“Hey Kit... it’s been a long time,” somebody called from behind him. Even when he said it casually, Foxie still made Kit’s spine tingle... of course that could be because those words were always followed by Foxie’s icy hands delicately cupping his balls.
“H-hi Foxie,” Kit tried to stutter calmly... it probably would have been a lot easier except there were now standing in front of the school before class started, and nearly everybody was watching them. Kisara seemed unfazed by Foxie’s appearance. The guys around them were trying not to laugh, and the guys seemed to have this familiar expression on their face... the kind that says either ‘better you than me’ or ‘I thought he was coming for me’.
“Hi Foxie,” Kisara said kindly with a wave.
“Oh. I see. So you’re still hanging out with the tramp,” Foxie replied coldly as he hugged Kit tightly from behind. Kisara’s face showed mild irritation... it would be worse if that escalated any further.
“What do you want?” Kit asked as he shrugged out of Foxie’s embrace.
“I see how it is... you start associating with the bimbo and you think you can deny me? Is that it? Well I’ve got news for you my friend... somethings, you just can’t stop. I didn’t come here to argue with you or the slut. Somebody spread rumors around the school that you say you can beat Simon. It spread like wild-fire and long story short; he’s coming for you again,” Foxie told Kit.
“Why do I get the feeling that that ‘somebody’ is you?” Kit asked him pointedly.
“I’m a reporter Kit... I have to get the story,” Foxie reminded him.
“THERE IS NO STORY! THERE’S JUST YOU TRYING TO PICK A FIGHT FOR ME THAT I DON’T EVEN WANT!” Kit shouted back.
“Are you saying that you haven’t been spending the last few weeks training specifically for a fight with Simon, because my sources say you have,” Foxie explained as a wicked gleam crept into his eyes.
“What sources?” Kit asked in a worried tone. He had been learning how to defeat a tournament fighter, but he didn’t want everybody knowing that, and it wasn’t for any sort of rematch with Simon.
“Uhm... Kit... I kind of ran into Foxie the other day while shopping, he cornered me at the market and started asking all these questions about you... I wouldn’t have told him anything, but he took advantage of my weakness and I couldn’t resist him,” Kisara admitted as a deep blush crept over her face.
“Weakness?” Kit said confused.
“Simple... I bribed her with these,” Foxie laughed. He tossed a stack of pictures on the ground. They were all pictures of dogs. Kisara’s face turned a deeper red as she bent to pick them up frantically.
“You... sold me out... for... puppies?” Kit asked her.
“I’m sorry... I really am, but-but they’re so cute and I- I couldn’t help it... he has all different kinds, and my uncle never let me have a dog before. See... he has bulldogs, labs, mastiffs, great Danes, German shepherds, and they’re all so cute, and...,” she started to break down as she clutched the pictures of the dogs to her chest.
“Alright... alright... calm down... I should have expected this sort of thing from him,” Kit soothed her. “What exactly can you hope to gain from forcing me to fight people?” Kit asked Foxie brusquely.
“Simple... power; influence... it makes the world go round,” Foxie answered.
“How does me fighting these people increase your influence?” Kit asked him.
“People see that you’re getting stronger, and I’m your best friend, so of course people know where the power is gathering,” Foxie explained simply.
“Best friend... when the hell did you become my friend, let alone my BEST friend?” Kit asked him puzzled. Foxie pulled him aside and pulled out an envelope. He opened it and passed the pictures over to Kit.
“What do you think?” Foxie asked. They were all of Kit, some of them were photos of Kit with another girl in a compromising situation... those were beautiful compilations, on the other hand the ones of Kit ducking down to try and glimpse under Kisara’s skirt were probably real.
“This doesn’t change anything,” Kit shrugged as he handed them back.
“Hey, Kisara, I found another batch of photos I took that you should really see,” Foxie said as he turned to her.
“YOU’RE THE BEST FRIEND I’VE EVER HAD!” Kit shouted as he wrapped his arm around Foxie’s shoulder. “Just put them away,” Kit whispered to Foxie.
“I wanna kiss,” Foxie haggled.
“Don’t push it,” Kit fired back.
“Kisara!” Foxie said as he tried to turn again. Kit pulled him in and kissed him on the cheek once. “Sorry... these are just a bunch of copies... never mind,” Foxie told her.
