"Kim, you've got a patrol right on top of you!"
Things proceeded very quickly after Wade's report. Speed was absolute key. Comet was due any day now and no one had any idea how serious Joss's wounds were. The plan was for Kim and Shego to make their way into the canyon and get a lay of the land, assessing the situation. While Kim's Chevy Traverse was normal to the eye, she and Shego had equipped it with numerous defensive upgrades as well as a secret compartment that housed emergency mission gear for the couple. While a far cry from their battlesuites, Kim and Shego were provided with more than enough to handle anything they encountered in the canyon. Once Kim and Shego gave the signal, Uncle Slim and Joss would ride in on a pair of Uncle Slim's mechanical horses. Abby would remain on the ranch, keeping an eye on Zoë and Emily…but Kim supposed that she should be proud of her oldest daughter for the fast talking that she'd done. Gracie would NOT take no for an answer. There was no telling what would happen to Comet or Joss. If the horse went into labor before they could get there or if Joss was dying, then they would need Gracie and her abilities to help save the foal and Joss. Though oblivious to Gracie's true reasons for going, Uncle Slim wasn't exactly a help in this matter as he kept reminding Kim of how Joss had helped Kim when she was Gracie's age. But in the end, try as they might, neither parent could come up with a valid argument to counter their daughter and Gracie was permitted to come along…so long as she remained with Uncle Slim, doing everything that he said.
Kim froze in place when she heard Wade's voice come over the headset. Unknown to Kim, Wade had snuck two new inventions into Kim and Shego's mission bags, "Chameleo-flage". Made of a specially designed polymorphic fabric that Wade had invented himself, these suites would instantly blend in perfectly to the wearer's surroundings much like a chameleon could blend into a background. But where a chameleon could only change its color, these suites morphed and shifted until they gave off the appearance terrain as well. The tech whiz had flat out out-done himself this time.
Kim spotted the patrol moving not two feet in front of her. Thank God Wade had spotted them on the satellite; they were nearly on top of her. Now what exactly could she deduce from these people? Great forensics, like great science, was great observation. These thugs were most definitely not Hench Co; probably some local hires. Armed simply with hunting rifles and wearing basic forest camouflage, Drakken must have hired out to do the heavy lifting. This would have to be done quickly. With the precision of a seasoned sharpshooter, Kim drew a tranq gun and popped off four quick shots in the span of a few seconds. Abby would be proud of the result. As quickly as she fired, four bodies thumped to the ground. That had to be the last patrol, leaving Kim free to make her way to the lip of the canyon. The chameleon-flage really WAS first rate as, through her binoculars, she couldn't find even a trace of her wife.
"Shego, I'm in position," Kim said into her headset.
"So am I. I should be directly across from you, maybe five or ten yards to the left. And Kimmie…you are NEVER going to believe who is behind this. Look under the awning of the building attached to the corral; should be your three o'clock."
Kim spotted the building in question. Apparently Comet wasn't the only stolen horse. There had to be at least five others down there for God knows what reason. She focused on the area under the awning and saw a figure working at some kind of consul. The figure had shoulder length black hair done up in a ponytail and was wearing a very cheesy facsimile of a cowboy outfit. The figure turned to shout an order…and had Kim not been better trained, she would've burst out laughing upon seeing Drakken in the ghost town bellow her. All of a sudden, she couldn't wait to hear Drakken's harebrained logic with this plan. And when she had his neck in her vice-like grip, she would make the little dogie squeal!
Now came the time for the real test of their plan. The best way for Kim and Shego to make their insertion was for them to rappel down the canyon wall. While Wade assured them that the camo would blend into the cliff face, the cords of their grappling hooks wouldn't. Though of an onyx black hue and therefore still hard to see, if anyone especially observant was down there and spotted them, the jig would be up. Drakken was a half a bubble off plum at the best of times but she wasn't prepared to put anything past him.
"I can't wait to hear the story behind this," Kim whispered, drawing her grappling gun and reached down to shoot it into the canyon wall. There was enough ambient noise that the sound of the impact should go unnoticed; the operative wording being "should". There was a hiss of air and a clunk of metal on rock.
"No changes," Shego reported. "They didn't hear it. Keep an eye while I hook up."
Luck was with them for the moment and both women began lowering themselves down to the canyon floor. Kim's eyes never left the abandoned town. The slightest rumble, the slightest shiver could clue the inhabitants of the village into the fact that they weren't alone. The ground approached and Kim gave a silent sigh as her feet touched down on the sandy bottom. Kim lifted her hood enough to reveal her face and began moving towards the half-standing building she and Shego had selected as their rendezvous point.
