Gypsy Lounge Tavern, Bay Area, Metro City, United States, two months before the events of Street Fighter III 3rd Strike

Juri Han found a table outside and reclined in her chair. She took a sip of beer, savoring the bitter taste. Her nose wrinkled slightly as she inhaled the warm early evening air. The distant mixed stench of the sea and garbage from the harbor, combined with the rank smell of nearby sewage and stale sweat, assaulted her senses. Metro City was a dump, everyone knew it.

The outdoor seating area was empty at the moment, which suited her just fine. Despite the odor, Juri preferred being alone outside. She really didn't want to deal with the several lowlifes indoors making potential advances towards her. Any persistence on their part would likely lead to fatal outcomes.

Juri's view of people was perversely divided into three sorts: those whom she truly hated, fellow street fighters who kept her entertained with combat and the rest of the muck whom she could care less about. Unfortunately for her, the people in the first two categories were on very short lists. Dispatching a few stupid drunks would hardly stimulate Juri. A dead or severely beaten body or two would also certainly attract the wrong kind of public attention. There were more important matters to deal with at the moment. Juri didn't need the distraction of police involvement, particularly since she remained on the run from authorities.

She checked the time on her smartphone. Her contact would be arriving soon.

A pair of young street toughs sized Juri up as they strolled by. Despite the relaxed posture, she remained alert. A cold and intimidating stare in their direction discouraged any further interest. They wisely hurried along, searching for easier pickings. The taekwondo expert sniffed with contempt, shaking her head after they moved on. They were hardly a test for her and there were bigger fish to fry tonight.

Although the criminal organization known as Shadaloo remained scattered, Juri continued to wage a one-woman war against them. No matter how many times people thought Shadaloo was defeated, it somehow rose again from the ashes, like some twisted phoenix.

Two years before, Juri had indirectly participated in the operation led by multibillionaire Karin Kanzuki to take Shadaloo down. Although the leader Lord Bison was presumably killed, the size of the network meant that several of his lieutenants, as well as various rank and file, had gone to ground. While the rest of the temporary alliance had declared victory and moved on with their lives, she continued to relentlessly hunt the remnants down.

Well, some remained committed. CIA operative Crimson Viper and British Delta Red member Cammy White also tracked down Shadaloo agents, particularly the officers. However, their efforts were comparatively half-hearted. She rarely cooperated with the former and unless it was an opportunity for a tortuous beat down, had little desire to interact with Cammy.

Furthermore, their methods were too soft for her taste. She much preferred a more permanent solution compared to their procedural approach. This often involved the boring rigmarole of lengthy interrogations and a legal trial which could end with a plea deal. As far as Juri was concerned, anyone who remained with Shadaloo at this point deserved to die.

Even if Juri desired to cooperate, coordination would be difficult at best. Given her own history with Shadaloo's weapons division offshoot S.I.N., she was still wanted in several countries.

'Nah, I definitely prefer to work on my own,' she reasoned. 'Besides, it's a lot more fun this way. No bullshit rules to worry about, just take them out and move on to the next target.'

Her thoughts were interrupted by a car coming down the road. The blue sedan pulled up and parked almost directly in front of the bar across the street. Remaining seated, she nonetheless tensed up, ready for trouble. The interaction could easily wind up being an ambush, as she had several close calls in the past.

Not this time, however. A lone tall man dressed in blue jeans and a light grey chambray shirt opened the door and casually stepped out. He checked both ways before crossing the street, noticed Juri and strode directly towards her. The man, who carried a manila envelope in his right hand, gave a slight nod of acknowledgement.

'Good,' Juri thought, cautiously relaxing her posture a fraction. 'He came alone.'

The odds of an ambush dropped considerably. Juri returned the nod and leaned back in her chair as he halted in front of the table. She gestured for him to sit, smirking as he grabbed a seat.

"You're on time. I really hope you have the info I asked for."

The informant sat down, nodded and handed the envelope over, trying and mostly failing to keep his eyes focused on her face. Juri snorted, reveling in his discomfort. The white dudou barely covering her chest revealed a well-muscled physique. The scrutiny didn't bother her in the least. On the contrary, she absolutely thrived on it. She was well aware that her striking appearance was an attention grabber and flaunted it whenever possible.

"Hey, I'm good at what I do. Info's all there," he replied. "Did you think otherwise?"

Juri reached over to take the slip. She tore open the top of the envelope and slowly perused the contents. Her smirk transformed into a grin.

"I paid you 20% in advance. Hmm...perfect. And the package is definitely there?"

The tall man nodded, still trying to maintain a sense of professionalism. Juri's grin slipped back to a smirk while rolling her eyes as he answered.

