The Kali Test: The Third Phase

Just like yesterday there won’t be much for preamble; were going to get right into the action.  And this one is going to be a little different than the first two phases, because anything goes as far as my kids are concerned.

And as for going to see, that may be true for the zombies as well:

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

He stepped away from the mess he had created and cast a glance at Annie as Ramona’s voice boomed out again. “Third Phase: all attacks allowed.”

As is happened the last two times the homunculi crossed the white line at the same time, but rather than run at them this time all six seem to mill about as if considering their options. Kerry wondered if they were trying to run out the clock and press them for time: he knew Relax pretty well and figured there was perhaps a little more than a minute until the end of the song, so the possibility existed that these were programmed to put a lot of pressure upon Annie and he in the last thirty to forty seconds.

Annie was considering another possibility, however. In the previous two phases the homunculi attacked three on one and were always defeated. With the likelihood that the test was winding down if there was any possibility of them failing the test, it would occur now. And the best way for that to happen was—

Five of the pseudo-zombies broke for Annie while the remaining one ran at Kerry.

 

Besides the fact these homunculus are fast, this is the first indication we get that they could be working together, which means it’s likely they’re something more than just simple homunculus.  And they’ve decided to going to gang up on Annie, because if they can take her out the kids fail the test.

The only problem with this plan is they have to take out Annie…

 

It didn’t take a genius to figure out what could happen—and Kerry certainly didn’t consider himself a genius. While Annie could handle herself, there was always the possibility that in a five-on-one battle one of the homunculi could get lucky and bite Annie, which would knock her out of the test and cause them to fail. At this point their odds of winning were far better if they worked together…

Kerry decided not to mess around. As soon as his attacker was close enough he sidestepped the attack and pushed hard on the homunculus’ back, driving it toward the safety barrier a few meters behind him. The creature hit it hard and was momentarily disoriented, but before it could determine the boy’s location Kerry threw a fireball and engulfed it, then follow that up with a Air Hammer that slammed it back into the safety enchantment once again. He figured between the damage it had taken from the combined attacks it was either out of commission or disoriented enough that it would be unable to continue.

He sprinted toward Annie.

Annie was prepared for the multiple attacks heading her way. She positioned herself near line of shadow and immediately cut a shadow ribbon long enough to be used as a whip. She twirled it around her head and encircled the neck of the first homunculus to approach her. With it firmly in position she gave the shadow whip a hard jerk. Blood sprayed everywhere as the shadow ribbon sliced into the zombie’s neck as it stumbled forward beyond Annie. She whipped her left arm around and blocked a grab from a second homunculus before slamming it in the chest as hard as she could with a flat palm strike that she felt crack its sternum. She swept it aside with her right arm as she blocked an attack from another homunculus with her left.

 

Keep in mind Kerry’s only a few meters from Annie so for him to sprinted over to her takes a matter of three or four seconds seconds.  And Annie, as well as Kerry, are actually moving about a bit trying to avoid attacks.  It seems like their standing in one place, but as was indicated in the second phase, Annie was having to adjust the grip on her sword because of all the blood that was coming off of the different attacks, and this would lead one to believe that she’s moving about as she setting up for strikes.

But the truth is is hand-to-hand stuff goes quickly and can be over in a matter of seconds.  And in that last paragraph above we got to see Annie perform the moves she did in the trailer I wrote for this novel–said moves including blood squirting from the neck and broken bones.  Yes, Annie is a vicious little girl and no one should trifle with her.  Then again, Kerry through a homunculus at the safety enchantment and inflamed it with a fireball–and if you’re paying attention, that means he did both in the direction of the students, as they are standing directly behind the safety enchantment. I hope they had a good show.

So let’s wrap this sucker up–

 

Kerry caught one of Annie’s homunculus from behind and got his left arm around its neck, then planted himself and forced it to the floor with a cross body throw. He stomped its left knee, breaking it, then turned to the fake zombie on his left and threw a right fist/left palm smash/right elbow smash into its right eye socket and skull, staggering it badly. He stomped down on the right ankle, smashing it, and threw it on top of the last homunculus he’d disabled.

Out of the corner of her eye Annie saw the second homunculus she repelled beginning to recover, which meant she didn’t have much time to deal with the third one. She drew back her right arm and thrust it forward, extending her index and middle fingers. She and drove them as hard as she could into the homunculus’ eyes, hoping she’d pierced the fore brain. The creature staggered away, damaged and unable to see, giving Annie time to craft Exsanguination and toss it at the second zombie. It bled out explosively and Annie managed to catch two sprays in the face and chest before it went down.

