Alright guys; we're going to be getting a little experimental with the format today! Just follow any instructions that come your way and it should go just fine. If you wind up liking it, good. If you wind up hating it, even better! This is a one-off thing, and we'll be returning to the traditional style afterwards.
Chapter 9: Roy G. Biv Sends His Regards
(Alternate Title: With Apologies To Fanged Farming Fowl)
Juri took a sniff of a bottle and then, grimacing, placed it back on the shelf.
This time around she had wandered into a replica of a nightclub. A club with no one else in it -- which missed most of the point -- but everything was up and running like the party was in full swing. Lights everywhere shifted hue and pulsed with the trance-like beat of the music; with several huge, glass pillars spaced evenly across the dance floor making sure that no nook or corner escaped the glow. Sets of stairs lined the walls, leading up to an open second floor where theoretical customers could relax and look down on the ravings below. And, next to the dance floor itself, an entire wall was set aside for the bar's arsenal of booze.
Juri, naturally, had leapt over the unprotected counter as soon as she saw it to better examine the wares. She had so far confirmed that it was indeed alcohol. A lot following that was just a big 'ol question mark.
She knew a bit about the art of getting hammered -- her mother had actually owned a vinery as a little side project -- but this wasn't exactly the type of market which would hem and haw about vintages. Tasting most of this stuff just meant that you weren't chugging fast enough.
Juri halted her inspection of another drink for people who hated their esophagus to turn and inspect the woman now seated on the other side of the counter.
...Where was the hat? You know, the hat? Nobody dresses like that without intending to top it all off with a stetson. Maybe she was just too proud of her hair to finish the job. Wild, unkempt locks -- so golden that they almost seemed to cancel out the colored lights which drowned out every other hue -- flowed down her shoulders and partially obscured her lilac eyes. A youthful, cocky grin finished the overall look; she was clearly someone who did what she liked and liked what she did.
"Do I look like a barista to you?" Juri asked the girl.
"You're behind the bar counter, holding a bottle of whiskey, and answered to 'Yo, barkeep' ", the cowgirl quipped back.
Well damn. Had her there.
Juri shrugged, accepting 'defeat', and decided to play along.
"Strawberry Sunrise. No ice."
That order Juri could do. Darting around the various countertops, Juri quickly returned to her 'customer' holding a mixture of sweet, pink liquid.
"You, uh, forgot the umbrella..." the cowgirl said, eyeing the glass.
"You'll get your umbrella and glass after you cough up an I.D., kid", Juri retorted with a grin.
"Oh come on!" the cowgirl griped, the golden bracelets on her wrists catching the pulsing light as she threw them up in annoyance. "I'm good for it. Do I look like I need to be carded?"
Juri stared down the girl. Eventually, grumbling the whole time, she pulled out a card and slid it across the counter.
Juri picked up and examined it. A school I.D.? Where the hell was Beacon Academy? This Yang lady had...
Juri looked up at the blond, buxom John Wayne cosplayer.
Then down at the name on the I.D.
Then back up to her.
"...You know that the entire point of a fake card is to bump up the age on it, right?"
"Hey, that's completely legit!" the girl shot back, crossing her arms and pouting.
"Whatever you say, Yang Xiao Long. Is your ginger friend Jin Cho Yun going to join us later?"
Yang started to retort, but stopped when Juri raised a finger as if to make a point.
"Tell you what, goldilocks. This club is dead, and I've got nothing to do but you."
Juri leaned across the countertop, drawing closer to the golden-haired girl.
"You look like a real scrapper, too. If you can give me a good fight, not only will I look over the age thing but drinks will be on the house. How does that sound?"
Yang leaned in herself while maintaining eye contact with Juri; the two of them now almost touching foreheads like a pair of bucks locking their antlers.
"I think I'm going to like you."
"We'll see", Juri whispered through her crocodile smile.
Yang backed away from the bar, beckoning Juri to follow as she stepped onto the dance floor proper. Juri was not far behind, effortlessly flipping back over the countertop and tagging along at a leisurely gait.
Juri was amused to note that, as they reached the center of the floor and faced each other off, whoever was behind the scenes of all this was milking the setting for all it was worth. The generic clubbing beat faded away, and the pulsing lights synced up to the flow of something a little more... appropriate.
"Just letting you know, I like my Sunrise heavy on the juice" Yang taunted while she cracked her knuckles. As she did so the gauntlets on her wrists extended with a series of whirrs and clicks, covering her forearms. Afterwards she pulled her arms back to her sides in one swift motion, causing a mysterious Ch-CHK noise as she readied her stance for battle.
