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Old 03-20-2014, 07:30 PM   #1
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Seirei No Shima. As Yuge worked off the nap she had just awoken from, she watched the island of spirits grow ever closer on the horizon. It looked to grow ever bigger with every splash of the waves, but by and large it seemed to be a small island, certainly nothing worth making a claim of as a country. And from here, everything seemed severely uninhabited.

But on the sea, everything in the past week had seem uninhabited. Meeting with Nara Shikaro and Yamakazi Ritsuke in the port city of Atsumi had been just the first step. While she was the oldest of the group, it seemed that the power of a clan could forever outshadow her abilities. She had heard many things about the successes of Nara Shikaro, despite their presumed laziness. Ritsuke, however, there was little known of.

And for the past week, Yuge had done little to find out. Most all of it had been spent alone in her cramped bunk on their tug boat, poring over the report that Leaf had given them. It specified an incredibly interesting mission, a chance for exploration that Yuge had not been anticipating. They would be working on a largely unknown island, off in the middle of the ocean. Rumor had it, the tailed beasts of yore were trapped their. Or at least their energies were. The tales were enough to pique Yuge's interest. But the real kicker was their employer.

Jintek Medical Applications. A ruthless research organization of River Country, they were now employing the greatest shinobi village in the world to do their hunting for them. The mission was fairly straightforward. Gather samples of a rare breed of bee stinger. They had heard little else, but now, as the island felt close enough to touch, it's shores bright, almost glossy, Yuge found herself happy for the chance at a little investigative vacation.

Clinging to the rail around the bow of the tug, she turned to the youngest of the shinobi, Ritsuke, who seemed to be lost in certain thoughts of her own. All in all, the girl had seemed rather morose for the whole trip, but with the beauty of the Island of Spirits right in front of them, the wood-wielding chuunin hoped the trip might lighten the younger woman's mood.

"It's beautiful, don't you think?" Yuge's dark lips formed into a thin line, one that may have been a gentle smile or deep contemplation. A heavy breeze blew across the waters, sending her dark hair flying in an explosive display about her face. A warning, perhaps.
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Old 03-20-2014, 09:20 PM   #2
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"Eh?"

Ritsuke looked at Yuge. Then she looked back to the ocean. Then to Shikaro. And finally back to Yuge. She shrugged.

"Yeah." The girl pressed her lips together into a firm line. They rippled into a smile within the moment. "It's beautiful." She smiled because she did not know how else to respond. The entire duration of the trip, Yamakazi Ritsuke was rather silent, dwelling on her own melancholy. If someone were to ask, she would lack a rational answer. But within the very core of her being, Ritsuke felt an uneasy grief and she knew why. She had no intention of sharing her thoughts with her comrades.

But the depressing thoughts still lingered at the foreground of her mind. Only mere days ago, the kunoichi encountered her father on a reconnaissance mission. Her supposed-to-be-dead father. He attempted to kill her, he did not have a second thought about this murder. She successfully avoided dying at her father's will, but at what price? Ritsuke sighed and went to gaze back at the ocean only to feel a heavy nausea slither its way up her throat and into her mouth. She swallowed back the vomit.

The water reeked of salt, fish, and even a bit like dry fungus. Ritsuke loathed the stench of the ocean, the way the boat shifted left and right without warning, the gusts of wind constantly hammering her face, she hated every second of this ride. Fortunately, they were approaching Seirei No Shima. A genuine smile now pulled at the corners of her lips, the trio was a couple minutes away from land. Sweet, unmoving land that did not remind her of a fish market.

"But that is even more beautiful," Ritsuke said, pointing to the ground ahead of them. She did not care for the fate awaiting them on the island; she just wanted to get off this boat.
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Old 03-20-2014, 10:34 PM   #3
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It's an island. There's, like, a ton of them.

