Date: August 28, 2010
Jon takes Seiji and Chichi out to the falls for training, but it turns out he has a rather grim exercise in mind…
"A Brush With Death For a New Life"
Raiun Falls [Land of Lightning]
A dull roar is omnipresent in this area, the sound of many thousands of gallons of water a minute flowing down from the heights. The falls are almost 100 feet high, a sharp cliff face with the water pouring off into a natural basin. It flows southwards, the rush of water forming a small river that goes down a smaller set of falls, known as rips. The area is filled with a thin amount of mist.
It appears as if a titanic battle occurred here sometime in the past. A large swath of earth has been blackened and melted by some intense source of heat, charring the stone sides of the waterfall and condensing to a point roughly a quarter of a mile away. The ground is also shattered, as if by an incredibly violent, localized earthquake. In addition, there is a collection of deep gouges, seemingly from fantastically large blades thrust into a tight radius, and three moderately sized craters riddle the area. Off to the side of the waterfall is a large wall of solid iron several feet in thickness, almost reaching the full height of the falls themselves. The wall seems to have burst up from the ground very close to the cliff face. With so much mist in the air, the metal has begun to rust. Nevertheless, it remains standing, as if watching over this pocket of utter destruction in an otherwise scenic setting.
To the south, it flows into a rather calm lake, really nothing more then a very wide and shallow valley that has filled up with water from the falls. To the north southwest and southeast lay trails going out to either side of the large mountain, completely different paths that meet at the peak. They are joined by a small bridge which crosses the river coming down from the basin of the falls.
Jon trudges along the path toward Raiun Falls, leading a certain pair of genin. His head is bowed, and he's been pretty silent on the way out here. That's not so unusual for him, granted that Scruvo isn't present to keep up a steady stream of talk…but that in itself is odd. Jon hasn't said much to Chichi or Seiji, either, just instructing them to follow him out here for some special training. Whatever the training is, it seems to have Jon's mind pretty heavily occupied.
It has been a while since Seiji has seen Jon, but it was nice to be called on to do some training. Normally used to seeing the crow Scruvo around, he found it a bit strange that he wasn't around. Jon-sensei was normally quiet, and seeing this not too much out of the norm. Looking over to Chichi who was walking with them, he winks at her. "Wonder what Jon-sensei is going to train us in?" he whispers to her. But then again even she may not know, but it does give him reason to whisper to her.
Chichi has spent a number of months doing her usual training to improve as a ninja, as well as more >unique< training to gain control over the power of the Tailed Beast within her. She was not sure yet, but it seemed to her as though the monster inside was not quite awake… It was as if the Seal that contained it was weakened, but the the thing itself was not fully aware of where it was, or what was going on.
'Good,' Chichi had told herself. 'That means that I have more time to master it. Hopefully it will stay asleep for a nice long time — or maybe forever! I'll become strong enough to protect the entire Village, and then no one will hate me anymore.' That is what she had told herself. But though she tried to pump herself up about her plan, the more she trained to control the Eight-Tails, the more she felt bad… Not only about herself, but also the creature she was trying to control. She felt like a parasite, feeding off the strength of another — and one who could not even defend himself at that! — instead of relying upon her own strength. She also felt sorry for the so-called monster. It had been locked in the darkness for how long now? 17 years? She thought that she had been alone for a long time… But even the hatred of others was >something<. To not know a human voice, or a human face, or human touch… To be denied fresh air, or sunlight… And friendship… Had the Eight-Tails ever had any friends at all? And now it had been sealed inside of Chichi for the same time that she had been alive, with none of the things she enjoyed. Even Chichi, after most of her life spent shunned by others, now had friends, and people she cared about, and who cared about her in return.
What did this 'Ushi-Oni' have? Nothing. It was completely and utterly alone.
