Date: September 9, 2016
As strange and powerful shinobi emerge from the cave, Team 13 has to cope with fear, pain, and sacrifice.
"Bloom and Grow - Pt. 6"
Land of Fire
TWO DAYS BEFORE THE INCIDENT…
The cave that Team 13 came to unseal, either to retrieve the contents or destroy them, has been opened. And what they found inside is not what they were expecting. Not at all. Several powerful ninja have emerged, and the enemy they were facing up until now was taken out in the first moments of their appearance. Some of their team is injured, the dust is still settling, and the enemies in the woods all around them are at a loss as to what to do. Some of them have been crushed by boulders or falling trees as well.
There is a lot of Chakra radiating from the mysterious enemies. But who are they? What were they doing in that cave?
It looks as though, despite Rinoko's proximity to the cliff side, she and Mihoshi both receive some degree of protection from a pair of Water Clones of Tsugumi, gathered from all the water that Tsugumi was guiding to her location, who glomfed the two kunoichi in their watery arms and took some of the shrapnel for them. But whether that would have been sufficient to fully spare them is unknown. Tsugumi herself managed to land on the ground and then back flip several times before coming to a stop behind some trees. Because the place she initially landed was right in front of the newly opened cave entrance, and as has just been demonstrated, that's not a healthy place to be.
But what of the rest of the team? They have a moment to take stock of their situation as that line of silhouettes assembles outside the cave.
Rinoko nods as she memorizes that combination then blinks as seal work she hasn't seen before is done to her hands. It's an interesting feeling and theory that one can transfer a jutsu as such. Definitely a trick worth learning herself one day. She nods to the Uzuamki and then reaches out toward the barrier and uses the jutsu to unlock it.
And then Rinoko finds herself almost at the very forefront of the blast that annihilates the rock barrier once she's unlocked it, she suddenly finds herself very thankful for Tsugumi being able to create clones out of water. Since there's not really enough time for her to defend herself from the blast in any good fashion, at least the clone provides her with some cushion as she's blasted back into a tree.
"… Ow…" The librarian kunoichi winces as she groans a bit in pain and peers up toward the new assailants that have arrived and apparently the ones that caused the barrier to explode so violently. She quickly shoves herself back up to her feet and stands in front of the cave entrance while she tries to assess the situation and how they might most easily take the cave's contents and get them far enough away from these people that they can be safely transported back to Konoha.
Luckily her glasses are part of her transformation, or she'd basically be fighting blind at this point. What she sees with them, though, is pretty scary. A rather interesting collection of different shinobi that are either rogues from their respective villages or an alliance between said villages to strike at Konoha. Either way, this is not good…
Suzuha has no immediate answers on the status of the rest of the team, though her Sharingan picks up the Chakra radiating from the new arrivals, and then she manages to pick out Rinoko… Her mom… Nonon is over there and seems to be injured… She doesn't see Mihoshi… Aru… Where's Aru? Suzu scans the area for her, but doesn't immediately see her. That's two of them missing then. Suzu looks down at Saori, and then back to the cave, watching the enemy they were fighting until now with some kind of bone harpoon through his throat.
Suzu doesn't know who he is exactly, and she doesn't feel any real sympathy for him… But she doesn't want to watch him suffer either. As cold as she is becoming, she still has compassion. She'd rather he be finished off than drowning in his own blood like that. Whoever these people are… They don't look friendly.
And they're in the way. Suzu, recently healed from Saori's ninjutsu, is still a bit sore. But she picks up the spear that the enemy ninja impaled Suzu with so recently, and keeps it ready incase she needs to use it.
As the initial shock of their appearance wears off, Nonon becomes more aware of the pain in her leg, through adrenaline is still fuelling her. She can no longer stand in the knee-deep pools of water that have flooded the forest, and flops over onto the nearest patch of semi-dry land, wincing and gritting her teeth while she tries to put her knee back into the socket. She doesn't really know how to do that though. She glances over at Suzu and Saori, behind some trees, while trying to take cover herself. "Haa… Haa…" She holds her breath and lines up her leg, trying to remember the basics from when she's seen others do it. Then she crams the joints back together and can not help letting out a breathless noise of agony as sensation returns completely and awfully.
She supposes she should just be glad it wasn't broken.
There's stuff going on over there by the cave, but she needs a moment for the spots to vanish from her vision before trying to take a look. She also has to remain aware of the fact that there's a bunch of other ninja surrounding them in the woods, and that the new arrivals aren't the only ones they have to contend with.
