Charlie - Operation Lebanese Red

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Description: Several months ago: a mission to 'rescue' the Russian virologist Dr. Sokolov leads Major Nash and his team into a facility on the Lebanese-Syrian border. Unfortunately, the organization behind the kidnapping appears to be fully aware of their intentions - and more than ready to respond to the incursion.

0400 HOURS

Long months of intelligence gathering and surveillance work have finally borne fruit; the discovery of a well-hidden facility along the foothills of the Eastern Mountains which separate the countries of Lebanon and Syria. Visual confirmation had only come within the past 24 hours, when an advance scouting team had spotted a person of interest being transported to a camouflaged, underground entrance. It was so thoroughly disguised - and in such a remote location - that it would have been all but impossible to locate... if the U.S. Government had not been attempting to track and locate one specific individual.

Dr. Sokolov, a missing Russian scientist who disappeared while being escorted home from his work at the Vector Institute in Koltsovo, Novosibirsk Oblast. Information on his specific branch of research was highly classified by the Russian government; and even the foreign intelligence services of the United States - as well-funded and far-reaching as they were - knew precious little about what the man was working on...

...but given his expertise and experience in the field of biological warfare, one could make a safe assumption. And that assumption was enough to know that such a talented individual - with the dangerous knowledge he held in that brain of his - would be a liability if he found his way into the hands of a terrorist organization. And given the times they live in, it was a fair bet that /some/ fringe, criminal group was behind the kidnapping.

Rather than approach via helicopter - a dangerous idea, even under the cover of darkness - Major Charlie Nash and eight of his men had traveled by camel from the nearby village a few kilometers away. Instead of their uniforms, which would only risk giving them away to any spies or look-outs in the village, the men are all dressed as locals - shemaghs tied around their faces to hide the fact that they are Americans... after all, his country was not well liked in the region, even without the sensitive nature of their current mission.

They had silently breached the door using thermite to cut through the thick steel of the almost vault-like entrance... and only feet into the underground facility, it had branched off into countless paths. Without so much as a word, Charlie had motioned his men to split off into three - a trio of soldiers in each group - and take a different corridor.

The mission had gone well... almost surprisingly so; within 15 minutes, Bravo Team had issued a whispered confirmation over the radio - they'd found the professor, and were going to extract him back to the entrance. With the guards they had encountered left unconscious or restrained via zip-ties, Major Nash made the call for the helicopter - waiting in a hidden spot within the mountain ranges nearby - to approach and land at the LZ near the facility's entrance.

Charlie and his squadmate had been the second group to make it back to the breached door; ordering the five soldiers outside to secure the landing zone for the helicopter, the leader of the elite SWIFT unit kneeled just inside the entrance. Pressing two fingers against the radio earpiece, he begins to speak as quietly as possible into the codec radio... still feeling an odd sense of apprehension about exactly how silently this entire mission had gone off. They had only gone as far into the facility as they needed to, in order to find the kidnapped Russian scientist... who knows what other forces were waiting /deeper/ inside... who knew if any of the guards were able to trip an alarm before being restrained by his soldiers?

Too many unknowns... and so, despite the hushed tone of his voice, there is a very real sense of urgency when he speaks over the radio - addressing the men who are still returning from the center of the laboratory, escorting a blindfolded Dr. Sokolov.

"Alright, men, you need to double-time it. The helicopter is two minutes out, and we're not sticking around to meet any backup that might be headed this way. Get to the exit, now."

Apparently the soldiers under his command need little encouragement to make swift progress. Little more than a minute after issuing his order to make haste the last squad appears from their own tunnel. The point man emerges first, his weapon held at the ready as wary eyes scan the foyer before he motions for the others to follow. Two more of the masked soldiers step into the open, the VIP being escorted protectively between them.

The man at the rear of the formation hobbles slightly in a limp as he struggles to keep pace with the rapidly moving squad. A heavy bandage soaked with blood on his right leg indicates that they were less successful than the others at subduing the doctor's guards entirely silently. It's unsurprising that whatever passes for elites within the facility would be found watching over its most valuable prize. Fortunately, they won't need to make an unpleasant trek back out into the desert to make their get-away. Riding on a running camel isn't exactly the smoothest way to travel.

"Package secured, sir," the lead soldier says, moving to take up a watchful position at their rear lest any unexpected reinforcements come barreling out of the tunnels. That is apparently all of the information he's planning to offer at the moment. A more detailed debriefing can wait until they're out of danger.

As promised, the subtle thump of stealth helicopter blades starts to whisper into audible range shortly after. The dark shape of a sleek black form swings into view from behind a tall rock formation, swooping in a wide turn as it moves towards the small circle of Charlie's men indicating its preferred landing zone. A miniature gale of whipping wind kicks up the sand into steadily stronger blasts that rake against any exposed skin as the chopper slowly begins to settle down towards the ground. One side of the stealth vehicle peels open to reveal a lone figure in military fatigues manning a large minigun on a pintle mount. He swivels the deadly gun towards the entrance of the facility, ready to lay down a deadly deluge of covering fire should any hostiles be foolish enough to give chase as the special forces team moves to board.

But, as any experienced soldier such as Charlie is certain to be aware, it is when things seem to be going smoothly that disaster is all but obligated to strike. With such a tantalizing target dangled before it, fate can't help but oblige him.

The unmistakable roar of a rocket tearing out of its mounting rips through the churning beat of the helicopter's blades without warning. A streak of red fire darts across the sky from somewhere behind the large mountain which houses the secret facility, the source out of sight for the secret agent sheltering in the entry way. A ball of fire blossoms against the side of the hovering bird, sending chunks of shattered blazing metal flying in all directions. The men standing guard at the landing point are knocked flat by the pressure wave of the explosion, one of them unfortunate enough to catch a large chunk of the flaming debris in the chest as it rains down across the sands.

The helicopter spins wildly, the pilot struggling to pull it up away from the ground and peel out to one side in order to take evasive maneuvers. A second rocket bellows a shout of fury as it flashes into view, shattering any hopes that their ride might manage to slip the noose. Whether through luck or absurd skill, the warhead hammers straight through the open door at the helicopter's side and detonates in its interior. The result is both spectacular and decisive as all of the fuel and munitions aboard the vehicle ignite in a devastating eruption of thunder and fire.

A few moments after the destruction begins to fade, it becomes obvious that the steady thump of helicopter blades has not. The reason becomes clear as a massive heavily-armored war machine roars into view, slipping out from it hiding place behind the mountain. While the special forces chopper had been a thing of sleek elegant functionality, the behemoth that lumbers into view is nothing short of a flying tank. Twin rocket pods hang from short stubby winglets at its sides, smoke still wafting from a couple of the barrels. Racks of massive anti-tank missiles are nestled up against the rounded launchers, each of the deadly projectiles easily the size of a man. Underneath the bulbous nose of the beast, the barrel of a large caliber cannon protrudes from the front of a swiveling turret, the weapon tracking back and forth in tandem with the predatory motions of its pilot's head.

The Mi-35, big brother to the famous Hind D, heaves into a slow turn a hundred feet out. The cannon quickly shifts its aim to the fallen soldiers outside of the facility, still struggling to push to their feet in the wake of the disorienting blast. A ripple of crackling thunder bellows from the muzzle as it barks a burst of fire, the noise almost deafening even from that distance. One of the soldiers is engulfed in a geyser of dirt and sand that mercifully shields his gory demise from sight. The next isn't so lucky. Fist-sized holes erupt into sprays of red gore as the infiltrator rises and tries to run, his body literally shredded apart mid stride. The others suffer similar fates in short order.

Upon disposing with the what appears to be the majority of the threat, the hulking gun ship slowly lumbers towards the entrance and settles down in the midst of the flaming remains of its kill like a wild predator staking claim on its territory. A ramp at the rear of the chopper slowly descends into the sands as the engine begins to whine down into inactivity, disgorging a single passenger.

The figure that emerges from the war machine is certainly not what anyone might expect to come striding out of a military vehicle. A girl somewhere in her late teens saunters casually into the open, moving with the carefree attitude of someone unburdened with wariness. Her features are notably Asian in origin, her Korean heritage easy to pick out for anyone who knows what to look for. Twin 'horns' of silky black hair protrude up from her head giving her a rather distinctive appearance that anyone familiar with Shadaloo's elite would recognize in an instant.

Juri's mouth twists up into a smug smirk as she surveys the destruction wrought by the gun ship's weaponry. While she could probably do better and with more flare, never let it be said that she has no appreciation for the marvels of modern engineering. Besides, the less effort she has to exert in this awful heat the better. Why is it that her assignments keep sending her to these blazing hellholes? Probably a calculated move on Vega's part, just to spite her. Bastard.

The teenager spins in a slow circle, casually noting each body - or what counts for a body now - before her gaze shifts lazily towards the entrance of the facility. Even without the Feng Shui Engine to sniff out the energy signs of the survivors, she's already certain there has to be a few of these rodents left to stomp. After all, none of them had the doctor with them and there's nothing else here worth going through all the trouble to steal.

"If you come out and surrender, I promise to break you quickly," she purrs, leaning towards the entrance in a suggestive manner. "I suggest you hurry though. Standing out in this heat is a sure fire way to make me cranky."

As he spots the man on point turning a corner and moving up the corridor leading to his own position by the exit - joined by two more bringing up the rear with their captive - Nash nods in approval. Despite things going so smoothly up to this point, the sight of his soldiers so close to extracting their quarry does nothing to ease the tension or sense of urgency. He's been on enough missions that went south at the last possible moment, when everything seemed to be in the clear, that the very idea of dropping his guard - or deeming the mission a success - before they're back at base is an entirely alien one to him.

When dealing with wetwork and infiltration, things have a way of going wrong just when the outlook seems brightest. And there's still so many unknowns in play - who did this facility belong to? There was no indication within the laboratory itself - the guards' uniforms were non-descript and didn't match any known organization... the halls and rooms were entirely without significant markings that might have revealed who built the place... and they hardly had time yet to question Dr. Sokolov as to the identity of his captors, being in such a rush to exfiltrate the facility before facing any consequences.

There is a brief crackle of static over the codec radio as his men quickly move to link up with their commander, followed by the voice of the team's helicopter pilot as the craft begins to descend.

"Preparing to land, Major. Let's get out of this hellhole and go ho- WAIT, NO! PULL UP! P-!!!"

The pilot doesn't even have the chance to pull back on the yoke before the projectile strikes the side of the helicopter dead-on - lighting up the desert night in a fireball as its fuel reserves explode in time with the missile, showering shrapnel and gore down onto the sand of the landing zone.

Slammed into the ground by the explosive shockwave - the majority of the shrapnel misses the assembled soldiers almost entirely... barring one unfortunate individual, who was too slow to hit the sand; a large piece of the helicopter's rotor flies through the air, beheading the man as his headless body slumps forward. Rather than panic, the remaining men attempt to move into action as though it were a choreographed dance they had performed many times before... but for all their discipline and steely will, it does them no good when so thoroughly outmatched. Before they can even pull themselves back to their feet, they too are sent to their graves by the large caliber spray from the deadly gunship.

They never even had a chance.

As the sound of rotors and gunfire slowly dies down just outside the entryway, there are no words from Charlie; he merely pulls down the front of the shemagh, revealing his chiseled jaw and stern visage to the men left alive behind him. Another group of brave souls he'd escorted to their end. Another pile of corpses to add to his crusade, his attempt to rid the world of the evil which seeks to plunge the globe into the old days of widespread conflict. A few deaths in the grand scheme of things is a small price to pay, if it buys even one more day of stability for the always-teetering balance of power... the very balance which has kept the peace for so long.

It's a price he had always accepted as necessary - and though he does not do it gladly, he pays all the same. Just as he always has, without complaint, without regret, without sorrow.

One day, it'll be him whose body falls limp in some desert, or jungle, or crumbling city. When that day comes, he only hopes his men will keep up the fight without their stalwart leader. If the world is a just and merciful place, then when it's his time Guile or some other experienced soldier under his command will step up and take the reins - to carry on the good fight, as long as necessary.

It's up to him to provide the example, something for the soldiers of his unit to look up to and emulate. Emotionless, cold, willing to walk into the fires of hell for their country. Even when that country doesn't even think to say 'thank you' for the sacrifice; knowing one died for a good cause should be enough for any soldier in uniform.

And then, a figure appears some small distance past the top of the steps which rise past the breached door... and a voice, feminine but practically dripping with danger. As she ceases her approach and leans in, Charlie and his men get a glimpse of her features... and it is /not/ what they would have hoped to see, even in their worst nightmares.

/Shadaloo/. And not just any member of that hated organization. No, in the hierarchy of terror, /this/ one stands only slightly removed from Vega himself.

"Holy /shit/, Major, it's /her/, it's Juri Ha-"

At the unexpected outburst from the point man behind him, Charlie turns his neck to shoot a quick glance over his shoulder at the trio of soldiers waiting behind him - still holding Dr. Sokolov's zip-tied wrists to prevent the scientist from breaking away and running, terrified, back into the facility. The stern gaze of their commanding officer is enough to silence any further panicked words... though the frightened glances shot between the three men say more, perhaps, than speech ever could.

These hardened soldiers, men who've dragged themselves through bloody battlefield dirt time and time again... they're /scared/.

One hand comes up, Charlie pointing at the scientist and then beckoning with two fingers. Immediately responding to the silent command, his men shove Sokolov towards their Major - Charlie's calm, stoic seriousness seemingly bracing them against the fear which spreads throughout their bodies. Nash has always done his best to make sure his men make it home alive, no matter the situation - and though he has failed before, the unit knows they've got a better chance with him leading the way than they would have with anyone else in command.

As their captive is passed up to him, Charlie grips the man firmly by the shoulder - strong hands digging into his collarbone and eliciting a scream of pain from the blindfolded man. "Shut up and walk," says the blonde-haired man, his free hand moving down to his side and pulling his pistol free from its holster. A 1911 Marine Corps Operator, lovingly crafted by Springfield Armory. His sidearm of choice is lifted up, the barrel pressed against the back of Dr. Sokolov's head - digging into the man's skull as he's forced forward, up towards the steps leading out of the underground facility.

"The rest of you, stay back and out of sight. If anything happens, go the way you came - there's got to be another exit in this place. Find it, and tell Command what happened here."

And then, he's stepping into the desert air, standing behind his captive with his pistol still pressed against the back of the man's head.

He cocks the hammer back, dark and emotionless brown eyes staring out at Juri over the tops of his eyeglasses - trying to avoid any glances at his men, or what remains... their guts and blood painting the white sand of this hellish desert wasteland. And when his voice comes, there's no hesitation, no trembling, not the slightest hint of the pounding, rapid heartbeat in his chest - just calm, collected professionalism. The consumate soldier, facing down death yet again... and showing the grim reaper no hesitation.

"Back off. Now."

It's a desperate gamble, and knowing what he does about the girl's temperment - and the lack of value she places on /any/ human life - one that is bound to fail. But he also knows enough about her that he's well-aware of one fact: if this devolves into combat, he might not be walking away from this one... to say nothing of the three remaining soldiers who are still alive - watching hesitantly behind him, still within the bunker.

If she wants his fear, she's not going to get it that easily. She'll have to drag it out of Major Charlie Nash, and even then he'll make her fight for it... struggling against the Shadaloo elite every step of the way, spitting in the face of this living, breathing spectre of death. It's the least he can do, to honour the sacrifice which his men made here today.

The flickering flames of burning wreckage illuminate the young girl in ominous washes of color, scintillating patterns of yellows, oranges, and reds dancing across her pale features as they battle with the darkness of night. A faint purple glow shimmers behind her left eye as she watches and waits, patiently allowing the remaining insects to chitter amongst themselves in panic as someone realizes the nature of their doom. The smug grin upon her attractive face does little to paint her in a more friendly light - if anything, the hint of murderous manic glee behind the expression just makes her look all the more like a demon that has come to drag them to Hell.

A floodlight flares to life as Charlie emerges from the facility's ruined entrance, the turret of the hulking metal monster swiveling to paint him with a beam of blinding illumination. Silhouetted against the blackness of the desert, the helicopter seems more like some misshapen monstrous insect than a machine, the bulges of its armored intakes resembling a large chitinous shell, the multi-paneled glass of the cockpit a pair of strange faceted eyes. The long barrel of the cannon underneath its nose turns towards him alongside the light, protruding grotesquely like the proboscis of a mutant fly.

Juri holds a hand up, preventing Nash from joining his men as a pile of fresh hamburger. Her eyes narrow slightly as she takes in the strange tableau of the man who had invaded her base now wielding the very scientist they'd come to rescue as some sort of hostage. That is definitely a new one. But, in addition to being sexy and deadly, Juri is also quite cunning. It doesn't take her more than a moment or two to understand the implied threat behind what seems like an insane action.

Shadaloo wants what the scientist has to offer for some scheme or another. She didn't bother asking about the details. Getting him out of their hands was obviously the goal of this little infiltration team; a rather pointless endeavor since he can just be recaptured at any point. However, this particular boy scout doesn't seem to want to play the usual hero game of self sacrifice. An anti-hero, huh? Willing to scatter the poor doctor's brains on the sand just to make sure his talents can't be used for evil. How interesting...

Contrary to the barked order, Juri does not make any move to retreat from her position but nor does she advance. The girl's slender arms cross under her chest, one hand resting lightly on her chin as she regards the soldier with a look of open curiosity.

"Well, well... seems like I've got a hard case on my hands. You even managed not to piss yourself."

