“So… Been a ninja long?” Valerie said.
She and Thag were sitting in a comfy chair in what looked to be a meeting room. To her surprise, the ninjas had not tied them up. Somehow, this was even more threatening than if they had. It was as if it was so obvious that escape was impossible that there was no need to bother with ropes.
A ninja glared at Valerie – though it occurred to her that glaring was really all you can do in a ninja mask, so perhaps it didn’t mean anything.
“Are the hours good?” she continued. “Ninja-ing?”
The ninja’s eyes changed expression slightly. Was he gloweing? It was hard to tell.
“Valerie, I can see you mean well,” Thag said. “But just keep quiet. There’s no need to antagonise the ninjas. These aren’t comedy ninjas, they’re the real deal. Silent murders, katanas, ninjitsu… you know the drill.”
“You know a lot about ninjas for a cro-magnon,” Valerie said.
“Saw a documentary,” Thag said. “History channel. You know, they have a lot of rubbish on the History Channel, but this looked like a legit…”
“Silence!” said a ninja, striding through the door. Unlike his brethren, he wore a blue ninja costume. “You are captives of the clan of the Black Scorpion. Not based on the terrible ’90s superhero move. Should make that clear. Black scorpion, meaning a deadly arachnid that is especially badass because it is black.”
Valerie raised her eyebrows at Thag. “I thought you said that they weren’t comedy ninj—”
She barely saw the blue ninja move, but she heard the point of his katana humming as it sliced the air. When the humming ceases, she was aware of a slight stinging in her throat. For a moment, she thought she have been decapitated, and her head might fall off at any moment. Gingerly, she reached up to her neck, and found that the collar had been cleanly removed from her blouse, and only a tiny nick in her skin to say that the blade had been there.
“My banter may be comedic,” the blue ninja said, “but my ninjitsu is serious – deadly serious. Do not cross me, Valerie.”
Valerie wanted to say, “How do you know who I am?” but she was still too paralysed by shock, so she just waggled her head in Thag’s direction.
“How do you know who she is?” Thag said.
“I am Lord Toshito,” the blue ninja said. “Everything I do is planned to perfection. I know that she is the real estate agent who brokered the sale of the Pyramid to Captain Pete. I know that you, Thag, are a stone-age HR manager. The trilobites are loose, due to the machinations of Dr Frightmarestein. Chaos arises from hubris, and gives us the opportunity to assassinate the Prime Minister of Australia!”
“That’s right,” Thag smirked. “Aim high.”
“But why do you want to kill Blandison?” Valerie said.
“Seiously?” Thag asked.
“Fair point. But why are you so keen to do it that you actually went to the bother of doing it?”
“Simplicity itself! Blandison has dishonoured our clan on Twitter.”
“Did not see that coming,” Valerie said. “You?”
“I had my suspicions,” Thag said. “After all, Blandison famously liked a meme tweeted from the @ninja_official account praising swift and merciless murder. When people objected, he claimed his account had been hacked.”
“I see,” Valerie said. “Is backing down from a ‘like’ a great insult amongst ninjas or something?”
“The greatest!” the blue ninja said. “And now he must die!”
Valerie looked at Thag. Thag looked at Valerie. “We okay with that?” Valerie said.
Thag waggled a hand. “Blandison is an idiot, but killing him might be a step too far. Have you considered just throwing an egg at him?”
“What if the egg fails to break?” the blue ninja said.
“That could be embarrassing,” Thag said. “I can see that. But how about…”
He never had a chance to finish his sentence. The door fell open, and in staggered a ninja who held a hand to his neck in a vain attempt to staunch the flow of blood. He staggered and cried and collapsed onto the table.
As one, the ninjas turned towards the door. Standing in the entrance was a hideous, chitonous creature, that walked like a man but was armored like a trilobite. It slashed out with a spiny hand, disembowelling the nearest ninja.
“Heeeeeeelpppp…. Meeeee!” it screeched.
“That’s it,” Valerie said. “I’m out of here. Which way is…”
“Psst!” said a voice. It said it quite loudly so as to heard over the sound of the ninja fight. “Psst!” it bellowed, defeating the purpose of going ‘psst’ at all.
Thag saw the source of the voice first. Valerie followed his gaze to a panel that had just fallen out of a wall. Behind it was a balding, bespectacled man with an aura or insincerity that you could cut with a knife.
“That guy,” Valerie said. “Didn’t he used to be the Prime Minister?”
“Still am,” the PM said. “I think. Is this room safe from the ninjas?”
“Couldn’t be less safe,” Thag said, ducking a shuriken that had bounced off the Man-Trilobite’s armour.
“Then follow me!” the PM said, disappearing back into the tunnels behind the wall.
Thag looked behind the wall panel. “Looks like this tunnel is starting to fill with water. Are you willing to follow this guy into rising water levels?”
“Is he giving us a choice?” Valerie said.
And then she turned to face the reader, an earnest expression filling her face as she broke the forth wall:
“SATIRE!” she shouted.