No matter how old you get, there are just certain things that you never outgrow; PB&J, Saturday morning cartoons. For Kimberly Anne Possible and Tara Marie Lutz, it was pajama parties. Ever since they were little girls, they'd all loved sleepovers. But since Kim's unexpected "defeat" of Bonnie Rockwaller, they had been a regular part of the teens' routine. Nothing could ever beat pizzas, soda, and movies all night. With the arrival of Monique Sawyer, Tara had been insistent that her "cousin" be included. It wasn't in any of the journals she'd read, but it had quickly become apparent that family, even "extended" family, was always first on the list of any Eisbeber you met. How…how could her ancestors justify cold bloodedly killing people like that?
"Here are your pizzas girls," Mrs. Lutz chirped, entering the family room and setting down two hot pizza boxes. "Enjoy; if you need anything, Mr. Lutz and I will be upstairs."
"Thanks Momma," Tara smiled, tossing paper plates to her two chums and making a beeline for the pepperoni pizza.
Pizza was shared out and the girls hunkered down to begin their musical movie all night marathon, beginning with Singing in the Rain. Both Kim and Tara were major stage junkies when they weren't cheerleading, having gotten both of the female leads in last year's MHS Drama Club performace of Once Upon a Mattress, and both were making concentrated efforts to get Monique into the genre too. As far as the pair was concerned, all acting had gone downhill since the Golden Age. You just didn't see triple threat performers like Gene Kelly, Fred Astair, or Donald O'Conner anymore and the ones you DID see…well, you wished you hadn't.
"What a glorious feeling," Tara sang along with the opening credits. "I'm HAPPY again!" Kim couldn't resist and started singing along as well until the lyrics cut out. "Hey Monique, you know the Sadie Hawkins dance is next week?" Monique nodded. "Well I heard that Charlie Hermann is really hoping he'll get asked by a certain Luisant-Pêcheur."
Kim's heart swelled upon hearing the news. If there were ever two people who deserved each other and could make each other happy, it would be Monique Sawyer and Charlie Hermann. Monique wasn't really in for gossip but rumors abounded that Charlie, the quintessential "good boy", was head over heels crazy about her. Monique had quite an inkling towards Charlie in her own right. But unbeknownst to the rest of the human community, Charlie was also a Seellengut. Seellengut, a sheep-type Wesen, were kind and loving if very timid when outside of a "herd"; which, when you thought about it, was one of the things that made Charlie the perfect guy for Monique. He was over the moon for her but too scared to ever ask her out. It would be a great confidence boost for Monique to have to make the first move.
"Ooooh, I think wedding bells are in the air," Kim teased, elbowing her friend while she was taking a bite of pizza.
"STOP it you two," Monique's cheeks turned scarlet and it seemed she couldn't hold back at least one girlish giggle.
The movie moved to its inevitable conclusion, all of the girls holding each other tight as Don Lockwood took off through the theater towards Kathy Selden, and a toast was raised to true love. The girls moved through their planned line-up, Moulin Rouge, An American in Paris, Guys and Dolls, The Sound of Music, and Brigadoon. Through a good deal of begging, Tara had made a good case for tacking Rock of Ages onto the end, paying their respects to contemporary musicals. With tunes ringing through their heads and pizza digesting in their stomachs, all three clocked out for the night, dreaming of a dance with Gene Kelly, waltzing through and Austrian meadow, and jamming onstage at the Bourbon Room.
It was hours later when Kim jerked out of her fluffy blue sleeping bag. She…she'd been prancing through the Scottish Highlands, her plaid dress wafting in the breeze, and Gene was…NOT funny God! Wonderful dream or not, Kim officially needed a bathroom. She extricated herself from her sleeping bag and looked at the digital clock on top of the entertainment center…4 in the morning? If she was quick, she'd be able to doze off and hopefully find Gene once again. Thoroughly satisfied, Kim walked out of the upstairs bathroom and nearly into a droopy eyed Monique.
"Hmmm…dreaming about Charlie?" Kim teased, stumbling around her friend. Monique's only response was a deep yawn and to shove her way past.
Okay, Kim had had that one coming. She approached the stairs…and her ears perked up. Glass; she swore she just heard glass shattering. She tiptoed down to the landing. She was definitely hearing whispers coming from the living room. Thank goodness for Mom's training; Kim plastered herself to the corner and peaked inside. Her heart leapt up into her throat. This was no dream; four men were attempting stuff an unconscious Tara into a burlap sack! Kim…Kim would have to move fast. The four men didn't seem to be armed. Okay…it was maybe nine feet from here to her duffle where she had her kukris stashed. If she kept low…wait…Kim caught sight of a woge. Ugh! They were had yellowy leather skin! A few of them even seemed to have pointed ears. She wasn't even sure if she WANTED to know what they were. It didn't change the task ahead of her though. A faint thump above her disrupted her focus. Monique was standing halfway up the stairs, unsure at exactly what Kim was playing at.
"Some kind of Wesen is taking Tara," Kim whispered, silently making her way back up the stairs to her friend. "I'm gonna try and stop them. You go wake up Mr. and Mrs. Lutz."
