The document you are about to receive is highly classified.
The information it contains regards ongoing C.I.A. investigations and top priority U.S. Counterterrorist Operations.
Access is restricted.
Wade buzzed in his chair like a honeybee before nectar, swivelling back and forth as his computer screen lit up with the aforementioned phrases. Perspiration dripped from his pimply forehead, dampening his shirt as it fell. He’d been waiting for this, anxiously, although he still wasn’t entirely sure just what ‘this’ was, exactly. Then again, that was kind of the point.
Several weeks ago, representatives of the C.I.A., Global Justice and the U.S. Defence Force made contact with him. It kind of reminded him of the start of The Matrix, which was awesome because he loved that movie, although he thought the two sequels sucked, what with the sudden switch from awesome hacking and reality questioning to an overabundance of religious symbolism and Jesus analogies. Anyhow, back to the matter at hand. They had an intriguing proposition in hand, but told him little. All he knew was that his assistance, as well as Kim Possible’s – “And Ron!” he had reminded the agents, who did not respond affirmatively – would be invaluable to a future project of theirs, what with their sustained record of success in saving the world, recovering stolen technology and subduing villains that, due to the nature of their crimes, were regarded as ‘terrorists’ under the law.
If he chose to participate, he would be given the security clearance to learn more, namely about recent developments in the Project, his role and precisely why he was contacted.
It was also hoped – and he knew it – that, by hiring him, they would maximise Kim’s efficiency, as she was the individual believed to be the most suited for recruitment, although they did not elaborate on exactly what set her apart from the unknown quantities of valued and experienced professionals across the vast range of organisations, but his confidence in her meant they didn’t need to explain. Of course, that last condition prompted the final surge of pride which compelled him to say yes. In all seriousness, if there was a critical situation at hand, an imminent threat to the safety of his country then there was nobody he’d rather have out there defending Old Glory than Kim, especially if he could be fighting the fight with her! …Remotely.
He trusted her to save the world. Bam! Smack! And it would all be over. It was a shame they didn’t want Ron or Rufus, though. They helped a whole lot more than outsiders assumed.
He continued to read.
It is not recommended that you proceed. By reading the following files you are agreeing to work as an agent of the U.S. Government indefinitely and confirming that you will be involved in this project.
You are not to share any of what you know with Kimberly Anne Possible. Unless it is otherwise specified, i.e. in the case of an international emergency, she will be notified of her mission at a later date by those who will act as your superiors.
These files must be deleted from your computer within the next twelve hours. After the eleven hour period, they will become traceable. Even the most sophisticated hackers would take half an hour to crack into your system, and a further fifteen minutes to break the encryption codes protecting the document itself. After that, a virus will be released which will consume the files and, eventually, your whole network, and perhaps the internet itself.
If anyone knows about Project World Police, many lives will be at risk, including yours, your friends’ and your family’s. Do not underestimate the severity of the consequences that may befall you as a result of your participation.
That is all.
After blinking incredulously for a moment, Wade shrugged and nonchalantly accessed the file, hardly intimidated by the catastrophic warnings. He had become somewhat cynical about so-called danger during his time as Team Possible’s geek factor, and, seeing as they had already managed to save the world from, errr, ‘terrorists’ on a basis so regular it was built from All Bran, he doubted that their duties would prove worthy of such melodramatic acclaim. They could do anything. He was just pissed off that they had taken so long to get back to him while the enemy they were supposed to take out could be carrying his or her plans through.
Seriously, if it was Drakken again, he would throttle that blue bastard himself for getting him all worked up…
But, he was soon to find out that this was no mild-mannered matter. His jaw would drop to the floor when he read what he did next. What the fuck had he gotten himself into?!
At least he now knew why the C.I.A., G.J. and the Military – also known collectively as the Global Security Alliance – were so desperate for Team Possible to step in. They needed them to cover their arses.
28 Days Earlier
Somewhere in Nevada
Codename: “Black Hat”
Commencement Time: 00:45
Agents Present: 55
Military Personnel Present: 66
They crept silently across the arid sands, all clad in brown and black. Weapons were raised, hand signals were made and the ring of troops closed in, surrounding their Target, asphyxiating its freedom step by step. Not an inch of skin was left uncovered; everything was protected by the uniforms. Some of the agents were suffering from the smothering effect of the material, which was heavy and thick. It could have been slowly suffocating their pores; it made the near 0°C night feel like a hot and stuffy day, but the safety precaution was a necessity. Infiltrating a suspected terrorist cell was not an assignment which allowed for underestimation.
Objective: Capture The Target.
Target: ‘Shego’, aliases unknown
There was plenty of cause for their extreme caution. By now, even the Military was well aware that The Target was in possession of some form of biochemical or nuclear weaponry – until they could conduct a formal investigation and do some research of their own on this phenomenon, they were reluctant to believe that she had superpowers of extraterrestrial origin – hence their fire-retardant clothing. But aside from the hazard she posed individually, there was also the inherent possibility that she had reassociated with Drew T.P. Lipsky, who had disappeared the previous month along with a surprisingly hefty hoard of hired henchmen. The G.S.A. was hardly concerned with the man, whom they deemed a minimal risk, but with his followers and Shego to aid him, the circumstances awaiting the agents became perilous, perhaps.
It was this network and assistance that turned a mere troublemaker into a major terrorist, and if the soldiers engaged him, that made him an immediate enemy of the U.S. for posing direct opposition to national security. Command did not want there to be any bloodshed at the scene. But, if they encountered any opposition to their mission, said opposition would have to be neutralised.
However, as they closed in on the seemingly abandoned…shack surrounded by miles of desert and mountainous terrain, devoid of civilisation, it appeared unlikely that they would be outnumbered, or even half-numbered. Indeed, it was rather an unexpected twist that Shego would be holed up in such a humble abode. It just wasn’t her style. Then again, at least she had the dignity as a wanted villainess to lie low and keep her whereabouts quiet, unlike many of her associates, who for all their scientific prowess and alleged intelligence were often easier to find than sand at a beach (and equally difficult to get rid of).
She did not make the stupid mistakes of her colleagues. That was why they were hunting her down with such determination.
Field Officer: Cmdr. Skye Sage, Special Ops.
Operatives discreetly checked the windows and entrances, indicating that the establishment looked empty; the coast was clear. Three types of scanners were deployed by the primary scope team, which collectively sensed for metal, heat signatures and certain chemical components of explosives, including trace amounts of gunpowder. The first made a gesture to his leader that told of a hidden compartment leading basement hidden underneath the shack. The second raised one finger and pointed downwards. They would have been uniformly equipped with night vision goggles on most missions, effectively giving everyone some degree of thermal perception, but seeing as The Target used highly luminous plasma, wearing them would just damage the soldiers’ eyes. The third scanner revealed that the area was safely uncontaminated by flammable substances, which made sense considering her gift.