She leans forward again, arching her back as she sniffs at the air in a manner that is bizarrely suggestive for such a simple action. Her petite nose wrinkles up in disgust.

"Unlike the rest of your men, it seems. But even so, I can smell the desperation wafting off you like a perfume."

Juri straightens again, her head tilting back slightly to allow the teen to sneer imperiously down her nose at him. As she does so the girl's presence suddenly seems to intensify, the mere fact of her existence washing over the area like a wave of palpable malice. Nash and the doctor get the worst of it, a faint spark of power twinkling in her eye as she pins them beneath her stare.

"What's the matter," she chides, her silky voice taking on a haughty and imperious tone. "Is the big strong army man afraid of a dainty little girl?!"

Narrowing his eyes against the spotlight that hits the instant his head clears the top of the stairway, Charlie only needs a split-second to brace himself against that nearly-blinding brightness before walking out onto the sand. Each step takes him further into what could accurately be called a waking nightmare; five of his best soldiers, reduced to splatters of red and purple like a piece of modern art. The flaming wreck of their helicopter. That hulking silhouette of the Hind E aiming its guns straight at him. And worst of all, a demon in the form of a teenaged girl, leering at him and mocking the highly-decorated soldier - as though she didn't have a care in the world.

And why should she? Everything he knows about Juri Han from the intelligence gathered on Shadaloo operatives tells a dark story, indeed. She might feel like she has no cause for concern here; and she might well be right, even if she /weren't/ backed up by that gunship.

She's got Nash dead to rights, or so it might seem... but for all the pressure building up in him, causing his temples to throb and his teeth to clench as though his jaw was welded together, the Major doesn't seem to have any second thoughts about putting himself in harm's way.

Nor does he dwell on the deaths of his men. He had hand-selected them all, trained them himself, gone shoulder-to-shoulder into battle with most of them dozens of times. But he doesn't grieve; the honour they've earned, the sacrifices they've made, will live on forever in the actions of Major Nash and the rest of his unit. They were warriors, fighting for their country - and they knew the risks. They would not have wanted an emotional farewell. They would not have wanted their deaths to slow the progress of their commanding officer and fellow soldiers for even one second. They would have wanted the mission to succeed, no matter what. They would have wanted the war to go on, until peace had been secured for those who could not defend themselves.

And the men back in Washington would not have promoted then-Lieutenant Charlie Nash into this position, if they weren't confident that he was not a slave to sentimentality and emotions. His reputation had always been that of a man who got the job done, no matter the cost - to himself or others. And he'd always carried out his duty with the cold, analytical logic of a man who knew in his heart that he was fighting for the right cause; even if the methods might damn his own soul in the process.

As Juri gives her hand signal to the helicopter pilot, Major Nash breathes a silent sigh of relief - though he remains ever-vigilant for any signs of overt hostility. His entire gambit rests on the fact that Shadaloo has plans for Dr. Sokolov - ones that might well be as mysterious to the girl as it were to the CIA operatives who had been tracking his kidnappers.

But it seems like his bold actions only have so much of an impact, as - despite his shouted command - the girl doesn't make any moves to back up. Calling his bluff, perhaps? Does she doubt his dedication, his willingness to do whatever is necessary?

The Major barely has the chance to dissect this question in his head, before Juri's presence eclipses any other concerns he might have had. The sudden wave of malevolent power might be enough to break a normal man, but Charlie is anything but 'normal' - he may look like the model of a virtuous American soldier, blonde-haired and lantern-jawed, but anyone who has seen him in combat knows he's an accomplished killer. And one who has faced down monsters in human skin more than once, and lived to tell the tale.

Dr. Sokolov, however? Well, he /is/ a normal man - and the already shaking and sobbing scientist is turned to jelly as he feels the full force of Juri's contempt, bloodlust and power wash over him. His knees buckle immediately, Charlie forced to tighten his grip on the man's collar bone to keep him from collapsing - there's a spreading circle of steaming wetness that makes itself apparent in the crotch of the man's pants, voiding his bladder in sheer terror... and though he had been silent up to this point, the gun pointed at the back of his skull is only so convincing, when there's an equally fatal threat lurking somewhere in front of him. He /begs/.

"No, no, no, I didn't tell them anything! Tell Lord Vega that I didn't tell them anything!!! PLEASE, DON'T KI-"

The thick Russian accent is cut off suddenly, as Charlie releases his grip on the man's shoulder to move his now-free hand across Sokolov's mouth - his pleading suddenly silent as Nash moves the barrel of the pistol from behind his head, to press against his temple.

And the entire time, Major Nash merely squints against the spotlight, his keen gaze doing his best to keep focus on Juri's lithe frame as he attempts to adapt to the blinding illumination. Dragging the still-weeping Doctor, he shuffles a few feet to one side - attempting to put the Shadaloo enforcer between himself and the barrel of the helicopter's main gun... though it might be somewhat telling that he does not stray /too/ far from the entrance back down into the laboratory.

If things go south, a fighting retreat back /into/ the facility might be his only recourse.

"Tough talk, kid. Must be nice to have a gunship backing your play," says Charlie, keeping his voice as cool and even as he can, considering the shitshow this mission has devolved into, "How about you call that thing off, and we can chat about what happens to Sokolov here."

He allows himself a brief pause, to let Juri consider his offer, before he hammers the point home in a voice that betrays none of the very real tension he is feeling at this moment. Staying cool under /this/ kind of pressure is a skill that is hard-earned, indeed - but over a decade in the Marine Corps, taking on the worst missions imaginable and coming home every time, is the sort of thing that will immunize an individual against such mortal terror... at least, on the outside if not within.

"We do this my way, or /nobody/gets the Doctor."

He shouldn't need to add the obvious; that he knows enough about the way Shadaloo operates to be well aware of one fact... you don't disappoint Vega without facing repercussions. And he's willing to bet that even the infamous Juri Han isn't about to risk that sort of backlash.

Then again, he can't be entirely sure - and so he waits, watching the girl, waiting for any reaction from her... one way or another.

Between the gibbering terror of the doctor and the quiet stoicism of his 'rescuer', Sokolov's reaction to being hammered by seething animus of the sadistic teenager is by far the more common. Juri's arrogant smirk widens into a malicious grin as the old man breaks down into a mewling wretch pathetically begging her to spare what his miserable existence, the teenager practically beaming with twisted satisfaction and pleasure.

No matter how many times it happens, she never gets tired of seeing that reaction. Every whimpering sob, each pitiful plea is nothing less than an affirmation of her absolute tyrannical power. The stench of his emptying bladder, while vile to her senses, is raw ambrosia to her ego, a heavenly mixture of desperate adulation and primal dread. Simply existing in close proximity to this man is enough to evoke a deep and primitive terror the likes of which mankind has only ever offered to the gods and devils conjured up by their darkest fears and desires. She lives for moments like these - that look of dawning realization when a man is struck with an absolute certainty that whether he lives or dies comes down to nothing more than the whims of a perverse and merciless sociopath.

And the most delicious part of the poor doctor's entirely understandable breakdown?

She's not the one holding a gun to his head.

Juri head tilts slightly as she shifts her gaze from the muffled doctor back to Nash, regarding him with the same sort of interest that a cat gives a small rodent that was foolish enough to wander into the open. She can tell that he has no real psychic defenses to speak of, no constructed metal barriers that might protect him from the existential fear of being exposed to the twisted influence of her directed will. There are few people in the world who can boast to have withstood a direct psychic attack from someone of her might without flinching. His lack of reaction to the unveiling of her killing intent is more than enough to make her salivate. While she is more than happy to bask in the anguish of simple men like the poor doctor, the pleasure she gets from that is incomparable to the sheer ecstasy of crushing a strong-willed man underneath her oppressive heel.

The question then is how to go about breaking him? Soldiers like this man have been conditioned to deal with fear and pain. They are raised on stories of heroism and martyrdom, practically molded into cult-like zealots that desire opportunities to endure hardship for the sake of king and country. Oh they use different words these days - president, prime minister, premier - but the relationship between ruler and pawns remains mostly the same, as does the willingness of those poor idiots to throw away their lives for some elusive notion of 'the greater good'.

The girl's eyes shift lazily from Charlie's face to the gun he holds pressed firmly against the blubbering hostage's temple. That weapon offers no real threat to her. Even if he were to try and get in a random cheap shot she would know it even before his hand started to twitch her direction. The baleful light of the Feng Shui Engine shimmers like a faint purple star in the depths of her pupil as the impossibly powerful battle computer analyzes the infiltrator in ways that she doesn't even understand.

Every single possible detail is recorded and parsed hundreds of times a second, creating a pattern of possibility. The twitch of his muscles as he strains to keep the doctor's limp form held up like a shield. The rapid patter of his heartbeat as adrenaline steadily pours into his veins to combat the fear and anxiety. The temperature of his body against the background of the still burning wreckage and the hot desert sands. The movement of his eyes and the dilation of his pupils as they constantly make imperceptible adjustments that give away a hundred other little details that might betray his intentions. The sheer predictive power of the Engine alone would make even a moderately talented fighter into a force of nature. In Juri's case, it makes her a verifiable nightmare.

Charlie's request that she dismiss what is obviously an overwhelming advantage in her favor earns him a quirked eyebrow. Certainly he can't be appealing to some sort of code of honor that might compel her to even the odds. Which means that he is under the belief that she will be unwilling to chance the possibility that he's bluffing about taking the doctor out.

His assumption that Vega's subordinates are in general too terrified of displeasing the tyrant to risk playing chicken with him is quite accurate. It is well known that the old butt-chin has a rather dismal opinion of those who fail to meet his standards. That Evil Overlord list was practically written with people like him in mind.

"Wow... and here I was thinking that it was my job to deliver ominous ultimatums."

The girl smirks at him, resting her hands on her hips in a manner that indicates she is not terribly worried about his threat. She makes no move to reposition herself as Charlie shuffles around to interpose her between the gunship and himself. The helicopter's pilot isn't stupid enough to open fire with her even vaguely in the path of destruction nor does she have any need of it to protect her. Let him squirm around for every little scrap of hope he can muster, it won't change anything about the outcome.

"You hear that, doc? G.I. Joker here says he's gonna waste you to save his own skin. Some rescue, huh?"

She shakes her head, giving Nash at wry smile as she shrugs her arms up into the air. Her tone practically drips with malicious pleasure intermingled with the sultry velvet of her voice, poisonous words stinging at him as viciously as a blade.

"Normally, I'd say a guy like him is just bluffing. Doesn't sound like a very heroic thing to do, does it? Murdering some poor innocent schmuck just because he knows the wrong things."

Her eyes narrow into lazy slits as her grin shifts into a knowing smile. The tip of her tongue emerges from between her thin lips, tracing a slow and sensual path across them as if preparing to savor a particularly delicious meal. She leans forward, cocking her hips out at a jaunty angle as her hands return to rest upon them, making a theatrical show of each exaggerated movement to rapt audience that has no choice but to endure every exaggerated movement with intense focus.

"But then these soldier types are all about 'doing what's necessary', aren't they? Someone has to make the hard decisions. Nothing personal, guy! Just... following... orders."

She draws each of those words out, relishing in exposing the twisted hypocrisy of those that would call themselves agent of good. There aren't any saints here. Whatever cause he might believe he fights for, Nash taints its very principles by the actions he has taken. He's no different than she is, someone willing to dirty their hands to get what they want. He might pretty it up with excuses like 'defending freedom' or 'fighting tyranny' but at the end of the day he's just another killer wielding power against those less capable than himself because he can.

That or he's bluffing, though she doubts it. But who knows? There's only one way to find out. Either way, the results will be entertaining.

The teenager takes a step forward, her lips peeling back into a ferocious toothy grin as she stares at Nash with undisguised anticipation. She doesn't give a flying rat's ass if he offs the doctor. Maybe Vega will gets his boxers in a twist about it, maybe not. Charlie's mistake is in assuming that the insane she-devil in front of him holds any fear of the tyrant's wrath. In fact, there is probably no one still living that is more likely to do something contrary to Vega's desires out of sheer spite than she. All she was told was to respond to an emergency distress call. Not her fault they didn't specify the details of that.

Malicious compliance, thy name is Juri.

COMBATSYS: Charlie has started a fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Charlie          0/-------/------=|

COMBATSYS: Juri has joined the fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Charlie          0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0             Juri

For all his experience, training and skill, Major Charlie Nash is still just a man. He might have earned a reputation as the greatest soldier the US Military has produced in decades - but such a title means little when facing someone who was not only raised to be a monster, but also twisted and changed to better fit the role. Can she even rightly be called human at this point, Charlie wonders, being so far removed from mankind both physically and mentally?

They have intel, of course, on her activities as a Shadaloo agent - but there is no such information available on exactly /what/ Lord Vega had done to turn the young girl into a merciless killing machine. Even the nature of the Feng Shui Engine remains an enigma to the United States Government, and not for lack of trying... for all the advanced military technology back home, some things remain beyond the understanding of even DARPA science teams.

They only have two real chances to get answers about the experiments carried out on the girl: taking Vega alive for questioning, or dissecting the body of Juri Han herself. And both of those 'possibilities' are comical to Charlie; he certainly has no illusions of either situation ever coming to fruition. How could they, when Shadaloo's power has grown so strong in so short a time?

Is victory even possible, at this point? The terrorist organization has done an excellent job of corrupting and subverting the hierarchy of the federal government - as well as the armed forces of his homeland - and they have had no success in doing the same to Shadaloo. It seems that Vega's grip over his own men far exceeds the USA's own ability to root out spies and traitors in /their/ midst. It seems, then, that it is better to be feared than respected - and few alive can demand as much fear as the dictator and his elite enforcers.

Case in point: the current situation. Despite the fact that Nash is holding a gun to his temple, Sokolov's fear of an unarmed 19 year old girl has overtaken any concern he might have about catching a .45 round to the head. That alone paints a very vivid picture of the differences between the two fighters; there can be no comparison in the ability to elicit mortal terror, or the fearsomeness of their respective reputations.

He's not begging Charlie to save him; he's simply begging Juri /not/ to kill him, as though the former weren't even a possibility.

But even though it unsettles Nash, and though he has no desire to throw his life away foolishly, he has a reason not to simply flee in terror back into the facility. The remaining three men who set out on this mission are in there... and if he can buy them just a few minutes to try and locate another exit, it's enough reason for him to stand his ground.

It seems, though, that Juri has decided to call his bluff in a rather decisive way. She doesn't order the gunship away, nor does she step away from Charlie and his rescuee-turned-hostage. She /approaches/ him.

One step is all it takes for the Major to make up his mind; playing the waiting game here doesn't do him any good. Juri is such a force of nature that each step she takes towards Dr. Sokolov makes it more of a certainty that she might snatch him out of Charlie's hands, before then turning her devilish attention back to the soldier once more.


If Nash were hesitant about taking this next step, there's no indication beyond the single word spoken to his captive - not the slightest twitch or grimace as he calmly depresses the trigger on the 1911 Operator to silence Sokolov's muffled pleading. The firearm's report cuts through the palpable tension as decisively as the gunship had cut through Charlie's squad - and in an instant, the man's body hits sand, the .45 round having blown brains and skull fragments out the side of his head.

The very minor upper hand he had, briefly, is gone with the the scientist's last breath. And now, there is very little reason for Juri or the heavily-armed helicopter to not end Nash's life this moment.

But even though he has little fear of his duty - and life - ending as a bloody puddle on foreign soil, he has no desire to see it happen without first gaining some semblance of revenge upon the organization which his opponent represents.

A split-second to consider his options as Sokolov's vital fluid and brain matter continue to stain what little sand remained unbloodied... and none of them are particularly attractive to the razor-sharp, analytical commanding officer.

There's a single advantage he has on the Shadaloo agent; and that's his own considerably heavier bulk. Not physical /power/, persay - she still eclipses him in that regard - but weight and mass... and the best way to make use of that very slight edge? Getting in close, past even striking distance, and grappling the much smaller frame of Juri Han.

It's a thing that would be a death sentence to most individuals alive today - even among the supernatural threats which have made themselves known in recent years - but it's his only chance to start the fight on anything resembling a level playing field... and it serves to prevent the Hind from firing its weapons, lest its munitions strike the elite enforcer herself.

He /rushes/ the girl, long stride and powerful legs carrying him across the sand in a flash of motion - heart pounding in his chest the entire way, as he charges towards what might well be certain death. There is, noticeably, another motion with his hand - reaching behind his back and grabbing /something/ off of his belt before tossing it in an arc high over Juri's head and towards the Hind E.

As close as they were, it only takes fractions of a second for Nash to reach her... and then he ducks low and to the side, long, burly arms opening as he passes. There's an attempt to wrap both limbs around Juri's slender, toned waist... it's like the trained soldier were walking willingly into a beartrap, getting so close to such a massive threat.. but if he's successful, he applies crushing force and throws himself backwards - attempting to lift Juri up and over his head, before slamming her neck back and down into the bloody, gory sand.

And the object that went flying through the air mere seconds before he reached the reaper leering at him? An M67 grenade, aimed to land on the ground just in front of the helicopter's primary cannon. It /may/ not be enough to destroy the entire craft - as heavily armoured as it is... but it /should/ be enough to wreck the primary threat of its main anti-personnel weapon.

Assuming things go as planned, of course.

But plans rarely survive an encounter with the enemy...

COMBATSYS: Juri blocks Charlie's Dragon Suplex.

