cloudmonet’s kim stories

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Ninjas on the River

Kim Possible, Ron Stoppable, Rufus, Felix Renton, Monique, Wade, Yori, Hirotaka, Fukushima, Sumo Ninja, and Nakasumi are characters from the Kim Possible show, created by Mark McCorkle and Bob Schooley, owned and copyright © by the Walt Disney Company. The story takes place while Kim and Ron are going to college, a couple of years after “So the Drama,” and shortly after my earlier story, “Valley of the Monkeys.” This story © 2005 by cloudmonet.

Quiet as cats, two ninjas crept through a stony wasteland in western China, a well-guarded secret laboratory their target. Rain fell steadily from shadowy night clouds. The searchlight made a slow circle, casting deep shadows. Fukushima, the smaller ninja, gestured to his companion, the huge Sumo Ninja, who hurled a globe the size of a soccer ball far over the fence. It exploded on impact with the ground, spreading a thick chemical fog over the area.

Donning gas masks, Fukushima and Sumo Ninja scrambled over the fence and ran through the fog to the wall of the building. Fukushima threw his grappling hook up to the bars on a second floor window, climbed up, placed small incendiary devices, slid back down to the ground. With a muffled pooft! the bars broke off and fell to the ground with a clang.

Fukushima threw his grappling hook again, this time breaking the window glass. Quickly he climbed up, broke the rest of the glass, and slipped inside. Sumo Ninja followed, climbing up the rope. He couldn’t quite squeeze through the window, though, so he tried a few well-placed chops and kicks, then pulled out chunks of concrete.

“Cheap Chinese concrete,” he said in a voice that rumbled and squawked.

“This way,” said Fukushima, pulling off his gas mask and running down the corridor.

Sumo Ninja pulled off his and followed, running like thunder.

“What’s this?” said a Chinese soldier in olive drab.

Fukushima made a flying leap and spun in midair to knock the soldier down. “This any good?” he asked, seizing the gun. He bent the barrel with his hands over his knee until it kinked. “No good,” he said.

Two other soldiers came down the hall behind Sumo Ninja, who threw a smoke capsule over his shoulder, then spun around, picked up the first soldier and threw him at the second one.

“Hurry, my friend,” said Fukushima, forcing open the door at the end of the hall with a pry bar.

“Like the wind,” Sumo Ninja replied.

“And now we must find the weapon system plans of Dr. Fu.”

“Not while I stand guard,” said a young woman’s clear voice.

“No, it can’t be—” said Fukushima.

Yori stepped out of the shadows, holding her slashing fan, her lithe body dressed in black, her dark eyes narrowed with determination and purpose. “It will be my honor to save the world from you and your employers,” she said.

“How could you possibly know our plan?” asked Fukushima.

“The light always has the power to illuminate the darkness,” Yori replied.

“Illuminate this!” said Fukushima, throwing a smoke capsule.

“I will,” said Yori, fanning away the smoke as she jumped toward Fukushima.

They dodged each other’s kicks and blows with consummate skill. Sumo Ninja pushed Fukushima to one side and came at Yori, who simultaneously kicked his sternum and punched his nose, knocking him on top of Fukushima, who howled in pain. Sumo Ninja grabbed Fukushima, dragged him down the hall, and leaped out the window into the dark rainy night.

“They have escaped,” a Chinese officer said to Yori.

She bowed with her palms pressed together. “There could be more ninjas, who would steal the plans while I chase those two. You’re the officer. Would you have me continue guarding this place, or go after Fukushima and Sumo Ninja?”

“I think I’d better ask the general.”

Rain fell steadily outside the windows of the Northwest State University Library, where Kim Possible and her fiancé, Ron Stoppable, were sitting on a couch in the lounge with nearly twenty books about China, Japan, North and South Korea, Russia, and Vietnam spread out on the table.

“At least we both got B’s on that essay test,” said Ron. “Well, you got a B plus.”

“Not that either of us exactly wrote deathless prose,” said Kim. “I could’ve done so better with more time.”

“I couldn’t.”

