(This story is a work of fiction, and does not exactly reflect the views and/or beliefs of any ethnic or religious group mentioned.)

(This work is dedicated to my lord god YHWH, for with Him, anything is possible.)

The Heretic

1

Kimberly silently took in a deep breath, slowing the conditioned air as it escaped her mouth quietly. Her heart throbbed in her ears when she swooped around the corner, her bruise colored pistol taking the lead. The perpetrator was somewhere within the narrow corridors of the house, probably watching and waiting for her in a corner of a dark room.

Her breath quickened as she quietly approached the last door of the domicile, the squared muzzle of her Glock trained on it like a hawk. All of the rooms prior were empty, the occupants detained by the rest of her team. They turned out to be nothing more than common civilians, stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time at the time of the "raid". The plain slab of thick wood standing in front of her entered into the room, and hopefully the led to the perpetrator.

Her kneecap steadied at chest level, and she angled the sole of her boot parallel to the door, aiming it a little to the right of the brass knob. Her brow furrowed and the snapping of wood, the large door flinging open while she retrained her pistol into the void, quickly silenced the huff of her breath.

She hurried inside, the flashlight in her supporting arm wobbling briefly before her grip steadied the beam. A large circle shinned onto the back wall, revealing to her what the shadows kept hidden. Crouching at the foot of the wall was a person, blond hair capping his head with brown eyes dotting his face. In his tense grip was a bruise colored gun.

*That's the guy! *

"DROP IT!" she barked, pushing her gun forward menacingly. "DROP IT NOW!!"

The mud eyes rolled in their sockets, and the bruise gun fell out of his grip, gently clattering onto the hard carpet.

"KISS THE GROUND!" she narrowed her eyes. "HANDS ON YOUR HEAD!"

Through her racing heartbeat, her ears managed to catch a groan, the character boyish and sarcastic.

"Man," the suspect groaned, "first I'm the distraction, now I'm the suspect! What's next?"

She took an eased step forward a moment after the person belly flopped onto the carpet, cupping his hands over his messy blond hair while the fingers interlaced. The pistol in her grip lowered its angle with every step taken, the muzzle trained down when she was on top of the suspect--

Something touched the back of her head, cold and hard. Her eyes grew as the familiar staccato of clicks met her ears.

*Oh crap.! *

*Click. *

"Congratulations, Ms. Possible." The irritating voice of her instructor said mockingly. "You're dead."

"Indeed, sir." she frowned. "Yes indeed."

She winced, her eyelids slamming shut when the main house lights suddenly flickered on. The object relinquished itself from the back of her head, and out from the corner of her eyes walked a stocky man, balding with a semi-automatic pistol in his grasp.

"Possible:" he said flatly, "where was your blind spot?"

"The corners, sir." She looked down.

"And that's why you're dead, Possible." He stated. "Though you did have good entry and you kept the suspect under control, it doesn't matter when you have a bullet in your brain."

".Yes sir." She sighed, eyes rolling.

"Don't take that tone with me, young lady!" he growled, tone dropping to an authoritative pitch. "I wouldn't loose one wink of sleep if I threw you out on your ass!"

"I know, sir." She lifted her head back onto her shoulders properly. "I know."

"Ms. Possible," he began. again, "the government has never supported your ventures. The only reason you got into the law enforcement course was thanks to that fighting Irish Hobble back in Middleton."

"Officer Hobble and the rest of the MPD thought that the STS was perfect for me." She said.

"I don't give a damn what that Mick said!" he growled. "Do you get me?"

"Hmm. yes sir." She said bitterly.

"Good." He nodded. "Your scheduled training week is over. Go home. or wherever you two bunked."

The stocky instructor walked out of the room, huffing and wheezing like a dying animal with every step. It was amazing how a guy of that shape and temperament ever got a job at this place.

"You okay, Ron?" she slipped the bruise gun back into the holster.

"No, you damaged my ego!" he moaned, shuffling to his feet. "Why do I always have to be the doormat of this duo?"

"Couldn't tell you." She said. "Maybe it's your purpose or something?"

"Sure, KP." He rolled his eyes. "Whatever you say."

He pressed his hands to the small of his back, and she cringed when she heard every vertebra pop back into proper alignment.