Juri sized her opponent up while stretching out her legs.
"You're extra juicy. Got it."
Locking eyes, they both nodded to the other and dashed forward.
Yang came in like a pugilist, fists up to protect her face as she shuffled from side to side during her advance. She opened with a left hook that Juri dodged to the outside of, planning to give her opponent a heel between the shoulderblades while she was still working against her committed momentum.
This plan was quickly discarded, though, as Yang's arm was propelled back with a jerk from some sort of explosion and her elbow embedded itself into Juri's side.
Juri stumbled and Yang pressed her advantage; another explosion going off as she tackled Juri with far more force than she reasonably could have built up in such a short time period. Recovering from the blindsiding, Juri turned the tackle into something approaching a Judo throw; repurposing the momentum to bring Yang's chest down on her feet and pushing her up into the air with the assistance of her Feng Shui Engine.
As Juri leapt up to meet Yang on the way down, another pair of explosions went off and her opponent flew off to the side. Juri finally got to spot the source of all this ruckus: Yang's golden gauntlets apparently were more than just for show.
Juri fell back to the ground as Yang managed to roll to her feet, and they stared each other down.
"You hiding a couple tricks from me?" Juri asked.
"Oh no..." Yang replied, as she threw her arms back to make the Ch-CHK noise again and spent shotgun shells fell around her feet.
Wait, shotgun shells?
"...I have more than just a couple."
Both leapt back into action; Yang to continue her push, and Juri to cut her off before she could bring those gauntlets to bear. Juri came in as close as she could, reasoning that she could not be easily shot as long as she was behind the fists as they swung. Yang didn't really have a strategy in mind, just wanting to get a few good hits in and go from there.
Juri swept the legs out from underneath Yang, but as she fell Yang shot blasts downwards and back to turn it into a rising knee into Juri's collarbone. Juri replied by grabbing hold of her airborne opponent by the hips and powerslamming her to the ground, and Yang rebutted by firing towards her feet where she lay; sliding her away from Juri while at the same time blowing Juri's footing out from under her.
As Juri flung out her hands and fell on all fours, she noted something important: She still had legs. They stung like hell, but were intact and not even bleeding. Whatever her opponent was packing only looked like shotgun blasts; the real effect was actually closer to a punch force enhancement than the torso shredders one would expect.
This meant that she could make much larger gambles than she originally thought.
Grinning to herself, Juri finally went on the offense.
Yang brought herself up to standing with the force of two shots from her gauntlets into the ground, giving her just enough time to see Juri coming.
For a moment it was an odd sort of defenseless stalemate; where both sides avoided having anything land on them not through any precautions on their part, but because every wild punch was deflected by an equally reckless kick and vice-versa. Eventually, though, one of them caught wise.
Yang went low for a body blow. Juri used the outstretched arm as a stepping stone, balancing on the gauntlet with one foot as she punted Yang's head to the side with the other. As Yang reached to knock off her spider-monkey of an opponent, Juri stepped over onto her shoulder and gave the back of her skull a good rattle as she kicked off.
"Hey, watch the hair!" Yang shouted while trying to regain her balance. Juri hadn't pegged this rowdy little thing as a frou-frou type, but didn't really give it much thought. Yet.
Yang knew that Juri must have been running up behind her while she was steadying herself, and in anticipation spun around with a backhand. Her knuckles brushed against the hair of her crouching opponent as they soared over her.
Rising to catch the limb as the blow whiffed, Juri flipped over her opponent; stressing the muscles as the arm twisted and strained. Locking in the torque by hooking around her other arm from below, Juri now had her opponent in a standing lock.
"Easy there, Purps..." Yang muttered through a half-smile, half-grimace. "...I need that. This is a wager, not a mugging."
The pressure on Yang's joints did not lessen; if anything, they got worse.
"You, uh, hear me PuOOOOH!"
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As if on cue, the club music cut out just in time to let the pop echo across the room. Juri let go and stepped back before her opponent could think of retaliating; leaving Yang slunched over alone.
Slowly she turned around to face her opponent, cradling her dislocated arm with her good one and gnashing her teeth.
"You... aren't playing... are you?"
"What, not having fun anymore?" Juri shot back. "I know I still am."
Juri was pleased at how things were coming along. Her meal was already all hot and bothered; panting heavily, furrowing her brow, narrowing her...
As the lights shifted to scarlet, and Yang rushed forward in silent fury, Juri knew that things were just starting to get interesting.
