Bout 16: Raiyne Underwood X Punky
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Date: February 22, 2222
Time: 19:55 UTC – 16:55 LT
Coordinates: 67°N 46°W (Greenland, North America)

Would my life be like this if I just stayed at that party? If I told Caroline that I didn’t want to go? If I said no to my uncle Lou? Probably not. If I never became a Rift Constable, I would never have  fought the Rifters. I would have never killed Caroline. She would be alive, and I… would not be here. I would be back in Rainy Woods, working in the library, saving up money for college. 

It was a simple life. It was all that I wanted. But here I am. 219 years in the future. In another universe. In possession of divine powers. Running through the Greenland tundra alongside some terrorist who looks just like me and has the ability to make anything appear out of thin air with just a thought. I had powers too— I could create Rifts that allowed me to travel ten kilometers within a fraction of a second— but my powers did not compare to hers.

My stomach churned as I tried to think of a way to defeat someone so much more powerful than myself, and the only things that put me at ease were as follows: I was now immortal. I could not be killed, so I had no reason to fear death. And while I had no idea how I could combat this opponent, Verde Dusk was confident in my chances. She acted like she knew I would win. 

I believed in Verde. She was eccentric beyond comparison, but she has not been wrong so far, and… she helped show me the joys of my body after it was transformed upon entering this world. I don’t know how my parts compare to a regular boy’s, but… I now understand why men masturbate so damn much. B-Besides, if she truly was God, as she so claimed, then there was no one and nothing I could trust more than her… right?

As my mind continued to dwell on such matters, I looked toward my opponent, Punky. She was clad in pink spandex and looked like a Mighty Morphin Power Ranger, while I was dressed in a cobalt bodysuit that protected my body from the turbulence of moving at several thousand kilometers an hour. We both ran at an even pace toward our destination in the north before I slowed my pace and Punky did the same. There were no landmarks to speak of in our current location, but it was approximately 10 kilometers away. Or at least ‘close enough’.

We stared at each other, waiting for the cue to begin, and after a minute of this, off to the southwest, I saw a red light flickering in the sky. It was time.

“Are you ready for this?” I asked my opponent.

Punky and I stared back at one another. My sapphire eyes crossed her violet eyes. 

“I’m ready to welcome you to die!” She said, speaking in the same voice as me, but with a childish intonation.

“Wha—” 

Before I could let out another word, Punky had used her… Cripes, what was it again? Her ‘Re;All Bürth’ ability to summon something from nothing. The weapon she began this battle with was a spear that, with no hesitation, she threw at me. Her Enhanced Body gave her power to toss the spear with force and speed, causing it to penetrate my shoulder. The force of the impact knocked me to the icy ground below, and the sudden rush of pain left me paralyzed. 

My head bounced against the dense ice. My entire body tensed as blood started pouring over my skin. And my eyes clenched themselves closed. I took a breath of the thin air, but as my lungs filled with the frigid gas, I started hearing something ticking… rapidly. I turned my head to the right and realized it was coming from the spear. I gawked at it for a fraction of a second before my eyes were filled with white and all my other senses went to black.

My body healed itself, presumably, some seconds later, and I immediately jumped up from the small icy crater I found myself in. The brisk air brushed against my now unclothed body, and standing 5 meters away from me was Punky, carrying a quiver on her back, filled with what I could only assume to be more explosive spears.

“Aw, you don’t like dying? You are a lot like Punky and the Genociders then… but how am I supposed to kill you if you don’t die when I kill you? Oh wells! I guess I can just keep trying until you stop coming back— and it will be super easy, ‘cos I’m Punky: The Penetration Pundit!”

After giving me her semi-sensible spiel, Punky began throwing more spears at me, but this time I was… less unprepared.

I had only gained these powers a few hours ago, so it was difficult for me to truly get a handle on what I could do with this Enhanced Body ability. Running fast was one thing, but this was like dodging arrows. I kept my tactics simple at first: Running in a circle while spiraling out in order to build more distance between us while Punky lobbed spear after spear at me, only for them to fall into the ice below and let off an explosion roughly three seconds later. The flattened battleground before us was ravaged with uneven miniature craters, filled with shards of ice and metal.

I thought that Punky would change her tactics after a minute of this, but she continued to summon spear after spear after spear, urging me to change my tactics instead. An idea quickly formed itself in my mind, and I put things in motion by standing my ground and summoning two Rifts. One behind me, and one behind Punky. She paused for a moment as she saw a floating void appear, but swiftly threw another spear my way. The distance between us was great enough for me to dodge the spear, causing it to sink into the Rift behind me. As I saw it pass through the Rift, I turned my head to see the same spear eject itself from the Rift behind Punky, where it landed itself into her lower back.

She fell to the ground, let out a sound of pain and surprise, before her own weapon exploded, blowing up her and the pile of spears she stockpiled. I reflexively shielded my eyes as this explosion happened and opened them to see a meter-deep crater where Punky once stood. I rushed over to it and looked downward, where I saw a pile of viscera, pulsating and gyrating. It was obviously Punky, reforming herself, but before she could regain her composure, I removed my two Rifts and created two new ones. 

