Standing at the corner of Seventh Avenue, the streets remain quiet in the late night that now becomes very early morning. Panting heavily, Nico wipes her sweaty forehead, while struggling to catch up to Alex Wilder, Victor Mancha, and Molly Hayes. The tired group, having run for the past 30 minutes on pure adrenalin, drop to their ground facing an intersection.
Reaching the corner and her friends, Nico comes to a stop behind Alex Wilder gasping for air. Her previous feat drained her, they always did; it was a family secret.
For as long as Nico could remember, exertions of power threw her body into exhaustion. She could even remember sleeping three days straight after her mother forced her to ‘try new things’. But she would, as always blame the exhaustion on something else and hopefully, not short out her powers for the night.
Molly holds her cramping legs. Victor clutches his stomach in nausea. as he holds himself up on a pole. Being thoroughly winded, Nico tries to catch her breath as everyone despite the collective heavy breathing filling the space of silence, looks at her, unsure what to say.
“WOO!” Karolina exclaims.
Molly arches her eyebrows at Karolina, who had since tied her blond hair into a ponytail and rolled up her sleeves, continues bouncing up and down in front of them in her True Religion jeans like a rabbit, "Man like, i feel totally lit!” she exclaims.
Now stretching her legs back one at a time, Karolina continues, “I mean like, all this running, its like the best workout, like really!" she says while stretching her left arm over her neck.
Alex pulls off his foggy glasses and cuts her a look, “I’ll be sure to put that on my exercise blog, “RUN FOR YOUR LIFE WORKOUT” it killed me, but Karolina felt lit!”
Karolina rolls her neck in a clockwise motion before putting up her middle finger to Alex face.
Alex looks over to Nico on her knees, trying to catch her breath, “How...much...further?”
Alex points across the street to a large building, “Right there.”
“So what’s the half baked plan?!” Victor asks, “Cause like, mira, estamos corriendo a todo el mundo para…”
“Yo tengo un plan en mi mente, confie en me.”
Karolina, Nico and Molly both look at Alex in shock, “You know SPANISH!?” Karolina exclaims.
“Like my friend Layla back East says…” Alex says, “...I just know stuff.”
Getting onto his feet, Victor wipes the sweat from his brow, “Do you?! Cause like, I’m five minutes away from calling a Coyote to smuggle me TO Mexico!”
Alex points at the building, “Look, we have to deal with Chase! One way or another, if we just leave Los Angeles, he won’t stop, we’ll be running and running until he gets us. He has resources, he has time and he has surprise on his side, we need to deal with him on our turf, our way. ”
“KICK’EM IN THE GONADS!” Molly exclaims.
“Exactly!” Alex replies, “But we gotta do it right otherwise, we don’t get to Death Mountain beat Goran and rebuild the mystical triangle.” he says.
Karolina, Nico, Molly, and Victor looks at him with a tilted head and confusion on their faces.
“OH WHAT NO ONE PLAYS LEGEND OF ZELDA" Alex says.
Nico rolls her eyes, "Skyrim all day every day." she replies.
“PSss, please, Fortnite.” Karolina retorts.
“I LOVE FORTNITE!” Victor exclaims to Karolina’s horror.
“GRAND THEFT AUTO!”
Everyone's eyes open wide at Molly’s statement.
Molly shrugs in embarrassment as she looks at the floor, "What? I like mayhem." she says sheepishly.
"POR DIOS YOU GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!” Victor explains, pushing past everyone as he points behind him.
Everyone turns around and sees at least 40 ninjas in red garbs appear 3 blocks away.
Molly gulps, "Did they get like extra lives or something?!”
Karolina’s face pales as she looks to Nico, “I thought you killed them?!”
Nico smirks at skittering thought, "Mom used to say that you could only kill a Hand ninja by taking off their head, or using a Muramasa Blade or whatever.” she retorts.
Suddenly, one of the ninjas' point at them and they all start running towards them.
“Well I got two legs and I'm running!” Alex shouts running across the street with everyone swiftly following behind.
Chapter 3 - ‘No Need for Cloaks and Daggers’
PART 1 - Murder-y Evil Pajama Men
Dodging the cars as they screech and honk at them, everyone races across the wide street in a panic.
Reaching the sidewalk, Alex reaches the glass doors of his Father’s corporate building first. Pulling out a red keycard, Alex slaps it onto a matte black panel and watches the red light shift green.
