CHAPTER 1: Gauntlets

"Kim!" The desperate shout echoed on the cavernous walls of the large military hangar, reaching the ears of the two fighters engaged in close quarters combat. While one reacted with wide eyed worry and made the mistake of turning her head towards the other side of the hangar, even if all the hardware stored in the building prevented her from finding out just what had caused her partner to call for her, the other took her chance to deliver a powerful kick that sent the distracted opponent crashing against the landing gear of a resting aircraft.

Panting, the one fighter still standing grinned devilishly as she looked at the form of her fallen foe, delighted at the way her rival struggled to get back on her feet after being struck with enough force to shatter normal human bones. Had the fallen fighter not been wearing the latest version of her supersuit, she wouldn't even be conscious to return the sadistic smile directed at her with an expression of grim hatred. As it was, the suit had absorbed enough of the kinetic energy to leave her merely stunned and out of breath.

"Aww. What's the matter, princess? Are you worried about your dopey boyfriend? It sounds like he couldn't even handle Drakken by himself. What a pity, he was showing so much potential for… well, reaching an average level of competence. What do you think happened this time? Oh, wouldn't it just be typical if he tripped with his own pants and got his head stuck on a spare tire? Or better yet, the tail end of a fighter plane? I don't think even Drakken would be oblivious enough to miss the chance of roasting that boob's head if it is stuck on a turbine."

As she mocked the girl's predicament, Shego was taking the chance to focus her energy in her gauntlets, the only alteration to her costume Shego had ever accepted from her boss. Of all the harebrained ideas Drakken had come up with to help Shego regain some advantage over Kim Possible's supersuit, Shego was delighted that the gauntlets proved to be one of the most reliable and useful.

Her initial skepticism at what Drakken had called her 'Early Christmas Gifts' had banished as soon as she had charged them up with her own power and fired a super-charged volley of plasma bursts at one of Drakken's many unfinished projects.

While Drakken would have normally shown self-righteous anger at having Shego blasting away the equipment in his lab with reckless abandon, both were so instantly delighted by the power boost the plasma condensers in the gauntlets had demonstrated that he immediately began to shake his fists in the air in glee and laughing maniacally as he asked Shego to 'Do it again!', a petition Shego gladly obeyed as she followed his example and laughed just as madly while opening fire at random directions.

Finally, after Drakken had allowed Shego to blast away more than a dozen of his lab projects (Some of which he was almost certain would have actually worked properly), both ended up so out of breath from their villainous laughter that they had to lean on each other and rest their foreheads on the shoulder of the their partner as they tried to catch their breath. They didn't move away from each other for a while, both villains being too happy by the results of the Gauntlets' improvised field test to become self-conscious of their proximity. When Drakken began to gloat right next to her ear about how his genius could surpass whatever gadget Kim Possible gained, Shego couldn't help but smile and languidly pat the Doctor in the back for a job well done.

Shego had received that fist version of the gauntlets six months ago, and since then Drakken had engaged in an armament escalation competition with the eggheads that kept 'updating' Possible's supersuit. The more powerful Kim's anti-plasma defenses became, the more the doctor had to improve the gauntlets. Going against the norm, Drakken was showing genuine competence in his efforts to improve Shego's firepower. The gantlets weren't prone to catastrophic failure or malfunction like many of his inventions and at this point the power the gauntlets managed to condensate was enough to at least pop the latest version of the suit's energy shield bubble and give Possible a very good reason to be wary of getting struck by a direct hit.

Along with the energy improvements, Drakken had been adding enough hidden compact gadgets to make a Swiss pocketknife look inefficient (Nothing Pan-Dimensional-Anything had been added yet, thankfully). While the addition of a mini stapler and dog whistle were more than questionable by Shego's standards, the fact that the Doctor had the initiative to add a detachable nail file along with the assorted thieving and spy tools she did request kept her from complaining too violently about the one thing that did bother her the most about the gauntlets.

While the Doctor had been conscious enough about Shego's personal tastes and stealth requirements to paint the gauntlets with a black matte finish and kept them lightweight and comfortable for her to wear, he had been unable to resist the impulse to add his own touch to the design by making sure that the gauntlets emitted a soft dark-blue glow between the seams in the metal plates whenever the cooling system engaged. An aesthetic detail which he told Shego couldn't be changed to make the gauntlets fully black and green.

This had led them to a heated, but childish, discussion about whether or not the blue glow negatively affected Shego's appearance. Because while Shego had to admit to herself that the dark blue glow was subtle enough to look menacing and not clash with her suit, she was quite certain there was nothing accidental about the fact the glow matched the doctor's clothes. As it often did the discussion eventually degenerated into an even more immature fight in which Shego tried to test the retractable claws in the finger tips of the gauntlets with Drakken's skin and the Doctor tried to keep her at bay using a chair to push her away and futilely brandishing a thick cable line as a whip. Had the two henchmen guarding the door of the lab not been already desensitized to the violent antics between the two villains, they could have made comparisons between the scene in front of them and the classic act of lion taming. If you ignored the fact the tamer was trying to appease the lion with offers of Cocoa-Moo and the lion was threatening the tamer with adding some green bruises to his face to 'compliment his appearance'.

