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

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

Chapter 19:
A Riddle
Part I: Welcome To Riddleton

          Kim kept a firm grip on the steering wheel of the Sloth as she followed the Ksikkihkíni through a network of highways, off ramps, back roads and thoroughfares so baffling that she wondered if any of them led anywhere at all.  But Grimm seemed to know where he was going, and Kim had to stay on her toes to keep him in sight as he didn't give any warnings or direction through his communicator when he changed course.

 

          They had been driving for at least eighteen hours, though Kim no longer had any clear sense of how much actual distance they had traveled.  As they veered onto another winding road, Kim glanced towards the back seat, where Wade and Monique were buckled in.  Rufus lounged in the front passenger seat with his head behind his hands, an empty Nacho caddy next to him, and looking quite content.

 

          'Where are we, Wade?' Kim said, for what felt like the hundredth time.

 

          Wade answered with as much patience as if she had asked a hundred times.  'I don't know.' he said.  He was fumbling with his communicator and a road atlas at the same time, his head shaking as he looked out the windows, then at the maps, then at his console in a dizzying cycle.

 

          'How can you not know?' said Kim.  'We've got GPS, we should have an exact fix.'

 

          'The satellites aren't tracking us here for some reason.' Wade said.  'The only times I've been blocked this heavily were by high-end government and military scramblers.'

 

          'Is that what's happening now?' said Kim.

 

          'Could be.' Wade answered.  'I'm getting the same kind of 'national security' vibe.  I've got a representation of the road layout, that's about it.  Sending it to your console.'

 

          Kim looked at the dashboard readout as a grid of green lines against black scrolled up.  The number of roads shown seemed unusually high, but she could discern a pattern as it zoomed out a little more.  'It looks... kind of like a question mark.' she said.  'Weirdness.'

 

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          On the Ksikkihkíni, Jade kept her arms around Grimm's waist, despite the seatbelt. She had ridden around on her hover-platform rather recklessly, but found herself more nervous with someone else behind the wheel.  She sighed, getting even more nervous as they neared their destination.  'OK, I have to ask again,' she said.  'What the heck are you thinking, letting Possible and her gang follow us home?  Are you blankety-blank-blank crazy?'

 

          'Don't sweat it.' said Grimm.  'You know all the safeguards we've got in place - hiding the physical location was just the first tier.'

 

          Jade fidgeted.  'Regardless, the first ring of defense will be down if we let them stay.  Why let them in at all?'

 

          Grimm shrugged as the road kept zooming by.  'I admit part of me wants it to happen just so Kim can enjoy a taste of 'turnabout soufflé'.  But there are other reasons.'

 

          'Such as?'

 

          'Same as before, pretty much.' Grimm answered. 'She's lucky.  And a little luck never hurts.'

 

          Jade wasn't mollified.  'She's got Wade in tow.' she said, shaking her head.  'And they're gonna blab the location to Global Justice, or call in a media rent-a-mob...'

 

          'I keep telling you - don't worry about Global Justice.' said Grimm.  'And as for the media... you're forgetting Leigh.'

 

          'If Kim yells loud enough, someone will listen.' said Jade.

 

          'I've got some ideas on that too.' said Grimm, smirking under his helmet.  'If Possible gets the itch to call the cops, there's always the seppuku scenario.  Did you set everything up before we left?'

 

          'Yes.' said Jade, sounding resentful.  'But I'd feel better if I knew we didn't have to use it.'

 

          'Me too.' said Grimm.  'But at least now, the option is open.  And if Possible uses this as a chance to make trouble, she'll be in for one whale of a surprise.  Heads up, we're almost there...'

 

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          Several straight minutes of trying to get a fix on their exact location through satellite and GPS brought no results.  Wade eventually had to concede that without a more powerful transmitter, he wouldn't be able to get a lock on where they were.

 

          To cover the silence that followed, Kim tried turning on the radio, but 'Another Holiday' was playing, and the chorus filled the car.

 

          Distant lands are not so far away!

          I don't know why we don't go!

          Take my hands, I'll show you the way!

          Pack your bags and sail away!

 

          Kim shut off the radio with an angry glare as Grimm's bike scudded across the road in front of them.  'Next exit.' Grimm's voice came over the car's sound system.  'Just keep doing what you normally do and stay a few steps behind me.'

 

          'Rrrrrr!' Kim snarled under her breath.

 

          'Don't rise to him girl - chill!' said Monique.

          Kim growled, but turned the Sloth onto the next exit, following after Grimm.  As they took the exit, Kim saw a large metal sign on the side of the road, colored green with the same reflective letters used on interstate signs. In huge, bold print it read, "Welcome to Riddleton - Population ?????? And Still Growing!"

 

          As they followed Grimm into the city and towards the unknown, Kim reflected again on the events which had led her to this crossroads...

 

Part II: Farewell To Middleton

 

          'Kim?' said her mother.  'Did I hear you right?  You're going into... hiding?'

 

          'That's such a loaded word.' said Grimm from off to the side.

welcome

         The Possible and Stoppable families were gathered around the table in the kitchen at Kim's house.  Grimm had consented to come back momentarily if only to explain the sitch, though he declared it was all Kim's fault for insisting on following him.

 

          'Think of it as moving to a secure location so she can more easily strike without detection.' he said.

 

          'That does sound cooler.' said Jim.

 

          'But it's still not your usual way of doing things, sis.' said Tim.

 

          'I think we crossed that line already.' said Kim, looking at the empty chair where Ron normally sat during mission discussions.

 

          'And remind me again why you're leaving, and we're staying here if you think it's dangerous?' said Mr. Dr. Possible.  Kim didn't answer, but Grimm piped in at once.

 

          'Because Monkey Fist couldn't care less about you guys.' he said.  'He wants Kim - out of the way.  The only way he might think you were useful would be as hostages to lure Kim out.'

 

          'And why didn't you tell us they might decide to target our houses with their 'turn to stone' ray?' said Mr. Stoppable quietly.

 

          'This is my way of telling you.' said Grimm.  'Besides, I don't think they will. Turning you to stone would be fast and painless.  They'd want something a little more... slow to make sure Kim came running to the rescue.'

 

          'Oh - well, that makes me feel much better.' said Mrs. Dr. Possible.

 

          'I think he's right.' said Kim grudgingly.  'It was the same at the Yono shrine.  Monkey Fist wanted to make sure I could see it coming.  If I'm not there to see it this time, he wouldn't think it was fun.'

 

          'So what are we supposed to do while you run off into the blue with our daughter?' said Mr. Dr. Possible with a glare.

 

          Grimm smirked faintly. 'Just go about your normal, happy lives.' he said.  'And it would be best if you acted like she wasn't even gone.  They might send spies to look in on you, and if they see you all nervous and angstey, they'll know something's up.'

 

          'How long...' Mr. Dr. Possible started, '...and I'm not saying I agree to any of this, but if you do go away, how long would you be gone?'

 

          Kim glanced at Grimm, who shrugged and looked away.  Kim sighed.  'Until I find Ron.' she said at last.

 

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          Kim felt rushed over the next couple of hours, preparing to leave on her journey.  She was surprised when she called Club Banana to try and arrange time off.  She had been dreading it, because she was sure the owners of the branch would fire her.  She had run a gamut of absences before because of her missions, and thought this might be the final straw, just as it had been at her brief stint in Bueno Nacho.

 

          But to her astonishment, they said that a work-exchange program had already been arranged, and that she was required to accompany Monique on a temporary transfer to another branch.  When Kim asked where the transfer was located, they told her that a guide had already been appointed.  When she hung up, she saw Grimm across the room, lowering his own communicator and nodding.  And Kim was left wondering why he seemed so helpful and smug when she would be following him to his villain's hideout.

 

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          Back at Ron's house, Jade looked around, making sure everyone was otherwise occupied.  Mr. and Mrs. Stoppable were supervising the packing of Rufus' long-term travel kit and making sure it followed all the items on Ron's list.  Grimm was unceremoniously taking his bags out to the Ksikkihkíni.  In the midst of it, Jade quietly slipped up to Hana's room.  She was in her crib, playing with a stuffed monkey, but when Jade came in she looked up and smiled.  'Sister!' she squeaked.

 

          Jade smiled and picked her up, giving her a small hug.  'I'm not your sister, kiddo.' she said.  'But... before I left, I just wanted to say goodbye.'

 

          Hana hugged her back, but didn't seem to understand a word of what Jade was saying.  She batted at one of her earrings, laughing.  'Sister!' she said again.

 

          Grimm had noticed Jade was gone within five seconds.  His suspicious nature kicked in and he slipped away as well, finding her within fifteen seconds.  But he looked in surprise as he saw Jade hugging Hana and smiling.  He stepped aside, peering from around the corner of the doorway as she spoke again.

 

          'I have to go away now, baby H.' she said.  'I don't know if we'll ever meet again.'  Her voice sank to a low whisper that Grimm barely heard.  'But I wish....'  but her voice broke and she stopped speaking.  Finally she put Hana back in the crib and gave her a little kiss on her forehead.  'So long, rugrat.' she said.

 

          Grimm darted into another room as Jade came out into the hall.  Jade stopped, leaning against the wall and he heard her sobbing quietly.  'Stupid kid...' he heard her saying.  'Why'd you have to be so cute?'

 

          He saw her pass by the door, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand.  When she was out of sight down the stairs, he stepped into the hall, looking back towards Hana's room.  Then shaking his head, he went back down to the living room.

 

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          Kim paused outside of Barkin's office.  The thought of asking him a favor without him giving her 'the look' sent a shudder up her spine, but she knocked on the door and heard his imperious voice.

 

          'Enter!'

 

          When Kim went into the office, she saw him sitting behind his desk and going through a number of papers.  'Ms. Possible.' he said flatly. 'To what do I owe this explosion-free visit?'

 

          'I... needed to ask a favor.' she said, and paused.  How she was going to phrase this in a way that wouldn't cause Barkin to give both her and Ron the entire semester's worth of homework in advance was something that would take great care.

 

          'Stop wasting my time Possible, I already know everything about it.' said Barkin, waving her off.

 

          'You... do?' Kim said.  She had only told her parents about it a few minutes ago, how could Barkin have heard anything?  But the answer popped into her head just as Barkin gave it.

 

          'Your friend Probable contacted me and let me know about the exchange program.' he said.  'Although it seems more like a visitation program since you and he were both here at the same time.  But all the arrangements seem to be in order and classes for both you and Monique will continue at his school without interruption.'  He squared his shoulders and narrowed his eyes in the stern way she had come to expect from him.  'I expect you to be on your best behavior, Ms. Possible.' he said, lowering his voice.  'Our school has standards, and it would be a great disappointment if you carried your penchant for destruction and disruption to another school.'

