Chapter1:
Nerves
Or: Familiarity needs Contempt

Kim Possible threw back her arms, smiling widely as the crowd cheered, pumped their fists and stamped their feet on the bleachers. The crisp air of the starry night was around her and the rest of the squad as she stood over fifteen feet above the ground at the top of a well-balanced pyramid of other cheerleaders. Despite the inky blue of the night sky, the lights around the football field blazed white in her eyes. She joined in a rhythmic chant that echoed across the stadium, even louder than the hollering crowd.

'Go Mad Dogs! Go Mad Dogs! Goooooo Mad Dogs!!'

Over half of the people in the crowd cheered even louder as they performed, though a large percentage, mostly the families of the visiting team, were shouting muted boos. But after being on the squad since her freshman year, Kim had long ago learned to tune out the random jeers and sneers from supporters of the opposing teams.

The Mad Dogs broke their huddle and Mr. Barkin returned to the sidelines while the football team got into formation. It was the last few minutes of the game, and the score was tied 30/30. While the opposing team wasn't much on offense, their defense was superb. Their offensive tacklers seemed able to weave through the blockers like water to take down the ball carrier. And their blockers had an uncanny knack for stonewalling any runners who tried to get into position for a pass.

Kim and the rest of the cheer squad knelt on the sidelines, waiting for any lull in the game so they could pump up the crowd again, but there was almost a hush as the Mad Dog quarterback placed his hand on the ball. The defenders faces were squinched and their teeth were biting hard on their mouth guards. They knew if the Mad Dogs got through, the game was virtually over and they looked ready to tear the heads off anyone who tried.

The ball was snapped and the initial tacklers and blockers began their scuffles, colliding with loud grunts. Two of the defending tacklers broke through the line, charging towards the linebacker, who was poised for a throw.

But just before he was plowed down by the tacklers, he threw the ball backwards over his shoulder where it was neatly caught by a thinner player with the number 7 on his jersey. Ron Stoppable neatly sidestepped the pile of bodies in front of him and began running towards the defensive line.

The crowd roared, and Kim leaped to her feet with the rest of the squad, going into a practiced routine they had memorized since Ron had joined the team.

'R-O-N! R-O-N! If he can't do it, no one can!'

Ron was squealing and wailing as he found himself being targeted by the entire opposing team. The offensive tacklers were doing their best, but several defending players ducked through them and charged.

And as Ron saw several hundred pounds of angry football players barreling down on him, his thoughts went oddly cool and distant.

'Gotta get across the lair and shut down the doomsday machine!' he thought. 'Wade's device will stop it, but it's gotta be touching the main console! Duck left, hustle, strafe - strafe - strafe! Synthodrone dead ahead, duck and roll! Shego and Killigan are on the right - oh man, why are THEY working together? Run back - run back - run back some more! Find inner peace and serenity! Peace not coming in middle of war zone! Run right - run faster! I said FASTER!! Oh no, monkeys! Main control panel dead ahead - must plant Wade's device - do it for Kim! Almost there..... BOOYAH!!'

And Ron skidded to a stop in the green grass of the end zone, relishing in the fact that he'd helped Kim save the world again for one brief second before he was flattened beneath a pile of furious tacklers.

A whistle blew and the crowd erupted in cheers while a large block in the stands let out a rushing moan of disappointment. Kim and the squad formed a line and did a set of taunting moves while the loudspeakers blared out music and the Mad Dog supporters joined them in a football chant that was nearly as old as football itself.

Nah-nah! Nah-nah-nah-nah! Hey-heyyy! Good-bye!
Nah-nah! Nah-nah-nah-nah! Hey-heyyy! Good-bye!

Barkin had fished Ron out from beneath the opposing players and was shaking him heartily. There were only ten seconds left in the game, and the outcome was a foregone conclusion.

Seeing the numbers and the time left on the clock, Ron shouted booyah once again and started doing a bizarre set of dance steps that had the opposing players looking at him first in confusion, then with amusement.

Kim faltered. Ron was doing the 'bon-diggety' dance - the dance she'd expressly forbidden him from ever doing in public. She didn't mind it when they were alone or in familiar company, but there were over a thousand people in the crowd. She heard a ripple of chuckles from the sections of the bleachers where the visitors were seated.

