Date: July 22, 2016
Team 13 is joined by Reime as they continue to investigate a cave sealed up by the First Hokage's sister.
"Bloom and Grow - Pt. 2"
Land of Fire
Last time, it was a dark, cold night in the Land of Fire. Team 13, minus one member, had been searching for the place the First Hokage's sister had sealed away scrolls continuing forbidden jutsu. Jutsu that Moroi, the traitor of the Hidden Leaf, may have known about and may have informed his allies of. These scrolls are important enough that not even the defenders put in place by the former Senju Clan Head can be trusted to protect them from the Bombers. They have to be retrieved so they can be re-sealed somewhere more secure. They absolutely CAN NOT be allowed to fall into the hands of the enemy.
If it comes to that, the Team is to destroy the scrolls rather than let enemies get ahold of them. Though, obviously, getting them back safely would be preferred.
They finally located a false wall on the side of a cliff. A huge stone slab that looks like it's part of the cliff face, but was formed through Ninjutsu. Tobiramako was best known for her control over water, but she was able to use a variety of other Elemental Chakra Natures. Manipulating huge amounts of earth wouldn't have been a problem for her.
But the problem now for Team 13 is that there are a number of seal tags around this location, all very sophisticated, and they seem to have elemental connotations that extend beyond just Chakra Natures. Something LIKE the Rankoro Clan's techniques, but different. Not Elemental Calligraphy. Rinoko is their closest thing to a seals expert, and she may be able to recognize that the seals on the tags SAY things about the various elements, but reading what precisely they DO is another matter. It's not clear if the elements are being spoken off in a figurative sense, or literal.
Aru has been using her Byakugan both to watch out behind them for anyone tailing them, and to see through solid surfaces to look for signs of the scrolls. But now that they've actually located where they need to be, they're going to need everyone together, and more sensor coverage than ever. Rinoko is going to be handling their seals, after all. She can't pull double-duty on sensor-nin. So with Tsugumi and Suzu using their Sharingan to see in the dark, and Nonon having the response time to move to any location in the group basically instantly to support other members, they're in a good place… But there's no telling what lies in wait if they even penetrate this outer defense layer.
So Tsugumi pulls a pen light out of her tool pouch, lifts it, and clicks it on and off several times, in a specific sequence. She's signalling another ally. One who was supposed to follow at a distance and watch for anyone following the rest of Team 13. A tail for their tail. Hyuga Reime, their other Byakugan user.
If she signals back properly, it means it's okay for her to join them and she hasn't spotted anyone. If the signal is incorrect, it may mean she was captured or that someone is impersonating her. If there is no signal… It means it's not safe to signal back, or that something has happened to her.
Tsugumi waits to find out which is which, while scanning for the coloration of Chakra that she recognizes as belonging to one of the members of Team 13A.
Reime has a good byakugan in her head and isn't extremely tough, so is not the best for a direct assault, which had her delegated to tailing tails if there happened to be any, but thus far, she had not noticed anyone. So, when Tsugumi signals to her, she uses the return signal to say its safe to come join her.
She scurries out of her hiding place and goes off to join up with the others, making sure she keeps an observant eye on the area around her just in case she missed something. She's not perfect, afterall.
When she arrives at the entrance with the others, Reime waves to the others, ensuring she stays quiet for now.
Suzu's cold and serious demeanor she's been developing lately melts a little bit when she sees Reime coming to join them. Her attention was previously on the seal tags, trying to see what she could determine about them. But she couldn't make heads or tails of them. Being joined by Reime earns a slight softening of the rigid line her mouth was in, but beyond making sure that Reime is okay and that no one is following her, she has to divert her attention to the woods all around them. A dark wall of trees that marks a border between the pitch of night, and the occasionaly-illuminated towering stone cliffs they've been crawling all around and over and circling.
She doesn't know how well two genin Hyuga can detect enemies if they're up against skilled pursuers, but Rank isn't everything, and they've all been training hard. There's no way they're only Genin level in terms of ability these days. Aru as well has come a long way. The spikey-haired Uchiha kunoichi looks to Rinoko to see what the Rankoro Chuunin thinks of the situation. She's keeping quiet, just like Reime, but they'll have to communicate findings eventually right?
Again, Nonon has little to contribute beyond her speed and her wits. And she doesn't have the same level of experience and knowledge as the other two Chuunin for her wits to mean that much. She hasn't even been focusing on improving her speed much lately, instead trying to diversify… Meaning she's above average in one area that she isn't fully capitalizing upon the potential of, and mediocre in several others.