Shikaro sat on the deck, stretched out on a long folding lounge chair. He'd crafted the chair himself in just a few moments with mokuton, willing his chakra to twist into a dark, lacquered wood that he bent into the proper shape. As Ritsuko and Yuge watched the incoming coast line, Shikaro busied himself with doing a lot of nothing. He kept a pair of Fist's oversized sunglasses on and had his shirt off, bundled on top of the rest of his supplies. Shikaro sunbathed even as his partners, and other passengers besides, marveled at the scale of Seirei no Shima, or got seasick.

As the ship came into dock, Shikaro lifted his sunglasses enough to see what was going on. A gangway was set across the pier, ropes started being tied, and everyone began filing off the ship and to the island proper. Shikaro covered his mouth as he yawned and dropped his glasses back down. When he stood up, his chair cracked and crumbled into a fine black dust, and he pulled his shirt back on over his head, then slung on a vest. He pat his hands over the vest a few times, then withdrew a single red lollipop, unwrapped it, and held it in his mouth.

Guess we're here or whatever.

Shikaro walked down the plank, his shoes clicking against the wood, then followed the pier into Last Landing. The port town, if it could even be called that, was clearly a work in progress, with most of the buildings some combination of hastily cut boards and sheets of tin, but a few looked sturdy and worn enough to have survived a few years. A couple different taverns had a lot of activity, as did a number of bulletin boards, and all manner of men and women wandered around with weapons on display. Shikaro had never been to the City of Kings, but he figured the atmosphere was similar enough – a lot of nerves running high, but calm out of necessity.

So, bug-collecting time?
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Old 03-21-2014, 05:24 AM   #4
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A part of her had been dutifully ignoring Shikaro, and not for any deliberate reason, except perhaps because he displayed as much finesse with the element of wood as Yuge did, yet was more likely renowned for his control of Kage Mane. To know that someone had such talent contributed to the narrow eyes Yuge directed at the clansman.

And then, as quickly as the snarky comment entered her thoughts, it left her with the thump of boat meeting dock, and as the passengers filed out and onto the pier, the Island of Spirits quickly gained a feeling all of it's own. Last Landing proved it's namesake, for it seemed like it would be the last place for a boat to take harbor.

"It looks like bug collecting would be the idea here." She couldn't help but state the obvious. They knew they were looking for a bee, looking specifically for it's stinger. A part of her imagined this job would have been better suited for another chuunin of her time, one Aburame Tetsumi, but she did not bring it up. One Clan of Leaf felt like enough representation.

"You must be the shinobi from Leaf."

The leaf symbol on Yuge's forehead turned about to scan lost landing and came to rest upon a slim, rather frail looking man with a black bowl cut. In a glance, it made sense why Jintek needed real shinobi to do the job. Scientists didn't belong on the field.

"Yes, that's us. Mokuhi Yuge," With a nod, the woman with the wakizashi at her back introduced each of them. "Nara Shikaro, Yamakazi Ritsuke. We're here for the bee-hunting."

The man's small eyes rested long on the Nara male. Names reached far, even here. Perhaps he wouldn't know that the Nara's true fame came from their laziness.

"Yes, yes. I am Akira. Here with Jintek. Looks like you've got the report. We'll get you a rough map and headed on in no time. We're honored to have such fine shinobi with us." Some of the man's sounds reminded Yuge of a snake, and with the way Akira watched each of them, her skin bristled like a weary mouse. "Follow me."

While not hesitating, Yuge kept herself a few paces behind the man, until they arrived at something that was half canvas tent, and half nearly-constructed outhouse. Inside lay a desk, which was covered with a map that had to be of the island, but seemed to be largely uncharted. A kit, much like a crime scene investigator's, seemed ready to hold a sample of a bee stinger, yet it all seemed a little large for something regarding a bee.

Aside Ritsuke and Shikaro, Yuge waited, but it didn't take Akira long. He seemed to be ready to get them on their way.

"Let's take a look here, alright? Did we give you any information about the Lac?"

