Chapter 16: The Unexpected
I got close to the unconscious Dark Slinger. I thought about his voice and I realized it actually belonged to the Goon. The Goon was doing something to Eli, and from my dream, he was ghouled. I looked at the ghoulish slinger closely. If this was what the Goon did to him, that would mean the Goon was the real villain and he was a victim. Somehow, I thought about the Infurnus.“Look! He wields the Infurnus! That must be him!” a marauder exclaimed before he retreated to The End.
“You wield the Infurnus. You are the protector of these caverns?” the Dark Slinger asked Eli.
So the Infurnus was the symbol of the protector of Slugterra. Eli Shane had one. The Dark Slinger had the other one. So that meant...
No. It could not be.
The protector was dead. My master told me that he was killed. Everyone in my cavern said the same thing to me. He could not be alive. The Goon must have used this slinger to kill him and steal his Infurnus to ghoul it.
However, I thought it again. It could not be true, either. The protector was a powerful slinger, and he was unbeatable. He was truly a gifted warrior. He could not be defeated or killed by anyone. My mind was troubled again.
I startled and backed away when I saw his body glowed with a black and red light. Seconds later, the light turned to blue and his appearance changed. I carefully went closer to him. His face was no longer ghoulish and he looked peaceful. He looked... different now.Oh gosh, he's hot.
I thought and I felt my cheeks were burning. The heat spread downwards till it reached my feet. I stood still, completely attracted to his appearance.
Noises brought me back to reality. They came from the battle between Kord and the Ice Ogre. I almost forgot my mission. I had to help Trixie and Pronto. I was about to make a run for the portal but stopped abruptly. I turned to see the former Dark Slinger. I could not leave him like that, but I felt uneasy when helping a stranger, especially my enemy.He can help himself up. He won't remember a thing even if I have helped him.
I thought and left him.
I sped up and entered the portal, only to find out the giant rocks were slowly attaching to each other. Stones were falling down. The terraportal was closing. I decided not to go in there because it was too dangerous. As I walked out of the portal, Trixie ran out of it.
“Kord! I don't have a shot!” Trixie shouted as she aimed her blaster at the Ice Ogre. Kord was gripping onto the shoulders of the creature.
“I do! I just need my blaster!” Kord answered. Trixie and I spotted his blaster lying on the ground. It was located quite far away from him. I believed that it was knocked off of his grasp during the fight with the Ice Ogre.
“Ugh, take mine!” Trixie told him and tossed her blaster into the air. Kord caught it but he did not know what to do with it. The Ice Ogre grabbed his head with its gigantic hand and threw him to the ground. The Cave Troll slid across the soil until his blaster was almost behind him.
“Yes!” he exclaimed happily. As the Ice Ogre leapt into the air and raised its fist, Kord loaded his blaster quickly and fired his Mega Morphed Tazerling toward it. The slug transformed and used Tazercoil
against its opponent. It latched onto the Ice Ogre and shocked it repeatedly on impact. Kord escaped just before the creature fell onto him. The Ice Ogre was now unconscious. Kord's Tazerling hopped onto the creature's back joyfully. It chirped with happiness.
“Hoah, thanks dude,” Kord gave his Tazerling a thumbs up. He turned to Trixie. “Hey, where's Pronto?”
We heard someone shrieking from the terraportal. A figure flew out of it and landed on the ground after a roll or two. It was a Molenoid we knew.
“Pronto!” Trixie called out, concerned about him. She and I ran toward him. Kord, on the other hand, went to guard the portal, fearing that the Goon's army would come. A few seconds later, the portal closed itself and the wall returned to its impenetrable state. Kord was shocked.
“Bah! You Cave Trolls worry too much,” Pronto blurted out. It turned out that Pronto had successfully retrieved all of the stolen Fandangos. Our worries immediately turned to joy. The energy slugs were celebrating our victory. They hopped, danced and squealed with delight.
“Bro, you're a hero!” Kord praised Pronto as he lifted him up with his strong hands.
“Oh. I am no hero,” Pronto admitted modestly with a shrug. Kord placed his feet back to the ground, “I am simply the best at what I do!” To be honest, I had never seen him that modest before. It was a rare occasion because he was always boastful.
We heard a maniacal laugh and to our horror – it came from our good friend Eli Shane. He had a ghoulish appearance similar to the Dark Slinger. The Goon Doc was on his shoulder.
“Eli!” Trixie gasped.
“That's not Eli,” Kord corrected her. The voice that Eli spoke actually belonged to the Goon. The ghoul had managed to take over his mind and control him like a puppet. Eli was currently the new Dark Slinger.
“You think that will save you? Separate me from my army?” the ghouled Eli asked in disbelief as he walked toward us. “I will raise another. Now that I have my slinger, nothing can stop me. All you have done is trap yourselves in here. With me.”
