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

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

Chapter 17:
Golems
Or: Well Emet Indeed

Grimm was charging forward, his hands outstretched to seize Kim. She spared one split second to look at the readout on the back of her palm. Tiny blue letters read: 'Shield charging...' next to a blinking red lightning bolt.

'Great.' she thought. Even as Grimm reached her, she spun and pivoted. She side-stepped Grimm, who surged past her, and she lashed out with a kick that landed firmly in his back.

Grimm stumbled and crashed into one of the larger boulders that littered the plain outside of Basalton. There was a booming crash and large cracks spread out through the boulder along with a cloud of dust. But Grimm turned around at once, seemingly unharmed, and charged at her yet again. He crouched down and launched into a high leap, his fist raised to strike.

But Kim had already tumbled out of the way and his blow left a large crater where she had been standing. She could feel the shockwave from the force of the punch as they both righted themselves and faced off. The shield was still recharging, but there were still other functions in her suit. She activated her hand module, moving it to block Grimm's next punch. She wasn't sure it would work - the module was designed to capture and reflect energy attacks. But she hoped that also included kinetic energy.

Grimm's punch hit squarely in the center of the module's receiving pad, and seemed to stop. He fought to keep moving forward, but was unable to move his fist any closer. 'Grimm - snap out of it!' she shouted. But Grimm's face showed no sign that he even heard her. Just as Kim was preparing to twist aside, she saw a flash of pink crawling up her arm.

Rufus scampered up and leaped over, landing on Grimm's arms. His teeth flashed and he bit, but at once his eyes flew wide and he yelped, jumping up and down and holding his teeth. 'Mm-hmm! Hard!' he squealed.

Kim considered pulling him back into her hip pouch, but figured the naked mole rat would be much safer away from her than close to her. Grimm was raising his other hand to strike. 'Find Wade!' she grunted. Rufus nodded and leaped off of Grimm's arm.

As Grimm punched, Kim tucked and rolled, planting her feet into his gut and activating her booster soles. There was a quavering hiss as the soles activated and she felt the tremendous weight of Grimm's stone body as she kicked. But the soles propelled Grimm nearly twenty feet in a stiff tumble in which he crashed into the ground and slid forward, leaving a ten-foot gouge in the earth before pinging off several boulders like a skittle ball.

She glanced quickly aside and saw Rufus scampering towards the houses that were near the edge of Basalton. Then she saw a dark shadow above her and rolled quickly aside. A five foot square boulder crashed into the ground where she had been standing, breaking into several smaller pieces. She backed up nearer to one of the houses as she saw another large rock flying at her, hurled by Grimm, who hefted and tossed it as easily as a medicine ball. Again she dodged, and the boulder bounced and tumbled, plowing straight through the wall of the house.

Kim winced. Fighting Grimm as a statue was much different than fighting the other statues had been. While the statues which were the petrified victims of Monkey Fist seemed slow and clumsy, Grimm seemed to have kept most of his agility. He still seemed to be using Tai Sheng Pek Kwar and he continued to attack Kim without letup or regard for any punishment he took. And as she saw the shattered wall and the caved in living room behind her, she knew Grimm wasn't fooling around - he was fighting with lethal force.

She tried to analyze it clinically - maybe the Grimm statue was fighting with more skill and speed because Grimm himself had been trained that way. Perhaps he had a natural aptitude for hand to hand combat and attacks which the other petrified victims of Maze and Monkey Fist simply didn't have.

She picked up a pry bar which was leaning against a tool shed in the backyard of the house as Grimm rushed towards her. She swung with all her strength and felt a jarring impact along with a ringing metallic clank, but again Grimm seemed totally unaffected. She dropped the bar, which was now bent in the middle and readied for another pivot maneuver.

But she ducked with a sudden gasp. Grimm did not try to seize her this time, but lashed out with a kick that nearly took her head off. As she ducked, Grimm twisted and managed to close one hand over her shoulder with a crushingly powerful grip. Kim grimaced, bracing herself against him and raising both feet into his chest, activating her booster soles again. But this time, despite the pressure, Grimm kept a firm hold on her, his other hand clamping down on her other shoulder.

Then he was racing forward. She looked behind her and saw they were heading for the wall of one of the houses. She tried to twist free, but his grip was too strong. She gritted her teeth, smacking the display on the back of her palm and felt a surge of relief through her panic as the readout indicated the shield had minimum charge.

The shield bubbled out just as they crashed into the wall and Kim felt the wall splintering behind her back. She had a blurry glimpse of a cozy, but sparsely furnished living room before Grimm plowed through the side wall, through the yard and into the wall of another house, blasting through them as if they were made of popsicle sticks.

Kim kept trying to squirm free, but as they burst through the other wall of the second house, Kim felt the rush of open air and a strange quiet was around her. She looked down and saw nothing but a dizzying fall. They had gone over a cliffside just outside the last house.

As they both fell, she saw Grimm's fist cocked for another punch, his face still grimacing at her in stony rage. She wrenched and slid out of his other clenched hand, then deflected his punch as best she could. He was much stronger, and his blow powered through her block, but she altered herself and used his solidity as a lever to turn herself out of the brunt of his attack.

He grasped at her shoulder and she tried to pry him loose, but his fingers felt immovable. She saw the ground beneath them approaching rapidly. She checked the power gauge on her shield again - still low.

She kicked at his face and pushed away from him, firing her grapple line into the cliff side. She felt the pull of pressure that told her the hook had caught and put all the remaining power into her shield. 'Come on, just a little more..!' she thought.

The muscles in her arm twisted as the line went taut. She pivoted and tumbled over Grimm so that she was on top and he was on bottom, and her shield flared up just before they hit the ground.

       

Kim saw stars blossom in front of her eyes and heard a ringing in her ears, then felt herself rolling. Pain exploded in both wrists and she lay on the ground where she had stopped for a moment, wondering if her wrists were sprained or broken. But she was still alive, which meant Grimm and her shield had taken the worst of the impact.

But through the blurred curtain of her pain, she saw Grimm heave up from the pile of crumbled ground where he had landed. He seemed undamaged and rushed at her again. Kim rolled to the side as his fist made another explosive sound next to her head. She felt shattered rock stinging against her cheek and rolled the other way as his other fist came down for another blow. Without saying a word, he brought both fists up for an overhand smash.

'Hey!'

Grimm looked up, seeming distracted momentarily by the sound. Kim heard a bang, and saw a white glob speeding across the air until it splattered against Grimm's chest and sent him sprawling backwards against the cliffside. Kim got painfully to her knees, watching in amazement as Grimm seemed to sink into an expanding cocoon of white foam. He continued to punch and kick, but the foam held him in place. He twisted and writhed, but was unable to break the substance that now encased him from his neck to his feet.

She looked and saw Wade, Jade and Monique rushing towards her, with Rueful and Rufus leading the way. Wade was carrying what looked like a large gun, connected to a pack on Jade's back by a long tube wrapped in duct tape. He dropped the gun, rushing up to Kim, his face full of concern.

'We saw you fall!' said Wade. 'It looked awful - are you all right? We came as soon as Rufus and Rueful found us...'

'I'm fine.' said Kim, leaning up. 'My wrists might be sprained, but the shield took most of it...'

Monique's face was pale and she looked like she was in shock. 'Girlfriend...' she said, and her voice was weak. 'That was... oh man...'

'I'm fine.' she said again, getting to her feet. 'We have to get back up there, we have to stop Monkey Fist from getting away!'

Rueful was standing in front of the Moo Goo, squeaking and pointing. It was only then that Jade seemed to realize who was imprisoned in the Goo. 'Grimm...?' she said, stumbling forward. Her face fell in shock and she numbly shook the straps from the Moo Goo Guy Gun pack from her shoulders. 'Grimm!' she shouted, and broke into a run.

'Stay away from him!' Kim shouted. 'He's dangerous...' But to her surprise, when Jade stopped in front of him, Grimm didn't seem to notice. His grey eyes were still turned to Kim and he was still struggling, but only in her direction.

'Oh G-man...!' Jade said, taking out a scanner. 'Jeez, what did they do to you?'

Wade was looking uncomfortably at Kim as Jade buried her knuckles against her lips. 'Should we.... do something?' he asked in a whisper.

Kim sighed. 'There's nothing we can do right now.' she said. 'Only Monkey Fist can release him, if even he knows how. But to do that, we need to capture him. Will that thing imprison him?' she pointed at the Moo Goo Guy Gun, lying unheeded on the ground as Jade continued to sweep Grimm with her scanner, as if that would somehow fix him. Rueful was slithering around her ankles, still chittering and pointing.

Wade nodded, and Kim hoisted the Moo Goo gun, starting back towards the path leading back up to Basalton, leaving Jade and Grimm behind. When Kim, Wade, Rufus and Monique reached the top, all of them were winded, for the path was steep and winding. Kim rushed through the town back to the battlefield, but she saw nothing.

There was no sign of Monkey Fist or Maze, or their statues. Even the ones which had been encased in Moo Goo were missing. Besides the damaged houses and craters in the ground, there was no sign that they had ever been there. Kim went through every house and looked behind every boulder in the fields outside, but there was nothing.

'It's too late, Kim.' said Wade, who had his own scanner out and was looking down at it with a frown. 'They're gone.'

Kim stood with her back towards him, her head bowed. Then she punched the wall of the house next to her with a low mutter.

'So that's it?' said Monique. 'This was all just a waste? They've just disappeared without a trace?'

'They didn't leave without a trace.' said Kim quietly, 'Not this time.' and she walked back to the cliff edge, looking down to where Grimm was still trapped in his foam prison, with Jade and Rueful still in front of him.

They were all distracted by the sound of an approaching engine. Kim looked towards the road leading into Basalton, but there were no cars to be seen. Then she looked up and saw a small hovercraft descending through the grey clouds above. It lighted down like a massive beetle, and dust blew everywhere as it settled onto the ground, the engine still running. From a hatchway on the side, a thin, wiry looking person stepped forward, wearing a dark jumpsuit. His face looked both arrogant and annoyed.

