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Old 12-04-2015, 04:44 PM
RVM45 RVM45 is offline
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Chapter Three

Neat turned out to have only “Good” power level. Even with amplified strength, the shorter lever arms in his child-sized arms, legs, neck and torso placed him at a disadvantage. He compensated for his size to a large degree by being superhumanly agile. He could perform tumbling maneuvers that would baffle Olympic gold metal gymnasts.

What really made him worth adding to the team though was his skill with animals.

In Spoil Airgetlám’s day Murim seemed so full of animal handlers that their legs were sticking out the windows. They even had different names for them; “rat runners”, “bat fliers”, “raven runners”, “crow wranglers” and so on. Nowadays an Adept might live and die and never meet an animal jutsu user.

Neat had six ravens under his control as well as eight rats. He told me that the modest numbers were all that he could keep control of. He did tell me that he had spares bred from his bloodlines, but he had never shared any sort of connection to them—except to subtly alter them in vitro.

That seemed unimpressive compared to the large number of ravens, crows, rats and cats that Spoil Airgetlám and his aides had once fielded. You know what the old proverb says though:

“In the kingdom of the deaf a man with a runny nose rides a bicycle.”

Everyone might be deaf in our modern world, but Neat had a very runny nose—not literally. That would be off-putting in the extreme.

We trained with Neat added to our team for five more weeks. I insisted that everyone load up on chi-building substances: ginseng of course—though the American variety that they say isn’t as potent as the Oriental variety, “tea” made from sassafras, or dandelion root or sarsaparilla root. We consume ground ginger root, ground deer antlers harvested while in the velvet and all kinds of other stuff that tasted nasty, gave us heartburn and caused us to pass great amounts of foul-smelling gas.

It was a form of homeopathy. If you want to be ready to accept a huge influx of chi the best strategy is to store as much chi as humanly possible beforehand.

*************** ******************* ***************************

My team sat around a round wooden table—not as in “Knights of…” This table wasn’t so grandiose and there was no symbolism intended. It just happened to be the table that was in the small meeting room the Greens had assigned us.

I had laid one of the chi-drops on the small plastic saucer located in front of everyone. There was a twenty-ounce Coke beside the saucer to help wash the gumdrop down. I had already put the chi-drops out beforehand. There was no reason for anyone on my team to know how many chi-drops that I possessed or to now what sort of enchanted container they resided in.

Of course Neat knew. There was no help for that.

“Dudes, it is like: eating one of these chi-drops is inherently risky. Nonetheless there are better jutsu to deal with them since Spoil Airgetlám first ate one. I’ve been diligently building y’all’s chi reserves with those bitter herbs—and I’m sure some of y’all hate me for it. Also, these drops are very old. Well, comparatively old. The writings seem to indicate that while they don’t get weaker with age, the shock mellows out…some,” I told them.

“Do you know what these chi-drops are worth?” Neat asked.

Neat had a very raspy and “froggy” voice.

“Not really,” I replied.

“I can sell each of these for a half-million dollars apiece right now. If you’re willing to wait a week to ten days I can probably triple that figure,” Neat croaked.

“I suppose that you think that I should choose money over my teammate’s welfare? If we’re in a life or death rumble—how much is having one of them fifteen or twenty percent stronger worth?” I said.

Neat seemed very amused while the others looked a bit surprised.

“Nah, I just wanted you and your friends to understand the price of what you’re doing for them—and the potential value,” Neat said.

“Friends, one of these is said to contain as much chi as a reasonably talented and diligent Adept could accumulate in a normal human lifetime. Not all the chi that he could use, lose or waste during a lifetime, but how much he managed to accumulate,” I said.

I held a drop aloft.

I told them:

”The Powers That Be seem to be stepping up their pogrom against Adepts and especially the remaining enclaves. At least three of y’all are Kekkei Genkai. They’re really after us. If we want to oppose them, we don’t have time to paint by the numbers. Remember the Navajo poem:

“’Earth and Sky Last Forever.
‘The Aged are Poorly Off.
‘Do Not Be Afraid.
‘Every Day is a Good Day to Die.’’’