One stood 5 meters above the crater, and the other one stood right below Punky’s body. She immediately fell through the portal below her, and was ejected downward by the portal hanging in mid-air, where she fell into the portal below and came out of the portal above. It was a loop of perpetual motion— an endless cycle where Punky would fall through an infinite number of 5 meter expanses, with each cycle taking roughly half a second. 

Punky began falling before her body had fully reformed, and as she regained consciousness, the first thing she did was scream.

“WWWWAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!”

She continued to scream, flailing and twisting her body around, constantly losing her composure as she tumbled through the air, unable to move fast enough before she was recentered with each rotation. I looked at her, completely out of her element, and doing nothing to improve her situation, and thought about my next course of action. I could do much to harm her in this vulnerable predicament, Real Boot acid that would burn her body for as long as she continued this loop… but I could not bear to do that to her. To someone who was flailing and screaming like an uncomfortable child. So I ended the loop by offering some outside interference.

I carefully timed the removal of the Rift hanging in mid-air and replaced it with one that stood at ground level, and would release Punky forward. For the final time, she sank into the Rift below, and then she shot out from the ground level Rift, moving like a human-shaped bullet, before her body finally fell onto the ground. There, she tumbled several meters before finally coming to a full stop.

Much like myself, she was completely naked, and while her body had specks of blood from the aggressive rolling, she stood up quickly, and immediately directed her attention at me.

“What the HECK was that all about?!” Punky barked as she looked at me.

I walked out of the crater to get a closer look at her and, after establishing a reasonable distance, I tried speaking to her yet again. 

“Could we try talking this through? We are both super powered immortal women and we will not accomplish much of anything by throwing explosive spears or making perpetual motion loops. Neither of us can die, and this will keep going until one of us gives up or we call a truce.”

“…But you’re Lou’s niece! You’re on his side, trying to steal my body!”

“I… how do you even know about my uncle? Who exactly are you, Punky?”

“Punky is Punky! She’s the girl who fell from the sky and is here to make the world a happy place again after the Melding messed things up super bad and made her adventure a post-apocalyptic one! And now that she’s trapped in Lou’s brainspace, she’s gotta fight and destroy to make sure that she is the winner and can make the world a better place, forever and evers!”

“…Who told you that?” I asked, my eyes squinting as I tried to comprehend what she just said.

“Mister Nari, of course! He said that you are all Lou’s and Abigale’s allies, and that you wanna take over the world and make it a nasty place until all the time is gone like fish in a river!”

I brought a hand to my temple, shut the two Rifts I made, and laid down on the icy ground beneath me. I looked up at the cloudless twilight sky and let out a sigh.

“Whatcha doing, ya nasty girl?!”

“Punky, could we please just talk things through? I really do not want to fight you. I… really don’t want to fight anyone, and I never have. It was something thrust upon me, and while I had the option to refuse… I truly couldn’t. So… I killed creatures, alien life from another world, and eventually… I had to bring an end to my best… and only… friend. Fighting only brought me pain, suffering, and even with these powers, I do not want to hurt you. To see your body become all red and bloodied. It’s disgusting, and if we can avoid that, then, perhaps, we could come to an understanding.”

“Hm… okie doke. You have the attention of Madame Punky for a bitty bit.”

Punky then splayed her naked body across the icy floor, putting her head inches away from mine.

“Thank you. From what I could gather, you came from a very different world, and you know of Lou. Tell me, what happened to him? Is he… is he the same Lou Underwood I know?”

“I dunno. He went into a Rift looking for you, became a copy of you, of us I guess, and then went all crazy-like after escaping and started making his city.”

“Punky, are you saying that we… that we are the same person?”

“Yeppa-deppa-yo-yo! You became Abigale Quinlan after some meanie took your body, and after Abigale Quinlan went into space, she got her head all conked up and out came me!”

Punky’s enthusiasm and playful demeanor made it clear that she was not intentionally lying to me, but her flippant explanations made me wonder if what she was saying could be true. …But then I remembered the situation I was currently in, and chose to accept this insanity as the truth until proven otherwise. 

“If we are the same person, then is there any reason for us to fight?” I asked, still looking up at the sky.

“But you’re trying to steal my body! And even if it used to be yours, Punky likes existing!”

“Punky, that is what Nari told you. And… do you have any reason to believe him? Believe that he isn’t using you as a tool for his plan?”

“But Mister Nari is all nice-like! He would never hurt me! No way, no how!”

“Punky, people lie, and from what I can tell, Nari is not a nice person. Tell me, how did the two of you meet?”

“He… killed two kids who helped dig me outta the dirt, and then said that they were bad people.”

“Seriously… and you listened to him?”

“He knew everything, though! It’s like he was really there with me!”

“I don’t really know how he learned about your past, but if he did, doesn’t that just make it seem all the more likely that he would manipulate you? Because the more he knows about you, the easier it is for him to take advantage of you.”

“…Were the people I killed real people, Raiyne?”

“Yes. They were real people with their own full lives. You and the rest of the… Genociders put an end to them.”