Chichi felt bad about not relying on her own skill and strength, and she felt bad about how the Eight-Tails providing her with strength was being treated, which in turn made her feel even >worse< about using the strength it was providing! This had hindered her progress with drawing upon the Eight-Tails's powers fully. Her motivation to continue was not strong enough. So she made do with what she had, for the most part, and focused on developing skills and abilities that were hers alone.
Thus, when Jon called her and Seiji for 'special training', she was excited well beyond what might be considered reasonable. Saito Jon knew many techniques, and if he trained her then that would be one more step towards not being reliant upon the Tailed Beast inside of her. Turning to Seiji, she whispers back, "I dunno', but I bet this will be >completely awesome<! Maybe if we master whatever he's about to teach us, we'll become so strong they make us Chuunin!" She snaps her fingers. "Just like >that<! That'd be great for you, too. It'd allow you to become a Hunter-Nin that much sooner!"
Jon leads Chichi and Seiji to the edge of the cliff, right next to the falls. On arriving, Jon stares out over the rushing waters for a while. It's a hypnotic sight: all that power, changing shape every second, yet flowing steadily. Finally, Jon turns around and looks at the genin. For a moment, his expression seems blank, almost dead…but finally he offers them a smile. "Today I'll be demonstrating a technique for augmenting strength," he says, speaking loudly to be heard above the falls. "It's nothing unfamiliar in principle, just the old idea of using your chakra to give your muscles a brief burst of extra power. Mainly, the point of this is to show you the heights to which such techniques can multiply your strength, when you refine it well enough."
Jon slowly steps forward toward the genin. "To practice this, the exercise we'll use will be to throw heavy objects as far as we can into the river. We'll keep trying until you can surpass a certain goal." Jon stops beside Seiji and puts one hand on his shoulder, pointing out over the river with the other. "See that rock spur jutting up out of the water, just before the falls?" Jon grips Seiji's shoulders tightly and murmurs in his ear. "Hold on tight, Seiji-kun."
Suddenly, there is a spurt of chakra from the soles of Jon's feet, and he spins around, lifting Seiji off the ground. After one quick turn, Jon hurls the boy out over the river, to a point just upstream of the rock spur.
Snickering and giving Chichi the thumbs up, "I hope so. But you have to become a Hunter Nin too you know." he smirks at Chichi. The friendship between the two has grown quite a bit and also their closeness. Seiji has been working on quite a bit, his training seeming to never cease, also now that he has a sister sword that matches his primary. His kenjutsu skills has increased quite a bit, but he was still far from where he wanted to be. "But all things aside Chichi-chan, we have to hit Chuunin, I think we've grown quite a bit and there is no stopping us now." he chuckles.
As they reach the summit and Jon-sensei begins talking to them about using chakra to enhance their strength, "That would be ver…." Seiji starts to say but when Jon-Sensei rest a hand on his shoulder and points the the rock jutting out of the water. "Umm…Jon-Sensei.." he says looking a bit nervous. But then he is >THROWN!< "AAAAHHHHHH……" he screams as he goes flying. Seeing that rock and river was getting closer and closer, he reaches out with his right hand trying to grab the rock but misses and hits the water. But as he starts being swept away, and using water walking to at least assist him in swimming, Seiji manages to reach out and grab a wider rock, which isn't far from where the first one he attempted to grab, which is the one Jon-sensei told him to grab. Holding on to it, as the water is splashing him in the face, "I need help!" he hollers out, as he tries to pull himself closer to the rock. What the hell was Jon thinking, throwing him in here. Trying not to panic the dark skinned Yotsuki genin holds on for dear life.
Chichi blinks. "Me? A Hunter-nin!? Hah! I'm way too clumsy for that! And I'm not smart enough, either. No, thanks. I'd rather become some kind of… Of… Ultimate… Village… Protector… …Nin. Or something. I can stand in front of Kumogakure's front gates and be all, 'HALT. WHO GOES THERE.'! I wound what my job description would be… 'Road block' maybe? OOO. Maybe I could be a wandering super-heroine, traveling the wilderness and stopping crimes! Yeah, that's the ticket! I'll probably need a costume too--" and she goes on and on like this until they reach a location on the banks of the mighty, fast-moving river (or one of them) that feeds Raiun Falls.
