Chapter 32: Day of Training
Ace walked over towards the clear, grassy patch of ground that Kurt and Jenna were training on. Jake meanwhile, went to go sit down against a boulder underneath a large tree, shading it from the sun. Leera did the same after noticing him lying against the rock; she gave off a gaping yawn - flashing off her set of sharp teeth - before lying down in front of Jake, mimicking his actions before dozing off.
Ace however, was in need of more action. He walked over towards Jenna and Kurt, who were training together. Aster was also standing nearby, watching them and learning a few tricks of his own from the pair.
Kurt was showing Jenna a series of moves with his pair of swords; how to avoid and how to evade various melee attacks associated with the dual-blades and any other type of sword-like weapons. Jenna jolted suddenly during their training, kneeling down backwards to avoid a clear long swipe from one of Kurt’s dual blades.
Ace smirked, having it remind him of when he avoided a clear swipe from Captain Severseas the same way, a few months back.
“Good work there Jenna. Your reflexes are still as quick and strikingly swift as they’ve always been”
”Thank you Kurt. But I think somebody else is eager for a bit of training…”
Jenna stood herself up straight and turned around to look at Ace. She gave off a wink, causing Ace to react with a cheesy grin. He took off his visor and placed them down onto a large stone platform nearby. Kurt looked over at him and Ace gave off a nod in return.
”Hope you’re up for a bit of duelling, Ace… how long has it been since you held a sword?”
”It has been a while, but you shouldn’t go easy on me. For your own safety: as I have already shown with those sword wielding pirates a while back, heh”
Kurt grinned cunningly, before tossing one of his swords to Ace, which he caught with ease in his right palm. He gripped onto it tightly and held it out, readying himself for the duel.
”Don’t let my age fonder you, young one”
Kurt leapt at Ace suddenly with his other sword at hand. Ace had already reacted though, placing his blade above his head, blocking the sudden strike from the markazian’s sword.
Ace shot back a step and swung his sword forward as well, only to be caught in a clash against Kurt’s other sword in a split of a second, surprising Ace quite a lot after the loud clang of the swords echoed out.
Man, he is still quite fast; especially for his age…
Kurt ducked and dashed out to his left, as did Ace to come into contact with Kurt again, clashing his sword and trying in vain to disarm him of it with his much greater strength.
But Kurt was swift. He sidestepped and caused Ace’s sword to slide off along his, eliciting another loud screech of the two blades before he rolled over and up behind Ace. He stood up straight and swayed his blade back at his target once again. Ace was stunned when he felt the backs of his knees take a strong hit and he stumbled over backwards without any warning. He fell flat onto his back with a thud.
Aster shouted randomly. Jenna could be heard chuckling in the distance as well. Ace wasn’t injured, but his ego was hurt a bit.
Kurt stood up with his sword and held it down, pointing it in Ace’s face; a sign of victory, while Ace remained on the ground.
“Looks like you could do with a little more duel-blade practice. But it is a good thing your track pants are made of that tough fibre... and that my swords weren’t in flare-mode, or else we’d need a good few crates of nanotech out here”
Kurt told Ace, looking a bit smug. He offered his hand to Ace to pull himself back onto his feet. Ace still felt a bit embarrassed on the inside, though not as much as he could have been due to the fact that Kurt was the one who raised him as a warrior, after all.
”Well it’s not like I always have a pair of dual-blades with me. But I know that none of you would stand a chance against me when it comes to hand-to-hand combat…”
“Is that so? I’m the one who taught you all of those techniques too, you know”
”Maybe, just maybe I have learned a few of my own since then?”
“Strength isn’t always a top priority when it comes to martial arts …”
Kurt dropped his sword and bounced forwards, suddenly disarming Ace of his sword and sending it flying off several metres from Ace’s hand with a swift kick.
The verpardi couldn’t help but feel impressed with his sudden action. So he tried a kick in return, which was avoided by the markazian with no sweat and used his own foot to hit the side of Ace’s leg - a kind of attempt to make him stumble.
