Author: The Humbug
Disclaimer: "Kim Possible" and all characters within © The Walt Disney Company and its related entities. Kim Possible created by Mark McCorkle & Bob Schooley. All rights reserved. No profit is being collected from the fiction contained within. You can blame the rest on me.
Rating: Rated-PG for combat violence and intimations of a physical relationship and intimate contact between consenting adult females, also some slightly harsh language. If this will offend you, please read something else.
Summary: Being the second story in my 'Sister's Saga', this is a sequel to 'The Bestest Little Girl In The World' and you MUST read that first to understand the relationships here. Shego and Kim are sisters, not lovers; there is a little 'What If?' here but not too much. In this story, Shego has just graduated from State University with a bachelor's degree and Kim has just graduated from Middleton High School.
Chapter the Third / Setting Up Shop
"'Three Hot Chicks'?"
"No, that sounds like we're running an adult Internet site!"
"And you'd know that how?"
"I plead the Fifth Amendment."
"'Heroes For Hire'?"
"You frighten me, Spooky. You read way too many comics as a kid."
"They were graphic novels!"
"Besides, Shego, it's also copyrighted."
"Too old school, and it's copyrighted, and we don't know anyone named Charlie."
"Moving right along; how about 'Lesbians In Tight Clothing'?"
"Hey! I'm not a lesbian!"
"Trust me, Kimmie, you'll get more boyfriends that way."
As it happened, their clothing was rather tight at that, though still fetching in an 'Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.' sort of way. Betty had created a form-fitting outfit that looked the most regimental and militant of the three, while Kim was wearing her black crop top and loose cargo pants. Shego had opted for a sleek one piece overall garishly colored in a 'dazzle' pattern of green and black.
"Ok, then, how about 'Kim, Betty and the Bitch'?"
"No, I like 'Shego, Betty and the redheaded fat girl.'"
"Oh, yeah, how about 'Ghostbusters'? Guess what that makes you?"
"GIRLS! This is getting us nowhere and besides, Kimmie, that last one is copyrighted, also."
"More boyfriends, huh? Hmmm."
The last month had been invested into turning the dream into a reality, and that road had been rife with potholes.
Finding a place to stay for Betty and Shego had the simplest task so far. Politely declining the sincere offer from the Possibles to stay with them for as long as they wanted, the girls both agreed that it would be much too awkward to live with Shego's parents and change the life they had become accustomed to. They were a couple already, regardless of legal standing, and were eager to resume their amorous activities, but only somewhere private.
Kim herself had provided the solution to two challenges; she had approached the mayor of Middleton and was readily granted one of Drakken's many abandoned sites, this one being several miles outside of town and totally stripped of anything deadly or nefarious. There were, as Kim had postulated, already viable sources of power and water and drainage to the sewer systems, and the habitation dormitories of the lair proved as suitable for the new Team Possible as they apparently had for the former henchmen who previously occupied them.
The property was theirs and the Town of Middleton would pay the utilities for the first year as gracious show of support from the town council to Team Possible, both old and current. The council was overjoyed when it was explained to them what the former lair would be used for; Middleton had been the setting for far too many of Drakken's schemes.
Kim wanted to stay at the lair also, and the older girls were quick to agree. The parents were not wholly comfortable with their younger daughter living in the lair with Shego and Betty, but after several assurances from both girls that they would behave like responsible adults, the Possibles relented. The work ahead would necessitate long hours and Kim felt that she needed to be on-site and close to the action until the time came for her leave for college.
"Welcome… to my secret underground lair!" It looked very strange to the three young women as they used the access code provided to them by the Middleton police department to gain access to the primary vehicle garage, Shego's tiny and battered Volkswagen being the only thing in the center of the vast space.
"Shego, it's hardly secret. Both our local and toll free numbers will be in the new phonebook next month."
"And it's not underground either, Spooky. It's covered by a fake layer of grass and trees to look like a hill."
"… well, throw me frick'n bone once in a while, why don't you!"
The central chamber was enormous and there were corridors leading off in many directions. In addition to living quarters and bathrooms there was a functional hanger, several small kitchenettes and one huge dining hall with full kitchen, a medical bay and exercise room, computer and communications suites and rooms and rooms for storage, laboratories and anything else that they could possibly think of.
This would be the new headquarters and home of Team Possible.
Computer resources and Internet access were limited to two desktop personal computers and the individual laptops of the three teammates. Medical supplies and first aid would be limited to whatever they could purchase from the local pharmacy or through medical supply houses, though Anne Possible proved invaluable for her advice. Transport was increased by two hundred percent when the VW 'bug' was joined by a panel truck that would be used mostly for hauling in equipment, and a rebuilt and slightly battered M1117 Guardian Armored Security Vehicle.
"Guys, is this thing legal to own privately?" Kim was inspecting the massive chassis while Betty inspected the engine and Shego pretended to know something about vehicle maintenance. "How did you even get this here? It looks like it's been through a war."
The older girls exchanged glances.
"Well, you see, Kimmie, it's like this…" Shego relinquished the floor to Betty.
"I, um, made certain connections during my military service that would prove helpful in obtaining certain, shall we say, resources that might well bolster our new enterprise."
"You mean you stole it?" It wasn't so much a question as a request for clarification.
