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  • Liberating Libertalia

    "Shit."

    Those Seeking Vengeance
    Part III: Liberating Libertalia




    Hashimoto Daisuke | Chouku Shuju | Kansei Tanryoku

    They've beaten me here.

    Tanryoku clung to the rock shelf and flattened his body, cloak draped about a uniform that shifted from beige umber to mottled gold as the sunset lit the sand beneath him. He had arrived in the vicinity barely an hour ago to look for signs of habitation, narrowing down a search covering five square miles of undocumented territory to an area where the predominant features were labyrinthine jutting plates and scorched valleys. The result of some vicious, earth-shattering battle? The site of an averted natural disaster? Tanryoku’s guesses were as fanciful as any, but it was the only place structurally sound enough to hide a man-made fortification that a small army could occupy. The very army the Omemie had slunk in to defeat.

    Though they represented a fraction of the power the crime family once held, the manpower amassed below the hidden shinobi by the branch calling themselves the Severed Lotus comprised a full battalion of desert-camouflaged troops. Peering over the edge of his makeshift cover, he spied at least two-dozen rough-looking sorts, some wearing cloaks, some with packs, all bearing close-quarters melee weapons. A handful of bows were strapped to sleds laden with excavation gear, as well as bundles of rope.

    Wary of sentries, the hooded Jounin whispered through a hand-seal and slid soundlessly in the opposite direction. He needed a better vantage point. The Omemie had arrived before him, yes, but that didn’t change his mission — it only moved its timeframe forward. At least he’d been saved the trouble of locating the crumbling temple. From a distance, its natural doorway was just another vertical crack in a broad rock face, but from here if was possible to discern individual openings and the colour differentiation of corridors running deeper into the cliffside.

    Still cloaked in camouflaging chakra, he ascended one of the nearby upturned, plate-like ridges, noticing a squad of ten or so detaching from the group to approach the temple, bristling with glints of metal and unlit torch staves. He scrambled higher, hand over foot, avoiding sandy surfaces at all costs and finding purchase on the cusp of a fractured spiral thirty feet overhead, by which point hell had broken loose.

    Three members of the advance party were on the ground, bodies like pin cushions as the remaining seven backed away. Then another hail of arrows appeared against the sky, followed by a rallying cry that broke against their shouts of panic like two storm fronts crashing together. The tall crack in the cliff face lit up with an angry glow backed by a hammering rhythm of drums, though it was impossible for Tanryoku to see too far into the gap, given the angle. He could see where the archers were firing from, however, given his elevation. The next volley issued from a scattering of covered alcoves in the temple heights, opening and closing their hatches in synchronicity and largely obscured from the view of those below by strategic rock shelves. Each alcove was manned by at least one bowman kneeling to take the shot. The army was most definitely here, and it was organised.

    By comparison, the Omemie moved in disarray, retreating out of range behind the sleds, which were quickly overturned for temporary cover. The injured men and women still lay floundering where they had been abandoned, although there were five now, two most definitely dead or bleeding out. An unexpected turn of events, to be sure. Having eavesdropped on part of the gang’s planning meeting, Tanryoku’s expectations had been much higher, having assumed a far more deliberate and cunning strategy; not this brute force attempt to lay siege.

    That’s when he noticed the sand on top of the cliff moving, shifting up and down. There were figures in the sand, crawling towards the edge.

    Of course!

    The sleds had been a diversion. He could see them now, rising like wraiths, holding ropes tipped with spokes of metal. The ground force were the mercenaries, but these were the thieves, led by that man called Gato, already a step ahead of the shinobi and about eight or nine above the hapless archers who thought themselves secure in their little nests. He shivered, checking his own blind spots as the drums waged an eery war on the chasmic walls. The Omemie were surprisingly well informed and completely prepared for their siege. What else did they know?

    Then his earpiece crackled, barely audible, and he turned up the volume.

    About time.
    ________________________________________


  • #2
    Shuju was pleased to be handpicked by Tanryoku as part of a tiny, but ‘elite’ squad to sneak around an entire army. Shuju hadn’t really worked with Daisuke before so he defaulted to assuming that the man wasn’t as valuable an asset, but Tanryoku was one of the few men in the Hidden Sand that the puppet master was actually willing to praise. Not to his face though. Never.

    Just like the raiders, eh?” He sort of reminisced, remembering a previous mission that he had completed with Tanryoku. “Except maybe this is the other way around.