[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Charlie          0/-------/-----==|-------\-------\0             Juri

And just like that she finds out what kind of man Charlie Nash is.

Of course, Shadaloo has all sorts of information on the soldier gathered from a multitude of sources. He's never done much to hide his identity or his allegiances, proudly supporting his nation on the open circuits to the fanfare of the crowds while quietly dirtying his hands with black ops such as this when no one is looking. He's been a thorn in the organization's side for quite some time giving them plenty of opportunities to compile data. But there's a distinct difference between some dusty old dossier telling her that Nash is a cold and calculating fighter willing to do dark deeds and seeing it for herself.

One single word is uttered and with it the doctor's fate is sealed. Juri's eyes widen in manic anticipation as she realizes that the crazy bastard is actually about to pull the trigger and kill an innocent man simply to keep him out of enemy hands. Death has always fascinated her ever since she had her own brutal dance with the reaper. Only the miracles of modern medical science had kept her alive after an assault rifle round had ripped into her face, shattering her left eye while somehow failing to scramble her noodle into a messy paste. The world would likely have been better of if she'd died that day alongside her parents. Instead, it gave birth to one of the most dangerous spirits of vengeance to ever live.

Time seems to slow down to almost nothing as the Engine ramps her senses up to preternatural levels allowing the girl to watch the deed in intricate detail. A thrill runs down her spine as Nash callously pulls the trigger, creating a messy cascade of cause and effect in the form of a plume of red mist that erupts from the opposite side of the doctor's head. The utter lack of emotion in his eyes when he'd done the deed was absolutely chilling, evoking some deep subconscious instinct that told her to flee in terror from a dangerous beast.

For most people, that surge of silent unthinking terror would likely have sent them scampering away as fast as possible, thousands of years of evolved survival instincts compelling a flight from danger. But for Juri, that sensation is more akin to the muted pleasure one gets from watching a scary movie. There is a surge of tingling emotion and that brief moment of panic before you remember that the terror playing out before you has no real power and that the automatic fear response you experienced is just all part of the fun. She revels in that moment, her eyes sliding halfway shut like a junkie sinking into the unrivaled pleasure of a good fix.

And then everything starts to speed up again as Nash realizes that he's got no choice but to fight. Despite her laconic expression, Juri reacts to the wild rush as quickly and smoothly as if she'd known precisely what he was going to do; and in a sense, that's exactly what happened.

A faint mechanical hum fills the air as the Feng Shui Engine engages its battle routines, snapping from passive analysis and data support to real-time predictive cogitation. More than a dozen possible outcomes of the soldier's sudden lunge play out in span of a thought, each scenario being fed directly into Juri's mind and overlayed atop her vision like an augmented reality display. The computer sorts through the data and quickly determines the most probable course of action based on an immeasurable host of different factors, predicting both Nash's tackle and his attempt at subtle sabotage.

If she'd had time, Juri would have rolled her eyes at the grenade. The armored hull of the helicopter is all but immune to anything short of anti-tank munitions. He might get lucky and manage to send a few shards of shrapnel into one of the gap and short out a circuit or some such but the odds of him actually doing real harm to the bird aren't even worth bothering to calculate. But the fact that he took the time to even try tells her a lot about where the man's concerns lie. Still fretting over the possibility of being shot to ribbons? The fool. Getting obliterated by the cannons might be a mercy compared to what she's going to do to him.

In light of the fact that there's now a deadly anti-personnel ordinance detonating not far off, his method of attack against her directly makes even less sense. Why throw her behind him when that just puts Nash between her and the grenade blast? And that chopper for that matter. Even if it did manage to disable the cannon or keep her close enough that they couldn't fire at him, what's to stop the pilot from popping the canopy and plugging him with his sidearm? Who's to say there isn't a fully armed squad still lurking in the troop hold within its armored belly? Desperation is making him sloppy.

For her own part, Juri seems more amused than perturbed at being hauled into the overhead toss. Nash's thick muscular arms easily encircle her slender waist, her meager weight proving no obstacle to the act of lifting her up into the throw. But rather than allow her arms to get pinned at her sides, the nimble teen throws them up above her at the last moment leaving them free to react as the ground rushes up to meet her head.

Her palms thrust upwards, relative to her own perspective, fingers splaying wide as they sink into the warm sand. Her elbows bend as they absorb the brunt of the fall and she deftly tucks her head down against her chest as the momentum carries her laterally into the fall, rolling nimbly away into a tumble that pops her back up onto her feet.

"Pfeh," she says, spitting to one side while dusting her hands on the front of her poofy pants. "I fucking hate fighting in sand..."

Behind Nash, the grenade has about as much of an impact as Juri had surmised it would. A loud noise, a lot of sand being thrown around, and not much being accomplished. Dozens of tiny little fragments of metal, the deadly shrapnel meant to shred anything living in the blast radius into chunky bits of salsa, protrude from the exterior of the helicopter's rounded hide like the thorns of a cactus. Tiny wafts of smoke rise from several of the punctures, the metal superheated to a blazing red by the friction of grinding its way into the armored hull. The turret itself shares a similar fate, though whether or not it's disabled is difficult to tell. At the very least the flood light has been smashed apart, leaving the two combatants to square in the inconsistent light of the still smoldering wreckage.

"And here I thought you were supposed to be smart," Juri says, sneering at him rather than hurling herself straight into the fray. "Or were you planning to walk all the way back to the nearest settlement on foot? And after I went through all the trouble to provide you with a convenient getaway, too."

The teenager gestures at the helicopter like Vana White revealing the weekly prize on the Price is Right, flashing Nash another toothy grin.

"It's all yours for the taking. Assuming you -can- take it, that is. So, come on, soldier boy! Time to entertain me and earn your prize! Hahaha!"

To say that Juri lunges forward as she launches her attack would be a gross mischaracterization of what actually happens. The girl practically blurs as she explodes into motion, closing the gap between the two of them so fast that its belies belief. One of her long legs snaps up as she moves, her bare foot swinging up and around to try and hook over the back of the soldier's head. Being caught in that bizarre grapple would prove that despite her looks, Shadaloo's secret weapon is feared for a reason.

Raw power and flawless technique combine into an unorthodox maneuver that no one sane would ever attempt. She attempts to drag his head down with her foot, bending the much taller man in half. Rather than face-plant him into the sand, however, she releases her grip when his head is around waist level and rapidly shifts her leg into the opposite direction, driving her knee up to slam square into his chin like a battering ram. The force of that impact is such that it will lift him straight off the ground, leaving him open to an easy follow up as she pirouettes in mid-air to deliver a jarring side-kick to his midsection with enough force to send him sailing backwards a good ten feet.

COMBATSYS: Juri successfully hits Charlie with Karen Geri.

[     \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Charlie          0/-------/--=====|===----\-------\0             Juri

The gulf between Charlie's public-facing role as the 'virtuous, upstanding legend of the armed forces' and the /reality/ of the hardened commando - willing to do /anything/ to carry out his orders - is a wide one, indeed. It's one of the many reasons that he and his men go into these sorts of operations with their faces covered; done as much to protect his reputation as a 'heroic figure' of the US Military, as it is to prevent reprisal against his soldiers should their identities be discovered by the enemy.

He was sent here to bring the professor back to the United States for a thorough debriefing and relocation into a DARPA facility... and failing that? To spread the dangerous bioterrorism knowledge in that man's brain all over the desert sand. In that regard, the job is done the moment Sokolov hits the ground - the corpse followed shortly by Charlie's pistol. He knows enough about the savage he faces in this hellish desert to be aware that such a weapon will afford him zero tactical advantage. It might as well be a paperweight against the full strength of Vega's most dangerous enforcer; less than useless.

And despite the fact that he's treasured that firearm for years, serving him well on countless missions in innumerable countries, he is not the type to get overly attached to anyone or anything. It only gets in the way of his effectiveness in the field, after all. There will be other guns; there will be other /soldiers/, even, to replace the ones fallen here toda.

What consumes Nash's mind more than the cold-blooded murder of an unarmed civilian is the look on Juri's face as she watches; rather than being bothered by Shadaloo being robbed of the man's expertise, she looks positively glowing from the very moment the trigger is depressed. Sure, he might take a life when he has to, but he's never been remotely happy about it - let alone visibly satisfied. It was always just part of the job, something he did in the service of a greater cause. But Juri? If she derives this much pleasure from watching someone die, he shudders to think how wonderful she finds it when she's the one doing the killing.

Unfortunately, it seems he might have signed himself up for a front-row seat to witness precisely that. But he's in too deep, now - maybe even from the very moment they were assigned to come here and rescue some Russian virologist, from what turned out to be the target of Charlie Nash's own personal crusade. Had he known it were Shadaloo, it wouldn't have changed his decision - but who could have anticipated that such a fearsome backup would be called to intercept his team before they'd even left the facility?

Even as he rushes down the distance towards Juri Han, his mind - constantly combing over every piece of available data to plot any conceivable possibility - comes to one chilling conclusion...

Did someone tip Vega or his men about this mission? The reaction was almost /too/ quick to make anything else a remote possibility. Another slithering tendril of Shadaloo rising past the choppy waves of the US Military, making itself known for just one instant before sinking back into the safety of those depths.

Moving towards the gunship's cannon appears to have been a calculated risk on his part; if they wanted to blow him to smithereens, they had ample opportunity to do it. Apparently Sokolov's life wasn't a huge concern to the girl giving orders, so it wasn't /his/ presence that held back the hail of bullets. The specific reason he wasn't shredded the second he stepped out of the underground facility escapes him for the time being; but he can make a few assumptions, knowing what he does about Juri's sadistic love for combat with 'worthy' opponents. And with that knowledge in his head from the moment he saw her silhouette against the flames outside, he was able to make a gamble that bought his remaining men a few precious minutes - if nothing else.

As he throws himself backwards with Juri in his clutches, he can't help but wonder how such a slight individual could be capable of so much chaos - of utterly breaking so many trained and experienced fighters and soldiers through her years as Vega's prototype Doll. But he's learned - sometimes the hard way - that appearances meant little; if only things were as simple as that.

Juri takes the suplex like it were nothing more than a choreographed dance step... not that the Major had expected anything else. Appearances /might/ be decieving, but a person's reputation rarely is - one of the few things which is still earned in this backwards world.

In Charlie's head, a metronome has been ticking away from the very moment he pulled the pin on the grenade - he's not so foolish to toss an explosive device and then dash towards it without planning on hitting the deck when it finally does go off. When his back hits the sand at the end of his suplex, he rolls onto his stomach - immersing his front in the sand that is still sucking up his unit's blood and guts - to watch the device explode right at the front of the Hind E. It's effect is questionable at best, but the squad's two assigned demolitions experts - with all the heavy explosives that might actually put a dent in the thing - are busy at the moment... one plastered all over the sand, the other hopefully finding some alternative way out of the facility underneath them. At the very least, it gets rid of that goddamn blinding searchlight that was being kept in his eyes - he doesn't need any /more/ disadvantages in this fight.

Pushing himself off the ground, Charlie doesn't bother to dust the sand or gore off himself - he's sure he'll be back on the ground again before too long. And he's been a hell of a lot dirtier than this for a much, much longer period of time during previous missions - soldiers often don't have the luxury of fastidiousness while in the field.

The Major is hardly on his feet before Juri is back to her smug and mocking ways; from her perspective she may have a point, the camels they arrived on having largely joined his team in being cut down by the grounded gunship, and the few that lived have long ago made their escape from this hellish scene... and the US Military isn't well-liked in this part of the world, for valid reasons. Fortunately, the CIA still has some reach where the Armed Forces does not; even if the helicopter she'd arrived in were disabled, and /if/ he managed to walk away from this one, he'd be able to resupply and find transport in Al-Labweh, only 2 or 3 kilometers from this place... assuming Charlie was still breathing after this little encounter played out.

"Nice night for a stroll," he says dryly in response to her question about his plans to walk to the nearest village - there's not a hint of humour in his tone or expression. How could there be? The tension is too thick, and he's still trying to focus entirely on her movements, a desperate attempt to find an exploitable weakness in her technique... maybe a foolish hope, but he'll cling to what little hope he /can/ find here.

When the girl moves, not even Charlie's keen eyes can keep up with the blur of motion - and when she reaches him he is easily manuevered into a move which his mind can hardly comprehend, given the inhuman speed with which Juri moves. Such style and technique are rarely seen on the field of battle, where practicality and simplicity reign supreme. It is almost effortlessly intricate; flashy in a way that speaks to a casual confidence and overwhelming power behind it. Before he can even register the position he is being bent in, he finds her bony kneecap slamming upwards from underneath his chin.

Nash first feels his feet lift off the ground, and then a kick... but it hurts a hell of a lot worse than it has any right to. The impact hits him like a shotgun blast fired point blank into his gut, pushing him several feet back through the air to finally tumble and roll gracelessly through the bloody sand - staining more than just his uniform this time. When his body comes to a stop, crimson gore is plastered on his face and every other inch of exposed skin - and in that fabulously styled blonde hair, as well.

A cough scatters grains of sand through the air in front of his face, as he presses one fist into the ground to slowly push himself up - first to one knee, then finally back to his feet. It only takes a few moments for him to return to a standing position - a testament to his hardiness, and the quality of the custom flak jacket he was wearing... he hesitates to consider the extent of the damage he might have sustained had he not been wearing the vest. But even those few moments would have been more than enough time for the Shadaloo agent to rush back at him and snap his neck, or something /worse/.

Is this really all a game to her?

The very idea is enough to bring a brief snarl to the corner of Charlie's lips - a brief lapse in his usually stoic expression... he is only a man, at the end of the day, and even his cold exterior shows its cracks from time to time. The fact that he only slips /that/ much, given the overwhelming anger fighting against the terror in his gut, is a testament to his self-control.

Well, if she wants to play, who is he to deny her? Every second he keeps fighting means one more second for the last three members of his team to get the hell out of here. At least one of them still has a radio, if they come up in any place with reception they should be able to get back home.

With that in the back of his mind, he rushes forward towards Juri once again; leaping straight back into the jaws of death, just to buy his men some time. And maybe, just maybe, get a bit of revenge for his soldiers who fell here today.

This time he doesn't go for a grab; she's proven herself able to deal with those well enough, her body capable of twisting into positions which make a harsh landing almost impossible. No, he has to go back to basics... and a dirty trick or two. One hand comes up to grip the shemagh's knot underneath his neck - deftly untying the folded fabric, stained with dripping blood from his roll through the sand. A quick loop around his neck, and its freed - one end twisted around the knuckles of his right hand, the other swinging through the air as he approaches his opponent. Snapping that hand up, he sends the end of the shemagh flying forward before reaching the end of its length and snapping back - the motion creates a small splatter of blood aimed towards her eyes... another gambit, trying to make the playing field remotely even for just a /second/, on the off chance it will make her vulnerable to his next move.

Now within striking distance, he does just that - whether or not the blood has successfully distracted Juri - and lashes out with his left fist to try and plant those knuckles into her kidney. It's not fancy, and it's not pretty, but nothing about Charlie Nash - or this mission - is.

COMBATSYS: Juri dodges Charlie's Aggressive Strike.

[      \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Charlie          0/-------/--=====|===----\-------\0             Juri

The satisfying crunch of bone on bone sends a tremor through Juri's legs as she connects with her brutal assault. The impacts cause her a bit of pain in return - you don't hit someone that hard without hurting yourself a little in the process - but like any skilled martial artist she's trained to harden her body into a lethal weapon, driven herself to obsession in her desire to gain the strength and power she needs.

The results speak for themselves. Despite being almost a foot shorter and half his weight, the teenage girl throws Charlie across the sands with no more effort than if she were kicking a big G.I. shaped pillow. And that was without calling upon her latent psychic powers to augment the strike.

No doubt Charlie has heard a great deal about the destructive potential of the murderous child he now faces. Entire squads of professional soldiers wiped out, armored vehicles rent asunder as if struck by anti-tank weapons, even entire buildings reduced to little more than smoking rubble. But, other than the aftermath, the details of the threat she poses are largely speculation. There are few who have witnessed what she is truly capable of and walked away to talk about it.

The first thing Nash sees when he recovers from being kicked halfway across the desert is that manic grin. Once more the girl's posture has settled into a stereotypical example of teenage insouciance, her body language and expression showing little signs that she might be locked in a life or death battle. From her perspective this deadly trained killer is little more than a mild diversion, a bit of fun to distract her from the fact that she's stuck playing babysitter for some random project out in the middle of a blasted hellscape. The very possibility that she might somehow be in danger would be laughable if she'd ever bothered to take it seriously.

It really is just a game to her.

The first signs of cracks in the hardened soldier's mask begin to surface as his mouth twists up in obvious anger at her lack of care for the harm she's caused. Juri shudders slightly as goose bumps surface across her skin under that harsh glare. Such ferocious spirit behind those eyes! She's going to thoroughly enjoy trampling all over this man's pride.

Once again time appears to dilate as the furious warrior hurls himself at Juri in a courageous attempt to sell his life as dearly as possible. It is a selfless and brave act, one which will no doubt get all sorts of accolades and medals pinned to coffin when they bury the remains. Such desperate heroism! It's almost enough to bring a tear to her eye - because she's laughing that hard on the inside.

