Thunderfoot Village, shortly after the meeting
Following the conference and a dinner prepared for T. Hawk's visitors, Juri and Kara were given guest quarters on the edge of the village. It was a structure with several rooms, including a bedroom, bathroom and a small kitchen that doubled as a dining area.
'What's going on between Juri and Cammy?' Kara wondered as they were led by Noembelu to their temporary had attempted to goad Noembelu into a confrontation along the way, but the latter refused to be baited. 'Juri's definitely got an attitude, but this goes way above what I've seen from her. I've never seen her that aggressive before. Makes me wonder what else I've missed.'
Kara had kept silent as the three made their way to the residence. Juri's belligerence at the meeting had surprised Kara, but she wasn't sure what to say. Nudging her repeatedly had produced no results whatsoever. She assumed that Juri had her reasons for the argumentative behavior, however warped they were, but didn't really want to say anything in front of Noembelu. So, was it Juri being her typical self, or was there something else going on? Perhaps she'd find out later.
'I know that Juri's got a bit of an attitude-oh, who am I kidding, she's a total bitch. But she was so antagonistic towards Cammy. There's definitely some history between those two.'
When they reached the house, Kara made it a point to thank Noembelu, who awarded her with a courteous nod in response.
Juri rolled her eyes as she opened the door. She couldn't understand why Kara had to be so polite to everyone. Who cares what Noembelu thought or felt? As far as Juri was concerned, the Thunderfoot fighter wasn't worth her time. Why thank someone for doing their job? It had been Noembelu's task to show them the house!
'She did that. Hooray, good job, princess...you did your job! Now fuck off already.'
Shaking her head, she took a quick walk through the quarters while Kara sat down on the edge of the bed nearest the door.
'It's a nice place,' Kara thought as she looked around the bedroom, not really knowing what to do next. It was still too early to go to sleep. 'Even separate beds!'
The general sentiment was echoed by Juri as she studied the kitchen. She leaned back against a counter and crossed her arms.
'Not the worst place I've seen by far. I'll admit that had his shit together when he rebuilt the tribe.'
The guest quarters layout was far from the only thing on Juri's mind. It wasn't even her primary thought. There was still the matter with her new student. Kara had been a bit frisky a couple of times back in Hermosillo, and she got uncharacteristically aggressive at the meeting with several hard nudges at Juri.
'And she didn't exactly tell me to back off when I teased her in the apartment.'
Juri pondered whether she should have made an actual pass at Kara a couple of weeks ago. Regretfully, she had been too injured to do much about it. Still, it had been a while since she'd had a 'playful' romp with someone. However...
'Yeah, it would've been kinda hard to mess around like that when I had cracked ribs. But that's not a problem now...'
Juri nodded slowly as she pushed off with her butt from the counter. Fortune favors the bold, right? Besides, it would be a hell of a sendoff before she left to scout out that base.
"Huh, the place isn't bad," Juri noted as she left the kitchen. She eyed Kara with a small grin. "Can't complain. Cozy, too."
'Yeah, I think it's high time we had that 'talk', sweetie. I don't know what game you're playing, but I'm gonna find out one way or another,' Juri vowed silently as she sauntered towards Kara's bed.
The nurse cocked her head at Juri, noting the strange look on the latter's face. She hadn't seen that expression before. What was this about? She supposed that she'd find out soon enough.
In a fluid motion, Juri sat down on the mattress next to Kara and studied her for several moments.
Kara raised an eyebrow as her forehead scrunched. She was even more perplexed than before. What was going on?
'Hmmm...should I start asking questions, or do I just go direct with her?' Juri pondered. Why bother with boring questions when the alternative was way more fun? Nothing ventured, nothing gained. 'Screw it, direct it is...'
Without warning, Juri reached out, gently grabbing Kara's chin with a finger and her thumb, turning it towards her. For the first time, Juri noted that Kara's aquamarine eyes are indeed striking. They were probably her best feature, and the nurse wasn't exactly a slouch as far as looks went.
"You're pretty cute, you know that?"
Before Kara could answer, Juri leaned in and kissed her fully on the mouth. Kara's lips were so soft...
Kara tensed, her eyes bulging as she felt Juri's tongue pushing past her lips. She felt the heat rise in her cheeks. The shock of the kiss paralyzed her for several moments before she reacted.
