cloudmonet’s kim stories

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How Darkness Comes

Part 1

Kim Possible, Ron Stoppable, Rufus, Monique, Felix Renton, Wade Load, Dr. Betty Director, Will Du, Dr. Drakken, Shego, Yori, Hirotaka, and several others who are mentioned but don’t actually appear, are characters from the Kim Possible show, created by Mark McCorkle and Bob Schooley, owned and copyright © by the Walt Disney Company. The story takes place in February of Kim and Ron’s sophomore year of college, nearly three years after “So the Drama,” and shortly after my earlier story, “Finals Week.” This is part one of a three part story, © 2005 by cloudmonet.

“You are the world’s Drakken expert,” Dr. Beatrice Director told Kim, freezing the picture of Drake Jones, a black-haired man with a suntan standing next to Crocodile Jack in the red center of Australia, on an episode about radio-tagging perentie lizards with robot ticks. “Do you think that’s him?”

“He’s wearing short sleeves and shorts and his skin’s not blue,” said Kim. “That’s a lot of makeup to wear when it’s a hundred and ten in the shade, and there’s no shade.”

“Drakken’s skin may not be blue anymore,” said Betty. “Our search engine found an interesting technical article by a Dr. Anna Ruiz of Lima, Peru, about treating a patient whose skin was turned blue by a freak biochemical accident. How many people like that are there?”

“Don’t know,” said Kim.

“The resemblance caught my attention. Drake Jones made robot ticks with radio beepers. Drakken could do that. And look at this frame from the sea turtle episode. Isn’t that Greensleeves crewman the same Drake Jones?”

“Who saves whales and tags lizards. That’s not even slightly evil. If he acts like Drakken I’ll worry about him.”

“I’m thinking what if Drakken mutated the lizards to make them really big, and somehow used them— He’s done this sort of thing before, hasn’t he?” asked Betty.

“That was Paolo Gonzales, the mad herpetologist,” said Kim. “He used growth hormones to make giant gila monsters to help him smuggle illegal immigrants into Arizona.”

“Hmm,” said Betty, accessing some records from the master computer. “That arrest was made by the Arizona State Patrol, in conjunction with some shadowy vigilantes who call themselves the Night Rangers. Now why would this case be classified?”

“Cyrus Bortle,” said Kim. “Nuff said?”

“I see,” said Betty. “I also see you’ve been more active recently than I thought.”

“Let’s see, last semester, busted Monkey Fist twice, busted Gonzales, looked for Drakken, busted Fukushima and Sumo Ninja in China, you know about Perkins and Lars, saved Ron’s parents from the Central Asian Jihad squad who hijacked their cruise ship, and a number of rescues that didn’t involve bad guys.”

“You left out Wanda Hu Khan,” said Betty.

“That’s a Z-12 weapon sitch,” said Kim.

“I know. So was the China mission.”

“Really? No wonder the authorities acted so strange.”

“By the way, who’s Yori?”

“One of the good guys. That’s all I’m going to say about about her.”

“I understand,” said Betty. “Asia is a much more dangerous place for a free agent.”

“You may notice I’m not courting publicity the way I used to, either,” said Kim.

Ron was waiting with the stealth bike on a street corner in front of a small office supply store. Kim put her finger to her lips and got into the driver’s seat. Ron sat behind her and put his hands on her hips. They drove a few blocks, then Kim seemed to see what she wanted and drove around the block looking for a parking place. Kim put several quarters in the parking meter, holding her finger to her lips again. They walked a few storefronts to a purple sign saying “Inga’s Swedish Sauna and Hot Tubs, by the hour.”

“Here we are,” said Kim.

“Um, okay,” said Ron.

A bored-looking young brown haired woman wearing a blue dress, shawl, and gypsy scarves looked up from the magazine she was reading and said, “May I help you?”

“I’d like a sauna and tub,” said Kim.

“Forty dollars, room four,” she replied, taking Kim’s money.

“Um, okay!” said Ron, with more enthusiasm.

“Though you’d appreciate a little treat,” said Kim, smiling back at Ron as she led him upstairs.

Ron looked a alarmed when Kim turned the thermostat on the sauna up to the maximum setting. She made the gesture of silence with her finger to her lips, took off her engagement ring, and stuck it into its battery charger.

