Your standard legal disclaimer thing: I don't own Kim Possible. I will remove this story off the net if they give me shit. Blah blah blah, yada yada yada. You all know the drill by now.
Small Surprises, Big Consequences
Chapter 11: Confrontation
Kim looked up and over the dark redbrick piece of architecture for well over a minute taking in its dimensions and noting it's considerable age. From the general wear of the surface and the style in which the building was constructed, it had to be some holdover from a much older era of Go City, long before steel and glass dominated the landscape. Kim couldn't help but wonder what growing up here must have been like. The building stuck out like a sore thumb.
The cheerleader smirked despite herself when she realized both her current companions had that in common with this nearly ancient building. Shego noticed Kim's slight grin out of the corner of her eye, it did little to soothe her already simmering temper.
"What the hell are you smiling at?" She stated, as she reached for the door latch.
Kim looked up suddenly, and glanced over at the thief's glowering expression. She's gotten even less bearable since we entered the city. Is she going to be like this the whole time we're here? Outwardly Kim just dismissed her question with a shrug as she stepped out onto the sidewalk.
"Just imagining the look on your face when I get this done," Kim stated flippantly.
Shego sneered for a moment but was too riled to even retort with a usual snarky response.
Agni was the last to get out of the car, looking up at her home with all the apprehension of a prisoner being led to the gallows. She swallowed nervously and looked back over at her Mother and Kim. Remember, she says she can do anything, and Mom's with her and she can do more than anything. It'll be cool… Wow, I am not up to this optimistic crap Kim preaches.
Kim paused and looked at her watch suddenly noting just how late it was. The sky had darkened over, and streetlamps were now the major source of the surrounding light. The three had left the Possible household at around four in the afternoon, and it was now nearly eight-thirty at night. It would have been well into the night if Shego and that tank-on-wheels she called a car hadn't broken nearly ever traffic law ever written to get them here so quickly. But even so, Kim probably wouldn't have time to have a real sit-down with Agni's grandmother until tomorrow morning anyway.
I'd rather get this out of the way as soon as possible, but I guess this is fine too. At least I'll finally get to meet who I'll be dealing with.
Shego on her end was far less positive while she looked up at the heavy dark-brown door before her. This building had been her childhood home since before she could even remember. She'd been an infant when her parents had moved to Go from the Ukraine almost twenty-five years ago and until she turned eighteen, this was where she'd called home. Regardless, that didn't mean she held any particular fondness for this place. The bad memories far outweighed the good.
The thief then glanced over towards where Agni stood; the preteen's hands were in her pockets to keep them from fidgeting with one another. Shego managed a weak smile at the sight. Well, maybe they're not all bad memories.
She straightened up and turned to Kim. "Well, c'mon. May as well get this over with."
Kim took a step forward, but hesitated. "Um, Shego? Maybe we should get our game plan down first. Just so we're all on the same page."
Shego closed her eyes and thought about it for a moment, the looked up and crossed her arms. "What've you got in mind?" Agni leaned against the bumper of Shego's car and crossed her arms matching Shego's pose.
Kim thought on this for a moment, "Well, I think you should leave most of the talking to me. Last thing either of us wants is a messy drama."
Shego shook her head, "Not gonna happen, no way am I just gonna smile and sit in the corner like a good little girl." She held up her index finger knowingly, "You don't know my mom like I do."
"Gram is really scary," Agni added frowning.
Kim sighed, and moved a stray lock of red hair behind her ear. "No offence but… neither of you are exactly the most… personable people I know."
Shego craned an eyebrow, while Agni just turned her nose up at Kim. "What's that supposed to mean exactly?"
"Look," Kim said in her 'laying down the law' voice, "You're going in there looking for a fight, and that's the last thing we need. Just leave the talking to me and everything will be spankin, okay?"
Shego looked Kim in the eye; both matching each other in willpower as they tried to stare one another down, but as expected Shego was the first to fold, looking away with a frown. "Whatever. Lets just go inside," She tsked, "God I hope Hego's working late."
Agni tensed slightly and pushed off where she was leaning, walking beside Kim as they made their way towards the door.
Kim looked down at the young girl and noticed her growing apprehension. The redhead smiled reassuringly down at Agni and placed a hand on her shoulder. Agni would never admit it, but she was able to find more comfort in that gesture than she'd normally have liked. The pre-teen blushed and turned away but this time didn't shrug off the hand.
