Fire and Ice
Standard Legal Mumbo Jumbo: I don't own Kim Possible, trust me, you'd see a big difference if I did. I also don't own Gungrave: Overdose, or any and all Robert Frost poetry. Honestly, anyone who thinks I do needs to read the first installment of this series.
Fire and Ice
"Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice." – Robert Frost
Chapter 0: It's a Wonderful Life
Pale pink lips, rubbed raw and chapped over from multiple incisor bites were tugged down at the corners in a frown. The small LED screen before her displayed a timer that slowly ticked down one second after another. There was still thirty minutes left until…
With a haggard sigh, she stood and moved away from the screen only to then move towards another across from it. A few swiftly executed electronic commands later and a barren dystopian view lit brightly across the monitor.
The sight would have inspired tears, only ten hours ago. Now she simply lacked the energy to react to it.
The sky as shown on the screen was chocked black with ash and lit with a roiling orange by still-burning flames, which stood nearly as tall as the buildings they consumed. Everything in sight was black and orange reflected from a field of broken glass sprinkled over the earth. There was the occasional blackened limb, or bloody red streak to add some humanity to the macabre landscape, but for the most part it was just an undulating burning miasma, with no life and no hope.
Go City was burning.
Moss green and bloodshot eyes quickly looked over her shoulder towards the other monitor. The countdown had lapsed twenty-seven minutes. She wondered if they even had that much to spare. She silently prayed that she could handle the truth that waited at the end of that countdown. But this wasn't about what she wanted. It stopped being about that some time ago.
Now her life was about getting back down to basics; time to only focus on the need over the want. She used to be so good at that… Now, now that line of thinking didn't even make any sense. Where was that baseless optimism that used to let her see so clearly? That warm sense of altruistic responsibility that drove her to keep pushing forward, beyond her own needs and desires.
What happened to the girl that could do anything?
But for her… I felt that again when it was for her…
No matter how deeply she searched her soul she found nothing but years of steadily built up aggravation and resentment. All which used to stimulate her beyond her childish obsessions had withered within.
She leaned back and noticed how far the counter had wound down in her moment of distraction. Twenty minutes left. In only twenty minutes she'd no longer be alone in this trailer. It was a terrifying thought. Almost involuntarily she turned around and looked towards the back, taking in the rest of the poorly lit and claustrophobic enclosure.
The space was nine-by-twelve feet of gray metal, and tubes, interwoven and messily spilling out of panels along the walls and ceiling like plastic and steel viscera, several pooling around the floor in a cluttered hazardous mess. A broken fluorescent light fixture hung impotently from the corrugated steel ceiling. The three computer monitors scattered through the space were the only source of luminescence to be found. Still, even still, her eyes could easily discern the shape resting at the end of the trailer that the poor lighting failed to define.
Atop a raised metal throne, quiet as a shadow sat her soon-to-be companion. The thin sheet of fabric pooled over her body like a blanket kept her body mostly obscured save for a few long strands of inky blackness, and pale mint. It was a sight she was well accustomed to. After more than eight years she could draw it out with her eyes shut.
Green eyes narrowed and she took in a shuddering breath as her cheeks flushed. She tensed slightly and marched forward so that barely a foot remained between the two. Her fists clenched at her sides and sore muscles strained protest beneath the tight metal of her armor. The sight alone reflexively brought such waves or revolt, anger and antipathy, the lion's share of which was in fact directed inward. The closer the countdown came towards zero the fresher and more exposed old wounds became.
"I get it now," The words spilled out, and she currently lacked the mental resilience to dissent. Her throat was raw, sending jolts of protest with each word, but she felt none of that, choosing instead to continue on with quiet scorn.
"All that bullshit you were saying about how selfish I was being... How- How I just didn't understand? How I just didn't care? I get it now why that hurt so much." With each word she moved in inches closer, not at all caring that she was having a one-sided argument with the not-so-recently deceased. Olive eyes flashed and she stopped directly before the raised throne.
After a moment's pause to consider the countenance of her silent company, she continued, "I should have expected it really. I mean, how in the world did I forget how absolutely selfish you are? I mean, what was I thinking? The world has always just begun and ended with you, hasn't it!"
She turned away as dull aching warmth spread out along her eyes, the salty moisture aggravating already raw eyes. The redhead harshly rubbed away the fluid, but the segmented steel of her gauntlets scraped at her cheeks. She cried out weakly at the unintended self-abuse leading to only more unwelcome tears stinging her tender face.
