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Category Archives: The Chosen Ones

Less and less about kung fu.


Tyler drops the last of his ninja on the pile and wanders over to where the guys sit, on a ledge.

“Ooh,” says Daniel, as Dylan does something complicated that causes two ninja to kick themselves in the face.

“Yeah, she showed me that yesterday,” says Phillip.

They grow quiet again. Dylan blurs up past the limit of visual tracking, and her own pile grows steadily larger. Daniel passes Tyler a bag of popcorn.

“Nice. Who brought this?” He takes a handful.< "I was thinking, is there ever a reason not to have popcorn?" says Toe. "And I was like, nah."


“No,” says Toe quietly. “Let me see.”

Dylan punches him, but somehow doesn’t connect. She stumbles.

“You’re stronger,” he says. “Faster. But I’ve been doing this longer.”

Toe turns her next punch into a sine wave. Dylan understands the circuit and pulls through, then kicks off the wall. It should break the hold and jam his shoulder into its socket; it doesn’t.

Instead she ends up with her arms crossed, palms back, Toe’s hand flat against her wrists. He looks at her knuckles.

“Ash?” he mutters. “That’s what it is?”

Their faces are very close. It’s unfair, how slow he’s breathing.


Hugo bellows a laugh. “How many of you do I have to throw off?”

“You came into my home,” says Daniel. “You threatened my family.”

“I also killed your friend,” says Hugo.

“Sure,” says Daniel, “that too.”

The sword comes up lower than Daniel expected, so he changes plans and runs up the blade. Putting his knee in Hugo’s face feels good.

Hugo screams with his mess of a mouth and brings it up again. This time Daniel steps aside and touches the point on Hugo’s wrist that opens his fingers. The sword flips up, way above them, end over end.


Above, Quan-Ti doesn’t turn around. “I expected the blonde boy,” he says.

“I’m lighter,” Toe mutters.

“Do you even know anyone in China?” He does turn, now, tapping the bronze dagger on his lips. “Did they ask for your help?”

Toe glares.

“Where were you when they burned four thousand years of art? Tortured monks? Locked up authors? Where were you in Tiananmen Square?”

“Eating crayons.”

“Even if you could stop me, how do you expect to erase the past?”

“We’re fucking nerds, man,” says Toe, “our job is the future,” and Hugo’s sword falls smack in his open hand.


Daniel knocks the board up onto an edge stand–a nerdy trick, but it lets him dodge a low sweep. He kicks the board into that mook’s chest, catches it on the reflect and ducks. Another swing misses; Daniel puts the board on his feet and rolls back into a flip, letting it catch a second ninja’s chin. Ball bearings rattle, and he turns a landing wobble into a nose stall.

Dylan’s watching. He notices, and pauses long enough to grin. “Ta dah!”

She raises her eyebrows, then broadsides an incoming goon with somebody’s Harley.

“Four wheels beats two wheels,” Daniel mutters.


Toe trips.

“Oh shit,” says Tyler. Daniel and Alex spin around, facing out, searching the trees and buildings.

“What?” says Dylan, helping Toe up. “It looked like you just tripped.”

“You don’t understand,” mumbles Toe, pale and wild.

“We never trip,” says Alex.

“Not since this whole thing started,” says Daniel.

“Are you guys joking?” Phillip looks back and forth between them. “You have to say if you’re joking–” But he watches Alex take up a stance and there’s no power in it. Nothing. He looks like a teenager playing Matrix.

“It’s gone,” Daniel whispers. “The Liquid Kung Fu is gone…”


The broken links ricochet, ping and thud, knocking ninjas cold.

“Wait a second,” says Alex. “Wait!” The remaining ninjas hesitate. “That was impossible,” he says flatly.

“We do that a lot,” says Toe.

“No, we’re improbable. But Daniel just snapped that chain in about eighteen places at once. Strings don’t break like that.” Daniel grins and shrugs; Alex looks around. “Somebody back me up?”

Tyler frowns. “Well it’s not a string, is it? Each link has discrete velocity, integrity–” The bravest ninja decides to leap forward, sword up, screaming. He gets his legs broken.

“Quiet!” Toe scolds. “We’re having science time!”


They crash through the door at the top of the stairs into the stock room of a department store, wherein the background music is, for some reason, Rage. Daniel grabs a PA phone from a startled clerk and shouts “run away” before Hugo’s axe bites through its cord. Tyler kicks Hugo’s knee and his next swing goes wild, and the four of them are scrambling away from the giant and his gang, straight up the escalator bannister. “Weapons,” pants Alex, “need weapons–”

When Hugo and the mooks arrive a few seconds later they’re poised in stance, calm and ready, umbrellas high.


“Relax, T,” grins Alex as they squeeze shoulders crowdwise. “We’re among your people.”

“Toe wasn’t short enough?” asks Daniel. “It’s T now?”

“I reject all nicknames that do not reduce aggregate syllable count,” says Tyler.

“These are not my people,” says Toe, a little gray.

“Remind me when we got our WonderCon badges, Daniel?” Alex grins wider.

“Why, just after last year’s WonderCon, Alex.”

“Attending a con with nerds doesn’t nerdify me,” grunts Toe. “I enjoy Star Wars. Star Wars is mass American pop culture.”

“Granted,” says Alex, “but the lightsaber on your belt, T, that puts you over the line.”


“Secret dealer room,” calls the old guy over his shoulder, grinning. “Special chance, just for you! Very close now!”

“Remind me why we’re following him?” mutters Alex.

“All the good stuff, you have to buy gray-market,” Tyler says. “Underground. Trust me, I’ve got a good feeling about this guy.”

“And if he’s just some psycho?”

Tyler grins. “Four on one? We could take him.”

“You don’t know,” says Toe, “he could be a karate master, maybe that mop is like his bo staff–”

“Just because he’s Asian doesn’t mean he knows karate,” snaps Daniel. Toe turns from gray to pink.