He aimed his blaster at us. The Fandangos ran away in fear. We were horrified. He activated his blaster, ready to shoot us. However, at the last second, he shot the Grimmstone away from us. He fell to his knees. I could hear the conversation between Eli and the Goon.He's struggling to regain control. But it won't last long.
I turned to my friends. “Uh, guys,” I started, “I think we should retreat. We need as many help as we can get.”
“No need for that, Wen Jing,” Trixie replied. “We can handle this.”
“But this is hopeless, Trixie!” I exclaimed. “Eli is now under the Goon's control. We can't stop it!”
“Try to be a little more positive here, Wen Jing!” Kord advised.
“Positive? DO YOU THINK I WILL BE POSITIVE RIGHT NOW?!” I yelled furiously.
We heard a slug was been slung. It came from Eli's blaster. He had stood up but his ghoulish appearance remained. He fired his ghouled Frostcrawler toward Pronto. Pronto managed to run away, but the impact force produced by the collision between the ghoul and the ground knocked off his balance. The ghouled Eli loaded his blaster and walked toward Pronto. I speedily slung my Mega Morphed Tazerling to him. Diandian transformed and used Tazerbolt
. He shot an electrical arc and it zapped Eli. He recovered fast and stared at me before he stared back at the Molenoid. Pronto screamed and retreated cowardly. Dark Eli smirked and turned his attention to Kord, Trixie and I. We ran away and he shot a Mega Morphed Grimmstone toward us. I shot my Polero and Hop Rock from both of my hand blasters. Xiaosheng performed Wrapattak
and tied up Eli's legs. Baozhu hit Eli and performed Sploder
, which caused a medium explosion and knocked him to the ground. The ghouled Rammstone performed Castlerock
and hit the ground hard behind Kord, causing sharp rocks to shoot up and formed a large, spiky wall.
Trixie fired her Tazerling while I fired my Arachnet. Both of our Mega Morphs reached velocity. The Tazerling performed Tazerbolt
and shot an electrical arc toward Eli but it missed. Arachne performed Arachnorok
and spat sticky web balls toward Eli's legs. The balls successfully caused him to fall down. She took the opportunity to tangle him up in a gooey web. He tore the web apart with a great amount of force using his arms as he let out a cry. Then, he loaded his Attacknet and slung it. His ghouled Arachnet used Slashnet
and shot a stinging web net on Kord. Trixie shot her Hop Rock and it defeated the ghouled Spinner. She fired her Armashelt toward him but it missed its target too. I slung my Mega Morphed Flaringo and he performed Sparkomet
. He sent mid-sized fireballs with burning sparks to fly to his opponent. The fireballs formed a flaming firewall but Dark Eli could walk through it unharmed. He slung another Mega Morphed Grimmstone and it produced an explosion when it hit the ground. Pronto was close to the explosion, hence, he was easily defeated and now he was seeing stars. I fired my Mega Morphed Armashelt and she performed Canonbolt
. Jinjin tucked her arms in, turning herself into a large cannonball. It bashed onto Eli. He fell down but he stood up straightaway. I fired my Mega Morphed Frightgeist to his position. The ghouled Eli slung his Mega Morphed Aquafreak to him. The ghouled Beeker performed Direhose
and sent an extremely strong blast of water to Cacodemon, defeating him.
Dark Eli shot his Mega Morphed Harmashelt toward us. I managed to run to a safe place from the incoming impact. The ghouled Banger bashed onto the ground. Kord and Trixie fell onto their backs. Trixie lost consciousness while Kord was weakened. Dark Eli walked toward Kord. Kord tried to grab his blaster beside him but he was too tired to reach it. Dark Eli pointed his blaster at the Cave Troll.
“Eli, I know you won't do it. Don't Tazerling me, bro!” Kord said fearfully. Dark Eli ignored and shot his Amperling to him. The ghouled Joules used Amperjolt
and clutched Kord's chest. Kord and his slugs were zapped with darkly powerful electric arcs repeatedly. It stopped a while later and Kord was truly exhausted.
“Such power! And I sense more within you. With such a slinger as my slave, your caverns will fall in no time! There is no human, troll or mole who can help you now!” Dark Eli exclaimed confidently.
“Oh, just stop it!” I cried in frustration and fired my Vinedrill toward him. Tengteng performed Tendrella
and he collided with the ground. Vines grew from it and bound the ghouled Eli up. He responded by slinging his Thrasher to one side. The ghouled Buzzsaw transformed and performed Knawblade
. His ghouled Thresher deployed bony spines from his back and curled into a saw blade. He cut off the vines to release him. Without much hesitation, I shot my Mega Morphed Frostcrawler, my Mega Morphed Rammstone and my Grenuke one by one. Bingbing transformed into a yeti and used Deepfreeze
. She produced an ice storm and instantly froze him. Then, Gongyang proceed and performed Battelup
. He did a massive uppercut with his rocky fists. It was strong enough to break the ice. The ghouled Eli was punched to the ground. Yanyan grabbed Eli's legs and held tight to them. Once his tail, which acted like a fuse burnt away, he released his Nuklock
attack and created a powerful explosion.
