Disclaimer: Guess what? I own nothing. I bet it doesn't surprise anyone.

A/N: while watching the end of "Big Bother", I realized that was probably one of the episodes in which Monkey Fist got hurt the most. I mean, the guy had boulders falling on him: those are bound to have done some damage…and since I simply love putting my favourite characters in difficult situations, I simply had to write this. It's set directly after "Big Bother", and you might not get the ending if you haven't seen "Oh No! Yono".
Thanks a lot to
Spicyweasel for helping me with the title choice.

Enjoy.


Monkey Fist let out a gasp as his back violently hit the ground. He groaned as he sat up, rubbing his still spinning head – what had just happened? Had it really been that infant to throw him on the ground? How could it be…?

A loud rumble interrupted his thoughts. Alarmed, he glanced up to see the large rocks falling down on him. "Uh oh."

He tired to get away from the volcano, but it was too late – he had barely enough time to get up and try to leap forward as the rocks crashed on him, pinning him face down to the ground and leaving him breathless for a few moments, a terrible bolt of pain shooting through his back. He opened his mouth to scream, but breathless as he was he could only gasp helplessly. He weakly tried to move, but everything seemed suddenly dazed, and even the sharp pain in his back seemed oddly distant – he knew that meant he was about to pass out.

He closed his eyes, his eyelids suddenly feeling terribly heavy, and he let his head fall on the ground – he felt like he hadn't enough strength left to hold his head up. He faintly heard steps approaching, and he knew that he had lost – he had lost again, and he had been so close…!

"No," he groaned just before he slipped out of consciousness "no…"


He stirred at the sound of a familiar chattering – his monkey ninjas, he thought confusedly as he opened his eyes. He blinked a couple of times as he saw no one: had he just imagined it? Where were they? Where was everyone? Had they just left him there?

He was about to call out for them as he heard that chattering again, coming from above his head. He heard a rock rolling down to the ground, and the weight that kept him pinned to the ground seemed to get slightly less oppressive, allowing him to breath a little more easily. Monkey Fist let out a sigh of relief as he realized what was going on – his monkey ninjas were still there, working to get those boulders off him. He tried to look up at them, but as he moved a bolt of searing pain shot through his back, causing him to cry out.

A few monkey ninjas immediately stopped getting the rocks off him and scurried down as they heard his cry, clearly worried. Monkey Fist gritted his teeth, trying to ignore the pain, and looked at the monkeys standing in front of him. "What happened?" was all me managed to ask.

Monkey Fist scowled as the monkeys told him that they had just regained consciousness to see him there – Chippy had woken them up, they added, and Monkey Fist shot the monkey an annoyed glace. No matter how much the he kept trying to say he hadn't fought just because he was holding that blasted camera, Monkey Fist was darn sure he hadn't wanted to fight against Stoppable. That little traitor – the fact he kept considering his enemy a friend was infuriating, but he tried to ignore it as he kept questioning his minions: he had more important matters at hand right now.

No, they hadn't seen anyone else: Team Possible and that blasted Yamanouchi ninja had apparently left. He bit his lower lip hard enough to draw blood, both enraged for having lost again and worried for his current situation.

He didn't like the searing pain at his back at all: that meant there could be some serious damage. After all, the rocks had hit his back – he wouldn't be surprised to find out he had some broken bone, maybe a vertebra or two: if just trying to turn and look up had been impossible and painful, he probably wouldn't be able to walk for a while…and that if the injury was really nothing more serious than just a broken vertebra, of course.

The thought it could be something more serious caused cold sweat to form on his forehead – the possibility he could stay paralysed for the rest of his life seemed a fate far worse than death to him – but he tried to chase the thought away from his mind. After all, he had felt pain while trying to move: it would have been worse if he hadn't felt anything at all, right? And he had managed to move, if only for a few inches: he had simply given up because it hurt too much.

Monkey Fist swallowed and carefully moved his arms, clenching and unclenching his hands – yes, he could move them. What he couldn't move were his legs, but that was because they were still trapped under the boulders, and he could feel them anyway. No, he decided, trying to seem more convinced than he actually was – he wasn't risking paralysis. There was probably a fracture or two, and he could deal with it – but he needed to get away from there if he didn't want to deal with it in a prison cell.

