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I hate my job.
I work for an independent martial arts rag. "Independent" as in
poor as all hell. I get sent out to places all over the country (by
bus!) to review
different tournaments and schools. Sort of a Baedeker for the
fighting fellow, you see. Thanks to our low budget, all I get in terms
of office equipment is a cheap pad of paper and a disposable camera.
I'm also the youngest guy at the mag, so I get all the boring
assignments. Case in point: here I am in some nameless city, waiting to
start an interview with one Billy Lee, a purported martial arts
He's just recently opened a new dojo with his girlfriend, Marian, and
his twin brother, Jimmy Lee.
Jimmy's got a previous engagement, so he's won't be a part of the
article. But Marian's late. Billy's been trying to fill the silence
with natter about his relationship with her -- really stuff
need to know, like how, even though they've been together for years,
Marian still won't even let him kiss her, how she'll wave her crazy
ju-jitsu arms around whenever he tries to get to first base -- and it's
boring me to tears.
Suddenly, a high-pitched
scream pierces through the morning birdsong. Billy strides to the
window of his apartment, and immediately goes rigid. "Marian!" he
cries. His head swivels. "And Willy!" He turns towards me. "They've
kidnapped her. I must rescue Marian!"
"Hey, yeah, of course," I reply, "We can reschedule the interview for
some other time. GL with the rescuing, man." He's already dashing
Gods, I hate my job. I guess it's back to the roach-infested motel. I
start packing up
my notepad and camera.
But then, inspiration strikes. Embedded battlereporting! Hell, if I can
get the scoop on this one, FOX News just might hire me.
1: The Mean Streets
By the time I stumble onto the street, Billy's already floored a
couple of rabble-rousers. He's about halfway down the street, limbs
like windmills. But my eyes are drawn to a
flailing at the entrance to Billy's apartment. For lack of a better
name, I shall call him Disenfranchised African-American
(DAWG). I move in to get his side of the story.
Me: Hey there dude! How's it hanging?
DAWG: Not so great, bro. This big white guy just laid the
beatdown on me.
Me: Yeah, so I gathered. What'd he do that for, anyway? Do you think it
was a racially-motivated attack?
DAWG: No, man, it's like, the Godfather, Willy, wanted to get rid of
that cocky kung-fu guy, 'cause, he's like so, "You suck man, come learn
kung-fu like me and be cool."
Me: Oh, so you're a gangsta.
DAWG: Yes, unfortunately. Things have not turned out the way I always
wanted. You know, I was a straight-A student in school. I could've been
a doctor or a lawyer. But our universities are underfunded so I
couldn't afford to attend, and the inherent racism of accepted
hiring practices made it difficult for me, a black man, to make a
It's rather ironic that black culture has been fetishised to the point
where white kids are dressing like us, and co-opting our vernacular,
while we ourselves have not benefitted from that trade in our culture.
The clothes are made in
third-world sweatshops that exploit cheap labour, and fill only the
pockets of millionaire
filthy mode of speech, while it will sell rap albums, ensures that no
one who talks like that will get
And so I fell to a life of crime. A fella and his family's gotta eat,
Me: Wow, that's quite a bit of profundity you've got there.
come up with any solutions to those problems?
Me: You dissin' me, DAWG...? Ah hell, he's dead.
I look down the street.
Billy's just about mopped up some trailer trash. He's really in fine
form, his leaping kicks connecting unerringly. Surely, it will not be
long before Marian is rescued.
As our protagonist advances, a door slams open,
doughty woman walks out onto the avenue. In her hand, she holds
what looks to be a
whip. Yes, I do indeed believe it is a whip. I dub the woman Sister
Billy looks stunned. He
stands still as Sister cracks her whip at him. "What's the matter?" I
yell at him. "Fight back, man!"
"I can't!" he answers me, as he gets lashed again. Flat on his back,
winded: "She's a woman. I can't hit a woman."
"Chivalry is long dead, Billy. She'll kill you if you don't defend
yourself. Think about Marian!" Gods, these martial-arts types can be so
dense. I hate this job.
Billy nods at my logical
arguments. He's got no choice, so he tries to attack Domina with the
least violent method in his arsenal: the headbutt. In this way, he
to subdue her as quickly as possible, and keep the bruising to a
minimum. It isn't long before the sister's KO'd. Or is that K'd-O?
Billy bends down to pick
up Dom's discarded weapon. "It has a fine heft," he calls to me.
He makes his way forward. Suddenly, the walls of the building next to
him start crumbling. There's a massive biker dude waiting in ambush.
Worse yet, there's some more trailer trash, and this one's brought his
Slugger with him. I don't think this is going to be fair.
The biker dude grins at Billy. "A whip! How cute!" he drawls, before
thrusting out a meaty hand and giving the Billster a nasty
nosebleed. Our kung-fuer drops to the ground, clutching his
snout. Trailer trash eyes me menacingly. He starts towards me,
tapping the business end of his bat against the palm of his hand.
Did I mention I hate my job? I fumble with the folds of my pants,
knowing I have no choice but to pull out my secret weapon. Lo and
behold, in all its
four floppy inches of glory: "Stop! International press!" I scream,
holding out my plastic-encased battlereporter's ID card, chained to my
Trailer trash looks confused for a moment, but keeps his distance and
Billy to get back on his feet. Whew, I didn't think that would've
Our hero has shaken out the cobwebs, and rejoins the battle. He cuts
quite a dashing figure, with his hair all tousled, and red rivulets
running out of his nostrils. Trailer trash swings his bat, but he is
quite ineffectual, possibly due to the fact that he is incontrovertibly
drunk. Billy dispatches him with ease.
