Jun was in a café. There was a low buzz that grew louder and quieter at irregular intervals in the stark black and white room. It appeared even she was in greyscale except for her dress for whatever reason. Outside there was nothing but an endless field of asparagus stalks, ready for harvest, also in color with a brilliant yellow sun overhead. She wasn't sure how she got there, but she was there now. It wasn't that unusual. She was a frequenter of the upscale coffee places in her city. However, normally she didn't have the seemingly nonsensical craving she had now. She walked up to the counter, blue dress bouncing at her thighs, standing out like a sapphire. "I will have a cappuccino with gummy worms, sweetened with freshly squeezed honey and topped with asparagus!" She demanded to the woman behind the counter. Little bees hovered around the cash register, the source of the buzzing. Good, the honey would be extra fresh here!
The woman behind the counter looked around at her surroundings. The entire cafe was grey scale...and looked eerily familiar to the shop she worked at in reality. The differences started to emerge as she noticed that outside was a vast field of asparagus...and a beehive was positioned next to the cash register. Why was there a beehive back here?! The bees appeared to be flying around ignoring her...so there was that at least. Amelia looked down and saw her body was mostly greyscale as well, save for her red leotard and black skirt she wore normally. Why was she wearing her normal outfit to work? Her boss was strict about dress code; he'd never let something like this slide! Her thoughts are soon interrupted by a woman wearing a blue dress walking up to the counter.
"Uh...of course! Right away!" Cappuccino with gummy worms, honey and asparagus?! What kind of demonic drink was this?! Amelia quickly went out the back and picked a few stalks of asparagus, walking back inside and washing them with the grey water that came out of the grey faucet. Once she was done, she turned on the coffee machine and began making the main drink. After that was complete, she stared at the beehive with confusion. How was she supposed to get honey out of this thing?! She looked up at the woman hoping she was joking, but saw no change of expression. There seemed to be no gloves around the counter either...so Amelia reached her hand in to try and get some honey out.
"OW!" Amelia yelped as a flurry of stings enveloped her hand. It felt like thousands of tiny knives simultaneously were inserted into her hand...yet oddly enough, no blood was drawn. Amelia reached her hand in a second time, and yet again the pain overwhelmed her body. Amelia angrily took the asparagus and tossed them into the cappuccino, grabbing a handful of gummy worms from the jar on the counter and throwing them into the grotesque mixture and glaring at Jun.
"...here's your order, miss." She said, tossing the mixture out at Jun's chest. Why was she being so aggressive right now? She had dealt with much worse customers than this...yet now she decides to be extremely rude?
Jun rapped her fingers on the counter as she waited. Quiet place. None of the chatter of a normal cafe, just smooth jazz with some weirdly unintelligible vocals. She stared at Amelia as she struggled with the hive. Reminded her of her time in the service industry. Although she didn't seem to recall bees. Were there really no bees? Her train of thought was harshly derailed by the liquid that splashed her torso, draining away its color. "How dare you! It isn't even slightly warm!" Jun put her hand on the hilt of her sword. "I challenge you to a duel!" She declared, drawing her blade. "I will teach you how to properly serve a customer! First, you must be more gentle with bees!" She smiled when one landed on her sword, seeking the roses painted on it. "Like this, you see. We must be kind to those lower than us." She lashed out to slap Amelia with the flat of the blade. "Although I make an exception for you!"
"Maybe if you hadn't ordered this gross drink, I wouldn't have needed to mess with the bee hive! Seriously; gummy worms and asparagus in a drink?!" Amelia yelled back as she drew her saber from the sheath on the left side of her hip and blocked the strike by holding the flat of her own blade upward, letting the two pieces of metal collide with a loud 'clang' sound. "You challenge me to a duel, and strike without hearing my response?! This isn't a duel anymore; it's self defense!" Amelia yelled as an aura of fire began surrounding her saber. Amelia quickly moved her saber to point directly at Jun and fired a small stream of fire that would knock back any normal human into the wall behind Jun. Amelia had no idea how strong this person was...so this was more of a warning shot than anything. She could put out the fires on Jun after she apologized!
"That was a mere slap! You wish to see a real strike from me?" Jun's arm crossed her chest like she was about to chop Amelia with it, but the stream of fire came first. Jun was pushed across the cafe, shoving aside and toppling chairs and tables as she went. "Oof!" She grunted on the other side of the room. She dropped to the floor and rolled, popping up on the other side of a standing table to examine the damage. Through a few holes burnt into the dress, Amelia could see a few strange spots of bright color, shiny to the eye.
