Sirens and lights cut through the San Francisco night and drowned out the roaring highway beyond. Local police, usually left alone to their own devices, were tense as they geared up for a firefight. They had hoped that when they got the call to move out it would be a simple car crash or perhaps one armed and disgruntled goon, but unlike SWAT or Interpol they couldn't choose their battles. Their squad cars formed a light perimeter around a local mall complex while armored vans and souped-up enforcers lingered behind the line like officers to their subordinates.
Two officers were handing each other gear as they conversed near their squad car. One was a portly yet older, wise gentleman while the other was a spry stick of a man.
"It's always the same," mumbled the older officer. "They send us to secure the area and test the waters before the big boys come in to clean up."
"Ah it's not their fault. SWAT's being led around by the collar just like we are," replied the other. He fastened a weapon holster to his back and reached for his service shotgun. "I heard that they got that Interpol woman spearheading this operation."
"Operation? I thought this was just another shooting."
"No, no. Apparently Shadaloo and S.I.N. decided to do some business here. What kind of business, I don't know, but it was important enough for Interpol to follow it." The younger officer gestured to the mall. "I guess the two groups couldn't agree on anything and decided to shoot each other up. Now we're just here to mop and tie up any sur-"
Just then a tall auburn-haired woman came walking past and brought stunned silence in her wake. Her hair was tied in a traditional style while her uniform was clean, immaculate, and fitted with a service harness for her pistol and tools. She was none other than Officer Xiang, also known as Chun-Li, the famous female fighter. The woman made her way past the police blockade and fixed her hazel eyes on another officer working the radio.
"Is it time to move in?" she asked.
"Just about. Team one entered from the north end while team two just moved in here at the south," replied the radioman. "The only thing that can go wrong is if the two teams mistake each other for the bad guys. But these are sharp boys, so they'll be f-"
The sound of gunfire and screams filtered through the radio's receiver. Chun-Li edged close and listened as she heard both team one and two's radio erupted together in chaos. She wanted to believe that one of the thugs from Shadaloo or SIN had instigated something, but there was too much of an exchange of fire coming from the SWAT teams. Their high-powered weaponry made a much bigger impact in the sound department than any street weapon thugs could procure. And those screams were familiar too; men and women Chun-Li had hand picked for this operation.
Officer Xiang stood by in silence as she listened, hoping that she was wrong in her deductions. After a few seconds of nothing but static, she tugged the radio from her fellow officer's hand and spoke into it.
"Teams one and two come in. Report your status." She paused. "Teams one and two, come in. Please respond! Team leaders, anybody!"
"What should we do? We weren't prepared for something like this," muttered a nearby officer.
"Shit! We can't just leave them in there! What if they're wounded?" wondered another. "We have to go in!"
"Quiet, both of you!" Chun-Li hissed. She rubbed her temples with her free hand and gritted her teeth. "This is wrong. This is very, very wrong. They must have had an agent with them. Shadaloo or SIN, I don't know which. Think. Think!" Chun-Li looked at the officers gathered around her and made a decision. "Okay, I want a chevron formation coming in the front. Bring flashbangs and load up on rubber. I want this perp alive, but I want our men out as well. Someone get on the radio and report our status every minute. Every. Minute. Understand?"
Chun-Li's normally expressive face was now set in stone. She gripped her service pistol tightly in her two hands and kept her head on a swivel as she walked down one of the mall's large corridors. The lights, normally so bright and cheery, made Chun-Li feel like she was being put on display for whoever or whatever might skulking about in the shadows. Four officers, two on either side, moved up with the street fighter and shone their flashlights into any shadowy patch they could find. For them, their being tense was an understatement.
Urban Uniforms, Red Cross Supplies, Discopants and Haircuts, Jill's Sandwiches, and so many other shops could become the site for a heated gunfight. Bullet impacts were splattered about on the windows while casings and empty magazines littered the floor like discarded pieces of waste. But more disconcerting than that were the bodies and blood. Men and women in varying uniforms and outfits were draped over railings, benches, counters, and crumpled up on the floor as well. Shadaloo, SIN, SWAT and even civilians were there.
No-one spoke until one of the bodies, a heavily armored SWAT officer, groaned and stirred.
"Is that Bailey?" one of the police officers wondered. He jogged forward and kneeled by his comrade. "Bailey, Bailey stay with me buddy. We're going to get you out of here."
"Look for any survivors," Chun-Li ordered. She kicked a weapon away from the still body of an SIN grunt. "Civilians and officers are priority. Keep watch for any movement."
"We haven't seen anyone move since we came in. Maybe... Maybe the perp tried going out the north end?"
"We would have heard something from the north end then," Chun-Li replied.
The officers heard the soft pitter-patter of boots on metal and turned on their heels to look in the direction it came from. Chun-Li raised her sidearm and reached for her flashlight before a sinking feeling rose in her stomach. All of the lights above the small group flickered and shut off with an audible snap. The officers yelped and whipped their heads around to try and figure out what was going on. They had been tense in the light, but now that they were bathed in darkness, they were vulnerable.
