Loki (emitter), Meruin
Date: December 17, 2013
Meruin hunts the attackers of the kiri genin… only to find more questions than answers
"A New Direction - Hunter Turns Hunted"
Hidden Tropical Oasis
Meruin appears within the trees of the tropical oasis.
The Okumo's calm, pupiless eyes — black orbs filled with slowly writhing mists — examined the area about him. He spent this time letting his eyes acclimate, having just left the darkness of the caverns behind, and searching for information regarding the location of his quarry.
2:53 PM, Hidden Oasis, Slightly north of the water.
Meruin had judged that this time of day would be the best for searching out the man — and the spiders — that had assaulted his students. It was a little before the time between the other two encounters took place. Which meant that the most likely time to meet his target was swiftly approaching, and the window of opportunity could swiftly be closing afterwards.
It was time to move.
The Kirigakure Jounin started off through the trees, beginning a sweep of the land in search of his mark. He was already in a hunter state, senses enhanced and training emphasized to the point that even from the treetops, the evidence on the ground below was easily brought to his attention as he moved, either taken into consideration or discarded as need be. But his focus was not only on the ground but the trees around him. Especially with notice of spiders around, despite the fact that he suspected they may be of a burrowing type. Regardless, it was time to hunt.
The entire area has been used, frequently, in several places by various people. Sometimes by genin, who train away from prying eyes, sometimes by chuunin, practicing stealth or other techniques, sometimes by someone of… higher abilities. Thus multiple trails seem to unfold, but things come to an end seemingly innocently a lot. Even the spiders in the caves coming into this place have seen far too many people come through here to be of much help.
That's not to say there isn't areas of interest, however. In the caves themselves, leading toward the area where the first attack happened, rapidly settling unsettled earth and rock seem to lead in a trail through various microfissures brought into being by nature. But these trails, of which there are three, are anything but normal. For one thing, they're huge, easily larger than anything that should seem natural. Whatever made them are very large, but used to moving around undetected. In fact, if it weren't for Meruin's skill and his state of mind, he would not have been able to tell what they were at all. But with his increased senses, it's likely whatever these were caused the tremors reported by the young genin, and they were /not/ made by spiders.
What was made by spiders, however were several areas where immense, very strong webs were set up, each easily capable of ensnaring a human, or a comparative-sized animal. Similar "trap doors" much like what some sub-terrainian spiders would make, are also prevelent. The size of the webs and trap doors indicate that these spiders are easily summon-worthy size, and varying sizes to boot. All are abandoned, but there is evidence of more recent occupation the closer Meruin gets to a location about half-way to the ruins from where the first attack happened. The signs of human movement amongst this trail shows mainly in the trees, about three-fourths of the way up normally.
Much to discern.
As always, there were hundreds of signs of movement in a place where both people and animals frequented. Damaged plant life was unreliable for this quarry and the amount of time between when the last known assaults had happened and now. Prints were of some use, but only to a limited extent for more than one reason. Most of what was seen was ignored. Some was stored away as a potential sign for his quarry and his brood.
But eventually, his search did yield evidence that had a very high chance of being related to the shinobi with the affinity for spiders. And large ones. He identified the various classifications of arachnid and their use, finding even evidence of… modified species. Either such that his own clan would create or those found within Fukaizen, realm of the Spider Queen. Seal melding seems to be a potential.
The first webs and dens had clearly been abandoned. But moving further northward towards the ruins, as he'd suspected, yielded signs of more recent occupation. Less breakage in the silk. More bundles of consumed prey, some of them beginning to retain a scent. And, perhaps most importantly, human travel through the trees… Now on a trail, he could do nothing but follow it, flickering between the trees, studying the signs, and continuing on in the hopes of finding his quarry with enough stealth to choose how the first moments of their encounter go.
