The Bell Tolls - TBT Act 3: Where Dreams Go To Die

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Description: Jezebel is almost ready. Having been purified of her sins, she now is ready to locate the children. It was her plan with her B. B. Hood, after all. To take them all to Spangles Paradise. But after a Shadaloo agent politely took Bulleta aside, the bounty hunter is hastily trying to find her exit. When Shadaloo deploys Jezebel to the rendezvous point at Boot Hill, where Bulleta waits, it quickly becomes apparent that something is wrong. Once Bulleta realizes how far gone both the plan and Jezebel has gone, she needs to dispose of the loose ends, before she can escape to safety. And Jezebel endures as the loosest end...



BULLETA leans over a bathroom sink and stares into the mirror. On the cusp of violence with nobody else to play to, she's free to let the weight of her situation show in a clenched jaw and furrowed brow. The hood of her RED CLOAK is drawn back. Underneath, a plastic, gold-painted badge is pinned to her red dress.

BULLETA (whispered)

The bathroom is small and spartan. Very occasionally, the toilet CREAKS beneath the weight of the picnic basket resting on its lid. On the other side of the door, roughly one Special Forces unit's worth of guns, ammo, and other weaponry is laid out all over a motel bed. Every bit of it has been meticulously cleaned, checked, and organized in preparation for packing.

BULLETA (whispered)
She's a liability. They won't care; /nobody/ will care.

Bulleta swallows.

BULLETA (whispered)
Dahlia's got me if they care.



On either side of their bed, ARTHUR WESSON and JOHN SMITH are in the last stages of donning their hunting gear: modern jungle camo for Arthur and something more traditional for John, complete with a tunic and a bycocket hat. Both are enormous, as are the shotgun and rifle leaning near the door.

She's a big girl, Art. So to speak, anyway. Gave her that truck driver before she went and got herself opened up by the werewolf, right? Just fine after that, wasn't she? Still the same little handful she /always/ was.

That man was a /problem/, and she knew it: switching our orders out for bootleg crap so he could flip it, pocket the difference... we made /sure/ she knew it. Made sure she knew she was doing something /necessary/, so it'd be easier on her.

Smith scoffs and looks up from lacing his boots.

'Easier on her'? Girl's been around this since grade school. You remember the tooth fairy incident, don't you?

Wesson grimaces and rubs his knee a little.

Ain't the same thing, and we both know /why/.

The two share a long look. Smith eventually shakes his head and returns to lacing.

Since /grade school/, Art. Let's be real, here: you really think she's gonna care? With that much money in play?



BULLETA (whispered)
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck. Shit. /Shit/.

Bulleta sighs loudly and drops her gaze from the mirror for a long beat. A cell phone is then fetched from somewhere on the bounty hunter's person. '<3 LIGHTNING SPANGLES <3' is visible on its screen after a little scrolling.

B.B. HOOD opens her eyes and beams as bright as the moon and stars outside. She taps her beloved heroine's name.

B.B. HOOD (giddy)
Jezebel, I just got into town! I found a place-- well, haha, I guess I shouldn't really tell you where, huh? Just to be safe! But I'm close to the rendezvous point, so when it's time to go... I'll be ready to go! Are you okay? When are you coming in? Should we... should we meet up somewhere and, I dunno... maybe explore a little? We have a few days before-- before it's time...



Dirt paths, stone mounds, and handmade markers dot the moonlit expanse where the men and women who once roamed the untamed West with nothing but their iron and their wits to guide them came for their final rest. A particularly tall tombstone dedicated to a school marm turned vigilante markswoman stands a bit separate from many of the other graves; its distinctive size and placement make it a serviceable meeting place for two actresses planning a road trip to Mexico.

B.B. HOOD (voiceover)
... I wanna spend as much of them with you as I can, while I can. We're about to change the world, and there'll have all these new people to care for... I just don't want you to forget about me, okay?

There is a low rumble as the vehicle approaches the graveyard. It's not a yellow school bus; it's an old blue one, metro bus. City transportation. The paint is peeling, it seems to keep drifting to one side. Not the finest example of a desert bus, but it works. From a distance, it's clear that it is uniformly empty, short of the driver. Swaying slightly, there is a screech as it slams on the brakes. It comes to a crashing halt, smashing through the fencing of the graveyard. It comes to a hissing stop, hanging halfway over the broken headstone, crushing the grill of the vehicle.

THe door opens with a hiss.

JEZEBEL enters from the doorway of the buss. She looks just like how she sounded like over the phone. She is dressed in a full Lightning Spangles costume. A true, full Lightning Spangles costume. Red vest and blue jeans, the gaudy outfit is loaded with lightning bolts, both metallic sheen and rhinestone studs all over. She even has the gun belt, where one thumb is hooked in. It was just like from the show.

She even remembered the pancake makeup.

She wanted to look her best for her big moment. JEZEBEL was stepping out of the old bus, clutching what looked like a heavy duty thermos, like what oil rig workers would use. She was almost shaking with joy, as she tries to run to the tall monument that they were supposed to meet. Her mechanical eye twitches, as she runs over.

"Baby! Baby Bonnie Hood! Baby Bonnie Hood!"

JEZEBEL reaches the headstone, not sure what she was going to find. But she had so much for her. So much to tell her. So much to share with her. And of course, the most important thing to share with her.



There's no echo to suggest that B.B. Hood is-- well, /anywhere/ nearby. Because she isn't.

Because it isn't supposed to be time for the cemetary just yet. An early arrival to scout the town a little and be absolutely, positively certain that neither of them was followed, then Boot Hill-- then Tijuana. Formed in a brief window between their beach meeting and, well, /now/, it was a plan of manageable size that 'Baby' Hood took pains to make /sure/ was drilled into the heroine's head.

"Are you... running, Jezebel?" she wonders of the woman on the other end of the line. Worry creeps in: "A-are-- are you okay? Is-- d-do you wanna-- should we meet somewhere /now/?"

