"I'm trying to make lunch, and your mother is not feeling well," Rayden told her. "We don't need you making a lot of noise."
"Not making noise!" Hichan insisted, demonstrating by banging the pot and lid together in what was supposed to be a silent motion. Rayden winced.
"I think you'd better go outside," he said, starting to carry her out.
"No! No!" she squealed, trying to scramble away, but he held firm. They left the kitchen, and he opened the door to the outside.
"Go play," he suggested. "But stay away from the monks."
"Don't like monks," she agreed, scowling. He left the door open but when she immediately tried to scurry back in, he held a finger up as warning. She got the hint, and sat down on the grass, just outside the door. She set her pot and lid down. "No like monks," she said to herself. "No like outside, either."
It was a beautiful sunny day, a touch of wind, a few fluffy clouds scattered overhead. "Bunny!" she exclaimed, as a bunny shaped cloud drifted by. She giggled. "Fish! Clawfish!" she screamed, as the bunny began to resemble a lobster as the cloud pulled itself apart. "Clawfish!"
Cloud or no, she wasn't sticking around here. Getting to her feet, she started running, when a thought suddenly occurred to her. She turned around, grabbed the pot and lid, and then charged off again, as fast as her little legs could carry her.
She ran around the curve of the Temple walls, and then realised that she had run into a group of novice monks, meditating on the hill side. She skidded to a halt. They stared at her, confused, while the leader of the troupe tried to pull their attention back to their studies.
Hichan sat herself down on the grass, a few feet away from the novices. She didn't know that monks could be little, like her. There were some little ones. She waved. They didn't wave back.
"Grandfather?" asked one of the novices. "Why is there a little girl here?"
"Umm," the monk replied, tugging on his ear while trying to come up with a good, reasonable answer. "Ummm."
"It's not that demon Gung keeps going on about, is it?" asked one of the younger boys. "She just looks like a little girl."
"A weird little girl," another chimed in. "Look at her hair!"
Hichan frowned, a hand going to her head. Her hair didn't feel weird.
"She can understand us!" exclaimed another.
"Hey, little girl! What are you doing here?" asked one of the older boys, laughing.
"Live here," Hichan replied, getting to her feet. She pointed at the Temple.
"Girls don't live here. You must be from Xhu Xin," the novice replied.
"No, live here," Hichan insisted. She pointed again at the Temple.
"I think we ought to be going," the elder monk said, suddenly. "Break's over. Let's go work in the courtyard."
"I want to find out where she lives," the novice insisted. "She can't be from the Temple, there aren't any girls here."
"It's not any of our business," the monk insisted. "Come on now, off we go."
Hichan frowned. "Don't go," she yelled, running after them. "No! Play with me!"
Several of the younger novices were all for this, but the leader monk and the older boys herded them off. "She's still following us," one remarked.
The leader sighed. He turned and tried to shoo away the small goddess. "Go! Go home!"
Hichan took exception at this. "No!" she yelled.
"Go home, go on--" The monk suddenly paled and fell to his knees, as did the novice monks, although the boys, being boys, weren't quite as awe-struck as their elder. "Lord Rayden!"
Hichan looked behind her. "Daddy!" She ran and hugged his knees.
He looked down at her. "What did I say about bothering the monks?" he asked.
She went coy. "Me want them play with me," she said.
He picked her up. "They have work to do," he told her. "Right, Shou?"
The monk nodded vigorously.
"No we don't!" cried one of the younger ones. "We were just resting! We can play!"
"Yeah!" chorused the rest of the small boys. The elder ones exchanged oh-no looks.
"Pardon their impudence, Lord Rayden," Shou said, very quickly.
"It's all right." Rayden regarded his daughter. "You want someone to play with?"
She nodded, and clapped her hands.
"Can you give the boys the afternoon off?" he then asked Shou.
"Of course," the monk replied instantly. The boys, even the older ones, cheered.
"Well, then. Looks like you've made some friends," Rayden remarked, setting her down. "But I want you to play nice."
"She couldn't hurt us!" one of the boys exclaimed. Rayden gave him a look.
"You'd be surprised. I'll bring you in for lunch, Hichan, and then you can come back out. Okay?"
"Okay!" she squealed, jumping up and down. There was a flash of light, and Rayden teleported back inside. This display both impressed the boys and worried the monk.
"Come on, let's play by the river!" one of the boys cried. They cheered, and started down the hill, but Hichan was hesitant and lagged behind.
"No want," she yelled after them. "Clawfish! Bad!"
One of the other smaller boys came back. He looked only a little older than she was, maybe about four or five. "I don't like swimming either."
"Me like swimming," she corrected, frowning down towards the river. "No like clawfish."
