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  • Nothing, Nowhere

    In the deep wasteland bordering Kaze no Kuni's towering mesas stood the once blighted settlement of Zoukei, its expanse of adobe structures looking like tombstones scattered around the rocky terrain. The worst of the midday heat passed as the sun sunk towards the horizon and began casting long shadows on the few open areas the town could offer.

    Nested within one of the haphazard village's open dumps stood an equally haphazard team of shinobi, idling like cattle left to graze. The tallest of them, the sculpted and freshly spray-bronzed Len Tetta, stood farthest from the group and repeatedly tossed and swung a length of iron pipe at a baseball, sending it sailing out of sight. He muttered under his breath every time he waited for the ball to return to himself as if deep in thought.

    “Wait for orders...like a bunch of chumps...AGH! As the ball soared back he swung again, cracking the ball against his makeshift bat.

    Nearer the center of the junk pile stood the other member's of Sawamatsu no Motonubu's 'provisional' team of flunkies and drop-outs. The wannabe samurai Garasha carefully picked at an aching tooth with a kunai, whereas the pillow-like Umanosuke couldn't seem to stop squirming and fidgeting while sitting atop a broken wagon wheel.

    “Ooooh, I wanna ask about it.” Umanosuke's teeth chattered as he tried once again to engage his teammate Garasha in conversation. “She wouldn't mind, right? It wouldn't be rude?”

    Stopping only a moment with her mouth half cocked open Garasha let out a tiny grunt of disinterest, then yelped after she accidentally cut her gums. That evening one other genin, a Spartoi, joined the mismatched team of genin rejects. The girl outranked the meager genin and while their team leader was out 'investigating' the location of some kind of cursed artifact or whatever, the Arechihana had direct command of the squad.

    Garasha spoke through cupped fingers as she tried to apply pressure where she cut open her mouth. Sensei said senpai would watch the perimeter, she probably doesn't want to hang out with us kuzu.” Umanosuke made a familiar face and Garasha quickly added “It means trash-”

    ”OUUUUUYA!” Len Tetta howled as he smashed the ball once again, launching the ball into the setting sun and scattering a flock of birds. A cold night approached.
    Last edited by Junge; 07-11-2020, 09:18 PM.
    (Rain Chuunin) Oichi Josuke | (Sand Chuunin) Sawamatsu no Motonubu | (Leaf Chuunin) Hyuuga Kannon
    (Retired Grass Chuunin) Shinshi Gemmei | (Snow Genin) Gonnohyoe | (Mist Genin) Kurusu Ringo
    (Brigade of Light) Chosokabe Muneshige | (Leaf Chuunin) Hong Feiyan
    Shichou Clan GM - Shichou Mission Thread Here!
    Brigade of Light GM - Missions and More!
    I will do any thread, anywhere, anytime. Just PM me!
    Wizlab | Swaps | (AP) | RIP

  • #2







    "Oouwahhhhh!"

    It'd already been an hour since her mom had sat her down, between her knees on the floor, her hands weaving her coils of hair, to re-braid and style her locs. Had Rika been begging her to do it for two days? Yes. Was it fair to focus on that and not the fact it was super painful anddd she was going to be late? Absolutely not. Sure it was her own fault. She wanted to... to look nice. Not because she particularly cared how she looked in that way, but you don't get second chances at a first impressions -- and she really wanted to make a good one. She'd been temporarily assigned to a new genin team and she couldn't leave anything to chance.

    "Hold still, little girl. Only... a little... more...."

    The tension eased a bit as her mom dabbed up a small scoop of cold jell and sliding it along her parts of her hair, greasing her roots and cooling down her reddening scalp. Pressing back into her moms legs, she tilted her head up, was tenderly guided back down, but tried again, resting her head in her mom's lap and staring up at the woman. She really was the most beautiful woman in the world. Or at least Rika, thought so. But she was sure that quite a few people would agree with her. Her finger reached up and twirled a loose loc of the woman's own hair, a tightly coiled and honey brown dreadlock, with spun gold twisted up and down the length of it. She always wanted hers to look like her mama's, long and well-kept and smelling of honey spritz.

    “I promise, mama. I’ll get it right this time. They’ll have to place me on a permanent team."

    The woman sighed heavily, tinged with a light giggle. She’d have to give up trying to perfect the girl's hair. Instead, she sandwiched Rika's face between her palms: like one of the precious flower buds of the Arechihana Clan. Her smile was warm and fuzzy as she gazed down at the upside face, but behind it was something sadder: that her child seemed to place so much of her own worth in the value she could add to this miserable village.

