cloudmonet’s kim stories

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Opening Arguments

Kim Possible, Ron Stoppable, Rufus, Felix Renton, Wade Load, Dr. Betty Director, Will Du, Duff Killigan, Hank Perkins, Dr. Drakken, Shego, and Lars 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 in February of Kim and Ron’s sophomore year of college, nearly three years after “So the Drama,” and shortly after my earlier story, “Reward.” This story © 2005 by cloudmonet.

“Ye’ve done well for yourself, laddie,” said Duff Killigan, pacing around Hank Perkins’ spacious law office on the tenth floor of a glass and steel office building. “That executive assistant of yours is a fine lass, too, and looks like fun if ye know what I mean. So. Ye’ve made a heap o’ money as lawyer for the villains. What’d ye want to hire a villain for?”

“Global Justice doesn’t seem to recognize the validity of my contract with Drew and Sheila Lipsky,” Hank began in his clipped, perky voice.

“Aye, Drakken and Shego, two clients of yours who did’na get off.”

“Convicted, but not in prison. Let’s just say an escape was arranged.”

“You’re a dark one, you are,” said Duff, with a congenial evil laugh.

“My concern is with the man who, shall we say, arranged the escape. His name’s Lars. He’s in prison now, and I have till July to arrange an escape for him. If I don’t, he may implicate me in exchange for a reduced sentence. This was about Drakken’s cold fusion reactor design, which I sold to an energy company, after sending Lars to steal one of the reactors from the Caribbean lair. By the terms of my contract, this lair, which Drakken owned outright, is legally mine, but Global Justice even now continues to guard the site. The action involved a couple of cybertronic diablo robots and Kim Possible.”

“The lass beat you, didn’t she?”

“I peacefully argued legalities with Beatrice Director herself while Lars and the diablos battled Kim Possible and some agents on the ninth floor. So Lars taking the rap looked quite plausible. The problem is, Global Justice confiscated my computers with all Drakken’s engineering data, and my invisible helicopter, without which arranging a prison break won’t be so easy. My geeks have tried hacking into the GJ database to try to get the data back with no success.”

“There’s nae breakin’ into Global Justice headquarters, laddie,” said Duff.

“No, but there may be other copies of Drakken’s database in some of the lairs they didn’t check. One thing Drakken was very good at was backing up his files. He gave me my copy, so I have some reason to suspect the data might be found somewhere in the Taishu Falls lair. Are you familiar with that one? It’s on the jungle side of the Andes in Peru.”

“So, you’ve got nae contact with Dr. Drakken?”

“No, and in view of recent developments I don’t dare try to find him, but if you happen to know where he is—”

“I’ve had nae contact with him either,” said Duff. “But I’ll search any lair of his ye want me to search, mind I’ve ne’er been to any but the Caribbean, the time-share, and the Alps.”

“Hmm. The Alpine lair is guarded by Global Justice, but that one’s a real labyrinth, with many secret rooms they may not have gotten into, but it is the one where Drakken adapted cybertronics to make the diablo robots, so they’d have every reason to search it thoroughly.”

“Of course, I’ll be needing an advance to cover traveling expenses to Peru, in cash if you dinna mind.”

“Of course, Mr. Killigan. Will ten thousand dollars be enough?”

“Depends on how far I have to go to evade the lass,” Duff replied. “That’s her black jet at the airport in town. She could be here for some other reason besides us, but I would’na count on it.”

“Why didn’t you say something about this sooner?” Hank asked, sounding alarmed. “Brigetta!”

An elegant young woman with pale blonde hair opened the office door, “Yes, Mr. Perkins?”

“Is Kim Possible near the building?”

“Not on any of our cameras, but—”

“It’s quite all right, Brigetta. We can trust Mr. Killigan.”

“If you say so, Mr. Perkins,” she replied, and walked over to a blank section of wall not visible through the outside windows and touched it. A perfectly camouflaged door swung outwards.

“Something I installed since the raid,” said Hank, stepping inside. The room was about six by eight feet, with two chairs, a desk, and an odd-looking computer.

