The Hitchhiker 3: The Longest Journey
By Adam Leigh
Summary: Shego was not always named that, and she was not always a trucker. Once upon a time she was Sharon Hedge, and her journey to become Shego is at least as relevant as the path she walks today. But how does Kim fit into that?
*** KP - - KP – KP ***
When Shego first met Priss Asagiri, she immediately liked what she saw. Priss was rough edged, refused to dress in anything nicer than a retro-thrash t-shirt and leather jacket, had a permanently bored look on her face, wore dark red contact lenses, and raced faster than anyone Shego had ever seen before. Their first interaction with one another was even civil.
"You Sharon?" said Priss, looking up from a racing magazine as Shego stepped into the immaculately decorated conference room that Sylia's team had been assigned.
"Its Shego now," said Shego. "You must be Priss."
"Must be," said Priss. "You came in on the Triple H?"
"Yeah," nodded Shego.
"Not bad," nodded Priss. She turned her attention back to her magazine. "My first bike was a Triple H. Be careful on the outside 'S' on the test track."
"Thanks," said Shego.
Priss pushed her sloppy bangs to the side with the back of her wrist. "Just don't touch my 916 and we'll get along fine."
"Fine with me," said Shego and went to wait for the rest of the planning team.
Within a month, however, things had soured a bit.
"You're a goddamn idiot!" shouted Shego, shaking her fist.
"Bite me!" snapped Priss and pushed a stack of papers off the conference table.
"Uh, guys..." said Nene Romanova, a short, redheaded eighteen year old girl with blue eyes that looked sheepishly between the two giants. "Can we just calm—"
"You're no better than the jackasses at the national superbike," continued Priss.
"Every competition has regulations," said Shego, rolling her eyes. "You can't just let anything go, or you'll end up with nitro injected bottle rockets being ridden alongside old hogs."
"Hey, if you can hang onto a nitro boosted Kawasaki Ninja, I say power to you!" said Priss. She mock saluted to the imaginary rider.
"You just want to ride massive eight cylinder engines in every competition," said Shego. "Engine size and restriction on modifications are the only way to have a race that highlights skill."
"Screw that, you know it's only a matter of time before regulations are undermined," said Priss. "It's never about skill, is about cheating your way to higher horsepower and torque. So why not just admit it? If you can get it to run on two wheels with a single operator, then you can race."
Shego shook her head. "Nobody is going to respect us! We'll be looked on as teenagers renting time at the Speedway." She sighed. "I would have thought of all people you would want the game to be about the rider's skill instead of some engineer's tricky cooling system."
"It is about skill," said Priss. "I dare you to pick up some rider off the street and put them on my bike. You have to be able to ride whatever beast you build and that's not a walk in the park."
"Or you could put a gyro in there and make it easier," said Shego.
"Only if you want to overload your bike with weight and bulk of such a thing," said Priss. "It's a motorcycle race, not a Segway race."
"You don't have to worry about weight if there is no weight limit!" Shego said loudly.
"You do have to worry about weight because every extra pound affects your ability to go fast and changes your drag coefficient." Priss raised her hands in the air. "It'll balance itself out!"
"Only if the manufacturers are on equal footing," said Shego. "Which they won't be if you can get an advantage from a bigger R&D budget! We have to use the existing races as templates and go from there, we can't do this ground up."
"Oh, look at you all suddenly knowledgeable about this garbage," Priss said mockingly. "What the hell do you know? Have you raced professionally?"
"Have you?" Shego said quickly.
"Yes, I have!" Priss said. "2008 National AND World Superbike."
"Bull!" spat Shego.
"What the hell do you want, a picture? A blue ribbon? Look it up, Sherbert."
"What the hell is that?" said Shego with a raised brow. "Sherbert? Is that supposed to be derogatory?"
"You just know your obsolete Triple H ain't got a prayer on my Ducati 916."
Shego stared at Priss. "You did not just insult my baby girl."
"I don't need to, it insults itself," said Priss. "What did you do, pull her out of a trash heap and slap on some green paint?"
Shego slammed her fist into the table and glared. "Don't you dare talk trash about my bike!"
"Or what? You'll lose to me in a race?" Priss scoffed.
