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How Darkness Comes

Part 3

Kim Possible, Ron Stoppable, Rufus, Monique, Felix Renton, Wade Load, Dr. Betty Director, Will Du, Dr. Drakken, Shego, Yori, and Hirotaka are characters from the Kim Possible show, created by Mark McCorkle and Bob Schooley, owned and copyright © by the Walt Disney Company. This is part three of a three-part story, © 2005 by cloudmonet.

“This is what we’re looking for,” said Crocodile Jack, on a sandy beach not far from Darwin. “This is the biggest crocodile slide I’ve ever seen. His front feet are nearly eight feet apart, and he’d be, I don’t know, 22 feet, 23 feet long? Two or three tons, maybe, and a hundred fifty years old at least.”

“Big Bert, our biggest male at the zoo, is getting near 17 feet long,” said Kate, his sensible American wife. “He’s big, and when he hits at food he’s really scary, but compared to this bloke, he’s small.”

“So what we’re gonna do is catch him in a baited trap, the kind of net trap I always use, scaled up a bit, and then we’re gonna give him one of Drake’s robot ticks, with a microcamera and compact inner radio antenna. This is real spy gear. Come here, mate, let’s show off your work.”

“Oh, all right,” said Drake Jones, holding one of the ticks up for the camera. “It’s about the size of a dime, huge compared to a real tick, but not so much compared to the animal it’ll be riding on. It’s programmed to crawl to a position on the croc’s head midway between the eyes and then lock on.”

“We’ll have a croc’s eye view of his world,” said Jack.

“It’s solar powered,” said Drake. “Whenever our big croc hauls out to bask in the sun, the battery gets recharged.”

A small black jet with “KP” monogrammed on the tail flew low over the Borneo Rain Forest. Felix Renton was at the controls, his cyber-robotic wheelchair locked in place.

“Whatever are they doing in Borneo?” Ron asked, while going over his checklist of gear.

“Getting more men, or just trying to hide the plane, I guess,” said Kim. “It’s not somewhere we’d probably look, and if we do find them, it’s not somewhere we can call in an American air strike. We’re bailing as close to the site as we can get without spooking them. Wade says Wikiwaki will be watching for us.”

“Wikiwaki’s our local contact?” asked Ron.

“The wild geek from Borneo,” replied Kim. “One of Wade’s internet buddies. He’s not sure quite how secure the connection is or he’d patch us through to him.”

“Thirty seconds to bail,” said Felix. “You ready?”

Kim and Ron jumped out, opened their parasails, and drifted across a river toward a beach where, unfortunately, several large crocodiles were sunning themselves. Kim was about to steer into the trees when a bunch of nearly naked brown skinned men with wild curly hair charged out of the jungle, waving spears and shouting. The crocs bolted for the water. The men waved at Kim and Ron, smiling.

“Do you really think they’re internet geeks?” asked Ron.

“Just let me do the talking,” said Kim.

They drifted to a landing on the beach right in front of the five men, who close up didn’t look quite so formidable. One of them was old, and two were rather gangly teenaged boys. All five wore an assortment of colorful feathers in their hair, and hollow gourds covering their private parts.

“Welcome to the jungle,” said the smaller boy. “I’m Wikiwaki.” He offered his hand to Ron.

“I’m Ron,” he said, shaking Wikiwaki’s hand.

“And I’m Kim,” she said, offering hers.

The old man said, with a thick accent and mangled syntax, what might have been, “I’m Kibakauwa, big old chief daddy. Come you to home. Come.”

They all followed old Kibakauwa on a narrow path through the brush into the relative openness of the inner forest.

“These strangers, they’re bad,” said Wikiwaki. “Been here, couple years. Got shooting guns, make you bleed, make you dead. They kill some jungle men, jungle men kill some them. What means invisible plane? Invisible like spirits? We see the plane on the ground, hidden by clothes, not hidden like spirits.”

“They’ve covered it with a tarp that’s hard to see,” said Kim. “The plane’s only invisible while it’s flying.”

“How make that do?” asked Wikiwaki.

“You know, I really should read up on that and learn how it works,” said Kim. “I’m getting tired of chasing this stupid plane. Everytime we almost get it back, it gets away again.”

