SNF 2018.04 - SNF: Adopt A Spangles

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Description: Sometimes, even famous people can be orphans. The world famous Lightning Spangles actress, Pepper Green, had tragically lost her parents in the Metro City Incident. Thus, she has always been ready to be adopted. Why not Jezebel, the old, unofficial Lightning Spangles? But stopping her is one of the current 'Fake' Spangles, Hayley Bretherton, AKA Aussie Spangles. The actress has also lost her father, and can turn to Jezebel as a second mommy or even a father figure also! Taking place in Antelope Canyon, both Aussie Spangles and Lightning Spangles must fight it out on who will have the honor of calling Jezebel mommy. The winner will get to choose is they will be adopted by Jezebel, or graciously allow their counterpart to be adopted instead.


Hayley feels as if she's sitting on a powder keg. Her stomach is twisted in knots dreading what's going to come with this event. She signed up for an SNF hoping to fight someone new, to get back in the swing of things after a brief hiatus. She had forfeited in Golden Angel rather than see her fight to the end, and the criticism had been fierce. Some didn't blame her, of course, but she felt like she'd derailed herself before she even got started. A new SNF was a chance to get back on stage and show she wasn't a coward, or a bad fighter, or any of those awful things people were probably saying.

Instead, she got...this. This train wreck of a fight.

But like a train wreck, it's just so hard to look away. Part of her knew better. She could have been a coward and refused the invitation, but she hung in there. Maybe it was out of loyalty to Jezebel, or maybe it was the vain, vain hope that some good could come of it.


Hayley opened the envelope from her mother's penthouse in Hong Kong. She'd crashed here since her last round of Golden Angel left her...wanting out of the spotlight for a while. She'd initially entered the professional circuit in search of her father. It was the quickest way, she thought, to get his attention. When he'd left, she was a disappointment, but she was slowly getting better. It'd been a rough road so far, but each fight she was getting better. Slowly improving. Winning a SNF---no, even putting on a good showing---that would would get her back on track.

But this? She didn't want this. It was wrong. She knew it was wrong, but she also couldn't bring herself to turn it down.

Hayley adjusts her gloves, dressed in her tanktop and uniform pants. She stretches a few times. Maybe Pepper Green turned them down? Maybe they wouldn't have to go through this after all?

Hayley puts on her best face though. At least she's getting better at acting.

Lightning Spangles won't be showing up.

There was a great deal of discussion about this in the Disney board rooms, but it was determined that even if they had to agree to this in order to get Pepper Green out there with some positive image, there was no way that DISNEY'S LIGHTNING SPANGLES was going to be anywhere near Jezebel Faiblesse. The whole event had the potential to turn into a complete disaster.

They even tried calling up Michael Eisner to see if he was still in contact with any of the old Fixers from the Straight-To-DVD days that had been sent out a few times to solve some eastern European piracy problems, but he was too busy not caring to return their call.


Pepper Green hadn't said a single word on the entire helicopter ride out to the canyon. With no DISNEY'S LIGHTNING SPANGLES, she'd actually dressed fairly appropriately for the local terrain, with a pair of worn-in cowboy boots, jeans, a flannel, and topping it all off with her old sheepskin coat. For once she didn't have to worry about all the layers of make-up she was coated in whenever she had to go out in the lights, and her hair had been secured in a pair or simple braids for practicality. And it was all the more clear that this was just a 14-year-old girl.

And there was no smile.

As the helicopter makes touchdown, a balding man in a suit who hasn't gotten off his cellphone the entire time is the first one out, his necktie and combover flapping wildly in the rotor wash as he raises his voice to be heard on the other end of the phone call by whoever's on the other side, "Yeah, I understand that we're getting free advertising during the fight for the new Winnie the Pooh/Marvel crossover movie, but that's not the point. The point is that nobody warned us that Faiblesse would be involved in this before we agreed! She's bad for the goddamn brand, and she's completely unstable!"

Pepper Green steps out right after, walking past the suit until she's not being completely buffeted by the helicopter's wind. Her eyes are on the ground, her mind anywhere else but here as she finds a decently rounded rock and begins to idly roll it about with her boot, sorting out some pointless rules for an aimless game, much like a kid figuring out which tiles they're allowed to step on as they wait for their parents to finish talking to an old family friend.


A few days ago, Jezebel couldn't believe her fortune.

It was one thing to do a SNF. But after she recovered from her broken arm, after she recovered from her fight with Adelheid, she was beginning to get used to the makeup work. To cover the scars on her face. She even found a makeup that didn't irritate the skin around her mechanical eye. The blonde-haired actress was in fact practicing in the mirror, when she got the call. She took it. "Honoka?" She immediately blurted out. But it wasn't. She heard it though. She heard the offer.

"Chaos Agent, Pepper vs Hayley."

The details were kind of a blur, the medicine Jezebel took made it hard to remember things. But she remembered that. She remembered, and she nearly cried. She loved Hayley like a daughter, and Pepper? The girl who stole Lightning Spangles from her? Jezebel loved her too, just like a daughter. A happy mother of the Spangles family. And she was going to supervise them, as they fought to decide WHO gets adopted by Jezebel! Jezebel had incredible dreams about this before, about being a loving mother to her Spangles children. And She asked where the fight was taking place? Where would it be?

"The Crack."


Jezebel's been here before.

This was where her career died. This was where they took away Lightning Spangles from her. This is where the boy died. This is where it all happened. Jezebel arrives alone, in a rental jeep, with a local driving it. She is dressed in jeans, and a brown vest, with a white top tied up underneath. She had a cowgirl hat on, but it wasn't Lightning Spangles. Even as the boots kick up the dust. She remembers this place with Honoka. She remembers this place. She could feel the pain with every step, as she sees the ghosts of the boy in the shadows of the canyon. But it was fine. It was all fine. She wasn't even allowed to be Lightning Spangles. Because even though she wasn't Lightning Spangles?

She was smiling.

The actual fighting area was at the entrance of the Upper Antelope Canyon. Beams of light cascaded down from overhead, as the fighting section was fully within. Around the entrance, it had three groups of people there. Fans. Fans of each fighter. And it was a painful, silent event. The tension was so thick, you could cut it with a knife. They hated each other. Their internet wars were long and fierce. But Jezebel stands there, as the crowd remains silent, as she shields her eyes, staring down the helicopter. As it lands, she looks at the little girl and her handler. ANd she feels.... she feels a warmth in her heart. She approaches the young girl. Their last meeting was... was not good. But this time was different.

There would be no Spangles between them this time.

"How-" she starts, before choking. Don't screw this up Jezebel. You act like Lightning Spangles, and you ruin it. You ruin everything like for Lightning Spangles, just like last time. She corrects herself. "Hello Pepper!" She says brightly. "I'm Jezebel Faiblesse, and I am so glad you could make it! Aussi- Hayley will be here soon, don't you worry! Do you need any Pepsis, or Butterfingers, or the cool refreshing taste of high quality Wal-Mart brand Fruit Gushers?" Jezebel looks at the girl, reaching out to touch her on the shoulder, all friendly like. "Come on, you should be happy!"

"This is going to be a great big fight for you!"

Hayley continues to shadowbox. She's kept her distance so far, treating the initial setup a bit like a fighter in a professional fight. This is a professional fight, isn't it? She keeps telling herself that, and that this is her time to warm-up. To prepare.

To tell herself it will be alright. It will be alright, won't it?


"You going to another of those fights?" Xiu asks Hayley, one hand planted firmly on her hip. Hayley shrinks behind her duffel bag guiltily at the sound of her mother's voice.

"Well, it's..." Hayley looks for the words. "I have to get out there again. My reputation's kind of shot after--

"After that spectacle in Japan, I know. That not on you. Awful sponsors tried to exploit people like you with big ideals. You were right to leave that kind of trash."

"But Mom, there were some good fighters there. Nice people who--"

"Good fighters, but not good sense. Good riddance. You can meet them again somewhere else. Is this another swimsuit contest?"