Juri felt hands on her shoulders pushing her away. Her eyes in turn widened in surprise as their lips unexpectedly separated. Had she completely misread Kara? The nurse's face registered confusion as she stood up and took a deep breath.
"Juri, what the...what are you doing?!"
Juri's brows furrowed as she looked away for a moment. Then a surge of anger flared in her eyes as she jumped to her feet as well, staring down Kara. Was the nurse playing some stupid hard to get game? Juri was definitely not in the mood for that.
"Wow, you really are a damn tease. What the hell did it look like I was doing?!"
Kara's face reddened further as her arms opened up in exasperation. A tease? What had brought this on?
"You just plopped down on my bed and started kissing me! You're not making any sense! What the hell is going on?!"
Juri leaned forward and put her hands on her hips. Desire had been replaced with irritation at the sudden rejection.
"Didn't understand? Okay, I'll repeat it slowly this time. You. Are. A. Damn. Tease. Should I spell it out letter by letter for you next time? Oh, and I didn't just kiss you out of the blue. I said you were cute first!"
Kara shook her head, still not comprehending, and more confused than ever.
"Juri, I have no idea what you're talking about. What the hell brought this on? Have you completely lost your mind?!"
Juri's eyes bored into Kara as she crossed her arms. Her face reddened as rage threatened to spill over. What she had considered an amusing little fling was turning into total awkwardness. Could Kara really be that obtuse? Or was there something else? Juri's mind swirled as her imagination suddenly pushed into overdrive. Why was Kara rejecting her, after all those signals were given?
'Is it because of how I act? Does Kara think she's better than me? She's always complaining about how I do things. I swear, if this bitch is messing with me...'
"What, so I'm not good enough for you? Is that it?!"
Juri's responses continued to leave Kara absolutely bewildered. What was Juri talking about? Kara stamped her foot on the floor in frustration as she desperately searched for an answer.
"Goddammit Juri, start making some sense!"
Juri's face turned a deeper crimson as she struggled to comprehend the reaction. Did Kara really not know?
"Ok, here's a clue! Why the hell did you suddenly hold my hand in the church yesterday? Not to mention you practically wrestled me in the doorway going into said church. Were you trying to cop a feel? Or how about the couple of nudges into my chest at the meeting a little while ago? You weren't touchy-feely before and you didn't exactly reject my teasing back at the apartment, so why the sudden change?! Or was taking care of me and acting all nice about it at the apartment just a damned act?! Or how about you explain your fucking attitude when we had to sleep in a single bed back at El Fuerte's parents' house. Like I said, you were pawing at me one moment and then you're bitching about me sleeping in the nude the next."
The accusations took a moment for Kara to digest. When it did, her face drained of color. The rising irritation melted away to embarrassment. Juri had mistook Kara's actions over the last couple of days for something else entirely! She clapped a hand to her mouth as she sat back down on the bed. She looked away in consternation while removing her hand from her mouth. Oh no...
"Oh shit. Oh...uh...um...that. Oh hell...that was...I should...I should explain."
"You think?!" Juri snarled, her hands balling up at her sides. Talk about a hell of an understatement!
Kara looked up to see Juri glowering at her. The latter raised her eyebrows and leaned back a little, her arms folding against her chest. Kara assumed that it was an indication to continue and took a deep breath. The whirlwind of activity the nurse had gone through over the past few days gave little time to examine certain unintended consequences.
'Shit, I never even considered how Juri would take my actions back at the church. So much was going on...oh my god, what a disaster this is!' Kara thought as she rubbed her forehead. Was it possible to patch up the misunderstanding?
"Oh Juri, I'm so sorry. I knew you were going to bolt when we were about to enter the church, so I was trying to make sure you couldn't run off. I had to practically grab you like that because you're a lot stronger than me. And then you looked really bored and agitated during mass. The others didn't see it, but I could, so I tried the only thing I could think of. I grabbed your hand and held it to reassure you and...I was worried that you'd do..."
The frown deepened on Juri's face, and her eyes narrowed into slits as she leaned forward towards Kara menacingly.
"I'd do what?"
Kara's hands fidgeted as she looked down. Then she shot off from the bed. Juri had to pull back a step to avoid being hit in the chin by Kara's head.
