A young, thin man was standing before this dojo, looking upwards to the calligraphic dance of the words "September" on the building. This youth was Ye Chong. He understood the words, but he could not possibly gauge whether the name was a good one.
"Ye, this is the September Dojo!" Mu said.
"Hmm, it looks abandoned! Not many people go in and out of the place, must be a quiet dojo, just like what our information said." Ye Chong said as he looked towards the main entrance of the September dojo.
"According to the virtual net, this dojo’s master refused to incorporate new elements such as the now popular mech battles. It was criticized by young people, saying it is too conservative, and could not keep up with the times. That’s probably why the number of dojo’s apprentices have decreased sharply!" Mu always did his investigations thoroughly.
"I see." Ye Chong seemed to realize something from this.
"Hmm, this dojo does not interact with the outside world very much, and the dojo master is very close to the local governor, always under the care of the local authorities! Hence, I believe this is a good place to take cover!"
This was the result of a discussion between Ye Chong and Mu. Ever since Ye Chong realized that Black Cove had seen Han Jia, he knew that they would not let him go easily. Besides, he had told Robert that he was heading to Windstar with the four bodyguards present. If they could not find him on Richie, they would continue their search on Windstar.
The safest way forward now would be to leave Windstar for now and wait for the heat to die down before coming back. Ye Chong knew he stood no chance against Black Cove in a direct encounter. However, Ye Chong did not want to leave Windstar. The illness he had was the only thing restraining him now; only by eliminating this problem could he feel safe! Even though the episodes were getting minor, Ye Chong dared to be careless. Dying from this illness would be such a shame!
Ye Chong decided to wait for Wang Weixing to return to Windstar. Who knew when the doctor would be on the planet again? After some consideration, Ye Chong decided on the matter. As long as he hid at a suitable location and moved with care, Ye Chong was confident of evading Black Cove for at least the next two months. The next problem was finding such a place for him to lay low. The September dojo was the hiding location that Ye Chong and Mu decided on in the end.
"You want to learn combat skills from me?" Lan Yixing looked at the frail young man before him, feeling a little disappointed. From his physique, this young man did not seem suitable for combat. However, he did not want to reject him, as it had been long since anyone had asked to be admitted as an apprentice!
"Yes!" Ye Chong replied calmly.
"As an apprentice, the first year will be spent on menial tasks like scrubbing the floor, it’s hard work. This is to train the apprentice’s mental fortitude! All of these tasks must be done by hand, and not with any cleaning machines! You must do this for one year!" Lan Yixing reminded him. "It’s not too late to back out now!" Many apprentice wannabes backed off after this. With their current technology, cleaning tasks were all delegated to smart cleaning machines. Who would want to do the cleaning themselves? Besides, it was a full year of performing these menial tasks. The thought was daunting enough.
"Okay!" The young man answered crisply without hesitation. Temporary apprentices need not perform these tasks, since they were only here for short term training, and mostly for fun. Apprentices were different, and were the dojo’s true students. They were the ones who would learn the most! However, it was not easy to become one. An apprentice must go through one year or more of training and be approved by their masters before receiving actual classes.
Lan Yixing looked at the few temporary apprentices in the dojo, their dwindling numbers casting a gloomy mood over him. It was an undeniable truth that combat expertise was declining! He was deeply worried about passing down his skills. If this expertise was to be lost in history in his generation, he would never forgive himself.
"Alright! Let’s have you try it out first!" Lan Yixing said. He liked the down-to-earth feeling emanating from the young man before him. The only regret was his build. It seemed to him that the young man lacked the strength and stamina to reach the peak of this field.
A thought occurred to him, and Lan Yixing asked, "What’s your name?"
"Mo Fei." Ye Chong answered succinctly.
That was how Ye Chong landed himself a place in the September dojo. He chose to be an apprentice and not a temporary one, mostly because apprentices must stay at the dojo. For Ye Chong, a suitable place to stay was key to avoiding detection. After all, he needed to stay here until Wang Weixing returned. Fortunately, Black Cove was not aware of his goal, or Wang Weixing would probably be captured and brought to Black Cove. In that case, his situation would be hopeless.
Ye Chong obtained an identity card once he reached Windstar. Information in the card on his identity was modified by Mu. While Ye Chong looked very similar to his image on the identity card, Mu had actually did some minor modifications on 13 important but inconspicuous parts. These modifications were small, but the effect was apparent. Even if another party had Ye Chong’s holographic image and access to the local population’s information database, they would not be able to find Ye Chong through an automatic query. Besides, Wang Xing’s identity information was left untouched by Mu.
No one would have guessed that Ye Chong could change his identity whenever he wanted!
If he could survive these two months, he would be able to meet Wang Weixing. That was Ye Chong’s only objective!
Lan Yixing was extremely satisfied with his new apprentice, Mo Fei. He worked hard with a serious attitude and never lazed around, unlike his other senior brothers who would leave whenever they were free. In fact, Lan Yixing had never seen him leave the dojo. He usually spent his time in his room when unoccupied, and did not seem to be indulging in any negative activities. With the exception of his overly cold demeanor, Lan Yixing had no qualms with his new student.
Lan Yixing’s knew that his other apprentices were no longer interested in combat skills, and he was helpless against this. Everyone knew that combat experts had no bright future, and he could only be thankful that they were still here with him! There was a time when potential apprentices came in hoards, which filled him with hope, thinking that combat experts were finally gathering interest again. Later, he realized that these people were only here because of mech combat. The realization was dispiriting. Apart from that, he found that most of the apprentices had no foundation in the area, even though they all wanted to shortcut their way to success, wanting to learn some cool looking but impractical moves. He was vexed. After much thought, he decided to ignore mech battle techniques, which caused most of his temporary apprentices to leave. Fortunately, he had enough savings to avoid financial difficulty.
