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Chapter 7 Main Chapters Chapter 9

Chapter 8: Altercation

I woke up, shouted in shock, and shoved away the creepy guy who was standing way too close to my bed.

I rolled out of bed, away from the weird guy who had so inexplicably appeared. My legs were tangled in the sheets, which had fallen off the bed with me. I looked around quickly. The candles in the room had burned low and were almost sputtering out. I dimly saw two men in my room, both of them disturbingly close to my bed.

Before I had managed to untangle my legs, one of the men somehow flew over my bed and almost landed on top of me. I rolled out of the way and frantically kicked my legs free of the sheets, fortuitously avoiding a second lunge from the flying man.

I leapt to my feet and landed a solid kick on the midsection of the flying creep. Two things surprised me. First of all, his surface was much harder than I had thought- my whole leg hurt after the kick. Second, he was heavy, but much lighter than I had anticipated. He flew several feet back into the bed.

At that moment, the door opened, and there was a blaze of light from the hallway. Haruhi stood there, a gigantic grin on her face. She ran forward and jumped, launching into her flying kick straight at the flying creep. Through some bizarre straining of the laws of physics, she actually managed to behead the creep! Haruhi herself landed smoothly near me, and turned to face the remaining man, and announced, "The SOS Brigade triumphs again! Really, did you think you could stop our mission to have fun with aliens, espers, and time travelers! And you've only got two people! My club way outnumbers you! Kyon, beat up the last one!"

Although I had thought that was the weirdest thing I'd see that evening, weirder things were in store. The body of the beheaded creep flung itself at Haruhi, and from behind her, the head launched itself at her, as though someone had thrown it.

What's a guy supposed to do to fight a flying undead creep? Easy. I jumped away, over the bed and to the other side, and charged the other man.

In the light from the hallway, I had seen his arms moving, as though he was pulling the head and the body around, and his fingers were splayed oddly. The flying beheaded creep was actually some sort of puppet! So obviously the thing to do was to take out the puppet master.

I could see the other man's face, turning to me in surprise. Or at least I think that's what he felt. He had so much face paint on that there was almost more paint than face there. Then there was a blur, and suddenly I found myself facing the ugliest puppet I've ever seen. It was standing right where the puppet master had been standing. The puppet had three eyes and scraggly hair. The head was wobbly, not being properly attached to its body, but of course that didn't disturb it as it reached out towards me.

I swung out my arms to block it. It really hurt, striking against its wooden arms, and I was amazed when its arms continued going, around my block and to my back! Those things were more like tentacles than arms! It turned me around and then clasped me to its chest, pinioning my arms and legs by looping its limbs around me.

Now I was facing the way it was facing. In my peripheral vision I could see the guards in the room and outside the door were all slumped on the floor. My attention was mainly occupied by the man in a war paint mask, who was extending one arm towards me, presumably to control the puppet, and using a black, diamond-shaped knife in his other arm to ward off Haruhi, who kept trying to kick him. The makeup artist pulled his puppet arm in, and the puppet and I were drawn in until we were both affixed to his back.

The man was backing quickly towards the door- I could tell because it was coming closer and closer to me. Haruhi shouted, "Hey, give back my club member! I saw him first! Go find someone standing around bored and take him into your club instead!"

Yes, Haruhi still thinks of club members as her personal possessions.

Anyhow, I was unwillingly taken out the door and down the hall very quickly. I tried struggling, but the puppet's limbs were rigid, so I couldn't break free. There was a clamor rising, and I heard Haruhi's shouting and guards coming closer, but I realized they wouldn't make it in time.

We exited the palace, and my captor leapt up to the top of the wall in a single leap. I guess he's probably some sort of ninja. Then he leapt down. I heard two voices- presumably his comrades, standing in front of him.

"I've got him," my captor said.

"He's got the mark?" a female voice asked.

"Look for yourself," said my captor. He slung his puppet off his back, and me with it. In the moonlight, I could vaguely see that there was a woman with a humongous fan on her back, and another man with his head bowed and arms crossed.

The woman looked at my forehead and agreed, "Yes, that's it. Let's go." I guess in all the excitement my character appeared.

Without any further ado, I was hoisted back onto my captor's back, and the three ninja began to run at incredible speed. I think they did that all night, but I'm not sure. I fell asleep again.

Their running was actually very smooth, so there weren't too many bumps until the next morning, when they entered a forest and started leaping from tree to tree. Even that felt more like being on a ship than being hauled on somebody's back.

Eventually they stopped on a tree branch, rested for a moment, then began to get provisions out of their packs. Conveniently enough, my stomach began to rumble.

"I guess we'll have to feed him," the woman said.

I agreed, "Seeing as you went to all this trouble to capture me alive, it would be a pity if I died of starvation before we reached Koutou."

The other man spoke for the first time, telling me with a cold voice, "Not eating for a day. That won't kill you."

My captor spoke, and he sounded afraid for some reason: "Gaara, you know our mission is to bring him in unharmed!"

There was a pause, and Gaara eventually allowed, "Whatever."

Without further delay, the puppet who held me was set down beside my captor. The female ninja took it upon herself to offer a morsel on chopsticks.

"I'm not a baby," I informed her.

"And we're not stupid," she said firmly. "We're not letting you free for a moment."

"I can think of several ways that could get awkward," I said.

My captor pinched the painted bridge of his nose and asked irritatedly, "Do you want to eat or not?"

I accepted the morsel of food.

"How did you know the Koutou Empire hired us?" the female ninja probed.

"We had gotten a letter demanding my surrender just a few hours earlier," I almost shrugged, but the puppet interfered with the movement. "Although really, if you were going to kidnap me," I looked at my captor, "you needn't have bothered leaving the note."

My captor chuckled, "That's what I thought, but our mission was to give you at least a few hours to surrender."

I wanted to keep talking, but the blonde woman began to continuously shove food in my mouth. I almost mean that literally. Faced with a choice between eating or choking, I picked eating.

The ninja who had captured me got done with his own meal very quickly, and then I could hear him making field repairs on his puppet behind me, rejoining the head to the neck. "I still can't believe that girl kicked the head off Karasu!" he muttered venomously.

The female ninja looked surprised, but she also shook her head and remonstrated, "It's like I always say - stop underestimating people!"

The short meal was finished quickly. I wasn't even close to satiated, but the ninja appeared ready to keep going for hours. They all look like they're only a few years younger than me - what kind of lives have they been living that they're used to kidnapping people and hours of vigorous physical activity?

Chapter 7 Main Chapters Chapter 9