Disclaimer Kim Possible, and all other related characters and material is the property of Dave Shooley and Disney Entertainment. I do not own them, nor do I claim such false ownership, no copyright infringement is intended.
Chapter 9: The Trial
Even though he awoke every morning before the sun, Ron had somehow adjusted his sleeping schedule and managed to get up refreshed and feeling like he actually got a decent night's sleep. Today was different, today, was his hell day.
When he was awoken in his room by Sensei and small collective of other students it was just as dark as it was when he usually got up, only he wasn't refreshed, and even though he couldn't see the alarm clock before being rushed out, he knew it was far earlier than he would have liked. Once on his feet and outside he was given enough time to through on the black garb of the ninja over his boxers. It was early in the morning, but it was still hot, and the cloth that now clung to him didn't exactly make the transition from sleep to awake much better.
He was sweating, standing before Sensei as a small fire burned in the center of the main compound. All around him the rest of the students and instructors circled, watching with blank stares. All of them had gone through what he was about to endure at one point in their life…or so he was told. This was the beginning of his first trial of his training.
What exactly this trial entailed he wasn't sure, it was forbidden for him to have any sort of prior knowledge of what was to befall him. He was certain that this was a necessary precaution, but it didn't exactly have him brimming with confidence.
Ron scanned the crowd while he still had the time; Sensei was preparing himself, an ancient looking scroll being passed to him from one of the older instructors. Most of the students present were those of a more advanced class than he was, some he knew, others were complete strangers. His eyes finally found what they were searching for, between two of the taller male students, Yori. Her eyes are what caught his attention…unlike the other students who stared directly ahead, hers were fixed on him. He smiled, hoping to get one in return; he would need it for today…only he never got it, at least, if he did he was unable to see it. It was at that point that Sensei had decided to begin the ceremonies.
Damn…here goes nothing.
Everything hurt, the world blurred beside him, tunnel vision took over. His journey was half-way over, but it felt like it was just beginning. Sweat consumed him, his once pitch black clothing now soaked in sweat and covered with large blotches of earth brown. Yamanouchi was miles away, almost a full day's trek. It was clear that he would need to camp for the night at some point…but he had to lose the two shadows behind him first.
The instructions of his mission were still fresh in his mind, journey to the small mountain peak past the forest. This peak held a special flower, a flower which he had to pick and then protect until his arrival back at Yamanouchi. Ron couldn't help but think of the beginning of the recent Batman movie when hearing the conditions of his trial, only now he didn't see things so jokingly.
The mountain wasn't terribly high, even when he reached the peak he found that the air wasn't as thin as he might had expected, and picked the flower at the stem without much effort. Once he had it in his hands however, he simply stared at it, thinking for the longest time. He knew that from here on out, things were going to be much harder. There was no way it could be as simple as to trek all day through the forests surrounding the school, climb a mountain without equipment, and pluck a flower at the peak and bring it back. Not that there was anything easy about that, but for a test of his ninja ability…it was almost too easy.
Once he stepped off this mountain top he knew he wouldn't get a moment's rest. He would always be looking over his shoulder for some shadow to strike out of nowhere. It was just a matter of time…it didn't take them long to catch up with him.
"Them" included two ninja students, most likely the best Yamanouchi had, and their mission was quite obvious to him. Where he was to protect this flower and himself for that matter, theirs was to destroy it, do everything in their power to make him fail…so much for easy and simple.
They were still behind him, each glance over their shoulder proved that they were catching up with him. His legs were tired, and wouldn't carry him much further. He had been running and jumping over fallen logs for some time now, he couldn't even tell how long. Ron darted here and there, jumping behind large bushes and running through heavy cover, doing anything he could think of to lose his pursuers to no avail. He knew he couldn't beat them, there was no chance at all of him winning any kind of hand to hand combat with them, his only option was to run. Right now, it seemed that even that option was no longer open to him. He had to lose them, he had to gain the advantage, but without full knowledge of the woods that surrounded him, or weapons for that matter, how was he supposed to stand a chance against them?
"Think Stoppable, think!!" Ron was getting desperate; he could hear the rapid footsteps approaching closer to him with each passing moment. There had to be something he could do. What did he have to work with? Nothing really, just the flower he was meant to protect and the clothes on his back. Damn…they were getting closer, almost directly beside him. But wait…maybe he could use this. Yeah…that's it, Ron smiled slightly, just enough to appease himself but not enough for the shadows beside him to notice.
