All Things Probable IV
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The End of Team Probable
'Time for us to say goodbye, Chief.' said Grimm. He and Rhonda were standing just outside the wooden poles that marked the entrance to Kamp Kwitcherbeliakin. They had strapped all their things to the hover platform. It looked precarious, but Jade had assured them that the MRT thrusters could handle the load.
'We thank you, young Rhonda - for all your help. And to you too, Otaatoyiwa.' said Chief Sakituya. Several other tribe members were there as well, even Maze. He was looking uncomfortable, but at least his scowl was much less pronounced. 'You should be proud. Through your efforts, the entire world has been saved.'
Grimm nodded, but Rhonda ran up and gave Sakituya a hug. 'Thanks for everything.' she said. 'All of you.' Rueful squeaked and chittered, nodding his furry head.
'I do not say goodbye.' said the old Chief. 'For though this great storm is now over, I somehow doubt that the Great Bear has no other plans for this world, or for you.'
Rhonda sighed and ran a hand through her hair, twitching the eagle feather behind her ear. 'Figured as much.' she said. 'I guess... I'd better be prepared for a future return.'
'We look forward to that time, Katasiistsikoowa.' Sakituya smiled.
Rhonda looked up into Maze's eyes. 'How about you?' she said, 'No hug?'
Maze rolled his eyes and grimaced. 'Off with you.' he said, looking away. But then his expression softened a little. 'We will... be waiting when you come back.'
As they made their way to the hover platform, Rhonda muttered. 'Wow. From him, that was almost schmaltzy.'
As they boarded the platform and ascended, Grimm caught Rhonda and Rueful waving down at everyone. 'So...' he said curiously. 'Does this mean you're finally over your phobias about this place?'
'I guess.' Rhonda answered. They started moving off into the air. 'I think... someday we should move here.' she muttered.
It was with an odd sense of gravity that Grimm, Rhonda and Jade dismantled their work stations once they were all back in the cabin at the Probable Ranch. They packed up everything, getting ready for the return trip to Riddleton, and it wasn't long before the SUVs were loaded up.
Quinn and Jim shook hands outside near the front porch. 'Sure you don't want to stay here a while longer?' said Jim.
Quinn chuckled. 'After this global upheaval, for some reason the DOD wants me back at the office as soon as possible.'
Tina Probable smiled at them, standing next to Jim. 'Don't you all be such strangers.' she said. 'Same to you, Ms. Omo-sa. You're welcome here anytime.'
Jade smiled, still blushing, but looked almost fiercely at Josh, who was standing next to his mother. 'When I'm a little older, I'm gonna come back here and...' She paused, because Tina had frowned slightly and raised an eyebrow. '...date the heck out of you!' she finished.
Tina's frown evened out, and Josh smiled faintly. 'We'll look after Cinnamon for you until then.' he said with a nod.
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Rhonda and Jade didn't talk much on the chartered flight back. Mr. Probable's DOD connections had already arranged for the private jet, and since almost every other flight was still grounded by reason of the invasion clean-up, their flight plan went uninterrupted. But Rhonda and Jade kept glancing over nervously at Grimm. He was apart from the others, and simply kept staring out the window next to his seat. His face was curiously blank.
'Is he mad about something?' Jade whispered. But Rhonda only shrugged.
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Soon enough, they were back in Riddleton, at the end another SUV ride back to the Probable house. They had just finished unloading the equipment into the garage when Mr. Probable came in and called out. 'Grimm - come to my office for your mission evaluation.'
Grimm seemed nervous for some reason. But he turned and nodded to Rhonda. 'Help Jade get her own gear back to her place. Then come back and we'll have our own post-mission meeting.' Both Rhonda and Jade watched as he disappeared into the house.
