"I can NOT believe that you did that!" Valerie Chandler said as she dragged her youngest out of the Kane Hall main entrance by his ear. "I have never been so embarrassed in all my LIFE!"
"But MOM, T. B. said-"
"And if T. B. said to jump off a CLIFF, would you do it?" Valerie responded in the classic Mom-ism.
"Actually, that's sort of what they DID," Toni said as she followed her mother and younger brother out, along with the rest of the Chandler clan, and the Wilsons as well.
Valerie shot her newest- if not youngest- daughter the 'You're Not Helping' look.
"Mrs. Chandler, if it means anything, I don't think that Matt or Thad did any real harm," Larry, Billie's older brother said soothingly. Mrs. Chandler softened- as most women did around Larry Wilson Jr.- so he went on. "As I understand it, that giant robot isn't a real project. The reason that you don't see giant robots outside of TV shows, is that they simply break too many laws of physics to work. Not even the most whacko devisor can make them work. They just keep working on that thing because they learn more from their failures than they do from their devisement successes. From what I heard, getting that thing to take three steps before the knee assembly came apart was unprecedented."
TB and Matt glowed with pride, until their mothers each gave them sharp raps on the head. Then Valerie paused, looked past her son and said, "What in the world is that?"
Looking where Valerie was gazing, they spotted the bizarre sight. Four people in black were lowering themselves from the topmost floor of Kane Hall by a rope. The largest of them was laying on his back with ropes attached to his wrists and ankles, acting as a platform for the other four. The two smaller figures had their backs to each other facing outwards, with the palms of their hands outstretched. The last two were working the black ropes with all their might, slowly lowering the arrangement inch by inch.
"Is that?" Toni shaded her eyes and peered intently. "Yes, it IS! Billie, it's those five ninjas we fought!"
"You're Kidding!" Evadne gasped. "What are they DOING?"
"Well, from here, it looks like they're trying to steal that MCH thingamabob back," Billie said matter-of-factly, her arms crossed. "Re-run time. Hey, Toni, wanna show the folks how we did it last time?"
A quip came immediately to Toni's lips, but it died with a quick glance aside at her mother. "Ah, why not? They can't have permission. You got your cell phone?"
"Roger that. You see if you can get Nikki and Ayla, and I'll see if Jade is picking up. But what about Hank and Chou?"
"Not a problem. Nikki will do a little mojo and round up the gang."
"Shouldn't we just notify Security?" Joel Chandler asked.
"What? And disrespect the Yama Dojo?" Toni asked back. "Send trained professionals against their students? Why that would be the rankest dishonor, Papa-san! No, Nikki, I'm not kidding," she added into her cell phone. "They're right here! Make with the magic, and get Hank here. Sara and Chou?" Toni chewed on it a bit. "Naaahhh... let 'em have their Parents' Day. Let's give these noids a sporting chance, and keep it to the original lineup."
"Are those REAL ninjas?" Thad asked getting up on tiptoe to see.
"Why are they doing that weird Cirque de Soliel thing?"
"We'll ask them later- after we've gotten that MCH back."
But before Nikki, Jade, Ayla or Hank could get there, and the Ninjas were halfway to the ground, a striking figure in red and white stood forth and loudly proclaimed, "STOP!" The young man copped a pose in a 'Captain America, by way of Canada' outfit, complete with round shield bossed by a red maple leaf. "In the name of the Confederation of Canada, I order you to cease your felonious efforts and surrender yourself to Whateley Security, or face the wrath of... The Vindicators!" A team of five other figures, one of them a female giant, arranged themselves behind the speaker.
" 'The Vindicators'?" Evadne asked. "Are they one of those training teams that you were telling us about?"
"First I've heard of them," Toni muttered back.
"WHY is he rambling on about Canada?"
"Oh, that's 'Captain Canada'," Ayla said as she, her sister and sister's SO walked up. "I heard about him from Kismet- that's the blonde girl in the green swimsuit and cape. He's a Package Deal Psychic- that is he can to telepathy or ESP or telekinesis, one at a time- and a pretty powerful one, but he's gotta psyche himself up to do it first. Apparently the only thing that gets him stoked up on a consistent basis is his love for the Great White North."
By this time the lead ninja- Chaka thought that she recognized Daikon Matoi- rather casually tossed a pebble at 'Captain Canada's' head, and said loudly, "If you're going to try to stop us, you pathetic second-hand copy of an American, why don't you actually DO something?"
"I _ Am _ Canadian _ !"
As Alvin sputtered, his train of thought totally derailed, Kismet stepped forward and shouted in a dramatic French (Belgian!) accented voice, "Vindicators, Avaunt!"
" 'Vindicators, Avaunt'?" Mister Wilson echoed incredulously.
"Apparently they couldn't find an alliterative V for 'attack'."
