The day was going just as any other - go to school, ignore the teachers in class, go home, with a few monster and/or robot attacks added in the midst. Currently, Randy was the Ninja, and was fighting the daily McFist robot (which happened to resemble a small dinosaur this time around).
"Ninja Slice!" he cried, finishing the fight with a swift downwards motion of his sword, the robot falling on its side thoroughly defeated.
"Too easy," the Ninja scoffed as the usual crowd who gathered to witness the fights cheered. He was about to throw down a smoke bomb and make his exit, however he noticed a strange coloured gas coming from the remains of the dino-bot. He breathed in experimentally, seeing if it possessed an odour, however instantly regretted it as instead of there being a smell, he found himself dizzy, unable to hold himself upright. The crowd gaped as their hero wobbled on his feet, not understanding his mumbled attempts at telling them to run. Mere seconds later, he collapsed, and all hell broke loose.
People in the crowd who didn't flee began to fall victim, following the Ninja quickly in their bodies meeting the ground. Screams emanated throughout the student body as friends watched while friends dropped, only increasing in volume as people noticed that the Ninja was out for the count - what would they do if the Ninja can't save them? What could they do?
Apparently, not much.
"There we go. All according to plan," Viceroy stated smugly.
"What do you mean according to plan? You destroyed my robot!" McFist yelled back, a vein popping in his forehead.
"Jeez, calm down," the scientist waved a hand, not bothering to correct his boss about who the creator of the robot was. "When the robot was defeated, it released chloroform gas. Enough to knock the Ninja out and anyone close by, just to eliminate any witnesses."
"Ah yes! Another brilliant plan by me!" McFist shouted with excitement. Viceroy rolled his eyes.
"There are robo-apes hidden at the scene. They'll bring the Ninja here for us," he informed the other, pressing a button to activate them. Now all that was left to do was wait.
Howard stood up from the table he was sat at. Randy was meant to come for lunch 20 minutes ago! He was sick of his best friend having to ninja out all the time; they rarely got the opportunity to do fun stuff anymore without Randy having to go fight a robot or monster or something at least once. And while it was pretty bruce his best bud was the Ninja of Norrisville, he did kind of miss the days when he wouldn't constantly be worried for his friend's safety; whether he would make it out of each fight okay or not. Sure, the suit healed a lot of injuries quickly, but from time to time Howard had found himself patching up Randy, while the other winced and hissed in pain. The Ninja could protect himself, but Randy Cunningham was still a fourteen year old freshman.
The ginger found himself running as he noticed the lack of other students in the hallways. Perhaps something had happened in the fight? No, he shook himself. Randy could handle anything. Everything is fine.
He arrived at the scene and froze at what he first saw. Students were passed out across the grounds, the Ninja laid down next to a weird, dinosaur-looking robot. He was about to approach, but jumped back into hiding when he noticed robo-apes approaching. It was no shock when they took the Ninja and began to carry him away, yet Howard still let out a little gasp. He was admittedly a little scared, but he knew for a fact Randy would be able to break out of capture easily...
The robo-apes carried the still unconscious Ninja into the office of McFist Industries and handcuffed him to the chains in the corner as instructed by their boss.
McFist squealed excitedly. "Wake him up, Viceroy, wake him up!"
The other sighed, rolling his eyes as he pressed a button that sent an electric current down the chains and into the handcuffs, shocking the Ninja awake.
"AAAH!" he let out a scream, but quickly shut his mouth as the current stopped. He glanced around rapidly, trying to get his bearings.
"Morning, sleepyhead. Welcome to McFist Indus--" the man was cut off as his sidekick shut off the intercom, not wanting to let their captive know where he was. It was a failed attempt, as Randy knew where he would be as soon as he heard McFist's voice. The man was evil, but certainly not followed by the word 'genius'.
Randy chuckled as there was muffled arguing and shuffling before Viceroy's voice echoed throughout the room: "Now Ninja, we have lots of things planned for you." An ominous laugh. "But first... We remove the mask."
His stomach dropped, his blood going cold. He began to plan a defence and escape, but was hindered when he remembered his hands chained up behind his back. The villains were not dawdling - they were already halfway down the steps into the room. Doodles danced across his vision, arrows pointing to his bound wrists. He knew he would have to escape somehow, for no one could ever know his true identity, especially not his arch-enemy. The metal would not snap; he tried to grow hair to hide himself, but to no avail - the gas must have weakened him too much to use such a grand technique. His panicked mind refused to offer more options, and so all he could do when the hideous bang of the door sounded was give a startled turn of his head.
