Kim lay on her stomach in bed, the pillow pulled up to tuck under her chin. She still hadn't really gotten comfortable enough in this new environment to sleep comfortably anyway, but the thoughts buzzing through her brain wouldn't let her relax enough to sleep from anything but pure exhaustion anyway, it seemed like. And considering that she had near superhuman endurance, that sometimes meant sleeping only every other night.
She tossed a glance at the clock on the bedside table, and sighed a bit as she saw that it was a quarter past six. Almost time to get up anyway. She jumped a little at a sudden beep, wondering if the alarm clock had somehow gone off early, then realized it was the phone beside the bed, beeping the tone for an internal communication. She picked the thin, bar-like device up and put it to her ear. “Kim here, what's the sitch?”
“… Shego?” Kim blinked, pushing herself up a little on the bed. “Is everything okay?!”
“Huh? Oh, yeah, fine. Did I wake you up or something…?”
“No. Not really.” Kim frowned a little. “So what's up?”
“… I dunno. I just kinda wanted to talk to you.”
“Oh.” Kim blinked again, then turned to sprawl out on her back, still holding the phone to her ear with one hand. “Nice. I mean, good. I'd like that. … To talk to you.”
“Don't freak out, Princess, it's not like I'm gonna ask you out to Bueno Nacho.”
“Heh. Well, that's true, I guess. Any particular reason you decided to beep me?”
“Maybe. … I dunno. It's kinda weird.”
“As opposed to the rest of our lives?” Kim prompted dryly.
“Yeah, there's that. That's true. Hm… well. Lately I've been having all these nightmares, see…”
Kim tensed up a little, recalling her own nightmares that had contributed to her sleeplessness. Vaguely-remembered ventures in dark water that felt like nothing, clinging to Shego as they were crushed in the coils of…
She shivered, and tried her best to sound nonchalant as she prompted with “Yeah?”
“It's just… I didn't. I had this weird dream that… I don't guess it was a nightmare, it might even have been good. But… weird, definitely.”
“Out with it,” Kim pressed, smiling now.
“Okay, okay. It was about you and me. And I guess Drakken was in it, too. He'd done something stupid again, and you were… uh…”
“Dead?” Kim asked, voice quieting.
“What? No! God no. Like I said, it wasn't a nightmare.”
“Oh.” Kim flushed a little in pleasure, though she wasn't exactly sure how much of a compliment it was that Shego would find her death nightmarish. It wasn't exactly a statement of undying love, after all.
“But you were, uh… you were pregnant.”
“Not by DRAKKEN!” Kim actually sat up in bed, making a face, then immediately felt bad. The idea was still quite disturbing, but she felt guilty to react so strongly now that he was dead.
“Nuh-uh. Again, not a nightmare.”
“Sure.” Kim flopped back again, trying to calm down. “So whose was it, then?”
“Um. … Mine.”
“Yup. Mine. And I got all pissed at him and beat him up. Then I quit villainy so I could take care of you and the kids.”
“Uh. Kids as in plural?”
“Yeah. Twins. … Kinda goofy names, but considering my family, who'm I to talk?”
“I and my rhyme scheme siblings have nothing to condemn, I suppose. So, wow, you really quit villainy?”
“Yeah. And there was a sassy talking plane and a big dramatic wedding and all that. Like I said, weird, like some kind of sitcom.”
“Dreams are like that,” Kim acknowledged, shaking her head against the pillow.
“I know. … Still…”
“Hm?” Kim turned her head towards the phone, as if that would somehow let her get a look at the expression on Shego's face, despite the green-skinned woman being quartered at the other end of the hall.
“There were times where it felt really… good. Like, really good.”
“… Yeah.” Shego paused again, before continuing, her tone very soft. “I know it's mushy, and unrealistic, but somehow holding something in my arms that was part you and part me made me feel…” There was a moment of quiet, before she finished with. “I don't know that I can even describe it now that I'm awake.”
“Maybe your biological clock's just ticking,” Kim teased gently, though she imagined that the look on her face was unbearably gooey at the moment.
“Heh. Maybeso. Hope it doesn't make me sound like some stalkery freak to be talking about us having kids when we don't even… er…”
“No. It doesn't.” Kim paused, then added quickly, “I mean, dreams are dreams, you don't have any control over them. But maybe… I mean… do you think we should talk about this thing between us?”
“It… is kind of easier, over the phone,” Shego admitted, sounding slightly relieved. “I don't have to… well, smell and feel you all over me.”
“Is it really that intense for you?”
Shego was silent for a few seconds before venturing, “Promise not to freak out?”
“Promise to do my best,” Kim replied honestly.
“Okay. … Sometimes I wanna… eat you.”
Kim blinked, unsure of whether to blush or barricade her door. “Uh.”
