Bloom and Grow - Pt. 3


Tsugumi, Suzu, Nonon, Rinoko, Saori, Aru

Date: August 5, 2016


10 days before a disastrous mission, Team 13 goes to retrieve a seal specialist who can help unlock the secrets of Senju Tobiramako's scrolls.

Poster's note: foul language filtered in obvious places.

"Bloom and Grow - Pt. 3"

Land of Whirlpools

It's night, and the full moon is large in the sky. So large it almost seems as though it could come down and collide with the world at any moment. Clouds hued in blacks and purples drift across the huge pale circle, as below, a dark forest stretches outwards in all directions like a sea of obsidian spikes, accented with green highlight when the light hits them just right. The air is cold. Cold as it can only be at the extreme north and south of the world, but the place is not so far towards either that it should be this frigid.

And yet, as snow begins to drift downwards, flakes spiralling in dancing patterns from above, despite the clouds not being the right type for it, it seems that the cold is here to stay.

There is a flash of movement. Seven shadows dart between the trees below. They are curved and slender in ways that make clear they are women. They are battered, bruised, cut and bleeding, half-frozen, and almost completely exhausted. They have been running all day and all night, and all of the night before. Not only have they been running, they have been running a fighting battle, with only brief periods of 'rest' where they were able to hunker down and gasp in lungfulls of air, before the enemy found them somehow, like they had neon signs hovering over their heads, and the battle resumed, and then the chase after that when they had to retreat.

No matter how many they take down, it seems like there's always more.

It was supposed to be a simple mission. Uchiha Tsugumi, huge chest heaving as even her stamina is nearly depleted, the straps of her armor shredded long ago and leaving her upper half only in a bodysuit that has more blood on it than fabric, scans across to the others, in similar states of disarray and injury. She's supposed to be leading them, but she doesn't know what to do against an opponent like this. How do you kill things that won't die after all?

The terrifying sound of shrieking and whistling that signifies an attack they have had to deal with far too many times already pierces the air. Tsugumi's Sharingan brightens as her eyes widen and she leaps up, grabbing anyone she can along the way who can't move their own bodies, and then fleeing…

Too slow this time, to avoid huge shuriken of ice hitting the tree behind her, making it explode into splinters, and send icicles driving into her back and shoulders. She cries out in pain as she hits the ground hard and rolls, trying to protect anyone she has hold of with her own body as best she can.

She turns her head, futilely trying to push herself up enough to look back at the approaching enemy… A line of shinobi in attire from all of the five Villages and many others. Then she slumps down, her ribs compressing from the ground smashing into her ice-stung chest as she lies on the ground, blood leaking from her injuries and from her mouth, her eyes fighting against her will in an attempt to close forever, she thinks to herself, 'It was supposed to be a simple mission…'


Team 13 had returned from their mission and reported on the difficulties they encountered with the seals two weeks prior. They were told that a solution would be come up with and they'd be informed when or if they were needed again. Over the following week or so, Rinoko led most of the team on a separate mission, and various other things occurred for all of them… But then came the call that they would be travelling in search of a Seal Specialist who could both be trusted with the knowledge of the Senju Tobiramako's legacy, and would be capable of assisting them in decyphering it safely. This was not the kind of jutsu that could just be 'figured out' easily, it seems. Not even for one as qualified as Rinoko or for geniuses such as Team 13 possessed.

So it was that they were sent out on a trip to The Land of Whirlpools, to seek out a particular Uzumaki from Uzushiogakure. Presently, they have assembled on the docks and are about to board a ferry across from the Land of Fire to the Land of Whirlpools. The sky is clear, the weather is warmish, and the sea breeze is refreshing in their faces. Tsugumi looks around to the assembled team, making sure everyone is prepared. "This is your last chance to make sure you have everything. And also that you've gone to the bathroom. There's no turning around once we get on."

Thankfully, all they have to do is go retrieve an ally of Konohagakure and bring them back. For now, that's the entirety of their mission. An escort quest.

It sounds like a simple mission.

Suzuha has spent her time while waiting for the ferry trying to complete her training to correct her Chakra imbalance. While she wants to push her jutsu further, to learn new techniques, to master her Sharingan… She needs to get her basics down first. Really, really. That will let her push herself even higher. So as she stands with the others at the docks, she's meditating atop a wooden support pole alongside the pier. She has one hand held out in front of her, eyes closed, and is focusing her Chakra into it, trying to condense the Chakra and flow it along her skin instead of propelling it or letting it blaze all over the place.

When she hears they'll be leaving shortly, she opens her eyes stands up and casually performs a fancy leap with a twirl and forward flip, landing on her feet and continuing forward at a walking pace as though she'd just hopped down. "I have everything I need. And it looks like almost all of us are here. Except for Kyuketsuki-san and Reime-chan…" She sighs. At least they have a full six-person team for once…

Thanks to their newest member.