“Well, sweetie—” Kim sighed. “Okay, we’ll talk about it, and go over the rough drafts of each other’s papers. I used to think this was cheating, but we’re planning our lives as a team, and learning stuff together toward this goal. But no procrastinating. I want to see your rough draft before I show you mine.”

“Not to worry,” said Ron.

“No worry,” echoed Rufus, Ron’s pet naked mole rat, hopping out of Ron’s cargo pants pocket and climbing onto his shoulder.

“Don’t spend all your evenings with Felix on the game console,” said Kim.

“Like that’s gonna happen!” Ron complained. “He spends all his time with Belinda now. And worse, he’s speaking Belinda-ese— karma, consciousness, reincarnation, enlightenment. It’s like the wisdom of the east, but filtered through California somehow and it’s just weird.”

Kim giggled. “Okay, back to the economic strategies of east Asia.”

“Remind me why we wanted to take this class,” said Ron.

Kim was thumbing quickly through a book about China. “Okay, this one is a maybe. It’s well-written but not real up-to-date.”

Ron looked through a book about Japan. “I don’t see much about video games and anime. I mean, how can they gloss over major exports like that?”

Rufus studied the pages and shook his head.

“That’s an idea, though,” said Kim. “They Śre big business, with wide social impact. Japan, of course, but South Korea, too.” She tossed a thin book about Vietnam aside, saying, “This book’s too old.”

“See, I don’t think old matters that much if it’s easy to read. We can update it with magazines and internet stuff.”

“That’s true,” said Kim, picking the book back up and glancing at a page. “So not easy to read,” she said, tossing it aside again.

Soon they winnowed the pile down to eleven books. When they picked up their jackets, Rufus jumped into Ron’s pocket, and they carried the books to the checkout, near the big ancient Egyptian granite baboon.

“It’s bigger than the ones we saw in the tomb,” Kim remarked.

They split the books between backpacks, put on their jackets, and walked down the steps in the rain.

Hirotaka gunned the engine of his motorcycle, weaving in and out of traffic on the river road, trying to get ahead of the speedboat. Yori clung to his black leather jacket, feeling the chill autumn wind biting her face and whipping her dark hair. Ahead was a bridge with a steel overstructure.

“Take me there, Hirotaka-san,” Yori said.

“And then?”

“I will meet you at the harbor, downriver.”

“I would be honored to fight beside you, Yori.”

“I know, but we have no time to park the bike,” she said. “Don’t even slow down.” Yori withdrew a grappling hook gun from her pouch. The motorcycle rose toward the center span of the bridge. Yori fired the grappling hook at the downstream side of the truss, which gripped, and she flew off the motorcycle and swung high over the traffic, between the truss beams, and down a long spool of cord to land on her feet on the deck of the speedboat with her slashing fan ready for action.

Fukushima stooped to grab a fishing net and threw it over Yori, who slashed at it with her fan, but was tripped by the loose coils of another net thrown by Sumo Ninja, who wrested the fan from her hand and pinned her to the deck.

“I have her pinned!” said Sumo Ninja. “Steer the boat!”

Yori struggled fiercely, then relaxed, saving her energy for an opportunity.

Fukushima steered the boat in a tight circle, back under the bridge and upriver.

“Little girl, you have interfered with our plans for the last time,” said Sumo Ninja.

“That would be true if you plan to surrender,” said Yori.

Sumo Ninja cackled like a crow.

Suddenly Yori’s wrists were no longer pinned by his hands, and her sharp fingers jabbed hard at the huge man’s chest, making him exhale a sudden whoooo! She folded up, kicked at his stomach, and managed to squirm out from under both Sumo Ninja and most of the fishing net before Fukushima rejoined the fight. Yori spun and rolled away from Fukushima’s lunge and picked up and spread her slashing fan.

Fukushima threw a smoke pellet at the deck and jumped overboard. Sumo Ninja followed with a tremendous splash. When the smoke cleared, Yori found the outboard jammed, the throttle locked on high, the speedboat rushing toward the rubble-covered embankment. Yori jumped overboard at the last moment, and ducked underwater to shield herself from flying debris. When she reached the embankment, Hirotaka was offering her a hand to pull her out of the water.