“Rufus, you stay out here,” Ron told his faithful pet molerat, who peered out of his cargo pants pocket with curiosity.

Ron sat down on a wooden bench facing Kim in the dim steamy heat, feeling sweat running freely from every pore.

Kim made the gesture of silence again, whispered, “Stay where you are,” and took off her towel, remaining standing. Ron wasn’t sure what Kim was doing. Her intentions didn’t seem romantic at all. In fact, she seemed to be in mission-mode.

Ron heard a steady electrical buzzing, an occasional puffing sound, his own shallow breathing, and a very light tink! as something small fell to the tile floor.

“Gotcha!” said Kim, picking up a tiny round pink object the size of a bead. “I thought I felt something crawl up my leg. It’s a robot tick. The steam either cooked it, or triggered a heat-sensitive shutoff switch. Probably it’s just got a microphone and transmitter, although a camera isn’t impossible.” Kim put her towel back on, opened the sauna door, got out her engagement ring and used its blue laser to melt the device.

“My skin is as pink as Rufus,” Ron said. “That was starting to hurt.”

“It shut down the tick, and that’s what matters. Let’s talk about it later. Hey, Ron, I rented this hot tub and promised you a treat.”

“Any more heat and my skin will come off.”

Kim sat on the rim and put her feet in the water. “It’s not so hot, really.” She took off her towel and slipped in.

“You love to keep me confused,” said Ron, sitting on the edge and testing the water with his feet.

“Nah, I just love you,” she said, erupting out of the water into his arms and giving him a wet kiss.

“It would help if you hadn’t completely melted it,” Wade said on Kim’s dorm room computer.

“I know,” Kim replied. “I was so sure that Global Justice was trying to monitor me, and so annoyed about it, that my only objective was to deactivate and destroy the tick without anyone knowing I knew about it.”

“If you’re right, that was the best thing to do. But a third party could have put bugs in the Global Justice office, and one of them just happened to crawl on you. Global Justice ticks look like bead sized pink blemishes when they’re attached.”

“Sounds like what I found.”

“Either they don’t trust you, or they’re concerned about your safety. Distrust you— because your trail crosses what they think is Drakken’s trail several times, and what’s up with that? Concerned about your safety— Central Asian Jihad has been known to develop and hold serious grudges.”

“You don’t bug Kim Possible without permission.”

They’re cops,” said Wade. “You know how they think. It is illegal to hide convicted felons. You can’t be sentimental about them. So what if Shego’s pregnant? Bad people have children all the time. What happened to the hard-nosed Kim Possible who busted Señor Senior Senior for stealing back his own money from a swindler?”

“She went to college,” said Kim. “She took courses that made her think more deeply about the meaning of life.”

“You should have studied engineering. It doesn’t mess with your head as much.”

“Is it so wrong to believe in the possibility of redemption?” Kim asked.

“Well, I don’t think so, obviously, or I would have put someone else on their trail,” said Wade.

“Someone’s in the house,” Sheila said in the dark. Drake reached for the light switch. “The light’s not working,” he said.

“Oh, great,” said Sheila, slipping out of bed and feeling around the wall for her robe hanging on the closet. “Where’s that torch?”

“That what?” asked Drake.

“The flashlight. They call them torches in Australia. I’m trying to fit in.”

“Isn’t it on the nightstand?”

Suddenly the flashlight came on, shining right into Sheila’s eyes, then Drake’s, held by a ninja girl.

“Do I have the honor of speaking with Shego and Drakken?” she asked, “Or would you prefer Sheila and Drake?”

“Who are you?” asked Sheila, striking a defensive pose as well as she could, wearing a nightgown, a bathrobe, slippers, and nearly five months pregnant.

“You may call me Yori,” the ninja girl said, pressing her hands together. “I come as a friend to warn you. They know about the blue man in the Peruvian rain forest. They know about Dr. Anna Ruiz’s skin treatment. They know about Greensleeves and Crocodile Jack.”

“They?” asked Drake.

“Doy! Global justice!” said Sheila.

“They want to check your fingerprints and DNA,” said Yori. “You really should stay off television shows.”

“I was supposed to be completely behind the scenes,” Drake said in frustration.

“You’re just too funny, Dr. D,” said Sheila. “You could do your own show.”

“Oh, yeah, getting bitten by a perentie is so funny.”

“The way you did it, yeah.”