“Er, maybe that's too strong. I mean…” She heard Shego exhale strongly, pictured her pacing back and forth with that sleek, deadly grace that had either always been her nature or had been endowed to her with the changes to her body. “I seriously do sometimes want to… have my teeth in you, or drag my nails or claws or whatever along your skin. It's like the way that I want you… y'know… WANT you…”
“Yeah.” She was definitely blushing now.
“Well, it gets all mixed up with this animal thing in me. The part that wants me to eat raw meat and run down anyone that seems nervous. By the way, could you tell sidekick boy to either grow a spine or stay out of my way? Every time he crosses my path I want to tackle him and shake him like a bottled frappucino.”
“I'll make a note of it,” Kim replied dryly, now more amused than anything else.
“But it's definitely this want for violence mixed into… the other stuff. Like that kiss…”
“Yeah.” Kim nodded, smiling. “Yeah, I definitely get that.”
She listened to Shego take a few deep breaths, finding she somehow enjoyed the sound of the other woman breathing.
“It worries me, though,” Shego finally admitted. “I mean, far be it from me to say no to a bit of rough nookie…”
“Nookie?” Kim covered her smile with one hand, despite the fact that Shego wouldn't be able to see it anyway.
“Yeah yeah. Thing is… I don't wanna think about that being… it.”
“It?” Kim blinked, confused, then gave a soft 'hm'. “You mean you don't want to think about just being an animal in the sack?”
“To put it bluntly, which is my favorite way, yes.”
“Shego, are you saying you'd like to… cuddle?” The redhead actually smiled so wide it hurt a little.
“Rub it in, why don't you?” Shego sighed. “But something like that. But then, every time I touch you, it's like trying to hold a tiger back with tinfoil.”
Kim took a deep breath, and let it out, closing her eyes. “Shego, I'm sorry if I've been pushing you. It's not really fair, I know. I can't really understand what you're going through, and it's just not fair to think because I'm suddenly ready to handle it, that you are.”
“… Thanks, Pum-… Kim. That means a lot to me. … Honest.”
“I know it does. You only call me Kim when you really mean it.” The younger woman smiled again. “Forget what I said the other day. Call me whatever you like usually… save my name for when you really mean it.”
“Okay. You got it.” The richness and warmth that had entered Shego's voice was one of the more rewarding sounds of Kim's young life, moreso at the positively purring tone of the added, “Kim.”
“Now who's pressing?” the redhead murmured, turning over again and pressing her face into the pillow.
“Mm. Got any thoughts on a new supervillainous plan, by the way?”
Kim sighed, the reminder cooling her building ardor nicely. She raised her head, propping her chin on one forearm. “Not a one.”
“Could I make a suggestion?”
“Sure, I guess.”
“Your little computer nerd was griping all yesterday about something a computer company was doing with their new release.”
Kim wracked her brain for a moment, before nodding. “Right, the new iVeggie. Comes in twelve decorative colors, from pickle to carrot.”
“I did some checking, turns out a caravan of trucks is shipping a bunch of them out on Thursday. Might as well paint a big target on 'em saying 'Supervillain who needs crayon-colored computers, rob us'.”
“You… want me to steal computers?”
“Yeah. From another supervillain.”
Kim blinked, then grinned. “You mean, wait until some other supervillain steals them, then steal them from -him-?”
“Yup. And then we can decide from there what to do with 'em.”
It had possibilities. Kim mulled it over. Poor schools with a room suddenly converted to a computer lab in the middle of the night? They'd have a dickens of a time figuring out how to keep the school from getting in trouble if someone found out the computers were stolen. Still, even the idea itself was starting to give her other ideas. Supervillains came up with wacky devices that had theoretically beneficial uses all the time, after all, so stealing from them could definitely lead to some villainous heroics.
“I'll think about it. It's definitely a neat idea. Thanks, Shego.”
“Like you say, Princess, so not the drama.”
“How's it feel?” Punk asked, hands resting on her hips as she watched Babs slowly move around the room.
The redheaded woman was naked save for the silvery bands wrapped around her torso and legs. A thin metal collar surrounded her neck, a squarish bulge on the back displaying a few blinking lights and plugin ports. A broad silver band ran down the length of her spine, with a similar, though much thinner one running down her front from the collar and going between her breasts. Her midsection was encased almost completely, bolstering the damaged section of her spine, with more bands coming down her hips all the way to her ankles, the occasional strip of metal wrapped around her thighs and calves.
She was still moving slowly, but Punk thought a lot of it was probably due to amazement at being on her feet again after spending a fair chunk of her adult life in a wheelchair.
“It feels… good,” Babs allowed after a moment, standing still and twisting a bit. “Kind of stiff, but I think I just need to get used to it.”
“Gotta say, I'm impressed.” Punk walked over and rested her hands on the redhead's chrome-encased waist. “I figured it was gonna look like one of those robot suits out of the old cartoons. You could wear this under your costume, let alone normal clothes.”