He was sure that Team Possible hadn't just left – they wouldn't leave an injuried enemy to his fate – so they would most likely soon send the authorities to get him. How kind of them, he thought cynically. He had to get away from there before they got him…but how could he hope to leave? He doubted he could simply get up and walk away with his back injuried like that: if the slightest movement caused him such pain, trying to stand up and walk without waiting for it to get better would be agony.

For a moment he considered ordering his monkey ninjas to drag him to the car already, but he decided against it: the closest place they could reach with the car was the valley below, and they would never be able to drag him down the mountain. Not to mention that he would have to be able to sit up straight and drive to get away – he refused to let any of his monkey ninjas do so anymore, especially now that he was injuried: another car crash wasn't needed, thank you so much. He would wait for a few days, he decided: it wasn't going to be nice or comfortable, but it could be worse.

Now he had to find shelter and wait for his back to heal at least partially before he could try to get away, he decided. There were plenty of small caves around: he was going to have to stay hidden there until he recovered. It could take days, and until that moment he was going to have to rely entirely on his monkey ninjas. The thought was unbearably humiliating, but he had to cope with it – it was his only chance, he thought as his monkey ninjas got the last boulder off his legs and ran in front of him, squealing.

"Do I look fine to you?" he snarled to the monkey ninjas' awkward questions, causing the poor animals to take a step back, mortified. Careful to mot move his back, Monkey Fist tried to move his legs, and he was extremely relieved to realize that yes, he could move them easily. Thankfully, it looked like there was no permanent damage. Breathing a little easier, he turned back to his minions.

"Now listen close," he said slowly "I cannot move now: my back is injuried, and I won't be able to walk until it gets better. We need to hide – they will surely send someone to get us. You go to get the supplies we left in the car, and hide the car as well," he instructed a few monkey ninjas "the authorities might be here any moment now, and they better believe we left this place. Be careful to not let anyone see you."

He turned to the others as some monkey hurried to do as they had been told. "You two, find a cave where we can stay – make sure the entrance is well hidden. And as for you, you'll have to bring me there…no, wait!" he growled as one of his monkey ninjas tried to grab his sleeve to drag him away. He was not a doctor, but he did learn the basics when he had begun his career as an explorer, and it didn't take much to know that carelessly moving someone with back injury wasn't usually a bright idea. There were some precautions that had to be taken.

"You can't move me like this – I must have at least a broken vertebra, and God knows what else. We need to keep my spine straight…" he frowned in thought, then his gaze fell on cut rope a few feet from him – the one he had used to tie up Possible and that ninja, he thought grimly "get that rope and some branches – yes, those ones should do. Now, that's what you have to do…"


Monkey Fist gritted his teeth, unable to ignore the sharp pain in his back as his monkey ninjas managed to drag him inside a cave and turn him so he would rest on his back. Following his instructions, they had managed to tie the branches around his torso to create something similar to a primitive back brace to keep his spine from moving. He still felt a terrible pain in his back, but he supposed it was the least considering the massive trauma he had suffered from.

It's not every day some boulders fall on you, he mused as he glanced up at the cave's ceiling, so it was no wonder he felt so sore. Thankfully the cave's ground was flat, so he could lie on it comfortably enough. He didn't usually fancy having sharp rocks pressing against his spine, let alone now. Monkey Fist turned his head to glance at his left – and God, wasn't it painful even to do so! – and he saw that his monkey ninjas were standing next to him, waiting for orders.

"What are you looking at? Go to get something to eat!" he snapped, causing them to whimper apologetically and scamper outside.

Monkey Fist gritted his teeth and looked up at the ceiling again in the dim light. As minutes passed by, he tried to keep his mind clear and ignore the constant pain in his back – it had to stop hurting sooner or later, he thought as he closed his eyes. For a brief moment, he wondered if he shouldn't turn himself over – if anything, her would get medical treatment – but he immediately chased the thought from his mind.

"Never," he growled to no one in particular, his voice echoing a little in the empty cave. No, it would be a cold day in hell when he would turn himself over: it would be like giving up, and that was something he had never done. He wouldn't start now – it was not over yet, he thought, gritting his teeth. He still had his aces to play, and when he recovered…oh, yes, both Stoppable and the infant were going to regret standing in his way. All of them were going to regret trying to stop him!