Suzu looks at the white-haired young Genin, trying to see how prepared she is. A simple escort mission should be okay… But taking someone with barely any of the basics down could be a mistake… Then again, Suzu was taken on some high-level missions when she was pretty bad. So she isn't really one to nay-say giving someone a chance. She grew because of her experiences.

Nonon has been working on a little something something as well. But she has realized she doesn't have much direction in her growth. Her skills improve quickly, but she doesn't have an end goal. Even the goal of 'gain sensor capabilities of some kind' is really vague and her course to get there is equally nebulous. Tsugumi had a suggestion for her. 'If your Kekkei Genkai grants you great speed, rather than dividing your potential into lots of different branches of jutsu… Why not figure out a way to use what you're already good at?'

However, that's easier said than done. How is she supposed to use speed to detect things? Well, if she's such a 'genius' she'll figure it out. As Suzu is refining her Chakra control, Nonon is standing with the others, watching the ferry approach, and thinking on what she can do moving forward.

She's no longer the youngest member of the team, though, which keeps distracting her as she tries to chat up Saori. "So you got approved on the merit of all the jutsu you've learned EXCEPT for the basics? That's pretty impressive!"

An escort quest. Yeah, seems pretty and simple. It should be a relief from the extreme type of missions they've dealt with lately. Rinoko stands at the docks, adorned in her librarian-esque uniform with her hitai-ate worn on the right arm of the her coat. There aren't many places it'd look good on her outfit, so she settled for that. She is currently flipping through a book that was given to her by a medical ninja at the hospital to study, labeled Diseases and Treatments, so obviously she has decided to get serious about learning medical jutsu so what happened with the civilians on their last mission with having to abandon them and call for another team doesn't happen again.

As Tsugumi calls out that this is their last chance, she rather quickly double checks her pockets and such, looking a little nervous. Once she's certain she has everything, she smiles and nods. "Ready to go, Tsugumi-sama!"
Then when Suzu says who's not here, Rinoko blinks a couple times. A new addition to the team, it would seem. "Kyuketsuki is part of the team now? Huh," she says rather curiously then shrugs. "I'll have to congratulate him when I see him."

Hatake Saori is on her first mission. And this is… Not a D-Rank. This is an escort mission, so it's probably about a C-Rank… But the importance of the mission places another degree of risk to it. Still, with her inexperience, she is in no position to even guess at what she is going to have to go up against or what factors went into the rank designation. She also is new enough that she hasn't been told all of what Team 13 has done before now. Top secret and all.

She isn't very socially equipped so her responses to Nonon are mostly naive ones in which she is just trying to make 'small talk' to the best of her ability while waiting for the boat to arrive so they can continue with their objective. "It was nothing," Saori says without a hint of arrogance. "I was weak in many other areas, so I focused on those that would allow me to mitigate my weaknesses. It may seem counterintuitive to seek a more complicated form of jutsu than to learn the basics, but in this case it was a matter of efficiency. I am sure many others would have come to the same conclusion."

She looks to Suzu as she approaches, and then to Rinoko. "Uchiha Kyuketsuki was told he might be able to join, but that it would be discussed with you first…" Then she has a rare moment of understanding about social norms and shuts up. It's not her place to answer this inquiry. That is for Tsugumi to say.

Aru wanders back to the group. She was using the bathroom. Because she believes in BEING PREPARED and she has a tiny bladder. She misses the discussion so walks up after Saori is mentioning something about Tsugumi talking to someone about something. She quietly sidles up alongside Rinoko and Nonon and asks, "Is this supposed to be a long trip?" as she looks Saori over a bit. For like the seventh time since they set out from the Village.

Tsugumi shakes her head at Suzu. "That hasn't been confirmed yet," she chides mildly. "Rinoko is co-leader of Team 13. I haven't had the opportunity to get her input on that yet, so he hasn't been confirmed. Saori is one thing, as we had an immediate need for a medic and she has shown a lot of promise. Kyuketsuki-san is… Another matter." Then she turns attention outwards as the ferry pulls up the dock.

"Perhaps about 5 hours or so. Maybe more, maybe less, depending on the weather. The Land of Whirlpools isn't that far, relatively, but it has treacherous waters. As the name implies, water funnels and whirl pools are common, and they can appear without warning. I've been there a couple times before…" Tsugumi seems to space out briefly as she recalls something, but then shakes her head and steps onto the boat.

Once everyone is aboard, they have a relatively uneventful trip across the sea. Plenty of time to talk, to train, or to rest up. Or to keep an eye out for trouble.

They do have a hairy bit of navigation around large, menacing whirlpools, but they make port safely, and are able to disembark at a small town near Uzushiogakure. It's dark and overcast by the time they get there, but it's a lively town, with lots of lights and activity. And a LOT of red-heads.

Tsugumi seems a bit distracted but tries to focus on the task at hand. "We have someone we need to meet who is going to escort us the rest of the way. Uzumaki Kukki…" She's looking at a photograph of their guide and trying to pick her out of the crowd. With all the partying, and fighting, and aggressive selling/buying going on in this coastal town, however, it's a bit difficult.

