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  • Smash the World's Shell

    “Take a look at these beauties, eh?”

    Josuke's gas mask turned downwards to peer into the large trunk as the trader opened it up. There, nestled among a substantial amount of dry yellow hay, lay the objects of Amegakure's interest. The chuunin scarcely got to look at the strange artifacts for longer than a second before the lid of the trunk slammed down tight.

    “Thirty thousand each.”
    The trader rubbed his fingers together. The eye holes of Josuke's gas mask turned towards the imposing presence of his 'partner' for this job, a ronin Amegakure seemed to be employing more often than not as of late. The samurai was reliable. She also crazy skilled. That combination scared the piss out of Josuke. This would be their third job together yet he was still waiting for her to stab him in the back. To add to that paranoia, in her possession was a suitcase of filthy surface money, since Josuke couldn't be trusted not to drop it. With the way the boat was rocking back and forth that possibility felt too real.

    “I only saw four. I thought there was supposed to be more.”
    The chuunin spoke in a flat, consistent tone and volume, just loud enough to be heard over a radio blaring some cutesy pop song on the deck above them. A powerful cocktail of medication kept the edges of his terrific fear at bay, almost making him sound professional.

    “Take it or leave it, bub.” The trader grunted and pointed an incriminating finger at the young shinobi. “I could report your sorry mug to the Militia and have you arrested-” He snapped, and Josuke flinched. “Just like that.”

    The river beneath the vessel churned as another gust of wind from the storm outside rattled its wooden frame. Some small portholes let in the small amount of light that could filter in through the afternoon clouds. The shadowy bowels of the cargo ship didn't do much to hide the hulking bodyguards of the merchant, though. Then again this man probably wanted his muscle to be seen- shinobi or not, starting trouble in a confined space with so many hostile bodies was pure suicide.

    He turned and held out one of his long arms to the samurai guarding Amegakure's precious funds. “Let's pay him and get out of here.”
    (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
    "Easy," The samurai said, settling the suitcase down on the floor before her, kneeling down and flicking up each clasp with deliberate theatrics. "This guy looks tough and all but he's actually a coward. Always one step away from a heart attack."

    She pulled bundled bills from the suitcase while obscuring the full contents with the lid. She could feel the merchant leering down the front of her robe. She had set her jaw. "Three, six, nine, twelve."

    She produced stacks of cash bound together with small loops of twine between her fingers as she counted, lobbing them over to the merchant every time she called a grouping. They smelled of stale cigarette smoke and clinical sterile cleaning agents - - something she had learned to attribute to Amegakure. Or, at the very least, Oichi-san. She snapped the suitcase shut again and click-click-clicked the clasps back down before stretching back up to her full height.

    If anything was going to go wrong on something as simple as a buy order, it would be while she was working with the ninja from Rain. He had a habit of attracting trouble, even when there wasn't supposed to be any. He was good at getting out of a pinch, but that was probably experience gained from getting into them. How someone as skiddish as him was so capable to stick that giant nose of his mask into so much trouble was a mystery to the woman: She wasn't completely convinced it wasn't some sort of act.

    "We have an agreement?"

    "I do like the no-nonsense act." The merchant shoved the trunk forward across the table, and as the boat shifted it slid dramatically towards the pair. There was a cracking sound as the samurai's wooden sandal snapped against the trunk to keep it from careening it to the floor.

    "Your turn," She said to Josuke, soft volume of her voice not diluting the barking order. She pulled away from the trunk as the boat leveled out and nodded her chin at the merchant. "You don't even have to dock. We can jump."
    �Nara Shikagerou, Sennin of Leaf.
    �Hyuuga Yuu, Genin of Leaf.
    �Sanada Ema, Chuunin of Leaf.
    �Gushiken Ren, Chuunin of Mist.
    �Hikoboshi no Natsu, Miko of Wind.
    �Sajime Sahori, Jounin of Stone.
    �Kiku-ichimonji Jun'ko, ronin samurai.
    �Hatsuyuki Shiro, renegade shinobi.
    �Keisei Ranko, The Prince of the Keisei.
    Available for Registry Checks
    Engi Tech || Leaf & Stone Secondary GM
    Important NPCs: Higashi

