Conor removed the grating from the ventilation shaft, slid out, and flipped down into the hallway. The walls were off white, covered in faded and chipping paint. There were thick metal doors all along the length of the hall. Most of them were closed and bolted shut but one door was open. Conor, dressed in full ninja gear, stalked forward towards that one, moving with light soundless footsteps.
Two armed guards walked out of the cell numbered 'IX'. Conor took out the first with a roundhouse kick to the jaw. The other grabbed his radio and pressed the transmit button but before he could report the situation, Conor punched him in the throat, collapsing his airway. He gargled and gasped before he fell to his knees, and then flat on his chest. Conor stepped over him as he walked into the cell.
There was a man sitting in the corner wearing a strait-jacket. He was rocking back and forth mumbling to himself. For all the world he looked like an insane weirdo but when Conor looked at him he saw a very valuable partner. Just what he'd need if he was going to finally finish the last of the Fukanaga clan.
He walked over to the man and undid his jacket, freeing him. "I hear they call you Dollhouse."
The man nodded.
"How would you like to be my friend?"
A creepy smile spread across his face. "I've always wanted a Ninja; almost had two once."
"I can give you three," Conor said, wiggling three fingers. "Do exactly as what tell you and you'll have the biggest doll collection of all time bro. You'll have the whole city. Follow me."
Dollhouse obediently rose to his feet and walked with him out of the cell. "Where are we going?" He asked.
"To get you your first toys. How would you like a Two Ton Harley?"
"Still in the box," Conor confirmed, and breaking him out will be just as easy.
Conor knew he'd need an army to take down the Fukanaga dojo and find the floating sword. He had learned a valuable lesson from his dealings with Quake: bad guys could be dumb and rebellious. If you wanted them to obey you, you shouldn't give them a choice.
"What are you smiling about?" Mike asked Owen as the latter took a seat at their usual lunch table.
"Empire City is once again a safe place. I can feel it my bones Fukanaga. The bad guys are all either in jail or running scared! Scared of us: the Supah Nin-!"
"Shhhh," Mike and Amanda both said at once.
Owen looked around to see a couple of people at the next table looking at him, listening. Charles from his algebra class had been carrying his tray to a nearby table but had stopped mid stride to listen. "—Nies," Owen finished, loudly enough for everyone to hear. He sighed heavily. "the Supah Ninnies."
"Yeah, nice save," Amanda whispered sarcastically.
"Well what else starts with 'Nin'?" he whispered back. "It's called thinking on your feet."
She covered the side of her face with one hand, out of embarrassment, as others looked at them confused, or amused.
"Oh, they still know it's you McKay, might as well embrace it," He said before starting in on his burger.
Owen embarrassing her, she was used to; it seemed to be his second favorite pastime, next to eating. What she wasn't used to was Julie, Mikes new girlfriend. Julie pulled up a chair to their table and squeezed in between her and Mike. Amanda had to scoot her chair around some to make more space.
"Hey Mike," Julie said in a super sweet voice that made Amanda want to barf. "How's your day been?"
"Great," he said back dreamily as he gazed into her eyes.
'Great?' Amanda thought to herself. Had he not noticed that Owen just dubbed them the Supah Ninnies in front of the whole school?
"Hey Julie, want to see a magic trick?" Owen offered.
After she nodded Owen said his magic words, waved a hand, somehow caused a poof of smoke to appear at their table. When it had cleared Mike's hamburger had magically moved from his tray to Owen's. That seemed to be Owen's favorite trick. Although usually it annoyed Mike, this time he clapped right along with Julie. Owen bowed slightly and started in on his extra hamburger.
Mike never seemed himself around that girl. It was almost as if… Amanda leaned towards Owen and whispered: "Do you think she's hypnotized him or something? She could be a bad guy, trying to infiltrate our group. Listen to them -" Mike and Julie were arguing as to who was cuter in ridiculous high pitched voices. Amanda regarded them with disgust. "—that's just not normal."
"Oh, don't be ridiculous."
