Update: Sorry. My scene breaks vanished after uploading. I've added them back in now.
A Period of Silence:
Shego spun wildly as she fell towards the Earth, clinging desperately to the tattered satchel that she hoped still contained a working parachute. Given the fiery fight that immediately preceded her ejection from the plane, she wasn't certain anymore, and that doubt was pulling on her as he tried to control the freefall. She'd been in sticky situations before, but the rapidly approaching snow covered ground was making it hard to think of any that compared to this one. Or what she did to get out of such a bind.
Her exposed skin burned from the cold and harsh air that buffeted her, and she found her fingers starting to feel numb. That made it hard to maneuver herself through the single remaining loop on the parachute. She pulled the strap tight once she had gotten her arm and leg through, but couldn't feel it getting any tighter. She hoped that was just the numbness and not a failure of the only remaining way of tying the life-saving device to her.
Spreading her arms and legs, she quickly got control of her spinning and swiftly controlled her fall so that she was heading chest first towards the snow. Making her surface area as large as possible to slow the fall, she wrapped her fingers around the pullstring on the parachute and hoped for the best.
The sudden jerk was like getting shot in the chest and Shego felt the wind get knocked out of her. The strap going between her legs had dragged across her left thigh creating a wholly different burning sensation there. Her speed had slowed dramatically, but she knew it still wouldn't be a gentle landing, no matter how much snow blanketed the ground.
Slowly getting air back into her lungs, Shego craned her neck to look behind her. The parachute was thankfully intact, but a little small. She worried about how fast she was falling and if she would end up breaking her legs upon impact. There was little she could do about it, so it nagged at her as the ground rushed forward.
Less than a minute later, Shego struck the snow. It was deeper than she had thought, providing a small cushion, but her legs still ached as she finally hit the ground, her knees striking the packed snow and sending a shock up her spin and into her jaw. The parachute fell with a clap behind her, and finally she lay still, save for her breathing.
The chill of the snow forced her to move again when she feared the encroaching frostbite on her nose. Lifting herself up on her arms, Shego pulled her face out of the snow and looked around. Immediately the pain in her side flared up and made her falter. With a deep breath, she tried again, and managed to keep herself up long enough to confirm she was in the middle of a snowy plain, with little more than distant mountains to the east to guide her.
Sitting up onto her knees, Shego pressed her left hand into the slowly bleeding wound on her side and used her right hand to pull off the strap from the parachute. Alive! She'd made it. But this was only the beginning. She had no equipment, no snow gear, no phone or GPS. Somehow she had to make it to civilization with nothing but her wits and her powers to get her there.
She breathed slowly as she felt the chill sink deep into her body. She didn't have much time. She had to get back to Kim before it was too late or they were both dead.
With a heave, Shego pushed up onto her feet and started walking slowly south. She ignited her green fire and let it engulf her, protecting her just a little from the elements. Her wound ached from the effort, and it only protected her from the worst of the cold, but it would have to be enough. Too much more effort than this and she'd never be able to sustain it.
With each step it felt like she was wearing lead boots that just got heavier with every second. She looked up at the setting sun. It was going to get dark soon, and even colder still. Would she even make it tomorrow?
What is it you're afraid of?
Shego looked at Kim lying beside her with an arched brow as she breathed quickly. "Afraid?"
Kim pulled their sheets up on her chest to cover her naked body as she stared at the woman in bed with her. She was covered in sweat and the cool night was giving her goosebumps. She figured Shego, with her inner fire, never had to worry about getting a chill.
"Yeah," nodded Kim.
"This is your after sex talk?" said Shego with a stare.
"It's not 'after sex talk.' It's just talk," said Kim. "That happens to be after sex."
Shego rolled her eyes and put her hands behind her head. She made no effort to cover up after their lovemaking. She never did. Others might say she were shameless. Kim just believed she was incredible... especially bathed in moonlight as she was right now.
"You sometimes get this look," said Kim. "Like... I don't know. Like you're terrified of something just out of sight."
Shego sighed loudly and dramatically. "I'm fine," she said after the show.
"Well if that isn't a cover up I don't know what is," Kim said matter-of-factly.
Snaking her hand down to grip the sheets, Shego rolled onto her side to stare straight into Kim's green eyes. "That's not a cover up," she said. Then she yanked the sheets further up over Kim's face and exposing her pale, narrow ankles. "This is a cover up!"
Kim squawked and the two tumbled around the bed fighting over the maroon sheets, each trying to wrap the other within the cotton cloth and neither making particular headway until they careened off the edge of the bed. Kim landed on her back onto the rug below and quickly caught Shego in her arms before her lover could hit the floor.
They laid that way, mostly still, breathing heavily while staring into each other's eyes and smiling.
"Don't be afraid," said Kim, keeping her gaze locked.
Shego looked away for a moment, less than a second in total. "Of course," she said. "What do I have to worry about with Kim Possible around?"
Kim's smile faded. "Sheeg..."
"It's nothing, I'm fine," Shego said firmly. "We survived Allucinere. What could be worse?"
This time Kim looked uneasy. "Don't tempt fate."