Walking a few feet behind the two, Shego pretended that she didn't notice the closeness between her daughter and rival, and further pretended that she didn't feel the twisted stirrings of jealousy the sight brought up. Instead she opted to focus on putting one foot in front of the other as she approached the door. It was barely eight feet away but each inch forward felt like a mile.
Distracted by a stray thought, the thief paused suddenly and spoke in a strangely subdued tone of voice, causing the redhead to stop as well. "Um, it's Tasha by the way."
Kim blinked, "Who's Tasha?"
Shego flashed Kim a look of annoyance, and furrowed her brow. "I'm Tasha, that's y'know, my name?"
Agni covered her mouth to hold in a snicker, while Kim just stared processing this news. "Tasha? Seriously? Wow, I just… I never would have guessed."
"Why? What's wrong with it?" Shego demanded defensively.
Kim backed up unconsciously holding up both hands. "Nothing! It's just…" she took a moment to consider her next words, "I guess I just thought that your real name would sound more like 'Shego' …or something."
Shego stared blankly at Kim. Meanwhile Agni, who had completely failed to hold in her snickering any longer, now held her sides as she laughed out loud, her anxiousness temporarily forgotten.
Shego's face twitched slightly, and then a sound similar to a gasp mixed with a cough escaped her. She tried her best to regain her straight face but after another quick sputter the thief finally joined her daughter in uncontained laughter at the redhead's expense.
Kim blushed harshly and looked down at the cement beneath her shoes.
"She thought-," Shego barely managed to say between laughs, "she actually thought-"
"I know, right?" Agni added, finally beginning to settle down and wipe a few stray tears from her eyes.
"Tell me, Pumpkin," Shego finally managed, wiping here eyes with the edge of her glove, "what good is an alias if it sounds like your real name?" she asked with an arrogant grin.
"Whatever, why bring that up anyway?" Kim stated, trying to recollect the fragments of her damaged pride.
"'Cause if we're gonna go in and see my parents, then it'll come likely up and I didn't want you to make an ass of yourself in front of them," she mimicked thinking on her words for a moment before adding, "sort of like your doing now."
"M- make an ass of myself?!" Kim sputtered.
Oh you so asked for it!
She threw a glare Shego's way, and before the older woman could respond, Kim marched past her and walked right up to the door, rapping hard along it's surface with her knuckles and causing both Drago women to visibly pale, which was quite an accomplishment in and of itself.
Laughing at me like that… it was an honest mistake for God's sake! Kim mentally justified as she looked at the door in front of her.
Slowly the heavy wooden portal opened, and Kim couldn't help but feel her breath catch in her throat, completely unprepared for what to expect. When the door widened about a foot, a head that Kim didn't recognize peeked out and looked down at her in confusion.
The man looked to be in his early fifties with spiky salt-and-pepper hair, framing all the way down into a scruffy beard. His eyes were large and expressive, with nearly black irises. If Kim were hard pressed to place his age, she'd have guessed somewhere in his fifties or early sixties. The way his face was so heavily lined, and the dark bags beneath his eyes added a great deal to his aged appearance. He seemed to be wearing a button-up navy-blue dress shirt and khakis.
If I had to guess, this must be the Grandpa. Okay, time to get my game face on.
Kim pulled off her trademark million-dollar smile up at the aged man. In most situations, this smile mixed with her youthful beauty had managed to win over even the gruffest and roughest people around, "Hello. My name is Kim Possible. I'm…" The heroine trailed off when she noticed that the man's attention wasn't even on her to begin with. He was craning his head over her, and looking directly at where Agni stood. The pre-teen was looking up at the older man with slight uneasiness.
Without preamble, the man shoved past Kim nearly sending her on her ass and ran down the stairs practically tackling the twelve-year-old in a bear hug while sobbing uncontrollably. Shego merely looked down at the display and curled her lip in distaste.
That's Shego's dad!? No, no way! I refuse to believe that that's the man who raised Shego! The redhead reasoned.
Kim was so stunned by the embarrassing display that she didn't immediately recognize that the words the man was speaking franticly as he hugged and cried onto the apparently very uncomfortable girl weren't even in English. Drawing on her vast knowledge of linguistics, Kim quickly discerned that the tongue in question was likely Russian or some similar Slavic tongue. The heroine wasn't as confident in that particular language set as some others, but if she paid close attention Kim could manage the gist of it.
"Oh, Agni my little kitten! I was so so worried about you! I stayed up all night fretting, oh but look at you; you've grown so big! Did you eat well? Why did you disappear like that? I was so worried, what am I to do with you!"