Bulleta spends another moment or two with the frowning, nose-pinching girl in the mirror, then snatches her basket so she can step into her room and pack-- quickly. The heroine goes on speaker so she can do this one-handed while the other's busy with a message to her uncle(s):

get the van ready

"Just tell me where you are, and I'll be right over, okay? We can, um-- we can get dinner, maybe? If you're okay, of course." A pause long enough to quickly weigh a pair of uzis in her hands before one gets tossed in ensues. The clatter of metal being hastily arranged in a basket underlies her concern. "It's not a big town, but there's gotta be a diner somewhere. ... maybe even a Spangles~!" She bites her lip, squints at a mound of explosives, then begins quickly plucking from it.

"Just... just hang on, okay? I'm coming, promise."

Boothill Cemetary isn't even a mile from the bounty hunter's inn. Packing up won't take more than a couple of minutes and racing to meet Jezebel shouldn't take much more than that-- even if she /did/ elect for a scooter instead of getting Smith and Wesson to rent her a car.

Wait where was the phone.

"Baby, baby?" She says, looking around the monument. "I am at the graveyard. I need you here! Remember, the place where... where Kissing Kate is buried! That's what you said, the school marm who fought and killed all those bad people." She hugs the tombstone, her blue eye burning into it, as she leans in hard. "I know I was supposed to wait, I got the bus though! I got it all! We don't have time for dinner now! It's time! Lightning Spangles spoke to me in a dream! Everything is moving now! I have a bus! I have a bus" There is a pause, as she hits her head softly against the rock.
"I stole it, Baby."

She giggles, shaking the thermos. "I stole it right from the mechanical warehouse! It was supposed to be fixed and everything, and I took it! Had to... had to hurt someone to get it. The mechanic. Didn't... didn't kill him though. I had to save the children now. It doesn't matter, because we're doing it now, Baby. We're doing it right now! We can eat! We can eat in town! We can have a picnic! But we need to do it now Baby. We need to do it now." She giggles a bit. She is breathing hard, her chest rising and falling.

"Interpol's attacking one of the facilities now, Baby."





After 'I am at the graveyard', the rest is-- not /quite/ a blur - key phrases like 'stole it right from the mechanical warehouse' and 'spoke to me in a dream' stand out like tracers in a midnight den raid - but the rest more or less washes over her as she grits her teeth and leaves the room. Smith and Wesson get another message:

she stole a fucking bus and she's at the fucking graveyard right fucking now fuck. we have to go now.

And after a couple deep breaths, Jezebel gets a quiet, unsteadily voiced response too:

"O-okay, I--I'm on my way, but Jezebel, I-- god, Jezebel, this' so-- s-so /dangerous/, we didn't-- we didn't /plan/ for this at all, I-- I just need to pack a couple things first, okay?"

The dimunitive Huntress fetches and taps a fresh patch of cigarettes, then commences packing her blood stream with all the nicotine she can get in a vain attempt at soothing her nerves. Her phone chirps, she looks down--

i'm not fucking twelve john i don't care about the swear jar.
we would have a shelf of swear jars if i cared about the swear jar and we do not so let's fucking focus on this bitch trying to fuck us all over okay??

When the cherry's nearly to the filter, she flicks it away and scrubs her face for a couple moments. After a silently profane shout, she paints on a smile, hops astride the scooter, and offers, "Okay, I'm on my way..." while starting the engine.

"/What/ mechanical warehouse did you get the bus from, though, Jezebel?" she quietly wonders.

"From the Shadaloo one, Baby!"

Jezebel's state was clearly manic. She was tapping the thermos on the gravemarker, the tapping sound could be heard across the line. Jezebel giggles again. "See, nobody could plan this. The wine you got, it broke, because there was a problem! They were- they were asking questions, about the people, I was fixing people's brains, Baby. I was using what they used to make people love Lord Vega, but I made them love me! I made them into loving me! Like I would- I would need with Zach! They were so angry, they thought I was going to betray them, they talked about a Falke woman, and they were going to look at everything, but then Lightning Spangles came over me! And I panicked, and I lost my head, and I lost the bottle Baby, I lost the bottle!" Jezebel's voice was getting stronger.

"I broke the bottle, Baby!"

Jezebel was pacing now, circling around the meeting point, swinging her arms around, shaking the thermos as she babbles. "And I ran through the lab, there was so little time, and the mechanics, the warehouse, I had to get a car, I had a plan, Lightning Spangles told me the plan Baby! I need to get everyone in the bus, and we need to drive it! It's so dangerous, and thrilling, and we are going to do it, Baby! We are going to do it now! We are going to save all those babies, all those children, and Zach, and we are going to drive them to Sunshine City, and we are going to take a boat to Japan, we are going to the Twilight Star Circus, and everything is going to be alright! I have a plan! Lightning Spangles has a plan! Everyone is going to be saved." There is sudden, dead silence, as she stares out to the distant bus. She falls into a sit, placing her back against it.

"I got our miracle."

At first, the wind whipping past her co-conspirator is all the response Jezebel receives.

"The-- the Shadaloo one."



fuck, fuck, fuck

"It's okay. It was just a bottle. You had more important things to do. You had to make people love you."

fuck, fuck, /fuck/

"Everything's going to be okay if Lightning Spangles says it will be. I understand. We have to take a big chance if we want to do a big thing."


"I should go, so I don't crash or anything, okay? I'll see you soon, Jezebel," B.B. Hood distantly intones. A deep breath is drawn through her nostrils; the corners of her mouth are drawn up as she pushes it out.

"I love you so, so much. You're so /brave/. I can't /wait/ to see you."

She hangs up and the phone returns to its hiding place.


The scooter jerks a few times as Bulleta smacks a handlebar. Thanks to the enormous load strapped to the back, this leads to fishtailing, which leads to gritted teeth and white-knuckle grips.