“We’ve lost them again,” Yori said, discouraged.

Hirotaka went to his motorcycle, took out a pair of high powered binoculars, and scanned the river. “You’d think in a country with this many checkpoints, they’d get caught by the police or the army,” he said.

“They’re ninjas,” said Yori. “They avoid all the checkpoints.”

“They have to come out of the river somewhere,” said Hirotaka.

“Is that what you’re looking for? Look at the boats! They’ll board and take over another one.”

“Hmm. You’re right. They’re climbing aboard that one with the red stripe, way over there.”

“At least it’s a slower boat,” said Yori, hopping behind Hirotaka after he started his bike.

The bigleaf maples were shedding yellow leaves to the wind in front of Mathom House. In the room he shared with Felix on the third floor, Ron was staring at his computer screen, struggling with sentence after sentence while Rufus paced back and forth on the desk, when suddenly Kim walked in.

“How’s it going?” she asked.

“Slowly,” he replied. “I’ve got some stuff about the history of game consoles, and I’m just coming to the social impact in America of Japanese and Chinese culture references in the games, and maybe comparing this to martial arts movies.”

“Hi, ya!” said Rufus, making a kung fu kick.

“I’d look into whether the impact on America is intended, and if it benefits the countries making up the games,” said Kim.

“Okay, slow down, let me type that,” said Ron, then pointed at a pile of video game magazines. “You know, these magazines don’t consider stuff like that at all. Ah, I just got an idea.”

Rufus looked eagerly at Ron.

“Nakasumi Corp makes game consoles, and I know Mr. Nakasumi. Maybe I could email him and ask what he thinks about the cultural references in his games? That’s a personal interview. That should get me extra points.”

“Ron, he’s a very busy man,” said Kim.

“I send him an email whenever I like a new game,” said Ron. “He usually answers, sometimes at length.”

“Mm hmm,” said Rufus.

Kim’s eyes widened. “I didn’t know that. Okay, go for it.”

Ron started typing in his email program and clicked send. “What’s your paper about?” he asked.

“I’m gonna do the Japanese car companies, corporate culture of Japan versus Detroit, protection and import quotas, locating manufacturing facilities in America—”

Dot dot dadot! went the Kimmunicator. Kim pulled it out and Wade’s face appeared on the screen.

“Save us from sociology!” cried Ron.

“What’s the sitch?” asked Kim.

“You got a hit on the site from Yori and Hirotaka,” Wade said, and Yori’s face appeared on the screen.

“My partner, Hirotaka-san, and I are pursuing two enemy ninjas, Fukushima and Sumo Ninja, through central China, and would be delighted if you and your honored fiancé, Stoppable-san, would join our adventure.”

“Yes,” said Ron immediately.

“Yori can’t hear you. She’s just a recording,” said Kim.

“No, I’m live,” Yori said. “I’m so delighted that you can come.”

“Okay,” said Kim. “Where do we go?”

Felix in his cyber-robotic wheelchair was rolling and hovering around Kim’s small jet, checking various systems with his chair’s segmented tentacles.

“This wasn’t the best time for a mission,” Kim said quietly, as she walked with Ron, Rufus perched on his shoulder, toward the jet.

“We both know Sumo Ninja, and I know Fukushima,” said Ron. “Both dudes are bad road. I wonder what they’re up to.”

“They’re just ninjas,” said Kim.

“Ninjas,” said Rufus, doing a kung fu kick and chop.

“Wade couldn’t find much about their plot. Satellite imagery shows what might be a government research facility in line with the beginning of the chase. I suppose they might have stolen something, but it can’t be very big, to judge from Yori’s description of their narrow escapes.”

“That doesn’t mean much,” said Ron. “The pan dimensional vortex inducer was the size of a soup can. The neural compliance chip was the size of a postage stamp. We could easily be saving the world.”

“Oh yeah,” said Rufus.

“You’re right,” said Kim. “How is everything, Felix?”

“A-okay,” he replied. “Wade’s working on clearing the jet with Chinese authorities.”

“Shouldn’t be a problem,” said Kim. “I’ve done missions in China before.”