"I was in there. Saw it with my own eyes."

The informant waited expectantly for a few moments. Juri knew what he wanted. Well, apart from the peep show. She pulled out a strap of cash from the right pocket of her black gym pants and tossed it on the table in front of him.

"It's all there, unless you want to count it..."

The man flicked the bills quickly in the wrap, gently slapped it against his left hand and shook his head. He had run errands of this sort for Juri in the past and knew that as long as the information was good, she was a reliable buyer. On the other hand, the people who double crossed her...

"Nah, looks to be all there. So, we're good?"

Juri waved him off with a flick of her hand. He let out a sigh of relief, got up and headed back to the car. Naturally, she kept an eye on the informant until he drove out of sight.

Delightful laughter escaped Juri's lips as she reexamined the information in front of her. Balrog, an ex-Shadaloo lieutenant, was selling something of great value to an unknown party later tonight. She already knew the generalities, but now had a specific time when it would take place. Juri suspected the buyers were associated with the Illuminati, given the technology involved.

Balrog's love of making money was matched only by his ability to blow it. Real currency, not those Monopoly-style Bisonbucks he was often paid with in service with Shadaloo. This deal indicated that he was running out of funds and needed a new reservoir of capital. Juri knew that Balrog had fallen onto hard times since Bison's demise a couple of years ago. She slowly licked her lips in anticipation. Juri would get a crack at taking out someone she despised as well as a chance to retrieve something very dear to her.

Uptown East City Hospital, Uptown, Metro City

Kara Neiland ran her hands through her hair and stretched as she clocked out. It had been her third straight day working a grueling final 12+ hour shift at Uptown East. It was a hell of a way to finish her two-year stint as a registered nurse.

The young nurse couldn't complain much since she picked the 36 for 40 schedule. It meant that Kara worked three straight days for 12 hours, but the upside was having four days off. A lot of nurses selected that option compared to the standard eight-hour, five days scheme.

The time as an RN at Uptown East was an invaluable experience, but she had her mind set on becoming a nurse practitioner and she needed a master's degree for that. It was a tough decision, but ultimately Kara decided to focus entirely on school.

As much as she wanted to continue her current job, the academic load combined with working part-time at the hospital would have been extremely difficult. As such, Kara planned to take a couple of months off to unwind before classes started in the fall. The next couple of years would be strenuous, but her desire to get into family care as an NP remained unchanged.

Once she was off the clock, Kara decided to find Mary, her co-worker and mentor who was working a standard shift that evening. The two had become close friends since Kara started at the hospital and she definitely wanted to say goodbye before leaving.

They both worked on the medical surgical floor or med-surg, so Kara proceeded to the charge nurse's desk to find out where Mary was. After a short discussion, she was directed to the room where Mary was checking on a patient. It didn't take long to find it. Kara peeked in to make sure she wasn't interrupting anything before entering. Mary looked up from her chart and waved Kara in.

"Hey girl! You're all done now, right?"

Kara nodded.

"I just wanted to see you before I left but I didn't want to keep you from anything."

"Not a problem. Just checking on patients at the moment. I'm gonna miss you. You'll be hard to replace."

Kara smiled and thanked her warmly, looking down momentarily to blink back a few tears. The compliment from the 12-year veteran meant a lot to her. She recovered her composure. The last thing she wanted was to break down in front of a patient.

"Well, to be honest, I'll probably be back here in a couple of years once I finish my degree. It's been a good challenge working here."

Images from the overhead TV caught Mary's attention. Kara followed suit to see what was going on. The channel was set to the 24-hour local news network METN. Both nurses began watching with curiosity.

The stories concentrated on a number of street battles amongst gangs that had flared up once again throughout the Uptown District. One scene displayed city police in riot gear advancing in line towards some rioters the night before. Another showed a young blonde cop in denim shorts with pinstripe stockings. She was roughly pinning a rowdy suspect against the side of a building while handcuffing him.

The footage cut away live to city hall, where Mayor Cody Travers announced in a short speech that an 11pm curfew would be enforced for tonight. Deployment of the National Guard was granted by the state governor to help the city police maintain order amid the growing clashes. He then opened the floor for a few questions. An older male reporter was picked from the front row.

"Mr. Mayor, do you think the current violence is better or worse compared to during the Haggar administration?"

Mayor Travers rubbed his forehead before answering.

"Well, you gotta remember that instead of dealing with a couple of major gangs, there's a lot of smaller ones out there now. Despite what it looks like today, we're continuing to regain control of this city bit by bit. Next question."

Another journalist stood up, this time a female several rows back.