Swinging the door open, Alex runs inside with Karolina swiftly following behind everyone else piles in behind her through the glass doors.
Entering the building massive dark lobby, loudly at that, Alex immediately sees the security stand up from behind his wide metal counter at the group of teens. He had to deal with him or everyone would be screwed.
Looking over his shoulder to the group, Alex holds his hand out to the group and then points at the elevators.
“Keep walking I got this.” Alex whispers.
Victor points at the doors behind them, “DUDE YOU KNOW their like right behi…”
“I SAID KEEP WALKING!” Alex loudly whispers before hastily running over to the security guard behind the desk.
Seeing the teens rush to the elevator, the security guard whispers again into his walkie talkie while pointing at them, “HEY HEY HEY!” he yells, “WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU’RE GOING!?”
Immediately Alex draws the guard's attention by whistling at him and holding up his red keycard, “Hey hey we got a situation!” he says to the security guards visible skepticism.
At that moment, right on time at that, Alex hears a collective group of hard boots running on the hard floor. Rounding the corner from another entrance, Alex sees the ex-military security officers his now late father invested in to protect his R&D department. Decked in black riot gear with black visors covering half their faces, the men arrive with rifles in hand in front of Alex like a wall.
“WHATS GOING ON!” yells the squad leader, “THIS BUILDING’S A RESTRICTED AREA!”
His voice makes Alex almost pee his pants, but he clears his throat, hoping to pull off an award winning performance before the ninjas arrive and kill them all.
“OH GAAAWD!!!!!” Alex cries. Dropping to his knees, Alex grabs at his hair, bursting into tears while showing his red keycard to guard, “Eagle is down! THE EAGLE IS FRICKIN DOWN MAN!”
At the elevators, Victors eyes open wide in shock, as does everyone. Karolina looks at Nico and opens her mouth ready say something but Nico slaps her hand over mouth, “Don’t ruin this.”
“THEY STABBED MY DAHAAHAAAAAD! MAN!” ” Alex cries, “HE-HE TOLD MAH-ME…” he sniffles between his sob, “AH-AHND my friend to ra-run to the sa-sa Safe roooom!” he squeals, making sure to breath through his nose and mucus and drool come out his mouth during wailing.
“WHO!” The Squad exclaims.
As if perfectly timed, Alex points at the glass doors as a group of red garbed Hand ninjas arrive at the front, “THAAAAAAM!”
All the security officers watch as one ninja simply points at Alex from the other side of the glass door, and then the ground before his feet, indicating him he wanted him.
The lead Security Officer pulls off his helmet and squints “What in the...Are those...”
“MURDERY EVIL PAJAMA MEN!” shouts Molly from afar.
“OW DON’T PINCH ME!” she exclaims to Nico.
The security officer turns to the Night Shift guard behind the desk, “CALL IT IN!” he shouts before reaching into his vest and handing Alex a gold keycard, "Get to the Panic Room on sublevel 9. This is your Father’s clearance card, get your friends in the panic room wait for my call." Orders the Security officer, gesturing for the rest of the men to move to the doors, “AND KEEP THEM OUT!”
Seeing the guards aren’t complying, all the ninjas step back from the glass doors except for one who slowly unsheathes his katana.
All the Security Officers line up in a row, aiming their rifles at the ninja. The ninja’s eyes narrow at the officers as he effortlessly draws his sword in the glass, swings it forward and lets the sharp tip knick into the glass.
Turning his head, the ninja then turns the sword in the glass door, as if turning a key; all the guards jolt back, startled at the glass splintering with with a million fractures!
“Holy…” mumbles Alex scrambling onto his feet as ninja kicks his foot through the glass door, shattering the glass to pieces, “CRAP!”
“OPEN FIIIIIAARRR!” yells the security officer.
“ALEX MOVE IT!” Nico shouts.
Alex runs as fast as he can to the elevator as gunfire and yelling erupt behind him and echo within the lobby! Heading straight for the elevator, Alex sees everyone crammed inside with Victor and Nico holding the doors open and waving him on, “MOVE IT MOVE MOVE IT!” they yell.
Running into the elevator, Alex frantically taps the ‘close button’, “C’mon c’mon C’MON!” he shouts, glancing at the hallway as Ninja’s overwhelm the security guards and race across the lobby, straight for the elevator!
“CLOSE THE DOOOR!” Victor shouts!
Everyone grabs both sides of the metal doors and groan as they bring the doors close and let go, watching them slam before hearing a thud on the other side!