"Thanks for making it EASY, you stupid bitch," is murmured beneath the engine and the wind.

Just a couple short minutes later, B.B. Hood's wandering through the cemetary with her head aswivel and a fearful expression, scanning until-- ah.

/There/ she is.

"Jezebel, oh my god!"

Little red combat boots trample over dirt and rocks until the bounty hunter can catch her mark in a tight hug. A nicotine aroma that the road couldn't quite banish kisses the air. "Did anyone SEE you? Did you do something about the transponder? Oh my god, I'm so happy to see you, I-- I can't BELIEVE you stole a BUS, Jezebel! That's so... it's incredible!"

Drawing back, she tries to capture one of the actress' hand between both of hers and squeeze tightly.

"It's /insane/," she tacks on, adoring as she meets the woman's eye. "You shouldn't 've-- you really, /really/ probably shouldn't 've, but-- well, Lightning Spangles SAID to, so what else could you DO?"

It was like forever for her.

Jezebel stops talking to Bulleta, her baby bonnie hood, and she shuddering. She picks at the stones, she couldn't stop moving. She had to keep moving. By the time the scooter comes up, Jezebel is already trying to call Bulleta again as she arrives. Bulleta could see her bring the finger... to... her... eye. The mechanical one. As she sees her, it stops ringing. Jezebel's face was... joy. The purest joy imaginable. embraces her. She holds her hand, and she's trembling, she can't speak. She sobs and sobs, and wraps her arms around Bulleta. "I... it is insane, Baby. It's so insane. It doesn't even make perfect sense to me. It changed... everything. But it's okay. It's so okay." And she pulls back, looking at her with her one good eye, her pancake makeup running, showing the fissures the scars in alabaster glory.

"It's okay though, Lightning Spangles explained everything."

Jezebel points to the distance, hanging the thermos over Bulleta's shoulder. "See, we save the children, right? And we load them in a truck. And we drive to the border, but Shadaloo controls the border. Or Interpol does. And we are driving, and driving, in a truck, they are going to see us. They are going to know it is us. And they are going to stop us. Either by barriers, or by shooting us! And then we would... we would all die." Jezebel shivers, a throatless giggle rattling in her chest. She couldn't pick up the scent, it was all a wash. "Well, not all of us. Just me, and you, probably. They would kill me because I did it, and because I would be driving. See, I thought about driving really, really fast, but even then... we couldn't break through a barrier. We couldn't make it, we couldn't... we couldn't bring everyone to the Spangles paradise." And Jezebel jostles Bulleta, turning her around, holding up the thermos, shaking it hard so Bulleta can see. "That's why I got this." Jezebel says, holding the thermos up, finally holding it still.

"You know what this is, Baby?

It was clear by the labels, in some regard. (RS)-Propan-2-yl methylphosphonofluoridate. A 4/1/1. Skull and crossbones. A bunch of letters, words, and symbols that would that would give seasoned folks a skin crawl. But Bulleta might recognize the more common UN designation, seared on the side in golden letters.


Bulleta knows the symbols by heart. Jezebel's narration was taken about as well as a person could, with bemused, wide-eyed terror and determination clashing across the girl's face, until the thermos rose.

Bulleta knows the symbols by heart and her face falls /instantly/ when she sees them.

"Are you out of your goddamned MIND?!" she blurts after jerking her gaze from it to what she can see of the starlet. After elbowing her way out of Jezebel's grip, she whips around to face the woman, still wide-eyed even if she can't be bothered with terror anymore. "Jesus, Jezebel! Jesus fucking /CHRIST/, that's SARIN! FUCKING! GAS!"

Stepping in, she starts to reach-- then flicks her eyes to the thermos again, igniting her gaze and bringing her hands to her sides in tightly balled fists. "I gave you all the love, all the appreciation, the worship you could ask for-- I let you KISS me, Jezebel. I ENCOURAGED your dreams, your wild visions-- rrgh! You wanted-- /NEEDED/ someone to live for, and I GAVE her to you on a silver," Her index finger jabs towards the starlet's gut, "fucking," jab, "PLATTER," jab, "and this... THIS," another jab, then a sharp point towards the thermos, "is what you wanna DO with it? With ME?"

After twitching away from Jezebel, she wraps her arms tightly around her own belly and paces away, panting and shuddering. "I give you a reason to live, and still - /STILL/ - all you want to do is die-- die and take ME /WITH/ you! How COULD you? How could you DO this to me?" She forces herself to take one big, steadying breath before glancing over a shoulder.

"How could you do this to US?"

One last jab as she buries her face in her hands and rubs fiercely.

She explodes.

Baby Bonnie Hood blows up in front of Jezebel, and the woman is stunned. Dazed. Absolutely confused. She can't even recognize the little teenage girl who was having family issues and needed a big strong mommy Spangles to take care of her and love her. She was trembling, the smile fading, as Bulleta... pours it all out into her. She could almost smell the cigarettes now, the illusion was breaking. And yet, when she demands how Jezebel could do this to us.... Jezebel tightens a fist, and shudders as she squints her eyes shut. And she raises her voice.

"This isn't about you!"

She relaxes a hint, shaking her head. "If it was just... just... about killing me, I would do it. I've done it before. That's why the plan works so well, if- If I am going down the highway, with a canister of sarin gas, then people have to decide if I am serious. And they will! They know I would. And I have to do this anyways, Baby." She fully relaxes now, turning back to the stone pillar.

"I deserve this."

"That's what Lightning Spangles told me, in the dream! That's what she showed me. I've done so many awful things, Baby. I've done so many awful, shameful things. I shouldn't be like this. I shouldn't be..." Jezebel halts, staring at the thermos. Her body was tense. Was she about to attack.

