The bubbles float up with my exhalation into the snorkel and burst near my ear, breaking the silence of the underwater environment.
The noon sunlight breaks through the impediment of the water, broken up by the rippling surface into wavy lines of light that illuminate my body, naked except for a loin cloth.
I take in another deep breath through the snorkel and concentrate my mind on the exercises.
Thunderclap Samsara Palms.
The signature technique of my clan, developed and perfected over the five hundred years of its history.
The lead weights on my waist and ankles keep me underwater, preventing me from floating up.
Settling my feet solidly on the bottom of the indoor pool, I squat slightly and explode into motion.
Back straight, muscles tense, I lash out with my right palm in an arcing manner, aiming at an imaginary opponent diagonally from top right to bottom left.
My palm is cupped in a manner that pushes the maximum amount of liquid in its path forward.
At the end of its path, I lay my palm along the line of my forearm and withdraw it back to the starting position along the path of the least water resistance.
I repeat the motion slowly, correcting any flaws I might have picked up in my form and integrating my breathing pattern into the movement.
Inhale, strike, exhale, withdraw…
Moving on to the other five movements; using my right arm, horizontally from right to left, from bottom right to top left, using the left arm for a diagonal strike from top left to bottom right, horizontally from left to right and finally from bottom left to top right, I drill them repeatedly, slowing down to check for flaws.
Satisfied that I am doing them correctly, I speed up the movements.
The water around me starts becoming turbid as my arms begin to blur. The streams slowly become an orderly vortex as I continue to repeat the moves.
One set per second…
Two sets per second…
Three sets per second…
When it gets to the rate of ten sets a second, my palms are moving so fast that they displace the water faster than it can fill in the gap, leaving a vacuum in their path.
The surrounding water rushes in to fill the gap, creating an explosive rumble in the process.
That’s where the technique gets its name from.
When practised to the level of fifty-five sets per second and above, the speed of the strikes breaks through the sonic barrier and can cause sonic booms in the air.
The sound accompanying the strikes is directed towards the opponent and penetrates their body to cause internal injury.
In the early stages, the practice is carried on underwater, often with glitter spread in it so the practitioner can observe the trend of the water flow due to their strikes and perfect it so the final soundwave is directed towards their opponent.
As a pure beginner without the advantage of a Barrier to protect my body from the backlash of moving at extreme speeds and as a Hominum without the sturdiness provided by the beast bloodline, it is a miracle I have managed to keep up with my Bestia peers and reach this level of proficiency.
Although a lot of that is due to the expensive medicines my father lavished on me to strengthen my body and the healing of my mother to ensure that I didn’t leave behind any latent injuries after my hellish training regimen.
My muscles burn with exertion as I demand more and more from them and speed up my attacks.
Eleven sets per second…
My chest is burning from the lack of air as I am unable to pace my breathing with the strikes.
Twelve sets per second…
The speed of my strikes surpasses my current cognition capacity and I run them on muscle memory and instinct as the lactic acid continues to build up.
Thirteen sets per second…
My brain grows fuzzy from the lack of oxygen as my arms draw upon it all to fuel the crazed speed at which they are moving. Suddenly, pushed too far beyond its limits, my left bicep cramps, deviating the direction of my strike.
The disorderly stream interferes with the vortex set up around me and causes it to collapse inwards, slamming into me with the speed and force of several of my own strikes, forcing the air out of my lungs in a burst of bubbles.
I stand my ground with my arms crossed in front of me and weather the beating until the raging water settles.
I slowly stand up straight from my protective crouch and breathe deeply through the snorkel as I close my eyes and let the warm sunlight ripple on my face through the water.
A sharp pain runs up from my shoulder and my eyes snap open as I turn my gaze towards my trainer.
I can see a distorted image of him through the water.
He is six-feet-tall with a swimmer’s body with wide shoulders and a slim waist with wiry muscles that speak of great power concealed within their bundles.
Having perfectly awakened his Royal Bengal tiger bloodline, minor bestial traits have seeped into his features.
His dark orange hair is kept cropped close to his skull with dark stripes running through it. There is a 王 marking on his forehead and his eyes are a brilliant gold without any sclera. His ears are rounded with soft fur filling them.
His orange and black striped tail lashes out in impatience as he overlooks me from the side of the pool.
He also happens to be my father, the head of the Felidae clan.
He flicks his finger at me again and a tiny bullet of compressed wind howls through the air, pierces the water and snaps against my other shoulder. His immaculate control of wind his bloodline talent.
A thin thread of wind forms, linking his mouth with my ear and his growl reverberates within my rear: “Again.”
So, I run through my forms again and again until he is finally satisfied and I am utterly exhausted and can barely raise my hands.
Dragging my weights along, I ponderously drag my body out of the water, discard the snorkel and collapse by the poolside, my chest rising and falling with my deep breaths.
A shadow covers the sun and I look up to the golden eyes of my father.
A stoic man, his square jawed, emotionless visage gives nothing away as we lock gazes. Then an appreciative light fills his eyes and he squeezes out the word, “Good” from his mouth and turns around to walk away.
A warmth fills my chest. Father’s praise is a very rare thing and I appreciate every instance of it.
Groaning as I drag my protesting body up to my feet and divest myself of the weights, depositing them in a designated box by the poolside, I make my way to the infirmary.
My entire body is black and blue from the collapsing water currents. My arms are specially covered with bruises from the air bullets shot at them by father to correct my form whenever I went astray.