    Maybe it's the patterns that make me that made me crazy
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    • #3
      Both parties moved with a stunning synchronicity. As the merchant leafed through the stacks of bills Josuke hoisted the heavy lid of the trunk upwards to further inspect the bounty. Despite the copious amount of hay serving as filler only a few small objects rested inside. Josuke’s gloved palms dug through the packing material but no more of the lustrous artifacts he sought could be found. One of the strange objects he plucked out to look at closer. The thing looked like a glass egg, except that it seemed to reflect light in odd ways. Staring through it was like looking into a broken mirror. As he turned to look through it towards his companion he saw a dozen different images of her imposing form split up across different parts of the egg’s ‘shell’. The way the light bent it almost looked as though she had a different expression in each reflection.

      It was a cute novelty, maybe something that would keep a child entertained for an evening. What on earth made it so valuable to Amegakure? That was a question outside Josuke’s pay grade.

      Failing to locate any additional artifacts he quickly slammed the box shut, but only after discretely palming and pocketing its contents into the voluminous folds of his coat, just in case anyone tried anything funny. With the job complete his attention focused on the next big task- going home without getting murdered along the way.

      Eager to get away from the oppressive and hostile atmosphere on board the boat the chuunin and his ronin teammate left without any complications. As usual his rat-like cowardice screamed at him to shunshin away, buting oneself as a shinobi in this part of the country, even if just for a moment, could lead to disaster. There would be no choice but to walk.

      Yet their departure proved completely uneventful. After an hour or so of crossing desolate rice paddies they reached the crossroads where they were to separate. Even as Josuke tepidly handed over the ronin’s payment for the job nothing transpired. It looked as though the mercenary wouldn't be stabbing him in the back. Not today, at least.

      Josuke gave the tall woman a polite bow as their transaction completed. “May you have a safe journey home, Miss Kiku-ichimon-“ Josuke’s mumbled platitude disappeared as an enormous baboom swallowed it entirely. The chest strapped across his back detonated with lethal force and spray blood and muddy raindrops in a wide radius. It wasn’t clear if the blast had decapitated him or simply blown Josuke's skull into meaty chunks, but either way the chuunin’s headless body tumbled into the soggy road underfoot with a splash. Voices began shouting even while the blast still echoed through the curtains of rain.

      “The ronin is still alive! Take her out!”
      Last edited by Junge; 01-11-2020, 01:48 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
        I can’t see.

        There was pain unlike any she had known before, but it was swallowed under the sudden darkness that had over taken her. A darkness more complete than she could have ever imagined - - complete and total blindness. She could feel something dripping down her face like blood or tears, but she could reach her hands up to brush whatever it was away. Her arms just didn’t want to move, but the sudden shift in the weight of her body told her maybe they just weren’t there anymore.

        There was a familiar smell in the air, of black powder and blood, and her stomach threatened to turn over for a moment. Even with the pain and the darkness, she could hear the rustling of something coming towards her after the cry to take her out, so she lashed out like a wounded beast. She spun on her hips and brought the heel of her foot into someone’s throat or face - - she couldn’t tell what, aside from the sudden gurgle in pain. She tried to readjust herself, but without her arms responding, she stumbled a step and felt a blade pierced through her stomach, and then another through her back. She had always wondered what it would feel like to have your lung punctured, it felt just like - -

        “Take a look at these beauties, eh?”


        Her ears were ringing and she felt something moist on her face, like blood or tears - - she absently brushed her hand against her face and sneered a bit at the grimy, oily water that had sputtered up from the paddleboat’s leaky roof. What amounted to an office felt like a place where someone might be lingering just out of sight, ready with a knife for no good. Maybe the man from Rain’s anxiety was washing off on her - - of all the things he could claim as something resembling competency, his anxiety would be the death of him one day. It wasn’t something she’d like to learn from him.

        “I only saw three. I thought there was supposed to be more.” He said in his flat tone. She could just barely hear it over the radio, blasting some pop song above through bouts of static.

        “Easy,” She said, putting a hand between the trader and Jousuke.” She rested her hand on the suitcase for a moment before flicking the clasps up quickly. "This guy looks tough and all but he's actually a coward. Always one step away from a heart attack."

        After they made the trade and were left off the boat, the samurai let out a short whistle.

