Sorry it takes a while to update. Here you go!^^
Chapter 5: A Request
Time of Blast
By Arecus. Conberma
At night, Po insisted that Ching should sleep in the spare room in the bunkhouse that was next to his. The Furious Five were seemingly excited to have new guests in their home. Although one of the Five weren't quite pleased about it, Tigress would growl twice in a minute when she saw Po and Ching got too close to each other. She wasn't the only one. With Crane busy talking with Mei Ling about the Valley of Peace and their old times together, Viper found herself just as jealous of them as Tigress was of Ching and Po.
Before they could all call it a day, Po prepared the dinner for the Furious Five and Shifu as usual, however, this time he made extra for their guests. Ching, on the other hand, wanted to assist the Dragon Warrior for she said that she, too, helped to cook the meal for her family in her homeland.
Despite Po declining her offer kindly, Ching constantly insisted with the same polite attitude. The Giant Panda could only reluctantly accept her offer. Through a few demonstration from the feline, despite her young age, Ching could manage to cut, slice, and chop all the food ingredients decently. Po was impressed by her skills, she almost could compete him; maybe he should consider ask her to meet his dad to be his employer or something.
"Man, Ching, you really have some awesome skills!" spoke Po complimenting to the white tiger sitting along with the Furious Five, Po, Mei Ling, and Shifu.
"Tigress, you've got to try this!" urged Mantis, who had just finished his first noodle soup.
Tigress secretly growled at the dinner table, she picked up the bowl of noodle soup and slurped it down before anyone could see her deadly glare. And then her eyes widened a bit, she was surprised at the flavor. It tasted like-
"It tastes just like Po's cooking!" Viper exclaimed, interrupting Tigress's thoughts.
"This is really good, Ching!" Crane added, "Where did you learn this recipe?"
"It's secret ingredients that have been passed down the family." spoke Ching honestly said, pleased with their reaction of her cooking.
"Well, your parents must be very proud of you." said Shifu sounding just as impressed as his students.
Despite the master's good intentions, the compliment seem to sadden the white tiger ever so slightly only barely being able to see as a less than happy smile. "I'm sure they are." spoke Ching softly.
"What's wrong? You don't have parents?" sarcastically Tigress spoke causing the others to all stare at her in pure shock.
Ching didn't respond anything for a moment an unsettling silence that no one wanted to break. Until one did, that being the one offended. "No, I have parents. We live apart though." She spoke calmly as continued her meal trying her best not to let the older tiger's comment offend her..
The masters and Mei Ling all eyed at Ching, couldn't help but feel sympathy for her. "How old are you?" Everyone looked back at Tigress surprised. Tigress had a somewhat guilty tone probably regretting her blurted statement.
"Fifteenth." Ching replied as she gazed back at Tigress.
Everyone was surprised at the young feline warrior. "Impressive," Shifu commented, "a warrior at such a young age is really rare, without any dependence."
"Actually, I have siblings on my journey." Ching cut in, carrying a warm smile again.
"Then where are they now?" Monkey asked, starting to gain an interest with this feline warrior.
"We were separated by an evil force. Right now, I'm on my journey to find them." Ching answered, finishing her last bite of noodles. She stood up and bowed respectfully as she spoke. "If I may, excuse me."
Before everyone could have a group discussion and before the young tiger could leave, Ching turned back and added. "Oh! I'll wash the dishes after you are finished with them." Before finally leaving, she let out a short giggle and returned to her room.
With the white tiger finally leaving the room, the Kung Fu masters grouped together and began the conversation started by Monkey. "Tigress, that was mean!"
"I know, I don't know what came over me!" Tigress admitted honestly.
"Tigress," Po snapped, "that was not cool at all."
Tigress lowered her ears in shame, "I'm sorry."
"It's not us you apologize." Shifu stated an arching his frown at his daughter.
Tigress flinched, knowing well that was true. Now clearly aware, Tigress took her leave and excused herself, "Understood, master." and then she left to the bunkhouse.
Meanwhile, somewhere in a dark mountain...
Tai Lung returned with a huge loss of raven army. But the loss was a small number, because where he was approaching was a camp of an army. The army of Thailand, to be precise. Having passed the thousands of tents, he came upon a large tent that looked all more important than the others. He entered calmly and without a hint of fear. He then knelt down before the leader of this army, "I have returned, Mistress Gei." he said as he bowed his head.
