Date: May 28, 2014
The time has finally come for the job Ayumu promised to be undertaken. Things start off simple enough until a wagon issues come into play…
Poster's note: foul language filtered in obvious places.
"A Not So Simple Job - Part 1"
Desert Near Sunagakure [Land of Wind]
The deserts of the Land of Wind appear to be a barren, waterless, plantless, lifeless wasteland to most people. There actually IS life here, and water can be found as well if one knows where to look and how to gather it. However, the fact remains that the desert is an inhospitable place to be without protection. This stretch of desert lies just east of the mountains cliffs that surround the Hidden Sand Village. East from here is a lot more desert to cross before the border between the Land of Wind and Land of Rivers is reached. North also heads into the desert, but the wall of Sunagakure's natural cliff-side defenses can serve as a wall to navigate by. South is a direction that crosses desert as well, but with the promise of the ocean and the beaches to be reached eventually.
A missive would be delivered the day before by way of delivery shinobi. Its contents, relatively straightforward piece of information, denotes seven o' clock and the village gates as the meeting point for the job. That, and some perhaps irrelevant information about who Arata would be meeting, method of travel, the fact that he would be playing body guard TO a traveler, and so-and-so forth. As an added 'safety' precaution, there's a bucket of ice cold water with Arata's name on it delivered at the hands of Ayumu's compatriot/cousin, Shun. And if /that/ proves not enough, there was always the option of dragging the drunkard from whatever bedding he found appropriate the night before. While any attempt at defending himself will not be met with harm, acting upon those impulses would at least force Shun to use more 'extreme' methods. Methods she dare not employ around Ayumu due to her promises to the elders of the clan, but would mark her in mind as being more than just your average retainer.
Regardless of whatever difficulties Arata, upon arrival at the gates he would find that Ayumu was good on his word. Just where the Iga himself is unknown, though one of the few people mingling near the village gate seem to recognize the wanderer and waves him over. The man in question is… eccentric looking, to say the least. His garb was an outlandish set of greens, blue, and beige just vaguely fit for extensive treks through the desert, red hair shaved and cropped into a mohawk, eyes golden and excited, and face sharp; granting the young man overall a bird-ish appearance. He hops off the oxen drawn wagons soon after, leaving behind its virtually forgettable drivers and startling a lass with long, black hairs examining one of the cartwheels. While she busies herself now with rubbing her sore backside, the mohawk man makes his way over to Arata.
"Your just the guy we've been waiting for." He says brightly and confidently. He'd extend a hand out for a shake after, but is just as quick to observe the more traditional bow at the waist should it seem preferable to Arata. The same greeting he extends to Itami (a last minute change of plans) as soon as she arrives.
The day Arata had received the letter as to what the guard duty he would finally be a part of entailed, he prepared himself by first hitting the pub to fill up on a Sand Shark or two. At least that was the plan as one turned to two and then two turned into…five. Not surprisingly, Arata found himself quickly passed out and thrown out into the streets where even that didn't wake the man up. No, it wasn't until an ice cold bucket of water splashed over him, instantly snapping him awake, but with a bit of a minor headache.
"What? What's going on?" He'd peer about for a brief moment before smiling and rising to his feet, "Hey baby. You know there's other ways to get me wet." He'd reach out to put his hand on Shun's shoulder only to find a quick jab to the gut before Arata could even touch the woman. "Guess…I deserved that." He'd mutter through his loss of breath before straightening up and see that Shun had disappeared. "Must be guard duty time…"
With thumbs tucked into straps that held up a massive gourd behind his back, Arata approached the brightly colored individual, "Sorry, I'm late. We should probably get going before this skunks." Gesturing at the gourd while he brought out one of his hands to accept the shake. "Unless we're waiting for someone else."
"You are waiting for someone else," Itami stated as she arrived on the scene. "I will be coming along." She came to a stop before Shiori and Arata with her hands clasped behind her back. I just happened to know something was taking place and thought I'd place myself in it. Besides, I need to keep an eye on you, anyway. Your drunkenness is becoming the talk of the town and when that happens, it becomes my business to find a solution for it. Leaving the village could probably be the best thing to happen to you, but mostly to the village at this point."
