Heart of Metal, Beats Like Gold

You...

Naturally after that little event, Kuno went experimental mode.

The next couple of weeks, the robot girl watched Randy and Theresa whenever they talked to each other. It was a long time, and Kuno was still looking for the Ninja's identity. But she had been observing the two as well. Which made Randy uncomfortable, since he couldn't even tell what she was planning.

Aside from that, 30 Seconds to Math focused on their big concert. The past few weeks, they prepared for it together and had all their songs planned. Randy, Howard, and Kuno worked as a real team and practiced (almost) everyday to pull the whole thing off. Kuno barely had time for her own performances. Despite them all being busy, they still had fun. And just like before, Randy and Howard managed to keep the Ninja secret from the robot. She never suspected a thing. She couldn't.

It was now exactly three days before the concert. The area was ready, everyone was sure to come, and it didn't appear that there would be any more disturbances from McFist or the Sorcerer any time soon. But Randy decided to take a schloomp into his 800-year old book of wisdom.

"All right, Nomicool," the purple-haired teen called out. This time, he was standing by a mountain. He look upwards towards the sky, his back turned away. "What have you got today?"

The book suddenly glowed and Randy felt the ground shaking. He slowly turned around and gasped to see a giant boulder rolling down towards him in high speed. There would be no time for him to move away, so Randy braced for impact.

Luckily, the boulder never came as it suddenly hit a rock on the ground and went flying. It landed just before the boy and glowed as words formed on it.

"The Ninja that can't see might end up getting hurt," he read aloud. "Nomicon, you told me the same thing three months ago!" The rock glowed in response. "This is probably about Kin again, huh? It's been three months, if she was gonna hurt me, she probably would have done so by now." The Nomicon glowed angrily. "All right, all right, whatever you say. I don't understand, but…"

A tiny pebble came out of nowhere and hit him on the back of his head.

"Augh!"


"Gah!"

Randy coughed when he felt a gallon of water being dumped over his head. He glared up at Howard, who was holding an empty bucket, but the chubby boy only looked back down on him. "Well, Cunningham, if you're done with your little nap, maybe you could, I dunno, try helping out now?"

The trio were at the concert area, as usual, again, just putting the finishing touches on their stage. Kuno was up above, hanging the backdrop with their band name on it. Randy quickly hid the Nomicon before she could see.

"I was just consulting the book. A few minutes didn't hurt, right?"

"Yeah, whatever, just hang up the streamers."

"Howard, bro. There is nothing to worry about!"

"I'm not."

"This concert will be the cheese. We know it's going to!"

"I'm not, I'm just asking you to honking hang the—"

"Randy!" a female's voice called.

"Hi, Theresa!" As the purple-haired boy walked away, Howard facepalmed.

"Wow!" Theresa grinned as she looked around the area. "This placed looks so bruce! You guys did a really good job on it."

"Well, we did have some help from you." Randy said. "A-And everyone else, but yeah!"

Theresa beamed. "Glad to help! But um…can I talk to you…alone?"

Randy almost blushed as soon as she said that. "Alone? Yeah, sure! What um…what do you—"

"I have experienced this before."

The two gasped when Kuno had swung down from the upper stage and landed right between them. She eyed Randy blankly. "It is in my data, but I have not actually seen it in real life." She then turned to Theresa. "You were about to ask him on a date, yes?"

At those words, both of them went red. "Kiiin," Randy whined. "What the juice?"

"Date?" Theresa chuckled nervously, turning away and twirling her hair around her finger. "What, no, um…that's ridiculous—"

"I have heard it is supposedly the boy who will ask the girl. This is most certainly amusing."

"OK, back to fixing the backdrop!"

"It is fixed. And it is normal for two teens at your age to embarrassed about such mentioning. But deep down, do you not want it to happen?"

"Me and Theresa on a date? Kin—"

"I can provide the time and event. Tonight at the park seems like a good location."

"Are you losing your cheese right now?"

"I do not have any cheese."

"It's nice of you to think so and all, b-but I'm pretty s-sure we will be busy, r-right Theresa?"

The short-haired girl actually smiled bashfully. "Actually, I wouldn't mind…" Randy also blushed at that. "What about you?"