Brigetta sat at the keyboard and began typing at carpal tunnel syndrome inducing speed. Street scenes from every surveillance camera within two blocks, four blocks, six blocks of Hank’s building flashed on screen.

“Hold on, I think I see them,” said Duff. “Last picture. The couple on the bench by the fountain.”

A man and a woman sat next to each other, both wearing worn-out brown coats and green stocking caps, throwing breadcrumbs at the mob of pigeons. The woman had a pair of binoculars which she occasionally picked up and looked into, usually, but not always, upwards, as if watching birds.

“Looks like a couple of old birdwatchers.”

“Aye, looks like, but the lass is crafty. Can you zoom in on her face?”

“There’s some little animal in the man’s coat pocket,” said Brigetta. “Every now and then its head pops out.”

“Do you still doubt me, lad?”

“We need to know for sure,” said Hank.

“This is one funky camera,” said Brigetta. “I don’t know how well we can trust the enhancement.”

“Is there a better one you can aim?” asked Hank.

“There’s one behind them. That won’t help much.”

“Wait. It might show us her hair,” said Hank.

But it didn’t. There was no gap between the stocking caps and coat collars to show either person’s hair. Meanwhile, the computer was attempting to enhance the front view.

“It’s working some,” said Brigetta. “Looks like she’s got green or blue eyes and a wisp of red hair popping out across her forehead.”

“Ohhh, that’s her,” said Duff. “The big round eyes, the little turned-up nose, the bad attitude. She don’na look like she’s watching pigeons. She’s on the lookout for an arch foe— me, I would’na be surprised, though how she knew I was here I could’na guess.”

The wind blew a wisp of Kim’s red hair over her eyes and she tucked it under her stocking cap. She looked into her binoculars and saw an image of Duff Killigan leaving the office building through a service door. “Duff’s sneaking out,” she told Ron. “This means they were watching us, probably by tapping security cameras, just like I’m watching Duff right now with these binoculars.”

“That’s the one, I think,” said Ron, pointing to a camera near the roof of a shoestore.

“There’s one in front of us.”

“Looks kind of old.”

“Hey Wade,” Kim said into the microphone concealed by the scarf around her neck. “Did you get an IP address?”

“It should be calling back soon,” Wade’s voice replied, in the headphone concealed by her stocking cap. “Meanwhile, Duff’s taken a cab.”

“Let’s go, Ron,” Kim said, running with him around the corner to the place where her stealth bike was parked.

But they had barely gone a few blocks when Wade’s voice came through the headphones in Kim’s helmet, saying, “Killigan’s jet took off.”

“Can you track him?”

“To some extent,” Wade said. “A lot of my processing power and satellite bandwidth is going toward my manipulation of Perkins’ hidden computer network in a way that his geeks can’t tell I’m doing this.”

“Does Killigan have an immediate legal problem?” Kim asked.

“Nothing Perkins recorded, and I’ve found all his other contracts— Drew and Sheila Lipsky, listed as default. Jack Hench, civil suits. Paolo Gonzalez, criminal, trial postponed. Hector Unron, client switched to another attorney, paid in full. Edwin Bozark, criminal.”

“So Perkins is hiring Killigan,” said Kim. “For what?”

Dot dot dadot! In the group study area of the main library at Northwestern State University, Kim set the bound psychology journal on the table and pulled the kimmunicator from her pocket.

“Sitch me, Wade,” she said, but the face on the screen was her mother. “Oh, hey Mom, sorry.”

“You want to be sitched?” Mom asked.

“Do we have a date?”

“Tuesday, April 10.”

Kim shrieked, then covered her mouth. “Sorry,” she murmured to the faces suddenly turned her way. “Yes, thank you, Mom.”

Ron was walking around the stack of shelves, carrying a pile of heavy bound journals wedged between his hands and his chin when he heard the shriek. When he tried to look to see if Kim was all right, the volumes started slipping from his grip. He managed to regain control after only three of them landed on the carpeting. He put the other five on the table in front of Kim and went back for the others. “Sorry I klutzed,” he said.

“Sit beside me,” Kim said. “We’ve got a date!”

“Dinner and a movie?” Ron asked.

“No, silly! Our wedding!”

“We’re go?”

“Mom said April 10. Where?”