"Yep! It'll be you two, and the young miss over there." He says, gesturing to the now fully recovered girl. Although Arata and the Mohawk man were within hearing range, she pays the informal reference to her no mind. Instead, its back to work on the cart again. "And another too. Ah, almost forgot. My name is Shiori of the Seven Sands. And I'm placing my life in all of your hands for the next, ooooooohh three days or so. And I don't know about you, but I kind of like living quite a bit. Soooo…." He claps his hands sharply together. "Let's do our best to keep that happening, alright?" He says excitedly. And on that note, he motions for the duo to follow him over to the two carts. The foremost cart is filled with one might expect out of an atypical desert merchant.
Standard mysterious boxes. Standard tarp. Standard ropes to hold down standard tarps. And lastly, standard topping of sand. Perfect! Then there's the other cart carrying something… else? The thing is vaguely humanoid in nature, bulky, and takes up the majority of the wagon. Which more than likely meant that the guards will be walking, flying, and or swimming for the journey. That, or someone was gonna have to squeeze in the back with goods or kick their third teammate from her seat. Also, upon closer inspection it may become clear (to Itami at least) that the ox weren't really ox, but mechanical variations. That, and the drivers, er, driver (the other guy apparently stuffing his face full of noodles) are members of the puppet corps.
"Ah, one more thing you two. With the exception of that thing there—" Shiori gestures to the giant, humanoid thing covered by an raggedy tarp. "The rest of the goods are to be handle with the care. As in, an extension of my life and so on. Sooo, that too, really love to kept safe. Now, Yoshi!" Shiori scrambles next to the driver up front and ushers him onwards to the gate. Looks like seating/defensive arrangements and all that other stuff will have to be done on the fly. >.>
"Oh! And by the way you two! Try not to touch the little missus back there. She's a little… touchy about touching." Shiori calls out. And again, the girl doesn't pay him or the others any mind. The only thing she seemed concerned about was the road ahead, and occasionally the giant thing in the back of the wagon.
Hearing the familiar voice of the council woman, Arata wasn't sure if he had drank enough earlier to prepare himself to having to deal with her, but…shifting the weight of the gourd on his back, he would be before the end of the trip. "You hear that, Council Woman? Three days…You sure you can be away from the village for that long just to keep an eye on me while I keep an eye on these folks?" He questioned but didn't wait for an answer as he returned his attention to Shiori. "Pleasure. I am Arata, of the Eight Immortals." Exchanging brief pleasantries before walking over toward the cart, hand already grasping one of the smaller of the three gourds at his side and taking a drink from the contents. It was a long and slow drink and most if not all made it down his throat. "Ahh. Well, I'll be sitting here." He climbs up the cart and sits upon the tarp that covered the boxes. Sitting cross legged and leaning up against the gourd on his back for support. "Don't worry about me touching anyone." Rubbing his gut, a memory of earlier in the day. "Well, at least not the little missus." He mused.
"Three days?" Itami questioned. "What could you need doing that would require three days of work out of us?" She asked while following Shiori to the two carts. "I mean, I know you need bodyguards, but three days worth of them?" She just didn't understand. "Anyway…" She took a look around at the carts and as she worked her way around, she peered at the oxen and then poked at them to discover that they were actually mechanical. What kind of…?
"This trip should be intriguing. Arata, try not to upset any wildlife with your odor. I'm certain they'll think you're trying to encroach upon their territory," she chuckled as she found herself a place to settle into. A glance goes towards the girl in the back who was made reference to, but she didn't focus on her for too long.
"Yes, I'm certain I can be away for that long to watch you," she refocused on Arata. "Eight Immortals? I didn't get that introduction when you met me. Do I need to come up with a fancy name for myself?" She questioned.
