Meet the Ninjas
Chapter One Introducing the Family... and Suzume
"ATTENTION ALL NINJAS!! YOU ARE TO REPORT TO THE DOJO IN PRECISELY ONE HOUR!!!"
Hiro groggily opened his eyes at the sound of one of the villagers screaming his head off. He yawned and put a hand through his ruffled black hair with two questions on his mind: what time was it, and why'd he feel so tired? He cocked his head to the right and saw a pair of black ninja wear, a thin, silver sword placed into its scabbard, and a folded note on top of it. Hiro grabbed it and read it to himself.
Report to the Dojo in one hour. Be prepared, and feel free to talk to any of the villagers and ninjas here.
"Yeah, so I've heard," Hiro mumbled to himself, remembering the shrieking villager that had woke him up. He slowly got up, grabbed his new set of clothes, and made his way to the bathroom to change. Once out, Hiro grabbed his new sword and walked out the door. He quickly noticed that the rain that had drenched him last night had cleared up, leaving a beautiful scene in front of him. The sun shining brightly, the small rivers seeming to sparkle, trees bright green filled with red, ripe apples ready to be grabbed and eaten. Hiro's thoughts were soon stopped when he was greeted by a beautiful ninja girl standing in front of him, a cute smile planted on her face. She was wearing black, just like him, but less of it, as her sleeves were supposedly ripped off. Unlike Hiro's outfit, her face wasn't completely covered, just a bandana that covered her black hair, which was pulled into a ponytail. She didn't seem to have any weapons on her, just a black flute with red stripes on it she held closely.
"Konnichiwa," She finally said. Hiro blinked a few times, getting out of his thoughts once again.
"Konnichiwa," he replied back.
"You a new ninja here?" The girl asked, her voice full of happiness. Hiro nodded. "Kawaii." She held out her left hand, offering a friendly handshake. "I'm Suzume. You?"
Hiro took her hand and shook it slowly and gently. He immediately noticed that she didn't give one of those annoying two-finger handshakes most girls did. "I'm Hiro," He stated firmly. Suzume smiled.
"You want me to show you around?" she asked, seemingly ready to do anything.
"Sure," Hiro answered. Before he could say anything else, Suzume grabbed his hand and started racing down the hill, making Hiro blush a little. While in the town area, Suzume began pointing out important places and structures, such as the Dojo, some of the shops, and everybody's houses. The two finally reached a bright green field with apple trees spreaded out randomly. Suzume stated firmly that the area was the training grounds for ninjas, although nobody seemed to be training. Except for the occasional rabbit or fox that passed by, Hiro hadn't seen a living soul in the place. After a while, though, the two spotted a girl sitting against a tree, reading a book. Unlike the usual ninja, she wasn't in the usual attire for the lifestyle. Instead, she seemed to be wearing a knee-length purplish-grey dress, and a dark purple mouth-and-nose covering scarf and headband. By her side was a long Naginata spear and a few apples that had fallen to the ground.
"That's Kunoichi," Suzume pointed out. "She's the acrobat of the team." Hiro nodded understandingly. "Oh, and don't feel offended if she starts poking at you with her spear. She, well... she does that to everybody. She kinda has an obsession with keeping her distance."
"Ooookay..." said Hiro, a little confused.
"I know, its weird, huh?" Suzume questioned before pulling Hiro along with her again.
The two came across another ninja, who was hanging from a bamboo branch with his feet, bow in hand, and an arrow with a small rocket with a lit fuse attached to it pointed directly at a lone apple on the tree in front of him. The usual black ninja outfit was replaced with a camouflage attire. His black bangs hung from the top of his head, nearly touching the grass below. He seemed focused, and perfectly calm, pulling the bow's string a little more each time the apple threatened to drop.
"That's Shun over there, he's the archer of the group," Suzume began. "At first glance, he may seem anti-social, but he's actually really talkative."
With a quick nod of understanding, Hiro turned his attention back to the chamo-clad archer. Shun held the bow's string back as far as he could without snapping it off, patiently waiting for the apple to drop. Then, quicker than a flash, the apple finally fell, and the rocket-arrow flew. The arrow stabbed right through it, pinning it against the tree. The rocket's fuse finally reached the end, and blew up like the Fourth of July, sending all the apples in the tree flying. Shun catapulted himself off the bamboo branch, sending him flying into the air. He quickly pulled a few arrows out of the bag on his back, quickly firing them one by one at the falling apples. Once to the ground, he shot the remaining apples until there was only one left in the air. Shun pulled an arrow out of his bag, aimed it at the falling fruit, fired the arrow and hit it, and just before it hit the ground, he quickly rolled under it and caught it. He sat back against the now empty tree, and started eating the apple as a before-breakfast snack.
Back up the hill, Hiro stood, both shocked and amazed, his jaw to the ground. "....Did he just do that...?" he questioned in a squeaky, dumbfounded voice. Suzume just patted him on the shoulder and nodded.
"Yep. Better believe it, pal," she answered before walking off.
