Blood-curdling screams fill the plex. The Coven is in session, demanding satisfaction for being offended. This is TAZ in the classic sense, as it was originally conceived: tactical shoot fighting. Thus here, like in countless other such dojos across the world, TAZ is hand-to-hand fighting where the only trick that’s allowed is magic.
Its modern vernacular, which is played in plexes that are Dieters CQD Tac-Houses, is restricted to tactical shooting, a gun thing which incorporates Close Quarters Defense (CQD) drills like the hooded box. These Tac-Houses are arranged in full-blown Combat Towns, so-called uber-plexes.
But whether it’s classic hand-to-hand or modern TS (tactical shooting), these jousts are deeply rooted in the inseparable triplets of expediency, the Golden Oldies: infiltration, assassination, exfiltration.
Xenia and Mondo face-off. They’re naked, just like most of the girls in the audience. Emily stays close to Gina, ready to liberally apply the sap when/if the young girl tries to interfere.
“Heed my challenge. I’m here for my ass-whooping,” proclaims Mondo to Xenia.
“Sure thing. But know this. After I’ve opened up this can of whoop-ass on you. I’m gonna make sure that you’ll never wake up from going nightie-night. Dis here be your forever, bitch.”
By her way of thinking, the very integrity of the Coven is at stake. So Xenia has decided to up the ante and demand that satisfaction be a fight-to-the-death — as in, killed with no resurrection.
Kane can decline, but she won’t. Besides, even if she did decline, the Coven would never let her leave the plex alive. They’d bludgeon her to death, ‘cause by their way of thinking, the very integrity of the Coven is at stake. Xenia and the Coven are in complete concurrence.
“You’re right. Destroy her!”
“She disgraced the Coven!”
“She turned her back on us!”
And those are the most pro-Mondo of the commentary being hurled. The matter definitely needs closure and Mondo obliges. She charges Xenia. Mondo goes toe-to-toe, femmo-a-femmo, and proceeds to get the beating of her life.
It’s obvious from the git-go that Xenia means to destroy Mondo. And the crowd is of like mind. When she tosses the shamus into the crowd, the crowd throws Mondo right back at Xenia, after getting in a few vicious licks of their own.
Gina watches helplessly as she seems destined to lose yet another dandy to a duel, right in front of her very eyes. And she can do nothing. Although, at an intellectual level, she’s in total agreement with the Coven’s actions, she knows she’ll be heartbroken if Xenia finishes Kane off. She won’t let her heart prevail. She won’t disgrace her Mistress by interfering. Her Mistress deserves better than that. So, she watches and hopes against hope that her Mondo will prevail.
This Giant isn’t stronger than this Dark, regardless of what their age and size differences would imply. And Kane’s faster. Plus Kane’s a streetfighter, not a pure mat technician. Also, from a purely psychological point of view, Kane’s years of fighting have taught her how to deal with any head games an opponent might choose to use against her.
Bottomline is, Xenia, this huge woman whose nick is Crippler, doesn’t intimidate her one little bit.
Using boxing against Sabu, Mondo’s more than a match for Xenia. Blinded by their bloodlust and their fervent belief in the superiority of wrestling over boxing, it’s a discovery that Xenia and the Coven have yet to make. But Gina quickly does. Vicious’ prayers have been answered.
Jeez. This girl’s dangerous. Just, kill-first-never-ask-questions. No wonder everyone wants a piece of her. To the Holy Dame, she’s Famke. To Our Saint, she’s Anna V. To me. How’s ‘bout transmigration of souls? Yea. I like that, and so would Lilith, my great-aunt. After all, any woman worthy of being my beau would have to have some of my grandy in her.
While Gina waxes and wanes philosophically about precious lover Mondo, Xenia has less than kind thoughts about Mondo’s striking against her grappling.
