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Natasha Dubrovnik


Natasha stared down the hall. Her heart racing as she continued to hear noise and shouting coming from up ahead. She moved closer, it was a slow pace that she moved. She could feel her breath, she could feel the air going over her skin. She had no pheromones leaving her body. She had a completely different demeanor than normal. She stared as she got closer and closer, her finger twitching lightly on the trigger of the blaster. She turned to see Skylar and almost growled at her, "Hey... little girl, come on those who stay far behind find themselves shot all too often." she'd say moving forward again slowly her mind racing as she prepared herself. As she moved she went back there once again, it may have been something that she had said but she wasn't aware of it, she was back there for just a moment.

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"Come on Natasha. Those who stay far behind often find themselves shot!" A human man said.
"That doesn't make any sense." Natasha would bark back at the man.
"It really isn't young one, often times the people who stay in the back either get too comfortable and get attacked from their blindspot... or they wind up doing something that gets everyone to pay attention to them. Or even worse than that." The human turned around and pointed the gun at her as Natasha yelped and dropped her gun. "You make a noise and scare your team so they turn and shoot." he'd say with a grin. "Given that doesn't always happen. In fact that is probably less likely, but it's always a chance! That's why I say it little one. I don't want you to be the victim of chance."
" Hey! I am never going to be a victim!" Natasha yelled at the man, "besides one of these days i'll make my own rules and I won't have to listen to your dumb ones!"

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Natasha scoffed at the whole situation. Now she was quoting the geezer. She continued to walk towards the cargo bay she waas near the door now. She quickly turned into the bay to see the chaos, and the whole scene. She wasn't sure how to respond so she justtod there gun pointed in the general direction of the door. Her eyes darting from being to being to the.... that was a bomb, that wasn't just any bomb... "What in the hell is happening?!" she'd exclaim looking at it as it made it's way up the ramp. "What in the fucking... hell..." it was all she seemed to be able to get out before sighing realizing the situation was under somewhat control and seeing that Solace was here made her comfortable enough to holster her weapon. But the command by Solace made it obvious, they were leaving. She turned and if Skylar was there she would chuckle, " Well if you want to actually join nows a good time as any to ask the captain, 322." she'd say mocking Skylar once more as she seemed to relax in the doorway for a moment.

"Unless don't tell me you were expecting everyone on the ship to play child games and be enjoyable to be around, because if that was the case then you might as well leave... actually... if you stay too much longer without a decision..." she would lean in to whisper towards Skylar "They might just consider you a stowaway, and that wouldn't be good for anyone."

She would turn back and begin to walk into the cargo bay. That’s when the hangar doors opened and the blaster fire began to echo in the hangar. She saw the three walking the way of the ship. As she automatically pulled out the E-11 Blaster Rifle she had just holstered on her back. She would fire a couple pot shots back growling at the situation. She looked at the three and seeing the rotary cannon knew this wasn’t going to be good. She quickly took cover as the three began their attack. Grabbing a flash grenade from her belt she would yell to those on the ship, "This is gonna get loud and bright!." she said. It wasn’t like it was an actual explosion that could cause some issues but she saw little cover between the 3 beings walking towards them. The mandalorian and that rotary cannon were going to be an issue, a LARGE issue. She had been holding the flash bomb as it was charging to explode, couldn’t allow them much time to respond.

Throwing the bomb; she quickly took cover from it, waiting for the flash of the light that it would release and the loud sound it would emit. There was no actual danger in an explosion thankfully and it was in that moment she remembered once more.

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A large Mandalorian stood over a young Natasha, “Remember, when everything goes to shit, if you are in a fight, the fight always is decided by momentum.” The mandalorian set down a little toy it seemed as Natasha tilted her head at it. It was like a cradle with balls hanging from it all touching each other. He lifted one of the balls and let go as it smashed into the line of balls the ball on the other end of the line would then move up and back down crashing and making the original first one move again. Natasha seemed to watch it for a moment before looking at the Mandalorian. “In battle, often times things go like this toy, back and forth, back and forth. Do you know the deciding factor?” He would ask the young Zeltron.

Natasha shook her head.”The deciding factor is whose momentum in a fight lasts until the end. You see each side can fight and fight, and one side can even look like their winning as they go on the offensive. The issue is, all it takes is for their momentum to stop, then they are on the defensive themselves. Battle is all about stopping the momentum, stopping any ebb and flow and putting the other side on the defensive.” He would grab one of the balls as it raised itself up. “So that way when the other side has lost all momentum, yours….. Can destroy them” The Mandalorian’s second hand came crashing down on the toy as the whole thing broke.

Natasha looked at him her eyes wide as he leaned in, “When you find yourself on the defensive, you have to find a way to turn the tide… switch the opposing side from offense to defense, and once they are on their heels. You can crush them. Or get away.
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Natasha waited and waited and the second she heard the loud sound and saw the bright flash in her peripheral she would turn and begin to fire at the three that were approaching the ship, she would aim at the Mandalorian who was holding the rotary cannon. Her blaster rifle firing as she looked at those moving the bomb and shouted at them: " Move the bomb! Now!" She would growl before taking cover again, grabbing another flash grenade just in case they needed another one to throw off their opponents.
.
Natasha Dubrovnik


Natasha would smirk as she leaned back in her bed. When the door closed her smirk turned into a scowl and a frown. She shot up out of bed and headed towards the door but didn’t open it. Instead stared at it for a moment before turning to one of her cabinets with a lock on it. She opened it up and pulled out a wanted poster. It had Skylar’s likeness on it as she scowled at the poster: throwing it to the side. She would continue to rummage in this locker until she pulled out a small lockbox. She pressed her hand to the top of it. When it opened she pulled up another wanted poster out of the box. A grin on her face as she looked at it. Crumpling it in her hand she simply spoke “Oh soon… very soon.” she would put the poster back in the box as she grabbed some credits from it now and pocketed it. Standing up she closed the box and put it back into her locker far behind many other things.

