A Kim Possible Fanfiction
by Greg Fisk (aka "Slyrr")

Kim Possible is owned/copyrighted by Disney and its affiliates, etc. etc.

Chapter 14:
Gill
Or: A Sitch In Slime

Kim looked away from Grimm, who had an eager light in his eyes and turned to her Kimmunicator. A mission. This was what Grimm had said he's been waiting for, hoping that Kim would come across Monkey Fist or Maze while she was in action again, and she could feel his eyes boring into her as he quickly crossed the room to stand beside her at the couch, taking out his own communicator.

'Link us up Jade.' he said softly, and she saw the same image on his communicator screen that was on hers.

'I'm on conference call with Dr. Lurkin.' Wade said. 'He's got some info you'll want to hear.'

Kim blinked. 'Dr. Lurkin?' she said. 'Wasn't he....?'

Wade nodded. 'Gill's doctor.'

Kim had a sudden sinking in her stomach. 'Let me guess - his therapy isn't going well?'

Wade smiled faintly. 'You could say that.' Then there was a blip, and Dr. Lurkin's face replaced Wade's.

'Miss Possible!' he said his voice sounding both friendly and apologetic. 'I'm glad you agreed to speak with me on such short notice.'

'It's no big.' said Kim. Then warily she asked the question foremost in her mind. 'Gill's escaped, hasn't he?'

Lurkin looked very uncomfortable. 'Ah - I'm afraid so.' he answered. 'It's very distressing. I was so sure this time he was getting back to normal....'

Kim sighed. She wasn't sure what Dr. Lurkin's credentials were, but he had been snookered by Gill's 'reformations' twice now. Then again, she thought, he hadn't been mutated by Gill, or been part of his vengeful rampages. Dr. Lurkin was still talking, going on about the details of Gill's therapy when Grimm broke in, sounding impatient.

'Bottom line it, doc.' he said. 'How long has he been gone?'

Lurkin looked at Grimm questioningly. 'Who are you?' he said. 'You don't look like that Ron fellow Gil kept raving about.'

'I'm from the temp agency.' said Grimm. 'Now answer the question.'

'I'm not sure.' said Dr. Lurkin, fidgeting in his chair.

'How can you not be sure?' Grimm said sharply. 'He was either in his fish bowl or he wasn't.'

Dr. Lurkin bit his lip. 'Well - his mutation took a strange course. We had him on a round of anti-mutagens that we had pumped into his tank. But at some point when we began the treatment, he must have made his escape.'

'And no one noticed he was gone?'

Dr. Lurkin looked embarrassed. 'Well, you must understand - Gil would often go for long periods of time without saying anything - pretending that we weren't there. It's not uncommon among boys his age - they feel ignoring authority figures is some kind of rebellious victory....'

Grimm was glaring at him and rotating one finger while pointing at his watch, and Lurkin hurried on. 'Well - he shed.'

'Say what?' said Monique. But Grimm looked quietly impressed.

Dr. Lurkin nodded. 'Back at your cheer contest at Camp GottaGrin, when he jumped into that toxic pool, he mutated into a much larger, more muscular version of his previous mutation...'

'Don't remind me.' said Kim.

'I'm certain that the anti-mutagens we used triggered a reversal of his larger mutation, reverting him to his first level of mutation.' Lurkin said, seeming concerned that they might not be following him. 'But in reverting to his smaller form, he.... left the larger version behind in the tank.'

'Like a snake shedding it's skin.' Grimm muttered. 'Very clever. So you spent a number of days trying to have therapy sessions with an empty shell when the real Gill was long gone.'

Dr. Lurkin's cheeks reddened. 'The... remains were very life-like.' he said.

'Gorchy!' said Monique.

'So where is he now?' said Kim, though she was reasonably sure what he would say next.

'I'm afraid I have no idea.' he said.

'Did he say anything during his therapy that might give us a clue?'

Lurkin shrugged. 'In most of our sessions, he kept saying he was going to get even with the 'squeeb' somehow. Almost all of his talk revolved around that in some way.'

Kim glared. 'So he wants to go after Ron?' she felt her protective blood boiling at the thought.

Grimm actually laughed, and Kim gave him a furious stare before he stopped. 'Sorry.' he said. 'But if Gill broke out so he could get to your BF, he's in for a major letdown.' and Kim winced. For a brief instant, she had forgotten Ron was still missing and was therefore safe from whatever Gill was cooking up.

Dr. Lurkin had a concerned look on his face. 'If you can find him and persuade him to return to the institute, you'd be doing a great service.' he said. 'The police have been alerted of course, but your insight could be invaluable.'

Grimm started speaking. 'How much would you pay.....' But Kim cut him off.

'You can count on us!' she said, glaring darkly at Grimm.

'And please be careful with him!' said Lurkin. 'He's a kind, gentle boy - but if he feels threatened he might do something desperate.'

Grimm was out of sight on Kim's screen and so Lurkin didn't hear his derisive snort. But Kim nodded. 'We'll notify you once we've got him safe!' she said, then cut the transmission and brought Wade back up. 'Any ideas Wade?' she said. 'Where would he go first?'

Wade's eyes were creased as he typed. 'Well, the first thing he did when he went mutant last time was to go to the toxic pool at Wannaweep and increase his mutation.' Wade said. 'We should try there first to see if he's done that again.'

'If he has, he's been and gone for days.' said Grimm. 'Whatever plan he started off with, it's too late to stop. The only thing we can do if we go to Wannaweep is confirm whether or not Gill actually went there.'

Kim looked at him. He was crisp and focused, and not at all like Ron. Ron was all jokes, wild presumptions or repressed panic. Kim wasn't accustomed to having someone in the loop bringing up pointed criticism that made sense. But she shook her head, reminding herself that she trusted Wade a lot more than Grimm. 'We can still pick up his trail, and that's a start.'

'It's a waste of time, but this is your game.' Grimm said. 'Play it any way you like.'

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Soon they were speeding down the road in the Sloth, heading towards Wannaweep. Monique was riding shotgun, while Grimm lounged in the backseat, scratching Rueful behind his ears. Kim was tempted to use the Sloth's jump jets to shorten the journey and get it over with quicker, but she didn't like burning that much fuel unless she had to.

When Grimm was being quiet was when she liked him best - or rather when she disliked him the least. And he was quiet for most of the trip until they were getting close to the camp, and then he piped up again.

'Gill may not know Ron is missing yet.' he said darkly. 'That could make him even more dangerous since he'd be working towards an end game that's totally pointless. How many times did you say that Ron put Gil away?'

'Twice.' said Kim.

Grimm looked into his communicator screen. 'Jade - have you still got the details on both of those cases?'

'You know it, G-man!' she chirped. 'Forwarding the info now...'

Wade's voice suddenly beeped from Grimm's communicator. 'How did you guys get our mission files?'

'Oh please.' said Jade, and the sneer in her voice was plain to hear. 'You guys are so braggy about your missions, you may as well have pinned the details on a corkboard at the National Requestor.'

'At least we don't need to worry about the cops hauling us off because of our work!' Wade retorted.

'At least we aren't dumb enough to post our intel where any loser can find it!' Jade shot back.

'Losers like you?' Wade countered.

'Shhh!' Grimm hissed. 'Trying to read here!'

Wade and Jade growled simultaneously before the communicators beeped off. The drive was silent for a few more minutes. Monique turned to Kim and with a series of expressions and facial twitches, she sent a silent message to Kim.

'You sure it's a good idea to bring him along?' she gestured.

'No.' Kim said with a shrug and a roll of her eyes. 'But he won't go away!'

'I thought he had his own ride.' Monique signed, jerking her head towards him and miming the use of a steering wheel.

Kim shrugged again, bit her lip and moved her eyes back and forth.

'Whuh?' Monique mouthed, spreading out her hands.

Kim repeated the gesture, a bit more firmly. Monique shook her head, signing a question mark.

'She said, He didn't think it was necessary!' Grimm snapped, making both of them jump in their seats. 'Now knock it off so I can concentrate!'

Monique paused, glancing back towards Grimm, but he was still staring intently at his communicator screen, reading. She looked back to Kim, then with a small nod and a smirk, she said, 'He's good.'

Kim sighed and turned her full attention back to the road. But it wasn't long before Grimm spoke again. 'Wow.' he said. 'You used up all the hot water and unplugged Bonnie's alarm clock? I thought you only went evil that time you played me and Rhonda. And all for a plastic stick - nice, Possible. Who knew you had it in you?' He looked firmly into Monique's eyes, jerked his head at Kim and narrowed his eyes shiftily in a look that said, 'She's evil.'

'That wasn't evil, that was rivalry!' Kim said.

'You're the one who said you didn't like my tactics when I got Bonnie to lay off on you.' said Grimm. 'Maybe you should have said you didn't like anyone else using your tactics.'

'Get real Probable, there was a world of difference.'

'I guess.' said Grimm, sounding smug. 'I was actually a lot less vicious than you were.' Kim was gritting her teeth, but Grimm seemed to catch that he's pressed the point too far and changed the subject. 'Anyway, there's not much more intel on Gill than what we had. He's just a kid who's got a thing for swimming around in toxic sludge and not a penny to his name.'

Kim glared into the rear-view mirror. 'Why not use your villain-ly influence and get him to turn himself in?' she said.

