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

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

Chapter 27:
Truth
Or: Do You See What I Be?

Part I: Possible Outcomes

Kim approached Toshimiru's dojo on the third day with a sense of wary dislike. She had found it peaceful and mysterious when she had first gone into it. But now she was coming to regard it as a place of discomfort and guilt.

After the first day, Kim had gone through another series of visions she hadn't enjoyed at all. She had seen herself, speaking about how it was important to play by the rules, but then breaking into Middleton High overnight and tearing down Prince Wally's student election posters so she could put up her own.

She had seen herself lecturing Team Impossible about how it was wrong to charge money for their services, and seen her outrage when they had used underhanded tactics to try and freeze her out of the hero business. She called such tricks 'villainous'. And then she had seen herself using the laser trap they had fallen into as a weapon to make them go non-profit - under threat of lethal force. It was a tactic which was, in retrospect to her eyes, more villainous than anything Team Impossible had done.

She had seen herself getting mad at Ron for signing her into the school talent show, but then staying in simply to spite Bonnie.

She also saw the game Ron had helped win a few weeks ago, just before the whole sitch with Monkey Fist and Maze had begun. Ron was looking up at the numbers and the time left on the clock after his last score. Then he had shouted booyah once again and started doing the 'bon-diggety' dance - the dance she'd expressly forbidden him from ever doing in public. Kim had seen herself in her cheerleader outfit, surrounded by chuckles from the sections of the bleachers where the visitors were seated while her face reddened with embarrassment.

'Nice moves.' said Bonnie. 'You mean after four years he hasn't worked on anything new? I mean it was a hoot the first time, but really...'

And she saw later in the parking lot when members of the opposing team had confronted them. 'If winning means being such a geek, then enjoy your victory.' the quarterback had said. She felt again the burning stares of everyone in Bueno Nacho as they ate later after the game, snickering at Ron behind his back. Ron had simply laughed the whole thing off. But Kim had been only too happy to leave Ron playing video games so she could take refuge in Club Banana.

She had seen herself, forsaking Ron on various occasions for more popular company. She saw herself hanging out with Shego after she had been hit with Electronique's Attitude reverser. She had clicked with the good version of Shego so well that she found herself spending time with Shego in preference over Ron, simply because they seemed to share so many common interests.

And yet, whenever Ron seemed to find someone besides Kim that he would like to hang out with, she reacted with almost ferocious jealously, even going so far as to eat Felix's nacos to prove she was 'one of the guys.'

She had seen Ron, risking his life to bring her an orchid from South America and thwart Drakken's plan to 'embarrass' her out of existence. While she had ignored Wade and set her life at hazard, simply to go on a date with Josh Mankey.

The Mystical Monkey had seen her date with Josh and casually asked if Ron had ever been sweet on someone. And at once, they had seen visions of Ron's fumbling attempts at dating. His brief time spent trying to woo Zita Flores over games of Everlot. And his wailing cry of dismay when Kim had told him that Tara had kind of liked him - but that she was now dating Josh.

And Kim could see the casual way she herself had not bothered to tell Ron when other girls were interested in him. She had seen jealousy spring up in her again at the thought of Ron and Yori going off together on a globe-trotting adventure - without her.

And then when the Eric synthodrone had appeared, the tables had turned. She saw Ron pathetically trying to use a see-saw by himself, while she and Eric were smiling and chumming it up at the swing set.

She had seen him in Bueno Nacho, surrounded by kids buying Diablo toys and screaming into Summer Gale's microphone. 'I'm losing everything I ever cared about!' And their conversation later in the tree house, when she realized he hadn't been talking about Bueno Nacho - he was talking about her.

But she had been so thrilled that Eric had asked her out, she had put Ron out of her mind. 'He'll be fine.' she had said to Eric. But then she had seen something she hadn't seen before.

Ron had been in his room, trying to put on that awful hand-me-down tuxedo, and talking to Rufus as he always did. '...And the whole Josh Mankey thing?' he had said, 'You know, I was never in favor of that. But I was there for Kim. Something's different now. There's something between us. Who am I kidding? That's not different. Something's been there a long time. I think there's something there. Does she?'