Suzu accepts the rebuke with grace, and a bit of a frown. How was she supposed to know it hadn't been finalized yet? Either way, she has plenty of time to get over her annoyance on the trip over. Flowing her Chakra and then taking a rest to eat and refresh her reserves. She has never dealt with whirlpools before, so the danger of them is new and scary, but they make it through intact and land safely. There sure is a lot of red hair… Are these… ALL Uzumaki? They seem to compromise the majority of the population, unlike in the Hidden Leaf, where many different Clans are everywhere.

"You said you'd already been here before. Why do we need an escort to bring us to the Village?" Suzu asks as she squints and tries to pick out the person in the photo from the chaotic crowd.

Nonon nods her head. Saori is definitely smart… While Nonon is clever and improves quickly… She isn't as intellectual as Saori apparently is. The fact that such an unconventional solution to having training difficulties could seem 'natural' to her speaks volumes for how much more advanced she must have been than the rest of the Academy Students. No wonder she graduated despite her skill deficiencies.

Nonon grins as Aru reappears and gives her a one-armed hug. "Well, we're all together now. Let's get a move on!" Then they're on their way, and having a nice little boat ride… UNTIL WHIRLPOOLS.

Thankfully, they have an experienced captain, it seems, because they make landfall without losing anyone. Not even Aru!

And then… Wow. So much… Red. Nonon is a bit starry eyed at all the vivid colors, and her senses are thrown into disarray by all the chaos and noise and action. "What a wild town~… And a wilder people! I want to come back here some time when we're not on business~!" nn

Rinoko glances over at Saori as she speaks, canting her head just slightly. Bit of a faux pas, but at least it wasn't anything too bad on the Genin's part. Aru then catches her attention as she walks up by her, and the Rankoro would smile and dip her head in greeting to the Hyuuga before finally turning her attention back to Tsugumi and Suzu as they explain the situation around the new member of the team. "We can discuss that later."

She would board the ship with the others and find a place to sit down and read that book. There is a lot for her learn when it comes to medical jutsu. She can't be slacking if she wants to get any kind of formidable soon.

When they disembark, she would look around to get a good read of the town… Wow at the red heads and the activity. She steps close enough to Tsugumi to look at the picture as she does then starts looking around to try and help pick this woman out… This might be difficult.

Saori was already further away from home than she'd ever been before just by being at the docks. When they actually set sail and start heading across the coastal waters between Land of Fire and Land of Whirlpools, she feels an odd thrill of excitement and… Apprehension. Is it just the fact she's so far away from home? That she's doing something outside her experience? The pressure of her first mission being a C-Rank? Something else? She doesn't know. But she tries to match the behavior of those around her, who are taking things seriously but not TOO seriously.

Except when the large whirlpools appear, threatening to disrupt their passage or suck them down into the depths. But even after that, they make it ashore safely, and everyone seems more amazed by the strange hair colors than the hazard they just overcome. It's true, Saori has never met an Uzumaki before, or seen that precise hair shade… But even so, that hardly seems relevant to the mission. Saori tries to see the photo, but with everyone else crowded around it, she doesn't really have the opportunity.

Instead she takes the opportunity to study their surroundings, and the people in them. "I would venture that since the Land of Whirlpools is a sovereign nation and Uzushiogakure a Hidden Village, they would offer us a shinobi escort in order to keep their territory secure and ensure we arrive safely." she proposes. It just seems logical, after all.

Aru looks askance at Nonon when she gets hugged, blushing a bit. "Is there something wrong with you, Nonon-san? You seem to have contracted a case of 'the grabs'." she remarks grumpily. But she doesn't move away.

Aru doesn't have much training to do. But she did want to advance her own medical knowledge. So she sits next to Rinoko during the trip, and reads over her shoulder. Upon arriving at the Land of Whirlpools, Aru takes in the sight along with everyone else, but seems more focused on the mission than sight-seeing. "If we are supposed to be meeting this person here, then they should know to be on the look-out for us. Finding her is probably less necessary than remaining where we are and waiting to be found."

Tsugumi nods in agreement with what many here have said. "You're right. Though the escort is also a symbol of friendship. Konohagakure and Uzushiogakure have close ties. It's respectful to give us a guide who will take us to the meeting with the Uzumaki Elders. There are still practical reasons as well, as Saori noted."

sugumi looks up and starts to say, "Either way, we can simply wait here for now—" However she gets cut off by a surprise ambush!

A pair of hands come around from behind Tsugumi, grab the undersides of her breasts and squeeze them together while lifting them, as a female voice calls out cheerily, "TSU-CHAAAAAAN!" There appears to be a red-haired woman about Tsugumi's age clinging to the Uchiha kunoichi. She's wearing a purple evening dress of some kind that barely covers anything.

Tsugumi seems quite surprised, and blushes a bit, but doesn't respond with violence despite the ninja reflexes she has. Instead she seems to realize who is molesting her and heaves a sigh. "Hello, Bisuketto-chan. It's been a long time."

