Meanwhile, we’ve finally reached the Team Challenge (the final team fight between Teams Bremelo and Valiant, originally in Chapter 19, which was too early). Bart and Leila have nothing left to lose, and Shira has everything to win. As a bonus, we get the final gangster invasion in the School Arc, complete with callback to the post-assembly fight scene in Part 17.4.
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Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 20: Things Fall Apart
Part 5: The Team Challenge
Part 5: The Team Challenge
24 october 2014.
cafeteria. In the center, surrounded by a huge crowd of students, Team Bremelo and Valiant Team face each other, Between them, school Party chief Morton Spiekerman commands, “Choose your fighters!”
Bart Green steps forward to say, “The six top fighters of Valiant Team will fight in order of rank!” Their supporters cheer.
Shira announces, “I’m the champion and team leader of Team Bremelo, so I’m fighting first rank!”
Leila steps forward. “I call a vendetta on Bart Green, so I fight second rank!” She fixes Bart with a glare so hateful it makes him flinch.
Jennifer steps forward. “I’m ranked third. I call Kio Marques, Cory Belmont, and Robert Shelley to complete our side.” The three boys step forward, raise their fists, and kiai in unison. Their supporters cheer.
Spiekerman looks at Shira strangely. “Team... Bremelo.”
She grins. “As in fat ugly bar sluts who prey on drunken sailors in squid bars near base? Uh-huh.”
He stares at her. She smiles ironically. Polly sneaks into his empty office to steal the hair trimmer he uses to trim his buzzcut.
first period. Mr. Smith’s boring lecture lulls Shira, Jennifer, and most of the class nearly to sleep again. Then another terror alert siren sounds. One of the politically correct female teachers promoted to assistant principal drawls, “This is a terror alert! I repeat, this is a terror alert!”
Instead of evacuating, hordes of students race toward the front door to see Team Bremelo facing down a small army of klownz. Gang invasion, sure enough. Shira is laughing at the Killen Jokerz. “I killed your champion last time you crashed the joint, and you still come back? Those ’roids musta emptied your brains!”
Little Badd, defiant as ever, yells, “You ain’t gonna get away with that, stupid bitch! We’re here for revenge!”
The whole crowd of onlookers laughs. Little Badd sputters.
Shira counts her team. “Lessee, me, Leila, Jen, Brandi, Polly, Marina make six, then there’s Rob, Connor, Cory, Kio, yeah. Well, little buddy, that’s six pretty girls and four pretty boys who can wipe the floor with your ugly asses without a sweat. So why don’t y’all put your tails between your legs and beat it before we do?”
“And what if we don’t?!”
“We laugh at y’all some more. Then we trash y’all. Got it?”
Debbie stomps up beside her. She shoots them a killing glare. Slowly but menacingly, she cracks her knuckles.
The Killen Jokerz flee in fear. The crowd of students laugh at them as they leave.
“Make that seven girls,” Debbie says.
“Official?” Shira looks at the team’s girls.
“She needs mat training,” says Jennifer.
Debbie protests, “I can still fight!”
Shira asks, “Are you willing to help us take down your brother?”
“If you give me the chance, I’ll bite his head off!” The others laugh.
“Okay, you’re in.”
Debbie throws herself into Shira’s arms. “Thank you!” Leila stares at her jealously; Jennifer stops her with a short angry look.
Shira’s apartment. Hope calls her daughter by vidphone. “I heard there was another incident at school.”
“Incident? Other than we chased off some gangsters, there’s the Team Challenge. Bart Green’s been dodging it for going on two months, and it’s finally happening.”
“I hope you’re not about to get yourself killed, Shira. I don’t want to have to go through the hell of losing another child.”
