He was Special Agent Edwin Bullock, Global Justice counter-terrorism operative. He was an ex-Army Ranger and holder of black belts in three forms of martial arts. He’d been all over the world putting out hotspots before they began, sometimes with a team, mostly all by himself. Seen some pretty incredible things in his travels, but none of them stacked up to this.
A single, reed-thin girl shouldn’t have stood a chance against him. Along those same lines, a single, reed-thin girl shouldn’t have had a prayer against two squads of GJ’s finest. Agent Bullock had worked with a many of these men and women before, and in his professional opinion, each one of them amounted to a veritable force. Together, they should’ve been unstoppable.
Not so according to the single, reed-thin girl with black hair, pale skin, and the greenest of green eyes.
She moved like a shadow, always close by but ever elusive, never allowing anyone to use their guns effectively. Her fists and feet hit like wrecking balls, knocking out agent after agent with frightening ease. Even when someone managed to get a clear shot off at her, she danced around the bullets like a ballerina. Soon, all that remained of the fifteen GJ agents was Edwin Bullock, ex-Army Ranger, black belt, counter-terrorism operative.
The single, reed-thin girl smiled at him and unsheathed a set of menacing, black claws.
Edwin--his submachine gun spent already--pulled out his sidearm and-
Promptly dropped it to the floor when green plasma shot out from the girl’s hand and heated his beloved pistol to a metal clump. Without hesitation, she charged, for all intents and purposes a whirling dervish. Ever alert, Edwin blocked the first two of her blows but that surprise kick to his shin pulled his left leg out from under him. A harsh knee knocked his jaw shut and sent him spiraling into the piano in the living room. As his vision cleared, he saw a vine of kudzu wrap around him, holding in his current position of hunching over the baby grand.
“You know,” began the girl, “I’m really not a violent person. I actually hate violence. Too bad I’m a very easily annoyed person who uses violence to solve her annoying problems. A nicer villain would probably give you a choice right now, something about cooperate or die. Me? After getting shot at, I’m not in a nice mood, so I’m giving one choice: answer my questions while I beat the living daylights out of you. Comprendè?”
While his burger cooled in his microwave, Wade furiously taped his keyboard like a percussive instrument. Things weren’t quite going according to plan and he needed a fix. Heck, he needed a status update, forget the fix. All he knew was that he lost contact with the GJ teams he’d left behind at Drakken’s lair.
From the corner of his computer popped a dialog box, complete with a video feed of Dr. Betty Director. “Mr. Load, you’re busy.”
Well no crap. “I think Shego took out the GJ teams,” he frowned as he flipped from communication channel to communication channel, “No one is answering their comm. unit. Good news is that Kim’s already at the oil refine-”
“Is everything in position there?”
The abrupt cut-off rubbed Wade the wrong way, but keeping in mind his company, he bit his tongue. Instead, his fingers slammed harder onto the keyboard. “Yes ma’am, everything is in position at the oil refinery.”
“Good. Monitor the situation there: I don’t want another communication blackout like the one at Drakken’s base.”
“What about the-”
“Mr. Load, operations never go according to plan. The mission objective should be any GJ agent’s highest concern. Until new information arises, we can only cut our losses and move forward. It is for the greater good.”
“But Dr. Dir-”
“You have your orders.” Sensing Wade’s frustration, her stern voice softened as if suddenly remembering she was pushing around a prepubescent child genius. “Focus on Ms. Possible, Wade. I’ll see what I can do for the other team.”
The dialog box closed. Only when he was sure the director had disconnected did Wade let out a nervous shudder.
Blinking, Drakken’s first thought was how much his head hurt. It seemed to pulsate, sending jolts of random pain and nausea through him like an insidious torture device. He reached up with his hand and felt a large lump protruding from his scalp.
Ah, that answered the conundrum. Bruises, especially on one’s head, hurt like the dickens. Now, “Where am I?”
“Hello? Dr. D, are you in there?”
Slowly, Shego’s blurry form phased into view. Behind her, a grungy dive of a factory from the bottom barrel of his nightmares appeared. Scads of henchmen milled about, moving crates and tanks with startling efficiency.
None of that answered his question. “Shego, what’s going on?”
“Doy,” sighed his sidekick, smacking her forehead, “Did you fall that hard on your head? We’re stealing stuff. Again.”
