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Old 04-14-2017, 06:37 AM   #1
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Default An Awkward Gait.

An Unbearable Tail.

A Bear Country Arc, Featuring Kojirou Ryu and Gyousou Kugo.
PART ONE: An Awkward Gait.
"You're off to Kuma no Kuni, eh, Kugo?!"

Gyousou Kugo turned a lollipop around in his mouth, fastening a strap on his backpack.

"Yeah, yeah, go talk to your mother about it, Kenji." The boy with the rough, brown hair kicked at the dirt underneath the gate's vast and open entrance. Kugo had hoped that he had picked a spot far enough away from the check-in outpost that his family friend, Kenji, wouldn't be able to try to keep up conversation with him.

He had picked wrong.

"Gee, well that's exciting! Is this your first time out of Leaf Country?" Kenji was the kind of guy who was always happy, always gleeful at the opportunity to talk. He was the perfect guy to run the welcoming outpost of Konohagakure. Still, not the best guy to stand thirty feet away from when dreading your assignment.

"Who, me? Of course not. Who do you think I am, some country bumpkin?" Kugo looked incredulously at the chuunin in the booth, but the heel of his red boots dug quietly into the rough, sandy gravel. It wasn't his first time out of Leaf Country. He had been on plenty of Gyousou family vacations, a major benefit of being the Hokage's grandson.

But he had never been sent on assignment out of Konoha. This was it's own thing. Very new. Very overwhelming. There's a lot of pressure riding on something like this. Was what his older brother had said.

Still, the ground beneath his feet grew coarser. He wasn't nervous. Kugo would never admit to being nervous. He just didn't like the idea of more than a few days away from home. A mission in Bear Country, even if it was a low-profile security mission, was not on his list of things to do before he died.

"Well, ex-kah-yuuuuuse me! Hahahahaha!" Kenji continued laughing to himself, as Kugo looked back towards the village and thought he could identify the tall-ish man walking towards him with the gauntlet on his hand. Kojirou Ryu, Swordsman, Katon Specialist, and host of Hamza, the Seven-Tailed Dragon of The Hidden Leaf. Kugo's brother thought Kugo had been watching the leaves blow through their estate when he had been conveying his excitement about Kugo's opportunity, but the genin had just been trying to distract himself from the overwhelming worry that was accompanying this mission.

He was leaving home, to work alone, with a dangerous jinchuuriki, in a foreign land.

"Huh? What was that, Kenji? I can't hear you, man! Oh! Hey! I think that's my guy! Gotta go, dude! Bye!" With a quick wave and a feigned smile, Kugo strolled over to the jounin that was walking his way. He withheld a chill from seeing the gauntlet and knowing his brother had been right about who Kugo was assigned to work under;

"You're Kojirou-sensei, nah?" Kugo asked and extended a hand out for a promising, regular handshake. "I'm Kugo. Whaddya say we blow this popsicle stand, and quick!"

He didn't want to seem eager, though he did. He just was sick of digging his heels into the ground. He wanted to leave Leaf Village fast.

And get back before they noticed he was gone.
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Old 04-14-2017, 07:37 AM   #2
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Ryu could still remember a time where he wouldn’t have been left alone with one of his own peers, thinking that he was too dangerous and potentially out of control but he had come a long way since that time. As a jinchuuriki, the swordsman had to work harder than most to earn the trust of the hidden leaf. While every one did have high hopes of him, they were extremely weary of what he could do, especially at the earlier stages of his career as a shinobi and especially when he was seen out of control once. One time was all it took for the bijuu host to learn his lesson, but that one time was also all it took for everyone to fear him being unsupervised. It took effort, but the jounin managed to sway the crowds; hence the two promotions since that time.

Teaching wasn’t something he was used to doing much but it was part of his job as a jounin. While he didn’t officially have a team under him, it seemed like he had a single student, at least temporarily. As a jinchuuriki it was important for everyone involved that Ryu learned from the best and so his teachers and tutors were handpicked for him. All he had to do was teach the kid the same way he was taught. The hokage’s grandson is my student. I’m not sure if it’s an odd coincidence or if for some reason the hokage wants his grandson to learn from a bijuu host.