Skye Sage, unaccustomed to her current position of leadership but completely aware of why she was given such a crucial role and what it was she was meant to do, directed the squad members to their required locations circa the shack while she strafed towards the door, ready for action. The door wasn’t locked. She knew that straight away because it wasn’t even closed properly. She assumed that it wouldn’t shut from the decrepit look of the hut. That being said, it also had a cardboard sign hanging from the doorknob with ‘Fuck Off!’ written on it in bright green letters. It swayed harmlessly in the freezing breeze as the Commander tapped the door ajar, snatching her arm back warily in spite of the infrared readings which confirmed the ground floor’s vacancy. The barrel of her rifle entered first, and it too told her that the precautions she was taking were unwarranted.
She secured the premises, calling in a dozen agents and strategically placing them about the trapdoor, their wordless communication unbroken; a language delivered fluently. Just by looking, Skye could tell that the locks and the hatch could not be penetrated without creating a great deal of noise, therefore giving The Target ample time to achieve the critical advantage of preparation and employ it against the intruders. Shego knew the area, so even a minute’s warning might have been enough for the thief to launch an assault or plot an escape successfully. Neither of those outcomes were favourable, and they would probably occur together, which would result in a less than stellar report for this mission. That left the troops with one effective yet particularly graceless method of overrunning the hideout.
Reading the barely visible clue, three operatives fired upon the latch with precise aim, reducing its lock to nothing more than smoke and warped metal. With a kick of her boot, the Commander opened the small tunnel and hastily slid down the ladder, thankful for the heat-resistant gloves that stopped her skin from sticking to the rusty metal. Steady, bent knees absorbed the sudden impact as she hit the ground with a soft thud.
“Isn’t it traditional for cops to knock?” a dry, disenchanted tone queried. Needless to say, company was not welcome to drop in like that, and she was not pleased by the visitors. Instantaneously, Skye pivoted, pointing her bloodthirsty gun right at The Target.
…Well, at the fifty feet of unoccupied air standing in between them, really. It was quite impressive. She’d hollowed out one hell of an evil She-Cave underneath her isolated and inconspicuous cabin. It was either that or the cavernous chamber already existed and Shego merely seized the opportunity to inhabit it. Regardless of her method for obtaining the massive den, it was a brilliant…and unexpected development.
Commander Sage felt a lump as dense as lead form in her throat as trepidation set in, upon realising just how precarious the balance of power and control was. Who knew how deep into the earth this network ran or how many passages there were to conceal oneself within? Their sensors only had a limited range. Perhaps the unaccounted for henchmen, armed with unknown technologies, were lying patiently in wait, ready to spring an ambush of cataclysmic proportions, and perhaps create a hostage situation. Somehow, she managed to compose herself in the face of these worrying possibilities and step forward. “We aren’t the police.” She responded, support joining her from above, falling into line behind her.
“Whoever you are, you didn’t catch on to the whole, ‘Fuck Off!’ thing. I thought I made that pretty clear. Who does that make you?” The Target raised a hand to her chin in contemplation of who she’d pissed off, the other resting upon her voluptuous hip, her curvature accentuated by her skin-tight attire. “Why the hell are you all dressed like that anyway? You look like a black and white minstrel fucked the Blue Man Group.” She commented with a fashion conscious sneer. “Black and brown, eh? Hell, I don’t know your school colours. Does that make you Global Justice or something?” she guessed, shrugging her shoulders nonchalantly as she idly pondered who the perpetrators of this, to her knowledge, unprovoked pursuit were.
“Well that’s mostly true.” A marginally flustered Skye began to answer out of habit. “We’re actually a co-operative effort between Global Justice and the—“
“Look, shut up,” Shego cut her off with a furious, flaming fist brandished in the air, “I honestly don’t care who you are. But, whatever this is about, it had better be good considering you had to break in here at one o’clock in the fucking morning to bug me about it.” She fumed, pacing back and forth, largely rambling to herself. “I mean, seriously, why can’t you freaks ever play your retarded ninja dress up games during in the day? You know, like, when I give a shit? And I can see you! You’re getting a face full of flame if you take one step closer!” A threatening finger was pointed accusingly at a slowly advancing agent, who wisely stepped back into line with his comrades, hanging his head in momentary shame. “I hope you’ve got a…” The black haired bitch had turned back to the other agents, only planning on talking to the leader, but realised that she couldn’t tell any of them apart through their full body uniforms. She massaged her temples in frustration. “Ugh. Damn conformists. Hey, which one of you is the yappy chick who wouldn't shut up earlier?” she asked. After a moment of confusion, Skye slowly raised her hand. Their Target immediately rounded on their Commander, as she’d intended to do before. “I hope you’ve got one hell of a reason for waking me up!”
“We do. Are you aware that – wait, you mean you sleep in that suit? But it’s so…” The Commander quickly cut herself off, having become briefly distracted by the trivial question raised by the green woman’s words, but she quickly shook her head, which knocked her unsettled priorities back into place and she promptly returned to matters of importance. “Err, you are an international terrorist and a code red national security concern. The Global Security Alliance has decided that you must be neutralised immediately. And some other stuff, but, yeah.” She replied, still flushed with embarrassment underneath her balaclava and half-mumbling her words. Why did they get her of all people to do the mid-crisis talking? She wasn’t good at it! She was perfectly happy to follow orders and let somebody else tell her what to do, but no! She was so good at subordination that she got promoted! Stupid military with its stupid chain of command and its stupid counterintelligence. Why didn’t they just let her do what she was good at?
The Target rolled her uncannily green eyes and scoffed as if about to offer a witty quip, but she froze, pausing as her mind did a double take and reconsidered the statements she had just heard. Slowly, a look of pure, almost innocent and hopeful joy spread across her previously scornful face. “You really think I’m a terrorist?” she whispered, moved, resembling the winner of the Oscar for Best Actress about to make her acceptance speech. From that distance, the agents couldn’t see the twinkle of a few proud tears forming in her eyes, and she didn’t dare wipe them away, for fear of drawing attention to them. She’d worked so hard for so long. “Wow. That’s the sweetest thing anybody’s ever said to me. Thank you, yappy chick.” That was something truly special. She would cherish that acknowledgement forever. However, she wasn’t about to get all sappy and emotional over it, because that would be lame. She drew back into a fighting stance and her hateful expression returned from the ether. “Come to terrorise the terrorist, huh?”
Growing tired of the banter, Skye attempted to assert her authority over the rebel robber. “We aren’t here to scare you. We’re here to bring you in.” She announced firmly, summoning as much dignity as time would permit her to recover after her earlier blunders. Bravely, the agent approached, as did the handful in formation behind her. “Shego, you are under arrest for crimes against the United States of America. You have the right to—”
“God, shut up! Do you always talk this much?” Skye Sage blinked in confusion and shrugged, deciding not to answer. “It’s time for action!” the green girl cried as she lunged roughly five yards forward. The sounds of plasma charging and guns cocking in a display of deadliness filled the resonant rocky abyss, travelling down into the darkness indefinitely. After a long ten or fifteen seconds of a still standoff, the thief blinked in apparent confusion, tilting her head curiously towards the G.S.A. Commander. “Don’t you reckon that was kind of premature? I mean, aren’t you meant to catch me before you place me under arrest?” she asked in a tone vaguely reminiscent of suspicion. “You’ve violated enough of my rights as it is, fascists. I deserve to know!” Curious as to the legality of the declaration themselves, the troops turned to one another, clueless, and shook their heads as they realised they weren’t entirely sure.
