Chapter 1:

How it All Started

 

     The screeching wind and furious thunder didn’t wake baby Spark as he laid in his crib fast asleep. Loud gun shots ricocheting through the house did though.

     He woke in terror, unable to make sense of what was going on. Still too young to fully comprehend it. Yet he knew that whatever was happening, was bad. He cried for his parents. His father yelled in return. Finally, his mother raced into his room. Tears of desperation matched his.

     The baby knew it’d be okay if his mom was there. She always protected him. But before she could reach his crib, another bang punctured his world. Blood flooded out of his mother’s chest as she fell in front of him.

     The next morning, Master Zo arrived to have breakfast with his daughter, son in law, and grandson. Yet the open front door gave him pause. He walked inside slowly. Until he registered the iron laced smell. The smell of blood.

     “Bunny?” He called out his daughter’s nickname. He hadn’t called her it in years, but it was a comfort to him now. “Spark?” His heart dropped to his stomach as he ran up the staircase to his grandson’s room. “Spark, are you okay?”

     When he reached the top of the stairs, he followed a trail of blood leading to the master bedroom. He didn’t want to look, but he needed to know if there was any chance of saving them.

     His son-in-law’s body bled out on their rug. Desperation and panic flooded Master Zo’s mind. Froze him, as he entered Stark’s room and saw his daughter on the floor.

     As the baby cried, he knelt beside his only child. Tears and grief threatened to overtake him as he closed her precious, forest colored eyes for the last time. He kissed her forehead. He knew what she would want him to do.

     “I love you,” he whispered. “Rest peacefully.”

     Then, he went to his grandson who mirrored his mother. Those wild eyes surrounded by a head of dark hair. Master Zo took this child of the forest and brought him to his private cottage deep in the woods. He knew the police couldn’t protect them, so Master Zo decided to make Spark the strongest man on earth. It was the only way.

     For the next couple of years, Master Zo figured out the perfect training plan, while carefully observing his grandson. He had mastered jiu jitsu and judo, but he wanted his grandson to go even further. Reach heights Zo could only dream of. Spark received a heavy weight as his gift on his third birthday. And the intensive regime began.

     "Spark, my young boy,” Master Zo said. “I shall push you to your limits so that you can excel and reach a potential never before seen by man."

     Spark seemed already in tuned with his fate, though he couldn’t fully comprehend it at such a young age. “Yes, sir!” He said, imagining the great adventure that awaited him. “I want to start right now!"

     “Wonderful! Let’s see who can reach the other side of the lake first!”

     The old man took off running, his hair turning greyer as he kept up with the child. Yet he still could keep up. For now. The two laughed as Zo reached the water before Spark did, splashing his way to victory. This was just the beginning though.

     Spark began with simple activities such as moving different sized rocks and running short distance sprints. As Spark grew older, Master Zo increased the intensity of the tasks and activities required for Spark to accomplish every day.

     At four years old, Spark was expected to run five miles a day, while also undergoing physical training with Master Zo. At five years old, he began using weighted clothing for all of his normal activities. He moved like a ninja in them regardless. Graceful as Zo taught him the art of fighting.

     “Someday I’ll beat you!” He laughed, as Zo conquered him yet again.

     “I know you will,” Zo smiled. Spark almost had him there for a moment. The child was flourishing even quicker than he expected. “All right now, time for your nightly run.”

     “Won’t you come with me, Master Zo?”

     “I’m old,” he chuckled. “And tired. You’ve grown strong and you can howl if you need me. Now run along!”

     Spark did as he was told and loved it. Loved how his muscles grew under the sun and the stars. By the time he was six, he was running over twenty miles a day. His intense physical training had made him quicker. Stronger. He beat Zo in almost every fight now and the two were starting to wonder if he didn’t need another opponent to challenge him. Yet soon after Spark turned seven years old, something strange happened.

     That night, Spark was practicing a new technique, made more challenging by the lack of moonlight to guide him. Amidst this training, Spark stopped to brush his brown hair out of his face. Given a moment’s rest, he noticed a bright light in the dark sky. He stopped and gazed at the meteor floating through the air.

      “I think that meteor is heading towards us,” Master Zo said, in awe of the moment he’d been waiting for, finally coming to fruition.