"'Stole' is such a harsh word, Kim. I prefer to think of this former chariot as being 'previously owned by someone else', namely the Army, and the transfer of ownership being difficult to document. Can you live with that?"
"I don't know… this goes against the very thing we're hoping to stand against, doesn't it?" Kim was serious; she was young but not stupid, far from it. She knew the difference between bending the rules and breaking them and this seemed a little too much like the latter.
"Baby, it's been decommissioned. It's surplus now, and would have cost us an arm and a leg if we'd tried to buy it. It has seen its day and saved some lives and can still fight the good fight here on the home front."
"Plus, look here," Betty left the engine to indicate several brackets and bolts along the top and sides. "Even though the armaments have been removed, the armor is still first rate. It may not be the 'Mach V' but for around the tri-city area, we'll be Hell on wheels."
Only after a promise was given to teach the petite redhead how to drive the massive beast was she willing to overlook the indiscretion. This was actually a compromise; Kim had wanted to be the one to choose the color for its new paint job and name.
"Hot pink, and we'll call it the 'Kimminator'!"
"Doy! We'll paint it green and black and it will be the 'Shegonator!"
"I'm going to go shoot myself. You girls do whatever you want."
Ultimately the color was matte black with an empty gray field on the hood and doors for the eventual logo. Huge and practically a void when the lights were down, all three agreed that it looked absolutely badical!
The most difficult part of the setup for the new team had been Kimmie's involvement. Shego would always be the over-protective big sister, but she had agreed that Kim would be an equal partner in the company. The problem arose from her status as a minor and the family's desire to see her attend college.
Both Shego and Betty were adamant that Kim's membership was contingent upon Kim's class attendance and GPA; she was more than welcome to go on large scale missions during breaks and local ones after classes, but her degree was essential. Very intelligent, Kim was confident that this would not present an obstacle, neither did her family; the young woman had already planned to attend State College of Middleton instead of the University like Shego had because of the distance.
Another sore point was that Kim's name wouldn't appear on any of the legal documents; being a minor meant that everything would be in the name of Sheila Gordon Possible and Betty Director until Kim was legally an adult. While only a small issue really, Kim required additional assurances that the older girls were not trying to shut her out, even more so that the issue of her college education.
"You promise that I'll really be a member of Team Possible, right?"
She had been close to tears that afternoon; it had been a particularly trying day for all of them and the last of the paperwork was being signed and notarized to get the business started. This had been about two weeks ago and Kim was feeling in danger of being left out.
"Kimmie, you ARE Team Possible! This is just until you're of legal age and then we'll have the new papers drawn up immediately. No one in this room knows more than you what the state of organized crime is like around here."
"We promise. Believe me, I've seen your sister's reports of your abilities in the field, plus the press videos of the battles you've had. There's no way that we'd ever let you slip through our fingers. I have a lot to learn about fighting super-powered weirdo's and there will be no better teacher than you."
"Ok… if you promise." The eyes didn't look as wet anymore but the beginning of a pout was on the horizon.
"Yeah, we swear." Shego winked at Betty in a way that the older girl knew could not mean anything good. "This place is so huge that we'll always be needing people to clean and dust and HEY!" Kim was already up and running across the top of the table at her sister. Betty had to ultimately get a handgun from the weapons locker and fire a round through the ceiling before she could get their attention.
Other than make their preparations and get the headquarters ready for use, what few spare moments weren't necessary for sleeping or eating was invested in working out and training. They were each excellent at hand to hand combat and several styles of martial arms, with Kim being better at accuracy and speed while Shego was better at endurance and strength and Betty was a happy medium of the two, as well as being an expert marksman.
Throw Shego's plasma in for good measure and they believed that nothing could stand against them.
The girls had been working harder than they ever had in their lives, both in body and in mind, to make their dream a reality. Tempers would occasionally flare and each was feeling the stress in their own way. They were desperate to prove to themselves and the world that they could create something good and right, but what they really needed was to get out and actually DO something instead of planning for it.
The fact that they cared deeply for each other and that they already thought of themselves as an extended family helped immensely, and for the most part they had been able to agree to every aspect and facet of their joint endeavor.
Except for the right name.
"Ok, let's focus, shall we?" Betty was leaning as far back as her chair would go, head flopped back and neck limp, slowly turning her chair around and around with idle motions of her feet. "We're an independent contractor for security and public safety. The name that we chose has to define that purpose."
"Yeah, we fight bad guys and give them to the police!" Kim had brought her grappling hook gun to the lair and was firing the hook at stacks of empty crates for target practice after having removed the tether.
"Leave it to Kimber-dweeb to be eloquent as always."
"So… let's pick a name that describes what we do."
"Oh, I know! The 'Justice League'!"
"Kimmie, you really want us to get sued, don't you?" Shego had taken her massive length of black hair and had combed it down evenly from the crown of her head, either looking like Cher on a bad day or 'Cousin Itt' on a good day; this was so that no one would notice if she were to nod off to sleep during the discussion.
"Shego, she's got something with the 'justice' part. I'm calling a vote and remember that it must be unanimous." Betty took a breath and leaned over the broad table. "All in favor of using the word 'justice' in the name, say 'aye'."
"Aye! Halleluiah, the 'ayes' have it." Betty was relieved that it only took two hours to reach the halfway point of establishing a name; maybe the second half would be easier. "Now we just have to establish a scale."
