Beast of the Bronx Chapter 9

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Andrew, Mark, and Shanta begin their training...along with other things outside of their training. And remember kids: all the editing errors you see were done on purpose for my upcoming book series.

Nine

 

 

Ching walked Mark, Shanta and Andrew to the training area. It was a huge area, about the size of a large university. Inside, were many rooms. Half of it were classrooms and the other half was the training ground. Some of the males were inside the classrooms teaching the kids Math, Science, English and Art. Ching pointed Mark, Shanta and Andrew to the training ground, where they met Master Dao.

“This is where you will be training for the next six months,” said Ching. “I wish you guys the best.”

They stared at Master Dao for a moment. Master Dao was a short man. He only reached to Mark’s hips. He walked with his hands behind his back and had narrow eyes. Master Dao had a round baldhead, gray eyebrows, and a wide nose.

“Good morning,” he said in a calm voice. “Before we begin, I want you to put on these clothes.”

Three pairs of training clothes were piled on top of a box next to him. Mark stepped forward and grabbed the first pair. Next came Shanta and finally was Andrew. Master Dao pointed to a changing room on his left side. A few minutes later, they came out of the changing room wearing their training clothes. They wore blue pants, a V-neck sleeveless shirt with a picture of a dragon on the back, a white karate belt, a pair of blue wristbands, and dark blue moccasins with white socks.

“Anyone up for searching for some Dragon balls?” Mark asked sarcastically.

“Now the training will begin,” he said. “Your first task is to fight me in your human forms.”

“Say what!” Andrew exclaimed.

“This task will show me where each of you stand,” Master Dao said.

“Alright gramps, it’s time to give you an ass beating, Bronx style,” replied Mark cracking his knuckles.

“Whenever you’re ready,” Master Dao said.

Mark, Shanta and Andrew dashed towards Master Dao in unison. With their fists ready to strike, Master Dao just stood there. Andrew broke from the group and somersaulted into the air. He landed and elbowed Master Dao. Andrew’s eyes widened as he saw Master Dao turn his upper body about halfway and blocked Andrew’s elbow with his index finger. Suddenly, Mark jumped into the air with his hands clasped over his head. Master Dao smiled and vanished before Mark could strike. Mark looked around the training area but couldn’t locate him. SMACK! Master Dao elbowed Mark in the face. The blow knocked Mark sideways. Mark skidded on the ground and crashed into a wall. Debris kicked up into the air and quickly settled. Irritated, Shanta kicked Master Dao. She missed. BAM! Master Dao punched Shanta in her stomach. Shanta clenched her stomach, falling to her knees. Andrew dashed towards Master Dao and began throwing punches at him. Master Dao dodged every punch and quickly countered. SMACK! Andrew became weightless. Master Dao uppercut Andrew into the air. He vanished and quickly reappeared above him. Andrew felt his stomach cave in from Master Dao’s attack.

Andrew crashed into the ground hard, cracking the ground a little. Andrew watched Master Dao land onto the ground on one foot.

“Looks like we have a long way to go,” he said. “Training will resume in two hours.”

Mark and Shanta slowly got up and went to help Andrew. They walked back to their rooms, bruised and achy. They tried to get as much rest as they could, but couldn’t close their eyes. Even Ching and the others didn’t know how to help. Two hours flew by quick. They got back to the training grounds.

“From what I’ve seen, you guys have the power, but lack control,” Master Dao said as he paced back and forth. “I will teach you how to control your powers, as well as increase your strength and speed. I’m not an easy teacher. But if you trust in yourself and work hard, you will achieve greater power. Here, this is going to be your daily schedule.”

He handed each of them a list with their task and chores. Mark’s eyes widened when he realized he had to wake up at dawn.

“For your next task, I want you to meditate for three hours,” Master Dao said. “This will keep your mind focused and heighten your other senses.”

“Man, this stinks,” Mark said.

“I know, but we have to do it in order to get stronger,” Andrew said looking up into the sky.

