Monday, November 22, 2010

Spanner Chapter 6: Fight for the Right

One more chapter written during JulNoWriMo ’10 and containing four scenes that originated as scripted manga scenarios in my Project Notebooks from the early Noughts (Notebooks 11 through 14): the bus, the principal’s office, the five-on-one brawl, the girls’ locker room. I changed those scenes somewhat from the early scripts to refine them and put them in their proper place in the plot, but otherwise they remain fundamentally the same as I when I scripted almost a decade ago. All the other scenes are new.

There’s much more fighting here than in previous chapters (though there’s lots of bombs in Chapter 3), mainly because Shira has multiple run-ins with head boy Bart and his Tournament fighters. As far back as the Nineties I wanted to throw lots of fight scenes into the Spanner manga, and they would have looked too cool for words. However, right now I’m stuck with words, so I guess I’ll have to deal for now...

The title is a pun. Bonus points to those who get it.

...from previous

Chaos Angel Spanner — Book 1: Rock City Blues
Chapter 5: Fight for the Right

I have just talked to God and he is a gay pro-abortion atheist.
Now prove that statement false.

Baron von Knifty

3 September 2014
the bus.
Shira and Jennifer take the city bus to school from the downtown waterfront condo Shira shares with her mother, Hope Reston, where Jennifer’s own mother and wife, Willa Richter-Thomas, dropped her off. They sit together in the seat in front of the back door, a seat few other people in their predicament would have had the courage to take. Shira owns the window seat. She is nervous about the decision she will announce to her enemies today; knowing this, Willa and Jennifer made extra special love to her before the two young women left. Jennifer holds her hand firmly and smiles at her.

A small group of people get off at the post office stop just outside the downtown core. Jennifer sees an opportunity; she gets out of her seat, kisses Shira, and walks up to the front of the bus to ask the driver a question and update her schedules. She does not see Dorian Fleer get on behind her.

Dorian scans the bus to look for an empty seat. She finds three. But she ignores them once she spots Shira in the most visible seat on the bus. She gives her a big happy smile and rapidly walks up to her seat and sits down.

Shira is puzzled to find Dorian Fleer sitting next to her, smiling and blushing. She must actually like me. Then Dorian asks her exactly the wrong question:

“Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?”

Cue game-show buzzers and loud gong.

Shira narrows her eyes and spies Dorian suspiciously. Dorian’s smile disappears; she blushes deeper, but sweats nervously. She realizes at that moment that she has innocently done the worst possible thing. Shira underscores her realization when she says:

“Is this a loyalty oath?”

Paralyzed by embarrassment, Dorian can’t get herself to get up until Jennifer leans close, loudly clears her throat, and flashes her a sweet, sweet smile that says Get away from my girlfriend, bitch. Dorian gets up, carefully tiptoes around Jennifer, and hastens to an empty seat up front.

As if to claim her trophy, Jennifer plants a kiss on Shira’s lips as soon as she sits down. The two girls ignore the tuts and “ews” from more prudish passengers. Until...

Offended by the sight, a long-bearded passenger across the aisle from Dorian’s new seat stands up, holds up a detonator, and screams the Shahada at the top of his lungs. Hmmm, thinks Shira. A Caliphate agent...

Shira throws her backpack at him, nearly knocking him over. “Yo! Jew-eating devil dog!

The Islamic terrorist spins to face her, his already hardened face contorted into absolute ugliness by holy hatred. Shira stands up slowly. Her hard smile says: You know this means war.

“He’s not about to get pwned by a girl,” whispers Jennifer, grinning.

Shira winks at her. “Yes he is.” She stares into the terrorist’s eyes and contorts her face into an evil-looking glare, one eye narrow and the other wide open.

The terrorist screams in mortal terror. The Evil Eye—

Shira keeps her glare hard, fixing the terrorist with it, keeping him screaming until he drops below the seat in an attempt to hide. She leaps past Jennifer, whips out her Droid Mega, and jumps down to his seat. She glares down at him with the same uneven-eyed “evil” expression, fixing him with terror while she takes picture after picture with the phone’s camera and assaults him with flash after flash after flash; his screams get weaker and weaker until finally they are replaced by a hideous gargle sound and he is dead.