 

          Kim sighed.  'You know me Mr. Barkin.' she said cheerily.  'Doesn't matter where or when there's trouble, if you just....'

 

          'Oh I know the jingle, Possible.' said Barkin, his voice still low and dangerous.  'Which is why I gave the warning.'

 

          After that came a task that was equally distasteful - arranging the cheer squad.  Every member showed up during break for her announcement, and most of them looked dismayed.  'You're leaving us without a leader?' said Tara, looking forlorn.

 

          'He-LO.' said Bonnie. 'I'll be here!'

 

          Tara glanced at Bonnie, then back to Kim.  'You're leaving us without a leader?' she said again, looking even more forlorn.

 

          Bonnie looked furious, but Kim pressed on.  'It won't be for long.' she said, though in her mind she added, 'I hope.'  'Until then...' and she paused with a heavy sigh, '...Bonnie will head up the practices.'

 

          The other cheerleaders didn't quite groan, but they came close.  After some discussion of the schedules, they dispersed with the other squad members heading back to their classes.  Bonnie remained staring after them and smiling as if she had been anointed queen of the galaxy.

 

          'I have to say Kim,' she said.  'Probable's school has made you smarter already.  Putting me in charge - that has to be the best decision you ever made.'

 

          Kim grimaced, wondering how to forestall any abuse Bonnie might put to her authority before she tried it.  But she looked at her watch and realized it was getting close to the time Grimm said he was going to leave and decided she didn't have time to be gentle.

 

          'By the way Bonnie, while I'm gone, I'll be giving more thought to the matter of bringing in new squad members.' she said, and saw Bonnie flinch slightly.  'Since you haven't come up with any ideas, I'll have to do it on my own.  I'll check on the squad when I get back - that'll factor into any decisions I make.' said Kim.

 

          Bonnie's lip went into a tic that indicated she was fighting to suppress a diatribe of snarkyness.  But at last, her horrible tooth gritting smile creaked into place.  'I'd be.... delighted to help.' she winced.

 

          'I knew I could count on you.' said Kim in her chirpiest voice, trying not to sound smug.  And she left the gym, thinking that arranging this part of her absence had at least been fun.

 

          Unseen behind the bleachers, Grimm was smirking...

 

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          Later at her house, Kim looked out through the window at the driveway.  Wade and Monique were loading bags into the trunk of the Sloth.  Grimm and Jade were standing next to the Ksikkihkíni, staring at them and looking impatient while Rueful scurried around between them.  Kim sighed and looked down at her own bags, already packed and ready to go.

 

          Mrs. Dr. Possible laid a hand on her shoulder from behind.  'Kim... are you sure about this?'

 

          Kim turned to face her family.  Even Jim and Tim were looking somber.  'I know it seems crazy,' she said.  'But so far Grimm has given me some solid ideas about where to find Ron.  The more he comes up with, the closer we get.  And I want to be there for it.'

 

          Mr. Dr. Possible looked gravely at his daughter.  'I think you know I don't approve of this idea.  I mean, beyond the fact that you're going off unsupervised with a BOY...'  He grimaced, then went on, 'I just don't like the idea of being out of contact with you.'

 

          'I don't either.' said Kim.  'But I also don't like the idea of waiting here for Monkey Fist to target the house thinking that I'm inside it.  At least this way, you should all be safe.'

 

          Mr. Dr. Possible smiled faintly and patted her shoulder.  'Just don't turn your back on that Grimm character.' he said. 'He may have promised to help find Ron, but he's still one of the bad guys, and he's still a BOY....'

 

          'Don't worry.' Kim laughed.  'I didn't say I was going to trust him.  But for the moment, the enemy of my enemy is.... not as big an enemy as my other enemy.'

 

          Mr. Dr. Possible scratched his head.  'I can do complex algorithms, but even that one's beyond me.'

 

          Kim heard a horn honking which sounded like the four-tone alert that Grimm used for his communicator.  Glancing back out the window, she was Grimm glaring and pointing at his watch.  Kim sighed heavily.  'It's time to go.' she said, turning back to her parents.

 

          Mr. Dr. Possible looked uncomfortable as he spoke.  'Well, uh, be sure to eat your vegetables...'

          'Yes, dad.' Kim said patiently.

          'Be sure to keep up with your homework...'

          'Yes, dad.'

          'Curfew rules still apply, even wherever it is you're going...'

          'Yes, dad.'

          'And... we love you.' he ended sheepishly.

 

          Kim paused, then pulled both her parents into a bear hug.  Jim and Tim made gagging faces, but Kim ignored them.  'Thanks guys.' she said.  'You're the greatest.  And... I'll be back soon, I promise.'

 

          She knelt down in front of her brothers, who shuffled uneasily.  'Well - so long sis.' said Tim.  'Yeah.' said Jim.  'Try not to mess up the car again.'

 

          Both twins struggled in protest as she hugged them both.  'Ew, gross!' said Jim.  'Sister cooties!' said Tim. 

 

          Kim maintained the hug, though.  'Stay out of my room, tweebs.' she said softly before letting go and standing up.

 

          'Hikka-bikka-boo.' they answered, their voices flat and droning.

 

          From Kim's hip pouch, Rufus smiled and wiped away a tear.  'Awwww!' he squeaked.

 

          Kim opened the front door, hoisted her bags, and with a final glace at her family, she stepped out onto the porch and closed the door behind her.

 

Part III: Meet The Probables

 

          Kim saw the bike slowing down and turning into a driveway.  Kim pulled the Sloth by the curb in front of the house where he had turned in, seeing him getting off the bike and taking his bags out of the Ksikkihkíni's trunk while Jade stood fidgeting next to him.

 

          Kim got out of the car, looking at the house in surprise.  She had been expecting a 'lair', like the stark bastions that Drakken and Dementor always used, but the house in front of her looked utterly normal.  It wasn't as stylized as her own house, but it was slightly larger, with a wider yard.  There seemed to be nothing remarkable about it and it blended right in with all the other surrounding houses and yards.  The neighborhood seemed respectable and clean, with an above-average number of trees and greenery.

 

          She walked up the driveway while Monique and Wade got out to look around.  'What's with the June Cleaver split-level?' she said. 'I thought you said your 'work' paid well.'

 

          Grimm's eyes flicked to her, looking slightly confused.  'It does.' he said.  'But not everyone needs a limo and a mansion to prove it.  I've got... plans for the money we've earned.'

 

          Kim glared.  'Plans that include....?'

 

          'Nunna.' said Grimm, staring at both Kim and Monique.  'As in - nunna your beeswax.'

 

          Jade cleared her throat.  'G-man, if you don't need me, I'll go home and do some prep work.  If we're gonna do a sustained global search I'd better get started...'

 

          'Yeah.' he said, nodding.  'And get in touch with Twitch if you can - I'll need to talk to him.'  Jade nodded back to him and hoisted her bag, setting off on foot down the sidewalk.  Wade looked up at Kim, who nodded almost imperceptibly.  Wade nodded back and then followed after Jade.

 

          Grimm didn't seem to notice. With Rueful on his shoulder, he hefted his bags, opened the door and strode into the house.  'Mom - Dad - I'm home!' he called out.

 

          Kim and Monique followed.  The house was well furnished, if slightly over-streamlined with an art deco flair.  The entryway led into the living room, which had bookshelves and an ElDorado stone wall.  The painted walls were lined with family photos and there was a trophy case at the far end where a number of gleaming cups shone gold from the underlit shelves.

  welcome

          'Grimm?' came a voice from around a corner.  'Where have you been?  I wish you'd call more if you're going to be away for too long!'  Kim stared as a slender, attractive woman with auburn hair stepped into the room, dressed in a purple blouse and skirt, and wearing a flowered apron.  She stopped, staring at Monique and Kim in confusion.  'And... when you're bringing friends over.' she finished. 'And you are....?' she asked suspiciously.

 

          Kim felt momentarily awkward.  It was a villain's house, and here she was meeting the villain's mother.  She wondered briefly if they knew what Grimm was, if they approved of it; or if he was keeping his villain life secret from them, like Dr. Drakken had from his mom.  She almost hoped that he was, so she could spill the beans on him.

 

          Grimm sighed.  Then he gestured to Kim and Monique.  'Mom, this is Kim Possible, and her friend Monique.  They'll be helping me out with my mercenary work for a while.'

 

          'So they know.'  Kim thought.  It figured.  They were probably a whole family of mercenaries.  Mrs. Probable was still looking at them suspiciously, and particularly at Kim.

 

          'And... where's Rhonda?' she said, and Kim recognized the tone of voice at once.  It was almost identical to the one her own mother used whenever she was surreptitiously trying to hustle her and Ron closer, and questioning anything that kept them apart.  As plain and plain, she knew that Mrs. Probable was suspicious that Grimm was checking out other girls, and disapproved of it.

 

          Grimm frowned.  'Rhonda's gone MIA.' he said.  'It would take too long to explain - but one of her friends went missing along with Rhonda.  We're putting our heads together to try and find them.'

          'Then let them form their strategy, honey.' came another voice from the other side of the room.  A man with was standing there, with slightly greying hair that was styled into a rigid crew cut.  He was wearing a boring red necktie and a dark grey suit.  He had a plastic badge pinned to his breast pocket which Kim recognized at once as a DOD badge.

 

          'Though your mother's right, boy.' he said.  'You should have let us know you were bringing strangers.  You know the protocol about this town.'

 

          'I'm sorry dad.' Grimm said.  'But I felt it had to be done.'  He turned to Kim.  'These are my parents.'

 

          'Yeah, I guessed.' said Kim.  Then feeling she should introduce herself, she started.  'My name's Kim...'

 

          'Kim Possible - teenage crime fighter.' said Mr. Probable, nodding.  He looked at Grimm.  'So we'll be going through Global Justice on this one?'

 

          'Eventually.' Grimm muttered.  'Once she's been here a while, we may not have to.'

 

          Mr. Probable nodded quietly.  'All right then - but let us know immediately if they don't follow through.'

 

          Kim kept her eyes fixed on Mr. Probable's badge.  'You're with the military.' she said.  'Your family collaborates with Global Justice?'

 

          'I believe you've met our liaison officer, Dr. Director.' said Mr. Probable, nodding.

 

          'You're with the DoD, and you know Grimm has been engaging in illegal activities?' Kim said, her voice rising.

 

          'Of course we know.' Mr. Probable said, frowning.  'You think a nation as free and open as this maintains it's security by pretending like everyone else is playing by the rules?  Rules only stop honest people missy - and treaties only stop honest nations.  Against tyrants, mad scientists, and super-villains, a treaty is nothing but a fancy piece of paper.  To protect an honest, decent people from the scum of the earth, you have to take out the scum where it lives.  And sometimes that means you need people who can get around the rules.  You can call them 'mercenaries' if you want - but people like them are needed so the real bad guys can't tear up the rules completely.'