But speed, fancy footwork, and boxing “skill” can only keep the brute force, that is this ‘rassling machine, at bay for so long. Couple that with the fact that her body’s nanomachines haven’t had time to heal her up completely after her bungee off the top of the building. Add in the innate superiority of wrestling over boxing. And you have a recipe for certain disaster. In the end, I have to win. So Kane has to cheat. And when she does, I’ve got her. The Coven will rip her to shreds. For now, this boxing nonsense of hers has thrown my rhythm off, but that’s soon to end, and when it does, her inevitable defeat will occur. I will not be denied.
What Xenia does realize is that, while Kane’s nonsense has her rhythm thrown off, she will likely be mortally injured, if she tries to put the terminal hurt on Kane. So she bides her time, trading devastating licks with the Judas. Onatopp is a mat technician, pure as the driven snow, a scientific wrestler. She’s not a brawler, let alone a streetfighter. And she’s boxing illiterate, knowing only one hand-to-hand style, which is Sabu — the demons’ take on MMA (mixed martial arts). But she has few equals in Sabu and no betters, which would normally be sufficient to get the job done in the plex. Usually her opponent would be kicked, chopped, and twisted into ghoul meat before the first gong had sounded. But, so far, three gongs have sounded. This is unprecedented for Xenia.
There are no rest periods. Each gong merely delineates a three minute round. Theoretically, this could go on forever. Practically speaking, the match will continue until either one of them goes down or thirteen gongs have sounded, whichever comes first. And if the match ends by gong, the challenger Mondo automatically wins. Xenia has never lost a joust.
The trouble is, Mondo just refuses to go down. Mondo gives as good as Mondo gets, and, as such, Xenia is getting the ass-whooping of her life.
When Kane is thrown repeatedly into the crowd, she gives out licks even more vicious than she gets. Mondo bobs, weaves, prances, and dances. She strikes while moving forward and backward, as well as laterally. She throws combinations, upper-cuts, right-crosses, left crosses, jabs, punishing lefts and rights, straight lefts and rights. She switches in and out of southpaw. She evades the Jafar’s attempted trips as easily as she would slip another boxer’s punches. She boxes just like Lucky “Patrick” Roberts taught her to.
Lucky was the Champ when he proudly wore the World Boxing Alliance Heavyweight Championship belt and he was still called the Champ one hundred years later when he died, no longer wearing that belt. His youngest grandson, “Jack” Dempsey, who was another generation’s heavyweight champ, still owns the Champ’s gym; managing it too, just like the Champ did. The Champ’s last student, the first female he ever taught the pugilistic art to, carries on his winning prize fighting tradition.
Mondo presses Xenia, keeping close, which neutralizes the Giantess’ kicking-game for the most part. When Xenia does get a kick in, ‘cause Mondo missed blocking it, for example, with a punch, Kane retaliates by hitting the offending leg as it’s retracted. Mondo has fantastic TDD (take down defense). It’s AWESOME!!! So. When Xenia tries to grapple her to the floor, Mondo sprawls while delivering several thunderous sledgehammer blows to the Giant’s back. That makes Xenia give up on trying to wrestle Kane down. And, in the clenches, Mondo engages in dirty boxing, as dirty as it gets, the dirtiest.
We are most, what we love best. And Kane loves her boxing, the ultimate hand-to-hand martial art according to her admittedly biased opinion. Fighting with no tricks, except for magic, is hardly a handicap for Kane. In fact, Kane prefers fighting like this way in her beloved plex.
Like the sweat drenching the Giant’s massive frame, Kane can smell the frustration rolling off of Xenia. Crippler literally reeks of it.
Onatopp always demeaned boxing. She told the girls that it was that pathetic non-martial art, the sport of weaklings, morons, and mortals.
Mondo never agreed with Xenia’s low opinion of her beloved boxing, but she wisely kept her dissenting opinions to herself. She learned everything Xenia had to teach her about Sabu, but, as a Jafar, she was never in the mammoth assistant coach’s league. Besides, boxing better suits her interests and needs, better complements her strengths and weaknesses. And, every fighter has their strengths and weaknesses no matter how good they are.