Biker dude poses much more of a
problem. Not only is he taller and heavier than Billy, but his
reactions are also quick. Whenever our white knight gets too close,
lashes out with a random limb. I've got complete faith in Bily's
abillities. I mean Billy's abilities. Damn, I wish my pen had
backspace key. Anyway, I've got complete faith in his abillities,
sure wouldn't want to be feeling what he's feeling right now.
Of course, my beliefs are justified. With a series of high kicks
that would make any Vegas showgirl envious, our black belter vanquishes
biker dude. Nothing can keep Billiam from his
We make our way into what looks like a loading zone. Another DAWG and
trailer trash try to double-team, but ninja master Lee teaches
them both harsh and permanent lessons. But before he can even wipe his
hands, a great bellow echoes between the walls of the warehouses. A
great giant of a man, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Mr T, is
rushing to the fore with another DAWG tailing him.
Billy meets the threat confidently. He decks the DAWG with a series of
well-timed elbows, and manages to keep out of range of Mr T's
arms. T periodically swings his fists out and tries to box Billy's
ears, but our spry hero sidesteps.
With DAWG down for the count,
gears, grabbing an oil
drum from the loading dock and heaving it at Mr T. So gargantuan
that this reporter feared that he would just swat the barrel aside, but
it connects with a resounding smack against T's pecs. By alternately
throwing and rolling the oil drum, Billy is able to kill Mr T
suffering further injury.
"Area's clear!" Billy calls to me. "Let's get into the factory. It's a
front for Willy's gang."
Mission 2: The Factory
I check my pen and camera while my companion advances towards a trailer
trasher up on a ledge. Halfway there, a DAWG leaps from a catwalk
above. Before I even think to yell a warning, Billy's lightning-quick
reactions take over. Jabbing out with a fist, he knocks the DAWG
sideways in his freefall. He runs up to the trailer trash, but I don't
think he's noticed the stick of dynamite in the bad guy's hand.
"TNT! Watch it!" I warn him. Billy doesn't look like he's heard me, but
my sudden interjection surprises trailer trash, whom Billy bashes to
floor. TT lands, groaning, on top of his explosives. Meanwhile, DAWG's
up on his
feet again, if a bit unsteadily, and he trades blows with Billy. This
DAWG is either more talented or lucky than the others we've run into so
far; he and Billy knock each other over, gasping.
Billy recovers more quickly, and with a few swift kneecaps to DAWG's
forehead, renders him senseless. Trailer trash, who stupidly lit the
fuse on his stick of dynamite before he was ready to throw it, dies not
knowing what hit him.
Billy hops up onto the ledge, and I make as if to follow, but someone
me from behind. I rotate onto my back, and I'm face-to-face with
another member of the trailer trash clan. This guy's outfit is
particularly horrendous -- a hot pink tank top tucked into white golf
pants that segue into brown leather shoes. I try to explain to him
that I'm a non-combatant, but all that comes out of my mouth is,
"Intuhnadunal pwess!" mainly because he's pummelling my ribs.
Luckily, Billy comes to my
recue. "Unhand him, knave!" He grabs TT by the hair and drags him off
"International press! God damn!" I wheeze. They both ignore me. Billy's
busy flipping trailer trash over his shoulder. My erstwhile attacker's
centre of gravity describes a perfect parabola as he falls into an open
pit. Billy pulls me up the ledge before I can ask, "What the hell kind
of factory is allowed to operate with an open pit in the middle of it?"
I surreptitiously check my camera; looks like it's still working fine.
I take a moment to remove my reporter tag from my belt and clip it to
my shirt pocket. Perhaps it'll be more visible there, and dissuade
further goonery against my person.
We clamber up a stack of metal girders. A DAWG with a baseball bat and
another TT are waiting for us. Billy disposes of TT using some fancy
footwork; drawing him to the edge overlooking the pit and then shoving
him over. Bat boy, knowing he's no match for a karate-chopping dojo
operator, isn't shy about using his Slugger.
The bat thuds against Billy's abdomen; I can
hear the breath being driven out of his lungs. DAWG lets out a
taunting whoop, but his elation is short-lived. The Bill wills himself
to overcome the pain in his gut and rushes the thug with one kick
after another. I swear his feet spend more time in the air than on the
ground! As the podiatric barrage pushes DAWG into the oft-used
pit of no return, Lee deftly plucks the Louisville Slugger out of his
hands. "It has a fine heft," he announces as he caresses
the shaft lengthwise.
We arrive into what looks like an assembly area. There's a conveyor
belt that feeds into a hole. I don't know how deep it is, but it's got
nasty clunking and shredding sounds coming from inside. There's an
elevator set in the north wall, but the south edge of the floor ends in
a steep three-storey drop. I flip to a blank page in my notebook and
write: Find the architect and MAKE HIM HURT.
I point out the lights above the elevator. "Looks like someone's coming
Billy takes position to one side. Seconds pass. The elevator
doors slide open quietly. One trailer trash and two Sisters step out.
I can see Billy's wrestling with his knightly conscience again. "For
Marian!" I urge him. "Headbutt!" And so he does. Let me tell you, I've
see a lot of things over the years, but I've never seen anyone able to
use his head so magnificently. It almost sounds like the women are
screaming with pleasure at our sensei's ministrations. Trailer trash
sucker-punches Billy to relieve him of his bat, but is tossed up onto
the conveyor belt in revenge. Billy keeps TT on the defensive with a
flurry of punches, and the evil-doer eventually missteps and falls
irretrievably into gaping chasm #2. He's followed by one of the Doms
when Billy's headbutt bounces her onto the belt.