'Bisuketto' keeps on massaging Tsugumi and rubbing against her back with hearts floating around her head as she says, "I've missed you so much! I thought I was never going to see you again! I almost didn't recognize you at first, because of how much you've grown, but I'd recognize THESE anywhere!" She starts trying to slip her hands under Tsugumi's armor.

Tsugumi grabs Bisuketto's hands and stops THAT public display as she turns around to face her. "It's good to see you again, Bisuketto, but we're on business. Is there any way I could convince you not to… To…"

The other woman is already rubbing her cheeks all over Tsugumi's chest. Wh-who is this horny woman? Clearly she's someone who knows Tsugumi… Rather WELL, apparently. Is she their guide?

Well… That makes sense. All of the answers provided. Though now Suzu feels dumb for not thinking of any of them herself. Though that is wiped away by surprise when she notices some strange woman sneak up from behind her mom and start grabbing her! How did no one spot her!? Is she a ninja too!?

…A really pervy ninja!?

"Um…" Suzu says as Tsugumi turns around and greets Biskutto. And Biskutto keeps nuzzling all up on her. "…Someone you know, Okaa-san?" And more importantly, given that their mission is kind of secret, should they really be having attention drawn to them like this in public…? Suzu will be the first to admit she likes resting her head on those pillows too. Very comforting. But this isn't really the time or place for it!

Nonon is surprised by the sudden appearance of the pervy red-head as well, though she adapts quickly enough. "Hello! Uzumaki Biskutto-san, was it? Nice to meet you! We're waiting to meet with someone. You wouldn't happen to know of the whereabouts of an Uzumaki Kukki, would you?" Keeping on topic and not being distracted by groping is always a good idea, right? It's not like those scrolls are going to keep forever, or else they wouldn't be rushing them out to Uzushiogakure to find a fuinjutsu specialist among the Uzumaki.

Though she feels envious of both Tsugumi and Biskutto for some reason she can't explain.

Rinoko looks to Saori as she speaks, nodding to her before glancing to Aru as she speaks, trying to give everyone in the team's opinions their proper value. Just as she is about to say something back to them-

Who in the… Rinoko stares a little more than she should as the red-haired woman comes up and starts groping Tsugumi with her hands and then her head. Seems like she wants to be in contact with the Uchiha's massive chest any way she can. Rinoko blinks a few times and stares kinda hard…. Maybe just a little jealous.

Then the librarian realizes she's being a little rude and would bow head her lightly. "Umm.. Hi… Rankoro Rinoko. Nice to meet you."

Saori was busy looking around and so also missed the arrival of The Groper as she appears and latches onto one of their team leaders. She blinks a bit and reaches for her blade slowly, but it seems that Tsugumi knows this woman, so she doesn't go any further than that. When Rinoko makes the decision to offer her name, it seems that they are meant to identify themselves on this mission. Hm. Well, it's not like the safety of the country is dependent on this escort mission or anything. So it's probably okay.

The white-haired girl bows and says, "Hatake Saori. Good to meet you."

She doesn't know enough about yuri to say anything about the rest of what's going on. So sheltered! So innocent! How long will that last with this group???

Is this group even composed of ninja? They seem to have all been blind-sided by this boob-grabbing woman! Aru, who was so concerned about the mission, allowed this… This… Mammary maniac to slip through their defenses! She is appalled! She takes the time to express this by looking at the red-head in the minimal-coverage dress very intently for signs of weaponry or of anything being wrong with her Chakra, using her Byakugan. It's a bit strange that an old friend of Tsugumi's would just HAPPEN to show up here at this exact moment, after all…

After doing a check, though, she puts her eyes away for now so she can report her findings more discretely at another time. Unless she found nothing. "Hyuga Aru." she offers flatly. No 'nice to meet you' here. This is a disruption to the mission!

Tsugumi sighs and says, "This is Uzumaki Bisuketto, a… Friend I made on past visits to the Land of Whirlpools. This is my daughter, Suzuha—" The words aren't even out of her mouth yet and Bisuketto is strutting around Suzu, giving her a very close inspection.

The purple-dressed woman hm-hm-hms~ appreciatively at what she sees and says, "I can tell she's your daughter! You look so alike! Though her hair is a bit sharper than yours… But she has all the important attributes~."

Tsugumi just continues on as though she wasn't interrupted, with, "…and Namikaze Nonon." as she indicates the blonde kunoichi. "The rest have already introduced themselves. But Rinoko-san is the co-leader of Team 13. We're here on a mission so we'll have to catch up another time."

Bisuketto, with her high ponytail that streams down her back, turns about and nearly falls out of her dress. "Nonsense~. I can help you out, Tsu-chan! Kukki-chan is my daughter. Come on by my inn and I'll bring her right to you~. I'll make it worth your whiiiile~." She winks at the mature kunoichi, and then turns around to give a saucy grin at all the other women present. "You've really assembled a lovely bunch of coconuts here, Tsu-chan~. It's a pleasure to meet all of you." She looks at Saori, the youngest, and attempts to pat-pat her on the head. "This one is especially adorable~!" Then she looks to Aru. "And this serious one too! So cute! But yes, ahem!"