'The report said there was trouble out here,' said Agent Will Du, sweeping his eyes over Kim and the others. 'I should have known it was you.'

Kim winced. Of all the Global Justice agents, why was it that, whenever she dealt with Global Justice, she always got sent the most irritating one of the bunch? 'Agent Du.' Kim said flatly.

'Kim Possible.' he said, walking up to them and folding his arms. 'So what's the 'sitch' as you might call it? No wait, let me guess. Everyone in the town was turned to stone and then vanished into the blue?'

'Not everyone.' said Kim, feeling glad that now they had at least some evidence to present. 'This time I can prove my story.'

Some of Du's smugness seemed to deflate. 'I'm sure Global Justice will be glad to see this evidence.' he said, sounding quite insincere. 'If you'll accompany us back to our local base of operations...' He gestured to the hovercraft.

Kim spoke briskly. 'We'll need to carry along a payload about 450 kilograms....'

Will Du shook his head. 'If you'll take a close look at this craft,' he said snidely, 'You'll notice it doesn't have a cargo bay. I was sent to scout a disturbance, not transport baggage. This craft can only handle the pilot, myself and two passengers.'

'If you want us back at your base now, and if you still want us to present evidence, then we'll need to transport...' Kim started impatiently.

'I'll radio base and have them send a retrieval unit.' Will broke in. 'While your cargo is being delivered, you will come to the base and tell your story to Dr. Director. Once your evidence is in hand, I'll inspect it personally.'

'Fine.' said Kim. 'Monique - you want to ride shotgun?' Monique nodded, but looked somehow distant and distracted.

'How about I come instead?' said Wade. 'I've got...' But Kim interrupted.

'I need you to stay here, Wade.' she said. 'Collect all our stuff. Make sure Grimm gets taken to the base, and don't leave Du alone until he sees Grimm for himself. Right now, he's our only piece of... hard evidence, so to speak.' Wade nodded. 'And if they can bring back the Sloth and Grimm's bike, that would be helpful too.'

Wade nodded again. Kim started towards the hovercraft, where Will Du was standing and looking at his watch. As she and Monique were getting on board, she called out to Wade one more time. 'And make sure Jade doesn't bolt.' she said. 'We might need her.'

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Jade stood fidgeting in front of Grimm. Super genius. Everyone always called her a super genius back home. She had made dozens of devices, and ripped off quite a few others to reverse engineer them. She had been Grimm's idea-girl for as long as she could remember. Yet as she stared at Grimm, his face blank and petrified, she couldn't think of a thing.

Grimm had conducted numerous drills about what to do if he or Rhonda were ever injured or incapacitated while in the field, but none of those drills meant anything at the moment. Rhonda was gone. Grimm was a statue, not speaking or moving. And Team Possible was right there, probably already planning to take him away to who knew where? Rueful wasn't much help - his normal shtick was sabotage and distraction, not heavy lifting.

Her first instinct was to get Grimm out of there, as fast as she could. But her hover platform was busted, and she would need time to fix it. And even then it wouldn't support Grimm's weight. She had tried to pull and drag the Moo Goo cocoon herself, but Grimm was simply too heavy. She wasn't well built and didn't have the strength to move him.

She was just about to use her scanner to try and call the bike to her by remote. Her only hope was the Ksikkihkíni, but how she was supposed to harness Grimm to the cycle and fly all the way home with him in that condition... no ideas were coming to her. She looked into Grimm's blank, expressionless face and felt a surge of panic. Grimm had never been caught before, and so she'd never had to worry about anything like this.

But even as she was scanning, she saw Wade rounding the path and puffing his way towards her. 'Darn it!' she thought.

Wade joined her in staring at Grimm. 'So how's Rocky doing?' he said.

'Ha-ha, very funny.' Jade growled. 'I've run every scan I can think of, and it's not showing anything but solid rock. This isn't a stone shell or fossilization like I've ever seen - his whole body has transfigured somehow.'

Wade stared. Grimm was now completely motionless. He may as well have been part of the rocky landscape. 'Why isn't he trying to get out anymore?' he said.

'I don't know.' said Jade. 'He just... stopped moving a few minutes ago.'

'So... what do we do with him?' said Wade.

Jade fidgeted where she stood, biting her lip and not looking directly at Grimm. 'Well, for the moment I guess we leave him in the Moo Goo. It'll last a day or so before the adhesive effects wear off. By then we can put him into some more permanent restraints.'

Wade looked at the expansive ball that surrounded Grimm. 'And how do we move him?'

An idea formed in Jade's head. But she paused, considering. If she proposed it herself, Wade would get suspicious. 'What would Grimm do?' she thought, and the answer came to her in a flash. 'Make him think it's his idea.' 'Well,' she said out loud, knowing the answer before she even asked, 'Will he fit in the trunk of your car or in the backseat?'

'No.' said Wade firmly. 'Look at him - the goo makes him about six feet square. We'd need to tear the Sloth apart to even try it.'

'How about tying him to the roof?' she said, again guessing how he would answer based on his physique.

Wade shook his head. 'I couldn't lift him - how about you?'

'No....' she said, faking a look of puzzlement. 'I wish we had a more open-air vehicle we could strap him to...' she said, and trailed off, wondering if Wade would rise to the bait.

'How about Grimm's bike?' Wade said. 'That thing can hover, right?'

Jade smirked, thinking Grimm couldn't have done better himself.

Several minutes later, Jade had haltingly landed the Ksikkihkíni next to Grimm. With Wade's help, they had salvaged the repulsion element from Jade's platform and fastened it to the Moo Goo to lighten Grimm's overall weight. Then they had lashed the foam cocoon to the back of the bike with several lengths of hooked cable. Wade dug the hooks into the Moo Goo as best he could and they seemed to be holding. Grimm remained silent and still the whole time. At last the turbines on the bike whined, the cables creaked, and Jade carefully sat down behind the controls.

She bit her lip. If she was going to run for it, now was the time. She checked to make sure Rueful was stowed safely, then edged her hand towards the accelerator...

'Thinking about leaving?'

Jade flinched as Wade stared at her. 'Well... so what if I am?' she said. 'It's not like hanging out with you losers did Grimm any good!'

Wade glared. 'Fine.' he said. 'If you get him back home, then what?'

Jade opened her mouth, but no words came out. She simply sat there, looking as if she were trying to come up with something clever. 'I'll.... think of something.' she said at last.

Wade sighed. 'I thought I could too.' he said. 'In the last fight, I came up with some of my best stuff, and I was sure it would work on those statues. But it didn't. Whatever's been done to them, it's outside the realm of normalcy.'

Jade didn't look at him. Her eyes remained focused on the dashboard. 'I'm not leaving him to you guys or those Global Justice mooks!' she said. 'You'll just throw him in jail, or leave him under a cloud of pigeons in some park or other!'

'Why?' said Wade, and there was a hint of resentment in his voice. 'Because that's what you guys would do if the shoe was on the other foot?'

Jade lowered her head even more. 'Yeah.' she said, sounding resentful.

Wade sighed. 'Look,' he said walking closer to her. 'I don't know what your boss says about us in his off time, but you've got us all wrong. Kim's not like that and neither am I. Kim and Grimm made a deal that they'd work together until all this was over, until Ron and Rhonda were back. Well, Ron isn't back and from what I can see, the sitch is far from over.'

Jade didn't answer.

'The deal is still in place.' said Wade. 'Trust Kim - she's a helper. She won't break her word.'

Jade seemed almost tormented. 'I... can't.' she said. 'When you're a mercenary, you can't trust anyone - that's how you keep yourself alive.'

'You trust Rhonda - and Grimm.' said Wade.

'That's different!' said Jade. 'I know them - we earned the trust we had!'

'I once heard someone say something pretty smart.' said Wade. 'How can I prove that I'm trustworthy - unless you trust me?'

'Yeah?' said Jade, sneering. 'Who came up with that line of bunk?'

'Grimm did.'

For some time, she said nothing. Rueful slithered out of his pack and bounded onto the dashboard of the Ksikkihkíni, looking up at her with low trill. 'Without Grimm and Rhonda, there is no Team Probable.' she said at last. 'Me and Rueful are all that's left.' She looked up, and Wade saw her eyes were wet. 'All right. I'll take a gamble - just like Grimm did. And hope to heck that you guys are as lucky he thought you were.'

'I can't promise much.' Wade said, 'But I do promise if there's a way to bring them back - we'll do our best to make it happen.'

Jade wiped her eyes. 'Yeah, well you better.' she said, and the spark was returning to her voice. 'Cuz if you don't, I'll open a bag of freak on you like you won't believe!'

Wade smiled. 'Trust you for that.' he said.

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Despite the sound of the hovercraft's engines, Kim found the flight unusually quiet. Monique was sitting with her arms curled around her knees, which were drawn up nearly level with her chin. She was rocking slightly back and forth, her expression distant.

'Monique?' said Kim. 'What's wrong?'

'What's wrong?' she said, her voice breaking slightly. 'What do you think is wrong, girlfriend? I was nearly killed by a mutant monkey man turned into a living statue while on a mission with a friend who told me that I wouldn't have to do any fighting! You think maybe that's what's wrong?'

'Monique, it was just Monkey Fist...'

'Well I'm sorry Kim!' Monique snapped, and her voice was suddenly angry. 'Maybe it's 'just Monkey Fist' to you, but I don't normally deal with this kind of stuff!'

Kim was stunned. She had never heard Monique talk like this before, never seen her genuinely upset. She had always seemed steady, even going up against the Fashionistas, and against Gill and Camille. But now she was obviously fighting to stop herself from crying, and burying her face in her hands.

'I shouldn't be here....' she sobbed. 'Every time you and Ron talked about your missions, he made it sound like the easiest thing in the world. It was all jokes and laughs, like saving the world was fun.' She paused, sniffing and wiping her eyes. 'I wish I was more like Ron.' she said softly. 'I have no idea how he kept it together - this isn't fun at all....'