"Well, I know what happens firsthand when you get bored or annoyed with something, and it usually involves your fists and feet!" Kara blurted out as she started to pace. "The last thing I wanted was to see people going to the hospital or worse. You're so damn unpredictable! I mean, look at the unnecessary shit you were starting earlier at the meeting!"
Juri snorted loudly and let out a harsh chuckle. She couldn't believe what she was hearing!
'Unnecessary? I knew exactly what I was doing, sweetie! And no...I didn't really want to go to church, but practically wrestling me down to keep me from leaving?'
"You really thought I'd just start randomly beating the hell out of those people in that church because I was bored? I didn't give a shit about those dumbasses! They were nothing, and besides, how else would I interpret you holding my hand like that?!"
Kara stopped pacing and started to chew her lip as she carefully noted the furious expression on Juri's face. Although the street fighter was clearly pissed off, at least her eye wasn't glowing. That would have indicated major trouble.
'On the bright side, Juri doesn't look like she's going to kick me through the wall. Small victories...'
"Like I said, I didn't really think it through. I kinda panicked and that seemed like the best idea at the time. As for the apartment...Juri...you were in terrible shape after that hotel fight! The last thing I wanted to do was pile on more stress than you were already experiencing. Besides, do you think you're the only one who's flirted with me while I was a nurse? Hell, the stories I could tell you while working at Metro East. The flirting got to be old hat after a while. Luckily, I never experienced worse...anyway, my point is that I never believed that taking care of you was a chore. If I didn't want to do it, I would have just dropped you off at a hospital that night regardless of what you wanted. Again, I'm sorry that I misled you, but it wasn't intentional. As for the kiss, I'm...I'm into men, that's all."
Juri rolled her eyes, shook her head and threw up her hands. The situation had turned completely surreal.
'Wow, talk about your all-time backfires...'
The shock prompted her to blurt out the next response as the tension in her body slowly started to uncoil.
"Well, so am I, but who's counting?"
Before Kara could answer, Juri turned with a frustrated huff and stomped over to her bed, throwing herself down on the mattress with her side facing away. What had seemed like a sure thing minutes before now devolved into a confusing emotional mess. She still couldn't believe that she had been so mistaken about Kara. Her head started to ache as a new feeling welled up; she felt stupid.
Kara gazed out towards the wall as she put her hands on top of her head. About a minute later, she sighed and followed over to the side of the bed. No real harm had been done and she didn't want to see Juri like this. She chuckled inwardly at the street fighter's audacity though. In a strange way, the kiss actually felt more like a compliment. So, Juri had found her attractive, even with all the insults she had flung at her.
She squatted, keeping her face level with Juri's. She looked down for a moment before raising her head again, a small smile forming on her face. She had to mend this fence. Her eyes searched Juri's face.
"Look...I'm not mad, Juri. I was just...shocked. I'm...I'm actually flattered that you did that, really. I mean, you're very beautiful...even if your attitude kinda sucks. I just want to be friends, though."
Juri groaned and headbutted her pillow before glancing back at Kara. First rejection and then the reasonable angle. How the hell did Kara manage to pull that off so smoothly?
"Wow, terrific. My hak-seang just friend-zoned me. Great week so far..."
Kara gave her a questioning look.
"It means 'student'."
Kara looked down briefly in an attempt to stifle a broadening smile. She wiped off most of it before looking at Juri again. Still, she found it hard to believe that Juri hadn't found someone. She hadn't been lying about Juri's physical attractiveness.
'If I had been into women...' Kara thought with a mental shrug.
"Oh, come on, there has to be someone who's interested in you, isn't there? With your looks?"
Juri looked away, suddenly feeling an odd shyness about answering that question. She had been in numerous flings for the past decade or so, but nothing even remotely serious. As she once told the East African fighter, Elena, in Seth's World Warrior Tournament five years ago: she didn't want friends, only playthings. That still held true for the most part; she didn't really have a desire for any long-term commitment. It always came down to a matter of trust and...honestly, the prospect of a relationship scared the hell out of her. Not to mention it was totally absurd.
'Ha, imagine me with an office job, partner, house and a couple of kids...what a joke that would be...and it...would hit too close to home after what happened to me.'
