Insert Self Here

Chapter Seventeen

Sunday Bloody Sunday


It couldn't be a good day. Kari knew this for a fact. Any day where the first words she uttered were "Oh shit" could not, in fact, be anything other than a bad day.

Akane looked up from the breakfast she was cooking when she heard Kari say something. "Hmm? What is it?"

Kari didn't know how to respond. She couldn't tell Akane that she had felt a wave of abject horror upon seeing the older girl cooking. Watching as Akane continued making pancakes, however, gave her something with which to change the subject. "Um, why are you using so much salt?"

"Whoops!" The girl stopped immediately, setting the large bag of salt down on the counter. She sighed. "Great, I thought that was sugar..."

Kari didn't feel like asking why she'd add sugar to pancakes. She simply went back to her room instead. She briefly considered just crawling back into bed, but then decided against it. She was already up, better to just head out for the day.

That was a bad decision.

The young ninja quickly got out of her pajamas, throwing on an oversized black T shirt and a pair of camouflage pants. She quickly made her way out of the home. At the front door, she called out, "I'm heading out for today! I won't be back until later, have breakfast without me!" Before Akane could reply, Kari had opened the door and stepped outside.

She stepped right into Kaga.

"Jeez," the boy said, "don't you watch where you're going?"

Kari slammed the front door shut behind her. "And what the hell are you doing here?" The insufferable shougi club captain was one of the last people she'd ever expect to meet walking out of the Tendo Dojo, right under Kikkoman. Seriously, why the hell would he be there? He had no business with anybody but her, and the two of them hated each other.

The redhead jerked his thumb back toward his bike, a small motorcycle parked in front of the gate to the residence. "I'm here to pick you up. Now come on, let's go." He spoke as if those words explained everything.

Kari raised an eyebrow. His response explained nothing. Where the hell would she go with him, of all people? "What are you talking about?"

"It's Sunday," the boy replied. "Aren't we going to this go tournament? Or would you rather forfeit?"

The ninja girl blinked. Go tournament? She remembered the tournament. Of course she did. She also remembered handing the registration forms over to the jerk standing right in front of her. "Wait, but... didn't you throw out the entry forms?"

"Long story short, I decided to hand them in instead." Kaga motioned toward the street in front of the Tendo home, towards his motorbike. "Now come on, there's not much time. Hop on my bike and let's get going."

Kari couldn't believe the jerk would have done that for them, handing in the forms to compete. But she supposed even he wouldn't lie about doing so. She could guess that he had signed himself up as the third board for the guy's team, too. Or the first board. Yeah, he'd probably take first. But it still surprised her; she didn't take him for the type to do something nice like that. Maybe he wasn't such a jerk.

She stopped her internal monologue when she hopped on the bike.

It was Kari's first time on a motorcycle. She had to admit, it was really something different. She let out a loud whoop as they raced down the streets of Nerima, eventually leaving the district altogether. It was quite a trip, racing through the Tokyo streets as much as the small bike would allow.

She'd forgive the guy for everything, she supposed. But only if he took her out on his bike more often.


Ranma gagged as he entered the kitchen a few minutes after Kari had left. "What is that smell?"

Akane mistook his statement for one of a hungry man smelling a delicious breakfast, as opposed to a dead man smelling the cause of his death. "Oh, it smells good, right?" She smiled. "I'm making pancakes and eggs."

"Oh, really?" Ranma's eye twitched. "Well, um, I hope breakfast goes well. But, um, me and Ryoga are supposed to be going somewhere today."

"Huh?" the lost boy in question said as he entered behind Ranma. His hair was a mess and a toothbrush was sticking out of his fanged mouth. "What's going on?"

Ranma grabbed Ryoga's wrist. "Good timing, buddy! C'mon, let's get going!"

"Eh?" The fanged boy quickly found himself dragged away. He didn't even have time to put away his toothbrush.

