After everyone’s initial surprise calmed down, Mike called for a meeting.
He was acting like the leader, but he didn’t think it was necessary to be a dictator. Everyone’s opinions mattered. During the action was the only time he wanted absolute control.
“I think we should play it safe,” Trisha was the first to speak.
Nikki obviously didn’t agree, “Why? The military is finally here, we should let them know we’re here, so they can start protecting us. We should tell them about the others in your group too” she added the last while looking at Mike.
Mike didn’t say anything. Not committing to either side, he let them argue it out.
“That’s all well and good for you. You’re a cop. They’ll probably deputize you and put you in charge of something. But what about us?” Trisha’s voice was calm, but forceful.
Jessica sensing Mike wasn’t going to step in looked down at Emma and asked, “What do you think?”
Emma thought for a long moment. She cocked her head to the side, a single finger on her chin, making her look younger than her years.
“In the movies, the army is always secretly another bad guy.”
Nikki rolled her eyes.
“You can’t use movies to judge real life. Those movies are made by people who disagree politically with military spending and things like that. They use their movies as a chance to get their opinions out there and influence people discreetly.”
“Emma has a point. I mean not just the military but other people in general tend to be biggest evils in zombie movies and tv shows.” Trisha said, ignoring Nikki’s point, causing her to snort derisively, “I’m not saying movies are real or anything, ” she added in answer to Nikki’s snort, “all I’m saying is that we can’t be too careful. We don’t even know that these guys are military. It is possible they stole those trucks.”
Mike grunted at that, making eye contact with Jessica he raised an eyebrow.
She understood his meaning and gave her honest opinion.
“I say better safe than sorry. We shouldn’t all go down there. Some of us should stay behind, just in case things aren’t what we want them to be. It’ll be too late to regret coming out in the open after they kill us all for our credits.”
Mike grunted again, in agreement this time.
Yawning lightly he stretched as the four women watched him. Nikki in particular seemed ready to pounce at him by the time he finally spoke.
“Three of the four of you want to be careful here. I say that’s sound advice. So we’ll split up. I’ll take Nikki down with me. Jessica you’re in charge of the second group.”
Looking into Jessica’s eyes he added, “You make the decisions. Either continue to your parents or head back to base. You have complete autonomy.”
“I don’t think they’ll just let us leave after they know who we are, so I don’t expect to be able to meet up with you guys again until we know for sure they can be trusted. I have no idea how long that will take.”
Pausing for a moment he sighed, as if he wasn’t quite sure he wanted to say everything he had to say, but after a moment he continued.
“If they can’t be trusted, I’ll try to neutralize the threat before heading back to base. I won’t try to follow you to your parents house. I don’t know the way. It makes more sense to meet somewhere we both know. No sense in me getting lost in the city looking for you guys.”
Nikki looked like she wanted to protest, but she didn’t. Likely because regardless of the group’s plans, she was getting to go where she wanted to go.
After a couple of minutes talking one on one with Jessica, going over her options and wishing her good luck, Mike grabbed his gear and motioning to Nikki he said, “Let’s go.”
As they walked out into the hall, Mike looked back over his shoulder and said, “If these guys are up to no good, they may send someone to search where we stayed the night. They’ll want to know if we’re on the level. If they find you guys here, they’ll realize we didn’t trust them. I don’t know how that would play out. It makes more sense for you guys to head out too, or at least hide somewhere else nearby.”
Jessica agreed with a nod. Mike never stopped walking.
On the way down the stairs Mike had time to think about the possibility of the army guys being evil. He honestly didn’t think it was likely, in the movies the army guys that went bad had generally been in the shit for a long time before they snapped.
The apocalypse had only been a couple of days long so far.
Thinking about it worried him anyway.
He was stronger and faster than ever, but basically untrained in fighting. A smaller, weaker opponent with real training and experience would probably pick him apart. Mike didn’t like that thought.
Coming out on the ground floor of the hotel, into the lobby, Mike called out to Nikki to hold up. A short search later and he found the employee break room.
Against the back wall was a soda can vending machine.
“I just need a minute. I want to buy a couple martial arts.”
“Why?” Nikki said, making clear her stance on the military being the good guys once again.
Mike just shrugged. Then after a moments pause, as he stepped over the circle and up to the vending machine’s screen he answered, “Because it I don’t and I end up needing one, it’ll be too late.”
Nikki sighed. This time it had the air of resignation and possibly even agreement.
Mike didn’t take long to find what he was looking for; he’d already browsed the section before.
He wasn’t looking at skills, but styles. Styles were cheaper than skills, only a hundred credits a piece. Mike wasn’t sure why exactly, but he scanned the list intending to find out.
