Shego found herself deep down in the black sea, wondering how she'd sunk so far into it. Her lungs ached, and she started fighting her way to the surface. The icy black water pressed in all around her, as if trying to hold her down, keep her from the air.
Had that… thing… dragged her so far down? She'd had dreams like this before. For years, in fact, she'd dreamed of the dark water, first as a puddle, then a small pond, and finally it had grown into an ocean. For a long time, she tried to convince herself she liked it, that she was soothed by floating in the cold, icy black water, still and slow. Even when she had dreams where she began a bit below the surface and had to swim up, she convinced herself that the ebony expanse under a sky just as black suited her fine.
But only since that disastrous shot Drakken had given her had the sea begin to roil and crash with waves as it was driven to a silent storm. Only then had it begun to be haunted by a glowing green monster that lurked below the surface, always seeking to drag her down to the depths.
'It wants to take her away from me.'
Now there was a strange thought. The glowing monster wanted to take someone away from her? Or was the one it wanted to take away… her? Her self, her identity?
For now, it didn't seem to matter. The only think she could see was blackness… endless black water all around her, pressing on her even as it leeched the warmth out of her, tried to drive the air out of her, to replace it in her lungs.
She wondered if her own little ebony ocean could, in fact, drown her.
But then she was bursting out of the black water, for a moment seeming to rise up into the black sky, pulling in great gulps of cold air, just hanging there for that instant, savoring the triumph of simple survival.
She pulled in that deep breath of cold-seeming air as she came awake. Feelings registered first, the feel of something in her nose, making her a bit uncomfortable. The faintly stiff feel of a hospital gown, far too familiar with those through her life. On the other parts of her body, soft sheets. And a distant, all-over ache in every muscle she had.
Her vision was blurry at first, but focused on the ceiling gradually. It was familiar. Why was the ceiling familiar? Oh. It was hers. At least, it had been for months in Drakken's latest base.
He was dead.
Because she'd killed him, in this very bed.
Memories she'd have rather left drowned, or at least at the back of her mind, pushed to the foreground, and she squeezed her eyes tightly closed as if that could hold them at bay. A shudder ran through her body, but for now, she could cope. With that, at least. She pulled the air tubes out of her nose and let them fall away, tired of the vaguely minty scent in her nostrils.
Shego opened her eyes again and turned her head. Surprise registered at the sight of Kim Possible sitting at her bedside, hair starting to fall over her shoulders as her head bobbed, the teenager's eyes closed. Shego couldn't help but smile a little, both at the image she was presented with and at the sheer oddness of the situation.
After a few moments, she must have made some sound, or perhaps Kim simply nodded far enough that her body warned her to wake up, because she blinked her eyes open and sat up straight. She glanced back and forth, then noticed Shego grinning at her. She couldn't help but grin back.
“Hey there,” Kim said, her voice quiet but carrying such genuine warmth that Shego again felt a little wash of surprise.
“Hi, Princess. Been waiting long?”
“Not that long. Only a few hours. My mom said you might wake up sometime today, so.”
“Today…” Shego frowned, pulling a hand out from under the covers to rest it across her stomach. “What day is it?”
“It's about three days after the siege at the hospital,” Kim said, her smile fading slowly. “Do you remember much?”
“… No. I remember that your mom said she was on her last three bullets, and something about low pressure, but not much after that.”
“You… kinda had another little, um… episode?” Kim explained, the word coming out rather lamely as she sought a fitting one.
“Oh God.” Shego's eyes widened. “Don't tell me I-?!”
“No, no, it's fine!” Kim waved her hands a bit. “No one got hurt! Mom says she thinks it was all the stress and stuff. Luckily, your brothers were there, and they restrained you without anybody getting hurt, you included.”
“My brothers?” Horror with the faintest dash of joy welled up in her. “Don't tell me they're here?!”
“Well, yeah, actually. See, Global Justice wanted you so bad, that… they weren't going to let you go. Everybody that decided to help save you got declared a villain.”
Shego blinked once, slowly. “I'm sorry, Pumpkin, I didn't quite catch that. Did you just say that…?”
“Yup. I'm now a Threat Level One Supervillain.” Kim smiled wanly, waggling a finger in the air. “Whoopee.”
The green-skinned woman couldn't help it, she let out a laugh, even if it was a somewhat bitter one. “I'm glad Doctor D. didn't live to hear this. He only ever made Threat Level Four, and that was on a particularly good week.” Then she blinked again. “Wait, 'everyone'?”
“Yeah. My mom's a threat level three, the Go Team are level twos, and I think everyone else got classified as henchmen.” Kim shook her head, wan grin still in place. “Ron's really mad, he says he should at least have made assistant villain.”
“That classification went out in the eighties,” Shego snorted.
“That… was a real classification?”
“… Nevermind.” Shego frowned. “Why so many people? Why did they all help?”
“Well, your brothers love you, whether you admit it or not. And for the rest… I guess maybe they-”
“Did it for you,” Shego interjected.
“What? No, I'm sure-”
“They did it for you,” she repeated, more firmly. “Let's not kid ourselves, Pumpkin. Your mom's a swell gal, she really stuck by me. I owe her more than I can ever repay. But no way did she or anybody else go that far because of me. They did it because of you. Something you said, or did. Or just you being you.”
Kim stared at her for long moments, green eyes seeming almost thoughtful. When she spoke, it was slow, deliberate. “Then they also did it for you.”
“Don't really follow,” Shego murmured, tilting her head.
“I did a lot of thinking, on the way back from Go City. About why you were so important to me all of a sudden, why I had to help you no matter what. And the answer came from the stupidest place.”
“No, it came from… hey!” Kim frowned at Shego, though it was with an effort. “No.” She shook her head, clearing out the vague annoyance (and threat of laughter) from Shego's comment. “It came from a stupid movie I had to sit through with my brothers, one of those Space Quest things my stupid cousin Larry loves so much.”
“You helped me because of Space Quest?”
“No! Look, I'm trying to use a comparison, would you just let me?!”
“Fine, fine! Fire away, Pumpkin.”
“Anyway. In this movie, the evil aliens had snuck a DNA sample of the ship captain years before, intending to replace him to help them conquer the good guys. Something like that. So there was this clone that had grown up in an alien culture, with no family, no human guidance. He wanted to see what his original was like, and at the same time hated him.”
Shego raised an eyebrow, thinking this was going odd places, but still listening.
“Anyway, at one point the clone says 'I am a mirror for you.' He's saying that the captain could have been just like him, cold, ruthless, uncaring, all that. But eventually the captain says 'I am a mirror for you, too.'”
“That's what you are, Shego. You're my mirror.”
Shego huffed. “I'm -not- a -clone-!”
“No, no, no!” Kim put a hand to her head. “I should have known no good would ever come of Space Quest.” She shook her head, looking at Shego earnestly. “I meant, you showed me where I could have gone. Where I still could have wound up. You were just as smart as me, just as strong as me. We were the same in a lot of ways. You were a mirror that showed me what it would be like on the other side. And I was a mirror for you.”
Shego fell silent, taking in the thought. Finally, she said, very quietly, “And now here you are. On the other side of the looking glass.”