And once he was dressed, he stood in front of the mirror. 'I think I'm ready. Not just for the dance, either. But to do what no man should ever have to do - talk about his feelings! I know. It's humiliating. But Kim's worth it!'

'Mm-hmm!' Rufus had said.

Eric

Then the normal doubt and look of fear had returned to Ron's face. 'What if she really, really likes this Eric guy and I show up yapping about my feelings - and she wants Erik, not me... We're talking total flame-out! Oh man... Not to mention what it would do to our friendship.'

And Kim had watched him as he abandoned the Prom, slouching off to Bueno Nacho alone.

'Mmm...' the Mystical Monkey had said, shaking his head. 'That really pathetic.'

'He's not pathetic!' Kim snapped. 'He's.... Ron.'

The Mystical Monkey's brows knitted. 'Oh....' he said. 'He Ron. Thanks red, I kinda confused there for a moment.'

But Kim knew how it had turned out. She had seen Ron come to her again, as he always did. And during the Diablo sitch, when Eric had betrayed her and she had lost all hope, Ron was the one who brought her back. And together, they had once again saved the day. But the most wonderful part of the night was going back to the Prom with Ron, hand in hand for the first time as something more than just friends. The Mystical Monkey had sniffed at that point, blowing his nose noisily with a corner of his robe.

But soon after that, she had seen herself shaking her head at Dr. Director and agents of Global Justice, who believed that the 'Ron Factor' was the reason Kim kept succeeding in her missions. She had felt deep down that the idea of Ron being the reason for her success was laughable, and said out loud that Ron was 'prone to big-heady-ness'. But then she had seen herself coaching her brothers' soccer team, using her position to control them all with iron fisted strictness.

She saw herself bristling with jealousy in Home Ec class while Ron dazzled everyone with his cooking skills, while she could barely turn on a blender without it exploding. And while she had learned to benefit from Ron's zen-like attitude about cooking, she had once again resented his skill overshadowing hers, as she had with his Bueno Nacho job.

And finally she had seen the caper with Adrena Lynn at Russ Cueler's mansion, just a few days before Ron had been banished. She saw Ron save the day, and A. U. Dibble appearing suddenly at the manor to report the story, his microphone in hand.

'I was rescued by this boy right here.' Russ had said, putting a large, powerful hand on Ron's shoulder.

'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.'

Kim had seen herself standing behind them, clumped in mud from her chasing Adrena Lynn. 'Hey!' she had shouted, 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. '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?'

The Mystical Monkey had watched the whole thing with a curious expression. 'I know I just an observer here,' he said in his squeaky voice. 'But it seem to me every time the Chosen One try to step up, you smack him down. You afraid he might look as good as you? Or better?'

Kim again had been unable to answer, because she remembered all too well how she had felt that day with Ron getting the glory while she stood behind him. After being beaten by Adrena in the Big Four factory, she had wished Ron was a little better. But after he had inadvertently shown her up at the Cueler mansion, she'd resented it. 'I want him to be better.' she remembered thinking. 'But not better than me.'

And again when the visions had finally ceased, the day was drawing to it's end. And the Mystical Monkey had bidden her to come back again the next day.

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

She stood at the stairs leading up into the dojo with another Naco bag in her hand. Somehow, the ascent up the stairs was harder, and she climbed slowly, wondering what she was going to have to go through.

The Mystical Monkey again appeared as if from behind, pulling the Nacos out of her hand and shambling off to devour them at the foot of the Buddha statue. She waited while he ate his Naco tribute, staring out the door towards the distant mountain horizon. The clouds were painted with brilliant streaks of yellow and orange with the rising of the sun.

The munching and slurping sounds of his eating eventually slowed and then ended. She heard the thumping sound of his staff as he tottered over to join her. 'OK red,' he said, rubbing his hands together. 'You ready to start again?' He held out his hand to her.

Kim hesitated before taking it. 'Am I going to have to see the same kinds of things I saw before?'

