Description: Jezebel's associations have become more and more dangerous, more and more suspect, and more and more delusional. The madness of the actress has caused a dangerous shift in world politics. One that the Illuminati has marked for investigation. Hei Xuanfeng, a recent recruit in the organization, has been tested to inspect one of the border sites in secret. The effort, however, draws the attention of the high-kicking cowgirl, who is sharing an equal inspection. Marking her as a person of interest, Hei may have to use the most insidious Chinese technique of all to get the answers he needs: romance.
The border patrol site was supposed to be above the board.
It was supposed to stop the crime that was exploding over the border. Check people crossing it, to make sure they weren't smuggling people, or gangsters, or drugs. It was to stop the flow of human trafficking between Mexico and America. It was a joint effort now, with Mexico and America working together. IT was supposed to be an honest place to protect people.
But it wasn't.
And it was all Jezebel's fault.
The facility was certainly funded. And yet, when Jezebel reached there, dressed in her blue jeans and rhinestone vest and big smile burned on her lips, she spent only a moment in the desert heat before she went to the adobe-style border checkpoint, a ways away from the actual checkpoint itself. The actual fenced checkpoint seemed fine. But when she reached the off-site, the detention center, she froze.
She found the children in cages.
Their families currently tied up in separate detention centers, miles and miles away. The children were alone, and crying, and there was a baby, a real baby. She got them out, and now, she had a kind of daycare center set up in the lobby. There weren't many toys, but she created some. She... she yelled at people, Shadaloo people. She didn't want them back with their parents no, she just wanted things to look good, and be happy. Not only because it was the right thing, but because an inspector was coming. A real one, not like Jezebel. Jezebel was a pretend one. Jezebel was in the room, as the half a dozen children try and play, as she sits in a chair, where she was changing the diaper of the baby on a side table, humming a Showup Hoedown song to herself, He was coming any minute, to ask the questions.
And they had to all pretend, just like Jezebel.
Word had come through an anonymous contact who had only been given orders from another anonymous contact to have Hei receive his orders from a dead drop location in a junkyard back in the HK. This is how the secret organization that Hei now found himself toying with rolled. Even if he had decided that he was going to try to follow the leads back down the rabbit hole and find the man behind the curtain, Hei was certain that all he would find would be another Pazzi. A cats-paw who would know no more than Hei himself, and likely just be coerced into doing all of this. For Hei, this shadowy conspiracy mystery thing is a game he's playing. For others, it is the ruination of their lives. Hei still finds the humor in that.
Now, following his mysterious "benefactor's" instructions, the Chinese-British assassin finds himself in sunny... bone dry... stupendously hot... Mexico. Where the Alamo was fought and won or something, if he remembers his school days correctly. Either way, his mission was a straight forward one. There was to be an official inspection of one of the border checkpoints used to house children. Hei was to intercept the official assigned to the task, and assimilate his identity. Marcus Chen. Marcus was a well protected man in this endeavor, as word was that the cartels were gunning for anyone who was associated with the border wall or the checkpoints. Checkpoints. That's what they are calling the camps now. Amusing, that.
Hei looks at himself in the mirror. His dark, dark green hair has been blackened with a spray on color, making it black and boring and dull. He slicked it all back, and braided the tail down low, winding it around his body underneath the pristine white poplin shirt that he's wearing. He whistles to himself as he flips his collar and winds a black silk tie around his neck, deftly starting to tie a double Windsor, and then thinking better of it. A schlub like Marcus? He's a four-in-hand knot kind of guy. As he slides the knot up tight around his throat, it obscures the strange ring of metallic silver, and glowing orange sphered centered at the divot in the center of his throat. He gives one last look at himself in the mirror, ensuring that he looks suitably pathetic in the cheap suit. Slouching his shoulders. Setting weariness into the corners of his eyes, like a man who has been thoroughly crushed by the banality of a mundane existence of eat, shit, jerk off and sleep for going on nearly 40 years. Perfect. As Hei turns and exits the bloodbath of exploded and otherwise colorfully mutilated corpses that was once Marcus' hotel room, he does the courtesy of turning off the lights, cranking up the AC and putting out the Do Not Disturb sign.
The inspector, Marcus Chen, arrives just on time. He is not a minute early, nor is he a minute late. He is rather unremarkable creature. Frail. Skinny. A pastey complexion that indicates a lack of sleep or an iron deficiency, and likely both. He walks crooked. He carries a manilla folder under one arm that looks like it is just about to... and there it goes. Spilling out of the crook of his arm and spilling papers all over the floor. He pushes the glasses up on his small nose and makes a strange, high pitched mewling sound from the back of his throat before he drops to hands and knees to pick it all up and gather it together, stuffing it messily back into the envelope. Then, he rights himself as dull brown eyes finally fall on Jezebel, and he says in a slightly nasally voice, "Well then... I take it you are Miss... Fair-lease? I-is that how you pronounce it?"
Jezebel helpfully corrects the man, not breaking from her focus on the diaper duty.. "It is French, it means strength!" The actress was smiling, because she is always smiling; there were six children; one was not even one year old yet, a little boy from the looks of things. There were a 3 and a 5 year old, a brother and sister that were picked up. A single seven year old was sitting at a chair, staring at an older time magazine, bored out of her mind. Two toddlers of indeterminate age rounded it up, playing with paper fish that Jezebel cut up out of some brochures. There was an air of apprehension, of despair, of fear.
That Jezebel was clearly trying to cover up.
As the man is picking it up, he attracts some of the kids towards him. One of the toddlers actually stops playing with the fish, walking over to him, arms open. "Da Da." The child says, confused at any male figure in a suit looking like his father. "Da da." He would repeat, as Jezebel is busy using some wet naps as wipes. "You must be the inspector! I'm sorry, we're a bit chaotic here, can you help me out here and hold little Jeremy's legs? He is so wiggly, but I need to get him wiped out!"
The boy's name was not Jeremy, though nobody but his family would know that detail.
"Faye-bleeze," he incorrects himself with a nod, looking down at some paper in his folder, and pulling a pen from his breast pocket, clicking it to extend the tip, and scribbling a note. "Strength. I see. I see..."
Hei could just about roll his eyes at that. But that name did sound familiar. Very familiar. Where had he heard that name before?
The child comes towards him, and Hei/Chen looks at the thing like it is a goblin, coming to take a bite out of his very flesh. He recoils, not in fear, but visibly in disgust as the child makes grabby hands with his hideous, pudgey, dirty meat mitts. He feels the tamales he ate in Mercus' hotel room start to tumble in the pit of his gut. "Uh. No. Not da da. Definitely not da da."
As if ignoring the troglodyte might make it vanish from his reality, Hei looks up, pushing the center of his glasses up the bridge of his nose. Again. "T-that's right. I'm the inspector. Marcus Chen! My friends call me Marky, though. Like Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch? Good Vibrations? Ah, forget it. But, good news! I'm the best inspector on either side of the border! Nothing escapes me, Mizz Faye-Bleeze. Golly gee, no. Not a thing. Not by the hair of my chinny chin Chen."
He gives her that exaggerated open mouth look as if to silently say "Get it? See what I did there?" before he moves over to where she's shoveling doo doo out of the squishy meat crevice of a child's poopcanyon. His nose crinkles up, and for a moment, he wretches audibly, before swallowing a throat full of bile to say, "Ah yes. We mustn't neglect poor little... Jeremy? Somehow I doubt that this child is named Jeremy... That's not really a... uh... Mexicano name. I figure he might be more of a Hector or a Pedro."
Says the Asian man named "Marcus".
Jezebel, of course, believed in everything.
The toddler doesn't seem to take the rejection, or even notice it. Jezebel pauses a moment, as gives a laugh. "Ha ha ha! I get it!" It sounds almost real, but of course, Jezebel did not get it. As Marcus comes over, to observe both Jeremy's and Jezebel's hard work, the actress is able to hold up the legs himself, finishing up the wiping. She asks about JEremy's name, and Jezebel laughs a bit at it, shaking her head. And there is an icy chill in the room suddenly, as she answers Mark's question.
"Oh, he's not from Mexico." Jezebel explains brightly.
"All these kids were part of families who were detained crossing into Mexico." She explains helpfully, as she begins to snuggly fit on the diaper. "It's a common misconception that all the criminal activity happening is on the Mexican side; it's actually safer on the Mexican side of the border than the American side, you know!" Jezebel smiles. "Jeremy was the youngest, his mother and father were caught with improper documentation. It's being settled out, off-sight, but Jeremy gets to stay with a new Mommy now, until that's all taken care of!" Jezebel smiles wider, as she tickles the baby.
Jeremy laughs, pure and real.
"You need something to drink, Mark?" Jezebel states brightly, puffing up her cheeks at Jeremy. "It's hotter than a horny toad on the hood of a 69 Ford Mustang, as they would say on my old show!" She snaps up the onesie, as Marcus might feel the grabby hands on his pants legs, the delicate smear of leftover banana on it.
"So this child... these children, are all American children, then? Taken from their parents that are trying to escape the US into Mexico?" Hei/Chen asks, incredulously. That... isn't right. Americans have no incentive to flee America for Mexico, no matter how much of a shitshow America might be. The cartels are based on this side of the wall. The violence originates from this side. There are no prospects for them here. No lucrative businesses, or at least, not the kind that they are accustomed to. People don't run from Starbucks and Whattaburgers to poverty and despair. Hei might not know too much about the Western world, but he at least knows that. Americans are a fat and lazy lot, complacent to rail against whatever social justice movement strikes their fancy from behind the screens of their phones and iPads, but they would never do something that actually would require them to truly have to "survive".
"I see. I see. Well. Well, Mizz Faye-bleeze, could you tell me a bit about a typical day here? I'd like to take a look around and see the conditions that the children are being cared for within while their parents immigration status is... in question."
Wait a minute. That name was familiar. He knew it. Something from long ago. He, perhaps for the first time, takes a moment to actually /look/ at Jezebel. Really, truly look at her. The jeans. The vest. The hair. Even the face. It was... different. He remembered a fair face, fresh and lively with bright eyes. Not caked in makeup to cover wrinkles and blemishes and the hollowness of the person underneath. Even her eye... her one eye... seemed duller than he had remembered. But, there was no mistaking it. This was Lightning Spangles. THE Lightning Spangles.