“Right. Now here I am.” Kim's grin was just a little bit fierce this time, some hardness coming into her eyes that Shego had rarely seen there before. The redhead stood, nodding once. “I better go tell my mom you're awake.”
“Hey, wait!” Shego reached out a hand. “Before you go, you've gotta tell me how we got out of the hospital!”
“Oh. That.” Kim rubbed her chin a bit. “I dunno. Might be too exciting, get you riled up…”
“You wanna see riled?!”
Kim laughed, and sat back down. “Fine, fine. But I warn you, it's weird. So there we were, surrounded by a couple of hundred GJ operatives…”
Kim stared up into the helicopter's light, that grim smile on her lips, then looked back out to the front line of GJ agents. She could faintly make out Doctor Director stepping up behind one of the barricades and taking something from another agent, raising it to her mouth. A moment later, her voice boomed from the speakers set up on some of the barricades.
“MISS POSSIBLE. IT'S NOT TOO LATE TO WALK AWAY FROM THIS WITHOUT A CRIMINAL RECORD. SURRENDER AND GIVE UP SHEGO.”
The redhead just grinned, staring down the leader of the most secret and effective secret agent organization on the planet from across an emptied parking lot.
“Cocky little bugger,” one of the GJ agents murmured to his boss.
“No.” Doctor Director released the intercom button, frowning. “Overconfident sometimes, but not ridiculously cocky.”
“So, what… she's gonna pull something out of nowhere?”
“Quite possible,” Doctor Director murmured, pursing her lips. Then her eye widened. “The purple Go Team member… he's not with them.”
With a howl, the Go Team jet lurched into the air from its position in the adjoining parking lot, its backwash sending the agents guarding it tumbling. The sleek aircraft turned and zipped low across the lot, turning to pass along one corner of the assembled GJ forces, sending more of them scattering or running for cover, before it turned again and began moving the relatively short distance towards the small group of resisters.
“Do I have a go?” came a voice from near the Director's side.
Her jaw worked for a moment, her eye narrow and hard. But after only a moment, she nodded. “You have a go. Fire.”
Doctor Director's hair ruffled in the backblast of the rocket launcher, the streak of red and orange following the projectile as it twisted lightly in the air, striking just to one side of one of the jet's engines. Fire blossomed from the hull of the aircraft, which seemed to drift for a moment as the sound of the explosion echoed, before the sound of metal scraping across concrete as it struck the ground and bottomed out, its back end twisting around before it quickly bled off its momentum and came to a stop.
“Hego!” Kim shouted as she watched their clever plan start to go up in flames. “Give Shego to Jacob, and get Mego out of there! Use the plane as cover! Ron!” Kim tossed the Kimmunicator to her sidekick, who caught it without fumbling for once. “Get Wade on, tell him we need an emergency favor from someone who can get us out of here and is willing to risk GJ's wrath! Wego, multiply and try to form a perimeter!”
Once he'd passed his sister to the security guard, Hego rushed forward, keeping the jet between himself and the line of GJ agents. Finding a rip in the hull, he dug his fingers into it, a shimmering blue glow surrounding his arms as he peeled the metal back with a shriek. Forcing it open wide enough to get himself partway in, he leaned in, ripping the straps off the pilot's seat and grabbing hold of his unconscious brother, hauling him out and rushing back towards the group. The sound of bullets starting to ping off the burning wreckage of the jet accompanied his rush.
“Kim, Wade says he's on the way!” Ron called.
“Who's he sending?!”
“No, KP,” Ron said, looking rather shocked, even moreso than before. “Wade says HE'S on the way.”
“What?” Kim stared at him, then winced as a bullet made it over the top of the jet and whizzed overhead. “But that's not going to do much good if we can't hold out, maybe we should head back ins-”
“Kim.” Kim's mother interjected. “Listen. All those shots aren't coming our way.”
“Huh?” Kim tried to squint through the flames around the jet and into the crowd. Swift, small shapes were darting out amongst the agents, who were yelling and, in a number of cases, falling, some of them trying to fire at their attackers without hitting their comrades.
“Monkeys!” Ron yelped in a strange mix of surprise, fear, and elation.
“Ook-ook, huh?” Rufus chirped from Ron's pocket, scratching his head.
Kim's eyes widened as she did indeed catch the flip of long, thin tails amidst the black-clad shapes punching and kicking furiously amidst the GJ army. “Huh?! But those are-”
“Good evening, Kim Possible!”
Everyone in the group turned back towards the hospital and up at the sound of the voice, staring at the black-clad man clinging easily to the very edge of a second-story ledge with all four limbs, long toes curled around the stone as easily as his fingers.
“Monkey… Fist?” Kim replied, wondering if the stress was starting to take its toll on her, too.
“I understand your surprise. Please feel free to indulge it should I do something so distasteful again in the future,” Lord Montgomery Fiske said with a sneer, before adopting an air of civility and putting a hand to his chest. “But word has filtered through the grapevine, and I felt compelled to come to the aid of Shego.”
“Er, not to step on the save or anything, but… WHY?!” Ron called back.
“We villains of a unique genetic dispensation must stick together,” Monkey Fist answered as if it were obvious, before snarling. “If they think we are like the helpless creatures they can strap to tables and test cosmetics on, they have much to learn!” He rose to his full height on the ledge, pointing dramatically. “Show the oppressors, my monkey hordes! Show them the fury of the animal kingdom! Aha, aha, HAHAHAHAOO-OO-AH-AH-AHHHH!”
“Oh yeah, he's nuts,” Ron muttered.
“Nuts or not, he's distracted GJ!” Kim answered, pointing at a large hole in the defenses where the Go Team jet had originally cut across the defensive line. “Let's go!”
The group rushed across the parking lot, almost random bullets whizzing above and past them, before they managed to slip by the harried GJ forces and into the streets beyond.
“We won't get far,” Jacob grunted, looking back and forth along a seemingly deserted, streetlamp-lit road. “Good bet they'll have informed the local law enforcement, too. Besides, even with strong guy here, we're carrying two people.”
“Not a problem!”
Yet again, everyone looked up at the sound of a voice, catching sight of the round hover-vehicle as it banked and moved to set down in front of them, its pilot giving a wave.
“Wade!” Kim cried jubilantly. “You're… here! With Drakken's hovercraft!”
“Yup! Some robots were able to locate where it crashed and put it back together! Quick, everybody get in!”
The group quickly climbed into the hovercraft, trying to find places, but it nevertheless lifted off smoothly and curved off into the night sky.
Slamming her fist into a chimpanzee ninja's face to keep it from kicking her in the stomach, Doctor Director spared a moment to lift her gaze, and catch sight of the little speck of silver receding into the distance.
“Well played, Miss Possible. But this just goes to prove where your loyalties are now.”
“Er, how'd you know she said that?”
“Oh, she put it in her report,” Kim replied, a bit dryly. “Wade's already managed to put a tap on the system that processes agent reports. Hers are apparently really thorough.”
“No kidding. So, seriously, that all happened?”
“Yup, every bit. … Mego's okay, by the way.”