Shego grinned mischievously. Success! Her diversion worked!
In that split second after they took their eyes off the prize, she leapt into the air, bounced off of the rock wall and grabbed onto a rope connected to the secret exit she had installed. She began silently ascending towards the cavern’s roof. By the time the intruders gave up and turned back to where she should have been they discovered that their Target had vanished without a trace. Their dark masks grew slightly heavier; their brows secreted sweat while they stood, stunned.
“Shit!” exclaimed Skye, who was the first to regain her equilibrium, but only due to the onset of panic when she saw her essential national security objective (and career) fade into the dust. She sprinted towards the ladder in sheer desperation, screaming her dilemma at the top of her lungs as she climbed, frantically. “The Target has escaped! Whereabouts unknown! I repeat; The Target has escaped! Prepare to engage with force!”
The sound of rushing footsteps beating against the wooden floor above echoed through the narrow hole, letting her know she was understood.
Meanwhile, Shego slithered stealthily through her emergency exit passageway, which consisted of an almost flat, horizontal crawl, approximately two hundred meters in length. She’d had an inkling it would come in handy when she got bored one day and decided to install additions to her hideout. It was constructed shallowly under the surface, close enough that she tried to eavesdrop on the action above. Unfortunately, they weren’t totally stupid; they were communicating with some kind of battlefield sign language, and detecting physical movements was extremely difficult in even the most favourable circumstances, so it didn’t help that they were playing red light green light. Logically, she presumed that the number of personnel present greatly exceeded the few she had encountered directly. If not, then she doubted they were really working for the Government or Global Justice or any notable organisation, for that matter, as it was a peculiarly primitive strategy and almost certain to fail on its own.
To cut a long lecture on these grade school level military tactics short, there simply had to be others out there, waiting to put Plan B’s and Plan C’s into action, unless of course they were being led by a goldfish that had recently undergone a lobotomy and become addicted to the medical morphine. In other words, her escape hadn’t even begun. Because she had no choice but to escape, of course. Boring them into defeat was not a viable strategy. If she stayed hidden, a simple infrared camera or metal detector would quickly turn her emergency exit into a death trap.
Probability dictated that she would have to fight her way out. It was simply a question of how hard and how long she’d have to struggle. Shego gritted her teeth and groaned in frustration. ‘So much for getting a good night’s sleep,’ she thought, tiredly.
It was hard to find the exit in the pitch blackness of her burrow. She only knew she’d found it when her head bumped into solid dirt. “Ow!” she gasped, rubbing her head softly as she recoiled. In her opinion, this was the only time running into a dead end could ever be something positive, so she wasn’t as furious as she could have been. Still, it hurt! Resisting the urge to curse, she dug her claws into the soil on either side of her knees and gripped tightly, both to build adrenaline in her muscles and to help her concentration. It wasn’t long before she came up with an idea.
Tentatively, she eased her fingers onto the camouflaged grate above her head, aware that it was quite light, considering its durability. If nobody was on it, she should have been able to move it. As it turned out, she couldn’t get it to budge. There was something, or someone, blocking her escape. That was one problem…discovered. It also confirmed her suspicion that the perimeter was surrounded, and who knew how far the radii of distribution could extend?
What to do next? Well, there was the subtle, stealthy approach, but, in this situation, she couldn’t come up with one that deserved any faith. She could leg it and keep running until she lost them, but she would certainly have to engage the enemy in order to get out, although, with any luck, not en masse, and it also meant braving the danger. That could work. Finally, she could go out in a blaze of glory, fighting to the death against the superior numbers and sophisticated weaponry of the international and federal agents who seemed intent on ‘neutralising’ her by any means necessary. That would be the honourable thing to do, but it was also incredibly stupid. She was certain to succumb. Frankly, she’d rather be remembered for surviving than being defeated, regardless of the circumstances or romantic idealism of the tragedy.
Therefore, discounting stupid, unnecessarily complicated or time-consuming ideas, her course of action was obvious. Run away. Live to fight another day.
Growling under her breath and tensing her arms, Shego readied her plasma. The agent above her barely had enough time to perceive the glow before the grate was hit by a blast so powerful that she and the platform were sent spiralling several meters into the air. The distinctive green flash alerted just about everybody to her presence, but she did have one thing going for her; not all of them would know which way she ran. She was too quick. With that knowledge to keep her confidence high, she leapt out of the ditch and fled.
“There!” a voice screamed across the bare, freezing desert, his announcement closely followed by the chilling, percussive pulses of assault rifles firing from the shadows, their breeze at her back. She could have sworn that she felt the bullets flying past her, but, as she glanced over her shoulder, she realised that they couldn’t actually detect her through the intense blackness and they were already drifting off target, shooting in the wrong direction, having lost sight of her. A sigh of relief escaping her fortress, the villainess swiftly altered her heading by about thirty degrees, a change that should have been great enough to evade the trigger-happy hunters on her tail.
Her footing nearly faltered as the flimsy powder underfoot gave way beneath her ill-defined rush, but she caught her balance, prior to causing either injury or embarrassment, and continued her flight to freedom. Sand. She despised running in sand. She loathed it when she was a kid at the beach, she hated it at that very point in her life and she would still abhor it even after her body fell into the rhythm of motion it had learned long ago in order to minimise the disadvantages thrust upon her by the unpleasant environment.
‘Why the fuck didn’t I get a hideout in the jungles of Africa or Southeast Asia?’ she asked herself, the mental voice laden with utmost fury, as per usual. But she already knew the answer. Jungles were her element; her favoured terrain. Not only would she have been easier to find among them – not that it made a difference anymore – but she was in, what many might call, a funk; a period of lasting discontent that she hoped to bring to an end with, well, a ‘shock to her system’ of sorts, but it was less of a shock and more of a retreat from the circumstances that left her so frustrated. This insatiable need for relief and improvement came from her profession, clearly, and she knew it because, in spite of her reluctance to admit as much, there hadn’t been much else to her life recently besides pointless villainy.
Sure, being a mercenary was cool, but, unlike most of her sort, she only ever worked for Drakken, which meant she wasn’t getting a lot of variety in her diet, and she was a thrill seeker to the extreme. Routine was an adversary that conflicted with the very nature of her being, yet that was exactly what she’d resigned herself to. She was getting bored to the point where it was manifesting as physical discomfort (and major migraines). It wasn’t like she did anything wrong to seal her recurring fate, and every duel with her nemesis was unique; they never failed to surprise her. They always battled well, and, indeed, these clashes were often her only source of pleasure, however twisted that rush might be, in the otherwise dreary, dull day to day. For a long time, she believed that consistency on her part would one day lead her to success. Alas, she was stuck in a vicious, karmic cycle, failing to transcend her current plateau.