Kibakauwa stopped walking and looked back at Kim. “You need— spirit magic catcher, huh. I make good strong. Not do much about shooting guns, but spirit catching, huh, Kibakauwa catch many spirits.”

“What’d he say?” Ron whispered.

“He figures an invisible plane is a spirit plane,” Kim replied. “I said I can’t catch it. He says he’ll make a magic charm to help me.”

“Ahhh, okay,” said Ron.

A black helicopter with a two Japanese characters painted on the body came to a landing at a blocklike three story building in the middle of a snowswept rocky plateau in western China. Some large trucks painted olive drab were parked near the landing site. Heavily armed officials stood guard.

The helicopter motor shut off, the blades stopped spinning. Yori, Hirotaka, and George Wind got out of the helicopter and approached the Chinese official.

Yori pressed her hands together and bowed. “Honored general,” she said. “You already know Hirotaka-san and I. It has been our honor to serve you in the past. The other man is George Wind, of Global Justice.”

George made a slight bow, saying, “Pleased to meet you, honored general.”

The general nodded his head very slightly with no change of expression, and said nothing.

“Our mission to you is one of greatest urgency which must be discussed only in a place of extreme security,” Yori said. “Wind-san, the tick?”

George Wind handed Yori a soft pink hemisphere the size of a bead, with eight tiny metal legs on the underside. The general looked at it suspiciously.

“This, honored general, is an audio surveillance tick, the kind Global Justice sometimes uses. This one is inactivated, of course. Central Asian Jihad has managed to steal or make a large number of these things. They have managed to place a number of them in offices of Global Justice, the American military base in Kabul, and they said to each other that they wish to place them on people like you in places like this.”

“How would they do this?” asked the general.

“They said they were going to drop the ticks from the plane they stole,” said Yori. “The ticks are programmed to crawl onto people. They’re very much harder to remove than real ticks, and resemble natural skin blemishes.”

“We would know if any foreign plane flew anywhere near this installation,” replied the general. “None has.”

“You may or may not be able to detect this plane, honored general” said George Wind. “Not that I am allowed to reveal its secrets to you, of course.”

The general frowned, tipped his head back and toward one side, loosened his uniform collar and pointed to a small mole on his neck. “This is new,” he said. “Is it?”

Yori looked at it closely. Hirotaka reached into the pocket of his black leather jacket and handed her a remote-control sized silicon phase disrupter. “This will deactivate it, if it is,” she said, holding the device close to the mole and pressing a button. “Well, maybe not,” she said, when nothing seemed to happen, but then suddenly the legs retracted and the bug fell onto the general’s jacket collar and Yori picked it up. “Looks like we have to check everyone here before we talk about the rest,” she said.

Deep in the Borneo rain forest, the five jungle men with Kim and Ron stopped at the trunk of a large tree. Big old chief daddy Kibakauwa grabbed a dangling vine and began climbing.

“I don’t see a tree house,” Ron said, looking up into the tangle of foliage.

“We’ll see it when we get there,” said Kim, starting to climb up the vine after Wikiwaki.

They followed the men from branch to branch, across a high rope bridge with a rope railing into a thick clump of foliage, and finally three houses made of woven sticks like bird’s nests on top of large branches from several intertangled trees.

The floor, such as it was, bounced and creaked whenever anyone walked anywhere, which made Ron nervous, but what really made him nervous were the women and girls, who, except for what passed for jewelry, were completely nude. He kept averting or covering his eyes, and looked at Kim, who just smiled at him.

“It’s okay to look if you don’t stare,” she whispered. “This is just how they are.”

“What’s up with Ron?” Wikiwaki asked Kim. “Anyway, this is Limau, she’s my friend.”

“Well, maybe don’t look at her,” said Kim. “She’s really pretty.”

Ron looked and Kim giggled and poked him in the ribs.

“Confused,” said Limau. “Right word?” she asked Wikiwaki.

“I’m sorry,” said Kim, smiling at her. “Ron’s just not used to seeing girls, except me sometimes, without clothes.” Kim pulled at one sleeve of her mission shirt.

“Not like clothes,” said Limau. “Gotta wear in town. Makes you sweat and stink. Some town stuff good, though. Computer, internet, TV, video games. Got solar power computer and satellite internet here now.”