Lucky taught her how to be the best boxer she could be. She was All-City Golden Gloves champion four years straight in the women’s heavy weight division; retiring from the ring undefeated. An inhuman body has enabled her to take it to a whole ‘nother level indeed.
She’s a boxer, who’s as wrestling literate as any mat technician. She’s a streetfighter, who can brawl with the best of ‘em. She’s one of the dirtiest players in the game. And she lives by the credo that “there’s always someone dirtier just around the corner, so watch your back.” She’s the epitome of Tazz, The TAZ maniac!
To imply that the entire Coven wants Kane’s destruction is incorrect. Three do not. As one would expect, Mondo’s former-roommates are squarely on her side. Such is ROE.
Like Gina, they will not disgrace Kane by interfering. But if Kane does win, the Coven will turn against her in a fit of vengeance-unfulfilled, and they’re ready to fight shoulder-to-shoulder with Kane against the Coven.
Gina feels something cold, smooth, and lethal pressed into the palm of her hand. Emily moves right up against the girl, pressing her mouth to the slave’s ear.
“Listen closely. I know you’re packing. Don’t even think about using the gun or I’ll gut you myself. Understand?”
Gina shakes her head in the affirmative.
“If she wins, the Coven will turn on her. We will fight with her. Long knives only. No. Repeat. No killing blows with the daggers. You can cut, slash, maim, impale, flay, dismember, and kill to your heart’s content. Capish?”
Emily, obviously, expects a certain response, and Gina gives it: “The killing of sisters is okay, but killing sisters is not an option. In other words, everybody we put down resurrects.”
“And if non-destructive proves inadequate to turn back the Coven?” Gina asks, per ROE.
“Then Mondo becomes expendable. The Coven always comes first. Her liquidation will be made to look like a sporting accident,” Emily answers, per ROE.
“Also. Remember that in a plex, magic is the only trick allowed. Violating that commandment will be treated, as it was in the old days, as a capital offense.”
“Good. Your Etta-pus knows the risks.”
“She’s not my.”
“Come. Come. Your fixation’s quite obvious. And, I must say, you do have such good taste. And with her being so positively ruthless in combat, I’ll bet she reminds you a lot of your mother too. Such is her battle proxy that she reminded me of my mother even when she wore a Mundane body. Always marry a girl who fights like mom, is what I say. Now, be ready. The twelfth gong just sounded and the natives are restless.”
So I get tested as well. I fail and Mistress’ roommates will likely see to it that I become expendable. This is as much about me proving my worth as it is about Mistress proving hers.
The decisive last round provides the needed catharsis. Kane drops her guard. She finally shelves her pride and puts the Coven front-and-center and, by doing so, she gains a measure of Xenia’s respect. Pride cometh beforeth the fall, and Mondo came dangerously close to going off that precipice. She almost lost sight of the prize. She got so caught up in her own need to win that she forgot the match was not about proving who the better hand-to-hand fighter was. It was about Mondo getting the shit kicked out of her for betraying the Coven.
If Xenia decides to put me down, it’ll be because I’ve proven myself unworthy. An assassin without a Coven is a ronin, a something infinitely more dangerous to society than either the rogue serial killer or the common-ass “menace to society.” None of the Coven should put their interests ahead of the Coven’s. The Coven is family. The Coven is assassins I can trust. The Coven is the place where I can truly unwind. The Coven is sanctuary. The Coven is where you learn that “what don’t make you, will kill you.”
Kane’s thoughts slide off into oblivion as she loses consciousness. Being the challenged, it’s in Xenia’s purview to revoke the death penalty. Ultimately, it’s Mondo’s last lucid thoughts, which Xenia espers, which cause Xenia to change venues. Xenia beats Mondo to within an inch of extinction. Mondo ends up dead, but not dead.