"Diu nei lo mo chau hai!" he mutters the Cantonese curse ("fuck your mother's rotten cunt") in shock. He follows it with the colorful, "Ci gau sin! (Fucking crazy!)"
Then, the tiny goblin grabs hold of him. Hei's first instinct is to kick the demon thing in the mouth for its insolence, but he contents himself with prying the grubby hand off of his pant leg, and forcefully pushing it away from him as he speaks to Jez as if nothing at all was going on there. "You are Lightning Spangles, aren't you? I thought you looked familiar! Oh, I was a huge fan of yours growing up. Your show was one that we managed to get in Hong Kong when I was a kid, and I'd watch it every week while my mother was at work. Even the reruns! And then, when I was in the monastery and we'd make trips into the city I'd always stop by stores and pick up whatever Spangles stuff I could find! Posters, magazines with you on the cover, VHS tapes, even though I didn't have a television or VCR!"
He gives a scoffing chuckle, and his thin, but pliant lips curl into a lopsided and impish grin. His voice dips lower, and he adds, "I'm pretty sure you were the first girl I ever thought about while.. you know.. Da fei gei."
If Jez doesn't know Hong Kong slang, the accompanying hand gesture makes his meaning clear.
It should be joyful.
IN the haze of the memories, of the 'day care' detention for a bunch children who would probably never see their families ever again, Mr. Chen suddenly reveals just how he knows Jezebel. As Lightning Spangles, as the real Lightning Spangles. Jezebel instinctively feels warm, a warmth overtake her as the man recounts.... recounts just how special she was in his life. Even how she... how she helped him... achieve his blossoming into manhood. Jezebel should be smiling, just like how she always smiled. IT was attention, pure attention; a pure show of her morality, her mystique. He -loves- you Jezebel, take that love you are so hugnry for, and wrap it all around you. The pull is so strong, that she could almost feel it pushing her down.
But Jezebel's smile fades, as the toddler is pushed away a bit.
"Mr... Chen " Jezebel says, her tone suddenly... being firm. Very firm, very steady. She steps forward, lifting up the dressed baby to her shoulder. There was a powerful matronly presence suddenly pouring from her, a sudden shift. And yet, if Hei was hoping for that glow, he would see it now. The act was gone, for a flicker, for the woman beneath the mask. <"I need you to watch your language."> She states in a -very- measured tone, speaking Cantonese back to him. <"I don't tolerate bad language around children. As a true Lightning Spangles Showup Hoedown fan, you should know how important it is to conduct yourself around our littlest deputies!"> Jezebel pats the back of the child, holding her head high, her good eye focused down on Chen. "That's all I will say on that, so don't let me catch you speaking so rudely again!" She repeats in English.
And then the mask returns.
The rush of delusions and madness floods back to wash over the perceptions of Jezebel, as she holds the baby close. "Now if you like, I can walk you through our facility, and walk you through our day to day routines!" Jezebel smiles brightly. It was almost easy to miss that the so called day to day routines became a routine... this morning. When Jezebel showed up. It would take an actress to pass this over as anything but a fraud.
ANd well, it was clear that something was still wrong, anyways.
"It's fine. It isn't like these children are from Hong Kong! They don't know Cantonese, and even if they did, they wouldn't understand what we are saying. Don't worry about it so much! Relax a little!"
Hei offers up a smile that is as bright as it is cold, like a cloudless noon over the arctic tundra. He doesn't seem at all phased by the stern way with which Jezebel speaks. He is, however, perturbed when the monkey demon clutches at his leg yet again, calling him "Da da" in that weak, longing little voice. Hei's eyes roll behind the glasses he's wearing. He suddenly spins around, ducking low to get right in the toddler's face and hiss like an angered cat. The child stumbles back and falls on his rear, blinking rapidly over giant, fearful eyes.
For a moment. And then the giggles begin.
Hei sneers as he rights himself, and adjusts his tie, trying to compose himself. Clearing his throat, he asks of Jezebel, "Can you turn that thing off? It is becoming rather bothersome."
Now, internally, Hei is putting the pieces together. Jezebel shouldn't be here, in charge of this facility. At all. Besides, she's supposed to be some American icon, so why would she be working for the Mexican government at one of their detention facilities? He knows the kinds of routines that these places go through. He is, after all, connected to a Triad that is proficient with human trafficking. What he's seeing? What she'll show him? It isn't what these kids are going to actually be going through. This is a prison, and it isn't one that is likely to be really on the up and up, legally speaking. Chances are that these children will never see their parents again. Those parents have probably already been put to work digging a giant hole in the ground to serve as their mass grave. That is, after all, how the cartels work.
But there has to be more than just the cartels operating here. Jezebel, while she is certainly looking rough, doesn't present herself as a junkie whore who would become a pawn of a simple drug cartel. He knows those types all too well, also. No. This is bigger. This has some level of compliance from the Mexican government.
"I would love for you to show me around now. I will also need some time in the administrator's office to look over some documents."
Jezebel didn't really think about that.
She didn't imagine that the parents would be dead. They would just be away. She didn't imagine that these kids were going to become dolls, either literally or figuruitively or both in the worse sense of the words. These weren't Shadaloo kids, they were her kids. And when Mr. Chen scares the toddler? She almost is ready to blow her cover with a kick squarely into his gut. When the boy starts laughing though? She... she eases back. For a flash, there was that sense of fighting. But all that was left was a warning.
"Don't scare my children, Mr. Chen."
Jezebel's words are scolding, and there is a sense of presence of command, just like in her show. And Mr. Chen was a guest on her show, really. The inspector. "Little minds are ripe for growing, Mr. Chen! They can learn chinese from the words you say, and then, they will repeat it! So please conduct yourself properly, okay? I'm not kidding. Anyways, I would be happy to give you a tour! We can check their sleeping-"
Jezebel halts a moment in mid thought.
Where the children were sleeping was in cages. They did not fix the mattresses. They have no sleeping spaces. They needed to fix that. Jezebel thinks fast. "How... how about I take you to the administrator's office first!" Jezebel holds the baby, as the toddler reaches for her. "Da Da." He asks. Jezebel laughs, as she bounces the baby, as she shakes her head. "Momma is going to be back soon! She has to help the Mr. Grumpy Bump!" Jezebel looks back at Mr. Chen, tilting her head towards the back. She leads the way, making a wide detour away from the holding pens, and straight for the administration room. It was a folding chair, a folding table, and a CRT from somewhere around the Bush administration. H. W. "Here is the room where we keep and access the files. I will need to check on something first, but if you need to find something, login is admin1, password is password!' She says brightly. "That isn't really the admin, but it gives you access to everything I use."
"What documents are you looking for exactly?"
"But they're not really your children, Jez--Miss Faiblesse. These are temporary wards of the state, and you're not a licensed or certified youth specialist, nor an approved foster parent, are you? What with your jet setting lifestyle, and fame and fortune, you have much more important things to do with your life than toil away here in some tiny pueblo hut like a daycare worker. Have any of these children ever even seen your face before today?"
A pause, and Hei/Chen looks almost apologetic, before he says, "Everyone appreciates it when a celebrity comes out to make a show, or does some charitable work, but let's not make it more than what it is. We're both here for our own reasons, and in truth, the children are simply a biproduct of that, and not the focus. That being said, there are no cameras rolling here, so just having word of your presence is enough to help aid your reputation as being a humanitarian and kind hearted soul. You needn't put more effort into it. That is wasted energy."
The way she halts in midsentence has Hei feeling that nagging sense of suspicion run down his spine like a shiver. That was obvious. Too obvious, even. There is something she was attempting to hide and it had something to do with the children's sleeping quarters. He wonders what it might be. Is it the location of the secret entrance to the underground meth lab that the bald white man works in? Is it filthy where an American inspector would be claiming abuse and writing censures about deplorable conditions? Are the children kept in cages, eating out of dog bowls and living in their own excrement? Might it double as a set for...
His nose crinkles up, but otherwise, he doesn't seem at all put off by her sudden attempt to divert him. He follows along until they arrive at the "office" and he peeks inside. Lovely. "This will do just fine. Go check on what you need to check on, and I'll be here, waiting patiently for your return. I'm certain that I'll find everything that I need right there."
For the record, in that movie, there was -no- children around the dog kennel scene.
Jezebel's smile was plastered on, but as Mr. Chen pushes on her buttons, she can't help but squirm. She is content to let him take his position, and there is a pause, where she doesn't leave. She tilts her head, and then shakes it. "They are. My. Children." Jezebel says, with building presence. "Because I am Lightning Spangles, Mr. Chen. I don't need a license, or a certification, to know to take care of children and protect them. When I-"
Jezebel is interrupted by the sound of a side table falling over in the main room, followed by crying.
Jezebel takes a deep breath, and smiles harder. "I can't stop doing this, Mr. Chen. I have to help children. I have to help them, and protect them, and make sure nothing bad happens to them, and make sure they aren't mis... mistreated." Even if it means they won't like you? None of the children wanted you the same way then wanted even Mr. Chen. She would never be a real mother. But she had to help them. There is a pressure, a force. A crushing presence. A haunting, she felt haunted, like a ghost around her.
SHe begins to shiver.
"I'll be... I'll be right back, you can... look up stuff. Just take your time!" Jezebel rushes out of the room, grabbing her head. She starts to head back to the children, before doubling back, heading towards the back kennels. And they were kennels, and it was dog bowls, and it was even dog food. It wasn't too messy; they would hose it down with cold water before she got here. She struggles, rushing around, trying to find one of the employees that she ordered to stay out of site in the back, a Shadaloo agent. And as she reaches, she hisses. "BEDS. GET BEDS, THE CHILDREN NEED BEDS! WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH ALL OF YOU!" She seethes, and hisses, and scratches her arms. They treated them like animals, not children. It was evil. It was wrong. But it didn't make sense. She wasn't evil, she wasn't wrong.
And neither was Shadaloo, right?
Hei would quickly find that the financial and logistical records are almost comically off. When $500,000 worth of contraband is seized in a week, you would expect a lot of illegal activity. And yet, it doesn't seem to actually -document- what was seized. Just assets seized, recorded, and shipped and loaded towards... a warehouse in Tijuana. Routine shipments, that come every day. Which would be absurd, since you wouldn't need to have constant shipping, unless you had quotas. Which was -also- documented, $100,000 a day. How did they manage to seize. Of course, the records today identify a lot of misc... and single large entries, with values assigned to them.