"Yeah, scale; are we going to be 'Justice Inc.' or 'Justice Ltd.'…?"
"How about 'Justice For All'?"
"Damn, that's a good one." Shego reached out to bump fists with her little sister.
"You know what would make this discussion easier? Beer."
"All those in favor, say 'aye'."
"No! It's too early in the day and we have much to do and Kim's not of legal drinking age."
"How about 'Shego, Kim, and the Buzzkiller'?"
"Oh! Is it too late to change my vote to 'Josie And The Pussycats'?"
Betty Director was at her wit's end. Between the hard work and thought and keeping the Possibles in line and seriously focused or preventing them from tearing each other apart when tension ran high, she was no longer in the mood for shenanigans.
"GHAA! WE ARE NOT A BAND, AND IT'S COPYRIGHTED AND I AM NOT A BUZZKILLER!" She raised her fists and slammed them down on the table. "If we ever hope to create an agency that is respected for dispensing justice on a global scale, then we had DAMN WELL BETTER ACT LIKE PROFESSIONALS!"
"She's very excitable, isn't she?"
"I certainly hope that you're not going to act like that around our child, are you?"
"You two can officially kiss my ass for the next five minutes!" Betty swiveled her chair away from the table and allowed herself the time to calm down and control her temper. The girls were just kidding her, she knew, but if they didn't get out and ply their new trade they would never have the chance to get noticed.
Kim sighed and looked to her older sister.
"Sheg, Betty said 'global' a moment ago. That covers the idea of scale, doesn't it?"
"It does, pretty much as big a scale as we could ever hope for." Shego quietly rolled her chair around the table to be closer to the fuming woman. "Baby, we're sorry. We're just bored, that's all."
Betty's reply was to glance at her watch; four minutes remained. Shego knew better than to push her partner when she was angry; she shrugged to her sister and with two minutes remaining, Kim called a vote of her own.
"All those in favor of the name 'Global Justice', say 'aye'."
With over a minute left, Betty turned around to face them.
"Aye. I'm sorry I blew up like that. I'm going to go nuts if we don't get out of here." She sighed and looked around the cavernous space. "Kimmie, how do you normally receive notifications that there's a crime or disaster in progress?"
"Well, there are a couple of ways. I used to subscribe to 'friendfoe-dot-net' but their system frequently shuts down so the notification and private message services were very sporadic. I can't rely on them."
"Yeah, I remember. 'FF-dot-net' can be a real pain that way." Shego readily agreed.
"Note to selves; we'll get our own web site and have someone manage it for us from here. Otherwise, what else is there?"
"Shego and I used to get calls from friends and other local folks if the action was going on in Middleton, Upperton or Lowerton." She whipped out her cell phone. "I've always called mine the 'Kimmunicator' and Spooky's is the 'Shegophone'."
"You two are wack. But that's why I love you." Betty was smiling at Shego and the tall pale girl returned the smile, but Kim looked a little uncomfortable at the remark.
"Beyond that, I'd either catch events on the news or turn on the scanner at home to listen to the police and rescue frequencies."
Betty looked thoughtful, her eyes slightly glazed. With a snap of her fingers, she stood and walked down the length of the chamber to the parked 'ASV'. The Possible girls glanced at each other and followed her.
"This thing still has its original radio, complete with broadcasting capabilities. Until we outfit ourselves with the necessary communications technology, we can use this." They all climbed in and let the huge machine idle, the ventilation system preventing the exhaust from accumulating. The radio buzzed and popped and they adjusted the tuning to monitor for any activity that might let them get out of this hole and onto the streets.
Ironically that didn't have long to wait; a local news report brought them all to attention and made the frustration of weeks of hard labor fade away in a heartbeat.
"They said that the Bueno Nacho is being robbed!"
"Yeah! 'Gunman with hostages'! Spank'n!"
"Mm, and we haven't had lunch yet. Punch it, Shego!"
The engine of the beast was revved to life and the wheels gripped the slab beneath as they turned towards the camouflaged door to the lair and drove towards it at full speed. The cavern was so large and they had been parked so deeply into it that they had plenty of time to build up a good head of steam. It was also fortunate that this meant plenty of room to hit the breaks and skid to a stop.
Kim climbed out and ran over to the manual control button on the wall.
"Note to selves; get a damn automatic door opener for emergencies! This is stupid having to open and close the damn door ourselves!" Once clear of the egress, Kim closed the hidden doorway and climbed back in the vehicle. Even though they barely crested 60 MPH, it felt as if they were driving a building and that nothing could stop them.
"Kimmie, please! This is serious and we should be in a serious frame of mind! There are lives in danger, and we…"
"Uh, Betty, that wasn't me."
"… sorry, sweetheart…"
Betty was right; their chariot definitely was NOT the 'Mach V' but they arrived at the center of town soon enough. The entire police force of Middleton had formed a barricade around the tiny sombrero-shaped building, and more than a few state troopers were on the scene as well. If there were hostages inside, it might not be too long before the Feds also sent a negotiator; the girls couldn't see anyone that looked quite that official. The 'ASV' ground to a halt well beyond the action and the three huddled for a last minute briefing.
"Betty, you're taking the front and Kimmie and I will go in the back entrance. You stay nice and visible out in front and pretend to be a negotiator for the hostages."
