Hello, KFP Message Boards, Rtfacts here with another story which will hopefully turn out a better success than those other half-hearted attempts I've posted before...hope you like it, 'cause it's a New Year's gift
It's a Twisted Kind of Destiny
Mei-Ling had found the amnesiac snow leopard trying to sneak out of the Li-Da Kung Fu Academy after he'd 'accidentally found' around a week's supplies of food rations; she hadn't bothered to ask questions.
The fight hadn't been easy. She had to admit, the fellow feline was pretty good. But in the end, she'd gained the upper hand, or paw, whatever you want to call it, in the heat of the battle and now he was pinned to the floor, face rubbing against snow and yellow eyes slitted. Mei-Ling clutched both his paws in hers and twisted his arms in a painful lock, then she bent over and smirked, "Had enough yet, big guy?"
"Yeah, I'm done." He groaned, voice muffled. Mei-Ling stood and pulled the thief up with her while he shook his head and tried to dust himself off. The mountain cat had sized him up earlier, noticing the shady, tattered cloak he had on and the hood that didn't do much to cover up his face. Mr. Leopard was just a few inches taller than her, and Mei-Ling couldn't tell if he was bulky or well-built because of the brown robe he had on covering his entire body.
"You can have your stupid food back," He sighed, tossing over a lumpy cloth bag that Mei-Ling caught without taking her eyes off the big cat. "It wasn't for me, anyway."
They stood there for a while, unsure of what to do. "Who...who are you?" Mei-Ling finally thought to ask. The leopard hesitated.
"They...they call me Hulong." He admitted, but his tone was unsure.
"Are you from around here? Do you train in some other Kung Fu school?"
Hulong grit his teeth. "I'd rather you not ask." He growled, but relented and answered anyway. "Look, I don't live around here, or anywhere. I...travel a lot. So, no, I don't go to any school."
"Well, you're a good fighter."
"Who taught you?"
There was a long pause, and the leopard's dark eyebrow's furrowed. "I...don't know. At least, I don't think I know. I might. I'm..I'm not sure...look, I have to...have to go. Sorry for the misunderstanding."
Mei-Ling watched him walk away, the sack heavy in her paws. "Do you need it?" She asked uncertainly.
Hulong dipped his head, not turning. "Some other's do. They're counting on me to bring something back."
Mei-Ling raised an eyebrow, then walked up and put a reassuring paw on his shoulder. He flinched slightly from the touch, but looked down, which was a mistake.
The mountain cat's caring smile transformed into a snarl and she ripped the cloak of the leopard's shoulders, hood and all. "Tai Lung," she took a step closer to him and balled her hands into ready fists, fur bristling.
"That's what they used to call me," He didn't seem fazed by the intimidating glare and snarl he was recieving. "I don't know if that's who I am anymore."
Mei-Ling ignored the sincerity in his voice. "You're a criminal."
"Maybe I used to be." Tai Lung/Hulong's shoulders dropped nonchalantly. "I can't remember."
Growl ceasing to an abrupt, cut-off stop, Mei-Ling backed away. "I...I can't say I believe you. And I can't let you go free."
She locked her gaze on his authoritatively and demanded, "But you can show me these...other friends of yours."
"You must be Po Ping, the Dragon Warrior," Skylea asked gently. Po shrugged.
"Um, yeah, and as far as I know, err, knew, I was the only...only panda left." He tried to sound nonchalant, but the emotion behind his voice was easy to pick out. He swallowed and looked up from the floorboards. "H-how...?"
"Has the idea ever crossed your mind that maybe others had escaped Lord Shen as well, Master Po?" Skylea implored.
"Uh, well, I tried not to think about that," he answered faintly, "I didn't want to get my hopes up, you know?"
"I understand," she shook her head sadly and then pushed her bangs out of her face. "But you can hope now. A few of our species did survive...we fled to the barren northern part of China, close to Mongolia. Trust me, it was hard. A few friends, allies," at this she stole a glance at Cunzai, "helped us through the difficulties, and we've got a new home, a small little village, unknown and hidden in a paradise among the mountains."
The Dragon Warrior's eyes zoned out into a different world of imaginings, of dreams that he'd thought couldn't of been true.
"At least, it was a paradise," Skylea's mood turned dark, tone sour. "But the pandas are being persecuted again. Our town's leader had a vision recently...that our village would be destroyed once more, and that our only hope was a warrior of black and white...a lone survivor cut off from his people. And that this survivor, this warrior, was...was his son."