"No, it's a fight--" Hayley can't bring herself to say it right away. "It's a--"

"Jezebel again, isn't it? I can see it on your face. You know that woman has problem. We talked about this. It's good that you want to help her, but she is dangerous, Hayley. I do not like her, and I do not like you being around her."


Hayley looks up to see Pepper's helicopter. Her agent. She remembers her father's agent, some of her mother's over the years. It's a familiar feeling. This man looks not too dissimilar from any of them. The Australian swallows, brushes her hair back, and starts to move to greet Pepper. It's then that Jezebel arrives. Hayley tenses and doesn't move further. Not yet.

"Ah ah ah ah!" the agent snaps as Jezebel moves in to touch Pepper, grabbing her by the wrist without dropping his phone. "Just a moment, Steve, I've got a problem to deal with," he says into the phone before glaring at Jezebel, holding the phone to his shoulder to muffle it. "You have an existing agreement with Lightning Spangles Productions, which is a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company. Just because this is not an official event for Disney's Lightning Spangles Showup Hoedown does not mean you are are free to engage with our client."

There is a very awkward moment as he leans over, trapping his phone between his cheek and his shoulder so that he can reach into his pocket, pull out his wallet and remove a business card, extending it out toward Jezebel. "I represent Pepper Green's legal guardians, if you wish to engage with Pepper Green, you'll need to speak through me, Myron Doyle. And, wait one second," he interrupts himself reaching up to grab his phone with the same hand he'd been using to extend the card even if she hasn't managed to take it yet.

"Steve, are you still there?"

All of it is enough of a distraction that Pepper, without responding at all, simply approaches the cordoned off area for the fight. If there was supposed to be some big grand entrance planned for when she arrived, there isn't really any time before she's in the zone, completely ignoring the crowd and the weird mixture of cheers and...

Okay, that's not just boos. Somebody out there just shouted that Jezebel should kill this kid in the canyon, too.

When the Agent intercepts, Jezebel's presence shifts.

Turning her good eye at Myron Doyle, she continues to smile. But the stare -pierces- through him. She remembered working for Disney. She remembered when they protected her. She remembered how she hated them, how she wanted to be free, to meet with boys, to hang out at parties, to smoke marihuana, how she wanted to be a real woman. And that's why she smiles. Because she was hurt. But she understood. She understood. "I understand." Jezebel says. As Pepper enters apathetically, there is a puff of glitter and cut up paper that bursts up in the air. No pyrotechnics.

Not anymore.

"I'm not going to fight... I'm not the main fighter." Jezebel justifies to the agent. And the cry comes out from the audience. "Ha ha ha, no! No! I am not- I am not fighting Pepper! She's a good kid, and you shouldn't kill her! Ha ha, I mean, come on folks!" Jezebel fights so hard, as she sees the dead boy in front of her, everywhere, on every single face. She feels the weight of murder all around her, murder and failure and how much Lightning Spangles hated her. Where was Hayley. "We are all here for... for Spangles fun! Just without the Spangles! Just the people behind the character." The audience responds with that same lukewarm mix of boos and cheers, including a rather obscene comment about Jezebel's past movies.

And Jezebel just laughs.

"Hayley!" She calls out, walking away as the glitter scatters around the ring. "Hayley! WHere are you! It's time for you to come out! You need to fight Pepper! This is your chance!" She speed walks, power walks towards the sidelines, with the very presence of an angry mother, even as she smiles. "Hayley! Come on out now! We need you Hayley!" She approaches the warming up Hayley, her gaze locked on. "Hayley!"

"What is the matter with you?"

Hayley watches the exchange, too far away to hear, but she can read lips reasonably well. She can read lips even better when she knows the act by heart. She can almost hear the agent tell Jezebel about the contract, about legal agreements. The presentation of the card feels as much on a script as any actor. He didn't even give her time to take it before going back to his call. Job done, one supposes.

But then Jezebel speaks to Hayley. She blinks suddenly, brushing her slightly shaggy black hair back and out of her face. "Oh, sorry. Sorry Jezebel, I was just warming up." She looks at Jezebel's outfit, at Pepper's. She almost feels out of place amount the boots and flannels. Was their a wardrobe requirement? Did she forget that? She exhales deeply.

"I don't think I've met Pepper before. Hi, Pepper! I'm Hayley." She bows in proper martial arts fashion.

"It's nice to meet you. I uh," A pause. Where did the words go? "I hope I can give you a good fight!"

That isn't what she meant to say. Where was there 'Sorry you got dragged into this?' that was there a minute ago...?

All of this is supposed to be a big friendly show where one corporate interest allows their talent to participate in a big fighting event in exchange for preferential advertising space. The fact that Disney doesn't currently own Saturday Night Fights like it owns almost every other media property is a bit of an annoyance for the juggernaut, especially seeing as this has resulted in Jezebel Faiblesse getting involved with their new Disney's Lightning Spangles against their wishes.

Mr. Myron Doyle is too busy on his phone yelling about things to whoever "Steve" is to actually be keeping an eye on Pepper, or even paying attention to the rowdiness of the crowd. They forgot to bring enough Disney Goons to try to quiet things down to begin with, or else some of these shouting fight fans making particular crass might have found themselves in official Disney Reeduction Centers, much like the one under Disney Parks for troublemakers.

And whatever is going on, Pepper hasn't looked up once. This isn't DISNEY'S LIGHTNING SPANGLES as played by Pepper Green, this is just Pepper, staring down at the ground, unexpressive and unresponsive.

Not that Myron Doyle had gotten off his phone long enough to recognize that the young starlet under his care was behaving unusually, he was too busy being upset that the wrong person had gotten involved in this dumb gimmick match.

Not that there was anybody to notice.

Pepper Green was an uncomfortable property. She knew how to be DISNEY'S LIGHTNING SPANGLES from the start. She didn't cause problems. She helped inspire lots of kids all over the world. She'd even helped them win and maintain a title belt for their property.

She also had a rock in her hand.

The bell hadn't rung, the biggest noise being the rowdy crowd, each proclaiming their own favored version of the iconic character, barely paying attention to the young women in the ring as there threatened to be a few fights amongst the crowd.

But the rock came around, Pepper swinging up with it as she screamed. There was no fancy technique. No tricks. None of the innate skill that had earned Pepper Green her spot in the world.

She was just trying to bash Hayley in the head.

COMBATSYS: Pepper has started a fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Pepper           0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Hayley has joined the fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Pepper           0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Hayley

COMBATSYS: Hayley instinctively blocks Pepper's Small Random Weapon.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Pepper           0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Hayley


"Hold on, back up. Adopt a -what?!- Let me see that!"

Miko Kobayashi is the name on the patient's room placard. And the array of nice, black-suited gentleman that have accompanied her since induction to the Hokkaido University Hospital have been perfect gentlemen.

Even still, the orderly glances at the room with some trepidation, as the nice man she'd come to know as Akio disappears into the room with the overly demanding patient she's none too fond of.


It would be easy to ignore the young boy in the crowd. Too easy to ignore him, really. The beams of light cascading from overhead are fickle and ephemeral, moving with the shifting clouds overhead. Sure, they tend to -focus- on the fighting arena, at large, but that just means the performers are bathed in light while the audience appears as little more than shadowed masses, surging and swelling with the tides of battle.

And one little boy, who couldn't be older than ten years old, watches the fight with rapt attention. His eyes flit back and forth from one fighter to the next. He loves Lightning Spangles -- and even though none of these fighters may be fully living up to the name, he knows the true connection.

Before, only one woman could claim the title of the greatest American Hero.
And now, there are three.

The child's height, his build, his features are almost the same as a child here quite some time ago. But, unlike Arthur Solomon, this child is wearing phosphorescent, glow-in-the-dark paint on his face. Paint that, in the dim lighting of the shadowed recesses of the canyon, makes him look like a corpse, risen from the dead.

But nah. He'd be easy to miss. Real easy. There's a whole lot of people in the crowd.