“It’s called the Foothills Chapel,” said Mom. “I think it’s partway up the road to Mount Middleton. They book a lot of weddings there. It’s supposed to be very nice, with a real pipe organ and stained glass windows. I talked to the minister there, Mr. Tully. He’s new, he’s a young man. He says he knows you from the African famine.”

“Luther Tully,” said Kim.

“You remember him.”

“That famine was major bad, Mom. There was this General named Matombe who kept confiscating food and medical supplies to resell on the black market. Luther Tully was a young minister working with one of the charities. He spoke out against Matombe when it might’ve been better to keep quiet. Matombe’s men accused Luther of trafficking with the rebels, and he might have been arrested, but Ron and I bribed one of the better officers, Lawunda, to help us smuggle him across the border.”

“Luther’s cool,” said Ron. “We had some neat conversations about the spiritual lessons in video games.”

“Actually, Matombe was the one trafficking with the rebels,” said Kim, “not that that was such a bad idea, cause the rebels were starving, too, and we didn’t have any good way to get food to them, but making big bucks off this was so wrong. Moral morass, I called it. If only I’d had my jet back then!”

“So, about Jocelyn,” said Mom. “She’s your only girl first cousin, she thinks the world of you, and it would mean so much to her to be your maid of honor.”

Kim sighed. “Mother! All right, what if I have two maids of honor? Monique’s really special to me.”

“Who are the other bridesmaids?”

“I guess just Monique and Joss.”

“We’ll just call them both bridesmaids then,” said Mom.


A small black jet with “KP” monogrammed on the tail flew high over the Peruvian Andes. Felix Renton’s cyber-robotic wheelchair was locked in place at the controls.

“Is it okay if I bring a date?” asked Felix.

Kim made a face. “How can we tell anyone that’s not okay?” she asked Ron. “How can we ask close friends to celebrate our love if they can’t bring their own loves?”

“There goes small,” said Ron.

“Yeah, maybe,” Kim agreed. “I’m assuming you’re thinking of Belinda.”

“We’re pretty tight now,” said Felix.

“This week,” said Kim.

“Every time you spend the night with me, Belinda spends the night with Felix, and lately that’s been a lot of nights,” said Ron.

“Are you okay with that?” Kim asked Felix. “Cause it’s not right for us to push you into her arms if you don’t wanna be there.”

“It’s cool. We’re tight.”

“So you love her?”

“Uh—” Felix said.

“That’s advanced terminology, Kim,” said Ron. “Not all men are as comfortable discussing their feelings as I am.”

Kim rolled her eyes. “If you say so, dear.”

“Let’s put it this way, dude. Sometimes you can’t avoid it. If Belinda looks into your eyes and says, ‘I love you,’ what are you gonna say?”

“We’re getting near the drop site. Better suit up.”

“Off the hook,” said Ron. “Discussion to be continued later.”

“Major whew!” said Felix, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, as Kim and Ron put on their parasails and checked other gear.

“And here we are, back at Taishu Falls, chasing Duff Killigan,” said Kim. “I wonder what this is all about.”

“My guess is either Hank put him up to hunting Drakken, who we don’t want him to find, or he’s looking for something else we don’t want him to find.” Kim pulled the kimmunicator from her pocket as she jumped out of the plane. “Wade, did Drakken have any kind of deed or land title to the Taishu Falls lair?”

“Good thought,” he replied. “I researched this when we got tangentially involved in the struggle between the Indians and the logging company. It’s never been surveyed into parcels. To the Peruvian government, it’s national land. To the Indians, it’s theirs. I believe the Earth Eco Action lawyers are attempting to get the Indians a title.”

Ron snapped suddenly upward relative to Kim’s fall when he pulled his parasail. Kim opened hers and glided down to the top of the plateau.

The river was larger than Kim remembered, swift and turbulent across the sandy flat above the edge of the cliff. As far from the river as possible was a small helicopter decorated with the red, green, and gold plaid of Clan Killigan, covered with camouflage netting.

“Looks like he’s planning to be here for awhile, and not expecting an interruption,” said Kim.

“You still got Wade online?” asked Ron. “I got a question for him.”

