I have returned with another episode, picking up right after I left off with "Mikhuyana" (but less of the disturbing factor this time)! Consider this as some fanfic-ey Christmas present for all y'alls.
And do not fear the OC whose name is Uarcay. She's the big-a** reptile person who just wants to learn about humans... and nosy dragons. She also needs to learn to pull some of her weight if she's gonna stay at the temple.
Morning had descended upon the Xiaolin Temple, slowly but surely. The sun shown in the window of the monks' resting quarters, telling them that they needed to get out of bed and start another day full of training, Shen Gong Wu collecting – everything following the status quo.
A sweet aroma floated outside the kitchen and trailed down the temple hallway. It was already breakfast time, judging how everyone in the kitchen could be seen busily scrounging around.
At the table, Clay had made up a whole flapjack stack for himself – drenched in maple syrup, topped with a square of butter – and was preparing to slice-and-dice it with a large knife. Dojo was seen sitting to the right of him, writing down the day's agenda on a notepad along with other interesting things. Nearby, Kimiko was impatiently walking to and fro, arms folded against her, occasionally stopping to check on her omelet, which had been rotating around in the new microwave for far too long. Last but not least, Omi, who had bravely squeezed a whole bunch of oranges, began proudly delivering a pitcher of juice to the table.
"Here you are my friends!" he wheezed, reaching up and thwomping down the orange juice. Dojo and Clay were practically forced to take notice. "I have successfully wrung this good-morning fruit dry of its tasty, vitamin-enriched liquids!"
Clay briefly peeked above his twenty some-odd pancakes. "Much obliged there, Omi!" He tipped his brand-new hat to the bald fellow.
"And record time!" suddenly remarked Dojo. "With those juicing skills I won't have to fork over extra at the market! Heh, ya know, since we're a little tight on cash for the time being."
"What is 'cash?'" inquired Uarcay quietly, whose big brown form had been sitting omnipresently at the table's far end. "Is it something you use for trade?"
At that very moment the timer went off on Kim's omelet, drawing the Fire monk back to the microwave. "It's more like a way to purchase anything you want, depending how much 'cash' is on you." Kim proceeded to pull out her piping-hot meal.
"Yeah, talk to Kimiko; she knows ALL there's to know about commerce," claimed the Earth monk as he sawed his pancakes with the knife.
Omi head appeared at the table when he hopped up, drinking glasses in hand. "I am currently studying the standard commodities of worldwide business, so you may ask ME too if you like!" he told the bemarun.
"You'd better keep on studying then. If you don't know, Uarcay definitely won't." Kimiko approached and plopped herself and her plate down; Uarcay in the meantime kept sitting at the far end, nary a blink from her one eye.
As they were about ready to eat breakfast as a group, the monks noticed their one missing member, their one Shoku member, drag his feet through the doorway. He almost seemed to be sleepwalking as he took his plate and picked up some leftover pancakes with closed eyes. Then he finally settled in between Omi and Uarcay and managed a yawn – which was much more drawn-out than usual.
"Where have you been?" Omi asked Raimundo on the spot. "In bed? SLEEPING?"
Rai rubbed his eyes and took the orange juice pitcher to pour a glass. "Agh, quit bugging me about that wouldja? I've already got enough to deal with."
"Well you DID miss out on six a.m. meditation time, again," admitted Clay with his mouth full. "You been catchin' enough z's?"
"Not exactly." Rai stared at the shine in his glass before drinking from it. "...It's just I've been having this – this weird... throbbing sensation in my chest. And it's getting REALLY annoying."
Clay dug his fork into another pancake morsel. "Huh. Cantcha just shake it off and sleep with it?"
"Nuh-uh, cuz the throbbing only gets WORSE at night."
"Ah geez, that's too bad," Kimiko commented, having not even so much as touched her omelet yet. Uarcay cocked her head to listen better.
"Hmm, it's your ticker ain't it?" the cowboy pondered without taking another bite. Raimundo didn't answer him, and instead focused on cutting his own pancakes.
"Can... we do something to actually HELP?" Omi speculated, outreaching his hands.
"Hey, I might have an idea," Dojo quickly replied, having been attentively listening the entire time. "Here, um, let's do a little 'Q' and 'A.'" With that he fidgeted around, took his notepad and pen, and slithered over to Raimundo's side of the table. Rai was only trying to eat his dry non-syrupy flapjacks in peace; however, the small green dragon was getting all up in his face, making him drop his silverware.