He went on like that nonstop at about five words per second, as he sobbed into Agni's shoulder. The young girl looked like she wanted to crawl out of her skin. And I thought Bonnie's mom was bad! I'm embarrassed just watching this! And what does he mean she's 'gotten so big', she's been gone only four days! As he held on tightly, Kim could see very clear similarities in the man's build with Mego, both were tall and lanky with long faces. But his hair was closer to being like Hego's.
Kim's was surprised to hear that Agni's desperate pleadings for her release were similarly in fluent Russian as the pale girl tugged and pulled making every attempt at freeing herself.
"I'm fine, Grandpa so leggo! LET. ME. GO! Stop hugging me! You're embarrassing me, damnit!" Finally with one last push Agni sprung from her Grandfather's grasp and backed off panting and glaring daggers over at him. He looked back up at her with big weepy eyes and seemed like he was about to go in for another hug, but he was distracted by Shego clearing her throat.
"Dad, you never change." Shego stated dryly looking down at her father. During that whole display she'd been too disgust to even say anything, even though she had come to expect such behavior from that blubbering weakling.
Startled by the familiar voice, Shego's apparent father looked up at the thief in a stupor before his eyes once again began to over flow with tears. "Natasha!" He lunged forward probably with intension of giving Shego similar treatment to Agni. Shego however easily sidestepped him and held up a finger warningly.
"A-buh-buh-buh!, No hugs! I don't do hugs! Don't think I wont set your tacky beard on fire if you try!" She stated warningly, and Kim noted, with a hint of panic.
Shego's father frowned in protest, "Oh, but Natasha my baby, your Papa has not seen you in so so long, vhy you have to be so cruel? Give your Papa hug!" This time he spoke in English, but Kim almost preferred that he didn't, his accent was so thick she could barely understand a word of it.
Shego recoiled, and glanced at Kim pleadingly. Catching the hint, Kim stepped forward so she was once again in front of the man. Finally noticing her, Shego's father scrutinized her curiously. Kim wasn't surprised that this man didn't recognize her; he didn't seem to be the type to get out much.
Kim flashed her smile again, although not quite as brightly as before. "Hello, Mr… um," Uh oh, what's his last name? I can't just call him Agni's Grandpa, after all. To Kim's relief, Shego came to her aid.
"Drago," she stated blandly.
"Mr. Drago, my name is Kim Possible, and I-"
Mr. Drago interrupted her suddenly. "Are you the vun who help bring my little котенок home again?"he asked suddenly.
Kim blinked, but responded honestly, "Yes, I-" She almost fell backwards when she was met with similar treatment as Agni. She almost completely lost her balance when she was hit with his surprisingly strong bear hug.
"Oh thank you, thank you, you vunderful girl, I cannot show how happy you make me! I get you reward, das? Vhatever you like!"
"I- I don't need a reward thanks!" Kim said trying to figure the best way for her to slide out of his grasp, well best way that didn't include knocking him unconscious, "I just need to talk to you and your wife!" Being so tightly embraced by a complete stranger was certainly not the most comforting experience in Kim's seventeen years, added to the fact that she was having some trouble breathing.
Long past the point of fed up, Shego stomped forward and grabbed her father roughly by the shoulder prying the two of them apart, much to Kim's expressed relief.
"Dad, lay off for God's sake!" Shego fumed, "Just get Mom! I need to talk to her, get it?"
"No need," Said a deep hoarse voice from directly behind where Kim stood. With a start, the redhead whipped around and was faced with another new figure. All eyes were instantly turned towards the direction of the voice.
Filling the doorway as though she'd been standing there the entire time was a tall and very imposing woman. Entering into instant crisis-management mode, Kim instantly took in everything she could about the new face.
Unlike Mr. Drago, this woman's age was very difficult to get a fix on. Her face was almost completely free of wrinkles of any kind, and any expression to boot. But at the same time her bangs were nearly white with age with white streaks leading down her otherwise ink-black mane of hair, which was tied over her right shoulder in a loose ponytail. Positioned over the woman's right eye was a monocle, which caught the lamplight in such a way as to appear almost as though it were glowing. She wore a well-worn brown coat reaching down to mid-thigh with a black turtleneck underneath. Beyond that she wore dark slacks with short black boots.
She was tall, nearly reaching six feet in height with broad shoulders made all the more severe by the coat she wore. Despite this, from the way the turtleneck hugged her she also appeared very lithe. There were traces of Shego all over this woman from the build to the hair and especially the looks. Other elements were present of Shego's siblings but none so much as Shego herself.
