Chasing the Dragon
A Whateley Vignete
Chasing The Dragon
by Bek D Corbin
“Oh, I do NOT BELIEVE that she DID that! Yes, folks, Olympia just totally trashed the Spindle, and Hardcase barely got out with her creamy white skin in one piece! Oh, Ito-sensei’s gonna have a hard time figuring out a winner for this one! Did Olympia default by removing the means of providing a definitive winner, or does she win through a Strategy of Denial, or is it a tie? This has got to be a first for the Combat Finals, folks!”
“I don’t know about that, Peep. Look, they’re already wheeling in a replacement spindle.”
“Shut UP, Grease-ball! It’s an insolvable problem that will be keeping the Faculty up for-”
“I just got the download, Peeper. Ito-sensei says that Olympia fails the test, and he’s giving Hardcase a C.”
“Well, that IS a shame. For those in our listening audience who just tuned in, this is WARS radio, live from the Combat Finals! You just missed a GREAT fight, with energy blasts, collapsed mockup buildings, trashed ANTs, and tons of collateral damage. AND, as an added bonus, we can definitely state that Hardcase of the Whateley Martial Arts Cheerleaders does NOT wear tighty-whities, but prefers baby blue. Oh yes, that Hardcase is definitely nice and soft in all the right places. And of course, there was Olympia, for those of you who like a little Electroshock Therapy along with your cheesecake!”
“The stagehands are doing their usual quick job of carting away the debris and setting the stage for the next fight. Yes, we’re getting the first card…”
A picture of a slender girl with medium length white hair that seemed to prefer tufts, over a long narrow angular face with a pronounced nose, but very good cheekbones and large round golden eyes appeared. She was wearing the Whateley Academy girls’ uniform, and she regarded the camera with a certain stoic annoyance. The form read:
|Techniques:||Versatile Psychokinetic Shell
Cybernetic Implants of uncertain purpose
Very Protective Father
|Weak vs.:||Proper Legal Procedure|
|Backup/ Team affiliation:||Bad Seeds
Dr. Diabolik (father)
Where she was sitting, waiting for her turn at the Finals, Jadis Diabolik was casually reading Thomas Hobbes’ ‘Leviathan’. She was at ‘And first, if it be a Law that obliges all the Subjects without exception, and it is not written, nor otherwise published in such places as they make take notice thereof, it is a Law of Nature’, when Lindsay ‘Dragonrider’ Fellows jabbed her in the ribs with an elbow. “Jadis! You’re up!”
Jadis looked up and saw her card displaying. “Oh, right! Okay, Linds, let’s go. Kate?”
Katrina ‘Nacht’ Twardovski was already warming up her laptop. “I’ll give you a buzz, the second that they show your opposition’s card. Break a leg.”
“Mine, or hers?”
“Oh, VERY nice, Jadis,” Ayla Goodkind murmured from where she was sitting with Team Kimba.
“You know her, Ayles?” Chaka asked curiously.
"Yeah. I went to Westchester Montessori - a 'New York rich kids' elementary school - with her, and her brother Mal. He was in my grade, and she was a year ahead."
“YOU? Went to school with HER?” Tennyo asked incredulously. “But it says that her father’s Dr. Diabolik, the supervillain!”
"Well, of course I didn't know that in second grade! Even my parents didn't know, and believe me, they would have raised hell if they had known their children were going to school with the kids of a known mutant supervillain. I’m not sure if SHE knew that, back then.”
“What’d she do that was so slick, Ayles?” Chaka asked. “I can’t tell shit from what she put on her MID.”
“That’s the point, Toni. Most people go overboard on their MID, trying to cover every point, so that the MCO won’t bust their chops about it.”
“Either that, or they’re bragging,” Hank drawled.
“Yeah, but check out her listings: ‘versatile PK shell’, ‘Magical Spells’- hey! I didn’t know that she could do magic!- ‘Cybernetic Implants of uncertain purpose’-”
“The ‘Very Protective Father’s the really scary one,” Chaka quipped.
“Yeah, but don’t you see? Obviously, she’s met the letter of the Law, but she hasn’t really TOLD us anything! Look at that, and try to tell me what she can do!”
Team Kimba looked around at each other. “Well… she can do magic, right?” Bunny offered.