The Mystical Monkey scratched his head with the end of his staff. 'I donno,' he said. 'Maybe - does it matter?' To Kim, it did matter. But she didn't know how to give voice to what she was feeling. But the Mystical Monkey seemed to catch on. 'You scared, red?' he said, looking at her piercingly.

And before she could answer, the mists rose around them. They swirled and rippled, and then parted, showing a much younger version of Ron sitting inside a wooden cabin and wearing a coonskin cap.

She was seeing Ron at Wannaweep, cringing in fear as he was terrorized daily by their monkey mascot, and the deep phobias it had left in him. But years later, he thought Kim had become a monkey because of Monkey King amulet.

But Ron had fought back his monkey phobia and done his best to look after her. He'd spent the whole day in Chippy's company, almost forming a bond with him, despite his fears.

Then the visions shifted, and Kim saw herself, trembling in fear in front of a dog-sized cockroach. Dr. Chester Yapese had made other roaches as large as a truck. Kim had felt a fear like she'd never known before as she saw them rampaging through Middleton. In an alley between two buildings, Kim suggested Ron should use his bond with Roachie to try and talk to the other roaches.

'Gah!' she screamed, seeing a roach as large as a school bus bearing down on them. But Ron hadn't noticed.

'Gah? What's Gah?' he said. 'You know if your trying to speak roach, you got it all wrong KP! You gotta click with your mandible.' Then he finally turned and saw the giant roach, and his jaw lowered. 'Oh...' he said weakly.

'Okay Mr. Mandible, you’re on!' Kim said, and she pushed him forwards towards the attacking roach, while she fled down the alley. Luckily, Roachie saved the day by stepping between Ron and the giant roach, talking it out of attacking.

Kim looked at herself in shock. It was one thing watching Ron running from danger - he did it so often she had almost come to expect it. But to see herself - pushing him into harm's way while she ran to save her own skin?

Then she was in her cousin Joss' room, listening to her going on about Ron while she taped up pictures of him around her mirror. 'Ron's afraid of everything, but does he let his fears keep him from sidekicking?' she said with her drawling accent.

'I do not!' said Ron, who was smiling and adjusting his collar.

'Let's face it Kim, you can do anything!' Joss continued. 'So facin' all those dangers and villains, well... it's just like ya say: no big!'

'Well, I guess...' Kim heard herself saying, torn between relief that Joss had taken down her own pictures and regret that her cousin had found another idol so soon.

'A fella filled with that much fear always chargin' into action with you... seems to me that's a true hero.'

'I can tell she's a Possible.' said Ron with his normal exuberance. 'Smart as a whip, this kid!'

The mists rose once again, and Kim saw the dojo. She stepped quickly away from the Mystical Monkey and the mists vanished at once. Kim kept her back turned, her head down. 'What was that for?' she said, and heard her voice breaking. 'Just to stick it to me that there are some things that I'm scared of?' She covered her eyes, letting the moisture that was pooling beneath her eyelids get sopped up by the cloth of her gloves.

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

In the spirit world, both Ron and Rhonda were sharing the same vision of Kim. The visions had started the previous day, passing in flashes. But Ron had done everything he could to try and focus, and gradually it reached a point where he was seeing what she was seeing. He observed the Mystical Monkey with a fidgety expression, looking ready to squeal and bolt at any moment.

'Come on,' said Rhonda. 'He seems OK to me. He can even talk.'

'And how wrong-sick is that?' Ron squealed. 'A talking monkey? That's just not right!'

And looking at Kim's face, Rhonda couldn't help but wonder. 'Well... it's true your GF doesn't look too happy about all this.'

Ron fought back his monkey fear as best he could to get a closer look at Kim's face. She looked miserable, and Ron wasn't sure why. He'd also seen a number of the visions from their past that Kim had seen - and they didn't look so bad to him. It was just stuff he remembered going through with her, like a walk down memory lane. Even the stuff that had annoyed him at the time didn't seem all that bad in retrospect. He had been a little embarrassed that Kim had seen him 'talking about his feelings' before Junior Prom - a moment he'd hoped to conceal from her forever. Plus, he'd been terrified that the vision would continue as he undressed and changed into his normal clothes....