Okay, back to her targets. Kim crept back down and…DAMN! They'd already gotten Tara in the sack and were making their way to the front door. At this point, SCREW the subtle stuff. Kim made a lightning dash for her duffle, snaked her hand inside, and grasped the black leather sheaths of her trusty weapons. She whipped the blades out and made a beeline for the front door. The Wesen were loading Tara into the trunk of a Lincoln of some kind. The athletic cheerleader turned Grimm took a running leap and landed squarely between the shoulders of the closest Wesen, forcing him to the ground with a loud OOOMPH. With the practiced motion that two years of training provided, Kim brought down the flat of her blade against her target's head, knocking him cold. This was only possible once however, as the Wesen's pals quickly realized that this little snatch and grab job wasn't going to be so simple. The Wesen who loaded her friend in the trunk took a seat in the passenger seat while two of the others made a charge at Kim. One of them looked to be carrying a baseball bat. The attacker swung it wildly at Kim but the blade of her kukri quickly embedded into the bat, allowing her to wrench it from the attacker's hands. His partner meanwhile made an attempt to flank Kim but was quickly met with a swift kick to the jaw.
"Pauley, Johnny, quit screwing around and grab the little…" The passenger halted in mid-sentence as Kim looked directly at him. "Santa Madre…SHE'S A GRIMM! DRIVE! DRIVE!"
The speeding car and the realization that they'd just been left behind left the two attackers pretty dumbstruck. Mr. Baseball Bat left an opening a mile wide and Kim took the opportunity to deliver a swift kick to the sternum. Partnership be damned; the other took off running in the direction of the speeding car. He could've disappeared entirely for all that Kim was aware. She knelt down on top of the Wesen and pressed her kukri to his throat."
"WHERE IS SHE? TELL ME WHERE YOU'VE TAKEN HER!" Kim growled pressing the blade until it lightly punctured the skin.
Whether he would've answered or not, the Wesen's life was saved by the rapidly approaching police cars. Lights quickly illuminated the front yard and calls for Kim to drop her weapons were quickly shouted. The kukris would require a little fast explaining but Kim knew very well to just drop the blades and obey the officers. There wasn't a lot of question who the bad guys were; after all, two hulking guys in dark clothes or a seventeen year old girl in her pajamas? The two kidnappers left behind were quickly handcuffed and shuffled into the backs of separate police cruisers but the police couldn't help but look a little sideways at the teenager.
Mr. and Mrs. Lutz quickly burst out of the house, shouting that their daughter had been abducted. Mrs. Lutz was near hysterics but thankfully Tara's dad was controlled enough to confirm that Kim was their daughter's friend and had been staying the night. Thank goodness for that. There wasn't much to be done at the house so parents and teenagers were whisked down to the nearest police precinct. Kim, as the one to encounter the attackers directly, was whisked off to a conference room.
"So Miss Possible, where did you learn to fight like that?" The detective interviewing her began.
"Uh…kind of my Mom," Kim replied. "Dr. Anne Possible; she's the medical examiner."
That must have sparked an emotional response because the female detective woged directly in front of her, a Madre Garda, a canine Wesen sort of like an Irish Wolfhound, almost always involved in law enforcement to some degree. "Oh…THAT Possible. I guess…no surprise then that you can fight like that. Now that you mention it, you smell just like her." Okay…Kim wasn't QUITE sure how to take that but could indulge the Wesen her little peculiarities. The detective reached over the table and offered a handshake. "Detective Mackenzie Brody. We've got the two you brought down in custody. Judging by your reaction to the attackers, they were Wesen?"
"Absolutely," What luck for Kim to be interviewed by someone she could actually be honest with! "I've never seen anything like them before. All of them had a kind of yellowy brown skin, almost like leather, ugly as SIN too! It looked like a few of them had pointed ears too."
Detective Brody furrowed her eyebrows, as if mulling something over. "Did you hear them talking at all? Did the others have an accent?"
Kim replayed the events in her head. No, she didn't pick up any conversation until she'd followed them out to the front yard. There wasn't any conversation until…yes…that guy in the passenger seat of the Lincoln. When he called for them to hurry up and grab her, now that she looked back on it, they did kind of have a New York or New Jersey accent, sort of like Italian, the kind of thing you heard on Jersey Shore. Now…was there any type of Wesen that originated in Italy? There were Acrobaleno, a butterfly Wesen, but that most DEFINITELY wasn't the case.
"Looking back on it, they sounded like something out of Jersey Shore. I…I can't think of any Wesen like that though."
The conversation was interrupted by a knock at the door. Detective Brody opened it and in rushed Dr. Anne Possible, straight for her daughter to embrace her in a motherly hug. It always baffled Kim that someone who was training her daughter to be a hardened killer of magical species could at the same time be so motherly that it got kind of annoying. Well…her mother was a woman of many faces, difficult to pin to a single category.
"Oh SWEETIE," Anne sighed, squeezing her daughter tight. "Monique called me as soon as she was able. Tara was KIDNAPPED?" She released her daughter and looked to the other inhabitant of the room. "Oh, Mack; thank goodness it was you who got the case! Do you have any leads?"
