Thursday, May 12, 2005

TMNT: Vignettes Post 3

"His tatics feel like Yukuza." Lotus frowned up at the karoke bar in Little Tokyo. She and Clin-san stood down the strret from it and the crowds swerved around them, the bustle that was New York City with a mix of tourist frolic. Lotus wasn't sure which was more annoying.

"Nagi's mother was raised Yukuza before marrying into the Oroku clan." Clin-san wore a black haori and hakama. Lotus wore her black gi, and both were recieving glances and shrugs from the Westernized crowd. "Already he extorts business, otherwise we would not be meeting here. And he recruits others to contend with that side." He gestured at the five young men exiting the club. The one swaggering in front had a large purple dragon tattoo coiled around his entire arm.

"They would draw less attention than ninjas. But if Oroku Nagi gains control of the entire Foot Clan...."

"Feh, let's be finished with this." Clin-san led the way into the karoke bar.

Daisuke met them in the foyer. Lotus narrowed her eyes at her former classmate. He frowned slightly but it disappeared as he adjusted his Western tie. "Mr. Oroku will see you now." He led them past the divider wall into the main club room. Two girls were trying to sing a duet on the stage. The group they were with must be the table laughing the loudest. The stairs were off to the side, and went up to a short hall. Daisuke opened a door on the right side and held it open until they entered.

The office extended the full-length of the hall, making an oppossing space. A collection of bladed weapons and two suits of samuri armor filled the back wall. Large framed landscapes from Japan hung at intervals on the long walls up to the desk.

Oroku Nagi rose from behind the teakwood desk. "Clin-san, Miss Norinaga, welcome to America. How flattering that you have followed me here. Please sit."

Her eyes narrowed at how gaigan he made her name sound, but she was disciplined and would follow Clin-san's lead. Clin-san perched on the chair offered. Lotus stood behind him but slightly to the side. "You know why we have come, Oroku-san," Clin-san said severely.

"You are looking well, Clin-san. Travel agrees with you."

"And you look like a gaigan businessman."

Nagi's dark eyes flashed. He pulled the suit jacket down before sitting again. "A true ninja can assume any part."

"A true ninja does not try to change the rules the Honored Master has established for the succession." Clin-san's arms rested lightly on the chair's arms.

"I came to America to find Saki's followers. Two underlings thought they were doing me a service by eliminating a rival. They have been punished. Now is there anything else? Is the girl ready to fight?"

"Allison Baker will not fight you. She is stepping aside in favor of her brother Zackery. He will fight you when he becomes of age."

Nagi's hands slammed against his desk. "You expect me to wait seven years!"

"I suspect you will find a way to make the time profitable." Clin-san glanced around the office. "But you agreed to settle this by combat with Yoshi's heir, your mother and the Honorable Master agreed as well. You cannot dictate who the heir is."

Nagi straightened his silk tie. "Well, accidents happen, Clin-san."

"Hai, but if any accidents are engineered for the heir and his siter, it will cause a civil war in the Foot Clan. How certain are you of winning that?" Clin-san lifted his chin, but his gaze never left Nagi's face.

"The freaks that killed my brother," Nagi smirked. Lotus stiffened and her hand ached for her katana. "I will kill them for that. And tell them that interferring in my affiars will make killing them easier."

Clin-san nodded once and stood. The meeting was over. The street felt cleaner when Daisuke led them out, even though the crowds hadn't vanished. But Lotus didn't relax not even when they got on the subway. Even though no one was following them, and she was very good at spotting stalkers.

"Well, it appears that they will need your help. Fortunate that you decided to stay." Clin-san perched on the subway bench. Lotus sat next to him. "Even if their safety factors very little in your decision."

"Most fortunate," that was the safest answer.

He cast her a side-long glance. "Always on guard. "I hope your young kappa can teach you how to enjoy life." Lotus felt her cheeks get warm, but Clin-san ignored it. "The arrangements have been made. Are you sure about being a student?"

"I can take on any role." She looked straight ahead at the window of the subway car.

"But a horticultural student?"

Lotus shrugged. "I like bonsai trees."

TMNT: Vignettes Post 2

I work on these sections as I get inspired to tell the story. The posting order has no bearing on the final order.

Allie stood on the sidewalk and practiced breathing while staring at the building. The crumbling seven-story building only exuded a plea for restoration. The neon sign above the steps to the basement entrance said "The Snake Pit" in unlit tubes of glass. The "S" was designed to be a snake ready to strike.

She took another deep breath. She loved Mike and Zack, for their sakes she would go back to the part of her life she had turned her back on over a year ago/almost two years ago. Besides, she already gave Zack a contingency plan involving them; she should introduce herself. So why was she so nervous? Probably because nothing had been going like she planned from following Billy on. She sighed as she walked across the street and down the steps.

The door was unlocked and the hostess counter unmanned, but Allie heard sawing and hammering further in the club space. She eased into the larger space. Two stories had been combined for the club. Kleig lights hung over the main space and each was lit so that the builders of the stage worked in nearly sunlight. The second floor wasn't completely gone, it covered the foyer of the club and jutted out like a balcony.