The Vindicators all charged with a roar- except for this one pale blonde girl who stood there, rolling her eyes, who sort of schlumped forward reluctantly.
As the Vindicators charged, Gissha Guydon, the large man acting as the platform of the formation, gave a sharp cry and went desolid. The others dropped through him and landed ready for a fight, one of them carefully catching the MCH. Tennyo distinctly heard Shakatu Mikan snarl in Japanese, " 'Oh, of course the 'Serene Mist on the Morning Marsh' technique will work, we just have to get out without passing the security sensors'! Baka!"
"Delta, Gamma, Beta!" Kismet snapped. Sizemax, the giant girl, picked up Captain Canada!, and prepared to throw him at a chosen target. Kismet was right behind her furiously concentrating and making elaborate gestures while muttering to herself. Donner was just to her side, vigorously swinging his hammer, ready to either deflect attacks on the mage girl or throw the hammer or attack hand-to-hand, depending on the situation. Dynamaxx was carefully cobbling together a gadget together from components that he was carrying on his lab coat. And Lemure took a position in front of her teammates in ultra-dense mode. Sizemax cocked her arm, ready to throw Captain Canada, and picked her target.
Daikon snapped "Feather Trap!" in Japanese and stamped his foot on the ground. Mikan gestured with her hands at the same time. Suddenly one of Sizemax's feet shot up off the ground, sending her badly off balance.
"Oooohhh...!!" Toni breathed, a look of rapturous understanding wreathing her face. "VERY Nice!"
"What is it, Toni?" her mother asked, confused.
"The guy who just shouted just used a Ki technique. Basically, he sensed a convenient ley line in the Earth and charged it with a pulse of Ki so that it ran down the line and 'erupted' under the giant's foot. A limited technique, but a very sneaky one."
"You... saw... that."
"It's what she does, Missuz Chandler," Ayla said.
Windmilling wildly to counter-balance hereself Sizemax threw Captain Canada!, but she still staggered back, trampling Kismet who accidentally threw the containment spell that she was preparing, ensnaring Lemure. Captain Canada! was lobbed well over the far side of Kane Hall with a holler. Mikoshi Kyuri threw a handful of spike shuriken at the gadget that Dynamaxx was putting the finishing touches on, rattling him badly. Sarumawashi Unagi sent a sender metallic chain flying that wrapped around Dynamaxx's project, and pulled it from the German's hands.
Donner kept spinning his hammer, not quite sure what to do under the circumstances, and was caught totally flatfooted when the big ninja was thrown at him by the leader. Donner swung at the oncoming ninja, and whiffed badly when his hammer passed right through. Guydon immediately went ultra-dense as Donner recovered from the swing, and turned the Swede's efforts into a throw. Mikan made the Vindicator ultra-light, which sent him well up into the sky. Just as Donner crested, Daikon mimed pulling a bow and shouted, "Heavenly Bolt of Phallic Might!" in Japanese. He 'loosed' the 'arrow', and a brief flash flew from his hands, and went straight at Donner in mid-flight, knocking him for a loop. Just as Donner was about to hit the ground, Unagi used Dynamaxx's weapon-whatever it was- to blast him. The weapon immediately shorted out, but Donner was reeling as Gyudon pounded him into unconsciousness.
"OH, Keeewwwlll!!!" Toni gushed.
"What now?" Valerie asked, rather afraid to know.
"It's a Kamehame Hadoken!"
"Well, basically, it's where a martial artist gathers up his Ki and launches it like a blast at his target."
"You see it all the time in Anime," Tennyo commented helpfully.
Kyuri and Unagi quickly dispatched Kismet and Dynamaxx with a few quick blows, and Gyudon sat on Sizemax as Lemure watched with mixed despair from the constraints of Kismet's snare. Hank flew up with Jade in his arms, his family several yards behind, running to catch up.
"Okay, we have everybody, so let's get down to it." Toni said matter-of-factly, as though they were about to settle down for a picnic. There was a quick, bare bones strategy session, as the adults watched aghast, and then Toni stepped up. She gave a shrill whistle that got the Yama Dojo team's attention. "HEY, DAIKON-BAY-BAY! How Y'all doin'? R'member ME?" She cocked a hip in his direction and wiggled her fingers at him coquettishly.
Daikon reacted as if he'd been stung.
Toni strutted forward a few steps, assumed a posture, and gave the classic martial arts movie, 'come and get it' gesture. The five ninjas started to advance on her, but Daikon waved them back, and made as to face her alone. "BAKA!" Mikan screamed as she slapped Daikon upside the head, "We're ninjas, WE DON'T FIGHT DUELS!"
Daikon hissed, and assumed a dramatic fighting posture. "Know this, Koku-jin!" he snapped. "You have disgraced me in the eyes of my senseis! I MUST defeat you, to prove myself worthy!"