Once they have stopped and Jon begins to explain, Chichi nods eagerly. "Yeah, uh-huh!? >Strength< techniques, you say? Why, that's my specialty!" She preens a bit, with her hands on her hips, and eyes closed. She nods firmly several times. Then the kunoichi watches as their sensei grabs Seiji and throws him through the air. Unlike Seiji, Chichi just calmly follows the path of the Magnificent Flying Swordsman as her arcs high above and descends into the river with a mighty *splash*! Then she just continues watching with a broad, vapid smile on her face.
Seiji is swept downstream, towards a rock, and hangs on there. "Ooo!" She cups her hands around her mouth and calls out, "Good one, Seiji-kun! You hang onto that rock! Yeah! Just like that! Whooooo!" Her cheers and encouragement seem to indicate a lack of understanding about what exactly is going on. She quiets down just in time to hear Seiji call out for help. She blows it off completely. "Pish-tosh, Seiji-kun! I can't help you! That would defeat the purpose of this… Uhh… Strength training! …Yeah!"
She now seems a bit less certain. Eyebrows lowering, she just keeps on watching, and wondering where the 'strength' part comes in. Is Seiji supposed to use Chakra to resist the pull of the river and--GASP! "YOUR PIKA!" she cries out. That was probably supposed to be 'Eureka'. "THAT'S IT! SEIJI-KUUUUUN~!" She yells and waves a hand. "Use your Chakra to enhance your strength and then…" She pauses dramatically, before pointing upstream. "…SWIM UP THE RIVER TO SAFETY!" :D :D :D
It's a good thing Jon-sensei is standing ready to rescue Seiji if he gets too tired! He'd be in and out in a flash! Just like >that<! *Imaginary fingersnap noise* …Right? Chichi looks towards the Jounin, to make sure he's prepared to act.
Jon watches Seiji carefully. He un-tenses slightly when Seiji manages to grab onto the rock, but he's still pretty grim. When Chichi calls out cheerfully to encourage Seiji, Jon shakes his head sorrowfully. "No, Chichi-chan. Actually, this training is for you."
Jon folds his arms. "There's not much time to explain, I don't think Seiji-kun can hang on for long. I've been investigating those teachers you used to have that were trying to bring out the Eight-Tails's power by beating you. It goes deeper than I thought. Those men were working for others, powerful people both in the Village and the Land of Lightning's government. I could've tried to expose them, but some of them just wouldn't go down so easy. So I did the best thing I could for you: I put just enough pressure on them to get them to the bargaining table, then I told them I'd give them what they wanted. I told them I'd help you to gain control of the Eight-Tails's power, if they'd let me take charge of it. Since their own methods hadn't been working, they agreed."
Jon looks over to Chichi. "But they're getting impatient again. They've threatened to take extreme measures if I don't give them results soon. So we have to get them those results, and this is the only way I can think of to do it." Jon puts his hands on Chichi's shoulders. "It kills me to do this, Chichi-chan, but if I don't, they will, and it'll be even worse. It's as simple as this: if you don't use the Eight-Tails's power, you will die, and so will Seiji-kun. It's all up to you."
And then, there's another spurt of chakra…and Chichi is sailing out to join Seiji.
The rushing river pounds into Seiji, trying to rip him from the rock hes gripping. Shaking his head, trying to clear his vision, it wasn't working. The cold water bites into his flesh, but Seiji continues to apply chakra through his hands to help him hold onto the rock. "Shit." he says as he looks up and sees nothing but water as it whips against his face. Snorting water out of his nose and giving a small cough as he accidentally opened his mouth. A strong current hits him and the rock, and Seiji feels the rock shift. His grip slackens, he starts to worry, 'Jon-sensei, or Chichi-chan help me…' he thinks. 'I can't hold on much longer.'. He knew it would be futile to holler, now that the water was rushing faster and he didn't want to risk opening his mouth again.