The teen boy hesitated, rubbing the back of his head and avoiding eye contact. "W-Well…I did tell Howard to stop going wonk over the concert…" It wasn't technically a no.

"It is confirmed," Kuno said. "I will provide everything and give you instructions. Tonight, you must prepare."

"Oh, Kin you really don't have t—"

"No. This will be a part of my research. I insist that I must participate."

"We're not an experiment!"

"You definitely act like you do."

This caused Theresa to laugh at both of them. Randy found himself drawn to her voice. "Can't understand the things you're saying yet Kuno, but I like it. See you guys! Bye, Randy!" Then, she took off again.

"Kin, what was that about?" Randy asked, rather calmly.

"Did you not want this to happen?" Kuno asked innocently.

"No—I mean yes—what are you up to."

"I do not think I am 'up to' anything."

"Then why did you set up a date with Theresa?"

Kuno shrugged. "I wanted to do something for a friend. And friends help each other. And we are friends, are we not?"

Randy blinked at the robot girl numerous times. Then he shook his head and smiled. "Uh, yeah! Yeah…" He had nothing else to say.

"Hey shoobs!" Howard called from afar. "If all you two are gonna do is stand around and chat, then I suggest you—"

He didn't get to finish his sentence. There was a loud boom and the sound of people gasping and shouting. "What was that?" Kuno asked. Randy knew it could only mean one thing.

"It's ninja time," he muttered to himself.

"Come on, Kin!" Howard said immediately, dragging her. "Let's go check it out!"

"I'll just finish things up in here!" Randy excused. "I'll catch up in a bit."

As usual, Kuno was confused and slightly suspicious. But Howard pushed her away before she could say anything again.

It was another robot again. This time, it was another one of Viceroy's robo-spiders. There were about a dozen of them, wrecking the school again. Everyone was screaming (as usual), but Howard and Kuno awaited for the Ninja to arrive.

"Smokebomb!"

The Ninja stood before the spiders, as they all turned to him and snarled. They prepared and charged at him.

"Ninja rings!" The weapons managed to hit some of the robots, destroying most of their legs and causing them to fall. "Break a leg! Or maybe eight of them."

Somewhere in the courtyard, Bucky Hensletter laughed. "Robo-spider zing!"

Some of the robots managed to survive, and lunged for the Ninja. "Oh cheese," He didn't get a chance to do anything as the spiders knocked him down.

As they rolled, the Ninja landed on the ground first and kicked a spider off of him. "Hah!" The spider went flying and suddenly landed right before two certain people.

"Whoa-oh," Howard said. "Come on, Kin!"

But for a split seconds, the robot spider seemed to scan Kuno with its beady little mechanical eyes. Once it got a clear result, it took Kuno by the waist and started taking her away.

"…Nani?"

"Kin!" Howard gasped. "Hey, robot, let go of my friend! (Who is also technically a robot…)"

Howard took Kuno's hand and pulled, but even that wasn't enough. The spider used its other leg and swatted the chubby boy away. He went flying backwards and landed into the school wall. Kuno's pixel eyes widened. "Howard?"

"Ninja!" the boy managed to croak out.

Randy as the Ninja turned away from slicing some spiders and his eyes widened. "Guys?"

At first, Kuno thought they would be easy to beat. She tricked kicking the spider away but it had seven extra legs to restrain her. When she tried to use her laser, her wrists were held away from each other and they couldn't break free. Kuno was completely vulnerable.

"Tasukete." This time, her voice was sincere.

"Kin!" The Ninja sprang into action and kicked the robo-spider away. It didn't budge as it back up, and continued to cling onto Kuno. It hissed, and lasers came out of its eyes. The Ninja yelped and barely dodged them all.

"Whoa! Didn't think you guys got an upgrade! Ninja electro balls!"

The robo-spider hissed again as the electricity hit its eyes, blinding it. Randy saw the chance and brought his sword out. "Ninja slice!"

The legs were cut again and Kuno was free. She quickly moved away, kicking the spider, and turned to the Ninja as she bowed in respect. "Arigatou gozaimasu, Ninja."

"Are you all right?"

"Daijoubu. They did not hurt me."

Randy sighed in relief behind the mask. "Look, Kin, I really appreciate your help, but I got it all under control! Really, there's no reason to get yourself hurt because of me."

