Chapter2:
Warnings
Or: A Future Set In Stone

'Ah ha!' said Dr. Drakken, looking over the documents. 'This formula will be just what I need for my latest bids in world domination!'

'Bids?' said Grimm, who was going through the money Drakken had handed him during the exchange.

'Yes,' said Drakken, tucking the papers lovingly into his blue overcoat. 'I've decided that multi-tasking is the wave of the future! I failed in the past because I sank all my efforts into one big scheme at a time. But now I've got several schemes in mind and I'll be hitting them one after the other - bam, bam, bam!' He punched his fist into the air with a maniacal grin. 'Kim Possible may be able to foil one or two of them, but not all!'

'You dream big, Dr. D.' said Grimm, nodding to Rhonda and handing her the briefcase full of money. 'Anything we can do to pitch in, let us know. For the normal fee of course.'

Drakken smirked. 'Well, it may not be necessary this time out.' he said. 'But, uh, don't tell Shego that you stole this formula for me. She gets kind of... weird when I use people besides her - no idea why. Plus I'll be making the distribution mechanism for this formula myself and I want her to think it's all my own design....'

'Mum's the word.' said Grimm, as he and Rhonda backed towards the exit of the lair. 'Call us, beep us if you want to reach us.'

Grimm, Rhonda and Rueful made their way towards the Ksikkihkíni, Grimm's motorcycle which Jade had fitted with special magnetic repulsion thrusters. As they were putting on their helmets and getting ready to take off, a four-note beep sounded from Grimm's hip pouch. He slipped his communicator out and activated it. 'Sitch me, Jade.' he said quickly.

Jade's face shimmered on the tiny screen. 'No rest yet for the wicked.' she said, smiling. 'We just got a call for a job you may want to look into. Details in 3, 2, 1....' And a string of text scrolled up on the communicator, which Grimm read.

'Woah.' said Grimm. 'That could be a challenge.' His eye strayed to Rhonda, who was nudging Rueful into her backpack. He smiled and looked back at his communicator. 'But I think we're ready for it - if it's not a trap. Do the usual screenings and if it's clean, make arrangements with the client.'

Jade popped back onto the screen and nodded. 'Want to use... her?' she said.

Grimm nodded again. 'Yeah.' he said thoughtfully. 'We may need another distraction on this one. Have you got something lined up that will pull her in?'

Jade winked. 'Actually I've got just the thing.'

'Set it up so we can get the ball rolling at an hour's notice.' Grimm said. 'But this time let's stagger things so she starts first. And keep your eyes peeled for Wade. Somehow I get the feeling we won't be able to use Adrena Lynn much longer.'

As Grimm put the communicator back in his hip pouch, Rhonda sat behind him with her arms already wound around his waist. 'What was that?' she said. 'We've got another job already?'

'Yup.' said Grimm, activating the bike. A wing unfolded from the nacelles on either side of the bike and with a nearly silent humming sound, they rose slowly into the air inside the hangar of Drakken's lair. 'But it may also be a chance for you to get the action you've been hankering for....' And then the Ksikkihkíni shot out through the wide bay exit and into the sky.

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Ron sat in Bueno Nacho, looking uncomfortably across the table towards Kim. They'd passed the school day with their normal affectionate banter, but he could tell Kim was still fuming over Adrena Lynn's escape the previous night. How much of the fuming was over his role in letting her get away he couldn't tell, but he'd been making several overtures during the day to try to make up for it, including opening doors for her, offering to carry her stuff and making overly enthusiastic agreements to her every pronouncement.

'Yeah! Right on!' he said, pumping his fist in the air.

Kim stared. 'Ron, are you even listening to what I'm saying?' she said, with one eyebrow raised and the other lowered in that way that always held him hypnotized.

'Uh....' he said, staring uncomfortably at the floor and running one hand behind his neck.

'I said, don't you think you're agreeing with me too much?' Kim said, switching eyebrows.

Ron flushed. 'Oh! Um.... no?' he said cautiously.

Kim laid her hand on his. 'Ron, I know you're still upset that Adrena Lynn got away.' she said softly. 'But I said - it's no big. We'll get her next time.'

Ron bit his lip, not sure how to respond. So many times this had happened in the past - him doing something clumsy or haphazard which let the villains escape. Him apologizing, her saying that it was no big and that it would be different 'next time'. He thought back to all the times he'd helped instead of hindered, and concluded that his record was about 50/50. It wasn't good enough - not for someone who supposed to be watching her back.

'Kim, I...' he started, but then her Kimmunictor beeped.

'Hold that thought!' she said, and brought up Wade's face with a beep. 'What's the sitch?'

'Adrena Lynn - again.' Wade answered. 'I've got word that she's gone to 1414 Ath Lane and she's robbing....'

'Russ Cueler?' Ron said, leaning his head in. 'The famous Iron Man tri-athlete? She's robbing his mansion?'

Wade blinked. 'Yeah - you know him?'

'Not personally.' said Ron, looking excited. 'But everyone on the team keeps going on and on about him, and Mr. Barkin drives us by his mansion every so often to motivate us with 'dreams of what might be' if we work hard.'

'Spankin.' said Kim. 'So you know where it is.'

But Ron was standing up. 'Oh man!' he said. 'I'm gonna meet Russ Cueler! Gotta check my hair! Be right back!' and he dashed off to the men's room, disappearing inside.

Kim stared after him. 'He never checks his hair for me...' she said.

Wade was smiling faintly up at her. 'Well, you do remember what happened the last time you got him worked up over his hair, right?'

Kim smiled back. 'Don't remind me. We'll be on our way as soon as he gets back. But have you got any ideas as to why Adrena Lynn is suddenly so active again? I mean, for almost two years, nothing, now she's back and more annoying than ever. It's....'

'Freaky?' said Wade. Kim looked at him, her eyes narrowing.

Ron was desperately trying to flatten the small poof of hair at the crown of his head with tap water. When he finally got it wet enough that the hairs were only pointing up slightly, he splashed his face and washed, wiping dry with a paper towel. 'Oh wow - Russ Cueler!' he thought. 'Only thing cooler would be if it were Angelina Jolie...'

