Author's Note: I figured I'd go with a lighter hearted and silly vibe for this particular installment.
The Pit, Ninja Dojo
18 February 2002, 0808
Todd sneaked around the white walls of the square shaped building, with its blue tiled roof giving the impression of an ancient Japanese castle. He had snuck away from the training area when Roadblock had been called away for a quick huddle.
I want to see so much of this base. But here especially, where the ninas are. Real live ninjas! Whoa! Todd thought.
He silently crept in and then had some second thoughts. I shouldn’t be here. They probably eat little toads like me for breakfast and use my leg bones to pick their teeth and…
He ducked behind some boxes, watching two ninjas, one in white and one in black. He watched their fluid movements. They were so graceful. Perfection itself.
If only I could be like them. So swift. So silent. So graceful. Todd thought as he watched the two ninjas. If I was, I wouldn’t ever be afraid again. I can see it all now! Todd the Ninja! The most dangerous mutant in history.
The boy continued to daydream. I’d kick Mystique and Magneto out of a jet and see how they like it! Then I’d trash the Brotherhood and the X-Geeks! Ooh! Ooh! Even better! I’d create my own army of mutants and let them beat them up! Why should I do all the work…
Inwardly Todd thought about it. His own kingdom, a grand palace. Duncan Matthews, as a court jester/punching bag. Rogue as his personal secretary. He had just day dreamed about the moment in which he had found the most terrified, weakest, and seemingly hopeless mutant, making him his squire and…
Todd looked up in time to see the ninja in black crouched down over the top of one of the crates, looking back down at him.
“Eeep!” Todd said and started hopping away, out of the dojo. He tried heading towards the training area but he had no idea where the place was. But he knew he had to get away, and as he hopped over a hedge row he found himself face of face, or nearly face to foot, rather, with Agent Caitlin Todd…
The Pit, Airtight’s Stage
Conrad, Kate, Scarlett, and Airtight
16 February 2002, 0744
“This is something you don’t see on a typical Army base.” Kate remarked as they stepped onto an open quad near some hedgerows.
It looked like the set of a play was afoot. And she noticed quite a few soldiers in tights and Elizabethan costumes.
“What light through yonder window breaks...Tis...tis..”
“Tis the east, and Juliet is the sun.” A brown haired fellow with a receding hairline said, “Dusty, remember, East and Juliet as the sun…”
“What’s this?” Kate asked Scarlett, who had been walking with her and Conrad earlier.
“That’s Airtight’s Theater Troupe.” Scarlett replied, indicating the fellow with the receding hairline, “It’s one of his many hobbies. And our Romeo is none other than Dusty, our very own desert warfare expert.”
Kate couldn’t help but wonder about why a tough looking fellow with a fairly tanned complexion and a rugged disposition was wearing tights and an Elizabethan costume. Then she got her answer when she saw a Eurasian woman in a beautiful dress.
Ok, that answers the question. Kate thought.
“Well, why else would any man volunteer for a theater troupe?” Conrad observed, noticing Kate’s line of sight.
“I just came to that same conclusion and…” Kate began, noticing a shadow cast over her, and turned around in time to see Todd Tolansky leap right over the hedgerow.
Before she knew it Todd had collided with her faster than she could blink, his hands colliding with her shoulders and and knocking her to the ground on her back.
“Oops...I’m sorry...I’m sorry.” Todd said.
As Todd stood up, Conrad reached down to help Kate stand up, “Are you alright?”
“I’m fine, thankfully that grass is soft.” Kate replied, brushing the odd stray blade of grass from off of her clothes.
“And Todd, I thought you were at training today?” Conrad added, “I presume Monsieur Roadblock is looking for him.”
“If he was supposed to be at the training area,” Kate observed, “Then how did he wind up almost all the way across the base from there.”
“He probably decided to do a bit of exploring.” Conrad offered.
“My thoughts exactly.” Kate replied.
“What are you doing here!?” Beach Head demanded as he stormed onto the quad, “You’re supposed to be on the training ground!”
Todd went to hop away but Beach Head swiftly grabbed him by the scruff of the neck, picking the boy up as he did so.
“Beach Head, put him down!” Scarlett replied, turning from Kate and Conrad, “Can’t you see the kid’s scared of you.”
Beach Head let go of Todd who had his hands up, as if expecting blows.
“Now, Todd,” Scarlett said in a much more gentle tone, “My name is Scarlett. What are you doing here? I’m sure Roadblock is looking all over for you. Don’t be scared, kid, just tell me what happened.”
“Answer her boy.” Beach Head growled.