But she wasn't done yet, and after another shuddered breath she continued on.
"I- I was there! I was there watching the whole-fucking-time! You act like you're the only one hurting, and that no one understands?! But you never once, never-fucking-once, tried to understand me! I wasn't the one pushing you away! I wasn't the one who gave up! You think I wasted my life for- for this?!"
"And to think, I was willing to bear that, all of it… everything. I wanted to, because I was so juvenile! And blind. Eight years, eight years, and you, you give up after six months! Did you ever even try? Did you even see all that I was sacrificing, have sacrificed, because I wanted to make it all right?! " Her shoulders stiffened and her throat seized up with still raw emotions. After a moment the paralysis passed, and she continued, her voice no longer shouting, barely above a lover's whisper.
"And after all that, you say I'm not who you remember. You treat me like some kind of stranger. How could you say all that with a straight face?" She remembered the vicious heated exclamations perfectly. She remembered the looks of disdain and, worse, contempt, as though they were spoken seconds before. At the time, she'd been too stunned to offer back a proper retort, but now, all those months of pent of rage were spilling forth, not caring or appreciating the dire circumstances not even ten feet outside the trailer.
"You're just… you're just so fucking selfish…" She managed as hot tears trailed paths down her face, dribbling down and pooling along the neckline of her ThanoTech battlesuit. A steady numbing sensation spread up from her feet to her legs, and with it all the strength in her fled. She fell to her knees and forward onto her armored hands as the tears dribbled and tapped onto the metal beneath her in morose rhythm.
Looking up, past the tightly wrapped black fabric, over pale mint skin, she lowered her head and gave a wail of grief pushing back and covering her face. "Oh! Oh God, I'm… Oh my god I'm so s-s-ssorry! You- You were right… I didn't understand… I couldn't! But… but what was I supposed to do? It was all falling apart so quickly… Everything was happening and before I knew it, you and I…" She swallowed and took a breath.
"I should have tried harder…"
For over five minutes she sat there, shoulders slumped and head down. The unrelenting torrent of conflicting and outright clashing emotions leaving her dull and senseless until she could let them simply work their way through her psyche. She had more than enough experience owing to the last three breakdowns that month.
The gel layer of her armor and the thick steel of the floor kept her from feeling the brunt of the tremors shaking and rattling the landscape. The shuddering was almost a comfort, the sensation giving her something to ground herself.
Almost lifelessly, like a puppet on strings, she leaned forward placing her hands along the ground before hauling herself up to her unsteady feet. Her body rocked back and forth as she searched inward for what used to be an Olympic-caliber sense of balance. The best she could summon was what one would normally find after a strong shot or two of whisky.
Turning, she looked over her shoulder towards the monitor, the display telling her the good news and the bad all in one declining numerical value. Not for the first time that day, she reminded herself of how important this was. Without this, there was nothing else they could do. She'd looked the beast in the eye; she knew it to be true. And this wasn't just about her, this was about Ron, and Viv, and… Well everyone really. World saving really did entail "The World" after all. How she'd slipped on that simple fact she'd never know.
The monitor watching over the outer perimeter was still the same orange and black mass of fire and darkness. And Ron had run right out into the heart of the maelstrom forcing her current action now. If she didn't move fast, she knew that she'd never lay eyes on him again.
Otherwise, she'd never have broken this promise to her.
"I- I know that you're going to hate me for this. But… But I need you now." She winced and shook her head. "No, that's not right… I've needed you for over eight years." She added softly.
"Right now though, this isn't about me, or what I want. I remember what you told me, I honestly haven't forgotten any of that. But so many people are being hurt. …And I can't do this alone." Not anymore, she almost added.
Summoning forth what minuscule resolution remained in her she spoke with more bass in her voice, "When you wake up, I'm going to get on my knees, beg you to forgive me, and ask you for your help just one more time."
A silence settled over them, her words hanging in the air. The corpse's silence disputed the truth of her claim. A bemused smile slowly formed against her will. "You're right… That's not all of it… I want-"She took a deep breath, and released it slowly, "I want a second chance. I think-"
"BWEEEP BWEEEP BWEEEP!"
A sudden alarm system screamed out from the monitor scanning the exterior and cut her off with wailing warning demanding her notice.