She was sick of being a component in a losing formula. For years, she hadn’t particularly cared about victory or defeat, as long as she had fun, got to fight and was able steal to increase her reputation while making a significant profit in the process. Drakken offered her everything that mattered, as mentioned above, except for fun, but when she was new, that was what her free time was for. Ultimately, it had been something to do and it pissed off her asshole brothers to boot, not to mention the fact that she never needed to worry about unemployment. At the time, it sounded like the perfect deal. However, as the novelty wore off, the undesirable elements had slowly eaten away at her patience.
It wasn’t as deep as it sounded. She was simply aware that her career, her life, was static. It wasn’t going anywhere. She wasn’t even getting the money that she was supposed to get because so much of it wound up in federal hands or going to fund crazy schemes or spent on her quarters in Drakken’s lairs, which rarely lasted. So, seeing as she knew all of this, why hadn’t she made it all better?
Was she just accustomed to it? Fuck no! Shego was better than that! Wasn’t she? She was too smart to keep losing the same fight over and over and over again, and yet there wasn’t a lot of evidence to support that, since it kept on happening. Clearly, something needed to change. That or she was starting to take her job too personally when she shouldn’t care. Regardless of the truth, she was stressed and deserved a break from her duties, as well as the space to figure things out, like whether or not she would continue to work for Drakken. That’s why she was all the way out there.
Unfortunately, although this did classify as a shock to her system, the long awaited path towards an epiphany did not appear to be hiding behind the gun toting, flag waving, white-toothed, prayer saying, vitamin taking, green skin hating militia. After all, if she was murdered by the Secret Service or whatever these bastards called themselves then she couldn’t do a whole lot about raising her satisfaction with life or her accomplishments, could she? Hell, she hadn’t even had enough time to get used to not being told what to do yet – even though she normally ignored people’s orders anyway. In the isolation and silence, it became frighteningly blatant how much of her life she spent following orders and being subordinate, considering how sincerely she loathed that. It was a relief for Shego to have no one but herself to listen to and her own expectations to meet, which were refreshingly low and comfortable, until the life and death issue erupted.
And that was the state of affairs and everything leading up to it. Not a lot of those thoughts went through her mind as she ran, though. This was all old news, and there were more pressing matters at hand, for example being hunted down in the desert like a teen in some stupid gore/torture movie.
She raced downhill, or down dune in the hopes that she would be hidden from sight, first of all, and also to gain some speed, which might edge her ahead of any chasers who didn’t possess her balance or skills. Over the course of her sprint, she adapted her style of treading so that it enabled her to displace very little sand, meaning that she could accelerate to a greater velocity than most people. It wasn’t worth looking behind her to validate her confidence; she could scarcely see her unlit hand in front of her face.
However, something didn’t feel right. It seemed too quiet. Even if she was outrunning them all, shouldn’t there be at least one agent within firing range, trying to take her down? Unless of course…
“Fuck!” she gasped as she stumbled upon exactly what she feared. She had just found Plan C; a firing line cutting off her escape route. She lost all her momentum in an instant, kicking up a massive cloud of sand (which conveniently served to obscure her from their already limited vision, temporarily hiding her) but that did not discourage them from trying to annihilate anything that lay in her general direction. Her eyes narrowed with a wild rage and she hissed a determined, “Not for long!” through her gritted teeth.
A violent explosion of plasma downed two agents, one of the men ricocheting off the other as if they were marbles. Aside from that, the energy she discharged cleared the polluted air in front of her and also illuminated the scene just enough to reveal that there were seven gunmen in total. That was hardly a challenge for a ‘wanted terrorist’ like herself.
Unfortunately, they saw her first, several seconds before the impact of emerald flames shone upon them. It was exactly the time frame necessary for their best man to line up the perfect shot. BANG! Shego reacted to the noise before it had time to properly register in her brain. Just in the nick of time she raised her fearsome, flaming fist in front of her heart, blocking the path of the projectile that, for all she knew, could have been her demise. Until it disintegrated in her aura, that is, although enough still remained to prick her finger upon collision.
“Son of a bitch!” The Target swore, acrobatically ducking and dodging the endless metal storm brewing in her vicinity as she shook her hand, attempting to ease the throbbing that set in. “Ack! My nails! Oh, this just got personal.” Although it could barely be considered noteworthy in comparison to what had already transpired, that incident was enough to incite her ferocious fury, the force which frequently motivated her to perform above and beyond what she believed to be her best. Her glare said everything by saying nothing, but it remained unseen amidst her slow but purposeful approach towards the line. “Gun Control is such a hot topic.” She roared as she fired seven individual plasma beams from her fingers, each aware of its destination. The temperatures were so intense that the ends of the soldiers’ guns melted, withering into stubs when her well-aimed rays hit, rendering them useless.
One moron, who probably hadn’t noticed, kept firing to the point where the back of his weapon, overloaded with bullets and shells, exploded in his face, which knocked him onto his arse. Shego stalked forwards, her silhouette reminiscent of a bear reared up to its full height, her claws glinting menacingly in the moonlight. The soldiers were suddenly faced with their own uselessness. Their terror made her smirk.
“Guess which side I’m on.” She purred. And then she pounced.
It was only a few minutes before she was through with the band of boys. Idly, she picked tangled shreds of fire-retardant clothing out from the spaces between her claws as she walked off, carelessly stepping on and over the unconscious, lacerated and battered bodies of her attackers. The melted metal continued to smoulder, hissing as it cooled too rapidly in the freezing night, becoming brittle. It stank too. Not wanting to run into another one of those barrages anytime in the near future, she had kept one of the gunmen conscious long enough to interrogate him, demanding that he disclose the safest path to take, and he had obliged, blubbering pathetically as he snitched. She had knocked him out, largely to shut him up, and was now headed in the right direction, towards the mountains.
Desperation crept into her demeanour as her previous mood wavered. Those punks cost her some valuable time. That was for sure. She didn’t know if, whilst distracted, a scout saw her and reported her whereabouts to any or all of the following: helicopters; the police; S.W.A.T.; reinforcements; snipers; Kim Possible; novelty-sized killer robots; America’s Most Wanted; the circus; the A-Team; the principal; her brothers; E!; the President; Ghostbusters; etcetera! For all she knew, the troops she’d encountered back in her den were right behind her, or at least covering most of the ground she made beforehand.
There was no time to rest or recuperate or even to make revisions to her grand idea of legging it. She dashed off into the wild black yonder with amazing haste, the likes of which she hadn’t exhibited in ages. It felt so much faster than she’d ever gone. And she had no idea where she was going, tragically, but ‘away’ would suffice, so she wasn’t terribly disappointed.
That was when her inner voices began to argue. It wasn’t good enough. She couldn’t be so content with such a mediocre scheme! She was the villain who didn’t suck like that!