"I can't believe that you actually came with me for this." She folded her sleeved arms. "I'd thought you'd be busy catching up on some sleep."

"And miss out on some serious weapons training?" he blinked quizzically. "You got to be joking."

"What's with men and guns?" she asked. "See them as an extension of your manhood or something?"

"Nope!" he shook his head. "I just like the way they look."

"Boys and their toys." she said dismissively. "Boys and their toys."

She unfolded her arms, letting the left dangle naturally by her side while she glanced at her watch. It was half past six, and the through the nearby slit that was the window, the sun was beginning its descent toward the Appalachians.

"We'd better go, Ron." She yawned. "I can't stand another minute in this mock-up."

"I hear that." He smiled warmly. "I don't ever want the people back home to see that Ron Stoppable was floored."

"But on every mission, you are floored." She giggled. "Come on, we got to return this stuff back to the police."

"What?" he blinked. "I thought you bought these?"

"Patrol-suits, combat boots, and tactical vests?" she cocked an eyebrow. "So not!"

"Right." he slapped his forehead. "I'm with the fashion queen after all."

"I'm *so* not the fashion queen!" she said flatly.

"So, so!" he pressed.

"Shut up, Ron." she gently punched him in the shoulder. She turned on her boots and she walked for the door, not before Ron had to throw in one more shot.

"Oh--!" he mockingly cried. "Save me! The fashion queen's abusing her power!"

***

The drive back to the hotel was a quiet one, except for the radio blaring out of the speakers of the rental car. She could see Ron out of the corner of her busy eyes, slouching in the passenger seat, legs crossed with his chin "resting" against the edge of the seat belt's shoulder belt. She giggled softly as Ron rambled on unconsciously. She wasn't sure what the heck was going on in the dreams, but whatever the sleep talker had to say, it surely had to do something with chimps.

"Yes. Mr. Bobo!" he mumbled incoherently. "I would like. a backrub."

Kim snickered under her breath.

Her eyes darted back and forth between the busy dashboard and the darkening road, keeping in check the slight movements between her hands and foot. She didn't know how much of a mental hassle driving could be when she first started; it was amazing how she passed Barkin's test the second time around. with the help of a talking SUV of course.

A lane of asphalt curved away from the main freeway, the exit to the hotel. She easily slapped the blinker control up, the annoying clicking of the turn signal broadcasting her move to the surrounding people. Checking her mirrors carefully and quickly stealing a glance over her shoulder, she veered onto the exit perfectly, easing onto the brake in the deceleration lane. The warm glow of the Hotel 6 flooded her tired eyes, almost blinding her from the red light at the intersection.

*Note to self: * she knocked her head against the headrest, *don't get distracted! *

She shook her head just before the light turned green, replacing her shoe back on the gas and the car lurched forward. As she flipped on the right blinker, veering into the turn lane for the hotel lot, she was grateful that the rental car wasn't a standard. Tara had shown her the basics of shifting and working the clutch at her mother's request, but she still didn't understand it.

*Two feet, three pedals. Yuck! *

The compact rolled easily into the parking space at the front of the building, the momentum pushing her forward gently as the vehicle came to a complete stop. The buckle clicked, and the restraint whipped across her body almost slapping her in the face.

"Wake up, Ron." She yawned. "We're here."

"No chimp.!" he moaned. "No monkey touch there! .It's private!"

"Ron!" she narrowed her tired eyes. "Wake up!"

"Huh--what?" he shook awake gently. "Is the chimp gone?"

"Yes, monkey man." she rolled her eyes. "We're at the hotel."

"Oh!" he blinked. "Right. Damn chimps! First they want to give you a massage, next thing you know they're going straight for your fly!"

A kink formed in her eyebrow, a rather large one. "Uh. yeah." She said. "I think."

The door popped open, and she climbed out of the car quickly. The body wobbled when the door snapped back into the frame with a quick shove. Ron made a sound, a kind of surprised yelp, and she heard something hit the asphalt like a sack full of potatoes. She placed her hands onto the slick top of the car, and she stood onto the balls of her feet. From the angle, she could see a mat of blonde, messy hair resting upon the asphalt.

"Ron," she moaned, "quit playing around!"

"I'm." he yawned, "not playing."