They watched Po's face go through a series of different moods until finally he could breathe again. "So...he..he sent you after me?"
"His best fighters," Cunzai affirmed. "The only two in the village who can fight, if you want the truth."
"Well, actually, he just sent me," Skylea butted in, "But Cunzai decided to offer his assistence, which meant I had to drag his sorry hide over half of China behind me. I mean, I can't believe he's even allowed to live in the town--"
Cunzai rolled his eyes, obviously having been through this argument before. "It took us quite a while. We didn't even know if Leader Ares's vision was true, or that Shen had been defeated--we only found that out after having gone through very dangerous, secretive routes to avoid him and then somehow we saw a poster announcing your victory over that evil peacock."
"Why now?" Po blurted out, "Why did my father send after me this late? Why not when I was still a cub?"
"Because he thought Shen had gotten to you first," Skylea grit her teeth in anger, but not towards the fellow panda. "He had no shred of proof that his son was alive, and now he does, and he needs you."
Silver-blue. Po decided that's what color they were. A perfect blend of both hues. Like ice over an azure lake.
Slowly he pulled himself out of her intense stare and looked at Master Shifu, who was speaking. "So, the pandas are in danger again?"
"Yes," informed Cunzai, "A weapon-master, a wolf by the name of Pard. We don't know if he wants to finish what Shen started, or exploit the land we have, but he is rising against us, and you, Dragon Warrior, are our only hope."
Po's mind had been made up after the first sentence Skylea had spoken. "I'll do it."
" We'll , do it." Tigress corrected, and the rest grinned and nodded in ready agreement.
Skylea tossed Master Tigress a furtive, criticizing glance, as if discerning any kind of ulterior motive for the feline to accompany them. "It is your Master's choice--"
"I'll stay and look after the valley," Shifu answered without missing a beat. "They will go, if you'll have them."
"We need all the help we can get." Cunzai murmured, but Skylea's attention still seemed uneasily fixated on Tigress.
"We move on tomorrow. I have a friend waiting for us with supplies a few miles from here." She scowled slightly, then bowed once more once they'd followed her out the door to the chilly winter afternoon. Her bitterness disappeared when she saw Po's anxious look, and she smiled reassuringly. "Don't worry, Master Po. We'll get there sooner than you'd think."
"Thanks," He chuckled nervously as the two exited, Cunzai calling out behind his shoulder that they'd be resting in an inn down at the village before following her precariously down the icy steps until they became silhouettes on the glazing red-orange disk of a sun melting below the horizon.
"We better get ready," Viper said excitedly. "I can't wait until tomorrow!"
"Neither can I," Po muttured distantly, turning away from the sunset and to the Student Barracks, and then slowly some of his cheerfulness returned, face breaking out in a grin.
Thanks to Bluewire and Treine (did I get that right?) for commenting...here's the next chapter!!
[Shifu] led his disciples into the simple kitchen and to the mystery that waited them there.
Grey or blue. Maybe silver.
Po couldn't tell if what color her eyes were, which was mainly what his first question was when he saw the person sitting in front of him.
"Po, this is Cunzai and Skylea." Shifu gestured to first the male black panther and then to the female panda.
Yes, you read that correctly, though Po couldn't believe he was seeing things right.
For a moment, everyone except Shifu froze and gawked. According to what Po had told them, he was the only surviving bear of his kind; so why was there another panda sitting there calmly and sipping tea like she could of been some kind of ordinary bunny or pig?
Ordinary definitely wasn't the right way to describe her. For one, she was, well, skinny, not as slim as Tigress but not round enough to be pudgy. A curly tuft of black fur covered her right eye, and small pair of silver hoop earrings adorned her ears, ears that were rounder and bigger than Po's. In fact, the only similarity between her and the Dragon Warrior was their fur color and pattern. Even her nose was more delicate.
Strapped to her back were two criss-crossing katanas, and her clothing consisted of a layered silver-and-blue patterned, loose-fitting kimono, and she also had on a pair of black pants on because of the weather. When she stood, she seemed taller than Po at first glance, but in reality she was around two inches shorter.
"Pleasure to meet you all," She said, bowing in due respect though her voice was authorative and yet amiable. "As your Master has already announced, I am Skylea and this is Master Cunzai."
