Dream Weaver - Book 3 of Wizard - a Love Story
Chapter 11: Demonstration & Football

Copyright© 2013 by MisguidedChild

The Coach was even happier with Thursday's practice. He worked with the offense and Sean worked with the defense. The scrimmage at the end of practice was better than Coach Strom had any right to expect. Both the defense and the offense were working well. AJ was working well as the quarterback and he was already developing an affinity with the rest of the backfield. The coach didn't have a lot of hope for the first game, but the season was beginning to look like it wouldn't be a total disaster.

Friday started with the traditional mass confusion, exacerbated by holding the first Pep Rally for the year. The gym was packed as the students and administration prepared for the pep rally. Gym mats were being moved into position in the center of the gym.

"What are the mats for," Sean asked curiously.

"Uh, for the demonstration," Mr. Casey explained uncertainly. He thought it was pretty obvious.

"Cool," Bell said in appreciation. "Lian doesn't let us use mats at home."

"If you are attacked, no one will put mats down before you need to defend yourself," Lian said sternly. She looked around and saw a big man in a Gi, and recognized that he was probably the expert. "You may use the mats today. The expert may need them," she conceded.

Mr. Casey winced. He had emptied more than a couple of six packs in the company of Clarence Stanwood and Ted Miller. They had been fishing buddies for several years. He wondered, briefly, if he should warn his friend. Then he chuckled to himself and decided to watch the show.

Mr. Stanwood briefly talked to the man in the Gi, then walked with him to their little group.

"Good morning, Miss Chin," Mr. Stanwood said in greeting when he approached them. "I would like to introduce you to Ted Miller. Ted is the owner and sensei of the Dragon Karate Center." Turning to the large man in the Gi, Mr. Stanwood said, "Ted, this is Miss Lian Chin. She has offered to teach some of our students how to defend themselves."

"Good morning, Miss Chin," Ted Miller said with a slight bow to Lian. "It is my pleasure to meet you. " he said. His voice was very respectful and had a deep, calm, restful timbre.

"I am honored, Sir," Lian replied with a slight bow of her own.

"My understanding is that I am supposed to evaluate your capability to teach self defense," Ted said, almost as a question with the inflection in his voice.

"My, um, my discipline does not have certifications or belts for levels," Lian explained. "Apparently this..." Lian looked around as if searching for a word.

"School, Lian," Sean said drily. "It's a school."

"Apparently this school has a requirement for a public certification," Lian explained as if Sean hadn't spoken.

"That is my understanding, too," Ted said, smiling slightly. "May I ask, how you determine the level of training in your discipline?"

"My discipline only has two levels, student and master," Lian said.

"Okay, but, how do you determine when a student is ready to advance to be a master?" Ted asked curiously. He had never heard of a martial arts discipline that operated like this.

"They advance when I say they are ready," Lian said. Her tone of voice made her sound like she was wondering if she was talking to an idiot.

"Okay," Ted said again, even more thoughtfully. "Is that how other masters deal with their students, too?"

"Currently, there are two masters in the world. One is my assistant and I trained her," Lian stated.

"How can a discipline only have two masters? Who trained you and named you a master? Didn't your master train anyone else?" Ted asked, beginning to show the first signs of agitation. The questions tumbled out as if he had lost control of them.

"My master named me as a master. He also named two others as masters. The other two are no longer living," Lian said, sternly. "I sense your doubt in my training, and the training of my students," Lian continued. "I believe that you will be sparring with one of my students today. Is that correct?"

Ted paused to collect himself before answering. "I apologize, Miss Chin," Ted said bowing deeper. "Doubting you or your training was not my intention, nor my goal. I was asked to come today, to evaluate a fighting style that I am not familiar with. I was simply attempting to learn more about your discipline. And yes, my understanding is that I would participate in a demonstration bout with one of your students."

"You doubt my discipline because we don't invite every Tom, Dick, and Mary to train with us," Lian said sharply, the accusation clear in her words.

"Harry, not Mary," Megan said softly. "It's supposed to be: 'every Tom, Dick, and Harry'," she said softly.