I found Arachne hopping toward me and I inserted her into my right hand blaster. I aimed anxiously at the smoke. I saw a shadowy figure standing there. I hurriedly fired my Mega Morphed Arachnet to the figure. She transformed into a purple spider and used Threadstinger
. She shot a single poison thread pumping venom through the air like a taser. The figure, as I had expected, was the mind-controlled Eli Shane. He moved his body slightly away from the thread before it reached his chest. He slung a Mega Morphed Grimmstone and it used Grimhorn
against Arachne. Its pale green sharp horns became hard projectiles and knocked her painfully. She turned back to her protoform, defeated. The ghouled Rammstone proceed to perform Hailstone
. As I ran, it slammed its fists hard on the ground, resulting sharp rock fragments to shoot up. I fell down with a thump. Some of the rocks buried part of my body, while others crashed around me. I could feel that my energy was losing rapidly.
“Oh, Wen Jing,” Dark Eli taunted as he walked toward me, “you are such an upright fool. You think you and your people can run away from me? Hiding in another set of caverns?! I will always find a way to reach it, and nothing can stop me!”
I tried to lift my hand blaster but I could not. I panted.
“Your beloved Eastern Champion have failed you and your people. Now you are next,” he said and pointed his blaster at me. His Hop Jack screeched at me.
“He never fails me,” I defended weakly. “He lives in me.”
“Well, it is too late,” Dark Eli told me. “Now you can once again watch your new home fall!”
He shot his ghouled Hop Rock to me. I rolled my body to the right to avoid being hit. The ghouled Rocky used Skizzler
and created a medium-sized explosion once he collided with the ground. The shock wave produced by the explosion threw me into the air and I landed hard on my chest. My eyes were close when I groaned in pain.
“It's over, little defender,” Dark Eli said and laid his blaster at me.I'm sorry, master.
I thought as I prepared for the worst.
All of the sudden, I heard something just set on fire. My eyes sprang open and I spotted Burpy and Doc at the left side of his feet. I felt like a miracle had happened right in front of my eyes.
“No! Not the healer!” Dark Eli shouted in fear when he turned to his left to find Burpy and Doc there. “Stay back!” He aimed at the slugs. They let out a soft gasp. He fired a Mega Morphed Grimmstone to them. The slugs barely escaped but they were separated by the impact caused by the ghouled Rammstone hitting the ground. Burpy screamed as he saw his 'owner' was about to step onto him. The Infurnus rolled his tiny body and protected himself from serious injury or death.
“Pathetic! Even with your powers, do you really think you can mess me?” Dark Eli asked, unable to stand the protests anymore. Doc climbed onto Eli's shoulders and, when the Goon failed to sense his presence, he leapt in and pushed the ghoul off of Eli's shoulders. Eli gasped and fell to the ground, unconscious.
Doc and the Goon were about to fight when Burpy interfered. He and the Goon fought in their protoforms while Doc went to heal the ghoulish Eli. Aloe hopped out of her slug tube that was strapped on my chest. Like Doc, she used her protoform ability to heal me. I heard a groan and it was from Kord. The poor Cave Troll who got electrocuted was waking up.
“Trix!” he called Trixie, who was regaining consciousness.
“What's happening?” she asked.
“I'm not sure, but I think two slugs are fighting it out the fate of the 99 Caverns,” he answered.
Unfortunately, Burpy eventually got defeated. The Goon stood in front of him.
“You filthy Infurnus! I ghouled you once, I will ghoul you again!” the Mega Morphed Goon Doc yelled at him.
“Not if I have something to say about it!” Eli, who had returned to normal, aimed his blaster at the ghouled Boon Doc. I guessed that Doc was inside his blaster.
“NNNOOO!!!” the Goon shrieked. Eli fired Doc and he reached velocity. The Goon successfully escaped by jumping into a hole. Doc turned back to his protoform. He and Burpy stared at the hole and turned to Eli.
“Without a slinger, he's powerless,” Eli said to them confidently. His Infurnus and Boon Doc cheered for their victory. I stood up slowly once I felt energized again. Kord, Trixie and Pronto had recovered too. After Eli assured us that he was alright, we worked together to gather the Fandangos back.
When we retrieved them and stored them in four slug containers, the Shane Gang hung the containers on the left legs of their mecha-beasts. “You know, a lot of other ghouls escaped back into the caverns during the fight,” Kord said to Eli.
“Including the Goon,” Eli added. “We'll find him, all of them. Right, Doc?” His Boon Doc hopped onto his right palm and he nodded happily.