Grimm had been in the study many times, being praised and criticized, during similar debriefings. The DOD had always been curious about the intel on the world's villains that he and the team brought back from their missions. But Grimm just wasn't sure about this one. This mission had seemed like their big break, a chance to get in with the CIA. Yet there was just so much of it that hadn't gone to plan, and some parts that he didn't feel like rehashing at all. He knocked softly, and the door was slightly ajar.
'Come in.' he heard his father say, his voice muffled by the door. Grimm entered. His father was seated behind his desk, looking almost inquisitorial. He motioned Grimm to a chair, which he squirmed into, and waited.
Mr. Probable thumbed through a small stack of papers on his desk, looking down at them as he read. 'Your uncle Jim authorized me to deliver the evaluation.' he started. 'I suppose you're curious to know how Jim felt about your performance, and if it's a prelude to future assignments.'
Grimm cleared his throat, which felt dry. 'Yes, sir.' he answered.
Mr. Probable kept flipping through pages. 'I could go over the details, what you did right, and where you blew it.' he said. 'And make no mistake, there were some humdingers on this one.'
Grimm was familiar enough with his dad's mannerisms to know that the worst thing he could do would be to start trying excuses. He also knew that giving his dad something to latch onto by speaking was a mistake. Even a nod, or some other gesture, would be fuel for a lengthy response. So he simply bit his lip and didn't answer.
Mr. Probable stared for a moment before going on. 'I could go into it all point by point. But - the long and short of it is, Jim agrees that you and the team ultimately delivered on your first job.'
Grimm felt some of the nervousness diminishing, as if it were being drained out like oil. Still, he did not allow a smirk onto his lips. He was sure his father had more to say.
'He feels that you and your team have great potential.' Mr. Probable said.
The emphasis on the last word made Grimm fidget in his seat. 'Why do I feel an 'except' coming on?' he said.
'Because there's always at least one.' said Mr. Probable. 'He says the errors made along the way during the mission have led him to say that he cannot hire you again - at this time.' Grimm felt an ashen cold inside him, but Mr. Probable was still speaking. 'However, he would be very interested in offering additional assignments, once you have completed an acceptable training period.'
Now Grimm was leaning forward with narrowed eyes. 'Training?' he said.
'Correct.' said Mr. Probable, straightening the paper stack. 'Both Jim, and I, feel that you and your team would benefit from further education. Namely, obtaining a college degree.'
Grimm winced. 'Seriously?' he said. 'You're using this to maneuver me into going to college?'
'Don't act like you're being singled out.' Mr. Probable said, and a faint smile was now on his lips. 'A college degree is pretty much the basic requirement for any agent getting into the CIA. Almost every agent of any stature has a well-rounded GED, and a lot of them have doctorates...'
Grimm made an exasperated sigh. 'And if I do this, then we'd get the job?'
'It would certainly boost your chances.' said Mr. Probable. 'Following an internship.'
Grimm's mouth fell open. 'An internship?' he said. 'That's just the modern day version of indentured servitude!'
'Which you will dutifully carry out and fulfill as intern agents at Global Justice.'
Grimm was speechless for nearly two minutes. 'Global Justice?' he said. 'You actually want us to work, free of charge, for those jumpsuit-crazy bricks? We've been running rings around them for...'
'This this will be your chance to smarten them up a little.' Mr. Probable cut in. 'And you're worrying yourself needlessly. The internship doesn't come until later in college. You'll have plenty of time to gear up for it - while passing your general education courses.'
'This is blackmail.' Grimm muttered. 'You're evil.'
'Like all of life, you can look on this as a burden - or an opportunity.' Mr. Probable answered. 'How you look on it, and act on it - will be your choice. That will be all.'
Grimm sighed, shook his head, and stood up. He had left the room and was closing the door when his dad spoke again. 'You can start by going through all the college application forms that you've been ignoring the last few months. Read up. You may like some of them.'
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'He whuh?' Rhonda squealed. She was in Grimm's room in the basement, with Rueful. 'College? We should get Jade in on this news...'
