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All Things Probable IV:
Graduation

A Team Probable Fanfiction based in the world of Disney's Kim Possible
by Greg Fisk (aka "Slyrr")
Kim Possible is owned/copyrighted by Disney and its affiliates, etc. etc.

Chapter 2:
Poxorza the Liberatrix

Briiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnnnng!

The bell rang shrill across the grounds of Riddleton High. The students who had been loitering outside started filing glumly into the school. There was a clanging of locker doors, a babble of talk, and a bustle of motion as students and teachers flowed through the halls like a depressed river.

But Rhonda Fatigable felt like a rubber band about to snap. She had planned out what she was going to do that night. But planning it out hadn't calmed her nerves, it was quite the reverse. She'd never really done anything like this behind Grimm's back before. She couldn't really remember doing anything without Grimm being there. And now she was not only planning a jaunt without him, but actively plotting to keep him from discovering it.

She was biting her lip every few minutes. Grimm was a careful planner himself, and a keen observer, and also cautious to the point of paranoia. Hiding things from him wasn't going to be easy, and there were so many things that could go wrong. She kept ticking off potential disasters in her mind. Maybe Grimm would schedule a mission for that night. She might get caught while secret-borrowing the mission gear, or Jade would spot her with the gazillions of cameras she was wired into....

'Hey babe - all rested up?'

Rhonda jumped in shock. Grimm had come up from behind while she was fretting and kissed her on the cheek. 'Yes!' she said, gasping. 'And I'm definitely not planning to do anything behind your back, if that's what you're accusing me of!'

Grimm looked at her with a raised eyebrow. 'Uh... yeah.' he said. 'Glad to know it.' At that moment, there was a loud, four-note beep from his locker and he quickly moved to dial the combination lock. Rhonda took the opportunity of his turning away to whip out a paper bag from her backpack and hyperventilate.

'What's the sitch, Jade?' said Grimm, peering in at the computer monitor and communication deck that he had set up inside the locker.

Jade's face was leaned in close to the screen, a few strands of hair from the ponytail on top of her head spilling over her eyebrows. 'Got Killigan on line one, G-man.' she said.

Grimm checked his watch, then nodded. 'Put him through.'

The beefy, bearded face of Duff Killigan replaced Jade on the screen. 'Probable!' he said in his thick Scottish accent. 'What's the hold-up, laddie?'

'Top of the morning to you too, Killigan.' said Grimm in a mildly jovial voice.

Killigan grimaced. 'I have na' got time for pleasantries, Probable!' he said. 'Ah contacted yer hacker last night with a job offer - why're ye not here doin' it?'

Oot!

Grimm sighed. 'Because I wanted to talk to you face to face and confirm this.' he answered. 'Jade said you wanted us to inspect your lawn. Is that right?'

'Aye!' said Duff. 'An' less'n ye're too busy, I'd like y'here double sharp!'

Rhonda was grateful for the distraction, and looked at Grimm, who seemed to be trying to come up with a diplomatic way to blow Killigan off. 'Thing is,' said Grimm slowly, 'It sounds like you should be talking to a landscaper, not us. Aren't there any groundskeepers in Scotland for hire?'

Killigan rolled his eyes on the monitor screen. 'A Scottish groundskeeper?' he said. 'Who e'er heard of a Scottish groundskeeper?' Rhonda clucked her tongue. Grimm's face remained deadpan. 'Anyhoo, ah doubt any groundskeeper would know how to handle a job like this.' Killigan went on. 'It's not brown patches or anthills I'm dealin' with - it's large scale herbicide!'

Grimm's eyebrows knitted a little closer, which Rhonda knew was a sign of growing curiosity. 'Vandals?' he said. 'You're on an island. I thought your castle grounds were secure. How'd they get in?'

Killigan's face reddened. 'If ah knew that, I'd have gone after 'em myself! I would na' need you to come an' find oot!'

Rhonda leaned her head in, blinking. 'Oot?' she said.

Killigan gritted his teeth. 'Oot!' he shouted. 'Oot! The opposite of in!'

Grimm nodded. 'All right, Team Probable is on the case.' he said. 'But I'm afraid tomorrow is the soonest we can get out there. And in the meantime, I suggest setting a few more traps out on the grounds. Good enough?'

Killigan, as always, looked angry. But he nodded. 'Aye.' he said, shaking a hammy fist. 'But no later - or I'll gie ye a skelpit lug!' Then the screen burst into static and Jade's face was back.

'How about it, Jade?' said Grimm. 'Not that I'd turn down easy money, but should we just refer him to that Willie guy from Glascow?'

Jade was typing fast. 'He sent some pics of the grounds...' she said, and the screen flashed through some images of the lawn of Killigan's castle grounds. There were mounds with golf flags planted throughout, and most of it was a beautiful, lush green, the soft pleasing green that grass usually had after a rainstorm. But there were vast swaths of the grounds where the grass was charred black and looked totally dead. 'If it was vandals, they went to a lot of effort.' Jade said. 'From what I can see, at least twenty acres have been destroyed. And all in one night, from what he said in his email.'

Grimm kept cycling through the pictures, each showing ground level views of the lawn with huge sections burned to cinders. 'Killigan's no slouch when it comes to protecting his manor...' he mumbled. 'He said he didn't hear anything either... That's weird...' Finally he shrugged. 'Well, we'll look into it tomorrow. Set it up for after school, Jade.'

'Gotcha, G-man.' Jade answered. 'Say hi to Ms. Darken!' and the screen went black.

Rhonda was racing through her schedule in her mind, comparing it with what Grimm just said. So far as she could tell, there was nothing on her plate now that might interfere with her plan. But she had to make sure. 'So.... no mission tonight?' she said, cautiously.

Grimm was checking his communicator. 'Nope.' he said.

'Why didn't you schedule Killigan for today?' she said. 'It wouldn't take much to get a boost overseas, then bike over on the Eagle.' she said.

Grimm shrugged. 'Because I listen to my peeps.' he said. 'You said last night you wanted a break. Consider tonight a freebie.'

Rhonda felt a wash of relief. 'Thanks, Grimm.' she said warmly, laying her hand on his shoulder and running it down his arm.

He didn't resist, but his eyes darted left and right. 'Don't go all schmaltzy on me...' he said quietly. 'And remember, Darken is on the prowl...' But his voice trailed off as she slowly leaned her head closer to his for a kiss.

'Probable! Fatigable!'

They both drew back in alarm, and Grimm had one moment to think, 'I need to take stealth lessons from her someday...'

Darkened

They turned and saw the visage of Ms. Darken looming above them, built like an American Gladiator, her blonde hair wound in a tight bun. Dressed in an outfit, of which many students whispered she had a hundred duplicates in her closet, she glared wrathfully at the two students. 'What... is my policy regarding public displays of affection?' she hissed.

Grimm sighed, and Rhonda squeaked. 'Not allowed.'

Ms. Darken's eyes narrowed. 'Then... what do you think you're doing?'

Both of them chanted dully. 'Going to class.'

Ms. Darken's lips barely parted over her gritted teeth. 'See that you do.' she said. 'I will know otherwise.' Then she pivoted and strode down the hall.

Even though Ms. Darken passed out of sight, they didn't dare try to kiss again. 'All that aside,' said Grimm, maintaining his distance, 'Did you want me to... help with your homework tonight?'

The thought of spending an hour or two reading books on the sofa at home with Grimm right next to her made her blush warmly, but she had a plan to carry out. 'Sorry, Grimm.' she said, trying her best to sound regretful. 'I wasn't kidding when I said I could use a night off. Between the missions, and extra homework, and Indy... I just want to turn in early for one night.'

She saw a disappointed look on Grimm's face. 'Just one evening and I'll be right as rain.' she said. 'I promise.'

Grimm managed a faint smile. 'Yeah... 'me time'. I get that.'

'See you at lunch.' she said, moving one step closer to him.

But he stepped back with a wary glance over his shoulder. 'Uh uh. Better head to class.' he said. 'We don't want to give the Romance Assassin any excuses...'

