Date: August 19, 2016
Team 13 returns to the sealed cliff with an Uzumaki seal specialist in tow who can help them crack the barrier. But will things go as planned?
"Bloom and Grow - Pt. 4"
Land of Fire
TWO DAYS BEFORE THE INCIDENT…
Following a training session on a stormy night in the gymnasium, and a small celebration of Tsugumi's promotion to Jounin, Team 13 has received orders to move out with the Uzumaki seal specialist they brought back from the Land of Whirlpools, Uzumaki Mihoshi. They are to once again head out to the cave they located, with the intent of disabling Senju Tobiramako's seals. It's unclear where Tobiramako herself is in all this. It seems like it would be most logical to get her to undo the defenses. But when Tsugumi asked about such, she was given non-answers or simply redirected to her mission without explanation.
So something secret enough that not even a newly-minted Jounin can be told about it? ANBU-level secrets, perhaps? Maybe when they get back with the scrolls she'll be clued in.
For now, they have managed to make it to the cave, with the seal tags they found still intact and the area undisturbed. Mihoshi is a grumpy but quiet kunoichi, around Tsugumi's age or a bit older. It's hard to tell due to the reduced aging rate of their Clan and their long lives.
She's dresses fairly conservatively, in a robe bearing the spiralling design of Uzushiogakure in various places, and is presently examining the tags, squinting and analyzing without saying anything to the others present.
Tsugumi stands nearby, arms loose incase she needs them suddenly, keeping an eye out for the surrounding forest. It's at least not the dark of night this time… But that means not only will they be able to see any enemies more easily, but the reverse will be true as well. A trade-off that might not be worth it when the entire team is comprised of sensor-nin who can operate in the dark just fine.
Rinoko sort of wishes she could've stayed a little longer to do some in depth seal study with her cousin-clan, but there will be time for that. Maybe she should request that they make a return trip to Uzushiogakure, or at least that she can some day for that for that purpose. The team most likely wouldn't mind going back to that place, though.
Rinoko would stand near the Uzumaki woman, adorned in her librarian-esque uniform with her hands clasped behind her back as she observes the other woman's scrutiny of the seals. Perhaps she can be of some help at least since she's the seal expert of this team, though she is nowhere near the level of the Uzumaki yet even if her skills are possibly more varied.
A brief glance would be cast between Tsugumi and Mihoshi once in a while, the Rankoro Chuunin perhaps wondering if and hoping she's doing the right thing. The grumpy lady would probably tell her if she was in the way at least, she figures.
Suzu has been practicing her Chakra control non-stop, only holding off long enough to make sure she is rested enough for the mission. But now, as she stands with everyone elese, keeping a Sharingan or two on her surroundings. She continues to not be proficient with sealing techniques, and thus continues to leave this to those who are.
At least she has a bit more confidence in her Chakra control now. It feels far more stable, and she's able to get it down to 3/4ths of an inch from her skin within the 5 minute time limit she and Aru had established. She needs to focus on getting it even tighter. And then the final step will come.
Nonon has also been training. Despite her resolve to become a contributing member of the team in regard to 'actually being a sensor-nin on a team of sensor-nin', at Tsugumi's own suggestion, she has chosen to make her greatest strength useful to the team. And her greatest strength is her speed. She'll worry about her sensory abilities when she can handle the duties that the others rely on her for. However, she learned from the mission Rinoko ran a few weeks ago.
And she makes sure she's well-rested before this mission, much like Suzu appears to have. Nonon is a bit too brightly dressed to just be standing at the cave entrance with everyone else, so she is up in the trees of the surrounding forest, keeping an eye out from among the leafy boughs. It's cold and rainy, thanks to the season, but at least the leaves are still intact. Would be hard to hide in a tree without them…
Saori is wearing all white with white hair, so she also is up in a tree, keeping an eye out and trying to stretch her senses to encompass the area and any weird Chakra sources. But she's likely to be far less capable of that then the others present. Aru alone has more sensory power in one eye than Saori has in her entire body. But still, she is quiet, and she is small, and she will use this to her advantage by remaining unobtrusive as much as possible.
No good comes of the medic on the team getting spotted and eliminated before they can help any team mates. She's probably aware of the nature of the mission now, as she wasn't before. But Saori isn't sure if she's qualified for it. This is pretty high-stakes and all. Can she do anything meaningful?
