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Old 03-14-2014, 02:49 PM   #1
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It wasn't often that "Yarisugi" Hanabi was sent anywhere as an envoy for Iwagakure. She was a spear in a field of willows; she stood unbending where she should yield. Negotiation wasn't a skill the jounin had developed. She had been told very explicitly that she was not to engage with Tori Trade on her journey—a fair order, considering Hanabi's opinion on the Coalition and the company's rumored involvement with the criminals.

She should have expected this to happen, really. When the—what did they call them, Lac?—woman had stumbled into the camp, bleeding and gasping about her child "still being back there," Hanabi had hesitated only long enough to excuse herself from the Kajoukami rep's spiel. She had been following the woman when the jungle cat appeared, and by the time she had dealt with it, her guide was gone.

Surely she went this way, Hanabi thought, pushing forward. The trees tore at her clothing—not her normal mission fare, on order of the Tsuchikage, but a smart collared shirt and trousers. Well, the shirt had been smart; now a set of claw-marks decorated the back where the predator had taken a swing at Hanabi, and blood coated her arms up to the elbow.

The jounin paused in her efforts to find the woman she had followed into the jungle to pick up a fallen stave of wood. It wasn't quite straight, but it would do; she whittled the tip to a point with her pocket knife—which not even Hagana had been able to convince her to leave behind—as she stalked forward. She had a serviceable spear by the time she heard anything large moving through the forest.

Hanabi raised the weapon, ready to bury it into the hide of another jungle cat, but wasn't prepared for the form that came through the trees. Large—as large as her—muscled—possibly more than she—and... decorated? Stone had no official diplomatic relations with Cloud, but Hanabi could recognize a soldier when she saw one. No....a—Command Sergeant?

The jounin began to lower the spear, but there was a crash and a horrible roar from the direction the stranger had just come. Hanabi spared a second to glance at the man's condition—his clothes were shredded like hers, perhaps even more so, and she didn't see any weapons on him.

Well, she thought, turning towards the dark forest as whatever the creature was drew nearer. This should be interesting.
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Old 03-16-2014, 06:15 PM   #2
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It wasn't the first time Ozawa Sento had to run for his life.

It wasn't running away exactly. The one-eyed Cloud shinobi had never run from conflict in his life, and he damn sure wasn't about to start. Facing vicious animals wasn't something to which he was unaccustomed either; Lightning Country had plenty of such things, and not every scar on him was a war trophy. He wasn't, however, trying to add any more, and he was well enough versed in wilderness survival to know that this was not the sort of place where one stopped moving.

This wasn't exactly what he'd had in mind when he was approached about diplomacy for Lightning Country. His wife had gone so far as to say that he needed 'to remember what peace is like'. She wasn't wrong. Traveling between Water and Fire Country, he'd witnessed plenty of conflict, but certainly nothing on the scale of Cloud's civil war. It made him realize why he'd been so frustrated over the last two years--suddenly, his sword had no purpose. There were answers that needed finding... Where was he supposed to start?

The letter that came for him in Mist brought him to Seirei no Shima. He was an envoy of sorts; he'd always been more or less free to do what he thought was in Lightning Country's best diplomatic interests, but he'd never even heard of the island. Seeing it was as wonderous as it was foreboding.

And now a giant tiger was trying to bite his face off.

"Here, kitty, kitty."

The beast lunged at him yet again; without his swords, Sento had been at a loss at first. His armor was all but useless, and while he wasn't bleeding, the impact from the first claw swipe put the command sergeant on guard. He drew back as the cat leaped at him, forming a rapid series of handseals. Sento pitched the ball he produced squarely into the cat's chest and it immediately yowled in pain as the electrical shock coursed through its body.

"Never did like cats,"
he muttered. He didn't bother watching the feline writhing on the ground, twitching on the ground involuntarily from the shock. Even after it recovered, the vicious burn the explosion left would actively discourage it from coming after him again. If anything, it was going to end up prey for some bigger predator. Such was the nature of things, after all... and Sento didn't feel bad about the beast's poor choice in targets.

Besides... something else was coming. He really didn't want to be there when that happened.

Breaking through the trees, he was reminded of so many marches and treks across Lightning Country. This, at least, was far warmer, and his scars didn't ache nearly as badly. It seemed that decades of training and dedication to his art and Hidden Cloud had their benefits. When he spotted a woman with a spear, however, his vague amusement with the situation immediately ended... He was relieved when she didn't attack him right away, though her armed status made him especially annoyed since his own weapons had been lost some time ago.