But now Kim was wiping her eyes and the Mystical Monkey was staring at her anxiously.

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

She heard his squeaky voice behind her. 'Red? Something wrong?'

Kim kept her eyes closed. 'Please.' she said. 'I don't want to see any more....'

The Mystical Monkey sighed. 'Red...' he said, his voice sounding confused. 'What the deal? I thought you said you want to save the Chosen One.'

Kim felt her eyes tearing up again. 'I do.' she said. 'But this.... hurts! What does me seeing all of this have to do with saving Ron?'

The Mystical Monkey shook his head. 'It got everything to do with it, red.' he said. 'You said you do whatever it take to save him, no matter how much it hurt. You change your mind?'

  Eric

Kim gritted her teeth, turning back to face him. 'No.' she said. 'It's just... this is so different!'

The Mystical Monkey scratched his chin. 'Oh, I see...' he said. 'We saw the different kinds of courage you and the Chosen One have. And the different kinds of fear you both have.'

Then he suddenly went into a fighting stance. With a smoothness unlike anything Kim had ever seen, the Mystical Monkey began dancing and leaping through a flawless routine of Tai Sheng Pek Kwar. He moved through the dojo gracefully, easily splitting the practice dummies down the middle with a series of kicks and strikes. Kim watched in amazement. The Mystical Monkey had been so strange, so bizarre and flat-out goofy that she had forgotten he was the source of Ron's Mystical Monkey power. And as he moved through the dojo, leaving a pile of shattered practice dummies in his wake, Kim had to admit, it was not something she would want to go up against.

As the last dummy head was broken off and landed with a rolling thud on the floor of the dojo, the Mystical Monkey returned to a ready position and stood in front of Kim. 'Bet you not scared of this,' he said, striking some fighting poses that seemed amateurish, but Kim could tell he was just fooling around. 'You do this all the time, right? Fight the bad guy - kick his butt! That the sort of thing you go for, right?'

Kim shrugged. 'Yeah.' she said. 'You stick with what you're good at, I guess....'

'Oh, you guess, you guess!' said the Mystical Monkey, mimicking her shrugging posture. 'You got the flash and the smash, and when it all over you pose for the cameras while the whole world cheer for you! Yay! Yaaaaaaaaaaaay!' he raised his hands and shook them in the air, bowing before Kim in mock adoration. 'All hail Kim Possible! Oh Kim, we love you! You the greatest! Yay, yaaaaaaaaaaay!!'

Kim felt a stab of annoyance. 'That's not what I'm about!' she said angrily.

'Then why you wanna give up now when you need a different kind of courage?' he said, whacking her lightly on the top of her head with his staff. 'This a spiritual journey! No flash - no smash! When it all over, no one gonna come up with the cameras and the cheering and the yay, yay, yay! So you wondering - what in it for me? Why I gotta suffer like this if no one gonna praise me for being the hero, what the point?'

'Stop it!' Kim said, balling up her fists. 'You make me sound like I'm some kind of glory-hog! I help people, I save them!'

'But why you fight?' he said. 'For thanks? Guess you wasting your time now - huh, red?'

'No!' said Kim defiantly. 'I'm all about saving the world - I don't do it for thanks or for money, I do it because....' she paused, faltering.

The Mystical Monkey raised an eyebrow. 'Yeah...' he said, rotating one hand in a circular gesture. 'Go on, red.'

'Because... it's the right thing to do.'

The Mystical Monkey put his face in front of hers, staring at her. 'What you fighting for now?'

She looked back at him, a tear running down her cheek. 'I want to save Ron.' she said.

The Mystical Monkey held out his hand. 'You coming, then?' he said softly. 'You stay on the road, no matter how hard?'

Kim took his knob-knuckled furry hand. 'Yeah.' she said. 'But do we have to keep dwelling on the past?'