"There are clawfish?" the boy exclaimed, looking horrified. He ran up the rest of the way, and came to a stop beside her. "My brother says there's leeches."
Hichan wrinkled her nose. Those sounded bad. Then an idea occurred to her. "Play! Box!"
"Box?" the boy asked. "What box?"
"My box!" she exclaimed, as though it was obvious. She tore off at high speed, the boy not far behind, when Shou realised there was one missing.
"Miu!" he yelled. "Where are you going? Where is Lady Hichan?"
"I'm going to play in the box," Miu called back.
Shou grumbled. On the one hand, he'd promised to give the boys the afternoon off. On the other, he couldn't leave them to go after Miu. The older ones had a tendency to dunk the younger ones. And Miu was probably safe with the goddess. He hoped. "Don't go too far!" the monk settled on.
Miu nodded, and ran to catch up with his new friend.
He ran, panting, around the corner of Temple. He was now on Rayden's side of the Temple, which made sense, he supposed.
"Wait up!" he yelled. Hichan slowed down.
"Take too long," she chided.
"Grandfather was talking to me," he explained. She looked sad for him, and then pointed.
He looked to where she was pointing. It was a pile of white sand, held in by a wooden border. The border consisted of four square planks fixed in a rectangle. "My box," she said proudly, taking off her small black shoes. Miu was already barefoot. "Uncle Jax made it. For me. He said..." She frowned, trying to remember what he had told her. It was something important. "He said, keep sand in box."
Miu nodded. It sounded like good advice. "Uncle Jax?" he asked, after stepping forward onto the wooden planks. "I don't have an Uncle Jax."
"No?" she exclaimed, in shock. "That bad."
"Yeah," he agreed, sadly. He had two uncles, but they never made him a box.
Hichan was now sitting in the sand, wriggling her toes in. "Play now?"
Miu looked hesitant, then decided there was no problem. "Okay."
Chan Miu, fearless Shaolin warrior, faced off against his opponent. The crowds were cheering him on, as he prepared to battle to save his Realm.
The Outworld warrior was strong, and tough, but he could beat her. Screaming a battle cry, he leapt at her, but missed and tumbled to the ground. She laughed, and jumped at him, and they rolled several feet before he managed to push her away. "There's no escape," he said to her.
She just laughed at him. Obviously, psyching her out would be harder than he expected, but Miu The Magnificent didn't scare easily. He jumped at her again, and pushed her down. This caught her by surprise, and she started to cry. He backed off. Was this some sort of Outworld trick?
"You're mean!" the female warrior yelled, fiercely.
"I am not!" he retorted.
"Yes you are!"
"No I'm not!"
"No play any more!" she howled.
"You can't back out now!" he yelled, charging her again. This time he hit her hard, and she went flying. The minute she hit the ground, he felt something shock him. Something bright flashed in front of his eyes, and he collapsed.
The next thing Miu The Magnificent saw was Lord Rayden, looking down at him.
"I told you to be careful," the god was saying, to his daughter. Hichan had been crying, there were streaks down her cheeks.
"He started it," she insisted.
"I don't care who started it. He doesn't have any powers, and your lightning can really hurt him." Rayden looked down again. "Oh, Miu, you're awake. Good. Try and sit up."
He helped the boy sit up. "What happened?" Miu asked, groggily.
"You got thunder-shocked," Rayden explained. "You'll be okay in a few minutes. Maybe this was a bad idea, letting you two play together."
"No!" Hichan squealed, tugging on his sleeve. "No! I good, I good!"
He harumphed. "Okay, but no more fighting games. Just play in the sandbox for a bit--" he suddenly tilted his head as though he was listening to someone talking far away. Miu strained, but couldn't hear anything. "Hichan, it's time for lunch."
"Don't want," Hichan grumbled.
Rayden helped Miu to his feet. "You've got to go back with the other boys, now. Hichan has to come inside."
"Don't want!" she yelled. He gave her a look and she scowled.
"Bye, Hichan," Miu said, waving, as he started off. He didn't want to disobey Lord Rayden, even if Hichan felt okay about it. "Have a good lunch!"
"No want," Hichan muttered. "Want play!"
"I know you do," Rayden sighed, picking her up, against her protests. "But you've got to eat."
"No!" she yelled, fussing.
"Hichan, settle down. Settle down or you can have a nap for rest of the afternoon," he threatened. She quieted down, although she made sure he knew she wasn't happy about it.
"You're quiet today," Hiko observed, as Hichan finished up her meal. "You haven't said two words."
"Two words!" she repeated, glancing angrily at Rayden. Hiko laughed.