Her instincts as a thief said hide. Ordinarily, she would have concurred, but behind what? Within what? WHERE?! There were no trees! The cacti were sparse and pointy! There were no elevated layers to climb up into! There was no appropriately coloured cover to turn her ostentatious cat-suit into appropriately inconspicuous night time camouflage! Crouching next to a boulder or burying herself in sand like a cartoon character wasn’t going to cut it when her predators were equipped with heat sensitive technology and weapons that could pierce the toughest steel hundreds of times a minute. Electing to run for it didn’t offer much greater prospects than the alternative, but at least she could actually do it! She would take her chances on the option that actually had a grain of veracity.
Little did she realise that her odds were about to plummet exponentially into the realm of bleak.
Just barely, over the heavy, irregular, consuming rhythm of her breath, which was synchronised with the pounding of her feet against the starlit sand, the impact of her weight against the parched earth, she heard an unusual sound. It was somewhere behind her in the distance; a strange buzzing, which was slowly getting louder and modulating in pitch. There was more than one, but of what? With all her energy devoted to sprinting as fast as she could, her mind wasn’t at its sharpest, so she couldn’t place the noise immediately, but she knew it was familiar, and hostile.
Once it clicked, her heart filled with despair. It was only instinct that stopped her from tripping over and feasting upon the dirt in premature submission. Those were engines that she heard; powerful motors on some kind of small, off road vehicles. Since she didn’t think they would be on motorbikes, she concluded that they were using special ATVs; some variety of four-wheeler that was doubtlessly constructed specifically for combat in these circumstances. It didn’t matter how fast she ran, nor how gracefully. They would catch up with her and surround her, unless, from out of her proverbial hat, she retrieved a bunny that was the Professor of Miraculous Escapes at Oxford University. Briefly, her eyes flickered to either side, as she considered taking flight in another direction and waiting for them to pass by, which would have been sheer genius if she were on a road. But she wasn’t, and that sucked, because if she were she would have been running a hell of a lot faster too.
Fortunately, the aforementioned Professor Bunny hopped out and shared a fantastic idea with the ridiculously outnumbered Shego. Well, potentially fantastic. The catch was that, if she failed to pull it off, she would surely perish under the wheels and relentless gunfire of the oncoming traffic. Interesting conundrum, and she might have spent a bit more time thinking it through, but cheating death was how she made her living, leaving her emboldened in the face of death.
She came to a stop. Quietly, her lungs grasped for breath, her body recovering from strain and exhaustion at a superhuman rate. Her hands rose into a generic guard, ready to perform their magic on cue. Then the first ATV appeared, screaming along and slowing to a sudden stop as she was spotted, the motor’s idle grunting resembling some ancient, mythological beast.
“You’d better have some serious health coverage.” She muttered under her breath, mostly for her own amusement, a smirk daring to tweak the corners of her mouth as she regarded her enemy. Suddenly, the machine charged right at her, like a raging bull, its piercing beams of light practically blinding her. She squinted, managing to make out the shadowed shape of an Uzi-like gun pointing straight at her in the split second before she jumped. Her concussive blast hit the anonymous rider in the helmet, ripped the bars from his grip and sent him crashing into the dirt, safely out of harm’s way. The Target somersaulted in midair and rotated two and a half times before landing, with only slight discomfort, where her victim had been sitting seconds earlier, at the helm of the army-painted machine. “Toro, bitch!” she cried, racing off like the wanted renegade she was.
During the veritable twenty-first century joust – predominantly due to the high energy headlights shining with intensity akin to lasers and solar flares – she couldn’t see the other vehicles coming down over the dunes. Unlike their forerunner, all of these bore two people, both a driver and an armed passenger, and more than half of the twenty or so steel chariots were not puny ATVs, but rather dune buggies; small military jeeps toting horsepower that could trample her into the dust she came from. Indeed, some had reached speeds so high that they leapt from the precipice and into the air like strong swimmers diving off of their starting blocks.
The chase was on.
Shego pushed her vehicle to the max, wishing that she didn’t have to turn her neck so hard and far in order to watch for threats closing in or riding on her tail. They weren’t dressed in quite the same manner as the personnel she had encountered previously. Everyone within visual range was clad in what looked like military gear, though several seemed to be wearing the same kind of thick, black jumpers as the agents – which she did know that she wasn’t capable of burning through – and the armed soldiers didn’t have helmets, as they would interfere with their ability to line up a shot. Instead, they wore army and marine caps, as did a few of those at the wheel.
She couldn’t help but become momentarily lost in mixed emotions, wondering how she was supposed to feel about having, quite literally, a small army called in to vanquish her, the notoriously violent villain. On the one hand, she was proud and thought she should be a bit smug from there on out, knowing that they thought it necessary to employ such force to contain her. Such danger she posed. That was quite an achievement.
And yet, this reputation had gotten her into some serious shit. Was it in any way a good thing to be branded a terrorist? No! It meant an emergency execution. It meant no escape. It meant she was tearing through the desert on a four-wheeler with no name, her firing squad lined up behind with a Government sanction for her head! And, besides, terrorism was not her game by any means. They got her persona completely wrong! This was discriminatory. She wanted to go down for something she’d actually done, not because she had superpowers.
Speaking of which, she conjured said superpowers and flung a flashing orb behind her. The consecutive sounds of an explosion and a metallic collision signalled to her that she had hit a target or two. A barrage of deep, loud gunfire amidst the background noise and howling wind also informed Shego that they weren’t particularly pleased by her response.
“Fucking Feds! Can’t take a joke, can you?!” She screeched, ducking down as low as she could to get out of the bullets’ way, her nose almost close enough to leave an impression in the handle bars. With any luck, and if she knew anything about physics, such a position should also enable her to move slightly faster, and even the slightest boost was good news in light of her present peril.
It was nowhere near quick enough, though. A buggy pulled up alongside her. For a fleeting second, her chest constricted with fear, but that merely pushed her to act in her defence straight away.
Igniting her fist, she reached out and punched through the hood – which wasn’t hard because of her heat, weakening the resistance of the structure. Not content with that, though, she yanked vehemently on several components of the car’s system, which were apparently essential, as the contraption drastically decelerated and swerved in all directions, eventually crashing into a counterpart. The wiring in her hand was made useful too. The thief threw it purposefully into the eyes of a driver, who was gaining on her and, somewhat stupidly, wasn’t wearing a helmet.
Although not intentionally, a shard of metal that she threw hit one of the breakneck paced bastard’s wheels with such force that it popped. The sudden flat tyre suffered horribly from the beating being dealt out by the sand, and this caused the vehicle to bounce and lurch maniacally. The driver, unable to compensate intelligently, tugged randomly and in sheer futility at the steering. The fervent, firing gunman standing in the back was rocked off balance and then thrown right out over the seat and into the empty air, his ammunition going the same way, shooting into the sky to meet the stars.
But his journey was finite. His body mass dragged him down to earth soon enough. He only had enough time to skid off the sand and hover above the ground once more before an oncoming jeep crushed him under its wheels, no doubt leaving him, at the very least, mangled beyond description. His screams fell silent, and the car that had consumed him came to a stop, either to recover their fallen comrade or because a stray bullet had brought ruin to their transport.
