Disclaimer: Kim Possible and all IP as it is presented in the canon animated television series is Copyright and Trademark by the Disney Company, using characters originally created by Bob Schooley and Mark McCorkle. This is a transformative fan fiction work.

The Specter of Death, Chapter One

Story Copyright © Dale W. Robbins (crimsonhawk); Edited by Kgs Wy

Kim Possible trudged through the thick forest absent-mindedly, long since having lost track of where exactly she was. She did know that she was three days travel by foot away from the tri-city area of Lowerton, Middleton, and Upperton, Colorado. But she only knew that because she'd watched the sun set as many times. She had forgone any modern conveniences like a watch, a cell phone, or even her Kimmunicator. She didn't want them. She didn't need them.

Kim fought back tears as she walked along, lifting her glasses and wiping her sleeve across her eyes to clear her vision. It was early October, so she was dressed for it; a dark green sweater under a camouflage Autumn jacket, as well as a pair of camouflage cargo pants, a camouflage hunter's cap, and a pair a dark green combat boots. Green wasn't her favorite color—that color belonged to someone else, after all—but it was effective in the environment. She didn't need an overhead satellite getting lucky and capturing an image that would identify her as Kim Possible.

In fact, Kim had gone so far as cutting her hair. It certainly wasn't one of those mall salon jobs, either. She had literally taken a pair of dull garden shears and butchered her own hair. Her hair was maybe three or four inches long now and looked more like it had been lobbed off by a dull knife. But it made it a lot easier to simply slip her distinctive hair under the hunter's cap.

That just left her olive green eyes as the only thing that marked her as Kim Possible when fully dressed. Even then, she wore a pair of cosmetically tinted eyeglasses just to be on the safe side.

She didn't want to be seen or found. Not now.

Kim looked up and noticed the sun setting over the distant horizon above the trees. She sighed and shook her head. She was going to have to find a place to set up camp. Someplace where setting up a campfire wouldn't be noticeable by satellite surveillance. Perhaps even a place to dig a Dakota fire hole...

After all, satellites were one of Wade's favorite tracking tools, and he would be trying to find her.

Dr. Anne Possible strolled morosely through the grocery section of the Smarty Mart just down the street from the Middleton General Hospital. It was three days since her daughter had gone missing. Of course, the police hadn't been able to officially do anything until at least 24 hours had passed, since Kimmie was over the age of majority. Even then, it seemed to Anne that she was being stonewalled by some people within the department.

Fortunately, several off-duty officers—men that gave Anne the distinct impression that they were conspiracy theorists or survivalists—had discreetly rallied together to search in their off time. Even though they began their search immediately, it came to naught. When the minimum 24 hours had passed, the rest of the officers accepted Anne's report of a missing person, but had given her some excuse of being unable to search. After three days of alleged searching, no one could find her, so those officers who had tried to help had been forced to call off the search.

The scariest thing, in Anne's mind, was that it wasn't a surprise to her. At all. For over four years, her little Kimmie had been serving as a teenage superspy, and she was a damned good one at that. Her now college-aged daughter had more field experience in crimefighting, reconnaissance, stealth, and recovery missions than most of the Middleton Police Department put together. Only a couple of top Global Justice agents, mercenaries, and evil adventurers could claim to come close to her daughter's skills.

Given that, of course a team of concerned Middleton police officer wouldn't find Kimmie. Kimmie probably wasn't going to be found until she wanted to be found.

Anne stopped her grocery cart in front of the meat shelves, staring blankly at the ground beef beside her. She didn't really want to cook any "brain loaf" that night, even if it was Jim and Tim's favorite. In all honesty, she didn't want to cook anything; she just wanted her Kimmie back. But she knew that if she didn't buck up and carry on as best as she could, the rest of her family would suffer for it.

As Anne reluctantly reached down and picked up a package of ground beef, she noticed something out of the corner of her eye. Glancing up, she saw that last thing she had wanted to see at that moment.

She saw Ron Stoppable's mother, Lonnie Stoppable.

Lonnie had seen Anne, as well. They both stared at each other like two deer caught in headlights for several moments.

Anne tried to be the first one to break the silence. She tried to open her mouth to say something, anything, to make the agonizing awkwardness go away.

Lonnie beat Anne to the punch, though, but she didn't speak. She narrowed her eyes and scowled. It was a look that would have froze the entire ninth level of Hell in an instant. It was a look that warned Anne of the consequences if she had the abject stupidity to say even a single word at that moment.

With a growling humph, Lonnie spun away, jerking her shopping cart around and stomping briskly away from the famed brain surgeon.

Once Lonnie was out of her line of sight, Anne's legs finally gave out and she collapsed to her knees behind her grocery cart. As several Smarty Mart associates ran up to offer assistance, Anne broke down and began to sob uncontrollably.

Monique Rochon, Zita Flores, and Felix Renton approached the memorial. The pain of their loss was intense and fresh in their minds. Each of the girls stepped forward and placed a bouquet of flowers in front of the memorial. Monique remained kneeling for a moment, reaching back to accept Felix's bouquet, since Felix couldn't kneel due to being wheelchair-bound. Monique placed that third bouquet before the memorial. She then stood and stepped back beside Zita and Felix, wiping the tears from her eyes.