"I... I shouldn't be... treating you... like I should have..." The words are wrenched from Jezebel's throat. "I... I have been... I've been mol... I've been... taking advantage of you, Baby Bonnie Hood." She grinds the canister against the tombstone. "I shouldn't have been. I should have been putting you on the path. I shouldn't have kissed you, it's wrong. I've been a bad, bad woman, Baby. I've been a bad woman who has been hurting and preying and children and you and- I need it to stop. I need to get justice. I need to be punished."

"But I love me, Baby."

"I respect me."

"And I would never hurt me."

Jezebel smiles, bringing the canister to her heart as she turns back to Bulleta. "But I have to redeem myself. I have to bring justice to myself, I have to do it for Lightning SPangles. I have to have it both ways, Baby. And this is my path to saving myself. I need to punish myself. I need to do it, and I need to save all those children. And... I won't let them be taken away into the horrible, horrible hell I put them in, out of my selfish cowardice. I need to save them. And this... if I can't save them in this world." She shakes the canister at Bulleta's direction.

"I a can make sure they will join me in my redemption, in Spangles Paradise. That's why I took this from the lab, why I had to make the technician get it. And that's why I need you, Baby."

"I Need your help on this, Baby."

Jezebel approaches, trying to softly get a hold on Bulleta again. "If... they shoot me, I need someone to take the wheel. And I trust you. Shadaloo... Shadaloo took away those people. But you are't Shadaloo. You are a good person, Baby. You are a good, true person. I know this is scary, this is all very scary. But if we do it right, nobody will have to get hurt. And... and if you don't want to... that's why I needed you here so soon. Because if you don't want to do this? You can... you can go. You can leave. I don't want to force you into this. I don't want this. This is my burden, it's my duty to save all those children, and force myself through this trial. That's why I needed you so soon." Tears go down her one good eye.

"Just in case we needed our goodbyes."

The soft touch to her shoulder brings the expected reaction: melting tension, a long sigh, and inching backwards to lean back and let Jezebel support her. Blue eyes close as she works to swallow the actress' apologies, her excuses. She lays a hand over the one resting on her shoulder while Jezebel gives her the way out she's clearly in desperate need of and works to steady her breathing throughout.

"You met a girl," she softly says, voice fully fallen from its fangirl register, "a young, impressionable girl whose world revolved around you. A girl who'd do anything - even let herself get beaten up in a fight she didn't deserve to be in - just for a chance to meet you... and that's all it took for you to give me everything. All your trust," her hand glides upwards a short ways before eventually reaching to caress over pancake make-up and scars, "your devotion. Your love." A beat as she turns her head to meet Jezebel's eye.

"Your lust," Bulleta whispers. The basket *thnk*s the ground and kicks up a small dust cloud, then she turns to cup Jezebel's face in both hands. The 'gold' sheriff's star on her chest twinkles in the moonlight. "And I'm not the /first/, am I? Maybe the first you tried to /kill/, but not the first one you wanted to kiss. To touch. To use... to lose yourself in so the pain'd go away." Fingertips hook to secure scars on either side. The Huntress goes up on her toes while tugging, seeking to draw the broken starlet down until inches separate them.

This close, she smells like tobacco cut with gun oil--

"You aren't a victim at /all/. You look like one, you carry yourself like one... if all someone knew about your story was the stuff /everyone/ knows, they'd sure /think/ you were one. But you drove drunk and killed a child. You /kept/ drinking 'til you didn't /care/ what anyone did to you, just as long as you'd be /seen/ doing it. You let your only friend shoot dope 'til she /died/. You hooked up with terrorists because they made you feel /good/ about yourself... Jezebel. /Jezebel/. You can't invite /hell/ into your life over and over then wonder why it's so /hot/," she whispers. "You can't be the victim /and/ the torturer, sweetie. You can't ruin other people with /your/ misery and beg for sympathy."

-- and mercifully, it only lasts long enough to let her tell Jezebel who she is before she lets the woman go and takes a few steps back, retrieving her basket along the way.

"Everyone on that bus is going to die if you do this, Jezebel. You think they'll just shoot you and wave me through, if I take the wheel? You think they'll see the woman who screwed up every piece of their operation she touched in her stolen bus, with her stolen sarin, and they'll just wave /you/ through? They will /kill you/, and whatever kids don't get hit by strays, they will take. Or they'll make you call your bluff and /you'll/ kill everyone."

One of her hands disappears behind her The cloak subtly rustles.

"Lucky for you, your darling Baby Hood knows /exactly/ how to fix this~"

The cloak rustles again. She chucks a phone to the ground between them.

"Call the NOL," she suggests from behind her .45. "Tell them about the kids, the fighters. Tell them about the brainwashing... tell them /everything/. Tell them what Shadaloo wanted with them, so they know how important it is that they act. If Interpol's already incoming, a NOL raid would probably break their back; they'll find homes for the kids. And then, when you do all that - atoned for your sins instead of just smearing them around - this can finally /end/. They can find you, and-- well. Nobody'll be all that /surprised/ to find brain and bone everywhere, will they? You did the only thing you /could/-- the only /right/ thing. The /moral/ thing... you could be Lightning Spangles again, if only for a moment; you /could/. Because after all this - after /everything/ - what could possibly be more heroic than saving the world from Jezebel Faiblesse?"

A big, warm smile stretches across Bulleta's features. She takes a step closer.

"Your Baby still wants you to be a hero... won't you let her help you?"

Jezebel's face tingled.

It was like everything she vomited up was being shoved in her face. No, her face rubbed in it. Bad girl, bad girl. As her Baby Bonnie Hood sees her for what she is. She felt sick. She knew this was going to happen. Everyone abandoned her. Everyone she loved was going to abandon her. And Jezebel felt like she deserved it. The whole theater plays out, even as Bulleta grabs her face, as the basket comes down. Jezebel was grinning, but the stifling sobs come. She wasn't the first. Naerose was still hot in her mind as her fishy friend. She wanted anybody. It was the whole theater of her miserable life coming on stage one again.

And then the gun comes out.