“Um, okay,” said Kim, passing him the kimmunicator.

“Wade, Duff Killigan has a Sammy Spinner 7000 jet copter here. Any quick reversible way to make it not work, under field conditions, with minimal toolage?”

“Good idea,” said Kim.

“Is the hatch unlocked?” Wade asked.

“Seems to be locked,” Kim said, trying the handle, but just a bit more force unlatched it, and the hatch swung open. “It was just stuck.”

“Did he leave a key in the starter switch?” Wade asked. Ron climbed inside after Kim, looked at the control panel, and removed a key. “That was simple,” he said.

“Use it to unlock the cabinet underneath the controls, and unplug the bright green wire from the box of circuit breaker switches.”

Ron and Kim stooped down to do this, found the wire in question, and Ron unplugged it. “Done and done.”

“So take the key with you, use it to lock the hatch, and keep it in your pocket.”

“Maybe you’d better hold the key,” Ron told Kim as they left Killigan’s chopper. “I lose stuff.”

Kim added the key to her key ring and smiled at Ron. “Let’s get him!” she said.

At the edge of the cliff, Killigan’s line was hooked to the same anchor used by the Greensleeves folks. “Give me a count of fifteen, then follow,” Kim said, putting on her heavy leather mission gloves and sliding down the rope. Ron soon followed.

The falls were truly thunderous, with little space to squeeze behind the water into the cave. A fine mist made it a little hard to see, but they could see that Killigan had gone beyond the lab to the inner tunnels.

“Probably the moment we lift up the first door, he’ll know someone’s here,” said Kim. “They’re rusty and noisy. I’m guessing he’s in the room Drakken and Shego last used.”

“The lab’s picked pretty clean,” said Ron, noticing as his eyes became accustomed to the dim light. Rufus popped out of his pocket and wandered around the lab bench, sniffing. “Even the broken cold fusion reactor’s gone.”

“Shhh,” Kim whispered, stooping to lift up the sliding door. It rose with a rattling rumble. Kim flipped on her flashlight and stepped cautiously into the tunnel.

Rufus ran to Ron and they followed her. This time all the side doors were closed. Kim slowly lifted the dented door to the henchmen’s common room.

“Whoever ye are, ye’re trespassing, so go away,” Killigan’s voice echoed across the cavernous room.

“Duff Killigan!” cried Kim. “It has been awhile.”

“Lassie, ye seem to be looking for me. Why, I kinna imagine.”

“Whatever Hank sent you here to get, I don’t think I want him to have.”

“Lass, ye’re known to be a stickler for the law. Everything in this lair or cave is the property of Mr. Perkins, per his legal contract with Dr. Drakken and Mrs. Lipsky.”

“I don’t think so.”

“Oooh? And why not?”

“Most of Drakken’s work is based on stolen parts and plans. And this lair is on unsurveyed land that rightfully belongs to the Tulabombu Indians.”

“To yer first point, the original inventors can call this to the intention of Mr. Perkins if they wish. To yer second, if Mr. Perkins wishes to clean up the lair where Dr. Drakken was squatting, why should the Indians object to that? But enough of the opening arguments. Let’s get to the action.” He pulled a golf club from his backpack, set a golf ball on the floor, and whacked it toward Kim and Ron.

Kim grabbed Ron and pulled him out the doorway, slamming the door down on a metallic bang. “Paintball time?” Ron asked.

“Might be of some use if we’re trapped,” said Kim. “Unfortunately, unlike a gun firing, Killigan’s balls don’t explode till they’re near us, which means the antiexplosive foam’s gotta be near us instead of near him. Let’s just rush him, random approach, knock him down and rough him up.”

“Works for me,” said Ron, kicking away the golf ball that rolled under the door the moment they started lifting it up. It flew down the dark tunnel and blew up. “I think he’s got gyros in those darn things,” Ron muttered. He took a deep breath, waited for the sound of a golf ball being struck, and ran across the cave at an angle, jumping on a large table, maintained his balance when the tabletop cracked, hopped off and changed direction.

