The Kobayashi Household

"Try it again from step one" A young boy said towards his PC screen. A pause came as a figure on the screen, a navi, stepped into the center of a spartan yet functional digital dojo. He turned his back to the boy for a moment as he straitened the belt and top of his white karate uniform, his gi. The large emblem on his back, where a typical gi would indicate the martial artist's school held the symbol of a golden fist in front of a setting sun.

The boy rotated in his computer chair, stretching his free leg for a moment and trying to scratch an inch under the cast on his left leg. He looked down at the futile effort and frowned at his lapse of discipline. Just discomfort he told himself. Nothing more. He spun back around and saw the navi was facing him, feet shoulder length appart, arms extends down in front of him with fists clenched loosely over top his waist, which carried a tightly tied yellow belt.

"Begin." The boy said as he leaned forward, watching closely as the navi began the steps of his kata, or form. Strong arms made sharp blocking motions and powerful punches but his steps lacked grace or style. He was literally going through the motions, stomping like he was playing some clumsy game of dance dance revolution. "Pick your feet up as you step Musou. The ground is not your enemy and stomping it will only wear you out.", the boy commented. When he had first gotten Musou two weeks ago, he didn't even know a navi could get worn out. He had pushed him to that point several times since then, trying to get a feel for his limits.

Musou completed the last movement of his kata and he froze in position. After a few seconds pause he relaxed and took several casual steps around as he fixed his gi. He glanced at the boy through the camera on the computer and saw him rubbing the center of his forehead with two fingers. He grimaced, knowing he had messed up again. He was trying hard not to dissapoint his operator, Kenji Kobayashi, but he had tried to tell him before that navis recieved data, battlechips and memory upgrades to learn. He had a capacity to learn mentally and socially to be sure, but Ken wanted him to be the first navi student of the Kobayashi style of karate, Kobayashi Ryu.

Musou cleared his throat and looked at the boy with concern "Another headache, Ken?" he asked. Ken quickly snapped his eyes open and lowered his hand. He was the teacher and he was not to show weakness to his student. "No, but thanks. I'm fine. And during training times it's Sensei." Musou stood at a rest stance, with his feet shoulder-length appart and his hands clasped loosely behind his back, over his belt. "Sensei, may I speak with you about our training?" The boy leaned back from the monitor and crossed his arms. He had an edge of impatience in his voice but nonetheless said "What about it?"

The navi fidgeted a bit, a few seconds of silence making the air between them stale. "Ken. I am trying to do as you tell me. I am trying to be a good student but I'm just not sure I can do this. This-" He motioned around him at the dojo environment and brushed his hands past his yellow belt "this just isn't how navis learn to fight."

Ken smirked a bit and uncrossed his arms, resting them on his desk, before responding "Musou, it was two weeks ago that my mother decided I needed a proper outlet to channel my energy since I broke my leg. We have both been over this part. I told you on the first day I activated you what you had in store for you and you said you would do your best as my navi." He leaned back in his chair, and stifled a yawn while Musou gave another uncomfortable fidget, finding something random in the room to focus his attention on. Ken gave a casual wave at the screen and continued "Alright, first off you are studying a blend of classical karate-jitsu and karate-do. you know this. Karate-do covers the training for real conflicts, real battles. Karate-jitsu conditions you mind body and chi, teaches you confidence, focus, discipline. It is more then just excercise, it is a way of life."

Musou looked down and sighed before looking back up to Ken's face. "Ken, I want to be your ally in what you do. I'm here to help you, to serve you. I hear your words but I'm just data, I- I don't have any chi." The boy slammed his hand on his desk and gave the navi a stare that froze him. A thought briefly ran through the navi's mind, telling him he was the one trained to fight viruses, he was supossed to be a netwarrior or something. Sure he didn't have any experience at it yet but how could this child even make him flinch? What was it? Ken took in a breath for a moment and paused as he was about to yell but thought better of it. He closed his eyes and thought while he calmed his breathing and let his heart slow back down.

Ken opened his eyes and smiled as he said "Musou. You have to be confident in everything you do. The mind is powerful and if you convince yourself you can't do something then you won't be able to. you do have a mind, right? You aren't just searching some database of premade responces and gestures while you interact with me are you? You have a personality, you possess self." He paused for a few moments, letting his words sink in and waiting to see if the navi would try and raise any objections. The silence came to an end as he continued "My father has been teaching me karate since I was four. I was told that when I began I was horrible at it. I fumbled around, I cried when I failed, I dissapointed him constantly. Yes, he told me how often I have dissapointed him. The relationship I share with my father is similar to our relationship, you see. He is my hero, my mentor, my guardian. I would do anything to win his approval because I know he doesn't give it casually."

Musou bit his lip as he thought that one over and nodded to Ken to go on. "you have a personality, you know you are you. You think, you act, you possess judgement. Just because I tell you to do something doesn't mean you have absolutely no choice in the matter. I will never throw you away or replace you if you fail me, because you are my friend. So what if you are made of data, so what if I'm the one who turned you on. That doesn't mean anything! It sounds to me like your just as alive as I am. And if you have desire, conditioning, discipline, then you will find a pool of inner strength you never knew you had. Your chi."

"Ken... I.." Musou began but the boy commented "You know who told me all of that, minus the data part anyway, hmm? It was my father. Every time I told myself I couldn't do something he told me I could and every time he told me I couldn't do something I told him I could and I fought to prove it no matter what. My grades, my karate, everything. We trust and respect each other like that. I want you and me to be the same way, partner. You with me?" He raised his arm up tword the camera and made a fist. Musou swelled with pride as he also rose a fist up tword Ken. They both pushed forward a bit to 'hit the rock' and grinned sheepishly.

"You got it Sensei!" the navi said as he threw a few punches into the air playfully and took his ready position again. Ken grinned and flipped open one of his textbooks and grabbed a pencil from his desk to get some homework done while he kept an eye on his pupil. "Begin".
Sometime, a week later.

Kenji entered his home and passed by his mother in the kitchen, heading to his room. Part of him hoped she wouldn't even notice him but she spoke without looking "Welcome home Ken. Would you like a snack? How was school?". He stopped where he was and looked down at his feet. He mumbled "Hi mom."

It didn't take a genius to figure out something was wrong, and she knew how down he was ever since he broke his foot. "Whats wrong baby?" She said as she headed over and felt his forehead for a moment before confirming that wasn't it and bending down to look him eye to eye. Ken diverted his gaze and said "Mom, I'm eleven now, I'm not a baby anymore, I'm a man.."

Mrs Kobayashi hugged him tight, taking into account the crutches to not topple him and tracked his gaze. "I'm your mother, you'll always be my precious baby. Now tell mommy whats wrong?" Ken blushed and fidgeted uncomfortabaly for a moment before sighing and just letting it happen. He said quietly "Since I'm not there to head or teach the karate club, its been disbanded. We never had alot of people, just enough to get a club, but it was fun.."

She stayed in the hug and rubbed his back for a moment before pulling appart and looking at him with a pained expression "Your club? Oh no honey, I know how important that was to you. Thats not fair of them. Do you want me to go give them a piece of my mind?" Ken opened his eyes wide for a moment in panic and blurted "No! No mom. Thanks but it would only make things worse. The principle has already given our old room to some new club, PETmon, something about digital collectable monsters that level up and fight each other. Theres no room for the club now, even if they approve it."

Several moments of silence passed between them, Ken sighed and began to head around her, to his room. she stood back up and said "Ken, honey, it's not your fault. Don't you dare blame yourself for the accident or anything thats happened because of it. Your just going through a rough patch, it's not the end of the world. The doctors said when you heal up you will be good as new, no bone fragments, no scar tissue, no traces at all. It's amazing what medical science can do today." He stopped for a moment and shook his head, saying behind him "You don't get it. You can't. Dad would understand but right now all I am is a failure to him." He entered his room and shut the door behind him, not bothering to look back at the hurt look on his mother's face.

He moved to his bed and sat down carefully befor dropping his crutches to the side and plopping down on his back. He gave a big sigh. Musou suddenly spoke "Ken, that wasn't very nice.. You know your mom cares about you." Ken blinked, he had only had Musou for a few weeks now and sometimes he forgot he was there, always listening. He thought about answering, yelling, screaming at him to mind his own business but Musou was Ken's navi and Ken was his business. Ken grumbled "Forget it for now. It's the weekend and I'm going to clear my mind with some homework. You, go train. Kata's one through three, three times each, at demonstration speed... Jack-in."

Musou responded simply "Yes sensei", as he lept across the wireless connection to Ken's desktop PC, and into the awaiting dojo program. He looked out through the camera as Ken grabbed his bookbag and pulled out what he needed. Musou gave a deep bow tword Ken then assumed his stance.
A month later... A young boy could be seen sitting at his desk, exhaling a sigh as he slid the last of his homework into the bookbag resting on the floor at his side. He glanced over at the shiny pair of aluminum crutches he had been given when one of his wooden ones 'broke' at school. He never did get in trouble for getting even with Hito, after all, the bully hadn't seen it coming and even he couldn't believe 'the cripple' could hurt anyone at this point.

Kenji stretched and rested his chin on his hands, his elbows on his desk, as he looked at the monitor and watched Musou train. The navi had shown remarkable improvement, it's like something just clicked in his mind and he actually devoted his very existance to Ken's teachings. It looked pretty impressive to see Musou at work but Ken still felt annoyed that there was only so much he could teach while his foot healed. The charts and diagrams he had obtained or drawn himself as aides could only teach so much, even with his coaching. He found a few addons online for his dojo program, to help things out.

Musou had been using a mook jong, or wooden punching dummy, to practice on for awhile now. It looked like a thick wooden post attached to the ground with a few smaller posts, resembling branches , sticking directly out from the middle, up at an angle and down at an angle. The whole thing would spin if struck so the harder Musou struck the branches, the faster and harder it would come about to force him to block. Sure it was origionally a tool for training Wing Chun kungfu, but Ken liked it so into the regiment it went.

He had experimented with makiwara, a punching post with either padding, a beanbag or bare wood to strike, but he found pretty quickly that Musou's hands by default were too strong for that simple training so he chose the next best thing, to have him strike the dojo floor as hard as he could, as often as he could untill he had to stop. It had done wonders not only for the navi's technique but also to help him relieve some stress.