Mo Fei was an inconspicuous character in the September dojo. He was always quiet, his cold stare giving off an unapproachable feeling. Besides, he never took the initiative to greet anyone, so none of them really noticed him. Nonetheless, they were pleased to see the silent fellow taking care of all the menial chores, relieving their burdens.
Ye Chong did not mind it. To him, this was only a temporary accommodation. Once his business was finished here, he would be free to go wherever he wanted. Besides, these menial tasks were nothing for someone like him, who grew up on a trash planet. He enjoyed this seemingly dull lifestyle, which offered him plenty of free time every day to learn whatever he was interested in.
The only regret was that the dojo had no virtual world access.
Wei Yuan waited every day, alone, in the NR Training Center, hoping to YC gain, but to no avail. YC never visited again. He was disappointed, and regretted being too absorbed watching his recordings that he did not realize YC had left.
The holographic recording was good teaching material, especially for people who could pick up things quickly. Besides, YC’s holographic recording had given him a direction to focus on, and with that basic training!
Wei Yuan panted heavily. While panting was impossible in the virtual world, the strain from his training still made him pant instinctively. He had improved, but was still a long way behind YC! He had used his photon processor to calculate the parameters of YC’s performance, and found them to be quite shocking numbers!
Wei Yuan did not give up then. As long as he worked hard, he would surely reach these new heights one day.
"Mo Fei!" Lan Yixing called Ye Chong, who was just done with mopping the floor. It was already nighttime, and most of the temporary apprentices had gone home, leaving only Ye Chong in the massive building!
Ye Chong stopped in his tracks and turned back to face Lan Yixing, waiting for his next words.
Lan Yixing knew that Mo Fei disliked talking, and so he continued, "Hmm, I’ve been watching you all this time. Usually apprentices need to perform these menial tasks for a full year before qualifying for instructions, but since you’ve done well in this period, I’ll make an exception and teach you some basic moves!"
"Okay." Ye Chong replied. Ye Chong had never seen Lan Yixing perform any moves himself. Usually, it was a few of his so called senior brothers who did the teaching in the dojo. These senior brothers seemed to only have the looks but not the substance. If they met with a slightly capable opponent, they would definitely be defeated.
Lan Yixing spoke lowly, "Look carefully!" Just as he finished, Lan Yixing moved into position and began to perform his moves, one by one!
Ye Chong watched with growing amazement. He had seen many combat experts, and knew some moves himself, so he could tell a person’s expertise in an instant. This Lan Yixin was at least as good as the two combat experts he saw on the Nast!
Ye Chong watched with focus and startled to the core. The moves were very similar to many that he saw in the recording of the fight between those two combat experts.
Lan Yixing repeated the moves a few times, and sighed a little inside when he saw Mo Fei’s dazed expression. However, he still explained the key points and tricks to each move patiently to Mo Fei. Now, it was up to him to absorb and digest what he was taught. Lan Yixing did not expect much from him.
Ye Chong benefited greatly from this session. All this time, he did not have anyone to teach him, and could only figure things out himself. Lan Yixing was well learned, and had a solid foundation in combat. He explained each move with simple words that managed to touch the core of the subject, allowing Ye Chong to finally make sense of much of his earlier musings. Aside from that, Ye Chong learned many new techniques that he never thought of before.
Ye Chong’s experience in the field was immense, and he had always spent time analyzing combat moves. That was why he gained much from this session.
Lan Yixing repeated his moves three times before finally stopping.
"Alright, now you try them!" Lan Yixing said to Ye Chong.
Ye Chong moved slowly, attempting to mimic what he had just witnessed. However, old habits did not change easily. Despite his newfound understanding of all his combat moves, he still performed each move like he always did, barely replicating Lan Yixing’s moves.
Lan Yixing sighed inside, finding Mo Fei to be just as he expected - innately unsuited to the art of combat. The moves he demonstrated earlier were all basic moves, and the simplest ones. Most temporary apprentices could reproduce them to a certain degree after just watching him demonstrate once. Mo Fei, however, had distorted all his moves, even when he had demonstrated three times.
However, Lan Yixing was a responsible teacher. He stopped Ye Chong and pointed out all his mistakes, explaining the details of each one of them.
After that, Lan Yixing advised Ye Chong to practice often before leaving him be. Now, Ye Chong was left all alone in the training ground.
In the training ground, Ye Chong practiced those basic moves again and again, quickly losing himself in the training.
If Lan Yixing were to see Ye Chong’s performance, he would most definitely be stupefied!
Ye Chong moved swiftly, his fists a blur of movement across the air. Ye Chong was a strong fighter, and Lan Yixing’s instructions had allowed him to significantly enhance his punching speed and energy. Ye Chong found that his punching moves had reached a new level of speed! This was the first breakthrough for Ye Chong ever since he reached a bottleneck with his hand speed!
Speed was not related only to strength, but also technique!
This set of basic combat moves had now become a seamless combination of both speed and strength in Ye Chong’s hands! He now had a better understanding of how these two qualities complemented each other!
Unlike other people, Ye Chong realized that these seemingly basic move were the most effective for killing! He must be proficient with them as soon as possible!
Ye Chong continued on with his training relentlessly. Under the artificial illumination, his shadow flickered into and out of existence due to his quick movements like a dream!