“Eh.” Shego made an effort to shrug her shoulders, as if uncaring, but she seemed to rest easier in the bed.
“Between griping about being classified as a henchman, Ron's whining about being saved by his archnemesis,” Kim added in a cheerful voice.
“I gotta say, I'm kind of with your sidekick on that one. I dunno how I'll live it down.”
“You'll manage,” Kim replied, eyes twinkling.
“Guess I've gotta.” Shego shook her head. “In any event, Pumpkin, I'm kinda still tired. Think I could…?”
“Oh, oh yeah. Right, sure.” Kim stood, turning towards the door. “Like I said, I'm gonna have to tell my mom, she'll wanna check on you. … So, um, seeya.”
Shego closed her eyes as Kim left the room, letting out a shaky breath. Things had been a little awkward, but she still hadn't really wanted to chase Kim off like that. But still, it was… difficult.
Before, at times when she'd been getting close to that animal state, she'd noticed how heightened her senses were. But sometime during Kim's story, she'd realized that part of the muddled feeling in her head were those new inputs still rushing in on her, without pause. She'd been able to smell the exhaustion on Kim, the sweat and the bits of grime that said she'd probably gone too long without a shower trying to take care of other things. Mingled with that, her own unique scents, smell of her soap and astringent and perfume and shampoo mingled with that person smell. The other scents still lingering on her of other people she'd touched, been near.
Even with Kim gone, she could still smell her here, on the chair. And could smell everything else in the room, it seemed like… herself, the somewhat stinging, harsh scent of some medical wash that had no doubt been used to clean her while she was unconscious. Detergent and fabric softener on the sheets, her own smell on them, now seeming a little foreign, like it didn't match up with… well, her… anymore.
The feel of the hospital gown and the sheets hadn't faded, like she was still too acutely aware of them right down to the weave of the fabric. She sighed, trying to relax, trying to let the new senses fade, but all that did was assail her ears with an almost white noise of hundreds of different little sounds.
'Guess this answers whether they found a way to undo it.'
“For the last time, dear, no.”
“But…” Jim Possible's face screwed up in an expression that was coming dangerously close to a pout.
“No. That's final.” Anne shook her head, smiling a bit wanly at her husband. “I need to be here to take care of Kim and everyone else. But for the boys' sakes, you have to stay home and try to continue on as normally as possible.”
“They keep bugging me to let them be supervillains too,” Jim muttered, glancing off to the side.
“Sounds like they're coping as marvelously as usual.” Anne smiled much more easily now, reaching a hand out to rest on one corner of the screen. “I know it will be hard. This will all work out, one way or another.”
“I hope so. … I miss you.”
“I miss you, too. But mostly, I just love you, Dr. Possible.”
“I love you, too, Dr. Possible.”
They both simply stared at one another across the distance of miles and the barrier of screens, before Anne sighed. “I'd better go. We don't want to risk keeping these lines open too long.”
“Right. I'll talk to you later.”
“Mm-hmm.” Anne smiled as she tapped the release button, then let the smile fade as she breathed out a long sigh.
“Oh!” Anne sat up straighter and turned in her chair, smiling at Kim. “I'm sorry, sweetie, if I'd known you were so close I'd have asked your dad to wait a little longer.”
“It's okay. I just wanted to let you know Shego's awake.”
“That's great!” Anne stood, checking the pockets of her lab coat, then striding to the door. She paused in passing to lean down and give Kim a tight hug, then walked off down the hall.
Kim leaned against the doorway, rubbing her arms where she could still feel the lingering compression of her mother's hug, and closed her eyes. 'How did I get us all into this?'
“You seem to be doing okay. Some things are a little low, but you've been getting fed intravenously for the last several days, so that's not unexpected.” Anne set aside the medical scanner she'd appropriated from Drakken's storeroom, and put the back of her hand against Shego's cheeks. “How are you feeling?”
“Weak. Achy.” Shego closed her eyes, drawing in a breath. The feel of the older woman's hand on her skin seemed more acute than she remembered things being, softer and warmer, the hospital smell of the labcoat mingling with other scents of being tired, other, less defined things. “… And it's like I'm hyperaware all the time, now. Not just when I'm freaking out.”
“Yes. I think whatever's happening to you is… well, for lack of a better word, reaching a plateau. I think you're close to finishing your changes.” Anne said in the most faintly upbeat tone.
“So I'm not going to go back to anything approaching normal, am I?” Shego murmured, her gaze wandering to the bedspread and staying there.
“We haven't given up all hope of that. Kim's trying to track down DNAmy, or anyone else with a similar genetics breakdown.” Anne rested her hand on the bed, looking evenly at Shego. “But for now, I think it's best if you turn yourself to living with this, rather than waiting for a cure.”
“Living with it?!” Shego snapped, raising her eyes to Dr. Possible's face, a scowl on her lips. “How am I supposed to live with it?!”
“Young woman, I don't think you quite realize how lucky you -are-.”
The hard surgical steel in the redhead's voice took the wind out of Shego's sails so fast that she actually thumped back against the pillow, looking almost confounded. Anne's face had gone from almost neutral to stern very quickly.
“I've had to help patients that were a great deal worse off than you, and in more ways than one. People with Parkinsons, strokes, spinal damage, cancer, burns over most of their body. People that were going to have most of their lives, if not all of them, taken away by what they'd just learned in my office.”
“You don't think that's how I feel?” Shego murmured sourly, turning his head away.
“That may be how you feel, but it's not true. You had, and to a certain extent still do have a very real fear about how this might change you. That's understandable.” Anne reached out and cupped Shego's chin, turning the girl's green-on-yellow eyes back to her. “But you're going to be healthy again. You're going to be able to walk, and run, and do all that tumbling and jumping you could do before. You can speak, hear, and let's not forget those wonderful little overlooked things like controlling your bladder. But more importantly than all that, do you know what you have?”
“… What?” Shego didn't fight to turn her head away, as she might have done out of pure contrariness before.
“You have people who care about you enough to stand by you and help you. Kim, myself, even Ron and everyone else here.”
“Kim, maybe, and I don't know why.” Shego frowned slightly again. “But the rest of you did it for her.”
“And you might be right, to a certain extent. But I wouldn't let my daughter do all this if I thought it was for the sake of a bad person.”
“Doc, you've got no idea how bad I -am-.”
“Oh, you're a criminal, no doubt. But a bad person… well, I think the jury's still out on that.” Anne smiled, rising to her feet and tucking the medical scanner under one arm. “But just remember, Shego. You've got people here that care about you.”
“… It's been a long time since I could say that,” Shego admitted quietly.
“… You might remember, though,” Anne replied just as quietly. “That the only reason you didn't have people standing beside you before… was that you told them not to.”
Shego watched Kim's mother leave the room, then let out a long sigh. 'But my brothers are so -annoying-.'
“How's it coming, Wade?”
Wade looked up from the console he'd pulled open, grinning sheepishly at Kim, still not used to seeing her in person. He'd appropriated one of Drakken's spare henchman uniforms, partly because his own clothes had gotten filthy after crawling around in the crawlspace to get at computer components, partly because the synthodrones listened to him better if he wore it.