In any regular brawl, the fight should have been easily decided then and there. But, for a few reasons already made clear and many more yet to be revealed, this was far from anything approaching "regular".
Juri moved to Yang's bad side as she charged, again grabbing hold of the dislocated arm as her opponent went by. Yang grimaced as new waves of pain pulsed through her, but did not falter. In fact, she began shooting blasts behind herself with her good hand to move even faster. With Juri holding onto her the result was a sort of windmill motion; Yang running in a circle while Juri spun at the center.
Juri was not prepared for this, and soon had to let go of Yang or risk falling over from dizziness. Yang continued running in the direction she was sent until she came upon one of the dancefloor's glass pillars, used it as a launching point to shoot herself back where she came, and crashed into the still woozy Juri mid-flight.
The two of them sailed through the air until they collided with another light-column; the force of their crash sending spiderwebs of cracks all across it's surface. Wasting no time, Yang punched Juri in the gut and then activated her gauntlet; breaking the structure into jagged fragments and shattered pieces as her opponent was pushed through it and out the other side.
Shredded to ribbons and needled with shards of glass, Juri writhed as Yang cautiously stepped through what remained of the light fixture. She had just enough sense to roll aside before Yang blasted her prone form, and as she began to push herself up felt her palms slide and open against the glass debris beneath them.
There was nothing she could do about that. But maybe there was something she could do with that.
Yang paid most of her attention to Juri's legs as she advanced, as her opponent was clearly a kick-fighter, and thus was completely caught off-guard by the rising haymaker. She was more surprised, however, by the fact that the blow cut a hole through her cheek. Shards of glass were wedged between each finger in Juri's fists, causing each blow to pierce and tear as they landed. Temporarily too bewildered to put up a proper defense, she was forced backwards against Juri's double-edged assault. Blood from both of them flew through the air and rolled down their bodies as Juri laid into Yang; the shards digging into her hands worse and worse as she plunged them into Yang's torso and raked them across her face.
Eventually Yang got back up to speed though, and caught one of Juri's flailing fists with her good hand.
Juri, unphased, threw another punch with her other hand.
Which was caught by Yang's other hand.
Juri stared in shocked disbelief. That arm was supposed to be useless. She broke it herself. Yet now it didn't have so much as a bruise. If anything it was stronger; Yang's grip was like iron, and she easily forced Juri's hands down and inwards despite her Feng Shui Engine-assisted efforts.
Turning to face Yang's smiling face, she noticed another thing as well: The gashes she had just finished giving Yang were almost completely gone. In fact she could actually see the worst injury -- the tear right through her cheek -- just finish closing back up.
Juri could only stutter "...What?"
"Forgot already?" Yang replied. "More than a couple tricks."
Then, with a blast from both of her gauntlets, Yang sent Juri flying.
As Juri rolled to a stop, something finally clicked into place. When her vision blurred, and she could only see vague colors and shapes instead of actual objects, what she had originally had written off as a mere oddity was thrown into much starker contrast.
"You're on fire", Juri muttered.
"Thanks.", Yang said with a cocky smirk, reloading her gauntlets with another Ch-CHK as she advanced.
"No. You're on fire."
Juri had noted earlier that Yang's hair seemed to stay golden despite the overwhelming lighting all around, but only now realized how that actually worked. The hair was actually a lightsource itself. And now, as she focused on it, she could even make out small distortions similar to heatwaves coming off of blacktop in summer and licks of what appeared to be flames.
This seemed important. She wasn't sure how yet, but it was a start. What she needed was a moment to think this over.
A great many things were being called into question right now, but Juri was still pretty sure that she was the faster out of the two. Flipping to her feet, she turned and made a beeline for a stairwell.
"What, ya done?" Yang shouted, raising her hands in mock-surprise as the lights shifted to shades of yellow. "I thought you were having fun!"
Juri had made it to the second-floor balcony by the time that the tremors hit, and she grabbed hold of the banister for support.
"Don't worry!" Yang's voice rang out from below, "I can bring down the house all by myself!"
Juri peered over to find that Yang had not followed her up. She was instead pounding apart the supports for the second floor, obviously intending to soon make it the ground floor. Like some sort of Chinese cowgirl Samson, she was willing to bring everything down around her just to spite her enemy.
...Why did that sound so appropriate?
The final pieces falling into place, Juri vaulted over the banister.
Yang was pleased to see that her opponent had decided to come back down of her own accord. She was significantly less pleased when she soared right over her and dashed for the bar.