Rai put a couple fingers to his forehead, his elbow on the table. "Not now Dojo."
"Do you wanna get this taken care of or not?" Dojo returned. "Now then." He cleared his throat and proceeded. "Where did you say you felt the throbbing?"
After a short and suspenseful moment, the monk sighed. "Right here." He pointed to the very center of his chest, where his gold medallion happened to be.
"So it IS the heart that's the culprit... interesting." Dojo jotted down a few notes. "...And does it hurt, tighten up, errr, what?"
"No. Just feels funny."
"'Kay. Now ya know according to Master Fung's old medical books a chi-imbalanced xin may mean that a person's emotionally disturbed." The dragon then tenderly placed his tiny claws on Rai's upper arm. "Are you... emotionally disturbed?"
"Get off and leave me alone!" The Wind monk gave those green claws a hard swat and turned away.
Dojo regained his posture. "Mmm-hm." He made the sound of a checkmark on his notepad. "And you haven't been doing any of your workout routine dealios behind Fung's back?"
"I've been sitting around everywhere getting FAT. Does that answer your question?"
"Yep. Phew, all right, all I needed to hear." With a click of his pen Dojo hurriedly returned to his original table spot between Kimiko and Clay.
"So what's this about 'chi imbalances' Dojo?" Uarcay wanted to know at her one opportunity to ask.
Dojo flipped over to the bemarun, whose presence wasn't the most definite. "Oh, well the thing is your heart's supposed to be the controller of all chi and inner emotional processing. Not quite the same for dragons, or maybe you, but eh."
"Wow... really?" Kimiko horned in with a low laugh. "Sounds a bit much. If anything the heart's basically a blood-pump engine made up of meat. Eeesh."
After Kim's little bit of input, Raimundo stood right back up and pushed his entire breakfast to the middle of the table. "Great," he said, "now I just lost my appetite." And with a final huff, away he started walking.
"Raimundo wait!" exclaimed Kimiko. "I didn't mean to – " But Senhor Shoku had left the building.
"Agh... stupid stupid stupid." The Fire monk pounded her head three times, while Omi, Uarcay, and Dojo gave her puzzled looks.
Breakfast had long been finished as the monks began their daily training exercises in the temple courtyard. This time, however, a small twist was being implemented into the fun. The twist was to teach Uarcay how to properly use Shen Gong Wu.
A familiar cowboy had his head lowered, breathing nice and steady, while the sun beat on him from behind and cast a dark shadow on his face. Then he made an unexpected leap in the air. "Third-Arm Sash!" he shouted, his trusty blue Wu whipping out to attack. The sash formed a fist and came hurdling toward Uarcay, who had been standing straight against a brick wall with the Serpent's Tail in her hand. She attempted to block the incoming punch by holding the Tail up, but the fist continued closing in until it knocked the poor Wu out of her grasp. The Serpent's Tail went spinning into a pond of animatronic crocodiles.
Kimiko was immediately seen running over to the pond and making a face as she fished around in the water for the artifact. "Uarcay, ya gotta call out the name of the Wu, then it'll activate," Clay explained once the Fire monk had brought out her catch.
"But I've already tried calling it!" the giant reptile explained back. Clay itched underneath his hat, simply perplexed. "I wasn't feeling any less tangible than when we first started!"
Kim grunted as she got up and brought the Wu over. "Maybe you just need to focus better. Here, try thinking calm, peaceful thoughts." She "peacefully" placed the Serpent's Tail into Uarcay's large brown hands. Uarcay looked downward and exhaled. "Okay." She turned to face Clay again, poised and ready.
All of a sudden, Omi shuffled onto the training grounds with an urgent message. "UARCAY, absolute focus is not simple enough to master without proper meditation! Do not listen to Kimiko!"
"Would you CAN IT Omi?" Kim shot. "I know what I'm talking about! Don't I? Clay, hey Clay, gimme some backup!"
"Umm," responded the slow-thinking fellow. "...Yeah! You're fit as a fiddle far as I can see." He gave a half-hearted thumbs-up to her.
"Thanks pal – I knew I could count on you."
"Let's get this show on the road then," the Earth Dragon resumed, as Kimiko reverted to business as well. "Miss bemarun ma'am, this time let's have ya come after ME, no holds barred. Take up that Fist o' Tebigong there." He pointed to scattered Shen Gong Wu on the nearby wooden table.
"What, this?" Uarcay reached over and held up a bronze metal fist thing.
"Yeah! Call it out and then try to punch me to Timbuktu!"