 

          'You can't preserve the law by breaking it.' said Kim angrily.

 

          'It's done every day.' said Mr. Probable.  'I think you of all people would understand that, missy.  I know all about you - zipping in and out of other countries, breaking and entering at will, destroying private property - all in the name of justice.  And all without any regard for international law, or local law when you work stateside.'

         

          'That's different.' said Kim.

 

          'Why?' said Mr. Probable.  'Because you do it?  And you're fine with it as long as it's you?  Get over yourself Possible, you're not that special.  We have covert forces all over the globe who do the same thing you do - they just don't hog the cameras after the job's done.'

 

          Kim glared.  'People like your own son?'

 

          Mr. Probable chuckled.  'I didn't push my boy to do what he does.' he said.  'But he does it better than anyone else.  Sure he takes money from these 'super-villains'.  But I'd rather my son had it than them.  And it's because of Grimm that we've been able to access these villains’ files and secrets in ways we'd never have been able to before.  All their weapons and genetics technology.  The jobs he pulls for them keep us perfectly appraised of all their plans before they even launch them.  And thanks to my boy here, we've opened a very promising department of mysticism.'  He seemed to catch himself at that moment, and said, 'Or did we?  I'm really not at liberty to say.'

 

          'And you don't mind that he's helping these crooks with their schemes?' Kim said, incredulously. 

 

          Mr. Probable smirked, and Kim could see at once where Grimm had inherited his.  'How do you know he's not secretly working to bring them down from the inside?' he said.  'Maybe he is, and maybe he isn't.  You didn't hear it from me.'

 

          'And what if one of them succeeds in taking over the world?' Kim said.  'Will it seem like a good idea then?'

 

          Mr. Probable's voice became brisk.  'How many of them have actually taken over the world?'  Kim glowered, but didn't answer.  'Coincidence?' Mr. Probable said, his smile returning.  'You tell me.'

 

          At this, Mrs. Probable cleared her throat.  'Honey, if they're going to be staying in town for a while, I don't want you making things harder by doing your 'lecture the bleeding heart' routine.' she said firmly.

 

          Mr. Probable grumbled, but stepped back.  Mrs. Probable turned back to Grimm.  'Now Grimm, you know I don't approve of any girls staying here...' she started.

 

          'No need.' said Grimm.  'I'm making other arrangements - though they may be here every so often for planning sessions.'

 

          'All right then.' said Mrs. Probable, still looking doubtfully at Kim and Monique.  'Just call ahead if they're staying for dinner so I can cook extra.  And remember I can't chaperone all the time.  I'm due back at the embassy soon...'

 

          Kim blinked.  Embassy?  But Grimm was nodding and heading towards a hallway where a number of doors lined each wall.  Monique was tailing him and Kim made to follow, but before she could, Mr. Probable stepped in front of her.

 

          'Just remember missy, I'm keeping an eye on you.' he said quietly, his handsome face contracting into a stare as equally protective and threatening as she had seen on her own father.  'My boy's too good for any old riff-raff.  He's got a good thing going with that Fatigable girl, and if you try anything to get between them, I can make sure the IRS takes a close look at your family - colonoscopy close.'

 

          'Don't worry.' said Kim, her eyes just as steely.  'I wouldn't make any moves on him - because I've got the same policy about riff-raff that you do.'  And before Mr. Probable could say anything more, she side-stepped him and hastily followed Monique down the hallway.

 

          'Embassy?' said Kim sharply, once she caught up.

 

          'Mom's one of a number of ambassadors to a foreign country.  I'm not saying which of course.' said Grimm.  'But as a diplomat, she's got...'

         

          'Diplomatic immunity.' Kim growled.  And suddenly she understood more about why finding the Probables had been so hard, and harder still to pin anything on them.  Diplomats received levels of protection that most people could scarcely imagine.  Their homes and identities were guarded zealously so that terrorists and unfriendly nations wouldn't be able to target them.

 

          'Her and every member of her family.' said Grimm.  'But it's kind of like the battle-suit - I don't like relying on it when I do just fine without it.'

 

          And Kim suddenly understood why all the houses in the neighborhood had similar architecture and why the neighborhood seemed so quiet.  'Your family's not the only one in the neighborhood with military brass and diplomats - right?' she said.

 

          'Not bad.' said Grimm, smirking.  'But it's not only this neighborhood - the entire city is a safe haven for a number of diplomats, heads of state, and covert military groups.  So you might want to think twice before pushing Wade too hard to try and get a fix on our location.  The black ops have a whole network set up to mis-direct any signals, but they get kind of ticked off if someone tries too hard.'

 

          'So if you had all these layers of protection, how come you never let me find you before?'

 

          Grimm smirked as he opened one of the doors, which led down a flight of stairs and into darkness.  'Just wanted to let you wonder.' he said,  'Besides, I know how much you love a challenge.'

 

          Kim had a sense of curious foreboding as she followed Grimm down the stairs and into a dimly lit basement.  Ever since her first encounter with Team Probable, she had wondered about where they hatched their schemes, where they plotted and planned their moves, where they launched the campaigns that had made her life so difficult.  And as many lairs as she had raided in her work, this one held more curiosity for her than any other since she hadn't been able to find it on her own.

 

          But just as she had been on seeing the house, Kim felt a bit let down.  The basement seemed totally ordinary, with some food storage at one end, boxes and other items stacked at another, a furnace, a tankless water heater, a washer and dryer; all the things one would expect to find in a basement.  She kept her eyes on Grimm, expecting him to pull a lever or push a button that would cause all of these ordinary items to rotate, or sink into the floor and reveal computer banks, lab equipment and other mercenary gear.

 

          Instead, Grimm headed to a section of the basement that had been walled off.  Taking out a key, he stopped in front of a wood-stained door, but saw it was already slightly open with light streaming out.  Wincing, he pushed open the door and stormed in.

 

          As Kim followed behind him, she heard two squealing voices that sounded out in surprise, and the sound of something metallic being dropped. Without pausing, Grimm went to a sturdy looking desk and sat down at a computer.  As he sat down, he jerked his thumb towards the door and barked, 'Twisters - out!'

 

          'Twisters?'  said Monique, coming into the room last.

 

          Grimm snorted.  'Twins.  Sisters.  Twisters.  Although they do enough damage they may as well be tornadoes.'

 

          It was then that Kim saw two young girls, about Jim and Tim's age.  They looked like mirror reflections of each other, except one was wearing a pink shirt, the other off-pink.  They both had eyes like Grimm's, and Kim could see the shadow of his smirk on both sets of lips.

 

          'You should give us more warning,' said the first girl,

          'Before you go off somewhere.' said the second.

          'And before you come back.' said the first.

 

          'Why?' said Grimm, looking impatiently at the monitor while the computer booted up.  'So you can have a timetable for tearing up the place?  And anything you took, broke or tweaked, fix it.'

 

          But the twins were looking up at Kim and Monique.  One looked slyly at Grimm, while the other stared at Kim.  'Bro, unless you're starting up a dating service, we're telling Rhonda that you're bringing some new chicks into your looooooove nest!'

 

          'Rhonda's missing.' said Grimm flatly.  'And I'll thank you to mind your own business.'

 

          They paused.  'Missing?' said the first.

 

          'Missing where?' said the second.

 

          Grimm threw a foam brick at them.  'Somewhere she can't be found - hence the word missingD'oy.'

 

          'So who...'

          '...are these gals?'

 

          Grimm didn't look away from the computer screen as his OS booted up and his desktop came into view.  'They're here temporarily to help with the search.' he said.  'Monique - Kim, these are my sisters, Lynn and Miriam.'

 

          'Call me Mim!' said Miriam with a nasty look.  'Jeez, no one uses Miriam as a serious name anymore...'

 

          Lynn ignored her, because she was still gaping at Kim.  'Kim...' she said, and her eyes flew wide.  'You're Kim Possible!!'

 

          'Kim Possible?' shouted Mim, her eyes joining Lynn's in looking at her. 'The Kim Possible?'

 

          'Oh boy, here we go...' said Grimm, covering his eyes with a hand.

 

          'You know me?' said Kim.  She could understand Mr. Probable knowing about her, given his military connections, but she couldn't think of any reason why Grimm's sisters would know about her.

 

          'Know you?' said Mim.

         

          'We've practically got a shrine built in our room!' said Lynn.

 

          'True.' said Grimm in a low mutter.

 

          'You're fans?' Kim said, surprised.  'Why?'

 

          They looked mischievously over at Grimm.  'Because you annoy him.' said Lynn.

 

          'And that's good enough for us.' said Mim.

 

           'Haven't you losers got a car to build or something?' Grimm said more loudly. 'Out!'

 

          The twins glared.  'Fine, but if she stays for dinner, she's ours.' said Mim.  They left and closed the door, sticking their tongues out at Grimm before it shut.

 

          Kim couldn't help feeling amused.  'So even your sisters like me better than you.' she said. 

 

          'Burn!' said Monique, and high-fived Kim while Rufus sniggered.  Rueful's head poked around from behind the monitor and he blew a raspberry at Kim.

 

          Grimm rolled his eyes, bringing up what looked like an e-mail browser.  'You can join your local fan club later.' he said.  'Once I catch up on my email, I'll show you where you'll be staying.' Kim edged around to try and get a clearer view of the computer monitor, but Grimm leaned to block her, and pulled a privacy screen over the monitor face.  'Boundaries!' he said.  'I didn't barge into your room or try to peek at your email.'

 

          Monique had already pulled out one of the chairs around the table in the middle of the room and sat down, but Kim stayed standing, taking a closer look around.  She saw that one of the walls was covered with a layer of corkboard.  And pinned to the cork was a veritable mural of photographs.  She saw pictures of Team Go, Team Impossible, members of Global Justice, and even a few pictures of herself.  All of the pictures showed the subjects with various expressions of anger or embarrassment. 

 

          Kim winced, and recognized the pictures of herself as the ones Rhonda had taken during the Zorpox incident.  She tried to fight down the anger the memories triggered, and examined the rest of the room.  Besides a rather spartan bed, the room didn't have much furniture.  There was the table, jumbled with various parts and equipment.  There was the computer desk and some shelves lining the wall with a ramshackle assortment of books.  But beyond that there were only a few sports posters here and there, an accordion door closet, and some martial arts equipment propped up against the wall.  The only light was from a phosphorescent fixture set in the ceiling, and a tiny basement window that looked up into the yard.  Despite the large size of the room, the overall effect was dim, boxy and confining.

 

          'Nice place you got here.' said Kim.  'Does Batman know you're using his cave?'