Without thinking too much about the plotting that went on behind the pairing, Ryu headed out to meet his teammate who like him, was specialized in taijutsu and had some knowledge of katon. He seemed to be following a path similar to Ryu’s but their personalities couldn’t have been more different.

The swordsman nodded as a reply to the first question he heard from the kid and shook the hand that was extended towards him. Ryu wasn’t normally one to initiate a handshake, but he wasn’t rude enough to refuse them either.

Huh?” Was all Ryu could muster for a confused reply to what Kugo said. “Do you have the mission scroll with you?

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Old 04-14-2017, 04:18 PM   #3
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"Huh?" Kugo was reeling out of his escape from talking to Kenji, who was still somehow trying to keep up a conversation (from fifty feet away now), waving at Ryu from a vast distance. Kugo almost missed the question. "What? Oh, yeah, yeah. One sec."

Kugo knelt to the ground and in the same swift movement let one strap of his backpack fall off his shoulder so that, by the time he was kneeling, his bag was in front of him, and he was unzipping the deep red pack. What only took about fifteen seconds felt like five minutes, just from the clear amount of stuff that was in the backpack. Kugo always liked to be prepared, and in finding the scroll, lollipop still sticking out of one side of his mouth, he found a bag of chips which he decided to move up to the top of his pack, to anticipate his need once he got hungry on the road.

"Here you go." Kugo thrust the scroll into Ryu's hand, struggling over what to call the jounin. He was pretty sure he was not his sensei, as his older brother had told him that Omoi was still figuring out how and where to place Kugo. It had been made clear by his older brother, who was of Hada, that this mission would be valuable field experience, different from what he would expect in most of his career, but crucial all the same.

Inside the scroll were the directions given to the both of them outlining their mission. Kugo's was addressed specifically to him.
Quote:
Originally Posted by From The Offices of The Hokage
Gyousou,

It has come to our attention that we have failed to congratulate you in graduating from the academy. We are happy to see your hardwork has paid off at long last. Your grandfather has left big shoes to fill, for both the village and for you.

We have come across an interesting request. The Habesobi Clan of Bear Country is requesting our assistance in protecting their family. They have received threats from a warlord in their country. They do not know when they will be acted upon, but they worry it will be soon. I have assigned you to the care of Kojirou Ryu, of Hada. Go to Bear Country, assuage the family's fears, and show them that Leaf cares about the safety of our neighbors.

Who better to represent us than a Gyousou, no?

Good Luck and Godspeed,
The Offices of The Hokage.
As the scroll unrolled, further details were included; a map detailing their travel itinerary, to arrive in Kuma no Kuni in three days, four nights; the name of Habesobi Gun and his wife and daughter; a small breakdown of the political climate of Kuma no Kuni's current political climate in the northwest; a scribbled list of recommended places to eat in the margin, left by Kugo's older brother.

Kugo had forgotten most of the contents within the scroll, except for the fact that there had been no specified end date to the mission, and that they were expected to continue until the Habesobi Clan felt 'safe'. And, of course, his brother's notes.

"There's a place in Himoto called," Kugo poked his head over the unwrapped scroll to check his brother's notes again as Ryu looked the scroll over. "The Sizzling Hoof Dumpling Den."

A finger poked at a handwritten note - 'Order the seafood pancake!' - as Kugo finished donning his backpack.

"We gotta get to moving if we're gonna get there before they close tonight." With that, Kugo began moving down the road, away from Kenji yelling goodbye to the pair. Nervous energy was propelling him forward.

He didn't bother to give himself any time to consider what it meant, to be travelling to another country.
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Old 04-14-2017, 05:25 PM   #4
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The mission hadn’t even really started and Ryu spotted the first flaw in Kugo’s preparations and readiness. It took the kid way too long to sort through his things. Efficiency and an organized inventory was something that he should have been taught in his earliest academy days but to the jounin’s surprise that wasn’t the case at all. The kid was clearly lacking in that area but it was a relatively minor issue that could easily remedied.