The storm settled in over the icy landscape less than an hour after Shego started walking, obscuring what few landmarks remained in her vision just as she entered a sparsely populated forest. The steadily increasing wind was slightly blunted by the trees, but she was no longer sure if she was heading south, especially after the ground starting sloping upwards. Was there a mountain in front of her originally? She was no longer sure.
She was sure she should have taken her parachute with her, in the least to cover up against some of the chilling wind. Perhaps to make a shelter out of it as well given how dark it was getting.
She stopped and leaned against the bark of a tree. She pulled her hand from the wound on her side and looked at the red crystals on her fingertips. She was having a hard time keeping up against the cold, especially on her left side where she was bleeding. The fire that normally comforted her like an electric blanket actually burned there, as if her exposed flesh were being cooked alive.
Shego leaned her head back against the tree. She was exhausted. She wanted to rest. To sleep away the pain and the cold. She knew she couldn't, though. She knew lying down was tantamount to dying and she wasn't ready for that. Not yet. Not while Kim was in danger.
She tried to envision her smiling face to push her forward, but all she could see was the frown. Kim frowning at her. Disappointed in her. It lanced through her worse than the stab wound in her side.
"Kimmie..." groaned Shego as she felt tears come to her eyes and freeze on her cheeks. She rolled off the side of the tree and trudged onwards and upwards.
She's completely out of control.
"Who is?" asked Shego as she walked – ten minutes late – into the Monday morning Global Justice status meeting carrying a box of scones and a half-caff-double-frap-mocha-choco-latte-mezzo- expresso.
"Well, how nice of our HenchCo representative to join us," said Director Beverly Cartwright, who was sitting at the head of the table populated with over a dozen other GJ agents. "Especially since it's - once again – HenchCo's that's causing us headaches."
With a snort, Shego tossed the box of scones onto the table and sat down sideways in her chair. "Please. If someone buys an ice pick from Smarty Mart and goes on a stabby spree, you don't blame Smarty Mart for it."
"Unfortunately, it's not a ice pick," said Commander Ferris, a tall, aging man sitting beside Cartwright. "It's a Phased Coil Mark 7 Firestarter."
Shego grinned and poked Wade Load, who was sitting beside her, in the side. "Oh, I like that one. There's no Mark one through six, you know. Call something a Mark one and people think you're pretentious. A mark seven, however, speaks of refinement."
"Kudos to your marketing team," continued Director Cartwright. "But a maniac has got a hold of one and is tearing up Go City."
"Then it's a good thing I brought you those specs to develop a counter weapon," said Shego. "That was... what? Three weeks ago? Did you do anything with them?"
"Budget directives from HQ prevented—" started Wade, but he was cut off.
"Innocent people are dying who would never have had a chance to use your counter weapon!" said Director Cartwright.
Shego swung her legs down off the arms of her chair and placed her elbows on the conference table. "People are always dying," she said firmly. "If it's not Firestarters, its plasma pistols, or rifles, or..." she shrugged. "Ice picks. At least I gave you a way to safely disable the Firestarters from a distance."
"The people of Go City are surely thankful," said Cartwright.
"Who is this wacko anyway?" asked Shego after rolling her eyes.
Commander Ferris spoke up again. "She calls herself Scarlet Vengeance. Age twenty-four, red hair, five foot eleven. Former name was Sheila Aspries of Shelton, a suburb of Go City." He laid down the folder in his hands. "We have eight agents there right now trying to get her under control."
Shego leaned far back in her chair and stared at the florescent lights in the ceiling. "You have a quick way to get there?"
There was some murmuring before Wade spoke up. "Why?"
Shego sat up and spread her arms. "So I can go work my magic." She stood and gracefully slipped around the back of her chair. "Or were you just complaining for the fun of it?"
"You are not a member of this agency," warned Director Cartwright.
"Consider it a perk our wonderful working arranagement," said Shego as she turned. Carefully keeping her coffee from spilling she headed for the door.
"Be careful," said Wade quietly.
Shego stopped by the exit and looked over her shoulder. "I'm not afraid of a little fire."
The yawning chasm before her was deeper than her fire could light it after dusk. A couple tossed fireballs into the dark became tiny green spots of light before vanishing entirely, either because the light no longer reached her through the howling storm or because they struck ground hundreds of feed down. Either way, it didn't bode well for climbing or jumping.
Backing down off the edge and tucking herself behind a large tree trunk, Shego did her best to catch her breath and get her energy up again. Neither was coming easily, especially since she had her fire running full strength to keep away the sub-zero temperatures. In fact, the tree beside her was starting to burn from the brief contact with her shoulder. The agonizing pain in her side subsided a little while ago, and Shego hoped it wasn't due to shock. It at least made the trek easier in the short term.
The problem Shego now had was determining what to do next. After the storm settled in, she had lost track of which direction was south and now that the path she was walking was barred, she wondered if she should go right or left or just turn around. If she wasn't in such a bad state she would have tried to jump and then climb up the other side, but even she wasn't so reckless to think she was in any condition for that. No, she had to walk, but every minute she went in the wrong direction, was two minutes more that Kim was in danger.
Kim... she had to get back to her. Rest wasn't an option until they were together again. No matter how much she wanted to sleep.