 

          'Sorry we don't have a loft for you to perch in like your penthouse at Middleton.' said Grimm sarcastically.  'So the show bird doesn't like the decor?'

 

          Kim rolled her own eyes in turn.  'I was just expecting something a little more... evil.' she said.

 

          Grimm sniffed impatiently.  'And what exactly classifies?' he said.  'Skin mags and drug paraphernalia?  I'm a villain - not a pervert or a junkie.'

 

Part IV: With Friends Like These

 

          There was a thumping noise of someone clattering down the stairs.  Kim instinctively braced herself, pulling Monique aside and going into a fighting stance. A second later the door flew open and a boy about Grimm's age strode in.  He was wearing a light bomber-style jacket and blue jeans and his hispanic-complexioned face had a friendly smile.

 

          'Senor Grimm - donde has estado?' he said, 'I heard you were back and came over to welcome you home!'  Without looking up, Grimm bumped fists with him.

         

          'Hey, Enrique.' he said.

 

          'You have been greatly missed my friend - and you would not believe what that perdedor Donnie has been up to while you were gone...'

          'Whatever it is, I believe it.' said Grimm, smiling faintly.

 

          'And where is the beautiful Rhonda?' he said.  'Dare I hope that she has finally decided to accept my offer to prove I can be a better boyfriend...?'

 

'Fat chance.' said Grimm, and his expression became darker.  'And how many times have I told you to stop asking?'

 

          'Tranqile, Senor Grimm...' Enrique said, holding up his hands.  'We both know her heart burns only for you, but still - a man can dream....'  He started to casually look around the room, and he saw Kim.  His eyes gleamed and his face took on a dazed expression.  'Though a man's dreams can change...' he said.  'Amigo, you did not tell me you were hosting a goddess!'

welcome

          With a smoothness that Kim recognized as having been achieved through practiced ease, Enrique took and kissed her hand.  Kim might have been flattered, for Enrique was kind of cute, but the thought of Ron replaced any sensation of charm with discomfort.

 

          'My red-haired angel,' he said in a low voice, and Kim saw Grimm rolling his eyes from his desk.  'You must be new in town because I would certainly remember having seen a woman of your surpassing beauty.  My name is Enrique - and yours....?'

         

          'Spoken.' said Kim quickly.  'As in - spoken for.'

 

          'Ah - my heart!' he said, putting a hand over his chest in simulated pain.  'I suppose it was too much to hope that one such as you would be available...'  But his voice faded, and the hypnotized look he had shown to Kim immediately shifted as his eyes fixed on Monique, and he stepped forward muttering under his breath.  'Senor Grimm - que esta la chica negricita bonita....?'  but before Grimm could say anything he had already smoothly taken Monique's hand and given it a swift, but tender kiss.

 

          'Hola my dear,' he said.  'My name is Enrique, but you can call me the greatest boyfriend on the face of the earth.'

 

          'Hello, Enrique.' Monique said coldly, pulling her hand back.

 

          'I sense you are new in town as well.' said Enrique eagerly.  'RIddleton has many places of beauty, charm and romance.  I humbly offer my service as your guide.'

 

          'I don't think so, Enrique.' said Monique, putting her hands on her hips.  'So far since coming in this room, you've tried to sweet-talk three different girls - and one of them isn't even here.  I got two words for that, homeboy - tact less.'

 

          Enrique didn't appear ruffled at all.  On the contrary, he still had a look of fawning adoration on his face as he kept smiling at Monique.  'When a man sets out to catch a star, he must cast a wide net.' he said.  'And with such fire as you have, a star you must be....'

 

          Monique winced, leaning until Grimm was back in view.  'Have you got a leash for this guy?' she said.

 

          'You will need no leash for me to follow you to the ends of the earth....' Enrique muttered.

 

          'Enrique - back off.' said Grimm casually.  'We've talked about this before - playing cool?  Kim Possible - Monique; this is my best friend Enrique.  Assistant curator at the Riddleton Museum of Arts, arguably the best sculptor in town, and widely acknowledged as the most active dater at Riddleton High.'

 

          'He exaggerates,' said Enrique waving his hand. 'I assure you both, I am pure as the wind-driven snow...'

 

          Monique groaned, shaking her head.  'Can we focus?' said Kim.  'We're supposed to be working - not that meeting your peeps isn't a blast and a half, but there are people I can meet at home if I need to.'

 

          Enrique pulled his eyes away from Monique reluctantly.  'Es verdad, Grimm - you are working?'

 

          Grimm nodded.  'And if you're willing, I might need some extra hands before it's all over.' he said.  'Rhonda's missing.  I need to find her.'

 

          Enrique looked dumbfounded.  'Un amor que faltan!' he said.  'Not the lovely Rhonda?  I swear by the beating of my heart, I will never rest until she is back safely in your arms...'  Though his eye strayed back to Monique as he spoke.

 

          'Thanks Enrique.' said Grimm, still typing at his keyboard and smiling faintly.  'If anyone on earth can find a missing girl, it's you.'

 

          Grimm's computer made a sudden beeping noise identical to his communicator and a window popped open showing Jade's face. Kim could see Wade standing in the background looking around curiously, though it looked like they were still outside.  'What's the sitch?' said Grimm, still checking his inbox.

         

          'I'm ringing Twitch.' came Jade's voice.  'Patching you through...'

 

          The window blurred with static, and a flat, grey room showed, though there was no one to be seen.  Grimm waited a moment, then spoke with a raised voice.  'Twitch.' he said loudly.  But there was no answer.  'Twitch!' he said again, more loudly, and again nothing.  Sighing, he hit another key and the chat window made a loud buzzing sound.  'Wake up Twitch.' Grimm nearly shouted.  'It's barely noon, I know you're there!'

 

          And at last someone leaned his face into view of the webcam.  Despite looking half asleep, he moved in a series of spastic jerks.  Kim's first thought was that he was some kind of street tough, as he had a disheveled appearance, a bandana tied around his arm and a haggard complexion.  'Dang, Grimm.' he said, and there was a trace of sleep still in his voice.  'You disappear for over a week, not even a word, now you turn up again and expect me to be on just like that? What is wrong wit' you?'

 

          'I need eyes and ears, Twitch.' said Grimm.  'Unless you and the Irregulars have got other stuff to do.'

 

          'Yeah, actually.' said Twitch, looking annoyed.  'We're goin' down to the orphanage to read to the kids...'

 

          'Standard fees apply.' said Grimm wearily.

 

          Twitch's face suddenly brightened, his eyes sparkled and he looked like he had just noticed him.  'Grimm!' he said eagerly.  'We missed you dawg, where you been at?'

 

          'Here and there.' said Grimm.

 

          'So where's blondie?' Twitch went on, his eyes darting back and forth, his entire head jerking slightly as he looked.  He seemed to notice Kim and Monique in the background for the first time. 'Who are those honeys?  Grimm you ain't steppin' out on Goldilocks are you?  Dude, that is whack!'

 

          'I'm not 'steppin' out' - Rhonda's gone missing.'

 

          This seemed to silence Twitch for a moment.  'Yo, sorry dude.' he said, his voice softer. 'Who was it?  That Go team?'

 

          Grimm shook his head.  'That's why I need you and the Irregulars.' he said.  He brought up two photographs, one of Monkey Fist, one of Maze.  'These are the guys behind it.  I need you to find them.  Turn out the local gang, and have them fan out to any contacts overseas they can muster.  If we find these guys, we find her.'

 

          'Dude looks like a monkey.' said Twitch, shaking his head.  'And who's that other guy?'

 

          'His name's Maze.  No, not 'maze', it's 'mah-zay'.  If you find them, don't try to take them out, just report it to me right away.  Trust me, they're bad news.  Are you downloading the pics?'

 

          'Yeah, yeah.' said Twitch.  'Just can't believe you want us lookin' for Curious George and Squinto...'

 

          'It's important, Twitch.' said Grimm.  'They've been hitting small towns in England - Basalton and Graniton.  They might try others, so tell everyone to keep their eyes peeled.  If you can find them, I'll double the fee.'

 

          Twitch whistled, then nodded.  'Bro', I am on it.'  he said.  'But wherever you been, point me there.' he said, leaning his head.  'Looks like you picked up some pretty nice souvenirs...'

 

          Monique rolled her eyes.  'Oh boy, here we go...' she said, but Grimm smirked.

 

          'Sorry, I didn't introduce you yet.' he said.  'This is Monique, the other girl is Kim Possible.'

 

          Twitch nearly fell out of his chair.  'What?' he said, and almost looked like he was convulsing.  'Kim Possible?  The crime fighter?  Dude, are you crazy?'

 

          'It's like you to be scared of your shadow Twitch, but not scared of girls....'

 

          'Dude, I am not comin' round to visit if she's there!' he said, pointing a shaky finger at Kim.

 

          Grimm sniffed.  'Like we've ever met in real life anyway?' he said. 'Just don't give her any reason to arrest you, you'll be fine.  And call me if you find them.'  Twitch winced and reached up his hand, filling the camera, then the window burst into static.

 

          Monique shook her head.  'Those are your peeps?' she said.

 

          Grimm smirked.  'They're the Riddleton Irregulars - Twitch is the local ringleader.  I wouldn't recognize any of the others by sight, but they're everywhere.  They can get information even I can't sometimes, because they're so ordinary looking that no one notices them.  They're so regular it's irregular.'

 

          'Yeah, Irregulars - I get it.' said Kim.  'But I thought we were assuming that Monkey Fist is holed up somewhere in England, not stateside.'

 

          'They've got an England branch headquartered somewhere in Baker Street.'  Grimm said.  'If Monkey Fist or Maze show up anywhere, the Irregulars will spot them.  But we can't assume they won't ever venture across the pond.'

 

          'So what happens next?' said Kim.

 

          Grimm's eyes narrowed.  'For someone who plays everything by the ear, you're sure impatient when other people do it.' he said.  'Right now, we wait a bit and see if the Irregulars turn up with anything.  In the meantime... you need a place to stay.'

 

          'Curfew rules.' said Kim.  'I'm not staying here.'

 

          'Wouldn't want you to.' said Grimm, smiling.  'But I already said, I've got another place ready to go...'

 

          'Senorita Monique, there is a spare room at my home which is very comfortable...' Enrique said brightly.  Monique backed away from him, but Grimm interrupted.

 

          'Rope it in, Enrique.' he said.  'The place I've picked out has two spare rooms.'

 

Part V: Meet The Omo-sa Family

 

          Wade looked around with interest while Jade linked Grimm up with Twitch.  After hiking a couple of blocks, Jade had walked up to what looked like a gated compound.  The wall was draped with ivy and very intricate in appearance, but it was still very tall and very solid-looking.  Jade walked up to an ornamental iron gate and entered a series of numbers on a keypad.  After a few seconds the gate buzzed loudly and pulled open with a metallic grating.  Wade saw a polished brass plaquard mounted on the wall that read 'Omo-sa'.