"Come on!" her hands met her hips. "Get up."

"Sure thing, KP." He said quietly. "Just give me five minutes."

"Okay then." She shook her head. "It's a shame too. I'm I going to have to eat the takeout food all by myself?"

Suddenly the blond head popped out above the car roof, brown eyes wide open. "Don't be touching my tacos, Kim!"

"Oh?" she crossed her arms defiantly. "Who's going to make me?"

Without retort, the blond was already off for the hotel room, the glass doors moving out of the way with a slam. She walked calmly towards the swinging glass panes, gently giving the flat rectangle in her Capri pocket a slight pat. She'd love to see the look on the boy's face when he realized that he didn't have the door card.

*Poor boy.*

***

The world to Ron looked overturned as he watched the TV set on his back, the bedsprings giving way to his body. His head drooped at the foot of the bed, the back of the head drooping over the edge. There was nothing to watch on the local channels, just reruns of tired shows and the 24-hour news channels. He figured that watching them from a different viewpoint might actually be interesting. It was interesting to say the least, chuckling at the Israeli troops as they seemingly ran on the ceiling in a nameless home in the region.

Israel. boy would he love to go back there again someday. In days long ago, he remembered when he was just a small boy going to school there, learning the language of his people, skipping happily down the Via Dolorosa ironically, and just feeling awestruck at the strong connection he felt to the land the god, YHWH had promised the people ages ago. But as he watched those terrible images on the screen, he wasn't sure that his god's promise would last, given the current state of madness and the international consortium of bullies that everyone called the UN.

*Man. I wish I could do something. But what can I possibly do? It's just not fair: not to Israel, 'Palestine' or the rest of the innocents caught in the crossfire. *

*POP! *

A door creaked somewhere nearby, and he angled his head to see Kimberly step out of the bathroom. It was rare that he got to see her in her pajamas, but he couldn't help how cute she looked in the glow of the television: legs of her light blue sweatpants draping over her legs and a tank top with a little heart that crinkled and swayed with the movement of her breasts.

"Take a picture, Ron." She smirked. "If you can calm yourself that long."

He cocked an eyebrow. "What did I do now?"

She flopped onto her bed on her back, bouncing on the springs briefly before she rolled onto her stomach. Her elbows met the mattress while her chin touched on the palms of her open hands. "It's not what you did per se." She said. "But rather what the rest of you did unconsciously."

"Huh?" he said.

"Feel any discomfort, Ron?" she smirked playfully, devilishly. "Particularly southward?"

Sorely, he lifted his head off of the edge using a hand for support. He felt something tighten in his chest as his eyes locked onto the tent rising on his pajama bottoms. Quickly he flopped onto his stomach, a slight moan escaping his mouth when he felt himself bend at and odd angle.

"He. I suggest you put a leash on that thing." She giggled.

"Pf. sorry!" he smiled sheepishly. "I get carried away sometimes."

"I can see." She said. "I think it's amazing how you can keep that monster under control. mostly."

"You saw it??" he pushed a wad back down his throat. "When?"

"Hello!" she rolled her eyes. "I was in your body for about a day, remember? What, you honestly think I didn't have to take bathroom breaks?"

"Oh. right!" he flicked at his temple. "Duh!"

"And when Josh walked by.." There was a slight wobble in her voice. "That's when things really got uncomfortable. I don't think I have to go beyond that."

"Read you loud and clear, KP." He grinned. So Kim was a typical human after all.

"Question:" she said, and he felt his blood begin to quicken, "why is size so important to a guy? It's not like a girl's body can accommodate all the extra tissue. I mean, I can understand if he's equipped like a pencil but not you, Ron."

".Couldn't tell you why I did it, Kim." He said honestly. He could hear his voice tremble a bit. "I was just curious about enlargement, that's all."

"No you weren't." his eyes grew wide. "You were afraid that a girl like me wouldn't *enjoy* a guy like you, right?"

"Uh."

"Ron," she smiled warmly, easing his heart down a few beats, "you're perfect the way you are. Don't change anything anymore, okay?"

"Okay KP." He took in a deep breath, blowing it out quietly. "I promise."

"Okay, Ron." She smiled. "Oh--and Ron?"

"Yeah, Kim?"