Now she pulled out a large map and began to put it across her bed. It was a map of some building that had a large little area that was circled. Natasha began to take a look at the building making notes like ‘Drunk here’ and then ‘bait here’ different notes like that seemed scattered at every other room. She would continue to do that for a bit longer as she stood over it she hummed in thought: until the lights went off and the red lights turned on. She shot up unlocking her case at the foot of the bed she grabbed an explosive and then picked up her large blaster. Sighing she rolled her eyes. “Don’t tell me....” She walked towards her door and sighed once more. Realizing that she was never given a key to unlock even her own door when everything locked. “DAMN IT!” she yelled slamming a fist on the door. She walked back to her bed and grabbed her papers and maps and put it all back into the locker. She then just stood there pointing the blaster at the door. Her eyes glaring at the door waiting for anything to happen, expecting someone to burst through the door.

It took a few minutes and she finally heard the door unlock though. The lockdown protocol must have been lifted. She put the heavy blaster away; holstering it, and pulled out her E-11 Blaster rifle. She began to march towards the door. It would open and she began to move to the right, if Skylar was still there she would just see Natasha stepping out of the room with the blaster in her hand. “Move kiddo.” she’d say with a growl as she moved and walked right past Skylar. It was obvious the fun loving Natasha who had enjoyed fucking with this young woman was gone. There was something that seemed to have irked her and she was moving through the ship now looking for anyone who might not belong there. There was a whole different demeanor she didn’t even let out any type of pheromones as she walked by.

She was walking around the ship now. Every corner she checked before moving to the next. Every angle she moved her blaster over there. After all, she wasn’t aware of what was going on, she had been distracted with the young woman and then with her other plans she had been preparing. Moving closer and closer to the cargo bay she finally heard voices. She began to rush over there now blaster ready as she narrowed her eyes at the cargo door that must be about 100 meters still in front of her she slowed herself now slowly moving forward as to not just rush into something and get shot. It was something that she was very careful about. How she engaged and when she engaged. She looked around making sure she sped up her pace to get to a point where she knew that it would take her 1 second to jump into a space of cover in case there was actually someone who began to fire at her.

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Somewhere in the past:
A younger natasha fell to the ground as another woman had a gun to her face and soon about 12 more people began to walk towards her from all sides. She looked absolutely in shock almost as if she was going to get shot. “Let this be a lesson for you young one. Always be aware of your surroundings, don’t take a corner that you aren’t prepared to either fire or die when you take it. You have few choices in life, but how you fight whether it is with your brain or like a dumbass who acts like they have 100 people behind them: that is completely up to you.”

Natasha would sigh and then growl. “Next time! I’ll win and you will be on the ground with a gun in your face!” The entire group laughed at her as she slowly got up and began to laugh with them.
Natasha Dubrovnik

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Right after the landing:

Natasha was walking off the ship; as she did she would begin to move instantly away from the ship. There was no weapons that anyone could tell on her, and she seemed completely uncaring about wherever most of the crew went. She had been with them for 3 months, and as strong and mighty, and even; scary, they all seemed at times, she wasn't there to just follow them around. Her thought about their times together thus far as she walked away from the ship, thought about how she had been with them for 3 months. Not like that was some long time for her or anything: after all she had been with others for much longer than that. They were decent enough people though; obviously here to fulfill their own wants, and to stay just out of reach of the empire; not her usual crowd but they worked for what she was needing. She still got to travel, and do the jobs she was hired to do: her mobility has become limited but not to the point that she still didn’t get the job done.

Looking up she saw a ship taking off from port and grinned. Continuing to walk away Natasha looked around, a lot of people were starting to pay attention to her; a couple of them beginning to follow her, looking at the couple who had began to follow she shook her head. “No, no, no, dear.” she said with a grin, “You guys aren’t quite my type.” she would continue to walk away her leather like shorts grasping her shape and waist. The couple men that were following her were just there staring as she walked away, making sure they had something to look at while she walked away.

She watched from across the street at a Devaronian who was just walking out of the door of a gambling establishment. The man seemed to have a couple Twi`leks on both arms: they were decent looking but Natasha could only grin at the situation. No matter who they were, they were no match for her as a Zeltron. She would begin to walk towards the Devaronian. Releasing pheromones as she began to walk towards the Devaronian. It was all too easy, the second that the Devaronian got hit with the wave she was purposefully releasing he would wave the two Twi`leks off. Standing up straight and seeming to try and flex to look stronger he began to walk towards Natasha. Natasha continued to act like nothing was happening: her arm slipping into her pocket just for a moment as she acted as if she was just stretching for a moment, at that moment she stumbled forward and fell right into the Devaronian’s hands.