Taking advantage of the probable rampant distraction, Shego chose then to try a simple evasive manoeuvre, since it was obvious that drag racing the nimbler beasts would get her nowhere beyond bringing up the rear, and she was not content to come last on this occasion; the big stage. She jerked her wheel sharply to the left, casting a veil of yellow powder into the atmosphere in her wake. The turn wasn’t easy, but the displacement of sand under her tread helped to dramatically reduce the difficulty of the spin and minimise how far off course she’d glide. Furthermore, she put all of her weight and force onto one side, to negate the adverse effect Newton’s Second Law of Motion might have in her situation.
It worked. With all four wheels on the ground, she rode off perpendicular to her initial heading. Within seconds, she not only recovered the distance she had lost in slowing down, but in fact gained ground! The chasers were, in essence, running away from her, helping to provide her with the breathing space she needed.
When it finally clicked (after some of the bikes had travelled over a hundred metres past her turning point), many of the troops reacted instinctively, and foolishly, without a single thought spared for the potentially unfavourable outcome that might occur. They pulled their wheels with all their strength, through several revolutions, in an attempt to follow her. Some of the heavy – maybe not heavy enough – machines overbalanced, because of their recklessness on such unstable terrain. If they were lucky their buggy merely fell onto its side and skidded, which was relatively harmless, but some crashed horrifically, like the worst Motorsports’ accidents all rolled into one.
Others took the imaginary bend with greater caution and reserved their haste for the catch up. None of the ATVs were in pursuit anymore; they weren’t fast enough to keep up with her when her quad bike bore a far lighter load, just one occupant. Besides which, the jeeps that hadn’t annihilated themselves were more than capable of overtaking her, and their riflemen had much better shot opportunities. And they were capitalising on that, doubtlessly offended by the ridiculous number of their fellows taken down by her cunning nature and frustrated by her thus far continuous success in escape.
But it was hard to shoot accurately from the back of any fast moving, rapidly bumping and wildly strafing automobile, curving two and fro, like a snake’s tongue tasting the scent trails of its prey. Their aim was probably much better on solid ground, so she wasn’t prepared to deny them credit for their poor marksmanship just yet. Even though the likelihood of them successfully shooting her seemed remote, Shego feared that dumb luck and basic probability (which was in effect for as long as they kept blasting away) meant that there was the ever present prospect of a random, stray bullet flying off course and puncturing a tyre, if nothing else. It had already been shown just how disastrous such an ordinarily mundane bother of that sort could be at these speeds, in this environment.
Her anxiety lessoned as the violent hail ceased to rain down upon her. Why had the guns fallen silent? Was it just cause to be suspicious? Yes it was.
Shego yelped. The sudden impact of a predatory bonnet against the rear of her stolen bike caused her to hit her nose, the force throwing her face into the metal between the handlebars unexpectedly. “Ow!” They were ramming her?! “Oh hell no!”
Through the momentary dizziness assaulting her vision, she cast her gaze over her shoulder to confirm her conclusion. A truck was, indeed, tailgating her. Naturally, the army boys weren’t retarded enough to mow down their own kind. She would be perfectly happy to do that for them.
One of the freaky, masked wannabe-ninja agents from back in her home was there, on the back of the buggy, shouting commands at the driver. “Careful! Go around! Pull up alongside her!” she yelled across the barbaric growls of animal engines, keeping her gun at the ready, and pointing with her free arm to accentuate her meaning.
The thief almost dared to blink. It was the bitch from before. And she still wouldn’t shut up! How had she managed to come all this way, so quickly, when all the other agents were left behind, far away, suffering in the bitter aroma of her dust? Perhaps it was some kind of narcissistic leader thing (after all, she certainly assumed the role of the leader during their earlier encounter); a need to be the first to engage the enemy, and the one to revel in the glory of bringing in the terrorist’s smoking, hole-ridden body as her trophy. It sounded like Hego and what he would do, the stupid bastard. She’d hated good guys and authority ever since.
Another fact of life which she couldn’t stand was having guns brandished in her face, which Skye Sage proceeded to do when the two were in line, travelling at almost identical yet slightly fluctuating speeds. “Surrender yourself now!” The Commander barked, although it was barely audible due to all of the obstacles determined to terminate the sound waves before they reached their destination. Shego rolled her eyes defiantly, not that anybody was able to witness that. “If you fail to comply, we will—“
Rather than sit through the rest of her distracting proclamation, the Target elected to bitchslap the intrusive weapon right out of her enemy’s hands. Skye choked on her dying words, stunned. She watched her rifle stagger harmlessly across the sands, a bead of sweat forming on her brow as she figured out that her advantage had almost certainly chosen to change sides then and there, picking the winner of the previous confrontation without delay. With the gift of hindsight fresh in her mind, she cursed the fact that she should have echoed Shego’s attitude, focusing more on the task at hand and the road ahead than on petty verbal banter.
What better time to make up for her transgression than immediately?
And that was what she did. In spite of losing the ever-trusty power of bullets, she was not completely defenceless, or offenceless for that matter. There was one weapon that couldn’t be knocked from her grip so easily; herself.
Skye leapt onto the bike like a daredevil stuntwoman, effectively (yet ineffectually) tackling Shego in the process of landing behind her. Although she barely unsettled her from her position; the handlebars were merely tweaked. It was enough of a nudge for the four-wheeler to lightly bump up against her former driver. Incoherent yelling seemed to assault her from all sides, and she knew why. That was crazy.
Thankfully there had only been marginal separation between the two racing vehicles, so when she jumped-ship she was about as safe as anybody performing such a mortally dangerous, moronic stunt like that could get, which still wasn’t much, but it helped if she could convince herself that she wasn’t an idiot. She couldn’t, though. Her mind was berating her like a melodramatic and perpetually worried mother. But she wasn’t done yet; now that phase one hadn’t killed her, she had to move on to the second part of her impulsive lunacy.
Shego and the most prominent thought in her consciousness seemed to share similar views as both voices simultaneously shrieked, “What the fuck are you doing?!” and she was sure that her men were frantically hoping to know the answer to that as well. “Get off! I am not running a taxi service!” the thief insisted, snarling furiously. She debated whether or not to remove her hands from the important task of steering (which required quite a large degree of concentration) long enough to take a swing at her unwelcome companion and, with any luck, force her to disembark. It seemed like a risk worth taking, if only for the satisfaction of nailing the bitch in the face.
However, the looming buggy that continued to stalk the edges of her peripheral vision and the clear memories of brutal gunfire gnawing at her back gave her reason to reconsider. And, when she realised exactly why they would resume their onslaught once their Commander was out of the way – they certainly weren’t keen on attacking while their boss was first in line to get shot – she felt reluctant to jettison the masked agent. Go figure that her only protection turned out to be her enemy.
Initially, she thought that she was trapped in a catch twenty-two dilemma, but soon enough it prompted an idea born of pure genius to appear in her mind. It turned her dread into a wave of overwhelming bliss. She had a hostage. A smirk formed on her lips as the smell of victory assailed her senses, but it was soon whisked away by the atmosphere.