The elevator descends, with a collective sigh of relief coming from the group. Alex looks at the group behind him and wipes his tears and sniffles, “You guys ever bring this up again and i’ll ruin you.” he says.
“Hmm mmm.” Karolina huffs, showing her phone with a video playing of Alex sprawled out on the floor, “Too late.”
Alex rolls his eyes and looks ahead at the door, furrowing his brow, “You or ninja’s, i don’t know what’s worse.” he grumbles.
“Evil murdery pajama men by far.” Nico replies before looking to everyone, “An since they are here, what are everyone's powers because we may need to fight them." she asks.
Karolina arches her blond hair, “Like you need to know.”
“Excuse me?” Nico scoffs, “We have frickin’ ninjas upstairs we may need to fight!”
Karolina purses her lips and points at her, “Than blow up another bridge witch, cause after that stunt, CLEARLY you can handle them all by yourself.”
Nico closes her eyes and bares her teeth, “I AM NOT A WITCH! HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO SAY THAT!”
“THE SAME AMOUNT OF TIMES YOU WEAR BLACK LACE!” Karolina shouts, “And news flash, you're WEARING IT!”
"STOP FIGHTING!" yells Victor, pushing them apart, "Adios mios! NOW I WANNA DIE!”
Suddenly the doors behind them open.
"Where the heck are we?" Nico asks.
Victor points back to the elevator, “Dude the guard said there’s a panic room this just looks like a room to PANIC IN!!”
Quickly Alex exits the elevator and takes careful steps within each tile square on the floor, "And if we go into the corporate Panic Room and our murder-y evil pajama men as you call them, disable the power in the building, all they have to do is wait us out and kill us if we don’t kill each other first.” he replies.
“So then where are we Alex, what are we doing here!!” Nico exclaims.
Coming to a stop over a square tile, Alex looks to his left and right, counting the number tiles lined from the wall to his feet, “This is where my father keeps his lab...” he says before stomping twice on the floor and saying, “...Gibborim Protocol Six Sixteen.” he declares.
Suddenly everyone hears the sound of gears below their feet and as the ground vibrates. Stepping back, Alex squints as a large part of the floor lifts up and shines blue light onto him with a glass staircase unfolding and leading further below.
“Uh-kay…” Victor sighs, “Anyone else freaked out by the super-secret lab of death in the floor?!”
“I AM!” answers Molly with a raised hand.
“LOOK! WE’RE GOING INTO THE SUPER SECRET LAB OF DEATH WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT!” Alex shouts.
Suddenly, the elevator makes a 'ding' sound. Everyone turns around and watches the elevator door close. Pointing at the elevator, Alex looks to Nico, “BLAST THE ELEVATOR! ITS THE ONLY WAY DOWN HERE!”
“GOT IT!” replies Nico, extending forward arms, waiting for her Staff to appear out her chest. However, after a couple of seconds, Nico arches her eyebrow in confusion as the soft glow at the center of her chest, simply fades.
“Oh crap.” Nico gulps, “It won’t out!"
Alex stands up, baffled, “ARE YOU FREAKIN KIDDING ME!”
Karolina steps over to Nico, “Loser. I got this.” she boasts. Outstretching her open palm to the elevator, Karolina narrows her eyes as her blond hair lifts strand by strand if charged by static. Her blue eyes flash yellow as the center of her palm glows brightly. Suddenly, her hair flops back down, her eyes return to their normal blue hue as a ‘poof’ sound coughs out from her open palm with white smoke lifting from the center of her palm.
“Oh frack!” grumbles Karolina, staring at her palm that flickers with light.
“Did you know…” Victor says, “... that Power Dysfunction inflicts two out of four people a year. It can Be addressed with treatment!!” he chides.
“Really!?” exclaims Nico before swift kicking Victor in the nuts, “THANKS FOR THE NOTICE!”
“Nooooo prohb!” gasps Victor, dropping to knees.
Alex points at Nico and Karolina, "You just made a huge explosion a half hour ago and you shot eye beams out your eyes! WHAT HAPPENED!!"
Insulted Karolina firms her face and shoves her finger in Alex face, “EXCUSE ME BUT SOME OF US ARE NOT POWERED BY THE UNDERWORLD! I NEED A GOOD AMOUNT OF SUNLIGHT FOR MY POWERS TO WORK! I DIDN'T SUNBATHE TODAY!"