“Oh, i’m so sorry! How clumsy of me.” she’d say as she looked up at the Devaronian who was looking completely entranced with her. Natasha lifted her arm slightly as she did they would see some of his blood. Where he hand landed. “Oh no. I seemed to have scratched you with my nail.” she would move her head upwards as she got closer and closer to his face.

The Devaronian smiled, “You can always make it up to me.” his eyebrows raising as he spoke, her head continued to move up towards his as their lips would meet for a moment as her hand would move into her pocket once more and her fingers wrapped around his arm as they kissed. At the end she would cough for a moment standing straight up and straightening her clothes; “Once again, I really am sorry.” Natasha said as she pushed a hand on his chest and gave him a smile. The Devaronian looked in absolute bliss and like he wanted more; but as Natasha walked away he just stood there watching her. A few moments later as he continued to watch he would begin to follow after her, almost as if he was entranced.

It wasn’t more than a few steps that the man took before he suddenly stopped and began to grab at his heart and head: it was after that he simply crumpled to the ground and died. Natasha looked back at the empty area where the man now laid. She grinned only for a moment before walking away completely; putting a small syringe away and dropping the needle on the ground. The first was a great numbing agent; the second however, needed to do more than just prick his skin. Continuing to walk down an isle and she would see a man in a hood. “It’s done.” she would say as the man held up a large bag. Natasha took it and would nod and walked right by the man; as he walked the other way.

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Natasha would walk back toward the way of the ship, no longer having interest in this area of the planet at least, moving swiftly and this time without stopping, she would eventually get into the cantina that the others were in, she did nothing more than order a single drink, slam it and then walk up to a woman who seemed rather entertained. From what, Natasha had no idea; but rather than go crowd her own crew and join them she figured she’d make a new friend.

Sitting next to this woman (Skylar) Natasha plopped her bag of credits down on the table as she grabbed a few more and tossed them to the table. “Two drinks, one for me, and one for my friend here.” she’d say. Looking over to the woman Natasha seemed to tilt her head, “You know. I was going to just sit here and bullshit with you, but…” she began to lean in closely her tight shirt giving very little to the imagination if Skylar were to look down. She’d hum in a gentle tone, “You look… oddly familiar, have we met before?”

Natasha seemed to ask the question almost rudely as she was invading Skylar’s personal space, almost as if it didn’t exist. Her hands seemed to stay on the table, one of then rubbing her thumb on the glass she had already drank from. The other gently laying on top of the bar top. Her eyes seemed to squint for a moment as if trying to tell exactly where she had seen this woman before. “What’s your name?” Natasha, sounded more intrigued than polite with the question, making it obvious that it wasn’t asked purely for idle conversation; rather, there was a purpose behind it.



Alex stood across from another man in the ring, this man looked about 50 years old, he had greying hair on his head and his beard. The crowd roared as the announcer would yell in Chinese. The Cameras zooming around the room. Here they were, the second round was about to begin and Alex would be as calm as he could be. Jumping forward he would begin with three quick strikes, aimed at the stomach, the head and the chest, all three were blocked. The old man suddenly jumped over Alex’s head hitting him on the temple with two good shots, the second he landed he tried to sweep Alex’s feet. Alex jumped over the leg sweep while turning. Using his momentum he brought a foot around to kick the old man in the face. The crowd cheered. But what they didn’t see was the chi that both men had released. The kick had been almost countered by this older mans chi. He had his more developed from years of fighting. But Alex wasn’t ready to give up just yet.

He would switch stances as he leaned his torso back, as the man came up with palms open feigning attacks to the head. Alex wouldn’t even bite. He simply jumped back, the old man landing where Alex was originally, but he wasn’t quick enough for Alex. Alex launched himself after landing, planting a foot right into the man’s chest sending him stumbling backwards. Following it up with a fist to the head and then to the gut had the old man keeling over. Grabbing his head and throwing a knee up Alex would feel himself connect right on the man’s face. The man flew backwards and hit the ground. The bell rang and the crowd went wild.

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Later:
Alex laid on his bed eyes closed. He missed it, although he had fun at events like this he missed the idea of training someone who was unruly, but most importantly he missed just having company. He would call his girlfriend but she was asleep long ago. As for anyone else, he wasn’t the type to cheat nor was he the type to go and do promiscuous things. That’s when he heard a knock on the door. Walking over and opening he would see a tall man standing over him in a suit with three men behind him,

The man spoke in Chinese, but Alex understood him plainly. “In the next round you will be in the semi-finals. My clients have a lot of money on that fighter, enough money to know where you are sleeping. If you throw the match you can get a share of the profit… if you don’t… We will kill you.” It was a loose translation but Alex could tell that that is what was being said. Alex shook his head as he looked at the 3 men behind the already tall man in a suit. He saw that each were flashing sub-machine guns. Alex would shake his head at them. “Go fuck yourselves.” he would say as he took a deep breath and throw a punch right for the man’s chest. He let his chi explode with the punch sending the man flying into the other three. Alex would walk out as they were struggling to get up and kick each one in the face to knock them out.Quietly and calmly walking back to the hotel room he would pick up the phone and call the police, knowing that depending on who these guys were involved with might have the police in their hands too.
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An hour later

Alex stayed laying in bed as he was reading some type of book, after dealing with all that chaos he was just happy to be in a relaxed state. That’s when the phone rang. Looking over he got up and picked it up. It was his old master. His eyes shot open at the news, he didn’t say anything he simply hung up the phone as he cursed in multiple different languages. “What the fuck. How am I going to find a small American girl in all of China?!” he exclaimed. He lowered his head as he thought about Nicky and her special powers, how it would help her basically go anywhere she wanted because she wouldn’t get tired. He needed to make some phone calls. He wasn’t technically allowed to leave and not show up to a match by order of his contract. Otherwise he would be searching for Nicky. But if the police came after him, he would wind up in jail, or worse and that wouldn’t help her at all. He had to rely on the few people he knew to search for her.