His vengeful thoughts were interrupted by the sound of steps and voices – someone was approaching, he realized. My, hadn't they been fast, he though with a grimace, hid aching body tensing slightly – should they find him, he knew he wouldn't be able to put up much of a resistance: as much as he loathed to admit it, without his monkey ninjas guarding him he was completely helpless now. Well, at least the entrance of the cave was narrow and well hidden by thick bushes – there was a good possibility they wouldn't notice it.

"Found anything?" a voice he didn't know asked, and the monkey man swallowed as he realized they were standing barely a few feet outside the cave "according to them, he should be around here…"

"No, nothing. He must have left, that son of a –"

Monkey Fist gritted his teeth as the second man said something quite rude about his late mother, wishing he could get up and deal with him personally. His hands actually twitched, as if he couldn't wait to use them to hurt – but the knowledge he wouldn't be able to hurt anyone but himself was enough to stop him from doing something awfully stupid.

"Yeah, we didn't find the car either. He surely left already," the first man gave a heavy sigh, causing Monkey Fist to feel utterly relieved – his monkey ninjas had apparently made it in time and hid it "we better leave and report he escaped already then. Maybe we'll be able to block him on his way back…"

The monkey man relaxed slightly as he heard them leave, thankful for deciding to not try to leave that place immediately: they would have easily found him if he had. That had been close, too close…but at least they hadn't seen the cave, and hopefully no one would get back there if they reported he had left – that meant he would be safe there until he recovered just enough to stand up and walk without too much pain.

Monkey Fist blinked and carefully turned to the cave's entrance as his monkey ninjas got back inside, squealing softly and carrying some supplies with them – some flasks of water, a couple of blankets, some wood to light up a fire and a sack filled with roots and tubers. Apparently they hadn't found much else edible other than those, he thought with a grimace as they emptied the sack…but he supposed it would have to be enough.

"Yes, I know they got here already, I heard them. I don't think they'll come back again, but we better not light up a fire for at least a couple of days just to be safe – the blankets will have to be enough and…" he blinked as he saw a monkey ninja approaching to his head with a smaller sack filled with…leaves?

"What are you doing?" he asked, and he let out a hiss of pain as a one of the monkeys put its hands under his head and raised it from the ground with an apologetic squeal "what do you think –" he began, but he trailed off as one of his minions put the leaf-filled sack under his head.

"Oh, I see," Monkey Fist let out a small sigh as his head was carefully laid back on the makeshift pillow. He had to admit that it was a lot better than just resting his head on cold stone. Besides, now he could hold his head up just enough to drink relatively comfortably. One of the monkey ninjas offered him some water, and he tried to reach out for the flask, but the burning pain that shot through his whole body as he raised his arm caused him to yelp and promptly change his mind.

The monkey had to hold the flask to his lips as he gulped down some water, and the fact he now had to rely on his monkeys for his simplest needs felt terribly humiliating. He avoided to look at them as they checked that the back brace was still at his place before placing one of the blankets on him, hating that horrible feeling of helplessness, fury and burning hate that gnawed at him, mixed with the pain.

He had been so close, he thought as he nearly chewed his lip bloody, so close…! Months of studies and research, carefully planning every detail…and he had been defeated by an infant while he was just one step from victory. Monkey Fist growled at the thought, gritting his teeth hard enough to make his jaw throb. Oh, but they would pay dearly! He would make sure that they would suffer so much more than he was now once he–

He blinked as Chippy suddenly held an object right in front of his face – it was so unexpected that it took him a few moments to realize what it was. "Don't you dare," he snarled, causing the monkey to give an apologetic squeal and quickly put the camera away, whimpering something.

"No, I highly doubt it would make me feel any better," he grumbled, looking away. There was a long, heavy silence lingering on the cave as he absentmindedly stared at the ceiling, refusing to acknowledge their presence – he preferred to not think about the situations he was in and concentrate on his next move. On the other hand, the monkey ninjas were unsure: they wished to be useful somehow, but without orders to follow they had no idea of what they could do now.

"No, I'm not hungry," Monkey Fist snapped irritably as one of them tried o speak, barely glancing at the roots and tubers on the ground "more food for you. Now let me sleep, will you?" he grumbled, closing his eyes. It was almost dawn – and he usually got up at dawn to start training immediately – but he felt so tired and sore that he didn't care. Why should he? There wasn't much else he could do other than staying there, so the timing didn't have any importance. It would take some months before he was ready to train again in any case, he thought with a grimace.

