Yurii: There, I posted a chapter before I left for Washington.
I'm pissed. 'Why?' you may ask. Simple. For one thing, I'm TIRED of people using my work, even the ones with good intentions.
I don't fucking care how much you like my stories, people. STOP TAKING MY MATERIAL, DAMN IT!!
I'm especially tired of seeing people, even after posting threats and links to name dictionaries, using the names I was wracking my brain to come up with .
IT'S CALLED FUCKING PLAGERISM YOU ASSHOLES.
Sorry for my little outburst, but I had to get that out of the way. IF YOU WANT TO BORROW SOMETHING FROM ME, ASK ME. I want credit for the stuff I wrote.
Poll results at the bottom.
Except for the hum of the engine, it was relatively silent on the drive home from the hospital; both Nadriya and Riikka had finally been pronounced to be in good enough condition to go home…
Or at least, in Riikka's case…home.
Drayea glanced in the rear-view mirror at the passenger behind her.
Nadriya was sitting in unmitigated silence in the backseat staring blankly out the window, her normally fierce pale-jade green eyes dull and empty.
She was little more than a vacant shell of a person now.
Any bitterness towards the dragon had been replaced with empathy and a slight sense of defensiveness. Drayea knew all too well what kinds of things she must have been put through while there, let alone what else might have happened to her when she was discharged from BIOVOLT.
Drayea's grip on the steering wheel tightened.
God knows what they could have done to her to leave her so hollow and despondent.
She looked over at Riikka, who was sitting in the same silence as Nadriya, her heavily-bandaged hands cradled in her lap as she stared at them painfully.
Riikka had been so set on facing Garland that she'd put herself through hell and back in a last-ditch effort to cram in enough training to get up to the necessary level. It wasn't so much about the team's victory as it was for Riikka to prove to herself and a certain someone that she wasn't as weak as she seemed.
In less than a minute, that chance had been taken from her, and Drayea had been forced to watch as it happened.
It didn't take a genius to tell.
Riikka was just crushed.
Keeping her eyes on the road, she absent-mindedly wandered into her own state of being.
Ever since the beginning of their five-month training departure, she'd been harboring animalistic thoughts and feelings of competitiveness and inferiority towards Taylia; it didn't seem to matter how hard she trained, the phoenix was always going to stay ten steps ahead of her.
Looking back on how Taylia had reacted to Nadriya and Riikka being hurt, it seemed to slap her in the face as she realized just how stupid and selfish she had really been.
Suddenly, beating Taylia wasn't so important anymore.
Riikka looked up at her; normally, her eyes, despite being such a forlorn color, were cheerful and fiery. However, with her given state, they had dimmed to a dull, ashen gray.
"How are your hands?"
The Finn averted her eyes to the window, following the same landscape Nadriya had been staring at for almost twenty or so minutes.
"I can hardly feel them."
The griffin glanced down to her hands, quickly going back to the road.
"Can you move them?"
Riikka's gaze fell to her lap, her hands trying to close weakly but only getting as far as the tops of her fingers curling inward slightly.
Drayea furrowed her brow, the previously thoughtful look becoming determined.
"How badly do you want this?"
At that question, she looked up in surprise at her teammate; she knew from her time with the redhead that whenever she brought up such a topic, she had something planned.
"Enough to give up the rest of the World Tournament for one battle." She replied, face as serious as her answer.
"Well then, we're just going to have to find some way to make it work, won't we."
For the first time in several days, her younger teammate's face broke out into a smile, albeit a small one, but a genuine smile.
Drayea turned the mirror to Nadriya in the backseat.
The Russian's eyes slowly moved to the mirror to meet her reflection's gaze, expression still void of any feeling.
"I don't care what you say or do, because obviously it means a lot to Taylia to keep you safe, and for some stupid reason it's affecting the rest of us; we're going to get you back on your feet, but as the Nadriya before the Hermitage. Got that? Even if you've given up on yourself, we haven't and won't, so don't write us off yet."