"...who the hell are you?"

He didn't stop long enough to actually as the question; in moments, he was already marching right past her, his heavy footfalls and the sound of his own breathing all that he was really concentrating on. The sounds behind him didn't concern him outright--only that they were getting louder. "I suggest, whoever you are, that you start movin'. Like yesterday."

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Old 03-16-2014, 08:20 PM   #3
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The stranger profaned and then began to walk briskly away, much to Hanabi's amusement. "Wait," she called, and tossed the makeshift spear towards him—not point or end first, but angled so that he could easily catch the shaft. The jounin turned back to face the trees, her small smile fading. She crouched, placing a palm on the ground. Jihibiki Ishiki no Jutsu—Earth Tremor Sense. Hanabi felt the movement of the cloud shinobi, but approaching were what felt like three figures, each moving quickly on all fours. Interesting.

Her hands slammed together, forming a series of hasty seals; the beasts were almost upon her. Just as the first breached the line of trees, five stone figures dragged themselves out of the ground, armed with spears where she was not. Hanabi didn't wait to examine the lizard closing in rapidly—she sprung.

The creature, astonishingly, rolled out of the way, and the jounin could swear it smiled before a heavy weight slammed into her from behind. Another of the creatures, descended from the treetops; the jounin flung it off of her into the waiting arms of two of her clones. They immediately began pummeling the beast, which closed its jaws around one—filling its mouth with crumbled stone—and slashed at and missed the other. The clone took this chance to drive its spear down into and through the animal's jaw, pinning it closed. It screamed.

Hanabi hadn't waited to see this, didn't turn at the increased noise. She had moved on immediately to join her other three clones in wrangling the first lizard into the middle of the path, away from cover. The third beast still hadn't appeared. One clone feinted with its spear, causing the creature to swing around; Hanabi used this chance to slam her clenched fists down up its back. Its hide was tough, but it howled, clearly disoriented and in pain. She raised her hands again, focusing power to the tenketsu in her arm.

It was of course then that the third raptor appeared.

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Old 03-16-2014, 09:42 PM   #4
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Sento caught the spear and blinked, as if to say 'what the hell am I supposed to do with this'. It certainly wasn't as if he didn't know how to use one, but carrying twin blades for so long, the spear felt awkward. And why the hell did this woman have more than one? She was certainly better prepared than he was.

His one good eye narrowed as the first raptor burst through the trees. He'd hoped that the pack hadn't followed him, that the tiger would have been the easier pray. No such luck. In the few seconds that it took him to decide what to do, the other woman had already taken action. It was a rather impressive display, all things considered, but it reminded him vaguely of situations he'd been in before in Lightning Country. So much wasted movement and energy.

When the third raptor appeared, it immediately went for Sento, screeching as it attempted to flank him from his right side. He smiled faintly; it was an effective strategy, and these lizards were just as clever as the Lac had believed them to be.

Not clever enough.


He drew his hand back and thrust it into the ground. There was an audible sound of impact as the raptor closed in, wickedly curved claws aimed to tear into the Kumo-nin's shoulder--right up until a lightning bolt lanced upward from the ground and through its torso.

"Bet you won't try that again, scaly."

It wasn't the only one; another one appeared behind him, only to suffer the same fate. Just how big was this pack anyway? He'd counted four so far, and as he looked around, he realized their numbers were increasing. He could barely hear the sounds of the jungle over the electrical barrier protecting him from ambushes, but he could see the foliage rustling in a rather threatening manner.

"Hey! Spear lady! Heads up!"

They weren't going to get any closer to him; within moments, they knew better. Hanabi, on the other hand...

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Old 03-17-2014, 04:45 PM   #5
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There was nothing quite like punching a mysterious giant lizard so hard that it split open. Hanabi didn't take any time to appreciate the experience, though; she was more worried about the strange unarmed shinobi in the forest. She could see that the sharpened stave she had tossed him wasn't in use, and ordered her clones to deal with the skewered raptor rather than looking away from the command sergeant.

I should assist him, the woman thought, but she needn't have bothered. Before she could move to help, the man shocked the raptor into submission, along with a fourth creature that must have approached through the trees. Hanabi rolled her neck, loosening her shoulders, and waited for the next attack. These things were intelligent; there would be some trick.