Ron came back and nearly rounded the corner leading out from the men’s room onto the restaurant floor when he heard Wade's tinny voice over the communicator. 'Maybe Ron can guess something about Adrena Lynn's new groove. Have you asked him?' he said.

'Ron?' said Kim, sounding as if she were surprised by the question. 'He wouldn't have any ideas on how to forestall a criminal mastermind - we're talking about a guy who used to take off his shoes so he could to count to twelve. Homework is one thing, but when I want to talk to a super-genius I call you.'

Ron's mouth fell open, his arms hung limp at his sides. He felt as if someone had just tied fifty pound weights to each of his hands and then sucker-punched him in the gut.

'Adrena Lynn's not really a mastermind either.' Kim said. 'We just have to be more careful and we can run her down. Or just make sure that Ron distracts her instead of me this time.'

'Well, I'll keep an eye on things from the outside.' Wade said. 'Good luck, Kim.'

Kim shut off her Kimmunicator and looked up to see Ron stepping slowly out from the alcove leading to the restrooms. There was a curious look on his face that she couldn't quite read. 'Let's go Ron.' she said. 'Are... you OK?'

Ron shook his head as if he had been called on suddenly in class while daydreaming. 'Yeah.' he said quietly. 'I'm... just excited is all.'

He was utterly silent as they got into the Sloth and started on their way through traffic with the orange sunset sky fading to purple-gray. Kim seemed focused on driving, and Ron was staring at the glove compartment, his hands clenched over each kneecap.

'That's what Kim really thinks about me?' he thought. 'That's how she talks about me when I'm not around? Oh man...' But he couldn't deny he'd screwed up on their last mission. He squared his shoulders. He hated to see her upset, or to have her thinking that he wasn't any use on their missions. 'I can try harder this time - be a little less random.' he thought. 'Uh... Kim?' he said tentatively. 'I think I've got some ideas on... maybe how to catch Adrena Lynn.'

Kim sounded surprised. 'Really?' she asked. 'What are they?'

'D'oh!' Ron thought, immediately seeing how his plan had backfired. He didn't really have any ideas, and he put his brain into an emergency scramble. 'Uh... well...' he dithered, trying to make like he was carefully choosing his words instead of sounding like Porky Pig, 'When we first met her years ago, she was, like faking all her stunts you know? But she's a lot... less fake now. So maybe she's trying to... prove she's not a fake by... targeting real sports figures?'

Ron felt his cheeks burning with embarrassment as he finished. 'Stupid, stupid, stupid!' he thought. 'You're supposed to be changing her mind about you being a useless distraction, not confirming it!'

Kim didn't take her eyes off the road, but her voice almost dripped with patronizing agreement. 'Yeah...' she said. 'You think?'

Ron ploughed on, trying to salvage himself. 'And maybe we can, uh, get ideas about what she'll do by.... uh, looking over the..... blueprints of Russ Cueler's mansion?' He squinted, hoping this sounded reasonable.

'Yeah....' Kim said again. 'Well, go ahead and do that. I'll be planning all the ways I'm gonna kick Lynn's kiester through every room!'

Ron sighed inwardly. For some odd reason, he could picture Mr. Barkin very clearly in his mind's eye, glaring down at him and saying, Better to shut up and let everyone think you're an idiot than to open your mouth and prove it! He reflected on the fact that he actually found Barkin's advice profound, and then again that he understood what profound meant. But he was committed now, and as they continued speeding to their destination, he used his own communicator and asked Wade to forward the blueprints and designs for the mansion. Wade looked just as surprised as Kim had sounded, but he sent Ron the information anyway, and Ron found himself looking over floor plans and building schematics as they drove.

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In the skies above Go City, Grimm Probable and Rhonda Fatigable sat astride the Ksikkihkíni. A communicator on the dashboard beeped and Grimm let his thumb stray to a button next to it. Jade's face sparked onto a small screen.

'They're en route to Cueler's and it doesn't look like they're any the wiser.' she said, her voice sounding thin and distant amidst the air that moved around them. 'Looks like you're good to go.'

'How about Wade?' said Grimm, looking down and the lights of Go City beneath them, which shone with misty halos through the clouds between them and the ground. 'Any trace of his nose?'

'Actually no.' said Jade. 'He just got done uploading the floor plans for Cueler's mansion to Ron's communicator.'

Grimm raised an eyebrow. 'Weirdness.' he said quietly. 'Don't let your guard down, Jade. It could be a dodge. But we're going in regardless. If there's any hint of a trap, let us know - even if you're not sure.' Jade nodded and the screen went black. He looked back to Rhonda who was shivering slightly in the chill air. 'You wanted action, Rhonda.' he said with a smirk, 'Well here we go!' Then the Ksikkihkíni shot towards the ground, the vast spikes and spires of Go City's many buildings spreading out beneath them like a 3-dimensional grid...

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Adrena Lynn went over the shelves in a wide, high-vaulted room, which was lavishly furnished, with track lighting set in brass mounts along every wall. The room had the air and appearance of a museum, and several items were highlighted on the underlit shelves. She looked at a baseball, slightly browned and crackled, which was sealed in a plastic sheath and mounted on a stand, then looked at a card mounted next to it. 'Signed Mickey Mantle.' she said. 'Nice!' then she swept it into pack she was holding open in front of her. She walked slowly through the room, picking other items out and taking them.

There was a muffled growl of protest, and she paused to look down at a large, muscular man who was seated on the floor, bound hand and foot, and with a white gag over his mouth.

'You know, you should be thanking me Russy.' she said, with a mischievous slant in her eyes. 'This place definitely needed a woman's touch.' And she took several more items including a Lou Gehrig glove and a Babe Ruth cap, stuffing them into the already bulging pack. 'The most valuable collection of sports memorabilia all under one roof - talk about convenient! Maybe you should have sunk a little less money into your collection and a little more into security!'

'You're gonna wish you had a security detail of your own, Adrena Lynn!' said a voice behind her.

Adrena Lynn turned and looked back towards the wooden oak doors that led into the room. Kim and Ron were standing there, and Kim was glaring purposefully at her. 'Well, well.' said Lynn. 'If it isn't the loseress. I seem to remember her being a threat at some point, but the name escapes me...'

'Kmmm Pfffmbmm!' exclaimed the gagged Russ.