He even tried making Musou wear iron sandals (tetsu geta) to weigh him down and improve his kicks, but the navi was made of data and not muscle, it just didn't do anything for him but get in the way. All Ken's research had given him several things to try himself when he healed up to get back into prime conditioning.

Ken had learned in mock fights against stationary objects that a navi's battle routine executable overwrote most of their concious thought on battle and literally launched attacks and dodged blows as automatically as possible. He had explained to Musou that he needed to backup that routine then just never use it again. The reason Musou had been out of the net and not in any actual battles yet was simply because he had to develop a new battle routine. Ken wouldn't just let him run a program or install something, oh no, he had to train hard every day.

Musou stopped for a moment to catch his breath after a flurry of attack on the dummy. It was dented in several places and one of the branches was torn off. As he stepped away to adjust his uniform the program reinitialized and the dummy reformed, good as new. "Sensei, can we talk about my training?" Musou asked when everything was strait and his new purple belt hung neatly.

As he had already been watching, Ken nodded to the screen and through the camera, Musou caught it and nodded back. "We have been training now for two months, as of tomorrow!" He said proudly. He had been taught not to hesitate and to speak his mind by now so he went on "And I know a normal katate student needs at least a few years before they learn enough to earn their black belt, and thats when training really begins, the endless road to mastery and perfection, right?"

Ken nodded again, he had grown fond of their training sessions, and it wasn't that he liked bossing people around but he was going to run his father's dojo one day and this was good practice. He had hoped Musou wouldn't notice the training had come in fast bursts but was beginning to taper off. Musou spoke up "Sensei, I don't mean to sound heartless but I know you can't teach me like you want, by example, and I think I've learned about all I can from what you've given me. You see, I don't need anywhere near as much rest as a human so the reason I've progressed so fast is, well, simply because I've been at it twelve to sixteen hours a day. Every day."

Ken raised his eyebrows in a bit of surprise. He knew Musou trained every day, he saw to that personally, but he only ran the navi through a couple hours and told him he could do what he wanted with the rest. He assumed he was sleeping or goofing off or something. So much for Musou being some sort of genius brimming with natural talent. "Huh. Well, thanks for telling me that. If you thought my training has been harsh before then get ready for the short version of the rest." Ken said, before reaching down into his fesk and digging out a folder with several colored pieces of paper, each containing a chart of a kata and a few close-quarters self defense techniques. "I'm going to scan each one of these in and add them to the walls of the dojo as well as put digital copies in your PET.

Musou's eye twitched a bit as he knew what was coming. He had brought it upon himself. Part of him was excited and part of him was fighting not to groan and complain. "I want you to keep your training up to sixteen hours a day, since you bragged that was what you could do. I'm only going to observe an hour or two of it, like normal." He pointed a finger at Musou and added "I'll be able to tell by your technique if your really putting in the time and trying to learn. If you have any questions about any of the katas or defense techniques feel free to ask during that time."

Musou saw some of the papers appear on the walls of the dojo and he went over and skimmed them. "Hrm, what are all these?" he said as he scratched his chin. "I'm not trying to be a smartass Musou, but they are labeled." Ken said. Musou waved dismissivly behind him and grumbled "I know. That was rhetorical. I mean, what are they for?"

Ken grinned and said matter of factly "These are the remaining techniques up to and including black belt. Your at purple now, and assuming you continue to train as hard as you have, you should have these learned in the next few days and mastered within a couple weeks." Ken paused a moment to let it sink in then crossed his arms and said "Once you earn your black belt, I'll let you on the net and we can see what this whole net battle thing is all about."

Musou blinked and stared at Ken for a moment. He looked to the charts again and said, with his back to Ken "Ok, I'm glad my little world will finally open up but I have to ask..." He motioned to the black belt forms, which took up two pages and shrugged helplessly before asking "What's the point? Why do I need to learn these when I can just go in now and clobber and blast appart viruses like I do that training dummy?"

Ken smirked and gave a snort of amusement. He responded "That dummy doesn't fight back or try and avoid you. Do I need to remind you that we basically tossed your origional battle routine in the trash and have been working on a new one? If you were human I'd say something about making sure you had it all devoted to muscle memory but your routine is similar enough." Ken leaned in to the screen and narrowed his eyes "I don't want you going in there and freezing up or bugging out with some error, let alone embarass my father's karate." He sighed and reached for his crutches while Musou steamed over it all for a minute.

Ken rose from his desk and made his way to his dresser to fetch some pajamas. While he was changing he said a bit loudly across the room "Plus, here's something to think about, untill your able to use this karate as your battle routine and you have some actual combat experience under your black belt, I'm not going to input any chip data for you. It's a luxury you have to earn.

Musou froze and blinked. His mind boggled as he shouted "What?! Are you crazy? I'm a navi, one of my main functions is to engage in net battle, it's your job as the operator to send me chip data to use in my fights and coach.... me... to.." He slowed down and thought about what he was saying for a moment. Ken had his pjs on and was heading to bed. He glanced over his shoulder and said into the silence Musou had left "Are you going to tell me that I havn't given you plenty of data, support and coaching already? Are you comparing me to those lazy operators who just pop in chips and tell you to win? Hmph."

Musou poked his forefingers together sheepishy as he said "No.. Ken. I'm gratefull for what you've done, what you are doing but.. Isn't it a bit of a.. um... handicap that your giving me? I mean, I know I've never done actual busting, but from the basic database in the PET I can tell that fighting without chips is more then just overly hard. It's cruel and in some situations just plain suicide. Do you think that little of me? Am I just data to you? Will all my suffering please you?"

Ken dropped into bed and placed the crutches carefully on the floor. He slid under his blankets and pushed a couple of the small buttons by his nightstand. The main light and nightstand lights went out and the room was illuminated only by the pc monitor and the blinking light from the PET charger.

A long moment passed as Ken thought about his response. What kind of sage advice would his father give in a moment like this? Musou, still conflicted, called out for a Mr Program, who appeared from off to the side of the dojo. "When I tell you, turn off the sound and monitor to Ken's PC, alright?" He said. The program bobbed up and down and spun around, happy to be given an order. "You got it!" he said.


"Yeah Ken?"

"You are precious to me and I do this because I want you to be the strongest navi there ever was. I might not always be there for you, or I might do something wrong." Ken said then paused for several moments before continuing "In time, you will be the seasoned warrior and I'll still be the kid doing katas and sparring." He had a longing in his voice, a pang of jealousy that added a shakey quality Musou wasn't used to hearing.

Musou smiled and ran his hand over the emblem on his chest, a tiny thing but the same thing Ken wore on his shirt and headband. It was the symbol of their training, their friendship and their potential. It was the symbol of the Kobayashi dojo and Ken and his father's pride and joy. He had entrusted it to him to display proudly.


"Yeah Musou?"

"I will be the strongest one day, because I have the best operator in the world."

Musou nodded to Mr Program and a moment later the PCs sound cut off and the room went dark, except for an occasionally blinking LED on the PET charger.
After Musou's first netbattle...

Ken shook his head and checked his PET. He noticed a bit of zenni in his account and the chip data awaiting writing. He slid in a blank chip and waited a moment while it did it's thing. Musou materialized in the viewscreen, overtop of the running programs. He looked around confused for a moment then looked outward, through the PET's camera at Kenji.

"Ken, why did you force a jack out? I didn't want to leave yet! You said it was MY choice", the navi said accusingly. Ken waited a few seconds for the copy to finish then extracted the chip, glancing at the picture that had appeared on the label. He mumbled "Interesting" as he turned it over in his hand and studied it.

"Hey, your not answering-" Musou started then Ken shouted over top of him "Musou! Be quiet. You need to listen to what I have to say. If you want to bicker or talk do it after I am done, understand?"



"....Yes Sensei.."

"Good. Now, first off, know that what you acomplished was not as important as how you went about it. According to the database you beat a trio of the weakest viruses on the net and achieved a horrible rating in the process." Ken said. Musou looked hurt but didn't inturrupt.

"You were not unscathed, you recovered your data using the remnants of your foes'. You were predictable, sloppy and lazy. Charge charge punch, charge charge punch. If you had been fighting anything with actual intelligence you would have been torn to pieces." He continued, bluntly.

Musou seemed taken back, he did what he had to because someone wouldn't let him use chips. What was he supossed to do, slap them around fourty-some times each? Ken noticed the defiant look on his face and his expression hardened as he went on "Every time you built up power you became drunk with it, you didn't even bother trying to dodge. You were arogant, and a brute. A savage. A bully. You were the same as those viruses, you were just tougher."

That was it, Musou couldn't take this crap any longer "What did you say?! I fought-" he started but Ken yelled "I said don't inturrupt me!" This time Musou retorted, turning the PET's speaker up to max as he yelled back "No, you listen to what I have to say-" His voice dissappeared as Ken pushed the mute button on the side of the PET. Musou growled silently and unmuted "Stop being childish-", cut out again. Ken said "Stop it!" but the volume rose again "You stop it! I deserve-" and cut out again.

Finally Ken, seething, held the power button down on his pet. Musou saw what he was doing and vanished in a blink, using the wireless jack-in port to leap into Ken's computer the moment before the PET went dark. Ken looked down at his dark PET and had a mix of anger and panic on his face. Sure he was mad but what had he just done? Had he gone too far?

His computer monitor blinked to life and he saw Musou on his screen with a Mr Program standing behind him, the program saluting loyally. Ken's eye twitched as he tried to remain calm and not throw the PET through the monitor. "M-Musou I-" He stammered.

Musou frowned at him with a look that stopped him cold. It was a look of hate, not just a moment of anger. "How dare you" he said coldly but calmly. Ken tried to find words "I-I'm sorry, I-" he said. "No your not! Take your trash training and shove it!" Musou yelled, loud enough for the whole house to hear. "You fill my head with all these things, karate, discipline, expectations, then you treat me like trash. You live in your happy little elementary school world where your biggest worry is someone teasing you or, oh nooooo, dissapointing your old man." He pointed a accusing finger at Ken and went on "I on the other hand have a defined purpose, I am supossed to be my operator's personal assistant. A lot of people like to netbattle and thats fine, I was made for that too. My roles are clearly defined, my battle routines clearly defined and when the chips are loaded I know how to use them in an instant. I don't need all this extra crap."