Nico growls as she makes a fist, "I AM NOT POWERED BY THE UNDERWORLD!!!!!
“THATS NOT WHAT YOUR MASCARA SAYS!” Karolina shouts back.
Alex shakes his head in panic seeing the elevator ‘ding’ again, having reached the lobby floor, “Yeah well we’re like five point two seconds away from being bloody chalk outlines, everyone get into the Lab!" he says.
Victor points to the descending stairs, “And then what, do you have a second way out of there?”
Alex shakes his head, “Maybe, yes. I’m not sure. I know if they have electrical power there must be a way to the sewer main but I’m not sure, I’ll need to look but I need time.” he says.
“Than you got it.” retorts Nico, “’ll buy you time GO!”
Alex look at Nico in shock as she rips off a sleeve and wraps it around her hand, “GO!” she insists, seeing the elevator numbers descending again from the lobby floor.
“YOU HEARD HER!” Karolina shouts, running down the stairs to the laboratory.
Alex shakes his head, “ARE YOU NUTS!”
Nico smirks as she wraps her hands fore fight, “I must be if I’m helping you!”
"Will you get down here with us!" Victor says to Nico.
Looking over her shoulder, she looks at Victor, "I don't expect a pretty boy like you to understand but unlike our parents, I don’t intend to screw over my friends. Tonight I was supposed to be sacrificed, at least like this i chose." she explains.
Victor remains quiet, stunned at her statement.
"Alex..." Nico calls with a clenched fist, "Chase. He killed your Father. Shot'em in the back i did try to stop it.” Nico says.
Alex remains quiet and nods.
“Try to save theirs,” Nico says.
Alex stares at her, "I will." he replies, closing the floor door as soon as the elevator opens.
Cracking her neck to the side, Nico watches the red garbed ninjas walk out the elevator one by one, each staring at her.
“Step aside Child of Minoru.” a muffled voice says.
Nico takes a stance and draws a nervous deep breath but raises up her fists, “Can’t do that.” she sighs.
One ninja steps forward, pulling off his mask and throwing it to the side, “The Protection afforded you to the House of Minoru will be voided if you do not step aside, you understand this?”
Ninja lip quivers but she clenches her jaw, “Trust me, my family never protected me.”
“So be it.” the ninja replies before turning aside and nods to the others. Immediately Nico closes her eyes, hearing the simultaneous ring of metal slide out the sheaths.
Opening her eyes, seeing all the swords drawn, Nico nods, “I’d cry, if it really was sad.”
Suddenly Uatu and Aron the Watcher appear above them all but are unseen.
"These are the beings I mentioned previously, watch." Aron says.
Before Nico can react, a ninja drops to the floor and swipes his leg, kicking Nico off her feet as another bashes her across the face with the blunt end of the sheathed sword, making her hit the floor hard.
Dazed, Nico feels the entire room spin. Cursing herself for not thinking they would move that fast, Nico feels blood already fill her mouth as it runs down her nose. Then a swift kick to her stomach, Nico spits out the blood and gasps in pain "Jeeezz." she groans, "No, 'hey were both Japanese, maybe I won't beat you up so bad' consideration." she chides.
Wincing as she looks up at the Ninja's, watches one ninja drops his sword sheath to the floor, exposing his silver blade and march to her as the room to spins around. Nico holds her badly bruised face as she looks up and sees the Ninja, in clear view, looking at her with his sword raised over her head as the rest of the ninja start hacking away at the floor behind him to get to the rest in the lab.
Aron the Watcher looks to Uatu while pointing at Nico, "Do you feel it? She doesn't even realize it." he says.
The ninja looks at Nico, "Now you die." he says evilly, swinging down his sword down on her.
Within that moment, as if all time stopped, the Staff of One phases out of Nico's chest and into her grip with a hum!
"AAAHH!!" Nico screams as a bright flash erupts and explodes the Ninja into a fine mist of water with his sword bursting into dozens of bright yellow Forever 21 gift cards.
Nico eyes open in shock, "Oh crap oh crap oh crap..."
All the ninja's stop hacking at the floor door and immediately take notice of Nico scrambling onto her feet, twirling the Staff of One in her hands before pointing its round circle head at them that froths with ice-cold smoke.
Nico narrows her eyes at them, watching all the ninja encircle her, "Alright..." she sighs, spitting out a mouthful of blood, "...let's try this again." she growls as blackbird symbol burns into the floor under her feet.
to be continued...