Kim couldn't help but note that along with her appearance the temperature out on the street seemed to have dropped by at least five degrees.
Shego met the woman's cold sapphire gaze with burning emerald, her fists dripping stray green sparks that left black streaks when they hit the concrete. "Hey Mom, how's it hangin'?" She asked, her voice dripping acid.
Agni suddenly found her sneakers to be far more interesting than the goings on around her.
Stepping past Kim, whom was summarily ignored, Shego's mother turned her attention to Agni who hazarded a look up into the women's cold gaze, winced and looked away.
"Your room, Agni. Now." Her voice was calm and even, but regardless, Agni all but 'eeped' and barely risking a glance towards her mother, she bolted inside without another word.
Shego looked about to explode, mostly at being ignored, but it was her father who spoke first. His words were even clumsier than earlier. "Um, D-dear, Tasha iz home, you're glad, d-das?" Apparently even Mr. Drago, obnoxious as he was, seemed able to recognize a volatile situation when he saw one.
Mrs. Drago turned her gaze to her husband for a moment, "Dmitri, would you please go inside and see to it that Agni gets something to eat?" She asked plainly.
Sparing a glance between Shego and his wife with concern, Dmitir nodded once and followed the pale girl indoors. Mrs. Drago then looked back over to where Shego stood, appearing about ready to burst at any moment. "You're late," she stated calmly in sharp contrast to Shego's current smoldering mood, "You told me last night that you would be bringing Agni back some time this morning."
Shego smirked coldly, "That so? I don't recall." She stated mock consideration, "Senility can be a bitch, huh Mom? You're hearing things now?"
This is not going well! I gotta say something, like, now
"Um, Mrs. Drago?" Kim said hoping to draw attention away form this confrontation. It worked.
Turning her freezing gave towards Kim, the young woman fought the urge to take a step back. This woman was scary, particularly the way she seemed to be looking through Kim rather than at her. It was like she was silently being judged and found wanting.
Despite this, Kim called on all of her confidence and stood tall, matching the older woman's gaze with a smile. "Mrs. Drago, I'm-"
"Kim Possible. It would be remarkably difficult for someone to be ignorant of you and your exploits." She stated dully. "Considering all of the times you've kept people," she glance in Shego's direction, "like my daughter, from dooming the world to chaos, I suppose I owe you my gratitude."
Shego crossed her arms but, through an act of impressive willpower, refrained from speaking out after Kim shot her a look.
Kim wasn't quite sure how to respond to that. Was Mrs. Drago thanking her? It didn't seem the case considering the older woman sounded as impassive as earlier. "No big, just trying to do the right thing."
"Commendable," she turned towards the door and began to walk inside. "Lets continue this indoors." She didn't wait for a response as she made her way inside.
"Scary…" Kim mumbled under her breath. The redhead dealt with maniacs trying to take over the planet on an almost daily basis, but this woman still managed to give her chills.
Shego walked up to Kim and added self-righteously, "Told yah she's a monster."
Kim glared at Shego, "So not helping," before following the thief indoors.
The general interior of the Drago household was arranged along the same lines as the exterior, old but very well maintained. However, unlike most old buildings Kim had visited in the past, this home thankfully lacked the dank smell of stale plaster and dust. A closet to Kim's left and a coat and hat rack to her right framed the entryway leading inside. Despite its many hooks, the brown coat Mrs. Drago had been wearing not a minute ago was the racks lone occupant. The walls were all painted white and the rooms were well lit, revealing the spaciousness within the home.
Kim proceeded forward, looking around for where their apparent host had disappeared. When she could find no sign as to what direction Mrs. Drago had gone, she turned and looked back towards her green-skinned companion.
Shego didn't seem to be quite 'here' from what Kim could tell from the distant look in the thief's eyes. The villainess' gaze seemed to be wandering the length of the hallway, taking little details in. Turning her attention to one of the hallway walls, Kim could hear Shego mumble under her breath, "They finally changed that wallpaper…"
Since the comment had been directed to no one in particular, Kim opted not to respond. The thief's semi-dazed expression further served to drive home the earlier point of how long it had been since Shego returned home. Kim tried her best to imagine a similar scenario from her own point-of-view, disappearing from home for eight years, no visits, no correspondence, and then returning out of the blue.
Kim couldn't do it, the idea was simply too alien.
Shego slowly brought her attention away from a peach vase along the far wall and turned her gaze back to Kim. Noticing that she was the object of the redhead's current attention, Shego clicked her tongue and pushed past.
"What the hell're you staring at? C'mon, the hell-bitch is waiting."