Meanwhile, the elevator's brought up another two Sisters. While Billy
steps up to pleasurepressure (it's so hard
to observe and take notes at the same time) them, I hear a buzzing
sound from the edge of the factory floor. I cautiously glance
over. There's a metal lift rising up from the ground below, and there's
a baddie on it. This guy looks like a professional: clothes tailored to
a perfect fit, an easy and relaxed stance, with this haughty expression
on his face. I shall call him Preppy.
"Incoming bogie, Billy-Bob! You'd better finish them off
quickly." Sadly, he doesn't have enough time to
properly take all three of the remaining Sisters at once. Preppy steps
off of the platform.
From the get-go, it's
clear Billy's in trouble. Preppy is quite skilled in martial arts, as
I'd predicted, though his form is not as graceful as Billy's. Preppy
puts Billy into a full nelson, and the women have their way with
him. I have to avert my eyes: it's not pretty.
The situation is grim, but Billy turns things around in a heartbeat. He
temporarily frees himself by unleashing an elbow into Preppy's face.
His head bobs up and down, left and right, as he takes care of the
dames one after the other.
One of the Sisters is down for the count.
Knowing that if I'm ever to get that job at FOX News, I'll have to
demonstrate an ability to get the full story, I mosey on down to Sister
Domina to record her last words.
Me: Greetings, Sister
Domina. How are you feeling today?
Dom: How do you think I'm feeling?
Me: Oh, right, of course. Sister, can you tell me why you turned to a
life of crime?
Dom: It's a funny story, really. I started out as a nun, but after a
couple of years of that I felt that something was missing from my life.
Me: So you went from being a nun to a violent criminal?
Dom: It's not as simple as that. When I left the convent, I realised
that I didn't really have all that many marketable skills, what with my
training as a bride of Christ. But then, I realised that I was really
rapping boys' knuckles with rulers at Sunday school, and dominating
flows naturally from that. And of course those sore-knuckled lads were
a great initial client base for me.
Me: I see. And how did you come to work for Willy?
Dom: Lots of bad boys need to get proper punishment in an organisation
like Willy's. It's not surprising they hired me. I'm
very good at what I do, but your friend there is much better. And here
am, stewing in my own juices. 'Twas fun while it lasted.
Me: I guess... Any last words?
Dom: Please... thank that man in the blue vest for being the first
person to make me a woman.
Me: Pardon? I'm not sure I take your meaning.
Dom: The things he can do with his head...
Me: I'm going to take stab in the dark because I've got no idea what
you're talking about. You're saying you've never --
Me: But even after you left the convent, you never --
Me: But even after you divested the habit and picked up the whip --
Dom: Never. Are you stupid or something?
Me: Sorry. I'm new at this embedded stuff. Trying to get a job at FOX.
I'll make sure to pass on your gratitude to Mr Lee. Thanks for talking
with me, Sister.
When I turn back to the
rumble, I see Preppy's only got one of his backup singers left. She
can't attack safely, because Billy and Preppy have got their handsfists
all over each other. Billy eventually lands some lucky hits, leaving
his sparring partner muttering groggily. With a mighty
poke of his head, he knocks Dom upout.
Preppy, now recovered, stands on the platform, daring Billy to some
high-stakes combat. The two square off.
They trade punches, but neither can gain the upper hand. Surely, the
first to make a mistake will tumble to his death. I can see Billy's
eyes following Preppy's every move, trying to glean some pattern in the
attacks. Suddenly, an opening: sensei Lee clutches at Preppy's coifed
locks, pulling his skull to crack against a hard kneecap.
certain the joust is over, but then Preppy, amazingly, grabs Billy's
forearms and shoves him backwards. Billy stumbles. One foot slips off
of the platform, then the other. Only his preternatural
dexterity saves him from plummeting to his death. He thrusts his arms
out and tries to cantilever himself back onto the lift, but his
skin is slick with sweat and he can't make any progress.
Preppy catches sight of me. "Hey, you with the camera! Would you mind
taking a picture of me getting rid of this middle-class loser?"
I gulp and nod. It was nice knowing you, Lee. I put camera to eye while
Preppy straightens his vest and poses with his foot ready to stomp on
Billy's scrabbling arms. "Snap it whenever you're ready," he orders.
I focus the picture. "Say cheese." With a click and a flash the camera
works its magic.
Billy times it perfectly. Just as Preppy blinks from the sudden flash
of light, Billy grabs a $500 boot and upends his torturer,
sending him, screeching, over the edge.
"Come on," Billy waves to me. "They must have taken Marian down a
head for the elevator, but my reportee doesn't follow. "No, not there,"
he says. He points to the lift.
"Are you insane?" I ask him. "We could fall off that thing!"
"Elevators are for wimps, not great martial arts instructors like me."
"Well, I'm just a reporter, so I'm takin' the elevator." I hit the call
button, but Billy pinches my forearm with superhuman strengh and pulls
onto the platform. Not for the first time, I wonder what the hell kind
of factory has a lift without a nice sturdy cage to ensure cargo and/or
personnel don't take a swan dive over the edge. The damned thing
wobbles on the way down, but Lee's deathgrip ensures that if I go down,
he'll go down onwith me.