    When the two of them had dealt with the raiders they had enough time to lay out an entire plan with a village and its elder while they laid traps to deal with the invaders. That day however it seemed that Shuju and the rest of the team were the raiders venturing into unknown territory and untold dangers.

    Shuju was also dressed to play the role of a sneaky ninja / assassin. The donned the same jet black uniform that he usually dressed Jintao, the assassin puppet with. He also had a black hood and mask to cover most of his face. They were important items to hide his green features. Such dark clothing was useful to hide at night but it daylight it made the wearer seem like such a criminal.

    So what are we dealing with?” Shuju wondered. “And what do you have in mind? I have a bunch of toys so you just let me know what sort of back up you need.

    Due to their working history Shuju was willing to trust his fellow Jounin and go by whatever plan he had in mind. He saw that the numbers were very high. Butting heads was certainly a possibility given the available personnel. It wasn’t a favorable option, but it was definitely one that they wanted to avoid if at all possible. Unlike some stupid soldiers, Shuju was not one to be voluntarily reckless and he knew that Tanryoku wasn’t like that either.


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    • #3
      Daisuke, on the other hand, had made a particular habit of getting in way over his head. So long as his behavior fell within the threshold of what Enzan considered 'necessary risk,' he felt more free than ever to act in accordance with his best judgement – his official title offered him many privileges that the typical rank-and-file shinobi like Shuju seldom saw. The increase in notoriety and the weight of his responsibility had certainly gone to his head, but only a handful of Sunagakure's highest ranking officials, the Tiger of the Western Sands included, knew that his zealous approach to the village's defenses was in response to the threat of Tsuriau Iemitsu and the Dragon Palm Syndicate.

      He couldn't help but wonder why Tanryoku had enlisted him for this particular engagement. It was a curious thing indeed – as fate would have it, both the acclaimed Investigator Puppeteer and his fellow Shinrai were among the few Jounin-level ninja left which Daisuke had yet to challenge to an Agni Kai – a trial by fire and by combat, derived from the Renchishin tradition of the Vayu Kai (lit. Wind Message) and designed to test the loyalty and ability of his peers. If anything, the mission offered him a chance to evaluate their skills while in the field. Alone, though, he figured he stood a better chance of making the operation a quiet one – Daisuke's skill with genjutsu enabled him to travel just about anywhere in the world without drawing a lick of attention to himself. Likewise, his ability to decimate the landscape was matched by none in the village, save for Enzan, or perhaps Hitoko on a good day... if not for the value of the site itself and the contraband within, he'd have simply erased it from history. Maybe next time.

      "Sorry I'm late!" called Daisuke over the comm. unit.

      The sound of rushing wind filled the frequency with static while he held it open. He leaned his head over to look down towards the ground from atop a mount crested with a fiery plumage – the Eagle, Kohaku. He counted his marks that dotted the upper levels of the temple alcove.

      ...six...nine...

      His goggles, designed with a zoom function, made up for the distance between them (an altitude of several hundred feet) and he could see that they were fairly well armed.

      "I'm above them now – shall I make my grand entrance?"

      Last edited by Seikon; 03-18-2019, 05:59 PM.

      SAND CO-SECONDARY GM / STORY MODERATOR
      UNFINISHED | HASHIMOTO DAISUKE | ISHIKAWA EIKO| NADARE



      AP: 21

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      • #4
        The two unmistakable voices brought a slow grin to the Jounin’s otherwise consternated features. He welcomed the thought of overwhelming backup and 'toys' with a triumphant one-inch punch.

        “Glad you could make it, boys.”

        Sheets of strategy fell in layers across the battlefield in his mind’s eye, decorated with points of incursion like the dotted lines on a map. He slid down the sandy scree of his current perch and jumped the gap between jutting platforms, running up the nearest ledge to a better vantage point closer to the cliff. In his ear, the rushing sound of the wind made enough of a racket for Tanryoku to imagine he was a lot higher than a paltry fifty feet. Who was travelling that fast? It could have been either. Both men’s repertoires continued to surprise him.

        “We need into this temple. Put the invaders, the defenders, and the whole operation out of commission for good. Off the board. Secure their contraband.”

        A soft shadow passed over the Jounin but he didn’t look up. Probably just a bird. His eyes were trained on the archers taking shots from the alcoves, rationing out their ammunition and picking their targets more wisely. The rock shelves on which they stood went fairly deep into the bluff, from what he could see, with two men to a tunnel: one to do the firing and the other as a spotter and arrow feeder, but both oblivious to the syndicate members above them, armed to the teeth and readying to abseil down. He empathised momentarily with the defenders, all too aware of the absolute terror they were about to experience. He’d do his best to make the feeling mutual on their behalf; the syndicate couldn’t be allowed a foothold here either.