That poem was attributed to the Navajo and unlike the Apache or the Comanche; the Navajo weren’t particularly celebrated as warriors.

I added an old proverb that I’d picked up somewhere:.

“Live If You Can.
“Die if You Must.
“Always, Always Cheat!”

“Friends, eat your chi-drop. Save it for later. Sell it. Give it away. Shoot it out of a slingshot at a squirrel. It is yours to use or lose as you see fit. Those who would, eat one with me now,” I said.

**************** ********************* ******************************

There wasn’t much to tell. Everyone ate a chi-drop. We all spun like supercharged tops for several days. I suppose that its comparable to chinging with a super powerful stimulant that just doesn’t stop.

Vee could now throw seven spawn. They were still just “good” but they were on the very threshold of becoming elite. Weiner had five spawn now. They were still in the “poor” category but their power had shifted higher. Weiner had edged over into “good” and he barely stayed “good” even after spawning.

Weiner’s ability finally manifested. He was a healer—a rather weak healer to start off, but a healer nonetheless.

If you had a cut that would have required stiches, but it wasn’t much if any more than skin deep, Weiner could put it back together like closing a zipper. Weiner could stop the bleeding of minor arteries and veins. He couldn’t stop the bleeding from a severed carotid or femoral artery but he could slow the blood loss down eighty or ninety percent.

He could compress the first three or four weeks’ worth of healing into a fraction of a second for first degree and some relatively minor second degree burns and he could ramp the healing of a broken bone up to day seventeen or eighteen.

He’d also ratcheted his base strength fifteen or twenty percent higher.

Sardou still had two spawn but they had passed well over into “Elite” and her own power level was much higher. My two spawn also became about twenty percent more powerful. Their mental speed and the range of their visual acuity zone grew about ten or fifteen percent. My own physical strength grew steadily.

************* **************** ******************************

“My name is ‘Jason’. I’m one of the top-rated bare-knuckle fighters in America. I hear that you’re looking for sparring partners. I’m your man. I can’t wait to try my strength against yours,” he said.

I didn’t have his exact measurements when I first met Jason. He turned out to be only five-nine but he weighed 311. He was wearing blue denim bib overalls, whit Converse high-topped tennis shoes and a white “T” shirt.

“You’re not an Adept,” I said.

“I’ve heard the word,” Jason said.

He pronounced it: “Here-ed.”

“I’ve never been perzactly sure what it means. I guess that rules out my being one,” Jason said.

“How did you hear about me and my team and how did you get here?” I asked him.

“He’s my cousin,” Neat said.

“Don’t gawk. I may be Kekkei Genkai but that doesn’t mean that everyone in my family inherits the ability. Jason is from my mother’s side of the family and the power comes from my fathers lineage,” Neat explained.

“That begs the question. How did he hear about me and my team and how did he get through the mental labyrinth around the alcove?” I said.

“It isn’t exactly top secret that you’re hiding and training in the Bowling Green Enclave—at least not in Murim circles. He overheard me talking to the chief. Chief encouraged me to come here. He thought that it would be a good fit. Jason wanted to come too but I told him ‘No!’ You see how much good that it did,” Neat said.

He broke off to glare sourly at Jason.

“As for how he got here—he’s got a tank mind. You know—like the hacker God Ganesh. He breaks through all barriers. Give him sufficient motivation and I have no doubt that he could find his way to Macersville,” Neat said.

“Spoil Airgetlám said that he met Odin and a big stone Buddha. He said that Odin was just an extremely old and powerful Adept. Is Ganesh real too?” I asked.

“How in the seven burning Hells would I know that?” Neat almost shouted.

“Well it’s nothing to get mad about dude. Jason, what is your motivation?” I said.

“I just like to try myself against the best,” Jason said.

“Well then, lets see what you’ve got,” I told Jason.

Jason paused long enough to put a mouthpiece in his mouth and he came at me swinging.

Jason boxed Orthodox. The left jab followed by a straight right is boxing’s most basic combo. Then there is the classic left jab, straight right followed by a left hook. Both the initial left jab and the terminal left hook can be doubled.

