Shego sprawled in the big comfy chair and stared at the red head taking up most of the bed, she still wasn’t sure how the girl managed it. A laptop sat open on her thighs, with an urgent e-mail message from SA Thomas flashing on the screen. The coded message ordered her to meet the agent down at the lakefront near the aquarium. She tasted bitterness at the back of her throat and scowled at the softly snoring form on the bed. When had she become domesticated? A cute red head walks into her life and all of a sudden she’s a poster girl for the G-men and a house-wife for a hyperactive goody-two shoes? What the hell had happened to her over the last few months? What was she doing sharing a bed with a girl who was so naïve that she actually believed that Fox News was “fair and balanced?”
Shego sighed and rubbed her temples. She was living in an apartment supplied by the government, talking to government shrinks, doing government jobs… something was seriously wrong. What the hell are you, Kitten? She thought, what are you doing to me? She looked at the computer screen and read the message one more time before deliberately reaching out and deleting the file. She ignored the little voice in the back of her mind that was trying to tell her how much she enjoyed being here with Kim. She half tried to convince herself that she was stringing the innocent little kitten along and putting one over on the spooks, but she knew that argument was hollow before she even started.
The truth was that in a few short months, Kim had wormed into her heart and she was losing herself. She remembered three times in the last week when she had stopped doing something because Kim wouldn’t have liked it. Sighing softly, Shego rose and gathered her belongings. She sorted carefully and took only those things that she considered to be truly her own. She hesitated at one point over a pair of onyx earrings that Kim had given her. They did belong to her; Kim had bought them for her. But, if she took them, every time she saw them, she would be reminded of the enthusiastic red head. She set them aside for the moment, unsure of what she really wanted to do.
She stopped briefly at the laptop and typed in a command, and then she picked up her carryall and let herself out. The command erased all her files and formatted the drives. It also started a worm program to, once more, erase her public records from the internet. She would have to start over, again. She paused on the sidewalk as she exited the building to adjust to the low temperature outside. She told herself that it was the cold air stinging her eyes that caused them to water as she stalked off, alone, to reclaim her life.
SA Thomas finished verifying that the kid’s blackberry wasn’t emitting or receiving any signals and looked up at the young man sitting across from him. “Are you sure you weren’t followed?” He asked.
Wade grimaced, “I may not leave my room very often,” he said “But when I do, I assure you I am very much aware of my surroundings.” The computer genius was very uncomfortable being cut off from his network like this, but agent Thomas had insisted and Wade was sure the man had important information.
Thomas snorted and lit a cigarette. “There have been four attacks in the last three weeks.” He said softly. “No one has found anything out of the ordinary in the tests they’ve run, and so far, no one has put the attacks together.”
“Four? I only heard about two.”
The older agent handed a stack of papers to Wade.
“Paper? How quaint!”
“Don’t knock it young man, I keep all my records on paper or in my head.”
“There’s nothing wrong with keeping your files on a computer, the dangers are way overstated in the media…”
“What is my password for files pertaining to Shego?”
“Emerald Rogue.” The teen replied immediately.
Thomas nodded, “Hmmm, what time am I meeting the president tomorrow?”
“I don’t… You’re meeting the president?”
“You don’t know because I have it written down on a spiral notebook in my pocket. And I arranged the meeting without using one piece of electronic communication equipment.” The old man allowed himself a brief smile, “That’s why I keep my important notes on paper. Now, find the common link between those four events, without using your computer.”
“It would be a lot faster if I…”
“And it would also be a lot more public.”
Wade turned his attention to the stack of papers that SA Thomas had given him and went to work.
James Possible woke up with a sharp pain in his side.
“Jim, I heard a noise downstairs.”
“Probably one of the boys getting a late night snack, honey.”
“Maybe,” Anne didn’t sound convinced. “Could you check it out for me?”
“OK,” he said grumpily, “but you’re going to owe me big time.”
James walked down the hallway toward the kitchen blearily rubbing the sleep from his eyes, trying to suppress a yawn. The unmistakable sound of a gun being cocked brought him wide awake. He stopped moving and held up his open hands.