Trust. That continued to be an operative word regarding Kara. She thought back to what she had said to Elena. If Kara clearly wasn't a plaything, then what was she? A friend? There had been so few of those even before the kidnapping. Taekwondo and schoolwork had taken up much of her time. Being on top of the taekwondo world had taken some sacrificing, one of which had been a social life. After the kidnapping, well...
'It would have been a whole lot simpler if she had just kissed me back. What does friendship even mean, anyway?'
Kara frowned through the awkward silence, resisting the temptation to reach her hand out and comfort the woman that she now considered a friend. In normal circumstances, she would have never even considered being brought into Juri's orbit. What a difference a tumultuous few weeks made.
'Probably not the best idea right now,' Kara thought as she kept her hand rested on her leg. 'No telling what kind of reaction I'd get. But I don't want to see Juri like this.'
"Juri...what's bothering you? You've been acting differently ever since we left Mexico City. I don't think it has to do with the eye. There's something else. What's going on?"
The faraway look on Juri's face turned into a hard glare. Again, more pestering by Kara about her past. Dammit, couldn't this woman just leave her be? She sure as hell didn't need or want Kara's sympathy! Was it possible that she'd made a big mistake by allowing Kara to tag along? Back at the apartment, it seemed like a good idea. Perhaps it was time to correct that error, but she still felt strangely indecisive about it.
"It's none of your damn business! You know...maybe you should just go home. Go back to your nursing or whatever."
Kara's eyes widened in shock as she visibly recoiled from the verbal lashing. It was the last thing that she expected to come out of Juri's mouth. Is that how Juri really felt, or was it just more lashing out?
"Jesus, you can be a total enigma sometimes. I just said that I wasn't mad about what happened, and I apologize for making you think I was interested. Hell, I'm admitting that I was wrong! It wasn't your fault! And besides, even if I wanted to leave, which I don't...I couldn't anyway. Not after what happened in Mexico City. If I go home now, how long do you think it'll take for G to track me down? He didn't leave me alive because he wanted to, I'm pretty sure of that. It was too public back at the plaza. If no one had been around..."
Kara shuddered. She didn't really want to think of what G would've done when he realized he couldn't control her.
"Look, you're not getting rid of me that easily," she continued. "And I would hope that you don't really want to."
Juri didn't know how to respond to that, so she just rolled her eyes. So, Kara was insistent on staying. Juri wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry. She was suddenly very tired as her anger dissolved. If Kara wasn't going to be a lover, then what was she?
'Fine, you can do what you want,' Juri thought dejectedly. 'Stay, go, I don't care anymore.'
Kara had a point, however. They were both on the run now, albeit for different reasons. The silence continued. Neither woman knew what else to say.
After a few more moments, Kara let out a frustrated sigh and stood up. Trying to figure Juri out was like peeling an onion within an onion. The house now felt very constricted. She needed time to think. Events were happening too fast for her to mentally digest everything at once.
"Look, I'm going outside for a bit to get some fresh air. You gonna be okay by yourself?"
Juri closed her eyes, a bare nod being the only response.
Kara shrugged her shoulders, trudged across the bedroom and left the dwelling. She had the feeling that Juri needed some time to herself. They both did.
As she stepped outside, the cool evening breeze brushed her face. It felt refreshing after the heated conversation. It was dusk, although there was still enough light for a short walk.
'I won't go far. Just long enough for me to think some things over. I don't know my way around well enough to wander aimlessly around in the dark.'
She considered the kiss that Juri had given her. It had truly shocked Kara that Juri had felt that way. Was it genuine, or was it something akin to a hook up? She wasn't sure.
'It was my fault though. I gave the wrong signals. I knew that Juri was into women from comments she made back at the apartment. Not to mention the way she was talking to Cam-wait a second, does she like Cammy?'
She shrugged. It was none of her business.
Except that she had made it her business to ask about Juri's past. Something terrible had happened to her friend, that much was clear, and it certainly had to do with Shadaloo. Juri was obsessed with them. But what could have occurred to make Juri be the way she was? Kara continued ponder this while strolling along...
She suddenly looked around and gave out a startled gasp. There was no longer a path, but rather the edge of an empty field. The long grass swayed in the breeze around her. With a start, Kara realized that she had walked down the entire length of the lane and then some. All the way across the village! While it was good sized, it wasn't a huge community. However, the sprawl made it seem larger than it appeared. Fortunately, there was still some light to see, and she had simply walked in more or less of a straight line.
