Folks, NNin has posted the details for his new zako, the lovely Nurse Mercenary. If you haven't seen it, check her out here to see the inspiration for this story (and a nice pic of the nurse herself). I swear, all we need now is a video game series featuring Petals fighting these costume-fetish mercenaries :D The images here are supplied by NNin and drawn by his talented artist. At any rate, please enjoy. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Petal Lang straddles the intruder on the ground, one hand closed on her neck, the other holding her sword ready. Her captive Nurse Mercenary struggles but cannot escape her pin, her arms trapped underneath the Petal's legs. "Wait, d-don't," rasps the nurse, unable to talk clearly with Lang pressing on her throat. She tries to plead further, but all she can do is cough dryly. Lang is not interested; she lays her ornate sword underneath her chin and ends the nurse's resistance with a mercifully quick slice. The intruder lies still, lifeless. Lang dismounts her body, wiping the blade then sheathing her sword. Taking quick note of her surroundings, she sees no other immediate threats. Her companion, Petal Hui, had left to deal with her own nurse intruder. It seems Petal Team's latest employer was right about the danger of this assignment. Through a contract between Bai Bi and Fu Han Laboratories, several Petals were dispatched to guard the lab's latest technology. Not even Lang was privy to the nature of the technology, but it was strongly implied that their latest development carries the potential for bio-weapon applications. Because of this sensitive fact, it is in Fu Han's best interest to keep the government out of the loop and rely on mercenary involvement to protect his intellectual secrets. Bai Bi's experienced and versatile Petals were a natural choice. Unfortunately for Fu Han, the details of his project were leaked to a number of mercenary groups. His medical research has caught the eye of a mysterious Nurse Mercenary team, whose leader and true intentions are unknown. One thing is clear: in the past month, nearly all instances of infiltrated hospitals and stolen medical technology across the country has involved these lethal nurses, and no one has been able to counter their stealth tactics or their expert fighting skill-until now. The Nurse Mercenaries have chosen today to raid the facility and steal its valuable research data, but Petal Team has suppressed their efforts so far. The sudden whirr of an electronic door in the distance snaps Lang to attention. She rushes down a nearby corridor and finds a test room door left ajar. After a cursory glance inside, she calmly slips through the doorway, strafing along the wall while searching for signs of another intruder. In the corner, she spies another nurse, this one attempting to break through security protocols at a computer terminal. Her hair is styled in an exotic bob, the bangs a straight V-line at her forehead. From the nurse's cap to the white heels and the tight-fitting uniform in-between, everything about her screams "sexy nurse," but Lang knows there is something more deadly to her. Petal Lang unholsters her gun, but in the small moment it takes to arm herself, the nurse silently vanishes behind a nearby desk. Lang tightens her grip; she is not about to let the nurse escape. After a moment of tension, she finds a chance when her nurse's cap peeks above the desk's rim. Sharpening her aim, the Chinese sentry fires two shots toward the nurse, but she tumbles from the desk to a nearby chemical station. Smart use of cover, thinks Lang. The station is cluttered with vials and beakers of unknown agents-whether dangerous or not, she cannot determine-and so she must fire carefully. Keeping low, Lang tries to sidestep around for a better vantage point. Without warning, the electronic door shuts on its own. Lang turns her head for just a moment- -and in that split-second, a syringe flies through the air, striking the barrel of her pistol and shattering on contact. Lang drops her gun; the syringe's acidic agent has splashed onto her weapon, corroding it almost instantly. She looks across the room and sees the Nurse Mercenary stand from her cover, her eyes oddly serene. "You are skilled," says Lang, unsheathing her Chinese sword. "Hm." The nurse's expression is veiled, a white surgical mask covering most of her face. Only her intense eyes remain visible, gazing at Lang, calculating. She slips a hand behind her body and takes out a small tool from the stocking strap on her leg. Slyly, she palms the instrument, hiding it from her Petal opponent. Simultaneously, the two engage each other. Lang lunges forth, elegantly thrusting with her blade, but