“Oh… poops. Oh stinky poopy-poops.”

“Also, do you know what a Genocider is?”

“Nari said it was somebody who kills in the name of justice! But I guess that was another lie…”

“Genocide is the deliberate murder of a large group based on nationality or race… but I guess Nari lumped up all other lifeforms as his ‘large group.’ You may as well have joined a group called the ‘Murderer’ or the ‘Death Lovers.’”

“I… I’m sorry Raiyne,” Punky said, her voice alarmingly quiet. “I’m a bad person. I thought Nari was my friend, but he was just using me, wasn’t he? He was using me and… I became the person people always thought I was. A mass murderer of millions. I ended so many lives these past… few hours, and I treated it like a g-game, because it was… fun.”

As Punky continued to talk, her usual demeanor began to change. She was not speaking with the chipper attitude she had when I first met her. I stood up to get a better look at her and saw that she was in a fetal position, tears flowing out of her violet eyes as she shivered in the snow. I moved closer to her, lifted her up, and wrapped my arms around her back… flinching as my bare breasts pressed against her skin. 

“Punky, you’re not a bad person. You are innocent, you are gullible, and you want to believe in people. But… people are sometimes terrible. They cannot always be trusted. Sometimes, you need to be guarded, and if someone tells you to do something that does not seem right, you need to question things.”

Punky remained quiet as she digested my words, grabbing onto my hands and holding them as she thought. When she spoke up again, she regained her usual childish manner of speech and robust energy.

“Raiyne, when I grow up, I wanna be just like you!”

“When you… grow up? Wait, how old are you, Punky?”

“I’ve only been a real person for… six weeks.”

“That’s… terrifying to imagine. But you should not want to be me. While I just lectured you about learning how to trust others, I… I died because I was too trusting. When I was trying to protect my hometown, I met a creature known as Wisp. They claimed they were peaceful, that they only wanted to help Lou and I defend from the Rifters. But in the end… Wisp ultimately turned on me.”

“From the very moment I met Wisp,” I continued, “he wanted nothing more than to break me, to steal my body for himself. And over the span of weeks, he did just that. He distracted us so that a Rifter could attack my best friend— turning her into a monster. He fed on my insecurities as I recovered from her death. And he ultimately led me down to the path of my own death, where he took my body for himself. With my body, he renamed himself Abigale Quinlan, and began a career of destruction, killing for pleasure and leisure. My trust led to the deaths of tens of millions, and I could have prevented it if I were less trusting of others.”

“…How do you know what happened after you died?”

“Verde told me, and while I did not believe her at first, I came to realize that she was right, that the signs were all there. That I was abused by a psycho… with hair as white as snow… and cyan eyes. …Just like you.”

“I guess we both learned an important lesson today, then!” Punky replied, escaping my hug and standing, looking down at me with a smile on her face.

“Yeah, I guess we did,” I said, hopping up from the cold ground. “That we need to be careful who we trust and support. And that we both still have quite a bit of growing up to do.”

“Oh please! You’re an adult, Raiyne!”

“I come from a rural town with less than 10,000 people in it, and I turned 19… a day or two ago. I have a lot of growing up to do. But before that, I— we have a world to save, or else we won’t have the opportunity to grow up.”

“Darn tootin’! …But can we really trust Verde?” Punky asked, sending a hand to her chin.

“Verde is incredibly open about her faults, and our options are either to support her and the Righteous or to support Nari and the Genociders. We are choosing between helping someone who wants to save the world and someone who wants to end it. It’s as black and white as it gets.”

“Then… count Punky as part of team Righteous!” Punky exclaimed as she thrust herself onto me, planting a kiss on my cheek. 

I blushed as I realized what she just did, and quickly threw my arms around her, locking us into a hug once again. As our near-identical bodies pressed against each other, I was painfully reminded of just how naked the two of us were.

“Say,” I said, escaping the hug. “I’m glad that we reached an understanding, but we probably should have gotten dressed… 10 minutes ago.”

“Oh, yeah. Most people are weirded out by nudey stuff, isn’t that right? No worries, let Punky work her magic!”

Punky then snapped her fingers a few times. Before I could recognize what was going on, I felt cloth cover my body, and looked down to see a cobalt peacoat, black gloves on my hands, and mid-brown boots covering my feet. As the snapping continued, I looked at Punky, and saw her wearing the same outfit, but with a pink and white color scheme.

“Mwahahaha! Punky truly is incredible! She can not only Re;All Bürth anything into being, but she can aim it with super precision!”

“…I’m really glad that we have someone like you on our side, Punky.” I said, a nervous smile creeping on my face.

“In that case, you can introduce me to the rest of the Righteous!”

Punky then grabbed me by my hand and started walking south. Her grip was firm, but not aggressive, and after a moment, the two of us were walking, side-by-side, as we headed back to report the favorable conclusion of our encounter. 

As I did so, I realized why Verde had the two of us battle one another. That, for all our differences, and for all the damage Punky did, we had the ability to form a connection, and were able to end this bout in the best way possible. I looked up at the setting sun and hoped that my other allies would see similarly favorable results.

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