"It seems like... like we all spent a lifetime... together," Monique whispered softly to the memorial, her words strained by the grief she felt. "I am so, so sorry it couldn't have been a lifetime longer."

Felix, fighting tears of his own, reached up and took Monique's hand as the dark-skinned girl turned and buried her face in Zita's shoulders, sobbing uncontrollably. Zita wrapped her arms around Monique and cried quietly into dark-skinned beauty's shoulder, as well.

"Hey, Doc!" Shego yelled as she stepped out of her quarters, slipping her gloves on. "I know we're supposed to have turned over a new leaf and all that, but I'm feeling kinda restless. I think I'm going to harass a few environmentalists and club some baby seals. I'll be back in a bit."

With that, Shego stalked down the hallway of Dr. Drakken's newest lair, but it wasn't a secret lair by any stretch of the imagination. It was a fully registered and legal laboratory, all done through Global Justice to keep worry-worts off of their backs. As such, it was just outside of Middleton; that not only made it easier for Global Justice to keep an eye on them, but kept the public safe when Drakken tinkered with his more... unorthodox experiments. The only real stipulation that Global Justice said it would enforce was that any inventions Drakken produced had to somehow benefit mankind and that Drakken couldn't use them to try to take over the world.

Since Drakken really had no need for a bodyguard or thief at that point, Shego had almost ended up unemployed. Fortunately, the head of the United Nations Division of Global Justice and Law Enforcement, Dr. Betty Director, had shown seemingly uncharacteristic wisdom when she'd set the deal up with Drakken. Instead of letting Shego run loose, Global Justice had offered Shego a position as a freelance operative, much like her former arch-rival, Kim Possible.

However, unlike Kim, the agency reserved only the most "black op" kinds of missions for Shego, which suited her quite well. She didn't go out to save the world from grandstanding supervillains like Professor Dementor or Monkey Fist; what she did was the jobs that needed to get done but no one wanted to talk about afterwards. And Shego was just fine with that. It was the closest thing to the rush she felt when doing capers against the plucky teen superspy as she could possibly get in the post-Lowardian Invasion world.

As Shego continued down the hallway, she noticed that Drakken had yet to respond to her bellow. Intrigued, she paused by the lair's common room. Drakken and several henchmen were seated in the various sofas and loveseats, intently watching the gigantic plasma-screen television in front of them. Once Shego got a focus on the news story currently on the screen, she understood why she hadn't been heard.

"It was a month ago today," the news anchor began, glancing at the camera with a look of compassionate neutrality, "when beloved hometown football star and recently acknowledged worldwide teen hero Ron Stoppable was pronounced dead at the Global Justice Regional Medical Center of Middleton, Colorado. His death was due to injuries sustained in assisting teen heroine Kim Possible on a classified mission for Global Justice."

Shego folded her arms uncomfortably in front of her and quietly leaned against the door jam, remembering the day she'd learned of the buffoon's death. She had just exited a stealth transport after having come home from a particularly grizzly mission. Apparently, Kim and Ron had gone on a mission of their own at the same time. Although the details of the mission itself were classified, it was confirmed that Ron had died on the mission.

Shego knew that had to have hit the Princess pretty hard.

"Middleton Police have confirmed today," the news anchor continued, as if nothing were amiss, "that Kim Possible herself has gone missing."

What?! That got Shego's attention.

"Possible allegedly went missing over four days ago," the news anchor explained. "But since she is now of the age of majority, police could not begin an official search for her until a little over three days ago. The Middleton Police Department, while promising to put as much manpower to the task as they are able, is unfortunately unable to dedicate as much manpower as they'd like to the search..."

A three day head start, Shego thought ruefully, tuning out the rest of the announcement that seemed to be airing on one of the big cable news networks. Yeah, right. With that much of a head start, you're not going to be able to find her, you fucking jackasses... Even if you were able to 'dedicate as much manpower' as you'd need!

As the thought finished, Shego snarled and punched the doorjam. The impact crumpled a solid six inches of metal and stone under her fist. Drakken and the henchmen jumped, startled.

A view of what was supposedly Kim's most recent photograph appeared on the screen in place of the anchor. She was wearing a nice, long sleeved blouse and jeans, her scarlet hair flowing in a breeze and her olive green eyes sparkling. It then shrank into place over the anchor's left shoulder, revealing the compassionately neutral expression on the anchorman's face.

"If you see Miss Possible or have any information that may lead to her location," the anchor continued, "please contact the Global Justice hotline below immediately."

"Doc," Shego growled, "call Betty and let her know I'm taking a personal leave of absence." With that, she turned and stormed out of the room.

Dr. Drakken watched Shego leave. He then glanced at the television, then back at the doorway. Finally, he turned to one of the henchmen, his tone as worried as the anchor's a moment earlier, "Gary, go open up the storeroom and make sure Shego has everything she needs for her leave of absence."

"Yes, sir."

As the henchman scurried out of the room, Drakken called back to him, "And for pity's sake, do not ask her where she's going!"