Aru has a Byakugan. A Byakugan she has worked on making more useful. She has succeeded at this by improving the range and detail discernible by training her base ability. This now allows her to much more accurately detect enemies, as well as to extend the radius of the 'sphere of awareness' around her as she projects Chakra from her whole body. This range is even further increased when she focuses it more narrowly, in the direction she's looking for instance.
And that is how she is fairly confident that there is no one but them in the area. No one but them and wild life. If the wild life were disturbed, she'd know. If someone was using Genjutsu on the animals or possessing them in order to spy, she'd know. But only if they're within range of her Byakugan. She still has trouble counting all the birds around her. She keeps misjudging by three or four each time…
Tsugumi would have informed Saori by now, yes. At this point, the newest Team 13 member needs to know what the objective of the mission is so she can prepare appropriately. This is their second trip to this cave, and thus far they've not run into any trouble beyond finding it and dealing with the seals. Could it be that all of their safety measures, all their secrecy, is either unnecessary… Or just doing the job it was meant to?
Those with sensor abilities would not be detecting any indication of people in the area watching them, being followed, or similar. Uzumaki Mihoshi glances towards Rinoko suddenly, however, and demands, "You have Elemental Calligraphy using all five elements, I hear?" She puts one hand in the center of the boulder, and seal formula spread outwards across the rocky surface to link each of the seven seal tags to a ring of markings around her hand's position. Writing seals without any tools, eh? And it looks like sophisticated stuff.
"Your team was right in your initial analysis," she comments to Rinoko and Tsugumi. "Each of these uses something like Rankoro-style fuinjutsu. One Elemental Chakra Nature per tag. But it's more complicated than just applying the right Elemental Chakra Nature. As you noted, there's two with Yin and Yang. While those two definitely are used in various jutsu, such as Genjutsu and Medical Ninjutsu, they also alter the properties of Elemental Chakra Natures based on the ratio of Yin and Yang Chakra. The same jutsu can have very different effects depending on that ratio."
Mihoshi looks from Rinoko to the seal tags. "In order to unlock this barrier, it doesn't need just the right elements. It also needs them in the right configuration, with the right ratios, in the right pattern. There may also be a time limit involved as well. So someone would need to not only be able to provide the Chakra Natures, but then have a code based on those elements, and each of those elements can be arranged in, if we assume a trinary Yin-aspect, Yang-aspect, and balanced Yin/Yang aspect set of configurations, an enormous number of sets of elemental chakra codes and variations."
Tsugumi's eyes narrow. She is really not liking the sound of this. It's good on the one hand they didn't just try to force their way past the barrier or just try applying the corresponding elements to the tags. Who knows what would have happened? But on the other hand, it seems this is not going to be a simple matter to get inside…
"Well, I suppose I have to hand it to the First Hokage's sister. This is a jutsu worthy of her talent and power. Do you have any way of narrowing down the possibilities for what the 'password' is?" the mature kunoichi asks while looking to Rinoko. She assumes Mihoshi asked a question of the co-leader of Team 13 because it was related to the mission.
"Hai, I've managed to acquire all five," Rinoko says, rather business-like, but one can tell she's rather proud of that fact while she's still listening and watching intently. Her eyes scan from Mihoshi and Tsugumi once in a while, still rather nervous about all this but feeling better that they have backup at this point from someone of her cousin-clan that seems to have a lot more experience than she herself has.
When the woman goes into the spiel about how this seal works, the Rankoro woman takes mental note of every detail. In her Mind Palace, she flips open a book and writes all these details as they are given and makes other notes as well alongside them of the thoughts she has that might be ways to pull this sort of thing off.
"It's basically an equation of sorts, right?" she surmises as she looks over the seals a bit then between Tsugumi and Mihoshi again. "We just have to solve for all the pieces that are hidden… or we'll probably die from putting in the wrong values."
It has been established at this point that while Suzuha can be somewhat clueless about things, and distractible, as the gaps in her knowledge close and she grows more mature, there can be no doubt that she isn't stupid. And she isn't even that silly anymore either. But even so, what she's hearing discussed in the background is going way over her head. Glancing over her shoulder at the writing on the boulder that has appeared from nowhere, she can't decypher any of it with her Sharingan. Not that she expected to. 'Reading seal formulas' isn't one of her Kekkei Genkai's many powers, after all.