Wikiwaki proudly opened a plastic box, and got out a laptop computer. “You want see?”

“Not right now,” said Kim. “We gotta hurry, if we’re gonna get that plane away from those strangers.”

“You gonna get rid strangers?” Limau asked.

“Not sure we can,” said Kim. “The important thing to us is the spirit plane. Those strangers want to do really bad stuff with it.”

“Oh, 9/11,” said Limau. “They’re those people.”

“I wish it was only that bad,” said Kim.

One of the older women brought a wooden bowl filled with hot food that vaguely resembled mashed potatoes.

“Food, eat,” said Wikiwaki, sticking his bare hands into whatever it was, and stuffing gobs of it into his mouth. Limau did the same.

Kim took off her mission gloves and cautiously tried some. “It’s kind of sweet, like yams or something,” she said.

“Ten to one it’s neither Mexican nor kosher,” said Ron, “but okay, I won’t be rude.”

Rufus hopped onto the table, sniffed at the bowl of food, said, “Yippie!” and began eating.

“Ewww, what’s that thing?” asked Limau. “Looks like a big big grub with legs and whiskers.”

“That’s Rufus, my naked mole rat,” said Ron, affectionately stroking the odd creature’s head. “He’s my good buddy.”

“Don’t try to eat him, okay?” said Kim.

“And here he is, the world’s largest saltwater crocodile, in the net trap,” said Crocodile Jack, carefully approaching the tangle of knotted ropes and broken tree branches. “Holy moley, will you look at this? He broke an eight-inch tree trunk, thrashing around. I’m not sure exactly how we’re gonna release him. He’s even bigger than I thought! Well, first thing’s first, let’s get the camera on him.”

Drake handed the dime-sized robot tick to Crocodile Jack, who tossed it toward the huge crocodile’s body. Unfortunately at that moment the crocodile started whipping his head from side to side, throwing the tick completely off.

“We’ve got three more chances,” said Jack.

“Attempt number two,” Kate narrated. “Jack, Drake, and the rest of the crew tried to cover the big bloke’s head with a tarp. This might have worked, except he went into a death roll, completely ripping the stakes out of the ground and totally entangling himself in coarse netting. Tick number two? We don’t know where it is, and its transmitter is broken. It’s dead.”

“So it’s top and bottom jaw rope time, and that wasn’t routine, not with the heavy ropes we need to secure this big bloke,” Jack narrated, over footage showing repeated attempts. “And even then, there weren’t enough of us to hold him, till a helicopter crew of American marines showed up, with two Global Justice agents and Drake’s wife Sheila.” Some exciting pan shots showed a whole crowd of people piled on top of the humongous crocodile.

“Sheila was the one who actually placed the tick, right on the big bloke’s head between the eyes where we wanted it,” Kate narrated. “It didn’t even have to crawl, but locked right into position. As near as we could measure him, he’s 26 feet long. That’s a world record.”

“Now, the question was, how of earth were we ever going to get the big bloke out of the trap?” Jack narrated. “I worked my way around, cutting most of the heavy netting with my big knife. He was being kind of placid, but when I cut the jaw ropes and everybody hopped off and scattered fast, he shook his head and tail, and instead of going back in the water, he came after us! He did not like being mucked with, one bit.”

“Here’s what the rampage looked like from Big Bloke’s point of view,” said Kate. “There were so many of us running that he couldn’t make up his mind who to chase. But he’s a lunge predator, and as you can see, he’s getting tired and slowing down pretty quickly, and here’s how it looks to him when he slides into the water.”

Will Du and Steve Rasp talked to Crocodile Jack, off-camera.

“We need Drake, now,” Will said.

“They’re not arresting us, sweetheart,” said Sheila. “This is important. That invisibility technology Global Justice, er, borrowed from your helicopter, is there any possible way to send a signal that would disable it from outside?”

“Spraying it with soda apparently works,” said Drake.

“Not practical for a plane doing mach 2,” said Sheila.

“Um, yes, quite right. If I had a laboratory, and access to components, I might be able to come up with something. Have you tried a silicon phase disrupter?”