The Mystical Monkey shrugged as the mists rose again. 'You want to see stuff a little more recent?' he said, 'I keep telling you red, this your journey.'

And suddenly, Kim was standing in a dark warehouse. With a shock, she recognized it. It was where she'd had her titanic battle against Ron to destroy the Mega Synaptic Transducer. But the warehouse was mostly empty; the Transducer had not been built, and she saw Ron shackled into a chair. He was staring, his face fallen with shock, at a small chip held in front of his nose by Grimm Probable, while Rhonda stood beside him smirking.

Kim realized she was seeing what had happened when Team Probable kidnapped Ron - the day she had spent in frenzied worry, wondering where he was and what had happened to him.

'Your so-called 'friend' Wade implanted this chip beneath your skin.' Grimm was saying, a malicious sneer in his voice. 'He's had you bugged for years now - tracking you everywhere. Both he and Kim have been watching you day and night like a bug in a jar.' Kim winced. Even in her discussions of ethics with Wade it had sounded iffy - but the way Grimm was describing it sounded downright cruel.

'They... wouldn't do that.' Ron said, but his voice was shaking. 'Kim would have told me!'

Kim felt a black chill inside her as Grimm spoke again. 'It's quite a thing, isn't it - to learn that all the talk about friendship and trust they've been spooning you your whole life has been nothing but a pack of lies? To know that after everything you've done for them - after all the sacrifices you've made, that they've just been using you and laughing at you behind your back! This chip has proved valuable for them, I don't doubt - but it's hard, cold proof that even the girl who says she loves you doesn't believe in you!'

Ron was shaking his head, but his eyes were full of a dawning realization. 'No... way...' he said.

The Mystical Monkey squinted as if he had just seen a skateboarder wiping out. 'Ouch.' he said. 'This guy really know how push a button.'

Kim shook her head. 'Why am I seeing this?' she said. 'Ron and I already had it out over the chip - he forgave me. We came back from it closer than ever - he even kept the chip when I told him we didn't need it anymore....'

The Mystical Monkey shrugged. 'There something here that still rankles - maybe not him, but you.'

Then Kim was watching as Ron, his face blue and his mouth split into a twisted grin, dressed up as Zorpox and used the Lotus Blade to begin construction of the Transducer. He moved quickly, skillfully, eagerly. And Kim, remembering what the end result of his labors had unleashed, found her hands twitching, wanting to leap into action, to stop him. Her friends - her family - everyone she knew and trusted - turned against her - leaving her to face the battle totally alone.

But she found herself next to a table littered with parts and equipment. Grimm and Rhonda were leaning back and watching as Ron labored.

'The boy works fast, I'll give him that.' said Rhonda.

'He should.' said Grimm. 'With the motivation he's got.'

Rhonda shook her head. 'I donno.' she said. 'It feels kinda random - we're just hoping that Kim gets rolled up in this and that Ron is gonna put her through the wringer. This is his GF we're talking about. Won't he switch sides on us?'

Grimm, in turn, shook his head. 'He won't.' he said. 'You saw the look in his eyes when we showed him the chip. He knows we're not lying. The Attitudinator doesn't create hatred - it just makes the hate that's already there easier to reach. I can see it as plain as anything - deep down, there's resentment and anger. We've just given him an excuse to act on it. He wants to get even, and if anyone on Earth has earned the right to hate Kim Possible - it's Ron Stoppable.'

Kim was gritting her teeth. Even though he wasn't talking to her directly, she still felt his words slashing through her like knives. She wanted to shout, to deny it, to call him a liar. But she couldn't block out the visions of Ron locked in a closet, ditched, lied to, resented, and perhaps worst of all, marginalized. And she saw an almost savage delight in Ron's eyes as he continued building the Mega Synaptic Transducer, the machine that had thrown Kim's entire life into chaos.

From the spirit world, Ron was waving his hands and shouting. 'Don't believe it Kim! Water under the bridge!'

Rhonda smirked. 'You gotta admit - it was one hekkuvva play.'