Ace was too quick though and he spun himself round to plant his foot back on the ground, while in turn, swinging his fist in Kurt’s direction. Despite Kurt’s quick movement, he was still struck but avoided most of the blow, reacting with another hard kick behind Ace’s knees with his boot, in a vulnerable spot.
But Ace didn’t fall this time, instead, he back-flipped himself over Kurt without any warning, landing on his hands before flipping himself back into his feet again. Kurt tried to duck but Ace had already delivered a kick to the side of his body, which caused the markazian to lose his footing and fall onto the ground.
Kurt let off a sigh after hearing the blarg's taunt again, but smiled as well at Ace’s effort. He was uninjured, but definitely would be defeated if it were a real physical fight. Ace walked up to Kurt and towered over him, offering his hand to lift him up onto his feet.
”Well in this case, strength does matter” Kurt said, whist shifting his eyes.
”…and skill, heh”
Ace replied, grasping onto Kurt’s hand and lifting him up. He looked over towards Aster, who was still standing by the tree, watching over him and Kurt.
”You sound like you could do with a good challenge…”
”Ha! You better watch yourself verpi. I have improved greatly in recent times!”
Ace scoffed, watching Aster make his way over towards him, cracking his knuckles, including his metal fist.
Kurt moved out of the way as Aster lunged forwards with hands extended and grasped Ace’s own pair of hands tightly. Both Aster and Ace were locked into a wrestle and Ace could feel how strong Aster’s force was from his grasp - especially his robotic arm.
But despite that, Ace knew he was stronger and he smiled cunningly, suddenly pushing against him with surprising force. Aster’s eyes widened and that small action made Ace shove him with a large amount of effort. Aster fell.
Ace turned to face Aster down on the ground, smiling at the same time in an attempt to annoy Aster, who was staring up back at him…
Ace felt silly saying such a word.
He was about to offer Aster a helping hand, when he heard an all-too-familiar jetpack sound from up above, several metres away. Aster quickly shot up onto his own feet as he saw that it was Bettilena flying down to the ground. Aster was blushing slightly, a bit embarrassed to know that Betty saw him defeated in only less than a minute.
Ace made way over towards Betty, quickly noting she had a large basket of some sort.
”Haven’t seen you all day Bettilena, where have you been?”
”Oh, just been busy preparing something special for you guys of course!”
Bettilena told Ace.
Jake heard that and he immediately opened an eye from his nap. He knew what Bettilena was talking about, so did Ace and everyone else. Ace could already pick up on the scent of something good.
Betty walked over to a clear patch of grass, before putting down the basket and grabbing out a large tablecloth to lie on the ground.
The other seekers all came in to help her prepare the picnic-like dinner, handing out plates to one another and utensils. It wasn’t long until Bettilena pulled out a large platter of food that she had prepared earlier on, and the strong smell in the air drew even more attention towards her as she held it out, ready to serve everyone.
Ace could already smell what she had prepared. It was a huge variety, and, much to his delight, it appeared to be a big selection of seafood.
“Here is a very special lunch I spent hours preparing today! With the finest cuisine and the freshest available seafood there is!”
“Boy, it sure looks good! I don’t know where to even begin!”
Aster said after Jake. As everyone waited to serve themselves, Betty placed the main platter down, with other smaller plates besides it, so that everyone could get a better view of the variety: Floranian trout; lobster; calamari rings; smoked rilgarian salmon; home-made fries; as well as other various types of shellfish and delicacies of the Solana galaxy’s finest seabed’s decorated the platter.
“Dig in, everybody!”
Bettilena shuffled back slightly as everyone moved in to get their share of the meal. Even Leera wasn’t left unnoticed as Betty opened up another part of a chill container in the basket and tossed couple of large, fresh sea-trout towards her.
Ace went to sit down on his own as the others were already eating. His whole plate was completely full - bordering overflowing. He had already begun eating what he had, and as expected, was delicious. He always enjoyed her meals, especially seafood-styled ones. He could only look back at Betty again, noticing her sitting there on her own with Leera smiling back at everyone else.