Jun screamed in dismay. "How dare you! This is irreplaceable!" She jumped up onto the table, jumping from that to the counter. Amelia could see her legs change, growing strange scales that seemed to be made of glass all over. Jun walked down the counter, pushing everything she passed straight off. Display cases, charity jars, stuffed animals. She swung her sword for the crown of Amelia's head, but the moment Amelia's sword moved to block it, she would change it to a sharp kick with her combat boots, right at Amelia's face.
The attack worked perfectly; the strange lady was knocked against the wall, yet didn't seem to be too injured. However...a strange glint reflecting off something beneath the burnt holes in Jun's dress made Amelia more weary about who this person was. What was that material? Was she some sort of human/fish hybrid, and those are her scales? Amelia readied her saber as Jun started yelling at her from across the room. "Irreplaceable? Looks like a normal dress to me!" Amelia shouted back. "You want to know what is irreplaceable though? My time! And you're wasting it!"
Amelia's earlier assumption that Jun's scales could have been related to being part fish were soon disproved when Jun leaped up onto the counter and armored her legs with the same shiny, colorful scales. Amelia held her sword upward to block the strike, but as Jun predicted, she didn't anticipate the kick and was sent flying over the counter and into the nearby wall with a loud 'thud'. The fire mage slowly got back up and touched her face to survey the damage...her hand meeting a small stream of blood coming down her nose. Great, looks like that was broken. "Ow...alright 'valued customer', looks like I'm throwing you out!" Amelia roared as she leaped up and grabbed a nearby wooden chair, setting it ablaze with her sword before tossing the projectile directly at Jun. She follows up by sprinting forward and attempting to grab Jun by the neck to try throwing her straight through the thick front windowpane. Surely the falling glass should do some damage.
Jun used her foot to block the thrown chair, knocking it down to break into burning splinters. Amelia leaped right over the little bonfire and wrapped a hand around her neck. Jun felt Amelia's arm tense and realized what was to follow. She grew scales on the outer edge of her left arm from the elbow to the tip of her pinky and they changed her arm, turning the whole stretch into a blade. She attempted to push it into Amelia's soft torso and draw it across, lacerating flesh.
Scales spread as quickly as she could muster until she smashed into the glass. She went straight through without a moment of resistance. Glass fell with her onto hard packed dirt, shattering on her scales. She rolled and stood, readying her blade. There were cuts across her undefended right arm and more on her chest and stomach. Otherwise she had raised scales in time. Her entire face was now a sparkling stained glass mess, although that changed quickly and the scales dissolved away to let her skin breathe.
Jun glanced to her sides at the branching stalks of asparagus sprouting around her, giving her full cover to about her waist. She glared at Amelia through the shattered glass and put her hand to her head. She may be kicked out, but she could still attack from out here! "You're tested me now. I hope you aren't too attached to your limbs, because now they won't be attached to you." She pulled her tiara from her head and threw it like a Frisbee. It spun through the air, curving impossibly to aim at Amelia on a path to return to Jun's hands. It had enough power to cut through a limb or neck if it happened to hit either.
As Amelia prepared to throw Jun through the window, a sharp pain began to radiate out of her abdomen as Jun's scaled arm scraped across it. Regardless, she proceeded to sharply toss Jun through the windowpane and onto the ground below in a shower of broken glass. But as she walked forward to inspect the damage...Amelia noticed how Jun was able to effectively block any damage from the glass with her scales. So they could act as both offensive slicing material, and defensive barriers against piercing attacks like her saber? She needed a way to strike an unscaled part of this woman fast enough for the most effective damage possible. A plan was soon hatched in Amelia's head, making her grin in response to Jun's threats.
"I am quite fond of my limbs, actually! Though...I think you could spare a few!" Amelia yelled as she concentrated her magic energy into a teleportation spell and instantly appeared behind Jun in a small burst of blue magic particles, allowing the killer tiara to fly harmlessly where she had stood. The fire mage's saber erupts with a fiery orange aura as she takes a step forward and tries to slash downward to try and cut through Jun's right leg. Regardless if she managed to complete her swing, Amelia redirects the fire around the blade upward in a large wave to try and burn Jun's limbs and perhaps catch some of her body on fire. Taking down people would be easier if they were distracted with their on body being set ablaze.
More scales vanished across Jun's body to let sweat escape. After all, Amelia was in the building. All Jenifer knew of her ranged abilities was fire. It was best to leave some pores open so she could keep avoiding that without overheating. When Amelia vanished, her eyes went fuzzy as they grasped for the object that was no longer visible. It was by pure instinct that she whirled, blade swinging out wildly for whatever was behind her. Half turned, her leg wasn't carved all the way through.