“Why do you hate me?” Kit asked him desperately.
“Oh Kit, I don’t hate you... you’re simply the last hope for valor in this school; you are the wind with the potential to change everything. OH! THAT’S GOOD! ‘The Wind of Change’... I can see it now... I’m gunna have to get to the club room and start the trademarking and copyrighting process immediately... just try to avoid Simon while you train,” Foxie told him as he took off for the newspaper club room.
Everywhere Kit went that day people were talking about how he’d issued some sort of challenge to Simon Croft. Nobody really seemed to think that he would survive a fight, nobody seemed to know that he’d already been beaten by Simon. He figured out why later in the day... Kisara explained to him that Foxie had managed to keep it quiet that the two had already fought once, and anybody that said otherwise was swept under the rug and handled in a similar manner to the way he’d worked both of them.
Instead of waiting around for Simon to find him, after school Kit headed straight to Ryouzanpaku and avoided the front entrance to the school at all costs. Foxie’s rumor had sparked a manhunt unparallelled in the school in years. Every entrance was covered by member of the Karate club luckily they didn’t keep a close eye on the wall surrounding the school. Kisara had shown Kit to a spot where the top of one building went right up to the wall.
Back at the dojo they continued to teach him ways to combat a fighter to the best of his abilities. Surprisingly it was Brock who taught him yet ANOTHER way to fight a tournament fighter. “The easiest way to beat opponent is to catch him off guard by doing something he wouldn’t expect... come... try to hit me,” Brock instructed. Kit stood and reared back quickly.
“WAIT! Brock... maybe we should just demonstrate for him,” Denali suggested as he approached from one of the other buildings.
“Why? Daisuke said ‘Kit only gets better when he gets hurt’,” Brock responded, it was actually a close approximation of Daisuke’s voice.
“Yes, hurt... not injured... there’s a difference. If you’re going to do what I think you’re going to do you’d shatter his arm like glass,” Denali explained.
“Brock understands,” Brock nodded after a few moments of intense contemplation. Denali approached Brock slowly... a real fight between them would be scary... they looked like two irritable grizzly bears. They stood there for a moment, and then they took appropriate fighting stances. Denali came in with one solid punch aimed right at Brock’s face... instead of pulling his guard up and protecting, Brock dropped his guard altogether and head-butted Denali’s hand. “The forehead is the hardest bone in the skull... if you want to catch somebody off guard... attack their attack,” Brock explained. Denali was shaking his hand.
“Good one Brock,” Denali chided him.
“Your opponent is used to his enemies being scared of him... scared of his strikes, when he comes to attack, you don’t back down, you don’t freeze, step forward into his attack, not only will it surprise him, he won’t be able to get as much momentum behind his hits and invading his personal space should throw his balance, from there you do just like Hitomi taught you with her little circle-twirly thing that pansies use,” Brock told him with a big smile. After an hour of practicing this unorthodox way of fighting and the double-strike Brock had taught him a while back, Daisuke stepped in for his training session... and for once it was actual technique training and not just enhanced physical training.
“Today I’m going to teach you THE fundamental techniques of Ninpo. I call it ‘the choke hold kidney-punch’. What you want to do is approach your opponent in a way that will allow you to get behind them quickly. Usually I come at them closer to their forward arm, when they go to strike I dodge toward their back, after that wrap the crook of your elbow around their neck. You have to be quick with this next part, hit them in the back, below the rib cage but above the pelvis, to either side of the spine, the goal is to hit them where they don’t have any bone to protect their inside organs. When you strike, make sure that your fist is still rotating; you wanna hit them roughly so that your fist is thumb side up and keep going until the natural rotation is complete... adding that rotation changes the way the force hits their body and reduces the elasticity of the skin and the muscle beneath it... in short it reduces the amount of damage that gets absorbed by the surface tissue and causes greater damage. The punch is only necessary to stun them for a moment, you then force your open arm behind their neck and arch you back to get more leverage behind it and choke them quicker. If you have to you can wrap your legs around their waist, but I prefer instead to angle one leg and slide the other between their legs, that way you can resist if they try to push you back, or you can trip them if they try to run forward... if you do the hold right they should go down in a matter of seconds,” Daisuke explained it step by step.