Six of them, in fact.
"Everything looks okay?" Jezebel says, after about 15 whole friggin minutes of -not- being around, while children are -still- crying in the background. "Are you ready for the inspection! I am ready!"
Jezebel's smile was burning in the corner of her lips, as a small trickle of blood pours through the cracks.
"If you really want to help those children," Hei says, his own voice growing harder and colder in light of the tension that Jezebel is starting to display, "You would do best to simply reunite them with their parents and send them back on a bus back to America, where they can live happy, healthy lives with those who love them. Trust me. I know from personal experience the kind of damage that is caused by being ripped from one's parents. Even the most enthusiastic or adept caregivers will never fill the void that causes."
With that being said, Hei/Chen slips into the office, offering up no further conversation and merely giving a faint nod to acknowledge Jezebel's excusing herself. He's already getting in to the ancient computer. He'll entertain himself with this, for now, and see what kind of dirt he might dig up. He's no hacker, so he won't bother with trying to dig any deeper than he's allowed. His mysterious benefactors, after all, know what his capabilities are, and if they wanted more than he could provide, they would have done better to send someone who wasn't merely an expert in killing people.
But what he does find is juicy, indeed. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to put two and two together. Six children. Six "assets" worth $100k each. What Hei had suspected previously about the fate of the parents is all but confirmed in his mind. This is no coincidence at all. Besides, shipping "confiscated assets" has nothing at all to do with a "humantarian shelter" such as what this place is supposed to be. He makes good use of his time alone with this information, taking pictures and making copies to be backed up. Whoever is on the other end of his leash should be pleased with this. And he just might be tempted to follow up on the lead to that warehouse in Tijuana.
Tijuana is a hotspot for young vacationers too, isn't it? Lots of ladies. He could go for that.
"I..." He sees the blood. Whatever Jezebel was when he had been growing up, this wasn't her. Not the person he remembered. She might have aged, sure, but he can still see the hot young girl he grew up crushing on underneath it. What he can't unsee, though, is just how sick she is. This is a woman who is barely held together by some thread and desperation. She's coming apart at the seams. In the end, it makes any attractiveness she might have had diminish in his eyes. She is a disgusting wretch. Ugly and foul and weak. He sees the blood at the corner of her lips as raw sewage seeping out of her. The lines on her face are crags, filled with crawling mites and blocked up with filth and grease. Her makeup is caked on, looking like the waxy complexion of a corpse. Her flesh looks loose and saggy, like a plastic bag half fulled with lumpy, rotting fruit.
In that moment, Hei's disgust is written clearly in his elegant face. His eyes are wide and fearsome, staring at her as if she were some alien creature, while his nose is crinkled up, and the corner of his upper lip is raised in a sneer. He looks at her the way one might expect to see people look at a begging leper, equal parts rage and revulsion.
"...I have everything I need. I... trust that these children are in good hands with you, and will swiftly be reunited with their biological families to return to their normal, everyday lives."
Something seems to fall off the back of the truck, mentally speaking.
Shadows surge around Jezebel, in her mind. Darkness, long trails of darkness. Venom runs in her veins. If you really want to help them, you would let them go. But Jezebel couldn't let them go. Not for her sake, but for Shadaloo's. They were going to... they were going to make them into dolls. All of them. She knows it. But she didn't want them to be animals. She wanted them to be happy. But not because she wanted them to be happy with her. But because she wants them to be happy. That was the right thing to do.
But this was wrong.
This was wrong, and evil, and Jezebel feels the knives crawling on her back, in her skin. Wrong and evil, Jezebel. But Jezebel loves herself. But Mr. Chen was right. Jezebel... felt like a doll, trapped in her own body. Was it her own body? She loved herself. And she was shivering ore and more. She was raw sewage. But she loved herself. And if he was done, he could leave and she could play with the children and take care of them until they had to go to the warehouse, where they would have their minds and bodies and souls scrubbed clean so they could be marketed or reborn as beautiful dolls. Jezebel just had to answer.
Will be returned to their families of course. Lie Jezebel.
"... They will be relocated... in a safe place... with lots of air conditioning. They won't be reunited with their parents, until their stuff is taken care of." Jezebel gives a sniffle, as a tear goes down her cheek from her good eye. It was like a lie, it was the closest example of the lie. But Jezebel's heart couldn't say it. She had to cling to the delusions she could sink her claws into. "Are you..." She adjusts her shirt a bit, unconsciously.
"Are you sure there isn't anything... anything else you need, before you go?"
"They're being sold."
Hei doesn't pull punches with that statement. He says it plainly and upfront, with no hint of animosity or pleasure. Completely cold and factual.
"They are being sold for roughly a hundred thousand each. Their parents are likely already in a mass grave out in the desert somewhere, and they will never have any "safe places" left in their world, much less "lots of air conditioning". They aren't human beings anymore. They are a commodity, bought, sold, and traded. Their lives are nothing from this point forward. You know this. I know this. We can put aside the charade."
Hei adjusts the tie wound around his neck, pushes up his glasses, and smooths out his shirt. When she makes that offer, he feels a tightness in the pit of his gut. Is she propositioning him? Now? There is a part of him that wants to take her and pin her down on the folding table in the office and play out all those childhood fantasies he had about her growing up. To actually lay with Lightning Spangles herself. Twenty minutes ago, and he'd have never even batted an eyelash before taking her as his own.
Now, he just sees this pitiful creature before him. A hag. Pathetic and sniveling. She just might actually care for these kids, but it wasn't from a place of actually caring, but rather from a selfish need to feel validated and loved. It is extreme, obsessive co-dependency. It's sickening.
He feels the acidic sting of bile in the back of his throat as he suppresses himself from actually wretching. One hand covers his mouth as a precautionary measure, and he lowers his face, peering up and to the side at her as he shakes his head.
"I'm quite sure that there is nothing else I need from you, Jezebel."
A sliver of his soul, a part of that withered and blackened thing that still holds on to some semblance of humanity, wants to tell her that he needs for her to get help and to become /his/ Lightning Spangles again. But can he muster up such compassion for something so hideous that it could barely be called a human being? Should he treat her with any sort of dignity, based solely on the glory and virtue of her beautiful past? No. The creature before him is obviously not fit for this world and should have left it long ago before she allowed herself to become this... decrepit.
Jezebel's blood runs cold.
That's it. That's the whole secret. Jezebel has to kill him, right? He knows the secret, to leak it? And yet, he's not.... he's telling her. What does he think will happen? Something was very suspicious, as the world spins around her. The clinging shadows dig their teeth deep into Jezebel, as she feels a building tingle in the base of her spine. Maybe she could seduce him, maybe he could... could force herself on him, mabye he could... maybe she could... but realistically? She didn't need that to sustain the illusion. She leans her bottom on a table, leaning back ever so slightly. AN invitation?
ANd she pretends she does not hear.
"Well thank you for coming by, pardner!" Jezebel says brightly, eye wide, a smile on her lips. "I'm sure you'll be happy with your report! Everything is going to go so smoothly here, Mr. Chen! We're going to help America, and Donald Trump! Donald Trump is going to be so proud of what we're doing here! And the children will be so happy! Like the little baby!"
Where was the little baby she was holding.
IT was gone. And yet, Jezebel was still... going through the motions. Because she loved herself. "Especially the babies... the baby..." Jezebel loves herself. Jezebel loves herself. She begins to rock. "If that's all good... I Need to get back to work, Mr. Chen... "I need... I need...." The smiles cracks, as her mechanical eye narrows to a pinprick, a scowl passing over her face.
"I need my baby bonnie hood." She murmurs to herself, as she staggers out into the lobby, dazed.
"I need my little girl!"
Did she not care that he made it so very obvious that he knew what was happening to the children? Are she and the people she is working for so very self-assured that they need not fear the threat of a leak? He had expected some sort of reaction from that revelation, but all he gets is...
She's fucking delusional. In a true to goodness shizotypical break from reality kind of sense. Pardner? Donald Trump? What the hell does that guy have to do with any of this? Was she one of those Trumpets, as Trump supporters were labeled for all their blow hard antics after Trump dropped out of the running for President? Or is Donald Trump a part of all of this? That would make sense. He was the one who initially talked about building the border wall, after all. But somehow, tying Donald Trump to drug cartels and human trafficking all just seems a bit too... Television. Bad television.
Where was the baby? Hei, if it isn't obvious, does not think very much of children. So little that the missing baby seems an afterthought to him. But, he has his suspicions. After all, who hasn't heard the many tales of drug cartels hollowing small children out to use them as a means to smuggle their product?
But Jezebel is cracking up in front of his eyes. Incoherent and rocking. She's falling apart. As she stumbles past him like a zombie, he follows behind her. Who the hell is Baby Bonnie Hood? A little girl? Whoever that poor damned soul is, he hopes that they're on the other side of the world right now. Whatever "affection" Jezebel might lay on her, at this point, is just as likely to result in a dead girl as it is anything else.
"Right then. I'll just see myself out."
As Hei passes through the lobby, there is that toddler again, looking up at him with those big, sad eyes and reaching out with grabby hands and proclaiming him "Da da".
Hei sneers down his nose at the child with a cold, dead look that has shattered the resolve of many hardened gangsters in the Hong Kong underworld. Such a look reduces them to sniveling dogs, cowering, groveling and begging for their lives. And yet, this child squeals in delight and clutches at his leg. "Da da!"
This little cretin has no future. It is already dead. If not, then it is still already denied any kind of life. It will never see its parents again. It will never again know the embrace of a loving father, or the warmth of a mother's smile. It will only know slavery, at best. Torture, pain, and an abrupt end, at worst.
Why? Why does the Demon King of Chaos now start to feel something heavy in his chest? He despises children. They disgust him. They're filthy and grotesque and feeble. They're a liability. There is no redeeming quality to them, nor is there any benefit to having them.
And yet, he thinks back to those days when he was first torn from his own mother. Even though he was taken to a monastery, where he was treated kindly, if strictly, the experience had changed him. He hadn't felt a single day of true happiness since the last time he laughed with his mother. From that point on, he had only ever looked up to see overcast skies. The world had become a gray and joyless thing. It would be the same... no... worse... for this child.
"Aaaah... Diu ne!!!"
He sweeps up the boy with one arm as he makes for the door, counting on Jezebel being too distracted with her shattered mind and incoherent ramblings to notice that he absconded with one small child.