Nash's sucker punch accomplishes even less than his first attempt to inflict harm upon the girl. Once again she seems to be able to read him like an open book, her left eye shimmering with a faint spark of unnatural power in the flickering shadows. By the time he's started to whip the cloth in her direction Juri is already moving, casually sidestepping out of the path of the blood splatter meant to temporarily blind her. She doesn't even bother to take her hands off her hips as she evades the underhanded trick, giving him a look of amused contempt that he thought something so basic would even have a chance to work.

Naturally, without her distracted by the gory opening gambit his body blow proves to be an utter waste of time. No, worse than that - it leaves him open to retaliation as the agile teenager proves precisely how absurd her skills are.

Leaning backwards as the fist comes flying in her direction, Juri once again extends her arms upwards and transitions into a graceful backflip that looks more like a gymnastic routine than a martial display. Charlie's punch whiffs over her midriff by centimeters but they might as well have been miles for all the good it does him. Her legs tauntingly brush past his head as they flip up and over, the long limbs somehow managing to make the gesture sensual and suggestive even as she avoids his attack.

Tittering like a schoolgirl, Juri lands nimbly on her feet a few paces away from Charlie. She leans backwards again, more slowly this time, stretching the gesture out like an exotic dancer putting on a display. Considering what she's wearing, she pulls it off pretty damn well too.

"Mmm... I can tell you're getting worked up now. Turn those chilling eyes of yours this way and watch closely..."

Back and back she leans, somehow managing to maintain her balance until the very last moment when the laws of reality firmly assert themselves and force her to tip over. Rather than tumble to the ground, however, she daintily hops on the foot still planted on the ground and launches herself into an elegant somersault.

There is a sudden flash of blazing neon power as Juri's foot snaps up into the air. A crescent of searing magenta energy ripples from the arc of her kick and explodes towards Charlie, tearing across the darkness like a purple comet of death.

COMBATSYS: Charlie blocks Juri's Fuhajin.

[        \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Charlie          0/-------/-======|====---\-------\0             Juri

Too fast...

Keeping his breath steady and his attacks as effecient as possible, Charlie does his best to maintain some level of stoicism despite feelings of concern and not-inconsiderable anger that rise up in his chest. His face shows no sign of frustration as the girl effortlessly sidesteps his dirty trick - and without that succeeding, the chances of him landing with any blow are close to zero.

Still, he throws the punch regardless - he /has/ to try... and predictably, Juri is far too swift and agile to be struck by the larger man. Her feet come within millimeters of hitting his face as she bends backwards and flips away; an insulting gesture, particularly since Charlie /knows/ she could have struck him had she really wanted to.

She's toying with him, that much is obvious... and for a man raised on the field of battle, it would wound his pride... /if/ he allowed himself such an emotion. But ego was never the province of such a dedicated patriot; if it were, he would surely have been driven mad by the disrespect paid onto the Armed Forces by the very citizens it was duty-bound to protect. No, Major Nash had long ago cut ties with such things; he was a weapon to be used in the service of his country, less of a man than a living, breathing tool to be deployed by his commanders.

Taking a brief step backwards as the girl gracefully lands a few feet away, Charlie is noticeably unaffected by her sensual display; perhaps such methods might serve to distract less disciplined men or women, but Major Nash has much better control over his baser urges. Though it's likely her actions are as much for her own amusement, as an attempt to influence Charlie's behaviour in the fight... almost like Juri gets off on being as risque and over-the-top as possible, to drive home the point that this is just entertainment for her.

There's not even even a facial twitch or whispered 'damnit' under his breath as the Shadaloo elite escapes his strike with casual ease. There was never any expectation that this would be a simple matter, and his honest analysis of the gap in their abilities puts his odds of victory here far below the average individual's comfort level. Indeed, most would have had their morale broken the second it was evident what sort of monster they were facing in this wasteland of fire, sand and blood.

But the fact is, Major Nash isn't running. He won't. And it is no foolish desire for martyrdom that keeps his nerves in check - at least as much as one could possibly expect in this dire situation - and his fear from taking hold of him. More than the lives of his remaining men, he feels obliged to show the steely will that still exists among many members of the US Military. For too long, Shadaloo has operated with near-total impunity - and lack of regard for any possible opposition from the American government.

Charlie never expected the leader of that terrorist organization to /fear/ his country and its soldiers... no, that was hoping for far too much - and he is an eternal realist, if nothing else. But at the very least he is going to make sure those sons of bitches /respect/ him and his brothers-in-arms. Even if that means standing firm in the face of certain death; if it proves a point to his enemies, and provides a shining example of bravery to all those who serve their country, then he would consider his death a righteous one.

And if he manages to /survive/ this encounter - a possibility that seems to grow less likely with each exchange of blows between the two - then he might carry a great prize back to SecDef... not Dr. Sokolov, of course, that moment has passed. But there are precious few who have faced Juri Han in battle and lived to tell about it; even witnesses to her full capabilities are hard to come by. If he manages to push her even a /bit/, to get her to show off her true power, and he manages to get out of here alive... well, the intel he carries with him from this fight might be even more precious than the knowledge which the dead scientist possessed.

Another impressive gymnastic display from the lithe and flexible warrior, but Charlie isn't about to give her a round of applause and suggest she join the ballet; instead, he's already braced for the attack he /knows/ is coming. When the crescent of psycho power burns through the air towards him, he's ready for it - or as ready as anyone /could/ be. Both forearms are lifted in an 'x' to cover his chest, and though mere muscle would do little to absorb the impact of the deadly power which Vega had bestowed upon his 'underling', there is a small hint of something deeper with the Major... a faint blue covers his arms for just a split-second before and during impact. And though the pain which still cuts through his defenses causes a fresh gritting of his teeth - and a noticeable, albeit brief, tremor through his arms - there is little lasting damage to be scene, and he is able to remain on his feet.

His combat boots dug firmly into the sand underfoot, Nash straights his back and rolls his neck - cracking the joints made stiff with tension, as he attempts to push back the doubts and concerns that threaten his focus. Cold, almost dead eyes stare across the short distance towards Juri - meeting her gaze without so much as a flinch from the outmatched soldier... the man has ice water in his veins, that much is apparent. But is such a coldness and calmness in the face of danger enough to even the odds?

Even his abilities to read and react to a rapidly changing situation are easily matched by Juri's Feng Shui Engine; though Charlie himself is unaware of the exact nature of it. Even though he may not know the reason why, he has observed her ability to effortlessly twist and change with the flow of battle - eclipsing his own powers of observation.

The index and middle fingers of his right hand press together, rising up to where his clear-framed eyeglasses rest on his face - pushing them up the bridge of his nose as he stands firm in his place.

"I'm still watching. Anything else you wanted to show me?"

The first words out of his mouth since he apologized to Dr. Sokolov just before murdering him in cold blood. Charlie Nash clearly isn't a chatty one; and even if he were, the current state of affairs hardly affords him the opportunity to be glib - unlike his opponent, who seems to feel confident in her abilities to dominate him at will.

It's likely that Juri is observant and tuned-in to him enough to notice, that once he has finished speaking there is an imperceptible surge of energy surrounding his body. Nothing visible, but a deep wellspring of power rising up from deep within... his well-hidden reserves of chi becoming to bubble up and rise to the surface, empowering his frame with an aura that only the truly keen-sensed would be able to register.

COMBATSYS: Charlie pushes his glasses up the bridge of his nose!!

[        \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Charlie          1/----===/=======|====---\-------\0             Juri

Charlie's defense against the girl's overtly showy attack is impressive, if simple. Though the technique was but a paltry display of the true power she commands, such blasts had proven capable of shattering solid stone walls and rendering automobiles into crumpled wreckage. The faint nimbus of power that he calls forth to disperse the energy downgrades the attack from psychic wrecking ball to psychic sledgehammer - still painful but a great deal more survivable.

By the time he's recovered from the impact, Juri has already completed her backflip and settled immediately back into a lazy slouch. Nash's attempt to engage in banter with her earns a lopsided smile from the girl, her eyes twinkling with amusement. Apparently no one ever told him that the only way to avoid encouraging a bully is not to acknowledge them. All he's done with his attempt to look unimpressed is to get her more invested in making sure she changes his mind.

"Oh, don't you worry, big guy," she purrs, her tone somehow seeming to recharacterize every word she utters in the language of suggestive innuendo and ominous threat at the same time. "That was just a little peek. This show is just getting started."

After a couple moments of staring each other down, it becomes obvious that the soldier has chosen to adopt a different tactic. His attempts to attack her directly have proven comically ineffective, her reactive speed and ability to predict his actions making her almost impossible to pin down. So instead he plans on letting her make the first move this time, likely hoping to spot an opening in her defenses when she launches her own offensive. It's not a terrible idea, in theory; the issue is whether or not being prepared to face down a speeding train actually makes any difference to the outcome.

The teenager regards him with a knowing smirk, letting Nash know that she's aware of precisely what he's up to. More to the point, she doesn't actually care. If it helps him put up a decent fight before she tears him apart then she can afford him a few moments to gather his resolve.

"Aww, what's the matter, tough guy? You getting shy on me?"

She leans forward again in her slinky manner, rolling her torso in a playful manner that draws attention to her feminine charms, sickly sweet saccharine dripping from her words.

"Well, don't you worry. I'm a progressive sort of girl. And that means sometimes I have to take the lead!"

Again Juri seems to transition from a posture more suited to propositioning men on the street to hurling in the soldier's direction with mayhem in mind so fast that it belies belief. A cloud of sand explodes behind her when she darts forward, evoking imagery of the old Road Runner cartoons as she narrows the gap between them in the span of a couple heartbeats.

One slender leg snaps up as she draws near, her knee tucking up against her side in the telltale wind-up of an impending side kick. This quickly proves to be a ruse. The teen suddenly drops low at the last moment, swinging her upraised leg out into a wide spinning sweep that comes in hard and fast at ankle level.

Whether the surprise low blow manages to take his legs out from under him or Charlie proves quick enough to defend himself, Juri's legs don't stop at a single rotation. More of that destructive neon power blazes to life in swaths of magenta fire as she pirouettes into a rising tornado of successive kicks, her body twisting like a gyroscope as she defies gravity to unleash a maelstrom of pain.

COMBATSYS: Charlie fails to interrupt Kaisenrenkyaku from Juri with Justice Shell.

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Charlie          0/-------/-<<<<<<|======-\-------\0             Juri

Well, it seems like his words have had some effect - with Juri apparently taking them as some encouragement to kick things up a notch. Nash should have known that the twisted and sadistic mind of the Korean girl would be more than willing to oblige in showing him a bit more; attempting to prod a creature such as her is a bold play at the best of times, which these are most decisively /not/.

But at this point, the Major is commited - even fighting a casual, relaxed Juri is unlikely to end well for him. This way, there is the chance he might carry some useful information about the true extent of her power back with him; if he's manages to survive, through blind luck or the whims of fate... or Juri herself. What better way to truly wound Charlie, then to thoroughly defeat the dutiful patriot and then let him /live/?

Death seems almost preferable to /that/ possibility.

His opponent doesn't seem willing to press the attack immediately, perhaps anticipating another aggressive assault from the soldier; but it's clear within moments that Nash isn't about to take another step. His patience is well-known to his own men and commanders, spending weeks in one spot - surviving off insects and roots - waiting for a target to make itself known, or just the right moment to strike. This is little difference in this situation; if anything, the stakes are even higher here... and though he feels confident that Juri could end him at will, he doesn't want to give her any openings if he can avoid it. Even if victory is unattainable, he can do his damnedest to make her /work/ for that sadistic pleasure, which she seems to be in the throes of.

He's said his piece, regardless, and there are no further words thrown out in response to Juri's mocking reply - even the /tone/ of her voice gets on Charlie's nerves. That easy confidence when facing someone of his status; how is it right that she be gifted such power, without truly earning it? Whatever Vega did to her was a /mistake/, that much is clear... to take a young girl - mercurial and unpredictable at the best of times, ruled by their hormones and emotions - and gift them power that approaches that of a demigod?

Insanity. Pure hubris on the part of Shadaloo's Lord. Nash can only hope that, in time, the full extent of his error in judgement, and the ego that surely drove such a decision, destroys him and all he has built.

The only question is: how many will have to suffer before that comes to pass?

One leg shuffles back as Juri makes clear that she's not about to wait for the man to make the first move here; Major Nash clearly preparing to brace himself against yet another brutal attack. She's so slippery, so fast, so agile, that he feels he has one option here; to utilize his own hardiness, and strike her when she is in the middle of her next assault. Easier said than done, but it is perhaps his only chance to land a blow on the evasive Shadaloo killer.

The girl's body seems to shift into an imperceptible blur of motion once again, but this time Charlie is slightly attuned to her almost supernatural speed... he's ready for it, or as ready as he will ever be. She lifts her leg up, preparing for what appears to be a side-kick - the fact that Nash can even /register/ the motion, considering her speed, is almost a miracle in and of itself. He shifts his weight to his back leg as another surge of power wells up within him, filling his limbs with a vigor and energy far greater than any normal man would be capable of. He's about to drop into a quick crouch and unleash his own attack, a technique practiced for over a decade to serve as an efficient and swift counterattack...

...but Juri has tricks of her own, clearly. At the last second, her speed seems to double - and she shifts her stance, no longer aiming for a regular kick. She drops /low/, and in that moment Charlie knows he has lost his chance... her limbs strikes his right ankle, hitting with a force that completely robs him of his footing - and possibly even dislocating the joint itself, so sickening is the *crack* which echoes out into the early desert morning. His body no longer touching the ground, Charlie is easy prey for the remainder of Juri's spinning kicks, her unbelievably strong legs slamming into his body from bottom to top... and before she's done, one foot hits the side of his face at eye-level.

One lens of his eyeglasses is shattered instantly, with one of the two arms snapping off and burying itself in the sand a dozen or so feet away. The rest of the frame is bent, mangled, to match the way the rest of his body feels once the last blow strikes and sends him hurtling backwards to roll around - once more - in the blood and guts of his former squadmates.

This time, Juri is rewarded with more than a stoic soldier struggling to his feet. She gets a groan from Major Nash, low and obviously coming from a man who is in the sort of pain that would utterly break the average person. He's going to be covered in bruises after that furious storm of spinning kicks; he'll be surprised if he's able to walk normally, should he need to find his way to the nearest village at the end of this.

But that's likely just a pipe dream. How can one man - any man - stand against such reckless power? Such savage lust for combat? He's already resigned himself to his fate, but he's no stranger to the grim reaper; he's lived alongside the spectre of death since he first joined the Marines... to him, passing over into eternal night will be like coming home, at last. His duty done, finally.

It almost sounds nice.

But it doesn't have to be /today/.

Pulling himself to his feet, Charlie is clearly favouring the ankle which Juri's sweeping kick first impacted. Having absorbed the majority of the force, it feels significantly worse than his other foot... and it takes a second or two before he is able to settle much weight on it.

One hand comes up, gripping his shattered, ruined eyeglasses by the one which remains attached to the frames. A quick, casual flick of his wrist tosses the spectacles through the air towards Juri, almost dismissively; they land in the sand roughly halfway between them. His eyes squint slightly without the benefit of those lenses, but his vision appears to be strong enough to see even when lacking their assistance.


An almost /audible/ pause from the soldier, as he opens his mouth to speak before shutting it into a stoic grimace once more. He has no words for this occasion. Nothing that might improve his outlook on things. No way for him to put Juri off his balance with some brave comment. Anything he says will only serve to give her some sick thrill, at dominating this legendary soldier. Why give her the satisfaction?

And there it is.

Though it is a brief and quiet thing, the groan of pain that slips through the hardened soldier's lips may as well have been a bellow of agony to the girl's ears. Juri shudders with unrestrained pleasure, her eyes drifting closed. She savors the sound as if it were the opening swell of her favorite orchestral symphony, a familiar haunting note that leaves her giddy with anticipation for the crescendo of suffering that will soon be coming after.

Once again the teen proves that she is in no hurry to finish him off, slowly rising to her feet before settling back into her lazy posture. The slender fingers of one delicate hand lift up to the front of her skimpy top, the dark purple dudou clinging to her shapely torso like a spider with legs of narrow fabric. The garment matches what he's seen of the girl's personality to a tee, only barely serving to keep her decent while unsubtly suggesting at something taboo and alluring.

Without the slightest hint of shame, Juri cups one of her modest breasts through the thin cloth and squeezes the soft flesh beneath, letting out a gentle sigh of pleasure. Her other hand drifts down to her midsection, the painted pink nails glittering in the firelight as she traces slow sensual circles around her exposed navel in an extremely suggestive manner. A silver of pink emerges from between her lips as she drags her tongue from one side to the other, all the while keeping her laconic predatory gaze fixed intently on the wounded soldier.

"Mmmm... that wasn't bad. Hearing big... strong... dangerous men like you whimper in agony is just so... nrf... so good..."

For a few long awkward moments, the little sadist continues to indulge herself in front of the watchful gaze of her prey. She seems to revel in the knowledge that he has no choice but to watch her closely. Any lapse in his attention upon the assassin out of some misguided sense of modesty could result in another of those blindingly fast assaults. Even when he'd thought himself prepared to face one of her charges he'd been proven woefully outclassed. Both of them know he has no chance of taking her down and she's quite merrily rubbing his nose in it in her own perverse way.

"Oh, how unfortunate," she purrs at him as Charlie tosses aside the broken remnants of his spectacles. "I hope those weren't important. Wouldn't want you to miss the best show of your life, would we?"

Juri smirks and the hand on her stomach peels away and she beckons at him with her fingers, rolling them one by one towards her palm in a display of graceful dexterity. Considering what she's up to already, the motion might evoke all manner of lurid thoughts.

