Chapter 2: Hunting Sparkles
"YOU'RE LATE FOR CLASS!" Professor Fitzgibbon screamed to no one in particular, as Juliet brought the chainsaw down on his head.
Well, technically no. Mr. Fitzgibbon was long dead, turned by zombies. This rambling, decayed form probably wasn't even what used to be him, as Juliet had already fought and triumphed against his shambling husk before. But a zombie resembling Fitzgibbon was here, in a place that looked like his old classroom, speaking and attacking in the same ways that Fitzgibbon did. Some people would pause to give this more thought, but one of the perks of being a natural-born zombie hunter is that things tend to stay relatively simple.
As Mr. Fitzgibbon's body fell to either side of Juliet, and she let her precious bejewled chainsaw wind down, she was then able to hear a slow, somehow aggressively sarcastic clapping behind her. as she turned she saw a rather odd looking woman leaning back against the wall next to the classroom entrance.
"So...", Juri began, "...is this how you treat all your teachers? Or just the ones who won't agree to an after-school cram session?"
"Eeeew, no!", Juliet replied, her brow furrowing with disgust. "Mister Fitzgibbons was a zombie!"
"Zombie?" Juri asked, with a tinge of surprise to her voice. "These are zombies? I just thought this was supposed to be a... uh, specialty school."
"I know they're a teensy weensy bit different from the ones you'd usually see in movies, but it isn't that bad."
Juri's rebuttal was wordless, but weighty. She merely pointed behind her with the thumb on her right hand, to the classroom windows looking out into the school hallway. Behind her, with his face and hands pressed up against the glass, was a zombified student.
"I WANT YOUR LEG MEAT!" he screeched, making the window pane vibrate slightly.
"...Alright," Juliet ceded, "They can be a little silly. but that's the trap! They seem harmless, but they're actually pretty dangerous if you let your guard down!"
Her right hand still pointing at the zombie, Juri extended her left arm out in a slow, sweeping motion; eventually ending in an open-palm gesture to the doorway beside her. The doorway lacking an actual door. The doorway this zombie was ignoring in favor of licking glass like a confused puppy.
"I'm so scared."
"To be fair, Beavis was always like that", quipped a voice from somewhere nearby.
"Who was that?" Asked Juri, leaving the wall and approaching the center of the classroom as she scanned back and forth for this mysterious newcomer.
"That's my boyfriend, Nick!" Juliet giggled with amusement. Noticing Juri's continued befuddlement, Juliet turned to one side and shot out her hip to better show him off.
"Hey spider lady", Nick said with a deadpan.
Juri took a moment to mentally order all of the many, many questions she now had, and then promptly threw them all away. This was clearly a situation which would only get dumber the further you went in.
"Your boyfriend's... a little on the short side."
"He wasn't always like this", Juliet said with a tinge of embarrassment. "Nick was bit by a zombie, and I had to keep the venom from reaching his brain."
"She preserved my head with some type of voodoo magic."
"Silly Nick; voodoo is for scary crazy people."
Juri realized with dawning horror that this would probably go on forever if she let it, and decided to take initiative. With a few short steps and a hop, Juri landed a rising knee into Juliet's throat. As Juliet was still recoiling from the surprise strike Juri followed up with one step back and a stiff kick to Juliet's chest, sending her tumbling over what remained of the class desks.
"What's... happening?" Juliet mumbled on the ground; sprawled, dazed and with a line of drool leaking onto the floor.
"I don't think she's here to help!" chimed in Nick from her waist. "Look out!"
Juliet had enough sense back to roll to one side, barely avoiding a jumping stomp which left a spiderweb of cracks in the floor. Scrambling for cover, she managed to get a pile of trash that once was Fitzgibbon's desk between them.
"What do we do, Nick?" Juliet asked, mirroring Juri's movements to make sure that they stayed on opposite ends of the obstruction.
"We? I'm a keychain. You're a zombie hunter."
"But she's not a zombie, though!"
"Juliet. Sweetie. Anything you do that would kill a zombie will still work on a person. Trust me."
"...Alright." Juliet responded, building up resolve. "It seems a lot simpler when you put it like that. Thanks, Nick!"
"Sure, babe. Sure."
All things considered, Juri was a little disappointed. This one looked like she'd be able to put up a good fight -- with her lean but muscled frame and that glittery abomination of a weapon -- but it seemed like she just wasn't the type who could mentally handle a good row. Juri had seen people like that before, but you usually didn't walk in on them bisecting someone while smiling.