The list was expansive, in less than a minute he’d found every fighting style he’d ever heard of, including a few he knew to be fictional, coming from comics or movies. He ignored them all for the moment in favor of Krav Maga.
It was a brutal, efficient fighting style designed for practicality. It was a modern martial art used by military and law enforcement and would be the perfect type of fighting style to know if the soldiers turned on him.
The instant he confirmed the purchase he felt the beginnings of a headache. It was mild and only last a few moments before passing. In its wake he found he knew he basic movements of Krav Maga like he’d been trained in it since birth.
Taking a deep breath he began to move through them in slow motion. Instantly he recognized the reasoning behind the lower price in a style versus a skill. He knew the moves in his mind, but his body had never made the motions before. There was no muscle memory behind it. He would have to think to use it, not react instinctively like a trained fighter.
They were cheaper than skills because of the time investment involved in making them one’s own.
Mike smiled, he had a loophole for that.
Even he couldn’t train his muscles to follow the movements instinctively over night. But he had [mediation]. One of its uses, aside from cultivating, was the ability to fight battles in the mind. It was intended to allow him to refight an opponent he’d fought before, or to face a stronger opponent he’d seen fight to develop a strategy for beating them.
In a single night he could fight ten thousand battles.
It would mean putting his cultivation on hold for a night or two, but he could easily make a half dozen or more styles “his own” in a very short amount of time. His muscles wouldn’t react, but his mind would be so used to fighting within the styles that it would.
His cultivation could handle the wait as well. He only had one move that utilized Qi at the moment, his breeze step. With real martial ability it would skyrocket in effectiveness reducing the Qi needed to put it to good use, making it an efficient use of time.
Rechecking his remaining credits, Mike’s smile widened.
He knew he was about to go crazy. He also knew that none of what he was buying would do him any good for at least a day, possibly longer if the meditation was less effective than he assumed. In the long run though he would benefit greatly from splurging now.
Considering Krav Maga was practical self defense, Mike quickly took Boxing for its punches, Taekwondo for its kicks, and Combat Sambo for its throws and holds. He thought for a minute longer and added Muay Thai to the list for its elbows and knees.
Unarmed combat handled, he was down to three hundred and eighty credits.
That was enough for three more styles. This time he’d cover armed combat styles.
Another quick scan of the list and Mike found northwest Indian Shastara Vidiyā, Indonesian Pencak Silat, and Korean Sib Pal Ki.
He considered both Japanese styles of Aikido and Kendo. Aikido was focused on unarmed combat with the staff, sword and knife as its weapon subfocuses. And Kendo was all about the Japanese sword.
Sib Pai Ki covered the same areas and more. Pencak Silat, and Shastara Vidiyā both gave him several different types of weapons, including ones unique to the arts themselves. Taking all three he felt he covered as many bases as he possibly could.
Unfortunately there was no western weapon style he recognized by name. Even as something of a martial arts buff, Mike had no idea what the medieval Germans called their great sword fighting styles or the vikings called their ax movements. Eastern martial arts would have to cover him.
Finally satisfied Mike left the circle.
Seeing Nikki staring at him expectantly he asked, “What?”
“You’re not going to tell me what you bought?”
For a moment Mike was embarrassed, thinking he was about to have to admit to buying eight different martial arts styles when two would probably have been enough. Then a thought hit him.
Why did he have to tell her anything specific?
This was the new world, even in the old one not saying admitting to something embarrassing was perfectly fine. How much more true was that now when secrets might just keep him alive?
“I learned some martial arts, like I said I would. Come on, let’s get going.” Mike answered, brushing past her on his way out of the break room..
He was satisfied with his answer. It had the benefit of being both honest and unembarrassing. Nikki it seemed was not, if her annoyed huff was any indication.
Mike wondered how she’d react if he told her she was less mature than he’d thought when he first met her. After a moment’s thought, he decided it was safer not to ask.
Ads are not happening. See last post if you wanted more information on that. This post is brought to you by the donations of Jay H. Thanks to Jay, I almost have all the money I need to pay for the site, and I didn’t even need to sell a kidney. (*KCDS’s note : The Steve has his own site as well. HERE)
This chapter is long, but not much happens. I could probably have done it shorter and with less rambling if I had more time. I figured you guys would be annoyed if I withheld it though, so here you go.
Oh and one last thought, thinking about money so much the last week, one idea keeps popping up in my mind. Sponsored chapters. We’re only talking one or two chapters extra a week, max. Give your opinion, Yes or No, in the comments below.
Author : The Steve