Chichi listens intently to Jon as he explains, trying to understand what he's saying over the roar of the powerful nearby river that feeds Raiun Falls. When Jon has completed his explanation, and placed his hands on the kunoichi's shoulders, she has only one, single response to all that has been said, about her former teachers, their connections, and how Jon has to appease them, and all of that! She just looks Jon dead in the eye, expression sort of :o and says, "…Huh?"
>And then she is flying through the air, thanks to Jon throwing her!< She blinks. A little while after that she is >landing in the river<! She is carried downstream and grabs hold of the rock that Seiji is holding onto, destroying his already tenuous grip on that same slippery rock! However, before Seiji can drift too far, one hand whips out and seizes the Yotsuki teenager by whatever is closest, whether that be clothing, his arm, his >nose<, his >hair<(!?)… Turning her head to her right side as she hangs onto that rock with her left hand, red hair plastered to her head and face from the water, she coughs a bit as some moisture goes down her throat and calls out, "Uhh, hi, Seiji-kun! Funny meeting you here! Just hanging around?" Keep things light! Don't give in to stress or worry! And above all else: Don't panic! If you can't laugh at imminent death, then you have already lost! These are the Totally Official Ninja Rules that Chichi has made up completely just now.
But they aren't helping her or Seiji get out of here, and what Jon told her is still ringing in her head. Awaken the power of the Eight-Tails? But she's already >done< that! …Maybe she should have told someone? Well, no use worrying about the past! Time to do this training! She focuses, trying to gather the Chakra she has become much better at controlling, and channeling it into her hand holding onto that rock as Seiji likes dangles at the end of the Jinchuuriki's right hand like a fishing bobber, a >very< short distance away from going over the edge.
But she is under no delusions. This is just to maintain her grip. She might not >like< using the Eight-Tails's power, but that's what this training is >for<. So she digs deep within herself, trying to gather power from the very core of her body — or at least that's how she envisions it. Gradually, the invisible-to-normal-eyes Chakra that surrounds Chichi's left hand darkens and shifts to bright red.
It begins to grow into a larger aura of power that thickens, and gains small 'bubbles' of energy within it. The red Chakra flows over Chichi's body, enshrouding her in power… Her left hand is no longer just surrounded in energy but is covered in a 'paw'-like structure made of solidified Chakra. 'Hooves' form on her feet, and 'horns' on her head. And gradually, a single tail of Chakra emerges from the point in her Bijuu Cloak that is directly over the base of her spine.
She tightens her grip on the stone in her left hand/paw, and hopes that Seiji can tolerate a bit of stinging and burning of his flesh, if that's what's being touched by her right hand.
Chichi pushes with just her left hand, and the increased strength she has received allows her to both completely shatter that hand-hold, >and< hurl herself forward several feet! Seiji comes with. She then tries to start swimming >upstream< and >against the flow of the raging river< with only >one hand<. Surprisingly, this actually sort-of-works. She is not making in progress, but each stroke of her arm pushes her forwards. The problem is that in between strokes, slips backwards further than she went forwards… The water steams and sizzles all around Chichi. She can't see where she's going, but she hopes it's towards the shore.
Jon stares hard at the scene in the middle of the river. It's awfully difficult to see what's going on, of course; it's a pretty fair distance, most of the two genin is obscured by the water, and—oh look, now there's steam. Will Chichi-san actually make it?
