Chapter 19 - Alone?
"So let me get this straight," Rai's mind clone asked, "Chase tells you at some point in the future there's going to be a 'Heylin' and in some way, your choice is going decide the outcome?"
"You're in my head. You were there, why are you asking me this?" Rai asked.
"Well why are you sneaking around Guan's armoury?"
"Touché," Rai muttered as he put the spear he had been inspecting back.
"All I'm saying is that Chase's warning is effectively worth zip," Clone Rai complained, "I mean were probably in the same situation than if Chase hadn't said anything. Worse probably since now we're stuck looking over our shoulders. How exactly are we meant to explain all this to the rest of the gang?"
"Simple we're not," Rai answered, "if something I choose is going to decide the outcome then its my problem and no one else's."
"Uh, that sounds like a bad idea," the clone said, "and when a part of your own mind doesn't agree with it shouldn't be hearing alarm bells."
Rai let out a groan as he felt a headache starting to form. "Look I know I'm the only one who can hear you but would you mind shutting up before we're caught."
"Oh please, this is all in your head, no matter how loud I get no one is gonna hear me." To prove his point Clone-Rai morphed a big drum on his back and a pair of cymbals in his hands. He then started playing, very badly. "I AM SO GREAT! I AM SO GREAT! EVERYBODY LOVES ME! I AM SO GREAT!"
Clone Rai stopped playing when he found himself surrounded by a whole hoard of undead jellyfish-gerbils. There was a moment of silence and then...
"ARGHHH! THEY'RE ATTACKING ME! GET THEM OFF GET THEM OFF!"
Rai just stared at what was unfolding. "Man I have some serious issues."
"You really do," Young Rai agreed.
Rai started rummaging through some drawers as a bunch of tigers came in to have they're turn at bashing around clone-Rai.
"So me-junior, since you're not going anywhere," Rai opened a different drawer, "what's your opinion on the up and coming events."
"I wish our friends would come back from they're dumb old quest to help us." Rai junior replied, meanwhile the tigers left and a mob of griffins started attacking Clone Rai.
"Hey! Curb the attitude!" Rai warned as the griffins left and some angry old ladies armed with brick filled handbags came in for their turn, "Its not a dumb quest."
"It means that we're alone again so that makes it dumb."
"Well I'm sure that they'll be back before trouble strikes in the mean time go watch my copy be mauled by a bear or something."
Rai-clone stopped fending off the old ladies, "bear?" As those words were uttered a giant grizzly was standing behind him. "Crud."
Rai stopped searching for a moment to stare in slightly sickened awe as the bear started to do its work. "Ok why exactly is this display unfolding?"
"Who knows, it might be a representation of the strife you have had to live in your life, a message from your sub conscious that your losing the level of cool unbeatable demon mojo you once or maybe a sign of some suppressed masochism." Young Rai pulled out a bowl of popcorn from his back and started eating. "Either way it makes for some great watching."
Rai looked at Young Rai. "Didn't you use to be just a whiny emo baby? What happened?"
Young Rai shrug, "I don't know, character development?"
Rai paused and shrugged before returning to his rummaging until he finally found what he was looking for; a Dadao. Rai gave the single edged sword a practice swing.
"Oh yeah now that's what I'm talking about." Rai started to leave the armoury. "Hey tiny, I've got to go, mind helping my clone out?"
"No need, the bear's lost interest now that he's stopped moving," Young Rai replied, "and it looks like Lassie is coming to the rescue. Where you off to?"
"To reclaim some Mojo." Rai replied.
The mangled heap known as Clone Rai looked up to see the fictional Collie walking up to him. "Oh Lassie! Thank goodness you're here. Take my hand and...ARGH!"
Young Rai shielded his eyes. "Ooh, wrong choice of words."
Master Monk Guan was on the phone with Master Fung, giving him a progress report of how things were going with Rai.
"Everything is going fine?" Master Fung.
"Absolutely fine," Guan replied, "despite our history Rai has been a respectful and well mannered pupil."
On pure reflex alone, Guan caught an incoming rock that had been aimed for his head. He turned his head to see Rai standing in the doorway, "Yo! Bat Guano! Me and you got some fighting to do."
"Master Fung, I'll call you back." Guan hung up. "Rai! What is the meaning of this!"
"Look you may be an Immortal but I know when someone going easy on me. If your idea of training is the kiddy treatment, its time for me to leave. If not then lose the gloves and the bo staffs and show me what you got."
