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

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

Chapter 16:
Despair
Or: Tatters of the Heart

Maze stepped out of the Immersion Pod and stumbled on the cavern floor. Monkey Fist gripped his arm and held him up. 'Are you all right?' he said.

Maze nodded. 'I am weary,' he said, 'But it was not as difficult as before.'

'Good.' said Monkey Fist. 'Because I think we should travel to Basalton without delay to collect our new charges. Can you manage it?'

'Well isn't anyone going to thank me?' said Drakken peevishly. 'The refinements I made to your hodgepodge have obviously paid off - now your device is even more off the heezy!'

Monkey Fist and Maze stared at him blankly. Drakken sighed. 'Shego, say 'Go Drakken!' he said.

'Go Drakken.' said Shego, her voice flat and emotionless. Drakken bowed like an actor on a stage.

'Continue with the work.' said Maze, turning away. 'We should be back in less than a day.'

Drakken looked up. 'So....' he said, and he couldn't keep the eager cunning out of his voice, '...I'll have free reign to do as I wish until you get back?'

'Certainly.' said Monkey Fist. 'Within the confines we have already set.'

'And what if I choose to step outside them?' said Drakken.

'You could try.' said Monkey Fist, and he and Maze strode towards the dark tunnel, which led out of the cavern. 'Though I would not advise it. If you think to betray us in any way - you will find that Shego may become.... grumpy.'

Drakken winced. 'She's always....' he started, but then Shego brought her arm down and shattered the stone chair next to him. 'Aaaah!' he shouted. 'All right - confines - got it!'

Maze and Monkey Fist left the lair without another word or a backward glance. Drakken watched them go and waited for a few minutes, craning his neck towards the exit to make sure they weren't coming back. Then he started edging his way towards the inner caverns, hoping to see the project that Maze had said was so important.

At once, the statues working on the framework to the Jammer broke ranks and blocked his way. Shego's arm pulled him roughly back towards his work station. 'That place is forbidden.' Shego said with annoying finality.

'But...' Drakken said, pointing towards the cavern.

'Forbidden.' Shego said, more loudly.

'I just want a peek....!'

'Forbidden.' she said again.

  drakken's lament

'Oh come on, no one will know!'

'Forbidden!' she said.

Drakken slumped into the spare chair next to the crumbled one. The other statues were still barring the way. It was not until he resumed working on his computer that the statues returned to their own work.

He grumbled as he kept working at the design schematics and construction spreadsheets. 'This isn't what I signed up for!' he thought resentfully. 'They don't even have any laser death traps to strap Kim Possible to!'

Drakken stared at Shego, who was silent and still. A sudden thought came to him. 'Shego - fetch me... a dodo bird.' he said.

Shego answered, but her voice was utterly dead sounding. 'I can't fetch you a dodo bird. The dodo is extinct. Command me to fetch you something that exists. I will obey.'

Drakken looked at her in silence, then his face fell. 'You're no fun anymore.' he said softly before going back to work.

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'Thanks for letting us hitch a ride, Captain Ariflax.' said Kim.

'Not at all, Ms. Possible.' said the dapper Austrian pilot. 'You saved the original Concorde from that Electronique person. The least I can do is spare you some space in the luggage hold. You're sure you would not prefer seating in the passenger areas? It can get quite cold in here once we are at cruising altitude, and the seating up top is much more comfortable...'

'We don't want to be any trouble, Captain.' said Kim, smiling and shaking her head. 'It's no big.'

After Ariflax had left, Kim checked the computer readout on the back of her hand. She had gone through nearly all the self-diagnostics, and they were all reading green. Her battle-suit was charged and ready. She wore a purple jacket over it, to minimize the staring from passengers and pilots alike when she had made her way to the tarmac at the Middleton airport.

It had not taken Wade long to find another ride willing to take her overseas, and luckily the Concorde2 was stopping off at Heathrow in London anyway, so they would not have to impose. The jet normally didn't carry much freight besides passenger baggage, but once the captain learned that it was Kim asking the favor, he had been eager to give the chance.

She got into the Sloth where Monique and Wade were seated in the backseat. Wade kept glancing at Monique, a wistful look in his eyes. He was slowly scooting closer to her, whistling nonchalantly.

'Do not even try it!' said Monique, and Wade quickly shuffled back to the edge near the window. Monique sighed. She was only just coming to grips with the weirdness of the Gill mission, and she was already tagging along on another. She didn't think her nerves could put up with the added burden of having to fend off Wade's puppy-love.

She looked to Kim to back her up and to say something to remind Wade that he was supposed to be 'over' her, but one glance told her that Kim would be little help. She was sitting behind the steering wheel, her elbow on the window frame, and was staring blankly at the Ksikkihkíni, which was clamped down next to the Sloth, but without a rider. Grimm was nowhere to be seen.

'Don't obsess, girl.' Monique said, and Kim seemed to shake herself, her focus returning.

'Can't help wondering.' she said. 'This is probably the chance he's been waiting for. I thought he'd be more on the spot.'

Monique frowned. From all she had seen of Grimm since his arrival in Middleton, he was always 'on the spot', even when it seemed like he wasn't. He was like a spider tending to several webs at once, but always ready to pounce if he felt the slightest quiver from any of them. She looked around the cargo hold, but didn't see him anywhere, and despite her own advice she joined Kim in wondering where he was.

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Grimm stood behind a cluster of crates not far from the Sloth, pulling on gloves and a pair of boots. 'Is it ready?' he said, pausing to pick up his communicator.

Jade's face stared back at him. 'Well it's just a prototype,' she said, shrugging. 'But the theory is sound. I can't guarantee how it'll work in field conditions....'

'We'll risk it.' Grimm said, picking up his bike helmet. 'This is our best opportunity yet, and besides Maze, I want to be able to deal with the other half of the equation. Have it waiting at the drop-off point.'

'I'll send it by....' Jade started, but Grimm cut her off.

'Bring it yourself.' he said.

Jade's mouth fell open. 'What?' she said, looking scared. 'You mean.... leave the lab??'

'Yes.' said Grimm firmly. 'This is too important to trust to a courier service or one of our contacts. I want you to deliver it personally.'

Jade sputtered, shaking her head. 'Grimm, I don't....'

'It's important, Jade.' he said, then he paused, looking away from the screen. 'Please.' he said, quickly and softly, as if he were afraid of being overheard.

Jade bit her lip, then with a nervous twitch, she said. 'Yeah... I'll be there.'

Grimm nodded. 'Thanks.' he said. 'Hopefully soon we'll have Rhonda back, and then we can all go home.' he shut off the communicator and checked his outfit again before moving back into the main aisle through the cargo hold.

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Kim saw Grimm as he stepped around the stacks of baggage which were lashed down with straps and buckles, and she couldn't stop her fists from clenching. He was dressed in a form-fitting black suit lined with orange bands, the 'copy' of her battle-suit which Zorpox had made for Grimm. Seeing him in it brought back sharp memories of when Grimm had tricked her into believing that he had destroyed Ron's good side forever.

She forced herself to remember that this time they were working together, but it wasn't difficult to envision Grimm preparing to attack her instead checking the straps holding down his bike.

The Concorde lurched and the cargo bay contents rattled against their harnesses and restraints. The Sloth shuddered, but the shock absorbers took most of it. Grimm wobbled, but recovered and quickly buckled himself into the seat of the Ksikkihkíni. It wasn't long before they felt the g-forces of the aircraft taking off and the occasional tilting as it followed the turns needed to reach it's flight path and cruising height.