Nadriya just sighed and closed her eyes, as if refusing to believe anyone, let alone her enemies or their captain, her total opposite extreme, could reach her.
Sensing the skepticism radiating off the dragon, Drayea just sighed heavily and turned into the driveway.
I really pray I'm not just giving them false hope.
"Okay, my Dad's going to be here any minute now, and he's probably going to expect most of you to speak English…Taylia, you're the only one besides me who can, right?"
"No." She replied, surprisingly with very little accent. "Nadriya can, too."
Drayea sulked, annoyed that this American hadn't thought to study another language before flying to a foreign country. Riikka probably couldn't care less, and Nadriya was nowhere in sight.
Knowing her, Taylia had predicted she would stay in the huge library all day; she had been right.
"Just be warned, he's a total cowboy and uses a ton of ridiculous similes that almost never make any sense." She cautioned her captain.
"Don't worry, if my brain warps, I'll be sure to let you know when to duck-and-cover before it implodes." Taylia replied sarcastically.
It was pretty obvious, she was still silently fuming about the week's incidents, and they all could guess; Mitsu's pushy mother had better know who the leader of this pack was, because if she didn't, the Russian phoenix was going to make use of her new-and-improved Solar Ravage Talon.
When Syeverniy was nursing a possible ulcer, a barbeque was pretty much inevitable.
It was both amusing and scary at the same time.
Add to all of this, the fact that both Taylia and Drayea were excessively wary of strangers, much like wolves, and they were in for an interesting week.
"That's probably him."
"Does he usually throw his luggage against the door to knock?" Drayea asked sarcastically, referring to the heavy sound at the door.
Mitsu grinned sheepishly as Taylia folded her arms and raised an eyebrow.
"I've questioned that myself."
Vladimir opened the door, and almost in the same instant, Mitsu had already run to her father's arms.
"Hey, sweetheart, it's good to see you!"
Taylia's expression, which had been wary at first, softened; somehow, she couldn't help but feel a little jealous of Mitsu. She herself had never known the love of a parent, just as Drayea had, but the fact that she remembered hers made it that much more painful. The German, having never seen hers but knowing they abandoned her, really couldn't have cared less. In fact, she hated them with all her being for leaving her.
Just as fast as it had come, the soft expression was gone.
Mitsu pulled away and turned to her teammates to introduce them. Now that he was in plain view, Taylia was free to scrutinize.
Mr. Cody Utariyma was who Mitsu got her half-American blood from, and apparently her height and eyes as well; he had the same blazing green eyes, and if Taylia had to take a guess, probably stood at a good six-foot-five, give or take an inch. Whatever of his messy hair was visible under his black Stetson was chestnut brown or graying, the same as his beard; the man had been marginally smart and had brought his cold-weather attire, meaning a parka that hung down to his knees, thick mittens and a scarf…she wasn't surprised to see that he was wearing sun-faded Levi jeans and leather rancher boots, all of it topped off with an American-Midwest accent.
Che. What a cowboy. She thought with amusement.
"Dad, these are the rest of the Four Winds, my teammates." She started. "Riikka…"
The Finn smiled and raised a hand in greeting; Mr. Utariyma took off his hat and smiled back.
She also raised a hand, greeting him apathetically in German.
"And the team captain, Taylia; she's kinda the only other one who speaks English, so you may need her to translate if you want to talk to the others." She finished, sounding a bit sheepish.
Mr. Utariyma smiled and shook her hand.
"Pleasure meetin' ya, Miz Strelnikov. Mitsu talks quite highly a' you."
Taylia smirked at her teammate, who grinned.
For good measure, she tightened her grip on his hand a little, bordering on vice-like.
I'm the captain here, and you better know it.
Call it habit or instinct; this guy had yet to earn her trust, relative or not.
They let go, he shaking his hand slightly.
"That's some grip ya got there, ma'am." He commented, still with a good-natured tone.
Mitsu shot Taylia a glare, which her father missed.
The staff member next to her looked up as she gave him some kind of command in Russian before turning to the others.