        “I’m above them now – shall I make my grand entrance?”

        Hanging by a hand and a foot like some dust-coloured gargoyle, Tanryoku watched the first line of abseiling invaders swing hard and fast into the panicked archer teams below. Then, with the pandemonium at its peak and all eyes otherwise occupied, Tanryoku answered.

        “Go.”
        Last edited by Calibur; 05-03-2020, 10:18 AM.

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        • #5
          "Don't burn yourself out again. I already did you two favors today, can't be bailing you out every time you're in trouble!"

          "Yeah, yeah..." despite waving his hand dismissively, he obliged the Eagle's scoldings. He mostly deserved them. "Oh--guess it's showtime."

          When Tanryoku's voice came through his ear to give him the go-ahead, he took one more look over Kohaku's wing.

          "Copy that," replied Daisuke, who then advised, "Cover your ears!"

          If they didn't, they'd be caught in his illusion and miss their window to advance on the temple undetected.

          His hands flashed through a lengthy chain of seals, first using one technique to change the location that his voice emanated from, and another to cast a potent spell over all those who would hear it. Although he was a long time smoker, Daisuke had a pair of lungs like a bellows, and this became apparent when he pressed his lips together and released a shrill, song-bird's note which echoed off the faces of rock for miles -- to all who heard it, though, it simply sounded like a brief gust of wind or something similarly innocuous.

          Still whistling as he dismissed his avian companion with a stiff wave--

          Seeya!

          --Daisuke plummeted, head-first, towards the earth.

          Below, wholly unaware of the unexpected Jounin's suicide dive, many of the teams had already planted spikes at the edge of the cliff-side and begun lowering each-other and their sleds in through the alcoves in the temple's facade, leaving a force of just nine to defend the ropes from the top. Armed and intimidating as they may have been, doing it this way was almost too easy. They were none-the-wiser as Daisuke loosed a jet of wind from his hands to slow his fall, nor did they realize that nine others appeared in neat row from a cloud of smoke after forming another seal.

          It wasn't until those identical copies of Daisuke grabbed each one by the mouth from behind and felt the repeated plunges of his kunai into their chests and throats were they aware of what was happening, and by then, it was far too late to call for help. And even if they had, those troops on the ground would have likely been just as oblivious. When the last had fallen, the clone closest to the edge activated his comm. unit, then summoned the Six Eyes to his grip from dust and waved it back and forth, beaming.

          "Alright, cooooome on dooooown, door's open!"

          The tenth Daisuke -- the real Daisuke -- ushered his nine disciples towards the rappel lines after each tucked their goggles back into the folds of their scarves and they'd donned scraps of clothing and equipment from the men they had slain. They would hold there until he was sure his teammates had made their moves -- Tan and Shuju could eliminate some threats along the way, or not. His own next step would be to deal with the brigands that entered the structure from where he now stood -- so long as they remained under the influence of his Genjutsu technique, he knew it'd be a piece of cake.

          Last edited by Seikon; 03-19-2019, 02:26 AM.

          SAND CO-SECONDARY GM / STORY MODERATOR
          UNFINISHED | HASHIMOTO DAISUKE | ISHIKAWA EIKO| NADARE



          AP: 21

          Comment


          • #6
            Shuju covered his ears with his index fingers just as Daisuke instructed. Then he was given the greenlight to go ahead as his teammate’s ‘grand entrance’ had already happened. Shuju then dropped a scroll onto the ground and summoned a team of his fighters. He needed a few puppets that could hit hard and take a few hits from the mercenaries. After all he had some cleaning up to do on his way to the temple’s entrance.

            Around the puppeteer appeared five of his war machines; Maru the barbarian, Yoshi the hell hound, Souma the dragoon, Sarumi the guardian and Yuu the ranger. Shuju immediately got his units moving and started running alongside them, making a charge towards the ground forces blocking the way to the temple. No one was reacting to the group’s presence, but that didn’t mean they were receiving any mercy. It was all about brutal efficiency.

            Maru started by going towards its nearest target and swinged its big battle axe at the oblivious man, hitting him in the back, piercing and crushing many of his sensitive parts. The man was immediately dead. Sarumi took a simpler, more elegant approach and extended it sword as it stabbed on of them in the back and pierced his body from one end to the other, suffering a similar fate.