The trick was apparently to attack at once now that Hanabi's clones were indisposed. Deceptively quick for their size, three animals closed in on the jounin, approaching from different sides. She waited for them to be within lunging range, then stepped—not forward, not backwards, but down. One raptor was unable to stop its swipe and clawed its pack member in the face. Hanabi surged up and wrapped her arms around the middle of the third raptor, which hadn't been involved in the accident. It cried out and thrashed as the jounin pulled it underground, but its struggles soon ceased. The two raptors she had avoided quit their squabble and rushed to the spot, already clawing at the ground. Hanabi emerged behind them both.

She wasn't a monologuer, so instead of saying Surprise, or Back off, you dig? or any number of other awful things, Hanabi stalked to the side of the reptile she had punched through. It was most certainly dead. With a grunt of effort, the jounin grabbed it by the tail and started to spin.

They understand tactics and know fear, but have they ever felt horror? Hanabi wondered. To find the answer, she released the carcass once it was at speed and caught the two raptors in the side. They screamed as they tumbled end over end, then again when they saw what had sent them flying.

Hanabi stood and waited. They would fight and die, or they would run and live. She was not particularly concerned which it would be.
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Old 03-17-2014, 11:02 PM   #6
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Sento wasn't at all amused by the situation. He was safe, and Hanabi seemed more than capable of handling herself. As the number of attackers rapidly dwindled, the Kumo-nin stood straight up, releasing the jutsu that had been guarding him. Taking up the spear in his right hand, he looked over the carnage as the remaining raptors retreated into the brush. It seemed that they'd realized their numbers weren't going to be as advantageous as they had originally thought.

He knew plenty of humans that had made that mistake, too.

"Well. That was fun." Sento clenched and unclenched his right hand, errant streaks of lightning streaming between his fingers. "Good to know there's no damsels in distress out here."

He moved to hand the spear back to her. Under normal circumstances he might've been impressed, but now wasn't the time and this wasn't the place. Even he had to admit, though, that not being by himself in this gods-forsaken jungle put his mind at ease. "So... Iwagakure, right?" It was a guess, but an educated one--not that Earth Country was full of exceptionally tall spear-wielding women.
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Old 03-18-2014, 12:11 AM   #7
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The raptors turned and fled. Hanabi relaxed, finally allowing herself to examine the knuckles of her right hand. They were bruised from where she had punched the lizard in the back, which gave the kunoichi reason to pause. Her own hide was thicker these days than anything she had come across in nature, but a single blow had split her own skin? I might be lucky that this man was here, after all, the jounin realized. She looked up towards the cloud-nin, who extended the stave towards her.

Hanabi's lips twitched at his words. She took the spear with a nod. "I don't think I ever qualified as a damsel," she joked—which, for Hanabi, meant her inflection wasn't quite as stern as normal. "I am from Iwagakure, yes. 'Yarisugi' Hanabi, Bear Calvary, 1st Degree." She inclined her head respectfully. "It's been quite some time since I've seen a citizen outside of Cloud, Command Sergeant." Hanabi was a military soul at heart; she had followed the movements of Cloud avidly as soon as she had heard of their existence. The past four years had been filled with unprecedented peace, much to Hanabi's shameful disappointment. This man's presence on the island suggested that the village might be entering back into the diplomatic fray.

"If I may ask, what are you doing in the jungle?" The jounin turned to face down the way the Lac woman had been drawing her, brow furrowed. "I was following a woman who claimed that her child was taken, though considering that she disappeared, I suspect that was a ruse." She planted the spear in the ground the same way as the stranger had done before her, crouching to test the earth's tremors once more. There was no movement; the raptors had driven the smaller creatures away, and were totally gone themselves, beside their dead and trapped.

"There's nothing moving out there," she said for the sergeant's benefit. Still, you didn't have to be a shinobi to sense that something here was off.
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Old 03-23-2014, 01:11 AM   #8
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Sento didn't say anything at first. He might have very well chased his own child into the jungle. Then again, his children were Kumogakure chuunin and not helpless, untrained kids. His eye narrowed a bit and he nodded slowly, absently scratching at the headband on his forehead.

