Julia entered the empty fight arena. Gone was the usual spectators, the lighting, everything. An empty stillness hung throughout the place, eerie in its solitude. "Hello?" Julia called out. "I got the invitation, and I'm here. What do you want?" Julia had woken up to a letter on her beside table, telling her to be at the fight pit by 6 PM. No one could have got into her room, so how did the letter get there? A moment later, the door made a noise almost like a sonic boom as it echoed throughout the empty building. Asuka stepped through the door, it closing behind her with another bang. "Julia!" she exclaimed. "What are you doing here?" "I could ask the same of you... did... did you get one of these?" She produced the letter from her denim skirt pocket. "Yeah! I wonder what this is all about?" What this is about, boomed a deep voice over the loudspeaker, is that I have a proposition for the two of you. The voice was unlike any currently at the tournament, even the announcer of the fights. Asuka was at a loss to identify it, but Julia, having been around the tournaments longer, knew immediately who it belonged to. "Ogre!" she called out. "What the hell do you want? I'm not playing your damnable games!" Oh, but you will want to play this game, he replied back. And the stakes are most high. You and your little friend there are going to have a fight, winner take all. "What are you talking about? I'm not going to fight her, she's my friend, and besides, you have absolutely no right or jurisdiction to be making tournament fights." I did not say you were going to fight her. "You said we're going to have a fight." Yes, you will have a fight... as a team. "I told you, I'm not playing your damn games! Who the hell do you want us to fight?" These are the stakes. If you lose this fight, the two of you will join me as my puppets... completely under my control, doing whatever I command you to do. However, should you win the fight, I will free the two under my control I have right now. You will fight them. "Who are they?" Two misty forms began to materialize in the middle of the fighting pit. As they gathered substance, they resembled human forms, but a pale, ghostly blue colour. They took on more and more detail. Finally, they had materialized fully, arms crossed in front of them, hands on shoulders and heads bowed in a meditative form. They opened their eyes, and slowly raised their heads and stood up. Julia and Asuka were struck completely dumb with amazement at the ghostly forms they saw... Tag Battle. Final round. Both team members must be defeated. FIGHT. Julia and Asuka gaped in complete shock. Asuka recovered first. "I... I thought you were dead..." ---------- Post added at 04:08 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:25 AM ---------- The ghostlike forms looked across from them. They said nothing. They looked at each other and began to speak, but only their lips moved. They were not capable of making sound. Julia recovered her wits. "Asuka... Ogre said if we defeat them, we will set them free... we must fight as hard as we can. It was bad enough when I lost her the first time, I cannot and WILL not lose her again!" Asuka nodded. Jun took the middle of the pit, and made a "bring it" motion to Asuka with her hand. Asuka gritted her teeth in determination. If I really have a chance to free Jun, I must fight as hard as possible! Remember, this is only a ghost, not really Jun... I must not let my heart get in the way of this fight! Asuka and Jun circled around the fight pit, the emptiness of the building looming large. Jun struck first, showing her experience, with a quick backhand followed by a spinning kick to Asuka's ribs, which she blocked. Jun glared steely at her, cold and hard. If there were any doubt, it's gone now, thought Asuka. This is definitely not the Jun I knew. Jun tried another kick, which Asuka caught. Asuka resisted the urge to fight emotionally, instead opting to twist around and hook Jun under the knee with a Dragon Screw leg whip. It torqued the knee, and Jun was not prepared for the counterattack. If the appiritions could make sound, the sound would have been her knee cracking like one's knuckles. Jun rolled through and stood up, testing the knee. A little pain, but easily masked. Jun wagged her finger at Asuka as if she were chiding her. Jun tried to catch her off guard with a jumping double kick, which Asuka parried. She pushed Jun backwards by the ankle. Jun rolled back and sprang to her feet. Gone was the mischevious grin, signifying the games were over. Jun spun around and caught Asuka in the side of the head with an elbow, then kneed her in the stomach. Asuka lurched forward, holding her stomach. Jun soccer kicked her in the face, whipping her head back and knocking her to her knees. Asuka shook her head and managed to block the next devastating knee strike. She stood up, holding on to Jun's leg. Jun tried pulling it away, but Asuka held fast. Then she kicked Jun in the back of the knee. Jun flinched in pain. Asuka kicked her again, trying to hyperextend the knee. Jun jumped off the leg she was standing on and tried to round kick Asuka in the head, but Asuka ducked and Jun kept going. This had the very unfortunate repercussion of twisting Jun's captured leg 90 degrees at the knee. There was no sound, but Asuka watched as Jun's kneecap broke and splintered bone stabbed through her leg. Jun grabbed her knee and soundlessly shrieked in pain. Asuka recovered and went to follow up on Jun's knee, but Jun proved why she was as dangerous as they come when she kicked out Asuka's leg, causing her to fall face down. Jun