Hayley is expecting a hello, or a how do you do. Maybe an awkward one, certainly, but she's expecting one none the less. This is Lightning Spangles. An authorized Lightning Spangles! Hayley's a bit old for the new show, but she knows the deal. She may have even watched it a time or two to see how it compared.

But instead, Hayley gets a rock. It's a rock kicked it with such force and speed that it would have likely smashed into the face of someone else. Hayley though, even though she's not much older than Pepper, handles it differently. Her arm snaps up in a blur, stone smacking against muscle as Hayley's kenpo-style forearm block the skips the rock off to the side somewhere.

"Whoa!" Hayley interjects, putting on her best face even though she's slipped into her bouncy, boxer-like stance. "I didn't hear a bell there, you uh--sorry if I said something wrong?" She looks Pepper over for a long moment, sizing the girl up. She looks even younger in person. She's skilled and not that much older than Hayley herself, but the Aussie's unease is almost palpable.

COMBATSYS: Hayley focuses on her next action.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Pepper           0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Hayley

This clearly isn't what the audience came here to see.

What, exactly, they'd hoped to see is certainly up for debate given the three strong camps that had already formed in the crowd, but it's unlikely that any of them expecting to end up with the youngest, most current DISNEY'S LIGHTNING SPANGLES just lunge at someone with a rock before the fight began. There's a great deal of confusion, and even a few of the Hayley fans already booing the clearly inappropriate behavior of Pepper.

There are also some unusual cheers, because Jezebel has a tendency to bring in a... questionable audience.

Myron Doyle is still far too busy with his phone call to actually be paying any attention, "Oh, sounds like the fight started or something, Steve. Whoever booked this match is an idiot, you know how volatile Lightning Spangles fan factions get."

As for Pepper Green herself, there's still no response, but once the scream has started, it's like a dam has burst. There are no words, but the expression on her face seems utterly at odds with her clean-cut image as DISNEY'S LIGHTNING SPANGLES. She looks furious. Uncontrolled. None of her exceptional fighting skill is displayed, and it's almost like one would expect from a schoolyard brawl.

With the rock failing to find purchase, it's simply let go, falling to the ground as she continues trying to keep moving in, lashing out with her fists, just punching wildly with no real obvious aim.

COMBATSYS: Hayley fails to interrupt Strong Punch from Pepper with Koala Clutch.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////      ]
Pepper           0/-------/------=|===----\-------\0           Hayley

Hayley shifts her footing when Pepper lets go of the rock, but she doesn't have time to talk too much before there's another punch coming her way.

"H-hey! Are you okay, Pepper?" Hayley asks, but the punch is coming for her chin. She hesitates for a moment, then goes in low for a grab, intending to scoop up the other girl and put her in something resembling a half-nelson.

At least, that seems to be Hayley's intent before her hesitation rewards her with a swift blow to the jaw. The punch, furious and unfocused as it is, still turns Hayley's head and sends spittle across the canyon dust. With it, the Aussie staggers backward a few steps with her head spinning. She can already hear here mother's words ringing in her ears.


"Hayley, you now this is a terrible idea."

Having found the advantage, it seems as if Pepper is unwilling to let up, not saying a word, but screaming with everything she does.

The crowd is getting rowdy. Even if there is a strange, older audience for some of the various versions of LIGHTNING SPANGLES, it's still a kids show, and the big opportunity to throw together an event featuring the actresses behind the characters, especially for an adoption themed night when one of the versions of LIGHTNING SPANGLES is a famously orphaned girl.

Either someone in the programming department for Saturday Night Fights is an idiot or they assumed that someone in the Walt Disney Company had actually bothered to find a way to provide a stable environment for Pepper Green rather than just trusting that a 14-year-old acting prodigy is a trustworthy source on her own emotional state.

Pepper Green's current emotional state seems to be nothing more than mindless rage, as she keeps pressing forward, now throwing a vicious elbow at Hayley.

COMBATSYS: Hayley just-defends Pepper's Fierce Punch!

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////    ]
Pepper           0/-------/------=|===----\-------\0           Hayley

Maybe at some other time and place, Hayley would have known better. As a "rookie" Spangles, she's new to the whole thing. Truthfully, she's not entirely sure if she has bought into it or not. With Jezebel's other ramblings at times, it seems almost...surreal. Fantastic. Imaginary.

But someone in programming decided it was a worthy theme for a fight, and now Hayley is facing the current Lighting Spangles, or at least the girl behind the persona. An angry fourteen-year-old who seems to want nothing more at the moment than to pound Hayley into the dirt.

But the older girl is ready, this time. The elbow comes in and Hayley catches it with a cross-block, bracing one palm with the other arm to redirect it away from her face. She bites her lip.

"What is wrong with you?" she says in a pointed whisper, aimed at not being loud enough for the crowd to hear. She's a performer too, at least on some level. Even so, she still can't bring herself to be too aggressive. It feels wrong. This isn't how a fight should be. It's not what she signed up for at all!

But Hayley springs up, hopping into a flying leg-scissors to try and catch Pepper in a sambo-style hold and take her down to the ground.

That's what it was like.

Both Hayley and Pepper knew what it was like. People just... let you be yourself. Not really yourself. Just the pain, the shame. But it's better to let young ladies hurt than to do anything about it. The rules were unofficial, but clear as a bell in Jezebel's time. Never do anything to yourself that would show. With the purity clause, it was remarkably easy. Cuts and bruises around the chest, the bathing suit areas in general would never be seen. So you could hurt, and hurt, and it would be control of your life again.

Or at least, the illusion of it.

Jezebel had a lot more to tell Hayley. To scold her, tell her how to be a good person. A whole speech. You should be a good example to Pepper; she was a younger Spangles, the real Spangles, a good Spangles. She should be a good example, and walk up to her, and encourage her. She wanted to say all that. And yet, Hayley walks past her, as she stares, slack jawed. She doesn't say anything.

Because she sees the boy

She is in a hypnotic daze, confused, staring at him. She felt so cold, so numbed, transfixed on him. She remembers that face. She remembers Zach holding him. She remembers the death, the aura of death, the mask for death. Even with the moanin and groaning of the crowd, she just stares. She knows death, she remembers death. She is entranced in death, deaf to the raw battle between Hayley and Pepper. She was even walking towards the boy, as the sound of the scream breaks her gaze. Looking at the chaos, she mouths a curse silently, as her children, her daughters, were mauling each other. A big sister, into a little sister, leaping into a takedown.

And Jezebel decides instantly.

"What the heck are you doing Hayley?!" Jezebel bursts out, stomping towards her, face turning red as the smile burns on her lips. A firm tone like a mother, stampeding at the pair. Everything was going so fast, the crowd was going manic, the people were going manic. The boy, the boy with the withering piercing eyes. She needed to get control of this. She had to assert control. "Hayley, you are better than this! You need to show her how to be a proper Spangles! GET OFF HER!" She screams out. And upon the pair, she draws back, leaning back. To unleash a staggering straight kick, attempting to break the two up. To drive in deep.

And turn her back to Pepper.

COMBATSYS: Jezebel has joined the fight here on the top side.

                 [ |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Jezebel          0|-------|-------
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////////     ]
Pepper           0/-------/------=|==-----\-------\0           Hayley

COMBATSYS: Hayley successfully hits Pepper with Crocodile Tear.

                 [ |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Jezebel          0|-------|-------
[     \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////////     ]
Pepper           0/-------/----===|====---\-------\0           Hayley

"What the hell?"

Finally Myron Doyle hears enough from the crowd and what's going on for the fight proper to realize that even for as much of a mess as they'd been expecting, this was starting to turn bad. "Goddamit, Steve, is this shit live? Who the hell is running this, you better get the lawyers going, we're going to have to keep this from airing."

As he refuses to put down his phone and actually get involved, he moves toward the nearest camera, physically imposing himself between the camera and the action, picking up his voice to yell at the camera man. "Shut this all down! We're cutting the partnership, and we'll have just cause for voiding the contract after your bosses threw that whack-job Faiblesse into this!"