"I'll kick your ass and then beat you in a race," said Shego.
"Hah! I see how it is; you have to disable your competition before racing them so your crap bicycle has a shot at them." Priss folded her arms and looked smug.
Then Shego jumped over the table at her.
*** KP – KP – KP ***
Kim slowly dabbed at the bruise on Shego's forehead with a cotton swab, causing the latter to wince while they sat on the couch in their apartment.
"Easy," said Kim quietly.
"It stings," said Shego with a scowl.
"Yes, obviously," Kim made a small smile. "Let me finish."
"Fine," sighed Shego and held as still as she could while Kim replaced the bandages. "You seem pretty at home with this."
"You get pretty good at this sort of stuff when you're out saving the world," said Kim. "Not always a nursing station to run to in the middle of Mongolia." She paused and looked contemplative. "Or a roommate."
Shego blew a short raspberry at Kim. The latter laughed in response.
"What a lousy day," said Shego.
"Not having fun with your new co-workers I see."
"That Priss girl has her head so far up her own ass she can see her lunch," said Shego.
Kim cringed. "That's... disgusting."
"Also true," Shego said stiffly.
"Metaphorically," added Kim, hopefully.
"Whatever." Shego rolled her eyes.
"She made fun of your baby girl, didn't she?" said Kim.
"Feh! The punk," said Shego and it was all scowls again.
"Does she at least look as bad as you?" asked Kim.
The corner of Shego's mouth turned slightly upwards.
"Figures," Kim tried to sound admonishing but she had trouble with the grin on her face.
"I'll make her feel worse tomorrow," said Shego.
Kim frowned. "How?"
"We're gonna race," said Shego with a smirk.
"Is that a... good idea? I thought you said she had a huge bike."
"Power isn't everything," said Shego.
"It's a lot, though," said Kim. She finished with Shego's bandage and started packing away the first aid supplies. She had initially questioned all the materials when she saw them on the shopping list earlier in the month, but now she knew better.
"My baby girl has got power; she'll show that punk," said Shego.
"You're both kind of punk-ish, though, right?"
"We're not alike at all," said Shego curtly and left to go make dinner.
"Suuuure you aren't," said Kim, smiling. She put the first aid box in the bathroom and came back out to watch Shego cook.
They learned very quickly early on that Kim shouldn't involve herself in cooking anything other than breakfast if they didn't want to go hungry. Shego was a little shocked at how poorly Kim did during her solo attempt and even more baffled at how she managed to subvert their joint cooking session... of a salad.
"How did your thing go?" asked Shego as she turned on the stove.
"Nothing to speak of yet," said Kim. "Some interviews, some auditions, we'll see if anything gets past the point they try to validate my social security number."
"Auditions?" asked Shego.
"Yeah, there's a number of theatre troupes in the area," said Kim. "A few are looking for some help. I'm not really much on acting, but I'm good with a harness. Maybe I could help out with a Peter Pan production or something."
"Hrm, is that something you want to get into?" asked Shego.
Kim shrugged. "I'm a little limited in my options since I don't have valid ID or probably much of a history here. I know quite a bit about international law and criminal justice, but those are the sorts of careers people look for references on."
"How on earth did you get around before now?" asked Shego.
"I have a driver's license," said Kim. "It's just not going to stand up to anyone running it through a computer. But for simple things, security checkpoints, basic identification, and so forth, it works." She shrugged. "Getting a stable job is a little more complicated than buying a bus pass, unfortunately."
"Yeah," nodded Shego absently.
"All else fails I can tutor," said Kim. "I was an excellent student and there appears to be a big market for high school and SAT prep tutors. I looked into it a little, I should be able to take a test and get certified without having to validate anything other than a mailing address."
"You can't work at Wendy's, but you can tutor children?" asked Shego.
"Hey, it's your crazy world, I'm just a guest," said Kim.
Shego just shook her head and tossed some oil onto her frying pan.
*** KP – KP – KP ***
"This is not what the test track is supposed to be used for," said Nene as she handed Priss her helmet. The brunette biker was sitting astride her crimson red Ducati 916 and casually revving the engine while staring over at Shego sitting a few feet away in a similar position.
