Operation: White Hat

Chapter 2


1 - 2

TITLE: Operation: White Hat

AUTHOR: Designated

DISCLAIMER: I do not own anything affiliated with Kim Possible, nor do I own or belong to any military or federal organisations. It’s all a work of fiction which I do not intend to profit from, and all the characters belong to Disney, except for Skye Sage, who’s mine.

SUMMARY: The world is gripped by terror and held hostage under constant threat. The United States’ Government has a plan to neutralise an enemy cell intent on bringing ruin to the nation. This is how it unfolds.

TYPE: Kim/Shego

RATING: US: PG-13 / DE: 12

Words: 15380

Warnings: Still a lot of cursing. Probably some sexual innuendo, because that’s so Shego, as far as I’m concerned. Not enough to make it M yet.


To: The desk of Shadow General M.I. Gant, G.S.A.


In regards to Operation: Black Hat, Mission Accomplished. The report is enclosed within.

Target ‘Shego’ was arrested and brought into U.S. custody at approximately 01:45 hours. Phase two is also presently believed to have been successful. As is standard protocol, all proceedings were taped. You will find the tape attached to the relevant documents.

These reports and details have been or are being sent to your counterparts and fellow leaders. Dr. B. Director wishes to know when a meeting can be arranged to discuss these matters.

Col. Harold Marigold
This interview commenced at 08:13
Recorded and conducted by Cmdr. Skye Sage, Special Ops.

Shego hadn’t been asleep, per se, when they captured her and took her away. Whatever they hit her with, though it brought her down like gravity, it lacked the anaesthetic component to render her truly unconscious. Or perhaps she was just mildly resistant to it; she’d heard that alcohol consumption could affect one’s sensitivity to medications like that. A lady never divulges how much she drinks, but it shall be said that she drank enough to prove that she was no mere ‘lady’. The analgesia and muscle relaxants were in full effect, however, taking her mind and body off into happy land and leaving her with no idea as to what was taking place around her and making movement impossible as she was smuggled away through the night.

But that was hours ago. Since then, the drug dose had ceased to contaminate her system. In fact it should have worn off a long time before dawn. On a woman her size, it probably couldn’t have lasted much longer than an hour and a half. Light crept over the hills and high into the sky, but she did not stir.

At some point during their relocation, she had succumbed to exhaustion. The combination of mass energy exertion during the chase and a lack of proper sleep made it all too easy to drift off into dreamland after she’d been lying there, motionless, in the dark for an ample period of time. In other words, she fell asleep. She was out for the count, too. No amount of light triggered her senses into life. She didn’t give any signs of awakening. None whatsoever.

Not until eight o’clock in the morning when a group of agents who had not been seriously injured during the campaign got sick of waiting around for her to finish sleeping, at least.

Several of their friends, for all they knew, might not survive because of their enemy’s actions, and yet they were expected to provide her with every comfort an interrogation room could provide? How could they be expected to sit idly by and watch their commanding officers treat her like a guest in their home? That wasn’t right, and they would have no part of it. Accordingly, after a quick visit to the cafeteria and the janitor’s closet, although not in that order, they had every ingredient necessary to give Shego the warm welcome she deserved.

Creeping through the unguarded doors, giving the other conspirators conspicuous glances, the small band of soldiers approached their enemy. No cameras, no unaccounted for eye was there to witness their modest display of ingratitude. With the precise speed of a military salute, they tossed a bucket of ice onto her defenceless body and – not failing to forget her infamous powers, of course – promptly ran for their lives with their tails between their guilty legs, sheltering behind the safety of a space-worthy heatproof shield in the next room.

Alone now, Shego was jolted awake by the ice, which against her tropical skin caused sensations comparable to electric shocks and severe muscle contractions. “Fuck!” She roared, leaping off of her small bed, ready for action, sensing danger in every inch of her shrouded surroundings. Eyes were watching her from all angles; hands struck out at her flesh – or so her senses read. “Back off! Get away from me!” Instinctively, she lit up. That is to say, she tried to. She felt nothing.

Her adrenaline levels multiplied; her heart rate increased. She was caught in that basic self-perpetuating survival mode that proved the animal origins of man; fight or flight. In her blind agony, she also found that she couldn’t separate her hands or forearms, but she was not collected enough to realise the cause of that. Her mind was still weary, but her body was forcefully energised and moving of its own accord. It did not negotiate.

Her skin burned in the freezing cold, and she writhed erratically. Sweat was extracted as her core temperature began to dwindle, the enveloping wetness making the icy chill cling to her body, and slowly she emerged from the murky mist fogging up her mind. Her eyes began to see her environment. It was unfamiliar. She panicked with rejuvenated intensity.

This was not the spring beneath the cliff that damn near claimed her life. This wasn’t her lair. It wasn’t the last thing she saw before she got knocked out and she did not want to be there if she could help it. There was a grim air about this place. Residual energies, or even poltergeists if one were to believe in such things, suggested an all too horrible history. Bad things had happened here, too recently for her tastes, and the room threatened to claim her as its next victim.

Logic returned, gradually, as the features of her location began to stand out, not that there were many. She lunged towards the barely distinguishable door, seizing her only opportunity for escape. However, the handle just so happened to be out of reach. A few yards short, she felt a harsh tug on her wrists that refused to let her go forward and she fell to her knees, her upper and lower body no longer synchronised, throwing each other off balance. Her lips parted, silently begging to release a scream as the pain of the position she’d collapsed into threatened to dislocate her shoulders, but she did not move.

She felt like a dog on a leash, and her feelings were quite justified. Tentatively, Shego tilted her head back – she had to, seeing as her arms were suspended over her head and behind her back with the tether, taut, holding her body above the knee at a contorted forty-five degree angle of elevation from the floor – in order to gaze upon her restraints. Her forearms were bound by two thick, cylindrical, beige shackles, which weren’t separated, nor were they joined by a chain, but rather they formed a single object. It looked like the two tubes had been welded together somehow. They weren’t metal; they were too light to be steel, for certain. It was some kind of plastic, most likely; a strong, inflexible polymer. As her brain slowly drifted back into consciousness, she made a mental note that she would have to find out what this material was, because her captors clearly believed it was capable of repressing her.

If it was what she thought it might be, then she was truly screwed. When she was bored, she spent a lot of time channel surfing, and she’d heard on Discovery that they were using stuff like this to build bridges. She was no physicist, but she had an inkling feeling that she couldn’t exert forces to the magnitude of a few dozen motor vehicles, and she wasn’t entirely sure it would be a good thing if she could, as far as her striking looks, at least.

Cursing underneath a sigh, she hung her head. “Shit.” Through heavy breaths, the thief slowly started to calm down and recover lost equilibrium, remaining still nonetheless. The determination to endure what her enemies had created for her, in whatever way she could, did not wane, not even as she flexed her hands and saw that the gloves which concealed them were not her own.

Instead of the green and black that routine had prepared her see, she found her precious weapons, like herself, imprisoned in odd, mechanical contraptions. They were gloves – weren’t they? – but they were heavy, and certain segments appeared to be woven from a fine, wiry mesh. Few could comprehend the feelings she experienced when she believed her unequivocally valuable hands to be threatened, or why the sight of them, trapped, sparked a jolt that sent her heart into briefest arrhythmia.

Straining and gritting her teeth, she again attempted to ignite her fists, to no avail. If she’d failed to catch her tears, she would have cried then. There was no warmth. No familiar, comforting sensations that she came to take for granted over the years tickling at her fingers. She hadn’t thought it was possible, but somehow this organisation had successfully invented a contained dampening field for her plasma, or something of that sort. That broke her green and black heart.

“It’s not fair.” The thief spluttered, hit with the full weight of her solitude. They couldn’t just take her powers away. It wasn’t right! They didn’t understand what it meant. Only one analogy came close to describing her sense of loss, castration, and she would go so far as to parallel the two circumstances.

It was like a part of her soul had been banded; left to rot and drop off, dead matter. Hell, she didn’t even want to use the plasma to escape! She just wanted to create some heat; some happiness; some light. It didn’t take long before she recognised the futility of her fight and gave up. Vain she was, but she would not participate in a struggle of that nature, even if it was everything. She sighed, melodically morose in her melancholy musings.

The pain quickly became too intense for her to stand. An agonizing chill raked steel tipped nails up and down her spine. Her entire form was shivering, violently. Had it been possible for them to do so, anybody watching intently from the outside would have been convinced that she was having an epileptic seizure, due to her convulsions. It was so cold. Desperately, she squirmed and kicked out against the floor, nonsensical gasps and squeals flying from her lips as she clumsily pushed her body backwards, lessening the tension on the chain bit by bit. Eventually, she had enough slack to let her hands rest ‘comfortably’ on the ground. She curled up into a ball on the hard white floor, trying to conserve heat, shaking helplessly.

