Forever and Always

Once a Ninja, Always a Ninja

"Our dilemma is that we hate and love change at the same time;

What we really want is for things to

Remain the same, but get better."

1. Dilemma

The moon hung lifeless amongst the clouds. All was silent, except the sound of fleeting footsteps and the rustling of leaves amid the undergrowth. Somewhere, a wolf howled. From the shadows and into the glade, three juvenile figures dressed in ninja outfits emerged. The boy in the green robe led the way, with the younger two tracing behind. Suddenly, he halted and involuntarily fell into stance, with the attempt to protect his siblings from anything precarious approaching.

Hasty as his younger brother was, he walked right into him. "Argh, Rocky, why did you stop for?" he hissed. He was the ninja in blue, and was known for his ill temper and esprit, with the soul of a free, wild horse.

"Colt! Be quiet!" Rocky admonished in a cautious, subdued tone. Eyeing him, he informed Colt, "He's lurking somewhere nearby. I can feel it." Defeated, Colt lifted his hands above his head in innocence, and mouthed, "Okay bro, chill."

Sighing in disgrace, Rocky further examined their surroundings through the dimness, and then added, "And make sure Tum Tum is close behind."

Without responding, Colt just rolled his eyes and turned his back to check up on his little brother. "Tum…" And this was when he realised that Tum Tum was missing. Colt's heart raced in trepidation, where did the little bugger wonder off to this time?

With concern written all over Colt's face, he swerved back around to find Rocky sneaking behind a hedge. Colt dashed over to him and lightly tapped his brother's shoulder, trying not to ruffle his concentration. However, calm and collected as Rocky was, he ignored him. Agitated, Colt tried again, "Rock, listen-" But to no avail, was cut off, "Shhhh!"

Fuming, Colt arose from where they crouched, triggering Rocky's attention. "Stay hidden! Do you want to get caught?" The spiteful silence took its toll.

Colt growled, "But…"

Rocky diverted his attention back out front, when he thought, wait a minute, something back there just didn't look… He struggled for the word… 'right'. Something was definitely amiss. Eventually realising the missing piece of the puzzle, Rocky turned to Colt, and studied his menacing expressions before inquiring,"And where the heck is Tum?"

A bit late to realise now, don't you think? Colt thought, clenching his fist. With mounting anxiety, he declared, "Tum's not here!" At the affirmation, Rocky's eyes widened in incredulity. "He's gone, and probably lost in this forest right now."

The everlasting jeering proceeded, and Rocky admitted that he was wrong to not hear Colt out earlier. Seeing that his brother wasn't going to shush anytime soon, Rocky reassured him, "Colt! Okay, I understand! We'll find him later!"

Colt looked as if he was about to burst, and gawped, "Later?! Why not now?! Don't you care about Tum, Rock?" Rocky gulped as guilt swept through him. "He's our brother! And I'm not about to abandon him out here. Not now."

Rocky comprehended with what Colt was trying to get at, and knew without a doubt that his brother had misunderstood. Rocky whacked his own forehead with the palm of his right hand, what have I gotten us into? Wanting to end the quarrel once and for all, he gestured to Colt frantically, "Look! Just calm down before he fi-"

But it was all too late.

A deadly shuriken pierced through the night, and was thrust into the trunk between the boys. They were both caught unaware, and hence staggered onto the soil. When revelation struck him, Rocky yelled, "Damn! He found us!" Reluctantly, Colt let the argument slip for the time being, and nodded in agreement. The boys joined minds, and in unison, were determined. "Let's do this!"

******

The moment grew suspenseful, and when it reached the utmost point, something, or rather someone, sprang from the cluster of trees behind. Sidestepping, the boys anticipated the worst; Rocky and Colt were ready.

Colt perceived an opening, and made the first move. "Hiyaaaa!" He bounded across the glade, arm-locked the intruder and grappled him to the ground. Colt raised a fist, priming to knock the fellow out, when he realised that he had made a big mistake.

The fellow shrieked, "Get off me, spaz!" Colt jolted at the name, for his little brother was by far the only person on Earth who would address him likewise: so curtly. He lifted his mask from his face and peered at the figure attired in the yellow robe squirming on the ground. Yep, it was definitely Tum Tum. Can I get any more ignorant? Colt sighed. He released his grip from his brother's arm and crossly stepped out of the way.