And Kim could think of nothing to say as Monique burst into tears beside her.

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Rhonda had her fists clenched, her knuckles pressed to her lips. Her eyes were wide and her mouth was hanging open. Her vision of what had happened on the battlefield had faded, and she was surrounded by nothing but dark mists again.

'Hey, you're back!' said Ron, and Rhonda flinched, looking at him as if she hadn't expected to hear anyone. As he saw the look on her face, his own normal cheerful expression dropped into one of concern. 'What happened? You kind of zoned out for a while there...'

'I saw Grimm.' she said, and her voice was a pale whisper of her normal bravado. 'Monkey Fist was about to hit Kim with some kind of yellow beams from his eyes...'

Ron felt his own mouth fall open. 'What?' he said. 'But... that's what the Yono did when he turned Kim to....' he stopped, hearing himself asking the question and terrified of what she might answer. 'Did he...?'

'Grimm pushed her out of the way!' Rhonda said, 'He got hit, and......' but she broke into tears, unable to say any more.

Ron understood, but he couldn't believe it. After everything Grimm had done to hurt Kim over their encounters, after all the misery and angst, the thought of Grimm saving Kim from Monkey Fist seemed beyond reason. He laid an uncomfortable hand on Rhonda's shoulder.

And at once the mists around them both seemed to draw aside. All was grey and colorless, but he plainly saw both Kim and Monique, sitting side by side in some kind of transport. Rhonda seemed to see it as well, and stopped crying. At once, they both shouted and waved their hands, trying to get their attention. But after a few frantic seconds, the vision faded and the dark mists returned.

'Did... you see what I saw?' Ron said tremulously.

'Yeah....' said Rhonda. 'But... they couldn't see us.' She suddenly shouted. 'I saw Rueful before I saw Grimm - Rueful could see me! He knew I was there!' She put her face in her hands again, but this time she seemed angry instead of miserable. 'What does it mean?' she said. 'Why do we keep seeing this stuff? How does it happen? It this place just torturing us?'

'I don't know.' said Ron, and he finally set his brain into high gear, trying to think of answers. 'We saw what we saw when I touched you.' he said. 'Let's try that again.'

Rhonda looked up and nodded, holding out her hand. Ron reached up and took her hand in his. They both looked around, but the mists remained and she let go, growling in frustration. 'This place is really ticking me off!' she said.

'Maybe that's part of it.' said Ron, looking at his hand. Then he looked at Rhonda, his eyes glazed over and trying to remember. 'Our frustration might be blocking us now. Let's go over what was happening each time we've seen something.'

Rhonda sighed. 'OK, you were the first one to see.' she said. 'You were just sort of goofing around when you suddenly peeked in on your GF while she was sleeping.'

'I.... did not!' said Ron hotly. 'I saw her when she was dreaming! She just happened to be in bed at the time!'

'Yeah,' said Rhonda, sounding unconvinced. 'And the next time?'

'I think I was practicing duck calls.' Ron said. 'Then I saw Kim sitting in my treehouse - and she was... crying.' He paused, then looked to Rhonda. 'Then you saw Grimm later on.'

'Yeah, it happened after we shared camp stories.' she said, feeling uncomfortable over how low her guard had been after that experience. 'I saw him kneeling in some kind of wooded area - he was asking the Great Bear Spirit for help...'

'And then you saw him....'

'Getting turned to stone.' she sniffed. 'He looked so helpless, I've never seen him like that...'

'And I saw Kim just now, but Monique was with her, and she was crying....' And ideas started popping in his head. 'Every time we've seen something, it's been because either we, or they were really worked up about something.' he said. 'Maybe this place is keyed to emotions.... But then how did I see Kim those times when I was just goofing around?'

'Because she was upset.' said Rhonda, looking off into the cloudy distance. 'This is the spirit world. It's not emotion that's doing this - it's... something spiritual. We're close to them - we're... spiritually bonded somehow, and we're seeing what they see....'

'What - when their spirits are troubled?' said Ron.

Rhonda looked like she was thinking hard. 'It think...' she said, 'It might be an 'either-or, or a 'both' thing. Sometimes it happened when either one of us was spiritually in touch, or one of them. And when one of us AND one of them were in synch at the same time, it became even clearer...'

'Then why can't they see us?'

Rhonda looked at the patch over her upper right arm. 'Since I became the Bear Priestess,' she said quietly, 'I've been able to... I don't know, bond with animals. But they only come to me and communicate with me when I've been meditating, or when I'm chilling in the woods and stuff. And Rueful's been close to me since the day I got him. Maybe that's why I saw him first - because our spirits were more in synch - then he led me to Grimm....'

'So... animals can see you?' Ron said excitedly. 'Did you see Rufus?'

'No.' said Rhonda. 'Haven't you seen him yet?'

Ron shook his head, but Rhonda was uncovering the patch over her arm, revealing a birthmark shaped like the pawprint of a bear. She held up her hand again. 'Let's... try it.' she said.

Ron took her hand. Rhonda bowed her head and concentrated, her voice sounding in a low chant.

Omahkkiaayowa,
Nitsiinihkatsimatsiiwa...

Ron let his mind focus on Rufus, listening to Rhonda's chant. The mists didn't part, but Ron did see something - as if the mists right in front of him were taking the shape of a familiar, long toothed and whiskered friend... He gasped, then the mists spread out and became shapeless again.

Rhonda opened an eye. 'Did it work?' she said.

'Sort of...' Ron said. 'I kinda thought I saw Rufus for a second there....'

'We're must not be spiritual enough yet!' Rhonda said, sounding eager. 'Come on - let's... do more spirity stuff! If we can figure a way to see Rufus or Rueful, and if they can see us, maybe we can have them send a message or something!'

Rhonda went into the lotus position at once. 'Get going!' she said, looking up at Ron anxiously. 'Show me some more meditatey good-vibey tricks!' And she knitted her eyebrows in fierce concentration, her hands clenched hard.

Ron looked down at her, and felt despite the things they had just learned, that Rhonda still wasn't quite getting it...

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The England base for Global Justice was almost a mirror clone for all the other bases Kim had been in. Spotless metal corridors with key-card security doors at regular intervals, all lit with the same pale fluorescent lights. The larger rooms were mostly training areas for their field agents, along with several labs and research facilities.

Will Du had turned Kim over to a pair of burly agents who were so silent, Kim thought they must be former guards to Buckingham Palace. Du had given them instructions to see Kim to Dr. Director, and left without even a nod. After a few minutes of being led through the antiseptic corridors, Kim halted. 'We split up here.' she said to Monique.

'What? I thought we were supposed to be seeing this Dr. Director person.' said Monique.

'I'll do it.' she said. She turned to the agents escorting them. 'Have you got an infirmary?' One agent nodded, but said nothing. 'Take Monique there and have your medics make sure she's all right.' she said. 'And if you've got a trauma counselor, take her there too. Once she's been looked after - see that she's returned safely to Middleton.'

Monique looked stunned. 'Girlfriend, what is goin' on?' she said.

Kim looked at the agents. 'Can we have a minute?' she said pointedly, and after exchanging glances, the two agents moved down the hall. Once they were a few yards away, she turned back to Monique, lowering her voice. 'Monique, I want you to go home.'

Monique bit her lip. 'Go home?' she said. 'What, you think I can't hack it? If this is about what I said on the hovercraft, I was just a little freaked that's all...!'

'That's only part of it.' said Kim, 'It also has to do with me being too reckless.'

'You been reckless since you started this save the world thing.' said Monique, forcing a smile.

'I know.' said Kim. 'But it's never hit as hard as it has during this caper.' She sighed, looking down and away from Monique. 'Ron's missing. And you were almost killed. I can't risk losing anyone else, and I can't ask you to put your life on the line for me anymore.'

'But... I still want to help.' said Monique, looking guilty.

'You've done enough.' she said, putting her hand on Monique's shoulder. 'You were right. I should never have put you through this - and it wasn't fair of me to ask you.'

'But what about Grimm?' Monique said. 'You brought me on to make sure he didn't get to you...'

'I think I can carry on now.' she said. 'It's been a few days and it's getting easier. Besides, I don't think Grimm's head gaming is going to be a problem just now - he doesn't seem too talkative.'

Monique looked down. 'Kim, I....'

'Go home, Monique.' Kim said, her voice lowering. 'It's all right - you've done enough.'

Monique felt Kim giving her a quick hug, and then she was walking down the hall, following the first agent. She tried to call after Kim, to say something, but no words came. They turned a corner in the hallway and were gone.

'Miss Monique?' the second agent asked, for Monique stood looking after Kim for several seconds. 'If you'll follow me, the infirmary is this way.' Monique turned and started walking in the direction the agent was indicating, feeling dazed, with several emotions roiling inside her. 'Our doctors will look you over, though they may need to access your previous medical records. Do you have a last name I should have them list when filling out the forms?'

'Yeah,' said Monique, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand. 'It's.... mud.'

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Rufus peered up at Kim from her hip pouch. He looked back to where Monique had been walking beside them and let out a sad sounding squeak.

Kim heard it, but couldn't bring herself to look down at Rufus or try to explain it to him. And she wondered if Rufus would understand anyway. Rufus had always been fearless - going into sitches that should have been way beyond him. How could she explain to him that Monique wasn't like that? She wasn't sure she could explain it to herself. But the only right thing to do was to make sure that Monique was safe, and the only sure way to do that was to get her home as soon as possible.

It wasn't long before the escorting agent brought her to a doorway that was as sterile looking and featureless as the others, only larger and more solid. On a metal plaque welded to the door were the words "Dr. Betty Director - Chief Officer"

Kim was escorted into an office and felt as if she had wandered into a scene from a Hollywood movie. The entire office seemed to be dark, but somehow the desk was lit. Everything that was visible seemed eerily shiny, without a speck of dust or a fingerprint to be seen, not even on the pens.