“Good boy!” a sinister voice floated to him from the darkness, “Looks like we got us a smart one. Knows what a gun sounds like and knows what to do when he hears it.”
“Whoever you are,” James said in a slightly loud tone of voice, hoping it would carry back to his wife in their bedroom, “I just want you to know that I’ve already called the police.”
“Nice try, Pops. I cut the phone lines.”
Anne heard his voice carry through the house and picked up the phone immediately but she didn’t have a dial tone. She tried frantically to remember where her cell phone was. It was charging on the sink in the bathroom, could she get to it without making enough noise to draw attention to herself? It didn’t matter; she had to call the police. She went into the bathroom as quietly as she could and searched around on the counter for her phone. She found it and picked it up but the cord caught something on the countertop and knocked over a bunch of her toiletries. The crash was loud enough that she was sure someone would come for her soon. She opened her phone and dialed “911” then hit the mute button and shoved the phone into a drawer just as the door to her bedroom burst open.
A masked man pointed a gun at her and asked in a harsh voice, “What are you doing in there?”
“Looking for my phone.” She said truthfully.
He pushed into the small bathroom and shoved her down onto the toilet. He shined his flashlight around and spotted a phone on the floor. “Its right here.” He said and laughed nastily. She tried not to show her relief that he had found James’ phone and hers was still in the drawer. It was fairly easy because the gunman grabbed her by the hair and dragged her into the kitchen where he pushed her onto the floor next to James. She held him and prayed silently that the twins were asleep and that they’d stay out of the way of these people, whoever they were. Then someone came into the kitchen and pointed a gun at her and pulled the trigger. She felt a pinch in her chest and James jumped up roaring, but someone hit him and the world slowly turned black.
“Come on, Wake up!”
“What time is it?”
“What the hell do you want at five in the morning…? Bonnie?” Ron was nonplussed.
“Hey, Ron...” She said quietly, in greeting. I need to tell you something important... She started to say but he interrupted her.
“I know,” she sighed. “I just told you that.”
“Where you’d go?”
“I needed some time to think. I went to see a friend.” I don’t know where to start.
“Who,” Ron asked scornfully, “Brick?”
“That is totally unfair, Ron Stoppable!” She felt her tension rise. One time, she met Brick for lunch and once she met him by accident and Ron wouldn’t let her live it down. He had sex with Kim, but she couldn’t meet Brick for lunch… Maybe if she just blurted it out… They were going to rape me.
“No,” he replied accusingly, “what’s unfair is you trying to make me choose between you and my best friend and then running off to Brick whenever I do something you think is stupid, which, according to you, is just about every day.”
“Well, you got that part right, you do something stupid just about everyday, sometimes more than once a day.” Fighting her tears she bit her lip, still willing herself to come out and say something. You saved me, Ron.
“I’m so glad you woke me up at four in the morning to tell me that.”
“That’s not why I came here... you st…” You stopped them from raping me.
“…stupid buffoon?” he finished spitefully for her. But the pain in his voice went through her like a knife and she fell back, open-mouthed, trying to find something to say. Trying to find some way to call back her words and start over from the beginning.
“Thank you so much for coming here in the middle of the night and waking me up to tell me how stupid I am and how much I messed up your life.” He ranted. “While you’re at it, why don’t you tell me how much of a loser I am, how low on the food chain I swim…” he got up and looked at her with false excitement, “Oh! And you can make fun of my ears! Maybe you could mock my choice of pets…” he continued, aware of the tears running down her face but unable to keep his disappointed rage bottled up inside any longer. He turned to look at her and Bonnie saw cruelty in his eyes, “Or…” his grin was almost maniacal, “you could tell me how bad my taste in women is.”
“You once told me that sometime, I would have to choose between you and Kim.”
Bonnie found her back against the wall and her legs slowly gave out on her. NO! I didn’t mean it! Don’t choose! She shook her head weakly and mouthed the words but no sound came out.
“I guess now is a good time.” He said woodenly and turned his back on her. “What’s up…? KP…?” Kim was crying.
