Huro was once a Space Navy outpost, but the frontier has gone far beyond the area, and for years it remained a very quiet colony with failing infrastructure. But then a group of warrior monks arrived on the planet, and it has since been transformed into one of the most esteemed destinations for training of the mind and body.
The order of fighting monks has no name. The vast majority of the planet’s inhabitants are part of the order, or on there way off-world. Thousands come to test their mettle, and many leave, unable to overcome their induction trials. Even those who fail to get into the order report being transformed by the challenges. For those who are not particularly serious about the trials, its a chance to revitalize your body and reconfigure your perspective.
I was a bailiff on New Boston Chicago for eight years. I told them that Boston and Chicago were two separate Old Cities, but they didn’t comprehend why combining them into one name was so silly. Eventually I got fired, for reasons I have no desire to get into, and I ended up working as a bouncer. I was a tough guy in a small community, but that doesn’t require being all that tough, after all. Eventually, I fought a drunk trainee from Huro who roughed me up when I tried to throw him out. He took pity on me, and told me I needed to step up my game. I’m pretty small for a bouncer, only 5’10 and 190 pounds. I decided he was right, and starting saving up, so I could afford to get there, right away.
It took me over a year to hitchhike, work and connive my way towards Huro. But I made it
The spaceship that got me here, The Black Claw, was piloted by ex-trainees. I spent the last of my savings to pay my way with them. Luckily, the monks don’t charge anything to try out. They are looking for new members of the order, and if you fail to make it through induction, you don’t get another chance. Several Black Claw crew members told me that.I asked them incessantly about the training process. They didn’t have much to tell me.
Twenty of us hopefuls arrived at the monk’s enrollment building that morning. The night before we had arrived at the spaceport, and found lodging. Only a small Japanese sign identified the building’s purpose. Unfortunately, I didn’t know Japanese at the time.
Inside, the hallway was only big enough for five, so the rest of us waited outside. After about twenty minutes, and ten of our number processed, it was my turn to go inside. There I waited some more, as a monk wearing a big hat took the others down the hall, one by one, until at last I followed him down that hall, past many doors, until finally he found the door he was looking for, and lead me into it.
“Now, I will seek from Chance your training name.”
The monk tossed three many-sided, golf-ball sized dice, and they skittered across the floor of the small room. It seemed eerily empty.
The dice was scattered across the room, and I noticed each face had a different word on it. The monk picked up the three huge dice, and made sure to keep the correct faces on top, so he could read off the words.
“Mamushi, the venomous snake who ambushes it’s prey.” the monk said, interpreting the first die.
“Ash. Your motivations are uncertain. Your past is behind you.”
“Palm. The open palm strike shall be your technique.”
“Together these Gifts of Chance reveal much to me. I see that you prefer the closed fist. That way will not succeed here. Ash Palm Mamushi shall be your name.”
“Thank you,” I said to the monk. “I will train with ferocity,” I added, wondering if I should have said such after the words escaped my lips.
“Strike me then, Mr. Mamushi. Your training begins now.”
This monk was fairly young, he looked to be in his early twenties. But in my overactive imagination, he was a powerful old master. I feared him.
“Do not restrain yourself. Strike me now!” the monk yelled.
I hesitated for a second, and then clumsily approached the monk, trying to bury my fist into his face, like I would have attacked a violent drunk.
My fist was hitting empty air, as the monk leaned slightly to the side. Before I could follow up the whiffed attack, the monk hit me hard in the sternum with his open palm.
I tumbled backwards, breathless, and my head hit the far wall first.
“Your prior ‘training’ is of no use here. That is the first lesson of Sa’are.”
I blacked out.