Chun-Li heard the footsteps again and whirled around just in time to see a figure descend from the rafters and slam into a fellow officer. The old officer let out a scream that was soon silenced by sickening crack. The other three officers opened fire on the figure, but they moved far too quickly for any bullets to land. Like a dancer the figure made their way through the hailstorm and reached for the closest officer's handgun. From the way her violet eyes glowed to the manner in which she disarmed her opponent without mercy, it was as clear as day that Juri Han was the one variable Chun-Li did not account for that day.
Juri slammed the officer to the ground and used his sidearm to shoot down two of his fellow officers. When she was finished firing her rounds she sprang up and angled the weapon down to execute the officer beneath her. A clean shot through the head without any hesitation. Chun-Li fired a few rounds in her general direction, but the Korean darted back and leapt into the shadows for a moment before appearing at Chun-Li's side. In a split second the Chinese woman could see the maniacal look in her adversary's eyes and almost put a round between them had a kick not scored home on her side.
The pain that shot through Chun-Li's side came second to the feeling of taking to the air in an uncontrolled flight. She felt her pistol leave her grip and clatter to the floor long before her body crashed into a nearby jewelry display. Glass cut into her side and splattered over her body along with shards of priceless art. Despite all her training and endurance, she couldn't help but cry out in agony. She recoiled on the floor for a moment before managing to pick herself back up.
Despite the pain and splotches of red seeping through her right side, Chun-Li was prepared to defend herself. She reached for a knife on her holster and slid it out into her hand. The blade glimmered in the dim moonlight as it cut through the air and took a position in the woman's stance. Chun-Li looked up and noticed that Juri was watching her from the entrance of the jewelry store. The Korean had discarded the officer's spent weapon and had picked up Chun-Li's sidearm.
"I thought you didn't use weapons," Chun-Li spat.
Uncharacteristically for Juri, she did not respond. Instead she stood there looking over her 'favorite' officer's sidearm as if it was an old momento. Chun-Li took the opportunity to surge forward and jab the knife into Juri's side. However, Juri sidestepped the strike and whipped the pistol in her hand to hit hard against Chun-Li's temple. The barrel cut into her head and would be responsible for creating multiple lacerations. With another pained cry the officer crumpled to the floor.
"For once, I'm at a loss for words," Juri mumbled as she cocked the pistol. She kicked Chun-Li over to lie on her back and pressed a boot into her stomach. "I mean, my expectations were getting lower by the day, but come on, that was a pathetic display."
Chun-Li felt blood under her tongue and spat it out onto Juri's boots. Both women were in uniform and without their usual outfits. Juri's attire was mostly black and layered with pouches and other containers for a tactical operative of SIN. Her hands were bare and her face went unobstructed by a balaclava or mask. If it weren't for the glowing violet eyes and the signature horned hairstyle, Chun-Li would have mistaken the woman for some up-and-coming SIN lackey. Juri looked down at the fresh blood on her boots and scoffed.
"What did you say?"
"What did you say?" Juri shouted. She kept her weapon by her side as she glared down at her victim. "The first words out of your little lips were... What were they?"
"Go to hell," Chun-Li growled. She received a hit to her wounded side and hissed. "Agh! I... I said I thought you didn't use weapons!"
"That's right! I don't! Some people love the feel of a fucking gun in their hands but not me! But you pushed me, Chun. You're to blame for all of this."
"You're a psychopath, Juri. I didn't do anything."
Juri holstered her weapon and instead reached for Chun-Li's discarded knife. She smacked Chun-Li's cheek with the flat of the blade and growled.
"Bullshit. This is all your fault. Was it me who killed all these people, or was it you? Who plucked them from their homes and lives to go shopping? You hand-picked these men and women and sent them in here like lambs to the slaughter, and why?" Juri lifted her boot from Chun-Li's stomach only to kick her hard in her wounded side. Her lips refused to curl up in sadistic glee from the cries she enticed. "Why? Answer me, Xiang!"
"What do you want?" Chun-Li screamed.
"I'm the one asking the questions dammit!"
"I didn't know... I didn't know that you would be here!"
Chun-Li shivered as she felt Juri squat down next to her and look her right in the eye.
"You know what's pathetic? I actually believe you when you say that. Poor deluded Chun, not even thinking about her fellow officers. You're a terrible partner." Juri grabbed a handful of auburn hair and lifted Chun-Li's head up. She gestured to the bloodied bodies lying around the mall. "Look. I said look! All these people are dead because of you and your ignorance. Do you feel proud of yourself?"
"Why are you doing this?" Chun-Li asked, her voice a ragged whisper.
"Doing what? Are you making an accusation here officer? Because I'll let you in on a few things. This whole operation of yours? Tracking these Shadaloo idiots and jumping on them as soon as they meet up with SIN?" Juri cackled and released Chun-Li from her hold. "This is my operation. My doing. I killed two birds with one stone and you come in like a rat just in time to squat over them both. Now forgive me if I'm wrong, but isn't this kind of stuff beneath you?"