Almost instantly she was standing before said monitor seeing nothing but white static scraping quickly along the screen. The camera had been smashed. And one by one the proximity sensors were blacking out around the trailer. Icicles crawled up her veins as her world was rendered blind.
With a loud groaning metal CLANG a deep indentation appeared in the two-foot thick blast doors. Only seconds later a second burst through beside the first, the entire small trailer shaking and groaning with each rhythmic impact.
Oh no… No NO! NO! Not yet! Dammit! God-fucking-hell! How did they find me?! I got all of them, didn't I?! The report claimed there were fifteen in the area, and I counted off that many! She rationalized in a panic. It was too soon, far too soon. As a fifth dent rushed inward a frightening realization reached around her.
Thinking a million thoughts a second, she ran to the back, grabbing a metal shutter collapsed into the ceiling and bringing it down with a clang. As protection it was as useful as wet tissue, but at least it would keep her companion concealed. Right now, she was as completely helpless as a newborn.
Process is in its final stage! It's too soon! If it's interrupted now the damage… the damage would be irreversible! I need more time until-
Without pausing to panic; her eyes darted over towards the monitor to her right. There were still over seven minutes left on the countdown. Seven minutes! The doors would hold for maybe a third of-
A muffled tearing sound derailed her attempts to work out a feasible plan. Blue white fingers tore through ripped and rendered steel, grabbed the ragged edges of the newly formed opening and then pulling and tearing the gateway wide open. The strength in those hands was something not of this earth. She knew from recent experience just how much damage only a pair of those ice-sculpture hands could do.
Sulfurous toxic air and heat flooded the trailer with the final breach of its pressurized environmental conditioning systems. The flames outside obscured and toyed with her vision reducing the Herculean intruder to little more than a lanky impossible shadow. A shadow with ruby floodlights inset into its skull in place of eyes.
The lights looked her over in clinical disregard, barely registering her as a threat as it placed one foot wrapped in immaculately polished leather inside the trailer, followed by another until it's long body filled the ruined entrance completely.
At approximately seven feet, the monster was a vision to behold. Its arms and legs were long and thin, the hands coming down nearly to its knees. Its exposed flesh was blueish white and smooth as glass, with a crystalline translucency that made it more akin to a carved diamond statue than anything. A pair of tiny useless batwings stuck out from its left shoulder twitching and shuddering occasionally. Its face was a perfectly symmetrical parody of a man's, thin and hard, with two blood red lights in the hollow eye sockets.
It was dressed quite stylishly for an abomination. It stood wrapped from head-to-toe in a pressed black cotton dress suit. A white button-up dress shirt lay underneath mostly obscured by a crimson tie so bright in contrast with the darkness of the ensemble that it was almost jarring. Dressed for marryin' and buryin' as Ron would have put it; in this case, Kim guessed the latter.
"You are a hard woman to reach, Dr. Possible." It's legion of voices spoke in chorus.
"Well, then you should have made an appointment," she retorted darkly.
It took another step and Kim tensed, waiting for it to spring forward. It did not disappoint.
The action was nearly instantaneous, executed with immaculate grace. Its gangly body belied the speed and power it flaunted as it leaped forward, knocking her guarded arms to her sides and grasping her firmly around the throat. Her armored back was slammed hard into what was directly behind her, shattering the command console.
Were her armor's power core not currently in the red, things would have been more favorable for her, but as it stood, she was currently little more than a child at this creature's mercy.
Her throat seized with the frozen contact of his right hand directly against her flesh. The grip was not choking however, more restraining in nature, but tight enough that she knew any struggling would be swiftly met out with brutal retribution.
"We are amazed at your tenacity and physical aptitude, Doctor. Never before has a mere human exhibited such a degree of… interference with any of our designs. But still, why do you persist on this course of action?" It lowered its head slightly so they stood eye-to-eye. "Do you not understand what you are giving up by resisting us? The world wants this evolution. They may be currently unaware, but change is never easily or readily accepted. "
"…And you think Fist gives a shit about your… evolution?" She asked after a pause, her tone belying her fatal predicament.
"Fist is merely a means to an end, easily removed if necessary. Much like you, Doctor. …Easily removed."
"Big words for a parasite. Especially considering that without a body you're nothing but a wet stain the color of toilet bowl cleanser."
