Night has fallen once again. Not that I can tell; I'm locked underground in the dungeon of a ninja fortress, with nary a window in sight. The only reason I know it's night is because the ninja guard's shift ended, and he's been replaced by a lady ninja in a significantly more revealing costume. She's wearing basically a sports bra and hotpants, plus the face-obscuring cowl, all in black.
Why even bother with the cowl at that point? People are just going to be looking at her generous cleavage rather than her face, so she probably doesn't even need to hide her face. At least, that's the excuse people use. I guess I don't really know.
My legs hurt. Whatever ointment they used to heal the stab wounds near my feet has worked miracles; the formerly gaping wounds have completely scabbed over in what I assume is less than eight hours, and I suspect that I'll be good to go in a couple of days. What'd they call it? Phoenix Tears or something? I don't know if they actually get phoenixes to cry to make it, or how they would get phoenixes to cry in the first place (I've met a phoenix, and it was pretty surly), but man, if they started selling that stuff...
Another ninja comes down the stairs, holding a tray with two bowls of noodle soup. He says something to the lady ninja in Japanese and glances toward me a couple of times. The smell of the noodles makes my stomach growl; it seems like forever since me, Seamus and Luke had breakfast at my place. I really hope they're okay.
The ninjas bow to one another, and the male ninja leaves, setting the tray on a table. The lady ninja grabs a pair of chopsticks and one of the bowls, and starts noisily slurping up the noodles. Unlike certain other ninjas, she removes her cowl before eating, allowing me to see her face. Hang on... she looks familiar.
I try to say "Hey, I've seen you before", but it comes out as "Mmmph hmmph bmphhmph" due to the gag still in my mouth. She looks at me for a moment before returning to her soup.
"You'll get your turn." she mutters. Yeah, I've definitely seen her before. I remember her from... somewhere, but I recognize her because of all of the freckles and the mole on her chin. Did I go to school with her? No, that's not right... hmm, maybe I saw her at one of the Globobot meetings I've attended? Maybe. No wait, it was...
"Ermmph!" That's right! She worked for Erick the Mad! She was one of his henchpeople. Yeah, and she mentioned offhand that she was only working with him for the money. But why would a Neo-Nazi hire ninja henchpeople if he didn't want them to sneakily assassinate people? Then again, he was Erick the Mad...
The woman sighs in satisfaction as she finishes her soup. "Ah, home cooking. Nothing like it." She picks up the tray with the other bowl on it, and opens up the cell door. I briefly consider kicking her and trying to escape, but I'm in no condition to start running for my life. Not to mention that they're at least feeding me - I suspect that, if I act out, they'll deny me even that.
"Hey, I know you!" I blurt out as she removes the gag from my mouth. "You worked for Erick the Mad, right?"
"Huh?" Her eyes wander for a moment as she hears that name. "Oh... yeah, that's right. You're Luk, right?"
"Yeah. Why were you working with a Neo-Nazi?"
"It's... I don't like to talk about it." she says, obviously uncomfortable with that particular memory. "Okay, so the boss says you have to stay cuffed, so I'm going to feed you. But make one wrong move, and you lose your supper, alright?"
She grabs a few of the noodles between the two sticks, and holds them and the bowl up to my mouth. I happily slurp the noodles down, though my unfamiliarity with being fed by someone else causes broth to dribble all over my front.
"God, you're like a little kid." she complains. "Do I need to fetch a bib?"
"No, it's fine. Let's try it again."
It takes about 10 minutes for me to finish the bowl of soup, though that's with breaks in-between as she grabs some napkins and wipes off my chest. She complains the whole way through, but despite my rather feeble attempts at eating, she lets me finish.
It's only after we're done that she notices the crowd of male ninjas watching us from behind the bars. I noticed them much earlier, but I neglected to mention it since a) it amuses me and b) I'm hungry.
"Really?" she asks the ninjas. "Are you guys so hard up for fetish fuel that watching me feed a girl is the highlight of your night? Go get some porn mags or something, weirdos." She shoos the other ninjas away as she locks the cell door behind her. "Men."
"Uh, you know it wasn't anything personal, right?" I ask. She forgot to put the gag back in my mouth, so I can at least pass the time with some small talk. "That is, when we fought at Erick the Mad's bunker."