The driver leads the relieved passengers in a standing ovation.

Dorian, though, remains scared. “Y-you’ve got the evil eye?

Shira flashes her mischievous cockeyed smile at her. “Aw, c’mon, Dorian, I learned it from a comic book.” She leans down to kiss Dorian on the cheek.

at school. Shira announces her decision to the horrified Bart and Charmian, then goes to the cafeteria where her friends are assembling before homeroom. As she strolls away, Charmian turns to Bart and pleads, “Bart, what are we going to do?

Bart paces back and forth in thinly disguised panic. “Call an emergency meeting,” he growls. “It’s a moral emergency. We gotta find a way to stop ’em. If that mudblood slut thinks she can fight us on basic moral principles, she better have a team to back ’er, ’cuz we’re gonna give ’er a real beatin’.”

“And if your Valiant Team fails, will my Pretty Team have to clean up your mess again?

Bart snarls. “Girls cannot do a man’s job. We will not fail!

Charmian glares at him skeptically. After a pause, she says, “Very well. But don’t come begging to me if you lose.” She flounces off.

Bart summons his Tournament fighters. Ten of them come. “Atten-tion!

The fighters stand rigidly in formation. “Yes Sir!

“Valiant Team!”


“Emergency meeting in Student Council quarters! Be there or be gay!”

“Yes sir!” They run off toward the Student Council boardroom. Bart, feeling no need to hurry, walks after them.

While Shira watches the Tournament Leaders leave, Mimi’s friend Nancy shocks her with a hard slap. “How dare you!” Then she storms off, leaving Shira confused. Mimi arrives too late to stop Nancy.

“So what was that all about, Mimi?”

Worry is written all over Mimi’s face as she answers, “Shira, you kissed Rob Shelley.”

Shira looks narrow-eyed in the direction Nancy ran off. “She thinks I’m stealing her boyfriend, doesn’t she.”

Mimi sighs. “Nancy and I have been Rob Shelley fangirls since he first got famous back in Pretty City...”

“So it’s about Rob?”

On the verge of tears, Mimi says, “He’s totally gorgeous, and if he’s famous, millions of obsessed fangirls want to be his one and only. But now he’s actually here! I’m too scared to even say hi. But Nancy... I’ve actually seen fangirls go over the edge, but I never thought my best friend would be one of ’em...” She throws herself into Shira’s arms and cries. “Shira, I’m so scared for Nancy. She’ll kill somebody, or she’ll get killed...”

Shira holds her tight and lets her cry until a few of her worried friends run up so they can hug her. She says hi to them and continues back toward her cousins and their circle. In turn, she hugs and kisses Courtney, Schuyler, and Karen; then she and Jennifer throw themselves into each other’s arms and give each other an extra long kiss, suddenly interrupted when a flying backpack hits them.

They turn in the direction the backpack came from and see Charmian’s cousin, chief enforcer, and Second, Deborah Becket, glaring at them, arms angrily crossed. “Girls shouldn’t be making out with each other,” growls Debbie, “especially in public.”

Slowly and threateningly, Shira approaches Debbie with a seductive smile. She reaches out to touch her bare forearm. Debbie flinches back in panic. Shira purrs, “Jealous?”

Debbie stares back uncomprehendingly. Then she angrily harrumphs, and runs in the exact same direction Nancy did.

Jennifer, annoyed, comments, “I think she really is jealous.”

Shira smirks wickedly in the direction Debbie left. “I think I can do something with that.”

homeroom. Karen’s clique, as the circle surrounding Team Bremelo is already coming to be known, arrives in Dave Whitmer’s classroom in one group. Karen brings her cousins Shira, Jennifer, Courtney, and Schuyler; along with them come Mimi, Nancy, Cory, Kio, Seika, and Harumi. The Shelley twins enter a short time later. By the time the homeroom period bell rings, the class is full. He directs everyone to sit in alphabetical order, even the tutors.