'It'll get below freezing.' said Kim. 'Will you be all right out there?'

'The suit will give me enough protection.' said Grimm. 'Jade's been fiddling with it a lot since you last saw it.'

'So why don't you use it all the time?' said Kim.

'Same reason you don't, I suppose.' said Grimm. 'I don't like relying on it when I don't need it, though I'm glad mine looks better than yours.'

Monique watched at Kim fell into a sulky silence. The temperature was dropping, and Kim put the windows back up before turning on the defrosters. There was silence for some time except for the sound of Kim's fingers drumming on the steering wheel.

suit up

There was a soft burst of static through the Sloth's speakers and Grimm's voice was piped in. 'Bite your lip any harder and you'll break the skin.' he said. 'Save it for Monkey Fist.'

Kim glared out the window to where Grimm sat with his helmet now on and a comlink button lit up on its side. Grimm's voice came in again. 'Are you enjoying happy memories of the last time we were both wearing these suits?' he said. 'That was a blast.'

'You can think so.' said Kim in a low mutter.

'Bitter much?' said Grimm, 'Because the last time I wore this was when I was ripping your team a new one?'

Kim glared at him. 'Yeah.' she said.

Monique spoke from the side of her mouth to Wade. 'Uh... is there a window or something we can put up so we don't have to listen in?'

'Sorry.' Wade shrugged. 'Good idea though - I'll ask Jim and Tim....' But Grimm was still speaking.

'We can spar during the flight if you've still got issues to work out.' he said casually. 'But I don't think you'd do any better now than you did last time. We almost put an end to you when we blew the whistle on your tracking chip scheme.'

'As I recall, we beat you.' Kim growled.

Grimm sounded resentful for a second. 'I admit I was surprised.' he said. 'I really thought he'd break up with you because of the chip. But you proved me wrong - or rather, Ron proved me wrong.'

'And that's why you lost.' said Kim, a feeling of pride swelling in her. 'You underestimated Ron. He would never dump me over something like that.'

'That's because he's an exceptional guy.' Grimm answered. 'He's not nearly as mad at you as he ought be. In all the years that you've known him - has he ever done anything to willfully hurt you? He may be clumsy, ignorant and cheap - but he's never been motivated by spite. But how many times have you done things to hurt him? You've lied to him - you've ditched him - you've marginalized and criticized him at almost every level. And still he's stuck with you. Frankly, you don't deserve him.'

Monique could see Kim's face reddening, even in the rear view mirror, and saw her white gloved fingers trembling on the steering wheel. 'Really want that window now....' Monique said to Wade in a low, sing-song voice.

'Maybe I will take you up on that sparring.' Kim said, and her voice was deadly cold.

'Why so touchy?' Grimm said. 'Do you think you did something grand because you decided to throw the poor little geek a bone? Give him the thrill of dating a foxy cheerleader - until you get tired of him and throw him back in the gutter? Real big of you Kim - real big.'

'Where do you get all this from?' Kim snapped. 'You're accusing me of things I haven't done and saying that I'm planning to do things that I'm not! Do you lie awake at night thinking up stuff you can say just to annoy me?'

'I don't have to think about it at all.' said Grimm. 'You're covered with buttons that are just screaming to be pushed. You make it too easy sometimes.'

Monique couldn't stand it any longer and broke in over Kim. 'Will you shut up?' she said. 'We got at least four hours on this plane and I do not want to spend it listening to your bad-boy psychobabble! Now stop acting like an immature kid!'

There was silence for a few seconds, then Grimm's voice piped in one quick message. 'She started it.' he said mischievously.

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Monkey Fist sat on the ground in the streets of Basalton. There were rough croaking sounds filling the air around him, but he tried to shut it out. Murders of crows were perched on the surrounding houses, or wheeling overhead in broad, sweeping circles. Maze stumped past him, followed by a clutch of petrified citizens. The shadow shaman paused. 'Must you do that now?' said Maze grimly. 'This will go faster if you collect our slaves as well.'

'There is no particular rush.' said Monkey Fist, and his voice was relaxed and calm. 'Drakken will warn us by communicator if the authorities approach, and by the time you have gone through the entire town, you should be ready to mask us again.'

Maze scowled. 'I fail to see the need for you to rest.'

'This is not resting.' said Monkey Fist curtly. 'This is meditation. I have said many times that Tai Sheng Pek Kwar is also a mental exercise. Focus and concentration are key, and to summon them in any circumstance, they must be practiced in any circumstance. Now if you don't mind....' And he went motionless, looking for all purposes as if he were nothing more than a sculpture set weirdly in the middle of the street.

Maze shook his head and made to turn away. But there was a flash of yellow light, and he turned again. Monkey Fist was flailing in mid-air as if something had tossed him, and he landed with a heavy clunk. He got up, staring curiously at his hand, where the mark of the Yono was flickering dimly.

'What was that?' said Maze.

'How very unexpected.' said Monkey Fist, as if talking to himself. 'And curious. It seems another of the Yono's abilities has manifest itself...'

'There are others?' said Maze, frowning. 'Why did you not speak of it?'

Monkey Fist frowned as well. 'My apologies, but when the Yono disappeared he did not leave me an instruction manual.'

Maze's frown became more pronounced and Monkey Fist sighed. 'The Yono displayed powers of levitation.' he said in a voice of forced patience. 'Sensei and many of the advanced students at Yamanouchi were able to achieve it as well. It would seem the Yono's power has awakened the ability in me....'

Maze raised his eyebrow. 'You are able... to fly?' he said.

'No,' said Monkey Fist, continuing to stare at the back of his hand. 'Only to hover. The Yono was able to move forward along the ground. Perhaps with practice...' He fell into silence for several minutes, then looked at Maze as if he had forgotten he was there.

'Continue collecting our new servants.' he said. 'While you do that... I will attempt to discover more.' Then he sat back down, returning to the Lotus position, while Maze moved silently down the street in search of more victims.

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There was a certain amount of gawking at Heathrow when workers on the tarmac and disembarking passengers saw the Sloth and the Ksikkihkíni leaving the Concorde2's cargo ramp. Some people seemed to recognize the Sloth, pointing excitedly and a number of cell phone cameras snapped and clicked as they passed.

There was some staring at the Ksikkihkíni and at Grimm, who kept his helmet on with the visor down. But the attention seemed only to have been given because he was following in Kim's wake. They threaded their way through the maze of connecting roads that led out of the airport. Grimm tapped his helmet communicator.

'Jade, I'm not seeing you.'

Jade's voice came through along with a heavy buzz of static. 'I'm still in transit G-man - another half an hour at least....'

Grimm tried to keep his voice calm. 'This could queer the whole deal.' he said. 'What's the holdup?'

'The weather.' Jade answered with heavy sarcasm. 'Ya know - that stuff I can't control? There are heavy storm fronts all along the way.'

Grimm shook his head. 'We didn't have any trouble...' he started.

'Well if you'd waited for me at Middleton, maybe I could have gotten a seat on your luxury supersonic jet!'

'We were in the cargo bay!' he said, and Rueful popped his head out of the insulated backpack, shivering exaggeratedly.

'Point is, you could reach a speed and height that I couldn't and avoid atmospheric conditions that I can't.' said Jade. 'Given that, you should be grateful I'm as close as I am! It could have been another few hours...'

'All right.' said Grimm grudgingly. 'But we can't wait at Heathrow any longer. I'm leaving the homing beacon on. Track me down wherever we wind up. I'll delay Monkey Fist and Maze as long as I can - I'm counting on you, Jade.'

