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Mind Out Of Time

Part 3

Kim Possible, Ron Stoppable, Rufus, Wade Load, Monique, and Felix Renton 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 May of Kim and Ron’s sophomore year of college, three years after “So the Drama,” and shortly after “Mind Out Of Time, Part 2: Dress Rehearsal.” This story 2006 by cloudmonet. This concludes a three part story.

Wearing a Earth Eco Action T-shirt and a flowered bikini bottom made at Jao Dung Prison, a young Melanesian woman frowned at her companion. “She won’t come,” she said in her native dialect, a language with fewer than three hundred living speakers.

He looked up from his laptop computer at her pretty face, decorated with a lacelike pattern of bumps. They were sitting in one of the few internet cafes in the Malaysian part of Borneo. Most of the other customers were tourists in holiday clothes, or bearded terrorists wearing jungle cammo.

A young brown-skinned woman with wavy black hair and bright brown eyes walked in off the street. She wore a flowered blouse tied to expose her midriff with tan shorts and leather sandals. She walked around the tables, as if looking for someone, and moved directly toward the young Borneo couple.

“Hey, sister,” she said in English to the young woman. “Are you Limau— and Wikiwaki?”

The young man smiled. “I’m Wikiwaki,” he said.

Limau took her clue from him and smiled shyly. “I— Limau,” she said, tapping her chest.

“I’m Monique,” said the woman in the flowered blouse. “Is the food any good here? Have you eaten already? I’m kinda hungry and something smells good. You want me to buy you lunch?”

“You are most kind, Monique,” Wikiwaki replied.

“No big.”

“Do you think she knows her?” Limau asked Wikiwaki in their own language.

“How else would a rich tourist woman know our names?”

Monique was waving at the waitress, who came to the table but glanced at Wikiwaki and Limau with distaste. “Can you speak English?” Monique asked her.

“Lidda bit. You wanna curry chao, ped mao, swang hao, wott nao?” This wasn’t exactly what she really said, but she spoke so quickly that Monique couldn’t understand any better.

“Whoa, slow down. What’s the rice, mushroom, tofu, and pepper those guys are having?” She pointed at a table of possible terrorists.

“Oh, dat bomm pao,” the waitress said. “You likey dat?”

“Bomb pow? Yeah, three plates of that.” She raised three fingers. After the waitress hustled away, Monique remarked, “That’s a good bilingual pun, those guys eating bomb pow of all things.”

The bearded men looked at her darkly.

“What?” Monique said with a smile. “You’re army guys, aren’t you?”

“Army guys, yeah,” one of them said, forcing a smile.

“So you shoot, bam! pow! like the name of your food, right?”

Both men shrugged and ignored her after that.

“What you doing?” Limau asked with an urgent hush. “Those guys bad.”

“Yeah, I bet they’re baaaad,” Monique said, then whispered, “Definitely terrorists who know English. Yeah, I’m just a dumb tourist chick lusting after local army guys. Don’t know nothing ’bout what Kim and Ron are doin’. Do you think that dude’s hot?”

“So not,” said Limau.

“Sister, you know I’m faking, right?” Monique whispered. “I’ll get real when we’re more private.”

“They just privates, plain soldiers,” said Limau. “You wanna officer.”

“Yeah,” Monique replied.

Wikiwaki was typing something on his laptop keyboard.

The waitress came, carrying three plates of rice, tofu, mushrooms, and pepper. Monique flashed a credit card, which the waitress pressed into an old-fashioned carbon-paper receipt. She gave Monique back her card and the yellow copy.

Kim and Ron walked across the clearing on top of the mountain toward Dr. Mekong, a slight bald man in a gray lab coat with a wispy goatee. His henchmen had black turbans and thick beards.

“I understand you have come to inspect our facility, Kim Possible,” the scientist said, shaking her hand. “Surely your contacts in the government have assured you that our work is entirely— up and up, would you say?”

“First of all, a high mountain in Borneo is a strange place for a particle accelerator.”

“An excellent location actually, with the hydroelectric and solar opportunities.”

“Hmm, yes. I didn’t see any dams or solar panels in the satellite imagery,” said Kim.