The Mistress turned to look at her snow leopard general, "Tai Lung." she spatted as she despised its name.
She was an Asian Golden Cat; she wore an enormous gold helmet, and hung variety of accessories around her arms, ankles, even many rings in her fingers in pure gold. From the description stated, she was royalty; she was one of the Princesses of Thailand.
Originally, Thailand wanted to make peace with China in hopes that they could be allies. Therefore, that would strengthen their country. But Princess Gei thought otherwise. She thought that, in order to strengthen her country, they must take over China. In order to do so, she secretly took her armies and fled to China, waiting the right time to strike.
Gei played a Thai chess doll, which was a symbol of King, in her right paw. Without looking at it, she just sat on her throne and listened another failure from one of her generals. How did she find Tai Lung? That would be explained in later chapters.
"You have failed me, Tai Lung. Essentially, you should be punished." Mistress Gei stated coldly.
A lesser man, or animal in this case, would have been completely disheartened, but not Tai Lung. His head remained stared at the ground, waiting to be punished. But instead, Gei said, "But I'm giving you one more chance. I want you to get me that fire-bearer!"
The snow leopard's head shot up quickly, Gei interjected his speech before he could ask his questions. "How do I know? Do not forget, I have a gypsy here who can foretold the future? I was there watching the entire event, Tai Lung. And I want that fire cat here ALIVE!" she commanded.
She leaned against his face, only an inch close to his face. "Do not fail me again." she hissed deadly in his face.
"Yes, Mistress." With all said and done, the snow leopard quickly left the camp.
Watching the snow leopard gone, Gei returned to her throne where also to her gypsy who was chained beside her throne.
She sneered at "her" gypsy, and asked, obviously not politely, "Tell me, my gypsy, what's future behold?"
The peahen softly grunted, causing Gei to smirk at her attitude, "Well, you can choose not to tell me. But remember," she said as she revealed a feather with a symbol of a red eye on it, "I hold your lives here."
Again, the peahen glared at the royal-in-the-butt Golden Cat, she grabbed a wing(hand)-ful of shiny dusk and threw in the mid-air. Mysterious patterns and symbols swirled in the colourful mist. Heavy accent of foreign language in peahen's beak, she spoke, "If the future you wish to see," another explosion boomed from the mist, "then the future you shall see."
The Golden Cat had her attention, she stared at the mist with amazement with mixture of bewilderment, "What do you see?"
"A Golden Cat," the peahen replied, studying the mist, "and her Golden Army..."
Princess Gei was waiting for the expectation of her great result. But instead, what she got was the smoking figures vanished and they were replaced by figures which seemed to be warriors with stances of majestic.
"...are defeated by ten kung fu warriors, with their masters of origin side by side, not from this time of day, nor today's existence." she finished, Gei could sense her gypsy was smirking at her at tease.
The next thing the peahen knew was the Golden Cat Princess lunged at her through the mist, and so as the predication ceremony was over. The Thai princess clutched at the peahen's long neck, but hard enough to choke her, though she tried her best to hold her strength. She hissed at her gypsy's face, "What does THAT even mean?"
The peahen was very brave, she still smirked at her with all her guts, "It means...you will fall."
"I WILL NOT!" Gei denied her fate furiously. She pushed the peahen in her paws harshly on the wall, leaving a terrible bruise on her neck.
"I will not accept this so-called fate, I am the one who decides my own destiny. General!" she roared.
"Mistress!" the leopard bowed deeply at his mistress.
"Search every village and kill anyone with kung fu skills on sight!" she commanded, the leopard nodded firmly as he and several troops headed out for mission.
The peahen was horrified by the princess's act, she demanded, "You can't do this!"
"Oh yes, I can. I have the power to do this. And I can do whatever I want once I rule China!"
"You cannot change the wheels of destiny."
"We'll see about that." she hissed with a sneer.
Back at the Valley of Peace returning to the Jade Palace bunkhouse, Tigress was having a hard time. She stood before the door that Ching trying to force herself to knock on the door and apologize to the other tigress. And to make matters worse for herself, a much younger, more skilled, and more BEAUTIFUL-
"Have you apologized to Ching yet?"