You don’t want to pose in one spot like a mannequin so you move and reset every two to five punches.

Jason had good head movement. He added a good right uppercut and a right hook to his repertoire. He also swung his elbows, made an effort to butt heads and continually tried to step on my feet.

He was fast and he was very powerful and he could take a punch.

He was a handful without blacking out. After a couple of minutes I’d had enough and I turned my eye power on—in other words I blacked out.

It was easy to evade Jason in my black space. I had no desire to seriously hurt him so I just evaded his punches by narrow margins and tripped him up every which way.

“You’re very good,” I told him. “Lets take a breather. Do you want to see what I’m doing to you?”
After a moment’ rest I called Weiner over.

“Spar with him. Don’t hurt him but protect yourself. Halfway in he’s going black,” I ordered.

“Why?” Weiner asked.

“I want him to experience fighting in the black,” I replied.

When Jason blacked out he laughed in childlike glee.

“How do you do that?” Jason demanded.

“Something I inherited from my mother. You probably can’t do the black out unless I’m somewhere nearby. Almost everyone has jutsu that they can master. Mastering any jutsu is very satisfying. If you join my team and study to be an Adept we’ll find a jutsu or even two or three for you,” I told him.

****************** ******************** ****************************

Something had things in an uproar on the outside. The laws hadn’t rounded up boxcar loads of citizens like this in over seventy years. All martial arts were outlawed. Almost all guns were outlawed. Anyone accused of being an Adept—however flimsy the pretext—was likely to be arrested and tortured.

I thought Jason could be an asset even as he was but we didn’t have much time to wait on him.

He’d been a baseball pitcher in high school and he picked up all sorts of throwing skills very rapidly. I’d thought that a good fastball pitcher would be very stubbornly strong handed but Jason managed to master weak hand throwing so rapidly that he made me envious.

I was in a rush to get Jason to the point that he could accumulate chi and bulk up and strengthen his chakra tree even if we were forced to run and disappear into the underground.

The Greens had audio versions of the first three of Spoil’s tradecraft books. They also had some remarkable animations of the chakra tree system. It was almost like “Jutsu for Dummies.” Jason wasn’t a dummy but we needed to speed him along. Seeing the desired visualizations while wearing virtual reality goggles and hearing beat frequency audio tones piggybacked onto rousing musical scores shaved months off the first year one’s training time.

Three weeks in I presented Jason with a chi-drop. I explained what it was and the possible dangers. Was I reckless? Not so much because I could “see” that he was particularly resilient.

He ate a chi-drop and I ate one at the same time. There went a million dollars worth of artificial chi. Come easy-go easy.

Ten days later they had the Bowling Green Enclave surrounded on all sides. They had some sort of new device that gradually forced an opening—It just took a few days.

************* ***************** *******************

“Friends, it is like: the laws will be here soon. We haven’t been assigned any defensive posts because we’re not residents. I like these people a great deal without necessarily feeling duty bound to stand and go down with them. However the very best thing that we can do for our friends here is to mount an overwhelming counter attack at just the right moment.

“If we cut a swath through the center of the forces while they’re grouped in a wedge formation in preparation for an imminent breach of the barricade…

“We’ll rack up beaucoup hostile casualties. We will create a grand opening for those who wish to flee—including the old, the sick and children. And we’ll set their timetable back by days.

“And maybe—just maybe we’ll get an insight into how this enclave-buster works.

“Everyone who’s with me—eat a chi-drop. We should have about three days until we need to strike. Even if you’re not with me—you can still eat a chi-drop—or do whatever you want with it. It’s yours,” I told my team.

Eating two of the chi enhancers so close together would give me epic increases in chi. Jason too—but he had so much less chi to start with.

The Greens guesstimated that it would take about three and a half days until the barrier was breached. None of us would have time to fully assimilate and integrate the new wave of power that quickly—but like the home owner who’s just bought his first handgun and fired it twenty-five or fifty rounds on the range…

Sometimes just having it can make all the difference.

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