        “Hey, ninja. You didn’t drug me on the sly or anything, did you?” She didn’t make eye contact with the lenses on his mask, looking out over the growing rice. “Something doesn’t feel right. Maybe we should split off now.”
        �Nara Shikagerou, Sennin of Leaf.
        �Hyuuga Yuu, Genin of Leaf.
        �Sanada Ema, Chuunin of Leaf.
        �Gushiken Ren, Chuunin of Mist.
        �Hikoboshi no Natsu, Miko of Wind.
        �Sajime Sahori, Jounin of Stone.
        �Kiku-ichimonji Jun'ko, ronin samurai.
        �Hatsuyuki Shiro, renegade shinobi.
        �Keisei Ranko, The Prince of the Keisei.
        Available for Registry Checks
        Engi Tech || Leaf & Stone Secondary GM
        Important NPCs: Higashi

        Maybe it's the patterns that make me that made me crazy
        (a r t i f i c a l f a n t a s y)
        (swaps [AP] items)
        (threads)

        Comment


        • #5
          When all was said and done, the suitcase of war funds still held a tidy sum of surface cash. There hadn't been as much to buy so change was expected. Useless to an Amegakure shinobi, of course. Maybe his armed escort could use it?

          The ronin waited outside for Josuke as he hauled the large trunk filled mostly with hay onto his back. Outside the rain drizzled its usually fuzzy drizzle. The forest could be seen from where the boat laid anchor, but not much more. They must have stopped in a sparse rural area with few travellers. “No news is good news.” Josuke held up the briefcase, offering it to the samurai. “Your tip.” There wasn’t supposed to be any leftovers but…this hadn’t been the first time Amegakure’s intel had been wrong. Internally the chuunin was struggling with how to explain to his superiors about how the dozens of precious artifacts he’d been sent to recover was now just three.

          Hearing the ronin's plan Josuke's masked head nodded slowly. “Agreed. No need for us to stay together now. Amegakure will get in touch again if another job comes up. Hopefully they can all be as uneventful as this one.” As the pair walked into the foliage and outside the prying eyes of the smugglers Josuke unburdened the trunk from himself, plopping it unceremoniously down into the mud.

          “If you are feeling unwell I can do a quick diagnosis. Swamp flu is going around this time of year.”
          Truthfully the chuunin wanted absolutely nothing more to do than to flee, but as usual that insufferable need to help people always cropped up at times like this. He could medicate away the fear and the pain but to date the boy hadn’t found a drug that could quench his dumb dedication to service.

          Reaching into his coat he pulled out a small penlight, useless for illumination but handy to have for checking pupil reactions. “Try looking up and to the left, if you have a pink spot on your sclera…” He raised the light up to meet the woman’s face but kept his own vision diverted. Even during a vision test Josuke hated making eye contact. He just needed something else to focus on. Like a bird, or a particularly colorful flower, or those horse tracks, or some shapely rocks-

          Tracks. Tracks. Unlike underground, on the hellish surface world the ground was routine scoured by the rain and wind. Part of the reason Amegakure could operate so openly here was because of how the weather regularly washed away evidence. Of course, it wasn’t unusual to find muddy footprints of animals up on the surface. It just meant they’d been around recently. And therein lay the reason to panic.

          “Someone…”
          Josuke turned, his attention now completely off from the ronin. “I didn’t even think to check. Someone was following the shore.” Sure enough the horse tracks could be seen trailing back upriver. Coincidence? On cue the rain began to intensify.
          Last edited by Junge; 01-11-2020, 01:48 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
            The steady percussion of rain around them was almost hypnotic, helping drive away the anxiety from the sudden attack of deja vu. Everything was slipping away with the water, and Josuke’s penlight almost seemed like a small comfort amongst the humidity. He was difficult, in that way - - disarmingly incompetent yet deadly all the same. She had seen what he could do when his nose was pressed down into the mud. She never felt like she could truly trust him, so everytime she started to let her guard around him, she felt guilty for it.

            And it seemed like every time she let the tension out of her shoulders around him, something else happened, like his sudden outburst that they had been followed. Had they? She was more than keen enough to keep an eye out for followers, but in the mucky muck and rain of Amegakure, it took a different set of skills entirely. Her hand was already twisting around the handle of her blade as he started to move. There was never an excuse to relax.

