'I can't go back. I can't go back. I don't want to go back.'
Kuno just kept repeating these words in her head. She just kept running and running away from Randy's house. It's not like she thought she had anywhere else to get to…
But fate brought her to the next place she could think of. The blue-haired girl lifted her head to find that she was standing before the McFist Industries building. Immediately, she remembered her creator's words:
"I do not want you to come back until you have the Ninja's identity!"
This disheartened her. She really had no other option then. Technically, she did know who the Ninja was and it was clearly obvious it was Randy.
Oh, Randy. Kuno bit her lip and hesitated before going inside. Yes, Randy was her friend, but was he really? He never trusted her enough to tell her he was the Ninja. Then again, he didn't know her long. But still, why didn't he tell her? He couldn't have possibly known she was working for McFist, did he? Kuno could never know now…
But it was time to do her job.
When she went through the secret entrance, Otto immediately greeted her. This made the girl smile inside, for she knew she hasn't seen her robot friend in a while. Otto chirped and nuzzled up against her and she had to push him back. "It's nice to see you again too, Otto."
"Where have you been?!"
Kuno instantly flinched. Otto cowered a bit and flew backwards, as Viceroy came into the picture. His hands were on his hips and was glaring at Kuno like she was a piece of scum at the bottom of his shoe. The girl stood straight and regained composure, but even for a robot, inside she felt terrified.
"Master. I am home."
"Do you have any idea how worried I was?! You were gone for weeks! You could've gotten destroyed! I couldn't track you! What have you been doing?!"
Kuno felt herself quivering, an action she never thought she'd do. It felt weird. "I am sincerely sorry, Master," she said, bowing her head apologetically. "I promise, Master…it will never happen again."
"I'm sorry too, Kuno. Because I don't trust you enough now to know you're genuine about that." The robot didn't respond. "But, routines are routines. Up on the table. Now."
Kuno nodded reluctantly and did as he asked. The mechanical arms she'd come to recognize appeared again and restrained her in. The scientist typed away on his computer and his eyes lit up. "Oh, I see you brought something back for me."
The robot girl nodded briefly. "Yes, Master. It is a very important piece of information."
"Interesting…well done, Kuno. I'll read it immediately."
This was it. Viceroy would finally get the information he needed. And he'd pass it on to McFist, who would get the reward he (not really) deserved. The robot's purpose was fulfilled.
But it must've been something else because Kuno hesitated. She didn't feel like giving Viceroy the memory file. She couldn't. Kuno was almost completely sure it wasn't a glitch restraining her, but true personal reasons. That file contained her best friend's secret. Sure, it was the best friend that didn't trust her. But the friend that made her this way in the first place. Randy would be dead if McFist knew. And the robot girl was sure now she wanted to protect that friend. Even if it meant going against her command.
Right when Viceroy was about to click it, Kuno used her robotic strength to reach up and rip the mechanical arm away from her. Viceroy whirled around but he was too late. The robot girl jumped off of the table, the wires disconnecting and the computer screens blacking out. Viceroy only bit his lip, as if anticipating this would happen.
"My apologies, Master. But I am afraid I cannot let you touch that file." Kuno ripped the wire that connected from her heart panel and the last computer screen died down. Viceroy huffed.
"You're being very disrespectful, Kuno. Those past three weeks have been a bad influence on you. Back on the table."
"Kuno Ichi, I command you to do as I say!"
"No, Master. I cannot serve you anymore." The tone of her voice was never so sure.
Viceroy squinted his eyes at her, trying to remain composition. He slowly reached into his pocket, still staring. "I do not know what happened to you while you were gone…but it was obviously a bad idea to ever trust you to go off alone."
Without warning, he brought out a small remote from the pocket of his lab coat. Once he pressed it, another mechanical arm came out of nowhere. Kuno barely saw it coming again. It was bigger and much faster than the ones she ever dealt with, and it just took her up and slammed her against the wall. The robot girl tried to struggle from its grasp, but bigger meant much stronger. Viceroy walked up to her slowly, as if examining her all over again. He opened her heart panel and connected a wire. A computer whirred to life, and the scientist typed away.
