A/N: A shout out to my reviewers CajunBear73, Bobtrumpet, and HokageOrochimaru23. I appreciate your time and words. Shout out to the rest who do read this and keep up to date! Gotta keep it short. But here's the next chapter.


Chapter 5 The Battle of Heard Island

I.

A roar.

Jet engines roared.

Then silence.

Darkness.

Piercing light, tried to break through Kim's eyelids. The roar of the engines came back as a quiet hum. When Kim tried to look around she found herself restrained.

Faint voices echoed through her ears, or rather, maybe they were Ron's ears, but she couldn't make out coherent words. She deduced that Ron was asleep, and Wade had jumped her in too early, or just before the battle.

Then, the emulator generated a memory, or rather, a dream of a memory, that Kim remembered fondly. Even more astonishing, she saw the memory through Ron's own eyes, his own recollection. She saw herself through his lense.

Playing out through Ron's mind, the memory moved less like a film and more like a watercolor painting come to life. A gentle, elegant flow in slow motion.

Kim took Ron to a pasture atop a hill so they could overlook the countryside near the end of the summer, a couple months after the Lorwardian invasion. She wore the deep blue sundress to try something new and aesthetic, and to impress Ron.

"Ron! Ron! Ron?"

Kim watched as the dreamlike memory dissipated, replaced with a cold steel floor, and a fully kitted rifle. The voice that gained Ron's attention was Shego, who sat shoulder to shoulder with him.

To Kim's surprise, Shego made a remark after she asked if he was alright.

"You were thinking about her again, weren't you?" She asked.

Again?

Kim may not have a body, but she could still feel the rush of butterflies assault her, or Ron rather. Wherever it was. Ron thought about her all this time.

I mean, of course he did. He told you. But for Kim, now it was confirmed. But playful remarks were silenced as Ron's body tensed, his thoughts focused on the mission as he checked over his weapon and stared across the bay to another soldier that Kim recognized.

So that's Collins.

The plane shook and took Kim by surprise. The fact she not only observed, but felt the events were all so surreal.

Captain Webber burst into the bay of the plane with what Kim recognized as the pilots and started shouting directives. Kim remembered the weight of the mission that was given to the 710th ODA and all the other forces from around the world.

Bryer stood up. "We're coming under attack! Everyone up and prepare to jump! One minute!" The whole team stood, as did what Kim recognized as Spetsnaz, at the tail of the plane. Now she saw which team Ron was partnered with.

Shego and Ron the pilots under their care as they strapped them to themselves. Kim smiled at how much care Ron took with helping the pilot, unlike Shego, who Kim noted was crude and rough in her methods.

The plane shook and yawned. Outside, even Kim could hear the explosion of flak and the scream of jets filling the skies. The rear of the plane opened up and the Russian soldiers jumped out, quickly followed by members of the 710th.

Ron, Shego, and Bryer seemed to be last as Collins, Ron's other best friend, leaped out.

Then, the eerie sound of metal popping and snapping stopped them. Kim soul shivered as Ron's skin ran cold as his view slowly snapped around.

Kim would wretch if she could. It was a member she had read about, the deceased warrant officer. Here, he was barely alive, a shell ripped through him from his thigh and out of his shoulder.

Webber and Bryer grabbed him as his blood gushed onto the floor. Webber turned to Ron and Shego and thrust his finger in the door's direction.

"Go! Go! Go!"

Don't go. But you have to, don't you? Kim wanted to stop Ron, but there was no choice. The virtual machine strapped Kim's mind to Ron's and she was in for the ride and she would feel everything.

Ron's steeled resolve and his conflicting anxiousness pushed him out after Shego.

Finally, Kim got to witness the icy hellscape that would forever change Ron. Flak burst in puffs of black smoke and triple-A rounds broke through the icy air. An American fighter jet zipped through the skies below, chased by aggravated drones.

Ron turned back only to witness a crimson beam slice through the transport plane before it burst into a tumbling fireball. Ron turned too quick for Kim to scan for the others.