Kim watched herself, wearing the bracelet that Ron had given her to shield her from the effects of the Transducer. She saw the look of sheer triumph on Ron's face as he activated the machine, and Kim understood at last why Zorpox had given her a bracelet that made her immune. There were two versions of Ron who had done it - each for their own reasons. Good Ron had done it so that Kim would have a chance to stop him. But Evil Ron had been just as eager to protect Kim from the Transducer - so she could see the results of his plan with her own eyes - and suffer. And she suddenly came to realize that Zorpox wasn't just the evil part of Ron's personality - it was also the part of him that wanted revenge on her.

Even as the realization came to her, the visions changed. She saw Ron fighting Grimm at YoyoDyne Propulsion systems, and Grimm was taunting him as he fended off Ron's every attack. 'Kim is gonna be so tweaked about getting beat by Rhonda that she'll finally try and teach you how to use your Monkey Powers.' he said, 'And when she does, you ask yourself - is she training you because she wants you to be her equal? Or is she just using you to get what she wants?'

Then she saw herself - fighting Rhonda in another part of the building, and Rhonda was using her powers to fend Kim off. 'You jealous?' she said, 'Jealous because we did more for Ron by making him evil than you ever did for him when he was good? Face it pom-pon - Ron was faster, stronger and smarter when he was on our side! Maybe he only steps up depending on the quality of the company he's with!'

Then she and the Mystical Monkey were in the karate dojo in Middleton. She knew it was shortly after Team Probable had escaped from them at YoYoDyne, and she was struggling to help train Ron.

She saw herself becoming increasingly frustrated by Ron's doubts and hesitations, until she finally said, 'I can only carry you so far. At some point you've got to start carrying yourself... You keep saying you want to step up, but you keep stepping back!'

Kim winced as she saw the color drain from Ron's face. 'Kim...' he said softly.

But she saw herself storming out of the dojo. 'I'm going out for some air.' she said, 'And when I come back, we can talk about whether you're serious about being a team player.'

The Mystical Monkey tapped his chin. 'Hmm - threatening students with expulsion in order to motivate them is an old sensei trick, red. Where you pick that up?' Kim couldn't tell what the Mystical Monkey was thinking, and his expression didn't seem judgmental - merely curious. But she still felt as if Bonnie had gotten hold of her diary and was reading it over the school intercom.

And lastly, she saw a vision of something that had happened only a few short days ago. She was in the cargo hold of a supersonic jet, flying to the town of Basalton to confront Monkey Fist and Maze.

She saw Grimm speaking, talking about Ron. 'In all the years that you've known him - has he ever done anything to willfully hurt you?' he said, 'He may be clumsy, ignorant and cheap - but he's never been motivated by spite. But how many times have you done things to hurt him? You've lied to him - you've ditched him - you've marginalized and criticized him at almost every level. And still he's stuck with you. Frankly, you don't deserve him.'

At the time, Kim had simply been angered by his normal head-gaming antics. But as she stood observing the scene from outside herself, seeing it in light of all the other visions since beginning her spiritual journey, she bowed her head, feeling her nails digging into her palms. The words sank deep into her. '...you don't deserve him.'

Part II: Probable Cause

Outside of Riddleton High, Grimm sat at the base of the school's statue of Edward Nygma, scouring it with polish. He was in the middle of detention, and Ms. Darken's first assignment had been for him to clean the statue alongside Donnie Stoneport.

It was dirty, sweaty, tedious, pointless work - just the kind of work that Ms. Darken enjoyed doling out. The statue was fifteen feet tall, not including the raised base, and they'd had to cooperate in some measure so they could reach and polish the upper portions of the statue.

Donnie had insisted on doing the upper parts, and Grimm knew it was because he wanted to be 'above' him. He might have argued, but he was too preoccupied with other things. His arms and hands went through cycles of strain and agony while he labored to remove weathering and grime from the statue, followed by short periods of relief when he paused to buff the metal with a clean cloth. But his mind was focused elsewhere.