Yori turned the flashlight off, threw down a smoke pellet, and disappeared.

“Weird ninja stuff,” said Sheila.

“This is serious,” said Drake. “We have to move again. New names, new credit cards, new everything. New career, I guess. Environmentalists thrive on publicity, and that’s how I keep getting photographed.”

“You thrive on publicity yourself, Dr. D,” said Sheila. “You want people to appreciate how clever and important you are, and you’re succeeding, but it’s too late. The only free life we can have is a completely anonymous one.”

Will Du piloted his Global Justice hover jet over the Pacific Ocean towards Queensland, Australia. He spoke to his two co-agents on this mission, George Wind and Steve Rasp, “I understand you spent at least two months on guard duty at Drakken’s Caribbean lair.”

“That’s right,” said Steve Rasp, a large, deep voiced black man.

“And you have combat experience with diablo robots?”

“The only way to beat one short of a missile is to cut off the signal,” said Steve.

“Diablo robots are in my opinion, a likely hazard,” said Will. “Living in a small house on the edge of town, Drakken, or Drake Jones as he’s calling himself, would not have space for his usual arsenal of doomsday devices. He could also have nanoexplosive charges attached to robotic ticks. Compared to Global Justice surveillance ticks, these are thicker but flatter on top, and a bit larger. He could also have handheld laser guns.”

“What’s the intelligence on Shego?” asked George Wind, a mild mannered man of Chinese descent.

“Uncertain. They may or may not have separated. There was a pregnant woman on the Greensleeves crew with pale skin and curly black hair who somewhat resembles Shego, but the best image isn’t very good. This woman does not appear in the perentie episode.”

“Aw, now where’s Drake?” Crocodile Jack asked with his thick Australian accent. “He said he’d have five of those microcamera ticks ready to go to Darwin, and there’s nada in his lab, and no explanation.”

“I’m worried,” said Kate, his sensible American wife with the long wavy hair. “It’s not like Drake to miss work. He loves building those little robot things. When was the last time anyone saw him, or Sheila?”

“Wasn’t he here Monday?” Kelly asked Stan and Mick. “I thought I saw him, you know, said g’day and all that.”

“Last I talked to him, he was pretty excited about going to Darwin,” said Mick. “You know, putting a camera and tracker on the world’s biggest saltwater croc.”

“We can’t do it without Drake’s gear,” said Jack. “Why’d he take his tools out of the lab, anyway?”

“Maybe he needed to take his work home to finish on time,” said Kate.

Jack picked up his satellite phone and punched Drake’s number. “No answer,” he said after ten rings. “I’m going over there, and we’ll see what’s what. Drake better have a good explanation or he’s fired, pronto!”

Crocodile Jack drove his huge Nissan sports utility vehicle on the rutted track through the eucalyptus woods toward Drake and Sheila’s isolated house. Suddenly he hit the brakes and pointed to a black airplane hovering over the building. “Is that what I think it is?” he asked Kate.

“Looks like some kind of military thing,” she replied.

“A Global Justice hover jet— I think,” said Jack.

“Could they be after Drake?”

“It would explain why he didn’t want to be on camera.”

“Wonder what he did? He seems like such a nice guy.”

“Probably serial killer,” said Jack. “They’re always nice blokes to their neighbors and employers.”

“You’re kidding, right? Global Justice usually only gets involved in cases threatening international security,” said Kate.

“Maybe he’s a spy. He was making spy gear for us.”

“That makes a lot of sense,” said Kate. “Shouldn’t we get out of here?”

“Nah, they’ll think we’re guilty and pursue us. This way, they just come up to the truck, I put my hands up and say, ‘G’day, I’m Crocodile Jack, this bloke was an employee, I was coming to his house to find out where he is, didn’t know he was wanted by the law,’ and everything’s fine, right?”

Kate got out her binoculars. “Something really weird’s going down. Looks like three guys in uniform being taken prisoner by six masked guys wearing black.” Jack got out his own, more powerful binoculars. “Aw, yeah, they caught three Global Justice agents. One of the guys in black’s gone up the rope ladder into the plane and it’s landing.”

“Jack, let’s get out of here!”

“Can I lose a Global Justice hover jet on a track? Ehhh, I think I better try.”

“Don’t race the engine and make lots of noise,” said Kate.