Tigress nearly screamed and jumped by that sudden voice behind her. Luckily, she held it in and turned abruptly to see it was Po! "Po, what are you doing here?"
"I just want to check out what's taking you so long." Po simply replied.
"Well, I am about to do it. Don't rush me!" spoke Tigress softly to Po but still containing a great amount of fury behind it. Suddenly a soft light came inside Ching's room interrupted the two kung fu master's conversation causing them to stare at the door curiously. Po and Tigress both exchanged glances, Po took his first action as he slowly slide the door mat opened.
The two masters' eyes widened at the sight, Ching's body revealed half-naked (Tigress covered Po's eyes immediately), but what the most shocking of all, was her body. Mysterious stripes or patterns glimmered all over her body. Her eyes were closed though looked out her opened window as it revealed a perfect full moon. The young tigress did not pick up on the two masters as she hummed a melody, which not familiar to Po or Tigress. Acted quietly the two tired to leave without disturbing the white tiger. Unfortunately because of the panda's temporary blindness, Po stepped on Tigress's tail causing the feline master to cry out loud. Definitely loud enough to get Ching's attention.
"WHAT THE FU?" Ching exclaimed as she quickly put on her clothes and the mysterious glowing patterns had disappeared.
(A/N: In case you are wondering, "Fu" stands for the "fu" in "Kung fu". How about that? LOL)
"Ah...um...we were...ah" Po stuttered, couldn't find an excuse. Even though he was suppose to be the King of Excuses.
"Haven't you heard of KNOCKING!" Ching was practically screaming at the duo, despite their title as the Dragon Warrior and the Master of Tigress style.
"Look, we were just-" Tigress's explanation was cut off when Ching tried to kick the two masters out of her sanctuary. The two effortlessly dodged the kicks, though had unknowingly traveled out of the tiger's room.
"Good night!" the white tigress didn't give the two masters much time to speak as she slammed the doormat shut.
Again, Po and Tigress exchanged a confused gaze. Both were having the same question: What the hell just happened?
While they were thinking, Ching let out a quiet sigh of relief, heart stomping rapidly, and thin layer of sweat on her forehead. "That was a close call..." she murmured worriedly.
She clutched something around her neck: a jade necklace and a golden amulet. She stared at the two accessories, and then she let out another heavy sigh. She placed them back into her clothes, she blew out the candle and called it a day.
The next morning, the sun had rose from the east, it light shone every corner of the valley. When the gong sounded, as a morning alarm to the citizens, everyone woke up with a fresh start.
Shifu, on the other hand, was exhausted from the research he did from the previous night. He didn't have a good night sleep after he had found some information about their guest. He rubbed his temples with his fingers trying to figure something out, but to no avail.
He tidied up the scrolls and considered to have a day off for his students and have a good rest. Until Zeng came in with one of his panic looks.
"Master Shifu! Master Shifu!" shouted Zeng, the goose messenger, to the master.
"Zeng! If this is about another new 647 bamboos that you have just memorized, I DON'T want to hear it!" Shifu demanded, frustratedly. The last thing he needed right now was another Zeng's wide knowledge of bamboo.
"Actually it's 650." Zeng proudly announced, which caused the red panda master groaned. However, that was not the reason why Zeng barged into the palace, "But that's not the case!" he had returned to his panic mode, as he handed Shifu a message scroll, "An urgent message!"
"An urgent message? From whom?" Shifu curiously asked, taking the scroll from Zeng.
Before Zeng could answer the question, Shifu was reading the content of the message. Soon, his eyes grew wider every line he had read. "It's... It's..."
Meanwhile, Tigress woke up from the gong, as usual. But when she and the others stood out of the door to greet their master, he wasn't there. As much as they were curious of their missing master, Po and Ching were missing as well.
Their curiosity did not last long as they heard cooking sounds from the kitchen. "Po gets up earlier than any of us? That's a record." Mantis mused.
"More like as if the sun rises up from the west." Tigress added.
The others cracked up a little, surprised by Tigress' humor though she didn't know that. "Good one!" Monkey commented.
"...Skip it." Obviously Tigress didn't know when or how did she make a joke.
"Can we go now? I'm starving!" Mantis hungrily said.