More and more, she's realizing she has messed up her priorities in preparation for missions like this. Aru's suggestion of training her Chakra sensitivity and learning the Chakra Sensing Technique could be a REALLY good idea as something to do after this mission. Having a diverse skill set is nice and all, but there's a lot she's not able to contribute to the team as a result of her lack of specialization. They already have Suzu as a generalist. They don't need two of those.
For now, she just tries to be aware of where everyone is by mundane senses alone (even harder than it sounds) so that she can hopefully react in time to help them as Tsugumi expects her to. But she has a keen interest in the seal tags that can be seen in the dim moonlight that peeks through the clouds on occasion. She had wanted to learn more Fuinjutsu from Rinoko anyway. Maybe seeing how she handles this can provide some more of that experience she lacks.
The emergence of Reime comes as a surprise. She wasn't informed they had that back-up, she just thought the Hyuga girl was busy. She smiles and waves to Reime, sure that at least a Byakugan user will see the movement, even if those without nightvision might not.
Under pressure…. Rinoko is a bit nervous about this, to say the least. She is a growing Seal Master herself, but she spent perhaps too much time devoting her training to her Paper Jutsu and not enough to seals. That's something she obviously need to rectify in training to come, but it doesn't help right now. Still, she has to do her best even if she's up against seals crafted by people with more skill than herself.
he librarian kunoichi frowns slightly in thought as he studies these tags intently. While trying to figure out what to do against them, she figures, if the ARE actually some form of elemental trap, even if not in the same sense as her own jutsu, the best idea might be to be ready to cancel them out… but she'll save that thought for when she's figured out what these things do.
Aru is likewise gladdened to see Reime when she emerges, turning when her Byakugan's perception range alerts her to the incoming and recognized Chakra source. But even that minute twitch of softening in Suzu's expression turns any smile that Aru might have offered into just turning back around and watching in a different direction. She was also kind of out of the loop regarding her honorary big sister's role in this mission, but happy for her to be here or not, there's very little Aru can do if trouble breaks out. Providing prior warning is basically her man thing.
At least with Reime here, they can work together to fulfill that purpose. She knows little of seals beyond what was taught in the academy, so can't contribute in that department. But she does sidle closer to Rinoko to peek at the tags a bit, and quietly ask, "If we just peel them off and see what happens, do you think that we will be instantly killed?"
Once Reime joins them, and Tsugumi has confirmed the Chakra belongs to the Hyuga girl, attention is next turned to Rinoko. Aru's question basically sums up what Tsugumi wants to know, or at least part of it, but she phrases it her own way as she asks more generally of the Rankoro, "What do you think?" Just peeling them off is probably not a spectacular idea, but it would at least resolve the question of what they do and if they can get inside. The mature kunoichi also notes the number of Seals. Seven of them, encircling the border. An odd-number of seal tags. The markings on the tags are also odd-numbered in the points of the formula. There are six of them, but perhaps…
"If we really have to, we could potentially each attempt to remove one seal tag. Perhaps one of your Paper Clones could handle the seventh. They are clearly linked in some fashion. But knowing what that link is meant to accomplish and what effects might occur once the seals are removed is the larger concern." Tsugumi remarks, using her greater experience (though lesser practical knowledge) of seals to offer suggestions. Ultimately, the only one with a chance of reading what's actually on them is Rinoko. But they do have a time limit here. And the longer they stand around freezing their chests off in the cold, the higher the chance of an unwelcome encounter. Either with a Konoha patrol who they'd need to keep the nature of the mission secret from, or the very enemies they are trying to keep from getting the scrolls.
Reime ponders over Tsugumi's plan for a moment. She doesn't seem to like the prospect of blowing up, and doesn't seem sure about whether or not they won't blow up trying to remove them. "So, what happens if they… explode or something when we remove them?" She looks about at the others. "I don't know about the rest of you, but I don't really have any way to stop myself from exploding."
Welp, silence broken, apparently! Suzu still doesn't have much to say, but the Hyuga girls have salient points. And after what her mom said… "Okaa-san. If we want to use a clone to remove one of the tags, why not use a clone to remove all of them? That way there's no risk to any living person. I'm not sure how many clones Rinoko-sensei can make… But I can make at least a couple of Fire Clones. Maybe between her and me we can remove them all without endangering anyone. Though I don't see why we can't just remove one and see what happens first…"
Nonon listens to the plan. Her own arsenal of clones is limited to the purely fake variety with no real substance to them. But she thinks she can see where Tsugumi is going with this, without knowing the details exactly. "They're arranged in a specific configuration, in a specific number, right?" the blonde asks as she looks over the tags. "Meaning they are probably connected somehow. I assume Tsugumi-san wants one person and/or clone on each tag because she wants to try remove them all simultaneously."