The two walked in dramatically, the low lighting adding more tension to the scene. That was until McFist giggled like a lovesick schoolgirl.
"He's here, Viceroy! We're finally going to find out who the Ninja is!" Despite his situation, Randy rolled his eyes. Stupid bad guys.
Viceroy stepped forward and reached for the mask. Randy shuffled as far away as possible, which backfired as he found himself cornered between the walls. He turned his head away as the man hooked his fingers under the mask. Eyes closed, breath held, he waited.
An annoyed grunt was heard. The hand tugged harder on the mask, but was unable to lift it. The Ninja slowly allowed his eyes to open, only to see McFist angrily scolding Viceroy, walking over himself to have a try.
"Honestly Viceroy, it's just a mask, how hard can it be to-" he was cut off as the mask did the same for him. "What?" He tugged harder. Nothing except an irritated growl from the man. "What are you doing, Ninja?! Let..." Tug. "Us..." Pulling harder. "See!”
A few ribbons of material flew out, their glow illuminating the room for a scarce few seconds, before they stuttered, as if unsure whether to continue or draw back. The glow flickered before fading, the fabric going limp before drawing back in. This left the stage clear for another thing to take the centre.
McFist and Viceroy reopened their eyes and moved away the arms that had instinctively come up to shield their retina from the harsh light. There was silence at the sight before them.
The Ninja, looking down in horror at the tear in the suit. Within the new gap in the black cloth, there was a glimpse of some sort of grey vest with straps, unlike anything Hannibal had seen before. He raised a brow, wondering why the reveal of the top had caused such a harsh reaction from the Ninja.
"Viceroy, what is that under the Ninja's suit?" Viceroy looked like he was going to throw up. He remained silent, only reacting when his boss turned to him with an impatient glare. "Well?"
He didn't know what else to say. He cleared his throat, wiping the expression of horror off of his face as best he could. "It's a..." he sighed. "It's a binder. It flattens your chest." He wondered if McFist would be intelligent enough to understand what that implied.
A wide, evil smirk grew on McFist's face. Viceroy felt his stomach plummet to the floor.
"Well, well, well. I see our 'esteemed protector of Norrisville' is...” he turned from Viceroy, showing his smirk in full view to the Ninja. “...a tranny." He chuckled darkly as he watched the Ninja begin shaking. "Imagine what the people will say."
Randy wanted to cry. He wanted to scream. He wanted to rip Viceroy apart for outing him to his most hated enemy, and punch McFist for being... well, himself. But of course, all he could do in his current situation was stare wide eyed at the two before him, unable to control his shaking brought on by a devastating mix of fear and rage. He tried not to react. He really did. Reacting showed weakness, and he was not about to show weakness to his enemy. Yet, he always was ruled more by his emotions than logic.
Yanking on the chains, he half growled, half yelled profanities at the two, even more enraged as Hannibal's grin grew larger the more he shouted. A garbled mix of threats, insults, and general anger poured out of his mouth in an unstoppable stream. His throat protested the constant shouting, but his mind screamed at him to keep going, lest his rage fail to cover up how truly terrified he was at this moment.
All too suddenly, he felt a jolt of electricity run through his body, morphing his shouts into a strangled yelp of pain. He gathered his breath quickly, ready to retort whatever would come out of McFist’s mouth next.
“No wonder my stepson won’t shut up about this girl stuff - you’ve messed with his head! And now all of Norrisville will know what a bad influence you really are.”
Don’t react don’t react don’t--
McFist growled. "Don't tell me to shut up! Viceroy!"
The sidekick sighed before reluctantly pulling out a touch screen device and pressing a button, causing robo-apes to flood into the room.
"Maybe this'll teach you not to talk back. But don't worry: it won't last long. Can't let a freak of nature like you keep living, can we?" And with that McFist walked out of the room, Viceroy in tow, leaving behind nothing but a quick apologetic glance from the scientist and masses of robo-apes slowly closing in. Refusing to show weakness, Randy pushed back the fear and hurt, leaving defiance to radiate from his being.
He tried to let it stay there, he truly did. But as soon as the hits of the robots began to fall and the boy realised he could not dodge or block in any way, his strong facade began to disappear.
The hits got stronger; he became weaker.
