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How Darkness Comes

Part 2

Kim Possible, Ron Stoppable, Rufus, Monique, Felix Renton, Wade Load, Dr. Betty Director, Will Du, Dr. Drakken, Shego, Yori, and Hirotaka are characters from the Kim Possible show, created by Mark McCorkle and Bob Schooley, owned and copyright © by the Walt Disney Company. This is part two of a three-part story, © 2005 by cloudmonet.

On a rutted track near an old cattle station somewhere in western Queensland, Sheila and Drake Jones, who worked for Crocodile Jack’s Zoo, and Will Du, Steve Rasp, and George Wind, three Global Justice agents, sat in the king cab of a rusty pickup truck under the moonless stars, uncertain what to do next.

Suddenly, the digital radio turned itself on, and a deep voice said, in the manner of a disk jockey, “This is Wade Load, broadcasting to your ears at 105.5 on the FM dial. This request goes out to Will, Steve, and George with hugs from Kimberly Ann. Come back to the ranch, all is forgiven.”

“Very funny, nerd!” said Sheila, making a K-turn.

“Was I supposed to understand that?” asked Will. “Getting private messages from a radio broadcast is supposed to be a sign of schizophrenia.”

“You know what it means. She whupped the terrorists and now she wants to make sure you guys are all right.”

“She didn’t mention us,” said Drake.

“Doy! No one cares if we get kidnapped.”

“Jack cares. We were supposed to go to Darwin, to tag that super croc.”

“Hmm. Kim might know we’re missing.”

A young Japanese man in black leather with wild hair ran to the truck as it pulled back to the station. “Where is Yori?” he asked, sounding very worried. Kim came running up beside him, leaving Ron hosing down the burning barn.

“Sheila?” asked Kim. “What happened here?”

“Will Du asked me to bust out, so I set the barn on fire as a distraction and busted out. Good thing I did, or the bad guys would’ve had a bunch of hostages when you showed up. You beat ’em, right?”

“Tried to. They got away with the plane, the invisible plane!”

“That’s why I wanted to fight for it, Shego!” said Will Du.

“Doy on me!” said Sheila, slapping her forehead. “You couldn’t say why because of the bugs.” She got out of the driver’s seat and flipped the seat to let the agents out.

“First thing’s first,” said Kim. “We need to dig a scratch line around the fire. There’s not enough water here to put it out. Felix took the jet to try to get a water scoop to douse the fire, but I haven’t heard back from him.”

“First thing is where is Yori?” Hirotaka said.

“She came to our house before the terrorists to tell us— something,” said Drake. “I haven’t seen her since.”

“I left her here. Where did she go? I must search for her.” Hirotaka sat down on the ground in full lotus position and closed his eyes.

“Funny way to look for someone,” said Steve Rasp.

“For someone with whom you share a deep bond, it can be the quickest way,” said George Wind. “Mysterious east stuff, you wouldn’t understand.”

“Oh, okay,” said Steve.

“The fire, the fire,” said Kim, and they all left Hirotaka by the truck in trance.

When the barn was reduced to glowing embers and Kim was sure the fire would burn out, they went into the house and sat on the couches and chairs in the one room that had any furniture. Kim lit the kerosene lamp.

“Hirotaka’s still meditating,” said Ron. “I hope he finds her. I’m worried too.”

“Yori’s pretty formidable,” said Kim.

“Okay, Will, George, Steve, you want to talk to us about who we are,” said Sheila. “But you’re cops, and the first thing cops always say is, ‘Anything you say can be used against you,’ so—”

“Can you agree that anything said here and now never leaves this room?” asked Kim.

“This is irregular,” said Will.

“Dude, all we need is fingerprints and hair samples, and they’re put away for life,” said Steve. “This isn’t about confession. This is about what we owe Sheila for saving our butts. You asked her to save us, and she did, even though it revealed who she and Drake used to be. They could have slipped away in the night with that truck, but they stayed to fight the fire.” He looked at Sheila. “I’m having a hard time seeing you, a real hero, and your nature-loving husband, as the same people who made and unleashed those diablo robots, tried to cover Wisconsin with magma, and made numerous other attempts to conquer the world or wreak havoc that were just plain freaky. What happened to Drakken and Shego? How’d they become Drake and Sheila Jones?”