 

          Jade passed through the gate and onto a long cobbled driveway.  As Wade followed her, he thought they had stumbled into some kind of re-creation of a Japanese palace.  A wide, sweeping yard with bamboo foliage rose up towards a large house on a hill.  As they walked up the driveway, Wade saw several elaborate features to the yard including a rock garden, a shrine, and a large Koi pond with working fountains.

 

          The house itself was done in the style of a Japanese building, retooled for a temperate climate.  Jade opened one of the heavy double front doors and Wade followed her in.  The interior seemed very opulent.  The walls, the floor and the ceiling were done in polished marble, with decorative carvings and columns here and there.  Display tables with intricate sculptures  extended down a long hallway like a museum corridor.  Jade took off her shoes and got into a pair of slippers from a caddy next to the door, and motioned Wade to do the same.

 

          'The rents don't like dirt.' she said, looking with a wince down the spotless hall.

 

          A young woman who looked similar to Yori stepped out from one of the side doors, smiling.  She was dressed like a house servant, but had a friendly face.  'Jade-sama!' she said brightly.  'You have come back - and you bring a friend with you, that is most unusual....'

 

          'Hi Sakura.' said Jade.  'How have things been?'

 

          Sakura's smile didn't falter, but her face took on a knowing expression.  'Without you around, very quiet.'

 

          Jade chuckled.  'I bet.' she said.  'Well, it'll get a lot louder pretty soon once dear old dad gets wind that I've brought company.  Sakura, this is Wade Load.  He's a computer geek, know-it-all, inventor, everything that I am - except dad will probably like it because he's a guy.'   She looked around nervously.  'Speaking of which - where is he?'

 

          Sakura still smiled as she looked back down the hall.  'Funny you should ask....' she said.

welcome

          Jade winced and froze as a gravelly voice seemed to roar down the hallway.  'Jaaaaaaaaaade!'

 

          Wade saw a man and a woman approaching down the polished marble hall, their footsteps echoing slightly.  The man was short, balding and severe-looking, with black, square framed glasses.  He wore a black suit and tie with shoes that were nearly as shiny as the floor.

 

          The woman was stern looking, but also seemed slightly wary of the man next to her.  She wore an intricately woven kimono and gold earrings.  Jade sighed and looked up at the ceiling as they both stopped in front of her and glared.  'What is it, dad?' she said in a drawling voice.

 

          'You dishonor this family!' said Mr. Omo-sa, with a blunted Japanese accent.  'You disappear for over two days - no message, no phone!  Normally, I would be delighted that you finally got out of your room and into the real world - but this!  You neglect your studies - neglect your parents - neglect our honor..!'

 

          'Dad - chill!' said Jade wearily.  'Even if I'd been gone a week, I'm still far enough ahead in my studies that it wouldn't matter!  And I didn't 'neglect' you, I'm right here, safe and sound. I was gone because of my work, which you say is all right because of the money it brings!'

           'But going off alone and un-announced?' said Mr. Omo-sa.  'And you come back with this...' and here he turned his gaze slowly to Wade.  '...gaikokujin.' he said with a look of distaste.

 

          Jade put a hand over her eyes.  'Dad - we've been in this country my whole life - you're the gaikokujin here, remember?'

 

          Mr. Omo-sa ignored her remark, still looking harshly at Wade.  'Why have you brought this stranger into my house?' he said, his voice rising.

 

          'For work, dad....' Jade sighed.

 

          'But a stranger still!' Mr. Omo-sa thundered.  'This American custom of bringing over friends and guests without a word of warning - in our country, it is not done that way!' said Mr. Omo-sa defiantly.

 

          Jade looked like she was about to respond.  But Wade leaned and muttered to her.

          'Mr. Nakasumi wasn't nearly this uptight...' he said softly.

 

          'Nakasumi?' said Mr. Omo-sa, his eyes now burning into Wade.  'Mr. Nakasumi - of the Nakasumi corporation?'

 

          'Yeah.' said Wade.  'We've saved him and his company a few times.'

 

          Mr. and Mrs. Omo-sa muttered back and forth to each other in hurried and muted Japanese. He knew some Japanese, but they were speaking too low for him to follow.  After a moment they both nodded, and then Mr. Omo-sa's entire aspect seemed to change.  His stern expression evaporated and became friendly and inviting.  He stepped forward like a father welcoming home a long-lost son and shook Wade's hand.

 

          'Load-san!' he said warmly.  'Welcome to our humble home!  You must forgive our surprise, but my daughter so rarely invites anyone over.  Please tell us... how is Mr. Nakasumi? There were rumors after the Diablo incident that he was retiring...'

 

          Wade was a bit alarmed by the sudden change in attitude, but returned the handshake weakly.  'He's... fine.' he said.  'Kyoko-sama said the sitch with the Diablo robots didn't affect their global sales, and he's still going strong.  I didn't hear them say anything about retirement.'

 

          Mr. Omo-sa nodded again at his wife, as if they had been testing him, and they became even warmer.  'So you and Possible-chan have come to help my daughter with some project?  I hope you will accept our humble hospitality.  We have a guest house near the garden in back - it would be a great honor if you were to stay there.'

 

          'That's... very kind of you Mr. Omo-sa.' said Wade.  'But I don't wish to impose...'

 

          'Nonsense!' Mr. Omo-sa thundered, clapping a hand on his shoulder.  'I insist that you stay.'

 

          Jade sighed.  'Just say yes.' she said under her breath.  'He won't shut up until you do.'

 

          'Ah... thank you sir, I'd be honored.' Wade said uncomfortably.

 

          Mr. Omo-sa nodded.  'Jade will show you to the guest house.  You will also join us for dinner!'  Both sentences sounded like commands issued from an emperor.

 

          'Yes... sir.' said Wade, for it looked as if refusal might trigger some kind of explosion.

 

          'Very good!' Mr. Omo-sa bellowed.  And Wade, remembering his protocol from their several encounters with Mr. Nakasumi, bowed his head and backed away from them slowly.

 

          Jade shook her head.  'Come on, 'Wade-san'.' she said grumpily.  'Probably just as well you stayed close by anyway so our tele-conferences don't take as long.  But stay away from my room unless I beep you, savvy?'

 

          'Fine, house rules.' said Wade.  He followed her through the house and marveled at how spotless it was.  Polished marble was everywhere, along with several mirrors in ornate frames, but there wasn't a smudge or fingerprint to be seen.  Jade led him out of a nearly invisible sliding glass door into the backyard where he saw a smooth path of flagged stones leading a short distance to a smaller structure nestled near the corner of the rear walls surrounding the compound. 

 

          The smaller building was very similar to the main house, and as Jade motioned him inside, he saw that it was modeled with the same polished marble floors.  Though the interior walls seemed to be latticed bamboo with sliding barriers made of frosted paper.  There were only a few rooms, adequately furnished, and Wade was relieved to see internet connection ports on one of the walls.  Beyond that the guest house had an air of not having been used very often.

 

          'Settle in, Wadey.' said Jade, stumping back towards the main door.  'Dad's probably already sending someone to get your bags.  Dinner's at 7pm, and he's a stickler for punctuality if you want to keep sucking up to him...'

 

          'Wait a second!' he said, suddenly aware that he'd only packed regular clothes.  If the Omo-sa's dining room was anything like the rest of the house, he'd feel like a hillbilly who wandered into a state dinner.  'I haven't got any formal clothes...'

 

          'There's some extra clothes in the closet out here.' Jade shrugged.  'Hit the blue intercom button for one of the maids - they can let things out to your size.'  She paused, looking at his gut.  'Good thing too.' she muttered, and slid the door closed.

 

Part VI: Meet The Fatigables

 

          Grimm had a smug air of 'payback' about him as he led Kim down the block to another house.  After meeting Grimm's parents and learning who they were, Kim seemed to understand a little more about the neighborhood.  It was quiet, unusually quiet and ordered.  It had the same feel as some of the housing complexes she had been through in her occasional visits to military bases.

 

          'So the whole city is some kind of haven for military and diplomats?' Kim said.

 

          'Roughly.' Grimm shrugged.  'There are enough of them around that Riddleton gets top-level security at all times.'

 

          'So how do you keep the city secret?  Don't local businesses need to have things delivered from outside?' said Kim.

 

          'Riddleton is pretty well self-contained.'  Grimm answered.  'The local agriculturals grow the food, local manufacturers make this and that.  Anything the city decides it needs from out of town is delivered through military channels.  I can't say which of course...'

 

          'Of course.' Kim grumbled.

 

          'Apple doesn't fall far from the tree.'  Monique said under her breath.

 

          Grimm began walking up the driveway of another house.  It was very similar to his own house except it had a more 'woodsy' appearance, with log trim here and there, and some log furniture on the front patio.  Grimm knocked at the front door and after a few seconds, a blonde-haired woman answered.  She looked similar to Rhonda except her hair was shorter and her face seemed thinner.  A small boy of toddler age was in the crook of her elbow.

 

          'Grimm!' she said warmly, though she had an anxious look on her face.  'Did you find her?  Do you know where she is....?'

 

          'Not yet, Mrs. Fatigable.' said Grimm, shaking his head and actually looking ashamed.  'But I've brought in some help with the search and I hope it'll speed things up.'  He paused, sounding wary, then said,  'This is Kim Possible and her friend Monique.  They're specialists from Middleton.  They'll be in town pitching in while I keep looking.  I was... wondering if they could stay here for a while?'

          'Oh....'  said Mrs. Fatigable, looking surprised.

 

          'I wouldn't ask, but they need to be someplace nearby, and you know what a stickler my mom is about girls staying over at our place.'  said Grimm with a note of pleading.  'I'll arrange for meals to be delivered, and if you name a fair price for room and board, I'll totally cover it.'

         

          'Well, if it'll help to find my little girl.' said Mrs. Fatigable hesitantly.  'But I could use some help with Indy.'  She looked at Kim and Monique.  'Do either of you know anything about baby-sitting?'

 

          Kim felt a slow smile spreading her lips.

 

          A soothing, sonorous voice came from the side hallway.  'Why, we'd be delighted to help out!'  A man with a cheerful, round face came into the room.  He was wearing a charcoal grey suit with a red tie, though he looked much more mellow than Mr. Probable.  He had the air of a man with a very dull, tedious job which he worked because he enjoyed it.

 

          'Thanks, Mr. F.' said Grimm.  'You're sure it's OK?'

 

          'Oh, don't worry about it.' said Mr. Fatigable warmly.  'We've got plenty of room here, and it's been so quiet since Rhonda went missing.  But having a big house is one of the perks associated with being the top accountant in.... my place of business.' he ended sheepishly as Mrs. Fatigable elbowed him in the ribs.