She bows to everyone (this time definitely causing a wardrobe malfunction) and says, "To introduce myself properly, I am Uzumaki Bisuketto. I run an inn and pub here in town. Nice to meet you all!" She smiles brightly at Rinoko, and then to Nonon, and then to Suzu, and then… Just… So many pretties~!

Before Tsugumi can answer on going to the inn or not, however, there is a sudden clamor of voices, rising above even the wild partying and fighting going on all over. Warning bells start ringing in towers above, and people start fleeing through the streets. Tsugumi is immediately in combat mode, as she asks, "What's going on?"

Bisuketto tries to grab hold of Tsugumi (by her hand for once) and lead her away, calling out, "Everyone, to my inn! Sea monsters are attacking!"

Tsugumi refuses to get pulled away as she asks, "What do you mean sea monsters?"

Just then, some large reptillian creatures with a mix of fins and tendrils and horns emerges from the ocean, eyes glowing, at least 18 feet tall, and starts making its way onto the shore. Other strange creatures seem to be emerging after it. Oh, those kind of sea monsters.

Tsugumi frowns at them and then says, "I'm assuming they're dangerous. We'll drive them off and meet you at your inn later."

Bisuketto seems about to protest, but then looks around at the strong kunoichi, and nods her head once. "Come back with your lovely selves intact!" she calls over her shoulder as she joins the fleeing throngs.

It's no secret that Team 13 has a lot of very… Hormonal women on it. But they're a ninja team first and foremost. And Suzu isn't used to someone being this OPENLY pervy towards her and the others. Not even Reime is this bad! So she isn't certain how to respond at all, beyond, "Um… Thank you?" But the news that their guide is Bisuketto's daughter is good news at least. It means they can get in contact with her easier by going along with her.

Before a decision can be reached, however, SEA MONSTERS attack! Is this a thing in this country!? Apparently it is! Suzu turns to try to find the source of the danger, her eyes already bearing her Sharingan as she cans for the threat. When it appears, she isn't sure what to make of it. After all, she hasn't really… Dealt with this kind of thing before. Maybe the summoned beasts, yes, but those were still ANIMALS. These are just, as they were so aptly-described, MONSTERS.

She nods in response to her mother, and then asks of both Tsugumi and Rinoko, "Should we be aiming to disable, drive off, or kill? They might be hostile, but it's possible they could just be looking for food or something." She molds Chakra in preparation to fight either way.

This is indeed a very forward friend of Tsugumi's! Nonon has to wonder what 'friend' means in this instance to be so close… She smiles back and bows as she is greeted and Bisuketto introduces herself. The news that they can easily meet with their guide by following this sultry lady is good news, in her opinion, but not everyone seems to be on-board with this red-haired innkeeper.

The decision seems to be postponed by the arrival of SEA MONSTERS, however. Nonon draws a kunai as the decision is made to help out. Though she wonders if there's any local defense forces that can handle this, if it's a frequent occurrence. Well, first thing's first. A pre-emptive strike. "While Tsugumi-sensei and Rinoiko-chan have final say, I think taking them down is our first priority. If that can be done through driving them off or disabling them, I don't see why we can't use those methods. But the safety of that or those we are defending is the main objective when we are on defense. Other concerns of motivations can come afterwards." Then she forms hand seals quickly and points one arm out at the approaching sea monsters, and intones, "Lightning Release: Lightning Shotgun!" An blast of lightning flies from the palm of her hand, trying to strike the lead monster. Maybe a healthy electric shock will make it think twice about coming ashore.

As Tsugumi introduces the woman, Rinoko would offer her another bow of her head. Any friend of Tsugumi's should be shown some respect even if she does seem like the polar opposite of members of Team 13 like Rinoko and Aru that tend to be more reserved… even if she's more out there than even the crazier members of the team.

The librarian watches the interaction between the two carefully… maybe curiously… She blinks slightly as the woman talks about them then pats Saori on the head and talks a little about Aru. Kind of rude, but maybe the woman's friendliness is a little outside the box for Rinoko.

The bow does at least get a stare, though one might wonder if it's shock or appreciation… perhaps both by that slight tinge of red on the Rankoro woman's cheeks.

That thought process is (maybe thankfully) broken as the commotion starts, and Rinoko looks with wide eyes toward it as the monster rises up from the sea and begins its attack… followed by more monsters. "We should drive them away. Wounding them grievously might cause them to lash out harder and harm some of the village people." With that she would bring her hands into a seal, causing a transformation in her body that only those with their dojutsu active would see for a moment until seals begin spreading from under her clothes over her body like tattoos of various shapes and sizes. It seems Rinoko has stepped up the game of her Paper Body transformation… which would be more obvious as she points her hands forward, sending trio of sheets of paper from her sleeves toward the beasts that blast fire at them to try and make them reflexively move backward. It probably won't work this early, but it's worth a shot.