"You guys can go ahead, I'll go check up on Mei Ling." Crane said as he excused himself. Viper's face turned sour when her crush was now focus on his old friend. And yet, she had said it: they were just friends...right?
When the Five (or Four) approached to the kitchen, an aroma scent of fresh breakfast was waiting for them to devour. Monkey and Mantis were practically drooling all over the place, while Tigress and Viper stared at the two males in disgust.
They entered the kitchen, and found their panda friend and their guest were laughing joyfully while they were cooking together. Ching, of course, didn't wear her Chinese mask just as Po had ask. Mantis, Monkey and Viper all glanced at Tigress, who was at limit to release her anger. But she held it and she broke the ice, "Hope we are not interrupting something important."
The panda and the white tigress finally got their attention as they stopped their laughter. But the two of them still wore their smile anyway, Po was the first one to speak, "Nah, you're right on time for breakfast."
Ching, on the other hand, noticed someone was missing, "Where's Master Crane?" she asked.
"He went to get Mei Ling, so what's for breakfast?" Mantis asked.
"Steamed dumplings, congee," Po continued, "and Ching helped me to cook the noodles."
Every eyes from the members of the Furious Five all stared at Po in surprise. "You let her cook the noodles?" Viper asked the first.
"Yea, so?" Po asked back.
"So?" Tigress added, dangerous in her tone, "Po, you NEVER let anyone cook noodles in your place!EVER!" she nearly shouted at the panda.
Po and Ching both flinched at the angry of the feline master, wondering as if they were doing something wrong, really wrong. Ching interjected, trying to clear the air off. She started with a gentle voice, "Master Tigress, I will be off soon after breakfast, but until then, could we be friends?" she added with a warm smile.
Tigress stared skeptical at Ching, because her smile reminded her of someone, someone she knew. But the question was, she couldn't remember. "Fine."
Ching gave her a wide smile. Tigress was flinched as there was another similarity about this white tigress. Not only that, her smile, her attitude, her actions, and her tone, all reminding her of someone. Again, the question is WHO?
Then she took a bite, she was surprised at the taste. It tasted just like Po's cooking. A pang of jealousy and envy rose in her heart. Ching could sense danger from the elder tigress, as she backed away a little from her. Soon, Crane and Mei Ling had joined in the group.
"Sorry we're late, guys." Crane apologized with a shy smile.
"Nah, you're right on time." Mantis said in between his munching food, "You're lucky that Ching helped with extra meal over here."
"Wow, thanks, Ching. Usually Po will eat the entire table in a minute." Crane friendly mocked.
"Not cool, man." Po said in not an amused way. And Ching giggled.
Then, Po turned at Ching, "You really have a nice giggle."
"Aw, thanks." Ching replied with a faint blush.
That was th last straw. With her eyes blazing, Tigress's inner anger was about to explode in a rage of kung fu fury. Just before Tigress could lung at the young feline, Shifu emerged into the kitchen looking shocked.
"Master!" All of the masters stood up, greeting at their master.
Shifu didn't give them time to greet further, he panted as he clutched a scroll in his paws. "We have received an urgent message from a village, except..."
"What's the matter, master?"
"Except...this is a message from a village called "Tian Shen Village"."
"Tian Shen Village?" The Five questioned in sync, all confused.
"Whoa! The legendary Tian Shen Village? THE Tian Shen Village!"
"What's so great about this village?" Crane asked in less enthusiastic, even though he knew that was a rhetorical question. Hence Po's wide knowledge about legends, myths, and kung fu masters.
"You guys really need to read more legends stuff?" the Five rolled their eyes in annoyance, as Po continued the story anyhow, "Legends say that Tian Shen Village is a village of mystery, hidden in the Valley of Unknown, and rumored to be a place of paradise. But no one knows, because no one had ever found that place! Only a few but a split few have ever been there. They were even asked to keep their lips sealed about the place so no one still knows about."
"Then it has to be a prank." Tigress quickly snapped, unable to believe in a mythical village.
"This village does exist." Ching interjected, the first sentence she spoke during the discussion.
Tigress gave her a skeptical look, "How do you know that?"
"Because," Ching replied, facing the older feline, "I went there before."