            Something has felt off all day. This whole operation feels like a set up.” She broke her gaze away from him and his tracks and gripped her free hand around the reward cashe. Set-ups or not, she needed to get paid, and a little bonus thanks to Josuke wasn’t something she was going to pass up. She wondered why he couldn’t feel it too, that weird sense of danger - - but the way he popped pills to control his mental state, he was probably always on edge like this.

            Explained the twitching, anyway.

            Since you paid me this extra, I’ll guard you until we get back to your village.” Fair was fair, after all. “Besides, I think I’d just get lost trying to find my way back to civilization.
            �Nara Shikagerou, Sennin of Leaf.
            �Hyuuga Yuu, Genin of Leaf.
            �Sanada Ema, Chuunin of Leaf.
            �Gushiken Ren, Chuunin of Mist.
            �Hikoboshi no Natsu, Miko of Wind.
            �Sajime Sahori, Jounin of Stone.
            �Kiku-ichimonji Jun'ko, ronin samurai.
            �Hatsuyuki Shiro, renegade shinobi.
            �Keisei Ranko, The Prince of the Keisei.
            Available for Registry Checks
            Engi Tech || Leaf & Stone Secondary GM
            Important NPCs: Higashi

            Maybe it's the patterns that make me that made me crazy
            (a r t i f i c a l f a n t a s y)
            (swaps [AP] items)
            (threads)

            Comment


            • #7
              The offer lingered, like a raindrop dangling from the tip of a leaf. Josuke's mask remained frozen in one direction as if focused on something distant. His hand still held up the light despite the samurai having already moved away from it.

              Seconds ticked by.










              “N-”


              The earth ripped open as the explosive lined chest detonated. A wave of concussive force blew Josuke clean off his feet and tossed his thin body into the forest mud. Debris splattered and tree trunks shattered as the explosion tore into the surroundings. Where Josuke absentmindedly put the crate down to rest only a smoldering crater remained.

              His mask provided only a cursory protection to his senses. Quickly blinking his useless eyes he confirmed they hadn't been gouged out by shrapnel, and shaking his head the medic determined his ringing ears were deafened, but the eardrums hadn't burst. The sudden lack of sight or sound was because of shock, not any physical damage.

              The rain of crossbow bolts that followed, though, would do plenty of harm. An all too familiar series of piercing thunks struck his flank, deflected only slightly by the ceramic armor he wore underneath his protective layers. Even without a clear idea of what was going on his body lurched back onto two feet and his crooked hands flung together into a mess of sloppy hand seals. At this point his survival instinct held full control.

              As each sense returned the awful reality of the situation became more apparent. A shambling, malformed mud beast pulled itself from the earth and hurled itself at the back line of Militia Calvary, lessening their ability to pelt their targets with a barrage of projectiles. Josuke's body jerked at an odd angle to throw itself over a tree trunk knocked over in the blast, then two of him emerged to split out running in different directions. Militia bloodhounds tore into the first, ripping muddy chunks from the clone's throat. Flanking foot soldiers surrounded and tore apart the second with their spears.

              Still huddled behind his log Josuke's entire body froze as his mind went up in flames. The samurai, was she okay? Was it worth checking to see if she needed help, or should he just book it? Now was an ideal time to use that time honored shinobi art of running away, shunshin, but it would mean abandoning an ally.

              Could you really call a mercenary like her an ally? She would ditch him in a second, wouldn't she?

              The voices of the militia grew more distinct as their formation drew tighter.

              Last edited by Junge; 03-08-2020, 10:11 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


              • #8
                The samurai held her swords aloft, one in each hand, with her back pressed against the truck of a tree. She was struggling to see anything through dazed eyes, her jaw locked forward in a defiant stance against the impending doom of the militia attack. A hound leapt towards her, but her muscles twitched at the sound of paws leaving the mud during the lunge, her steel flashing reflections of the pitter-patter rain and arcing out a clean crescent of blood that revealed the deadly range of her sword strikes, too fast to track. She was fighting on instinct, a cornered animal, but her movements were a sword-dance of practiced repetition. Did the mud underneath even slow down the samurai, as she stepped forward, eyes furious and blind, as she cut a crossbow bolt from the air?

