Disclaimer: I don't own Kim Possible or any of its characters or concepts.
Author's Notes: Apparently fate has a problem with me getting chapters posted at the times I plan. For the first time in ages I was on track to release a chapter by the deadline I had set myself and then I was struck down by illness for a whole week. So here I am posting this chapter over a whole week later than I had intended. Despite all that I'm reasonably happy with how this chapter turned out, although I had hoped I'd be able to write the main scene better than I ultimately did. In the end I did the best I could and hope you all find it satisfactory. Bonus points for anyone who can pick the inspiration for Cobra's last name.
Chapter 22: Shego 2.0
Typing furiously at the keyboard before him, Brent 'Cobra' Holiday stopped momentarily as he heard the telltale footsteps of another passing patrol, sighing loudly when they faded into the distance. An elite NCS agent, he had been one of only a handful to successfully infiltrate Brad's mercenary army. Having spent the last few weeks gathering all the information he could, he had been preparing to bug out when everything had suddenly gone wrong. Somehow his identity had been discovered and now he was being mercilessly hunted by the other mercenaries.
While ultimately unaware of their locations or fates Cobra could only assume that his comrades were experiencing similar difficulties, making what he was doing now all the more important. Though his capture was more or less inevitable he was intent on at least somewhat achieving his mission, knowing that the consequences of failure could be dire for all. If he could just transmit his coordinates to the CIA then at least his death would mean something.
Cobra knew that the men Brad has sent on the raid of GJ's Lowerton facility had been recruited to and dispatched from a subsidiary base. The smaller base had already been raided by Betty's forces but they had found nothing there but empty barracks and blank computer hard drives, leaving them no closer to discovering the location of the main base. Agent Holiday however had been fortunate enough to be stationed at the main base itself and if he could just manage to transmit his coordinates then maybe a strike could be coordinated before it was too late.
As he worked Cobra erected a small transmitter device and hooked it into the network hub, hoping that the gadget would adequately perform its task. The device was designed to boost the transmitter signal of the computer terminal before him enough for it to send a short message out from the usually closed network, allowing him to fleetingly establish contact with the outside world. The downside was that it would also make his location abundantly clear to the base's technicians, effectively making it a suicidal last resort.
So absorbed was he in his task that Cobra didn't even notice he had company until the intruder was practically looking over his shoulder. Whirling around, the twenty-five year old was relieved to see that it was one of his fellow agents, their mask pushed up on top of their head in a similar position to his own. "Wolf! Jeez, you scared the hell out of me! This is really bad, I'm going to try and send our coordinates but I wouldn't hold out any hope for our own survival. At best we can hope that someone else can stop these guys before they activate that… thing! I don't suppose you know anything about the others?"
Looking strangely composed given their situation, Wolf calmly pulled his mask back down. "Their identities were leaked just as yours was. They have all been killed as retribution for betraying Master Brad." Noting that Cobra had placed his own gun foolishly out of reach, the muscular male raised his assault rifle and calmly pointed it at his former comrade's face.
Confused for only a moment, Cobra quickly narrowed his eyes as he looked down the barrel of Wolf's gun. One of the modified M-15s carried by Brad's mercenaries, the weapon was dubbed the M-15K, or 'Killer'. Having wielded one himself, the young agent knew just how deadly they could be. "You bastard, you betrayed us all!" Knowing his death was near he silently berated himself for having lowered his guard while damning the man before him with every fibre of his being.
If he was affected by the younger man's words, Wolf's mask hid it completely. "I was never on your side you fool. I have always worked for Master Brad, since before I even became an agent. And there are many more like me, wherever they are needed. You're infiltrators… have been infiltrated." With an invisible smirk his finger depressed on the trigger and Cobra's head was violently torn apart.
Flicking off his security monitor as soon as he was sure that Cobra was dead, Brad allowed himself a small smile at his victory. With the last of the NCS agents dead he had rid himself of all those who had tried to infiltrate his criminal empire. Many nations had tried, and several had thought they succeeded but in the end it was all for naught. None now remained to relay any information they may have possessed.
The room in which Brad sat was dominated by several large viewing screens, allowing him to monitor situations within his base and facilitate long distance communications. He had come here to watch as the infiltrators were hunted down but that had not been the only reason. In fact it had been only a secondary concern. A small light flickering on his armrest informed him that the transmissions he had been waiting for had finally been established.
Pressing the button directly below the flashing light, Brad folded his arms as the three screens most directly in front of him came to life. As each screen lit up it revealed the face of one of his primary benefactors, the Japanese, Hispanic and Russian ones to be exact. All three men wore serious expressions and it was clear they wanted to talk business. They were of like mind to the seated villain in that respect.
Keeping his arms where they were, Brad leaned back in his seat and projected an air of indifference. "Hello gentleman, I trust you have done as I asked. I need not remind you that I am not one to accept unnecessary delays." His plan had progressed to the point when he no longer needed to treat these men as equals, especially since their Italian counterpart was not part of the exchange.
Scoffing audibly at Brad's words, the Russian crime lord narrowed his eyes dangerously. "Who are you to talk about unnecessary delays? Your so-called super weapon has been ready for days. Why don't you just use it already?" He had invested too much in this endeavour to pull out now but the behaviour of his overly arrogant compatriot was beginning to get on his nerves.
Brad's own eyes narrowed at the Russian's tone. "Do not think of it as something to be used so lightly. That device has the power to extinguish all life on this planet. It is not something to be played around with." His white eyes scanned across all three view screens. "Now I will ask you again and this time I expect an answer. Have you done as I asked?"
Having seemingly paid no attention to the preceding conversation, the Hispanic man nodded. "We have each of us procured what you asked. They are being shipped to your location as we speak, guarded by some of our finest men." He paused for a moment as he considered the contents of the shipment. "Are you sure this is necessary? The weapon you have constructed should be more than enough."