“Nature magic? Elemental Magic? Fate Magic? Conjurations? Voodoo? At what level? No clue! But she got away with it! Anyone trying to use her MID card to try and figure out if they can get away with jumping her won’t have an idea as to what to expect! On the other hand, the MCO can’t complain that she hasn’t met the letter of the Law. At the same time, even though they can’t peg her on exactly what she does, she manages to make herself sound like someone that you don’t wanna mess with. You know that you’re facing someone with some clout. She even manages to bring in the fact that she has some pretty nasty backup- like her father- without making a threat of it. And, she lets you know that she knows her rights, and she’s not gonna let herself get bullied by some badge-waving asshole with an attitude. From what Jadis tells me, her father and the authorities have an unspoken understanding, sort of like what you hear between cops and the mobs- you don’t drag family into it.”
“So, if the MCO tried picking up Jadis to shake her down for information about her father?” Jade asked.
“Well, Dr. Diabolik’s enough of an outlaw that, yeah, I think he WOULD do something like blast an MCO regional headquarters if they started leaning on his daughter.”
“Well, Greaser, it looks like the babe-train is over. Next up is She-Beast… and WHAT a Beast! Now, don’t get me wrong, She-Beast isn’t that oogly. She’s more of a ‘Bow’.”
“ ‘Bow’, Peeper?”
“Yeah, Greasehead- Not a Bow-wow, but definitely not ‘Wow’- just… ‘Bow’.”
“Well, maybe they’ll bring in somebody like Hippolyte to fight her.”
“NOW yer talkin’ Grease-boy! Way to think POSITIVE!”
Then She-Beast’s MID display was replaced by the image of a serious looking young Asian man with a shaved head wearing a polo shirt that showed his physical condition while not flaunting it. The form read:
|Code Name:||ZHONG LAU|
Shao-Lin Dragon-style Kung Fu
‘Dragon Claw’ Attack
|Backup/ Team affiliation:||‘Dragons’ Martial Arts Club|
Nacht called She-Beast on her Bluetooth. “Jadis? They just put up the card. You’re facing Zhong Lau.”
“Y’know, the guy who practically just waltzed in and took over the Dragons last year?”
“The kid with the DRAGON? The one that Damien wanted to hijack?”
“Dragon- Spirit, but yeah, that’s him. I think that the Senseis are crocking the crash again, and they want to knock some of the starch out of you.”
Jadis grunted. “Nertz. Okay, what do we have on him?”
“Well, he’s head of the Dragon’s clique, he’s done Brick training as well as Intro to Mystic Concepts-”
“Any known Banes?”
“Well, he lists a ‘vulnerable spot’, but as far as I know, that’s strictly EUROPEAN lore, nothing about it east of the Urals.”
“What color is his hat?”
“Well, for all that the Dragons are supposed to concentrate on the ‘purity of the Art’ and all that, Z.L.’s hat is pretty dang white.”
“You already said that.”
“Kate, do you think that I can get him and his dragon into an internal conflict?”
There was a brief pause. “Sorry, Jads. Apparently, they actually like each other.”
“You keep saying that.”
“D’you think that I can get him to chase his own tail?”
“Well, unless you think that you can raise the spirit of St. George…”
“Which belt was that, again?”
“Thanks, Kate. Hopefully, I’ll still be in one piece to kibitz you through your Final.” Jadis turned to Lindsay. “Gimme Belt ‘D’!” Lindsay handed her one of the eight utility belts she was carrying. Jadis slipped the belt under her blazer. “There. Linds, I’m up against a guy called Zhong Lau. He’s an avatar with a powerful dragon spirit. You manifest dragons, do you know of any banes or weak points that I can hit?”
Lindsay shook her head. “Sorry, Jadis, but I think that we’re two different kettles of fish.”
“Nertz! Oh well, it was just a long shot. Wait a minute…” Jadis unclipped a few things from two of the unused belts. “There. Linds, be a doll, and see if you can stall Zhong Lau for a minute or two. I’m gonna need a minute alone on the floor.”
When Zhong Lau walked onto the arena, Jadis was just finishing drawing a diagram on the floor in colored chalks. Zhong Lau cautiously regarded Jadis and the diagram and took his position several yards away, with both of them an equal distance from the spindle on the mock cityscape. The overhead speaker counted down and then sounded the ‘Go’ buzz. Zhong Lau bowed to Jadis, and she returned the bow. Then Zhong Lau bunched up his fists and let out a bellowing howl as a glowing serpentine form coiled around him, supercharging his form, even as it changed his clothes from his school uniform to his fighting outfit. Jadis held up a strip of paper, and the diagram that she’d drawn on the ground glowed with magical power.
“Well, Campers, it looks like both Long Dong and She-Beast-”
“That’s Zhong Lau, Peep.”