Adrena Lynn lowered her arm, letting the strap of the heavy pack slide through her fingers until the pack hit the red carpeted floor with a muffled thud. 'Round two.' she said, then she dashed off to a smaller door on the west side of the room.

At once, Kim dashed after her. This time, Ron was close behind Kim. 'She's heading for the exit!' Kim yelled.

'No... she's heading towards the swimming pool and tennis court!' Ron panted, striving to keep pace with her.

'How do you know that?' Kim said.

'It was on the floor plans.' Ron called, as they thumped their way through numerous hallways and doors, the faint sound of Adrena Lynn's footsteps still ahead of them. 'Russ has an indoor basketball court, volleyball court, racquetball court, a shooting range and a foosball arena. This hallway leads to the swimming pool, which leads to the other...'

'I get the picture!' Kim said. 'Were there any shortcuts to the other rooms we can use to cut her off?'

Ron was trying to run and look at his communicator at the same time. 'Yeah, but there's no guarantee she won't air-vent her way past....'

'Take the shortcut!' Kim said firmly. 'I'll stay on her tail!' Ron hesitated, then at the next set of turns, he checked his communicator and took a hallway that split off to the left.

Kim pursued Adrena Lynn at top speed, occasionally thudding into corners as she took several blind turns. But eventually she entered a wide, open area with a sweeping, curving set of huge windows that looked out into the night sky like a glass bubble with a gridwork of huge panes. This room was huge, with a large rectangular area in the center that looked like a tennis court, though the net was missing and the playing area was oddly shiny. The floor was concrete and her footsteps suddenly echoed in her ears. She could see Adrena Lynn ahead of her.

As she sped towards her quarry, Kim reached the tennis court and saw that it was made of what seemed to be transparent Plexiglas, gleaming and polished, and beneath it was the rippling blue of water. Lynn was breathing heavily, and stopped at the opposite end of the court, staring back at Kim. 'Not as young as you used to be?' said Kim, going into a ready stance and approaching her warily.

'Hardly.' said Lynn, smiling. 'Just wanted to show you the first thing I kiped off of Russ before you showed up.' and from her fanny pack, she took out what looked like a complicated remote control. She hit a button on it, and Kim suddenly felt the tennis court lurching beneath her feet.

Lynn flipped and leaped backwards, obviously prepared for what was happening, but Kim stumbled and fell to the side. She put out her hand to arrest her fall, but yelped as she fell with a splash into what was now an Olympic-sized swimming pool. The two halves of the Plexiglas shield that had been the tennis court had swiftly retracted, disappearing neatly into the sides of the enclosure, while the poles that normally would have supported a tennis net snapped down into the floor and a diving board rose up from the opposite end of the court.

Lynn stepped up to the edge of the pool, looking down at Kim who rose to the surface of the water with a sputter. 'Neat, huh?' she said, waving the remote control in front of her. 'Russ has all of his little sports rooms wired so he can set things up on his own depending on which one he wants to play. He had plenty of room for a separate pool and a tennis court, but you know how rich people are. They can't resist an expensive gimmick so they can show it off.'

Kim was swimming rapidly for the edge of the pool, but Adrena Lynn held out the remote control again. 'Uh uh, teeny-bopper!' she said, and Kim was forced to duck as the Plexiglas shields slid quickly out again. Too late to hoist herself out, she pounded the glass above her as the two halves locked together with an ominous click.

Kim had a moment of panic, but it quickly subsided. There was a good three or four inches of air between the water and the glass above her, so there was no immediate danger of drowning or suffocating - doubtless it had been designed that way in case anyone ever got locked in accidentally. But the glass afforded her a perfect view as Adrena Lynn stepped above her and looked down, winking and blowing her an insolent kiss. Kim gritted her teeth and glared back at her, her hands pushing uselessly against the Plexiglas shield.

Adrena Lynn turned as she heard a noise behind her, and from the opposite end of the pool area, Ron Stoppable burst into the room. She frowned momentarily, then looked back down at Kim. 'Second string's here.' she said. 'Stay cool, Kim!' And she ran back through the door Kim had come through.

Ron saw only Adrena Lynn staring at the floor, then running back and away from him. He sped across the tennis court, wondering where Kim was and why she hadn't cut off Adrena Lynn yet. As he crossed the court, he heard a muffled thudding sound that was not his own footsteps and paused to look down.

'Russ's combo tennis court and pool!' he thought admiringly. 'Man the rich sure know how to live! Believe me, I know...' but his heart suddenly lurched with shock as he saw Kim's rippling form beneath him, pounding on the glass. 'Oh crud!' he yelled out loud, and he stopped, looking around wildly for some kind of control panel on the walls or near the court that might control the Plexiglas panels. But there was nothing to be seen. He looked down and saw Kim had raised her Kimmunicator and was using the wrist laser to try and bore through, but he could tell that Adrena Lynn would be long gone by the time it burned a hole large enough for her to climb out.

Quickly he took out his own communicator and scrolled through the floor plans. 'Rufus!' he shouted, and Rufus dutifully shot out from his pants pocket with a squeal. Ron pointed to what looked like a small shed at the opposite end of the court. 'There's manual controls for the pool shield in there!' Rufus saluted like a marine, then scampered off to the shed. There was a padlock, but the door itself was an alligator folding style, which was rickety enough for Rufus to squeeze underneath.

Ron was back and looking down at Kim. 'We're getting you out of there!' he yelled, not sure if Kim could hear him through the thick shield. Obviously she could, because at once he saw her shaking her head and yelling back.

'I'm fine!' she said, and Ron could hear her muffled voice faintly through the Plexiglas. 'Go after Lynn!' Ron hesitated, his desire to stay and make sure Kim was all right fought with his resolve to obey her order. Kim must have sensed it because she yelled again, even louder. 'Just go!!'

And Ron was racing back through the corridors. They were eerily quiet, with only his footsteps and breathing breaking the silence. He knew it was hopeless. Adrena simply had too big a head start on him now, and there were numerous paths she might have taken. 'OK - legs are too short, so it's time to use my head.' he thought. 'Lynn knew about Russ's house and used it to trap Kim - but to pull it off she needed to move fast.' and clear as a bell, he remembered Lynn putting her pack down on the floor - her heavy, bulky pack - filled with stolen items that she couldn't carry with her in the chase towards the pool. But now that Kim was delayed, with no one but the sidekick to worry about... 'She's going back for the loot!' the thought hit him like an electric jolt. He brought up the building schematics on his communicator again, and with wonderful satisfaction, he saw another route back to the display room that was just a little shorter....