Dismissing the other man's worries with a wave of his hand, Brad smirked slightly at the news that they had completed their tasks. "Do not worry, I merely wish to possess them as a contingency plan. If all goes according to plan, which I assure you it will, then I'll never have to use them. It never hurts to have something to fall back on though, especially when it concerns revenge."
Appearing less than impressed by Brad's explanations, the Russian kept his eyes narrowed. "So how much longer are you going to wait? Don't think that the governments of the world are just going to play by your rules. They'll destroy us all without a moment's hesitation if you give them the chance."
Pausing for a moment in thought, Brad never lost his confident smirk. "GJ have made their move, as ineffective as it was. As such it is once again my turn." His smirk widened as he remembered the look on Betty's face when she had found the subsidiary base abandoned, captured on the still-functional security cameras. "As we speak my latest servant is being completed. Once she is ready I will make my move."
The corners of his mouth twisting down, Brad's Japanese benefactor fixed eyes with the villain as best he could. "Your love of games could get you killed some day, if your overconfidence doesn't do so first. You can play with your captive and her friends all you want but do not let it get in the way of our objectives."
For a moment Brad's eyes narrowed but then his smirk returned and his tone became almost mocking. "I don't particularly care what you think of my methods, it doesn't affect me in the slightest. I will carry out my end of our bargain no matter what, you can count on that. Now if you'll excuse me…" Mentally pressing a button on his armrest, the telekinetic mutant calmly cut all connections as a small but noticeable frown crossed his face.
Sitting for a moment in silence, Brad considered the words of his benefactors. Although he hated to admit it they did have somewhat of a point. Though they may have been weaker than him his opponent's were not to be underestimated. The next stage of his plan was especially reckless and for a moment he considered rethinking his strategy but dismissed the thought just as quickly as it had come to mind. He had nothing to fear from them, not when he had a weapon that could quite literally take all of them out at once and effectively hold the world to ransom.
Lying half-asleep on his living room couch, Ron Stoppable gazed somewhat vacantly at the plain ceiling above. It was growing late but that was not the reason for his debilitated state, rather it was the result of heavy training on a body still weakened from earlier injuries. He wasn't quite sure what had compelled him to train, it certainly wasn't a desire he'd ever experienced before and yet it had been one he could not fight against. His eyes trailing to the sword leaning against the edge of his couch, the blonde got the feeling he already knew the answer to his own question.
With his body utterly spent, the young sidekick's mind had time to wander to matters he had been able to put aside while training. Though she had initially managed to depart without him noticing it hadn't taken Ron long to realise that Yori had left sometime in the afternoon, leaving him to train without an audience. He was pretty sure he knew where she had gotten to as well, most likely having gone to Kim's and voiced her support of the redhead's plan. That the ninja did not agree with his standpoint on the matter had been quite easy to discern.
Thoughts of Kim brought a frown to Ron's face, his mind turning to the drastic cooling of the relationship between him and his former girlfriend over the past few days. That the girl who he had known since kindergarten seemed to have begun hating him was bad enough, that it was because of Shego only made matters worse. Things had actually been going pretty well for him before that raven-haired vixen had come along and ruined everything. Why couldn't the others see that she was more trouble than she was worth?
The sound of his front door opening and closing brought Ron's eyes to the living room entrance, which was soon filled by a familiar figure. The identity of the figure was not surprising, given that his parents were not due to be home for a few hours yet. "Hello Yori. Do I even need to ask where you've been?" He supposed it was a little unfair to be annoyed with the girl but he couldn't shake the feeling that she had betrayed his trust.
Although proficient at keeping her emotions from showing on her face, Yori still frowned slightly at the blonde's tone. "Why are you so angry Ron-kun? This is not like you at all." It wasn't that she was confused over why he'd be annoyed with her, indeed that was fairly clear to her. It was just that she was concerned about his generally agitated state over the last few days. It just was not like him to so deeply harbour such dark emotions.
Ron looked a little taken aback by the question, but hid it quickly and shot Yori a look that was coming dangerously close to a glare. "I don't know, maybe because the people I thought were my friends are all turning against me. I mean first Kim decides she's not on my side anymore and now you've gone and done the same thing. So tell me, why shouldn't I be angry?" He wasn't sure if he should be satisfied or disappointed when his companion turned away in apparent shame. Part of him wanted to reach out and take back his words but it was a part he paid little attention to anymore.
Shame though had not been the reason Yori turned away, rather she had done so because she could not bear to have someone she cared for look at her that way. Too many of those she cherished had already been lost to her forever, she did not want to lose another. The Japanese girl didn't even sound angry as she responded to the accusation leveled against her but disheartened instead. "I am still on your side Ron-kun but you seem to have forgotten what your side is. All of us have our problems and yet you have chosen to focus only on your own, ignoring the suffering of those who hold you dear. You have always been one of the kindest individuals I have ever known and I cannot understand why you are acting this way now!"
Both Yori's words and tone of voice taking him by surprise, Ron's eyes once again traveled to the Lotus Blade as he frowned deeply. He didn't really feel any different but he was at least somewhat aware that he was behaving more selfishly than he had before. The change in his personality had been subtle even for him but he couldn't deny that a change had occurred since he began accessing his dormant powers. Up until that very second though the change hadn't bothered him at all. It had just seemed so natural, like he was meant to be this way. But maybe the ninja was right, maybe there really was something wrong with him.
Kneeling down beside the confused teenager, Yori looked into his eyes and laid a comforting hand on his chest. "I told you before Ron-kun, the Mystical Monkey Power is dangerous. If you allow anger to cloud your judgment on any issue the power will take that anger, twist it and enhance it. I know that losing Possible-san to another has angered you but your powers have taken that anger and enhanced it beyond your own intent." Tears began to trickle down her cheeks as she searched for understanding in the boy's eyes. "I am sorry, this is all my fault. I have never wielded the Mystical Monkey Power myself. I was not fit to teach it to you."