It had been nearly three days since he'd dropped Possible off at Yamanouchi. Wade and Jade had completed the Counter-Jammer. It was an impressive construct, but according to Dementor, it wasn't nearly large or powerful enough to cover the entire globe. But Wade and Jade had not detected any activity from Maze or Monkey Fist with the Ultra-Atmospheric Jammer, which led them to conclude that they were still trying to get it working. Wade had begun work on a second Counter-Jammer, reasoning that multiple Counter-Jammers in different locations would serve to stop anything that Maze and Monkey Fist might try on a global scale.

Grimm had offered to help, but both Wade and Jade had nixed the idea, saying he'd just be in the way. And looking over the baffling schematics, he knew they had a point. So he had focused on taking care of Rueful, and organizing the homework that Rhonda would have to do when she got back. He kept his mind fixed on his belief that Rhonda would be saved somehow - and when she returned, she'd need to catch up on all the schoolwork so she could graduate on time.

He hadn't had to worry much about Monique. She had her own hands full trying to learn how to take care of Ron's needy naked mole rat, and with her own homework. But he hadn't put Possible's friend out of his mind - still suspicious that she might be acting under orders from Kim to try and scrounge up evidence to get him arrested.

But the few days in which Kim had been gone snailed by from his perspective, with little to do. Despite his communing with the Great Bear Spirit, he didn't 'feel' any closer to finding Rhonda. He thought he was still catching glimpses of her at times, but never to the point where he felt sure of what he was seeing.

'Pick up the pace, Probable.' came Donnie's voice from above. 'I want to go home before Christmas you know!'

Grimm rolled his eyes. 'What's the rush?' he growled. 'It's not like you've got a date or something.'

Donnie looked irritated. 'Who says I don't?' he snapped.

Grimm sniffed. 'Ever since Trixie started college, she hasn't given you the time of day.' he said.

'Trixie wasn't the only fish in the sea.' Donnie said, sounding resentful. 'As it happens, I've got...' and he trailed off.

Grimm looked up at him curiously. 'Got... what?' he said. 'Don't tell me some other girl fell for your smooth talk? Who's your new arm candy?'

Donnie's face was reddening. 'None of your business!' he said. 'Just hurry it up so we can go.'

'You're the one slowing us down.' Grimm said. 'You've been working on the same spot for half an hour!'

'It's not my fault!' Donnie shot back. 'This isn't dirt, they're scratches. Someone wrote something right into the metal and polish isn't gonna take it off!'

'Wrote something? What is it?'

'I donno, it's not English.' Donnie grumbled, still scrubbing at the arm with his scouring pad. 'Looks like gibberish to me.'

It was only then that Grimm noted exactly where Donnie was working - he was perched on Nygma's arm, at the statue's left hand. At once, he hopped onto the statue's base, vaulted up and caught the right arm, then hoisted himself up. 'Move it!' he snapped.

Donnie looked indignant. 'I've got this one, you go back down and work the base...'

'Move it!' Grimm shouted.

  solved

Donnie flinched in surprise at Grimm's sudden briskness. Grimm didn't wait, but started climbing across to the statue's left arm. Donnie yelped in protest, but smoothly curled and flipped down, dropping to the statue's base. 'Jeez Probable, what's with you?' he shouted.

Grimm paid no attention to him. He had reached the spot where Donnie had been working and looked down. There, etched deeply into the metal, were the Hebrew letters Aleph, Mem, and Tav - emet. And like a tidal wave in his mind, he felt the thrill of answering a riddle, combined with the chilling realization of what the answer meant.

He opened his hip pouch, and the diamond-tipped stylus that Jade had given him to use in Go City was still there. He took it out and stabbed hard, drawing the point across the Aleph symbol. The stylus left a gouge through the symbol with a squeal of metal on metal.

'Probable!' came a sharp voice from below. Ms. Darken had suddenly appeared as if out of nowhere, drawn by whatever mysterious power she had which seemed to enable her to detect any student wrong-doing. She stood beside Donnie, who looked equally annoyed. 'What the devil do you think you're doing?' she shouted.