“No worries, mate,” he said, executing a bumpy K-turn fairly quietly, and rolling through the eucalyptus woods past some small, weathered shacks, to potholed pavement and slightly nicer houses and isolated trailers, and finally, better pavement and nice suburban homes. The Global Justice hover jet did not pass over town.

“In there,” grunted the swarthy man in black, holding a laser gun on the three Global Justice agents.

A bruised and battered Will Du turned the doorknob and walked into the back room of the abandoned cattle station, to find himself face to face with the evil mastermind himself, Dr. Drakken. The door closed behind him as a similarly battered George Wind and Steve Rasp were pushed in behind him.

“I’ll tell you nothing,” Will said firmly.

The man he thought was Drakken shrugged. “I didn’t ask you anything” he said.

“Aren’t those your henchmen outside?” Will asked.

“Doy! Central Asian Jihad,” said a woman’s voice from a chair in the corner. “You’re some kind of cops, aren’t you?”

“Global Justice agents, come to bring you back to justice, Shego and Drakken!” said Will.

“The name’s Sheila Jones, Mrs. Jones to you,” snapped the woman, who was several months pregnant and wearing a green and black maternity outfit, “and if this is about that speeding ticket last summer—”

“You’ll pardon my wife’s temper, officer,” interrupted the man. “This whole experience has been most distressing for her.”

“That’s understandable, Mr. Jones,” said Steve Rasp. “My partner is sometimes a bit zealous. It wouldn’t be the first time a squad ever raided the wrong house, but you can understand his desire to make sure.”

“And you got caught by the real bad guys, just like they caught us,” said Sheila. “If I were you, I’d be wondering how they knew what you were doing.”

“So how do you like your new classes?” Monique asked Ron, as he took a bite out of his burrito. They were sitting in the student union cafeteria. Rufus, as usual, was nibbling on a bowl of nachos.

“So far, so good,” he replied, wiping his mouth with his finger, and then using a paper napkin. “They usually start getting hard by about the third week, but maybe I’ll be lucky this semester.”

Kim came to the table with a grilled sandwich and a salad on her tray. “So are there any hot guys in your new classes?”

“I am so over being worried about that,” said Monique. “All right, three that I’ve met, but I don’t want to think about this stuff too much. My career, I’m getting that together. My man, he’ll show up one of these days.”

“Hey Monique,” said a tall black boy wearing a green V-neck sweater over a dark blue T-shirt.

“Don’t think this is the day,” she muttered. “Hey Wendell, what do you want?”

“Can I sit with you?”

“I guess. You know my friends, Kim and Ron.”

Wendell smiled and sat at the table. “Monique, I just want to tell you how sorry I am ’bout how I treated you.”

“Yeah, I was sorry ’bout how you treated me, too, but now I really don’t care. So go away and treat some other girl nice, and let me enjoy my lunch.”

“Sorry if I interrupted you,” Wendell said, and got up and walked away.

Monique sighed. “Was I rude? I guess I was rude. A girl can only take so much honey-tongued lying before she gets harsh, and believe me, I am so beyond harsh with that dude.”

Kim patted her on the shoulder, saying, “It’s okay, Monique. What’s life without a little drama?”

Dot dot dadot! beeped the kimmunicator.

“And, cue the drama,” said Ron.

Kim chuckled. “What’s the sitch, Wade?” she asked, but the face on the screen was an attractive short-haired woman with an eye patch. “Betty?!” Kim exclaimed.

“Are you in a secure location?” she asked.

“Eating lunch in the student union with Ron and Monique.”

“Anybody paying attention to you?”

Kim looked around the room. “Don’t think so. You want to talk to me in my room? Can I finish my lunch?”

“It’s life and death.”

“Then talk to me! Whose lives?”

“Three agents, Du, Wind, and Rasp, kidnapped by Central Asian Jihad in Queensland. Listen carefully. You may have a Global Justice audio tick somewhere on your body that’s been hacked by the Jihad—”

“Nope, not me,” said Kim. “Knew it was there, shut it down, destroyed it.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I thought you planted it.”

“Kimberly, why—”

“It was one of your ticks. Go on with the sitch.”

“I sent the agents to check out Drake Jones, who I guess slipped away. Crocodile Jack went to Jones’ house, to check on him because he missed work, and saw the raid go horribly wrong. A Jihad squad now has three hostages and a Global Justice hoverjet.”