Lian slowly turned her head and glared at Megan before turning back Ted.

"Yes, you will have a demonstration bout, with her," Lian said, pointing at Megan. "I have instructed her not to kill you, or even hurt you," Lian announced.

"What?" Ted barked in astonishment.

"I do not train my students to play," Lian said sternly, drawing herself up to her full height of just under five feet. "However, there are times when control must be established without excessively damaging your opponent. Capturing an opponent for interrogation is an example of that need. Therefore, today will be part of her testing for master status."

Ted Miller was stunned by what he had just been told. Martial arts disciplines that he was acquainted with focused on self control. Instructing a student not to kill him or hurt him was ... preposterous.

"How long did you say your particular discipline as been in existence?" Ted asked tightly.

"I did not say," Lian said just as tightly. "But, I can name every Master for the last three thousand years. There was a..." She pursued her lips as if biting into a lemon before continuing. "A disagreement..." Lian said, nodding to herself. "There was a disagreement about a thousand years before your calendar was started that disrupted our line of succession," she concluded, almost apologetically, but certainly embarrassed by the admission.

Ted could only stare at her for a moment, almost disbelievingly, before bowing low.

"I will base my judgment on the sparring," Ted said gravely.

Lian only nodded her head in agreement before Ted walked away.

Ten minutes later, the six teens filed onto the mats to begin their self defense demonstrations. Mr. Casey introduced the teens, and explained why they were in front of the crowd.

"As you know, our school, and our district, has been plagued by bullying," Mr. Casey began. "I guess every school has a problem with bullies, to an extent. Our school district has a zero tolerance policy concerning bullying. Every school district that I know of has similar regulations. Our high school is going one step farther. We plan on offering some self defense courses after school. This will be for the students that want to take the classes and their parents must agree. There will be no cost to the students or the district. The instructors time for the training will be donated to the district."

Applause and cheers broke out among the students, and Mr. Casey held up his hands to quiet the crowd.

"What we are going to do today," Mr. Casey continued after the cheering faded enough to be heard, "is give a brief demonstration of some of the self defense abilities that will be taught in the classes. Then, there will be a sparring match between one of the Miss Chin's students, and Sensei Ted Miller from the Dragon Karate Center in downtown Prescott."

Cheers broke out at Ted Miller's name. Obviously, some of the students attended his dojo.

Mr. Casey held up a hand to quiet the crowd before saying, "And lastly, there will be a sparring match between the instructor for the after school class, and one of her students."

There wasn't any cheering from the last announcement, but the crowd of students buzzed with excitement.

Mr. Casey flipped pages on his clipboard to get to the page with the order and description of the demonstrations. They had talked about the different scenarios that bullying occurred and were trying to duplicate them in the demonstration.

"Settle down," Mr. Casey ordered after he found his place in his papers. "Each scenario will be executed two times. The first time will be slow speed. The second time will be full speed. There will be six scenarios in this set. First up, AJ Begay will attack Bell Sandoval."

There were good natured boos at AJ's name and cheering at Bell's name. AJ raised his hands over his head and clasped them as if he was a prize fighter. The cheering and boos deteriorated into laughter. Mr. Casey shook his head in exaggerated resignation and the laughter grew.

Mr. Casey raised his hand for quiet again and, after a moment, asked, "How many of you have seen a bully grab a smaller kid from behind? Hands please." He was a little startled at the number of hands that were raised, but he continued by saying, "That is the theme of the first set of scenarios. These techniques should not be practiced without training," he warned somberly. "My understanding is that your classmates have been training with these techniques for several years. Trying them without training could result in injury. Okay, let's get started," he said before stepping to the side.