“I got lost,” Todd said, “I-I wanted to take a look at the ninja place and then I saw this ninja all in black and then I freaked and got lost…”
“Oh he just wanted to see the ninjas. He wanted to watch human killing machines...you are without a doubt the second most troublesome maniac to set foot on this base!”
Kate turned to Conrad and softly asked, “I wonder who the first is…”
“ALOHA!” a voice sounded as a bearded man, in a sailor’s outfit wearing sunglasses and a lei.
“Right on cue.” Beach Head grumbled, “What are you doing here? I thought you were supposed to stay in Hawaii another week?”
“I was, but then I missed all my wonderful compadres…” Shipwreck, the bearded man, replied.
“Translation: You all got kicked out again.” Beach Head replied, feeling another headache coming on, “I won’t even attempt to figure out what you guys got into.”
“Well, if you insist, actually we…” Shipwreck began.
“Shipwreck I said I don’t want to know!” Beach Head shouted before stalking off, darkly muttering about troublesome menaces.
“And for you, lovely lady,” Shipwreck said, removing the lei around his neck and putting it on Scarlett’s, “in celebration of your recent promotion.”
“Why thanks, Shipwreck.” Scarlett said, as the bearded sailor turned his attention to the two agents and the kid with the mop of dirty blonde hair on his head.
Scarlett checked Shipwreck’s line of sight, and said, “Shipwreck, I want you to meet Agent Conrad Hart, ACME Detective Agency, Agent Caitlin Todd, US Secret Service, and Todd Tolansky, codenamed Toad. He’s the one Roadblock’s looking after.”
After Scarlett had introduced the two agents and Todd Shipwreck’s features lit up with recognition, “Oh yeah, I heard about the kid and the two suits...uhm, no offense…”
“None taken.” Conrad replied.
“Welcome aboard, in any case.” Shipwreck said.
“Hi,” Todd said, weakly, “You a sailor, yo?”
“Why that’s like asking a seagull if he’s a bird.” Shipwreck replied.
“Shipwreck is quite possibly the craziest sailor you’ve ever heard of.” Roadblock said as he walked towards them.
“Oh, you’re the one who has the record for joyriding on tanks?” Todd asked.
“It’s not polite to repeat gossip, kid,” Roadblock replied, “Or go running off when my back is turned.”
“Rude, unprincipled, and nothing but trouble. I like that in a man. Come here, kid, I’ll show you the best places to lie low when you’re in trouble!” Shipwreck said.
“Oh no!” Roadblock replied, “I am trying to teach this kid right from wrong. Around you he does not belong.”
“Hopefully Roadblock’s will remains strong.” Conrad commented to Kate.
Kate turned to Conrad and said, “Or Todd learns to play along.”
Damn it, now I’m doing the rhyming thing too. Kate thought. Despite her mild annoyance there was the trace of a small smile on her lips.
“Roadblock, you wound me.” Shipwreck protested, “You know I’m perfectly qualified to look after the kid! After all my own…”
“SHIPWRECK!!! WHY IS THERE A TARANTULA IN MY DESK DRAWER???!!!” Beach Head’s voice could be heard echoing from the HQ building.
“Sorry, I’d love to stay and chat, important business to attend to and all…” Shipwreck replied and made a rapid exit, stage left.
“Bye!” Todd waved at Shipwreck before turning to Roadblock, “I like him, he’s funny.”
“Oh Lord give me strength.” Roadblock said, rolling his eyes, “Two of them on the same base. Now the question remains, what were you doing wandering off like that?”
“I wanted to look around…” Todd fidgeted and with the piercing glare Roadblock gave him, he added, “I-I wanted to see the ninjas.”
“The ninjas!?” Roadblock declared incredulously. “Kid, do you have any idea how dangerous that is? They’re not the most hospitable people in the world. And have you any idea what they do to people they catch snooping around their dojos? Forget it, I’m not gonna say any more, you have enough nightmares as it stands.”
“I just thought they were interesting…” Todd replied.
“I find tigers interesting but I don’t go wandering into their cages to watch them.” Roadblock replied, “Come on! Back to work! I’ll need to keep an eye on you to make sure you don’t get into anything else…”
Once Roadblock and Todd were out of earshot, Kate turned to Conrad and asked, “Is it just me or is this Shipwreck character about to add even more to the insanity around here?”
“Perhaps. He certainly seems to have an interesting sense of humor and a lot of resourcefulness, what with the tarantula and everything.” Conrad replied.
The following email exchange between Agent Caitlin Todd and Major Tim Kerry, United States Marine Corps, took up very little bandwidth but certainly was quite some interesting dialogue over the past two days:
Please tell me you’re joking? Because if you aren’t I’d swear you’re on a mental institution instead of a military base.