Hitomi came down to demonstrate with him, they did it once at regular speed (for them) and once slowly so that Kit could see the step by step. The only thing they changed is that Hitomi didn’t actually get choked out; while in the hold she demonstrated the proper way to buy time and escape from a rear naked choke. First she turned her head into his elbow and lowered her chin to try and create a block or at least some room for her to breathe with, then she her left hand up under his left elbow and her right hand grabbed him by the left wrist; she pushed up with her head, and at the same time she pushed up on his elbow, she used the hand on his wrist to roll his shoulder forward so he was facing the ground.
“At this point in the fight you can roll with a thousand different hits, locks, kicks, or tosses; basically you’ve completely exposed the enemy to whatever it is you want to do to them,” Hitomi explained to him. Kit got to practice it three or four times before Katrina came out.
“My turn,” she announced happily. “Today I’m going to teach you one of my favorite types of kick, it’s called the jump spin hook kick,” Katrina told him.
Katrina had to help Kit with his foot work and positioning his leg; it took some time but eventually he got it down enough that he could use it in a fight.
“Katrina... isn’t it conceivable that I could use this attack from the side to catch them directly in the face?” Kit asked her.
“If you did that you’d want to catch them in the jaw, in and of itself the move wouldn’t be very damaging, however, you could rattle your opponents brain to stun them for a second so that you could do another move to follow up,” Katrina theorized.
After Katrina it was supper time; Kit and Kisara cooked together tonight... he was getting better at this whole cooking thing, for the night Kisara had chosen Curry to eat. After supper it was Natasha’s turn.
“Daisuke... I need your help with something,” Natasha told the ninja master.
“Sure thing... what’re we doing?” Daisuke asked her as they went to the yard.
“Today we’re doing a demonstration of ground tactics; there is one particular move I want to teach Kit,” Natasha responded.
“Ok... how will I know when you’re going to go for it?” Daisuke asked her.
“Oh... you’ll know,” Natasha answered cryptically.
They spent the next ten minutes attacking and defending in their demonstration, then Natasha went down hard. Daisuke approached her and attempted to position himself in a mount, at the last instant Natasha pulled her legs up around his waist and positioned herself in the guard. She leaned back so that Daisuke started to roll forward, but as he did she grabbed him by his left wrist and held it to the ground while she sat up onto her right elbow, from there she took her left arm up over his shoulder and locked it on her right wrist and laid back, to cap things off she switched her footing so that one leg was hook over his back and the other was hooked under his stomach. From this position she applied pressure to his shoulder by pulling up on his wrist. Daisuke couldn’t break the lock in her feet because any time he tried she would torque up on his arm and force his face to the ground.
“YOU BITCH! YOU SAID THIS WAS A DEMONSTRATION!” Daisuke shouted at her.
“NO ESCAPING THIS... NEXT TIME YOU DECIDE TO COME INTO MY ROOM KNOCK FIRST, ASSHOLE! I WAS CHANGING!” Natasha yelled at Daisuke. “Kit... this is called the Kimura lock... it’s almost completely inescapable if it’s locked in properly. As you can see I have myself positioned so that Daisuke can’t attack me with his feet or his dominant hand, and if you do it right you opponent will tap out,” Natasha told Kit calmly, as she continued to apply pressure, but Daisuke was too proud to tap out. “Or pass out,” she sighed as she finally untangled herself from him.
When the elder passed by he saw Daisuke lying on the ground unconscious. “He walked in on you again, didn’t he?” the elder commented with a chuckle.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Natasha answered, but her cheeks were rosy. “Anyway; Kit did you see how I did that? That’s the easiest way to lock it in, but it’s not the only way. I’ll spend some time showing you other ways. The most important thing about the Kimura lock is that you’re careful when you lock it in. As I said it’s almost completely un-breakable, but not inescapable. Most opponents will try to escape as you’re locking it in, if that happens you could be in trouble, the worst case scenario... I once saw a person try to put somebody in the Kimura lock, his opponent countered in a way that reversed the situation, and put him in the Kimura lock instead. He got beaten by the same move he tried to use,” Natasha explained to him carefully.
Their time wasn’t quite up yet when Kit finally managed to perform the technique, so Natasha set him to throwing the mannequin again.