She meant what she told Miyo about being instructed in the basics at least though. This is an area of jutsu knowledge she feels it would be a bad idea to neglect. And while she'd like to join Nonon in lessons from Rinoko, Rinoko's focus seems to be her paper techniques and sheer diversity through her Clan's unique skill set, rather than seals as a whole. Maybe she can't learn Uzumaki-specific techniques… But more of the basics are likely to be learned from a specialist in fuinjutsu, right?
…Then again she barely even knows Miyo, and she is pretty close with Rinoko. Someone claiming to be her mom's friend from years ago isn't as much of a trustworthy tutor in her opinion.
"Be sure to teach Rinoko-san everything you know, okay, Mihoshi-sama?" Suzu teases lightly before focusing back on the forest, and keeping track of Nonon and Saori up in the trees. Just incase someone were to stealth in and take them out or something bad like that. But with Aru's Byakugan, they'd probably know about someone like that long before they could make their move.
Nonon looks across to Saori in a different tree inbetween scanning the forest below and around, and checking on her allies periodically. All she has is her training and her senses, so she has little she can offer in terms of enemy detection except listening for the sound of movement in the underbrush, etc. And while she may detect animals producing exactly that at times, it seems that, for now at least, there are no human adversaries. She can overhear some of the conversation about seals and it sounds reallllly interesting. She needs to get back to studying with Rinoko soon, now that she has completed her training to push her speed to the next level. It might serve as a gateway to establishing what type of sensory abilities she can best contribute to the team. She has one hand on her tool pouch, incase she needs to draw a weapon, but for the most part… She just waits and watches.
Saori has less sensory ability than Aru or Suzu or Tsugumi or Rinoko, that's for sure. It hasn't been a focus of her training despite her attempts to sharpen her senses now. She was told to work on making up for her lack of the basics before doing anything else. After that, Medical Ninjutsu. She has served as a mentor of sorts for Rinoko. That made her feel… Nice. Like a contributing member. But it seemed the instruction she gave was mostly unnecessary, and all Rinoko needed was a demonstration.
Did she push too hard in trying to explain? In trying to get the opportunity to explain? Rinoko is a Chuunin. Surely she's smart enough to figure things out without a bunch of words. And Saori isn't a good speaker anyway.
But now, as she leaves herself open to sudden surges of Chakra, she keeps her red eyes on Rinoko and the other older ninja down below, looking towards Nonon once when she feels attention upon her, bobs her head in greeting, and then returns to observing the seal techniques being displayed. Interesting stuff.
The Chakra being used suddenly nearby ALMOST makes Aru broaden the 'cone' of her Byakugan to encompass it as well, but she fights off that impulse as much as she fights off the impulse to turn her head and watch directly. She just keeps emitting her Chakra directly ahead, sweeping it over the forest all around through minute head movements, rather than full turns. Like Suzu, this is all unfamiliar language to her. She can't even perform Change in Chakra Nature, so writing a Chakra Nature into symbolic form and using it sounds like something so complex it would make her head hurt.
"If you can do it more quickly, whatever you do, that might be best. I can't maintain my Byakugan forever." she grumps a bit. "…With all due respect."
At Rinoko's and Tsugumi's questions, Mihoshi smirks, the smiles lines on her face showing as a result. "Hmph! Don't understimate my decades of experience." Then she says, "Rankoro-san. Prepare one seal tag each for the basic five Elemental Chakra Natures and then prepare to throw them into the area and activate them. You'll need to channel your Chakra to them continuously." Mihoshi seems to just assume Rinoko will do so, because she holds up her free hand and points it behind her, back towards the forest, preparing for some other jutsu.
At Suzu's quip and Aru's complaint, Mihoshi says, "Keep your panties on. I wasn't sent to train anyone, and we'll be in before you know it." Once Rinoko has taken care of the necessary preparations, Mihoshi looks to the Rankoro and says, "Now." The moment the seals have been tossed up, more seal formula appear from the Uzumaki's hand… Written seemingly on the air itself. Each tag is encircled with more of these symbols and suspended in place.
