(Numbuh 4 didn't come to the departure of Master 4. And Master 4 wouldn't have noticed. He was in such shame that he kept his head hanging down as he was escorted down the corridors from the Infirmary to the Hangar, flanked on both sides by on looking KND operatives. Seeing the once proud and fearless terror Dark Grinder in such a humble and abject state the operatives looked upon him with pity more than anything else.)
(There was no pride to be had from the capture or the sentence, much to everyone's disappointment. Sector V (absent Numbuh 4) for their part, led Master 4 on his short walk to the prison ship, but if he recognized them he did not divulge his feelings by either word or gesture. He was neither in awe or admiration of his captors, nor was he in fear of his fate, or regretful of his actions; he was numb in the truest sense of the word.)
(And so Dark Grinder left Moonbase. A prisoner to those he had sought to imprison, conquered by those he had intended to conquer, and broken upon the stronghold he had sworn to break. He passed the corridors with many on lookers, but none looked upon the scene with a sense of justice or retribution, only an abject feeling of compassion and sorrow for one so mighty, who had fallen so far.)
(When Master 4 was on his shuttle, tightly sealed and of no threat to anyone, Numbuh 3 went in search of Numbuh 4 in hopes that she could alleviate his depression as she was so apt to do. She found him in one of the observatories, watching in silence as the prison shuttle flew down to Earth, bearing away his fallen friend. She walked up behind him, but refrained from giving him one of her infamous rib-crushing Rainbow Monkey love hugs.)
Numbuh 3: Numbuh 4?
(Slightly startled by the breaking of the silence, Numbuh 4 slowly turned.)
Numbuh 4: (quiet and contemplatively) Hey Numbuh 3. Oh before I forget (smiling ever so slightly) … thank you for helping me… you know "find my inner strength" and all…
Numbuh 3: (her mood
rising) Your welcome.
(She allowed a moment of silence before she spoke again.)
Numbuh 3: I'm very proud of you Wally. (She blushed slightly when she realized that she had used his real name). I know you must be tired of hearing that, but I am… you really came through for all of us... and... well...
(Here she could restrain herself no longer and instinctively wrapped her arms around his shoulders and neck, holding him tightly. As he felt himself being absorbed into her embrace his cold stare and demeanor began to soften and he allowed himself a slight smile. The embrace however did not last long, as Numbuh 22 entered the observatory and saluted Numbuh 4.)
Numbuh 22: Sir, Numbuh 1 asks me to inform you that your sector will be returning to Earth shortly and both of you are needed in the central auditorium.
(Numbuh 4 had a suspicious feeling about what Numbuh 1 and the team would be doing in the "central auditorium", but he decided to indulge everyone's wishes for him to find whatever awaited him to be surprising. He proceeded down the elevators with Numbuh 22 leading the way, and Numbuh 3 at his side. Her presence somehow helped to put him at ease. When he came to the auditorium it was dark as he had expected, and though the sudden illumination and thunderous applause astounded Numbuh 3 it did little to invoke any feelings of merriment in him.)
(Numbuh 362 stood at the central podium addressing the roaring crowds of kids that seemed to form one great smiling, clapping, screaming creature that drew strength by feeding upon every word that came from the stage.)
Numbuh 362: Thank you everyone, settle down now, let's settle down…
(Much to Numbuh 4's disappointment, Numbuh 3 let go of his hand and left his side to go sit in the front row with the other members of Sector V, but he tried not to allow his discomfort to show.)
Numbuh 362: When our enemies came forth to battle within our own halls there were many operatives that displayed great heroism in the face of nearly impossible odds. To name every act of heroism would fill more than an English Lit. Book, so I'll condense this speech to naming the most exceptional acts displayed by operatives who went above and beyond the call of duty when it mattered the most…
Numbuh 86 showed great valor in the face of many foes when the hangar was first taken, and when freed from her prison she demonstrated further heroism in driving the enemy from Moonbase completely.
(Cheers rang through the auditorium as Numbuhs 362 and 86 shake hands).
Numbuh 362: The same can be said for Numbuh 60, who alone held the hangar floor and the entrance to the base long enough for our remaining fighters to retreat. And who, when surrounded by the enemy refused to give in until completely overwhelmed by his foes.
(The cheering grew louder as Numbuh 60 stepped forward to accept a medal from Numbuh 362. After it was attached to his jacket he knuckled his forehead and saluted the whole auditorium.)
Numbuh 362: And the single greatest deed I saved to be recounted last:
I have been an operative for five years and have faced Father and other powerful adults on more occasions than I care to name or remember. Never have I encountered an adult as powerful as the one known as Dark Grinder. Even in our darkest hour, when many had been captured and the remaining few of us were being overwhelmed by our foes, one among us stood before this menace and spoke for all when he refused to back down until that foe was beaten. For this, and for his success in defeating Dark Grinder we all owe a debt of gratitude to Numbuh 4 of Sector V.