Right. She would go right. Using her free hand to push herself off the tree, she walked along the ridge heading – by her reckoning – west. She immediately felt the fatigue hit her like a fist to the chest but she pressed on. The storm couldn't last forever and she couldn't wait it out without going mad worrying or, even worse, falling asleep in the snow.
After another twenty minutes she felt her feet going numb. She willed her fire to come on even stronger and she glowed in a pale green light. Under normal circumstances she imagined she would look like a walking bonfire, but the wind and cold paired with her fatigue were severely limiting the effectiveness of her power.
Over the din of the blustery wind, she heard a howling coming from the wood. She stopped and immediately gazed into the trees trying to find the source. She hadn't seen anything alive out here since landing, so it hadn't occurred to her that she was in wolf country. Surely no animal would approach her while she blazed like the sun.
But then again, her power was so weak now she probably did little more than dimly glow... making her all that much more noticeable in the storm.
The howling came again and it was much closer. A second voice joined it coming from deeper within the forest. Was it a whole pack? Were they hunting her? Surely not in this weather? Did wolves care?
Shego cursed her indecision. She needed to focus on the tangibles. Either she was about to be attacked or she wasn't. If she wasn't, she was wasting time. If she was... there was really little left she could do to protect herself, so it didn't matter. She turned back and kept walking along the ridge.
The reflective eyes emerged from the forest ten minutes later. Shego counted four pairs as she walked. A small pack, but even one wolf would be deadly in her condition. She watched as they kept pace, staying between her and the wood, studying her.
They probably don't know what to make of me, she thought. A glowing human in the snow. Had they ever seen such a thing before?
The wolf escort continued for another few minutes without much changing other than Shego's sweating as she anticipated the attack at any moment. She decided during that time that the chasm was her only real recourse. She would jump and hope to be able to stop herself on the way down before she was skewered by whatever jagged rocks lay below. It would only take her five steps to get to the edge and then a single moment of steeled will to jump. Would she have enough time?
She moved closer to the edge as she walked just in case.
You won't get rid of me that easy.
"I'm not trying to get rid of you," said Shego as she pulled her trusty green and blacks on. "I'm just trying to quickly resolve this."
Kim put her hands on her hips while the two of them stood in their bedroom. "Then we should do it together."
"You are out of the hero biz," said Shego.
"So are you!" said Kim. "I can't see how it makes any more sense for you to do this than for me." She shook her head. "I'm coming."
"No, you're staying," said Shego as she finally finished attaching the clasp around her collar. "This is HenchCo business."
"People are getting hurt, it's everyone's business," said Kim. She ran into the closet and pulled out her purple top and black pants, slipping them on quickly and smoothly. Her boots were in her hand when she stepped out and caught sight of Shego trying to flee out of the bedroom. "Shego!"
Kim caught up with her just before reaching the door.
"I don't want you there!" said Shego loudly. "It's not... safe."
"Of course it's not safe," said Kim. "What kind of excuse is that?"
"It's been years since Allucinere," said Shego. "You're out of practice."
"You know that's not true."
Shego scoffed and tried to leave again. Kim grabbed her firmly by the arm and pulled her back roughly. "Where do you get off trying to protect me? I'm Kim Possible!"
"You might get hurt," said Shego forcefully.
"So might you," replied Kim. "That's the idea! That's why I want to come!"
"I couldn't bear it if something happened to you." Shego voice was barely a whisper and she looked away.
Kim reached out and gently touched Shego's cheek, guiding her face back to her. "Hey. Do you think it would be any easier for me If something happened to you?"
Shego looked wide eyed and wildly at Kim. Her jaw slightly opened as if she were about to speak but couldn't find the words. She said nothing.
Kim waited, and the longer she did the more she began to frown. "You do?" she finally said, a little aghast. Her next words were undeniably tinged with annoyance. "You think I could just brush that off?"
Shego pulled her head away from Kim's touch and then turned her back to her. She stood still, unmoving, unspeaking.
"You think this means less to me than you?" said Kim loudly.
Shego's head sunk for a moment, then she quickly ran for the door, opening it and slipping through in a single awkward motion.
Kim just stared for a moment, then frowned deeper and quickly followed behind.
Shego tripped in her fatigue, and that was what finally caused the wolves to act. They bounded towards her, the pack of four, and it was only years of instinct clawing their way to the surface that kept Shego from being mauled.
Her hands quickly went towards the jaw of the lead wolf and she rolled it over her body, tossing it towards the chasm. She didn't have the strength to make it all the way, but the wolf at least got close enough to the edge it had to scramble to say on top. The next two wolves came at the same time and under a second later. She had no choice but to drop the her fiery protection from the elements and throw everything she had into two fireballs aimed at the two wolves. They took the shots square in the chest and looked slightly scorched as they swerved away from the source of the mystic fire.
That left the fourth wolf easy access to a weakened prey, and it swiftly sunk its teeth into Shego's thigh.
Shego screamed and began punching the wolf in the head to get it to let go, but the beast held on even tighter with each strike. She felt waves of agony from the bite and the wound on her side decided to ache again to make things worse. Her vision blurred and she felt heavy and lethargic. She kept hitting the wolf in the snout and tried to aim for the eye sockets to no avail. Her arms felt like lead and she wasn't sure she had more than a few seconds left in her.