Back inside the ring, Pepper absolutely refuses to come down from whatever it is that's finally come unleashed inside of her. She doesn't try to move away from the hold, or flip back out of it, she seems to simply allow herself to go to the ground and re-engage the struggle there without the consistency or control to consider the positioning.

It's only when Jezebel starts to interfer that anything happens, and it's simply Pepper, staying on the ground, aiming to force herself on top of the older girl and start punching. Whatever rules Jezebel had about keeping things where they can't be seen, it's as if Pepper just wants to beat someone's face, and Hayley has the misfortune of being there.

COMBATSYS: Jezebel successfully hits Hayley with Thrust Kick.

                 [ |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Jezebel          0|-------|-----==
[     \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////          ]
Pepper           0/-------/-----==|=======\-------\1           Hayley

COMBATSYS: Hayley instinctively blocks Pepper's Fierce Combo.

                 [ |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Jezebel          0|-------|-----==
[     \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////            ]
Pepper           0/-------/----===|=======\=------\1           Hayley

Hayley is only peripherally aware of the shift in attitude from Pepper's handler. He's yelling something about cutting the feed, but it's indistinct in the rush of wind across her ears as she executes the takedown. For a moment, she's sitting there trying to hold Pepper still using the power of her legs.

And when Hayley hears Jezebel screaming at her, she turns, wide-eyed. Her expression is blank, for a moment, as if the betrayal just set in. It's only there for a fleeting moment before Jezebel's kick smashes into her jaw with an ear-ringing kick that knocks the dark-haired girl clean off of Pepper and into a heap.

And before Hayley can even protest, before she interject or say something further, Pepper starts hammering on her. Hayley does the only thing she can do, for the moment, she turtles up to shield her face. She doesn't even counter attack right away.

COMBATSYS: Hayley takes no action.

                 [ |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Jezebel          0|-------|-----==
[     \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////            ]
Pepper           0/-------/----===|=======\=------\1           Hayley


Cataclysmic Meltdown.

As Jezebel slams her leg into Hayley, knocking her into a heap, Jezebel could feel it. Hear it. Sense it. Grip it. It was falling apart. They were taking it away from her. As Myron tries to stop it, Jezebel shakes her head. "Look what you did Hayley!" She says breathlessly, as Pepper roars in. She couldn't blame Pepper. Pepper was just a young girl with Disney. But Hayley? Hayley never understood, never was part of Disney. Jezebel just shakes her head desperately, as the chaos unfolds even more.

She had to fix this.

"It's okay Myron!" Jezebel calls out, waving her arms as Pepper rips into Hayley like a rabid animal. ""It's okay! Everything is undercontrol! Every thing is fine! Please don't cancel! Keep the cameras rolling! Keep the cameras rolling!" Jezebel waves her arms, as the crowd begins to build into dark delight. This was it. This was the reason why this all happened. Because it wasn't about Spangles. It was about entertainment.

And the folks at home were more than entertained.

"Hayley- I-" Jezebel sputters, as Pepper doesn't stop. Throwing her arms down, she... she tries to turn to the camera. "Yes! This kind of fighting can be seen with the latest from Marvel and Disney! Winnie The Deadpooh! Fortunately I know how to subdue Pepper just like how Tigger has to knock out a crazed Piglet high on cocaine!" She doesn't even know if that's in the movie. She just makes it up, trying to make everything... make everything okay. She looks at Pepper, and shaking her hands, she just...

She just throws herself on the 14 year old girl.

She tries to get into a weak triangle choke on Pepper, attempting to wrap her arm around her neck, to pull her off Hayley. "Sh... sh... sh..." She whispers, as she tries to hold Pepper, to pin her down. "Sh... sh... sh... It's okay... I know... I know you want to prove to me that you are the best Lightning Spangles... I know it's very important to be adopted by me..."

"But you need to just calm down, okay?"

COMBATSYS: Pepper endures Jezebel's Medium Throw!

                 [ |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Jezebel          0|-------|---====
[         \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////            ]
Pepper           0/-------/-======|=======\=------\1           Hayley

It's not Hayley that Pepper is mad at.

As the older girl manages to scramble away from her, there's a moment of clarity for Pepper Green. Through all of the anger at being forced into all of this. Hayley wasn't the one telling her what to do. Hayley wasn't the one who kept her locked in all of this misery. Hayley hadn't set all of this up.


The shout is enough to almost deafen the crowd as Pepper bellows it at Jezebel, letting the old LIGHTNING SPANGLES drag her away... as she kicks back the instant she starts to be pulled back, aiming to launch herself into Jezebel and slam her back into the ground, suddenly pulling her training together. All of the anger that had built up. All of the pain.

An elbow is thrown, aiming for Jez's jaw as Pepper tries to take control, to hit Jezebel with all of the built-up suffering she'd gone through.

"If you weren't such a piece of garbage that screwed up so bad that they actually kicked you out, my parents would still be alive!" She shouts, her face now streaming with tears, her voice breaking. "They'd have never been in Metro City if everyone didn't know you were awful! They wouldn't have wanted me! They wouldn't have needed me!"


COMBATSYS: Pepper successfully hits Jezebel with Someone To Hold.

                 [      |||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Jezebel          1|-------|=======
[          \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////            ]
Pepper           1/-------/=======|=======\=------\1           Hayley

Jezebel wasn't aware where she was.

She knew she was at the place where she failed. She knew she was around fans. She knew she hurt... hurt Hayley. And she knew she was bitterly clinging to an idea that this would just be another Saturday Night Fight. ANd yet, as she grips Pepper, to hold her, to try and subdue her... the girl turns on her. With hate, and accusations, and real feeling. Real pain. All eyes are on the middle-aged woman holding the berserk teenage girl. Jezebel is almost stunned as Pepper struggles, kicking into Jzebel's gut. And Jezebel's response is too soon.

"... L-l-let it out."

Jezebel's words are breathless. "Let it out Pepper." Jezebel says, terrified. "Hate me, hate me so much." She doesn't let go. She won't let go. She will never let go. The blow connects with her jaw, swelling it. But she doesn't fight back, she doesn't negate it, she doesn't stop it. She just sucks in a hiss of pain. She knows. She knows what this pain was. She felt it every day.

Because she knows what death is.

"Hurt me, Pepper." She whispers. "If you need to hurt me, hurt me. I deserve it. I deserve it all for what happened to you. I deserve this. I deserve it for every person I hurt and every person... every person I killed. I know they hate me. I know you hate me. I deserve justice."

"I've always deserved justice."

Jezebel knows she didn't kill Pepper's parents. But right now, Pepper was more Lightning Spangles than she could ever imagine. Because Jezebel remembers when Lightning Spangles killed her father. She remembers when she killed her own mother. She remembers when those boys died. When she nearly died. Jezebel stares with wide eyes, body bruised, lip bloodied. And she doesn't let go, even as her pin grip loosens. "Take all your hate, Pepper. Take all your hate, and pain. And just pour it in me. Let it all out."

"Hurt me, Pepper."

"Hurt me."

COMBATSYS: Jezebel issues a challenge!!

                 [      |||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Jezebel          1|-------|=======
[          \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////            ]
Pepper           1/-------/=======|=======\=------\1           Hayley

COMBATSYS: Jezebel gives y'all a free turn!

                 [      |||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Jezebel          1|-------|=======
[          \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////            ]
Pepper           1/-------/=======|=======\=------\1           Hayley

Hayley doesn't immediately get up. She stays on the ground, her guard still tight. As she gets her bearings, options run through her head. Should she kick out, try to catch Pepper in an opening enough to break away? She doesn't actually want to fight her, not like this when one of them could get genuinely hurt. She doesn't know Pepper, but something here just seems off and wrong.

Before there's a chance to act, Hayley finds that Pepper has relented. She doesn't parse why at first, between the roar of the bloodthirsty crowd and her still-ringing ears. She looks up between her arms and sees Pepper struggling in Jezebel's grip and hitting her in the stomach. Hayley sits up, planting a hand to keep herself steady. She breathes deep, trying to recenter herself. What should she do? What can she do? Is this the way to work this out?