It was pathetic. She would never admit it; this fundamental weakness. No one knew, or, at least, she thought that no one did. She’d never let it show. Did they understand her vulnerability to cold? Had it been obvious, during the chase, that her suit protected her from the dry desert winds the night before, but that it could do nothing against the wet? Maybe she was just being paranoid. Either way, it didn’t do anything to improve her state. She opened her eyes again, not entirely shocked to be met with haggard beige instead of green and black. It was completely symbolic, of course; she wasn’t free anymore. She was a prisoner and at the mercy of these potentially dangerous strangers, who may have been trained to torture, for all she knew. These CIA, military types…nothing should ever be put past them.

She wondered if her kryptonite had been discovered and if her exposure to it was completely intentional. If they were specially conditioned in the fine art of suffering, then she wouldn’t be entirely taken aback. But she didn’t care about what they could do to her nearly as much as she cared about them knowing, especially when they had already taken her flaming, green soul from her defenceless grasp. It mattered; it mattered a lot. If anybody found out…then they had power over her…and she had none…

And it didn’t help at all, being huddled up like that, her wandering consciousness ascertained. She had narrowly protected herself against hypothermia last night, but it was all a waste of effort. There was nothing she could do to prevent it if she stayed like that, unless the roof caved in and showered her with sunlight. “For fuck’s sake!” she spluttered, pushing herself up and onto her feet, teeth chattering quietly, her scarcely coherent words explicitly describing the cruelty of her circumstances via profanity. “This is so lame!” Forget anything drastic, like firepower; she couldn’t even rub her hands together or warm up her skin with the friction they could create against her body, thanks to the excessive cuffs (more accurately called shackles). That was all she wanted, aside from a shot of vodka and a hole in the wall.

In place of actions that would be considerably more appropriate or effective, she began to pace back and forth, taking in her surroundings and analysing her ‘terrain’ in order to distract herself from the bitterness. Sure, she was being optimistic, but she knew from her substantial prison experiences that breaking out of small rooms had an art to it, and awareness was the first step to success. She was quick to observe that her ground was not advantageous. In fact, it was purposefully designed to leave its occupants at a sincere disadvantage.

It was bare, almost completely empty, except for a table in the middle of the room, three chairs and the now soaked utilitarian “bed” she’d woken up in, not including the hastily discarded bucket stranded on top of the ice cubes lying next to it. The walls were off-white. There were no windows. There wasn’t even one on the door. Initially, she internally commented upon the stupidity of such an omission. It was exemplary carelessness. What if she, or anybody else, broke free from their restraints and got into an ambush position near to the door? They could easily take one person out and make a run for it through the unsuspecting base, she thought! Where was the Plan B? She quickly realised, however, that they would be monitoring people in the room in order to prevent such disasters from happening, probably using some kind of heat-sensitive camera to do so.

Overwhelmed by it all, she slumped down into the available seat, which was small and some freaky kind of plastic different from that which oppressed her. Her head thumped against the table as she dropped it dejectedly. They got her. Her enemies had defeated her. She was cold and tired and alone and sick of it all. Her morale was in negative numbers. She didn’t see the point in it anymore; in resisting nothing.

“God I need a drink right now.” She sighed into her arms, some twisted combination of stressed and disconsolate, ready to bang her head incessantly against the desk if relief didn’t come soon. It didn’t, but something else did, and it sufficed.

Life entered the room, like an incredibly disappointing Genesis. The door opened, slowly, hinges creaking softly as it allowed the unidentified individual to pass through unopposed. Somehow, she got the impression that this wasn’t a cellmate. The entry was too easy, the arrival too conveniently timed, her isolation too important in breaking her down and disorientating her. Shego did not respond, deciding that she didn’t care enough to look up and face whoever they’d sent in to ‘interrogate’ her. As if she was going to go down with dignity; she had little left, thanks to the rags she was dressed in. She wasn’t going to cooperate at all, even if it meant acting like a child, ignoring the agent and refusing to rise. Furthermore, it was still freezing, perhaps even more so than it had been a few minutes ago. Her skin bubbled with minute bumps, huddling together for comfort under the tyrannical moisture.

With an intrusive loudness, almost bursting her distraction, the door shut, the locks clicking into place, sealing her in once more. “Interview commenced at 08:38 hours.” A strikingly familiar voice announced. In fact, it was damn near unforgettable, considering it was the key feature of the only determined identity the thief could associate with the previous evening. She straightened up immediately, for the first time getting a proper look at the woman responsible for bringing her in like an animal; the leader of the pursuit that almost took both of their lives. “Good morning, Shego.” Skye Sage acknowledged her presence sharply but pleasantly, ready for a far less hassling day at work than the previous one, maintaining a guise of neutrality which shielded her as finely and transparently as Glad Wrap.

“Fuck off, yappy.” Shego sneered in reply, exhibiting no such caution or diplomacy, and their stares locked through the dense atmosphere of contempt. It was so utterly thick one could almost see blackened particles of disdain being displaced by the light rays. An unspoken but obvious fact made its stance heard as they went silent; although the physical fight was over and the victor already etched in the stone tablet of history, the real battle was just about to begin. They sized each other up under the fluorescent light of day, psyching themselves up for the contest of wills promising to ensue.

With no mask or shadows to obscure her features this time, Skye’s true appearance took her rival by surprise, proving several of her presumptions false. The Commander was fairly young – for a leader, at least – as she had expected her to be from her voice, but nowhere near to the extent that she had previously believed. In fact, she seemed to be a couple of years older than the enigmatic villainess. An educated guess would put her in her early thirties, an estimate which wasn’t far from the truth. Actually, the agent was a few months shy of being a decade her senior, but her short stature and the fact that she was all but lacking certain female endowments made her look like some punk kid with prematurely aging skin, related to some hypothetical drug problem, perhaps. Yeah; that assessment about summed her up.

This was the chick who took her down? Surely not!

Her small body was even tinier without those thick layers of wool and retardant wrapped around her to fill in the gaps and empty space; no padding to deceive others of her fragile, almost sickly girth. There was nothing but the bagginess of her casual, faded pants to hide the fact that she was so slight and little more than memories from the previous night to convince the alleged terrorist that she wasn’t as tragically weak as she looked. Then again, she didn’t exactly remember her as being particularly strong – reckless, maybe, but definitely not strong – in any sense of the word, least of all physically. She wasn’t dangerously thin, to be fair – although she was pretty close, in the black-haired woman’s opinion – but it was quite a shock that the agent turned out to resemble a boy of around twelve, regardless, and a bit funny.

A smirk formed on her lips as she continued to harshly critique her enemy’s appearance. It looked like the officer hadn’t eaten in about three weeks, or slept in a similar time frame, either. She’d figured her for a stickler for the rules, a workaholic, and it was easy to picture her sitting at a desk late at night with a lamp on, nursing a stale cup of coffee as the stress rubbed her raw, keeping herself busy until she was worn down to the bone. Of course, having never employed anywhere near that much motivation or dedication in her life, the villain found it a rather comical concept and felt no empathy for the woman before her, irrespective of the reality of her guess. Why should she have to feel sympathy for annoying suck ups who did nothing but try to impress other people with their superfluous deeds and “accomplishments”? They chose their life. It wasn’t her business if they were stupid.

Back to the aforementioned annoying suck up, her otherwise quite attractive face was marred by subtle black half-moons appearing just under her eyes, although Shego thought their adventures last night could have played a part in causing that. She couldn’t recall whether she’d whacked her in the nose or not, but it was possible. There were a few telltale signs that she had suffered injury and the odds were distinctly in favour of them occurring during the chase; her left wrist was bandaged, a bruise beginning to show on her collarbone peeked out of her tight, long-sleeved top and she seemed to be favouring one knee, to say but a few. There had to be a few cuts hiding underneath her clothes, at least, in addition to the ostensible. No one walked away from such an ordeal unscathed, except perhaps a murderer vacating the scene of the crime.

Skye broke their staring contest, flicking her longish, straight but layered light brown – yet, in the light, vaguely grey, particularly around the edges – hair out of her face. She couldn’t waste time being petty and competitive; it wasn’t like her, even if this wasn’t the way she normally did her job. It didn’t change the fact that there were things to be done, plans to be set into motion. She regained composure and recovered her largely unaffected demeanour before many moments were lost. She approached the table, placing the tape-recorder and clipboard she was carrying down in front of her, standing opposite her glaring and shivering enemy in a far closer proximity than when they first met. “How are you feeling?” she asked with a touch of uncertainty, far less awkward in confronting the notorious woman than she was during said first encounter, probably due to the dramatically lessened likelihood of imminent death.

…Or not.

“Homicidal.” Said Shego, darkly, raising an eyebrow. She blinked as a drop of water ran down her pale, clammy forehead and into her eyes, reminding her of how cold she was. Her temperature had dropped so far as to make her sweat, the disgusting sensation of that putrid substance contaminating her hair and clothes further inciting her loosely contained fury. If only she could lunge forward fast enough, she was sure her hands had enough freedom of mobility to grab onto that slim neck and strangle the life from it, as long as nobody came running in too fast. Even if she got away, it would scare the bitch, at least…

The Commander nodded, not particularly intimidated by her indirect threat. “Noted.” She took hold of her chair and slid it back, preparing to take a seat, until she noticed how utterly drenched the evil woman was; black hair matted and wildly plastered to her face, as though it were tightly wrapped against her skull. Her usually rational brain reminded her that this was not a regular occurrence and decided that it warranted further investigation. “How did you…?” she started, trailing off before bothering to finish the query. Scratching the back of her head, she proposed a possible (but worrying) theory. “You didn’t go ‘flame on’ and set off the emergency sprinkler system, did you?”

