Chapter 8: Another M
The wind outside howled as Juri tried to massage feeling back into her feet.
It may have bordered on heresy to some -- including herself -- but Juri was bitterly regretting not having a pair of shoes. Sure, her footpads served her well enough, but "well enough" doesn't cut it in a goddamn blizzard. She was honestly surprised that a toe or two didn't just snap off before she found this outpost.
Even then she almost froze solid right at the doorstep. Damn entrance had no latch, no valve, no keypad. Only when Juri tried to break the door down did it actually open; apparently reacting to the energy in her kicks. Did the freaks that this place was designed around use tasers for keys, or what?
Thankfully, there was a more traditional switch inside to make the two door halves slide back out from either side and seal the entrance. And, even more thankfully, there was a furnace. Juri had revved that thing up as fast as her shivering body could manage, swung open the grate, and sat herself down as close to the life-giving flame as she could without going up like a match.
Her mind was too full of thoughts about jackets and mittens to keep watch around her, which was fair enough. The storm still raging on outside would have masked anything bar an exploding volcano anyway.
And the figure now making her way up to the same building was certainly not a volcano. Volcanoes, at best, could only destroy continents.
[Heat signatures detected]
Switching to thermal vision, she peered through the walls to the sources of warmth within. Judging by the outlines, there was a furnace and someone tending to it. Female, based what could be made out of her build
Cycling through several other scanning modes, she assembled a profile of the mystery woman and submitted it to her databases. After a few seconds of examination they spat out an assembled report.
...Juri Han, eh? Never heard of that one.
The bounty was... okay. For a single-planet nuisance, at least. In the bigger picture, factoring in restock and maintenance costs afterwards, bringing this one in would actually put her a little under breaking even. But then there was this.
Willing away the fluff, she enlarged and examined several notes and diagrams. They all pertained to a rather interesting device; part prosthetic, part battery, part physical enhancer. She knew quite a few tech-heads who would give several left arms for a gadget like this.
After she had fully scanned it into her own private databases and integrated the useful bits into her suit, of course.
She didn't know who this Han person was, but it must have been her unlucky day. She had become just worthy enough to care about.
A loud whoosh and a cold wind once more on her back alerted Juri to the protective doors opening again. Spinning around, she greeted her new...
The hell? Was she getting robots flung at her now? Were tanks too hard to drive down the hallways?
Not that this one was much easier of a fit. Towering over Juri, the Tin Man had to duck to get his "head" under the archway as well as turn sideways to squeeze through his quarterback-shaming shoulders. It was probably because she was still sitting down, thus looking up at her new opponent, but Juri could have sworn that the orange behemoth almost hit the ceiling as he drew back up to full height.
The jeep with legs did not flip the door closing switch. Probably for the best. As the glowing cannon on his right arm raised and lined up with Juri's position, she was more than okay with keeping escape options open.
Juri rolled to the side as the Tin Man fired his shot; the mass of charged energy shrieking through where she was just sitting and plunging directly into the furnace. The results were as to be expected.
The furnace was technically destroyed, as in the specific construct for holding fire ceased to be. A pragmatic view, however, would be that the furnace had merely extended it's territory. As metal shrapnel and burning embers shot out all around the room, it could have been argued that the entire building was now serving the same purpose.
Juri dropped low and let the initial blast mostly soar over her. The Tin Man let the cloud of death harmlessly bounce off and flow around his armor. Completely disregarding the fiery chaos all around them, the metal being resumed his assault.
Juri danced and dodged through the inferno, sweat rolling down her body because of concentration as well as the heat. This robot had a genuine lock on her; his arm-cannon perfectly following Juri as she bobbed and weaved. The only saving grace were that the energy balls it was shooting rapid-fire at her had a fairly slow traveling speed, meaning that they wouldn't hit their target as long as she kept moving. But she would have to stop eventually, and then it would have her.
Juri decided to take the initiative instead.
Leaping up to the ceiling and pushing off with her hands, Juri shot down with a dropkick at the Tin Man.
The Tin Man, unexpectedly, rose to meet her.
With small jets on it's metallic back going off, her orange adversary curled up and hit Juri midair like a cannon ball. Juri had only a moment to realize that this was actually quite literal -- her foe had somehow turned into an actual ball -- before the low-impact bomb said ball had just ejected exploded and hurled her back down to the ground.
