Chapter 2

Song Kwuun, the largest city in the Monkey Region. Its abundance of energy was evident at first glance. Tall spires pierced the sky from various buildings; the transmission devices within them outputting and receiving signals. I passed quite a few transmission towers while traveling through the Monkey region. Monkey is known for its overuse of technology and for the incorporation of silver alloys into nearly everything. It's no wonder the region's colour is silver. And since they are so engrossed in technology, security systems are omnipresent, thus making any location within the Monkey region sound proof and perfect for planning conspiracies. It also makes infiltrating ten times more difficult.

From high above, Song Kwuun was a pulsing circle filled with tiny lines and rectangles. I flew upon a lacerprocta, a large, wire-thin reptile with six needle-like legs, smooth skin and transparent double wings, much like a dragonfly's. Directing its movements with my end of the Syncing device, I veered to the edge of the city. Its head turned with mine as I looked for a suitable, relatively hidden location to land. I adopted the lacerprocta's abilities through the Syncing device for a moment, causing the image to look fish-bowled and yellow tinged. I zoomed in on my intended landing pad: a tree. The heat source of a tree dwelling animal could be seen very easily. Inches from the tree's branches, I lightly dropped from the lacerprocta's back as it swooped towards the animal. Landing silently on a gnarled branch, I looked up just in time to see the lacerprocta swipe the animal with its spike-tipped legs and carry it off. I could hear crunches through the ear piece of my Syncing device. Changing the nanosecond frequency, I put the device on Dormant and proceeded to descend the twisty tree. It was a perfect cover up. The only time a lacerprocta would ever near a city would be to hunt. Of course, landing farther away was always a less risky option, but I didn't like to waste time.

I landed on the ground, straightening immediately so my cloak would not disturb the earth. It hung centimetres from the debris of the suburban forest floor. I made to adjust my sash, but found that it wasn't there. Nope, all I had to wear on this task was black clothing and my mask, which was also black. No sash for Nox. I missed it already.

Looking through the trees, I could see People milling about beyond an alleyway. People walking were creating a constant mist of dust. I made my way towards the crowd through the alleyway, leaving minute footprints behind. Near the dirt street, I viewed coughing peasants gazing blankly at those walking by. The fringes of the city were for the poor and it wasn't a very safe or well off place. It made my traveling easier, though. A cloaked figure casually stepping out of an alleyway in the outskirts of the city? It happens all the time.

It had been three days since my departure. The Monkey region is damn far away. I didn't enjoy the trek at all. Between two continents, Monkey being in one and Dragon in the other, is an island, the Pig region. I had to stop there and change transportation. This was to create inconsistency, therefore avoiding any tracking or matching observations of other nosy Ninja. Once I reached the other continent I had to change yet again. And I thought my plan to land discreetly in a tree was overdoing it. This task was very taxing and extremely difficult. The Sage better have a damn good reason for putting me, an out-of-practice Undercover Ninja, up to this task.

I had only one piece of information on me: the location and time of an upper-class meeting within Council Monkey's home. Okay, that's technically two pieces of information, but they are in relation to the same thing. The meeting was to take place at 10:00pm. I stopped in the centre square of Song Kwuun and glanced at a large clock tower. The silver second hand ticked to the twelve. The bell within the tower began to sound. Ten seconds later, the second hand overlapped the hour hand. I had eight hours before the meeting. I forgot how little time one gets to carry out a task.

I was tempted to flare out my cloak impressively as I turned around towards Council Monkey's majestic palace, but I resisted the urge. I could carry out that superfluous act when I turned to exit the room after I had killed the schemer, whoever he is... If it is a 'he'.


At precisely 9:58pm, Council Monkey opened the door to a large room containing an ovular table and chairs surrounding it. Well dressed People filled the empty chairs. Women tittered behind their fans and men laughed loudly and in a manly fashion. Within the ceiling above the room (don't ask how I got there), I crawled over to a ceiling vent. At 10:01pm I took a black bead from my satchel (my pack was hidden in the forest somewhere) and dropped it into the room. I was conveniently situated right over Council Monkey's seat. I could tell because it was extravagantly decorated and, predictably, encumbered with silver designs. The bead dropped soundlessly and unseen onto his cushion and propelled itself off right before Council Monkey sat down. I closed my eyes and a picture of dispersed dirt and fluff appeared. The little bead sprouted multiple stubby legs and crawled up a leg of the table. It continued underneath the table. I could see vast lines of rich, polished wood sliding by underneath me. The bead stopped and stabbed its sharp stubs into the underside of the table. I opened my eyes. The bead was now implanted in the centre of the table, able to hear every spoken word clearly. Now for the easy part. I shifted into a more comfortable position, hit record on my Syncing device, and waited.