Adrena Lynn dashed back into the display room and saw Russ Cueler working his wrists, still trying to free himself from his bonds. He had managed to pull off his gag, and gasped as he saw her enter the room.

Lynn went straight to the backpack full of Russ's collectibles and hoisted it onto her back. 'Well it's been real, Cueler.' she said, winking at him. 'Hope you collect more stuff someday so I can steal that too!'

'Hey! Lynn!'

Adrena Lynn started and whirled around seeing Ron barreling into the room. 'How did he get here so dang fast?' she thought briefly. Then she did the only thing she could think of and put her arms around Russ's neck in a loose sleeper hold. 'Back off!' she said. 'Or Cueler picks up where you and I left off that first time!'

But Lynn knew she was dealing with more than she could handle. Russ was a strong athlete, and if he started putting up a struggle, there was no way she could hold him hostage and fend Ron off at the same time. And Ron glanced to the side, seeing something on the shelf to his right. And as he saw Adrena Lynn shifting her stance, taking her eyes off him for a brief moment, his hand flashed out.

'Forgive me, Tom Brady...' he thought, then he gripped a signed football in his hands and threw.

Adrena Lynn looked back up and saw a flash of brown spiraling towards her, then squealed as the football hit her square on the nose. She stumbled backwards, releasing Russ, and then felt the air knocked out of her as Ron sent her crashing to the floor with a flying tackle. Russ toppled off to the side.

Lynn gasped as she fought to draw air into her lungs and glared angrily up at Ron, who was holding her down with his gloved hands. 'You're like a bad penny!' she gasped as soon as she could. 'Maybe I've been worried about the wrong guy!'

'Maybe you shouldn't have tried to drown my GF!' he said back.

Adrena snarled. 'Well don't let any of this go to your head!' and she snapped her neck forward suddenly. It wasn't a particularly strong head-butt, however it was enough to startle Ron and get him to lose his grip. Adrena Lynn used the purchase to twist and roll, sliding out from beneath him.

'Ron!' Adrena Lynn looked up again as Kim charged into the room, still dripping wet. Adrena unshouldered her pack and swung it around viciously, catching Russ in the chest. Still bound by his wrists and ankles, Russ fell backwards and crashed through the window of the display room.

Both Kim and Ron shouted, diving and seizing Russ by either ankle. They arrested his fall, their arms straining against the weight of his body as he dangled three floors above the ground. The next window over broke and they saw Adrena Lynn rappelling down the side of the mansion by a zip line, then dropping off into the thick shrubbery that surrounded the eaves of the bottom floor.

They got Russ pulled back so that his knees were hooked around the sill of the window. 'Can you hold him, Ron? I'm going after her!' and without waiting she tumbled out of the window, using her grapple line to lower herself. She saw the dim shape of Adrena Lynn racing through a garden and into the darkness towards the gates of the mansion.

Russ was no longer in danger of falling, but Ron found pulling him up by himself was no mean feat. 'Why do the pros always have to be so heavy?' he shouted, managing to get Russ's entire lower body dragged back through the window.

Kim ran across a neatly landscaped lawn and into some kind of botanical garden, complete with stone fountains and a hedge maze. It was dark, and she looked around for Adrena Lynn as she entered a flowerbed with soft, mossy soil beneath her feet.

There was a piercing white light and the thrumming roar of an engine. Kim gasped and went into a duck and roll as a red bullet motorcycle jumped in a smooth arc over the hedge maze, rushing down towards her. The cycle missed, and Kim got steadily to her feet, ready for another pass. But the lithe form of Adrena Lynn was waving as she gunned the cycle and roared towards a greenhouse. She popped a spectacular wheelie and the cycle surged upwards, using the slanted roof of the greenhouse as a ramp and the motorcycle flew up and over the rear wall of the mansion, disappearing on the other side.

Kim heard the sound of shock absorbers buckling, then the sound of an engine gunning, and finally the cycle horn sounding off a taunting two-note beep. Kim gritted her teeth. The Sloth was parked at the front of the mansion, and it would take her at least two minutes at a full run to find her way back to it. By then Adrena Lynn would be long gone. She kicked the ground in frustration, and started jogging back to the main entrance.....

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Hego stood on guard at the Go City Museum. He glanced outside the windows into the night sky, seeing stars sparkling in the distance and he sighed. The museum had asked for additional protection to guard their prized exhibit, a gigantic emerald that was nearly as large around as a basketball.

Normally at least one of the other Team Go members would have been there helping him. 'I can't believe they were invited to another Heroes Cruise.' he thought a bit resentfully. 'And that I wasn't invited! I mean my shift was totally free this time! It's not like one of them couldn't rotate out and stand guard here! Honestly, they've been on a cruise already, when's my turn?' But he quickly shook his head and cleared those thoughts from his mind. It was an honor to serve Go City as a super-hero, and a duty from which he would not shrink. 'Unlike Mego...' he thought, chuckling.

Still, there was no denying that guard duty seemed pointless at the moment. The night was quiet and the building's normal security systems seemed more than capable of fending off any garden-variety thief.

He stood at attention in front of the glass case containing the emerald, which the museum staff had nicknamed the BFG (for 'big freakin' gem'). For several silent hours he had remained that way after the museum had closed. His heels were beginning to ache and he found himself glancing with a certain degree of longing at a bench by the edge of the room.

Just as he was succumbing to his desire to ease his aching feet, there was a sudden thumping noise and the laser grid which surrounded the BFG powered down. The surveillance cameras which had been whirring quietly back and forth all night fell silent; the tiny red lights which indicated they were active blinked out.

At once Hego forgot his aches and fatigue. He braced himself, backing closer to the BFG, ready for anything. There was only one reason why the security systems were shut down - a thief must be in the building. But Hego smiled. Once the thief showed himself, they'd find that just turning off the security wouldn't be nearly enough.

