seven miles.
First Man: Could we ride, please? We walked all day with no food.
Christiana: I give you ride if you give me interview.
First Man: But no!
Christiana: Can’t you talk to me?
Second man: Better we go.
“Let’s go,” Christiana told her driver in English. “We may be around here for awhile. If we give them a ride now without getting an interview, I won’t be able to get interviews from anyone.”
The driver, who looked like a local, said, “You know, Miss Christiana, if we had just given them a ride, they probably would just start talking.”
“So, Mudib, you’re advising me, Christiana Manowar, how to get an interview?” she asked with some amusement.
“You know how to talk to generals and colonels and big people, my lady. Little people will just talk— unless you say interview, then it sounds like something important, that could get them in trouble.”
“The truth is, I didn’t really want to double back to give them a ride,” Christiana said. “The UN food distribution site is two hours east of here. I’d like to get there before dark. If all is going as it should, we can get pictures of UN soldiers and aid recipients. But I think something’s wrong. Their truck was hit with a shell? UN peacekeepers don’t use artillery, not in my experience. Some other force might be there, with them or in place of them.”
“You think it’s Central Congo army, or eastern rebels?”
“I doubt that anyone in the Central Congo is a good enough shot to hit a truck, first shot, with a gun that’s out of sight. Americans can do this kind of thing, Israelis, Russians, Chinese— Hmm, Chinese? They are actually here in the country, somewhere, building railroads, with some military support. Could a Chinese tank have fired the shot? London? This is Christiana! Please come in! There’s nothing but static, Mudib.”
“Wade, are you jamming her?” Kim asked.
He appeared onscreen, typing furiously. “I think she was about to request spy satellite photos, she may be able to get them, and I don’t think we want to let her have them.”
“You realize SNN has people who can hack you back,” said Kim. “Let her come. We’ll deal with her somehow. Oh, no!” The image on the screen was suddenly replaced by a series of progress bars and spinning clock faces.
“What’s happening?” asked Maria.
“Wade’s changing the encryption protocol again.”
“Ah so,” said Ron. “We are vely good commies from Peeper’s Repubric. Frew in big tank surprus from Mao’s Rong March!”
Kim laughed. “I think that’s a Japanese accent. Oh, look, the kimmunicator’s gone off. Wade must have really gotten freaked by something.” She tried pushing some buttons. “Nothing. Do you have your sat phone, Ron? We can call his land line.”
“Better not,” said Ron. “Overseas calls get tapped by Homeland Security folks looking for terrorists.”
“Right. I use regular phones so rarely, I forgot about that.”
“So, the way I see it,” said Ron, “it’s field trip time.”
“What’cha got in mind?” Kim asked.
“Double date! You, me, Hans, Maria, and our laser rifles, in Mr. Tully’s Land Cruiser. We go meet Christiana, tell her this is a special UN security zone, no trespassing. Come on, Kim, you’ve always wanted to meet her.”
“Well, yeah, but—”
“T’e simple plans are t’e ones t’at work goot,” said Hans.
Hans wanted to use his Range Rover instead, because it was marked as a UN truck, as well as being bigger and riding smoother— but he wanted Kim to drive. Ron sat beside her, leaving Hans with Maria in the back seat. It soon became obvious why this was exactly where they wanted to be.
“Isn’t this kind of unprofessional?” Kim asked dryly.
Ron turned to look and chuckled.
“Na, t’ere’s no officers here, we can do t’iss,” Hans said between kisses.
“You guys get to be together every night, all night,” Maria said. “We don’t have many opportunities.”
“I guess it’s okay,” said Kim. “We should get to the ditch long before Christiana does.”
“You did say double date,” said Hans.
“Fine,” said Kim. “Just make sure you disengage all tactile reconnaissance immediately and snap to attention the moment we hear Christiana’s engine.”
“Ya, of course,” said Hans.
“Come here, you,” Maria said, grabbing his head and kissing his lips.
The truck lurched and slopped over a mudhole.
“I just hope you guys don’t slam your heads together and knock any teeth out,” said Kim.
“T’at’s okay, we mmph—”
“Dude, don’t try to talk and kiss at the same time,” said Ron.
Kim drove them over a couple of low hills, around a corner, and down to a low area, where the road was a gravel causeway.
“This is the place,” said Ron. “The outer ditch is pretty obvious, but I made the inner one harder to see.”
“So you did,” said Kim, stepping on the brakes and stopping. “You were thorough.”
“That truck looks almost like you could still drive it from here,” said Ron.
It was beyond the outer ditch, and therefore some distance away.
“This would be good if we wanted to fight,” said Kim, “but I don’t think we can talk to Christiana from way over here.”
“Ya, I t’ink t’at’s so,” said Hans, disengaging his tactile reconnaissance units from Maria.
All four got out of the car, slung their plasma rifles over their shoulders, and climbed down and up the walls of Ron’s inner ditch.
The outer ditch had a soft, muddy berm, and a puddle collected on the bottom. From here they could see that the vehicle of the two soldiers was blackened on the outside and the inside upholstery burned to the metal springs.
“Not bad for a homemade weapon, not bad at all,” said Hans.
“I think Wade just had us build the tank to keep up morale till he could get us better weapons,” said Maria.
“Well, it was t’e best way to psych t’ose soldiers out. It even fooled Miss Manowar.”
“I know I said I wanted to talk to her, but I’m not sure what to say,” said Maria.
“This is a UN special security zone, no trespassing,” said Ron.
“And then she wants to know why,” said Maria.
“Just cause she’s curious doesn’t mean we have to tell her,” Ron replied.
“T’at’s right,” said Hans.
“I know Wade doesn’t trust her, but I can’t help thinking, maybe she can help us somehow,” said Kim. “Speaking of which, is he still off?” She pulled out her kimmunicator and tried to contact him, without success.
“Shh— I t’ink I hear a motor,” said Hans.