Rhonda blew a stray hair aside from her forehead. 'I donno...' She said. 'I've been wondering about her for a while. I mean, she's got a killer bod, and it must take a lot of work. When a girl puts in that much effort, they're usually trying to impress someone.'

'Killer bod?' Grimm winced. 'Can we not talk about Ms. Darken like she's... human?' he said.

'What? You don't think she's human?' Rhonda said.

'No.' said Grimm, moving off down the hall. 'I think she's some kind of alien cyborg...'

o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o

Rhonda was prepared to sacrifice attention to the schoolwork in favor of worrying over what might happen later that night, but flinched as Ms. Darken came in just before the start of the bell.

'Ms. Olga Nique suffered a nervous breakdown after seeing a spider in the shower this morning.' Said Ms. Darken without fanfare. 'So I will be substitute teaching your biology class today.'

Rhonda sank into her chair. 'Darkened again...' she groaned inwardly. And so she was obliged to focus on the class material, given that Ms. Darken had a shrewd penchant for calling on her to answer questions the moment her mind began to wander. Somehow she made it through class, and when the bell rang, she moved quickly to gather her things. Just as she was getting ready to make for the door, she heard Ms. Darken's voice barking out.

'Ms. Fatigable - a word, if you please.'

Rhonda frantically started going through lists in her mind of what she might have done to tick Ms. Darken off, but was coming up blank. So she approached the desk warily. 'Uh.... yes?' she said, timidly.

Ms. Darken started at her. 'You do know that graduation is coming soon, don't you?'

'Yes!' Rhonda moaned. 'You've been telling me every day for weeks! I promise I'll be ready - I've caught up with all my homework and everything...'

'Graduation isn't just about being ready for graduation.' said Ms. Darken. 'Graduation is about getting ready for what happens after graduation.'

'I... uh... whuh?' said Rhonda, glancing over her shoulder to Rueful. Rueful shrugged.

Ms. Darken sighed. 'You're a non-conformist punk, Fatigable.' she said wearily.

Rhonda felt a twinge of annoyance. She'd been called that, and far worse, by Ms. Darken over the course of her High School days. But to hold her captive after class to do it? 'Hey, if you just want to insult me, there's plenty of students out in the halls who do that already!' she said.

'Listen to me for once, Fatigable.' said Ms. Darken, grimacing with impatience. 'What I mean to say is, graduation is simply a ceremony. It's what you do with your life after graduation that you should really be trying to get ready for.'

Rhonda blinked as Ms. Darken went on. She wasn't doing her usual bellowing. She sounded somehow more mellow and serious. 'I've been tough on you, because I think there's more potential in you than in many of the other students...'

It sounded like a compliment, which made Rhonda suspicious. 'What - seriously?'

'Yes.' Ms. Darken answered, and there was no sarcasm or joking in her voice that Rhonda could tell. 'There's something within you, Ms. Fatigable. I can't explain it, but for a while now you've seemed... better than what you've settled for so far.'

Rhonda was confused, not sure what that meant. 'It's kinda late in the term to try for straight As...' she said.

'I'm not talking about grades, Ms. Fatigable. I'm talking about the little web site business Probable has running.' Ms. Darken leaned over the desk and looked Rhonda straight in the eyes. 'I know you spend a lot of time helping him with that venture. Now that graduation is close, I think you might better spend your time developing your own path in life, rather than simply following Probable around wherever he goes. Once High School is over, things will change for you very rapidly I think.'

Rhonda felt somehow colder on hearing those words. 'What are you saying?' she said. 'You want me to dump Grimm?'

Ms. Darken rolled her eyes. 'Of course not.' she said. 'I'm only saying - you should consider other possibilities in life beyond just being Probable's gofer.'

Rhonda paused a moment. 'Well...' she said. 'I was actually planning an... independent thing to try out tonight.'

Ms. Darken gave a curt nod. 'Very good.' she said. 'I encourage you to do so. You may go.' And Rhonda quickly fled the room before Ms. Darken could start shouting.

o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o

School ended for the day, and gym practice was over. Grimm rolled his eyes whenever he attended gym practice the last few weeks. This close to graduation, there were no more competitions and the season was effectively over. So it made no sense to him that Donnie insisted on regular practice after school. Then he always remembered that to Donnie, it was all a power trip, so in that context it made perfect sense.

He waited outside the school for Rhonda to finish with the chess team, and soon he saw her exiting the building with Felicia. They were chatting and smiling until Felicia's eyes fell on Grimm. Then she smirked and winked, sliding off to the side, and waving good-bye to Rhonda with the gleaming fingers of her advanced prosthetic arm. Grimm fought to keep the blush out of his cheeks as Rhonda bounded down the steps to him and Felicia continued to wink at them while backing up the stairs.

Grimm sighed as Rhonda climbed onto the bike behind him. 'Tell Felicia to stop looking so smug.' he said. 'It's annoying.'

Rhonda shrugged, then put her hands around her mouth and shouted. 'Grimm says to stop looking so smug!' And Felicia signed 'OK' before disappearing back into the school.

'I didn't mean now.' Grimm muttered as they moved down the street. Once he'd driven her home on the Ksikkihkíni, he escorted her to the door and they shared a brief kiss. 'I'll pick you up tomorrow morning.' he said. 'Have fun.'

Something about his voice seemed down. 'You're sure you're OK with this?' said Rhonda.

'Don't worry.' said Grimm, heading back to the Ksikkihkíni. 'I can cope with Team Probable having one night off.'

o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o

Five minutes later, Grimm was pacing back and forth in his room, glancing every few minutes outside the window. He instinctively kept reaching for his communicator, itching to set up an early visit to Killigan's. He tried studying a few chapters ahead in his school books, but he couldn't concentrate. He tried web surfing idly, but the drabble he saw on utube set his eyes rolling until he couldn't stand it anymore. 'This is what people think is entertaining?' he thought, before finally turning off the monitor.

He looked over at his martial arts gear and exercise clothes, piled and draped in the corner of the room. But he knew he couldn't fool himself that a session in the training yard would cure his restlessness. If anything, it would only whet his appetite for a real mission. He sat down at the table in the middle of the room absent-mindedly, but found with a shock that he was looking down at his communicator again. Almost as if watching someone else, he saw his right hand inch towards the device. He sent his left hand to intercept, fighting the impulse to call Rhonda, or Jade. He gritted his teeth, glancing at his clock radio.

'Eight minutes? That's it?' he thought in disbelief. 'Time really is relative.' His right and left hand continued to duel, reaching for, or blocking, the communicator. 'Don't do it...' he thought. 'I promised Rhonda her 'me time'...'

Then it clicked in his mind. 'If Rhonda can do what she wants with her me time... so can I!' Immediately, his left hand surrendered, leaving his right hand free to grab the communicator. A quick dial, then a few beeps, and he heard a gruff, raspy voice.

'Yo - Motor Ed here! Who's callin'?' Visual link was established, and Grimm saw the mulleted, blonde head of Motor Ed on the communicator screen, with his facial stubble and grungy clothes.

'Ed - it's GP.' said Grimm. He kept the visual one way only, out of habit when talking to clients, so he could see them, but they couldn't see him. He called it prudent. Rhonda called it 'paranoid'.

Motor Ed's face brightened. 'Yo - Probable dude! How's it hangin?'

Grimm winced at Ed saying his name over the wire. 'Ixnay on the amenay.' he said.

Motor Ed scratched his head, his brow furrowed. 'Huh?'

Grimm sighed, and plowed on quickly. 'Never mind. Look, I know I said I couldn't do that job for a couple of days - but how would you feel about having it done tonight?'

A wicked look sprang up on Ed's face. 'Seriously?' he said.

'Seriously!' said Grimm with a smirk.

o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o

Rhonda had quickly tended to her homework, and even gotten Indy occupied by giving him a Ruberik's Cube puzzle. She had simply pointed to it and said, 'Treasure puzzle!', and Indy had pounced on it eagerly.

Once it was darker, she had sneaked out of the house, making her way to Grimm's. She'd made up her mind to use the battle-suit. It wasn't well known, it offered a lot of protection, and had the stealth mode to boot. All in all, it would be a great disguise for her first crime-fighting adventure.