Seeing that Annie had her situation under control Kerry did a quick sweep of the room. The burning homunculus was still on its feet and staggering in his direction. He fired a couple of Air Hammers at the two on the ground at his feet, killing them, then crafted an Air Hammer using dark energy and fired it off at the burning zombie. The creature came apart when the sorcery attack hit, throwing a half dozen pieces in various directions. He turned around in time to see Annie kick her last homunculus to its knees, come up from behind, and snapped its neck with a head twist.

Covered in blood and winded, they were both catching their breath when fifteen seconds later music stopped and silence fell upon the test surface.

 

So there you have it: exploding burning zombies and Annie snapping some poor homunculus’ neck by hand.  Neither of these kids are playin’ and they finished their tests successfully just in the nick of time.

Which means everything following is going to be nice and sweet, yeah?

Ummm…

The Kali Test: The Second Phase

So here we are, back for the second phase of Annie’s and Kerry’s Kali Test.  As the second phase is meant to be fought with weapons, that’s exactly what were going to get: an all-out weapons bash.

There’s no set up here–we just get straight to the action:

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

He had just hopped back up onto his feet when Ramona’s voice rang out just loud enough to be heard over the music. “Second Phase: weapons allowed.”

As the homunculi cross the white line and broke into a run Annie extended her right arm and levitated a weapon from the weapons rack four meters away. Normal levitation of this nature usually took anywhere from five to ten seconds, but Kerry and she had spent several months practicing fast levitation crafting. Needing to give most everything a geekish label, Kerry called this “Force Grabbing”, a phrase Annie actually found somewhat amusing.

A kampilan, a ninety centimeter Filipino sword with a spike tip at the end of the blade and a bifurcated wooden hilt, flew out of the weapons rack. A second later Annie wrapped her right hand around the hilt and deftly spun to her right. She whipped her head around and selected her target as her body continued turning, bringing the kampilan around. The long sword caught the first homunculus in the neck and decapitated it cleanly, blood fountaining into the air as the body skidded off to Annie’s right while the head continued flying forward. She twisted the kampilan around in her hand before bringing it back and down in a vicious downward slash across the face and torso of the second homunculus.

Kerry also did a Force Grab, but his weapon of choice was the traditional baston, a pair of seventy centimeter long rattan fighting sticks. Kerry struck his first homunculus several times in the head and shoulders before kicking it aside and turning on the second one. After quickly beating it upon the neck and torso he turned and smashed the third homunculus three times across the skull and face before smashing it and the second attacker several times against the sides of their heads, driving them back while cracking their skulls. He spun and moved to his right to attack the first homunculus with a series of vicious blows to the face, shoulders, and skull which drove it to its knees. He spun the bastons about in his hands and drove them hard into the homunculus’ damaged skull, crushing it and rendering the zombie dead.

Annie was busy dispatching her last two opponents. She’d already slashed one homunculus severely and had severed the right arm from the second. She was more cognizant of her footing now as the floor was becoming slippery with blood, and she’d found it necessary to adjust her grip twice due to blood sprays on the hilt of her kampilan. She decided it was time to end her opponents quickly. She brought the kampilan around in a cross body slash, decapitating her second homunculus, then swung the sword above her head and cleaved the skull of her last attacker. Leaving the kampilan in place she used a vicious Air Hammer to push both bodies out of the way in preparation for the last phase.

Kerry summoned two weapons as he faced his remaining attackers. This time his weapons were karambits, the dangerous curved knife found throughout Southeast Asia. Holding each one in traditional fashion with the top of the held by his thumbs in the curve of the blade facing him, he went after the first homunculus with a Redonda attack, slashing the creature across the face and neck in a continuous upward circular motion. He went at the second zombie using the same attack and after nearly disemboweling it and the other, he spun both karambits around so the blade tips faced his body, then drove his left one through one homunculus’ left eye while sticking the right one through the skull of the other zombie, killing them both.

He stepped away from the mess he had created and cast a glance at Annie as Ramona’s voice boomed out again. “Third Phase: all attacks allowed.”

 

As you may have gathered from reading the short excerpt, my kids love to get bloody.  And when it comes to their weapons, they don’t hold back.  One of the interesting things about Kali martial arts is that you learn weapons first and hand-to-hand second.  Kali is primarily a weapons based fighting form and the use all sorts of weapons, including improvised weapons like scarves, chains, ballpoint pens, anything that can be used to inflict damage and possibly even kill another person.  Most of the hand-to-hand moves learn later are nothing more than weapons forms done without weapons.  Kali relies primarily on muscle memory, so once you learn a particular form with a weapon, you can do the same thing with the life hand.