Everything was fine.
She hangs in the lobby, as the children avoid her. The baby was in the back, right? It was safe. It wasn't left behind somewhere, due to a neglected, delusional Jezebel. B. B. Hood would come here, and she would embrace Jezebel, like a sweet sweet daughter she was. She would kiss her, and she would kiss her back, in great beautiful moment. B. B. Hood would bathe and clean the children, and then herself, and then Jezebel, and then, clean and pure and beautiful, they would march to Tijuana, and tuck the children in there, and then spend some quality, mother and daughter time together.
And she looks, as smile on her face
That smile fades, as the delusion shatters, as Mr. Chen picks up the child.
Her words come like the releasing of steam, of smoke. A whisper, as her body responds to the sudden awakening. She was moving after Mr. Chen, as he.... kidnaps the child? Rescues him? No, no, kidnapping, Jezebel was -good- for the children. He was taking away the boy.
Did Jezebel even know his name? Even pretend it? Did she even think about how -expensive- that child was? How much was over Jezebel's head, on her neck? No. Because it wasn't really Shadaloo's, right? IT was Jezebel's. It was hers.
"THAT's MY BABY!"
Jezebel charges at Hei, wrath and fear cascading over her face, as she -transfixes- her gaze upon Mr. Chen. "GIVE ME MY BABY! YOU CAN'T TAKE HIM!" The screaming comes, as she surges. Hei would need to get out of the door, he would need something, anything to slow her down. Jezebel might be withered, washed up, and insane. But she was dangerous. Very dangerous.
She was still the Blue Pro Belt Champion, after all.
"It isn't your baby, Jezebel," Hei says. He seems completely unperturbed by her violent outburst, simply holding the child cradled to one hip. The hip furthest away from her, in fact. "None of these are your babies. In fact, I'd be willing to put money on the fact that you had never laid eyes on any of these children until today. Maybe a few days, at best. Nor are you going to keep them. They're due to be delivered to their dooms in Tijuana over the next several days."
As she runs, Hei shifts to face her more directly, with the child under his arm, peering at her with large, frightful eyes. "Look at how you scare him. You are a monster to him, Jezebel. You are a monster to all of them. You're a broken, miserable thing, and you creep the shit out of everyone. But me? I'll save this one. Give him a life and a purpose. Give him something meaningful. You can't provide that. You won't. You can't do anything for anyone."
"Not as you are now, at least. Maybe if you were truly Lightning Spangles again... but the you that you are now? You're only capable of destroying everything you touch. So... Go on, Jezebel. Destroy these children. Smother them and force them to pretend to love you, while they grow more and more frightened of you. You will hardly miss this one, once I'm gone. You may even very well forget he existed. Where, pray tell, is the baby? Do you even know the baby's name?"
Hei smirks, huffing as he lifts his chin, glaring down at her out of the corner of his eyes. "Now, back the fuck up, take your god damned meds, get your head on straight and do something fucking worthwhile for once in your miserable little life!"
Jezebel slows to a stop, as she stares into those boys eyes.
She hated it. She was so intensely jealous of Mr. Chen, that she almost wanted to kill him. She wouldn't kill him. He would just send him over the with the children, so she could bath him inside and out, clean him and purify his mind, body, and spirit, and turn him into a beautiful porcelain doll like all the children. She would own Mr. Chen, and then she would have her boy. The name didn't matter. As the words hit her, again and again, with baseball bats, she clutches the side of her head, body shaking.
ANd she smiles so much once again.
"I'm Lightning Spangles." She begins slowly. "I'm always going to be Lightning Spangles. Not those sick, diseased traitors who pretended to be me, who put bounties on my head, who wanted to -kill- me. No, those people aren't Lightning Spangles. I am Lightning Spangles. And I love me. I love me, and I love children, and I have to do the right thing to protect these children. And.... and you have to be stopped. You are a bad person, Mr. Chen. I know you want to defile me, to paint me, to make me an awful, awful woman. To ooze out your poison into me again, and again, and again, because you don't want me to be beautiful and a wonderful mother. You're just a diseased as the rest of them. And you're going to disease my little boy. So I know what I need to do. I know what I -have- to do, Mr. Chen.
"I have to be a hero"
And Jezebel -thrusts- a kick aiming squarely for Mr. Chen's chest.
COMBATSYS: Jezebel has started a fight here.
COMBATSYS: Hei Xuanfeng has joined the fight here.
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Jezebel 0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0 Hei Xuanfeng
COMBATSYS: Hei Xuanfeng dodges Jezebel's Thrust Kick.
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Jezebel 0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0 Hei Xuanfeng
"Lightning Spangles," Hei says, taking a moment of pause as he sweeps low, bending at the waist and swooping to the side, causing the child in his arms to give out a whoop of joy as he, too, is taken along for the ride. Giggles erupt, and tiny, banana mush covered hands clap. "... /would/ do the right thing! Lightning Spangles would put the lives of these children... their happiness, before her own! Lightning Spangles wouldn't allow these kids to get hollowed out from the inside!!!"
As he rises back up, Hei twists on the toes of one foot, raising the other up until his knee is bent, and his raised foot is even with his other knee. He, once again, has the child at his side, away from her, and his other arm is extended, palm open and facing Jezebel to keep her warded off.
"She wouldn't risk harming a child by attacking the person holding him. You WERE Lightning Spangles... but you're not now. I don't give any fucks about any imposters. That shit has nothing to do with it. The only true Spangles might have been you, but look at you now! You're broken and weak! You disgust me! And what the hell are you even talking about, huh? Defile you? Lady I just want to get away from you!"
The more-agile-than-he-seems "Mr. Chen" suddenly leaps, doing a half flip that brings about another shriek of unbridled joy from his companion. The hard soles of his shoes clack loudly as they hit the ceiling overhead. Hei pushes off, launching himself back down, spiraling like a corkscrew missile at Jezebel.
COMBATSYS: Jezebel blocks Hei Xuanfeng's Que Ti.
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Jezebel 0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0 Hei Xuanfeng
He was right.
Deep inside Jezebel's hollow body, she knows it right. Lightning Spangles wouldn't allow any of this. She wouldn't allow this display. What Lightning Spangles would have done, is arrived at the facility. 'What the heck are you doing with all these children' she would say, as the officials would hum and haw. And Lightning Spangles wouldn't have allowed it. A quick series of kicks would come to do those guards right in the butt, while the children would cheer. She would organize them, single file Indian style, and march them out, while holding the baby. She would find their families, and if they were digging a grave? She would save them all. There would be no graves, and when Shadaloo would come for her? She would just escape, and come to Charlie and Interpol. And tell them everything she knows. She would be a hero, a hero who had come to save all the children. How low has Jezebel fallen? If Lightning Spangles, the real, really real Lightning Spangles saw Jezebel, and what Jezebel was doing in her name?
Lightning Spangles would kill her.
And she would do it right this time.
"I have to... I have to risk it." She tells herself, not Mr. Chen, as he vaults over her. As he launches from the ceiling, the actress was turning, arms up to catch him. Her arms weren't great for punching, but were the key to her defense, as she deflects away the man, groaning on impact as she stumbles. "I have to risk it, because I-I-I Am Lightning Spangles, and I am DOING. THE RIGHT. THING!" She screams to herself. "I LOVE ME! AND I WILL NEVER HURT AGAIN!" WAs the shrill, horrifying scream. Her eye was bloodshot. The others would hear her, probably. Or just ignore the manic ramblings, as they have so far, haven't they? She lets Mr. Chen make his landing.
And Jezebel counter-attacks.
Driving her foot in deep, she attempts to -slam- her leg high into Mr. Chen. Not low, never low. She's tryign to avoid the child, trying to... trying to have it both ways. Whether the first hit connects or not, she would pivot around, long and hard, to aim her hip squarely for... Hei. Away from the child. She didn't want to hurt the children.
She just wanted to make them clean for mommy.
COMBATSYS: Hei Xuanfeng interrupts Broken Arrow from Jezebel with Bai Lie Quan ES.
- Power hit! -
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Jezebel 0/-------/----===|====---\-------\0 Hei Xuanfeng
"You're WRONG!" Hei shouts, snarling and spraying spittle in his passion. Jezebel was making him more sick with every passing moment, and every wretched syllable that drips off of her blackened, withered tongue like putrescence. "You're NOT doing the right thing! You're NOT being the hero! You're NOT worthy of calling yourself Lightning Spangles! You're a disgrace to your own memory! A parody of yourself! STOP FUCKING THINKING ONLY ABOUT YOUR OWN FUCKING BULLSHIT MISERY! YOU THINK YOU'RE THE ONLY ONE WHO HAS HURT OR BEEN CAST ASIDE OR ABUSED?!"
The kid, now that the shouting has started, takes up crying. He clutches at Hei's shoulder, burying his face as the tears start rolling. Hei steps in as the kick comes, curling his free arm to create a barrier between his body and her kick and, in turn, blunt the damage to him, and also create the most shield between the madwoman and the child. He grunts as the meaty slap of her leg against his bicep resounds through the room.
But when she starts to turn?
His free hand becomes a blur as he unleashes a flurry of attacks on Jezebel. Each one is light. Barely more than a sharp tap each, though there is a tingling of energy behind each one, as if the attack was building up static electricity in her body. In truth, it is the readjustment of her meridian points disrupting her flow of chi, poisoning it from within. Turning her own power against her.
There was a stentch of spiritual decay. As Jezebel moves for the next bump, the man -explodes- with a chain of punches, tapping into her chi. She spasms, her body... bulging, the sting penetrating. She chokes, gripping herself, as she staggers backwards. She reels, shaking, shuddering. Her mind flashes of madness and burning clarity. And the child cries, as she... as she consumes by the rage.
By the pain.
"You'll NEVER understand what I've been through!" Screams Jezebel, as she -swallows- her poison, devours it, lets it writhe and squirm through her like the hundreds and hundreds of men that's passed through her life, as the children cries and cries. And it's all the children now, as tears continue to pour down her cheek. "You think you could understand the pure and endless pain I've been through? How my life's been ripped apart and abused again, and again, and again? You said it yourself, how you just t-t-touch yourself to me. You've all been using and using and using me, only the children have ever loved me! "
"And now no one will ever stop loving me."
