Heart of Metal, Beats Like Gold

I Do Not Understand

"So, Howard," Randy called out, as the two pedaled on their bikes on their way to school. "Did you finish your essay yesterday?"

"Ahahaha, honk no!" Howard called back. "That thing was way too hard."

"Wha—How is choosing what the greatest moment of your life is be hard?"

"It was hard to choose between the first time I discovered the Game Hole or the first time I ate a sandwich. What did you write?"

"The day we first met."

"Whoa, man. Don't go sappy on me."

"Randy rolled his eyes as they came to a stop. He then turned his head and recognized someone from the sidewalk. "Hey, it's Kuno," he pointed out.


"Kuno Ichi? The one who got us out of a month's detention and a second chance at the essay?"

"Ah, I'd probably like her better if she fully got us out of both."

"What the juice—Just yesterday you wanted to be friends with her because of that!"

"Yo, Kuno!" Howard shouted, ignoring him.

The girl suddenly looked up from a piece of paper she was reading and stared at the boys. "Oh, it is you two." Again wit the blank expression. "Ohayou."

"Shouldn't you be at school?" Randy asked, examining her guitar bag. "Performing early, or whatever."

"It is to be postponed today. It appears that I am lost."

Suddenly, Howard burst out into a fit of laughter at her words. Randy raised an eyebrow while Kuno did not flinch or react. Seeing their faces, Howard frowned. "Wait, you're serious?"

"I do not recall ever trying to joke around."

"School's just around the corner, dude, how can you miss it?"

"I have only been around Norrisville for three weeks. Yesterday was, as you know it, my first day of school."

"Well, we could show you the way if you'd like," Randy offered. "Give you a lift?"

"Uh, Cunningham?" Howard called. "In case you forgot, our bikes are big enough for one person each?"

"It is all right. If you would be so kind to show me the way, that would be fine."

Randy pointed forward. "Just go straight and that's it. Norrisville High will be right there."

"Arigatou gozaimasu."

"Just for the record, what does that even mean?"

"Thank you. I shall be on my way now." With that, she walked away.

"I hate how she always gets the last word," Howard muttered, as they continued to pedal off.

That Tuesday, the first class was Poetry. It was supposedly another class the boys had with Kuno. Mrs. Zingwald was just in a good mood too.

"All right, class. Let's have a poem exercise today! Write a one-versed, four-lined, poem, and let all lines end with the same letter. Plus points if you can make it rhyme!"

"Well, this should be easy," Randy admitted.

"Yeah, good night, Cunningham."

Just as everyone went and got started, Kuno stood up and walked towards the teacher. She was more than confused when she was given a little piece of paper. "And what is this, Miss Kuno?"

"A slip," the blue-haired teen replied blankly.

The teacher adjusted her glasses. "To be excuses from poetry class?"

"Please understand, Mrs. Zingwald. I have an incapability to rhyme. Or to compose."

"But aren't you a singer?"

"I do not write my own songs. I merely translate."

Mrs. Zingwald was still unsure but she nodded her head anyway. "All right, if you say so. You are excused."

"Thank you." The girl gave a slight bow as she went to take her seat.

"Is Mrs. Zingwald really gonna believe that?" Howard scoffed, eyeing Kuno.

"Well, I think she told us the same thing yesterday," Randy noted. "We should just leave it alone."

"Hmph. Shoob."

At lunch, they didn't appear to be surprised when they heard the sound of music and cheering in the cafeteria. "What the juice?" Randy muttered at what he saw. Kuno was strumming away on her guitar again, standing on a table she used as a stage.

"Even at my favorite time of the day," Howard sighed.

"Hey, Randy!" Theresa greeted when she saw the teen boy.

Randy had to grin when he saw her. "Hey, Theresa! The new girl's at it again?"

"Uh-huh. She's kinda good on that guitar, don't you think?"

Howard only scoffed. "Shoob."

(A/N: This time it's a song called "Detention Teacher", or in Japanese, "Inokori Sensei". Lyrics by JubyPhonic again! Look for her cover, it's the honking cheese :) )

Now class, do you like your teacher or not?
(Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah)
Anybody holding back or didn't nod
I'll see you when class is done

You think that I'd really care, are you blind?
Go on, keep glaring like I'm just a brat, fine!
You versus me, we don't match up at all
Cause I'm a grown man, at least…some might call

All of this petty talk, don't mess around with me
I'm not kid so just cut it out! It's not like I'm three
"You couldn't handle this" You said time and again
Well your loss, 'cause I win…hah?