She felt a hard punch connect with her back, and the body responsible for the blow pushed up against her, all but clambering on top of her, pressing her down below the machine’s line of sight. Brown gloves flew into view, valiantly reaching for the quad’s major controls, which were wedged underneath the thief’s chest, struggling to overcome her and bring the fleeing ATV to a stop. That was not acceptable.
In one fluid motion, the villainess reached, blindly, into the air over her shoulder and closed her fingers around the material she felt there, assuming it was what she was looking to locate. “Hey!” she heard Skye squeal, her arms flailing in distress as her fireproof mask was abducted by the alien-skinned Target. She fell backwards into the small seat, her head left totally exposed to the elements.
Before she could even begin a pathetic attempt to fight against the perceived threat or make an effort to recover her protection, the Commander saw a flash of green that robbed the breath from her lungs, sent cold chills down her spine and made her pupils shrink to the size of pinheads in pure, primeval terror as it registered. Caught up in a moment of passion, she had forgotten the nature of the suspect she was dealing with. “You make one move I don’t like and I swear I will fry your face off.” Shego promised in a tone three shades darker than the mouth of a black hole, and she meant it.
This mission had gone to hell, and the devil was about to kick its ass.
Skye swallowed nervously, understanding her newfound captor perfectly. The dangerous hands remained lit, declining to retreat by so much as an inch, scorching the tip of her nose. Her life flashed before her trembling eyes as the heat lecherously licked her cheeks, whispering its intentions into her ear and consuming the sweat it milked from her sensitive skin. But, thank God, it was not meant for her. The miniature inferno rolled out of her enemy’s fingers in a picturesque pitch, slamming into the chassis that held her previously. The heat caused the fuel to ignite in its tank and her former driver was engulfed by flames. She hoped that his full covering of fire-retardant body armour would be his salvation. At that stage, she couldn’t be sure that she would ever know if he, or anybody, would survive this deadly operation intact.
Upon the horizon, at least as far as the collective headlights could illuminate, an oasis emerged. It wasn’t one of water and palm trees, but it was an equally refreshing sight for the lost desert wanderer; a road. Shego nearly collapsed into laughter, so relieved felt she. But she wasn’t out of the desert yet, nor the woods because that was precisely where she was aiming to wind up. That beautiful bitumen would take her up the mountainside, into a landscape that negotiated with intruders on her terms.
Not wanting to be taken down after such a long struggle only just short of freedom, and also because she was in a rare good mood, Shego decided to throw her human shield a bone. “Hold on.” She said to her with a note of warning in her tone, the dunes lurching forth from the Earth, erect, like almighty waves reared up on the ocean’s surface, threatening to crash into her raft, snap it in two and destroy her.
The Commander was wary, but followed the instruction only just before they hit the first hurdle. Both women were lifted off of their seats as the vehicle bounded, bucked and bounced over the crests. Some were as big, if not bigger than the surprisingly durable machine they were riding on. Bravely, it battled on against the endless maze of obstacles, though it was struggling to contend with the onslaught. The comparatively huge buggies behind them, however, were having no such trouble. The ladies looked back consecutively. Their pursuers ploughed through the sand bars, each one exploding with resounding booms as the cars burst through them as though their juggernauts were unleashed upon flimsy stacks of feathers.
But it slowed them down, and that was good enough for Shego.
They reached the road only a minute later, motion sick but perhaps further ahead than they had been prior to entering the rough patch. The passenger was especially grateful to have escaped with her life, but the thief couldn’t yet say that she had done the same. “Let go of me now.” She hissed, jerking back her arm and elbowing Skye in the chin, completely on purpose. The driver found it to be both a pleasant experience as well as an effective means of forcing the small woman to release her. She smirked in spite of the glare tangibly touching the back of her neck, if not indeed in reply to it.
As she had suspected, even though it was supposed to be an all-terrain vehicle, the bike was much swifter on the solid pavement, never mind insurmountably smoother and easier to manoeuvre. Rationality said that she would have to discard that improvement to the wind soon enough, though. This mountainous path was tricky, windy and littered with unforeseen twists, if the sign warning her of that was a messenger to be trusted.
As if she was going to give herself up like that, though! Slowing down was hardly the favourable option to select in the middle of a life-or-death chase. Regardless of her current velocity, she was a fantastic pilot and knew it.
They would never be able to catch up with her now.
Shego pushed her steed to the limit, squeezing out all the acceleration she could manage while she was on the plane, where the way was flat and straight. And, for a time, even Commander Sage, who was still recovering from the recent rollercoaster of ridges, was comfortable with that fast fury on such good ground. But then they verged upon the hills, the steep slopes and foreboding bends, and their speed did not abate. She began to lose confidence – whatever she had left after being held captive by a wanted terrorist with flaming fists while an armed, ruthlessly trained military was hunting her down. There was no way. This nutjob didn’t honestly plan on outrunning them here, did she?
The screeching of skidding tyres was deafening as the black-haired beast swerved around a pair of snaky curves, leaving rubber stains on the route, but thankfully not their blood as well. Panicked, Sage grabbed onto the bars up the back for stability and rounded on her Target and captor, provoked by fear to risk pissing her off. “Are you crazy?!”
“No.” Shego responded, smirking. She’d seen plenty of crazy in her days as a sidekick, so when she went demented, she would know it. “Don’t be a backseat driver. I know what I’m doing, chatty.” She said dismissively, only moments prior to jumping a vast gap which separated two sides of the road, rather than taking the bend. The landing was not especially graceful, but that didn’t seem to bother the green girl, who didn’t even flinch.
The agent bit her tongue, not because she was scared of being put at risk anymore than she already had been, but because the impact with the ground made her do so by accident. Blinking incredulously, clueless in regards to the state of the terrorist’s sanity, she elected to check Shego’s self-assured statement directly, doing so with surprising calm, although her eyes did persist in their futile efforts to discover whether the evil woman’s powers were contagious by trying to burn holes in her back. “What are you doing, exactly?” she asked.
The driver snorted. “Isn’t it obvious? I’m getting the hell out of here!” she exclaimed, screaming through the ever narrowing track. “Those idiots you push around haven’t got a hope of getting close to me, unless they’re willing to do something stupid. But they don’t teach you that, do they?” she hissed, spitefully, because she didn’t actually believe that what she was doing was insane or ridiculous. She was trying to survive, and, if she knew anything about evolution, that was the ultimate sign of intelligence.
Skye’s heart sank as she glanced behind them, staring at the empty road. It was true. They weren’t being followed. They wouldn’t be; not at the pace Shego was willing to run. They were alone now, and The Target might as well have been in the clear, with no one to bring her down. Except, there was one person there who was capable of putting a stop to all of this and securing the mission’s success. Herself.
Her eyes closed into slits, both in determination and in response to the wind whipping her face like lashes made of leather. She’d already done one utterly retarded thing that day, and maybe it had been for the best. Now she had to ask herself a very important question, key in discovering her true nature and the value of her soul. In order to complete this operation and do what was best for the safety of the world, was she willing to be as audacious and foolhardy as Shego?