                Bastards!” She howled. “Is there ever respite from your kind?”

                Said bastards moved in quickly, one scoffing as he dropped his crossbow and pulled a machete (previously used for cutting away the tall grass) and moved in onto her. An other, more genre savvy, took a kneeling position and lined up his shot a bit more carefully. As the samurai’s blade cut through the neck of the approaching machete-man, his bolt pierced her shoulder and splintered against the bone underneath. He tutted his tongue as her grip on her sword didn’t seem to weaken at all, and he cranked to reload. “How many shots to kill a samurai?”

                The captain next to him tapped his spear absently against his shoulder. “At least one more.”

                The hounds were circling around them all, but if the samurai felt fear, she didn’t show it. The second bolt crashed into her chest and caused her to let out a groan of pain, falling back to the tree trunk, eyes clearing as she settled her gaze on the crossbowman.

                The dogs moved in closer, jaws snapping.
                �Nara Shikagerou, Sennin of Leaf.
                �Hyuuga Yuu, Genin of Leaf.
                �Sanada Ema, Chuunin of Leaf.
                �Gushiken Ren, Chuunin of Mist.
                �Hikoboshi no Natsu, Miko of Wind.
                �Sajime Sahori, Jounin of Stone.
                �Kiku-ichimonji Jun'ko, ronin samurai.
                �Hatsuyuki Shiro, renegade shinobi.
                �Keisei Ranko, The Prince of the Keisei.
                Available for Registry Checks
                Engi Tech || Leaf & Stone Secondary GM
                Important NPCs: Higashi

                Maybe it's the patterns that make me that made me crazy
                (a r t i f i c a l f a n t a s y)
                (swaps [AP] items)
                (threads)

                Comment


                • #9
                  A rain of steel fell on all sides. Bark splintered and earth split where the wayward bolts fell. A few pained yelps indicated even the Militia bloodhounds weren't immune to friendly fire. The chaotic blitz was the only way to get the edge over someone like the Iron Maiden.

                  Two packs of beasts swept in from both flanks and aimed for the thick, meaty calves of their prey- and came out with only mouthfuls of mud. Josuke's mud beast swirled and coiled around the tree that the samurai leaned against for support and swatted the animals away with one bat of its otherwise nonfunctional wings. For once Josuke's ninjutsu looked more like a monster than a mess.

                  That was because the real mess was already more than a mile away. Each of Josuke's lurches through the wetlands tore up the vegetation and left a trail even a moron could track. The boy simply didn't have it in him to do otherwise. The distant sounds of battle faded, and eventually died out completely. Soon the only noise the chuunin could hear were the raindrops on his mask, and the pounding of his heart.

                  It was better this way, right?

                  The mercenary was a skilled soldier. She could handle herself. Josuke would just get in the way.

                  Weren't they about to split up anyway? What did he owe it to her?

                  Amegakure always came first!

                  Chest heaving Josuke sunk to his knees and waited. There was nothing else he could do. Nothing.

                  (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


                  • #10
                    “A clone,” One of the bastards tutted his tongue as he watched the dogs tear apart the facsimile of Josuke.

                    The samurai turned her head to catch the last of the mud splattering away as the construct lost its magic and fell away to nothing, eyes lingering for a moment on the trail that gave away his escape. She moved a few paces and leveled her blade across the path, threatening off the approach of any of the militia. She couldn’t find any blame for him not to be willing to make some final stand here, but she was too ragged to follow his escape. Even if she bolted the other way to try and split their numbers, the militia would be down on them before either of them could hide away…

                    There was a cackle of laughter from the soldiers at her stance, elegant but pathetic, blood and mud splattered against the foliage of the Rain Country. Her eyes remained sharp, but her muscles spasmed in her stance and made her look inexperienced and weak.

                    “Well?” She thrust her words out, forcefully through her injuries. “Who’s the next to get cut down?”

                    “We’ll root you all out, one way or the other.” One said, making a flourish with his spear before moving forward with a vigorous thrust. There was a flash of the samurai’s blade and the spear’s wooden shaft was cut clean in two. He sneered and took a step back, casually tossing a dagger from his sleeve as he did so. She parried it, and the blade spun in the air for a few moments before falling to be lost in the mud.