Bell and AJ stepped to the center of the mats. AJ stood behind Bell for a moment before stepping forward and grabbing her arms from behind. Bell slowly twisted, bringing one knee up. She was about half twisted in AJ's grip before her knee started descending. Her foot hit his leg below his knee, and pushed his leg away. At the same time she pulled her arms close to her body, trapping his fingers against her body. Her head rotated so the side of the back of her head hit his chin. Her head hit his chin at the same moment her foot connected with his leg. The top of his body was pushed in one direction. The bottom of his body was pushed in the opposite direction. Once AJ's body started rotating slightly, Bell twisted in his grasp, using an elbow in the process to encourage the continued rotation. She continued twisting, locking his hand against her body on the off side, and releasing the other. He was falling before she was completely twisted and Bell released his remaining hand. As he fell, the girl followed him down, her hand opened, striking at his chest.

It was all in slow motion and the observing student body seemed to hold their breath until the demonstration was completed. It was like a massive sigh as she completed the strike with AJ on the ground.

Bell and AJ stood and Bell called so everyone could hear, "Now, we'll do it at full speed."

They got back in position and the students seemed to hold their collective breaths again. AJ grabbed Bell's arms. The sound of AJ slamming into the mat and Bell's flat hand hitting his chest caused about half the student body to jump in their seats. Excited whispering broke out in the crowd of students.

"Damn, she's fast," Ted Miller muttered.

Lian was standing a few steps away and she nodded.

"She is one of my junior students," Lian explained with a smile. "She may reach master status one day. AJ, Lilly, and Scott are the other junior students," she said, pointing to each one as she said their names.

"Where does the girl that I'll be sparring with place?" Ted asked curiously.

"Megan will be a master within another year or two. The only student that is better, is Sean. He is ready now, except that he doesn't believe he is ready," Lian said.

"You have a student that has said he wasn't ready to advance?" Ted asked, surprised. Most students were chomping at the bit to move up a level.

"He doesn't say that, and I don't ask," Lian said, frowning slightly. It was an attitude that she was familiar with. It was common for students that fought for colored belts. "He doesn't have the confidence in himself to advance. He will gain that, in time."

The rest of the demonstrations followed a similar format, until each couple had demonstrated two scenarios. Mr. Casey walked back to the front of the mats after the last demonstration was finished. He held one hand out towards the six teens as they bowed to the crowd, and the crowd cheered.

"Okay, okay," Mr. Casey called smiling. "That gives you an idea of what will be taught in the classes. Miss Remington will be collecting names for the classes. Next, Sensei Miller will spar with Megan Cavalla."

Mr. Casey stepped back to the side of the mat and watched as Ted and Megan walked to the center of the mat. Standing next to each other, the size difference between Megan and the Sensei was greater than he realized. Ted was six foot four inches, and weighed about two hundred twenty pounds. Megan might be five foot, and would be lucky to tip the scales over one hundred pounds. He was suddenly worried.

Mr. Stanwood stepped up beside Mr. Casey and grabbed his arm.

"We've got to stop this," the principal said quietly, but urgently.

Lian looked around Mr. Casey and asked, "Why do you want it stopped? I told her not to hurt him."

"But ... but..." Mr. Stanwood sputtered.

"Don't worry," Lian said, interrupting his effort to find words to respond. "Your expert won't be hurt," Lian said dismissively before turning back to the mat.

Mr. Stanwood could only sputter in frustration and worry over what would happen next.

Ted Miller bowed to Megan.

Megan cocked her head and tried to mimic his bow, while watching the bigger man closely.

"Why do you do that?" Megan asked curiously.

"Do what?" Ted asked.

"Bow like that," Megan said.

"It's a show of respect for your opponent," Ted answered. "Doesn't your, umm, your discipline require respect for your opponent?" he asked.

"That doesn't even make sense," Megan said shaking her head. "Isn't the goal to kill your opponent?"

"It's a sport!" Ted objected.

"It's survival," Megan said sternly. "Let's get this finished so I can get to class," she said in disgust. She hadn't realized how martial arts disciplines had been subverted by political correctness.

"Start," Lian barked.

Megan stepped forward and slapped Ted's hand in one direction then grabbed it with the other hand as it moved back into position. She twisted the hand while sliding to one side. She kicked the back of his knee as she was sliding, causing him to drop to one knee. Continuing around, and twisting his wrist, she hooked her knee over his neck, and rode him to the mat. She twisted the wrist, causing Ted to cry out and slap his other hand to the mat.