She hurls out a roundhouse kick, high for his face. "That's why I have to help them, Mr. Chen." She rambles, her mind swirling around her, surging, ebbing, flowing. "I have to, they -cared- about me, they love me, they wanted to help me. They saved me... from -me-" She continues the chain, another roundhouse to the face, into another roundhouse to the face. All to the face. all pressuring high and high. "I would have died without them. ANd all I have to do now... is let them take some people... who will be made to love me forever!"
Jezebel finishes the combo with final roundhouse to the throat.
COMBATSYS: Jezebel successfully hits Hei Xuanfeng with Quick and the Dead.
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Jezebel 0/-------/---====|=======\-------\0 Hei Xuanfeng
"Get over it, sister!" Hei retorts with a sneering grin. "Just because you had it rough doesn't mean others haven't. The world doesn't revolve around you, you know?! For fuck's sake, are you really going to make these kids pay for the sins of the people who hurt you? You're just gonna keep the cycle going! Let's just fucking stop and pretend for one moment that any of these kids are going to survive even three months if they go to that warehouse in Tijuana! Let's pretend that you get to care for them like they're your own kid! Do you really want them to suffer like you did? Because that's ALL you're offering them! And don't you even pretend like I abused you because I jerked off to you when I was a kid. You were the first girl I ever crushed on, and it's not like you ever saw it or knew about it!"
Hei is just too bewildered by the sheer, and frankly, stupid insanity of this woman as she keeps prattling on, contradicting herself within the span of a single sentence and thinking nothing of it. He's caught by her roundhouse, which sends him staggering back, only to get hammered again and again and again until his ears are ringing. But, he cradles the crying boy's head, protecting him so that he doesn't get hurt in the process.
"Listen to yourself! You can't even pretend that this is about them when you literally say that you want to force them to love you! You can't force anyone to love you, you dumb bitch. Fuck, if it were that easy, I'd be set already. Listen to them crying. Listen to them screaming. They don't love you. They will never love you. They see you as a monster."
Hei sweeps his free hand out in a wide half circle, leaving it suspended overhead for just a moment as he raises his leg up high. Stomping the floor, and thrusting his fist down, a small shockwave of energy erupts across the floor beneath them, becoming a ring of blue, swirling energy. He spins, a violent pirouette that shreds the cheaply made suit from his body from the waist up. Wind envelops him like a swirling, tornado haze, which quickly condenses and becomes an expanded dome that churns up the floor, and spreads out in the attempt to swallo Jeze within it and batter her with chi and debris alike.
COMBATSYS: Jezebel dodges Hei Xuanfeng's Zhiming Xuanfeng.
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Jezebel 0/-------/--=====|=======\-------\0 Hei Xuanfeng
"SHUT UP" Screams Jezebel, as the visage of wrath spreads over her.
"SHUT UP! THEY ARE... singing, Mr. Chen. THEY ARE SINGING THE SHOWUP HOEDOWN SONG! YEE HAW! YEEEE HAAW! YEE EHAWW" She croaks hoarsely, as her own poison stirs within her black heart. She was moving erratically, spasming, lashing out as Hei's words drill deeper and deeper in her. She was lashing out, manic. As the children, the children scream and cry.
They will never love you."
Jezebel lunges away from the rising burst of chi, giving Mr. Chen the space as she staggers away. She moves towards the children. They recoil. And she mutters, babbling, as she keeps recoiled away from Mr. Chen. "Shadaloo will fix them. Shadaloo will fix every single man, and woman, and child into a beautiful paradise where nobody has to hurt anybody ever again. That is my reward, Mr. Chen! THat is the reward that every man, woman, and child deserves! It's a beautiful paradise, and it will start here, and into Texas! I will be rewarded the Queen of Texas, where everyone will live in a Star Spangled Paradise! I will be part of this, in this beautiful new AMerica where everyone is beautiful and wonderful, where every man, woman, and child will sing the song you hear around you. And you too, Mr Chen. I want you. You can be my husband, my king, my prince. You wanted me as a boy? You want me as a man. You want me, you love me, everyone, everyone, LOVE ME!" REd, white, and blue energy cyclones around her, as his pupils, mechanical and otherwise, are pinpricks, as her whole face is red. She sweeps her arms around, at everything, everything around. "This is reality. This is -my- reality."
"WILL BE BLESSED"
"TO BE A PART OF IT!"
COMBATSYS: Jezebel burns with the darkness of her sins.
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Jezebel 1/-----==/=======|=======\-------\0 Hei Xuanfeng
Shadaloo. Interesting that. Had Siren not come to him with an offer of mystery and intrigue that he found too enticing (not the least of which was due to the messenger herself), Hei had once upon a time considered reaching out to Shadaloo and positing an alliance to put the Sun Yee On on good terms with them. Surely, whoever it was that he was working for would not appreciate that endeavor. That much is now known, if for no other reason than his presence here.
"Shadaloo? You really have lost your god damned mind, lady! You think they're going to do anything good for anyone? They're terrorists! Hahahahahaha! Oh man! And here I thought you were working for a standard drug cartel, on the level with my own Sun Yee On family! And here you are, deluding yourself into working for the most evil man on the planet himself, and thinking you're a good person?! Fuck! That IS funny!"
Hei erupts into peals of laughter. It's just too damned much. Queen of Texas. Paradise. She's really downed the kool-aid, hasn't she?
"Lady, I wanted you as a boy, because I wanted Lightning Spangles. I wanted a girl with a heart of gold, and sparkles in her eyes. I wanted someone who was strong and sure of herself, and able to stand by her own convictions. I wanted a heroine. You are not any of that. Not anymore."
Even as her colorful display of chi erupts, Hei walks up to her, shifting the crying child on his hip, who buries his tear and snot covered face against Hei's bare, rose-tattoo'ed chest. It makes Hei cringe, but for now, he ignores it. As she gives her straight up supervillain speech, Hei just hikes up his eyebrows, with an amused smirk playing upon his lips.
"You want me, Jezebel? Then let me go with the kid. Let me take this one for myself, and then, I can be yours. Show me that you mean it. Show me how much you want me to be your husband and king. Give me this gift."
As Hei speaks, though, his own spiritual pressure is growing more palpable, like a heaviness in the air itself. There are no grand fireworks. His chi is primarily internalized, refined and made to fuel his physical body. Mend wounds. Help him to operate at peak efficiency. It's not flashy, but it is a very real aura that just radiates from him.
COMBATSYS: Hei Xuanfeng gains composure.
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Jezebel 1/-----==/=======|=======\==-----\1 Hei Xuanfeng
Desire, mingling desire.
Jezebel's mind, her id and ego and superego were firing on all cylinders, as the laughter riots through her like the crying. "THEY ARE NOT TERRORISTS! THEY SAVED MY LIFE MR CHEN!" She giggles, and sobs, holding her cheek so gently. "BUt Why... why can't you take one? Oh Mr. Chen!~" She coos aloud, voice going hoarse as she staggers around. "Mr. Chen is a dirty man who steals children, but loves me, but loves me, but loves me, husband and king, hate, hatred.
And she collapses into a heap, clutching her head.
"If you take them all, then they never have to endure me. They never ever have to endure the nightmare. You could be an honest, wonderful, handsome father to all of them. But no, no no no, then Vega will be angry, he will hate me, not lust me, kiss me in the mouth, the tongue, the incredible, engorged chin. I want you. I want you... I...." Jezebel snaps out of it, rolling into a crouch down, as the red white and blue energy floods over her.
"I have a better idea, Mr. Chen."
"Yeah, yeah, you know too much! That's what they will tell me, but that's okay, because that's what I need to do!" I need to make a great big family, a husbands, a hundred husbands, a thousand children, and dozens of wives, a beautiful Spangles family in perfect unity and harmony. You shouldn't run away, you should come to Tijuana, you should join me again and again in the warehouses, to become cleaned and purified inside! YEAH! THAT'S IT!" She screams, as she suddenly explodes forward, leaping through the air. Spiralling like a top, she would -hurl out- a chain of aerial kicks, slamming with indoor explosions of red, white and blue, terrifying children as she would try and send them both out of the door....
or just herself, crashing through into the hot desert sun.
COMBATSYS: Hei Xuanfeng parries Jezebel's Where Eagles Dare!!
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Jezebel 0/-------/-======|=======\=====--\1 Hei Xuanfeng
"No one saved you, Jezebel," Hei says, his voice, so silvery light and smooth, spills from his lips sweetly, and yet completely devoid of any form of emotion. Cold and logical. Serpentine. "Shadaloo hasn't saved you. They have only tried to break you further. To use you. Manipulate you. Make you do horrible things for them so that you'll feel dirty and ashamed. So that you'll degrade yourself further, and believe that only they can make you clean and pure."
That was the terminology she was using, wasn't it? It was. If he speaks her language, he can better get inside of her and twist the kinked up knots of her mind further. There is only so much that any one person can take, and Jezebel, from the looks of it, is on the precipice of a complete and utter break from reality. Maybe, just maybe, he can push her into a catatonic state. Anything he can do, just to get the hell out of here.
And all for a snot nosed brat who clings to his side like a panicked monkey, crying because of the violence and aggression that spills forth from Jezebel. And now, he's nowhere near alone. All of the kids in the lobby are in hysterics, as Jezebel rants and gnashes her teeth, practically frothing at the mouth. As she screams, Hei knows that she's about to come at him again, and this time he's prepared.
The first of her spinning kicks is on a surefire trajectory straight for his temple. Were she coherent enough to see, she'd see his eyes tick right at that foot as it rushes in, and his lips take on a shrewd, lopsided grin. And then he's gone. Just a flicker and he seems to be no more.
She does crash through the door, outside into the scorching desert heat and retina blistering sun, but Hei/Chin and the boy are not taken along for the ride. Instead, the boy is going to get a ride of his own, as Hei dashes through the now broken doorway at speeds faster than the human eye can even track.
Stopping in front of Jezebel, a swift, but thunderous stomp of his foot creates a ripple in the earth, kicking up the ever pervasive golden dust that covers everything in these parts of the world. He lunges in, his hand rearing back and becoming a rigid, flat "blade" with his fingers tightly pressed together. The ends of them are driven forward as he thrusts, seeking to bury themselves into her solar plexus and to trigger the vital point hidden therein.
COMBATSYS: Jezebel blocks Hei Xuanfeng's Bagua - Zou Yuanquan EX.
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Jezebel 1/------=/=======|====---\-------\0 Hei Xuanfeng
The reeking madness was the most dangerous part of Jezebel.
