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Chapter 4

Shyla was busy pulling on a clean shirt after her post-training shower when she cocked her head and listened carefully. Dusk was approaching, and loud talking was coming from the front yard of the house across the street. Shyla went to her window and looked out, curious at the commotion. The house belonged to Shaun’s family, and he was standing on his front lawn yelling something up at the window in the corner. His best friend, Harry Venediger, yelled something back. This went on for over half an hour. Shyla watched, intrigued, as two more people arrived, and joined in the shouting match. She couldn’t hear what they were saying because Clarisse was listening to a CD downstairs, and the sounds were mixing.

The sun had long disappeared when the yelling eventually stopped. Shyla slipped into her black turtleneck top, tight black pants, rubber-soled shoes and mask. She plaited her hair and sprang up onto her window ledge in preparation to leave. The tree was not necessary to get down, so she jumped straight onto the ground. She was across the street and up the tree outside Shaun’s bedroom window before the pedestrian on the street had even registered she was there. Shyla climbed onto the roof and slid down until she was sitting above a narrow window on the far side of his house, overlooking the pool. It was ten o’clock before Shaun motioned for his friends to quiet down so he could talk. “Listen, guys,” Shaun’s voice floated up to where she perched. Shyla sat up straight and forced herself to pay attention. “Something serious is up.”

Shyla took a chance that she wouldn’t be seen, and peered over the edge of the window. The four friends were huddled around a table, looking down at a piece of paper with printing on it. “Last night,” began Shaun, looking around at his friends. “I was lying in bed when I heard voices outside. I looked through the window to see a girl standing in my front garden.”

Shyla’s stomach lurched. He had seen her during her last conversation with Dark Ninja, who had been in the shadow of the house, and therefore unseen. “I don’t understand.” Said one of his friends. “Why are we here then?”

Shaun picked up the paper. “Liborio Fragale has a reward out on any live ninja that is captured and brought to them. If we can catch her, we can collect on the reward.”

Harry sat back in his chair. “Did you see who she was talking to?”

Shaun shook his head. “No, but I heard him ask her if she would be out tonight.”

Harry looked at the two other guys at the table. “You want in?”

Both nodded. Shaun grinned. “Then let’s go get us a ninja.”

The group all started talking at once, trying to decide the best course of action, and Shyla decided to have some fun. She left the boys to their planning and jumped down into the tree. Rocking the branch she was sitting on, Shyla managed to tap the window with the end. “What the hell was that?” one of the guys said from inside.

“It’s her!” replied Shaun as he opened his window. Shyla jumped onto the roof just as the window slid open. Shaun looked around, leaving the window open while they continued their planning. Shyla jumped down off the roof, purposely kicking a metal bucket next to the pool. It rattled against the paving as it skidded into the fence. Shaun and his friends struggled against one another as they all raced to the narrow window together. Shyla deliberately stepped out of the shadow, and Shaun yelled, “I see her!”

The group barrelled down the stairs and through the back door. Shyla stood still, facing them, her eyes shining with delight.

Henry was jogging leisurely through the neighbourhood, lacking anything better to do. It was a warm summer night, and the suburbs were quiet and peaceful. That was when he heard a commotion three houses away. He headed towards the noise, and climbed up onto the roof to peer over. The first thing he spotted was Ginger Ninja standing across the pool from Shaun and some guys from school. She appeared to be taunting them, but he couldn’t be sure.

He acted on instinct – something was off about this situation – and jumped down behind the four guys as they closed in on Ginger Ninja. Ginger Ninja didn’t see him, and jumped up as Shaun charged her. Henry stepped in, and grabbed Shaun, pulling him back. Ginger Ninja looked up and made eye contact with him. He saw her smile, and felt himself frown in irritation.

This was not the time for ninjas to be flaunting themselves, not when Master Wong had just sent out a message warning them of Liborio Fragale’s reward for a live ninja. Henry released Shaun, and walked through the shadows around the group, stopping just behind Ginger Ninja. Shaun spotted his green eyes shining the way Ginger Ninja’s were, and looked over at Harry. “I think,” he murmured, “that we may require a little more planning on our part.”

His friends nodded, and began to retreat slowly. Henry stepped into the light next to Ginger Ninja and smiled. He turned to her and said with a gesture towards the fleeing group, “Shall we?”

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