Hayley bites her lip.

COMBATSYS: Hayley takes no action.

                 [      |||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Jezebel          1|-------|=======
[          \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////            ]
Pepper           1/-------/=======|=======\=------\1           Hayley

"Oh goddammit"

Myron Doyle, talent agent, combover aficionado, and Walt Disney Company representative on site is clearly not happy about this, because even if he's blocking one camera, they have way more than that. Also, everyone in the crowd has goddamn phones.

"Steve, does Disney still have access to the space laser?" he asks into his phone, frowning at the response he gets. "Wait, what the hell do you mean it's a Time Share?! How many other organizations in the world need a goddamn space laser besides Disney?!"

There's a good long pause that seems to calm him down at least a bit, "Oh, I guess if they're giving a discount on genetic engineering projects it can't be that bad... still, we need to keep this disaster from airing. Call in every favor we've got right now."

In sharp contrast to the inanity of Hollywood connections, Pepper is a sobbing, violent mess.


The unrelenting assault of her young fists only intensifies as her body shakes, dark blacks, purples, and blues suddenly flowing off her in all directions as her entire being is coated in energy. Everything that's been built up inside of her coming out at once.

"It's not TV! It's not so magic world where you can pretend to be part of some big plan, and if you play your part everything gets to be happy again! Sometimes you ain't never get to be happy again, so why do you get to run around like you can make up for everything awful that you are?!"

Both of Pepper's arms wrap in tight around Jezebel, squeezing with everything she's got as she tries to haul the old Spangles up off the ground and slam her back down.


COMBATSYS: Pepper successfully hits Jezebel with Never Let Go.

                 [           ||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Jezebel          2|<<<<<<<|<<<<<<<
[          \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////            ]
Pepper           0/-------/-----==|=======\=------\1           Hayley

Jezebel was refusing to fight.

Casting a glance towards Hayley, who stands by and does nothing, she... she struggles. She needed help. She needed help from her Aussie Spangles. But the enraged Pepper was not holding up. As the chi flows over her, Jezebel struggles, trying to keep a grip. As the surge of energy comes, the grip slips away, as the words swim around. Jezebel tries to endure through, tries to force through, tries to make this work. But as she is lifted up, she is -slammed- down as her ribs are cracked, the actress hitting the dirt face first. A round of applause comes, because it does. Face down, Jezebel struggles, trying to recover. Turning over, she looks with her dust-covered mechanical eye, her makeup running, the scars across her face, her nose exposed.

And the smile stays on her lips.

"Because.... because sometimes that's all you can be Pepper." Jezebel gasps, refusing to break away. Her face was turning red, her eyes dancing around. "Sometimes all you can do is be happy. You have to be happy, because if you can't be happy, then the dark thoughts never leave you. You need to just... just accept that the only way to be happy is to be happy."

"Sometimes pretending to be happy... is all you can do."

Jezebel was breathing hard, as the audience was entranced. It wasn't a fight. It was a 14 year old girl attacking Jezebel over, and over, and over again. Lifted up hard. "You just.... you just need to choose to be happy, Pepper. And then you can be the real Lighting Spangles. That's all I wanted for you. I wanted to show you that you could just be happy, you just smile, you just keep smiling Pepper. You make your own reality, Pepper. Whatever you believe in can be real!" Jezebel struggles, moving on all fours as she approaches Pepper, crawling. "You just need to..." She says softly, reaching out for her, smiling with that bloodied nose.

"You just need to pretend to be Lightning Spangles."

There is a strange feeling over the ring, as it almost feels wrong. Violating. ALmost like Jezebel was crawling over to Pepper...

And forcing the mask on her.

Force the Lightning Spangle mask on Pepper.

Make her happy.

Just like how Jezebel was happy.


COMBATSYS: Jezebel gives y'all a free turn!

                 [           ||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Jezebel          2|<<<<<<<|<<<<<<<
[          \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////            ]
Pepper           0/-------/-----==|=======\=------\1           Hayley

Having slammed Jezebel to the ground, Pepper uses the opportunity to break way, stumbling as she tries to recollect herself through the rage and the pain. Just to catch her breath before she drowns in everything.

Only... out there it's still the big crowd.

People watching with rapt attention and cameras.

To the side, another Spangles... no, another girl who plays a Spangles. And behind here is...

Turning back around, Pepper snaps again, her voice raising and breaking through it all like thunder, "LIGHTNING SPANGLES ISN'T A REAL PERSON, SHE'S A CHARACTER! SHE'S SOMETHING FOR KIDS TO WATCH, BUT SHE AIN'T A REAL THING!"

And like a flash, all of Pepper's body language changes, despite the tears streamed down her cheeks, suddenly it's the upbeat face of LIGHTNING SPANGLES. Not just any LIGHTNING SPANGLES, but Jezebel's own version. In her prime. Even without the costume or the makeup or the lights, it's all there.

"Howdy, y'all! It's me! LIGHTNING SPANGLES! And welcome to the LIGHTNING SPANGLES SHOW-UP HOE-DOWN! I'm glad y'all are here, cuz you're my favorite deputies!"

Every motion is spot on, every inflection of the voice is like a recording. For a moment, it's the old Lightning Spangles, here in the flesh.

And then it's gone, replaced by Pepper, the cheer and happiness in her eyes replaced by nothing but fury and suffering. "It's a part! A game! I pretended like I was you because it made my family happy! It made people laugh and smile, but then they shared it, and people saw something they could use to get rid of you, because you were too much of a washed-up mess, too unsafe and unstable even before you came HERE," she stomps and points down at the ground.

And then she kicks up dirt and spits on the ground in front of Jezebel. "And then my parents took me to meet the big people in their suits, because they knew I could make other people happy, because they wanted me to do somethin' special, because I could... and it killed them! What good is Lightning Spangles when it gets people killed?"

And down by the camera, there's a small moment as Myron Doyle looks from the ring out toward all of the camera phones in the crowd... and drops his own phone, "...Shit, we're screwed."

COMBATSYS: Pepper takes no action.

                 [           ||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Jezebel          2|<<<<<<<|<<<<<<<
[          \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////            ]
Pepper           0/-------/-----==|=======\=------\1           Hayley

The audience is ablaze with rage.

The actress playing the latest Lightning Spangles airing every grievance she'd ever had against her predecessor in an unexpectedly brutal grudge match. Every wicked thought harbored in private is hurled out for the consumption of the masses. The worst of humanity, paraded out for the consumption of cameras and recording devices. Shouting drowns out all attempts at reason. Panic reigns supreme, as fans of all ages are caught up in the unceasing, turbulent fervor.

And the boy who, in the dim lighting of Antelope Canyon could be the very spitting image of the President of the Lightning Spangles fanclub, is breaking into tears. Faint streaks tear through the phosphorescent paint on his face, nibbling away at the stylized depiction of a skull painted therein.

The boy's jaw shudders, as Pepper releases her hold. He stares back, horrified, at Pepper and her blasphemous declaration."

"This shit's completely off the rails, I need your help--!" A woman with shoulder-length black hair stands behind the boy, one hand clapped against her left ear, while she barks into the phone on her right. "People are just going effin' psycho! You got all three camps of Spangles fans spouting death threats at each other here, and it's freaking out the kids...!"

The boy's eyes tremble, as Pepper inundates him with the blasphemy. The truth. Whatever it is.

And then, she stops.
And the magic incantation is recited.
His jaw clams up. His eyes well up with hope.

And then his heart breaks into a million pieces, yet again, as the spell is broken.

"N-no! You're... you're not Lightning Spangles...!" His eyes are too clouded to be sure which of the two ladies he might be speaking to -- flitting between Pepper, and the woman she'd just released.

The woman glares at Pepper, before turning away. And, more quietly, she insists, cupping her hand around the phone's microphone: " -- He's breaking from the script!"