"Insults now, Doctor? Regardless, you are mistaken. We are this host, and he is us. We have become one and perfect, a joy you cannot currently even begin to comprehend. Not unless you choose the only logical path."
"I appreciate the offer, but I think I'm happy settling on the illogical human path."
"You and your race are so foolish. This is all thanks to your work, and yet-" he was cut off by an armored fist striking him along the jaw. The action caused a tiny fragment of crystal to chip away from his jaw line.
"Candis. Not me, and she's paying for it now."
The creature made an action akin to a sigh, shaking its head in what it probably thought of as an impressive mimicry of human disappointment. It made her sick to her stomach, seeing this thing pretend to be a person, all of them dressed in those stupid suits, pathetic MIB look-alikes. Why pretend to be human like that in the first place? It was wrongsick above all other wrongsick.
"I see that negotiations have broken down then. Well, to be clear, now my remaining prerogative has been set." His free right hand moved over to hovering just an inch in front of her right eye.
She looked over his shoulder for a brief instant before lowering her head, ragged red bangs falling before her eyes. Her shoulders shuddered, and the Iceman probably thought she was crying, the fear of impending death overwhelming her. After all, such an emotional response was logical. Something it could calculate and postulate.
What wasn't though was when she threw her head back laughing, harshly and disdainfully in his face.
"I have to say, while I've really enjoyed this chat, I've got no more time to waste with you."
The sounds of hissing cables, and disconnecting wires forced its attention away from the laughing doctor and towards the automatically rising partition segmenting the trailer. With the obstacle cleared away, the Iceman got a clear eyeful of the figure on the metal throne. Thick cables disconnected from up and down the wrapped pale form.
"You think you're all that" was whispered bitterly in his ear, "but you're not." She was abruptly released and dropped to the floor as the Iceman turned his full attention to the risen figure.
The motions of standing, stiffly, and unsteadily caused the tarp hanging limply from strong yet slender shoulders to droop forward, and pool around ankles clad in tight black boots. Long thick black hair spilled around her shoulders and back, partially obscuring the diametrically opposed green and black hugging along her every ample curve. Gloved hands strained and gripped at the armrests as she begrudgingly inclined her body forward and stepped from the elevated footrest to the steel beneath her with a dull clang. A thin trail of cold frost hissed out from between razor edged teethe.
The Iceman, took a hesitant step back, perhaps experiencing some of that genuine human fear for the first time in it's short life. Or maybe it was some minor remnant left behind from the psyche of whomever the poor soul was that the Substance had absorbed for that body. But the hesitation was fleeting, and with a resounding inhumane keen its right fist struck out intent on demolishing meat and bone.
The Doctor winced, but did not avert her eyes when a heavy CRACK filled the trailer.
Stumbling backwards, the iceman looked down at his chest in puzzlement. Or more accurately, he looked down through his chest, through the fist-sized fractured portal driven clean through his shirt. The doctor barely registered the shred of blood red fabric gliding lightly too her feet. Her eyes were not even focused on the stumbling iceman, as dozens of hairline cracks ran up and down his form, growing thicker and wider as diamond dust fragmented off and disappeared into the ether.
All she saw was a familiar pair of emerald green eyes, unfocused and wild as they stared pitilessly at their disintegrating foe.
Slowly, hesitantly those same eyes moved towards her other companion. They focused immediately on those olive orbs, and for a time there was deathly silence, punctuated by the soft rustling of an empty suit settling to the floor.
She wants an answer… She wants to know why I lied, why I brought her back again. She hates me, look at her! It's so obvious! Standing to her feet in a panic, the redhead looked up at her silent companion, new tears threatening to cascade down her raw cheeks. "Shego, I'm so sorry! I-"
But it suddenly became hard to talk when she found her face buried in the cold flesh of Shego's chest, held in a tight embrace that threatened to suffocate her. She couldn't have cared less, and returned the gesture with equal force, letting her sobs soak into the fabric stretched between her the late thief's breasts.
"Hey Princess" came a strained rasp from deep within a frosted over voice box, eliciting an even tighter hug. But before this comfort could continue, firm clawed hands gripped Kim by the shoulders and pulled her far enough away so that Shego could look her sternly in the eye.
"I need to know what's going on. What was that thing? How did this happen?"
Kim looked up at Shego with sunken-in raw eyes before smiling grimly, an expression disturbingly unsuited for that face.
"What happened? …I kept my promise."
Chapter 0: End