'Yeah right, no pressure.' Jade said, then with a blip the link was disconnected.

By this time, they had made their way out of the airport and were moving towards the southern roads leading towards Stanwell. Kim saw Grimm signaling down one of the emptier streets and followed him until they were in a deserted alleyway.

As she lowered her window, Grimm flipped up his helmet visor. 'Here's where we split up.' he said. 'Wade showed us the general area in the countryside, but there's still a lot of ground to cover. I can do a lot more from the air.'

'You can't just fly that thing around!' said Kim. 'Setting aside that it's an unlicensed aircraft, we're supposed to be sneaking up on Monkey Fist - won't they see you coming?'

Grimm patted his shoulder where one of the orange bands was glowing dimly. 'Stealth mode. Jade added it a while after the Middleton caper.'

'And the bike?' said Monique, poking her nose out of the window as well. 'Be even more of a sore thumb flyin' around without a pilot.'

Grimm sniffed and gripped the handlebars of the Ksikkihkíni firmly. Several glowing bands of circuitry seemed to spread out around his hands and fingers, and corresponding bands rippled out across the bike for a few seconds, then both the bike and Grimm faded from view until they were discernable only as a rippling distortion in the air like heat haze.

'Sweeeeeet.....' said Wade, practically drooling on the window until a hard stare from Kim sent him leaning back into his seat.

'I'll start on the east end of the target area, you guys hit the west and we'll work our way towards the middle.' said Grimm. Kim saw a puff of dust along the ground and heard a faint, high pitched mechanical whine which grew fainter until it faded from hearing. Kim had to admit, the stealth mode worked well. She could see the rippling distortion rising, but as the Ksikkihkíni rose up, it blended into the surrounding air. If she hadn't known it was there, she would never have realized it.

She quickly got back onto the roads and drove the Sloth towards the countryside expanse which was highlighted on the dashboard display screen.

'How come you never did that for Kim's car?' Monique said, and Wade looked suddenly flustered.

'I've had tons of issues just getting Kim's suit working without glitches.' he said. 'I haven't had time to add things like linking feature compatibility with a vehicle.'

'They did.' said Monique, nodding her head in the direction where the Ksikkihkíni had disappeared. 'What did they do to fix their suit?'

Wade dithered for a second, then said answered. 'Jade is not better than me!'

Monique stared. 'Uh.... I didn't say she was.' she said warily.

Wade looked away as if staring at something out of the window. 'Well... good, because she's not.' he said.

Looking at Wade sulking, Monique couldn't suppress a smile. Wade didn't seem to have many pet peeves, but it seemed he did pride himself in being the best.

  yono

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Maze returned to the town square, with nearly forty statues following after him, stone victims ranging in age, size and body type. He could not see Monkey Fist, and looked around in silent confusion for a moment.

He stepped back in surprise as a glowing flash of yellow scudded from one side of the street to the other, plowing into the side of a house. There was a noise of clattering wood and a crumble of dust as a portion of the wall splintered and collapsed. Monkey Fist emerged through a gaping hole a few seconds later, looking both pleased and embarrassed.

'Meditation and inner focus seem to be the key to this power.' he said, dusting himself off.

Maze looked at the damaged house and noted several other houses had similar holes in them. 'It seems you have not achieved total focus.' he said dryly. 'Perhaps we should move outside of the town. The fewer signs we leave of our presence, the better.'

Monkey Fist nodded curtly and they trooped though the alleys between houses to the rocky areas behind the town. A large cliff wall loomed up behind Basalton a short distance away. 'A moment's pause before we depart.' he said. 'I would like a few more attempts, to refine my control in an open setting before we return to the lair.'

Maze looked around. All was quiet. He could see no sign of any cars on the roads in the distance, and no one else within sight. But his mind was uneasy. The crows perched on the gables and roofs of the houses a short distance away, their rough cawing cries breaking the stillness. They seemed nervous, and consequently, so did he. 'Very well, but be quick.' he said. 'I think we have lingered here too long already....'

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Kim sped down the roads, passing a variety of different country sides. There were pastures surrounded by rock walls, rolling hills in some areas, wooded patches in others, and green mountainsides in others. England had the overall feeling of a geographical quilt. But like a real quilt, the different pieces formed a pleasant and somehow unified whole.

The charm of it was largely lost on Kim at the moment. She was concentrating on driving on the correct side of the road, and also listening for Wade's constant feeding of data, and Grimm's occasional updates. They had reached the area which Wade had identified when he had detected the hijacking of a satellite through the Jammer. But since then he had detected nothing further. And unfortunately, the 'area' was over thirty square kilometers. Kim was anxious and feeling pressured, not sure how long Monkey Fist and Maze might remain in that area, or even whether or not they had already left. She sighed impatiently.

'Don't panic, there are still things we can do to find them.' said Wade reassuringly.

'Then now might be a good time to use them...' Kim said.

There was a buzz from the car speakers and Grimm spoke. 'Yeah, really.' he said. 'I'm not seeing anything unusual so far. You're sure about the coordinates you mapped?' he said.

Wade sounded offended. 'Don't worry, it's good intel.' he said.

'As opposed to the evil intel I normally use...' Grimm said.

'Will you shut up?' Kim snapped. 'That joke is like so played!'

'Oh.' said Grimm, and there was a smirk in his voice as if he had been waiting for Kim to say that. 'Then I guess you and the joke have something in common.'

'Uh, there are only a few towns in the area I mapped out.' said Wade, hastily speaking over Kim's angry growl.

'Fine, let's go with what we know.' said Grimm's. 'You said Monkey Fist and Maze targeted another town - Graniton. Why there?'

'It was a small town.' Kim said. 'Only a few houses and businesses, out of the way and not contacted very often....'

'Something no one would fuss over much if it disappeared.' Grimm said. 'Meaning that Monkey Fist is still trying to avoid drawing too much attention. Do any of the towns in the area we're searching share the same characteristics?'

'There's Basalton.' said Wade, punching keys on his laptop. 'It's a little bigger than Graniton though, nearly double the population. Of course as small as Graniton was, that's not saying much...'

'Basalton's just a few minutes away as the eagle flies, I'll check it out.' said Grimm. 'But in case I'm wrong, keep scanning for other likely targets.' Then the speakers buzzed and went silent.

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Grimm reached Basalton very quickly, making a bee-line straight for it. Even in his haste, he didn't forget his cautionary training. As he saw the town distantly, a small patch of houses amidst a nearly barren countryside, he lowered his altitude and double-checked his stealth mode gauges.

As he drew nearer, he could tell that he'd struck gold. He swooped the bike low and silent over the rooftops, and saw nearly every house had the front door wide open, but there was no sign of anyone on the streets.

His eye caught a dark spiral in the air on the far side of Basalton, and he circled his bike around cautiously. He saw the darkness was actually a flock of black crows circling around, and as he arched his path around the fields outside the city, he saw a number of figures standing in a cluster in the rocky tors between the town and a series of ragged cliffsides, some leading up, others leading down into deep ravines and gullies.

Grimm quickly tapped his helmet comlink. 'They're here.' he said simply, spying the blur of a brown cloak around one of the distant figures. 'How fast can you...'

'Activating booster jets.' said Kim. 'We'll be there in less than four minutes. Anything you can do to keep them distracted until we arrive, go right ahead with it.'