                    The least she could do would to be make time for that ninja to get away.
                    �Nara Shikagerou, Sennin of Leaf.
                    �Hyuuga Yuu, Genin of Leaf.
                    �Sanada Ema, Chuunin of Leaf.
                    �Gushiken Ren, Chuunin of Mist.
                    �Hikoboshi no Natsu, Miko of Wind.
                    �Sajime Sahori, Jounin of Stone.
                    �Kiku-ichimonji Jun'ko, ronin samurai.
                    �Hatsuyuki Shiro, renegade shinobi.
                    �Keisei Ranko, The Prince of the Keisei.
                    Available for Registry Checks
                    Engi Tech || Leaf & Stone Secondary GM
                    Important NPCs: Higashi

                    Maybe it's the patterns that make me that made me crazy
                    (a r t i f i c a l f a n t a s y)
                    (swaps [AP] items)
                    (threads)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Ame no Kuni's darkness was nothing like Amegakure's. When the sun set Josuke moved much more freely, more used to the comfort of shadow than the horrors of daylight. Hours that felt like days had passed. It was stupid- this was stupid. He told himself that over and over each time he nearly tripped over a tree root.

                      Yet the chuunin, after making a clean escape, now made the arduous journey back to where he completely abandoned the samurai. He knew he was drawing closer to the location as the frequency of crossbow bolts stuck in the mud increased. Eventually came bodies, and the boy knew he arrived.

                      Stupid. Stupid. A biting guilt tore through him as he stumbled across the abandoned battlefield. How could he just ditch a comrade like that? Over something- something as stupid as this! The shame twisted into anger, and he pulled out one of the crystalline eggs. Despite the lack of illumination its many faceted surfaces continued to distort and refract the world around it. Josuke nearly tumbled over a bisected body, stopping his death march as he fell against a tree. A single, haggard sob escaped his lungs.

                      He saw his hunched over form mirrored in the lens of the egg. Torn clothes hung from his drooped shoulders like rags on a beggar. The night vision built into his mask didn't hide the pathetic form reflected in his hand. Was the samurai among these bodies? Even if she survived, how could Josuke face her after leaving her to die like a dog? The oath he swore in secret repeated itself over and over in his head. To serve, especially when needed most. How could he have been so stupid!

                      For a fraction of a second something whipped past his eye. It was there- in the crystal's reflection! Someone stood over him, a feminine frame with long hair- it had to be her, right?! His posture shot up and he turned around, only to see nothing but the dark jungle. More shame hit him like a gut punch.

                      Hallucinations, of course. Along with the mood swings...Josuke was experiencing withdraw.

                      Now came the frustration, directed at many things but mostly himself. He was in a compromised position, endangering the mission, all for...all for this stupid egg! Josuke rarely acted on impulse but something about doing this...it just felt right.

                      His arm snapped around and hurled the precious artifact straight into the nearest tree. It shattered with an ear-cracking crash, and the world fell to pieces.



                      “Take a look at these beauties, eh?”
                      Last edited by Junge; 05-07-2020, 11:33 AM.
                      (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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                      • #12
                        It was a lot of money, for two little jewel-crafted eggshells. Honestly, they were quite beautiful, but the samurai couldn’t quite put her finger on why she felt so relieved to see the pair of shimmering toys. As the shinobi and the samurai left the nearly sinking barge to head back towards Amegakure, she felt a weird itching on her insides. A hesitation or an anxiety, a feeling she wasn’t completely familiar with: maybe she was allergic to the jungle.

                        “We should leave the chest behind, I think.” She said, tutting at Josuke’s struggle with the box. “If there were brigands or anything of the sort, you could take to the trees easier.”

                        The samurai was always remarkably impressed by the ability of shinobi to use trees as easily as the ground as a means for escape or attack. Think of all the tactical possibilities of suddenly having the higher ground in any situation! She jutted her chin simply at the wooden chest. “Plus, it stinks of motor oil.”

                        It didn’t, not really, not any more than they had after their jaunt on that boat. But she couldn’t shake the feeling that the box was a bad omen of some kind. Something about all this shinobi-friendly work she was doing was making her more superstitious, but that superstition had been paying off. Maybe if she was working with someone else, she’d be more reserved about her misgivings over something simple like this - - but Josuke would understand her anxieties more than anyone else.