Kim caught up and walked parallel with the raven-haired woman. "I've never been here before, remember? How am I supposed to know where she went?"
Shego took a second to consider this, but brushed it off. "Still doesn't mean you can just gawk at me, freakin' creepy."
Kim ignored that last jab and instead, pushed forward and in front of Shego halting the pale woman's progress. "Shego, listen, could you maybe let me talk to you mom alone for now?"
Shego stared down at the redhead, like she had just grown a third eye. "What? Hell no! You lost your mind?"
Undeterred, Kim pushed the issue further. "I need to present my case objectively, and I can't do that if I have to keep worrying about you every five seconds."
Shego's eyes narrowed. "Forget it! There no way that I'm going to just leave it all to you with a smile and a prayer. No way, no how."
Kim grit her teeth, "Stop being so damn stubborn! If you want my help than we do this my way, no arguments," she added firmly.
Shego's fists curled tightly, but her tone seemed less confrontational than before, much to Kim's relief. "You don't know her like I do."
Kim nodded, "Yeah, and that's the point. I need to be objective about this, if for nothing else so I can figure out a strategy." She then smiled, "Then I'll have won our bet and you're going to tell me all about why you left and any single other little thing that pops into my head."
"You're so damn confident all the time. It's really annoying." She couldn't help but smile slightly; it was sort of comforting to see.
Kim shrugged modestly, "Duh! Remember? I-"
"Can do anything, yeah yeah, way to beat a dead horse." She turned back to walk the opposite way, conceding to Kim's request. "Mom's probably in the dining room, go straight and you can't miss it." She started to walk away, speaking without breaking stride, "I'll be upstairs checking on Agni. You'd better come up and tell me how it goes! I am so not kidding." Green smoke trailed off her hand to further her point.
Before the cheerleader could respond, Shego disappeared around the corner soundlessly.
Well that went… smoothly. She turned and walked forward, her destination set, now for the hard part.
The dining room was a great deal like Kim expected which was a nice change of pace for once. The interior was very spacious even despite being mostly dominated by a large ovular oak dinner table. There was a door at the far end of the room that likely led into the kitchen and there were eight chairs situated evenly around the table.
Two for the parents, five for the children, and one for Agni, Kim reasoned. The fact that there was still a place for Shego was not lost to the redhead.
As Shego had predicted, Mrs. Drago sat at the far end of the table. Without her jacket on, her appearance was far less aggressive. She still possessed a fierce air about her but nowhere near to such an extent as earlier. The graying woman's elbows were on the table with her fingers steepled together, partially obscuring her face. A small teacup on a saucer was positioned in front of her; it's contents gradually giving off a rising steam. Two other places were set on the opposite end of the table, with a teakettle in the dead center of the table. Mr. Drago was nowhere in sight.
Mrs. Drago met Kim's gaze dispassionately before making a gesture towards one of the set places. "Please have a seat, Miss Possible." When she noticed Kim's wandering eyes the older woman added, "My husband apologizes but he's opted to spend the remainder of the evening in his study. I've set a place for you so that we can talk alone for now."
Kim nodded, and pulled out the chair that put her closest to Mrs. Drago. Smiling, Kim added politely, "Thank you, and please, call me Kim."
Mrs. Drago turned her attention to her own cup, briefly taking a sip before looking back over at Kim. "I'd rather continue to refer to you as Miss Possible," she responded levelly, "Anything else would be inappropriate."
"Um, if you insist," Kim responded uncomfortably. Is she a Vulcan? How did a woman like this end up with a man like Shego's dad? They're like hot and cold! On top of that, she hasn't asked once where Shego went…
As if she could read the heroine's mind, Mrs. Drago asked, "Shego went upstairs I take it?" although it was presented almost rhetorically.
Doing an excellent job restraining any visible misgivings, Kim answered honestly, "Yeah, she said she was going to check up on Agni."
"I see," she paused to take another sip, and Kim took this opportunity to try her own tea. She wasn't much of a tea drinker herself, but Monique was so Kim tended to have some whenever she visited her best girlfriend's home. This particular brew, Kim found, was mint flavored. The warm liquid did quite a bit to help settle any of her growing apprehension.
After a moment of silence, Mrs. Drago, set her cup back down on the saucer, and turned her attention fully on the redhead. Her gaze bore into Kim like two drill bits. That lens she wore over her right eye only worsened the effect. Why is she even wearing that thing? If she looked hard enough, Kim could see a thin faded line of scar tissue running the length of the graying woman's right cheekbone. Maybe it's because of some kind of injury, but still…
"I feel I owe you an apology. It seems that my family has quite the habit of causing you grief, Miss possible."