Kim and Ron climbed up the steps to the side hatch. Ron read the list while Kim checked the gear and Rufus scampered around.

“Four hair dryers.”


“Two boxes of laser lipsticks, six to a box.”


“Kissy girl knockout gas.”

“Looking, okay, here it is, four of them. Put one in your pocket, okay?” She tossed it to Ron and he did so.

“Night vision goggles, and infrared goggles,” said Ron.

“Two of each,” said Kim. “We should have had those infrareds in that tomb.”


“Kim, Ron!” said Felix. “Come back out. You just got a package from Wade.”

Kim and Ron climbed back down, to see a Fed-Ex truck driver unloading a crate that was roughly four feet square and three feet high, and a cardboard Club Banana box which was much smaller.

“Sign for these, Miss Possible,” said the driver.

“Wow, what is it?” asked Ron, as the driver got back into his truck and drove away.

Kim pulled out the kimmunicator and called Wade. “Open the crate, first,” he said, “then I’ll explain how it works.”

Felix’s chair’s robotic tentacle claws made quick work of this. What was inside the plank-reinforced cardboard looked like a black motor scooter, somehow collapsed and folded up.

“This is a collapsible amphibious scooter,” said Wade. “It’s a jet bike and a jet ski. Just press the yellow button on top, and it will deploy in scooter mode, so you can roll it up a ramp into the jet. Then you’ll see a blue pop-up cover on the stem of the handlebars—”

“Wait a minute. Go ahead, Ron. I know you want to press the yellow button.”

Before he could, Rufus jumped off his shoulder and landed on it, and a number of hydraulic actuators unfolded the bike and locked into place.

“Okay, under that blue cover is the switch that toggles between scooter and jet ski. Ron should be sitting on it to activate this.”

Ron climbed onto the leather seat, popped open the cover and Rufus sat on his leg and flipped the switch. This metamorphosis was much more sudden. “This is one bon diggity ride!” said Ron, flipping the switch again to turn it back into a bike.

“How fast does it go?” Kim asked Wade.

“It’s got gyroscopic stabilizers for high speed chases, but be careful anyway,” Wade cautioned her.

“That fast?”

“Yeah. The smaller box goes with it.”

“Oh, okay,” said Kim, ripping open the Club Banana box and pulling out two black leather jackets.

“Badical!” said Ron. “We got riding leathers.”

“I hope the style’s okay with you,” said Wade. “I consulted with Monique.”

“Okay? Wow, Wade,” Kim said, wiping tears from her smile. “I haven’t felt this overwhelmed since—”

“The jet?”

“I can never thank you enough for that.”

“My engineering consulting business has made me the world’s second richest fourteen year old, so I can certainly afford to buy Kim Possible her own jet, and an allowance of fuel. Really, this made life so much easier for me. You have no idea how much time I spent arranging all those rides for you, time I should have spent on engineering problems, like designing this bike.”

After a great circle crossing of the Pacific that took them almost as far north as Alaska, Felix landed Kim’s jet in Jang Tu, a city where the tributaries of the great river flow out of the mountains bordering the desert highlands.

The Chinese official in olive drab frowned at Kim. “We do not know you are here,” he said. “There is no secure site and nothing has been stolen. Your friends from Japan are approximately two hundred miles down the river road, looking for people we don’t know about who we would very much like to see removed. The details don’t concern us.”

“We’ll do our best,” said Kim.

Ron rolled the jet bike down the ramp. “I suppose you want to drive,” he said, putting on his helmet and leather jacket.

“Yeah, I so want to drive,” she replied, putting on her own helmet and jacket. “Oooh, I like this jacket,” she said.

She climbed on the bike, which started with the first kick. Ron got on behind her and put his hands on her hips. In a smooth acceleration they were doing forty miles an hour, weaving almost silently between the cars and trucks on the city streets until they reached the open road. Even at ninety miles an hour, the motor barely whispered.

“I was expecting a big vroom!” said Ron.

“So was I,” said Kim, “but this is so much better. We can talk and plan things on our way.”

“Not to mention sneak up on people.”

“Yeah. Let’s call it the stealth bike.”

