'Minions!' he yelled. 'Spring forward and defend your master!'
Then he heard firm footfalls behind him. Mr. Matter whirled around, and through the darkness, he saw hands reaching out to seize him....
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'What?' said Kim. She was in the hallway at Rhonda's house, just outside of Rhonda's room. She had been about to get ready for bed when she heard a knock and found Grimm waiting in the hall.
'I said a mercenary mission just came up.' said Grimm. 'You in?'
Kim sputtered in disbelief. 'What makes you think I'd go out and help you do jobs for your villain buddies?'
Grimm smirked. 'Just thought I'd offer. I know you're still trying to scrape together enough evidence to put me in jail - what better way than to come along and document one of my missions?'
Kim frowned. There was something entirely too smug about the way he was treating this chance for her to gain 'evidence' against him. After the fiasco with Rhonda's photo album, she found herself feeling more cautious. 'I don't believe anything you say anymore.' said Kim. 'What's the catch?'
'No catch.' said Grimm. 'I just had so much fun helping you take out Gill, I thought you might enjoy a walk on the wild side.'
'As if.' said Kim.
Grimm was walking back to the stairs which led down to the living room. 'I already beeped Enrique - he volunteers as a stand-in for Rhonda sometimes. We'll be waiting outside in a few minutes. If you've got the guts - come along. Or stay here, hide under the bed and let the men take care of it.' Then he disappeared down the stairs.
Kim felt her face going red and incoherent sounds of anger gurgling in her throat. 'If I've got the...' she stammered. 'Let the men take care of...?' It was blatant manipulation and she knew it - a barb with none of the subtlety that Grimm usually showed. But as far as buttons went, that was perhaps one of the hottest ones Grimm could have pushed.
She stormed over to the door for the guest room. Before she could knock, it opened and showed Monique staring at her with a cunning eye. 'Did... you... hear that?' Kim said.
'Uh huh.' said Monique. 'You know he said it on purpose to get you mad, right?'
'Yes!' Kim said.
'You know he's got a lot of girls on his team and he didn't mean a word of it, right?'
'We're still going on this mission, aren't we?'
'Snap, yes!' said Kim.
From Kim's hip pouch, Rufus smiled faintly and clapped a pawed hand to his forehead.
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As quickly as they could, they geared up and went outside the Fatigable house, gathering by the curb underneath a street light where the Sloth was parked. Grimm and Enrique were already there standing next to the Ksikkihkíni, with Rueful peering over Grimm's shoulder and sniffing the night air. Enrique's eyes sparkled as soon as he saw Monique, who flinched and stayed a step behind Kim.
'So what's the sitch?' said Kim. 'If it involves stealing anything, forget it.'
Grimm smirked. 'Unless it involves stealing from Professor Dementor or HenchCo?' he said slyly. 'You'd be fine with that, right? I may have to take tips from you on how to steal if that's the case - Dementor said you were a pretty good thief.'
Kim gritted her teeth, her fists clenched. 'That was...' she sputtered, her cheeks reddening again, 'Drakken tricked us!'
'The same Drakken you keep saying is a pathetic loser?' Grimm shot back. 'Who's the real loser? The loser - or the people who let themselves get tricked by a loser?'
'Why don't you and Monkey Fist get together and figure that out?' Kim spat.
Grimm's eyes narrowed and his own face seemed to redden a bit, but Monique shot forward. 'How about you sitch us first? You can play verbal lawn darts after we learn if the mission's a zero or not.'
'Fine,' Grimm said, holding up his communicator. 'Jade - sitch me.'
'Wade, patch us in.' said Kim, both her and Grimm looking determinedly away from each other and at their video screens. Jade popped up an instant later.
'I didn't get much more out of Matter.' Jade said, taking a sucker out of her mouth. 'He wanted to fill you in personally. He only said he was having trouble at his lair.'
Grimm nodded. 'Where does he want to meet?'
'The diner.' said Jade. 'I think he's there right now.'
'On it.' Grimm said. 'But stand by - we'll probably need more info once he's given us the details.' Jade nodded and saluted as the communicator screen blacked out.
'Senor Grimm,' said Enrique quickly, with half an eye still on Monique, 'I was thinking - two guys on a motorcycle - no es macho. Since Kim has a car, perhaps I might... go with the senoritas?'