“All in the future,” said Dr. Mekong. “For now, we’re running off an Unron 200 Megawatt Cold Fusion Reactor.”

“The fashion sense of your henchmen is a bit suspicious,” said Ron.

“Many in Malaysia are devout Muslims,” said Dr. Mekong. “You can’t accuse someone of being a terrorist simply for growing a full beard or wearing a black turban.”

“A few months ago, did you have employees named Ho Zhomp and Khi Myong?”

“I know everyone who’s working here now, but I wasn’t here during the site preparation and construction phases.”

“Are you aware that two terrorists from Central Asian Jihad landed a stolen hoverjet here in January and picked up a crew for a mission to China?” asked Kim. “Ho and Khi were among the people who went with them.”

“Don’t even try it, dude,” said Ron.

Kim knew exactly which one he meant and hit his wrist with a spinning kick, causing the handgun he was drawing to spin through the air to Ron’s hands. Kim punched the man to the ground, kicked another one who made a move she didn’t like, and flipped a third.

Ron fired a shot and shouted, “I want everybody, ’cept Kim of course, down on the ground, on your bellies, hands over your head and no movin’, NOW!” He was holding the gun as if he knew how to use it and glaring with his best serious face.

Kim gave Ron a huge smile, then, businesslike, frisked the henchmen, collecting a couple of other handguns and some sharp knives. “Well, Dr. Mekong, did you really think you could take me prisoner or shoot me?”

“This is all a misunderstanding,” he replied, his voice thin and pleading.

“I don’t think so,” said Kim, pointing her kimmunicator at one of the bearded henchmen. It beeped. She walked over and nudged him with her foot. “Yeah, that’s you. Roll over. Let me see your face, Ali Abdullah.”

He didn’t move till she kicked him really hard.

“What kind of man are you, Ali Abdullah?” Kim asked, staring into his dark brown eyes. “You think you’re trying to do something good, but killing millions of people can’t be good, no matter who they are and no matter what your grievance is against them. Stopping you was probably the best thing I’ve done in my life, and here you are, what, trying to make your own encapsulated antimatter with this particle accelerator? I wouldn’t advise it. You’ll just blow a crater in this mountain if you don’t know what you’re doing, and I doubt that any of you do. But there’s indigenous people here, some rare birds and primates, and a nice rain forest which I really don’t want blown up.” A well-aimed sniper bullet went through Kim’s head.

Ron turned and fired a clip of bullets at what he thought was the sniper’s location in the trees.

“Kim, you’re not really dead,” said Ron.

“No, I’m not,” she replied.

He opened his eyes to the inside of Kim’s black jet, where he and Kim were lying side by side in the foldout bed, with telepathy helmets connected to the new portable interface unit. While connected to each other this way in Dr. Hurlbetter’s lab, Kim and Ron discovered they could relive shared experiences from the past or the future, a future that could then be altered if necessary.

“That still didn’t go well, did it?” Belinda asked. “Do you want to try again?”

Belinda Brockmeyer was Felix Renton’s girlfriend, and Dr. Hurlbetter’s undergraduate assistant. She knew how to run the equipment.

Kim sat up. “Maybe. Let’s run down what we’ve learned. There’s no doubt Dr. Mekong is in league with the terrorists. He wasn’t at all surprised when Ali Abdullah tried to kill me. His henchmen are mostly Malaysian, but they dress like Central Asian Jihad guys.”

“We should do this mission as a straight bust,” said Ron. “And no rants against evil till everyone’s accounted for.”

Rufus, Ron’s pet naked mole rat, scampered onto Ron’s shoulder as soon as he heard his voice.

“Hey, little buddy,” Ron said, stroking his pink skin.

“Sorry,” said Kim. “The rant was just to draw them out. I wouldn’t do it for the real sitch. Trouble is, we need to prove Dr. Mekong is up to no good. He’s got connections in the provincial and national governments who are not doing background checks on his employees, and not looking into his intentions. I was able to pressure other officials into letting us inspect.”

“Isn’t finding Ali Abdullah working there proof enough?” asked Felix. “The way I see it, we should just saturate the site with antiexplosive foam.”