Babylon nodded, looking down at herself again, too absorbed in this miracle to even think about blushing due to her nudity and the other woman's proximity. The bitterness, however, wasn't that easy to shake off, and she scowled a little as she wondered how long Dr. Rexton's son would have been the only one to benefit from this technology if GJ hadn't snagged it to put one of their temporary agents in the field.
However, as the door started to slide open, she quickly grabbed the robe off of the back of a nearby chair and hauled it on. Modesty had worn away just a little after years of necessity with medical professionals and personal trainers, and Punk's easygoing, genial nature made it easy to feel fairly at-ease with her. But when she saw who was walking in, she was quite glad she'd covered up.
The moment she'd wheeled into the Global Justice base, she knew that her sponsor and the director had a history. And whatever that history was, it resulted in the short-haired woman looking at Babs with something approaching hatred. She sincerely doubted it had anything to do with her disability, since the look only intensified whenever Dr. Director was looking at Punk herself. No, Dr. Director despised her because Punk had brought her here. Somehow, Babs doubted she'd be asked to stay on when Punk's little operation was completed.
“Is she ready?” Dr. Director asked coolly, her manner professional and coldly civil, despite the anger burning in her eye.
“Almost. I'll take her through some workouts throughout the day… Ken even said he'd help. We'll rest in the afternoon, and make the hit tonight.”
“And when do you plan to actually find Kim Possible's hideout?” Dr. Director queried, in a tone that said she clearly thought she was sticking a pin in Punk's balloon and thoroughly enjoying it.
“I did that this morning before I came down to the lab,” Babs volunteered, keeping her expression carefully neutral as the one-eyed woman shot her a surprised and annoyed look. “It was easy, if you know where to look.”
She couldn't deny that she got a thrill out of the fact that Dr. Director looked like she wanted to strangle her. If the haughty bitch was going to hate her, she might as well give her a reason other than who'd brought her around.
“Very well,” Dr. Director said after a moment, voice tight. “Thank you, Miss Cordon. … Punk,” she acknowledged with a nod of the head, control of her temper obviously frayed, as she turned and walked out of the room.
The door had barely closed before Punk gave a whoop of laughter and threw her arms around the redhead. “Goddamn, girl! You know how to push buttons on more than a computer!”
Babs grinned, actually putting her arms lightly around Punk's middle. “What can I say? You're a bad influence.”
“Damn right I am.” Punk smirked and drew back, rubbing a thumb across one of the marks on her face. “I like you, Babs. For the first time since before I went up, feels like I've got a friend.”
Babylon blinked, then nodded slowly. “Yeah. I… guess I haven't said how grateful I am for you getting me this opportunity and… everything. But also… yeah, I think we're friends. Already.” A smile gradually curled her lips. “Or maybe we both just like taking strips out of Eyepatch's hide.”
Something ghosted across Punk's features, her own smile fading a little. “Yeah. Maybe. But lay off the thing about the eye, alright?”
“… Sure.” Babs dipped her head, acknowledging that there was apparently a line there she'd crossed inadvertently. After all, she wouldn't exactly want someone calling her 'Limpy', so that made sense.
“Forget about it. C'mon, Babs, get suited up. Me'n'the ninja are gonna put you through the wringer for a few hours before lunch.”
Babylon's own smile returned, full force. “Can't wait.”
“-and that's the news,” DNAmy said in a tone that didn't have the full measure of her usual cheeriness behind it. “It's possible… but not very… that I could restore Shego back to the way she was before, and slightly more possible to just make her a normal human again. But even those would require months and months of research, slowed down by the fact that Shego's the only subject we have, soooo no clinical trials!”
Kim sighed, rubbing her face with both hands. “Thanks, Amy. Keep at it a little longer, at least?”
“Well, dear, I don't mind doing the work, really. I do feel a tad responsible, and what was done to her isn't terribly cute, after all.”
With a smile, Kim nodded. “Thanks. And thanks for the other information, too.”
“Well you're very welcome, dearie!”
Kim strode out of DNAmy's lab, hands clasped behind her back, gaze distant. Amy had been very helpful about pointing out other villains who were working with genetics, including one that worked almost exclusively with plants. If Kim could get ahold of some of his inventions, it sounded like she could sneak completely drought-resistant plants and desert-blooming crops into any number of stricken countries. Which, of course, would have violated more laws about national sovereignty and genetic tampering than she'd have ever been allowed to get away with before, but that wasn't exactly a concern anymore.
The news about Shego was less encouraging, but at least it was some mark of progress, no longer a vague hope, but a definite possibility, albeit a slim and far-off one. She wondered what her villainous sidekick and semi-girlfriend would think of the idea that it would actually be easier to go back to being a normal human than to go back to her regular meteor-induced superpowers.
“Kim!” Wade called as he hurried up, looking agitated. “Why was Shego asking me how easy it would be to eradicate serial numbers from iVeggies?”
“Uh,” Kim replied intelligently, blinking. Not only had she been shocked out of her own musings, but she'd been confronted with what might not be an entirely favorable reaction to a supervillain plot she hadn't even made a decision on yet.