"Mr. Mayor, how much of a negative impact do you think the gang violence will have on your reelection campaign?"

Mayor Travers' jaw tightened as he threw up his hands.

"Are you kidding me? Innocent people are getting hurt and out there you're asking me about my campaign? Unbelievable! One more question."

A young male reporter in the second row remained seated when he was picked.

"Mr. Mayor, can you respond to reports that the city council has rejected your proposal to add additional police to the payroll?"

The mayor glared, opened his mouth and then shut it again. He took a deep breath before answering.

"No comment. I'll say this though. Law enforcement officers are working tirelessly day and night to keep the people in this city safe. However, if need be, I'll personally go out on the streets and kick some ass myself. As you probably already know, it wouldn't be the first time. Thank you."

The cameras followed the mayor as he turned and stalked away from the podium with a female aide before the news feed switched to a city map. A number of areas in Uptown and the Bay Area were marked red to denote no-go zones where the worst disturbances were occurring. Kara's brows furrowed at the screen as she examined the map.

"Terrific, most of those areas are right where I need to go through," she grumbled, shaking her head. "That'll add a ton of time to my drive home. Everyone's gonna try to get out of the city now with the curfew several hours off."

Mary nodded sympathetically. She knew Kara had a long commute home in the best of circumstances.

"Can't be helped. It'll certainly be a busy one tonight though. This looks bad."

Kara's face was flushed with embarrassment as she looked down. The rioting guaranteed a lot of inbound patients for the night shift. Riots produced casualties, ensuring that Uptown East ER would be a busy place later.

"Oh my god, I'm sorry. I wasn't thinking. Are you all going to be alright tonight?"

The older nurse bobbed her head and shrugged.

"We'll manage. Won't be the first time. You should get going, though. The sooner you get out of here, the sooner you get home. I want you to call me when you get in, ok?"

"Will do and take care of yourself tonight!"

Kara gave her co-worker a quick hug. She knew her friend had more patients to check on and she didn't want to keep her from those tasks. She turned back at the door to wish Mary luck and waved before disappearing down the hallway.

Bay Area, Metro City

Juri wove her motorbike around several potholes as she travelled westwards through a number of quiet back streets. It was a standard two-wheel variety compared to her old trike. Unfortunately, that one was destroyed by Vega a couple of years back during the battle at the Shadaloo base. The Spanish ninja's tekko kagi blades had sliced off the top half of the trike as she tried to ram him. Juri was still pissed at Vega for doing that. She loved that trike, but it didn't have the maneuverability of her current model.

Juri ran into a couple of police checkpoints as she made her way towards the Uptown area. It was at the first checkpoint that Juri found out about the curfew. Her jaw clenched at the delays as she had to recalculate her shortened timetable. Her hands gripped the bike handles tighter. Apparently, every damn gang in the city decided to pick this particular night to create mayhem. Juri was no stranger to chaos, but the information she received was a bit time sensitive. These obstructions were interfering with her own plans!

Luckily the cops at the roadblocks failed to recognize Juri. It was likely that they were simply swamped with routing traffic around the disturbances to even bother giving her more than a cursory glance.

Her appearance had changed slightly over the last couple of years, particularly her hair style. The trademark horn-like bangs on either side of her head were replaced with a simpler straight down look that ran down to her upper back. Juri also recently opted for a tuft of pink in her front bangs to break up the rest of her jet-black hair.

'These losers picked the wrong time to pull this shit!' Juri thought darkly as she rode onward. 'If I have time, I might even make an example of some of these idiots on the way.'

Another detour placed Juri back on the main route west. The traffic, though not bumper to bumper, was fairly heavy and had no signs of lightening as she continued. At this rate, her destination in the western Uptown area might as well be on the moon. The only way to gain time was to take a longer but lesser used road network through the industrial district.

An increasingly frustrated Juri finally took matters into her own hands. Observing a break in the traffic in the opposite lane, she accelerated and cut across two lanes to make a hard left-hand turn onto a side road. Juri then juked a couple more cars moving up in the opposite lane. A number of vehicles swerved and slammed on their brakes. It was a small miracle that no accidents occurred, though traffic stopped momentarily. Juri could hear the irate shouts and horns of motorists as she turned hard, feeling the adrenaline rush.

She whooped and flipped the bird in response as she sped away down the side road which took her south into the industrial area. Juri was still laughing as she rode through the evening dim, her irritation momentarily lifted. She hoped that some troublemakers crossed her path on the way. A good beat down would really cheer her up.