Sheila made a funny nervous face. “Uh— short answer, the prison system works, and we reformed, cause we don’t want to spend the rest of our lives there.”

“Yes, we kind of enjoy our freedom,” Drake said.

“Just how much freedom would anyone else have had if you had conquered the world?” Steve asked.

“I changed my mind about that, okay?” said Drake.

“We don’t want to think about thinking like that,” said Sheila. “It was like a compulsion, ‘I’m Drakken. I’m important. I’m ruling the world.’ Believe me, if you ever met his mom! But we always failed. You can’t take over the world without huge armies fighting World War Three. I see that now. That’s why the schemes got lame. It didn’t matter, whatever, it wasn’t gonna work. I think Kim was laughing at us while she was fighting us. But now we’re doing better. For the first time in Drake’s life, he’s successful! Small victories, perhaps, but not small to the Peruvian Indians whose rain forest he helped save. Not small to the Greensleeves crew or the whales. Not small to Crocodile Jack. And maybe what I did for you wasn’t small either.”

“Steve and I guarded your Caribbean lair,” said George Wind. “The environment was disturbing, to say the least.”

“I was into this Goth thing, always wearing black, letting my hair shade my face, wearing black lipstick, saying, ‘I am evil,’ just to be different. My brother Herman is as annoying as Drake’s mom. I really went evil. I stole stuff. I went to work for a mad scientist with a superiority/inferiority complex. Blue skin, punk hair, like Dr. Frankenstein and his monster rolled into one. A Goth girl’s dreamboy. You wanna take over the world? Yeah, right, whatever— but at least it’s a wild party with lasers and robots. Prison? Who cares? I can bust us out again. I was so stupid. I thought it was fun, fighting and hurting people with my green glow.”

“That shows you had some self-control, doesn’t it?” asked Steve. “I saw you blast holes through wood and plaster. I know you can blast through rock, concrete, even steel. But when you blast people, they’re just stunned.”

“That’s just how my power works, Steve. Think about it. If my glow blew up or burned people, it’d burn me.”

“Have you ever killed anyone?” asked George.

“I tried to kill Kim, a number of times. I hated that girl. She was everything I could never be. I used to be a hero, for a little while at least, but nobody loved me the way people love her. Shego always had to wear a mask while she was saving people, like a super clown from a comic book. Nobody knew Sheila Goble was anyone special. One day Shego took off her mask and went bad. Take your secret identity and stuff it, Herman! I don’t know how many times Kim and I fought. I hated her so much—” Sheila’s eyes started watering up as she looked at Kim’s concerned face. “—and now she’s my friend. She hated me, too, but she just let it go.”

Kim reached over, touched Sheila’s hand, and then the two women were hugging.

“That’s what’s wrong with being an amateur,” said Will. “You form personal relationships with people from your cases. It clouds your judgment.”

“This is what it’s all about,” argued Kim. “Best possible result, bad girl turns good! This woman saved your life, knowing it could cost her her freedom, or at least the new identity she’s worked so hard to build. Doesn’t she deserve personal treatment?”

“What about you, Drake?” asked Steve. “You’re not saying much. Your wife’s doing all the talking.”

“We made a deal in Peru. We do what Sheila says is okay.”

The doorknob turned, the door opened. Two cyber-robotic tentacles gripped the top of the doorframe, and retracted, lifting Felix and his wheelchair up to floor level. “The doorway’s not wide enough for me to float through,” he explained. “I dropped the water, and the fire’s out. So what’s happening here?”

“We’re discussing how darkness comes to human souls, and how it goes away,” said Steve.

“Hirotaka,” said Kim, gently touching him on the shoulder. “Felix is back.” He startled, and dropped less than an inch to the ground.

“He was floating, Kim, to make his spirit float much farther,” Ron explained.

Hirotaka wiped tears from his eyes and stood up. “Is it time to go?” he asked.

“Did you find her?” Kim asked quietly.

“I weep for my love
stranded in hidden mountains
cold with plans of death,”

said Hirotaka. “Yori is hidden aboard the hoverjet.”