But you have to admit, a dish juggling cook with a propensity for experiments and a hyperactive mutant teenager makes for some interesting reading.
I miss you, by the way.
I’m not making any of this up. And sometimes I think I am at a mental institution instead of a military base. Especially with this Shipwreck character running around.
He’s this bearded sailor with a weird sense of humor. The guy supposedly got kicked out of Hawaii for something.
I miss you too.
P.S. I love you.
I love you too, and of course I miss you.
Nevermind, I think I know you aren’t making any of this up, I’ve heard rumors that the G.I. Joe team is known for some rather...unorthodox methods to say the least.
P.S. Oh God, not Shipwreck!
Ok, spill it, what’s the deal with this Shipwreck character?
Don’t get me wrong, Shipwreck is a tough, dependable and honest fellow. And he’s a great person to have watching your back in a bar fight.
However, chances are he did something to start said bar fight…
This sounds like it’s coming from personal experience.
Author’s Note: I was watching the NCIS episode, Bone Yard and was inspired to write this particular short chapter.
The Pit, Headquarters Building
General Hawk and Scarlett
17 February 2002, 0630
“So who’s shadowing our two agents now?” Hawk asked Scarlett as the two of them sat on either side of his desk in his office.
“Quick Kick and Jinx.” Scarlett replied, “They’re actually also teaching a hand to hand combat class too, so they’re being thrown into the mix.”
“Hopefully they don’t get too badly hurt.” Hawk commented.
“Well given one is a Secret Service agent and the other is an ex-member of the French Foreign Legion I’m sure they can handle themselves.” Scarlett replied.
The Pit, Ninja Dojo
Kate, Conrad, Quick Kick, Jinx
17 February 2002, 0632
Conrad Hart was multitasking. He was doing a set of pull-ups on the nearby pullup bar and watching as Kate stretched on a nearby mat before standing up and practicing kicks and punches on a nearby heavy bag.
Definitely quite limber, and fast. Conrad thought as he watched her throw a left jab, right cross, left jab and then a rapid roundhouse kick with her right foot.
After he dropped off the chin up bar Conrad headed over to another nearby heavy bag, practicing a few punches of his own, before throwing a front kick.
Kate, as a habit, observed Conrad’s punches thrown at the bag. Noticing they seemed to hit hard. Judging by how he threw them Kate came to her own conclusion. He’s definitely a power hitter, goes for hard individual strikes.
After a little more bag work, and some other work with striking pads held by Quick Kick and Jinx respectively it was time for a little sparring.
“Well,” Quick Kick said, “Time for a little sparring. Let’s see how you two do against each other, shall we?”
Both Kate and Conrad climbed into their respective corners of a standard four corner boxing ring. They both wore mouth guards, black leather fingerless MMA gloves as protection over their sports attire.
"Alright, we'll go two rounds, ending with first decisive hit or submission." Quick Kick announced.
He inspected both Kate and Conrad's gloves and mouth guards before raising his arm in the air and then swinging it downward before stepping back from the two combatants. The two circled around each other at first, trading jabs at first.
Kate noticed Conrad's practiced fighting stance as they did so. Clearly a boxer.
"Are you going to try and hit me now?" Kate commented.
"Ladies first." Conrad quipped with a smirk.
Kate thought she'd saw an opening when Conrad slightly dropped his lead hand. Throwing a quick left for his face she was surprised when Conrad quickly caught it with the palm of his left hand and threw a hard right cross over the top of it.
Kate barely was able to slip away from the punch. Definitely a counter-puncher. Kate thought.
Definitely quick. Conrad thought, noticing how Kate barely dodged his last punch.
Conrad raised his right leg, kicking out with a low front kick, connecting with Kate's upper thigh to break away.
Clever kick on the break. Kate thought, before throwing a fast roundhouse kick, aimed at Conrad's ribcage. He just narrowly dropped his left elbow quickly enough to block the kick.
Kate managed to pull her leg back before Conrad could grab a hold of it and throwing a fast left handed jab. Conrad caught it, just barely, before trying to throw another hard right. Instead of slipping to avoid it Kate ducked underneath the punch before throwing one of her own at Conrad's unprotected stomach.
She heard him let out a gasp of air, indicating a good hit.
"Round one, Kate!" Quick Kick shouted.
"Tres bien, mademoiselle." Conrad said with a smirk.
"I hope you weren't holding back on me because I'm a woman." Kate replied, with a smirk of her own. If he'd connected with either of those hard rights he threw...