"I'm sorry, Kuno. But you are my creation, and you must suffer the consequences."
"Release me," the robot said. She was trying to sound stern, while trying to stay calm, but it was getting harder to even stay composed now.
The scientist didn't even hear her. As he typed, there was one file on the computer that Kuno was able to see from there. Her eyes slightly widened when she read the words: "Memories"
"This folder is damaged," he noticed, turning to her. "You were trying to hide something from me, weren't you?" Kuno didn't reply. "It must be the information of the Ninja…two months of waiting for nothing." Viceroy bit his lip, seeming angry, and went back to the screen, typing away furiously. "We have to start all over again."
Kuno did not know what that meant. But she didn't like it all. All she could do was stare.
"I'm such a shoob," Randy muttered. He held his head in his hands as he and Howard were sitting at some stairs at school. After the purple-haired teen's little mishap with Kuno, he told Howard all about it. The two searched for the robot girl for days. But one full week later, they got nothing. Howard frowned, as Randy just continued to blame himself. He kept saying things like it'd be all right, but he wasn't fooling anyone. To make things worse, it was now three days left before their concert. They could probably go on without Kuno, but it wouldn't be the same.
"Look, Kin wouldn't abandon us," Howard tried. "I mean, even if she knows we lied to her, there's no way she would leave us hanging, right?" At that, Randy slowly lifted his head and just deadpanned at him. The boy threw his hands up in the air. "OK, fine, so she hates us! But what can we do? I say it was her fault. If she hadn't wanted to know about the Ninja, then all this would probably never have happened."
"Howard, we can't just blame Kin for all that. She's just like everyone else. Excluding the fact she's made of metal. And she's our friend. I just want to find her."
"Man, I do too, but like I said. There's nothing we can do about that. We're not her creators. She wouldn't tell us anything about herself either."
The purple-haired teen sighed. "I know…"
"…Hey, let's focus on the bright side! We don't have to hear her talk all smart."
Randy just stared at him blankly again. Howard was horrible at making things better.
"Hi, Randy. Hi, Howard," The two teens then looked up to see who it was. Randy managed a big smile when he saw a certain, purple-haired girl.
"Hey! Theresa! Nice to see you today,"
Ever since their little date, the two have been much more comfortable around each other than before. Randy rarely stuttered around her now, so that must be some sort of achievement. They were closer, almost like best friends, and slowly graduating their relationship into something more.
"'Sup, Fowler," Howard greeted.
"I saw you guys from way over there," Theresa said, a little concern in her voice. "You seemed pretty upset."
"Yeah," Randy admitted. "We were just talking…"
"Buuut, it's all good now!" Howard lied. "It was just, uh…a 30 Seconds to Math problem."
"Your concert's in three days. What else could go wrong?"
"Well, to be honest…" Randy sighed. "Kuno has been missing for a week now, and we're worried she won't come back 'til then…it's a big crisis for our band."
Theresa's face twisted into one of confusion. "But…Kuno is right there."
"Say what now."
She pointed, and the boys turned to the entrance to see a certain blue-haired girl. Kuno Ichi was walking into the school, her bag slung across her shoulder, and the usual blank expression on her face. She didn't turn towards the three's direction, and just walked straight to the hallway of her locker. All Randy and Howard could do was stare, mouths agape, as they watched their friend walk away.
"I thought she'd do a guitar performance today," Theresa continued. "Guess not. Weird, it's like she didn't even see you guys."
"W-Well, look at that!" Randy said in a high-tone, trying for a smile. "She's back! Look, Howard, isn't that great?"
"Uhhh…" The Weinerman had no response.
"Guess the band's really all good now! Say, Theresa, why don't we go ahead and we'll catch up with you at chemistry class. OK? OK, bye!" Without even waiting for her reply, the purple-haired teen took his best friend and they dashed toward Kuno's direction.