It was just as Grimm's house loomed into view that she realized the flaw in her idea. Grimm was home, probably in his room, and that was where the battle-suit was. She wound up hiding in the bushes in one of the wooded areas between the front yards of the houses across the street. For a long time, she stared at Grimm's house, wondering what to do. She'd schemed successfully to have a night off, and in so doing, she had effectively blocked herself from getting the equipment she needed. As the light continued to dim and night fell, she could see a light in the basement window which marked where Grimm's room was.

Kiping the suit without Grimm in the house would have been tough. With him right there in the room, it was impossible. She sat and thought until her backside started hurting from unseen pebbles beneath the grass, and the twigs and leaves of the bushes around her felt like they were boring into her skin.

She was just about to give up and leave without the suit, when she saw the garage door open. To her surprise, she saw Grimm wheeling out the Ksikkihkíni. He was wearing a biker outfit, and he glanced around quickly. Then he put on a helmet, mounted the bike, and it silently whirred out of the driveway and down the street. Rhonda's mouth fell open in shock as the wings of the bike unfolded. It shot into the air, banked sharply, and disappeared over a line of trees.

She sat there agape, spluttering for several seconds. 'He... ditched me?' she thought. 'He went on a mission behind my back without saying anything? How could he....' But she did a facepalm when she remembered that was exactly what she would be doing as well. Then she sniffed in anger. 'Hey, I don't have to justify myself, I'm a girl! Only guys are guilty, thank you Oprah!'

And she calmed down again once she realized that this was another unexpected gift. Grimm had left, and the way to the battle suit was wide open - nearly.

She had been in Grimm's room more times than she could count. Planning for missions, usually. But then she'd always been invited. Now she was trying to break in without anyone seeing. She crept in through the side entrance of the garage, then slowly and gingerly slid into the house. A few moments in the side hall told her that the rest of the Probable family was still cleaning up after dinner. She heard Mim and Lynn's voices complaining, and the clinking of dishes being scrubbed. Quickly, Rhonda zipped through the hallway to the door leading down into the basement.

Grimm's sisters broke into his room all the time, but she couldn't ask them for help. Fortunately, she knew how to pick the lock of the door into his basement room. Somehow his room seemed strange without him there, but she was so afraid of being caught that she only pondered it for a brief second. Then she was rummaging in his closet. Folded over a hanger was the suit. The boots were on the floor with the gloves stuffed inside....

Rueful prowled in Rhonda's sanctorum. She had insisted he remain here to organize any animals who wanted to come on the night's venture. There were several weasels, a pair of owls, and a squirrel or two. The long-tailed weasel was anxious for the return of his mistress, and his head kept darting from side to side.

Suddenly, Rhonda appeared out of nowhere. 'Hey Rueful, I'm back!' she chirped. And Rueful squealed, jumping nearly three feet. Rhonda grinned. After donning the suit and figuring out how to turn on the stealth mode, she had made short work of escaping from Grimm's house unseen. And she hadn't been able to resist sneaking up on Rueful.

The animals chittered and chirped excitedly. 'So... are you guys ready?' she said, and they all nodded. 'Then let's go crime-fighting!'

o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o

It was a busy night at the Go City Auto show. A number of car companies were showing off their latest models in the huge convention center. The high ceilings were studded with spotlights, shining down on dozens of different display stages.

Timothy North straightened his hair between signing autographs. 'Thank you, good citizen!' he said firmly, handing a freshly inked photo back to a pudgy fellow with freckles and stringy hair. 'The Fearless Ferret is always happy to serve his loyal fans!'

The fan stepped away, looking at the signature. 'Dude - this is so retro!' he said.

'Retro?' said North to himself.

A snide laugh came from a man seated in a chair behind a table a few feet away from him. 'It means old but still cool, Ferret-face!'

'Don't start with me, Farnsworth.' North growled.

'You're so full of yourself just because you're getting more autographs than me.' said White Stripe in his deep, throaty voice.

'What can I say?' said North with a satisfied smile. 'Fans dig the car.' And he gestured to the Ferretmobile, which gleamed beneath stage lights on a raised platform behind his table. A huge banner, emblazoned with the words Meet The Fearless Ferret, dominated the scene. Underneath it was a much smaller banner which read, Oh, And White Stripe Too.

'Next time, I want the Skunkmobile here!' said Farnsworth with a sour look. 'My car looks cooler! I mean really - brown? What kind of color is that for a super-hero car? Now, black - that's a cool color for a car!'

North sniffed. 'I seriously doubt any super-hero would drive around in a black car.' he said.

Farnsworth's rebuttal was interrupted by a loud explosion. There was a burst of light and sound, and several glass doors and windows which lined the domed arc of the convention center entrance were blasted apart. Conventioneers and staff scattered, filling the air with shouts as a helmeted biker roared through the smoking debris. Half a dozen other bikers, each riding choppers with spiked wheels, charged in the wake of the leader. North and Farnsworth looked on in startled amazement as the biker gang circled their display station, filling the air with the throbbing roar of their engines. The smell of gasoline and smoke whipped up around them.

The lead biker screeched to a halt and took off his helmet. A mullet of blonde hair fell around a moustached and bearded face. The man wore a cut off denim jacket and spoke in a raspy voice. 'All right, old dudes! The name's Motor Ed - and a ride that retro it too sweet to be touring conventions with a pair of geezers like you! It belongs in my collection, with a guy who'll appreciate it - and soup it up with flamethrowers! Yoooooow!!' Motor Ed ended with a quick round of air guitar.

Farnsworth glanced at North. 'Is... this part of the show?' he said.

North got to his feet, glaring at Motor Ed. 'If it is, then the show isn't just bad - it's criminal!'

Farnsworth rolled his eyes. 'Oh please...' he muttered.

'I suggest you clear off, Motor Ed!' said North, pointing dramatically. 'And take your toughs with you!'

Motor Ed smiled wickedly. 'Yo dude - seriously.' he said. 'You're, like, way old to do the tough guy act!' He lifted a remote control and clicked it, and the rest of the bikers screeched to a halt in a circle around them. 'Besides - these guys aren't toughs, dude. They're my Seriously Wicked Android Bikers!'

'SWABs?' said Farnsworth. But a close look at the bikers showed that beneath their leather jackets, they were entirely mechanical.

Motor Ed shouted. 'All right SWABs! Get that car!'

The bikers revved their motors and started forwards. North held his ground. 'Come on, Ferret!' Farnsworth shouted. 'What are you going to do, take your medication at them?' And as several hundred pounds of robot bikers rushed towards him, North had to admit that Farnsworth had a point.

Suddenly a cable shot across the space between North and the bikers. The robot cyclists were clotheslined and catapulted off their bikes, crashing to the tiled floor while their motorcycles slid forward on either side of North.

'Hello, Motor Ed!' came a perky, female voice. 'I was in town for the convention, and thought I'd drop you a line!' A lithe figure landed between Motor Ed and the aging TV superhero. She had flippy, red hair and an eager smile on her face.

'Kim Possible!' shouted Motor Ed. Then another figure fell from above, landing in a heap next to Kim.

'And Ron Stoppable!' said Ron, pointing in the air and getting painfully to his feet. Rufus scampered up the neck of his master. 'Hmm-hmm!' he squeaked.

'With this many famous cars, we figured you might show up.' said Kim with an indulging glance at Ron.

'Seriously red - this is once too often!' Motor Ed shouted. 'Time to take you for a ride!' He hit more buttons on the remote control for his bikers, and they clanked back to their cycles, smoothly mounting them and zooming towards the teen crime-fighters.

'Aaaah!' Ron squealed, and he started running the other way. Two of the bikers broke off in pursuit. The rest gunned their motors and targeted Kim, swinging heavy chains in their robotic hands.