Someone observing the construction hurried toward her. Allie's throat tightened. The girl had feathers for hair and large owl eyes. "We're closed, the construction part is rather obvious."

"I'm one of the Forsaken looking for home."

The owl-girl blinked, but the code words had registared. Yeah, Allie had found the right place. "My name is Flight of Fancy. You can call me Fancy. What's your's?"

"Allie Baker formerly of the Black Bones."

Fancy's jaw dropped. She stared Allie up and down. "Stay here," she stammered and hurried back to the construction crew. She gestered frantically at one man watching them and spoke to him animatedly when she got his attention.

The man finally walked to Allie. Startched white button down shirt and starched blue jeans, must be his idea of dressing down. He looked Hispanic under his expensive shades. "Hello, I'm Snake-eyes. I'm in charge here."

"Allie Baker."

Snake-eyes grinned. "So you're the infamous Allie Baker. The Leader thought you'd show up here. Sent an emissary to tell us to keep an eye out for you."

Allie scowled before she could stop herself. "The Leader needs to mind the Leader's business."

Snake-eyes only chuckled. "Let's go up to my office." He escorted her to one of the freight elevators jutting into the club. "This is headquarters, but I own most of the surrounding blocks. I think my real estate agent is expecting another Harlem Renaissance."

"Big cell?" Allie stuffed her hand in her pockets.

"Big enough group to qualify for one of the minorities. Right climate, huge city, right attitude. Mutates actually blend."

Allie mentally filed the idea to ask Mike how they'd feel about moving above ground. But if the Shredder founf out about the Mutates, too risky. The elevator stopped on the fourth floor, a hallway of doors. Snake-eyes's spacious office was at the end of course. "Sit down. Care for something to drink?"

"Dr. Pepper, please."

"Another caffine junkie." Snake-eyes tsked as he handed her the cold can from the minibar. "You wouldn't believe how many cases of this stuff the Pit goes through."

Allie swallowed some of the drink before asking, "Were you told what happened to me?"

"I was given Skulls's report. He and the Leader both thought you'd get back to New York to see your family if nothing else. I'm sorry about your brother." Allie must have let her surprise show, because he added. "Saw the news and their names were in the report."

"Just how detailed is that report?"

"Di said you'd react that way." Snake-eyes chuckled. "She also said to add it was only included because you were tagged and Val Tech makes tracking mistakes. Val Tech wasn't involved with your brother, was it?"

Allie shook her head. "No, he was investigating the Foot Clan."

"Those guys are like roaches, you can't get rid of them. Heard they have ties to a new gang on the streets, the Purple Dragons."

"I'll remember to stay away. All I really wanted was to make sure you'd help Zack, my brother, if he has Val Tech trouble."

"Of course that's not even a question." He waited until she drained the soda can down her throat. "Now what about you?"

She threw the can and it bounced off the rim. "I can't be as involved as I was, we've been adopted and I have an obligation to help raise Zack. I'd rather them not find out."

"Well we appreciate that too. But what about you?" Snake-eyes leaned back behind his desk.

Allie blinked. She hadn't thought of what she wanted at all, typical. She stood up to throw away the can and to think about it. She wanted everything to go back to the way it was before she was tagged. She had made a difference, was doing good, and now it was all over. She wasn't sure if how she felt about Mike could make up for losing that.

It must have shown on her face because Snake-eyes sat up. "You miss it that much?"

"I guess I do." Allie took a deep breath. "But I don't see how I can. I can't let my new family or Zack know. But if I lose my skills that may endanger Zack more. Plus I like helping others, but I don't know what I can do in a cell."

"Stop trying to figure it all out yourself for starters. You were Skulls's second-in-command, right?"

"It shows?"

"Just a little. Look your life went upside down in what a weekend? You don't have to fix it in the same amount of time. You're welcome here if you need to visit or spar or train. If something comes up, you'll be available to help with it." Snake-eyes stood up. "Look at the rest of this as an extended vacation. You're a good kid, Allie, and I want you on my side, but you're wrung out. Take some time for yourself."

"That's what everybody's been telling me since San Francisco." Allie sighed.

"Well stop being stubborn and take the advice." He perched on the edge of his desk. "San Francisco? I thought you got tagged in San Diego."

"I was." Might as well continue things on the right foot and confide in him. "Val Tech caught up with me in San Francisco when a cop took me in as a runaway and potential terrorist. We worked out a compromise once Val Tech took out their precinct station and nearly everyone in it."

Snake-eyes lost control of his sunglasses and they slid down his nose. His amber reptilian eyes stared at her. "You were involved in that?"

"Not by my choice. I was making new friends and learning kung fu. Val Tech are the ones who made it personal."

Snake-eyes puched his sunglasses back in place. "Well Val Tech is staying out of New York thanks probably to the guys in the black pyjamas."

Wow, Nagi's responsible for something good. "So I guess I don't have anything to worry about."

"You'll find something to worry about." Snake-eyes chuckled, and held out his hand. "Welcome on board."

The nearly constant fluttering in her stomach settled. Something finally went the way she thought it should, and she got something good too. She shook his hand. "Glad to be back."