"Everyone has an angel; a guardian who watches over us. We can't know what form they'll take: one day, old man; next day, little girl. But don't let appearances fool you - they can be as fierce as any dragon. But they're not here to fight our battles, but to whisper from our hearts, reminding that it's us... it's everyone of us who holds the power over the worlds we create."
-Suckerpunch: Zach Snyder
With The Next Dragon Warrior, it was ch. 27 Tai and I
With Making the Cut it was ch. 9 The Face-Off at Keen Lee Academy
But this was my hardest chapter of this story.
There wasn't a chapter I worked on that I wasn't also working on this one.
I really hope it shows!
Thank you all for sticking with this story.
The Eyes of the Wolverine
I was out matched, there was no denying it and no use trying to convince myself otherwise. I could say that good always triumphs over evil, size doesn't matter, that I believe in myself, or any words of Wisdom that Po or Master Shifu would say, but none of it would change the fact that I was a 13 year old badger and he was a lynx in his mid 20's
I knew it the second I crossed over
Once I walked onto the center of the pier he circled around me, still holding Jada tightly dragging her with him. He stopped at the rope bridge. Swinging my knife away from Jada for a second, he sliced the ropes to the bridge letting it fall along with it, any chance of escape or intervention. The mass of wood and rope clattered against the supports of the other pier hanging lifelessly on the opposing side.
There goes my thread of hope.
He threw Jada to the ground beside him and her body went limp. I prayed that she was only unconscious. He walked away from where she lay, now uninterested in her. He tossed my knife back across the 10 foot gap onto the pier where the Masters and the massive crowd of onlookers stood. He looked in the crowds direction and shouted "I'll kill the girl with my bare hands if anyone tries to make it over. Or fly over" He added with a leer toward Crane, not that Crane would be able to fly with his wing.
Now the lynx turned toward me, with a face that was shockingly neutral. Honest.
It's all come to this.
Then he spoke. "You know, when Quiang told me that Master Lee and Montenegro's murderer was a badger who was barely a teenager, I was nearly sick to my stomach. It's practically an insult to their legacy."
As he stepped closer I kept my distance from him, but I couldn't imagine why. Hadn't I known this would happen? The second my knife penetrated Keen Lee, I might as well have sold my soul to the devil. The second I did it, I belonged to Severin.
And he knew it, of course he knew. How could he not?
I looked up at him, my eyes trying to put forth some ounce of defiance. He smiled sardonically and I knew it wasn't working. "It's interesting isn't it?" he said beginning to raise an eyebrow. "We've never met and yet we know so much about each other."
He was right.
In just the brief amount of time I'd heard of him and even shorter amount of time knowing him, he had become my worst enemy and everything that terrified me.
"Quiang told me all I needed to know about you. Told me about how you killed our masters. Look around." He gestured to the rest of the platform. "No throwing star, no knife. You never really did it on you own. You always had help. You think either one of my masters would have needed help killing you?" He circled closer till he was so close I could smell his scent. "Do you think I'd need help killing you?"
Barely able to speak I uttered "Maybe."
That "Maybe" got me a punch right to the face. I didn't see his fist coming. It seemed to have materialized inches from my face. He had it ready to deliver at the first sign of my answer being anything but "No."
I staggered backwards but found myself in his grip again as he grabbed me by the fur of my chest just like Keen did. "You just got lucky then."...
Master Shifu: If luck was on your side, I think that makes you pretty special.
...he stated before throwing me to the ground with surprising force. I landed on my shoulder. Thankfully it was my left shoulder but that didn't make it any less painful.
For someone who wants to kill me, he sure isn't doing it. I'd seen him attack with much more ferocity with Monkey. He said he'd snap Jada's neck. Why wasn't he just doing that with me?
He wants to prolong it.
He wouldn't deign to show mercy. He wants it to last as long as he could muster. He'd only be satisfied as long as he saw me suffering. Why end appeasement when you could delay it? I was with a warrior that hurt others and planned carefully because nothing would satisfy him more than to see me in pain.
As I started to sit up, my stoical stance getting harder to continue, he walked over to me and pulled me up to him again, this time grabbing me by my head. Clawing into the hairs of my scalp he yanked my head backwards forcing me, cringing, to look him in the eyes, his stark gray eyes. "I want you to understand why this is happening to you." he hissed. "Because you had to play the vigilante. You should have just stayed out of it. Your masters and friends might have been dead, but the world would have been better for it."
He believed it, everything he said. He wasn't trying to convince me of something he knew to be false. He believed it. His masters were gone, the people who had raised him and taught him every maneuver in his cutthroat mindset,
and it was because of me.