"Did he just DO that??" Hiro asked, his voice with a more mature, but still shocked, sound to it. He started chasing after Suzume again, knowing he wasn't gonna get any answers just standing there.
After calming himself down of all the bewilderness earlier, Hiro followed after Suzume to come across a big burly guy in black ninja clothing with a mask around his eyes. He was sitting against an apple tree, munching on one of the fruits, with a pile of apple cores lying next to him. Hiro was questioned. Surely this guy wasn't a ninja - he was too big, and he didn't have a weapon anywhere near. But then again, Suzume had said earlier that the Ninja Training Fields were only open to the ninjas and Tengu brothers. 'There might be a possibility...' Hiro thought to himself.
"That's Futo over there by the apple tree," Suzume explained simply, snapping him out of his thoughts. Hiro nodded, but couldn't stop himself from asking...
"Why doesn't he have a weapon?"
Suzume shook her head slowly, as if disappointed. "We haven't found one for him yet. He's tried some, but he's either too clumsy, too strong, or too round," she explained softly, and somewhat sadly.
"What will happen if he doesn't find one soon?" Hiro asked, his voice surprisingly full of concern. Suzume shrugged.
"I dunno," she answered silently before walking off again. Following, Hiro couldn't help but look back at the fat ninja, wondering what would happen to him if somebody didn't help him with his problem.
Walking and talking, and just plain enjoying eachother's company, Hiro and Suzume walked into a small area with a few bamboo branches bunched together. Hiro stopped walking, noticing something moving around in the tall grass, but couldn't make out what it was. Then, in a blink of an eye, he saw someone, a ninja with an orange vest with tiger stripes embedded on it, jumped out of the grass, slashing one of the bamboo branches down with what seemed like claws.
"That's Tora. He's been here the longest out of all of us," Suzume informed him, taking notice of his curiosity.
"Interesting," Hiro mumbled, watching Tora jump out of the tall grass and slash down another branch. "What's with the super long... claw... things?"
"Oh, well, Tora thinks he's a tiger," Suzume answered. "He's thought that ever since he was born." Hiro turned his attention back to the tiger-ninja, who slowly climbed on top of a boulder on all fours, slashing off the bamboo nodges one by one. Once he reached the branchy part of the tall plant, Tora destroyed the remaining parts with a spinning claw attack.
"And the claws?" Hiro repeated himself, still watching as Tora jumped back into the grass, and ran away.
"He hand-crafted them, which I thought was pretty cool," Suzume began. "He's pretty hyper, but he's very friendly, so don't expect him to lunge at you everytime you see him."
" Also, don't, and I do mean don't try to convince Tora that he's not a tiger. He will slice you," she warned. "Shun learned the hard way not to do that, and he's got the scars to prove it."
"Ouch," Hiro exclaimed, grimacing at the thought. "That must've hurt."
"Shun's not the only one, either. Some of the Tengu brothers got attacked, too. Even the Ninja Master got scratched." Hiro just looked at Suzume with a 'holy shiz-niz!' look on his face. "So just play along, and Tora won't get mad or anything," Suzume informed. "But if he ever is in a bad mood, try to stay out of his way." Hiro nodded in understanding, but with a bit of fear attached to his eyes.
"ATTENTION ALL NINJAS!! YOU ARE TO REPORT TO THE DOJO IN FIVE MINUTES!! I REPEAT, FIVE MINUTES!!!" Shouted the loud and annoying villager from before.
"Oh great, its him," Hiro sighed, and rolled his eyes. Suzume turned to him with curiosity.
"You got something against that guy, or something?" she asked.
"Yeah, actually, he's the reason I woke up," Hiro explained simply with an annoyed tone to his voice. Suzume smiled and grabbed his hand, making Hiro blush again.
"Hm.. well, we better get going," she stated. The two started walking back towards the Dojo, watching and laughing as the other ninjas just sprinted there.
"Ok, everyone, settle down, settle down. I will explain everything in a moment," the Ninja Master tried to reason with all his ninjas. They all seemed to quiet down in a matter of seconds. "Ok. Well, to start off, we have a new ninja joining us today. His name is Hiro, and he will be training with you guys for the next few months. So please, try to make him feel welcome."
"Konnichiwa, Hiro," the ninjas all seemed to say at the same time.
"Hi," he said quietly, taking a seat between Tora and Suzume. Tora quickly turned his attention to him.
"Hi, I'm Tora," he greeted quietly, full of energy. Hiro just smiled and waved. The Ninja Master cleared his throat.
"Anyways," he continued. "today you will all be training with Zen, seeing as how I have more important matters to attend to-"
"Wait a minute, wait a minute," Shun interrupted, holding a hand out. "What could possibly be more important than us? I thought training us was your top priority!" Sitting beside him, Kunoichi scoffed and rolled her eyes.
"You'll have to excuse Shun. He... doesn't understand the concept of SHUT THE HELL UP," she explained to Hiro, glaring at the chamo-clad ninja beside her. Shun just seemed to laugh it off, as if it was some kind of joke.