Ken's voice was raspy and his mouth dry. He couldn't believe what he was hearing. "Oh I'm not done, owner. You are a hypocrite and have no right to be called my operator. You havn't operated anything. You tell me to do this and do that then when I'm finally molded as you see fit it still isn't good enough for you noooo. Whens the last time you did a pushup or punched a wooden block? Whens the last time you walked?!"

"You know what, you don't deserve me. I don't need you. I've shown I can take care of myself just fine so do me one last favor and never talk to me again." Musou said as he turned his back to Ken and gave a dismissive wave. He told Mr Program to turn off the computer monitor and it's speakers. Mr Program was happy to get an order and chimed "Yes sir!" before the PC went dim and silent.

Ken rolled his computer chair back, staring forward at nothing anymore. He dropped his head into his hands, banging the PET against his head painfully in the process. He winced, forgetting he was even holding it. He looked at it's dim screen then held the power button and plugged it back into it's charger with shaking hands. When he no longer had some menial task to occupy his mind he clenched his hands into fists and unclenched them a few times before tears began to form at the edge of his eyes.

Ken barely registered the warm hand on his shoulder. He looked behind him with tear-filled eyes and saw his mother, kneeling next to him with a concerned look on her face. He began to bawl as the tears flowed freely and hugged her as she pulled him close to her chest. "It's ok, it's ok, let them flow", she wispered.
Ken hadn't let loose in years, he hadn't even cried (much) when he broke his foot, so he let the tension and anguish of the last several years out. He sniffled finally and looked up at his mother "You heard that, huh?" he asked. He heard a deep voice behind his mom speak "The neighbors probably heard that little.. Exchange."

Ken looked over her shoulder and saw his father standing near, rms crossed in his typical disapproving manor. He spoke up "We need to have a talk, young man." Kens mom patted him on the back and said "Friends fight, it's normal. If you are really friends you will heal". Mr Kobayashi said "None the less. Do you remember what I told you about mentoring, son?"

Ken sniffled and wiped his eyes with his shirt sleeve. He thought and said "Yes.. Train, care, lead by example. And.. " he looked down, ashamed. "And most importantly have patience." his father finished. He went on "Everyone is different, everyone has their own perspective and motivation. I do not approve of this much distraction from a toy. It was to train you mentally and to help you leard, not to practice immaturity and scream."

"If you cannot handle efucating this toy how can I trust you with another person?" He finishef. Ken closed his eyes and sighed, his mom still rubbing his back from the hug. "No more talk of this tonight. Rest and approach it fresh tomorrow, after school of course." His mom said with a caring smile.

Mr Kobayashi nodded at her wisdom and said "We learn all our lives. This is but one mistake to learn from, nothing more. Get some sleep", before turning and heading out.

Ken's mom released him and rustled his haid before also heading out, closing the door all but a crack. Ken made his way to his bed and dropped his crutches by the side before laying down, not even bothering to change clothes. He hoped worry and regret wouldn't keep him awake all night but he expected them too.
The next day, after school...

Ken headed through the park with his friends, on his way home. "Sorry about earlier Ken, you know me and girls, I just cant resist." Gin said, from his left. "What about you and girls, Gin?" Yuki said, from his right. He stopped, resting on his crutches and laughed. His friends exchanged glances and gave snickers of their own. "Glad to see your feeling better, Ken." Yuki chirped. He just shrugged and headed over to a park bench before sitting down carefully and resting his crutches behind his seat.

Yuki and Gin sat down on either side of him, still bickering a bit. Yuki pulled out some homework and when Ken saw he also grabbed his. Gin groaned "Come on guys, it's the weekend, we can do that tomorrow or something." Ken and Yuki both said at about the same time "Or monday morning, right?", then looked at each other and laughed. Gin scratched the back of his head and gave a sheepish laugh himself.

A little while later, Yuki and Ken managed to get their homework done while Gin got his half done and spent the rest of the time asking questions, asking to copy and bragging about Netopia. "So I picked up a cool navi over there too! We havn't done any netbattles yet but hes so awesome I just know hes the best there is." Yuki rolled her eyes and mumbled "You boys and your netbattles. PETs can do almost anything and you have to make them fight. So typical.." Ken was kind of torn on that, he had found out recently how cool a navi can be and they can be friends too but he still kind of felt pointless battle was wrong. He said quickly, trying to change the subject "So whats it's name?"

Gin grinned and slid the PET from his backpack. Grinned into the camera for a moment then faced the screen to them. They saw a tall blonde-haired navi with black sunglasses and a bandana around his neck, wearing a red suit, like a business suit. He had black dress shoes and a huge grin on his face, the sparkle of his teeth could amost blind a person. "His name.... Is.... AwesomeMan!" Gin announced proudly.

Both Yuki and Ken blinked and kind of stuttered for a moment, trying to find something to say.. It was just so.. Ugh? Gin inturrupted "I know, I know, speechless. He is truely Awesome." Both Gin and AwesomeMan gave the same thumbs-up and cheezy smile. A moment later both Yuki and Ken were laughing so hard they had tears in their eyes. Gin looked down at his screen and AwesomeMan shrugged and gave another thumbs-up at Gin.

"Yeah, hes awesome. So, Ken, I heard you got a navi while I was away. Wanna have a little friendly match?" Gin said. Ken looked up and wiped his eyes. He took a deep breath and cleared his throat before responding "Sorry I can't. Hes mad at me right now for training him too hard. Hes off on his own somewhere." It hurt him to say but there was no point lying or sugar-coating it. Gin looked horrified and gasped "He- Wha- Off on his own? B-But navis cant fdight on their own! Everyone knows that. They need chips and subchips and stuff." Ken chuckled "Mine is named Musou. And he can get by just fine without me. I trained him way too hard. I thought I was helping him, teaching him like how dad taught me but.. I guess I need to lighten up. Dad's my dad after all. I'm just Musou's friend and partner."

Yuki gave a concerned look and said "Ken.." Ken closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Gin was a bit speechless and he glanced at AwesomeMan, who shrugged dumbly. Gin tried to clear the air "So.. Uh.. MusouMan right?" Ken shook his head and said "Nah, just Musou. It means something like 'unequalled' or 'peerless'. Kinda like 'ultimate'. I thought it would be cool and he likes it. It doesn't need a 'Man' on the end." Gin shook his head and said "Wow.. No chips, no help, still fights, a guy not named 'Man'. What a rebel. And he's actually been in netbattle and won?"

Ken nodded and said "Yep, just a few Metools but he did it without my help. I dunno where he is or what hes doing now, probably blowing off some steam. I have faith in him. He will be back." Gin just sat and kind of boggled. He was about to brag about how cool AwesomeMan was but suddenly he didn't seem so awesome.. Ken looked to Yuki and asked "Do you have a navi too, Yuki?"

Yuki nodded and pulled out her PET. It was pink and a bit too cutesy for either of the boy's tastes. She giggled and said "I do. Her name is Flower. We talk about boys and study and hang out... Girl stuff." The navi waving at them had a yellow face with four large petals around it and a skinny green body, wearing the upper part of some pink and yellow battle armor, boots and gloves. "Hi boys. Yuki's told me all about youuu" she said before Yuki blushed and covered the speaker with a "Shhh".

They talked for a couple hours. Gin wanted AwesomeMan to fight Flower but AwesomeMan said he didn't fight ladies and besides, Yuki said if Gin made Flower fight she would punch him as hard as she could. That made him back down quickly.

When it started to get dark they all waved and headed home. Ken entered and saw his mother in the kitchen and his father reading the newspaper at the dining table. Mrs Kobayashi didn't even need to look, she just said "Welcome home Ken. Put your things away then wash up for dinner, it will be ready in a few minutes." Ken didn't know if she was psychic or had super hearing or.. maybe she could sense his chi?! He knew not to sit and think too long though as he made his way quickly twords his room.

As he was almost gone, his father said in one of his more casual tones, which still growled and rolled like gruff thunder "We have things to discuss after dinner Ken so don't ask to be excused."
As dinner neared it's end...

Ken began to squirm in his chair. His talks with his father had only gotten more strict and worse since he had been injured. His father had always punished him with minimal discussion, maximum training. Bad word? Pushups! Disrespect? Run laps! Getting lazy in training? Do it all over again twice more!

He nervously looked up at his mother, who seemed to be oblivious to the choking atmosphere. She smiled at Ken and he weakly smiled back and said "Thanks for dinner mom". Mrs Kobayashi nodded and replied "Your welcome. So go ahead dad, tell him." Ken looked between the two of them in horror. How could she remind him? It was betrayel! Mr Kobayashi cleared his throat and looked at Ken, staring at him in his calm and calculating manor that could smother joy, hide murder..

"Kenji Kobayashi-" he started. Great, Ken thought, the whole name, I'm screwed. "It has been a few months since your injury and during that time I've left you to your own devices. You were getting stircrazy so your mother insisted we get you one of those PET toys to help you out and keep you company. If I had given you a real pet I daresay it would have either died or run away by now." his words struck like thunder.

Ken knew better then to inturrupt his dad so he just tried to keep looking at him. Avoiding his gaze would only get him yelled at. Continuing, Mr Kobayashi said "According to your mother, these toys can think and learn. I have done some research and found that they are highly advanced AI. I watched your toy perform our school's katas admirably. And before you say anything, I will continue to refer to 'him' as a toy untill he does something to earn my respect. I will, however, give him the chance to do so."

"I understand you trained him too hard and he ran off. I already talked to you about proper mentoring. You cannot train every student the same. Some people will train and others truely enjoy training. Your toy will train, you enjoy training. Do you see the difference? His body gives him an edge yours does not have. You must condition yourself. Your heart, your mind, your soul. Even if you replace his normal fighting methods with our karate, he still only needs to condition his mind. I'm sorry but I don't see how a toy that you bought can ever have a soul, advanced AI or not." he seemed to finish up.

Ken wasn't exactly sure what to say. Was he supossed to say anything? Was he supossed to challenge his father's beliefs? No, his father prefered action to words. He would have to prove to him that Musou had chi and could have a soul. Ken said clearly and with as little challenge in his voice as he could muster "I understand. I will not dissapoint you again." he placed his hands on the table before him and bowed his head to his father, his sensei.

Mrs Kobayashi, smiling, elbowed her husband, and not gently either. He looked at her, annoyed then saw her smile and the way she was motioning with her head twords Ken. "Go on", she said. It wasn't a request. Mr Kobayashi swallowed and looked at Ken before saying "Kenji, son. Everyone makes mistakes. It is how we all learn and grow. No mistake that is truely unforgivable should do anything but strengthen your resolve and your bond with your friends and family and... toy. He will come back. I advise you be waiting. Your excused."