Kim blinked suddenly, and apology was the last thing she expected to leave that woman's lips. Well Shego doesn't make my life easy, in fact things have been mega-complicated over the last few days, but that's all part of the job. "It's no big, really."
The woman's eyebrow raised barely a millimeter, but that aside, her expression remained the same. "My daughter has over and over again assisted that manic cerulean psychopath in whatever depraved scheme he concocts. On top of that, last year you, Shego and two of my other sons helped rescue my two youngest from that depraved bird-fetishist only to have her turn on you moments later. I even understand that the little children's meal toy Hego brought home not four months ago, which later morphed into a fifteen foot tall death machine, was partially her doing as well. And you tell me that this wasn't 'big' as you put it?" She steepled her fingers back together.
Kim couldn't help but frown at that, the woman across from her hadn't changed her tone once, but that still sounded harsh. "If I wasn't ready for things like that, then I'd never gotten into this work in the first place."
"Even getting roped in to assisting my Granddaughter?" She asked with a vague hint of curiosity.
Well I'd be lying if I said I was ready for that but no reason to let her know that. "It was fine, Agni is… interesting company" Kim countered undaunted.
"I'm sure of that. Especially considering she seems to have modeled her life very closely after her mother. Poor judgment seems to run very strongly in my family."
Kim raised an eyebrow at that, the way she said that, it was like she was talking about herself as well. I wonder what that means…
"I must thank you for that. You assisted in returning Agni to my care and she seems to be in good health. Is there anything I can do to reciprocate this act of good will?" Kim was sure this time that the woman in front of her was leading to something. Did she suspect Kim's true motives somehow? How was that even possible?
"Well, actually…" Kim trailed off to try and consider the best way to start off her argument.
I may as well just get to the point; this is like ripping off a Band-Aid, better to do it quickly than drag it out.
"I know you're not here simply to return my granddaughter. Shego could have done that without your assistance." Mrs. Drago said suddenly, her pale eyes narrowed ever so slightly.
Kim's eyes widened,Okay, so she's psychic, or at least close enough, but that's no reason to get riled. Just roll with it. "Your right, I was hoping to have a word with you about Agni's future." She waited for Mrs. Drago's reaction. As expected, it was underwhelming, merely a slight twitch of her right eyebrow.
"I concluded as much on my own." She stated factually. Then, suddenly she pushed back on her chair and stood, picking up her saucer with which sat her now empty cup. "However, for conversations of that variety, I would rather we wait until morning." She walked around a somewhat vexed Kim and picked up the other untouched cup and saucer.
Kim frowned but nodded. I suppose that's best but…
"I'll prepare a guest room for you." Mrs. Drago added, before disappearing in the direction of the kitchen and leaving Kim alone with her thoughts.
Kim visibly deflated and looked down into her still mostly full teacup. Okay, not a smooth as I'd like but at least I met her. This little sit-down wasn't to talk either. She was scoping me out. Just like I was scoping her out. Now though I've got plenty of time to figure out a way to tackle this. Kim smiled humorlessly. I'll just pretend she's a Bebe. She's close enough. Jeez, couldn't she at least frown or something? Any expression at all would have been nice. She sighed and took a deep sip of the still warm tea, and savored the flavor for a moment to clear her head.
At least there should be no major drama from here on out.
It was a dark quiet place where Benjamin Zachary Crater spent the last ten years of his life. Back out in the world BZ was a man to be feared and respected. His name used to send chills down the spines of brave men, and left the cowardly wetting their drawers in abject horror. He had fame, he had power, but above all he had their fear. Now though, he had nothing, less than nothing.
He so missed those golden years.
These days, his world consisted of a twelve-by-twelve metal cell, guarded on all sides by high-power automated turrets, and blocked off by a set of force fields. The only proof he had that their was still a world out their beyond these chrome walls was the tiny joke of a window from which currently spilled forth thin rays of lunar light. His only companion was the enormous shadow he cast on the far wall staring back at him.
Benjamin had a lifetime more of this to look forward to, all thanks to Her.
A wide pearly white grin slid across the man's dark molasses features. He was always in a good mood when he thought of that valkyrie. The one who robbed him of his dignity and left him little more than a bloody stain on the ground. He reached up with his huge right hand and lightly ran his fingers down over the thin diagonal ridges leading from his right temple down to the left crook of his jaw. There were five scars in all; BZ thought they gave his face character. It was too bad that there was barely anyone around to appreciate them.