"It's our track, we can use it like we want," said Priss.
"It's not our track, we are only renting it," sighed Nene.
"From our own subsidiary," said Priss. "It's ours, and today we're gonna use it to race."
Nene sighed. "Please don't kill yourself or Shego. I kind of like her."
Priss pulled her helmet on over her head and then stared at Nene.
"I'm sure you're giving me a face in here," said Nene. She wagged a finger at the biker. "I'm wise to your games."
Priss shrugged and looked forward, revving her engine loudly again.
Shego only shook her head in response to Priss' spectacle. "She's going to hurt so bad when this is over."
"Or you will," said Kim, holding onto Shego's helmet. "Why do I have to be here again?"
"You're witness to my greatness," said Shego.
"I'm sure I could be doing something else today," said Kim. "Something, you know, productive. Aren't you three supposed to be working on the rules for some race?"
"This is part of that," said Shego.
"No, no it isn't," Kim said without hesitation. "This is you showing off your codpiece to the dominant male."
"I'm not the dominant male?" asked Shego, with a raised brow.
"I don't know, she's got the bigger bike," said Kim.
"Size isn't everything," pointed out Shego.
"Well, excellent, we've hit every sexual cliché now." Kim rolled her eyes and then tossed Shego's helmet into the woman's hands. "Don't get yourself killed, Danny."
Shego put her helmet and looked at Kim. "Do I get a good luck kiss, Sandy?"
Kim sighed, reached up to Shego, and then forcefully shut her visor over her helmet. She turned and headed over to the sidelines where Nene was already standing. She nodded to the younger redhead and then paused and looked at her closely.
"Wow, you could be my sister," said Kim, surprised. She held out her hand. "I'm Kim Possible, I don't think we've formally met."
"Nene Romanova," said Nene, taking the hand delicately and shaking it slightly. "I don't think anyone's going to confuse us for one another, but I was surprised how much alike we are."
"I understand you're a computer genius," said Kim.
Nene blushed. "Genius is probably overstating things."
"You're eighteen and working for a millionaire," said Kim. "I would guess you're not mediocre at what you do."
"I guess not," said Nene. "I don't, you know, make a big deal out of it."
Kim looked out at the two racers getting ready to ride. She folded her arms with a sigh. "Be proud of who you are, it's the one thing that's truly yours."
"And what about you?" asked Nene. Kim looked back at her. "What do you do?"
Kim sighed again. "I mooch off Shego." She looked down and shook her head. "Its gotta change."
"You live to together, right?" said Nene.
"Yeah, right now we do," said Kim. "It's a long story, but I was hitchhiking across the country and Shego picked me up. We hit it off well and I rode along in her truck until Sylia offered her the job."
"And now you're here?" asked Nene. "Wow, you must have become good friends."
Kim smiled unevenly. "Yeah, we must have."
Nene looked at her strangely, but they were both then distracted by the sounds of the race starting. A tone indicated the racers needed to get ready, and a series of lights flashed red, then orange, then yellow, and finally green. Both racers launched from the starting line and flew down the straightaway.
*** KP – KP – KP ***
Shego shifted again and leaned heavily into the curve, touching her padded knee into the pavement as she came out of the straightaway and into the first turn. She had spent most of the morning studying the course to figure out what her approach was going to be on each turn to make the most of her bike's power. There was no question that the Ducati would produce more overall power than her Kawasaki Triple, even with the modifications Shego had made, but her lighter frame and higher torque would get her through the curves faster if she tackled them right.
Unfortunately, shortly after the start of the race, Shego realized that Priss had altered her bike as well and it wasn't just outpacing her on straight-aways but she was keeping remarkable pace on the turns as well. Shego was still faster, but unless the course was all zig-zags from start to finish, she would have to come up with a new approach on the fly.
Pulling out of the second curve, Shego ran her bike hard to boost ahead and then settled in a position to squeeze Priss' bike against the outside edge of the track. If she could maintain the position until they got into the S-curve then Priss couldn't use her bike's extra power and be forced to play on Shego's turf, where the latter biker was confident she was more skilled.