"Got it. I'll keep them talking and you get those people out." They both looked to Kim. "Your primary task will be to lead the people out of there; don't argue because that's the most important task here, right?" Kim nodded and raised her thumb in acknowledgement; this wasn't her first barbeque.
"Now we just have to get past them…" Betty pointed at all the police. They left their vehicle behind and confidently walked closer to the barricade.
"Leave that to me. I've worked alongside most of these folks for the past three years at one time or another."
Kim took the lead and the older girls let her, agreeing in the personal assessment of her chances. They had just left the closest knot of onlookers when a young police officer noticed their proximity and moved forward to stave them off. He was very young and his features were dark and initially unfriendly but his eyes widened and he seemed more relaxed when he was finally close enough to speak to them.
"Kim! Hi! And I guess that this is Shego?" Kim motioned to her partners that the sitch was under control and they converged on the young officer.
"Hi, Will. Shego, Betty, this is Officer Du, just late of the Middleton Police Academy." The officer was not much older than Kim and the way that he was looking at the young redhead made it pretty obvious that he was eager to please. The older girls returned the greeting and the three let Will give them the particulars.
"Adult male, arrived two point five hours ago, entered and was seen arguing with the manager; the manager was heard yelling that the man was brandishing a handgun, at which point several patrons and employees ran out of the building. We've had no communication with the subject and no one has approached the building." Officer Du looked through the barricade and past the other anxious members of law enforcement.
"If the guy shows his head, he'll be lucky if someone doesn't blow it off."
All eyes turned to the lanky young man that was running towards them. Betty was bemused to see that this tall, blond and freckled newcomer was wearing what appeared to be the male-cut version of Kim's own mission outfit. He ran right up to them and Kim greeted him warmly and even Shego smiled a little.
"Oh, this is great! I'd hoped that you'd be here, KP!" The boy looked to Shego and nodded. "Hey, Shego! You look good! KP told me you got back in town a few weeks ago. You planning to stay?"
"Yeah, Ron, I am. Look, I suppose you realize that we're here to do the old 'Team Possible' thing, and Kimmie and I would appreciate it if you'd stick around to help coordinate our actions with Office Du and his pals. Will you do that for us?"
"Yeah, sure!" He blushed a little and kept glancing over at Kim, who in turn was shyly avoiding direct eye contact with the boy. Will Du seemed impatient for Ron to leave and was also doing his best to get Kim to notice him. There was a simple plan discussed and the five broke apart, but not before Shego could snag Ron's attention.
"Say, Ron, I've been meaning to thank you for the years that I was in college and you worked with Kimmie to keep Team Possible alive."
"No big; we looked out for each other, you know?"
"I know that you and Kim have been friends forever and that you and I never really got along, but… but you always had her back when you worked together and I'll never forget that." She reached out and gripped his shoulder. "Thanks. I really mean it."
Tall as he was, Ron seemed to grow taller with those words.
"I have big plans for the Team and I'd like you to meet with us something soon. Interested?"
"Well, yeah! Thanks!" He looked back to where Betty was reviewing the finer points of their plan with Kim. "I'd really like to, um… I'd like that, sure." He jogged away in the general direction of Officer Du. She walked over to where Betty and Kim were waiting for her.
"So here's the plan, one more time; I make a big show of talking to the police, something that the gunman will surely notice and hold his attention. You and Kim go around back and enter via the rear door, getting any hostages you find out quietly, and then subdue the gunman." Betty saw that they all understood and agreed to the plan. "Shego, you give me a plasma flash as a sign that it's all clear; I'll advise the police not to fire or anything when you come out."
Promising to wait for her sister before taking action, Kim moved off towards the rear of Bueno Nacho. Betty held Shego back and gave her a hug.
"Betty! Not in public, please!"
"I love it when you blush. You turn a really pretty color of green!"
"Ghaa! I swear that we'll make it publicly known one day, but not right now, Ok?"
"Sure, baby, I understand." The auburn haired woman grinned. "Kimmie sure doesn't seem to mind the attention. How many boyfriends does she have?"
"Please don't let her know that I told you, but none, to be honest. She met Officer Du a while back when he started at the police academy and she's known Ron forever. She's so cute and nice and everyone loves her, but she usually doesn't move beyond friendship." The emerald eyes were slightly downcast and Betty noticed.
"Is that a problem?"
"That everybody loves… her?"
"What? No! She's the greatest and she can do anything; she's a hero. Why shouldn't everyone love her?" Shego shrugged. "I'm not jealous, if that's what you're asking!"
"Not even a little? Not of Kimmie, so much, but of the glory?"
"Well… maybe a little. She's never, and I mean NEVER said or done anything to draw more attention to her. She just glows, is all; she shines with this perfection that everyone loves and wants to be near. I love her too; she's my dear one and has always been the most important thing in my life." Shego gave her life-mate a meaningful look.
"She always will be. Can you accept that?"
"I think I can. I love her already and she'll always be a part of our family." She held the green and black clad woman even tighter. "But these are your people, 'Spooky'! This is your home town and you're about to show them exactly what Team Possible is made of!"
Shego appreciated the fact that her lover understood the feelings of alienation the pale green woman had felt throughout her life. Betty didn't release her until they were almost to the growing crowd of people, and not until she whispered one more thing into Shego's ear.
"Baby, together we're going to make the world love you!"