While retracing her steps, Kara now observed villagers inside their homes through open doorways, performing various nightly tasks. The aroma of grilled tortillas and meat as well as roasted vegetables made her mouth water as some families were just beginning to eat dinner. Kara couldn't believe that she had been so oblivious on the walk out.
'Wow, I must really have been out of it not to notice all of this before. I hope they aren't eating late because they were busy feeding us!'
Kara didn't peer too closely into the doorways as she passed them. The odd time she caught the eye of a villager, she just gave a quick smile and wave. It was usually reciprocated.
Several minutes later, Kara discerned a distinct voice as she passed a house with its door shut. She cocked her head to focus. It sounded like that Cammy woman. Who else had an English accent here? Kara paused in front of the house, being tempted to knock and introduce herself. She had a feeling they'd run into each other quite a bit over the next few days.
She walked over to the door and hesitated. Twice, she raised her fist to knock on the door, but stopped just short.
'What am I thinking? This is stupid, I don't even know what I want to say. I should just get back to my own place.'
She finally turned to leave.
As Kara did so, the door opened. The sound made her jump as she spun back around. Cammy stepped just outside the doorway and spotted Kara several yards away. The former's face betrayed a hint of surprise.
"I thought I heard something out here. Hello, what are you doing?"
Kara's face suddenly felt hot, knowing even in the darkness that it was turning red. Hopefully, it was dark enough that the blush could be hidden. Had Cammy heard her milling about in front of her door?
"Oh, hi! I, uh...was just taking a stroll. I had a lot on my mind. Unfortunately, I was so deep in la-la land that I almost wound-up walking into a field down the road there, so I was headed back."
Cammy's face remained impassive, but her ice blue eyes studied Kara carefully.
"I see. Worried about the upcoming mission?"
Kara nodded slowly, knowing full well it was a lie. The mission hadn't been on her mind at all. If that's what Cammy assumed though...
"Yeah, among other things. My apologies for earlier, but everything has been happening so fast that I didn't get a chance to talk to you."
Cammy did her best to hide her shock. Kara had actually wanted to talk to her.
'Hmmm...gaining information on this woman might be much easier than I thought. It's an opportunity that I can't pass up.'
The features on Cammy's face softened just a fraction as she gestured towards the doorway.
"I was just about to have some tea with my sister. Would you like to join us?"
Kara nodded quickly, appreciating the unexpected icebreaker.
'Wow, this is great! Maybe Cammy can tell me a few things about Juri!'
"Yeah, sure. I'd like that."
She followed Cammy into the house, passing the bedroom towards a small table just outside of the kitchen. It was the exact same layout as her own quarters.
Another woman was seated at the table, busy sharpening a dagger which protruded from some sort of red hand gauntlet. The armor piece sat on the table in front of her. However, that wasn't why Kara had a sharp intake of breath. When the other woman looked up, Kara noted with some shock that the soldier bore a striking resemblance to Cammy. While Kara had seen this woman at the meeting, her attention had been so focused on trying to deal with Juri's behavior that she hadn't made the connection.
'Is she a twin sister or something?' Kara thought, noticing the facial scarring that surrounded the woman's left eye and much of that side of her face. She glanced down again at the large knife and gauntlet on the table, immediately recalling a line from an old movie she had seen with her dad years ago.
'That's not a knife, this is a knife,' she mused in her head, trying and failing dismally to put a decent Australian accent on it.
Cammy, who had gone to the stove to get the tea ready, glanced over at Kara. She was about to say something when the other woman spoke first.
"Problem?" the pale blonde asked somewhat coldly in a thick Russian accent.
Kara was confused. How did this woman have a Russian accent while Cammy's was English? There had to be a story behind that, but how to phrase that question? Kara broke out of her thoughts and her face reddened again. It was obvious that she had been staring at the other woman and the knife for more than a couple of moments.
"Oh, sorry, I was looking at that dagger thingy and thought of...uh, yeah, never mind," Kara replied in a faltering voice. "So...uh...are you two twins? I didn't notice it before."
The two soldiers glanced at each other before looking back at Kara.