Juri bounced once before landing properly on all fours, and took a moment to regain her composure. When she looked back up she found that her opponent had changed back to his humanoid form, and the cannon mouth on his arm was now widening to make room for an interior missile.
That... actually opened up a couple possibilities...
It was a bit of a risk, considering the target's speed, but she seemed out of it after the last exchange and a direct hit with a missile should be more than enough to keep her down.
Sound reasoning. But most plans seem reasonable up until everything falls apart.
The bounty hunter's systems still had a lock on the target, but Juri was not trying to avoid the shots any more. In fact, she dashed towards the missile as it fired.
Leaning to the side just enough to not be struck by the rocket, Juri grabbed it mid-flight and with a spinning leap slammed it warhead-first right back into the bounty hunter's cannon.
The bounty hunter's readout warned her about a possible blockage. Bit of an understatement.
Juri was disappointed that Tin Man's arm didn't just vaporize, but from the gout of flame which flowed out of the barrel and the warning beeps even she could hear it was obvious that progress had been made regardless.
With a war cry she laid into the armored torso with kicks and punches, probing for any chink in the armor.
The bounty hunter tried to sort through all of the caution notifications flashing across her visor as quickly as she could, rocking slightly from the blows raining down from outside.
The current attack was not much of an issue, and the explosion was not actually mighty enough to breach the suit outwards or inwards, but that did not mean it was harmless. If the fire managed to travel far back enough to eventually heat up the other stored missiles...
The bounty hunter's examination was disrupted as her head jerked from side to side, courtesy of a back-and-forth kick to her "face". It did not harm her, but she was going to make little progress with these distractions.
Begrudgingly, the bounty hunter turned her attention back to Juri.
That trick with the missile must have done a lot more than Juri thought. Tin Man wasn't even trying to defend himself; taking the blows as they came. Did some important motor system that helped him move around fry? Maybe his joints locked up or someth-
Juri was caught off guard as the metal giant came back to life, stooping down to wrap its arms around Juri. Gripping the cannon with his hand to complete the lock, he tightened and trapped Juri in what she now realized was a bearhug.
Juri wiggled and thrashed in the titanium grip, finding no purchase or leeway. Her arms were smashed by her sides, and her feet dangled in the air as her captor rose back up to full height.
Her bones creaked and her lungs begged for air as the hold grew tighter; but the haze descending on her thoughts was red instead of white.
This thing was a grappler? Really? It had an entire long-range arsenal! It had bombs! lasers! It didn't get to have CQC on top of that!
For the love of god, it only had one damn hand! It wasn't fair!
Partially because it was the only thing she could do, but mostly in a fit of blind rage, Juri began to headbutt the Tin Man's face. She'd be damned if she wasn't going to at least give the thing a headache.
The bounty hunter watched with increased interest as Juri's face crashed again and again against her visor, the smears of red gradually building up and tinting her vision. Maybe she wouldn't have to even bother with an extraction procedure on that eye. It seemed likely that she'd just be able to pluck it out of the mush after all of this was over.
Her mood sunk back to normal, however, when she began to notice the cracks.
As the suit filled her steadily fragmenting view with new batches of warnings, she remembered to keep in mind why that gadget was important.
Juri felt the grip around her release and let her drop to the ground, but she was not done yet. Not by a long shot. Cranking her Feng Shui engine up, she let out an unintelligible shout of rage and began to "kick" a barrage of purple fireballs into the iron idiot before her.
She could barely see in front of her due to the blood dripping down into her eyes, but that was okay for now. These motions were second nature to her, and the backdrafts of even more heat from the shots connecting told her more than enough to continue.
[Air seal compromised]
[Temperature regulation systems offline]
[Tracking systems damaged]
[Structural issues detected]
[Air circulation at 63% efficiency]
[Scanning programs offline]
Willing the still ongoing cascade of warnings and alerts away, the bounty hunter brought up the one protocol she would need. It was a shame to do this again, but an inactive bag of parts would be easier to fix back up than a possible crater.
After activating the procedure, she gazed past the prompts to glare at the feral woman in front of her.
The gloves, among several other things, were coming off.