It was one thing to deal with someone who was suicidal, or simply insane. Insanity made basic existence hollow. She was traumatizing the children, the illusion was nothing but ash now. Jezebel comes to a crash, facefirst into the dust. She gnaws on the earth, the dry earth of the Arizona desert. And she rises up, as she feels Mr. Chen descending on her. She turns so slowly, it feels so slowly. Should she attack? Or should she accept her judgement. The withering judgement that she deserved, she knew she deserve, the very judgement she knew she deserved when she killed that child. But that judgement seemed even more hollow, even more far away.
Because she loved Jezebel.
And she didn't want to die.
She rotates, taking the penetrating blows directly into her arms. There is a sickening sound of a crack; the pain seems to jolt her back into some shadow of reality.
"No, Mr. Chen." Jezebel says, a light overtaking her.
"No, no, see, Shadaloo came to rescue me when they took Lightning Spangles from me. Not my fans, not my agents, not my supporters. They didn't come to rescue me from the mental hospital. They didn't come to save me. They just.... wanted me to stay there. Forever. Until I was better. But I've always been better, I've never been better." The turning still comes, and Jezebel sweeps her leg right back at Hei, trying to carve some space out in the dry Arizona heat. "Don't you understand? Don't you understand they never made me a whore, a plaything, a doll. They let -me- control my life they wanted me to control it. And I am so free."
"And even now, I can -choose- how this happens, Mr. Chen!"
COMBATSYS: Jezebel issues a challenge!!
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Jezebel 1/------=/=======|====---\-------\0 Hei Xuanfeng
COMBATSYS: Hei Xuanfeng dodges Jezebel's Spin Kick.
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Jezebel 1/-----==/=======|====---\-------\0 Hei Xuanfeng
Hei's fingers drive themselves deep, deep into the flesh of Jezebel's arms, as if he were trying to penetrate between the bones and pierce her flesh. How the fuck did she block that? She should be far too gone to be able to keep up. Far too pushed over the edge.
"You haven't ever made a choice, Jezebel." Hei says, shifting the kid around on his hip. His eyes flicker off to the side, over Jezebel's shoulder, at the car. He just needs to get through her to there, and they'll be home free.
"You've never made a choice in your life, Jezebel. You never had the chance to. How old were you when you were forced into showbusiness? How many decisions were made for you? How many people used you to benefit themselves?" Hei asks as he sweeps back, letting her swinging leg pass by him harmlessly. "How many people have used you, and abused you? How many people have come to you with fake smiles and promises of wanting you, of needing you, and of wanting to help you? How many Jezebel? I'm willing to bet all of them. And that is all this is, too. They saw you were weak. They saw you were vulnerable. They saw that they could take advantage of you and ruin you and make you do horrible things to innocent children because you would do anything at all just to feel like you're worth something. You've always been worth something, Jezebel. You're worth being your own person! You're worth standing up to Shadaloo and not letting them have more kids to turn into slaves and monsters! You're worth being the Lightning Spangles that the world needs right now the most!"
Hei hops forward and leans back, sliding across the dusty pavement of the lot as his free hand erupts with shimmering rings of hazy wind. Thrusting his arm out, that haze becomes a swirling ball of blue chi, surrounded by sharp ripples of whirling air. He tries to thrust the ball in against her side, where, should it make contact, it will twist and pull, a vacuum held within it, to draw her in and pummel her repeatedly with kinetic force.
COMBATSYS: Jezebel interrupts Zhenkong Quantou ES from Hei Xuanfeng with High Noon EX.
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Jezebel 1/-======/=======|=======\===----\1 Hei Xuanfeng
Jezebel was taking body blow after body blow from the mere words of Hei.
She was staggering, struggling, as she recovers from the kick. But the words were cutting to her bones. She wanted to shut down, if this was before her suicide attempt, she would have shut down. But her Narcissism was just too powerful to just let her rip apart. And yet, Hei's words hammer her over and over, as the blast of haze and chi tear at her, she rotates her leg, as her eye goes wide. "The Lightning Spangles that the world needs right now..." Jezebel states in a daze, as she -slams- her leg upwards, connecting hard with Hei's chest, as she rises up.
"Is no more."
"They killed her; the demoness, and the little boy." The babbling comes as her shirt is in tatters, the blast of energy leaving nothing but the thin fabric and a sports bra underneath. She brings her leg high up as she reaches the apex of the aerial launch. "They entered my mind, when I tried to kill myself, Mr. Chen. When the Hoedown Dillo pinned me down, and filled me with Baconators, so deep inside me, I finally was free."
And she spikes him into the dust below, with an explosion of fireworks.
"This time is difference." Jezebel says as she lands. The hysterics were gone. And in it's place was... peace? Peace could never be so frightening, as a consuming cold overwhelms her, the venom rotting away, as it dawns upon her. She stumbles, holding her chest. "This time is different, because there is no Lightning Spangles. I've destroyed them all, even Pepper. Because you know what I think Lightning Spangles wants to do, Mr. Chen? What she wants to do to me? I think she wants to kill me. Because I deserve it, Mr. Chen."
"My god, I really have become a monster, haven't I?
The ball of swirling, ripping, and tearing chi lands its mark, and Hei's face lights up with sadistic glee as he watches it punch into her, twist her flesh, shred her shirt. He's so focused on watching the flesh warp and distend that he doesn't see the incoming kick. He's caught by it, lifted up into the air with his charge still clutched tightly to his side. As he feels his upward momentum come to a close, for that single moment of weightless vertigo, he's suddenly slammed back down. The acrobatic assassin twists and turns in mid-air, so that when he lands, he does so not on the flat of his back, but on his elbows and knees, tucked into a defensive shield with the boy hugged tightly into the cavity created by the inward curve of his stomach. Shielding him from harm. From the fireworks. From whatever attack Jezebel might launch next.
"You... you really don't have to be..."
Heh. A monster trying to talk another out of it. This is rich, Hei. Slowly, he pushes himself back up onto his feet, with the boy's arms wound around his neck holding on for dear life. "Look, maybe Lightning Spangles is dead. Maybe Lightning Spangles has been the monster that's consumed your entire life. Maybe it's time for Lightning Spangles to move on, and not be the hero anymore. Maybe, instead, Jezebel Faiblesse can try to do something good and honest and selfless. Maybe it's time for a new, real hero. But... you have to get your shit together, lady. You. Are. Broken. A good start, I think, would be to do something you are truly proud of. Save some fucking kids. Let me go."
COMBATSYS: Hei Xuanfeng gains composure.
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Jezebel 1/-======/=======|=======\=------\1 Hei Xuanfeng
Don't have to be.
Jezebel felt so numb, as Hei explains the way out. "If... If I let one go... I have to..." replace it with someone. "But it doesn't matter. Nothing matters, because Lightning Spangles is dead. And if she comes back, she'll kill me. I'm nothing, not even Jezebel, but something much more now. That's what they showed me, the little boy, the demoness. I'm something more, the real self, the girl of my dreams." She gives a little giggle, as it seemed like... she was enraged now. She was so calm, so serene. And she looks at Mr. Chen not as a danger, a luster, a monster.
But as the little boy who watched her show.
"I'm going to play a game, Marcus! It's a game of pretend, of real pretend! I'm going to count to ten, and- I didn't tell you the game! The game of pretend is hide and seek. I'm going to count to ten, and when I reach ten, you have to be hiding. And if I find you... If I find both of you..." Her smile fades as she leans back, a moment of terror on her face.
"I'm going to have to kill you all."
Jezebel begins to cover her eyes. "One.... two.... please Marcus.... don't let me do this... I am a monster, I am a monster, and Lightning Spangles is going to kill me... three... four.... five..... Six.... I am nothing... I am nothing... and I am beautiful and free and I love me, for the first time since I ever remembered... and all I had to be was nothing.... seven... eight.... nine..... nine... nine...."
And she peeks out from behind her hands.
COMBATSYS: Jezebel gives y'all a free turn!
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Jezebel 1/-======/=======|=======\=------\1 Hei Xuanfeng
Hei listens to the incoherent garbage that is spilling out of Jezebel like so much spiritual pollution, but the words don't really matter to him. He knows everything he needs to. This woman is well past the point of no return, and this is the best moment he will have. She won't likely get any further broken from reality than she is in this moment. It's either he escapes now, or he fights her to an uncertain end.
There is a problem. A few of them.
Is he willing and able to back down now? Hei isn't a coward. He's vehemently disgusted by cowards. Face is everything, and he'd feel like he'd be losing face if he ran. Moreover, if he does run, is she likely to murder all the other kids? They're disgusting parasites but that doesn't mean he wants them to be... subjected to her. No one deserves to die like that.
On the other hand, there is no witness if he runs. She doesn't know Hei Xuanfeng, but only Marcus Chen. His reputation doesn't suffer if he hightails it out of there. So then that leaves only the children, and the question of their fate. Should he stay and defend them? It's a risk. On any given day, he'd be willing to put money on the idea that he could take Jezebel down, in a normal fight. But, he had been pushing and prodding and her mania and psychotic break have reached a fever pitch that will likely carry her well beyond her limits simply because she won't realize that she's already dead.
Hei is not a hero. He has never been a hero. He'd laugh at the very idea of being a hero. Heroes are weak. They are stupid. They sacrifice their own well being for the sake of others who would never do the same for them. IF he were to stay and fight, he'd be making that mistake. He'd be a hero. Worse yet, he might even die on the behalf of a bunch of worthless kids that won't know or appreciate what he'd done. And, in the end, if he died, his sacrifice wouldn't mean shit, because they'd all be in the same boat that they were before he came.
But the kid. The one who has him in a death grip, whose crying has stopped because he instinctively knows that "da da" is protecting him from the scary psychotic bitch who wants to hurt him. He can save that one. He can run, now, with that kid, and spare at least one of them from their fate.
So, then it is decided.
As Jezebel makes her countdown, Hei moves to the car that he had arrived in. It's a nice, sporty rental Challenger that the real Marcus Chen had procured. One would suppose that it was likely a mid-life crisis thing. Hei, now, is thankful for the clumsy, American muscle car, as he straps the kid in to the passenger seat.
He slides across the hood, Dukes of Hazard style, and dives into the driver's seat. The modern car doesn't even need a key in the ignition. Just a button press to have the 6.4 Liter Hemi engine roaring to life.