Bonnie slid down the wall and settled in an untidy heap, still unable to speak. You saved me!
The phone woke Kim up.
She giggled tiredly at the thought of someone calling her ‘Ms.’ “Yes.” She responded and reached across the bed for Shego.
“My name is Agent Johnson of the FBI. I’m calling to inform you that your brothers have been kidnapped by unknown assailants and are currently missing.”
“What?” The bed was empty, where was Shego? “My brothers…”
“I’m very sorry to bring the news to you this way, Ms. Possible, but is there anyone you know who might hold a grudge against you, that would take this kind of action?”
“Shego…?” Kim looked around frantically.
“Did you say ‘Shego?’?”
“Yes,” she said hesitantly, “NO! Shego wouldn’t kidnap my brothers… she’s… just not here… OH… Jim and Tim…!” She was suddenly wide awake. “Someone’s kidnapped my brothers…? My parents…?”
“Are fine. The kidnappers knocked them out, but they’re recovering just fine. Ms. Possible, do you think this ‘Shego’ could be responsible for abducting your brothers?”
“No. But I have a lot of enemies…” her mind began racing through the list of possible suspects, while she mentally prepared a list of essential gear for a rescue mission. “I’ll have my computer guru coordinate with your office, and, agent Johnson… Tell my mom, I’m on my way.”
She picked up her Kimmunicator and activated it while she looked through the apartment. She noticed that several key items of Shego’s were missing. The onyx earrings that Kim had given her after their first date were sitting on the dresser next to Shego’s open laptop. The screen was black except for a dos prompt at the top left corner.
“SHEGO!” She called out but got no answer.
“Wade!” Her Kimmunicator was silent.
She staggered backwards until she tripped over the bed and sprawled on the floor. Wade; not answering… Shego; gone… Jim and Tim; kidnapped… Ron; Oh God! Ron!
She pushed his speed dial button, “Ron!”
“What’s up…? KP…?”
“RON! Oh! Thank god!” She gasped and began crying in relief. Ron was OK! “Ron, someone’s kidnapped my brothers. I can’t get a hold of Wade and Shego’s gone!”
“I’m on my way, KP.”
Ron threw on his mission clothes and grabbed his bag. He didn’t even glance at her as he walked by Bonnie sitting stunned on the floor. He just asked, “Are you still here?” But he didn’t look back or wait for an answer.
“You saved me.” She whispered. He didn’t hear her.
Wade shook his head and looked up at the agent sitting across from him. “If there’s anything tying these attacks together, I can’t find it like this. Face it; we just don’t have enough computing power.”
“I know they’re connected.” The older agent said tiredly. “My gut is telling me that something big is going on and this is the first step.”
“Yeah, you showed me your time lines and it all makes sense.” Wade looked over Thomas’ notes again. “This attack in Idaho…”
“Yes. Seventy-five percent of the population affected to some degree, sixty percent severely, the same percentages in California with the paralysis and in Kansas with the deafness. The only place the numbers are off is in South Dakota, where the ratio is nearly the same but the over all percentages are less.”
“So, they’re connected, but I can’t find out exactly how without some extra RAM.” Wade said in exasperation.
“Before you go off half cocked, I want to show you something.” Thomas pulled a paper with four photos on it out of a folder. “Look at these pictures.”
“Dr. Director or her clone in GJ lock-up last summer…”
“Hmmm,” the agent nodded, “look at the photos carefully, particularly the third and fourth.”
Wade picked up the sheet and studied the photos, first taking each one as an individual subject then glancing back and forth between them. “The woman in the fourth picture is a different one…” he concluded.
“You see that and I see that. According to GJ records, these four photos are all of the same woman; clone number three.”
Wade’s heart was beating very fast. Clone number three was the one that had gone after Kim in the hospital. “Where are the records?” He asked.
“I pulled them again a couple of months ago,” the agent said, handing over another set of hardcopies. “The discrepancy was not apparent.”
“That means someone in GJ switched the clones around in the cells and then changed the records…”
“That means that it wasn’t a clone who tried to kill Kim Possible.”