Juri leapt onto the Tin Man's chest and grabbed hold of his head, intending to tear it off of his shoulders.
Imagine her surprise when it actually pulled off with no resistance at all. Or when the armored plating she was standing on also came loose and fell.
Flat on her back and holding her "prize", Juri shifted the helmet to one hand so she could wipe the blood away and make better sense of what was now in front of her.
The figure underneath the deteriorating Tin Man was... neither of the above.
The woman was shorter than what the suit made her out to be, but not by terribly much. She must have had somewhere around a foot of height on Juri even now. Her movements were smooth and professional, although it was clear that she was holding more than a little aggravation in check.
Drawing an odd looking pistol from a hip holster, the catsuited woman rapidly pressed a few buttons on it before bringing it down to bear on Juri.
Juri thought fast. leaning forwards and reaching out, she covered the pistol's barrel with the helmet she was still holding. It was a silly move, but it probably would have worked if up against a traditional bullet-firing pistol.
Key word here is "If".
The energy fired from the handgun surged across the surface of the helmet and into Juri. What came from that was... weird. The closest comparison she could make was to a taser, but she did not seem to be getting legitimately electrocuted. Sure, she trembled in place and her body locked up, but there was no pain or heat which would usually come with that. It was like the attack was tailor made to push over and stomp on the nervous system, leaving everything else alone.
Stepping forward, the blue woman plucked her helmet from Juri's frozen grip and flung it out the door. Then, with a spin to build up extra momentum, she landed a straight kick into Juri's stomach that sent her flying back.
Juri could feel control coming back to her as she tumbled, and when she came to a stop she pushed herself up with one hand while holding her stomach with the other. To her surprise, she felt a scorch mark where the kick had landed. Did she roll through a particularly large ember during that spill?
She didn't have time to muse on this, however, as the blue woman was quickly on her.
She was fast, Juri had to give her that. Maybe even suspiciously so. But you had to do a lot more than that to outpace the Feng Shui engine.
Juri bobbed and weaved through a few punches and kicks, then chose to grab her opponent's leg mid-roundhouse. To her continued surprise, the foot now held in front of her face was clad in high heels of all things.
"Awww," Juri chided, "did I hold you up on your way to prom?"
If the blue woman found this amusing she certainly didn't show it. The only response, in fact, was the "heel" shooting a blast of fire directly into Juri's face.
Releasing her hold to clutch her face as she stepped back, Juri cursed at herself for letting her guard down. Those weren't stilettos, they were tiny jet engines!
Juri was pulled back in as she recoiled, courtesy of an energy rope which shot out of the pistol and attached to her chest. Still blinded by the shot to her face, and now paralyzed once again, Juri could do little but rock slightly against a series of chops raining down on her head and shoulders. The blue woman then tossed Juri behind her without even looking, sending her rolling to a stop at the foot of the bunker's doorway.
Juri rolled when she landed; not sure where she was going, but also knowing that staying still was a death sentence. Only when the air around her dropped to freezing and she tumbled face first into a bank of slush did she realize that she had fled outside the building entirely.
Great. She could make snow angels as she spasmed.
It took a good amount of time for Juri to rise up and find good enough footing on the frozen ground and in the howling winds, but she was not interrupted during it. That was odd. The blue bitch was riding her ass from the word go, what was stopping her now? Did she somehow lose her?
Juri looked back to the doorway, and saw her opponent silhouetted by the raging inferno behind her. She was making no motion to leave the bunker, and in fact was several steps back from the exit proper.
Juri couldn't make sense of it. Sure, it was bad out here, but they were being slow-roasted in there. Surely this was the better option out of the two?
Juri continued to watch as some sort of fuel supply was finally breached somewhere inside the building, and a new wave of fire bloomed to life behind her opponent. The blue woman was pushed forward a step or two, but leaned back against the shockwave while doing so like an acrophobic forced onto a narrow cliff edge.
Huh. Maybe the cold wasn't the best option.
At least, not for her.
Samus Aran peered out into the white wasteland with a mix of emotions.
She had experienced a great many things during her lifetime, and had been at the forefront of several galaxy-changing events. Many wondered if she was even human. And, in an odd sort of way, they were right to doubt.