"No, it's fine." she says. "It was just a job. We're always putting our lives on the line for jobs, it's nothing new."
"Oh, uh, yeah. But, your friends that invaded my house, they took cyanide capsules or something rather than return as failures. I just assumed that was SOP for ninjas."
"Are you kidding?" she says. "We're far too valuable to just kill ourselves when we get captured. Those were just rookies. We get all sorts of wannabes joining us because ninjas are cool and all that shit, and we make sure they know they're completely expendable until they get some field experience."
"That's... kinda dark." I say. "I mean, those are living, breathing people, and you guys just tell them to go do their missions and not to return unless they succeed? That's cruel."
"You're one to talk. How many of Erick's henchpeople did you kill?"
"Only one! And he was a Neo-Nazi!"
"True." Her mind seems to wander again for a few minutes. "So why exactly does the boss want you anyways?"
"I dunno." I say. "I figured you'd know."
"Well, if I had to guess, I'd say it's because you've taken out about four or five supervillains pretty much single-handedly. And so young, too. What are you, twenty? Twenty-one?"
"Twenty-three." I correct. "But it's not really a big deal. I don't really do anything maliciously, I pretty much do it for fun."
"For fun, huh?" she says thoughtfully. "I can't even remember the last time I enjoyed a job."
The rest of our chat is just small talk about past adventures and stuff, so I'm going to skip ahead a bit. It's weird, though - I've never really thought about henchpeople as actual people. I guess I'm just a hypocrite, but you don't really have time to think about how it'll affect their family if you break their arm while they're running at you with a knife or shooting you or whatever.
I mean, I try not to kill. I hit hard, but I always try to soften the blows to vital areas so that it hurts bad enough to get them out of the fight. And my magic, when I do use it, is usually only enough to leave burns at the worst. And when there are clerics specializing in healing magic or stuff like the Phoenix Tears floating around, it makes it easier for them to recover from that sort of thing.
But talking to Chiko (that's the lady ninja's name, by the way) has kinda put it in perspective. Just like I said, those are living, breathing people with a history, goals and motivations. Maybe they even have families that they're supporting by taking a job as a henchperson.
But at the same time, they're willingly working for people who are morally-ambiguous at the best and outright evil at the worst. Chiko worked for a Neo-Nazi who planned on using nanotechnology to create a Nazi Grey Goo nanotech god (or something like that, I was never really clear on Erick's goal - then again, he was mad), and even if he didn't tell his henchpeople that, they had to know that he was up to no good.
I mean, it'd be different if they were brainwashed or raised from birth to be perfect soldiers or something like that, but besides robots, I've only fought consenting adults. They chose to apply for that job, and they're defending their boss by fighting me. But maybe I'm just trying to rationalize it.
Anyways, Chiko's shift is over, but her replacement hasn't come yet. She's whining rather loudly about it, but she's instantly silenced when some elite ninjas come into the dungeon, followed by a hulking man (still dressed in the standard black outfit) with a golden crown set with jewels, and a golden scabbard at his side holding a presumably golden katana.
"My liege!" Chiko kneels before the Ninja King. He disregards her, instead looking right at me.
"Marlene De Luca." the Ninja King says. His face is lined and wrinkled, but his electric blue eyes still glint with intelligence and cunning. Unlike his guards, he doesn't wear a mask over his face, instead proudly showing off his magnificent beard. "But you're better known as Luk Fortuna, correct?"
How the hell did he get my real name? I haven't used it in years. Whatever, they're ninjas. "Yeah, that's right. You know, I keep telling you guys that I would've been glad to talk to you if you'd just asked me."
"We of the Clan of Plain Sight have a certain pride in our work." the Ninja King admits. "We were contracted to apprehend you, not bring you in for a nice discussion over some tea."
"Okay, so who contracted you?" I ask.
"I cannot reveal that. Again, ninja pride. However, the contractor is not scheduled to come for another week, so I am willing to make you an offer."
"Don't be so hasty to refute my hospitality." the Ninja King scowls. "We've been hearing about you for some time, and you seem to be unaffiliated with any major group. Yet, you possess strange abilities, expert physical training, and you hold several patents on the construction of Electronic Consciousnesses."
"Okay, what's your point?"