Mr. Whitmer says, “Welcome, students, to our first homeroom class of the year. For those who aren’t already in one of my classes, I’m David Whitmer. I teach logic, philosophy, and Advanced Placement classes. You’ll see that several of you are wearing black or yellow uniforms. These are the college students of high school age who are taking part in the high school’s new tutor program. They’re here because I’m their advisor.

“I’m sure many of the rest of you belong to many subcultures not allowed to form school clubs. I can’t be your advisor, then, though I and many others would be willing. Be that as it may, you’re in the right place. You’ll get no trouble from me.” Some students laugh, amused; others sigh and cheer, relieved.

He continues: “Now, I’d like to introduce the tutors. Will you please come to the front?” All the girls in yellow and boys in black stand up and walk to the front. Many female eyes go wide when they spot the Shelley twins. Mr. Whitmer directs them to stand in front of his desk. “Now will you introduce yourselves? First and last names.”

Shira, on the left, goes first. “Hi! I’m Shira Thomas.”

“Jennifer Richter-Thomas. I’m Shira’s cousin.”

“Connor Blair. I’m Jennifer’s brother.”

“Courtney Richter-Thomas,” (points thumb at the three to her left) “cousin to those three.”

One boy interrupts, “So how come one family gets to be all the tutors?”

Jennifer replies, “Homeschooling. After all, our parents tend to be out on world tours and often don’t have access to schools, public or private.”

Mr. Whitmer resumes the introductions. “And you are?”

“Oh, I’m Dorian Fleer.”

“Leila Shelley.”

“Robert Shelley.”

When the Shelley twins say their names, several girls let out a deafening squee, Harumi and Nancy most loudly. Harumi leaps up and squeals, “You the Shelley twins from Pretty City?”

Another girl demands, “So how come you two aren’t still in Pretty City?”

“It’s only pretty on the outside,” answers Leila scornfully.

“It’s a great place to look at,” Rob half-jokes, “but working there is pure hell.”

“Eventually you have to let ’em put you under the knife, and then you’re theirs for life, or until they throw you away.”

“We couldn’t live like that. So we decided to take the risk and come up north.” The Cool Girls go “awww” in disappointment, but most of the girls squeal in delight that the twins are now here with them. Nancy faints onto her desk. The boys (and a few of the girls) stare in awe at Leila; she enjoys their attention.

Mr. Whitmer laughs. “You’re all more interesting than I thought. At first I assumed you were just too smart for high school but too young for college. I never realized there would be adventure in your life stories. Already I like you!”

student council room. Bart, Charmian, and the rest of the Student Council decide to skip homeroom to hold a meeting to discuss what they call a “moral emergency.” Bart brings his Tournament team; Charmian brings her sisters, her cousin Debbie, and their team’s enforcers. All are present when the homeroom period bell rings. Charmian bangs her gavel to call the meeting to order, and all fall silent.

“We’re here instead of in our respective homerooms because we’re now being faced with a Moral Emergency. Remember that repulsive liberal ‘Gay-Straight Alliance’ we thought we’d done away with? It seems our adorable head cheerleader and her cousins have decided to start it back up again. And they’re backing their decision with a new Team they just now formed just to fight against us. They’ve even convinced our mutual cousins to join their jihad against the basic principles of morality itself.”

“They’re spitting in the eyes of Jesus America!” spits Bart. “They named their Team after a repulsive whore! As leader of Valiant Team, I call a Team Challenge on their mudblood liberal leaders, and especially that filthy slut Shira Thomas! Get her!

Bob Brinkman, senior class president, stands up to his full 6′6″ height. “Not so fast, Bart.”

His sister, council secretary Rachel Brinkman, stands up beside him, crosses her arms, and peers over her cat’s eye glasses skeptically. “Yeah, Bart. We went through this before last year, remember?”

“Remember what Clover did to Vince and Scotty here when they tried to double Challenge her?”

“And remember what happened to Eugene Bean last year when he tried to rape Minty? I doubt he’ll ever recover from that kick she delivered him.”

Silence! I’ll hear none of it!” Bart snaps his fingers and commands his fighters, “Ignore them! I give the orders, and what I say goes! Get that mudblood bitch!