“It’s shielded against silicon phase disruption,” said Will Du. “Let’s go. We’ve got you a lab, and a test vehicle shielded and cloaked just like the plane. Let’s see how fast you can come up with something.”

In a blank-walled room in the heart of the building, General Chao spoke with Yori, Hirotaka, and George Wind.

“The terrorists called the thing they wanted, ‘the dragonslayer,’ ” said Yori. “We believe this would be some kind of highly compact superbomb, something so powerful that it would make a crater like Chixulub, from the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs.”

“That seems absurd to me,” said Chao. “If we had such a device, how would we test it?”

“Anything made with encapsulated antimatter will detonate if the encapsulating material is melted,” said Yori. “The more antimatter, the bigger the explosion. You could test a very small device, and make a very big one. These terrorists have an invisible plane. They can fly over Washington or New York as easily as here, crash into a building, or let themselves be shot down, and the flames of the explosion will melt the encapsulated antimatter, and then millions will die.”

“If China had such a weapon, and I’m not saying we do, but if we did, it would be so well hidden and guarded that there’s no way a small squad of terrorists could get their hands on it,” said Chao.

“And the terrorists who’ve been listening to your talk for several days with audio surveillance ticks, what have they learned?” asked Yori. “What if one of them was attached to Dr. Fu? What then, honored general?”

“There’s nothing Dr. Fu could say that would help them much,” Chao said, pushing a button on his watch. He smiled at Yori. “Now we’re off the record, my friend. Unfortunately, we’re at the wrong installation. And our enemies probably know which one is the right one. It is heavily guarded, I didn’t lie about that, and yet, what if someone on the inside makes common cause with the terrorists? We try to encourage everyone in our country to think correctly, but many do not. I will, of course, be expected to contact this installation. We will do what we can. And, being Chinese, we can do quite a lot.”

A lesser officer came in and escorted Yori, Hirotaka, and George Wind out of the building and back to the black helicopter.

“That was less than satisfactory,” said Hirotaka.

“I’m not sure what we should do next,” said Yori.

“I’m feeling much better about this,” said George. “I think everything’s going to turn out all right.”

“And your basis for this is what?” asked Hirotaka.

“I have confidence in the honored general’s ability. I’m Chinese too. I know how to read them. That terrorist squad will not succeed.”

At twilight, Wikiwaki was leading Kim and Ron on hidden trails through the jungle toward the Central Asian Jihad encampment when they heard the sound of the hoverjet taking off. The dark plane passed over the tops of the trees before shimmering into disappearance.

Kim pulled out her kimmunicator. “Wade, they got away again,” she said. “We’re so not winning this one and we so must.”

“Probably going back to China,” Wade replied. “Yori did not get to the right research installation, and they’re not allowing her to proceed. George Wind thinks the Chinese have matters under control.”

“What’s Yori think? I trust her opinion more than any of these Global Justice guys.”

“She’s not happy,” said Wade.

“My father’s spirit catching spell didn’t work,” Wikiwaki told Wade. “The plane went into the spirit world.”

“Don’t know much about Borneo magic,” said Wade. “Might not work on spirit planes.”

“We tried.”

The screen split, and Felix appeared on the other half. “I’m down at Lake Tumakoi, three kilometers downhill.”

“Lake Tumakoi?” said Wikiwaki. “I know where that is, but I don’t want to go there.”

“More bad strangers?” asked Ron.

“Just people I don’t want to see. Limau’s family. Always argue about stuff. Don’t like me, don’t like each other, don’t like Limau.”

“Got it,” said Kim. “We’ll find our own way.”

“Sheila, a breakthrough!” said Drake, in the middle of a brightly-lit auto showroom with the merest shimmery vagueness of a car over the carpeting.

Sheila, who was sitting in the corner reading a magazine, said, “It still looks pretty invisible to me.”

“Yes, it does,” said Drake, “but look at this!”

“Uh, okay,” she said, getting up and walking to his computer monitor, which showed a grainy picture of the inside of the invisible car. “Wait a minute! You’re getting a signal from the communicator thing inside the car!”

“Nice job of descrambling, isn’t it? Now we don’t have to see the plane to find it.”

“I’ll go tell Will.”