He took a deep breath, trying to empty his mind of all thoughts, and much to his relief the pain in his back seemed suddenly distant. He vaguely heard his monkey ninjas chattering – why had they stayed to follow an injuried leader's orders, he thought confusedly – before falling into a deep, dreamless sleep.


"For the last time, I'm not hungry," Monkey Fist growled for the fifth time as Chippy stubbornly kept holding the root in front of his face "why don't you get outside training with the others and just leave me alone?"

Chippy shook his head, still holding the root in front of his eyes.

"That was an order," the monkey man snarled "don't you dare to disobey, or else –" he trailed off with a scowl, realizing he wasn't precisely threatening right now.

His minion just looked at him with concern and sight annoyance – much like a nurse would look at an undisciplined patient, Monkey Fist mused. He could have found it amusing was it happening to someone else, he thought in annoyance.

"Alright, fine," he sighed – after all, he hadn't eaten since the previous day "if I eat that blasted thing will you just get lost?"

The monkey ninja nodded, looking considerably relieved. Monkey Fist gritted his teeth and reached out to grab the root, ignoring the pain as he did so – being so helpless that he needed the monkey ninjas to take care of his simplest needs was humiliating already, but he wasn't going to let them feed him as well.

Chippy did his best to not snicker at the grimace on his master's face as he began eating – those roots were awfully bitter and hard to chew – but at least he was eating something. "See? I ate it. Now go," he grumbled, staring at the ceiling. The monkey ninja gave no sign of hearing his order and just grabbed a flask of water, holding it to his lips.

Monkey Fist was about to snap and tell him to leave, but he quickly changed his mind – after all, the root had left a bitter taste in his mouth, and it wouldn't have been so bad to get rid of it. He resentfully swallowed some water before growling at the monkey again. "Fine. Now leave."

As Chippy got outside, Monkey Fist almost found himself regretting his order for a moment…almost, that was it. He slowly turned to glance to the entrance – the daily light could barely get through the thick bushes that hid the entrance, and for a moment he found himself longing for the warmth of the sun on his skin. Despite the closeness to a volcano, it could get awfully cold in there…and he suspected it would be even worse at night.

"And we can't even light up a fire," he muttered with a frustrated snort – even though he was sure enough no one would get back to look for them, he couldn't take the risk at least for another couple of days: it would be too easy to spot them if they did. He sighed, somewhat grateful for the blanket his monkey ninjas had laid on him, and he once again tried to focus on what he would do once his back got better: it felt like the only thing that kept him from going insane while he just lay there, unable to move, having to deal with the persistent pain in his back.

He would get back home as soon as he would be able to stand up and walk, of course – he couldn't afford losing time – and after that, he would do whatever was needed in order to get back in shape as soon as he could. He had still a lot of work to do: he might not have found out the true nature of the weapon, but while searching he had stumbled upon some interesting information about the weapon's counterpart. It was not over, he thought, not yet. He would find the weapon's opposite, and he would unleash it against his enemies – they would pay with their lives for putting him in that situation!

His body tensed in rage, and he yelped as a bolt of pain came from his back. No, he wouldn't let them die so easily: they would have to beg him to finish them, he thought, fiercely gritting his teeth. And maybe he wouldn't grant them death after all: it would be better having them miserable for the rest of their lives. They would witness all his power, and they would always know that they had failed, that all their efforts had been useless – he was meant to be the Monkey Master, and none of them could do anything to change that!

He sighed, a little placated by the thought. Yes, he was destined to be the Ultimate Monkey Master – that was certain. What was happening now was merely a nuisance, a small obstacle between him and the fulfilment of his destiny, maybe even some kind of test: he simply had to prove himself worthy of that title, that was all. He had to be patient and start planning his next move carefully: victory would eventually be his, for destiny cannot be stopped.

Monkey Fist nodded a little to himself, a small grin on his lips. A broken vertebra was really a little price to pay for power, the mused as he closed his eyes and tried to clear his mind enough to sleep – what else can you're hiding in a cava, unable to get up? He fell asleep quickly, his grin widening as he dreamed of himself in his rightful position as the Ultimate Monkey Master, taking his revenge.