"Okay, I count twelve in the town not counting the Blue Doofus," Shego whispered, peeking around the corner of their cover. "Two at each of the approaches into the town, three around the corral, two assisting Doofus, and another three working on the vehicles. I say we each clear an approach, signal Slim and then work our way to the middle. The batteries on these suites only have another two minutes so we need to make use of them while we can."
"Kiss for luck?" The younger Possible playfully batted her eyes.
In response, Shego grabbed Kim's head and kissed her wife as passionately as the circumstances would allow. "Two Bodies, one Soul," Shego whispered as her lips left Kim's. She grabbed Kim's hand and squeezed it three times. I love you!
The two women parted and headed towards their respective targets. Lifting her hood back over her face, Kimberly took off running towards the two guards. These two were most definitely hired from Hench Co. She'd come across the like thousands of times. They had actual training but Kim had dispatched any number of these guys even before she married Shego. Kim took a running leap and landed squarely on top of one of the thugs. She delivered a jab to the back of his neck, dropping him like a sack of feed. Using the momentum of the impact, Kim threw herself upward. Just as the other guard turned to see what had happened, Kim unleashed a flurry of fists, pummeling the man's chest and driving him to the ground.
"Uncle Slim, the road's open."
Her next move was to the makeshift motor pool. True to Wade's analysis, there was a 2013 Ford F-150 Raptor parked in the lot. There was a tingling creeping up her spine. Damn it, that meant she was about to be discovered very soon. She'd have to be quick. There were two around the truck, one underneath working on the undercarriage and the other loading supplies into the bed. Running as silently as she could, Kim grabbed the loader's head and heaved it against one of the metal crates, dropping him to the ground.
"What the…" The guard under the truck slid out but Kim was on him before he could get off the ground.
Two down, Kim thought to herself. Where's the third?
"The boss said that he wants…"
I can't get to him in time. Kim could feel the batteries give out as she whipped out her tranquilizer gun and fired.
"Shego, my camo's dead," Kim said into her headset, pulling her hood free.
"We're clear on my end," Shego answered. "All that's left is the Doofus and his two lackeys."
Kim spotted her wife approaching the front of the central building, Drakken and his two assistants completely oblivious of what was going on around them. Drakken ordered the two assistants in Shego's direction to bring him something. The reformed thief ignited her plasma, the light blending in perfectly with the setting sun, and zapped the two into unconsciousness. With all targets eliminated, Kim strolled out to the center of the dirt road and met her wife, the couple holding hands and smiling.
"You know Doc, this plan is sheer idiocy," Shego called out, pouring every ounce of cynicism into her voice that she could.
"I'll thank you to hold your criticism Shego," Drakken responded. EVERY time he had to endure this. Shego just didn't appreciate everything Drakken did. "Nobody appreciates sheer genius at…" Drakken froze in mid-sentence, putting two and two together. Slowly but surely he began to turn around, all too afraid of what he was going to see behind him. "But…but…how…"
"Are you serious?" Kim gasped. "You kidnap my Uncle's horse…you abduct my cousin…you're your goons SHOOT at my daughter?" Kim marched up to the boardwalk, eyes never leaving the blue scientist, and delivered a swift right hook across the villain's face
"YOUR cousin's…I never…" Drakken's eyes darted all over the place as he got to his feet. It appeared to be too much for him and in the end and the blue man began wailing like a little baby. Drakken fell into a fetal position and began sucking his thumb.
"JOSS? JOSS, WHERE ARE YOU?"
Slim and Gracie had ridden in on old Tornado, the mechanical stallion Slim had perfected, every hired thug hogtied and being hauled behind. Comet had thankfully not given birth but Uncle Slim was very certain that it would be soon and wanted to get her back to the ranch ASAP.
As it turned out, Drakken had merely issued orders to his hired goons to abduct any and all well-known racehorses in the state. Drakken was an idiot who wanted revenge but he wasn't a big enough idiot to actually harm their daughter. The abduction of Joss had been a spur of the moment decision and Drakken really hadn't had anything to do with the goons shooting at Gracie. Much as Kim and Shego wanted to, neither could bring themselves to punish Drakken TOO seriously.
But that still left Joss unaccounted for, somewhere in the abandoned town. The pair had split up, Kim taking Gracie with her. Both women knew the fact that Joss wasn't answering or making any discernible noises wasn't a good sign. The saloon where Drakken had set up was the biggest building around so Kim elected to start there.