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Old 03-22-2014, 09:15 PM   #5
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Ritsuke sharply turned her head to glare at Shikaro as he retorted a comment about islands. Seasickness did not help her tolerance. Nara Shikaro had a reputation among the Chuunin however it was not one Ritsuke cared about. The boy, in all his shirtless glory, soaked sun for the duration of the ride on his Mokuton crafted chair and the red-haired teenager disregarded him. His exhibitionist tendencies did not interest her.

The ship pulled into the port and Ritsuke sprinted off the boat. With her feet grounded on real land, she inhaled the air. It was still polluted with the repulsive scent of the ocean.

Geez, everything smells like crap around here,” she commented to no one. It was simply a thought spoken aloud. She glanced over to Shikaro with his pink lips around a lollipop and released an exhausted breath. The girl stood closer to Yuge than Shikaro from then on.

They were approached by Jintek scientists and the shinobi followed them into what appeared to be a campsite or study area of some form. Ritsuke was slightly distracted by all the information surrounding them however she heeded to her assignment and listened carefully to Akira.

Uh, Lac are the natives, right?” The Chuunin stated the information as a question however she knew she was correct. Akira nodded and pinched the bridge of his nose for a moment as if annoyed. She couldn’t tell if it was her or something else on his mind.

They live here,” said the scientist, pointing to one zone on the map, “and the bee hive is right there.” It was only a little further on the map, but the Lac and bees were practically neighbors. “We’ll take you to the Lac but they will show you from there.

Ritsuke cocked her head, staring at the map. Akira circled both points, rolled the scroll up, and handed it to Yuge. He picked up a small bag and gave that to Ritsuke.

Rations,” he commented as they made the exchange. “Also, the Lac are rather… a unique breed of people. They are needed to keep the peace of this island and they are undoubtedly odd, but something about them has been weirder. I can’t quite put my finger on it… Anyway, good luck shinobi.

He led them out.
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Old 03-23-2014, 07:22 AM   #6
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Shikaro let the girls handle the official business part of the trip, since they seemed to like that and he, personally, enjoyed a break from having to be the responsible one. The man from Jintek, Akira, showed them what passed for a map of the island and a box for holding the stinger in question. Shikaro just nodded along to Akira’s explanations and reached into his pocket for a thin booklet. He flipped through the pages with his thumb until he found his own map of the island, a little less filled out than Akira’s. The expeditions must have been busy to start charting out the island at such a pace.

From Last Landing, Akira led the shinobi west along the coastline, which Shikaro figured to be the safest route on the island anywhere. Indeed, though the beach was expansive and impressive, full of rolling dunes and butting up against rocks in the shallows, it didn’t seem to be particularly threatening. As they walked, they encountered a few signs of life, mostly massive red crabs the size of dogs and covered in chunky armor, but the crustaceans just clicked their pinchers and bubbled at the shinobi before moving behind stones or into tide pools.

Soon enough, about a half hour walk from the Landing, the four came to a Lac village. Here, a handful of sturdy palm trees jutted up out of the sand and the Lac had built small huts that sat in within the branches or hung on ropes of vine and frond. This particular village was elaborate for the Lac, including a few rope and plank bridges suspended between huts and walkways around the shanties where the villagers sat in the treetops and looked down on the foreigners. Children ran in the surf, watched over by a group of mothers busy with weaving or whittling. Some men stood around a firepit where a boar sat impaled on a skewer, roasting. They all looked up at the shinobi, but quickly ignored them.

Akira gestured for the shinobi to wait and walked over beneath one of the huts. A vine hung down, which Akira pulled a few times, and the sound of a wooden bell echoed down from the top of the trees. After a few moments’ delay, a wiry, dark-skinned Lac hopped down from the hut above and landed in the sand with a little oof. He brushed himself off and, upon seeing Yuge and Ritsuke, carefully smoothed his hair back and puffed out his bare chest a bit. Shikaro rolled his eyes – the boy couldn’t have been more than fourteen and carried a bundle of bamboo spears across his back with a grass skirt down to his knees. The boy and Akira exchanged a few pidgin-sounding words before Akira nodded and turned to leave.

