Date: March 29, 2016
Seven years ago, Councilwoman Itami races to help in the battle against the Ghoul of the Desert, after it kidnaps a Sunagakure Jounin!
"Blood Red Sandman - Bishop To Queen's Rook"
Dead Sands - Northern Desert [Sunagakure]
Something terrible has happened recently. Rurohashi Ruri, a Jounin of Sunagakure, was abducted by a creature that has only recently been learned to be real. To actually exist. And even further, to be identified as Hone Nai. At least by some people. The Kazekage already knew about it, but Itami has only just recently found out. And now this has happened. On top of that, the Hidden Sand's Jinchuuriki, Rurohashi Rinako, has gone after her sister. And based on the unusual powers the Ghoul of the Desert possesses, it appears that the fight is not as one-sided as one might think.
Many ninja have gone forth on this operation, not only to rescue two of their own and defeat a monster, but also because those same strange powers are creating a miasmatic darkness that is freezing the Land of Wind slowly. It's currently restricted just to the Northern Desert, in an area known as the Dead Sands, but as an army of the dead continuously animates on top of all that, there's no guarantee that the problem is going to stay confined to that area.
Itami is one of those who has gone forth to put a stop to this, running across dust and ash and sand and even ice, in a darkness that is nearly tangible. More like a black mist than mundane shadow. It makes seeing difficult. And even sound seems distorted, and muffled.
Whether Itami is heading out on her own, or leading others, their objective is clear: The hulking shadow in the distance, of the Three-Tails, and the powerful Chakra that radiates from it.
Itami couldn't grasp what it was she was dealing with. This whole time, Sunagakure had /this/ living there? She attempted to think about it, but was left with more questions thn answers. Yet, all is not lost to her. She understands what she needs to do about this problem and would try everything in her power to resolve this conflict. "So unnatural…" She remarked to herself about the circumstances and the strange darkness that surrounded her.
As Itami races across the desert, the air getting progressively colder, skeletal arms erupt from the sand, attempting to grasp at her! The owners of the arms are sometimes visible, and sometimes not. None of them look particularly alive. But they seem quite intent on stopping Itami from reaching her destination.
It's growing colder. Itami, thankfully, didn't have time to focus on the cold because she had energy to burn by fighting off these skeletal arms attempt to stop her. She tears her body away from them, retaliating at times with flames spewed from her mouth to keep them at bay as she pressed forward to get to the source of it all. She just needed to follow the Three Tails. Granted, she didn't wish to be too close. She's already had run ins where she would much rather be far away from the attack radius.
With the shadow acting as a guide post, she decided to remove herself from the ground and took form to fly the rest of the way, being mindful of the skeletal arms which may have more reach than she's experienced thus far.
Itami's decision to fly raises her up high enough to avoid the skeletons emerging from the ground. There are things in the air with her. Things that whisper unheard words in a rush of dissonant voices. In this darkness, she can not see what they are exactly, but may be able to judge by the sound of the whispers where not to fly so that she can avoid them. She is probably much happier not knowing what these unseen whisperers are. She also, from her vantage point can see something else. The Three Tails tearing its three tails along the ground as it turns quickly in pursuit of something red and black and flickering.
A shockwave of force hurls a wave of sand and ice and snow at her, just from the mere act of the Bijuu turning. But in addition to that enormous pressure of a Tailed Beast's Chakra, there is another, even more sinister, if less extreme Chakra source. The foul Chakra of a true Undead. It's an energy that seems to befoul everything it touches. Just being able to sense it may make her feel dirtied and stained, and receive visions of abandoned buildings and collapses schools and rotting santiariums and overgrown cemeteries. Places that live should be or that should be maintained by the living, and yet have been left to crumble in a world of emptiness and death.
Is that what's waiting if the Ghoul succeeds in whatever it's attempting to do? Will Sunagakure just be as empty as the City of Sands was after that horrific epidemic described in the history books escaped from the Catacombs, in the ages before the city became Sunagakure?
It's unclear. But what's clear is that two monsters are fighting. And she would probably prefer one of them to win more than the other. Especially since one of the monsters is a recognized hero of the Hidden Sand, and the other was deceiving everyone about his true nature while continuing to go around killing and eating people.
Yes, one of them is more preferable.
But which one will win? And can Itami help decide that?
Flying blind isn't all its cracked up to be. It's a different kind of experience not knowing what to expect and what dangers to avoid, but Itami attempts to reduce the mild uncertainty and focus only on where she needs to be. It feels no different than genjutsu, in some respects. She just needed something to keep her mind protected and her wits about her enough that the scenery and all that lay in it didn't affect her.
She kept her flight path simple and remained steady, though she did take some evasive action to keep all the sand and snow from pelting her too much. With such power, she wasn't going to evade it completely, but the brunt of it is, for the most part, out of the picture. Scanning the land below, she took notice of the target the Three Tails was tracking. With it now in her sights, she gets a feel of its chakra and admittedly, it's unpleasant. Against the Three Tails, the fact that she can sense it is what's bothering her. That amount of power is striking.
She flies in closer to the action, but keeps a distance well enough that she doesn't find herself in the zone of any true danger. "I'm going to lend aid!!" She called out to the Three Tails. "I believe we can capture it if we work together!" The Ghoul was fast, but she couldn't let that be her deterrent. Besides, it did wish to be stopped, didn't it? She has to fight it in some way.