Then, once a link is established with each seal, using the Chakra Natures already imbued into them to manifest the proper effects without needing Rinoko to try something as ridiculous as using five chakra natures simultaneously, Mihoshi prepares to break the barrier. "Watch and learn, girls." She takes in a breath, and then lets out a short, fierce yell as she starts converting her abundant reserves of Stamina via her Uzumaki heritage into huge amounts of Chakra and then…
Well, it's hard to tell what exactly she's doing for those who can neither see Chakra nor recognize seals. But for those able to do either of those, they'd see something amazing as Rinoko's seal tags rapidly flicker different colors and spectrums of light in different orders and different sequences. The Yin and Yang tags on the boulder itself provide light or dark-colored Chakra that tints the seals in the air different hues or activates them in different ways.
It's a colossal, continuous drain on Rinoko's resources to keep her seal tags active while this is happening, but most of the burden is being shouldered by Mihoshi as she, apparently, attempts to run through every single different possible seal configuration until she finds the password, by reproducing the formula for the barrier and doing the experiments on that instead of the barrier itself, thus avoiding setting off any traps.
And it's then, as that takes place, that the presence of enemies might be noticed as they, in their surprise, make the mistake of moving. They're using some sort of camouflage jutsu to mask their Chakra and their appearances. But the sound of their movements combined with visual indicators of them distorting the air as they move should tip off those with jutsu and eye power alike that they aren't alone.
Rinoko grins slightly at Mihoshi's confidence. She hopes one day to have that kind of faith in her own skills with seals. A brief glance would be cast over at Suzu as she makes her comment before Rinoko's gaze turns back to the Uzumaki as she gives her instructions. "Hai!"
The Rankoro woman brings her hands into a seal then, focusing chakra and causing her body to begin to be covered in a seal pattern. Of course, should those with dojutsu look at her, it's not only the seals. Her entire body is alight with chakra to fuel her Ninjutsu for this act.
Once that transformation is complete, five pieces of paper rise from Rinoko's body, specifically from her arms, and float mid-air as Mihoshi ordered. She begins to push as much chakra as she needs to through them to power whatever it is that Mihoshi is doing, an intense look of focus in her eyes as she does so. There is, indeed, a serious drain to her chakra resources from this, but there's no way she's going to be falter and let the team down.
Suzuha accepts the chastisement for suggesting Mihoshi do charity work, but hopes they can convince her to teach Rinoko anyway. Rinoko is amazing, but she can always become more amazing, right? The huge amount of Chakra being put out by Mihoshi and the also-considerable amount being produced by Rinoko have Suzu taking her eyes off the forest due to the sheer electric feelings on her skin. She can see the various colors of Chakra flickering rapidly, on and off, in ways and in hues she has never even seen before. She didn't even know that Chakra CAME in some of these colors. Looking at Mihoshi… Is a bit like looking at Tatsuo-kun. A Jinchuuriki without a tailed beast.
C-can the Uzumaki really be as amazing as this, or is it just Mihoshi? Either way, she's impressed. She's also impressed that Rinoko is keeping up with her.
Suzu drags her eyes off of the two of them and back onto the forest, just in time to notice a visual discrepency. A distortion in the air. She isn't sure what she's looking at initially, but she realizes it's not normal. She mutters out of the corner of her mouth, "We have company. Five o' clock, six o' clock… Eight o' clock. That's all the ones I can see. Some kind of camouflage. I can't even see their Chakra."
She doesn't draw a weapon so they don't know they've been spotted, and she keeps scanning the forest both to mislead them and to try to spot any others.
Nonon doesn't have the degree of chakra sensitivity necessary to feel all that, but the light show and the fact that Mihoshi just wrote seals ON THE AIR is enough to ALMOST make Nonon whistle. But she catches herself. Making a noise like that would betray her position. And it's a good thing she held off, because she picks up the sound of movement that she'd been listening so intently to. It's muffled, almost completely absent. When she looks, she sees a slight distortion in the air, a displacement of the environment, but she can't feel anything from them. She can't smell them either, though she isn't exactly renowned for her smelling skills.
Unlike Suzu, she is out of sight, so she retrieves a pair of kunai from her tool pouch and prepares to use it. It would be best to get them to expose themselves further… A kunai bomb might go a good ways towards that, but she hasn't finished learning how to use seals from Rinoko, so she doesn't actually have any on-hand. Curses!
Even so, if she attacks now, she could just drive them back into hiding. What she needs to do right now is find a way to count exactly how many watchers they're dealing with… And maybe, to find a way to mark them.