"Not at all," Conrad replied, "However I can see you know what you're doing. Your timing was quite good with that last one."
"Again, three practically psychotic older brothers." Kate replied.
After a brief rest the two were at it again for a second round of sparring. Once again Quick Kick gave them the go ahead and once again they started to fight.
This time Conrad went straight onto the offensive with a fast jab. Kate caught it, but before she could counter Conrad's right leg whipped around for a roundhouse kick of his own, causing Kate to drop her left arm to shield her ribcage.
And then that's when Conrad's punch caught her on the chin.
"Round two, Conrad!" Quick Kick called.
“Well it’s pretty obvious you two are good strikers, but let’s see how you do when things go to the ground.” Quick Kick said, “That’s going to be the lesson I’ll be covering tomorrow.”
“Sounds fun.” Conrad quipped as he and Kate stepped out of the ring, removing gloves and mouth guards.
“You’re pretty good.” Conrad complimented as they began their cooling down exercises.
“Well, I do protect the President for a living.” Kate replied, “And you’re not too bad yourself.”
“Well,” Conrad said, “I did serve in the French Foreign Legion, where we were taught a blend of savate and some ground work.”
“Savate?” Kate asked.
“French for ‘Old Shoe’, it basically is a sort of kickboxing style that originated as an old school street fighting style but later evolved into a sport.” Conrad replied, “They taught us the latter version in the Legion.”
“Ah, savate,” Quick Kick commented, “The infamous ‘game from Marseilles’ they called it.”
“One and the same.” Conrad said, “Very useful in surviving on the streets of a France more reminiscent of Victor Hugo France versus the ‘wine, cheese, and art’ view of France that comes to mind.”
“Is that with or without Quasimodo jumping down from the spires of Notre Dame?” Kate commented.
“Touche.” Conrad remarked, “However I do believe Quasimodo would make one hell of a grappler.”
“How so?” Kate asked.
“Easy, having the upper body strength to ring those huge bells means he’s definitely got the strength base for it.” Conrad replied.
“Yes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he knows how to fight.” Kate replied.
“True, his form and his bulky upper body would definitely be a deterrent to the average thug.” Conrad replied, “But I could argue that he would know how to fight because there would always be that one fellow who would want to fight him…”
“This is shaping up to be the Isla Sorna debate all over again.” Kate remarked as they headed towards the entrances of their respective locker rooms.
“I do enjoy our debates, however.” Conrad replied, with a toothy grin before they split off for their respective locker rooms.
Notes from Kate's PDA: Over the last four days I've had one interesting trip. I got introduced to Todd Tolansky in a really informal way. I got to watch Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, i.e. the kid taking a joyride on a tank.
I did get to hear from the nurse that treated Todd's wounds when they found him as well as from Roadblock, the soldier that adopted him. My report is going to emphasize that Todd stay here. From what I've seen and heard so far Roadblock's made some decent progress with the kid.
While it's still too early to tell, it would be a mistake to separate the kid from his adopted home.
As far as interesting is concerned, I would be remiss if I didn't include the Pit and G.I. Joe in the mix. By no stretch of the imagination is the Pit a typical military base, as the Shakespeare troupe led by their chemical warfare expert, Airtight, clearly shows.
Their chef, BA, isn't quite playing with a full deck. He certainly plays a big part in keeping things interesting around here.
And recently I ran into a fellow nicknamed Shipwreck. By all accounts he seems to be both an effective member of the team but also just plain nuts. The term 'Napoleon of Nuts' was uttered at least once or twice.
And a third interesting is my partner for this assignment, from the ACME Detective Agency. He's a fellow riddled with contradictions. An American who served eight years in the French Foreign Legion, to include being wounded in action in Africa fighting against COBRA. His hearing in his left ear tends to come and go, owing to a grenade explosion.
In four days I've learned more trivia about the French Foreign Legion from sharing an apartment with this guy. I didn't know, for instance, until this morning that quite a few marching songs the Legion has are in German because there were large numbers of Germans in their ranks after both World Wars.
Baer wants me to stick around and learn as much as I can about Todd's rehabilitation and any information on the Brotherhood. I'm only telling Tim brief details, because I don't want Baer knowing that we're seeing each other. After all dating between members on Presidential Detail is absolutely forbidden...
To Be Continued. Up next our pair meet other mutants that live on the Pit...
Author's Note: The characters of Althea and Claudius Delgado first appeared in Red Witch's Ronin Toad.
The Pit, Ninja Dojo
Todd Tolansky and Stormshadow
17 February 2002, 0858
Not even twenty-four hours after making the promise to not sneak around the ninja dojo Todd was back. Something he couldn’t explain drew him over there.