Ron resumed his focus on the plunge to the remote island below. As the battle for the skies unfolded around them. Kim watched in awe. Below, cruise missiles slammed into lasers from the island, exploding over the rough, glacier covered volcano.

But even Kim knew these were only a few of the hundreds that were fired. Kim remembered the details of the battle plan. Hundreds of missiles. And just as they predicted, the laser defense system prevented all the cruise missiles from hitting their targets. If they got through, so be it. But in reality, the cruise missiles were a distraction so the strike force had a chance.

But Kim saw that Ron dealt with more pressing matters. Hot, fiery orange rounds ripped through the air around them like angry hornets. Whoever Gemini hired to protect him, meant business to kill Ron and his compatriots.

Ron tensed.

Kim saw and tensed herself.

A stream of rounds arced toward them and Kim swore a few rounds found their mark, many more whizzing so close to Ron's skin, that the chilling air lit ablaze for a moment. Even Ron seemed worried, but after feeling no pain, thought he encountered a near miss.

He continued to fall, until the last possible moment, only pulling the chord to his chute when he was about five hundred feet off the ground. He glided the rest of the way to the snowy wasteland and crashed into the ground.

By miracles of miracles, Ron avoided machine gunfire emanating from the slopes of the volcano as metal pelted the ground around him. His troubles didn't end there, as the fighting intensified. He struggled to get up. Explosions burst behind and in front of him. Mortars or artillery by Kim's guess, and bullets flooded the air over Ron's head as he clawed against the snow and rock.

Clamor burst into Ron's earpiece warning of the Lorwardian Quadropods who roamed the base of the volcano and shot sickly green beams of energy in the direction of the shore where the soldiers landed. Ron scrambled to his feet and turned the pilot over.

Now Kim understood why the bullets in the air had no effect on Ron. And the burning pain that coursed through Ron burned through her too. The pilot unintentionally became Ron's body armor.

Even though Ron's resolve swelled, Kim couldn't erase the churning in the pit of Ron's gut, contained only by the dry lump welled up in his throat. Her focus shifted as Ron's body strained as if lifting something far too heavy. She watched Ron gears using his powers to tear apart the quadropod as she experienced the fire and darkness in his heart for the first time.

It burned. Like Ron used something unnatural as fuel to use his power. She had no physical form here. Yet she felt it all as if she had one inside Ron.

The skies buzzed with firefights between American fighters and Gemini's drones. On the ground, tanks and infantry fighting vehicles rolled toward the between under the cover of more Quadropods.

This is why they didn't send her. And yet, she couldn't understand why she wasn't there. As Ron pivoted, Kim saw Shego and others under fire and he reacted.

At that moment, Kim pondered how Shego dealt with all of this. The talk at the café months ago enlightened Kim somewhat to her plight in the war and her friendship with Ron.

But was that friendship genuine?

And wasn't Shego connected to the emulator in the real world?

Within an instant, Kim snapped to Shego's point of view of the battle. Sheltered behind a jagged boulder, she sprayed short bursts of fire toward mind-controlled soldiers. Though Shego never agreed to let Kim observe her insight, Kim couldn't help it.

Every fire that broiled in Ron's gut, blazed in the pit of Shego's as she unloaded onto what Kim recognized as US Marines. But why?

Then Kim remembered in the briefing all that time ago, command reported that Gemini hijacked thousands and thousands of troops across the globe, and that a Marine Expeditionary Force, happened to be the unit he used to protect his island fortress.

For Shego, Kim could tell that mowing down fellow marines didn't have the effect that Gemini most likely hoped it would. The 710th ODA had a resolve Kim understood, saving the world. All of these soldiers trained to follow through no matter the damage done to them. Be it physically… or psychologically.

But Shego, for her something else added to her resistance, and Kim felt it. An emotion that was unbalanced. Passionate and hollow at the same time. Shego cared very little, if at all for the marines and maintained an overwhelming blaze in her heart to protect those she cared about, her team. With Collins behind her and Ron to her flank, and Ramos on her other side, all she concerned herself with was their lives.