“No good,” said Kim. “Mekong said they’re running off an Unron cold-fusion reactor, probably Drakken’s design. If antiexplosive foam gets into the reactor’s air vents, there’s a real nasty chemical reaction, and the cold fusion reaction could heat up. We so don’t want that happening if we’re anywhere nearby!”

“Ouch!” said Felix.

Monique opened the passenger door of her rental car, a white Suburu, and flipped the seat forward. After hesitating, both Wikiwaki and Limau got into the back seat.

“Oh, you want to sit together?” Monique asked. “That’s okay.” She walked around around and got in the driver’s seat.

“Are you taking us to Kim Possible?” asked Wikiwaki.

“That internet cafe was full of them,” said Monique. “Kim doesn’t want them to see you guys with her.”

“They’re already shooting at us,” said Limau.

“Yeah, well, they don’t like you guys, and they know Kim’s out to get them, but if they don’t know we’re working together, we can make better surprises.”

“What’s the plan?” asked Wikiwaki.

“I’m not sure,” said Monique. “Kim and Ron are still holed up in their jet, on the plantation airstrip, working it out with Felix and Belinda.”

The bubbling cold fusion reactor cast a greenish light in the underground room. To one side was the curved housing of the particle accelerator, and at the other end of the room, the target, where Dr. Mekong hoped to replicate Wade Load’s process for encapsulating antimatter.

“As you can see, friend Abdullah, there’s nothing to worry about. I can explain the function of everything here as pure research in particle physics. The equipment specific to encapsulating antimatter is no bigger than a hard drive, and believe me, it’s hidden where she’ll never find it.”

“This isn’t some bureaucrat half-sympathetic to the cause,” Abdullah replied. “This is Kim Possible. She’s relentless, and—”

“You worry too much,” said Dr. Mekong. “When you landed the Global Justice plane here on your way to China, I was not in charge. There was no one here but construction crew, grunts, sympathetic to the jihad. We are scientists and technicians, dedicated to bringing employment and prosperity to an otherwise backwards region.”

“You think she’s a fool. She’s clever and dangerous. Either we take her out, or get a one way ride to the American Gulag.”

“So the rumor is true,” said Khi Myong, who had been Ali Abdullah’s cellmate in Jao Dung Prison. “Kim Possible is coming—”

“To inspect the facility, to make sure the terrorists are no longer in charge,” Dr. Mekong said with a chuckle. “Many Malaysians are devout Muslims. You cannot accuse someone of being a terrorist just because he wears a full beard and a black turban. I’m a respected particle physicist. I wouldn’t hire terrorists.”

“Yeah, right,” said Ali Abdullah.

Dr. Mekong waved a technical journal. “I’ll show her my papers.”

“Her technical staff has probably run a style comparison of your signed technical articles and your weapons-making instructions on our website,” said Abdullah.

“You really think she’s that good?”

“There was another prisoner, a big fat Japanese man called Sumo Ninja. He’s crossed paths with Kim Possible repeatedly, and considers it no dishonor to be foiled by her. What I realize now is that I myself was foiled by her. She told the Chinese how to penetrate the plane’s invisibility. She was that red-haired commando leading the assault on our base in the Hindu Kush. She must know that I landed here and got a new crew. This is no inspection, friend Mekong. This is a raid.”

“What do you propose, friend Abdullah?”

“Let’s keep it simple. I’ll just shoot her while her attention’s on you.”

“That’s an act with dire consequences for this facility. Her death would shut us down.”

“Consider the big picture, my friend. Her death would advance our cause.”

“And there’s your evidence, with translation,” Wade said proudly, “taped off their own security camera.”

“You rock, as always,” said Kim.

“Unfortunately, this is the only camera actually inside the lab. I guess they want to keep an eye on that cold fusion reactor.”

“Too bad he didn’t say where the antimatter encapsulating stuff was.”

Wade grinned. “Well, if they copied my plan, which I doubt they completely understood, it includes a nanochip beacon you can tune into with the kimmunicator.”

Kim smiled.

“We’ve still got to make the bust ourselves, right?” asked Ron.