"Oh Purp..." Yang spoke to herself as she gave chase, "...it's gonna take a lot more than a mixed drink to get you out of this."
Sliding over the countertop, Juri quickly took inventory of the available booze. She chose a large, hardy looking bottle of absurd proof just in time to ready herself.
Yang vaulted over the counter herself and immediately set upon Juri. The purple woman tried her best to defend herself but a tide had definitely turned; although she was still fast enough to deflect blows, the sheer force behind even glancing hits sent her staggering and reeling. The bottle she started this confrontation holding like a club soon disintegrated against one of Yang's gauntlets, not even leaving a decent shank-handle to work with.
Juri fell back, clutching the counter to stay on her feet. Yang predictably swung and activated her gauntlet, intending to pulverize her foe with a mighty blow.
And what a blow it was.
The gauntlet, soaked completely through with damn near pure alcohol due to the bottle it plowed through earlier, reacted quite interestingly to the spark used to set off a round. For an instant it caught alight, the entire mechanism burning through the thin, flammable layer of liquid. Although this flash-fire was not present long enough to harm the wielder, it did manage to simultaneously ignite and set off every shell in the gauntlet.
Juri lurched aside just as the place where she was standing -- as well as a good stretch of area behind it -- simply ceased to be.
Yang, not prepared for such massive feedback, was spun completely around.
Juri kicked the back of Yang's knee to force her into a kneel, placed one foot on Yang's shoulder, and with both hands gathered Yang's fiery hair to grasp it as close to the scalp and as tightly as she could manage.
This was when things would get... amusing.
Yang's hair was silky to the touch, and oddly warm on top of that. Juri wasn't entirely sure if the soothing sensation she felt while gripping it in in her ragged, oozing palms was something caused by the hair itself, or just her own body releasing some feel-good chemicals in anticipation for what was coming. Maybe a little of both?
It didn't matter in the long run. There were better things to think about right now.
"Listen, Purp..." Yang growled through clenched teeth. "You have five seconds before I-"
"Do absolutely nothing!" Juri finished, tugging Yang's scalp back just a little to get the point across. "If you try anything -- knock me back, jump away, even just trip me -- you'll need to start up a hat collection. But that isn't really what's so important here, is it?"
Yang said nothing, but did not move to escape, which spoke more than enough all by itself.
"I got your number Goldie", Juri continued. "Took me a while, but it's all out now. You're Samson with a boob job, aren't you?"
"Sam-wha?" Yang bewilderingly asked.
"Boy, you really are a kid", Juri sighed, and brought her head down next to Yang's to speak directly into her ear.
"Strong, simple, and tough. You're powerful. So powerful, in fact, that you can just eat everything thrown at you head-on and send it right back even worse. Sure, you're not much of a thinker, but as long as things fall down when you hit them it doesn't really matter. Except it does. Your toughness isn't guaranteed; There's something you have to protect to keep it"
Juri gave Yang's hair a slightly stronger tug, causing her to let out a small gasp of shock, before continuing.
"Do you know what did in the actual Samson? Not a mighty warrior, not a godly weapon, not really even a couple tons of rock and wood. What finally put down a man of legends was a half-clever floozy with a razor."
Raising up slightly, and pulling down on Yang's hair so that she was forced to look upwards, Juri leered down at those furious eyes.
"Come on. I know you have a quip about the floozy part."
Yang did not speak a word, but that did not mean she lacked a reply. Pausing only a moment to build up phlegm, Yang spat a loogie up into Juri's smug face.
"...Well." Juri remarked, drawing back. "Fair enough."
Doubling down on her grip, and readying her foothold on Yang's shoulder, Juri pulled back as hard as she could.
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Once again the powers-that-be were on point, cutting the fancy lights and music just in time to make room for the real show. A sickeningly wet tearing noise echoed through the room as Yang's hair -- alongside most of her scalp -- was ripped free of her head in one gruesome motion.
Juri stepped back and held out her new "pelt" for inspection. It was quite a sight to behold, despite the powerful glow already fading fast. Satisfied with that, she turned back to the previous owner.
Yang was frozen in place; either from nervous overload or simply refusing to believe, the current events had not been processed yet. But it was not a revelation which could be put off forever.
Slowly, shakily, Yang brought her hands up to touch where her scalp should have been. Finding only sticky bone, and her vision clouding over from the torrents of blood flowing down, Yang clutched her head and started to shriek.
"Oh, you big baby" Juri chided, walking around to her front and holding out the scalp. "It's still here. See?"