“Let’s hope you’re mistaken,” said Will Du. “If she stowed aboard our jet, she must be a hostage— or worse. There’s nowhere for her to hide.”

“Not for you, perhaps,” said Hirotaka.

Snow thinly covered the barren mountains somewhere in central Asia where the almost invisible Global Justice hoverjet settled to a landing in the darkness. Four bearded men wearing black clothes and turbans, and one who was clean-shaven got out of the plane, shimmering into sight as they stepped off the ramp onto the stony ground. The pilot, who was also clean shaven, shut off the engine, turned off the cabin lights, and as he did, the hoverjet became visible, a darker form against the dim stones and starlit snow.

A bunch of shadowy men with dark turbans came out of a cave, carrying a large tarp, mottled like the stones, which they all pulled over the plane.

Inside the plane, in a hidden place, a black hooded ninja girl saw the dark tarp cloaking the bubble and pulled off the black communicator clipped to her belt, pressed the button, and whispered, “Wade!”

She heard rustling outside, boots on the ramp, and people entering the plane carrying automatic rifles and laser guns. She quieted her breathing, faded into something that no non-ninja would ever notice.

The men were speaking a language she didn’t know, but she was recording and streaming what they said.

Wade jumped out of bed to the sound of a computer alarm, a sudden flood of information coming from a remote source via several satellites. Preliminary automatic analysis seemed to show a growing sound file encrypted with the new protocol he shared with Yori, but it was coming from some remote mountains inhabited only be certain obscure Asian tribes, and probably, Central Asian Jihad.

Caution was called for. Some of these guys were skilled computer geeks whose viruses and worms were difficult to detect when inactive. The “Blood of the Martyrs” worm was especially annoying. It would cause a computer to shout, “Death to infidels!” followed by bullet holes appearing in whatever was on the screen, which would quickly bleed to make the entire screen turn red, and then the computer would shut down, and there’d be no way to restart it without replacing the hard disk.

So Wade took every precaution, disconnecting or turning off a lot of equipment, before he dared try to unscramble or listen to the file.

“Wade!” whispered Yori’s voice, but she said nothing more, and after a short period of silence and some bumping noises, several men spoke in a language Wade didn’t know, he guessed either Arabic or some local tongue. After a couple of minutes of this, they stopped, made more bumping noises, then silence. Yori whispered, “I’m okay, on the Global Justice plane, can’t fly it without removing the tarp, don’t know where I am. Don’t beep, don’t talk, text only. Yori out.”

With a sigh of relief, Wade reconnected and restarted his other computers, and began typing a message to Yori, telling her exactly where she was. It was not a good place.

Early morning on the outskirts of a small town in Queensland, Kim and Ron were helping Drake and Sheila straighten up their home, hoping against hope that the crocodile-cam robot ticks would show up unharmed, somewhere under the mess. Hirotaka was sleeping on the bed.

Will Du was on the phone, trying to get through the Global Justice voice-mail system, which he apparently hadn’t used for awhile, since all the access codes he remembered were leading him in circles.

Kim rolled her eyes, went over to Will Du to offer him the kimmunicator when it beeped at her. She went outside on the porch, where Steve Rasp and George Wind were drinking sodas on the front steps, hopped to the ground, and said “What’s the sitch?” to a very frazzled and worried looking Wade.

“Kim, Yori’s on the plane. She’s okay, for now. I’ve got her coordinates, but—”

“No buts, Wade, give them to me.”

“Extreme caution is called for. This could be Jihad central headquarters. I’ll know more when I get Yori’s recording translated.”

“Wade, I’ve got Will Du of Global Justice here. He probably knows whatever language they’re speaking.”

“We found two!” Drake said excitedly, when Kim stepped back into the house.

“That’s nice,” said Kim. “Will, I need your help. Wade’s got a recording of some terrorists talking on your hoverjet, and we need a translation.”

Crocodile Jack pulled off the track in front of the house. “Drake said he found three of the robocams, but then the phone went busy again.”

“I hope Drake and Sheila can come to Darwin,” said Kate.

“I don’t know,” said Jack. “Looks like Global Justice guys on the porch.” He walked to the steps. “G’day, mates, I’m Crocodile Jack,” he said, extending his right hand.