Mission 3: Into the
On ground level we're
intercepted by two trash, two DAWGs, and a Sister. Being an egalitarian
and a man of the twenty-first century, Lee accords the same gentle
the men as he does the lady. Thanks to Billy's manipulations, Domina
quickly falls in a swoon, and with her innocent eyes shielded
behind unconciousness, samurai Lee feels it's time for some
One after the other,
Willy's ruffians are pulled by their hair. Billy rams the hardest
part of his physique again and again into each of the scumbags'
faces, which come away stained and bleeding. Lee expertly angles his
legs to maximise the acceleration of each thrust; he looks like Michael
Flatley in Riverdance. The unoccupied gangsters
try to beat Billy off, but he's rocking to a rhythm
that cannot be slowed until he's sated. All too soon, the riffraff
silenced for good.
Ahead, there's a heavily forested area. A single TT, obviously an
advance scout, bars the way. He squawks into a walkie-talkie before
cracking his knuckles and grappling with the protagonist of our report.
Unfortunately, the trash man is no match for someone who just came onfrom
a whole mob of roughs. Billy tosses him over his shoulder; just another
notch in his belt.
We venture into the woods, following a well-trod path. All is quiet,
until a trailer trash clansman drops from the trees. Billy reacts
quickly, jumping up and putting a boot into TT's midsection. Two other
TTs come out of hiding after the failed ambush. I swear, they all look
exactly alike and wear exactly the same clothes. This has got
inbreeding at its worst. One of them is positioned near the edge of a
deep pit; Billy heads for him, hoping to even the odds a bit by poking
him into the hole. I sure wish Public Works would just fix all
the stinking holes in the ground.
Our karate master flicks a foot out in a high kick, aiming at TT's
head. However, the trash pulls a knife and throws at Billy. The three
trashketeers snicker as the blade slams home; Billy falls to a crouch.
To everyone's astonishment, Billy gets to his feet, grabs one of the
TT, and starts cracking his head open with a series of rapid knee
strikes. The knife fiend, mouth hanging open in surprise, is pounded
into the hole of no return. The third of the trailer trash brothers
regains enough of his wits to put up token resistance, but Billy grabs
him by the hair, and sends him to join his sibling to tour the
I am in awe of Billy. "How did
you survive that
He dismissed it as nothing. "My body has been hardened by years of
training. I do not mean to say that it did not hurt. Just that it would
have hurt more were I not a martial art sexpervarts
expert." He fishes one of TT's knives from the dusty road and
gauges its balance. "It has a fine heft."
We resume our journey; I notice he's definitely walking with a limp. A
tell-tale rustling in the foliage alerts us to a nearby enemy -- a
biker dude charges out from behind the trees.
The Bill shifts his grip on the knife and meets the biker head on.
Dude's superior height and muscle serve him well, preventing the knife
from cutting into flesh. Billy switches tactics, placing a kick
into dude's teeth and immediately following up with a roundhouse. The
impact sends the biker reeling onto his back. When he tries
to get up, Billy draws a bead and launches the knife right into
biker dude's gut. Chalk up another kill for the good guy.
We reach a bridge spanning a river. Or, it would span the river if it
weren't broken in the middle. For the umpteenth time, I wonder
municipal government's spending its tax dollars. On the opposite side
of the gap, there's another biker dude gleefully pounding his chest and
yelling taunts at us.
Billy leaps fearlessly across the gap while I contemplate the
fast-flowing waters. Knowing that I'm not as athletically gifted as
Lee, I decide that it would be folly for me to jump. As I chew on this
problem, biker dude guffaws, and this is followed by a splashing sound
and a spray of water. Billy's been tossed into the river.
He's sputtering and floundering; when his face breaks the
surface, I can clearly see the fear in his eyes. I realise he doesn't
know how to swim. A lucky current pushes him towards my side of the
broken bridge; I lie down on my stomach, catch hold of a waving arm,
and pull him to safety. Billy's coughing like mad. Biker dude is busy
cackling an insane laughing chant: "Ha, ha, ha! Ho, ho ho! Hee, hee,
hee! Heh, heh, heh!"
Our hero is enraged. He leaps again across the breach,
droplets of water streaming from his soggy clothes. He sticks his
landing on the other side despite the dampness, and launches a furious
assault on biker dude. Dude tries to counter, but with the
combination of Billy's rapid prancing and his slick, wet skin makes it
as difficult as catching a fish with bare hands.
Finally, Billy lands a powerful kick, sprawling dude on the ruined
Bill smooths his hair back out of his eyes. "Come on, jump for it."
"Uh, I don't think I can jump that far," I reply. "And the current's
too fast for my dogpaddle."
Billy growls. He lunges back over the raging waters, grabs my arms,
turns his back to me, and lifts me over his shoulder. I suddenly
realise that I'm in the air and dropping, but before I can scream, my
landing knocks the breath out of me. Luckily, biker dude broke my fall.
My buddy's made it back across the bridge and is trading blows with a
DAWG and two trash men on solid ground. I take the opportunity to add
guy-on-the-street interview to my portfolio.
Me: Hello, Biker Dude!
Me: Begging your pardon, but I didn't quite catch that. All I got was,
Me: Uh, right. So dude, why are you in Willy's gang? It's not cool to
be a bad guy.
Biker: All I ever wanted to do was ride my hog.
Me: Oh... Isn't bestiality illegal in most jurisdictions?
Biker: Bee Gee what?
Me: Er, ride your what?
Biker: My hog! My motorcycle!