“Pretty good. I've been expanding on the taps we put on Global Justice's report-filing system.”
“Great! And what I asked about…?”
“Yeah, almost ready.” Wade turned his full attention back to the console. “Just have to actually upgrade some of this cabling, and… there!” He reattached a few connections, then slid the console back into place. “I just have to go and actually run the program now, feed should be up in a few moments.”
“Thanks, Wade.” Kim smiled warmly, moving to take a seat at a nearby video screen.
“No problem,” Wade murmured bashfully, turning and hurrying off.
Kim stared at the blank screen and her own reflection for long moments, until a little flicker of light replaced her reflection with a view from above of Doctor Director's office. The one-eyed woman was sitting behind her desk, looking over a sheaf of papers, with Will Du standing across from her.
“We believe they've fled to one of Drakken's previous strongholds, but we're having difficulty tracking down which one.”
“It always surprises me what a difficult time we have tracking down a giant castle sitting on a rocky outcropping in the middle of a sea,” Dr. Director murmured.
“Nothing. The report is thorough as always, Will. You may go.”
Will seemed a little affronted, but nodded. “Yes, ma'am.”
'Probably wanted to stand there and yammer on for another twenty minutes,' Kim thought with a grin as she watched Will leave the room. Then her expression slid back to serious as she watched the screen, propping her chin up in both hands. 'Give me some clue, Dr. Director. Show me why you blew this whole thing way out of proportion.'
But the brown-haired director seemed to be simply reading Will's report, and the camera wasn't set up to move nearly enough to get a good view of what it said. Kim continued to stare at the small movements of Dr. Director's hands as she flipped pages, with the soft *shwsh* of paper moving.
Then, slowly, Dr. Director closed the report and set it back on her desk, resting her elbows on the armrests of her chair and lacing her fingers together in front of her. She turned her chair towards the camera and tilted it back, looking right at the lens.
“Good afternoon, Miss Possible.”
“…” Kim frowned, then tapped a comm button. “Wade, can you give me audio into Dr. Director's office?”
“Kim, the equipment isn't even set up for that! It's pure surveillance stuff, no broadcasting power whatsoever! There, done. Press the green button if you want to talk.”
“Please and thank you.” Kim closed the channel, then hesitated a moment before pressing the green button. “Hello, Doctor Director. Did you actually know I was watching, or was this one of those 'Call someone's name to make them turn?' things?”
“Our agents detected Mr. Away's taps shortly after he put them in place. I was rather expecting you to try something like this, so that we could have a little talk.”
“Talking seems long overdue, yes,” Kim replied, frowning.
“… Kim, it's still possible for us to clean this all up. You're probably through as a crimefighter, though even that isn't for sure.” Dr. Director gazed at the camera solemnly. “But you and everyone else can go back to your normal lives, without stains on your records, if you'll just hand Shego over to us.”
“-Why-?” Kim scowled. “Why is it so important?! You've never pulled out these kind of stops before to grab her! Is it the genetic manipulation?!”
“That's part of it. But don't misunderstand.” Dr. Director tilted her head back a little, eyeing the camera as if eyeing Kim herself. “I wouldn't allow her to become a test subject. If possible, we would try to cure her. But if not… then all appropriate measures would be taken to restrain her.”
“Define 'restrain',” Kim demanded, voice tense.
“I doubt you need me to. We would lock her away. All indications say that she has become far more dangerous than the run-of-the-mill villain sidekick. She would not go to any open-air prison where she could break out in a week or so. She would be put in a very, very secure facility and we would never let her out.”
“She's a criminal, Kim. I've had her full file passed through those lines Mr. Away tapped. Perhaps you should take a look at it. Locking criminals away is what we do. It's what -you- should be doing.”
“…” Kim closed her eyes, taking a deep breath and letting it out. Perhaps Dr. Director heard her, because she pressed her advantage.
“I'll give you some time to think about it. Please understand, Kim… I know that it may seem I've gone too far, that I've been too extreme. But you simply don't have the experience I've had in these matters. It's vitally important that you turn Shego over to us, so that you can put all this behind you. Don't make any promises… but do read the report.” Dr. Director turned back to her desk, pulling over the curved keyboard resting on it. “I'll have our technical team leave a small security hole for Mr. Away to find. Reestablish this line in twenty-four hours with your answer.”
With that, Dr. Director hit a single key, and the screen went blank.
“Dang! We lost all our taps, Kim!” Wade's voice said from the comm panel. “GJ's got some top guys working for them!”
“Looks like,” Kim murmured distractedly, still staring at the screen.
“Uh… Kim, I do have that report that she mentioned. Did you want to… y'know…?”
“… Could you print out a hard copy and bring it up here?”
“Sure, if you want.”
“Please and thank you,” Kim said with that same distracted air, sitting back in her chair.
“Oof!” Shego grimaced as the twins bounded up onto the foot of her bed, and scowled at them. “And what part of 'go away' sounded like 'come in and jostle me around' to you two?”
“And when did we ever-”
“-listen to you?”
Shego rolled her eyes, but couldn't help the grin that curved her lips. In that one little statement of contrariness, somehow her youngest brothers had managed to slip right through years of built-up animosity and rivalry. With a sigh and a shake of her head, she held out her arms.
“Well, if you're gonna be annoying, might as well annoy me with a hug.”
Both had the good taste not to look shocked, but instead hurried over to hug up against Shego's sides, while she put an arm around each of them and squeezed back.
“… Thanks, guys. I know I've done jack squat to deserve you coming back and helping me.”
“Gee, you're different.”
“Yeah. Did you get injected with niceness, too?”
“Not in the last ten months,” Shego grumbled under her breath, then coughed and looked at the twins, who now seemed entirely too interested in what she'd just said. “No, dipwads, I'm just trying not to be too ungrateful. Don't let it go to your head.”
“Aw. But we-”
“… Really?” Shego eyed them both warily, as if suspecting tact where it had never been before.
“Hego's always so goody-two-shoes.”
“Even for a hero.”
“We miss you evening him out.”
“Plus, you're actually a pretty cool older sister.”
“As much as there can be one.”
“We miss you.”
“… Well, you're stuck with me now.” Shego grinned a little and ruffled the twins' hair.
All three siblings in the bed looked up to where Hego was standing in the doorway, looking nervous.
“It's alright, dips, ya bother me anyway.” Shego shoved on their heads, almost toppling them over. “Get outta here.”
Scurrying off, but not too hurriedly, the two boys left the room, leaving their eldest siblings alone.
“…” Hego looked down, fiddling nervously with his mask, which he was twisting in his hands. He walked over, gaze still downcast, and sat in the chair Kim had occupied earlier.
“…” Shego frowned some. “So had to come butting in again. Hego to the rescue.”
“Miss Possible said we might be able to help somehow with what was happening to you,” Hego murmured.
Shego blinked. That wasn't what she was expecting. Her brother had never been willing to get into the knock-down, drag-out arguments she would have preferred from him, but the way he just gave in was unusual.
“… What's up?”
“… I failed you, Sheila. I'm sorry,” Hego whispered, tears gathering at the corners of his eyes.