"I'm going to go check on Nadriya." She told them, reverting back to German. "In the meantime, Mitsu, you can show your dad where his room is."
"So, are you just going to sit there all day staring out the window, or do you actually intend to do something with yourself?"
Nadriya glared at the Four Winds' captain, who was leaned against the doorframe, hands in her pockets and sporting a raised eyebrow, before turning back to the window and staring outside at the snow-blanketed trees.
She herself was sitting at one of the window seats, her arms folded defensively and careful not to lean too heavily against the pane; even despite that she was practically mummified in bandages, it still hurt.
Her clothing, which had been in ruins when Taylia had found her half-dead in the snow, had been thrown out and replaced with some of their own; a dark green tank top maybe two sizes too large for her that hung loosely around her thinning frame (Drayea's), a tight black shirt with a single strap attached to the torso by a metal ring, easily visible under the green top (Taylia's), a pair of charcoal-gray cargoes (also Taylia's), her own boots which had been the only thing intact, and a black jacket (Riikka's).
She wasn't going to admit appreciation; it would have been ridiculous for them to let her to walk around in those horrible sterile-white hospital pajamas.
Nadriya made a mental note to burn them.
Taylia's risen eyebrow went down.
"The least you could do is answer."
Her tone was sarcastic at best.
Taylia sighed at her obstinacy before walking over and pulling up a chair, sitting on it so that she straddled the seat with the back of the chair in front of her to rest her arms on.
Rather than speak, she just folded her arms on top of the chair's back, rested her chin on them, and stared.
"ARGH! Jeezus, what the hell do you WANT??" She finally burst out, too irritated to try and ignore the younger girl.
Taylia smirked triumphantly.
"That was all." She replied, seeming almost cheerful.
The smirk became a grin.
"I'm sure Drayea already told you, just because you've given up on yourself doesn't mean we have. Frankly, I have to say that I like the old narcissistic, cynical bitch Kamikaze better than the silent, non-responsive, 'leave me the fuck alone' shell that calls herself Nadriya Rzhyov."
Nadriya gave her a flat glare.
"Thanks, no one else makes the title 'narcissistic, cynical bitch' sound so loving." She shot back.
Taylia just sighed.
At least the 'cynical' part coming back was an improvement.
"Look, what I'm getting at is that you shouldn't let what's happened before get in the way of what's happening now. BIOVOLT has no control over you anymore, you don't have to keep shoving everyone away. I'm not suggesting you get all touchy-feely or anything-"
Nadriya snorted at the very notion.
"But at least try and let a bit of light in. Even though you were my enemy, and even if you still are now, I'm not about to sit back and watch you waste away like all those other poor souls that are still back at the Hermitage."
Her sympathetic tone was gone, hardened experience taking its place.
"Whatever it was that he did to you when you were discharged, I know you didn't deserve it. No one deserves the things that scum Alekzander does to happen to them, least of all someone who cared enough about one of their teammates to risk very serious punishment."
The dragon was quiet, knowing full well she was referring to the incident with Lilja's mutation.
Having nothing else to say, the younger Russian stood up to go.
She dug into her pocket and pulled out an obsidian, silver and green beyblade.
"I took the liberty of fixing up Zimyatov. Feel free to join us outside if you want to give it a whirl."
Taylia casually tossed it to her, the elder fumbling it in her hands as she walked away. The door shut with a low click; Nadriya stared at it a moment, almost expecting her to come back, then turned to the refurbished beyblade in her hands.
Her eyes narrowed, grip tightening to the point of pain.
She ignored Zimyatov's query, the glare becoming a scowl.
Stay out of my head.
"3, 2, 1, LET IT RIIIPP!!!"
Both the East and North Wind bladers flung their beyblades into the dish, Mitsu taking up the offensive while Taylia shifted into a low, defensive stance.
On the sidelines, Drayea and Riikka looked on and studied their beyblades, the former silently formulating a plan for her younger teammate. They only had today, that night and half of the next day, and after that it would be too late.