Ken blinked. Did he just hear... Support from his father? Something other then the whole 'this is for your own good' and 'you will thank me later' orders he usually gave? He suspected his mother had something to do with it but wasn't going to question the turn of events. He nodded and took up his crutches then headed to his room. He would spend another few hours at least staring at his computer and PET, hoping for something from Musou.
Later that night...

Ken sat at his PC, working on turning Musou's training dojo program a full-blown Homepage for anyone to use. Maybe Musou was out making friends, he hoped. The PET beeped from nearby, still plugged into it's charger. He slid it across his desk and glanced at the screen. Apparently Musou had transmitted him some zenni and battlechip data.

Ken sighed a bit, he had faith that his navi was alright but this helped confirm it and he wasn't too angry it seemed, to send stuff back. He popped a blank chip into the PET and waited while it formatted and loaded the data. A few moments later he popped it out and looked at the new label, a ZapRing. He sat it next to the PET with his other chips and stared at the screen, hoping that he would see Musou pop back in.

But for the time being it wasn't to be. He gave another sigh and went back to working on the homepage. He saw an ad pop up in the corner of his PC screen. He was a bit annoyed untill he saw it was for a new kind of PET, and a Mr Program was peeking out from behind it, waving. He chuckled and looked into it, something about a PET that looked like his but also containing a pullup holographic interface and it's own screen so one could format either of the screens to display the data desired. He pondered it then bit his lip. That kind of stuff wasn't cheap and he had just got his PET a few months ago as a gift.

Discipline, he decided. He would save up and get it himself. He idly wondered if the company that made PETs would accept netbattle zenni.. And he had Musou's development to think about.. No, that money was Musou's. He would find a way to do chores or tutor people or something.
The next day...

Ken tried to keep his mind off Musou so he pondered netbattle stragety in general. He put in an order for a process upgrade for his navi online, the Mr Program promising it was fast enought and easy enough for him to make the transaction. He had some ideas for new moves but wanted to talk it over with Musou first.

So netbattles... History... Hmm. Advancing networks meant advancing programs, devices and viruses.. Rumors of multiple layers of the net in each area.. Ken pondered about everything andstumbled across a brief bit of regarding some old group called Officials, or Official Netbattlers.

He couldn't tell much except they used to operate like some kind of elite agent or super spy for someone. Did lots of good. No longer exists.

He scratched his chin and wondered why? Did they just change their name? Does someone better equipped do their old job now? "Who goes around the world and solves net problems.. Netpolice?" he mumbled.

Netpolice, Netpolice.. Pretty common info, help people, keep order, charities, fight criminals? He gave a grin at that. On the net, anyone could do good and fight crime and evil viruses.

With ideas popping around his head, he started reading through the Netpolice's public site.
Ken stretched and looked over at the holographic display ob a clock on his desk. He blinked in disbelief, hr had been digging around for info on Officials and the NetPolice in general for hours. He was late and he was going to hear about it from Yuki. With a groan he grabbed his crutches and headed out, giving a quick "Seeya mom, love you", on his way out.

"Kenji where have you been?! Your even later than Gin!" Yuki fumed. Ken bit his lip and looked down sheepishly, no point making excuses. Girls didn't take them anyway, he had learned. Still, maybe he could get Gin into it and change the subject, so he spoke quickly "Guess what, I looked up a lot of info about the NetPolice and some old groupcalled Officials!"

Silence. Gin just rubbed the back of his head and looked away. Uh oh, that means Yuki already yelled at him. "And? Spending half the day browsing the net is an excuse to ditch us? You could have looked up this stuff any time!" Yuki growled at him. Darn, sometimes he hated being right.

Ken held up his hands and said "Listen, I think I wanna join them and be one of those Officials."

More silence. This time it seemed to be in disbelief. Gin was the one to break it "Uhh don't you have to be an adult to be a policeman?" Yuki gave Gin a dirty look and added "Or police woman."

Ken shook his head and grinned "I dunno, that wasn't the stuff I was looking up. Officials existed in the past, they were kind of like NetPolice but I guess it would be more accurate to say private investigators and international super agents. Doesn't that sound awesome?", he said. Yuki bit her bottom lip then tried to say gently "Thats great, and maybe one day but they probably wont take you till your foot heals and maybe you get back in shape.."

Gin gave a depressed look and mumbled "Even on the bench for months, and in a cast, he could probably still kick my butt." Ken blinked, brought a bit more down to Earth. He grumbled "I guess.."
Even while still in the park, Ken and his friends kept chatting.

Yuki idly swung her feet back and forth from her seat on the bench, Gin was practicing his thumbs-up to his navi, AwesomeMan, and Ken was wracking his brain for answers to problems that hadarisen in his plan.

"Ok, so even if Officials had included kids in the past, and assuming they let you join despite your foot.." Yuki started, then paused a moment before continuing "It really all comes down to NetBattles right? They would want an unstoppable net agent or something."

Ken scratched his chin and said "Well, yeah. I mean, it's not all net battles but yeah. So?" Yuki blinked and looked at Ken or a moment, hoping he was smart enough to see it. It was so obvious, but he was so overconfidant in an annoying, but cute way. She frowne and finally exclaimed "You just got Musou! I know your not rich and your family makes you earn anything you want. Your chip folder must be almost empty!" Ken frowned and said "Who cares about chips, Musou can fight without them."

Gin raised his eyebrows and said "Dude, like it or not, all the bad guys use chips and sometimes you gotta win fast to protect stuff or catch criminals right?" Yuki nodded her head. Gin went on "Besides the chips theres all the other stuff like upgrades, more memory, sub chips just in case. All that stuff takes lots of zenni." Yuki cut in and said "You know what else isn't cheap? Traveling around the world to investigate criminal activity or arrest people in person. I mean thats the difference between normal people and Officials right? You said the police sanction them."

Gin looked a bit dumbly and said "Sanction? Like at church?" Yuki smirked "No, thats sanctionary. If they are sanctioned that means they can arrest people, carry a gun, and go places regular people aren't allowed." Ken was still stewing over all the problems. He couldn't afford to go around the world, not even to chase criminals.
"Ok so tell me again, if Officials and NetPolice both do the same stuff whats the difference?" Gin asked, as they all walked to the edge of the park to head home. Streetlights were coming on and that was their parent's curfew.

Yuki raised a finger and said "Sanctioned. They aren't the same at all. They do a lot of the same stuff but think of them as friends, not family." Gin scratched his head and grumbled "What?" Yuki smirked and said "If you go have a sleepover at Ken's house you guys hang out, do pretty much the same stuff, Ken's mom might even feed you and let you use one of their futons right?" Gin nodded. "But does that mean your a member of their family? Do they have to buy your clothes? Take care of you all the time? Make sure you get to school on time and plan for your future?" She asked.

Gin raised his eyebrows and said "Ohh so you mean they work together and the NetPolice let them to go around and fight crime and stuff but they don't give them any guns or plane tickets or anything." Ken nodded sadly and mumbled "Yeah. The advantage is they are on their own and can solve cases as they want and go where they want, anything as long as they don't break the law and they get results. Might even let them use some of their computers once in awhile. But.." he sighed, seems he hadn't thought this through all the way.

Yuki spoke up "Just because they let you carry a gun doesn't mean they will buy you one. Just because they let you arrest people doesn't mean they are going to fly you to another country to do it. Heck they wont even give you a bus pass to the next town. they sound like they are really on their own." Ken nodded and said halfheartidly "Now I see why they were disbanded. Unless your rich or have rich friends who want to help you, you can only do so much. It's not like they get payed anything except typical mission rewards. They aren't bounty hunters after all. Their 'reward' is keeping their job."

Yuki pouted and said "Hey, it's still a good dream. So it has a couple kinks to work out. Don't let anyone tell you that you cant do it. Your ACDC's karate ace right?" Ken gave a deep sigh and smiled "Yeah, whenever I heal up. If you guys thought I worked hard before just wait. I just don't know how I'll break this to dad. He wants me to take over the dojo. I mean it's not like I have to be an Official my whole life, I could still do both. I guess." Ken gave a wave to the others then headed home. Gin headed off and neither of them saw Yuki standing and watching Ken leave. "I'll do anything I can to help your dream come true Ken." she said before heading off.
After heading home...

Ken made his way into the house, discarding his shoe at the entryway. Good smells filled the air and his mother said, from over the stove "Welcome home Ken. Wash up for dinner, you know the drill." Eyes in the back of her head, he thought. He had to learn that trick.. "Ok mom" he said and headed past the dining room and living room to the bathroom to wash up.

In the dining room sat Mr Kobayashi, reading the daily newspaper. He sipped a cup of herbal tea and switched pages. Mrs Kobayashi hummed merrily as she began bringing several plates and dishes onto the table. Her husband reached out and took what was needed for his placesetting and grunted to her. She smirked, that was his 'thanks' grunt.

Ken headed into the dining room and sat down. He sat his crutches beside him and took silverware and a plate. Everything seemed like it was going to be a standard dinner at the Koboyashi household. Ken swallowed and began to sweat as he thought how his future might change forever tonight.

"Father, uhm, Mom", Ken started, nervously. Ken's father said in his gritty voice, without even looking "What did you do this time?" Ken's mom served out dinner for him, he told her he could do it himself in the past but she said to shush, she wanted to feel in some small way like she was nursing her wounded little boy.

"Thanks mom.." Ken mumbled as he gazed over the plate of Electopian style curry. He looked at the silverware by him and reached out to the middle of the table and claimed a pair of chopsticks from their holder. He poked around at a couple of the vegetables, pushing things around idly. He looked up and saw the others were eating. He figured now was as good a time as any and cleared his throat.

His parents finished their current bites then looked over at him. Ken said "Have you ever heard of Official Netbattlers?" suddenly. Ken's father shrugged and said "Heard of them. Like I've heard of old bands. That were around before our time. Why do you ask?"