The two goons who got left behind were currently being grilled by two other detectives and they hoped to sweat a few details out of the two. Thus far, the best lead they had though was the information Kim had been able to provide. Based on her description of the kidnappers when woged, and the fact that the Lutzes were Eisbebers, Mackenzie was leaning towards the guilty culprits being Hässlichen, a troll-type Wesen that was supposed to be the origin of the Three Billy Goats Gruff story.
"Are you thinking an extortion racket?" Anne inquired, taking a seat next to her daughter.
"But…what makes you sure it's a…Hässlich?" Kim asked.
"Hässlichen and Eisbebers go way back," Anne explained, putting her hand on her daughter's arm. "As you know, Eisbebers all work in construction or repair work of some kind. Hässlichen seem to have this bizarre fixation with bridges and when an Eisbeber owned construction company starts work on one, a Hässlich is almost always there extorting money, usually through building inspections and such. Eisbebers…they're making good strides at standing up for themselves but they still have a long way to go."
"What does the Lutz family do for a living?" Detective Brody inquired.
"Well they run a fairly successful hardware store in West Middleton. Andrew also does repair work on the side," Anne continued. "Not the kind of Eisbebers that would have contact with Hässlichen."
Detective Brody's face took on that furrowed look, indicating that she was running clues through her head. "Based on your daughter's description, I really don't think it could be anything else. I guess that's all I really need from Kim. I take it…you two will be looking into this yourself? I'll be sure to let you know anything I find out."
"They just waltzed into the house and grabbed her?"
Amy Pritchard couldn't believe what she was hearing. A group of Hässlichen walked right into the Lutz's house and grabbed Tara? That…that was unthinkable, even for Hässlichen! Though she hadn't said as much, Amy could tell that her adopted daughter Monique had been bubbling over at the prospect of spending the night with Tara and Kim. It looked like after all of her daughter's tough breaks and Hellish childhood, she was finally showing signs of recovering. But this? And if they had tried to grab Monique and Kim too? Amy had half a mind to get her own Doppelarmbrust and hunt these SOBs down herself. She could see the familiar look in Anne's eye; she'd be taking this mission. And whatever Anne needed on this one, Amy would provide.
"Had Kim not also had her kukris…I just don't want to think about what would've happened," Anne sighed, taking a sip of her tea. "Has your network picked up any rumblings about and Hässlichen mischief?"
"Not that I can think of…at least nothing obvious," Amy would have to do a little more digging, see if she could uncover any big real estate battles going on right now. If the Hässlichen were trying to come down on a local company, Tara could just be a blind luck; a possibility but an unlikely one. This had "personal" written all over it. "My gut is telling me that this is personal."
As if on cue, Anne's cell phone rang. The caller ID read "Middleton PD"; Mack must have new information. "Hey Mack; something new?"
"Have you ever heard of an Arthur Johannson?"
"Yeah…Eisbeber who runs a big construction in…Erie, isn't it?"
Mack confirmed. As it turns out, Arthur Johannson is also Tara's great uncle on her mother's side. Shortly after Anne and the girls left the police station, Johannson had informed the Erie Police Department that he'd received a ransom note from an anonymous source, saying that unless they were "given what they were owed" in two weeks' time, they'd take the debt out of Tara's body parts.
Kim's breath caught in her throat. She was perched just around the corner from the kitchen, listening in. They…they…OH GOD! She had to help her friend! Those monsters were going to murder Tara and…Kim felt like she was going to be sick. She had to get Ron. She had to get back home and load up on arrows, her kanabo and kukris! Mom…Mom said the ransom note was in Erie. Kim…Kim would hotwire a car if she had to but she was going to get out there and…
"Kimberly Anne Possible, stop eaves dropping and come in here please."
How…Kim had been quiet as…ARRRRGGHHHH! Kim climbed to her feet and slouched into the kitchen. By the look her mom's eyes, she likely knew exactly how the wheels in her daughter's head were turning. The slanted eyebrows, that penetrating blue stare; how did she do that? How did her mother ALWAYS seem to know what was going on in Kim's mind? And how did she always seem to know when Kim was getting ready to go out on her own?
"Mom, I know what you're going to say but…" Kim struggled.
"'But' nothing young lady," Anne motioned for her daughter to take the vacant seat at the table. "I know exactly what you are thinking, and you going off half-cocked and emotionally distraught isn't going to bring Tara back." Kim plopped onto the chair and huffed in frustration. "Now listen to me. You and I are going to find Tara before anything happens. I give you my word that we will save her. But until we know more about the situation, storming in with arrows flying, we're going to do more harm than good."
"Your Mom's right Kimmie" Amy reached over and patted her niece on the shoulder. "Look, I've got contacts all over the state. Whoever took Tara, I promise you that we'll know in a matter of hours."
She…Mom…if anything happened to Tara, Kim would never forgive herself. BLAST IT, they were right. As much as she wanted to shoot her way into Erie and shoot her way back out with Tara in tow, going in without a plan would be suicide. Like Mom was so fond of always reminding her, "there's a thin line between courage and stupidity". She…she was going to go crazy though if she didn't do something though. AARRRGHHH! This was just so frustrating. Her mind flashed back to the punching bag that she and Mom hung from the basement ceiling to train with. She needed to hit something! That was the ticket! She needed to focus her energy as much as she could; and when the target presented itself, unleash her frustration like a bullet from a gun.