"Jeez," Akane sighed. "Why does everybody have things to do the one day I decide to make breakfast?" A smile quickly formed on her face. "Oh, well. They'll be missing out." She flexed her arm, still holding the spatula. Pancake batter splattered on the wall behind her. "At least my sisters and my dad and Mr. Saotome are all still here. I'm sure they'll love this!"

And thus the girl went back to creating a new form of torture.


The trip ended all too quickly for the young girl. As she and the redhead she normally loathed pulled up in front of a high school, she wished it really could have been a longer ride. Or at least they could take another spin around the block before stopping. But she supposed all good things came to an end.

Kaga stepped off the bike and pulled off his helmet, looking around. There were students milling about, but for the most part the school was empty, as it was a Sunday. "We made it in time," he said. "Come on, kid, let's get going."

"Who are you calling a kid?" Kari snorted as she followed Kaga into the schoolyard. She wasn't that young... well, okay, maybe she was. Still, didn't give him the right to call her that like he did. She took it back, he was still a jerk.

She'd still forgive him for it if he took her for another spin on his bike, though.

As they entered the schoolyard, Kari caught sight of four familiar faces. The rest of the Furinkan go club walked over.

"It's about time," Hiroshi said, exasperated. "We were beginning to think you wouldn't show."

"You knew about this?" Kari asked accusingly, dramatic finger point included. "You could have told me about it or something!"

"We tried to," Daisuke replied. "We told you to stop by the club yesterday, right? But you just went straight home instead. So we didn't get a chance."

Yeah, the girl remembered that. She hadn't wanted to deal with them that day, so she had gone home and sparred with Ryoga all afternoon. But she didn't think she had missed anything... "Er, sorry?"

"You should be thankful I was told about that and went to pick you up," Kaga said with a smirk. "Otherwise, your decision to ignore them would mean you couldn't compete."

Ignoring his jab, Kari turned and asked, instead, "How'd you know where I live, anyway?"

"I told him," Ryonami replied. She shrugged when Kari looked over at her, confused. She continued, "I've been over plenty of times to see Nabiki, so I know the directions by heart."

Kaga nodded. "Just like she said."

The group began to trek toward the school building. "You know," Chitase commented as they walked, "you're supposed to wear your school uniform."

The ninja noted how the other five were all in their Furinkan uniforms. "Well," she replied, "I didn't even know we were competing." And besides, she didn't even own a uniform. She used to care enough about fitting in to wear one, back in junior high, but she had since stopped caring so much about what society thought of her. She'd rather not wear a dress or skirt if it could be avoided, and she considered wearing uniforms quite avoidable.

As they walked, Ryonami paused for a moment. Something strange had caught her eye. Gazing to the side, she said, "I wonder who that girl is?"

Kaga looked over. "What girl?" He, too, paused when he caught sight. "What the hell?"

Now, of course, Kari had to look over to see what the two were talking about. As she turned, she stopped. "Oh, hell no..." No, that could not be what she thought...

That's when the strange girl in question caught sight of the group of Furinkan students. Her eyes locked on Kari's. "You!"

The ninja took a step back.

The strange girl took a step forward.

"Who is she?" Hiroshi asked. After all, it wasn't every day you saw a girl with teal hair with a tiger fork strapped to her back. She seemed to know Kari, too.

Ranran took the tiger fork from her back and charged forward. "I've found you!"

"Holy shit!" Kaga cried as the tiger fork missed him by less than a foot. That thing would hurt! "What the hell are you doing?"

Of course, he hadn't been the target. Kari ducked under the weapon and leapt to the side, away from her friends. Best to put space between the crazy Chinese girl and her friends. "What the hell are you doing in Japan, you crazy kid?"

"Who are you calling a kid?" Ranran admonished, pointing her weapon at the young ninja. "You're not any older than I am!"

Kari would have made a comment on how the girl didn't rebuke the 'crazy' comment, but she had more important things to worry about. Like getting away. She did a quick backspring which took her to the wall surrounding the school, then leapt over it and onto the street behind it.