    "Of course you are, baby girl. You’ll do great. Because you are the Jinnchuriki of the Village Hidden in the Sand; the Soldier of Fortune in the Spartoi class; child of the Arechihana Clan and granddaughter of a Jindaikaze; bearer of two kekkei genkai, and strongest person I know. On the outside, and in here.” She pressed her palm on her daughter’s chest, just over her heart, and pulled her into a firm embrace, nestling her face into the newly neatened locks and kissing her head.

    “Don’t you forget: You are enough, Rika.”
    =====================


    She wasn’t late after all, even though the meeting location passed the borders of the village and was squarely in the limits of Zoukei. They’d met along the dunes and molehills of a landfill, littered with trash and the effects of the people who lived on both sides of the dump. The smell wasn’t awful, though. Mostly likely because the people of the village were in the habit of tossing food products in the trash. Compositing was essential to survival in the desert, and anything that did get thrown away would in no time be rid of all its odor-holding moisture by the summer sun. So most of the dumps were filled with actual trash -- furniture, discarded trinkets, old clothes -- sorta like the ball that one of her new teammates was playing with.

    Playing… on a mission. This was one of the things that the academy never prepared Spartoi for: the realization that they had lived very different lives than other academy students. The differences between them were less so around power, and more importantly about their culture. All shinobi were trained to be soldiers. The Spartoi, however, were trained to be weapons, or eventually so anyway. And yes, a part of her wanted that. A big part, even. Bigger than she wanted to admit.

    She did another scan of the parameter. She could see every side of it because, well, she was meters higher than any of her teammates. Nearly six, in fact. She had been floating above the makeshift dunes for a few minutes now, surveying the boundaries of the dump as instructed, but she had completed enough passes. At this point, she was simply stalling. She had to go down. She told herself before she came that she would. Or at least that she would be more sociable. She made a handseal, floated downward towards the group, and made landing on the closest spot devoid of broken bottles and metal.

    “The parameters are all clear…”, she said quickly, having intended to say more but not quite sure what. But she had to say more. She had to… try more. “So… you all… work as a team a lot? I mean, you’re a permanent squad and… stuff?” She exhaled. See, that wasn’t so hard, Rika.


    -----

    Jutsu Used: Magnet Release: Magnetic Levitation
    Last edited by Geisha; 07-12-2020, 08:51 AM.

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    • #3
      From a cloudless and rapidly darkening sky descended the eleven year old superior officer of the absent Motonubu's motley crew. With every member of said crew not being particularly attentive, it took the sound of her voice to finally turn some heads.

      “Ah!” Squeaked Umanosuke.

      “Ah!” Warbled Garasha.

      “Ah- AAAGH!” Len Tetta's diverted attention made him miss his swing and the returning baseball flew past him with a woosh, landing and embedding itself deep into a pile of grimy looking oil filters.

      A short yet heavy pause settled after the Arechihana genin stated her question. Tetta was too busy digging through the trash heap to concern himself with a response, which was good because neither Garasha nor Umanosuke knew how to answer it.

      “Weeeeeeeeeeeee're not really a team,” finally offered Garasha in a half-cracking croak.

      “Provisional team,” Umanosuke mumbled as an addendum as he uncomfortably adjusted his glasses. “Mister Sawamatsu could dismiss us at any time if our performance is bad, so, you know...”

      HOOOOHAAA!” Tetta roared as he pulled the greasy ball out and held it aloft like the skull of a conquered enemy. “There's no way we're a permanent team, you chumps!” Finally rejoining the group he sauntered up to the Spartoi girl and gave his best, most confident swagger. “Once I get my stats back up I'll be transferred to a real genin team, with a real, jounin-rank team captain. Those other two,” He leaned in for a mock whisper, making sure to speak loud enough to be heard anyway, “are on the fast track to shinobi retirement. I wouldn't bother remembering their names.”

      Kuzu,” Garasha repeated in an unaffected tone, reclining back on the tire that served as her throne.
      Last edited by Junge; 07-13-2020, 10:00 PM.
      (Rain Chuunin) Oichi Josuke | (Sand Chuunin) Sawamatsu no Motonubu | (Leaf Chuunin) Hyuuga Kannon
      (Retired Grass Chuunin) Shinshi Gemmei | (Snow Genin) Gonnohyoe | (Mist Genin) Kurusu Ringo
      (Brigade of Light) Chosokabe Muneshige | (Leaf Chuunin) Hong Feiyan
      Shichou Clan GM - Shichou Mission Thread Here!
      Brigade of Light GM - Missions and More!
      I will do any thread, anywhere, anytime. Just PM me!
      Wizlab | Swaps | (AP) | RIP

      Comment


      • #4
        Rika's face stoned.

