Author's notes: This would probably be a good time to mention that "Mystical Ninja" and related characters are copyright of Konami. All characters that are not owned by Konami are owned by me.

One major convention that I use that you should be aware of is that spoken words are in plain text, while thoughts, sound effects, and songs heard in the background are always in italics. This should clear up any confusion.

Hope you enjoy the story, and please give me feedback of any kind. It would be greatly appreciated, as it is the best way for me to improve my writing.

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The storm clouds gathering around Mt. Fuji continued to grow darker and more numerous. This was no ordinary storm. The clouds had moved too fast and focused on too exact of a point for it to be more than just mere coincidence. There was something odd, something...unnatural about this assembly. And when something comes along that's both odd and unnatural, there's only one group of people fit to investigate.

Four ninjas walked through the streets of Oedo Town, which lay at the foot of Mt. Fuji. They stopped to survey the situation, and noticed people watching from their homes and passersby stopping whatever they were doing to stare at them. The civilians all whispered among themselves and pointed at these four, who apparently had quite a reputation throughout the town.

Goemon, the first member of this group and the implied leader, was a man with blue hair that was spiked in every direction. He was dressed mostly in red. His mouth went from one end of his face to the other and was situated between two rosy cheeks that almost made him look like a clown. However, anybody who called him one would find himself becoming closely acquainted to the metallic tobacco pipe he held in his right hand.

Next to Goemon was Ebisumaru, a short, portly fellow in blue. He held a paper fan in one hand and was slowly tapping the wide end in the other hand. He was the most multitalented of the group in terms of fighting, which was evidenced by the other weapons he had brought with him: a mallet, a wooden spoon, and a dancer's ribbon. An unusual arsenal, to be sure, but they had all served him well in the past.

Third in line was Sasuke, who was significantly smaller in size than the others and had metallic spheres for hands. He was a robot created by the Wise Man of Iga, to whom he was fiercely loyal. Sasuke was a force to be reckoned with, especially when his friends were in danger. He could swing the kunai in his hands with lightning speed and had a seemingly endless supply of firecracker bombs at his disposal. Even though the little guy was made of gears and wires, he surprised his companions everyday with just how much he seemed like a normal human being.

Last, but not least, was Yae, the only female of the group. She was an agent for the SSIN, an organization that investigates occurrences of both usual and unusual natures. A katana was sheathed at her side and a bazooka, a rarity in Feudal Japan, was slung behind her back. She had light green eyes and hair to match which extended down to her knees and was tied at the end with a white band. She threw some stray hairs that had partially covered her eye over her shoulder before turning to Goemon.

"All right guys," he said in a low voice. "It's time to do what we do best. I hope you guys haven't gotten too rusty over the last couple of years, cause it's time to-"

"Goemon! Goemon, don't go yet." A voice as sweet as honey had interrupted Goemon in the middle of his speech to his fellow ninjas. He was thoroughly upset by this, as he had been thinking of what to say when such an opportunity came for quite a long time. Goemon turned, his look of annoyance disappearing almost instantly as he realized who had addressed him.

Goemon's girlfriend, Omitsu, was standing behind him with a warm smile on her face. Most of the people on the streets now stared at Omitsu, who was regarded as the most beautiful woman in Oedo Town. All of the men were kicking themselves for being too slow in confessing their "undying love" for her, and many of the women were wishing they could get this kind of attention from every man they met. Omitsu was holding several rice balls in her hand and offering them to Goemon. Ebisumaru licked his lips greedily when he saw them.

"I made these for you guys so you'll have something to eat on your journey," said Omitsu.

"Umm...thanks, but, uhh..." Goemon stammered from both embarrassment and impatience. "You know we just ate, and, umm..." He could see Omitsu was starting to get upset. "We probably won't be gone for too long, so just hold onto them for us, and--"

Before he could finish his sentence, Ebisumaru leaned in between Goemon and Omitsu. "I'll take them," he interjected cheerily. Before anybody could say anything, Ebisumaru snatched the rice balls from Omitsu and began scarfing one down. Goemon grabbed the remaining rice balls out of his friend's hand and slapped the back of his head, causing Ebisumaru to cough violently and expel several grains from his mouth.

"Where are your manners, Ebisumaru?!" Goemon scolded. He turned to Omitsu. "Well I guess we'd better take them now, if it'll make you happy. I'm sorry for making a big scene out of it, we really do appreciate all the help you give us. I just really need to get going to Mt. Fuji." He was now so anxious to leave, he was starting to shake.

Sasuke and Yae watched this whole ordeal from a short distance away. Yae shook her head and a small grin formed on her face. "Hey, guys. If you're done arguing over rice balls, I think we should head out."

"Yeah, definitely," Goemon said with a huge sigh of relief. "All right, let's move out!" They began walking in the direction of Mt. Fuji, but hadn't gotten very far when they were interrupted again.

"Goemon! Aren't you forgetting something?" Omitsu called after them.

Goemon had to restrain himself to keep from screaming, but a small, inhuman yelp still managed to escape. He slowly turned his head after putting a forced smile on his face. "What did I forget, Omitsu?" he asked in the sweetest tone he could muster, though nobody present thought it was very sweet at all.

"Give me a kiss, Goemon," Omitsu said. Yae and Ebisumaru couldn't help but laugh at Goemon, whose face was now turning red as a tomato. Sasuke snickered and tried his best to hide his smile and contain his laughter.

"Go on lover boy," Ebisumaru teased after his first fit of hysterics. "Give the fair lady a kiss so we can be on our way to complete our valiant mission." Goemon sneered at his companion before walking to Omitsu and pecking her lightly on the lips.

Omitsu, now finally looking satisfied, wished them luck on their trip and waved as she watched them run off. Ebisumaru, Sasuke and Yae were still chuckling from the whole incident, which contrasted sharply with Goemon's guttural groans. They all knew Goemon loved Omitsu very much, but right now it seemed like his love of adventure was overpowering it.

Nobody spoke until they reached the foot of the mountain. It was Sasuke who broke the silence. "Mr. Goemon, sir. You said you had a great speech prepared for us before we went to investigate Mt. Fuji."

"Yeah, what about it?" Goemon asked grumpily.

"Well, I'd like to hear it."

"You already heard most of it before Omitsu interrupted me. There wasn't much more to it after that."

Ebisumaru looked shocked. "THAT was your 'amazing, inspirational speech'?! That's a bigger rip-off than an order of overpriced, disgusting dumplings."