But Grimm ignored her. His head was buzzing as new questions exploded in his mind. 'It had to be Maze and Monkey Fist.' he thought. 'There's no way this is a coincidence - to have exactly these marks in exactly this spot... They must have been planning to turn this statue into a golem. But how did they find me? No... if they knew I was here, they'd have used Monkey Fist's powers to get both Kim and me. But if they don't know I'm here, then why is this statue marked? Unless....'

He took out his communicator. Jade's face popped up, and she was in the middle of a cluster of wires and exposed metal, welding and securing connectors. 'Kinda busy, G-Man.' she said. 'If we're gonna need more of these counter-jammers, I'll need time to....'

'Jade, how many statues are there in Riddleton?' he said quickly.

Jade paused. 'I'm... not sure.' she said. 'A hundred or so I think. There's a few on the grounds at city hall, some in the parks, and a lot of the big businesses have some outside their buildings. They love showing off, you know.'

'I need to know exactly how many, and where they are. It's important - and I need to talk to Twitch now.'

Jade caught the edge in his voice and put down her welder. 'Why...?' she said.

'Now, Jade!'

Still looking confused, Jade's image burst into static before it was replaced by a flashing telephone receiver which blinked along with the word 'Calling...'. It was while he waited for the other end to pick up that he noted Ms. Darken was still shouting up at him.

'Probable, if I don't get an answer this minute...' she was saying angrily.

He struggled, trying to come up with a response that would mollify her. 'The statue was booby-trapped.' he said. 'I just disarmed it.'

'Yeah right.' said Donnie, sneering. He was standing a step or two back, obviously enjoying the sight of Ms. Darken yelling at him. 'It was just writing - you need an envelope to deliver a letter-bomb, Probable...'

Grimm ignored him, addressing Ms. Darken instead. 'Trust me, ma'am, you'll be glad I did this before long.'

'Does this have something to do with that website your hacker friend runs for you?' Ms. Darken said, glaring.

'Yeah,' he answered. 'I'll cover the cost of fixing this thing when it's over...' but his attention was diverted as his communicator beeped loudly and Twitch's tired voice sounded through the speaker.

'Yo G-Man, what up?' he said. 'If this is about finding that monkey dude, my peeps are still....'

'New mission, Twitch.' Grimm said, breaking in. 'I need you and the Irregulars to check every statue in Riddleton.'

'Say what?' said Twitch, squinting.

Grimm brought up a graphic file of the Hebrew word emet on his communicator and sent it. 'Every statue in the city.' he said. I don't care how big or small, check them. Look on their foreheads or on the backs of their hands for these symbols.' He used the touch screen to highlight the Aleph symbol. 'If you find them, then scratch out this mark - are you seeing this?'

'Yeah, I'm seeing it.' Twitch said, but he sounded annoyed.

'This symbol,' Grimm said again, making the highlight blink yellow with one of the apps on his communicator. 'The one that looks like a lowercase "n". You got it?'

'I got it already!' Twitch snapped. 'But this ain't gonna be easy - you're askin' us to vandalize public property....'

'Standard fee applies.' Grimm said wearily.

'Vandalize public property!' said Twitch, sounding enthusiastic. 'No problem!'

'I'll be touching base in half an hour.' he said. 'Get going.'

Twitch looked surprised. 'What - you want it done now?'

'Now.' he said, and he closed the link. Jade's face popped back up. 'They may need maps.' Grimm said to her. 'Get as much info as you can and help them out.'

'What are you thinking?' said Jade.

Grimm swiveled the communicator so its camera was pointing at the emet symbol he had scratched out. 'I just found a marked statue here at the school.' said Grimm. 'You know how much I hate being wrong, Jade?'

'Yeah...' she said.

'I hope I'm wrong now. Because if I'm right, soon Riddleton will be the only golem-free zone in the country.'

           
 
Chapter 28

End Game

Author: Two years of writing. Two years of riddles, role reversals and revelations about both Kim and Team Probable. And it's all coming to a head - very, very soon! No riddle this time - in the next chapter, Monkey Fist and Maze begin their end game scenareo!


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