'Maybe I could if I'd had any direct dealings with him.' said Grimm. 'But what did I just say? Not a penny to his name. He never contacted me with any offers, otherwise he might have done better.'

Kim felt herself gripping the steering wheel even tighter. 'You'd have helped him if he'd paid you?' she said.

Grimm sneered. 'Gill?' he said, and his voice was disdainful. 'That's giving him a lot of credit. A loser like him couldn't even pay attention.' Kim blinked in surprised to hear Grimm talk like that about one of his potential 'clients'. But Grimm was still talking. 'He's got mutant powers and delusions of grandeur, but his life's ambitions are focused on only two things. One - bullying Ron. And two - having his own mutant 'gang'. It's stupid, but it should make predicting his moves easier - all we have to do is determine what he'd try to carry out either of those options.'

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The blackness of the fully fallen night gave Camp Wannaweep an eerie, otherworldly quality that Kim had now come to expect. During daylight, the trees and the surrounding green hills were friendly looking and beautiful, but at night they took on a sinister appearance. Maybe it was simply Kim's past run-ins with Gill that made her suspicious of the thick pine woods and the shadowed cabins, but there was no denying the place looked more foreboding at night.

The Sloth came to a stop in a large clearing near the entrance of Wannaweep. The familiar wooden sign was still there, and "Camp Gottagrin" was nailed back in place, concealing the word "Wannaweep" from sight.

Kim and Monique got out of the Sloth. Kim had to admit, the new mission clothes looked good on Monique as well. Rufus was shivering in her hip pouch. 'Mmm hmm - bad road!' he squeaked, pulling the flap closed.

'I'm heading for the grotto where the toxic pool was last time Wade.' she said. 'I'll keep the scan running.'

'Got it!' said Wade.

'Monique, keep your eyes peeled.' she said. 'If you see anything green and slimy jump out, or spit anything at us, then duck and holler.'

'Got it.' she said, but with much less forcefulness than Wade.

'How about me?' said Grimm.

Kim sighed. 'Just stay out of the way.' she said. Grimm sniffed and stepped back a few feet.

They progressed through the camp and Kim glanced aside at cabin 13. She could almost see Ron on his knees at the cabin door with his hands raised towards the sky, almost hear his voice sounding next to her in a shrill scream. 'How does this place keep pulling me back in? Oh man....!'

She wanted to laugh because the image was so real and intense, but the happiness never rose further than from the core of her heart. For it was just an image - a shadow, with no more substance than the air around her.

'Kim?' Monique's spoke softly. 'Are you OK?'

'Yeah.' she said quickly, and so firmly it sounded curt. 'I was just... never mind.'

All the way to the grotto, Kim kept glancing from side to side, sweeping her Kimmunicator back and forth. Monique stayed close behind Kim. Grimm remained further back, but was aiming his communicator the other direction, as if scanning where they had been instead of where they were going. At last they reached the grotto, and the first thing that Kim noticed was what was missing. Namely, there were no barrels with biohazard labels on them poking up out of the water. There was no green glow and no luminous fumes. In fact, the grotto was totally dark and only the LCD light from her Kimmunicator allowed her to see anything at all.

Her light swept across the surface of the grotto pool. In the dark, the water seemed black instead of looking green and slimy, but where her light shone she saw occasional patches of blue. In the shallows, she could see smooth round pebbles at the bottom.

At last she spoke again, and her voice seemed to echo slightly in the stillness. 'How about it Wade?' she said.

Wade shook his head. 'Gill's in for another letdown.' he said. 'I've scanned the surrounding areas and gone over some news reports. After what happened at the cheer competition, there was some pretty heavy backlash against the science camp. People blamed the camp owners for hiding all the toxic sludge in one grotto without telling anyone. After that, a federal hazmat team was sent in to make sure the waste was cleaned up and the whole area was sanitized.'

'So Wannaweep...' Kim said quietly.

'Is totally clean.' said Wade. 'Ron would be skeptical I'm sure, but I've conducted several short and long-range scans. There's no trace of any toxic residue for miles around, above ground or below.'

Kim nodded. 'So he won't be able to 'bulk up' here anymore.' she said. 'Whatever level of mutation he's at now, he's stuck.'

'Give thanks for small favors.' said Wade.

'Ahem.' Jade's image popped onto the Kimmunicator screen, splitting it evenly between Wade and Jade. 'Need I remind you that your notes say Gill can produce his own mutagenic sludge?'

'So... this Gill guy didn't have any reason to come here?' said Monique, sounding relieved.

'That's not to say he didn't.' said Grimm. Kim turned and saw the beam from his communicator light shining on a patch of ground at his feet where he stood a short distance away. He had quietly moved away from them and gone towards an incline that formed a low, sloping ravine from the higher ground above into the waters of the grotto.

As she looked down where the light was shining, she saw the distorted marks of bipedal footprints. But the prints had only three toes, each toe ending in a pointed claw. The tracks led in and out of the pool. Kim was no tracker, but even she could see that the prints were several days old - dried out in places further from the water, but smoother and spread out by the shore. 'We were right - he was here.' Kim said, and she felt Rufus shivering in her hip pouch.

They trudged up the slope, following the prints until they vanished into the harder ground. 'Can you trail him, Wade?' Kim said. 'If he's still as oozey as he was the first time, he must be leaving a toxic trail that lights up like the Fourth of July.'

Wade was grimacing as he answered. 'If the tracks were fresh, maybe.' he said. 'But these are nearly two weeks old. I'm not getting any trail I can lock onto.'

Kim sighed and stared at the pillared walls of the surrounding trees and the darkness between their trunks. Only rustling and the sound of crickets and frogs came to her. It would have been simpler if Gill jumped out and attacked. Nice and normal - a takedown just like any other.

Grimm was looking out into the night as well. He was looking at his communicator, but for the most part his eye was on Rueful, who had his head poking out of Grimm's pack and sniffing. The weasel trilled and shook his head, and Grimm looked disappointed. 'Maze's not here.' he said bitterly. 'Monkey Fist's a no-show too it looks like. There's no sense wasting any more time here - let's go.'

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They were speeding back towards Middleton within a few minutes. Monique sighed and tapped her foot. 'So... that it for the night?' she said hopefully.

'As if.' said Kim with a smile on her face. 'This is just a setback.'

Monique shook her head. 'But if he wasn't at Wannaweep, and if Wade can't track him...'

'Then we try and deduce his next move.' said Grimm from the back seat. 'With a one-track mind like his, it shouldn't take long.' He nodded towards Kim without looking at her. 'You and Gill have such a storied history, Possible - what would he shout manically to the heavens once he escaped from the institute?'

Kim hadn't thought of it that way, but as clear as her vision of Ron had been, she could see Gill emerging from a sewer pipe or something and shaking his clawed fists at the sky. 'I'm coming to get you squeeb! You haven't heard the last of Gill!' 'I think you were right.' Kim said, and she couldn't keep the resentment out of her voice. 'The first thing he'd do is go after Ron.'

Grimm nodded. 'Then I suggest our next stop should be my home away from home.'

Before long, they had parked the Sloth outside of Ron's house and were trooping around the yard with their scanners out. 'Uh, should we tell his folks?' said Monique, feeling awkward walking around in Ron's yard.

Kim looked almost mischievous. 'This is my way of telling them.' she said quietly.

'Hold it!' said Jade's voice from Grimm's communicator. 'That patch of ground under the window near the living room - sweep it.'

Kim got there first, and it didn't take Wade long to finish. 'Got it.' he said. 'The traces are faint, but they haven't decayed fully. He was here all right.'

Kim felt a shiver. Gill had probably crouched there, staring through the window, maybe looking right at Ron's parents or at Hana, waiting for Ron to appear so he could burst in and attack. Except Ron was trapped in the spirit world. He hadn't shown up. And Gill had left empty-handed without his revenge.

Grimm seemed to have been thinking along the same lines. 'Time to start chillin' like a villain.' he said to Kim. 'If it were one of my clients looking for payback, and the target wasn't where he expected him to be, there are a few ways it would normally play out.'

'You're the merc.' Kim grumbled. 'Tell us.'

Grimm smiled and shook his head. 'Let's see if you've been paying attention.' he said. 'What did I say at Club Banana just a few hours ago about my clients and their ideas?'

'You said they were all dumb, and all destined to fail.' she said, glaring. 'And that it guaranteed you a steady supply of money.'

Grimm nodded, still smiling. 'And....?' he said, sounding like a school teacher who was only given part of an answer he expected.

Kim thought back, trying to remember. 'You said it wouldn't matter if you told them their ideas wouldn't work. They're all too proud to admit it.'

Grimm's smile became more eager. 'So - if Gill's plan to 'get Ron' failed when he came here looking for him.....?'

Kim picked up on it much more quickly. 'He wouldn't believe it.' she said, a distant gleam in her eyes. 'He'd think we were onto him - that we'd hidden Ron, or set a trap for him.'

Grimm twitched his fingers at her expectantly. 'Which means....?'

Kim's eyes sharpened. 'He'll try to find a way to lure Ron out in the open - like he did at the cheer camp!'

Grimm folded his arms, smirking. 'Not bad, Possible. I'll make a merc out of you yet.'