Ron waited patiently, keeping his pace and watching his sides. Beside him two black blurs were now closer than they had ever been, their feet almost invisible they were moving so fast. It was quite clear that he was surrounded, and finished. At least, that's what he let them think. Suddenly, and without any kind of precursor, Ron dug his feet in the dirt, stopping himself cold and leaving the two shadows to bolt ahead of him. He now had time, space, and invisibility, if only for a moment, to move however he wished. He would not let this opportunity pass him by. While the two ahead of him quickly turned, Ron ducked out of sight, sliding down a small ravine to the west at least five meters high and emptied him into a small creek.
He now had extended his advantage by a few more seconds, but he had still to clinch it, finalize his position and invisibility. Looking around he found he had little more to work with than up top, even less dense amount of trees, numerous twigs that would easily snap under his weight and sounding his position, and a fallen stump opening a large hole in the earth.
He could hide under the stump, but that was too easy, that would be the first place they would search for him. No more options were left. Oh well, he had bought some time and could gain a decent lead again. There was no way in telling how much further his goal was, but he surely couldn't stay much longer here.
Once again he ran, this time it took them longer to find him, about two minutes before the shadows once again appeared and disappeared around him. They were scanning the area at the same time, getting to know any and all places he could hide or move to this time. There was no way he was going to get that kind of opportunity again. If he was going to get any kind of relief, he would have to fight them; he would have to defeat them. Easier said then done.
Ron tried to think back on his training, as well as the parameters of the trial. They were pretty open ended, he was given nothing, and told only to survive and protect his flower. If he was going to have even a fraction of a chance in holding his own against these two, he would need some kind of weapon, at the very least a staff.
Looking around him he saw no suitable substitutes, any sticks on the ground were dead far too long to be strong enough, and the bamboo was far too thick to cut down with nothing but his bare hands. There was only one option that came to him, something he hadn't though of in quite some time, something that could get him in serious trouble if he overstepped his boundaries…but he had to try it.
Once again, Ron stopped dead in his tracks, standing his ground and digging his feet in deep into the earth beneath him. This time the shadows had plenty of time to react, disappearing into the trees for the briefest of moments before reappearing directly above him, descending in a power-strike stance.
The blows came hard, hard enough to knock him cold then and there…if it wasn't for the lotus blade that is. Even though their masks covered most of their faces, Ron could see the surprise in their eyes. The lotus blade-turned staff in his hands had been called to him just in time to block their blows, sending Ron back, kicking up earth behind him. He had done it, he now had a suitable weapon, in fact, and he now had one of the most powerful weapons one could wield. There was no turning back now, if Sensei was to yell at him he would just have to deal with it, besides, right now he needed to focus on the two ninjas before him, pulling out their own staffs seemingly out of nowhere.
This was it, no goofing around, no more bafoonish Ron…it was time to step up. Of course, he had said that before. Taking a quick breath he pushed all that macho talk aside and made a deal with himself. As long as he gave everything he had, he couldn't be mad at himself if he lost.
The clashing of wood and mythical blade rung in his ears and continued for several minutes while his feet moved as if in a dance. Ron darted back and forth, turning, ducking, dodging, and leaping in the air. His training was becoming automatic to him now, much as if he was riding a bike or driving a car. He no longer had to think much about what he had to do, he just did it. Time and again he would stumble and falter, after all, he was still learning. Fortunately for him such mistakes were quickly remedied, just barely saving him from a painful defeat.
He was doing well…at least well enough to keep the shadows at bay, but again, not enough to take charge. His eyes watched intently, watching their feet when he could see them, watching their moves, looking desperately for an opening. He wouldn't get one, not this time. The two had learned their lesson, and were not giving him an inch. Ron was given all the chances he was going to get, what it all boiled down to now, was luck.
Ron's ears twitched, and his eyes suddenly darted off to the corner, as far as he could go without turning his head around. He didn't hear anything exactly, nor did he see or smell anything…but somehow he knew something was behind him. For as long as he could he tried to ignore it, this feeling however became far too pressing. At the split-second's decision, Ron blocked one last blow, ducked, and rolled back until there was a decent five foot difference between himself and the where he had been standing.