“It's kind of weird, but even after breaking free from the Goon, there's still such kind of connection. Like, I can almost hear what he's thinking,” Eli explained and we exchanged gazes with each other. “Find a slinger, create more ghouls, build a new army.” Eli and Burpy looked at each other with fear.
“Okay. So we got some work to do,” Trixie sighed.
“Yeah, starting with, what are we do about him
?” Kord asked as he nodded to someone else. We turned to his direction and saw the former Dark Slinger. His face was stern at first, but then he smiled and bowed down graciously to us. I had never met someone who was so handsome and cute at the same time. I loved his eyes and smile. He was perfect. Glace, who was standing on my shoulder, grinned when she saw him.
“Uh.. hi?” Eli was surprised to meet the slinger who was mind-controlled by the Goon to destroy them.
“Thank you for saving my life,” the former Dark Slinger said gratefully. I was mesmerized by his voice. His voice was slightly deeper, with hints of grace, elegance and formal.
“No problem,” Eli replied and he proceed to introduce the team to him. “I'm Eli Shane. This is Kord Zane, Trixie Sting, Wen Jing and-”
“Pronto the Magnificent!” Pronto expressed himself proudly, cutting off Eli's sentence.
“It is a great honour to meet you all,” the slinger greeted. “My name is Junjie.”Junjie? I know it is a Chinese name but who is he?
“However, my name is actually pronounced as '俊杰',” Junjie explained.
My eyes flickered. 俊杰?! I was shocked. He was the protector and champion of the Eastern Realms. The greatest Eastern hero in history and all time. He was also the master of the ancient and mysterious art of Slug Fu. And... he was alive?!
“俊杰?!” I blurted out. Realizing what I just said, I shut my mouth quickly. Everybody looked at me, stunned. I took a deep breath and looked at Junjie. “I thought you're dead,” I told him.
“I did not die, Wen Jing,” he answered, “I was being controlled by the Goon.”
I felt something inside me just broke. All this time I had gotten the wrong information. My master had lied to me. My people had lied to me. They had lied to me. Every one of them told me that Junjie was dead, killed by the ghoul slinger who possessed the Mega Morphed Goon Doc. They already knew that the Dark Slinger was
Junjie. But they never told me the truth.
“Ugh! My master had lied to me!” I released my outrage. “My people had lied to me! I can't believe they did this to me!” An awkward silence fell around me. I found out that my hot temper had got me again. My friends, including Junjie, were shocked by my sudden outburst.
“Oh my gosh, I am so sorry!” I hurriedly apologized to them. I felt terrible for making a bad impression right in front of the Eastern protector. “I didn't mean to-”
“It is alright, Wen Jing,” Junjie told me gently. I looked into his brown eyes. “I know you are angry at your master and your people, not us. I understand how you feel, Wen Jing, so please, do not feel bad about yourself.”
I felt myself calming down yet my cheeks were getting hot. I was relieved that I was not blushing because nobody told me about the red flush on my cheeks. Furthermore, my cheeks were thick.
“Wait,” Junjie started, “Wen Jing... your name is '文静', right?”
“Uh... yes,” I answered, a little surprised about his question.
“And you look familiar...” he said as he walked toward me.
“Uh... re-really?” I stammered. He was standing so close to me now. I tried to avoid his gaze.
“May I see your blaster?” he asked. I showed my hand blasters to him and so did he. To our amazement, our blasters had the same design. My blaster were smaller than his. His blaster were yellow with blue stripes while mine were red with green stripes.
“You have the same blasters as mine,” he said and we stared into each other's eyes. Somehow, my breathing became heavy.
“Could it be?” he could not believe it. “Are you... are you... are you from the Eastern Realms?”
I could see that his eyes were wide and his mouth was open. I sighed. Well, you got me.
“Yes,” I answered as I avoided his gaze, “I am from the Eastern Realms.”
The Shane Gang were astonished. “It all makes sense now!” Eli shouted enthusiastically. “You have a Chinese name, which is Eastern. You give most of your slugs Chinese names. Even your cavern has some hints of Eastern culture!”
“But... but why?” Trixie questioned. She found it difficult to accept the truth.
“I know I have lied to you all this time,” I explained, “but this is the promise that my people and I keep for my master. We can't tell anyone about our real origins so the Goon won't find us.”
“Turns out you were wrong,” Eli said, “the Goon has found his way here.”
“I know,” I sighed, “but let's talk about this once we are back in the hideout.”
“Agree,” Eli replied, “but first, let's return the Fandangos to Getaway Cavern.”
“Excuse me, where is Getaway Cavern?” Junjie asked.
“It is the easternmost cavern of the 99 Caverns, which is another set of caverns,” I explained as I walked toward my mecha-beast.
We switched our mecha-beasts back to beast modes. Junjie found his vehicle and rode with us to Getaway Cavern. His mecha-beast was the same as Eli's but greyish-blue in colour. When we arrived at Getaway Cavern, Eli and his friends gave the stolen Fandangos back to the King of Sling. Junjie looked around the cavern like a curious kid. I knew he was new to this world.