Kim leaped straight up, and a whirling kick caught the first biker on his robotic nose. It's head came clean off and clattered across the floor, trailing sparking wires from its neck module. Kim used the loss of momentum caused by her kick to turn the leap into a mid-air somersault, which kept her airborne long enough for the remaining three bikers to miss her with their chains.

kickin Kim

She landed firm on her feet as the bikers banked and turned for another pass. 'Stay back, Mr. North!' she called out, knowing the former hero/TV star would want to pitch in. As good as she was, she knew the robot bikers probably wouldn't fall for the same move twice. She tucked and rolled this time, but one of the chains brushed against her, stinging smartly. As she got back to her feet, the bikers were getting ready for another attack.

On foot against mounted enemies, she was at a disadvantage. She had to find a way to change that, and she smiled as her eyes fell on the motorcycle which had been left riderless by the disabled robot...

Ron was still squealing as he dodged and weaved around several display stages, with two of the robot bikers in pursuit. His running back skills, practiced on the football team, proved useful. He was more maneuverable on foot than the bikers were, and better able to turn. But he was running out of obstacles to keep between himself and the robots.

Finally he was cornered, and the bikers advanced on him, whirling their chains. Desperately, Ron grabbed the only thing close at hand - a fire hose embedded in the wall. 'Stay back, dudes!' he shouted. 'Or I'll... uh.... ruin the finish on your bikes!'

Ron could have sworn that he heard grating, mechanical laughter from the robots as they charged. But he turned the hose on full blast, and to his surprise, it worked. Not like he expected, but the soaked robots began sparking and popping as the water flooded their batteries and circuits. They did 'The Robot' feebly for a moment before listing to the side and crashing to the floor with their bikes beneath them.

'Check it out, Rufus!' Ron shouted. 'My mad skills came through again!'

'Hmm-hmm - lucky!' Rufus chirped.

Kim had dashed for the fallen motorcycle, slid into it, and kicked it neatly into life. As the tires spun, the bike slid across the floor, and took her out of the way of the strikes of the attacking robots. As she gained more momentum, she got the bike upright, and roared through the convention center, dueling the remaining cyclers.

She raised her wrist Kimmunicator. 'Wade, I've got robot bikers after me!' she said. 'Tell me you can disable them!'

'I'm on it, Kim!' said Wade, his image typing madly on her Kimmunicator screen. Suddenly the screen split, and Motor Ed's face pushed in. 'Fat chance, computer geek!' he grated. 'After that mix-up with the Doom-vee, I made sure all my robots are protected! No way you can stop them without the password! Yooooow!' and he did another round of air guitar.

Wade raised an eyebrow, then typed 'Air Guitar' in the password field of his remote disabler. 'Password - accepted.' said a computerized voice.

'Huh??!' spluttered Motor Ed. 'No way!'

Wade grinned, and after another few seconds of typing, the robot bikers suddenly stiffened, then slammed on their brakes.

Motor Ed had been trying to use a Slim Jim to break into the Ferretmobile, but he cringed as his own robot bikers, led by Kim, closed in on him. 'Give it up, Motor Ed!' Kim said.

Ron then barreled out of nowhere, holding a fire hose that was still spraying water. 'Hold on Kim, I'm-a-comin'! Waaugh!' And he suddenly jerked to a stop as he ran out of hose, his feet flying out from under him.

Motor Ed whipped something out of his pocket, and held it against the Ferretmobile. 'Don't come any closer, Red!' he shouted. 'Or I'll key this car - seriously!'

Farnsworth spluttered. 'You fiend! Do you have any idea how expensive it is to finish those things?'

Motor Ed grinned as Kim halted and glared at him. 'Yeah, that's right, Possible dude-ette! Now back off nice and slow or the car gets it!'

But suddenly the shape of Timothy North loomed up behind Motor Ed, and a sturdy wooden cane came down heavily on the crown of his mulleted head with a loud thunk. Stars exploded behind Ed's eyes, and the world went fuzzy, spinning around him. 'Ow!' he shouted, but then his voice went equally woozy. 'Dude... not cool...!' And he fell to the stage with a crash.

Kim gave the Fearless Ferret a quick salute. 'Thanks Mr. North!' she said.

North hefted his cane with a flourish. 'Always glad to lend a hand, citizen!' he said.

Farnsworth rolled his eyes and moaned from his table. 'Oh great.' he muttered. 'He helped take down a real super-villain - now he'll be even more insufferable...'

As take-downs went, it hadn't been so bad from Kim's perspective. It was accomplished fairly quickly, and damage was minimal. Once the fire hose had been shut off, the only thing left was the cleaning up. Motor Ed was tied up in his own chains, being watched over by cops while his robots were disabled.

The police chief actually had an Irish accent, which Ron found kind of funny. 'It'll cost about a thousand dollars to fix those broken windows, Mr. Ed!' said the chief. 'And that's coming out of your pocket!'

Motor Ed winced. 'Aw, man!' He shouted.

'Uh, aren't you going to... you know... take him to jail?' said Ron.

The police chief twirled his billy club. 'Well, I could put him away for a day or so for disturbing the peace.' he said. 'But as long as he pays for the windows, there's not much else we can hold him for. After all, the crime was thwarted, thanks to you, Kim Possible!'

'And me, the Fearless Ferret!' said North, raising his fist.

The police chief sighed. 'Yes, and you, the Fearless Ferret.' he agreed. 'But since the Ferretmobile wasn't stolen, there was no real harm done....'

At that precise moment, the Ferretmobile roared into life. The boosters on the back blasted loudly, and the car launched from its stage. It weaved neatly through the other displays and booths. Kim looked through the tinted windows and briefly saw a helmeted figure behind the wheel. Then the car shot through the shattered entranceway and disappeared into the night. Only Motor Ed's discarded Slim Jim remained on the stage.

Kim's mouth hung open, along with everyone else's. A quick look showed that all of Motor Ed's robot bikers were broken and accounted for. Motor Ed himself was staring out after the Ferretmobile with a stunned look on his face.

'Dude! Someone boosted my ride!' he shouted. 'Seriously - what kind of world are we livin' in? What kind of monster thinks he can just take something that doesn't belong to him? I mean.... seriously!'

Kim glared at Motor Ed. Clearly the irony of what he was saying was lost on him.

Ron stared out. 'So - if Ed and his ro-bikers are all here - then who took the car?' he said.

'Whoever it was, they were slick.' Her eyes narrowed. 'They waited until everyone was distracted. If I didn't know better, I'd swear it was...' But she paused and shook her head. 'No, there was only one. It couldn't have been them...'

o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o

Behind the wheel of the Ferretmobile, Grimm Probable triple-checked his instruments to make sure he wasn't being followed. Jade had killed the cameras inside the convention hall, giving him a clear run at the Ferretmobile once everyone was focused on Motor Ed. Grimm knew once he was out of the convention hall, he would have to move fast. Kim Possible would either take one of the bikes to chase after him, or make a run for her goofy pink car. But they had no hope of tracking him now.

Ferretmobile

He had mapped out his escape route long in advance, and wired in to every police channel. With the help of Jade and Motor Ed, he had used their magnetic rupulsion discs to improvise an anti-gravity flatbed. He'd parked it in an abandoned warehouse near to the convention hall, and speedily made his way there. After that, it had been a simple matter to drive the Ferretmobile onto it, clamp it down, and lift off through the open roof into the air. Any witnesses who may have seen the car going into the warehouse would not note its departure into the dark and unlit sky. Possible and the cops could track them and search the warehouse until doomsday, but Grimm would be long gone.

It was slower going by air. He had to make sure he stayed level, and resist the urge to do any maneuvers that the Ksikkihkíni could do, but which the flatbed was not designed for. Before long, his night vision showed his destination - another abandoned warehouse miles away from the convention hall. A second open roof was waiting for him as he carefully descended.

He landed the platform, unclamped the Ferretmobile, and rolled it off into Motor Ed's combination garage/lair. As he exited the Ferretmobile, all seemed quiet. Grimm took a decorative pink bow from his pocket and slapped it onto the windshield of the Ferretmobile. Then he picked up a satchel that was lying on a nearby workbench. He checked it, thumbing through the piles of money inside it, then made his way towards the Ksikkihkíni, which was parked and waiting for him. He put the satchel inside a lead-lined briefcase and locked it in the trunk. He couldn't help smirking as he recalled his planning session with Motor Ed earlier.