Kuno only blinked at him. "No, Ninja, I want to be able to—" She suddenly stopped when she realized something. "…Did you just call me Kin?"

'Oh, shoob,' Randy thought. 'Not again!' "Well, um…isn't that your nickname?"

"Only Randy, Howard, and possibly Theresa know my nickname…" Kuno's eyes began computing again. "Unless…you're—"

"Kin!" As if on cue, Howard had recovered and ran up to her. "Great, you're alive! Thanks for saving her, Ninja, come on Kin!" As the two ran off, Randy sighed again.

"Great. One more problem to deal with. Me and my big mouth, why can't I just keep silent?!"

Suddenly, he realized the other spiders were trying to retreat. "Hey! I'm not done with you yet! Ninja slice!"

Once the spiders were out, cheers and praises and all that, Randy went back to Howard and Kuno, who seemed to be at the janitor's closet. Unfortunately, the same thing from before happened yet again.

"You erased her memory again?!" he exclaimed, shocked.

"I had to!" Howard protested. "She was onto you again! And it's your own fault! You promised you wouldn't slip up again!"

"I was worried! I didn't mean to say her nickname!"

"You have to be more careful around her next time, Cunningham!"

"I can't help it! Why does she want to find the Ninja's identity so badly anyway?"

"You can't blame anyone for wanting to! Look, just promise I won't have to do this again."

"…Shouldn't you be promising me?"

"Swear it!"

"OK, OK! Cheese, she's really gonna kill us when she finds out about all this…"

"Ah, well, she won't. Now let's start her up again. She's still gonna get you ready for your date."

"Oh, that you remember? I'm guessing you didn't erase that from her memory."

"Ha, are you kidding? Of course I didn't."


As usual, Kuno didn't suspect a thing. She just went on with the day preparing for "Randy's Big Moment" He still had no idea what she was up to, and Howard threatened to check. But Randy stopped him. "I want to keep the secret a secret," he had mumbled.

Howard just scoffed. "Hmph. Killjoy."

That night, Kuno had prepared a suit for the teen boy and was helping him get ready. Randy was clearly confused.

"Why am I dressing up? I thought we were just going to the park."

"You are," Kuno said as she straightened his tie. "But this is a date. I have told Theresa to do the same anyway." Once she was good to go, Kuno took a piece of paper out of her open. "Do not open it until you have arrived. I will tell you what to do."

"Wow," Randy commented as he took the paper. "You really thought of everything."

"Naturally. Also, I do not want you bringing any other belongings with you. You must not be distracted in an event as important as this."

"Well, sure. But can I bring my—"

"No."

"But how about—"

"No."

"But—"

"No."

"You didn't even know what I was going to say!"

"I did not need to. The time now is 6:47 pm. If you leave now, you will be sure to arrive at exactly 7:00. Your curfew is 10:00 sharp. Your mother expects you back before then."

"Geez, Kin, you're seriously serious about this."

"You must leave now."

"Already?"

"Leave."

"Wait, but—"

"Now."

Before Randy knew it, Kuno was pushing him out the door. "All right, all right, I'm going!"

As they left, something glowed in Randy satchel. The Ninja Nomicon seemed very angry.


Randy waited at the park entrance for Theresa. He kept checking his watch and tapping his foot. It was not that he was impatient. In fact, he was nervous. This was his first date ever and it was with a girl he liked. What's worse was that his robot friend planned it all…

But deep inside his heart, he felt slightly confident.

"Hey, Randy." The purple-haired teen whirled around and saw Theresa. She was wearing the dress she'd worn for the Night Under the Stars Dance, but for some reason, Randy thought she looked even more beautiful now. When she smiled, he thought it was enough to brighten up the whole night. He could only stare at her in amazement.

"Hey, Theresa," he managed, a grin forming on his face. "You, uh…look bruce."

The short-haired girl giggled at that. "Thanks. You look bruce too."

There was a bit of awkward silence. The two just kept staring and looking away from each other. The moonlight continued to shine upon them. Whenever Randy looked at Theresa, he just mentally slapped himself for still not saying anything at that point.

So he did. "So…shall we?"

The girl blinked for a while before smiling. "We shall."