She mind screamed at her body to get up and fight longer, but it was just too much. The fight, the fall, the long walk, the cold, and now the wolves. There was a limit to how much someone could by sthemselves and Shego was convinced this was it. She was alone, what could any expect of her? Forever alone.
"Shego!" came a shout from the darkness and suddenly there was a flurry of motion she could barely track.
Someone new had arrive and was jumping, punching, and throwing the wolves back. The figure grabbed the wolf that had a hold on Shego and effortlessly pryed its jaw open before throwing the beast into the rest of the pack.
The wolves squared off against the tightly bundled newcomer, assessing the threat before them, before leaping forward at once to attack. However, the figure simply spun and slipped its way through the charge and wrapped its arms around the shank of the largest of the wolves and threw it deep into the wood. The other three were quickly struck, dizzied, and sent fleeing back into the dark.
Then, the figure turned to look down at Shego, who was only barely hanging onto consciousness at this point. The figure was masked, but was clearly a short statured man, who knelt down beside her and calmly pulled down his hood and lifted his goggles and mask.
Shego thought her eyes were playing tricks on her. "Stoppable?" she said.
The man who looked like Ron Stoppable shook his head seriously, leaving Shego confused only for a moment.
"Beta," Shego then said.
Beta the Stoppabot reached down and gently lifted Shego into his arms. "Come on," he said. "There's shelter nearby."
I can't believe you're still alive.
Shego and Kim stood several paces away to either side of the criminal calling herself Scarlet Vengeance in the flaming wreckage of downtown Go City. Shego knew her by a different name, though.
"Just alive?" said Scarlet Vengeance. She raised her arms up as they burned with a deep crimson flame that climbed high above her head. In one hand she held the silvery Firemaker gun. "Surely you have more to say than that." She cackled loudly.
"Mason told me you were dead, 459," said Shego.
Scarlet laughed again. "Is that really what he said?" Then she sneered. " 457."
Shego thought back to two years ago when she was trapped in a VersaGene containment room while her symbiote was trying to take over her boyd. She narrowed her eyes when she hit upon the correct memory.. "He said you didn't survive the bonding process."
"Ah, right you are," said Scarlet. "I didn't survive." She lowered her hands and stroked her side tenderly. The flames from her arms dancing up her body but leaving it untouched. "But my beloved sister restored me afterwards and ever since we've been closer than any two beings have ever dreamed."
"Sister?" said Kim, sounding a little grossed out.
"Her symbiote," said Shego. "I see you gave yourself over to the madness in exchange."
"What madness?" asked Scarlet. "Is it madness to be devoted? To be united in heart and body and soul? To never be alone?"
"And this?" Shego gestured to the destruction around them. "This is sane to you?"
"This is vengeance," purred Scarlet.
"I've heard," said Shego. "Vengeance on what? On who? Mason I could understand, but these people... they don't deserve this."
"But they are terribly alone," said Scarlet, wrapping her arms around herself. "They don't hear the voice in their heart. I need to help them."
"That's the symbiote, 479," said Shego. "Normal people don't have a voice in their heart."
Scarlet stepped closer to Shego, who retreated backwards in kind. "But you do, don't you? You have your own sister that loves you."
"My symbiote was not kind," said Shego sternly. "I quieted its voice."
That, as it turned out, was the wrong thing to say.
Scarlet exploded into a screaming ball of fire that quickly surged forward towards Shego as the flames grew brighter and larger. "YOU SILENCED YOUR SOUL MATE?" she shrieked in fury.
Shego scrambled backwards and then turned into an all out run as the ball of fire grew and flew into the air in pursuit. She flung several balls of green fire back at Scarlet to slow her down, but the tiny attacks were consumed by the red flames and became part of it. Two spots of green circling Scarlet's red sun.
"We cannot create the flames, but we can control them!" boomed Scarlet as she soared overhead.
"Oh damn," said Shego as she climbed quickly over the wreckage. "Aaaaand, she can fly. Why can she fly?" She shook her head. "I can't fly."
Shego woke with a start to find herself wrapped in a blanket and lying in a cave next to a small propane furnace. A squared kettle was sitting on top of the heat source and gently steaming while a metal mug filled with instant coffee grounds sat next to her. She looked around the dimly lit cave and found it to be only a few dozen feet deep with rough, natural walls and narrow opening out into the landscape. A small drift of snow had crept a few feet in from the mouth of the cave, and standing just beyond that, looking out into the storm, stood Beta.
He was still wrapped in white and gray winter gear, but had his hood down exposing his short blond hair, pale freckled skin, and the nose and jaw line of Ron Stoppable. He was standing completely still and simply looking out into the snow.
Shego slowly pulled the blankets off her shoulders and found her wounds had been cleaned and bandaged, and she no longer ached, implying that she'd been given some sort of painkiller. She rubbed eyes to wipe the sleep away and started to stand.
"Easy," said Beta without turning. "Drink the coffee. There's some jerky in the bag as well."
Shego looked around and then noticed the open backpack leaning against the back wall of the cave in the dark. Knowing there was food inside immediately helped her realize she was starving. She quickly dug through the bag and pulled out a freezer bag full of dried beef. She grabbed a piece and chewed on it quickly.