Taylia narrowed her eyes as the younger blader charged; she had specifically ordered that they battle one another like it was their assigned Soviet Knight, and Mitsu was going to need all the practice she could get in before her battle with Solongo.
"Arseni, counter it!"
Much to Mitsu's surprise, Arseni charged straight into her attack, the two blades colliding as the bladers themselves crossed arms, palms up and trying to force the other to give. Not unexpectedly, Taylia was winning.
She quickly twisted her arm around, grabbing the younger girl's arm in a vice-grip and twisting it behind her in an arm-bar, shoving her face-first into the snow and keeping her other arm pinned under her boot.
"When the hell are you going to get it, Solongo is going to use brute force on you, normal moves aren't going to cut it!" The Russian growled.
Mitsu, indignant, lashed a leg back and landed a hit to Taylia's lower back, enough of a surprise to get the Russian to move her boot; the East Wind blader forced herself up, pushing Taylia off and springing back to put some distance between them.
In the dish, Raiuma swerved away from Arseni; the phoenix remained in place, ready for the next command.
This time, Taylia and her beyblade came careening in, both intending to end the battle right there. Mitsu, slowly getting into sync with her bit beast, pushed aside the fist Taylia had thrown, countering by throwing her elbow back in hopes of landing a blow to her head, herself curving her back for a smoother throw.
The Russian ducked, in the dish Arseni swerving away to dodge the attack, before swinging her fist up into Mitsu's stomach; the Japanese-American doubled over, winded, uttering no sound despite the blow.
"Your moves are too flashy; this isn't about showing off, it's about effectiveness." She growled, digging her fist in.
She stepped swiftly back, Mitsu hitting the snow on her hands and knees. Actually, she was glad that Mr. Utariyma wasn't outside; Mitsu had asked she didn't take it easy on her, but she wasn't too sure her father approved of the idea.
To Taylia's credit, however, she wasn't using nearly what she was capable of –mostly because if she did, she'd probably kill Mitsu; also because she couldn't let the others see just how far her limits extended- and was mainly keeping her attention on getting it through to her subordinate that complex and elaborate moves would only slow her down.
Come on, Vostochniy…
Staggering to her feet, Mitsu coughed tiredly; she'd forgotten just how much of a wallop Taylia's punches packed.
The gold beyblade crackled with static as it bolted at Arseni, Mitsu charging Taylia outside the ring.
Pulling her arms to rest in front of her defensively, the East Wind blader ducked lower to the ground, tensing to weave her way in and out of attacks.
In the dish, metal clashed with metal, one beyblade a blur of gold, the other moving only as much as was necessary.
Mitsu threw a swift jab at Taylia, the Russian dodging it with relative ease and countering with a similar cross; she ducked, now crouching in front of her captain and open to strike wherever she could reach.
She lunged forward, making to drive her fist into her stomach; as fast as Mitsu was, Taylia's reflexes were faster as she curved forward to dodge the roundhouse.
In the dish, Arseni swerved out of the way of Raiuma's assault; they were becoming more evenly matched by means of speed, but the phoenix still vastly overpowered the stallion.
All it took was one hard snap kick, and Mitsu was on her back with Taylia remaining in her place…five feet away. The Z-Armageddon had smashed the Z-Columbine out of the ring with a forceful blow, and was now whirring in the center of the dish, peaceful with the satisfaction of victory.
"You're going to want to get in some more weight-lifting after this, Mitsu." Taylia lectured as the other blader got up, she herself outstretching a hand to catch her beyblade as it ramped up the side of the dish into the air.
Mitsu, slightly winded still from the force of Taylia's kick, only gave a barely-noticeable nod as she tried to get her breath back.
Seeing that the two would be going at it for a while, Drayea and Riikka stood silently and walked away, the elder with an idea forming in her head.
"LADIES AND GENTS! WELCOME BACK TO THE BEYBLADE WORLD TOURNAMENT!!!"