Looking at Yori now the blonde was reminded of the last time he had seen her cry, when she had detailed the destruction of Yamanouchi to him. The destruction of the only home she had ever known and the loss of those she had considered her family. Raising a slightly shaking hand, he endeavoured to wipe the salty water from her cheeks with only partial success. "Why are you apologising?" He smiled as best he could when his companion's expression became confused. "You didn't do anything wrong. You helped me get stronger, helped me find the strength I needed to defeat Monkey Fist. I'm the one who failed to control it. Please, help me gain control." The Asian teenager looked as if she was going to protest but wasn't given a chance. "Please." Gently cupping the girl's chin, Ron brought her face forward and gingerly planted his lips on hers.
Standing before a large rectangular window, six figures looked down upon the cavernous room below. Two of the figures stood behind mounted computer terminals, their hands posed over the keypads to either side of their screens. The remaining four simply watched, waiting patiently for the experiment to begin. An air of silence hung over the observation deck, broken only by an occasional beeping from one of the terminals and the observers' steady breaths.
His black eyes fixing on the small screen before him, Drakken smirked slightly as he read the statistics shown there. "Nerve integration is complete, vitals are stable. We are ready to begin." Blowing a few stray strands of hair from his eyes, he frowned as he noticed some of the strands were showing hints of grey. Couldn't he have just one achievement without something else ruining it?
Uninterested in the doctor's hair troubles, Brad peered down at the lone figure standing in the room below. Standing perfectly still the figure was surrounded on all sides by thick concrete barriers, the door that had allowed her to be placed within having long since melded seamlessly into the surrounding walls. In a sea of absolute blandness the young woman stood out markedly.
Drakken's experiments had changed Shego's appearance drastically, giving her the appearance of some kind of cybernetic warrior. A spindly metal exoskeleton clung to the length of each of her forearms, cutting off just short of her elbows. Two large claw-like blades rested on top of each limb, mounted on tracks that would allow them to slide forward and over the plasma-wielder's hands. Thin segments of wiring could be seen between the mountings and the mutant's skin, piercing through flesh into the nerves beneath. What made the metallic attachments grotesque however was not the blades but rather the two thick rods that held each of them in place. Attached to the exoskeleton on either side, the rods went straight through the pale female's arms, apparently unaffected by the small streams of burning green blood that flowed out around them.
On each arm a thin tube emerged from just behind the blade mountings, laid flat along the martial artist's muscular arms and over her shoulders where they connected with something that made the arm attachments look like child's play. Running the entire length of Shego's back was a wide strip of metal literally covered with small lengths of tubing and what appeared to be dull green lights. The mutant's blood flowed freely through the tubing, occasionally disappearing into the narrow confines of the metal contraption beneath. Lining the sides of the mechanism were seemingly hundreds of hypodermic needles, all of them angled downwards and penetrating deeply into their host's skin. Though they could not be seen many more needles extended from underneath the device, digging into the spinal cord itself along with a massive network of wiring meticulously tied into the thief's central nervous system.
The top of the spinal attachment spread out slightly around the back of Shego's neck, halfway encircling it in a thick metal collar. The back of this semicircle hid another network of wires that dug into the neck at it's base and connected to a lattice of thin metal arms that wrapped gently around the plasma-wielder's brain, securing small black pads across the surface of the fragile organ. A thin band of metal encircled the mutant's forehead, attached directly to her skull and sealing close the surgical cut in the bone. In turn a translucent green eyepiece hung down from the metal band and covered the mercenary's right eye, designed in a way that it would not infringe her vision while providing her with tactical readouts.
Of all the additions Drakken had made however the ones that stood out the most were the six long cylinders that extended out of the spinal attachment in groups of two. Approximately eight inches in length, each one stuck out at a slightly outwards angle so that the cylinders of each pair diverged from each other slightly as they rose. The three sets were evenly spaced along the spinal cord's length with the highest two just below Shego's neck and the lowest approximately three-quarters of the way down her back.
For the most part their surfaces were metal, broken only by a thin strip on the outward edge of each cylinder. These areas were constructed of a translucent material that allowed the cylinders contents to be glimpse, revealing a pale green liquid that emitted an eerie glow and swirled powerfully within the cylinders' confines. Where they connected to the spinal attachment each cylinder's base separated into several large hypodermic needles held at bay by a small mound of protective supports that all but hid them from view. Directly beneath each set of needles was a corresponding set of holes in the metal exposing Shego's skin, making it clear that the cylinders were designed to slide inwards when the use of their contents was needed.
Below the six main cylinders a seventh lay horizontally along the spinal attachment. Slightly longer than the others its base hovered just above Shego's waist while its top came close to touching the two other cylinders most directly above it. Its thin translucent section was on the part facing away from the device beneath and revealed its contents to be a pale blue liquid that's tranquil nature was notably opposite to the behaviour of its green counterpart. Its injection method, if any, could not be seen.
Though her lower half was still covered by plain green cargo pants, Shego's upper half was adorned in a more useful piece of clothing. The sleeveless top was composed of a tight fitting black fabric that reached only to the top of her abdomen and was secured at the back by thin strips of fabric crisscrossing their way through the maze of cylinders and tubing that attempted to obstruct their path. Fitted with a variety of concealed scanners, the top was designed to monitor the plasma-wielder's vital sign, relaying the information to the terminal currently at Drakken's fingertips.
With her eyes closed and chest rising and falling in a rhythmic fashion, Shego looked as if she was asleep but from his position far above Brad knew that this was not truly the case. On the very edge of sleep perhaps but not truly asleep in the usual meaning of the word, hence the reason she was still able to stand. Raising a small microphone to his lips, the telekinetic villain spoke three short words and waited patiently for the results. "Wake up Shego." The villain smirked noticeably as his captive's eyes began to open.
Lingering on the very edge of consciousness, Shego struggled just to form the most basic of thoughts. Something was clouding her mind but she couldn't focus enough to discern what it was, hardly even able to recognize its existence. Any attempts to move her body or open her eyes failed miserably, her limbs and eyelids alike as immovable as stone. It wasn't even that they felt too heavy, although her arms did feel as if they had gained a fair bit of weight, it was just that she couldn't find it within herself to will them to move. Something was definitely wrong but she didn't know how to fight against it, she was even having a hard time remembering why it was she wanted to fight.