And suddenly Bonnie was right beside her. 'Nice moves.' she said. 'You mean after four years he hasn't worked on anything new? I mean it was a hoot the first time, but really...'

Kim sighed and shielded her eyes with her hand, feeling a stinging heat on her face as triumph was replaced with embarrassment. But Ron was still dancing, not noticing that the entire stadium had fallen silent except for the laughs from the other side of the bleachers.

'Stoppable!' said Mr. Barkin, his voice lowering to a dangerous growl. 'The game is ours - quit workin' it!'

Ron slumped back into a submissive posture at once, raising one hand in a feeble salute. 'Yessir, Mr. B.' he said sheepishly.

The opposing team used up all their remaining time outs, blowing the last ten seconds out into nearly ten minutes before the game finally ended and the Mad Dogs walked off the field with a 36-30 victory.

Kim and Ron left hand in hand after the game, making their way towards the Pink Sloth. 'Another win for the Mad Dogs!' said Ron cheerfully.

'All thanks to you.' said Kim warmly. 'But the dance? I thought we talked about that.'

'Sorry KP.' he said, blushing slightly. 'I kinda got carried away.'

'Congratulations, Stoppable.' came a gruff voice behind them. Kim felt a tingle of worry as about four members of the opposing team, including the quarterback, stood glaring at them with expressions that were anything but congratulatory. 'Me and the rest of the team were wondering where you learned to run, but now we're more curious where you learned to dance.'

Ron didn't seem to catch the sarcasm or the hostility that was radiating from the four jocks. 'You like the bon-diggity moves?' he said cheerfully, doing a half-baked version of the bon-diggity dance. 'The Ronster's got a million of 'em!'

Kim elbowed him. 'So not the time for it, Ron...' she muttered. If they tried anything, she was ready to leap into action, but whatever the four jocks had been planning, they seemed to have forgotten it as they broke out laughing while Ron danced.

'Let me guess.' said the quarterback. 'You learned it from Elaine on Seinfeld, am I right?'

Ron paused in his dancing, looking confused. 'Seinfeld..... Seinfeld.....' he said, rubbing his chin. 'Not familiar with it.... Is it a law firm?' Kim sighed and put her hand back over her eyes.

'It's a TV show.' said the quarterback, looking smug. 'Nine seasons? Highly successful?'

Ron's face brightened. 'Oh so that's why your team loses so much!' he said. His voice carried no malice, he merely sounded like a student in class who finally understood a nagging question. 'You spend too much time watching TV instead of practicing!'

The four players shook their heads and started off. 'If winning means being such a geek, then enjoy your victory.' said the quarterback, waving them off.

Ron shrugged. 'Heh.' he said. 'I wonder what all that was about?'

Kim shook her head, and wondered with dread if pictures of Ron's dance were going to be in the local newspaper when they reported on the game....

Later at Bueno Nacho, Kim tried to ignore it as some of the other diners who were celebrating the Middleton victory pointed and whispered as Kim and Ron took their usual booth. She saw some of them doing 'torso only' versions of the bon-diggety dance and smiling. She felt her cheeks flushing again.

But her attention was soon drawn fully to Ron, who was inhaling the Nacos in front of him, then after washing them down with his soda, he let out a hearty belch.

'Ron!' said Kim, her eyes narrowing. 'We discussed this too - the face stuffing - why?'

'Uh - hello?' he answered. 'We did discuss it! And as I recall the inarguable conclusion was cheese!'

'Mmm-hmm! Cheese!' squeaked Rufus, who was noisily devouring his own Naco.

Kim dropped her voice low, leaning in closer. 'Ron - don't you remember that thing about eating too much too fast?'

Ron's face went utterly blank. 'Huh?' he said.

Kim sighed impatiently. 'You tried to prove the health class wrong? Binge eating? Experimental serum? You became a fifteen-foot tall orange behemoth?'

Ron's mouth opened in amazement. 'What? When did that happen?'

Kim stared. 'It was just a couple of months ago! You learned your lesson and said you'd eat responsibly!'

'I did?' Ron said. 'That doesn't sound like me at all!'

Kim sighed heavily and again covered her eyes with her hands.

Kim entered Club Banana later still. It was nearly closing time already, but she reasoned there were still a few minutes in which she could gaze longingly at the things she'd like to buy. Monique's face brightened as Kim came in.

'What up, GF?' she said. 'Dare I hope you're here to clock in and help out?'