Ignoring the hinderance, Ryu grabbed the scroll with his right hand and took a quick look at it just to verify that it was the correct document. Once that was done he crumbled the paper and placed it in his armored left hand and with a tiny bit of chakra to trigger the Kyoudai, it lit up the crumbled paper, quickly turning it into ash.

Mission details are classified. No point in keepin’ that evidence.” He gave the boy a quick lesson and turned to face their destination. “One more thing.

The jinchuuriki paused for a few seconds. He wanted Kugo’s complete attention as he was about to give a disclaimer that he would give any other puny individual that was about to work alongside a host of a demon but that day it was more important than usual. The genin wasn’t just any genin, he was practically royalty.

If you see this gauntlet starting radiate chakra, keep your distance.” The jounin instructed as he pulled up his left sleeve to put the gauntlet in a clearer view. “And if I tell you to scram you fuckin' run like hell. Clear?

Ryu was confident in his ability and self control, but he wasn’t delusional. He completely understood that if surprising circumstances were to arise, he would be forced to unleash all hell upon those circumstances but first he needed to know that Kugo would react properly in such a situation regardless of how unlikely they were to happen.
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Old 04-15-2017, 04:28 PM   #5
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"But-" Kugo stared with one hand extended out, as if he could grab the flakes of ash that had been the scroll. He stared at the ash as it flew and flaked to the ground, trying his best to remember the restaurant recommendations that his brother had given him on the way, but he had forgotten which restaurant was in which town.

He wanted to be disappointed, but the whole mission already had him righteously disappointed about life at that moment. He imagined he would have to earn his chance to eat at the... Sizzling Pig Dumpling Den? Was that even what it had been called? Something about the name didn't feel right.

Kugo snapped back to attention as Ryu spoke, and spoke about his gauntlet. Kugo had been watching it's intricate black metal move, accented by silver decorations in certain spots. It looked like a fitting house for a demon dragon.

"Yep. All clear, here."

It was going to be a long day.

- || - || - || -

It had been a long day.

Since their introduction at the gates, the trip to Himoto had been relatively quiet and unexciting. Nothing surprised Kugo about leaping through the forests to catch up to their planned timeline. The way that the man with the cart had nodded to the shinobi as they passed each other on the road was unsurprising. It was classic for interactions in the middle of the country to still hold a lot of appeal for Leaf Shinobi.

Kugo had decided that he wouldn't ask questions about things he saw on the road, as he had decided that Kojirou Ryu was the kind of guy that liked to burn a boy's hopes and dreams to ashes. He was just another serious shinobi, and that bored Kugo.

"Himoto." Kugo exhaled. It was the first word he had said in a few miles.

The entry to Himoto was stunning. The precious jewel of Fire Country, it seemed almost as if the city had just grown out of the hill it seemed to sit on. Small streams ran down the mountainside, trees poked up on each of the seven levels of Himoto, the top level housing the Daimyo, and the other six descending to where they now stood, where the locals and visitors came. Despite being the lowest tier in the city, it was still pristine, clean, and beautiful.

The pair entered the village gates quietly, and around them, in the early evening, life still bustled, though it was winding down. Kugo was trying to remember the directions to the Sizzling Hoof Dumpling Den (he had remembered the right name in his silent journey). He wasn't going to bring it up again.

Instead, he tried to remember some sort of important detail from the burned scroll.

"Our accommodations are in the western seventh tier. It's the typical inn for shinobi in Himoto." He had been to Himoto many times, but most of his time had been spent in the top five tiers. He figured Ryu knew the seventh tier like the back of his hand by now.