"Well, due to all the hubub going on about the world, I just figure I mines as well see about blazing a new-old trade route. Pretty sure I made mention of that in my petition." Shiori explains, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. With a shrug, he carries on gabbing about hearing rumors about attacks on the more popular routes, hard times, and so and so forth. But after awhile, he derails completely from the original topic and just talks for the sake of talking. As for the girl, she seems adamant to stay curled up and eyes away from Itami in particular; especially when the councilor attention seemed to be on her.
Despite all the preparations put forth by their employer Shiori, virtual lack of traffic to deal with, and mechanical beasts pulling the wagons, it still takes a good ten minutes just to get through each of the check points and leave Sunagakure. An understandable safeguard given what every shinobi village was having to deal with at present on top of the day to day hassles, but a tiresome one for any out of the group expecting to have been out longer; especially with a council member on board. One would think that a hand wave from one would be enough to pretty much zoom past security. But… oh well!
The first few hours of the trip can be described as only very hot and extremely boring. Not a thing disturbs the group, be it bandit, wildlife, or mother nature being in one of her moods again. Sunagakure has long since become a spec in the distance as well, leaving only sandstone buttes and the occasional brush here and there as anything worth looking at. Shiori tries to keep up everyones spirits with talking, or would until either someone shuts him up, or the first eventful thing to happen since they left finally happens!
DADUMDUMP! "Whoa! Whoa! I think we hit some.. thing…" Shiori peers over the side of the cart. "Uhm… Are the spokes supposed to be pointed like that?" He asks the driver. Said driver waggles his fingers, forcing the beast to stop before jumping out to investigate.
"Don't worry about the time, Shiori. You take as long as you need." Arata started to smile as he leaned further into the giant gourd, "I get paid either way and I imagine the longer it take, the larger the purse." The large the purse, the more drinks at the bar! Raising his gourd in the air, making a silent toast before drinking some of its contents and resting it back against his side. "When I met you, you were less than hospitable if I recall. Friendly introductions are reserved for those who are…friendly." Smirking as he closed his eyes and began to relax for the rest of the ride only to be disturbed as the cart jostles about. "Hey, smoother rides. Alright." Arata would peer about, wondering what happened.
Itami had grown bored very quickly and fell asleep. The trip was fairly uneventful for her and she felt no need to awaken for anything in particular. Up until they hit…whatever it was did she…not awaken at all. She maintained her sleepiness and instead only changed her sleep position. There may have been some regret in coming on this trip. Whatever is out there could wait. She had some rest to catch up on.
The driver curses under breath, then turns to Shiori and shakes his head. "Well everyone. Looks like we'll be out here for awhile, so if anyone wants to get out and stretch their legs, now would be a good time." He states as he hoped out himself. While the man busied himself with doing a few stretches himself, the other driver disembarks to assist his friend. The lass herself seems about ready to hop off to assist, but one something about the two drivers causes her to flinch, and set getting under the tarp with the giant as her goal.
Time once more seems to slip by without much change except the occasional curses from the drivers, miniature explosions from items being summoned, and other mechanical sounding noises. Oddly enough, the last of which emanates heavily from the giant humanoid thing riding in the second wagon. But that aside, all is well in order… or is it? C.c
"You know.. I think I just might move to the Land of Fire. I mean, after this whole trifecta of trouble passes by. What do you guys think? Sound plan?" Their client asked while proped against the wagon and fanning himself.
Peering about the area, Arata wasn't exactly liking what he thinks he was seeing slowly approaching the wagons."Shiori…" Turning his attention to those not in the wagon. "Get yo Aonuma back in the wagon." Shifting his arms out of the straps of the giant gourd, Arata would stand up and jump down off the wagon only to land some what clumsily on the ground. After which he moved a few yards away and took another swig from the smallest of the three gourds, this time not bringing it away from his mouth until the contents had been completely emptied then strapped back to his side.
The air was dry and lacked tast—oh no, wait. It appears it did have some taste to it. Itami stirred from her sleep as her tongue was called back into her mouth and woke up. It appears there's a problem here. "I suggest," she yawned and stretched, "That you follow Arata's advice," she scratched at her face lightly. "There are animals digging beneath the ground. Their scent is all over the place, really, but is concentrated highly beneath the ground. I would keep an eye out for anything beneath your feet." She sniffed and rubbed her eyes with her arm. Alright, time to get up.