“Don’t worry about me, Mom. Bart had it coming. As for his mean girl friends, right now they’re busy stabbing each other in the back.”
cafeteria. The morning and afternoon tutors sit together at the same table for lunch. Bart comes by, grabs Shira’s shoulder, and pinches as hard as she can, making her shriek in pain. She takes his wrist and puts painful pressure on it till his hand comes loose, then pries it backwards till he grimaces as she stands up slowly. She puts her knee into his groin, then sends a roundhouse kick into his jaw, making him stagger back until he falls.
Furiously, Shira yells, “You barbarian! Are you trying to rape me, right before the Challenge, in front of everybody?” She puts her hands to her mouth to amplify her voice and shouts at the top of her lungs, “Bart’s cheating already!”
Debbie runs over to Bart and gleefully shrieks, “How dare you, you cheater!” Jennifer runs into his face, crosses her arms, and shouts, “Some Tournament Leader you are!”
His teammates drag him away before he loses his temper again.
locker room. This time, the girls change in the gym locker room because they feel no more need to hide. Shira, Leila, and Jennifer change into their fighting clothes: the pleated skirts from blue school uniforms, matching blue baby tees with the team insignia printed on the front, the detachable bras and thongs intended for fighting women (and Leila, as usual, refuses to wear anything under her skirt), thick-soled high-top traction shoes meant for fighting in mud (and Leila’s short ninja boots), hard-knuckled fighting gloves, and elbow and knee guards. In the fighting arena, they will wear kickboxers’ padded head protectors. Several of their female supporters take off the tops of their school uniforms and replace them with full-length Team Bremelo T-shirts which they will wear under their jackets.
Leila is unusually calm and smiles in anticipation of the fight. Colette looks at her with concern. “Are you sure you wanna go through with this?”
“You know he might kill you.”
“Then he’ll be a murderer as well as a rapist. He’s already dead, and he knows it. Besides, I’m not afraid to die.”
“You’re attempting suicide again,” says Polly, “aren’t you.”
“That was the antidepressants. This time I can destroy him.”
“You’re gonna kill him, in other words.”
“I told you, he’s already dead. It’s only a matter of time before Perverted Justice catch up to him.”
Colette says, “You know, Leila, you’re the strangest person I’ve ever met.”
“I’ve finally come to accept that myself.”
Polly whispers, “Is it true you ate your own mother’s poop?” The girls who hear her gasp and giggle, except for Shira and Jennifer.
“It felt perfectly innocent at the time.”
“Nothing wrong with a little sexual perversion as long as you share it with someone you love.”
Debbie blurts, “You oughta be ashamed of yourself!”
Leila puts her hands on her hips and glares defiantly at her. “Let me tell you, if I felt guilty about it, I’d still be back in Ireland today, studying to be a nun!”
Debbie mumbles and backs away, but continues to sneak suspicious peeks at her while she changes.
“I’ve never had any problem with sex, really. My problem’s always been love.”
“How so?” asks Colette.
“It starts out fine, with great sex and all. But when they find out how strange I really am, they freak. Sometimes they even die.”
“So how come Shira doesn’t have any problem with it?”
Shira answers, “I’m in love with her weirdness.” She winks at Leila, who winks back.
stadium. Heavy cold rain soaks the turf and softens it into mud. The afternoon sky is dark enough that the floodlights automatically switch on. Lightning briefly lights up the sky; shortly after, thunder rumbles loud.
Massed students form a circle around the fighting arena and take their sides. To the south, nearest the school: Pretty Team, the Student Council, and the Valiant Team support crew. To the north, facing the school: the Team Bremelo irregulars and support crew, the non-Tournament fight clubs, and those Bremeloes not fighting. The Bremeloes have their own team band, with vuvuzelas, berimbas, and several kinds of drums: snare, tom-tom, bass, jembe, doumbek, taiko.
Fighting for Valiant Team, from bottom to top rank: Lance Walker, John Paine, Scotty Waters, Rex Corson, Beck Skeever, and Bart Green. For Team Bremelo: Cory Belmont, Kio Marques, Robert Shelley, Jennifer Blair, Leila Shelley, and Shira Thomas. The boys wear T-shirts and athletic tights. The Valiant Team fighters are shocked to see the girls walk into the arena wearing skirts. Scotty asks Shira, “What’s with the skirts?”