At that very instant, Rocky too removed his ninja mask to acquire a clearer view of the happening. In the moonlight, his eyes lustered a soothing green. With Rocky watching, Colt decided to hold back his profanities and instead, exclaimed, "Tum, where were you hiding this whole time?" He was about to add, we were worried, but didn't bother.

Tum Tum rose to his feet and complained, "I was not hiding!" He held out his bag of jellybeans and shook it. "I dropped these on the way, so I decided to go back for them." Tum Tum reached his fingers into the bag to grab a handful of jellybeans and one-by-one popped them into his mouth. While chewing, he further explained, "But when I went back, you guys," he stopped to shrug his shoulders, "weren't there anymore."

Assuming that Tum Tum was done with his excuses, Colt started, "Then why did you just have to appear now? I thought I had him."

Tum Tum ceased munching on his sweets to retort, "Had him? Who?" Then, he recalled why he was out in the forest with his brothers, "Oh… you mean-"

Nonchalantly, Colt slumped against the closest tree trunk. "Well, duh. Until you came along and ruined everything." Rocky silently chuckled when he managed to assess how often Colt's attitude, in this case towards their youngest brother, changed. One moment, he's worried, the next, he's teasing him like no tomorrow.

Sometimes, Colt didn't understand it himself either. He was never good with his so-called 'inner feelings'. Maybe I'm just mad at myself, for letting Tum scare us like that. Confused and not wanting to admit his wrong, Colt reposed himself and kept his cool.

Tum Tum almost snickered, "That would only ever happen in your dreams, Colt." And with that, he was affronted for the millionth time with the usual response, "Shut up, twerp!"

When Rocky awakened from his thoughts and snapped back into reality, he cleared his throat for attention, "That's enough guys, cut it out."

Giving in to Rocky's solemn demand, Tum Tum mocked for what he thought of to be the last time, "Yeah Colt, cut it out."

Before Colt was able to leave the tree and strangle his brother, another shuriken struck them. "Rocky, watch out!" Rocky gasped, and instinctively backflipped to dodge the attack. The shuriken missed Rocky by half an inch, spiralling directly into the bushes. Tum Tum and Colt gawked at each other, and then hurried over to assist their brother.

Rocky dusted the dirt off his robe, when Tum Tum came roaring, "Rockyyyy! Are you okay?" Unable to convince himself, Rocky gave them a thumbs-up before replying, "Better than ever." And at that, his brothers seemed relieved.

"Now what do we do?" questioned Colt, "It looks like he's planning to play dangerous this time." Amidst his contemplation, Rocky suggested, "One thing we can do right now is await his emergence…" Instead of seeing his brother prepare for the next attack, Colt thought he caught Rocky smirking. "In fact, I believe I got a plan."

His siblings were clearly puzzled, so Rocky drew them closer and in a stealthy manner, explained, "We're gonna put on a show."

Unsatisfied with the idea, Colt soughed, "A show? Out of all those other options, you had to pick this one?" Not understanding, Rocky asked, "And why not?"

Gesturing at his brothers, Colt made his opinion apparent, "Come on, guys. We can do better than this! And besides, do you really think he will fall for it?" Losing had never been one of Colt's virtues, so he didn't like to risk it. Instead, Colt wanted to show off his skills, to fight his way through, not act.

With a bar of chocolate clamped tight between his teeth, Tum Tum turned to face Colt, and mumbled with a nod, "You know what? This time, I actually do think the plan will work. Sorry, but I'm siding with Rocky." Colt's eyes reduced to slits as he glared at Tum Tum; he was always disagreeing with him. "Instead of blindly making our way to Gramps, he can come to us." Then, as reassurance, Rocky added, "And I never said we weren't gonna fight."

The moment fell silent as a tender breeze whispered pass. At that, Colt indifferently backed out, for he didn't know how to rebut, and not that he didn't want to. "Fine, if you say so. But if we fail, just don't come lamenting."

Rocky sneaked Tum Tum a smile, and his brother winked in return. Feeling left out, Colt slid his mask back on and decided to stop further interrupting Rocky's explanation. He was going to keep everything to himself from now on.

"And here's what we're gonna do for phase one…" with the rest of their conversation drifting off into the night.

To be continued ..