The Lac walked over to the shinobi and bowed in an awkward, practiced way. “I am Kawena, pathfinder here. Show way to stinglings.
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Old 03-24-2014, 05:20 PM   #7
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Yuge had accepted the scroll gracefully, placing it carefully into her small pouch of projectiles and took care to follow with the group. She had been able to just barely glance the map of the island before it had been rolled up, but from what she had seen of the route, Jintek seemed to have made good work of the cartography of the island thus far.

As the strip of nature grew into the Lac town, Yuge saw the stark difference between Jintek's threatening blend of the incomplete manmade station and the natural world of the Lac's treetop town. While Yuge watched every body she passed, she saw no eyes meet her own. In many ways, it seemed that the Lac were willing the Leaf shinobi into invisibility.

That certainly would make espionage easier. If only the people of Leaf could keep their noses out of business like this.

The tug of the bell, however, seemed to stiffen the village of the Lacs. Many found it hard to avoid looking over at Akira and the appearance of Kawena. Those who hadn't noticed the Leaf shinobi before had all jumped, as if the bell were a sound of disaster coming, or another way to rouse the whole village. Simply put, the atmosphere amongst the Lac seemed to grow eerily still, and Yuge couldn't shake the sensation of not being welcome there.

The young boy with the spears, however, pulled her attention away.

"I am Yuge." The chuunin with the black hair stepped forward and couldn't help but feel that Kawena was really waiting for Shikaro to make the introductions. Men meeting men, that sort of thing. Yuge did what she had for Akira, and introduced the team, and while fighting for Kawena to take her seriously, she managed to get the message forward, though Kawena's comprehension of common language seemed limited.

"Show way now?"

Akira turned to leave with a curt wave, and announced that he wouldn't be joining them any further.

"Follow Kawena." The boy moved towards the inland jungle, and Yuge felt compelled to follow. It wasn't until Akira had disappeared from their sight, and they had crossed through some trees that another group of Lac moved with great intention into the way of Kawena and the Leaf shinobi. These three men were clearly older, more stern, and held a visible frown on their face, directed at the foreigners.

Kawena stopped, and in turn one of the older men began to speak in the same sounds that Akira had shared moments before. Body language said enough, as the group of Lac stood visibly in the way of their trajectory. Kawena could barely argue, but seemed to be trying to explain something, until at long last, the man who had been speaking intensely turned to Shikaro, ignoring Yuge and Ritsuke succinctly.

"Do not. Lac not rise Queen. Let stinglings alone."
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Old 03-24-2014, 08:56 PM   #8
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The coastline was tatted by rough, jagged rocks spread across the beach. She understood why Last Landing was the preferred port compared to other vicinities through the island. At least Last Landing could maintain a dock. Nonetheless the coast curved gently and stretched toward an unidentifiable location. It was kind of pretty, Ritsuke noted. Despite the unpleasant experiences from the past week and the ridiculous mission at hand, she took a moment to inhale the sight. And then the salty scent brought on another wave of nausea and disdain for the ocean.

They arrived at a Lac village. Ritsuke had never truly been to a village like this. This was…

This is pretty cool,” she commented casually. Her heart was captured by utter awe. The Lac hadn’t lived in any fabulous way. Huts were carved from trees, interwoven with leaves and smaller branches, however this impressed her more than Shikaro’s Mokuton chair. Ritsuke was more than impressed; she was completely amazed by the craft of these people. An assorted scent of berries, foliage, and earth blanketed the stench of the ocean. The Chuunin’s nausea was finally at peace, she smiled.

A young Lac boy was summoned by the sound of a bell and surfaced before the three shinobi and Akira. He spoke in fragments, as a foreigner to their language, but Ritsuke understood Kawena. Yuge, once again, took the responsibility of introductions although Ritsuke did not anticipate the boy to remember such alien names.

She nodded to Akira and then shifted her gaze back to the boy. This was a mission and she was attempting to act professionally however she was unreservedly enthralled by Kawena, by his entire community. She proceeded to follow him, wearing the biggest smile on her face since the mission began.