“Kim!” Ron's voice sounded rather panicked as he hurried up from the opposite direction. “I just had this thought, and it was kinda like a memory, about something you maybe were trying to tell me the other day, but it was ridiculous, but could you maybe tell me it wasn't true?”
“Kissy-kissy,” Rufus chirped from Ron's pocket.
Kim shot the naked mole rat a venomous look, then looked up at Ron again, clearing her throat to buy time as she tried to figure out exactly what to say that wouldn't have him passing out and hitting his head on the floor.
“Kim.” A hallway door opened, Dr. Possible stepping out. “I was wondering, have you had a chance to think about what we were talking about yesterday?”
“Uh.” Kim's eyes widened, shooting a glance between Ron and her mother, and adding Wade in as an afterthought.
“Ah, excuse me, Miss Possible.” Hego raised a hand as he walked up, flanked by his younger brothers. “I wanted to ask when we might actually be doing something? After all, we've been waiting around for awhile now.”
“Uh.” Kim shrank in on herself just a little, getting the distinct feeling she was surrounded. In fact, she was beginning to hope that something, anything, would come along to distract from the sudden barrage of questions.
The lights abruptly took on a reddish tinge, alarms sounding from hidden speakers. Shego's voice almost immediately joined the cacophony, calling, “We've got uninvited guests!”
One of these days, Kim thought as she turned and ran down the hallway, she'd learn to be careful what she wished for.
Shego snarled, quite literally, at the board in front of her, lip lifting on one side to reveal a fang as her gaze swept across the screens, which were showing only static.
“This is never a good sign,” she growled to herself. She hated not getting at least a glimpse of what was about to start trying to come through the heavily shielded door in front of her, especially considering that it had come through three of them already.
It started with a faint shrieking sound, and Shego's head snapped up as it grew louder and louder, a tortured screaming that just kept getting worse as what looked disturbingly like frost edged itself up over the inside of the door. The howl of metal under extreme cold came to an abrupt end as the door exploded inward, Shego ducking behind the counter as ice and steel flew threw the air.
“Knock knock,” Punk called, shaking off her hand as she strode forward, yellow eyes sweeping the room, then locking on the hint of movement as Shego stood up. Grinning, she walked forward, Ken and Ice Princess flanking her, Ferretgirl drawing up the rear. “You must be Shego.”
“You've heard of me. Pity I can't say the same about you,” the green-skinned woman replied, stepping out from behind the console and taking up a stance opposite the feline-featured intruder.
“I'm probably just before your time. But playtime's over.” Punk's smile turned into a smirk, eyes narrowing. “I won't bother telling you to go quiet. That wouldn't be any fun.”
“Oh, so you're a masochist.”
“Some say. But we're here to haul you and your girl back to face Betsy's tender mercies. And frankly, you're outclassed. So any time you wanna lay down and go unconscious, it's okay by me.”
“Sorry, but I'm not gonna be as easy as your usual dates,” Shego replied, her lip curling, though the difference between that and her earlier snarl was a hair's breadth.
“Oo. Relationship jabs. Nice. Very nice.” Punk chuckled softly, then took a step back. “Go.”
Ice Princess took a step forward and swept her arm up as if rolling a ball, ice spikes bursting from the floor in a long line sweeping right at Shego. Snarling, Shego backflipped away from the deadly wall of frost, landing and immediately swiping her hands at the pair of throwing stars curving through the air to come at her from both sides, the sharpened metal deflecting off the claws in her gloves and the green glow surrounding her hands.
Another wall of ice spikes was roaring right at her, and this time Shego leapt upwards, legs together and swinging around to move through a slower flip, giving the last spike time to form so that she could brace her feet against its surface. She felt her feet start to slip, but even through her boots her toes curled and her feet shifted in such a way that she had purchase for the part of a moment that she needed it. Launching forward, hurtling less than an inch over the top of the glinting points of the spikes, Shego drew back her fist and tensed her muscles.
All Ice Princess really had time to see was Shego's face twisted in a feral snarl and then a very rapidly incoming fist before she was hurled backwards by the force of the blow, actually spinning around until her head clunked on the floor before she skidded across to almost touch the far wall.
Shego slowly rose out of the low crouch she'd landed in, nostrils flaring with every hard breath. Normally, she'd be hitting her stride with quips about now, all smarm and sass. But she was distracted by the feel of her blood rushing through her veins, or at least it seemed like she could feel it… she felt like she was in motion even though she was standing still. Her eyes, now rimmed by yellow rather than white and with thin, vertical pupils, slid back and forth between Punk and Ken. Her upper lip curled, baring a fang again.
Punk's own expression had gone decidedly grim, but at least she wasn't betraying the distinct chill she'd felt run up and down her spine. She'd had a long time to consider just what her face might have looked like just before she'd reduced twenty men to spare parts, and she couldn't shake the feeling that it had looked something like that.