Valiant Team salute their commander like soldiers. “Yes Sir!” They rush out the door to track Shira down.

Bob and Rachel sit down in unison. “Here we go again,” says Rachel.

hallways. Number 2 Beck Skeever tries to force Shira to fight. “Champion of Team Bremelo! I call Gang Rules!

Shira smiles at him contemptuously over her shoulder. “Cut the baka, Becky. Everybody knows I don’t do gang.”

Beck points at her and spits hysterically, “You are gang, you stupid filthy mudblood! You belong to the Evil Sodomite Conspiracy led by Satan!”

She laughs at him. “Becky, you sound like one of Jack Chick’s lamest tracts!”

He screams and launches himself at her. “Don’t call me Becky, you bitch!” She grabs his hard right thrust and jujitsu-throws him hard onto his back without difficulty. She looks down at him as he gasps for breath. Just a kickboxer. Figures.

“Baka Becky,” she says as she kicks his head to knock him out. Shira looks to the side and finds Brandi Quinn watching her once again.

Number 3 Vince Corson tries to ambush her from behind. In one smooth motion she ducks his grab and takes him out with a roundhouse kick.

Number 4 Lance Walker tries to strangle Chuck the skatepunk grrrl to death from behind. Shira lands an elbow smash on his head; he lets go of Chuck, holds his head, howls in pain. “Yo!” taunts Shira. “No murders in the hall on my watch!” Lance roars and charges her; she knees his groin then sends him flying backward with a hard kick to the ribs.

Dexter tries to dissuade her from fighting the Tournament Leaders. “Shira, don’t do this. You’re scarin’ me, girl.”

Shira kisses him. “Aw, don’t worry about me. I own their style.” She winks.

After she puts her hard-knuckled fighting gloves on, she easily defeats eight Krav Maga and five Military Haganah stylists while showing off her exotic Street Capoeira. She owns the Israeli fighting styles.

“How do you do it?” asks an astonished Polly.

Shira blithely shrugs. “The way they teach ’em in the Church of America, you fight one, you’ve fought ’em all.”

Head Boy Bart Green does not Challenge her. Gang Rules do not apply to the Tournament Champion; he has earned the right to refuse any challenge. Having refused to fight for Standing, Shira has not. Not yet. But still, Bart does not Challenge her.

As Team Bremelo’s designated Champion, Shira takes on all Challenges. Cory backs her up in case she she gets hurt; the other “Bremeloes” watch out for any Valiant Team fighters who try to take out any of their nonfighter friends while she’s fighting. Brandi scouts her, keeping careful to stay out of Challenge range. After lunch, the Challenges get fewer until by sixth period there are none. Even the higher-ranked Valiant Team fighters are scared of her now; they know they’ll lose.

But still she hasn’t won the GSA’s right to exist. The Tournament is not done with her yet. There’s one more big fight to go.

After school, outside the science lab, Valiant Team are bullying Steve Clare, one of the brains. It isn’t just gays the Tournament can’t tolerate. Shira stomps up behind Bart. None of the bullies notice, not even Bart — until she yells:

Stop raping him, you fag rapers!

The fighters all turn around, shocked at the insult. Two of them gasp. Bart demands: “What the hell did you call us!”

Shira grins evilly. “A bunch of self-hating closet cases in such deep denial that you have to prove your alleged manhood by raping boys, that’s what.”

Bart roars, “Is this a Challenge?

“Damn right it is, Bart. And your Tournament gives me the Gang Rules to force it on you. Unless you let my friend go.”

Beck begs, “Bart, you can’t let her Gang Rule us!”

“Let him go, Skeever.” barks Bart.

His goons gasp in unison, “What?”

“I said, let that girl-ass faggot go!

Shira gathers up the school materials the bullies scattered around the hallway and helps Pete stuff them into his backpack. Then he runs as fast as he can out of the school building. The bullies don’t chase him down.

Bart turns to Shira. “You satisfied now, Thomas?”