“Wait!” said Drake, walking over to the car and feeling for the door. Once he stuck his head inside, he could see the communicator. He pulled it out of the car, pressed the buttons, and said, “Wade, I out-geeked you. Check out the descrambling program on the showroom computer. You should be able to get a signal from the communicator on board the plane.”

“Okay, downloading—” said Wade. “Are you on dialup there? This is gonna take hours we don’t have. Try copying the program to the communicator and beaming it to me.”

“Sure, I can do that,” said Drake, plugging the communicator into a USB-2 line.

It popped up on the computer as an auxiliary hard disk, Drake copied the file, and after about thirty seconds, Wade said, “Got it! And it works! The plane’s over Cambodia, heading west. Drake, you saved the world!”

“It’s not saved yet,” said Drake. “Not till someone stops them.”

“A mere formality,” said Wade. “Go tell Will and Steve.”

General Chao sat patiently watching the progress bar move on one of his computer monitors. On another monitor was a map of Southeast Asia, with a blinking light indicating the progress and position of the terrorist plane as patched through by Mr. Load. It was moving on a fairly straight course over Burma, having already passed over Cambodia and Thailand on its way from Borneo. By the time it reached Tibet and Chinese airspace, the detection and decryption programs would be loaded in his own, very sensitive signal detectors.

Guided by the kimmunicator’s GPS, Kim and Ron finally made their way through the shadowy jungle to the open moonlight of Lake Tumakoi, where Kim’s jet was floating on pontoons near the shore. “Felix!” she called out, and he turned on the plane’s spotlights and aimed them toward her. She shot a grappling hook at the plane’s wing, grabbed Ron, and swung over the water to land on the pontoon.

Inside the plane, Ron babbled to Felix about jungle nudists, with laptops and mashed potatoes, living in basketwork treehouses, while Kim kept trying the kimmunicator without success.

“I can’t reach Wade,” she told Ron and Felix. “This is critical. We need to go to China ASAP, but we need Wade to get us flight path clearance.”

“I’ll just fly over the Indian Ocean toward eastern India,” said Felix. “By the time we get there, you should be able to get through.”

“Do it,” said Kim. “It’s not the shortest route, but it might be better if they don’t know we’re chasing them.”

“Why don’t you try to call Yori?” Ron asked while bucking his seatbelt.

“Okay, I’ll do that,” said Kim. “What’s going on? It looks like Wade’s changing the encryption routine again.” On the screen was a random assortment of color changes, patterns, and a number of progress bars.

“Maybe we should wait till Wade gets through,” said Felix. “This is obviously something important.”

“Yeah, okay,” said Kim.

Wade’s face appeared on the screen. “Sorry about the delay. You’re at the lake, right? You got there sooner than I thought. I didn’t want to run the encryption routine while you were using GPS, or talk before running the encryption.”

“So what’s the sitch?”

“The terrorists are flying over Burma. We can trace them now by the signal from Yori’s communicator, thanks to Drake Jones. I gave China Drake’s program, and the decryption for the old communicator routine, which is why I had to give you new encryption. So, China will shoot them down with heat-seeking missiles, end of plot.”

“We’re off the case?” asked Kim.

“Go to Darwin. There’s a few details to wrap up with Global Justice.”

“About Drake and Sheila?”


“Drakken just saved the world, didn’t he?” asked Ron. “I never thought that would happen.”

“Uh-uh,” agreed Rufus.

Nothing could be seen in the moonlit sky, and ordinary radar could not detect it, but a Global Justice hoverjet crowded with a squad of determined men was passing over the Tibetan plateau, heading toward a secret installation in the Kun Lun. They never made it there. A voice from a hidden radio said, in Chinese, “You have fifteen seconds to eject.”

It was actually sixteen seconds after this that the invisible plane exploded in a very visible fireball of jet fuel as three heat-seeking missiles struck their mark.

“I did warn them,” said General Chao, watching the fireball through his big binoculars.

“They had our personnel bugged, and seemed to know what we were saying, honored general,” said one of his aides. “I believe a warning in Chinese was sufficient.”

“Perhaps it actually was,” said Chao, passing the binoculars to another officer. “I think I see black parachutes. Bring back any survivors for interrogation.”

“Are there to be any survivors, honored general?”

“Not officially, at least not at first.”