            Yoshi on the other hand had a messier tool than the others. It shifted its weight to its back and stood on its two hindlegs then pulled out a warhammer from its front leg and smashed another oblivious man’s head with it. It was a bloody mess, but it was undoubtedly as effective as the others were. Shuju then spotted two men standing within close proximity to each other so he sent Souma their way and it hit them both at the same time, piercing one of them with its huge spear while bashing the other one’s head with its shield. The simplest of all was Yuu. It simply fired an arrow from where it stood, puncturing a mercenary’s throat and he fell down, bleeding to death like the rest.

            Meanwhile Shuju was calmly walking towards the temple’s front door like he owned the place, unbothered by anything going around him as if it didn’t concern him at all. It looked as if the puppets were autonomous and knew what they were doing while Shuju was going on about his business, but there was one man standing right at the door so Shuju pulled out a single kunai from his pouch and jabbed it into the guard’s neck.

            Feels like a cheap shot... but Daisuke's gotta teach me this trick.


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            • #7
              Tanryoku buckled his palms across his ears, pressing his fingertips tight against the back of his head, and held himself upright on the razor edge by the Kabenobori technique alone. He watched the silent movie unfold — of a man falling from the sky unnoticed, slowing his descent and raising a brigade of clones that moved, undetected, like ghosts. He started. Something was off about this picture. Further back, there was more movement: five puppets flanking their green-haired master and advancing on the reserve guard of syndicate men and women left behind by the detachment of ten that was now pushing up the field. Just…standing there. Taking it without a fight.

              Genjutsu.

              Daisuke scared him. But a bit of fear in your allies was probably a healthy thing.

              My turn.

              Launching himself at the next jutting tower of rock, which was bowed like a spout, he slipped off his hood and dispelled his prior jutsu. The wind tugged at the fabric of his unfurling red gi as he flashed through a tight sequence of seals and drew the breezes into a condensed vortex underfoot. He hit the splitting boulders with the force of a feather, crouching for stability as his wind board performed a sharp grind for traction, waggled back, then swept down the slope to cut the field in half and flatten any arrow in its path. Turning against a gritty curtain of sand, Tanryoku pursued the detachment of ground troops making their charge, which had resolved into more or less a staggered line led, after a short gap, by the three fastest mercenaries. Seconds ahead, then all but in front of him.

              In a springboard manoeuvre, he traded the board for aerial clearance, and soared a good four feet over their heads, body twisting and metal glinting as he then loosed a volley of seven kunai in sharp succession to pierce four feet, two knees and an ankle. The mercenaries hit the cracked, sand-strewn dirt well before Tanryoku, a heap of startled cries and anguished groans. All easily out of commission and primed for capture by the cleanup team. If Shuju wanted to finish the job a different way, that was his prerogative, but having someone left alive to question wouldn't be the worst idea.

              He landed for a two-second sprint then leapt again, this time an easy six feet high over the first of the three leaders, foot snapping vertebrae as the edge of his sole folded into the man’s trapezius muscle. He used the blowback from the neck strike to flip sideways over the next man’s head, grab him by the hair and slam his face into the densely packed sand, crushing bones like eggshells. With a swift burst, he slipped under the final runner's spear then stopped suddenly, rising with a roundhouse kick to the sternum. The man's limp, broken body careened past Shuju, who had nearly finished his crossing. The pair passed into a chasmic entrance that narrowed to a conical tunnel. There, a lone sentry peered out at the desert wastes, unmoving, trapped. Then dispatched.

              As always, Tanryoku found himself having to quash the feelings of morality that rose when faced with the more masochistic elements of his job. Watching a man choke on his own blood, twitching in a pool of the stuff, wasn’t pleasant. But was his way any kinder? His enemies did most of their bleeding on the inside.

              He looked away, clicking his communication unit. “Area’s cleared," he said, raising his voice over the pounding drums, which seemed to come from everywhere. “We had a sentry down here so we know there's a way in. We’ll take low, you take high."

              The deafening cacophony, one part bellowing drums, one part banshee-like whistle, issued from holes running along the walls that resembled old fashioned speaking tubes, or the apertures along a woodwind instrument. They didn't seem to lead anywhere. Moreover, the walls were solid and all the doorways had been filled in. Maybe Daisuke was having more luck with the tunnels topside.
              ________________________________________

              Last edited by Calibur; 05-03-2020, 10:34 AM.