"Amy, Gabriella Gordon's in the Erie PD, isn't she?" Anne ventured, scratching her chin. Her friend nodded. "That's probably a good place to start. Kim and I will drive up there tomorrow morning and see what we can find out."
"I'm coming too?"
"Kimmie-cub, I trust you with all my heart but I want you close on this one," Mother informed daughter as they both got up from the table. Somewhere out there, Kim's grandmother was laughing like a hyena. While Anne's mother wouldn't have approved of her daughter rushing off to save a Wesen, Anne could remember numerous lectures and sermons about the dangers of Anne's impulsiveness and eagerness to jump without looking. It just wasn't an experience anyone truly appreciated until they had to go through it with their own child. Sometimes it seemed like Anne had just blinked and had gone from cavalier and carefree hunter to the authority figure trying to restrain said cavalier and carefree hunter. Kind of a silver lining to Anne and her mother not being on speaking terms; if she ever got wind of moments like this, Anne's face would be a never ending shade of scarlet.
Mother and daughter marched out of the shop and to the minivan, piling inside. Anne chanced a look at her daughter as the minivan pulled out into the street, frustration plastered across her face and looking like steam would begin spouting from her ears. If her daughter was anything like her, she'd need to get Kim to a punching bag and FAST! Say what you would, but the seasoned Grimm often found hitting something very therapeutic, almost as if the frustration and anger was being absorbed by the object. The minivan traveled the familiar route between the store and home and her daughter must've been thinking exactly along those lines. As the two entered the house, Anne saw her daughter make a beeline for the basement. Anne only hoped that her daughter didn't take things too far.
"How is she?" Jim Possible Sr. emerged from the kitchen, offering his wife of 19 years a cup of coffee.
"Oh, angry, frustrated, borderline reckless," Anne sighed, taking a sip of the coffee. "You know; like mother like daughter."
"Well, one of her best friends in the world, one of the precious few people her age she feels comfortable sharing her secrets with, was kidnapped," Jim put an arm around his wife and ushered her back to the kitchen. "If it was me, I'd probably be feeling exactly the same thing she is. Probably also attempt a little vigilantism myself."
"Well at least it's not ONLY my genes making her difficult," Anne plopped onto one of the stools. The smell of pancakes from breakfast still hung in the air, reminding Anne how hungry she was. She'd gotten the call from the Police shortly after making breakfast and had to rush out before actually eating anything. She nuked herself a plate of flapjacks and two sausage patties and sat down to sate her massive hunger.
"So are there any leads?"
Anne swallowed a syrupy mouthful. "It's got something to do with Tara's great uncle up in Erie. He ticked off the wrong people and they're trying to get at him through poor Tara. Amy and I have a contact we've worked with before in the Erie PD so Kim and I are going up there tomorrow morning to see what we can sniff out."
"Would it help if I went down and talked to Kimmie?" Jim offered, downing the remainder of his coffee.
"I'd hold off darling," Anne sighed, taking another sip. "She's kind of in the same place I was during my pregnancy with her."
The rocket scientist flinched and nodded, still not remembering what exactly it was that had set Anne off but remembering very clearly being thrown across the room, thankfully landing on the couch. Thank God, Kim likely wouldn't be able to accomplish the same feat but with all of the dangerous objects in Anne's little work room and Kim's growing skill at throwing them? Best to let her daughter vent. He'd have to make a concentrated effort to keep the boys out of her way today.
Sgt. Gabriella Gordon heaved a sigh of relief as her partner hauled the perpetrator off to a holding cell. She had finally done it; Mrs. Hinton had finally pressed charges on the abusive SOB that called himself her husband. Many were the times that Gabriella and Charlie had to respond to a domestic abuse complaint at their house. All you had to do was LOOK at the guy and you could tell he was guilty. It took every ounce of Gabriella's willpower not to draw her Smith & Wesson 5906 sidearm and turn his brains into wall paint. But it was over now. Mrs. Hinton would leave the bastard and he would rot in jail.
"Hey Sergeant," One of the patrollers interrupted her euphoric peace. "I've got an Anne and Kim Possible here looking for you."
Anne and Kim? Huh…that was sure out of the blue. She hadn't seen hide nor hair of the mother and daughter duo since they bundled Duff Killigan on an improvised African safari. They'd all but saved her baby sister's life and Gabriella would never be able to thank them enough for that. But what could they want in Erie? The patroller led the pair of redheads to her desk and Gabriella leapt up, embracing the pair like family.
"I didn't expect to see you two again," Gabriella smiled as she took her seat again. "What brings you to Erie?"
"Well…it's an 'animal' situation," Anne replied, taking a seat in front of Gabriella's desk. "I assume you heard about the ransom note the head of Johnson Construction got about Tara Lutz?"
"Yeah, everybody knows about that. Why?"
"I…Amy and I are pretty certain that this is a Hässlichen situation," Anne continued. "Tara Lutz is an Eisbeber and a very close friend of Kim's. They grabbed her from a sleepover the girls were having and had it not been for Kim, they probably would've disappeared without a trace."