Concealed by a bush at the edge of the river, Hirotaka looked through his binoculars at the lone headlight rapidly coming around the bends, sometimes winking off behind the edge of the hill. Yori stood by the motorcycle and stared into the twilight. “My heart tells me this is them,” she said, pressing her hands together and bowing her head. “I’ll show myself. You stay hidden, in case I’m wrong.”

The road was straight for some distance toward the advancing headlight, before the first bend, but the light was moving so fast that Yori hardly had time to turn on the headlight of Hirotaka’s bike before it had passed them, almost silently, and gone around the next bend. But then it came back, a quiet black bike with two riders wearing black leather jackets and drab cargo pants. It came to a stop not far away. The passenger and driver dismounted. The driver took off her helmet, setting free her long red hair.

“Yori?” she asked. “Is that you?”

“Spring and fall have passed,
since my eyes last beheld you
with joy, my dear friend,”

Yori replied, rushing to embrace Kim, “I composed that haiku for you while I was waiting here,” she added, then bowed to Ron.

“It’s beautiful,” said Kim.

“Do I get a haiku?” Ron asked.

“I thought it would be best if I did nothing that could make your fiancé go jeal,” said Yori.

“Go ahead and hug him,” said Kim. “Just remember he’s mine.”

“Hello,” said Rufus, climbing onto Ron’s shoulder and bowing to Yori, who briefly embraced Ron.

Hirotaka stepped out from his concealment in the bush. “It’s been long, Kim Possible,” he said, “and Stoppable-san.”

“Good to see you again,” said Ron, shaking his hand. “So what about those ninjas?”

Kim and Ron patrolled the river road, while Yori and Hirotaka searched the other roads. Yori’s satellite phone was linked to Kim’s kimmunicator, and they spoke with each other every few minutes. Kim hit the brakes when suddenly a police truck was flashing lights in front of her.

“Kim Possible,” said the officer, a short, plump Chinese man in olive drab.

“We’re busted?” asked Ron. “I thought we had clearance.”

“Shuh,” Kim told Ron. “What can I do for you?” she asked the officer.

“You’re pursuing two ninjas? They’re American agents. Let them go.”

“Who are you?”

“Call me Chinatown Charlie. I’m with the CIA.”

“Don’t know if I believe you,” said Kim, “but even if I do, these are bad men. Sumo Ninja worked for Drakken during the diablo robot rampage two and a half years ago, and Fukushima—”

“He worked for Monkey Fist,” said Ron.

“You know this for a fact?” asked Chinatown Charlie.

“We were there,” said Kim. “Can you be sure they’re working for you and only you? The Chinese think they’re working for terrorists.”

“Just let them go, okay?”

As the false police truck pulled away, Kim called Wade.

“Kim, it’s four in the morning here,” he protested.

“Sorry, but need to check a possible code gray. Man says he’s Chinatown Charlie from the CIA, says Fukushima and Sumo Ninja are American agents, says let them go.”

“That sounds gray.”

“But is he for real?” asked Kim.

“Did he say anything that sounded like a field code?”

“Nothing but what I already told you.”

“Your call, but I’d follow him.” Wade’s face disappeared from the kimmunicator screen.

“Put on your night vision goggles,” Kim told Ron, and sped down the road with her headlight off to catch up with Chinatown Charlie’s police truck.

Hirotaka’s motorcycle was parked in an alley near the harbor. He threw a grappling hook upward to the roof of an apartment building and climbed up. He crept to the edge of the flat roof and peered through his high powered binoculars at the two black figures, one lithe, one huge and fat, walking from the police vehicle to a pier where a boat was tied. Hirotaka jumped over the edge of the roof and slid back down to Yori.

Through the shadows they sneaked toward the harbor, running down the pier just as the boat started to move away. Yori fired her grappling hook gun, which caught on the boat’s rail. Fukushima tried to unhook it, but it was held on by the force of Yori winching herself through the air.

Meanwhile, Kim drove her motorcycle onto another pier and right off the end, popping open the switch cover and flipping the switch to change it to a jetski in mid flight. It splashed onto the water. The motor made a churning noise which became quieter as the jetski picked up speed and rose higher in the water.