“Do you have a way to track the plane?”

“Disabled, and that’s not easy to do.”

“At least one of the captive agents must have a hacked audio tick somewhere on his body. Can you trace that?”

“We’re trying, but no luck so far. They could’ve changed the encryption.”

“Ron, go get Felix,” said Kim. “We’re going to Australia.”

“Uh, hey Kim,” said Felix, who had quietly rolled up to the table.

“Hey,” she replied. “Can you drop everything and fly us to Austrailia?”

“Got my homework with me. Let’s do this,” he replied.

“This will not be easy,” Yori whispered to Hirotaka, as dark clouds covered the stars. “May the wisdom of Master Sensei and the throwing skills of Master Koangaba be in me.”

“And the spirits of all that is good in the world,” he replied, pressing his hands together and bowing his head.

“Later on, I will see you again,” Yori said, kissing Hirotaka on the cheek, and mouthed but gave no voice or whisper to the words, “my love.”

Silently she crept closer to the cattle station, where a dim light shone in the window of one of the buildings. In the dry meadow, covered by camouflage netting, a Global Justice hoverjet was parked. Yori put her gloved hand on her boomerang, stood up, and threw it. As it spun through the air, the polished titanium reflected the light from the window. It disappeared as it twisted back into the shadows, and Yori caught it in her hand. Step by step, she edged closer to the plane and the house.

“What’s all this about, anyway?” Crocodile Jack asked Kim, while he drove his big Nissan up the rutted track to Drake and Sheila’s house.

“That’s what I hope to find out,” she replied. “Most of what I know is what you told Betty.”

“Betty? I talked to a bloke,” said Jack.

“Whoever you talked to at Global Justice, then. Six terrorists captured three agents who were in turn after Drake and Sheila Jones.”

“What did they do, Drake and Sheila?” asked Kate.

“Could be mistaken identity,” said Kim. “Global Justice had the theory they could be Dr. Drakken and Shego— notice the similar names. I don’t know if you had any personal experience with the diablo robot rampage a couple years back— little red toys that expanded into big robots.”

“Aw, yeah, not round here mate, but Sydney, Melbourne, whole mess of damage. You’re the one who shut that down.”

“Me, Ron, and Rufus.”

“Cute little molerat. I remember him from last time,” said Jack. Rufus poked his head out of Ron’s pocket, blinked a couple of times, and dove back in again.

“He sleeps more than he used to,” said Ron. “He’s getting older, I think.”

“You should breed him, mate, he’s really special.”

“He certainly is,” Kim agreed.

“So they think Drake is the bloke who made the diablo robots? That’s wild. No wonder they hunted him down. Could it be true?”

“You seem to know him pretty well,” said Kim. “What do you think?”

“I think that’s ridiculous,” said Kate.

“Aw, I’ve been fooled by people before,” said Jack. “They’re not like crocs. You pretty much know where a croc is at if you know how to read ’em. Not that they don’t try to fool you or surprise you. This is the place.”

Jack parked in the drive of a weatherbeaten house with bowed front steps, and a green Volkswagen bug in the carport.

“Not exactly your typical Drakken lair,” remarked Ron, getting out of the back seat.

Kim walked up the steps and slowly opened the door. A small green lizard darted out. “What a mess!” she said. Books and papers were strewn all over the room, a lamp was knocked over and broken, even a table was knocked over.

“This is such a shame,” said Kate. “Sheila had this old house looking really nice and homey.” Almost instinctively, she started picking up.

“Don’t touch stuff,” said Kim. “There may be clues in this.”

“There was one heck of a fight here,” said Jack. “That’s clear.”

“Scorch on this wall,” said Ron. “Whoa, I can see through it. It’s a laser cut, Kim.”

Kim carefully stepped over the debris to look. “Oh great, the Jihad has laser guns. On one hand, they’re easier to deflect than bullets. All you need is a mirror. On the other hand, you’ve got to have your mirror in exactly the right place and angle before the blast. It always goes exactly where it’s aimed, so if you judge right, you won’t get sliced in half.”

“And there’s no defense like anti-explosive foam,” said Jack.

“Not against the simpler laser guns,” said Kim. “The fancier ones you can muck up with a silicon phase disrupter. I just learned this a couple weeks ago.”