"She came back?" Howard finally managed to shout. "I mean, it's great she's all right, but why didn't she honking tell us?!"
"She's probably still mad," Randy said, voice slightly soft. "There she is!"
Kuno was just taking some books out of her locker. She seemed even more expressionless than usual, if that was even possible. Just ten meters away from her, Kuno already turned to see the boys go up to her. The robot girl blinked when she saw them. She didn't even say a thing when they smiled awkwardly.
"K-Kin—I mean, Kuno!" Randy started, faltering a bit. "Thank cheese you're OK, I thought you would never come back!"
"Not me, I had faith," Howard added quickly.
"Kuno, I'm so sorry about what happened last week, I really meant to tell you! B-But, you must have come to your senses by now, so can we all just forget about everything that happened and stay bruce?" He tried for a smile.
"Come on, Kuno Ichi, we have a concert in three days, say yes."
But the robot didn't even respond. She was just staring at them, the tiniest hint of confusion in her blank brown eyes. She looked from Randy to Howard, back and forth, as if trying to process what was happening. The boys exchanged a little look, just as confused. Finally, the girl took a small intake of air, though it wasn't needed, and looked at them emptily. "Who are you two?"
At first, they thought she was joking. As she stared at them, they could only stare back. Randy was the first to break the unnerving silence. "T-That's very funny, Kuno…seriously, stop it."
"I apologize," Even the tone of her voice wasn't helping her expression. "I am afraid I have never seen you before. You must be talking to the wrong person."
"Come on, Kuno Ichi," Howard said, a little threateningly. "We're not that stupid. The three of us are best friends! We're part of band!" Still nothing. "We know your secret obsession about finding out who the Ninja is! We're the only ones that know you are a robot!"
For a moment, worry crossed the robot's eyes. "How do you know that?"
"Like we said! We're best friends! Don't tell me you got your memory bank erased!"
Suddenly, a sudden realization came to Randy's mind. He thought about what Howard said for a while, like the truth just punched him in the face. But Kuno still didn't see it, and almost slammed her locker shut as she stared at the boy sternly.
"I am certain we have never met before now. Whatever you know about me is most likely a lie. I suggest you forget about it, and never tell anyone else. Good day." She shouldered her bag, turned around, and walked away.
Howard looked furious. "Can you believe that, Cunningham? She just walked away from us! She's obviously still mad, she wants to ruin the concert for revenge, I swear—"
"Howard, I think there's more than that," Randy said, frowning at his friend. "I think Kuno really did lose her memory. She looked at us like we werestrangers. I know Kuno enough to know she wouldn't trick us. She doesn't get tricks."
"Well, that could be a possibility. But what happened?"
"Does it look like I know?!"
"Don't answer that."
"I'm guessing someone else messed with her memories than us. So not bruce."
"You really think there's someone else that knows she's a robot?"
"Apparently. I mean, I know we did a good job hiding it, but someone clearly found out."
Randy suddenly thought of something again. "…What if they know she knew who the Ninja was. What if they tried to kidnap her, get her memories, but Kuno fought back so they wouldn't know, and they ended up erasing her memory completely?!"
Howard raised an eyebrow. "You just got a gist of all that at once."
"Well, who do you think wanted to know?"
The purple-haired hesitated, his eyes slowly lighting. "There's only one person I can think of." He looked at Howard knowingly.
"Wh—That's so off."
"I just wanted an excuse to beat him up."
"McFist, man! He wants to know the Ninja's identity more than anyone! He must have captured Kuno, got Viceroy to get her memories and…" He gasped. "I have to get her memories back."
"How do you know they still have her memory files? What if they really erased them?"
"We have to believe." Randy got a serious look on his face. "Because as far as I know, our Kin is still there somewhere…."
"Yeaaahh…" Howard said slowly. "Well, you go thinking that. How exactly are you even going to get them back?"
The purple-haired teen hesitated again, turning towards where Kuno left. He frowned for a moment, but it was exchanged with a look of determination. "Maybe I don't…but the Ninja sure does."