There were a number of things that could have identified Sento as a Cloud shinobi. It could have been the dog tags hanging around his neck, or the gray and black armband around his right bicep bearing his rank. The lightning-based ninjutsu was a dead giveaway. It wasn't something that he was hiding, thus he merely nodded in acknowledgement that Hanabi was right. "Ozawa Sento. And, as far as who you were following..."

"You might have to consider them lost." The one-eyed shinobi spoke in a calm and even tone. While it could have easily been considered cold, the phrase was devoid of any real emotion. It was just a statement of fact. "Out here, untrained and unarmed? ...I dunno if I believe in that kind of luck."

That, of course, left the question of what he was doing there. At that, he merely shrugged, casually tearing at what was left of his armor. The shirt beneath was fine save a few rips, exposing an almost alarming number of scars on his torso. His armor was shredded to a point where it was doing nothing but weighing the Kumogakure shinobi down; he discarded it without a second thought. "Came out here looking for something," he replied gruffly. Whether he'd found it or not, he didn't say. Instead he cast his eyes skyward, ears tuned to the rustling of the trees.

"Don't suppose it matters now. Neither of us should be here."
Despite being weaponless, Ozawa Sento was plenty dangerous. The perils of the jungle were numerous, and if the stories of the natives of the island were to be believed, vicious raptors and tigers weren't even close to the most deadly things one could come across. He wasn't in a particularly explorative mood, and Hanabi didn't immediately strike him as annoying--which was, all things considered, rather impressive.

"We should probably start moving before something else decides we're main course material."
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Old 03-31-2014, 10:45 PM   #9
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Hanabi was in agreement with Sento. Her heart went out to the woman she had followed into the forest, wherever she was, but if it hadn't been some sort of ploy—to what ends, Hanabi couldn't guess—it was likely the lizards had gotten to her before meeting their match in the two shinobi. If this man was willing to abandon his search, Hanabi wouldn't argue with him. She twisted to look back the way she had come. "It isn't far to—" the woman started, but the trees began to shudder, and she broke off to ready for an attack.

The raptors that had just fled the pair came crashing back through the glade. Hanabi had her spear poised to impale the first to move for her or the other jounin, but the animals seemed to be blind to the humans. She frowned, straightening; the herd passed. Their cries died out as they scuttled away. The jounin knew better than to shift her gaze to follow the animals. They had been running for their lives—it was what what coming their way that she had be concerned about.

"I think it may already be too late," Hanabi murmured. Even as she spoke it began to rain. There's not a cloud in the sky. The stone-nin needed no more proof than the fleeing raptors to know that the approaching adversary was dangerous, but the shuddering of the earth and the sourceless rain were further evidence.

Hanabi considered running, but discarded it. There was no chance of outrunning whatever this was, based on the time the raptors had been gone, when they returned, and how quickly the tremors had become apparent. Shunshin didn't seem to be an option, either; the nuke-nin scattered around the landing—disgusting traitors that they were—had warned her that the island had a way of turning transportation jutsu awry.

By now the jounin was soaked to the bone. Her neck twinged as she looked up—way up.'There." There was a form emerging from the mist that had rolled in with the rain, a great... man.

The woman's eyes widened. A titan.
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Old 04-02-2014, 09:23 PM   #10
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There was no warning when the rain started. That was the first indication that something was wrong. The weather in Lightning Country was frequently overcast during certain times of the year, and rain always came with clouds or at least thunder. That and his joints ached just so whenever an actual storm was approaching. This wasn't normal. It immediately put him on edge, and his gloved hands tightened into fists. There was no telling was going to happen next, and even as the raptors rushed past in the trees surrounding him and Hanabi, he knew he had to be ready for anything.

Nothing could have prepared him for what happened next.

Ozawa Sento had survived countless battles--an entire civil war that spanned nearly half a decade, with fighting that stretched back nearly twenty years. He could fill a library with the stories of the things he had seen. Nothing could possibly be stranger than what he was looking at now.



Wrapping his mind around a moving, humanoid mass of water was hard enough, and for a brief second, he froze. It towered over the tree line, still a significant distance away but close enough that the water that formed its massive body was being caught in the rapidly heightening winds. Sento's one good eye widened; he wasn't above admitting that, in that moment, fear had a firm grip on his mind. This wasn't at all like fighting the regular denizens of the jungle; they were clearly outmatched. And, thus far, unseen.

"...we need to leave."
And with that, Sento was already moving.
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