The villain scoffed as dismissively as she could whilst in the grip of a spine-numbing frost, wishing that it was the case. Unfortunately, as it was, in her present condition, she couldn’t even light a match, or a cigarette lighter. “No.” She spat in an obnoxious, accusatory tone, raising her imprisoned hands to illustrate her point. “I’m betting your torture-happy goons out there decided I have the right to remain sleepless and hit me with the cheap hailstorm you see before you.” She cocked her head towards her former resting place, which was about as much energy as she was prepared to expend on the gesture. “I draw your attention to the fact that your people suck!” Skye glanced past her, examining the scene objectively, half-listening to Shego’s continuing rant as she reflected on the evidence. “You’d better have this mess cleaned up, and get me a dry bed while you’re at it, or I will have the human rights groups on your ass so fast that it’ll be months before the friction burns settle down enough for you to sit again. I swear, you do not want to see how scary t—“

“You’re right. They shouldn’t have done that.” Skye cut off her threat, sounding sincerely sympathetic to her plight, and she was. As much as they disliked each other, it was hard not to be concerned. It wasn’t pleasant to see the strong, enduring, tough and reputedly indestructible supervillain sitting there, more pale and green than usual, shuddering and quivering like an abandoned kitten left out in the pouring rain, even if she was an enemy of the nation. Besides, she had to keep the objective of this crucial operation in mind, and it required a bit of smooth talking, not senseless antipathy, and apathy just wasn’t in her vocabulary; she had to feel something. “Hold on.” She said, hatching an idea and hastily flying away to find food for it.

A question mark floated above Shego’s head, figuratively speaking, as she sat staring blankly at the door. It swung shut in the ash haired woman’s wake, leaving her clueless. What was happening? Was she going to bring in the perpetrators of her rude awakening and punish them for it? For something lame like that? Why? They were all on the same side; the one that wanted her dead. Shouldn’t their actions be rewarded with medals and other shiny things?

Since when did the U.S. Army have a pedantic angel on its shoulder? Seriously. This was getting creepy. She hadn’t been thrown into some parallel dimension, had she?

Skye returned in under a minute – just when Shego was prepared to get up and assume an evasive stance – closing the door with her foot as she was cradling a towel and a jacket in her arms and couldn’t use her hands. “I’m sure you can understand,” she began, crossing the room, completely oblivious to the suspicion and confusion emanating from the other occupant of the room, “Why they’d do something like that to you. I mean, you did put a lot of their friends in hospital, for who knows how long, and a few are in critical condition.” Including two people she knew quite well. “They’re not fans of your work.” The officer explained, concealing her anxiety as she gave the towel to the dripping villain, who warily accepted the favour and dried herself off as best she could. Maybe it was stupid, but she was too desperate to get some warmth back into her veins to turn down the conspicuous gesture of kindness. The ensuing short silence was an awkward one, which the officer could not help but fill. “…They’re new; they haven’t learned not to take it personally yet.”

“Oh, is that what you call it now?” Shego rolled her eyes mockingly, hardly believing what she’d heard. “They’re not sadistic assholes who have no conscience or compassion for humankind whatsoever; they’re just too sensitive!” her sarcastic remark was met by a contemplative pause for thought. Skye was moved, if only an inch, by her valid words and subsequently took them in, if not to heart, deciding that they were worthy of future inquiry. “I didn’t know you military types were so into Dr. Phil.”

She, being the only ‘military type’ present (Navy, to be precise), shrugged, scratching the back of her neck, as was her habit. Although she didn’t let anything indicative of distraction show, as she was reluctant to give the impression that her concentration had wavered, she subtly kept a ‘safe’ distance in case an unannounced strike flew her way during a perceived opportunity, but she didn’t let that become excessively apparent either. She wasn’t about to invest any faith in the terrorist being civil with her, or even vaguely conversational, but she was supposed to act like it.

As far as she was concerned, this accursed pretence would only worsen Shego’s spite, no matter how professional she was at playing her hand, and how skilfully she bluffed. “Well, I don’t know about other parts of the military, but Special Ops doesn’t have any sociopaths. They weed them out in the psychological evaluation.” Responded the operative matter-of-factly, flying the proverbial flag for her team with a childlike grin.

The towel-smothered chuckle aimed her way went unheard. “I think they missed one.” The thief quipped under her breath, smirking at her private remark. Fortunately, the makeshift cloak stopped her interrogator from detecting her humour while she was lost in her irrelevant train of thought. Who was she, their spokeswoman? It was the perfect career for a loser who wouldn’t shut up. Awkwardly, she tried to dry her hair in spite of the bonds that, positioned as they were, prevented her from performing the simplest of tasks. She encountered limited success, needless to say, secretly glad that her presently benevolent captor wasn’t paying attention while she was so dependent on her mercy.

But the Commander didn’t let herself become distracted for too long, her focus (in more ways than one) returning to the vaguely damp prisoner sitting several paces before her. “Here; take this.” Arm extended, she offered the jacket to Shego, who wordlessly glared at her as though endeavouring to remotely microwave her internal organs and she, effectively, flung the soggy towel in her face. Skye optimistically assumed that her antagonist’s expressions of spite came about because she couldn’t actually wear the jacket while her arms were bound, nor could she put it around her shoulders under her own power, and that should have been obvious, really. One of those problems could be instantly rectified, at least. “Sorry, but I can’t uncuff you just yet; that would be pretty stupid, right?”

The dark green demon frowned; she had a point. She didn’t advertise herself with any particularly charismatic salesmanship, did she? Really, who would want to pick her up from the shelter and give her a good home when putting her down was the quickest way to shut her up? The insinuation made her bristle.

“It would be. But then again, so are you. So maybe you should.” She suggested venomously, adding, “It suits you,” to make it clear that she wasn’t going to fall prey to her ‘play nice’ strategy. Did they really believe she would let herself be manipulated like some emotionally retarded Swedish hippie in the middle of a bank robbery? It was too forced; the agent’s peppy demeanour just didn’t fit, regardless of how hard they pushed it into the keyhole.

“And my jacket suits you.” Skye replied, hanging the garment over her determined nemesis’ back, as though it were a robe or a cape, or as if she were a hairdresser preparing her client for the cut. She wouldn’t allow herself to be baited by her blatant impudence, which was an enviable skill to master, particularly in light of her career. She wasn’t necessarily always good at ignoring jibes like those, though, and she would admit that, begrudgingly. In fact, she often found dealing with people – particularly when she didn’t understand them – quite frustrating, because she wasn’t very good at it. Generally, her enduring, positive attitude only applied when she was doing her job, and she was. “Sorry if it’s a bit tight on you, but it does help. I got straight into it after we were picked up from the rock pool and it worked wonders warming me up then.”

Her seething anger hit a brick wall and abated momentarily; long enough to think with a moderately heightened clarity. Shego felt confused and mildly conflicted as she sat there, the victim of apparent saintly generosity, damp black strands of hair falling in front of her narrow eyes. It sucked, not getting the rise out of her that she was probing for. She didn’t like this; being inferior. Her banter worked best when she was equal to or above her opponents, and she genuinely enjoyed it then. But there, she had no power, no authority, no control. Thus she was reduced to childish defiance, and not even that was working, because this wasn’t the treatment she expected, especially not from the talky bitch.

She hated her, this and everything for a while there, in the confines of that room. But that didn’t manifest itself to any significant degree until a little later.

Uncertain as to what was going on, she continued to react to the situation as she understood it, hoping that the details would become clear along the line without the need for any constructive input on her part. “I want my lawyer.” Shego stated calmly and firmly, tapping one finger against the desk to emphasise her demand. Skye blinked, but appeared otherwise unimpressed. That response didn’t seem promising. The villain cleared her throat. “I’m not giving you anything until I get my lawyer.” The criminal slumped back into her chair and adopted a relaxed posture as effectively as she could, what with her uncomfortably shackled wrists. The weight of the bonds, though not terribly cumbersome, forced her to keep her hands on the table, which left her elbows bent at a particularly awkward angle.

“You don’t need one. There isn’t a lot you need to give us, either.” The operative insisted, rounding the table at a leisurely pace as she continued. “Although if you do have a couple of incriminating details you’d like to share with me – in the spirit of the holiday season, of course – that would be nice.” A disbelieving snort quickly throttled the life out of that idea. No sale. And that was no surprise. Aside from the glowing green skin, her appearance and personality by no means advertised an individual of a festively inclined nature. “I’m sure you’d be thoroughly rewarded?” She tried, optimistically, fiddling with her sleeves.