“I hope you boys can handle this type of training,” replied Shanta sitting on the ground in an Indian-style position.

“You bet, Cuz,” replied Mark also sitting in an Indian-style position.

Andrew sat down between Mark and Shanta and closed his eyes. For three hours, Andrew focused his mind on getting stronger. He even thought about Rosa and how she was doing. He knew this training was going to be intense, but he was willing to try anything to get stronger in order to protect her. Andrew had a feeling Mark was thinking about protecting Tracy.

“Time’s up,” said Master Dao coming out from one of the rooms.

They opened their eyes and looked at Master Dao. But Mark noticed someone standing next him.

“Hey, it’s the same kid we saw when we first came here,” he said.

“This boy is my grandson,” Master Dao said. “His name is Rai Rai.”

“I didn’t know Nebtans had ghetto names like us,” Mark whispered to Andrew.

Rai Rai ran towards Mark and hugged him. Mark smiled and patted his small head.

“He can’t speak your language Mark, but I’ll be happy to translate for you,” replied Master Dao.

“Ask him how he’s doing,” said Mark.

Master Dao asked Rai Rai in their native tongue. Rai Rai answered quickly and Master Dao translated.

“He said he is okay and what about you,” Master Dao replied.

Mark gave Rai Rai a thumb up. Rai Rai smiled and gave Mark a thumb up. Then, he turned his head to Master Dao and asked him a question. Master Dao smiled and looked at Mark.

“Rai Rai wants to know if you would like to take him to the courtyard,” he replied.

“Sure,” answered Mark. “But what about…?”

“Training will resume in two hours,” Master Dao said. “Have fun.”

Rai Rai raised both his arms towards Mark. Mark lifted him up and carried him on his shoulders. Both Shanta and Andrew watched as Mark and Rai Rai headed for the courtyard.

“Mark has really changed,” replied Shanta. “I’ve never seen him act this way.”

“Mark always had a good heart, he just hid it from everyone,” Andrew said.

“Rai Rai looks so happy with Mark,” she said.

“Indeed he is,” said Master Dao. “Ever since his parents died, I’ve been the one to take care of him. He was a very lonely boy. He had neither siblings nor any friends. Mark would be the only friend he has ever had.”

“At least Mark will know what it feels like to have a younger brother,” Shanta said with a smile.

“And I know Mark will take good care of Rai Rai,” Andrew added.

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

At the courtyard, Mark was teaching Rai Rai how to fight. At first, Mark had trouble communicating with Rai Rai, but eventually he knew what to do.

“This is a punch,” said Mark showing how to do it.

Rai Rai followed. Soon he was punching like Mark. Mark raised his hands and signaled Rai Rai to punch his hands. Rai Rai understood and began punching Mark’s hands. Suddenly, a familiar person walked up to Mark.

“Hi Aiya,” Mark muttered.

“Hello, my lover,” Aiya said and looked at Rai Rai. “Who is this?”

Rai Rai ran towards Mark and held him tight.

“This is Rai Rai, Master Dao’s grandson.”

“Aw, he’s so cute.”

Rai Rai covered his face into Mark’s chest.

“What’s wrong with him?” Ayia asked.

You don’t want to know, Mark thought. “I don’t know.”

“Well, I have to go. I’ll see you later.”

“It’s okay, the monster is gone now,” Mark said to Rai Rai. “Now let’s continue punching.”

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

High in a treetop stood a creature wearing a black chest-plate. He watched the people in the temple with his keen eyes. Suddenly, he spotted Hibika and Aiya sitting near a pond talking. An evil grin spread over his face. He signaled another creature to tell the boss what he spotted.

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

Mark, Shanta and Andrew resumed their training. This time, Master Dao wanted them to gather and release energy by focusing their minds and bodies. It sounded easy, but it’s really hard to do. They spent hours trying to gather energy. By the time they gathered energy it was already nightfall.

“Now that you know the routine, I want to see you guys here every day at dawn for the next eight weeks,” replied Master Dao. “Have a goodnight.”