Now class, do you like your teacher or not?
(Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah)
Anybody holding back or didn't nod
I'll see you around soon

Hey sir, I hate you, ya know?
Friends wouldn't do this or make me feel so alone
Alright! Unanimous then, they all agree so take a win!

Hey sir, you think this is right?
Look at this homework I've let all just slip by
Is it bad if I wanted your hand?
To help me like you did back then?

Call me a kid all want but you know
You versus me, we got some things the same though (?)
Falling in love, even I've felt it grow
Cause I'm mature now…at least, I think so

Give up the tough guy act, I know you're not like that
I see right through all your poker faces
So now I'm all grown and - don't have to hold my hand
Step away, got it yet? Hah?

Now class, do you like your teacher or not?
(Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah)
I could never just agree or go along
If it's just an act to show them

Hey sir, I hate you, ya know?
Friends wouldn't do this or make me feel so alone
Alright! Unanimous then, they all agree so take a win!

Hey sir, you think this is right?
Look at this homework I've let all just slip by
Is it bad if I wanted your hand?
To help me like you did back then?

Everybody always hanging 'round all the time
Everybody smiling as you joke from behind
Finally it hit me that I'm watching go by
The things that once were mine

Everybody always hanging 'round all the time
All my favorite things were piling up in my mind
Though you can never know how special they are
Until you feel them slipping by

(insert bruce guitar solo here :D)

Now class, do you like your teacher or not?
(Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah)
Always "I" before "E", except after "C"
(Always "I" before "E", except after "C")

Now then, do you all like my classes or not?
(Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah)
Anybody holding back or didn't nod
That would leave just me, am I wrong?

On and on, a thousand years gone
Meeting and leaving us at every day's dawn
Give it up and get back in line
You could try one more time

Hey sir, you hate me or what?
Acting like we're just some strangers at school, enough!
Alright! I do matter then, and I'm the vote you need to win

Hey sir, remember the days?
All that inside you's still breaking, but you can change
Solving now, you've got me on your side
You're home again this time
And we can laugh and grin
Just like we did always back then

When her song ended, everyone clapped as she bowed and finally got off the table. Everyone that had gathered in a crowd finally went off to eat their lunch. "So bruce," Theresa commented.

"Well, she's not bad," Randy shrugged. "But 30 Seconds to Math will rock even harder than she will!"

"I heard about your concert," Theresa grinned at him politely. "Can't wait to see you play!"

"That's right, we'll be awesome," Howard bragged, cutting into their conversation. "We'll totally rock your socks off. I believe that's even possible."

"Awesome. See you around, Randy!" With that, the teen girl walked away.

Randy waved and sighed dreamily again. Howard scoffed again as they sat down at a table. "Shoob."

"Really, Howard?"

"What? You are."

A few minutes after they sat down, someone came up to them. Randy looked up and was surprised to see Kuno. "Konnichiwa."

"Oh great," Howard muttered. "Again with the Japanese."

"What's up?"

"Would you mind if I sat down with you? There are no available chairs."

"What? That's stupid, there are plenty o—"

Randy quickly nudged him. "Howard, it's just her way of saying she needs our guidance because she doesn't know anyone else!" Kuno only continued to stare blankly.

Howard hesitated, until he slowly broke into a grin. "Ohhh, I seeeee. Well, then, be our guest!"

"Thank you." Kuno sat down across the boys and set down a paper bag.

"You bring a packed lunch?" Randy questioned.

"Hai." Kuno opened it up and brought out a single black can.

"And that's all you're having for lunch?"

"I am, on what you may call, a strict diet." The girl popped it open and took a full swig. The boys could've sworn they saw the liquid was as black as the can. She wiped the base of her mouth with her finger and took one more gulp.

"OK, Howard," Randy whispered to his friend. "Make small talk. Don't seem stupid in front of the new girl."

"Got it."

"Sooo, Kuno!" The girl looked at Randy at the sound of her name. "How are you finding Norrisville High so far?"

Kuno answered like an automatic response. "It is very lively. Everyone here is either refined or connote, intellectual or dim-witted."

"Ugh, we told you!" Howard complained. "No Japanese!"

"Speaking of dim-witted…" Kuno brought a piece of paper out of from her jacket pocket and handed it to Howard. "According to my data yesterday, you are one who does not do their homework, even if you were given second chances. I pulled my information together and printed an essay for you."

"Wait, what?" Randy asked, raising an eyebrow. That certainly was suspicious… "How did you—"

"Yes!" Howard decided not to question it at all and snatched the homework from her hands, quickly scanning it. "This is exactly how I would write this! Thanks, Kuno!"