Samus had started her life as a normal person, sure, but over the years she had been... adjusted. The first instance being right after she was orphaned, and was taken in by an ancient race of bird-like creatures called the Chozo. They had raised her as one of their own; going so far as to infuse her with parts of their own DNA so she could be just as physically capable as them. Samus had no issues with this. Besides a few quirks here and there trying to integrate back into human civilizations, she had turned out just fine.
What really troubled her were the Metroids.
Artificial energy parasites -- an awry creation of the Chozo themselves, in fact -- they were a plague upon the galaxy. They consumed all life that they could, reproduced at an alarming rate, and were near invulnerable to almost everything. One of Samus' most lauded accomplishments was how she had essentially eradicated this scourge, and had always somehow been nearby to stomp out any possible resurgences or resurrections.
Which made it all the more ironic that she was now partially one of them.
Shortly after a particularly notable mission, she was infected and almost killed by a malicious parasite. She had only survived due to quick thinking scientists at Galactic Federation Headquarters whipping up a vaccine, using the cell of a Metroid as a base. The end result was that the parasite was purged from her system, but her genetic structure was once again irrevocably changed. She was now was just as much a Metroid -- the bastard children of the Chozo race -- as she was Chozo herself.
No one could tell at a glance, but then again no one could notice the Chozo genetics either. The real changes were inside. From the Chozo she had gained all-around better physical capabilities... and maybe an affinity for eggs. She wasn't too clear on that one.
But from the Metroids? She was now immune to the type of parasite that almost killed her, since Metroids were created specifically to counter them. Sometimes Metroids even seemed confused on whether she was potential prey or one of them. But the most significant change was inheriting their one fatal flaw.
The little energy vampires were incredibly weak to the process of energy leaving the body; also known as "cold" for those who don't push up their glasses and snort after every sentence. This was usually weaponized against them with an ice beam, flash-freezing the monsters solid, but that was only the most extreme case. Just going too low on the thermometer could sap them of their energy, force them into dormancy, and even kill them; all at much faster rates than it would a normal creature of comparable hardiness.
Her opponent, out in the unforgiving snowstorm, was undoubtedly very cold. But she was not actively dying. Samus may not be able to say the same for herself if the left this oven without the insulation of her Power Suit.
"What's the matter? Forget to pack your scarf?"
...Aaand now she was starting to catch wise on something being off.
Samus began to formulate a plan in her head. This would have to be done fast, and with as few hitches as possible.
Juri waited, curious to see if her opponent would come out on her own. She was amused -- but somehow not surprised -- when the blue woman turned away from the doorway.
What did surprise her, though, was the piece of white hot metal that shot her direction.
The catsuited woman had apparently turned back to find the biggest hunk of what was left of the furnace, then grabbed hold of it with her energy whip and sent it hurling out the doorway. Juri rolled to the side as the now steaming hunk of scrap slid to a stop in the snow, and the blonde girl leapt out to perch right on top of it.
Even though she was making direct contact with something just a few steps away from molten, the blue girl did not so much as wince. Juri noted that in her head; despite how that glorified bodypaint looked, it must at least provide pretty nice insulation.
As steam rose and obscured the area around them, blasts and lashes from the energy pistol began to cut the cloud around Juri. Juri herself focused on staying on the move and not getting pinned down, realizing that time was very much on her side.
Time which slipped away even faster than expected. As the metal rapidly cooled, and began to violently implode due to the severe temperature change, the blue woman was forced to hop down to avoid it possibly contracting around her feet.
And, of course, Juri was waiting.
It was back-and-forth at first, with both putting on an impromptu ballet as they danced around each other's attacks while trying to land their own, but it was eventually an extremely unconventional play which broke the stalemate.
Juri drew back a few steps and charged her energy, glowing purple with power. After a short pause she then "kicked" a flurry of violet fireballs at Samus.
Samus quickly evaluated this maneuver, and almost instantly came to a conclusion. Her foe had just given her fire, in a situation where the greatest enemy was actually the possibility of freezing. On top of that, her Zero Suit should be able to take most of the edge off of these attacks. The end result being that the most favorable option would be to just stay still and eat them. Thanks, Juri!
Standing her ground, Samus felt the heat crash over her as they connected. It hurt a little, but the warmth they gave more than made up for it.
