Okay, maybe at this point I might be a little more invested in this whole storm-stopping scheme.
I was sick of the rain.
It was cold, wet, and miserable.
And it reminded me the never-ending rain in the Indian Union.
“I hate it here Pita.” Mixing English with Hindi like many of my peers at the local school did.
My father didn’t look up from the screen he was glaring at and I shuddered at the eerie blue gleam of the text words reflecting in his cybered orbs. After the last surgery he was even more chrome than ever before and I found myself increasingly uncomfortable in his presence. He’d foregone skin replacements over the left side of his face for the time being, citing the inability to hold still long enough to allow the cells to regenerate correctly.
“Pita… Poppa?” I tried again to get his attention over the ceaseless thundering rain that splattered the tent tops and made me feel like I was living inside a drum. A giant drum belonging to some meta-human creature who found me as insignificant as an ant infestation in its musical instrument collection.
I took a step forward when Akshay glided between us, placing his slender deadly hand in the air scant centimeters above my shoulder. He never touched me unless it was to strike me in combat. He said nothing, only guided me back out toward the tent door by gently exerting the intensity of his gaze and his closeness. Never once did he actually physically engage me but I found myself expertly removed from my father’s presence.
I stood at the slit in the tent door and glared out at the sluicing rain that cut visibility to nearly nonexistent. I didn’t want to go out but I could feel Akshay simply standing in such a way as to not allow me any other choice. “Does it ever stop fracking raining here?!”
Akshay’s calm voice slipped gently into the cacophony, “Some say the Gods grieve for the death that always occurs here. Their tears are meant to warn us away before such fate becomes our own.”
Again that mental image of the giant meta-human drumming away at the tents filled my mind and I tried to peer up at the sky but could see nothing through the falling water, “The Gods should get up off their asses and do something about it then… VITAS, the nukes, the wars… Crying solves nothing.”
Akshay lifted one brow at my blasphemous words, a visual cue I caught as I was already turning to face him.
“Jit wanh tsan lei, gao wanh teng, little kae po.”
I hated it when he called me a grandma chicken. I knew it had come out of my natural curiosity, it was a gentle way to call me nosy, but over the years it had simply become my name. I hated it. Almost as much as I hated his proverbs in general. I cocked my head to the side as I tried this new one out, “One bowl of snail, nine bowls of soup…?”
He nodded and did not explain. His usual way of making me suffer through the learning process. I’d work on it, much like I worked on the Muay Thai moves he taught me.
I ducked my head and let the soft blonde hair spill down over my face and hide my expression from him. I could feel his closeness as he stood ever patient waiting for me to make sense of his newest lesson. My face was hidden for one purpose and one purpose only. I didn’t want him to see my calculation. The knee I thrust up into his stomach was fast and vicious, the elbow that followed in a forearm strike to his bent head seconds later held at lethal angle. I used his falling momentum and my own velocity to twist myself in a spin across his shoulder and back to take my place deeper inside the tent and boot kicked him in the back to send him into the rain.
“How’s that for stretching something too thin?” I grinned at him as he’d already expertly twist spun back to his feet in a crouch to glare at me. My father looked up from his comm screen and I felt a surge of joy that he’d seen me take Akshay…
…the look I shared with him….
…was something I regretted almost…instantly. I was jerked off my feet and landed with an impact that echoed up my spine. I had only a second to recognize my predicament before something snagged my ankle and swooped me out into the rain hard enough to make my head snap back and hit the ground.
My ass kicking was fierce and unforgiving. As my blood leaked into the mud in rivulets caused by the rain, I learned very well what it meant to be stretched too thin…to expect too much soup from too little snail.
It was only after I was laying in the rain, barely able to breathe past the sharp aches and pains of my lesson that my father emerged from whatever he’d been caught up in. His grin was still human and his laugh buoyed me against the agony. “I can’t believe you got the drop on Akshay. If only for a second…” He stood over me, blocking out the relentless rain and I felt such pride and warmth that it didn’t matter that I was soaked through to every aching bone, he could block the rain.
Mocking me, the rain slapped down over my head as I stepped forth from the car to dart inside the library’s open doors. I was still a kae po and my curiosity was going to once again drive me into danger. Akshay would have been vindicated once again.