I noticed that the residents in Getaway Cavern were asking Eli about the new member of the team. I knew they were asking about Junjie. They also looked at me and Junjie with weird gazes. They must have thought that we looked similar.Well, now everyone knows the truth. Good thing Eli is helping me to answer their questions.
When the question session was over, we drove to the Shane Hideout. During the journey, I could not stop looking at Junjie, who was amazed at everything he saw. I found him adorable like that. We parked our vehicles in the garage and I was relieved that all of our six mecha-beasts were able to fit in. Later, we entered the living room and we sat down.
“Okay, Wen Jing. Tell us the truth,” Eli sounded like he was demanding me.
I took a deep breath and started to tell the truth. “Okay, remember that I told you that I'm from the Surface? That's true but... I didn't tell you the entire story. My family and I were from an Eastern country, that's why, Eli, that I said I came from a place far, far away from yours, and this is why we never met each other before back there. Since we were from the East, when we went down to Slugterra, we went to the Eastern Realms.”
“That explains now,” Eli said, “I thought you are a Chinese immigrant in the US.”
Kord, Trixie, Pronto and Junjie pulled out their puzzled faces. “I will explain later,” Eli told them. I continued the story.
“Once we arrived at the Eastern Realms, we closed the Drop and started living there, in a peaceful cavern quite far from others. I will love to talk about how I started slugslinging but that will make the story too long so that will be another story. As you know, life was good there – better than now or at the Surface, until the Goon and his army came to my home cavern. All of my people, including my master, my family and I, were lucky enough to escape.”
“How did you escape?” Eli questioned.
“The Shadow Clans helped us. My master spoke their language. They took us to a safe place and opened a terraportal for us to escape to the 99 Caverns,” I explained.
“And that's how you ended up here,” Eli concluded with a smile.
“Yeah,” I replied gloomily.
“This is all my fault,” Junjie said, his tone was full of regret, “I have failed you and your people. Bringing disgrace to you. I cannot apologize enough. I should not be forgiven.”
“No, you did not, Junjie,” I said. Then, I realized something that he had said. “Uh, what do you mean 'bringing disgrace to me'?” I asked.
“Your hair is cut short, which means you are punished for failing to protect your home cavern and you are exiled from my home, all because of the Goon had mind-controlled me,” Junjie explained.
“Uh, you are mistaken, Junjie,” I told him, “I like short hair. I have it since I was ten.”
“So... you disgrace yourself?” he asked in shock.
“WHAT?!” I yelled and stood up abruptly. “Look, I choose this hairstyle because it's easier for me, especially when I'm fighting! Tying my hair is a waste of time! And what happens when your hair falls out? Life is difficult like that so I choose short hair! What does short hair have to do with disgrace? My family has short hair and so do I! I choose this path so DEAL WITH IT!!!”
Everyone in the room froze. I realized, once again, I made another bad impression in front of Junjie.
“GAH!!! I have disgraced myself and I should not be forgiven!” I shouted and stormed out of the living room.
I went into the garage and examined my mecha-beast. I stared at the scratches on its claws and sighed.I should use a whitening toothpaste once I get back home.
I thought and started to climb onto Xiaohu.
“Wait, Wen Jing!” a voice called out. I turned around to see Junjie standing at the door. I let my feet touched the floor and faced him. “Forgive me that I have accidentally insulted you,” he apologized, “I did not mean to-”
“It's okay, Junjie,” I said, interrupting him. I calmed myself down before I continued. “My friends used to ask me that too. They had the same thought as you. I forgot that our traditions are different, so you won't understand.” I sighed again and added, “Of course I have disgraced myself twice. I should not be forgiven.”
“To be honest, Wen Jing, I have disgraced myself too, and it is worse than yours. So I should be the one that is not forgiven,” Junjie admitted.
“So, that means we are even then?” I asked.
“You can say that,” he replied.
We looked into each other's eyes again and turned away, feeling a little embarrassed.
“But I forgive you, Junjie,” I said as my left hand rubbed my right arm, “it wasn't your fault that our home was destroyed – it was the Goon. And we will get him someday.”
My eyeballs rolled to the corners of my eyes and I saw him smiling. His smile was the warmest and sweetest of all. My lips curled into a small smile as I quickly avoided his gaze.
“You know, you remind me of someone,” he said. I turned to face him.
“Who is it?” I asked, slightly nervous of his answer.
“Joo-Joo, my Infurnus,” he replied.
“Your Infurnus?” I questioned in a surprised tone.
“Yes,” he answered with a smile, “he is just like you – very emotional and hot-tempered. Even though I train him to be calm and disciplined, he will still go berserk when something or somebody keeps annoying him.” He let out a sigh. “The Goon must have made me shoot him. I hope he is safe,” he added sadly.