“This was done with a cheap one,” said Ron. “Or else the battery was running low. They’ll have Global Justice guns now, but a silicon phase disrupter won’t stop these either.”

In the bedroom there was broken plaster on one wall. The closet pole was broken, and most of the clothes were on the floor. There was a pile of women’s magazines on the night table knocked slightly askew, and one fallen on the floor. Kim picked up the fallen one and looked at it. There was a photograph of a pretty Asian woman in a bikini on the cover, and titles of the articles inside. “Monique has this issue, but hers looks different. The Chinese characters next to the girl aren’t on her copy.”

“This is probably the Asian edition—” said Ron. “Wait a minute!”


“This is Japanese. I know what it says. I just don’t know what it means.”

“Go on—”

“It’s Yori’s signiature,” said Ron.

“She was here then, and wanted to let us know,” said Kim. “This is a message anyone else would have missed. So, Yori’s involved. She was here, before the fight. Why?”

“Does Wade know?” asked Ron. “He’s got some way to contact her.”

“Yes, he does,” said Kim, pulling out the kimmunicator. “Talk to me, Wade, 4-1-1, Yori, Australia.”

Wade wasn’t in his bedroom, but his underground engineering lab. “Code gray,” he replied.

“Oh, really?”

Just then a loud motorcycle engine approached the house, parked, and shut off.

“That’s a motorcycle, right? That’ll be Hiro. He’ll give you 4-1-1. Wade out.” The screen went blank.

“What’s all that mean?” asked Jack.

“Never mind,” said Kim. “Let’s go meet Hirotaka.”

Kim and Ron stepped over the mess to the front door, followed by Jack and Kate. Hirotaka took off his helmet, releasing a wild shock of black hair.

“I know where they are,” he said. “Four hundred kilometers. We should hurry.”

The golden light of the setting sun shone through the dust and cobwebs veiling the small window of the second storey room. Heavy booted feet clomped up the narrow stairway outside the locked door. The door unlocked and opened. Will Du staggered in with a freshly-swollen black eye and ripped shirt. “Shego,” he gasped. “You can get us out of here. I know you can. Please, why won’t you?”

“You know, Will,” Sheila replied, getting up from her chair and moving closer to him, “even if they all went away and left us here alone, we’re in the middle of the outback.” She frowned, gesturing silence while looking very closely at Will’s head, in particular his ears. “Mm-hmm,” she continued, looking behind his ears. “We’d die of thirst long before we reach the nearest station.” She grimaced and let a tiny blast of green plasma go from her index finger that was almost touching what looked like a pink mole behind Will’s right ear. She pulled it off, flipped it over, and showed him the gripping legs. She whispered, “You tell me, sport, and just nod or shake, there any working trucks outside?”

Will nodded, “But the plane—” he whispered.

“Shhh!” Sheila hissed. “They’ll expect us to go for the plane.” She quickly stepped over to Steve Rasp, and said aloud, “What do you expect me to do, anyway? You’re Global Justice cops. I’m just Sheila Jones, five months pregnant. I’m not Shego, whoever she is.”

Drake grabbed her, pulled her into the corner, and whispered, “What are you doing?”

“What needs to be done,” she whispered back. “Just shut up and let me do it.” She pulled away from him. “I’m scared, Will, I’m really scared,” she told Steve, while looking behind his ears. She found the tick under his uniform collar and zapped it with her finger.

George Wind held a small pink bead with wiggling robotic legs. He dropped it on the windowsill. “They’re gonna kill us, I know,” Sheila said, then zapped the tick with her finger. “Easy, baby, easy,” she said, putting her left hand on her stomach, while wiping dust from the window with her other hand. “Baby’s so gonna hate this, but we need a distraction, fast!”

There were sounds of men moving downstairs.

Sheila pressed both hands against the glass, grunted hard. Her arms glowed with green light, green flames burst around her hands, and a big blast of green light went through the window to some dry grass next to the barn door. “Ow, pain!” Sheila said as the door burst into flames, and then a fireball exploded. “Ha, ha! They were storing fuel in there! Hope they didn’t see me start it. So we jump to the ground, run to the truck, and I’m driving. Any arguments?”

Sheila aimed a blast of green plasma at another wall and blew a hole in it. The three agents and Drake scrambled behind her through the hole into an empty room, this one with a small window facing east, which Sheila peered through before blasting a big hole right next to it. The building made some alarming cracking noises.