The marines, though mindless slaves to Gemini's whims, still seemed to maintain their discipline and recognized the threat. A group charged Shego's position, guns blazing.

Shego shouted as she took aim and fired. Even with precise hit after hit against the marines, whatever Gemini used to keep them in line, kept them going as they continued their assault.

"Shego!" As she responded to the quick pat on her leg, Kim recognized Collins who knelt down beside her and pointed to their right flank.

With Shego's eyes drawn to the right, Kim witnessed Ron charging the marines flank, only to he tackled to the icy floor by an enraged marine. Anxiety plummeted both her and Shego's heart, even if Kim knew the outcome. But Shego was helpless to aid him as more bullets pelted the boulder in front of her.

But the experience affirmed one crucial element for Kim. Shego truly cared about Ron. Not in a way where Kim had to fear Ron coming under the influence of any affection, or a duplicitous relationship that sought Ron's power, but an overwhelming sense of friendship and camaraderie, almost tunneling in on his dilemma as she slowly advanced through the carnage toward the chaos.

This is what Kim needed to finally, and fully trust Shego and a small relieved smile spread within her.

Kim snapped back to Ron who was now in a wrestling duel for his own weapon with the marine. So far, other than the dead Russian pilot and carnage in the transport, Ron managed to help his comrades with his mystical powers by dealing with the quadropod.

So Kim was puzzled by Ron's choice not to use overwhelming force with his powers. Instead, he chose the conventional route and used his personal weapons, and as a result ended up in this tussle. In that moment, Kim understood that Ron's emotion matched and conflicted with Shego's own.

His actions were spurred on by the overwhelming desire to protect friends that he cherished, and Shego was one of them. Unlike Shego's callousness toward the US Marines, Ron was apathetic to their plight. Even as his training and reflexes took over, Kim toiled at the conflict that tore at Ron's heart.

Inside himself, a younger version of Ron that Kim was far more familiar with struggled against a callous version of himself. One that refused any semblance of sensitivity that could be perceived as weakness. Where Shego transformed years before in her years as a villain, Ron just began his journey.

What seemed like a serious struggle, Kim recognized lasted mere seconds. The Marine's brute strength and determination couldn't match Ron's, even if he managed to keep a loose control on Ron's carbine. Even more, Ron's training far outstripped the Marine as he straddled his gut and maintained dominance.

Keeping one hand on the rifle so the marine couldn't fully turn it on Ron, Kim felt Ron clasp something in his right hand from his waist. Within a split second, Kim witnessed an action that instantly separated her from Ron.

Where as a tsunami of cool callousness and overwhelming silence washed over Ron, Kim's own mind spun as his combat knife wedged into the marine's neck. The gulf of experience between Kim and Ron grew to an immeasurable size that Kim couldn't contend with, nor that she wanted to. She understood why Ron didn't want her to.

They stood on separate shorelines, an ocean apart. Where Kim saved the world countless times, Ron crossed a threshold that Kim never had. As the blood drained from the Marine's face and onto the snow, Ron had taken a life.

As crimson liquid pooled in the ice beside the marine, Kim stared on the conflicting image reflected in the thick pool. Ron's eyes cold and distant and his face stonewalled, not a hint of emotion worn.

No anger. No enthusiasm. No sadness as he yanked back the knife back and slid it into its sheath and snatched back his rifle. Inside, Kim could only hear a thought of Ron's overwhelm any other in his mind.

"This is who you are now. He was right. You made the right choice. You're a monster. You're a complete soldier. You have nothing essential anymore holding you back. Only fellow comrades. You're a monster."

Kim curled as all of Ron's remaining emotions and his younger self melted away within him, consumed by a void of indifference.

Within a flash, A shadow overcame Ron and when Ron turned to the threat unphased, he stared down the barrel of a rifle, death in his eyes. Kim herself froze, but Ron grabbed the barrel and directed the bullets into the lifeless marine below him.