“I don’t like the way this General Chao just took over, even before we gave him Drake’s descrambling program,” said Kim. “How could he have stopped them without that?”

It was morning in Darwin. Kim, Ron, Drake, Sheila, and the agents were sitting on the couches of an out-of-business auto showroom, refitted as an impromptu engineering and computer lab, with esoteric radar gear spread on the counter, and several computers on a desk.

“I don’t think he would have stopped them,” said George Wind. “I think he would have let them steal a false bomb.”

“I wouldn’t bet the fate of America on something like that,” said Ron.

“Those terrorists got exactly what they deserved,” said Will Du. “I have no sympathy for them. It’s really best that they fell into the grip of someone like Chao.”

“Sympathy, no, not when they wanted to kill so many,” said Kim. “And we really don’t know how close they came to succeeding. Drake, you saved the world. This bomb, if they’d gotten a real one, could have blown up not only Washington, but that secret bunker in West Virginia, and maybe as far as Philadelphia. There’d be a big round bay where Maryland used to be, huge tsunamis all over the Atlantic, maybe the other oceans, as well, and a dust cloud— I don’t know. Would it be as bad as Chixulub? Tens of millions would have died, and not just in America.”

“I don’t know if we can get a pardon for Drew and Sheila Lipsky, alias Drakken and Shego,” said Will Du. “They committed many heinous crimes in many nations. In my opinion it’s only a matter of luck that they never actually committed murder or manslaughter. However, I see no reason to collect fingerprints or hair samples from Drake and Sheila Jones. These are obviously different people.” He dropped his voice. “See that you stay that way.”

“No worries, mate,” said Sheila.

Drake was over at one of the computers, admiring a view of a very large crocodile snout pointed motionlessly at some sand and mangrove roots. “He’s not doing much right now, but it’s a great quality picture,” Drake remarked.

A noisy yellow motorcycle drove right through the open doorway onto the carpet, and Hirotaka and Yori got off and removed their helmets. Both were wearing cutoffs. Hirotaka wore a white T-shirt with a heavy metal band’s logo, and Yori a bright red kerchief halter top.

“How is everyone?” asked Yori, looking in particular at Drake, Sheila, and Will.

“I’m not too happy about the prospect of facing a disciplinary for losing our plane,” said Will. “Global Justice agents aren’t supposed to let themselves be surprised by terrorists.”

“You were bugged at your own office,” said Kim. “Even Dr. Director didn’t catch on in time.”

“You noticed the surveillance tick. We should have,” said Will.

“A lot of people didn’t notice them. Your engineers designed them that way.”

“And how are you, Dr. Jones?” asked Yori.

“He’s looking at some mangrove roots from the viewpoint of a humongous croc dozed off on the beach,” said Sheila.

“Oh, what?” asked Drake, looking away from his monitor toward Yori and Hirotaka. “That’s a good band,” he remarked, pointing at the shirt logo. “Sheila downloaded some of their songs— legally, of course, Officer Du.”

“Of course,” Will said with a smirk. “Well, you’re our ticket home, Kim, so whenever you’re ready.”

“Oh,” said Yori, “but I was going to ask Kim, if you and Ron want to come with us on the boat we rented. We can snorkel on the reef and there’s little sand islands with some coconut palms.”

“That sounds fun, but we’ve already missed a whole week of classes, and—”

“It’s Saturday morning here, so it’s already late Friday afternoon there,” said Ron. “What do we miss? I vote for party time.”

“Party time?” asked Felix, who was just rolling into the showroom. “I could use some of that.”

“It means we’d be staying in Australia through the weekend,” said Kim. “Don’t you want to get back to Belinda?”

“Can you swim, somehow?” asked Ron. “Is there some gear we could rent, like those hand-held electric propeller things I’ve seen on TV? The reef is really beautiful.”

“Oh that sounds totally fun,” said Felix. “About Belinda— Kim, we’re both not sure it’s working between us. You guys don’t like her all that much—”

“She’s just different,” said Kim. “We’re getting used to her.”

“I’m all science and engineering and she’s all mystical. We think about everything differently. I’m much more like you guys.”

“Who does think like Belinda?” Ron asked, his face a mockery of contemplation.