“This might be good enough for the central government or Global Justice, but I’d like to avoid a shootout if possible. To use antiexplosive foam safely, someone has to shut down the cold fusion reactor and seal its air vents.”

“Sounds like a job for Mrs. and Mr. Stoppable. So how are we going to do this?”

Kim and Ron walked across the clearing on top of the mountain toward Dr. Mekong, a slight bald man in a gray lab coat with a wispy goatee. His henchmen had black turbans and thick beards.

“I understand you have come to inspect our facility, Kim Possible,” the scientist said, shaking her hand. “Surely your contacts in the government have assured you that our work is entirely— up and up, would you say?”

“Of course, Dr. Mekong,” Kim replied. “But a high mountain in Borneo is an unusual place to build a particle accelerator. My concern is possible damage to the environment. This jungle is habitat for a number of endangered primates and birds, as well as the home territory of several indigenous tribes.”

Dr. Mekong looked puzzled, and made a curious gesture. Two of his henchmen scowled darkly.

“Our power source is very clean and efficient, a state of the art Unron 200 Megawatt cold fusion reactor which we plan to augment eventually with a solar power installation.”

“And, perhaps, also a hydroelectric dam?” Kim asked.

Across the clearing, in the jungle, something went thump, a sniper knocked down by a tribesman jumping from a tree.

“Don’t even try it, dude,” said Ron.

Kim knew exactly which henchman he meant and hit his wrist with a spinning kick, causing the handgun he was drawing to spin through the air to Ron’s hands. Kim punched the man to the ground, kicked another one who made a move she didn’t like, and flipped a third.

Ron fired a shot into the air and shouted, “I want everybody, ’cept Kim of course, down on the ground, on your bellies, hands over your head and no movin’, NOW!” He was holding the gun as if he knew how to use it and glaring with his best serious face.

Kim gave Ron a huge smile, then, businesslike, frisked the henchmen, collecting a couple of other handguns and some sharp knives, which she put in her backpack. Then Ron threw down a ninja smoke pellet, and ran with Kim through the front door.

Kim and Ron put on their infrared goggles. Kim reached into her pocket and pulled out a plug without a cord. “This should blow the circuit breaker and keep it blown,” she whispered, sticking the plug into the electrical outlet. The corridor went dark. An alarm sounded. Kim and Ron heard footsteps running, and darted into a bathroom. They could see flashlights through the crack around the door.

They came out a few steps behind the two men. Kim leapt and spun through the air to kick her man in the head. Ron downed his with a tackle from behind. The flashlight struck the floor and came apart, spilling its batteries. The gun, fortunately, was also knocked out of his hands and out of reach. However, this man was a tangle of angry muscle who almost got the better of Ron a couple of times, till Rufus, Ron’s pet molerat and secret weapon, bit his hands and face, and Ron slammed his head against the concrete floor.

Meanwhile, Dr. Mekong, Ali Abdullah, and the others outside, already disarmed by Kim and Ron, found themselves surrounded by about fifty angry jungle men with long spears, their faces and bodies painted with black and white patterns.

“I don’t think you’re gonna shoot at us anymore,” said Wikiwaki, thrusting his spear toward one of the Malay men. “We takin’ you prisoner for Kim and she takin’ you outta here forever.”

In a very businesslike way, the men of three local clans began locking handcuffs on their captives’ wrists.

Kim and Ron ran down the fire stairs and into a corridor that was still lit. Kim found an outlet, plugged in another circuit-blowing device, and this corridor went dark. The alarm continued beeping. With their infrared goggles, Kim and Ron saw a man attempting to feel his way, and quickly overpowered him and bound him with the cloth of his turban.

“At least they don’t all have flashlights handy,” she said, as she searched him for weapons.

Then Kim and Ron came to the main lab, and cautiously cracked open the door and peered in. Two technicians were at a bank of circuit breakers with a flashlight, trying to restore the power. One on them said something in Arabic. Kim opened the door a little wider. The ghoulish green glow of the bubbling cold fusion reactor wasn’t much brighter in infrared.