“Dammit! If this is about that 'you turned evil' thing again…!”
“No! Well… kind of.” Hego sighed, a tear sliding down his cheek. “… But I'm your older brother. There must have been something I could have done, somewhere along the line, that would have… … would have kept you from being unhappy.”
Shego sighed, leaning back fully against the pillows. “Geez.”
“If you hadn't been so unhappy, maybe you wouldn't have left Go City, and you wouldn't be going through this now.”
“… Well, I was unhappy, that's why I left, and I guess you could say that's why I'm here now.” Shego folded her arms over her chest. “But as much as it pains me to say it, none of that was your fault, Herman.”
“But… you always said…”
“Yeah, yeah, that you guys being annoying drove me away. And you guys do annoy the living spit out of me. -Especially- you.” Shego frowned. “But that's not why I was unhappy.”
“… Then why?”
“Because at the end of the day, I was still -green-.” The villainess waved a hand in the air. “We could stop all the bad guys in the world, but the whole 'secret identity' thing was a bit pointless for me. I stopped being Sheila Go, and I was just Shego all the time, because there was no way short of a ton of body makeup that I wasn't going to be recognized.”
“But… surely that wasn't so bad…?”
“If it wasn't, why would you have a secret identity? Because it -sucks- not to, that's why. People I'd saved from muggers still looked at me like I had a cow growing out of my forehead because I was green and glowed. I didn't get the fulfillment out of fighting crime you did, but it wouldn't have been so bad.”
“… You could have stopped. Just… not been a hero.”
“Yeah, but see, then I'm not even 'that green hero', I'd have been 'that green chick'. But it's different on the other side.” Shego smiled, just a little. “Because when you're a bad guy, you expect the world to be agape at you. The wilder and more different you are, the better you fit the role. I could have the rush and exhilaration of the action, and know that being a weird color and having weird powers just made me even better at being what I was.
“Being a hero was never a fit for me. It was like a shirt that was sized just a little wrong in a bunch of different places. But working the other side… that fit like a glove.”
Kim sat in what must have been Drakken's office, staring at a file folder on the desk. She rubbed her knuckles against one palm, then switched out, just a little something to do with them, keeping her hands busy, keeping them from reaching for the folder. It was about the thickness of a Crimsonbook magazine, and Wade had thoughtfully labeled the front 'Shego's File'.
Every so often, Kim's eyes would wander up from the folder to the wall, where, on a single shelf, sat the only personal touches in the room. A little plastic hula dancer. What looked like a large, dark blue stone with a scorched, lightning bolt-shaped crack running down the middle. A picture of Mrs. Lipsky. And a childlike drawing of a horse and a house, pinned to one edge of the shelf.
Drakken's life was over, and it seemed like those four little mementos were all that there were to mark his passing.
Kim's gaze was pulled back to the file. Drakken's death worried at the back of her skull, trying to find the place in her emotions where it fit. But her biggest concerns right now were with the living.
To read, or not to read?
The redheaded teenager stared at the words scrawled across the manila paper in Wade's handwriting until she could almost feel them on her pupils.
If GJ was as good as they seemed, it would all be in there. The old superhero days. The defection to the side of evil. And every little indiscretion, criminal act, and immoral deed since.
'Is this what it's come to?' Kim suddenly thought, scowling, angry at herself. 'Do people have to DESERVE my help?! Do I start investigating and reading up on anyone who needs me, to decide if they're worthy?!'
She grabbed up the file and spun the chair to one side, raising her hand as if to hurl it against the wall. Then her hand twitched, stopping in midair. Slowly, it lowered to rest the file in her lap, the angry tension seeping out of Kim's shoulders until they slumped.
'… She's not just anyone. She's Shego. She's a bad guy. And this isn't just any case.' Kim rested her palm flat against the cover of the file, as if forcing it closed until she'd made her decision. 'Why? I know what I told her, but is that right? Why -do- I feel like she shouldn't need to earn my help? Why am I so afraid of what I'll find in here?'
Kim slowly turned the chair back around, lifting the file and setting it back on the desk as if it were heavy beyond the weight of paper it contained. 'Dr. Director said I should know what I was getting into. Maybe… maybe she was right. Can I risk so much on just a… feeling? One I don't understand at all?'
Ron knocked on Shego's door a few times. “Er, hey, Shego? Ya in there? Ya okay?” He waited a few moments, and when there was no reply, images of poor, weakened Shego having fallen out of bed and gotten a concussion began flooding his head. (Just why he was suddenly worried about poor, weakened Shego, he wasn't sure, but it seemed to be a big deal to Kim.) Preparing to go into hero mode, he threw open the door and ran in, shouting “Shego!”
Ron skidded to a halt, and let out a little scream, his eyes shooting wide open. His sneakers seemed to have welded themselves to the floor, the vertebrae in his neck seemed to have fused into a solid piece, and his eyelids seemed to have grown into the skin of his forehead.
“Hm, nekkie Shego,” Rufus commented from Ron's pocket.
“Would you maybe like to take a -picture-, Stoppable?” Shego snarled, eyes narrowed and pupils having retracted into long vertical slits, fangs glistening.
Of course, pretty much all of her was glistening. Shego apparently favored the drip dry approach after showering.
“Humma, humma, hummahummahumma,” Ron stammered, searching his brain for an apology, or at the very least, some semblance of human language.
“Okay, allow me to rephrase that in a way you might understand.” Shego turned and seized a decorative snowglobe from her bedside table and hurled it at Ron, the plastic dome striking him right between the eyes and sending him stumbling backwards. “GET! OUT!”
Luckily for Ron, the snowglobe hitting him forced him to blink, giving him an instant of not being hypnotized by puffy green nipples. (Or, for that matter, jiggles resulting from the throwing motion.) Trying to keep his eyes closed while shouting garbled apologies, he turned and scrambled towards the door, somehow managing to dodge the barrage of other knickknacks thrown at him. He did, however, slam face-first into the wall next to the door, and have to quickly shove himself off and throw himself through the doorway and onto his face on the floor. Part of a second later, he heard the door slam behind him.
“Well.” Ron raised his head enough to turn it and rest his cheek on the stone of the floor, Rufus bounding out to stand in front of his face. “I guess we can tell Kim that Shego's up and about, huh?”
“Mm, active,” Rufus agreed, nodding energetically.
Shego's heart was pounding, her breath hissing between her clenched teeth as she swiped a towel at the dampest parts of her body before she flopped down to sit on the side of the bed. She was almost trembling, much moreso than the surprise and anger of being walked in on while naked should account for.
'It's because he was a male and he was staring at me,' came the realization after a moment. Shego closed her eyes tightly, forcing herself to take control of her breathing, try to even it out, try not to get even more flustered over how it felt like she needed more air than she was taking in.
Sure, her shower was usually her… private time… and she'd felt a little… itchy… though she'd still felt a bit too bone-weary and a bit ill to try that. But she shouldn't be having that sort of reaction, especially to -Stoppable- of all people. The new animal feelings lurking just under her skin didn't care about that, though.
'My -libido-?' she groaned internally, dropping onto her back on the bed and letting her arms flop out to the sides. 'It had to enhance that, too?! Well thank you very much!'