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              • #8
                As Shuju disposed of several of the mercenaries and the guard at the door Tanryoku made his way through and the puppeteer followed but with some distance between the two. Tan had announced that the area is clear, but Shuju still made his way through the entrance and hallway with his five puppets positioned around him, moving like a royal escort team. He didn’t only have the puppets around for his own protection. It was definitely the primary reason for their presence, but they served several purposes. Another important factor was that they provided extra sets of eyes, which meant that the Puppeteer was looking at the place from six different perspectives, including his own natural point of view.

                It took a lot of training and a natural knack for processing large amounts of information for the keen-eyed investigator to be able to quickly scan the entire area just as they entered it despite the whistling sound that seemed to come from the pipes running through the building's walls. In once glance the investigator noted that the place was unnaturally empty as if was thoroughly cleaned out. However that didn't make much sense since a sentry had passed through and he had to have gone somewhere. There had to be an alternative exist or a very good hiding spot.

                That ledge is not right.” Shuju pointed at a small, slightly out of line ledge at the other end of the room as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

                Shuju then walked towards the ledge and pressed against it, pushing it into a slot. The push was followed by a click and then the sound of something very heavy being moved. A wide doorway at the other end of the room had opened up. It was a very predictable way to conceal a secret tunnel.

                Last edited by Kapeesh; 03-22-2019, 08:05 AM.


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                • #9
                  Tanryoku approached the new aperture with a steady frown and rubbed his thumb along the stone lining the edge of the mechanical doorway. It was pretty archaic, but had been enough to fool him. A dim, high-sided passage descended from there.

                  "Well, head on a swivel. Eyes sharp."

                  An ancient thieves’ dwelling was likely to have more surprises in store. He slipped inside, guiding himself along sandstone walls worn smooth by the passage of time and many hands. Oddly, the deeper they went, the more muffled the sounds of war became, as if they were moving further from the source of the drums. The space overhead and the light that filtered down were also rapidly diminishing. Tanryoku quickly formed a seal and cupped his hand, summoning a ball of illumination so that the pair wouldn’t have to walk blindly into the unknown.

                  "Must have some way of snuffing the light," he said quietly, regarding the now shadowless face of Shuju. "Probably expect someone to be coming. Could even—"

                  He stopped short as the floor dropped away and his world tilted dangerously, his only purchase the two fingers still gliding along the wall and the arch of one foot, which had caught on the edge of the sheer chasm that the passage had opened into, all three body parts now pulsing with chakra. He swallowed his instinctive outcry and pushed back, stumbling into Shuju.

                  “Hoh… Close…”

                  His whisper was lost in the enormity of the space, of which his chakra light technique showed next to nothing. It merely lit up the end of the tunnel: a boxy white outline against the impenetrable dark. If they were to probe any further, and defend themselves doing it, they needed to know what was coming, not to mention what they were running into.

                  So much for sneaking in.

                  He pitched the glowing orb into the unknown and crouched, waiting for it to hit its peak. When the chakra light detonated, it lit up the area like a small sun, revealing half a dozen massive pillars connected by interlocking pathways and stairwells. Not the walls, nor the floor. He assumed the room had some, but assumptions were dangerous things.

                  So were the half dozen burning pebbles arcing into view as the flare emitted by the chakra light dimmed. Although they fell short — Tanryoku having discarded the flashbulb quickly enough to throw off the defenders’ aim — the threat was made. A multitude of flaming torches popped into existence, pouring up stairs and over bridges towards the pair of shinobi, carried by faceless, formless figures. Whole sections of the walls lit up as they passed, rings of flame sprouting from troughs of oil and cables slick with tar. All attempts at concealment were done, the time for hesitation through.

                  The defending troops rising to meet the shinobi had to be sixty-strong at least, most close enough to send new warding volleys with slings and short bows. Tanryoku ducked to avoid a lucky headshot, then grimaced as a second ricocheted off the wall by his forearm and skittered up the tunnel. These fighters had skill. Between the torchbearers, their number verily bristled with a mixture of ranged weaponry, staves, maces, short swords and other lethal miscellany.

                  The fifteen-foot drawbridge that seemed to provide access to the tunnel was currently raised, but it wouldn’t be long before the defenders were upon its gears. The nearest tower-like structure, on the other hand, was even further away — a veritable leap of faith — but ran high enough to climb out of range and bypass the largest part of the enemy force. Tanryoku clapped Shuju on the shoulder.

                  "Over or through, man! Your choice."

                  ———————
                  Last edited by Calibur; 05-03-2020, 10:58 AM.

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                  • #10
                    "I'm not particularly mobile right now, but I've got a squad of heavy hitters here." Shuju first justified his choice since he was an investigator of KAZE, and not a 'dumb brute' that always went for the path of most destruction. He didn't want to tarnish his intellectual reputation. "Let's hammer through these damn goons."