'Only when I'm actually scheduled to!' Kim answered. 'I just came in for some 'me' time.'

'I thought something blonde and cheesy was missing.' said Monique, looking around as if searching for something. 'I heard on the radio the Mad Dogs won again - so where is our hero of the hour?'

'Off at the arcade.' said Kim. 'And it's more like hero of the split-second. Once he saw he'd made the winning touchdown he kicked up his heels and...'

'He didn't!' said Monique, her eyes opening wide. 'In front of everybody? Not the...'

Kim nodded. 'The full BDD.'

Monique groaned sympathetically. 'Oh girlfriend - no wonder you needed someplace to hide...'

'Not hide so much as temporary refuge.' Kim shrugged, going through a set of shirts on their hangers, and taking a few out to drape over herself to see if they'd fit. 'Ron's the greatest, but sometimes he can be so....'

'Ronnish?'

'Yeah - Ronnish.' Kim answered. 'I wish he could be more.....'

'Sophisticated?' said Monique. 'Intelligent? Tactful? Debonair?'

'Yeah...' said Kim quietly. 'Just a little... better than he is now. I know he's capable of it, he just...'

'Graceful?' Monique was saying, ticking off on her fingers. 'Socially adept? Insightful? Reliable? Cultured?'

'Monique!' said Kim, though she was smiling.

'Don't interrupt girl, I'm only part-way through my list...' Monique said, grinning.

But Kim's wrist communicator let out a four-note beep and reflexively, she raised her hand and punched a button, bringing up Wade's face on the screen.

'Hey Kim!' said Wade, but then his eyes flew to Monique. 'Ah... Monique....' he said, and his voice went syrupy.

Monique backed out of view at once, the Valentine's Day incident still fresh in her memory. 'Later Kim,' she said quickly. 'I think I gotta - check the inventory - or something....' and she darted off towards the back room.

Wade was craning his neck as if trying to raise himself out of the communicator screen to follow Monique's exit. 'Wade!' said Kim sharply. 'You called! I'm over here!'

'Oh... sorry Kim.' he said, his voice slowly shifting back to a business-like tone. 'I just got word that Adrena Lynn is on the move.'

'There's a name I haven't heard in a while.' said Kim. 'I thought after that one encounter she joined a convent or something....'

Wade let out a chuckle. 'Not likely.' he said. 'She's still chasing the ultimate thrill - and at the moment that means coupling her normal stunts with robberies to spice things up a little.'

'Feed us a location and we're there!' said Kim. 'Once I pick up the Lord of the Dance...' Kim shut off the Kimmunicator and dashed out of Club Banana towards the arcade. Evil may never rest, she thought, but that always made evil tired....

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Far away in a darkened dell beneath the overhanging crags of a mountain, a dome-like hut made of shaped tree branches sat with a thin plume of blue smoke rising from a hole in the very top.

A tall, skeletally thin man stood at the entrance. A number of crows were flocking to the hogan, perching on the branches of trees that were clustered around the hut at the forest edge. Their rude croaks and cries grated through the still air.

'You have done well my friends.' said Maze to the sable birds which jostled on the branches. 'Return to the forest, but be ready when I call you again.' And with a storm of flapping wings the birds scattered, rising into the air and wheeling towards the woods, their cries fading to silence.

Maze smiled and entered the hogan. Inside was a crudely formed statue, a roughened man-shaped lump of stone. Maze tied a curious brand to the palm of his right hand with a pair of leather straps and stood before the statue, bringing his hands together and closing his eyes. He began to chant in a low voice.

Sipimottakiksi, Sipimottakiksi,
Nikaahtomaana nitaanistsi'toyiiwa...

Nothing seemed to happen at first, but as he continued to chant, the shadows which lay on the ground and on the walls of the hut began to shift, as if the sun were moving quickly from day to night. Maze's eyes squinted, and beads of sweat began to appear on his forehead. He trembled, gritting his teeth, and chanted louder.

Sipimottakiksi, Sipimottakiksi,
Nikaahtomaana nitaanistsi'toyiiwa...

The shadows pooled like dark water around the statue, then crept up until it covered the stone figure like a cocoon of darkness. Maze's voice was strained and labored, and sweat was pouring down his cheeks, his face twisted with concentration.