"I wish for you to tell me your secrets. You are clearly human, but you possess some sort of strange power that I have not yet encountered. Reveal that to me, and I will upgrade you to a more comfortable room with full service."
"So you're just going to take me out of a regular cage and put me into a gilded one? Yeah, I don't think so."
"As you wish. However, the contractor only specified he wanted you alive, not in what condition. If you wish to eat and drink again, you will tell me your secrets."
The Ninja King and his entourage all leave the musty dungeon. Chiko's replacement still hasn't come in, but she seems more disappointed than pissed off.
"You're kind of stuck-up." she comments. "You really have nothing to lose from telling us what kind of magic you use or whatever."
"Ninjas aren't the only ones who have pride." I say.
"Whatever." She takes her seat at the small wooden table at the other side of the dungeon, returning to looking pissed off. She doesn't seem interested in talking to me anymore.
But to be honest, I don't really know what makes a Sue a Sue. I know for sure that it's some sort of inherent quality, and some people have more of it than others, but it's hard to quantify when it manifests in so many different ways. Some people get to be impossibly smart, others get unnatural beauty or charisma, some get special powers, and that's only scratching the surface. I sort of have a mix of the above three, but I've met Sues who are better in one category than I am in three.
But the thing is, the whole 'inherently better than everyone else' idea carries some pretty unfortunate implications, or at least it does to me. So I like to think that, while Sues can be born, application's also a big part of it. See, I know a lot about software and artificial intelligences (or ECs as some people call it; Electronic Consciousness is sort of the PC alternative to AI), but I got pretty average grades in school. I just really like robots, so when I applied myself to learning about software, I got really good at it.
Same thing with Seamus. I mean, how realistic is it for a teenager to build a working humanoid robot out of spare parts in his garage? I'm pretty sure he's a Sue of the "impossibly smart" variety, though not to the same degree as I am. Even still, he was always really smart, and yeah, some people are just naturally smart, but he's only twenty-four and he owns half of the stock in the world's biggest robot-producing company. That doesn't usually happen outside of self-insert fiction, so I'm convinced he's a Sue on some level.
It's been about half a day since I tried using my probability manipulation to get the hell out of here, so I try it again. Break these chains. Nothing. Destroy the wall behind me. Nothing. Someone come rescue me.
Chiko gives me a strange look. "You're trying to use magic, aren't you? Those chains are enchanted with an anti-magic spell, so you're just wasting your time."
"I've still gotta try." I'm not sure what my probability manipulation exactly counts as, but I don't think it's magic. I guess it's technically magic, since it's breaking the laws of physics by using some sort of inherent energy, but I've fought a couple of people who have magic resistance, but they're still affected by my inherent Sue powers.
Chiko suddenly looks up. "What?"
"Huh, what is it?" I ask.
"Shut up!" She runs up the stairs out of the dungeon. I hear gunfire on the floor above us, along with shouting and pained screams. Wait, did my probability manipulation work? Has Seamus or someone else come to rescue me? I would've preferred to escape on my own, but hey, beggars can't be choosers.
A couple of male ninjas run downstairs, both glancing around wildly. One of them has a couple of bullet wounds in his chest, and he's not looking too good; the second ninja pulls the first's cowl down and slips something into his mouth, and the first ninja convulses and dies.
The second ninja swears in Japanese as a few men charge downstairs. They're all dressed in green camo with solid blue vests (which defeats the purpose of camouflage, I think, but whatever), and they're wearing identical black berets with a white seven-pointed star design on them. The soldiers gun the last ninja down with their assault rifles.
"Boss! We got a captive!" one of the soldiers shouts upstairs. Based on his looks and accent, he's French, though the rest of the soldiers look American or Hispanic. Who are these guys? The Japanese military?
An enormous black man, easily standing two heads above the rest of the soldiers, comes walking down the stairs. He's dressed in the same uniform, but he has a couple of red stripes on his beret, which signifies a higher rank, I guess. He has a huge rifle strapped to his back and a couple of knives and grenades on his belt, and he's wearing fingerless MMA-style gloves.
"Do you speak English?" the man asks me. He has a bit of a French accent too, though he seems to be perfectly fluent in English.
"Yeah, I do." I say. "I'm Luk Fortuna. Who're you guys?"