Before Ron could react offensively, Shego burst into Ron's vision. The muzzle of her gun embedded into the marine's chest, in between his plates. And just as in Ron's face, who remained stoic, Shego's transformed from her familiar venom filled features to stone-walled ice. Kim watched as her firearm went off and the marine slouched over after his innards liquefied.

This is what terrified Ron and to some extent, Shego herself. In this moment, Ron and Shego became exactly what Master Sergeant Myers and others had trained them for, to eliminate enemies and complete their objectives, regardless of the cost to themselves.

And as the platoon of droned-out marines charged, Ron and Shego acted on pure instinct and memorization of their skills. Their reactions so quick that each movement seemed natural as not one shot missed their mark.

I'm a monster. This is what we do. What I do.

Kim watched the horror show as Ron, Collins, Ramos, and Shego became an man army. When the bullets weren't sufficient to destroy an APC, Shego penetrated the armor with her green plasma, and Ron crushed it like an aluminum can with his mystical monkey powers. Collins mopped up whatever men were able to escape Shego and Ron's focus.

What made them scarier, they were all in sync without a word needed to be spoken. They all trusted each other's instincts without a second thought.

Where mere minutes ago, hell rained down upon the allied forces, the ODA team that consisted of Ron, Shego, Collins, and Ramos, shifted momentum on the battlefield and pushed back against Gemini's more numerous forces. This is what Ron didn't want Kim to know, what he had become.

"Terrifying isn't it, young Possible-san?" Kim wanted to snap around but couldn't because the system glued her to specific vantage points.

"Do not be afraid. Close your eyes and relax your mind and you'll release yourself from the systems chains." Kim followed the instructions, knowing better than to question the elderly voice.

Within moments, the pressure had been lifted off her chest and she opened her eyes. Kim stared as she realized she was now standing on the battlefield of Heard Island, not from Ron's eyes, but as if she actually stepped foot there.

A presence tugged on her shoulder and she snapped around. "Sensei?" Kim thought she recognized the voice, but didn't anticipate seeing his actual self. "What are you doing here?"

"Hmm. I'm trying to help young Stoppable-san. He's ignored my summons for months now. But my efforts have been in vain."

Kim didn't need to ask Sensei why he was trying to reach out to Ron. "So you know he's struggling too."

Sensei lowered his head. "Suffocating. He is suffocating. Greatly pained by this battle he is. And much more. This battle is the culmination of his journey."

Kim looked around at the devastation of a barren island. "I know. I've watched him lose himself for months now. And I don't know how to help."

"Do not question yourself. You are one of Ron's few roots left that ground him to his true self," Sensei said.

"Am I, though," Kim said back quickly. "I feel like I've been the opposite and… argh! It's so frustrating!"

Kim lifted her eyes to find Sensei standing in front of her. "I am deeply impressed by you Possible-san. You have blossomed from an eager seedling into a strong, resilient oak. Most could not handle the position you are in."

"You say Ron is suffocating… I feel like I'm drowning." Kim took her chance outside of Ron's body to observe Heard Island and the battlefield. The scene looked like something out of a science fiction movie with a twisted reality.

Sensei sighed. "I'm aware. But I have you to thank for convincing Ron into the state he's in now. By diving into this machine, his minds defenses have lowered and I can now communicate with him."

Kim turned to the old master. "What do you need to communicate?" Kim asked.

"To help him. Help him through the darkness," Sensei answered.

"You know how to help him?"

"I do. But to help him, I need you're help. And in order to help him, you need to understand him."

Kim shook her head. "I want to. More than you know, but he's shut me out too, Sensei." She looked over to the marine which Ron stuck his knife clean through his jugular, bled out in the icy waste. "Strangely enough, I know that guy as much as Ron does. He's one of the… demon's that haunts Ron's nightmares."

"Mmmm. But that young man is not the catalyst for young Stoppable-san's woes. If only I knew…" Sensei trailed off.

Kim noticed Sensei's disgruntled voice. "Wait. Why won't Ron talk to you? He looks up to you."

Sensei sighed. "I did not know Stoppable-san was on this mission. And by the time I realized what was transpiring, my help came too little too late."