Maybe if I’m real quiet they’ll let me watch. Todd thought. He watched as a ninja in white was practicing his moves, moving fluidly, swiftly, not wasting a single bit of energy. A study in precise movement.
That’s got to be the one they call Stormshadow. Todd thought.
To his surprise the ninja went into a crouched stance, similar to his own, like a frog on a lily pad. The ninja seemed oblivious to the world around him, the man was totally still, almost like a statue. Todd crept closer, from behind, out of the man’s field of view.
“Would you like to join me?” the ninja said softly, “It would be nice to have someone to exercise with.”
Todd’s heart hammered in his chest, threatening to invade his throat. How did he know I was there? Well, duh, he’s a ninja!
Stormshadow didn’t seem angry about it in the least. He quietly skootched over to the ninja, side to side with the man. And then he began copying the ninja’s moves...
The Pit, Officer’s Quarters
Kate and Conrad
17 February 2002, 0910
“What are you whistling?” Kate asked as they walked towards the apartment building, referring to the slightly jaunty tune Conrad was whistling.
“Der Westerwaldlied.” Conrad replied.
“Another Foreign Legion marching song?” Kate asked.
“Actually it was a German marching song, popular in the Wehrmacht in the Second World War.” Conrad replied.
“How do you know it, then?” Kate asked, “Please don’t tell me you served in the German Army too?”
“No, it’s in the Foreign Legion’s repertoire.” Conrad replied.
“How does the French Foreign Legion have a German song in its songbook?” Kate asked, with a quirked eyebrow.
“There were a lot of Germans in the Legion after both the First and Second World Wars.” Conrad replied, “I can recall several songs that we had to learn that were in German, reflecting the heavy presence of Germans in the Legion.”
“Such as?” Kate asked, genuinely curious.
“Ich Hatt’einen Kameraden, Schwarze Rose, and Lili Marlene are the three that readily come to mind.” Conrad replied.
At Kate’s quizzical look, Conrad supplied, “The first one ‘I Had a Comrade’, sung in memory of the fallen. The second, ‘Black Rose’ is one that came about during the 19th century in Algeria. And the third is a universal theme, a soldier missing a lover. It was actually popular with both sides in World War II.”
“No way.” Kate replied.
“Well, some things are universal.” Conrad replied.
"OK, smart guy, how did Allied soldiers get a hold of a German song?” Kate asked.
“Radio Belgrade played it as its sign off broadcast and British soldiers in North Africa on shortwave radios were able to pick it up.” Conrad replied.
Kate was about to reply when she noticed Roadblock heading for them right out of the corner of her eye.
“Roadblock, what’s going on?” Conrad asked, as he noticed the massive soldier heading their way.
“Have either of you seen Todd anywhere?” Roadblock asked.
“No, not at all. Not since breakfast this morning.” Conrad replied.
“He wandered off again?” Kate asked.
“Looks like it.” Roadblock said.
“Wonder where he could’ve headed off to?” Conrad asked.
“Well, what did Roadblock scold him about yesterday?” Kate countered.
The Pit, Ninja Dojo
Todd Tolansky and Stormshadow
17 February 2002, 0915
Todd followed Stormshadow’s moves almost exactly. He wasn’t quite as graceful but it wasn’t hard for him to practice these moves. Then they moved across the room to a set of balance beams several feet off the ground.
This is easy! I could do this all day...Todd beamed.
“Uh oh!” Todd said as he fell off the beams and landing right on top of Conrad.
Todd gave a weak smile as he stood up and dusted himself off. A slightly dazed Conrad swayed somewhat unsteadily to his feet.
“Are you alright?” Kate asked.
“I landed on something soft.” Todd replied.
“I think that was my head followed by my shoulders.” Conrad grumbled.
“Didn’t I tell you not to bother them?” Roadblock scolded.
"He wasn’t bothering me.” Stormshadow said, “In fact, it was very nice having him around. We should do this again sometime.”
“Really?” Todd’s eyes brightened.
“Yes,” Stormshadow replied.
Kate blanched slightly. While it’s true the kid is no longer part of Magneto’s Brotherhood of Mutants, I’m not so sure I like the fact that he’s about to learn ninjitsu and…
“You may have a point,” Roadblock said, “The kid could use the discipline.”
Kate sighed with relief and she noticed Conrad’s wry grin. Note to self, ask him about that later.
As Roadblock and Stormshadow made arrangements for Todd’s future training Kate felt somewhat more reassured. Note to self, be very careful about mentioning Todd and ninja training in the same sentence.