Me: Ah, I see what you mean. But what's that got to do with joining
Biker: The biker lifestyle is expensive. Most people wouldn't think it,
but it's true. You've got to pay for insurance and gas and parking and
maintenance. Then there's the clothing (a leather jacket is a
must), the chains, and the helmets. Of course there are also spiffy
accessories like those little bells you can ring to warn pedestrians on
the sidewalk. Those are usually only found on bicycles, but I think
it's only considerate for us motorcyclists to use them too. And, well,
there's the hog itself. Plus we've got incidental expenses for alcohol,
drugs, and firearms to fend off the pigs.
Me: Huh? Why would you need guns to fend off your hogs?
Biker: Pigs, moron, not hogs! The cops!
So, in answer to your question, I do a little enforcing on the side to
get some extra dough.
Me: Heh. Looks to me like you're the one who got enforced. Do you have
any advice for our readers back home who might be
looking into a career in a crime ring?
Biker: #%@& off!
Me: Actually, I think that's spelled with an asterisk, but thanks for
those words of wisdom.
Billy's making quick work of his enemies. Two
of them are already lying face-down in the dirt. The third tries to
wrestle our champion to the ground, but Billy breaks free. TT lays into
him with a dastardly punch to the kidney, but that's the extent
of the damage he inflicts. Billy grabs TT by the hair, delivers two
knee smashes to the forehead, and flings him into the drink. Too bad
it's not beer, TT.
We reach a canyon, guarded by two each of bikers and trash.
Billy takes one of the TT by the hair and introduces him to his pretty nieceknees;
they really seem to hit it off. Given the stunned look on TT-1's face,
I think it's safe to conclude that it's love at first sight.
However, the other three thugs do not have romance on their minds.
They're lifting heavy boulders up over their heads, and chucking them
at Billy. Macho martial artist that he is, he stands his ground and
tries to deflect the massive projectiles. Unfortunately, rock is
somewhat sturdier than flesh, and Lee is concussed into the
I can see that Billy's having trouble keeping his balance. Every time
he tries to get up, he keels from side to side. His attacks are
mistimed, allowing the bikers to grasp him and throw him around in a
game of upsy-daisy.
I know I have to do something, but being a wimpy reporter, I know I
can't take on TT, much less a biker dude. Aside from which, a
battlereporter attacking would be the heights of BM observing. Words
will have to
be my weapons.
"Billy, you have to hang on!" I beseech him. "My career aspirations at
FOX are riding on your shoulders!" His only reaction is a muffled
grunt, which possibly was not due to my inspirational speech, but a ham
into his belly.
"Billy! Think about Marian! You're her only hope."
That did something. I can see the rage burning in his eyes again. Lee
stands up, eyeing one biker's toothy grin. The biker sends a fist
speeding towards Billy's head, but the good ninja blocks it with an
palm. The loud smack reverberates in the air while TT and the other
biker recover their boulders. Lee places a kick at the biker's torso,
but dude shakes it off. Billy tries again with the other leg,
and this time his opponent doubles over. Lee takes advantage of the
biker's incapacitation, pirouetting in a powerful roundhouse
kick. The blow sends the biker dropping over the escarpment.
The other two gangsters are wary now. Billy decides to engage the
remaining biker; TT manoeuvres behind in an attempt to line up
a shot with his stone. Lee gives the biker a face massage, causing him
to drop his
boulder. Billy agilely ducks below the falling rock and
continues his manual assault, finishing with a viscious uppercut that
sends the biker flying.
TT wavers nervously, so biker dude remains the focus of Billy's
attention. With combinations of punches, kicks, and elbows, he herds
the biker closer and closer to the edge of the cliff. The biker runs
out of room, and therefore choices. He tries to leap forward, but
Billy's boot bats the baddie into oblivion. TT thinks better of
continuing all by his lonesome, so he drops his boulder, and makes a
run for it.
"We must be close to Willy's
Mission 4: The Lion's Den
We're somewhat confused about how to proceed at this point. Behind us
are wilderness and defeated lackeys. In front of us
is the edge of a cliff.
All becomes clear when Billy peers into the abyss. "Aha!" he exclaims.
"There's a bridge down there." He's right. And there's a Preppy looking
up at us. "Nothing to do but jump," Billy says. He propels himself into
the air. I cringe, sure he's going to break every bone in his body.
However, he manages to land, cat-like, on all fours. Preppy and Billy
Meanwhile, I weigh my options. Journalistic integrity demands that I
follow Lee until the end. Logic dictates that I should not jump. I
therefore decide to climb.
Securing my camera and notepad, I slowly lower myself over the edge
of the cliff face. The stone is rough, and there are plenty of hand-
and foot-holds. Unfortunately for me, my hands are shaking and becoming
damp with sweat. I risk a glance down -- it's a big mistake. The bridge
is still quite far below me, and I notice that it only has a railing on
one side. Just who the hell designs these things? A bridge into the
middle of a cliff face? That has safety railings on only one edge? The
nearly makes me lose my grip.
I stare steadfastly as the rock surface in front
of me, carefully moving one limb at a time, ensuring each nook and each
cranny can hold my weight. I can hear Billy and Preppy tussling below;
both periodically emit
grunts as blows connect. I am fraught
with guilt at not being able to take pictures. With one hand, I take my
camera and aim it behind my back without looking. Hopefully I'll catch
something worth seeing.
Interminable minutes pass as I complete my descent. Finally, with the
bridge underfoot, I turn around just in time to see Billy land a
decisive headbutt against Preppy's cheek. Preppy lies supine on
the bridge deck. Billy strides towards the other end of the bridge,
where another Preppy awaits.
I am too shaken from my climb to follow. I whip out my notebook and
prepare to interview the fallen Preppy at my toes.
day to y-you!