 

          Mrs. Fatigable led them upstairs to a hallway that looked like it was normally well kept, but was now cluttered with baby toys.  'Sorry about the mess.' she said.  'Little Indy gets into everything.  Rhonda was the only one who could keep him occupied.  It's been tough for him with his big sister gone.'

welcome

         Indy burbled his lips while they stopped in front of a plain door near the end of the hall.  'You can stay in Rhonda's room.' Mrs. Fatigable said to Kim.   While Mrs. Fatigable showed Monique to the second spare room, Kim looked around the room into which she had been ushered.  Rhonda's room was much smaller than her own, without any of the airy space she enjoyed in her loft.   It was perfectly square, with a mirrored desk at one end, a bed at the other, a closet in one wall and a low set of shelves under the window.

 

          Kim slumped down into the chair at the desk.  'How in the world did I wind up here?' she thought ruefully.  She looked at the mirror and saw several ribbons clipped to the side.  "1st Place Long-Distance Runner" and "Chess Team Captain" were printed on nearly all of them.  And, she noted with much more embarrassment, there was a corkboard, pinned with a large number of photos of Rhonda and Grimm.  Some of them were taken when they were much younger, playing games, flying kites, and some Halloween costume photos.  But there were a large number that seemed to have been taken very recently, with Rhonda and Grimm tandem bike riding, laughing on a carnival ride, making faces at the camera, and a large photograph in the center of the two of them kissing, obviously candid, probably taken by Lynn or Mim.  A big heart was lined around both of them with red marker.

 

          She saw a photo album on the shelves.  Feeling like an intruder, but also feeling too curious to stop herself, she started thumbing through it.  She was shocked to see photos of Team Probable posing with Professor Dementor, others with Duff Killigan, Monkey Fist, and a number of other villains.  She recognized some of them as having been taken at the HenchCo Villains Convention.  They were clowning around, posing at various booths, singing at the Villain Karaoke bar, and making bunny ears with Shego behind Drakken's head.

 

          Behind the section with the photographs was a booklet of what looked like thank you letters.  She flipped through them and felt herself gritting her teeth as she read.

 

          Dear TP:

          Thanks for the assist the other week - we'd never have been able to get Operation Gurkin off the ground without you.  I know Shego thinks it's a waste of time, but when has SHE ever been right about anything?  Seriously, she could learn a thing or two from you guys - at least you know how to get the job done without sounding French! (Too much whine - get it?)  Anytime you need a ride, beep me!

          Evilly yours,

          Dr. D

 

          To Mssr Probable and Ms. Fatigable:

          Your team is a credit to all villainy.  My plan to find and use the mystic keys of Yamanouchi would never have been launched if you hadn't told me the school contained the map leading to the first shrine.  The world is an extremely suppressed place, and once I have taken control, your efforts will not be forgotten!

          Simian-cerely yours,

          Lord Montgomery Fiske

 

          PS - Bobo says 'Oooh-ooh-ah!'

 

          Yo, Probable dude!

          That was totally kickin' the way you swiped those experimental engine parts for me - and right under Global J's noses!  Dude, you are hardcore!  Seriously! I mean.... seriously!!

          Your bud,

          Ed

 

          PS - SERIOUSLY!

 

          Kim thumbed through them again and again.  Her heart pounded, and she felt like a treasure long sought after and nearly given up on had suddenly dropped right into her lap.  Here was what she had been hoping for - hard evidence that Grimm and Rhonda were mercenaries.  She felt her cheeks flush with anger as she remembered being skunked by Leigh Gality in her own home.

 

          'These accusations are nothing more than figments of your overactive teenage imagination.'

welcome

          She imagined the looks on Grimm and Leigh's faces in a courtroom as she produced the pictures and letters in this album, and a simmering feeling of satisfaction burned beneath her stomach.  She went to the door, making sure that Mrs. Fatigable was still seeing to Monique.  Then she started taking pictures of everything in the album using the camera embedded into her Kimmunicator.

 

          After a few anxious minutes, she checked the screen to make sure the photos were high enough resolution.  Then she quickly speed-dialed Wade.

 

          Soon Wade's face popped up, and Kim blinked.  He was wearing some kind of suit, and his arms were spread out.  She couldn't tell how he was holding his communicator.  'What's the sitch, Kim?' he said, and she realized her confusion had let him get the drop on her.

 

          'Wade,' she said, and she kept her voice to a conspiratorial mutter.  'Are you free to talk?'

 

          'Just a second!' Wade answered, wincing.  'I'm being pinned.'

 

          'Pinned?' said Kim.  'You're at a tailor's?'

          'Sort of.' Wade said.  'The servants at Jade's place know how to do all kinds of stuff.... But they're nearly done - hold on!'  There was some muttering, and the images on Kim's screen shuddered and tilted.  Eventually Wade returned, wearing an intricately woven robe over his T-shirt.  He was looking off to the side as if he were seeing someone out, then he focused on the screen again.

 

          'OK - we're alone.  I mean, I'm alone - what's up Kim?'

 

          'I found the mother lode, Wade.' she said.  'I'm at Rhonda's place, and she's got a 'Precious Memories' book full of pictures and documents linking her and Grimm to all kinds of heists.'

 

          Wade hurriedly hit some more buttons.  'Triple securing the transmission.' he said quickly.  'Kim are you sure about this?'

 

          'I'm sure.' she said.

 

          'This is big if it's true.' he answered.

 

          'Big?  It's massive.' said Kim.  'It means we can finally put them in cell block D where they belong!  I'm sending along screencaps of everything in their little book - I need you to make hard copies so I can switch them out and take the originals as evidence.'

 

          'OK...' said Wade, looking uncomfortable.  'But... do you want to do this right now?  I mean, we're kind of... guests and stuff.  Wouldn't calling in the cops make dinner with the parents kind of awkward?'

 

          'Delightfully awkward.' Kim growled.  'The deal was to help out until we find Ron and Rhonda.  And he said himself that once it's over, all bets are off.  Once Ron's back safe and sound, I want to make sure I've got the goods to put them away.'

 

          Wade still looked doubtful, but he nodded.  'I'm not sure when I'll be able to access a printer without Jade noticing, but I'll do my best.'

 

          'Please and thank you.' said Kim, and she closed the link.

 

          She started as she heard a noise.  A cat flap built into the door of Rhonda's room had rattled, and the furry brown form of Rueful slinked smoothly into the room.  He climbed up on the desk, staring up at the photos, then bowed his head with a mournful sounding trill.

 

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          Grimm was taking up his martial arts equipment when his communicator buzzed.  'What's the sitch Jade?' he said.

 

          'Looks like operation seppuku is nearly a go.  She's taking the bait.' Jade said simply.  'What should I do?'

 

          Grimm paused, tapping his finger.  'Nothing yet.' he said.  'But let me know if she actually bites.  I'll be out in the training yard.'

 

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          Kim was waiting in the hall when Monique came out of the spare bedroom.  'All settled?' she asked.

 

          'Settled as I can be this far from home.' Monique answered.  She looked closely at Kim.  'What's up, girlfriend?'

 

          'Nothing.' said Kim, suddenly aware that she was smiling.  She tried to turn the corners of her mouth down, but they wouldn't go all the way.

 

          'Uh-huh 'nothing.' Monique answered, sounding totally unconvinced.  'Girl you haven't looked this happy since that time Bonnie got sick in the cafeteria.  Do not make me wheedle it out of you!'

 

          Kim lowered her voice.  'It's not a cert yet, but I think I've got some intel that might put Grimm in jail.'

 

          'Get out!' said Monique.  'No foolin'?'

 

          'No fooling.  Let's head back to his place - but don't drop any hints along the way.'

 

 

Part VII: The Training Yard

 

          Kim and Monique trudged back to Grimm's house.  Kim was worried they might not find it, but the houses were only separated by about half a block.  Plus the Sloth was still parked by the curb, making an easy landmark. Mrs. Probable greeted them again at their knock, but still looked suspiciously at Kim.

 

          'I wanted to see Grimm.' she said, trying not to sound too curt.  'We need to hash out a few more details now that I've got a place to crash.'

 

          'He's in the training yard.' said Mrs. Probable, motioning backwards.

 

          Kim and Monique looked at each other.  'The... what?' said Monique.

 

          Mrs. Probable pointed around the side of the house.  'Past the garage and through the backyard to the wooded area behind the house.' she said.  'Follow the path, you can't miss it.'

 

          Kim and Monique walked around the house and into the backyard.  After passing through the back gate, they found themselves in a thickly grown field with bushes, trees and tall grass everywhere.  The chimneys of other houses poked up here and there, but they were distant, as if the houses in Grimm's suburb marked the 'boundary' of Riddleton with their house near the edge of a forest.

 

          The grass had a path beaten through it which was clearly visible, as if it had been well worn over several years.  They followed it until the trees towered up on either side.  The path threaded through some heavy trunks for a short way until the shade of the overhanging leaves became thinner again and they emerged into a wide clearing.

 

          Kim and Monique gasped.  They were standing outside a ring of bushes, but a bit further in was some kind of complex.  It looked about a third the size of a football field, a vast labyrinth of chain link fences set on top of a flat expanse that looked like it was made of the same hard, spongy material as a racing track.  Trees poked through here and there, but it looked as if they were left there on purpose as part of the overall theme of the complex.

 

          And the theme seemed to be a huge obstacle course.  There were sections with hanging rings, sections with ropes, sections devoted to climbing, some to crawling, some to running, and Kim recognized several martial arts practice dummies and practice targets.  A network of gutters ran throughout to funnel rainwater, and the main fence which surrounded the training yard looked strong and high, linked to one long cinder block wall.

 

          'What the heck is all this...?' Monique started, but Kim shusshed her, pointing to what looked like an entry gate with a security keypad.  A dozen yards past the fence, Grimm was standing.  He was dressed in a karate gi with soft shoes and he was breathing hard as if he had just run a long distance.  Another keypad was on a panel near to him, and he entered a code.  Barely audible over the distance, they heard him talk into a speaker next to the keypad. 

 

          'Once more.' he said.  'This time at level 9.'

 

          Grimm took a ready stance in the middle of a wide, empty space and Kim edged closer to the fence which ringed the training yard, careful to keep some cover in front of her.  Monique started as a number of panels in the ground raised up.  Housed in each one was a contraption that looked like a modified tennis ball launcher.  A loudspeaker blared from off to the side, broadcasting what sounded like a pre-recorded taunt by either Lynn or Mim, she couldn't tell which.

 

          'You're goin' down, bro!'

 

          Kim saw Grimm tense up, and heard him say, 'Not bleeping likely.'

