Heart of Metal, Beats Like Gold

I Am My Own Self

Midnight. The perfect hour of sneaking. The perfect hour of stealing.

"Ninja scarf swing!"

The Ninja was silently making his way up to McFist Industries. He roamed through the streets of Norrisville, until he finally arrived at his destination. Once there, he stared up at the giant pyramid-shaped building, squinting his eyes at the logo above, almost glaring at it.

"Ninja climb!"

He reached into the pocket of his suit and brought out two suction cups. He used them to make his way up the tall building, only panting slightly at the thought of getting closer.

Finally, he reached a window. Bringing a sai out, he shouted, "Ninja cut!" and created an opening through it. He made his way inside, casually performing a double backflip before landing back the ground perfectly. He gave one final glare, his blue orbs squinting at his surroundings.

"I'm coming for you Kuno."

Sure, Randy had been in McFist's office dozens of times as the Ninja, but never at night. It felt more eerie, almost creepy, and he didn't exactly felt all that pleasant just being there. "This place is deserted," he mumbled to himself as he walked and looked around. "How can I find the memories in all this?" He gestured to the room, his eyes now desperate.

The boy tapped his chin, deep in thought. "OK, if I was some complicated science experiment, where would I be…" He snapped his fingers. "Viceroy's lab!...Where is that?..."

He just stood in the middle of the room in silence and awkwardness.

"Whatever, I'll just wing it!"

Bad idea. He roamed the entire building, just searching for the right room, but Viceroy's lab seemed to be impossible to find. To make things worse, the entire place was practically littered with Roboapes again. It was harder to move around faster than usual, much less do any looking. It took half an hour for him to fully collapse and rest in a random room. It seemed to be one of the workrooms, because he found a lot of giant cauldrons and tools around.

"This is not working," he gave in.

Why he was trying so hard, no one knew. We all know she's a robot; we all know she can't feel much. Whatever their friendship meant to her was a mystery. Still, Randy was really focused on finding those memories. He had to get his friend back. 'I have to apologize,' he claimed.

"Kin, where are you?"

"Ninja?"

Randy whirled around to the entrance and gasped slightly to see Viceroy. His lips were pulled into a confused frown, his hands on his hips as he tilted his head at the boy. "What are you doing here?"

"Viceroy," Randy immediately went back to focused fighting position and looked ready to attack the scientist. "You know why I'm here."

"Ummm no. I don't. McFist is out, actually, and forced me to stay here. Unless I think you're here for McFist discount, you'll have to fail getting one next time."

"Well, no, although that does sound tempting. I'm here for Kuno Ichi's memories!"

"Kuno?" This time, Viceroy was even more confused, but he was also slightly enthralled. "What do you want with her?"

"I want her memories back. I know you have them! Best to hand 'em over before someone gets hurt."

"I stole them?" The evil genius was trying hard to stifle a laugh, but he couldn't help it. He let out a loud chortle, making the Ninja confused, as he wiped a tear from his eye. Being the sassy Viceroy he is, he regained composition almost immediately. "Oh, you must be joking. So she really did do her job. You know absolutely nothing!"

"What are you talking about?" Randy demanded. "I said, give me her memor—"

"Master? What is going on?"

The purple-haired teen automatically froze. He knew that voice. His eyes widened slightly when he saw a second figure appear through the doorframe. It was Kuno Ichi herself. The moment she saw the Ninja, she frowned in his direction. Randy didn't notice this and instead just stared at her, his mouth behind his mask now slightly parted.

But being the oblivious one he is, the boy only let out a gasp of relief. "Kuno! Oh, thank cheese. I can't believe you're here! Oh, you must be trying to get your memories back too, am I right? Good, we can work together, and—"

"Kuno, attack."

The robot didn't hesitate to obey her Master's commands. Once he uttered those two words, her frown instantly disappeared and her face went to its expressionless state. She immediately pressed a button on her red bangle and a knife attached to it popped out. She used it to slash its blade against the Ninja's arm, but he instantly dodged it. The attack caused the Ninja's eyes to widen once more. He didn't even have time to contemplate about how he'd never seen her use that from her bangle before. He tried to speak, but Kuno just continued attacking. She kept up her swiping until the Ninja finally brought out a sai to block her last slash. For a moment, it was a battle between blades, but Kuno recoiled first and made one backflip backwards. It must've made more sense now, but the Ninja could only gasp.

"You took her memory of being my fan too? Really, Viceroy! Really!"

"Baka," Kuno murmured. She pressed another button on the bangle, and the blade grew longer. She charged forward, ready to plunge the sword into the Ninja's stomach, but he blocked it with his sai again. This time, Randy tried to twist things around and turn the blades, as Kuno followed. "Ninja twist!"

As she was thrown onto the floor, the Ninja tried to escape by climbing up the walls. He went for an air assault, but almost gasped to see Kuno chasing him. "Ninja Air Fist!"

Even with the powerful attack, Kuno managed to slice through it with her blade. As she did that, the Ninja pushed himself off the ceiling and landed back on the floor. He ended up in a position closer to Viceroy now. Before he could move, Kuno landed before him, causing the boy to get trapped in between the two.

"Seriously!" he complained. "You made her an enemy against me? Do you guys really hate me that much?"

"The Ninja is not as smart as he looks," Viceroy scoffed. Kuno only continued to stay in her fighting stance.

"What are you saying?" Now, he had a worried look on his face. It wasn't visible, but the evil genius still smirked.

"Kuno Ichi was always your enemy! All those times she saved you from getting killed? Ha! It's only 'cause she was going to be the one to do it!"

"…Kuno…is this true?"

"Kuno, introduce yourself."