then caught her in a guillotine choke hold. Flexing her arms hard, she began to choke Asuka, but without the ability to hook her legs around Asuka's torso, she could only do so much. Asuka's breathing was restricted, but not cut off entirely, and she managed to pry Jun's arm away just enough to let air get in where she wouldn't pass out. Jun cranked the hold for all she could, the two trying to overpower each other. If she could use her legs in this, it may have been over for me right here, Asuka thought. Jockeying for position, Asuka punched Jun in the kidney. Jun's body reacted with a jump from the shock. Jun bore down harder, leaning backwards, closing off the hold. Now Asuka was choking. Asuka remained calm and landed another kidney punch. Jun could either defend and lose the hold, or keep it and take a beating. Neither one was a great option, but Jun opted to let the hold go, as she did not have the means to lock it in totally. Jun tried to tag out to the other apparition, Michelle Chang, but Asuka cut her off with a stomp to the back. She pulled Jun backwards by her legs, then hooked Jun damaged leg through her own and locked her arms around her face with an STF. It was strange to see a submission hold on someone making no noise, but if she could, her screams would be echoing through the building. Asuka wrenched the hold hard, now letting emotion out when it was safe to do so. "Let her go! Let Jun go! Now! Do it!" Jun refused to submit, so Asuka rolled onto her back, still holding Jun. Now the hold was inverted, with Jun being elevated in the air. "Let my aunt go already!" The ghostly figure continued to defy her. Asuka released the hold, dropping Jun's ghostly doppelganger into a seated position. Asuka got to one knee behind her. Trapping one arm behind the knee she wasn't resting her weight on and the other with a free arm, she began to rain down a hailstorm of elbow smashes. Grief, rage, frustration all poured out of Asuka, for the years Jun had been missing from her life. She put every bit of energy she had into those straight-down elbows. Like a piston, her arm went up and the elbow came down on Jun's face, or shoulder, or chest. She kept up this rapid fire pace for almost a full minute, years of pent up emotion rushing to the forefront and out the opened floodgate. Even after Asuka had exhausted herself, adrenaline and emotion kept the elbows flying. Finally, Asuka slowed, clearly winded and tired, but not done with her emotions yet. She continued to lay in shot after shot, long after the unearthly creation had been knocked unconscious. By the time Asuka finished, she had badly bruised up her own elbow from slamming it into Jun so many times, over 150 in all. Jun's face was a wreck. Her nose was broken, spectral blood oozing from a dozen cuts. It was the same strange pale blue colour as the rest of her, but while it smeared on her, it didn't get on Asuka, and when it dripped off and hit the floor, it disappeared. Finally, exhausted, she dropped Jun's lifeless body to the floor. Jun lay there as Michelle looked on, her hands on her head in surprise. The apparition of Jun then slowly dematerialized. A portal opened up, and the real Jun jumped through it. It closed behind her without a trace. Jun looked around in surprise. "Jun, Jun! It's really you!" She turned to see Asuka, who tagged in Julia as an after thought as she was running past, forcing her exhausted body to continue working just a little while longer. Jun stretched out her arms to embrace Asuka. Asuka reached her and they held each other for a long time. "I can't believe you're still alive! I... I have so much I want to tell you and to ask you and I... I just.." Asuka began to cry. "I missed you so much! Jun and Asuka went back to the fight pit. "Julia. Michelle - your mother - she... she is still alive. She is waiting for you to finish this. We were on the other side of that portal I jumped through, watching. We were cheering you on. She is cheering you on now. She is with you..." Tears welled up in Julia's eyes and streamed down her face. "Mo... mother? Mother is alive?" Jun nodded. "She is waiting for you to free her." Asuka chimed in. "You can do it, Julia! Knock that ghost out of this world!" Julia turned to face the doppelganger of Michelle Chang that faced her. Gone was the air of confidence surrounding the fake Michelle. Julia could see a clear look of fear on her face. "If defeating you will free my mother, then there is no other option! Fight me, ghost! Spirit, apparition, nightmare, whatever you prefer! Or maybe even just... "Michelle". Julia and Michelle stared each other down. Julia had the advantage, she knew off of Michelle's moved, had been trained by her. That didn't stop her from being lost in thought and taking the punch full on in the face that Michelle threw. Michelle followed up with a kick to the head that Julia blocked. Julia held onto Michelle's leg, but Michelle pushed off the leg she was standing on, and kneed Julia in the stomach with it. That caused Julia to let her leg go. Michelle wheeled around and swept Julia's legs out from under her. Julia hit with a thud, and tried to recover, but Michelle's boot pinned her down. Grinning at her, Michelle suddenly dropped to her knees, pinning Julia, sitting on her. Michelle threw punches at Julia, most being blocked, but a couple bouncing off her face and head. Julia pulled her legs up, and crossing them in front of Michelle, snapped them forward suddenly, pushing Michelle off her. Julia brought her legs up again and snapped them forward and up, kicking to her feet. The speed advantage of that