Kim glared at him. 'Quit acting like this is some kind of victory for you.' she said. 'How do you know you're not starting to think like me?'

Grimm chuckled. 'Find a way to turn it back on them.' he said. 'Common ground again.' Kim growled, but Grimm was looking back down at the patch of earth Wade had scanned. 'He was beat twice in direct fights with Ron, so he may try to get to him by doing something more underhanded, like going after something he values - or someone.'

Kim stared at him. 'You think he broke out to come after me? If he was right here, why didn't he try for Ron's parents - or Hana?'

Grimm cocked his neck. 'Just a guess.' he said. 'But he captured you... twice - so he may figure he could lure Ron out by turning you into a mutant.'

Kim shuddered. 'So not gonna happen.' she said. 'We're going to take him down long before then.'

But Grimm still had a faraway look in his eye. 'Lurkin said he began Gil's reversal treatment about two weeks ago - that would be near the time when Ron and Rhonda disappeared. And Lurkin didn't notice that Gill was gone until last night. He went to Wannaweep first, probably on foot, which would account for the first few days. That would have given him at least one clear week to come after you - if that was his plan.'

They had all gone to the curb of the sidewalk and sat down as they talked. 'Then why didn't he?' said Kim, talking more to herself than anyone else. 'If he was at Ron's, then my house wasn’t far away. Why didn't he come after me?'

'He might have.' said Grimm, also looking thoughtful.

Monique almost chuckled. Kim and Grimm looked like bookends, sitting with their knuckles pressed against their chins in exactly the same posture, with almost identical expressions.

'Except I've been out a lot lately, trying to find Ron.' Kim said. 'Japan, and England.... I haven't been at home as much lately. He might have gotten tired of waiting.'

'So his first raison d'etre to 'get Ron' was a bust.' Grimm muttered. 'But there's still the second - starting his own gang.'

'How's he gonna do that?' said Monique. She felt like she was intruding her opinion on their musings, but she wanted to be useful, even if it was nothing more than participating. 'Put up posters of his face that say I want you - to be a mutant?'

'Actually I've got a lead on that.' said Jade, her voice piping through Grimm's communicator. 'Just in case you forgot I'm here. I've been going through your local news reports.' said Jade. 'Want to see what I found?'

'Let's see it Jade, quit workin' it.' said Grimm.

Jade stuck her tongue out at Wade, then her side of the screen blipped out, replaced by a video of a blonde-haired woman sitting behind a desk.

'Good Evening. I'm Summer Breeze, KMID News. A rash of bizarre sicknesses has struck Middleton. At least a dozen people have checked into the hospital, displaying a highly unusual skin rash.'

The video showed a number of people resting in hospital beds, looking nervous. Kim bent her head closer, and saw the skin of each person was a pale green, and their skin showed patches of scaly protrusions here and there.

'Doctors have so far been unable to determine the source of this strange malady.' said Summer's voice. Victims have complained of shortness of breath and sensitivity to bright light, leading some to suggest they are suffering from a new form of erythropoietic porphyria, also known as Gunther's disease. Though this does not explain the greenish tint.....'

'Shut it off.' said Kim. 'It's Gill.'

'A rash of mutations in your own hometown and you didn't notice?' said Grimm, sounding smug.

'Well let's see...' said Kim hotly, 'I've found myself slightly distracted the last week or so because someone banished my BF to another dimension!'

'But how has he been mutating these people without them noticing?' Monique said.

Kim thought. 'All the times he mutated people in the past, he did it by trapping them in his goo. It affected people by being absorbed through the skin.'

'These guys aren't fully mutated.' said Grimm, looking at his own communicator. 'So whatever he's trying now isn't his normal method.'

'There haven't been any reports of attacks or abductions.' Kim said, shaking her head. 'He's using his slime on people in a way that can't be seen or noticed.'

'I think people would notice a big, drippy mutant spitting ooze on them!' said Monique. 'How can somebody ooze somebody else up and keep it secret?'

'I've got it.' said Grimm, smiling sidelong at Kim. 'Think sneaky.'

Kim had a distant look in her eyes again. 'He's not oozing people up.' she said quietly. 'He's getting people to breathe it... or eat it....' Then she paused and clenched her fist. 'Or drink it!' she said. 'He's been putting it in the city's drinking water!'

'Close, but not quite.' said Grimm. 'Even at his most concentrated, he couldn't produce enough mutagen to do the job. The city's water would dilute it too much, and if it was working, the cases would be more widespread. He'll have found a way to get people to drink it in a more concentrated form.'

'How do you get someone to willingly drink mutant ooze?' said Kim.

'Advertise on television?' said Monique.

Grimm's eyes gleamed. 'Exactly.' he said.

Monique felt her jaw drop. 'I was joking.' she said.

'But in this case the theory's sound.' Grimm said. He held out his communicator. 'Jade - I need you to cross-reference the mutation cases in Middleton with any new products or ad campaigns that have taken place.'

Kim had her Kimmunicator running at the same time. 'Wade - you get that?' she said.

'Working.' he said.

After a few seconds, Wade and Jade's voices sounded out with information, each speaking as if they were trying to outshine the other.

'The hospitals started reporting cases about a week ago....' said Wade.
'There have been about ten product launches in Middleton within a week of that starting point....' said Jade hurriedly.
'...with corresponding commercials and media blitzes...' Wade broke in.
'Two were for brands of bath soap...' Jade said.
'One was for... uh, feminine hygiene....' Wade said, blushing.
'One new restaurant and two new food lines for other restaurants...'
'One pizza place and one at Bueno Nacho...'
'One breakfast cereal...'
'A new soft drink....'
'A new flavor of potato chip....'

'Profile the soft drink.' Kim and Grimm said at exactly the same time, and then glaring at each other.

'It's called Eco-La.' said Wade. 'It brands itself as the only environmentally friendly, purely organic cola on the market that has no carbon footprint.'

'Sounds disgustingly PC.' muttered Grimm. 'Possible would have loved it.'

'Would not!' said Kim angrily.

'I'll have the commercial up in...' Wade said, but Jade broke in.

'Too slow, Wadey.' she said. 'Fix your peepers on the screen guys, you're gonna love this.'

The communicators brought up a group of hip young people at what looked like a beach party, playing volleyball and laughing it up until one of them went to a cooler and fished out a can of soft drink, opened it and began drinking while a deep, soothing voice spoke off camera.

'Are you looking for a guilt-free, environmentally friendly way to quench your thirst? Then try all-new... Eco-La!'

CGI trees began sprouting up around the partying youths, and they were joined by frolicking deer and bunny rabbits. Kim heard Grimm groaning and saw him covering his eyes, his head shaking back and forth. The announcer was still speaking.

'Every drop of Eco-La is made with the finest all-natural organic ingredients, and lovingly sealed in recycled aluminum cans by registered Vegans who ensure that each case is manufactured with zero carbon emissions! A portion of each sale will be donated towards planting trees and ensuring a greener earth!'

Grimm was looking steadily more skeptical with each passing second. 'Oh please.' he sneered.

'Shhh!' Kim hissed.

'So if you really care about about going green, then buy refreshing Eco-La! Because if you don't - it means you support global warming.'

The screen blacked out for a moment, then a man in a dark gray suit and a green tie appeared. He was middle-aged and looked slightly porky, with graying hair and a rather toothy grin. He held up a can of Eco-La, and in a rather flat voice he said, 'I'm Hal Moore, and I approve of this cola!'

A rather airy fanfare played as the screen faded to black, with simple white text popping up that read, 'Do it for the children - you don't hate children - do you?'

'Gag me!' said Grimm looking angry. 'What kind of pathetic sponge would fall for that load of malarky?'

Monique cleared her throat. 'Excuse me Mr. Bad Boy! I got some last week!'

'How is it?' said Kim.

Monique shrugged. 'It's... OK.' she said. 'Not great, but OK.' But Grimm had stepped forward, seized Monique's wrist and forced her finger into a port on the side of his communicator. There was a sudden hiss and Monique yelped. She struggled, but Grimm held her still for a second before releasing her. By this time Kim had pushed Grimm back as well, though Grimm kept his balance and turned away, typing quickly on his keypad.

'What... is... wrong wit' you?' Monique sputtered, holding her hand and looking at her finger. 'He pricked me!' she shouted to Kim. 'Oh that is it - Kim, you go kung-fu on his sorry butt!!'

'Chill!' Grimm said. 'I was just collecting a blood sample.' He turned to the screen. 'Jade - how about it?' he said, paying no further attention to Monique.

    ecola

After a few seconds pause, Jade's voice came back. 'It's a cert, G-man.' she said. 'There's traces of Gill's mutagen secretions in her blood stream.'

Monique's jaw fell open. 'Say what?' she yelled.

'How much of that stuff did you drink?' Grimm said sharply.

Monique looked pale. 'Just the one can.' she said. 'It didn't taste stellar, so...'

'How long ago?' Grimm said, his voice louder.

'A few days, I don't remember!' Monique said. 'It's still in the fridge at home.'

'Let's move.' said Grimm, starting back towards the Sloth. Neither Kim nor Monique moved to follow him. He looked back at them, his eyes piercing. 'Come on people - the sooner we find out if your BFF is about to grow gills, the better!'