As the plan had dictated, Shego did not join Betty at the impromptu command center directly in front of the windows. She slipped through the crowd and would join Kim at the back of the building. Betty saw Will and Ron talking to the Sheriff of Middleton, a slender man with light brown hair and a high forehead above a pair of eyes that probably did his smiling for him, at least when the situation called for smiling.
Right now the man's entire face was set hard and determined. Will Du made the introductions.
"Betty, I was just informing Sheriff Murphy that you are affiliated with Team Possible and I also told him about your plan to enter the building." Murphy stepped forward and took her hand.
"Glad that you folks are here. I'm new to the area but I've already worked with Team Possible before. Those two saved my bacon a few years ago when my partner and I found ourselves in dire straights."
"Here in Middleton?" Betty wanted to keep talking to this man because it was a part of the plan to distract the gunman inside, but she was also intrigued. Shego had shared some fantastic stories with her and they were always getting cards and emails from grateful folks that Team Possible had saved in the past.
"No, that was back in Detroit; major corruption and scandal between the city government and a huge development and technology contractor, also some pretty major drug manufacturing and distribution. My partner and I were ambushed by some thugs while we were investigating some activity out at an old industrial site; Lewis was safe enough but they were about to blow me away when Shego and Kim showed up." He paused to give some instructions to his officers and he watched them move off to comply before continuing.
"They were apparently on the trail of some guy named Lipsky that may have been involved at some level of the corruption, but I'd never heard his name come up. Doesn't matter, though." He met Betty's gaze and his eyes did smile, albeit briefly.
"I wouldn't be the man I am today if not for those two."
"And your partner?"
"Lewis? She quit the force and got married, had a couple of kids. Good for her, I say. My wife and I brought our son here to raise him far away from that sort of garbage." They became quiet, each focusing on the sitch at hand, Betty once again thinking of the family that she and Shego hoped to have one day. Her ruminations were cut short when she realized that the Sheriff had asked her a question.
"I beg your pardon?"
"There's a rumor that you three are starting your own business; something about security?"
"We certainly hope to make a name for ourselves, sir."
He nodded and looked back to the center of attention for his entire force.
"Hell of a day for this, that's for sure."
The back door of the Bueno Nacho was flanked by a corral for storing waste and an outdoor freezer for perishable foodstuffs. There were no windows at the back and the crowd had been so dense that both Kim and Shego had been able to get to the rear door unseen; there was no way that anyone looking out of the huge plate glass windows would see anything but police cars and officers and guns.
"You got it?" Shego kept away from the door so as not to block the light and hinder Kim's progress. The petite redhead was worrying the lock of the rear door with a straightened piece of wire and a picking rake that she always kept on her person.
Kim was very focused on the task at hand, feeling her way into the lock and gently aligning the tumblers. She held her breath until they both heard and Kim felt the metal knob turn under the constant pressure from her palm. She grinned up at her big sister and shifted away from where she had been kneeling at the door. Now was the time for stealth and she whispered, not daring to speak out loud.
"It's all in the wrist!"
"Kimmie, you've got to teach me that some day!" Shego whispered in reply and tousled the younger girl's hair. They gently pulled the door open, just wide enough to admit their slender forms but no unwanted light or noise from the outside.
The back storage area was clean and neat, no one and nothing where it should not be. Moving forward, as silent as Ninjas, they found the kitchen area to be equally tidy. Shego gave a few signals to Kim that they should separate before moving off to the service counter and Kim towards the manager's office.
They were facing each other minutes later, having been unsuccessful in locating any hostages. Brows furrowed in puzzlement, they crept to the dining area of the Mexican restaurant, looking into every corner and under every table and still finding nothing out of place. They were standing with their backs to the counter, staring out at the crowd of police and civilians and watching Betty doing her pantomime with Sheriff Murphy when they heard a tiny noise behind them.
It was from the kitchen area, where they had already searched. Turning around and seeing that there was still no sign of danger, they carefully moved back to the stainless steel counter tops and cabinets and sinks. Trays, cutlery and ovens were all orderly and clean, just waiting for the lunch rush, the metal surfaces of the stoves making a gentle ticking sounds as they cooled.
"Kimmie?" The word was barely spoken, almost a breath of air.
"Why is everything so clean? This was open and busy when this happened, right?" Both girls glanced around at the spotless perfection of the fast food restaurant.
"Yeah, this place should be ass-deep in meat and cheese and grease right about now."
"Yes, Daddy!" Spoken as quietly as possible so as not to alert anyone, the interior of the place was as quiet as the grave. That made the metallic crash from the rack behind them all the more startling.
An entire metal rack of kitchen tools and pots leaned forward unexpectedly and fell forward to the tiled floor, scattering shiny objects in all directions and revealing a thin bespectacled man wearing what appeared to be the uniform of a Bueno Nacho employee. The girls both knew this man and had seen him in this very establishment for years.
"Ned! Get down!" Shego spun around to cover her sister as Kim grabbed the hiding man and propelled him towards the rear door, firing questions at him all the way.
"Where is everyone else?"
"Where is he? Where is the gunman?"
The skinny man was stumbling as Kim dragged him through the kitchen, her job made all the more difficult because he was fighting her all the way; she assumed that this must be a stress reaction. She still pressed him for information; her sister was still inside and plasma or no plasma, Shego could be in danger.