Once stable again Ron lifted his head and breathed a sigh of relief. Never again would he doubt that mysterious feeling, it had served him well this time. For where he had once stood, now held a third ninja student instead, their fist slammed hard into the earth at the end of their strike. As relieved as he was that he had escaped the blow, Ron now realized that he had three ninjas…not two…to worry about.
Well, this was it, this was his last stand. Ron knew now that there was no chance in winning now. He had failed…
…but that didn't mean he was going out without a fight.
Ron's face constricted into a determined scowl, the lotus staff now presented before him in a readied stance, letting his opponents know that he was not backing down and was ready for their attack. What happened next, however, took him by complete surprise, he almost couldn't believe it.
The third ninja, the one that had missed him by just a fraction of a second, turned their head and nodded at the other two behind. Both nodded in return, but that's not what Ron was surprised about, no. As he watched, the other two shadows leaped into the air, and disappeared in sight. They had been dismissed? He wasn't quite sure what to think…was it a trick?
After a few moments none of that really mattered, an attack had presented itself, and it wasn't from the two who had left. The third ninja came at him full force, striking hard and fast. Ron did his best to block the first blows, distracted by his own confusion, but soon regained his form and was able to study his opponent.
They were quite advanced, far more than he was used to, and it soon became clear that the reason the other two had left was because no additional force was needed. One on one was better odds, but the person before him wasn't anything normal, and it was quite believable that he might have had better chances with the two others together than this single one alone.
The lotus staff in his hands vibrated hard with each strike that he blocked, and again with each strike of his that was blocked in turn. The two exchanged blows for what seemed like an eternity, neither seeming to tire; at least, if they did they didn't show it. Ron had been feeling the effects for quite some time now, but he wasn't ready to give up. His opponent was good, but he was holding his own so far, and with each passing moment, a small part of him started to grow inside, a part of him that actually thought he could win.
Ron became more confident, and therefore more risky with the strikes he took. Instead of quick, safe, hits Ron used long but powerful strikes, dragging the staff through the air by its end to get better reach and increase his leverage. The shadow before him leaped and dodged almost every swing, those that did strike hit hard, and despite the slow movements, it seemed to almost take them by surprise.
Ron began to smile; he was getting cocky, taking much more of a risk than he should. He lept back, taking five feet between he and his opponent before rushing forward, switching the positions of his hands on the staff and dragging it on the ground as he rushed forward. At about three feet in he stopped and used the leverage of his hands to take a powerful upward strike. However, this left his mid-section open to attack. The shadow leaned back slightly, dodging the blow and using both fists knocked Ron back, hard. They leapt forward, trying to lunge for a finishing strike. Quickly Ron grabbed his staff with two hands, holding it in front of him to block.
His mind was moving faster, still working automatically, but also being able to plan combinations and even traps to lure his opponent into. When the shadow grabbed the staff they unknowingly stepped into one of these, Ron's foot quickly taking the legs out beneath them and sending them flat on their back. His staff moved quickly, striking square on the side of the head, forcing a feminine moan from behind the black cloth.
Ron bent down and quickly pulled off the mask that hid the face of his opponent. Sure enough, their features were that of a female. A large red welt on her cheek from where his staff had made contact was the only blemish on her face. This face was familiar to him, far too familiar.
Right at that moment, Ron became painfully aware of his mistake. His guard was down, right now she wasn't a friend, she was an opponent. He had her down, he had his chance to deliver a finishing blow and be on his way…STUPID!!!
Quickly he tried to rectify this mistake, taking the staff in both hands and starting to drive it down for the strike, but he was far too late. Inches above her neck Yori caught it with both hands, and pushed it up hard enough to slip through Ron's hands and strike him directly in the face. He fell back, blinded by pain, unaware of what had happened, until he awoke on the ground a split second later, Yoris eyes staring directly into his, her hand made into a fist and placed directly under his chin.
"I am sorry Stoppable-san, but you have failed."
Wow, it's been a while since I've written a real action chapter. I do believe the last one was way back in the first installment of my FOREVERMORE series. I think I might have gotten a bit better since then, hopefully you guys will agree. I know this chapter is shorter than most, but it ended appropriately enough I think. BTW It might be a while before the next chapter. Saturday I graduate and move back home. But once home I might have a new job as well as a new apartment which means a second move. I'll get it to you ASAP either way.