It's not long before Meruin finds further signs of human movement, some within a very short period of time. Soon Meruin notices someone high up in the trees, seemingly peering off toward the ruins. The face of the man, for it is a man, is hidden. He doesn't seem to notice Meruin's approach, and neither do the various spiders, of varying size, nearby. One thing is telling, however, the fact that the man is sitting on a perch made of spider silk, of a kind that should be very familiar to Meruin… since it comes from his own clan… He seems to be just watching the entrance for this cavern, though there are several objects within easy reach, including a scroll or three. No weapons though, at least not any known ninja weapons. Just a couple of metal orbs of no discernable use.
Meruin settled where he'd last appeared, eyes up on the man with the hidden face surrounded by the various spiders. He fit the physical descriptions given by the children who had come into contact with him. There were the spiders mentioned, what he could see of them fitting his knowledge of just what would leave behind the signs he'd seen en route. And more, there was spider silk of the man's own.
So it was true. The man was an Okumo. From what era, and of what status within the clan, he could not yet say. But there was little denying that he was one of the clan, having seen the silk he used to rest within the trees. There were no others who could, to his knowledge, produce the spider silk that his clansmen could, their draining properties unique. Though, it seemed as though those the foreign shinobi sat atop were another type of silk, not used for draining and combat. It looked more like the type Meruin used as clothing.
Regardless, the target had been found and action must be taken. It looked as though he had been here for some time, and the Kirigakure Jounin saw no signs of the man leaving. He was watching the entrance of the cavern, which meant that Meruin's decision to leave its darkness by flickering directly into the trees was necessary. He could read no sign that he had been detected, that the man was a decoy, or that he was being baited into a trap. So it was time to move.
A blade of black grew from Meruin's fingertips, forming into a katana with a serrated edge. A blade to rip and tear at an opponent, this one made from his own, durable chitin. He would not kill right away, as he wanted to garner what information he could from the man, but he needed to establish an upper hand in their early meeting. Detaining him in some manner would likely prove counterable and ineffective. A hands on approach would probably lead to him simply secreting silk from his pores to escape, which could also leave Meruin in a worse position. Doing so from a slight distance left the spiders without a reason to avoid attacking him and gave the shinobi a chance to attempt to escape. And many Okumo were somewhat toxin resistant.
This would be a fight. The best way of establishing an early lead and the ability to better control where they were going was through damage. And severe damage. So he would continue in the Assassin's way, he decided, energy expensive at the start so that the beginning would also be the end. The only difference was that he would have to leave the other alive. And deal with those results.
But the traitor didn't have to be /too/ alive.
Just alive enough to survive the trip home and speak after treatment. So the best course was decided. The blade in his hand sank back into his skin like water into sand. And then he vanished… reappearing behind the man to sink fangs into his shoulder, steel grip seeking arm and head. Immediate paralysis would set in, short lived but potent. It would allow him time to inject the man with extremely potent acids that dissolve flesh, bone, and blood with impunity. The acids would do the most damage to the arm, hopefully attacking bone and sinew enough to render it unusable. It should also get low enough to damage the right lung, which would further stress the man and aid his 'negotiations.' The drain on the body and the damage of the chakra system in that area would only further aid him in having this moment settle everything. But before the acids would reach any further than the lungs, he would draw it all back, drinking the liquified flesh of his clansmen down, already prepared to deal with whatever should be next.
Unfortunately for Meruin, this man appears to be more prepared than that. As the jounin comes in for an attack, a redish-barrier of chakra flares up around the man, encompassing him in a field of energy solid enough for Meruin's teeth to slide accross it. A faint bluish glow, looking purple through the field, flares up on the man's shoulder. But the man is indeed surprised as he whips his head around to look at Meruin, just to pale a moment later. Yes, this man is known to Meruin… he's one of the Okumo clan elders, one of the hard-line "Okumo first and only" people that continuously complained about having to listen to outsiders as part of Kiri. But this man was known primarily as a political animal, to the point that what is being displayed now is thought to be well beyond his abilities.