And Jezebel freezes

Everything locks in place. This was off-script. Jezebel was clearly processing what was happening. She was locked up. The smile was fixed on her face, a mask. It was clear now. Mortal terror. Jezebel... Jezebel had many fantasies up to this point. Many fears. But when her Baby Bonnie Hood pulls the gun on her, it's clear that she can't even process it immediately. Her knees knock. ANd she cocks her head, smiling still. ANd slowly, it dawns on her. It dawns on her what's happening. That everything in her head was now outside it. Lightning Spangles, and Hoedown DIllo, and everything outside the cloister of her mind and fantasies.

And it was holding a gun at her.

"What's happening Baby." Jezebel says, a smile frozen on her lips. "What's... what's happening. You should put that gun away Baby. You're just confused. You've been smoking, right? Smoking can- smoking can cause tooth decay, cancer- smoking can make your anxious. Put the gun away baby. Just put the gun away." Jezebel doesn't come "You're not Lightning Spangles. This isn't what's supposed to happen. Put the gun away. This is- this isn't my story." JEzebel blinks rapidly. She... she couldn't move. She was paralyzed. Fear? Acceptance? "No- you don't want to do this. This isn't right. This isn't how you fix this. You're just confused. You're just confused. Put the- put the gun down. Please." Her voice drops, as her good eye waters. Her voice comes down to a whisper, as she drops the thermos. She brings her hands up, palms up, in an act of submission. "Please don't."

"I love you Baby."


It's a short drive from the Sagebrush Inn to Boothill; this makes spending most of it in tense silence easier to tolerate. Eventually, though, amidst a rattling engine:

"Okay. Well," Wesson murmurs. "Maybe you've got a point, because she can be a little bit of an asshole, sometimes."

"Hnh," Smith snorts. "Gets it from her uncle, I reckon."

"Yeah," Wesson replies, turning a pointed look towards the driver's side. "I guess she does, huh?"

The hunters briefly lock eyes then separate with barking laughter. Silence falls across the van again afterwards, but it's momentary.

"I just... I keep wondering, did we make the right call, here?" Wesson's hand covers Smith's on the stick. "This actress... you saw what she /did/ to Bonnie. You know the stories and the rumors... agh. Just-- we should've kept her on /monsters/, John--"

"Our little asshole's a big girl," Smith deadpans. "Only so many monsters to go around, even after Metro and Mt. Fuji. We /all/ moonlight where we can, so why shouldn't she?"

"I /know/, but she's only--"

"She only grew up gettin' schooled by the nastiest, cleverest bitch I ever had the honor'a working with... then /us/."

"That was my /mother/, John."

"Yeah? So I'm /wrong/?"

After a conspicuously silent beat, Wesson murmurs, "I just don't want that awful woman to /hurt/ her, alright?"

"Yeah," Smith lowly replies. "Makes two of us, love."


The sheriff's star glitters fiercely.

There were moments on the beach where the sheer, crushing sadness of Jezebel's existence nearly outweighed the mission-- moments when a little borrowed warmth in a cold world was worth millions. Spangles Paradise and the promise it contained - of children trapped in service to a madwoman's endless need for love - brought Bulleta's priorities back into focus then, and the death in Jezebel's hand-- no--

-- /tumbling to the ground/--

-- just underscores how important the mission is /now/. More than just the avatar of a child star's broken life, the Huntress sees a woman unable to avoid poisoning whoever's unlucky enough to cross her path-- or worse, earn her /affection/. She's tense and wide-eyed until the thermos hits dirt without cracking or hissing, then she drops her basket and jogs closer, looking to scoop the thermos up for safe keeping. The gun's lowered by that point, but it won't be going away.

"If you love me, you'll /listen/ to me," she softly says after her teeth graze over her bottom lip. "This /isn't/ your story. You and a bus full of kids getting shot up and brainwashed, or headlines about the sad, sad actress who murdered a bunch of children because she kidnapped them and her back was against the wall... /that's/ your story right now. Pick up the phone, Jezebel. Call the NOL. Save the children from Shadaloo-- save them from /you/. Help me help you give your story a happy ending."

The barrel closes in, seeking to gently press over the older actress' heart. Bulleta closes in too, seeking to share a whisper:

"You told a seventeen year old girl to bring /wine/ so you could get /drunk/ with her during your secluded beach rendezvous, Jezebel. Is that the story you wanna keep living?"

A dark van with darker windows pulls up a few yards from the bus and idles.

"You haven't done anything - anything /else/ - that you can't take back, yet. There's still time to save them all, and when you're done... oh, god, Jezebel, I'll make /sure/ everyone knows how /brave/ you were, at the end. How /selfless/. How the woman who spent her life pretending to be a hero finally figured out how to be one after all; it'll be /beautiful/. They'll remember you and everything you sacrificed for /decades/."

Jezebel doesn't interfere, or stop Bulleta.

She just stands there, dumbstruck. Betrayal. This was... betrayal? It was like a bad dream. No, she has had nightmares before. This was nothing like them. They had theatre, they had life and flash and substance and... not like this. This was cold. Too cold. This was painfully cold. Bulleta just takes the canister, and Jezebel doesn't even feel. The tingling numbness spreads, as everything becomes so focused. The van pulls up on a bus that... she wasn't going to take. The canister... the entire plan was now in the barrel of that gun. ".. But I love... me... But.... ... I just want to be free, Baby...." She babbles as the gun thrusts into her chest. "I just want to be loved... I just... I just...." ANd she lets out a heavy sigh.

"I don't want to be a monster anymore, you know?"

She leans back against the stone monument. "That's what I am, you know? I keep- I love me, I love me so much. But what I've become is disgusting, awful. I'm a disgusting woman." She doesn't keep her hand off the gun. Not a firm grasp, but a guiding one. "I don't know what can stop me though, you know? I've survived hanging myself, I've tried cutting my wrists, I've- I've taken so much poison. You know sometimes, I wish I died in the car crash? I wish I died in Hong Kong, that it was me instead of her? That I wish I would just die doing something that people would worth remembering forever and ever like a hero. But I never become a hero. I never do. I just bleed out a little more, and take more and more with me." She doesn't move, just hangs her head.