Oh, good. They have a lead on their guide. Saori's head is patted, and she doesn't know how to feel about that. Should she be appreciative? Embarrassed? Angry? Being people is hard. Thankfully, she does not have to worry her white-haired head about it as sea monsters appear and the call to defend people is given.

"I do not have much in the way of offensive jutsu," she warns. Then she forms the hand seals for a Fire-style jutsu and exhales three blasts of flames in quick succession aimed at the feet of one of the incoming monsters. Maybe a hot foot will make it reluctant to keep advancing. Most creatures fear fire, as Rinoko surmised. So hopefully these ones do as well.

Otherwise, she's probably going to be relegated to healing anyone who has gotten injured instead.

Aru just gives Bisuketto a blank stare as she is called cute. If Bisuketto has a weakness for the serious types, that would explain why she latched onto Tsugumi. …Or part of why. There are other parts. Large parts.

Aru will admit the Uzumaki woman is pretty but, you know… Mission! Thankfully, her Byakugan didn't detect anything out of the ordinary, so there's that at least—


Aru turns around wildly, trying to figure out where that awful clamor is coming form and why everyone is running, and if she should be too. And then… Sea monsters. Sea monsters? Sea monsters!

Lacking any ranged attacks whatsoever, Aru can't do much if the plan is to avoid excessive harm. But she can use her Byakugan, at least, to try to identify weak points. "…Based on how developed their Chakra structure is around their sense organs, I think that sensory assaults might drive them off. Bright light, loud noise, strong smells. If anyone has flashbang tags or stink bombs, they may be effective here."

Tsugumi didn't have her Sharingan active when Rinoko performed her transformation, but it is in time to see and track the high-level jutsu the other Chuunin is using, as she uses flame seals to try to scare off the beasts. Tsugumi nods in approval, as well as to Aru's suggestion of sensory assault instead of force. Tsugumi doesn't have the suggested tools… But she can make them. Sort of.

She weaves hand seals and unleashes a large blast of flame via a Great Fireball Technique. Aiming above the heads of the creatures. Near their faces, but not AT them. She sweeps the flamethrower stream through the air, and simultaneously casts Genjutsu with her Sharingan to make one of them hear a loud grating metal noise in whatever passes for ears. The creature almost immediately nopes out of there and returns to the sea.

Likewise, the others don't seem to be quite as ferocious as they appeared, and flee readily before the combined might of the various kunoichi. The biggest one sticks around though. It roars in fury as it steps on flaming ground and then retreats, but does not go all the way back into the ocean. As electricity zaps it, its scales seem to rattle in agitation. The flames from Rinoko that have driven the others back seem only to make the lead monster angrier as it gets down on all fours and charges up from the docks at them!

Suzu doesn't have the variety of the jutsu the others have. She's more balanced. She notes the strange transformation Rinoko undergoes. Is that similar to when she turned into a bird? She didn't see the actual change take place that first time. The rest of Team 13 is doing a fine job of putting a stop to the monster invasion before it really gets started, but one seems determined to snap up some kunoichi snacks, and comes charging up the street towards them like a high-speed alligator or something!

She isn't a zoologist, okay. Or a sea monster-ologist. Oceanologist? WHATEVER.

She charges forth, trying to keep the others safe by meeting the monster half-way, and then… Vanishing!?

Except she doesn't vanish. She just ducks down so quickly the creature is likely to lose sight of her. And then she tries to kick it under its jaw forcefully, to attempt to whip its head up and backwards. It's far too big to kick up off the ground. Not without using the Gates like Daichi can. But if she can give it whiplash at least a little, she can attempt to use her Sharingan to attempt to mimic his Taijutsu style enough to drive the heel of her foot back down into its sensitive snout with an axe kick, somersault forward and try to drive her foot into it again, right between its eyes, and then continue spinning forward to deliver a third kick right to the top of its skull in an attempt to slam its face directly into the pavement.

It's just a little something she whipped up in her training recently. But hopefully it will be of use given her lack of high-end jutsu right now.

Nonon hears Aru's suggestion and uses some of her other Lightning-style ninjutsu to blind the enemies with bright light. It seems that not trying to kill them or defeat them was the right call after all. That's why Rinoko and Tsugumi are in charge of this team, she supposes. They just have much greater experience.

"Just as I'd expect of Rinoko-chan! Good call!" she cheers and gives a thumbsup as the monsters flee back to the ocean.

But then one of them, the really big one, doesn't fall back. Nonon is prepared to do something about that, but Suzu seems to have it under control, so she stays back and watches, waiting to see what the younger of the two Uchiha present has in store. And it seems Suzu has been practicing her Taijutsu quite a bit to pull off a complex maneuver like that.

Nonon nods, impressed. She doesn't know if it will be effective, but it's clearly a testament to the Uchiha genin's skill!