 

          With a rhythmic series of hissing bursts, the cannons began launching tennis balls towards Grimm from randomized locations.  His face took on an odd calm as he gracefully spun in place, knocking each tennis ball aside before any of them could strike him.

 

          Kim saw a countdown timer in that section of yard, ticking down from sixty seconds towards zero.  Next to it was another lit screen that simply read '5'.  Grimm managed to catch one of the tennis balls in flight and sent it with a flick towards a wall-mounted target about ten yards away.  It hit the target, and the second lit screen moved down to '4' with a loud buzz.

 

          As the first timer continued to tick down, the volley of tennis balls became more rapid.  Grimm was obliged to leap and avoid several of them instead of blocking when both his hands were occupied.  None of them touched him, and he continued to catch more balls in the air, or scoop them up from the ground to launch at more targets which began to pop up and down from other hidden hatchways. 

 

          'Woah.' said Monique quietly.

          'Monique - do not praise the villain!' Kim said shortly.

 

          With a louder buzz, the second screen hit zero as Grimm hit his fifth target.  A gate slid open at the end of that arena, and he dashed through it, pursued by a hail of tennis balls.  The next section looked similar to a gymnastics field, with pommel horses, balance beams and ropes with rings swinging from several high poles.

 

          New cannons rose up in the area he entered.  He leaped and tumbled over the pommel horses, gripping some and turning to avoid incoming shots.  As he ran across a lengthy balance beam, he built up enough speed for a larger leap and clutched the ring from one of the hanging ropes.  Using the rope as an anchor, he ran along the side of the wall while tennis balls pinged just behind him.

 

          Once he reached the corner, he swung round in a wide arc before launching himself towards a springboard near the center. He overshot the mark, but pivoted in a handstand, knocking another ball aside with his feet.  Off to the side, a larger cannon rose and with a loud whump it launched a medicine-ball sized orb at Grimm, who spotted it just in time and hit the springboard.

 

 

welcome

          There was an explosion of white powder as the medicine ball burst apart, but Grimm was already sailing upwards in a rolling leap that took him to a new level raised above the others.  Another pair of counters lit up and he repeated the exercise he had gone through in the first arena, though the level he was on was much smaller and the cannons that surrounded him were much closer.

 

          He was looking winded, but he continued to fend off every attack, though he missed one throw at the moving targets.  The second counter read '10' to start with, while the first counter still registered sixty seconds.  Grimm barely managed to hit his tenth target before the first counter reached zero. There was another loud buzz when he hit the tenth target, and a bo staff was raised out of an enclosure on the platform floor.

 

          Grimm leaped and seized it, just as the cannons redoubled the pace of their firing.  Tennis balls sped at him from every angle, and his staff became a spinning rotor as he blocked and parried with fluid precision, sending every shot flying back before they could reach him.

 

          'Woah.'  Monique said again, and Kim was unable to stop herself from saying it along with her.  Kim stared in grudging admiration of a technique that seemed nearly flawless. Through her own training, she recognized that Grimm's skill must have been honed by this training yard to a razor's edge. 

         

          She looked down at her own hands and recalled the numerous duels she had fought against Grimm, and how frustrated she had felt because it seemed that despite her best efforts, she could never break through his defenses.  As she watched him block a dizzying volley of attacks from the tennis ball cannons, she began to have a greater understanding of why that was.  If Grimm trained this hard, every day, then her own attacks must have seemed to him as if they were coming in slow motion.

 

          A third counter had ticked down from thirty seconds once the super-barrage had begun.  By the time it hit zero, the platform around Grimm was rolling with tennis balls.  But at last it hit zero and a gong sounded.  The cannons stopped firing and began sinking slowly back into their housings and hatches.  The tennis balls were all rolling into the rain gutters which now seemed to be collecting them similar to pins in a bowling alley.  Grimm kicked a few towards the gutters as the training yard continued to shut down.  Finally he looked towards the starting point of the training yard where the loudspeaker was set up next to a concrete changing room.

 

          'Say it....'  Grimm called out.

 

          The loudspeaker sparked and Lynn's or Mim's voice sounded across the training yard in a resentful grumble.  'Your kung-fu is better....'  and as the last cannon sank out of sight, it said, '...jerk.'  Grimm smirked and gave his staff another twirl before heading into the changing room.

 

          'Uh, we came out here to see him.' said Monique.  'We gonna wait while he showers or whatever?'

 

          Kim was shaken out of her reflection by Monique's voice.  She felt suddenly that she didn't want to give Grimm the satisfaction of knowing they had been watching his performance.  'Let's go, I'm so not waiting for him.' she said, and she turned back towards the path leading to the house.

 

 

Part VIII: Breaking Bread

 

          It was later in the evening and the sun was going down.  Wade sat uncomfortably at a long dinner table made of black marble that was so spotless he was afraid to touch it.  He enjoyed quality Japanese cooking, and the dinner laid on the table in front of him looked excellent, but he was afraid to really tuck into it like he wanted to.

 

          Mr. and Mrs. Omo-sa were dressed as if they were attending a formal banquet with heads of state - or maybe it was just how they were used to dressing while they dined.  Jade was dressed very uncharacteristically in a beautiful kimono, though she looked very uncomfortable in it.

 

          The only sounds were the gentle clinking of utensils on the flatware, and the occasional sound of a glass being raised and set down.  Wade tried desperately to silence any sound of lips smacking or gulping from his throat as he ate and drank.  It made eating the meal seem like trying to navigate through a room of sleeping lions.

 

          He wasn't sure if he should try making small talk, so he remained silent, hoping that Mr. or Mrs. Omo-sa would prompt him in some way.  The servants brought in new courses and removed other plates with silent precision.  At last, after fortune cookies had been brought in, Jade spoke up.

 

          'Oh jeez dad!' she said, slamming down her cookie and breaking it into crumbs.  She held aloft the slip of paper which had been inside it.  'Obeying your parents is the only way to be truly happy'? Could you possibly be any more subtle?'

 

          'I do not control the fortune cookies, daughter.' said Mr. Omo-sa dismissively.  'However, that does sound like very good advice...'  He extracted his own fortune slip and looked over it with a smile.  'Ah - A strong parent is a benefit to the whole world!  Very true - very true indeed!'

 

          Now morbidly curious, Wade split open his own cookie and fished a slip of paper from inside it.  Looking down, he read the words, A strong adversary may lead you to even greater strength.  'Uh, I think I got Kim's cookie...' he said awkwardly.

 

          'Ah yes, the famous Possible-chan.' said Mr. Omo-sa, as if he had been waiting for a cue.  'As an accomplished man of business, I have followed the careers of many other successful businessmen - including the honorable Nakasumi.  Is it true that you were the one who took control of his automated toy manufacturing line after that mad scientist transformed it into a giant robot?'

 

          'Yes,' Wade answered.  'Though it was a little more complicated than that....'

 

          'Such modesty!' Mr. Omo-sa said loudly, his voice seeming to bounce off every marble wall.  'To perform so admirably in the midst of such chaos is the mark of true greatness!  Tell me, what clues led you to guess the right password?'

 

          Wade hesitated, thinking that he now knew one of the reasons for Mr. Omo-sa's hospitality.  Wade saw he had allowed himself to be maneuvered into a position where he might have shared such clues, or divulged the password itself.  He didn't know exactly what kind of business Mr. Omo-sa ran, but he was probably a competitor to Nakasumi.  And as a competitor, he would certainly be interested in hearing Mr. Nakasumi's secrets.  Even older passwords could be used to some advantage.

 

          'There were... a number of things I tried.' he answered cagily.  'In the end I just got lucky.'

 

          Jade sniffed.  'Yeah, that sounds about right.' she said under her breath.

 

          'Again, such modesty!' said Mr. Omo-sa, though his smile seemed a bit more rigid.  'But there is no need for it here, Load-san.  If I understand my daughter rightly, you could be here for several days.  I assure you I will never rest until I have heard the full tale of your courageous actions.'

 

          'That sounds.... awesome.' Wade said, feeling a bead of sweat on his forehead.

 

          When dinner was finally over, Wade felt as worn out as if he had been interrogated by Dementor.  He had dodged several questions, but he knew that Mr. Omo-sa wasn't fooled and that he would try again later.

 

          As he and Jade finally left the table, Mr. Omo-sa's booming voice rolled across the room again.  'Jaaaaaade!' he shouted.

 

          'What is it, dad?' Jade said, looking exasperated.

 

          'Remember - there will be extra work tomorrow in class to make up for your absence!'

 

          'Yes dad.' Jade said wearily as she left.

 

          'Class?' said Wade.

 

          'Yes, Load-san.' Mr. Omo-sa called from across the room.  'One of the rooms in this house is devoted to study and class work, and I have a private tutor to instruct my Jade.  You are welcome to join her in class tomorrow if you wish.'

 

          'Uh....' said Wade, but the Omo-sas were already leaving the dining room through another exit.  He hurried to catch up with Jade In the hallway and was surprised to see her shucking her kimono as she walked.  Underneath, she was wearing her normal t-shirt, shorts and sandals.

 

          'I can't stand this thing.' she muttered, slinging the kimono over her shoulder.  'Give me a pair of overalls any day....'

 

          'Your folks seem... nice.' said Wade.

 

          Jade snorted.  'Yeah, you saw what a riot our family dinners can be.  A million laughs.  And a word to the wise - don't feed him any info about Nakasumi.  If he thinks he's gotten all the  info out of you he can gather, it'll be sayonara Wade-san.'

 

          'Duly noted.' said Wade.  'Was he serious about classes?'

 

          'Was he serious?' Jade laughed.  'We're talking about a guy whose idea of humor is more homework!  Yes, he's serious.'  She raised her voice in a passable imitation of her father's grating voice.  'Class begins in the west wing at seven o'clock in the morning!  Do not be LATE!!'

 

          'Yeah...' said Wade.  He thought maybe their time would be better spent in arranging more search possibilities for Maze and Monkey Fist, but he reasoned he could still do that independently.

 

          'The servants set up computers in the guest house for you to use.' said Jade with a sigh.  'High speed access, multi-screen, printers, the whole nine yards.  Anything you think you can jury-rig to find our targets, try it.'

 

          On hearing the word printers, Wade's ears pricked up.  'You... don't mind me using them?' he said.  'I'd hate to impose....'

 

          'Knock yourself out.' Jade said, turning and starting down another hallway.  'What, do you good guys need to get permission before you do anything?'  And she disappeared around another corner while Wade was left near the rear door that led out towards the guest house.  Once back in his room, he saw Jade wasn't fibbing.  A very contemporary system was set up and ready to go, looking very similar to his own rig at home.