So THAT was what was going on! It was Hässlichen! If the poor girl was Eisbeber, then it was almost assured that was the case. Now…who could it be? If she remembered her records correctly, there was a group of about ten or so Hässlichen operating in Erie that the Resistance knew about. Supposedly they were a branch of one of the Philadelphia families looking for more fertile grounds to operate in. Slowly but surely, they had wormed their way into the City of Erie's building office. Six of them worked in the office and the other four operated as enforcers when local Eisbeber needed roughing up.
A few of the local businesses were owned by the "family". One that immediately came to mind was The Fuzzy Tail, a local strip joint exclusively for Wesen. She'd been on teams that tried to make arrests there before and you could almost SMELL the Hässlichen presence there. But try as they might, the Erie PD and DA's office just couldn't make anything stick to them.
If Anne and Kim could manage to bring these guys down in the process of rescuing the girl, that would be a major step towards improving Erie. "Okay, here's the key to my apartment. I get off duty in about two hours. Meet me there."
Giuseppe smiled as he watched the blonde Eisbeber bitch squirm against her bonds. Ooooooh, the plans they had for her! Either that spineless oaf Johnson paid up and the Eisbebers were put back in line…or The Fuzzy Tail had a fresh new attraction, as did the streets of Erie. Just the thought of getting to break that little fuzz ball in made his pulse quicken. Dress her in a little schoolgirl's uniform, put her on stage and…CHACHING!
"Boss, I…I know nobody's talking about it," Nikko brought the man out of his internal fantasy. "But two guys DID get left behind."
Giuseppe motioned for the man to follow him out onto the main floor. He heaved a contented sigh as he surveyed all of the girls serving drinks and dancing on tables. He immediately was drawn to the new girl, the tall brunette Dämonfeuer with the green body paint. SHE had been a good investment. She'd marched right in and demanded a job, full of confidence and not taking any crap. Under normal circumstances, Giuseppe would've roughed her up a little to bring her down a peg…but something about that level of confidence seemed attractive.
"Nikko, Pauley and Johnny will keep their traps shut just like always," Giuseppe laughed as he plopped down onto the cushioned chair of his private table. "In a few days, local cops will receive an order to let them go and…"
"That…that's not what I'm talking about Boss. That redheaded kid…she's a GRIMM! I mean, those two can hold their own against any cop but…a fucking Grimm?"
"She's a TEENAGER," Santa Maria; Nikko was never this paranoid. The kid had put up a good fight but they had gotten out with what they wanted. Was Nikko seriously suggesting that a teenage girl could break Pauley and Johnny when they'd succeeded in standing up to the FBI, DEA, Hell, the whole alphabet soup of government agencies? "Nikko, you gotta RELAX man. Here," Giuseppe whistled and motioned for one of the Fuchsbau girls to scoot over and get to entertaining. She smiled, running her slender hand along Nikko's arm, and climbed onto the table and began gyrating. She went full woge and glossy red fur sprouted across every inch of her body, tickling Giuseppe's cheek as she brushed her ankle against him. "Mark my words. In two weeks, Arthur Johnson will be a broken man. And in THREE weeks, we'll have a beautiful new blonde attraction on that stage."
This…this was one for the record books. Throughout her time as a Grimm, Anne Possible had wormed her way into a lot of different places using a lot of different disguises. She'd posed as nun once to gain entrance to a convent and eliminate a particularly disturbed Ziegavolk; thank God for her immunity to their pheromones. She'd even made herself up to look like a guy so she could infiltrate a club for male Geier. But…posing as a Lesbian Wesen so she could gain access to a strip club? That…that would be one of the more unusual ones; Jim and Amy would likely get a big chuckle out of this. Anne wasn't about to bring Kimmie to a place like this; she felt uncomfortable even with Gabriella at her side. Thank goodness Kim was waiting at the car in case things went sour. Never mind the fact that there wasn't a logical way to explain a 17 year old teenage girl gaining entrance to a place like this…AAHHHH! Anne didn't even want to think about Kim in this kind of establishment.
"Remember, we're just two Balam out looking for a good time," Gabriella mentioned, pulling her car to a stop in the parking lot. "I'll woge at the door and the bouncer should assume we're both Wesen. We'll go in, case the joint out, and go from there."
Thank God the Dickfellig at the door proved none too bright. A wave of blue fur cascaded over Gabriella and the bouncer waived the pair forward. Upon entering, the pair was bombarded with pounding music and the smell of alcohol. Wesen women of seemingly every variety were standing on tables, gyrating for the seedy customers that came pouring in. Was that a…a Gelumcaedus…dressed as a French maid? Ugh; to each their own but…UGH!
The pair took a seat beneath a Fuchsbau dancer. She was directly adjacent to a roped off section that was presumably for the club owner…who was indeed a Hässlich, one Gabriella recognized as Giuseppe Alessio, the boss of the Hässlichen presence in Erie.
"What'll it be ladies?" A Klaustreich waitress stepped up with a notepad.
"Whiskey, neat," Anne said without even looking away. "My friend will have a Sam Adams."