Grimm checked the dashboard to verify that the items Jade had stowed before he went to Middleton were primed and ready. Then he swept back overhead. Two minutes ticked by and he kept a close eye on the figures below. They didn't appear to be getting ready to move. After the third minute, he went into a dive, steering his course right over the figures on the ground.

'All right, shadow-shaman,' Grimm thought. 'Let's see how you like this....'

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Maze had been impatiently watching Monkey Fist cycle through periods of meditation, with periodic fits and starts from his new ability being triggered. He heard several agitated croaks and saw several crows take flight. He looked up at the sky, but saw nothing. 'We are no longer alone, Maokiiwa.' he said quietly.

Monkey Fist nodded. Then he saw something falling down from above, and landing only a few feet away. It looked like a silvery, metallic ball.

'Look out!' Monkey Fist shouted. The ball let out a muffled whump sound and there was a blazing explosion of solid white light.

Maze fell backwards, clutching at his eyes, too late in turning away from the flashbang pod. Monkey Fist reached him and was lifting him up when he saw something else. A streak of garish pink arched from the horizon and down onto the road leading into Basalton. In a few short seconds, a car with what appeared to be jet engines jutting out of the trunk came to a screeching halt, and a figure was racing towards them, her white outfit standing out like a beacon against the stony landscape.

'Kim Possible.' said Monkey Fist, and the annoyance in his voice was plain. 'You really do make even the simplest of tasks into something difficult and irritating.'

'Anything for an old friend, Monty.' she answered, squaring off with him.

Monique and Wade kept their distance, and for the moment Monkey Fist had eyes only for Kim. 'So... what do we do?' Monique whispered.

Wade was looking at the sky nervously. 'Jade was supposed to come here with something to help us in the fight.' he said. 'Fine time to be late!'

'And no sign of Mr. Bad-Boy either.' said Monique. 'Think it was a set-up?'

Wade looked suddenly suspicious. 'I hadn't considered that.' he said. 'This is a mercenary we're talking about....'

Monkey Fist snapped his fingers and nearly twenty statues stumped forward. 'You fled the last time, Possible,' he said, 'And this time the odds are even more slanted in my favor.'

'I'm all about defying the odds!' Kim said, smiling. She had taken in the situation at a glance and saw that Maze was still dazed. At a gesture from Monkey Fist, the statues surged forward.

Kim took a more measured approach than she had last time. She knew she couldn't harm them, but she remembered the statues seemed to take a few seconds to get back to their feet when they were knocked over. She focused on foot sweeps and pivot tosses, trying to keep as many of them off balance as she could. By raising her shield at the same moment as her strikes, she was able to cycle through their numbers, keeping half of them flattened while dueling with the rest.

But her real goal was Monkey Fist, and she needed to get through all of his petrified victims to reach him. While she fought, Monkey Fist ordered some of the remaining statues to guard Maze, and sent the rest to try and outflank Kim by circling around the battle to attack from the other side.

Monique and Wade saw the approaching gang. 'Uh...' said Monique, her hands hanging slack at her sides. 'They're coming closer. Have we got a plan for that?'

'The plan was supposed to be Jade!' Wade said, and he was backing slowly away from the statues. 'None of the stuff I used last time worked on them!'

'Then let's try something a little more low-tech.' said Monique, joining him in stepping backwards.

'Such as....?'

'Run!!!'

Monkey Fist was momentarily distracted by the sight of a pair of retreating figures. He saw them vanish behind one of the houses. 'So, Possible - you didn't come alone.' he thought. He circled around the battle and ordered the other statues to pursue them, and they lumbered towards Basalton.

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While the fight raged around him, Maze knelt on the rocky ground, blinking and shaking his head. Slowly his vision began to clear and the starbursts in front of his eyes subsided. He got to his feet and lifted his staff, catching a fuzzy and unclear view of the battle.

The statues were fighting Kim, and she was holding them off while Monkey Fist directed them. They seemed to be paying no heed to Maze. He gripped his staff and concentrated, focusing on the shadows of the nearby cliffs while keeping Kim in his sight. He needed only to take control of her and the fight was theirs...

Sipimottakiksi, Sipimottakiksi,
Nikaahtomaana nitaanistsi'toyiiwa....

Even as he chanted, Maze saw a distorted, ripping blur which weaved through his petrified guards and flashed in front of him. He fell back with a cry, tumbling across the dusty ground. He tried struggling to his feet, but something lashed across his waist. Before he could react, he was sailing upwards towards the top of the rocky cliff, a dizzying rise of nearly forty feet.

Kim saw what looked like a bundle of brown rags soaring up, and knew it was Maze. She gritted her teeth as she fought. It looked like Grimm had cornered Maze at last. She desperately wanted to leave the fight and follow after Grimm, because she didn't trust him to question Maze without resorting to violence.

But the statues were relentless, and there were more of them than there were last time. It was all she could do to fend them off. She resigned herself to the fact that Grimm would have an unrestrained hand just like he wanted. 'Don't make me regret this!' she thought.

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Maze was thrown down in another rolling tumble, coming to a stop several feet from the edge of the small cliff. The rippling shape in front of him darkened, and he saw a boy wearing a black suit with glowing orange bands standing before him.

'Otaatoyiwa.' said Maze, wincing as he fought to rise up. He gripped his staff, trying to raise it.

Grimm darted forward and kicked. The staff spun away several feet. 'It's time we had a chat, Sskipoyiwa.' he growled. 'Away from prying eyes and away from your guard dogs.' He walked around until Maze was between him and the cliffside.

Maze glanced around, but there was no way around him. 'Well - here I am.' he said mockingly. 'What troubles the mind of the cunning fox?'

Grimm pushed Maze a foot back, closer to the cliff edge. 'I want you to bring Rhonda back.' he said.

Maze laughed. 'Impossible.' he said. 'Just as you did back at Kwitcherbeliakin, you have journeyed a long way to accomplish nothing.'

'It's not impossible!' Grimm shouted. 'You banished her - you can call her back!'

'And why would I?' Maze said. 'I swore I would make her pay when she stole the power of the Great Bear from my very grasp!'

'Rhonda didn't steal anything.' Grimm snarled. 'The Great Bear chose her because even he couldn't stand you!'

Maze sputtered a string of guttural syllables, a look of pure rage on his face. 'Watch your mouth!' said Grimm. 'And stop looking around for help! Your statues won't get here in time to save you, and you can't work your shadow magic as long as I can stop you from chanting. If you want to walk away from this, you'll have to deal with me.'

'And if I refuse?' said Maze, then he lurched back almost to the edge of the cliff as Grimm pushed him again.

'Then you'd better hope you can raise your shadow barrier in two and a half seconds.' he said, smirking. 'Because you'll hit the bottom of that cliff in three.'

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Monique lost track of how many houses she weaved around, dashed through and threaded between. She and Wade had become separated in their dash through the Basalton streets. She hoped he was all right, and figured he had enough experience on missions with Kim that he was better off than she was.

'Some sidekick.' she thought. 'Run? Was that the best I could come up with?' But she reasoned that at least she had drawn some of the statues away from the fight, meaning Kim didn't have to face the whole army of them by herself. 'What could I do to beat up a statue anyway?'

After a harrowing few minutes of cat-and-mouse with her pursuers, she looked behind her and could see no one. 'Lost 'em!' she thought. 'You go, girl!' Then she looked in front of her and saw that she was back where she had started, just outside the town and looking at Kim fighting the other statues. She seemed to be doing all right, though it also seemed she was only just staying ahead of being dog-piled. She caught a fleeting glimpse of Rufus dangling half out of her hip pouch.