Nonon's Chakra levels are depleted from her extended use of her Kekkei Genkai during the search for this location. But she proposes, "I can move almost-instantly. It's possible I could remove all the tags quickly enough to avoid triggering any traps. But using clones and coordination is almost certainly the better option."
Rinoko seems almost zoned out as she studies this tag formation over. When the others start to speak, though, she looks over her shoulder at them and nods. "This is most likely a trap meant to capture or kill anyone who dares try to remove it and fails to do so correctly. I can make a decent number of clones and turn my own body to paper. Anyone else who knows a good clone technique can chip in, but I don't highly suggest anyone touch them physically to remove them since we're not fully sure what this thing's going to do when the tags are removed."
Aru has no clone skills beyond the most basic, so has little to contribute in this regard. But she has to agree with what everyone else has asserted. To remove all seven tags at once through clones alone would probably be safest. Although… Something occurs to her. She shifts a bit in the cold, puffing out little clouds of vapor when she pulls her scarf down from her mouth to talk.
"Are all of the tags the same? There may be other clues we could use if there was a sign of any differences or discrepencies. If one has a Byakugan and another has a Sharingan and another has a pair of glasses or something, then we would have an idea of if there are specific types of individuals they're designed to allow to remove them…" She pauses and then adds on. "…Or to not allow. Given the seals were made by the First Hokage's sister, I doubt we will see any symbols for Clans outside of Konohagakure unless they were there specifically to ward against them. But if all of them say, 'Senju only' we may be in trouble."
As the concensus seems to be that clone contact is preferable to direct physical contact, Suzu makes the proper hand seals, and then breathes out flames that form into two Fire Clones. That's about her limit at her current skill level, but she pushes the technique, forcing it to try to squeeze more out of it, and manages a third. She's gritting her teeth as a result though, and sweating a bit despite the cold weather. Her Fire Clones leap into position, three of them on three of the Seals. That leaves four for Rinoko. Can she make that many?
Suzu waits, her Fire Clones being operated remotely. Unlike Shadow Clones, they have no awareness, so she has to focus on all three at once. "When you're in position and ready, give the signal. We'll remove the seals all at once."
Tsugumi thinks about Aru's suggestion, and then looks at the seals. She still needs Rinoko to actually say what she has observed of the seals before they can do anything, but calls out, "Don't touch them yet. Rinoko, you're our seals expert. Do they all look the same? We haven't really heard anything from you yet about what they mean beyond that they are likely traps. Even if we lack the familiarity to understand the nuance, try to tell us what you can discern about them."
No way Suzu's outdoing Rinoko! The librarian kunochi brings her hands into a seal, and her body begins to shed multitudes of never-ending paper that form three full clothes of her that move to take care of three of the other seals while she herself moves to take care of the final one.
As Tsugumi orders, however, they don't touch the seals just yet. The real Rinoko ponders a bit then looks over to Tsugumi as she answers, "There is a tag for every chakra element: Fire, Earth, Water, Wind, Lightning, Yin, and Yang. This is an elemental trap of some kind. I don't think it's quite the same as my jutsu, but it could be dangerous and probably involves the elements in some way."
Nonon watches as Suzu makes a bunch of Fire Clones, and then rubs her chin thoughtfully with one hand, a kunai drawn just incase something happens in her other. Tsugumi's question has Nonon trying to figure out where the more experience kunoichi is going with this. Then their resident seals expert says THAT. "Ahhh… I don't think just making a bunch of clones is going to solve this. One for each element… That sounds to me as though this is intended to require seven ninja who each of a different elemental affinity. Or at least that's one interpretation. If Senju Tobiramako came up with it, it's probably something we don't want to set off by doing it wrong. …Infact, with our sensor capabilities we have here, maybe we should just analyze the trap and then report it to the Village instead of trying to handle it ourselves. I don't know that we have the personnel for this."
The blonde props her hands on her hips, her kunai pointed away so she doesn't accidentally stab herself. "I have the Wind and Lightning affinities. Suzu-chan has Fire… I believe you can use Water as well as Fire, Tsugumi-sensei?" She looks towards Aru, unsure where the Hyuga's affinities lie, but knowing that Reime also practices Ninjutsu. "…Hmmm. Even if Rinoko-chan uses Paper Clones with elemental calligraphy to cover the elements not represented, Yin and Yang are still a problem. From what I know from when I worked with them, the Nara and the Yamanaka both use the Yin Chakra Nature… And I believe the Akimichi use Yang. We have neither on our team. If we recruited Akimichi Noab-sama, that would cover one of our requirements. But we'd still need to find a Yin-release user."