Now, let’s take a look at the weapons…

Annie’s weapon of choice is the kampilan, a traditional sword found in the Philippines.  This sword has been around for a long time and was the weapon used to kill Ferdinand Magellan when the locals decided to kick his ass out of the Philippines back in the early 1500s.  And from what little research I was able to do, it appears this was also the weapon of choice of Princess Urduja, a legendary warrior princess of the Philippines from the fourteenth century.  So it appears that Annie is in good company, weapons wise.

The kampilan.

 

Kerry went the simple, direct route.  He went with two extremely traditional weapons found in the Philippines, but are nonetheless just as deadly as Annie’s sword.  The first is the baston, a ratton fighting stick that when used properly can disable and even kill another person. How is that possible?  Because when used properly, someone wielding a baston is actually wielding two and their hitting their opponent may be a couple hundred times in a minute.  That’s gonna leave a mark.

Bastons:

 

And then there’s the karambit, the curved knife that you’ve likely seen used several times in movies.  This thing is razor-sharp and can take out a person without a problem–particularly if the person wielding the knife knows what they’re doing. And as we’ve seen, Kerry appears to know what he’s doing.

Karambit:

 

Now, I put together a short–about five minutes–video showing most of the motions used by my kids.  When I show the karambits, I’m doing my version of a Redonda attack:  Kerry would do it much better.

 

So there you have it: the second phase of the Kali Test over.

And just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse…

The Kali Test: The First Phase

Here it is, the actual test.  And that means there’s about a thousand words in this excerpt, because I need to get the kids all set up and relax before I unleash hell.  Yeah, things are not going to be nice and are going to start to get a little bloody real fast.

So I’m going to excerpt each of the phases of the fight on separate days.  Today you get the first phase, tomorrow you get the second, and instead of getting a video on Saturday morning you get the third along with the aftermath.  Given how much time I’ve spent discussing this in the past, I hope this comes off as being interesting.

Now that all my preliminary talking is done, all that remains is the butt kicking.  Well, with a little more set up first:

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Annie and Kerry moved to the designated start spots and waited. As was the norm when they were engaged in a combat situation, Kerry stood with Annie on his right and she stood with him on her left. This was to accommodate their primary hands and prevent them from accidentally hitting each other with weapons.

While they watched Isis do something on her tablet at the far end of the room Kerry spoke to Annie in a low voice. “I don’t like this. There has to be some sort of catch here.”

Annie kept her eyes locked on the cabinets as they opened and homunculi shuffled out. “Dispatch eighteen in three and a half minutes? That’s far too easy.”

“I agree. By now they know we can do in Self Defense class.” He snorted quietly. “There’s some kind a gimmick goin’ on.”

There was no need for her to ask what Kerry meant by “they”. Given the complexity of the test and the fact that both Helen and Isis were present, either as observers or assistances finalizing preparation, meant the “outside organization” responsible for this test were the Guardians.

But like Kerry she was a bit concerned regarding the requirements. Though they didn’t appear any different than homunculus they’d fought in the past, Annie knew there was something special about these. Three for each of us during a minute long phase? Given the skills we now have, Kerry and I could dispatch nine each in half the time they’re giving us for this test.

Ramona waited until Isis had walked across the test area and was standing alongside Helen and her before she clapped her hands. “The test is about to begin. The safety enchantment will be raised and the music will start momentarily after that. As soon as the homunculi at the far end across the white line, the test begins. Good luck.”

 

When your test subjects are questioning parts of the test are about to take, you know they smell something fishy coming on.  The previous excerpts have revealed, more or less, that it’s possible the Guardians aren’t quite on the level as far as this test is concerned, and now that the kid’s butts are literally on the line they’re starting to feel the same trepidation.

Now they’re about to be sealed up in an area with a bunch of shambling zombies–

 

Annie and Kerry felt silence descend upon the test area as the safety barrier went up. While it was designed to keep out distractions, they knew everyone on the other side could hear everything happening on the test area. Three seconds later the lighting diminished slightly, causing Annie to look up. “They’re going to make a bit more gloomy in here.”

“Can’t make it too easy for us.” Kerry shook his arms more out of nervousness than a need to prepare. “Those all look to be our size, so they gotta give us a bit of a handicap against the zombies.”