"My name is Garson Biche, leader of the Saviors." he says. "We didn't know the ninjas had any captives. We'll get you out of here once we secure the area, so just hang tight."
The Saviors? I've never heard of them. They must be a local outfit.
"Johnny!" Garson says to one of his men. "Stay here and tend to the girl."
"Yes sir!" The aforementioned Johnny, a scrawny white kid barely older than me, salutes his boss. Garson and the rest of the soldiers run upstairs, while Johnny grabs some sort of thing out of a pocket on his vest and sticks it into the cell door, which unlocks automatically.
"The Saviors, huh? What, are you guys GI Joes or something?" I ask.
"Oh, uh, I guess. I don't know, I never watched GI Joe." Johnny says. He sticks one end of the weird thing in my handcuffs, unlocking them. "We're kind of a global organization that does military and peacekeeping work all around the world."
"Yeah, so, GI Joes." I never watched the show either, but I do know enough about them to know that these guys are basically them. Oh well, they're rescuing me, so I can't complain.
"I guess." Despite being a soldier, Johnny sounds pretty nervous. Based on his age, I'm guessing this is his first field mission. He notices the wounds on my legs, which are pretty much just ugly-looking scars by this point, and grabs some gauze of some sort out of his vest.
"Oh, no, I'm fine." I say. I get up, testing how much weight I can put on my feet; to my surprise, I can stand without any pain at all. I walk around the cell a bit, but I'm still feeling pretty good. A bit hungry, though.
"Oh, good." he says. "Uh, so the boss will contact us once the area is secure, and I'm guessing we'll head back to the HQ for debriefing."
"Cool." I crack my knuckles. "But first, I've got some action to do."
"No offense, but I can't just stay here and let your group hog all the glory. These ninjas captured me, and I intend to pay them back."
"No, ma'am, I can't let you uh, do that." He tries blocking the cell door, but I brush past him.
"Don't worry, I can handle myself. I know you have orders and all that, but you can come with me if you want."
"Well, okay." Johnny grabs his gun and follows me up the stairs. It occurs to me that I have no idea where the Ninja King is, but if I know anything about castles, he's either in the middle or at the top, whichever is harder to get to. I'm going to guess the top.
There's ninja corpses strewn all over the place, but as me and Johnny run toward the stairs, we only see one or two fallen Saviors. Johnny mentions that they came in here with about forty men, and by the looks of it, they've already killed a lot more than forty ninjas on this floor alone, so they're doing pretty good. All of the dead ninjas are male, which makes me wonder what happened to Chiko...
Suddenly, a ninja drops on top of me. He vainly attempts to slit my throat, but I break his hands and floor him with an elbow to the jaw. More ninjas pop out of a hidden alcove, which raises the question of why they didn't attack the Saviors when they came through here, but maybe they have back ways throughout the castle? Whatever. The ninjas all run at me, and I jump up and roundhouse-kick one in the head while blasting two more with fire.
"Miss, get out of the way!" Johnny calls. I turn around long enough to see him aiming his rifle at me, and I barely have enough time to run up a wall and grab on to a support beam above as he empties an entire clip at the pack of ninjas. They try to get back into their hidden alcoves, but his surprisingly good aim kills all of them before they can escape.
"Not bad, kid!" I tell him as I drop down from the rafters. "You're a pretty good shot!"
"Graduated top of my class in Marksmanship." He grins sheepishly as we run up the next flight of stairs. Another ninja runs downstairs, but he's already wounded; I just knee him in the gut and step around him, but Johnny feels compelled to put a bullet through his head.
"That wasn't necessary." I say sternly. "These are people too, you know!"
"Sorry, uh, it's training." Johnny says. "Especially with ninjas, you know. They're tricky."
Even still... We climb the rest of the stairs, only to see two Saviors being absolutely dominated by a ninja. They fire wildly at her, but she acrobatically jumps around and snaps one of the Saviors' necks between her thighs. Johnny runs past me and fires at the ninja, but she dodges by doing a couple of backflips and pushing the other Savior into his line of fire.
"Oh my..." Johnny drops his rifle, horrified by his actions. Without even picking it back up, he roars in rage and charges at the ninja, who, now that she's stopped moving, I recognize as Chiko. She grabs something out of her hair and throws it, and before I can react, Johnny falls to the ground, a huge metal spike sticking out of his forehead.