'Not yet.' Grimm sighed. 'Let her get her computer stuff set up. She won't be happy until that's done. In the meantime, you and I can talk it over since it affects us a bit more... directly.'
Rhonda was sitting in the computer chair, nudging it back and forth with her feet. 'Well... for starters, I thought you didn't want to go to college.' she said.
'I thought I didn't.' He answered. 'But it turns out my outlook on life after High School... may have been... overly cynical.'
Rhonda's mouth fell open, but even that didn't obscure an amazed smile. 'Grimm, is this you admitting you were wrong?' she said.
He leaned back in his chair. 'Perhaps.' he said, glancing aside.
'Who are you and what have you done with Grimm?' Rhonda said, and Rueful was making a noise that sounded like a chitter and a giggle.
'It's still Grimm talking.' Grimm answered, and he stood up and stepped away. 'He's just a little more mature now. Which is what everyone was asking for anyway.' He had moved over to their 'Wall of Humiliation'. One wall in the basement was covered floor to ceiling with squares of corkboard. Pinned to the wall were photos of many of the world's heroes. Team Go, Dr. Director, Team Impossible. There was a section with several photos of Kim Possible, her face in various states of anger or frustration. All of the photos had darts stuck into them. With a sigh, Grimm started pulling out the darts and stacking them on a nearby dresser.
'What's up?' said Rhonda. She had been there when they started the wall, and it was as much a fixture of his room as anything.
'It's time for me to own up to which one of us was the better team.' he said. 'Team Probable - or Team Possible. In the end - which team really did beat the other? Who won and who lost?'
Rhonda rolled her eyes. 'Are we back on that?' she said. 'I thought it wasn't important.'
'Maybe.' Grimm said, pulling out the last of the darts. Then he ran his hand over the first photo they had taken of Team Possible after their very first encounter. He was looking at it wistfully. 'Except... I always thought we were the better team. We fought them to a standstill at Stafford. Sure, they beat us later at Drakken's lair, but then we pulled a whopper against them with the Attitudinator and Zorpox. Then we fought them off at Yoyodyne. I always figured I was a few steps ahead of her while we were trying to bring you and Ron back from the Spirit World. Then after the golem caper, we pretty much got away scot-free. I thought that left us with a solid win record.'
Rhonda was surprised by how serious he looked. 'And it didn't?'
Grimm was tapping the photo with a finger. 'I don't think so. Not anymore.' he said. 'Because... in the end, they did beat us.'
'How?' said Rhonda. 'We never saw them again after the golem case, not really.'
'They didn't beat us physically.' said Grimm, shaking his head. 'There was no big, epic showdown with bloody knuckles - no fight to the finish in an exploding factory. But they won in a way that's deeper, and I think even more definitive.'
Rhonda shrugged, looking confused, prompting him to explain further.
'I started by trying to wipe them out as a team, not as individuals.' he said. 'Getting Kim to doubt herself. Trying to trick her and Ron into breaking up. I always figured if I could break them apart as a team, that would be the real win. Even with the Zorpox caper, I wasn't trying to vanquish Kim as much as break her spirit. And when I goaded her into hitting me, I thought I'd made her turn away from being good, just a little.'
Grimm kept looking at the photos, as if talking to, or admitting something, only to himself. 'Except, they're the ones who turned us good.' he said quietly. 'That time you spent in the Spirit World with Ron - it changed you. He changed you. You became a good person. And then... you turned me into a good person. So in the end... Team Possible won, because it's our team that's coming to an end.'
'Grimm?' Rhonda said, amazed. She'd never heard him talking like this before. 'Are you gonna call her up and tell her this?'
'Heck no.' he said with a short laugh and a shake of his head. 'But I'll admit it here in this room. I know when I'm licked. The Team Probable who fought and bedeviled Kim Possible is gone. There's no way we can go back to working for the villains, not now.'
Rhonda's mouth fell open again, but this time there was no smile. 'S...seriously?' she breathed, sounding like Motor Ed.