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

Later that night, Shanta sat in her bed thinking.

It’s funny…here I am on another planet training to save the world from a guy I don’t even know. Why did I come here and why did Madam Renee choose me to save the Earth?

She sighed. I remember when I first meta-morphed. It was on a summer night in 2001. I remember walking home from my friend’s house when I saw two guys in suits beating up Nick, a guy I had a huge crush on. At first, I was scared to face those guys, but I knew I had to do something or Nick would’ve been killed. So, I meta-morphed. I felt strong and powerful. After I kicked some butt, I de-transformed in front of Nick. Bad move. I could see it in his eyes that he was afraid of me. He ran away and left me alone. I vowed never to use my powers in front of people I like again. I mean, what’s the point of having powers when you can’t find anyone to tell them too? I just wish there was someone out there who understands me.

Shanta walked down the hallway to get a glass of water. As she made her way to the stairs, she saw Ching sitting by the window looking at the three moons.

He seems depressed. I wonder what’s bugging him? Shanta thought as she walked over to him.

“Hey Ching,” she said and sat next to him. “Is something wrong?”

Ching looked into Shanta’s eyes and back at the moons.

“It’s nothing,” he said.

“C’mon, you can tell me,” said Shanta gently pressing his hand.

Ching blushed a little.

“I know this may sound weird, but I have waited for my bride to come to me for a long time,” he said staring at the moons. “I mean that my bride was someone from another planet, who was smart, courageous, and funny.”

“Okay,” replied Shanta looking at him strangely. “So, who is this mystery person?”

Ching gazed into Shanta’s dark brown eyes and replied, “You.”

Shanta blushed. “I…I…don’t know what to say…”

“Say you will be my bride,” he said looking into her eyes.

“Whoa! Slow down,” she replied. “I hardly know you. How can you be sure that I’m the one?”

“When I first met you, I knew you were different from the other girls,” Ching answered. “You always spoke your mind and you’re not afraid of other people’s opinions. You’re strong, independent and caring. Maybe that’s why...”

“I too understand how you feel,” Shanta replied. “I used to think that no guy would ever love me because of my powers, because he could never understand it. To find someone who understands and means it…”

Ching placed his hand on her cheek. Shanta blushed. He gazed into her dark brown eyes and smiled. Ching leaned forward, ready to kiss her.

Shanta backed away. “This isn’t right. You can’t just kiss someone like that. On Earth, we keep lasting relationships by taking things slow. Let’s start off as friends first, okay?”

“So, just friends?”

“For now. I want to get to know you better and you should get to know me better.”

“I understand,” Ching replied with a smile. “Goodnight, Shanta.”

He left. Shanta gnashed her teeth in disappointment.

Damn me and my upbringing!

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

Mark was having a hard time getting away from Aiya.

“Leave me alone!” shouted Mark as he ran down the hallway.

“But Marky-poo, we were destined to be together,” Aiya said chasing after him. “You can’t fight fate.”

“Oh yeah! Watch me,” he replied turning a corner.

Mark kept on running down the hallway until he realized he reached a dead end. He could see Aiya’s shadow from around the corner Mark only had a few seconds to find a hiding place.

“Now I got you,” said Aiya looking down the dead end hallway. “Huh? Where did you go, my lover?”

She looked around checking every possible hiding place. She went back to Mark’s room. As soon as it was safe, Mark jumped down from the ceiling.

“That was close,” he replied wiping his forehead.

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

Andrew got lost yet again. To him, this temple was a gigantic maze. He tried to retract his footsteps, but soon found himself at courtyard. The night breeze teased the trees, knocking some leaves off. The serene scene eased Andrew’s heart as the leaves blew across the air like a swarm of fireflies. Andrew turned around bumped into something soft and squishy. A loud shrill rang in his ears as he fell backwards. He looked and saw Hibika on the ground.

“You okay?” he asked and quickly stopped.

“What?” Hibika asked and looked down.