The park was surprisingly empty that night. Sure, there were people already in their houses sleeping, but it was as if the animals had decided to leave and do as well. Randy kept opening and closing his mouth, unable to say anything again. Theresa didn't speak either.

'Come on, Cunningham, you can do this.'

Mustering his strength, he managed a "Sorry if Kin probably forced you into this."

Luckily, Theresa merely laughed. "It's all right. Like I said, I don't mid being here."

"Really?"

"Yeah…I mean, I do like you."

"Is that something you're supposed to say in the beginning of a date?"

"Is mentioning the person that set it up also a conversation starter?"

"Hmm…well played Fowler."

Then the two just burst out laughing at each other. Randy felt his heart beating madly in his chest. "I guess we both failed at First Dating 101."

"To be honest, I'm glad that Kuno started all this. When I saw her with you and Howard the first time, I was jealous."

Randy had to laugh again at that. "Seriously? Kin and I are just friends, really. Howard and I actually hated her at first."

"Huh…well, not all friendships start out that good. I guess I can relate."

"Why, who'd you dislike?"

"Der Monster Klub, is one example. I thought they were creepy, but once I realized we all had something in common, they let me into the group."

"Cool, cool. What about you and Kang?"

"Debbie? We go way back, almost as long as you and Howard. Speaking of the two, I wonder why they haven't gone together yet…"

Once again, the purple-haired boy just burst out laughing. "Really? Howard and Debbie? Together? Yeah, and I'm Hannibal McFist."

"Hey! It's a possibility! Our best friends deserve love. And if it's with each other, I actually wouldn't mind."

"Yeah, I guess I wouldn't either…maybe we should get Kind to put them on a date."

"Speaking of Kuno, where did she even plan ours?"

"Oh, almost forgot! She gave me instructions to follow or something." Randy brought the piece of paper he'd bee n given earlier and read the words aloud. "'Keep heading straight until you find the surprise'. What the juice? That doesn't—"

"Randy, look!"

Theresa suddenly pointed at something and the boy gasped at what he saw. Up on top of a small hill was a beautiful pavilion he had never seen before. It was marble white, had a picturesque engraved roof, and was standing right behind the park lake for a moonlight view. There was a clothed table for two waiting for them as they climbed up the stone steps. The couple gazed in awe at the meticulous designs covering the scenic structure.

"This is amazing," Theresa gasped, fingering a column. "How did Kuno…"

Randy suddenly saw a little note attached to one of the chairs and read it: "I have my ways."

"Yep. That's our Kin."

The teen boy pulled a chair back for Theresa, who smiled thankfully at him. The candelabra flickered before there, and Randy looked around confused.

"So…what now?"

"There's something under the table!"

Theresa then brought out a white, wide flat box from underneath. Randy's eyes widened slightly as they opened it up. "Pizza!"

There was another note on it and Randy read again: "Bon appetit."

"She really thought of everything," Theresa grinned.

Randy couldn't help smiling as well. "Yeah…she did."


Back at Randy's house, Kuno was bored. It was impossible for a robot to get bored but she was. Kuno was checking her heart scales and memory bank as she waited for the two to return. There were problems in her system that she couldn't seem to figure out what. She just went and decided to clean the room.

As she was putting some books away, she saw a glow from the corner of her eye. "…Nani?"

The glow was coming from Randy's satchel. 'That's right,' Kuno remembered. 'I made Randy leave his things.'

Curiosity killed the robot. She walked up to the satchel and rummaged through it, as she brought out the first thing she laid her hand on.

That thing just happened to be the Ninja Nomicon.

"…Nan desu ka?" The moment she held the book, the glow grew brighter. It was as if it was furious.

Suddenly, the book started to open and flip through the pages on its own. This caused Kuno confusion, but she didn't get to think for long. The pixels in her eyes suddenly rolled to the back of her head, and she blacked out.


Kuno felt her mechanical soul being sucked into the book. She didn't know how it was possible, but her mechanical consciousness was completely inside the eight-century year old pages. She was falling downwards, wondering what was happening, when she looked and saw the forest below her. She managed to land onto the ground perfectly fine.

"Watashi wa doko desu ka…?" she said aloud. The sky glowed red in response. Kuno only understood slightly.

"Anata wa…nani shiteru?" This time, Japanese letters floated in front of her. Kuno understood it well.

I am the Ninja Nomicon.