“Who cares? Both Lizard Boy and the Telephone Pole that has periods have gone for the ‘Costume Change’ extra credit. And while she may not have much of a package, She-Beast certainly knows how to wrap it! Her combat togs are from the ‘Madam Hydra’ collection, a sleeveless blood-red body stocking with a half-mask with a built-in visor, black jackboots, with matching opera gloves, shoulder harness, hip holster and utility belt with a brass buckle in the form of what I’m guessing is her ‘She-Beast’ logo. Very nice! Pity that all it’s showing off that she ain’t got nuthin’ to show off!”
“Zhong Lau is wearing a dragon-mask with-”
“Greasy, who CARES what the guys are wearing? OH! What’s this? YES! She-Beast is paying full homage to a classic look, by adding that all-important accessory- a WHIP! Yes, She-Beast knows killer fashion when she sees it! Zhong Lau is closing- Wow! Check out the range on that whip!”
“Peeper, unless I’m mistaken, She-Beast is using an expansion-mesh energy whip that’s a very popular design in the Workshop, and-”
“Greasy, put your tech-nerd back in its cage, there’s a FIGHT going on! Zhong Lau’s managed to grab the whip. WOW! Super-charge shock from the whip, the Beast musta seen that move coming!”
Zhong Lau’s hand smarted from the shock. It didn’t really damage his hand, but even dragons don’t like getting zapped. The whip was a wonderful weapon for keeping opponents at a distance, which meant to him that she didn’t want him getting close. He’d worried about that diagram that she’d drawn on the ground, but if she was trying to wear him down from a distance, then she wasn’t worried about any ranged attacks against herself, which suggested that the diagram was some sort of protection spell, most likely a deflection effect. Still, he had a move to get around her whip. With a resounding ‘Huh-YAH!’ he shot up into the air, arced and came down almost on top of She-Beast.
She-Beast ducked out of her protective circle, and put up her ‘Beast-skin’ just in time to parry the first of Zhong Lau’s flurry of punches. Even so, Zhong Lau’s array of punches rocked the demonic appearing ‘beast’ and sent it sprawling. Jadis dropped her shell- whether it was done voluntarily or not wasn’t immediately apparent- and pulled a strip of paper from her shoulder harness. The strip flared with magical power for a second, and then Jadis sprang up and ran off in six different directions at once- literally.
“WHOA! What’s this? A classic distraction decoy maneuver from the She-Beast. Give him his due, ol’ Bruce is up to it- he’s picked his bunny, he’s on her, and… Oh! No Joy, Bruce! He picked the wrong skank. And now, he has NO IDEA as to where the wily She-Beast might be. So, let’s be vewwy, vewwy kwiet- he’s hunting wabbits!”
“Ah, Peeper… where DID She-Beast go?”
“How would _I_ know? It’s not like there’s a lot of area for her to hide in.”
“Zhong Lau’s taking to the air… and he’s spotted something… Yep, there she is, drawing something on the ground with chalk.”
“Ah, he didn’t even let her finish … how unsporting of him … YES! Booby Trap! Right now, Zhong Loser is covered from head to foot in black soot.”
“I think that the eye protection on that dragon mask have been covered in the soot- or whatever it is. It doesn’t seem to be coming off …”
“Which means that She-Beast has set him up for--- yes, here she comes at a full charge, in all her hellish glory. MAN those horns look sharp, I think she’s going for a gore! Oh-LAY!”
“But Zhong Lau manages to avoid it- NO, she hooked the metal plate covering Zhong Lau’s heart along with the cross-bands. She must figure that it’s covering that weak spot that Zhong mentioned on his MID. But she’s not having a lot of success getting it off.”
“Hey, with what she’s got up front, it’s no surprise that she doesn’t have a lot of experience getting things like that off. She should come to me, I got LOTS of experience getting things off the chest of the opposite sex!”
“Zhong Lau’s taking advantage of that, and he looks like he really rang She-Beast’s gong with that backhand punch, Peeper.”
“AND She-Beast is beating a hasty retreat on all fours.”
Zhong Lau stopped wasting valuable time trying to clear his eye shields andsimply removed his dragon-mask. He couldn’t allow the She-Beast to disappear and retake the initiative. She had controlled this fight far too much, and she clearly wasn’t going to abide by the strictures of honorable combat. He had to catch up to her and force hand-to-hand combat on her, before she could disappear and arrange for another gambit like that booby trap. He called on the dragon to give his feet speed, and the Honorable One, eager to prove itself, responded. Zhong Lau caught up with She-Beast when her footing slipped as she rounded a corner. She-Beast responded by wrapping her huge PK shell arms around him and tried to head-butt him. Zhong Lau retaliated by erupting in a full-body burst of dragonfire.