Kim and Ron slipped into the room, moving behind tables and banks of equipment to the reactor control panel. The on-off switch was locked by a key, but no problem for Kim, who stuck her cybertronic skeleton key into the lock, waited a few tense moments for the key to adapt to the correct configuration, switched it off, put the key back in her pocket, and moved quickly toward the two technicians. The green glow faded. The alarm stopped.

Ron snatched the flashlight from the man holding it and threw it across the room. The fight was fast and decisive, but one of the technicians managed to break Ron’s infrared goggles before being subdued.

“It’s all right, Ron, I brought spare goggles,” Kim said, going through all the confiscated handguns in her backpack to find them.

Kim fired her grappling hook gun at some pipes on the ceiling and swung to the top of the cold fusion reactor, where she examined the air hoses coupled to a fan housing on the ceiling. “This is it,” she said. “I just need a big pipe wrench.”

“These guys don’t have any weapons on them,” Ron informed her, and went over to a red metal tool cabinet and started looking through drawers. He found a pipe wrench that was about thirty inches long and probably weighed thirty pounds. “How ’bout this?”

Kim swung back down to the floor and joined Ron at the tool drawers. “I might want that if it’s stuck hard, but probably a smaller one will do fine.” With two wrenches in hand, she winched herself back up to the top of the reactor, and disconnected the hoses from the fan housing and reconnected them to each other. “Done,” she said. “Let’s get out of here.”

“I’m ready for that,” said Ron, pulling two paintball guns loaded with antiexplosive foam reagents from his backpack and giving one to Kim.

They moved cautiously back to the door, the corridor, the stairway. There was a man ahead of them, blind in the darkness, attempting to feel his way up.

Taking two steps at a time in rhythm with his steps, Kim and Ron climbed closer. Ron fired a paintball at the underside of the stairs above the man, who was engulfed by what looked like glowing bubbles in the infrared goggles. Quickly the foam collapsed. He was choking, sputtering, and slipping on the steps. Kim and Ron carefully stepped past him and continued to the corridor at the surface level and out.

The men of all three local clans were grinning, looking like they were having a good time. Dr. Mekong, Ali Abdullah, the nine men who had been with them, and the two snipers caught in the jungle, were sitting on the ground, their hands cuffed behind their backs.

“We got them all out here,” old chief Kibakauwa told Kim. “How many more inside?”

“At least six. Two of them were armed.”

Felix was sitting in his cyber-robotic wheelchair, with sprayer tanks attached to the seat back. “I’m all ready,” he said.

“The reactor’s shut down and sealed,” said Kim. “Go for it.”

One of the cyber-robotic tentacles opened the door, the other one fed a double pressure hose inside. Felix pressed a button to activate the pump.

“Whoa, dude, that’s plenty,” said Ron.

Kim and Ron leaned against the door as blue foam fizzed through the crack like an erupting soda. After about half a minute, the pressure subsided.

First they brought out the two men by the upstairs bathroom, then the man on the stairs, the man in the downstairs corridor, the two techs in the lab. Then they searched the facility for others, finding five more, all of whom immediately surrendered.

Kim then searched for the antimatter encapsulating equipment by the nanochip beacon. It was hidden in a plastic bag inside a box of laundry soap in a cleaning supply cupboard.

“Naughty, naughty, Dr. Mekong, building a particle accelerator to make encapsulated antimatter bombs,” Kim said with a smile, showing him the incriminating device. “And you, Ali Abdullah, you’re the guy who actually wants to use an encapsulated antimatter bomb, a dragonslayer bomb, a Chixulub bomb. What kind of man are you, anyway? Do you want to wipe out America, the human species, or life on Earth? Well, okay, I’m sure there’ll still be rats and cockroaches. I know you don’t care about Americans or Europeans, but have you thought about what the tsunami your bomb would cause will do to the coasts of Arabia, the lowlands of Iraq, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Indonesia?”

Some of the bearded captives looked angrily at Ali Abdullah.

“The infidel woman lies!” he cried out.

“Lies?” asked Kim, looking at them all. “Think for yourselves! What do you think would happen if you blew a three hundred mile hole, a hundred miles deep, in Chesapeake Bay? Won’t that make a big splash in the Atlantic Ocean, one so big it’ll bounce all over the world?”

“No bomb could be that big,” said Abdullah.

