Saturday, August 18, 2012

Spanner 6.3 R4: Throw the Gauntlet

...from previous

Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 6: Teenage Wasteland
Part 3: Throw the Gauntlet (Final Revision)

weight room. When the pool was built, the athletes got their own weight room. This is not the one.

The fighters of Team Bremelo pair up and attack the weights. Colette was no fighter, no match for a Blade Knight. Whoever sent Bernkastel after her and Karen—Ross, Brinkman, or worse—will surely send more and worse, so they need keep prepared. They push their muscles to the limit and say nothing.

They stretch afterward. Martial artists must be as limber as gymnasts. They help each other stretch out the pain and tension. Only big Kio doesn’t join them; that’s not his style. He wanders out in a daze, still half expecting to see Colette in the hallway.

They head off to the showers and say nothing. They understand each other enough that right now they do not need words. They will get the chance to speak out soon enough.

lunch. As soon as he spots Shira, Team Valiant’s Number Two, Beck Skeever, tries to force her 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!” He tries to tackle her, but she knees his sternum to knock out his breath and unleashes a roundhouse to knock him down. She looks down at him as he dizzily writhes. Just a wrestler. 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.

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.
“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.”

“Now you’re really scarin’ me.”

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. Shira was not allowed to fight for Ranking, so she has not. Not yet. Still, Bart does not Challenge her.

locker room. Half the girls cover themselves in their towels and try to sneak to the showers, terrified of showing their bodies. Some of them refuse to shower at all; they change from their gym clothes into their school uniforms as fast as they can and desperately pray to Jesus America that no one can see their underwear. Shira strips naked and strides nonchalantly into the showers. The hidden girls are horrified to see her smooth shaved body; they assault her with cries of “slut,” “whore,” and “EWWW!” She snaps, “Shut the hell up, you prissy prudes! What do you think this is, a madrassa?” Some gasp at the slur, some squeak. They stare at her like a freak.

Polly asks, “What’s gotten into them?”

Shira chuckles. “Seems nakedness got attached to their incest taboo.” Polly rolls her eyes and groans.

When Kelly sees Leila put on her skirt without wearing any panties, she stomps over and demands, “Shelley! Why won’t you wear any panties?”

Leila calmly replies, “I can’t. My skin’s too sensitive.”

“That’s no reason!”

Shira, still naked, slaps Kelly’s skirted butt, making her flinch. “I don’t think she likes self-torture as much as you do, Kelly.”

Offended and disgusted, Kelly huffs off.

Shira and Jennifer look at each other, then at Leila. They grin at each other conspiratorially and dash to their lockers. Instead of putting their underwear on, they stash it in their backpacks and put their clothes on without it. The mean girls gasp and run out to spread malicious gossip.

Polly’s face is red with worry. “Uh, isn’t that against the rules?”

Shira grins mischievously. “We live dangerously.”

Jennifer adds, “You never know when we’ll need to fight.” They wink in unison. Polly blushes redder.

student council room. Charmian assembles the Student Council and Team Valiant to the council room for an emergency meeting. “Report!” she demands.

Rachel, the council secretary, stands up. Beck rushes in front of her and blurts, “That bitch and her team humiliated us! We’ll get—” She pushes him out of the way and clears her throat.

“First of all,” Rachel intones, “we’ve had a small invasion of worthless yet belligerent celebrity kids, starting with my Eurotrash cousins. But they’re not the first nor the worst.”

Charmian declares, “Shira Thomas is the worst. Her mother is Hope Reston, the union leader [she sneers the words]. Her cousin is Angela Coyne, the lawyer, who keeps dragging SPEC into court to try and force it to kowtow to the mooching parasites we fought our Revolution against.”

“And if that wasn’t enough,” adds Lucy, “she’s got cousins attending, too.”

Debbie yells, “Who died and made Karen Kubota our head cheerleader?”

“You mean three-time Cheerleader Magazine cover girl Karen Kubota?” sneers Rachel. “There would have been a national scandal had we rejected her.”

“There will be anyway,“ Charmian says, “if Coach Mobley ever gets his hands on her.”

“Then there’s Jennifer Blair.”

Lucy gasps. “Did you hear about her?”

Kelly sings, “She’s not wearing her underwear, she’s not wearing her underwear.”

“We’d better be careful with Blair,” Charmian warns. She stares at Bart. “After what she pulled on Blake Island this last summer...” Bart glares back and says nothing.

Hidden in an out-of-the-way corner where they cannot see her, Brandi texts her report.

lecture room. Jennifer pulls in three boys and Leila. She turns to stare down Scotty and Beck. “You can fight me now, if you want me to wipe the floor with you.”