"So you're trying to escape, huh?" Chiko says. "And here I thought you really enjoyed it when I was feeding you. I was planning on taping it and putting it on the Internet for a quick buck."
"That's just sick and wrong." I say. "And who would watch something like that anyways?"
"You'd be surprised." Chiko grins. She grabs another metal spike from in her hair and throws it at me, but I lean to the right as it whizzes right by my shoulder. She's just trying to disable me, not kill me. Good. That means I can show off a bit.
I respond to her spikes by conjuring a couple of fireballs with a slight explosive effect. I chuck one of them at her, but she rolls forward; but the very slight explosion knocks her off balance, causing her to end up sprawled out on the floor on her stomach. I leave the other fireball suspended in midair as I run and jump, attempting to land knee-first in her back, but she rolls out of the way.
Chiko gets up first and runs behind me, but I sweep with my other leg and hit her feet; unfortunately, she's better trained than the ninjas from before, and she stays upright. Instead, she grabs my leg and starts spinning around, chucking me at a wall after a few rotations. The impact leaves a pretty big crack in the wall, though it doesn't fully break it; but I braced for the impact, so I'm fine, albeit a bit dizzy.
She strides over to me, holding another metal spike. She thrusts it downward at the scar on my right leg, but I kick her hand and she drops it. I kick her in the chest with my other leg, and she stumbles back a few steps, enough for me to get back to my feet and strike an awesome pose. She can't help but laugh.
"You're still just as showy as before." she says. "When we fought in Erick's hideout, I remember watching as you mowed through his other henchpeople. You're skilled, but you put too much energy into looking cool."
"Like I said, I do this sort of thing for fun." I say. "If I really wanted to kill you, I could just freeze your insides or melt your brain. But it's been a while since I had a good fight, plus I need to work off a sundae and some pancakes, so why don't we just keep going?"
"What, you're not going to try and persuade me to the side of good or anything like that?"
"Why would I? We both have pride in our respective jobs." I say. "I mean, I'd be just as happy to team up with you to beat up the Ninja King, but I know that's not going to happen."
"Not a chance." Chiko mimics my awesome pose. "Okay then girlie, let's see who wins Round 2."
She attacks first, aiming a punch at my chest, but I block it with my forearm. She punches again, but I catch her fist in my other hand, but she brings up her knee, so I kick her in the stomach and knock her on her behind. I run around and grab her hair, shaking all of the rest of the metal spikes out of it. She yelps in pain and bashes me in the thigh with her elbow, causing me to lose my grip.
To be fair to her, she's pretty strong, and she has the size advantage, which she exploits by rolling forward, springing upward and catching me in the cheek with the very tip of her foot. But thanks to a combination of small but toned muscles and my magic and probability manipulation, I have the upper hand here. She's seemingly forgotten about the fireball hanging in midair, so when she tries to shoulder-check me (a rather un-ninja move, if I say so myself), I detonate the fireball, and the shockwave sweeps her off of her feet.
"Give up yet?" I ask. "I'm not above cheating, you know."
"Neither am I." She reaches into her top and grabs another metal spike, impaling me through the shoulder with it. It doesn't go all the way through, thankfully, but it still hurts. She gets up and gets right in my face.
"What are you doing?"
"I get it now. You're the kind of person who fights to get her rocks off." she whispers in my ear. "I can tell. I've always been good with body language, and your body's telling me that you want me."
"What? No, it's not like that at all!"
"Oh, but it is. You're just not admitting it to yourself yet." Chiko closes her eyes and leans in close, and-
Okay, I know I promised more fanservice, but sorry, it'll have to be later. I duck, dodging her kiss, and I punch her as hard as I can in the stomach. She doubles over, coughing up spit and blood.
"Sorry." I say as I walk off, leaving her crumpled on the floor. I grab the spike in my shoulder and rip it out; the pain's not too bad yet, and it's only bleeding a bit. That means I'll have to fight the Ninja King with only one good arm, but I'll just make up for it with magic, I guess. Or maybe these Savior guys have already taken care of him. I guess we'll see.
<- Prev | Next ->
<- Prev | Next ->