The coffee was next. She poured the hot water from the kettle into the mug and watched it quickly turn dark. She stirred it quickly with a spoon from the bag and took a sip. She felt way better than she had in hours.
"How long?" asked Shego as she approached Beta while holding the bag of jerky and the mug.
"Only four hours," said Beta. "Sunrise will be soon and hopefully the storm will pass by then."
"Four hours!" shouted Shego. "Kimmie—"
"I know where they are," said Beta, cutting Shego off. "We can make it there in forty minutes if we hurry. But it's best not to approach until daylight."
Shego frowned. "How do you know?"
Beta finally turned away from the dark storm and looked at Shego. "That woman, Sheila Avaries? She has been hiding out in a VersaGene storage facility up here."
"Storage facility?" asked Shego, incredulously. "What the hell are they storing in the arctic circle?"
Shego's jaw hung open for a moment then she stuck a piece of jerky in and chewed absently. "They sent her body here," finally she said.
"And then she woke up," said Beta. "It's the closest thing to home she can remember. I figured she'd be back." He nodded and looked out at the storm again. "I was right."
Shego sipped her coffee and then shook her head. "Why are you even involved? How did you get here?"
"We were tracking a couple targets here last year when I stumbled on the facility," said Beta. "Been keeping an eye on it ever since. Last week there was an explosion of infrared and yesterday your girl crawls out."
"'We' who?" asked Shego slowly.
Beta looked at Shego suspiciously. "It's nothing evil."
"Who?" repeated Shego.
"I'm not deceiving anyone who doesn't deserve it," added Beta.
"Who?" insisted Shego.
Beta hesitated for another moment under the stare. "Doctor Director."
Shego blinked. "Betty?" she said.
Nodding, Beta turned away from the storm and walked back over towards the furnace. "Not all the PossiBots were accounted for after Carcassonne," he explained. "Betty suspected some had escaped the range of the shutdown command. She believed it was appropriately ironic that I would be used to hunt down the ones that remained." He picked up the kettle and poured himself a cup of coffee. He blew briefly over the surface of the cup before taking a sip.
"You chased PossiBots here?" asked Shego.
"A year ago I did," said Beta. "They were heading for Alaska for some reason. The facility was a surprise and... well, Betty does not like surprises."
"I'm aware," said Shego with a nod.
"She investigated and found the ties back to GeneNominal," said Beta. "Somehow in the merger with VersaGene, 'official' paperwork of the place was lost. So, here it sits, largely unmanned, and out of prying eyes." He sipped the coffee again. "So I left a few cameras, a couple taps into the computer systems, and moved on. Then last week, they go haywire. I was Murmansk at the time, so it took me a while to tidy things up there and come here. Good thing you glow in the dark on infrared as badly as Scarlet does or I might not have noticed you at all."
"How do you know about—" started Shego.
"Betty's pretty tapped in," said Beta. "She knows what's going on in the world."
Shego studied Beta's stoic face, the face she'd seen several times in the last two years being worn by a different person. It was a little unsettling.
"What were you doing in Murmansk?" she asked.
"Beta..." warned Shego.
"You and Kim are done, remember?" said Beta. "You don't need to know. We go here and there and do what needs to be done without Global Justice bureaucracy."
"So you get to be outside the law?" said Shego.
Beta smiled. "That's pretty rich, coming from you." He put the cup down and pointed directly at Shego. "This is all because of you, you know. Betty never would have come to me if she hadn't seen you do it first. Bad people doing good things. You set the standard."
"I'm not a bad person," said Shego.
Beta nodded. "No, of course you're not. That's the point." He spread his palms slightly. "Nobody is this thing called 'good' or 'bad', they're what they do and nothing more. We do good things for people. It doesn't matter that we are both criminals."
"I'm not a criminal anymore," said Shego.
"I mean Betty and me," said Beta.
"Oh." Shego looked sheepishly away. After a moment she frowned and looked back. "Just the two of you?"
"What do you do for money, then?"
He smiled. "Betty had a lot of contingency plans in place before she left GJ."
She's coming back again.
Shego pulled hard to the side and rolled her jet around the beam of bright red fire that erupted from the flaming figure in the sky ahead. The belly of her jet scored black as they narrowly got out of the path of the beam. She quickly leveled herself and pulled back on the throttle to try and make up the distance between them.
"You okay back there?" Shego called over her shoulder.
Kim nodded as she pressed her face up against the glass to see where the fiery column went after it missed them. She tried to look down past the wing of the jet but found it difficult. She glanced at the cockpit screens. "We're now over the Hudson Bay," she said. "Still heading north."
"Where the hell is she going?" Shego wondered aloud. "Should I just let her go?"
"Who knows where she might show up next if we lose her now," said Kim. "Keep after her."
Shego shook her head. "This is quickly getting out of control."
"Wasn't much in control to begin with," said Kim. She tipped her head. "Still wish you left me behind?"
"YES," Shego said firmly. "More than ever."
"Hmph," Kim snorted as she crossed her arms. "Some thanks I get for saving your sexy butt."