Then she slowly looked to the side, and realized that Monkey Fist was standing only a few feet away from her. Monique felt a cold chill as Monkey Fist's attention was drawn away from the battle and he turned his gray eyes on her. 'Well...' he said with a voice both curious and amused. 'This is something new. I wasn't aware the cheer squad had a second string.'

'Uh...' said Monique, looking wildly around. 'I'm more like their fashion consultant.'

'Truly?' said Monkey Fist, seeming amused. 'What a shame. I find I have little use for fashion these days - I'm into function rather than form.'

Monique winced. 'May as well make a good showing.' she thought. Then with her best kung-fu yell, she lashed out with her fist. Pain exploded in her fingers at the impact. It was like punching a brick wall. Monkey Fist didn't even flinch, still looking at her with an amused smirk.

'Ow!' said Monique, staggering backwards and clutching her agonized hand. 'Ow, ow, ow!'

Monkey Fist mimed a yawn. 'Obviously you don't do this very often.' he said. 'Too bad for you.'

Monique turned and dashed away from him, hoping to draw him away from Kim and lose him in Basalton as she had with the other statues. She chose a different path though, coming to the end of one house in the lane.

But she stopped suddenly, looking down a sheer cliff. She stood in amazement, looking at the house, the backyard seeming to end at the cliffside. 'What kind of idiot builds a house on the edge of a cliff?' she thought. She turned to head back another way, but there was a flash of yellow light, and Monkey Fist was suddenly standing right in front of her.

'Possible seems to be slipping.' said Monkey Fist calmly, the glow fading. 'I would have expected her to bring along someone a little more competent and a little less cowardly. Then again, she did put up with the buffoon for all that time. I suppose you're merely buffoon 2.0.'

Monique stumbled as her heel slipped against the edge of the cliff, sending a shower of pebbles falling into the abyss. She put her hands up, smiling weakly while her heart pounded in fear. 'Come on,' she said. 'Can't we all just... get along?'

'My dear girl,' said Monkey Fist, shaking his head. 'I once ordered my monkey ninjas to throw a baby into a pool of molten lava along with the buffoon and a sack of flour. What do you think I'll do to you?'

Before Monique could answer, Monkey Fist had her collar in his grip and was hoisting her up, extending his arm over the edge. Monique looked down and immediately knew why people who were traversing great heights were advised not to look. Her vision swam and the ground far below seemed to be sinking down even further as she panicked. She looked into Monkey Fist's pitiless face.

'I would say, choose your friends more wisely next time, but... well.' he said. Then he pushed out and cast her over the edge.

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Kim heard a shrill scream and saw Monique falling over the edge. 'No!' she shouted. She activated her booster soles and sailed up and over the statues, catching a fleeting glimpse of Monkey Fist staring balefully at her. Then she was falling over the cliff herself, firing her grapple line downwards and to the side. She saw Monique, a flailing figure spiraling towards the rocky ground below.

Her line went taut and she eased into her swing, using her booster soles to speed her descent. She shot below Monique and reached out her arm.

'Go limp - I've got you!' she shouted, feeling Monique still struggling in her arms. She pulled on the line and felt her arm strain, but she gritted her teeth and ignored the pain. The fall shifted from down to sideways as they reached the base of their swing, skimming along mere inches above the ground and at the end of the arc, Kim retracted the line and they both came to a skidding stop near the base of the cliff wall.

Monique was panting and shivering, looking around like she could hardly believe her eyes, and she sank to her knees.

'Are you all right?' Kim said, kneeling in front of her and putting a hand on her shoulder.

Monique waved, nodding her head feebly as she took in another breath. 'Yeah - fine.' she said, though her voice shook. 'Just... give him one from me.'

Kim glared back up to the top of the cliff. 'You got it.' she said. 'Stay here Mon, you've earned a break.'

Monique looked up as Kim launched her grapple line again and began ascending back up the cliff wall. Once she was out of sight, Monique buried her face in her hands. 'Yeah... some sidekick...' she thought.

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saving monique

Monkey Fist saw a white flash as Kim threw herself over the cliff after her friend. He scowled and considered jumping down after them. But he glanced back and saw Maze was gone. He looked around, then up, and saw him standing near the edge of another cliff further up the rise. He also saw a black silhouette standing behind Maze - a figure with spiked auburn hair.

'Probable?' he thought, his eyes narrowing. 'Working with Possible? We can't have that!' Several statues were plodding up the pathway leading to the cliff, but it was clear that their ascent would take time.

He concentrated, going through his meditation routines, and felt the sensation of lightness again. He maintained his focus and leaned forward, speeding across the ground and up the winding slope of the cliff towards Maze.

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'I'm waiting!' said Grimm, looking as menacing as he could. 'Bring Rhonda back or I'll send you to join her without your body!'

Maze looked at him as if considering. Then at last he spoke. 'The truth would cause you tremendous pain Otaatoyiwa.' he said with a strange smile. 'So I do not mind sharing it with you. The shadow-medicine which banished Katasistsikoowa cannot be undone. Even if I wanted to, I could not return her to this world.'

grimm vs maze

The attack came so swiftly that Maze barely saw it. He had no time to raise the shadow-barrier. In a blur of strikes, Grimm swept his feet out from under him and struck him hard, sending him sprawling backwards and nearly over the edge. Grimm had him by the throat barely an instant later, his face twisted with rage. 'You're lying!' he snarled, his fist raised to strike again.

Maze did not blench, but looked defiantly back at Grimm, a smile lurking behind the pain as he winced and growled back at him. 'Look into my eyes, Otaatoyiwa - I cannot bring them back!'

Grimm stared into the fathomless pools of Maze's eyes. And try as he might, he could find no deception in them. His face fell in stricken denial, his grip on Maze's cloak slackened.

There was a yellow flash as Monkey Fist charged from the left, plowing into Grimm and sending him reeling. Grimm rolled and got up again, limping slightly. Monkey Fist raised Maze back to his feet and smiled at Grimm. 'So sorry I was late.' he said. Grimm went into a fighting stance, and Monkey Fist chuckled. 'I suggest you stand down, Probable. I have no wish to harm you.'

'You can go if you want to.' said Grimm. 'But Maze's not walking away from this.'

'I rather think he will, Probable.' said Monkey Fist. 'No offense to your tenacity, but my plans for global domination depend on his assistance.'

Grimm advanced with his arms poised. 'Then we've got a problem.' he said.

Monkey Fist went into a mirror stance. 'I see no problem.' he said. 'But by all means, make the first move if you wish.'

Grimm charged forward and Monkey Fist was ready to block him, but at the last moment Grimm pivoted and spun around Monkey Fist in a graceful side-step. He leaped at Maze, who raised his staff.

But before Grimm reached him, he stopped in mid-leap. Monkey Fist's fingers were curled around his ankle and he turned, swinging Grimm around in a sweeping toss. Grimm neatly landed in a handspring and rolled to his feet, turning to face them again. Monkey Fist sank into a crouch, smiling and twitching his fingers at him.

Grimm frowned and charged again. He knew Monkey Fist wouldn't fall for a feint twice in a row. They clashed in a series of strikes and blocks. The battle-suit gave Grimm a much better edge than when they had fought in the UNIT labs, though his blows still seemed ineffectual against Monkey Fist. But as Monkey Fist struck back, he was glad for the suit's shield capabilities.

