Chapter 94

“Disappointed?” Conmer’s face ran blank, then slowly began to shift to a sly smile. “Oh, a bluff.”
“No. I just really thought you could add three to four and square it. Guess I was wrong…” Four new ninja appeared behind Contre, their pixel eyes all colored an aggressive shade of pink. Though one might mistake them for allies of Meadow at first glance, subtle differences in their style of movement revealed that their allegiance lay elsewhere. “Oh well. C’mon girls.” Contre began to walk out of the room, the four new ninja lifting Aqua, Snowflake, and Meadow off the ground and following suit. “Actually, wait, hold on – are those goggles the new model?” Contre walked over to Snowflake and swiped her goggles. “Nice. Been wanting one of these for a while.”
Conmer threw all pretense of dignity out the window and dropped to the floor to maneuver his way out of his rope bindings. He was too late though, and by the time he was free, his mother and her entourage were gone. All he could do now was stop and think through what had just happened.
He was pretty sure his mother had wanted something specific, something important – otherwise she would have gone along with his little power play. Bold as it had been, Conmer’s mother usually had a soft spot for shenanigans like that. He decided to sift through recent events and discoveries, trying to find something he’d missed.
Okay, he’d just found out that genzin had a concept of ninja, the zhikoji. Being a relatively influential Rosearn, and having a strong interest in the legends about ninja, Conmer should have heard about this much sooner – unless someone very powerful was going out of their way to keep it secret. But why? The information itself wasn’t valuable. Maybe there was something else, a far greater mystery that the genzin zhikoji were a key clue in solving?
An interesting theory. He was sure he’d found something, but he needed more to figure out what it was he’d found. Genzin, ninja, genzin… Oh! The ninja that originally broke into his ship were behaving unusually. They seemed to be using more tricks and traps then vocal lies, relying on the Art of Smoke more than the Art of Wind. Not unreasonable, since the Rosearn worshiped all three parts of the Art of Subtlety – but it was still quite odd, since the Rosearn only had mastery over the Art of Wind. Documentation on the arts of Shadow and Smoke had been lost to them eons ago. Unless these ninja had somehow uncovered the ancient guides to the Art of Smoke?
Another good theory. He now had a how and a what, but no how for his what and no what for his how… Unless the two ideas were connected somehow? Perhaps…
Conmer raced over to one of the ships many hidden monitors, and opened the room’s security footage. He’d recalled Snowflake being short for a tyar’sole, but hadn’t thought much of it – some people were just short. However, what if she wasn’t a short tyar’sole, but a tall genzin? He rewound the footage, and zoomed in on the moment when Contre took off Snowflake’s goggles.
Her eye structure, her skin’s shade and hue… Snowflake was almost certainly a female genzin by biology. Something no Rosearn would expect. Even if she had dedicated her life to the Art of Subtlety, she still had a fundamental disadvantage against tyar’sole when it came to scheming. In order to keep up, to achieve the same level of cunning a tyar’sole had… She must have been raised for this since before she could talk, steeped in the path of deceit for almost her whole life – like a tyar’sole child was. There was simply no way something like that would happen, except under two circumstances. She had either been adopted by a Rosearn very young, which was unlikely, given the structure of the Alliance’s interplanetary adoption regulations – or she was raised in a genzin subculture dedicated to the Art of Subtlety.
A subculture of genzin dedicated to the Art of Subtlety… that sounded an awful lot like the zhikoji. Conmer was getting somewhere now.


A note from the author ninja:

Considering Conmer comes from a culture full of individuals who are totally okay with the idea of starting an interplanetary conspiracy just to get a 23.6% discount on cabbage at the local grocery store… you’d think he would have caught on sooner.

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