Shane put his plate in the dishwasher and grabbed his skateboard helmet.
"Any word from Tori, dear?"
"No, Mom," Shane replied, wondering, absently, if he hadn't heard from Tori because she hadn't passed her driver's test. Though if that were the case, he'd have to check the temperature in hell.
"Be careful riding that thing to school, honey," his mom said.
Shane sighed, determined not to snap. That was when he heard the honk. He looked out the window to the street in front of the house, seeing a white van with Tori at the wheel and Dustin in the passenger seat.
"Um, Mom, Tori's outside with her mom's old van. I think she must have passed. Can I ride with her to school?"
"Have fun, dear," said his mom, who walked out of the kitchen.
Shane kissed his mom on the cheek, then opened the door, running out to the van.
"Sweet ride," Shane said, hopping in.
"Dude, that's what I said," Dustin said.
"What, no 'Tori, you passed?" Tori asked.
"Well duh," Shane said.
"Sometimes I wonder why I'm so nice to you guys," Tori said, putting the van into gear.
After school, the three were hanging out at Storm Chargers-- by which was meant that Tori was hanging out and Dustin and Shane were looking for things to clean (but they weren't looking very hard) since they were supposed to be working. The door opened admitting a middle aged man wearing what appeared to be an iridescent kimono.
Shane plastered on what he hoped was a friendly and not weirded out smile. "Hi, welcome to Storm Chargers, can I help you?"
"I certainly hope so, Shane. May I speak to you, Tori, and Dustin for a few moments?"
Tori and Dustin approached cautiously, exchanging weirded out looks with Shane.
"Dude, who are you and how do you know our names?" Dustin asked.
"I am Sensei Kanoi Watanabe of the Wind Ninja Academy. My assistants and I have been watching you for some time, and I have come to offer you a unique educational opportunity," the man replied.
"Ok, I get why you'd want Tori for some kind of special school, but Dustin and I aren't exactly book smart," Shane said.
"This is not that kind of education: the three of you have great potential to become ninjas."
"Ninjas?" Tori echoed.
"Like sneaking around in black pajamas hurting people ninjas?" Dustin asked.
"Dustin, you shouldn't believe everything you see on television," Sensei said. "Ninja powers must never be used for evil, but you will learn some valuable martial arts skills and even more valuable life skills." Sensei reached a hand into his robes and produced three business cards. "If you are interested, please come to this location on Monday afternoon at four o'clock." He left the cards sitting on the counter. "Good day, Shane, Dustin, and Tori." And with that he left.
The three teens stared at each other, unsure how to process what had just happened.
"Dude, why are we doing this again?" Dustin asked as Tori wound her van up the twisty road at around 3:45 on Monday afternoon.
"To help people," Tori said at once.
"And Mom's been bugging me to do something other than skateboarding for awhile now," Shane added.
"So why am I doing this again?" Dustin asked.
"To hang out with us," Shane replied.
"Right," Dustin said, as if he'd been thinking it all along.
"Shane, can you please look at the map again?" Tori asked as she pulled off of the main road into the park land.
"This is the place," Shane said as Tori parked the van. "There's the footpath on the map."
They left the van in the parking lot and followed the trail. Shane was studying the card intently.
"We're supposed to go off trail here," he led them further into the woods.
They soon came to a giant waterfall spilling into a lake.
"Cutting it awfully close, aren't you?" asked a man who seemed to appear from out of nowhere amidst the trees.
"Sensei Watanabe said four," Tori said. "It's five 'til."
"You're not there yet; nor are you in uniform," the man replied. "Be careful to be on time, Sensei does not appreciate tardiness."
"Yes, sir," Shane said.
"Your names?" The man whipped out a clipboard, seemingly from nowhere.
"Water," the man replied, checking her off of his list.
"Earth. Remember your affiliations, it gets chaotic checking them this close to the demonstration. I will lead you to the portal," the man said. He waved his hand and a bridge appeared.
Tori, Shane, and Dustin followed him over the bridge and into the waterfall. Once through the portal, there were signs indicating different directions for each of their elements. They each followed them.
"This is bogus," Dustin said, as they left after their initiation. "Why won't they let us train together?"
"Because we're best suited for different affiliations, dude," Shane said. "And it's only some of the training that's different anyway."
"Yeah, but, I mean..." Dustin paused, as if searching for words. "I'm not sure about this whole yellow thing."
Shane chuckled. "I'm sure you'll get used to it."
"If you say so, dude," Dustin said dubiously, climbing into the back seat of Tori's van.
"You can always quit, Dustin," Tori said as she slid into the driver's seat.
"And miss out on being able to flash into the ground like that?" Dustin asked incredulously. "No way."
"So you're in?" Shane asked. "For keeps?"
"We're the Three Musketeers, dude," Dustin said.
"All for one and one for all," Tori said, starting the van and pulling out onto the highway.
"So tomorrow we've got to be on time," Shane said as Tori moved into traffic.
"I'm sure it won't be a problem anymore," Tori said.
"If you say so," Shane said, dubiously.
"Relax, dude, we've got this in the bag," Dustin said. "No more being late. Ever."