                        Not because they were close, but because he was a basket case.

                        Still, she kept her pace a little closer to him as they moved along. The hairs on the back of her neck were prickling up.

                        “Hey, ninja - -” She said, her voice momentarily soft. “Do you have any…”

                        Deja vu?

                        “...any idea what these trinkets are for?”
                        �Nara Shikagerou, Sennin of Leaf.
                        �Hyuuga Yuu, Genin of Leaf.
                        �Sanada Ema, Chuunin of Leaf.
                        �Gushiken Ren, Chuunin of Mist.
                        �Hikoboshi no Natsu, Miko of Wind.
                        �Sajime Sahori, Jounin of Stone.
                        �Kiku-ichimonji Jun'ko, ronin samurai.
                        �Hatsuyuki Shiro, renegade shinobi.
                        �Keisei Ranko, The Prince of the Keisei.
                        Available for Registry Checks
                        Engi Tech || Leaf & Stone Secondary GM
                        Important NPCs: Higashi

                        Maybe it's the patterns that make me that made me crazy
                        (a r t i f i c a l f a n t a s y)
                        (swaps [AP] items)
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                        • #13
                          So much work, for such little payoff! But Josuke knew better than to question orders. It seemed so silly to transport even artifacts as fragile looking as the eggs in such a huge container! Both slipped into his coat without trouble as he nodded in agreement with the samurai.

                          Still, leaving the chest out on the bank of a random river would pretty suspicious. “Give me a moment,” Josuke wheezed in his usual monotone. “I want to bury it on the off chance it is discovered. Militia hounds can track scents off the smallest fragment for miles.” As he worked the nails out of the sides with a senbon his companion asked the question he was trying to hard to avoid thinking about. But she deserved the truth (or what little truth Josuke knew about), didn't she?

                          “I do not know all the details.”
                          With a practiced ease he pried part of the crate loose, then slipped it into the mud at his feet as if the earth itself was liquid. Josuke's surgery skills sure came in handy sometimes, though perhaps he didn't need to be as delicate with this crate. “They come from Grass Country, and have some loose association with a clan there. Supposedly it is rare to find them intact.” As he worked his gas mask turned up towards the briefcase of cash, now kept in the samurai's safekeeping. “There were supposed to be dozens...typical surface dweller hyperbole. Oh.” He stopped and looked away for a second as if embarrassed. “I'm almost done, just this last part...”

                          As he jimmied the last few planks apart several slips of harmless looking paper fluttered out from between the seams. Packing material? Not wanting to leave any mess behind the chuunin scooped them up and prepared to shove them into the wet soil like everything else. His heart stopped after lifting one up into the rain.

                          Every molecule in his body screamed.

                          It was as if even his blood came alive and began to howl.

                          Throw it a w a y!

                          Throw them all away and run! The fibers in his muscles strained to fling away from the common shinobi tools he now held in his muddy gloves. It was death, death itself, on tiny slips of parchment! At any moment they could detonate and that would be it! Throw the damn things! Throw them anywhere else but here!

                          Instead he continued to act as though nothing happened. Each piece sunk into the earth just like the pieces of crate. He didn't even turn to look his comrade until he finished. Had she noticed?

                          “We've been baited.”
                          Josuke's voice remained just as level before, yet his words came out with a cadence only someone familiar with his weirdness would recognize. “Since we aren't dead, they probably don't know we are off the barge. Yet.” He realized he hadn't taken a breath in quite some time.

                          “I'll follow your lead.”
                          Last edited by Junge; 05-07-2020, 07:49 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

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                          • #14
                            The samurai let out a long breath, her thoughts mired against the stark sense of deja vu combined with the weird relief of seeing the chest sink harmlessly into the ground. For whatever reason the box had set her completely on edge, and as it left her vision she couldn’t even really remember the cause of the anxiety in the first place. It was slipping away as if it had never been there in the first place. Maybe it was as the shinobi said - - there was an ambush afoot and her body maybe sensed something her brain couldn’t work out on its own.

                            Anything more than simple superstition would make her feel better about all of this.