Movement out of the corner of his eye drew BZ's gaze up and back towards the shadow he was casting from where he sat on his bunk. It was strange; he shouldn't look that thin, not after all the exercises he ran through every day to fill the time. His body was over four feet wide of solid muscle tissue, not some thin crooked streak such as the far wall currently displayed. He was also wearing a gray prison-standard jumpsuit, not some shredded up cloak. But the umbra, which had completely replaced his familiar and very recognizable silhouette, remained even after he rubbed his eyes. It meant only one of two things;
either he had completely lost what little of his mind remained, or BZ wasn't alone in the room.
"My oh my, Mr. Crater." The shadow said, in a harsh and clear metallic hiss. He/it spoke with a tone more appropriate to come from a parent chastising a child, "What a disappointment it is to see a fellow artist in such a debilitated state as this. Locked away in a kennel for beaten dogs. Forgotten, but certainly not gone."
BZ scoffed openly, deciding that he would humor this apparition. Crossing his thick arms over his barrel chest, the dark man turned his nose up at the shadow and stated arrogantly, "Artist? You fuckin' kiddin' me? You know who yer talkin' to, Slim? Aint no goddamn artist here."
The shadow spread it's arms and responded in barely restrained jubilation, "Au contraire, Mr. Crater, I see someone with impeccable artistic sensibilities. The Billion-Bomb Panic, The Go City Bridge job, when you joined forces with Electronique, and Dyno-Saur and took control of the traffic system. All of these were beautifully crafted pieces." With every crime listed, the implausible silhouette raised a finger on his right hand. Each digit seemed to end in a wicked hooked claw. He then smirked and curled his claws back into a tight fist. "Were it not for five children in clown-suits, you would have gone down as one of the best villains in Go City's history."
"I got screwed durin' every one o' dem 'pieces' you're talkin bout, fool," mocked Benjamin with casual disregard. It was as though such failures no longer even reached him.
"Yes," agreed the specter, "but why was that? Who was responsible for your fall from the top? Was it that muscle-bound simpleton? The self-absorbed half-pint? Those red twins by the dozens?" He laughed lightly, "Who would you blame for your remarkably embarrassing failures?"
Smiling despite his best attempts at keeping a level expression, BZ ran his fingers down along the many thick scars lining his face. "Heh, mah baby girl, dats who."
The shadow nodded exaggeratedly, "Ahh, yes. I recall now, you ended up here not because of your more colorful schemes, but because you made a fool's mistake. You actually attacked a sixteen-year-old girl while she sat in her high school cafeteria in order to enact your petty revenge. And for all your trouble you were not only thwarted, but also thrashed, burned, shredded, and left a pulpy mess for the local authorities to mop up." The umbra made a weak gesture towards BZ's mangled features, "If I am not mistaken, she even branded you in that final exchange."
Throwing back his head, the enormous dark man laughed out loud slapping his knee, "Hell yeah, it's why I'm so pretty." When his amusement died down some, he lowered his thick brow discerningly and inspected the shadow with new caution. "So… who da hell're you anyway, Slim? I finally fall down dat rabbit hole, er what?
The lanky silhouette tsked in annoyance. "Hardly. I'm merely someone with similar grievances with our mutual nemesis."
BZ raised an eyebrow curiously. "Last I heard, she was battin' for the winnin' team these days." He frowned and shrugged his enormous shoulders. "It's freakin retarded for badguys to go after other badguys. 'n I don't play dat way no more."
Even without any visible expression, the lanky shade seemed to momentarily bristle. "You honestly feel no animosity for our lady in green?"
Benjamin cracked his thick knuckles and leaned back on his bunk with his eyes closed in thought. "Nah," His lips then split into a lecherous amoral grin before he added, "'sides, I hear she grew into one Grade A piece o' ass, heh heh…"
The shadow recoiled slightly. "Disgusting." Requiring his bearings it then added coldly, "Regardless, I want to make a deal with you, Mr. Crater." The shadow then crossed his rail-thin arms and spoke the next few words very clearly. "How would you feel about killing a fellow villain, if the payment was the complete return of your freedom and power?"
The dark man's cocky grin suddenly fell back, and he opened his eyes glaring back curiously towards his impromptu visitor. He said nothing, simply watched and waited for the nightmarish figure to speak his piece.
Taking this as it's cue to continue, the shadow set it's terms, "I will give you the means of freeing yourself from this titanium purgatory. But in return, your assignment should be most obvious."