There was a flash of orange and his fist was halted in mid-flight. He struggled to punch through, but his arm was held back with several sparking flashes. 'How original.' said Monkey Fist dryly. 'I see you haven't changed from your time as my trainee. Always taking other people's ideas and trying to make them your own!'

'No, I just make them better.' Grimm said. The shield dropped and he activated his booster soles, leaping over Monkey Fist and straight down at Maze. But he saw Maze chanting, and as he descended, he saw a thin bubble like misty shadow surrounding him.

Grimm landed on a barrier of darkness that covered Maze like a dome. He rolled with the impact, getting to his feet on the rocky ground, then he struck at the shadow barrier several times with his fists. From within the barrier, Maze stared out at him, smirking.

'You are not the only one who has the means to protect himself, Otaatoyiwa.' he said.

Grimm snarled. The fight had given Maze enough time to raise his barrier, and he knew he couldn't get through it with physical strength. He moved back and held up his right arm, activating a module within the suit. The material and micro-circuitry around his hand warped and transformed, forming a protrusion similar to a gun barrel. He remembered when Jade had modified the suit after they got home from the Zorpox incident.

'Really, G-man, that hand thingy has got to go!' she had said.

'Why?' he answered. 'It captures incoming energy attacks and lets the person throw it back at the user. You know my modus operandi - I could go for that.'

'It looks like you're playing jai-ali in the world of TRON.' Jade sniffed. 'Besides, most of your enemies expect the 'turnabout' thing from you. It'll be more practical if you can generate your own energy attacks and throw 'em for a loop!'

'So what are you suggesting?' said Grimm.

Jade rubbed her hands together. 'Something Obi-Wan would call 'clumsy and random'.'

Grimm took careful aim with the hand module and fired. Jade had called it a 'Needler', which could fire an energy pulse strong enough to stun a fully grown man on the spot. A pencil-thin beam of glowing orange struck the shadow barrier, but the beam exploded in a flash of light, unable to penetrate the shadows. Grimm fired again and again, circling the shadow barrier, but although Maze flinched on the first shot, he seemed to gain confidence. He actually laughed on seeing Grimm's frustrated efforts.

Grimm paused, stymied, and not sure what to do next. Then he saw a movement of something gray from off to the side. He raised his shield just before Monkey Fist slammed into it. He dug his heels into the rocky ground, being slowly pushed back.

'Enough, Probable!' Monkey Fist said, his face looking angry. 'You were a promising student, but you have no chance against our combined power!'

'You didn't have to take Rhonda!' he hissed. 'We would have helped you!'

'Grow up!' Monkey Fist said. 'It was nothing personal!'

'You made it personal!' Grimm shouted. Then he lowered the shield and copied one of Rhonda's judo tosses, thinking it appropriate to use them against the ones who had banished her. Monkey Fist was flung forward and crashed into a nearby boulder. But he was up only a second later, and the two continued their duel.

They ranged back and forth for several minutes. Grimm was unable to harm Monkey Fist, but Monkey Fist seemed unable to break the battle-suit's shield and the fight seemed to be going nowhere. Until Grimm heard Monkey Fist chanting softly from within the shadow-barrier.

Sipimottakiksi, Sipimottakiksi,
Nikaahtomaana nimaataakaniiwa!

And Grimm saw his own vision dimming. A misty dome of shadow was covering him. He threw his shoulder against the barrier, but it seemed just as solid to him from within as Maze's had been from the outside. He hammered against it, but there was no give or any discernable holes.

Monkey Fist stepped back, regarding Grimm as he fought against the shadow-barrier. He turned to Maze, who was emerging from his own protective dome. 'Well done.' said Maze, looking at Grimm as if he were an exhibit in a zoo. 'Your battle provided the distraction I needed to use the shadows as a reverse prison.'

Monkey Fist nodded 'And your barrier should hold this troublesome fly still long enough for me to deliver the coup de grace.' He stared at Grimm and said. 'Probable - your interference is making me hate you!' He held up his arm, and the mark of the Yono on the back of his hand glowed a piercing yellow.

Grimm saw a burst of light. He diverted all the suit's power to the shield, but the destructive blast still burst it open like a plastic bubble. He felt strain and pressure on each of his limbs. He was flung backwards, landing and tumbling across the dusty, rocky ground until he came to a stop near the cliff edge.

Monkey Fist sighed, the weariness that came when he used his powers was still strong, but he resisted it with effort. 'Well,' he said. 'That should do it. Let us return to the battle below. There is still Kim Possible to deal with.'

He and Maze turned to leave, but Maze halted, feeling something around his ankle. Grimm had crawled forward, his eyes nearly shut with pain, and a streak of wetness rolling down his cheek. His suit sparked in places, though the nano-fibers were already knitting together in others. Grimm looked up at the shadow-shaman, his body trembling, his teeth gritted.

'Please...!' he grated. 'I need her back...!'

Maze sneered and kicked, sending Grimm rolling to his side with a sharp groan. Grimm leaned, trying to struggle to his feet, but stopped as he felt a sharp point at his throat. Maze had taken his staff, and was holding the clawed tip down like a spear. He stared down at Grimm, and there was triumph on his face at the sight of his enemy lying helpless at his feet. 'Is this what it means to love, Otaatoyiwa?' he said, his eyes glittering. 'To be so dependent on the mere presence of another person that without them you crumble into dust? If that is the weakness which love engenders - then you can keep it!'

He kicked him again, and Grimm laid face down in the dirt, his hands clenched and his head bowed. Monkey Fist paused as Maze joined him on the path leading down to the main battle. 'It would be a simple matter to finish him.' he said casually.

'Leave him.' said Maze, and the contempt and satisfaction in his voice was palpable. 'His spirit and his heart are broken. And I have no wish to end his suffering.' Then he turned and strode down the path, his cloak billowing behind him.

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Wade puffed and heaved as he struggled to keep ahead of the advancing statues. He had made it out of Basalton and was near the base of another cliff wall. It wasn't too high, but certainly nothing that he could scale without a grapple line. 'This is whack!' he thought. 'I should be at home drinking a soda right now, not running for my life from a gang of walking statues!'

He risked a look behind him and wished that he hadn't. It was just like a cheesy horror movie where the hero spent hours running from the killer, only to look behind them and find the killer was still right there.

Wade saw at least three pairs of stone hands reaching out for him and hid his eyes. There was a weird squelching, splattering sound and he flinched. But the expected pain didn't come. He slowly opened one eye, then the other, and instead of the approaching statues, he saw a greyish-white mass. A stone hand was poking out of what looked like a blob of expanding foam. The hand groped and snatched at Wade, but the foam seemed to be restraining it.

'You just can't stay out of trouble, can you Wadey?'

Wade looked up. Silhouetted against the cloudy sky was a hovering disk-shaped platform. It looked like one of the turbines that was attached to the Ksikkihkíni, but there was no vehicle, only a steering column. And standing on the platform was a skinny girl with an Asian complexion and her hair pulled into two ponytails. She was wearing elbow and kneepads, and a pair of laboratory goggles were pushed up on her forehead. A bulky pack was strapped onto her back, and a tube led from the pack to a large gun which was slung onto her shoulder.

Jade stared down at him with a superior smirk as she cocked the gun and fired. Wade instinctively ducked, but the whitish mass the gun fired from it's blunderbuss-style barrel splattered against another statue, which had been advancing from the side. The gooey substance seemed like paint at first, but it inflated and expanded until it became a thick, rubbery cocoon.

'How 'bout a lift?' she said, tipping her goggles.