Shego sighed. She probably would have been a goner if Kim hadn't dowsed Scarlet when she did. Without her flames, the woman was just crazy, instead of crazy powerful. Even backed into a corner, Shego could easily take a simply insane person. She would have, too, if they had any idea the extent of Scarlet's powers. They had no idea a simple match was enough to ignite her again.
"We need a plan," said Shego. "We can't let her go again."
"She way more reckless than you," said Kim. "We need to knock her out if we're going to take her back."
Shego nodded. "The only problem is getting close enough—"
"LOOK OUT!" yelled Kim suddenly.
Shego looked up to see Scarlet suddenly come back around and fly straight at the jet, her face a flaming pyre of fury. There was no time to turn away from the woman, so Shego pulled back as hard as she could on the stick.
The jet lurched upwards, screaming in defiance as they climbed. Scarlet soared past beneath them, but Shego knew she'd come around in a instant. Rolling to the side, she armed the missiles and activated the targeting computer.
Kim pressed her palms against the glass to steady herself as the jet jerked around. She tried to look out the back of the cockpit. "I can't see her," she said urgently.
Shego dipped the nose of the jet down and rolled left to try and get a better angle on Scarlet. Unfortunately they were in the clouds now and their visibility was poor. They couldn't find her anywhere.
"Keep your eyes peeled," said Shego as she leveled out again. Her hands gripped the stick tightly, ready for a split second turn.
"I still don—" started Kim, then the jet shook violently as something impacted it from below. Shego pulled with all her might to pull out of the sudden veer to the right but couldn't compensate. Then the jet shook again and part of the one of the wings exploded in a plume of black smoke.
"We're hosed," yelled Shego over the cockpit alarms which were now going full blast. "Get ready to eject!"
Then the jet shook again and Scarlet landed directly on the nose of the plane casuing the tip to turn black from the heat. She took a fire covered fist and punched it into the cockpit glass, splintering it and leaving a gaping hole in front of the pilot's seat.
Shego squinted at the sudden rush of air in her face and tried to pull the stick to the side again to roll Scarlet off the plane. The control stick was unresponsive, and as second punch from Scarlet punctured the fuselage to Shego's left and sent shards of metal flying into the cockpit. Something sliced into her gut as the hole quickly widened from the air pressure and winds.
"Damn it," growled Shego as she reached for the bright yellow and black handle next to her seat. With a yank, she caused the exploding bolts along the cockpit to go off sending the glass dome flying straight into Scarlet's face. The piece of glass and the fiery villain sailed off into the clouds.
"Well, that worked!" yelled Kim over the sound of wind. She had her eyes closed and was hanging onto her seatbelts for dear life.
"Pull your release!" screamed Shego as loud as she could. She wrapped her fingers around the red handle next to her but waited for the sound of Kim's seat first.
"It's stuck!" yelled Kim after several ineffectual grunts.
Shego grit her teeth and then dug her fingers into the fuselage beside her. With her free hand she pulled loose her latches and tried to climb back into the wingman's seat. She found Kim there, pulling desperately on the ejector lever, her eyes tightly held shut against the wind. Shego wrenched her head down near the seat and saw why the lever wasn't working. It had been melted by the flames from Scarlet's second punch and was now fused to the rest of the jet.
Shego lifted her head up and reached behind Kim's seat and ignited her green fire as hot as it would go in order to melt through the casing that contained the parachute. She clawed off the top half of the seat and found the pouch within, pulling it out with her non-flame-covered hand.
She pushed the parachute into Kim's arms.
"Hang onto this!" yelled Shego into Kim's ear. The redhead nodded as Shego went to cut through the seatbelt with her fire.
Then Scarlet flew back blowing away the other wing entirely and they started to spin as they fell like a rock out the sky.
Shego felt the world lurch under her and she found herself hanging onto Kim's seatbelts as the force of the spin threatened to fling her free of the falling jet. She tried to pull herself closer to Kim with her arms but the centripetal force was too great for her arms to overcome.
She stared, wide eyed, at Kim who stared back and the world spun around them. Eternity flashed before her eyes.
Then Kim shook her head and reached out to grab Shego tightly. She gathered up as much of Shego's outfit as she could in her fist and then put her other hand onto the seatbelt latch.
"DON'T—" Shego started to yell but it was already done.
Once Kim's seatbelt was undone they flew out from the falling jet and tumbled through the air in freefall. Kim was holding Shego tightly by one arm as they spun end over end in the sky. The redhead reached out and grabbed Shego's arm and they pulled themselves closer together as they fell. Shego grabbed the parachute tightly as she tried to strap it onto Kim's back.
The jet exploded as Scarlet flew through it a third time. The explosion caused a shockwave that flung the fiery woman straight into Kim and Shego who were knocked apart in different directions. Because Shego was holding the parachute tightly when it happened, she ended up with it while Kim was left with nothing.
"KIM!" yelled Shego as she tumbled away, even knowing nobody could possibly hear her. She extended her arms to try and control the tumbling and get a glimpse of where her lover had ended up.
In her frantic search, she caught sight of Scarlet first, and noticed she was struggling with someone. Shego tried to spin her head around with the fall to see what was happening. She couldn't keep her eyes on them for more than a second at a time.