He puts it into reverse, and turns around to see where he's going as he backs up, kicking up a cloud of billowy honey gold dust.
Can he really leave? Can he leave them all here with her? Hei's eyes flick to the building, where he sees the girl who was boredly looking at a Time magazine peeking out from the shattered remnants of the doorframe. Her face is streaked with tears, and her eyes are hollow and devoid of hope. Beside him, the kid tries to clutch at his arm where he rests his hand on the gear shift. "Da da!"
When Jezebel stops recounting nine and finally exclaims ten, Hei is directly in front of her, already airborne with a spinning crescent kick that flares with a sheet of wavering blue chi that seems almost two dimensional, that is tearing through air and earth alike on its way to attempt to slice right through the madwoman herself.
Should that initial kick find it's mark, Hei becomes a blur of motion, twirling about like a tornado, his braided tail forming a spiraling ring around him. He lashes out with a slicing-empowered heel kick, and then unleashes a flurry of kicks the likes of which Chun-Li had made famous across the world. Each of the multitude of after-images of his feet releases an X shaped blast of that cutting force, with the bloodthirsty intent of shredding the flesh from Jezebel's bones. He turns, once again, and leaps forward. His arms spread out before and behind him. His right leg tucks up underneath the left, which extends outwards in a classic "Dragon" style flying sidekick that leaves a giant streak of two-dimensional chi, like a sheet of glass that he attempts to drive right through her.
And should it succeed? For a moment it might seem that it was a weak, and ineffectual attack. But, after a second, she'll erupt with a grisly display of blood, jetting from her veins and arteries and coloring the dusty pavement underfoot in crimson.
COMBATSYS: Jezebel blocks Hei Xuanfeng's Bagua - Tiantang Chengfa.
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Jezebel 2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=------\-------\0 Hei Xuanfeng
Jezebel is met by a ora ora ora.
The actress actually yelps as the first kick riots in. Instinctively bringing her arms up to block it, she concedes the offensive pressure as it roars into her, the barrage of kicks tearing into her. She seems almost able to sustain against it, even as it rips her arms violently. When the final dragon kick comes. She leans in hard, to block it... and it doesn't hurt that bad? She smiles, as she slowly drops her guard to attack.
And her limbs explode.
There is a scream from Jezebel, that soon fades into mirthful laughter. "You... didn't... didn't run!" She gasps, as the vessels in her limbs dangle, her arms just bone and gore. She sobs, and laughs, as she holds up the limbs. ANd yet, she didn't seem shocked by the damage, no. Not by the pain, there is always pain. But her question is almost pleading, as her moods flash back and forth, as she looks at the car.
Arms drenched in her own blood, she shivers again. The boy wasn't there. He wasn't there, he was in the car? Jezebel wouldn't chase after him, no, no, he would, if Mr. Chen died, then she had to save him from the hot car, and then she would find him, in the hide and seek.... She tries to lift her arms, only moaning in agony as the ragged flesh dangles from her limbs. "Why didn't you run? You could have been free! YOU COULD HAVE BEEN FREE WITH HIM!" Jezebel shrieks as she turns, swinging out a kick... that comes far, far short of anywhere near Hei. Was she imagining him closer? But at at the apex of the swinging kick, she hurls out a shimmering orb of red, white, and blue energy. And then another one, as she throws out another kick. "You could have been free... I didn't want to kill you..." She sobs, as she throws out another one. Turning her back on Hei, she would expose herself in weakness once more. "I just.... I Just wanted some kind of reality, Mr. Chen. Where everything would be all right." She shuts her eyes.
And the air around Hei would begin detonate in a fireworks display of the American Flag, in all her glory.
COMBATSYS: Jezebel successfully hits Hei Xuanfeng with Unforgiven.
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Jezebel 0/-------/--<<<<<|======-\-------\0 Hei Xuanfeng
For whatever it is worth, Jezebel manages to defend herself against the slashing and slicing onslaught of Hei's lightning kicks, which only pisses the Chinese assassin off more and more with every passing moment. How the FUCK is it that every. Single. Fucking. Person. Is just able to block, or deflect the most powerful secrets of his ancient art. Are the legends just that? Are the scrolls that he had learned from incomplete, or deceitful? Is he just too slow and clumsy with them? It seems like even his most swift and decisive attacks are just batted aside with the utmost ease, nearly without fail.
Her hysterics notwithstanding, Hei doesn't answer her. Not at first. His only response is a half-formed sneer, as he raises his chin and glares down his nose at her. The spheres of blistering, red white and blue chi are flung, and Hei raises his arms in an X before him to shield himself from the blast, but it does little to help him. He's pummeled once. Twice. Three times. Each blasting him back further from the last, until the American flag explosion engulfs him and sends him flying into the air, only to crash back to the earth.
"..." He rolls over slowly, spitting out a mouthful of thick, syrupy blood. "...you dumb crazy bitch... What kind of person would drive off and let you murder a bunch of kids?! I wouldn't be able to look myself in the mirror if I were to let that happen!"
He picks himself up, dusting off his suit pants and then drawing his open hands in a large circle in the air before him. The circle is bisected, becoming a semblance of the yin and yang symbol. It helps him focus his Qi, invoking it inwardly, which causes a faint glow of golden light to surround him like a hazey mirage.
"You want this, Jezebel. You want to murder and kill. You want to lash out at the world, because you're broken, weak and miserable. If you didn't want to kill me, or that kid, then we wouldn't be here doing this! You have the fucking control! You just want to make up fucking excuses because its easier if you don't have to accept that you're just a depraved psychopath! You want to hide behind this fantasy of being nothing, of how some little boy and some girl or what the fuck ever killed you and made you like this, but that's just a shitty lie that you're telling yourself! You want a reality where everything turns out alright? Go back to the damned mental hospital and WORK OUT YOUR SHIT!"
COMBATSYS: Hei Xuanfeng gains composure.
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Jezebel 0/-------/--<<<<<|=====--\-------\0 Hei Xuanfeng
For Jezebel, it was years and years of being a punching bag for life.
It was easy to dismiss Jezebel as a simple crazy person who could pretend to fight. But her tournament standings and professional ranking made it clear that Jezebel, past the madness, had spent half of her life training in Tae Kwon Do. If she could only hone her mind.... but no, as the blast explodes behind her, she slowly turns around, as he snarls at him, her ragged arms still bleeding out. She touches one of them, gingerly, as she stares around in the sun, dazed.
"I've never had the control, Mr. Chen."
She just shakes her head. "I've never, ever had control. I've never been in control of my life. Bad things just happen to me, and I have to cope. And cope. And cope. Jezebel... I have never been in control. Except now. Now, Shadaloo has finally let me be in control right now; I'm saving America, I'm helping the wall, the immigration, I'm stopping the criminals, I'm saving the children. I'm finally in control... so close, to it. I don't want to murder, or to kill, but it just happens. And I don't know how to stop it anymore." She cocks her head to the side.
"I just need you gone, Mr. Chen!"
And she fires through the air. Spiralling like a top, she flashes with red, white, a blue energy. Blood contrails through the air, as she spins. There is no kicking; the actress was aiming to outright to -bodyslam- him with an explosion of energy, to bring both of them crashing into the sands, with Jezebel pinning him down. All with a siren yodel from the woman.
COMBATSYS: Jezebel successfully hits Hei Xuanfeng with Pale Rider EX.
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Jezebel 1/-------/=======|=======\=------\1 Hei Xuanfeng
"That has got to be the stupidest shit I've ever heard!" Hei retorts with a growl of disgust. "You call this control? You think you're doing anything good at all by murdering children, or condemning them to... what the fuck did you call it? Cleansing them inside and out? Turning them into slaves for a psychopathic madman who just craves power at all costs? You think that they've done anything worthwhile for you? LOOK AT YOU! You ARE the criminal! You're openly admitting to murder and kidnapping! It just happens? IT JUST HAPPENS? That's control? Take some fucking responsibility for yourself like a god damned fucking adult!"
At this point it is a foregone conclusion that Jezebel is going to tear him apart limb from limb, but Hei still tries to muster his sluggish body into something resembling a dodge. He's too slow. Too predictable. She crashes into him, slamming him to the ground underneath her as her chi sears and scorches his hapless body.
From under her, Hei lies prone, and just says, "Go on then. Kill me. Kill the kids. Kill everything. You'll never be loved. You'll never be sane. You'll never be happy or whole or complete. No one will ever want you. No one will ever care if you die. You will never, ever be anything more than a pathetic, sniveling wretch. A lapdog to a megalomaniac who won't even regard you as anything more than a piece of shit stuck to the bottom of his boot. You've betrayed everything that you were supposed to stand for, and in the end, all you've done is proven that all those people who hurt you and abused you? They. Were. Fucking. Right."
COMBATSYS: Hei Xuanfeng takes no action.
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Jezebel 1/-------/=======|=======\=------\1 Hei Xuanfeng
Jezebel finally pins down Mr. Chen.
Straddling him, she looks down at him, her mechanical eye transfixed on the man. A smile bleeds from her mouth, as she breaks hard. She places those bloody arms on him, her blood-soaked hands on his throat, instinctively. She rocks back and forth a bit, her feelings conflicted. Was she going to murder him? Was she going to stop? OR was she going to overpower him, and.... do something? Jezebel looked like an old dog who finally caught a rabbit, but didn't know what to do next.
And he tells her the truth.
That she will never be loved. That she'll never be sane. She will never truly be happy, or whole, or complete. That no one will ever want her. No one will ever care if she dies. You will never, ever be anything more than a pathetic, sniveling wretch. A lapdog to a megalomaniac who won't even regard you as anything more than a piece of shit stuck to the bottom of his boot. You've betrayed everything that you were supposed to stand for, and in the end, all you've done is proven that all those people who hurt you and abused you? They. Were. Fucking. Right.
It had to be a lie.
The grip tightens around his throat. Just kill him. Just kill them, Jezebel. Kill him. She trembles, as the smile stretches across her face, wider, ever wider. Her grip is soft; there was no muscle to it. Her chest rises and falls faster and faster, as panic runs through her. Just do it. Just do it and finish it. "You... you are wrong... they will... love me... and I will... whole.. be...." Jezebel surges, and finally, she decides. Her instincts decide.
And she acts.