A green glare met her line of sight as she looked up, having taken a seat directly opposite the terrorist in custody. Skye shrugged, indicating that she hadn’t expected the offer to work and didn’t care that it failed. It was no great loss. Everybody that Shego could possibly betray, they already knew the whereabouts of and they had plenty of evidence of their unsavoury and ostentatious deeds. Honestly, the only reason she bothered to give her the option of snitching was so they could start to build up a thin foundation of mutual tolerance and get the conversation rolling. It wasn’t worth much.

“I’m not going to talk if I don’t get a lawyer.” She maintained stubbornly, willing to hold onto that last shred of influence and dignity until it crumbled into ashes in her mighty palm. “So, unless you’re just here to gossip, this interview is over.” The villainess declared with a snarl, leaving no room for debate or discussion. Her decision was final. She kicked her legs up into the air and brought her feet down onto the desk, ‘complacently’ resting in her favourite position while she stewed in malcontent.

“Okay.” Replied Skye with an unflinching smile, apparently accepting her terms, which was a surprisingly good-natured compromise in light of the circumstances. But it soon proved to be the contrary.

Despite her professed agreement with Shego’s options, she did not move, and neither did the criminal. And that didn’t change until the latter began to feel painfully conscious of that fact. Few knew that there were two things the violent vixen honestly couldn’t bear; one was being forced to sit and stare at people while they were doing nothing, and the other was being stared at by people when she was doing nothing, and didn’t know what they were thinking. It made her anxious. She adjusted her pose, worried, in the back of her mind, about her appearance, what messages she was communicating unintentionally via body language, but willed herself to settle on one position.

Skye just watched her, unreadable, but confident and happy to sit there, patiently anticipating…something…

The thief cleared her throat, which was noticeably dry, as she wondered how long it had been. There was no need for a ticking clock to alert them to the passage of time, which drew on to reach uncomfortably copious proportions pretty quickly. Shifting in the silence, if only to speed up the process of enduring nothing, they took turns in filling the room with some sense of noise or normalcy, and it served to spread a greater presence of tension.

They weren’t going anywhere and each woman was keen to make that known. Simultaneously, both ladies buckled down like rivals in a duel poised to draw their pistols, meeting eyes, ready to wait the other out. Mutual confirmation was achieved. It was on; the battle of wills.

A minute passed in complete silence, then another, and yet another. Probably a few more, in fact; it was hard to know. Shego, still suffering from the slowly evanescing burden of cold, couldn’t put up with it any longer than that; sitting there, powerless, with that hazel stare constricting her freedom to think. It was marginally less annoying than her concept of a personal hell. Her facial features began to contract, forming a barely visible scowl, the stress manifesting in her features. She had to do something. She needed to know what her enemy knew. She needed to smack that bitch in the fucking face too, if she was ever to breathe a sigh of relief, but gathering information would suffice until she could escape.

Why hadn’t she left? What was happening and why wasn’t she informed? All of these questions were fusing together and accumulating velocity, and she was beginning to feel painfully self-conscious. “You can go now.” The thief rudely reminded her, but the brunette hadn’t forgotten that was an option, nor was she waiting for permission to depart.

“No thanks. I don’t mind waiting.” She declined her offer with a content smile on her lips, feigning naivety to the suspect’s mounting ire, and it was mounting like a stud during springtime in a field full of fillies. Skye grabbed the pen and clipboard she’d brought into the room earlier and began to scribble on the paper with purpose, as if hunkering down, preparing to pass the time. It was clear who would last the longest; Shego was never one for endurance. In her opinion, patience was for people who were unambitious, indecisive or inexperienced. Consequently, her rage peaked in a matter of seconds.

Were it not for the gloves that somehow prevented her from converting hopes and dreams into reality, green fury would have poured from her hands and set the table alight. Largely because she was incapable of such things, she was pointedly ignored and left to wallow in vain, like some selfish, spoiled kid indulging themselves. The glorified, overpaid cops that had taken her in were deliberately making her feel stupid, Shego convinced herself. It was working too.

However, a voice of rationality broke into her thoughts and said that it wasn’t her fault that it was getting to her. How could she possibly know what was happening unless they let her know? They didn’t really expect her to have a clue, and if they did then that was theirproblem, not hers. But she knew better; they wanted to confuse her. Whether they liked it or not, she wasn’t going to play along until their intentions were spelled out in bright neon letters and someone shoved a huge map of alternatives in her face and pointed at a little red dot that said ‘You are here’.

Until then? Well, misery loved company, and she was beyond miserable. The Commander had said she was perfectly happy to wait and the thief had nowhere else to go, so why not take her up on that offer? If there was one thing she was good at, it was testing people’s patience, and everyone ran out of that eventually.

Knocking her heel against the desk with not-so-subtle force in order to disturb the brown-haired woman’s pen (and failing to get her attention), Shego yawned and ostensibly made herself at home, figuring that she could beat the interrogator at her own game, even if it took a while. How long did she have to be stuck in there, though? They certainly weren’t in a hurry to get her to confess, or even to ask her any questions. Curious.

“Are you writing me up?” asked the pale woman, exhibiting tenuous composure, tilting her head back and staring up at the ceiling, not quite as bored as was suggested by the manner of her behaviour. “You might as well charge me already, since you went through all that fucking effort to catch me.” She laughed confidently, allowing herself to revel in the fact that she was such a special priority, and almost got away with it too. The agent looked up, oddly, before shaking her head and returning to her scribbles, and the criminal felt a surge of dark passion rush through her, as if she’d just been slapped. “Seriously, you’d better have a bullet-proof case against me ‘cause I’m not saying shit. You shouldn’t need me to if you were that keen to take me out.”

“We’re not going to charge you.” Skye mumbled almost inaudibly, repeating herself more coherently upon the wordless, questioning tone that echoed her revelation. “At least, we’re not going to, as long as everything goes according to plan. There’s not much point.” It was enigmatic, and she knew it. Dancing around the truth was really all she could do, and she was getting sick of it, too. It had to be done, though; if she came straight out and admitted the purpose of this operation, she was sure that it would collapse under the pressure of her overly keen grasp and all hope of attaining the desired results would be no more than stains on her fingertips.

No…the ruthless rogue had to be desperate, damn near broken before she dealt the final hand. The woman, as of yet, still didn’t understand the trouble she was in and how her deeds, riding on the back of a vengeful elephant named karma, had come back to haunt her, proving that her lifestyle was her greatest adversary – unless of course she proceeded to blame those who caught her. And, perhaps, when this became clear, that helplessness would strike her down from atop the pedestal of pride, and she would beg for salvation. The world would be a different place once the cataclysmic sound of the pin falling to the floor fell upon the deaf ears of the universe, and all that remained would be silence.

Shego scoffed in disbelief, drawing her own meanings from what was left unsaid. “Yeah, right. In other words, you’ve got nothing on me.” A hiss that sounded suspiciously like ‘retarded’ followed her accusation. Poor girl; she was clueless, wasn’t she? Delivering this merciless blow would be simultaneously satisfying and agonising.

“Well we do,” began Commander Sage, a little hesitantly with her heart pounding, gently holding the end of her pen to her lips, wary of the words she was poised to utter; the coming statement was an essential point in her mission, and she didn’t think she was the right person to deliver the news, although she knew why she was chosen to conduct this interview, “But it doesn’t matter whether we do or don’t.” The thief sat straight up, blinking incredulously as she absorbed the completely serious expression aimed her way like a sponge in a spill. She was about to call her out on what sounded like a completely outrageous claim, but was cut off before she even opened her mouth. “You’re here on suspicion of being and aiding a terrorist threat, remember? We can hold you indefinitely without filing charges or even producing much evidence.” She shrugged, nonchalantly. “You have no rights; only privileges that I choose to give you. And I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for that lawyer, either.” She said, rather brightly, going back to her pad of paper. “So you can sit there as long as you want. Not even a haemophiliac’s heart would bleed for a girl like you.”

For a few seconds, she was stunned by that new information. However, the imbalance of knowledge quickly spiralled into a chasm of infinite fear and denial; the perfect ingredients for a desperate, violent outburst. “Are you fucking crazy?!” she screamed, the air ripped from her lungs as if bewitched by a malevolent spirit’s spell. She’d hit her boiling point with much the same intensity as she smashed her fists into the edge of the table, which catapulted across the floor like a striking snake into Skye’s torso, knocking the air out of her and leaving a foot long scratch on the ground material. As the small soldier recovered from almost choking on her own throat and stumbled off of her seat in accordance with the instinct to escape danger, Shego shot up and flung the table aside, giving her an open line of attack.

Luckily, in her blind, dizzy disorientation, the Commander had managed to stagger out of range from the villainess, finding the wall with her flailing hands, clutching at it as though it would protect her. But she wasn’t safe. Too determined to let her enemy walk away without sustaining serious injury in the attempt, Shego’s unchained feet found the underside of her chair, lifting it up into the air and launching it at the near defenceless woman with a vicious kick that was as loud as a whip crack in the small, enclosed chamber.

At the last second, her barely focused eyes registered the incoming projectile and, in a panic, she managed to gracelessly fall out of the way, basically tripping over her own feet in fortunately timed clumsiness. She avoided the majority of the blow, but the flimsy wooden chair exploded upon impact. Debris scattered in every direction, and one of the legs came clean off, smacking Skye in the arm and the side of the head after it ricocheted.