“Good boy,” says Shira. “You just earned the right to dodge this Challenge if you want. But I’m still Challenging your bully boys here. All of ’em. But you gotta stand back, ’cause I’m gonna be sending bodies a-flyin’.”

“Very well. I think I’m gonna watch.” He leaves the scene and stands in the science lab doorway. He does not notice Brandi watching them from a niche down the hall.

Five fighters throw themselves at Shira. Number them by rank:
  1. Beck Skeever
  2. Vince Corson
  3. Lance Walker
  4. John Paine
  5. Scotty Waters
Beck leads from the middle. Shira slips between him and Vince to his left. Suddenly they find nobody in front of them. They look around in confusion before they realize she’s behind them, crossing her arms, looking at them contemptuously. “No wonder you guys lost the Tournament.”

Bart does not laugh. He simply watches.

Beck, outraged, points and shakes his finger at Shira. “You ain’t pullin’ none of your stupid tricks on us, bitch!” The other four rush her. She dances around them. Scotty throws a nasty uppercut and Shira pulls Beck into his fist. Lance throws a right hook and Shira pushes Vince into it. She jumps up and double kicks Lance and Johnny in the face, sending them falling backwards. The four get up and violently shake their heads till coherence returns to their minds.

Beck jabs at Shira’s sternum; she dodges and parries. He grabs her upper right arm; she punches him in the shoulder. They trade a series of kicks and blocks back and forth. Vince grabs Shira from behind; she uses him as leverage for a double stomp kick into Beck's chest, sending him back. She puts her feet hard on the ground and uses the momentum to throw Vince while he’s still holding her, landing on top of him.

Lance high-kicks at Shira’s face; she drops low, hooks his ankle with her foot, and draws her leg back, tripping him. John and Scotty attack her from both sides; she slams their heads into each other, knocking them out. Two down. She roundhouse-kicks Lance: three down.

Knowing he can’t kick Shira, Vince jabs at her throat. She catches his arm, knees him in the groin, and kicks him in the chin; he stumbles backwards till he hits a wall. Beck thrusts and jabs, Shira dodges and weaves; he tries several different kinds of kicks, but she blocks them all. In frustration, he roars and runs at her, trying to ram her with his head. She spins and kicks, landing a perfect blow on his jaw. He spins around and lands with a thud. Beck, dizzy with pain, drops to one knee and holds up his hands: the Tournament gesture of surrender.

Bart still watches, his grim expression unchanged. Shira walks over to the door to face him.

“Well, Bart?” she says. “Have I earned my club’s right?”

For an endless moment, Bart says nothing. Finally he says: “Yes. You’ve earned your club’s right.”

“That’s all I wanted. Thanks.”

“No thanks to you!” he yells. “So the Tournament can’t stop you. But Jesus America will!

principal’s office. Once again, Shira and Jennifer stand cross-armed before the always patronizing Principal Dean Principal and the always angry Vice Principal Honey Sue Falconer. Sternly the Principal says, “Young ladies, I’m afraid you’re coming too close to pushing things too far this time.

“Yeah, let ourselves and all our friends get beat up,” says Shira scornfully. “Just because our tormentors are defined as better than us.”

“And take all the blows your pet bullyboys pound us with like properly submissive little girls,” adds Jennifer.

The Principal wags his finger. “I will not take any more guff from you young ladies. You have to know your place and stand in it. Do what your betters say, or there will be consequences.”

Jennifer unholsters her BlackBerry. “I’m afraid you don’t get it, Mr. Principal.”

“We’re talking badly disguised street gangs rampaging all over the school with your administration’s explicit permission and sanction,” says Shira. “Bullying may be highly encouraged by the armchair generals in the Imperial Confederate government, but it’s highly illegal here in the State of Cascadia. In fact, bullying is the playground name for terrorism.”

Falconer barks, “You two are out of order!”

Jennifer stares defiantly at the Major and says nothing. Shira says to her, “Push it. Call her.” Jennifer presses the “talk” button on her phone, then puts it to her ear. Principal and Falconer look at each other.

