Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 21: High School Banned
Part 5: The Endless Struggle
Part 5: The Endless Struggle
29 october 2014.
Karen’s house. Members and friends of the Richter-Thomas family gather at the house of Karen Kubota and her parents, Eiji Kubota and Reva Richter-Thomas. Eiji is short and charming; Karen got her genki temperament from him. Reva is tall, elegant, and beautiful like her younger and less rockin’ siblings; her long hair is black and silver. Karen’s older sister Saffron Sakura Kubota takes more after her father in appearance and temperament; the brothers between them, Sage and Shin, are more like their mother. They are a Buddhist family who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo; the altar (butsudan) in which they have enshrined their family Gohonzon is magnificent.
One of Karen’s lifelong goals is to convert Shira to Buddhism so they can chant together side by side. However, Shira is indifferent to things spiritual, though that has never stopped Karen. But Karen is still being held at the squalid, fascistic Bangor Jail where she was taken after Fleer’s murder. In their sovereign narcissism, the Fearsome Foursome somehow blame her for his death; in their twisted logic, they have concluded that the way to punish Shira is through her. Colette, Karen’s best friend, blames herself for what’s happening to Karen. convinces Shira to chant for her, at least this once.
Out of their love for Karen, Shira and her sisters Charlie and Desiree chant together with her family; out of love for Shira, the Shelley twins join her, despite their memory of their ninjutsu sensei in Japan, a yamabushi priest of the Shingon school Nichiren famously hated, constantly mocking the Nichiren Buddhists. Since he became Karen’s boyfriend, Dexter Conway has become single-minded in his practice for her sake; his sheer determination inspires everyone.
Present but not chanting: Willa Richter-Thomas, her wife and younger daughter Jennifer, her son Connor, and her older daughter Alex de Lacey and her husband Nick Cyphers; Reva’s oldest son, Wally Breydon, and his beautiful black-haired wife Shadow Angel; Shira’s oldest sister, Ruby Shears, and her young daughter-wife Elle; cousins Clover, Courtney, and Schuyler Richter-Thomas; and the Shelley twins’ redheaded sister Fiona.
After gongyo, everybody takes a seat in the vast living room and the family meeting begins. The subject is Karen. As the Japanese Buddhist women’s division members bring in the food theyve prepared, Reva opens the meeting. “Welcome, everybody! I wish it didn’t take an emergency like this to get us all together again. But Karen needs us. We have to stick together for her sake.” Cheers answer her.
Next to Reva, Dexter stands up, shaking with spiritual fire and absolute determination. (Schuyler: “Wow, he’s changed!” Shira: “Karen changed him.”) “This has been so hard on us. But we refuse to give up. We can’t give up! Karen would never give up. I know she’s not giving up! She’s fighting for us, so let’s fight for her! Karen, I love you so much! I don’t know what I’d do without you anymore. I’m chanting and chanting that you’ll be free again and not come to any harm.” He’s greeted by even more enthusiastic cheers.
Colette’s turn. “Damn, Dex, I couldn”t have said it better myself.” She wipes away a stubborn tear. “I just want you guys to know, and I’m sure she’ll say the same thing, that we don’t intend to give up this fight. No matter how much they try to break our unity, we’re holding the rally, no matter what. And if Karen can’t make it, we’ll do it for her!” More cheers for her announcement, followed by a team chant: “Fight! Fight! Fight!”
Shira stands up, whistles to signal silence, and declares, “Karen will be free tonight!” Several of the others gasp and ooh. “I know the gang that kidnapped her, and they got her to get at me. They’re about to blow the Bangor Jail up to spring several of their goons. Team Spanner are sending a rescue mission to free all the political prisoners. She’ll be home by the time this meeting is over!”
Bangor Jail. In the criminal wing, Valiant Team sit on their bunks, too excited to sleep. Beck promised his teammates that his gangster brothers would come to free them. Silently they wait.
Among the criminals, Karen Kubota has developed a superstitious aura. They have come to believe that harm comes to people who harm her. Big Al Fleer himself, the most frighteningly violent of the Fearsome Foursome, harmed her, and now he is dead. If such a fate could come to a man they themselves fear, they know it can visit them too. Unknown to the Skeever Brothers or Team Valiant, some of the most hardened of them have silently vowed to help her escape.