Emet - Sipimottakiksi, Sipimottakiksi,
Emet - Nikaahtomaana nitaanistsi'toyiiwa!

And suddenly he stepped forward, clasping his right hand on the left hand of the statue. There was a hissing sound, and Maze let out a cry of pain before drawing back his hand. Branded onto the back of the statue's hand were three strange characters. Maze fell to his knees, breathing rapidly while the shadows leaped back to the walls and the edges of the hut.

After a few moments, Maze's breathing steadied and he rose to his feet. He fixed his eyes on the statue and held out his palm. 'Bow.' he said, simply.

With a sound like stone grating against stone, the statue sank to it's knees. Maze smiled. 'You will go to the entrance of this hut and stand guard there.' he said. 'You will allow no creature to enter or leave except for myself. Obey!'

The statue rose, and with a heavy thumping of its feet, it lumbered outside. Once it was there, it went still again. Only then did Maze allow his weariness to take hold. Gasping, he rolled himself onto a pile of soft straw. Though his body remained still except for his rising and falling chest, his thoughts raced.

'Too long.' he thought, clenching his fingers around the metal brand still tied to his palm. 'It is taking too long! And even with the mingling of my shadow-medicine with the power of the Great Bear, the effort required to bring them to life is too taxing. My feathered servants are performing their tasks admirably, but there are too many!'

He lay in silence for some time, his eye flicking towards the guardian, which stood motionless, waiting for his next command. But as much as his mind worked, he could see no solution. He had reached the limit of what he could accomplish on his own.

The Shaman of Shadows felt sleep approaching him, but it was with a bitter anger that he surrendered to his fatigue. And with a stab of hatred, the memory of a blonde-haired girl came to his mind. Her insolent voice echoed in his thoughts.

'Well la-dee-dah. You want to be a super-villain and take over the world. There's a whole club of like-minded people out there waiting for you to join up....'

And as sleep took him, he came to a realization that truth had been masked in the words of a fool. There were others out there who could help him. And he would have to find them if his plan was to succeed....

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Pink Sloth raced down the darkened city streets. Kim kept an eye on the road ahead of her, occasionally checking with the GPS map that Wade had up on the dashboard console. They were getting close to a factory that designed and manufactured sporting goods.

'You're sure she's in there?' said Kim.

Wade's face appeared on another screen. 'No doubt about it.'

'And the name of the game is...?'

'Industrial espionage.' Wade answered. 'Big Six is the leading designer of hiking, biking and exercise equipment. Trade magazines all look to this plant to see what the next hot ticket is going to be.'

'The perfect place for an adrenaline junkie to swipe secret designs for the competition.' Kim said, her eyes narrowing and her smile broadening in the way it always did just before she went into action.

'Adrena Lynn....' said Ron, buckled securely in the back seat. 'Didn't she disappear in the Bermuda Triangle or something?'

'If only.' said Kim. 'But soon - she'll be disappearing into cell block D!'

Inside the R&D section of the Big Six manufacturing plant, a ceiling tile was knocked loose and fell a few inches before being seized by a slender hand in a sports glove. Barely a moment later, a trim figure descended from the high ceiling on a zip line.

Adrena Lynn stopped her descent about four feet from the floor. Such an entrance was wholly unnecessary, as the security systems in the plant were not very sophisticated, but Adrena had always liked Mission Impossible, and couldn't resist aping the infiltration scene.

She fitted a stethoscope to her ears and placed the bell on the door of a wall safe next to where she hung. Cracking safes was hardly the thrill she craved. But she reasoned, if she gave herself a deadline and treated it as a race against time, it became more interesting.

She'd self-imposed a limit of two minutes for cracking the safe, and smirked as the safe opened after only sixty-seven seconds. She saw manila folders within, and thumbed through them, seeing the design specs and equipment schematics that she had been told would be there. She placed them in her pack when she suddenly heard the sound of a door bursting open and a blinked as a wash of light blinded her night-vision goggles. She pulled them off, glancing behind her.

'Hello Adrena Lynn.' said Kim, smiling. 'Found a new place to hang?'

'Kim Possible.' Adrena said, returning an equally smug grin. 'Haven't seen you for a while. I thought you joined a convent or something.'

Ron laughed loudly behind Kim. 'Ha! Convent! That's rich!'

'Ron!' said Kim, blushing.

'Sorry.' he said quickly.