Monique had played host to Kim lots of times over the course of their friendship. But she couldn't recall ever having Kim at her house in full mission mode. It felt strange to her, seeing her best friend all 'professional', but when Kim and Grimm strode into her kitchen a short while later, they did so with rivalrous purpose.

Grimm went to the fridge at once, and fished out a six-pack of Eco-La with one can missing from the plastic holding rings. Within minutes, they were both seated at her kitchen table with one glass full of the cola between them. They had eyedroppers out and were brushing samples from the glass over various sensors on their communicators. Scanning beams flashed out periodically.

Wade spoke up first, sounding pleased that he'd beaten Jade to the punch. 'Got it Kim.' he said. 'No doubt about it. Ninety percent normal cola, ten percent Gill.'

Jade broke in, sounding miffed. 'Specifically it contains sodium, H20, potassium benzoate...'

'Minutiae not necessary on the cola.' Grimm said, interrupting. 'Just the basics. You said there are chemicals that reverse the mutations caused by this stuff?'

'You know it.' said Wade. 'Turned Ron from beaver-boy back to normal in like five seconds.'

'We'll need some.' said Kim. 'Probably a lot, depending on how many people have bought this stuff. We'll need the hospitals alerted and the victims treated. Full media public alert if you can get it. Give the hospitals any information Lurkin had on when he first treated Gil's mutation. If they think it's Gunther's Disease, they need to be set straight.'

'I'm on the case.' said Wade.

'Any chance we can use it to normalize Gill just as fast?' Grimm said.

'Not according to Wade's info.' said Jade. 'As far as that can be trusted. Gill's mutation is a little more solid than the mutations he creates second-hand with his goo. We won't be able to douse him and turn him back instantly. He'll need Lurkin's intensive therapy.'

'But Ron swam in the Wannaweep grotto, and he was turned back instantly...' Grimm said, frowning.

'Ron was easy to fix because his mutation was new.' Jade answered. 'Gill is coming off from direct exposure in the grotto, combined with years of gradual mutation from his swimming in the lake when he was a kid. It's probably why he likes being a mutant better - he's been building up to it for years.'

'In any case,' said Wade, interjecting, 'It's obvious that Gill is the mastermind behind Eco-La.'

'Calling him a 'mastermind' is being a little generous.' Grimm muttered. 'But I give him props for using eco-hysteria to trick people into drinking his ooze. Drink it or you support global warming? Talk about overplaying his hand....'

Monique stepped forward. 'Pardon me for being a little new on this Gill guy.' she said impatiently. 'But you say he can make some kind of slime that mutates people?'

'Oooooh yeah.' said Kim, shivering at a series of vivid memories.

'And how exactly does he make this stuff?' she said.

'He...... expectorates it.' said Wade, sounding very uncomfortable.

Monique made the 'time out' sign. 'Wait a second!' she said. 'Are you telling me that this Gill is selling cans of his own....?'

Kim, Grimm, Wade and Jade nodded silently.

Monique's mouth fell open. 'And people have been....?' she said, but faltered, unable to finish. Again, everyone nodded.

Monique's face paled, and she looked like she was turning green herself. 'Ewwwww!' she said, hunching over the nearest chair. 'Oh.... gross!!' Kim hastened to her side and put a hand on her shoulder.

'Slow deep breaths!' she said. 'Easy....'

Grimm smirked. 'Well, at least he's not selling his goo straight.' said Grimm. 'If it tasted awful, or if it was unsanitary, no one would buy it. Looks like they diluted it with just enough sugar and water to mask any... swamp-like flavor without counteracting the mutagenic properties....'

'Aaauuuuuggghhhhh.....!' Monique said, panting hard.

'It may actually be refreshing when chilled - probably slides down the throat slicker than snot....' Grimm said, smiling even more broadly. Monique waved at him sharply and Kim rounded on him.

'Shut up!' she said. 'How about little compassion here for the victim?'

'Good news.' said Wade. 'I've gone over the data from Monique's blood sample. Looks like the mutagen hasn't reached a high enough level to actually do anything.'

'Oh well that's just great!' Monique said, looking up at the ceiling and slapping her knees. 'I'm only slightly freaky!'

'It looks like a person has to drink a few cans to build up enough in the blood stream for the mutations to kick in.' said Jade. 'Good thing your pal was only guilted by their ads into choking down one can.'

'Clever again.' said Grimm. 'If the stuff showed it's badness right away, people would have gotten suspicious, but he dialed it back just enough so it happens gradually. Looks like your Gill stepped up a bit.'

'A lot of my enemies seem to be doing that lately.' Kim grumbled. It did seem like all her major villains were stepping up and concocting more clever plans, from Adrena Lynn to Gill.

'Hello?' said Monique sounding angry. 'Girl in distress here! What's gonna happen to me? Am I mutant time bomb waitin' to go off?'

'Don't worry.' said Wade hastily. 'You'll be all right - your body will work it out of your system naturally.'

'I want a pill - I want a CAT scan - I want this stuff out of me!' Monique said, swatting at her arms and shoulders as if spiders were crawling on her.

'Get a grip - if you were going to mutate, it would have started already.' Grimm said.

'What I don't understand is how Gill got Hal Moore to endorse it.' said Kim. 'He's like the king of enviro-activism, he wouldn't pair up with a criminal!'

'Never stopped him before.' Grimm muttered. 'Maybe he still thinks he's under 'no controlling legal authority' - and people call me a villain.'

'Whatever.' said Kim. 'It's time for the Kim Possible health inspectors to shut down his operation!'

'Ugh.' said Grimm softly. 'Terrible. Well If I know your normal methods, the next step involves going to the lair and breaking stuff, right?'

Kim couldn't help smiling faintly. 'Pretty much, yeah.' she said.

'And how are we gonna find him?' said Monique, still shivering.

Grimm didn't speak. He simply picked up the can and began tapping it, his finger hitting the area below the ingredients which named the factory. 'Yep - and they're right here in Middleton.' said Wade. 'The Green Industries Limited Liability Corporation.'

Kim shook her head and poured the rest of the glass of Eco-La into the kitchen garbage disposal. 'GillCo.' she said. 'That's a little too obvious.'

'That’s to be expected.' said Grimm. 'Remember he probably set all this up just to lure you in. So go in expecting him to be expecting you.'

Monique raised an eyebrow. 'Say 'expecting' much?' she said.

'Cliché much?' Grimm shot back without hesitation.

Monique looked like she was about to respond, so Kim spoke quickly. 'Wade - we're going in.' she said. Then, remembering what Ron had done at Russ Cueler's mansion, she added, 'If you can get us floor plans to the factory while we're driving, that could help.'

'I'll have them before you get to the car.' said Wade proudly.

'Give me a couple minutes.' said Grimm, standing up and moving towards the door. 'I'm going in separate on the bike.'

Kim was surprised. 'Why?' she said suspiciously. 'I thought you were sticking with me until Monkey Fist shows up.'

'I am.' Grimm said, shouldering his bag. 'I just don't want them to see me coming. No offense Possible, but I'm sneakier than you.'

Kim felt nettled. 'I'm not waiting for you!' she said.

'Fine, I've got the address.' said Grimm, holding up his communicator. 'I'll meet up with you in transit.' Then he left and closed the door behind him.

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Monique felt queasy. Kim was driving fast, and not being overly gentle in how she took turns. 'You still look a little green.' said Kim. 'You're sure you don't feel mutant-ey?'

'Just motion sickness.' she said. 'Seriously - how do you and Ron handle bustling around like this all the time?'

'You get used to it I guess.' said Kim. 'I never really thought about it much - Ron was with me from day one, so I guess we just hit our stride at the same time. ETA me, Wade.'

'Factory's near the edge of town.' said Wade.

'They always are.' Kim muttered.

'You'll be there in less than ten.' he went on. 'Enjoy the floor plans?'

'I didn't see anything that screamed 'mutant lair'.' Kim said. 'It just seemed like a regular factory-slash-bottling plant.'

'It used to be the base of operations for Whapple sodas.' Wade said. 'Until the fad wore out a few years back. It was only recently put back into operation by GillCo.'

Kim looked from side to side as they flashed down the streets through the city night. 'So where's Grimm?' she said. 'Not that I care he's gone, I just want to be sure he hasn't already bailed and joined up with Gill.'

'Oh ye of little brain.' Grimm's voice came through the speakers, sounding a bit muffled. Then a dark purple motorcycle zipped in out of nowhere alongside them. A lone figure sat astride the bike with a red helmet and a reflective visor that covered his face. But the mission clothes left little doubt as to who it was.

eagle and the sloth

'About time.' Kim growled. 'If you're going in with us, you'll need to know the plan....'

'Don't bother.' Grimm interrupted. 'You and your official sidekick handle it any way you like. I already told you I'm going in separate and incognito.'

Kim had a sudden brainstorm. 'You don't want Gill or anyone else to see you helping us.' she said angrily. 'You don't want to damage any future business prospects - you don't care about stopping him at all!'

'I admit it.' Grimm's voice came back. 'It wouldn't be good if the super villain community got wind that I was helping Kim Possible. But I'm pretty sure I could spin it by saying 'Wouldn't you rather have me on your side?' But if Maze turns up by any chance, I don't want them knowing I'm there until it's too late.'