"As you wish," Guan picked up his spear and charged at Rai. Rai charged back but at the last moment Rai leapt into the air and out of a window. Rai briefly stuck his head back in.
"How about we take this outside? less property to damage."
Guan crouched and leapt out the window as well. Only to get a double kick to the back in mid air. Guan landed on the ground hard with Rai standing on top of him.
"Whoops, forgot to call a time out, my bad."
Guan let out a growl as he quickly rolled onto his back. Rai jumped off and into a combat stance, sword held high. Guan kicked up to his feet and spun his spear into an attack stance. The warriors then ran at each other.
What happened next was a flurry of attacks, blocks and dodges from both sides. Neither were willing to give an inch. That was until Guan gave diagonal cut Rai hadn't been expecting.
Rai jumped back but not in time dodge the attack completely. The end result was a long but very shallow across his chest. Rai wouldn't have stopped if Guan hadn't ordered him too.
"Rai, that's enough. I don't know what you were trying to achieve but I'm not going to fight you while you're injured."
"I was trying to take my training up a notch the only way I know how, " Rai answered but in his head he was repeating mantra I need to get stronger. I need to be ready.
Guan didn't seem to by Rai's excuse. "Well don't take the training up another notch or else it might kill you. Come I'll take you to infirmary."
Once in the infirmary Guan, made Rai sit down. Guan opened a drawer and pulled out a jar.
"This balm is charmed to promote clean and natural healing," Guan explained, "now I know that you are not harmed by things that are charged with positive Chi but it would be best to lower your illusion charm as it may react with the balm ."
"Illusion charm? I don't know what you're on about."
Guan didn't buy it though. "It's subtle and the change to your body is minuscule so it usually goes unnoticed. Its in place to hide your scars isn't it?" Rai just sat silently but Guan had the feeling that a line had been crossed. "I apologise, its not my place."
"Wuya put it on me," Rai explained, "she didn't like the idea of parading a scarred apprentice. I see through it but I can't turn it off."
"Just put the stuff on, the charm shorts out when touched by good chi but comes back up later."
"As you wish." As the balm was applied, Rai felt cooling sensation. He also felt Guans eyes gazing intently at his chest as the numerous scars started to reveal themselves.
"What are you doing down there, counting them?"
"I'm merely intrigued with the markings that the charm does not conceal."
Rai rolled his eyes. "Sure you are."
"The fact that they can not be covered by the illusion charm would indicate that they were magical in nature," Guan noted, "and not made by Wuya."
Rai started giving Guan the silent treatment. Once Guan was finished applying the balm, he started bandaging the wound while he continued to talk. "Burdens are easier to carry if shared. Sometimes the act of talking with a friend can be healing in itself."
"Not my style."
"1500 years ago fighting for the Xiaolin Side wasn't your style either," Guan said wisely, "all it took was you being willing to take a chance."
Rai stared thoughtfully at Guan. As he looked back to events that had unfolded since.
"Alright friend, what did you want to talk about?"
"Are you we are headed in the right direction?" Vlad asked.
"For the last time yes," Jack rechecked his Wu detector, "According to this, the Rio Reverso is located nearby."
"And why do Wuya and Hannibal need it for their master plan."
"Hey I have a part in the master plan," Jack whined, "and watch it with talking about the MP in public."
"Sorry," Vlad replied "but what does the Rio Reverso do?"
Jack let out a sigh. "The Rio Reverso has the power to return anything to it's original form."
"Anything or anyone." Rai stepped out from behind a tree. "Sounds like someone's scheming a resurrection. Care to share?"
"The Wind Demon!" Vlad jumped back into an attack stance. "The Xiaolin warriors must be near by."
"Relax Vlad, the Xiaolin Nimrods are searching for the treasure of the blind swordsman." Jack rubbed his hands together, "it's just him and us."
"Hey, Vlad is it? Can I ask you something?" Rai lent against a tree, "you seem like someone with an IQ higher than a rock, why are you working for a bed wetting cry baby like Jack?"
"Oh no, this is not the real Jack, this is robo-Jack." Vlad stretched out 'Jacks' neck until Rai could see the wiring. "See?"
"So instead of working for a bed wetting cry baby, you're working for the cheap knock off of a bed wetting cry baby."
"That's right." There was a pause. "Wait."
"I'll show you cheap knock off. JACK-BOTS ATTACK!"
A group of Jack-bots appeared and surrounded Rai
"Ah I see, going with what doesn't work. Oh well like they say, six millionth times the charm." Rai let out a yawn and a stretch. "So what they gonna do this time? Claws? Drills? Buzz saws?" The Jack-bots chests opened to reveal guns. "Ok then."