"Break," Lian barked, from the edge of the mat.

Megan released the sensei and rolled to her feet before backing away.

The crowd of students were buzzing with startled excitement.

"Ready," Lian barked.

Megan nodded.

Ted got back to his feet eyeing Megan warily. He was rubbing his wrist and then shook his hands as if trying to get feeling back into them.

"You're quick," he said, before nodding.

"Start," Lian barked.

Megan darted forward. Ted struck with a flat hand strike at Megan's chest. Megan seemed to snatch the wrist coming towards her out of the air. It reached her, but the top part of her body was already going backwards, so there was no impact. She leaned back, holding his hand, and leapt into the air. Her legs wrapped around his arm with one foot hooked on the back of his neck. Ted had no choice but to drop, face first on the mat, with his arm being twisted. He slapped the mat with his free arm.

"Break," Lian barked.

Megan released his arm and rolled away before standing again.

Ted said, "So, your discipline is primarily jujitsu and wrestling moves," as he climbed to his feet.

"Oh, no," Megan said. "Lian warned me not to hurt you so I'm only using techniques that won't really hurt you."

"Oh," Ted said, startled that he wasn't even seeing this little girl's full repertoire.

"There are a few strikes that don't cause permanent damage but they do temporarily paralyze," Megan said as if she were explaining that fire was hot. "I could use one of those if you want," she said, sounding hopeful, almost eager.

"Okay." Ted said uncertainly. "I guess that's okay."

"Ready," Lian barked.

Megan nodded.

Ted glanced at Lian before looking back at her student and nodding too. He took a deep breath and focused.

"Begin," Lian barked.

Ted blocked a flurry of hits and kicks easily, at first. One of his blocks seemed to be slightly off, and small knuckles grazed his right elbow. His hand, wrist, and lower arm to his elbow went limp, as if it all the tendons had been cut. He flinched and moved to protect his injured side, and a kick seemed to graze his knee. Ted's leg seemed to fold of its own accord because he could no longer feel it. As he fell, another kick hit his other leg, and he found himself lying helplessly on the mat.

The crowd was dead silent, as if the entire student body was holding it's breath.

"Break," Lian barked, before walking onto the mat. "I told you not to hurt him," she said tightly.

The crowd erupted in cheers and yells.

"I didn't," Megan said defensively over the noise of the cheering students. "There's no permanent damage. We talked about it and he wanted to see something beside just take downs. I told him that it would cause temporary paralysis and he said okay."

"You know that decisions made in ignorance do not count," Lian scolded as she squatted beside the sensei and grabbed his leg. She started briskly rubbing his knee.

"Damn," Ted said under his breath.

Lian continued rubbing and muttering in Chinese under her breath.

"What?" Ted asked.

"I said," Lian angrily said, as she stopped rubbing, and reached for the other leg, "that I should have been a hermit, or a stone mason, or a fisher person."

"Now, Lian," Megan said, grinning. "You can't fish worth a darn, and the only thing with stone that you have enough patience to do, is to break it into small pieces."

"Maybe I should wish you had done something else, too," Ted said with a grimace when Lian started rubbing the other leg briskly.

"If you agreed without knowing what you were agreeing to, then you deserve what happened," Lian said angrily as she straightened. "Move your legs," she ordered.

Ted moved his legs, as ordered, and said, "They still tingle, as if they were asleep."

Lian nodded and said, "They will feel strange for five or six minutes, but you should be able to walk."

"How about my arm?" Ted asked, holding up an arm that was limp from the elbow down.

"I'll fix it," Megan said, rubbing his elbow briskly.

Her rubbing didn't really have an effect on the arm. Delving into Ted's arm with healing allowed Megan to release the blocks on the nerves to allow the arm to operate normally again. Lian had done the same thing for his legs.

Ted flexed his arm for a moment before asking, "If you hadn't rubbed it, how long would they have been paralyzed?"

Lian shrugged and said, "An hour, maybe two."

"Well, I'm a believer," Ted said as he climbed to his feet.