"Just do it!"
"Whoa-whoa, OKAY, are you only encouraging her 'cause you're SURE you're not gonna get hurt, or 'cause you actually WANT a big blow to the gut?" Clay glanced to the right. Raimundo was sitting on a bench next to a temple wall, "supervising" the whole event.
"I was wondering the same thing," Omi thought aloud, standing not too far from Rai. "It appears our friend Clay may very well be sue-cidal."
"Suicidal," muttered Raimundo, "and no, he isn't." The Shoku monk stretched his arms and put his hands behind his head. "You've got some real messed-up faculties dude."
"...I do not even wish to know what that means."
In an instant Clay yelled for the bald and naïve Dragon of Water. "OMI! Mind showin' Uarcay how to throw a punch?"
"OOH, yes! Coming!" And with that Omi ran off and left Raimundo to his own devices. So Rai sat up again and took out his device – his cell phone, to be more precise – which he started fiddling around with. But it didn't take long for him to let out a sigh full of boredom.
Soon Dojo slithered along the ground to join up and watch the bizarre training exercise that was taking place. "Looks like they're having fun." He peered up at Raimundo on the bench. "...You doin' okay buddy?"
"Yeah sure." The kid didn't even bother to give the dragon an acknowledging glimpse, but he was also aiming to ignore the racket in the background.
"Ahh come off it; I saw you never finished your breakfast," Dojo refuted. "Which, a certain someone had to do instead." He heaved and thumped his narrow chest once or twice. "Care to explain yourself mister?"
"There's nothing to explain... 'cept the fact I can't really work off any calories."
Suddenly the two heard a huge THUNK from the Fist of Tebigong, followed by an "Ow" from the Dragon of Earth.
"Pffft, forget those calories!" Dodge yawped, throwing his arms. "Take a look at me! I've been chowing down six times my own weight but I'm still thin as a rail! ...I think."
"Maybe it's because you're like a snake?" proposed Rai, sarcastic and unmoved.
"...You might have a point there. Yeah, actually that's pretty likely."
Then, swiftly and unanticipatedly, a wake-up call struck the mystical serpent as his ear-crests began to twitch like mad.
"Uh-oh... UH-OH... seems a Shen Gong Wu just activated," he reluctantly announced.
"Did you say Shen Gong Wu?" Omi turned all attention away from Uarcay at the training grounds as she was backing up from Kimiko and falling into the crocodile pond.
"Y-y-yes..." Dojo tried cupping his hands over his crests to make the twitching stop. "Get the Scroll – get it quick!"
"Okie doke!" Kim swept the Ancient Scroll of the Shen Gong Wu right off the wood table and rushed it over to Dojo and Rai. Uarcay meanwhile was stuck in the pond, attempting to get out.
"Here we go fellas." The Fire monk opened up the Scroll for everyone to see – especially a most enraptured Omi.
Dojo squinted his eyes at the picture of the Wu. "Oh, the Lamp of Xingwei. Its light increases a warrior's aggression levels, tenfold." After a bright red light flashed in the moving picture, two men lunged fiercely at each other with swords, making everything go black.
"Whoa," was Raimundo's only comment.
"Now I remember there used to be a huge, melting glacier near its hiding spot." Dojo squinted harder to relapse his memory. "And I believe the glacier is what turned into 'Lake Chicago,' if I did my research right."
"So could it be IN Chicago? You think the city was built anywhere nearby?" Kimiko asked with a tinge of excitement. Clay was just now walking up beside her with gritted teeth and a hand on his aching head.
"I dunno... it could be! Let's go check it out." The little green dragon then grunted and transformed into a big green dragon.
"Sounds good to me!" declared Raimundo, automatically putting his phone away and hopping off the bench.
"Wait... YOU are going?" Omi questioned out of doubt.
"Stop young monk," intervened a wise old voice. Everybody turned to see Master Fung coming upon them unexpectedly. "You may not hunt for Shen Gong Wu in your state; it imposes too much risk."
"But it's Chicago!" Rai argued. "I've always wanted to go there!"
"Why, cuz it's the Windy City?" inquired Dojo in a snarky tone.
To help clarify things, Raimundo started counting on his fingers. "How about the music... and the nightlife..." He shrugged with enough exaggeration to give the gecko a clue.
"No," denied Master Fung. "I've known you long enough to recognize that you will charge into a fight the moment you get the opportunity. Stay here; I'd like us to have some further discussion about this complication with your heart."