Ken said "Well, because I think.. No, I know. I know that I want to become one." His father snorted and shrugged. His mom smiled and said "Thats nice dear." Ken blinked and wondered if they were even listening. He tried again "I mean for real. Go around the world, chase hackers and stop net crime. Save lives and arrest bad guys." His mother look concerned suddenly, she knew Ken had a habit of devoting all his being into something when he convinced himself he wanted it. Chase criminals? Get shot at, be lonely and go hungry in strange lands he meant. She spoke up "Ken, I thought you were training to take over the dojo. Surely you won't have time to do both will you? Train your navi for that kind of thing and run a school while your running around the world?" She was hoping simple words and maybe a nervous glance to her husband would talk some sense into him.

Mr Kobayashi shrugged and took another sip of his tea. He said almost carelessly "As long as nothing happens to me he won't need to run the dojo for a long time. I'm more or less still in my prime. We are just about to turn 40, dear Not 80." he sat his cup down and motioned over to Ken, ignoring his wife's urgent look "Besides, if our son wants to run off and be a hero it will be good publicity for the dojo. The karate that brings peace to the world." he said. Ken gave him a doubtful look, was he just being sarcastic?

"Dad.. You reall mean-" Ken started but his mother cut him off "No he doesn't mean that, hes just joking, right dear? Besides, how will you get around the world we aren't rich." Ken flinched. His mother got right to the point. Mr Kobayashi spoke up "Actually I was being serious. If our son wants to help those who can't help themselves and bring bad people to justice, could we hope for anything better?"

Ken was taken back and a rush of mixed emotions ran through him. He wanted to chear but his mom was right about the travel and money. He wanted to ask if his father really meant it but he wasn't a man to waste words, he meant it. Ms Kobayashi gave a nervous little laugh and said "But Ken, you can't do that stuff with your foot. You need your rest. And you can't let your schoolwork suffer.."

Mr Kobayashi shook his head and answered for Ken "No, they wont take him with a broken foot. However what he has is a golden opportunity, the next several months at least, maybe a year at most to train his mind and his toy extensivly. If he's to chase criminals and solve problems he will need an even sharper wit then he has now and a powerful and experienced navi. They will need to master teamwork also." He reclaimed his chopsticks, he prefered them to silverware also, and went back to eating.

Ken's mom sighed. She would let it go for now but she would watch Ken and at the first sign of hesitation or wanting to 'be something else when he grows up' she hoped it would be the end of this talk. Ken, meanwhile, could barely contain himself. He even gave a little giggle, through his big grin. His father glanced up at him and a corner of his mouth bent up in a smirk. Mrs Kobayashi found herself much less hungry now and just looked at her food, pushing a few things around with a fork, while Ken ate ravanously.
A couple days later...

Ken rubbed his temples as he sat his PET down. He was studying Electopian and the language was just a mess. Backwards and just plain wrong sometimes. He rubbed his thumb over the emblem on the device and quickly shook the thought away. No, Musou would be back soon and he could wait. He looked down at his bookbag and wondered if he should read through his schoolbooks again. He thought he had them pretty well memorized but they were basic compared to what he hoped to learn. Mastery of basics was important and besides, his eyes needed a break from his PETs screen.

He dropped into his bed and sat his crutches down. He grabbed the first book from his bag, Math. He flipped to the last couple chapters and started doing problems in his head, flipping to the back afterwords to check his answer.

He needed to get his hands on harder problems and for all he wanted to do, a navi would help.. He wondered for a moment, then went back to work, trying to answer the problems aloud in Electopian.
The next week, Saturday morning..

Rubbing his eyes, Kenji awoke and looked around. This had been crazy lately, with his teacher deciding he should take an IQ test to place out of fifth grade and Musou returning. He had that test later today after school. Good ol' six day Electopian school weeks. Well, it wasn't like he had ever known any different so it didn't matter.

He was a bit slow getting dressed as he remembered the netbattle with Musou. Had been pretty fast and fun. He could see the appeal, when he wasn't being so strict. Let loose and have some fun, right.

Getting himself together finally he grabbed his crutches and headed down to breakfast..

He saw a note on the table and breakfast in the fridge. Something about his father had a meeting and his mother had to go shopping. He didn't know what to expect but he couldn't let it hurt his performance later on. He patted his PET and glanced down into the screen. Seemed Musou was still chatting on with Delta or something.

Passing through the park on the way to school, he met up with Gin and Yuki. He waved to them and Yuki gave a nervous smile, saying "Morning Ken. So today's the big day, huh?" Ken nodded back and said "Yeah.. Well I'm sure it will be fine." Gin pipped up "Hey, its not like these are entrance exams or anything. No big deal." The others gave him a sideways glance and Yuki said "Gin, these are more important than entrance exams, and in a way they are. Think about it, if we do well, Ken and I could be placed into a middle school or even into high school!"

Gin blinked and said "Wha? High school? No way they would put you guys ahead that far. And besides, what if you don't even place the same and we all get split up.." Yuki bit her lower lip and Ken looked around nervously. They had apparently been thinking the same thing. Ken tried to push the idea away and said "Anyway, there are still some middle schools left in this country. Yes a lot of schools are joined middle-high schools but..", he stopped and mumbled something. Yuki finished it for him "I hope we don't have to move and leave each other.."

Gin tried to be cheerful and said "Hey guys, do your best. It's for your future right? Ken, you want to be a net agent or savior or something right? And Yuki.. Uh.. What did you want to do?" Yuki blushed furiously, she had really only wanted to be by Ken's side and help him succeed. She had never really thought about it. She was smart but people had always told her she wouldn't have to decide her future untill high school, maybe that was one reason Ken's dream appealed to her so much. She looked down and said "I guess.. I hadn't thought about it. But I suppose being a net scientist would be neat. Try to push humanity's limits and save the world from a less hands-on approach." The boys looked to her in amazement "Wow.. Yuki.." She tried to put a smug smile on her face and waved her hand idly "Anyway, first thing's first. We finish this school day then we take the test. I'm sure we won't even know the results for awhile.

And so with heavy thoughts in their minds, Ken and his friends headed to school...
If it wern't for the crutches, Kenji would be trying to tip-toe into the house but even then it wouldn't have mattered. As soon as he closed the front door behind him, he noticed his parents sitting at the dinner table, from across the living room, staring at him. He looks down in defeat and silently makes his way to the bathroom to wash up.

The boy sits at the dining table and lays his crutches down beside him. He looks to his plate and sees there was foot served for him but it's cold now. He looks to his father, but the man burries his face in the day's newspaper. His mother however, clears the silence "Kenji Kobayashi". The full name, great. "Young man, where have you been? Your father and I were worried sick", she states calmly. Kenji looks up at his mother's face and notices signs that she had been crying, but had apparently composed herself for this. "I'm sorry, I-", the boy starts but is cut off by his mother "No, you aren't sorry yet, but you will be. I think being grounded for a month will give you an idea of how worried we were". He looks over to his father, in near panic but the man senses his sons eyes on him and just pulls the newspaper up higher.

"B-but mother-", he starts but is again cut off. "Was yours or someone else's life in danger?", his mother said. This threw him off but he stammered "N-no". Mrs Kobayashi frowned then said "Then you could have called, at least. I would have listened to your explanation then. Now finish your dinner. Cold or not, you need it to keep healing smoothly. Then You will clean up the dinner table, bathe, then to bed". It was not a request, nor was it up for discussion. Musou spoke up loudly from his PET, strapped to Ken's arm "That isn't fair, we-", but even he could feel the heat of her glare and went silent. She rose and pointed at the PET, before adding "You too, mister. Your grounded for a month too. Neither of you bothered to even send a message. And I called the Seiko household, to find out Yuki and Daigin had left hours before you. Trying to get something back for some old man in an antique store. That does not excuse you". She crossed her arms and said "Maybe next time you till think. Think about your actions and how they effect others. No television, no friends, no net, no games or computer time. For either of you".

Kenji blinked back tears and bit his lip. It wasn't fair, he was just trying to help. He had lost track of time but it wasn't like he was gone for a year or something. His mother looked him over and said "Good, I can see your getting the idea". He spoke up quietly, not for himself but for his navi "M-Musou needs to train". Mrs Kobayashi scowled but motioned towards her husband "We've already discussed this. Your father will take over that for the next month. You worry about school, housework and your punishment. Nothing else". Ken glanced over to his father, but the man merely slinked a hand out from behind a stifly-held paper to get his tea, and took a sip.

Kenji nodded quietly and cleaned up the table and cleaned up as he was told, before bed. He plugged his PET into the charger before heading to sleep. From across his room, Musou said "Good night Sensei. This month will go by before you know it". Ken didn't feel like commenting but at least said back "Night Musou".
A month later...

The boy sat in silence, only breaking it to let out a sigh. He wasn't grounded anymore but he just didn't feel like doing anything. His parents had been holding back the results from his recent assessment test and even called into the school to make sure they did the same, as part of his punishment. He was dying to know. Yuki had placed two years ahead, in the seventh grade. That would put her in either a middle school or a joined middle-high school. At any rate, she had been busy going afterschool every day to a prep school to study for entry exams. They said assigning IQ was too old a concept and often backfired as it put too much pressure on the student or their peers, but hers would be at 185, legally at genius level.

Kenji knew Yuki was gifted, and deserved to advance. She cruised through their lessons with the bare minimum effort but always took them seriously. She kept herself occupied with extra credit and personal research that wasn't even for school credit. Kenji felt a pang of jealousy, he knew she was smarter than he was but he put in so much more effort. Not only did he have to understand the work but he also fought hard to keep up with Yuki. In many ways there were best friends and rivals, always pushing each other to new heights. It wasn't fair though, she was going to soar past him and he would always be sitting bitter in her shadow.

He punched one of his pillows and bit his lip, holding back tears. He could hit things, big deal. He was expected to run the family dojo when he was older, his future had been sat in front of him already. Sure his father would tolerate him seeking other things like joining the Net Police or whatever he wanted to do, but that was only untill the man wanted to retire or became too old or infirm to continue. His choice was just an illusion. He took the assessment test because getting ahead here gave him one or two extra years to chase his dreams..

Musou was also silent. He had learned little he didn't know in the past month of extreme training from Mr Kobayashi, but he could easily say he was a master of the basics. He had been told that living a healthy and pure lifestyle and staying not only in shape but constantly limber and trained was the ground the foundation was sat upon. The 'foundation' was the basics of their school, the stances, the forms and their correct execution. The navi had tried to cheer up his operator but it wasn't much use. The boy was in a dark place and for the time being he just wanted to be left alone. The two friends sat, just a foot between them but appart in a span far greater than just the window between the networld and the real world.