Lian and Megan also stood, facing the sensei.

"I have no qualms signing documentation that you are qualified to teach the classes. I may even attend a couple myself. It has been my honor," Ted said, as he bowed low to Lian. He turned to Megan and bowing again, but not as low, said, "Thank you for the instruction."

"No problem," Megan said with a smile as she bowed in return.

Mr. Casey met his friend as he walked off the mat and asked, "Are you alright, Ted?"

"I'm fine, Brent," Ted said, laughing a little shakily. "It's been a long time since I was taken down that easily."

"Weren't you trying to go easy on her?" Mr. Casey asked.

"I didn't have a chance to go easy on her," Ted said shaking his head. "I was going to, but she took me down before I could do anything. The second time, I was more focused, but still couldn't stop her. The third time..." he shook his head, chuckling. "The third time she just plain cleaned my clock!"

"Go sit down," Mr. Casey said as he steadied his wobbly friend. "I've got to announce the last demonstration."

"I'll be interested in watching this one," Ted said. "Lian told me the little girl that I sparred with would be ready to be a Master in another year. She said this Sean kid is ready to be a Master, now, but he doesn't trust himself enough yet ... or something like that. This should be a fun match to watch."

"Yeah, well, I'm beginning to doubt if this is such a good idea," Mr. Casey wondered.

Ted grabbed his arm and said, "This is a good idea, Brent. Giving these kids a way to fight back is a good thing. You can't protect them all the time. The only alternative is to make them feel good about themselves. Giving them a way to have some control over their lives, and giving them a way to fight back, will do that."

"I know, I know," Mr. Casey said shaking his head. "But, when this gets out, the do-gooders are going to tear me, Clarence, and this school, new assholes."

Ted squared his shoulders and said, "Let me handle that part. You two have more friends in this town than you know. The changes over the last couple of years have been noticed. I have a few friends around, too. We'll back you. I'll start organizing. You just let me know the first time you get some pushback and we'll take care of it."

"Thanks, Ted," Mr. Casey said before turning and walking back to the mats where Lian, Sean, and Megan were talking. He hadn't been aware of the tendril of air that had carried his conversation to the trio.

"You were right, Sean," Lian said. "This must be done."

"I know," Sean replied with a sigh. "I didn't know how badly it needed to be done, though."

"Don't worry," Megan said brightly. "We can handle anything."

"Your words only demonstrate how much you have yet to learn," Lian said sternly. "This will be a difficult task. I will be the instructor for the classes ... but, the burden is yours!"

"Are we ready to continue?" Mr. Casey asked, interrupting the conversation.

"We are," Lian stated. "I will speak to the students concerning the classes after we are finished."

"Okay," Mr. Casey said slowly, before turning to the crowd in the bleachers. "Quiet, please," he yelled, raising one arm to catch the attention of the students.

The crowd's excited buzzing slowly quieted as students turned toward him expectantly.

"Next," Mr. Casey called, with his arm still raised. "Next," he said again as the crowd quieted. "Next will be a sparring match between the instructor for the classes we have planned, and one of our new students, Sean Flynn."

The buzz in the crowd increased again, but Mr. Casey spoke over it.

"Miss Lian Chin will speak to you about the classes, after the sparring demonstration," Mr. Casey concluded before walking back to take a seat beside Ted.

Lian and Sean stepped to the center of the mat.

"Armor," Lian said quietly before stepping back.

Sean nodded before stepping back.

Both encased themselves in armor made of air. Lian nodded, and both attacked.

"Holy shit!" Ted breathed in awe at the flurry of arms and legs striking.

Many students winced at the sound of flesh cracking against flesh. It was clear that Lian wasn't the only one landing blows. It was also obvious that the blows weren't being pulled because both fighters were staggered when a blow landed. Suddenly, Sean flew through the air and landed on his back, about eight feet away. He was immediately back on his feet, and used the act of rising as another attack. Moments later, Lian flew through the air and landed about six feet away. She landed in a crouch and decompressed like a spring to attack again.