Same as the days before, the roar of the crowd almost reached deafening, only topped by DJ Jazzman shouting into his microphone.
"The first match of the week is gonna set the bar for who will continue and who will be eliminated! Today for you we have –drum roll please- the Justice Five and the Four Winds!"
The fans in the stands somehow managed to scream even louder, somewhere in the uproar a distinct chanting for their favorite teams.
Down in the arena, the Four Winds were short one blader, making it feel uncomfortably empty. Despite the absence of their youngest member, the group was remaining focused and alert; the current lineup was to put Mitsu against Ming-Ming, Taylia against Mystel, and Drayea against Garland.
Normally, Taylia would have taken on the hardest opponent, but given the fact that she was trying to keep her genetically-enhanced strength under wraps until they faced the Soviet Knights, she had to tone it down.
Besides, Drayea could handle him. Easy.
The Russian glanced at their opponents; it was still eating her up that she'd had to take Riikka out of the standings, but it was just too risky and dangerous for her to fight, much less against Garland of all people.
As badly as she wanted to see him get his ass handed to him by someone about half his size…
She shook her head to dispel the thought.
No more thinking about that. What's done is done, and Drayea's facing Garland, not Riikka. You have your own problems to worry about.
Needless to say, the battle between Mitsu and Ming-Ming was over quickly; all it had taken was to interrupt her attack with an Aurora Lumen, and Venus was out like a light, pun very much intended.
Taylia and Mystel's battle was like a déjà vu of Danica versus the F-Dynasty twins. Fire was virtually useless in the middle of an ocean arena (at least, the Solar Ravage Talon was, and she wasn't about to reveal the heavy artillery this early in the game), so lightning had to suffice.
"Photon Ravage Talon!"
Of course, to keep from becoming too conspicuous, lest Alekzander be watching, she'd had to pull out her Suicide Technique and land both of their beyblades out of the arena. It was starting to become very tiresome, always putting a dampener on the phoenix's real power.
"And now, ladies and gents, with the score able to go either way, we come to the third and final match!" DJ Jazzman announced. "Blading for the Justice Five will be their captain, Garland Tzebult!"
As the Justice Five captain started to take the stage and Taylia headed back to the bench, she was surprised to find only Mitsu sitting there.
"Where's Drayea?" She growled.
Of all times to run off…
Mitsu shrugged her arms helplessly. She'd been so absorbed watching Taylia's match that she'd failed to notice that Drayea had given them the slip.
Both Winds looked to the bottom of the stairwell that led down under the stands to the bench; Riikka, wearing a look of absolute determination and focus, was standing in front of them, hands bandaged up with her launcher clenched firmly in hand, tied in place with a bandana.
"Riikka, we've been over this, you can't go out there." Taylia reprimanded her teammate, aware that their stalling would cost them if they didn't hurry up.
The Finn glowered at her, her eyes the color of molten metal.
"I don't think there's a choice here, Tai. Drayea's not here, and neither of you can go up a second time. Either you let me blade, or we forfeit the match."
Mitsu looked over at Taylia, who seemed both pissed off and impressed that Riikka had managed to corner her.
The stern glare became a look of surrender as she sighed and put an arm around her youngest subordinate's shoulders.
"You really wanna do this, huh?" She asked.
"Enough to give up the rest of the tournament." Riikka replied.
Taylia ran a hand through her hair and took her arm away.
"Kick his ass."
Her face lit up with a grin, but she didn't dare stall any longer; DJ Jazzman didn't get the chance to remind them of their remaining minute time-out when Riikka jogged up to the platform, her overjoyed look already replaced with a dark glower, and boy did she look like Taylia when she put her heart into it.
Riikka slid into her stance, the launcher tied to her hand already loaded and rearing to go.
"3, 2, 1, LET IT RIIIPP!!!"
That kinda sucked, but it's probably better than nothing…?
A lot of people read and favorited my 'How To Write a Bit Beast' tutorial, but for all my trouble, I got TWO reviews.
That makes me very sad. –sniff-