Rated M for Kim and Ron’s amorous behavior.
Kim Possible, Ron Stoppable, Rufus, Wade Lode, Mr. and Mrs. Dr. Possible, Jim and Tim Possible, Monique, Hope, and Dr. Betty Director are characters from the Kim Possible show, created by Mark McCorkle and Bob Schooley, owned and copyright © by the Walt Disney Company. This story © 2009 by cloudmonet. Chapter 5 of 10.
One of the men guided Kim and Ron to the real trail, which wasn’t exactly the way they had stumbled into the village. Kim turned the kimmunicator to illuminate the ground.
“So, you don’t have a working flashlight, or night-vision goggles?” Wade asked. “Well, this should help,” he said, aiming one of his web cams at the bulb of his desk lamp. The kimmunicator screen now emitted a strong beam of light, showing a cleared path about four feet wide.
“So far, so good, but this really is darkest Africa, at least tonight,” said Ron.
“We pretty much killed our flashlight batteries,” said Kim. “The light still comes on, weakly, but it fades pretty fast.”
“I should whip you up a light with a trilithium powerpack,” said Wade. “But for now this is working out. The path shows pretty clear on my monitor.”
“This won’t kill my kimmunicator battery, will it?”
“Let’s see,” Wade said, typing some unix commands. “Your powerpack is charged about 84.7 percent. It should last at least three months, even using it this way. At ordinary screen brightness, you’ve got eight months worth of power. Ron’s cell phone, which seems to be back in your tent, is charged about 69.3 percent. It’ll last about two months before needing a recharge.”
Every now and then, Kim would stop in response to some rustle or other sound, and shine the light around the trees. Most of the noises led her light to the shining eyes of some small mammal on a branch, but one loud noise proved to be some kind of long-legged spotted cat, smaller than a leopard or cheetah, which quickly leaped out of sight.
The drizzle stopped and started again several times before they reached the road. Soon they came out from under most of the trees, and could see the dim shape of the landscape by cloud-covered moonlight. They saw a light ahead on the road, possibly lights at the camp, but possibly lights of a vehicle coming toward them.
“Kill the light, Wade,” Kim said. “I don’t know what this is.” She turned the kimmunicator over, and dimmed Wade’s image on the screen.
“Turn me around. Let me see it.”
“I hear a motor running,” Kim whispered.
“I’m enhancing,” Wade said quietly. “Looks like a vintage 1990s Suburu Outback, probably white or gray. Not army guys, but I’d say it’s best of you’re not seen by anyone.”
Kim and Ron hid behind a bush and waited for the Suburu to pass them by. It seemed to take forever for it to get there, and another forever for the red tail lights to disappear over a ridge.
After a bit of walking, they again dashed for the side of the road on hearing a whish-slurp, whish-slurp noise, which proved to be bicycles hurrying down the muddy road. The riders didn’t stop, didn’t look to the side, paid no attention to Kim and Ron.
Awhile later, four more cyclists passed them by, then a motorcycle, and a really rickety truck.
“I think these dudes are running away,” Ron whispered. “If we hide from every light, we’ll never get back.”
“The next headlights could be someone chasing them,” said Kim.
“Let’s check what’s happening at the airport,” said Ron.
“Good idea,” said Kim. “You still got it, Wade?”
“Yeah, I’m locked onto this feed,” he said.
The kimmunicator screen showed most of the soldiers now asleep, some of them stretched out on the floor, some slumped on the flight gate seats.
“Let’s worry when they get up and move out,” said Ron.
Kim and Ron found Hans on guard, with Maria, when they finally got back to camp a few hours before dawn. Dieter was sleeping in the tent he shared with Hans.
“It’s been like t’iss for hours,” Hans said. “We heard drums, here, there, just like a jungle movie, t’en t’e cars and bicycles started going down t’e road. I reported t'iss to t’e UN. Dieter and I are very goot shot, but I t’ink we gonna need some help.”
“General Matombe and his troops took over the airport,” said Kim. “Hey, Wade, did you record that camera feed from earlier?”
“Could you show Hans and Maria the casualties, and the general’s speech? This happened just before the drums,” Kim explained.
Maria watched the video in horror.
Hans tried to appear calm, but his worry was obvious to Ron.
“So news of t’iss makes everybody run?” Hans asked. “Guess I gotta make anot’er report.”
“I can stream this video to your commander,” said Wade.
“At t’iss point I’m reporting to New York.”