A knock at his door finally broke the silence. Kenji didn't bother to move, still spread across his bed and staring at the ceiling. Another knock came and this time Kenji said simply "Come in". His mother opened the door and stepped inside, followed by his father. The Kobayashis headed over to their son's bed and Kenji's mom sat on the edge of it while his father stood and looked around the room akwardly. Obviously they had rehersed this and as usual it was mom's job to do the talking.

"Why are you looking so down, Ken? We told you last night you wern't grounded anymore. We thought you would be excited to get back on the net with Musou or to go play with your friends". The boy's face betrayed a pained expression when she mentioned 'friends' and she wrinkled her brow before asking "Kenji, did you get into another fight with Yuki and Daigin?"

Kenji shook his head furously then closed his eyes as he sighed. His father spoke up sternly "Tell us what is bothering you, young man". Mrs Kobayashi gave him a frown and he fell silent as she turned her caring smile back to their son. She cooed as she said "It's ok Kenji, your all good friends and you'll get through whatever is going on". The boy opened his eyes again and just said "Yuki placed two grades ahead. She'll be taking entrance exams soon and... Leave. Any school would love to have her. We might never see each other again".

Mrs Kobayashi reached out and pulled her son into a hug. She could tell he was fighting back tears, not wanting to cry in front of his father. He was stronger than that. She said "Kenji it's ok. You can always visit when you have time and your just a call or homepage link away". She gave his head a pat and continued, "And, I think it's time you found out how you did on your evaluation". She looked up to Mr Kobayashi, who slid an envelope out of one of the big sleeves on his gi. He handed it to his son, who sat upright and took it with shaking hands. Kenji looked it over, it had already been opened, of course, as it was meant to be his parents' copy. He took the letter from the envelope and held it still folded shut for a moment as he braced himself. "Go on, read it", his mom said in a caring voice. The boy bit his lip and opened the letter, quickly going over it.

To the guardians of Mr Kenji Kobayashi:

As you may be aware, recently your child has voluntarily submitted him or herself for educational assessment. This assessment was designed to evaluate logical, creative and emotional levels when compared to his or her peers on a national level. We are pleased to announce that your child has placed within the top twenty percent of his or her peers in the nation. intelligence quotient tests were discontinued long ago, to be replaced by such assessments as your child underwent but if such tests were still taken your child's IQ score at this age would be 160. It is recommended that a further test be given in four years to-

Kenji stopped reading and he looked up at his parents in a state of half-shock. He stammered "I- Uh- I've uhh". His father said sternly "Do not think this means you can get lazy. If anything, you will have to work harder now than ever". His mother agreed with the concern, if not for her husbands delivery, but said "It's alright Kenji.. You need to start studying after school to get ready for placement tests. We are going to make sure you have the best opportunity you can get to advance".

Looking at his mother dumbfounded, the boy just gave her a nod. She cracked a smile and said "Don't worry about cram school, I'll be guiding your studies". Kenji knew his mom never talked about it but she had been pretty smart when she was in school, herself. His father broke the moment though by adding "Besides, we cant afford to send you". Mrs Kobayashi gave him a scowl and her husband just shrugged and walked off and out of the room. What had he done wrong, he wondered, just speaking the truth.

"I went out and bought a prep school study course to install to your computer and your PET. That way you can study whenever you get the chance to before the tests. Oh and we've decided to give you the next month to study, then your scheduled for entry exams the last month of school".

Kenji glanced into the camera on his PET and gave a helpless look to Musou. The navi, for his part, gave an akward grin and chuckle and said "Uhh congrats Ken. Sounds like we've got our work cut out for us huh? Eheh hehh". Mrs Kobayashi nodded and added "Oh yes you both do. You will be studying too, Musou and in addition it will be your job to make sure he sticks to it". The navi finished off his aukward chuckle with a groan. He was a fighter, not a scholar. Still, he knew her statement was an order, not a question so he just said "Understood".

As she stood, the woman added "Go out and get some fresh air before we start all this after dinner. Besides, your father said Musou was ready to learn more and I noticed you've built up some zenni from your net adventures. Why don't you treat him to some upgrades? Your bus pass will get you to SciLab". Kenji nodded and grabbed his crutches from the floor and used them to help him stand. His mom watched as he made his way across his room and to his door. She added as he was leaving "And that cast should be off soon. I'm sure if you don't run yourself ragged with training, you father will". She chuckled and shook her head as her son left with a grin.
Kenji arrived home and in an excited bustle passed by his mother with barely a greeting. For her part, she was happy to see her son had finally cheered up, so she just smiled. The boy made his way into his room as fast as his crutches would allow and sat at his desk. He unstrapped the PET from his arm and plugged it into the charger on his desk. Even though his PET had infrared functionality, he prefered to directly connect it to his PC via it's jack-in cable, and he wasted little time doing so.

In a flash of light, the cozy world within the PET vanished and Musou found himself standing again within thw world of Kenji's PC. It looked pretty bland and empty, with a few Mr Prog running about, finishing the PCs' startup processes. With a few keystrokes, Kenji activated the dojo training program and got things set up for Musou. The navi waited patiently, waving at a couple of the busy Progs, untill finally a transfer point appeared next to him. He stepped into it and vanished as his body traveled into the simulation.

This time when the light cleared and Musou's vision returned he was in his beloved karate dojo. The familiar sights and smells filled his senses, he even heard the running water of the bamboo fountain outside one of the wooden slat-covered windows, along with the occasional CLAK noise it made as the tube filled to the brim and it fell to strike the rock below it before swinging back up to fill again. His homepage on the net was similar to all this but because he spent most of his time here and the program he was in now was bought and already customized for this sort of thing, while his home page was left to Kenji to try and code, it lacked the sophistication and attention to detail.

Kenji spoke up to his navi, and it came in through both the PC's microphone and the PET's microphone for a nice real-world sterio effect, "Alright Musou, we got those upgrades installed on the bus ride home, now we can try them out". Musou grinned and spoke up "You got it Sensei! What's first?" Kenji dragged his mouse around the options and finally saw what he was looking for. He CLicked it in, typed in a few things to set parameters and several large rocks appeared on the floor of the dojo, the largest as tall as the navi himself. Kenji grinned and said "Try these out for starters".

Musou nodded and took a fighting stance "Hai Sensei!", he shouted as he struck out a punch quickly to the smallest rock with his new break-enhanced fists. A noticible chunk fell the object and the navi paused a moment to gather his energy, building up for a powerfull charge attack. He struck out with his other hand, accompanied by a loud "Kee-Yah", and the rock shattered. He grinned and approached each rock in turn, pulverizing them one after the other, some with rapid blows, some with one or more charged attacks and the last few by adding in his inner might powerup effect to the blow.

Musou grinned a pumped his fist in the air with triumph "This is awesome, Sensei! Not only so I feel stronger but my blows are going clean through and sometimes even damaging the floor". Kenji grinned a bit, as he was excited too, but he wouldn't be the operator or sensei he was if he got too carried away. "Very good, Musou. Now I'm going to drop a few rocks on you, try out your new move. Trust in it", the boy said. Musou gulped and nodded. He wasn't too fond of just standing and letting things hit him but he too wanted to know the limitation of his new shield.

The navi calmed his mind and opened himself up to the data flow of the area as he had done numerous times before both here and in the net. As usual, he preferred the data stream in here, as the net was full of viruses, bugs and distortions that were capable of making him feel ill when he opened himself up and caught a wave of them. He breathed deeply and pulled data towards himself, as much as he could muster as once, then opened his palms in front of him, paralell with his chest ad he pushed out like he was doing a kata. The data swirled within his body then became tempered energy as it seeped out from him then surrounded his body in a golden halo of light. He couldn't exactly explain it, it wasn't a flame, it wasn't electricity, it was just calming and safe energy that felt like a reflection of himself. It surrounded him and he felt calm and safe. At least untill the first rock fell.

It was as big as his head, it appeared directly overhead and fell with surprising force. Fortunately for him, as soon as it struck the shield it glanced off. Musou could feel some of the energy in the shield diminish, but it held strong to protect him. Another rock appeared overhead, this one as large as the navi's body. After the first, he was expecting this one and it took all he had to not try to evade it. None the less, it glanced off the shield as easily as the first had. It flickered and waned afterwords but still held. The navi gulped as he braced for another, and another did indeed come, this one quite a bit larger then the navi. It fell and he gritted his teeth and closed his eyes as he waited. Again the rock glanced off the shield and slid to the side, leaving the navi safe. On the third and final strike however, the shield fell, the remaining energies spreading away from him as they fled back into the surroundings.

Kenji gave a 'Hrmm' and said "Looks like it will cover you for three shots. Doesn't seem to matter how big or small they are either, thats handy. It should help a lot for when you get in over your head.." The navi nodded, still a bit nervous and looking above him, just in case Kenji decided to drop another rock on him. He said "Yeah it's awesome, and I felt myself attuning to my surroundings quicker and easier too. Looks like that upgrades really payed off". "Yes, the upgrades reinforced your training but without your constand practice and training they would have been pointless", the boy said.

Musou bit his lip and sighed, he wanted to say something but they had talks on the subject before and he knew it would probably just upset his operator. Kenji could tell something was up though and said "It's alright, go ahead and speak freely Musou". The navi hesitated and looked around sheepishly, was he that obvious? At any rate, he finally spoke up "Ken, I have to uh.. Wonder? I mean, we've drilled and practiced so much that I think by now I've pretty much got all the basic movements, stances, attacks and such mastered". Musou went on "So, I guess what I'm trying to say is that now that I'm past the basics and can do all the forms and everything you and your father have taught me, and I've had experience using them in combat.. I uh.. I don't see what the point is anymore".

Kenji raised an eyebrow, torn between being offended and surprised, all he said was "Huh". Musou quickly tried to clarify "W-What I mean, Ken is that in all the training we have been doing, I've been busting my butt and only getting more familiar with my attacks and getting more confidant in battle. I know that's a good thing but after installing some simple upgrades I feel much stronger. And my results are obvious, with breaking the rocks and others glancing off my shield. No matter how much training I did and practice, I wouldn't have been able to do those things without the upgrades".