Frantic doodles slowed as his mind began to shut down. A particularly hard whack to his head caused his vision to go black for a second and stars to dance over the too close robots. No part of his body was left undamaged - his legs, shoulders, ribs, and chest were all bashed in succession as the hits chaotically cascaded down upon him.
He winced as a sickening crack was heard from one hit to his ribs. Pain shot through the surely broken bone, however it was soon redirected as more punches were thrown.
Yet the worst had not come.
The teen laid on the floor, his left side pressed against the cold, unforgiving stone, his front towards the wall. He was curled in the fetal position (a difficult feat considering the situation of his hands), attempting to give himself as much protection as possible. His breathing was ragged, wheezing breaths being drawn slowly in and out. It took him a second to realise the beating had stopped.
Coughing slightly, he lifted his head only to regret it but not a second afterwards.
Coming towards him at an agonisingly slow pace were two robo-apes, the others standing at the far side of the room. He could only watch helplessly as they drew nearer, dread filling him from head to toe.
Randy shut his eyes as the scraping of metal across the stone floor was heard. He ignored the robots when they stood over him, demanding for him to stand up. He tried to keep himself in darkness as one pulled him up by his neck, cutting off his air supply, however found his eyes flying open wide instinctively as oxygen receded from his body.
Shock broke through his hazed mind as he realised he was being unchained.
What the juice...?
There was no more time to question however, as the second his hands were free instinct took over - he tried to escape. He yanked himself out of the harsh grip of the robot, swinging his arm around while curling his fingers into a fist.
The first punch landed successfully, the ape who was unluckily the closest stumbling back a little, a dent now present in its metallic head. This only angered McFist.
"Don't let her off so easily!" he commanded his minions. Randy grimaced at the pronoun, trying not to let it get to him. He absentmindedly fought off the masses of metal monstrosities as he attempted to plan a way out, distracting from the memories threatening to seep to the front of his thoughts.
He continued drawing up blanks escape-wise as his past overran all other things.
"She thinks she’s a boy!”
“What a freak…”
“I can’t believe I called you my friend.”
Maybe he was pretending after all. He shouldn’t have done this. She shouldn’t have done this.
The Ninja faltered, the involuntary flashback dampening his spirit. It was enough of a pause for a robo-ape to grab him, and before he could react, pin him to the wall, lift up his left arm and bring down a McFist knife. Right through his palm.
Suddenly jarred back to reality, he bit his lip, tasting blood in his effort not to scream. He went to remove the blade, but a robot chained his hand back down before he could reach to it. Now stuck stood up in the middle of the wall, he glared up at McFist and Viceroy, breathing heavily through the pain erupting throughout his body, the epitome being his left hand and the scream from his ribs as he forced himself to stand upright.
"Well," Hannibal began, "I was going to move you to a nicer place, but seeing as you don't want to go..." He flicked a switch and all sources of light in the room turned off. "You can stay here the night and think about what you've done." He paused. "And what you are." His words held an even colder bite than usual; Randy suppressed a shiver.
McFist stalked away from the microphone, barking some orders to Viceroy that couldn't quite be heard, but were sure to be as horrible as the boy imagined. As Hannibal let the door slam behind him, the silence following dragged on for god knows how long (probably only ten minutes at most, yet to Randy it seemed like hours. Being held against a wall by having your hand impaled will do that). There was a sharp ringing in his head, and he wished that he could only lie down, rest. But he did not want to give into the villains so easily - he hung his head down when he was unable to hide the suffering on his face. He would not let them see that he was being affected.
That's why he jumped when the intercom crackled to life, and narrowed his eyes as Viceroy began to speak.
"Look, Ninja..." Randy mentally rolled his eyes, waiting for the bargaining for him to remove the mask - or whatever the mad scientist was going to annoy him about - to begin. The man let out a sigh. "I'm sorry for telling McFist what your binder was. I’m sorry for what he said to you."
Turning his head to reveal his confused expression to Viceroy, he soon wiped it away, suspicion and anger eating at his insides. He gave as harsh a scowl as he could muster, trying to make himself look imposing despite the pain in his ribs making it hard to stand.
"Sorry? You really want me to believe you’re sorry after you outed me to him?" he spat scathingly.
"I understand if you're not gonna talk to me, but I want you to know - my daughter, Charlotte. She's transgender. I know just how much it can hurt when people say things like that."
No, no, no. This had to be a trick. Viceroy didn’t even have a family… right? Randy kept his expression harsh, turned his head away to stare at the wall in front of him, refused to acknowledge the scientist.