For now, the skies will be her ally to keep out of the reach of those hands on the ground. There's still the voices to worry about up here, but she'd take her chances. Running through hand seals, she proceeded to summon down a blast of wind in an effort to stop the Ghoul from moving.
Whether the transformed Jinchuuriki hears and understands the call or not, when the Ghoul is pinned down by a wind blast from the sky, she capitalizes upon the opportunity. She opens her beaked mouth wide, aiming her maw at the Ghoul, and Chakra begins to condense directly in front of it. An insane amount of Chakra, concentrated into a sphere of water with such density that it turns black. What little light exists can not even penetrate the ball's surface. This is a Tailed Beast's strongest attack. A weapon that can easily obliterate a mountain.
Where is the kidnapped victim in all this, though? There's a devastated structure of some kind over there… And a certain Puppeteer seems to be holding another kunoichi, wrapped up in blankets or something like it, with her Puppets stationed all around her. They are distant, but not distant enough from the battle. But moving at this point could be just as dangerous as staying.
After all, where can one run when faced with powers like these?
As the Tailed Beast Ball is formed, the Ghoul seems to be just a black and red skeleton, not even an emaciated figure anymore. Just the bones, bleeding some kind of crimson-mixed-with-onyx energy that is making it dissolve steadily. What might be causing it is unclear. But it turns its head to look up at Itami, with empty sockets, as the ground it stands upon is cratered by her wind blast. There's no expression to gauge, so it's impossible to tell what it might be thinking or feeling.
But moments later, the Water Menacing Ball hits home. Kara's Puppets are forming some kind of barrier, and Kara herself is waving Itami down frantically, just moments prior to the attack being released. Can Itami make it in time?
A tidal wave of Chakra-propelled water tears into the terrain, producing a shockwave that parts the miasmatic clouds, to reveal the night sky, for miles around.
There is a bright flare of light and a deafening explosion that could shake the organs loose from inside someone by mere proximity. Either Itami finds a way to protect herself, inside the barrier or out of it, or she may be in very poor condition.
Afterwards, however, there's a boiling lake in the middle of the desert, and no sign of the Ghoul. The side-effects of its presence seem to be dissipating. And the Three-Tails…
Is starting to revert back to here normal human form.
Itami can't say she remembers the Ghoul being in this condition. She was certain before it was some strange revenant. Not that this has changed much. It could still be a revenant, assuming it still has some semblance of its former self. From the look it gave to her, she can't determine if it somehow knows or if it has some plan of attack against her for the future. She doesn't have much time to think about it, though. The Three Tails has its own attack in mind and is currently engaging in it. In fact, it is almost like the one she had to deal with not too long ago.
Her eyes shoot over to some frantic flailing down below, noting Kara is here on the ground. Dealing with this? Why is she here working on this and by herself? Well, no…not by herself. Itami is here now and the same could be said of her. At this point, she'd taken a bit too much time thinking and the ball strikes home. With what time she has left, she takes advantage of the blast and rises into the air, heading directly for the night sky that's just been exposed. At the very least, her scales take the brunt of it, at the most, she'll be safe until the energy of the blast passes over her scales and she flies back down to meet with Kara.
"Do you understand how much I despise battles like these?" She asked on her way down. She didn't want to stay up in the sky for too long. The darkness parted, not disappeared. A difference she did not let past her. "I have a reason to hate tailed beast balls. They are incredibly effective at maximum destruction and death. I am certain that once this is all done, I am going to take a long break in the restroom!"
As Itami descends, and everyone gathers around, Rinako looking fatigued in many ways, Ruri unconscious, Kara struggling after blocking the back blast of a Tailed Beast Ball with her puppets, there's no more sign of the Ghoul. But… Somehow, it doesn't feel like it's over. Not quite yet. Largely because the sensation of its Chakra is still present, if dispersed.
Was it just producing so much of it that it's taking away to fade away? To even call it Chakra at this point might be a stretch. It's an unnatural power forged from death and the prolonging thereof. A power that Hone Nai did not originally possess, or at least was very good at hiding if he did.
Is this the ending he sought?
It's unclear. But there are many ninja from Sunagakure approaching, running across the desert sands, as snow continues to fall for a short while afterwards. Shemri is among them.
Perhaps, just getting everyone home now will be enough.
Even if it somehow feels… Too simple. Too good to be true, that it would just end so neatly and easily.
But together, surely they can handle anything else that comes their way.
As Itami lands, she reverts back to her original form and looks across the landscape momentarily before returning her attention back to those present. "This isn't good…" She thought to herself. The most powerful were lined up here to fight and they still don't appear to be enough. Still, things appear to be quieting down. An unsettling quiet, but quiet nonetheless. "Hm…" She rubbed at her skin as the snow fell on it and melted. She'd comment about how much she hates the cold, but she isn't freezing right now. Too worked up to be cold.
"We should get you all attention while we have this chance. It's a small window of time, but one we can use to greatly increase our chances here. More forces are approaching here. We can get medical shinobi to you all soon to help recover. In the meantime, I'll keep watch and maintain vigilance while this calm maintains…" She found a perch and sat down to herself, sighing as her body starts to recover. All that excitement is beginning to subside as she relaxes.