“Hi. Mom? It’s me... Shira and I need you. Now... okay... yeah... right!... We’re here waiting for you. Love ya! *kiss* ’Bye!” She lowers the phone down from her ear and presses the “end” button. She smiles at the Principal and Vice Principal. “My mother’s coming. She’ll be here in just a few minutes.”

The Principal interrupts Falconer before she begins to shout. “We would love to speak with your mother. We are patient. We can wait.”

Shira and Jennifer trade looks but don’t talk. Principal and Falconer remain still and say nothing. Ten minutes later, Jennifer’s mother arrives. Willa Richter-Thomas is every bit as tall, blond, and beautiful as her daughter, but much more formidable. She looks strikingly professional in dark beige sleeveless coatdress, knee-high lace-up brown leather boots, and rectangular geek glasses. Both Jennifer and Shira throw themselves into her embrace. She kisses first Jennifer and then Shira on the lips. She silently signals them to return to their previous positions, then turns to Principal and Falconer. “My daughter tells me she’s having some kind of trouble concerning you. Is this true?”

“She and her friend are in trouble, yes.”

“Her cousin.”

Principal and Falconer look at Shira strangely, then Jennifer, then Shira again, then Willa, and finally at each other. Then they say to Willa, “Oh.”

Willa continues. “I should add, Mr. Principal and Ms. Falconer—”

“That’s Major Falconer!” snaps the Vice Principal.

“From what I hear, Major, you’re no longer an active duty Marine, so as far as I’m concerned you’re Ms. Falconer. Anyway, my daughter has been telling me that she and Shira, among others, have run afoul of your designated favorites enough that you’ve been considering some kind of legal action. What I was trying to say, Ms. Falconer, is that your policies may be less than legal, to say the least. In other words, the trouble is not ours, but yours.”

The Principal says, “I’m afraid you don’t get it, Mrs. Thomas.”

“That’s Miss Richter-Thomas. And I get it all too well. But I see that you don’t, and won’t. I can rightly call you clueless.”

“I’m afraid we have the imperial law of the Confederacy behind every action we take. Nothing you can do can change that.”

“Try me.”

“Your move.”

Willa takes her Nexus 6 out of her purse to make a call. “Hello, Angie?”

Another ten minutes later, Angela Coyne, Willa’s redheaded lawyer (and Shira’s cousin on her mother’s side), arrives. Willa, Jennifer, and Shira greet her with hugs and kisses, annoying the administrators. Falconer screeches, “Will you people stop that? Are you lesbian or something? You’re driving me nuts!

Angela slams a thick stack of legal paper onto the desk, in front of the Principal. “I hear you people are giving my clients some serious trouble. Now tell your people to lay off, or trouble will be yours. Got me?”

The Principal stares at her open-mouthed. Vice Principal Falconer glares at her with her mouth shut tight. His smirk is strained when he finally pulls himself together to say, “Miss Coyne, you can play all the tricks you want on the law, but you can’t play games with Jesus America.”

Angela chuckles. “I can’t wait to see what you people have got up your collective sleeve.”

4 September 2014
Shira stares open-mouthed through the big window at the crowd gathering outside just for her. “Holy Poe’s Law, Batman!”

Now it seems all the Shepherds of the Church of America, all named AMERICA! (all caps, exclamation point), have congregated outside Bremerton High, completely surrounding it in hordes, to pray in unison for God to strike Shira Thomas dead and her “Evil Sodomite” friends along with her.

Christian Fleer complains to her bitterly, “I bet you think this is funny.”

“Bet, Christie darlin’? It is.”

Her sister Dorian is clearly disturbed by Shira’s blithe nonresponse to the pastors’ mass death prayer. “Shira, yesterday morning you killed that terrorist just by looking at him. How can you not be affected by millions of prayers for your death?”

“Didn’t I tell you I learned it from a comic book? I learned from another comic book that criminals are cowardly and superstitious. Batman should know. That terrorist? I could kill him with a silly look ’cuz he put absolute faith in the ‘Evil Eye.’ They can’t do the came thing to me ’cuz I’ve got no faith.”

“Just don’t do anything like that to them, Shira. Please don’t.”