“Don't worry, Junjie. Joo-Joo will be safe. Even in this new world, he can still find a way back to you,” I comforted him as I placed my right hand on his shoulders. Our eyes met again.
All of a sudden, I heard a faint knocking sound. It sounded like it was coming from the front door, but nobody seemed to notice it despite it had been going for ages.
“Uh, Junjie, I think I'm hearing something,” I said and exited the garage.
“Wen Jing!” Junjie called out and chased after me to the living room. Unbeknown to us, the Shane Gang were hiding close to the door that we had entered and exited the garage. They were eavesdropping on our conversation.
“I think I know what's happening to them,” Eli muttered and smirked.
“That Junjie has an Infurnus?” Pronto guessed cheerfully.
“No, Pronto!” Eli was slightly annoyed. “They have something for each other. Like... a feeling, a strong feeling.”
“Oh... now you're talking,” Kord commented and smiled.
“But what if it is just... friendship?” Trixie questioned. “Remember Junjie said that Wen Jing looked familiar? What if they were childhood friends in the past? And now just old friends?”
“I don't know,” Eli replied, “but what I do
know it that this is NOT the typical Wen Jing we know. Usually she is brave and confident, or just being quiet and serious. She is still hot-headed, but it seems now that she is able to calm herself down faster, unlike the last time when Junjie was not around. Plus, do you notice that she is becoming shy and nice to Junjie? She must have something for him.”
The knocking sound was getting louder and it sounded like the visitor was getting more and more frustrated.
“I'll get it!” Eli shouted and ran toward the front door. When he was about to reach the door, the knocking stopped. Junjie and I were already at the door.
I opened it and looked around the surroundings but nobody was present. I heard a gulp and my head moved down. A light orange slug was standing in front of me and its eyes were looking at me. It looked nervous. Some parts of its body was dusty.
“Joo-Joo!” Junjie exclaimed happily and placed his right palm for his Infurnus to hop on. “I am so glad you are safe.” He rubbed Joo-Joo on his head and the little slug grinned.
“真巧，说曹操，曹操就到!” I commented as I watched the reunion of the protector and his Infurnus. Eli just smiled warmly.
“你说得没错,” Junjie replied with a smile.
I chuckled and said, “so, this is Joo-Joo. He looks cute.”
Joo-Joo blushed and Junjie laughed lightly. “Thank you,” Junjie answered. He turned to his Infurnus and said, “Say thank you to her, Joo-Joo.” His Infurnus obeyed and bowed down to me as a sign of thanks.
“You know, I heard him gulped. I think he got so frustrated that nobody opened the door for him that he was about to burn down the door with his fire breath. Or blow down the door,” I told Junjie.
“Joo-Joo, were you going to burn down the door?” Junjie asked his Infurnus. He raised his eyebrow and smirked as he asked that question. Joo-Joo moaned and avoided his gaze with embarrassment.
“You still cannot change your temper and lack of patience, Joo-Joo. Just like her,” Junjie said and Joo-Joo chirped in a confused tone.
“Her,” Junjie said and Joo-Joo saw me. “Her name is Wen Jing.”
“Hi, Joo-Joo,” I greeted. “I pose no threat to you and your owner. I am a friend.” I heard a chirp and realized Glace, who was inside a slug tube on my bandolier that was strapped on my chest, wanted to meet Joo-Joo. She hopped onto my right palm and I showed her to Junjie and Joo-Joo.
“This is Glace. She is a Hiverphin, and a Mega Morph like Joo-Joo,” I introduced her. Glace bowed down to them. “Well, maybe,” I added. Junjie was a Slug Fu Master, that would mean all of his slugs, including Joo-Joo knew Slug Fu. I never learnt Slug Fu and I never taught my slugs about it.
Glace and Joo-Joo gasped when they saw each other. Then they started talking like they were old friends being reunited. We decided to give them some space so we placed them on a white table in the living room.
“I had a Hiverphin before,” Junjie started, “one of my friends gave it to me. He told me that nobody could control the wild slug. It would not trust anybody. I tried to control it using Slug Fu but failed. Then, it ran away by itself.”
The memory of the slug seller popped into my head. “That's strange. The slug I gave you never trusted anyone, that's why nobody ever bought her. But it seems that it trusts you,” he said to me when I bought Glace.
I remembered the storybook my slugs made for my sixteenth birthday. The story was mainly written by Glace. There were two pages she wrote like this:Everybody called me a wild slug. So rebellious that I refused to obey every of their commands. I was then sent to be trained by the greatest protector of the Eastern Realms – Junjie. His name meant 'hero', 'a person of exceptional ability' or 'a person of outstanding talent'. He carried the greatest honour and pride that every Slinger wished to have. He taught all of his slugs the ancient and mysterious art of Slug Fu, including his Infurnus, Joo-Joo.