She saw Kim fighting with Scarlet, and getting pretty badly burned in the process. The first three times she spun she saw them struggling. Then on the last pass she saw Scarlet rocket away on her own. Then on the forth pass, she saw a long cord trailing off of Scarlet, which was attached to hairdryer that Kim was dangling from.
On the fifth pass, there was nobody.
Shego and Beta walked across the roof of the large, simple warehouse. There was no fancy office space, no secret research facilities, just a rectangle sitting in the middle of a wintery scene. This was supposedly storage, and the building showed it was probably nothing more than that. There was a tall fence with barbed wire – which Shego cut through –tall locked doors - that they climbed – and a standard ventilation system on the roof -–which was too small to fit through.
Fortunately, Scarlet had left a rather obvious hole on one side of the building. They snuck up to the opening, peered inside, and jumped through.
The inside of the warehouse was dark and filled with stale air that the hole was only slowly refreshing. A small pocket of lights were on in the opposite end of the building towards which Beta and Shego walked. There were crates stacked six tall inside, labeled extensively with numbers, bar codes, Aztec codes, and warning tags. One box was suspiciously labeled:" WARNING! MELTS EYES."
Shego decided she didn't want to know.
As they approached the light, they slowed and tried to move silently up to the edge of the row of crates to get a look at the scene.
Sitting in the pool of light was Kim, slowly bleeding from a dozen bruises on her body, tied to a chair with her own grappling wire while Scarlet floated around her. There was little human-looking of Scarlet anymore, covered now from head to toe in burning red fire and giving barely any signs that there was a human inside the inferno. The shape of the flames suggested a person, but it was now hard to tell.
Beta backed away from the edge. "That's not how she looked before," he said.
Shego shook her head. "It's getting worse. She's out of control."
"The symbiote, right?" said Beta.
"I don't know what it really wants, but it just... eats away at you, unless you keep it under control." Shego looked around the corner again briefly. "She just let it run rampant."
"Can she be healed? Like you were?"
Shego shrugged. "I wouldn't have the faintest where to start. I don't even know anything about her. At least with my brothers we had common ground, common experiences. I only knew Scarlet by her series number: 459. She didn't even have a name to me until yesterday."
Beta looked serious. "Then she has to be put down."
"By all means," said Shego. "Got any ideas as to how?"
Beta's eyes scanned the area slowly, then he nodded. "Yes." He pulled his backpack off and began rooting through its contents.
"Wait, what? Really?" said Shego.
With a swift motion, he pulled a pair of gas masks and goggles from his bag. He handed them over to Shego. "Wear one, put the other on Kim when I give you the opportunity."
She studied the masks and goggles closely. "I don't get it."
"You will," said Beta. He pointed. "Circle around that side, I'll distract her. You'll know when to make your move." He turned away and reached up to climb the crate beside them. He stopped when he felt Shego's hand on his shoulder.
"You don't have to do this," said Shego. "I can be the distraction. She isn't a PossiBot."
Beta shook his head. "I can't go around asking evil people for their credentials to see if they fall within my district. I help where I can. I don't assign ownership of criminals." He looked over at Kim and, for a moment, Shego saw an expression of deep loss and sorrow before it was consumed by his normally stoic stare. "Save your girl."
Shego slowly picked up her hand again and Beta returned to climbing. She watched him slip over the top edge of the crate and out of sight. She looked down at the mask and then slipped it over her head to settle on her mouth. Then she tacked to the side before reaching the edge line of crates.
"What are you planning, you robot?" Shego said under her breath.
She watched for a sign of her opportunity. Kim was unmoving on the chair, tied tightly, and covered in tried blood. She couldn't see anything on the floor, which was either good or bad. Good because she wasn't still bleeding. Or bad because she had no further blood to bleed.
Shego tried to bury that macabre thought as soon as she conceived of it but it pulled heavily on her chest and made her wounds ache. She scanned the tops of the crates looking for any sign of Beta while she gripped the mask tightly in her palm.
"Oi!" came a shout that echoed in the warehouse. Shego's eyes widened considerably as she saw Beta stand proudly on the top crate near to where she saw him vanish before. He had his hands on his hips like a superhero and was yelling at the top of his lungs.
"Do you have a right to be in here?" cried out Beta. "This warehouse belongs to VersaGene. Are you an employee... or a test subject?"
Scarlet spun in the air leaving a trail of flames behind her. Her fires turned deeper red before she bellowed. "VERSAGENE!" She exploded into motion like a shooting star speeding directly at Beta.
The blond boy moved almost just as quickly, leaping away from the path of the fiery bullet and down into the canals between the stacked crates. The space where he was just previously standing was destroyed by Scarlet as she flew through it, causing chunks of wood, packing materials, and melted bits of plastic and metal to shower the ground. A black cloud burst from the remains of the crate and lifted into the rafters.
"I guess that's the queue," muttered Shego as she ran as fast as her wounded legs could carry her over to Kim. She slid to the ground beside the chair and quickly pushed the mask up onto Kim's mouth and nose then pulled the goggles over her eyes. She then immediately began trying to untie the cabling around the chair. "I'm ready!" she shouted.
The sounds of exploding crates and falling glass echoed from elsewhere in the warehouse.
"Beta?" Shego called out as she struggled with the cords.