"Yes, you could say that," the British soldier replied curtly before waving her hand towards a seat on the other side of the table from the woman. "Oh, please, have a seat. It won't take long for the tea to boil and steep. This is Decapre, a fellow squad mate in my unit. Decapre, this is Kara, who, as you know, seems to have partnered up with Juri."
Kara quickly picked up on the end of the comment. Cammy either was surprised or didn't approve of Kara's choice of companion. Perhaps it was both. She realized that Cammy wasn't going to say anything else, so she flashed a quick smile and a wave to Decapre.
Decapre returned the gesture with a quick nod but remained expressionless. Instead, she picked up her gauntlet and left the room. She returned less than a minute later with a box of tea biscuits and set it down on the table before sitting again. The hard expression softened just a fraction, but Decapre remained silent.
The coldness displayed by Decapre unnerved Kara slightly. Of course, Juri's earlier antics didn't exactly help thaw relations. Even though she had nothing to do with them (and if anything, she had tried to rein Juri in!), Kara was sure that her current companion created a sort of 'guilt by association' among the others in the village.
More fences to mend. Still...
'Huh, this Decapre chick doesn't have much in the way of social skills. I hope this doesn't get too awkward.'
"I...uh...want to apologize for Juri acting the way she did back at the meeting," Kara offered. "I know she can be a bit of a bitch at times."
Cammy saw the opening and took advantage. Now was her chance to gain some information.
"Yes, about that," she replied. "How exactly did you manage to get mixed up with her? I've known Juri for a while, and she's more of a lone wolf."
The nurse snorted. She would have been surprised if Cammy didn't ask that question. Kara found that she didn't mind answering, since she hadn't really talked to anyone about the last couple of weeks. Not even Mary, her best friend from work and the one who helped Kara get set up for Mexico, knew much about those details.
"Well, it may be hard to believe, but she saved my life," Kara began and launched into what had happened in Metro City a couple of weeks before. Cammy's eyes widened when Kara got to the part of the Grand Metro Hotel.
"Hold on," Cammy raised a hand as she was busy steeping the tea at the counter. She grabbed a chair and sat down. "Both Vega and Balrog were in Metro City a few weeks ago?! Damn!"
"They're gone by now," Decapre added, reading her sister's thoughts. "The trail will be cold."
Kara watched both of them as she chewed on the right side of her lip. She was now aware of Shadaloo through Juri, but it continued to startle her when others remarked about it. It made her feel like she was now part of a select club.
"No doubt," Cammy replied, nodding slowly. "Too bad. It could have been the break we were looking for. Kara, do you know what those two were doing in Metro City?"
With a nod, Kara responded by describing the riots that had broken out in the city, though she still didn't know what exactly happened inside the hotel. Juri still hadn't filled her in. She had only seen the tail end of the fight. She claimed that Juri was attempting to spoil their plans, whatever they were. She left out the part about the eye that Juri had stolen, but the assertion was more or less true. Kara felt certain that letting Cammy in on the new Feng Shui device would be a betrayal of trust for her new friend.
'I've just managed to mend fences with her...the last thing I want to do is give a reason to alienate her further.'
Cammy seemed to accept the answer, which relieved Kara greatly.
"Yes, where Shadaloo's involved, Juri will usually be at the center of it, that's for sure," Cammy responded. "However, we assumed that they were more or less broken at this point."
"Juri doesn't seem to think so," Kara countered, shaking her head. "From what little she has told me, anyway."
Cammy got up to serve the tea. Decapre opened the tea biscuit box and took a wafer, munching on it thoughtfully. Cammy took one as well and dipped it into her tea. As she did so, she glanced over at Kara. How much did Kara really know about her new partner?
"What has Juri told you about herself, Kara?" Cammy inquired. Kara looked away, trying to avoid both Cammy's and Decapre's gaze. When she had stepped into the house, the hope was to find out more about Juri. Now that Cammy was ready to divulge at least some of that information, a feeling of doubt crept over Kara. Did she really want to know? She sighed heavily.
"A few things about current events, but she's been very tight lipped about her past," Kara slowly admitted. "Look, I'm a nurse. I helped her out because she was in trouble, but she also saved my life. Plus, Menat told me to look after her-"
"Menat?" Cammy interrupted with a snort. How was that oddball seer involved in all of this? "I don't take much stock in fortune tellers. But Juri referred to you as her student."