Kenji sighed and rubbed his forehead, trying to hold a headache back. Yelling and punishing only got a teacher so far, and he liked to think Musou and he were past that point. "Musou. Let me put it this way.. If, in a fight, you are moving with a supreme confidence, conserving every motion and striking at an opponents openings to maximum effect, would you say you stand a good chance of winning?", the boy said. Musou nodded and replied simply "Hai, Sensei". Kenji went on "Alright, now imagine instead of doing that you had a bunch of upgrades and were literally standing still because you had a powerfull shield and were throwing out your special moves and the chips I sent you as fast as you could". Musou wrinkled his brow, not exactly sure where this was going and said "Uh.. O-Okay".

Kenji raised an eyebrow and said "What happens when you fight a very challenging opponent who focuses on defense while you are wasting chips, barely even trying to hit them? How about they focus on weak but rapid attacks to bring that shield down before hitting you with thier heavy attacks?" The navi looked down, starting to feel ashamed. Kenji finished up by saying "I don't care how powerfull upgrades and chips make you, it is only potential power. If you do not train hard and practice to fight at your absolute best then you will only be at a fraction of your effective power. That shield is there to guard against attacks you either fail to or cannot avoid in the first place. And you may be stronger but you still have to fully charge your attacks before they are of much use". Musou finished the lecture up by saying, before his operator could "I still have a lot to learn. I see that now".

Kenji gave a nod and said "I'm glad you understand, Musou". The boy thought for a moment and asked his navi "Why do you think a Sensei passes on their art to others?" This sudden question threw off Musou, who gave a 'Uhhh' as he thought about it for a moment then said "So it doesn't get lost?" The boy nodded lightly and replied "That is one reason, but it's not so simple. There are many reasons to teach and each Sensei may have different ones. For every Sensei that wants to spread tradition the is another who just wants to pay the bills. For every one that loves teaching and being admired there is another who wishes to learn in a new light from watching their student's interprit the moves and come up with their own. And the reasons go on and one, some pragmatic, some noble, some twisted. It's not a simple question, even if it seems like it at first".

Musou scratched his head and said "Wow, I never really thought about it before. Why do you teach, Sensei?" Kenji pursed his lips as he thought about it and replied "Well, you know one of the reasons I teach", as he pointed to the cast on his foot. Kenji smirked and said "There is an old saying, some take it as an insult, others as sage advice, that goes 'Those who cannot do, teach'. In this case it seems appropriate. But if I had never been injured, we may have never met and I may not have come to realise a lot of the things I have for years, if ever at all. You speak your mind and questiont hings, which makes me think. Some students just want to get the belts or will follow with blind obedience and thats not good in a student".

The navi raised a finge in objection "But every time I have challenged you, it almost always leads into some kind of arguement. And I've never seen you challenge your father". Kenji snorted in amusement and said "After the arguements we both learn, grow and reach new levels of understanding. They are healthy. And I used to challenge my father all the time, many of our talks have mirrored ones Father and I have had. I finally accepted that he had my best interests in mind and knew what he was doing. I'm sure he feels both proud and sad that I don't really challenge him anymore, like Mom always seems sad when she says her little boy is growing up, or something. They miss it, I guess".

Musou cocks his neck to the side and ponders for a moment. He finally says "Ken, are you sure your only Eleven? Sometimes you sound like an adult when you have wisdom to share". The boy shrugged and answered "Part of it is good, strict upbringing. And thanks to this cast, and our talks, I've done a lot of introspection lately. And I'm not a teenager yet, I've heard teenagers get really unruly". Musou pouted "Hey, you know I'm supossed to be a teenager right?", he asked.

Kenji grinned and went back to typing in a few commands and clicking a few more options on his PC untill a link appeared in the room, like a swirling energy portal. Musou recognised the colors and the feeling he was getting off it though, it was to Kenji's homepage. Looks like they were going to get into the net. His question still unaswered, Musou let it go as he transfered in a flash of light to their homepage, modeled after a karate dojo.

Glancing around while Kenji typed in commands, Musou noticed a link leading to his friend's home pages, Flower and Awesome Man. Another general link appeared, this one heading back into ACDC net. Musou raised an eyebrow and questioned "This place again, Ken?" Kenji nodded and replied "We've never made it all that far through here, lets see just how far it goes, eh?" Musou nodded and stepped in for some virus busting..
A few weeks later...

Kenji hobbled into the house, flanked on either side by his mother and father, who held an arm and helped him stay upright. "I-I'm fine, really" the boy said but his parents weren't taking chances. "When you are offered assistance and you need it, young man, it is proper to thank those who help, not backtalk them" his father said sternly. His mother cracked a concerned smile and started to say something but thought better of it and in the end only added "Mmm Hm. What your father said".

The boy sighed as he was basically carried into the house and sat down on the living room couch. He looked down at his leg, finally free of the cast with mixed feelings. On the one hand he was very pleased to see the offending thing gone but his foot felt weak, looked sickly and smelled the part as well. He hadn't even been able to convince his parents to bring his other shoe to the doctors so he sat in one sock and the other foot bare.

His father returned from the car, carrying his crutches and his book bag, from school, beside him. He eyed the crutches and almost said to not bother with them but he knew better. The hard part was over, he had healed. Now he just had to get his foot and leg used to moving again and get the strength back in it. As if on cue, his father said "Young man, starting tomorrow, after school and your mother's tutoring, you will begin rehabilitation exercises. I have several fine balms and herb rubs that will numb the area out" Mr Kobayashi nodded solemnly, to himself as much as his son and headed off to the dojo adjoining the house to get things ready and see if any of his other students needed help.

Yes, he actually had other students. This wasn't his main dojo, just the one he used for private work outs and small groups. The karate club from Kenji's school, that had to stop practicing and give up their room when their president got his foot run over by a car had been invited to move things here and they were ecstatic. At least until they realized, much to their horror that the tough training they had endured under Kenji was merely inspired by and watered down from his fathers. It angered him that his son would dare to teach a lesser form of his dojo's karate, even if it was just for an after school club. Kenji tried to tell his father they hadn't lived the life of discipline and couldn't take extreme training and his father merely told him he would change that.

A week later half the members had left and the other half were struggling but better off for it, they hoped. In the months that Kenji had been hurt, the club members had finally diminished to only three but they were amazing, if they did say so themselves. Of course if they dared to say so themselves, they had to do so many laps and push-ups they regretted it.

School would be getting out soon and the master hoped to pick up some new students. Paying ones would be nice, but he always wound up making deals or adding in a couple students as favors or charity cases. Really he just wanted them to learn and pass on his legacy, and he wasn't about to be one of those stuck-up teachers that charged huge fees and refused to help anyone otherwise.

Kenji already had an idea how things were going to go, it was pretty much the same every year, and he got put under the magnifying glass like no other student. After all, he was the master's son and was going to inherit the dojo and the Kobayashi-do karate his father taught. If he wanted to or not, it seemed.

The boy flexed his toes a little, experimenting with the alien feeling of them being tingly, sore and clammy. The doctor told him the muscles were just unused and would all regain their strength with slow and gentle work. If he kept to it he could even look forward to practicing karate again within a month or two. Heh, silly doctor didn't know much about Mr Kobayashi, it seemed. He planned on having Kenji performing flying kicks and backflips in a month or two. For his part, the boy was too weary of the whole situation and the tests coming up and the thought of loosing his friends to argue.

As his mother worked away on dinner, humming her version of some old Electopian song, Kenji glanced down at the screen of his PET and cracked a smile at Musou. "You'll be practicing again in no time, Sensei" the navi said. The boy nodded and added "Just wait Musou, Gin is letting me borrow one of his 'special' cameras, for modeling".

The confused navi blinked and said "Er.. I don't understand.. special camera? Modeling? What does that have to do with.. Well, anything?"

Kenji grinned and gave his ankle an experimental turn or two. He felt odd little pains and could swear he heard it almost.. Squeak. Or maybe it just felt like it did. Interesting. Looking back to the PET, he said "Yeah, they have these cameras that people can focus on stuff in the real world and it projects a 3D image in full of it in the net space. It's handy for art, or using it as a guide to build pretty much anything or even.. Martial arts lessons firsthand"

The navi blinked again. All he could say was "What?"

Kenji snickers at the dumbfound expression the navi wore and said "You will see. We won't be able to interact or anything, though I've heard of stuff like that existing somewhere in the world. But you will be able to see my whole body, in 3D, sized properly and follow my movements. I might even be able to whip up a bit of code in the PC's dojo program to light up spots on our bodies if we connect with each other".

Musou blinked. Again. But said "Uh. Sensei, it's not that I'm ungrateful, and I'm sure your all fired up to be practicing again but.. Is it even fair to try and spar against me? I've been training under your father too and I'm a navi, built for battle. I'm stronger and faster then you could ever be. Er, not to mention that I can channel energy and shoot stuff. Kinda hard to do that in the real world".

Kenji snorted and said "I'll give you that I am a bit out of shape but I've only been sitting on my butt, doing minor exercise for the last six months. I've been training under the guy who has taught you for a couple months now for around nine years" he thought for a moment, counting in his head, thinking as far back as he could. "Um yeah nine sounds right. I couldn't train in anything when I was one and Mother wouldn't let him near me with that stuff till I was at least two. And I've been in his hands ever since. I knew my first katas before I could even write all my hirigana. I didn't want to go to school because it meant less time for training".

Musou squinted, trying to imagine it all, still not really buying it but willing to give his operator the benifit of the doubt. "Alright, alright fine. But don't expect me to go easy on you just because your recovering. You've put me through a lot of pain and exhaustion and I look forward to returning the favor" He grinned to Kenji and the boy laughed. Some people would be shocked at such a statement or angry but he just said "Good. I wouldn't have it any other way".

Mr Kobayashi headed back inside, a bead of sweat on his face along with a grin and Kenji just knew someone was in terrible shape in the backyard dojo.. He automatically reached for his crutches to stand and narrowed his eyes for a moment, looking at his foot. He stood, letting little amounts of pressure on the limb at the crutches supported most of his weight and decided to just stick with them for now. He made his way over to the table and sat to a steaming plate of spicy curry with tofu and Half a bean bun for desert. Grinning, he grabbed his chopsticks and with a bow of his head, clap of his hands and a solem "Itadakimasu", he was off.
The following week...

The eleven year old martial artist turned the corner of his family's small, home dojo. He slowed and bent over, resting his hands on his knees and trying to catch his breath. Sweat flowed down his brow, soaking through the headband he gladly put back on now that school was out. He coughed a couple times, trying to regain his composure. Man, he hadn't realized he was this out of shape.