Sumo Ninja caught Yori in his huge hands and pinned her to the deck. There was a sound of flowing water on the other side of the boat, which stopped, and Kim climbed over the edge, flipped herself over Sumo Ninja, and landed on Fukushima.

Ron circled the jetski back to the dock to pick up Hirotaka. “Hurry, dude-san,” he said, as Hirotaka sprung onto the seat behind him, momentarily ducking them both in the chill water. After a moment of churning, the jetski picked up speed and rose so high in the water that it barely made a whoosh and a splash. In a moment, they were back at the boat.

Hirotaka reached for the rail and flipped himself onto the boat, helping a dazed Yori to her feet while Kim kicked and punched at Sumo Ninja and Fukushima, while dodging their kicks and punches. Yori shook her head to clear it, looked at Hirotaka, nodded with him, and simultaneously they pulled Sumo Ninja’s shoulders back while kicking the insides of his knees, making him fall backwards and hit his head on the rail. Ron, who was just climbing over this rail, pulled out a can of kissy girl lip gloss and opened it under Sumo Ninja’s nose, until the pink knockout gas rendered him unconscious.

“Better tie this dude up,” said Ron. “He doesn’t stay out long.”

Yori ran into the cabin, followed by Rufus. She turned off the boat’s motor, Rufus helped her rummage through some cabinets, and she came back with a roll of gray duct tape.

“That’ll work,” said Ron.

“Oh, yeah,” Rufus said, climbing onto Ron’s shoulder. There was no way to turn Sumo Ninja over, so Ron and Yori pulled his hands together over his massive stomach and wrapped multiple layers of tape around his wrists, then did the same with his ankles.

Hirotaka, meanwhile, was studying the fine points of the fight between Kim and Fukushima, and making arcane comments like, “The dragon flies through the tunnel,” “The wind whispers on the slope of Mt. Fuji,” and “The moth flutters toward the candle flame.”

Rufus started watching with him, nodding as though he knew the what these remarks meant.

Suddenly Kim had Fukushima pinned to the deck, and was pummeling his head from side to side.

“Ah, the apple falls from the tree,” said Hirotaka.

“Who’s Chinatown Charlie?” demanded Kim. “Who was going to buy the weapon system plans of Dr. Fu?”

Fukushima was silent.

Hirotaka interrupted Kim’s assault. “If I may have the honor,” he said. “At Yamanouchi we learned the correct application of pain for making the silent sing truly.”

Rufus bit Fukushima on the nose.

“That’s not what I meant, Rufus-san,” said Hirotaka.

“No!” Fukushima protested. “You should be ashamed, Kim Possible. We are spying for America.”

“If that’s true, then you won’t mind if I take you to CIA headquarters,” Kim said. “I know the director personally. In my opinion, if you two are agents, the agency should be more careful who it recruits. Now about the Central Asian Jihad—” Kim let Hirotaka smoothly take her place on top of Fukushima.

Hirotaka dug his fingers into certain pressure points. “The lady seems uncertain of the truth of your response,” he said calmly.

Fukushima grimaced.

“Who’s Chinatown Charlie?” Hirotaka asked. “Just relax with the flow of the waterfall and let the truth plummet down the cliff.”

“Corrupt police officer,” said Fukushima. “We bribed him to help us escape.”

“Very good,” said Hirotaka. “And what’s the officer’s real name?”

Fukushima grimaced again.

“You know you can’t do that. Just let it go, and you won’t feel the pain.”

Fukushima struggled against relaxing.

“Officer Tien Po Chun,” he said at last.

“And who gave you the money to hire Officer Tien?”

“Our employer used a code name— Strong Horse,” Fukushima said.

“So let me get this straight,” said Kim. “You were going to steal plans for a top secret weapons system for someone you just know as Strong Horse?

“You dishonor your already much dishonored name,” said Hirotaka, changing his pressure on Fukushima slightly. “Who are you working for? Is it the Central Asian Jihad? Or perhaps North Korea?”

“Not knowing was a condition of the employment,” Fukushima said.

“An unacceptable condition, I would say,” replied Hirotaka. “But he’s telling the truth, Kim.”