“Let’s do this then,” Wade said, his voice coming from Hans’ satellite radio.
On the kimmunicator he said, “You and Ron better get some sleep while you can,” and signed off.
“Yeah, let’s go,” Kim said wearily.
“Goodnight,” said Ron.
“Goodnight, and may God bless you both,” said Maria.
In the tent, Kim and Ron yanked off all their wet clothes, Ron put on dry boxer shorts, and they crawled between the sleeping bags to warm themselves.
“Just hold me, Ron,” Kim whispered, snuggling into his arms, “Tell me, was any decision I made about this whole horrible mess a good decision? Everything we do just makes it worse.”
“Maybe not everything,” Ron said.
“The villagers were getting food,” Kim said, “the rebels were also getting food, the general was getting rich, Brigetta was getting cheap thrills, and everyone involved was fairly happy. Now nobody’s gonna get any food at all, at least here, not for awhile, Mr. Tully’s a paranoid wreck, and who knows what this crazy General Matombe’s gonna do next?”
“Our big mistake was exposing Brigetta. We trusted the UN, and they got blindsided by Matombe.”
“Doing anything about the looted food was a big mistake, but that was the problem I was brought here to solve.”
“Well, making friends with Nanahno and Iko and the other villagers was a good thing.”
“We’ll probably never see her again,” said Kim.
“Hey, maybe some day she’ll give us a ride,” said Ron.
“If I was a real hero, I’d just go to Kitanga and take him out!”
“But what have we got here? A grappling hook gun, some kissy girl knockout gas, a laser lipstick, a kimmunicator, your cell phone, maybe two plasma rifles if we roll Hans and Dieter, and I suppose we could even hijack a vehicle. Getting more than a little villainous sounding, isn’t it? But even if we got the plasma rifles and a car— or heck, even if Hans and Dieter offered to fight with us, I can’t see how we pull it off. Wade’s hacked one camera inside the airport, but there’s lots it doesn’t show. Just the soldiers we can see are way too many.”
“Would you kill him if you could?”
Kim sighed. “I don’t want to become an assassin. That’s why I don’t want to join the special forces or Global Justice. But trying to take him alive moves the problem from just impossible to light years beyond impossible. A real hero would just kill him in this sitch. Of course, then his loyal soldiers would try to take me out, and probably succeed.”
“That’s crazy talk,” said Ron. “That’s how the suicide bombers think.”
“Yeah, I guess, kinda—”
“Probably Matombe’s just trying to stay alive and out of prison. That makes him desperate, unpredictable, and dangerous, but not necessarily totally evil. Though I’d be the first to say he looks like the worst kind of bad road.”
“You know, if we had something like— and I think I saw something like this on a show about non-lethal weapons for SWAT teams— how about a canister of foam you could shoot into a building like the airport terminal, that would fill all the space with sticky foam. Anybody in there could still breathe, but they’d be stuck, and unable to see or shoot. You could just cut ’em out, cuff ’em, and haul ’em away. Be great for this sitch, and useful against terrorists too.”
“Well, we don’t have anything like that. Nor do we have neural compliance chips, brainwashing shampoo, sneezing powder, or ninja smoke pellets, all of which might conceivably be useful, somehow or other.”
“We’d better get some sleep.”
“Okay,” Kim whispered, turning in Ron’s arms. “Kiss me goodnight,” she said, moving her lips to his.
Both this most recent discussion, and Ron’s own bad dreams, had him enough on edge that he snapped awake the instant Kim moved out of his arms. Gloomy daylight filled the tent, and it was raining hard. Kim was adjusting the straps over her shoulders.
“Morning, Kim,” said Ron.
She scooped her arms around his bare shoulders and kissed him.
“Are we getting up?” he asked.
“I think I heard the breakfast clang.”
“The storm’s gonna be over in a couple hours,” said Ron. “It always is. Why don’t they just wait? We’re gonna just get soaked all over again.”
“It could ease up in a few minutes, and we could run to the tarp,” said Kim. “I’m putting on dry clothes, and hoping for the best.”
“Sure, okay,” said Ron, and Kim giggled. “What?” he asked.
“You put your boxers on inside-out,” said Kim. “No big. It was dark.”
“I hear an engine running. Wonder what that means?”
“Maybe we’d better ask Wade,” Kim said, reaching for the kimmunicator.
Ron quickly pulled on his cargo shorts and T-shirt. Kim was already dressed, except for socks and shoes.