“Kim?” Wade knocked on the doorframe of the open office door.
“… Yes, Wade?” Kim was sitting in the high-backed chair behind the desk, turned away from the door, hidden by the high rise of the leather.
“I've got some new intel. I tracked down DNAmy.”
“Where is she?” Kim inquired, tone sounding rather flat.
“Uh… GJ has her,” Wade answered sheepishly. “She's in a secure facility on the East Coast.”
“I need to talk to her.”
“Um. Okay. It shouldn't be too hard to pull up some blueprints so we can start working on a plan to get you in there.”
“Please and thank you,” Kim replied distantly.
Looking worried, Wade leaned back out of the room and crossed to the main computer. After a few moments, Kim turned the chair back around, and set Shego's file back on the desk. Then she stood and walked out to join Wade.
“You're doing good, Kim.”
Kim didn't respond to the compliment in her ear, eyes focused on the trio of screens in front of her, and the minute corrections to her course she was making with the pair of joysticks her hands were wrapped around.
In less than an hour, she and Wade had found the plans of the facility, and decided the best way to get in. Using a “human delivery torpedo” Wade had found in Drakken's storage garage and some tunneling devices from a failed plot, Kim would time her insertion into the facility with a daily eruption from an underwater volcano several hundred miles away that nevertheless caused minor disruptions in the tremor-sensing alarms. She would have to hit a point in a wall between two alarm wires that was just barely big enough for the torpedo, use the drill exactly, and quickly, before the twenty-seven second eruption was over.
Then, she would have to carefully navigate the security in the long-term, never-see-sunlight-again holding area, and make her way two levels up to the interrogation and detainment center where DNAmy's cell was, all the while avoiding being seen by video cameras, guards, or other GJ employees. Then, if necessary, she would have to engineer a way to get DNAmy out of the facility on the fly, with nothing else than her typical array of gadgets and her memory of the facility's layout.
But then, they didn't call her the girl who could do anything for nothing.
“Slow it down a little, Kim,” Wade cautioned. “This thing's radar-confusing, but if you have to sit outside the rock wall for more than a second, they still might pick you up.”
Kim carefully dialed back her speed slightly, checking her progress on one of the screens, then checking her timetable. There. That should do it.
It was some strange mixture of hot and cold in the torpedo. The instrumentation and her own body heat had sweat glistening on her skin and collecting under her clothes, the air warm and muggy. But along her front, where she lay on the floor, and even through her gloves where she had to touch different things, the torpedo itself felt almost icy to the touch, and a pair of cold spots were slowly growing on the backs of her thighs, where the external air tanks steadily blew in her supply of oxygen, cooled by the ocean water surrounding her.
All in all, she was halfway hoping that she'd need to engineer a daring escape for DNAmy, so that she wouldn't have to get back inside this thing.
The forward display showed a wall of rock steadily filling up the screen, while another showed her position as a little black dot, with dark lines marking the rock wall, and red lines marking the internal wall of the facility.
“Down two inches.”
“Got it,” Kim murmured, adjusting her course ever-so-slightly, before bringing the torpedo to a full stop right in front of the wall. Her mind was furiously doing calculations of buoyancy and the current readings, as the counter hit zero. She gave a short blast of a single maneuvering jet, then activated the drill.
A tunnel perfectly sized for the torpedo began appearing in the rock less than an inch ahead of its nose, Kim nudging forward, feeling her entire body vibrate down to her bones as the torpedo moved itself through the rock not on a buoyant cushion of water, but a much thinner cushion of sound waves. Her third display was now filled with streaming data from the tunneling device and a timer in one corner. The timer seemed like it was going way too fast.
Gritting her teeth and feeling them buzz against each other, Kim dialed up the device as much as she dared, watching both the power pack and the tremor output hover just beneath the red sections of their bars, watching the timer speed towards zero.
With nine tenths of a second to spare, her progress diagram showed that she was the exact right distance through the wall, and she immediately shut off the tunneler, waiting half a second before popping the hatch, the front of the torpedo splitting in half ahead of her.
A wash of cool air hit her face, sterile in a different way than the air inside the torpedo had been. Filtered rather than both stored and filtered, she was guessing. She listened intently for either alarms or running feet, anything to show that she'd blown her error margin of two millimeters.
Nothing. All quiet on the subterranean front.
Reaching her arms forward, Kim took hold of the sides of the torpedo and pulled herself out of it, flipping her body around to drop lightly onto the floor, her feet splashing in the large puddle of water that had once been trapped in front of the torpedo. The hallway was long, and grey, with large doors that had no handles or keypads set in it at intervals.
Kim lowered a pair of goggles into place in front of her eyes, her vision now tinged with green as she looked up and down the hallway. No lasers. No cameras.
“I'm tapped in,” Wade whispered, despite the fact that even if he'd shouted at the top of his lungs, anyone standing more than two feet from Kim might hear a faint buzz. “Scanning through the goggles… nope, nothing. They must have focused the security around the entryway.”
“Okay,” Kim whispered back, starting to slip down the hallway, keeping alert, ears straining for any slight sound of someone approaching.
Kim almost slipped and hit the floor at the sudden greeting out of nowhere. Instead she stopped still, eyes widening behind the goggles.
“Hm. You must be new.”
The redhead slowly looked to the side, directly at one of the doors. She realized that there must be someone inside talking to her. Curiosity overcoming better sense, Kim edged over to the door and pushed her goggles up to look through the 1'x1', several inch thick glass with small holes drilled in it that formed the door's sole window.
Against the back wall of a sell there was a flat, broad, low metal shelf that was apparently stuck right into the concrete without any other fastenings. Sitting on the shelf as if it were a bench was a woman with long, wavy pink hair, ears that stuck out to the side and curved around rather like a cat's, and a pair of dark black slashes across her eyes, like tattoos. A skintight orange bodysuit covered her from neck to toe. Her pink eyebrows raised at the sight of Kim peering in at her.
“Who are you?” Kim asked, blinking.
“Now I know you don't work for GJ at all. Every new hire gets a two hour lecture on what happens if they talk to me. Or so I hear, the one time someone disobeyed. Never saw him again, guess they were serious.”
The pink-haired woman sat back and folded her arms, a clinking drawing Kim's eyes to the chains attached to her wrists. A pair of thick manacles encircled the woman's wrists, the orange cloth around the metal stained dark. Just why it was stained dark occurred to Kim, and for a moment she abandoned all thought of her mission.
“You're hurt! I'll get help!”
“Huh?” The pink-haired woman blinked, then glanced at her wrists. Then she laughed. “Way to prove me right.”
“… Wha?” Distracted from her Samaritan-ship by the strange reaction, Kim stayed rooted where she was.
“You really don't know who I am, huh? Damn. And here I thought I'd left my mark on history.” The prisoner ran her fingers through her hair, shaking her head ruefully. “My wrists aren't slashed or anything. The bolts on the manacles just go through the middle.”
“Yeah. Right through the middle. See, that way, I can't just yank my hands through the cuffs and scrape most of the flesh off to get free. If I did that with these, it'd take a good long while before my hands healed up from being too mangled, makes escaping tons harder.”