He didn't look over at the jounin. He was busy letting a nearby garden calm his soul. The city was very tranquil at night. Kugo wondered what other joys it might hold, waiting for his jounin to offer some sort of command.
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Old 04-15-2017, 11:19 PM   #6
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Unfortunately, the mission didn't detail exactly when they would rendezvous, so Yuri was doing exactly nothing until the last moment and he was savoring every moment. If he had the choice between doing something, not doing something, or doing nothing, Yuri would do nothing every time. He wouldn't choose it. He would just do nothing because he had an option not to. Yuri had sauntered into Himoto with a grieved face, expecting a babysitter mission to be an awful nuisance.

So why was the genin with the Dragon man? That man was a liability. To carry a tailed beast's power inside meant a life of fighting against immeasurable chakra. And people had a funny habit of not fighting against something for life. People always made mistakes. And in cases like this, mistakes were a tactical nightmare, which explained why Yuri was there.

When things were needed to be done by the book, they found someone else. When they wanted things done that would reflect best on Konoha, they hired Yuri. He had made his fame as a fixer of sorts, infiltrating tough situation and turning the tides, all while whistling out their secrets to his superiors. Recently he had to help a town elect a leader. Now Yuri couldn't tell who it was or why, but it's safe to say that who should have won certainly did. Blackmail was illegal. Encouraging a vote because new friends could help maintain a tremendous image was certainly something else.

And Yuri didn't even have to kill anyone. Sometimes his job was just plain easy.

Now, the Hokage didn't directly tell Yuri the mission. Instead he received a scroll from a well-dressed chuunin. This wasn't uncommon, but normally Yuri's missions were straight from the Fire Horse's mouth, so to say.

Was that why Yoshiyuki Yuri, resident 100% but never extra credit Jounin, was placed in the city? To make sure the Brand Name Genin and Demon Man behaved? Or was it a clerical mistake, sending two men there? Either way, Yuri did fine in gray, murky areas.

When it came to Yuri, things always had a way of coming out black and white.

"Oi," he shouted. "Did you know I was your rendezvous? Yoshiyuki Yuri reporting. Nice night, welcome to the city. Let's get this finished, please. And nice to meet you, your Demon Dragonness. You are truly something."

Yuri winked. A little playful flutter that was oddly flirtatious but devoid of any actual impulse. It was akin to a kiss on the cheek, but from an unexpected but attractive person. It was to catch people off guard. He liked when people kept guessing.

"And Hokage-in-training. Let's do our best."

He winked again. The devil.
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Old 04-16-2017, 05:57 AM   #7
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The pair finally arrived at Himoto after an extremely uneventful journey. It was an impressive city with way too many statues for Ryu’s taste, but he could appreciate the efforts behind its design. It was a fancy and safe place with lovely sights; heaven for those who could afford living there, but Ryu wasn’t interested in daydreaming about that. His purpose in life had already been decided about two decades ago and it didn’t involve a life of luxury. He was actually spoiled by the hidden leaf but in very different ways.

Just as the jounin was about to decide on his destination within the city, he was called by a fellow leaf shinobi. A very talkative leaf shinobi who seemed to be involved in the mission somehow. Normally Ryu would have been informed about an additional teammate but for some reason there was no mention of this Yuri anywhere. Based on what the jinchuuriki knew about the mission, a single jounin was more than enough to handle it and the genin was there to learn from an expert. Additional support seemed rather unnecessary. New intel suggest additional manpower is required?

Did something happen?” Ryu wondered. “I wasn’t expecting to meet anyone here.

The bijuu host lived a huge part of his life knowing that those in charge in the village didn’t trust him with much. He was always supervised and carefully deployed but that changed and he felt the shackles being loosened, especially when he was promoted. An out of control demon host and a loose cannon wouldn’t have been given the responsibilities of a jounin and so Ryu was fairly certain that Yuri didn’t attend as supervision, but rather as supplementary manpower.

Brief me.” Ryu kindly requested of the new teammate.
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Old 04-16-2017, 04:00 PM   #8
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Kugo was as surprised as Ryu seemed to be. The man that had walked towards the pair had some sense of elegance about him, so much so that Kugo had already noticed Yuri walking by, before in fact realizing that Yuri was not walking by but towards them.