A brief image of a redheaded teenager flashed across Shego's mind eye and for a short moment she struggled just to remember who this girl was. The name came to her quickly enough and the reason she wanted to fight came soon after. This was Kim, the one she cared most for, the one she wanted to return to. They had been separated but she couldn't quite remember how. Whatever the cause, right now the cloud hanging over her thoughts was directly preventing her from doing anything that would help her return to her Princess and as such it had to be banished. Even as these thoughts came to mind though, holding onto them was in itself a struggle and doing anything else was next to impossible.
As her thoughts began to waiver the idea of giving up briefly crossed the mutant's mind only to be crushed down by every ounce of will that remained in her body. She couldn't give up, not ever. Regardless of what was happening to her she had to fight or else the people doing this to her would win, whatever their names might be. It was at that very moment as she struggled to remember the name of her captures that three word inexplicably crossed her mind. "Wake up Shego." She knew that voice, Brad's voice, the voice of her enemy. And yet even as she identified him her body unconsciously responded to the command. Abruptly the cloudiness of her thoughts was swept away and she could think clearly once more, just as her eyes finally began to open.
Shego's eyes hadn't even gotten a chance to open fully before the pain hit her, searing through her body like wild fire. She could not see her own back so her now fully open eyes moved instead to her arms, widening dramatically at what they witnessed. It was clear now why her arms had felt so heavy before and she needed to look no further than the metal poles driving through her forearms to know where much of her pain was coming from. The martial artist was actually somewhat glad that she couldn't see her back, not really wanting to know what the source of her pain there was.
Surprisingly the eyepiece was actually the last thing Shego saw, realising its presence even after she felt the band it was attached to. The slight green tinge it inflicted on her vision had gone almost totally unnoticed and it was only the small glowing red arrow that appeared on it that finally garnered her attention. The graphic urged her to look upwards and she silently complied, her eyes narrowing and arms rising as the observation window above came into her line of sight. "You!" Her voice was surprisingly strong given how dry her throat felt.
Looking down at her with a confident smile, Brad was impressed at how their little experiment was handling the pain he knew she must be experiencing. "You should not sound so angry with me Miss Golovin. I have helped you after all. At no small cost to myself I might add." His smile only widened as he saw the fury in his captive's eyes. "Hmm… still fiery are we, even after everything you've been through? Good… I don't tolerate weakness in my servants."
Noting that her arms were moving with relative ease, Shego focused for a moment on the blades mounted on her right arm and was momentarily surprised when they slid forward and over her hand. "What the hell have you done to me?" Her teeth gritted together as she looked back to Brad and his companions. "What the hell have you done!!?" Green fire erupted around her left hand and she threw a plasma blast at the window above.
Though it flew true the attack struck harmlessly against the window, its power dissipated by the Transference Shield covering the entire wall. Safely behind the window, Dementor smiled to himself as he checked the computer terminal before him. "No damage, my shield will never be penetrated by petty attacks such as that." He looked to his side to see if Drakken was suitably impressed only to find that the other man wasn't even looking in his direction.
Ignoring Dementor as well, Brad merely tilted his head to the side slightly and looked at Shego with an apparently hurt expression. "What have I done? Why Shego, I have made you stronger. Stronger than you have ever been, stronger than you have ever even imagined you could be. If anything you should be thanking me, rather than attempting such useless attacks." He turned to the two men standing beside him. "Would you not agree?"
His ever-present smirk twisting maliciously, Betters cast a somewhat derisive look down at the enraged female below. "Indeed, she should give thanks for the power she has been gifted with. But then I suppose there's only so much you can expect from one such as her." Born into considerable wealth, the suited male had a habit of looking down upon those he considered inferior. Indeed there were only a bare handful of people he could actually be said to respect.
Putting more consideration into his response, Gemini couldn't help but frown slightly at Better's words. He knew that the crime lord had a similar opinion of him and didn't much care for the arrogant attitude. "I wouldn't put it down to her inferiority quite yet, perhaps she simply requires a demonstration of her new power before she will be able to see the light." His single eye moved to rest on Drakken, or more specifically on the terminal at his fingertips.
Nodding in agreement with the WEE leader's suggestion, Brad turned his own eyes to the blue-skinned villain, pleased to see his subordinate already looking back. "I believe it is time we gave your enhancements a real test Drakken. Allow us to see your genius at work." A slight smirk developed on his face as he looked back to Shego. "Send in the first two." The slight clicking of fingers on keys traveled quickly to his ears.
Still glaring upwards from below, Shego was trying to decide if she should hit the window with everything she had or just try to blast her way through one of the walls. The rippling effect of the Transference Shield had shown her that it only covered the wall in front of her which suggested that the other walls would be easier targets. On the other hand this might be her only opportunity to get revenge on Brad. Of course even if she could get through one of the walls there would probably be… any intelligent thought vanished from the plasma-wielder's head as the top two cylinders slid inwards.
Shego was no stranger to pain, having felt far more of it than most. In fact the nature of her blood had led her to experience pain every day of her life since she was seven years old and even before her mutation she had been quite familiar with the concept. Her pain threshold was considerably higher than the average individual's, allowing her to live with the agony of her body and shrug off most injuries as if they were nothing. By the time an injury became severe enough to warrant attention it was often life-threatening, though her abnormally high healing rate was usually enough to negate the threat.
The sensation Shego experienced as the two cylinders slid in though was unlike anything she had ever felt before. Compared to the effects the injections had on her system, the force of the needles penetrating her skin didn't even register. As the cylinder's contents flooded her system they reacted violently with the mutant's plasma-filled blood and in an instant the heat of the green liquid seemed to double, the agonising effect quickly spreading throughout her whole body.