"Ninja…" The explanation was brief, but Kuno got exactly one word out of it. "Do you know Randy?" The sky glowed again. "So…he is the—"

Nomicon interrupted again by showing English words this time. It was just like when Randy was talking to it, and Kuno read aloud. "'Sacrifices must be made to save the ones you love.'" This made the robot girl frown. "Eh? Wakarimase—"

She didn't even get to finish. She felt another presence behind her and quickly moved away. Her eyes widened slightly when she saw a samurai had attempted to stab her in the back with its sword. She moved back some more, and found three more had started to surround her as well. What's worse was that the doodle ninjas and paper dragons had started to appear. The entire Nomicon was ganging up on her.

This was too much for the robot to handle, so she did the next best thing. She turned around and ran.

The doodle ninjas tried chasing after her, as they threw their shurikens and ninja rings. Kuno dodged them all, but she was still confused. A dragon roared and blasted fire at her. Kuno barely survived and had to jump up to avoid that attack completely.

"Souka…" she mused, continuing to run. "So it is I who must be the sacrifice."


"And she just completely caught the ball with her hand! Bash was all like, whaaaat, and Kin was all like, You're out! We were friends ever since."

Theresa laughed as Randy told his tale. "Well, that's one way to gain a friendship!"

Hours have passed. Randy and Theresa found themselves actually enjoying their date night. They barely paid attention to what was happening around them. The moonlight was growing brighter, the pizza slices slowly shortening. Yet, they still had the energy, and their laughs filled the park. They just enjoyed the time they had with each other.

Theresa was still laughing at his stories later on as she wiped her eye. "OK, wow! Seriously, Spanish isn't that hard! You don't need a hypnotizing tape to learn it."

"Easy for you to say! We're just lucky Senora gave us a second chance. We're pretty much gonna shoob it up again, though."

"Aw, I think you'll do fine!"

"You're just saying that! We shoob everything up."

"You didn't shoob up tonight."

Once he realized she made a comment, he blushed. "Really? G-Glad to know!"

Theresa smiled and leaned forward slightly, fumbling with her fingers. "I'm really having fun, Randy. I'm glad I'm getting to know you more…I'm glad I'm here at the park with you, which is something I never thought would ever happen."

"Me too, Theresa," Randy found himself saying, as he reached out and placed his hand over hers. The shorthaired girl blinked and blushed a bit. When Randy realized this, he quickly pulled away and rubbed the back of his neck.

"Oh, hey, um…it's getting a little late. I think we need to get home before our parents kill us."

Theresa chuckled. "Yeah, I guess you're right."

"Do you…want me to walk you home?"

The girl looked at him (almost like she was mini fangirling inside) and nodded almost quickly. "Yes! I mean…sure, that sounds good." Randy almost grinned to himself.

They made sure to pack the table away before leaving the pavilion. "Kuno would eventually be able to fix everything tomorrow," Randy assured. "Let's go before security finds us or something."

"Heh. Sure."

Randy looked down and glanced at her hand. It was just there by her side and his own hand itched to reach for it. So he did and gently held it. Theresa was slightly surprised, and now she was blushing harder than before. But the two were still smiling.

They were just silent this time on the way to Theresa's house. Looks like they ran out of things to talk about. They could only relish the last moments they had with each other that night. Once they reached their destination, Randy didn't seem to want to let go.

"Well," the girl started, reluctantly pulling away. "Looks like it's good night for me." When she smiled, Randy felt his heart melting.

"Good night, Theresa. See you at school?"

"Of course."

With those final words, she reached over and quickly kissed him on the cheek. She grinned, quickly walked up to her door, waved goodbye one last time, and entered her house, leaving Randy outside in the night.

He almost wasn't completely there. He just stood, with a wide-eyed look on his face as he stared at Theresa's door. He blinked numerous times as he thought about just now. 'Did that really just happen?' he thought. His face was instinctively breaking into a smile, and he couldn't help praising the sky.

Yes, Randy, it did.


Once Randy arrived in his room, he was sighing dreamily. The night was just perfect. He went out with the girl of his dreams, and they enjoyed it. As he took his shoes off and lay down on his bunk bed, he couldn't help thinking of replaying every single moment in his head. And there was one person responsible for it all.