She turned bright red after noticing she exposed her favorite light blue panties to Andrew. Andrew back away slowly, trying not to look at her.

“Pervert!” Hibika screamed and dash towards Andrew.

Andrew barely dodged her assault. Soon, the serene scene became a nightmare.

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

As dawn approached, Mark, Shanta and Andrew got ready for their daily training. They arrived at the training area before Master Dao came out of his room.

They stretched their muscles and did a few of warm-ups. Finally, Master Dao opened his door and walked out to the training area.

“Are you guys ready to train?” he asked looking at them.

“Yes Master,” they said in unison.

“Good, then let’s begin,” Master Dao said with a smile. “Three laps around the temple!”

Mark’s mouth dropped.

“C’mon Cuz, you can do it,” Shanta said and slapped his back.

Minutes later, their legs started to feel numb and sweat dripped down their backs. Even Mark was having trouble finishing his laps. Shanta, on the other hand, seemed to be enjoying the training.

After an hour break, they began their meditation. This time, the meditation seemed easier. Andrew could almost feel his body rise into the air. Even Mark was able to focus his mind.

“Excellent work,” Master Dao said. “Get something to eat and we’ll resume our training.”

As they walked to the dining room, they saw Ching standing by Shanta’s room. Shanta smiled and ran towards him.

“Hey,” she said as she hugged Ching.

Both Mark and Andrew raised an eyebrow.

“Are you free right now?” Ching asked. “I’m in the mood for a walk.”

“Yeah, I’m free,” Shanta said and turned to Mark and Andrew. “You guys go on without me. I’m going to hang with Ching.”

“Uh, okay…” Andrew said and walked off.

“I’m watch’n you, Cuz,” Mark replied, giving Shanta an evil glare.

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

Both Mark and Andrew arrived in the dining room. They sat down, stretching out their legs. Instantly, Ching’s servant-girls came over to them and served them.

Their mouths watered as they gazed upon the food. There were eggs, both scrambled and sunny-side up. The roast Dehas, Macuan pork, were wrapped in a sweet honey glaze. There were roast Giras, Macuan chicken, hot from the oven and

fresh Veyas, Macuan fish, from the sea. Of course, who could forget some of the Macuan vegetables, fresh from the greenhouse.

Both Mark and Andrew wolfed down their food, leaving not a single piece of food on the table.

“I’m stuffed,” Andrew said rubbing his stomach.

“Me too dawg,” Mark said also rubbing his stomach. “Hey, do you think Shanta and Ching are going out?”

“Nah,” Andrew answered. “It’s way too soon. We’ve been here only three days.”

“You’re right, dawg,” replied Mark. “But seriously, you think Ching got the hots for my Cuz?”

They both looked at each other for a moment.

“Naaah!” they said unison and then laughed.

Just then, Shanta ran into the dining room with a wide grin spread over her face. Mark and Andrew looked at her strangely, wondering why she was so happy.

“Check out the ice Ching gave me,” she said showing them the huge diamond ring.

“DAMN!” Mark and Andrew both said in unison.

“Ching and I are going to get married after our training,” replied Shanta with her hands on her cheeks. “I can’t believe I’m getting married to a king.”

“Hold up!” Mark interjected. “Cuz, you don’t know him. Haven’t you heard of taking it slow?”

“Think about it,” replied Shanta. “We’re here for six months. That’s plenty of time to take things slow. I ain’t jumping his bones til a ring is on my finger. Besides, we are still friends.”

“Huh?” Andrew asked. “How are you still friends when you are engaged?”

“Engaged?” Shanta asked confused. “No, you misunderstand. See, after the training, Ching is going to ask me to marry him. So during our training, we’ll slowly move from friends to boyfriend and girlfriend. Now, do you understand?”

Mark and Andrew both looked at each other and then at Shanta.

“Aren’t you guys happy for me?” she asked still smiling.

They nodded with a surprised look on their faces. They couldn’t formulate any more words.