Across the room, Ferret Girl grinned a little bitterly at the information scrolling by on her laptop's screen, cables running from it and into the guts of a console she'd pulled the face off of. The first minute or so had been a relative breeze, with extremely good firewalls and defenses, but nothing she couldn't have taken care of after being awake for thirty hours and having a severe headcold. Then the system had apparently started to defend itself rather more effectively. Mr. Away must have found himself somewhere to hunker down and defend his system, and that was just fine by her.
'Alright, Wade. You've been fiddling with gruntwork for a cheerleader and IT contracts for big business for awhile. Let's see if you've still got some authentic hacker chops.'
Kim Possible sounded almost pleased as she burst into the room, and Punk had to suppress a grin that cut through some of her sense of danger. The kid either wasn't taking this seriously enough, or she'd settled in much faster than expected.
“But I don't remember inviting any of you to a housewarming!” the redhead finished as she came to a stop, posing with her hands on her hips. She looked good. The blonde with the bald rat on his shoulder trying to strike some sort of Hong Kong Cinema pose behind her wasn't quite as impressive.
“Just call us party-crashers,” Punk answered breezily, taking a step back and to the side and shrugging expansively, making sure she was facing, at least in general, towards both Kim and Shego. “Heya, Red.”
“You.” Kim blinked, drawing up short as she parsed Punk's current appearance with her voice and face. “What are -you- doing here?!”
“Betsy cracked open my container to shut you down. Sorry, Red, but that's the way it's gotta be.” Punk's grin faded. “This isn't the little leagues anymore. People are gonna get hurt here if you want to do it the hard way, too.”
“I'm handling this, Princess,” Shego growled, her fingers clenching into fists a few times. “They aren't anything I can't kick right back out.”
The redheaded teenager looked at Shego, perhaps picking up on the fact that she didn't sound quite normal, herself. Then she looked back at Punk, grinning a little grimly. “You heard the lady. Shoo.”
Punk stared at Kim for long moments, as if silently asking her something. Kim didn't intend to provide any particular answer, but the pink-haired fighter apparently found one there anyway. Something almost like pain flickered across her features, before she nodded.
“Okay. We can do it like that.”
She suddenly burst into motion, leaping into the air so fast that she was almost a blur. Kim, Ron, and Shego's eyes widened, and Shego jerked into motion to grab for Punk, only to twist at the last second and narrowly avoid a slash from the ninja-to Ken had whipped from its sheath on his back.
Kim threw herself backwards, Ron yelping and taking a flying leap to the side to keep her from tripping over him. Punk's fist slammed into the floor where Kim had been standing a moment before, the metal plate cratering and peeling up from its fastenings at the edge, almost as if it were trying to curl around Punk's hand. The pink-haired woman was upright immediately, twirling in a spinkick that narrowly missed Kim's nose as the redhead continued to stumble back and away. A punch came at her face and she barely dodged to the side, shaky and off-balance, and unable to do a thing about the follow-up jab that took her in the stomach and actually lifted her off her feet.
Kim's eyes widened, pupils contracting, her mouth opening wide in a cry of pain that instead came out as a short, ragged cough flecked with spittle. She felt some shift in Punk's grip, and then the world went topsy-turvy as she went flying through the air to one side, everything jarring to an abrupt and painful halt before she slid to the ground. Some analytical part of her brain was trying to inform her that Punk had just thrown her into a wall, but the rest of her's general thought processes could be best described as a faint whimper.
Punk didn't take time to gloat, even if she'd wanted to. This was necessity, it wasn't fun… all the more shame. But more importantly, she had a wrathful Monkey Kung Fu master in her face throwing a blistering combination of punches that would have overwhelmed anyone who wasn't genetically enhanced. Punk ducked and weaved as Ron's punches flew at her head and upper body, though she was relying on blocks for the most part, feeling the mysticism-empowered strikes bruise and break skin under her jacket, the abrasions fighting a losing battle to heal under the heady assault. She heard a horrible, angry sound from off to the side, but put it aside as something she just couldn't give her full attention at the moment.
A blur of color caught her eye, the sense of incoming danger giving her just enough time to turn her head as it passed. A long, thin line of red opened up along her cheek going just under her eye for just long enough to allow a tiny blob of crimson to fly into the air before it closed up.
Punk risked a glance over her shoulder for long enough to see a snarling naked mole rat coiled on the floor as if ready to pounce, and wasn't sure whether to laugh or just be really impressed. The thing had almost taken out her eye! No, that deserved being accredited with “threat” status. She dropped back a half-step before ducking into a low, sweeping kick, trying to smack the thing with her heel, and wasn't terribly surprised when it leapt over the strike easily. Stoppable tried to follow up with a rising kick that she knocked off-balance with the back of one hand before snapping her other in a hard palm-strike at his shoulder. Ron was able to go limp and move with it enough to keep her from breaking his shoulder, but he was off-balance and falling backwards.