“I’m agent Steve Rasp of Global Justice,” said the tall black man.

“I’m agent George Wind,” said the short Asian man. “I would like to thank you for reporting our kidnapping.”

“Can you tell me what’s up with my good mates Drake and Sheila? They in some kind of trouble?”

“No comment,” said Steve. “I’m willing to defer to Miss Possible’s judgment for now.”

“Ah, well, as Jake’s employer, I’d kind of like to know—”

“Go on in and talk about it,” said George.

He stepped inside and Kate followed.

“G’day, Jack, Kate,” said Drake. “So good to see you. We found four video croc ticks so far, and they’re all fully operational.”

“Aw, yeah, mate, we were so worried. A terrorist cell in the outback, never thought I’d see it.”

“They got what they wanted, too,” said Will Du. “Our plane, thanks to Sheila!”

“I just did what you begged me to do!” she protested. “None of you were in any condition to fight. I barely got us away in the truck!”

“Hey!” Steve said to Will, with a bit of menace in his voice. “I don’t want to hear you ever bad-mouth Sheila for what she did last night. So they got the plane. We know where it is. Why don’t we go get it back?”

“Us and what army?” asked Will. “There’s dozens of them, maybe hundreds.”

“There’s at least three armies prowling around those mountains who’d just love to find these guys,” said Steve Rasp.

“No good, no good,” said Kim. “We don’t want Yori killed.”

“She went on board that plane risking self sacrifice so that we could learn these things and stop those terrorists,” said Will. “If they carry out their plan, millions of people will die.”

“So let’s stop them,” said Kim. “We’ve got me and Ron, Hirotaka, three of Global Justice’s best guys, Felix with my jet and all my gear, and Yori on the inside. We can do this.”

“And you’ve got me— if you want me,” Sheila.

“Oh, yeah, I’m voting you in,” said Steve.

“Am I missing something here?” asked Crocodile Jack. “You can’t take Sheila on a dangerous mission. She’s got a little baby inside.”

With a whoosh! Sheila’s hands were enveloped in green flames. “You might say I have special abilities,” she said, and with a sucking noise, the flames went out. She put her hands on her swollen belly and whispered, “Calm down. It’s okay.”

“Whoa!” said Crocodile Jack.

“That’s amazing,” said Kate.

“Sheila knows the ancient discipline of flaming hands,” said Hirotaka. “I can’t imagine where she learned it.”

“Is it okay for a pregnant woman to do?” asked Kate.

“My baby doesn’t like it, but this is a world emergency,” said Sheila. “Drake, you take those cam ticks to Darwin for Jack and break a leg, okay?”

“Sure thing, dumpling,” he replied.

A small black jet with KP monogrammed on the tail flew over the Indian Ocean away from the morning sun. Inside, Felix’s wheelchair was locked in position at the controls. Kim, Ron, Hirotaka, Sheila, George, and Steve, were listening to Will run down his translation of the terrorists’ conversation:

“So this plane really is invisible.”

“We should use it with the dragonslayer, fly to somewhere or somewhere, uh huh, mm hmm.”

“They couldn’t get the dragonslayer.”

“With this, we can get it ourselves.”

“Perhaps they have moved it or tightened security.”

“We can look. If they don’t have the dragonslayer, maybe they have other stuff we can use. With a Chinese weapon, maybe America will blame China, instead of us. They don’t trust China.”

“The governments talk.”

“That’s why we must use the dragonslayer. Then there will be no government, no mountain bunker. It will all be a big crater. The rest will be buried in ash or burn.”

“If we go tonight, drop some ticks on the lab, then monitor them for a few days, uh huh, mm hmm.”

Hirotaka raised his hand.

“Yes?” asked Will.

“The weapons lab of Dr. Fu that Yori guarded. It’s one of several on the stony plain. This might be the place they want to plunder.”

“Do you have any idea what a dragonslayer is?”

“I think I do,” said Kim. “The Chinese word for dragon is also their word for dinosaur. Many people believe the dinosaurs were killed by the asteroid impact that made the Chixulub crater. From their talk of a crater, I guess the dragonslayer is some kind of superbomb, maybe something like the pan-dimensional vortex inducer, or something made with encapsulated antimatter that detonates on incineration. Either thing could be no larger than a big soup can.”