was slight, but all she needed, as she caught Michelle in the middle of her recovery, standing up with her back turned. Julia grabbed Michelle by the waist, and quickly popped her hips, throwing Michelle back in a German suplex. Michelle hit hard and rolled backward. Julia tried to press the attack, but Michelle swiped with her arm, knocking Julia off her feet again. She sprang to her feet and jumped as Julia fell. Julia landed and did not have time to move as Michelle stomped down hard onto her stomach and chest. Julia exhaled and coughed hard. Michelle jumped into the air, causing another spike of pain from where she pushed off Julia. Julia barely managed to move her head in time to avoid Michelle's double stomp aimed squarely at her skull. At best, it would have been a grievous injury, more likely to have permanently brain damaged her or killed her. Julia spun her legs in a breakdancing spin borrowed from Christie to get to her feet, but Michelle was there to meet her with a knee to the jaw, knocking her back down to the floor. Julia saw double for a moment as she hit the floor. "Come on, Julia! You can do it!" she heard Asuka say. She drew strength from this encouragement. "Your mother is with you, Julia... she believes in you." For a moment, Julia didn't know who the voice belonged to, but then she remembered Jun had been freed from her prison. "Mother... I... I can't let you down..." Julia dug deep, getting to her feet again. Michelle was standing in front of her, waiting for her to get up. Julia feigned dizziness as she stood. Michelle lined up and threw a kick at Julia's head, like she had hoped. Julia suddenly caught it, and with one quick motion, put Michelle's leg over her shoulder and clamped down around her body with her arms, locking her hands. Michelle looks surprised, with a "deer in the headlights" look. Julia smiled wickedly and arched backward, pushing off with her powerful legs, throwing Michelle hard backwards with a leg capture suplex. Michelle slammed into the floor. Asuka said to Jun "She's done that to me, I know how it feels. It hurts like hell." Jun nodded her assent. "I know. Back in the day, Michelle did that to me. I thought I'd broken my neck." Michelle slowly got to her feet. Julia met her, stalking her as she got up. Michelle stood up, and Julia kicked her in the kidney. Michelle doubled over. Julia hooked up her arms, and then in a display of sheer strength, pushed off with her strong legs again, flinging Michelle with a butterfly suplex. "No matter how many times I watch Julia suplex someone, I can't believe she has the leg strength to pull it off. It's amazing to see every time," Asuka told Jun. "Just like her mother," remarked Jun. Michelle hit the floor hard again. She struggled to get to her knees. Julia loomed over her. Michelle looked up at her, imploring her to reconsider. Michelle could make no sound, but she mouthed words to Julia. "Please don't... I'm your mother." "No", said Julia. "My mother is somewhere on the other end of a portal, watching this happen, waiting for me to beat you and free her. You are not my mother." Julia grabbed Michelle by the hair, and brought her need up into Michelle's face, breaking her nose. Michelle's eyes glazed over. Julia kneed her again. Michelle began to bleed the same spectral type of blood Jun had. Julia kneed her a third time, knocking her over backwards. Michelle lay still on the floor. Julia propped her into a sitting position, and wrapped her legs around Michelle's waist, then hooked her neck in a dragon sleeper choke hold. She arched backward, tightening the hold as hard as she could. Michelle made no noise, but Julia knew the choke hold was working when Michelle's struggles got more and more fierce as her sense of urgency increased. She could do nothing effectual, though, and gradually her struggling lessened more and more, until she had been incapacitated. Julia released the choke but kept the body scissors on her, not like she was able to fight back or get up anyway. With an air of finality, she grasped Michelle by the right shoulder with her left hand and Michelle's jaw with her right. "Mother... come back to me!" Julia called out, then yanked suddenly, snapping the vertebrae of the defeated doppelganger's neck. Michelle stiffened, then went limp and lay unmoving on the floor. Julia got up. Sure enough, the same slow dematerialization process happened with Michelle, then she wisped out of existence. The portal opened up again, and Michelle came through it into the world. Julia grabbed her in a huge hug. "Mother... you're alive." They embraced for a long time. Well, well, family reunions are always so touching. We sure had some fun today though. It was Ogre again. "It's over, Ogre! We won. You've been defeated! Go tuck your tail and get out of here, and don't ever bother any of us again, or we will come directly for you!" As you wish. You have indeed turned me back. Such is the risk of the game. And the voice was silent. "The two of you fought admirably today," Jun said, beaming with pride. "I knew as soon as he posed the challenge that you would prevail." "I wonder," said Asuka thoughtfully, "if we might be able to introduce a tag format to the tournament fights. It could be quite competitive." "One problem with that," said Julia. "Who would team with Lili?" The two of them laughed. "We don't understand." said Michelle. "Believe me, mom, you will immediately after you meet her." "Oh, Jun!" said Asuka. "Jin is at the tournament... I'm pretty sure he would love to see you again." Jun smiled radiantly. "He's here? I cannot wait to see my son again."