"I could have just called the police, couldn't I?"

"I... could have turned myself in, I could have... could have.... I don't even know... I don't even know who I would call. I don't know. I just... I just. I don't want to end my life in jail. Interpol and the NOL, they would never... never let me go. THey would have to make me arrested. I... I don't...." The face is frozen. Everything frozen, and stiff. "I don't know anymore. I don't know who to call anymore. But..." She finally gives a slow swallow, her gaze getting further and further away.

"I'm going to die here, aren't I, Baby."

"Most monsters don't, sweetie."

Bulleta injects sadness into that gentle murmur, just to enough to let the fallen star know how much it /hurts/ her (former? last?) biggest fan. She lets the gun barrel be guided, some... but at some point in Jezebel's recounting of near-deaths, it simply finds a place on her midsection to dig against. Regret's written all over her features even if it doesn't find its way to her fierce grip around the handle-- even if her arm's as still and straight as the bricks and boards Jezebel once used to wow crowds with her Taekwando prowess. Slowly, she nods as the woman recognizes and admits how far astray she went from doing the right thing. She nudges the phone nearer with her foot--

-- and Jezebel. Keeps. /Talking/.

"... what?" she exhales as jail is mentioned. "Wh--" A moment of genuine shock comes over the Huntress, pulling her eyes open wide and yanking an incredulous breath from her lungs. "Y-- you don't," she whispers as Jezebel. keeps. talking. "You don't-- want to--" A shudder wracks slumping shoulders--

-- then laughter shakes them further as it bubbles up from within. Her blonde bob gently flutters until her disbelief hits a head-tossing crescendo and sends it flying. From grabby, delusional mark to pitiful, tragic monster to-- /this/. Tears start to stream down the Huntress' cheeks as months of frustration and nerves and anticipation find the best outlet short of a slug.

It lasts for a good thirty seconds - if not a bit more - before she finally tips her chin down enough to meet Jezebel's eye and offer a wan smile.

"You wanna be loved, and the /best/ way you can think of to get it is finding a bunch of kids to brainwash? Your biggest fan doesn't let you kiss her in the middle of a fight, and the only way you can deal with it is /kicking her through a roof/, then telling anyone who'll listen that it just means you /care/ about her. You wanna redeem yourself, as long as you don't have to give anything up to do it...? Come /on/, Jezebel."

Shaking her head, Bulleta lets out a heavy sigh and another soft chuckle.

"Yeah. You pretty much /have/ to die here; lucky for you, I'm much better at killing monsters than /you/ are."


Just silence, as Bulleta rips apart the last vestiges of her defense. First Morrigan. Then Lilith. And now, the mercenary little red riding hood was destroying the last pieces of this fantasy. Of the true demon, of the truly selfish self-loathing self-absorbed creature. She was trembling as the smile endures. She doesn't look at the phone. "Ha ha ha. You... you aren't really... what you said... said.. said..." She suddenly stiffens. AN attack?

"Did I ever tell you what happened when I tried to die last time?"

Was this a confession? Was this a distraction? What was this. "I saw... how many people I would hurt if I die. How many. Honoka? She would have to take phony song lessons from talentless hacks, and end up... end up like me. Hayley? She would be drinking, and failing to fight, and... and end up like me. I even imagined the president dying of a heart attack, Baby. I imagined so many people dying and hurting because of me. The president of the fan club, somebody. Because I took my life, and everybody knew it. ANd I keep doing so many things, and I wonder, because I love me, and I deserve justice that somebody would just..."

"Would just make up a story, about how I died."

Jezebel was smiling now, as hope comes over her. She draws the gun up slowly, towards her face. "How did it go baby? It starts when we break out, right? You go to the children at the warehouse on 7th and 9th street, and you find them, all tied up and scared in cages. Even the babies. And we come out, and we save them all and load them in the bus. And Honoka is there, and Hayley, and my Fishy Friend Nae Nae. And my Baby Bonnie Hood. We never have to die. WE can never die. We can... "

ANd there is a heaving sob, as the facade shatters.

"It's better than being shot in the face because I couldn't stop myself anymore, and I finally get put down like the stupid bitch I am."

There is sudden movement. Jezebel is lunging, charging with something. A kick, an ambush? Something. Absolutely something. It was a blur to her, a blur to everything. IT's a like a switch.

Jezebel goes for the gun-

"I was exactly what you needed me to be," Bulleta coldly whispers through the sob.

Jezebel's story didn't move her - or the gun - an inch. All traces of her mirthless laughter shriveled throughout it until there were only calculating eyes and tightly pressed lips to receive the cowgirl's sadness-- her last, flailing attempts at bonding over a shared fantasy for one.

"I was what you /made/ me be. I didn't watch all those movies and footage-- write that letter-- because I /wanted/ to kiss and cuddle with a delusional hack, Jez. But you needed love. /Any/ love--"

Suddenly, her lips part around a silent gasp. Her eyes widen and the corners begin to glisten.

"-- e-even if it came from a sweet," B.B. Hood whimpers, "naive, innocent girl who wouldn't know enough to say /no/ if her heroine... i-if she--"

Her performance is cut violently short before she can finish twisting the sugar-spun knife. Jezebel goes for the gun and-- Bulleta's strong, and she's fast... but Jezebel's held her belt for nearly two years. Jezebel has had even longer to hone her craft into a weapon every bit as dangerous as the rest of her.