"Jeez, read manga much?"
Daikon launched himself at her with a scream, throwing a complex seven-stage combination called 'Storm over the Hokaido Shore'. If Kyrui, Gyudon or Unagi had been men of honor, they would have let Daikon finish this fight by himself. Instead, they threw shuriken at Chaka's legs. Chaka caught them in mid-flight and use them to injure Daikon's forearm with an armed parry. She then threw three of them into Gyudon's leg while he was still solid. With a negligent toss, she threw the others to where the landed in front of the assembled families. "Matt! Thad! Souvenirs! Gen-Yew-Wine authentic ninja throwing stars!"
"KEWL!" Thad and Matt said in unison as they scrambled for the shuriken. And they whined in unison as their mothers immediately took them away.
Then Toni noticed Ayla's head pop up out of the ground near where the ninjas had laid the MCH. Ayla took a deep breath, reached up and pulled the MCH under the ground with her. "Hey Daikon!" she jeered as he finished 'Storm over the Hokaido Shore' without even getting near her, "Did it ever occur to you that the entire point of you being here in the first place, was to get the Multi-Component Harness back?"
Daikon congratulated himself on not falling for her pathetically obvious trick, when he heard Kyuri gasp, "It's GONE!" On pure reflex, he turned to look, and Chaka nailed him with a kick to the jaw.
As Daikon reeled, Mikan began focusing gravity around Chaka and Daikon, figuring that a surprise weightlessness might give her team leader enough of an opening that they could escape this idiocy with some face left. "I remember you, Mikan-san," came a grave girlish voice speaking in Nihonji just off to Mikan's left.
Mikan turned to see a small delicate Japanese girl wearing the Whateley school uniform. "Jade-chan!" Mikan gasped, wondering where all the sakura (cherry blossoms) came from, all of a sudden.
"You were very kind to me, the last time that we met," Jade continued as she bowed deeply. "I thank you for that. It saddens me deeply that I must oppose you, now that you have returned to Whateley."
"Jade-chan, I only do what I must."
Jade bowed again. "I realize this. You must keep your giri to your dojo and your senseis." Actually, it was more that Mikan was scared witless of what the Senseis would do if she ever went against them, but she wasn't going to tell this girl that. "But, as you must honor your giri, so must I honor my giri to my school and teachers. You must follow your senseis orders, and I must protect my school. There is no honorable resolution. We must come into conflict, Mikan-san, though it breaks my heart." But the young girl made no move to attack. Instead, Mikan felt a deep prick in her backside, accompanied by the discomfort that comes when a fluid is injected. She spun about to face what had attacked her, but there was only a small pink plastic disk, about four or five inches across, with a 'Hello Kitty' design on it. From behind her now, Jade said, "The sedative will act quickly, Mikan-chan, but it will take a while. Still, the first thing that will happen, is that the drug will interfere with your ability to perform complex actions, like using your powers. Please, I beg you, do not struggle or try to escape. Drugged as you are, you might hurt yourself in the attempt."
The sedative worked quickly with the adrenaline crash, and Mikan began drooping. Jade caught her and bore her to the ground, holding the kunoichi's head in her lap. "Just relax..." Jade said soothingly, "Let the drug do it's work. You did everything that you honorably could... I am very sorry that it had to happen this way..." And Mikan wondered why her imagination supplied the melancholy koto music; she hated koto music.
As Hank and Billie charged, Nikki stayed behind, weaving a complex lattice of pale blue and purple energies. Actually, she had no intention of really using any magic against any of the ninjas. That would have ended it too quickly, and Hank hadn't gotten a shot at them last time. But her making meaningless patterns in the air would keep the ninjas worried and off-balance. Unfortunately, their cunning plan didn't count on Sarumawashi Unagi actually being a competent fighter, who remembered her spellcraft all too well from the last time. He launched a flight of smoke and sneezing powder bombs in her direction, and followed immediately in their wake. He baffled the girl with a lightning-fast barrage of feints, and then knocked her of her feet with a foot-sweep. He unsheathed his ninja-to and struck in a single fluid iaijutsu maneuver. But Nikki pulled a large gleaming silver scimitar from... somewhere... and parried the blow. Observing that the large clumsy blade was somehow gouging a huge nock in his ninja-to, Unagi performed the 'Rolling wave knocks unwary fisherman out of the boat' maneuver, and disarmed the girl at the cost of his own cheap sword. He pressed the fight into close-quarters combat, wearing at the beautiful young Amerika-jin girl who could barely keep up in hand-to-hand combat. Unagi saw his opening, gathered himself to strike-
And was buried under a dogpile, as first Stalwart, then Vince Chandler, then Larry Wilson Jr., and then every red-blooded young male for a hundred yards around, leapt on top of him, all fighting each other for a chance at beating the crap out of the sleazebag who hit Nikki Reilly.