“I’m sure that’s the reason for the music. I imagine the going to play it loud enough that’ll make it difficult for us to communicate.” As if on cue the first strands of the song faded in. “And just like that…”

Kerry recognized the song Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood instantly. He turned to Annie. “What the hell?”

“Not one of my songs.” She noticed the homunculi twitch and began moving toward the white line. “Here we go.”

In unison the homunculi took two shambling steps towards the white line before taking a third step over. They pause for a moment as if to orientate themselves—

All six broke into a run.

“Shit.” Kerry skipped nearly a full step to his left. “Rage zombies.”

Spread out.” Annie skipped a step and a half to her right before planting her feet and quickly crafting a spell as she prepared for the attack.

 

Running zombies: you gotta hate that.  And if you are looking for the twist, there it is.  The zombies are fast and maneuverable, and are coming it Annie and Kerry three-on-one.

They’ve got their work cut out for them.

After months of mentioning that I had an idea for scene where Frankie Goes to Hollywood plays while the kids are involved in some activity, here it is.  The song is 3:58 in length, so there’s your four minutes–oh, did I say for?  More like three and a half.  Hey, I’ll even give you the song to listen to while you read through the ass kicking…

And speaking of ass kicking, here it comes:

 

Kerry had less than a second to act, so we decided to take the most direct approach. He waited until the trio of homunculi were nearly upon him before sidestepping to his left and thrusting his right arm straight out in order to close line the nearest attacker. The pseudo-zombie slammed into his forearm and went down as its feet shot out from underneath. Kerry spun with the impact, lessening the damage to his shoulder, then informed a quick Air Hammer in his left hand as he swiped his left arm downward. The Air Hammer caught the homunculus in the mouth and tore the head apart, spraying fake blood and brains everywhere. With one assailant down, he knew he’d have an easier time dispatching the remaining two.

Annie planted her feet and pointed forward. She thrust her elbows outward as she directed a spreading Air Hammer at the middle homunculus and blasted it apart. She stood her ground while the other two zombies were pushed to her left and right, even though she was sprayed with some of the remains of the recently destroyed creature. Keeping in mind her triangle step placement—your feet stand at two points of a triangle and every turn is to the open point—she attacked the homunculus on her right. She arm locked it as the creature began to turn toward her, then punched it hard in the throat, crushing its windpipe, before executing a flat palm smash to the nose, driving bones and cartilage up into the fore brain.

As it went down she moved two steps to her right and spun around to face her third attacker. She swept aside its right arm and shot her forearm up into its jaw, snapping its head back. She swept its left arm aside as she grasped its right and slammed her fist into his shoulder joint, popping the arm out of the socket and throwing the homunculus off-balance and to the ground. She fired Air Hammers at their heads, crushing their skulls and killing them. She looked up and saw six more homunculus waiting to cross the white line—

Kerry found himself being attacked simultaneously by his remaining two homunculus. Delving into paninipa Kerry kicked his first attacker in the calf and swept the back of its knee before arm locking his second attacker and viciously punching it in the throat. He wheeled around and stomped on the throat of the downed homunculus, then turned back to his second attacker and fired a Electrify attack directly into its face, scorching its flesh and exploding its eyes while frying its brain. He pushed it away with a kick then fell to his knees in order to deliver an elbow slam to the forehead of his last remaining opponent, caving in the skull.

He had just hopped back up onto his feet when Ramona’s voice rang out just loud enough to be heard over the music. “Second Phase: weapons allowed.”

 

Let’s talk about a couple of things expressed here in the preceding paragraphs.  Annie is using the triangle method for her feet placement and is just as she says: imagine your feet are in two points of the triangle and no matter how you turn, it’s always towards the empty point.  This way you don’t have sloppy footwork and you keep yourself centered to be able to repel attacks.  It’s one of the things that Kali stresses and Annie knows what she’s doing.

Paninipa is a regional Filipino word meaning kicking, and this comes from a concept found in Panantukan, or Filipino street boxing.  So Kerry got down and dirty on his opponents, which is fine: Kali is all about surviving and right now the kids have to survive–

At least until the next phase…

 

The Kali Test: Surprise Setup

Last night was another thousand word session,  my first back-to-back writings in about a month, and I nearly brought this scene to an end.  Almost, but not quite.  I’ll probably finish it up tonight.

But we start The Kali Test, as I call it, right here and now.  Although I warn you, it’s probably going to be Wednesday before you see the kids kicking ass.  Which means tomorrow are the rules and today–today is the setup…

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

The moment Helena entered Gwydion Manor she noticed something was different—specifically, instead of there being the half dozen or so students who normally took Advanced Self Defense class on Sunday morning, about forty students were standing around looking as if waiting for something to happen. Though she didn’t often come out to watch a self-defense class, she knew the only time these sort of crowds appeared in the Manor was when a judgment trial was about to take place.