 

          He spied the printer sitting on a stand next to the mainframe, looking quietly innocent.  He took out his communicator and shuffled through the photos Kim had sent him.  The printer was high-end, and he would have no trouble making the copies Kim wanted - no trouble at all.  Compared to other things they had endured, this would be a cakewalk.

 

          And as Wade sat down, he reflected that it was all just a little bit too easy....

 

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          At the Fatigable house, Kim had her hands full with Indy.  Rhonda's little brother seemed to have a knack for exploring, climbing and hiding.  He wasn't as tough as Hana, but it was a near thing.  She nearly lost track of him twice before finding him balancing on the bed frame and later hiding in one of her own bags.

 

          Mrs. Fatigable walked by and Kim couldn't stop herself from asking.  'Is Indy some kind of.... super ninja baby?'

 

          'Oh my goodness, no.' said Mrs. Fatigable.  'He's just very curious.  I think he may grow up to be an archeologist of some kind.  He simply loves exploring.  Why, he found three Indian arrow-heads buried in the sandbox out back....'

 

          'He doesn't like Flippies, does he?' Kim asked.

 

          Mrs. Fatigable laughed again.  'No, no.' she said.  'Though he does seem to enjoy the kid shows on the Recovery channel...'

 

          As Kim cycled through the house in her attempts to keep up with Indy, she felt her stomach rumbling.  It had been twelve hours since her last meal, and she was disappointed that Mrs. Fatigable didn't seem to be making any extra food. 

 

          Just as she was gearing herself up to ask about dinner, there was a ring at the front door.  Mrs. Fatigable answered and Grimm came in shortly afterwards, carrying a pair of handled paper bags.  A delicious smell was around him and Kim felt her stomach rumbling in answer. 

 

          'Chow time.' said Grimm.  'But don't expect me to be the one making the deliveries every night, I've got other stuff to do.'

 

          Monique turned up in a flash and Grimm went into the Fatigable's kitchen. Kim followed, but even more than the smell of the food, she found the image of Grimm wearing an orange jumpsuit in Cell Block D bringing a smile to her face.

 

          'What's with you?' said Grimm, turning around once they were at the table.  'I've got the patent on smirk in this town.'

 

          'Nothing.' said Kim, smiling even wider.

 

          Grimm raised an eyebrow.  'You're weird.' he said.

 

          Monique was bending her head towards the bags, her nostrils twitching.  'I have never found something that seems like it smells better than it tastes.' she said.  'Until now!  Where did you get this?'

 

          Grimm shrugged.  'I know a place called 'Sato's' that's supposed to be the best.  After eating there, I haven't had any cause to argue with them.' 

 

          'This looks like Kim’s,' Grimm smiled as he handed her one of the bags before checking a slip of paper.  'Duck confi with roasted potatoes, garlic, and asparagus, a side of red cabbage and apples, slow-braised with apples and red wine, and Sato’s famous and ubiquitous ‘Peach Fried Pie’ and ice cream.'

 

          'And this is Monique’s,' he continued, handing her the second bag.  'A Cheddar beer-cheese soup, watermelon salad, a blackened-catfish salad, extra fish, and more Pie and ice cream.'

 

          Then as if he felt he'd said everything that needed saying, he stumped off and left through the front door.  Kim and Monique looked at each other, and handed each other their dinners.  'Just like him.' Kim muttered.  'Somehow he knew what our favorite meals were, then he gives us the wrong bags.'

 

          At a nod from Mrs. Fatigable, Monique sat down at the table and started taking caddies out of their bags. 'We're in enemy territory, so to speak.' said Monique.  'How do we know that...'  but then she saw a slip of paper taped to the top of the main caddy for Kim's dinner.  She pulled it off and opened it.  It was a handwritten note that said, 'No, it's not poisoned.  GP'

 

          Monique sniffed, passing the note to Kim, then turned attention to her food.  She hesitated, then took a bite.  'Oh!' she said, swirling her tongue.  'Oh, man!  If this is poison, then please let me live long enough to finish this meal!'

 

          Kim had to admit, the food was phenomenal.  And for several minutes, neither she nor Monique said anything, devoting full attention to their meals.  When she started on the peach pie, Monique's face took on an expression similar to as if she were getting a back rub from MIdas.  Kim had to fight hard to keep a similar expression off of her own face.  She figured it wouldn't do for the heroine to be bowled over by a dessert while in the villain's hometown.

 

          Kim heard her Kimmunicator beep and knew it was Wade.   'What's the sitch?' she said quickly. 

 

          'We need to talk about.... the project you had me start on.' Wade answered.  'You free?'

 

          'Beep me again in five.' said Kim, and Wade nodded before the screen went black.  Kim hurriedly cleaned up after herself, thinking that maybe her real dessert was soon to follow...

 

 

Part IX: Truth Or Consequence

 

          Soon she was back in Rhonda's room, closing the door behind her and sitting down at the desk.  'I'm alone Wade - what have you got?' she said.

 

          Wade was biting his lip.  'Good news.. and bad news.' he said.

 

          'What's the bad news...?' Kim said.  

 

          'Promise you won't get mad.' said Wade, rubbing the back of his neck.

 

          'Wade, if you don't start spilling....' said Kim dangerously.

 

          'Good news is, I made copies of the pictures just like you wanted.'  Wade said hastily.  'Bad news is, I also took the time to run some tests on them...'

 

          'Tests?' said Kim.  'They're photos.  What could you be testing.... for....'  but the truth was dawning on her and she felt a familiar cold chill that said she was about to find out she had been played.

 

          'Forgeries.' said Wade.  'I wanted to believe they were real, but I also wanted to keep in mind who we're dealing with - Grimm Probable, Mr. Misdirection himself.'

 

          Kim sighed.  'Let's hear it, Wade.'

 

          'They're all fakes, Kim.' Wade said, his face grim.  'The pictures, the letters, everything.  They're good fakes....'

 

          'As opposed to the evil fakes they normally use.'  Kim growled.

 

          'Yeah...' said Wade uncomfortably.  'Even through the hi-res copies you sent I could pick up on patterns that show these things aren't the real McCoy.  It's kind of like a ballistics test on a bullet.  When you know what to look for....'

 

          'And what would have happened if we had tried to use them as evidence in court?' Kim said.

 

          Wade shrugged.  'An expert could prove they were forgeries inside of five minutes.'

 

          'And the people who introduced them...'

 

          'Would have been discredited - maybe even arrested for introducing false evidence.  And there's more - I linked up to my computer at home and went through my files.  There are copies of photos which match these backgrounds on my computer, along with file photos of the villains.   There's also separate photos of Grimm and Rhonda hidden on my hard drives - and probably on your computer at home, too.  They're the original unspliced versions of these composites.  I'm positive that Jade planted them at some time during our previous encounters.'

 

          Kim slammed her fist on the desk.  'He did this on purpose!' she said.  'He let me stay at Rhonda's place and he knew I'd go through those photos!'

 

          'It's a little convoluted,' said Wade, shaking his head.  'But I think you're right.  He was planning ahead to make sure you'd be charged with introducing false evidence in any lawsuit that came up.  He may not have done it with you in mind, but it does look like he set this up long in advance in case a sitch like this ever came up.'  He looked warily at Kim, who was glaring at the photos of Grimm and Rhonda smiling from the corkboard.  'So... do you still want the copies?' he said.

 

          'Any point?' said Kim darkly.

 

          'Not really...' Wade answered.

 

          'Forget it then.' Kim growled, getting to her feet.  'I'm gonna have a talk with our 'host'....'

 

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

 

          Grimm opened the door to his house where Kim had been knocking insistently.  'What?' he said.  'Didn't like the dinner?'

 

          'Food was fine, the sitch is totally unacceptable.' Kim snarled.  'I found out the truth behind your little 'photo album.'

 

          Grimm raised an eyebrow, smiling, and he stepped out onto the porch, closing the door behind him.  They were both dimmed by the twilight and the quiet of the evening air seemed to settle around them. 'I'm not sure why you're steamed.' he said quietly, stepping over towards the rail overlooking the front lawn.  'I think a compliment is in order.  I'm impressed that you played it cool and checked them first...'

 

          'Why'd you do it in the first place?' Kim hissed, following him.  'You're still playing your little games when we're supposed to be working together to find Ron and Rhonda!'

 

          Grimm shrugged.  'I thought you might still be hankering to get me arrested.  I haven't broken my promise, and I didn't do anything to betray you. It was just a little something I call the seppuku scenario - I only arranged things so that if you betrayed me, you'd be the one who took the fall.'

 

          'You double-crossing slime bag!' Kim said.

  welcome

          'Hey, you were the one gearing up to double-cross me, remember?.' Grimm said, a flash of impatience crossing through his voice.  But then he seemed to calm down again and he looked out over the lawn as the evening deepened.  'As it turns out, no harm done.' he said.  'I don't have to shred your credibility; your credibility remains unshredded - everyone wins, right?'

 

          Kim felt her face burning, even in the cool evening air.  'Sooner or later you're going to slip up, Probable.' she said.  'And when you do, I'll be there to make sure you get what's coming to you. Military protection, diplomatic immunity - I don't care who you've got lined up on your side, I'll find a way to take you down!'

 

          Grimm didn't answer at once, but kept looking out over the lawn, as if listening to the crickets and other night noises.  'And that's why having you here is gonna be a blast.'  he said finally.  'It'll be like having a training yard that follows me around.'

 

          'You just wait.' said Kim, stomping down the stairs from the porch to the sidewalk.  'I'll take you and this town by storm.'

 

          'You do that.' Grimm answered.  'But while you're plotting, you might want to take a little time for sleep.  Tomorrow's a big day.'

 

          'What happens tomorrow?' Kim said.

 

          'School.' said Grimm, turning and heading back to the door of his house.  'We've got a whole day's worth of questions to catch up on.  Welcome to Riddleton, Kim Possible.'

                   
 
Coming Soon:
Chapter 20

What is a place where people go every day, but no one wants to?

Author:  Special thanks to Blackbird and cpneb, who supplied info and suggestions for this chapter.  Thanks to cpneb for loaning the use of his 'Sato' restaurant from the 'Define Heck' series and for writing up Kim's and Monique's favorite meals. And thanks to everyone who waited patiently for this chapter. It took a while yes, but this chapter has been a long time in development. Introducing Grimm's home town was a big undertaking since it reveals a lot of things that had previously been left to the imagination of the reader. As such, it had to be very carefully crafted to (hopefully) avoid disappointing those who might have preferred the freedom of imagining what it was like.

 

The purpose of course was to sow doubt in Kim's mind yet again - is Grimm a villain or not? If he is, why is the DoD turning a blind eye to his activities? If he's not, then... why is he such a jerk?? There will be more on this as the story continues. And first on the list is a visit to Grimm's school!

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