“What kind of security clearance do you have, Kim?” Will asked her.

“I just know about this stuff because I’ve saved it,” she replied.

“Usually from people like Shego and Drakken,” said Will.

“Hey!” said Sheila. “Give me some credit here. I’m five months pregnant, I’m not in prime fighting shape, but I’m fighting for you. What do I have to do to prove to you I really have changed? Do we both have to die, me and my daughter, before you believe in me?”

“Nobody’s going to die,” Kim said firmly.

“We have the best non-lethal weapons in the world,” said Ron, and Rufus the molerat hopped on his shoulder, nodding agreement. “We came well-stocked for a battle with terrorists in mountain caves, thinking, ehhh, when they kidnapped you, maybe they’d go straight to Central Asia. Now this—” Ron opened a cabinet and pulled out a long gun with a two centimeter barrel.

“We’re fighting terrorists with paintball guns,” said Will Du.

“Correction— paintball rifles,” said Ron, “and funny thing, the paintballs are actually filled with antiexplosive foam reagents which mix on impact.”

“What?!” said Will. “That’s—”

“That’s a great idea,” said Steve Rasp. “Why didn’t our boys think of using foam that way?”

“Are you kidding? No way can one of these balls have sufficient reagent—”

“Wade’s first idea was a big squirt gun, like a handheld version of your hoverjet sprayer,” said Ron. “This works pretty well, but we learned a lot of reagent gets wasted instead of mixed when you spray it. For a cave or small building a few balls is plenty, and these bad babies have range!”

“Okay, that takes out the gunpowder guns,” said Steve, “but what about the lasers?”

“The ones they had at the cattle station were those cheap Korean blasters,” said Sheila. “Zap, zap, zap, zap, and, oops, the battery’s dead, and needs a twelve-hour recharge. Most of ’em are probably dead by now, or will be soon.”

“I wouldn’t count on that,” said Will.

“I’m not counting on it, just telling you my own personal experience,” said Sheila. “You can’t put better batteries in ’em, either. You’ll either blow a circuit breaker, or get a blast so powerful it melts the gun.”

“So if they’re still using cheap Korean blasters, they couldn’t override the lock on the Global Justice guns,” said Ron.

“Let’s not run down specs of our gear in front of Shego,” said Will. “That is why they kept beating us. They wanted to know how to unlock our guns.”

“Sport, what do you think I don’t know about your guns?” asked Sheila. “They’re better than Korean, got about fifty to seventy good blasts in ’em before they need recharging, but hacking the software security is impossible, and somehow I doubt these bearded whackos have the finesse to strip ’em apart and rewire the hardware to bypass that— at least, not yet.”

Will glared at Sheila.

“Okay, we don’t have any defense against the lasers, which may or may not be a problem,” said Steve. “What about offense?”

“In our experience, the antiexplosive foam applied at close range works pretty well,” said Kim. “They can’t fight very well while they’re coughing and choking on foam. Kinda stings the eyes, too, since we added a bit of pepper juice to the mix.”

“You know, Will, I think Kim knows what she’s doing,” said Steve.

Then Kim and Ron passed out their triple spindle grappling hook guns. Steve Rasp and George Wind studied theirs with open-mouthed wonder. Even Will Du seemed impressed.

“We’re over India now,” Felix announced. “Potentially hostile air space in about two minutes.”

“Wade couldn’t get clearance?” asked Kim.

“Not on such short notice, not from these folks.”

“So pro and so amateur at the same time,” Will said with disgust. “Can you get me through to Dr. Director?”

“No,” said Kim. “We can go higher than any Russian fighter jets these upland countries throw at us, but if Washington learns where we’re going, there’s no arguing with them or evading their stuff. They don’t know who Yori is, and they really don’t want her dead, but she’s the only one likely to get killed if the American forces get involved.”

“Remember those little ticks Sheila found on you?” Ron asked. “What do you bet some people in the American command have them, too? How do you think Strong Horse always knows where to hide and when he’s been located?”

“Circling back to climb,” said Felix. “Kim, you should take the copilot chair in case there’s air action.”