“You’re just a girl,” Beck sneers.

“That’s why girls beat you up, Becky. Goodbye, losers.” She slams the door in their faces.

Inside, Sana asks her, “Why do those idiots keep taunting you like that?”

“They think beating up girls makes ’em manly,” she says bitterly. “It’s not like they’re taunting an angry lioness, noooo.”

Harumi side-hugs her. “They think beating up smart people make ’em smart.”

“Darling, they don’t have brains.” She kisses Harumi’s cheek.

As she takes Leila’s hand, Harumi taps her shoulder and points at the blackboard, covered with complicated equations. “What you try to prove?”

Jennifer winks. “E equals MC Hammer.” She takes the pointer off the desk and taps the lower right corner, where it says, “{and then a miracle occurs} = DEATH RAY!!!” The whole club laugh.

Suddenly Christina bursts in with two sneering yes-girls. One says, “Ew, look at the ugly geeks.”

The other says, “Geeks are ugly. Ew.”

To the shock of the entire club, Jennifer suddenly strips naked except for her shoes, ankle socks, and glasses. Her body is tall, slender, athletic. She walks over to the intruders, puts her hands on her hips, and stares at them with her head impatiently cocked. “You think this isn’t beautiful?” She turns around to shake and slap her pretty butt; the female club members squeak. “This isn’t pretty?” She gets into Christina’s face and stares down at her. “If you can’t see what’s before your eyes, you’ve got no brain.”

Intimidated, Christina says, “Let’s get outta here.” She flees the room, and her yes-girls follow, slamming the door behind them.

Jennifer kisses Leila and ushers her to a seat. She takes off her shoes and socks and tosses them on her clothes, removes her beret so her long blond hair falls free, then places her glasses on the desk. Completely nude, she stands before the shocked club members, arms out. “Look carefully. What you see before you is me: everything I am and will ever be.” She lowers her arms, pointing at her body. “I am my body and my body is me. Sure, I’m as flawed as anybody else, I suffer, I’ve hurt people, I’ll only live so long. But I accept what I am. I don’t have to bloat my ego just to like myself, and they hate me for it.”

Steve, wide-eyed, asks, “So what’s your point?”

She spins to swipe the long pointer off the desk and props it behind her neck. “Wanna know the deep dark secret behind Egoism? It’s not just that they wanna live forever. They wanna escape their bodies.” She swings it up and around. “They build up their egos so huge ’cos they hope they can magically turn ’em into real ghosts. Why? So they can become all-powerful gods.” She points it at the club. “Gods don’t need bodies. Bodies get hurt, sick, eventually die.” Finally she rests it on her shoulder. “It’s the fashionable new cult that’s sweeping America. It’s the trendy new way of evading reality.” She sets the pointer back on the desk, then faces the club with arms crossed. “That’s why they’re incapable of love, or even good sex. Surely that romance-novel fangirl Ayn Rand must be rolling in her grave.” The club laugh.

While the kids call their friends, she walks over to Leila, who stares at her body in red-faced fascination. She leans onto the long table and whispers into her ear, “This is especially important for you. Your future depends on it. What they told you to believe is not true. So listen very closely to what I’m saying.” She gives her a long kiss on the cheek. The girls gasp and squee; the boys howl.

principal’s office. Mortified Kelly and disgusted Christina breathlessly burst in. Kelly blurts, “We gotta see the Principal it’s important.”

Assistant Principal Robson says condescendingly, “He’s in a meeting right now.”

Benson says, “Go home and do your homework like nice girls.”

Kelly and Christina yell together, “Jennifer was naked in class!

From the back office, Spiekerman commands, “Send ’em in!”

“Yes, sir,” say Robson and Benson. Kelly and Christina run back to find Principal, Falconer, Spiekerman, and Mobley in video conference with Chairman Ross. Principal says, “Mr. Chairman, these two students are reporting, uh, issues with one of our tutors.”

Ross glares down at them. “So. That self-proclaimed hero Jennifer Blair believes she can shred the laws of morality? How like her mother. We should have destroyed them during the Revolution.”

Kelly gives him a hopeful look. “So are you gonna arrest her for treason, Mr. Chairman?”

“No. There is one with a personal interest, who believes she can deal with her more effectively.” Kelly, Christina, and the principals stare in shock as Chief Shepherd Drusilla Becket gazes down at them from the big monitor with a smile that says she has already won.

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Copyright © 2012 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
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[Revision 4 Final, 8/18/12: Replotted and expanded.]

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