A small smile began to bloom on her face, but quickly froze in confusion as a hand shot out through the fire and worked fingers under the collar of her suit.
With an artificially empowered pull downwards, Juri tore away the front section of the bounty hunter's Zero Suit.
Samus let out an involuntary gasp as she spilled out, her chest and stomach now being buffeted by the frigid winds. Juri couldn't help but giggle and brush a hand across the bounty hunter's hardening nipples.
"Someone's getting perky..."
Samus didn't reply, instead activating her boot-jets to leap back and get some space between them.
"You're not much of a talker, are you?" Juri asked.
"Oh well. You'll be screaming soon enough..."
Samus did not care about being exposed. She was never terribly modest to begin with, and at least one of them was going to soon take the memories of this to their grave. What bothered her was being... exposed.
The insulation seal on her Zero Suit, her last line of defense against the bitter cold all around her, had now been destroyed. She was now almost as good as naked in a blizzard.
Knowing that it was now or never, Samus jetted back towards Juri in a desperate attempt to end the fight here and now.
Juri smiled and licked her numbing lips as Samus rocketed back. She was getting reckless. And recklessness leads to mistakes.
Leaping clear over Samus as she charged, Juri took hold of the bounty hunter's back collar as she sped by; the end result being that the suit segment which covered her upper back and sides was torn clear off. Knocked off balance by the change of momentum, and shocked by the new chill, Samus crash-landed face down in a snow drift.
"If you wanted out of that thing so bad all you had to do was ask..." Juri purred as she advanced on the slumped form. "...I'm always up for some fun and games..."
Samus rose and spun around in an attempt to catch Juri with her energy whip, but she was getting weaker and slower. Juri easily dodged to the outside of her strike, then seized the bounty hunter's arm on either side of the elbow and brought it down on her knee. Samus bit her lip but did not cry out as her arm broke, the crunch of her joint and the muted clatter of her pistol falling on the mushy ground being the only sounds to mark the occasion.
Juri then used the leverage to pull Samus in for a few headbutts before bringing her stomach down on her bent knee, ending with the bounty hunter splayed across her like a child ready for disciplining.
Samus could do little but gasp for air as she felt the buckles around her ankles come undone and weight fall away, Juri having apparently taken the time to remove her rocket attachments during the lull in action. Afterwards, however, her hands came to rest on the bounty hunter's back and bottom respectively.
"To think, a girl like you wearing stilettos under all that armor."
Juri's hand probed the edges of the suit portion covering her lower body and tore it away. Now, at this point, only her arms and legs remained clothed.
"Not even any underwear under all of this. Such a naughty girl."
Samus tried to break free, but her weakened struggles did little but further please her captor. Samus Aran, living legend of the stars, could do little but shiver and try to hold back tears as this woman played with her most private areas.
Eventually, the hand pulled away.
"You know what I think you need?"
With a force behind it far exceeding what should be possible, the hand came back down on Samus Aran's ass with a tremendous smack. Her cheeks rippled and shook from the impact, and her eyes widened as she took in a hiss of air.
"Yeah, that's more like it."
Juri Han began to spank Samus, her rear quickly reddening despite the cold all around them. Juri was not here for simple S&M, however. As she drew more and more energy from her Feng Shui engine, her jiggling subject began to turn from red to purple, and then finally to black. Partway through she had moved her free hand up to the bounty hunter's face, in order to get a better look at how she was coping, and got bit for her troubles. It was kind of cute all things considered; Samus did not have enough energy left to pierce the skin, so it was more a love nip than anything else. Juri decided to leave her hand there for now. God knows Samus needed something to bite.
Eventually, when even the jolts of shock with each slap began to wane, Juri paused her strikes. Samus had only a moment to hope that the nightmare was over before Juri's nails dug into her back and raked up to her neck.
Pleased with her work, Juri pushed the bounty hunter off her knee and onto the snow. She left the woman there to writhe in a puddle of red slush as she wandered off to find something.
Samus tried to focus. It was so hard, and she wasn't sure she even wanted to anymore.
A kick across her upturned face brought her back to the here and now. Standing above her, with her hands behind her back, was Juri Han.
Samus knew that nothing good could come from this, but she couldn't help herself and nodded.