The battle continued through several cycles of one then the other being thrown clear of the fight. Some of the strikes seemed absolutely impossible to Ted. How could a fighter climb an opponent to strike at the opponent's head? How could a fighter flip over an opponent, and have enough leverage left to flip the opponent.

The fight stopped when both fighters flew to opposite corners of the mat.

Lian barked, "Break."

Sean relaxed from obvious preparation to spring at the little Chinese woman again. He nodded and grinned at his teacher.

Lian nodded at her student gravely, but her lips were twitching as they fought a smile of her own when she turned to the stunned students.

The silent, mesmerized crowd suddenly broke into wild cheering. Sean walked over to stand beside Lian and wait for the cheering to stop.

"They're not even breathing hard," Ted said in amazement.

"So, do you think they are pretty good?" Mr. Casey asked quietly.

His friend looked at him incredulously for a moment before saying, "Brent, I can't even figure out how they did some of the things they did. I heard flesh striking flesh so I know they weren't pulling their punches, but I don't know how they were able to strike the way they did. It ... it doesn't make sense. It was almost like some of the things they show on television, except they use cables and stunt doubles in the movies."

Mr. Casey nodded slowly before saying, "There's something different about this little group. I don't know what it is, but some of the things that have happened this week just don't make sense."

"Do you mean, something underhanded?" Ted asked.

"No. Nothing underhanded, and there is no indication that they've done anything bad. At least, the only bad things, have happened to bad kids. In fact, everything seems to be happening to make the school a better place. It's just, umm, strange the way some of the things seem to be happening," Mr. Casey concluded.

Lian raised her hand like Mr. Casey had done to call for quiet. It had no effect on the crowd. Lian called out for quiet, with her hand raised higher, with no change from the crowd.

"Quiet," Lian yelled. The command cracked across the bleachers like a whiplash and the instant silence in the gym was unnerving. It felt like every person there was afraid to even take a breath, for fear of making a noise.

"Thank you," Lian said in satisfaction into the sudden silence. "We will begin Monday, with three classes per week. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, classes will be held after school. Exercises will be assigned between classes. You will be expected to be diligent and practice between classes. You will be expected to work hard. You will be expected to be better than you think you can be. Speak to your minders, umm, your teachers to arrange to be in the classes." Without another word, the little Chinese woman turned and left the gym.

"She sounds pretty tough," Steve Madison said offhandedly as he changed clothes for gym class.

Sean looked around to see who Steve was talking to. He had developed a liking for the small senior during his first week at school. Steve wasn't much taller than Megan, but that didn't mean he was short in the brains department. Steve was very smart and his intuitive grasp of mathematics was spooky.

"Who's sounds tough?" Sean asked.

"Your teacher. The Chinese lady," Steve answered.

"Lian?" Sean asked.

Sean sounded surprised, but he wasn't really. It was the same kind of question, or comment, that he had been receiving all day.

"She can be very tough," Sean said thoughtfully.

He liked and respected Steve, so he didn't try to give him one of the deflecting answers he had perfected during the day.

"She expects one hundred percent effort, one hundred percent of the time," Sean continued. "Some people find it difficult to focus their minds and energy the way she demands."

"What does she teach you?" Steve asked curiously.

"What?" Sean asked, surprised by the question.

No one had asked him that question in a day of questions ranging from, 'can you break boards with your hands?' to 'will you beat up so-n-so for me?'. And those were the questions from the guys! Some of the questions from the girls made him blush. Thankfully, Megan had overheard one of those questions and they had abruptly stopped. Sean wasn't sure why, but girls seemed to steer well clear of him for the rest of the day.

"What does she teach you and Megan?" Steve repeated. "I mean, I know she teaches you how to fight. That was pretty clear, this morning. But, it doesn't make sense that you would have a teacher, brought all the way from China, who only taught you how to fight. So, what else does she teach you."

Sean straightened from tying his shoes and smiled as he said, "She teaches us many things. Fighting is one thing, but the fighting itself is only a means to an end. The purpose behind the fighting is how to focus, and what to focus on." Sean chuckled as he remembered one of the questions he had been asked during the day as he continued. "A person can be the strongest puncher in the world, but if he punches in the wrong place, or at the wrong time, it's just so much wasted effort. You do the same thing."