Whatever their master was smiling about in his sleep when they got back in the cave definitely wasn't helping anymore, the monkey ninjas mused as they worriedly watched him trembling in his sleep. As expected, the temperature had lowered considerably after the nightfall – it had even begun raining, and while it was useful to fill back the flasks of water without having to walk to the nearest torrent it also caused the temperature to drop even more, and now it was quite cold inside the cave. It bothered them very little – their fur was enough to protect them, and they managed to keep each other warm by sleeping close – but it looked like their master wasn't doing as well: after all, he didn't have fur or someone to share body heat with.

They has tried to place another blanket on him, but it had been useless: Monkey Fist kept shaking with cold in his sleep, and the monkey ninjas were getting worried. If he fell ill now that he was injuried already, they had no idea of what they could do to help.

They considered waking him up at some point, but the idea was quickly discarded: he needed to get as much rest as he could, and waking him up wouldn't really have served any purpose – he would feel cold anyway after all: it wasn't like he could move around to keep himself warm. There was a brief silence as they all considered what could they do, their eyes fixed on their master's trembling form, then Chippy timidly broke the silence and squealed softly.

The other monkey ninjas hesitated, glancing at each other uneasily – they doubted their master would appreciate their initiative once he woke up. But, on the other hand, it seemed to only way to keep him warm – besides, he could do very little other than yelling them away. After just another moment of hesitations, the monkey ninjas approached Monkey Fist and silently curled against him in the attempt to keep him warm while trying to not move his back brace in any way.

It took it a few minutes for it to work, but after a while Monkey Fist slowly stopped trembling and his body relaxed, his frown turning into a more peaceful expression. He mumbled a little in his sleep, causing his minions to snicker a little as he said something about tea and banana split, but he didn't stir or wake up, and minutes later all of them were asleep as well, unaware of the rain that kept falling outside the cave.


Monkey Fist frowned and opened his eyes a little, annoyed by the morning light that got through the entrance to fall right on his face. He stirred a little, but a sudden, sharp pain in his back promptly reminded him that it wasn't precisely a good idea. Well, at lest the pain was getting more bearable. He growled, suddenly completely awake, and he was about to call for his monkey ninjas when he glanced down to see them all sleeping, curled against him as if he were one of them.

"What in the world do you think you're doing?" he nearly yelled, causing him monkey ninjas to abruptly snap out of their slumber and quickly scamper away, whimpering apologetically.

"I really hope you have a very good explanation," he muttered, his frown deepening. All the monkey ninjas turned at once to look at Chippy – he had been the one to have that idea, so he was the one who was going to explain. The monkey cringed a little under Monkey Fist's icy gaze. "I'm waiting for the explanation," he pointed out.

Chippy nervously glanced at him, whimpering a confused explanation. The monkey man's scowl deepened at first, then he blinked as his minion told him he had been trembling with cold in his sleep. "Have I?" he asked aloud, more to himself than to his monkey ninjas. He bit his lower lip as his minions quickly nodded, hating himself for that pitiful display of weakness…but after all, he mused bitterly, he was unable to get up and therefore take care of himself: his current helplessness was under his monkeys' eyes already.

And they still haven't abandoned you.

Of course not.

Don't take it for granted – how can you be certain they won't?

I'm their master! They are bound to be loyal to me!

You wish. You previous army did abandon you, did you forget it?

Monkey Fist gritted his teeth at the memory.

They could leave you here as well, and you know it – it would have been more reasonable from them to do so instead of staying, really: why should they obey to you, helpless as you are? Why should they still obey to a fallen leader?

The monkey man chased the thought away from his mind, but deep inside he couldn't help but feel worried. As much as he loathed to admit it, for the first time his life was in their hands: had his minions decided to leave him there, he knew he wouldn't have many chances to get away by himself. The thought chilled him to the bones – if they abandoned him there, he could have died: he had no way to ask for help, and he wasn't n the conditions to take care of himself.

He was snapped by his morbid thoughts by a soft squealing. He turned to his monkey ninjas, and he felt both annoyed and reassured by the worried looks they were giving him. "I understand," he finally replied, turning his head so he wouldn't have to look at his minions "well, as you can see I'm perfectly fine now. Can't you try to find some fruit? I'm not eating anther one of those blasted roots," he said sharply, ignoring the voice of reason in his head telling him that no, bossing them around like that now that his life was in their hands wasn't exactly the most intelligent thing he could do. The monkey ninjas, however, just nodded and immediately run outside to do as he had asked.