"You got a huge dick!" she laughed hysterically, pressing her hands to her gut in the fit.

He couldn't help but join in, and he felt a little bit of pride swell in his chest. "Yep! Mr. Horse, that's me! Care to give Mr. Horse here a little TLC?"

The laughter quickly died with a pillow square in his face, hard. "Ron!" she exclaimed.

"What?"

***

"So. are those machine thingies out of your body yet?" he asked the undulating shadow that lay in the bed next to him. It was best, they both decided, to simply talk each other to sleep since the news offered nothing but depressing lullabies.

"The neural-machines?" Kim said. "Yeah, they passed about a week ago."

"No surgery.?" he yawned.

"Nope," she replied, "from what Stein told me. They seem to filter back into the bloodstream and let the batteries die, and the body does the rest. I passed them just like I would a kidney stone, and they're biodegradable so no one could use them."

"And that neurotoxin?" he said.

"The machines underwent an extreme apoptosis before they passed out, burning the toxin with it. I just felt feverish for a while."

"Hmm. so that's why you were out for a couple days." He thought aloud sleepily. "So. how's the old warhorse doing?"

"Which one?"

"Stein--Stein." He stuttered. "Didn't he go blind a few weeks ago?"

"No." she explained. "The medics saved his sight, most of it anyway. He does need glasses now though."

"That sucks. He must be crushed."

"Yeah, he stuck doing gear head work for the squadron again. It's a shame too, he loved flying more than anything."

"Should have joined the Air Force." He noted.

"Yeah," he could see the ovoid shadow nod, "but we probably wouldn't be alive today if he did."

"Really?" he blinked. "Why's that?"

"Don't be so dense, Ron." The ovoid shook side to side briefly.

"Okay." he said. "But how's the scar?"

"What scar?"

"The one beside your abs." He pointed to the area of shadow accordingly. "Where you got stabbed, remember?"

"Ugh. I could I forget?" she shivered. He felt her soft fingers wrap around his own and she pulled the limb closer. It looked like the shadow itself enveloped him and pulled him in. On the pads of the tips of his fingers, he felt her soft flesh. "Do you feel it?"

He moved the digits around the soft texture. He felt nothing abnormal ran into his fingers, not that small ones had a different texture than a normal patch.

"No. I don't." he said. "Where is it?"

"That's the idea, Ron." She explained. "You didn't know how much massaging and tubes of Scar-Zone it took to get rid of it."

"Oh."

"You didn't expect me to cheerlead with Ayer's Rock on my belly, do you?" she said. "Bonnie wouldn't let me hear the end of it!"

"I thought your relationship with Bonnie was improving," he felt a kink form in his eyebrow, "unless of course, you were lying."

"It is," she nodded, "but we give each other cheap shots now and again for laughs. Like about a week ago, she bought those onyx stiletto boots I irked you about. Her first steps in them were like a sloshed-out drunkard, and she fell on her face not long after. I told her that those heels were too high for her, but she said I was jealous that I couldn't fit in them. I thought she called me Bigfoot but I didn't care to remember."

"That's mean." He said.

"Well, I'm a size bigger than she is."

"Oh."

"Don't worry about Bonnie." She said. "We're getting along fine. She's on a little road trip right now, last I checked."

"How's Tara doing?"

"Not sure exactly." She said. "Probably mastering the stick-shift in her dad's pick-up truck. What a piece of junk that thing is. Amazing it still runs!"

"I thought she'd be with that Korean kid we met back on Escutcheon."

"Yeah, she's with him too." She added. "Those two maybe Christian, but they can't seem to keep their hands off each other. Every time I see them, I catch them in the middle of a make-out session when they're not practicing that Tae Kwon Do stuff."

"Tae Kwon Do?" he blinked. "I thought he studied Hapkido."

"Is there a difference?"

"How should I know?" He shrugged. "They're both Korean, both deadly, and that's good enough for me."

"Yeah." She said. "I think it's amazing how he got off the hook that easily."

"Yep."

"Listen Ron," she said, "it's about 10:30 and we got to get to bed. Our flight back to Middleton leaves about 10-sharp."

"Right." He nodded. "The alarm clock set?"

"For 5:45AM." She continued. "Did you pack everything?"