                            “Stay close to me,” She offered. In their first meeting, he had saved him by cascading a torrent of mud around them and washed them away far from the dangerous edges of the Rain militia. She didn’t particularly need him close for interests of protecting him - - he was competent at protecting his own skin - - but he was a bit single minded. If he decided an escape plan and she wasn’t in his direct line of sight, she was sure he would escape without her.

                            They moved through the jungle with a slow, trudging pace. When Josuke had taken the lead, even if he was stumbling and fretting the whole way, he made it look easy. With the samurai pathfinding, they mostly found themselves gingerly making their way around deep puddles and cutting through brush. Luckily, there was just the pair of them - - and they heard the militamen working their way towards them long before they were found out. The samurai pressed her shoulder into the trunk of a tree and held her blade aloft from her body, still sticky from sap and plant matter from bushwhacking.

                            In any other country, she would have felt remorse and guilt for engaging in surprise attacks on militamen - - not all of them were properly trained, not all of them would stand a fair fight even one on one, but she had seen what the soldiers would do whenever they found shinobi or even just civilians that didn’t step in line. She had seen entire villages burned to the ground, children - - even if they were ninja - - impaled and spiked.

                            So if she was conflicted about her actions, they didn’t play on her face as she stepped out from behind the tree and quickly cut the throat of one young man, shoving her shoulder into a second to push the wind from his lungs before he could cry out. Her secondary blade dove into his stomach and spilled his guts to the floor. Her nose twisted at the smell and she nodded over at Josuke.

                            If they could keep up this pace, they could cut down the numbers before they were overwhelmed.
                            �Nara Shikagerou, Sennin of Leaf.
                            �Hyuuga Yuu, Genin of Leaf.
                            �Sanada Ema, Chuunin of Leaf.
                            �Gushiken Ren, Chuunin of Mist.
                            �Hikoboshi no Natsu, Miko of Wind.
                            �Sajime Sahori, Jounin of Stone.
                            �Kiku-ichimonji Jun'ko, ronin samurai.
                            �Hatsuyuki Shiro, renegade shinobi.
                            �Keisei Ranko, The Prince of the Keisei.
                            Available for Registry Checks
                            Engi Tech || Leaf & Stone Secondary GM
                            Important NPCs: Higashi

                            Maybe it's the patterns that make me that made me crazy
                            (a r t i f i c a l f a n t a s y)
                            (swaps [AP] items)
                            (threads)

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                            • #15
                              On their own, the Rain Militia could be frightening. But it was an understandable, comprehensible kind of fear. Josuke learned about their routines and habits in school, even!

                              Discovering all those explosive tags meant it wasn't just Militia tracking them, though. It meant there was an enemy shinobi. An unknown horror. An unpredictable element.

                              The thought stuck to his mind even as he carved the life out of boys his age. It was a complete metamorphosis from his timid personality, the way Josuke ducked and weaved between bodies as they fell into the earth. In and out his glowing palm slipped, pulping veins and rupturing organs like egg yolks. In the span of less than a minute him and the samurai cleaned up nearly every soul in the unit.

                              A little bit of surprise could make all the difference.

                              Some managed to slip away screaming, but that was probably for the best. Chaos worked in their favor. He set to work immediately even as some of the wounded still moaned and groaned on the forest floor.

                              “Rain Militia typically ambush in three squads.”
                              Josuke delicately slipped an explosive tag under a fallen body and primed it. “This looked like their crossbow unit. Explains how unprepared they were for us. We must have slipped past their cavalry and tracking units already...I'm sure they will be here soon enough.”

                              He cut the string off a bit of tripwire after carefully rigging it, then turned his head back the way they came. “Assuming nothing unexpected happens, we could likely take them off guard and eliminate the whole platoon.” A hesitation.

                              “I can stay escape easier than you.”
                              A very distant barking could be heard through the rainfall. “I can delay them for some time as well."

                              If there was a shinobi accompanying the Rain Militia, Josuke would just be a liability. Better to guarantee at least Jun'ko made it out alive, right?

                              “It makes the most sense for us to part ways here.” He held up the two eggs, their luminous shell causing the light to dance across their surface. "You take the artifacts back to Amegakure. I'll catch up."

                              Last edited by Junge; 05-09-2020, 12:10 AM.
                              (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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