Oh well, she thought. That just means it'll be more fun to play with her after the fight.
Deciding that she had given the cheerleader enough time to believe that cowering behind furniture could actually work, Juri got down to dashing the little hope she had left. Harnessing a small amount of energy from the Feng Shui engine, she hit the desk remains with a short, concentrated blast of energy to flash-burn the pile. And as it crumbled into ashes Juri leapt through the resulting puff of smoke and straight into...
A set of pom-poms?
Juri stood still; wondering what was even happening anymore as the frilly balls continued to connect against her body and head with silly little paffs. Sure, it stung a bit. And it was a little hard to tell what was going on with these things in your face. Probably would have won any pillow fight. But come on. Come o-
Juliet turned suddenly, and with a powerful bounce slammed her backside up against Juri's face which snapped her head back.
Looking skyward due to the whipping motion from the last blow, Juri caught a glimpse of the cheerleader leapfrogging over her.
What came next was a flash of light, courtesy of the concussion Juliet gave her as she extended both legs right into the back of Juri's head.
The next thing Juri knew, she was lying in a pile of broken school desks. And above her, descending quickly, was the leaping Juliet with her chainsaw raised for the killing blow.
It all seemed to move so slow.
It was partially because of adrenaline, of course, but also because as a panicked reaction Juri had kicked the Feng Shui engine into overdrive. What she had now were a few brief moments of what seemed to be time standing still. Granted, her eye would be next to useless and hurt like all hell for at least a few hours after this, but that was something for later.
Was there anything she could work with here? Even with her reflexes pushed to the limit, she knew it was too late to move out of the way of the chainsaw's arc. She could shoot a blast of energy upwards, or greet Juliet's descent with a supercharged kick that might go right through the cheerleader's torso, but those options would merely turn this straight loss into mutually assured destruction. There had to be something. There had to be...
Lying next to one of her hands, amidst the debris, was a small length of metal. Probably a fragment of one of the desk legs. Now granted, Juliet's beast of a saw could undoubtedly cleave through such junk without so much as a hitch, the chain wasn't what she was thinking about. There was a small, heart shaped hole inside Juliet's blade. Maybe -- just maybe -- something could be done here.
And then, Juri thought, settling her gaze on another target of interest, we go for the real nasty trick...
From Juliet's point of view what came next was a split second of blur, followed by her chainsaw's descent stopping abruptly. Amazingly, her opponent had apparently used a piece of nearby scrap to "thread the needle" through her chainsaw and hold it off by mere inches.
"How?" Juliet asked, genuinely bewildered.
Juri looked up at her with an odd squint, and said with a smile: "I've got an eye for this."
Juri then shot her legs upwards, and with the leverage of her "grip" on the chainsaw managed to flip Juliet up above her. Juri had to let go of the scrap piece to finish this motion however; allowing Juliet to rebound back to her feet, notice the outline of a head on the edge of her vision, and gracefully pirouette to slice it in two.
But not Juri's.
Too late did she notice the lightness on her waist. Too late did she realize why Juri had let go of such an advantageous grip. Too late had she seen that the head she swung at was being presented for the blow like a grisly offering.
Too late had she seen Nick's face; now vacant and splattered with his own brains.
Two objects clattered to the floor; the first being Juliet's chainsaw as she lost her grip in despair, and the second being what was left of Nick as Juri let it fall from her fingers with a chuckle.
"No." Juliet whispered, as she slowly dropped to her knees. "It can't... I can't."
Juri observed in silence; temporarily forgotten, and not wanting to spoil the moment.
Hitching with sobs, and her makeup already streaming down her face alongside the tears, Juliet Starling crawled over to Nick's head and scooped it up. Slowly, mechanically, she began to use her free hand to pick up pieces of nearby brain matter and drop them back into the skull she was cradling.
"It's okay, Nick." Juliet whispered. "I can save you. I saved you once already. I can... I can..."
Finally noticing the shadow looming over her, Juliet looked up and remembered that she was not alone. Juri remained silent as the pitiful form -- face streaming with tears and snot -- struggled to speak
"Please..." Juliet pleaded. "Help."
Although she could only see out of one eye, and was nursing one hell of a headache, Juri couldn't help but beam.
The first blow did not hit Juliet, but very well may have wounded her the worst, launching what remained of Nick out of Juliet's grasp and into a remote corner. Juliet's wail of despair was cut short though by the next flurry of kicks; raining down on her shoulders, chest, and stomach. Juliet grunted and mewled as she took each blow full-on, not even attempting to defend herself. Eventually, with the series of strike preventing her body from slumping forwards, her upper body arched backwards and she sat there staring vacantly at the ceiling.