She smirks at him mischievously. “They’re supposed to come off easy. Street fighting technique bounty hunters use.” She winks.
Rob points at the Head Boy, winks and smiles at him to taunt him. Leila fixes him with a sustained death glare to unnerve him. Shira fastens her open-fingertipped fighting gloves and tests out the knuckle guards by punching with one hand into the other and then vice versa.
The crowd’s cheers become so loud no one can be heard when the teams take their positions facing each other. The Bremeloes” vuvuzelas blow; the drummers settle into a cadence in 8/11 time. The wrestling coach serves as referee; everybody thinks he’s paid to cheat, so they expect him to get knocked out by someone on the sidelines. The fighters stick their mouthpieces in; the Bremeloes put their head protectors on. Their side sound a long “Wohhhhhh...” The ref holds the starting gun straight upward and fires.
Bart attacks Rob; Rob rolls between his legs, reverse kicks his tailbone, and laughs. Shira takes on Lance; she dodges, he flails, she hides under his nose, he spins and gets dizzy, she roundhouses him in the temple and knocks him out. The wohs turn to cheers; the drummers pound their drums rapidly. Valiant support drag Lance off; the wohs and the cadence resume.
Cory takes on Johnny and Scotty and holds them off. Leila pummels Beck, then takes on Rex when he comes to save his teammate. Bart and Beck gang up on the bigger and stronger but slower Kio and send him limping out of the arena. Even again.
Jennifer parries Johnny’s kick and sweeps him onto the ground. Cory does a mid-air somersault and lands his feet on Johnny’s head. Valiant support drag him off and wake him back up with Epsom salts, then kick him back in. Shira whirls a spin kick into his jaw, and he flies unconscious into the Valiant side.
While Bart fights his ferocious duel with Rob, Shira and Leila attack him from behind, kicking both his kidneys at once, the run away to fight Rex and Scotty. Cory cartwheels so that he spears Bart in the back with his feet, and Rob throws Bart and lands him hard.
Five on three: the Shelley twins take Beck, Cory and Shira take Rex, Jennifer takes Scotty alone. Rob feints an eye jab to make Beck close his eyes; in that split second, Leila punches his nose to break it, then Rob throws him. Cory and Shira flit around Rex and land blows; Leila and Cory trade off, and Cory leaps onto his hands and thrusts a rising double kick into Beck’s back as he falls. Beck writhes in pain and tries not to scream. Jennifer blocks Scotty’s kick and catches a jab and converts it into a backwards throw. Shira leaps onto his stomach; Scotty grabs it, curls up, and howls in pain. Skirt flying, she slams her butt bare into his face, slams him backwards into the mud; he’s out.
Two Valiants left: Bart and Rex. Jennifer tags out, leaving four Bremeloes. Shira and Cory take Rex; the Shelley twins take Bart. Rob continues to taunt the Head Boy; Leila glares at him with open hatred. Shira gestures Cory to join Jennifer, then laughs at Rex. He rushes her; she dodges and parries, brings her head up into his nose and breaks it, hits him from random directions, somersaults to catch his neck in her thighs and throw him.
Bart rushes Rob again; Leila kicks Bart’s temple, he swats her away, she attacks from the back as the two boys block each other. Rob jabs his eyes and elbow smashes his nose. Leila attacks his kidneys and spine. Bart lands an uppercut on Rob’s jaw, and he stumbles back; he back-kicks Leila away. Then Bart tries to jump Shira; she rolls away so that he lands on Rex’s head. When Bart gets up, Rex is now out. The Bremelo side bang their drums and cheer. One Valiant remaining.
Bart Green, son of a terrorist, seemingly invincible, remains standing. Rob and Cory look at each other, switch position to either side of Bart. He looks at Cory, then at Rob. He spits. They attack.