                    Once Shuju said those words the thugs lowered the wooden drawbridge, closing the gap between the two platforms. They were about to charge at the two sand shinobi, in an attempt to take them head on and overwhelm them with numbers, but the puppeteer had a different plan in mind. He wanted to take the fight to them before they got too close.

                    The puppeteer was well equipped for the occasion and had some tools that suited crowd-control tasks really well. He also had the fire power to thin down the opposition's ranks too. The hellhound took the lead, but in an unexpected fashion. Everyone thought it would simply ram through the hordes like the battering ram it was built to be. However it took a more tactical approach by firing a few pepper gas bombs into the crowd.

                    The initial volley produced the needed reaction from the crowd. Eyes were burning, panic levels were rising amongst them and general chaos ensued within their ranks. They didn't seem to have any proper means of defense against the pepper spray once it started spreading so it was extremely effective.

                    The second part of the plan involved the dragoon puppet. It forced its way through the crowd, knocking around a bunch of men on its way and it stood in the middle of the group, sticking out as it towered over most of the thugs. While it stood there Shuju triggered a technique that allowed the poison in the puppet's leg to spread out and cover a significant area. The poison was a hallucinogenic one so it wasn't going to be a massacre.

                    Souma and Maru then charged together. Being the large, strong and bulky puppets they were they had a very easy time just sprinting right through the distracted mob while punching and smashing left and right. Finally the ranger puppet fired a net from its arm. The net spread big and wide in midair and entangled a portion of the group. It was just the cherry on top to add to the confusion.

                    The puppeteer didn't exactly take many people out of the fight just yet but they were all very easy pickings at that point.
                    Last edited by Kapeesh; 02-18-2020, 03:29 PM.


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                    • #11
                      Nodding curtly, Tanryoku chose the other path. The quicker he got above Shuju’s ‘heavy hitters’, the sooner they could cross the narrow bridge unobstructed and the better chance the Jounin had of gaining a tactical advantage.

                      Sending a more deliberate surge of chakra to the balls of his feet, he darted along the wall to his right, trailing a curtain of sandstone dust and clattering arrows. Twenty feet from the tower, he made the jump, twisting to narrow his profile amid the newest wave of projectiles, some of which nicked his clothing. Fortunately, he leapt with enough power to cross the distance quickly, hands latching onto the lip of the tower as his feet scrambled up and over onto the flagstone floor. When the stone tile underfoot receded, some primal instinct — his lizard brain — screamed for him to move, and he fell sharply to one side as a metallic object struck the ceiling. Naturally, the other tiles were just as sensitive, and each depressed as he rolled over them, pursued by a thunderous staccato of impacts that ended only when he was safe on the opposite wall. The sea of sharp glints littering his wake made one thing very clear:

                      No floors.

                      Carefully, watching for opportunistic enemies, he clambered around the pillars. A thin grey pall of smoke drifted lazily skywards, belying the frenzied actions taking place at the heart of the cloud. Again, intuition urged him not to linger, so he sprinted across the uniform bridge to the next tower in a single burst, pleasantly surprised to find the surface clear of hazards. However, there was more than one way to spring a trap, the defenders at the back of the room set to pose an even greater risk: the elevated marksman notching his bow, the heavy armament pushed into place by a trio of snipers, the cleaver sword drawn from its master's scabbard and the shuffling feet of about two dozen pikemen. And then...

                      ”HOOOOOOAAAHHHH!"

                      The booming cry, which pierced all other sounds, prompted the stairway's soldiers to cast their grappling hooks against the nearest towers and leap out of harm's way, a ballista bolt colliding with the dragoon.
                      Last edited by Calibur; 05-03-2020, 02:50 PM.

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                      • #12
                        Shuju was almost done with his group but a roar from the back of the giant hall caught their attention. Every conscious member of the group then quickly scrammed like their lives depended on it. They jumped off the platform and used grappling hooks to reach a tower to Shuju’s right. It must have meant that the sound was a code for something bad about to happen and Shuju needed to either move like they did or devise a method to protect himself, but from what?

                        Before he could even react a blindingly fast projectile struck the Dragoon’s armor, cracking it in the process. The big puppet managed to maintain balance, but just barely. Thankfully that was enough to avoid falling off the platform and into oblivion.