Finally it was Denali’s turn to teach him. He had a grin on his face this time. “Katrina told me your little theory about using a jump spin hook kick from the side; if you can manage to modify that attack properly I can give you a move to use afterwards. Your opponent has to be stunned in order for it to work most of the time though. In Muay Borran we call it Hanuman Thayarn, it’s a flying knee. I’m going to teach you that today,” Denali told him.
“The difficult part about this is that you theorized using the kick from the side, so you’d have to get some seriously good timing to do this. What you want to do, is grab your opponent by the nape of the neck, base of the skull, or collar of his shirt and pull him forward as you jump, the idea is to put your knee pretty much any where in your opponents face, the bridge of the nose is my suggestion... this way it’s damaging, but if something happens the risk of killing the opponent is minimal,” Denali explained to him. “It’s dangerous to try on an opponent that isn’t off-balance or stunned because first of all you have no grounded foot, and second because it can leave you open if you miss. You can grab first and then jump, or you can jump first and then grab, but it’s almost imperative to the success of this technique that you secure your opponents head; other wise you end up missing your target and damage would be considerably reduced. For obvious reason I can’t demonstrate this one on a live target, so I got a practice dummy,” Denali continued. Needless to say that practice dummy didn’t survive the experience.
Kit and Denali worked on this new move for about thirty minutes, then they went on to hitting the gloves, with Denali instructing him every now and then to attempt the new technique.
Hitomi finished out the night with her neijia training, she taught him a double palm strike. Targeting primarily the chest, the idea of this hit was to get the power of both hands behind a single punch. She taught him that if he struck the shoulder instead he could turn an opponent almost 180 degrees around; it was more of a push than an actual punch.
After that Kit went up to his room, which was as far from what Daisuke had promised him as possible... Kit slept in a completely different wing of the dojo from the others; after training if he saw any of them it was out in the yard practicing their own moves. The only good news was that he was on the second story, so he could sit up on the window sill and look out at the yard or the city. It was strange but he was so far removed from the lights of the city that he could actually see the stars outside. He sat for a few minutes before he changed into his night clothes. He turned the light off as he rolled over on the futon they had provided him.
He had been lying there for a few moments when he heard a light tap at the door. He woke up and went to the door, but when he got there; it was empty, however there was a note on the floor. “Meet me at our secret place,” it said. It was written in Kisara’s personal handwriting.
The only thing he could remember doing in secret with Kisara was that first night of his training when she’d made food for him and he’d eaten it with her at the front entrance. He was pretty tired, but on the other hand... it was late, and Kisara wanted to see him alone... this could be good. When he got to the front porch there was another note written on the same paper, but this time all it said was “going up.” Kit took the hint to mean he was supposed to climb onto the awning.
Something struck him at that moment... he’d forgotten to call Ayano tonight. He couldn’t tuck her in like he used to, but usually everyday after his final lesson he’d call her and tell her good night. He thought about it for a moment, but whatever Kisara had to say was probably only going to take a moment.
He followed his clue up to the top of the awning. From there he found another clue. “Not enough... all the way,” it instructed him. The climbing got old fast, but when he made it to the top of the third floor, Kisara was stretched out over the clay tiles looking at the sky.
“What can I do for ya?” Kit asked her nervously as he lay down a few feet away.
“It’s hard to see the stars in the city; I saw you staring up at the sky from your window sill earlier and thought you might like some company,” Kisara answered him. For a moment they just lay there staring at the heavens.
“Did you know that the lights we see in the sky now... that’s not how the galaxy is now, but how it was millions and millions of years ago? It’s kinda sad to think that any one of these stars we see above us now might have died away before we were even born,” Kit told her after a moment.
“When I was a kid, uncle Perrin and I used to look at the stars together, he told me stories of them all... every one of them has a story. They were all great warriors in the past, and when a person finally reaches the point where they can fight with those that went before, they too get their own star,” Kisara told him.
“You’ve been with your uncle for a long time, huh?” Kit asked her. Kisara looked down for a moment before she nodded.
“As long as I can remember,” she answered.
“What happened to your parents?” Kit asked her curiously.
“Weird,” Kisara said almost as a side note.
“What?” Kit asked her suddenly.
“Most people ask me where my parents are... you ask what happened to them; that says something. I’ll answer the question if you will... what happened to your parents?” Kisara asked him.
“Alright... I ask what happened to them because I can’t imagine a parent having ANYTHING that matters to them more than their kids, and that’s because my parents died when I was still little,” Kit explained.