Two on one: they punch, he parries; they kick, he dodges; they fight with skill, but he is powered by unreason. He reaches out to punch them both away at once.
Leila launches herself feet first at him, strikes the side of his head, knocks him to the ground; seamlessly he rolls back onto his feet. She hammers him with punches and kicks, force of pure hate in every blow, pounds his head with concussion blows — he keeps standing, knocks her down with a right hook. She springs back up, gives him the look of murder. She kicks him in the groin with crushing force; he remains standing, insensible. He grabs her into a bear hug; she slips around and throws him slamming face first into the mud. Exhausted, realizing she can no longer hurt him, Leila rolls away. When he rises up from the mud, the first thing he sees is Shira’s boots. He looks up and sees her: pads on elbows and knees, gloves on her hands—
Nothing else on Shira’s body but mud.
Oliver Thorwald’s taunting words ring in his head — If her clothes come off, you’re fucked! You’ll never beat her in a million years!
The team leaders face off at last. Both their sides raise their voices and horns to deafening levels. Shira signals the drummers to pick up the cadence; they switch time to 7/8. Flash in the sky; again thunder speaks.
The two duellists take their starting positions. Bart takes defense stance, hardens his muscles, draws on the energy of his team, and emits a low growl. Shira dances around, focuses her intensity to laser sharpness, and almost visibly projects her energy out so that her aura ripples like a mirage. The referee gets between them, raises the capgun, and shoots.
Bart unleashes a lightning jab that would stun or knock out any other fighter. Shira dodges inside and hits his jaw with a rising elbow smash. He hits her with a left hook; she spins around and slams him with a roundhouse kick. They both fall. They roll over, face each other, then quickly get up and rest for a few seconds. The drums beat faster.
He punches, kicks, jabs, and grabs air. Shira flits around him like a mad pixie, hammering his head with elbow smashes and quick punches, pricking him to greater fury. He throws harder blows, trying to knock her out in one blow. She flits in front of him, dodging and parrying, till she seems to disappear before everybody. A rising back kick sends him stumbling backwards. By pure will he stabilizes his body onto his feet.
He rushes her. She dodges his tackle. He spins around, catches her in a bear hug, tries to crush her; she rakes his eyes, snaps her head forward to shatter his nose, corkscrews down, slips out of his grasp. Involuntarily he raises his hands to his bleeding face. She grabs his shirt at the shoulders, backflip double kicks him, knocks him flying into the air...
Time seems to slow down as the two hover in mid-air, until Bart lands on his back with a thud and Shira lands on her feet.
Shira stands straight. The ref clasps her right hand and raises it high. She tilts her head back and lets out a blood-curdling ululating Apache war cry.
Polly runs out to her with the hair trimmer. The Bremelo side erupt into Indian war cries, the vuvuzelas wail, the drummers beat BOOM boom boom boom BOOM boom boom boom... Shira holds the trimmer up high, howls, then runs grinning to Bart’s unconscious body and starts shaving all the hair off his head in a mock scalping. War cries turn to howls of triumph, drums thunder, vuvuzelas continue to roar; the Valiant side rush in to save Bart but can’t get through the surrounding wall of Bremeloes till Shira is done, Bart is completely bald, and the Bremeloes retreat.
Shira suddenly finds herself lifted high. Teammates and friends carry the new Tournament Leader like a conquering hero. They lift up Leila, then the rest of the Team Challenge fighters; still cheering, tooting, drumming, they carry them out of the arena, onto the football field, then out of the stadium, running on concentrated adrenaline through the college campus toward Evergreen Park. The defeated side pick up their wounded and slink away.
Before long, the last of the crowd in the fighting arena disperses and the Team Challenge is over.
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Copyright © 2011 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
[Revision 2, 10/5/11: Moved from Chapter 19 of first draft to its proper place here, phone call and second cafeteria scene edited to fit Third Revision continuity, fight sequence expanded and heavily modified. Everything else is new material.]