"You're not getting away!" Now that she had finally found her adversary, there was no way Ranran was going to let her get away from her. Amazons were known for never letting prey go once they had tracked it down. Kind of like dogs. A few quick springs took her over the wall as well, just in time to catch Kari sprinting around a corner. She gave chase.

The go club stood gaping a few moments. It was Kaga who finally said something. "What the hell was that?"


"I can't believe it," Ranma groaned, wishing she could be in some dry clothes. She was going to catch a cold at this rate. "We can't even eat breakfast in peace."

Ryoga, currently a dog, nodded next to the redheaded girl.

They had been eating their breakfast at a nearby restaurant, hoping to avoid the pain of Akane's cooking, when a small fire broke out in the kitchen. Of course, the smoke set off the alarms in the whole restaurant, and, of course, the automated sprinkler system would activate and soak everybody in the place. Just the kind of weird events he'd come to expect to activate a Jusenkyo victim's curse.

What a way to start the day.

The pigtailed girl put her hands behind her head as she walked along the street. She briefly considered whether or not she should risk heading back to the Tendo home for some hot water. It'd be nice to be a guy again, but then she'd risk leftovers from breakfast. It was a tough decision.

She noticed when the dog next to her suddenly stopped, looking around frantically. "Eh?" Ranma looked over. The redhead wondered what had gotten into her friend. "Ryoga? What's up?" Then, out of the corner of the eye, she caught a flash of purple. She looked up.

Ryoga whimpered.

Ranma's eyes widened. Thinking quickly, she turned around and started running. "Come on, Ryoga, we gotta get out of here!" She noted as she ran that the dog was keeping up. Good, it just wouldn't do to lose the boy at a time like this.

She was thankful, though, that they left Shampoo behind.


"Please don't see me, please don't see me..." Kari was clinging to the underside of an overhang, looking down as Ranran looked around the street for her. She prayed this hiding spot would be good enough. The chase had lasted for well over an hour, and she hoped hiding would be less futile than running had been.

It wasn't. Ranran looked up. "Ha!" she cried. "I found you!" She jabbed upwards with her giant bladed pitchfork.

Kari flipped backwards, catching onto the edge of the overhand with her hands and hanging down. As the young Amazon jabbed again with her weapon, Kari threw herself off of the overhang and onto the street below.

"Stay still and die!" Ranran cried, leaping forward.

What a day to leave her weapons behind, Kari thought to herself. She quickly dodged the rapid series of jabs from the Amazon. If even one connected, it'd all be over. This tiger fork was full of sharp blades and barbs; she was sure that even one blow by it would take her out. So she dodged as nimbly as she could to avoid that fate.

"You're not going to win by just dodging!" Ranran cried. With a growl, the girl lunged forward. She found Kari's face inches away from her own, one of the girl's hands on her own and the other gripping the fork tightly.

The ninja pulled the haft of the large battle fork to her side and held it close, to give herself more leverage. "You can't beat me," she said simply.

The Amazon girl growled. She leaned back and twisted her body, pulling the fork away with all of her might.

Kari found her own strength lacking. As she lost grip, she moved to the side to avoid being cut up by the fork's passing. As it was, she lost a good section of her shirt to the bladed weapon.

Ranran lunged forward again. This time, instead of meeting the attack head on, Kari leapt above it and landed on the haft. "Stop this stupid vendetta," the ninja pleaded.

"Not until you die," was the reply she got. Ranran swung her weapon in an attempt to dislodge the ninja from it.

Kari flipped off of the weapon, landing in front of the Amazon. The weapon was far to her opponent's side, her last swing leaving her wide open. Kari gave a swift kick straight to Ranran's face. As the girl stumbled back, Kari pressed her advantage by kicking one of the girl's wrists. As one hand let go of her weapon, the ninja grabbed onto the tiger fork and jerked it away from the girl, easily taking it since only one hand was gripping it.