Kim turned back to Adrena. 'Drop the secret plans and back away, Lynn!' she said, 'Or get ready for a thrill ride to prison!'

Adrena smirked. 'That sounded like a challenge.' she said quietly. 'Catch me if you can, teeny-bopper!' She tugged at her zip line, and suddenly shot upwards, disappearing smoothly into the hole in the ceiling.

At once, Kim fired her wrist grappling line and swept upwards after her, vanishing into the ceiling in pursuit. Ron looked at the tiny opening in the ceiling far above and then looked at his stomach which was still holding his grande-sized meal. 'Ah, yeah...' he said. 'Let's cut her off on the other end, Rufus....'

Rufus popped out of his pants pocket and nodded. 'Mmm-hmm!' he squeaked.

Kim felt the cramped space of the air vents as she crawled through them as fast as she could. She caught glimpses of Adrena Lynn, disappearing around various corners, twists and turns. The thumping, metallic noise of the vent walls buckling and popping back into place as they raced through them sounded in her ears. Dust was wafting into her mouth and eyes, making her tear up, but she kept pace with her quarry.

For several minutes this went on until Kim heard a thudding clang, which she knew from past experience must be the sound of Adrena kicking out another vent panel. And sure enough as she turned the next corner, she saw a shaft of paler light. She twisted and followed after, seeing Adrena plunging down through the air into the vast, sprawling void of the equipment assembly section of the plant.

Kim fired her grappling line again, swinging down as Adrena Lynn cast up a line of her own. They descended onto a criss-crossing network of conveyor belts. Kim landed on a conveyor line two meters above Adrena.

'Give it up, Lynn!' she shouted. 'We've been down this road before!'

Adrena grinned up at her. 'Then why don't we take the road less traveled?' She took what looked like a racquetball from her fanny-pack and threw it hard towards a control panel near the floor which was about twenty feet down. The sphere struck a bright orange button. An alarm buzz sounded, and with a sudden lurch, the conveyor belts started moving, and the intricate machinery started working, carrying parts and other equipment along the assembly lines.

Kim leaped down, but Adrena leaped up, landing with catlike grace and dashing towards a gigantic metal enclosure into which a number of bike helmets were being conveyed. Kim jumped back up in pursuit.

It soon felt like a game that combined tag with chicken. Adrena Lynn sped recklessly along the conveyor lines, dashing into and out of the machinery without hesitation. She looked back occasionally with a grin to see Kim right behind her.

Kim had several close calls going through the machinery, and narrowly avoided being mashed beneath a press that looked like it was made to steam crease jerseys and other clothing. Even Adrena Lynn yelped once as Kim saw her nearly get clipped by a revolving set of gears in another enclosure, but she was up and running and smiling again barely an instant later.

At last Adrena came to a point where she had gone through nearly every conveyor line and her face showed frustration when she saw that she had not been able to shake Kim off in the slightest. She flipped down onto the last conveyor line and rolled off to the side, racing towards a pair of swinging double-doors that led back into the factory hallways. But she skittered to a halt as Kim landed right in front of her.

'So over Adrena!' said Kim, smiling. 'But I've got some latent hostility to work out if you really want to keep fighting!'

Adrena Lynn grimaced, knowing that she couldn't run to either side without Kim bearing down on her, and that she was no match for Kim's kung-fu. But the doorway between her and Kim suddenly burst open and Ron stumbled onto the factory floor, panting. He saw Kim and smiled, not noticing Adrena who stood barely three feet behind him. 'Made it!' he said, his voice a bit raspy. 'Where's Adrena? What'd I miss?'

Adrena smirked and with a sudden whirling kick, she swept Ron's feet out from under him and pushed, sending him tumbling into a conveyor line that had backpack straps and harnesses hanging from a support beam. Ron twisted and struggled, but was soon hopelessly tangled in a web of buckles and velcro straps. The line was carrying him towards another metal enclosure, which was emitting a dangerous hammering sound.

'Your choice, Kim.' said Adrena with a wicked smile. 'You can catch me, or you can act fast and save whatz-his-face from having the Big Six logo embroidered on every square inch of his body! Now wouldn't that be freaky?'

Kim glared for one brief instant before dashing off towards the conveyor line.

'Knew it.' Adrena said quietly, and then she disappeared through the doorway Ron had come through.