Amelia's blade bit deep, but Jun was already turning as it entered. Even as she swung, Jun's slashed leg fell out from under her. She dropped right through the wall of fire, singing her all over and lighting flames on her clothing and hair. Jun rolled the moment she hit the ground and the smell of burning flesh and asparagus filled her nostrils. Both were depressingly familiar. She really needed to hire a cook. She came up on a knee outside of sword range and flicked out two fingers on her off hand. Both extended into ten foot spikes in an instant, aimed at Amelia's chest. This time she was ready for Amelia's tricks. Scales coated her entire back rather than her front half. She would have to rely on her sword for defense in front.
As Amelia felt the impact of her sword against Jun's leg, she could immediately feel that her strike didn't go all the way through. While she didn't tend to fight much before...after a bloody fight with her twin sister Alexis, Amelia had grown a fondness for combat and spent the next several months tearing through the ranks of Gateway's dueling club. News of her brutal battle with Alexis had instilled a level of respect for Amelia's fighting prowess in the general Gateway population, helped by her immense magical reserves she inherited from her parents. It was this power, however, that made Amelia less experienced in combat than most of her other peers.
The fire mage watched as Jun pointed two fingers at her, not able to teleport away until she got her sword out of Jun's leg. She grips the saber handle tightly and rips it out of Jun's leg just in time to block one of the claws, but the other pierced her chest with an agonizing pain accompanying it. Yet...Amelia seemed...excited? "Nice...trick you got there. How about I show you some of mine!" The tone of Amelia's voice now sounded different, as if now this was a battle she was enjoying. The fire mage suddenly erupted with an aura of orange fire that vaporized several stocks of asparagus beneath her, Amelia pointing her saber directly at Jun and thrusting forward. "Burning...IMPACT!" Amelia yelled as fiery sword was aimed at Jun's chest. Should the sword be stopped, the wave of fire behind the blade would still travel forward and badly burn Jun hopefully. Amelia saw the situation play out two ways; either Jun keeps this spike in her chest and takes the hit, or retracts it to try and get away from the attack.
Jun had only a few years of experience now as a bounty hunter. Still, it was enough to know what Amelia was doing. The fire in her attack would strike Jun whether she blocked the sword or not. Jun extended the other two fingers on her left hand. Amelia couldn't dodge either, and Jun knew some far more immediately lethal things to do with their trapped state As she raised her blade the two other fingers shot out to pierce Amelia's torso. The flames washed over her and she felt her flesh sear.
She couldn't put up scales in front nearly quick enough, and swiftly she was removing them in back for the sake of heat loss. But even as the flames surround her, her fingers were retracting and her good leg pushed her forward. She came from the flames, hair a burning halo around cooked red flesh. Her nerves screamed when she swung hard at Amelia, a wild swing of utmost strength and speed but a lack of form. She couldn't afford to swing well. She just needed to make a scratch and the injuries she had made would bleed Amelia out.
Jun's two earlier spikes still held Amelia in place, so she was powerless to stop the next two that extended out and speared her torso. Several streams of blood now seeped out of the four stab wounds in addition to the smaller stream running out of Amelia's broken nose. Her expression did not change though...still grinning with excitement. "That...hurt. Heh...hehe...hahahaha!" She began to laugh loudly, spitting out a small mist of blood from her lungs. The pain washed over her body like a river, dulling many of her senses...but filling her brain with an abundance of dopamine and adrenaline.
Once Jun retracted her claws, Amelia leaped back and swung her blade sideways to try slicing Jun on her advance. However; the bounty hunter's blade was too long and slashed a small hole in Amelia's chest, nearly linking two of the holes like a demented game of connect the dots. As Amelia reeled from the blow, she teleported directly behind Jun. If she had her scales upfront, the back should be weak! "Twin...dragon assault!" The fire mage yelled as she summoned two large columns of fire that quickly took the shape of two dragon heads with two spiral horns on each. The dragons let out a small roar as they shot toward Jun, vaporizing the asparagus unfortunate enough to be in their way. While the attack took place...the slash would began to bleed an excessively large amount compared to the earlier wounds.
Jun and Amelia traded blows, Jun gaining a cut on her face in exchange for opening a wound on Amelia's chest. It was hardly an even trade, as all Amelia's wounds began to bleed heavily. She raised her blade to defend her seared flesh, but Amelia vanished again. Jun didn't even hesitate to lunge to the side. The dragons snapped at her legs, reducing already torched flesh to charred bone.
Burnt ankle bones fell to the dirt as she scrambled away as fast as her arms could drag her. "Agh... it doesn't matter! I already won!" She was draped in smouldering rags and half-melted skin, but she would hold out longer than somebody bleeding from four holes in her chest! Jun spat ash and spun to flick the few remaining scales on her body off at Amelia. They couldn't cause much damage, just more nicks to bleed from.