What a waste of time and energy and an unnecessary risking of my life. They were People. People don't do anything. This could have hardly been a conspiracy meeting. Their conversations were full of insignificant gossip and boring-ness. I lay there with my eyelids slowly sinking, but then a robust laugh would snap them open again. At one point, I was so startled I hit my head off of a pipe. Its ring whined so loudly I thought the whole palace could hear it. To my surprise, the People and Council Monkey were creating such a ruckus with their chatter, they didn't even notice.

Finally, the room began to empty of People. Once the last person was out and Council Monkey had closed the door, I hit Stop on my Syncing device and called back the little bead. Once I had retrieved it, I proceeded to the vent that I had come in from.

Well, the only choice now was to find a place to stay, eavesdrop for any information on any future events of secrecy and then try again. I shouldn't have had high hopes for this. That's one thing I had once learned but had forgotten; always assume that things will not go directly as planned. No plan is foolproof.

A strange outcrop from the back of the main palace was my free ticket inside. I'm not sure what the tower is there for because it is very randomly placed, but it was deserted and too high up for anyone to bother looking at it. So, vertically up the vent I went and spied the room that I had snuck into. For twenty seconds I lay silent, ensuring that there was no one in the room. With careful fingers I pushed out the vent covering and put it silently on the carpet floor. Once I had crawled out and replaced the covering, I listened again for voices or movement and then contemplated my way out.

A light flashed across a window and reappeared further down a wall through another window. Fuck, what time is it? 1:37am. Great, the guards must be out. Forgot about them. I should have reviewed before embarking on this task. Well, nothing I can do about it now. At least that rules out the windows as an escape route.

I looked around the room. It was perfectly square with rugs hanging on the walls. A corner was inverted to fit in a door with stairs descending within the tower walls, I assumed. The only pieces of furniture were a chair and a table situated underneath a window. Why would Council Monkey have such a useless room?

Since the only other exit was a door (unless I wanted to be flashy and detonate a wall, but I wasn't up for that tonight), I headed towards it and opened it slowly. Faint voices echoed up from below. Stairs lining the inside of the square tower led downwards to support bars crisscrossing the tower, like a floor with rectangular holes, and the stairs continued to the bottom floor. Peering over the railing, I spotted three heads of hair resting above chairs around a table. The heads did belong to bodies, but seeing as I had a bird's eye view, the tops of their heads were all I could really see. I descended the steps and half-way down I stepped onto the support bars. I took refuge in a dark corner, sneaking along like a tight rope walker, and listened to the three talking heads.

"I think the other one was one, too," a young man with slicked back jet black hair said tentatively (assuming it's a man, or a very manly woman). Let's call him Mr. Blackhead.

"You think? But you're sure about the other one?" An older male (again, assuming it's not a manly female) with brown hair speckled with grey questioned.

"Yes, because I've seen him before. He used to tag along to represent the Monkey region at the yearly – I already told you this! Pay attention."

"Hey, I'm growing old. Memory loss." Grey-speckled guy motioned towards his greying hair.

"Alright, guys. Let's get on with this." The third, also a male (again, assuming) spread his arms defensively between the two. This guy had blonde wavy hair that he was constantly shaking out of his eyes.

"Right, well, I'm pretty sure he's one of them – ,"

"Us, technically," Grey-speckled guy interrupted Mr. Blackhead.

" – but since I'm not positive, we shouldn't do anything."

This intrigued me. If they were ordinary People, then it made sense to be talking about Ninja as 'them'. I have heard that term used many times to spite 'them'. But if 'they' are technically People, too... That made no sense. It would make more sense if those two, Mr. Blackhead and Grey-speckled guy were Ninja. Then they would be trying to differentiate Ninja from People, and Ninja would technically be them even though they are referring to Ninja as 'them'. Then the fact that Mr. Blackhead recognized a Ninja representative would fit. He didn't finish that other sentence, but I'm pretty sure he was talking about the yearly Undercover Ninja meeting.