He stood ready for several seconds until at last he saw two figures standing half in shadow across the room. He was just about to launch into a zinger he had thought up in advance for just such an occurrence. 'The museum doesn't open until tomorrow evil-doers! But the Go City jail is open 24/7!' But as the light from the lamps cast across the lower bodies of the two figures, he saw something that caused his prepared hero speech to die on his tongue. He saw that the two persons were wearing brown cargo pants with hip pouches at their sides. One figure seemed male, and the other had the definite curves of a female.

Hego narrowed his eyes, trying to see better through the dim light. 'Kim Possible?' he said. 'Is that you? I thought you'd changed outfits....' But he fell silent as the figures stepped forward. They were both wearing what looked like ninja hoods, so he couldn't see their faces.

Behind his mask, Grimm muttered to Rhonda in a low voice. 'All right GF - time to field test. I know he's no Kim Possible, but....'

'Yeah, I'm sure I'll be really bored going up against a guy who can break bricks with his fists.' Rhonda sounded nervous, but resolved. 'Let's do this thing!' Then she jumped forward, screeching and making amateur kung-fu poses. Hego stared at her, looking wary and confused.

'Feeble protector of Go City!' Rhonda yelled. 'Behold the face of your defeat!'

'I, uh, can't behold your face, you're wearing a mask...' said Hego dryly.

Rhonda faltered for a second. 'Hey, shut up!' she said, recovering quickly. 'Prepare to fall before the all-powerful Ninjella!' Behind her, Grimm sighed softly, putting his hand to his forehead.

'Ninjella, eh?' said Hego, smiling and powering up his glow. 'Well you must be new in town, otherwise you'd know better than to GO up against Team Go!' He charged at the figures, and they both darted to the side. The taller figure rolled, then flipped forward gracefully and landed next to the case containing the BFG, reaching his hand towards it.

Hego turned towards Grimm and started racing towards him. Rhonda saw Grimm neatly dodge a strike from Hego's glowing hand. She knew Grimm could avoid him, but if even one of his blows landed...

She pulled open a velcro patch on her upper left arm, revealing a curiously shaped birthmark and then brought her hands together in front of her, chanting softly.

Omahkkiaayowa, Omahkkiaayowa,
Nitohpoksiiyikitapiiyi!

As she chanted, the mark on her arm flared with a blue glow, which spread out until it surrounded her like a misty flame....

Omahkkiaayowa, Omahkkiaayowa,
Nitohpoksiiyikitapiiyi!!

Then Rhonda cried out with a shout that echoed through the room like the roaring of a bear, and Hego paused, staring back at her. He had been striking at Grimm, who was neatly avoiding his strikes, but none of Grimm's return blows had any effect against his glow.

'Hey blueberry - you forget about me?' Rhonda shouted at him. 'The all-powerful Ninjella will not be ignored!'

Hego sniffed. 'Sorry, but my code of honor won't allow me to hit a mere girl!'

Rhonda stepped right in front of him, and had to admit that based on appearances alone, she could understand his dismissive attitude. She, a willowy girl, in front of a veritable titan who was a head and a half taller and under normal conditions, many times her match in strength. But she smiled beneath her mask. 'Then it's time to crack that code!' she said, and she seized his wrist, whirling in place with a judo toss and sent Hego flying across the room, crashing through the wall with a boom that shook the entire building.

Grimm looked with satisfaction at the gaping hole in the wall while chunks of marble skittered across the floor and clouds of dust spread from the point of impact. 'Remind me never to cheese you off.' he said warmly.

There was another blasting sound as Hego dashed back in through the hole he had made, looking surprised but unharmed. 'Not bad, Ninjella.' he said, cracking his knuckles. 'Maybe it is time I became an equal-opportunity crime fighter!' and Grimm cartwheeled out of the way as Rhonda and Hego clashed again.

Grimm had to admire Hego's strength. He wasn't sure what the limits of Hego's glow were, but when he had his glow on, he seemed able to lift anything. But he could also tell just by looking that Hego had come to rely too heavily on his glow. His attacks were clumsy, and he seemed to have no fighting style beyond simply trying to land a punch or a kick. Grimm analyzed Hego's style like a scientist studying a germ under a microscope. Hego was obviously accustomed to just one of his punches putting an enemy down for the count and that he had no training or plan to deal with anyone who could match him. 'Advantage - Probable.' he smirked.

To her credit, Rhonda was going toe-to-toe with him in a high powered game of mercy, their hands locked as each tried to overpower the other. 'Come on Rhonda,' Grimm thought. 'You're smarter than that....'

And at just that moment, Rhonda shifted her stance and rolled Hego over her shoulders in another toss that sent him blasting through the opposite wall. But he was coming back again a few seconds later. 'Taking too long hot stuff.' Grimm called to her. 'Bring it on home!'

Rhonda nodded and stood with her fists clenched, her eyes suddenly squinting shut in enormous concentration. Her hands glowed blue and the mark on her arm flared brilliantly.

'Spirit Strike!!'

Rhonda slashed the air in front of her with a broad stroke, and there was a thundering bang. From each of her fingertips, a sickle-shaped curve of while light lashed forwards, speeding along with a roar like a freight train.

Hego crossed his arms in front of him, bracing himself. He hadn't met a bomb blast or a mad scientist death ray that could hurt him as long as he was ready and had his glow up. But in the splintered second in which the sickles of light touched him, he saw they were slicing through his glow like scissors through wrapping paper.

He cried out in pain, reeling backwards, and his glow flickered and died out. He felt suddenly weak and drained, and even holding up his arms seemed to be taking all his strength. He looked up and saw a flash of gray as Grimm's foot caught him in the gut with a flying kick. Hego wheezed once and then collapsed on the floor, unconscious.

Grimm stared down at the fallen super-hero with a sense of satisfaction and pride. 'Way to go Rhonda.' he said. 'Normally we'd have to sneak around or trick him into dropping his glow before taking him out. You're the man! Well, sort of.'

Rhonda stepped forward, admiring her handiwork. 'Yeah,' she said proudly. 'We just went up against Hego and handed him his walking papers! Booyah!'

Grimm took out his communicator. 'Cameras down?' he said.