Wait, you mean one of Aru's suggestions was actually useful? Her insight wasn't overshadowed by someone else's genius? Aru isn't sure how to feel about that, but she listens to what results from her idea to check if all the seals are the same. And what Nonon says makes sense. If they didn't have a Seals expert like Rinoko around, they wouldn't even been able to discern there were elements at all. But now that they know… They may need to go hunt for some more members.
"Rinoko-sensei. At the very least, if we're not able to get into the cave tonight, perhaps you could augment the traps placed by Tobiramako-sama with your own seals? I realize we have a time limit on getting to the scrolls, but buying ourselves time to return might help pad out the deadline a bit." Unfortunately, Aru can't do anything in that department, but she does examine the seal tags, trying to discern if she can recognize any Chakra imbued into them. She does. Seven different Chakra Natures, just as Nonon surmised.
"…Getting seven different shinobi with seven different Chakra Natures is a lot more clever of an obstacle than one would imagine, since each country tends to have a single Chakra Nature most prominent among its shinobi, and very few Villages have ninja that use all seven."
Suzu's clones were prepared to peel the seal tags off the cliff face, so it's a good thing that Tsugumi warns her and Rinoko when she does not to make contact. And the explanation of why that might have been a very bad idea comes to light. "…Touching a tag of the wrong element with the wrong Chakra Nature is definitely something to avoid." She looks at Aru, and then checks the tags with her Sharingan as well. She can see the Chakra coloring the tags, but doesn't quite have the perception powers that Aru or Reime or her mom do.
"I agree. It might be best to leave and come back. But I also think that if one of us who can use the Yin Chakra Nature touches that tag directly, then depending on how many Chakra Natures that Rinoko can use, she might be able to cover the rest." Suzu honestly isn't sure if she wants to be that person. What if they're wrong after all? It's one thing to put her life on the line to protect the team, but they can't even be sure that their theory of what the trap is happens to be correct.
She actually kind of wishes that Rinoko was more well-versed in seals. She'd always put the fuinjutsu of the Chuunin on a very high pedestal, but they need someone REALLY good to come close to someone who was Hokage-candidate material. It's not like Suzu has room to complain though. She knows almost nothing about seals and hasn't even manifested a second Chakra affinity. She has Yin via her Sharingan… But that doesn't do much good here. She can't cast a Genjutsu on a seal tag.
"…Do we push ahead or fall back to recruit help?" Suzu asks finally, looking to the two team leaders.
Tsugumi has been quiet and thoughtful as she has listened to the reports, the theories flying around, the advice and proposals… And then she looks to Rinoko. "You're co-leader. I may have a method of applying the Yin Chakra Nature directly to a seal tag, but I can't guarantee it will work, and your clones might be impacted first if the trap is set off. We're talking about Senju Tobiramako here. I wouldn't put it past one of her jutsu to be capable of affecting even the original, despite you using clones. It all depends on if you're confident in your interpretation of the Seals and willing to gamble that this theory about the trap is accurate enough we can try to disarm it."
Tsugumi says more quietly, breath fogging out from between her lips, "We can always put traps of our own like Aru-chan suggests, and go get more members if you think that would be best."
Listening to everyone's take on it, Rinoko frowns slightly and lets out a sigh. "As much as I would like to say I could handle this seal definitely, it is not something I could create at the level I am at now, so I'm not certain I could disable it without setting it off. Perhaps it would be better that we return with someone more advanced in seal jutsu than myself to be certain this doesn't turn into a suicide mission."
"Hmmm… Better safe than sorry." Nonon says when she hears what their course of action will be. Rinoko is super good, but rather than just brute-forcing their way through, coming back with more preparations is a good idea. They can't even be sure that the enemy is aware of the scrolls, after all. "…Though, you never answered whether you can set up some traps of your own or not, Rinoko-chan."
Then the blonde kunoichi prepares to return to the Hidden Leaf so they can get help. "I think your range of seals is probably the most diverse in the Village, at least as far as elemental usages, but at least having a second opinio might be useful. I suppose." She doesn't know if they need another fuinjutsu expert so much as people who can handle all of the seals. And if Rinoko can handle 6 out of 7, and Tsugumi thinks she can handle the remaining 7th, maybe just going ahead with the plan would be wise. For now, though… The decision has been made.
Time to go back to the Village and make a report.
Aru confirms her findings as she hears what everyone thinks. "Each one definitely has a different Chakra Nature. I can say that much at least." She hmphs. All that work, just have to go home at the climax. She supposes she should consider herself fortunate to not be on a team that just went decided to tear off all the seals without even thinking about the problem or considering how to remove them properly.
"All right, everyone. Let's go home and get warmed up." Maybe they can spend the night at Rinoko's place again… That fireplace is pretty warm after all…