"H-hey!" Ranran cried. "Give that back!"

"I'd rather not, if it's all the same to you." Kari skipped back a few steps, then lazily slung the weapon over her shoulder. She felt a lot more confident now, with a weapon in her hands. Especially since it was her enemy's.

The teal-haired Amazon wouldn't stand for that. She lunged forward, hands extended in an attempt to take back her weapon. Her attempts were futile, thanks to Kari's nimble footwork in evading the young girl.

"I'm not giving this back to you," the ninja pointed out, "even if you beg." She had to admit, she did goad the girl quite a bit... but after all the little Amazon psycho had put her through, she felt she deserved to.

Ranran seemed quite offended. "A proud Amazon would never beg to the likes of you!"

"The likes of me?" Kari repeated in mock hurt. "Now that's just rude to say."

The Amazon, seeing she couldn't get her weapon back by just grabbing for it, turned to attacking with her hands and feet.

Kari responded by whacking each appendage as it approached her, using the haft of the girl's own tiger fork. It was quite like a bo staff, if you could adjust for the extra weight of the three-pronged blade and avoid striking with the blades. "Looks like your little fork doesn't wanna go back with you," she said with a smile. Now that she was fighting back instead of running away, she could recall their skirmishes in China. She was back into the groove she had lost back in Japan.

"You... you stupid foreigner!" Ranran leapt forward with a flying kick, ignoring the pains in her ankles and wrists from the whaps received by her own weapon.

Kari idly twirled the fork around, deflecting the kick to the side. "Sorry, but this is Japan. Here, you're the foreigner." As Ranran landed to the ninja's side, she brought the tiger fork around to whack the Amazon in the back of the head with the end of the haft.

Ranran stumbled forward after the hit, falling onto her knees but refusing to surrender to the darkness Kari had meant to send her into.

The ninja couldn't believe this. She brought back the tiger fork, preparing to deliver the same blow she had just given. This time, however, she found the weapon blocked.

A muttering of Chinese, which Kari didn't understand a lick of, was what Shampoo said as she blocked the strike with her Chinese sword. Behind her, Ranran stood up on shaky legs.

The ninja snorted. "Fine, I see how it is." She wasn't about to try two on one. She tossed the tiger fork to the side and leapt backwards and up, landing neatly on the roof of the one-story building behind her. She beat a hasty retreat. She was thankful that her opponents stayed behind this time.


Kari didn't breathe a sigh of relief until she was back in Nerima. Thankfully, she had been carrying enough money for a train ticket back, as she wasn't going to risk waiting for Kaga, or even heading back to where she had left her friends.

The young ninja began her trek back to the Tendo home. Too bad the home was a fair distance from the train station. She'd rather be back there as soon as possible. Maybe it was paranoia, but she'd rather not be outside any more, at least not for the day.

Her trek took her past several familiar landmarks, such as the school and Dr. Tofu's office. It was the latter that she caught sight on a young man with a broom, sweeping outside of the office. The red vest and messy black hair gave away his identity. It was Ranma's fanboy.

Katsuharu looked up as Kari passed. "Yo!" he called out, dropping the broom. "Aren't you Ranma's friend?" He trotted over, smiling broadly.

Kari sighed. "Hey," she greeted with little enthusiasm.

"I don't think I caught your name back then," the older boy said. With a bow, he said, "I'm Katsuharu Ono, of course."

"Kari Umikage," the ninja replied, giving a small, almost nonexistent, bow. "You still hanging out with the doc?"

"Yeah," Dr. Tofu's cousin replied. "I'll be hanging around here a bit." Jerking his thumb back toward where he had been sweeping, he continued, "I figured I'd help out when I could, seeing as how Tofu's letting me stay for free and all."

If the girl had been less preoccupied in her thoughts, she might have picked up on the deeper meaning of that sentence. As it is, she simply replied, "That's nice."