Me: S-so, Preppy, it's not often that rich kids join gangs. Tell us a
little bit about why you've chosen such a dodgy lifestyle.
Preppy: My family is very rich. We've got so much money you probably
don't even know how to count that high. Whatever I wanted was provided.
these clothes I'm wearing? One of a kind, specially tailored in Italy.
three cars, one for weekdays, one for weekends, and one for special
occasions. Everything I've ever wanted could be purchased.
Except for excitement. I joined Willy's gang so I could swarm people
who don't dress as snappily as I do.
Me: Oh. May I ask how your family came by its fortune?
Preppy: My father was an architect.
Me: ARCHITECT? Did he design any famous buildings we'd know about?
Preppy: *cough* Yes... the factory in town... a couple of bridges... In
fact, the bridge we're on right now.
Me [to myself]: Revenge is within reach!
Me: Hmm... Well, I've got some interesting "questions" I'd like to
"ask" your father. Can you maybe give me an address or a contact number?
Preppy: He's dead... You can talk to my mother if you want.
Me: Drat. Uh, no, never mind. May I ask you how he died?
Preppy: While he as taking a stroll through the forest, he... fell into
Me [to myself]: Poetic justice!
Me: My condolences for your loss.
Preppy: Please, my time is short... can you deliver a message to
someone for me?
Me: Of course.
Preppy: Tell her... I love... her... *cough*
Me: Yes, but who? Your mom?
Preppy: Tr... *cough* Trust Fund. [dies]
Me: I will not fail you. Rest in peace.
I look up in time to see Billy dumping Preppy #2 over the opposite end
of the bridge. Lee makes eye contact with me and points up. We'll have
to scale another rock wall.
So... We have to climb down a cliff to reach a bridge, and then from
said bridge, climb up another cliff. Something just doesn't sound
kosher here, but I can't put my finger on it.
Billy scurries up the rock, spider-like,
while I opt for a more sedate pace. Above me, I can hear scuffling.
A body drops past me into the chasm; Billy's doing some trailer trash
population control. I reach the level ground in time to
snap a picture of of Lee feeding everyone's favourite joint to yet
We come to a cave with double doors barring the way. There can be no
doubt about it -- this has got to be Willy's HQ. We surmise this due to
the fact that caves do not usually have doors. Without warning,
the gates swerve out, and the cave disgorges a T with a decidedly
sickly look to him.
Despite his greenish cast, Mr T comes out swinging. Billy raps a
elbow into T's solar plexus, dropping him to the ground. T
recovers almost immediately, hugs Lee's legs to his lettuce-coloured
chest, and sends him head over heels into the air. Our ninja master
crashes into the
ground with a thump.
The two are nearly evenly-matched. T's superior size and mass are
balanced by Billy's refined talents. When Mr T kicks out a leg to
Lee, Lee counters by rolling a boulder over T's feet. When Billy mashes
a boot against T's face, the big green man replies by slapping an open
palm against my companion's ear. When the former A-Team member manages
to throw Lee, the kung-fu master leaps to his feet and elbows his
opponent to the ground.
Well, the saying goes, "The bigger they are, the harder they fall," and
when T finally toplesstopples, I can
literally feel the ground trembling. Billy's looking quite battered,
but with Marian just minutes away, his step does not falter. He invades
a moment to interview Mr T.
Me: Mr T! Hey, I'm
your biggest fans!
T: Shut up, fool!
Me: Uh, I think it would be in your best interests to talk to me. I'm a
reporter. If you alienate me, I could write nasty things about you and
ensure you'll never be on TV again.
T: I got no time for the jibba-jabba! Damn, I want to barf.
Me: Yeah, I was gonna ask you. Is green your natural colour?
T: No, it was Murdock's turn to cook again. Damned sucka! I told
him cook the meat until it was well-done!
Me: So, Mr T, can you tell me why you've thrown your lot in with a
criminal organisation after a lifetime of fighting the good fight?
T: Ever since the A-Team disbanded everything's gone downhill. I had to
sell all my gold just to put food on the table. And when the money ran
out, I had to do something. I just couldn't go back to eating
three meals a day. As in oatmeal, miss-a-meal, and no meal.
Me: I'd better get back to my partner. Thanks for chatting with me, Mr
T. Good luck in your future
T: Crazy fool, I'm lying here bleeding to death!
Me: Oh yeah. What I meant to say was, "Live long and prosper."
I enter the cave. Up ahead
Billy's being attacked by the wall. Parts of it are shooting out and
slamming into him. Further inside, there's a pit filled with sharp
spikes. Billy's got little room to dodge. I advance to help him to
his feet, but right in
front of my nose, a brick slides out. I can think of only one way of
getting past this trap.
I puff out my chest, and yell, "International press!" pointing to the
ID card on my shirt. "Stop!"
The bricks are vibrating, ever so slightly, but it looks like my ploy
has worked. I run to Lee and drag him to safety. "That's twice I've
saved your life," I mumble. "Just what sort of martial artist are you?"
He shakes his head
to clear it. Ahead, two TTs are arguing about who should take the lead
in assaulting Billy. Lee takes the question out of their hands by
walking up to them and knocking them over. The trashmen's resistance is
pathetic; more often than not, they get in each other's way. Billy
takes minimal damage in the encounter.
We creep forward, but there's the soft brush of footfalls behind us.
"Look out!" Billy yells. He unceremoniously shoves me to the floor. I
feel something whiz by my ear. A split second later, there's a clink of
metal against the toe of Billy's boot. It takes me a moment to realise
he managed to kick a throwing knife out of the air.