Stealing stuff. The concept immediately appealed to Drakken (oh great super-villain he was) but for the life of him, he couldn’t remember what they were stealing. In fact, he couldn’t recall how they even got here, let alone where here was. All he remembered was a sharp knock on his door back at his newly decorated “secret” lair and-
“You’re spacing out again, Dr. D. It was your idea to come to this oil refinery and steal some ubër classified jet fuel. That jog any of those underused brain cells?”
Ubër classified sounded important, important enough to steal! “Yes! I remember now! We’ll steal this ubër classified jet fuel and… and…”
Another sigh. “And use it for our evil purposes?”
“Yes!” Drakken beamed, the pain of his considerable bruise a distant memory, “And use it for our evil purposes!” The blue skinned dufus turned to his scattering of villain-employees. “Henchmen! Work faster! We must proceed with phase two of my ultimate plan to take over the world!”
Shego yawned. Nothing out of the ordinary there, but strange enough, Drakken noticed his henchmen actually working faster. To say the criminal element was brimming with scads of lazy no-goods would be putting it nicely: criminals, by and large, were an unmotivated breed who elevated cutting corners to an art. By extension, henchmen tended to work at their own pace lest a physically imposing force (in this case, Shego) threatened them.
No matter how much Drakken himself yelled and ordered, his henchmen never worked faster. So when they did pick up the speed, the evil genius felt smitten with himself, giddy even. Perhaps his years as a respected villain had finally paid off. What else could inspire this well-groomed, crew cut set of henchmen to go about their business like a disciplined military unit?
This, of course, on top of the efficient style they’d started at.
Drakken puffed his chest out and breathed deeply. “Do you smell that, Shego?”
“Kerosene and motor oil?”
“No!” He breathed again, closed his eyes, and raised his arms to the air. “It’s the smell of respect!”
“Funny. I was about to agree with Shego.”
Both villain and sidekick looked up in time to see Kim Possible fly through the air and plant a good-sized boot print on Drakken’s face.
Shego lifted her legs up onto the control panel of Dr. D’s “premium mode of villainous transportation,” a sleek, two person stealth jet stolen from a lab in California. Since life on the ground didn’t feel safe (what with people shooting at her and everything), Shego decided to pass the time circling a few thousand feet above Middleton, circling and filing her claws. Though she seemed disinterested as she went about her menial, habitual task, such an observation couldn’t have been further from the truth.
Truth was, whenever GJ came knocking on her door, she always had a lot to think about.
Oh, she knew those gun tottin’ jerks back at the lair were GJ. They acted, smelled, talked, looked, and fought like GJ cronies. Seen one, seen ‘em all. Problem was, GJ always came in behind Kimmie to clean up the mess: less work for them that way. What could’ve made them suddenly proactive? Why were they shooting first and not asking questions? Where did they take Dr. D and the rest of his incompetent henchmen? How did they find out where the new lair was so quickly?
Frowning, infamous sidekick put down her file. Everything came back to Kimmie one way or the other. She had an idea where the new lair was; she also worked for those Global Jerk-offs. Worst case scenarios? GJ entered the picture because 1.) Kimmie was using them to pressure Shego into rejoining the “good guys” or 2.) Kimmie exploited their newly form relationship to strike a crippling blow at Shego in hopes of ending her unsavory career once and for all.
Probable, but not Possible. Those dark conclusions forced Kimmie to lie and while Kim Possible could do anything, she wasn’t very good at lying. For the moment, Shego squashed the little paranoid, partially delusional voice screaming about “betrayal” and “love-struck idiot” and “stupid redheads.” For the moment, Shego considered an alternate but no more favorable possibility.
It involved GJ a spying on Kimmie. Reality was, Kimmie was valuable to them. To leave her unchecked wasn’t reasonable, and maybe, just maybe, the holidays weren’t as private as anyone envisioned them to be.
This meant that Dr. D was in big trouble. This also meant trouble loomed around Kimmie, ready at a moment’s notice to collapse on her. To top it all off, this situation spelled T-R-A-P for Shego herself. She’d seen plans like this before, but the only inconsistency?
There was no trail to the trap.