Monkey Fist breathed a little easier as they left. Their clear concern towards him was both annoying and infuriatingly moving, and that was confusing to say the least. He snorted, trying to stop thinking about how vulnerable he was, and he tried to move his arms. To his own surprise, there wasn't much pain as long as he didn't move his spine – he could move his legs almost without pain as well. Good, at least he could drink and eat by himself now. It would probably take a few more days before he could move stand up without screaming for the pain. Well, he was pretty sure he could get up already if he ignored the pain…

It doesn't sound like a good idea – it would hurt like hell. You're not that much of a masochist, are you? Just stay quiet and wait for a few more days.

Yes, that was probably the most sensible thing to do. Besides, he didn't want to put too much strain on his spine before it had at least partially healed: he would have to get some medical treatment as soon as he got back to civilization, obviously under a fake name – he was sure he could find plenty of doctors that didn't need to see any document when presented with a cheque.

He relaxed a little and reached for a flask of water, a slight frown forming on his face as he realized his hands were shaking slightly. Oh, well, that wouldn't last long: he would be back in shape in no time – and until then he would just concentrate on his research about the secret weapon's opposite, he decided as he gulped down some water, cursing under his breath as he let the empty flask fall on the ground.

Looks like even holding up a flask is too much strain for you…

Monkey Fist sighed and closed his eyes to meditate – it wouldn't be easy clearing his mind since he couldn't assume the right position, but he could manage. Keeping his eyes closed, he tried to clear his mind of all thoughts. The fact he could lose track of time didn't worry him – it wasn't going to have to go anywhere after all, and his monkey ninjas would surely be loud enough to snap him out of it as soon as they got back.

If they will get back.

Monkey Fist's eyes snapped open at the thought, but he tried to stay calm. Of course they will.

But what if they won't?

Shut. Up.

Monkey Fist took a deep breath before shutting his eyes again. Yes, he really needed to clear his mind.


Snap.

The monkey man abruptly opened his eyes as a sudden noise snapped him from his trance. He turned to the entrance, expecting to see his monkey ninjas getting back with some food, but he saw no one. Judging by the light coming from outside, it was sunset already: he had been meditating the whole day, and his monkeys were not back yet. Cold drops of sweat formed on his forehead – had they really abandoned him to his fate?

They could have.

No. No, I can't believe it.

Either that, or something happened to them. Aren't there wild dogs around here?

Monkey Fist paled. Could it be that some wild animal had found them? "They are well trained," he said weakly to the empty cave "they would get away."

Are you sure?

"They are fine. They have to be…!"

Well, if you're so sure nothing happened to them, you have to face the possibility they could have just left. If so, you must try to get away or you'll die here. There isn't much water left, is there? You better start thinking of a way to drag yourself away from –

Snap.

That sound again, followed by the sound of rustling leaves – Monkey Fist had almost forgotten it has been that sound to snap him out of his trance. He turned to see the bushes that hid the entrance were moving, and for a moment he hoped it were his monkey ninjas.

That hope was however shattered by a low growl, and Monkey Fist's eyes widened in horror as a wild dog's scarred muzzle staring at him from the bushes, its fangs bared in a vicious snarl. He instinctively opened his mouth to scream, but all that left his lips was a faint whimper as the beast began furiously biting at the bushes' branches, trying to pass through them, it's reddened eyes fixed on Monkey Fist.

The monkey man cringed, feeling like a trapped animal. As long as he could remember, never in his life he had felt so helpless – he would never be able to escape, let alone fight back. Thick as they may be, those bushed wouldn't keep the wild dog back for long as soon as it figured out the way to remove the braches…and no one would even hear his screams.

He was doomed.

No, I won't die. Not here, and not this way – I refuse to die like this!

Then don't just stay there, you fool – move! Try to move! Do something!

The monkey man immediately scrambled back against the wall, biting his lips until it bled to not scream as blinding pain came from his spine – but at least he could move it, no matter how painful it was. "Don't…" he growled at the animal, feeling suddenly furious "don't you dare! I'll make you regret the day you were born if you take just one step in here!"