"She's definitely got your sense of humour," she remarked to her husband, playfully. "I don't know whether that's a good thing or not." Rayden didn't reply.
Hichan took her tumbler and pulled it forward, spilling it in the process. She started to cry, before the mess disappeared in an orange haze. "Don't worry about it," Hiko said, tipping the cup back up. "I'll get you another one."
"No," Hichan said, suddenly. Her mother looked at her with a raised eyebrow.
"Me want to go outside," Hichan clarified. She looked to her father. "Please?"
He sighed. "Okay. But don't hurt any of them, again."
"What?" Hiko exclaimed. "What are you talking about?" Before Rayden could tell her, Hichan scooted off her chair and darted out of the kitchen.
"Miu!" she cried. "Miu! Me back! Where you? Miu!" Her friend was no where in sight. She ran to the edge of the hill and looked down, but the other boys were gone as well. "Miu!"
She looked towards the Temple. Maybe Miu was in there. The other monks were. And she wasn't supposed to bother them. But Daddy had said she could play all afternoon, so that meant it was all right to bother the monks, to find Miu.
She set off, hesitantly at first, but growing bolder until she actually made it to the courtyard. The boys and the monks were in the courtyard, having lunch, and there were so many of them... She started to whimper, but then spotted someone familiar. "Miu!" She ran forward, stopping as the monks turned to look at her. She whimpered again.
"Hichan!" Miu exclaimed. He waved at her. "Come eat!" She gathered her courage together and ran to sit next to him. "Hungry?" he asked, holding out a piece of vegetable with his chopsticks. She shook her head.
"Who the hell is this?" demanded an older boy, sitting on Miu's other side.
Miu frowned. "That's a bad word, Hoa."
"Shut up, Miu. Who is this?" The older boy stared down at her with contempt. "She's a foreigner."
"No she's not!" Miu exclaimed. "She's Lord Rayden's daughter."
Hoa laughed. "Right. I'm supposed to believe Lord Rayden is letting his daughter hang around with you?"
"You're mean," Hichan blurted, angrily.
"And you're ugly, little girl. Why don't you go back to Xhu Xin, where you belong. My brother is too young to get married." Hoa laughed, and several of his buddies, nearby and listening in, laughed as well.
Miu went bright red. "Let's go, Hichan," he said, finishing up his rice and vegetables quickly. He took her by the hand and ran from the courtyard.
"Your brother mean," Hichan insisted.
"Yeah," he replied, kicking at a tuft of grass. "He's like that a lot. Let's just go play."
"Okay!" Hichan agreed. Miu, happy to be off the topic, starting running. She squealed and started after him.
"Ahhh!" Hichan screamed, flinging the dinosaur down and making chomping noises, while "attacking" Miu's model.
Miu thrashed his dinosaur around, making grunting noises. Then he abruptly pulled the dinosaur away, making seem as though the brachiosaur had spontaneously learned to fly. He hid it behind a small pile of sand.
"Hey!" Hichan protested.
"It ran away," Miu explained. "It's gone to get its big brother." The brachiosaur's big brother happened to be a tyrannosaur, which appeared from another pile and started menacingly towards Hichan's raptor.
The two dinosaurs growled at each other. Despite being two entirely different species, they closely resembled each other in size and colouring; they were both a garish green with a splash of red inside their mouths.
Miu's tyrannosaur advanced, snarling. Hichan's raptor growled in response, then hopped forward. There was a stand-off for a moment, and then both dinosaurs leapt for each other, the battle being held over the sand, so it seemed as though they were hovering.
Finally Hichan had had enough, and her raptor strategically retreated to behind her. She searched around and came across her triceratops. It approached the victorious tyrannosaur.
"I'm going to beat you," the tyrannosaur growled, courtesy of Miu.
"Uh uh," the triceratops protested. "Me thunder dinosaur!"
"No such thing," protested the tyrannosaur.
The triceratops began to make crackling and hissing noises. "What's that?" the tyrannosaur asked.
"Me make lightning!" the triceratops proclaimed. "Crackle crackle ka-BOOM!" The ka-BOOM! of thunder was punctuated by Hichan throwing sand up in the air.
"No fair!" yelled the tyrannosaur, as it was used as a fan to wave the sand from Miu's face. "You can't do that!"
The tyrannosaur was set down. Miu crossed his arms over his chest. "No fair."
Hichan grumbled. "Fine." The triceratops hopped back a few inches, symbolically relinquishing its powers. The tyrannosaur nodded, an entire body dip since it couldn't bend at all, and then started forward, the battle begun again.
"Aw, how cute," someone remarked loudly. The two children looked up to see Big Brother Hoa and two of his buddies, standing over them.
