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Hey Everybody!

Ok maybe I'm going a little out on the limb. I know it's a bit different. But I wanted to explore Jo's past. It's just something came to me.



That's what they were. Any time they had their stuff, it was the only word that could come close.

The kitchen was filled with a miasma of alcohol mingling with the familiar sickening smell.
I'm probably the only kid my age in the area who's seen this use of drugs.

Like most nights, my parents were nervously going over money as they argued.

"They're the people that order the most from us." My mom said.

My dad answered jitterly. "We either have to delay someone's order or shorten each of their supply a little."

They could go at it like this for hours. They usually did. It would often end without any conclusion, they'd both go in separate rooms and take more. How I ended up in a world like this was anyone's guess. I knew there were kids in the world that were born into these lives, but I never would have guessed that I'd be one of them.

I stood there just watching as they argued over "new buyers" and "people interested." Both full-grown badgers of average build. There clothes might have looked well made if they kept decent care of them. They had just had a dose themselves. I guess this was why they didn't have enough for their buyers.

I often watched, though I didn't want to. I was unsure what a child was to do at this age. I had been standing in their presence for nearly 10 minutes when my mom finally gave me some acknowledgement, which was nothing more than a quick glance of disgust, before turning to my dad and saying "Cal, Xanidor is out of his room."

Without even looking at me, my dad said "Will you go back in your room, Xanidor! We told you not to bother Mommy and Daddy when we're busy."

"Mommy and Daddy" he made it sound so innocent. I don't think I'd even addressed either of them as such.

I said innocently "But you're always busy."

My dad jerked his head toward me with a look that told me I just took his authority into question. He made a quick stride toward me. I knew what was coming, but I didn't run. I knew it would be no use. He would get what he wanted. He always got what he wanted.


I staggered to the ground from my dad's punch. My face felt hot from where his knuckles had collided.

I looked up and saw my him lording over me like a mordant edifice. No doubt, he was restraining himself from delivering another blow.


My eyes swelled up with tears, but unlike most kids my age I had mastered keeping them in. It was something I had to do a lot. For all I knew, if I showed any tears I would get punched again. After all, tears were a sign of weakness, and weakness couldn't be shown, at least that was what I was taught.

So I quickly backed back into my achromatic room, barren of everything but misery. They often told me to my face I was a financial burden to them, but with the money they made with their sales, I could never find where any of it went to my well-being.

I left the door open just a crack.
My whole life, or what little I could remember about these few years, seemed to endlessly be viewed through a crack in the door.

That's how everything was about to be seen.

After another 15 minutes of arguing, several pounds echoed from the front door to the house. Both my parents froze in fright.


I thought the front door had been slammed open, but when I looked I saw it was completely knocked down.

Now unimpeded by the door, a band of well built Rhinos each dressed in uniforms rushed in. The local authorities.

"What's the meaning of this!" My father retorted.

Without answering, the rhinos spread out throughout the house. One of them went straight for the closet where their "stash" was. He pulled out one of the many bags filled with the substance I had become unwillingly familiar with. He called to the others alerting them of his find.

"That's not ours!" My mother blurted out, but the damage was done. The Rhinos were already restraining both of them.

"Check the other rooms for more." one of them ordered.

A second later my door burst open. I stood there rooted to the ground.

The rhino was utterly surprised. I could tell I was the last thing he expected to see. He shouted over his shoulder "Hey we've got a kid in here!"

That distracted some of them from the drug bust. Next thing I knew, I was being ushered from behind by one the rhinos out of the house.

All the rhinos were swarming around me, each colossal in size.

"One of our biggest busts yet."

"That kid's got quite a bruise on his face."

"What kind of sick people are these?"

Outside the house the cool night air felt a world's difference than the nauseous interior of the house. Many of the neighbors from the surrounding houses were starting to take notice. A small crowd of people formed in the street each inquisitive as to what was happening. I saw a large barred enclosed carriage my parents were being dragged into.

Only now that I saw they were a distance away did I let my guard down. I let the tears flow at their own pace. Around me the rhinos were still talking.

"...the Valley of Peace."

"Are you sure?"

"It's the best place I know of."

The one closest to me looked uneasy. He kneeled down to my level.

"Do you have any other family in the area?"

I shook my head. The only family I've ever known was now being taken in by the authorities.

He put both his hands on each of my shoulders and looked me in the eyes with a look of sincere empathy. "Your mom and dad have to go some place to get better. We're gonna take you to some really nice people. They're gonna take care of you. Does that sound ok?"

I made one last glance at my parents who were futilely trying to break free of the rhino's as they were being carted away, before I turned back to the rhino.

I nodded.


The rhino's slowly began to darken till they were swallowed by the night sky which was now slowly brightening into a sunlight filled room.


I sat up in bed. It was morning.

"Jo, are you awake in there?"

I realized the morning gong had just rung. I jumped out of bed, opened my door, and made a fist in my palm.

"Good morning, Master."

Shifu was standing at his usual position at the end of the hall and the rest of The Five and Po were already in their doorways.

"2nd time this week you've been late getting up." he said reproachfully.

"I'm sorry, Master Shifu. I'm still getting used to it."

He nodded and said "Keep working on it."

We walked to the kitchen for breakfast. The first thing I learned coming back to the Jade Palace was that the masters ate in another building, not the out door kitchen the campers had eaten at. Zeng had made breakfast that morning.

When we sat down at the table Po asked "So what kept you asleep this time?"

"Some dream I was having." I said trying to make it sound uninteresting.

"What was it about?" Master Shifu asked hinting doubtful curiosity.

I thought for a second about what my answer should be. "I don't even remember. You know how dreams are like that."

I could tell Master Shifu wasn't completely convinced, but he spared me the questions.

"I hate when that happens." said Master Crane. "I can remember having great dreams all the time, but when I wake up that's all I remember about them."

I felt relieved. Crane's comment added a sense believability. I figured it was better than making up some crazy dream.

Po once told me how he lied to his dad about having a dream about noodles. It didn't exactly help with his father's already serious noodle obsession.

I stared absentmindedly at my plate of eggs and ham Zeng had made as the others helped themselves.

Was it just a dream? It seemed so vivid. The sight of my birth parents acting wildly under the influence, like a moving picture. I could never recall anything about my past life before the Valley when I tried to before. I wasn't even able to remember my name before my foster parents told me. How was it possible to have a dream about something that really happened when you didn't even remember it? The more I thought about it, the more real it seemed. It was more than a dream. It was an actual event that happened. I could picture the house, and recall the stomach-turning smells, and feel the pain. It was all there in the back of my mind, forgotten but not lost. Out of site but not out of mind. Ignored but not purposefully, or maybe it was.

Did I somehow suppress these feelings at such a young age? And if I did, what was making the memory come back now?

I shook my head in agitation. None of that was important. You can't change the past.

"Yesterday is history"

All you can do with the past is learn from it and keep moving forward.

"Today is a gift"

So maybe my biological parents sucked, but they aren't in my life anymore. For good reason. There are others I'm able to turn too. I was lucky to have the Masters looking out for me.

I smiled just watching the Five, Po, and Shifu eat, while I was thinking. Apparently Po noticed. With his mouth half full he asked "Do I have something on my face?"

"No," I said realizing what I was doing. "Just thinking."

Po turned back to his food and I started on my own plate.

I had a new family now,

better than I could have ever wished for

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