If the wanna-be “superspy” she’d pummeled into unconsciousness had said anything, then the trap would’ve been set. Unfortunately, he said nothing and took his beating with an almost Zen-like silence. Furthermore, those people swept into the lair going for a kill, not to set into motion some great plan. GJ didn’t want to put the cuffs on her anymore: they were looking to put a bullet in her, preferably one that would keep her dead.
Worse and worse by the minute.
And she would’ve continued her droning thoughts had an anomaly not shown up on the jet’s super advanced sensors.
Twenty miles outside of Middleton, a ploom of green plasma erupted into the sky.
Wade’s eyes bulged to epic proportions. Line after line of code scrolled down his screen, errors plastered left and right. By all logical facets, this program shouldn’t have even continued, but it did, each glitch compounding the next and the next and the next and so on. He dared not shut his computer down for fear of losing what little control he still had over the situation.
His brow wet with sweat, Wade gritted his teeth and tried to find the root of this mess. His heart pounded faster than it ever had, faster than the time he came in second place at the worldwide Quake tournament.
That was a game; this was not.
He only hoped his efforts could stop Kim and Ron from getting hurt any more.
“What’s a matter, Kimmie? Can’t take the heat?”
They were beyond words now. Didn’t stop Shego from talking, but Kim saved her breath for the next strike. Her forearms hurt from all the blocking, her head swam in a murky haze, and breathing became a chore after that tank of something went up in flames. All around, henchmen lay in tangled heaps, a good handful of them dead.
The past minutes raced by like a rerun.
Jump kick Drakken. Exchange quips with Shego. Henchmen attack. Ron and Rufus go after Drakken. Try to get in a few words with Shego, namely what this morning meant to her. Words of affection fly back into Kim’s face like a rejected résumé. Shego’s eyes blur, then things spiral into chaos. She tears into Drakken’s henchmen. The henchmen fight back with remarkable skill (certainly more than when they were fighting Kim) but are no match for her. Move in, struggle, struggle, struggle, bolt of plasma goes into a tank of something and almost blinds everyone.
Something was wrong with Shego. It wasn’t just what she did but the way she talked, fought, and moved. The reasonable side of Kim told her this wasn’t the Shego she knew this morning, but adrenaline took over. Outrage permeated Kim, outrage from the betrayal, the harsh dismissal of their near-death experience, the uncaring attitude toward human life, and the audacity to prove Monique’s doom-and-gloom prophecy right.
The stabbing hurt and physical pain quieted Kim. Her smoldering eyes said all she wanted to say.
“If you keep frowning, your pretty face will get stuck that way.”
Shego’s comment, and with it, green flames. Hop over the projectile sprung the redhead. Her foot lashed out for a strike, any strike, but Shego ducked out of the way. Even before gathering herself from the impressive leap, Kim managed to throw a good number of punches. Black gloves parried each hit and threw some back themselves.
Unlike all those previous times before, these found their marks.
Stunned, Kim stumbled back. Shego was faster. Shego was never faster. Stronger? Yes. Faster? No. See, something was wrong with Shego. No one’s styles and strengths could change that rapidly.
“Shego, what did Drakken do to you?”
It had to be Drakken’s fault. A mind control chip, an experimental drug, something changed Shego into this… at least, that’s what Kim kept on telling herself.
A lightning-quick roundhouse kick answered her. It came so fast Kim couldn’t even dodge, much less brace for it. The hit smashed her across the face and lifted her off the ground. She expected to tumble onto the floor but she didn’t. Steady hands grabbed her mid-flight and threw her into an empty oil tanker.
Kim blacked out for a moment. Her vision tunneled into herself but her ears remained alert. Maybe it was the impact or the bone-jarring walloping. Maybe it was a concussion.
“Say goodnight, Kimmie. I’m sad I didn’t get to fuck your little virgin brains out, but trust me, I’ll get over it.”
The hum of that fire building up reached a still dazed Kim. She couldn’t see quite yet, but from the malicious green glow tinting her muddle sight, Shego seemed to be serious about this.
A piece of Kim crumbled away as the ugly truth scorched her soul: she was about to die, and die, no less, by Shego’s hands. Shego, a person she’d come to respect and consider honorable. Shego, the same woman who professed their relationship to be something close to love. Shego, the manipulator who wormed her way into Kim’s life only to destroy it.
Shego, betrayer, beast, and murderer.