Sensei turned away to the simulated cold Southern Ocean behind them. "If I had known that Stoppable-San had pursued this path, then I would have told him long ago. But that time has already past and he begrudges me for it."

"What… What did you do?" Kim asked.

"It is not what I did, Possible-san. It is what I didn't. And because of that, Ron has refused communication with me." Sensei turned back to Kim as the carnage that had slowed around them resumed and the battle for Heard Island continued. Sensei pointed at Ron, Shego, and the rest of their team as they advanced relentlessly through the chaos. "Follow Stoppable-san and he will reveal a great piece of who he is today."

II.

Tara and Wade sat back in their chairs, cups of coffee in hand as they monitored the screens above them. One screen displayed vitals and stress levels, while another the computers capacity.

Their attention however stayed mostly glued to the monitor that portrayed Ron and Shego's memories of the battle. Displayed like a video game in early production, the memory the mainframe presented was plain and basic, lines, dots, and triangles making up what they saw, like watching three dimensional stick figures and their surroundings.

"Are you recording all of this?" A voice asked from behind them.

When Wade and Tara turned, they found Betty Director had inserted herself between Sergeant Bryer and Captain Webber, with Jameson standing far behind her to the right.

Wade answered after taking a swig from his mug. "We are. But, what I can't understand is why you're in here?"

Betty Director watched the monitor with crossed arms. "The material being displayed on that monitor is classified information. I'm here to ensure it's sealed."

Tara crossed her arms. "Well… it is sealed. By law. This is medical treatment and as such is protected from prying eyes. Which are yours."

Betty smirked. "No. This is all sensitive information and therefore not only a national security, but a global security risk. Whatever authority you thought you had, Miss Strong, is based on strongly misinterpreted language of the law, which may I remind you, is now subservient to global law."

Tara narrowed her eyes before turning around in her seat, and leaned back with crossed arms of her own.

Wade noticed his peers frustration and decided to handle the director the best way he knew how. "I'm sure Stoppable wouldn't mind you watching. I mean, you are technically in command over his group. Not much he can say anyways right. It's not like everyone in here doesn't possess top secret credentials."

"Your point, Mr. Load?" Betty asked.

Wade turned around in his seat and took a long sip of his coffee. "I'm just saying."

Bryer smirked. "Team Possible must have really been something else back in the day."

The director rolled her eyes. "How are all of them doing inside the emulators?"

"They're vitals are fine. No rise in stress levels. And their brain waves are normal. Nothing out of the ordinary, director." Tara answered. "Before you ask, I'll explain what's on the monitor. What's populating on the screen is not actually where they are in the memory. There's a delay. It'll take roughly twelve hours for the memory to fully process into observable data, after they get out."

Betty frowned. "I see." She turned around and walked back to the exit. "Inform me when the data is complete. I want it sealed and in my hands."

When the sound of the door closing echoed through the room, Wade turned to Tara with a smirk. "It's best just to point out the obvious with her. Makes her lose interest faster."

"I'll jot that down." Wade turned to see Bryer with a smirk. "Don't worry Miss Strong. You ain't the only who doesn't like her."

"Just make sure they stay stable you two. This is all experimental. If any red flags pop up. I want them out. Are we clear?" Captain Webber leaned in between them.

"Of course, sir. They're our friends, not subjects," Tara replied.

III.

As the battle raged, Kim only found more despair amidst the violence that drowned out the icy landscape. If one described Heard Island as hell, then one obviously didn't know that Heard Island was worse.

With the icy waters at their back and Gemini's overwhelming forces holding a defensive line along the glaciers of Mawson Peak, the multinational force of special operatives had been halted from any further advance. After a brave charge, and what seemed like miles of fighting and running, only gained them a football field. Not much gain in the blood they spilled from their mind-captured brothers and sisters.

Time ticked away. Over twenty minutes of grueling conditions and combat subtracted itself from the twelve hour clock they received from command. Kim remembered all too well what weighed on every soldier's shoulders. With a little over eleven hours remaining until high command saturated the island with atomic fire.