“Let’s tape him up,” said Yori.

“Where are we going to take them?” asked Kim.

“Our mission is to take them back to Japan to stand trial, unless of course you must give them to the CIA,” she replied.

“I doubt they have better techniques of persuasion than Hirotaka’s,” said Kim.

Rufus bit Fukushima on the nose one more time, and ran back to Ron.

“Of course, confessions obtained by this art are not admissible in court,” said Yori.

Putting both bikes in the boat, they motored up the river toward Jang Tu. Kim and Yori spent much of the ride comparing their equipment. As they came to a bridge, both girls shot each other’s grappling hook guns at the high truss and winched and swung over the bridge deck to land back on the boat.

“Yours has a much smoother winch,” said Yori. “It feels like an extension of my own body, perfectly in harmony with my will.”

“I like mine better, too. How many hooks and lines can yours hold at once?” asked Kim.

“Yours holds more than one?”

“Most of my newer ones, like this one, hold three, and there’s been times when I’ve needed them all. It’s easy to reload, too.” Kim took a coil of line from her cargo pants and fed one end into the mouth of the hair dryer gun, which sucked it onto a spool like a child eating spaghetti. “Oops. Forgot the hook.” She reversed the feed, spitting out about a foot of line, and tied on a three-prong collapsible hook, then pulled it back into the gun.

“Where can I get one like this?” Yori asked.

“Only from me,” said Kim. “I’ll give you one of mine as soon as we get back to my jet.”

It was late morning by the time they reached the harbor in Jang Tu, where they found several Chinese Army officers waiting for them, with Felix in his cyber-robotic wheelchair.

“We have new orders,” the chief officer said. “We must detain Fukushima and the one nicknamed Sumo Ninja.”

“Fine with me,” said Kim. “Do you know about Officer Tien Po Chun, who tried to help them escape?”

“He also will be detained.”

“Then our service to you is complete,” said Yori, pressing her hands together and bowing slightly.

Rufus, standing on Ron’s shoulder, also bowed.

Two soldiers came onto the boat and locked leg irons on Fukushima and Sumo Ninja, after cutting the duct tape, and helped them climb onto the dock, and led them away to a prison truck.

A small black jet with KP monogrammed on the tail came in for a landing at the general aviation section of Tokyo airport. Yori was now wearing a an orange blouse with puffy sleeves with a pair of bluejeans and denim jacket. Hirotaka wore a T-shirt with a heavy metal band’s logo with his jeans and black leather jacket.

Together they rolled Hirotaka’s motorcycle down the ramp. Yori pressed her hands together and bowed. “Until we meet again, dear friends.”

“We will see you around,” Hirotaka said, and put on his helmet.

“Goodbye,” said Kim. “Ron, what are you doing?”

He was rolling Kim’s stealth bike down the ramp. “Homework,” he replied, looking at his watch. “Mr. Nakasumi’s expecting me at his office in twenty minutes to talk about my report, and you know Tokyo traffic!”

Kim started to look exasperated, but smiled and said, “Okay.”

Ron sat in the driver’s seat and Kim sat behind him.

As the motorcycle whispered through the heavy traffic on the streets between skyscrapers, Kim said, “I think they make a cute couple.”

“Yori and Hirotaka?” Ron asked.

“Hirotaka used to be a major flirt but I think she’s captured his heart.”

“Are you sure they’re like, even a couple?”

“Oh yeah, and he’s crushing on her more than she is on him, which is the only way to manage a guy like Hirotaka.”

“How do you know that stuff?” asked Ron.

“What Mom said, of course!” said Kim. “The boy you want is the one who can’t keep his eyes off you, whose eyes get big and round whenever he looks at you and he can’t help smiling. For me, that’s you— sweet, silly, awkward, wonderful you!”

“You get like that when you look at me.”

“Cause I love you.”

“But you looked at me like that when we were just friends.”

“I always loved you, Ron. I just thought, somehow, you weren’t good enough for me. I was so wrong. You’re the best.”

“Wow. Really?”

“Don’t go big-headed, okay? Watch the trucks.”

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