And she knew for a fact that nothing that was about to happen in the next fifteen to twenty minutes had anything to do with the judgment trial.

Helena spotted Ramona off to one side of the testing area speaking with a student. She spotted someone else: Isis was here, standing about six meters away an examining something on her tablet display. It wasn’t normal for her to be here as it wasn’t necessary for her to be present during this or any test. Unless, of course, she was here to check out something that was needed for the test, like equipment she may have installed—

The moment she saw Ramona heading in her direction Helena raised her head to gain her attention. The martial arts instructor headed for her directly and greeted her with a slight smile. “Glad to see you made it.”

“Wouldn’t have missed this for the world.” Helena stepped closer to to her fellow instructor and turned so her back was towards the majority of the milling students. “What the hell is going on? Why are all these students here?”

“Oh, this.” Ramona looked around and switched to Esperanto to answer the question. “You can thank Isis for this. Apparently she sent out an email before breakfast inviting students to the Manor to watch a training exercise.” Her left eyebrow raised slowly as she turned her gaze in the direction of the Chief of Security. “It certainly wasn’t my idea.”

Helena was surprised to hear this, as it was unusual, if not out of the ordinary, for Isis to interject herself in daily classwork. The Chief of Security never became involved with the instructor’s classes unless there is a security concern that needed addressing—and even then she herself rarely became involved. Unless…

She pointed in the tall woman’s direction. “What’s she checking on her tablet?”

 

So what better way to kick this test off than to make it a public spectacle, yeah?  It seems like a hit as well, since about a third of the student body has shown to watch Annie and Kerry beat up on the newly created undead, which means no pressure at all.

There’s also something else going on here–

 

Ramona nodded toward the test area. “Look out there; what you see?”

Helena tried to follow Isis’ gaze and immediately notice what was drawing her attention. “Damn, there’s a lot of Spy Eyes in the room.”

“Two dozen.” Ramona crossed her arms as she glanced over at Helena. “I was told last night after the Midnight Madness that one of Isis’ people going to be out here installing them for the test.”

Helena turned back toward Ramona, not caring if any students saw her speaking. “Why the hell would she be out here installing all these Spy Eyes?” Her eyes narrowed slightly. “What the hell’s going on?”

“Additional instructions.” Even though she was speaking in Esperanto Ramona kept her voice low so that the conversation didn’t travel beyond the two women. “When I sent off that acknowledgment the other day, I received additional instructions in return.”

“On?”

“I’m not permitted to tell you until after this test.”

Helena felt her jaw tighten. “What is this shite?”

Ramona held up a hand. “Not only did I get instructions, but Isis received them as well; I only found out about them last night after the Midnight Madness when she and I were walking back to the Instructors Residence.” She held up her tablet. “This morning she gives me additional instructions on how this test is to be conducted: I’ve had about fifteen minutes to review them.” She lowered the tablet to her side and returned to speaking English. “It’s all that damn compartmentalization: they don’t want one group aware of what the others doing, all the way down the line.”

It was impossible for Helena to argue, for she was certain Ramona was correct. She knew the Guardians were far more secretive than any of their other contemporaries in The Foundation, but this sometimes led to the same sort of secrecy taking hold in each of the individual headquarters. And when it came to the Special Operations and Procedures Division, better known as SOP, they were known for sometimes taking secrecy to a new level.

But what bothered Helena the most wasn’t that Ramona and Isis were given separate duties after they were told of the test, it was that someone in San Francisco had decided that it wasn’t necessary for Helena to know about these changes.

She was about to ask Ramona another question when self-defense instructor nodded at something behind Helena. “Here they come.”

 

Spy Eyes are magical little floating cameras that can be thrown up to monitor just about anything–like, say, a flight by A Levels to nearly two miles above sea level.  Here, two dozen are being used to keep track of the test, and that’s…  well, it’s a lot.  Someone doesn’t want to miss a beat.

And now we get an idea of why Ramona probably said, “That’s interesting.”  Someone high up out in San Fran didn’t want Helena to know about changes in the test.  And Isis did the same to Ramona.  That damn compartmentalization the spooks love so much is being used like mad here, and pretty much all the players are feeling the effect.

Now Annie and Kerry are here, so listen up:  the rules are gonna get laid down…