"What? I don't know how to fight!" Steve exclaimed.

"No, not fighting," Sean agreed. "Part of the purpose of learning to fight, is learning to focus. You know how to focus."

"What do you mean?" Steve asked.

"Well, Physics class today was a good example," Sean said, smiling at his friend. "Most of the people in the class didn't understand the question about mathematical proofs for energy feedback loops. You not only understood the question, and several possible answers. You found sources for other answers, too. You were able to focus everything you have learned in your life, on understanding the question and possible answers. Most people can't do that. They don't have the self discipline."

"So, do you think it would be okay for me to take the self defense class?" Steve asked doubtfully.

"I think it would be more than okay," Sean said, clapping him on the shoulder. "I think you would do well in the class. You would probably convince Lian that the whole project isn't a waste of time."

"What do you mean?" Steve asked.

Sean chuckled as he explained, "Lian calls the teachers and staff, all the way up to the principal, our 'babysitters.' She doesn't have a lot of respect for our school system. She has convinced herself that Megan and I, attending school this year, is a waste of time and dangerous."

"Dangerous! How can it be dangerous?" Steve asked, startled.

"Umm," Sean started. He needed to watch what he said, he reprimanded himself. "She thinks public schools are filled with people like Bob Clancy and she doesn't want us exposed to that type of danger ... or, in her opinion, his corruption."

"Okay," Steve said slowly, considering Sean's words. "So, she teaches you to fight as a means to teach you to focus. Is that all she teaches you?"

"Not at all," Sean said smiling, as they began walking towards the door leading to the field. "She teaches us about history, but from a completely different perspective than what they teach in school. She teaches mathematics, but with a different kind of focus than school uses. Ethics, philosophy, biology, and even a little astronomy. She teaches a lot of things. We have another teacher who's from Ireland. His name is Cory. He teaches some of the same things but from a slightly different perspective, than Lian. He also teaches geology, anthropology, and even the basics of thermodynamics."

"Does he fight too?" Steve asked as they emerged into the sunshine of the football field for their PE class.

"He does, but different from Lian," Sean said. "Do you know what a shillelagh is?"

"Isn't that a walking stick?" Steve asked.

"It can be, but it's also what the Irish use in stick fighting. Cory taught us how fight like that, but it was for the same reasons that Lian taught us how to fight," Sean explained.

"Wow," Steve said softly.

"Line up," Coach Strom yelled. "We'll have a light warm up and then the football team will meet in the locker room to prep for the game."

"Make sure you sign up with Miss Reynolds for the classes," Sean said quietly to Steve before lining up with the other students in the PE class.

Coach Strom blew his whistle before yelling, "Jumping jacks. By the numbers. Ready, exercise."

Thirty minutes later, Coach Strom was drilling the team on plays from the play book. The players were sitting in a semicircle facing the coach. He had determined to keep it simple for the first game and was focusing on three plays. The team they were playing, Ashfork High School, was the winner of the previous year's conference title. They had a good team every year, and the Coach didn't have much confidence of winning the game. His goal was to keep them from being embarrassed. He felt that his fragile team could survive a defeat, but couldn't survive a humiliation. He crossed his fingers and said a silent prayer as he sent the team to suit up for the game.

Coach Strom was worried at the end of the first quarter. The 21 to 7 score could have been a lot worse but the 14 point deficit would be hard to dig out of. The 28 to 14 score at the half time was actually encouraging because their opponents hadn't pulled farther ahead.

Halftime in the locker room was intense. Coach Strom spent the first part of the halftime talking about adjustments to their line on defense and offense. That included some advice for the backfield on how to take better advantage of their line.

Sean nodded to himself. What the coach was saying made a lot of sense, and highlighted how little Sean knew about football.

The coach stopped talking and looked as though he was on the verge of releasing the players so they had a little time to relax before heading back to the field.