“Well, I’m going to Ching’s room to get a head start on our wedding plans,” Shanta said as she walked off. “See you guys at the training area.”

A few seconds later, Mark and Andrew looked at each other with the same surprised look.

“Well, I guess that answers my question,” replied Mark.

“Uh-huh,” Andrew said slowly.

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

Andrew headed out to the courtyard, where he could take a moment to enjoy the scenery. When he got there, he saw Hibika sitting underneath a tree with at least thirty Nebtan children gathered around her. He walked over there to get a closer look.

“The first word for today is apple,” Hibika said to the children. “Repeat after me, Ap-ple.”

The children began to sound out the word apple. After a couple of tries, the Nebtan children were able to say apple.

“Very good,” Hibika said smiling. “Next word is…”

She looked to her right and saw Andrew standing a few feet from her with a smile on his face.

“Would you like to join us?” she asked looking at Andrew.

“Yeah, sure,” he said and sat next to a Nebtan girl.

He watched as Hibika continued to teach the children Earth words. A half-hour later, Hibika gave the children time to play.

“How’s training?” she asked Andrew.

“Hard, but effective,” answered Andrew. “You’re really good with children. You should be a teacher.”

“I wish I could. As princess of my people, I can’t do common work.”

“So what? If that’s what you want to do then you should do it. It shouldn’t matter if you’re the princess or not. My friends and I are fighting a drug-lord and his army of drug-dealers and bodyguards. It’s three against who knows how many. The odds maybe against us, but there is still a way to win and we’re not going to give up until we defeat him.”

Hibika blushed. It was the first time she heard him truly speak to her. Her heart throbbed a little as she continued to stare into his eyes.

“Thank you, Andrew. You have given me the confidence to be a teacher and a princess.”

“What are friends for?”

Her eyes widened. “You would be friends with me after I hit you with my soap bar?”

“And with that left hook? Yeah! I mean, it was my fault for not reading the signs and for bumping into you.”

“You’re a strange one, Andrew,” Hibika replied giggling.

Suddenly, the Nebtan children wanted Andrew to play with them. Andrew stretched out his hand toward Hibika and asked if she wanted to join him. As

Hibika gently grabbed Andrew’s hand, the Nebtan children began to chant and giggle at the same time.

“What are they saying?” Andrew asked.

“Oh, nothing,” answered Hibika blushing.

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

For that week, Mark, Shanta and Andrew trained hard. They were determined to get stronger and faster. Then, Master Dao decided to upgrade the training the following week. He gave them each weighted moccasins, shirts and wrists-bands and told them to deliver three big boxes. One box contained forty gallons of milk, the other contained thirty pounds of meat and the last box contained fifty pounds of vegetables. He told them to deliver to his best friend, who lived beyond the forest every four days.

“I feel like a sumo wrestler,” Mark complained.

“How do you think I feel?” Andrew said sarcastically.

“Let’s just deliver these boxes,” replied Shanta.

Walking through the forest became a hassle. The weights, as well as the boxes became heavier. Mark and Andrew struggled to carry their boxes, since they both got the heavier ones. With Shanta as their leader, they knew they would make it.

“Just another mile guys,” she said pointing to a small house at the end of the forest.

They reached the end of the forest with only a few yards to go. Sweat dripped down their backs as they walked to the house. Mark set down his box onto the front porch and knocked on the door. A few seconds later, an old man opened the

door. He is the same size as Master Dao and also has a round baldhead. He has thin gray eyebrows, dark brown eyes, and a small nose.

“Hello,” he said. “My name is Phansu. You finally brought my boxes to me.”

“Yes sir, where shall we put them?” asked Shanta.

“Over in the kitchen,” Phansu said directing them.

They set the boxes down onto the floor and wiped the sweat from off their faces.

“You guys must be thirsty,” he said. “Would you like a drink of water?”

They nodded. “Yes please.”

Phansu went into the kitchen for a moment and came back with a tray with three cold glasses of water. Mark, Shanta and Andrew each took a glass and gulped the water vigorously. They wiped their mouths and set the glasses on the table.

