“Dammit Hector, you’re pissing me off,” Wei says, his eyebrows furling, “Who the hell do you think you are?”
“Who the— who the hell do you think I am?” Hector asks confidently, but in a rhetorical manner. He pauses, meanwhile their stare is still unbroken. “I’m Hector Steadfast,” he proudly states. ”I’m the guy who beat you—Wei Chin, the best martial artist in the academy—in a race across the Academy. I’m the guy who is going to beat the best martial artist in the academy.”
Wei’s eyes widen, but is heartbeat slows to a normal level, his muscles relax, and for the first time since he’s seen his friends this day, Wei feels normal. He feels like himself.
The tense stare between the two adolescents turn into a meaningful exchange of their thoughts and feelings.
“I get it Hector, something’s changed in me. I can feel its presence now. But I can’t fight it. I can’t undo what the Academy has done. I’m actually not sure if I want to undo it. There are rules for a reason. There are consequences that you must face if you break those rules. I’m going to own this situation. I’m going to face this consequence. And I’m still going to achieve my dream. I’m still going to become the best martial artist on the planet!”
The two rivals start to laugh. Their laughter grows louder and louder. The sound waves tear through the black void they float in, it dissipates with each traveling decibel of laughter. The world around them begins to come into view through the rips in the void. Eventually the large glass doors of the Hub, the glass gate rooms, the numerous crowds, and their three friends are in full view—the black void returns to the nothingness whence it came.
The sounds of the crowds return to, the familiar female announcer, and the voice of Nani yelling, “Hey! Hector! Wei! Why are you two all of a sudden laughing? What are you two up to? Why in the world were you two just creepily staring at each other?”
The two laughing teens abruptly stop laughing, and they come back to reality, out of their faux telepathy. They turn to Nani and respond together, “Let’s get a move on! We’re going to be late for Summer Survival Camp!”
Wei turns to Paige and says, “You will do nothing during this week’s ordeal. I will provide all you will ever need. I will take on your responsibilities. On my honor, I will repay my debt to you in this manner. Will you accept Paige?”
Paige’s cheeks redden, she looks at the small muscular man and says, “That would be acceptable, since the point of this exercise has always been to encourage camaraderie and teamwork among school mates.” She smiles warmly at Wei, closing her eyes, while slightly tilting her head.
Lennon sees Paige’s face, and something comes over him. His desire to get to know every woman on the planet overcomes him. He positions himself out of Nani’s immediate vicinity and then he shifts his body in front of Paige, moving Wei aside. Lennon grabs both her hands and says, “Hello, my name is Lennon. We haven’t met formally yet and I’d like to get to know you some more. How about you and I stick together during the Survival Camp. Wei here declared he’d do your tasks, which means that would leave us a lot of time to get to know one another.” He smiles, and Paige reluctantly returns a matching facial expression.
“Hector! Who on Terra is this guy? He is such a creep!” Wei asks, as he straightens up his posture.
“His name is Lennon. Ah well, you don’t have to worry about anything, Lennon only wants to get to know woman. In fact he wants to get to know all the women.” Hector replies.
“What a strange man.” Wei remarks.
“Hey! Lennon! I thought we were getting really close… Why are you talking so passionately with Paige!?” Nani says, bewildered at the sight of Lennon.
“Well… I want to get to know all the woman on the planet Nani. That means I must meet and get to know Paige. Don’t you understand?”
“Lennon, let’s make this simple and say I do know what that means. Well let’s get going, I’m sure Mr. Teech has got something nasty in store for tardy students. I just hope it’s not too difficult a punishment.”
“You’re right Nani, let’s get going everyone.”