Wade seemed to be in the middle of a lecture about how to make explosive jelly bombs with gasoline, pancake flour, and other common kitchen ingredients.
“Oh, hey Kim,” said Wade. “Come join us in the boys’ tent. We’re planning tactics and strategy.”
“Sounds like fun,” said Ron. “See, I told you we didn’t have to worry.”
“When did you say that?” Kim asked, handing him the kimmunicator while she pulled on her socks and hiking shoes.
“It’s better to prepare than to worry,” Wade said.
“I can’t believe you went and did that!” Luther Tully said angrily, when Kim and Ron walked into the boys’ tent. Nearly everybody was sitting on the beds near one end, watching Wade on the screen of Mr. Tully’s laptop, which was plugged into the battery of Hans and Dieter’s Range Rover.
“Went and did what?” Kim asked.
“You turned Maria against me. You left the camp. You—”
“You shut up!” Dieter said firmly. “T'iss camp is under our protection and we all gotta do what we gotta do. T’e last t’ing we want is Matombe taking forty young American hostages.”
“I left the camp last night to warn the villagers,” said Kim. “Any good Christian should want them to be warned, or did you forget the golden rule? As for Maria, I don’t know what’s up with that.”
“What’s up is Mr. Tully got us into a mess he can’t get us out of,” Maria said. “This isn’t a preacher’s problem now. It’s a soldier’s problem.”
“You’re right, I made this mess,” said Mr. Tully. “I’m the one who became Matombe’s enemy. So I’m the one who should fix it. If I give myself to him and make the UN stay out of this dispute, which they never wanted in the first place, he won’t have any reason to bother you-all. Maria can take my place, the trucks will come back, the villagers will come back, and this good work can go on in Jesus’ name without me. Eventually he’ll let me go. I call him Dabel. He calls me Luther. This was all a misunderstanding. I can say I didn’t know I was doing him wrong.”
“That’s all lies, reverend,” said Maria. “He won’t believe that. You’ll just get yourself killed for nothing.”
“Dabel’s not a hostage-taking coward. I know him. You think you can fight a trained army with some crazy kitchen-cupboard terrorism?”
“If we fight, even if he wins, he’ll respect us more than if we just let him take us,” Maria argued. “I grew up in a rough neighborhood. I know how the bad guys think.”
“You think Matombe doesn’t take hostages?” Wade interrupted, putting the feed from the airport corridor onscreen. “Looks to me like he’s taking some right now!”
The view showed soldiers in pairs muscling some women toward and under the camera, like cops arresting uncooperative suspects.
“Well, okay, I guess I’m wrong,” Mr. Tully admitted.
“They’re all young women,” Maria said angrily. “They know they’re gonna get raped, beat up, and raped again. That’s what’s going down in there.”
“That’s gonna happen to us if we don’t stick to business and get ready,” said Ruthanne. “Let’s get back to the bomb-cooking recipe, Wade.”
“Okay, but first, Kim, Ron, I need you to help create a perimeter. There’s a logging camp a couple miles up a side road. Take Mr. Tully’s land rover, and a couple of other volunteers and go over there and get what you can. There should be some big earth-moving, tree-falling equipment there, and maybe a big propane tank.”
“Keys, please?” Kim asked Mr. Tully with a smile.
“You gonna use the bulldozer to dig up the road? That makes some sense,” he said, handing Kim the keys.
“Something like that,” she replied. “Bones? Marcia? Ellen? You wanna stay here and cook bombs, or come with me and Ron and have some real fun?”
Moments later, Kim slipped into the Toyota Land Cruiser’s driver’s seat, Ron sat beside her, and Bones, Marcia, and Ellen. Kim stuck the key in and started the engine.
“I don’t know exactly what we’re gonna find at the logging camp,” said Kim. “Wade can’t see cold vehicles through the rainclouds, but I don’t doubt there’s heavy equipment there of some kind. We’re just gonna rip off everything we can find that might be any use to us. If that means several vehicles, we need several drivers.”
“Got it,” said Bones.
The road was even more lumpy and sloppy than last time. Kim found herself fighting the wheel, spinning the tires, and skidding one way or another more than once. Ron held the kimmunicator, which tracked their GPS position on a detailed terrain map.
The side road was in slightly better shape at first, probably from having less traffic. Then there started being ditches, sending water across the road. One of them was three feet wide and two feet deep. The rain had stopped, but it was still half filled with water.
“I can’t see driving across this very easily,” said Kim. “I guess no one’s been in and out since the rains started two weeks ago.”