Kim, meanwhile, was running, hopping, and flipping, at one point right next to Ron, then just as suddenly next to Killigan, who swung his driver at her. She dodged this and got in a kick at his head before flipping backwards to dodge him again. Ron jumped behind Killigan, grabbing a bunch of golf clubs from his golf bag and heaving upwards. As Duff spun around, Kim grabbed a heavy driver off the floor and began to parry with him as though they were fencing. Ron picked up another driver and raised it to clobber Duff on the head, but Duff spun around, parrying that while pulling an orange golf ball from his pocket.

Duff threw the ball hard at the floor of the cave. It broke like an eggshell, releasing a spinning pink spray of sweet-smelling fumes. Kim, Ron, and Duff all collapsed on the floor.

“There’s some advantage to being a big fat guy,” said Duff as he tied a groaning Kim’s ankles together. Her wrists were already bound behind her back. Then he added more ropes to Ron. “You see, the same dose o’ gas won’na knock me out as long as you featherweights.”

“You’re wasting your time, Duff,” said Kim. “There’s nothing here of any value to either you or Hank.”

“So what’d ye be roughing me up for then, lass? Ye’ll pardon me if I dinna believe ye, given the circumstances.”

“Just to show you I’m watching you, and I’ll stop you.”

“Who stopped who, lass? I dinna think ye’ll be cutting yer way out with that engagement ring.”

“You took her engagement ring?” said Ron. “Oooh dude, you are gonna pay!”

“Nah, I’m a gentleman, I would’na take the lass’s ring,” said Duff, grinning as he held up a tiny speck of silver. “But I did take out the battery.”

“Ron, don’t say anything!” said Kim.

“Not even, ‘That tanks!’?” Ron asked.

“If it makes you feel better,” said Kim. “But nothing else.”

Duff went back inside the room Drakken and Shego had used as a hideout after the courthouse escape and hummed bagpipe tunes while clicking away at a computer keyboard.

Rufus, of course, reappeared from whatever shadows he’d been hiding in and gnawed through the ropes on Kim’s wrists. First thing she did after freeing her ankles was check her pockets for her keys. They were still there, including the key to Duff’s helicopter. The kimmunicator was still in her other pocket.

“I might have had a laser on my key ring,” said Kim.

“A laser on yer key ring?” said Duff, rushing back to look through the door at Kim and Ron. “Oooh nooo!”

“You’ve got good ears for a man your age,” said Kim.

“Later on, dude,” said Ron, grabbing a paintball from his pouch and throwing it at the mad golfer. A good part of the henchmen’s room was almost instantly filled with bubbling blue foam, with a touch of eye-stinging pepper. By the time it melted back down to a coating of blue slime, Kim and Ron were out of sight.

Duff Killigan was out of breath by the time he reached the top of the cliff and his helicopter. He carefully pulled the camouflage netting off the rotor and folded it up.

“What’s this?” he asked, trying the hatch. “Dinna tell me I locked the keys inside!” He looked through the plastic bubble. “Oooh, the lass is crafty. There I was, worrying ’bout a laser in her ring, and she had my key in her pocket all the time! So I got the data all right, but what’s her plan? She’ll figure I either fix the chopper, climb o’er the mountains, or go down the river to the first airport, however many hundreds of kilometers that may be.” He took a satellite phone out of his pouch and pressed buttons to call Hank Perkins’ office. “I’ll just bounce the data off a satellite,” he said, plugging the phone into a pocket hard drive. “I’d like to see the lass stop that.”

Kim Possible’s smiling face appeared on the tiny screen of his satellite phone. “Hey, Duff,” she said sweetly. “I’m sorry your call cannot be completed. Don’t bother checking the number, don’t bother redialing, and by the way, you know that hard drive plugged into your phone? Oops! The directory just got hosed. Did I do that? I’m so sorry. A data recovery outfit might be able to save it, but you’ll have to take it to them. Have a nice day!”

Duff switched off the phone and put it in his pouch with the pocket drive. He took a putter from his golf bag, wedged the blade in the crack of the helicopter’s hatch, and twisted till the putter’s handle broke. The second putter warped the frame enough to pop the latch.