'So where are you gonna be?' said Monique. 'Hiding in the ladies room?'

'I'll pitch in if things get dicey.' Grimm sniffed. 'I just didn't think the famous Kim Possible would need any help. I'll see you at GillCo, but don't be surprised if you can't see me.'

Monique watched as two wings folded out from nacelles on the sides of the Ksikkihkíni. It rose up into the air almost silently, ghosted along next to the Sloth for a second and then shot off to the side, vanishing into the darkness. 'Ok,' she said to Kim. 'I know he's evil - but I want one of those.'

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Kim pulled the Sloth to a stop by the curb. They were in an industrial part of town, with several large buildings spaced very far apart with wide lots between them. Among them was the GillCo factory. The complex was surrounded by a chain link fence that extended up nearly twelve feet. The fence enclosed a vast parking lot, as well as the factory proper. The factory itself didn't seem as large as the lot. It was a compartmentalized building with one section that seemed devoted to office space, another section that seemed geared towards production, and several large silos that looked like storage tanks. She had parked at one of the darker corners outside the fence.

The dark night gave the place a stark appearance with the yellow lamp posts casting cones of light here and there amid the surrounding blackness. Monique was getting out and standing beside her, looking up at the fence and the spiky protrusions along the top. 'I'm gonna tear my flares on that thing....' she was saying, shaking her head. 'Can't we just... use the main entrance?'

'They're locked up for the night.' said Kim. 'The main gate's closed, and besides, it's never a good idea to let the bad guys know you're coming. This area is a blind spot which their security cameras don't cover.' She paused, climbing up onto the rear trunk of the Sloth, then held out her hand to Monique. 'Come on!' she said.

Monique climbed up too. 'Uh.... there's still another six feet of fence.' she said. 'And no higher ground for the grapple line to latch onto. How are we getting in?'

Kim was looking at her Kimmunicator screen. 'Trunk door still spring-loaded?' she said.

Wade nodded. 'Jump in five... four....'

Kim checked her hip pouch. 'You ready to Ron up, Rufus?' she said. Rufus flashed his long front teeth in a smile and gave her the thumbs up.

'...three... two...'

'Wait - what's spring-loaded?' Monique said.

'one!'

The trunk sprang open with such force that it catapulted Kim and Monique up at least ten feet. They cleared the fence easily, though Monique was flailing and squealing as she fell. Kim helped keep her steady and they landed firmly, though Monique wheezed at the impact.

'No... wonder Ron screams all the time!' she said. 'Girl, you need to give more warning before you do stuff like that!'

'What - you had five seconds.' said Kim, smiling. 'Let's move!'

And Monique followed Kim as she darted from dark patch to dark patch, crouching and skittering through the parking lot cautiously, listening for Wade's occasional warnings about areas that had cameras trained on them and avoiding them until at last they reached the high wall of the factory.

They flattened themselves against the wall, Kim peering around the corner. Monique wasn't sure why as she could see no guards anywhere. 'We'll need a vent or a window to sneak in.' Kim whispered.

From her Kimmunicator, Grimm's voice came out in a low mutter. 'Ten feet to your left, seven feet up.'

Kim looked peeved, but went to where Grimm had said. Monique saw a black square against the dark gray of the concrete wall, and looking down at the ground, she saw a metal panel which was the grate meant to cover the open vent above them. As Kim climbed up into the vent and pulled Monique up after her, she saw a clear stripe through the dust which indicated Grimm had already been through.

'I'm heading to the north side, you take the south.' Grimm's voice said softly through her Kimmunicator.

'What - is he giving the orders now?' Monique whispered, and her voice sounded hollow and echoing in the confines of the vent.

'No, he just wants us to feel that way.' Kim said. 'He knew I'd gone over the floor plans and that the heart of the factory is on the south side. I was going there anyway.'

Monique said nothing else as she crawled elbow over elbow through the ductwork. Every so often Kim would stop and look back at her with her finger over her lips. 'I'm trying!' she whispered. 'I don't do this all the time like you and Ron did!'

Kim smiled indulgently and slowed the pace of her own crawling. Monique looked on jealously as Kim slithered silently ahead of her. Monique felt the thin metal of the ducts buckle under her knees or elbows with a metallic rippling sound that seemed to break the silence like a gunshot when it happened. She tried going slower herself, but she was simply unable to match Kim's silence or her speed.

All in all, Monique was glad when Kim stopped, looking from a grate. She moved aside slightly to make room for Monique, who peered through the metal slats out into a vast blackness with massive gray shapes looming out of the gloom. She could see the dim squares of large window panes off in the distance, so whatever room it led out into was very large.

Kim loosened the grate, pushed it out, caught it and pulled it silently into the ducts with a jaded ease. She threaded the hook from her Kimmunicator, latched it to the edge and lowered herself down, motioning for Monique to follow. With less enthusiasm, she eased herself out of the duct and slid down the line. She was proud of herself that she didn't slip and tumble like she had seen Ron do so many times.

Soon she was following Kim through the darkness. She stumbled on something and nearly yelped, but felt Kim's hand cover her mouth and heard her whisper.

'Shhh. Sorry - I forgot to tell you to put these on.' and Monique felt Kim helping her put on a thin pair of goggles. At once she could see clearly, though everything was tinted green. Kim stood out like a spotlight. 'Better?' she whispered.

'Yeah, thanks.' she said, looking around to get her bearings. They were standing in the middle of a huge room with several storage vats lining the walls. Some were enclosed with pipes and valves attached, and some open with machines poised above them, similar to the mixing blades that Kim remembered from her sitch with the cooking class. All the equipment was shut down.

There was one section with some kind of machinery set up along with a conveyor belt, and pallets full of folded cardboard. The room was surrounded and criss-crossed with walkways and gantries reached by metal stairs. The ceiling was high and vaulted with metal girders supporting it and the ductwork from which they had emerged.

Kim had her Kimmunicator held out and was treading softly across the concrete floor. 'Wade, are you getting this?' she whispered.

'Yeah.' Wade's voice came back, also whispering. 'It looks like an ordinary soda production and canning facility...' There was a sudden soft blipping sound from one of the computers in Wade's room. '...except I'm picking up strong readings on Gill's slime. If he's not there now, then he was there very recently.'

Kim ascended one of the stairs to the upper level and walked up to one of the storage tanks. The blipping became faster, and Kim began opening the hatch on top of the tank. There was a clanking sound that made Monique flinch since it echoed through the empty factory.

Kim looked in through the hatch, and Monique leaned over as well. She could see an eerie glow, and also the softly bubbling surface of a pool of green sludge. 'Looks like we found the source of Eco-La's get up and goo.' Kim said.

'That's it.' said Wade's voice. 'Gill. 100% pure.'

Monique felt a wave of nausea again, thinking about how she had actually drank some of what was in the tank. It looked barely a third full, but there was still at least a hundred gallons. 'How can one guy make all that?' she hissed. 'He had to have been spitting non-stop for....'

'At least a week.' said Kim darkly. 'And he can produce a lot in a short time. He did back at Wannaweep.' She looked back at the industrial mixers and the other equipment. 'Well - normally Drakken would have some kind of doomsday weapon that we could blow up and take the lair with it. I don't suppose the goo is explosive?'

'No such luck.' said Wade. 'I think media exposure is what this sitch needs.'

  the mutants

'Well,' Kim said, 'since Dibble isn't covering me anymore, maybe he'd like something else to work on....'

There was a sudden blaze of light and Monique instinctively squeezed her eyes shut, pulling off the goggles. She blinked for a moment, and heard a bubbling, shrill voice. 'Well well, so the squeebette finally shows her face! I was getting tired of staying up every night waiting for you!'

Kim turned and looked back down the railed metal walkway. A figure stood there, skinny but lithe, his skin a mottled green. He looked pretty much like she remembered from their first encounter at Wannaweep, with his frog-like head with the tuft on his skullcap. But there were some differences. A line of thick scales ran along his chest, his thighs and his upper arms, making him look even more like the creature from the Black Lagoon. His red eyes glared at them and his sharp teeth gleamed in a wide, triumphant smile. 'Gill.' she said quietly.

'Hey there Kim!' Gill croaked, but then looked at Monique and frowned. 'Who's this chick? Where's the squeeb?' he said.

'It's girls night out.' Kim said.

Gill let out a gurgling laugh. 'Right!' he said sarcastically. 'Like you go anywhere without that loser in tow! He probably got lost in the parking lot! Well I'll fix him once I've taken care of you!'

'You kickin' butt yet?' said Monique from the side of her mouth.

Kim shook her head. 'Gotta give them a fair chance first.' she said, then faced off with Gill. 'We're actually here to take care of you.' she said. 'Dr. Lurkin is waiting, we just want to take you back to him.'

Gill's laugh roared out, echoing around them. 'Why should I go back there and be lectured about being a normal member of society when I've already done it?' Gill sneered. 'Check it out, Kim. I'm a legitimate businessman now! How about a free sample of Eco-La?'

He snapped his head back, his mouth opening wide. Monique flattened herself as a powerful stream of green slime shot over her with a grating, belching sound. She felt a few drops fall onto her back and she yelped, rolling over and trying to rub it off.