“Whoa, it looks like Fu Manchu isn’t that kind of boy! But, Ladies, don’t let Chop-Sockey boy give you the wrong idea- the Peep-man LIKES it when chicks get aggressive! She-Beast is knocked back- but what’s this? Z-Boy’s burst has weakened the building, and now She-Beast is literally bringing it down on TOP of him!”
“Peeper … that’s a mockup …”
Zhong Lau went aloft again, and tried to spot her from the air. He was beginning to think that he might have to resort to staking out the spindle, and force her come to him on his terms. But as he turned towards the spindle, a manhole cover came zipping at him at near-orbital speeds and caught him in the small of the back. So much for that idea- she’d just snipe at him until she wore him down. He charged her and managed to avoid her other projectiles. Then she was out of things to throw, and he came at her full speed. She was looking for something to hide behind … then, at the last minute, she ripped a steel mailbox from its moorings (which weren’t very secure- after all, it WAS a mockup city) and shoved it at him. His charge tore through the bottom of the box, but he found himself stuck inside the metal container. He freed himself from the box with another explosion of dragonfire.
Enraged, he looked around for She-Beast. And there she was, many yards away, just standing there, without her PK shell up-
-holding his protective chest-plate dangling arrogantly from one hand. “Hey, Ziggie! Lookin’ for THIS?” Somehow, she’d managed to slip off his chest-bands while he was extricating himself from the mailbox.
Zhong Lau cautiously approached She-Beast, warily moving through various katas and moves as he neared, his hands waving, leaving trails of energy in the air.
“My, my, MY!” Jadis jeered, “Not so tough without this plate covering your Achilles Heel, now are you? Gee, it sucks to not have a nice ranged attack, now doesn’t it?” She reached for the handgun in her holster.
“Yes,” Zhong Lau grated, “it WOULD!” He thrust both hands forward, and a ball of dragonfire erupted forth. She-Beast knocked the ball of energy down with one hand, as she drew her pistol with the other. A concentrated spray of tear-gas hit Zhong Lau right in the mouth in mid-scream as he was charging.
As he coughed and wiped the tears from his stinging eyes, Zhong Lau managed to catch sight of She-Beast as she scampered away. He noticed with some small satisfaction that she was nursing the hand that she’d parried his dragonball with.
“She’s up to something,” Beltane muttered from where she was sitting.
“Obviously she’s up to something!” Ayla said with a proprietary pride that rather surprised her. “But … exactly what do you mean?”
“Even with that PK shell of hers up, she shouldn’t have been able to parry that energy burst. She had to have been using one of those spell cards of hers. But, even so, it hurt her to do it, even through the PK shell. But she did it, so that means she meant to do it.”
“She’s not using the terrain very well,” Hank said critically. “There are dozens of better places to set up ambushes or snipe from than she’s been using.”
“True,” Belle mused. “But she’s not stumbling about, either. No, she’s going straight to very specific places. Any ideas, Ayla?”
“You’re asking me? Last year, I thought that Jadis was just a girl who had a decent appreciation of Thackeray, without all the usual Literary Chick affectations.”
“Okay, She-Beast is really working that chest-plate for all it’s worth.”
<sniff!> “Chest envy, obviously.”
“She’s goading Zhong Lau with it … Ah, but now she’s ducking into an alley and throwing the chest plate WAY down the street.”
“She must figure to force a choice on him- either go after the plate and lose track of her, or face her in cramped quarters, where she can get at his Achilles Heel.”
“Wait! He’s going right in after her!”
Zhong Lau all but filled the cramped faux alleyway with his bulk. Jadis had her Beast skin up and her claws out. *Look,* she said hesitant even through the shell, *this is just a test-it’s not worth messing each other up over. I don’t want to hurt you. I don’t know how delicate that vulnerable point on your chest IS*
Zhong Lau gave a nasty smile. “And WHO said that I have a vulnerable spot on my chest?”