“Duff, ye fool, did’n yer mom always say never leave the keys in the car? The lass probably did worse than take the key. But I’ve got my jerky and dried fruit, and my rubber boat.” He put the food in his golf bag and picked up a large zippered suitcase. “Am I gonna charge Hank for this one! And if he doesn’t go for my fee, I know certain parties who’ll pay handsomely for this information.”

Duff went down the cliff about a quarter mile away from the falls, and made his way through the jungle toward the river. Even down here, it was swiftly flowing. With some hesitation, Killigan inflated his plaid rubber boat, jumped on, and pushed off with the steering paddle. Day faded into night. The stars formed a channel between the black trees on either bank.

Dot dot dadot! went the kimmunicator. Kim fumbled around for the light on the table in the unfamiliar room. She tucked the green sheet under her armpits to make sure she was adequately covered and turned on the kimmunicator to her mom’s face.

“Kimmie!” she said, with an air of mock disapproval. “You’re not talking to Wade like that, are you? Where are you anyway?”

“It’s the middle of the night, I’m in Peru, in a cave behind a waterfall, trailing Duff Killigan, who’s after some evil technology for Hank Perkins. He slipped away from us somehow.”

“Well, I was checking out wedding invitations for you, and found one that really reminded me of you and Ron. It goes, ‘Today I will marry my friend, the one I laugh with, live for, dream with, love.’ ”

Kim just stared at her mom’s image on the phone.

“Kimmie?” Mom asked.

“No— it’s perfect, Mom.” Kim said, wiping a tear from the corner of her eye. “That’s so exactly us. At least I think it is.”

At that moment Ron changed position and began snoring. Mom raised an eyebrow. “Maybe I should call back when you’re not, um, sleeping. Aren’t you gonna miss classes tomorrow?”

“I meant to tell Duff Killigan to raid Drakken’s old lair on a Saturday night, so I could stop him without skipping any classes, but I don’t think he would’ve cooperated. I’ll watch recordings of the lectures and do all the work so don’t worry. We’ll stop him tomorrow for sure.”

“Well, okay—”

“Did you ever think we’d be sleeping in Drakken and Shego’s old bed?” Kim asked Ron in the morning, not that there was any sign of daylight this deep in the cave.

“This is the bed where she got pregnant, the home she had when she gave up her evil ways and make Drakken do likewise.”

“I like the home they have now a lot better,” said Ron.

“Me, too. Mom called late last night. How does this sound for a wedding invitation? I should have written it down, it was so true to us. Let me see, ‘Today I will marry my friend, the one I laugh with, live for, dream with, love.’ What do you think?”

“Today I will marry my friend,” Ron repeated. “I like it. What time is it? If it’s daylight we should call Wade for a fix on Killigan.”

“It’s way before dawn in Middleton. Wade—”

Dot dot dadot!

“Right on cue,” said Ron. “How does he do that?”

“Shhh! This should be Wade, but—” Kim tucked the green sheet under her shoulders again, and tried to aim the kimmunicator’s camera at her face. Wade appeared on the screen and rolled his eyes. “Looks like a comfy lair,” he said. “Ready for a climactic battle with Killigan?”

“Did Felix drop those gas masks near the chopper?” asked Kim.

“One of them got snagged on a high tree branch according to my satellite view, but you should be able to retrieve it. Felix figured since you had Killigan’s chopper, he could go back to Northwestern State for his mechanical engineering lab today.”

Duff was trying to sleep on his plaid raft, which was hidden under some brush near the river a night’s drift downstream from Taishu Falls. The flies kept bothering him. Suddenly his satellite phone rang.

“I bet anything it’s the lass trying to trace me,” he muttered, looking at the caller ID. “No, it’s Hank. I better see what he wants.”

“Hello, Duff, Hank Perkins here,” said a clipped, perky voice.

“I would’na call if I were you. The lass has been tapping my satellite phone.”

“That’s quite illegal without a warrant,” Hank replied.

“In the United States, maybe,” said Duff. “We’re in the rain forest. Gonna take me a few days to get out again, too.”

“Did you get it?”

“I’m not sure,” said Duff. “The lass erased the disk. We may or may not be able to recover anything useful.”

At that moment, Ron Stoppable’s smiling face split the screen on Duff’s satellite phone. “Good morning, gentlemen,” he said pleasantly.