Facing a stiff defensive line, and the pressure of time ticking away, it didn't help that supplies and ammo diminished at a high rate. With Gemini's forces well stocked and prepared and having the numerical edge, it was no wonder they bled through so much. Gemini's ranks also staffed tanks, something they had nothing of.

Kim watched to the right flank as the Russian and Chinese teams plundered weapons and ammo from the dead marines while staying low to the ground. Ron's team showed no shame in taking ammo from the dead either.

Kim shook her head in disbelief. Why would they be ashamed? This was war. And with eleven hours left on their clock to live, they needed every spare round to live that life out.

Sensei pointed out that it was through the Japanese, who had brought a telepathic esper, brokered communication between the differing languages barriers amongst the team.

A roar deafened the sky as all the soldiers hunkered beneath the berm of ice they had found refuge behind. One of Gemini's drones zipped overhead and back up into the sky, turning on a dime, and lined up with Ron and all his allies. Its aim was clear. Strafe them into oblivion. If it succeeded, the mission was over.

A Chinese soldier, along with Sergeant Ryder, aimed stingers at the drone and fired, only for their missiles to be avoided by the drones' flares and maneuverability. With no one ready to fire another anti-air weapon and the drone closing in, Kim found it hard to understand how they made it. Shego tried using her plasma, but her shots missed or skimmed the narrow silhouette as it came closer.

Like watching a movie and knowing the end, Kim's heart still raced as her protagonist was out of ideas against the current threat. How did Ron and Shego make it? If all the soldiers scattered, then the forces on the mountainside would open fire and pick them apart.

Ron's eyes answered her question. As he turned on his back and watched, almost astounded. The incoming roar alerted Kim's ears.

She followed his sight and found an American fighter jet roar toward them, low on the horizon. It must have been the last one. Kim remembered both sides cleared the skies within the first few minutes of the pitched battle. This pilot must have lured drones out over the icy seas and scored against every one.

And been the last survivor.

It was evident. It carried no missiles under its wings or fuselage. The cannon remained silent, its rounds obviously spent. What did it intend to do?

Trajectory and angle gave Kim the clue as she lined up the jet with the drone. Her prediction and sinking gut feeling panned out to the letter. The American throttled toward the drone, and, in an almost lucky score, collided with Gemini's last drone, flowering into a terrifying ball of fire that rained down on the opposing positions.

A pilot's last sacrifice provided the momentum the soldiers needed.

"STOPPABLE! NOW!" Bryer shouted.

Ron wasted no time and sprang up and raised his hands at the disoriented enemy line. But nothing happened. Though his hands glowed blue, nothing happened to the opposing forces. Before, Ron had crushed a vehicle and tossed a quadropod like they were everyday trash.

"I want protection on Stoppable at all costs! Anyone with abilities that can attack, do so!" Webber stood atop the berm and shouted orders bullets filled their air once again.

For the first time, Kim felt like she was watching a superhero movie. Shego used her green energy, focused through her rifle. Another soldier on the far left flank morphed the environment around them turning ice into super-charged and sharp projectiles. Why hadn't Webber issued the order earlier? She reminded herself to ask him when she came out of the simulation.

These were the talents that they usually kept hidden from the rest of the world, now used to fight Gemini's forces. Two soldiers rushed to Ron's defense. One produced a shield like effect that absorbed the bullets and shells while the other's power seemed more obscure.

"Sensei? Why aren't his powers working?" Kim asked. An uneasy churning unsettled her stomach as she stared at a fatigued Ron.

"You noticed?" Kim turned to him. The old master let out a sigh. "Stoppable-san is losing his ability to control the mystical monkey power."

"Why?" Kim turned back to Ron. She remembered him back when Global Justice confronted them at the church. Ron's hand glowed as it grasped Shego's. And just earlier he crushed an APC.

"Purpose. At this point, Ron has lost sight of himself and his purpose," Sensei answered.