“Who -are- you?” Kim repeated, horror and confusion mingled.
“I was called Punk. Y'know, like 'pink' but with more rebelling against authority?” the prisoner replied dryly, giving a lock of pink hair a flick. “I used to be Gemini's head lieutenant.”
“But I've never seen you when I've gone up against Gemini…”
“Kid, the last time I breathed free air, you were probably learning to walk without falling on your butt. I worked for Gemini back when he was still throwing tantrums over his little sister busting up his plans at world domination every week.”
Punk's voice had been nonchalant and offhanded the entire time, but there was the faintest little waiver during the words “little sister”. Kim stared for long moments, before blurting out the thought rebounding off the insides of her skull.
“You used to be Dr. Director's archfoe?!”
“Heh. 'Dr. Director', I can't get over that.” Punk shook her head, then shrugged, grinning ruefully. “Yup. Me and Betsy used to tussle it up on a regular basis.”
Kim opened and closed her mouth a few times, a thousand questions all wanting to be asked at once.
“What's your name, Red? Sorry to pry, since you're obviously here for something else, but I don't get much company.”
“Well, Kim. What's up?”
“… I, uh… I need to talk to a prisoner who's in the interrogation area…”
“Not too tough. The air vents are too small to crawl through, but only at the access points down here. If you can get through the security protocol and laser grid on the elevator, you can access the maintenance room between this floor and the next one, and get into the vents from there. You'll need deft fingers to work the occasional complicated release mechanism for a grate, but I'm betting you won't have a problem with that.”
“… Can I… ask you something? Well, two somethings.”
“Sure. We've got time, I don't get fed and watered until tomorrow.”
“What was it like… between you and Dr. Director?”
Punk smirked and started to open her mouth. Then she closed it, eyes sinking closed as well. It took a few seconds before she answered, in a tired-sounding voice.
“It was… the best part of my life that I can remember. There was something special in the way we fought. It just felt… right. Like sometimes when you pull on a shirt off the rack, and it feels like you've owned it for years. It was weird… we pretty much never saw each other that we didn't try to beat the crap out of each other, but… somehow…”
“You were friends.”
“Hm. Maybe more.” Punk slowly grinned again. “But I think you know what that's like already, don't you?”
“I… I don't know…” Kim bit her lip, glancing down the hall, before looking back into the cell. “Punk… what happened?”
“You mean, how'd I wind up in here, with these?” Punk lifted her hands, the chains clinking again. “Oh, simple stuff gone all wrong. It was supposed to be a standard power upgrade sort of thing. Add to my already superhuman sense of balance and agility with enhanced strength and the ability to heal. Problem was, it had at least one of the same side effects as steroids. My temper got a lot, lot shorter.”
“… Did you…?”
“I think I know what you're asking. And there's not a simple answer.” When Kim remained silent, Punk continued her explanation. “Bets and I were having our little fight, chasing each other all over the compound, when I managed to grab ahold of her and start putting on a helluva bear hug. That's when Gemini gets it into his head to 'help', and lashes at her with this new energy whip thing he'd put together.
“It was probably completely luck… I think he just wanted to smack her across the back, hurt her a little, but it hit her right in the eye. She screamed like nothing I'd ever heard before. You ever heard someone scream until their throat actually contracts and no more sound will come out?”
Kim shook her head, the motion causing a few of the tears in her eyes to escape and slide down her cheeks.
“I have. How about ever being so mad that you literally saw red, that ever happen to you?”
Again, another headshake. More tears.
“I don't recommend either one. I felt her go limp, and I just sort of laid her down on the ground. Then I went at Gemini hard and fast. I guess his henchmen knew from the way I was screaming I wasn't going to congratulate him. I tore them apart. Literally. They just sort of went to pieces in my hands if they were even a little bit between him and me.
“I guess it made quite an impression on Bettie when she came around and saw all those corpses torn to bits, and me covered in blood with her brother screaming in front of me, my hands on his head and one thumb buried in his eye. She emptied the power clip of one of the henchman's zappers at me. When I woke up, I was in a cell.
“I escaped a couple of times, the first couple of years I was in here. They've really gone all-out to keep me in, though, and really, I just dunno if there's a lot of point anymore. They've given up on bringing psychologists or anything like that in. I'm just too much of a danger to society, apparently.”
Kim leaned her forehead against the glass, closing her eyes. She understood now. It had begun to become clear the moment she learned who Punk had once been. But she understood it all so clearly now. She pressed a hand to her chest, feeling like her heart was thudding against her ribs slow and heavy, like a slave ship's drum in her ears.
“You okay, Kimmy?”
Kim's head shot up. For a moment, she'd thought it was Shego's voice. But it was Punk staring at her, head tilted curiously.
“I… I'm fine. I have to go. Um, stuff to do, y'know.”
“Yeah, I understand. No problem. Good luck, and all.”
The redhead stepped back and started to turn only to look back through the window at a call of “Hey, kid!”
“You think…” Punk shrugged a little. “You think you could ask Betsy to drop by every so often? Even if she just wants to glare at me, tell me I make her sick? Anything?” Punk's eyes softened, glistening a little. Her voice, so smooth and nonchalant, took on a hint of longing. “I haven't seen her since… well, y'know… that day. I kinda just wanna know… how she's doing.”
Kim stared, for long moments. Then she replied, with what she felt was total honesty, “She misses you. And the way it used to be.”
“… Eh.” Punk rubbed the back of her hand across her cheeks. “Get outta here before ya get caught, Red. I don't need a cellmate.”
Kim went. But she was pretty sure she knew exactly what Punk needed.
As impossible as it would seem to defeat some of the most advanced security systems in the world while extremely distracted, Kim managed to do it. With Wade's constant help in her ear, she got through the elevator doors, and climbed up through the laser beams, avoiding the sweeps of the camera.
Punk's advice turned out to be pretty helpful, and soon Kim was crawling through ventilation ducts, not an unusual activity for her. She inched along through the world of dim green tunnels, a map superimposed on her goggles, until she came to a grate that looked down on a fairly comfortable-seeming cell with glass walls. Shifting around a little, Kim pressed her face to the grate, looking down at the little round woman sitting and reading a Collector's Guide to Cuddle Buddies.
Resisting the urge to ask what the Snorkalope from 1992 was worth, Kim hissed softly. “Amy! Don't look up and don't speak unless you hide your mouth with the book!”
DNAmy jumped a little, and almost looked up, but apparently decided that she was interested in what Kim had to say.
“Listen, this is really important. Drakken took some research you did-”
“Oh, yes,” DNAmy whispered cheerfully, holding her book up a bit higher. “That's all the GJ fellows have been asking about, too. If you're going to ask if there's a cure, then no, afraid not!”
“What?” Kim blinked.
“I abandoned that line of research over a year ago. It just wasn't very cute, was it? Lots of better ways to make somebody cuter with animal DNA. I never really completed that project, so there was no point to working on an antidote.”
Kim slumped, resting her face against the vent grill.
“Oh, I am sorry, deary,” Amy said, actually sounding sincere. “It must be quite a big deal, if everyone's so worked up over it.”
