Ibuki watched the karate girl train in her empty dojo.

Again.

For the fifth time this week.

This mission was so stupid. Who cared if the girl's dojo was close to the ninja village? That didn't mean anything. Especially after Ibuki had been staking the place out all week. She had the girl's routine down at this point. She'd show up at 4AM, 4 in the dang morning, stretch, do forms and katas for about 30 minutes, meditate for an hour, do more forms and katas, pound away at the sandbag for a while, patch up any holes or cracks in the dojo, then leave around 6AM and get ready for school. She'd come back once school was over, do more forms and katas, mediate while waiting for anything challengers, clean up the dojo, then leave for the night. That was the girl's schedule for the past week and nothing since then had changed. She didn't go off exploring into the forest, she didn't hunt down any signs of ninjas or spies, she didn't even look out the entrance for new members. She just… trained in this rundown dojo. There was nothing more to it than that. Hell, even at her school all the girl did was talk with people from the karate club, pick fights with other martial arts clubs, and prowl the halls for fighters to challenge. She was just a musclehead jock!

"Uuuugh… what a pain…" Ibuki whined, dropping from the tree she was hanging on. The karate girl finished her forms and began to meditate, right on schedule.

After a week of reports her superiors gave her the order to take the girl down. Well, specifically beat her in a fight to gauge her skill. Apparently, she'd be a good opponent for Ibuki, and that's what really annoyed her. I'm not some newbie that needs a lesson.

Training could be a pain, the extracurriculars and missions could get tough, and Ibuki was never one to keep quiet about her feelings on them, but she wasn't lazy! She could face several opponents at once, accomplish all forms of espionage and spy work, successfully balance her life as a normal girl and a ninja, but she still had to do stupid tests like this. Didn't she face that one-armed hermit to prove herself already? Wasn't she already in her stupid ninjutsu research club at school? It was like training never ended! And now she had to fight this karate girl so her superiors could pat themselves on the back and say they "disciplined" a lazy student with another stupid mission.

"Tch," It was days like these she wished she could just quit the ninja life and live as a normal girl and find a cute guy to date.

But… that also meant being labeled a renegade and being hunted down by her clansmen, along with balancing that with her high school life on top of that, so… no. "Uggh…" Guess now would be a good time. If anything, she could use the fight to take out her aggression on something.

Ibuki popped out of her hiding spot and made her way to the dojo. She was quiet as she ran, barely making a sound on the ground. The moment her foot touched the wood of the dojo floor she hopped right up to the roof. The karate girl didn't even flinch. Okay… how to do this. She pulled out two kunai daggers from within her clothes, her eyes locked on the girl from a hole in the roof. She wasted no time, jumping down from the roof with dive kick at the karate girl's head.

And to Ibuki's the surprise, the girl dodged it.

In a single motion, the girl stood up, backed away, and was in a fighting stance, hands up and ready to fight, Ibuki landing on her feet and failing her assault before standing as well.

"I was wonderin' when ya'd show up,"

Ibuki froze for a second, her eyes widened. She was sure that her steps were near silent. What kind of hearing did this girl have? Now her guard was up. "So much for stealth…" Ibuki muttered to herself, raising her hands in knife-like fashion. The karate girl smirked, circling Ibuki.

"Heh, I'm not stupid. You're the chick from the ninja club that's been watchin' me at school."

Ibuki frowned behind her mask. She didn't know if it was a blessing or a curse that this karate girl just thought Ibuki was some ninja fangirl. Guess joining that ninja club was a good idea for my cover.

"So whatcha' gonna' do now? Ya' lookin' for a fight? Dojo huntin' for your club or somethin'?"

"Sure, let's go with that," She said, her eyes narrowing. "I just really need you to go down right now,"

The karate girl's smirk widened. "Try it then,"

Ibuki kicked the girl's shin hard, making her flinch before slamming her palm into the girl's chin. The karate girl staggered back, and Ibuki tossed a kunai that lodged itself into the girl's stomach. "Ah!" The girl immediately pulled the weapon out, glaring daggers at Ibuki.

"Hey, that's-!"

Before she could finish her sentence, Ibuki rushed forward, hopping on the girl's shoulders, hands clutching her head. "Cheating? Yeah, it is," Ibuki admitted, giving the girl's neck a hard twist, hearing a small crack and groan as she did so before jumping off the girl's back. "But ninjas don't really fight fair," She spun a kunai in her hand, pulling her mask down and smirking to herself. "Sorry, karate girl. Orders from my village." I didn't twist it that badly. She should wake up in a bit.

That was it for her mission it seemed. She beat this karate girl in a fight and proved her worth. Maybe they'd back off and give her a break now.

"Y-You…"

Just as Ibuki was about to leave, she heard the girl's voice. No way. Ibuki turned around, seeing the karate girl stand back up. She pulled her mask back up.