"Ned, please! Where is the gunman and where are hostages?"
"THERE ARE NO HOSTAGES!"
Kim stopped just at the metal door, holding the man up against the back wall. He was shaking by now, beads of sweat mixing with what certainly looked like tears.
"What? What are you talking about?"
"There are no hostages, there never were, it's not my fault and I DIDN'T DO ANYTHING WRONG!" One quivering hand removed his glasses while he wiped at his face, hardly able to breathe. Kim turned away and gave yet another visual inspection to the area in back; just as before, this certainly didn't look like a hostage situation.
Keeping her hands on Ned, mostly to avoid letting him fall over, she called out.
"Shego? You'd better get back here!" Her sister joined her in a few heartbeats.
"Kim, what's with the yelling?"
"He says that there are no hostages." Unable to verbally support the redhead, the man simply nodded, wheezing.
"None?" The narrow head shook a negative to the taller woman.
"You're sure?" Nodding again, less wheezing this time and more color rising back into his face.
"Was there ever a gun?"
He nodded and pointed to the drawer of the manager's desk in the tiny cubicle just off to the right of where they stood. Leaving Kim to hold the man upright, Shego walked over and tugged the drawer open; sure enough, there was a handgun, a simple revolver of what looked like a .38 caliber resting next to paperclips and a few pens that were missing their caps. Leaving the gun in the drawer, Shego walked back to the others.
"Ned, what's going on here?"
"I swear that I didn't do anything wrong! I never stole any money or food or anything!"
With a shared glance, the girls led the skinny man to the front of the serving area and lifted him bodily up to sit on the counter. Kim dispensed a small cup of soda while Shego let him calm down some more.
"Ned, please tell us what happened. Take it slow and don't leave out any details."
"Some… some big corporation just bought up all of the local franchises of Bueno Nacho and moved their own staff and managers in. Everyone else was offered transfers to stores outside of the area." He took a long swallow of the soda. "This is a fast food place, for crying out loud; no one gets offered a pay raise to transfer in the fast food business!"
"Good, good… so then what happened?"
"I didn't want to go and I guess that my employment record was too good for them to outright fire me. Some pretty-boy named Eric was appointed manager and all of a sudden he was calling me into the office every other day with 'anonymous complaints' that I'd been seen stealing money from a register, or that I was taking food out to my car during breaks. I never did anything of the sort! Then this morning he just pulled me away from my place at the counter and he f-f-f-… he fired me!" The young man looked absolutely stricken.
Kim was leaning against the counter watching Shego's reactions to what they were hearing. Ned was always an odd guy; a loner and a bit of a nerd but they both felt that he was probably the best thing that could ever happen to a place like Bueno Nacho. He was a great employee and would probably have become a manager one day. Now he was a wreck and his world had ceased to have meaning. Shego didn't understand the sitch anymore now than when they first walked inside.
"Ok, we follow you so far. But what about the police report of a gunman? And what hostages were they talking about?"
"Well, after I heard the 'F-word', Eric reached into his pocket and said that he had my final paycheck. I was completely stunned; I guess that I would have held my hand out for a hot coal even if he'd told me that my hand would catch fire. What he handed to me sure wasn't a paycheck, it was that." Ned used his cup to gesture toward the open desk drawer.
"This Eric guy handed you a gun?"
"He actually put a gun in your hand?"
"Yeah." Ned looked sick. "I've never even seen a gun up close, let alone touched one. I just looked at it and wondered what I was going to do about my job when Eric yelled, 'He's got a gun!' and all heck broke loose!" The man began to wring his hands together. "I swear that I didn't know what was happening!"
"It's Ok, you're doing great. Now, you said that he gave you the gun, he yelled 'gun' and then everybody ran out?"
"There never were hostages?"
"No! Never! Everyone had already run outside before I could react; they were all screaming and yelling and I was too shocked to move. By the time I thought to do anything, there were a million cops outside and I knew that I was in deep trouble."
"And you've been in here alone all this time?"
"Yes. I, uh, cleaned the place and turned everything off." His eyes glazed over as he visualized the specific instructions in the Bueno Nacho Employee Handbook. "'In case of emergency, all appliances are to be deactivated to prevent fire.'"
"So why do the police think that there were hostages?"
"I don't know, unless that's what Eric told them…"
"Kimmie, Ned's dry; hit him again and get one for each of us, will you?" Shego moved closer to the glass of the main windows. "I'm going to give Betty the high sign." Cupping her hands, Shego generated a 'bubble' of plasma; lacking enough power to create a blast of force or flame, it dissolved quickly in her hands but not before flaring in a blossom of bright green light.
Peering out through the window to the crowd across the parking lot, she was relieved to see Betty react and begin speaking animatedly with Sheriff Murphy. Officer Du and Ron were standing with them and Shego watched as Murphy apparently instructed the young men to spread the word to 'stand down'; as they ran down the front line, the police officers were holstering their weapons and taking a more relaxed posture. Returning to the other two, Shego had some instructions for Kim.
"Baby, I'd like you to go out there and tell Betty that everything's Ok and that I'm just assuring the subject that he won't be hurt. Tell Murphy that the gun is secured and that we'll be out in a minute." She stroked the girl's cheek. "Will you do that for me?"
"Sure. When will we tell them what's really going on?"