How can she continue to live on without being able to taste any of this?!
It sometimes puzzled Ace: the life of a robot. It reminded him of how glad he was to be an organic life form, and as he thought about it; he couldn’t help but smirk about a certain female robot from his past - Juanita Alvaro.
She was strange. Drank mentholated sprits to try and impress him, sometimes she’d even eat food from his bowl at the DreadZone bar too, without even asking. He even heard about Juanita eating a cameraman out of rage one time, and even talked about how her mother used to serve her lombax brains for breakfast with eggs & salsa.
He laughed in his mind, whilst grinning to himself.
Heh. The crazy people I used to put up with… I am glad that’s all in the past.
He continued with his meal, trying not to rush as he didn’t want the many flavours to go largely unnoticed. But he couldn’t help it; it was too tasty and soon he was finished - long before the other Seeker members who still sat there on their own, eating and talking away with one another in the distance.
Ace looked off in the direction of the densely vegetated forest, spotting a nice calm area several metres away. He got up to stretch, looking back at the rest of his team who were still finishing their own meals and talking with each other. He smiled to himself, glad to see that they were all enjoying themselves.
As for him, Ace was feeling a little tired after such a long day. He walked through the small shrubs and other plants over towards a small open area with a large tree centred there in the forest. The branches and leaves above also provided the spot with a good amount of shade from the suns.
Ace went to sit down underneath the tree before allowing himself to lie down against the trunk of the tree. He pulled out his visor again and put them around his head, before lying down to get more comfortable. He was in a very good state of mind. Now this was the kind of future he was fond of – no more superhero missions, just spending time relaxing, chilling out and going on adventures with his team is all he would ever want… or was there something missing from all that, he thought?
He gave off a big yawn now, showing off his rather large canines. He closed his eyes now and dozed off into a calm, daytime nap, now that his mind had settled.
It sure was paradise here.
An hour or more had passed by now, with temperatures lowering slightly as one of the suns in Pokitaru’s skies started to ease down into the horizon. A few clouds also scattered the blue sky, with only one of the suns remaining to shine from above during the midst of the daytime.
Ace was enjoying his nap. The air was fresh out here amongst the wilderness, and the weather was perfect. Although the silence he had rested upon was disturbed in the past few minutes. This caused him to wake up and open an eye. He lifted himself to take off his tinted visor to get a better view with his own vision. He couldn’t see much at first, besides the many trees and shrubs throughout the forest.
At least until he spotted something flashing bright blue, far off through the vegetation ahead of him.
This caught his interest and so he got up to stretch out his toned body. He began to walk through the grass and bushes – into the direction where he could see the swerving lights. And as he moved in closer, he could tell right away who it was.
It was Jenna Joltstride. She held a pair of whips, Plasma whips to be precise. They let off a bright glow of blue light while activated, and could deliver a painful shock to opponents unlucky to be at the receiving end of them.
She was busy striking a target with her whips, centred in the middle of a large thick slab of stone. The centre was charred from the many hits she had already inflicted upon it. She took steps back each time, and moved in to strike the target from different angles, almost like she was waltzing with it - and Ace continued to watch a few metres away. She still had not noticed him nearby.
He walked in close and she paused looking back at Ace. He watched closer at the slab of stone nearby and could notice it was already starting to crack and become weak from the damage.
”How about opponents in the long range? Got some tactics for those too?”
”Huh? Well you should know that I only like to use melee style weapons in combat…”
”Huh, seriously? You don’t use any guns of some sort? Plasma whips aren’t going to save you from long range pirates, snipers, and other gun-wielding psychos out there that we have to deal with occasionally”
”I thought that you’d remember that I don’t like to use guns…”
Ace was dumbfounded. He walked in closer and pulled out his own gun, activating it and transforming it to its fully functional form, holding it with him and showing it to her.