There's a DAWG behind us, cursing at his wasted blade. Billy jumps over
me and starts pugilistic activities with the enemy. The DAWG makes a
it, but is too chobo for our resident black belt. Billy grabs
him by the hair and tosses him into the spike pit.
Lee retrieves the knife from the ground. "The heft. It is fine
"Yeah," I answer, "I can tell because it looks just like the other one
you picked up."
There's a room not too far
away. The plush red carpeting virtually strumpettrumpets
that this is where
meet us. This is where Billy willy be reunited with
Marian. This is
where everything will end, one way or another.
Billy and I walk, keeping the deadly pit well to our right. Suddenly,
the wall to the left begins to crumble. Another Mr T bursts forth.
Seconds later, T's brother, whom I'll call Mr A in order to avoid
confusion, ruptures a similar gap
in the wall. Lee, unfazed by the sight of all that glistening
prepares to get T and A.
Billy takes careful aim
with his blade. With an expert flick, he jams it right into the middle
of A, who falls, screaming, clutching the wound with both hands.
pivots to face T. Our hero tries to wallop T's chest, but the
behemoth's massive pectorals absorb the attacks easily. T hops forward,
wraps his arms around Billy's middle, and with a great yell, catapults
him into the air. As Lee crunches onto the floor, T makes a big show of
flexing the muscles in his chest.
Mr A is whimpering at a splotch of red spreading down his pant
Billy, regaining his balance, faces off with T again. He bangs a kick
into T's shoulder, but it has little effect. In a few short moments,
Billy is back in the air. Lee changes tack. This time, when he
gets up, he immediately jumps into the air and sticks a leg out towards
T. The speed of the attack catches his enemy by surprise; Billy's
momentum allows the blow to tip T over. T thuds into the ground, his
upper torso jiggling like jello.
Somehow, Mr A has managed to extract the knife from himself.
on revenge, he lurches at our sensei. But Lee sees him coming,
throws a merciless punch at A's knife hole. Billy's fist goes into the
cut, sending the bigger man into new paroxysms of agony and redoubling
the torrent of blood flowing out of A's hole.
During this viscious assault, T walks up behind Billy. Lee barely has
time to begin a headbutt, but T is in the act of punching. The good
skull cracks into T's ham fist.
"No, stop headbutting," I suggest. "They're too big for you. You need
use attacks with greater momentum." Billy grunts. T
receives an elbow in the stomach, and Billy moves into a better
Lee makes like a Mexican jumping bean, flitting first one way,
then the other. The flying kicks are taking their toll on Billy's
stamina and T's strength. Soon, both of them are swaying on their feet.
Billy, too tired to propel himself forward, jumps straight up and
twists in midair, sending a kick at T's huge teatteeth.
advantage of Billy's inability to defend in the air, claps his hands on
the outstretched leg. However, Lee reacts quickly. As he falls, he
clicks his other foot against T's hand, effectively pincering one brown
arm. The move seems to defy all known laws of physics, but T is pulled
down and forward, and in his fatigued state, he cannot
break his fall. His chin whams against the floor, and it's lights out.
Meanwhile, A is back up again, limping more than ever. He yanks our
kung-fu fighter up and attempts to throw him into the spike pit, but he
can't even get
him off the ground. The exertion sends new waves of pain rippling out
from the knife wound. The fight's gone out of Mr A; he crawls into
I survey the area. Broken walls, bloodstains, a spike pit; broken
and decomposing corpses. If this isn't a candidate for Extreme
Makeover: Home Edition, no place is.
I walk up to Billy and take a look. He's sitting with his back against
the wall, breathing heavily, his face shiny with sweat, and perhaps
tears. He's covered in blood, and I'm not sure how much of it is his.
"We should hurry," I say. There's no response; his eyes are dead.
But then, we hear quiet sobbing coming from the carpeted room. There's
no need for me to prompt Billy, for his thoughts are already racing to
the correct conclusion. "Marian," he whispers. Billy, reinvigorated by
Marian's nearness, dashes into the grand hall. I follow, notepad and
Mission 4: The Showdown
And there she is.
Marian. Tied up like some animal at a rodeo. Lee is incensed; his
nostrils flare, his eyes bug out. "Billy, help me!" Marian cries.
Sighting a biker, a TT, and badbat DAWG,
Billy charges towards them to unleash his anger.
TT draws Lee's ire first. Billy's hands and feet blur as the trash man
is given his just deserts. His head is slammed repeatedly into
the wall, smearing it crimson.
Bat boy and biker dude work in tandem to herd Billy further into the
room. I walk up to the fallen TT, hoping to complete my interview
series, but he is completely unresponsive to my queries. Maybe the HR
department at FOX won't notice my work's incomplete. Or if they do,
maybe I can get a job as a fact-checker for 60 Minutes.
My eyes are drawn to the far side of the room, where Billy is battling
it out with the biker and the DAWG. Above, on an indoor balcony (how
useful), stands the head honcho, the big boss, the Godfather. There's a
machine gun on a rack over his shoulder; I'm somewhat surprised he
hasn't pulled it and started shooting. Willy
doesn't look happy that Billy's made it this far. He waves at someone
behind him. A Preppy walks out of the shadows and climbs up onto the
balustrade, preparing to leap into the melee below. "You think
so good, come shoot me!" Billy taunts. Willy grinds his teeth, but
makes no response. Behind me, I can hear Marian whimpering.