Her head churned. Her arm throbbed. Deftly, she probed the spots where she had been hit, checking for blood, but she found her skin intact. That was a relief, even as her sensory and motor capacity was temporarily hindered from the blows. In the heat of the frenzy, she almost forgot that she could escape with ease.

For a few terrifying moments, Shego fumed with rage, shaking on the spot, debating whether or not to continue her small scale rampage. But she relented, content with the mayhem she had already caused, and also one still adequately functional part of her brain reminded her of the unspecified quantity of army personnel and secret agents roaming around (what she assumed was) a base, full of pointy sticks and semi-automatic weapons that they would be happy to use on her, particularly when given the obligation, as well as the opportunity. Somewhat reluctantly – her negative attitude expressed by a beastly growl – she backed off, skulking away towards the back of the room, her chains clinking caustically in the thick fog of conflict as she drifted about before eventually settling on the far wall for her location. She dropped back against it, grumpily, with a soft thud.

Thrown off by the sudden assault and spinning from a rush of adrenaline which had yet to ebb, the Commander sat still for a short time, regaining equilibrium and wondering whether she should call for assistance or not. She knew this was her job, however; it was her target – and honestly, the outrage at her recently lawful imprisonment was hardly unprovoked. She should have anticipated it.

Nursing a slowly developing bruise on her upper arm, Skye warily elected to examine the situation, glancing upwards and locating the hostile captive immediately. Unashamed of her actions, but visibly seeking the solitude and space to relieve some discontent that both persisted in eluding her, Shego was unwilling to face her victim. Instead, she stared rigidly aside, into the corner, holding back the thoughts and emotions poking at her consciousness. A dismal effort; it was all she had to give that wouldn’t worsen her dilemma.

Fearing it might bring about further anger, the officer was reluctant to speak. She didn’t know if she was allowed to make a sound, but there was nowhere she could go without breaking the silence, and she wasn’t about to get up and leave without ascertaining the woman’s state of mind. So she did, albeit quietly. “Feel better?” she queried, pathetically, again wishing that she didn’t suck at these new tasks her superiors had stuck her with. It wasn’t her expertise. Why didn’t they pull one of those young, hotshot jerks who loved the sound of their own voices and were firm believers in their own invulnerability?

“No.” The villainess admitted in a whispering groan. Whatever she had aimed to achieve, it had failed. “Well, okay, for about five seconds after I hit you, I felt fucking amazing.” She amended her earlier response, laughing under her breath, restoring some sense of her usual personality and that trademark smirk that made her seem unhinged was present. On second thought, “Actually, yeah; I feel much better!” It was totally worth it. She sincerely couldn’t stand this operative, and it felt as good as a quickie in a nightclub to release her vehemence on the older woman; to wipe off that stupid look and get some revenge for being thrust into this hell. “Bitch.” She muttered, before coming to the obvious conclusion that they deliberately shafted her with the agent she was most inclined to hate, and presently did. “Why are you here anyway?”

“What? At a military base?” she asked in return, genuinely confused about her meaning, but unwittingly confirming her enemy’s suspicions as to her detention, which was a good thing for her noble cause. Skye, like Atlas, shrugged. “I’ve been deployed here because it was really close to your hideout.” She answered, very nervously, as she got to her feet, resembling the awkward, verbally uncoordinated operative who approached her and took her down the previous night.

“No! That’s not what I meant!” She spat, and she instinctively went to wave her hands dismissively. But, as she was standing on her chain, it caught halfway and her hands jerked against the tight restraints. She nearly tripped herself, but avoided such an embarrassing outcome by compensating for the overbalance. “God; why won’t you shut up and listen to me for once? What I meant was why are you the one in here…with me…seriously?”

Skye automatically wanted to respond with ‘It’s a secret’ because it was until they got the former sidekick to feign collusion. Instead, she settled on an insecure chuckle and a, “Why? Don’t you like me?” as she pulled up a not yet destroyed chair and sat atop it, retrieving her clipboard and pen from the floor, deciding to pretend the attack never occurred, although the accidental fumbling of the pen betrayed her anxiety.

Of course, the truth was that Shego didn’t like her at all (it was pretty clear by that stage that there was no point in even pretending to hide the mutual disdain that materialised into a viscous fluid in the thin air between them) and the instant it became obvious that this annoying rival wasn’t about to give her the satisfaction of reacting to her bad behaviour, she made it her goal to toy with her until one of them snapped…or until she felt better, possibly. But she didn’t need to tell her any of that. “Well, you did try to kill me.” She reminded the soldier, visions of the handlebars being jerked towards the guardrail on the mountain path last night entering her head, losing control of the steering as they flew off the road.

“Correction.” The agent interrupted her flashback, raising an index finger, her mannerisms similar to those of a somewhat stereotypical teacher. And it was a justified objection; the intent of the operation had never been to kill the young woman. She was the one who put herself at risk by her actions. “You tried to kill me. I tried to kill both of us.”

Shego sneered in spite of her veracity, sheltering against her recovered attitude like a flickering ember in the darkness. “Who the fuck do you think you are?” she demanded to know. Her eyes narrowed as she comprehended her own question. Had she really gone all this time without knowing exactly who she was? She realised that, yes, in fact; she had. “Who the fuck are you, anyway?”

Compliantly, she identified herself as if regurgitating a bad habit, speaking in an impersonal, forceful and matter-of-fact tone. “I am Commander Skye Sage of the United States’ Navy and the Global Security Alliance, Special Operations.” The alleged terrorist raised an eyebrow; she really wasn’t kidding about the military thing, was she? And here she’d thought it was a bluff. If she’d saluted, the image would be complete. “I work with the CIA too, not that I can really tell you anything else about my role there at this time.” She added, nodding secretively and delivering something of a stage whisper across the room. “It’s very hush hush.” She smirked, playing dumb quite convincingly. The contained hostile, for one, was sceptical that it was ever an act.

“Oh hush hush yourself!” The thief hissed, causing the officer to blush, vaguely, once again divulging her disestablished confidence. Shego realised it then. All this, whatever transpired between them, every action, every word and gesture they made; it was a game. She hadn’t been playing. God knew how many turns she had wasted.

Her breathing slowed; it was a technique she learned in her spare time, not that she was one for anger management normally. She calmed. Her mind sharpened and her wits, at long last, collected.

As the intense sensation of uncensored feeling that had clamped down upon her at the observance of her sustained ignorance abated, Shego gathered the gall to look at her opponent once more. Surprisingly, when she saw her, sitting there, alone and – not very secretly – a touch too intimidated for a professional, and after the thief gave her predicament some less than rational thought, she was taken by a slinking undercurrent of…joy. It was shallow, but joy nonetheless. She was in control. Well, sort of. Perhaps it was just comforting to understand her predicament and to realise that someone was still scared of her, even with her proverbial jaws taped shut. There was the distinct likelihood of this ‘interview’ extending beyond the reach of forever, or, at least, running longer than the agent’s patience would hold. That meant something very important had just been tossed into her hands; Shego would be the one to decide when it was over, how long it would take to get what they wanted, and when they got the results they were waiting for.

‘Yappy chick’s got her work cut out for her.’ She thought with a sinister smile, like a proud cat toying with its prey until it tired and gave up. The scent of victory had already tantalised her senses and focused her unquenchable desire. It was now trained on that pungent aroma that forever escaped her by the scantest of measures.

She would not fall to the same opponent twice, especially not when her first defeat was unclean; a fluke of colossal proportions. Totally. God, why the hell did good guys get all the luck? It just wasn’t fair!

Much to Skye’s bewilderment, green-tinted, painted black lips widened into a broad grin, not at all to be expected so soon after her grim disclosure; wasn’t that supposed to worry her? Wasn’t she furious a second ago? Why was she so much happier and, uh, smirkier after the announcement than she had been since she woke up? “So what are you doing then?” asked Shego, rocking back and forth in a way that made her chair bounce like a low-rider fitted with hydraulics. “Your homework?”

In an instant of nervousness, the agent stuttered, failing to register the question, taken aback by the thief’s sudden onset of confidence. It was not a good omen. Her wiry muscles tensed in case of another sudden attack, prepared to make a run for the door, if it was necessary, unable to think of anything else (other than an evil plan) that would lead to such a wide, sadistic grin. Her reverie broke with a snap when it became apparent that she’d paused way too long. “Oh…no.” She said eventually, blushing slightly, lifting up her clipboard and showing off her project like a shy pre-school kid. “It’s a pony.” And it was, the little sketch was rough but distinctive in shape.

Shego snorted, choking her oncoming laughter before it made ground. “Cute.” She drawled with a sinister glaze of loathing coating her sarcastic tone as she crossed the room.