Randy had no idea why that was needed, but the robot girl still obeyed. She retracted from her battle stance and stood straight and tall before the Ninja, as she started to recite her practiced lines for him now:

"My name is Kuno Ichi. I am known as the Female Ninja. Viceroy is my creator and I must respect and obey him. I am to serve the Sorcerer and spy on the Ninja. Because I will be the one to assassinate him."

Now, all the Ninja could do was stare in horror. No. This couldn't be true. But even he started to doubt his own thoughts. Kuno never really told him anything. And even if she did, he always assumed it was the truth. But now…the story about her creator abandoning him. About being the Ninja's fan. About loving music, no matter what. About actually wanting to be his friend as Randy. Was it all a lie? Was anything Kuno ever said was true.

"The truth hurts, doesn't it?" Viceroy let out a prideful chuckle, actually feeling accomplished. But the Ninja wasn't hurt.

In fact, he couldn't feel anything.

"Kuno, attack again."

His head immediately snapped to attention when Kuno was about to strike once more. The soulless dark-brown eyes were now filled with ferocity. "Ninja Tripping Balls!"

As Kuno lost her balance for a moment, Randy took the chance to climb up to the ceiling and attack from above again. "Ninja stars!" The weapons held Kuno's jacket and baggy pants down, now making her unable to move. "Ninja grab!" He then used his scarf to hold on to the arm holding the blade and pulled. The robot girl now fully dropped to the ground, as the Ninja had control.

Without thinking, Kuno pulled the adhered arm, exerting more force, as the Ninja fell from the ceiling. "Whoa!" It had come to her attention that he was falling right on top of her at lightning speed. With the extra weight he carried, it seemed to be enough for both of them to drop completely from the floor, cause a giant hole from where they were, and fall down to the next room.

All Viceroy did was stare in shock.

The Ninja was the first to recover. He groaned as he sat up, rubbing his head and body from the debris. "Holy cheese, that hurt." He instantly remembered the position he was in and bolted up.

Kuno was just releasing herself from the ninja stars too. Once she was free, she stood up straight, pressed another button on the bangle, and the blade retracted. Her expression looked deadly now, as if she was ready to take him on bare-handed.

But Randy now saw his chance to finally speak up. "Kuno," he started, feeling his heart in his throat. "This isn't you. Please, I need you to come back."

"I do not understand." For every punch and kick Kuno threw, the Ninja was able to block. He kept on persisting her.

"I know there's a part of you in there that remembers me somehow, whether or not you have your memories!"

"I do not know you, Ninja." When Randy tried punching as well, Kuno only grabbed it and twisted. He let out a shout of pain as he was thrown onto the floor. Luckily, he quickly rolled away before the robot girl could punch his face in.

"No. You do. You know who I am! Kuno, we were best friends! I believe we still are. Viceroy would've known who I was by now if you let him!"

"If I knew your identity, I would have told my Master straightaway."

"But you didn't, did you? You didn't want to! Don't fight the truth Kuno, you wanted to keep my identity a secret! You tried to fight, but he stole your memories anyway. You're not evil! Destroying me isn't your purpose!"

"Urusai." She threw a powerful kick, but like what she did, Randy only took hold of her leg. The robot girl tried to break free, but Randy held tight. He set her leg down, still holding, causing Kuno to look at him in confusion. Through those innocent blue eyes, she could see desperation.

"Show me you're not evil. Show me that at some point, you were telling the truth. I want to trust you. Until now, I still do. I'm really sorry, OK? We just want you back, Kin."

At the sound of her nickname, the robot's eyes slightly widened. It was that one name that managed to strike her. For a moment, Randy had hope. Kuno stopped resisting, and now the two just looked at each other. The robot girl looked like she wanted to say something, and the Ninja just wanted to take her while she wasn't aware and bring her home. But they were both interrupted when Viceroy appeared through the doorframe.

"Do it, Kuno! Destroy him!"

Randy was ready to defend himself, for one second doubting Kuno changed. But then he saw her hesitation and he raised both eyebrows. Her dark brown eyes showed pixels once more as they assessed the situation. The response she gave after indicated they made the right choice.

"No."

"What?!"

"No." Kuno turned to look at Viceroy, the pixels scanning wildly in her eyes like fire. "I am sorry, Master."

"Kuno. Fight the Ninja. Now." The evil scientist had never looked more aggravated.

"Master, it is because of the Ninja that I am who I am now. I have a better outlook of life. He taught me how to live, which, on behalf of a robot like me, is theoretically statistically improbable. I am my own self now, Goshujin. Gomenasai. I must be able to choose who I want to be. I am capable of choosing the life I want to live. And I am afraid to inform you that it is not this one."

All Randy wanted to do now after that little speech was hug his friend. He thought victory was his for the taking, and shot one prominent look at the scientist. But all Viceroy could focus on was the first sentence Kuno said.

"You!" He jabbed one accusing finger at the Ninja's direction, the antagonized wildfire in his eyes growing larger by the second. "You did this to her! You're never satisfied with just victory, are you Ninja? First you destroy my machines, and now you take them! I probably never should have created a robot in the first place!"

For a moment, Kuno's eyes showed hurt. But then Viceroy turned to her and started screaming. "You are my creation! You will follow me! Whether you like it or not!"

Out of nowhere, Viceroy brought a little remote with a single red button in the middle of it. Kuno's eyes widened, and they showed shock and horror for the very first time. At first, Randy was confused. What was going on? But realization only hit him at the last moment.

If there's one thing in cartoons that people knew about big red buttons, it's that they always lead to no good.

Before Kuno could scream, Viceroy pressed it.

A loud whirring blared to life.



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