"I-I don't kn-"
"Oh right, your question. It's only fair, right? I ask one, you ask one, we all feel warm and fuzzy inside?" Juri reached down and slapped Chun-Li across the face. "If you start crying I swear... So, if you're done... I wanted to see the 'strongest woman in the world' once again; see if she had pulled her head out of her ass. But now here we are, and I see that you haven't gotten back to your usual self."
Juri pulled on Chun-Li's uniform and dragged the woman over to the broken jewelry display. The way in which she was speaking terrified Chun-Li and chilled her to the bone. To go from conversational to angry and back wasn't something anyone could do without a good reason attached. At times the officer wondered if Juri was speaking to her as a friend or an enemy, and when she felt Juri's rough hands slam her back against the display, she wondered if she had done something unspeakable to deserve this rough treatment.
"They call you the 'strongest woman in the world' for a reason, Chun. Looking at you now though, I can't find that reason." Juri sat down beside Chun-Li and played with the knife in her hands. "I thought a strong woman, hell, a strong anybody, wouldn't let little things like morals or ethics get in the way of them doing what they think is right."
"Are we having... a heart-to-heart?" Chun-Li groaned. She held her side and plucked a few shards of glass with her shaking fingers. "Of all the things..."
"Are you mocking me? Here I am trying to help you and you're mocking me. Well, fuck you too," Juri spat. Once again, she struck the officer next to her. "Talking time is over for you. From now on until I say so you don't get to say anything."
Chun-Li noticed that her pistol was in a holster on Juri's side. If she could just reach it when the other woman was distracted, she may be able to save herself...
"You know... I'll be honest with you. When I was just getting into the fighting business I heard stories about this female fighter who was turning heads in international circuits. Now maybe they were lies or rumors but at the time it was just the inspiration I needed to get through my training. When I learned it was Chun-Li Xiang who kicked so much ass and didn't take any shit from guys, I saw you as a role model." Juri leaned forward and looked over at Chun-Li. "Do you hear me? I fuckin' idolized you. Then I heard that you became a cop. I figured you knew what you were doing, jumping into that field full of shitheads. Maybe you'd actually be someone I could trust, you know? I mean, all allegiances aside of course."
Juri's lips contorted into a grim scowl as she continued.
"But no. When you became a cop you got stuck behind a desk working cases no-one gives a rat's ass about, and you stayed there too. You could have used your power and authority to hunt down Bison. You had plenty of opportunities." Juri patted her own chest. "I have given you plenty of opportunities, and you threw them all away. You're so obsessed with Shadaloo yet you can't even rise above the petty bullshit of laws and morals. The fucker's always in his base like the final boss of a damned videogame and you're always beating around the bush! The strongest woman in the world turns out to be nothing more than a fucking coward!"
"I am n-"
"Aha! I said no talking!"
Chun-Li's hand was so close to her pistol she could almost whisk it away. Before she could grab it, however, Juri reached down and pulled the weapon free from its holster. She draped it over her knee and casually flicked the safety off.
"I don't normally use weapons, but you've made an exception of yourself. Cowards don't deserve an unarmed fight. They always get a bullet in the back of the head." Juri let her tone die down and returned to a conversational one. She examined the pistol in her hands for a moment longer. "This is the pistol you were going to use on Bison, right?"
The officer hesitated, then she nodded.
"Ah. It's a nice gun, I'll give you that. Custom-made Beretta. When you snapped and began carrying that with you, I thought that my little China doll had finally returned to the realm of the living. You were all like, 'fuck honor, I want this asshole dead', and I thought that was pretty badass of you. But then what happens?" Juri nudged the officer's head with the gun. "What happens, huh? I'll tell you what happens. Your fucking self-righteousness resurfaced and said in a little nasally voice, 'dis is wong'. How could it be wrong when you were finally about to make some headway, huh? Imagine all of your problems, and then think about how easy it would be to just solve them with a bullet. Ah, but you law dogs like doing things the hard way."
Sounds of boots and muffled voices entered the mall along with the faint sheen of faraway flashlights. It seemed that the local law enforcement had managed to gather up enough well-equipped men and women to take another shot at the mall complex. Chun-Li winced and raised herself up to a sitting position only to be stopped short by Juri. Even when the wolves were coming down on the woman, Juri wasn't about to leave until she was satisfied. Her eyes narrowed on the officer beneath her.
"Fine. I'll make this quick. I don't have a schoolgirl crush on you, Chun. Far from it." Juri edged close and growled right in Chun-Li's ear. "I hate you. Your spot on my shitlist is just beneath Bison himself. And why? Well, if you've been paying attention, you'd realize why. So here's how this is going to go down. You're going to man the fuck up and get back to what you do best. I want to hear that you've been a thorn in our side." Juri stood up and cradled the pistol in her hands. She flicked the safety back on for good measure. "If I don't hear anything at all about you, if you've been stuck behind that desk... I'll find you, and I'll make you wish that I killed you here today."
And with that, Juri raised the officer's sidearm and struck Chun-Li hard across the face, knocking her unconscious.