Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 6: The Head and the Tail
Part 3: School of Hard Knocks (Revision 3)
Part 3: School of Hard Knocks (Revision 3)
lunch. Valiant Team’s Number Two, 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 Godless liberal mudblood! You belong to the Evil Liberal Communist Traitor Conspiracy led by Satan!”
She laughs at him. “Becky, you sound like one of Jack Chick’s most hysterical 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 Three, Rex Corson, tries to ambush her from behind. In one smooth motion she ducks his grab and takes him out with a roundhouse kick.
Number Four, Lance Walker, tries to strangle Chuck the skatepunk girl from behind. Shira lands an elbow smash on his head; he lets go of Chuck, holds his head, howls in pain. “Yo!” taunts Shira. “Murder ain’t not allowed in school!” Lance roars and charges her; she knees his groin and follows with a hard kick to the ribs to send him flying backwards.
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.
“How do you do it?” asks an astonished Polly.
Shira blithely shrugs. “Dojo sim.”
virtual reality. In the “Israeli Commando Assault” simulator, Sagramat 12 simulants rush Shira, Jennifer, and Cory. Shira threads through her attackers, dodges and evades, grabs sims by the arm or leg, tricks them into attacking each other, launches flying kicks to take them out. Her fighting style: Street Capoeira.“If you belong to the Church of America, you’re required to attend fighting classes to learn krav maga from Israeli military instructors. That’s why they’ve got a Tournament. The way they teach it, you fight one, you’ve fought ’em all.”
Cory leaps, flies, and spins on the ground, hits them with what seems to be killer dance moves. His style is classical capoeira.
In the dojo, the virtual instructor attacks Jennifer using any of the various krav maga styles taught by the Church of America. She elegantly dodges, grabs, throws, and counterstrikes. Whenever she finds herself taking a blow, she rewinds the simulation and redoes that particular attack as many times as it takes until she masters the countermoves. Her style: Combat Sambo.
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.
library. Jennifer teaches English to exchange students in one of the study rooms. Harumi is the one who wants Jennifer to help her improve her English, but Seika and Fuyumi attend her first session even though they got excellent grades in English class back in Japan. Seika says, “Before we begin, I have a question.”
Jennifer looks at him, curious. “Mm-hmm?”
“What is this ‘Jesus America’ everybody keeps talking about?” He sits with arms around his cousins across the table from Jennifer.
Jennifer sighs. “Let’s see... The official state religion, called the Church of America, is built around the belief that the American government is the literal Second Coming of Christ.”
Harumi and Fuyumi look at each other and gasp. Fuyumi says, “That’s as weird as any of the weirder ‘new religions’ we have in Japan.”
“But none of the weirder ‘new religions’ had a ghost of a chance of taking over Japan until the Yakuza took over. What the American political and business élite did was take the existing jingoistic civil religion, turn it into a fanatic cult, and use it to take over the country.”
“How did they manage to do that?”
“Before the coup, the élite were panicking over the decline of their beloved Empire. The founders of the Church of America told them there were two surefire cures for imperial decline, dictatorship and itself. The coup made them the quote-unquote ‘Only True Religion,’ not only in America but throughout the Empire. Problem is, they never managed to stop its decline, so they’re panicking as never before. As always, they blame us so-called ‘un-American traitors,’ because we refused to worship the Empire. So now they’re lashing out at us.”
“So why do American schools now have a ‘Tournament’?” asks Seika.
“Oh, they borrowed it from Japan.”
Seika and his cousins look at each other and then at Jennifer. They rolls their eyes. “Figures,” Fuyumi sighs.
period 4. In the same study room, Mimi marvels as she sits across the table from Shira. “You’re my math tutor today? Cool!”
Shira winks. “Hey, that’s what I’m here for.”
“I hope you’re good at math, ’cuz I’m lousy.”
“You good at English?”
“The language of numbers has its own grammar, too. That’s algebra.”
A light comes on in Mimi’s mind. “Ohhh... I never thought of it that way.”
period 6. Shira and Charmian do harder exercises than the rest of the gym class. They compete to see who lasts longest; they’re surprised to find they can keep up with one another and surprise the rest of the students by outlasting them. Charmian glares at the panting students on the sidelines and barks, “Get back here, you wimps!” They whimper and say nothing.
At the end of class, Elsie asks Shira, “Could you stick around in my office after class?”
“I like you.”
Shira grins. “Sure.”
When the last students are gone from the girls’ locker room and the school day ends, Shira says as Elsie strips out of her sweaty gym clothes, “You wanted to speak with me?”
Elsie smiles back at her. “No, Shira, I want to look at you.”
“Well, okay!” Shira quickly strips naked, slam dunks her gym clothes into the hamper, and stands proudly in front of Elsie. They drink in each other’s athletic beauty for a few minutes until Shira suggests, “Let’s get in.” They go to the showers.
Elsie turns on one of the shower nozzles. Shira takes some liquid soap from the next dispenser and lathers Elsie’s smooth white skin with her hands. Elsie starts to protest, but Shira gently shushes her and soaps her entire body. After washing the soap off her body, she washes Elsie’s face and hair, and then kisses her lips.
Shira winks. “Your turn.”
after school. Outside the science lab, Valiant Team are bullying Steve Clare for being one of the brains. Tournament considers smart guys to be as unmanly as gays, and therefore fair game. 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. From now on, he’s under Team Bremelo’s protection.”
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 Steve 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. They would lose face for running away from a Challenge.
Bart turns to Shira. “There. Satisfied? Now you’re gonna have to earn your Team’s right to exist by yourself.”
“I’ll earn it,” says Shira. “But if you’re not joining in, you gotta stand back ’cuz I’m 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. Second-ranking Beck takes center position directly in front of Shira; number three Rex and number four Lance position themselves on his right and left sides; number five John Paine and number six Scott Waters take the outside positions.
Beck leads from the middle. Shira slips between him and Rex 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 Rex 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. Rex 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 Rex 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, Rex 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 Team’s right?”
For an endless moment, Bart says nothing. Finally he says: “Yes. You’ve earned your Team’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 better than us by definition.”
“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 resign yourselves to it. Do what your betters say, or there will be consequences.”
Jennifer unholsters her non-brand phone and presses a button to bring up her contacts list. “I’m afraid you don’t get it, Mr. Principal.”
“We’re talking badly disguised criminal street gangs rampaging all over the school with your administration’s explicit permission and sanction,” says Shira. “Bullying may be highly encouraged by those armchair-general MBAs who own the federal government, but it’s highly illegal here in the State of Cascadia. In fact, bullying is really just the playground name for terrorism.”
Falconer barks, “You two are out of order!”
Jennifer takes off her glasses, 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! [kisses into the microphone] ’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.”
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.
Willa takes off her glasses slowly and drills a chilling glare into Falconer’s eyes. “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 the Law stands behind every action we take. Nothing you can do can change that, for the Law is utterly without mercy.”
Willa takes her phone out of her purse to make a call. “Hello, Angie?”
Another ten minutes later, their lawyer Angela Coyne 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 us, but you can’t play games with the Law.”
“Sorry, but playing with the Law is my business, not yours.” Angela chuckles. “I can’t wait to see what crazy ideas you people have got up your collective sleeve.”
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Copyright © 2011 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
[Revision 3, 10/1/11: Corrected multiple text errors.]