I learnt some Slug Fu from him, but when he tried to use Slug Fu on me, I, as stubborn as always, did not listen to him. No matter how hard he tried, I just won't listen. I did not trust anybody – it was so difficult. Moreover, I found Slug Fu was a burden to me – listening to commands and obeying like a puppet was not my idea. I wanted freedom. When Junjie and his slugs were not paying attention on me, I made my move and ran away. I never looked back. I just kept going somewhere far, somewhere different. I never went back. The past was in the past.
Another three pages were written like this:I had no idea how long had I been gone. I had lost track of time. I ended up in a slug sale but nobody bought me. There were three reasons for that: Firstly, I am an extremely rare, so many people do not know about me. Secondly, I did not trust anyone. Thirdly, I looked moody all the time. On that fateful day, I met a teenage girl who did not look like a pure Chinese at all. In fact, she did not look like an Eastern person at all! She was... different... in a good way.
She picked me and somehow, like magic, I immediately trusted her. I bowed down to her politely. Unlike any slingers I knew, she gave me a name once she got me. She named me 'Glace', a French word which meant 'ice', and the name was close to 'grace' due to my first impression I made for her. I became a present for her fourteenth birthday. I was the first slug to join her team. Then, her uncle bought her a Flaringo as another present for her. She named it 'Huohuo' (火火), which meant 'fire' in Mandarin Chinese.
Huohuo and I found out that our new owner's name was Wen Jing. She bought us home and she had a nice house. When I noticed the calendar, I realized that it had been about five years since I ran away from Junjie. …...Five years when I was fourteen years old... so now it has been seven years. But how old is Junjie actually?
“My slugs wrote a storybook for me, which includes their pasts before they met me. My Hiverphin Glace wrote that she used to be trained by you before she ran away. She ended in a slug sale and I bought her,” I explained to Junjie. “She was a present for my fourteenth birthday, and that time she had run away for five years. So, that means now it has been seven years. But then... how old are you now, Junjie?”
“When the Goon took control of me, I was seventeen years old. Now I am twenty-four years old. However, because of the Goon, I remain the same appearance as I was being controlled,” Junjie explained.
“So that means you are going to look younger than your actual age forever?” Eli asked.
“Well, he can still grow. When he was controlled by the Goon, it inhibited his growth. Now he has returned to normal, but he will always look seven years younger,” I explained.
“That is so cool!” Eli exclaimed.
“Well, you have it too, Eli,” I noted to him. “You got controlled by the Goon, but only for a while.”
“Well, to be honest, I like being younger,” Junjie said.
“Everybody loves to be young, Junjie,” I replied, “And I am sixteen, a year older than Eli.”
“So basically, we are all young,” Eli blurted out.
“Seven years younger is good, but not for seven years without bathing!” I exclaimed and made a disgusted expression to Junjie. “You and your slugs better take a bath.”
“You are right,” Junjie said after looking at his dirty armour and the dusty Joo-Joo on the table.
“Maybe I can... help you... bathe your slugs?” I asked, feeling shy.
“Sure, why not?” Junjie answered with a smile and he went to gather his slugs. I went to get a basin and filled it with water. Eli gave me a sponge, a bar of soap and a towel. My Lavalynx, Rongyan hopped into the basin. He used his protoform ability and generate heat like a small furnace. I dipped a finger into the water and it was warm now.
Junjie gathered all of his slugs and he gently placed them into the water. Joo-Joo disliked the water and he started complaining. Junjie calmed him down as I wore a pair of artificial rubber gloves. After that, Eli went to give Junjie a new room. He also got a towel and some toiletries for the new member of the team.
I cleaned the slugs with a bar of soap, which made the basin filled with suds. My Bubbaleone, Paomo blew some bubbles for them to play. Then, I used a sponge to make sure they were cleaned evenly. When I finished cleaning each slug, I rinsed each of them with running water from the sink in the kitchen. After that, I wiped them clean with a towel. My Tormato, Taifeng blew a small jet of air like a hairdryer to them to dry them. A hour had passed and all of Junjie's slugs were clean. After I cleaned up the place, I decided to check Junjie out. Eli told me where his room was and I knocked on the door.
“Junjie, it's me, Wen Jing. May I come in?” I asked politely.
I heard the door unlocked and it creaked open. Junjie popped his head to see me. “Uh... Wen Jing...” he muttered, “My clothes are still wet, and I had a bath just now...” His eyes rolled to one side to avoid my gaze.
“It's okay, Junjie. I am fine with it,” I said quietly to him. My grandfather sometimes only wore pants in the house, so it was fine with me... I thought.
“Oh, okay. Come in,” he replied and let me in. We sat on his bed. Junjie had also finished cleaning up. He had a towel covered his bottom part of his body and he was rubbing his long black hair with another towel. As I had expected, he had a well-built torso and slightly muscular arms.Oh no, he is totally handsome.
