You're a Hero Now

From the Story Arc: Grandmaster in Name

Previous Story in the Arc: Rebuilding Shaolin by Grandmaster Te (Monday, September 06, 2004)

Next Story in the Arc: Blade Shuai's Lesson by Grandmaster Te (Wednesday, September 08, 2004)

(posted Tuesday, September 07, 2004)

So far the trip had been an unqualified disaster, and yet Grandmaster Te took it in stride.  His train to Hong Kong had been delayed three days when a decaying railroad bridge had washed out in heavy rains.  His passport had been delayed in processing, and he spent two lonely weeks in Hong Kong waiting for the paperwork from Beijing to finally come through.   Because he carried so little with him, he had aroused suspicions of the airport personnel guarding against terrorism, and had been subjected to thirty hours of intense questioning and mental torture before they finally believed his story and let him continue.  Of course, he had missed his scheduled flights several times, and he spent most of his travelling money on the rescheduling fees.

On the airline took the opportunity to practice his English on a young blonde flight attendent who introduced herself a "Mindy from Minnesota".  Most of the passengers were asleep and the cabin lights were low, and Te spoke quietly, "Mindy from Minnesota, can you tell me a little about Westerners' impressions of Buddhism and Chinese philosophy?"

"Just Mindy, tee hee", she giggled.  Though Te's accent was heavy, his command of English was impressive, and Mindy had no problems understanding him.  "Well, Buddhism is, like, one of those Far East religions.  I know a little about it from my job and from talking to people like you, but most people just think it's some religion that all the hippies were into in the sixties.  And most of what people know of China they got from watching Jackie Chan movies."

"Jackie Chan?", asked Te.

"Oh, he's great!  Sometimes he's like, a cowboy but not, like he's still from China but he's in the old West; and sometimes he's like a Japanese nim-ja or something and sometimes like a Shaolin warrior."

"Shaolin warrior?"  Te was astonded. "Shaolin were holy Buddhist monks, not warriors out to kill people."

Mindy just laughed. "No, they're always fighting on the side of good.  You'll see!  Toodles."  She rose quickly and walked to the front of the plane to answer a call button.

Over the Rockies Te's plane had encountered heavy thunderstorms and he was late arriving in Denver, thereby missing his connecting flight.  Mindy from Minnesota was professionally sympathetic but could only direct him to Customer Service.  "No flights to Paragon City 'til tomorrow," explained the man at the United "Passenger Service" counter.  Te slept in a cramped chair at the airport, which was still a luxury compared to some of his sleeping quarters as a novice monk.  He caught the 5:00am flight the next morning and thankfully landed uneventfully in Paragon City.  Once checked through customs and fitted with his mandatory medical transponder, Te was ready to tackle his new home.

He had not eaten in forty-eight hours in order to save money for cab fare.  At the taxi station, he was directed to a rambling old wreck of a taxi that belched blue clouds of smoke as it pulled away from the curb.  "Where to, buddy?", inquired the gnarled grey-haired driver through her thick Slavic accent.

"Um, I have it here," Te fumbled through his tattered valice, "CCCP-Red Brigade headquarters, King's Row."  The driver scowled.

Te glanced out the window as they drove from the airport to an earthquake-ravaged nightmare landscape of tilted skyscrapers and burning rubble.  "What are you, some kind of commie?" asked the driver contemptuously.

"Yes, actually, I'm from the People's Republic of China," replied Te to the driver.

"Commies killed my parents.  Communism is dead", she replied. She spat on the floorboard.  "And I don't have to take no commie anywhere in my cab."  She pulled over abruptly, causing three cars to stop abruptly, sounding horns echoing through the earthquake-devastated ruins of the district.  "Get out of my cab."

"We are at the Red Brigade address?" asked Te.

"No.  You'll have to make it there on your own.  You can keep your fare, you stinking pinko.   Let's see how you like Boomtown," said the cabbie.

"This is not right," answered Te.

The driver reached beneath her seat and pulled out a revolver, aiming at Te's face.  "Mr. Smith and Wesson here makes it right.  Get out, commie.  I can make this look like a robbery if I need to."  Te quickly exited the cab, and it spun off into the city in a huge angry blue cloud of smoke that must have singlehandedly destroyed the ozone layer. 