She looks to Saori, who gave the creature a hot foot, and says, "That was also a good idea, Saori-san~. Most creatures don't like to walk on fire, so it was a simple and effective obstacle to doing so! I think it would have worked well on the less aggressive ones." She doesn't want their newest member to feel bad just because ONE of the monsters decided not to retreat peacefully.

Well, carp! Though most of the beasts fled, one of them sticks around… and charges them! Rinoko shifts her hands into a seal again, causing paper wings to form on her back that lift her into the sky over the charging beast.

It takes a moment, but the librarian kunoichi comes up with another plan to help Suzu bring the beast down. She flies over it while Suzu starts trying to kick the **** out of it, sending down a pair of tags that spark with lightning and try to latch onto the monster to shock it and stun it so it has no chance of escaping the barrage as the younger of the Uchiha tries to obliterate it.

Saori blinks at how quickly the monsters retreated. Except for the one in the lead. She expected this to be a more drawn out battle. Unless they were only testing how easy the prey was here. In which case they might be facing these beasts again in the future. One seems to keep coming, however, and Nonon leaves it in the hands (or feet, as the case may be) of Suzu. Rinoko sprouting wings, along with the rest of her jutsu, are far outside the realm of expertise or experience that the white-haired girl has with the vast range of techniques in the world. So all she can do is stand by and watch for any need for assistance. If anyone gets injured, she can mend light injuries, at least…

But with Rinoko hurling down electrifying seals to bind and paralyze the creature, and Suzu using amazing Taijutsu, it doesn't appear to Saori that her services will be required. Unless they want her to heal the sea monster before they send it back to the ocean. She could do that.

"Thank you, Nonon-san. I believe you were trying to assuage my feelings. But I am well aware that I am not at the same level as all of you and that it will be some time before I can provide a meaningful degree of contribution. The important thing is that the disruption has been dealt with and we can now continue with our mission." She looks to the sea monster, however, feeling bad for it, and wishing they hadn't had to resort to violence. "…I would like to work on healing the creature, however, so that it is able to return to the ocean instead of being trapped on land where it could hurt people."

It seems identifying weak points was more useful than being able to join the attack. Tsugumi and Rinoko and everyone have made efforts to make her feel like she isn't useless. Just like Nonon is doing for Saori now. But for the first time, Aru actually feels like she made a difference. That the battle ended faster than it would have otherwise by finding a vulnerability instead of everyone just pounding away at the target until half the team is on death's door.

Like that time at the river…

Aru shakes her head and examines the Chakra flow of the sea monster. "It appears to be unconscious. Minimal healing will be needed to restore its basic functions. Its other injuries are fairly superficial. Though if we return it to the ocean, it may simply attack again in the future, and these people might not be as lucky."

She looks to Tsugumi, and then to Rinoko. "Maybe we should finish it off instead of sparing it." It's a cold thing she suggests, to kill off a downed enemy. But it's a practical one, with the lives of innocent people as the counter point to the ruthlessness. If they hadn't been here, how many could have been injured? Or killed? What level of property destruction would have occurred? Damage to people's livelihoods?

And from the absence of local protectors responding, the fact that Team 13 won't always be here to fight off sea monsters means that what they decide NOW could save a lot of lives in the future.

Tsugumi is also surprised by how relatively easy it was to chase off the monsters, though perhaps that's a testament to how much the team has grown, how well they work together now, and the benefits of splitting leadership with Rinoko. Suzu's Taijutsu skills alone are far and above where she was at a little over a year ago. And she has grown in so many other ways, including in confidence and courage. Nonon is still trying to find her place, her focus, but she keeps advancing alongside the others, and she is learning how to be nicer, more like a team mate that a primadonna. Rinoko, Tsugumi has had quite awhile to be impressed with the growth of. All the jutsu she has learned, the innovations she has made, the increases in courage like Suzu, as well as overcoming deep-seated fears, are all quite remarkable. Saori, like Nonon, is still finding her place, but she is fitting into the group with amazing rapidity. Tsugumi doesn't down the Hatake kunoichi has more adapting to do, as well as jutsu to learn.

But she has a keen awareness of situations, people, and tactics, with a head for numbers that will serve her well in the future if she becomes a team leader in turn. Aru, as well, as grown to be more sociable, and less resentful of those who happen to be further along than her. There was something between Suzu, Aru, and Reime for awhile, but that looks like it's been resolved, and Aru has been training hard to advance instead of relying on her heritage.

Everyone is just coming along so nicely, and it makes Tsugumi so proud to have been part of it, and to get to watch them as they grow. It'd odd that a random encounter like this put it all in perspective for her.

Tsugumi smiles and asks, "Well, Rinoko? What do you think? Keep your catch or throw it back?" In her head, however, she's hoping that Ken is watching them from wherever he is, and seeing how well they're doing, despite his absence.