That sound of green plasma shooting out of her hands blazed into Kim’s ears. The redhead expected a sudden rush of heat, excruciating pain, then nothing. Instead, what she got was a loud explosion, a mouth full of chalky concrete, and her eyes slowly recovering their function.
Four Shegos stood before her. Four? That didn’t sound right. Kim shook her head and looked again. Two Shegos stood before her now. Two still wasn’t right. She repeated her previous action but still ended up with two Shegos.
One of them had on the cockiest of cocky smirks.
The other one looked furious beyond words.
“Get away from Kimmie,” the furious one snarled, her claws gleaming with deadly intent.
“Look who came out to play: the obsolete and much inferior iteration of Shego.”
“Inferior?” The furious Shego’s hands ignited into infernos. “I don’t know who you are, lady, but I guarantee there’s only one version of me. I freakin’ hate clones.”
The smirking Shego found the time to look offended. “Clone? Don’t patronize yourself. You’re not good enough to clone. You aren’t perfection.”
“What’s going on over there?”
“The Killer Bebe’s gone haywire!”
Dr. Director glared into the screen to get her displeasure across to Wade. “GJ’s been working to refine that android for seven months. We eliminated every faulty subroutine. This shouldn’t be happening.”
“Well, you guys missed something,” frowned Wade. “One way or another, the code itself is self-perpetuating. It’s becoming independent…”
“Turn it off. Shut down Shego 2.0 and abandon the mission.”
“I can’t! Remember? I said the code is self-perpetuating and independent. It’s going to continue until it runs out of power.”
A sinking feeling settled in the pit of Betty’s stomach. “How long is that going to take?”
“With that core you guys put in there? Weeks, if not months.”
Shego’s slash missed. Again. A frustrated growl escaped her throat as she decided that whatever her clone was, it couldn’t be flesh and blood. She and Kimmie cornered the market for peak human performance, and right now, this sorry excuse for a villain was making them look like fourth graders fighting Muhammad Ali.
No one could out fight them like this, which then placed this deadly parody of hers in the “thing” column. Sheesh, for Christ’s sake, it was faster than Kimmie. And the worst part? It hit like a big sack of cinder blocks.
Speaking of Kimmie, the redhead--woozy head and all--came charging back into the fight after gathering herself. Their eyes connected for a brief second.
You go high. I’ll go low.
Kim ducked and swept. Shego swung a mean right hook. They hoped to catch the thing in an untenable position, but at the last second, it winked out of existence.
Everything seemed to go into slow motion. Shego finished her follow-through. Kim began standing back up. Both women’s heads were on swivels as they hunted for signs of their foe. Suddenly, it appeared behind Kim and prompted Shego’s eyes to grow wide. She didn’t even get a chance to utter a warning before the thing clobbered Kim straight into her.
Then, it blinked away again.
With a hollow slam of bodies on metal, time regained traction.
No answer. Shego shook her rival, at first softly then with vigor. Nothing except for shallow breaths. A slight edge of panic pierced Shego’s toughened exterior before she remembered how much danger the both of them were in. Being out in the open like this spelled trouble, and right now, Kimmie couldn’t afford any more of it.
There! Up in the rafters! The thing was up there, devilish smile gleaming and flames crackling at its command. Gathering Kimmie in her arms, Shego sprinted for cover just as the first barrage of fire pelted the ground. Over oil drums and fallen girders she leapt, bobbing and weaving and trying to keep from being fried. One of the plasma bolts hit a pond of spilled jet fuel and sparked a wall of heat to spring up behind Shego and obscure her from the thing’s view.
Ha. Bet it didn’t want to do that!
Slipping behind a metal staircase, Shego gently set Kim down and-
The sudden shrill of the Kimmunicator almost made her yelp in surprise. She rummage through Kim’s pockets and found the offending device. Her first instinct? Smash it to pieces, but then the way it vibrated and flashed red, it seemed like an important call.
Steeling herself, Shego flipped the device open. “What?”
Wade Load--nerd-linger extraordinaire--almost fell out of his chair. “Shego!”
“I know who I am, short stuff.”
“Where’s Kim? What are you doing there?”
“Kimmie’s unconscious and I’m trying to save her life from some kind of deranged version of me. So, if you can’t help, hang up and let me get back to work.”
Wade bit his lip. To trust or not to trust Shego, that was the dilemma.