Apparently, she was.
The Commander lunged forwards like a striking snake. Her assault was so sudden and unexpected that it didn’t leave nearly enough of an opportunity for the mercenary to capitalise on her threat to shove a fistful of plasma down her throat. If she had tried to, it would have been suicide, seeing as Skye was doing her best to steer the bike into the black, empty chasm surrounding the track, and somebody had to compensate for that.
Damn, they were willing to go all out to take her down permanently, weren’t they? Frantically, Shego tried to slow the bike down, but Skye was holding onto the handlebars as well, which prevented her from rolling them backwards. She squirmed, hoping it would knock the agent off of her, but her available range of motion was hopelessly restricted if she intended to keep all four wheels on the bitumen. Her concentration was split. She couldn’t move her gaze from the treacherous road ahead, and she knew that. As such, she didn’t even notice that a brown, gloved hand had crept down to the ignition and controls, disengaging the engine via the emergency cut-off.
The night fell quiet. The sound of heavy breaths, startled gasps and exhausted grunts became deafening in the veritable silence. The green girl succumbed to true alarm, steering wildly and without reason in the hopes that the system would respond. It did, and, in accordance with her actions, her steed crashed into the guardrail, tearing the pathetic iron sheet in two.
Two screams pierced the solid air as they plummeted down the mountainside, the trees Shego had been longing to find for her protection now deadly weapons poised to bring about her end. Even the smaller branches were capable of breaking bones at those speeds. Both women held on for dear life, endeavouring to remain on the quad for as long as they could, as it was all that protected them from an almost certain demise. Aside from that, if they weren’t on the machine, then what stopped it from turning against them and squashing their tiny frames with heavy metal rage? Not much except for luck and the grace of God, which was not to be trusted, except in hindsight.
A fallen tree trunk blocked their path. It could have been the end. Thankfully, their run of last-minute good fortune did not wane. The thick log smashed the front of the ATV, bringing it to a vicious halt. However, the impact was severe. The pair of enemies were launched over the obstruction and sent tumbling down the hill like slinkies and rag-dolls, powerless against the overwhelming strength of gravity. They rolled down the slope, head over heels.
This was not the way either had hoped to resolve the conflict and decide the victor. Shego, more experienced in physical adventures, attempted to reduce her speed by sliding feet-first, using her extremities to resist the ground and decrease her momentum. Sage, with her thick gloves to protect her hands, tried to grab onto anything that presented itself as a suitable life preserver. Neither tactic proved particularly successful.
At the time, it felt like their plunge was endless, an eternal prospect. It was as though the ravine went on forever, like they would never cease to fall without divine intervention. That was not the case, of course. Without warning, the woods seemed to reach an end, becoming clear. They hit a rocky surface that, in the blackness, seemed to be a cliff face with an unknown valley opening up below, its jaws hungrily waiting to swallow them whole, as they could see no land ahead. Again, they cried out in fright. One after the other, they flew off of the ledge and into a horrific freefall.
Neither one of them made peace with their imminent death in their suspension.
Simultaneously, they hit water. Deliverance flooded their spirits like the liquid cleansed their wounds, washing the dirt from their tired skin. Salvation. The small pool broke their surprisingly short drop. For the first time in an hour, both were still, free to be motionless.
Then recollection came along to destroy their fleeting moment of peace. The contest was alive and well.
Skye surfaced, loudly gasping for air and flinging her soaked hair away from her face. It was so dark. Like a distressed animal that had seen a telltale fin emerge from the depths, she fretfully searched for any sign of the deadly deviant. Unless she readied her glow, she didn’t think it would be possible to spot her, or anybody, through the global shadow.
In spite of her unbelievably heavy clothes, she dragged herself through the thick fluid towards the shore, which she could only identify because of the moon’s shy reflection on the ripples they had made. Even she, a strong swimmer, would probably drown unless her exhausted muscles touched the ground very soon. Warily, she clambered up onto the rocky beach, aware that a fight between the two would mean one fatality listed in the mission report would have Cmdr. listed next to it. That was not the right way to approach this, and neither was another chase. While her dense, woollen outfit was waterlogged, at least, she wouldn’t be going anywhere fast.
What to do?
Shego was still in the rock pool, watching her enemy with a hunter’s intense gaze, also planning her course of action. Her cat-suit did not retain water, so she could, in theory, stay there for a while, aside from one small problem which threw a spanner in the works; it was freezing! She hated the cold and water more than the average person did, as her core body temperature was a few degrees higher than normal. Already, she had begun to shiver and shake, hypothermia threatening to develop within minutes. There was little she could do about it now, except light up her hands with plasma and give her location away. But what was so bad about that? She hadn’t seen any evidence that the agent was a capable fighter, and she was only small. It sounded like a simple getaway from that point on; dispose of the leader and hide out in the wilderness for a few days, then head over to Vegas and blend in with the crowd. As long as this whole ordeal was over with, any plan would do.
Her skin burned as she cut through the water, desperate to get out. The cold cut through her nerves like blades carved out of ice, and she needed to get warm straight away. The second she could stand in the shallows, she ignited her palms, heat cascading over her like a loving embrace that she’d never known.
They faced each other, on guard. Skye perspired; the contrast between her cold forehead and the hot adrenaline in her veins left her stranded in temperature purgatory, each extreme one her sweat sought to rectify. The terror in her eyes was open for all to see like a sunflower opening at dawn. It stirred Shego’s bravado and self-confidence to its highest levels, giving her diabolical attitude the smirk that made it whole.
“Okay,” began the thief, her chest pumping, heaving back and forth as she recovered all the breath she had lost while plummeting, “Now that shit deserves a spanking!”
She leapt onto the pebbly shore, charging at her victim, who stumbled backwards, helplessly, looking utterly petrified as the terrorist advanced. It looked like Shego would encounter little resistance on this occasion. She would surely trample the agent with ease. But as with many things that had appeared obvious and certain, it was not to be the case.
At the last available second before they collided, Skye fell backwards, below the ruthless, green swipe. The weapon she was concealing in her hand was thrust hard and fast into The Target’s leg, piercing her suit and skin with ease, hitting its mark with precise aim. “Hey! You bitch! No fair. What the hell was that?” the villainess complained, coming to a stop and probing the afflicted area as if offended. The Commander did not stand straight away, nor did she answer her question. Her plan had come to fruition, unless some devil’s miracle occurred to take that away from her. No; all the miracles were working in her favour thus far.
Shego extracted the small blade from her body. She gazed at it, curiously, unsure what it was at first, but shortly realising that it was a needle. Then, it became painfully obvious that the pouch containing the drug dosage was empty, and her vision was starting to blur.
For a few seconds, she stood there, swaying, until her legs gave out and she collapsed into the dirt, her vision going black, her consciousness fading. Skye sighed in relief, almost crumbling under the burden of exhaustion herself. It was over, for now.
The terrorist threat had been neutralised.
Injuries Sustained: 30