She lifted herself up and stepped out of the wagons to prepare herself to fight.
The drivers were hard at work with the wheel, and so was the mystery girl (or so it sounded like at least). This left Shiori without much of a choice except listen to Eremi in anycase. The client frowns and opens his mouth to argue, but the added weight from the councilor words gives him pause long enough to consider. Unfortunately for all, he takes far too many seconds to decide for their would be ambushers, because once one has made up its mind to attack, the attack is nigh instantaneous. Faster than the average eye can track, an pink, enlongated tongue coated with sand bursts out of the sand and goes flying at the man with enough speed to puncture a hole through his skull, if not just knock him out.
Whereas the initial attacker stays underground, the other four mounds on the same side burst open seconds after one another, revealing to any denizen of the Lands of Wind the visages of Lizardmen and women; former Watanabe turned completely feral by one incident or another. The first two to burst out went charging across the desert on all fours and lept at Itami and Eremi. The last two leap to the side of the second wagon and adhere themselves to the side. A flanking manuever just incase their allies didn't luck out.
There are still five more mounds on the opposite side trying to sneak closer before making their move…
Each of the lizard type creatures popped out of the sand and Arata wasn't sure if there was just one of them or four or maybe even ten…Was he seeing multiples? He didn't really know, but what he did know was that he couldn't be too careful so when the first of the lizardmen charged at him, he shifted out of the way almost in a clumsily way. Each foot only managing to trip over the other as if he wasn't able to correct himself, but Arata kept up with the momentum, stumbling across the sand until reaching Shiori and pushing the man out of the way from the on coming bullet tongue attack. Not wanting the creature to get away, Arata reached out to grab at the tongue as he fell backwards, using his weight to try and pull the creature out of the sand.
While she was preparing herself to fight, a feral lizard came and tackled her to the ground. "Okay, I admit I took too long…" She remarked to herself aloud as she began a tussle with the lizard by rolling over and attempting to launch it into the air with a kick and ultimately, off of her. "These are all Watanabe… But what happened to them for this to happen? Is this mutation spreading to humans now?" She questioned, remembering the wolves and scorpions that had suffered the same things, though they had grown larger in size generally. "If so, we may have an…issue on our hands if this is causing problem for people, specifically those that have high concentrations of chakra," she explained.
Arata's plan (if it can really be called that) works like a charm. Sort of. If not for the sand being so loose, it might've managed to cling on to its earthy burrow and only endured the minor annoyance of having its tongue pulled out another few inches or so. Alas, reality was not so kind, so out popped the feral watanabe, startled and confused, yet quick to bounce back. These guards weren't like their usual fast food meals. These were trained professionals. Some vague notion of the idea flits about each of their mind as the defenders defended themselves, forcing them to regroup. One poor feral watanabe gets to do that the hard way thanks to Itami's kick launching him a good few meters high and away.
The clingers — who were hissing at Eremi at first for pulling their friend's tongue presumeably — become distracted by their hi-flying comerade, missing in the process the two big giant, steel reinforced hands sliding into place. "… *Ahem*…" They turn just in time to get flicked in the foreheads, hard. Like, so hard, its a miracle they only slid back a dozen meters along the ground and not get decapitated by the blow itself. With those two taken care of, the dark-haired girl from before turns to climbs atop the mecha hand and is risen up until she could stand atop the things now visible and cobra-like head.
"M-my name is, Ta-Takenaka Michi. I b-by.. *gulp* by my authority as a Suna Shinobi. I order you to lizard folk to cease and deceased.. desist! Desist, I mean! And… yeah, stop it, or will have to hurt you more." She states all shakily and fidgety at first, but at the end she stands tall and proud. Well, about as proud as a girl a little over 4' tall and weighs about as much as a box of kittens might can be.