“Thank you sir,” replied Shanta.

“You’re welcome,” he said smiling. “Oh, I have something for each of you. I’ll be right back.”

Phansu walked off into a room. They looked at each other wondering what it was. A few minutes later, he came back with a small black box with gold trimmings around it.

“These are for you,” he said and opened the box.

Their eyes gazed upon the shiny objects. They were amazed by the craftsmanship.

“These Nebtan bracelets symbolize your animal spirits,” Phansu said. “They can help increase your strength, speed and many other things not known to me or Master Dao.”

It was a golden bracelet, about an inch in width. On the center of each of the bracelets, were the Japanese symbol for wolf, panther and fox. Each bracelet had a small gem underneath the symbol.

They picked up their respected animal bracelets and slipped them onto their right wrists. Suddenly, their bracelets began to glow and surround them in an aura of light.

“What’s happening?” Andrew asked in a frighten voice.

“The bracelets are acknowledging you all,” Phansu answered.

The light faded. Andrew stared at his bracelet for a moment. His gem seemed to glow with power as he continued to stare.

“These bracelets are awesome,” replied Shanta. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome child,” Phansu said smiling.

“We better bounce,” replied Mark. “Master Dao is waiting for us to return.”

Mark, Shanta and Andrew waved good-bye to Phansu and walked back to the temple. They arrived at the temple with about five hours of sunlight. They found

Master Dao sitting down on the ground meditating. Master Dao opened his eyes and got up.

“What took you?” he asked them.

“We were talking to Mr. Phansu,” answered Shanta.

“And I see he has given you the bracelets,” replied Master Dao.

“Yes,” Andrew answered.

“What’s that got to do with us?” asked Mark.

“Everything,” answered Master Dao. “Those bracelets will help you with your next task. I must warn you: this task may take a day or so. So, you might want to get plenty of rest. I’ll see you all back here tomorrow at dawn.”

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

Andrew walked with Hibika across the courtyard that night. The sky was clear and all three moons were full. Even the pinkish trees glowed brightly with the night sky. Andrew wished he brought a camera with him to show Lily and the others how beautiful this planet was. Suddenly, tiny fireflies began appearing, twinkling like little stars. He looked all around him and smiled. Hibika looked at Andrew. Andrew looked back. She blushed and quickly averted her eyes. Andrew blushed. It was the first time he saw Hibika’s true beauty. His heart raced as he averted his eyes.

“What?” Hibika asked.

“You look…beautiful tonight…” Andrew managed to say without looking at her.

Hibika blushed. “Save your flattery. I still have to watch you and your perverted ways.”

“I’m not perverted.”

“Then why are you blushing? I bet you were thinking of something dirty.”

“I’m a guy, so I can’t help it. Besides, guys always think dirty thoughts about beautiful girls. You’re no exception.”

Hibika blushed. “You…really think I’m beautiful?”

Andrew blushed. “Yeah…”

“That’s the first time a man has ever said that to me.”

Hibika embraced Andrew tightly. Andrew blushed bright red as he felt her plump breasts press up against his chest. She gazed into his eyes with a sad look.

“Master Dao told Ching, Aiya, and I your next task. I’ll miss you. Please come back safe.”

Her words pierced his heart. That voice and look reminded him of who he wanted to protect.

“I will,” he said with a smile.

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

Mark sat in the steamy water, staring at the ceiling. Thoughts of Tracy circled his mind as he slowly sank further into the water.

Please be safe, Tracy…

Suddenly, he felt something grab his leg. Mark sprang out of the water and landed on all fours on the tiled ground. The water bubbled and then made a huge splash. Mark’s eyes widened as a naked Aiya sprang out from the water.

“Wh-What are you doing in here?!” exclaimed Mark, covering his package.

“I wanted to spend some time with you, my lover,” she answered sweetly. “Won’t you let me express my love to you, before you go on your task?”