Hayley sits there in mute horror for a long moment. Her lips are dry. Words are scarce. What is this? Is she dreaming? Is this a nightmare? Her hands dig into the dirt, clutching loose rock and dust in her fist.

"Pepper I'm sorry," Hayley interjects. "I know you don't know me, but I'm sorry that that happened to you. Nobody deserves to have to go through that. I can't imagine what it's like. I can't find my dad, but he's---" She trails off for a second. "---but there's still hope, and my mom is there for me. I just---"

"---is there something I can do for you?" Hayley looks at Jez. "I don't want you lash out at Jez any more. She didn't want what happened either. She's trying to help even if...even if may not feel like it?"

Hayley takes deep, heavy breaths. Her eyes are watering, and her jaw is starting to swell.

Jezebel could have supported her.

There was a frightened little girl before her, who.... who had lost so much, because of Lightning Spangles. Because of fame. The fame was consuming. Even Hayley... even Hayley wanted to help her. This was chance. This was a chance where they could all come together, and learn, and grow. Jezebel could have accepted this. She could have allowed this. But Pepper... Pepper reveals that she doesn't believe. That she doesn't want the mask. And that draws only one response from Jezebel.

"Shut up."

Jezebel's tone is ice cold, as her smile continues to burn as she remains all fours, taking the dirt in her face. She even touches on the spit on the ground. "You... You stupid girl!" She says shaking her head, both mechanical and biological pupils to pinpricks. "You can't say these things! You are just a- you are just a confused, hysterical girl, you don't understand." She rises into a full stand, brushing off her hands, to look DOWN at Pepper. And she lunges in dangerously.

"Because Lightning Spangles is -real-"

The grown woman strides towards the child, her presence overwhelm, boiling over, as she explains why Lightning Spangles is real. "Lightning Spangles is real because you, and I, and even Hayley and Honoka make her real. We are one, great big Spangles family, because we are the ones who make her real. She -needs- us, Pepper. And you... you betrayed her." Jezebel's neck pops, her muscle and veins bulging. And she realizes it, the clarity blinding her. She turns to Hayley a moment, and something... something seems wrong. And she points an accusing finger at Pepper. "

"You're... SICK!"

Jezebel starts choking on it, clawing at her scarred, bloodied face. She could feel his burning eyes, the boy, burning through her clothing, into her naked skin. "You are a nasty, sick little girl. You know why your parents died? Because you didn't BELIEVE in Lightning Spangles enough! If you believe in Lightning Spangles, with all your heart, only GOOD THINGS happen. I never believed in Spangles enough, and you. Didn't. EITHER. You selfish, selfish, nasty girl, you are a false Spangles, you aren't real, you AREN'T REAL! YOU ARE NOT REAL!"

And it lashes out.

Without thinking, Jezebel suddenly lashes out, bringing her hand at Pepper's face. To slap her, slap her squarely across the face. To make her back into the mold of Lightning Spangles. To strike out and knock away the stupid, awful thoughts from her. And then, look at Hayley, that smile still burned on her lips, her arms dangling from her body loose. "Hurry UP Hayley!" She seethes. "Finish her off, ha ha ha, earn your adoption, Hayley, BREAK the LIAR and the FAKE SPANGLES."

"I believe in you!"

COMBATSYS: Pepper blocks Jezebel's Improvised Smack.

                 [           ||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Jezebel          2|<<<<<<<|<<<<<<<
[           \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////            ]
Pepper           0/-------/----===|=======\=------\1           Hayley

She can see the beast.

Everything that has helped ruin her life is here in front of Pepper, boiling over in a mass of insanity that can't even acknowledge the world around it. This is the reason for all of it.

And Pepper just raises her hand to block the attempted strike, staring into the eye of madness, fighting back with the boiling rage that won't quiet inside of her. She had to lose everything in her life, because one person can't even bother to acknowledge reality.

"You don't DESERVE Lightning Spangles, Jezebel!" she shouts loud enough that she can be heard over ever bit of the commotion. "My family used to watch your old shows almost every night with me. It was fun and it made my parents happy even when they were hurting! But you don't even understand what Lightning Spangles means, and I don't know if you ever did!"

Stepping back, building space, there's a very subtle change. As her step back begins, it's Pepper Green, on the other side its LIGHTNING SPANGLES.

Not Jezebel's LIGHTNING SPANGLES, but the new one. The one Pepper had to create.

"Every one of my deputies at the LIGHTNING SPANGLES SHOW-UP HOE-DOWN needs to remember the most important lesson," LIGHTNING SPANGLES says, her face suddenly bursting with a genuine, happy smile. "Each and every one of you knows that a proper deputy knows that y'all need to be kind."

Looking out to the crowd, LIGHTNING SPANGLES points out toward everyone. "There are days when you're going to hurt, and there are days when ya'll will need somebody to stick up for you... and LIGHTNING SPANGLES is going to be there to give you a shoulder to cry on!"

And then it's Pepper again, all rage and tears as she turns to face Jezebel again. "But it's not magic! It's entertainment!" she bellows full of fury. "You went so crazy that you just keep ruining other people's lives over something that was just supposed to be fun! A TV show!"

Her teeth clench, her breath heavy and ragged as Pepper's rage just keeps building. "If I was going to have to be miserable forever, then I was going to at least make other people feel happy so they didn't hurt like I did. Nobody's left to care about me, it's just Lightning Spangles that people want!"

And then in a flash LIGHTNING SPANGLES is back, her face the same mask of caring happiness as ever for the starlet, "But don't forget the most important thing, y'all!"

"Jezebel Faiblesse doesn't deserve LIGHTNING SPANGLES!"

COMBATSYS: Pepper takes no action.

                 [           ||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Jezebel          2|<<<<<<<|<<<<<<<
[           \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////            ]
Pepper           0/-------/----===|=======\=------\1           Hayley

Hayley feels like she's drowning. It's as if she's trying to dig her way out of a great pit, a swell of emotion tha surges and roils the more she tries to break the surface. For a moment, it seems like there's a life preserver, that Jezebel is going to be an adult here and be responsible. That she'll reach out and help Pepper when she needs it most.

Hayley's jaw drops. She just stands there, dumbstruck by her reaction. The gall. The obsession. The VENOM of it all smashes under her harder than any of the punches did. She can take punches. This is different. This is---


"You don't understand, Mom! She's not a bad person! She's just...hurting, and confused. She needs my help to get better."

Xiu looks at her daughter for a long moment. The Chinese woman's eyes are sad. Exhausted. World-weary.

"Hayley, you are too young. You don't know what that woman needs. She is full of problems. Too many problems for you to help with." Xiu steps across the penthouse apartment. Hayley turns to look away out the window, pulling her arms tight around her waist.

Xiu puts her arms around her daughter's waist, pulling her in. "Listen to me, Hayley. I want you to be happy, but she is bad news. She will hurt you like she hurts herself. Do you hear me? I want you to be careful. Your father---"

"I don't wanna talk about it." Hayley says with a pout. "I have to try. I mean, she's...she was my hero, as a kid."

Xiu lets go and steps back, looking at Hayley for a long, uncomfortable moment.

"Do you even know her, Hayley? You just see her on TV."

Hayley turns and looks at her mother. Her lip quivers.


Art Bretherton reaches down, mussing Hayley's hair. She can't be much older than six or seven. Hayley is seated on a carpeted floor of a hotel room, eyes focused on LIGHTNING SPANGLES on TV.

"C'mon kiddo," Art says, reaching down and scooping his daughter up into his arms. "We gotta go meet your mum."

"But daaad, the show isn't over yet!"

"Aww, come on," Art says with a laugh. "It's just about done, and your mom's waiting. You know she'll be mad at both of us if we're late." Hayley sticks out her lip as he thumbs the button on the TV.


Hayley's fist clenches. "You don't know what you're asking..." she says under her breath. "I SAID YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE ASKING!" she roars on the second time. "What is wrong with you, Jezebel?! This girl just wanted to make people happy, just like you did once. I know that, I know that--" she staggers over her words.