"What did you put—"

"Not telling ya!"

"If you want to get out of detention, you should really pay attention to your—"

"Yeah, yeah, I get it."

"And I take it you did not even listen to the song I was singing yesterday."

Distracted by what she said, Randy tilted his head at her. "Yeah, you seemed to know the perfect song the people would like."

"Naturally. I am a bit, as you may call, 'glad' there are music fans here, though,"

"Oh, yeah, yeah! There are a lot of music fans here! In fact, in three months' time, there's gonna be a 30 Seconds to Math concert! And yes, we mean us, because we're 30 Seconds to Math."

"Souka…" Kuno muttered. "I take it that this is what you meant the other day when you did not want me to 'take your concert away from you'?"

The two boys looked at each other awkwardly. "We were, uh…a bit panicky to see you yesterday?"

"Hm. Well, I look forward to seeing your 'concert'. I would be honored to help out if I must."

"Yeah, we got it covered," Howard promised proudly. "But maybe if you're so desperate to be a part of this whole thing, we'll consider it."

"You really like music, Kuno?" Randy asked.

"Yes. As I have said, it is my 'hobby'. Music is the one thing that truly sets me free."

"Free? What, you got bad parents or something?"

"You can say. But that aside, I love listening to music. It is the first thing I heard when I was 'born'. I cannot live without it."

"That's nice to know, I guess. But other than music, what else do you live for?"

"Hm. I guess you may say I am a fan of the Ninja."

"Hmph," Howard scoffed. "Who isn't?" Randy rolled his eyes and smiled.

"I think it's good that you're a fangirl. The Ninja would love to meet you."

"Oh, no. I do not just want to meet him. I believe this is different. When I first came to Norrisvile, I made a solemn vow that I would be able to have a good look at him. He apparently sees himself as a hero, but nobody knows who he inside the Ninja suit. I intend to find him."

"Wow!" Randy gasped in pretend enthusiasm and covered nervousness. "Such…determination! Who again did you say you wanted to meet?"

When Kuno looked up at Randy, he almost stepped back when he saw her eyes again. He could've sworn he saw pixels move through those deep eyes. It was as if she was analyzing him. "When I meet the Ninja, I will observe him. I will be the one to identify his identity."

Randy wasn't sure if this was a threat or not.

Just then, at that very moment, a mechanical arm of what looked like a giant robot octopus burst through the cafeteria wall. Everyone stared at it before a brief moment right before they started screaming and running away.

"McFist again," Randy muttered, squinting his eyes.

The robot octopus arm seemed to be feeling around for something. Until it found it. The hand got a good grip around Kuno and started to pull her out of the building. The entire time, the blue-haired teen didn't even flinch.

"Kuno!" Randy shouted.

"You know, I have a feeling she'll be all right," Howard said.

"Not good enough! They're probably after her because she wants to find the Ninja!"

"That doesn't make much sense."

"No time to talk! It's ninja o'clock!"

Outside the school, the robot octopus continued to wreak havoc through the school with its eight robotic tentacle arms. It may have found Kuno but now it sought out for the Ninja. "Where is he?!" McFist, who was watching everything back at the Industries, screamed out. "Your little robot girl needs to identify him now, Viceroy!"

"Patience, Hannibal," the scientist sighed. "Kuno Ichi is high advanced technology. Even if so, knowing who the Ninja is will take time."

"Well, we don't have time!"


"Tasukete," Kuno muttered from the robot's grip. Apparently, the damsel in distress act wasn't her "thing".

"Ninja slice!" A sword suddenly came out of nowhere and slashed right through the robot arm. Kuno was actually surprised when she was finally released and then started to fall.

"Ninja scarf swing!" At the same moment, the Ninja came right in and caught her by the waist. Once they were back on the ground, the Ninja set her down and Kuno stared at her savior's face.

"The Ninja of Norrisville…" she mumbled.

Was it her, or was the Ninja avoiding eye contact. "Yep, yeah, that's me! I'm the Ninja, I saved you, and…yeah."

"Wait," Kuno tried to say, but the Ninja had already gone and went to attack the robot. All the girl could do now was stare some more, wait…and run up to the top of the school.

"All right, McFist," Randy, as the Ninja, murmured. "I don't know what you wanted with Kuno, but I'm still gonna take you down!"

The robo-octo only seemed to grin right back.

"Ninja cold balls!" The balls turned into ice at the floor and started to head for the octopus' direction. It only jumped at the moment the ice neared and activated what looked like its suction cups. It sort of looked like they were made out of McFist's toilet plungers. It landed on the ice, perfectly fine. The octopus just advanced on the Ninja again.