"We've fought an insect-human hybrid and a person who shapeshifts with jelly, but this you think is ridiculous?"
"Exactly. Relax. Like I said, all the bad guys are scared," he said with that exaggerated cocky smirk of his. "All is well in Empire City. The bones don't lie."
There were flashing red lights and wailing alarms as they entered the dojo late that afternoon. Hologramps appeared to them immediately. "Which would you like to hear first? Good news, bad news, or really really bad news."
"Bad news," Mike said, already headed towards the weapon rack for his nunchucks.
"There has been a breakout at the prison." A holographic video from a security camera appeared in front of them. A person dressed as a ninja was seen picking locks, entering cells, and leaving with some rather familiar prisoners: Snakeskin, X, Two Ton Harley, and many others. Everyone he left with was wearing a collar with a thin blue strip of light.
"Dollhouse," Mike growled.
"Dollhouse is a Ninja!" Owen shouted stunned. "We're all doomed!"
"No, he's probably working with the Ishina," Amanda said before turning back to hologramps. "What's the really really bad news?"
"This feed is a few hours old," Hologramps continued. "Currently, the Ishina clan and the escaped prisoners are headed this way. It appears they know where we are, which means they know your secret identities."
Terror started to sink in at that point. Bad guys they had been dealing with for quite some time, but this was the first time the fight was coming to them. The first time their identities were known. They didn't have much hope. They could be attacked at home… or even at school.
"That's not a surprise, Owen tends to shout it out," Amanda hissed.
Owen glared at her.
"You must remember," Hologramps interrupted. "Now more than ever it is important that the three of you trust each other and work together, as one."
The three of them nodded and Owen asked for "The good news?"
"The good news is that there is still hope. There is still time to run."
"You want us to leave? Abandon the dojo?" Mike demanded. Hologramps stern expression answered his question. "No! We can't."
"There is no choice. You cannot face them. Even with Yamato you're no match. Mike you must take the floating sword and watch over it, but you must NEVER attempt to use it. If you do, it will be a danger to yourself and those you care for. If you remember nothing else I tell you, remember that."
"How about me?" Owen asked. "Can I use it?"
"Owen, in your hands a butter knife is a danger to yourself and others."
"That was a one-time mistake," Owen protested as he and the others rushed to their suits. "it was all buttery and slippery -" He shuttered at the memory of it. "- It could have happened to anyone!"
Yamato chimed in: "At least we got you and Mike to the hospital in time."
"Time is short," Hologramps said. "You must hurry."
Once they were all suited up, Hologramps gave them directions to the hiding place of the sword; it was another cavern connected to the dojo by a dangerous stretch of tunnels. He told them to get all the tools they needed because they wouldn't be returning; once they removed the floating sword from its resting place, the tunnels would collapse and the dojo would self-destruct. They'd have to leave the cavern through an escape hatch.
Mike deactivated Hologramps and started downloading him onto his cell phone as Amanda stuffed her pockets with throwing stars and Owen gave a teary goodbye to the ninja-cycles that they never got to use.
The dojo was quiet with Hologramps gone. Mike had a moment to think.
With a wave of his hand he brought up the security videos from the cameras around the house. He could see the Ishina ninjas and the escaped prisoners converging across the lawns.
"They're here already," Amanda said. "We better hurry and get the sword."
"No," Mike said. In the frame he could see Two Ton Harley throw aside his dad's car like it was cardboard. "My dad's here… we can't leave him."
Yamato marched over. "I'll protect Marty. You do as your grandfather told you."
"But grandfather said you were no match!" Mike protested.
"And neither are you. Now go!"
Mike, Owen, and Amanda looked at each other for a moment.
"If you say run I'll run," Owen told Mike. "If you say fight I'll fight."
"So will I," Amanda said. "The three of us together."
Mike looked from the security video to the tunnel that Hologramps had told them to go down. He thought of his father, of the floating sword, of the horde of villains, and of his destiny. He didn't know what to do and he only had seconds to decide.
Thanks for reading. Please leave a review.