The short straight section before the curves was a tense one as Shego constantly was adjusting her position on the course trying to keep Priss behind her or to her right going into the initial left turn. Neither racer could see each other's face through the smoked plastic visors on their helmets, but Shego hoped that Priss was going crazy.
Coming up to the turn, Shego grinned as she squeezed herself even closer to Priss, further narrowing the area the other racer could work with without backing off and taking another approach, possibly giving up a lot of distance. Shego wasn't sure what Priss' capabilities were, but she figured with the narrow turn coming out of the first curve, the Ducati racer would have to slow dramatically down to avoid running straight off the course or flipping.
They both flew into the first curve of the 'S' shaped section of track. They were side by side, only a few inches apart thanks to Shego's planning. They were both leaning heavily into the turn, but Shego's proximity made it dangerous for Priss to tilt too far or risk colliding with Shego's bike. Despite the risk, however, Priss was getting exceptionally close.
Shego grinned as Priss suddenly braked coming out of the first curve and fell behind Shego as she quickly threw her weight the other direction to turn right into the second part of the 'S' track. Priss almost vanished from how fast she was breaking and Shego was surprised, but didn't look a gift horse in the mouth as she tried to keep her speed up as high as possible while sticking to the curve.
Shego was nearly laughing as she pulled ahead out of second curve and almost didn't see the sharply angled narrowing of the track before her rear wheel hit the bumper on the edge of the course and then grass. With the dramatically reduced traction, her wheel began sliding out from underneath her and skidding to the side.
She had experienced sudden losses of control before and she immediately tried to compensate, pulling herself back up and turning into the spinout. She pulled on her brakes and tried to slow her spin but with her wheels only occasionally touching dirt, it wasn't making much of a difference. She turned her wheel harder into the spin to get back on top of her bike.
With a lurch from her wheel hitting something in the grass, Shego felt every shift left and her bike bucked suddenly forward, throwing her up and over the handlebars. She instinctively tried to keep hold of her bike to bring it back under control and only succeeding in getting her self thrown faster downwards when the wheels twisted and the rear end of the bike popped up and began to tumble.
The first time Shego hit the ground she felt all the wind fly out of her lungs and one of the side panels of her bike strike her arm. While airborne again, she had only a microsecond to try and throw out her arm to break her fall before she was landing on her shoulder and twisting like a top against her helmet. Her legs were smacked hard by something she couldn't see and she heard the crash of her bike again before hiding the ground a third time and bouncing off at an odd angle to one side.
Like a cartwheel she toppled end over end, expelling the remaining energy the bike transferred to her and eventually landed in a heap near the side of the track where she first lost control. It was a full second later that she heard the scraping sound of her bike siding across some other part of the course. Then... silence.
Shego felt heavy, wet, and tired. She knew she'd been injured, hurt in some way, but she couldn't figure out where. Was she only hurt in one place or many? How many places could she be hurt in? She heard a ringing in her ears and wished it would stop. Something was dripping onto her face inside her helmet, but there could be no way she could see the source and her helmet felt way too massive to lift with just her neck alone. She needed some sort of help, like a crane.
Beyond the ringing she could hear something else, voices, or screams. Something that normally would be urgent but now seemed irrelevant. Something was wrong, Shego knew, she didn't need someone else to tell her.
Shego squeezed her eyes shut to try and shut out the ringing, but then found opening her eyes to be too tough afterwards and decided to leave them closed. She couldn't see much except dirt and grass anyway, so what use was it to look around?
Eventually the ringing started to fade, for which Shego was thankful. In fact, everything started to fade, drifting into a midnight black oblivion which was very welcome.
*** End Part One
A/N: Hey, Priss warned her about that second curve in the S...
Also, before someone comments, I know it's completely absurd that they'd still be figuring out the classes for the competition less than three months from the first match. But this is my fantasy world, where the Stingray Foundation holds enough clout that manufacturers would submit racers for a league game without even knowing all the rules or even the engine classes yet. It's not central to the story, so I ask you to indulge me here.
So where do we go from here, you might be asking yourself? Shego in an accident, Kim watching, and only a week into her new job. Any number of conflicts could arise from this.
This story was finished well in advance of this first chapter's posting, but if I get strong feedback, I may go back through and change things. So let me know what you think!
Next chapter on Wednesday!