The blonde man rubbed his face (I think, it's hard to tell from this angle), "Ask anyway. It doesn't hurt to have a Person in on it too."

"A person? My Lord, you are becoming reckless! We emphasized before that the People cannot be trusted; they are too loyal to Council Monkey." Mr. Blackhead exclaimed.

My Lord? Oh, and they can't trust their own People. This is good, this is really good.

"He's right, you know," Grey-speckled guy said calmly, "you're Council Monkey's son. You, of all people, cannot be caught doing this."

His son?! Council Monkey has a son? Oh, look. Yet another facet of Ninja that I have failed in: gathering all information before undertaking a task. I'll reflect about this later. Right now, I had hit the jackpot. He was obviously planning something devious, and now I had the proof. It wasn't Council Monkey after all.

...

I'm not recording this, am I? Crap. I whipped out my Syncing device, just holding the bead instead of releasing it into the room below. I turned it on just before the Young Lord spoke.

"I know. You're right. I'm just so fed up with this. I can't wait any longer."

"It won't be much longer, my Lord, I swear," Mr. Blackhead leaned forward, "we almost have enough Ninja on our side. Then we can overthrow Council Monkey, and soon after, Council Dragon. Council Dragon won't even hear about this until you're at his throat."

Oh, yeah. Keep it coming. This was even better. This will be gossip for years after I get back.

Mr. Blackhead was going to continue speaking when Grey-speckled guy pushed him gently back into his seat. He was suddenly tense. Grey-speckled guy's head looked about the room and stood up. I pushed back into my shadowy corner more. Grey-speckled guy slowly meandered around the room. Is he looking for something?

I was so engrossed and panicked about Grey-speckled guy that my reaction was painstakingly slow when Mr. Blackhead leaned back, throwing his gaze towards the ceiling. I snapped my head in his direction just as he caught sight of me. His eyes widened. I had already stashed away my Syncing device by the time he had leapt up, reaching for a weapon that was not there. He confusedly looked at his waist and back up at me. I reached for my silenced gun, cocked it and shot him in the chest. He fell back and hit the ground. Grey-speckled guy had finally found my location. He grabbed the Young Lord and threw him out of harm's way. The Young Lord hit a window and triggered the blinds to whip up. I dropped down onto the table, took aim and let fly another bullet. With a soft thump, Grey-speckled guy fell to the floor.

Resting my arms loosely on my bent knees, I looked up at the Young Lord, "Pretty stupid. Protecting yourself with ill-equipped Ninja. Whose brilliant idea was that?" He couldn't see the sarcastic smile behind my mask.

A light glared from the other side of the open window. An obscure outline of a person could be seen. I reflexively knocked out the Young Lord, picked him up and ran up the stairs. I know I should have just killed him, because that was what I was ordered to do, but I felt like he hadn't quite answered all of my questions. It's good to have a hostage, anyway. I was now in a bit of a pickle.

On my way up the stairs, I returned the nanosecond frequency of my Syncing device to that of my lacerprocta and switched it to Active. One-handed, which was impressive, if I do say so myself. I was hauling the Young Lord over my shoulder with the other arm. I really hope that thing gets here on time. I reached the square room at the top of the tower. I assumed that it would be empty, with enemies chasing me from behind, but when I opened the door, two Ninja greeted me with the barrels of their guns. I reflexively shot one in the leg and used the Young Lord as a shield while kicking the door closed. This caused the other Ninja to hesitate (not caused by the door closing – caused by my shield. If he shot, he would shoot the Young Lord). I stuck my gun under the Young Lord's armpit and shot the Ninja in the head, turned, and shot the other Ninja in the chest. I clambered out of a window after I shattered it and landed on the roof of the main part of the palace. Ninja from the other end of the roof were running in my direction. I closed my eyes for a brief second, a yellow image of trees dispersing and a tower coming into view appeared in my mind. I turned around, grabbed my grappling hook and threw it to an intricate spire above the tower. Reversing the hook's function, I flew up into the air, landing on the slanted roof of the tower. Running away from the oncoming Ninja, I retrieved my grappling hook and jumped off of the other side.

My lacerprocta burst out of the trees and flew under me. I landed on its ridged back, feeling it wobble for a moment from the impact. I heard a couple of shots behind me, but I was long gone by then. I plopped the unconscious Young Lord in front of me, so I could make sure he wouldn't fall. Making myself as comfortable as possible, I prepared for a long flight.