This still open?

Somewhere in China

Alex would wave at the group who was seeing him off including Nicky. He was going to be gone for about a week in a special tournament for martial arts masters. He would hop in the cab at the bottom of the stairs and be off. His first thought was about Nicky, how was she going to react now that he was gone. He was worried, he knew his master would be harsh on any punishments but if she got into a fight she might wind up having to rebuild parts of the temple just do to the sheer fact of her condition. He would shake the thought from his head as he grinned while looking out the window at the mountain like area around them. "She will be fine." he said to himself as the cab driver looked back and raised an eyebrow at him.
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In Beijing

Not too long after that he would find himself back in Beijing and in a hotel. Throwing his stuff down he would sigh. From the moment he had gotten to the hotel he had been bombarded with reporters, most of which thinking that he did not understand Chinese, so most would try to give him some half-assed attempt at English. But that was to be expected; after all, this hotel was where he was going to be having the tournament.All fighters welcome, 3183600.13 Chinese Yuan for the winner of the whole thing. Roughly about 500,000 dollars if converted. Alex sighed as he thought about the tournament, this wouldn't be like the tournament in his dojo where people with close to no skill came in and got destroyed or people who had some type of power would come in. These were mostly masters of a martial arts. A few up and comers who thought themselves strong enough to try, but they would be weeded out in the first round. A few names were familiar to him but ultimately, Alex had been to tournaments like this. Everyone knew Chi; everyone was a master of it. This wasn't going to be a cakewalk at all. Not to mention he would be put on TV, something about that always made him nervous but he shook the image from his head as he checked his phone and saw the text I'm rooting for you, baby. Do well. smiling at that he chuckled, how she was willing to just let him go to China with a random teenage girl to train her was beyond him.
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(Flashback time!)
"Go ahead and take her darling. I think it would be good for you and from the sounds of it, it would be good for her.' Alyssa stood at about 5 foot 8 inches. She had long blonde hair and toned muscle at 24 she was definitely younger than Alex, but she was working on her Doctorate already to get into the medical field. She wore a long black dress that seemed just slightly too tight and showed off every inch of her curves. Alex sighed as he sat down on the couch. "What if I'm not the right person though? What if she literally gets nothing out of it."

Alyssa walked over to him, "Listen, you are a great young man. You have a good head on your shoulders, and you are the calmest person I know in the worst situations. She will get attached to you, even if she doesn't want to admit it. Besides, what teenager doesn't want to learn how to blast a hole in a wall?"

Alex grinned at the comment, "True enough, most people want to be able to do that even after they are a teenager. Well, I will need to go to a tournament since I won't be able to charge my students full price while I'm gone. Shit. That means I have to win.. for us."

Alyssa shook her head, 'Hush, you do your best. Just don't kill anyone.' Alyssa said before giving him a wink and then leaning down to grab at his hand. "Now come on, or we will be late for our reservation."
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Alex grinned and shook his head at how lucky he was. A knock on the door as a man spoke in broken English. Alex couldn't even hear what the guy was saying. But he knew what was being said, he was getting a 10 minute warning to his first round. Getting up he jumped up and down a couple times yelling at the door. "I'll be down in a moment." he would say before heading to the bathroom to wash his face. "First round is always easy." he said to himself.
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(1 hour later)
The TV cameras were circling around the ring as Alexander looked across at his opponent. A smaller Chinese man who would charge at Alexander fists flying high in an open palm one coming for his face another coming for his ribs. Alex would throw one hand up to smack at the man's wrist, and the other down to hit at his other arm's forearm. Deflecting both away from him. Alex would follow up with a kick to the stomach, then to the hip , following it up once more with a kick to his chest. The man stumbled backwards he looked like he had been getting beaten up for awhile with bruises over his face and body. He would try to make a move but Alex leaping forward would plant a punch into the man's chest once more, causing him to stumble backwards. Grabbing at the man's hair Alex pulled him down and kneed him in the face. When the knee hit a few on lookers could see the little bit of chi release that Alex had allowed. The knee would send the small man off of his feet and hitting the ground hard on his back. The crowd roared as the ref blew a whistle and the cameras zoomed in on Alex who looked completely unscathed. The announcers were yelling something in Chinese, but to Alex it didn't matter he was just wanting to move on to an actual challenge.

Banner credit to Nitemare Shape. Thanks Boss!
And


Two days later, just after dawn


Nicky paced through the ancient stone halls of the monastery quickly, bare feet slapping across the stones and echoing loudly. Her sweatshirt had long become uncomfortably restricting, so she was down to a borrowed set of loose pants and a tank top. While she walked, she held out in front of her a large tome, retrieved from the small library under promises to be very careful with the old parchment. It was a book only in the loosest sense, more a series of scrolls bound at one end, with a thick lacquered wooden cover to protect the silk inside. She had it open to the fourth scroll, having memorised the first three already. Each one held diagrams and instructions for part of the form she had expressed interest in learning, and in the entirety of the fourteen hours she had held it, it had never left her possession. Sometimes she thought that not having to sleep had its advantages.