the nurse neatly steps to the side. Undeterred, she stabs once, twice more, her sword a relentless piston of metal as the Nurse Mercenary dances around its edge. On the Petal's fifth stroke, the nurse sharply gasps-her sword cuts off a strip of her clothing, a thin line of blood forming just underneath her chest. "But not skilled enough," says Petal Lang, affording herself a grin. She switches her approach, attacking the nurse with a couplet of side-slashes to catch her off-guard. To her surprise, the nurse reads her movement, evading the blade and countering by driving her hand forward with surgical precision. Lang raises her free arm to block the attack, but instead of an expected palm strike, something sharp digs into her wrist, slicing off her armband and drawing blood. Lang steps back and sees a scalpel hidden in the nurse's grip. Instead of pride, the nurse's eyes flash with confusion. She looks down at the remains of Lang's crimson armband, then at her wrist, which seems to have suffered only a minor cut. "How intriguing," she says softly, her head cocked in interest. Feeding on her curiosity, the nurse surges forth with alarming speed, eager to strike another blow. Lang senses the nurse's sudden fanaticism and readies her sword in defense. Each time the nurse jabs forth with her scalpel, Lang parries the strike and counters with a swipe of her own to keep her at bay. Three times they exchange steel, until the nurse's fourth advance penetrates Lang's guard; her scalpel tears off a shred of cloth just below her neck. Yet again, only a small cut forms on Lang's skin where a critical gash should have been. Taking advantage of the nurse's slight hesitation, Lang delivers a cross slash that rips through her white stocking and nicks her leg. Unhinged by the sudden blow, the nurse brandishes her scalpel to deflect the next sword stroke, but Lang fools her with a quick kick. "Too slow!" cries the Chinese sentry. Her heel connects with the nurse's wrist, knocking the scalpel from her grasp and scattering it across the room. Unarmed, the nurse backs away, left with nothing to defend herself. Her sharp eyes carry a hint of fear as Lang senses her opportunity. With unrivaled speed, the Petal surges forth, her blade a mere flash as she delivers a lightning-fast slash to finish her off . . . . . . but the tip of Lang's sword only grazes her cheek, cutting off the straps of her mask. The white cloth drifts to the ground, revealing the nurse's face. Her devilish smile unnerves Lang. "Satisfied, Petal?" says the nurse, gently touching her bare chin with a gloved finger. "I'm surprised it took you so long to get serious." Petal Lang grits her teeth and slashes again, but the nurse coolly leans out of the way. Despite her disadvantage, the nurse seems to be acting faster. "My, my." The Nurse Mercenary crosses her arms, oddly casual. "I expected better from a Petal." What?! The flippant comment gives Lang pause, but before she can respond, the nurse kicks the hilt of her sword and disarms her. The blade clatters in the distance. Furious, Lang ignores it and lays into the nurse with her fists. The two trade blows, Lang's hand-to-hand combat proving superior as her flexible movements, swift punches, and acrobatic kicks drain the nurse's stamina. The nurse's martial prowess is also impressive, but none of her strikes seem to faze the Petal. A heavy punch to the shoulder, ignored . . . Two hard kicks that fail to sweep the Petal's legs . . . A solid hit against her cheek that has no effect . . . She notices once more the slight cuts on Lang's wrist and below her neck, cuts which should have been grievous wounds by her scalpel. She cannot understand why her opponent is so resistant. Lang senses the nurse's languishing morale through her silence and understands why; Petals carry a hidden advantage. Her body is covered by an invisible layer of protection: chi armor. By focusing her will, Petal Lang may manipulate her chi to harden her skin, diminishing the impact of physical force. Heavy blows become weak, and even bullets may be deflected. Emboldened, Lang assumes the offensive as the two continue their fight. Each time the nurse lands a punch or kick, Lang merely shrugs it off. Meanwhile, her own attacks against the nurse are steadily wearing her down. Her options dwindling, the nurse relies on a surprise maneuver: a lethal blow to quickly end the battle. Subtly pulling out small forceps from her uniform, she jumps forward with blinding speed and stabs with their sharpened points. To her surprise, Lang grabs her wrist mid-thrust, stopping the attack cold. "Is this what you expected?" challenges Lang. Not waiting for a response, she painfully twists her arm, forcing