Gracie took the steps to the second floor two at a time. Joss was in here SOMEWHERE and they had to find her! The teenager burst through the door at the top and began calling and searching. Darn it; another bust! She HAD to keep control of herself; like they said in Star Wars, "be mindful of your environment". Gracie took a deep breath and began one of her meditation exercises that she did with Mom and Momma, Momma's voice guiding her. Seek the void. Nothing exists but that central point. Keep your mind on the task at hand. Pour everything else into that central point. The next room was on her right. She stepped in and began searching, listening for anything. The closet! She rushed over and threw the doors open, her breath catching on what she found. Joslyn Possible was nestled before her, bound and gagged, her face smeared with blood.
"MOM! SHE'S IN HERE!"
She couldn't wait for Mom or Momma. She had to do this NOW! Gracie knelt beside the older woman and began loosing Joss's bonds. As carefully as she could, Gracie laid the older woman out on the floor and placed her hands on the wound. This was the most severe thing she'd ever tried to do but…no, don't go there. She could do this! She WOULD do this! Once again, Shego's voice began going through her head.
Feel the plasma coursing through you. Gather it inward like the sun on your skin. Feel it flowing through every fiber, like a river cascading over rock. Then continue the flow; guide it into the body of another.
This was where Gracie had had to develop her own strategy. She could see the damage in the body, in this case like a section of wall that had been moved out of place. Every injury seemed to be a different visual image. She could tell that the injury was in her head. Gracie didn't know much about medicine but she imagined this is what Grandma Possible would've called a concussion; and it seemed bad. She had to push that piece of wall back into place.
A golden glow began to surround Gracie and eventually Joss herself. Sweat began pouring out of Gracie in rivulets. Even when it was a bruise or sore muscle, healing took every bit of concentration Gracie could muster. She put her entire weight behind the slab and shoved, drove, and rammed with all her might. In her mind's eye, the slab slowly began to move into place…but at great physical strain.
Kim burst into the room as a wave of gasps rocked through Joss. Overcome with maternal worry, Kim rushed to her daughter's side. Gracie's face was scrunched in concentration and her nose had started bleeding. There was no stopping her now.
Gracie could feel her strength weakening but she refused to buckle under the strain. Just a little more; just…one…inch…more! She had to push! She had to save Joss! PUSH! With one great thrust, Gracie threw herself against the slab one last time, pushing it that one final inch and locking it into place.
Without warning, Joss Possible shot up, taking a great gasp of air, head whipping in all directions, trying to get her bearings. Where was she? The last thing she remembered was…
The celebration was short lived, though. Gracie Anne Possible collapsed into her mother's arms, ghostly white and weak as a newborn babe.
Gracie awoke with start, taking in her surroundings. The last thing she remembered…did she…was Joss…her thoughts ran so fast that her head began to hurt, forcing her to lie back down.
"Easy muffin," Shego leaned in and began running her hand through her daughter's hair. "Just lie down. Your body's been through the meat grinder as it is."
"You're in the hospital in town. You pushed yourself right to the edge sweetie." The older woman leaned in and hugged her precious daughter. "Gracie…you could've seriously hurt yourself, maybe even…" She couldn't even contemplate that thought. Kim had gotten to Gracie but Gracie was already throwing her entire self into healing Joss. There was nothing Kim could've done to stop it. "You promised your Mom and I that you wouldn't push yourself or do anything without me being there."
"But Momma…I had to. Everyone was freaking out about Joss getting hit in the head and when we didn't find her…I couldn't let her die!" Shego could see a few tears creeping down her daughter's cheeks.
Everyone had…did she…oh man, why was her daughter so desperate to help people? Looking back at the events of the past few days, neither Kim nor Shego had done a very good job of hiding the severity of the situation, especially when none of the prisoners had been able to reveal where Joss had been stashed. Drakken was of course oblivious and completely unresponsive anyway. Try as she might, Shego couldn't fault Gracie for what she did.
"Oh Grace Anne Possible," Shego leaned in and hugged her daughter even tighter. "I guess Mom and I are partly to blame too. We love you so much and if anything ever happened to you, Mom and I would never forgive ourselves. But NO more pushing yourself this hard." Shego released her daughter and offered her a handshake. "Can you promise me that?"
"I promise Momma."
"Easy Comet," Joss replied, trying to sooth the horse. "You're doing fine."
Since Hell Gate Canyon was part of the National Park Service, Uncle Slim and Gracie wound up bringing an array of National Park Service officers as well as the Missoula County Sheriff's Department. Kim and Shego couldn't help but cracking up as Drakken began screaming his head off at the sight of Gracie approaching after climbing off Joss's horse. Drakken was so distraught that the authorities had to carry him to the squad car by holding onto his limbs.