Before Tigress could ask any more question, Po's excitement cut her words. "Whoa! That is AWESOME! How does it look like? Are they what they are told in the legend? Do they actually have the Tunnel of Darkness-"
"Po, enough!" Shifu stopped him before this discussion over, frustrated. And then he turned to the white tigress, "Thank you, Ching, for the information."
"But who sent it?" Viper asked. That question had caused their master flinch as if he saw a ghost.
"Master, is there something more?" Tigress asked worriedly, noticing her father and master's bewildered expression.
Shifu gazed at his daughter, then the rest of his students. He sighed deeply, and solemnly announced, "It was sent by Master Thundering Rhino himself."
An awkward silence filled the air, everyone froze at the name as if they had witnessed a ghost. But, this maybe real. On the other hand, it's impossible. Crane stammered, "B...But, t-that's impossible!"
"Master Ox told us that he was perished in that blast of cannon!" Tigress exclaimed.
"Wait!" Everyone turned at Po, he was remembering of something. "Remember what Master Croc also said? He said, 'there was nothing but his Thundering Hammer.'" Po explained, reminding Tigress and the others who were the witnesses.
(A/N: It's true, because I saw that line on the movie novelization.)
"So, you mean... that Master Thundering Rhino is still alive, and he hides himself in a mysterious village which is said to be a myth?" Mantis sarcastically asked.
"...Yea, I know it sounds silly. But yea, pretty much." Po sheepishly replied.
"That makes...no sense." Mantis added, nonchalantly.
"Are you seriously thinking that Master Thundering Rhino could be possibly alive?" Crane added, sarcastically.
"Could be a ghost try to guide us..." Po was taking a chance. The Five were having a hard time to believe their panda comrade's talking as they all face-palmed.
"PO, ENOUGH!" Shifu barked at the Dragon Warrior, who was cringed slightly by the outburst of his master.
The elder red panda took another deep, long breathe, and finally asked calmly, "I ask one more time: Go, or not?"
A moment of silence was responded, until a particular panda spoke out, "I say, we go! There's a call for an adventure, who's with me?" Po asked with pure excitement.
Soon, members of the Furious Five joined in the vocie. "I'm definitely in." Monkey joined.
"As am I." Crane said in enthusiasms.
"Me too." Mantis joined.
"Count me in too." Viper volunteered.
"I can lead the path during this journey to the Tian Shen Village." Ching positively said to the group.
The only one left was the feline kung fu master, she eyed at everyone: first Shifu, then her team, then Ching (glaring), and Po lastly.
Then, she sighed in defeat, "I'm in."
"Then it's settled, we'll start pack up our main supplies this evening, for this will be a long journey."
"Wait, you're coming too, Shifu?" Po asked.
"Zeng and other guards of the Jade Palace will protect here and the valley. So far, we have built stronger defensive system in the Valley of Peace. The bandit wouldn't be a threat during our absent." Shifu explained.
"Are you sure? I mean, at least one of us should stay behind..."
"I'll stay." Everyone turned at the owner of the voice: Mei Ling.
"Mei Ling, are you sure?"
"Hey, I'm the best in Lei Da Kung Fu Academy, you don't think a few bandits could defeat me, do you?"
"No, of course not, only if Master Shifu allows...I MEAN, I trust your ability, and your reputation. But it's just that..."
"We just met a mere hour and we're already departed again."
"Awww, that's okay. I'll wait here until you get back. Then we can have some time together."
"Really?" Crane's eyes lit up with hope.
"Do I ever break a promise?"
"Good, then stop sounding like a girly-bird, and man up like the one of the Furious Five I see with confidence." Mei Ling playfully smack Crane's neck, which he chuckled nervously and rubbed the sore part of his neck. That wasn't just a playful punch at all.
Suddenly, Viper hissed angrily at Mei Ling, "Why did you do that for?"
"It was just a friendly punch." Mei Ling defended.
"Well, it didn't like look friendly to me." Viper said in a dangerous tone.
"It's okay, Viper." Crane assured his reptile friend before things got worse. "Mei Ling was just giving me a boost of confidence like she always does, that's all."
"I thank you for your volunteer as the temperate guardian of the Jade Palace and the Valley of Peace, Master Mei Ling. And I'm sure that the Jade Palace is now in good hands for now." Shifu bowed at Mei Ling and she returned it in respect, satisfying with the approval.
To be continued..