Many thanks to Oddstuffs over on Deviantart for making the cover art for this story. You rock, girl!
Venus' eyes widened as she read the words on the screen, feeling a brief flare of anger and betrayal. She stifled it quickly. This couldn't be right. Surely the words of her sensei were more trustworthy than words on a computer, despite her brother Donatello's love for the thing. She didn't usually want anything to do with it, but she had homework, and that had been Donnie's main selling point to Splinter for getting a computer and hooking it up to the internet in the first place. And so one brother spent hours in delight at the expense of his four siblings' pain and suffering. Venus quickly closed out of the page and emptied the cache (she didn't like the computer, but she wasn't stupid). She would ask him. She would do it right now.
The young girl turned around to look and see who might be in the room with her. One of Splinter's requirements for having a computer was that it be set up in the living room with the monitor facing the couch, so that everyone who wanted to could see what someone was working on. He had gotten that tip from one of the many parenting books he had scavenged, and Venus found it nothing but annoying, which was one of the rare things she agreed with all her brothers about. At the moment, however, no one was around. That in itself was rather odd. The lair wasn't that big; where was everyone? Her eternal need to know where everyone in her family was at all times temporarily overruled her need to confront Splinter about this disturbing piece of information, and she wandered into the kitchen to see if anyone was there.
Mikey was, mixing something in a bowl. He grinned when he saw her.
"Hey, Vee. I'm making play doh. Want to play with me?"
Venus tried to be kind as she smiled and shook her head. Splinter had had a talk with her earlier that month after she'd gotten into a huge fight with Michelangelo and called him a baby; secretly, she still thought he was. It was as though he had stopped maturing at age eight, which was disgraceful considering he was twelve. But she had promised her father to try to be nicer to him.
"No, Mikey, not right now. I need to ask Splinter something."
She could see Mikey try not to let his face fall, and it did twist something in her stomach to know that she was the cause of his unhappiness. But what she'd said was true, and so she left the room before he could start wheedling her into playing with him. She wondered if that was where her other brothers were: hiding from Mikey and his play doh.
Raphael was the next brother she found. He was lying on his bunk, reading a magazine. He grunted when she came into the room but otherwise did not move or acknowledge her presence, and she briefly considered tackling him and trying to get him to wrestle with her. It was her favorite game to play with Raph, though lately Splinter had expressed mild disapproval whenever they did it. She wasn't sure why, and it made it a little awkward to be around Raph sometimes. She settled for flicking him on the head as she passed. He swatted at her, but did not look up.
Donatello and Leonardo were in Donnie's "lab." Venus was a little disappointed that Leo was there too. She loved teasing Donnie about calling a small storage closet a "lab," but Leo was such a killjoy about that sort of thing that she never did it when he was around. Not that she didn't like Leo. He was maybe her favorite brother, if she had to choose (some days she wanted to take the lot of them and drop them off at an orphanage). He was definitely the most mature, and he never teased her or acted stupid. Well, never was a relative term in this case. But he was the only one of her brothers who hadn't, not even once, made a snide remark about her being the weakest because she was a girl. Which was stupid, since she was tied with Leo for strongest. And she was better than him at meditation and Splinter was even starting to teach her astral plane stuff (not that she really understood it yet). Leo looked up briefly, giving her a small smile, and then went back to helping Donnie lay wires. Donnie didn't look up at all. She leaned on the doorway and huffed. She hated the way they all ignored her sometimes. She wondered if they did that to each other too, or if she got singled out. After a moment, she bounced herself up and stomped off to Splinter's room, trying to feel satisfied that she at least knew where all her brothers were.
Walking towards his room made her remember what she was going there for, and her stomach started to roil. She hated confronting Splinter. He was her favorite, even more than Leonardo (way more than Leonardo, who was really just okay in comparison to her other brothers). He always tucked her in at night and gave her a kiss on her forehead, to seal her safe in bed for the night. Her brothers had asked him to stop doing that ages ago, but she never had. Knowing he wasn't always her stern sensei, that he was also the soft furry comfort she had known as a small child, made her feel better. She knocked on the door, twice, and waited.
"Enter, my daughter."
He always knew who it was. She had asked him once, thinking he had some great magic power that only daddies had, and it had been a bit of a let down when he'd informed her he could smell them a mile away. She opened the door and knelt down before him. He smiled, as he always did when he saw her. She couldn't be certain, because he made sure they all knew he loved them the same, but she thought she was probably his favorite. Well. She was his only daughter. That was special.
"Master Splinter, I have a question."
"Of course, Venus de Milo. You may ask me anything."
That was one thing about him she was less than thrilled with. He called them all by their proper and full names, but on her it just sounded ridiculous. She had given up trying to get him to stop after she realized he was a little ashamed at the fact that he'd named her after a piece of art and not an artist. She didn't blame him, though. He couldn't have been expected to know that sort of thing back then, and she did like her name. Just not being called the whole mouthful all the time.
"Father, I was on the computer and… I came across a website."
She saw a brief flicker of something like panic in his eyes, but it was gone before she could be sure she'd seen it. He said smoothly,
"What sort of website?"
"It was about ninjas."
There—was that relief? She frowned, trying to remember what she'd come in here for.
"What about them, my daughter?"
"Well, it was about girl ninjas. Kunoichi. And…" She was suddenly shy. It seemed disrespectful, somehow, to speak of such things in front of Master Splinter. But she had to know. "And it said that their main job was… seduction."
He didn't move. He didn't speak. He just watched her, clearly waiting for her to go on. She set her mouth in a determined pout and met his eyes defiantly.
"But that's dishonorable. The website was wrong… wasn't it?" She was displeased to hear her uncertainty leak out and water down the certainty of her words. Splinter smiled.
"I have been wondering when you might learn of this tradition. Allow me to explain."
He settled himself into a more comfortable position, which meant it was going to be a long explanation. She followed suit.
"You and your brothers, especially Michelangelo, you sometimes watch movies with ninjas in them, yes?" She nodded. "And these ninja are not like you and I, or my Master Yoshi. I have explained to you that this is mainly movie trickery. But in truth, my daughter, there were such ninja at one point in history."
Venus' eyes widened again.
"You mean there really were people who could fly and make copies of themselves and—"
Splinter held up a hand.
"Ah, no. That is still movie trickery. But there were historical ninja who performed assassinations and had no honor. And there were, at one time, female ninja who used their bodies to infiltrate their enemies' strongholds and gain intelligence."
The young girl blushed. Hearing Splinter talk about such things was just flat out embarrassing. Thankfully he went on.
"But that is not the heritage you and your brothers have been trained in. This 'historical' ninjutsu is actually a perversion of the true way of the ninja, which has been passed down from the Ninja Tribunal to many individuals throughout the centuries. Including, now, you. This way is a way of honor, of compassion and good, and in this tradition no difference is made between women and men. Indeed, the strongest member of the Tribunal in terms of physical strength is a woman. What you read on the computer does not apply to us."
Venus mulled over her father's words, trying to discern if he was being truthful. Well, Splinter was always truthful, but he did sometimes leave out big chunks of information if he felt he needed to. She suspected there was more he wasn't telling her, but she wasn't about to accuse him of lying to his face. And anyway, he had answered her most important question.
"Thank you, father. I understand."
"I am glad to hear it, my daughter. I am proud of you. You are progressing well in your studies. Someday I know you will become a great warrior."
Venus smiled, and kept the words close to her heart for a long time.
Yes, I do imagine Splinter owning as many parenting books as he could get his hands on. And reading them cover to cover. And marking them up with sticky notes and underlining passages and stuff. He may be wise, but parenting is scary.