"Want some clothing?" Juri continued, leaning down further.
Samus nodded again.
"Alright!" Juri replied giddily, pulling the bounty hunter's battered helmet out from behind her.
With no care at all Juri slammed the cracked helmet onto Samus, making her see stars as the top of the interior collided with her skull. Which was only joined by her ears ringing as Juri began to kick her now helmeted head.
Partially in an attempt to escape the kicks, and partially because of the force of said kicks themselves, Samus rolled over onto her stomach. In front of her, not terribly far off, she could make out the doorway to the bunker they had left. The fires had apparently not died down yet, judging from the glow inside.
Fire. Heat. Life.
The blows coming down on Samus slowed to a stop as Juri realized where the bounty hunter was trying to drag herself. With one arm, and only fumes in the tank.
"You think you can do it?" asked Juri.
"Go for it. I'll even cheer you on."
Samus blocked out the sarcastic words of encouragement from her tormentor. It didn't matter. The only thing that did was the welcoming glow she could see through her cracked visor, growing with each pull across the ground that she could manage.
Against all odds, she was doing it. Or maybe the odds were in her favor all along. She was a special breed; a unique being throughout all of the known universe, one legends were woven around and shared between awed soldiers. It would take more than nippy weather to put her down, right?
As the doorway grew even closer, she felt a surge of adrenaline course through her. With reserves of strength even she didn't know she had, Samus rose to her knees and began to stand up for the final step.
She had stopped. Why had she stopped?
Samus found that she couldn't move forward or backward, and couldn't rotate her head at all. On top of that, there was now a nasty pressure on her temples.
Bringing her arm up to explore, she found metal on either side of her.
"Oh, so close!"
While Samus was busy trying to will herself over the doorstep, Juri had reached through to flip the closing switch. The two halves of the door had shot out just as her helmeted head went through; wedging it between them and crumpling it just enough that she couldn't remove herself from it.
She was trapped there, with only her helmet saving her from a grisly fate.
And she could feel it starting to give.
Juri watched as the bounty hunter's bruised rear shook from side to side during attempts to pull free. It was almost hypnotic, really.
Juri was feeling a little tired, though, and needed a spot of rest. Walking forward and turning around herself, Juri took a seat on the presented ass and crossed her legs.
A little unsteady, but soft enough. Squishy, even. This would do.
Samus barely registered the new pressure behind her, as it was all agony down there anyway. What she was focused on now was the increasing pressure on the sides of her skull. Her arm flailed and pounded futiley on the metal doors, doing nothing but making noise.
Samus had begun to cry; the tears dripping down off her face, through the cracks in the increasingly fragmented visor, and out onto the floor. Was this it? Was this how her legend would end?
As the pressure became unbearable, and the visor finally shattered, Samus started to scream.
Juri was pleased to hear the beginnings of a shriek, moments before it was silenced by the KRRNK of folding metal and the door fully shutting.
The bounty hunter's one good hand spent a few more seconds desperately clawing at the door before falling, now just as useless as its ruined sibling.
Slowly, wetly, what was left of Samus Aran slid down the closed door. It gently hit the floor, with only a growing crimson puddle and an occasional twitch signaling the storied life that once was.
"Done so soon? Oh well..."
Rising back to her feet, Juri turned to examine the remains. Her rear was still propped up in the air, a neat little side effect of how she met her end. All in all, a fairly good job.
Juri, begrudgingly, turned to face the blizzard around her. This was rather fun and all, but she was not looking forward to going back out into the heart of that storm. Once again she bitterly wished that she had brought something to keep warm in.
Then a thought struck her.
She did have some things around that could fit the bill.
Juri Han waded through another snowbank, trying her best not to fall over. How does anyone walk in heels? Like, even on normal flat ground?
Pushing the gripes aside to focus on her steps, Juri checked that the blue material wrapped around her face and exposed skin still held fast. This stuff was pretty good at keeping you warm! The extra height the blue girl had on her gave Juri more than enough to work with, too.
Juri smiled as she remembered how she left the bounty hunter, and how this damned cold would soon freeze her solid like that. If anyone showed up later they would find her preserved body naked and presenting; bruised rear up for all to admire.
A fitting epilogue, as far as she was concerned.