Jezebel is desperate and spinning out. There's nothing the Huntress can do at first except play tug-of-war with a madwoman. After the barrel is driven up along the woman's torso then shoved away, pointed at headstone... she has little choice but to grunt and grimace and /strain/ against terrible, frenzied strength in the hopes of getting a bead on something vital. On /something/, period. For months, she's lived with the understanding that any meeting with Jezebel could go abruptly, fatally wrong, should the woman's delusions run the right(wrong) way, and now expectation lingers on the cusp of reality. The only difference is that she has Smith and Wesson, this time... but so what?

She can't spend the bounty she worked so, so hard for if she ends up needing avenging.

"Bitch--!" she agrees through clenched teeth. The thermos hits the ground as softly as a girl who's fighting for her life can manage and rolls away, freeing her to raise her hand--

-- to her mouth--

-- spit--

-- and /slash/ with the help of her oldest, dearest, most razor-edged friend.

Princess Gemstar ALWAYS has her back. And hopefully for Bulleta, she also has Jezebel's throat.

It's enough to stop her dead.

Jezebel lets out a shriek, the only thing telling Bulleta that the cut didn't quite find it's mark. It was close enough though, as Jezebel clutches her bleeding throat. Even when her life is on the line, she couldn't do anything subtle. Jezebel staggers back away, eyes bulging as she screams. "Help! Help!" It comes out, as if those black van people are friends. It's not going to be easy. It would never be easy. Jezebel doesn't keep to far away, her body trembling with adrenaline, fear. Fight or flight. The real Lightning Spangles being a terrified, unpredictable coward of a woman who would do anything to live. She was a world class fighter. But this wasn't for a stage show, for a demonstration. This was life and death.

She wasn't good at life and death.

She collapses to the ground. Confusion was her enemy as much as Bulleta. No plans, just wild instincts. She needed to kick Bulleta. Kick her until she stopped moving. But her head was trying to escape. SHe wanted to escape this terror. She wanted to escape. She wanted to live. Blood pours down her rhinestone studded vest, as she is on all fours. Every split second was closer to the execution. There was no reason for Bulleta to stop now. No more time for playing. Jezebel looks around, jaw slack, a fish out of water, choking on her own dry throat. But the screams become laughter, nervous, terrified laughter. She wasn't looking at her Baby now.

And her eyes are on the thermos.

I can live, she thinks to herself. I can live. I lived every other time. I can't die. This is how she wanted it, right? I can live. I can live. I have lived everything else. What's one more? The hopeful words from Jezebel's lips spill out as she throws herself at the thremos.

"I can live!"

Moonlight dances through the air and flings blood to the ground when Bulleta flicks the razor from one set of fingers to the next. "Heeeeelp!" she mocks with Baby's voice while stalking after the staggering, collapsing woman. "Saaaaave me! My special fwiend isn't gonna let me kiiiiiiill heeeeer!"

For Bulleta, the whole world's a stage; once she learned that important truth, it was always just a matter of finding the right role for the right moment. A bubbling fangirl; a subservient captive; an unlucky mercenary with a dead dog and a burned apartment; a tough, but fair life coach.

A predator.

A cruel hunter.

There's always a stage. There's always a show-- whether the players recognize the roles they're playing or not. Jezebel isn't the /first/ human to play out a scene with the Predator, but she's the only quarry - man, woman, or otherwise - besides the Black Dragon to inspire Bulleta to bring /rage/ to the part. Whatever monsters she's bagged tended not to endanger her unless they were acting on bestial instinct or already threatened, but Jezebel?

All it took for Jezebel to try and kill her was a little too much love and trust. Artificial love and tactically deployed trust, sure... but /Jezebel/ didn't know that.


Jezebel lunges.

"Shit--!" Bulleta hisses. "Fuck--"


There isn't much time to line up a shot, so Bulleta does what she can to draw a bead on the woman's spine before squeezing off three; quantity over quality, sometimes.

"Bitch-- I felt SORRY for you! You made me PITY you!"


She is almost on it, as she crawls.

The bullets stop her. Rolling instinctively on impact, she only just minimizes the impact. But that's all. As she lays there, with three new holes in her, it's clear that Jezebel's legs stop working. Looks like Bulleta's precision was easier now that a crazed middle aged woman wasn't going berserk. A wounded animal, writhing on the ground, just short of the thermos. Jezebel lets out a moan of pain, writhing on the ground. At least she was proving it was hard to kill her. As some of her critics would say, she really was a cockroach of pop culture, always living, never dying. She murmurs, as she squirms on the ground. "I'm... I'm sorry..." She mindlessly responds.

And her finger tips claw towards the thremos.

"I'll... I'm going to live... I'm going to live..." She babbles. "My Fishy Friend Nae Nae is going to show up soon, right out of the van. And Honoka, and Zach, the two lovebirds, they love each other so much. And Hayley, and her father, my new husband, we got married in the lab, it was beautiful. Pepper will come too, she's like a daughter, the littlest Lightning Spangles. SHe's the sheriff now, she should be. And Baby Bonnie Hood, the real one, is going to come out. We're going to all go in the bus, and we're going to save all the children. We're all going to go to Spangles Paradise, where the rivers flow with sarsaparilla, and everybody knows your name. No more violence, no more death, no more pain, no more... bad thoughts. JUst peace, and love, and respect, and tolerance..." Her finger tips touch on the thermos.

Accidentally pushing it away just a bit more.

She lays on the ground, the thermos now well out of reach. She tries to move, tries to squirm. "I don't... I don't think I want to be a sheriff anymore though." She continues, her blood pooling in the dust. "I don't deserve it, after this. I should be... a school marm, baby. Just like Kissing Kate, right? That's why you wanted me to come here, because you wanted me to be a teacher, not a sheriff. I'm... I'm much better at teaching people lessons, aren't I. How to behave. How not to behave, right?" She gives a choking sob, her moods flashing back and forth as she moves slower and slower, weaker and weaker. "I should have been a school marm, I always should have been a school marm. I'm sorry Lightning Spangles. I'm sorry I couldn't ever be good enough for you. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry."