Yeah, she's training me in martial arts," Kara answered with an affirmative nod. "Figures that I might be of some help to her after all."
She then continued with her explanation about the events in Metro City, minus Maya and the Q incident.
'I'm not ready to open up that can of worms yet,' Kara thought ruefully.
Cammy and Decapre glanced at each other again when Kara finished. They both had a good chuckle at Kara's mention of pepper-spraying Vega. His pompous vanity was well known to the pair.
'Now that's something I would have loved to see happen,' Cammy mused before her expression turned serious as she considered the next course of action.
"Kara, I know it's not my place to judge, but I really think that your hanging around with Juri is a very bad idea," she advised. "You should go home as soon as possible. Leave the fighting of Shadaloo to the professionals."
Kara's expression hardened for the briefest of moments, resentful of Cammy's dismissive advice.
"I can't," she snapped before looking down. Cammy's eyes widened in surprise at the vehemence of the response. When she returned Cammy's stare, she had regained her composure. "Sorry. Look, I know that you're trying to warn and protect me, and I appreciate it. I can't get into details, but that's not an option for me at this point. It has nothing to do with Juri and she isn't forcibly coercing me to remain with her. It's not like that."
Cammy let out a deep breath. She had been taken aback by Kara's loyalty to Juri. But did she know the entire story?
"I've known Juri for a few years now," Cammy stated. "You need to be careful with her. She's a wanted criminal in several countries. If you stay with her, sooner or later you could very well be seen as her accomplice. That's something to consider."
Kara's jaw dropped. While Juri didn't exactly have the purest of intentions most of the time, Cammy's revelation still stunned her.
'Oh, Juri...what did you get yourself into?' Kara wondered as she closed her eyes. Then she realized that the markers had been there all along. Juri's sneaking around Metro City, her refusal to go to the hospital after being gravely injured, and her forged passport at Mexico City's airport.
'No...deep down, I've known that something was off about her. I just didn't want to admit it. What can I do about it?'
Cammy carefully studied Kara as the latter sat in silence, wrestling with her thoughts.
'She seems like a decent person who's just caught up with the wrong crowd,' Cammy thought. 'Warning her about Juri is the right thing to do, though. The poor woman will just eventually wind up having her life ruined hanging around that bitch.'
Kara closed her eyes and then took and breathed deeply.
"I think that I somehow knew there was a problem," Kara admitted as she opened her eyes. "May I ask what Juri did to warrant arrest?"
Cammy glanced over at Decapre momentarily. The latter gave a small shrug.
Kara noticed the exchange but didn't say anything, waiting for Cammy to elaborate.
'Well, I did ask...can't back out now,' Kara admitted as a shudder ran through her.
"About five years ago, Juri was involved in a terrorist attack at an indoor amusement park called Heaven's World," Cammy began. She continued through the details of Juri's fight with rogue S.I.N. soldiers within the complex before finishing her debriefing. "Dozens of civilians were killed in the battle, and scores more badly injured. The latter included my friend, Chun Li, who was beaten to within an inch of her life and left in a coma for several days. And all because S.I.N. wanted to test out their Feng Shui Engine with Juri. Fortunately for us, she lost that eye a little while ago and has had to settle for a weaker version."
Kara swallowed and then closed her eyes again. She had vaguely remembered the news reports of that incident but couldn't remember the specifics. So, there it was. Juri had actually killed people. Not thugs or criminals, but innocents. Had she shown any remorse?
'I don't know what to think about this,' Kara thought. 'I'd be lying if I thought that Juri wasn't capable of it, though I haven't seen much evidence of the behavior that Cammy described. But the eye that Juri stole is almost certainly stronger than the one she has now. I'm glad that I didn't say anything about that to Cammy. But there has to be something more to this. And who's S.I.N?'
Kara pressed Cammy, who went into a brief description of Seth's breakaway organization. Cammy faltered on explaining why Juri had joined S.I.N. to begin with. There had been a reason, of course. She nodded to herself while arriving at the decision.
'I've already talked about everything else. I might as well go over Juri's history.'