Jade's tinny voice answered back. 'The whole museum is blind for a good ten minutes.' she said. 'You're clear to make off with the goods!'

'You rock, Jade. See you back home!' Then he took the glass case from off the BFG and placed it in his backpack, with some difficulty getting it through the flap at the top. He pulled off his mask, smoothing out his hood hair while Rhonda did the same.

She punched her fist in the air and gave Grimm a sly smile. 'You know, we make a pretty good team!'

Grimm glanced at her. 'What have I told you about using the "G" word?'

Rhonda chuckled and pointed at him. 'Sorry - I mean we make a pretty evil team!'

Grimm smirked. 'We always did.' he said. Then he took out a sticky note with "01100110011010010111001001110011011101000010000001101000011000010110110001100110" scribbled on it and stuck it to Hego's chest as he lay motionless on the floor.

Rhonda looked at it quizzically. 'Uh, what's that for?' she said.

Grimm smiled. 'Right now, Kim and Wade are probably putting two and two together.' he said. 'They'll know that Lynn's crime spree is just a distraction for our heists and they'll be watching. I'm just leaving them something to think about.' And without another word he took her by the hand and they sped towards the exit.

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

Kim was surprised to see a news wagon outside the mansion as she reached the front entrance. 'How did they get here so fast?' she thought, but a cameraman and a reporter were swooping in on her even as the thought went through her head.

The reporter was a slim man with a dark complexion and an aura of great enthusiasm, the kind of guy who, if asked how he was feeling that day, would describe the entire day in great detail from start to finish and not give the listener a chance to respond. The cameraman seemed the normal type, wearing a jacket with the news channel logo and a baseball cap.

'A. U. Dibble, MIDX News.' said the reporter without preamble, pushing his microphone forward so it was between himself and Kim. 'Reporting live with teen crimefighter Kim Possible at the scene of a daring robbery perpetrated by ex-TV sensation Adrena Lynn. Ms. Possible - we've heard rumors that Adrena Lynn managed to escape. Any comments?'

Kim felt momentarily abashed. Her hair was still stringy and lank from her dunking in the pool, her shirt was still covered with damp soil from rolling through the garden. 'Bonnie's probably loving this...' she thought briefly. 'I.... have no comment at this time.' she said curtly.

But Dibble was not to be deterred and pushed his microphone even closer. 'Is it true that you fell into one of her traps?'

Kim's mouth nearly fell open. 'How did he know that?' she thought. But she composed herself quickly. 'The theft was...' she started, but was immediately cut off again by Dibble.

'We heard rumors there was a brief hostage situation involving the owner of this mansion, famed tri-athlete competitor Russ Cueler. Can you confirm that, Ms. Possible?'

'It's true.' came the strong, smooth voice of Cueler, who came out of the front door along with Ron at that moment. He was rubbing his wrists, and Rufus was perched on his shoulder, still gnawing at the frayed ends of the ropes Lynn had used to tie him. Russ stepped in front of the camera, looking totally in his element. 'That crazed Lynn character had me tied up and was using me to protect herself.'

'And so Kim Possible rescued you?' said Dribble, snaking in his question as Cueler paused momentarily for a breath.

'Actually, no.' said Cueler. 'I was rescued by this boy right here.' he said, putting a large, powerful hand on Ron's shoulder and pulling him in beside him. 'Him and his... uh..... what is this thing, a shaved weasel?'

'It's a naked mole rat.' said Ron. 'His name's Rufus.' Rufus hopped from Russ's shoulder to Ron's, giving the 'thumbs-up' sign.

'And what's your name, son?' said Dibble, pushing the microphone right under Ron's nose.

Ron looked slightly surprised, but responded. 'Ah... Ron. Ron Stoppable.' he said, smiling faintly. But Dibble was already pulling back and facing the cameraman.

'And there you have it folks. Kim Possible fails - Ron Stoppable sails.'

'Hey!' Kim shouted from behind Ron. But Dibble continued as if he hadn't heard her.
'Is the former daredevil stuntwoman too much for the famous Kim Possible? Only time will tell - but let's hope next time she has her new partner Ron Stoppable alongside her to hopefully forestall any further crimes.'

Ron raised his hand as if he were in one of Barkin's classes. 'Uh, excuse me, I'm not a partner, I'm the sidekick.' he said. 'And what do you mean new? I've been with her since the day she started saving the world! Hasn't anyone noticed?'

Cueler was smiling genially. 'You're being noticed now, kid.' he said. 'What sport do you play? Football?'

Ron smiled. 'How did you know?'

Cueler chuckled. 'No one could pull off a pass and tackle like that unless they'd been spending time on the field.' he said. 'You saved my life kid - and I like to reward people who save my life!'

Ron's brightened. 'All right, a reward!' he said, but then a wary expression spread across his face. 'Uh, it's not a job, is it? 'Cause I've kinda already got one.'

Cueler looked surprised. 'A job?' he said. 'What kind of lame reward would that be?'

Ron looked intently at Cueler. 'That's exactly what I thought! But then someone hit me in the arm...'

'A reward is something you're supposed to remember fondly.' said Cueler. 'How would you like a tour of the place?'

'Boy, would I!' Ron said, doing an in-place hustle.

'Ron, you saw most of the mansion when we were chasing Adrena Lynn...' said Kim, staring after the MIDX news crew as they loaded their equipment back into the van.

'Including my famous Iron-Man pantry?' said Cueler, smiling.

'Oooh! Oooh!' Ron said, his eyes flying wide. 'The one with it's own cheese vault?'

'That's the one.' said Cueler, seeming pleased to have such an enthusiastic fan. 'Come on and I'll have the chef whip up some of my patented quesorandes.'

Ron was practically drooling as Cueler led him back towards the mansion. 'The big cheese thing? Oh man Rufus, I am so glad we skipped dinner! KP, you coming?'

'Just a second.' she called after him. 'I'm checking in with Wade.' She stared glumly up at Ron as he disappeared back into the mansion, and activated her Kimmunicator. There was something about the events of that night that just weren't feeling right to her. Adrena Lynn seemed to know they would show up, and she seemed to have a plan ready for her. And the news crew had a little too much knowledge about what had happened in the mansion. 'Wade - is Adrena Lynn a former playwright? Cause I'm starting to think this whole thing was staged.'