Kate turned to Conrad and asked him, "What are you grinning about?"
"The fact that mademoiselle was worried over nothing." Conrad replied.
"A former member of the Brotherhood of Mutants learning ninja skills does give me some concern." Kate replied.
"However there is an inherent discipline involved in properly learning and mastering any martial art." Conrad countered, "And the boy hasn't any loyalty to Magneto."
"My job involves worrying about any threat to the President's safety, Conrad." Kate replied, "So I do have to look into any possible threat."
Conrad merely canted his head towards where Stormshadow and Todd were talking with Roadblock.
"Well, I could use some help sweeping out the back." Stormshadow said.
"Oh, I get it." Todd said, "This is just like those movies where the kid does all these chores but it turns out they were martial arts lessons in another form, right?"
"Uh, sure..." Stormshadow said.
"You do realize," Kate remarked, "That the kid is operating off of an old movie cliche, right?"
"Yes, but its a harmless one." Conrad replied, "It might help him."
Shortly afterward Stormshadow headed out of the back room, a meditation room of some sort, and headed straight for where Conrad and Kate were standing.
"I see the two of you have some concerns about Todd being trained in the ways of the ninja." Stormshadow calmly began, without preamble.
"Some, yes." Kate replied.
"I don't have any." Conrad countered.
"I will train the boy." Stormshadow said, "I will train him in our ways, to include the discipline a ninja must possess."
"I still have a few misgivings." Kate remarked.
"The boy is like a pitcher waiting for the water of knowledge to fill him." Stormshadow remarked.
"You can say it," Roadblock said as he approached the trio, "He isn't the fastest frog in the pond. But he means well and he tries hard."
"And given he has bonded to you," Conrad replied, "I honestly do not believe he is any threat. This ninja training may well be another way for the boy to heal."
"Maybe I should add more fish to his diet, it's supposed to be brain food." Roadblock replied.
"The boy is going to need a lot of fish." Stormshadow replied.
Kate was about to reply when the sound of a loud boom, like the clap of thunder, was heard.
The Pit, Ninja Dojo
17 February 2002, 0944
In the small meditation chamber Todd was busily sweeping. His face bore the expression of intense concentration. I don't care if I have to sweep the entire base, I want Roadblock to be proud of me. I'll be a good little Toad and prove once and for all I'm not a screw up! I'll do everything he tells me to do, because that's part of martial arts training! Nothing is going to go wrong now...Wait, what's that noise!?
Todd turned his head. He could've sworn he heard something. It sounded like a chime and several people talking.
Well Roadblock, Stormshadow, Kate and Conrad are out there. Maybe it's them? Todd thought to himself.
But the noises he heard persisted and none of the talking sounded like either of the four people at the front of the dojo.
I'm probably imagining things. Back to work...Todd thought and he went back to sweeping. But he heard the noises again going through his head. And this time he could identify where they were coming from.
It was the altar. And as he moved closer he noticed the mat underneath the altar began to glow brightly.
Acting entirely on instinct Todd moved the altar and the mat it rested on aside, finding the glow coming from underneath a trap door built almost seamlessly into the floorboards. As he lifted the door the voices and glowing stopped. Inside the hidden panel was a small hardwood box, with several letters in Kanji on it.
The box opened, seemingly of its own accord and inside the box was a round crystal that had some sort of writing on it as well. The language was one that Todd didn't know.
Should I put this back? I mean if it was in a hidden compartment that means I wasn't supposed to know where it was. Well, I'm not gonna steal it, I'm just gonna look at it for a few minutes.
With that in mind Todd stroked the top of the stone, and to his extreme surprise it began to glow with an even greater intensity. Then it levitated out of his hands, glowing with even greater intensity.
Then it came to a stop before spinning, glowing even brighter. Todd crouched, staring at it, hypnotized by the intensity of the glow before it flashed and the sound of a thunderclap. That was the last sound Todd heard before he fell unconscious.
The Pit, The Infirmary
Todd, Roadblock, and Stormshadow
17 February 2002, 1102
"Oohh...what happened?" Todd said as he sat up.
"You ok kid?" Roadblock asked.
"I just feel a little dizzy." Todd replied, "What happened?"
"You don't remember anything?" Roadblock asked.
"I just remember finding this weird box and opening it and then this bright light..." Todd replied, forehead scrunching in thought.
"I'm afraid you triggered one of our hidden traps, installed to protect the dojo." Stormshadow replied.
"I guess that means I screwed up..." Todd replied, in a small voice, "A-and that I'm not allowed back."
"Actually," Stormshadow replied, "I was thinking you could benefit from some lessons."