”Man, it’s been like what; 10 years and you still won’t use a gun? Come on, you have got to at least try”
”Since when did you become so concerned about me not using them?”
Jenna said, with her hands placed on her hips.
”Everybody else in the team has one. It is for safety purposes you know”
”Well Leera doesn’t…!”
”She doesn’t have opposable thumbs, so she has an excuse. So come on, give my Launcher a try. It’s not that hard”
Jenna turned off her pair of Plasma whips and looked at Ace’s HL Launcher, putting both of her whips away and moving up close to look at his weapon. He handed the Launcher to her and she held onto it reluctantly.
She appeared to be rather surprised with how light the gun was, despite it being large in size. But she was even more surprised when she noticed that his gun was ‘missing’ something vital.
”Err how am I supposed to use this thing anyway? There’s no trigger here…”
”I know. That’s because it can only be used in my own hands, with my own mind. But it doesn’t mean you can’t give it a try. That’s why I’ll need to do this…”
Jenna shifted her eyes slightly but kept her smile. Ace placed his hand on the top of his gun lightly so she could hold it out with both of her hands grasping the handle. She tried to hold it out into an aiming position, to get the feel of handling it. It did feel weird to her though; especially with its odd shape and large size in comparison to her much smaller hands.
“Aim at that boulder over there, the same one you were using before. Now all you need to do is hold it out straight, in front of you. And stare down the centre of the launcher. Make sure you are focused on the target”
Jenna moved to position herself towards the same boulder she was using for practise before. She lowered her head and looked down towards the target holding the launcher steadily in front of her. Ace kept his hand on the top part of the launcher, giving off an eager look.
“Now hold tight…”
In a split second, a blast erupted from the barrel of Ace’s launcher. Jenna gasped; almost letting out a scream. Ace was startled by her reaction, moving back as she let go and dropped his HL Launcher onto the ground. Jenna took a few steps back after Ace groaned at the sight of his launcher being dropped. The boulder was struck though, completely destroyed by the single shot from the launcher.
“What the heck was that all about, Ace? Now that target is completely obliterated!”
”I told you to keep it focused but you dropped it! Man, what is up with you? It’s not that hard to just hold a gun and aim at an enemy or target!”
”Well it doesn’t help when you make your gun ‘magically’ blast without any kind of warning!”
”But I did warn you! It’s not hard to just hold it tightly and aim! I am not impressed… I expected at least some kind of effort. You could do with a lot more practise”
”Pfft… only impressed by what robotic woman can do then, ehh?”
Ace became silent all of a sudden. His annoyed expression changing to surprised one, with his eyes widened.
”W-What are you on about? The crazy red-headed one?! That is just a thing of the past!”
”Don’t forget Miss Courtney Gears too, hun” Jenna said, looking extremely smug.
”What the- you’re referring to those two? Hell no! She was a complete psycho - both of them were! You’re crazy if you think I had a thing for them!”
“Heh whatever. From what I know, you were crazy for their attention…”
“Ugh. How could you think of such repulsive theories? I didn’t think you had a mind like that…”
“Whatever, I bet you were all over them…”
Jenna laughed, and she could notice he was starting to become annoyed with this. But then Ace realized that she was having fun with the teasing, giving him a fun idea of his own...
And so, his angered expression changed suddenly.
“…Oh I get it now. You were… jealous of them, isn’t that right?”
”Excuse me, what?”
Ace smiled cheerily now; flipping back his blond hair with his right hand, while beginning to pose, showing off and flexing his muscles on his left arm.
”I can understand you being envious of those ladies, back in the way… it is only natural”
”Honey, you’re dreaming if you really think I’d be jealous of them!”
“Heh, I know you too well Jenna…”
She could only roll her eyes now, especially seeing him flex his muscles even more so. He even had his eyes closed as he did so, finding it to be highly amusing.
”I seriously think you need to deflate that ego a bit. If it gets any bigger, it’s bound to burst and reduce you to tatters!”
”Hey, I’m not the one with the envy-issues here. Getting jealous over fem-bots, ha, what a day this has been!”