"Nnngg," moaned Kim as the cords came loose and immediately retracted back into the hair dryer on the floor.
"Don't move, princess," Shego said softly. "There is something going on."
"Booya!" came a familiar voice. Shego looked up to see Beta leaping down off another stack of crates and landing gracefully beside the chair. He grinned goofily in his very best Ron Stoppable impression.
Shego looked at him with half lidded eyes. "Really?"
"Heroes have personality," said Beta. "At least so Betty tells me."
"457!" screamed Scarlet as she flew near. "I KNEW YOU WOULD BE STILL ALIVE."
"Yeah, I'm like a cockroach, nothing kills me," shrugged Shego.
"Came close though," pointed out Beta.
"Didn't you have a plan?" asked Shego.
"Yeah," said Beta, nodding upwards. "Should be coming into effect any moment now."
Shego looked up but could barely see anything through the black cloud.
"I WILL ROAST YOUR SIDEKICK BEFORE YOUR EYES!" said Scarlet as her arms grew into large balls of flame.
Shego took one casual step in front of Kim to get between her and Scarlet. "Over my dead body."
"Here we go," said Beta.
The warehouse filled with sirens and flashed yellow and blue lights. Then jets of white gas started streaming in from the ceiling. Scarlet looked around, alarmed.
"What the...?" started Shego.
"Argon gas," said Beta. "It replaces the oxygen in the air, makes it hard for fire to burn and people to breathe." He motioned towards Shego's face. "Hence the rebreather."
Scarlets flames started to shrink on her and some of the human-shape began to reassert itself around her. "No..." she sad and looked towards the hole in the ceiling on the other end of the warehouse. She turned and started to fly away.
"Not yet, dear," said Beta. He grabbed the hairdryer off the floor and fired it towards Scarlet, snagging her leg. "Don't want you to miss the encore." He wrapped his arm around the cord and planted his feet to hold her in place.
"Let me go!" screamed Scarlet as her fires dwindled even more. She flailed against the cord pulling one way and then the next before her fires vanished complete and she fell like a rock against the concrete floor.
When there was no further movement, Beta dropped the hair dryer on the floor. "See? A Plan."
Shego sighed. "That sure as hell went better than most of my plans."
Kim stirred awake again on the helicopter ride out of Canada. She had been strapped to a gurney by a pair of paramedics that were now flying with her while Shego sat nearby holding her hand.
"Shego?" said Kim as she tried to turn towards her.
"I'm here, Princess," said Shego. "Don't move. You've been pretty badly beaten up."
"Scarlet?" she asked.
"Taken care of," Shego smiled.
"So not the drama, then," Kim said in a tired voice.
"I'm not sure I'd say that. I had a little help from a guardian angel."
Kim closed her eyes and slightly nodded. "I get it."
"If you say so," said Shego.
"No, I mean... I get it," said Kim. "What you're afraid of."
Shego frowned. "What?"
Kim's eyes opened slightly and searched around to find Shego's face. She looked as deeply as she could back into Shego's eyes.
"Alone," said Kim. "You don't want to be left alone."
Shego half-smiled and shook her head. "I've been alone most of my life, pumpkin. That's not so scary."
"You chose that," said Kim. "It's when you don't choose to be alone that it hurts so bad."
Betty Director stood before the large monitor in their headquarters, watching the small blue dot travel across the Canadian map towards Montreal. Her one hand rested casually on the leather office chair as she cupped her other hand around her ear to better hear her earpiece.
"Done already?" asked Betty lightly.
"In and out, you always say," said Beta over the radio. The sounds of wind could be heard loudly brushing past his microphone as he ran faster than any human could ever dream. "Get out before anyone has time to ask you why."
"And?" prompted Betty. "How was it?"
There was a moment's hesitation. "It was good," said Beta. "To see them again. Even Shego."
"You miss it?" asked Betty. She bit her lip afterwards and stood slightly off balance, keeping herself upright through her hold on the chair.
"Of course I do," said Beta. "I was designed to. But ... it's a different world they live in now. And the one we've got isn't quite so bad."
"Not quite so bad," echoed Betty.
"And you? You miss Global Justice?" asked Beta.
Betty turned away from the monitor displaying Beta's position and walked over to the tall windows looking out over the Champs-Elysees at night. She followed the lines of glowing incandescent lights until they reached the Arc de Triophe. It was a stunning view, one nearly unchallenged around the world in many people's opinion... but not her's.
"I miss it less when you're here," said Betty simply.
There was a slow breath on the line before Beta's voice returned.
"I'll be home soon."
Shego smiled warmly at Kim as she struggled to stay conscious stropped to the stretcher. "You figure that all out on your own?" she said, teasing.
"I felt it," replied Kim. "I wouldn't wish it on you."
Shego nodded sadly. "It is a reality of our lives, the risk we take every day."
"Doesn't make it trivial," said Kim. "Sorry for pressing the issue."
"And I'm sorry for not explaining," said Shego. "I should know better by now."
A hint of a smile appeared on her face. "We're both a little silly, aren't we." She closed her eyes again.
"Yeah," said Shego. "But at least we're silly together."
Kim said nothing, having drifted off into sleep again.
- Fin –