The lizards folk (including the ones in trouble) stare at her for a good few moments there in utter silence… Then decide to go back try and slaughter their meal tickets for the days. Be it by gathering their strength for a three pronged assault on Itami, whipping Eremi up, then slamming him down into wagons, or try to get revenge on Michi for overtaxing their mind with a dumbSakurai speech!
Meanwhile, those underground continue to creep that much closer…
As Arata fell to the ground, his grip on the tongue loosened and his eyes fell shut. The commotions going on around and the fighting that continued was ignored by the drunk. It was as if he instantly passed out. Though the moment a tongue snapped out to strike the man, he rolled away. As if instinctively. Again a tongue would snap out and Arata would roll the other way. This happened a few times, each time the tongue would snap out a little faster and the drunk moved with equal speed until suddenly springing to his feet, "What…Why do you do this?" He asked as he reached out to grab one of the Watanabe's face, but just missed as he stumbled back a few feet until finding a footing then hunching forward and leaping in a corkscrew head butt attack.
Itami watched the lizard as it flew off and landed elsewhere. This left her time to get up and dust herself off. "Hmm. Not as strong as I remember them. Must be from the other branches…"
She surveyed the area to give it a quick rundown, taking notice of the girl and her abilities. So that's what she was up to, hm? Controlling that…whatever it was she was controlling. "Girl, that was horrible. What are you afraid of? They aren't going to listen to you! Smack them down like they owe you money!" She shouts. The others must have mirrored her thoughts because even they were confused by what she said and responded by…not attacking her. "Oh, for crying out loud, why are you all attacking me?!" She questioned as she quickly targeted each of the feral Watanabe and ducked out of the way with little to no effort at their advances. When she was out of their way, she flicked her tongue out and followed it up with some momentum building flips and launching a knee strike at one of them.
Michi had been keeping a sharp eye on the feral ones until Itami called out to her. "But… I-I don't have any money." She murmurs, bowing her head and rubbing her hands together. A clawed hand rising into view startles the girl so much, she panics and activates the what-ma-do-hickey. The rocket fist launcher thing? Basically, she sends the feral flying along with the puppets arm. It self-destructs moments later, engulfing the poor feral in flames. Rather or not it survives or not is hard to see though…
As for Arata, he had the misfortune of headbutting the one feral that had a thick scales, and a thicker skull: the one with the expansive tongue. He doesn't take too kindly to that, though to be fair, the guttural growls emanating from him could mean anything. c.c In anycase! It snaps at him with its powerful jaws, toss him away, then slap him with its tails.
Try as they might, the trio can't keep up with their civilized and slippery cousin; especially the one that got kicked earlier. Unfortunately, that handicap leads to another strike upon its person and an instant K'O. Or temporary…. Maybe? Regardless, the other two remain persistant about seeking justice! Or more than likely take advantage of their being less competition at the moment. <.< >.>
Arata's head met the thickened skulls of the Watanabe and regardless of the damage it did or didn't do, he was already moving into his next move by dropping to the ground, helping in missing the follow up snap strike from the lizard. He'd shift to his hands planning to kick his feet up in the air, but unfortunately wasn't fast enough as a a powerful tail slam knocked him back to the ground. The damage was immense, but the pain went unnoticed as Arata rolled away and sprung back to his feet. "You… you're not…Why'd you say that?" He didn't wait for an answer though as he was unlikely to get one and charged the beast, got a few feet away and turned away from the Watanabe, bent over backwards and grasped for the lizards throat, spun about again and attempted to throw the creature at one near Itami.
"I said beat them like they owe /you/ money, not the other way around!" Itami states thinking her statement was clearly lost on the girl. Well, at least she successfully defended herself against the advances of the Watanabe attacking her. "Arata, what are you rambling about? I hope that knock to the head by one of these lizards didn't somehow make you insane. That wouldn't be the first time the Watanabe have done something of the sort, though," she states as she spun around the attackers, slipping between them like a leaf in the wind. Seeing a lizard headed for her, she took the precaution of giving herself room before it came careening into the pair she left behind. "Alright, time to take some wind out of the sail…" She stated as she moved forward to drain the stamina of one lizard. Should leave one more left.