"Maybe you should... come a little closer... and get a good look. After all, it might be your last chance to enjoy the sight of an attractive woman in this lifetime. And who knows?"

Both of her hands stop what they're doing as she moves them up behind her head, arching her back to present her chest towards him. The fabric tents outwards slightly around the tips of her breasts as it's pulled taut by the motion and she wiggles her shoulders back and forth a couple of times which does all sorts of pleasing things to her anatomy.

"Maybe if you get lucky you'll get to touch a little slice of Heaven before I send you screaming to Hell."

COMBATSYS: Juri focuses on her next action.

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Charlie          0/-------/-<<<<<<|=======\-------\0             Juri

Over ten years spent fighting and killing on behalf of his government has exposed Major Charlie Nash to all sorts of warriors. Those who commited horrible acts for money, patriotism, or to protect their people; there were even plenty of men and women who did it for pleasure, for the sheer thrill of an environment which was truly 'kill or be killed'. Even amongst the latter - those professional cutthroats who didn't care about the paycheque or any higher cause - nobody had ever managed to turn his stomach quite like Juri Han is presently doing.

It's one thing to take a bit of pride in coming out on top of a struggle to the death, that's understandable. Hell, even taking pleasure in knowing that you survived a risky mission by virtue of wit and ability is something which Charlie can relate to. But the girl takes things /far/ beyond that, seemingly receiving sexual gratification from making someone suffer beneath her feet and fists.

For someone who treats murder as little more than civic duty, an emotionless task to be carried out only when it is necessary to further his nation's goals, Charlie is quite understandably disgusted by the overly-sensual display from his opponent. What the hell did Shadaloo /do/ to the poor girl, to turn her into... well, into /this/?

His eyes, slowly unsquinting as his eyesight somewhat adapts to being without his trademark glasses, maintain firm eye contact with the grim reaper standing before him. There isn't even the quickest, briefest glance at her fit, athletic body - a sight that would cause most of the men in his unit, even in such a deadly situation, to feel some instinctual, primal lust. It's only natural, right?

Apparently not for the Major, as he keeps staring daggers directly into those savage, uncaring eyes of hers... even as he bends his knees to crouch low to the sand, right hand grasping something buried in blood and gore before standing back up to his full height.

Dangling from that hand, a filthy set of dog tags - obviously belonging to one of his fallen soldiers. One of the few hints that Nash is capable of human sentimentality; he feels compelled to, whenever possible, return the dog tags of his men back to American soil. It's the least he can do.

He wraps the metal chain around his hand, looping it over and over again until the tags themselves rest in his palm - which he then clenches in a fist just as Juri finishes her final words. Charlie turns his head to the side and spits a glob of saliva and blood onto the stained sand some feet away, before swiveling his neck back to face her dead-on.

"You've got the wrong audience for your little show."

It should be obvious to Juri, even without that statement, that Nash is unaffected by her provocative act; his heartbeat remains calm and steady, no sudden quickening of his pulse to signify blood rushing to any particular part of his body. No dilating pupils to indicate desire. His mouth remains dry and parched from eating so much goddamned sand, no salivation to represent any kind of appreciation of the sights Juri shows him. Whether it's training keeping his natural urges in check or a genuine lack of interest on his part, he doesn't elaborate - leaving it up to the girl to make her own conclusions.

Stepping forward, Nash starts slow - still favouring that injured foot - but quickly builds up speed into a run... he's visibly gritting his teeth from the pain of forcing all his weight back onto that ankle. Beads of sweat begin to form and drip down from his forehead, but he still keeps advancing... and within three strides he's already reached his usual, uninjured pace. Surely such an exertion will make the injury worse in the long-run, but his grit and determination keeps him going.

Approaching Juri, he weaves to one side as his left arm is pulled back - the beginning motions of a left hook that seems to be aiming for her side...

...but it's a fake, and even if Juri doesn't take the bait to react to it he quickly swerves his torso back to a center position. His right hand - blood, sand-covered and with the fallen soldier's dog tag still wrapped around it - comes up suddenly. His fingers spread out, aiming to fit Juri's pretty, sadistic, leering little face directly in the center of his palm...'s a long shot by any definition of the word, but if he manages to catch her he'll attempt to utilize his momentum and weight to /slam/ the back of her head into the ground... and what happens next is the first time he has utilized his own inner power in any offensive manner in this fight. Pinning her head against the sand, he channels a massive surge of blue chi into his palm - using the metal dog tags as a conducter to unleash a veritable blast of energy directly into her face.

COMBATSYS: Juri fails to interrupt Tragedy Assault EX from Charlie with Shotenha.

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Charlie          0/-------/------=|=======\=------\1             Juri

What Charlie can't seem to grasp as he looks on in disgust at the provocative display is that the girl's enjoyment comes not from the very act of inflicting harm itself, though there is a bit of that mixed in as well, but rather that she is able to so effortlessly make a mockery of those who should by all rights be far more dangerous than she. It is a matter of power, pure and simple; and, in some ways, a projection of her true desires.

The man responsible for slaughtering her beloved parents and twisting her into the monster she is today is, quite frustratingly, the only person she has repeatedly failed to defeat despite her best efforts. Though she would never openly admit it, she has become a pale reflection of that mad tyrant in her efforts to overcome him, taking the same sort of pleasure that she can see on his face every time he casts her rebelliousness down out of demonstrating her superiority over those less powerful than she. Though not nearly as satisfying as tasting the sweet wine of victory over her sworn foe, each powerful fighter that she defeats a dress rehearsal for the defining moment of her life.

One day, she will smash that stupid grin right off Vega's face and grind him underneath her heels until she feels his skull splinter into a messy pile of gore. Maybe she'll rip out his eye first just for a little petty payback. But until then she'll have to settle for enjoying the looks of anger and confusion on the faces of the powerful men who have made the mistake of underestimating her. Charlie is just the latest unfortunate soul to be ol' butt-chin's stand in.

The American's lack of reaction to her lurid display doesn't seem to bother Juri all that much. She isn't feeling herself up just for his sake, there's a genuine sense of hedonistic pleasure being stoked as she watches him quickly grow more and more certain that this is going to be his final mission. The look of determination on his face as he struggles against the tides of fate knowing full well that his efforts are futile is like a drug to the girl. Her arousal stems not only from knowing that she can kill him at her whim but also in knowing that he knows that as well.

It's a sick sort of satisfaction to take pleasure from but she's long since abandoned any attempts to maintain her sanity. In a way it was freeing to simply stop caring about whether or not her actions were moral and just. Now all she has to do is indulge herself in whatever perverse thoughts bubble up from that polluted wellspring of twisted emotion in her soul and revel in the pleasure that it brings. She supposes that makes her more of a demon than a girl, a being that acts solely on its own whims without regards to consequence or cost.

And damn if it doesn't feel great.

Juri merely returns Nash's cold stare with an arrogant smirk, maintaining her Playboy model pose as he starts to hobble forward for yet another ill-advised attempt to match her in martial prowess. The Feng Shui Engine continues to churn through data at a mind-boggling speed, making adjustments to its prediction models to compensate for the soldier's wounded gait. Despite the bone-wrenching kick she'd delivered earlier, he manages to break out into a full sprint after only a few paces.

Foolish but also understandable. If he's already come to the conclusion that he won't be walking out of this place alive then screwing up his ankle in the long term isn't much of a concern. It's also yet another sign that her plaything has resigned himself to his fate.

It should come as no surprise then that whatever reserves of determination and grit the man has been saving up for just such a desperate circumstance come to the fore in his time of need. Juri waits like a cat preparing to pounce, her loose posture little more than a deception that hides the spring-tight coiling of her muscles. She watches his attack play out a dozen times in the span of a few heartbeats, each calculated strike creating a new permutation of possibility.
%tTo her annoyance, the battle computer throws up an error at the last moment, a bright red warning light flashing in the corner of her vision. For that one instant before Charlie ducks to the left to unleash his attack her cocky grin falters slightly as she finds herself left without the crucial guidance of the Engine's algorithms. That doesn't mean she's helpless - far from it. Juri had spent most of her life training in her arts, honing her body into a deadly weapon long before she got her hands on the eye. But the malfunction comes at precisely the worst possible moment, leaving her the girl with only milliseconds to make a snap judgement on her own.

Juri's leg snaps up into a simple but brutal kick, her foot flashing with destructive energies as it lashes at incoming soldier. But whether by providence or simple years of experience, the feinting duck to the side just barely throws Charlie out of the path of that deadly blow and gives him his first chance to inflict a little payback on the smug bitch.

A hand large enough to easily engulf her entire face closes around the front of Juri's skull, muffling her frustrated shout. She tries to struggle free from that powerful grip as her slender form is hurled to the ground, her hands locking around the American's wrists with deceptive strength. Raw elemental power, anathema to the swirling maelstrom of her manifested will, explodes into the girl's body like a bolt of lightning and she convulses violently, her back arching upwards into a bow of pain and fury.

Ironically, the individual who Charlie Nash faces down in the desert sands of Lebanon would doubtlessly prove to be a powerful ally in the fight against Lord Vega. Both of them have no small amount of disdain towards the dictator - albeit for very different reasons... and who better to bring down the leader of Shadaloo, than the girl he twisted and corrupted in an effort to shape her to his own image?

There is no way for Nash to know the depths of Juri's hatred towards the man who created her; and even if he did, it's clear she is too far gone to be saved. It seems she may well have embraced the path that Vega set out for her, perhaps without even knowing it - and if that were not the case, she was already responsible for so many crimes against humanity that redemption was no longer possible in Charlie's eyes. Her place among his country's greatest threats had been cemented long ago; there was no coming back from the things she'd done in service of Shadaloo, and her own whims.

Even imprisonment would be too good for her; not that Nash even believed it were possible to keep such a potent force behind lock and key.

Death is the only option in this case, to ensure the safety of the innocent - and to balance the karmic scale which her path of murder and destruction had tilted.

But what kind of power would it take to make such a thing possible? He has no illusions that he would be capable of such a thing, and certainly not for reasons of morality - it's clear he has no compunctions about killing when it is called for. It is the fact that her abilities seem equal to even the most talented fighters Nash knows of... the list of those who could fight the young girl on an even playing field is a short one. Perhaps Commander Heidern, that mercenary general whose name is a legend amongst those who live on the field of battle, could pull off such a feat... but he and his men have been largely silent of late. Geese Howard, then? But why would that crime boss care for risking his own position, to exact justice against a war criminal? Rugal Bernstein? An amusing thought; he would likely offer her employment, sooner than he would attempt to make Juri face punishment for her savage acts of violence.

No, it seems likely that this poor soul's judgement will come only when Vega has grown tired of her, or when he no longer has any use for the psychotic sadist who he has molded with his bloody, merciless hands.

A pity, that Charlie Nash and the government he serves seem so thoroughly impotent in this matter; if anyone deserves to put down this mad dog, it's the very country which has spearheaded the fight against Shadaloo across the globe.

Some people might utilize this advantageous position to try and keep Juri pinned down and on the defensive. But for Nash, every action and reaction taken on the battlefield is a matter of countless small, precise calculations - almost like a Blackjack player counting cards to even the odds as best they can. Enough time has passed in this encounter; he's been able to observe the motions of his opponent to some degree... and while he hardly has a handle on exactly what to expect next from the girl, he can conclude that any attempt to wrestle around with someone that flexible is a fool's errand.

It would only be a matter of seconds before she twisted her body into some advantageous position. He might manage to clasp his hands around her throat, or level a few elbow strikes at that smug face, but it would only take one solid shot from Juri to knock him flat again - his chance of defending against such a slippery foe in close quarters is a long shot, indeed.

He needs space, room to observe and spot the little tics and movements which might serve to warn him of her next move. With the kind of speed and agility that arrayed against him here, it's the only hope he has to mount any defense going forward.

With that goal in mind, Charlie moves on once the sudden blast of energy is unleashed against his opponent - releasing his grip on Juri's face and rolling forward through the sand. He doesn't even stop to watch her convulse, as some might... watching the evil little sadist convulse and twitch would be oh-so-satisfying to most individuals in his position, but the stakes are too high for the soldier to allow himself such an indulgence.

Coming out of his roll into a leap that carries him several feet into the air, the Major spins around in mid-air to face Juri once more. In rapid succession, he hooks both fists through the air - right first, then left - each motion unleashing a horizontal swirl of blue chi that hangs in the air for just a moment...

...before a loud, booming *CRACK* echoes throughout the desert wasteland - a sound that is almost deafening in such close proximity, making the earlier gunfire seem tame in comparison. The two spinning discs of energy shoot through the air with a speed that renders them almost imperceptible to the human eye, burning the oxygen in the breeze as they fly towards Juri's former position on the sand.

There is no shout to accompany the projectiles; he's less flashy than some of his fellow soldiers, particularly Guile - his most talented student by far. He feels no need to announce his techniques as so many fighters do, and he performs them without unnecessary flourishes... every move is pure, cold efficiency.

Anything less would be suicide, when struggling against the reaper as he does here and now.

COMBATSYS: Charlie successfully hits Juri with Sonic Boom.

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Charlie          0/-------/-----==|=======\====---\1             Juri

Charlie's decision to bug out rather than try to engage with the girl in a grappling match proves to be a wise one. Even as her body arches in reaction to the burning power slamming into her face, one of her long legs snaps up to drive a knee into the side of his head with enough force to shatter stone. His tumble carries him clear of the danger leaving her to recover from his lucky strike without interference.

Juri proves to be just as resilient as she is powerful. It takes her only a second or two to shake off the devastating impact and she rolls to all fours, lifting her head to level a murderous glare at the soldier. Only he's not on the ground any more, having already leaped high to unleash yet another hammering blow. The teenager's eyes widen as the swirling crescents of raw force come crashing down at her, once again seeming to show unusual hesitation compared to the unnatural speed at which she had reacted in the beginning of their fight.

After a moment of consideration, the girl attempts to throw herself to the side and avoid the impending sonic blasts but that brief indecision costs her. One of the swirling projectiles clips her in the shoulder as she rolls hitting with enough force to send her tumbling backwards into the sand again.

Her recovery from that attack is just as swift, her legs splaying out wide to arrest her movement as she flips over onto her front again into a three point crouch. Only a brief moment of pause as she huffs out a few heavy breaths offers any indication that he's harmed her at all. Slowly, her head lifts to regard the soldier, her expression a mask of barely restrained manic fury.

But, rather than indulge in that crazed thunderstorm of emotion, Juri quickly regains control of herself. Her rage quickly melts away, the twisted grimace on her face morphing into a satisfied smile. She casually rises to her feet, idly brushing at her exposed skin to knock away some of the larger clumps of sand clinging to her body. By her demeanor, it looks more like he'd done little more than toss her around in the dirt a bit rather than slam her with some of his most devastating techniques.

"Well... that was hardly pathetic at all..."

The seductive silky tone comes out calm and relaxed as the girl regards him but there is an intensity behind her stare that was lacking before, as if she is only for the first time now actually acknowledging his existence as something worth her attention.

Of course, if the Engine hadn't taken that moment to crap out again the results would have been much the same as they had before. But she's come to realize that relying entirely on the power of the battle computer is just asking for trouble. Even without its guidance, she is a formidable foe and anyone who can manage to land a solid blow on her is someone worthy of respect. Unfortunately, in the twisted halls of the demon's mind, tacking respect onto Charlie's resume just makes her want to crush him all the harder.

Juri's amused smirk suddenly widens into a manic grin, girlish laughter bubbling up from within her chest. The faint glint of light in her left eye, subtle and muted until this moment, suddenly flares into a brilliant spark that engulfs the entire socket. A blazing nimbus of seething purple energy wafts up from her body to wrap it in an ominous glow. Tongues of neon flame manifest in the air around her, lazily arching into long swaths of deadly power like solar flares from the corona of a newborn star. An unnatural wind begins to swirl to life around the girl, gentle at first but steadily building into a whipping maelstrom as the nexus of psychic might grows ever more dense.

"Ahahaha! It's been a while since I felt like cutting loose! Come on then! Don't die on me before I've had my fun!"

COMBATSYS: Juri gathers her will.

[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////            ]
Charlie          0/-------/-----==|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2             Juri

The projectiles fired off at the apex of his jump, Charlie keeps his body turned towards Juri's position as he begins to fall back towards the ground. Hitting the sand with his uninjured foot first, the experienced soldier manages to absorb most of the impact from landing before he brings any weight down on his other ankle. Even with that effort, the jolt from his boots hitting the ground brings a fresh grimace to the man's otherwise stoic expression - it's there for a brief flash only, before Nash's substantial willpower and tolerance for pain manages to force it back down.

A consumate professional to the end, he doesn't want to give Juri any hint of exactly how badly hurt he is; despite knowing that she's most likely aware of every single injury he has sustained at her hands.

There's a small, brief, barely noticeable breath of relief as he watches those projectiles - fired fast enough to shatter the sound barrier - slam into Juri Han... and despite the satisfaction he must surely feel at this moment, he does notice that strange hesitation from the girl who seemed so elusive earlier in their fight. He /knows/ it's not from fear - her enjoyment seems to be growing the more he fights back, if anything... and he certainly didn't hit her hard enough at any point to cause any injuries that might slow her swift reaction time. What is it, then?

Being unaware of the precise nature of the Feng Shui Engine, which elevates her natural abilities to the realm of something /beyond/ humanity, Nash can only wonder in silence at /how/ he managed to land the last set of attacks.