The pink-haired mutant snagged his ankle and whirled, hauling him up and giving him a toss, intercepting his pet who had been making another leap for her face, and sending them both to thud, skip, and slide across the floor before coming to an uncomfortable stop against one of the walls of ice spikes.
Then she whirled around to deal with the worst threat yet.
Shego had heard a loud slam that was usually accompanied with bending metal, and it worried her. It didn't, however, worry her enough to take her eyes off of the ninja trying to turn her into a cut of sushi with his sword.
He was fast. Even if the sword wasn't his specialty, if she didn't have the freakish animal mutation running through her veins like the world's biggest adrenalin rush, she'd have lost at least one limb by now. As it was, she was being extremely hard-pressed, reacting more to instinct telling her where the threat was coming from than the actual visual of the blade cutting the air.
The ninja-to glanced off her green-glowing hands, or more exactly the concealed metal of the sewn-in claws, again and again, sending up tiny showers of emerald-auraed sparks. She snarled, both in anger and desperation, as the strikes kept falling like rain, Ken's face impassive and cold through the veil of his long hair. Dammit, she had to figure out how to take the offensive!
Then a scent hit her so powerfully it was like a physical blow. Pain. The entire room was flooded with a well-known smell twisted and sour with agony. Time seemed to slow to a crawl as Shego turned her head at a crawl, just in time to watch Kim slam against a wall and slide slowly to the ground, a few smears of red left in her path down the vertical surface.
It was like every nerve in her skin suddenly cut off. She was immersed in her dark ocean, neither hot nor cold nor feeling anything, but still awake. She turned her head back towards Ken, eyes still wide with shock and horror, but not directed at the blade that seemed to be inching inexorably towards her shoulder.
Then, not slow in the slightest, her eyes snapped to narrow slits. Her hand shot upward, the edge of the ninja-to cutting through the palm of her glove and sliding into the skin and muscle beneath almost to the bone. Blood slid down black leather as Shego curled her fingers around the blade. Normally, she would have been pleased to see that cool impassiveness replaced by shock on Ken's face.
But the creature did not know pleased. It only knew rage.
With a cry that was half woman's scream and half beast's roar, Shego slammed her free hand against the flat of the ninja-to, metal shattering under the blow like glass under a hammer, shards of silver dancing through the air. Shego's fist, still gripping a third of the blade, lurched into motion from its prior position and slammed across Ken's jaw.
The ninja staggered back, feeling blood fill his mouth and several of his teeth come loose. But to his credit, he actually dodged the next slash that would have taken his face off and blocked a hard knee at his side with both hands. He did a short backflip, snapping his feet to clip Shego under the jaw and send her stumbling back a few steps. He quick-stepped back several paces, hand diving across his body and then slashing out, throwing a tight arc of three shuriken at the green-skinned terror.
Shego's arm snapped up, preceding a trio of low *shnk* sounds as a point of each shuriken slammed home and buried itself in her muscle and bone. She didn't even slow in her charge, slashing with her still-free hand and making Ken dodge wildly, then swinging a wild haymaker with the fist still clutching part of his sword blade. He ducked the punch, but the opposite points of his own shuriken tore across his chest and unbalanced him, sending him crashing to the floor. Shego pivoted and snapped her foot as if kicking a soccer ball, launching Ken across the floor to slam against the edge of a computer console.
But the creature had only been eliminating the immediate threat so that it could focus on its real goal. Opening her hand and whipping it to one side to dislodge the shattered blade, Shego whirled towards Punk, her own claws bursting through the tips of her gloves, the metal inserts falling to the floor or hanging by threads. With another howl of fury, she launched herself at the one who had attacked her mate.
If that shriek of hatred hadn't alerted her and gotten her turning faster, Punk would have taken Shego's strike right in the back and been knocked on her face. As it was, the black-haired bundle of fury slammed against her front and knocked her to her back, Punk giving her own yowl of pain as Shego's claws dug deep into the muscles of her shoulders, blood actually spurting out around the feral woman's thumbs where they penetrated in front.
Shego's head raised and her mouth opened, baring her elongated fangs, and Punk quickly shoved a hand upward and under her assailant's chin. Despite her formidable strength, her hand shook with the effort to keep Shego's head from descending, the green-skinned woman tossing her head in her effort so sink her teeth into her enemy.
Punk managed to get her other hand up against Shego's shoulder, trying to push the hissing green-skinned fury off of her, but Shego simply tightened her hold, sinking her claws deeper into Punk's shoulders. The pink-haired woman's face twisted in pain, her own gritted teeth bared. 'Not good!'
Kim got a hand under herself, slowly pushing her pain-wracked body upwards, her hair falling around her face. She'd managed not to throw up so far, though it was a very close thing, more to do with not having much to eat that day. Hugging her stomach with one arm, she raised her head, eyes widening at the sight of Punk and Shego tussling on the floor, Punk obviously trying to keep Shego from delivering a poisonous bite. Further across the room, Ron was staggering to his feet, a tiny, unsteady blob of pink on his shoulder.