“Jump!” Sheila said, diving through the hole with her left hand holding her belly, flying through the air, and somehow tumbling to the ground unhurt. The agents followed. Drake backed through the hole, hung by his arms, and dropped a short distance. Will led them toward the truck.

“Stop right there,” said a black-bearded man wearing a baseball cap, pointing a laser pistol.

“Don’t think so,” Sheila said, blasting green plasma that knocked him back against the wall. She opened the door to the truck, a king cab, with all four men were already crowded in and crouching, Drake in the front passenger seat. “Hotwire me, Drake,” Sheila said, tearing the makeup mirror off the passenger side sunflap while he bent down to fuss with the wires.

“Ow!” he said, as a spark burned his fingers.

The starter motor kicked in, the engine started. Sheila backed out of the parking spot onto the track, stomped hard on the brake while gunning the engine, then with a thick cloud of dust, roared, rumbled, and bumped away in the twilight.

“Stay down below the windows, everyone!” said Sheila, grabbing the mirror and putting it behind her head just as a pinpoint laser fired. “Oooh, that looks like it went right back where it came from.”

She kept gunning the engine and spinning the tires to throw up as much dust as possible to scatter the laser blasts.

“Will!” she said. “That hoverjet of yours, does it have missiles, bombs, laser cannons, stuff like that? How worried should we be if they take to the air?”

“It’s got a car catcher,” he replied. “Big gripper claws.”

“Okay, that’s bad. How long do you think it’ll take them to pull off that tarp and get airborn?”

“Couple minutes,” he said. “They might not know how to work the car-catcher. I don’t think it’s something we discussed.”

“Can’t count on that,” said Sheila. “Whatever they’re up to, it’s well planned, and we’re improvising. But you asked me to get you out, so I’m doing my best.”

The track went around the side of a low hill, putting the station buildings and barn on fire out of sight. “You can sit up now, but duck again if I say so,” Sheila said. The rusty king cab was going bumpity bump at about sixty kilometers an hour on a track more suited for twenty.

Suddenly a black jet passed low overhead, over the hill toward the station.

“I think we just got lucky,” said Sheila.

Kim, Ron, and Hirotaka stripped off their parasails and snuck through the shadows from shed to truck to outhouse, avoiding the burning barn.

“There’s been some ruckus already,” Kim said. “I wonder if the agents escaped.”

“With Yori helping, most probably,” said Hirotaka.

“There’s three, four guys pulling the tarp off the plane,” said Ron. “Should we rush ’em?”

“Not sure. Let’s move closer,” said Kim.

Ron, who was always looking nervously at every possible source of danger, pointed out the hole high up the east wall of the house.

“Good, they’re free, so we can protect the plane,” said Hirotaka, using a slingshot to fire a smoke pellet at the hatch.

Kim aimed her grappling hook gun at a wooden water tank tower and fired. Hirotaka and Ron ran toward the smoke. Hirotaka grabbed a terrorist from behind and pulled him to the ground. He broke another smoke pellet as laser fire broke through the thinning smoke. Ron threw some punches at another one, but found himself hurled out of the smoke to the ground. He rolled the moment he landed, avoiding a laser blast. Kim, swinging through the air, kicked someone to the ground and began beating him. He was able to throw her off.

In a moment, the hoverjet rose into the air, blowing away the smoke. All six men were crowded under the bubble.

“Here’s hoping this works,” said Kim, aiming her handheld silicon phase disrupter. The jet continued to rise. “Shielded!” she said in disgust, shutting it off. “Did we at least get any of them?” she asked, looking around, but saw only Hirotaka and Ron, who was staggering to his feet.

She pulled out the kimmunicator. “Wade, Felix, plan B. Track them to the ends of the Earth.”

“You got it,” said Wade.

“I see them, I’m circling around, I’ll follow them,” said Felix.

“If they enter hostile airspace,” said Kim, “follow Wade’s directions.” “I will,” said Felix.

But then, just when the hoverjet shot forward, it shimmered and disappeared.

“I lost it,” said Wade. “I’m looking for a vapor trail, but the air’s too dry.”

“Global Justice must have adapted Drakken’s advanced cloaking technology,” said Kim. “I didn’t know this.”

“News to me,” said Wade.

“So Central Asian Jihad has an invisible plane? This is hideous!”

Continued in part 2