                        The puppeteer knew he needed to move before being struck with another similar projectile or worse. He knew his puppets could take it, but he wasn’t quite as durable. Maru and Sarumi leapt ahead with Yoshi right behind them. Souma and Yuu moved behind the puppeteer. A 2-1-1-2 formation as Shuju would call it.

                        The area had many dangers all over it. Off to his right across the gap was the group that he was fighting. They still had some fight in them but they didn’t seem to be ranged fighters, which was perfect so he continued sprinting straight forward, aiming get past the point where the two staircases met to avoid another direct encounter with the earlier group. The priority was the sniper since he posed the greater threat.

                        Shuju’s team managed to pass the intersection successfully and as they moved in formation another bolt struck, that time hitting Maru in the leg. The big puppet’s let broke, it lost balance and stumbled face first onto the ground. The sniper was good, aiming with intelligence against the puppet with an unprotected leg. The sniper also needed to be dead soon.

                        The Barbarian despite being partially immobilized stood back up, balancing on one leg. It was still far from useless. It served as a roadblock for any that wanted to approach the puppeteer from behind.

                        That bastard is dangerous. I’ll power through and get to him.
                        Last edited by Kapeesh; 04-29-2020, 10:45 PM.


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                        • #13
                          Tanryoku had no such warning; no strange sounds, no revealing warp of firelight. The arrow that found him pierced the space between pillars as he attempted to run over the curving masonry into which they were set to avoid the tower’s floor. He barked in genuine surprise as the arrowhead tore a chunk of flesh and fabric from his left shoulder, and he spun, momentarily losing regulation of the chakra sent to his left foot and sliding several feet down the surface of the tower. Face to the cold stone, he caught his breath, only to find a curtain of ropes springing up around him with enemies dangling from their ends.

                          The nearest, a ragged-haired young man with a desert wolf pelt around his waist, was only two feet from Tanryoku’s lowest foot, waving a scimitar in his free hand as he scrambled to find purchase. Worse, the man’s next nearest companion had spied Tanryoku and was trying to get Wolf-Pelt’s attention. Grimly, the injured Jounin drew a freshly sharpened kunai. The first rope to go was Wolf-Pelt’s. His scream was swallowed by the thick churning mist below the tower. Perhaps spurred on by her cohort’s fate, Wolf-Pelt’s ambitious ally had plucked the knife from between her teeth had gained another foot, crazed eyes staring up at Tanryoku through thick frizzy hair.

                          Not today.

                          Having regained full command of his chakra, Tanryoku hopped over her rope, then scrambled a little higher before sawing at the dry coiled hemp. The curve in the tower still protected him from the single archer, but there were at least five suspended enemies on this tower alone to contend with — four now — each clambering toward the upper platform in an effort to outmanoeuvre him. Below, the puppet posse sped further ahead, down the massive staircase to where Tanryoku could see it split, the other branch feeding into a platform around the next closest tower. It was also near the solid ground where the majority of the remaining fighters were stationed, pikes and long-reach weapons readied as they stepped out of shadows.

                          “Copy that. Bowman’s got me pinned down. Reckon we’ve both got our hands full.”

                          By his third rope, the rest of the hanging troops — about two dozen or so heavily-armed spider-people — had noticed his handiwork and, calling to each other, had almost fully scaled their own towers. Traps aside (which they probably knew how to disarm), the odds weren’t good.

                          — — —

                          On the other side of the chamber, from his lofty perch in the far corner, Tansekiro the Eagle narrowed his eyes. His quarry was playing hard to get. The other one was barreling through, ever closer to Otei’s heavy artillery and the two score of infantrymen under Nobuo’s command, which he’d already arrayed in a new defensive formation. Surely the three generals were more than a match for two disadvantaged intruders. Even if they were shinobi.
                          Last edited by Calibur; 05-03-2020, 01:37 PM.

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                          • #14
                            Shuju and his group maintained a similar shape to his original formation, having lost Maru’s mobility but it was actually a blessing in disguise. The group at the back were chasing after the puppeteer’s crew so Maru did a solid job of halting their progress. It was a tight passage so that allowed the barbarian puppet to cover it quite well while avoiding being overwhelmed by their numbers. It did a lot of wailing mostly to repel the opposing crew but it did manage to land a few blunt hits with its big shield.

                            Meanwhile the rest of Shuju’s group climbed up the slope and went on to face the sniper head on just as he fired his nasty bolt. The sniper managed to land another blow against the dragoon but that second one did far more damage given the closer distance. The bolt tore right through the puppet’s head which meant that Shuju couldn’t rely on its eyes anymore but it wasn’t a bad situation. He still had functioning visuals on his other puppets and through himself.