The redhead drew in a deep breath, regretted it, then quickly focused on what she was doing, pulling out her Kimmunicator and hitting the quick-call button. “Wade,” she forced out in a weak croak.
“Kind of busy here, Kim,” Wade's voice answered tersely.
“They're too tough for us. Evacuate.”
“… Alright. I'll tell everyone else to get out,” Wade replied before closing the channel.
Some other time, Kim might have wondered about his specific phrasing. But she saw that the white-clad teenager that had been on the ground when she came in was starting to sit up, and the black-clad ninja had actually gotten to his feet and was walking unsteadily towards where Shego and Punk were tangling, a tanto gripped in one hand. Though that was foremost on her mind, Kim also noticed a brown-clad woman bent over one of the computers. (Wait… was that Ferret Girl? … Perhaps all the straight-out weirdness wasn't out of her life just yet.)
Shoving herself upward and forward, Kim shouted, “Ron! Stop the ferret!” She was forcing herself forward almost purely on momentum of that first shove off of the ground, moving on an intercept course. Ken turned towards her just in time for her palm to slam across his already bruised jaw and stagger him. Doing her best to ignore the wave of nausea the motion caused, Kim swung into a high spin-kick, Ken doing his own unsteady twirl back and away from it. The black metal of his knife darted out as Kim returned to facing him, slicing open the front of her shirt and leaving a tiny red line across her skin from just above her bellybutton to just below her collarbone.
Kim threw herself forward into the opening left by his slash, slamming her palm against the bloody gash on his chest, twisting her hand, and shoving hard, the pain and the force of the push knocking him backwards again. Resisting the urge to put a hand to the papercut-like slash along her torso and consoling herself with the knowledge that at least he hadn't cut all the way through her shirt and she'd still retained her modesty. Shoving such thoughts aside, Kim turned around to face her next biggest problem.
“Shego! Shego, come on! We've got to get out of here!”
Ferret Girl glanced up, then yelped at the sight of a foot coming at her face. She stumbled back a half-step to dodge it before forcing herself to stay calm and think of what Punk and Ken had taught her. It was a basic set of moves, but it had everything she needed. 'Just think of it like a set of hacking tools!' she thought desperately as Ron swung a fist at her chest.
She turned the strike away with her forearm against his and whirled away, moving to the side, dodging that way further as he snapped a kick towards her. She shoved her own foot in a kick towards his feet, making him hop back, and closed the gap, arriving back at her original spot and typing in a fevered barrage of commands on her laptop.
The weakened Ron came back in, trying for another high-speed barrage of monkey-punches, Ferret Girl quickly backing up and holding her forearms up to block, before snapping a high kick up and forcing him back again, letting her type in another series of commands. Ron swore and tried to duck back in, but she held him off with hard swipes of her stiffened hand, forcing him to stay at a distance long enough for her to type in one last furious string of data.
Rufus leapt at her with a tiny battle cry, only to have it turn into a yelp as the costumed redhead yanked him out of the air, boinked his head against the enter key, and tossed him.
“Rufus!” Ron cried, leaning over to catch his friend safely, and not seeing the laptop descend on his head with a loud crash.
Ferret Girl actually winced a little at the sight of Ron laying on the floor, her laptop cracked in half over his head, a goofy expression on his face as his pet patted his cheek in attempts to rouse him from his dazed state. … She'd rather liked that laptop.
But time was now of the essence. Leaping over Ron's prone form, Ferret Girl hurried down the hallway, following the layout of the lair she'd uncovered and memorized in the cyberspace war she'd been waging since she arrived.
“Shego! Shego, don't do it!” Kim grabbed the back of Shego's jumpsuit, tugging on it. “Don't kill her! We're leaving!”
Shego snarled. She could hear her mate's voice, and it was penetrating the haze of her fury somewhat, but the scent of pain and blood was just as strong as ever, and she was being driven to destroy the one that had caused it, to bite and rip and tear until it just didn't exist the way it used to.
Punk grit her teeth harder, then twisted hard and got her foot against Shego's stomach, screaming as she kicked hard and forced the other woman's claws to shred their way out of her shoulders, the force of the shove enough to knock Shego into Kim and send them both sprawling.
Grunting, Punk forced herself to her feet, her arms hanging nearly limp and fingers twitching spastically. Luckily, Shego seemed to be having some problems deciding whether to get up and attack or wrap herself protectively around Kim, and the redhead's struggles and confused protests weren't having much effect either way. If she was lucky she might be able to make a fist and swing her arm by the time Shego decided one way or the other.
She raised her head, starting to check for the positions of her other foes, and saw the Stoppable kid laying out on the floor, with Ken kneeling at his side. She blinked as she saw that he was raising his tanto, then swore loudly.