'Dude - you want me to get caught?' Motor Ed had said.

'Yes.' he said. 'Given your profile - people are going to expect you to try and steal that car. So even if you escape with it, it'll only be a matter of time before they hunt you down. The only way to guarantee that they leave you alone is to make them think you didn't get away with it.'

Motor Ed. put a hand to his forehead, waving the other hand around as if he were swatting flies. 'Dude - slow down! Seriously!'

'Trust me.' said Grimm, with a smirk. 'If the cops have you in cuffs, and see someone else making off with the car, they'll forget all about you. Just make a good show of being ticked off that someone else got away with 'your' score.'

Motor Ed thought. It was not unlike watching a tractor trying to gouge furrows into concrete, but he seemed to be getting there. 'But dude,' he said at last, 'If I'm in jail, I still won't have the car!'

'You will.' said Grimm patiently. 'Eventually. If you don't actually steal the car, the cops can't hold you for long. And when you get out, you'll be in the clear. No muss, no fuss, and no cops breathing down your neck. Just be patient, post your bail like a good boy, and don't blab. When you get out, the car will be waiting in your lair with a pretty pink bow.'

Grimm watched a slow smile spread across Ed's face as it sank in at last. Then he laughed and slapped Grimm on the shoulder. 'Dude - you are cold!' he said. 'Seriously cold!'

Grimm hooked up the hover flatbed to the back of the Ksikkihkíni and tapped his communicator. 'Job's done, Jade.' he said. 'Normal precautions are in place.'

'Gotcha, GP.' came Jade's voice from the communicator. 'But auto theft? Kinda low-brow, isn't it?'

Grimm shrugged. 'You know how Motor Ed is. It didn't even cross his mind that he could have just used the money he spent hiring me to actually buy the Ferretmobile, or build an exact replica. By the way, Possible and her gang showed up.'

If Jade had been drinking a soda, she might have done a spit take. As it was, she spluttered for a few seconds before squealing, 'Gee - thanks for telling me ex post facto!'

Grimm smiled faintly. 'Relax, I was wearing a biker outfit, not regular mission clothes. And I had gloves and a helmet on, they didn't see a thing. I trust you'll do the normal electronic cleaning up, lay smokescreens for the police, and make sure we're not being tracked?'

'Jeez mon - ya think?' said Jade, typing madly on her many keyboards. 'Yeesh, it gets tougher when Wade is sniffing around. Just skee-daddle, pronto, and don't leave anything behind!'

'Yes, mother.' said Grimm, smirking again. 'The flatbed will slow me down a bit, but I'll be back in Riddleton before you know it.'

Jade waved dismissively with one hand while still hunkered down over her keyboards, and typing with the other hand. Soon, Grimm was rising up into the sky on the Ksikkihkíni, with the flatbed in tow. As he used a remote to close the rooftop hatchway behind him, he allowed himself a moment to smile at the memory of the look on Kim's face when he'd left her in the dust. 'Too bad you wanted a night off, Rhonda.' he thought. 'You don't know how much fun you're missing!'

o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o

Rhonda stood on the rooftop of one of the taller buildings in Riddleton. She looked out over the city, with sparkling columns of lit windows, and the lights of moving traffic laid out in a grid below. The wind whipped her blonde hair in the ponytail she'd tied it into. The battle suit felt oddly comfortable on her, partly because she knew how cool it looked.

'I am vengeance!' she thought, clenching a fist and standing on the ledge. 'I am the night! I... am... BAT...!' But she halted, suddenly. 'Oh, yeah - copyrights.' she thought. 'Trying to be legit here....'

She looked at the divide between the ledge where she was standing, and the ledge of the building on the opposite side of the streets far below. She'd seen Grimm use the grappling line countless times, swinging around easily. She'd used the regular grappling gun herself on missions a lot - usually almost taking dangerous spills. But Grimm had always been there to put out a steadying arm, or pull her up. But he wasn't there now, and she felt her heart pounding as she raised her arm, pointing towards the building across the way.

With an explosive hiss, the grappling line shot out and she felt the hook latch onto the cornice. Her breath puffed behind the ninja mask she'd put on to complete her disguise. One squeeze of her fingers, and the line would pull hard, yanking her out into space. 'OK, non flyers - hold on tight.' she said.

The gang of weasels and squirrels that had followed her all latched on. 'Ow!' Rhonda squealed. 'No claws - no claws!' she said. The owls and other birds that were part of the gang were already winging over to the other building. At last, she leaned back on the taut line, kicked her heels off the ledge, and started swinging out.

It was late, and there were no passers-by in earshot, otherwise they would have heard a prolonged, high pitched squeal from above as Rhonda arced across between the buildings. She almost forgot to retract the line, and squeezed too hard on the control. She saw the wall of the building approaching very rapidly and she flailed out her free arm, grasping towards the ledge where the hook was embedded.

There was a cloud of dust, and a whoof! Then her gloved hands were clenched on the ledge, and the piggy-backing animals swarmed up her arms onto the roof. Rueful and the other weasels reached back down to help her up, though they didn't really have the strength to do much.

Rhonda kicked her legs. The overhanging ledge kept her feet hanging in space and she grunted, trying to heave herself up. Finally she threw one leg over the ledge, and managed to roll up and over before lying on the roof, gasping for breath. Rueful fanned her with a discarded newspaper.

'Whoo....' she panted. 'Ok - we'll count that one as practice.' The assembled animals chittered, and after a moment, she staggered up and crossed the rooftop. She looked out and across to yet another building, then at her wrist where the grappling line was retracted, hidden and ready for another go. She winced at the thought of another try, but didn't want her adventure to be one swing between two buildings, then calling it a night...

o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o

It was nearly two hours later, and while Rhonda felt she was getting much better at grapple-line swinging, she didn't think she was anywhere near being a crime-fighter. In fact, she was pretty sure she was breaking a lot of laws by swinging from rooftop to rooftop without some kind of permit.

Poxorza the Liberatrix

But the routine was getting much easier. She would land on a rooftop, scan for a minute or two over each edge for anything suspicious, pick another building, swing over, and repeat. The animals who couldn't fly got into the groove too, jumping off Rhonda's back and scattering to help look over each rooftop ledge. Then clinging to her back and shoulders the next time she got ready to jump.

In all her years of doing missions with Grimm, Rhonda had always had him there to help out with her line swings. Now after one night without him, she wondered if maybe this had worked against her. She'd come to rely on Grimm giving her a helping hand whenever she tripped or stumbled. But she was learning to do it on her own now. Sure, she could feel several large bruises on her arms and legs, after slamming painfully into walls and ledges several times. She'd nearly fallen once when the grapple hook had pulled loose in mid-swing. After a second or two of blind, screaming panic, she'd remembered the other grapple line in the left arm, and actually felt pretty proud when she had latched on to another ledge and pulled herself up. The fear, the pain, the bumps and scrapes were pretty good motivators in getting it right (or at least better) for the next jump.

But still, she wasn't finding any crimes to stop, which was the whole point of the venture. Every time she heard a siren, she would swing off in pursuit of the noise. But each time she reached the point where the sirens had sounded, it was only to see the police wrapping up whatever crime had been in progress. After the third time, she heaved a sigh, and Rueful gave her a comforting pat from his perch on her shoulder.

'I guess it makes sense, Rueful.' she said. 'I mean, the cops only turn on the sirens after the crooks have made their move, right?' The other animals nodded and chittered. She sat down on the ledge, staring down at blinking red and blue lights, while the police dragged a burglar out from a store in handcuffs. She sighed again. The owls perched on the ledge beside her hooted, hanging their heads in time with her.

She smiled at them faintly. 'Aw, I'm not blaming you guys.' she said. 'You've been great, going out and scouting. That sped thing up a lot, with your owl-ey eyes and everything. But we need to find a way to spot the crooks before they make their move...'