“Dude, it’s antimatter,” said Ron. “E equals M C squared, and we’re not talking a tiny percentage like a hydrogen bomb. All the mass goes boom. How big a crater you wanna blow? You can probably do it.”

“Boom!” squeaked Rufus, spreading his front paws.

“Is he right?” Abdullah asked Mekong.

“In theory, perhaps, though heating so large an encapsulation evenly and quickly enough to get a total explosion would take some engineering. This was never my objective. The strength of a hydrogen bomb small enough to be carried in a martyr’s pocket, a few of these would destroy America without hurting anything else.”

Kim rolled her eyes and shook her head. “So not gonna happen. Felix, how’s your power?”

“At least twice what I need to get to Lake Tumakoi.”

“Good. Bring the plane.”

Felix worked the controls on the arm of his wheelchair, the wheels flipped up, the hover jets fired, and he rose into the air and moved away.

Kim pulled her kimmunicator out and called Wade. “Technical question,” she said. “I have 22 terrorists in Borneo I need to get to American custody ASAP. How many can I pack in my jet at once?”

“I’d prioritize and make two trips,” said Wade. “Wanna see if Baby Bear can arrange anything? There’s an American airbase in the Philippines.”

“Sure, see if you can get me Baby Bear.”

Kim put the kimmunicator back in her pocket and it immediately beeped, Dot dot dadot! She pressed the button and there was General “Baby Bear” Branson.

“Knockout! Hear you picked up some black hats.”

“I got Ali Abdullah, and I got his new boss, Dr. Mekong.”

“The Nobel prize nominee?”

“Didn’t know about that,” said Kim. “But did you know he’s the one who wrote the internet articles about encapsulated—”

“Whoa,” said Branson. “Just call it Z-12 how-to.”

“Well, instead of stealing it, Mekong was gonna use this particle accelerator to make his own Z-12, small enough to be carried in a martyr’s pocket, to use his own phrase.”

“A particle accelerator in Borneo? We thought that was just a black hat fitness camp. Let the diplomats sort out what to do about this after we collect the black hats. How many all together?”

“Twenty two. Got them all alive and for the most part in good condition.”

“You need help hauling?”

“Would be nice. Can you do it?”

“Not officially. I’ll have someone meet you in about 45 minutes.”

About half an hour later, Kim’s plane landed at the airstrip. Felix popped the cockpit, and rose straight into the air on his chair’s jets and settled down in front of Kim and Ron. “You want to start loading them up?” he asked them.

“Carrier jets should be here in fifteen,” Kim replied. “See what they want to do.”

“This is what you want to see,” Monique told Belinda as they stepped onto the grass, “bad guys cuffed, good guys smiling and gossiping ’bout the bust, no overlooked details. Getting involved with Kim’s missions can get really scary.”

“What did you do?” Belinda asked.

“Looks like I arranged for all these Borneo guys to show up. There’s Wikiwaki, and Kibakauwa. Don’t see Limau, or any of the women, actually. Guess they stayed home.”

Belinda looked around at the native warriors, wearing feathers, paint, and pointy gourds. “It’s like a dream from another time,” she said.

Kim turned to them. “Hey, Monique, Belinda,” she said. “Thanks so much for all your help. I couldn’t have pulled this one off without you.”

“Hey, it was fine,” Monique replied. “Limau and Wiki were kinda fun, and the food wasn’t half bad.”

“You ate the food?” Ron asked with shock.

Rufus scowled, stuck out his tongue, and said, “Yuck!”

“It was rice, tofu, mushrooms, and pepper sauce. What’s wrong with that?”

“Oh, well, that doesn’t sound too bad, at least with a little diablo sauce. You sure there weren’t any beetle grubs?”

Before long, a couple of carrier jets unofficially landed beside Kim’s jet on the airstrip and off-the-record personnel took away all 22 captives. “We’ll put ’em up in the luxury suites, Ma’am,” Lieutenant What’s-his-name told Kim.

“Couple of these guys broke out of the luxury suites in China,” she replied. “And we don’t want that happening again.”

“How’d they do that?”

“Don’t know,” said Kim.