Grimm rolled his eyes, but looked questioningly at Kim. Kim rolled her eyes as well. 'Backseat.' she said, jerking her thumb towards the Sloth.
'Excellent!' Enrique said, delighted. 'As we are joining forces on this mission, it is for the good of the team that we get to know each other as best we can, and the backseat is the perfect place for quiet conversation....'
Monique was suddenly looking at him with a smile. 'It sure is, homeboy.' she said. 'And if it's quiet conversation you want, have I got a partner for you....'
Within moments they were speeding down the streets of Riddleton with Grimm in the lead. Monique sat in the passenger side front seat of the Sloth. Enrique was in back, and buckled next to him was Rufus. The mole rat smiled and waved at Enrique, winking at him and growling playfully.
Enrique sighed, looking up towards the heavens through the roof of the car. 'This is not what I had in mind...' he said mournfully.
'Well that mission brief taught us nothing.' said Kim to the dashboard speaker. 'Are mercenary mission briefings always that lean on intel?'
'The initial contact - yeah.' Grimm answered, his voice crackling back through the speaker. 'You have to understand that almost every client is paranoid about something. Paranoid about being caught, paranoid about sharing their secrets, paranoid that someone will rip off their ideas... Sometimes you don't get the actual mission details until a second or third meeting.'
'And what if you decide you don't want the mission?' Kim said.
'Play it Belgian.' Grimm answered. Kim paused and shrugged to Monique who shrugged back, but didn't seem to understand it any better than Kim did. 'The time-honored art of waffling.' Grimm continued. 'Some double-talk here, some cagey phrases there... A few questions answered with questions of your own... They do it too of course. It's kind of like talking to a used car salesman, but as long as you're patient you can usually waffle it out of them.'
'You'd be better off taking jobs with clients who play it straight.' said Kim. 'When you don't take jobs from the bad guys, you don't have to worry about your clients pulling a fast one on you.'
'Not every client's a "bad guy".' said Grimm's voice, 'Sometimes clients are victims of espionage and they hire us to get their stuff back. Sometimes the clients are people you'd actually like, Possible. You might want to give them a chance before you write them off.'
'So what kind of villain is this client anyway?' Kim said.
'He's not really a villain.' said Grimm. 'He's more like a villain wannabe. He made a fortune as a business tycoon and was able to retire early. But he got bored with that pretty quick and decided he needed something to occupy his time....'
'And he decided super-villainy was the way to go?' Kim said.
Kim groaned and shook her head. 'Why do bored rich people always try to take over the world?' she said. 'How come none of them ever try becoming super heroes?'
'Thing is, a lot of them believe they are heroes.' said Grimm. 'Most of them think they're the smartest people on Earth, and that their ideas for running things are the best. And they want to prove it to the world whether the world wants it or not. It never occurs to most of them that the world could do just fine without them.'
'You'd think that fact that none of them have taken over the world yet would be a big tip-off.' Kim said, grumbling as she kept her eyes on traffic. 'That and the fact that no one likes them. People don't like being bossed around by jerks who think they're better than everyone else.'
'It's the same thing I told you before.' Grimm's voice answered. 'You can present them with all kinds of facts and evidence that their ideas won't work, but they'll totally ignore it. Even when their lairs are blowing up around them, they'll still insist that the only reason their plans failed is because everyone else was too stupid to realize how brilliant they are. Heads up, we're almost there.'
Grimm was turning into a square, paved lot with a small building in the center. Kim followed, parking in an empty spot and getting out to look at where they were. It looked like a shabby restaurant. The parking lot was rough, broken in some spots with potholes. The building had a large sign that blared white in the darkness with black letters that read 'The Losers' Last Chance Diner'. The large plate glass windows that spread across every wall of the diner looked piercingly white against the surrounding darkness, but even so, it couldn't hide the dinginess of the restaurant interior.
Grimm and Enrique were already heading inside and Kim and Monique followed. A scratchy radio was playing in the background. Linoleum and chrome seemed to be the dominant theme. A smattering of faded photographs behind greasy panes of glass lined the walls above the windows, along with a number of rusty road signs.