Dr. Betty Director looked up from a set of papers in a folder she held in her hands. She was pretty much as Kim had remembered her from the time when Global Justice had been studying Ron, with her close-cropped brown hair and her stern face. Her well-toned frame was covered with a uniform that seemed a bit more formal than Kim remembered, but somehow the look suited her. She looked warily at Kim through her good eye, the patch over her other eye blending in perfectly with the shadows. Her expression wasn't exactly hostile, but it didn't seem very friendly either. She nodded to the escorting agent, who silently withdrew from the room, the door hissing shut behind him.

'Ms. Possible.' she said. 'Thank you for seeing me.' She motioned to the chair in front of her desk, a plain chair made of black plastic supported by spindly-looking metal tubes. Kim sat down, feeling somehow out of place, still in her battle suit. The bands flickered and buzzed for an instant, and Dr. Director raised an eyebrow. 'Problem with your equipment?' she said.

'No.' said Kim, slapping the readout pad on the back of her hand. 'It's... just had a pretty rough workout today.'

'So I've heard.' said Dr. Director, flipping through a few of the pages in the folder. 'Our agents say several of the houses in Basalton are heavily damaged, and the entire population seems to have disappeared. Would you care to explain?'

Kim had the odd feeling that Dr. Director was interrogating her, but she answered respectfully. 'It was the same sitch that I reported in the town of Graniton.' she said. 'I told everything to Will Du several days ago.'

Dr. Director didn't respond. Kim caught on at once. 'He did report to you, didn't he?'

Dr. Director's face took on a poker stiffness. 'Agent Du relayed your information,' she said. 'However, he was extremely vocal in his doubts as to the... plausibility of that information.'

Kim smiled weakly. 'I know it sounds implausible.' she said. 'Try living it.'

'So you stand by this?' said Dr. Director. 'Monkey Fist's return - mystical monkey powers - a shaman who uses darkness as a weapon - and statues that can walk?'

'It's no weirder than having a twin brother with missiles instead of fingers.' Kim said.

Dr. Director blinked and leaned back in her chair. 'Point taken.' she said quietly, and then she sighed, putting the folder down. 'These are serious matters, Kim.' she said, switching to using her first name. 'Graniton's disappearance didn't create much of a stir, but now we have two towns with missing populations. It's only a matter of time before this leaks out, and the government of England is going to want answers. And frankly, even with your testimony, the ones you've supplied are not going to satisfy anyone.'

Kim nodded. 'I'm not the only witness this time.' she said. 'We've got others besides me and Wade. Have you ever heard of a group of teen mercenaries called Team Probable?'

'I can't say that I have.' said Dr. Director.

Kim shook her head, momentarily frustrated. 'Nothing at all?' she said. 'They hire out to villains and do heists and other work for them. They've had a finger in almost every major caper for ages now. And Global Justice has nothing on them?'

'I'm afraid not, Kim.' said Dr. Director. 'I'd never heard of them until you mentioned them just now.'

Kim winced, remembering Leigh Gality's little speech from when Grimm had first turned up at her house. 'The only thing Global Justice can do is admit their own duplicity in using you. They have nothing on my client.'

Kim fought back the anger she'd felt that day. 'They were mixed up in this.' she said. 'And they got caught up in it. Their leader, Grimm Probable, was helping me out for a while...'

'And this Grimm person will back you up in your testimony?'

Kim paused. 'He would, I think.' she said. 'Except that he's kind of.... petrified.'

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Will Du stood in the hangar in the Global Justice base. The transport had arrived a few minutes ago and brought Wade, Jade, Rufus and Rueful with them. He had watched with dignified detachment as several agents muscled a bizarre object into the landing bay. He now stood in front of a man-sized ball of white foam. The head of a spiky-haired statue was jutting out from the foam, along with a pair of stone hands. He looked impassively at the strange sight, then turned to the small boy next to him. 'Would you mind telling me why you had our organization waste time and resources transporting this here?' he said.

'It's evidence.' said Wade patiently. 'Evidence of what happened to the people in Graniton and Basalton. They were petrified by Monkey Fist, and then somehow animated by Maze.'

'You're saying this thing is alive?' said Du.

'For lack of a better description, yeah.' Wade said.

Du plinked his fingers on Grimm's hair, his ear, and even one of his eyes. Grimm didn't move at all. 'It doesn't seem very alive to me.' he said at last.

Wade gritted his teeth. Of all the times for Grimm to be difficult... He took out one of his circuitry welders and gave Grimm a quick prod at his fingertip. There was a spark, but Grimm did not react in any way. He tried a couple more times, on his palm and the tip of his nose, but nothing.

Will Du was looking smug again. 'Would you like me to get a hammer and chisel?' he said.

'Don't even think about it, helmet-head!' Jade said, stepping forward.

Du glared at her, his dislike for Jade's attitude increasing by the second. 'And how long am I supposed to stay here and watch you give reflex tests to a statue?'

'It's not a statue!' Wade said, frustrated. 'This is one of Monkey Fist's victims!'

'It's a statue.' said Will again. 'I admit it looks very well sculpted, but it's a statue regardless.'

'But he was moving when we caught him!' Wade said, slapping Grimm on the cheek and succeeding only in hurting his fingers.

'Of course he was.' said Will Du, his voice now filled with a dripping sanctimony. He looked at his watch, and then at the exit to the hangar. 'Well, thank you for your cooperation Mr. Load, but without more convincing evidence, I'm afraid I can't justify assigning any more resources from Global Justice to this case.'

Wade sputtered, but Will Du was already turning away. 'I'll have you, your vehicles and your pet statue taken to Heathrow and booked onto a commercial cargo flight back to Middleton,' he said. 'Possible will join you there once Dr. Director has finished questioning her. After that, you and your little girlfriend are on your own.'

'Girlfriend??' Jade shrieked. 'Where the heck did that come from?!'

Will Du paused before answering. 'Methinks the lady doth protest too much.' he said.

'Why I oughtta...!' Jade yelled, swinging a wrench at him. Wade had to hold her back, grappling her arm and interposing himself between her and Du. 'Get outta my way, I'm gonna kick his.....'

Du walked calmly towards one of the hangar exits, which hissed open in front of him. 'You kids don't get carried away, now.' he said, smirking before the door snapped shut.

   

Jade was still sputtering and struggling, even though Du was gone. 'You... stuck up.... Oooooh! Lousy... no good.... sunnuvva...!'

'Rope it in!' Wade said. 'Yelling at them isn't going to do any good!'

Jade was muttering and grumbling as she stormed back and forth. 'This is why Grimm stayed a mercenary!' she said. 'No one at Global Justice ever had the brains put two and two together!'

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Dr. Drakken heard the echoing thump of many feet and paused in directing his workers so he could be waiting at the entrance to the lair. What he saw surprised him. Monkey Fist and Maze were both being helped along, supported by a pair of statues. A large number of other statues were with them as well, and some were dragging what looked to Drakken like giant throw pillows.

'What... is this?' he said. 'I thought you were collecting more workers - you didn't say anything about shopping for beanbag chairs!'

Monkey Fist and Maze glared at him angrily. 'What were you doing while we were away?' said Monkey Fist, and his voice was sharp with suspicion.

'What do you mean, what was I doing?' Drakken sputtered. 'I spent the whole time trying to direct your rock-people so they would work without breaking anything!'

Monkey Fist strode wearily past him, then looked back. 'Kim Possible attacked us while we were collecting our... new charges.'

'What?' Drakken said. 'How did she know that you were.... wherever it is you went?'

'Precisely what we were wondering.' Monkey Fist answered, and he looked at Drakken's computer work station, then at Drakken himself. 'The only explanation is that someone in the know must have tipped her off.'

Drakken shook his head. 'Who would do that?' he said, then he saw both of them were staring at him, their faces very unfriendly. 'You think it was me?' he frothed. 'Helping Kim Possible? I'll have to invent a whole new word to describe how wrong that is!'

'You had the equipment and the opportunity.' said Maze, his voice soft, but dangerous. 'And perhaps the motivation. You certainly have not seemed enthusiastic in your duties.'

Drakken gritted his teeth. 'I'm insulted!' he said. 'I swear by all the honor I hold as a megalomanical super-villain that I didn't...'

'Your word? We'd prefer something more substantial.' Monkey Fist said.

'Nnnn!' Drakken grimaced. 'Fine!' Then he called out loudly. 'Shego!' And an instant later, Shego was at his side. 'Would you tell these guys everything that I've been doing since they left?'

Shego turned to Monkey Fist and Maze and began to speak in a flat, toneless voice. 'After you left, Dr. Drakken attempted to enter the inner chambers to view your project. He was stopped by me seconds later. He then tried to trick me into bringing him a Dodo bird, but I refused. He then worked on the Jammer designs for several minutes while I watched. Then he tried to sneak into the inner chambers again. I pulled him bodily back to his work station, while he loudly declared that he was going to tell his mother....'

'Wait! You don't need to tell him that...!' Drakken shouted, his cheeks flushing purple.

'Let me boil it down.' said Monkey Fist impatiently. 'Shego - did Dr. Drakken contact anyone outside our lair or relay our plans to anyone?'

'No.' she answered.

'There - you see?' said Drakken triumphantly. 'You may now beg my forgiveness!'

Monkey Fist and Maze ignored him, sitting down on crude stone chairs and leaning back wearily while sharing dark looks. 'If it was not an inside job, then how did they find us?' said Monkey Fist. 'The first time in Graniton seemed like random chance - now it seems more like a calculation.'

'She was there with Otaatoyiwa.' said Maze, his eyes narrowing. 'He must have joined forces with Mi'kksiistsikomma. She is relentless - and he is cunning.'

Monkey Fist's eyes narrowed as well. 'I admit the prospect of Kim Possible and Grimm Probable forming an alliance disturbs me - luckily thanks to our powers, Probable is no longer part of the equation. But their computer experts were also there.' He turned to Drakken. 'Is there any way they could have tracked us electronically?'