East Industrial Parkway, Industrial District, Metro City

Kara glared in disgust at the sharp, rectangular piece of metal embedded in her right rear tire. She had known as soon as it occurred due to the steady clomping sound on the pavement as the air fizzled out of the rotating tire. Although Kara preferred to keep driving, the possibility of a blowout loomed heavily on her mind. The idea of careening out of control held little appeal, so she reluctantly pulled the car over to the shoulder to replace the tire.

The various detours forced Kara from her normal direct route home to the lesser traveled northern edges of the Metro City Industrial Zone. However, the prevalent gang rioting coupled with Mayor Traver's curfew announcement ensured a mass exodus of commuters all trying to leave at the same time. Kara finally decided to deviate from the main route, which pushed her further south. The idea was to avoid the worst of the congestion and eventually get back onto one of the main roads.

Instead, Kara got a flat tire on a quiet stretch of roadway where little assistance could be expected if unwanted company showed up. She reluctantly switched on the hazard lights. The last thing Kara needed was to have a car plowing into her in the gathering darkness.

On her side of the road lay a large fenced off abandoned factory complex, the multiple empty buildings stretching back from the thoroughfare. Several smaller garage-like structures were lined up along the other side, which was also fenced off. It was eerily quiet.

The EMP charge set off by the Black Moon satellite over New York City a couple of years ago had knocked out power throughout the surrounding area, including nearby Metro City. Due to the extensive electrical damage and the sporadic gang violence which spilled over in the aftermath, most of the manufacturers had left for greener pastures.

Kara recalled Mayor Travers' plans for economic incentives to encourage a return. However, the city council largely blocked his proposals, insisting on a number of tax conditions before any industry moved back in. Unsurprisingly, the deals fell through, leading to even more bitterness and recriminations between City Hall and the Council. Certain undesirables took advantage of the vacancies, establishing unwanted residences among many of the now empty factory buildings.

Kara fumed as her fists clenched at her sides.

"Goddammit! Of all the times and no cops around either. Just freaking great!"

Further complaining wouldn't get the tire fixed any sooner, so she stepped to the back of the car and popped the trunk. Kara grabbed the car jack and a cross-shaped lug wrench. She took a quick scan around to see if anyone had noticed her situation. An occasional car zoomed by, but otherwise, it was quiet. No one stopped to help, leaving Kara disappointed but not surprised. If the circumstances were reversed, she probably wouldn't stop either. Satisfied that she was in no immediate danger, Kara worked feverishly in the dusk, not wishing to linger more than necessary.

Kara managed to remove the flat and was wrestling the spare on when she heard voices from down the road which grew louder. Kara's worst fears were realized as her endeavors had attracted unwelcome attention. She could see five large men approaching the rear of her car. They were laughing and started jogging towards the vehicle. Kara muttered a curse since a quick getaway wasn't even an option. About fifteen minutes more and she would have been on her way! As they got closer, she recognized some of the symbols on their vests. Gang members were constantly laid up in the hospital for numerous wounds.

Kara stood up to face them, chewing her lip. She set the spare tire down and gripped the lug wrench in her left hand. It could serve as a makeshift weapon, but the cross-shaped wrench was awkward to handle. The can of pepper spray in her handbag was out of reach on the passenger seat in the car. There was no way she could reach it in time. Besides, Kara was under no illusion that either one was an ideal defense against so many potential attackers.

"Whada we have here?" the leader announced, leering at the young woman. "Need some help, sweetie?"

Kara's hands began to sweat, so she gripped the lug wrench tighter. She observed a long scar running down the left cheek of the speaker. He also stood at least a head taller than her. She flashed an unsteady smile as her stomach started to knot up.

"Nope, I've got everything under control. Thanks anyway though!"

Three of the men started to edge to her right, trying to block her escape. She backed up to match their movements. The leader, 'Scar', snickered and shook his head. He stepped closer to her and spoke again, crossing his arms.

"Someone like yourself shouldn't be out here all alone. A lot of unpleasant things could happen to you in a place like this. Really awful stuff. A…ah, donation would go a long way towards helping your, how should I put it...circumstances."

Kara shook her head and swallowed. Her eyes darted between the pair in front of her and the others flanking her.

"Well, I don't have any money, so, um, sorry. I'll, uh, be careful though," she stammered and continued to back away, nearing the front of her vehicle to avoid being pinned against it.

Several of the gang members chuckled while Scar grinned, jerking his left thumb towards the car. He spied the handbag sitting on the passenger seat and reached for the door handle.

"Well, I'm sure there's something in here that would be valuable."

His colleague standing next to him chuckled and reached for the nurse. Kara panicked and awkwardly but forcefully swung the tire iron with both hands but missed her assailant. Instead, Kara connected with Scar's right forearm. He yelped, took several steps back, clutching the spot where she hit him.