the nurse to drop the forceps. She takes a moment to savor the look of shock on her opponent, then follows with a quick sequence of kicks against her undefended body. One arm held by the Petal, the nurse cannot block the assault deftly enough with her free hand. She helplessly takes Lang's feet to her side and belly. Suddenly, Lang turns her loose, only to punish her with an explosive kick to the chest that knocks her to the ground. She hits the floor with an unintended yelp. The Nurse Mercenary steadily pulls herself back to her feet, taking stock of her desperate situation. She is unable to break the Petal's seemingly invincible defense, and it is only a matter of time before she succumbs from her repeated attacks. Her only chance is a change in tactics; if she remains defensive, she may find a better time to attack or run. Keeping distance from the aggressive Petal, she waits for an opening. When Lang misses with a wide kick, the nurse sees an opportunity to counter with an attack to the solar plexus. She sinks her fist deep into her gut. "Haaaah . . ." Expecting her punch to glance off her chi armor, Petal Lang instead has the wind knocked out of her. She staggers backward, nearly doubling-over. Somehow, the blow to her belly drove deeper than anything else. However, what seems to affect Lang most of all is the growing smile on the nurse's face. Confidence renewed, the Nurse Mercenary realizes she may have her own advantage: knowledge of anatomy. Expertise in medicine and physiology allows her to act as a field medic, but an understanding of the body comes with an understanding of its weaknesses. The body carries natural pressure points which can be exploited to immobilize muscles, break vulnerable joints, disrupt proper oxygenation of the body, or even hinder blood flow. Her Petal opponent seemed to respond to an anatomical attack . . . would it work a second time? The nurse approaches Lang and tries a low kick to her inner thigh, targeting a specific pressure point. Not expecting such a strange maneuver, Lang fails to block the blow, and the nurse's heel strikes her leg in a precise spot. The effect is instantaneous; her leg buckles from the sharp tension on her nerve, and the Petal is forced to her knees. Lang looks up, mouth open in shock at the nurse's deft manipulation of her own body. Arms on her hips, the Nurse Mercenary taunts Lang. "I see your skin is hard, but your inside is soft . . ." Lang scrambles to her feet. The nurse seems to have discovered a weakness, one that even Petal Lang does not fully understand. She cannot afford to fight casually. Narrowing her eyes, she runs toward the nurse and unleashes her signature move: a flurry of rapid-fire kicks across her body. Some kicks are blocked, but most hit their mark-the nurse can't seem to stop the onslaught. Ending her salvo with a powerful spin kick that knocks the nurse back, Lang takes a deep breath to compose herself. "Don't underestimate me." "Hm," replies the nurse. "You are strong . . . I'll just have to wring that strength out of your body!" Before Lang can react, she bounds forward and delivers a crushing punch just underneath her rib cage. Lang immediately begins coughing, as the impact to her vitals makes it difficult for her to breathe. "I will wear you down, Petal. You won't be able to stand after I've stolen your very breath." I need to finish her right now! thinks Lang, rushing to her opponent. Just before reaching her, she bounds into the air, extending her leg in a perfectly-executed flying kick. The nurse, expecting a ground maneuver, is taken by surprise and suffers the full force of Lang's kick to the face. Even after attempts to slow her down, fortitude carries Lang through as she follows up with a quick series of punches and strikes. However, with each successive swing, her attacks feel less precise, less sharp. The last few hits she suffered took much more out of her than she expected, a dull, internal pain hindering her movements. Sensing the Petal's exertion, the nurse finds a break to interrupt her and exploit her weakness. Amid the rain of blows, she begins her specialized attack. A precise blow to the chin dazes the Petal, nearly causing her to black out from the sudden cranial pressure. Before she can recover, the nurse strafes behind her and delivers a side-arm chop to the back of her head. It hits just the right spot, jarring her brain and causing her to lose her balance. Lang falls to her hands and knees, and the nurse kicks her vulnerable belly, the tip of her foot plunging deep and impacting her kidney. Each of the nurse's anatomy attacks saps her chi, weakening her. Suffering three pressure point injuries in immediate succession, Lang slumps