"Jezebel cackles, as she squeezes.' Says Jezebel, as she releases Hei. "I am nothing, she says, I am a monster, she coos, watching the last light of conscious flicker out of Mr. Chen. Rising up into a stand, she slinks off Mr. Chen, not quite satisified with him." Jezebel rises up into a stand, staggering backwards, dazed. "So she grinds her foot into his face, running it into his mouth, before lifting it up high. And then finally, with a scream of ecstasy, she slams her heel down on Mr. Chen's head, shattering the skull and breaking his neck. There is a brief moment where he wakes up, in writhing, thrilling agony, before he goes limp."
"And she doesn't stop there."
Jezebel is a few meters away from Hei, as she slowly begins to sit down on the dust. She is staring into space, as she recites it back. "She goes over to the car, and makes sure it is locked, so Jeremy will- will cook to death in the car, slowly and painfully." Jezebel slides backwards, falling into a sit, completely. "ANd it doesn't end there. She returns back to the facility. And she is so eager to make the children she thought she loved hurt. To make them suffer, torture them just like Jeramy. Beating every single one, to spare them from Shadaloo, to murder them. And Jezebel felt nothing, because she was evil, she was finally really, truly evil. That she realized that she was what she was always, a horrible monster who... who...."
And Jezebel breaks.
There is a heaving sob, as the tears flow. The mood swings end with a hard slam, as she grabs her head. "Who murders children, who murders fans, who murders and kills everyone who loves her, because it feels okay, because they always deserve to be hurt for hurting me, because I'm an awful, awful woman, who nobody likes anymore, except as a doll to, a doll to, use!" Jezebel buries her face in her hands as she draws her knees to her chest. "It's okay Jezebel, It's okay." She repeats back, trying to crush the tears. "You love you. You made that choice. You made that choice so you wouldn't die anymore! Because the pain is just an illusion! You always had the power to stop you from hurting. There was just one price, only one price to pay to stop yourself from hurting, to stop yourself from tearing yourself into little pieces." She was trembling, absorbed in her little conversation at the moment.
"You just had to stop feeling Guilty, Jezebel!"
COMBATSYS: Jezebel gives y'all a free turn!
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Jezebel 1/-------/=======|=======\=------\1 Hei Xuanfeng
As Jezebel's mangled fingers encircle Hei's throat, he just lifts his chin defiantly, as if offering it up to her. His eyes never waver, with one of his contacts having fallen out to reveal the golden green jade of his iris, the other still a deep, dark chocolate shade of brown. Regardless of their color, the utter revulsion and complete disdain shines through in that unblinking and unforgiving stare. In truth, he's not sure who he hates more in this moment. Jezebel, for ruining his childhood crush by becoming... this... or himself, for giving in to weakness and putting himself in the position to get killed in vain for nothing more than little shits that mean nothing.
As she narrates the fantasy of murdering him, yet does the opposite, Hei lays still for a few moments, listening while recovering his breath. Is this the work of Shadaloo? Enough rumors get around the criminal underbelly of the world to suggest that the man who leads Shadaloo, Vega, has vast psychic powers, enough to brainwash and control anyone he comes into contact with. Could he have driven Jezebel mad in order to use her? Or is this a madness of her own making, because of the sad, poor route that her life has taken her? Does Hei have it in his heart to even give a fuck?
"Stop kidding yourself..." Hei finally says, his voice strained and hoarse from the strangling. He rolls onto his side, sitting up, but he doesn't get off of the ground just yet. He's in too much pain, and at the moment, she is not an immediate threat. Though he knows that might change within the span of a fraction of a second, he'll use what time he has to try to catch his breath and replenish his stamina.
"No one loves you. You love yourself the least of all. That's your fucking problem. You can't just tell yourself that you love yourself to make everything better. That isn't how you stop feeling guilty," He says, spitting out a mouthful of blood into the sand and dust. "But, if you want to... to stop feeling guilty and start loving yourself... A good start would be to help me load up these kids. Get them far, far away from here. Away from Shadaloo. Away from you, even."
Leaning back, Hei presses his palms to the earth, supporting his weight on his arms. He finally tears his eyes off of her, casting a baleful stare up into the sky overhead. He draws in a deep, deep breath, and releases a slow, steady sigh.
"I'll help you, if you want. I can meet up with you, later. After I get the kids out. I can take you with me to Hong Kong, and you can get the help you need. Real help. Get your shit together in your head and work through that shit you feel guilty for. You may never be a good person, but hardly anyone is. In the end, all that matters is that you learn to actually accept who you are so you don't do.... shit like this."
COMBATSYS: Hei Xuanfeng gains composure.
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Jezebel 1/-------/=======|=======\-------\1 Hei Xuanfeng
"That's not -true-"
Jezebel yammers out, reality surging in. "I love myself more deeply and carefully than any other person in the history of mankind. I love myself beyond Christ's love, because I at least came back more than once. No... no..." She doesn't unlatch from herself. She couldn't. If she did, she would be attacking Hei again. That was the apprehension, the fear. Jezebel couldn't control herself, not properly. And yet, every time she restrained herself? She wanted to die, she wanted to bury herself in a deep dark hole to die. She shakes her head, rapidly. "You are wrong, you are so wrong."
"That -is- me"
"That is the real me, right? Not the woman who... who saved those children from the cages, who changed the diapers, who gave the children a little bit of light. I'm a predator, it's my nature; I'm either making mistakes all the time, Mr. Chen, or I'm pretending away the mistakes. I can never not make mistakes, I have too much in my past, too much history, too much weight. I can never escape it, so I just... I just have to choose a life where I can pretend forever that I don't ruin everything I do. And Shadaloo lets that happen, they are... so forgiving. They have forgiven so much, they love me, they tolerate my mistakes, they believe in me, Mr. Chen. They understand... and you... and you..."
"Get away, Mr. Chen. Take the child away, and get away..."
Jezebel shivers again in the desert heat, limbs still bloodied. "I'm not going to go back into the darkness. I'm not going to go into the dark deep pit anymore, I'm not going to hate myself anymore. And that means... I have to accept this. I have to do this, all. Shadaloo is the only thing that hasn't betrayed me, and they... they let me stay out of the dark deep pit."
"And all it costs me is my dignity."
There is a pregnant pause.
"And I can live with that."
"I will live with that."
"And I have, already."
There is the sound of cursing, and screaming children within the building. Not hurt screaming, but... fear. The glint of steel is seen, as the thin security forces in the detention center, Jezebel's helpers, begin to figure out something is horribly, horribly wrong. Nothing that Hei couldn't handle, only one or two. The klaxon at the border itself, however, is more foreboding.
As well as the jeeps that are being loaded in.
"You can be whatever it is that you want to be, Jezebel. Lightn...You taught me that as a kid. It's why I am the person I am today," Hei responds to her explaining that she is a predator, and that the goodness isn't the real her. It is, perhaps, a poor example to use him as demonstration of her teaching values and self-confidence. After all, he turned into what he wanted to be, which is someone who kills others for money so that he can have it all. He is a creature who believes that he is owed the world, and he'll take it all without remorse. Because he loves himself more deeply and carefully than any other person in the history of mankind.
"I'm not going to push it. If you feel like Shadaloo is where you belong, then that's where you belong. But Shadaloo isn't going to love you. The same way that AT&T doesn't love its customers or employees. Or any other large organization. They're built solely on the premise of exploiting people to the ends that they want to achieve. You're just the latest representative in the call center. Once you're used up and hollowed out, you'll be fired, and forgotten. That's the way of the world. If you want to make a mark and keep yourself relevant, you're going to... you're going to have to come to terms with your life and who you are. Really come to terms with it. So that you're not... whatever the fuck this is."
He looks across the way at the jeeps rolling in, en masse. Even if he wanted to save all the children, now, he doesn't have that ability. He could easily take the men in the building, even in his present state. He would be less able to deal with the army that those jeeps promise. Thankfully, it seems that he's managed to achieve what he wanted, anyway. They're not going to be murdered in horrific and painful ways by a completely delusional madwoman. They might be taken to a warehouse in Tijuana and have things done to them, but... they'll still have their lives. As for him and the boy? He's already limping towards the car. "Jeremy" greets Hei as he opens the door with grabby arms and calls of da da, but Hei is silent as he climbs into the driver's seat, puts the car in gear, and peels out of the lot in the opposite direction of the oncoming jeeps.
None of it was real to her.
She doesn't even see the men, the jeeps. She is barely even aware that Hei was gone. But the words of Mr. Chen rattle in her soul like pebbles in a can. Hollowed out. Forgotten. Thrown away. Just like the visions of death she had, on the wake of the Christmas Special. She... she needed to show love. She needed to make Mr. Chen love her. But it was so hard to make people love you, when you loved yourself. Jezebel mutters, as the clouds of dust kick up from the vehicles.
"Thank you, Mr. Chen.
One of the jeeps pursues after Hei; it would not even come close to catching a powerful car like that. The others encircle around the downed Jezebel. It was a common repeat of a popular scene in many a cartal. Jezebel had failed to keep guard of the group's assets. And now, she was a liability. Like the parents of the children, she would need to be processed. And it looked like it was going to be right here. A dozen men leave from the jeeps, as they encircle around the woman, handguns trained on her. One steps up to her, and points the gun right to her head. "You feeling tired, Jezebel?" He asks gruffly, as he cocks back the hammer. Jezebel looks up at him, a smile on her face as she stands up, letting the gun slide to her temple.
"AT&T... loves me."
Jezebel explains, staring into the man looking at her. The shadaloo enforcer steps back, as if Jezebel was a landmine about to go off, pulling his gun away. The guns slowly drop away, as Jezebel spins around, looking at all them, still soaked in blood. And the bloodied actress stands up. "AT&T, and Sprint, and even Verizon cares about me. Because I am beautiful. I am brave. And I am doing the right thing, without accuring roaming charges." Jezebel is smiling, as she successfully fails to retain Shadaloo assets. And the only thing stopping her execution right now... is fear. Not of Vega, not of their command... but the sheer force of will of this woman, who seemed to transcend the basic boundaries of sanity. They needed an expert for this. In the car, the outpost commander gives a phone call.
There was a problem in the ranks.
COMBATSYS: Jezebel has left the fight here.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\ <
Hei Xuanfeng 1/-------/=======|
COMBATSYS: Hei Xuanfeng has ended the fight here.
Log created on 13:18:50 07/17/2018 by Jezebel, and last modified on 02:37:56 07/25/2018.