Her eyes widened in shock at her action. Instinctively, Kara brought both hands quickly to her mouth and gasped. The tire iron dropped to the ground, clanging loudly on the pavement. She pivoted and fled.

The rest of the gang stood rooted for several seconds. They hadn't expected her to put up any resistance, much less provoke a fight. Scar rolled his fist a few times to shake off the pain and looked around to see where Kara went. He observed her sprinting down the darkened road, occasionally illuminated by a few lot lights in the nearby empty factory. Scar let out an angry roar.

"You fucking bitch, you're dead now!"

He snatched the lug wrench off the ground and chased after her. The rest recovered from their momentary daze and followed suit. Scar was shouting instructions to his fellows as they started to pursue her.

"If any of you manage to catch up to her, just hold up and wait for the rest of us and do nothin' else! She's mine!"

Adrenaline coursed through Kara's veins as she pumped her legs. The muscle memory from her time in high school track helped her to gain speed quickly. Unfortunately for Kara, she had no plan other than to take flight. Beads of sweat began to trickle down her flushed face. Her legs continued to chew up the pavement for several more minutes.

Unfortunately, the pursuers were catching up to her due to their longer running strides. In fact, Kara could hear pounding footsteps just behind over her heavy breathing. She dared not look back for fear of slowing down and vainly forced a burst of speed from her aching legs.

Suddenly, a hand struck her left shoulder and Kara went sprawling onto the pavement. She cried out in pain as her hands skidded along the asphalt. Kara tried to bounce back up but didn't have her balance when another pair of hands shoved her sideways off the road. The momentum caused her to crash into the fence face first, rebounding violently before sprawling on the ground once more.

Kara lay heaving on the ground, slightly dazed, as more hands roughly hauled her up and slammed her against the chain link fence. It shuddered from the impact, though the slight give cushioned her from a worse jolt. The gang then backed off a couple of steps. Everyone was panting and puffing from the long run. A factory parking lot light nearby lent enough illumination for Kara to see her injuries.

She grimaced in pain. Her hands were bloodied from being skinned on the blacktop. She could feel grit mixed in a couple of the cuts, but that was the least of her problems at the moment. Kara wasn't sure if her head was bleeding from the fence collision, but it was throbbing. She placed the back of her hand to her aching nose to check for blood but couldn't see anything.

Kara sank back down into a sitting position; her arms wrapped around her knees. She was unable to hold back choking sobs and was shaking violently. She didn't make eye contact with the gang members as they caught their breath. The group collected itself and stood in a rough semicircle around her, with Scar in the center, clutching her tire iron. The roar of a motorcycle could be heard in the distance.

East Industrial Parkway, Industrial Area

Juri headed west along the mostly deserted parkway, her hair blowing freely in the night air. She made good time given the scarcity of traffic but still needed to hook up with one of the major routes to Uptown eventually. The initial elation from earlier had dissipated some time ago and Juri's glower returned. She was still very much in the mood to kick some ass. She let out a low growl.

"Dammit, this freaking sucks. At the very least this shithole could provide me with some entertainment before the main event!"

Juri then noticed an abandoned car on the side of the road with hazard lights blinking. She slowed down and pulled up in front of the vehicle to investigate, curiosity getting the better of her. It clearly hadn't been there very long. She checked the motorbike's clock. There was time and she still wanted to see some action. This might lead to some of the fun she was craving.

'Hmmm...interesting,' she thought, looking over the scene. 'Someone had a flat tire, started to fix it but stopped. Where did the driver go?'

Juri started to get off the bike when she heard noises down the road. Her head turned in that direction and spotted a group of people near the fence line about a half mile away. Normal eyesight would never have picked it up in the darkness, but the Feng Shui engine in Juri's left eye did. The bionic device, a gift from Seth during her employment at S.I.N., enabled her to 'see' out of her left eye as well as increase her strength, speed and reaction time above her already natural high levels.

The artificial eye zoomed in and Juri felt a twinge of excitement. The gathering must have had something to do with the driver of the vehicle. The gang blocked the view of the victim. Juri couldn't care less about the driver, whoever it was. The stupid shit probably had it coming. But this group was a potential challenge for Juri and she was never one to pass up a good fight.

Besides, she still wanted to crack some skulls. This would probably be the only chance she would get at some satisfaction. A wide grin formed on her lips as she anticipated the coming fight. She glanced back at the car before starting up her bike. The engine roared to life as she purred and cracked her knuckles.

"Alright, whoever you are, this is your lucky day. I could definitely unwind after all the shit I've been through lately, and I'm itching for some action."