                            Right after having its face pierced the dragoon puppet leapt forward as it lunged its spear forward, aiming to hit the man’s chest. It seemed that he was almost taken by surprise, not expecting the same puppet that had its head destroyed also attacked him but he was a swift one despite being a stealthy-looking crossbow man. The sniper dodged to the side while reloading with great efficiency. He started pointing the crossbow at Shuju’s direction but the puppeteer was an expert at staying alive and avoiding harm. The puppeteer positioned himself to get behind Sarumi and his raised shield just as the sniper shot. The bolt struck against the shield and punched through it. Sarumi ended up having the bolt stuck in his shield so as a counter it jumped forward trying to bash the opponent with said bolt.

                            The archer once again demonstrated his nimbleness and dodged by leaping backward but instead of reloading that time he clicked on a device in his palm and that definitely wasn’t a good thing. The click was immediately followed by about a dozen javelins that were launched from the wall behind the sniper and they managed to batter Sarumi by hitting it in multiple limbs. Thankfully it was the puppet with the most protection but succession of impacts took a toll on the puppet’s joints.

                            At the same time Maru was starting to get overwhelmed at the point it was guarding. It did manage to knock off a few of the bandits off the platform but its capabilities were limited, having only one leg and no support group. It was eventually torn apart by the approaching threat from the back.

                            I need to handle this sneaky sonuva before turning my attention to those damn goons.


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                            • #15
                              With his attention divided between the lofty marksman, the troops on the bridge and the battle below, Tanryoku had run short on both both time and terrain. Not opportunity, however, which was all he really needed to make a decision. Sure, he could rise to intercept the defenders scrambling to cut off his escape from above, but that would be taking a step backwards, and this mission was all about pressing forwards. Like his partner.

                              A partner who could use a hand.

                              Lifting said hand to run through the necessary seals, the soldier uttered his jutsu incantation with a powerful exhalation, exploding from the side of the tower in a spiralling dive.

                              “Fuuton: Kaze no Yoroi”

                              The firelight around him warped like the aura to a meteor as he arced fifteen feet over the giant stairwell and raised a hand to his comms unit. Mid-flight, he seemed to accrue shadows, and he grinned at the idea of the baffled archer, whose deadly arrows would now not only have missed their prone target but become part of the shinobi’s orbit.

                              “Incoming.”

                              With a trio of arrows whirling about him, Tanryoku crashed Shuju’s party, burying three men under his knees. He rose by rolling into the space between two more, who had been the first to slip past the red-haired puppet. They were thrown apart by the pure concussive force of his jutsu and sent careening off the staircase. His stance low, he switched directions instantly, acting as the rear guard for Shuju’s efforts and protected, for now, from his own enemy sniper. If the puppeteer could handle the heavy bolts, Tanryoku would take care of the rest.

                              Above, the defenders who had so very nearly routed him had resorted to their own ranged weaponry, attempting to put slings and gauntlet crossbows into action, but only adding to Tanryoku’s increasingly nasty-looking armoury. Remaining low to ensure that even shots of theirs accurate enough to crest his circular barrier wouldn’t find his head, he put on a burst of speed and rushed the frozen — and now visibly frightened — barbarian-killers. Those that weren’t forced off the stairs by the pressure of his winds were struck or pierced by borrowed projectiles, while those that didn’t succumb to the tangle of lethal miscellany fell victim to his fists.

                              “I got you, buddy.”

                              — — —

                              Tansekiro cursed, discarding his half-size yumi. Otei wasn’t faring much better. Worse, in fact: the stout crossbowman had seemingly found it a point of pride to engage the puppet bastard in person rather than use the camp’s ballista, while the pikemen had been ordered into a semi-circular formation. Their spear tips bristled around the duelling area, barring access beyond the end of the stairs if Otei should fall. What was that damn swordsman Nobuo thinking, leading from the rear when his cleaver could cut that oversized toy down to size?

                              At any rate, the archer had lost sight of the red blur he’d been tracking. Better to move to the other side of the arena and set up with his full-size yumi — none of these half-assed measures. If Nobuo wanted to hang back and wait for his pikemen’s ranks to be broken, or Otei fancied being impaled on the stuck shield of some headless wooden goon, that was their choice.

                              Scuttling out of sight down the rock passage, Tansekiro paused only at the speaking tube by the stairs.

                              Might wanna limber up, boss. These shinobi mean business.
                              Last edited by Calibur; 05-05-2020, 06:49 AM.

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