“Thanks.” Skye replied for lack of anything better, covertly flummoxed. Her fingers brushed aside her wayward fringe, hooking it neatly behind her ear. This wasn’t going quite as she’d…well, actually, it wasn’t anywhere near what she had planned. She had doubts as to whether or not she was even in the right dimension anymore. She would have to rethink her original strategy. But how? What should her new approach be? Should she be more direct in addressing the goal of this operation? Perhaps it would be best to engage with her on a more professional level, talk to her like an equal. ‘Easier said than done.’ She remarked internally as her thoughts were interrupted by the criminal’s loud complaints about the state of what was once her bed. It was hard to treat someone with respect when they had none whatsoever themselves.

“Oh this is just great.” She whined, picking up her soaked blanket and weakly trying to wring out the water, which wasn’t possible given her wrists’ entrapment, causing her to sigh in frustration and abandon her efforts almost immediately. “See, this is why I don’t believe you when you say you don’t hire psychopaths. I mean, do normal people go into another person’s room while they’re asleep and fucking piss all over their sheets?” She asked, rhetorically, throwing her covers to the floor in a huff. “Yeah, I didn’t think so.” The green skinned deviant snorted. “Either the ‘horrors of war’ fucked your little boys up in the head, or else your Government-y people in management hire crazies!”

The soldier shifted about under the scrutiny of two green eyes – in which she saw something she associated pretty closely with crazy, mind you – and cleared her throat as she fell back into her role. “I, uh, I thought you said they threw a bucket of ice water on you?” she reminded her, in the tone of a query, still in the process of figuring out her course of action from that point onwards.

The rogue shrugged, clutching at her thin, uncovered, spongy pillow – clearly designed to prevent detainees from hiding weapons. “It’s the principle of the thing.” She commented, the waterlogged material dripping all over her bare feet in the meantime. Cold; that was not good. “Think fast.” Shego said nonchalantly as she flung the heavy pillow at her foe. Skye barely had enough time to raise her arms and deflect the incoming weapon, which would have undoubtedly whacked her in the head at least hard enough to destroy her equilibrium for the next little while. “Oh, I forgot,” the younger woman began, her hands in front of her lips to conceal her snickering at least long enough to share the punchline, “That’s very hard for you, isn’t it?” she couldn’t hold out any longer, collapsing into a fit of laughter and falling to the floor in sheer mirth. She was alone, in that regard.

“Eh heh heh.” The Commander responded sarcastically, sporting an attitude that the green vixen had never seen her wear before. Suffice it to say, it looked too big on her. “I get it; you think I’m a retard. Now grow up and sit the hell down.” She ordered, getting mighty sick of this, and getting up in umbrage, largely to provide a cool down period so that she wouldn't snap. Why wouldn’t this bloody woman behave like a normal, reasonable, deranged, homicidal terrorist? Marching like she’d just come out of training, she went over to the table, picked it up onto all fours and started pushing it back towards the centre of the room.

She’d had it with this stupid tennis match. Playing nice just had the villain treating her like an idiot. They were going to get serious, or else she was going to fetch a replacement from somewhere out back to come in and deal with this overzealous child of a villain.

How in the blue hell was she supposed to negotiate with somebody that neither respected her nor had the capacity to act mature, even when their future was at stake? To point out the obvious, this wasn’t working! By that stage, she couldn’t wait until this part of the mission was over and done with. At least then she could return to her old job, which she loved. The operative sighed; she missed her life in Europe already, and even, to some extent, the terrorist cells she had infiltrated and gathered intelligence on. At least they didn’t spend their time coming up with ways to piss her off. She understood them. ‘Don’t like ‘em, but I know ‘em.’ Meanwhile, a dark and appraising stare – partially responsible for this small scale outburst – studied her movements, gauging whether or not the moodswing was genuine and, if so, worthy of note or not. Furthermore, in open defiance of her command, she hadn’t budged. If she’d fucked up, she’d soon know about it.

Once Skye felt the table was adequately restored to its rightful place, she addressed this unacceptable failure to comply. “Sit.” She instructed in a firm tone, her voice resonating with signs of a power that her physical frame just didn’t fit. There was no room for argument left, her index finger pointing strictly at her captive’s designated seat, like a cane.

Shego’s eyes narrowed to slits, wondering where and when this sudden burst of moxie had found its proverbial balls. It was largely due to the imposing, dominant and authoritative manner in which she spoke now that she assumed whatever was behind this confidence was not a bluff. It wasn’t worth the risk. She didn’t like to be wrong anyway. After all, if the agent was truly as angry with her as she looked, she had weapons, and the villainess was essentially defenceless. Besides which, the talky bitch was kind of scary for a while there.

Eventually, she advanced, slowly, unnaturally, as if being physically forced to approach her seat, which she dropped into, semi-obediently. Cmdr. Sage remained standing staring down at her with a thinly disguised intensity, which probably wouldn’t last very long. Unlike the thief, she was not normally prone to frustration. It didn’t suit her very well; coping with it was a definite weak point that she’d have to go over with a caulking gun, to put it nicely. “Now,” she began, resting her hands on the slightly dented table, “I want to make something very clear to you.” Shego squirmed in her chair like a truant before the principal, or a disciplinarian parent, when their sentence of ‘serious trouble’ was pending announcement, but in the back of her mind, she was planning how to free her hands and get her powers back from the void. No ideas were coming through, but she was trying, and that had to count for something. “There is to be no more physical violence from you, or else there will be consequences that you will find very disagreeable with the limitations of your body. And if you thought getting ice water dumped on you was cruel and unusual punishment, you don’t want to know what I can order my subordinates to do to you – with perfect legality, mind you. And, believe me;” a small smile graced the lips which bore this foreboding omen of warning, “They’ll be all too happy to follow that little instruction.”

…Yeah, okay, that was scary; more so than the lame, clichéd ghost stories her brothers used to try and scare her with when they were young. “’Kay.” Nodding to indicate her understanding of the rules, the suspect in custody was more than happy to comply. It was more trouble than she was worth anyway, wasting her energy on a futile blow that would only serve to deepen her condemnation to an already hopeless future. Besides, (and she was keen to note this) she hadn’t said anything about engaging in verbal confrontation, and that was her sustenance. “You really like the sound of your own voice, don’t you, uh, Skye, was it?” she remarked, before trailing off into a brief detour called distraction. “Hmm…Skye…Skye the Spy…Spy in the sky…with diamonds…” There was plenty of fodder for unwanted nicknames there. She would have to find a good one before she was through.

The aforementioned spy shrugged flippantly. “Beats yours.” She retorted, referring of course to the raven-haired woman’s voice, her quip evoking an insincere ‘Oooooh’ from her newly adopted rival. The agent shook her head in ostensible disbelief, playing into this psychological pissing contest. “I don’t think anyone’s done that to me since high school.” She commented, mockingly, leading the criminal to decline to bother with a reply this turn. “In spite of that,” the Commander softened as she took up residency in her chair once more, “I hope you’re going to act maturely from now on, and perhaps we can have a nice, adult conversation.”

The alleged terrorist blinked, pulling a face after a long pause. “Yeah, you know what? Uh uh…” The operative was actually a little stunned by her suspect’s rather unexpected insubordination, considering that her heavy threat from a minute ago should still be fresh, never mind the fact that she openly admitted unwillingness to act her age. Here she thought she could appeal to her ego. Perhaps it was simply so big that it simply couldn’t hold anymore weight without bursting apart at the seams, like so many tight jeans. A devious smirk tugged at the lips of the sinister, seductive supervillain, calling all focus back to her performance where it belonged. “But…you and I can certainly get a little more…adult…if you want, Spicy.” She drawled, crawling onto the table at a leisurely pace in a manner that – in typical Shego fashion – was beyond suggestive, but not quite to the point of being in bad taste. She might as well have been acting in the set up to a cheesy, low-budget porn movie. Something about her reeked of sexuality, both literally and figuratively.

For some reason, she wasn't taken aback when the innuendo swooped right over poor old Skye's head, even as she purposefully directed her gaze up and down the officer’s body – in her opinion, there was nothing special there to stop and linger on – from her vantage point upon the tabletop. “Excuse me?” in a well-placed, educated guess, the short brunette assumed she was supposed to be offended, and, as such, her tone carried an air of defensiveness without understanding why it was due. “I don’t know what you’re talking abo—“ at the last second, she caught on, freezing mid-word as the implications slowly sank in. “…Oh…” After a few more moments of doubt, her eyes went wide; the sexual meaning behind her actions had suddenly registered somewhere in the back of her mind. “Oh!” she uttered yet again, decisively, signalling comprehension. As it became painfully obvious that she had just been propositioned, a wave of red shot through her face and she stuttered out her rather frenzied objection. “NO!” It showed; she was deeply unsettled by the concept alone, not to mention her surprise forwardness.

Shego’s grin only widened. This was fun; anybody who didn’t appreciate the entertainment value in shameless flirting was missing out on a good quality, free of charge show. Crossing her legs behind her and resting her chin on her symmetrically spread hands, like a teen at a sleepover, she merrily revelled in the reactions she could provoke. “That’s a shame, because I could show you a lot of things that are definitely for mature audiences only.” The utterly horrified stare that she found not at all far in front of her was as priceless as at least some of the artefacts she’d stolen throughout her career. Hell, this was almost too easy, but that hardly discouraged her; as if she was going to quit when her enemy of the month was so affected by these harmless taunts. “You’re mature, aren’t you, I spy, with my little eye, Skye the spicy spy in the sky?” deftly, like a serpent, she slithered further along the table in a smooth, fluid motion, encroaching upon the uncomfortable interrogator’s personal space, violating her room to inhale.