"Rrgh!" Hayley kicks up a chunk of dirt in a fury. "I want to help you, but you make it so BLOODY HARD, because she needs help to!!! Look at her! Look at yourself! This isn't right, this is a train wreck!" Hayley's head turns toward the crowd.

"And they just keep WATCHING like it's some sort of DAMN spectacle!" Hayley turns, arms in the air. "ARE YOU ENTERTAINED YET YOU BLOODY BOGANS! Your kids don't deserve this! NOBODY DESERVES THIS!" Hayley growls again, not really words as much as raw frustration.

What do they get?

What do they get as the screams howl around, as three ladies rip into each other? While the entire Spangles dream is torn apart by wild beasts before the world? Where it is violated again, and again, and again by the people who believe in the Spangles dream more than anything else? This tire fire, this bonfire of burning rubber? This yawning abyss, that three girls scream into?


Roaring applause, as the audience gets to see exactly what they hoped to see in this spectacle of Spangles denied their masks. It was a Colosseum of pain, a roman spectacle where three young ladies were ripped away from their personas, and left writhing at each other as emotionally ravished wrecks. Because in the end, what do their true fans want to see?

The Suffering Of Their Idols.

And only Jezebel enjoys it. As Pepper accuses, and Hayley accuses, and she feels the stings of scorpions into her back, she always enjoyed it. She always enjoyed when she would take the worst beatings imaginable, and her audience only loved her more for it. Her fans, her true fans. She remembered when she tried to kill herself, how her real fans revealed themselves. If Jezebel could just endure the suffering, they would be there for her.

Just like how they are there for her now.

"Because she's -sick- Hayley! Her mind is diseased!" Jezebel declares. "She is twisting the Spangles spirit to cover up her own insecurity! She's a liar and a fraud! And she is so close to being so perfect and beautiful! She just needs let her parents go! They deserved to die! When they died, it made you a better person, so you could dedicate yourself more to Spangles! My parents took too long to die, so I couldn't truly give myself over to Lightning Spangles! You don't think I deserve it? You really think I don't? I used to think I didn't, but then when I was dying, I saw the light! I understood, and I understood. You think you need to be anything special to be Lightning Spangles, deep down?"

"Because you don't matter Pepper."

Jezebel's words are crushing, crushing herself, crushing others. "Only our true fans care about who we are, but the regular fans? Everyone else only care about what we wear, and who we pretend to be. Nobody cares about who is playing Lightning Spangles, only that they are playing her well. Nobody will ever care about Pepper Green, but -everyone- will care about Lightning Spangles!" There is no applause this time, as Jezebel unleashes a reckless barrage of madness into the young girl. Jezebel was taking gut blow after gut blow from Pepper, mentally emotionally and physically. But Jezebel was feeding off it.

And she almost wanted more.

"You hear that, Pepper? You hear that, Hayley? They love us. They love us for what we -are- when we are Lightning Spangles. And we just have to be perfect as Spangles. Not as ourselves, we can rot and disease ourselves as much as we want! Because you don't need to be talented to deserve Spangles, Pepper. You don't need to And... And..."

"HAYLEY." Jezebel suddenly screams.


The mood turns, snapping back. "I am supposed to be unbiased, but why are you messing up this fight Hayley. I -trusted- you and you are ignoring me?!" Jezebel seethes, smiling. "You need to fight Pepper so one of you two can earn the right to be adopted by me! Will it be the winner! Or will it be you or Pepper graciously giving it to the other person, so we can all have a great big teamwork hug, and a POSE for the camera! This is -beautiful- symbolism." Jezebel spits out, walking around in wide circles of the ring. "H-Hay... Hay-ley... I was here for you. I didn't have to be here, but I wanted to believe. I wanted to believe in both of you!" She points at Hayley, and then Pepper."

"Can't any of you just do anything right?"

And in an instant, the tears dry up.

The only thing left inside of Pepper Green's eyes as Lightning Spangles fades from her face is an anger so intense that it freezes, and all of that carries over into her tone, cold and crackling with the menace of feet stepping on cracking ice.

"If it would bring my parents back, I'd burn Lightning Spangles to the ground," she says, staring Jezebel dead on in the eyes. "And I'd probably be doing the world a favor, because it's pretty clear there ain't nothin' else that's keeping you tied to this world, and you're a goddamn cancer."

"And you know what?" she asks as one unnaturally steady finger is raised, pointing directly at Jezebel's chest. "You ruined whatever good it used to be before I even put on the hat, just like you ruined every other thing in your life."

Taking in a deep breath, she sets her words, and then spits them out like venom, "The only good thing you ever did in your life was try to kill yourself, and you couldn't even do that right."

Turning her back, to Jezebel, she starts to walk back to the helicopter, turning her back on the former Lightning Spangles, turning her back on the crowd.

"You know what, Jezebel? I got an offer for you," she says as she pauses to turn directly back to Jezebel herself, a smile on her face. This isn't the mask of LIGHTNING SPANGLES, this is still Pepper Green. And there's not an ounce of anything but hatred in that grin. "If you kill yourself right this time and make the world a better place, I'll put the LIGHTNING SPANGLES hat back on and never take it off again! Just like you want!"

Then she turns to look out at the crowd. The sea of faces and all of those cameras. "But if she can't even do that, I'll do her a favor. I got one million dollars for whoever helps Jezebel Faiblesse finish the job."

Hayley's horror continues to spiral. Emotions swell, raging like a whirlpool that threatens to swallow her up and choke the life out of her. She looks at the crowd helplessly as their applause rings in her ears. Standing agape, she stares in wordless horror at the sheer insanity of it, that inane, vile desire for entertainment. Her fists clench, her heart races. In that minute, she wants to lunge at the nearest bystander, a man in a Lightning Spangles t-shirt and cap. She wants to tear him apart in hopes that the rest of them flee fearing that they're next, that those animals might get what they deserve.

Then she spots the boy in the facepaint.


Hayley sits on the floor of the arena. The lights are low and a lone custodian---a dark, older man in a venue uniform---sweeps the floor on the other side of the stands, shoveling popcorn and candy wrappers into a dust pan. Hayley's knees are pulled tight to her chest, her eyes red and the knees Juujizaryu spotted with tears. The janitor looks up at her, then goes back to sweeping. He looks up again, and sets his dustpan down and starts a slow climb down the stairs to where Hayley is seated.

"Miss? Hey, miss?" he says, leaning down and putting a leathery, calloused hand on her shoulder. "You OK? Why ain't you left already, huh? Where your parents at? Venue's closing soon, you know. Can't lock up till everyone's gone."

"Huh?" Hayley says with a snort. "Oh, I'm just..." She trails off for a moment. "My ride left. I gotta wait on my mom to fly in. I... should have asked for her to call me a cab to the hotel, huh?"

The janitor looks at her for a long moment. His brow furrows. "You want someone to call you one and wait?"


Jezebel snaps her out of her stupor. Hayley turns and looks, the tears welling up again. "I trusted YOU!" she shouts back. "I trusted you and I got THIS!!!" She throws her hands in a frenzy. "Don't guilt ME about not doing enough to help!"

Pepper speaks up, making her own proclamation. Hayley's fist clenches so tight the bones audibly pop. That desire to help, her want for something better just disappears like water down a drain.

Hayley howls in rage and throws her fist into a safety barricade with enough force to put a dent in it. She may have broken her hand in the process, but it doesn't stop her from stomping toward the Jeep.

Jezebel wanted to die.

Pepper's final knife thrust aims squarely between her ribs, as she fully and completely wants Jezebel dead. And Jezebel knows this, feels it. It is cold, so cold, even as she keeps smiling. The death urges flutter around her, but she can escape. She couldn't even kill herself right. Again, and again, and again. But she has her -friends- and her -fans-. That's what the visions told her. That's what the strange boy on the bed showed her. Hayley needed her. Hayley needed her.

And Hayley tells her the truth.