"I know you won’t believe me, but I really would like to help you. McFist has some sort of vendetta against trans people ever since Bash-- …Anyway. There’s cameras all over this place - the most I can do is hack the system to turn off all the tech here for a few minutes, at most, and blame it on a glitch. I can unchain you - I have a key. But I don't know what to do about that knife."
He was surprised that he was being offered help; even if he had earned something of a soft spot in Viceroy's heart, he never thought that the assistant would have wanted to run the risk of helping the enemy in fear of what his boss would do. Of course, there was still the possibility of this being a trap. He chose not to think of that. This could be his only chance of escape if the scientist was truly trustworthy; he was far too weak to attempt a getaway alone. If this went wrong, he could try and turn it around, find a way to retreat. But he could never fight his way out from scratch - this was the best opportunity he would get.
"It's fine. I'll rip it out." He drew in a few deep breaths. He could barely talk, how was he going to run? The blood loss would surely make it worse. Oh well.
"If you're sure..." Viceroy seemed uneasy, probably because of what Randy had just said. It was understandable; it was a rather gruesome act, but a necessary one if he was to escape. "I'm shutting off the cameras now. Are you ready?"
God knows what he was getting himself into this time. But he trusted his gut instinct, and that told him to go with this plan. He could only pray that Viceroy wouldn't turn on him at the last minute.
There was no obvious change, but he knew it must've been safe when the man came dashing into the room, key in hand and ready to free him.
Adrenaline rushed through his veins as his hand was freed. In one fluid motion, before the energy could wear off (or he could think about what he was doing), he reached across and yanked the blade from his hand. Blood began to sputter from the wound, but he ignored it in favour of getting the hell out of there.
He noticed after a few seconds that one of his arms had been pulled over Viceroy's shoulders, half of his weight being supported by him. The duo began to half walk, half shuffle from the room and down the corridors, the scientist of course having access to all areas of the building. There were no sounds save for the occasional grunt of discomfort from Randy - it would not do to alert any lurking bystanders of their presence. After what was probably a lot less time than the two thought, they reached an emergency exit. The older man scarcely glanced about before opening the door, allowing cool air from outside to seep in. A small sigh emanated from the Ninja as the low temperatures soothed his wounds.
"Okay, this is it. You're gonna have to go alone from here," he paused to study the boy, taking in his injuries. Noticing the look he was being given, Randy spoke:
"I can walk." For emphasis he pushed away from Viceroy, forcing himself to not wobble where he stood. He limped out of the exit, hearing the door close behind him, signalling the other had left. He considered being slightly offended at the swift departure, but knew that the cameras would turn back on at any second - he couldn't afford to be seen helping the Ninja escape, after all.
Which reminded him.
"Art of stealth," he muttered to himself as he willed his body invisible to the naked human eye. It may drain more of what was little left of his energy, but it wouldn't do for the confidence of the citizens to see their hero in a state such as this. And he really, really couldn't deal with stank right now.
Howard's house was closest (and besides that, he really needed his bro to patch up some of these wounds), so he turned right at the next junction, heading down the familiar paths at as fast a pace as he could manage. What he hadn't expected was to spot his friend walking down the street towards him, eating an extortionate amount of McFizzles and worry blatantly showing on his usually cool, chilled out face.
Not even giving himself time to think, Randy grabbed the smaller boy and pulled him into the alleyway they were conveniently next to - causing Howard to drop his candy.
"Hey, watch it! Those were--" the ginger broke off, staring in shock at the Ninja. Having revealed himself, Randy was hoping Howard would be laughing and joking, asking where he had run off to. Nothing of the sort happened.
"Cunningham... What... What happened...?"
He seemed genuinely concerned; a rare display of emotion for Howard. This only worried the taller boy more. McFist hadn't made him look that bad, right? It must be pretty ugly if Howard was looking at him like that, though. He decided to be as vague as possible to keep his friend calm. And also hint that he may need medical attention. A difficult mix.
"Nothing too bad, Howard. Just... Just take me back to your place. I need a... a few bandages." His voice sounded awful. This was not going to help his case.
"I think you're gonna need more than that, you shoob," Howard chided, sounding almost hurt. The shorter boy glanced down to his friend's chest, instantly paling and diverting his gaze back up to his face. Randy felt shame and fear well up inside of him. Before anything else could be said, Howard continued,
"C'mon, let's go home."