“Let’s take her up to sixteen miles,” she said, sitting down. “That gets rid of just about everything but the bigger missiles.”

Kim got out of the copilot’s chair, put on her jumpsuit, helmet, parasail pack, and ran down a checklist of gear. “We know exactly where the cave entrances are, and where the hoverjet is, and everyone knows their target. Any questions?”

“Yes,” said Will. “If Wade uses the same spy satellites as the American command, how does he know more about these caves than they do?”

“Better data analysis,” said Kim. “Anything else?”

The plane tipped to change direction and plunged into a steep dive. “Line up in bail order,” said Felix. “Will first, then Steve, Hirotaka, George, Sheila, Kim, Ron.” George and Hirotaka switched places. “Hit the nylon immediately, we will be bailing at the bottom.”

“That’s insane,” said Will.

“Nobody’s gonna expect it, and nobody’s gonna shoot,” said Ron. “Not till it’s too late.”

“It’ll put us each exactly where we wanna be,” said Kim.

“If I can do it, you guys should be able to do it,” said Sheila.

The side door opened. Will tumbled out, followed by the others. Parasails opened, each one coasted to a landing, stripped off the chute, and scrambled to position.

The two terrorists who were outside, as Kim had hoped, presumed this was some sort of attack and ran to defensive positions near one mouth of one of the caves. George Wind, who was closest to them, took aim with his paintball rifle and fired a ball which splattered into a rapidly expanding cauliflower of blue foam.

A wild sputtering of automatic weapons fire mixed with laser blasts came from behind a rock partially shielding the main cave entrance. Will Du got a couple of paintballs behind the rock. The rapidly expanding foam silenced most of the weapons. Ron and Hirotaka rushed toward a closer position and shot paintballs through the existing foam deeper into the cave.

Kim swung from her grappling hook line to land on top of the entrance rock. A number of men wearing turbans and coarse brown clothing erupted through the foam with laser guns. They were sputtering, gagging, rubbing their eyes, and blasting randomly. Kim kicked the closest one’s head, knocking him into another. Hirotaka was demonstrating mastery of several styles of Kung Fu against opponents unable to see the beauty of his moves. Ron was moving his fists and feet in ways that seemed completely random if not ridiculous, but neverless knocking them down.

Wearing a mottled gray turban and weatherstained brown clothes that served to hide him well against some large boulders, a sniper with a laser took aim at the red haired American vixen who seemed to be the leader. A fat man— no, a pregnant woman in a gray jumpsuit spun toward him with her arms raised, as though surrendering, perhaps, but then her hands erupted with green flame and a blast of force like an explosion knocked him back against some boulders. He lost consciousness. Only his thick turban protected his skull from being split.

Clutching her belly and grimacing in pain, Sheila looked around for other snipers.

Steve Rasp and George Wind were swinging and winching themselves through the air toward a now silent hidey hole erupting blue foam. Will Du scrambled around the other side.

“The plane!” Sheila shouted, as some men on the far side of the hoverjet pulled off the tarp. “Yori! Fight!” she yelled, running up the slope toward the plane. “I’m so out of shape,” she muttered. She fired her grappling hook at the plane, hooked onto something, jumped into the air, blasted herself higher with green plasma, and winched herself sideways at maximum speed.

Inside the plane, as the tarp slid off, Yori heard a woman’s voice yell, “The plane!” then, “Yori, fight!” She crept like a panther to the trapdoor, forced it open, and lept to the ground, silvery boomerang in hand, before the ramp opened completely.

There were three men there. In a flash they had knives in their hands, not wanting to risk damage to the hoverjet. Yori threw her boomerang, which wobbled in front of her, spun like a propeller, then suddenly flew toward the men, konking one of them on the head as he dodged to the side, as if it could follow him no matter which way he turned. The second man was kicked in the head by Yori while mesmerized by her boomerang’s silvery antics, and the third one grabbed from behind by Sheila, who gave him a zap of plasma through his forehead with her finger, knocking him out.

Unfortunately, there weren’t just three men, but a whole squad of about twenty climbing up the other side, some of them already stained by blue antiexplosive foam, a few wearing goggles, gas masks, or other face protection.

“They’re learning fast,” Sheila said.