Juri relented for a moment, sizing up the situation. Her original hunch about this girl being easy to break mentally was pretty much spot on, but this caused another problem: How was she going to have her victory lap with someone this far gone? Sure, it was rewarding at first, but after a while it was basically hitting a bag of potatoes with a pretty face. Clearly it was time to up the ante.
And, hearing pounding in the silence, Juri knew just the thing.
Juri kicked Juliet in the crotch so that she was fully laid out on her back, then reached down to grab her ankles and dragged her towards the hallway windows.
What did Nick call this zombie? Beaver? Beatty? Whatever his name was, he apparently had a friend now. The two of them watched with hungry eyes as Juri approached with her cargo in tow.
"DINNER AND A SHOW!", The newer zombie boomed, apparently the quicker to catch on of the duo.
"Hold on boys", Juri chided as she slid up the window pane and pushed them away. "We need a little bit to prepare."
The zombies, being zombies, stumbled and flopped ungracefully on their backs. Good. Juri should have more than enough time to set everything up before they were back up again.
Gripping Juliet by the legs Juri guided her through the windowsill, until she was hanging halfway into the hall, her body facing upward. Legs and lower torso outside with them, everything else in with her. Perfect.
Satisfied with the positioning, Juri grabbed hold of the windowsill once more and jerked it down, eliciting a groan of pain from Juliet as it slammed into her stomach.
Juri could hear the duo beginning to rise to their feet in the hallway, but they weren't quite ready yet. With her free moment, Juri bent down and examined Juliet's pretty little face.
"Nick..." Juliet whispered, barely audible.
"Aw, poor girl." Juri spoke soothingly. "You didn't need that silly old head. If you really need someone, I'll be your boyfriend tonight."
Not waiting for a reply, Juri rose to her feet, stepped forward so that she was practically on top of Juliet, and trapped the cheerleader's upturned face between her thighs. It was not enough to smother her, but it was close. Juri settled in, rested her arms on Juliet's abdomen, and enjoyed the movements of her struggles as she turned her attention back to the window.
The undead duo were up and about again, examining the curiosity before them now. At first a few reactive kicks knocked them away, but after a few blows to Juliet's toned stomach in retaliation by Juri they diminished to weak jerks.
Now the zombies had all that they needed to go to town, and go to town they did.
As the unliving couple began to bite and tear at Juliet, Juri could not hear her screams. It was so much better: She could feel them. As her thrashings became more and more frantic, and her shrieks more and more desperate, Juri couldn't help but buck up and down on her captive plaything. Why it was almost like riding a bull. Tons more fun, too.
But all good things must eventually come to an end, and as Juliet's struggles began to wane and the window became completely obscured with blood Juri prepared for the final moment. Delicately, she lowered her head down onto Juliet's chest and listened.
There it was. The heartbeat. Still present, but just barely.
That was it. The end of Juliet Starling. Or, at least, the end of her life.
Dismounting Juliet's face, Juri once again crouched down to get another look at it. Such a pretty little thing she was. Honestly, the running makeup, snot, and drool only made her cuter.
Turning away, she scanned the room and quickly found what she was looking for. That silly, overdesigned chainsaw.
Juri had a plan for her almost as soon as they met. That's why she left the face alone.
Juri sat in the middle of yet another bland corridor, resting in an attempt to regather some strength.
"Well, that was quite a day. My eye is more blood than not right now, I'm nursing a migraine, and I still had to make my way out of that infested hellhole afterwards. But I still think it all turned out alright."
Reaching down to her side, Juri picked up an object next to her and held it in front of her face.
"Isn't that right, Juliet?"
Juliet's relaxed face remained silent; slack-jawed and staring off into nothing. The whole process was actually surprisingly easy. Juri was expecting some complications; but that crazy chainsaw handled just fine for the needed task, the little head holder fit her perfectly after Juri popped Nick out of it, and Juliet's zombie hunter blood apparently protected her enough from the venom to prevent zombification in this scenario. The head was even still a little warm; the preservation spell apparently being linked to the head holding device, making it keep Juliet's cranium from deteriorating just as well as it kept Nick's from dying... of blood loss...
Feeling revitalized, Juri rose to her feet and clipped Juliet's head to the waist of her pants. The weight was... assuring. As she began her trek to the next confrontation, Juri mused that Juliet may have actually been onto something here.
Granted, her head didn't talk.
Thank God for small favors.