“Do you… do you think if you got out of here…?”
“Well, I suppose I could try and work something up. But they're watching me pretty heavily, dear, and just… all that excitement and running around. And they -were- nice enough to buy me the latest Guide…”
“… Alright. I'll… I'll work something out.” Kim grit her teeth, thinking furiously.
“Good luck, deary. Hope it works out for you!”
“Yeah. … Um, say, on that last page…?”
“$217.45, dear, if the tag's still on.”
Kim stayed distracted through the process of hotwiring one of the facility's escape pods. No doubt about it, they'd eventually notice the launch even with the various systems disabled, but by that time Ron and Mego should have recovered her in the hovercraft, and they'll have nothing but an empty pod to find. And her scheduled chat with Dr. Director was in just over three hours. They might suspect it was her that broke in, but they wouldn't have time to confirm, unless Punk decided to talk.
Either way, as she bobbed up and down lightly in the floating pod, Kim rested her chin in her hands and thought. She had plenty to think about, after all. What she'd learned in the facility had almost been worth the trip, even if DNAmy hadn't had much hope to give. It certainly explained a number of things.
She had a choice to make. It simultaneously seemed extremely complicated and extremely simple. And she intended to have it made by the time she got back to the hideout.
Ron glanced at his friend as she sat in the back seat of the hovercraft. She'd gone to that intense, focused place he'd seen more and more of in the last week. Her eyes were like smooth emerald chips, focused straight ahead, lips tight and thin.
“So, uh, KP… Shego's up and about!” Ron noted, trying to sound cheerfully.
“Boy and how,” Rufus chirped, eyeing the large bruise between Ron's eyes.
“Good. That's good to know,” Kim murmured. “That's helpful.”
“Well aren't we a little conversational delight?” Mego muttered.
“Hush, man,” Ron hissed, before turning around. “Uh, KP, listen, I know it didn't go how you wanted, but-”
“Ron,” Kim interrupted, looking at her friend. “Are you with me?”
“Huh?” The blonde boy blinks a few times.
“I know this has been tough. We've been best friends a really long time. I'm asking you, basically… are you with me, through this?”
“KP, how could you even ask? No matter where you go… well, I mean… I guess there's a couple of things I just couldn't ever approve of… but… I trust you not to do that kind of stuff.” Ron smiled, reaching out to put his hand on his friend's shoulder. “I know you'd never make a decision I wouldn't back you up on.”
Kim nodded, once. “… Okay. Mego… would you please radio the hideout, have everyone gathered together by the time we get there?”
“Oh sure, not like it's a big deal to do that while I'm already flying the-”
“Please and thank you.”
Shego milled about the main room of the hideout, keeping her distance from the others. Getting so many other cues from the way they smelled or the minute ways they moved was still confusing, and keeping some distance kept everyone from offering to support her as she walked. She was fine. Still felt aching and tired, but she got the sense that was going to be around for awhile.
She paused in the doorway of Drakken's office, staring in. Kim's scent was heavy here… she'd apparently been here awhile. Shego slowly walked into the room, gazing along the shelf with Drakken's few little possessions he always managed to salvage or take with him from base to base. Then, as her gaze tracked down to the desk, her body stiffened.
Had Kim been reading this? The thought made her legs feel a little weaker than they really should, her heart speed up a bit, and neither of these were in the good way. She knew what that file contained. After all, she'd lived it. And in some cases, lived with it.
'She read my file?! How could she?!' Shego scowled, almost literally feeling her hackles raise. Then her shoulders slumped. 'Why shouldn't she? She should know what she's doing all this for. She should know why she shouldn't do it anymore.'
Some part of her heard and smelled the computer geek coming before she really knew he was there, so she didn't jump. Instead, she just turned around and looked at him flatly.
“Um, Kim's back.”
With a nod, Shego walked out into the room, standing grouped with everyone else Kim had dragged into this mess. Maybe a few of them would be able to salvage their lives.
Kim strode into the room, shoulders squared, seeming taller than she had been when she left, oddly enough. Her gaze swept over everyone, nodding that they were all there.
“Good. Great. Okay, everyone. I've got things I need from everybody, and I'm just going to have to ask you to trust me if it seems really out there. Mom?”
“What is it, Kimmy?”
“I've got some emergency sewing jobs. Simple stuff, but it needs to look good, and I need you to put those Halloween costume skills to work and do it fast.”
“Well, I've never let you down on a last-minute school play before, sweetie, I won't now.”
“Ron, I have a special project for you.”
“Huh? For me?”
“This is something I need you to do. Go to the zen place, because I need you to set aside any thoughts of not being able to do it and just DO it. Get Wade's help if you need it, once he's found the security hole.”
“Er… sure, KP. I'll… I'll do my best.”
“Mm, zen place!”
“I'll hand out other assignments as we get stuff finished. Wade, I need you to find a new security hole. I'm gonna be making an announcement right to Dr. Director, and we're not waiting for her timeframe.”
Kim's eyes swept over the group again, and this time lingered on Shego. Their eyes met, green and green-on-yellow locked. Then Kim turned away.
“C'mon, everybody, this is gonna be a busy three hours.”
“It could have been her, but why?” Dr. Director paced back and forth, cupping her chin. “DNAmy was there, but what could she have learned?”
“Well, Dr. Director, I-” Will began.
Suddenly, the large screens around the GJ nerve center flickered, and became filled with Kim Possible's face. The room's occupants, including Dr. Director and Will, started slightly, before Dr. Director strolled casually up to the main screen, keeping her voice light.
“Kim, you're a little early. I hope this means you were eager to tell me you've come to the right decision.”
Kim's face was solemn and serious as she nodded once. “Yes, Dr. Director. I have.”
“And that decision is this,” Kim interrupted. The camera slowly pulled out to reveal the whole room she was standing in.
Kim was wearing her standard cargo pants and black belly-top, though the pants were black. Over that was one of Drakken's blue coats, left open in front, the sleeves cut off, the shoulders flared dramatically. Standing behind her, to one side, was Shego, her hands clasped behind her back, her brothers arranged behind her. To the other side was Ron, trying to look at ease in a modified minion uniform to give him a somewhat more dashing air.
And behind them towered an enormous machine with a drill on one end and what looked like laser pods dotted across its surface.
“If you do not immediately call off your manhunt for Shego, and turn DNAmy over to us at a place and time of my choosing, I will release the Lava Tunneler. It will travel through liquid magma rivers, untraceable, uncatchable. Every two hours, it will blast its lasers through rock and stone and send hot lava pouring into a Global Justice base, destroying it.”
Dr. Director's mouth was hanging open. Out of an average twenty years of service, none of the people in the room had ever seen that happen.
“I'll give each base a fifteen minute warning, but that won't be enough time to save it, just the people inside. I suggest you think about this very seriously, Dr. Director.”
“Kim!” Dr. Director blurted, her eye wide. “What are you doing?!”
“I'm being what you decided to label me as, 'Betsy',” Kim replied coolly, leaning forward until her face filled the camera again. “A supervillain.”
Then, Kim cut the communication.
-End Part Two