There was a sudden beeping noise from her wrist. Given how she was trying to be as quiet as possible, the sound seemed to blare out like a hockey horn and she yelped, scrabbling at her wrist to try and shut it off. But Jade's voice piped out, tinny and piercing in the night air.

'Rhonda, what the heck are you doing?' she said.

'Shhhh!' Rhonda hissed, pulling off her mask and adjusting her wrist. A square of light on the glove covering her left forearm showed Jade's face, staring out at her.

Jade pursed her lips, then said in a low whisper, 'Rhonda, what the heck are you doing? Why'd you swipe the battle suit?'

Rhonda's mouth hung open. 'How did you know?'

Jade rolled her eyes. 'As powerful as that thing is, and as paranoid as Grimm can be - did you think I wouldn't make a program that tells me if it's being used without authorization?'

Rhonda winced. She should have known. Of course the suit had been rigged. Grimm always rigged everything to make sure his, and the team's stuff, couldn't be stolen or used against them. But if Jade knew the suit had been activated... 'You didn't tell Grimm yet, did you?' said Rhonda in a fluttered voice.

'No.' said Jade. 'I knew you were the one who took it, so I figured I'd ask you first.'

'But how did you know I took it?'

'It form-fits to the wearer.' said Jade, and her eyes twinkled a bit. 'And it's loaded with tracking devices in case someone steals it. Including a small camera...'

Rhonda paled a bit. Her scheme was in danger of being shot down before she'd even done anything. 'Come on, Jade.' she said. 'I need to borrow it for a while...'

Jade swiveled her chair around in a circle. 'I'm listening.' she said. 'What for?'

Rhonda bit her lip. If Jade could track what she was doing while wearing the suit, there wasn't any way to hide it from her by lying. 'I'm... going out crime-fighting.'

Jade's eyes were wide and her expression was comical in its amazement. 'Uh... why?' she said at last.

'Because I just....' and Rhonda paused, struggling to explain it as much to herself as to Jade. '...I just want to know what it feels like.'

Jade's face fell into a picture of deadpan confusion.

'Please don't tell Grimm!' Rhonda wailed. 'He wouldn't understand - I'm not sure I understand! It's just... something I've got to try.'

She waited in a panic as Jade kept gaping at her. At last, Jade slumped and sighed, looking up at towards the ceiling. 'Well... ok.' she said. 'But you know how Grimm is - he'll find out sooner or later.'

'Thanks, J-girl.' said Rhonda warmly.

Jade waved. 'Stop gushing...' she said, but she seemed to be smiling. 'So, you need me for anything?'

'No...' Rhonda started, but then spluttered. 'Wait - yes! Turns out that finding crimes in progress isn't as easy as it looks in the movies.'

'Yeah,' said Jade. 'Crooks usually try to hide what they're doing... for whatever reason.'

'Is there any way you could... point me towards one?' said Rhonda.

Jade started typing. 'I donno, wiring into the city's network of police and traffic cameras could be tough. There's all kinds of encryption and... OK I'm in!'

Rhonda watched as Jade slowed in her typing. 'Well?' she said.

'I'm looking over about a hundred different screens at once.' Jade answered. 'Pick a spot near the center of town and chill for a while. When I see something, I'll let you know.'

And so Rhonda line-swung to a block near the middle of the city, parked on the roof and let the weasels and other animals play around while she kicked her heels idly over the ledge. She was getting bored and wondering if the night would be a bust, when Jade's voice piped in.

'There's a couple that just left a theater near Dime Alley!' she said. 'And I'm seeing about five guys following them from an alleyway. It's about six blocks away - scoot!'

Rhonda whistled and the animals clamored onto her back again while she put her mask back on. She jumped down and swung from building to building until she was near Dime Alley. She landed and looked out. Sure enough, she saw a young couple walking down the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street. About half a block away were five guys. The one in the lead was nodding to his fellows, and she saw them slipping blackjacks out of their leather jackets as they followed after the couple.

'Looks like the real deal, Jade.' she whispered. 'Shutting off the radio for a while!'

'Good luck.' said Jade. 'And be careful.'

Rhonda let the animals scatter and she stole her way across the street, following after the five men. She could feel her heart pounding, and hear her breath in her ears. She gathered that the couple had found out they were being followed, because the men following them had broken into a run....

o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o

Lake Jong gritted his teeth as he ran. It was supposed to have been a fun evening with his fiancee. Dinner had been great, the show had been great, and they had been talking about plans for their upcoming wedding when he'd spotted the men following him. They'd left their cell phones at home, wanting a night free from calls. But now that had worked against them, for they had no means of calling for help.

The street they had gone down was deserted and all the buildings seemed to be closed for the night. The gang chasing after them was blocking the way back to the better lit and crowded street near the theater.

'Lake - they're after us - do something!' His fiancee gasped. But he couldn't think of anything to do that would scare off five fully grown men. At last they were cornered, with the five men forming a semi-circle around them. Any doubt as to their intentions was removed when Lake saw they were each holding a weapon.

'All right, lovebirds.' said the leader. 'Hand it over - money, jewelry, credit cards, all of it!'

'Stay behind me, Rose!' Lake shouted, pushing her back.

All five of them laughed. The leader held up a knife. 'Best thing you can do for your chickie now is fork over the goods.' he said. 'Try and play the tough guy, and we'll put you down!'

'How about a tough girl putting you down?' came a voice from behind them. All five of the muggers looked and saw a female figure, wearing a tight black outfit lined with glowing orange bands. She had what looked like a ninja mask over her face. 'First put down?' she said, 'You're all ugly!'

The leader winced. He motioned his fellows to keep Lake and Rose covered and barked over his shoulder at the newcomer. 'Beat it, girly!' he said. 'Boys at play, here!'

'Second put down - your comebacks stink!' said the girl in the mask.

'Charlie - Vince - get her and make it quick!' snarled the leader.

Two of the muggers broke ranks and headed for the girl in the mask. The rest continued to keep the young couple cornered.

Beneath her mask, Rhonda teeth were gritted as the two muggers rushed at her. She waited until the last moment, when they were reaching out to grab her, then activated the suit's shield mode. Having watched Grimm use the shield several times, it felt bizarre to be using it herself. But she had to admit, it was pretty funny how the muggers were flung backwards by the translucent orange bubble that expanded out.

The muggers grunted as they landed on their backs and skidded. One of them reacted quickly, rolled back to his feet and charged at her. Rhonda brought her hands together and chanted.

Omahkkiaayowa, Nitohpoksiiyikitapiiyi!
Omahkkiaayowa, Nitohpoksiiyikitapiiyi!

The birthmark on her shoulder flared blue beneath the battle suit, and the thug brought his blackjack down, aiming for Rhonda's head. But Rhonda grabbed his arm and did a judo toss. The gang leader watched as his fellow literally flew over their heads, catapulted down the alley like a frisbee, and crashed loudly into a cluster of trash cans. He moaned feebly, but did not get back up.

'Third put down - you fight like girls!' Rhonda shouted.

'Bum rush!' shouted the gang leader. And at once, his three fellows rushed at Rhonda.

Rhonda smiled. Now that the initial skirmish was over and the adrenaline rush was under control, she started to relax a little. The suit's shield made blocking their attacks almost too easy. And with the Great Bear Spirit's strength, she was more than a match for the toughs confronting her. She kept using her judo to flip them around every time they tried to hit her.

'You're lookin' at the gal who took on Hego, and a Yono powered Monkey Fist!' she thought. 'You think three muggers are gonna scare me?'

'Take her down!' one of the muggers shouted.

'I'm... tryin!' yelled the other. Rhonda had grabbed his wrist and was pushing his arm back, even though he was taller and much stockier. She swept his foot out from under him and sent him skidding sideways with a push.

'Who's next?' she said, the thrill of battle kindled in her.

The third mugger blindsided her and pushed her in the chest. Rhonda felt something behind her legs and lost her footing. Unseen while she had fought, the gang leader had circled round and knelt behind her. Rhonda had a second or two as she fell to give herself some mental kicks for falling for such an old trick. Then kicked herself a few more times as she saw the second mugger rushing at her with an upside-down trash can.