He thrusted me out of his grip and spun around kicking me across the face before I could even regain my balance. I stumbled backwards and spat on the ground. It was an even mixture of saliva and blood, the pier's wood absorbing the stain in its riveted grain.
"Was saving them worth it?" he asked.
As I wiped my mouth, I wondered if there was any way that the masters could toss me my knife. But I knew they wouldn't, thinking of Severin getting a hold of the knife before I could reach it.
It was the first time I had thought of them since I walked onto the platform. The other pier had been silent as a graveyard. What were they thinking? Was Po biting his nails? Was Shifu looking on with his look of solemnity that he had in times of grave crisis? And Saxon, Was he anywhere near as worried for me as he was when he saw Jada in danger?
God, please let her get out of this.
"Well, was it worth it?" he repeated as he
gave me a swift kick to one of my legs
I couldn't help but think it looked rather childish, kicking someone when there already writhing on the ground. Again, I thought about how vicious he had been with Monkey and knew if he actually went all out I would be dead already.
My agony was progressing to a never-reaching crescendo, fueled even more by his tepid reaction. I lifted my head and saw him just staring at me. He was waiting for me to get up. He wanted to see me make an effort that we both knew would be pointless. Even though I knew it wouldn't happen, I wanted to just lie there. Have him finish me off.
Was I really so at peace with dying?
I never imagined I would be. I had often been told stories of great fallen warriors that accepted death in the heat of battle, but I was never able to fully wrap my head around it.
Was it just knowing that Jada would be safe in the end or was it something else?
Maybe my mind was just done, rejoicing in the fact that it would never have to worry again.
I began to sit up again, this painful act seeming redundant, seeing Severin still looking at me with his tilted eyes. Somehow I saw nothing but him. We might have been in a field or in the training hall for all I knew.
I could hear him blink as the folds of the skin on his eyelids wrinkled, closed, and separated.
I stared at him, his expression, the way he held himself, and I understood. I had gotten to that point like Po had said.
I was reading him.
He seemed to say
The second you're down and don't get up I'll kill her. I'll do it right in front of your eyes. I have nothing against this girl. I don't even know her. It's simply because I know she's important to you. You killed my masters while I wasn't there to save them. Now I'm going to kill her while you're here to see it but can't save her.
You are sacrificing yourself and saving NO ONE.
Is this what it's like for Po when he reads me? Was this inner peace, or am I going more delirious than I thought? I had a strong leaning toward the latter. No matter which one was true though I took his iconoclastic motives seriously. I couldn't go down with Jada so vulnerable.
Jada Zadora: Do you ever get scared
Jo Crevan: As long as I'm breathing...
What happens when I stop?
Putting as much strength in it as I could, I went to punch him square in the chest. Before I could make any contact though, Severin intercepted it by grabbing onto my wrist in his tight muscular hold. Looking at me rather amused he said "Now don't tell me that was you actually trying."
He quickly yanked me by my arm jerking me suddenly toward him till his extended knee brought me to an abrupt stop against my stomach.
I let out a groan of agony and he tossed me back down. As I lay there I couldn't remember what a life without pain was like. I knew he must be looking down on me again, relishing in my ignominious fate. My acceptance of death from a few seconds ago had evaporated, I was now terrified again of the idea, but not an ounce of hope had been added.
God, Please don't let this be it....
I remembered saying that exact phrase the night the Valley was evacuating for the second time.
Must I have an audience for my death to see how pathetic I am?
Is this really the fate of the Next Dragon Warrior?
I looked over at Jada. She hadn't moved from her position.
I saw Po. As I had guessed he looked beyond worried, well past nail-biting and having worked his way up to silently praying. I wanted to be able to read him as well, but at the same time I didn't. It would just tell me the details of his anxiety, and that was the last thing I needed. But all I wanted to picture was his looks of encouragement. Like when he and I talked about Jada, or helped me dye my fur, or when he was teaching me new moves in training-
Our last Lesson?
While the idea was still forming in my head I began to crawl to the edge of the platform.
"Where can you go?" Severin said tauntingly. He was standing close to the edge and I prayed that he would stay there. Thankfully he remained, still not seeing any threat in me.
When I got as far as I could I once again shakily stood my eyes narrowing at him. Gritting my teeth through the pain I ran full force at him.
Severin apparently thought I was trying to run at him with another punch so he began to make a low block, accommodating to my comparative height, but at my moment of closing in I jumped snapping my foot out catching him right under his chin. The abrupt strike sent his gaze toward to the sky, knocking him backwards and off the edge of the platform.