Kim sent her grapple line out and it latched onto the railing just a foot or two away from Gill. She leaped out over the edge in a long jump and arched her swing. The floor whizzed past her eyes and then she was swinging up again.

Gill leaned over the rail trying to see where Kim had gone, and Monique saw Kim fly up over the railing behind him and land a solid kick into his back. They both fell over the rail. Gill took the brunt of the fall with a splattering sound, but he rolled and threw Kim off before charging at her and sending out another volley of spittle.

Kim tucked and rolled, putting her foot into Gill's stomach and sending him flying. He spiraled gracelessly through the air before slamming into one of the storage tanks and oozing his way down to the floor with a low squelching sound.

Kim kept herself at the ready, looking down at him. 'Spill, Gill!" she said. How have you been running a factory like this all by yourself?'

Gill looked up at her, his eyes glittering. 'I haven't.' he said.

And Kim heard a sound of clacking footsteps all around her. A dozen people had dashed into the room. All of them were wearing brown jumpsuits with the GillCo logo embroidered on the front. But each of the henchmen were mutated. They didn't look as far along as Gill, but they all had green skin covered with scales in places, round red eyes and pointed teeth. They spread around Kim in a semi-circle, their clawed hands twitching.

Monique saw two more charging towards her from either end of the walkway. They seized her and dragged her down the stairs. 'Hey... hands off the material!' she shouted, but they laughed and threw her down next to Kim.

Gill was getting up and laughing. 'What do you think?' he said. 'Once I showed these guys the kind of power being a mutant can give, there were a lot of street toughs who signed on!' Monique looked at the surrounding goons. On closer inspection, she could see some of them had bandanas, ear rings and sneakers like street gang members. 'I've finally got the gang I always wanted.' said Gill, his toothy, frog-like grin spreading from ear to ear. 'Say hello to.... The Mutants!' He gestured dramatically at his surrounding henchmen.

Kim and Monique stared. There was total silence except for when one of the Mutants coughed. Finally Monique spoke. 'The Mutants?' she said. 'Bit on the nose, isn't it? Maybe you should have stayed in school longer and come up with something more original.'

'Hey, shut up!' Gill shouted. 'The Mutants is simple and it states our purpose! It's the perfect name for my gang!'

'Perfectly stupid.' Monique muttered, and Kim couldn't stop herself from smiling. It was the kind of thing that Ron might have said.

'Oh that's it, squeebette!' Gill snarled, 'Maybe you'll change your tune once you've walked a few miles in our webbed footsteps!'

'Ew, even your threats are gross!' Monique answered.

'How'd you score all this, Gill?' Kim said. 'Even if these guys joined you freely, it's not like you could go in and get a permit to start this so-called business!'

'Money talks, Kim.' Gill sneered. 'This building was empty when we set it up for our headquarters. And once we started selling Eco-La, all it took was a few bribes to get City Hall to look the other way.'

'And who did the bribing?' Kim said. 'I doubt you and your 'gang' could just walk into City Hall!'

'Didn't need to!' Gill answered. 'We just sent in our corporate suit to do all the talking!' He gestured towards one of the swinging double-doors that led onto the factory floor, and through the doors, a man was walking towards them.

'Greetings.' said the man, his white teeth sparkling. 'I welcome you, Kim Possible, to this environmentally friendly and carbon-neutral facility.'

Kim and Monique gaped. It was Hal Moore himself, looking as crisp and beaming as if he were attending a political rally. 'I do not believe this...' Monique muttered, shaking her head.

'Believe it, cutie!' Gill laughed, stepping over to Hal's side. 'Not only is our celebrity backer selling tons of our cola, but he's got the political clout to make sure anyone who gets in our way comes off looking like the bad guy!'

'That is quite right.' said Hal, and his voice was rather flat and droning, with just a touch of smarminess. 'Our green-friendly business is fighting to preserve the environment. If you oppose it, that shows you're a polluter who doesn't care about saving mother Earth - and I pity you.'

'How can you be helping him?' Kim said to Hal. Gill and the surrounding Mutants smiled and leered. 'He's not saving the environment, he's mutating people!'

'Money talks, Kim!' Gill said again.

'Correct.' said Hal, taking a thick wad of cash from his pocket. 'In exchange for my endorsement, Mr. Moss has kindly assented to give me the bulk of the profits from his enterprise. The money is quite green - and as an environmentalist, there's nothing I find more noble than that.'

Everyone but Kim and Monique broke out in raucous laughter. Kim looked angry, but Monique looked frightened. 'I'm not sure which one of you is slimier.' Kim said dangerously.

Hal frowned. 'That's polluter talk, Ms. Possible.' he said, 'But maybe a bath in Mr. Moss' concoction will help you see the wisdom of going green....'

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Grimm flitted from room to room silently. His communicator was held out and Rueful was bounding along by his side. He came out of yet another room, looking upset. 'How about it Jade?' he said.

Jade was shaking her head. 'Sorry G-man.' she said. 'I'm not picking up any trace of Monkey Fist or Maze.'

Grimm sighed, looking around as if the factory had disappointed him. 'Well, I guess it was too much to expect to come across them on the very first try.' he said. 'This is dumb luck we're talking, after all.'

'So... packing it in?' Jade said.

'Not just yet.' Grimm said. 'I've still got to make sure Possible comes out of this sitch all right so we can try it again for her next mission.'

'I hate to say it, but Kim was right.' said Jade. 'If any villains, even Gill, see you helping the good guys it could damage your street cred.'

Grimm smirked. 'Then I'll just make it a challenge.' he said. 'Hack into the power and the security systems and wait for my signals. Let's see if I can help her and be totally ninja about it.'

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The Mutants were advancing. Kim and Monique were cornered against the tank containing Gill's slime. 'I'm afraid we cannot allow you to leave, Ms. Possible.' said Hal, his smile returning. 'You or your friend Monique.'

'Wait a second!' Monique shouted, and to Kim's surprise, she didn't look scared anymore, only suspicious. 'How do you know who I am?' she said. 'Kim's famous, but I'm not!'

Hal suddenly looked awkward. 'Uh...' he said, seeming uncharacteristically flustered. 'Gill told me about you.'

'Nice try!' said Kim. 'But Monique wasn't around for either of our encounters with Gill.'

'Thank goodness.' Monique muttered.

Hal looked like he was trying to think of an answer, but Gill sniffed and shook his head. 'Go ahead and show them, Hal.' he said mockingly. 'It's not like either of them are gonna be talking after tonight!'

Hal looked hesitant, but suddenly his paunchy stomach tightened and shrank, his hair lengthened, and in a series of spastic jerks, his form thinned, recolored and changed into a girl with a head of shoulder-length blonde hair and an arrogant looking face.

'Camille Leon!' Kim growled. 'I should have known!'

'Coulda, woulda, shoulda.' said Camille, looking at her fingernails. 'Been a while Kim - Monique.' she said with a dark glare. 'That last caper when I met you two depleted my spending funds to a pitiful level - I could barely afford to buy two of each of the newest fashions!'

'How sad for you.' Kim growled, looking back and forth between her and Gill. She couldn't imagine a less likely partnership - Camille, an elitist snob who always had to have the best of everything; and Gill, a slimy mutant bully.

'I knew it!' said Monique. 'I knew Hal Moore wouldn't go in for something like this! All is well again!'

Gill laughed. 'Wrong there, cutie.' he said.

'And what happens when the real Hal Moore finds out someone is impersonating him to hawk your goop?' said Kim.

Camille waved her hand. 'Pfft!' she said. 'He's too busy emitting carbon from his private jets to travel and promote his latest movie.' she said. 'Like he'd notice us - and even if he did, how can he object? We're selling the same stuff he is - snake oil.'

strange bedfellows

'Got that right.' said Gill. 'Eco-La was such a hit that we're expanding. Soon we'll be putting out Eco-Tone suntan lotion, facial creme, even Eco #5 perfume! And with my gal Camille posing as an army of different celebrities, we'll be sucking in every loser who wants to prove they're going green, plus all the sheep who do whatever the celeb-utards are doing! Before Middleton knows what hit them, they'll all be joining the Mutants!'

'Nice scheme.' said Kim resentfully. 'You needed celebrities to get people to notice your cola, so you brought in Camille.'

'More bang for the bucks.' said Gill with a lopsided grin. 'I get what I want, and Camille gets money to buy her little trinkets.'

'Camille gets the money?' said Monique. 'Your commercial said the proceeds go to planting trees!'

'Hey, I didn't lie.' said Gill smugly, and he slapped across the concrete floor to one of the windows. He pulled open the industrial blinds to reveal two small saplings in the parking lot berm. 'We planted these when we first set up.'

'That's it?' said Monique.

'It's still trees as in plural.' said Gill with a sneer, and he leaped back, landing with a wet smack onto one of the conveyor belts. 'To keep my word, we just had to plant two.' He glared at Kim wickedly. 'One more time, Kim. Where's the squeeb? Usually he stumbles out from somewhere to save you by now.'

Kim didn't answer. 'Fine.' he said. 'Once we take care of you, we'll find him ourselves. Got any last words?'

'Just one.' said Kim with a smile. 'Rufus!'