'Not arguing.' said Wade, stepping away from the statue, which flailed and twisted in it's pillowy prison.

The hovering platform lowered and Jade grinned, looking over the trapped statues and seeming exceptionally smug. 'You can ride shotgun, Wadey,' she said, tossing him the gun. 'Steering this thing while shooting can be a pain!'

Wade saw another approaching clutch of statues and hastily clambered onto the platform. He was embarrassed, because there were no straps or restraints that he could see, and he had to put an arm around Jade's waist to hold onto anything.

'Fresh!' she said playfully, and Wade almost let go in his shyness, but as the platform shot up and the ground became distant, he gritted his teeth and held on even tighter, fumbling to keep a firm hold on the gun.

Jade swooped down and lowered, going into a spinning sweep just above the ground through the midst of a group of ten statues. Wade took the hint and fired. He managed to hit two of the statues, which were quickly enveloped in the sticky foam which expanded into an orb-like mass in which they twitched helplessly. Jade laughed high and shrill, her voice sounding exhilarated. 'Stick around, guys!' she squealed.

wade and jade

'What is this thing?' Wade said over the wind which whistled past his ears. He gripped hard again as Jade spun the platform around like a top, arching by for another pass at the statues.

'Isn't it great?' Jade said. 'It fires a mass of expanding pellets with self-adhesive properties, similar to Dementor's Bond-O balls! The foam is strong enough to hold the target in place, but pliable enough that they can't tear it or break it - I call it the Moo Goo Guy Gun!'

Wade winced, but took careful aim and struck another statue in the chest, watching as it struggled and flailed in it's attempts to wrench free of the foam. 'Didn't you rip off the idea from The Incredibles?' he shouted.

Jade shrugged. 'Hey, a good idea is a good idea.' she said, and she whooped loudly as Wade hit another statue. 'Man, if I'd known field work was this much fun I'd have stepped out ages ago!'

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Monkey Fist stared up at the darting and wheeling platform, then down at the statues which were trapped and helpless. Maze also reached the bottom of the cliff path and looked at what was happening. He glared angrily. 'Do something!' he said.

Monkey Fist spied a pile of loose boulders and rocks at the base of the cliff, a jumbled mass formed by untold years of erosion. He selected one that was nearly half his own size and hefted it. 'It's been a while since my college days,' he said. 'But let us see if I can still do shotput...'

He spun in place, heaved and thrust out his arm. The boulder soared up, heading straight at the hover platform.

Jade was still whooping as she spun in place about ten feet from the ground, letting Wade rain shots from the Moo Goo Guy Gun down on the statues which milled beneath them, but were unable to reach them. They had plastered nearly ten of them, effectively removing them from the fight.

Wade hated to admit it, but the gun seemed to be just the thing to counter the statues strength and durability. He was selecting another target and was just about to ask Jade how many shots the gun could make before running out. But he saw a swift, approaching shadow and gasped.

'Jade, look out!'

Jade saw it barely an instant after Wade did. She tilted the platform and leaned the repulsion field so it pointed out at the approaching boulder. It worked in that the boulder was reflected, but at the same time, the repulsion from a much closer object sent a sudden burst of acceleration into the disc and the platform spun out of control.

Unable to hold on, Wade felt himself fly off, and also felt the tube connecting the gun to the pack on Jade's back tear in half, the gun still firm in his grip.

They both landed and tumbled on the ground, the hover platform banged and clattered, the steering column snapping off while the disc hummed loudly for a moment and then fell silent.

Groaning, Wade leaned up and saw Monkey Fist and Maze standing in front of them. Jade sat up, her goggles askew, inspecting several scrapes and cuts on her palms and arms. 'Ow...' she said. 'That tanked.'

'You have no idea.' said Monkey Fist, glaring down at the two. Statues were walking slowly up behind them.

'Yo, Monty.' said Jade, sitting up and pushing her goggles back. 'Long time no see!' Monkey Fist started at her, his eyebrow raised. 'Oh that's right, we've never met.' Jade said. Then she popped loose a smaller protrusion from her backpack, which looked like a pistol-sized version of the larger gun. A stream of the white goo splattered on Monkey Fist's head and he reeled back, scrabbling at his face.

Wade almost laughed, because it soon looked as if Monkey Fist was staggering around with a giant marshmallow around his head. Wade pulled Jade forward and dashed madly towards the town, ducking around one of the houses behind the outskirts of Basalton.

They panted, peeking around the corner, but Monkey Fist was still struggling to pull the foam off while Maze was looking at him as if not sure what to do, and the statues were all standing still as if waiting for orders. 'You got the big one?' Jade said.

'Yeah,' said Wade, hefting the larger Moo Goo Guy Gun.

'We need to fix it.' she said, unslinging the pack from her shoulders and letting it fall with a thunk onto the porch of the house where they stood. 'The Moo Goo Guy pistol doesn't generate enough volume to stop a full sized statue.'

'Got any tools?' said Wade, looking at the torn tube leading into the gun stock and the torn tube meant to connect it to the tank.

Jade looked flustered. 'Uh.... they were all on the hover platform.' she said.

Wade checked his belt pouches, but all the items in them were geared for working with circuitry, not plumbing. He turned his eyes to the surrounding vacant houses. 'Better rustle up some duct tape then.' he said.

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Maze watched in surprise and shock as the strange white substance encased the head of his ally. And as he tried to think of a way to remove it, other thoughts raced into his mind. 'How did they find us? How did they know we would be here? And how did they develop these weapons?'

Monkey Fist soon raised a hand, gesturing Maze to stand back. Maze moved away from him, confused. Monkey Fist's hands were clenched and his body trembled while the mark of the Yono flared on his hand.

A yellow explosion of light burst around him. The foam covering his head flew apart, but he also seemed to lose balance, falling backwards clumsily. He was struggling to his feet a second later, looking furious. He seemed ready to return to the battle, but Maze held out his staff.

We must go.' he said. 'Quickly - before they call in any others.'

Monkey Fist nodded resentfully. 'I'm too weak now to destroy whatever they used on our servants.' he said. 'We'll have to take them back to the lair as they are and have the others carry them.' Maze nodded and snapped his fingers. Several of the statues came to him and they moved towards the others who were trapped in foam and standing out on the rocky plain like bizarre mushrooms.

There was a sudden ripple, then a flash of white. Kim Possible emerged from her stealth mode and charged from the side, heading straight at Maze. Kim had reached the top of the cliff after seeing to Monique, and seen Wade and Jade's fight against the statues and their flight from Monkey Fist after the crash.

But seeing Maze and Monkey Fist together troubled her. Whatever had happened between Maze and Grimm, it looked as if Grimm had failed. She made a mental note to gloat about it later as she quickly dropped into stealth mode and moved into position. If she could capture Maze, she could take him to Global Justice for questioning.

But as she reached for him, Monkey Fist leaned and darted in, taking the blow that was intended for Maze. 'Keep gathering our servants!' he called to Maze. 'I will handle her!'

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Grimm remained on the top of the cliff, looking down at the battle. To his eyes it was now nothing but meaningless bustle. The fight no longer mattered - nothing mattered. He was sure Maze wasn't lying. His last plan for bringing Rhonda back had failed, had been a failure from the very start. There was no hope of ever returning her to the world, no hope of ever seeing her again....

'Is this what it means to love? To be so dependent on the mere presence of another that without them you crumble into dust?'

Dust and ashes. The Great Bear was ignoring him. Maze's curse could not be broken. There was no point to anything he tried anymore. Even if they won the battle, it would accomplish nothing. All was dust and ashes.