Before the accident, he would have been able to jog half the day but he could barely move after half-jogging, half-limping some number of laps. He lost count eventually and his father had only told him to run until he couldn't anymore, apparently for back-talking the Master. Apparently a spark of his old rebellious self peeked out from all his interactions with Musou in the past six months.

Speaking of the navi, Mr Kobayashi held the PET in his firm hand, barking out commands and techniques back to back and criticizing the navi's shortcomings that came frequently after he lost his composure to the treatment. "Keep going! And no back-talk, I know you don't need sleep Musou", the Master shouted. The navi took a moment in the middle of his form, assuming a wide legged stance and holding his hands, index fingers up and thumbs out, the rest of his fingers clenched into a fist. He focused his energy and his breath, trying to pull in all the unease and chaos that he had let in when he lost his cool to the string of orders. Mr Kobayashi quietly watched, as this was also part of the training. Knowing ones' limits and when to step back and start anew was a valuable lesson.

The navi's body began to glow as golden chi flowed across him, leaping almost like living electricity. It focused from his legs, his shoulders, his head, everywhere to his extended hands. It built between them and as he pushed away from his body and exhaled, the excess flew away from him, scattering around the datascape of the PET. Finally calming himself and gaining his focus back, the navi began the last form from it's start, his motions much more crisp and precise. The old Master just grunted, something Kenji and Musou knew to mean approval in this situation.

Kenji rounded the corner and headed into the dojo, his stride broken and difficult by the difference of muscle strength and tenderness from his now-cast-less foot. Mr Kobayashi gave his son a sharp look as the boy entered the room, discarded his training shoes carefully into a wooden shoe holder, and bowed at the edge of the place the stone entryway and wooden floor began. He made his way around the side of the training area and dropped into sit-up position, immediately resuming his work out as he tucked his legs up and began a series of crunches.

Several moments later, the Master called out for one of the karate club students to prepare to spar. Though the club had let out, these children were still valuable students and club mates of his sons and they deserved to learn as long as they wanted to. Sooner or later though, he would insist, more and more firmly that they sign up for and attend his actual dojo, downtown.

The boy approached the large tatami mat in the center of the room and stood, toes on one of the stripe of tape that marked his spot. He made the final adjustments on his gear, making sure the padded protectors on his head, chest, forearms and shins was tight and good to go. Flaps from the forearm and shin protectors protruded to keep the backs of his hands and the tops of his feet safe, respectively.

Mr Kobayashi barked out "Kenji. Center ring now. And begin" The boy rose as quickly as he could manage and hobbled quickly over to the large mat and his own line of tape. He dropped his hands to his sides, gazed at his opponent and paused only a moment, for the two to bow. He snapped suddenly into a fighting stance, left foot forward and hands raised in open palms. The other boy recognized the stance and switched to counter with his right foot forward. While he was raising his hands, Kenji stepped forward, not exactly light on his feet and he was aware of it. In fact, he was telegraphing it to the other boy.

Everyone knew he was recovering and his right foot was tender and the other boy, mostly due to how the old Master taught his style, immediately went for it with a low snap kick. Aware of his weakness and not nearly as helpless as he would appear, Kenji stooped down in the blink of an eye, dropping to his left knee and catching the kick as what was his rear-positioned hand now rose and gripped the boy's ankle. The boy had been expecting some kind of reaction but not this and his hands could only fly out to his sides to try and maintain balance as Kenji gripped won hard enough, even for him to feel it through his padding and yanked as he turned.

Kenji put his whole body weight behind the maneuver as he pushed off with his rear foot and his left knee, while he held on tight to the boy's foot. The result was a tuck and roll, forward and to his right, which whipped the boy down on to the mat hard enough to knock the wind from his lungs. His hands clapped down hard a moment later as he tried to break the fall he sensed too late. As Kenji's motion continued, however and he finished his somersault, the other boy had been flipped and his leg was drawn almost to the point of hyper-extension as he splayed out awkwardly.

It had all happened in the span of a second or two and all the boy could get out of his mouth was a "Gahh", as Kenji had spun his leg completely and the boy's body had only flipped halfway, resulting in a very painful lock. Kenji moved to deepen his kneel again, to apply more pressure but the other boy had already had enough and found himself long enough to slap the mat quickly and rapidly, tapping out. Instead of twisting further, as Kenji was in the process of doing, he simply let go and dropped the boy's foot as he stood again, stepping away from him in a fluid motion.

He wobbled for a moment to secure his own footing and then reached down and helped his friend up, who was now also limping, though his foot's tenderness would wear off in a little while, he hoped. They bowed to each other again, and reached out to clasp forearms in a sort of handshake. "Good match" Kenji said, but the boy in full padding just gave a pained chuckle and said "Don't you ever go easy, Sensei?"

Kenji shook his head quickly as Mr Kobayashi grunted his approval. The boys both turned to the Master and bowed to him. He said in his gruff voice "That's enough for today. Meditate, wash up and apply balm to-" he pointed to Kenji's friend's freshly tender ankle "Sore spots". The boys were joined by a girl from Kenji's karate club, a real tomboy but she was only ten so nobody really said anything. All three bowed again and said "Domo arigato gozaimasu, Sensei", before breaking formality to take casual seated positions near each other.

The girl sat on her knees while the boys with tender feet sat cross-legged. The whispered to the boy that Kenji briefly threw "Took that fall like a champ, Sempai". He smirked to her before they all closed their eyes, sat up strait and began deep breathing exercises to calm themselves and slow their heart rates. In through the nose.. Hold it.. Out through the mouth.. Calm, deep.

Kenji rested his hands in his lap, one in a loose fist and the other a palm over top of it. He preferred the posture because it served to remind him always of peace over war. The other boy sat with his hands on his knees, palms up and finger and thumbs touching like he had seen on a movie. He found it surprisingly calming because it helped remind him it was time to relax and calm down, like some kind of ritual. And speaking of ritual, the girl had apparently either read too much manga or studied some qi-gong and kuji-in on the side.

She had her hands folded together in the Pyo seal, meant to focus the mind for energy direction. Her hands were folded together, facing outward in front of her chest. He pinky fingers were extended and pointed at a downward angle while her inxed fingers were extended and pointed at an upward angle. The effect was similar to the 'horns of the beast' gesture, but both hands were in on it and the fingers that wern't the 'horns' were interwoven between hands.

My Kobayashi certainly had his own karate style and tradition to uphold but he had long ago realized the wisdom that flexibility is the path to true power. If his students weren't black belts, his just showed the the basics and drilled them into them to the point they were perfectionists. At that point they were shown all the forms and techniques they wanted to learn, weapon-wielding styles included. They were free to mix in anything they wanted, be it qu-gong, judo, taekwondo, even ninjutsu. Anything they could bring to the dojo and wield competently not only helped them grow and develop their own style but also trained the other students, and the Master, to recognize and counter any number of techniques.

A lot of his peers turned their noses up at Kobayashi-Do Karate for what they imagined was turning it's back on tradition but he had won enough tournaments and survived enough street fights in his younger, hot-blooded years, to prove his point.


Kenji slumped into his computer chair and leaned forward just long enough to to hook his PET up to it's charger and the jack-in cable to his PC. He looked at the screen and groaned as he saw Musou still working through katas. "Hey Musou.. Want a change of pace? Something to throw around and hit maybe?"

Musou completed the form he was in the middle of and returned to his ready position before calming himself and bowing to the front wall of the dojo in his PET. He bowed to a black and white portrait of Mr Kobayashi, then turned and bowed to collection of flags in the corner, signifying Electopia, ACDC Town, and Kobayashi-Do. Kenji waited patiently, although to be honest he would rather just head to his bed and fall asleep.

He had already taken his admission exams and still probably had a few more days before their results came to his house. Meanwhile, he had finally installed the upgrades for Musou, who said he had a much easier time now feeling everything's energy and data flow. Gee, another case of 'throw money at the navi and he instantly gets noticeable results'. It was like steroids or something. So yeah Kenji was a little bitter. Just a little.

In a swirl of light and energy, Musou appeared in the datascape of Kenji's PC. He glanced around as his senses adjusted and waved at a couple Mr Progs. They hopped and chirped a "Hellooo Musou", before going back to work loading up the dojo program.

Everything swirled and shifted for several moments around the navi before setteling down into the dojo he liked much more. Sure, he had a dojo in his PET, and one here, and his homepage was a dojo.. But he WAS a martial arts navi after all. He lived for this kind of stuff. Besides, he had the most liberties here, as anything Kenji could cook up using the scripting programs, he could fight, train on or do. He closed his eyes and inhaled the scent of frech pine and clean tatami mat, while he listened to water over roks outside. Eventually a clack sounded as the bamboo cup filled and poured over, then struck one of the rocks on it's way back upright.

Kenji gave a loud yawn and mumbled "Tell ya what Musou.. I'm beat. I'm going to bed. I'll transfer in an interface for you to mess with your own stuff. At least the stuff we have coded already. You've been working out all day, just relax if you want to, buddy"

Musou nodded as Kenji typed in a couple commands and a Mr Prog materialized beside him. It looked like a regular Mr Prog except it wore a white headband with a symbol of a fist atop a rising sun. The Kobayashi-Do icon and his own navi symbol. He raised an eyebrow and said "Interesting.. interface" but it wasn't acknowledged by his operator, who he heard turn the volume on the PC speakers off and click the monitor into sleep mode. "How may I serve you, Sempai?" the Mr Prog asked.

One sweat-bead later, Musou requested 'things to hit' and the Prog responded by calling down several blooks that looked like solid steel. Musou raised an eyebrow as he rubbed one of them to get a feel for the thing. He cracked a grin and gave a bit of a shrug as he charged energy into himself.. Feeling the flow going in.. Once.. twice.. And then with a loud "Keyaaahh!" he struck the block solidly, which showed visible damage. Not only did he have that old break effect added to his hits but now Kenji had gotten him a PowerUP for his charge. He hadn't actually hit anything in so long, since it seemed like a much better idea to use chips or his special moves.. He almost missed it.

And the night went on, with Musou relaxing.. By punching steel blocks and breaking rocks. Gleefully. Yeah, even he knew he wasn't quite right in the head, but he loved it anyway. He was actually pretty normal, for a navi. *rimshot* Normal type navi. Get it?