On one hand, she was a villain, pure and simple. How she gained Kim’s trust (and apparent affections) he had no idea, and honestly, he thought she was just manipulating Kim. That’s the reason he took up Dr. Director on her offer to become a GJ agent: he needed the assets to “take care” of Shego before she had a chance to hurt one of his dearest friends.
On the other hand, as of the moment, all signs pointed to GJ being the cause of the problems, what with an unconscious Kim, an M.I.A. Ron, an out of control android, and a handful of lives already lost.
“I don’t have time for this,” muttered Shego.
As she flipped the screen closed, Wade yelled, “Stop! It’s a Killer Bebe!”
Mention of Dr. D’s erstwhile creations stopped her cold. So the nerd did know something. “Ok, talk.”
“What you’re fighting, it’s a modified Killer Bebe set to be a replica of you.”
“I don’t move like the Flash.”
“It’s still a Killer Bebe. I packed pairs of Valkyrie 1000’s in Kim and Ron’s equipment bags and-”
“You know more than you’re letting on.”
“How do you know that’s a Killer Bebe? This thing is light-years beyond what Dr. D could ever put out.”
Wade’s already perspiring forehead earned a new sheen of moisture. However, instead of caving in to Shego’s questioning, he fired back, “I don’t need to tell you anything, Shego!”
“Listen you little piece of-”
Kim, still unconscious, suddenly spasmed. Shego looked down at her companion and noticed half lidded eyes with only white showing. The spasms continued, quickly growing worse and worse by the second. While by no means a doctor, Shego had been around long enough to know the signs of a seizure.
And seizures brought on by head trauma were never good.
“Hello? Shego? What’s going on?”
“Kimmie’s hurt,” the villainess breathed, her priorities rearranging themselves. “She needs to get to a hospital. NOW.”
“That’s too bad because the only place you two are going is to the cemetery.”
Harsh hands grabbed Shego’s long hair and pulled her away, away from her hurting Kimmie. She tried to break the iron grip but it wouldn’t budge. After a good long drag, the Killer Bebe yanked Shego to her feet, turned her around, and drove its elbow in her gut. Of course, she doubled over but natural stubbornness willed her to remain as upright as she could.
The robot seemed impressed.
Clawed fingertips tilted Shego’s chin up. “Like I said, you aren’t perfect. Anything short of perfection must be destroyed slowly and painfully. Tell me I am the epitome of perfection, tell me I am your superior, tell me I am the pinnacle and I’ll make your death relatively painless.”
“I knew a girl who hit harder than you.”
Pushing aside the stunning blows, Shego drew upon her powers like never before, thrust her hands out, and unleashed a torrent of blinding green that consumed everything in front of it. At first, the robot chuckled at the act and let it continue if just to spite her enemy. After about five seconds, it noticed the flames penetrating its supposed fire-resistant synthetic skin. Circuits began to overheat while its titanium alloy endoskeleton slowly warped.
It didn’t panic. Panic was for imperfect beings like that frail human.
From out of the fire streaked a set of claws. Coming too fast to dodge, Shego forced herself to catch the talons before they gouged her eyes out. Burning hot metal passed through her gloves, sliced away skin, and lodged into bone. In another blink of an eye, the shock of having her hand skewered forced her to stop her merciless onslaught.
The android reappeared, skin slightly melted, body smoking, half its hair burned away, and left hand buried into Shego’s bleeding right palm.
“Tsk, tsk, please, not even your worst can stop me. How pathetic.”
A foot smashed into the villainess’ stomach. Two sensations reached her tired mind: the wind rushing out of her and the pain. The pain in her right hand and sickening rip it gave when she tumbled onto her back next to a now-too-still Kimmie.
The world began to melt away into a collage. Fires illuminating the darkened refinery danced like ghosts, shadows taller than they really were. Sounds which shouldn’t echo did, each successive refrain a little more hollow than the last. Shego wanted to close her eyes for a second, just to rest them, just to phase out the burning wounds and numbing fear. She needed respite to gather herself, but from how things went already, she probably wouldn’t be getting it.
Hence the numbing fear.
“I’m sorry, Kimmie, I tried,” she whispered, her intact hand reaching up to brush aside a few of her unconscious companion’s red hair, “I kept my promise.”
The last thing Shego saw before she fainted was Stoppable decked out in a gnarly-looking pair of shoes and flying through the air at light speed.
- To be concluded…