"Yeah." He said. "Everything but these pajamas and tomorrow's attire."

"Great, 'cause we're leaving at 6 o'clock on the dot."

"What about taking an hour for your hair?" he snickered.

"I do not take an hour!" she said.

"Do too!"

"Not!"

"Too!"

"Not!"

"Too times infinity!" he laughed. No one can beat "times infinity".

"Not times infinity," she exclaimed, "plus one!"

"Aw man!" he moaned. Ron Stoppable floored yet again for the billionth time.

***

The flight back to Middleton was a smooth one. Kim easily returned the rental car back to the Hertz dealership while Ron checked their bags. Thankfully they only carried carry-on sized bags, deflated to half their size with the space saver bags. Measly security had no problem with their luggage, though they did have their hands full with the traveling hunter behind them with his rifle case in hand. She saw the hunter again while they boarded the Boeing, defeated and mumbling under his breath that security had to confiscate his rounds regardless of all the rules he followed to a tee.

"Make sure you bring an accurate rifle, my friend." He mumbled to his friend a person behind. She couldn't help but snigger.

Through the typical hustle and bustle of the Middleton Airport, she and Ron managed to squeeze their way to the carpool with carry-on baggage wheeling behind. The many lanes of the pools were congested with the daily traffic, people arriving and departing, meeting themselves coming and going at an announcement's notice. She wasn't sure, but she thought her eyes caught a fleeting glimpse of the frizzy, broad ponytail bouncing its way toward a gate.

*Oh yeah. Monique is leaving for St. Croix today. Duh! *

"Do you see the Jaguar, Ron?" the ridge of her hand met the bottom of her crown, a makeshift sun visor. "You know, the one you 'punched a hole' in?"

"For the last time Kim," he growled beside her, "I didn't punch that hole!"

"Yeah, I know those 'Beebe' robots did the damage, but it's still fun watching you squirm about it."

"I'm your distraction, your suspect, and your emotional punching bag." His head shook out of the corner of her searching eyes. "I'm Ron Stoppable, and I can do anything!"

She laughed. "Ha-ha.! Of course you're not, you're my best friend."

"Then why am I your distraction then?" he pressed.

"Ron, let's face It." She said. "Your combat skills and overall sneakiness are sorely lacking. Do you honestly think that you can sneak past Shego-and-company during a shit storm?"

"No, but and neither can you 'cause you wouldn't have me floundering like a red herring all the time." He argued gently.

"Hmm." she pondered aloud, "this is true."

"See," he said lively, "this is why you need me. I got your back."

"I never said that I didn't need you, Ron." She said. "And I'm not exactly the type who can steal the scene like you do."

"Oh."

Through several rows of clogged traffic, a glint of golden brown caught her eye dead on. From the angle, she could make out a sliver glint alongside it, its shape ovoid like the grill at the front.

"I think I see them, Ron." She pointed at the glaring dot, blinding her. "Way out in the last row. Do you see them?"

"Yeah." he said in a quiet drawl, picking up the pace a moment later, "--I do. Man, they're way out there too."

"Not surprising, given the traffic. Come on." She dropped a few inches when she stepped off of the curb. The baggage waggled in her hand, and she heard the plastic wheels smack onto the pavement. "Let's not make them wait any longer."

"I hear that!"

The blaring horns and screeching tires rang out at them like a manic- depressive choir as they made for the blinding glint in the distance, squeezing through tiny crevices between parked cars and speeding through open spaces. She smiled inwardly as the last median seemingly passed under her. It was like she was in a living game of Frogger.

*Except I won't re-spawn if I bought the farm.*

"Hello family!" she grinned when the whole glint took a solid shape, the shape of the family golden-brown Jaguar.

The passenger clunked as it popped open. Underneath the foil piece a pair of feet touched down upon the smooth pavement, adorned with purple pumps with the heels about an inch high. Folding out from behind the door came the tall, slender woman that she called her mother, with the same bright orange hair capping her head.

"Kimmie!" the woman called. She could just barely hear over the noisy rolling of her bag wheels. "Over here!"

"I see you, Mom!" she slowed her pace to a steady walk. "I'm coming."