The diner seemed to be deserted except for a lone waitress who stared at them from behind the counter as if the arrival of customers was something she hadn't planned on. But from one of the corner booths, a figure shot up.
'Mr. Probable! I'm glad you came so quickly!' He gestured them towards the booth, seeming wary of the others.
Kim stared. The man was dressed in a white lab coat and black boots. He wore industrial rubber gloves and had a pair of welding goggles pushed up onto his forehead. His hair was thick and bushy, but slightly unkempt, as if he started each day by sticking his finger into an electrical socket. The coat had an indented stripe across the front that looked like a stylized letter M.
'Mr. Matter - it's been a while.' said Grimm with a nod. He went to the booth and the others followed him, squeezing into the upholstered U-shaped bench that surrounded the table. Enrique didn't sit down.
'Should I get the usual, Senor Grimm?' he said, jerking a thumb towards the counter.
'Yeah,' said Grimm, handing him a twenty dollar bill. 'You guys like smoothies?' he said, 'They make a berry-banana here that's to die for.' Kim and Monique shrugged, doubting that anything the diner made would be good, and Enrique moved off to the counter. 'So what's the sitch, Mr. Matter?' said Grimm. 'Jade said you were having problems at your lair, but she didn't give me any more details.'
Mr. Matter's face contracted. 'I didn't want to discuss it over a wire.' he said peevishly. 'It's rather embarrassing, but I currently don't have a lair - it's a long story....'
'I'm all ears.' said Grimm, leaning back against the upholstery. Enrique returned with several cups and handed them out before eagerly sitting down next to Monique. He also brought a nacho caddy, which both Rueful and Rufus noticed. They sprang from their respective pouches and started nibbling at the chips, pausing every so often to lean in and growl at each other.
But Mr. Matter was still looking at the others suspiciously. 'Have you... expanded your team since I hired you last?' he said. 'I thought I remembered you having a blonde girl in your group. Did she dye her hair red?'
'These guys are on board for this mission.' said Grimm. 'They're OK. This is my friend Enrique, this is Monique, and her friend - Kim Possible.'
Mr. Matter sprang to his feet, pointing at Kim with his eyes blazing. 'I thought I recognized you!' he shouted. 'You're that crime fighting girl all the other villains keep raving about!' He turned to Grimm, looking furious. 'You've betrayed me!' he said. 'You're in on the whole thing with them, aren't you? Whatever they're paying you I'll double it once....'
'Matter - chill!' said Grimm. 'Yeah, she's a crime fighter, but right now I'm guessing you're the victim - which means she's on your side.'
Mr. Matter sank back down slowly into his seat. 'But... to accept help from a hero?' he said quietly. 'What will the other villains say at the next convention?'
'No need for them to know about this, I'd say.' Grimm answered. 'Who's gonna tell them?'
'Well... I suppose even if they heard about it they wouldn't believe it.' Mr. Matter said more doubtfully. 'I'm not sure I believe it either... You're sure she's not here to arrest me?'
Grimm shrugged, taking a sip through the straw of his cup. 'Let's ask.' he said, turning to Kim. 'You here to arrest him?'
'Arrest him?' said Kim, 'I've never even heard of this guy. Why is he called "Mr. Matter" anyway? Can he control matter or something?'
'Not exactly.' Grimm said. 'He calls himself Mr. Matter because he's made of matter.'
Kim blinked. 'But... everyone is made of matter!' she said.
'Indeed yes!' said Mr. Matter, rubbing his hands together. 'But with my brilliant gray matter, I will soon take over the world, and then all matter will be under my sway! Hahahaha-haaaaaaaaaaaa!!'
Kim felt her mouth hanging open and closed it. Her hopes of gathering enough evidence to jail Grimm faded. She wasn't sure she could get a local judge to arrest Mr. Matter, never mind State or Federal. If she presented a 'villain' like him as evidence, she might be laughed out of court.
'Coolness.' said Grimm, with a warning glance at Kim. 'So what's your latest plan?'
'Ah.... well....' said Mr. Matter, suddenly twiddling his gloved fingers, 'There are a few snags that I've run into, but I have every confidence that they'll clear up.'
'And one of those snags involves your mansio... ah, your lair?' said Kim, trying to get him to focus on the actual task he wanted them to do. 'Maybe if his plan is 'criminal' enough....' she thought.