"Aw, great," the Ninja grumbled. "Ninja scarf swing again!"

He used a lamppost to swing behind the octopus. Before the robot could turn around, the Ninja was ready. "OK, Octo, have a taste of my Ninja Tengu Fireball!"

When the fireball was shot, the octopus seemed to be just as prepared. The tentacles didn't just have toilet plungers for suctions cups, because it also spouted ink out. The Tengu Fireball died right down. And to make it worse, the octopus turned back to him.

"What?! Even that you dodge?"

The Octopus held all it's tentacles up, ready to bring them down.

"Ninja dodge, ninja dodge, ninja dodge, ninja dodge, ninja dodge, ninja dodge, and ninja dodge!" He paused for a breath and then realized something. "Wait a minute, I counted seven—"

At the moment of his distraction, the last tentacle grabbed him and wrapped him up in it. The other tentacles came and restrained him as well, leaving him completely vulnerable. The Ninja could barely move, much less get his sword out. "Uh-oh," he said. "So shoobed."

"Forget about knowing the Ninja's identity!" McFist shouted out in glee. "We will destroy him now!"

The octopus opened its mouth, readying a rocket blast directed right at the Ninja. All Randy could do now was stare in horror.

And just at the last minute, something knocked into the octopus' face, delaying its attack. The figure landed on the robot tentacle that held the Ninja, and he stared at who was now his savior.

A certain blue-haired teenager was there, in a ninja-landing pose. She stood up, and Randy realized she was wearing her identical Ninja suit, minus the mask. Plus, Randy then realized the designs on it were dark blue and nothing like the original. Still, he stared in both shock and confusion. "Kuno?" the Ninja questioned. "What are you—"

Before he could finish, the girl lifted her suit sleeve to reveal the red bangle she always wore. But it wasn't just an accessory, it also had a laser hidden inside it. The laser broke through the tentacles and set the Ninja free.

"Whoa!" the Ninja shouted as they landed back on the ground. The robot octopus seemed to gasp at its broken arms. "Wow, you really broke them."

"I leave the rest to you, Ninja," Kuno said, bowing slightly.

"Ninja! Kuno!" The two turned to see Howard running up to them, panting. "Are you crazy, new girl?"

"I think you asked me that once yesterday."

"Whatever! Leave the Ninja-ing to the Ninja, will you?"

"Howard, it's all right, she saved me!"

"How do you two know each other?"

Randy held back a gasp from behind his mask. "Oh, well, uh—"

"Ah, it's all good," Howard interrupted. "He saved me a couple of times before in the past. We're tight now."

"Hm. I see. Not to break the moment, but…" Kuno pointed up at the octopus, who looked even more furious than before.

"Gotcha." The Ninja started to advance back at the octopus, jumping up to perform another attack. "Ninja Air Fist!"

The attack seemed to blind the robot. It coughed and waved at the air fist, giving the Ninja another chance to strike.

"Ninja Rage!"

Fireballs were repeatedly struck at the robot octopus, and this time, it didn't have a chance. In just mere seconds, the robot exploded and its broken parts fell down on the campus like rain.

"Ninja! Ninja! Ninja!" everyone cheered.

"Noooooo!" McFist's screams could almost be heard from all the way to the school. "Viceroy! Your robot girl completely ruined everything!"

The evil scientist only sighed. "It's all according to plan, sir."

"…It is?"

"Not entirely. I wasn't expecting her to break the robot fully. I'll have a talk with her later."

Meanwhile, everyone continued to praise the Ninja. Kuno and Howard ran up to him, where the boy pumped his fist in the air for his friend. "All right, Ninja!"

"Thank you, thank you!" the Ninja waved. Then he spotted Kuno and placed a hand on her shoulder. "Thanks for saving me, by the way."

Kuno was almost sure he was avoiding eye contact again. "It is my pleasure, Ninja." There was now a bit of silence.

"…Sooo…yeah, um, I'm just going to, uh—Smokebomb!"

Once the crowd cleared, Kuno took her bangle again and pressed a button. Just like with the original, Kuno's suit started to unravel from black rope-like structures, shrinking into her jacket, and leaving Kuno back in her normal clothes. "Whoa!" Howard gasped. "It's just like with the normal Ninja su—I mean…yeah, cool, very nice."

Kuno did not seem to notice him falter. "This was designed personally for my needs. I only use the suit for emergencies."

"Well, that's an easy way to carry it around."