Wade looked confused for only one brief instant before answering. 'Don't think so, Kim.' he said. 'What's on your mind?'

'Can you do a background check on MIDX mobile news? They were right here when it all went down. Someone had to have tipped them off.'

Wade was typing at his keyboards. 'News agency computers are usually pretty heavily encrypt... OK I'm in.' he said, smiling. 'I've got to find a way to say that faster so I can finish before I hack into a system.'

'They legit?' she asked.

'Looks that way.' he said. 'I'm going through their recent phone messages... Yeah, they received an anonymous tip-off that Russ Cueler's mansion would be robbed that night, and that you were going to be there.'

'And who's our tipster?' she said, growling.

Wade typed for a few seconds longer. 'Sorry Kim.' he said. 'Whoever it was routed their call through over a dozen different lines - it's untraceable. And...' he cupped an earpiece with his hand, listening hard. '....the caller used a distorter to mask his voice.'

'Or hers.' said Kim darkly.

Wade shrugged. 'I wouldn't put it past Adrena Lynn to have tipped them off herself. We all know she's a hog for the spotlight.'

'Maybe.' said Kim. 'But then why go to all the trouble of disguising her voice to the news hounds?'

'Good question.' said Wade, but he did not supply any answers.

'Chew on it and see what you can come up with.' said Kim. And a sudden thought occurred to her. 'Were there any other crimes that took place when this one was going on?'

Wade was typing quickly over his keyboard again. His face looked up in surprise. 'Actually yeah. There was a theft at the Go City Museum, the reports just went over the wire. The BFG emerald was stolen - and it looks like Hego was knocked out by the perps.'

'Hego knocked out?' Kim whistled. 'That's heavy-duty....'

'He's being treated at the Go City Hospital.' said Wade. 'And I just got a message over your website that he wants to talk to you.'

A moment later, Hego's face blipped onto her screen. 'Greetings, citizen Possible!' said Hego. He was smiling, but clearly lying in a hospital bed, still in full costume.

'Hego.' said Kim. 'How are you doing?'

'I'll be fine!' he said heroically. 'I just feel a bit drained is all. But I was wondering... were you in Go City tonight?'

Kim blinked. 'Uh... no.' she said. 'I've been here trying to take down Adrena Lynn.'

'Ah.' he said, looking uncomfortable. 'And... can anyone verify that?'

Kim looked darkly at the stretch of driveway in front of the mansion where the news van had departed. 'Yeah, I get the feeling it'll be all over the evening news.'

Hego shrugged. 'Well I... just thought I'd make sure. It's not like I thought you had...' he trailed off uncomfortably, but Kim guessed what he was driving at.

'The thieves who clocked you at the museum - are you saying they looked like me?'

'Oh no, no...' Hego said, shaking his head. 'They were wearing masks actually - it's just that they looked like they were wearing... what looked like your old outfit.'

Kim frowned. 'But... that line was discontinued by Club Banana.' she said. 'No one has those outfits anymore, not even Smarty Mart.'

'True.' said Hego. 'One of them called herself Ninjella, and she definitely had powers that you don't. She seemed almost as strong as I am, and they had some kind of... energy blast that took all the fight out of me. Very peculiar. And they left something at the crime scene.' he held up a yellow sticky note that had a series of ones and zeroes crammed into it from top to bottom. 'Does this mean anything to you?'

Kim shook her head. 'I'll have Wade look into it. Thanks for the heads-up, Hego.' said Kim.

A moment later, Wade's face popped up on the screen. 'Ninjella?' he said. 'Sounds like someone without much imagination.'

'How about the note?' said Kim.

'It looks like binary code.' he said. 'I'll run it through and see if it translates to anything.'

'You rock, Wade.' she said. 'Keep me posted - I have to find Ron and stop him from eating all of Russ Cueler's cheese.'

As she made her way to the mansion, Kim fought with a curious feeling that she could only describe as resentment. Just the other day, she'd been wishing that Ron was a little better. And driven perhaps by his bad performance against Adrena Lynn at the factory, here he had stepped up a little and somehow gotten the media attention that normally would have been fixed on her. 'I want him to be better.' she thought. 'But not better than me.' And at once she realized how selfish that sounded, even in her head.

She wrestled with herself. There were plenty of times when she'd stood at the sidelines cheering for Ron - she did it at every football game. So why did she feel so... territorial over Ron saving the day instead of her? He'd saved the day on his own lots of times - that business with the Fearless Ferret, Monkey Fist, and in Hank's Cupcake Factory.

'But there wasn't a media crew reporting it those times.' she thought, and Dibble's words sounded again in her mind. 'Kim Possible fails... Let's hope next time she has her new partner Ron Stoppable alongside her...'

She'd never gotten negative press before - and she quickly covered up her anger, reasoning that the resentment she was feeling was simply against the press for having chosen to take that particular angle and being so brazen about it. She hitched a smile onto her face as she found her way into Russ Cueler's huge kitchen and saw Ron and Russ engaged in what seemed to be an eating contest. Rufus hit a timer which sent a ringing clang through the room.

'Hmm-hmm! Tie!' he squeaked, and the cooks and servants around the table were clapping heartily. Russ was chuckling as well as he could while still swallowing the last of his quesorande.

'For a kid your size, you pack it down pretty fast!' he said. 'No one's ever kept pace with me before!'

'I is what I is!' said Ron jovially.

'Well with moves like that, whoever you're dating is one lucky gal.' he said, slapping him hard on the shoulder. 'If you ever need a ride when saving the world, I've got a private jet I use to get to my competitions - just have your friend Wade beep me!'

Ron turned to Kim. 'Hey KP did you hear that? Now I've finally got a contact!'

Kim's smile felt more brittle, but she maintained it. 'Great Ron.' she said, suddenly aware that she was speaking through her teeth, which were clenched together. 'But we'd better get going - Adrena Lynn isn't going to catch herself.'

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

The bell clanged with its usual jarring peal through the halls of Middleton High School the next morning. Kim stood in front of her locker, fishing out the books for her next class. Ron was still grinning from ear to ear over the previous night's events when Mr. Barkin suddenly appeared as if from nowhere, bellowing in his ear. 'Stoppable!' he shouted.