Rather than spend too much time thinking about the whys and hows, though, he's content to take the little victories where he can... but that doesn't mean that analytical, constantly-working brain of his doesn't keep the question in the back of his head.

Even without his glasses, his eyes are still keen enough to catch her deep breaths, that look of unfiltered, maskless rage that briefly overcomes her previously smug and self-assured visage. If only he were of a temperment to take pleasure in such a things, he might feel some sense of satisfaction at throwing such a deadly opponent off her game... even though the anger quickly drains off her face, replaced once again by that perverse smile.

And then, the light flares up in her eye once more - seemingly consuming the entirety of the socket in its purple glow. As that power wreathes around her entire body, the impact it has on Charlie is almost physical... it's something he's felt before, dedicating himself as he had to tracking down and fighting Shadaloo wherever and whenever possible. The psycho power which Lord Vega is the undeniable master of... but aside from the dictator, he'd never known any other individual to be as adept at harnessing that mysterious energy.

That alone would be enough to shatter the mind of an untrained individual; the negative thoughts and emotions which the power seems to draw, out of even an experienced soldier like Charlie Nash, is no small thing. It takes all his will, all his steely resolve, to fight back the bubbling fear and horror which threatens to overwhelm him in an instant.

Once that obscene laugh - and the words that accompany it - are finished, Nash feels her sinister aura slowly withdraw its tendrils from around his mind... and he slides out of his defensive posture. For the moment, he takes a more relaxed footing as his gaze - still squinting ever-so slightly in an effort to maximize his sight without those corrective lenses - remains fixed on the Shadaloo agent. There's a brief pause, as though he were considering her words, before he opens his mouth to speak across the small distance between them.

Don't die on her?

"I don't plan on it."

His voice is calm, almost bordering on confident - though /that/ is surely a front he is putting on to try and prevent the tension and fear from overcoming his rational mind. The effort required to maintain his analytical, tactical frame of mind is almost equal to the willpower he's using to keep fighting at such a pace, considering all the injuries he's sustained in the past few minutes.

"Not before you pay for the men you've killed today."

As if to illustrate his point - hardly needed, considering the fact that they're fighting amidst the splattered remains of his team - he holds up one hand, letting the dog tag fall out of his palm to dangle on the end of the metal chain.

"In blood."

Finishing his thought, he grabs the chain with two hands and places it around his neck, letting the metal tags rest over his own, less bloody set. There's little doubt in Charlie's mind that this girl will find such a statement amusing; but there's no humour in his voice. He speaks those words like he were giving a promise, a solemn oath, to exact some form of vengeance upon the demon in front of him.

But for all Major Nash's apparent confidence - and brave words - he is inwardly cursing Juri's cleverness and ability to read his intentions. She's refusing to go on the attack, refusing to let him stand back and react to her - she's forcing /him/ to go on the offensive... with his injuries, and considering the girl's overwhelming speed, he'd rather have as much room as possible to try and calculate a way to defend against her.

But no, instead he must press forward, striding once again into the meat-grinder - represented, in this instance, by a 19 year old girl... one who has proven herself more than capable of manhandling America's best soldier.

But, he supposes, this is the kind of thing he signed up for - the reason he was hand-selected by SecDef and POTUS to lead his own unit. They knew he would follow through in this exact sort of situation, rather than breaking from sheer terror and fleeing for the hills. He would stand firm when others would falter. He would move forward, when any lesser man would fall back.

And he hates to disappoint the men back in Washington; for all their faults, they represent the country he has sworn to defend.

Call it stubbornness, zealousness, an implacable sense of duty, or just insanity - but Charlie Nash strides forward once again; pushing past the pain that stabs through his nerves, radiating out from that injured ankle. He approaches Juri at a rapid pace, getting within 10 feet before he drops low and slides along the sand boot-first. It looks like he might be aiming to knock her feet out from under her?

...he doesn't wait for the girl to react, merely hoping she falls for yet another feint, before he comes back /up/ with a quick hop into the air. Traveling upwards and towards his target, he waits until he is within striking distance before his momentum is suddenly twisted back down towards her. One leg extends fully, its path through the air leaving a trail of blue chi as he aims to crash the limb down upon her - in what is essentially a /reverse/ flash kick.

Let's see Guile do /that/.

The projectiles fired off at the apex of his jump, Charlie keeps his body turned towards Juri's position as he begins to fall back towards the ground. Hitting the sand with his uninjured foot first, the experienced soldier manages to absorb most of the impact from landing before he brings any weight down on his other ankle. Even with that effort, the jolt from his boots hitting the ground brings a fresh grimace to the man's otherwise stoic expression - it's there for a brief flash only, before Nash's substantial willpower and tolerance for pain manages to force it back down.

A consumate professional to the end, he doesn't want to give Juri any hint of exactly how badly hurt he is; despite knowing that she's most likely aware of every single injury he has sustained at her hands.

There's a small, brief, barely noticeable breath of relief as he watches those projectiles - fired fast enough to shatter the sound barrier - slam into Juri Han... and despite the satisfaction he must surely feel at this moment, he does notice that strange hesitation from the girl who seemed so elusive earlier in their fight. He /knows/ it's not from fear - her enjoyment seems to be growing the more he fights back, if anything... and he certainly didn't hit her hard enough at any point to cause any injuries that might slow her swift reaction time. What is it, then?

Being unaware of the precise nature of the Feng Shui Engine, which elevates her natural abilities to the realm of something /beyond/ humanity, Nash can only wonder in silence at /how/ he managed to land the last set of attacks.

Rather than spend too much time thinking about the whys and hows, though, he's content to take the little victories where he can... but that doesn't mean that analytical, constantly-working brain of his doesn't keep the question in the back of his head.

Even without his glasses, his eyes are still keen enough to catch her deep breaths, that look of unfiltered, maskless rage that briefly overcomes her previously smug and self-assured visage. If only he were of a temperment to take pleasure in such a things, he might feel some sense of satisfaction at throwing such a deadly opponent off her game... even though the anger quickly drains off her face, replaced once again by that perverse smile.

And then, the light flares up in her eye once more - seemingly consuming the entirety of the socket in its purple glow. As that power wreathes around her entire body, the impact it has on Charlie is almost physical... it's something he's felt before, dedicating himself as he had to tracking down and fighting Shadaloo wherever and whenever possible. The psycho power which Lord Vega is the undeniable master of... but aside from the dictator, he'd never known any other individual to be as adept at harnessing that mysterious energy.

That alone would be enough to shatter the mind of an untrained individual; the negative thoughts and emotions which the power seems to draw, out of even an experienced soldier like Charlie Nash, is no small thing. It takes all his will, all his steely resolve, to fight back the bubbling fear and horror which threatens to overwhelm him in an instant.

Once that obscene laugh - and the words that accompany it - are finished, Nash feels her sinister aura slowly withdraw its tendrils from around his mind... and he slides out of his defensive posture. For the moment, he takes a more relaxed footing as his gaze - still squinting ever-so slightly in an effort to maximize his sight without those corrective lenses - remains fixed on the Shadaloo agent. There's a brief pause, as though he were considering her words, before he opens his mouth to speak across the small distance between them.

Don't die on her?

"I don't plan on it."

His voice is calm, almost bordering on confident - though /that/ is surely a front he is putting on to try and prevent the tension and fear from overcoming his rational mind. The effort required to maintain his analytical, tactical frame of mind is almost equal to the willpower he's using to keep fighting at such a pace, considering all the injuries he's sustained in the past few minutes.

"Not before you pay for the men you've killed today."

As if to illustrate his point - hardly needed, considering the fact that they're fighting amidst the splattered remains of his team - he holds up one hand, letting the dog tag fall out of his palm to dangle on the end of the metal chain.

"In blood."

Finishing his thought, he grabs the chain with two hands and places it around his neck, letting the metal tags rest over his own, less bloody set. There's little doubt in Charlie's mind that this girl will find such a statement amusing; but there's no humour in his voice. He speaks those words like he were giving a promise, a solemn oath, to exact some form of vengeance upon the demon in front of him.

But for all Major Nash's apparent confidence - and brave words - he is inwardly cursing Juri's cleverness and ability to read his intentions. She's refusing to go on the attack, refusing to let him stand back and react to her - she's forcing /him/ to go on the offensive... with his injuries, and considering the girl's overwhelming speed, he'd rather have as much room as possible to try and calculate a way to defend against her.

But no, instead he must press forward, striding once again into the meat-grinder - represented, in this instance, by a 19 year old girl... one who has proven herself more than capable of manhandling America's best soldier.

But, he supposes, this is the kind of thing he signed up for - the reason he was hand-selected by SecDef and POTUS to lead his own unit. They knew he would follow through in this exact sort of situation, rather than breaking from sheer terror and fleeing for the hills. He would stand firm when others would falter. He would move forward, when any lesser man would fall back.

And he hates to disappoint the men back in Washington; for all their faults, they represent the country he has sworn to defend.

Call it stubbornness, zealousness, an implacable sense of duty, or just insanity - but Charlie Nash strides forward once again; pushing past the pain that stabs through his nerves, radiating out from that injured ankle. He approaches Juri at a rapid pace, getting within 10 feet before he drops low and slides along the sand boot-first. It looks like he might be aiming to knock her feet out from under her?

...he doesn't wait for the girl to react, merely hoping she falls for yet another feint, before he comes back /up/ with a quick hop into the air. Traveling upwards and towards his target, he waits until he is within striking distance before his momentum is suddenly twisted back down towards her. One leg extends fully, its path through the air leaving a trail of blue chi as he aims to crash the limb down upon her - in what is essentially a /reverse/ flash kick.

Let's see Guile do /that/.

COMBATSYS: Juri just-defends Charlie's Moonsault Slash EX!

[                  \\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////          ]
Charlie          0/-------/------=|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2             Juri

If she weren't already grinning like a maniac, Charlie's trite attempts at smack talk would have made Juri smile. She has literally lost count of the number of times someone has threatened her with revenge for all her wicked deeds. Seriously, it's like a broken record - 'You'll pay!' this and 'I'll avenge them!' that. Blah blah blah.

Under normal circumstances, Juri would have been happy to interrupt her foe before he could even finish uttering those boring words, refusing to give him even the chance to mutter his rote heroic one liners. Squashing people mid-monologue is rather satisfying - and somewhat ironic considering her own penchant for babbling away. But that's what makes it all the more fun, isn't it? It's quite entertaining to indulge herself in whatever manner she pleases because she knows that no one can stop her while robbing others of that very same privilege just because she can. A petty insult compared to having their bodies shattered, perhaps, but she takes demented pleasure in inflicting even little miseries such as that.

This time, however, she lets her prey have his little moment of heroic resolve. She has her reasons. Charlie was able to figure out one of them easily enough. Forcing the man to continue fighting with his injuries is a cruelty already; making him come to her on that twisted ankle is just mean. She knew he'd do it anyway, his will fueled by dreams of martyrdom and machismo and duty and all that ridiculous nonsense.

The other reason she gives him a few moments to mouth off is more grounded in practicality. She's had the Engine long enough to start to get a feel for its various quirks. While the damned thing is certainly prone to an annoying tendency to fuck up at the worst possible moments, she's also learned that not ever malfunction requires a trip back to the lab. Sometimes the battle computer just hits a hitch, an unexpected variable that throws its processes out of whack. She's not a code programmer or anything but the explanations offered to her by S.I.N.'s lab monkeys painted a simple enough picture. Sometimes all the gizmo needs is a little time to recover.

And so, Juri buys time.

While she's pretty sure she can handle an already heavily wounded combatant on her own merits, why bother taking risks? She gets away with taunting and toying with her opponents precisely because of how unfair the odds are and that edge is largely thanks to the Engine. If given the choice to engage in an honorable duel between two evenly matched warriors and cheating her ass off to win without breaking a sweat, there isn't even a consideration to be had in her mind. She's happy to let all of the dead heroes she leaves in her wake enjoy the benefits of their noble principles.

A soft chirp in the back of her mind makes the grin on her face grow a little wider as she calls upon the Engine in full for the first time this night. Streams of data pour across the corner of her vision, meaningless lines of code that flash by far too fast for her to interpret even if she understood what they mean. Only the last line of text has any interest for her.%r ALL SYSTEMS NOMINAL

Ghostly silhouettes start to play out before the girl's eyes as the predictive algorithm kicks back into gear, instantly turning its nigh clairvoyant powers against the foolishly charging soldier. Juri remains stationary as Charlie rushes at her, the confidence she'd briefly let falter when he struck her before renewed in full. There aren't any more signs of hesitation or uncertainty in her baleful gaze, just the malicious and predatory gleam of wicked power.

This time Charlie's feint doesn't even earn a flinch from his target. She merely stands there, arms flexed loosely at her side as she gathers more and more energy into her body, grinning like some kind of demonic jack-o-lantern as her left eye shines all the brighter with every passing moment. Only when he launches himself into the flying leap does she finally react, moving with the impossible speed and precision of someone who impossibly knows exactly what to expect before it even happens.

Juri's hand snaps out and the descending hammer of Nash's foot never makes more than a couple of inches down from the apex of his flip. Her fingers clench tightly around the already wounded ankle, the long painted nails digging painfully into the sensitive little nooks around the joint. The power that he had conjured up to imbue the kick with destructive potential simply evaporates upon contact with that searing purple aura, breaking apart into little motes of withering blue light that are quickly gobbled up by the hungry flames. Even the raw strength behind his legs proves worthless against the girl's perfectly timed intervention, his leg held almost vertically in such a way that leaves him struggling merely to stay standing much less wield leverage against her.
%"Hahahahaha! Weak! So weak!"

His tormentor throws her head back and lets loose a crazed outburst of laughter, mocking his attempt to strike at her with all the glee of a schoolyard bully holding off someone half their size. Her retaliation isn't instantaneous. By now he's probably come to expect that the girl will take every opportunity she can get to belittle and torture him; this time isn't any different.

Juri's expression shifts into something positively wicked as she tugs up on his wounded leg, twisting the ankle back and forth a few times. Whatever pain he might have been in before will suddenly seem like it was little more than a niggling itch compared to the agony she inflicts on him now. Those devilish little claws burrow into all of his soft spots with the expertise of someone who knows precisely how to inflict the most suffering possible. Thin trickles of blood run down her fingers after only a moment or two, his thick combat boots proving little obstacle to her supernaturally infused might.

"Aww, does that hurt?", she asks, letting her voice drop back into the low velvety purr of playful sadism. "Don't worry. My kicks will make you feel real good!"

It takes only the blink of an eye for the teen to transition from taunt to tornado. One moment she's holding on tighter than a tick then next she's whirling around to drive a blazing kick into Charlie's side. The first strike comes in wide and low, attempting to sweep his remaining foot out from underneath him. Naturally, she aims at his unwounded ankle, seeking to cripple the man even further and inflict yet more torment upon him in the aftermath.

Her second rotation brings the heel of a bare foot slamming into his midsection with all the power of a spinning fulcrum, her legs tucking up tight against her chest as she whirls in order to exert the maximal amount of power from the leaping kick. Again she twirls without stopping, pirouetting like an ice skater trying to impress the Russian judge. A second low sweeping kick hammers at him kicking up a cloud of sand that crackles and pops with little sparkles as the grains are consumed in the maelstrom of power.

And still she isn't done. Turning the momentum of her latest pivot into a crouching leap, the girl's body twists in an impossible acrobatic maneuver as she flips completely upside-down, snapping the most devastating haymaker of a kick towards the soldier's jaw yet. Even if he somehow hasn't been swept up in the whirlwind of psycho power yet, that single blow alone strikes with such thunderous fury that the flames of the nearest bits of wreckage billow sideways as if suddenly caught in a furious gale.

One last insult is tacked onto the deluge of overwhelming injury that has been unleashed upon Charlie's battered form. As she falls to the ground to recover from her wild aerial stunt, Juri spins a final time and sends a wave of magenta fire lashing out at the soldier, the blast intended to catch him as he falls to the ground and send the man tumbling back into gore strewn sands of his former comrades.

COMBATSYS: Juri successfully hits Charlie with Fuharenjin.

[                         \\\\\  < >  ////////////////////          ]
Charlie          0/-------/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>---\1             Juri

It was a gamble. One which he knew, the moment he unleashed the downward crescent kick towards Juri, was a complete failure. Her reactions were too fast, her body moving as if it operated on a level of instinct which he'd never witnessed before; it was clear he'd never really had a chance...

...but he'd expected as much the moment he dragged Dr. Sokolov up into the cool breeze of the desert morning. The deceptive appearance of the Shadaloo elite might be enough to fool some, but her name was infamous within the ranks of the US Military. Every single soldier who served in the Armed Forces knew the terror which that girl was capable of instilling... and being privy to classified intelligence which the average serviceman would not be, Charlie was even /more/ aware than most.

That demonic girl arrests the momentum of his kick with an ease that seems casual, her hand snapping into the air and gripping his ankle with startling precision. Despite his best efforts to hide the pain she's managed to inflict to this point, it's enough to elicit a grunt from the usually stoic soldier. His chi is burned away in an instant by the overwhelming power of Juri's terrifyingly potent aura, and just like that he's left entirely defenseless.

He can't even break free to make an escape, so tight is the grip which Juri maintains upon his ankle. Every attempt to yank himself free only increases the pain, as her claw-like fingernails dig through the leather of his boots, breaking skin as though she were slicing through butter.