It went over her head, shutting out all the light. Mental revulsion made her hesitate and quail at the touch of the moist, foul-smelling metal. Then there was a loud clang as something hit the can hard, making her ears ring and disorienting her. She heard the thugs laughing. But bracing herself, she raised her arms to push against the metal of the trash can. Her strength backfired, punching one hand clean through the side. She struggled to free herself, and felt more heavy blows raining on the side of the trash can. Finally, she remembered the shield mode, and turned it on. The can split apart, but she fell gracelessly on her backside, backed into the corner of the alley. She saw the young couple looking at her in fear while the thugs grinned wickedly.

'You've got some nice moves, lady!' said the leader. 'But not nice enough!'

'Get 'em, guys!' Rhonda shouted.

The thugs looked around for a moment, fearing some ambush, but they saw no one. They were just about to start laughing again when their vision was blotted out by a sudden fluttering of wings at their eyes. The gang leader whirled in confusion as his gang staggered around him, covering their faces. Two owls were swooping over them, raking at the tops of their heads with sharp talons. Then he yelped as a cluster of weasels swarmed out of nowhere, clawing up his pant legs, jumping onto his shoulders and scratching his ears. 'Ow! Hey!' he shouted. 'Get 'em off, get 'em off!'

'Move it fellas!' Rhonda shouted. The attacking animals suddenly scattered as Rhonda rushed at the muggers, her fist cocked. Her punch connected hard. With a flash of blue light and a distant sound like the roaring of a bear, all the thugs found themselves flying backwards and crashing against the wall of the alley. The air was knocked from their lungs, and they slumped to the pavement.

Out of breath, Rhonda stared at the street gang. They all lay still, groaning feebly. 'Yeah...!' said Rhonda, gasping. 'Let that be a lesson to you - when you come to, that is!'

'Oh my...' came a female voice. Rhonda turned to see the young couple, staring down at the unconscious muggers. 'Thank you!' said Rose.

'Fear not, good people!' Rhonda said. 'They won't bother you again! Or if they do, it... won't be until much, much later.' She realized she'd better quit before she really ran out of things to say, and turned to leave.

'Wait!' said Rose. 'Who are you?'

'Who am I?' said Rhonda, the giddy thrill still intoxicating her. 'Who am I?'

'Yyyyeah, that's what she asked.' said Lake.

Rhonda went into a one-legged hopping dance, scooting back and forth with one arm stretched out in front of her. 'I am the terror that flaps in the night!' she shouted. 'I am the gunk in the engine of crime which makes it run at only half power! I am the all-powerful Ni..!' But Rhonda froze. She'd been on the verge of shouting Ninjella as her 'hero name', but Grimm knew that one. If the couple were interviewed by the media, and they blabbed it...

They were still staring at her. 'Yes?' said Rose. 'You're..?'

Rhonda dithered a moment. 'Oh - crud!' she thought. 'Gotta come up with something new!' 'I'm the Be...!' But she froze again. 'Can't say Bear Priestess - Grimm knows that one too!'

Both Lake and Rose were looking more confused by the second. 'The Buh....?' said Lake, waving a hand as if prompting her.

All the clients she and Grimm had ever worked for flashed through her mind, and all their ridiculous code names and aliases. Then in a flash, she remembered Ron Stoppable, dressed in a goofy black costume with a big letter Z on his chest. 'Wait, no!' she said, waving her hands frantically. 'Tell all the jerks of the world to beware the wrath of... Poxorza the Liberatrix!' Then she turned and ran, her face blazing red under her mask.

After pausing to let the animals climb on, she used the grapple line to ascend to the roof of a nearby building, then line swung a few blocks away. Only when she was sure that she'd shaken any pursuit did she let herself shrink into the corner on top of a skyscraper. She could still feel her face burning. 'Aw jeez...' she mumbled.

She heard the communicator beeping, pulling her back to reality. Her animal gang was surrounding her, looking at her expectantly. Finally, she sighed and tapped the communicator. 'OK Jade, let me have it.' she said quickly.

Jade had a deadpan expression, but there was a smirk lurking at the edge of her lips. 'Poxorza the Liberatrix?' she said. 'Where did that come from?'

Rhonda was groaning, holding her head in her hands. 'The only thing I could think of was what Ron turned into when we hit him with the Attitudinator - Zorpox the Conqueror. I just... jumbled it up a little to reverse things!'

'Well, that explains Poxorza.' Jade shrugged. 'And... Liberatrix?'

'It's the opposite of 'Conqueror'.' Rhonda muttered. 'You know - a conqueror takes people over. But a liberator frees them? And since I'm not a dude, I had to make it feminine by putting 'trix' at the end....'

'Uh huh.' said Jade, rolling her eyes.

But Rhonda was still talking. 'I mean... why does the feminization of a title have to have 'trix' at the end of it anyway?' she ranted. 'It makes us sound like some kind of breakfast cereal! Hey kids! Start off your day with a big bowl of Liberatrix!'

'Rhonda!' Jade barked. 'You're wigging!'

Rhonda slumped a little. 'Sorry.' she said sheepishly.

'Well, you'll be pleased to know the couple you helped will be OK. The cops just arrived and they're cuffing up your street gang.'

Rhonda nodded.

'So...' said Jade. 'Did you get this out of your system? Or are we gonna to do it again tomorrow night, Pinky?'

Rhonda stood up and stared out across the city, which was glowing with thousands of lights in the inky darkness. 'I... don't know yet.' she said, sullenly. 'Guess I'll sleep on it.'

'Well then, you might want to turn in now - because Grimm just finished up his own mission and he'll be back home in an hour or so. If you don't have the suit back before then...'

Rhonda winced. 'Right - got it! Done for the night - thanks Jade!'

o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o

Putting the battle suit back turned out to be a lot easier than taking it. The suit's stealth mode made slipping into Grimm's place easy. Getting out was trickier. Rueful went ahead of her to scout, but even so, as she reached the top of the stairs leading out from the basement, Mim crossed by the opposite hallway. Heading from the living room to the study, she paused and did a double-take, staring at Rhonda.

'Uh - hey.' said Rhonda, awkwardly. 'Is Grimm... here? His room was empty.'

Mim rolled her eyes. 'Yeesh, Rhonda.' she said. 'Can't you do without him for ten minutes?' Then she stepped out of sight. Rhonda's cheeks felt like they were on fire all the way home.

She said good night to her animal helpers as she passed through her sanctorum. Later in her room, Rhonda sighed as she collapsed into her desk chair. Her whole body was starting to ache from the strains of the evening, and the bruises on her knees and legs were throbbing.

She hadn't blown it exactly, but her first foray into secret crime-fighting certainly hadn't been the hollywood dream she'd imagined. 'Well,' she thought, 'I guess Spider-Man and Batman had their share of spills when they started out.'

And as she got into bed for the night, Rhonda lay looking up at the ceiling and mulling the whole experience over. 'Sure, I didn't come roaring out of the gate. But I saved that couple - I stopped the crooks - and Grimm didn't find out. Not a bad night, I guess. I mean, at least it wasn't the end of the world....'

o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o

In space beyond the Earth, the vast fleet of Lorwardian ships continued their silent pursuit of Earth's orbit. But the invasion was not set to begin - not yet. They had tasks to accomplish first, under orders from supreme General Warhok. And one of those tasks was the completion of the marker project, branding the planets' surface in strategic locations to be landing zones for the walkers.

A project that had temporarily been halted, for fear that it had been compromised by the inhabitants of the planet.

BattleSkaar sat in the command chair on his ship. He heard the doors leading into the bridge open and close, then Sor'dClash, his first officer, crossed from behind into his view, saluting as he took his place in front of his commander.

'Report.' barked BattleSkaar.

S'ordClash bowed his head in a quick nod. 'We have captured the human discovered at the site for marker 23. He is being taken to detention for interrogation...'

'I will interrogate the prisoner myself.' Battleskarr broke in. 'Bring him... to my office.'