The girl turned to see Randy walking up to them. "Hello, Randall. You missed everything. Where have you gone?"

"First off, if you like to be called Kuno, I must ask you call me Randy. Second off, I was just uh—"

"Cunningham always hogs the boys' bathroom whenever the Ninja's around," Howard interrupted again. "He claims it's fun to 'play' around while everyone's watching the Ninja."

"What? I don't—I mean, yeah! I do that…" Randy silently glared at Howard.

Something about this made Kuno widen her eyes a little. There was something in Howard's words she had to think about. But for now, she cast it aside. "Hm. If you say so." There was a bit of silence for a while again.

Howard cleared his throat. "Putting that aside, your moves earlier were still so honking bruce!"

Even Randy grinned. "Yeah! They were the cheese!Are you sure you're not secretly a ninja?"

Instead of replying, Kuno stared at them. "…Bruce? Cheese?"


"How does the topic of my fighting refer to a name of a person and those of food?"

The two boys could only stare at her. "I'm gonna be honest with you," Howard put in. "I have no idea what you mean."

"Bruce and cheese are just how we express ourselves," Randy explained awkwardly. "You know! When we really like something… 'That's so bruce!' or 'that's the cheese!' You know!"

Kuno blinked at them numerous times. "…I think I see now. 'That was so bruce'. "

"There, you see? Doesn't it sound great to say?"

"Hm." Apparently, she wasn't so sure. "Well. We better get back to class."

At that very moment, the bell rang.

"Huh," Randy said. "Looks like we do have to get back to class."

"And it's English next!" Howard cheered. "Oho, Mr. Bannister is gonna freak when he sees the essay I wrote!"

"You mean the essay Kuno wrote."

"Shhh, Cunningham, not on campus!"

Randy chuckled as they started to walk away. But then he stopped when he saw Kuno staring down at the octopus' mechanical parts. He then frowned at her lonely figure.

"Hey, Kuno," The girl turned at the sound of her name. Randy managed a smile at her. "You're all right. Wanna hang out with us sometimes?"

The girl only blinked at him. "I do not understand what your term 'hanging out' means…but it sounds exceptional. I say yes to your question."

The two boys stared at her and looked at each other. "Her words are confusing, but I'll take it," Howard shrugged. They then smiled as Kuno walked over to them.

"At least with her around, we have someone to help with homework!" The three walked back inside, with the two boys all smiles and laughs.

Somewhere deep in her mechanical heart, Kuno smiled.

That night on the way home, Kuno was welcomed with a very furious McFist.

"There you are!" he shrieked. "Care to explain what happened earlier?!"

"Master McFist," Kuno started. "My apologies, but I am not programmed to tell you anything."


The scientist only smirked as he started the computer. "Lay down, Kuno."

As they performed their usual routine, Viceroy walked up to the robot girl. "Why did you do that, girl? We made it perfectly clear about your mission for the day."

"Forgive me, Master. I simply thought it would be better if they truly believed I was on their side. Destroying the robot was the only way to do that. And frankly, I was not the one who completely destroyed it."

"Ooh!" McFist grinned. "She has spunk!"

Viceroy hesitated as he stared up at the girl. "…OK. But just in case, I want a look at your heart monitor."

Kuno unzipped her jacket to reveal her built-in shirt. If this was ever noticed in school, then they would know she was a robot. The robot girl pressed a hand over her heart and a small panel door opened up. Behind her chest was a heart-shaped piece of metal, that beat mechanical beats like a normal heart did.

A smaller, mechanical arm connected itself to the center of the heart and Viceroy typed away on his computer. "Hmmm…" He examined the results, and Kuno's "emotions" before turning back to her. "I guess you are forgiven. But your data also tells me you have a plan?"

"Yes, Master. I humbly request that you do not attack Norrisville High for a while."

"WHAT?!" McFist exploded.

"And why is that, Kuno?"

"I would like to conduct an experiment. I would like to examine the students of Norrisville High and see who would most likely be the Ninja. I believe if I continue to be a normal student, I will know for sure."

"That makes zero sense!" McFist shouted.

"No, it does have a bit of reason behind it," Viceroy mused. "And besides. I'll be able to get a vacation from making my brilliant plans."

"MY brilliant plans!"

"I will not fail you, Master," Kuno promised.

"I know you won't, child." Viceroy turned his computer off and the mechanical arm disconnected. "Now, time to get some sleep! You have many days ahead of you."


As the system shut down, Kuno's mechanical eyes seemed to shutter down as well. The pixels danced across her pupils, as she prepared for logging out. Then her eyes went dim and she shut her eyelids.

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