Billy is roughing bat boy up quite badly. With his trademark hair-grab
and knee smash, he induces the DAWG to relinquish the Slugger. With a
mighty heave, Billy chucks his enemy against the balcony above. There's
a loud crack as the DAWG's back ricochets against the wood, followed
quickly by another crack when his he lands on his head. He is
unquestionably finished. The first Preppy, who's just alit onto
the floor, whistles. His brother emerges from the
balcony and prepares to join the fray. A third Preppy stands beside
they are frowning and whispering to each other. Willy makes a slashing
motion with his hand, and the Preppy nods, preparing to jump to ground
level. Willy snatches the machine gun from the wall, and disappears
into the shadows.
Knowing he's going to be seriously outgunned in a few seconds, Lee
throws it into high gear. He repeatedly slaps elbows into the biker's
chest. Whether by fortune or skill, I do not know, but one of the hits
seems to have critically injured the dude. He's gasping for air,
clutching the left side of his chest. Billy socks one last elbow into
the biker's temple, knocking him out.
The three Preppies are circling Lee, putting him on the defensive. I
spot Willy through a pass-through,
gun swaying in his arms. Billy swings an elbow, and through some
weird mechanism I can't fathom, manages to deck two of the Preppies at
Then, Willy enters the room. He braces himself, raises the his gun, and
squeezes the trigger. A burst of bullets rockets out of the muzzle, and
enters Billy's body.
Lee makes no noise. Marian screams enough for the both of them. So this
is how it ends. I prepare to make a run for it -- I doubt Willy will
appreciate me having a picture of him committing cold-blooded murder.
But then, incredibly, Billy rolls into a crouch. Though there are
bloodstains blossoming on his shirt, he seems to be as hale as
ever. The gang leader is frozen in surprise, the Preppies likewise. Our
protagonist capitalises on their hesitation, flooring each of the
then presenting Willy with an elbow in the nose.
The gangsters are more
careful now. After witnessing Billy's improbable survival, the boss is
unwilling to risk his henchmen's lives by firing indiscriminately into
the pack. The Preppies scrap with Lee; each takes his turn drawing
attacks while the other two try to land solid strikes.
One of the Preppies, on whom Lee has been concentrating, is perspiring
heavily. Lee shoots a foot outward and connects with his
shoulder. As Preppy doubles over, Billy spins and sends him into
the afterlife with a roundhouse kick.
Willy growls. With
one arm, he directs the two remaining Preps to back him up. As they
close in, Billy flattens Willy and one of his followers with a
headbutt. Lee forces the other Preppy into a corner, where they go at
The gang leader's frustration reaches critical mass. Berserk, he points
his weapon at
me. Being a person of at least moderate intelligence, I duck.
The gun sprays bullets my way. As I drop down onto all fours, I can
hear them raking the wall behind
me. "asdf!International! asdf!Press!
God damn! I
HATE THIS JOB!" I yell, but to no avail. With the second Preppy
dispatched, Billy comes to my rescue,
putting a boot into the gang boss's back. I scramble behind a corner
to observe the struggle.
The last Preppy is scowling. He cannot believe Billy's not dead yet.
With an inhuman cry, he abandons any semblance of discipline,
and rushes, fingers set like claws, at Marian's boyfriend.
Lee cooly assesses Preppy's attack vector and speed. Launching
into the air with a jump kick, he gives the last henchman a terminal
case of whiplash.
Willy raises his gun as Billy lands. Marian screams again. I doubt
Billy can live through another gunshot wound. But lo, and behold, the
criminal kingpin does not score a single time.
Billy steps calmly up to the gun-toting Willy, and ruthlessly jabs his
fists out. I can hear bones breaking. Willy lies sobbing on the carpet.
Lee pulls him up by the hair, using a leg to angle the muzzle of the
machine gun away.
"Why did you do it?" Billy hisses.
Willy sneers. "Go to hell."
"Was it worth all that pain? All that death and destruction?" Lee
doesn't wait for an answer. "Bah!" He turns swiftly, and pulls Willy
over his shoulder, instinctively releasing at the point where Willy's
body reaches its greatest speed. The gang boss caroms off of
the wall, and slumps to the carpet, lifeless.
Marian and I cheer lustily. "GJ, Billy," we call in unison. Billy tears
apart the ropes restraining Marian. Lee is bruised and bloodied, and
his clothes have rips in them, but I can tell Marian doesn't care. She
embraces him and plants a big, wet kiss right on his
"Oh, Billy," she says, "Thanks for rescuing
me. I love you so much!
Let's get married. I want to have your baby. Three babies!
Six, nine, twelve!"
Billy is momentarily stunned by the news. When he recovers, he chastely
busses Marian's cheek, and says, "Close your eyes."
Marian squeals as she complies. I think he's gonna pull a ring out of
one of his pocket, get down on bended knee, and pop the question. It's
sooooo romantic, I'm not ashamed to admit I'm crying. I fumble for my
camera to record the scene for posterity.
But what's this? Billy's got no band in his hand, and he's not
kneeling. In fact, he's walking towards the pit with an expression of
fear. Marian, in contrast, is smiling blissfully, with eyes closed.
Before I can interrogate Billy about his intentions, the unthinkable
happens. My reporter's reflexes take over, and I manage to catch this
crucial moment in history.
Marian opens her eyes and
notices me with my mouth hanging agape.
"Where'd Billy go?" she asks. I point to the spiked pit just beyond the
"Oohhh oohhh," she moans, covering her face with her hands. I move
to offer what comfort I can, but Marian surprises me when lifts her
up. She's smiling. "Say, you wanna grab some dinner?"