She arrived back at the training hall her and Alex had been using. She wouldn’t have left, but she had insisted that she at least eat something, as weeks without food, though not having a tangible effect on her, drove her nuts. Accordingly, she had breakfasted with the rest of the monks, listening to the low chatter of morning conversation in a language she didn’t know while staring at the scrolls in front of her. Now back in the hall, a piece of dried fish still sticking out of her mouth like a lollipop, she barged across the room and set the book down on the lectern she had borrowed for just such a purpose, back off a few feet, and settled into her breathing exercise.

It had taken a while to beat into her head that, while she didn’t need to breathe, the chi wouldn’t flow without air, but now she was circulating regularly. It helped that the scent of old stone and nature was among her favourites.Finishing her breathing, she began the series of intricate movements shown in the scroll, correcting herself whenever it felt like she might be off somehow. It had taken remarkably little time to get her motions smoothed out, though she still needed correction when she didn’t understand something, especially since she couldn’t read the chicken scratch in the scrolls, only see the illustrations. Soon, though, her instructor and translator would arrive and she could begin in earnest for the day. It might irk her slightly that he had to sleep, but she refrained from commenting, at least in part because she was too engrossed in what she was doing.

Alex would have spent most of his past few days with Nicky, making sure everything she was doing was exactly as it needed to be with little change in form. He seemed at times especially hard on her when she made mistakes, almost as if he was expecting perfection at the very start. His punishments usually had to deal with some sort of physical exercise, not because it would hurt or be a pain for her, but because he knew for her it would be mundane and boring.

This morning he had woken up and was told about her having the ancient texts he would have a grin across his face when he saw her at breakfast with it. There were 12 masters in total, but Alex was offered a seat at their table as they watched over the monks. He would understand any word he had heard, the language was pretty much his first after all. After breakfast he seemed to take his time meditating as if he was becoming one with the entire area around him once more. When he felt he was finished he would walk toward the training room and close the door behind him. “Okay, let’s see it Nicky.” he sounded almost like he was halfway kidding, but he really wanted to see her master chi in such a short time, he was hoping to see some sort of flow to it. If she wanted to show him anything else; now was the time.

She almost didn’t seem to hear him, but her movements suddenly switched, gracefully shifting into her neutral stance. A small breath out escaped through her lips, her eyes closed, and she fished the little ball out of her pocket. She placed it into her right palm, keeping her hand open and rolling it in between her ring and middle fingers, then began to move again. This time, though, it was nothing out of the books or anything he had taught her. Two days ago she had realised she could feel the chi flow, even if she didn’t have any control over it, and had started toying with stances and moves while everyone else was sleeping, experimenting with how the flow shifted as she did. Now, she started into what looked almost like a water dance, though she didn’t actually know that term at all.

Her arms swept out in a wide circle, palms out, and then rapidly spun in until they were pressed together at her chest. Her left foot left the ground, spinning her in a single circle before she used the momentum to stomp the ground, at the same time thrusting her right hand out and letting out a loud shout. And the little ball flung out from her fingers and thwacked against the wall almost twenty feet away with a very loud thud, rebounding like a stone and leaving a chip out of the wall.

Nicky returned to her neutral stance, then her eyes flicked open and grinned at Alex. ”So I think I get it. A little, at least. I still dunno how to do what you do, but I can feel it, anyway.” Under her breath, low enough she thought he wouldn’t hear, she added, ”First thing I’ve felt in a long time, too.”

Alex would look with an almost confused look on his face as she did her form. A grin slowly growing on his face as he watched her throw the ball. “Good, excellent in fact. You will learn to do what I do, but this shows me your body is starting to get used to releasing your chi. You are already miles ahead of 80% of the fighters in this world. Let’s see if you can get farther.” He would reach into his pocket and pull out what looked to be a balloon that had yet to be filled up. With it a bag of them. Alex would walk out of the room and turn the corner where there was water and fill up 5 balloons with water. Coming back he would place them down. “ Learning to disperse your chi is just the first step, now you must learn to concentrate it into a single point. Grab one of these.” he himself would pick one up and hold it in his hand. “Pop the balloon with your chi. After this we will work on control of chi, because we won’t want to get into how you can completely do what I did without control first. Otherwise your Chi could come out as a danger to others.” He would look at the balloon and without even seeming to touch it the entire thing popped water splattering everywhere.

“ If you focus on releasing chi through one spot you will find that you can easily pop something like a water balloon, after you pop a water balloon, you will work on crumbling rocks.” his eyebrows would raise as if he was expecting her to make some snarky comment towards him.

Nicky watched him blow apart one balloon without seeming to move, and her eyes were intense as she studied every facet of what he had done, though she couldn’t actually see anything. She listened as he gave his instruction, then nodded once and began staring at the next balloon. Her breathing changed, becoming a slow intake followed by a rapid series of tiny breaths out. Internally, she could feel her build up, but without her form, she had no idea how to release it, if she was being honest. Still, he had done it, so she could too. He wasn’t an alien or anything. So she stood, staring like she intended to develop laser eyes, at the balloon in front of her. Her fists began to clench, but still nothing happened.