"Kin," he called out, not looking down. "Tonight was bruce. We really had a great time. I just wanted to say thanks a lot for it, I probably wouldn't have been able to talk to Theresa myself if it wasn't for you. Seriously, thanks. You're a true friend, you know that? And also, I just wanted to say—wait, why aren't you responding?"

When Randy finally looked down, he gasped. The Nomicon was open, and Kuno's head was laid on it. Her eyes were closed, as if she had decided to shut down on it. But Randy knew better.

"Oh, cheese," he muttered, getting off. "Oh cheese oh cheese oh cheese."

He quickly picked the book up and slightly panicked as he shook it. "Nomicon, what the juice?! Is Kin in there? What's happening? Please tell me you're not…"

He quickly opened it, and his consciousness was sucked in.

"Augh!"


When Randy opened his eyes, he gasped. He was on top of a small hill, and he could see the action from there. Until now, there were still Nomicon characters attacking the robot girl. From there, Randy could see her slightly confused expression as she attempted to fight them all off. She was barely surviving the fight.

"Kin, I'm coming!"

Randy slid down the hill and raced towards the action. Once he arrived, he saw a paper dragon swiping its claws at the robot. She jumped back, but ended up getting caught in samruai arms. She punched through their paper chests and caught sight of the purple-haired boy.

"Randall Cunningham," she said, rather lowly. "You owe me an explanation."

"Kin, watch out!"

The robot quickly turned when she saw a doodle ninja attempt to slice her head off. She did a little backflip and ended up at the boy's side.

"Nomicon!" Randy shouted out. "Come on! Schloomp us out!"

But the book wouldn't budge. The samurais had combined their swords to form one giant attack sent at them. Kuno's eyes were widened, unable to dodge this one.

"Ninja Earth Attack!" A giant dirt wall shot upwards, blocking the swords, as they clattered to the ground. "Nomicon!" Randy shouted louder this time. "Come on! Schloomp us out!"

The characters were glaring, specifically at Kuno, but the entire book glowed red, and the two felt their consciousness slipping away.


Randy gasped as he bolted upright from the book and immediately turned to Kuno. "Kin, are you all right?"

The robot girl blinked numerous times, as the gears in her head turned and she was booting up. Once she was turned on again, she slowly sat up and looked at Randy. "What was that?"

"Kin, I'm so sorry, I—"

"Ima nanji desu ka."

"…What?"

"What time is it."

"Um…10:12?" He didn't know why she was asking. Didn't she always knew the time?

"That is correct, Randall Cunningham. I was in there for three whole hours."

Randy frowned. He did not like the tone of her voice. "Kin, please listen."

"You're the Ninja. You were the Ninja this whole time, and you never told me."

"I couldn't! Nomicon said the Ninja can never tell his identity! You know that!"

"Then how is it that Howard knows."

"That's…how do you know Howard knows?"

"After analyzing my memories, it has become clear to me. And you are best friends, I should have known you would tell him. That rules me out, then…"

"Kin, I wanted to tell you, but you were just too curious! You knew too much. We couldn't let you know, your memories probably couldn't handle it, let's just say we were doing you a favor."

"That is not…" She suddenly paused, a sudden thought coming to her head. "…Randy…is it possible that you were interfering with my memory bank."

"See?! You know too much, this is obviously—I mean…n-no…we're…just…"

"It all makes sense now…" It looks like the mystery of her system problems were solved.

Kuno had her head down, as she stared at the Nomicon on the floor, but Randy could see her face. It was an expression of sadness. An expression he'd never seen on Kuno. The very fact made him frown more. "Kin—"

"You have never trusted me. You messed with my memories. And now you had your book try to kill me."

"I didn't…I had no idea the Nomicon was trying to do that!"

Kuno stood up slowly, looking at Randy as she backed away slowly. Her expression was now blanker than ever. "You used me."

"Kin..."

"My name is Kuno." The very words shattered the heart in his chest.

Before he knew it, Kuno had turned around and left the room. "Kin! Kuno!" He tried catching up to her, wanting to explain, but the robot girl was faster. She managed to exit the house and slam the door shut. Randy opened it again, and frantically looked around his neighborhood. But there was nothing. The moonlight continued to shine brightly upon him.

Kuno Ichi was gone.


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