“Ken, goddammit, don't!”
Unfortunately, harsh language was about all she'd be able to use. This was supposed to be a smash-up job, not a slaughter! She started forward, willing her slashed muscles to heal faster, but knowing that there was no way she was going to be able to keep the ninja from killing Ron.
Wade bent over the console in the small, dark room, sweat pouring down his face. He hadn't had this formidable a challenge to his skills in years. Some of the traits of his opponent were eerily familiar, but they also seemed to be using a little of everything from a dozen other different, highly-skilled hackers. These were tricks he'd only seen once or twice himself, ever! It was taxing his own considerable repertoire to keep coming up with counters for them.
His head snapped up as the door slid open, wondering if Kim had returned. He'd put Hego and Wego in charge of getting everyone else out of the base, and neither of them should have needed to return for more directions. But he stared as he realized it was a distinctly unfamiliar person in the doorway, wearing… a Ferret Girl costume?
“Hello, TuxedoNewb,” Ferret Girl said with amusement in her voice, stepping forward enough that the light of the hallway didn't cast her into silhouette.
Wade's eyes felt like they were stretching to the size of dinner plates. “S-SailorLeet?!”
“Been awhile. Guess you outgrew those beginner tricks and the test chatroom, huh?”
Wade's gaze flicked back and forth between the screen and the intruder. “But… I was fighting right up until you came in the door!”
“Macros. I preprogrammed some of my tricks. Gambled on what you'd do, that it'd hold you in place long enough for me to get here.”
He wilted a little, feeling like somebody's grandparent who'd just been handed a Binux server. Fooled by preprogrammed instructions! Was it possible she'd become that much better than him, when they'd practically been newbs together?! No, it had to be random chance! He glanced at the console near her, then quickly turned back to his own board. The duel would be harder with her so much closer to the main functions, but he'd show her yet!
Ferret Girl blinked, then actually looked sad. “Wade. Don't touch that keyboard.”
Wade glanced at her, then saw that she was coming closer to him, rather than heading for another computer terminal. “Whoa! Hey! Synthodrones, stop her!”
The hulking humanoids stepped from the corners of the room, walking towards the costumed redhead and grabbing for her arms. Ferret Girl grabbed something from her belt, shoving it against the first synthodrone to touch her, then raking it across the second one as it grabbed her arm. The little flip-open knife only had a three-inch blade, but it was plenty sharp enough to cut through the material of the synthodrone suits and let their liquid essence pour out onto the floor.
Shaking a bit of green slime off her glove, Ferret Girl stalked forward, then brought the knife up. “Wade. I don't want to hurt you. But I have to destroy this database. Move aside.”
Wade stared at the knife, trembling. For long moments, he dug for the courage to fight back, to try and knock it out of her hand, to just refuse, to believe she was bluffing and call it.
Then some synthodrone liquid collected at the point, gradually lengthening and extending down, until it separated and fell to the control panel with a distinctly bloodlike spatter. Tears running down his face, Wade scooted away from the computer console and let his former friend go to work.
Ken heard Punk shout behind him, but ignored her. What was supposed to be a simple smash-up had wound up humiliating and injuring him, and someone was going to die for it. This one, by all accounts, was of minor importance. He would probably be able to get away with it.
Then he heard the word “Betrayer!” shouted in his own language, and felt a foot slam into the same side of his jaw that had already taken two hard blows. His last thought before his head hit the side of a workstation and his consciousness fled was that he would probably need dentures.
Ron groaned and raised his head, staring at a black-clad form that seemed to loom over him. As his vision slowly focused, one hand rising towards what looked a lot like a sword hilt over one of its shoulders. Since he didn't think he could stand let alone fight, he was rather relieved when the hand gripped the edge of a ninja mask and lifted it away instead, revealing smooth honey skin and a fall of dark hair.
“Many apologies for being late, but it is your honor to be saved just in the nick of time,” the Japanese girl replied cheerfully, sketching a quick bow, before smiling and offering Ron a hand.
Taking the offer, Ron managed to pull himself up into a seated position before dizziness got too bad and he had to stay as he was. “Dang. I'd say that we're definitely gonna win now, but I don't wanna jinx it!”
“Oh, Stoppable-san, you and your silly American superstitions,” Yori teased, giggling.
Her laughter cut off with a sudden gasp as something glistening and ruby-colored burst from just below her left shoulder, small droplets of her blood spraying across Ron's horrified expression. Yori's head turned slowly, looking down at the point jutting from her body, a few bits of steam rising from it.
“Stoppable… san…” she whispered, staggering a half-step forward before falling into Ron's lap, revealing the numerous smaller icicles embedded in her back.
One hand still extended and wafting frost from the palm, Ice Princess smirked from her semi-slumped state. “Everybody loves ninjas, huh?”
“Yori!” Ron screamed, wrapping his arms around the still form in his lap, white showing all the way around his eyes. “YORI!”
-End Part Five