"When can we start fighting mommy?" asked Byron.
It was embarrassing to call his mom mommy especially in front of his friends and their moms. He wasn't a baby, but it just slipped out. No one else seemed to notice or say anything about which he was happy about. His mom, on the other hand, had a strange expression on her face. There was a smile on her face except it didn't look right. It was like someone had glued a badly drawn smile onto her face. Was it something he said?
Looking at Aunt Mandy and Ethel didn't help. They looked worried. At least he thought they looked worried. It was hard to tell since only their eyes had grown the size of saucers. Andy and Cylde had finally decided to stop eating for a moment to see what was going on. After one look, they went back to eating. He guessed it wasn't a big deal, but he was still waiting for his mom to answer.
That snapped her out of her daze. "Finish your dinner, Byron."
"No buts. Eat."
His shoulders sagged as he slid down his chair until his face was aligned with a table. They ignored him in favor of paying attention to the food in front of them, and he eventually gave in. He was hungry too. While a cheese quesadilla wasn't as awesome as macaroni and cheese, it was still one of his favorite foods. Taking a bite into the cheesy goodness, he forgot all about the training his mom promised him.
After the table was cleared and all the plates were cleaned, everyone settled down in the living room. Byron, Andy, and Cylde were brimming with excitement. They couldn't wait. Were they going to start their training now? What kind of training did their moms have planned? Well, Andy and Cylde already had an idea of what was in store. What they wondered was what Byron was going to do.
They watched as Reba unzipped one of the duffel bags that their moms had brought. Despite being warned to stay back, they craned their necks to get a better view. Her hand reached into the bag to pull out a bat. They deflated. There was nothing cool about a bat made of wood. Byron and Cylde had personally seen Ethel create a metal bat that could wreck cars. Reba could crush the bat into dust.
Seeing the look on their faces, Reba asked, "What's with the long faces?"
"I thought you were going to teach us something cool mom."
In response, she turned around to face the table that had placed behind her. Byron titled his head to the side as he furrowed his brows and frowned. He was certain he hadn't seen the table before. Aunty Mandy and Ethel must have brought it when they weren't looking. Reba breathed in deeply before she raised the bat over her head and down onto the table. Instead of the expected crunch of the table being utterly destroyed, they were shocked to see it split in half like it had been cut by a sword.
Reba turned to face them as the two halves of the table clattered to the floor and said, "I'm not teaching you to be cool. I'm teaching you to fight."
The three kids briefly turned to each other with their eyes still wide before whipping their heads to face Reba. She was instantly bombarded with questions. They wanted to know how she did it, if Ethel and Mandy could do it, and if it was possible for them to learn how to do it. There were several other questions they wanted to ask, but those three were the ones that were the most important to them.
"That's enough you three," said Ethel as she came to Reba's rescue. "She can't answer your questions if you all are shouting at the same time."
Instantly, they shut their mouths as they directed their beady eyes at Reba. She smiled. "As you can see, these aren't ordinary bats. These are special, customized bats meant for self defense."
"Where did you get them?" asked Cylde.
"I know a guy who was willing to make them for me."
They were curious to know who made them and if they could meet them, but they kept silent instead. The sooner Reba finished talking the sooner they could get their hands on those cool bats. They already had ideas of what to test the bats on. Byron wondered what else it could do. Andy wanted to see if it could work on something other than wood. Cylde was going to use it the next time his father trained him.
"Anyway, the first thing I want you to know is that these are your first of many stuff we're going to give you." She raised a hand in front of her with her palm facing them before they could start talking again. "But you won't get the rest of the stuff until we think you're ready for them."
The trio wilted at the idea. That was no fair. Why did they have to wait before they could get their hands on the cool stuff their moms had? They could handle it. Andy and Cylde had plenty of training already so they couldn't see why they were being denied the goods. Byron, on the other hand, wanted to prove he could protect himself. He could handle whatever his mom had with her.
"We don't want you accidentally hitting each other or hurting yourself. I remember the first time I tried to use a bat. It was a regular bat unlike the one I have now, and I'm telling you that pulling out splinters from your hands hurt a lot."
Byron winced. Out of the three of them, he was the only one who had experienced with splinters. He had been running around on the playground when he felt something sharp poke him in the foot. It hurt so much that he fell on his knees and cried. Aunt Mandy, Andy, and his mom came running to see what was wrong, nearly knocking down everyone in their path.
Removing his shoe, they found the cause to be a large piece of wood the size of a pencil that somehow got through the tough shoe material and his sock. It dug painfully into his foot. His mom was quick to pull it out, but it hurt a lot. In fact, it hurt so much that he couldn't walk, and he couldn't stop crying. He had to be carried home, and then there were the tweezers and alcohol pads. Byron didn't understand why his mom needed tweezers and alcohol pads, but he refused to walk on his foot after that.
He ended up hopping everywhere even to school - no one questioned it except Andy who understood completely once he explained why he was hopping and was glad it wasn't him who got a splinter - until his mom put her foot down and said he didn't need to do that. Byron was forced to walk around like an ordinary person and winced every time he stepped with his hurt foot. Eventually, the pain did go away, but he always kept an eye out for random pieces of wood.
Ethel and Mandy passed out the bats as Reba continued, "These bats appear to be made of wood, but it's actually hollow on the inside. If you unscrew the top, you can store extra equipment inside like smoke bombs or knives."