She looks across to Saori to check if the medic has detected them too, and then starts kneading Chakra into her kunai. If they can't detect the Chakra of the enemies, maybe they'll be able to detect Nonon's.
She takes her kunai and cuts her own palms, marking the blades with her blood and then infusing the blood with Chakra thanks to her OTHER recent training… Change in Chakra Shape training.
She'll protect Rinoko and Mihoshi, so they can do their part, while the Namikaze ninja does hers.
Saori's senses aren't very developed… But they're developed enough to sense the powerful surge of Chakra from over by the cave, even if she wasn't looking directly at them. Her eyes widen. 'Interesting stuff' is now a gross understatement. To be able to do all this? To use Elemental Calligraphy written by someone else in this way, without even knowing how to use Elemental Calligraphy? Saori can see now why Uzumaki Mihoshi was selected for this mission. And she assumes that Mihoshi is… Breaking the password on the barrier by trying every single possible combination and iteration.
That's… Saori isn't sure she has words to describe it. 'Amazing' doesn't do that kind of skill justice. She finds herself agreeing with Suzu's prior request. Someone like that teaching one of their team captains could be a huge boon to the team. With Rinoko also learning medical ninjutsu, the Chuunin could be their most versatile member.
Saori doesn't realize what's going on, but the sound of flesh being cut, oddly enough, and as quiet as it is, is what draws her attention towards Nonon and what she's doing.
And what her team mate is doing is… …What is she doing? Is she trying to get medical instruction from Saori too? Like Rinoko did when she cut her palms?
Silly Nonon, this isn't the time to make Saori demonstrate healing jutsu!
And so she remains unaware of the approaching danger for now.
Aru is as taken aback by the large volume of Chakra as everyone else, to say nothing of all the different Chakra types. Some of those combinations of Yin and Yang being applied to various Elements she's fairly certain would result in an Advanced Chakra Nature if any of them had the Kekkei Genkai allowing for combining the base elements or even the altered elements.
But even if a cold sweat has broken out on her skin from the huge Chakra signature blasting her mind, a raging firestorm coming from Mihoshi and a slightly lesser but still incredibly bright blaze flickering out through Rinoko's skin (at least to Aru's eyes), she still manages to take note of the visual distortions. She looks in the directions Suzu indicates, and then scans for similar distortions by penetrating through the trees herself. Pushing her vision to see things on the other side of solid obstacles… And she finds four more groups, to 7 o' clock, 4… Then she broadens her range from a cone into more of a semi-circle… Another group at 9 o' clock… The veins on the sides of her face bulge as she grits her teeth… 2 o' clock… One eye twitches as she pushes herself to her very limits. But she can't spot anymore. 7 different shinobi or groups of shinobi. They're basically surrounded. And by very skilled enemies with an impressive stealth technique that even blocks sensor abilities.
The fact they were selected to try to counter a unit composed almost entirely of sensor-nin says a lot of worrying things. But right now, all Aru can do is warn her allies as subtly as she can, whispering her discoveries to them.
Mihoshi keeps focusing on her jutsu, ignoring Suzu's warning except to frown. She has her job, and the other kunoichi have theirs. "Keep up your concentration, Rankoro-san. I'm going to see if I can't speed up the pace before one of us runs out of Chakra." It's not hard to guess which one of them is likely to run out of Chakra first. But another pressing reason to finish is because, yeah, they're surrounded.
Tsugumi hears the warnings from Suzu and Aru, but doesn't react at all. She just keeps watching them. But she turns a little bit so her back is to the forest, and whispers out, "Suzu, Aru, make sure you stay pressed up against the cliff side as much as possible if I say 'now'. I may have to use a very large-scale attack to pin the enemies down and force them out of concealment long enough to capture or eliminate them. Capture is preferable so we can extract intel, but do what you have to. I'll be relying on Nonon to get herself and Saori out of the way in time. And I'll need some time to build up the Chakra and gather enough water."
She REALLY needs to learn how to create water from Chakra in large amounts when they get back to the Village…
She starts forming hand seals. But then, from above and behind the group, atop the cliff, the one place that Aru wasn't able to look, a male voice calls down to them.
"My, my. Weaving signs are we? I can't let you do that." Then the pale-haired figure in the green mantle leaps down from above, the glare of the sun above turning him into a shadow as he descends upon them, and battle is joined.
TO BE CONTINUED…