'Yep.' said Grimm, and now he was pulling the photos themselves off from the wall and stacking them in his hand. 'This is our last team meeting, I suppose. I'm gonna have to contact Jade and have her take down the website. I saw a couple emails from Dementor asking if we can get him some more tridiplatinum, we'll need to set up a spam filter to screen out our old client list. Team Probable is officially out of business...'
Rhonda jumped up, waving her hands, while Rueful slithered around her neck. 'Woah, woah, woah, woah!' she said. 'Who says we're out of business?'
Grimm paused. The wall was half clear of photos by now, a thick stack clenched in one hand. 'I thought this was what you wanted.' he said. 'We're not working for the bad guys anymore...'
'Yeah, but that doesn't mean we're not working anymore!' Rhonda said, putting her hands on her hips. 'We'll just be... changing our client base, that's all!'
Now Grimm was the one looking confused. 'What, hire out to heroes and hard luck cases?' Grimm said, shaking his head. 'Kim Possible has a lock on that already, and she's doing it for free. They win again.'
'We can still kick butt and earn a living at it.' said Rhonda, and her old wicked, lopsided smile was returning, a smile that Grimm thought had vanished forever after she came back from the Spirit World. 'I mean - what happened to joining the CIA and all that?'
Grimm blinked, surprised that Rhonda was the one saying this.
'We've still got boku bucks in stash from our mercenary work to get us through college and beyond.' said Rhonda with a wave of her arm. 'College is gonna keep us busy for a few years anyway, right? We'll just use the time to train up, so when we do land that pro gig, we'll be the kickiest-buttiest team of them all!'
Grimm saw the old enthusiastic gleam kindling in Rhonda's eyes, and felt it spreading to his own. 'Rhonda...' he said, but Rhonda was leaning towards him with a mischievous smirk.
'Besides - you're all about being a few steps ahead, right? Won't Possible and Stoppable be going to college too? We could see which of us graduates first. And if Kimmie wants to keep going on with her world-saving thing as an adult, who's she gonna wind up interning with?'
Grimm's smirk also returned as the light went on in his head. 'Global Justice.' he said.
Rhonda nodded. 'Just imagine the look on pom-pom's face when she sees us there.' she said. 'We could wind up competing with them for the plum assignments, and there's nuttin' she could do about it, because we'd be on the same side. And if we impress the bigwigs, they could put us in charge of the assignments - then Kim and Ron would have to take orders from us!'
Grimm couldn't hold back a laugh. 'Baby, you're the greatest!' he said. 'I always knew you were the smart one.'
'That mean we're still in business?' Both Rhonda and Rueful were looking at him with matching eager expressions.
Grimm sighed and nodded. 'All right.' he said. 'We don't shut down, we reboot. We'll coordinate with Jade to build a new client base, and re-negotiate with Leigh. If we pull enough clout interning with Global Justice, maybe she could end up paying us to be her clients.' He looked at the empty space he'd cleared out on the wall while fishing out some of the college brochures from his desk. 'We could build a whole new wall with fresh faces all around. Oh, the mind just boggles.'
Rhonda stood beside him and they slid arms around each other's waists, and Rueful perched on her shoulder. Their future paths were fully open and brand new, but somehow, they felt just as excited as if it were old times. 'You're a good man, Grimm.' said Rhonda, smiling. Then she gave him a sly look. 'But not too good!' she added, before they leaned together and kissed.
Author: A special thanks to everyone who has stuck with the "All Things Probable" series since its beginnings way back in 2007! It's odd to know it's been that long. The series started on inspiration from two sources - first was the Kim Possible TV Movie: So The Drama, which struck a chord with me, chiefly because of the story from Ron's perspective as the nice guy who never though he stood a chance, but somehow wound up with the girl at the end.