The trio immediately unscrewed the top to see she was right. The inside was lined with metal to keep the bat from breaking if they used it for simply hitting stuff. They were disappointed to see there were no smoke bombs or knives on the inside. Maybe if they were lucky, they would get them later. Screwing the tops back on, they turned back to Reba to hear more about their new bats.
"You were all wondering how I cut the table, right?" At the enthusiastic nods, she said, "Well, there's a button on the bat that releases a blade, and you will not be using the feature until we say you can so stop right there Andy."
All eyes turned to him, and he scowled as he lowered the bat. He had intended to press the button and try out the blade right away. His reaction earned him a smack in the head from his mother who glared at him. He glared right back, but he didn't say anything. They turned their attention back to Reba who was moving on to the next feature the bat had.
"The inside of the bat is actually separated into two sections. The top is for storing large things like I said before. The bottom is meant for hiding poisons and medicine. We will not be giving you any poisons until we're certain you won't accidentally poison yourselves. We will give you medicine so you can take care of any cuts and bruises you get."
While they knew they shouldn't have expected to get their hands on poison, they still pouted. Andy didn't think it was fair he wouldn't be allowed to handle poisons. As a naga, he was immune to most poisons so there was no way he would poison himself. Cylde thought the same except he was resistant to most poisons. They would still effect him, but it would have to take a lot to bother him. Byron had a feeling this was directed more at him than Andy and Cylde.
"Now the last feature is a gps so you can find each other just in case you get separated. This is very important since Cylde goes to a different school from you two. If you think one of you is in trouble, you can find them fast."
Byron didn't see why they would use it. It sounded more like their moms were more likely to use it than them. The other two were thinking the same thing. Andy scowled at the thought his mom was using it to spy on them. They could handle themselves without them. Cylde simply accepted that their moms would find a way to keep an eye on them. He was sort of surprised they even needed a gps. Considering what happened in the park, he thought all moms just knew how to find their children without needing a gps.
"Since we just had dinner, I don't want you trying the bats out right now." They whined at the unfairness. Why show them something cool and then say they can't use it? "Your first lesson is to learn to keep the bats with you at all times. If you can't even keep an eye on something this big, there's no way you would be able to handle anything like knives."
"Does that mean we have to sleep with it?" asked Cylde.
Ethel said, "No, you won't be sleeping with it. You should keep it next to the bed so you can grab it in case of emergencies. You're more likely to accidentally hurt yourself in your sleep."
Andy scoffed, expressing the trio's opinion. How could they hurt themselves with a bat while they slept? It wasn't like they were going to hit themselves with it. That quickly changed when they as one remembered the feature they were told not to try out yet. The image of pressing the button that activated the blade while they slept made them shudder. They definitely didn't want that to happen.
"Do we bring the bats to school?" asked Byron.
"Of course," said Mandy as she ruffled his hair. "What's the point of having a bat to defend yourself with if you don't carry it everywhere?"
"We'll talk to the school to make sure you can bring them with you," said Reba.
"Then what do we do now?" asked Andy.
"You can go ahead and play for a little bit. We still have some time."
None of them were happy about that. They wanted to learn how to fight, but their moms waved them off. As they left the room to go play in Byron's room, they were stopped and got chewed out for forgetting the bats. They already failed the first lesson except for Byron who had forgotten he was dragging the bat along the floor. After their moms finished their lecture and made sure they had their bats, they were sent on their way.
"This is so annoying," whined Andy as he waved the bat around. He made sure not to hit anyone with it.
Byron mumbled, "I thought we were going to learn how to fight."
"We didn't exactly impress our moms by forgetting the bats," said Cylde. "It was the easiest thing to do and only Byron remembered to bring it with him."
Andy stopped swinging the bat to let it rest on his shoulders. "You don't have to rub it in."
"So what do you want to do?" asked Byron as they entered his bedroom.
"What about hide and seek?" suggested Cylde.
"Where are we going to hide?" asked Andy. "Under the bed?"
He had a point. There wasn't really anywhere they could hide except for under the bed and closet. Tag was also ruled out because there was no room to run. After going through possible games they could play, they settled with I Spy which was followed by Monkey in the Middle and Tic-tac-toe. They had been ready to pull out some cards or a board game when their moms came through the door.
"Andy, it's time to go. It's getting late, and your father is wondering when we'll be back."
"Idiot mom, can't you see we're playing?"
"What was that?"
"You heard me."
Andy was dragged out, and his shouts were muffled by the tail that was wrapped around his mouth as his own tail thrashed about. Byron and Cylde actually expected him to bite it, but that didn't happen. It could have been because the tail was too tough or too thick for him to bite. Cylde was the next to leave, and he waved goodbye to Byron. He was sad to see them go. All thoughts about learning how to fight had been forgotten.
He had missed playing with his friends, and he wished they could have played longer. After his mom promised that they would have plenty of chances to play again since he was no longer grounded, she sent him to go brush his teeth and change into his pajamas. He quickly did what he was told but not too quickly or else she would send him back to brush his teeth again. Once he was underneath the covers, he checked to make sure the bat was right next to the bed.
"Good night Byron."
"Good night mom."
Closing his eyes, he couldn't wait to bring his bat to school and show it to everybody. They were going to be so jealous that his mom got him such a cool bat. He wondered if he could show it off to them. He was going to ask her tomorrow.