Alex watched her intently, his directed his chi to his eyes so he could see her chi better and how it was flowing. “If you need to do you movements that’s fine for now, just know eventually you will be forced to not do you movements. What will you do if you are trapped with no space for your arms? Allow the chi to move through your body, imagine it like a river, and you are opening the dams from your inner being into your physical body and then out of your body.” He would continue to watch her and a few students who were passing by looked on in amazement that she had already gotten to the point of the water balloons.A few of them would speak in chinese about helping her learn a few tips and tricks they had learned, but they would do it when Alex left.

Nicky nodded again, and then immediately stepped back two paces. Hopping onto her left foot only she did a series of spins, right leg only coming down to push off the ground at the end of each turn. The spins carried her scant inches forward, but she began to pick up the pace until, just outside of the range where she could simply kick, she lashed out with a shout and a roundhouse kick. Although she didn’t pop any of them, all four vibrated intensely for a few seconds. The last one on the row had two pinholes that were now streaming out water slowly, where the pressure had been just enough to tear a bit of the rubber but not enough to rupture the whole balloon’s surface.

Nicky let out a growl of frustration, and turning to Alex, she noticed the other students muttering to each other and looking at her. ”Hey, don’t make fun of me, you bastards! I just got here, I can’t do all this shit in one week!” Her face turned bright scarlet.

Alex would look to the students who seemed to tilt their head at her for yelling at them. “They were talking about helping you, but I can't blame you. You don't know Chinese. They were trying to be quiet so I didn't hear them. It’s not allowed here for students to help someone with their training in the first 3 weeks.” Alex would sigh as he picked up one of the water balloons and held it out for her to grab again. “Try to imagine this, imagine yourself breaking out of a small cardboard box, but only in one direction, then imagine letting your chi flow that way as well.” he knew it was a hard task, this is where most people tend to make mistakes and not be able to control it or give up. “Also try to remain in control, uncontrolled Chi can be very dangerous.”

”Oh. Uhhh. Okay. Sorry.” Nicky grinned sheepishly at the other students, rubbed the back of her head, then turned back to her task. Okay. Cardboard box. I can do that. She felt the flow, a river of energy inside her that swirled and eddied, some places deeper than others, some more turbulent. Though the cardboard box didn’t quite work in her head, she knew what he had meant by it. She pictured a sluice gate in the water, and ever so slowly opened it. She directed the resulting flow out towards the balloon, but only managed to make it quiver. Curious, she reached out and poked it, rewarded by a pop and splashing water all over herself. ”Shit! Damn it, these things are two thin, if I can just poke it open. You shoulda warned me, Miyagi!”

“Of course they are thin, what else did you expect, Nicky? Would you rather me give you a rock now to try it? See if you can’t crumble that?” Alex bent down and picked up a rock in his hand, he seemed to focus for a moment and the rock crumbled to dust in his hand. “ That is the next step, but you are not ready yet, that is why you have these thin balloons… just trust me on this. This is a requirement in your training. Without it, your Chi will be wild, and hostile even to yourself, I can even show you what it would feel like if I let my chi loose without much control over it if you’d like.” He’d seem to take a deep breath as he looked back at the door and then back to Nicky, “I am going to give you, 24 hours, make a hole in a balloon at the very least, while holding it in your hand, without poking it. Or, you will have to meditate for 20 hours with me.” Alex would nof a slight smirk crossing his face as he spoke.

”Oh God, not more meditation. Fine, I’ll do it in twelve, and dump it on your grey ass head, old man!” She snatched up a balloon and sat, cross-legged, on the floor, holding it up on one palm at eye level while the other hand rested on her knee. Her jaw set almost comically as she narrowed her eyes, and her tongue once again stuck out while she concentrated.




It actually only took her six hours to pop her first one, but she only managed to do it reliably after another ten. Twice, she had managed to lose control and wound up almost destroying her own clothes and the stone around her before she brought it back down. Another two had her able to pop it in midair, so she managed to give herself a break by slinging them overhead and trying to pop them over specific target she drew on the floor in chalk, a combination of skeet shooting and bombing runs.

Alex would walk in after about 12 hours; he had a cigarette in his mouth as he walked in blowing out the smoke gently. “Okay, so, show me what you got.” he would say. He would have his traditional monk robes on him. He would lean against the nearby wall as he waited for her to show him how she was able to get it in 12 hours. “You know most people take at least 2 weeks to be able to have the ability to constantly express their chi through their fists without a problem, let’s see where you got in 12 hours, shall we?”

Nicky grinned at him, then threw a balloon over his head, timing her punch into the air to detonate the balloon directly over his head. As water washed down, she hoped it put out his cigarette, but regardless, she had accomplished her goal.

The water would wash over his entire body, and put out the cigarette in his mouth. His eyebrows raised as he looked down at his wet clothes. He would nod, ”Color me impressed, if there ever was a chosen one, maybe you were it after all.” he’d say in an obvious joking tone. After chuckling to himself for a second he was finally speak again, “Now, if you’d like we can go ahead and start the next part of your training, you have learned to release it, and you have learned to release the chi in a concentrated point. Now, we learn to control how much you release. One of the reasons most people take so long is because they will get exhausted with the amount of effort it takes. But you, I guess you don’t have to worry about that.” he would grin at her before standing in the center of the room.