Kim stared out as the small force struggled to gain the initiative that the American pilot's sacrifice had brought. "But he has purpose." Kim said remembering the thoughts that ran through Ron's mind.

"Hmm. Young Stoppable-san has doubted his powers ever since his departure from you. I don't know who planted the weed in Stoppable-san or if they understood the effects it would have on his powers, but at this stage in the battle it has worked. The mystical power should flow naturally to him, like a stream down a mountain and into the sea. Stoppable-san should be able to switch on the power like a light switch itself. On or off."

Kim looked back at Ron who strained himself to unleash the power within him. "But he's not." The longer Ron took, the more casualties his side took. Kim watched a Japanese soldier disappear in the face of a tank firing its main gun. Another Chinese and Russian soldier fell to the ground incapacitated by a spray of machine gun fire.

Just when the battle seemed dire, Ron managed to summon his power and lift many of enemy vehicles and tanks off ground. He struggled to maintain it for long, but just long enough to stun much of the enemy and give his allies the window they needed.

"What you just witnessed was young Stoppable-san forcing the power out. His source has been blocked. Purpose, will, and knowing one's true self drive this power. Without them, the power is nothing," Sensei explained.

But Kim didn't understand. Ron had a purpose for all of this. To protect her. To protect his fellow soldiers. "The sitch doesn't make sense. Ron told me there was purpose for joining the army. To protect me."

"Mmm. But to protect you from what, Possible-san?" Sensei asked. "And does his purpose truly align with his powers any longer?"

The battle resumed in full swing as Gemini deployed Drakken's old Diablo's confronting the task force. Kim thought. "I don't… I don't know."

Sensei nodded. "Mmm. Search what you know about your love. What are Stoppable-san's genuine reasons? His purpose changed. A purpose that not even he recognizes, but one that he knows."

Kim contemplated what Ron's actual reasons for joining the army. For leaving her behind and starting a life that secluded himself from even family. All the while she watched Ron grow cold and used gained combative skills that sent shivers down her spine. Skills that he used to kill his enemies.

Ron wasn't using his powers like he had against the Lorwardian warlords. He was struggling. But the entire time, from landing on Heard Island until now, Ron only used the power when it was called upon either by his command or to protect his team. The rest of the time, he used his rifle or blade.

Is he…

"Is Ron trying to rid himself of his powers?" Kim asked. It made sense to her. The confliction in his heart that washed over her when he killed the marine. Calling himself a monster as if that's all he saw.

Sensei nodded. "In our current time, Stoppable-san has already sealed away most of his power, unknowingly, but a result that he also wishes for. Here, he has convinced himself that he not only doesn't need it, but is unworthy of it. That is my conclusion after searching his mind."

It made sense. On the surface he had purpose. What he proclaimed held purpose. Deep down, underneath the veneer of soldier, Ron's heart roiled in turmoil and uncertainty.

"He can't rid himself of the power. But he can disconnect from it. Look there!"

Kim followed Sensei's eyes back to Ron and Collins. By this time, Ron had dropped the enemy tanks which had seemed to leaved the enemy stunned, while the Diablo's were wiped out. They approached two downed tanks on the glacier, helping to mop up any resistance.

"We are about to witness the another turning point. And the answers you seek." Sensei's voice grew hollow and took a shameful tone, directed at himself, something Kim never imagined him doing.

Kim watched as Ron and his comrade, Collins, approached the first disabled tank as the others dispersed among Gemini's last line of defense on Mawson Peak. A dead machine gunner hung over the top and the main gun bent in such a way that firing off a round would be impossible.

As Ron and Collins climbed the tank, Kim's mind raced. What did Sensei mean? What turning point affected Ron in such a way around the corner? Collins' death was why Ron was the way he was, wasn't it? That's what Shego told her in the café. And that event was far from happening.

Gemini hadn't been captured yet. The air defense system still operated at full capacity. And what about why Ron really left her? What was that supposed to mean? What was Ron really protecting her from? What terrified him that much so that he would drink himself half to death? If not the nightmares, then what? What?