(The cheering grew so loud the floors began to shake and the whole room took on a life of its own as the walls resonated with cheers for the champion. Numbuh 4 worked hard to twist his downhearted expression into one more becoming a hero.)
Numbuh 362 And to show a small measure of that appreciation, I and the rest of Kids Next Door Global Command hereby give Numbuh 4 the rank of "Honorary Numbuh" and award him the "Hero's Medal".
(Numbuh 362 placed a gold medal around his neck and the cheering grew even louder.)
(Fearful that he may have to give a speech, Numbuh 4 gave a low bow to Numbuh 362, then to the roaring typhoon of cheers, and stepped back in line with Numbuhs 60 and 86.)
(The rest of the ceremony involved Numbuh 362 reminding the Kids Next Door of what they were capable of, and the need to be ready for Father's next move, and what it meant to be an operative, blah blah blah. Numbuh 4spent his time looking at the medal he had been awarded. It was gold and shaped like a Treehouse, with an inscription that read "HERO" and on the trunk was his number "4".)
(Though greatly honored, Numbuh 4 was very much relieved when the assembly was dismissed and he and his friends were allowed to go to the hangar and return to the Sector V Treehouse.)
(On the return flight, Numbuh 5 put a hand on Numbuh 4's shoulder, and let him know that she knew what it meant to lose a role model. And Numbuh 4 realized that indeed what he felt was similar to what Numbuh 5 must have felt when Cree defected to the adults, and he felt a growing sense of companionship.)
(When the ship landed in the Treehouse hangar, most everyone was exhausted and looking forward to a good long sleep and a late start the following morning. And though the thought appealed to Numbuh 4, his mind was still abuzz with the events of the past few days.)
(Later in the night, unable to fall asleep, Numbuh 3 wandered into the living room and found Numbuh 4 on the couch, sitting quietly with the joong bong in his lap. She approached him cautiously, clutching one of her Rainbow Monkeys tightly.)
Numbuh 3: Numbuh 4?
Numbuh 4: Numbuh 3 why are you still up, it's almost midnight?
Numbuh 3: I was worried and wanted to see how you were doing. You haven't looked well at all since you came back from Master 4's dojo, and you've just kept getting worser and worser since your big fight. Are you going to be OK Wally?
Numbuh 4: (blushing slightly at her use of his name) I don't know Kuki. Things won't ever be the same again. Master 4 is gone, and so is everything he worked so hard to make into a reality.
Numbuh 3: Not everything… he trained you didn't he? And you're still here.
(Numbuh 4 couldn't help but smile at that. Her logic was so simple and at the same time so absolute and true. Master 4 and all of his teachings had to live on, and they could only live on through him and him alone. He didn't care what anyone said about Master 4, he knew the truth about that remarkable man and he knew about all that he had stood for.)
(Numbuh 4 looked at Numbuh 3 with a twinkle in his eye. The green pools were serene and warm. Nothing concealed, only compassion to be seen.)
Numbuh 4: Uh… Numbuh
3. When I left Master 4 all those months ago, when you
found me in the forest near the Forbidden City… well before I left,
Master 4 told me that… well he said…
(He so wanted to say it, so why was it so hard to spit it out?)
Numbuh 3: What Numbuh 4? What did he say?
(Numbuh 4 realized then what Master 4 had tried to teach him: strength; a Way of true strength. Not just of the limbs and his physical being, but one that spread down into his heart and guided him through all aspects of his life. And in that moment, sitting on that couch beside Numbuh 3, Numbuh 4 came to a peace with both Master 4 and himself. Everything else would come to him in step.)
Numbuh 4: He told me to
tell you how I feel… so that's what I'm going to do.
(Clears his throat)
Numbuh 4: Numbuh 3,
Kuki Sanban. I know that at times I come off as being a real
hotheaded, insensitive jerk…
(Here Numbuh 3 tried to deny that statement, but Numbuh 4 didn't give her time to interrupt.)
Numbuh 4: …but I wanted you to know ...I do that so I can hide the fact that... I think you're really wonderful.
(And with that, he leaned in and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek. And with a small smile on his face he stood up and walked off to his room. Numbuh 3 sat there for a moment in shock at what she had just experienced, then ever so slowly she touched her fingertips to the spot on her cheek where Wally had kissed her and her face was bedecked with a smile that was big even by her standards. She turned to face the hallway he had gone down, placed a kiss of her own upon her finger-tips and gave a puff of air to send it to him.)
Numbuh 3: (giddy with happiness, but speaking only to herself) Oh Wally I knew it! I just knew it!
(And with a skip to her walk she proceeded then to bed.)
Author's Note Well there you have it. The end of Master 4 and the beginning of something new. Let me know what you thought of this story and if you'd be interested in a sequel