“Alright… I’m going to show you why control is important, when you start to learn how to use it all throughout your body and at once, it can become an overwhelming force all around you. If I don’t control it and I unleash it as much as I want; then this will happen.” He would take a deep breath letting his arms go to his sides, suddenly a massive amount of chi would come out of him, the entire room would feel heavier for anyone in it. Alex’s Chi was heavy it would start to oppress Nicky’s chi, if she could feel pain she would have felt it, but since she didn’t it would just feel like a heavy oppressive force on her. Alex would release his Chi with a deep sigh as the force lifted and he looked at Nicky.

Walking over and picking up a rock he would hold it out for Nicky, “Take this rock. Split it in half, if you unleash your chi on it, it’s going to crumble, if you concentrate it can be split in half. I want you to keep trying until then.”

”Uhhhh. Okay?” Nicky shook her head, trying to get what felt like pressure out of her ears. She had no idea what else had happened. Maybe it had more of an effect on people who weren’t cursed like her. She slapped her left ear with the same palm like she was trying to know her brain loose while she took the stone with the other. Staring at it, she sat down on the floor, cross-legged, and again, held it in her open palm at eye level. This time, though she was more confident. She might not know what the hell chi was, despite Alex telling her several times, but she knew she could blow stuff up with her mind. And the movements were helping, but she wanted to try this one all on her mental power alone.

She concentrated hard for maybe twenty second before the thing not just crumbled, but exploded, sending chips flying everywhere. She saw several bouncing away from her eyeball. In shock, she blinked and looked up at Alex. ”Okay, so maybe that’s not as easy as it sounds. You wanna give me some sort of advice there, old man?”

Alex watched her carefully as she unleashed chi into it. He held up his hands to guard his face as tiny pieces flew everywhere. Alex sighed as he picked up another rock and dropped it infront of her. “Yes, I want you to imagine that rock in your hand. Close your eyes, and imagine slicing it completely in half with a sword. A sword is a dangerous weapon, but yet it is easily controlled as long as you wield it from the hilt, you wield your chi the same way, you wield it with your connection from your body to your spirit. You control it with how hard you swing.” he seemed to walk away and back to the door to watch her follow up with what he said.

A sword, huh? The only swords she had seen had been in the old-as-hell movies her dad had watched when she was a little kid watching her baby brother, so she tried to remember what that had been like. One huge blade almost as tall as a man, with three or four little prongs off the sides where you gripped it. So she mentally swung it overhand. But nothing happened.

Oh, right, the chi thing, she thought to herself as the image dissolved. She reformed it in her head, then swung it again, mentally and ironically yelling the word freedom while she did so. The wall across her palm from her face nearly exploded, chunks of masonry vaporising and more stones raining down. A vertical pie-slice of stone, starting on the ceiling just behind and directly above her head and continuing forward until it was nearly a foot wide and several inches deep, was simply gone. She looked up, wincing, and simply said, ”Ooops.” The stone in her hand was completely unscathed.

Alex watched closely but when the stones began to almost explode he would instantly bring his hands up to his face to help protect himself again. He looked at the massive amount of stone missing as he shook his head, a grin on his face. “No more chi training. I want you to meditate for 2 hours. Then join me upstairs in the dojo. I’m going to teach you how to fight before we go any further. You need to have a more calm mind and stronger mental fortitude, I am going to help you with that.” he would wait for her response, and then head back upstairs towards the dojo.




Just after noon, local time


Nicky had given up on mentally timing meditation. ‘Two hours’ had little to no meaning to her in general, which ruined her meditation, as she had to constantly open one eye and look at the hourglass she had ‘requisitioned’ from the monks. As a result, walking into the main dojo of the temple, she was nothing but irritated and bored. That stopped the second she walked through the heavy, lacquered wooden doors. The first noise she heard was the slap of fist on flesh, almost immediately followed by the crack of wood being blocked by an arm. She glanced around and saw something she thought only existed in movies.

Fourteen monks sparred in various areas of the place, presided over by a surly looking man with a shaved pate and mustachios she was fairly certain she could use as a swing. They were using anything from bare hands to broadswords to staves and nunchaku. Off to one side, a separate group of students were doing forms, being watched by two men in a way that reminded her distinctly of Alex in his class, though she supposed that was probably inevitable. She strode unconcernedly past everything, though in deference to her new fascination with doing this right, she avoided her old blustering steps directly through the other students. Once she stood in front of Alex where he waited, she grinned at him.

”So, Master Roshi, what are you gonna kick my ass with first?” She seemed indifferent to the several students who stopped what they were doing to watch, though internally she took note that apparently word had spread about what had happened in the other room.

Alex seemed to look over and see her approaching, he grinned at her as he took a deep breath. I will tell you what we are going to do. We are going to do some simple training exercises for the first three hours, and then.” he would walk over to the wall and grab a sword as he tossed it on the ground. His eyebrows raised at her as he walked in front of her as well. “I’m going to throw punches a certain way, I need you to do the same thing that I am doing, and throw the punches the same way..” he would get into a stance and take a deep breath as he started to throw punch after punch in front of him. It was slow so she could see every inch of his form.