Ron twisted in a veritable cocoon of straps, and saw a number of armatures inside the enclosure he was heading towards. Each armature had a very sharp looking needle at the end. 'Kim!' he squealed. His feet entered the enclosure and he felt a merciless tugging on his shoes....

Kim seized his shoulders and pulled him back, preventing him from going into the enclosure any further. Luckily the support strut holding the straps and buckles was designed to allow anything hanging on it to be wheeled backwards at need. But the conveyor line was still struggling against her. 'Rufus - turn this thing off!' she shouted.

At once, a pink blur leaped out of Ron's pocket, scampered across the floor and scrambled up the raised podium of the control panels. Within moments there was a satisfying beep and the conveyor belts slowly whirred to a halt.

Kim helped Ron pull himself free from the straps that held him. 'Are you OK?' she asked.

Ron looked down at his feet. There were small, circular patches on his shoes, with "BIG 6" emblazoned on each one. 'Oh no, I'm a shill!' he wailed, and he bent down, struggling to pull off one of the labels that were securely stitched in place.

Kim hit her wrist Kimmunitcator. 'Wade - Lynn slipped through the net. Can you track her?'

Wade looked uncomfortable. 'Uh - afraid not Kim. Things are kinda busy on this end...'

'What's busier than a danger addict who commits robberies?' Kim snapped, feeling frustrated.

'Well, there was another theft across town. It took place during the chase with Adrena Lynn.' he said. 'I've been trying to keep tabs on both at once, but something happened that made me lose track of both.'

Kim sighed. 'OK, bad news first.'

'Bad news is - I've got no idea who did it. Whoever was hacking for them was good. They took out every surveillance grid for an entire block and covered it by disabling the local broadband carriers. There were so many customers calling in and complaining that no one noticed the electrical grid had also been tampered with.'

'And were you one of those customers?' said Kim, raising an eyebrow.

Wade grinned ruefully. 'Well, when you make a living by being wired, you kinda notice when you're not. I only just got through re-routing my connections through an alternate set of servers...'

'Then how about the good news?' She said, glancing aside at Ron, who was wincing as he danced around behind her, peeling embroidered logos off his shoes.

'There was no good news.' Wade shrugged. 'The thieves got away clean with with some kind of experimental hydroponic formula.'

'We're talking super plant food?' said Kim. 'Any of our current bad boys angling for that kind of stuff?'

'If they are, I haven't got the low-down on it.' said Wade. 'I'll keep digging though. How's Ron?'

Ron tore the last label off at that minute, falling onto his back with a grimace. 'He's... fine.' said Kim, her voice flat. 'Keep us posted.' She put out a hand and helped Ron back to his feet.

Things were uncomfortably quiet as they got into the Sloth after leaving the factory. 'Sorry KP.' Ron said, looking abashed. 'If I hadn't screwed up, you might have caught her.'

'I'm used to it.' she said, but caught herself at once. 'I mean - it's no big. She's bound to slip up, and when she does we'll be right there to catch her.' It felt like deja vu, as they'd had many similar exchanges over their missions. But Ron said very little on the drive home, and neither did she.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Adrena Lynn stepped into the empty gray parking lot of an abandoned warehouse. Litter was blowing here and there as a mild night breeze swirled around her. She stopped near the galvanized steel of the corrugated wall, which was shadowed by the overhanging roof. And in the shadows she saw a lone figure standing at his ease, leaning casually against the wall next to the black rectangle of an open doorway.

'So - did you have fun?' said a smooth male voice.

Adrena Lynn smiled. 'Did I ever! Covert break-in, Olympic-style safecracking, and a breakneck chase through a gauntlet of working assembly equipment! After that, bungee jumping seems kinda trite!' She held out the manila envelopes containing the files she had taken. 'And a clean getaway with the goods to boot.'

The figure shook his head, gesturing away with his hand. 'I never said I wanted those files.' he said. 'I just suggested it might be a fun challenge for you to try and take them.'

Adrena Lynn looked confused. 'All that and you don't want them? What the heck am I supposed to do with them?'

'Beats me.' he answered. 'You can return them if you want - or sell them for however much you think you can get. I really couldn't care less.'

Adrena put the files back in her pack. 'Then what was the point of all this?'