“Oh, I don’t intend to. They can make themselves look silly without any help from me.”

Satisfied that God’s work will be done and blissfully ignorant of their powerlessness, the army of Shepherds dissipates by the time the bell rings to signal lunch.

hallway. During the lunch hour, trouble of a more mundane kind comes when several huge Samoan gangsters invade the school. They home in on one black kid, Trey Phelan, in order to beat him up in retaliation for his gambler father’s inability to pay off his debts to their mob. Shira maneuvers Trey into a corner of the lunchroom and stands in front of him, blocking the gangsters.

The leader gets in Shira’s face and barks, “Get the fuck out of our way, bitch! We gotta teach this punk’s daddy a lesson!"

Shira is unmoved. “I’m afraid Deuce Phelan’s too brain-damaged to learn any more lessons. You’re doing this for absolutely nothing. Just ask those guys behind you.”

Beck Skeever, Vince Corson, Lance Walker, John Paine, and Scotty Waters are standing behind the wall of gangsters, still hurting from yesterday’s brawl. Beck says, “You wanna all take her on? We did just yesterday, and she kicked all our asses.”

Vince says, “He’s right. She woulda beat our Champion too if he joined in.”

The gang leader snarls, “You white boys ain’t nothin’!”

“We’re MMA. You guys are just plain big. We can wipe the floor with you, and she whupped us. You guys wanna put your lives in your hands, then go ahead and fight the leader of Team Bremelo. We’ll bet money she’s gonna take y’all down.”

Gangsters and fighters stare each other down. The gang leader glares at Shira. She smiles. Silently, he gestures for his gang to leave. They walk away, stopping at the front door to glare back threateningly. Then they leave. Trey puts his arms around Shira, collapses onto her back, and lets out a massive sigh of relief.

Valiant Team glare back at Shira. She smiles ironically. Not wanting to risk their lives again, they scurry away.

last period and after. Miss Currie dedicates gym class today entirely to exercise. Shira and Charmian are surprised to find they can keep up with one another. Charmian glares at her as if to tell her to stay in her place. Shira retaliates by silently flirting with her. Their already intense rivalry scares the other students.

In the girls’ locker room, Charmian decides to let the other girls shower, or choose not to shower and leave for home early, so she can take off her clothes and shower alone without having to worry about any lesbians leering at her like men and making her feel uncomfortable, and especially Shira. She told Miss Currie, so the teacher leaves her alone. Elsie leaves for home without looking at Charmian. But what neither of them know is that not only has Shira not left, she hasn’t even bothered to put her clothes back on either. Shira hides in the darkest spaces in the locker room where she can see Charmian. If necessary, she will hide right in front of her, where normal people would be fully visible.

When her body is liberated at last from all the pretentious regalia she burdens it with, Charmian is a sleek pale beauty. Confident that she is safe, she walks casually to the shower, picks the closest one (the one Shira normally uses), and turns it on. Warm water feels good on hot skin. She soaps her skin with her hands (the same way Shira does) to wash the drying sweat off her skin. She turns around, back and forth, to wash the soap off her body. She takes her time washing the long waves of her blond hair. At last, she shuts off the shower nozzle, moves her hair away from her face, and searches for a towel.

She feels for the softest clean towel she can find. Once she finds it and takes it out of the towel bin, she dries herself while she walks back toward her locker. When she gets there, she dries her skin off thoroughly, then puts it around her hair and takes as long as she feels she needs to dry it. She puts the towel on the bench, takes her brush off it, and brushes her long hair until it takes the shape she wants. She reaches into the locker, takes out her clothes, and places them neatly on the bench beside the towel and hair brush. She doesn’t notice Shira sneak in behind her.

Suddenly, Shira grabs Charmian from behind, holds her against her own naked body, grasps her breasts firmly with her hands. Charmian gasps and stiffens up in sudden terror. Seductively, Shira purrs, “Charmian darling, do you realize just how beautiful you are?”

Charmian screams. She struggles to escape Shira’s embrace. When Shira lets go, Charmian spins to slap her hard on the cheek. She dresses as fast as she can and flees the locker room in haste. Shira dresses herself casually, then takes her time leaving.