Te was not a complete stranger to cities, so he walked deliberately and avoided the gaze of Baumtown's shady residents.  The traffic seemed to be devoted to one major highway running from the airport toward the skyscrapers of the city, and Te tried to parallel it.

"What you lookin' at?" asked a green-tinged monster of a man Te passed.  "This Troll territory."   Te quickened his step and did not look up.  "You!" shouted the Troll.  "Come here and pay toll!"

Te broke into a run.  He did not get far, the Troll was fast, and he was not alone.  Soon Te was surrounded by Trolls.   "Now you pay toll, in blood!"  Te's attempts at defending himself were useless, fist after fist flew at him, and finally the biggest troll raised both fists into the air and pounded downward on Te.  The world sparkled as consciousness fled.

Te woke up in a strange hospital full of advanced equipment.  "Your transponder went off, and you were teleported here," explained a burly technician.   After two hours of filling out forms, Te asked what he should do.  The Trolls had taken all his money -- he could afford neither taxi or tram.  "Go talk to Maurice Feldon," suggested the front desk clerk as she filed her nails.  "He's a sucker for the Lost, and near as I can tell you're one of them."

Te found the grey-haired Mr. Feldon right outside the hospital.  His conversation with the doctor was remarkably abrupt.  "I've got a problem with some Fifth Column, um, what did you say your superhero name was again?  Oh yeah:  Grandmaster Te.  Funny name.  I'd have gone with 'Hands of Lightning' or something.  Watch the Fists, they know all the martial arts.  Anyway, get over there look for a hostage, and I'll see what I've got in the store here for you."

Having little idea what any of this meant, Te walked to the address that Mr. Feldon had described, asking directions only twice.  He found an abandoned office building with the door ajar.  He stepped carefully past the broken glass of the front door panel and entered the building, which was lit by flickering blue florescent panels and the sparks of shorted wires.  As he walked carefully forward, he spotted three men in dark grey uniforms, two of them sporting rifles.  He watched, but one was falling asleep and the other two were talking about baseball as they scanned the hallway.  It didn't appear anything would change soon.
"Excuse me", stated Te as he walked into sight.  "Maurice Feldon sent me.  He said you could teach me martial arts."

"We'll teach you martial arts, all right", offered one, laughing.  "Fist:  show him."   The largest of the three stepped forward and executed a blinding snap kick to Te's ribs.  Te crumpled to the ground in pain.  "That's a snap kick," said the one.  "Here's a few more kicks for you," laughed the other, as a steel toe planted beside Te's kidney. 

A few kicks later and Te awoke in the same hospital.   He filled out the forms again and marched outside to find Maurice Feldon still waiting.  "Didn't go well, eh", the callous doctor asked.  "Well Fifth Column are tough."

"You told me they'd teach me Martial Arts", complained Te.

"Naw, I said they'd *demonstrate* martial arts for you.  Big difference."

"You are a dishonest man.  But those men were wrong in their actions, and I think they had a hostage.  I will go back."

"That's the spirit!", replied Feldon with a laugh.

Te made his way back to the dilapidated building and in through the door.  The three guards were still in their position, chuckling about their recent victory.   Te picked up a pebble and tossed it down the opposite hallway. "What was that?   Go see, Fist," suggested one.

Mr. Snap-Kick came around the corner.  "You again?!?" he said with surprise.  "You want another demo?"  He kicked out at Te, but Te was ready this time and ducked under the blow.

"No, I think I have it now," replied Te, as he executed his own version of the snapkick, rocking the head of the fifth column soldier and crumpling him to the the ground.   The two others fell quickly from similar techniques.  Te found the hostage guarded by two others who, after administering their own forms of pain, fell to Te's newly-learned martial arts form.  "I reject your violence and return it to you," stated Te.

"Wow, you're the greatest!  My new favorite hero!" exclaimed the thirtysomething brunette hostage.  "My name is Eleanor.  What's our name?"

"Te, Grandmaster Te," he chuckled.  "Grandmaster Te who knows no martial arts and has no name or home in the city.  You should pick a different favorite hero, Eleanor."

"Here."  Eleanor reached into her pocket and pulled out a small business card. "I'm a case worker.  We see newly-arrived heroes like you all the time.  Go down to Freedom Corps headquarters and register -- they'll give you an ID card and a place you can bunk down.

"Welcome to Paragon City, Grandmaster Te.  Thank you for rescuing me!  You're a hero now."