Michi's holding her chest and still panting after the close call when Itami yells at her again. The poor puppeteer girl nearly falls off her four armed naga puppet out of freight. Luckily, she made the beast with plenty of hand holds! ".. *pant*.. *pant*.. You don't understand! I didn't have money to begin with!" Yep. Michi is a lost cause. Even more so, since she couldn't activate her puppets defenses faster than the lizard man she toasted could back at her and grab her by the leg, then toss her headfirst into the sand.
Her entire upper torso ends up buried as a result and the dress comes down, revealing her bear panties. But on the plus side, all that kicking she's doing to free herself means she isn't dead yet! :D
As for the other feral watanabe, they… don't do so well. One gets to be used as a human dart against his friend. Said female friend nearly collapses from the force, only to turn around growling before realizing that a treat has been delivered at her feet! Ally or not, food was food! Then lastly, there's last one whose legs turn to jello under Itami's touch.
And now, there's only two visible ones left…
Meanwhile, the five on the otherside rise out quietly from the sand behind wagon, and carefully try to close that last bit of distane between themselves, the puppeteer workers blind to the world around them, and the client watching from within wagon itself.
Arata stumbled some after throwing the lizard, almost falling over once again, but did his best to remain on his feet. The effects of the alcohol was slowly fading away and it was starting to show in the mans stance that was becoming more rigid and less fluid. This of course was bad news as it was the only way the guy knew how to fight. There was two left, but he was sure earlier he had noticed more mounds before the fighting started and for him to continue he'd have to really drown himself in the stuff. And that's where the giant gourd came in.
Ignoring the distracted one near Itami and burned one closing in on Michi, Arata moved toward the wagon that held his giant gourd, jumped up top, knocked off the lid and picked up the gourd to pour the contents into his mouth. Most of it spilled down his body as his mouth filled up and could only swallow so much at a time. Though when he had his fill, he set the gourd back down and that's when he noticed the five on the other side. " Yat. Yat…" Arata paused, blinking several times as he tried to figure out what was going on. "Yat…Yata!" He shouted as he jumped off the wagon and into the group heading toward the one in the center with plans to tackle the lizard over, taking them to the ground before managing to get back to his feet while at the same time grabbing the watanabes legs and spinning about on his heels to hit all those around him.
Itami doesn't focus much on Michi anymore, sans the fact that she's about to become fast food for the feral Watanabe. She can't have that happen. That would mean failure and she doesn't wish to associate herself with that. So, she gathers herself and proceeds to focus to take form into a sizable reptile. With a roar to assert their certain death at her hands, she heads after the one closest to the girl, using her tail to smash it down before turning about and closing distance between her and the other by flickering away to strike it down.
So intent they were on the easy meal that they don't notice the Arata until he's upon them. The scatter as any sane being tries, though only one of the opportunistic caninibals manages to escape the tornado of pain. The rest end up laid out on the ground in various state, but gather their wits about them quickly to begin their assault. As one, the all start to abruptly look around as if confused about something. Now what could possible cause the predators too — eyes widen in genuine fear as a more draconic and large Itami grows to match even Michi's puppet in height. While their stearing in primal fear, Itami's prey — Mr. Crispy and Mrs. Free-Meal get smashed to pulp and eviscerated within seconds of each other. Needless to say, the rest of the feral raiders needed no more convincing. This was Itami's territory, plain and simple, so they took back to the sands in a jiffy.
"We did it!" The drivers say in unison with a hi-five. Their celebrations are cut short by Shiori regaining his composure and yelling and the driver's to get back to their seats so that they could leave. Unfortunately, unless aided by either Itami or Arata, Michi is bound to spend a good five minutes running after the others following finding freedom again. Which is kind of sad considering the driver's were at least mindful to make sure Itami and Arata were loaded up, in one fashion or another. Albeit, Shiori would kindly ask (cower a little and beg) for Itami to return to her normal form first of course.
And to think, this is only day one of the groups journey…