The stopped growling for a moment and glanced at him with suspicion for a few moments, its ears flattening – if the human was bold enough to threaten him, maybe he wasn't quite as helpless as it seemed…then the beast smelled something in the air, something no human being would ever be able to detect: it was the scent of fear – the human was frightened.

The realization was enough to make the wild dog stop worrying. The human was wounded and unable to fight – his attempt to scare him away had been a desperate measure, but it wouldn't work. It had been days since the animal's last decent meal, and he wouldn't pass out an occasion to get some fresh meat.

Monkey Fist winced as the dog doubled its efforts to get inside. He tried to crawl further inside the cave, oblivious of the pain, horrible dread spreading in his soul.

Well, it was a nice attempt. Too bad it didn't work – it looks like this is the end.

No, it can't end this way! I'm to become the Ultimate Monkey Master – this can't be the end!

Go tell that beast.

The monkey man shuddered as the wild dog suddenly gave a pained howl, turning his attention to something behind it, and pure relief washed over Monkey Fist as he heard a familiar screeching – his monkey ninjas. They hadn't left him after all, he thought as the wild dog disappeared from the entrance. He gritted his teeth as he heard the sound of the battle outside, fervently hoping his minions would manage to take the wild dog down.

They will manage, you know that. It isn't really what makes you worried, is it? You're afraid the battle could cost the lives of some of them.

It won't happen. I taught them everything they could need.

Yes, you did. And now that they're risking their lives for you, you can't even help. How does it make you feel?

Monkey Fist's thoughts were suddenly cut of by high, triumphant squeals – his monkey ninjas had managed to chase the wild dog away, he realized, feeling utterly relieved for the second time in barely a few minutes… and he felt even more relieved when his minions finally stepped inside and circled him, chattering worriedly. A few of them were limping a little and their ninja garbs were ripped in a few points, but none of them seemed really injuried. Monkey Fist couldn't help but feel suddenly proud – he had trained them well after all.

"Yes, I am fine. Relatively," he said as his monkey ninjas helped him to lie back as before, and he winced in pain before finally resting his head on the makeshift pillow again "it was about time you showed up," he added, trying to sound stern – after all, he wouldn't have risked his life if they had been there already in the first place "what did take you so much time?"

He simply nodded as his minions explained him they had to reach the valley below in order to find some fruit, and his stomach grumbled at he took an apple – he hadn't even noticed how hungry he was. "I see," he said, taking a bite "I…uh…" he hesitated "I'm not really hungry – eat the rest. You…did a good job with that dog," he finally said, turning his gaze away from them as they began eating as well "light up a fire when you're done."

If Monkey Fist had thought that having them taking care of his simplest needs was humiliating, the fact he owed them his life seemed twice as humiliating now. Under normal circumstances he would have snapped at them for whatever reason just to prove once again that he was their master, no matter what…but right now he simply couldn't bring himself to do so. As much as he hated to admit it, they had saved his life. He sighed, feeling an odd mixture of shame, rage, relief and perhaps – perhaps – gratitude.

Those feeling were, however, quickly replaced by annoyance as a familiar object was suddenly held in front of his face.

"For heaven's sake, Chippy, keep that blasted camera away from me!" he yelled, and the monkey ninjas had a rather hard time trying to muffle their snickers.


"Not now," Monkey Fist said absentmindedly, barely looking at the monkey ninja that was putting the tea tray on the nightstand – the tea could wait, he thought as Chippy rushed to adjust the pillows behind his back, and so could the painkillers. It wasn't like he needed them much anymore – he could walk with relative ease now, and it was only a matter of time before he could start training again…and until then, he knew how to keep himself busy.

He frowned a little, as he often did when he couldn't quite understand a passage, his eyes glued on the scroll on his knees. "The Yono," he finally muttered to no one in particular, an almost predatory smile spreading on his face "yes, this is it – the other side of the weapon! Once I've unleashed the Yono, nothing will stand in my way! I will –" he trailed off with a growl as Chippy asked something, forgetting that interrupting his master while he was rambling was generally not a good idea.

"Yes, yes, whatever," he muttered without even knowing what the monkey had asked, his eyes still fixed on the scroll "now go away."

Chippy quickly bowed and happily scurried out of the room – he knew his master would have liked the idea! He was sure it would have made him feel a lot better. Now he just needed to find a scrapbook for the photos he had taken…