In the political wing, Karen chants along with five women she has inspired with her determination, her refusal to give up, and her infectious cheerfulness. Her reputation has spread among the imprisoned pacifists that Fleer and his torturers have beaten into submission and despair. She refused to break even when the monstrous Big Al Fleer himself tortured and tried to rape her. Fleer tried to destroy her, only to end up destroying himself. Karen herself said that Fleer entered into a reverse relationship with the Dharma and is now destined to become a Buddha without fail; the other prisoners took it as a joke until she reminded them that in Chapter 12 of the Lotus Sutra, Śakyamuni Buddha himself proclaimed that his mortal enemy Devadatta would become a Buddha himself, a prophecy fullfilled at the moment King Aśoka achieved enlightenment.
Outside the jail, the Skeever Brothers aim their rocket launchers at the jail. They have inside men among the guards. When the Skeevers blow a hole in the walls, the guards will open the cells and shepherd the criminals through. They intend to spring their kid brother and his fight club, now suspended from school pending conviction; Rex Corson’s big brother Vince, who got their brother locked up here in the first place; and Oliver Thorwald, the gang’s money man, held here for not murder but dogfighting.
Five Slasher Hunters spy on the Skeever Brothers. Lars Izquierdo mans the command center in the van. Martin Lansky prepares to blow a hole of his own in the jail walls if they find it necessary. Brandi Quinn and Arisa Saionji will help evacuate the political prisoners. John Peck will destroy anyone, cop or criminal, who gets in their way.
They have an inside man within the political wings interrogation center. Right now, Sparks awaits while Peck, disguised as a guard, brings Karen out to him. In the room with him are Russky gang moll Irina Lanskaya and a thief named Elizabeth McPhail. By the time Peck brings Karen, Liz has told Sparks about the rumor that Frank Becket has put a contract out on his father, the CEO of COPCO. Peck smiles; Shira spread that rumor through him.
Karen does not smile, yet she is radiant. Hours of chanting have developed in her a powerful spiritual aura. Sparks says, “Please sit down.” Peck slides out the empty chair between Irina and Lizzy so Karen can sit in it. “You wanna know something,” he explains, “I’ve studied some Buddhism on my own, not your kind probably, but still. And one thing that struck me is, well, the Buddha got in trouble by proclaiming the emptiness of God, or śūnyatā. In other words, he said there’s no need for a supreme being. The Brahmins didn’t like that one bit, and the mullahs of Allah like it even less. Turns out the same thing goes for the State. The State is nothing less than man playing God. And God is empty — śūnya. That means the State, our modern substitute for the Supreme Being, is just as empty.”
Karen goes, “Huh?”
Sparks leans forward toward Karen. “We’re gonna get you outta here.”
The black man dressed as a guard says, “I’m John Peck of the Slasher Hunters, one of Shira’s friends. Admiral Fleer, the man who tried to murder you, is dead.”
The Skeevers launch a barrage of rockets and mortars at the jail. The alarm sounds. Guards working for the Skeever gang shoot other guards, most of them belonging to rival gangs. All the locked doors unlock and open. Peck gets out his phone to call Brandi and Arisa. “Do it. Now.”
Sparks barks, “Let’s go!” He takes out his pistol, takes Karen by the hand, and leads the way out. Irina and Liz follow, with Peck behind them. They join a growing crowd of political prisoners that Brandi and Arisa are ushering out, away from the Skeever op.
The Skeever gang take guns from fallen guards and turn them against rival gangsters and random convicts. They get their freed warriors out of the jail building and herd them into military transports the late Johnny-Johnny Johnson had stolen for them and stashed on Thorwald’s property. Johnny demands, “Where the fuck’s Johnny-Johnny?”
“He’s dead,” Thorwald snarls. “Shira Thomas is my faithless Intended’s new girlfriend, and she smothered him to death with her big ass.”
“What the fuck?!”
Big Geordie tosses Thorwald into a transport. Johnny gestures Tony to come with him and leaves to get their brother and his fight club.
Karen, Lizzy, and Irina help the Hunters evacuate the political prisoners. When the last of them are out, they turn and see the Valiants coming toward them. Beck squeals, “Karen!” He runs to her, falls to his knees, puts his arms around her, and sobs.