Her fingers dig into the dirt, as she suddenly relaxes.

"You taught me-- all about what happens when you treat yourself like dirt," Bulleta lowly allows through panting.

Her pace slows as Jezebel's does until she's just strolling up to her-- past her, smoke still curling from the barrel.

"When you forgot you're worth something and have to wait for other people to tell you."

After pausing long enough to slip Princess Gemstar back into her home between cheek and gums, she hefts the basket. The gun is slipped inside.

"You taught me not to feel sorry for monsters."


"But you'll be a /much/ better cautionary tale than you ever were a teacher, Jezebel. It's better for /everyone/ this way."

Slowly, she sets herself astride the woman's back so she can drop to a crouch and pin her already wounded body down.

"You told me your story, and I thought: 'Maybe it doesn't have to /be/ this way. She so sad. She's so /broken/. She's not perfect... but maybe she should get a chance. We can pop the eye out, stage some pictures... Pepper'd never even know the difference.'

Taking the basket in both hands, she raises it high above her head--

"Pepper doesn't even care about you... did you know that? She thinks you ruined her life, and she didn't even care enough to wanna /see/ you pay. That's /verbatim/. 'I don't care. She's got to be definitely dead, and you'll probably want proof you did it...'"


-- and SLAMS it towards the side of her skull with the good eye.

"I thought about throwing my REPUTATION away-- for YOU!"


"You made me think I could FIX you,


"and then what'd you do...? What'd you DO, you selfish BITCH?!"


"You told me all about your SECRET PLAN to KIDNAP


"the CHILDREN you helped STEAL in the first place,


"so you could /MAKE THEM LOVE YOU/! Do you have any IDEA how STUPID I felt?!"


"I'm BETTER at this than YOU are and you made me DOUBT myself! It didn't have to be like THIS-- it could've been EASY, but you MADE me--"




"Worthless-- fucking--!"


"Selfish-- ignorant-- BITCH!"

The basket finally comes to rest against Jezebel and the dirt, giving Bulleta something steady to hold herself up with when she slumps forward. The girl's face is as red as her cloak and as shiny as the gold paint enrobing her Showup Hoedown Deputy badge-- more than enough to streak the wicker. Her whole body shudders with each deep, needy gasp she sucks in-- each howling sob wrenched from months of churning frustration.

It may be a while before she does much else.


Smith looks up from his phone, where Bulleta's hunched over the broken star at max zoom in life-like 1080p. He peers across the cab for a long moment before slowly dragging his eyes back to the screen.

"Bloody hell," he murmurs. "Jesus /Christ/."

Jezebel has no more resistance to give.

"I'm sorry... I'm sorry..." She babbles, as she takes in the detail. Pepper... was this... "This was... this was about the money?" It wasn't anymore. That much is clear as Bulleta straddles Jezebel, and begins to release the anger of the entire world upon her head. Jezebel screams the first few times, babbling words to stop, to stop, with sorry. Eventually, she stops even making words, only leaving whimpering. Eventually, there isn't even whimpering, just moaning chokes. Eventually, there isn't even choking.

Eventually, there isn't even a sound from her at all.

It's not clear if Jezebel's alive or dead from first glance. At the faintest, she has a pulse. But her face, her head was... the worst it has ever been, to describe generously. It's wet. She isn't moving. Soon, she's barely even bleeding. She's not dead, in the most academic sense. And her heartbeat is weaker, and weaker, and weaker. Eventually, Bulleta would need to take care of the final act of business.

Disposing of the corpse.

"T-turn it off, John-- Jesus. Jesus, just-- just turn it off--"


There's still a pulse.

It takes minutes before Bulleta can do more than shudder and sob-- before the tears run out and there's nothing left to keep her from what needs to be done.

And there's still. A pulse.

The Huntress climbs to her feet, wedges one of them against Jezebel's side, and uses the other to push the basket away so she can grunt through rolling the woman to her back. A knife appears from somewhere on her person as she retakes her seat. Proof-- she needs proof. She can't get paid without proof-- this was for /nothing/ without it. Gently, she cups what was once a chin, steadying shattered remnants while she delicately wiggles the knife in at the corner of Jezebel's eye. Her-- well.

It wasn't her good eye /before/, but things change.
%With the precision of a surgeon or taxidermist, she works the tip of the knife around the socket to sever any connections she can find. Once she's satisfied, the tip gets wedged in at the corner again, she bites her lip a little, and--


-- she lets Jezebel's... face... go and snatches her trophy from the air.

"Good/bye/, Jezebel," she whispers while slipping it into her cloak for safe-keeping. Clutching the knife in both hands, she shimmies a little lower so she can plunge it into the woman's chest and cut her heart out. Precision is much less important than getting the job done, now; nobody's going to want /this/ trophy. Still, when she's done, she pops the basket open and grabs a coolpack-lined container to put it in. The body's bound for the desert, but this? This, she will keep.

Grandma told her enough stories that she knows better than to bury it with the body.

Once she's packed up and retrieved her things, the last order of business is ripping that lightning-studded vest from Jezebel and the badge from her own dress. Both are tossed to the ground, leaving them to be coated in blood as Bulleta takes the woman's ankles in hand and drags. The thermos stays right where it was. /Someone/ will be coming for that bus, eventually, and they'll most definitely want it back. Whatever happens to it after that isn't her problem.

"I'll dig," she eventually intones when passing the passenger side window on her way to tossing dead weight in alongside shovels and blue barrels. Instead of circling back around afterwards, she just climbs inside, raps the divider between cargo and cab, then shuts herself in with her handiwork. Nestled between the doors and Jezebel, she draws her knees up so there's a place for her head to rest when she goes slack.

"Should-- should we tell her t--"

"Drive, John. Just-- just /drive/. Let's get this /over/ with."

Log created on 13:39:58 10/15/2018 by Bulleta, and last modified on 14:49:29 10/17/2018.