Three men emerged from the back of the room and took seats in the owner's area. Gabriella identified the three as Giuseppe Alessio himself, the one on the right as Nikko Castoro, Alessio's cousin and one of his lieutenants, and the third as Arthur Flocco, Alessio's head of security. As the three took a seat and settled in for their entertainment, what was likely a Dämonfeuer of some kind based on the flame theme she had going on, Anne settled in. She had long ago honed her hearing to the point that she could block out her surroundings and zero in on a particular conversation, all the while looking like she was enjoying a drink and a table dance with her companion.
"…wait till we get the new girl up there," Flocco purred as he surveyed the dancers around the room.
"I'm sorry Boss…but I still got a bad feeling about this," Nikko sighed, taking a swig of whatever drink he had before him.
"Oh Madre Maria!" Giuseppe cried, downing a shot. "Nikko, do me a favor and just THINK about that sweet supple fur, the flowing blonde hair." Giuseppe gave a mock shiver. "Trust me; we are completely untouchable!"
Had Anne not had better control of her emotions, the glass clasped in her hand would've shattered and she'd have leapt over the booth and lopped off their heads right there. This was it! Tara was somewhere in the building!
"She's in the building," Anne whispered, leaning in close. "I heard them talking about Tara."
The song ended and the dancers began retreating to the back room. As the Hässlichen's dancer turned to go, Anne caught sight of her face. Now, over the years Anne Possible had developed a fair amount of skill at being able to read people in a very short time. That look, almost a mixture of contempt and smugness, like she had a secret from those men that they had absolutely no clue about. Something more was going on here and that Dämonfeuer was the center of it.
So THAT was it! Everyone who worked at the club knew better than to push it but the locked door had been a source of curiosity for the dancers for days. They had a kid locked up in there, holding her hostage for something! This…this WOULDN'T stand! This was bringing up too many memories for her to just ignore it. She would have to act now!
Shellie Gorton had suffered more at seventeen than anyone should have to suffer in a lifetime. Those bastards…that horrible night…Daddy…Yasmin…Andrea! Shellie's mother had passed away when she was very young, driving her father into a horrible depression. But…Yasmin helped him get out. With so few of them left, Daddy was so lucky to meet another Zündholz. Shellie loved Yasmin like a second mother and had been fiercely protective of her baby half-sister Andrea. For the first time in what had felt like decades, the Gortons had become a real family again. DAMN the Hässlichen! That day walking back from Aikido practice…all those ambulances surrounding their house…Daddy's last words; the gunman had been charred to a crisp, leaving no possible clues for the police to follow, and no one to tie the murder to.
So help her, the only good Hässlichen was a dead Hässlichen! So Shellie went underground, off the grid, taking the name "Shego" in her crusade for justice. She traveled wherever there were rumored to be Hässlichen and ensured that none of them could EVER hurt the innocent again, all the while searching for the ones who ordered the attack on her family. Now she had the chance to add insult to injury to these miserable SOBs. This girl, whoever she was, was obviously important to the head honcho around here. So if she could free her, get the girl out of the building and into the open, then the Hässlichen would be forced to pursue her and she could fight on ground of her own choosing.
But all of this was contingent on Shego actually getting her hands on the poor kid. Her shift was now over so she at least had an excuse to remain backstage. Her first stop was of course to her dressing room. She wouldn't be able to rescue anybody wearing black lingerie. She was going to need freedom of movement; a lucky break that she'd snagged a flame retardant set, tight black jeans and a dark green top. Donned in more appropriate clothing, Shego began puzzling out how she would first get the guard at the door out of the picture. These guys, especially the muscle, were the worst Italian Mafia clichés imaginable. So…this should actually be relatively easy.
"Excuse me," Shego leaned her head out the door, putting on her best mock flirty smile. "One of the light bulbs went out in my mirror and I can't reach it." She jutted out her lower lip in a pout. "Could you…help me?" Shego motioned him forward, licking the tip of her finger.
Could that smile be any more predictable? You'd think that if these guys were really interested in security, they'd invest in some brains instead of blind loyalty. Sasquatch lumbered on over with a painfully dimwitted smile plastered on and stepped into Shego's dressing room, ringing his hands in anticipation. She was going to enjoy this! The big lug began making a move towards her…and Shego hammered forward with a fist to the neck, shattering his throat and immediately heading off any cries for help. She delivered a swift kick to the head, shattering his jaw by the sound of it, and throwing him against the wall.
No telling if anyone had heard that. Shego wheeled a rack of outfits in front of the body. The illusion wouldn't hold for long but it should at least buy her enough time to get away. Now...there was a camera on the ceiling, pointed directly at the door. If this kid was as important as Shego thought, they'd have someone watching. So she couldn't approach the door to try to communicate with the girl. Unfortunately that also meant that the moment Shego took out the camera, she'd have to move lighting quick to her car. Okay…one…two…THREE! Shego ignited a fireball in her palm and shattered the surveillance. Keeping her hand burning hot, Shego burned a hole around the lock, cutting through the wood like butter. The door easily swung open…and there she was! Ooooh…the poor kid looked to be in pretty bad shape. Her blond hair was disheveled and tattered; she looked like she hadn't bathed in days. No time to worry about that now though. She looked to be drifting in and out of consciousness, maybe drugged. Shego hefted her up and put the girl's weight on Shego's left shoulder. She hobbled out, trying to move as fast as she could, vaporizing any cameras she came into contact with. The door to the employee parking lot kicked out and Shego rushed to her 1970 Chevy Impala. She could already hear a commotion rising inside the building. Well…screw the subtle stuff. She draped the girl in the back seat and ignited both hands, lobbing two fireballs into the doorway out to the parking lot. That would at least slow them down. Shego climbed into the driver's seat and fired up the engine. Throwing it into drive, she burst through the chain link fence. Now…now she needed a place to prepare.