He gritted his teeth. Then he took off his pack and opened it, easing Rueful out onto the ground. 'Get back to the bike, little guy.' he said. 'Hit the emergency auto-pilot and it'll take you back home.' Rueful cocked his head, and squeaked in confusion.

'Go on, move.' he said. 'There's something I need to do.' And Rueful looked even more confused as Grimm ran down the path leading to the battle.

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Rhonda stared out at the endless void that surrounded her and Ron. 'Ok....' she said to Ron. 'I spy... with my little eye.... something.... curly.'

'Ooooh! Ooooh!' said Ron, shaking his hands eagerly. 'Is it weird spirit misty stuff?'

Rhonda grimaced. 'Not again!' she said, looking frustrated. 'That's the fifth time in a row! Let's play something else, there's nothing BUT weird spirit misty stuff here!'

Then she gasped. Sudden and unexpected, the mists around her seemed to fade and she was standing in what looked like a rocky landscape. Everything seemed somehow colorless, blurred and out of focus. She looked around wildly, wondering if she was about to see Grimm again, but there was no sign of him. Even Ron seemed to have faded from view.

Then there was a chittering squeal, and a flash of slithering brown fur darted past her, scurrying down some kind of path. 'Rueful!' she shouted, and to her surprise, the weasel stopped, nearly rolling over and looked straight at her. A joyed expression seemed to break over Rueful's fuzzy face and he scampered towards her, his whiskers twitching.

Rhonda held out her hands to catch him, but he passed through her as if she were made of smoke. They reached out to each other, trying several times to touch, but paws and hands met and passed through with no more substance than the air around them. But Rhonda broke into sudden tears. To have someone, anyone, able to see her was a joy to her. She knelt down in front of the weasel, trying in vain to pet him.

'Can you see me Rueful? Can you?' she said, and Rueful nodded eagerly, chittering with excitement. Then suddenly he straightened up and turned, pointing desperately down the path he had been following. He jumped, circled and squealed, gesturing for her to follow.

Rhonda was almost afraid to move, afraid that something would break the spell that was allowing this miraculous contact with her pet, but at his continued urging, she took some hesitant steps and followed after him. Her vision did not fade, and taking courage, she shadowed Rueful down the path....

- + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - +

Kim blocked, struck and feinted, but Monkey Fist would not fall. Their duel continued until several statues came forward at his command to engage her. Distracted by the reinforcements, she deflected their attacks. A beeping from her wrist sounded and with a glance, she saw the energy levels in her suit were in the red. Soon the power would be gone, and her only edge in the fight would be removed.

Monkey Fist stepped back to where Maze stood directing the statues. Most were holding back, and from the outlying fields, several others were drawing near, dragging the foam-encased victims of the Moo Goo Guy Gun behind them.

'We have a problem.' said Monkey Fist. 'We'll be ready to leave in a moment, but we can't with Possible interfering. I'm too weak to unleash the power of destruction again.'

'Can you turn her to stone?' Maze said, taking a metal brand from his pouch and tying it around his palm.

Monkey Fist shook his head. 'I could only manage one more, and I can't guarantee she won't avoid it. We need something to occupy her while we make our escape.'

He quickly braced himself. Kim had darted around and through the attacking statues as if they weren't even moving. Her blow combined with her shield and sent him tumbling backwards. Maze hastily retreated into the midst of several statues as Kim and Monkey Fist squared off again.

'You'll pay dearly for your interference, Possible!' Monkey Fist shouted.

  spark

'Now that's the banter I know and love.' said Kim, smiling. It looked as if Monkey Fist was tired, if that was possible for a statue. But she gathered that the constant use of his powers and the prolonged fight had taken a toll on him, and he was not as unbeatable as it had seemed back at his mansion.

Then to her surprise, Monkey Fist sat down in what looked like a meditation pose. 'Focus.' he thought. 'You are too weak to unleash destruction - focus and calm....'

'Hello?' said Kim, edging towards him. 'We're not done yet Monkey Fist, you can nap later in Cell Block D!'

But she tensed up, seeing a yellow glow surrounding Monkey Fist. He seemed to be rising up from the ground, and with a shock, Kim remembered the battle at Yamanouchi. The Destroyer rising up and moving like a flash to stop her and Yori from striking.

Monkey Fist suddenly sped forward like a rocket, still in his ridiculous meditation pose. The dust on the ground parted beneath him like the passing of a great wind.

She raised her shield and cartwheeled at the same time. Monkey Fist struck a glancing blow against the shield and with her unerring sense of balance, Kim pirouetted in mid-air and landed firmly on her feet several meters away.

But Monkey Fist plowed into her again like a piledriver, moving with the same unearthly speed. His momentum carried him too far, and he crashed into a large boulder, crumbling it into fragments. He crawled and stumbled out, climbing awkwardly to his feet.

Stars were still flashing behind Kim's eyes, combined with a loss of orientation from the force of the blow. She tried to get to her feet, but stumbled and fell to the side. She raised her shield, but it sputtered, flickered and died out.

Monkey Fist's eyes blazed. A twin pair of yellow beams lanced towards her, and there was nothing she could do to dodge them. Then suddenly the world upended around her again, her view spun crazily as she felt a sharp pain in her ribs.

'Grimm - no!' Rhonda screamed. Her vision of Grimm was no longer a mere window of mist through which she was peering. It was like she was there on the battlefield, although everything was blurred and indistinct around her. She saw Grimm rush forward, and knew what he was about to do.

Grimm darted out of nowhere, knocking Kim roughly aside and out of the path of the beams. But doing so left him with no way to avoid them himself. The yellow light struck him, washing over him and surrounding him. A sensation of numbness crept from the ends of his limbs and worked quickly over his whole body. He saw his hands, and they were turning grey and rough.

'I'm sorry Rhonda...' he thought, 'I couldn't save you. It's better not to feel anything....'

For a brief instant he imagined he could see Rhonda running towards him, her hand outstretched. Then the yellow light overwhelmed all his vision. Rhonda cried out to him again as her view of the events began to fade back into swirling dark mists. The numbness overcame Grimm completely, then there was nothing.

Kim heaved painfully to her feet and stared in amazement. Grimm had saved her - pushing her out of the way and taking the attack that was meant for her. He stood petrified, his whole body grey and stony, his face frozen in an expression that was both resigned and sad.

With his cloak billowing behind him like the wings of a bat, Maze surged forward and clamped his hand on Grimm's. Maze chanted, there was a hiss, a plume of smoke, and then he fell backward, sinking to his knees while Monkey Fist stood forward to lift him back up.

Breathing hard, Maze looked at Kim with a gleam of pure malevolence. 'Otaatoyiwa,' he said, smiling wickedly, 'destroy Mi'kksiistsikomma!'

The statue of Grimm stood straight and looked over his shoulder towards Kim. Then he turned and charged towards her, his feet shaking the ground, his sad expression replaced with a grimacing snarl...

      grimm defeat    
                       
   
Coming Soon:
Chapter 17

What is the secret of the statues?

Author: OK, some of the riddles I used for previous chapters were easy, some tricky. This one will either be a doozy or a 'chestnut', depending on your point of view. So riddle me this: What is the secret of the statues?

I've dropped hints and clues throughout the story like bread crumbs, both in the text and in the pictures. If you've got a ready mind and know your stuff, then you may have figured out the answer already. If you have, then you know what they are and how they are made. If not - well, the answer will be the title of the next chapter :) Good luck!

 

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