Drakken forced air through pursed lips and waved his hand. 'I tell you, the Jammer's signals are undetectable! There's no way anyone could track it to its source! They only thing that might be detected is.....' he trailed off, his eyes glazing over. He looked over at the miniature Jammer, staring at it and his computers.

'Well?' said Monkey Fist.

'Ah....' said Drakken, looking uncomfortable, 'It's plausible that a machine could be developed which would detect any satellite which the Jammer was controlling.'

Both Maze and Monkey Fist were standing up. 'If that is true, how would that knowledge serve them?' said Maze.

Drakken was still looking over at the Jammer. 'If they knew which satellite was being controlled, they could make a rough guess as to any area on the ground which was targeted by that satellite...' he said, tapping a black gloved finger against his chin. 'Not a pinpoint guess mind you, but they could get within a few dozen miles....'

'That cannot be allowed!' said Maze, anger rising in his voice.

'Relax - I should be able to develop some countermeasures which will prove effective....' Drakken said, reaching for his welding tools, but Monkey Fist raised a long-fingered hand.

'Soon.' he said. 'We have no plans to use the machine for the present, and there is another matter which will need to be tended before you can have your additional workers.'

'What?' said Drakken impatiently.

Monkey Fist pointed towards the large pillow-like objects on the cavern floor. 'Probable and Possible's assistants created some kind of weapon which was able to imprison our new servants.' he said. 'We need you to find a way to.... fix them.'

Drakken seemed to notice the statues imprisoned in the Moo Goo for the first time. He had his magnifying goggles on a moment later and was pulling at some of the goo with a pair of forceps, leaning in to look closely. Maze and Monkey Fist watched him. 'Hmm...' he said at last. 'Electrostatically conjoined particles with individual expansion capability - porous... resilient... probably very effective against concussive force... no wonder your rock boys had trouble with it....'

'Can you get them out?' said Monkey Fist impatiently.

Drakken licked his lips, still examining the Goo. 'I could try making a chemical compound which would coat the particles and block the electrostatic cohesion. It would take time though.' He paused, considering. 'Well, there's always the simple solution... Shego!' And Shego was again at his side, as if darting in from nowhere.

Drakken looked over at Monkey Fist. 'Do you care if she damages any of your rock people?'

Monkey Fist shook his head. 'Do what you must.' he answered.

'Shego - burn this stuff off!' Drakken said.

Shego stood there, impassive. 'How?' she said flatly.

'Oh come on!' said Drakken, waving at one of the imprisoned statues. 'Activate your glow!'

Shego raised her hands and a flickering of green and black flame surmounted them. Monkey Fist stared with sudden interest. 'Curious...' he said. 'I did not know she retained her powers in her new form...' Shego merely stood with her hands glowing and didn't move.

Drakken shook his head in exasperation. 'Now use your glow to burn away this poofy stuff!'

Shego leaned forward and held out her hands. Her glow spread out in a wide beam, bathing one of the imprisoned statues and the Goo holding it. There was a smell like burning rubber, a billowing smoke, then the glow faded and they all stood staring at a man-shaped thing, covered in a clinging layer of clumpy ash. At a gesture from Monkey Fist, the statue walked forward, the charred remains of the Goo crumbling off in large, blackened flakes.

'Booyah!' Drakken shouted. 'When all else fails, use fire! First rule of the true scientist!'

'Very good.' said Monkey Fist. 'Have Shego release the others. Then devote some time to developing these countermeasures you spoke of.'

Drakken seemed pleased at the prospect of burning things, and soon the other imprisoned statues were being bathed in green flames. Maze gestured Monkey Fist over and spoke to him in a low voice. 'You still think he can be trusted?' he said.

'His account explains the timing of Possible's attack.' he answered. 'They did not find us right away - they arrived just as we were preparing to leave Basalton. They must have detected our satellite during that time and traveled to our general location as he described. And besides - Shego is incapable of lying to us, and she has watched him relentlessly at our command.'

'What should we do?' said Maze.

Monkey Fist looked over at Drakken, who had a sample of unburned Moo Goo in his hand, torn from a larger mass by Shego. 'Let us see what Drakken comes up with.' he said. 'If he fails to come up with anything clever, as is likely, then we may have to consider using the machine to target Kim Possible after all.'

'Surely Otaatoyiwa will deal with her?' said Maze.

Monkey Fist sniffed. 'I would not count on that.' he said. 'Kim Possible has an annoying habit of doing the impossible...'

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Kim halted on the tarmac at Heathrow, looking up at the plane in front of her. She checked her Kimmunicator, making sure this was one Wade had said. Dr. Director had promised to help if anything more substantial came up, and she was certainly better to talk to than Will Du. After the meeting with Dr. Director was over, she had gone to the infirmary and had her wrists looked at. The doctors said they were strained, not sprained, and bandaged both wrists firmly with instructions to go easy on them for a day or so. Monique was not there.

Then she had met with Du again, and Du lost no time in telling Kim about his less-than-convincing examination of Grimm. She would have argued the point, but given how the rest of the day had gone, she wasn't hopeful that she could persuade him. Kim had been escorted off base without much fanfare, and driven to the airport to catch her flight home. The plane looked old, and seemed rusted in some spots. But she had traveled in antiquated turbo-props flown by bush pilots, so it didn't bother her. She supposed this was merely a parting shot from Will Du to remind her how low esteem he had for her.

Wade was waiting at the base of a small stair leading up into the plane. 'Kim!' he shouted over the roar of other jets taking off and landing. 'Did you see Will?' Kim nodded and grimaced.

'About the same, huh?' Wade said, looking crestfallen as Kim nodded again. 'Well I guess I can't blame him too much.' he went on. 'If I'd been the examiner, I might have come to the same conclusions.'

'So Probable just sat there?' Kim said, feeling miffed. After nearly getting killed by his assault, she expected him to put on more of a show in the heart of Global Justice headquarters.

'I wish I knew why.' Wade said, shaking his head. 'I felt so stupid I thought I was wearing clown shoes and making balloon animals.'

'Where is he now?' Kim said.

'He's on board in the cargo hold along with the Sloth and the bike.' Wade said. 'Jade's keeping an eye on him.'

'She been any trouble?' Kim said.

Wade managed a thin smile. 'Not as much as I expected.' he said. 'I thought she was going to make off with Grimm when my back was turned. But I might have persuaded her to give us a try now. Where's Monique?'

Kim faltered. 'I.... sent her on ahead.' she answered, not sure how to respond. 'I figured she could use a break - and I've kept her away from Club Banana long enough as it is...'

Wade nodded, seeming to accept her explanation and he started up the stairs. 'You coming?' he said. 'We'll be taking off in a few minutes.'

'I'll be back in the hold in a few.' she said, following him up. 'First I need to stop by the lavatory and change. The suit's been sputtery since the battle.'

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By the time Kim had changed into her spare clothes and a jacket, the plane was already taking off. She steadied herself until she felt the plane leveling, then carefully made her way towards the rear cargo hold, threading her way through crates and boxes which were lashed down to holding clamps.

When she got to the back, she saw Wade and Jade sitting across from each other, the Sloth lashed down on one side of the plane, the Ksikkihkíni on the other. They were both wearing jackets and sitting quietly. Rueful was curled around Jade's shoulders, trilling softly while she scratched his ears. Jade looked dazed and depressed.

Wade saw Kim and nodded his head further back. Then Kim saw Grimm behind them, still encased in Moo Goo, looking ridiculously like a giant, lumpy soccer ball tethered to the floor of the plane. He did indeed seem still and totally lifeless. She paused a moment to circle around and look into his face.

The effect was immediate. As soon as Kim was directly in front of him, Grimm started moving, fighting against his restraints. He reached his arms out to seize her, but the Goo held him in place. His hands and fingers grasped and clutched at her as she stepped quickly away. Wade and Jade shouted in surprise, falling down from the crates they had been sitting on.

They all backed away, staring as Grimm continued to struggle. He didn't seem to be making any moves except trying to force his way towards Kim.

'Well, why wouldn't he do that when Will was in the room?' said Wade in frustration. 'It would have been less embarrassing!'

Kim thought back to the battle, to when Grimm had been petrified and what happened after. She saw Maze in her mind, and heard his low voice.

'Otaatoyiwa - destroy Mi'kksiistsikomma!'

'I think I know.' said Kim. 'Maze ordered him to destroy me. He didn't say anything about you, or anyone else. Maze controls him now - but Grimm can only do what he's ordered to do.'

'And if his orders are to destroy you, then when you're not around, he doesn't do anything.' said Wade. 'Kinda literal, but it makes sense I suppose.'

'So how do we fix it?' said Jade, sounding shrill. 'Reverse fossilization or something?'

Wade stared silently as Grimm tried relentlessly, but uselessly, to break out of the Goo. 'I don't know.' he said. 'Have you got anything?' Jade didn't answer.

After a few quiet minutes, Kim finally spoke. 'I should go up front so he's not coming after me the whole time. When we get back, we'll go with SOP's.' she said. 'Set him up at your place so you can do a proper examination. Without me there, he shouldn't give you any trouble. And we keep looking him over until we find... anything.' she ended doubtfully.

'Yeah?' said Jade, her voice waspish. 'And where am I supposed to stay? I'm not bunking with him!' she jerked her head at Wade, who rolled his eyes.

Kim managed a smile. 'How good are you at babysitting?' she said.

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All in all, it was a glum procession which returned to Middleton. They managed to get Grimm from the airport and into Wade's garage. The process was complicated by the fact that Kim could not get near Grimm without setting him off again, so she was unable to help Wade and Jade. But between the pair of them, they jury-rigged Grimm to the bike again, covered him with a tarp, and Kim escorted them back to Wade's.

Kim showed Jade how to get to Ron's, and she took Grimm's place as a guest at the Stoppable residence, though she seemed less than thrilled with the arrangement. And Kim at last returned to her own house. By then it was evening, and she had school the following day.