The hairs on the back of Jon's neck rise, and he tightens his jaw. "Looks like you're finally getting results." Jon glances down at the head which has just poked out from camouflage against a nearby boulder. "This is much too fast," Jon replies, "for either of us. Chichi-san won't grow into a proper adult /or/ a proper warrior being pushed like this." The furtive stranger chuckles damply. "My masters beg to differ. If even half the power of Bijuu can get out, that will be enough for our uses. A wild beast doesn't need to be taught how to fight elegantly, only to smash whatever we point it at." Jon declines to reply, instead turning his gaze back to the swim for survival. Come on, Chichi-san…
Seiji's arm was stinging and burning, as the Bijuu cloak burned through the arm of his shirt and now as he is being held all he is able to do is grunt. Looking up and seeing the red chakra all around Chichi, he looks astonished. He hadn't seen her Bijuu Cloak or for that matter anything regarding the Bijuu in her. He quickly grips her arm with his hand, "Come on Chichi-chan, we can do this." he says to her. He doesn't use she, but we as he too tries to help by kicking his feet as hard as he can to help push them further up stream. Gritting his teeth, and kicking as hard as he can, Seiji does what he can. With the water splashing all around him and Chichi, Seiji focuses his chakra all around him and kicking hard.
Chichi is in control at the moment, but she doesn't know how long she can maintain this Chakra field around her and use its benefits without risking waking up the Eight-Tails. Seiji's Chakra-infused swimming helps, but in the end, they just aren't making enough progress. Chichi's strength is enhanced by the Bijuu Chakra, and her normal endurance is exceptional — beyond an average Chuunin for sure! But the combination of having to use only one arm, and swimming constantly for several long minutes, as the river continues to push her backwards relentlessly, leaves even the Jinchuuriki feeling a bit fatigued. Seiji will probably be even >more< tired by this point.
This futile struggle is… Well… Futile! Chichi starts to feel her own skin burning a bit, and the water around her is failing to soothe it at all. This has gone on for too long… She has to find a better way! She considers trying to blindly throw Seiji towards land, but she has no clear idea of where land >is<. She could just condemn him to the same death she helped him avoid to begin with. She would have both arms free, however, and might be able to save herself. And if she were lucky, he would land safely and there would be no problem.
Risk her best friend's life to save herself? Or struggle until Jon realizes she can't keep going, and hope he rescues her? And if he doesn't, then… Then what? Will she die? Will Seiji die too!? If they die together… Will that be better than living with the knowledge that she would toss her friendship aside to save herself?
She knew innately that the answer was 'Yes'. She would not abandon her friend. Not for any reason. If she had to die, then so be it. 'But there is just one problem with that…'
She stops trying to swim, and instead just wraps Seiji in her Chakra tail and tries to hold him above the water as best she can as she lets the river pull her towards the edge, and oblivion.
'Even if I die… Seiji-kun won't die with me!' Then she calls out loud, "He'll >LIVE!<" And right then, they are both swept over the edge. The kunoichi tries to find the power within her to pull off a miraculous save… She tries to dredge up as much of the Eight-Tails's power as she can… Distantly there is the concern about waking it up, but this is a life-and-death situation! She is >hanging in the air for a half-second and then she will fall to her death, and take Seiji with her!< 'Come on!' she thinks desperately as momentum and gravity combine to send her into the long descent to her doom.
It's a strange sensation, being swept over a waterfall. You're falling, but not quite through air; you're in water, but not really being buoyed by it. The water is spread out all around you, spattering against your skin like a heavy rain or a splash from a huge bucket, but there's plenty enough of it that you can't really breathe. More than anything else, you desperately want just a gulp of air, even if you know that it won't do you any good once you hit the bottom. And the bottom really is so very far down, so that you wonder how long it could possibly be before it's finally ended by that springy—wait, springy? o.O
When Chichi and Seiji's fall /is/ ended, actually about halfway down, they find themselves in a damp cave behind the waterfall, with lots of rush mats strewn around to cushion their tumble. At the mouth of the cave, a wide net of thick ropes, supported by two strong poles, is spread out like a pair of strong hands, ready to catch any large objects that come down (like genin) while allowing the water to rush on unopposed. Further investigation of the surroundings is sure to bring to attention a wooden box sitting on a rock shelf nearby. Inside is a scroll, with handwriting inside that may be familiar to the pair.