Far across the room, Rufus waved at Kim with a smile before jumping on top of a large red button. There was a sudden whirring and the conveyor belt started to run. Gill's feet swept sideways and he fell sprawling onto the conveyor. He scrabbled backwards, but was pulled into one of the enclosed machines and out of sight. The Mutants charged forwards, but Kim dropped to the floor in a spinning foot sweep that sent most of them tumbling back. She leaped up to confront the rest of them.

Monique decided to take on someone more her speed. Camille Leon had turned and was backing away but Monique took her down in a flying tackle. 'Oh you are not leaving just yet, you poser!' she grunted, struggling to pin her.

'Monique - what are you doing?'

Monique stared down in shock, seeing Kim's face staring up at her. Monique hesitated for a split second, but that was all it took. One of the Mutants seized her and held her fast. Kim's face lurched and changed back to Camille, who was smirking at her.

'Who's the poser now?' she said.

Kim sent every Mutant who approached her sprawling backwards with a series of spinning kicks. None of them seemed to have any particular fighting skills, and thankfully none of them seemed able to spit like Gill could. They weren't any more challenging than Drakken's or Dementor's henchmen.

Gill emerged from the other end of the machine with a number of Eco-La labels stuck to his body. He peeled off a few with a grimace and looked over towards where Rufus was still hopping up and down on various buttons on the control panels. The conveyor started pulling Gill back the other way.

'Oh no you don't!' he shouted, and he sent a glob of spittle arching to the controls. Rufus was focusing on one of the switches when he was suddenly plastered against the wall by the sticky mass. Gill rolled off the conveyor belt just before being pulled back into the labeler. 'Wonder what a mutant mole rat will look like?' he sneered, shouting over at Rufus. 'Maybe you'll turn into a human!'

Kim was fending off four Mutants at the same time, while several others lay groaning on the floor. She was about to deck another one when she heard Gill shouting. 'Simmer down Possible, or your friend gets it!' Kim turned and saw Monique being held in a half-nelson by one of the Mutants, with Gill and Camille standing on either side of them.

Kim bit her lip, but stopped fighting. 'No more flapping our gums, Kim.' said Camille. 'Well, except to do one thing.' she said, then nodded to Gill.

The Mutant threw Monique towards Kim and Gill opened his mouth, sending out a wide net of slime that fanned out and fell over Kim and Monique with a wet, splattering sound. Monique felt as if she were a fly trying to get out of rubber cement. She struggled, but couldn't so much as pull one of her feet loose from the floor. Her arms were stuck to her own waist. A glance at Kim showed she was similarly trapped.

'Ha!' Gill crowed, sneering at Kim. 'Now here's a familiar scene! Too bad the rest of your cheer squad couldn't join in, but it'll be a hoot watching you mutate into my newest gang members!'

Monique looked down at the slime that held them in place. 'Aren't you gonna say, You'll never get away with this?' she said to Kim.

'Only when I'm sure they're not.' Kim answered. But then there was a loud clack that echoed from everywhere.

The factory floor was plunged into total darkness. There was a few seconds of confused shouting, with some of the Mutants making occasional yelps. Then Kim felt a tug at her wrists and felt the imprisoning strands of goo snap loose. Someone was behind her, pulling her and Monique to their feet.

'Look cool.' whispered Grimm's voice in her ears.

A second later, the lights snapped back on. Gill was squinting as he stared up, then looked down. Kim and Monique were standing in front of a pile of unconscious Mutants. Kim could see no sign of Grimm, but she folded her arms and tried to wipe any trace of surprise from her expression. Though she couldn't help smiling at the look of utter shock on Gill's mutated face.

'How.... did you... do that?' he said, babbling slightly. 'That's impossible!!'

'No.' Kim said. 'It's Kim Possible. That's a common mistake.'

Gill clenched his fists, letting out a grating scream of rage, then he threw back his head and another net of his spit fanned out. But this time Kim was ready. She pushed Monique the opposite direction and backflipped out of the path of the net, which fell onto his henchman, tangling around the ones who were twitching and groaning their way back to consciousness.

Gill pivoted and sent several streams of his spit at Kim. Kim had latched her grapple line to one of the metal beams in the high ceiling and soared up into the air in a graceful circle, wheeling around the warehouse and staying just ahead of the splattering sludge.

Camille shrieked as Kim swung past her, then shrieked again as she was flung back against one of the mixing vats, stuck fast in place by heavy bands of Gill's spit. She tried changing into several different body types and sizes, but the goo stretched and expanded, keeping her stuck to the curved metal behind her. 'You... low life!' she shouted, staring at Gill. 'Do you have any idea what this stuff will do to my complexion?'

  gross

'Pipe down, blondie.' Gill said, his eyes gleaming wickedly. 'If this was a spa, you'd have paid thousands for that!' Camille growled and kept struggling until Monique stepped in front of her.

'Hold still, honey.' she said. 'I still owe you for that caper with the Fashionistas a while back!'

Camille saw the dangerous sparkle in Monique's eyes, looked at the slippery ropes of goo still holding her, and slumped in defeat. 'I knew I should have brought Debutante with me....' she muttered, then blew aside a lock of her hair which had fallen over her eyes.

Kim used her grapple line to pull herself up and landed among the cramped network of catwalks formed by the support structure of the ceiling. She dashed along, nimbly following the line beneath her, ducking occasionally as a glob of spit smacked wetly near her feet.

But she quickly ran out of room and jumped down, landing on top of one of the large, round holding tanks. Gill had raced up to the upper level mezzanine and was lurching towards her, his feet squelching against the webbed metal of the catwalk.

'Nowhere left to run, squeebette!' he grinned triumphantly. 'One wide burst and you start your new life as my green main squeeze!' He swelled up and opened his mouth, but instead of another net of spittle, there was a flaccid wheeze, and nothing else. Gill gritted his teeth, took in a great lungful of air, then tried again. But again, nothing happened.

Kim stood up, leaping onto the catwalk and confronting him. 'What's the matter Gill?' she said. 'Throat a little dry?' Gill snarled, but didn't answer. 'Let's try this without your little spit tricks!'

'I don't need my goo to take you down, squeebette!' Gill said, spreading out his clawed hands. 'Besides, have you forgotten where we are?' He pointed across the warehouse to the largest of the vats. 'I've got a whole tank of my slime to recharge with....' But he stopped, leaning over the rail and taking a closer look at the vat. Kim followed his gaze and saw a black box clamped onto the side of the vat, with glowing red numbers on a display screen, ticking down....

'Oh snap.' Gill said quietly.

There was a thunderous bang, and the vat was ripped open, sending a deluge of green liquid flooding out onto the warehouse floor. Monique yelped, jumping up onto one of the thick pipes. Soon the flood spread across the entire warehouse, but didn't rise to the point where Monique was in any danger of being submerged. Even the unconscious Mutants only seemed to be a couple of inches deep in the stuff, and Kim saw the industrial sized drains scattered across the warehouse floor were forming small whirlpools as the slimy liquid was sucked down.

Gill watched as his slime drained away. 'Oh... man!' he shouted. Then he rounded on Kim. 'Do you have any idea how long it took me to make all that?'

'No, and I'd prefer you kept it to yourself!' Kim answered.

Gill narrowed his yellow eyes dangerously. 'I have had it with you, Kim!' he said. 'I was going to use you to get the squeeb to come out from wherever he's hiding - but now I think I'll just do to you what I was gonna do to him!'

Gill was crouching, looking ready to spring, and Kim went into a ready stance. But she paused as she heard something from her Kimmunicator. 'Cover your eyes.' said Grimm's voice, sounding low and quiet.

Gill saw Kim suddenly look down and throw an arm across her face. He smiled, starting towards her, surprised but pleased that she had scared so easily. But he looked down as a small black ball dropped at his feet and suddenly there was a loud bang and a flash of white.

Monique blinked. She was far enough away that the flash didn't hit her so hard, but she saw Gill scream as he was hurled backwards down the stairs. He landed and left a trailing wake as he slid backwards across the concrete floor which was still slick with his own slime. He slammed headfirst into one of the pipes near the floor with a gurgling 'Ow!' and a metallic clank.

Kim hopped onto the stairs' metal railing and slid down as if she were skiing. She went up to Gill, who was rubbing his eyes and groaning, then she heard a shout behind her. 'Kim - a little help here?'

Kim turned and saw that Monique and Camille were cringing away from a curtain of slime which was oozing all around them. The pipes leading to the main storage tank containing Gill's ooze had burst, and fresh streams of it were dripping above and around the place where Monique was standing, and there was no way for her to move without getting soaked.

kim vs gill

Kim hesitated. Monique wasn't in any real danger - even if she was hit by the ooze, Lurkin's treatment could cure her. But she didn't feel right letting it happen. She had promised Monique that if she sidekicked with her, she would protect her.

She ran across the floor, splashing through the thin layer of slime that remained, and pulled loose a fire hose. She had it on a second later and was unrolling the hose as she made her way back towards Monique. The churning white spray from the hose washed away the pale green from the pipes, leaving them clear and shining. She kept advancing and hitting the tanks and the pipes until there was a clear path for Monique to jump away. Monique caught on at once and leaped clear.

Monique gingerly picked her way across the slime-slicked floor. 'Thanks for the save, girlfriend.' she gasped.

'No big.' Kim said, turning her attention to Camille, who opened her eyes in horror.

