He learns what it means to hurt, in all senses of the word. SPYGOD shows him how to break bones and tear muscles, strike pressure points and pinch nerves. Using his tutor's rapidly-healing body as a laboratory, he learns how to shut down each and every major organ in the human body with a single punch, and how to get them working again (sort of).
He also learns how to regulate the flow of his body's own chemicals, so as to make him ignore pain, hunger, thirst, and exhaustion. He can now run faster and longer than he ever thought possible, and put himself into a berserker's rage -- fighting swiftly and savagely, though never for long.
After a few days of being unpleasantly woken up when he closes his eyes for too long, he finally learns how to sleep without sleeping. SPYGOD teaches him the techniques by which the conscious portions of his mind are allowed to drift off into a meditative trance, but one's senses remain in the here and now -- able to react with blinding speed at the slightest hint that something is awry.
He learns to dig water out of the ground, and eat things that would have made his stomach turn just a week before. He learns to read body language with uncanny precision, detect lies before they're even spoken, and guess when and how an opponent will attack him. He learns how to truly listen to the world around him, so as to avoid being sneaked up on, or ambushed.
He learns to be distrustful and suspicious, to be skeptical and think in three dimensions. He learns how to listen to what someone is really saying, and use their words and true motives in combination as weapons. He's taught how to make a sane person go crazy, and how to bring an insane person back around long enough to answer a few questions, or obey a few orders.
And he learns to mask his true intentions on every level possible. In fact, he does it so well that, one morning, maybe on the afternoon of the third day, he actually catches SPYGOD with the "take my hand" trick after a particularly exhausting round of throws and blows.
SPYGOD laughs for a full minute, gives his student a full eight hours of sleep as a reward, and announces that tomorrow they'll start on the interesting stuff.
* * *
Wednesday, September 5th, was a weird day in Taos, New Mexico: the sort of day when older folks look up at the sky for a bit, and know that a change is in the air, but aren't exactly sure what.
Sometimes, on a day like today, weird things fall from the sky. The wind changes direction four times in three minutes and trees go flying into the next county. The moon rises early, the Sun sets late, and people hear weird whispers from out of the corners, like someone was trying to say something.
It's just part of the land, out here; there are forces at work, sublime and mysterious. Either you come to grips with the fact that they're there, and learn to either respect or accept them, or you pack up and go back to less spiritually-charged landscapes.
The locals will not miss you if you do. In fact, they'll even help you move.
So when weird noises happen early that Wednesday, people don't pay it much mind. It's only when they realize that it's coming from the Eastern mountains, over by where Wayfinder's place used to be, that they get interested.
See, odd noises and weird feelings used to emanate from there all the !@#$ time, not so long ago. And they either meant that hill spirits were up and moving, or some of the old man's friends -- or enemies -- were dropping by for a visit. So either something was rumbling up from the belly of the world, or there'd be a celebration, or maybe a fight between a lot of wasichu fools in silly costumes.
But then, that's something that hasn't happened in quite a while, and for reasons that are just as strange and unexplained as anything else that happens around here.
Just before 3/15, Wayfinder's house completely vanished, one morning. A black car went up the mountain, weird noises were heard, and then the car came back down. And when the authorities got there, they found nothing but a house-shaped hole in the ground, and the weird feeling that time wasn't exactly working the way it was supposed to.
In fact, someone from the COMPANY showed up to take stock of the situation, and determined that there was, indeed, a temporal distortion of some kind. How or why, he didn't know, saying only that he'd have to kick the information up to Washington and see what they had to say about it. And, after taking possession of something Wayfinder left behind in his hidey-hole, the Agent went off to do just that.
Unfortunately, no one ever got an answer as to what the heck happened. The Agent vanished from his motel that very night, after a visit from a black car. And after 3/15 everyone had other things to think about, like what their government had been up to, and how they were going to make amends, and when they were going to get their !@#$ TV back.
And now? Now, no one really seems to pay it much mind. There's spirits in the hills, ghosts in the dust, and a shimmering, house-shaped hole in time where a semi-retired superhero used to live.
Just another day in Taos.
Only now the noises are so pronounced and glaring that they can be heard all the way into the city. Noises like large, tubular bells being dragged across the ground. Thunderclaps without lightning or clouds. Hisses of rain and sonic booms. Maybe even a scream or two.
So the Sheriff, after receiving way too many calls to just shrug off as "just another day," gets in his car and drives up the mountain. He passes the houses of Wayfinder's few neighbors and sees that they're getting into their cars and high-tailing it out of there, and then wonders if he should speed up and see what's happening, or slow down and observe from a distance.
Of course, he doesn't listen to caution. He drives right up to the place, knowing almost exactly what he's going to see up there when he does. So he isn't too darn surprised when it turns out he's right.
It's Wayfinder's house, right back where it belongs.
It looks a little weird for its journey, the house. It reminds him of photographs of houses with gathering storms behind them, but still front-lit by the Sun. Either that or infra-red photography, only in color, which shouldn't make sense but does. Things are blurry in the wrong spots and sharp in the shadows, and he can't quite tell if it's right in front of his face or miles away, sometimes.
He gets out of his car, leans on his door, and watches. Wondering what's going to happen next.
And when he does, he realizes that there's several new sets of footprints going from the front of the house over to a spot in the yard.
And that spot seems like it was burned, a little bit. Almost as if something launched itself off from there.
"Sonic boom, huh?" he says to himself, wondering how he's going to call this one in.