     “Yeah,” Spark said, shocked. Afraid. Excited. “I think it is.”

     Master Zo tied his long, grey hair back. Then he grabbed Spark’s hand and a flashlight. The two ran up the paths they knew so well, avoiding sharp rocks and tangled roots. Possibilities drove them up the mountain.

     BOOOOM!!! A flash of light and deafening noise exploded through the night, welcoming them to the top.

     "Master, did you see that!" Spark yelled.

     "Yes, young lad,” Master Zo said, his curiosity brighter than it’d ever been. “Let's go investigate to see what it is.”

     They followed the glowing light and the memory of the noise to the comet that had landed nearby. When they arrived at the crash-landing site, Spark came to a full stop and stared at the ground. Trees were broken, rocks shattered. The landscape was a torn-up mess from the impact.

     "Wow master, what is it? I’ve never seen something fall from the sky before.”

     "Shhh boy, let me examine the area to make sure it’s safe. Then we can investigate.”

     A circular, metallic pod rested in the center of a massive crater. It had a metallic glow around it, like the moonlight had hitched a ride to earth. Seemed other worldly. Promising.

     "Spark, let's go closer. I don't see anything suspicious yet but stay on guard. I’ve never encountered anything like this."

     Spark followed and as they got closer, he read the word ACE inscribed on the metallic pod.

      "Stay back while I get a closer look at it," Master Zo ordered his grandson.

     Once he got closer to the space pod, a sliding door opened from it. Master Zo froze and waited to see what was behind the door. Inside was a small child. His skin, scarily pale. His body, lifeless.

     "Hello?” Master Zo called out, wary of approaching such a strange object. “Are you okay? Can you move?"

     He kept calling out to the child, but he didn’t receive a response. After about five times, he gave up.

     “The child is either unconscious or dead,” Master Zo said.

     He walked up to the space pod and looked at the young child, who still wasn’t moving. He brushed back some of his black hair to reveal eyes that were closed. Vulnerable. Then carefully picked up the boy and carried him out of the space pod.

    He laid the boy on the ground next to Spark and did a quick examination. He could feel a pulse, the child was alive. So of course, Master Zo would help him.

     The child was right around Spark’s height and looked to be about the same age. “I’ll name the child, Ace,” he told Spark. “Since it’s inscribed on the pod.”

     A glow on Ace’s watch surprised Zo as he spoke. An odd series of what looked to be some sort of alien language followed. “A translator?”

     “That will be useful,” Zo muttered. In a swift motion, Master Zo placed Ace on his back and began carrying him. He decided to take Ace back to his cottage to further investigate him and figure out how he could best help him.

     About mid-way to the cottage, Ace began to slip in and out of consciousness. Then, Ace woke up fully and began yelling. Surprised by the loud noise, Master Zo put Ace down on the ground which calmed him at first.

     Then, he panicked, started thrashing on the dirt. He stood and raised his fists to Master Zo who quickly restrained him on the ground. Unable to move, Ace began to rage and used all of his strength in an attempt to get free. Master Zo noticed that Ace was powering up, so he hit one of his pressure points to paralyze him.

     "Spark, can you help me carry Ace the rest of the way back?" Master Zo grumbled. He was getting old, wrinkles overtaking his body. He wasn’t quite as strong as he once was. Spark agreed without complaint. He grabbed Ace’s legs, while Master Zo grabbed his torso.

     Once they arrived at the cottage, Master Zo locked Ace in a small room consisting only of some bedding, food, and a plastic cup of water. A safe space where he wouldn’t be able to cause any damage. Then, exhausted, he and Spark called it a night and went to sleep.

     The next morning, Master Zo began communicating with Ace. He was a quick learner and understood everything Master Zo was telling him. The watch translated everything, and Ace began to learn bits of english as Zo picked up on some of Ace’s strange alien words.

     Once he was sure that Ace could be helpful, Master Zo stopped and looked Ace straight in his icy, grey eyes.

     "Boy, I want you to assist Spark in his training," he said.

     Ace stared back in shock and replied, “Training for what?”

Master Zo smiled. “Making Spark the strongest man on earth." Ace later agreed and the extremely intensive training began.

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