“You seriously have vanity issues if you genuinely believe that I was jealous of those two!”
Ace laughed now, finding it amusing annoying her to an extent. He stood up proud, to flex both of his muscular arms once again. Jenna herself, was slightly amused but yet annoyed by his words at the same time.
“Hey now, no need to become so hasty. There is no shame in having a bit of envy for those who were lucky enough to get a piece of Ace Hardlight, you know…”
”Okay you’re not funny now, so that’s enough. I thought you were teaching me how to use a weapon?”
”Well if the green eyed monster didn’t attack me then maybe-“
Ace smiley expression suddenly vanished, upon feeling a strong grasp on the end of his hair, forcing him to be pulled down to Jenna’s level.
His eyes were wide staring back at her. But then he continued to laugh, again.
”You take that back, mister!”
Ace chuckled, even though she still had his hair in her grasp but he was too amused to be bothered about it.
She pulled a bit tighter, tugging his hair; beginning to grab Ace’s attention even more so. He couldn’t stop smiling though, which only caused Jenna’s eye to twitch back at him. But now he was starting to become a little irritated with his hair being pulled so tightly - he usually dislikes it immensely when anybody touches it at all.
”Okay, okay, I’ll stop, now could you please let go?”
”Where’s my apology first, Mr. Hardlight?”
”Okay then, I’m sorry… yeesh”
She let go of his hair and he moved back a metre, standing up straight so that she couldn’t have a second chance to grab it again. His hair was messed up a bit and he tried to tidy it up with his own two hands. He wasn’t too successful though what with the lack of a brush and mirror.
Jenna had her arms folded, giving off a slight grin at his actions. Ace gave a look back, noticing her glaring back at him with her own kind of cheeky look.
”You know, Courtney Gears was actually forced to be in those advertisements with me. I heard that she was paid almost 1 million bolts for that. And not to mention, she is a racist towards organic life forms!”
“Heheh yeah I know. But what about your ‘babe’ Juanita then, hmm?”
”Hey I never said that she was… uhh okay… I think I did once but that doesn’t mean I had a thing for her, ever! She was a psychotic fan. She sometimes even… disturbed me!”
Jenna giggled at his response, while Ace blushed a bit. He felt a little embarrassed about his past with Juanita. Now that he realized Juanita was the only woman he ever remotely got close to back then. Due to the fact that many people - including women - disliked him during his DreadZone years, but Juanita didn’t. She loved him for his malevolent ways.
“Whatever you say, hun. Now if you don’t mind, I’d like to get back to my afternoon training…”
Jenna pulled out her Plasma whips again, looking all around her for another place to practise on. Ace looked back at her and noticed that she was a little disappointed in the lack of a target practise.
However, Ace still wanted to try and get her to use a projectile type weapon of some sort. Everyone else in the team had one and it was important for combat against their foes. Then he thought of a good idea…
”You know what? I’ll build a launcher of your own”
”Really? Well you don’t have to. As you have already witnessed, I’m rubbish when it comes to using those”
”That was only a start, so don’t give up so easily. I might even have it done tomorrow, if I get a chance to work on it tonight. And also, I’m sorry again for destroying your precious… rock. I saw plenty of good ones on the way here while I was skyboarding, just west of here past the small stream through the cliffs”
Jenna looked back at Ace, who appeared to be in a more serious mood this time, without the snide look he had just before.
She walked over towards the forest entry, before looking back at Ace and smiling.
”Thanks Ace. I suppose you’d want to head back to the Star Seeker to tidy up that crazy hair of yours?”
Ace looked up and noticed it was still a little messy. He rolled his eyes after her, as she grinned back cheerfully, before quickly disappearing into the thick of the forest.
Ace went to go pick up his HL launcher off the ground, to begin walking down another path into the forest, back to where the rest of the team resided. His mind continued to flow with thoughts, some thoughts that even felt a bit odd to him. Shrugging, he continued to walk on anyway.