Benjamin sat up suddenly and glared back at the figure, trying his best to figure out the specter's game. Was this some trick? Why after ten goddamn years of solitary confinement, ten years of nothing but dark corners and twisted memories to fill the silence? Why now, after his rage had long grown cold, was he given this second chance? Because, it was a trick, a trick or a figment of BZ's own warped psyche. "No deal man. The last time I got my ass kicked, this time, I'm libel to get my ass killed."
"You would rot here forever?" the shadow asked skeptically.
"I aint suicidal!" He snapped, finally standing up for the first time, all eight feet of his colossal height towering over the villainous umbra. He stood before the shadow, which barely came up to his collarbone, his meaty fists ready to put a sizable dent in the wall despite how ludicrous that idea sounded even in his own mind. "And I hear she's even more of a badass now than then. So get the fuck out o' my face 'fore I-"
"What if I could secure you the means of absolute victory?" The jarring voice asked with mock innocence as it stared up towards Benjamin's beady black eyes.
BZ snorted in frustration like a bull, and lowered his head so he was eye-to-where-eyes-should-be with the living darkness. "Then we'd finally be talkin' business, but you can't Dawg, so vamoose. Comprende?"
For a moment the shadow regarded BZ silently, but then turned his 'gaze' towards the man's clenched left hand. Following suit, BZ looked over at his tight fist and saw clenched between the fingers as though it had been there the entire time was a Polaroid photo. Letting go as though he held an unpinned grenade, Benjamin whipped back around towards the wall, about to demand how the shadow had placed the crumpled photo within his grip;
but the only shadow that greeted him was his own. Before he could even question these events, every wall reverberated with a final clear message, forcing BZ to cover his ears in pain and wonder how it was possible that the guards still had yet to notice this cacophony.
"There within that photo is the means of your assured conquest, and now with you I leave this little… token of my thanks. Do with these offerings whatever you please."
Turning quickly around, BZ was greeted with the sweetest sight he had seen in ten long lonely years. The way the moonlight danced over the darkness's parting gift made the massive man's heart swell and his hands tremble.
On the floor of his cell, arranged neatly and orderly, was his armor. The powercells along the gauntlets hummed with full energy, and the stylized 'BZ' emblem on the chest crackled with stray sparks of power. With reverent careful hands, Benjamin reached forward and grasped the right gauntlet, running his rough, scarred and calloused fingers along its unnaturally warm surface.
Unable to hold back any longer, he slid his forearm securely within the confines of the metal glove. The material recognized its master almost immediately and tightened over his skin, sending nano-threads into his pores and locking into his nervous system with a tingle reminiscent of having his arm fall asleep. When the connection was complete bright circuit patterns danced along its surface. He repeated this near-worship and reequipping of every armored section until where the enormous black man once stood, now was a titan in glowing energized kinetic power. His power.
After ten years of forgetting himself or what his name represented, Benjamin Zachary Crater was now dead. Raised from his remains was his true self.
It's all comin' back to me now, this feeling… With a vague swing of his arm in the direction of the far wall, the air momentarily rippled and then the titanium-reinforced wall tore itself to shreds. Alarms and warning sirens filled the night but it was an impotent gesture.
They couldn't stop him; they couldn't stop Blasting-Zone. Yes, that was his real name. He would put it on the tongue of every pissant in Go City.
Blasting-Zone then looked down at the tiny photo his savior had left in his care. It showed a young girl barely in her teens with short black hair and impossible emerald eyes. She sat alone and dejected in some school cafeteria wearing a black elegantly cut school uniform. The irony wasn't lost on him. Apparently his shadowy employer was a comedian. At the bottom, written in red calligraphy was this; She makes a fine shield, a shield even Shego cannot pierce. Just a suggestion. There was a small smiley face added to the end of the message.
He grinned through his mask as several armed guards ran his way.
Pocketing the photo in one of his many compartments, he swung his other arm in the direction of the guards and smiled as the sounds of splintering bone filled the air. I'm comin back to town, Shego. Hope yah missed me.
Chapter 11: End
Author's Notes: Who actually thought that a villain I mentioned offhandedly in chapter seven would come back like this?
Well on to more important things. I'm going to be overhauling all past chapters of SSBC, and until that's finished I'm afraid I wont be adding any new chapters. But with my beta Ffordesoon's help, this should be well worth the wait. Look forward to it, and please review. Also to any of you familiar with Rina Cat of DeviantART, she did an amazing picture of Agni with Shego. Just check out her page to see it.