Bracing himself for the attack to come, it seems that the psychotic agent of Shadaloo wishes to have a little bit of fun with him first. The mocking, he can handle... but the twisting of his ankle actually manages to draw a very rare sound out of Major Charlie Nash. He /screams/ - not a high-pitched wailing, but a low, guttural sound that seems to shake the ground with its animalistic fury and agony. It's like the sound of some massive, wounded, near-death animal.

And as if that were the very noise which Juri were waiting for, she moves into action - and what follows is a flurry of kicks which Nash hardly seems to have a hope of /surviving/, let alone defending against. There's no way for him to avoid or even mitigate the damage, beyond simply bracing himself for the inevitable... and what comes is just about as bad as he expected, his uninjured ankle giving off a sickening crack as her leg slams into its side, and the bare heel to his midsection that follows causes another load of bloody saliva to exit his slackened mouth. Each kick impacts his body with a force that threatens to knock him into unconsciousness - like he were on the wrong end of a freight-train, rather than a diminutive and thin young girl.

This is it. The moment his entire life had been building towards, ever since his childhood on the Yokota Air Base in Japan. The fate he accepted when he first signed the forms to join the Marine Corps. His final mission, here at last. No more battles, no more blood, no more nightmares. Guile will have to shoulder the weight of command, to carry on and lead the men who are left /without/ the assistance of their mentor and leader.

Unfortunately, in the end it seems that the best he could accomplish was to merely inconvenience 'Lord' Vega by putting a bullet in the head of that scientist; the one who Shadaloo went through such lengths to capture. Nash isn't foolish enough to delude himself into thinking that shadowy organization won't simply pivot from whatever they had planned with Sokolov, onto another devious path. At most he delayed them by a few weeks, or months if he was /truly/ fortunate...

...but wars are won and lost by inches. Trading his life to gain a few centimeters of ground in the tug-of-war between America and Shadaloo seems a good bargain, in that context.

Life was never some precious thing to him. Better to die young for a cause than to live until old age in this world gone mad; this place where virtues are spat upon and sins are celebrated by the masses, where every single thing that made his country great was disparaged by the very people who had grown fat and weak off of America's prosperity.

Juri's impressive acrobatic display is punctuated with a bone-shattering kick that strikes him in the chin with an amount of force that rocks his entire body, no doubt dislocating his jaw at the very least. The girl is rewarded for her efforts with an impressive spray of blood which shoots out of Charlie's mouth - arcing upwards and then falling, to join the remains of his unit on the sand... maybe even getting a bit on the Shadaloo agent in the process, if she doesn't bother to get out of the way.

Without the flurry of blows pinning him in place, the soldier is sent hurtling back through the air by that last kick - his body limp, as though the pain wracking his mind had already overwhelmed his conscious mind. The last blast of psycho power which catches his body just as it strikes the sand and forces him tumbling back is simply icing on the cake, serving to demonstrate exactly /how/ outclassed he truly was here.

But as Nash ricochets off the sand and skips back into the air a foot or two, his wounded body suddenly... vanishes?

Perhaps that's not /entirely/ accurate... a sudden, explosive flare of blue is visible, with wisps of that chi energy still lingering where his body once hurtled through the air. And then, he reappears, several feet back /towards/ Juri - only for a moment, before another explosion cracks through the now-empty space... again, his body re-emerges even /nearer/ the girl... and when the blue glow brightens the remaining shadows just before morning, he appears again.

Right next to Juri Han.

She might be able to react in time, particularly with the full use of the Feng Shui Engine once again returned to her... but if she doesn't move to dodge or interrupt his next move, she'll find an explosion of chi going off directly beside her...

COMBATSYS: Juri interrupts Sonic Move from Charlie with Rochumou.

[                                < >  //////////////////            ]
Charlie          1/-======/=======|====---\-------\0             Juri

That's the problem with making bets on long odds. Maybe you get lucky and score a big pay off. But that treasure is paid for by the thousands of other unfortunate souls who aren't graced by providence, the ones who lost everything in their own desperate attempts to challenge fate. The House always wins, one way or another.

Charlie had won the lottery twice in one night, scoring not one but two solid blows against a creature that might as well be on another plane of existence compared to his own. He had inflicted pain on a demi-god, cracked her mask of playful aloofness if only for a few moments. His prize had been a glimpse at the depths of madness lying underneath the mien of a young girl corrupted beyond repair. That brief exposure to seething malice behind her eyes would leave a mark on him, something intangible and foul that will haunt him in the quiet moments when he lowers his guard and allows his thoughts to wander. Such is the reward offered to those who would challenge a demon and gaze upon its soul.

The price of his wager had been the lives of those under his command. He had cast their fates onto the scales when he had brought them to this den of iniquity, each man another chip laid down on the table as collateral. Like any dutiful pawn those soldiers had gone willingly to their potential demise without complaint, ready to sell their lives as sacrifices to some greater cause. No questions, no hesitation - only duty and honor.

Juri had been more than happy to call their bluff for her cards were by far the stronger hand. She knew before even glancing at the deck that this would be the case. Like any experienced card shark, she never had to even worry about the possibility of an opponent that might somehow be able to outplay her. Every moment of the game had been choreographed by her own devious ingenuity, starting with the information that was 'leaked' in regards to the late doctor's whereabouts.

After all, why bother spending all the effort to try and hunt down your prey when you can simply spread a little honey and see what falls into your webs? The chance to rescue such a valuable asset was a sweet one indeed, one which had brought one of Shadaloo's most stalwart foes slinking out into the open. The allure of that prize had been too much to resist and in the end he'd bet everything against the reaper on the hopes that there wasn't a spider lurking in the shadows.

Now, it seems, he is going to pay the price.

With the Feng Shui Engine blazing away at full operational capacity once again, Juri hardly even needs to expend effort to see the rebound coming. Information is power, though usually not in quite such a literal sense as it is here. Nash has never been shy about demonstrating his talents, either in public spectacle or clandestine operations. While there might yet be a trick or two up his sleeve that he's managed to keep close to the chest, the vast majority of his techniques have long since been catalogued, analyzed, and parsed. He is a known factor and that knowledge makes him easy to predict.

The moment that the soldier vanishes in a crack of thunder the battle computer begins to spit out a stream of data into the girl's mind, warning her of the encroaching danger. Dozens of potential angles of approach are considered, each one evaluated for the likelihood of being a viable attack vector. More than half of the phantom Charlies vanish from her vision as he reappears for a moment, his direct approach eliminating many of the possibilities. The options dwindle yet further when the man flashes into view again.

Juri ignores any further readings from the Engine. She already knows what's going to come next. Nash had tried twice to fake her out with feinting maneuvers. His first attempt had been lucky, slipping past her defenses while the eye was in the process of recovering from some internal error. She is certain the soldier was savvy enough to notice the difference between that bit of good fortune and his last attempt to pull a fast one on her. He won't try that again, not least of all because he probably doesn't have the stamina to play games any more.

She's all but disabled him with her last attack, damaging both of his legs to the point that she doubts he can even stand up straight. If his jaw wasn't outright broken by that kick to the face she'll be thoroughly impressed. That kind of pain is the sort that puts people flat on their ass. It doesn't really matter how tough you are, some things are just disabling to anyone that has a functional nervous system. This wild hail-Mary play is likely the last of his reserves, unleashed in the heat of the moment while adrenaline is still pumping through his veins and the deep crushing pain has not yet had time to register.

The girl pauses for a couple of heart beats after Nash vanishes for the final time, her expression utterly devoid of concern. Moving with the speed of a striking snake, one hand suddenly lashes out at the empty air in front of her and her fingers snap closed in precisely the spot where the soldier's throat appears an instant later. The sheer momentum of his own technique all but crushes the man's trachea as he hits the unexpected barrier of her palm, the flesh supple and soft but unyielding against his weight.

No matter how well braced she might be, the laws of physics take their due. The collision sends the two skidding backwards a couple of feet, Juri's heels digging furrows in the hot sand as she strains against the force of the impact. It takes only a moment for her to bleed the velocity out to nothing and in the aftermath she's left holding Charlie up by one hand, his broken body kept aloft by her empowered strength.

Amusement mixes with pleasure in the expression that Juri offers up to the captive soldier. Her eyelids droop back down into a half-lidded gaze and she tightens her grip on his throat, her fingers once again digging into the surface of his skin hard enough to draw blood. She caresses the thick artery just below the jaw as it bulges out from the strain of trying to pump blood to his brain, running her thumb gently up and down his skin with the tenderness of a lover.

"Heh. You didn't really think I was going to fall for a cheap trick like that, did you? And here I was thinking that you might be able to get me all worked up," she says, sighing wistfully. "What a disappointment..."

For several more seconds the torment continues, Nash unable to do much of anything but squirm like a fish on a hook as air and blood are steadily denied to him. The pressure of being in prolonged contact with her sinister aura is suffocating in its own way, smothering his mind under an oppressive blanket of hostility that makes it difficult to think clearly. Slowly, bit by bit, she squeezes the life out of him, her twisted smile never wavering.

It might come as a surprise to the soldier who has already resolved himself to die when the grip suddenly loosens upon his neck. For one glorious moment, he finds himself dropping loosely towards the ground, his lungs free to suck precious life-giving air into him once more. And then the girl unleashes pain upon him again.

The whirlwind of blazing kicks that she dances through is almost entirely identical to the last. Striking high and low, she juggles Nash's limp form like a hackie-sack, her deadly power carving eye-searing streaks through the air like a painter's brush staining the canvas of reality. Despite the pagentry of her unnecessarily elaborate acrobatics, the girl's strikes are brutal and precise, each kick slamming into a previously uninjured part of the soldier's body. Bones crack and joints twist in ways they were never meant to bend as hammerblows slam into him in a merciless barrage.

What's left of Charlie Nash is sent sailing away as the final kick smashes into his chest with rib-cracking force. His battered form is sent hurling through the air like a cannonball, flying nearly thirty feet into the side of the armored helicopter. A final devastating impact rings out as his back smashes hard against the unyielding metal with a resounding clang, leaving him to tumble, broken and bleeding, into the sands.

Major Nash was anything but an optimist - soldiers don't have the luxury of hoping for the best, or ignoring the level of threat posed by a superior force. The fact that he'd managed to put Juri on the defensive at /any/ point in this fight was more than he had initially hoped for. The gap between them was too large to be bridged without long-term planning and serious back-up; even then, the soldier had trouble envisioning /any/ scenario where he might have even odds against the overwhelming power of Shadaloo's deadliest creation.

Maybe a tactical nuclear weapon might do it? Perhaps a Metal Gear?!?!

The idea might be enough to draw the briefest of laughs out of the usually stoic and humourless Major, but certainly not in his present situation. All he feels now is a sense of disgust and hate towards the girl - for her unhinged, sleazy, overtly sexual behaviour - and the man behind Shadaloo - for whatever he'd /done/ to her in the first place.

Having his movement arrested while in the midst of such explosive motions is akin to hitting a tree while red-lining a Ferrari - whiplash is the /least/ of Charlie's worries, as the sudden stop which is forced upon him strains his skeleton close to its breaking point. The only thing that keeps him conscious is the years of experience testing experimental aircraft for the USMC Department of Aviation; he'd been subjected to so many G's, so many rapid stops from subsonic speeds, that he'd grown accustomed to handling many of the effects which it had on the body...

...but one can only innoculate themselves to a certain degree against such a thing. The sudden, sharp stop still causes no small amount of damage; his body, for a moment, feels like it's about to strain to the breaking point - like his bones could shatter into a million pieces at any second. It leaves him breathless - quite literally - even before Juri begins to apply her merciless pressure to his throat, his eyes growing bloodshot from the sudden change in momentum and velocity, blood beginning to leak from his nose, ears, mouth...

And still, his eyes are open through all of it - and if looks could kill, he might still have a chance in this encounter. Instead, all he can do - with his shattered body and empty reserves of stamina - is to stare hatefully, at the smug face of the enemy who has so thoroughly dominated him over the course of their brief fight. He's not used to being helpless, but if Juri expected him to /beg/ then she's bound to be disappointed - anyway, he can't even /breath/ with her grip around his neck, let alone talk. As the life is slowly choked out of him, his face grows red as he struggles to take in air - but none is able to enter his windpipe.

Still, he glares at her defiantly; she may have broken his body like a toothpick, but she hasn't managed to do the same to his spirit.

And then, as quick as the hand grasped his neck, it's gone. Without Juri's immense strength to hold him aloft, the soldier begins to fall limp to the ground... but he doesn't even have the time to hit the sand, before she begins her final assault. The few parts of his body which remained relatively uninjured during the course of their 'fight' are damaged with a precision and sadistic intent that is terrifying to behold. In a matter of seconds, Major Nash is picked apart by the girl's kicks - not even able to let out a shout of pain, as his senses are thoroughly overloaded with agony... helped along, no doubt, by her outpouring of psycho power which seems to be /worse/ than simple physical damage.

Mercifully, she finally seems to grow tired of keeping Charlie up with her barrage of kicks - ending the maelstrom of blows with a foot to his chest... an impact worse than any he had endured so far pierces through his flak jacket and elicits a brutal *crack* from his ribs.

For a moment, he blacks out - surrendering briefly to the abyss which serves to give him some respite from the injuries Juri has inflicted upon him. It only lasts a short time, as his spine crashing into the heavily armoured gunship jolts him awake - next thing he knows, he's hitting the ground and rolling forward a few times from momentum alone. And then he lays, flat on his back, in the sand - limbs limp, unable to even roll onto his stomach and attempt to inch forward...

...but he's still alive.

The briefest of glances at the Major reveals the exact extent of damage he's sustained. One eye is almost entirely swollen shut, his face marred with bruises and cuts; his jaw appears to be noticeably off-kilter as well. And that's just his face; there's no telling what kind of damage he's hiding under his flak jacket and olive drab pants.

His chest heaves with each breath, struggling to take in oxygen even as his damaged ribs scream with every minor movement of his body. His nerves are on fire from the sustained exposure to Juri's bizarre psycho power, no less painful than it was when he was actively being struck by the purple flames. Blood flows down from his nose, trickling from his mouth, leaking out of the countless cuts covering his skin. Nash's entire body is dripping sweat, trembling with exertion, fatigue and agony... no doubt a wonderful sight to the eyes of the sadist who did this to him.

Over the horizon, far away, the sun begins to peer out of its hiding place - beginning to paint the darkened sand with its bright rays. A new day... if nothing else, he lived long enough to see one more sunrise.

There is the briefest attempt to roll onto his belly again... but his body fails him, and he simply remains where he lay. With great effort, he finally manages to speak - voice both barely audible and incredibly strained, but still dripping with defiance even in the face of death. He can only hope Juri bothers to listen, before putting an end to this once and for all.

"Go... ahead... /do/ it... take my corpse back to... your /master/... and get your reward... you /fucking/ animal..."

A bold strategy; let's see if it pays off.

COMBATSYS: Charlie takes no action.

[            \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Juri             0/-------/---====|

COMBATSYS: Charlie can no longer fight.

[            \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Juri             0/-------/---====|

The only respond Charlie gets for several long seconds is the soft sound of sand crunching underneath the girl's heels as she pads quietly towards him. The scathing light of the Engine quickly dwindles as the battle comes to its conclusion. Only the subtle but omnipresent pressure of her malevolent presence remains to harry his psyche and even that subsides to little more than a persistent tingle against his spine that makes his hackles stand on end. It is a decidedly uncomfortable feeling, a niggling itch at his primitive fight or flight instincts made only more irritating by his inability to act upon them in any way.

He can't fight any more. He can't run any more. All he can do is wait for the end and hope that it comes swiftly.

But by now Juri has made it quite clear that she isn't interested in granting him a merciful demise. She's toyed with him as easily as a cat batting around a cornered mouse. Sure, the little rodent might have gotten in a nasty nip or two in the process but the outcome was always going to be the same. Only, now that she's broken her newest plaything quite thoroughly, the difference between a playful animal and a vindictive monster make itself known.

Upon reaching his side the teen casually steps over the broken warrior's body and drops down into a low crouch, straddling his waist in a manner that is both thoroughly suggestive and intensely painful. Her soft hands rest against his chest as she leans forward, arching her back and wiggling her hips in a slow and deliberate fashion that emphasizes her nubile form. She grinds against his body with the same sort of practiced skill that she had wielded in combat, as intimately familiar with exactly how to inflict pleasure upon a man's body as how to break it apart; though in his present condition one largely begins to resemble the other.

"An animal, am I?"

The velvety purr of her soft voice is like a cotton cloud compared to the steel wool of her psychic presence. She neatly sandwiches his mind between the two of them, inflicting the agony of contrast upon his soul as well as his body. Leaning forward, the girl hunches over him, her face not but a few inches above his. A look of lazy euphoria seeps into her features as she continues to torment him with suggestions of pleasure through the thick fabric of his cargo pants, her mouth parting in a little 'O' of naughty mischief.

"That's rich coming from the man who shot an innocent in cold blood," she whispers, nibbling on her lower lip. "He was begging to be saved you know - and it wasn't you he was asking to rescue him."

Her eyes widen slightly and she lets out a little wisp of mocking laughter into his ear as she slowly drags her cheek against his.

"How did it feel to play the role of the villain? Did you get a little ~chill~ down your spine when you pulled the trigger?"