Federal authorities were being brought in to handle the relocation of the rest of the horses but the Possibles were secure in the fact that Comet and Joss were returned to them. The full extent of Joss's ordeal was greatly glossed over, as neither Kim nor Shego were ready to have the world find out about Gracie's powers. Federal authorities weren't brought in until after Team Possible had secured the area so there were really no questions asked when Gracie had to be rushed to the hospital.
And hence, the Possible family found themselves in the clinic two days later. Joss's initial hunch had proved to be well founded as shortly after dinner that night, Comet entered the first stages of labor. A short time later, Nancy and Joss were in the pen and trying to guide the mare through it. Kim, Shego, and the girls were all seated outside the pen. Completely oblivious to the outside world, Gracie was utterly riveted to the scene before her.
Comet dropped to the ground and began wheezing loudly. After a short while, Zoë pointed out what looked like a ghostly white lump. Joss moved over and began pulling away at the placenta, revealing a spindly pair of legs. She grabbed a hold of them and began pulling. Very slowly, the foal began emerging from Comet's womb. While Joss pulled, Nancy pulled away the mucusy white material, revealing a brown and white coat, just like its mother. With one last heave, the foal slid free and into the world.
"Was that what it was like for you Mommy?" Emily asked, looking up at Kim with a big smile.
"Well…something like that," Kim laughed and planted a kiss on Emily's head. "But you three were worth every minute of it."
Nancy and Joss cleaned up the foal and Joss began examining it. Knowing how much the girls were dying to know, Dr. Joss revealed that Comet was now the proud mother of a baby colt. The girls all got up from their respective seats and ran up to the gate to get a closer look. Once Joss and Nancy were clear, Comet got up and began nuzzling the very small colt. The colt's legs weren't strong enough yet but little creature shifted and twisted until he was face to face with his mother.
"Girls," Joss stepped up to the gate. "Say hello to Archie."
Once all the suitcases were loaded into the car, Kim pulled her uncle into an embrace.
After the excitement of the first few days, the Middleton Possibles passed the rest of their vacation away in absolute peace. Gracie and the twins had spent nearly every day caring for the little Archie. Shego and Kim had set out on a small camping trip on their fourth day on the ranch, getting some much needed alone time. Something about being completing a mission alongside her beautiful wife made Kim unable to keep her hands off of her. While she was a little rusty, Abby's father was a seasoned trick rider and had taught all of his children a little in that area. Abby gave everyone a trick riding exhibition, much to the delight of the younger Possible girls.
"Thanks Uncle Slim," Kim smiled as she held her Uncle tight. "We had a wonderful time."
"Oh, no thanks needed," Uncle Slim replied, holding his beloved niece equally tight. "You know you're always welcome here little darlin'." Slim released his niece and scooped up his grandnieces into a group hug, planting a bristly kiss on each of their heads. "Now you cowgirls take care. Show them city slickers how to work."
Everyone piled into the Chevy Traverse and Kim began driving down the path back towards the road. Looking back over the past week, even with all of the nonsense with Drakken, it had been a wonderful vacation. The girls had a terrific time and Kim and Shego couldn't stop smiling at each other. Pulling onto the main road, Kim looked back at the girls in the rearview mirror.
"So girls, did you have a good time?" Kim asked, reaching over and grabbing her wife's hand.
"It was GREAT," The twins cried in unison.
"Fantastic," Gracie agreed.
"Feel good," George squeaked.
"It felt like being back home," Abby sighed from the back.
Kim turned to Shego. "What about you Eme?"
Shego was about to answer when Zoë called out and pointed out the window back at the ranch. Everyone turned to look out the window and were greeted by the sight of Joss riding a galloping Comet. Kim was only going about 40 down the road so the horse was easily able to keep pace. Joss and Comet crested the hill and at the top, Joss reigned in Comet, forcing her onto her hind legs and giving a loud whinny. Joss called out and waved goodbye to the Possible Family.
The girls squealed in delight.
"Yippy ki Yay," Shego laughed. "Ride'm Cowgirl!"
And that, as they say, is that. Gracie is an extraordinarily giving person and I see being able to heal pain, sometimes at the cost of yourself, as a fitting cross for her to bear, especially given her parentage. I think Shego plays the role of Obi Wan to Gracie's Luke rather well. That "seeking the void" bit is credited to author Robert Jordan of the "Wheel of Time Series", a truly great author, may he rest in peace. I hope you all enjoyed this. I'm certain that I want the twins to develop powers of their own but am still trying to decide specifics. If readers have any ideas, I'd love to hear them. Just know that it can't be Shego's plasma powers as DNAmy removed the possibility of that happening in TUIG.
Watch for my next story, "Night on the Town".