Rinoko swoops in and electrocutes the creature as Suzu pounds on it. She leaps back, watching as the beast crackles and twitches. And she hears Aru's suggestion. Suzu frowns and looks towards the Hyuga. She isn't sure she's comfortable killing this thing… Even if tried to attack them, there is a difference between killing an enemy in the middle of combat, and killing one who has been downed. But… If she's going to eliminate the people who killed her father, and other ninja of the Hidden Leaf, and attacked her home… Does she need to become harder to death? Able to slay a downed enemy, before they can stab her in the back?

It's just some kind of alligafishtopus thing. It's not a big dramatic deal. It's not a person or anything. But she looks at it, her Sharingan glowing bright red, sees the erratic flow of its Chakra as its body seizes up from electric shocks and cranial damage…

And she can't bring herself to do it. Maybe she'll need to be able to kill when the time comes. But this isn't that time. "Rinoko-san… I think Saori-san should heal it and we should send it back. We don't know its motives for attacking. And we don't know what might happen in the future. It's possible even something like this has a family somewhere. And maybe they're waiting for this one to come back. It might have just been coming for all the food that's being cooked around here. All the freshly-caught fish. We don't know."

She shakes her head. "I know it's up to you and my mom, but… This isn't a situation where we need to be ruthless."

Nonon has little to say in this situation. Saori correctly identified her motives, and stated them so plainly back to her that the blonde is actually shocked, and staring for several seconds. Dumbfounded for the first time that anyone here has seen. Then she starts giggling. "You're right, you're right, Saori-san~… You did your best with what you can do now and you know you can get stronger in the future. I'll support you every step of the way!"

But then Aru starts talking about killing the creature that, just moments ago, Nonon herself was prepared to use lethal force against. And even though she has killed lots of enemies (more than she lets on, and that she deals with via her cheerful demeanor), it's not the same to attack a defeated opponent as one actively attacking.

But there's a counter argument to that. That if you show mercy to a beast that probably won't even understand it, and people die as a result, those deaths will be on their heads. Nonon can see both perspectives. And she doesn't know which is morally the best. Even if one goes by which is more tactically sound could cause complications… If there's a family, as Suzu has suggested, and these things have enough intelligence, killing this one might incur the wrath of the others, and bring more death and misfortune on this town. Of course, that is only a hypothesis based off of factors they can't be sure of, and have no evidence for.

Second-guessing one's self all the time leads one in circles and to inaction.

Thankfully, it's not up to Nonon to make the call here. So she looks to Rinoko, and waits to hear if they're healing their enemy, or ending it.

How did all this get to be on Rinoko? As she lands back on the ground near the team, the Rankoro woman looks around at them and blinks several time. She looks to Saori first and then to Aru as they each present their points. After they've done so, she looks Suzu and then finally back to Tsugumi.

Rinoko doesn't particularly like being put on the spot, especially when it basically determines the fate of the village if she screws up. A bead of sweat forms on her forehead as she thinks. "… Heal it and guide it back to sea. Instruct the village to set up a guard post to keep an eye on the sea and use flame and lightning techniques and such to scare them back into the sea. If we're lucky, they'll remember this attack and the scares will eventually train them to find other hunting grounds that aren't inhabited by people."
«OOC» Tsugumi has to give Rinoko decision-making experience!

Saori nods in affirmative, noting that Rinoko didn't seme comfortable making this decision. She'd regret asking, if having done so hadn't resulted in saving a life. She advances to where the creature lies and proceeds to work on healing it to the best of her ability. She touches glowing green Medical Chakra to various points of injury, working to mend flesh and bone.

She wasn't sure what kind of Team she would be with. But she is grateful that she wound up with a compassionate one.

Aru could try to disagree with the decision. But instead she just… Breathes in and heaves a sigh. This is the life she has made. She heads over to where the sea creatures lies, and uses her Byakugan to try to identify underlying injurie. This is a creature with anatomy that none of them here are familiar with. Skilled or not, if Saori is going to really help this thing… "Here, let me spot the injuries, baka. You want it to get back to its family safely, don't you? she tsunderes at Saori huffily.

"Here, there's a fracture here, in the nasal cavity, from Suzu-san's big dumb foot. And here! The eye socket here is bruised! And over here, electrical burns behind the fins!" She may be grouchy, but she is glad that she's on this team too.

Being around them is probably keeping her from becoming someone she'd rather not be.

That's just the magic of Team 13.

Tsugumi wanders up behind Rinoko and hugs her from behind, squishing into her back, and whispering in her ear. "Sorry for putting you on the spot. But I wanted to give you command experience and all. There will be harder decisions than this one to make in the future. Don't worry, I'll make it up to you later."

Then the sound of Bisuketto calling out, "TSU-CHAAAAAN! Did you defeat the monster yet? Dinner is getting cold!" rings out as people start returning to the streets. They may notice the warning bells have stopped ringing as well.

Sigh. She'll make it up to Rinoko, assuming that they're able to get on the road and out of here with their guide, instead of getting ambushed by Bisuketto, at least…

This is only the start of their mission. And it's already stopped being as simple as it was supposed to be.

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