“Let’s get real,” said Felix. “She’s whacked. I like touching her, kissing her, making love. I’m really glad she got me past that barrier, I can do it— but now she’s saying maybe we worked out our karma and it’s time to move onto other things. Feels creepy.”

“Ask Kelly,” said Sheila.


“The dark-haired girl from Crocodile Jack’s crew. You want a date for the weekend, don’t you? Kelly’s adventurous, looks great in a bikini, and you’re not much like the boys she complains about. She’s a few years older than you, but so what? Come on, sport, I’ll introduce you.”

“Um, all right!” said Felix.

“Right, okay, going back to Jack with my wife,” said Drake, smiling at the agents and edging out the doorway after Sheila and Felix. “See you later. Bye now.”

“Okay, let’s do this,” Kim told Ron, Yori, and Hirotaka. “We’ll go to the airstrip, get the stealth bike and some lighter clothes, and meet you at the harbor.”

The motorcycle roared away, followed by Kim and Ron.

“So, what are we gonna do?” Steve asked Will. “Call headquarters to send someone to get us, or sample the nightlife of Darwin?”

Will made a sound of disgust. “They’re gonna laugh at me, but I don’t care anymore. This is the most humiliating mission I’ve ever attempted. I just want it to be over.”

“What do you mean?” asked George. “Our side won. Isn’t that what matters?”

“Okay,” said Steve, picking up the telephone. “Let’s see if I remember the access codes for the hotline.”

Kim and Ron carried Felix from his chair on the beach to the seat of the stealth bike, which was floating on the water in jetski mode. Kelly climbed onto the seat behind him.

“Keep it slow till you get the hang of it, okay?” said Kim.

“It’s not good to go fast in these waters anyway, all right?” said Kelly. “We don’t want to hurt the wildlife. Don’t worry, Kim. I won’t let anything happen to him. And if you go swimming while I’m gone, don’t touch anything pointy, stay away from cone snails, and if you see any jellyfish, get out of the water immediately.”

“Nice vacation spot Yori picked,” said Ron.

“It’s beautiful,” said Kelly. “You just gotta be careful.”

On the boat, anchored in the shallow water, Yori and Hirotaka were looking over the side at the colorful reef fish. “Yori, may I ask you something?” She tipped her head to one side and smiled a slight smile.

“What did you call me when you kissed me on the cheek at the cattle station?”

Now her smile became wide and she blushed. “I called you ‘my love.’ I wanted you to know, in case I was killed. I wanted you to know, when we met again. Hirotaka, you are my love. Now tell me what I am to you.” She pressed her hands together and bowed her head.

“I made a haiku for you,” Hirotaka replied.

“I weep for my love
stranded in hidden mountains
cold with plans of death.”

Yori smiled at him, melted into his arms, and filled his mouth with her twirling tongue. “Better not mess with any other girls,” she said, smiling at him and playing with his wild hair.

“Wouldn’t think of it.”

“Better save up money to buy me a ring— size 8, okay?”


“Do you want me to be your love but not your bride?”

“No, no, of course not.”

She kissed him again. “You don’t expect me to stop telling you what to do just because I love you, do you?”

“I would like the honor of some discussion.”

“Of course,” Yori said, putting her arm around Hirotaka’s waist.

Kim and Ron sat with their backs against a young palm tree, looking at the first stars over the quiet reef water. Rufus was sleeping in their beach bag.

“This’d be a nice place for our honeymoon, don’t you think?” Kim asked. “We’ll come back here alone, just you and me on the sand, with the gently lapping sea and the stars.”

“And a reef full of poisonous stingy things,” said Ron. “I don’t know about coming here alone.”

“I think we’re alone right now.”

“Let’s see, Yori and Hirotaka are on the boat, Felix and Kelly went to that other island.”

“That seems sad to me,” said Kim. “How can they play at being a couple for a weekend, and then just separate?”

“I never wanted to be with anyone but you,” said Ron. “When I was little, I always thought we’d just grow up and be married.”

“That’s sweet. I never should have wanted to be with anyone but you.”

She got up, walked over to the purple beach blanket, and shook out the sand. He walked over to her, took the other end, and they spread it out smooth. Kim pushed Ron down on the blanket, snuggled on top of him, and they started kissing.

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