After a few moments of silence, Katsuharu asked, "Is that supposed to be a fashion statement?"

"Huh?" Kari wondered just what he was talking about.

"The shirt," the boy replied. "I heard it's pretty popular for girls these days to show off their stomach." He didn't quite get it, but then again, he wasn't a girl. He hadn't taken her to be the type to try and show off a lot of skin, either, but her bare midriff proved him wrong on that.

The ninja looked down. Ripped? Yeah. Must have been the Amazon's stupid fork. At least she wasn't showing anything she wasn't supposed to be, just some stomach. Still, she couldn't let others see her with a torn shirt; it might raise questions best left unanswered. She'd sneak back into her room and change out of it before anybody else noticed.

Back to his question, though. "Er, something like that." Let him believe what he wants. Looking over at the boy, she continued, "Look, I really don't have time to chat. See you around, okay?"

"Sure," the boy said in response. Walking back over and picking up his broom, he said, "Tell Ranma I said 'hey,' okay?"

"Right." Whatever.

Kari began her trek back towards the Tendo home, putting an arm around her stomach as she did so. It didn't do much to cover up, though.

Stupid Amazons.


Ranran sat on the floor as Shampoo and Cologne watched her. She had just finished her story and didn't know what else to say.

It was Cologne to speak first. "Shampoo, please leave this room," the Amazon matriarch said, addressing her great-granddaughter. "I wish to speak with Ranran alone."

"Yes, great-grandmother." With a small bow, Shampoo left the small hotel room they had rented for the week. Heading outside, she figured there wasn't much else to do but loiter. Maybe she'd get lucky and run into her prey like Ranran had.

It was a few minutes before Ranran could say anything. "I can't believe I let her escape," she finally said, admonishing herself. "I'm sorry, elder, I've failed." She bowed her head in shame.

"It's quite all right, child." Cologne was perched on her staff as she listened to the girl talk. "You're still young. There's no dishonor in losing a battle at so early an age."

"Maybe to the tribe," the young girl said, "but I have my own pride."

The elder sighed. "Pride is sometimes more of a hindrance than a benefit. You should think carefully about what is worth your pride and what is not." It was a lesson she often tried to teach, but never seemed to get across... even to herself, sometimes.

"And besides," Ranran continued, "I still gave her the kiss of death."

The matriarch nodded. "Yes." That was true enough. She paused for a moment. "At any rate, you say she was not wearing a uniform?"

"That's right," the teal-haired Amazon replied, wondering where this was going. "The group she was with were all wearing them, but she wasn't."

Cologne considered that a moment. "Well, it's possible she's friends with them, then. At any rate, your search will be more productive if we search the schools for her friends. You can get her location from them."

"And how am I supposed to do that?" the young girl said, pleading. "The city is huge! There are many schools, and many students in each one! How am I supposed to find those five students among all the students of all the schools?"

After a moment's silence, Cologne replied. "Japan is a peculiar place. They often make their citizens conform, and that is the reason they require such uniforms for school. However, while each school wishes for conformity from their students, they also wish to be different from other schools." Looking over at the young Amazon, she continued. "In other words, each school has their own uniform. All you need to do, then, is find the school where the students wear the uniforms you saw."

Ranran smiled.


Kari was thankful that their regularly scheduled cook was back to making meals. The teriyaki chicken Kasumi was much better than something made by Akane. It certainly delicious. However, she wasn't eating much. She found that she didn't have much of an appetite that evening. Instead, she pushed the food around on her plate with her chopsticks, her mind elsewhere.

She couldn't believe what had happened. She had hidden their tracks well. As a ninja, she was more than trained in tracking and its counterpart, covering tracks. Even if that track is one of paper. They had left no sign of heading to Japan, of that she was sure. Of course, she and the rest of the group fleeing China had obviously been Japanese citizens, so she supposed they could have deduced they would head back to their country of origin. But how had the Amazons narrowed it down to Tokyo? Japan was a big place, how had those two narrowed it down to one city? There was no way to trace them there, especially for those two girls. Ranran was young, inexperienced, and, while not dumb, was simply as intelligent as could be expected for a girl her age. Shampoo was simply dumb.