        Her teammates' (if you could even call them that) words jolted through her backbone and stiffened her posture. There was simply no feeling like that of crushed expectations or dashed hopes. So she wasn't being given a chance to prove herself at all. The exact opposite was true, in fact: she was being nestled out of the way and onto some makeshift team for losers and problem kids.

        She tried to think back on the mission leaflet and its exact details, but couldn't quite remember all the specifics. It was unusual. Something about a "cursed" something or other, but she dismissed her suspicions quickly enough. This was her shot, her way back into the good graces of the village elders. Bullshit. All of it. Hell, at least these guys knew it.

        "Tsk...A...provisional team? You mean… a genin juvvie team?”

        Her fists balled, her jaw clinched… they’d played her life a fool. Her hung head and shoulders began to shake, softly at first but with quickening animation. A murmur… the na squeak… then a… gut rolling laugh, almost uncontrollable, her hand covering her mouth.
        ~~Ahh haaa haaa haaaaaaa~~


        “Oh that’s just fuckin’ rich, yo. Of course, this is the team they’d put me on!

        “Well, it don’t matter.” Doesn’t it?

        “I actually prefer it this way.” Keep it up.

        “I’m sorta ah loner myself.” It’s fine this way.

        She sighed a heavy sigh as if finally recovering from the laughing fit. A hand on her hip, she flung her loose dreads across her shoulder and smiled. “Don’t you guys worry, whatever this BS mission is, I’m sure I can take care of it for ya."

        Comment


        • #5
          Feeling left out Umanosuke contributed his own miniscule nervous laughter to the chagrin of his teammates glares. “Ah...uh...ha ha...yeah...aahh...” The joyless chuckle faded away and was quickly replaced with the boy twisting the cuff of his robe in silence instead. Shinobi work was serious work, as the bookish genin had to be reminded over and over again. It was no place for smiles!

          “So the Boss hasn't barked out any other orders to the rest of you, eh?” Tetta tapped the communication unit in his ear to check if it still worked. “Maybe he's out solvin' the whole case himself. That's how a real professional operates, you know.”

          Having moved on from the toothache and lost interest in the arrival of the Arechihana, Garasha resigned herself to fate and began tossing her kunai back and forth between her bandaged fingers. “You mean real professionals don't bounce baseballs off people's homes?” The wry statement earned a sour 'tch!' from Tetta, but otherwise left his feathers unruffled. It took a deeper cut than that to bring out his temper.

          “Uh, Miss Arechihana!” Umanosuke's high pitched voice peeked out from beneath the awkward silence. “I have a question, if you don't mind!”

          The piercing 'you better not' stares once again snapped towards the young boy, but the fading rays of sunlight kept Umanosuke from noticing this time. “I've heard- uh, that you can, uh, I'm not trying to pry, but, it's just, it's really rare to find people like that, and uh, you know,” Each word stumbled over the last as if all that time he spent carefully picking out the words went to waste.

          Their teammates utter lack of diplomacy once again looked to rear its ugly head and they could do nothing but watch the train wreck unfold.

          “You can do that, uh, street dancing, right? Like-” As if anyone needed a visual aid he began making some tone deaf noises in an imitation of a beat and flapped his arms around, clearly indicating his lack of rhythm. “Or, no, maybe it was more like this...”

          Curling in from between the twisted alleys of Zoukei drifted a thin, soot-like smoke. Wrapped in the early evening darkness it was almost unnoticeable. It seemed to settle in the expanding shadows, lingering like stray dogs do when waiting to be fed.
          Last edited by Junge; 07-27-2020, 07:37 PM.
          (Rain Chuunin) Oichi Josuke | (Sand Chuunin) Sawamatsu no Motonubu | (Leaf Chuunin) Hyuuga Kannon
          (Retired Grass Chuunin) Shinshi Gemmei | (Snow Genin) Gonnohyoe | (Mist Genin) Kurusu Ringo
          (Brigade of Light) Chosokabe Muneshige | (Leaf Chuunin) Hong Feiyan
          Shichou Clan GM - Shichou Mission Thread Here!
          Brigade of Light GM - Missions and More!
          I will do any thread, anywhere, anytime. Just PM me!
          Wizlab | Swaps | (AP) | RIP

          Comment


          • #6
            This was one of the moments she dreaded most about meeting new people. That feeling of being completely exposed and vulnerable to the whims of others, she hated it. And yet, she could never escape it. She was always in hiding, always keeping a secret, even when it was the worst kept secret of all. Even when it was no secret at all. She was the Sand’s Jinchuuriki. But did that have to mean she was everyone’s?