She copied his form as best she could and threw a punch tentatively, then a little more confidently, trying her best to match his pace. After no more than a few seconds, she became irritated at the attention she could feel on her back, but shook her head and tried her best to ignore it. She focused all of her attention on trying to match her teacher’s form as exactingly as she could. Not that that was much.

Alex would stop and say, “Keep going I am going to correct you.” Correcting he did, walking up to her he would stare for a moment before holding a hand out for her to stop and then getting behind her and crouching down so his head was at her level he would gently grab her arm and show her the corrected form, with her own arm doing it. He would take a step back and nod to her to show her she needed to continue.

She corrected her form as best she could, but her inability to actually feel her muscles was beginning to show. No matter how much she tried, she had to correct after every punch, and her patience was flagging, both with herself and with the world that had cursed her to this. And then a laugh from behind her caught her ear and what was left of her patience snapped like a log in a fire. Wheeling around, heedless of whatever reaction Alex had, she snarled into the room, which had mostly gone back to their own business, ”So, think it’s funny? Little girl trying to do big boy martial arts? White girl comes to China, thinks she can fight? Fine, tough guys, let’s see what you got!”

Alex’s eyes would raise as he saw Nicky spin around so quickly. “If that is what you want Nicky, that is permitted here. Just don’t kill anyone or actually try to physically hurt them to the point of not being able to move.” Alex would be grinning, the look on his face said that he expected this at some point. He would start to speak in Chinese to the man he saw laugh, the man couldn’t have been more than 18. He probably had been practicing since he was 12. Alex explained that Nicky wanted to spar, the monk would turn to her and nod, bowing to her before putting his fists up. “Yong Shun, Hǔ shì” he would say declaring his fighting style and name.

”What the hell did he say? You know what, doesn’t matter.” She went through all the motions of cracking her knuckles and popping her neck, although there was no sounds to evidence that it had any effect, and the little curse she uttered belied that she was expecting it to.

The man shuffled into a stance as the mustached instructor motioned everyone else back into a circle, giving instructions in Chinese that Nicky didn’t even bother listening to. All of her focus was on the man in front of her. He looked calm and ready, and for once, that actually gave Nicky pause. If I just rush him, he’s gonna throw me around like a ragdoll. I gotta be smart about this.. She shockingly even bowed to the man, though it was curt and rude, but still something she hadn’t bothered to do up until today. Alex would feel her chi suddenly drop precipitously. She was obviously planning to do this with only her native strength and exceptional endurance.

The man seemed to also sense the drop, but took it as a sign of opening, and as soon as she finished sketching her bow was in the air, driving his knee for her face. She thought she had it easy, leaning back to dodge only to watch his foot snap forward and catch her in the ribs, sliding her a few inches and nearly toppling her. He came up off that move shouting his breaths, fists slamming out in precise motions to hammer into her belly and hip while she was off balance, sending her over her tipping point and onto the floor.

She got up slowly, light dancing in her eyes. This one was taking her more seriously than even Alex had, launching into an attack as soon as she was up to her feet again, relentlessly assaulting her defenses. But it seemed no one had told him of her unique nature. She felt the pressure of blows as if they were sledgehammers, but her guard went up as she had been taught so recently, and now she had the advantage of time. But she didn’t want to wait him out, even though she knew she could. He had laughed at her, and that mean there were lessons to be taught.

During a kick from his right leg, trying to drive up underneath her raised arms, she made the unexpected move of whipping her head forward, slamming into his toes with everything her neck could muster. She missed the end of his foot and for a moment his toes were sliding down her face inside his slippered shoe. Her forehead finally made solid contact with the top of his ankle, and as he pulled it back in reaction, she snatched his ankle with both hands and snapped a kick into the back of his thigh, just below the buttock.

He staggered back, but she wasn’t done. Now that she had the offensive, she wanted to keep it, and she proceeded into the series of spin kicks she had taught herself, only without the chi buildup. Unfortunately for her, this was probably one of the most obvious attacks she could pull, and he easily swept her supporting leg out from underneath her, tossing her into the ground like a toy. As she staggered to get up, the boy lunged forward, slamming both palms into the side of her ribcage with enough force to sound like a gunshot and send her flying across the room to tumble along the floor and bounce off of the wall.

Still, she got up. He looked surprised, as she smiled at him menacingly and stalked forward again. She had dropped out of form and was now moving like a brawler again, accelerating into a run and a diving punch. He shook his head, sidestepped, and delivered a blindingly fast set of three punches to her temple, sending her crashing to the floor again.

This continued on for several more minutes, the boy beginning to look actually tired, before the mustached instructor called a halt. He rattled off something in Chinese to the other students, who answered in a chorus that sounded like a “Yes sir!” to Nicky. Remembering her manners almost too late, she returned the bow the boy had given her, though Alex could see there was still some fury in the back of her eyes as she returned to face him.

Alex would grin at her as he walked forward, “You lost control again, I want you to use that form, the form I just showed you. Against that.” he would point towards a punching bag that seemed to be kind of an older style looking one. If she punched it, it would feel like hitting a bag of rice (Because it was). Alex would walk back over and once again go behind her grabbing at her arms and if she let him and show her the form once more. “Now, go and get your anger out. Five thousand-punches.” he would be grinning at her as he watched her, if she did it he would also be following along with her pace to mimic the form so if she ever needed help she only needed to look at him.
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