When she’d come too close for comfort – those lecherous orbs quickly getting within a foot of her – she held up her clipboard, wielding it like a shield in between them. “Stop that!” She demanded, resisting the urge to move a few metres further away from the madwoman and ignoring the sensations in her legs which begged her to use them in constructing a speedy retreat. The logical centre of her brain interfered with the prevalence of obscure impulses flooding her system, effectively saying, ‘If she wants to act like a whore, then so what? At least she doesn’t seem too dangerous anymore.’

Regardless of the advice her sagely cortex offered in consolation, she definitely didn’t like where this was going.

Skye jumped, startled, when the face of her enemy appeared again, having moved around the petty item of stationery so as to resume eye contact. “Seriously, fuck all this international terrorist shit. I’m sure we could pursue something much more interesting together.” She trailed her fingers as erotically as she could manage within the confines along the edge of the plastic board, enjoying herself way too much to proclaim decency. “What say you work vice in my back alley, Pricey?”

They descended into a leery silence, a disturbed glare contorting the Commander’s features as she failed to comprehend the downright creepy twist their interaction had encountered. “…You’re weird.” The agent decided after a long pause, and that was the killer.

At long last, Shego’s seductive demeanour dissolved under the pressure and she broke down into a fit of unrestrained laughter. Initially, the mirth was hers alone, as one would expect. With her eyes closed and her concentration interrupted, she accidentally rolled off the table and onto the floor, losing the loaned jacket in the fall and landing with a hollow thud. Little did she realise that this had left her leg tangled in the tether, and her ignorance meant this didn’t halt her chuckles immediately. However, the stupid position which her enemy wound up in evoked the soldier’s humour, eventually, but she was far less enthusiastic in displaying it.

Abruptly, the sounds of gaiety ceased. “Ah…Ow…” Instead, its replacement was quiet whimpering, pain that yearned to be hidden but fought its way out. Skye stood, peeking over the table in order to get a visual on her captive, mild concern flashing across her features as she witnessed the scene. Her ankle was wrapped up in the chain, meaning it was tied to her wrists and, whichever way she pulled – whether she attempted to relax the pressure on her arms or her feet – one of these limbs wound up in an incredibly awkward position. She was like an animal caught in a trap; hardly a pleasant sight for someone not inclined to sadism. The internal struggle was painted across her face as she looked upwards, helplessly, resigned to plead for pity. “Little help?”

She didn’t get relief immediately, though. The military minded woman pondered her options, debating whether being merciful was humane or foolish enough to cost her more than she could readily afford. It wasn’t long before she elected to extend an olive branch of peace, silently justifying her actions in the meantime, telling her most authoritarian and strict selves that her good favour was likely to be returned, even by this evil woman, and that it would make her life easier in the short term. Forget Karma; she owed her one. “Keep still.” She instructed as she bent down over her distorted form, retrieving something from her pocket. Being extra careful to avoid making any direct physical contact with the recently flirtatious villainess, she reached underneath the bonds that bound her wrists together and unfastened them, although her technique remained unseen and secret.

The fantastic plastic shackles came loose, and, at long last, blood flowed freely into her uppermost extremities. Cautiously, the thief offered a quiet, “Thanks.” But she was unsure how to react beyond the generic, English expression for unspecified gratitude, her eyes maintaining a semblance of suspicion beneath the surface.

“Don’t mention it.” The shorter woman dismissed her less-than-appropriate appreciation, standing up stiffly and leaving Shego to finish freeing herself from the knot she was still in unassisted. Frankly, she wasn’t comfortable touching her anywhere, never mind in places that were in a close proximity to less than savoury areas of her lower body. “No, seriously,” she added, “Don’t mention it. Interviewing suspects as dangerous and hostile as you without adequate safety measures and without restraints is highly unorthodox and it probably negates my insurance policy.”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever.” The terrorist waved her off, quietly humiliated to a minute extent by the help she'd begged for, attempting to release her foot and body from the chain constricting her like a hungry snake. It was harder than it looked. “I’m not going to attack you.” She grunted, a part of her mind cursing her inability to use her powers to aid her in this effort, since they would allow her to burn through the damn links. It was only when she couldn’t use them that she remembered how hard so many important tasks became without them, but she could already see that the devices preventing her from lighting up weren’t easily removed. “Say,” she began, forcefully summoning an innocent expression from somewhere in her core, “Seeing as you’ve already broken one safety rule, what say you be a real…super friend and help little ol’ me out of these heavy gloves?” God that was awkward. She wanted to hit herself for sounding like such a moron…but she was too hot to risk scarring.

Cmdr. Sage shook her head, smiling pleasantly. Either she was in that condescendingly good mood again, or else she knew something the career criminal didn’t know. Her bet was on the latter. “Sorry, but, no can do.” She clearly wasn’t sorry at all. Why did she bother saying it when she didn't mean it? Most likely, it was just to rub it in.

“Why?” the thief unhooked her leg and sent an ambiguous, but dark look towards her rival. “Don’t you trust me?” Shego challenged her. Skye just stared at her. It was so obvious she wasn’t even going to validate it with a verbal response. The raven haired criminal bristled underneath the expression which questioned her sanity, but relented before her anger could get the best of her. “Fair enough.” She said, massaging her sorest wrist and flexing her palm. “But it was worth a shot. I mean, you don’t think I’m retarded, do you?” again, Skye just stared at her, as if she were stupid for not realising the answer already. The green girl flashed a furious red. “Hey! Shut up!”

“I didn’t say anything.” The agent chuckled, raising her hands defensively nonetheless, provoking a frustrated growl and expletives from the now untied woman on the floor. “I can’t let you use your powers.” She reiterated, much to the mercenary’s displeasure. With a slight swish of her arms, she indicated the room itself, like some overconfident tour guide. “See these walls? They’re made from the most heat resistant compound our scientists have ever developed – did I mention they use this room to test explosives, normally?” Shego shook her head, ostensibly uninterested, concentrating on her foot, but in reality she was listening far more intently than she made it seem. “Anyhow, the substance we’ve used here…reflects heat, shall we say. And I don’t expect you to believe me,” it was a wise decision, because she didn’t, and, if she had, she wouldn’t care, “But if you do end up attacking me, or even if you just try to escape, sure, I’ll burn up, as the temperature rises; I’ll die…That leaves you. You’re resistant to heat, aren’t you?” she received no confirmation or denial, but common sense told her that she had to be to even use her powers in the first place. “So you’ll be able to keep going. It’ll get hotter, you’ll get more desperate and, soon enough, find it harder to think than it's ever been for you before. I don’t know how long it would take, or if it would even hurt you that much, but the water in your body is just that; water. It doesn't have superpowers.” The operative delivered her intense warning with prophetic relish, her eyes traversing every inch of the walls, the ceiling and the floor as she forewarned her captive. “You’ll heat up and perspire and slowly start to dehydrate until, cell by cell, you start to dry out, then entire organs will follow, your blood will become viscous, like sludge, and, finally, your brain. You’ll get dizzy, hallucinate, and then it’ll stop sending messages all together. If you're lucky, you'll pass out a good couple of minutes before your demise. It’s a damn awful way to die.”

Tense seconds passed, no words spoken, few sounds uttered. The morbid promise slowly sunk in, a burden weighing down on every molecule in the room - she'd really thought about it, hadn't she? - until Shego broke it at last. “Kay.” She said, shrugging in her typical style, ever indifferent and completely unconcerned about the premonition of her painful, slowly asphyxiating death, since it wasn’t going to happen anyway. The criminal got up, stretching momentarily before returning to her seat, finally able to sit comfortably in the hard, wooden chair, and she sighed in relief. “So where’re we goin’, Charlie?” she asked in a strangely enthusiastic voice, although it was sarcastic in nature, but the officer had begun to wonder if that was just how she spoke, not that she was particularly convinced by the theory.

Digression aside, obviously, the spy didn’t have any idea what she was talking about, and her ensuing, confused rambling quickly confirmed that hypothesis. “Uh, who the what the when the where the how the why the huh?” she all but blurted out, totally lost in the wilderness. They weren’t going anywhere. What gave her the impression that she was free to leave?

The criminal groaned, irritated. So much for trying to be cheery and cooperative. “Why the fuck am I here, already?” she swung an arm to the side, indicating her surroundings and coming across as agonisingly bored to even the least astute. “You can either enlighten me as to what you want me to say or you can shove me off with my cellmate, but I’m getting sick of this pointless waiting around. I mean, do you even know?” she asked obnoxiously, swinging her legs up and onto the table in total disregard for manners and folding her arms behind her head.

“Uh, yeah. Of course I know. I’m effectively in charge of this operation.” Responded Skye matter-of-factly.

As was the case with most things in this world, Shego didn’t care. “Good for you. Now operate me, bitch.”