The second was the CaptainKodiak story, 'The Lotus Bloom', along with artwork supplied by online personality Lionheart. Those set me tapping my fingers and wondering, 'Why couldn't I try something like that?' But I wanted to try something different, and the market seemed cornered on darker KP style OC villains and characters. I set out to make new villains that were in keeping with the show. Challenging to Team Possible, but still funny and who might still fit in with the show's other villains. That set me wondering - who would the villains call if THEY needed help? And with that germ, the idea of an opposite team of teen mercenaries, who hired out to the villains, began to take hold.
What started out as a one-off story with All Things Probable turned into a sequel when I imagined a story where Zorpox returned, and what scheme he might launch to top the Mega Weather Generator. And the notion of using Team Probable to start the ball rolling just wouldn't leave my head.
From there, it was fan reviews that inspired the next stories. Many readers' questions, asking what powers Rhonda might have to mirror Ron's Mystical Monkey Power, gave rise to the side story 'Back to Kwitcherbeliakin', which introduced Maze as a villain character. And before that story had ended, I was already writing him into the third tale, "A Friend In Darkness", which was more ambitious and long. That was perhaps the zenith story from my original inspirations, and when that was done, the only thing I could think of was to write another story to top it all off for Graduation.
That last story took the longest for me to write, partly because my employment situations were interrupted several times. And partly because in my mind, the Graduation story just didn't seem to be flowing as easily as my other stories did. I had lots of big ideas, but they just weren't stitching together into a cohesive story the way I wanted. It took me some time to achieve that stitching in a manner that I felt was a good climax to the series, and to the evolution of Team Probable as characters in the Kim Possible universe.
It's been a long and fun ride, and like the rest of you, in many ways I'm sad to see it come to an end. But I felt the same way about the TV series, and that came to an end whether we wanted it to or not. There's an old show business adage, that you should always leave the crowd wanting more, rather than staying on the stage until they get tired of you. And I feel that this story caps the series well. Some readers may want more stories, like 'what would their college life be like', or 'when do they get married' and 'will the Lorwardians return' and such. But at this point, it's best to let the series stand here, at least for now. I have other projects that I need to move on to.
For the curious minded, I will only list some generalities that I had in mind, if the series were to carry on with more stories:
Grimm, Rhonda and Rueful wind up at the same college as Kim and Ron. Since Grimm and Rhonda are no longer mercenaries working for villains, Kim can't really 'do' anything about it, and they wind up as college rivals, though for the most part they avoid each other.
This carries on to professional life, when Grimm and Rhonda intern at Global Justice, to get experience before moving on to become special agents for the DOD. Kim and Ron also work for Global Justice, and Teams Possible and Probable wind up as rivals for assignments.
Grimm and Rhonda do eventually get married. Rhonda wants to move to Kamp Kwitcherbeliakin to look after the camp, when Chief Sakituya becomes too old to maintain the place on his own. Maze visits periodically to help continue 'training' Rhonda, though the two are never fully friendly with each other. He gets annoyed because Gentle Paw's cubs keep stealing his moccasins.
Jade and Josh wind up dating. Jade spends a summer at the ranch helping Mrs. Probable tend horses, and gets in much better shape because of the experience.
There are other dangers that arise, but I wrote nothing specific. The return of the Lorwardians seemed a bit farfetched and difficult to write. Having Team Probable working against his former clients had potential, but in my mind, I never really made Team Probable fully-fledged 'good guys'. Events in real life are rarely ever that solid and clear cut. And I don't think they should be for the All Things Probable series either. They were always leaving their opponents wondering and anticipating the next encounter.
I hope you all have enjoyed All Things Probable, as individual tales and as an overall series. For the time being, I bid the story a fond adieu. I will certainly still be trawling the Kim Possible fanfiction pages. It was all of YOUR stories that inspired me in my beginnings, after all! And someday I hope to return with future additions, or additional media. After all, because of time constraints, I kind of gave up illustrating "Graduation" barely into the fifth chapter. There are still a lot of images I should be drawing...
Thanks again to all of you!