"And me too!" Ron called from behind as she approached the sedan. The trunk released with a *pop*, quickly silenced by the rolling of the bag wheels as she rolled it over to the back of the car. The foil piece opened wide for her, and she tossed the bag in with a huff, slamming the lid closed after Ron threw his carrier in alongside.

"It's great to have you home again." Her mother threw her slender arms around her body. "It gets lonely around here without you."

She returned the embrace, placing the palms of her hands upon the woman's back, pressing into the firm cloth. "So not the drama, Mom." She said. "You got the tweebs, you know."

"Yeah," she laughed, "When they're not trashing the house or blowing something up in the yard."

"So what's the sitch?" she asked. "Where are Dad and the Tweebs?"

"Dad's stuck at work and your brothers are at a friend's." the woman explained. "I bet you two are hungry, right? I haven't eaten since last night."

"Food?" the blond interjected. "You bet I can! That slab the airline called a steak was terrible."

"As you can see," she giggled, "Ron's undecided but I can go for some takeout."

"Oh--" the boy said, "six tacos and a burrito at Bueno Nacho for only four bucks!"

"I think Ron would like Chinese," she smirked playfully at the blond, frowning and dropping his gaze to the cement, "don't you agree, Mom?"

"I think he does too!" she grinned as she climbed back into the passenger seat. "Well I guess that settles it then. Care to take the wheel, Kim?"

"Pf." she said dismissively, "after a week in that car you just had to pick out? No thanks!"

"Aw." she climbed awkwardly over the center console, almost crawling on it like a baby, "I think you look cute in the Taurus."

"In that granny car?" her body folded into the passenger seat, guiding the door back into the frame strongly-yet-gently. Her dad always threw a fit every timed she slammed the door. "Please."

"The Ford wasn't so bad, was it?" the woman pinched the key, and six cylinders yelled at her heatedly with a brief vroom at the twist of her wrist. "At least it wasn't a Mercury."

"I wanted a Mustang." Her voice was drowned out as the back door slammed back into the frame. The car wobbled gently as the boy shuffled his rump to the middle. "Ron!" she said loudly. "Don't slam the door."

"I told you all the sports cars available were standard." The sound of air being squished out met her ears, and something in the car's inner workings made a faint *clunk* when the woman jiggled the shifter down a few notches. The car began to slowly creep out into the lane. "I seen the way you work a stick, Kim. You still got a heavy foot."

"Do not--!"

--*KA--BOOM!! *

Her hands clapped over her ears tightly, clamping her eyes shut as pain wrapped tightly around her brain. The tires let out a quick, whining screech that only tightened the squeeze. She felt the seat beneath her shift to the right as her body wrenched to the left violently, and the car wobbled as if something behind her toppled over. Her hair wisped against her mother's clothes before the piece of machinery stopped completely.

"Ugh." she poked a finger in her ear, wincing slightly as she wiggled it about. She pulled the digit out and brought it over to her opening eyes. Thankfully, they didn't catch the finger with red. "Everyone okay?"

"Yeah." Ron moaned from behind. and below. She pressed her palm to her crown, turning her head toward the left shoulder. On the uneven floor laid the blond, capsized with his right arm wrapped haphazardly around his chest, pinched between the floor and his torso. "Everything's sore, but it isn't broken."

She pulled her eyes away from him and trained them on her mother. The purple-clad woman sat tensely, eyes wide open with her fingers strangling the leather of the wheel, and both her legs flexed.

"You okay, Mom?" she asked.

The woman closed her eyes slowly, taking in a long deep breath and gradually letting it out.

"Yeah, I'm fine." The mother blinked. Taking her time, she jittered the shifter back to the top. "A little rattled though. Give me a few minutes. Can't drive on pins and needles."

"What the heck happened?" she gazed her window. Running through the glass were cracks, heavily concentrated at the back and sprawling distantly out to the windshield. She touched the pads of her fingertips to the window, feeling the undulation as they ran across its surface. "Did a plane explode or something--!"

Through the web-like glass, she caught the blackness of the rearview mirror. The glass wasn't punched out. But the thick darkness seemed to swirl and morph in itself, shifting its shade from black to gray every few seconds, seemingly subjugated by the wind like smoke. a very black smoke.

*Oh my God!! *

The horrible screams began..