            The inaudible crunch of teeth, the flexing of the muscles commonly associated with protecting oneself from embarrassment, a furrowed but well manicured set of brows, she was ready to face it. The question everyone asks…

            “… uh, what? Dancing?”

            She was taken aback. She’d have admitted as much. Her hand reflexively grabbed at her necklace, twirling it between her bright fuchsia lacquer nails, a sign of nervousness, to be sure? Or, maybe it was something else? Her hand, brought to chain to her full lips, along her the back of her hand, and she laughed again. This time, more gently, and more… authentically.

            “You’re… kinda funny, ya know that? Um, yeah, I do the dancing. Kinokozaku-fu — if you want I could—"

            GiRLLL

            Her nose perked up. But at what? She stopped talking mid-sentence and furrowed her brow, snapping her head towards the distant piles of garbage. Nothing visible, but something was there. She could feel it or smell it or, well, she wasn’t sure what the sensation was.

            “Are any of you sensory-type ninja?” She scanned the area again, but unsure what she was supposed to be looking for. What is that? “Something’s up but I can’t tell precisely without... I just can’t tell.”

            Damn it. Where is the captain?

            Comment


            • #7
              “He sees one show three weeks ago and won't shut up about it.” Talking through his nostrils Tetta turned from the group and looked to resume his batting practice, ignoring their interim leader's concerns. “Why's a grown man like me gotta be stuck with all these children...” Taking bold, striding steps the genin walked his oblivious self straight into the roiling fog. “What's the matter, scared of the dark!”

              This was quickly followed by a prolonged and gut-wrenching “AGH! MONSTER!”

              A gnarled hand shot out from a crawling figure down low, grabbing Tetta by the leg and throwing him off balance. The genin scampered backwards and began blindly groping for his baseball bat as the grizzled countenance of what could only be the foul smelling, hideous body of the spirit of death itself emerged from the deepening shadows.

              In that stark darkness the tiniest ember of light floated like a mote of dust right in front of the crawling abomination, providing only the barest illumination of the creature's face. “Bloody hell,” Sawamatsu no Motonubu growled, the cigarette at his parched lips dancing with every strained word. “Keep it down, people are trying to go to bed.”

              “Ah, sensei! Garasha excitedly hopped to her feet only for her face to contort into disgust at the haggard appearance of their team captain. Not that the chuunin was exactly eye candy in the first place, but he looked considerably worse than that morning. His skin's complexion darkened to a sickening, rotten greyish-green and was so thin you could see the branching veins. What was once well defined muscle now lay sunken and sagging, like overripe fruit. Even his clothes looked to be in tatters- not from battle damage, but as his cloak and uniform had been eaten by fifty years of moths.

              It was undoubtedly Motonubu, though. The voice and attitude alone gave that away. Cloudy eyes strained to look at the now attentive and morbidly curious group of genin. Using the last bit of strength he could muster Motonubu pulled himself close enough for all four to hear his hoarse orders. “Kill something,” he grunted with great effort, slamming a misshapen, contorted looking dagger into the earth in front of him, “with this.”


              “Something big. Stray dogs or camels will not be sufficient.”

              A gawking Umanosuke jumped in immediately. “Wait, you have to explain-”

              “Do it,” the chuunin wheezed, “or you will be returning to Sunagakure with my corpse.” Those words were all that could be squeezed out of him and in the next instant his eyes glazed over. Motonubu collapsed.
              (Rain Chuunin) Oichi Josuke | (Sand Chuunin) Sawamatsu no Motonubu | (Leaf Chuunin) Hyuuga Kannon
              (Retired Grass Chuunin) Shinshi Gemmei | (Snow Genin) Gonnohyoe | (Mist Genin) Kurusu Ringo
              (Brigade of Light) Chosokabe Muneshige | (Leaf Chuunin) Hong Feiyan
              Shichou Clan GM - Shichou Mission Thread Here!
              Brigade of Light GM - Missions and More!
              I will do any thread, anywhere, anytime. Just PM me!
              Wizlab | Swaps | (AP) | RIP

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