Hank charged at Gyudon and Billie flew straight at Kyuri. Kyuri had his new sword out, charged with the power of his tiger spirit. He thought of how hard he'd had to work to get this special, enchanted new sword. He thought of how hard he'd worked to attune his tiger spirit to this new sword, giving both new heights of power. He thought of his humiliation at being so easily bested by an Amerkajin FRESHMAN!
And then he saw Tennyo coming straight at him with her glowing energy sword out and he remembered WHY he'd gotten his ass kicked so badly last time. He called on the power of the tiger and blended in with the background. He performed the 'Dancing Spider evades lustful wasp' maneuver to lose the snarling girl's track. Billie looked around trying to spot him, but couldn't find any track of the weasel. "CHAKA!" she bellowed.
"On It!" Toni shouted. Using her Ki senses to spot the concealed ninja (who sort of stuck out like a sore thumb to them), Chaka gave out a sharp cry, and stomped down hard. Kyuri shot up like cork out of a Champaign bottle, not bothering to shed his protective coloration in his shock, making him all too obvious.
Tennyo zoomed up and caught him by the leg. "Hi, there," she gloated into his face as she held him upside down- and flew higher into the sky.
"WHAT?" Daikon gasped as the impact of what she'd just done dawned on him. "You know the 'Kaiju stomps on volcano's toe' technique?"
"Oh, is that what it's called? Dude, if you're going to keep teaching me this stuff, you really gotta start telling me what they're called!"
Totally enraged, Daikon did a vaulting leap away, giving himself operating room. He mimed drawing a bow and yelled in Japanese, "Heavenly B-"
Toni cut him off, miming drawing a gun from a holster, pointing her fingers as a 'gun' at Daikon and yelling, "CHAKA CHAKA BANG BANG!" The flare of Ki energy hit him square in the chest, sending him sprawling. "You're fast, Pilgrim," Chaka drawled in a truly lamentable John Wayne impression, blew at the tip of her finger, and 'holstered' it. "But I'm faster, a-hunh!"
Daikon shook the stars out of his head, and started to reach for something in his harness. But he noticed a pair of feet in front of him. He looked up to see Chaka standing over him, pointing her finger-'gun' at his head. In an equally lamentable Clint Eastwood impression, she snarled, "So- do you feel lucky, PUNK?"
Hank was getting very frustrated fighting Gyudon. While the big man might not have been the polished fighters that Daikon, Kyuri and Unagi were, he had the 'go ultra-dense to punch, then go desolid when counter-punched' bit down cold. His blows weren't doing a helluva lot against Hank, which was something, but the fight was seriously going nowhere. Then Ayla reached up out of the ground while Gyudon was desolid, and grabbed one of the shuriken still embedded in his leg. Gyudon yelped and instinctively went solid. Just in time for Hank to pop him a good one on the jaw. Gyudon went desolid again, but Ayla was waiting behind him, and 'popped' his ears by slapping the flats of her hands together against his ears. Gyudon reflexively went solid again, just in time for Hank to land his next blow. Between them, Ayla and Hank had Gyudon bouncing back and forth like a ping pong ball, until the ninja finally collapsed.
"You can stop hitting him now," Nikki said to the pile of young men vigorously pounding Unagi. "I think that he's unconscious now." Joel and Larry Sr. pulled their sons from the pile.
"Yeah," Lemure said dryly from where she was, "and while you're at it, would someone please get me the hell out of this thing?"
Then two weedy looking teenaged boys bustled up carrying a large video camera rig. As Greasy handled the camera, Peeper shoved a microphone into Nikki's face. "WARS Radio, video division! That was GREAT, Fey! Really killer action! But tell me- did you feel that you were at a disadvantage by fighting when you were fully clothed?"
Alvin 'Captain Canada!' Cuthbert finally managed to disentangle himself from the branches of the tree, but he still fell a good fifteen feet to the very hard ground. And he picked himself up and shook the tweeting birds out of his head, he noticed feet. Lots of feet. He looked up and recognized Ace and Kew of the Spy Kidz. And Pristine from Dickinson Cottage. And Slapshot and Recam, Multiplex, and a few others. He knew them all, all too well. They were all Canadians.
"Hey, Poozer," Ace snarled, "What have we told you about this stupid 'Captain Canada' crap?"
"What?" Pristine demanded, "We don't have enough problems, getting people to take us SERIOUSLY, that you gotta go running around in your stupid jammies?" Alvin could be very effective in combat, once he got his PDP powers up and running. His problem was getting the emotional juice to get them running. But while he preferred the rush of pure patriotism, he found that in a crunch, pure panic worked nicely.
And speaking of running, Alvin was quickly on his heels. His psychokinesis was putting speed to his heels, but he didn't need his telepathy to know what they'd do once they got their hands on him.