Again, having spent the majority of the trip silent, Kugo was still finding when and where he could be allowed to talk. Certainly, the Hokage-in-training comment made his stomach turn, and the hair on the back of his neck give rise. Another poke and prod at his heritage. They were a daily occurrence, and a part of him had hoped that he would get away from it once he had left Konoha. Unfortunately, this new career he had graduated into was beginning to show that it would only follow him closer.

Kugo ground his foot into the stony path, the effect not the same as when he had done it at the Hidden Village gates.

"Nice to meet you." And that was it.

Until Ryu began to talk again, showing that he was that kind of guy who had been so tortured by his role as a Demon host that he was just not that good at being a regular human. So gruff. So commanding. Kugo never wanted to be like that.

"Oi, Ryu-sama." Kugo looked at the jounin with the gauntlet for the first time since their arrival in the city. "Didn't it say something about a rendezvous point in Himoto in the mission scroll?"

That you burned up to ash along with those delicious restaurant recommendations.


Kugo wasn't really sure if he was speaking the truth or not. He was mostly just prodding at his pained ego. He was excited to go somewhere where the only thing that mattered was how good their pot sticker or chicken broth was, and not how many missions you had completed or whose grandfather had stuck it to whose grandmother and gave birth to which father of a grandson of a Hokage.

For now, he was stuck between the two.

From deep within him, a grumble rose up from his stomach.

"Hey, guys. Can we do this talk over dim sum? I know a place."
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Old 04-16-2017, 08:28 PM   #9
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"His highness is right, surely the briefing can wait. Or at least we'll walk and talk," he said, smiling, a cruel little glimmer dancing in the corner of his eyes. Eating was preferable to the horrible blandness of focusing on a mission. They followed the young boy, two adult jounin walking behind a boy. What a strange little family.

"I was only informed that we were to meet with some rather fascinating clan members. Apparently they were quite the nuisance to a respectable warlord."

Some might miss his tone, a soft lilt slipping through his slick exterior, letting those who heard it understand his humorous intentions. Then again, if someone took him at face value, that could be opportunistic as well. Angering others could often serve a useful purpose in gathering intel. People had boiling points, and Yuri had an innate understanding of just how far he could push someone off a cliff. Yuri loved those moments where a mark lost himself, outrage clouding their judgment.

"I was told I was to rendezvous with Baby Hokage here, not that I would meet up with another babysitter. I am pleasantly surprised. Food would be delightful."

The city was beautiful at night. Here and there a bustling of people moved inquiry groups, huddled close in conversation. Some stood together, politely looking interested in what the others muttered, stopping only to nod encouragingly and add a statement to further conversation. Off on a side street sat an elderly woman on a broken down chair, surveying the passersby, smiling serenely. Tea lights on tiny windowsills spotted the street like vibrant ellipses the city was one day going to finish. Even the child dashing his fastest down the street with a satchel flailing wildly behind him seemed calm compared to the frantic muggings of Konoha.
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Old 04-17-2017, 02:55 AM   #10
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The other two members of the group seemed more interested in their bellies than they were with the mission itself, or with the confusion that was going on right then. Seeing how that the belly indulgence didn’t seem to directly interfere with the mission, Ryu didn’t object to it. In fact, he was a willing participant so he, along with the other jounin following the kid in through town.

"The rendezvous point was for a contact for the mission, someone on the client's behalf." Ryu informed the genin. "Not another shinobi from the village."

Babysitter did sound like an relatively accurate description of what Ryu was doing that day, but if a mission were that simple why was there a second jounin there? If the hidden leaf had such a surplus of jounin hanging around they sure would have made better use of them.

Even though Yuri showed up already knowing the mission details Ryu knew better than to immediately trust him. It was the jounin’s job to be cautious and to teach the genin some vigilance. It also didn’t help that Ryu didn’t recognize Yuri from the village. There were plenty of shinobi that Ryu didn’t know so he couldn’t hold that against the man, but it would have helped his case if the swordsman did recognize Yuri.

Do you have proof of your involvement in the mission? Mission scroll or something.
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