"Looks like Miu's making himself at home," one of the friends smirked.
Hoa snorted. "I was supposed to come and find you, and here you are playing with girls."
Miu looked down at the sand, angrily, but accepting the fact that he was caught playing with a girl.
"And in the dirt!" Hoa exclaimed. "Master Lei is going to kill you!"
Hichan screamed, throwing her arms around Miu. "No! No killing! No hurt mortals!"
The older boys all laughed. "How cute. She even calls us mortals," Hoa sniffed. "Looks like she's quite attached of one mortal in particular."
Miu blushed again and pushed Hichan away. He got to his feet, brushing his clothes off. The goddess whimpered in confusion and hurt. "I'm coming," he said, to his brother, who laughed.
"Who said we were sent to fetch you? We just had to find you. Go back to playing with your dolls." Hoa waved at him dismissively.
"I wasn't playing with dolls."
"That's not what it looks like from here," one of Hoa's friend's commented.
"We weren't playing with dolls!" Miu insisted.
The other of Hoa's friends tugged at him. "That kid does look like Lord Rayden," he whispered. "Do you think...?"
Hoa rolled his eyes. "You're being thick. Why would Lord Rayden let his child--if he even had one, he's not a normal person--let her play in the dirt with a scruffy kid? That doesn't make any sense."
Hichan got to her feet. "Go away!" she yelled, angrily. "Miu and me happy, before you!"
"Oh, are we ruining your fun, Lady?" Hoa said, with an exaggerated bow. "So sorry."
"Not funny," Hichan growled.
Hoa snorted. Miu tugged at his sleeve. "Leave her alone."
"Don't bother me," his brother snapped down at him.
"Hoa..." his friend whispered, backing up a few steps, and pointing.
Hichan stood on the edge of the sandbox, furious, electricity arcing around her, blue-white energy sparking off her finger tips.
Hoa's mouth dropped open in shock.
His friends bolted, running in a panic back towards their section of the Temple.
Hoa, stunned, fell to his knees. "You are Lord Rayden's daughter," he breathed. "I thought...I thought they were making it up, I thought--" His wits seemed to leave him completely, and he leapt back to his feet and took off in close pursuit of his friends.
Hichan watched them leave, her powers fading. She blinked around her in confusion. "Why they run?" she asked.
"I don't know," Miu said, with a shrug. "My brother can be dumb, sometimes."
Hichan nodded. "Play?"
He bounded over, and plopped himself in the sand. "Want this one?" he asked, holding out the tyrannosaur. She shook her head and took the triceratops. "Not fair being a thunder dinosaur," he reminded her. She frowned, but seemed to remember and accept the decision.
They had just started to resume their sand battle when they could both suddenly hear some one yelling. "Miu! Chan Miu, get over here right now!"
Miu frowned. "I have to go," he said, sadly. Hichan sniffled. "But I'll be back," he added brightly. He got up, dusted the sand off himself, and hopped out of the box, jogging towards the Temple when he stopped, and turned around. Hichan was waving from the edge of the sandbox, and he ran back. He gave her a quick hug, then dashed off.
Hichan was still in the sandbox when Rayden found her. "Hey, Sparky."
"Daddy!" she exclaimed, looking up from her toys. He sat down next to her, sitting on the log while she played at his feet.
"You've been out here a while," he said. "Did you friend go in?"
She nodded. She got up, and climbed onto his lap, still holding her dinosaurs. She held it up. He took on, turning it over in his free hand while he balanced her with his other. "What's this?"
"Dinosaur," she replied. "From Uncle Johnny."
"Oh, yes, that package he sent." Rayden looked at the miniature tyrannosaur, squinting at it. "I think I remember you, too."
"What?" she asked.
"This," he said.
"Tyrannosaurus Rex," she supplied.
"It tried to eat me once," he mentioned. She looked at him in awe. "And how come you can say 'tyrannosaurus rex' but can't pronounce 'breakfast'?"
She frowned, not sure what he meant. She held up her other model. "Triceratops."
He laughed. He put the tyrannosaur down. "What's that one?"
"Velociraptor." Anticipating his next question, she slid down and held up another of the models. "Brachiosaurus."
"How are you doing that?" he repeated. "What's this one?"
She frowned. "Don't know. Uncle Johnny not tell me."
"That's too bad." She held it up for him to inspect, but he didn't remember it, nor would he have known the name for it in any case.
"Tell about Tyrannosaurus Rex," she said suddenly, trying to climb onto his lap again. "About eating."
"Well, it was a long time ago," he began, settling in and making himself comfortable while Hichan snuggled against him, holding her two models. "And Auntie Meimei and I were visiting Earth..."