Kim utterly hated waiting! "Stay with the car," her mom had said. "We need somebody ready with an escape if things go south." Kim had begrudgingly seen the logic in her mother's instructions and frankly Kim had read enough of her ancestors' journals to be more than a little hesitant to enter a strip club with scantily clad Wesen but…she'd been sitting here twiddling her thumbs for the better part of two FREAKING hours! She was about ready to go bouncing off the walls of the car. Directly on the next street, she knew her mother and Sgt. Gordon were making their insertion. YES, there was no assurances that Tara was even there, let alone that they'd be able to rescue her tonight if she WAS there…but give this girl SOMETHING practical to do.
A revving engine and screeching tires dragged Kim out of her internal argument. By the light of the street lamps, Kim could see an old muscle car fishtail around the corner and head straight for her. Kim whipped up her mother's pair of night vision binoculars just in time to see the rear left tire burst, sending the car to a screeching halt twenty feet from her on the opposite side of the street.
"Kimmie, the Hässlichen had Tara stashed in the club," Mom's voice crackled over the radio Kim had stashed in the cup holder. "Something went down here. One of the dancers freed her and took off with her."
"What…what kind of car was she driving?" Could they really be that lucky?
"I didn't get a good look. But a truck load of Hässlichen was about half a block behind them last I saw; likely more on the way."
Kim focused in on the car, looking for any sign that they may have finally gotten a lucky break. The woman, maybe seven or so years older than Kim and Tara, flowing black hair cascading down her back, climbed out of the car, spewing a stream of curses at their bad fortune; she darted to the back seat and hefted out…THAT WAS TARA! She looked pretty banged up but Kim would recognize her numero uno girlfriend anywhere!
"MOM, I'VE GOT THEM," Kim screeched into the radio, reaching to the back to snag her kanabo and its harness.
"Kim, we are enroot," Her mother barked. "ETA three minutes!"
Kim faced the windshield again just in time to see a pair of headlights approaching VERY fast. Looking for Tara and her mystery rescuer, Kim spotted the woman helping Tara into what looked like an empty store of some kind. Satisfied that Tara was sufficiently hidden, the mystery woman returned to the street, bracing herself for a fight. The approaching truck skidded to a halt and eight Hässlichen piled out, armed with various weapons but thankfully no guns. Kim needed to get out there! She climbed out and ran to catch up to the mystery woman, drawing her kanabo.
The mystery woman quickly clued in to the fact that the Hässlichen were surprised by something approaching behind her. Through her peripheral vision, she spied Kim and turned her focus back to the threat in front of them. "I don't know who you are but if you're any good with that thing but feel free to join the party."
"Love to," Kim steeled her gaze and stepped into a fighting position.
As if that was the signal to begin, the Hässlichen in front of them woged and charged. Kim's training kept her firmly in place. Make the adversary come to you. Two Hässlichen with nightsticks charged at Kim. She ducked the first's blow and hammered the kanabo against his back. Reversing the motion, she brought the butt of her weapon up into the second's chest. The first went flying into a parked car and the second, to his credit, took the blow and immediately came back at Kim. He swung the nightstick downwards and Kim brought her kanabo level to block the blow. Metal thumped against wood and Kim lashed out with a sweep, knocking the attacker's legs out from under him. His head collided with the pavement and rang his bells for a few moments. Kim unfortunately wasn't able to ready herself for the third attacker and her kanabo was sent skidding along the pavement. She darted her head around and spotted the follow-up blow in time to roll out of the way and rise with kukris drawn and at the ready.
The Hässlich sized Kim up, now taking stock of the fact that regardless of this girl's age, she knew how to use these weapons. The two circled, waiting for the other to make the first move, when both were distracted by a snarl from behind the attackers. Without warning, a figure landed on top of the Hässlich and tore into his neck with its fangs. The purple furry face, now streaked with blood and chunks of flesh, of Sgt. Gordon looked back at her.
As strange as it would've looked to an outside observer, Kim smiled at the arrival of the cavalry. Her eyes quickly darted to a Hässlich about to charge Sgt. Gordon from behind. It was like instinct. Afterwards, Kim could barely remember the event. She whipped one of her kukris into a throwing position and let it fly, the blade making a sickening thunk into flesh and bone.
Kim turned to see her mother and this mystery Wesen fighting back to back with the remaining two Hässlichen. Kim hadn't noticed it before but she could now see the Wesen's hands were wreathed in a green flame. Kim now realized that the stench of burned flesh now permeated the area and saw the burn marks on the Wesen's first to adversaries.