But any other quick reminiscences for the villainess were cut short by an even more desperate repetition of Ron's call for help. Sounding so truly pained that Shego had to actually consider whether or not Drakken had actually injured the buffoon or if the Doc was in the process of torturing him.

"Kim! Kim! Hurry! Oh, please hurry! I don't know what to do! Help me, Kim!"

This time the scream immediately prompted Kim to stand back up on unsteady feet and look uncertainly back and forth between the direction from which Ron's voice was coming from and the more than terrifying magnitude of the plasma flames that had grown around Shego's fists. The heroine was trapped between her own desire to aid her partner and the knowledge that turning her back on Shego could result in her immediate combustion.

While Shego had nothing against the blonde idiot beyond the bad experience with The Atttitudinator and his interference in their plans, if Drakken had actually gotten the upper hand in a battle with the boy and provided her with a fair tactical advantage over her own opponent, there was nothing in her play book against taking this chance to beat Possible while her boyfriend pissed his pants.

Besides that, Shego knew Drakken well enough to know he wouldn't under normal circumstances inflict too much harm over a victim even at his full mercy. If there was one thing that certainly didn't influence Drew to become a villain, that's sadism. The mad scientist may be evil, enjoy destruction and rejoice in the defeat (most often than not merely temporal) of his enemies, but he didn't get a kick out of making others feel pain. Drakken wanted the thrill of victory over his enemies, not seeing them in physical pain without a purpose. Considering this, Shego was more than certain Stoppable was probably just screaming because Drakken had managed to tie him to a missile or something equally ridiculous. And with the doctor's luck, the missile probably didn't even have fuel in it.

"Oh, C'mon, Kimmie! Don't tell me you plan to just stand there. Isn't this the part where you should try to do one of your silly cheerleader cartwheels to avoid my fire while you run to his rescue?"

Kim sneered at Shego as she moved her limbs to a tense fighting stance, drawing strength from her own determination and will to help Ron to overcome her pain.

"Shego, I don't know what Drakken has done but if he has done as much as bruised Ron's cheek I'll make sure you two are locked up in a detainment facility in Cuba before sunrise! I'm giving you two options. One, you surrender now and allow the Military Police outside to restrain you so that I can go help Ron and capture Drakken as quickly as possible. Or two, I kick the green out of you and let then let an ambulance give you a preferential ride to the prison's hospital!"

The villainess grinned even more widely as she raised her arms in the air ready to fire the ultra-condensed plasma she had been accumulating.

"I'll give you a better offer princess. After I'm done with you I'll drag you over to where your little boyfriend is and put the two of you together. I'm sure that whatever trap Dr. D managed to arrange for the dork will have enough room to accommodate you too. Now let's…"

Whatever taunt was about to come from Shego's lips died instantly along with her plasma flames when she heard Ron's next call for help. The gauntlets' cooling system glowing and hissing in protest as they had to dissipate the power of the unreleased plasma.

"Oh, no! Please, no! I can't stop his bleeding, Kim! Help me! Shego! Shego! Come quick, I can't stop his bleeding!"

To Shego's credit, her reaction to Ron's words was a lot quicker than Kim's. One second she was staring in open mouthed shock at Kim, still holding her arms up even as the glow of her plasma had dissipated as soon as her concentration was interrupted, and then the next second she was quickly sprinting over crates and boxes and running under the parked aircrafts as she hurried to reach the side of the hanger on which Stoppable had gone chasing behind Drakken. The whole way there she kept looking straight ahead, not even glancing back to see if Kim was chasing her, subconsciously and instinctually aware that Kim wouldn't attack her from behind in a situation that had made a turn for something so unpleasantly unusual that it had surprised both of them.

The only thing that occupied Shego's conscious mind as she ran was selecting the shortest route to reach the place from where she had heard Ron, and a desperate chant which she would much later remember with bitter humor: 'Please, Let it be the rat. Let it be the rat. Let it be the rat, squeezed under a metal crate with the buffoon crying over it. When I get there I want to see that creepy pink pest with its guts on the ground. I'll even settle for seeing it wit a broken leg. But please, let the rat be the one that's…"

Turning a corner around the maze of crates and assorted military equipment, Shego came to a halt in front of a sight that made bile burn her throat as her breath hitched. In a mere instant Shego's subconscious formed an idea that she instantly knew to be true the moment it presented itself to her consciousness; While she had made a name for herself in villainy doing things that would terrify many others, she knew that this vision in front of her would be the first thing that she would truly regret ever seeing from now on. The gasp of Kim Possible arriving immediately after her and furious thumping of her own heart secondary details to complement what her eyes saw at that moment.

There was the boy, in his knees and crying openly as he tried with his blood-stained hands to stanch the flow of blood coming out of the wound of a still body. And there was Doctor Drakken, looking almost relaxed as he sat in the floor with his back resting against the experimental turbine he had been so thrilled to steal tonight. His arms were at his sides with one of his hands clutching a small portable ray gun in a tight-fisted grip and the other hand relaxed palm-down against the puddle of blood that grew around him. His normally dynamic face frozen in an expression of mute and desperate disbelief as his glazed eyes stared straight ahead at the large rod of metal sticking out of his chest, piercing his coat as his own blood changed its blue color to a more sinister black.

To be continued in Chapter 2: 'Ray Gun'.