“Looks like less than half a mile to go,” Ron said, looking at the kimmunicator map. “I guess we can walk.”
Wade’s face appeared on the screen. “What’s happening?” he asked.
“Pretty nasty ditch,” said Ron.
“Bigger than the spare tires?” Wade asked. “Just use one of them. You can get across with three tires touching ground.”
Ron got out, walked to the back, and unfastened one of the two spares. He wedged it in the ditch, just in line with the driver’s side tire. “Okay, everybody out but Kim.”
The land cruiser made it over the ditch okay, but now the spare tire was firmly stuck.
“Let’s just pull it out with the truck,” Kim said.
Ron and Bones pulled the cable from the rear winch, and hooked it on the tire rim. Kim spun the tires, with everyone well clear of the truck but Ron, who watched to make sure this was working. He worked the tire iron carefully between the spare tire’s rubber and the mud, leaned on it, and then the tire snapped free.
Ellen, Marsha, Bones, and Ron climbed back in.
“You’re all muddy again,” Kim told Ron.
“I noticed that,” he replied. “Wait’ll I start running the dozer. Huh. I hope there is a dozer. It’d be a bummer if Wade’s wrong.”
Kim drove around the corner, and straight into the logging camp. It was deserted, just as Wade said it would be, with a couple of large yellow machines with earth scooping buckets, one with big tires, the other with treads.
“Let me see, let me see!” Wade said excitedly. “We got a medium sized grader and a big dozer, both Caterpillars. I’m pulling up the model numbers and complete schematics for both machines. Cool! The dozer’s got a bucket that flips front to back. That’ll be really handy. I see the grader’s got a nice backhoe. Look for any fuel tanks, gas cylinders, tools— a welding torch would be especially nice”
Kim and Ron climbed around on the bulldozer, Marsha and Ellen on the grader, looking for whatever tools they could find. Bones looked around the area for gas cylinders, but all he could find were empties, except a few small ones.
“That’s okay,” Wade told Kim. “We’re gonna use them to make weapons, that is, if we can weld.”
“Booyah!” exclaimed Ron, pulling a plastic carrying case from one of the dozer cab’s storage compartments. “12 volt electric arc welder with welder’s helmet.”
“I guess we’re good, then,” Wade said, and resumed giving instructions to the people back at the aid distribution camp.
Ellen found another arc welding kit in the grader, and both machines had plenty of wrenches, screwdrivers, and the like. They loaded the gas cylinders in the back seat of the land cruiser, tied them down, and left in single file with Kim driving the grader with Bones, Ellen driving the land cruiser, and Ron the bulldozer with Marsha. Kim used her blade to fill the deep ditch with earth scooped off the road, Ellen drove across, followed by Ron on his treads, who raised his bucket overhead and plowed the ditch deeper than it had been before, while Marsha watched the treads to make sure Ron didn’t get himself stuck.
When they reached the main road, Wade guided Ron to one spot, and Kim to another on another side road, and had them block the road with ditches and mounds. Kim had Bones ask Wade if the troops couldn’t just get another bulldozer in town to undo all this.
“Yeah, but it’ll delay them,” he replied. “They aren’t expecting this. Of course, this won’t stop them from coming on foot.”
By the time Kim and Ron returned to camp, after digging multiple ditches across every road that could be used to approach the aid distribution camp from any direction, all of them out of sight of the camp itself, the people at the camp had cut and welded the gas cylinders into two fifteen-foot long cannon barrels, and were making projectiles from the cylinder caps.
Again and again Wade stressed the importance of precision. “We won’t have any ammunition to waste. We have to make every shot count. And now, we have a bulldozer and a grader. What we’re going to do is cut metal from the grader to armor the dozer. In effect, we’re going to build a tank. So we’ll be one up on General Matombe. At least so far, he doesn’t have any tanks, and Central Congo troops under civilian oversight have blockaded the west, southwest, and north roads into Kitanga, so it doesn’t look like he’s gonna get any tanks any time soon, if ever. He’s either gotta dig in, or move east, which you just made more difficult. Either way, your potential value as hostages is higher than ever.”
Wade loaded a series of precise engineering drawings into Mr. Tully’s laptop. Hans started the engine of the range rover and ran it for a few minutes to run the printer, then shut it off again.
Now that the weather was clear, Wade had a much clearer view of the airport and the rest of Kitanga. There were 123 troop carriers parked on the runway, and eight others prowling the streets. Gangs of soldiers were going house to house, looting and occasionally taking prisoners.