Unable to take the strain any longer Shego collapsed to her hands and knees, biting down on her bottom lip in an only partially successful attempt to hold in her tortured screams. She felt her heartbeat quicken drastically as the torrent of burning blood within her ate away at her flesh with a vigor beyond anything it had ever exhibited before. It felt almost as if her body was being torn apart from the inside out except that she could feel herself somehow holding firm and although she could not see it thin wisps of plasma were beginning to escape from her skin.
Calmly watching as his captive writhed with agony in the chamber below, Brad raised an eyebrow as her back arched and her left fist slammed solidly into the concrete floor. The blow shattered the concrete with apparent ease and sent cracks spiraling over a meter from the point of impact. As the fist rose and fell again the crater deepened and the cracks spread out even further. At the same time the plasma-wielder's right hand dug its extended blades deeply into the concrete and with a flash of green fired a plasma blast at point-blank range, creating a crater similar to that of its twin. He raised his microphone back to his lips. "Can you hear me Shego?"
Hardly even noticing the craters she had unintentionally created, Shego had to force herself to lift her hands from the ground and slowly rise back to her feet. Though it had been pain that had originally made her fall she found that the change of position had no effect on its intensity and strangely enough her body was moving with even greater ease than it had before. To open her mouth without screaming was a struggle in itself but she managed it nonetheless. "Yeah I can hear you. Your little torture session… isn't going to stop me."
Raising an eyebrow and slowly shaking his head, Brad seemed almost confused by the pale woman's statement. "Torture? No I'm afraid you misunderstand Shego. The pain you feel is merely a side-effect of the true intention of my actions. Don't tell me you don't feel it? Even through the agony you must be experiencing you should be able to sense it. The drastic increase in your powers with which I have gifted you."
Though her eyes narrowed in obvious suspicion, Shego saw no threat in putting her pain aside for a few seconds and testing out Brad's claim. Raising her right hand before her face, she wasn't surprised this time when the metal blades obediently slid back to behind her wrist at a mere thought. Instead she focused her attention on the plasma that erupted around the hand, noting that it was slightly brighter than usual and licked at her skin with a greater hunger than before. The thief couldn't quite put her finger on it but something felt oddly different about the green flame. She would have been able to discern the change with far greater ease if there wasn't so much damn pain clouding her focus.
A self-praising smile crossing his face as he witnessed a slight widening in Shego's eyes, Drakken cast a quick glance at his computer terminal before looking back to his former sidekick. "It is genius is it not? My greatest invention yet, or perhaps my second greatest, whichever way it is irrelevant. I could have done something like this sooner if you'd only let me look at your genetics while you were still working with me. It really is amazing how your body works, quite amazing."
Not interested in waiting the required time for Drakken to finish explaining everything Brad cut him off, noting the minute twisting of the doctor's lips as he did so. "Upon closely examining your genetic code DNAmy discovered that your body actually feeds on the plasma that flows through your veins. Surely you have noticed before your ability to go for long periods of time without sleep or food, well we have discovered the reason. While you still require basic sustenance and occasional rest to keep your body operating for truly extended periods, the energy your body consumes from the plasma is for the most part enough. It is this energy that fuels your strength in combat, and it is this energy that we have increased.
"The chemical with which you have been injected was created from your own blood, a naturally occurring substance that temporarily increases your fighting strength during times of extreme need. Thanks to some truly inspired work by Dr. Drakken the device attached to your spinal column is able to synthesize large quantities of this substance from your system, and subsequently injecting such large quantities results in your blood producing truly massive quantities of plasma. The effect of this is a simultaneous increase in both your physical prowess and the power of your plasma attacks. The only significant side-effect is the increased plasma-flow's effect on your body but as your healing rate is also accelerated by the injections this is an irritation at best."
Though it had not effected his decision in the slightest, Brad was aware that even Shego's body would not be able to handle its destructive cycle indefinitely and that by speeding up the process he was most likely making things worse. He really didn't care if her body ultimately fell apart. She would survive long enough to serve her purpose and that was all that was needed. Beyond that her existence was meaningless to him.
Her lips twisting slightly as Brad explained what was happening to her in his usual arrogant but somewhat bored tone, Shego couldn't help but chuckle as her gaze fell to the floor. She could feel it clearly now, even through the pain her newfound power could not be ignored. If this was the reward then maybe it really was worth the pain. "I suppose I really should thank you then, for giving me this strength. But you're all fooling yourselves if you think…" She grinned maliciously as she raised her eyes to look at the observation window and brought her still flaming right hand up before her. "…that you can control me!" With a single swing of her glowing limb she sent three plasma spears streaking through the air towards the watchers above.
The heat of their passage leaving a slight shimmering in the air, the raging spears of plasma crossed the distance between Shego and the others in the blink of an eye. Slamming into the window they detonated simultaneously, the concussive force of their explosions sending powerful shockwaves throughout the chamber. As the glow from the blasts dissipated however it revealed no perceivable damage to the offending window or wall other than a quickly fading series of ripples, causing a snarl to cross their origin's face.
Laughing just loud enough for Shego to hear him, Dementor was not going to miss the opportunity to compliment his own work. "Attack all you want, my Transference Shield cannot be penetrated. The strength of my shield technology increases with size and this wall is far too large for you to defeat." The shield in question spread well beyond what could be seen, surrounding a large area of the base's interior and in so doing completing the circuit necessary for its operation. "My technology cannot be beaten by one such as…" He was cut off as a plasma beam struck the window directly in front of his face, sending out another ripple but otherwise inflicting no damage.
Frowning noticeably at the general lack of effect her attacks were having, Shego fired a barrage of one-handed plasma beams at the window above. Though she seemed to be having little affect against Dementor's Transference Shield her plasma was coming more easily than it had before, enabling her to use some of her most powerful attacks without any perceptible effect on her energy levels. With her beams ineffective, the mutant crossed her arms for a moment and sent out eight plasma spears to detonate far above.