Mimi meets her at the door. Noticing the red slap mark on Shira’s face, she touches her cheek. “Shira, what happened to you?”

Shira smiles ironically. “Love tap.”

“Did you do anything to Charmian?”

Shira gently puts her finger to Mimi’s lips and says, “If I tell you, I’ll have to kill you.” She winks.

Down the hall, Shira hears Polly scream. She looks in the direction of the scream to find Debbie carrying her over her shoulder. Polly desperately screams and sobs and struggles to escape. Shira races after them.

When Debbie hears Shira’s footsteps, she quickly turns around to face her and then bodyslams Polly onto the hall’s hard floor. Fortunately, Polly knows from her judo training to breathe when she hits the floor. Debbie snarls, “That one’s for Charmian!” Then she points at Shira. “Fight me, you bitch, or I’ll beat up your witch!”

Shira grabs Polly by the hand, lifts her up, pulls her behind her, and gestures her to run. As Polly runs toward the front door, Shira turns back to Debbie, crosses her arms, flashes a mischievous smirk, and says, “No.”

“What? You a coward?

Shira laughs. “Sorry, I’m just not in the mood, so don’t bother Challenging me. I won’t accept.”

Debbie stares at her, eyes wide open in amazement. “You ain’t even accepting an Answer Challenge?”


Debbie stares for several more seconds. She wonders why she can’t get herself to fight Shira, until she realizes that right now Shira completely lacks fighting aura. Thoroughly confused, she turns and walks away.

Behind her, she hears another female voice. “You’re good. Real good.” London. East End.

Brandi Quinn.

Shira spins to face her. Brandi is smiling. I think she likes me, Shira thinks. She grins and winks. “Hey. I’m the best.”

Interlude: The Tournament
25 August 2014

The Tournament. It was established after the coup by the leaders of the Cartel. It is intended to embody the Social Darwinist principles the United Corporations was established upon, by choosing through martial arts excellence the strongest boys to lead their schools. All schools in the EuroAmerican Union are required by law to hold a Tournament. The winner is declared Head Boy; his word is law. The Cartel does not like to permit pockets of freedom that potentially threaten its control.

It was soon discovered that the Tournament provided an ideal means of gang control. So special rules were established and forced upon all the criminal and terrorist syndicates within the boundaries of the EuroAmerican Union. Above all, no gangster or terrorist is permitted to turn down a fight challenge. Join a gang, and you are automatically entered into the Tournament.

At Bremerton High, this is the final ranking established in the Tournament:
  1. Barton Green
  2. R. Becket Skeever
  3. Vincent Corson
  4. Lance Walker
  5. John Paine
  6. Scotty Waters
By the rules of the Tournament, they become one Team with a hierarchical order based on their ranking in the fights. They constitute the second level of command in the school after the administration.

1 September 2014
Tournament Champion Barton Green is crowned Head Boy for Bremerton High School in a formal ceremony. Everybody calls this ceremony a “coronation” because its purpose is to invest the new leader with what amounts to the power of an absolute monarch. Several students who do not attend the ceremony are already plotting his overthrow.

But Shira Thomas is there, and she immediately spreads the rumor that the Head Boy’s sovereign freedom allows him to rape anyone under his jurisdiction, even boys, “like a Catholic priest.” She doesn’t mention Barton Green by name, only his rank. This accusation will hover over Barton Green’s head like a black cloud for as long as he remains Head Boy. Bart doesn’t realize it yet, but Shira will prove to be an enemy more dangerous than any foe he’ll ever fight in the Tournament.

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Copyright © 2010 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
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[Revision 1.1, 11/22/10: Restored a few omitted passages; corrected one continuity error, two formatting errors, and typos.]
[Revision 1.2, 11/27/10: New layout for the entire series, plus text and continuity corrections.]
[Revision 1.2.1, 11/30/10: Bad HTML corrected.]
[Revision 1.2.2, 12/4/10: Text revisions.]
[Revision 1.2.3, 12/7/10: Character revision (Willa's phone now has a brand name).]

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