“Mr. Stoppable, I have you now,” said Hank. “I’m recording this conversation. This is an illegal wireless wiretap on a private conversation by a private party.”

“Dude, I’m in the Peruvian rain forest. You can tap anything anybody says out here. It’s how they track the cocaine lords. You gotta be able to track cocaine lords.”

“If you were Peruvian, that might be the case,” said Hank. “I’ll have to research that. But you and I are both American citizens, and one end of this call is in America, so I believe your tap is illegal.”

“Nuh-uh-uh-uh-uh,” said Ron. “We know what you’re after. You want that cloaking technology Drakken developed a few years back.”

“I do have legal right to his intellectual property.”

“Yeah, dude, about that. After an incident with Central Asian Jihad stealing a hoverjet outfitted with that cloaking technology, it was reclassified Z-12. You should know what that means. If you’re a private party possessing or attempting to procure Z-12 technology, you’re legally considered a terrorist. Which means I can tap your conversations any time I want.”

“If you were legitimate law enforcement, that might be true—”

“We got three days to get an after-the-fact warrant from the secret court. What do you bet we get it?”

At that moment, the door to Hank Perkins’ office swung open, and a SWAT team of Global Justice agents led by Will Du charged in with weapons drawn, one of them leading Brigetta in handcuffs.

“Drop the phone, Mr. Perkins, now!” yelled Will Du, and the phone stuck the floor behind his desk and exploded.

“What the—” said one of the agents.

“You told me to drop it and I did,” said Hank. “I wasn’t expecting that to happen.”

“You’re the only one in the room who didn’t jump,” observed Will, wrestling Hank’s arms behind his back and cuffing his wrists. “I think you were indeed expecting that.”

“This is hardly necessary,” said Hank. “I am certainly not going to resist arrest, but I believe I have the right to know why you are detaining me.”

“Private party attempting to procure a Z-12 class device or weapon,” said Will. “And this time you’ve got no henchman to take the rap.”

At that same moment, Duff’s helicopter, piloted by Ron, flew across the river toward the spot Killigan was hiding under the brush. Duff started running for it, which was a mistake, because Kim opened the hatch and fired her grappling hook gun at him. Under the brush, something went bang. The grappling jaws clamped on Killigan’s belt. Kim braced the grappling hook gun against the rail and Ron lifted the helicopter about twenty feet higher.

“I surrender, lass, I surrender!” Killigan yelled.

“Stand still, and put your hands up,” Kim yelled back. The line on the grappling hook went slack when Duff awkwardly touched down on the gravel bank beside the river.

“You’d better land this thing,” Ron told Kim.

“Okay,” she said, and took his place at the controls to land the chopper not far from Killigan. “You did a good job hovering, though.”

Kim hung her gas mask around her neck.

“Oh, now what’s that for, lass? Expecting a last minute trick from old Duff?”

“Hmm, maybe,” she said. “I wouldn’t advise it though.”

“I spoze ye’ll be wanting that hard drive.”

“Well, yuh!”

“Ye won’t be finding it on my person. What’s left of it is under the bush.”

“What’s left of it?” asked Kim.

“That would be this,” said Ron, holding what looked like part of a metal box ripped open by an explosion. “I’m guessing it had a self-destruct button.”

Killigan chuckled.

“You heard the helicopter and trashed the evidence,” said Kim.

“That’s your theory, lass. I’ve learned not to rant about my plans, not that I necessarily had plans, ye’ll understand.”

Kim snapped handcuffs on Duff’s wrists. “So you’ve trashed some evidence. It’s still worth my while to turn you in to Global Justice. I think I know what this is all about, too. Hank wants an invisible chopper to bust Lars out of jail the way Lars freed Drakken and Shego.”

“I would’na know,” said Duff. “I just copied a bunch of engineering plans Mr. Perkins asserted were legally his. I would’na necessarily know what they were for, and for that matter how would Mr. Perkins even know what I copied? Ye stopped me from sending anything.”

“Get in, sit down, and be quiet,” Kim told Duff. “You can play dumb in court. I don’t feel like listening to it.”

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