I stood breathing for a second not fully believing it was over before I remembered Jada. I quickly ran back to her, as fast as I could with my slight limp.
I shook her gently. "Jada, Jada wake up." Her eyes fluttered open as she lifted a hand to her head starting to sit up. "Jo?" she said weakly.
I began to help her to stand up. "Jada, are you-" I stopped as a bit of movement caught my eye.
A soaking wet spotted paw surfaced from the edge of the platform just five feet away from us clawing into the wood for traction.
Severin had simply waded through the water and climbed up the pier supports to get back to us.
Why the HELL did you think knocking him off the pier would make a difference?!
It's how he got Jada in the first place, wasn't it? He had been waiting under the pier to make his move and now he had done it again.
As his head came up I saw the fury in his eyes. No longer did they just want to draw out the pain. He wanted death
He wanted blood.
The moment he had a footing, he leapt. As he leapt toward me ready to kill, a time I'm told that your life is suppose to flash before your eyes, it was at that precise instant, that I saw-
-the eyes of the wolverine.
In the crowd of onlookers, by some chance, instead of my eyes landing on Po again or Shifu, or any random person, they had fallen on the wolverine.
I don't know how, maybe my subconscious mind and body took over, I doubt I'd ever be able to explain it but I knew.
I just knew.
Po: If it is important I'm sure it will reveal itself to you when the time is right. Dreams have a way of doing that.
I shot my hand out and with just the tip of my finger I struck Severin in the center of his upper chest.
Where the wolverine always pointed on himself first.
Severin seemed to slow down in mid air.
Or maybe time slowed down.
Or maybe I sped up.
From my touch a ring appeared to expand as though I just created a ripple in glowing water across his body. With the growth of its expansion to the farthest points of his body it seemed to disable each segment as it reached them.
I saw Severin's expression. Completely dumbfounded. It seemed to say "How?" Following his smug assuredness, nothing made me happier than to see that expression.
Then I made the 2nd strike just below his navel right where the center of the Wolverines first circle always was.
3rd strike to the left above the navel.
4th strike to the right side.
In the same order the wolverine did.
Each of the last three touches generated their own expanding circles. For an instant the the 3 ripples created the 3 circles I had seen on the wolverine's stomach. With one final strike I struck the center overlap of the circles which seemed to absorb them all in a brilliant flash. After that he had no expression at all.
Severin Cai hit the ground like a sack of flour, in both sound and liveliness.
He was still.
I saw a breath inflate his nostrils but otherwise saw no other signs of life in him. He might have been sleeping. He looked oddly peaceful, the last word I would have ever associated with him.
An eruption of applause resounded from the pier.
Oh right. There's people
I felt Jada next to me. Having gone through a whirlwind of elevated emotion in such a brief amount of time, she looked at me in grateful confusion.
Before she could think of what to say, I brought her close to me. Clutching her head I kissed her on the forehead so happy she was okay, feeling her heavy breathing rifled through my fur.
"Jo!" Po called out on the other side. He had pulled up the dangling bridge. "Catch!" Po threw the end ropes of the bridge and I grabbed onto it. After making absolutely certain that the rope was tied tightly to platform me and Jada crossed back to the larger pier gracious to be surrounded by people.
I had spent a lifetime on that platform
Jada had barely set foot on the pier when Saxon ran to her and held her tighter than I had just done. I may have even seen a tear of relief clinging to his white fur. I hadn't had time to notice as I felt Po scoop me up into a hug lifting me off the ground. "Jo, that was amazing!"
"Still bruised, Po" I said wincing against his embrace.
"Sorry," Po said apologetically letting me down as Shifu appeared next to me and asked "Jo, who taught you?" his voice alive with astounded curiosity.
"Taught me what?" I asked confused.
"The pentad strike." Po and Shifu said together.
"The pressure point move Oogway used to defeat Tai Lung." Po added clarifying.
I stared at them both unbelievingly then back at Severin's body lying motionless on the platform.
Was I really just there?
Could it have been?
My eyes darted around looking for the Wolverine but no longer saw him anywhere in the crowd.
He had armed me.
He had given me the protection.
I looked back at them still curious of my answer
"I'm not entirely sure."
Remember when they talked about the strike in the first chapter? I spent quite a bit of time watching the move that Oogway stopped Tai Lung with and realized that it created the 3 interlinked rings. I decided to give it the name pentad as there were 5 strikes (the prefix penta means 5).
I apologize for making yall wait so long for this chapter, like most climatic chapters, I wanted it to be perfect. I hope it was.
Two more chapters left!