She couldn't stop herself from having Wade check to see if Monique had arrived home safely. Wade confirmed it, but Kim was not surprised that Monique hadn't left any messages on her voice mail. She wanted to talk to her, to find out if she was all right, but she couldn't think of any way to start a conversation which didn't involve fatal degrees of awkweirdness.

And so after settling back in at home, she went to bed, though sleep came only fitfully. She couldn't shake her mind of the image of Grimm, saving her from Monkey Fist. What had happened when he confronted Maze? What had Maze said to cause Grimm to do something like that? Unfortunately, the only one who could answer those questions was Grimm.

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The following day at school was uncomfortable. Classes and other routines ensured that Kim saw Monique constantly. She seemed all right, but never looked at Kim directly. Her face was hangdog, but Kim couldn't tell if she was depressed or angry, or both.

Bonnie didn't seem any happier than usual to see Kim back from her mission, and despite the normal bumps, spills and tumbles, practice was almost normal. 'So where's your hottie exchange student?' said Bonnie. 'Don't tell me you scared him off already with your lameness.'

'He's... not well.' said Kim, which was true enough.

Bonnie sniffed. 'That seems to happen to a lot of guys who hang out with you.' she said.

Kim winced at the barb. Then she looked off across the gym towards the other practicing cheerleaders. 'Well anyway, have you thought about any Freshmen or Sophomores we could bring onto the squad?' she said, trying to sound innocent.

'What? No!' said Bonnie, her oily manner drying up instantly. 'I... really don't think there's anyone who would fit in....' she said, looking nervous.

'Maybe Tara or Jessica knows someone...' Kim said, rubbing her chin. And to her satisfaction, Bonnie said little else until practice was over.

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Jade was leaning over Ron's bed, putting welders, scanners and other equipment into a carrying case. She was expected at Wade's to help him build a restraining harness for Grimm. Hana was sitting on the bed, staring at her with wide, sparkling eyes.

Jade paused in her packing. 'What?' she said, staring back at Hana. 'What are you staring at you little rugrat?'

Hana seemed to be taking in Jade's Asian complexion, her dark, rainbow-streaked hair and her eyes. 'Sister!' she said at last.

Jade's face went from annoyed to a helpless smile. 'Aw....' she said, then shook her head as if catching herself. She looked at Hana, her expression now guarded. 'No fair being cute.' she said, hastily tossing all the items still laid out on the bed into the case and snapping it shut. 'Well... let's get you back to your mom.' she muttered, holding out her hands. At once Hana bounded into her arms and hugged Jade.

'Sister...' she burbled.

A strange look crossed Jade's face. Then she lowered her eyes and left Ron's room, finding Mrs. Stoppable and pushing Hana into her arms. 'I have to get to Wade's.' she said awkwardly. 'Thanks for letting me crash here.'

'Not at all!' said Mrs. Stoppable with her usual maternal air. 'Besides, Hana seems to have taken quite a shining to you.'

'Sister!' Hana chirped, and Jade again looked torn and uncomfortable.

'You do sort of look alike...' said Mrs. Stoppable. 'But I suppose babies that are young enough resemble lots of people. Are you from Japan?'

'My parents are both Japanese...' Jade mumbled, then at once she stopped, biting her lip and remembering Grimm's normal SOPs. Never reveal any information about yourself or your family. 'Look - I gotta go.' she said, snapping her fingers and letting Rueful climb onto her shoulder. She turned back to Ron's room and heaved the carrying case from the bed.

As she left the house, she heard Hana's voice again. 'Sister...!'

Jade closed the door behind her, glancing back as she dragged the case down the sidewalk. 'No fair being cute...' she thought, shaking her head.

She was tired and sweaty by the time she got to Wade's house, and wishing she had used the bike instead of leaving it in the Stoppable's garage. The case had only seemed to get heavier over the walk, and her shoulders were lancing with aches before it was over. Rueful had dismounted and was scurrying along beside her.

'You're late.' said Wade, who left the porch of his house as soon as she reached the driveway.

'Oh, don't bother helping with the case.' she said, her every syllable drenched in sarcasm. 'I'm perfectly fiiiiiiine....'

Wade ignored her and used a remote to open the garage door. There was no car, and instead there were a pair of card tables set up with computers mounted on them. Other forms of scanners and equipment were here and there. And in the midst of it all stood Grimm Probable. The Moo Goo had mostly deflated, and some of it had sloughed off completely, forming a tattered pile at his feet. But at the moment, Grimm was not moving at all. He simply stood there, silent, with his arms down as if he were posing for a sculpture instead of actually being one.

'Does your boss know not to come in here until we say-so?' Jade grumbled, hoisting her case and putting it on a work bench with a loud thud. 'Be a fine thing if we were setting up restraints only to have her stumble onto the scene and send him into another rampage...'

'She knows.' said Wade, annoyed.

Jade looked suddenly more eager as she spied an arc-welder, rods and an acetylene torch. 'So... what are you thinking?' she said, taking a welding mask out of her case.

'Some kind of feedback harness - something that combines force fields with counterbalancing.' he said.

'Can't go wrong with Newton.' Jade said, putting on a pair of thick gloves. 'Specs?'

'Ready and waiting.' Wade answered, taking up a set of blueprints from one of the tables.

'Make sure it's all calculated right,' said Jade, 'You guide the cuts and I'll bend the steel!'

Several hours later, they were hoisting Grimm onto a small, circular platform, using chains and the rafters of the garage. The Moo Goo had all been pulled or scraped off. Rueful watched as they put Grimm in position, and then slid several strange looking manacles around his biceps, forearms, his waist, his neck, his thighs, knees and ankles. Each manacle had chains and wires threading into what looked like a surrounding cage with several large, circular protrusions pointing at Grimm from every angle.

Wade hit a switch on the cage and the protrusions glowed blue, humming. The chains clinked and the manacles tightened. Otherwise, nothing seemed to happen. 'Well, that's that.' he said. 'The only way to really test it is when Kim gets here. Is the Moo Goo Guy Gun ready?'

Jade looked over at the gun, which was set up on the workbench. 'It's all fixed up in case this thing fails.' she said.

'It shouldn't.' said Wade confidently. 'The restraints re-route any pressure exerted on them back against the source. The harder someone tries to break out of this, the stronger it gets. Even Hego couldn't power his way out.'

Jade sniffed. 'Hego was never the brightest glow on the comet...' she muttered.

Wade shrugged, heading towards the door leading into the house. 'I'll beep Kim and let her know she can come over as soon as she's ready.' he said.

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Evening was drawing near when Kim finally parked the Sloth by the curb of Wade's house. She realized she had never properly visited Wade's place before, and the surroundings seemed somehow unfamiliar. Rufus seemed happy to be there though, skittering back and forth across her shoulders.

Wade and Jade were standing in front of the garage door waiting for her. Rufus and Rueful growled, then turned their backs on each other. 'How are your parents coping?' said Kim.

Wade smiled knowingly. 'This isn't the first time I've asked them to clear out the garage for a construction project.' he said. 'Are you ready? Once he sees you again, he'll probably try to bust out. Then we'll find out for sure how good the restraints are.'

Kim nodded, following Wade to a side door leading into the garage. Before she reached it though, Kim saw a figure approaching, not walking past the house, but onto the driveway, following them.

Kim stared in surprise. Monique was standing there, wearing mission clothes and looking both sad and determined. 'Hey, girlfriend.' she said. 'Need a hand with anything?'

There was heavy silence. After a minute, Wade cleared his throat. 'Uh.... Jade, why don't you double-check the harness. I'll go to my room and get a little more work done on the second Moo Goo Guy Gun.'

'The harness doesn't need checking!' said Jade. 'This is just so they can have some kind of 'Afterschool Special' moment, isn't it?'

Wade's face hardened, and he pointed urgently towards the door leading into the garage. Jade growled, looking up at the sky and slapping her thighs before storming back inside and slamming the door behind her. Wade quietly disappeared into the house.

       

Now Kim and Monique were standing alone on the driveway. 'Monique,' said Kim softly. 'What are you doing here? I told you to go home.'

'I tried.' she said, looking down. 'But I can't.' She looked back up, and Kim saw thick tears rolling down her cheeks. 'Kim I admit I'm scared to death by all this. But... you're my best friend.'

Then they were hugging, and Kim felt her own eyes getting watery as Monique fought to speak through her own tears. 'I kept thinking about my own family, and how I would feel if someone like Monkey Fist came after them.' she said. 'And I think I understand - that being a friend is more than just hanging out and shopping for clothes and doing homework together. It means you stand by them - through the good times and the bad...'

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Rhonda was in the Lotus position and chanting fast. 'Om om om om om om om!' she said like a broken record. 'Come on inner peace, start working or I'll mop the floor with you! Om om om om om om om....!'

'Come on,' said Ron. 'You ought to know by now it doesn't work like that!'

'But Grimm's in trouble!' Ronda said, her voice rising. 'I saw Monkey Fist turn him to stone, we have to do something!' She looked down, a tear running down her cheek. 'I just want to help him...' she said.

Ron put his hand on her shoulder again. 'I know...' he said.

Then they both started as the mists swirled around them, becoming pale and foggy instead of dark and swirling. Though they seemed dim and colorless, Ron could see Kim and Monique, holding each other. Both their eyes were wet. And as if hearing them over a strong wind, their voices sounded like distant echoes.

'I lost it for a while back there, Kim.' she sobbed. 'I don't know if I've got what it takes to help you through the really tough times..... But I want to try, Kim. I want to find out if I really am a true friend.'

'You are, Mon.' Kim sniffed. 'I can't think of anyone else I'd rather have as my wingman.' She paused, wiping her own eyes. 'Well... besides Ron.' she said. 'And if you'll help me, we'll find a way to bring him back - and I swear I won't let anything happen to you - I promise...'

Ron put his hands out to thump both of them on the back, but he lurched and started as his hands passed through them, forgetting that he couldn't touch them. 'Ladies - what can the Ron-man say - except a-boo... and a-yah!'