“I’m so sorry... I didn’t mean to open any old wounds or anything,” Kisara told him.
“Don’t be... I can’t remember them, kinda like you I guess,” Kit replied.
“Yeah... my parents died when I was young; afterwards my two uncles came and found me and my little sister. Uncle Perrin took me, and Renka, my sister, went with uncle Craig. I haven’t seen her in almost ten years now. She’s at Ryouzanpaku East training,” Kisara told him.
“I have a sister too, her name’s Ayano. In fact I should probably give her a call real quick... since our folks died I’ve tucked her in every night and truth is she’s having trouble adjusting to the fact that I’m not around as much any more... do you mind?” Kit asked her.
“Do- do you think it’d be ok if- if I talked to her?” Kisara asked him nervously.
“Sure... I’m sure she’d love to talk to you... one moment,” Kit said as he pulled his phone out. It only rang once, Ayano must have been waiting by the phone.
“Kit... is that you?” she asked in a sleepy voice.
“Yeah it’s me munchkin, sorry I forgot to call you sooner, how are you?” Kit asked her. He enjoyed his time at the dojo, but at times like this his heart ached to see his little sister again.
“I’m ok, since you left the staff has been really nice... we go to the park more often; I even made a few friends,” Ayano answered with a little yawn.
“Ayano, I’ve got a friend here that wants to talk to you too, so be nice to her ok?” Kit asked her softly.
“Ok big brother,” she said with another yawn. Kit passed the phone to Kisara, who looked somewhat tenderly at the phone.
“Hello?” Kisara asked softly, Kit had been whispering as he spoke to Ayano. She waited a moment before as she listened to something Ayano was saying. “Hello Ayano. My name is Kisara, your brother’s my best friend. I know it sounds kinda weird, but I was calling because I have a little sister all my own, but she lives on the eastern continent and so it’s hard to get a letter to her and they don’t have a phone there,” Kisara explained softly. She took on a different tone when she was talking with Ayano, she was delicate, sweet, and... feminine.
She listened to whatever Ayano was saying on the other line. She looked so happy for some reason, Kit supposed she probably equated talking to Ayano with talking to her own sister. “Oh I do VERY much, but... I do things to stay busy, and now that your brother is around things have gotten a little more exciting around here,” Kisara told her.
Ayano said something else and Kisara just sort of nodded into the phone. “I understand. Well, good night Ayano... I hope to meet you some day soon,” Kisara said into the phone, she waited a moment before handing the phone back to Kit.
“Hello?” Kit said into the phone.
“It’s really late and I’m tired big brother, so... I’m going to go to sleep now. Good night big brother. I love you,” Ayano said sleepily into the phone.
“Good night Ayano, I love you too. Be safe in school tomorrow and take good care of yourself... I worry about you all the time,” Kit told her quickly.
“I... worry... about... you... too,” Ayano told him, punctuating each word with another, deeper yawn.
“Alright, get to sleep kiddo,” Kit told her as he hung up the phone.
After that Kit began to ask Kisara behind a bunch of random stars. She told him that the north star was the great King Martian, and that thousands of years ago he had become so skilled with all weapons, that he had abandoned using them all together in favor of fighting unarmed, his skill was supposedly so unrivaled, that he was the first to ascend into the stars. According to the legend, the closer a warrior is to Martian, the better they fight. Finally they came to a grouping of stars that Uncle Perrin’s stories didn’t cover. There were seven stars in a tight cluster and two smaller stars were close to them.
“You know whose stars those are then right?” Kit asked her eagerly.
“Whose?” she asked.
“Well obviously the seven clustered stars are reserved for the masters here at Ryouzanpaku, and the two shrimpy ones... that’s me and that other student they have here,” Kit laughed.
“Other student... are you trying to say that you’re the number one around here?” Kisara asked as she elbowed him gently.
“No... I’d never say that... Daisuke would hunt me down, but as far as students go... I guess I could handle being number two,” Kit laughed.
“Hey... it’s getting late, and we’re gunna have to run for it again tomorrow... you might want to get some sleep,” Kisara suggested to him.
Kit thought about what she’d said for a moment. “I don’t want to run tomorrow... I’ll find Simon and see if we can’t settle this peacefully,” Kit told her as he stood up. They said their good nights and headed off to bed.