Tigress narrowed her eyes as Master Cunzai stood, then she blinked in surprise. He couldn't be a panther--he was an absolute giant of a big cat, a full head and shoulders taller than Po, with an intimidatingly fit build and strange tattoos on his uncovered arms and back; red fire-breathing dragons on both forearms and some kind of silver bird etched in flames from his shoulders to the middle of his spine. His eyes were a strange mix of apple-green and golden, a rim of brown around his pupils. The white pants and crimson sash he had on were wrinkled and torn and muddied, as if he'd been on a long journey, or maybe a recent fight, though none of the faint scars he had were new.
Tigress suddenly wondered why on earth she was able to notice those tiny kind of details, so instead she concentrated on keeping her expression stoic.
"It's an honor," He said softly, but his voice was strong and unreadable.
"No, he's not a panther, in case any of you judged beforehand, just some kind of freak tiger mutation," Skylea smirked jokingly. Strangely, Cunzai wasn't offended...maybe he was used to her teasing. All he did was exhale out of his nose in hidden frustration.
The South Chinese tigress snapped out of her musings and glanced at Po, who's mouth was in a straight line, green eyes about to pop out in shock.
"Oh-okay, umm," He began, closing his eyes slowly and wringing his paws. "Can...can I have an explanation, uh, please?"
Skylea and Cunzai both shared a sympathetic look. "Of course, though...you might want to sit down." said Cunzai. "It's a...long story."
Haha, thanks for commenting, and I'm glad you thought those parts were funny...Here's the next part.
Tigress hoisted herself up and offered him a paw, which he took. With some pulling (and Monkey's help), she dragged the panda out. He shook the snow from his head, grabbed his threadbare scarf which had fallen to the ground, and wrapped it around his neck once more.
"Thanks," He said to Tigress, who nodded formerly. She rubbed her paws unconsciously, which still stung even though it had been nearly three month's since she'd recieved that cannon blast. Her fur still felt warm from the panicked-sled-hug, and she scowled in light iritation at herself. Po looked away sheepishly.
"Sorry...umm...instinct, uh, kicked in," he offered. Tigress opened her mouth to reply but instead changed it to a small half-hearted smile.
"Don't fret about it," She shrugged, turning to leave.
Suddenly, the smaller gong (not the one that Po had borrowed), sounded loudly in the clearing twice.
"Lunch!!" Po grinned excitedly.
"Not lunch," Po moaned, then brightened. "Three times means...there's a visitor. Ooh, maybe another lost noodle delivery guy!"
"Oh, come ON," Viper giggled as the panda hurried up the slope; or at least he tried to.
The others watched in amusement as he pawed at the vertical cliff, grunting and muttering, pebbles scattering when he hoisted one leg up.
"I don't know if who else wants to climb cliffs, but I'm taking the stairs if anyone's wondering," Crane said.
"Oh, stairs...uh..." Po looked down from his awkward position at the steps, then at the intimidating rock wall. "Stairs are sounding pretty good, yeah, those might...might work, actually."
Tigress rolled her eyes good-naturedly. "Or maybe--this?!"
At the last word she shot out and kicked the cliff with such force it shook. Po gasped and let go of the the vibrating stone, falling to the ground. Well, at least, he was falling until Tigress spin-kicked him up so high he was sent flying over the cliff and rocketing in a fortunately soft pillow of snow up on the ledge.
The feline below raised her eyebrows in satisfaction before pouncing skywards to join him, levitating herself off a foothold and spiraling to the top. She landed nimbly on one foot with much more grace than Po had, needless to say.
"Oh yeah, you get to jump all the way to the palace," Mantis grumbled below, barely visible except as a green dot. The little ants beside him (meaning the other three) sighed and stalked, slithered and knuckle-walked to the stairs.
Po looked up to find Tigress already on all fours and loping away. He shook his head, dusted the snow off his ears and reluctantly broke into a sprint to catch up with her.
"Aren't you in a hurry," He smirked, pumping hard at the frosted ground.
She somersaulted to two feet and kept running, but backwards then stared at him, mouth twitching into an undecided curve that was either a frown or grin. "Is that a challange?"
"I...hate...races!" Po gasped out every word as he dragged himself to a halt, groping at the floor. Tigress stood with an unreadible expression in front of him, arms crossed in a tell-tale sign of smugness.
"You may have mastered inner peace, Dragon Warrior, but stamina seems to lay on a whole different level for you," She joked in a stern voice, helping him upright just as the rest of the Five appeared on the crest of the mountain.