He saw Rufus scrambling out of Kim's hip pouch and was surprised to see him looking straight at him and waving.

'Hmm-mmm! Ron!' he squeaked.

'Little buddy!' Ron said, smiling from ear to ear. 'You can see me?'

'Mmm-hmm! Mmm-hmm!' he squeaked again, nodding rapidly.

'Come here, dude!' he said joyously, holding out his cupped hand. At once, Rufus leaped out, but passed through Ron's palm, landing with a rolling tumble on the driveway. 'Sorry!' he said. 'I forgot - the no touchie thing.' But even as he said it, he was trying vainly to pick Rufus up and set him on his feet again. Rufus was staring up at him, rubbing his back with one arm, looking patronizing, and yet overjoyed at the same time.

Then he remembered Rhonda's suggestion. 'Rufus - I need you to give a message to Kim!' then he paused, biting his lip. Now that the moment had arrived, he wasn't sure what to say. 'Uh... tell her.... I'm OK.' and he paused, thinking how stupid that sounded since he was far from 'OK'. 'And tell her not to give up!'

Rufus gave him the OK sign, then began running around in circles in front of Kim and Monique, chattering and pointing desperately at Ron.

Neither Kim or Monique noticed any of this though. They let go of each other, sniffing at the same time and wiping their eyes awkwardly. 'Great to have you back, Mon.' Kim said.

     

'Yeah...' said Monique, casting around for something to break the tension. She caught sight of Rufus, who was scampering around in front of them. 'What's with him?' she said.

Kim looked down too. 'Not sure.' she said. 'His Naco time doesn't come until later...'

Rufus was hopping and pointing. 'Ron! Ron!' he squeaked.

Kim knelt down, reaching out to pick him up. 'I... think he misses Ron.' she said.

Rufus backed out of her reach, pointing at where he had felt Ron's presence. 'Ron! Ron!'

'I know, I miss him too.' said Kim, trying to pick him up again. 'But that's why we're here - to try and find a way to undo whatever Monkey Fist and Maze did to him - starting with Grimm.'

'Keep trying little dude!' Ron called. But even as he spoke, his view of the scene before him seemed to be fading, dissolving into a thick, dark mist that surrounded him. 'Aw man!' he said. 'And it was just getting good...!'

'Wade and Jade have Grimm set up in some kind of cage.' Kim said. 'We're going to... see what we can do for him.'

'Statue therapy.' said Monique, some evenness returning to her voice. 'Badical...'

Rhonda had lurked uncomfortably in the background, not too keen on watching any Team Possible related mushy stuff, but at Kim's words, she perked up and listened. 'Grimm's here?' Rhonda said, and she started looking around wildly. 'Stupid mist!' she said. 'I need Rueful to take me to him....'

And inside the garage, Rueful sat up, his whiskers twitching. Jade was sitting on a bench, looking bored, her eyes half closed and her head drooping. She didn't notice as the weasel slithered through a gap in the door.

And Rhonda suddenly saw Rueful, squeaking and chittering, looking straight at her. He squeaked and pointed, then seemed to dart off somewhere. She followed after her pet, entering what looked like a blurry, ghostly garage. But she saw Grimm, imprisoned in some wild looking contraption.

'Jade must have helped with this....' she thought. 'Only she would build something this crazy.'

Rhonda ventured closer. She couldn't tell exactly where she was - her vision of the surroundings was too dim. She heard a soft trill and looked down. Rueful was standing next to her and looking up at her. 'Hey little guy...' she said, kneeling down. Again, Rueful trilled, trying to nuzzle his head against her arm, but passing through her like vapor.

'Oh man, look at us.' she said, a tear dropping from her face. 'I'm like a ghost or something, and Grimm's a statue... This really tanks!' Rueful scratched at the air where her hand was.

She stood and walked up to Grimm. 'I would have given anything to see you.' she whispered. 'But not like this! Why did you do it, Grimm? I saw you push Kim out of the way, but you didn't do anything to save yourself.'

She reached out, but her hand passed through him. A tear ran down her cheek. 'Grimm...' she said, shaking her head. 'You've never given up before in your life! If you gave up because of me - if you can hear me somehow - I need you to keep fighting! You're the only one who can save me Grimm, please....!'

The mists were closing around her again, the garage fading. Rhonda had covered her face with her hands, and so she didn't see Grimm as his arm began to move....

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Jade had fallen asleep on the bench near Grimm's restraint apparatus. She hadn't realized how tired she was until she was left alone in the garage. Her head was half mashed against the wall and her mouth was open with her tongue lolling out in a whispering snore. She still held a wrench in her hand. All was quiet except for the computers that whirred in the background.

Rueful had been chittering, standing near Grimm and looking up at something while he squeaked. Jade woke up, hearing the sounds. 'Whazzah...?' she said blearily. 'Whacha wake me up for you polecat...?' Then she fell silent, seeing a look on Grimm's face of intense effort, or concentration. She saw his mouth open, and heard a voice....

'Wade! Get in here!!!'

Wade left his research, hearing Jade's scream. She didn't sound terrified, but there was something in her voice that pierced him with sudden urgency. He awkwardly picked up his half-finished Moo Goo Guy Gun from his workbench and clattered towards the garage.

He expected to find Grimm on the loose and rampaging, but from what he could see when he got in through the door, Grimm was still securely bound. Kim and Monique were also coming in. As soon as Kim entered the garage, Grimm began moving, reaching out one hand and trying to punch her. But the cables and the manacles hummed, and his arm came to a slow stop. He flexed his fingers, clutching at her, but the harness was keeping him in place.

Jade was staring at Grimm as if shocked, and Wade looked back and forth between them. 'What's going on?' he said.

'He spoke.' said Jade. 'And he moved - on his own, without Kim around to set him off!'

'What did he say?' said Wade.

'It sounded like... Emmet.' she said. And both she and Wade flinched, hearing a hoarse, grating sound as Grimm's voice sounded as if in response to hers.

'Em... et.' he said, and his voice was stony and flat, yet it sounded as if even speaking these two syllables was taking tremendous effort. Grimm was straining against the metal bands, which creaked dangerously, but held him fast. Jade and Wade were both pursing their lips.

'Emmet?' said Jade, shaking her head. 'Emmet who? Grimm please - I don't understand!'

'Em... et!' Grimm said, punching his fist at Kim again. 'Em... et!'

'No wait, look!' said Wade, pulling her back and pointing at Grimm's fist. Grimm's hand was balled up, but the punching motion was off - more like an undercut - and he was only using his left hand. His right arm and both legs were motionless. He looked closer at the left hand, and saw something on the back, just behind his knuckles. There were three strange symbols etched there, hard to see against the greyness of his stone skin, but definitely there.

Wade turned to Kim, his eyes suddenly blazing. 'You were there when Maze brought the Grimm statue to life. What exactly did he do?'

Kim closed her eyes and thought, trying to remember. 'I was kind of punch-drunk at the time.' she said. 'But... I remember Maze was chanting something, and he touched Grimm with his hand.'

Wade's face brightened as if he'd solved a nagging math equation. 'Was it the left hand that he touched?'

'I... think so.' she said, leaning to peer at the symbols. 'What kind of writing is that? I can't read it, but it looks kind of familiar...'

'It ought to.' said Wade, looking closely. 'It's Hebrew. You might have seen some of these characters on the scrolls at Ron's Bar Mitzvah.' He sat down at one of the computer desks and was rapidly typing. Jade, not to be outdone, sat at another console and began typing as well.

'Hebrew?' said Kim. 'But Maze's not Jewish, he's Blackfoot. What does it say?'

Wade and Jade looked up from their computers to Grimm's hand and back. Grimm managed one more grating rasp. 'Em... et!'

'Emet.' said Wade in a whisper. 'That's... the Hebrew word for truth.' Then they stood in silence for several seconds.

Both Wade and Jade smacked themselves in the forehead at exactly the same time. 'Golems!' they both shouted.

'That's gotta be it...' said Wade, hunkering down and typing faster than ever.

'Stupid, stupid... shoulda seen it ages ago!' Jade said, typing in unison with Wade.

'Hello?' said Kim impatiently. 'There are people in this room who haven't figured it out yet!'

'Oh, sorry.' said Wade, turning quickly back to Kim. 'It's an old Hebrew legend, with references to a book on mysticism called the Sefir Yetzirah.'

Kim shook her head. 'I only knew a few Jewish words, like Bar and Mitzvah.' she said.

'The early Cabbalists believed that a righteous man could create a living being from the earth itself, fashioned from stone, mud or clay.' said Wade patiently. 'But it was form without spirit - an incomplete creature - a golem.'

'Gollum?' said Kim. 'That bug-eyed freak from the Lord of the Rings movie?'

Wade rolled his eyes. 'No, that's pronounced gah-lum. The Hebrew mythical creature is pronounced go-lem. Like Shego-lem. Think of them as living statues - creatures made of earth that can move and act as if they were flesh.'

'And that must be how Maze brought Monkey Fist back in the first place!' Jade chirped. 'I bet anything those symbols are on the back of his left hand too! This is different than what happened when Monkey Fist released the Yono. And that's why beating Maze didn't defeat Monkey Fist or cure his victims - because Maze didn't break the Yono's curse - he just looped around it!'

'But how is Maze doing that?' Kim said. 'He's not a Hebrew mystic, and he's sure not what I'd call a righteous guy....'

'I'm not sure....' said Wade, looking back down at his screens. 'According to these legends, golems can't speak. But Monkey Fist can - and so did Grimm. Unless he found a way to somehow mix good and bad magic...'

'He did!' Jade said loudly, looking up from her console. 'Several months ago - he used Grimm's body to channel some of the power of the Great Bear Spirit into himself! It wasn't much, but the Great Bear's power... well I guess you'd call it good. It's light and spirit - but Maze's shadow-medicine is all about darkness. When Maze's power and the power of the Great Bear merged, his abilities expanded to mingle light and shadow.'