I thought and I could not stop looking at him. I gulped.
“You look handsome, Junjie,” I remarked without thinking. I gasped and realized Junjie was staring at me. I blushed.
“Thank you for your compliment, Wen Jing,” he replied with a warm smile. I smiled back shyly.
“I notice your blaster, Wen Jing. Those are wrist blasters,” he said. “Only a Slug Fu Master is worthy enough to wear a wrist blaster.”
“Really?” I asked as I looked at my blasters. “I always thought they are just hand blasters.”
“They are not just ordinary hand blasters. If you wield a wrist blaster, you are a Slug Fu Master,” he explained.
“But I never learn Slug Fu from my master. He said that I was not ready yet,” I said sadly.
“Who is your master?” he asked.
“Master Wu,” I answered.
He gasped a little. “Master Wu was one of the greatest slugslinger and Slug Fu Master in the Eastern Realms before he retired. He is your master?” he asked.
, actually,” I corrected him. “He has gone to a better place.”
“I am very sorry for the tragic loss of your master,” he replied. “But I am sure that he must have taught you Slug Fu in secrecy. Maybe you did not notice it.”
Then I remembered the sentence that Master Wu had told me. “A master like me, but younger in terms of age, will come to your aid and teach you what you always want. Most of all, the master would be more than your teacher,” he said.
“Well, my master said I will be ready when my new master arrive,” I said. For an instance, I realized that Junjie was a Slug Fu Master, but younger than Master Wu. I looked at him and asked, “Is it... you?”
“Well, I am a young master. I will love to see your skills first,” Junjie replied then added, “I think you have an amazing potential in doing it.”
“Maybe,” I mumbled in dismay.
“I am sure you are,” he assured me and placed his hand on my shoulder. We stared into each other's eyes again.
My eyes landed on a clock on the bedside table and it showed 6.30 pm.
“Uh, Junjie, I need to go home now,” I said, “my family might be waiting for me.”
“Okay then, goodbye,” he said. I waved to him and exited his room. I called all of my slugs and they went back to their respective slug tubes on my bandoliers and backpack. I did not notice that Eli and his friends were spying on us again.
“I think I just got a brilliant idea,” Eli said and ran toward me.
I went into the garage and opened the garage door. Then, I sat on Xiaohu and activated my vehicle.
“Hey, Wen Jing!” Eli shouted as he ran into the garage. I turned to him. “Could you tell your family that we are visiting your home cavern for a day? They won't mind, right?” he asked.
“I will try. I will call you for the answer tonight,” I replied. Eli grinned.
I drove my vehicle out of the hideout and I returned home a few minutes later. Once I parked Xiaohu in the garage, I went into my room and took a bath. When I finished drying my hair, it was 7.15 pm. I decided to take a break and rested on my bed. I kept thinking what had happened today... and Junjie. When I was having dinner with my family, I was unusually quiet.
“今天怎样？好不好玩?” Aunt Swien asked me, trying to break the silence.
“还好，阿姨。有遇到一些坏人，但我们轻易地打败了他们,” I answered. I only told her the battle between the Scrap Force in Caverna Mall. I planned not to tell them and anyone in my cavern the entire truth. I did not want to tell them about the Goon's arrival and Junjie as the Dark Slinger. I did not want to bring panic to everyone.
“哦，阿姨，明天我的朋友们要来拜访我们的家一天。可以吗?” I questioned Aunt Swien.
“这个啊...” she muttered.
“可以呀！很久没有人来拜访我们了，而且只是一天罢了,” Aunt Agnes stated and then she asked Aunt Swien, “对不对?”
“好吧，可以啦,” Aunt Swien sighed.
After dinner, I went back to my room. I used my smartphone and called Eli. “Hello, Eli, this is Wen Jing,” I greeted.
“Oh, hi, Wen Jing,” Eli greeted back. “So, what did your aunt say?” he asked.
“My aunt says yes,” I answered.
“Sweet,” Eli exclaimed, “See you tomorrow, then. Bye.”
“Bye,” I said and we ended our call.
I placed my phone on my cupboard and went to brush my teeth. After that, I took out my art book from the drawer of my desk. I held a pencil and started drawing. I had no idea why I drew Junjie on an entire paper. Glace pulled out a smile. She seemed to know what I was thinking. I drew until I got tired. I placed my art book back to the drawer and turned my phone off. When I changed into my pajamas, my slugs were already prepared to sleep. We laid on our beds. My slugs quickly drifted into their dreams. I, on the other hand, could not sleep. My mind kept repeating the moments that I had with Junjie.
Back at the Shane Hideout, Junjie was trying to adjust to his new life. He was fine. When it was time to sleep, everyone could sleep soundly, including the slugs. But not for Junjie. He could not sleep either. He kept thinking about what had happened today... and me.