Cold. The entire area felt like standing in an arctic wasteland with no coat to protect against the frigid cold, despite the aura of fire surrounding Amelia. Blood was flowing out of Amelia's wounds at an alarming rate, making a thick red puddle at her feet that began to boil away. The aura around Amelia was slowly fading away like a spent candle wick, the fire mage collapsing down to one knee as the scales peppered her body, opening up a few more tiny wounds. Her vision was quickly beginning to fade as the amount of blood in Amelia's body rapidly decreased. However...Amelia's face was still displaying a grin. "You...won...?" She asked, spitting another glob of blood out of her mouth.
Suddenly, the aura around Amelia began to migrate down into the blade of her sword, now glowing white hot with the concentrated heat within. "A parting gift...from me to you!" Amelia yelled as she pulled her arm back and tossed the sword upward as far as she could. The white-hot weapon sailed straight into the air and lost its momentum around 30 feet upward. The blade then fell straight back down toward the downed Amelia like an arrow straight from Apollo, gaining momentum as it fell. Once it came within 5 feet of Amelia, she cast a teleport spell to send it directly at Jun's heart, conserving the momentum it had gained by falling downward. Amelia collapsed into the thick pool of dried blood that had been formed around her body, head looking forward to see if her attack managed to rip a searing hole straight through Jun's chest. Vision...fading...the icy grip of death was quickly wrapping its hands around her neck.
Jun raised her chin. "Yes, you hot-blooded lout. I have won. Your life's blood trickles into the dirt to water these precious shoots. Your ragged flesh fails you. Here you fall, in the ashes you have created, and you shall never rise." Jun's voice rose over the crackle of the flames. She propped herself up on her knees with her sword to pontificate, free hand pulling coins from her pocket. "I will close your eyes with coins myself. I am not cruel, nor am I a miser." She saw Amelia's sword fly up into their air and readied herself.
What was this trick? Her eyes followed it, but it teleported and she lost it. Her brain hadn't quite registered where it had gone until there was a soft thud and a searing pain through her chest. She looked down to see the hilt of Amelia's sword resting among her ribs. She moved her hand to grasp it, but all she could do was brush her fingertips on it before her hand fell limp. She toppled over with another soft thud and was utterly still, eyes wide open in dying shock.
The world was rapidly becoming blurry as Amelia collapsed face-down onto the burning paste below that had been her blood. The air smelled like a rancid mix of burning flesh, asparagus, and smoke. Her body could no longer feel any pain; enough blood had seeped out that most of her nerves were dead. Was this how her miserable life was going to end...in a fight against some random bitch who had terrible taste in coffee? A small smile spread across Amelia's ghost-white face as she saw the blurry outline of her sword spear Jun through the chest and sent her toppling toward the ground. At least if she was about to die...she wasn't going to give the satisfaction of victory to this woman. Closing her eyes, Amelia waited for the final seconds before Death decided to drag her to Hell.
Amelia suddenly jolted awake in her dorm bedroom, looking around furiously as her eyes adjusted to the darkness. A thin layer of sweat had formed around Amelia's body as she breathed slightly harder than normal. She patted her chest to notice any blood, but found none. "...a...dream?" The fire mage asked herself as she glanced around the dorm room. Her leotard was laying on the floor where she'd left it, while her work uniform hung up in her closet with all her other outfits. The lack of outfit on her currently also pointed toward the recent events only being a dream. A few stuffed animals lined the shelves of her dorm, along with a desk that had several textbooks stacked on top that no doubt would make Amelia's life hellish later. The TV was currently on, displaying a late night comedy show that Amelia had no interest in watching. With a large sigh, Amelia shook her head at her work uniform and turned off the TV, falling forward back onto the pillow. "Wonder if I can call in sick today..." The fire mage wondered aloud as she tried to drift back to sleep.
Jun jerked awake, flailing at her satin sheets. Her panicked yelp pierced the empty house. She looked around in confusion. "What? No asparagus? Or fire..." "You didn't burn it that badly." The Shattered One sounded bemused. "I didn't burn it at all, be quiet. I was just having a dream about... uh..." She honestly couldn't remember what the dream had been about certainly unpleasant though. She looked at the towering grandfather clock across from her. Well, it was time she get moving anyway.
She threw off her sheets and straightened her negligee as she stepped into blue slippers. "You know, if we have some left over, I think I'll try some asparagus with my coffee this morning." "Were I to be the type who eats, I feel I would find that idea repulsive." "It's just an idea I had. Who knows, I have the feeling I'll love it." Jun smiled as she went down to her kitchen.