Somehow, this failed to calm her down.
"You can even have it back if it bothers you so much." Juri continued, shoving a handful of the hair into Yang's open mouth.
As Yang gagged and heaved on her own scalp, Juri turned about and threw out her arms; directly petitioning the ever-present surveillance equipment she knew was watching them from somewhere.
Barely holding back giddy laughter as the club dove into shades of violet, Juri turned back to her yellow friend.
"You spoil me, guys. You really do."
Yang had just finished coughing up her hair when Juri picked her up by her scarf and threw her back over the countertop. Whenever she was about to hit the ground Juri was already there to punt her back up, like a hacky sack that could weep.
Eventually she was allowed to land, coming to a stop face-down on the shard-littered dancefloor. Although she could have passed as a biker at first glance, her leather jacket did even less to protect against the "road rash" from sliding across layers of broken glass. It was almost a relief when Juri landed on her spine via an artificially-enhanced divekick, sending about half of her body into muddled confusion with a muffled snap.
But Juri was still not done; far from it. Holding Yang's face to the ground as she was dragged forward, they came up to the haphazard remains of what was left of the glass pillar Juri shot through earlier. With a lift and a heave Yang was dropped and impaled upon the jagged structure, left there for a few seconds to sink in and writhe.
But not for terribly long. Grabbing hold of a flailing arm, Juri pulled Yang through and off the crystalline peaks that skewered her in place with a shoulder throw. Landing once again on the quickly reddening floor, Yang was not surprised when Juri took a moment to re-dislocate the arm she held before continuing.
Punted back towards the bar, Yang rolled to a helpless slump against the bottom of the counter. Her already blurry vision grew more indistinct as Juri began stomping on her, indiscriminately raising wicked bruises across her head, neck, and torso. She was far too out of it to notice, but the continued onslaught began to pound her into the steadily bowing wood.
When she next came-to she was being held aloft; Juri examining her for any signs of life. Yang tried to say something -- anything -- in spiteful protest, but all which came out was a low, hollow gurgle.
Happy to find what she was looking for, Juri gave Yang a knowing wink with her glowing left eye before letting go then kicking her aloft.
As Yang slowed to a halt midair, Juri was already above her and waiting. Grabbing hold of Yang's arms from behind, and placing her feet on the back of Yang's head, Juri rode her helpless opponent down to embed her face-first into the splintering and cratering bar counter.
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Keeping her balance, Juri casually stepped from Yang's head onto her back and finally down to the floor. Leaning back on the counter herself, she gave the seizing body next to her a approving slap on the shoulder.
"I knew you were a scrapper! Good fight!"
She wasn't lying either. Full of surprises and utterly unyielding, this Yang lady was on her like a fever from start to finish. But, like a fever, she eventually broke.
Juri took a few moments to catch her breath and calm down, then turned her gaze back to the rows of booze.
"Good fight indeed."
Juri shifted on her stool to reach over and pluck another bottle from the pile, then turned back to watch the dancefloor.
Sure, there was no one actually dancing, but the lightshow synced to the clubbing music still made for quite a sight. And if anything, the scars they had inflicted upon the setup while "moshing" only made it better. Really, what would a good scene be without battle damage?
Juri took a swig of the bottle and grimaced. Another dud.
"Here, all yours."
Extending her arm out to the left, Juri emptied out the bottle onto Yang's upturned face.
Juri had pried Yang out of the crater she had made in the counter to flip her over, so that she could have the Strawberry Sunrise she had more than earned tonight. In fact, as far as Juri was concerned, she had earned everything. True to Juri's word the drinks were on the house; but judging by the bottles already strewn about her, and the pool of liquor she bobbed in inside her little crater, the drinks were on Yang.
Yang sputtered and coughed reflexively as yet more alcohol worked its way down her nose and esophagus, her body futilely trying to save it's own sinking ship with mop buckets and sheer determination. When the bottle ran empty Juri pushed it into her gaping mouth, wedging the neck down her throat. Let's see that get bailed out.
As Juri turned back to her pile of drinks, she spotted an object she had almost completely forgot amongst everything else.
Clutching it between thumb and forefinger, Juri plucked up a small, yellow, cocktail parasol. She focused on it, drawing power from her Feng Shui Engine, and it soon alit with violet fire.
"Your umbrella." Juri remarked offhandedly, as she dropped the flaming novelty onto Yang's alcohol-saturated body.
Smirking to herself, Juri sat back and watched her burn.