Yori threw her titanium boomerang so that it knocked off the turbans of a couple of the terrorists from behind, causing sudden cloth in the face and unexpected stumbles. It came back, flew over Yori’s head, bounced off the hoverjet behind her, and landed at her feet. “I should’ve caught that,” she said, throwing it directly at the closest one’s chest, knocking the wind out of him.

Suddenly a hail of paintballs came down on the terrorists from one side, quickly expanding to a frothing slippery goo. Yori snatched back her boomerang and backed away. Sheila also backed away, firing plasma blasts to knock down the terrorists in gas masks, then just anyone she could see in the sputtering fog.

Kim and Ron seemingly came out of nowhere, spinning and furiously punching and kicking the surprised terrorists. Yori instantly joined them. Sheila lit her hands and sent all the pain she could possibly muster into the turbaned man who was punching at her. Hirotaka rotated through the air and kicked his head. “You’re tired, back off!” Hirotaka told Sheila, and she didn’t argue, but ran quickly to a position offering both cover and view.

“Not so much the hero, now,” said what had become her least favorite voice.

“You don’t know what this does to me,” she told Will Du, making a brief flash of angry green flames in her hands. “When I start having flashbacks of the time Kim’s fists flew at me so fast I couldn’t dodge ’em anymore and went flying backwards thirty feet through the air to slam into a concrete wall, I know I’m drained. So what? You’re taking a breather, too.”

George Wind charged into the fray, and showed that he also had considerable skill in the martial arts.

“Looks like we’re winning,” said Steve Rasp. “I think we’d better watch the perimeter just in case somebody tries to—”

“Get aboard the plane?” asked Sheila, as suddenly the ramp closed and the plane became nearly invisible, even before taking off in a wind that blew sand and snow in the air.

“We won the battle, but lost the objective,” said Kim.

“That tanks,” said Ron.

“We do have a tracking device on board,” said Yori. “I left my communicator hidden in a storage cabinet, turned on. Wade says he can’t get a signal with the plane’s invisibility on, but whenever they land and shut down the engines, we’ll know where they are.”

“Wade, get me the American Base Commander in Kabul,” Kim said to her kimmunicator. “Baby Bear Branson, this is Knockout, do you read, over?”

“Knockout, what are you doing on my computer monitor?”

“Better encryption. Listen, I got 37 live black hats wrapped for delivery over here. You wanna send some buddies to pick ’em up?”

“You’re in a hot zone.”

“Yeah, we wanna get out of here before the neighbors get curious.”

“Coming your way. Baby Bear out.”

“Bye now.”

Five blackhawk helicopters circled over the scene while one landed on the saddle where the Global Justice hoverjet had been parked. “Major Henderson, U.S.M.C., ma’am!” said the first man out of the chopper.

“Kim Possible, my own team and Global Justice agents. These people hijacked a Global Justice plane.”

“You’re not special forces! Do you have clearance to operate here?”

“Just talked to Baby Bear ten minutes ago,” said Kim.

“How’d you get these guys, anyway?” asked Major Henderson.

“Special tactics,” said Ron.

“Sad to say, two of them managed to take the plane while we were subduing the others,” said Kim.

Henderson picked up his radio. “Harris, Buhne, condor on the wing. Any clicks?”

“Negative” said a crackling voice.

“How long ago did they escape, and what’s the maximum speed of the plane?” asked Henderson.

“About 20 minutes, about mach 2,” said Kim. “I don’t think you’re going to find them. By the way, have you always had that pink mole on your neck? Right over there, just beyond where you shave?”

“Been there for a while, anyway. What’s your point, Possible?”

“Sheila, come here,” Kim said. “What do you think?”

“Looks like the kind to me,” she replied, zapping the pink lump with a small green spark from her finger and pulling it off Henderson’s neck. Underneath were tiny wiggling robot legs.

“You had a bug, Major Henderson,” said Kim. “Strong Horse’s geeks have been listening to you, I think.”

“What is that thing?” he asked. “It looks like a tick.”

“It’s a bug that looks like a bug,” said Kim. “I wonder if Baby Bear has one stuck on his head? You may all want to check everyone at Kabul base. This is why the black hats always know you’re coming.”

Concluded in Part 3