Monique called Kim about an hour before sunset. A lot of Wade’s pictures, both from inside and above the airport, were getting shown on the Satellite News Network. It was early morning in Middleton, and Monique was watching the news with her mom before going to work.
“Kitanga! That’s where you are!” Monique exclaimed. “Can’t you do something about these sisters getting raped and these homes getting plundered?”
“Monique, there’s about a thousand armed soldiers here.”
“Didn’t you take out a whole army of evil robots and stop an alien invasion? You mean to say you can’t handle a petty third world general whose troops are armed with nothing better than bullets and grenades?”
“Yeah, about that,” said Kim. “Human soldiers can’t be turned off or reprogrammed like robots, and I can’t deflect bullets with a little mirror the way I can deflect a laser blast— not that it’s that easy to deflect laser blasts. So cut me some slack here, we’re working on it.”
“Looks like you’re eating stew and mashed potatoes.”
Ron snatched the kimmunicator. “Chill, Monique,” he said. “We’re all working hard here. Kim and I may be eating dinner at the moment with Bones, Marsha, and Ellen, but other folks are busy cutting and welding, and that’s all I’m gonna say about it. Don’t bug us about stuff in the middle of a mission unless you can tell us something about the enemy we don’t know, ’kay?” Ron gave the kimmunicator back to Kim.
“I wouldn’t have put it quite so bluntly, but Ron has a point. Anyway, our first duty here is to help Hans and Dieter protect all these volunteers.” Kim aimed the kimmunicator’s camera at some of the others eating dinner. “We can’t let General Matombe take these kids as hostages.”
“We’re all gonna fight!” said Ellen, raising her right fist.
“Yeah!” shouted many of the others.
The cutting and welding continued all night long, with people working in shifts. Kim and Ron played no part in this. Maria intercepted then when they were about to get cups of strong coffee, and told them to go to bed. “You got, what, two hours’ sleep last night? We need you and Ron in the best condition you can be in, and Hans and Dieter too.”
“You’re probably right,” said Kim. “I’m just bugged by what Monique said.”
“Maria is right,” Ron said. “We’ve done plenty, today, last night, yesterday.”
“Even Wade’s napping,” Maria said.
“Who’s watching the airport cam and the satellites?” asked Kim.
“Uh, me. I’ve been pulling them up on the laptop at least every half hour. I’m also monitoring SNN. Matombe’s men have set up their own roadblocks, but they don’t have Kitanga sealed up tight yet. People are getting away on foot, on some of the canefield trails, and in little boats. I wish SNN wouldn’t show so much of this stuff. You know Matombe’s got people watching SNN. All the third-world dictators and generals do this.”
“Sounds like you got it covered,” said Ron.
“Sleep while you can, cause the moment anything happens, we’ll wake up you and everybody else.”
“Where’s Mr. Tully?” Kim asked.
“In his trailer, probably still sulking,” Maria replied. “Ruthanne and Stephen are with him, trying to talk him into being more useful.”
So Kim and Ron went to their tent. They intended to sleep in their clothes, so they’d be instantly ready for any alarm, but in the hot tent they compromised and took off just their shirts. Almost immediately they both sank into deep sleep.
Ron was having an uncomfortable dream about being trapped in an underground maze with a demonic Monkey Fist chasing after him, when he felt someone grab him by the shoulders, and heard Kim’s voice, saying, “Ron, wake up!”
“Aaaagh!” he cried. His eyes snapped open to a fully-dressed Kim in the moonlit tent. He grabbed his T-shirt and put it on. “Okay, okay, what’s happening?” he asked.
Rufus, who’d been sleeping on this shirt, chittered with annoyance. Ron picked him up and put him in his cargo shorts pocket.
“Didn’t you hear it? I think we just got buzzed by a low-flying jet!” Kim said, unzipping the tent door.
Dot dot da-dot!
Kim pulled the kimmunicator from her cargo shorts pocket. “The drop landed outside the fence,” said Wade. “Make sure you get it. I’ll guide you.”
“What’s up?” asked Marsha, who was standing outside her tent with Bones.
“The plane dropped something. We have to pick it up,” said Kim.
“Yeah, get as much help as you can,” said Wade.
Celia and one of the Marks were at the laptop, relaying questions to Wade from the people presently welding armor onto the bulldozer-tank. He sent them to the boys’ and girls’ tents to get people quickly.