Chapter 1: Acceleration Frustration
"So," roared Professor Dementor, "ze great Kim Possible and her, ah, so-so sidekick are truly reduced to ze ineffectiveness absolute! For you shall never be escaping my hyperadhesive superribbons in time to stop ze countdown! And with my ionosphere de-ionizer in orbit, I vill hold the world for ransom!
Ron was tired of the ranting. "Man, he just will not shut up! So we make a little blunder, we get caught in these giant flystrips, and he's on about it like he's never seen a hero get caught in a trap before!"
"Ron, the countdown…the de-ionizer…try to focus on the now, please." Kim was doing her best to get to her compact, which contained a gas guaranteed to loosen any solvent known to man. It also left the air smelling fresh and clean, a big plus in stuffy villainous lairs. No dice. "Where's Rufus?" The naked mole rat was worth much more than his weight in gold when it came to getting out of deathtraps. He had a special talent in that regard.
"He's caught in my pocket. Can't get the flap open. Stupid glue!"
Dementor howled with laughter. "Not so stupid; it caught you!" Under a minute to launch. "Maybe if you vere being smarter than ze glue, you vould be stopping my - vhat is zis?"
The counter was flashing "Launch Sequence Aborted."
"No, there vill be none of ze aborting launch sequences today!" The mad scientist glared at his captives. "I do not know vhat you are doing, but I vould advise you to be stopping ze doing it!" He pulled a lethal-looking ray from its holster, brandished it in their direction. "Zis demolecularizer vill be demolecularizing you toot sweet. Then ve shall see about you remote-controlly aborting my launch sequences!"
But the ray was gone from his hand. A second later, Kim Possible and Ron Stoppable were witness to the most bizarre thing they'd seen that week, aside from the incident with the iguanas.
One moment Dementor was standing on the platform, wondering what had happened to his gun; the next blink of an eye found him tied up in patch bay cables, a neat little bundle beside the countdown indicator. As Kim and Ron watched in amazement, switches were thrown, knobs turned, all almost faster than the eye could see. The whole lair was shut down in under thirty seconds.
The hyperadhesive that held them captive dissolved in a puff of gas; they dropped to the floor. As usual, Kim landed on her feet, still ready for a fight.
As usual, Ron landed on his head and staggered to his feet, momentarily not sure where he was.
Something whooshed past them, more felt than seen. The door flashed open and shut; whatever saved them was gone.
Coming to his senses, Ron managed to get the glue off his pants pocket; Rufus popped out with an annoyed chattering, ran up to Ron's shoulder and began a belated lookout for enemies on the horizon.
Kim already had Wade on the Kimmunicator. "Let Global Justice know that we've got a supervillain here ready for pickup.
"It was Dementor, just like we figured."
"I'll be honest, I lost you guys for a little while there. He does a better job at shielding his lairs than any of the others. Did I miss much?"
"Just the tornado that blew through. Don't know what it was, but it saved us. You got anything?"
"Like I said, nothing from inside the lair. But I've got your coordinates now; I'll review some satellite footage. See what turns up."
"We couldn't see what turned up. That's the problem."
"Someone with a stealth suit?"
"Someone faster than the eye."
Wade chuckled. "Maybe it was Speedy Gonzales."
"This is real life, Wade, not cartoons!"
"And in real life," bellowed Dementor, from the platform, "there is competition always! Maybe someone is now on ze scene that vill be making Kim Possible obsolete, yes? And her buffoon with ze hamster!"
Ron had enough. "Put a lid on it, crazy scientist with the silly headgear!"
"Zis helmet is making a statement! It is shouting to ze world: 'Bevare – Mad Scientist Beneath!' Zis is more than you can say for your rodent!"
"Consider the source, buddy," he advised his pet, then shouted back: "No one can make KP obsolete! She's unique! Isn't that right, Kim?"
But the red-haired teenager was silent.
Dementor's laughs echoed through the lair. Even in defeat, he recognized a small victory.
Just outside Middleton, several miles from Dementor's hideout, the person responsible for that defeat felt the telltale signs of impending deceleration: heart racing, thirst growing, her senses losing the incredible sensitivity they possessed in the accelerated state. She'd been amusing herself by outrunning cars on the way back into town; there'd be no more of that today.
"Hushpuppies!" She'd picked that up from her mother, who had used it instead of more vitriolic exclamations. Mom was gone now, but the word remained. She stopped running, stood perfectly still until the process was complete. It didn't pay to be in motion when deceleration kicked in. She'd learned that the hard way.
Bob Bradley was about to pass the petite blonde hitchhiker when he suddenly realized who she was. He braked, pulled off; the woman jogged up to meet him. "You're Suzanne Personich!"
"That's me, hon."
"Car break down?" The minute he said it, he knew it was wrong. Personich had once been the undisputed heroine of the NASCAR circuit; after leaving that career, she'd broken the land speed record at Bonneville in a vehicle she'd designed herself. Asking her if her car had broken down was like asking Jim Possible's girl if she'd let a villain escape. It just didn't happen.
If Suzanne Personich was offended, she didn't show it. "Something like that. Just need a ride into Middleton. To the Radisson. I'm stayin' in town a few days."
"Sure, get in. I'm Bob Bradley. Man, I'm your greatest fan!"
A fan, she thought wearily, getting into the car. Great.
On the way into town, half-listening to Bradley recount all of her greatest racing exploits at great length, she considered the situation. Watching Dementor at work had convinced her that he was way too unstable to trust with her secret. It was clear that he would have killed those two kids if she hadn't intervened, not to mention the disaster that contraption of his would have caused. She was glad she'd come along when she did. The man was a mental case.
But there were other scientists that might help. Men who weren't working for the government or for a big corporation. Renegades. Like herself.
Suddenly she became aware that Bob Bradley was waiting for an answer to a question. "I'm sorry, honey, I was thinkin' about somethin'. What'd you say, again?"
"That time you flipped the car at Talledega. How could you just go right back to the track? Man, I'd be scared to death."
"Well, you just don't let fear run you. A scaredy-cat never gets anything done." A lot of people would have been afraid to try the acceleranium on themselves. A lot of people would have never felt the exhilaration, the joy, the freedom it had given her.
All she wanted was to make it permanent. Was that too much to ask?
"Could you pull off at that gas station?" she asked. "I don't mean to be a bother, but I sure could use something to drink. I'm parched."
"Sure thing, Ms. Personich."
"Oh, call me Sue. All my friends do."
"Whaddaya want, Sue? My treat. I insist."
"Well, thank you, honey. Just a bottled water."
A scooter putt-putted by, barely traveling fast enough to stay upright. Sue didn't pay much attention to it, or she might have recognized the riders. Even if she had, she would have had no idea that their paths would cross again, very soon.
"Bueno Nacho stop?" Adventuring always left Ron hungry.
"I don't think so, Ron." Kim was in a mood, had been since they'd left the lair. "I'll just go on home. Homework trouble."
"Dementor trouble! Kim, he's crazy! You can't pay attention to him. Focus on the now!"
"You're right; on the now." She laughed. "Bueno Nacho. Why not?"
"That's the KP spirit! Nothing gets us down."
"You bet." She smiled, but Dementor's jeering voice continued to ring in her mind, particularly that single hateful word: Obsolete.