Covering his eye momentarily against the glare of the powerful explosions, Gemini was just barely able to distinguish a soft beeping coming from Dementor's terminal. "Is there a problem Professor?" As the green light faded he could see that the rippling Transference Shield was still active but could only assume that the beeping meant all was not as it seemed. The ripples at least were certainly larger than before and he had no intention of sticking around if the shield was in danger of failing.
Waving off his colleague's concern, Dementor clicked a few quick keys on his terminal and the beeping stopped. "Just a temporary power deficiency, nothing to be worried about. As you can see the plasma failed to penetrate anyway but I'll just boost the power to full to be sure. I assure you it was only an advance warning, my technology is flawless." He shot another quick look at Drakken but frowned when his companion appeared unimpressed.
Becoming increasingly irritated by her failure to penetrate the shield, Shego fired off another wave of spears only to have them nullified like all the rest. The strength of her attacks had certainly increased and they were no longer draining her to the extent they had before, but she still couldn't summon enough power to fulfill her aims. What was the use of feeling so much agony if it didn't even give her enough power to reap her revenge? At this rate she would remain a prisoner, unable to return to the one she cared most for. Unable to return to her Princess.
Brad's smirk returned full force as Shego finally lowered her arms back to her sides, pleased to see the dejected look that crossed her face. "Why so gloomy Shego? No wait, let me guess. Oh I know, you're missing your friends aren't you? Or is it just Miss Possible you miss?" Though for the most part he kept his composure his eyes narrowed slightly as he noticed the increased flow of plasma radiating from the cyborg's body and the fact that both pairs of arm blades had slid over her hands. "Drakken, give me a readout on her vitals."
Looking to the three-dimensional portrayal of Shego in the center of his terminal's screen, Drakken scanned his eyes over the readouts to either side. "Yes, right. As expected her heart rate has increased considerably, with the increased blood flow accelerating the rest of her bodily functions. Her pain receptors are a little overactive but other than that her vitals are stable." He paused for a moment as he looked more closely at the readouts on her brain activity, an uncommon seriousness crossing his face. "Her aggression levels are rising."
Turning back to look at the strangely silent Shego, Brad's expression for once lost all signs of boredom as he seriously considered his next words. He had only planned to test the effect of the first two cylinders in this trial but the increase in his captive's powers had exceeded his expectations and he was now dreadfully curious. "Drakken… send in the next two. I want to see just how powerful this girl can become." Though there was a slight risk that such an action would cause irreparable damage to the plasma-wielder he considered the experiment worth the risk. There was only a brief moment of hesitation before the clacking of keys signaled the carrying out of the villain's orders.
The second pair of cylinders slid into the waiting slot below them with an almost imperceptible hiss, the hypodermic needles at their base penetrating their host's skin effortlessly. The swirling liquid within them rushed through the needles quickly, bursting into the blood beneath to incite yet another plasma increase. This time Shego couldn't hold it in at all. As the chemical spread she opened her mouth, threw back her head, and screamed.
Though by itself the second injection was no more potent than the first, their combined effect was something else entirely. As Shego's agonised scream echoed through the cavernous chamber she quite literally began to radiate plasma, heating the air around her to almost unbearable levels. As the glowing flames spread across her body they licked hungrily at her flesh, tearing off strips of skin and reducing them to nothing more than black flecks in the raging green energy. Even the metal contraptions marring her form were engulfed by the spreading fire, though they seemed unaffected by the incredible heat. Though her healing rate had been boosted once again, a small trickle of blood from the mutant's mouth showed what force was winning the battle raging within her body.
It took all of Shego's willpower and then some to stay on her feet, kept up only by the knowledge that falling would do her no good and a determination not to give her captures the satisfaction of seeing her on her knees once again. When her scream was finally cut off by lack of breath she coughed up a spray of blood, the green liquid hissing as it made contact with the concrete floor. As the plasma spread through her, her muscles flexed and small tears appeared in the skin above, releasing even more plasma and allowing her now vibrantly green blood to flow freely down her form. The pale female was used to the touch of her blood by now but this time it was far worse than usual, the liquid quick literally burning her flesh as it flowed.
Taking the silent look he received from Brad as a demand for another readout, Drakken looked a little apprehensive as he read out the results. "The effect of two consecutive injections appears to be more severe than anticipated. I wasn't expecting a result of this magnitude. She'll live but her vitals are not entirely stable. On the positive side her power increase is also beyond expectations, though I am reading a small degree of instability in her plasma readouts." A small frown crossed the blue-skinned man's face as he tried to make sense of the readouts he was receiving. "I would suggest against utilising the final two."
Smirking slightly as he noticed that for once Drakken had completely forgotten to cover up his out of character seriousness, Brad silently turned his eyes back to Shego. While his eyes had been diverted she had managed to cross her arms in front of her chest and excessively bright plasma was beginning to form along the length of the two limbs. Raging violently, the plasma was noticeably different from what she had previously used. It was considerably brighter and lifted further from her skin than it had before, spiking out into the surrounding air with wild abandon. Black specks could be seen throughout the predominately green energy as it quite literally shaved the top layers of skin from the mutant's already bleeding forearms. Even the extended claws had been engulfed by the powerful flames, taking on a green shade themselves from the reflected light.
The fifth and final occupant of the observation room, Nathaniel looked on stoically as his keen eyes picked up the sight of Shego drawing blood from her bottom lip in an attempt to keep in her screams. In truth he did not really see the purpose for what they had done to her. She had been powerful already and their seemed little point in making her stronger when the devices used could just as easily kill her. Part of him was aware that this was just another one of his master's games, played for no real purpose other than a perverted kind of entertainment. It was a game like this that had gotten Ashleigh killed and… he had no interest in such things. He would watch as he had been told to do but he took no enjoyment from it.
