Canto 76 –Practicing Practical Practices
Ged had begun to feel at ease with the strange ninja powers he had absorbed by eating the Black Spider Leader while in the form of a dinosaur. He was a master of The Discipline now. Back on Earth in the time before travel between the stars, this Discipline had been known as K’ung Fu. The Black Spider Leader had mastered the jump-kicks of WuShu and the graceful, swift hand-to-hand combat known as Wing Chung. Because the skill had been trained into The Black Spider Leader’s muscle memory, Ged had absorbed it whole, even if he did not have the philosophies that were supposed to go with it. One thing he liked about it, though, was that it allowed him to defeat and overpower an opponent without doing permanent damage. Ged had never loved killing the way Trav Dalgoda loved it. He always preferred the bloodless victory, whether over man or beast. The prey was always to be honored and respected. And the prey was not to be stalked if it was not capable of self-defense.
In the heart of the Celestial Dragon was a large, gym-like room that was perfect for giving students lessons in the art of the Discipline. It had a soft, forgiving floor, plenty of room, and a pair of bathing pools that provided purified water for drinking or bathing. It was in this room which Ged now called the Practice Center that he was trying to impart his skills to Shu Kwai, Junior, Billy Iowa, and Rocket Rogers. The Phoenix and Hassan Parker sat at the side, both cross-legged, watching with great interest.
“The simplest form of this move is a shield, making it an effective block to the offensive strikes I have shown you,” said Ged, demonstrating an arc of the right arm in a circle to his right side.
“You know,” said Phoenix, “Master Bres taught Alec and me a very similar stroke, but it led to a killing strike to the neck or groin.”
Ged looked grimly at the red-haired boy. “I prefer not to attach that sort of thing to this move, if you don’t mind.”
“Oh, I don’t mind. I think I prefer your way,” said Phoenix with a smug grin. “It will prolong the battle and make things much closer. You know, more challenging.”
“It allows you to protect yourself without killing,” reminded Ged. The other boys all looked at him with questioning faces.
“If Alec were here, he’d say it protects you better to end it quickly. Bres would say that the kill is the only worthy goal.”
“I would rather not be compared to Bres, if you don’t mind.”
Phoenix smiled a more genuine smile. “You don’t have to convince me, sensei. You are much better at this than the new Black Spider Leader. It is because your motives are so much purer than his, I think.”
Ged allowed Billy Iowa to try an offensive strike. Four times he deflected it easily. The move worked.
“Practice with your partner,” said Ged.
Shu Kwai paired himself with Rocket. Junior squared off with Billy. All four of them were dressed simply in loin covers and tabai boots. Rocket also wore his ever-present cowboy hat. Ged watched bare arms and legs flashing as they worked on the technique. All four boys were distinctly different from each other. Shu’s skin was yellow-orange in the Gaijinese manner. Rocket was a pale peach color like Ged himself. Billy was Indian bronze, while Junior was blue. Still, Ged couldn’t help but marvel at how they meshed together whenever they tried to accomplish the same goal.
“You know,” said Ged, “It is our differences that make us strong as a whole. We are blessed by being different, complementing each other.”
Phoenix laughed. “Is that wisdom, sensei?”
“I hope it is,” said Ged, somewhat sheepishly. It wasn’t easy to tell if he’d really won Phoenix over or not. The boy was more dangerous than the others, his Galtorrian lizard eyes so much harder to read.
Suddenly there was a loud fwooping noise. Two more students appeared in the Practice Center. They were both naked and connected to each other in the most embarrassing way possible. It was a deeply blushing Alec Songh with a writhing, moaning Jadalaqstbr held in his arms.
Ged was a little shocked, to say the least.
“What is going on here?” asked Shu Kwai, immediately incensed at what he saw. Rocket and Billy couldn’t help but giggle. Junior looked on with fascination.
“Ooops!” said Alec. “I guess it’s pretty obvious what is going on.” He pulled away from the girl, trying to cover his embarrassment with his hands. “What I’m wondering is how we ended up here?”
As young Jackie came to her senses again, she couldn’t help but blush deeply also. “I guess I lost control of my power. I’m so sorry, Alec.”
“Hmm,” said Ged. “I believe this is a breakthrough, although I would’ve preferred to find it out a different way.”
“What do you mean, sensei?” asked Shu Kwai.
“Well, we did not know before it was possible for a Psion like Jackie to teleport two people,” said Ged. “We need to know if it can be done again.”
“I’m sorry, sensei,” said Jadalaqstbr. “I was so overpowered by a new experience that I didn’t know what I was doing. My inner eye activated almost by itself.”
“Can you teleport back to the room you were in, get your clothes on, and both come back here again?”
“I don’t know,” said the embarrassed girl. “Do you think we have to be doing the same thing on the way back?”
“Yes!” said Rocket. “Try that again!”
“No,” said Ged. “Hold onto him and try to take him with you.”
The girl gingerly took hold of Alec’s arms again. The fwooping sounded again and the two students were gone as suddenly as they had come.
“Should you have let them go like that?” asked Shu Kwai. “Don’t you think they need to be punished for what they were doing?”
Ged shook his head. Perhaps Shu was right. Still, who was Ged to judge the guilt of others in this area? “We cannot punish them for being humanoid. I will talk with Alec about it, but it is really a thing between their consciences and themselves.”
In a few more moments, the two children reappeared, this time fully clothed from head to toe. It was obvious they had felt quite mortified by their experience. Jadalaqstbr had demonstrated before that teleporting with clothes on was not difficult.
“Before the lectures begin,” said Alec with a frown, “I want to tell you, sensei, that I love her. I am not just defying you. And, Shu, it’s none of your frakking business what Jackie and I do.”
“I love him too, sensei,” said Jadalaqstbr. “He didn’t make me do anything I didn’t want to do.”
Ged nodded. “We need to have a private discussion. This class is dismissed for now.”
The boys all filed away, Alec and Jackie staying behind to face the music. Alec had a look of determined defiance on his face. The music would have to be about birds and bees, and right and wrong. Ged knew what a parent and teacher would have to say in this situation, his mother had once had this discussion with Ham and Ged. It wasn’t going to make things any easier for any of them, though, especially Ged.