A second knife, right in the back. Jezebel could feel the color falling from her face. It was so cold now. She was psychically on the ground, bleeding to death. Jezebel mouths the words 'Not you too'. She was the victim here. And the audience... the audience begins to boo. Not for Hayley, not for Pepper. But for Jezebel. She ended the fight. There would be no conclusion.

It was over.

There was no fight for Jezebel to meddle in. There was no adoption. Jezebel, as a mother figure, was rejected by both of her daughters. THey didn't want her. They hated her. They wanted her dead. Jezebel feels the hot fires of hell at her feet, as she brings a hand to the scar around her neck. Then to the scars on her face. And all the way up to the mechanical eye. She clings to her love, to her life, her arms trembling.

What would Lightning Spangles do?

"Don't forget to keep your stubs to give in as you come to watch the latest Disney movie!" She cries out, almost exhausted, almost feebly, but with the artificial joy. "Because Second Chances are the biggest theme in the the hottest new take on the latest Disney re-imagination, Mary Poppins! Starring Emma Watson as the titular Mary Poppins, all set in modern era instead of Edwardian England! Bring in your stub.... bring in your ticket stubs, and you can get a bag of popcorn for 2 cents! Don't you understand, Pepper? Hayley?" She screams at their backs.

"It's just Tuppins a Bag!"

Jezebel looks to the audience, who was already leaving. The train wreck was over. It was just picking up the corpses now. "... Tuppins... Tuppins..." She murmurs, trying to... trying to catch the eyes of the audience. But they were all going, all leaving, all taking the busses back. It was over. They were over. They were all filing away, all leaving.

Except the boy with the gruesome face paint, staring straight at her.

The children were caught up in the moment. When applause rang out from the adults, they too clapped. Their emotions were tied all too well to everything else going on.

Except for the boy. The boy who had a very simple purpose for the day. All he had to do was say one very simple sentence. He was promised a bonus, if he could even say one -other- sentence.

But he's not stupid. He saw everything that transpired. He's not just ten, he's ten =and a half=, he would insist.

And he stares back at Jezebel, tears streaming from his face. He did not say his bonus line. And even though the money was good -- even though it would've got him a brand-new Nintendo Switch... he can't bring himself to say the line he was supposed to. The audience stills -- a hush falling over them in expectation. His lip quivers, as he locks eyes with Jezebel.

"We... trusted you."

The tears pour out even more, as an arm is brought up to his face, damming them off.

He breaks away -- finding solace in the welcoming arms of his guardian.

The pair disappears into the crowd as it erupts in rip-roaring laughter.
The older, crueler children in the crowd begin to chant: "JEZZA - BELL - FAIL - BEST! JEZZA - BELL - FAIL - BEST!"

There's no looking back at this point.

Turning from the crowd, Pepper Green continues on the path toward the helicopter that had brought her in, climbing back in and just sitting. Much the way she came in, every bit of expression has left her face. There's no words, nothing even left in her eyes beyond sitting... and waiting.

Myron Doyle isn't far behind. His cellphone, it's screen horribly cracked, left behind in the dirt.

He's pulled another phone out of his jacket pocket, but he hasn't bothered to call Steve up, yet. Who knows what Steve is thinking right now about what happened to Myron. What turmoil he's going through.

But Myron Doyle has a very important job. One of the young talent under his care has just created a giant PR disaster that's going to reflect poorly on the wholesome image of DISNEY'S LIGHTNING SPANGLES, and the brand as a whole.

But more importantly, this young girl has just reached a breaking point so bad that she wished death on someone, with dozens of fans in the crowd and more than a few cellphones recording. Keeping the talent stable and in a happy place is the most important part of the job.

"...Look, next time you want to get someone killed, just ask us to hire the assassin for you so it doesn't get traced back to you. Disney's got some real strong connections with seasoned killers that know how to be discrete about this sort of thing."

With his job done, Myron Doyle hits the call button to get back in contact with the all important Steve, raising the phone up to his ear as it rings and then placing his hand over the receiver as he decides to go the extra mile. "Also, maybe next time you want to let some steam off, we could just get you some cocaine or something."

"Sorry about that, Steve, you won't believe the mess we've got..."

COMBATSYS: Pepper has left the fight here.

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                 Jezebel          2|<<<<<<<|<<<<<<<
[            \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Hayley           1/------=/=======|

Some distance away, Hayley leans on the fence. Her hand is numb, throbbing. She's going to have to explain this one to a doctor somewhere, and then to her mom.

She glances back at the kid, watching him toss himself into the handler's arms from some distance away. He bites her lip, sniffs, and hugs herself tight. This isn't what she wanted. None of this is what she wanted. Where is her phone.


Xiu left the movie set in Macau fifteen minutes ago. A private plane will be waiting by the time she reaches the airport. No expense is spared on getting her to Hayley, but it's a long ways from China to Antelope Canyon, and a long time for Hayley to think about what happened.

COMBATSYS: Hayley has left the fight here.

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                 Jezebel          2|<<<<<<<|<<<<<<<


Jezebel realizes how alone she is, as Hayley leaves her, as the precious, precious Spangles Jr... wasn't. Was never. Never ever. The family that Jezebel imagined, her friends, her fans, her loves. She couldn't even reach Ainu Spangles, Honoka. She wanted them to reach her. And yet, they wouldn't. A few months ago, Jezebel might just hang herself from the canyon walls right now. But as the pure waves of shame and disgust pour straight into her heart and soul, Jezebel takes the final knife to her chest, as the boy refuses. Her refuses, even if you gave him a Nintendo Switch. It was the ultimate betrayal, the betrayal of the fans. Her death visions showed her how much the fans wanted her. And that should have been enough for the last fight of Jezebel, before her tragic, self-inflicted accident should have claimed her life.


Jezebel already punished herself for this.

So when the insults and rejection are poured into her, are slung at her, Jezebel actually -smiles- harder in the horrifying face of despair. She actually laughs a bit as they make fun of her name. "You are all... *sick*" She says, emphasizing, never looking away from the boy. "You are all sick and confused, and you don't understand. You need to love Lightning Spangles, and you need to love me. You don't understand, Hayley doesn't understand, and Pepper doesn't understand. But the real fans understand. You -must- love Lightning Spangles." The lecture derails, as she... she stares away at Hayley. She was just confused. She would be made to love. But Jezebel realizes the real problem.

"...And I'm the only one left who believes in her..."

Jezebel breaks away from her gaze, staggering towards... towards the interior of the canyon. She had no way home, really. What was home. But she goes deeper and deeper, even breaking into a run as the jeers leave behind her. Sweat boils over her, as she finally collapses. Tucking herself in a corner, as the sunbeams cascade down, she brings her knees to her chest, curling up. Alone. Really, finally alone. And there, she reveals what's really under the mask.

"I love me." Jezebel says softly to herself. "I love me so much. And everyone knows that. Everyone really loves me, deep down. And if they don't know that? I have to... I have to find out how to make that. Make that real. I love me. And if I love me, everyone loves me. And if everyone loves me, and doesn't show it... I need to just... just need to make them know how to show it. I deserve me." She pauses a moment, staring ahead blankly, smiling.

"Everyone deserves me."

There are no tears streaming down her face. Morrigan and Bedman solved this for her. They taught her to love herself. Showed her the damage of hurting herself, showed her the folly of her own self-loathing despair. So she wasn't going to anymore. She was never, ever going to hate herself ever again. No matter how disfigured her face was, she was always going to see her as beautiful. No matter how many people recoil at her in disgust, she never was going feel unwanted. She was going to love herself, and be a beacon of love, that would glow and radiate directly into the hearts and souls of every man, woman, and child. Everyone would love Jezebel as much as Jezebel loved herself, and loved them loving her. Jezebel deserved that.

Everyone deserved that.

COMBATSYS: Jezebel gives y'all a free turn!

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                 Jezebel          2|<<<<<<<|<<<<<<<

COMBATSYS: Jezebel has ended the fight here.

Log created on 15:39:25 05/02/2018 by Jezebel, and last modified on 17:57:48 05/04/2018.