And why did fate deign to make the her and that girl meet at that time, at that place? She had no idea how her team had done in the tournament; she had slipped aboard the first train back to Nerima district to avoid any more Amazonian encounters. Because of that, she hadn't heard from her friends about how they had performed. Nevertheless, the girls' team wasn't even able to compete because of her absence. What an inopportune time for the hunter to find her prey.

"Yo, miss ninja."

The sound of Nabiki's voice broke Kari out of her reverie. The young girl looked up to see Nabiki staring at the girl. "What's up?" the ninja asked.

"Nothing," Nabiki replied. "You just looked lost in thought. Got anything on your mind?"

Kari shook her head. "Nothing important." Best not to worry anybody. After all, Shampoo and Ranran were probably running around looking for them in a completely different district. Tokyo was a large city, boasting a population of over 8 million and containing 23 districts. There was no way the Amazons would track them down to Nerima, especially as their encounter had been in a completely different district.

"Ah, I see." Nabiki looked over to Ranma and Ryoga. "And what about you two? No friendly jabs or martial arts talk. What's up with you guys?"

"N-Nothing," Ryoga replied.

Ranma nodded. "Yeah, nothing."

"Oh?" Nabiki smirked. "Now that's suspicious." She went back to eating, apparently unconcerned.

Ranma and Ryoga both began to sweat under the gazes of Genma, Soun, and Akane. The gazes eventually relented, though, and the two breathed a collective sigh of relief.

As Kari shoved another piece of chicken in her mouth, she considered what had gone on with Ranma and Ryoga. Well, whatever it is, it couldn't be too important. At least not as big as what had happened with her.


Kuno stood in the center of the large Zen garden in the grounds of his mansion. His eyes were closed, his hand resting on the hilt of his bokken. He was the perfect picture of a contemplating warrior. Suddenly, his eyes snapped open as he brought his wooden sword into the air, prepared to make a quick and decisive strike.

"Brother dear!"

The sudden shout interrupted his daily practice. With a sigh, Kuno turned his head to the side. "Yes, my dear and twisted sister?" It wasn't like her to interrupt his practice. Or talk to him much at all. He tried his best to avoid her, and she did likewise with him.

"You can put your sword down, brother dear," Kodachi gently scolded the boy.

As her brother followed the girl's instruction, lowering the bokken he had been using for practice, he asked, once again, "So why have you interrupted my practice?"

"A phone call," Kodachi replied, holding forth Kuno's personal phone. "It's a woman. Do you often talk to your lovers like this?"

"Ah, is it truly Akane Tendo?" Kuno made haste in taking the phone from his psychopathic sibling. "Hello? Hello? Akane Tendo?"

"And why would Akane be calling you?" a female voice replied sardonically from the other end of the line. Such delusions. Truly the hallmark of the Kuno family.

Kuno's voice fell from his hopeful voice to a low voice of disappointment. "Oh, it's only you." He looked to make sure Kodachi had left him alone. Of course, she hadn't. "So I ask of you, then, why are you calling me at this hour?"

A snicker. "Is that any way to talk to your personal advisor?"

The wannabe samurai sighed. "So what is the business you wish to discuss, my dear advisor?"

"Are all of the packages safe?"

"As you requested," Kuno replied. "They're all secured in a custom facility under the mansion. The best security measures the Kuno family can buy are guarding it. There is no fear of theft."

"Good." There was a pause on the other end. "It looks like we can begin the first part of our plan soon."

"How soon?" was Kuno's response.

"Tomorrow, we'll introduce all of the players. Call an emergency meeting of the student council tomorrow afternoon." Her instructions were curt, meant to be followed and booking no room for argument.

"Of course." Kuno thought a moment before speaking. "And the rest of the plan? When can we do that?"

