Michael stood opposite a new recruit, John. John was just entering his first year at Argo Force Academy, and this was his first time training with Michael. The boy looked nervous, because after all, Michael was the best of the best. In all of his years at Argo Force, he had only been defeated once. He could match anyone in their organization, but he still liked to take a moment to personally train the new recruits in their first year. It helped him remember the days when he had been at their level, learning for the first time. Of course, he had excelled at a pace that most did not. But these kids didn’t know that. To them, it was an inspiration to train with him, an honor. And most would not get a chance to do so again until their advanced classes, which were reserved for the elite.
The boy stepped forward and performed a standard punch. Michael caught it in his hand, then motioned for the boy to repeat. After a few repetitions, Michael had John take a defensive stance, and slowly corrected his posture. More repetitions followed. Michael moved the boy through the exercises, until sweat began to flow freely. More and more, the boy seemed to grow frustrated as Michael continually corrected his technique. Eventually Michael saw the boy say, “How many times do I have to do this over and over?”
It was a common question, one that Michael received often in his training of the new recruits. His normal response was, “Until your body can do it better than you can.” He signed these words at the boy. John looked confused, but then understanding and surprised manifested on his face as he realized Michael could not hear him. The boy opened his mouth to say something, then thought better of it. He resumed his fighting stance and resumed practicing.
Michael sighed. This happened every time. The child would realize that he was deaf, then try to pretend like nothing was wrong. Once they understood Michael’s limitation, they would usually stop trying to make conversation. It made for a rather silent training session, with movement being the only form of communication between them. On the rare occasion that a new recruit understood ASL or another form of sign language, the situation was much different. It didn’t look like John understood any of the signs that Michael made.
As they progressed through the training session, Michael noticed Luke walking hurriedly past the gym. It wasn’t common to see the Founder outside of the inner rooms of Argo Force Headquarters. John let his stance fall as he stared at Luke’s glowing eyes beneath the hood. Chances are he and the other new recruits had never seen Luke before. It was always a bit unnerving the first time.
There were many places Luke could be going, but Michael figured he was visiting Jason, who lived in that direction. Luke seemed to be in an unusual hurry. Michael motioned to a nearby teacher to continue working with John, then ran out of the gym to join Luke. The glowing-eyed Founder saw him coming and signed a greeting. Michael returned it.
“You’re heading to see Jason.” signed Michael, “Anything important?”
“Yes, in fact.” Luke signed back, “You may come with me if you want. It will involve all of us.”
Curious, Michael let Luke lead the way to Jason’s quarters.