Leaving him to ponder that disturbing question, Juri sits upright - or rather peels herself off his chest like a piece of tape - and sinks her fingers into the softness of her own bosom again. She gives him a long look that drips with perverse enjoyment at recalling that brief moment of decisive action. His fighting skills might not have been enough to really get her motor running but she's going to savor that image for a while.

"Naaaah," she says after a few quiet moments. "You don't seem like the type. Don't worry though," she says, her voice full of false consolation as she molests herself atop him, "Mmm, I enjoyed it plenty enough for the both of us."

And she approaches; Charlie's keen mind - the only part of his body still working as intended - counting the seconds between each step, calculating the amount of time he has left in this world based upon the pace of her footsteps. Not that he's eager to meet his maker, but if it's going to happen regardless he'd rather get it over with as soon as possible.

Unfortunately for him, it seems the girl has plans of her own; he should have known that trying to goad her into a mercifully quick end would only serve to push Juri in the other direction. A reminder as to why he keeps his temper so thoroughly repressed under layers of stoic, calm professionalism. It'd been one hell of a long time since he let the mask of the unfeeling, uncaring soldier slip in front of an enemy; but Juri seems to be an expert at eliciting that sort of reaction, and Major Nash is hardly immune - despite his best efforts.

Every step the Shadaloo agent takes towards him seems to increase the pressure of her ominous presence - and though he is not afraid, he is decidedly uneasy... experience can only go so far when dealing with a force so utterly unnatural. The psycho power that she wields so easily is known for its effects upon even the most stern and in-control individual; no doubt part of what makes it - and her, by extension - so dangerous. He might attempt to play it cool, like a man simply waiting for the axe to fall - and not caring about his imminent demise - but the aura Juri carries with her turns the sweat dripping off his fatigued and wounded body into a sheet of ice water.

The trembling of exhaustion that effects his limbs and muscles is joined by a shiver of some primal terror... as injured as he is, his steely resolve seems to be showing a crack or two - and his body seems to be operating off of its own instincts. Even though his conscious mind might not share the fear, his physical body has a voice of its own... and it is afraid.

Juri finally, leisurely steps into his view - her mocking visage imposed over the sky as he stares helplessly. She might be pleased to find that there is still a sharp defiance in his glare, hatred piercing through his typically impassive gaze to bore holes into her. What fun would it be to play with a victim who is broken both physically /and/ mentally?

As Juri straddles his torso, the sudden weight on his injured body is enough to elicit a sharp gasp of pain before Charlie manages to bite it back. His unswollen eye shuts momentarily as the girl settles atop him, before snapping back open - still staring at her with barely-restrained anger. He won't look away, no matter what happens - and regardless of how uncomfortable Juri attempts to make him.

A real patriot faces their fate directly, and as bravely as they can.

When her hands fall upon his chest, even the slightest pressure is enough to bring a fresh layer of sweat to his forehead -and his body trembles beneath the dominant sadist, despite his best efforts to control the shakes. He /is/ able to clench one fist, as Juri settles into her vulgar display - fevered mind trying to break through the grating, violent presence which her aura inflicts upon him... his body simply won't listen to him, no matter how hard he tries.

Despite his obvious revulsion with the sick and depraved individual atop him, he is still a living, breathing man - and his pulse noticeably quickens in close contact with such a vicious, violent sexual energy. It's enough to bring a scowl of disgust to his lips, and for the briefest second it appears as though he might be forced to break eye contact - giving into the shame he feels at his own lack of control... but he doesn't, still staring straight at her, biting back the embarassment towards his current predicament.

He'd love nothing more than to level a headbutt at the bridge of her nose as she leans in to drag her cheek across his, but even that is beyond his current abilities. He's trapped in the web of a human black widow, all because he stepped forward to buy his own men a chance at an escape... he hopes they've made some progress in that regard; his earpiece codec broken and lost in the sand during the savage beating he'd endured, leaving him unable to receive any messages from the remaining squad members. Seems he's got no choice but to engage the demon, even though he'd likely prefer death to the position he's been left in.

Innocent? Charlie might laugh, if he wasn't struggling to maintain control of his mind against both physical pain and the mental effects of her domineering aura. Juri is surely aware of the same universal fact which Major Nash has learned long ago: innocence is in the eye of the beholder.

Children may be innocent, but a grown man? Even those with the most noble of intentions can be capable of great evil, if they believe it will help to achieve their goals. He'd seen it hundreds of times: good men corrupted by power, or a misguided sense of duty, or countless other factors beyond their control.

"He didn't suffer... and he wasn't innocent..."

His voice is gravelly, struggling to escape his lips through the agony of his wounds and the pressure on his midsection... brief pauses between words as he struggles to bring more oxygen into his burning lungs.

"We both know... what /Vega/ would have done... with him..."

Another groan, as Juri's weight shifts - causing a fresh stab of pain to tear through his confused, tormented brain.

"I kill... for my country... you do because you /enjoy/ it..."

Another pause, with nothing but the ragged sound of his own breathing and whatever perverse moans escape from his tormenter... and then, he finally composes himself enough to carry on, his voice low, hateful, dripping with contempt even while he remains at Juri's mercy.

"One day, your master... is going to put you down... like a mad dog..."

"Oooo, I like that look in your eyes. So full of fire and vengeance."

Juri's hips continue their slow gyration as Nash struggles with the pain and revulsion they bring. Her movements are gentle, careful even, making sure not to move him around more than necessary. Wouldn't want to accidentally break him completely, now would she? No, her care is a malicious sort of thing, designed to inflict the maximum amount of suffering and, much to his chagrin, pleasure without putting man's life in danger.

The leisurely manner in which the girl rubs against him only seems to highlight each gentle twist and grind, her soft flesh caressing him like a marshmallow wrapped in sandpaper. She becomes visibly aroused by the act of torturing him, the front of her dudou noticeably tenting outwards at the tips of her breasts. His defiance seems only to encourage her twisted enjoyment of the debased act, every word of hateful venom hissed out through clenched teeth like a lover's tender whisper in her ear.

As expected, Charlie refuses to accept that he might be anything like the demented killer sitting astride him. She doesn't know how much time a man such as he spends pondering the ethical and philosophical ramifications of his own actions. In her experience, soldiers tend to be rather dismissive of the concept of personal accountability when it comes to their own actions. So long as they do as their told they can just push the blame onto their superiors. 'Just following orders' has been the mantra of many a war criminal when finally brought to task.

She could point out the ridiculous hypocrisy of his claim but it wouldn't do much good. Be they religious or patriotic, zealots have a very distant relationship with logic when it comes to justifying their own actions. There's always a way to argue that the simple chains of reason that would paint them a monster under any other circumstances simply don't apply. In his case, he's not a murderer, just a soldier doing what is necessary.

He'd said it himself - he kills for his country. What better excuse could a man ask for to wash himself free of sin?

"Tsk tsk, so jaded and cynical."

Her hands drift slowly down her chest, sliding sensuously across her smooth stomach and down between her legs. They pause there for a moment, her tongue flicking out to lick slowly across her lips in a teasing fashion, before working their way up his torso to rest upon his chest again. That gentle uncomfortable pressure returns as she leans on him a little again ensuring that he doesn't have the breath to argue with her while she rebukes him.

"It must be difficult to bear the weight of all those lives you've taken," the girl says, sarcasm and pity mingling in perfect harmony. "Such dishonor. So much guilt. It's easier to handle if you just assume everyone is as stained and dirty as you, isn't it? Easier to 'do what's necessary' if the bodies you leave behind are guilty of something."

She smiles at him, her brilliant amethyst eyes filled with as much contempt as amusement. Mocking laughter bubbles up inside of her chest, soft and poisonous like her words. The girl arches her back again, thrusting her cleavage almost into his face and jiggling it back and forth a few times before sitting up again.

"That's right. Mmm, I -do- enjoy it. Do you know why? Because I don't have to lie to myself about what I am. I don't need to create pathetic excuses like 'for my country' when I crush someone's skull underneath my heel in order to justify it to myself or anyone else. I do it because I can. Because I'm a killer, plain and simple."

One of her hands slithers up from his chest, tracing the contours of his bloody throat up the front of his busted jaw. Two slender fingers dance from the bottom of his chin, walking one by one up his face to the tempo of her next words, the last one punctuated by a playful flick on the tip of his nose.

"Just. Like. You."

More than a decade of carrying out the most dangerous missions the Government could throw at him... and still, Charlie has never felt what it's like to be entirely at someone else's mercy. Sure, he'd known that being captured and tortured by the enemy was always a possibility - he'd been trained to resist standard techniques, to hold out as long as possible, to never give away any useful intelligence... but this was different, and not just because of the perverted nature of the enemy tormenting him.

The psycho power which Juri possessed was having an effect on his mind - he might even say his soul, were he a religious man - that he'd never properly experienced before. Confusion, anxiety, even primal fear; it was bringing all his worst emotions to the fore - things he thought he'd driven deep down inside himself, never again to see the light of day.

The fact that he remained in control of himself, especially in such a weakened state, was a testament to his iron will. Especially considering the stark contrast between Juri's harsh aura and her motions against his body, which only compounded the difficulty in trying to maintain some semblance of mental fortitude.

In many ways, the girl's actions, words and presence were a far more effective torture implement than anything the CIA might be able to cook up at one of their many black sites. It is little wonder that the name 'Juri' was spoken of with such terror, amongst those who were aware of her existence - to say nothing of those unfortunate enough to have encountered her personally.

If nothing else, and /if/ he manages to survive, this whole mess will make for one hell of a ghost story to tell back at the mess hall. Though it will likely take him some time to recover from the trauma inflicted upon him here, before he could even think of reliving these events through words.

Her obvious arousal only serves to further etch that scowl deeper into his face; if only he could block out the sensations she were forcing upon him with each twist and grind of her body. The fact that he's unable to prevent his natural physical reaction to such stimuli, only serves to deepen his shame at being treated like some harmless plaything.

And while Juri's words bid him to reflect upon his true nature, Major Nash is no stranger to questioning his own actions and motives. Every soldier has doubts, even those fanatically loyal to a higher purpose; Charlie knows the only people immune to such uncertainty are those without a sense of morality... and those individuals were nothing more than murderers, in his eyes.

During his days as a Philosophy major in University, he'd come to a conclusion which he had always suspected - deep in his heart - was true. Peace was an unnatural state for humanity - war was more than a constant threat to be kept at bay, it was the species' default condition. Only the actions of brave men and women, willing to bloody their hands in service of 'peace', could possibly force such a thing into being. It was something that had to be thrust upon the world at large; hopes and dreams alone could not never be enough.

The globe's delicate balance of power - that tenuous cease-fire which was always in danger of collapsing - rested upon the shoulders of men like him. And he never had any illusions about keeping his hands clean in the process. That doesn't mean he likes to be reminded of the things he's done, and being compared to Juri herself cuts him deeper than he would ever admit - it's only his laser focus on the girl, and the fury he feels towards her, which prevents his mind from wandering too deeply down that path.

"Not jaded... realistic... y-"

Those are the only words he manages to get out in response to her initial assessment of his character, before she rests her hands upon his chest again - cutting off his speech and causing another sharp dagger of pain to pierce through his ribcage. The pressure restricts his breathing, perhaps done intentionally just after had finished emptying his lungs.

His face begins to redden slightly as he struggles to take fresh air into his lungs; given the seriousness of his injuries and his completely drained stamina, he can't even manage to thrash about underneath her... and even if he were, it would likely be so weak and ineffectual that it would only serve to heighten Juri's pleasure.

As she pushes her chest towards his face, Charlie wishes he were able to lean forward and take a chunk out of her flesh with his teeth - the events of the past few minutes, and that strange psycho power poking away at his sanity, have reduced him to a level of savagery and violence he hadn't experienced before... but he's stuck, unable to even lift his head off the sand - the only way to show his anger is through that one, unswollen eye.

Then, another opportunity is presented to him; Juri snaking one hand up his neck and resting two fingers on his chin... she 'walks' them all the way up his face in a fashion which is oddly emasculating - as though he were little more than a harmless child which she could poke and prod without worry. When her two digits pass over his lips, Major Nash suddenly opens his mouth before snapping it shut - a clumsy attempt to trap her fingertips between his bloody teeth, doomed to fail before he'd even attempted it. She might be a lot of things, but a Shadaloo agent of her caliber wouldn't be so reckless as to fall prey to such a predictable trick.

The flick on his nose which follows is just the cherry on top, demonstrating without a doubt exactly how harmless he was in Juri's eyes. It's enough to cause the already-straining tendons in his neck to bulge out more, accompanied by some very, very angry looking veins which are visible around his temples.

"Lie to myself? ... I know... what I am... and what I do... is necessary... I don't... enjoy it. God... /damnit/... you're wasting your time... just get it /over/ with..."

The words aren't spoken like a man who is begging for mercy; but there is a certain emotion they carry with them. Almost like he were attempting to appeal to her more benevolent nature - not that he truly believes such a thing exists in her. Still, she was surely a normal person once upon a time?

He used to think that monsters were made, rather than born - that inside even the most brutal and relentless war criminal, there was still something that made them human. Some sense of decency deep down which could still be reached, even if prudence dictated that they could never be allowed to live in a civilized world.

Of course, that was before he'd met Juri Han in the flesh.

Once again Juri finds that there is yet fun to be had in playing with this toy as Nash futile attempts to defy her in whatever petty ways he is capable of. Of course, that isn't much right now and his efforts are more amusing than frightening to her. Most people might have reacted to having someone try to earnestly bite their fingers by yanking them away in a panic but the girl's nimble digits easily dance over his gnashing teeth to inflict their humiliating blow upon his pride.

It isn't hard to see - and feel - the soldier's growing frustration at her tactics. Pain is easy to resist. From the very first moment we experience it as human beings we quickly learn that it is something undesirable. It serves as an evolutionary warning signal to our brains, a flashing red light that whatever we are doing is something really stupid or bad. People who engage in regularly painful activities such as full contact sports or brutal warfare are trained to resist its influences, exposing themselves to hardship over time to build up a tolerance.

But pleasure is an entirely different matter all together. How does one condition their mind to resist bliss? Who would want to? It would be like trying to convince yourself through sheer will that fire is cold. Perhaps, with enough time and effort, you might achieve a measure of success but no matter how hard you try to ignore the sensation of heat the fire will still burn you.

The viscously pleasurable presence of the young girl's body atop his own blazes against Charlie's senses like a raging bonfire. No matter how much he might wish it otherwise, he is a healthy red-blooded male and his instincts react to the overtly sensual display precisely as they were meant to. Though he begs her yet again to spare him this indignity, he is entirely at her mercy, and with every slow movement of her hips she makes sure that he suffers pleasantly through every moment of it.

"So eager to shuffle off this mortal coil, are you? If I were a sensitive girl I might feel insulted by that. Especially after all of the... special attention I've given you."

Juri sits up and withdraws her hands from Nash's chest, giving him room to catch his breath. Though he'd certainly prefer she believe the redness in his face and the faint hints of desperation creeping into his voice are solely related to his struggle to gasp down fresh air, she knows better. Even if she didn't have psychic powers that let her sense his distress, she's got enough experience tormenting hard cases like him to know when she's getting under their skin.

Big masculine soldiers like Charlie aren't used to being helpless or dealing with the sort of emotional confusion she's assaulting him with. Lust and fury are two sides of the same coin, after all, both of them intense desires that can dredge up some of the darker aspects of a person's soul. There's a reason 'hate fuck' exists as a concept in the human vernacular.

Juri's smile becomes positively vulpine and she settles into the rhythmic motion of her hips with fresh enthusiasm.

"Are you afraid of what I make you feel, killer? Does it embarrass you that your little soldier stands at attention even in the face of certain doom? Guess it's a good thing I splattered all your buddies into paste otherwise this would be rather... awkward."

Another few agonizing moments pass as the girl works him over, taking obscene delight in squeezing out whatever noises of pain or pleasure she can from his tormented flesh. Then, without warning, she moves with that insane unnatural speed, leaning forward to wrap her fingers around his throat. There isn't any need for her to move with such alacrity - she could have casually folded each finger around his neck one by one and there isn't a damn thing he could do about it - but the transition is jarring enough that she probably did it solely to inflict further pain.

Gone is the lazy look of hedonistic pleasure, replaced by a mask of manic glee. Blazing purple eyes as wide as the moon stare down at him from only inches away, the girl's mouth twisted into a psychotic grin made far more disturbing for its uncomfortable proximity. A haunting peal of maddened laughter spills out into the air, her voice staining his already scrambled mind like a psychedelic drug.

"Hahahahaha! You just don't get it, do you?! I'm the one who decides who lives and who dies here! This is my world, -my- rules!"

Her grin widens as she tightens her grip, the bones in his neck practically creaking with an audible protest. She watches with sadistic delight as the lack of oxygen slowly does its work, robbing him of what little strength he has left, killing him just a little bit more with every passing moment. It is perhaps the most cruel and painful way in which she could render him unconscious - it isn't quick and it certainly isn't pleasant - and all the while the steady roll of her hips continues to stimulate him even as he gasps for air.

It is the first true mercy he receives when the blackness finally starts to close in on his vision. Slowly at first but then more quickly he feels the embrace of the void slither into his mind, the quiet cold emptiness a blissful reprieve from the torment of her touch. But even as he slips away, the girl's voice drifts down into the depths of his mind, echoing through the darkness with haunting clarity.

"Sweet dreams, little fly. I look forward to playing with you again. Hahahaha...!"

Log created on 11:25:44 07/12/2021 by Charlie, and last modified on 12:44:51 07/22/2021.