The figure seemed to chuckle. 'The point?' he said. 'I didn't think you needed one. I thought the thrill of the challenge was all you wanted. Or maybe the rumors about you going soft are true...'

Adrena glared, clenching her fists. 'Going soft?' she snarled. 'Who's saying that?'

'Easy....' said the figure soothingly. 'Just rumors I've heard here and there. Though this caper seems to have dispelled a lot of them - at least to my mind. I'm all about helping troubled villains, and you've been off the radar for a long time. A woman with your drive and skill deserves a reputation. So if you found this job amusing, there are others that may occur to me. Jobs that could make you famous. Interested?'

'Bring 'em on!' Adrena said, smiling defiantly.

'Coolness. We'll be in touch. Until then you might want to sell the goods before they get too hot. Or there's a trash bin just down the alley. Your choice. Catch you later.'

Adrena nodded curtly and ran back the way she came, disappearing into the darkness. For a moment all was quiet, then a female voice sounded from the doorway behind the figure in the shadows.

'Man alive, I thought I was blonde. But she takes the cake.'

An athletic looking teenage boy stepped out from the eaves of the warehouse and into the dim light of a nearby lamp post, running a hand through his spiked auburn hair. Grimm Probable smirked as a girl with shoulder-length blonde hair came out from the doorway and stood beside him. Rhonda Fatigable stared out after Adrena Lynn. Her long-tailed weasel, Rueful, was perched on her shoulder, nodding and chittering softly.

'She is who she is.' Grimm said quietly. 'And the words 'useful idiot' come to mind. We needed an obvious theft to smokescreen the one we were hired for - and they don't come any more obvious than Adrena Lynn. Her ham handed thrillseeking caught Wade's attention right away - even trying to be stealthy she just couldn't keep herself off the grid.' He took out his communicator. 'Jade - we're done. And not only that, we've still got Adrena on the hook for more of the same if we need it.'

A girl with an Asian complexion smiled out of the viewscreen. Her dark hair was pulled into two pony-tails and there were rainbow streaks of color on either side of her temples. 'Spankin!' she chirped.

'How were things on your end?' said Grimm. 'Did Possible's hacker see anything?'

'He freaked when he lost internet and took his eyes off the ball, just like you said.' she smiled. 'How'd you know Adrena Lynn would buy into it?'

Grimm laughed. 'She's a junkie for this sort of thing. All you have to do is toss out the word 'thrill' and she can't stop herself. See you back at home. Just make sure Drakken doesn't renig. I'm not sure why he wants this hydroponic formula, but I don't want him to think the job was too easy or he'll ask for a discount.'

'Done and done!' There was a beep, and Jade vanished from the screen.

Rhonda didn't say anything as they walked towards a sleek motorcycle that was parked near a high chain link fence that surrounded the warehouse. She stayed silent as Grimm unlocked the bike. 'Something wrong hot stuff?' he said, taking out their helmets and handing one to her.

Rhonda put her hands on her hips. 'Actually yeah.' she said. 'You've had me working my butt off for months since we came back from Kwitcherbeliakin, studying Blackfoot, communing with nature, practicing to the wee hours - all so we can get ready to face off with pom-pon and her doofus-boy sidekick. Well I'm stoked for it right enough. So how come we're still doing everything all sneaky?'

Grimm smiled, getting onto the bike. 'Cause the sneaky stuff is our thing.' he said. 'I don't know how much truth was in it when Sakituya hinted that your Bear powers shouldn't be used carelessly, but I want to keep them secret just in case.' Rhonda still looked sulky. 'Relax - It's only a matter of time before we meet Possible's gang again.' Grimm said. 'Still, that's no reason to make things easy for them. We've got a lot of aces up our sleeves now, but if we can keep Possible betting all her money on weak hands, so much the better.'

Rhonda put on a pouty face and started bouncing on the balls of her feet. 'But I wanna fight her nooooowwwwww.....' she said, sounding like a kid wanting to go out for ice cream. But Grimm leaned in and kissed her. Rhonda quickly went still, and a dreamy expression was on her face when Grimm pulled back.

'It'll happen.' he said softly. 'But for now - let's go home and divvy up the loot - partner.' Rhonda smiled, blushing, and then got onto the bike behind Grimm, putting her arms around him as they sped off into the night.

Coming Soon:
Chapter 2

People always want me to arrive early,
but they are rarely happy to see me.
What am I?

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