Finding it difficult just to breath properly through the terrible pain, Shego nevertheless found the strength within herself to form words through clenched shut teeth. "I never… wanted… to kill again. I wanted to be… better for her. I didn't… want her to be… disappointed in me. But no matter… how hard I try… I guess… I just can't… hide from myself." As her eyes rose to fix on Brad's they themselves almost seemed to be glowing green, reflecting the vibrant light coming from her arms. "I'm going to kill you!" As her arms swung out not one but two streams of plasma spears sprang from each, guided by the points of her extended claws. In total a wave of sixteen vibrantly glowing plasma spears sliced through the air towards the observation window.
This wave of spears was as different from their predecessors as the plasma from which they had formed. Their constantly shifting edges were so jagged that they actually seemed to cut at the air around them and the heat they generated was so intense that the air around them appeared as a greenish haze, making keeping track of the spears themselves a frustratingly difficult task. Of course it didn't matter whether Brad or the others could follow them or not as their speed had increased to the point that they crossed the distance between Shego and the window in a mere fraction of a second, where they detonated with a fury that put their weaker counterparts to shame.
The strength of each of these spears was roughly equivalent to three of Shego's regular spears, making their combined force truly devastating. Other than generating an almost blinding amount of light the tremendous explosions sent out powerful shockwaves and a wave of heat hot enough to burn through mere contact. Small and large cracks alike raced across the room's walls and floor, slowly fading out the further they were from the point of impact. Even the ceiling far above suffered a similar fate, with a few pieces of concrete actually crashing to the floor below.
Pushed back slightly herself by the force of her own attacks, Shego scowled deeply as the glare finally faded and she was able to see the fate of her actual targets. Though huge and somewhat chaotic ripples spread across its surface the Transference Shield had frustratingly held firm against her spears, leaving those standing behind it totally untouched by her efforts. Even though the shield had had no effect on the heat wave the explosion created that too had been nullified by the thick glass, which had become only slightly disfigured in the process. To make matters worse that attack had drained a considerable amount of energy even in her current state and she didn't think she could fire off any greater amount of spears at once. Which left her only one option.
His helmet doing nothing to conceal the dramatic widening of his eyes, Dementor could hardly believe what his terminal was telling him. "Unbelievable, even with the Transference Shield at its maximum that attack almost pushed it past critical." He swallowed audibly, picturing what might have happened had the shield not been able to hold back the spears' explosions. "As much as I hate to admit it I have to agree with Drakken. We must not use the last injection." The short German couldn't help but notice his fellow scientist's smirk at the apparent failings of his glorious Transference Shield.
Ignoring the glaring match going on between the two supposedly intelligent men beside him, Betters raised a well-trimmed eyebrow as his eyes remained fixed on Shego. "What is she doing now?" The mutant had her arms at her sides, with the elbows drawn back and her forearms horizontal to the ground. The metallic blades had slid back into their redrawn position and comparatively small spheres of plasma were forming around each hand. It didn't look anywhere near as threatening as when her entire arms had been alight but something in the bearded man's gut told him that whatever she was doing was not to be taken lightly.
Brad's white eyes narrowed slightly as their gaze moved to Shego's right hand and he couldn't help but be curious about what she planned to do. The plasma forming around the emerald-eyed female's clenched fists seemed even brighter than that which had composed the spears, appearing almost white. The hands within could only just barely be seen through the glare, something that could easily be considered a blessing. Though their spiking exterior had been forcibly smoothed the orbs ate hungrily at the flesh within, very nearly stripping the hands all the way down to the muscles.
Once, Shego had thought herself to be beyond fear. At that time there had been nothing left for her to lose, nothing to hold back for. She couldn't remember how many times her life had come close to ending in those years, how many times she'd lost herself in her madness and thrown caution to the wind. What she did remember was that throughout it all she had feared nothing, not even death. But now, driving like a spike through her pain, her fear had returned to her. Her own death however was not her greatest fear, rather it was the thought that should she do what she intended and kill her tormentors Kim might never forgive her. The thought of losing the redhead was almost too much to bear, even the agony of her body dimmed in its presence. But despite it all she could not help it. She could not let them live.
Paying close attention to Shego's face the entire time, Nathaniel was the only one who noticed the slight curving of her lips the moment before her arms began to move. Acting more on instinct than anything else, he flung out his right hand and pushed Drakken forcibly aside. The megalomaniac didn't even get the chance to open his mouth in protest before a concentrated plasma bolt traveling at impossible speeds passed through the space that had until very recently contained his head. Burning the skin on the swordsman's arm as it passed several inches overhead, the raging hot ball of energy slammed into the room's rear wall and disappeared into the base's twisting corridors.
Reacting a mere fraction of a second slower than his subordinate, Brad threw himself to the floor but was forced to suppress an agonised roar as the plasma bolt aiming for his head scraped the edge of his shoulder, the affected flesh simply melting away at the touch. Though making only the tiniest amount of contact the heat from the attack was enough to burn the entirety of the villain's shoulder and a good deal of his right arm and side. Like its twin it too disappeared deeper into the base, though both were destined to dissipate soon after their escape from sight. The damage was done regardless as the backlash of the two plasma bolts penetrating the Transference Shield had caused an overload that quickly knocked out the whole protective network, leaving the observation room's occupants utterly exposed.
As Brad's uninjured left hand rose to clutch at his face's lightly burnt right side a thick beam of black energy shot past just to his right, blasting another hole in the already damaged observation window and zeroing in on the plasma-wielder below. Though there was no heat in it, the villain could feel the force of the attack as it rent the air beside him. Fired from his left hand the blast was mostly a subconscious retaliation on Nathaniel's part, born more of habit and experience than any real anger or fear. Part of him actually wanted to take it back, though he did not really understand why.
Even through a curtain of pain, Shego had seen the attack coming before it was even fired. Her right arm was already raised before her body claws extended and with a single swing she struck the head of the blast with the plasma encased limb and redirected it to slam into the nearest wall. Though deflected from its intended target the black energy still detonated with a good deal of force, blasting out a large hole in the concrete barrier and adding considerably to the cracks already present. This however went largely unnoticed by all of those present, most of them too preoccupied with their own problems.