But the man is an elder Okumo for a reason, and soon he is using his threads to put some room between the two of them, leaving only one of those metal orbs behind, which promptly explodes in Meruin's face, giving the man time to come up with a next move… hopefully.
Meruin's eyes open wider, an audible breath sucked through his lips.
And then spider silk is produced, pushing towards Meruin and creating separation between the two as the Jounin was forced to leap backwards onto the nearest tree trunk. When the Okumo sees the metallic orb rushing his way, he narrows his eyes slightly, and then… it explodes and he's forced to duck around the tree trunk, allowing it to protect him from the shrapnel. As soon as that was done, however, he returned to his post and regained visibility of the elder, not forgetting about the spiders surrounding him.
But he didn't rush in to make an assault on the man's person. Instead, he knelt on the tree trunk, a fist pressed into the bark as he greeted him with, "Esteemed Elder." Meruin's composure was back in place as he examined the man. "My apologies for the assault. I had not known it was you. Neither had I known that the Okumo had a mission underway within the Oasis." Which was not entirely rare. The Clan had many secrets, even — perhaps especially — from its own people.
Okumo Noruma looks back at Meruin and then at his spiders. "Please… don't insult both of our intelligences," the man says as the spiders start swarming toward him. "You know full well why I'm here. You're too good not to have seen. Unfortunately, I can't leave you alive with this knowledge. Pity, some people had such high hopes for you…" He doesn't move, however, as the spiders still swarm him, and seem to be melding with him, slowly turning him into something else… something very dangerous. Finally the transformation is complete, and the man is now a half-spider, half man, and all threat.
It seems that the elder is too nervous, paranoid, and surprised to be goaded into believing that Meruin wouldn't come to harm him, despite his relationship with the clan and its elders. There was a possibility that the Okumo clan would implement a plan that would involve the assault of Kirigakure shinobi, and that he wouldn't know about it. But there was an extremely small chance that it would slip up with something so dangerous and put Meruin in a position where he would have to be the one to kill a clan elder. Were it true clan business, at the very least, this man would be someone else posted to take the fall. The elder had gone renegade and must be destroyed, his plans discovered in a best case scenario.
But looking at the transformation he'd chosen to employ, it was… unlikely. So Meruin prepared for battle himself. Abruptly, his body was cloaked in black chitin, going so far as to cover every single strand of his long platinum hair as six more eyes opened within his face. He shrugged his shoulders, loosening them slightly, before vanishing. There was no more need for words just now, so he forewent them, simply vanishing.
He decided to assault the elder while keeping mobile, using the trees to keep a circle around the manspider. He sent a deluge of chitin shuriken flying his way, simply letting dozens of them fly, though only some of them were meant to directly attack him. Many were sent on crash courses with eachother to redirect one another into striking the Okumo Elder, allowing them to come in from many different angles and at unpredictable moments. He simply needed to limit the number of ricochets to help ensure there remained enough power behind them to pierce the Noruma's form.
It would seem the elder wasn't done as he starts to fly through hand-sings at a very quick rate. He was so involved in what he was doing, that he simply could not move far without disrupting his jutsu. Furthermore, he was sure that seal would protect him for a little while longer, but it failed as the transformation took hold. This left him open for all of Meruin's attacks, which in turn caused enough accumulated damage at once to shut his body down. The spider-half fades away, leaving the elder there. "You… you lost," the elder says as his body starts to dissolve slowly right in front of Meruin's eyes.
Meruin landed on a tree trunk as the spider half of Noruma simply… faded away, it's final processes interrupted by his barrage. Yet another issue with gathering data after the fact. He had expected to be able to round up either the spiders or their corpses after the dealing with the traitor. And worse still, it seemed that the once elder was correct. That Meruin would lose this encounter, whether he was the one to survive it or not. The man's body was dissolving.