*The chest plate*
*Your MID… *
“You’re not the only one who can play with the letter of the Law- after all a ‘vulnerable spot’ can mean SO MANY things, right?” Jadis backed away, and Zhong Lau surged forward-
-which tripped the wire that set off the mini-demolitions packets on either side of the alley. The blast stunned Zhong Lau, and brought the abbreviated brick walls down on top of the young marital artist, as it threw Jadis from the alleyway. As soon as she picked herself up, she dropped her beast skin and started running for all she was worth. A moment later, Zhong Lau liberated himself with another explosion of dragonfire. He gave a roar of outrage that echoed the fury of the dragon within him, and launched himself after her.
“Oh, this is just pathetic. She-Beast is reduced to just running away.”
“Yeah, Peep, but Zhong Lau looks REALLY pissed!”
“Well, at least there’ll be some decent carnage when he does catch up with her.”
“Why isn’t she doing anything?” Tennyo asked.
“What do you mean?” Ayla shot back. “She’s running away! Can you blame her?”
“Yeah, and that’s ALL she’s doing! There are a hundred ways that you can use that kind of enraged pursuit to your advantage, and she isn’t using ONE of them!”
“No…” Nikki said watching the arena closely, “she took a 110 degree turn right at that point …”
“Which was the point where she started …” Belle continued. Almost as one, the two mages sketched out something against the backdrop of the cityscape with their fingers. They appeared to come to the same conclusion.
“Oh!” Nikki said.
“So, THAT’S why she deflected that energy ball!” Belle said appreciatively.
They both leaned forward with close attention, apparently paying heed to something that eluded the others.
Jadis started out with her own feet, then put up her beast-skin and ran on all fours. But as Zhong Lau came roaring up, she shifted back to normal, manifested a pair of PK ‘skis’ under her feet, and reached back with a long PK ‘arm’, setting the hand on Zhong Lau’s face. She used his own power to propel her forward, even as she stayed out of his reach.
“Okay, I gotta admit, that’s a new wrinkle in keeping a guy at arm’s length. But even so, she’s just delaying the inevitable.”
“Wait a minute, Peeper. She’s just broken off, but Zhong Lau isn’t following her…”
“He’s just going on … and… I don’t believe this! Folks, Long Dong Zhong is just racing around the arena in a circle at top speed!”
Jadis picked herself up and dusted herself off with a sigh of satisfaction. She willfully resisted the urge to do a George Peppard ‘I love it when a plan comes together’. She tested the circuit for stability, and when she was sure, she strolled over to the spindle- careful not to stray into Zhong Lau’s path- and entered the codes for the win.
“Congratulations on your victory, She-Beast,” Ito-sensei said with calm dignity. “Still, for young Zhong Lau’s edification,” he gestured at the still-seething boy, “and your own grade, please explain how- and WHY- you achieved your victory.”
“Yes,” Miss Grimes added as she entered the office. “And while you’re at it, you might explain how you were able to achieve that remarkable effect. If it’s good, I might have you write it up as a paper for extra credit.”
“Well,” Jadis hedged, “to begin with, I did it the way that I did, because I knew that I couldn’t beat Zhong Lau in a straight up fight.”
“HAH!” Zhong Lau snapped, “So you ADMIT it!”
“Yes, I admit it! What’s to be ashamed of? Besides taking Brick classes, he controls the power of a Dragon! Okay, maybe not an ancient dragon, but it’s still a full-fledged DRAGON! There’s no way that I can beat that! It’s magic, and the rule is, Magic vs. PK, Magic wins. I knew that if I went toe-to-toe with him, his dragon would rip my PK shell to shreds. And, there’s the small matter of a minor devil that’s bound to me. If I tried to hide, he’d use his dragon to smell out my devil. And, to be honest, he’s a better fighter than I am.”
“Just because a man is bound to a dragon does not make him a superior martial artist,” Ito said with stiff dignity.
“NO,” Jadis insisted, “he’s a superior martial artist, because he takes the martial arts SERIOUSLY. He didn’t become the Master of the Dragons because of that spirit- he won his position one challenge at a time, without the use of powers. Also, I happen to know that N’Dizi, the leader of the Tigers, hates his guts. N’Dizi’s a damn good fighter, I’ve seen him at work. If he thought that he could have won a ‘No Powers’ fight with Zhong Lau, he’d have made a challenge by now. All that means, is that Zhong Lau is a very good fighter, Dragon or no Dragon.”
“How did you know how powerful Zhong Lau’s dragon was?” Miss Grimes asked. “It’s not like that’s open knowledge.”
“Well, ah, last year, when Zhong Lau came to Whateley, ah, certain parties became quite interested, and, ah, plans were concocted- strictly as intellectual exercises, you understand!- to, ah, acquire the dragon spirit for research and, ah, other possible applications…”
“Oh?” Zhong Lau’s eyes went red and glowing, “And whatever became of these… plans…?”