"As soon as WE know what's going on, we'll tell them! This is weird, Kimmie, really weird. But we'll tell Betty as soon as we get out of here and head back to the base. In the meantime, I want to have a quick word with Ned." Kim nodded and they both turned to watch Ned, who was glancing around the abandoned restaurant like a lost child. She reached out and patted his knee, smiling at him when he looked at her.
"It'll be Ok, Ned, really. Just do whatever she says and we'll do what we can to make sure you don't get in trouble." Ned looked appreciative, even if less than fully confident. Kim left them and carefully walked out of the small building by the front door.
"She's right, Ned. I believe you and see no reason for you to tell us a story as crazy as this unless it were true. But the police aren't going to be so open minded… not without something to back up your story." Shego slid down from the counter and helped the shaking man down onto his feet; he was going into adrenaline withdrawal and wasn't as steady as he should have been.
"Will I have to go to jail?"
"Yes, I think you will, at least until we can get this sorted out. We'll convince Sheriff Murphy that you aren't a danger and that you should be kept away from anyone else. But I want you to listen to me; I promise that Team Possible will be making full reports to the police and Kimmie and I will tell them exactly what you told us. I promise you that we'll do all that we can to get you out of jail and back home as quickly as possible." Shego held onto the man's narrow shoulders and turned him around to face her.
"Sure, Ok." He looked crestfallen but resigned, patient if not hopeful.
"Then stand beside me and don't be afraid. We'll make sure that no one hurts you." Together they walked to the door and out into the parking lot.
"…and so ends the crisis today at the Bueno Nacho here in Middleton; the gunman is now in custody and there has been no loss of life. The patrons owe their safety, maybe even their very lives to this brave young man who was just appointed the manager a few days ago…"
"Senator, you should see this!"
The young man was severely dressed in a suit and tie with a shirt collar so pressed and tight that, if he turned his head too quickly, he might slit his throat. He had kept the hotel suite's television on while busily arranging the Senator's schedule for the rest of the week, only taking notice when he heard the name 'Middleton'.
"What? I'm in the can, here!" The voice was muffled and did happen to be coming from the general vicinity of the bathroom. "Trust me, you do NOT want me to open this door right now!"
Spence had turned up the volume and was absorbing the details of the news report so that he could appraise his employer when he left the bathroom and returned to their work of the Senator's schedule. It was several minutes before Spence heard the bathroom door open and his boss walked into the suite's living room area.
"Whoo! Do not, I repeat, do NOT go in that room for at least an hour."
Spence was well aware that when his boss made a statement like that, the man was serious. Not that the man didn't frequently play pranks on his aides and advisors; the Senator was renowned for his incredible sense of humor and playful spirit. The man had adamantly refused to grow up.
"Hey, Spency! You want a beer?" The suite had a fully stocked kitchenette and the refrigerator door was heard to open and close, the sound of bottles tinkling in the other room.
"No thank you, sir."
"Why not, it don't cost nothing…"
The Senator was wearing his favorite jeans and had left his shirt hanging out over his belt. The man was barefoot, not unusual when he was in for the night, and his five o'clock shadow made him look less like a U. S. Senator and more like an ex-football player gone to seed. In truth, the older man had once been athletic, but age and lifestyle had added pounds to his fireplug frame that made him appear soft. More than once the Senator had proven that he could still hold his own in a fight, much to the embarrassment of his fellow politicians and the delight of the Washington, DC press corps. His constituents absolutely loved him, and that alone kept him in office.
Well into middle age, the man would still occasionally try to out-fight, out-party or out-drink men less than half his age, and usually he won. The years and the loss of his beloved wife had made the eternal clown grow up a bit since he had left his college days behind him for the tawdry world of politics, but the man was a force of nature and nothing could slow him down.
When Senator John Blutarsky entered the living room area, he was dancing with two bottles of beer.
He held one bottle in each hand and was moving them back and forth, around and up and down and making them twist and sway to a tuneless song that he was humming, smiling down benevolently upon the glass containers as if he were angel in dire need of a shave. After making one bottle sweep it's 'partner' into a low dip, he clinked their necks together in a brief but passionate 'kiss' before gently setting one beer down beside the printed copies of his monthly agenda and smashing the other bottle on the edge of the table, effectively making the liquid inside more easily accessible.
Spence wished for the ten-thousandth time that he'd taken the job at the post office back home.
"You can have this one if you change your mind." The Senator slid the undamaged bottle closer to his assistant.
"No thank you, sir." Spence decided to draw the man's attention to the news on the television. "Senator, there's a news report of a disturbance in Middleton. A fast food restaurant was being robbed or something by an ex-employee."
"Middleton? Aren't we going there in a few days for a fundraiser?"
"We were, but in light of this, maybe we…"
"Spency, you worry too much." The man took a quick drink of beer and set the broken bottle down, gingerly picking a few stray bits of brown glass from his mouth. The beer would likely stay on the end table and become flat before he took his next drink; most of the Senator's drinking exploits were for show these days and years of over-indulgence had finally taught him that fat, drunk and stupid were no way to go through life.
"Now than, sir, there are few details about the Middleton visit that…"
"Hey, three hot chicks! Spency, turn up the sound!" Far too used to such exclamations than he would like to be, Spence increased the volume and looked to the TV to see what had drawn the Senator's attention. The video footage of the Bueno Nacho incident was running and in the background there were three oddly dressed women speaking to a very confused looking Sheriff.