'And now Maze is using that power to hijack the mysticism of the Sefir Yetzirah.' said Kim. 'He's making an army of go-lems that only obey him.'

'It's worse than that.' said Wade. 'He's teamed up with Monkey Fist, who's still infused with the power of the Yono. For all intents and purposes, he is the Yono. By animating his stone body with the golem enchantment, Maze has given Monkey Fist back his ability to move as well as access to all the Yono's abilities. And Monkey Fist is learning how to use the Yono's power to turn victims into stone - an enchanted stone that seems able to take a lot more punishment.'

'And that means that Monkey Fist and Maze don't even need to construct statues to make into golems.' Kim said darkly. 'By turning their enemies and victims to stone, they'll have a ready-made supply to use as slaves who have no choice but to obey.'

She looked curiously at Wade, a smile lurking at the edge of her lips. 'What happened to not believing in magic?' she said. 'You said a lot of pretty un-scientific things just then and you didn't even bat an eye.'

'Well d'oy.' said Wade, shrugging. 'Everyone who's played Dungeons and Dragons, and Everlot knows about golems. It's like Moon Beyond Ios - you just know this stuff.'

'O... K...' Kim said, trying to see the connection between being a sci-fi fan and accepting the existence of magic, 'But what does any of this have to do with the Ultra-Atmospheric Jammer?' said Kim.

'Well fluh!' said Jade. 'They're using it to broadcast Monkey Fist's power. That must be how they petrified everyone in Graniton at once - and in Basalton.'

'Well it's great we know what they're called now, but how does that help us?' said Monique, piping in for the first time. She had listened carefully, trying to get caught up, and wondered what the bottom line was. 'Is there any way to stop a golem?'

Kim looked to Wade, wondering if this flash of revelation would continue to yield answers. Wade was reading again. 'According to the legend of the Golem of Prague, you can stop a golem by scratching out the first symbol in the word emet.'

'So what are we waiting for?' said Kim, picking up a screwdriver from the workbench. 'If you're right, then we'll know how to stop Monkey Fist, and save everyone they petrified.'

Suddenly Jade was standing between Grimm and Kim. She had her wrench raised as if to hit anyone who got too close, a look of fear and anger in her eyes. 'Get away from him, you harpy!' she snarled.

Kim was non-plussed for a moment, wondering how a skinny, pint-sized kid like Jade thought she could stop her, and then wondering why she was trying to in the first place. 'What's your problem?' Kim said. 'Do you want him cured or not? I personally don't care if he stays a statue, but I thought you'd....'

'I know you don't care!' Jade hissed, interrupting her. 'I suppose you think this is a dream come true! But there are two enchantments at work here - Monkey Fist's and Maze's - so there's three possibilities if you scratch out that letter. One, the separate enchantments will sustain each other and nothing will happen. Two, both spells depend on each other and both will be broken. And three, either one could trump the other and the subject would....' She faltered, putting her hand over her mouth. The corners of her eyes became dewy and she was biting her lip.

Kim turned to Wade. 'Wade help me out here...' she said. 'I don't do geek-speak!'

Wade was shaking his head. 'It all has to do with the words.' he said. 'Emet means 'truth', made with the three Hebrew characters Aleph, Mem and Tav. If you strike out Aleph, the character on the far right, then emet becomes met. Which means dead.'

Kim felt a chill on the back of her neck. 'So... if we did this to a golem made the way Maze and Monkey Fist have done it....'

'It could kill him!' Jade shouted. 'There's too many variables we don't know! A normal golem is made from totally inanimate matter, so when a golem enchantment is broken, they just become normal statues. But Grimm is a person turned into stone and then into a golem - he might just become a statue again. But turning emet to met could also mean his life ends with the golem spell.....'

Wade left the desk to stand in front of Jade. 'If you can think of a test to run which will let us know which one it is, I'd love to hear it!' he said.

'You know I can't!' said Jade, but she didn't get out of the way, and Rueful joined her, climbing up onto Grimm's shoulder and growling at Kim and Wade. 'The only way to test it is on one of the actual victims, but if you think I'm gonna let you use Grimm as your guinea pig...'

'By now Maze and Monkey Fist and everyone they kidnapped have gone to ground again!' Wade shouted. 'Where are we gonna find anyone else?'

Jade was looking more and more agitated. 'I... I don't know!' she said helplessly. 'But I'm the last member of Team Probable - and I have to protect him!' Wade stepped back, seeing an actual tear running down her face. 'I should have bogged off with Grimm when I had the chance!' she said. 'You promised you were going to help me save him, you promised...!'

'This may be the only way to save him.' Wade said. 'There's nothing else we can do - we have to try.'

Jade didn't answer, but she also didn't get out of the way. The wrench was shaking in her hand, but she dropped it as she heard a rasping sound behind her.

'Met...' said Grimm, still punching at Kim with his left hand.

Jade turned and stared at him while Rueful hopped onto her shoulder. Kim sighed. 'It looks like Grimm decided for us.' she said.

 

Jade pushed a chair to the harness and stood on it, putting her hands around Grimm's neck as if embracing him. Tears were rolling down her cheeks. It was hard to tell with his stony features obscured, but Grimm seemed to be looking back at Jade. Jade looked totally miserable, a tear fell fell from her eye onto the rough surface of Grimm's shoulder

'Darn it Grimm...' she whispered. 'We've already lost Rhonda... If I lose both of you I don't know what I'll do!' She sobbed, leaning her head against his cold, rocky neck. 'She was like a big sister to me, and.... darn it Grimm you're the best friends I've ever had, you're the only friends I've ever had! If we lose you... What'll I tell your parents? What'll I tell your sisters?'

Monique quietly stood next to Kim, looking on the scene with surprise on her face. 'You sure they're evil?' she said. 'I thought there was some kind of rule that bad guys always had to do the double-cross - but they really seem to look out for each other...'

Kim shook her head. 'You expect the bad guys to follow rules?' she said. 'But if they have to break a rule, that seems like a good one.' She looked down at the screwdriver in her hands, and sudden doubt was in her mind. What if scratching out the symbol did end Grimm's life? That would mean she would be responsible for essentially killing him. And clearly in her mind, she remembered their fight in her backyard.

Grimm was blocking her every attack, his infuriatingly smug face mocking her rage. 'You think what you've felt up to now is pain?' he said. 'You think this is suffering? I haven't even started with you yet Kim! Getting rid of your loser BF was just the beginning - by the time I'm through, this cushy life you've got will be finished!'

And she finally landed the blow she had been struggling for so long to inflict. He fell to the ground, and unable to stop herself, she had launched herself onto him, striking him savagely. 'You helped them!' she screamed, 'This was all your fault! I hate you!!'

She shook her mind back to the present, but didn't feel any less conflicted. She had wanted Grimm defeated, arrested and imprisoned; to be justly punished for his crimes. And she had wanted to be the person who brought him to justice. But this was different. And she reflected bitterly that this somehow felt like yet another of Grimm's head-gaming tricks - deliberately maneuvering her into a position where she might have to sacrifice everything she ever stood for - and take a life.

But what choice did they have? If Monkey Fist and Maze could truly use their Jammer to strike large areas, then any number of places could be at risk at any time. And she felt a prickle of fear, wondering if even now their plan was to strike Middleton itself. They couldn't find any more golems to test on, and they needed answers before more people were petrified and turned into golem slaves. They might even take her family, or Monique's....

Kim walked forward and gently led Jade down from her chair. She was sobbing, blindly stumbling as Kim pulled her next to Wade. Wade looked utterly terrified as Jade collapsed onto his shoulder, bawling uncontrollably. 'Kim!' he said helplessly. 'She's a villain! And she's crying! What the heck am I supposed to do?'

'Comfort her!' Kim whispered.

'Um... there, there.' said Wade, stiffly patting Jade's shoulder while she cried. 'There, there, there, there....'

Jade paused, and there was a heavy sniffling, followed by the rather wet sound of nose being blown. 'Aw, jeez!' said Wade, looking over his shoulder with revulsion.

And as Kim stood in front of him, Grimm renewed his straining against the harness. Kim could hear them creaking, but they seemed to be holding. Grimm's left hand punched out, but halted because of the shackles. He kept his fist held out, half looking as if he were trying to strike her, half as if he was deliberately holding out his hand for her.

She held the screwdriver firmly, her hands lowered to the shackles which held his left arm. On the back of his hand, the three characters showed faintly against his stone skin. This would either bring Grimm back, or be her final revenge on him. She had wanted to hurt him after their fight. But now she wished she was a thousand miles away, and she couldn't stop herself from remembering their first encounter in Stafford Base.

'Who are you?' Kim asked, staring at the newcomer.

'Grimm.' he said, smiling broadly. 'Grimm Probable.'

She reached down, planted the blade, and gouged the screwdriver with all her strength across the Aleph symbol. The tiny groove left by the screwdriver obscured its shape, and at once all three symbols began to glow with a faint yellow light. The light faded, and then it was as if the signs were composed of a substance that was burning away. Smoke rose in snake-like tendrils from his hand. Grimm let out a terrible scream and Jade bit her knuckles. The stone on him seemed to be dissolving, melting away like a layer of ice.

Grimm collapsed within the restraining harness, breathing heavily. Jade was staring at him and trembling. For some time, there was silence. Then Grimm slowly raised his head, looking around until his eyes fell on Kim.

'So... I owe you one?' he said, staring at her and gritting his teeth.

Kim stared back at him, 'Yeah.' she said quietly.

Grimm sighed and shook his head. 'That tanks....' he said, and then he fell unconscious.

 
   
Coming Soon:
Chapter 18

In life, this thing is well known for its constancy...
What is it?

Author: Only one guy guessed the riddle properly and was brave enough to send it via PM. Congrats to "Paulpoland9@aol.com"! Yes - Golems. This will either make you slap your forhead and say "Oh....", or it will raise yet more questions...

 

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