The other monks exchanged cautionary glances, including the cowboy whose head was still in pain.
"Clay, I want you to stay here as well. You look as though you could use some relief of your own."
What Clay heard caught him slightly by surprise. "Oh... thanks Master Fung sir."
"This would be a good time to show Uarcay, 'the ropes,' if you will." The Master stopped speaking for a second and scanned his surroundings. "...That is, if you can manage to find her someplace."
"Fung Master, I'm here! Right... here!" panted the large brown creature as she finally trudged up. She had strings of various green aquatic plants strewn over her head and shoulders. Normally the combo of sight gags and unintentionally informal "Master" addressing would cause Raimundo to laugh; this time it didn't.
"Well what're you waiting for, hop on!" ordered Dojo impatiently. "We gotta get this Wu before the forces of evil do! Heh-heh." He'd been blathering away as Uarcay timidly climbed onto his back, with Omi and Kimiko heretofore up front.
"Our next flight: Chicago!" And off they flew, leaving a gust of wind to blow through the hair of Clay, Raimundo... but sadly not of "Fung Master."
"...Come," Fung instructed to his remaining two Xiaolin students. He gestured for them to follow as he began walking on.
Inside a mysterious unlit chamber full of books, bottles, ointments, oils, and candles, Master Fung had Clay and Rai stand off next to the entrance as he searched along the bookshelves for something.
"Now where did I put 'Chao Yuanfang.' Zhubing Yuanhou Zonglun... Zonglun... Zonglun... ah yes, here we are." Finally he brought out the book he was looking for and proceeded to flip through its pages.
"Raimundo?" he began, catching the monk's ear.
"Yes Master Fung?"
"I am becoming slightly worried that your recent illness may have left some damage behind. I'm not certain, and I'm not trying to frighten you – but I would like to know what you are feeling in detail and how long you have been in this more sleepless, lethargic state."
"Umm..." Rai didn't quite know where to begin. "Gee I – I guess it started after I woke up from a fever. And did Dojo say something about my skin being all gray?" he asked of Clay.
"Yeah," the Texan nodded, "grayer than my Great Gramma Kathy's locks. Er, 'scuse me."
"Might there be anything else besides that?"
"Oh right, and the other thing, my pulse keeps acting up." Rai raised his arm, letting his sleeve slip down a little.
"I see..." the Master thought, stroking his beard. "Would you care if I tried a small technique Raimundo?"
"No, go ahead..."
With that Master Fung put his book away, walked over to the monks, shut his eyes, concentrated, and then placed a few fingers on Rai's neck, emitting a bright flash from his fingertips which apparently allowed for extra-sensitivity. Then he regressed and opened his eyes again. "Yes, quite strange indeed. Hm."
Rai slowly felt his neck where Fung's hand was, almost expecting more weird things to happen. "So... uh, what can we do about this?" he continued, taking his hand back down and looking at it.
As a rejoinder of sorts Master Fung held his arms behind himself and gazed up at the ceiling, a tense look on his face. "We could always fuss about how unjust the universe is, but that clearly would not do us any good."
"...Well then, got any medicine to help Raimundo sleep, maybe?" requested Clay.
"Perhaps. But what Raimundo really needs right now is a more accurate study of his xin's disarray," explained the wise old monk as he began to pace. "Given some of my rather, ahem, 'well-aged' medical methods, I'd strongly advise you try to advance your investigation with the use of modern technology. I'm sure it would aid you a lot more."
On the spur of the moment Clay formed an idea in his noggin, and he patted Rai on the shoulder. "Hey yeah! Why don't we try a big ol' community hospital? They got tons o' sciencey stuff goin' on there."
The Brazilian went and shook off Clay's giant hand. "No, there is NO way I'm going to a hospital! Those places always keep reeking of old sick people." He had a look-see at Master Fung. "Sorry... sick people."
"And where else do you suppose you'll get the necessary equipment?" asked the Master with his eyebrow already raised.
Clay tilted his head in order to rub his chin. "Hmm. Whose somebody we can talk to who knows about tech."
The two young monks widened their eyes when it hit them. "Spicer," they said in unison. Rai cast his cowboy friend a glance of uncertainty.
Whuh-oh, Jack Spicer may very well be visited by a few unwelcome guests soon.
...There also appears to be a subtle string of mockeries aimed toward senior citizens by the likes of Clay and Raimundo. Luckily for Raimundo, he'll be partaking in an "old geezer's" day-to-day experiences via medical problems!