But, some trouble confronted them before they could actually get to the subject of the mission. Ritsuke, believing she had a somehow forged a connection with the Lac within these few minutes, stepped forward and offered the three men a friendly grin.

Hi. Um, we have to go see the stinglings,” she said, attempting to utilize their language to illustrate her alliance, “No rise Queen. Promise. Trust me. Trust us.
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Old 03-24-2014, 09:47 PM   #9
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Shikaro opened his mouth as Ritsuke started to speak, but the words came too late. He instead covered his mouth with one hand and tried to pass the move off as a yawn – the girl could deal with digging her own grave a little while longer. When Kawena glanced at him, nervous, Shikaro offered him a tiny, sympathetic shrug of the shoulders. The Lac boy seemed to understand and gave Shikaro a small nod, man to man. Shikaro looked at the older Lac men as they finished glaring at the girls, and Ritsuke in particular.

We do not trust foreigners.

Me either. Went on a date with this guy from Mist once, what a mistake that was, am I right?” Shikaro waggled his eyebrows and gave Yuge a nudge with his elbow. When the Lac narrowed their eyes at him, Shikaro rolled his own. “Lucky for us, you don't need to trust us. Kawena is the pathfinder here, yeah? So show us the way.” He gave a wide wave towards the jungle with one hand holding his half-eaten lollipop. “I mean, it's not like he's a little kid. Kawena can make his own decisions.

Exactly as he expected, this sent the Lac into another argument, this one louder and faster than the one before. Shikaro blinked dryly and hung there, arm out, waiting. He sniffled and wished the air was a bit less salty. In a matter of moments, Kawena put his foot down, said something that drew a collective gasp as the older men leaned away from the boy, and then stepped around in front of Shikaro to head into the jungle. Shikaro dipped his head, gave a little look to the girls, and then followed the pathfinder.

Doesn't matter where you go, parents just don't understand.

Will get over it.
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Old 03-25-2014, 05:14 PM   #10
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While Yuge wanted to be worried about what would happen with this interference from other, older Lac, it was hard to with Ritsuke and Shikaro at her side. It made sense that the Lac wouldn't trust them, but she couldn't sympathize with Shikaro cracking jokes as he was, and so a small chuckle left her belly as she let the Nara do what most Nara did best; find solutions where they hid.

While Yuge wanted to point out that Kawena looked very much like a little kid, she let Shikaro's critical, if humorous, eye take over. The pidgin arguments quickly led to the group leaving the Lac in the dust. As Yuge watched Kawena's father and friends return to their town over her shoulder, she wondered what the man could have meant about the Queen. A Queen bee, no doubt, but what worry would that arouse?

Before long the group was clearly the only sentient forms in the jungle. The sounds of animals and birds chirping overcame the senses, and the smell of the sea was replaced with the damp scent of forest floor and dewy leaves. Where they had once been stepping between bushes and through low-lying grass, they were now climbing around enormous tree trunks, wading through heavy, waist-high shrubbery, and over fallen branches that were bigger than some trees in Konoha.

It wasn't until they were about a mile through the jungle that Kawena stopped and spoke, pointing over towards a fallen tree.

"There, sign of stingling." Following the extended finger, Yuge saw what he was pointing at. Or rather what Kawena was pointing through. Through the center of this rather thin tree there was a hole, which looked as if it had been made by a giant's drill. The hole tapered from one end to the other, and was frayed at the edges. For a moment, Yuge looked through the hole, hoping to find a beehive on the other side, until she realized what Kawena meant.

"The bees made that? Stinglings did that?" The simple nod that Kawena responded with made it seem as if bees the size of a small house were small fry on an island like this. Remembering the kit they had been given to collect a sample of the stinger, Yuge suddenly worried that the kit may be too small. Not to mention she was unsure how they were supposed to stop a bee of that size.

Her thoughts stopped as Kawena raised a hand.

"Listen." Kawena cupped a hand to his ear and it was then that Yuge heard what she had taken to be ambient noise.

The low steady hum of a bee's buzzing.

"Closer."
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