'Alas, true.' said Mr. Matter, now clutching at the air above him, his face taking on a grieved appearance. 'I'm afraid that I'm no longer in control of my lair - I need you to get it back for me!'
'Kind of like old times.' said Grimm with a faint smile. 'What is it - another malfunctioning security system?'
'Sort of.' said Mr. Matter with an angry grimace. 'As you may recall, the security system which I installed in my mans... ah, my lair, was brought into a state of malfunction because of my two henchmen, H1 and H2.'
'That was like my first job! How did you regain control?' said Kim, curious.
'Oh, Probable jumped through some lasers or something, details - details!' said Mr. Matter, waving his hand.
Kim shook her head. Here was yet another way in which her life and Grimm's seemed to intersect.
'He didn't seem all that sure about taking the money I offered him until that girlfriend of his convinced him...' Mr. Matter said.
She shook her head again. So it was Rhonda who had steered him into working for money? She glanced at Grimm and wondered what he might have been like if Rhonda hadn't put in her two bits at just the wrong time.
'I remember.' said Grimm. 'Go on.'
'The situation is similar now, but different. It seems my henchmen are rebelling against me.'
Grimm's eyes opened a little wider. 'Rebelling?' he said. 'I thought those guys worshipped the ground you walked on.'
'So did I!' said Mr. Matter, wringing his hands. 'That's why I kept them around - I've never had a minute's trouble from them before - at least in terms of loyalty. True they're ham-handed, ignorant goofwads; and neither one of them could think their way out of wet tissue paper, but they were always obedient! Now all of a sudden, they throw me out of my own lair and they've sealed it against me - madness!'
'Can you think of any reason why they'd do it?' said Grimm, punching information onto his communicator.
'None whatsoever!' said Mr. Matter angrily. 'I can only deduce that they've spent one day too many admiring all my stuff and they've decided that they want it for themselves.'
'You do have a lot of stuff....' said Grimm, smirking.
'Yes, and I miss it!' said Mr. Matter with another glare. 'So if you'll just... do whatever you did last time and get my lair back, I'll pay you the same as before.'
'If we do, what'll happen to your henchmen?' said Kim suspiciously.
'They'll be punished severely!' said Mr. Matter with a crazed grin. Kim leaned her Kimmunicator closer to record anything villainous he said as he ranted on. 'I'll lock both of them in the Tickle Dome for an hour or so! That will teach them the consequences of defying my will! Mwuh-ha hahahahahaaaaaaah!'
Kim turned off her Kimmunicator, a feeling of disappointment and embarrassment sinking into her. There was no way anyone would take him seriously enough that they would throw Grimm in jail by association. 'Fine, let's get it over with before anyone I know sees us together.'
Mr. Matter turned to her with an appraising look, then turned back to Grimm. 'She's a lot lippier than the blonde was.' he said.
'Tell me about it.' said Grimm, smirking. 'Don't worry Mr. Matter - we'll get your lair back. Team Probable is on the case!'
'That's your team battle cry?' said Monique, finishing her smoothie. 'Pretty lame.'
Grimm shrugged. 'Fine.' he said, standing up. 'Team Probable - transform and roll out!'
Kim groaned as everyone but her and Monique cheered and headed for the door, even Rufus. 'Boys.' said Monique, shaking her head.
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Within half an hour, Kim found herself parking the Sloth a few dozen yards away from a vast complex. They were in what looked like a huge gated community within a colossal gated community, having been admitted through a wrought-iron gate with the words 'Manor Meadows' in the arch at the top.
Grimm seemed to know the way, though Mr. Matter was now in the backseat with Enrique, giving Kim directions as she drove until they reached their destination. Kim looked around and saw nothing but large manors and mansions with high gates all around. Clearly they were in a section of Riddleton set aside for the richer people to build their manors and try to out-do each other in terms of the opulence of their yards.
Nearly every mansion was set on a hill, and Kim caught distant glimpses of hedge mazes, pools, statues and all the other useless trappings of people who had more wealth than they knew what to do with. All the mansions had various grand architectural stylings, but when Kim spotted one that looked similar to a Transylvanian castle, she knew this one had to be Mr. Matter's 'lair'.