to the ground, finding it strangely difficult to keep focus. "What's wrong, Petal?" The nurse taps her chin and leans forward, carefully examining Lang's disabled body. "Having trouble breathing?" Her anatomy-based assault is working; the Petal sentry is losing her speed, her blood flow unsettled. Lang slowly stands, glaring at her opponent while trying to catch her breath. Her movements feel rigid, and the pulsing pain within her body makes it challenging to maintain concentration. When the two begin the fight anew, the Nurse Mercenary makes the first move, abruptly unleashing a thrust kick to the neck. Her reactions slowed, Lang fails to dodge, and the nurse's heel sinks into her throat, crushing her windpipe. Lang's jaw drops in tune with the impact. She staggers backward, bringing her hands up to her choking neck and desperately coughing. It takes her some time to recover and compose herself. All the while, the nurse gleefully watches her strain with her own breathing. "Come here, Petal. I can take care of you," says the nurse in a soft, mocking voice. Her devilish smile turns into a sadistic grin as she motions to the nearby desk. "I'll need my patient to lie down . . ." "Enough!" The fiery Chinese girl dashes toward the nurse and leaps for a second flying kick. The nurse sees something notably different in her this time: a certain stiffness or fatigue, the effect of each pressure point strike taking its toll. As Lang's foot sails through the air, the nurse parries the move and counters with her own roundhouse kick. Her chi armor diminished, Lang's body takes the brunt of the attack. The nurse's kick sends her crashing against the desk, and she tumbles to the ground, winded. "Well, that'll do." She approaches her face-down body and-before the Chinese girl can recover-sits on her back to keep her down. The nurse feels Lang try to push her off, still spirited in her struggle. But the nurse has other ideas . . . She wraps her right leg around Lang's prone head, trapping her neck between her thigh and lower leg. The vice-like pressure begins to suffocate her, quickly disrupting her chi. Even at this disadvantage, Lang's valiant determination shows; her arms grasp at the nurse to try and wrestle her off. "Hold still," scolds the nurse. "This won't hurt." She takes hold of Lang's flailing arm and twists it viciously, locking it over her head. "Augh! S-Stop . . ." cries Lang, her voice breaking away. The nurse is expertly applying the arm hold, slowly crushing her vulnerable shoulder joint. "It's all over for you," says the nurse triumphantly. Her merciless twisting of Lang's joint sends waves of debilitating pain bolting through her body. It's not over, thinks Lang. Hui can save me . . . But with each passing second, the prospect of her Petal companion coming to her rescue feels slimmer and slimmer. To her horror, the nurse lets out a quick laugh in the middle of her torture. "Take a deep breath, Petal. Time to finish the procedure." And with those words, the Nurse Mercenary twists Lang's arm beyond its limits. "Eeeyaaahhh!" At the apex of Petal Lang's scream, her arm can take no more. The nurse destroys her shoulder joint, breaking her arm and rendering her helpless. Silently crying, Lang has no resistance left to offer. With a cruel gaze, the nurse lets go of her broken arm and pats her head. "There, there. I'll make it better." The nurse produces a syringe, giving the needle a light flick. Petal Lang turns wide-eyed upon seeing the poison-filled instrument. "N-No, please don't-mmmph-" The nurse uses a gloved hand to cover Lang's mouth and stifle her voice while positioning the syringe over her neck. "This might pinch . . ." She drives the needle into her skin, injecting its poison into Lang's body. Lang tries to shake free, but as the drug takes hold, her struggles slowly fade and her protest becomes nothing more than a whimper. "Shh . . ." whispers the nurse, stroking her face. She climbs off her body, standing up to watch the Petal's final seconds of twitching panic. Arms crossed, the mercenary softly bites her lip in anticipation until Lang's shuddering body finally goes still, eyes frozen wide. Turning her body over, the nurse pats her down, searching, until she finds a keycard hidden in a small fold within her qipao. She steals the card, then scans it at the nearby terminal, disabling all remaining security checkpoints. Before leaving the room, she notices the Petal's disarmed sword across the room. Retrieving the girl's former weapon, the Nurse Mercenary breaks into a dash, heading deeper into the facility. The technology she seeks is nearby, ripe for the picking, and her new Petal souvenir will give her next opponent a rude surprise . . .