Bart, shocked, begs him, “Beck, get hold of yourself. You’re a man, not a little girl!”
Johnny Skeever shoves him out of the way. He takes out his Luger, holds it sideways, points it at Karen. He snarls malevolently. Sparks points his steady Beretta at Johnny.
“If you harm her, Johnny, you’ll die,” warns Sparks calmly. “That’s what happened to Admiral Fleer himself. He harmed her, and now he’s dead. The same thing’ll happen to you too, Johnny.”
“Please don’t do it, Johnny,” Beck begs.
“What the fuck are you, Roger?” demands Johnny. “You turnin’ faggot on me?”
Sparks stares deep into Johnny’s eyes without blinking. “Don’t you see it, Johnny? She’s projecting a Reality Distortion Field, just like Rebel Styles. She’s invincible, Johnny. You can’t kill her. Shoot her, and you’ll only kill yourself.”
Johnny feels a hand violently shake his shoulder. He turns to see a look of mad terror on Tony’s face. Voice shaking, Tony says, “He’s right, Johnny! We don’t wanna end up like Big Al!”
“Jesus fuckin’ America!” says Johnny, annoyed. “You too, Tony?” He glares back at Karen, then at J.T. “Fuuuuuck.” He holsters his gun and leaves the others behind. Tony runs after him like a dog with its tail between its legs. Bart stares after them. Sparks puts his gun back in its shoulder holster.
“Well?” says Sparks to Bart.
Brandi says, “If you follow ’em, you’ll never be welcome at school again.”
“Good for you,” snarls Vince. He leaves to join the gang.
Rex, Scotty, John, and Lance stare at Bart. He realizes that any decision he makes will be theirs as well. He stares at Karen.
“Well?” demands J.T.
Bart walks up to Karen. He looks her over as if she were a strange and exotic alien lifeform. He says, “I gotta figure you out. You and that crazy cousin o’ yours.” Karen beams at him.
The Slasher Hunters lead Liz, Irina, and the last of the politicals out. Sparks, Karen, and Beck follow behind. Bart follows her; the rest of Valiant Team follow him.
Karen’s house. The Richter-Thomases are happy to be together, but they continue to worry about Karen. Shira’s prediction weighs on their minds. Shira winks at Shin and says, “I’m not predicting, Shin-chan. I’m in on the rescue.”
Someone knocks on the door. Everyone falls silent. Shira rushes to answer it. She opens the door.
The two girls squeal in absolute joy. Shira pulls her in, pulls her into a tight embrace, dances and hops, kisses her all over her face and hard on the lips before the ecstatic crowd pull Karen away from her. The Slasher Hunters and Sparks politely enter the house and introduce themselves to Shira and Karen’s family.
Liz says to Shira, “You’ve got a nice family here.”
Shira smiles. “I love ’em all to pieces.”
“My family’s all starving or dead.”
“Aww.” Shira hugs Lizzy.
Irina taps Shira on the shoulder and stares at her strangely. Shira sends Liz on to meet her family and faces Irina with a curious look.
“I know you,” says Irina.
Shira crosses her arms and smiles ironically at the deliciously slutty young Russian. “Well, who am I?”
Irina grins. “You used to be competition.”
“I want get together.”
Irina feels someone’s eyes burn on her skin. She turns to see Leila staring at her jealously, her arms crossed tight. She looks back at Shira, worried.
Shira smiles. “If you’re willing to share.” She winks at Leila. Leila sighs.
Irina throws herself into Shira’s arms and gives her a hard sweet kiss. Leila reluctantly embraces both of them. She caresses Irina’s shapely buttock. Irina breaks her kiss, smiles happily at Leila, and kisses her too.
Minuteman barracks. Braddock Green tortures his son Bart. Stan and three other brothers hold Bart as his father beats him and beats him. “You’re supposed to be a man, not a girl!” whack! “You’re supposed to master women, not be their slave!” whack! whack! “Woman is the Devil!” whack!
Barton Green swallows all the emotions he felt tonight, swallows his humanity, makes himself the monster his father forced him to be, does not whimper. For now and forever, he is his father’s slave.
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Copyright © 2011 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
[Revision 2, 10/11/11: Mostly taken intact from the first draft, but edited to fit Third Revision continuity.]