"Hey that's Kimiko's line!" Before Rai could say any thing else he was bombarded by on all ends. Soon a dust cloud was forming but the Jack-bots kept on firing.
"Yes!" Robo-Jack, "we got em."
"Most definitely," Vlad agreed.
Vlad and Robo-Jack started laughing as they watched the Jack-bots kept on firing.
"Keep it up you tin cans," Rai cheered on, "if you let up now that lovable rouge may escape."
"Don't sweat it Rai there is no way that Rai could have dodged that," Robo Jack soon did a double take. "RAI!"
"You're right," Rai agreed, "it would take an incredibly fast, incredibly skilled and incredibly good looking individual to dodge something like that."
"But but...you were there... now your hear and..." Robo Jack started stammering uncontrollably.
"Yeah about that; you see I was going to stand there and just let you shot me but then I decided not to," Rai explained. "Instead I went sight seeing and found this." Rai held up the Rio Reverso.
Robo Jack went bug eyed for a moment. "JACK BOTS! GET HIM!" After a moment of nothing happening Jack and Vlad turned to see all that remained of the Jack-Bots were some bullet ridden heaps.
"You know there might be a reason for not having Jack-bots in a circle when they are shooting," Rai said thoughtfully. "Oh well since they're gone how about we make things interesting."
"Huh?" Vlad and Robo Jack said in unison.
Rai used his foot to draw a circle in the ground. He then dropped the Wu in the middle. "Ok rules are simple, get the Wu out of the circle and its yours."
"Just like that?" Robo Jack asked.
"Yep but the catch is that we're doing it old school." Rai raised his fists. "No wind and no Wu."
Vlad and Robo Jack looked at each before turning back to Rai grinning evilly. They then charged at Rai. Rai just waited for right moment to jump into the air and split kick them both in the head. Vlad and Robo Jack went flying in different directions while Rai landed into another attack stance. Robo Jack recovered first and can in with a flying jump kick. Rai ducked and grabbed the robots leg and used its moment to send it flying.
Vlad ran in some wild punches. Rai countered by dropping to ground and spinning on his hands, kicked Vlad in the chest and back of the knees. The result was Vlad doing an involuntary back flip into a belly flop.
Robo Jack came in spinning like a top. Rai flipped over the in coming top then, in mid flip, grabbed on to Robo Jack's head. When Rai's feet touched the ground, Robo Jack become upside down and air born. Rai smirked as he watched Robo Jack fly off. "A true warrior knows not to try to stop a river," Rai said, sounding exactly like Master Fung, "but instead to make it flow the way that he wants it to."
Vlad was back on his feet and breathing angrily. Rai, not wanting to give him time to capitalise, ran up to Vlad and vaulted from his chest upwards. When Rai finally came back down, he brought his heel down hard on to the top of Vlad's head. The Vlad vibrated slightly as the force of the blow went from the top Vlad's head, all the way through his body to the ground. After a moment, Vlad collapsed. "Sweet move eh?" Rai asked the collapsed Vlad. "I modified it from something Clay taught me."
"That's it," Robo Jack said angrily, "no more Mr Nice Bot." Robo Jacks right hand came off and in its place was a long blade. In reply, Rai brought out the Dadao he had found in Guan's armoury. Two fighters faced off. At the sound of a cricket chirping, they charged at each other. At the right moment Rai leapt and striked. Rai's feet landed on the ground followed by the two halves of Robo Jack.
"I'm so happy Guan let me keep you," Rai said affectionately to the blade.
"What what wwwaaaass that-oo...?" asked the malfunctioning Robot.
"Omi's leopard strike," Rai answered, "with a dash demon added for flavour."
With there being no more opposition, Rai picked up the Rio Reverso.
"Well this has been fun but I've got to go. No no no don't get up, I'll let myself out."
Rai arrived back at Guan's temple with even more on his mind than when he had left. The encounter with dumb and dumb-bot had brought some new titbits but nothing even close to a clear answer. What was Wuya and Hannibal planning? And was that what Chase had tried to warn Rai about.
Rai was brought back to reality by someone calling his name. When found the source he saw that is was Clay, Kimiko and Omi, back from their quest, running towards him. In that moment he realised something crucial; regardless of what the future held, whether or not Rai had to face it alone was up to him.
"Guys, its so great to see you guys again and I want to hear all about your trip but before that; we've got to talk."
Note: A Dadao is
special kind of Dao (Chinese saber) that was made to be used with one
hand or two.