"… integral in the apprehension of the suspect and assisting the local police in this matter was the newly reformed and expanded Team Possible."
The older man pointed to the television and nudged his assistant.
"I've heard of that one, the red headed one. She's as cute as a button and kick's major ass."
"Sir, I think that she's just graduated from high school."
"Spency, you are just no fun." John grinned.
"No sir." On the television, the video image shifted to show the rest of the Team.
"Hello, what have we here?"
"… beside the teen-hero Kim Possible are her older sister Shego Possible, whom viewers should remember as being the originator and co-member of Team Possible along with her younger sister, and they have been joined by Betty Director, new to the Team and certainly…"
The three girls had been in a deep discussion with Sheriff Murphy when the film was taken, hardly noticing the press until the Sheriff had moved off to have a word with his deputies about whatever he'd been told by Shego and Kim. The presence of the lights and the reporter had apparently gotten their attention because the redhead suddenly began mugging for the camera and held her hand over the head of the taller, pale girl in a familiar 'bunny ears' gesture.
No sooner had the pale woman turned and yelled at her sister than the auburn haired woman in the dark blue outfit grabbed the green and black clad girl in a tight hug. The camera clearly registered a deepening in the taller girls greenish skin tone and moments later she jumped as she'd been goosed.
"… reputable sources say that this reappearance of the upgraded Team Possible are due to a plan for these three to create a private security taskforce, based in Middleton, and likely continuing the world-saving, crime-fighting exploits made famous by the original founders. This reporter, for one, wishes them good fortune. This has been Margo Ogram reporting for WACK News at Five; back to you, Todd."
"Hey, I bet they're lesbians!"
"Sir?" The younger man reached out and turned the set off before there could be any further distractions.
"See those girls in the tight clothes? See how they're acting around each other, all huggy and kissy and stuff?" The older man waggled his dark eyebrows at his assistant.
"Sir, if you're using me to test some new verbiage on a speech about equal rights or same-sex marriage…"
"I am not talking to you any more." John shook his head in mild disgust.
"Thank you, sir. Now, about the visit to Middleton…"
"Here's what we'll do; you call the Middleton police and arrange to have this, uh, this Team Possible work with our own security detail. That way I'll get to meet them in person!" The Senator snagged his beer and toasted his excellent idea; it was still fresh.
"We can also arrange to stop by that Bueno Nacho and congratulate the manager for getting everyone out safe and sound."
"Sir, that's… actually a good idea. I'll make all of the calls first thing in the morning."
"You do that boy. Stick with me, kid, and there will be lesbians in tight clothing and Mexican food for everyone!"
Senator Blutarsky set the beer back down where it would remain untouched until Spence cleaned the room up after the older man went to bed. John glanced back to the desk of the hotel suite and gazed at the photograph of his late wife, almost able to hear her make fun of him for never outgrowing his juvenile college ways. If she had been here now, he'd have been joking right along with him over the 'lesbians and Mexican food' line.
"Yep, I suspect that Middleton will prove to be an interesting visit!"
WACK was a local station that served just the Middleton, Lowerton and Upperton cable markets, and wouldn't be seen outside of that general area. The video feed that was being displayed upon the enormous view screen now was being piped in from an old communications satellite that had been hijacked years ago. The room was dark and the face of the sole living occupant was starring at the screen fixedly, his features illuminated only by the shifting colors of the video picture. He was also watching the report about Bueno Nacho and the arrival of Team Possible.
"Eric, you have done well. Now that every Bueno Nacho in the area is staffed by only our people, we can set the trap."
The man hadn't turned his head or moved in any way, but another shape reacted to his voice and came closer. It was a tall young man, tanned and with stylishly arranged hair, hands clasped at his back and standing at ridged attention.
"Thank you. The interference by Team Possible was an unforeseen event."
"Hmm, maybe… but I believe that this will work to our advantage. When that buffoon Blutarsky stops for his fundraiser he will surely want to be seen with either you or, at least, the heroes that saved the day! It's too much of a 'photo-op' for any politician to pass up!"
The man's face appeared almost to be blue in the light radiating from the video screen. He pressed a button on a small remote control in his gloved hand and the screen deactivated. Another button caused the room to be filled with light.
His face was still blue.
"By the end of the week, I'll have a United States Senator under my complete control and will have rid myself of the meddlesome Team Possible forever!"
Next, the brain-curdling conclusion!
Author's Note: notes have been sparse this trip, but here's one; there were a lot of references made to the intellectual property of others so I must atone. Marvel Publishing Group owns 'Heroes For Hire' and 'S.H.I.E.L.D.', Aaron Spelling was the executive producer of 'Charlie's Angels', 'Ghostbusters' was written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, 'Justice League' is owned by DC Comics, 'Josey and the Pussycats' is owned by Hanna-Barbera, 'Cousin Itt' is the creation of Charles Addams, and the characters 'Murphy' and 'Lewis' were written by Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner but you'll have to figure out where they came from yourself. I'm too tired!
At the end of this chapter I reintroduced us to someone with whom many are well acquainted; I hope that no one minds seeing him in action again, even if in fiction and with my own personal twist. You will see him again in at least one other story of mine. The character was created either by John Landis, Harold Ramis, Douglas Kenney or Chris Miller.