Chichi-chan and Seiji-kun,
If you are reading this, it means that Chichi-chan did not awaken the beast sleeping inside of her. On the whole, I'm glad for this. It means that Chichi-chan will not have to go through life being treated as a weapon. But, it does mean that the two of you have a hard road ahead of you. You must leave Kumogakure immediately, quietly and without being seen, so that those who wanted to use Chichi-chan will believe she is dead.
Seiji-kun, I'm sorry to get you wrapped up in this, but Chichi-chan is going to need a friend by her side, somebody clever and capable who cares about her. Your mother and grandparents are some of the very few people I've told about this plan, and they agreed to it. In a way, this will be the best training you could get for becoming a Hunter-nin. You'll learn what it's like to live a life in hiding, how a person on the run thinks and sees and feels. You won't be hunted if everything goes the way I hope, but you must keep yourself and Chichi as unnoticeable as you can to keep it that way. Watch over her and guide her steps to places where you'll both be safe.
Chichi-chan, this is the start of a new life for you. Nobody will try to make you be the thing that lives inside you instead of who you are. But, there will be nobody but Seiji-kun to take care of you either, at least at first. Watch out for each other, and try to find a place where you can belong. Also, this is very important: only use the Eight-Tails's power if you really, REALLY have to. Words about amazing strength travel quickly, and if they reach the ears of bad people, even if it's not the ones who were hurting you before, you could be in great danger.
If you follow this cave, it will lead you to the base of the mountain. Someday, hopefully, you can return here. Even though those trying to use the Eight-Tails have a lot of influence, there are many others in power who would not support them, including Raikage-sama. I will do what I can to bring them to justice. In the meantime, I hope you'll fare well on your journey.
Though the scroll was read, the cavern path followed, the departure from Kumogakure enacted, and a new life begun, prior to all of that, there had been an >incident<. It was on the way down the waterfall. Chichi woke up in the cave, but when she lost consciousness, it was not due to fear, or stress, or anything else. She passed out because she had gone somewhere >inside<. She didn't know that. She didn't know where she was, or how she got there, or how she'd get out. She just knew that she had been falling, and now she was standing. What was she standing on? Solid stone. Why couldn't she see much? Because there was smoke in the air. No, not smoke. Fog. Mist. It was cold and wet, not hot and foul. The fog was hiding everything.
But the fog was also in motion. There was something churning it regularly, repetitively. Almost like… Breathing? Chichi felt like this was a dream, but so far everything was also tangible and real… At least as far as her body's senses could tell. So she walked towards the source of the breathing. Eventually, after stumbling her way across the uneven and rocky floor, she was able to >hear< the breathing. And then, when she was close enough, as the thunderous rushing of air filled her ears, and the warmth of the breath itself swept over her, she could >see< what was breathing. It was a monster. An outline of some huge form, only dimly-lit by some unseen, low-level, ambient glow. It was huge, though. Far larger than Chichi herself. She doubted a hundred of her could have made up the same amount of mass as this creature. She was so awe-struck that she failed to take in the subtle details, such as the enormous, metal chains that emerged from the solid stone floor and wrapped around the black shape looming over her. She didn't notice the way that the chains were covered in Seals, and that it was these Seals that were producing the light with their glow.
But she noticed one thing for certain. She noticed when the breathing of the monster changed. She noticed when its barely-identifiable eyelids twitched… And then the eyes opened, casting a baleful light on the fog-filled cavern, and on Chichi herself. Chichi saw the Eight-Tails. And the Eight-Tails saw her.
Chichi awoke in a different cave, Seiji unconscious by her side, and burned all over. The sound of her own scream echoed in her mind long after awakening and beginning upon the path set before the two Genin. But she just hoped that had been a dream. Because otherwise… The first sentence of Saito Jon's scroll had been wrong. The beast was awake.
But that wasn't going to stop her. She was a failure, but this was too important to fail at. Seiji's life depended on her now. For at >least< his sake, she would survive, grow stronger, and one day… She would return home.