The Jounin didn't know precisely what was occuring, whether or not this was a clone-esque technique of some kind, or whether the man was simply killing himself with the intent of leaving nothing behind. But he did know that this was a jutsu of some kind and that he needed /something./
He swiftly leapt forward, once more aiming to sink his fangs into the man, and to do it before he dissolved too much. Meruin's goal was to inject that acid once more, and to push it into Noruma's torso where the majority of poison producing organs are. Even as it would dissolve the flesh, it should also break apart chakra, stopping the jutsu from dissolving that section of flesh and allowing him to draw it into his mouth. From there, he would distance himself from the man and spit the DNA sample into an orb of chitin he'd make in the palm of his hand in the hopes that it would answer some questions.
Ordinarily that would be a good plan, especially if facing just about any other kind of opponent. But while this person is an Okumo elder, albeit… a bit different from most Okumo, its that difference that is about to cause problems for Meruin. When Meruin bites down on the man's flesh, its state of dissolution causes acid burns in Meruin's mouth, of a kind that surpasses Okumo resistance, though Meruin is successful in injecting his own kind of acid. Yet all this does is seemingly preserve a small bit of flesh in the man's chakra core area, though it itself is highly caustic as well. As Meruin finds out, there's no chakra left in his body to counter.
But there is at least one piece of evidence that shows up. Due ot the body's acidity level, something akin to phosphoric acid, the man's clothes dissolve quicker than anything, revealing several kinds of seals that are quickly melting into the skin, though three remain distinct. Those three are glowing blue, and are likely what is causing the body to melt. It appears as if the body itself is indeed trapped to avoid leaving any incriminating evidence behind.
The muscles in Meruin's neck tense slightly as the contact with the man's flesh burns him, as though it held acidic properties of its own, causing some small amount of damage before he could get that small bit of flesh tucked away into its chitinious container. It was a much, much smaller sample than he was hoping to obtain, but all was not entirely lost.
Those seals. They were the biggest clue.
Despite needing to examine them, he still chose to distance himself from the man in case there was to be any sort of backlash from the seals. Instead, he dropped his physical transformation, taking his regular form in favor of augmenting his mind, reverting to that hunter state. It allowed him to see the seals clearly from a distance and more swiftly intuit their nature. He had little seal knowledge and couldn't speak on any specifics, but he /could/ discern the circumstances surrounding the seal. And there was nothing more he could do, truly, than watch, think, and wait for the jutsu to finish taking its course while his own body healed itself.
The seals run their course as the body dissolves into a puddle of goo that eats into the ground, taking its own time to finally stop dissolving substances. But once the body is liquid, the seals fade away, having nothing solid to hold onto anymore. These seals are a ninja's equivalent of "suicide pills," save it is meant to leave absolutely nothing to autopsy. They're enormously complex, likely A or even S rank in severity. Unfortunately, it would take a full seal master to gain more information than that. But there's something odd about the signature segment… something small… it looks vaguely familiar… but not so much that Meruin is likely to have seen it directly. Finally Meruin is left with only what he has, held in stasis as not even the spiders remain.
And so it was that Meruin bore witness to the passing of one of the elders of his very own clan. There were a great many surprises, and far too many questions from this encounter. By the end of it, there was little to be satisfied with. The only thing truly clear is that Noruma was involved with something, was hiding something, perhaps something worth dying for. And the Okumo, not just the one but the clan, would undoubtedly need to know just what that was or else suffer grave consequence. The fact that someone of this caliber was a simple throw away — he hadn't even tried to escape — meant that there were much bigger things on the horizon of whatever plan he was a part of.
Regardless, it was time to continue on. Meruin went and collected a sample of the goop that Noruma's body had becoming, using a vial of chitin. The acids may break it down, but while it was connected to him, the chitin would regenerate itself, holding it 'safely' until the acidic properties dissipated. And then he departed. To the Okumo compound. There were samples to see tested, reports to make, sleeping pills to acquire for a student, and further work to be done afterwards. This was only a single duty planned for this day.