The agent blinked, but let it go. Bringing an end to this unnatural disaster of a conversation – if it could even be called that; seriously, it was a competition to find out who could be the biggest jerk – was all she wanted. She’d been in there for way too long, around an hour, more or less, and she had a headache the size of the former Soviet Union. Besides which, the sooner she got through to this woman, the more likely it was that she’d be able get a day off to spend privately while she was still in America, and every one of those was a blessing for the working woman.

Determined to get this done successfully, she sat down and linked her fingers, leaning forward over the table like a conspirator. Shego knew then that some kind of deal was in the cards about to be dealt; perhaps she wasn’t sentenced to death or an indefinite imprisonment. “You’re a mercenary, right?” asked the agent, receiving a blunt, affirmative nod. “Well then, that helps. Our offer is very simple; we want you to work for us.”

There it was. Their plan leapt faithfully across the ravine, praying for its deity to extend a hand and catch it before it plummeted to a certain death. The ball was in their target’s court now.

The thief blinked, wondering if she’d heard correctly or if the gunfire from the previous evening had left her impaired, regardless of how delayed the effects must have been to act eight hours later. They were kidding, surely. Really, Skye looked far too serious to have possibly meant something so thoroughly retarded in its every component. But, then again, she didn’t appear to be a fan of this little scheme either. It was true, wasn’t it? Oh no.

This was just sad.

For a while, she stared ahead incredulously, too embarrassed for the poor, talky bitch who was shafted with the duty to present her with this absurd proposal to laugh in her face, as she ordinarily would have done. Instead, she groaned in a mix of repulsion, exasperation and sheer mortification, her head slowly dropping into her waiting hands. The fabric of her gloves was coarse against her skin as she gently massaged her temples and then held the bridge of her nose, endeavouring to comprehend this whole, ridiculous situation, and failing miserably. Eventually, she gave up, collapsing down on top of the table, as if exhausted or dead, further expressions of disgust coming from the criminal as she tried to endure the agony that was people’s idiocy.

“Yeah, I really didn’t think this was going to work.” Ms. Sage admitted, shrugging blankly and sighing wrathfully, which seemed to warrant Shego’s attention as her dark eyes again became visible as she peered out from underneath her recently liberated arms. That simple confession of common sense, unbeknownst to the agent, earned her a miniscule smidge of esteem from the younger woman, who began to think that she had underestimated her. Not a whole lot, but at least they had one thing in common.

The deviant reached out across the table and patted the back of the operative’s hand in a manner that was only slightly more comforting than it was condescending. “I understand how you feel. My boss is a moron too.” She said, shaking her still slightly damp head. She’d never really thought about it before, what with her fierce hate for both authority and people who respected it mindlessly – and, yeah, she really did hate the Government when it came down to it – but, in a way, being a soldier in the United States’ military was a lot like being a sidekick, or a henchman, when it came down to it. Except that, instead of working for a mad scientist or weirdos with a fetish for animals, they were working for a massively overpaid, overpowered psychopath who believed that every single country in the world (except for America) should be blown up if one of its citizens sneezed at the wrong time. Boys and their exploding toys.

Skye sighed, but she did not abandon her mission just yet, which just went to show that she was as pathetically devoted to her job as the villain had guessed long ago. “Look, just think about it, okay? I mean, otherwise, you’re stuck in here and…” She didn’t know what to say – again, this really wasn’t her forte – so she was content to trail off into the without.

Thankfully, Shego was all too happy to interrupt her, so it was no significant loss. “Okay, look at it this way, Whitey,” she commenced pleading her case, seeing as it felt like she needed to defend her honour as, arguably, the best villain there was in the field of villainy, “I’m a thief, and I can blow stuff up; what services can I possibly offer to your cause, other than thievery and demolition?” of course, it was a rhetorical question, so she didn’t leave any room for the Commander to answer, even though she seemed prepared with an abrupt reply. “Take the hint; these skills are what got me in here! They don’t tend to reconcile very well with you do-gooder types.”

“But that’s the whole point!” the spy cut her off, at her wits’ end after this whole, disorganised fiasco, and the criminal got the impression – even through her moment of surprise – that this was what Skye disliked most about the idea; using the enemt. “Basically, we want you to do exactly what you do now…you know, steal stuff,” she elaborated unnecessarily, seeing as the pale woman knew precisely what she did for a living, “But your burglary will be federally sponsored. You can take things for us, and from the terrorists. In exchange for your cooperation, you’ll receive immunity for your past crimes.”

The villainess snickered derisively, finding her immense naivety hilarious. Did they think she worked for kicks? “Sorry, Skye-Fi, but no sale. Clearly my reputation isn't as outstanding as I thought when you gunned down my door, but who do you think I am?” she sounded deeply offended by the very suggestion that she would ever desire a clean slate. “Let me explain something to you, and try to follow along, if you can, okay? You can’t force me to work for you by locking me in a room and trying to scare me with your newfound disregard for human rights and kooky gizmos, because, in case you didn’t get the impression while you were doing your homework and studying my record, I am evil. You are not, although your fatass bosses are treading the line, I’ll give ‘em that. I’m not about to leap at the opportunity to help out the fuckers that tried to shoot me in the face last night.” Said the green and black bitch, articulating every word precisely, making sure the concept got through to her. “Besides, why the fuck would I want to work for the Feds? It would kill my cred. Being a thief isn’t any fun if you’re not breaking the rules, and if you can’t cash it in for yourself.” She knew the truth. They claimed that they would set her free if she worked with them, but, really, what they were promising was free-range captivity with no rewards aside from the removal of punishment.

The officer grabbed her hair, frustrated. She didn’t get this woman. She was so…different to all the other criminals she’d worked with, and that tally was probably in the thousands by that stage. It was as if the whole reason she chose this illegal lifestyle was so she could piss people off professionally. And yet she was a mercenary, which obviously meant that she must have one exploitable weakness, one semi-rational motivation for her activities which, to some degree, made sense. Greed. “What is the price of your soul, Shego?!” asked the soldier, fatigue causing her to speak a lot more loudly and harshly than she would have preferred. It sounded like an accusation.

Not that it fazed its recipient. “A hundred and forty-two million dollars.” The younger woman responded without thinking, meaning it as a joke, as evidenced by her carefree chortle. But then she heard something that would change her life forever.

“Done.” That one, poignant, most potent monosyllabic word resonated in the silence like a brick thrown through a window in a quiet neighbourhood; the statement was akin to an assassin's bullet in World History. Having not expected such an outcome, Shego didn’t follow her meaning, at first, and probably would have inquired about it were it not for Skye’s elaboration. “If it takes one hundred and forty-two million dollars to buy your loyalty, then we can get you one hundred forty-two million dollars.”

The criminal almost fell off her chair, but instead she shot up to her feet, almost as if alarmed. “Are you serious?!” she asked, her jaw hitting the floor and ricocheting back up into place in this unquantifiable shock which consumed her. A short, sharp nod answered her query. To put it crudely, the thief had a very satisfying - though infinitely small - orgasm on the spot, or could have sworn she had, at least. When the tide of bliss had rolled back out to sea, the criminal vaulted her lithe form over the table in an elegant leap (which, at first, caused the soldier to recoil in preparation for an attack) and landed next to her, well, her future co-worker. “Pleased to meet you, boss!” she said, shaking her hand enthusiastically. When she was done with that, she wrapped an arm ‘casually’ - it was quite the opposite, considering a mutual urge to escape such a proximity - around her shoulders, suddenly very buddy-buddy with her ex-enemy, smiling so widely it was inhuman. “So…when do I start m’knew job, huh?”

Skye was scared. Terrified, even. “I, uh, I, errm…” she coughed, clearing her throat. “Whenever we finish getting the team together, I guess – you know, I’m not really your boss.” The soldier cut herself off, trying to cope with everything all at once, and failing miserably, just making herself sound weird in the process. She reconsidered her initial statement then, her first reflex being to scratch the back of her neck, but Shego’s hand was already there, and she wasn’t keen for anymore contact than she’d been forced to withstand thus far. “Well, I suppose I am technically your superior…and I will be your Commanding Officer in the field and—“

“Perfect!” said the thief, tugging her closer, causing her future CO to squeal in distress, which only spurred the former villainess on; she was keen to make her pay for the events of the last day. And it was working. She knew this woman; she knew her better than anyone else in this damn organisation and she knew how to get under her skin and, apart from that, she was pretty confident that she could trust her to…not throw her into a freezer while she was sleeping. “Because as far as I’m concerned, I work for you now,” she punctuated this important expression with an extra squeeze, just for good measure, “And not your damn Government.” Her manner of speaking, despite her bright and peppy features, carried the air of a threat. “So…what say we take some time to get to know each other, Spicy McSpy?”

This was hell. “Please stop touching me.” She whimpered, quietly begging to be released. When her request went unheeded, she tapped a hidden button on her arm, opening a communication line to some guards standing outside the room. “Uh, help?”

Help would come.

Wade heard everything as he played the digital version of the recording on his computer two weeks after all the words were said. But the team was not yet complete. At least one member was still missing from their ranks.

Kim Possible.

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