Sean stood and said, "Coach, I noticed a few things about the other team that might help."

"Like what?" Coach Strom asked warily.

"Well, I'll start with their offense," Sean said, ignoring the doubt in the coach's voice. "Every offensive running play, is given away by the guy to the right of the center as they face us ... their left guard, I think that would be. If the play is going right, his back foot is canted that direction. If the play is going left, his back foot is canted that direction. A play up the middle and his foot is set straight with the line."

There was silence in the locker room for a moment, before the coach asked, "How about passing plays."

Sean chuckled and said, "His whole stance is more relaxed. He doesn't have to move anyone. All he has to do, is not let anyone by him."

"Anything else?" the coach asked.

Sean nodded and said, "If a pass play is going to the right end, number eighty-five, he always dries his hands as the play gets ready to start. He doesn't do that when he runs fake routes. I don't have anything else on the offense yet."

The coach chuckled and asked, "I assume that means you have something that you want to tell us about their defense?"

The players were chuckling too when Sean said, "Yes, sir. If the line backers stay huddled until our center approaches the line, they are going to rush ... uh ... blitz the quarterback."

"Good, now I'll know when to run," AJ commented drily.

The chuckles from the other players degenerated into laughter.

"I was thinking that it might be a good time for an audible change on the line, to make sure do you run," Sean said over the laughter with a big grin. "Isn't the best time for a running play when they blitz, because there's no one in their backfield to stop you? You can give their guys someone else to chase."

The coach was laughing by now, too, but he asked, "Okay Flynn, anything else?"

"Just one, sir," Sean said, becoming very serious. "We're going to catch up with them in the second half. Once we do, we need to watch out for the defensive tackles. I think they plan on hurting someone bad enough for that person to be taken out of the game if we become a threat to them."

"That's a serious charge, Flynn," the coach said into the instant quiet.

"Yes, sir, it is. I can't prove it," Sean said, "but one of the things I have learned is how to read body language, and a little bit of lip reading. I can't prove it, and wouldn't want to try. All I'm saying is keep an eye on them! Our guys need to be careful."

"And on that serious note, let's get ready to get back to the field," Coach Strom told the team.

The team was filing out of the locker room when the coach stopped beside Sean and asked, "I know you can't prove it, but how sure are you about those defensive tackles?"

"Very sure, Coach," Sean said gravely.

Coach Strom nodded, troubled, and said, "I'll let the refs know that I heard a rumor, and I'll ask them to keep an eye out for unnecessary roughness."

"Thank you, sir," Sean said. "I'll give Aunt Liz and Aunt Sheila a heads up too. If anyone is hurt, they can get to them quick. Maybe they can reduce any long term damage too. They're pretty darn good."

"Good idea. Thanks, Flynn," the Coach said before leaving the locker room himself with Sean right behind him.

Sean wondered when he had been promoted from 'kid' or 'boy, ' to 'Flynn'. He smiled to himself, appreciating the promotion. He didn't feel like he was cheating by using tendrils of air to listen to the other team, because he wasn't telling his team what they were doing. He had hesitated about telling his team about the idiosyncrasies he had noticed in the other team. That hesitation evaporated when he had overhead the conversation about the 'enforcers' not being needed since they were staying ahead. Besides, anyone could see idiosyncrasies if they would just look, and focus.

The second half was very different from the first half.

Their fourteen point deficit was recovered half way through the third quarter. Another touchdown by Ashfork, was immediately answered by Prescott just before the end of the quarter.

The tie game at the beginning of the fourth quarter was a lot better than the Prescott fans had expected. They were excited! The cheer-leaders had the crowd yelling chants urging their team on.

Sean smiled as he listened to the excited crowd behind him. He almost missed the message that was given to the enforcers, to take out Scott. He was switching between the half back and full back positions, depending on the play.

The burly linemen nodded when they received the message. Their body language tensed as they approached the line, and their attention was on the backfield.

"Watch out, Scott," Sean said quietly. "You're the target! They'll try to take you out. They'll try to spear you from opposite sides. I'll armor you like we do when we're sparring."

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