"Ha! Says Miss 'I have a restraining order against everybody'," He snarled back, sarcasticness hanging off his every word. Kunoichi pounded her fist against the table.
"Oh, you did NOT just go there!" She yelled, towering over her fellow ninja.
"Actually, yeah, I just did," Shun replied, completely calm and laid back. By then, everyone at the table was laughing. On the far side of the table, though, the Ninja Master sighed.
"Alright, silence, the both of you!" he commanded. Immediately, the two shut up, and Kunoichi quickly sat back down.
"He started it," she mumbled, still glaring at her ninja companion. Shun just smirked.
"Oh, come on, 'princess.' Everyone knows you love me," he cooed sarcastically. Ignoring the good imaginary angel hovering over her shoulder, Kunoichi grabbed her spear, and whammed Shun upside the head with it. "OW!" he exclaimed in pain. Kunoichi watched him sulk, smirking at her success.
"Everyone knows you love me too, 'cupcake,'" she grinned. All of the other ninjas started laughing again, and the Ninja Master just sighed and rolled his eyes.
"What am I gonna do with you guys?" he asked himself, smiling at the ninjas he had raised.
After breakfast, and the performance of the two "class clowns", the day had flown by pretty quickly. During training, Hiro had learned a few new sword fighting techniques, and some important facts about the all the ninjas from Suzume.
For instance, Kunoichi was just a few days younger than Suzume, but still a little more serious than her. She could be a little childish and a bit of a drama queen every now and then, but most of the time, her expression and personality was about as emotional as a rock. Kunoichi had always preferred to keep her distance, even as a baby, and it turned out that that was how the Ninja master had chosen a weapon for her. She never let anyone near, except for her closest friends.
Shun was the second oldest in the clan, and had only missed first place by a couple months. As Hiro had deducted earlier that day, Shun was the joker and the most talkative ninja in the group, but was also the easiest to infuriate. Apparently, everyone in the village knew that he had a love-hate relationship with Kunoichi, and was always arguing with her about something random. Hiro had asked who would usually win the fights, and Suzume had told him that it just depended on what mood the two were in. Shun was always active, and was the stealthiest of the bunch. He never failed to impress people with his arching skills, but had always failed epically when it came to close combat. Hiro was dumbfounded once again when Suzume told him that Shun was able to stay still for two days straight just to get the perfect shot.
As Hiro had learned earlier, Tora had always thought he was a tiger, even when he was a baby. He was the most energetic and the easiest to make friends with. The only time he ever really got mad was when someone tried to convince him that he wasn't a tiger. Because of that fact, Tora was the Tengu Brothers' least favorite ninja, but he never really seemed to care. Even his mother, who had sent him to Ninja Mountain, hated the fact that her son believed he was a wild animal, and had caged him for it. Out of all the ninjas, Tora was the best at hand to hand combat, and could easily slice up anything in his way with his hand-made claws.
Futo was the largest of the group, but was also the nicest. No matter how serious and straight faced they were, all the ninjas loved having him around. Futo wasn't born to be a ninja, but he had always had his healthy appetite. Of course, his constant eating had often gotten him into trouble with the Tengu Brothers. He always managed to get past them and start devouring the fruits on the trees, which had often got the brothers mad. While constantly annoying the Tengu Brothers, Futo also had the problem of not having a weapon. The Ninja Master had tried everything: swords, bow and arrows, nun-chucks, anything, but nothing had fit him. None of the ninjas knew what would happen to him, but some had guessed that if he didn't find one soon, he would have to give up being a ninja.
Suzume's story had interested Hiro the most. The flute that she had always held was given to her by her mother when Suzume was a baby. Ever since then, she never let the instrument out of her sight. And it turned out that it was also her weapon of choice in combat. While playing all kinds of mesmerizing songs with her flute, Suzume would automatically stop the song, and start destroying whatever was in her way one by one, kicking and punching and whamming them with her flute. And when she was done, she would go back to playing her song, as if nothing had happened. She was the nicer one of the two girls in the clan, and probably the most naïve. When it came to sympathy, or plain out just needing a friend to talk to, Suzume was the one to go to, and even though she couldn't do everything in the world, she would try her best to help.
The end of the day had finally come, and Suzume was leading the two of them back to the village. Once she reached her house, Suzume bid Hiro good night, leaving the young ninja to find his way back to his house in the dark. He noticed that Tora and Kunoichi had also returned home, and were opening the door to escape the night chill. Shun had also returned from the dojo without Hiro noticing, but instead of shutting himself from the outside world, he had climbed up onto his roof and laid back, watching the night sky. Hiro began to wonder if the ninja archer was telepathic, seeing as how Shun had never ceased to amaze him with his skills, both fighting and stealth. Walking up the hill where his house lay upon, Hiro started to think about what adventures would lie ahead on his journey, what kind of people he would make friends with. Pulling on the latch of his door, he told himself that he would have to wait for the oncoming days to find out.