Ron jumped, cringing reflexively as he always did whenever Barkin showed up to chew him out over something. 'Ah! I didn't do it, don't hurt me!' he said, but Barkin had, for lack of a better description, a smile on his face. He scowled so much most of the time that it seemed somehow unnatural, but his voice, while still yelling, was cheerful.

'I saw the news last night - Russ Cueler! And you actually managed to save him without losing your pants! Good form Stoppable - good form!'

Ron sighed with relief, but Barkin was pulling him to his side and marching him towards his office. 'Is it true you toured the mansion? You saw the inside....?' They disappeared around the corner, and Kim sighed. Ron had been lionized by almost everyone, asking him about Cueler's mansion, congratulating him on his bravery and asking what Russ was like. They seemed at least as interested in hearing about Russ as they were in talking to Ron. Only Bonnie had said anything to Kim directly. 'By the way Possible - I loved your new hairstyle. Usually people wash the mud off before they leave the spa.'

Her attention refocused as Wade's face suddenly glowed out from the computer screen in front of her. 'No news yet on Adrena Lynn.' he said. 'But this is twice now that a more serious robbery has taken place while we were distracted by Ms. Freaky. Coincidence?'

'If coincidences are just coincidences, why do they feel so contrived?' said Kim. 'Is there anything about the Go City robbery and Adrena Lynn's caper that can be linked?'

'No.' said Wade, shrugging. 'Just that the robberies that we haven't been focused on have involved items that are either more valuable or more important. But I did run Hego's note through my system. It is binary code, and it translates to two words.'

'Don't leave me hanging.' said Kim, raising an eyebrow.

'First Half.' said Wade.

Kim stood thinking. 'First Half?' she said at last. 'First half of what? An even bigger job?'

Wade was shaking his head. 'No idea. I ran the note through every scan I could think of. It's the same kind of post-it that you'd find at any office supply store, the writing was done with a standard No. 2 pencil, the handwriting is deliberately sloppy and distorted so it can't be identified. There are no fingerprints on the note, no skin oils, no perfume, nothing that could let it be traced in any way.'

'So they're cautious.' Kim said resentfully. 'We'll just have to keep a closer eye out.'

'Should we take our focus off Adrena Lynn?' said Wade.

'No.' Kim said quickly. 'I don't buy for one minute that Adrena Lynn is the mastermind of all this. If she's a puppet, then someone's pulling the strings. So far she's the only link we've got between her and these other robberies. Once we catch her, we can follow the strings right back to the puppet-master.'

'Any ideas on how to catch her?' Wade said questioningly.

'Knowing her like we do, can think we can come up with something freaky enough to get her attention...' Kim said, smiling almost wickedly.

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

Bates finished dusting the study at Monkey Fist's manor, letting out a quiet sigh of satisfaction as he looked around the spotless room. His master had been gone for many weeks, and there was no word from him as to when he might return. He was often away, seeking ancient monkey-related relics that he said were of a mystical nature, so he didn't trouble too much over it. Still, this particular absence had been longer than others, and without so much as a phone call.

But Bates prided himself on his loyalty, and so he continued to maintain the manor, keeping it clean and orderly for the day of his master's return - at least until the money ran out. He gave himself a mental pat on the back for another job perfectly done. The Monkey ninjas had not returned either, and maintaining the household was much easier without their constant brutish behavior.

As he turned towards the heavy oak doors to the study, he did not notice that behind him a patch of shadow in a corner of the room was spreading out like an inky stain. A tall, thin man stepped out from the midst of the darkness, and moved swiftly towards the distracted butler.

Bates had barely heard the footsteps behind him and begun to turn when a wooden staff dealt him a solid blow to the head and he fell unconscious to the ground. Maze stared around, and his eyes fell on the desk where a number of books, scrolls and other items were neatly arranged.

He picked up a DVD case, marked "Han-Yono?" and placed it in the player that was positioned in front of the sitting chair. Maze scrolled through a number of scenes, showing maps, three strangely shaped keys, and ending with shaky clip footage of a bruised and battered Monkey Fist. He was sitting in the chair and talking to a black-clad monkey which was holding a camera and taking pictures rapidly.

'Tell me again why you thought I would feel better if you documented this....' said Monkey Fist, his voice sounding aggravated.

But then there were another set of scenes which showed Monkey Fist and a pack of monkey ninjas who were obviously in haste to go somewhere. 'Put that thing away!' said Monkey Fist impatiently. 'We must reach the museum containing the second half of the Yono scroll! Once we discover the shrine's location, the Han and ultimate Monkey power will be mine - and those fools at Yamanouchi will tremble at my feet!' Then there was a burst of static, and everything faded to black.

Maze rewound and paused, stopping at a point where the camera panned across Monkey Fist to the desk, showing the torn half of an ancient looking scroll. He turned back to the desk and saw the scroll lying under a glass case on a stand off to the side. He lifted the glass dome and took the scroll, tucking it into a pouch which hung from his hip. Then he strode to the mullioned windows to the study and threw them open.

He struck the floor twice with butt of his staff and a murder of about seven large crows fluttered down, landing on the stone sill and croaking. Maze stared at them, and the birds stared back at him with burning yellow eyes.

'Find Yamanouchi.' he said. And at once, the black birds rose into the air with a rustling flap of wings and flew off into the distance. He watched the birds vanishing off into the twilight sky, and turned back as he heard a soft moan.

When Bates awoke and got to his feet, it was to find an empty study. There was no sign that anyone had been there besides a pair of open windows, and the DVD player still displaying the frozen image of his long-absent master....

Coming Soon:
Chapter 3

Scarlet. Rabbit. Bell.
Answer?

Author notes: The plot thickens. Some of you are probably thinking - 'Why did the writer make Kim so snarky to Ron in this chapter?' I should say that all the jibes and comments she made about him and his intelligence were either paraphrased or directly lifted from actual TV episode comments she has made about him. This story, as hinted in the prologue, deals with issues in Kim and Ron's relationship that have always been on the surface, but never addressed directly. This is one of them. Overall, when speaking to others about Ron, Kim's language about him has often been patronizing, sometimes flat-out mean. So please don't blame me - Kim said 'em first on her own TV show....

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