"I wasn't sure if I should tell you this, Kara," Cammy began. "But the story wouldn't have much context without it. Shadaloo has done terrible things to a lot of people. Juri is...one of them."
Cammy then dove into Juri's kidnapping by Shadaloo, the murder of her parents and the loss of her eye. Kara listened in stunned silence as the British operative explained the ordeal that Juri had gone through. Cammy didn't go into exact details, but what she did say was enough.
Kara's eyes began to water as she now began to understand Juri's disposition.
'Jesus, kidnapped, watching her parents get killed and losing her eye...all at 15 years old. My god, how she didn't completely fall apart from that is mind blowing. I understand her obsession with Shadaloo now. If I were in her shoes, I'd...honestly, I'm not sure how I would have turned out. Somehow, I don't think I would have fared as well as Juri.'
Would she have been the same as Juri, ready to fight Shadaloo with the same furor? According to Cammy, Juri had a very promising rise in the world of taekwondo when she was kidnapped.
'Damn, a taekwondo world champion in her mid-teens! I was what, a minor high school track runner? I doubt I would have even survived that kidnapping!'
Kara barely managed to not tear up and took a sip of her now lukewarm tea before looking at Cammy. She never imagined that Juri's early life had been that bad.
"Thank you, Cammy, for telling me this," Kara said gratefully. "It puts a lot of things in perspective for me. I know this is going to sound foolish to you, but I really feel that I need to stay with Juri. From what I can see, she's interested in only one thing; destroying Shadaloo...which I don't think is a bad thing. Who knows, maybe I can stop her from doing any more of...what she did."
"Very well," Cammy replied with an impassive look on her face. "It's your decision. I simply felt like you had a right to know more than what she's told you. As for helping her, I doubt anyone is capable of that."
Kara took another gulp from her tea and nodded, although she didn't agree with the last statement. It was getting late.
"I'm glad you told me," she said while standing up. "Look, I should probably get back. Juri will be wondering what I've been doing all this time since I told her I'd only be taking a short walk. I won't tell her we had this conversation. It's better that way. She needs to stay focused on the mission tomorrow. Thank you for the tea and...good luck on the recon."
After saying her farewells to Cammy and Decapre, Kara plodded back to her quarters. The moon was just starting to shine, and several stars twinkled above. As Kara stared up at the night sky, she had found her excuse. Yes, she'd tell Juri that she had watched the sun go down; that's why she was gone for so long.
'Who knows, maybe she'll even believe that.'
There was something else bothering her as she continued her stroll home. The name of the place where Juri fought long ago. Heaven's World, that's what Cammy said.
Kara frowned, her eyebrows furrowing as she tried to figure out why it sounded so familiar. She cocked her head as she wracked her brain for an answer. Nothing immediately came to mind.
She then paused briefly in the lane as an epiphany washed over her. Mexico City! It was the memory of what G had said right before he tried to take over her soul: 'Your friend...neither the people of the world nor the world of heaven look favorably upon her.'
The 'world of heaven' had to be Heaven's World. Somehow, he had known about Juri's incident!
'That cryptic bastard! He knew what Juri did, and he was taunting me with that comment! He probably assumed that I'd eventually figure out his puzzle. Likely thought that I'd leave Juri if and when I understood the message. Well, G, it'll take more than a stupid riddle to make me abandon her! If anything, she'll need me more than ever now.'
She finally reached her temporary home and slowly opened the door, knowing it was unlocked. It was dark within, and she let her eyes adjust for several moments after shutting it. Then she listened intently for Juri to say something. Instead, she heard light snoring coming from the far bed. Juri had fallen asleep while Kara was away. A sense of relief washed over the nurse.
'At least I don't have to use that stupid excuse now,' Kara thought as she slipped over to her bed and crawled under the covers.
Kara lay awake for some time, pondering what she had learned. When would she tell Juri that she was now aware of the horrible events that had happened to her? Would there ever be a good time to make that reveal?
The comforting softness of the mattress eventually made her very drowsy. She yawned once before turning her head briefly towards the woman she now considered a friend, strange as it seemed. At some point, she'd confront Juri with what she knew, but not now. That time could wait a bit longer. There was no rush.
'First, the recon mission and then getting the eye installed. After that, who knows?'
She closed her eyes and murmured something before sleep overtook her.
"Good night, Juri."