"Oh he could use some lessons alright." Roadblock added.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to cause trouble." Todd replied.
"You never do! And you don't think! You could've been hurt or killed or worse." Roadblock scolded.
"Roadblock, he wasn't entirely to blame." Stormshadow interjected, "We should have been more careful where we placed the trap. It was also our fault for having forgotten it was there."
"Well," Roadblock replied, addressing Todd, "you could use the discipline martial arts teach."
"You're not mad anymore?" Todd asked.
"Kid, I'm not really mad at you." Roadblock said, "I was worried sick, however! You need to be a lot more careful. I'm willing to let it go this time, as long as you've learned something from all this."
"Uh, don't sneak around ninja dojos?" Todd supplied.
"Bingo!" Roadblock replied.
"Well, that settles it, then." Stormshadow replied, "Your first lesson is tomorrow, where you'll be training with some of the others."
"I'll be there!" Todd said, excitedly, "Thanks Stormshadow! You won't regret this! Do you want me to finish sweeping up the dojo now?"
"NO!" Roadblock and Stormshadow declared simultaneously.
"Listen, kid, why don't you wait outside. With Stormshadow I'd like to confide." Roadblock said, "Go stay with Agent Hart and Agent Todd in the waiting room."
"Ok," Todd said as he walked outside the room.
The Pit, Infirmary Waiting Room
17 February 2002, 1144
Todd headed out into the waiting room, but didn't see Conrad or Kate anywhere. Huh, wonder where those two headed off to? Todd thought.
Then a thought popped into Todd’s head, or rather another thought. Roadblock did say to stay with Agent Hart and Agent Todd. I should go look for them.
After that particular thought popped into his head he headed out and started wandering around the building. He walked down hallways and stared into rooms…
The Pit, Infirmary Waiting Room
Kate Todd and Conrad Hart
17 February 2002, 1155
“I swear there’s some kind of cell phone jammer in the waiting room.” Conrad remarked as they walked back into the waiting room.
“Wouldn’t surprise me.” Kate replied.
“And of course at a moment where our respective bosses wanted to talk to us.” Conrad added with a wry grin.
It was as Kate was about to reply that Stormshadow and Roadblock walked into the waiting room.
Roadblock began, “Have either of you two seen Todd?”
“I thought he was with you?” Conrad countered.
“I sent him out here to wait for me after I had a private word with Stormshadow.” Roadblock replied, “Did you two see him?”
“No, we both got calls from our bosses and had to step outside to take them.” Kate replied.
“He’s wandered off again and…” Roadblock began.
Before Roadblock could finish the sentence Bree came into the Waiting Room. “I hate to interrupt, but we’ve got a Code 22.”
“Oh no, not him too.” Roadblock groaned.
“What’s a Code 22?” Kate asked.
“I think we’d best try and see for ourselves.” Conrad replied as he motioned for Kate to follow Roadblock and Stormshadow.
The Pit, The Laundry Room
17 February 2002, 1151
Todd poked his nose into the laundry room, “I wonder if there are any spare quarters in here?”
Todd walked into the room, looking around, hearing a scuttling and shuffling sound behind him.
“Wh-who’s there?” Todd began.
Something ran behind him into a pile of laundry. Todd gingerly crept up to it and lifting the rumpled towel slowly to reveal what was hiding underneath.
Todd’s eyes widened. It was a small child, just barely a toddler with bright blue eyes and a wild mop of black hair wearing a tiny sailor suit. But most prominently the little boy had flippers, like a seal lion instead of hands and feet.
“Huh? Where did you come from?” Todd asked.
The little fellow merely blinked, curiously.
“Hey, you must be a mutant! Gotta be with those flippers! Hey, I’m a mutant too, watch!” Todd said.
Then Todd did a backflip, landing on the far wall. He scampered around on the walls and ceiling and with a flourish he landed on the floor.
“Ta Da!” Todd said.
The little boy giggled and Todd said, “Oh you like that, huh?”
Todd smiled, pleased with himself, “Presenting the Amazing Todd the Toad! Mutant entertainer extraordinaire!”
He did a few more flips and bounces, much to the infant’s delight. He even did several tongue flicks, turning on and off several lights. The little boy clapped his flippers and squealed with delight and Todd picked him up and twirled around with him.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH HIM!?”
At the sound of the angry female shout Todd found himself knocked on the floor, staring at the feet of a very angry girl. She was about his age, with long black hair dyed with a few electric blue streaks. She was a head taller than him, wearing a dark blue tank top, jeans, and a black leather jacket, her ears adorned with a pair of Chinese coin earrings; a shell necklace and fingerless black leather gloves. She also looked like she could take on Wolverine in a fight and win and take on the X-men immediately afterward.