“Oh, Nothing!” Jadis hastily assured the dragon-spirit. “They were dogs from the get-go! No matter how we twisted it, it was too dangerous, with too many nasty consequences, there’s no way that we could contain the spirit without using School facilities, and Security would be all over the place! Besides, even with all of that, there’s no way that anyone could figure out to sever the Avatar bond.”
“Back to the issue at hand,” Ito-sensei said sternly. “You were saying that you knew that you couldn’t defeat Zhong Lau directly.”
“Right!” Jadis collected herself. “Fortunately, the real point of the exercise wasn’t to beat Zhong Lau, it was to gain control of the Spindle. All that I really needed was to keep him from preventing my accessing the spindle. I knew that my magic wasn’t powerful enough to bind the dragon or to create illusions that would deceive it for very long. As a matter of fact, the only thing that I had that was powerful enough to hold the dragon-” she looked Zhong Lau directly in the eyes, “-was the dragon itself.
“So, I created a circuit on the arena floor. I arranged it so that every time we fought, Zhong Lau expended that dragon fire energy into a spell diagram that I had prepared. I ran him around so that the path of our fight created a pentagram.” She traced out the path with her finger on the desk, forming a five-sided star. “At each point, the diagram was attuned to one of the Taoist elements, so that when I suck- er, inveigled Zhong Lau into following me,” she traced a circle around the star, so that the circle touched each of its points, “the circuit recreated the Taoist Cycle of the Elements: Air, Water, Earth, Wood, and Fire.”
“She-Beast, ‘Air’ is NOT one of the Taoist Elements, and that is NOT the proper sequence,” Ito said severely.
“Actually, Ito-sensei, while Metal IS the classic fifth element, some Asian, and even variant Chinese alchemy systems DO recognize both Air as an element, and that sequence.”
“Besides,” Grimes defended her student, “it passed the ultimate test- it worked.”
“Thank you, Ma’am.” Jadis suppressed a smirk. “Anyway, the circuit was charged with the Dragon’s own power, and the Dragon couldn’t find a break in the circuit, so it kept endlessly repeating the cycle, until I broke the ring.”
“Jadis, I’m very impressed that you improvised all of this on the fly,” Grimes congratulated her.
“Oh, I didn’t,” Jadis admitted. “I know that I can take on most of the yahoos at this school and win without finessing it, but I’m all too aware that there are people here who can tie me in knots. So, I sat down, figured who on campus I had to worry about, and hammered out some basic strategies. I had eight different basic strategies mapped out for the widest range of threats, with utility belts prepped for each of them. I had a friend call me and tell me who I was going to face, so I adjusted the ‘Tail-Chaser’ scenario for Zhong Lau.”
“Did your friend phone you while you were inside the area?” Ito asked with a dangerously neutral voice.
“Of course not. That would be cheating.” Jadis replied in an equally neutral voice.
Ito-sensei nodded. “Very well. Zhong Lau, you receive a ‘C’ for this exercise. You failed, but you failed against an opponent who was using pre-contrived strategies and pre-selected equipment that was geared specifically against you. You failed to gain control of the situation, but I could tell that you were consciously attempting to do just that. How ever, She-Beast did everything in her power to keep the initiative.”
“But she CHEATED!”
“NO, she merely used techniques and tools that you didn’t expect. We are attempting to teach you how combat is done in the real world. In the real world, the ‘bad guys’ don’t ‘play fair’.”
Ito turned his attention to Jadis. “Miss Diabolik, you receive a ‘B’ for the exercise.”
“Only a B?”
“Again, we are trying to teach you how to survive in the real world. You were supposed to only bring those things that you would normally carry. In the real world, when we face off against an unknown opponent, we rarely have the luxury of having prepared combat plans, or prior intelligence of their nature or intentions, or the ability to select just the right tools to handle them. Only in comic books do super-villains conveniently inform the heroes as to their intentions, nature, methods, strengths and so on.”
Kate and Lindsay met Jadis outside Ito’s office. “So, how did it go?”
“I got a B.”
“So, they didn’t bust you for bringing specific equipment into the arena?” Kate asked.
“That’s WHY I only got a B.”
“Wow, what a cool and utterly original word!”
Kate kept her usual frigid cool. “So, was it a set-up, like I thought?”
“Yeah, I think so- the only question is: who were they really setting up- Me? Or Zhong Lau?”