Sor'dClash winced. When BattleSkaar was angry, and wished to speak in his office, then those with whom he spoke rarely came out uninjured - if they came out at all. It was called his 'office' mainly in jest among the troops, who knew the room served as much as an interrogation and punishment chamber as it did an actual office.

Within moments, BattleSkaar was inside his office, tapping his finger impatiently on the armrest of his chair. This room was specifically designed to be intimidating, with only limited light on the chair, and the rest of the room shrouded in darkness. Soon, the chime to his door sounded and he barked out. 'Enter!'

Sor'dClash stood in the entryway as the door hissed open, but did not set foot in the room. 'We have brought the prisoner, as you have requested, commander.' he said with a half-bow. On a nod from his commander, Sor'dClash turned and gestured to two burly Fights who stood on either side of a figure. The Fights half dragged the figure into the office, then pushed him forward and retreated.

'Very well - now leave us.' BattleSkaar said. And his subordinates quickly exited.

BattleSkaar regarded the creature now standing before him. It was a human male, but one so skeletally thin that he marveled he was even alive. He had dark skin, and was dressed in a brown cloak and poncho. The feathers of some kind of bird were draped behind his left ear. His hair was long and dark, but nowhere near as dark as his eyes - fathomless pools of black that stood in stark contrast to BattleSkaar's piercing, yellow eyes.

'Identify yourself!' BattleSkaar said.

'I am Sskipoyiwa.' said the man. 'But you may call me Maze. Who are you?'

BattleSkaar leaned forward. 'I will ask the questions!' he snarled. 'You stand in the presence of the mightiest warriors in the galaxy - the Lorwardian Empire! You are our prisoner, and will comport yourself accordingly. Any resistance and you will be punished!' BattleSkaar was curious, for while Maze bowed and nodded, he did not seem particularly intimidated.

'As you wish.' he said.

BattleSkaar heaved up and walked around his desk, circling Maze like a predator. 'Now... Maze.' he said, 'You appear to have stumbled into matters beyond your comprehension. You were found at the site of one of our covert operations. Why were you there?'

'I did not stumble into them.' said Maze. 'I have watched your operations, I have observed them. And I disrupted them specifically to gain your attention.'

'Then you have succeeded beyond your expectations.' BattleSkaar hissed, leaning down until they were nearly face to face. 'These are doings which our leaders wish to keep secret. Tell me why I should not kill you where you stand - to ensure that secrecy!'

'Because,' said Maze, staring him directly in the eyes, 'I wish to join you.'

After a few moments of silence, BattleSkaar bellowed with laughter. 'You?' he said, after quelling his mirth. 'There are many soldiers - who, when they see the battle is lost, would gladly join the enemy ranks if they could. A coward's ploy to save themselves.'

Maze did not answer, and BattleSkaar glared down at him. The human looked so thin, frail and brittle that even the servant class could defeat him. 'I admit your trick got our attention - but little more.' he said. 'What service of value could you possibly render to Lorwardia?'

'If you choose to operate in the shadows, then I can be of great service to you.' said Maze. And with that, he bowed his head and began to chant in a low voice.

Sipimottakiksi,
Nikaahtomaana nimaataakaniiwa...
Sipimottakiksi,
Nikaahtomaana nimaataakaniiwa!

BattleSkaar shook his head impatiently. 'It is too late for prayers, human!' he said. 'If you can do no more than that, then your fate is sealed....'

Then he blinked in surprise, for Maze seemed to fade from view. BattleSkaar moved forward to seize him, but found himself blocked by some kind of invisible wall. He pushed against it for a moment, then snarled and struck hard with his fists. The barrier withstood him.

Barely visible now from within the shadow barrier, Maze spoke in a low voice. 'The shadows are my servants.' he said. 'They protect me from harm - it was also how I was able to hide your marker after it was set.'

BattleSkaar took the closest weapon he could reach, a heavy bladed spear from a rack on the wall, and continued striking hard, his face snarling.

'If you will calm yourself long enough to listen,' said Maze, 'You will realize that this power can aid you. If I can conceal your markers after they are set, I can conceal them while they are being made...'

BattleSkaar paused, his arm drawn back from another strike, and considered. Warhok was already impatient with how slowly the marker project was going. Despite his demands for total secrecy, he still wanted it done quickly so they could begin the invasion. Speed and stealth were often at variance with each other in military operations. If there was any chance that this human's curious power could allow them to speed the process....

Maze lowered the shadow barrier, and BattleSkaar stepped forward, his spear lowered. He held the blade to Maze's neck. 'An interesting display.' he said. 'I should kill you now for your insolence...'

'Just as our people will try to kill you for invading our world.' said Maze.

'Our leaders have set their minds to conquer this world, and it will be done!' BattleSkaar hissed. 'If your people resist, they will be destroyed!'

'And that would be a tragic waste.' said Maze, 'For your people, and mine. So I will aid you - to prevent any... unnecessary losses.'

'You expect us to believe that you would help us to conquer your own world - and betray your own kind?'

'My world... has forsaken me.' Maze said, and his face looked twisted and bitter. 'I no longer have any loyalty to them.'

BattleSkaar glowered. While he could see the potential use for this human's power, the thought of presenting him to his peers and superiors was distasteful to say the least. His own first instinct had been to laugh, and he fully expected the same from the other Battles. They would not believe this human could be of any use.

BattleSkaar smirked, thinking he knew a way to prove his point. 'If you wish to be of service, then tell us all you know concerning these two humans.' He tapped a control on his desk and brought up one of their intelligence files. A holographic projection of a red-headed girl hovered above the desk, then another of a human male with blue skin. He expected Maze to dither and fudge in ignorance. After all, their scans showed there were billions of inhabitants on Earth. The chances that Maze would know these two were infinitesimal, and would be all the excuse Battleskarr would need to expose this human's worthlessness, and eliminate him. But to his surprise, the shadow shaman glared and nodded.

'I know these people.' he said with a scowl. 'The girl is named Mi'kksiistsikomma.' Then he gave a little shake of his head, and said, 'Kim Possible. The man is called Dr. Drakken.'

BattleSkaar blinked. In the intelligence briefings he had attended with the other Battles, he had been informed that among other objectives of the invasion, they were to pay special attention to hunting down two particular humans. They had even been presented a video feed showing the blue male, in which he identified himself by several names, including 'Drew', 'Dr. D', and Dr. Drakken. Though taken aback by this unexpected knowledge, BattleSkaar eagerly pounced. 'They are enemies of our supreme general!' BattleSkaar said. 'Do you know where they can be found?'

Maze nodded. 'Yes.' he said. 'They are my enemies too. Kim Possible thwarted my own plans. Drakken betrayed me to my enemies, causing my downfall. If you wish to hunt them down, I will aid you. Among my people, I am an accomplished tracker.'

'Nothing of value comes without a price.' said BattleSkaar. 'What do you expect to gain in return?'

'My life - my freedom.' said Maze. 'And a chance to share in your revenge. And when your conquest is achieved - that I may be made a ruler over my own people - the Blackfoot Indians.'

BattleSkaar's eyes narrowed, and Maze immediately bowed his head a little. 'In your name, of course.' he said. 'And if it pleases you - there are other humans who are my enemies that could be added to your list. A girl named Rhonda...'

'We have no interest in helping you with your petty grudges.' BattleSkaar barked. 'You will help us to accomplish our own ends. Once that is done, and you have proven your value, there will be time enough for you to indulge your spite.'

Maze hesitated, his hands twitching. But then he bowed again. 'Yes, my lord.' he said slowly.

'Very well.' said BattleSkaar. 'We accept your offer of assistance. As of this moment, you are a servant of the Lorwardian Empire! Serve well, and you will be rewarded - with everything you deserve.'

Maze nodded, a faint smile on his lips.

Coming Soon:
Chapter 3
Stereo-atypical

Sorry about the long wait on this one (again). Between job hunting, and moving a few times, my leisure writing and drawing have taken a big hit. But I haven't given up on this story - quite the contrary. I had it in mind when I was in the middle of doing the Return of Zorpox, and that means not giving up until the tale is told :)

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Email author: drethcor@gmail.com