"We're still fighting,"

Ibuki frowned at the karate girl, sighing. I know I didn't go all out with the Kubi Ori, but she should at least be knocked out. "Look, you're strong, bu-" She was cut off by a sudden punch to the face. It sent her right to the ground. Her mind was in a daze from the hit. It took her a moment before she got to her feet, resting on her knee, staring wide-eyed at the ground. She could had sworn the karate was at least 6 meters away when she got up. She covered that distance with some insane speed. "… … … …" Alright then. She pulled down her mask, wiping the blood from her mouth before pulling it back up. She was going to just leave, but now she was pissed. Not only did she not finish off an opponent, but the opponent in question had some serious power and speed to her techniques. Maybe this girl was a threat after all.

Ibuki retook her stance. "Guess we're doing this then,"

The karate girl clenched her fists tight, her smirk turning to a determined expression. "Bring it!"

And Ibuki did, tossing a kunai at the karate girl's feet and ramming her in the stomach with her elbow, followed by kicking her in the chin with her heel. Playtime was over. This girl was getting knocked out the hard and painful way.

"Toya!" The karate girl swept Ibuki's legs with a low chop, knocking her down and punching her hard in the stomach. Ibuki gasped, hands over her stomach. The karate girl was done though. She got up, pulled Ibuki up by her shirt to her feet, and give her four more heavy punches to the stomach. Each with a loud, each knocking the wind out of her, each making Ibuki fight the urge to throw up. Then, with Ibuki still fighting to stay on her feet, the girl grabbed Ibuki by the neck and squeezed hard.

"A-Aah-" She was being choked, hard. She could barely struggle against it either after the beating she took. The strangling lasted a long and slow second before being placed back on the ground. Ibuki gasped breath, only to be pulled into another headbutt, this time leaving a trail of blood from her nose.

"Gah!" She backed away, quickly getting back into stance. Her vision was blurred, but she could make her opponent out.

"Had enough?" The girl asked?

"You wish!" From within her shirt, Ibuki pulled out and threw down a smoke bomb. It exploded in a puff of white smoke that Ibuki used to circled around the karate girl. First punching her in the side of the head, then slipping through a counter punch and kicking at her shin.

Then a chop to her rib.

Then a knee to her stomach.

Then a thrust at her neck.

Then giving her head a small twist from behind.

Then a swipe at her cheek with a kunai.

A series of strikes, thrusts, and swipes from every direction while hidden within the smoke, ending with an roundhouse kick to the head.

"Aaah!" The karate girl let out a loud cry before Ibuki heard a thud. The smoke dissipated, revealing the karate girl flat on her back with cuts, scrapes, and bruises all along her face. She was knocked out.

"Phew," Ibuki put her kunai away, lying on her back as well. She won, but she took a beating in the process. "Ugh… god, I'm sore,"

She's strong. Not just in strength, but spirit to. This girl had something Ibuki didn't. Drive. A will to train, improve, and win. It was something Ibuki lacked, something she rarely tapped into. The fight made her realize that.

She sat up, looking at the girl. I wonder what drives you?

"Nh…" The karate was back up almost immediately, sitting on her knees in a meditative stance. Ibuki had seen a lot of karate folk sit in that kind of way.

"Um…" Now this was awkward. I didn't think she'd get up that fast… "What's you name?" Ibuki nearly smacked herself for asking. Jeez, we beat each other up and you think she'll just give you a name like this is some kind of mang-

"Makoto,"

Oh… well showed her.

"I'm Ibuki,"

Makoto was quiet for awhile before speaking up. "You gonna' take my sign now?"

Ibuki looked at out the door, then back at Makoto. Her back was turned, but Ibuki could hear the sorrow in her voice. Oh right… she thinks I'm a dojo hunter for the ninja club at school. Okay, got to keep this in character!

"Nah, I think I'll come back and do that next time. That wasn't really a good win." Ibuki looked away, her face red from behind her mask. Ugh, that was so lame! Not a good win? What kind of dojo hunter says that?!

"I see…" Makoto stood up, turning to Ibuki with a smile. "Then ya' better train harder, 'cuz next I'll be kickin' your butt, ninja tricks or not!" She announced, pointing at Ibuki. "Rindoukan Karate'll never lose ta' cheap ninja tricks!"

"… … …" Ibuki blinked. Twice. "R-Right…" Oh my god. Is this… is this actually working? Ibuki stood up as well, dusting herself off. "Well, I know what to expect now, so don't think it'll be easy." Mission or not, she wasn't going to let this girl walk all over her again like that. "Still, I can't believe you just went and used choking techniques like that."

"Heh, Rindoukan Karate ain't for the faint a' heart!"

"Right…" Ibuki dusted herself off, giving a quick bow to Makoto. "Well until next time then,"

Makoto nodded, bowing and waving Ibuki goodbye. "Anytime, ninja girl! Let's go at it 'til we're both satisfied!"

She understood why her superiors wanted her to face this girl now. She was a bit of meathead, but she was also focused, determined, and strong. Things that Ibuki just wasn't. Well, the former two anyway. This girl could match her blow for blow with just her karate training. Ibuki didn't care much for her ninja life sometimes, but… challenging and facing off with this Makoto might make it a bit more fun. She'd take this lesson to heart, train a bit more seriously, and fight the girl again, ideally without getting choked or headbutted.

And hey, maybe some cute boys would show up at her dojo too later on, she'd have to ask about that if she got a chance.