“How’d you…?”

“Master Dao told me. Mark, I love you and I want you know that before you go.”

She approached closer. Mark stepped back with every step she took. Soon, his back was against the wall. Ayia pressed her developing body against his. Mark squirmed as he tried to ignore his hormones.

“Aiya, this is the wrong way to approach a guy,” he said, looking the other way.

“But I thought guys liked girls rubbing their breasts on them. I read it in an Earth book.”

“Look, Aiya,” he replied, grabbing her shoulders. “You’re too young to be doing things like this. On Earth, I could go to jail for being seen like this with you. Don’t waste your time on me. I’m sure there’s a guy out there for you. Do you understand?”

“It’s…really…big,” she said, looking down. “Let me touch it!”

Mark felt her warm hands touch his package. Soon, the bathroom was filled cries of pleasure and terror.

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

Ching walked Shanta to her room. Ching listened as Shanta told him stories of her childhood. He was amazed of the wondrous adventures she experienced and began telling her about his childhood. They laughed and talked all the way to her door.

“May I come in?” Ching asked.

“Do you always have to ask?” Shanta asked. “You’ve been in my room several times now. You don’t have to be so formal with me. Relax, Ching, I won’t bite.”

Ching blushed and walked in. They both sat on her bed and continued talking. As the night progressed, their bodies grew weary. Soon, Shanta was yawning with every sentence.

“Time for bed,” Ching said. “You’ve got a long day ahead of you.”

“Did Master Dao tell you?” Shanta asked with a sad look. “Sorry for not telling you.”

“It’s okay. Come on, in you go.”

Shanta hoped into the bed. Ching pulled the covers over her, tucking her in. She looked up at him with a smile. Gently, he kissed her forehead. Shanta blushed and covered her face. Ching smiled and gently pulled the covers from her face.

Shanta’s eyes darted towards the wall and then looked back at him. He was still there, looking at her with his handsome smile.

“Goodnight, Shanta. Please come back safe.”

“I will.”

Without hesitation, Shanta sat up. She leaned forward and kissed him. Ching’s eyes widened as the warm kiss surged through his body.

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

The next morning, they arrived at the training area. They couldn’t wait for their next task. Of course, they still had to wait for Master Dao to show up.

“I’m so psyched for this!” exclaimed Andrew.

“Me too,” replied Shanta.

Silence. They both looked at Mark, who was in a daze.

“What’s wrong, Cuz?” Shanta asked, lightly shaking him.

“I…don’t want to talk about it,” Mark answered in a low tone.

“What, did Aiya attack you again?” Andrew asked sarcastically.

Mark’s eyes widened and got into the fetal position, chanting, “I’m a good boy…I’m a good boy…I’m a good boy…”

“Oh my God, you didn’t have…”

“Hell no, dawg!” exclaimed Mark, springing out of his fetal hole. “We didn’t do the do. She just…”

“Choked your chicken?” Shanta interjected. “Girl got skills to be able to get you this worked up.”

“We’ll…discuss it later,” Andrew replied noticing Master Dao approaching.

Master Dao greeted them.

“Good morning, students. I hope you got plenty of rest. For your next task…”

The suspense was killing Andrew. He just wished Master Dao could tell them now instead of pausing in the middle of his sentence.

“I want you to…clean the temple,” he said smiling.

Mark, Andrew and Shanta fell to the ground.

“What!” Mark exclaimed angrily as he sprang up from the ground. “I didn’t wake up this morning to clean a temple!”

“I was just kidding,” replied Master Dao trying to calm Mark. “Your real task is behind those three doors over there.”

He pointed to three huge doors with their animal symbols on them.

“Once you pass those doors, there is no turning back,” Master Dao said. “I wish you all luck.”

“Well guys, let’s do this,” replied Mark.

Shanta and Andrew nodded. They went to their respective doors and turned the knob. They took one look back at Master Dao and went inside. None of them were sure what they were getting themselves into, but they were prepared for anything.

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