She set the little mutant whom she was cradling in her arms, before balling her hands into fists as she demanded, “What do you think you were doing with him?”
Todd blinked as he looked up at the girl, “I wasn’t doing anything. This little flipper guy snuck up on me.”
“That little flipper guy is my brother!” the girl snapped.
The little mutant crawled over to Todd and wrapped his arms around Todd’s leg, “Toddy! Mine!”
“Huh?” The girl replied, with confusion etching her features, “Well I’ll be...He likes you. He’s usually very shy with strangers. He never does that.”
“Well we ain’t strangers now,” Todd replied, “Todd Tolansky. Call me Toad.”
“Toad, huh?” the girl replied, looking him over, “Althea Delgato. Don’t call me Al!”
“You don’t look like an Al.” Todd replied, before turning to the little mutant, saying, “And what’s your name little guy?”
“Claudie.” the baby mutant said.
“His name is Claudius.” Althea said as she picked her baby brother up.
“Cute little fellow,” Todd replied, “It’s nice to see another mutant here, even if he’s only a baby.”
He tousled Claudius’ hair and the little boy giggled.
Shipwreck rushed into the room, with Roadblock, Kate and Conrad behind him.
“You found him?” Shipwreck said.
“Yeah, Toad here got him. Call off the Code 22.”
“Code 22?” Todd asked.
“Escaped baby.” Althea explained, “For someone with flippers my baby brother is insanely fast. Maybe if someone was paying better attention to him he wouldn’t get out so much.”
Flippers? Kate thought. Well, no kidding the little fellow is a mutant. Why wasn’t that in my briefing?
Kate noticed Conrad smiling, holding up his right hand and wiggling his fingers, as the toddler looked at them and blinked.
Althea glared at Shipwreck, meanwhile, “I told you to watch him!”
“I was watching him!” Shipwreck replied.
“More like watching the football game.” Althea countered, folding her arms, “Just one minute while I got his bath ready, that’s all I asked for, one lousy minute!”
“I told you I was gonna do his bath.” Shipwreck added with a glare.
“After the last time?” Althea said, incredulous, “You got soap all over the bathroom!”
“I told you I wouldn’t use that much bubble bath again!” Shipwreck replied, eyes rolling.
“Yeah right.” Althea countered.
“Hey, when Shipwreck Delgato makes a promise he keeps it.”
“You have the same name as her?” Todd asked Shipwreck, “You related or something?”
“Well I am her father,” Shipwreck replied, “Or so I’m told.”
“Sheesh. Why are the cute guys always so dumb?” Althea asked.
“What?” Todd asked, he wasn’t sure he heard her correctly.
“Come on baby, bath time. Wave bye bye…” Althea cooed at her little brother.
“Buh bye.” Claudius said, giggling and waving.
“See ya around, Little C.” Todd said.
“You’ll have to forgive my daughter for being so rude.” Shipwreck said, “I’d say it was that time of the month, but she tends to be like this longer than a few days.”
“Shipwreck!” Kate scolded.
“She just needs to work with her social skills with boys her own age…” Shipwreck added.
“DADDY!” Althea shouted.
“Maybe you two should hang around a bit more.” Shipwreck suggested, stroking his beard in contemplation as he did so, ignoring the death glare Althea was fixing him with, “You could hang about the house for a bit…”
“Da-ad…” Althea glared, turning red.
“What?” Shipwreck said, “You said he was cute. You never say guys are cute.”
“Okaywegottagobyebyenow!” Althea said, grabbing Shipwreck by the arm with a free hand as her blush deepened.
“Oh for crying out loud it’s not like I’m asking you to make out with the guy in your room!” Shipwreck said as he was dragged out of sight.
Kate, Conrad and Todd beheld the spectacle before them and it was a long time before any of them spoke.
Kate broke the silence, “Is it just me or is Shipwreck…”
Roadblock rolled his eyes, “Yes, Shipwreck is a bit of a lunatic.”
Tim, is that what you meant? Kate thought. A bit of a lunatic doesn’t cover it when it comes to Shipwreck…
I like the ninja's name...Stormshadow. I still practice the hand-to hand fighting skills I learned after I joined the gang as a homeless orphan in Cairo. It is a very useful skill to have. But I do not have any formal ninja training. I also like the element of magic. I often rhyme when I use my powers. As for the rest of it...well...all I can say is: NO MAN would EVER SAY that to ME in front of other people!! But, then when you can *make the whites of your eyes turn solid white* it tends to scare people a bit.