"If things go well, we can begin things tomorrow afternoon, after the meeting. Hopefully, things will be complete before the end of the week."

Kuno snorted. "I don't know if I can deal with another week of such torture."

"You'll have to deal with it, Kuno." The girl on the other end of the line paused. "Look, I've got to go. Just make sure you do everything right, okay?"

The boy laughed. As if he, the Blue Thunder of Furinkan High, could ever blunder such an important task. "Don't worry about myself. I can take care of everything."

"Good. Make sure you do." Then, without so much as a goodbye, the girl hung up.

"What was that about?" Kodachi asked, seeing Kuno turn off the phone. What an interesting conversation, to be sure, even if she only heard one side of it.

"Nothing you need to worry your little head about." The elder Kuno sibling tossed his sister the phone, which she nimbly caught with one hand. "Take this back," he instructed.

"Of course, brother dear." As Kodachi walked off, she mumbled to herself, "How suspicious..." She broke out into a grin. "...But interesting."


"Are you ready for bed yet?" Akane asked with a yawn. She was dressed in her yellow pajamas and ready for a good night's sleep.

Kari struggled to get on her pajama shirt. After a few moments, she realized she had put it on backwards. "Um, almost?" she ventured. She quickly drew in her arms and spun her top around, then stuck her arms back out. Looks like it was on right this time. "Okay, ready."

"I'm beat," Akane said as she flopped down on the bed she and the younger girl shared.

In her head, Kari sighed. Akane thought she had a tough day? It was nothing compared to hers. "Me too," the young ninja said. She flopped down next to Akane. As she did, her arm brushed against Akane's. She blushed and moved it. They really needed to invest in a separate bed for her, or at least a futon. She didn't know how much longer she could keep this up, sleeping with a girl... especially one she liked.

"Well, good night." The lights were already out, so Akane simply crawled under the covers and was out like a Saotome.

Kari, in contrast, was awake longer, staring up at the ceiling. Despite her (metaphorically) longer day, she couldn't succumb to sleep quite as easily. She had a bad feeling...

Of course, that may have just been because she had fought for her life against an Amazon who had tracked her down across two countries, all over a silly feud, and was still hunting for her blood.

Yeah, that was a pretty good reason to have a bad feeling.

For some reason, though, the ninja couldn't shake the feeling that she was being watched. She shook it off, though. It was just paranoia caused by her encounter with Ranran. There was no way that girl had tracked her down to the Tendo home, so the feeling must have been paranoia. Even ninjas weren't immune to paranoia, but at least she could label it as such.

With a sigh, she closed her eyes. She really needed to get to sleep.

Unbeknownst to her, however, her instincts had not been acting on paranoia. The Tendo home was indeed under surveillance.

Across the street from the entrance was parked a nondescript light brown car. Sitting inside was a man, concealing his identity with a beige trenchcoat and fedora. He lit a cigarette as he looked at the home.

"So this is where she's staying... that girl." Next to him, on the passenger seat, there was an open manila folder. There were several typed documents and three pictures. The only picture visible was one of a young girl with blue hair. The man looked over to that picture. "I wonder if..." He trailed off in mid-sentence.

Several minutes passed as he watched the house. Eventually, he shook his head. "It looks like there's nothing..." He trailed off again, pulling out a cigarette pack from the inside of his jacket. Tapping it lightly to pull out a cigarette, he said, "I guess I can let them get away a bit longer." He put away the pack of cigarettes as he brought the one he had procured from the pack to his lips. He swiftly brought out his lighter and lit it.

With no more reason to stick around, he brought his car to gear and drove away.

He had a feeling he'd be back, though... and soon.


End Chapter Seventeen

To be continued...


Author's Notes: Stuff happens.

I'll write more soon, so keep reading.

The new arc's been in progress for a bit, though you won't see the fruits of its labor until next chapter. Stay tuned.

Things pick up next chapter.