"Go help your friend," Sgt. Gordon growled, motioning back towards the car.
In all the activity, Kim had completely forgotten. Tara was still stashed in that building up the street.
"TARA?" Kim shouted as she burst inside, running through all of the empty isles. "TARA…IT'S KIM?"
Wait…moaning…coming from THERE! Kim leapt over the countertop and nearly landed on her friend that she had fought so hard to find!
"Tara…Tara, it's Kim," Oh God; it looked like they'd been drugging her with who knows what. "It's all gonna be okay now," Kim knelt down and hugged her friend, nestling her head against Kim's chest. "It's over."
The last remaining Hässlich fell to the ground, trying to scramble away from the death trap he'd been forced to enter. Shego began approaching, the fury of battle making her eyes burn through him. She ignited a fireball and hurled it at the grounded goon. Hotter…hotter she made the fire burn as it engulfed the Hässlich. ALL…HÄSSLICHEN…MUST…DIE! His cries of pain fell on only deaf ears! With one final burst, all fell silent as the fire finally did its work.
Who…who WAS this? Both Anne and Gabriella had no love for Hässlichen but this woman…she'd never witnessed anyone take such pleasure in executing them. Dear God…what had these people done to her?
"Who…who are you?"
The Wesen de-woged, turning to face Anne and Gabriella…and instantly reignited a hand in flame, bracing to throw it. Anne looked around and quickly realized she was standing directly in a beam from a streetlight…this woman had to have realized she was facing a Grimm.
"DON'T DO IT," Gabriella shouted, leveling her Smith & Wessen. "If she'd wanted you dead, she'd have let the Hässlichen finish you off. I will NOT hesitate to shoot you."
The Wesen looked from Anne to Gabriella, weighing the options she'd just been presented with. Anne breathed a sigh of relief as the fire winked out and the woman seemed to relax, albeit a small amount.
"Okay…I'll ask again. Who are you?"
"Shego; an orphan" the woman breathed, glancing back at the charred remains of her last opponent. "Made so by monsters just like this! This…this TRASH…you have no idea what they had planned for that kid."
"Her name is Tara Lutz from Middleton PA," Anne replied, not daring to take her eyes off of the woman standing before her. "She's my daughter's best friend and I've been searching for her for several days."
"I take it that little spark plug from earlier is your kid?"
As if on cue, Kim's voice crackled over Anne's radio. "Mom, I think they drugged her. She looks pretty banged up. I think we need to get her to a doctor."
Anne turned back to Shego only to see her back at what Anne assumed was her car, hefting a new tire out of the trunk. She was the Dämonfeuer dancing for the ringleaders back at the club. But as Anne studied her closer, the behavior didn't quite fit the traditional profile of a Dämonfeuer. And now that she looked back on it, the woge also wasn't as extreme. What was she? She'd mentioned that that she was an orphan because of a group of Hässlichen. She pursued them indiscriminately like a Balam because of what had happened to her.
The tire changed and the flat thrown in the trunk, Shego climbed into the front seat and started the engine. Before she could take off, Anne darted to the open window.
"Take care of that girl," Shego breathed, eyes focused on the road ahead of her. "Somewhere out there…the Hässlichen are hurting someone else. And I won't rest until it stops!"
"What's the prognosis?"
The police had quickly descended on the scene after Sgt. Gordon's call and Tara was whisked off to the nearest hospital. Kim and Anne were peppered with questions but enough of the police were Wesen for Sgt. Gordon to truthfully explain the situation and mother and daughter were given a ride to the hospital via the first available police cruiser. They'd already begun tests when Kim and Anne rushed in so the pair were presented with a bit of a wait. Thankfully a doctor came out after about an hour.
"Well Dr. Possible, your daughter's friend is going to be fine," He confirmed, smiling at Kim's joyous reaction. "A few bumps and bruises but nothing she won't recover from. We did a full check. Tox screen is clean, no signs of sexual assault. It looks like they kept her sedated through most of the ordeal so she likely won't remember much of it. She's awake so I can take you back to see her if you like."
"You go ahead Kimmie," Anne patted her daughter on the shoulder and drew her cell phone. "I'll call her parents and tell them the good news."
The doctor led Kim down the hall past the nurse's station and ushered her into a hospital room. Tara smiled from ear to ear and TRIED to climb out of the bed but quickly thought better of her muscles' objection. Kim ran towards the bed and engulfed her friend in a bear hug.
"I'm so glad you're okay," Kim breathed, a few tears beginning to stream down her cheeks.
Tara squeezed her friend just as heard. "Are…are Daddy and Mom here?"
"They'll be here soon," Kim replied. "Tara...I…" How could she get the words out? WHAT words was she trying to get out? "I…you're my best friend. And I'll NEVER let anything happen to you!"
Sorry this story took so long. I've been focusing more on the Triple Threat series recently and have had a slight case of writer's block with this one. But thankfully that's over with now. You can't do a Kim Possible without mentioning Shego. In a lot of the fan fics I've read, I think it works having Shego on the good side. I really tried to make her an anti-heroine, going on a vengeful crusade a la Dean and Sam Winchester from Supernatural. I like to think that it works.