'This is French cashmere!' she shouted, jerking her head towards her shirt. 'Water will make it shrink - I'd rather mutate!' But she was silenced as Kim soaked her and washed the slime away from the tank where she was stuck. The strands holding her dissolved and she landed with a thud on the floor, sputtering and shaking her hands in disgust.

There was a sudden flash and a click and Kim saw Monique holding up her cell phone. She smiled and turned it towards her so Kim could see a photo of Camille, soaked to the skin and bedraggled. 'It's for my blog.' she said, smiling.

Kim smiled too, turning the hose towards where Rufus was stuck. The stream was powerful, so she didn't spray him directly, but she soaked the area around him and weakened the goo holding him until he could bite his way free. He scampered over to Kim, spluttering and wiping the rest of the slime off. 'Bleah!' he squeaked. Kim looked back towards the double doors. Gill was nowhere to be seen. Gritting her teeth, she kept hosing down the goo, washing the thicker pools away from the Mutants and towards the drains.

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Gill heard his slimy, clawed feet slapping and clicking against the concrete floor as he ran. He stumbled, still shaking off the effects of the flashbang grenade as he went down the hallway towards the shipping docks and pushed his way in. The bays where the trucks and other vehicles were kept were empty, most of them still out on delivery runs. Gill smiled. Ron's squeeby girlfriend may have busted up this operation, but it wouldn't take much to set up shop in some other town - Go City sounded like the big time....

'Leaving so soon, Gil?'

Gill skidded to a stop. The voice he heard was not Kim's - it was a male voice. The echoing of the large room made him unsure. 'Is that you, squeeb?' Gill shouted. 'I figured you and your GF would try to stop me, but I'm surprised you took so long to turn up!'

From his hiding place in the vent of one of the air ducts near the ceiling, Grimm looked down on Gill. 'He thinks I'm Ron.' he thought. 'This could be easier than I thought.'

'Or maybe I shouldn't be surprised.' Gill shouted. 'You were always the biggest scardey-cat at Wannaweep! Still hiding behind Kim's skirt, I guess!'

'Call it hiding if you want.' said Grimm, doing his best imitation of Ron's voice. 'But I took care of your goo supply - I took care of your goons, and now it's time to take care of you.'

Gill whirled around. He couldn't tell where Ron's voice was coming from. The echoes of the large room with it's metal walls was too disorienting. 'So where are you?' he shouted. 'Come on out so I can give you another noogie - just like old times!' He twitched his clawed fingers.

'I don't need to dirty my hands with your filth.' Grimm said, keeping his voice low and menacing, and was pleased to see that Gill looked furious. 'The police are coming, Gil. And this time it won't just be your TV privileges that get taken away. They're gonna lock you up in a cage without a key!'

Gill snarled. 'Get out here!' he said, but he was starting to sound nervous.

'Two minutes before they bust in and haul you off kicking and screaming.' Grimm said. 'All I have to do is sit back and watch the fun.'

'You still scared of me, squeeb?' Gill shouted. 'I thought you were trying to step up for your GF! Come out and face me man to man!'

'How can I do that?' Grimm sneered. 'It looks like I'm the only man here. I've been growing up and stepping up - while you've been getting smaller and less human with every passing day. You're not a man, you're not even an animal. You're just Gil Moss - pathetic loser.'

'I'm not 'Gil', I'm Gill!' Gill shouted, leaning his head back and twiddling the flaps under his chin. 'Like these things I grew when I mutated! How many times do I have to tell you?'

'First off,' said Grimm, 'That's not a gill - it's a wattle. And second.... there is no second, you couldn't even get that right!'

'Shut up!' Gill shouted.

'I can't believe I was ever scared of you.' said Grimm. 'You're pathetic. And it's gonna be so funny to watch them studying you like a lab rat for the rest of your life. Maybe I'll make a DVD of them poking and prodding you - so Kim and I can watch you suffering whenever we want a laugh.'

Gill snarled again, puffed up and tried to spit, but only a small stream dribbled from his mouth onto the floor. He wheezed, looking wildly around.

'Less than a minute, Gil.' said Grimm. 'Remember to put on a good show when the cops taser you. I love watching you squirm.' Gill had run up to the door leading back into the factory, but the heavy handle wouldn't budge.

'No way out, squeeb.' said Grimm, pouring it on. 'I locked every door back into the factory, and there aren't any drains or manholes here for you to duck into. You're toast.' Grimm stared down anxiously. 'Come on, Gil.' he thought. 'What are you waiting for? It's right there in front of you!'

Gill's eyes flicked to the side. Only a few feet away was a door with a red lit sign above it marked Exit. He grinned his wide, toothy smile. 'All the doors back in.' he said, gurgling. 'But not the ones out! Catch you later squeeb - or maybe I'll catch your little sister!' He dashed towards the door and pushed his way through.

The door led out into the cool night air. As he dashed through, he cast his eyes around to see if he could spot a manhole or a sewer grate that he could use. But the light from the lamp post across the way flickered out for an instant as he saw something falling down. There was a metallic clunk and Gill closed his eyes, sputtering as a white, powdery substance covered him from head to toe, sticking to the slime that oozed on his body.

He threw off the object from the top of his head and glared as it clattered on the pavement, a residue of the powder inside spilling everywhere. 'A bucket over the door?' he said, shouting back into the warehouse. 'You actually used that lame old gag...?'

But Gill felt an itching sensation that was growing steadily stronger. He looked at his hands, seeing the white powder dissolving into the film covering his moist skin and gasped as it started bubbling slightly.

'Uh-oh...' he muttered.

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Monique was checking the knots that tied Camille and the Mutants hands and ankles. She wasn't much on Kung-Fu, but as a fashionista, she knew her knots. Kim was hosing down the warehouse floor, washing away the rest of Gill's muck. The warehouse floor was mostly clear when she shut off the hose and threw it down.

'We have to go after Gill.' she said. 'If he gets away, he could set up someplace else and start the whole thing all over again.'

Monique winced. 'Do we have to?' she said.

Kim and Monique started as a door on the far side of the warehouse flew open. It was one of the emergency exits that led out into the parking lot. Gill staggered through the door, falling down on his knees and crawling forward. He looked terrible. Large patches of his green, oozing skin had become dry and blistered. The parts that were still moist seemed to be bubbling, looking raw, almost burned. He was staring weakly, but desperately at the fire hose which was a dozen yards away and he hissed feebly. 'Water...!' he said, then with a gasp, he collapsed onto the floor.

Kim and Monique stared in shock. 'What happened to him?' Monique said.

Kim had her Kimmunicator out and had rushed up to Gill, kneeling down beside him on the concrete floor. 'Wade, I need a scan - we've got Gill but something's wrong with him!'

'On it!' came Wade's voice. Monique had to hand it to Wade. When he wasn't mooning over her, he was actually kind of cool and professional, and she thought ironically that if he hadn't been so sloppy, she might have been impressed with him before Valentine's Day. His voice spoke out again after several tense seconds. 'He's all right Kim, he's just unconscious. I don't think he's in any danger.'

Kim breathed a sigh of relief. 'Do you know what happened to him? I thought he'd gotten away, but he came back and now he's all... well he looks even grosser than normal.'

'It's a little diluted by his slime,' said Wade. 'But it looks like he's coated with a layer of sodium chloride.'

Kim blinked. Normally, Wade's techno-babble went over her head, but this was a term she knew. 'Salt?' she said.

'Yeah, salt.' Grimm's voice said, and he came into the warehouse, the double-doors swinging shut behind him. 'This factory's a gigantic kitchen after all. Even 'eco-friendly' sodas have some sodium in them. It didn't take much to find some industrial sized bags. And salt is just the thing for taking down someone like Gill.'

Jade's voice piped up from his communicator. 'Good one, G-man!' she chirped.

Wade's voice sounded out from Kim's wrist. 'No it wasn't!' he said. 'It was an.... evil one! I mean, yeah the science was sound, but man...!'

'The science?' Kim said, and Grimm nodded.

'I had Jade hack into Lurkin's files on Gill.' said Grimm, going up to the prone figure of the teen mutant and digging at him with his toe. 'After spending so long treating him, they've also done a lot of medical examinations on his mutations. They show his body picked up DNA from a lot of different sources in Lake Wannaweep, including amphibian sources - frog DNA.' said Grimm. 'It's basic biology. Frogs don't like salt - it irritates their skin and hurts them - a lot.'

Kim gaped. It had worked - Gill was now helpless and defeated - but the ruthless exploitation of his weakness made Kim feel as disgusted as if she had just drunk a can of Eco-La. 'Relax, he'll be fine.' Grimm said. 'He's got enough human DNA that the salt won't damage him. Just add water and he'll be right as rain.'

Kim gestured to Gill's prone, unconscious body. 'You call this right as rain?' she said.

Grimm shrugged. 'He only fainted - probably just as well given the amount of pain he must have been feeling.'

Kim wanted to slap him. 'That wasn't necessary!' she said. 'All we had to do was track him, run him down, avoid his mutating goo and then lure him into some kind of trap without hurting him!'

There was silence while Grimm looked back at her as if he thought she was crazy. At last he shook his head, turned, and started walking towards the exit. 'My way was faster.' he said flatly.

        asalted    
     
Coming Soon:
Chapter 15