Completely ignoring the explosion to her right, Shego once again lay both arms across her chest and focused as much plasma as she could along her flaming forearms. Higher up, Nathaniel gripped his right wrist tightly and quickly generated a small sphere of dark energy, heedless of the black electricity that arced across his body and the slowly healing burns on his damaged arm. With no Transference Shield left to negate them the two were more than prepared to let loose with their deadly attacks but were stopped on the verge of release by a single word spoken in a strong and unquestionably commanding voice. "Stop!"
Mentally Shego dismissed the command without a second thought. She had told Brad she intended to kill him and she hardly intended to stop now just because he told her to in an apparently last-ditch attempt to save his own life. And yet as she commanded her arms to swing out and release there deadly spears she found them unable to move, or at least not in the way she intended. Rather than move in the way they had been ordered the limbs instead fell limply to her sides, the raging plasma around them vanishing almost as quickly as it had appeared. To the mutant's utter shock her entire body went practically limb, remaining only rigid enough to maintain a standing position. Even her head fell forward slightly and her jaw simply refused to work at all. Plasma still radiated from and ate away at her skin, her blood still burnt away at her flesh both within and without, and yet she could not move at all.
Knowing intrinsically that the energy ball had already vanished from Nathaniel's hand, Brad lowered his hand from his face and looked at Shego with a smirk that made all of his previous expressions look almost innocent. "There is no point trying to speak Miss Golovin, you are currently incapable of even such a simple task. Unless I tell you to do so you can no longer even move your eyes. You told me before that I would never be able to control you but you are now experiencing first-hand just how wrong you really were. As you should already know Dr. Drakken here has had previous experience with the science of mind control and with my resources at his disposal, along with the ability to quite literally get into your head, he was able to build me a device that gives me complete control over your body. Your mind may still be your own but your body is mine!"
Taking commands via a receiver built into the back of the semi-circular attachment around Shego's neck, Drakken's mind control device worked by overriding the usual neural network of the brain with small bio-electrical pulses. In such a way it was able to trigger states such as paralysis with almost no trouble at all, though encountered difficulty with more complex commands when forced to compete against a conscious and active mind. A defect that had been brilliantly solved by the device's blue-skinned creator.
By pushing its host's mind into a state of near-total unconsciousness, the device was able to take over as the mind's main source of will. In such a way an order could be given and understood completely then carried out with the same level of ability as would have occurred had the user's mind been fully conscious and willing to carry out the command without the contraption's interference. Wrapped around Shego's mind in an almost predatory manner, it was not something that could be fought against through will alone and any misguided attempt to disable it electronically would either fail entirely or trigger an electrical pulse capable of wiping the plasma-wielder's entire mind in seconds.
Unable to even look at her tormentors, Shego desperately tried to force her body to move. If she could just get a single finger to wriggle, a single toe to twitch, then at least she would know that fighting was a possibility but to her utter dismay she couldn't achieve even such minor movements. The unconscious functions of her body, heart beat, breathing, blinking, they all continued as normal but anything that require even the smallest amount of will simply refused to happen. And yet whether by intention or just an unfortunate coincidence she could still feel every ounce of the terrible pain that continued to tear mercilessly at her already fragile sanity.
In all her life Shego had never felt as completely defeated as she did at that moment, even during those hellish days when she was at the mercy of Shawn Reiken. Always before she had at least been able to somewhat fight back, even if such conflict was ultimately one-sided and anything but in her favour. And even when it was of little use the ability to fight back, even minutely, had been enough to keep her going. Now though she was under the control of Brad, a man who was probably capable of anything, and there was absolutely nothing she could do about it.
Finally managing to lift himself from where the momentum of Nathaniel's push had left him sprawled on the floor, Drakken cast a somewhat dismissive look at the motionless Shego. A cursory glance revealed his computer terminal to be fully intact and he returned to it quickly. "Should I activate the failsafe now?" His finger hovered over a small button to the left of his screen as he impatiently awaited an answer to his question.
Tilting his head slightly in thought, Brad eventually shook it lightly and with one last look at Shego turned to face the room's exit. "No, leave her as she is. I want to see how long it takes for the injections' effects to wear off." He was satisfied now that her body could handle the strain that had been heaped upon it, seeing no need to alleviate that strain just yet. Pausing for a brief moment he raised his microphone back to his mouth and without even looking back at his captive muttered too final words into it before flicking it off. "Sleep, Shego."
The fire in her eyes dimming instantly as they slowly began to close, Shego tried one last useless attempt to fight against the voice's influence before drifting back to the very edge of consciousness. The familiar cloud settled over her mind as the mere act of thinking became an almost insurmountable challenge, slightly beneficial only in that it finally shut out the pain that had been tormenting her. Without anything left to fight with the cyborg finally just let go completely, allowing her thoughts to dull and her perceptions to be totally swept away.
Not having to look to know that his words had achieved their task, Brad looked briefly to the still badly shaken Dementor. "Do not think that I will forget the failure of your technology here today professor. You will stay and monitor Shego's status while we are gone. I expect a full report when I return." He paused momentarily and cast his eyes over his nearby enforcer. "I will leave Nathaniel with you, just in case you require his services. The rest of you can come with me. It is time to initiate the next stage of my plan." With no further words he strode from the room, Drakken, Gemini and Betters following close on his heels. They all knew what the next stage entailed and could only wonder if the world was ready for the shock it was going to receive, knowing they would find out soon enough.
End Notes: It wasn't until I actually finished this chapter that I realised it was about half again as long as I'd wanted it to be. Short of a total rewrite though I had no way to cut it down and I really didn't have the time to do that kind of thing. As such I apologise if this chapter seemed to drag on excessively, it certainly wasn't my intention. I'd appreciate reviews and if my description of Shego's enhancements didn't make enough sense feel free to tell me and I'll try and fill in the blanks. Provided I don't get sick again my next chapter should be up within the next couple of weeks.