"Oh, look, he made it." Monkey grinned pointedly, holding out one open palm. Mantis glared at him and tossed two gold coins at him in silent, grudging understanding.
Everyone straightened and bowed on impulse out the sound of Master Shifu's gruff voice when he apparated ten feet in front of them seemingly out of nowhere.
Geez, how does he do that? Po thought in the corner of his mind as he and the others echoed a collective, "Master,"
The red panda dug the end of his staff into the snow absent-mindedly, ears flicking, robes and fur ruffled by the wind pricking around them, and his steely blue eyes fixed on the six in front of him. "You must of heard the gong; come inside. We have some very important...guests--that acquire of our attention."
He led his disciples into the simple kitchen and to the mystery that waited them there.
The Five and Po, dressed in winter clothing, were positioned on top of a huge, flat circle of brass, like a giant gong. And they were all arguing.
Below them, the hill sloped down almost dangerously. Rocks were strewn over the snowy expanse, waiting to overturn a sledful of Kung Fu Masters. Up at the top of the hill, the only thing keeping them from riding down to certain doom was Tigress, who had a firm hold on a slim tree trunk.
"It'll be fun!" Po protested, repositioning his hat.
"You said that the last time we pranked Master Shifu!" Monkey spat. "Was it fun? NO!"
"Then you're just afraid?" Po countered smugly. "The bravest warriors in China scared of sledding down a hill?"
"No, Po." Tigress growled, clearly straining to hold the other's weight along with her's and the gong's from sliding down. "We're cautious."
"Same thing. You're all too scared!"
The Five shared a meaningful look. Tigress rolled her eyes, sighed, and let go of the tree trunk.
For a moment, nothing happened.
Then gravity reached out and tipped the makeshift sled over the crest of the hill, and down they went.
Wind ripped past their faces, snow stung their eyes, and they slid down faster and faster, Po whooping loudly, Mantis screaming, Viper huddled in a corner, Crane yelling 'Tell me when it's over', Monkey waving his hands in the air and grinning like a madman, and Tigress crossing her arms and squinting against the wind.
They inched to a sluggish halt...but right over a cliff edge. There the six tilted precariously, trying not to get dizzy as the sheer drop below swam in their vision.
"Are we supposed to stop?" Mantis asked.
"No. Panic!" Po screeched, just as the sled plummeted down. Everything was a blur as they rocketed southwards, bounced onto the snowy ground and bolted down the steep hill faster than the speed of light. Now, everyone was screaming.
"HOW DO YOU STOP THIS THING?" Viper shrieked.
"YOU CAN'T!!" Po shouted back.
"AHHHHH!!!" Everyone screamed in response.
Wide-eyed with terror, they swerved past trees and boulders, digging their claws/wings/pincers/tails on the edge of the gong to keep a hold. Out of fear, Po hugged Tigress close to him, and she pushed him away, only to widen her eyes as the lake zoomed into view and this time they both held onto each other in terror. No one else noticed; they were too busy screaming.
"I'm too young!!!" Mantis wailed.
"I know! Be quiet!" Crane moaned.
They sailed over a snowbank jutting out of the ground and it worked as a ramp, sending the gong flying in the air along with it's passengers, who, from the momentum, were all sent flailing in different directions.
Crane did an awkward sumersault in the air and landed with his beak lodged in snow, Viper coiled herself around a tree by accident. Mantis faceplanted a boulder. Monkey landed with just his tail poking out of the deep snowdrift. Tigress and Po flew through the air, still yelling and unconciously clinging to the other, dropped diagonally to the ground, and slid unceremoniously to a stop an inch in front of the lake, which, though not frozen over, was still cold enough to make them into warrior-sicles. The sled wedged itself into a tree trunk.
The Masters panted and heaved, shaking their heads and popping out of the snow. Their eyes shone with terror and excitement.
Mantis peeled himself off the face of the stone. "That was--"
"AWESOME!" Po exclaimed through a mouthful of dirty snow. "Let's do it again!" He tried to get up, but he had sunk mid-belly into the ground. "Uh, little help?"
Thanks! And actually, Mei Ling isn't a made-up character, she's in 'Secrets of the Furious Five', in Crane's backstory--she helped him become a Master. I hope that helps. Anyway, thanks for commenting, and keep reading; I'll post more soon!
This looks real cool! But do you mind telling me more about Mei Ling? When I first started reading this story, I thought you were talking about Mei Ling from the episode "Shifu's Ex", not a made up Mei Ling. Good start, though!