Ali Abdullah smiled at her, a smile more menacing than any frown, but didn’t say anything.

“Now we want to know, what happens to this house?” Chief Kibakauwa asked Kim, pointing to the accelerator facility. “As long as it’s here, some strangers will use it.”

“You’re right,” said Kim. “But I don’t want to detonate the cold fusion reactor— that’d blow off the whole mountain top.”

“Get creative,” said Ron. “Infect the computers with viruses, switch the wires around, leave the doors open and let the bats and monkeys come in.”

Kim smiled at her husband. “Hmm.” She pressed a button on the kimmunicator. “Wade, I want to sabotage this facility so it’s not obviously sabotaged, can’t easily be repaired, but won’t just blow up in a fireball of nasty fumes and molten metal.”

“Sure. Here’s what you need to do—”

Back at Northwestern State University, Kim and Ron were talking to Dr. Hurlbetter and Belinda in his office.

“The new adjustments helped, but the real secret to using it the way you originally wanted to use it is learning how to use it,” said Kim. “When we first started, our minds wandered back and forth through a lifetime of shared experiences. We couldn’t tell where we really were in time, or what was real. But if Ron and I know what we want to do with the machine, we can do it now, and know the difference between simulation and the real thing.”

“At least after we come out,” said Ron.

“What we can’t do is become complacent. This time we just used the machine to find who our enemies were and what their basic plan was. Then I just did what I would’ve done if I’d got the same info from Wade.”

“Kim and I figure, even if we run a sim for a daring plan and it works perfectly, something could change, and it might not work so well in real life.”

“But you are gathering true information from potential experiences,” said Dr. Hurlbetter.

“What we’ve done is awakened Kim’s and Ron’s psychic and prophetic abilities,” said Belinda. “These are abilities in the human mind that the ancients knew how to use.”

“It’s weird, but sometimes I know when I’m dreaming,” said Ron. “That didn’t used to happen.”

“And sometimes we even share the same dream,” said Kim.

“Your minds connect, without the machine,” Dr. Hurlbetter said.

Belinda gave him a told-you-so smile.

“We’ve shared dreams like that occasionally before, but now, what, once or twice a week?” Kim said.

“Something like that,” Ron agreed.

“The humanist in me says fine, go with Belinda’s hypothesis, but the scientist says, hey, we seem to be proving there’s some real physical basis for a violation of causality. The next question is, can anyone do it, or are our very special subjects, well, just special? They were already exceptionally attuned to each other, and Kim can anticipate laser blasts or gunfire.”

“Monique told me about Yvonne,” said Kim. “She had a future memory about a motorcycle accident which freaked her so much, she sold her bike.”

Belinda looked upset. “Why didn’t tell me that? She’s— sorta like me, you know, sensitive, if not actually psychic. She’s avoiding me, isn’t she?”

“She got scared and you’re kind of intense,” said Ron. “You’re cool, don’t get me wrong, but—”

Belinda sighed and hung her head. “I can’t help it,” she said.

“It’s okay,” said Kim, touching Belinda’s shoulder, and somehow this touch became a hug.

“Did I say something wrong?” asked Ron. “I’m sorry.”

Belinda rubbed the tears from her eyes. “Yvonne and I were so close, and now— I don’t like getting separated from a friend when the karma’s incomplete.”

“Let’s pretend I don’t know what that means,” said Ron.

Belinda turned to him. “I believe— and I’m not the only one who believes this— that people come together for a reason, to learn from each other, to increase the total amount of intelligence and love in the universe, and— maybe it’s complete between Yvonne and me, after all, but letting go can be hard—”

“I think it’s time we used this machine for the purpose you originally intended,” Kim told Dr. Hurlbetter. “It’s portable now. Let’s take it to someone who’s in a coma, and see if I can wake them up.”

“You haven’t done this at all with anyone besides Ron,” said Dr. Hurlbetter.

“Yes, and it’s not the kind of intimacy I really want to share with anyone else, unless I can save their life this way. Find me someone in a coma.”

“I really doubt that you’re ready for a responsibility like this.”

“Once I figure out how to do it, I can train you,” said Kim.


“Doc, I think she’s ready,” said Ron.

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