Saori stays right where she is with Suzu, head practically buried thanks to the older kunoichi's protective embrace. She squirms free of that, at least, but makes no motion to leave her position until she knows it's safe to relocate. Then she sees Nonon trying to put her leg back into the socket, and wishes she could go over to help. But she also recognizes Nonon is a Chuunin and seems to have it under control. She'll heal her up properly when she has cover for doing so.
"Were we expecting there to be people in the cave?" Saori asks quietly while trying to get a better look at the area. Where's Aru? Aru was standing near the cave entrance too. She sees Rinoko… She sees Tsugumi… She doesn't see Mihoshi…
And she sees a line-up of fearsome ninja. But no Aru. Red eyes scan the area, and then she abandons Suzu's protection and attempts to leap up into the tree they're hiding behind without exposing her location. Maybe a better vantage point will aid her.
Lying somewhere in the underbush, Aru is unconscious and bleeding from the head. She was thrown far, and under cover. Without a second Byakugan, seeing through all the obstructions to find her may be difficult. Though following the trail of destroyed terrain and looking carefully may reveal Aru's body from Saori's position.
They should just be glad it's still light out. In the dark, it would be much harder to find her. Even so, Aru isn't moving or giving any indication she's going to wake up. The irony here is that even if she were wearing her forehead protector on her head, the rock hit her from a direction it wouldn't have protected her from. Maybe ninja should start wearing helmets.
Something to suggest if any of them ever make it back.
Mihoshi was thrown clear like the rest, though some of the damage was absorbed by the now-destroyed Water Clone. She emerges from the woods, darting back from wherever she was thrown, and coming up alongside Rinoko. "Actually, maybe this WOULD be a good time to retreat." she says as she puts a hand on the Rankoro's arm. "We've both used up a lot of Chakra, and the others have as well." The Uzumaki seems somewhat haggard from how much life force and Chakra she has expended, but still strong. Her Clan are really something.
Tsugumi, standing behind a tree until now, wants to tell Rinoko and Mihoshi to get behind cover. Instead, she steps out as well. One guy just got speared through the throat for speaking. She isn't about to yell out to them, even if the two other kunoichi aren't presently getting stabbed. Instead she moves up behind them slowly, trying to avoid drawing attention but get to where she can grab them and MOVE.
Meanwhile, the white-haired woman is the one who has apparently shot her own forearm bone and musculature into the throat of the dragoon like a harpoon. She looks coldly upon him and says, "This one didn't free us. I can kill him, right?"
The Hunter-Nin masked woman says, "Sure. I don't have Nuibari on me, so you can do the impaling for now." Nuibari? Isn't that one of the legendary swords of the Seven Swordsmen? The Sewing Needle? A sword so terrible that just USING it is considered a war crime in many nations due to the horrifying and agonizing way it kills people? A Hunter-Nin with that sword…
Something is tickling at Tsugumi's memory about a woman who wielded Nuibari…
The man in the Land of Hot Water tea ceremony robes, with spikey hair, and a thing moustache and small beard, and a bandanna, says, "Who cares who released us? Let's just kill them all and get out of here! I've got places to go, you know!"
The Kaguya woman watches the enemy ninja struggling and gurgling on her forearm harpoon for a little while, and then makes the harpoon produce bone spikes before tearing it out of him. It takes most of his neck with it, on its way back to the harness-wearing kunoichi. "I care, Kotatsu. I want to thank them. If they are skilled with Fuinjutsu, I also want to know the counter seal to keep us from being put away again. And if the one who unsealed us is Senju Tobiramako…" The Kaguya woman starts eating the dragoon's raw and bloody throat off her forearm harpoon. "…I want to kill her."
The killing intent that radiates from her makes day seem to turn to night. The warm air becomes cold on the skin of all present. As she scans her red eyes over the forest, searching for targets, the dozens of enemy ninja feel her eyes on them, and know that she is aware of EXACTLY where they are, camouflage jutsu or not.
Then she looks at Rinoko, Mihoshi, and the Uchiha coming up behind them.
Then the Senju-dressed man says, "Oiiii! Aren't you all forgetting that we were put here to guard those scrolls? We aren't going anywhere. And I'm definitely not letting you kill a Senju for your stupid revenge."
The Uchiha man standing nearby, red Sharignan glowing against the black background of the rest of his eyes, says, "You may have killed some Senju just by opening the cave so forcefully, Gato."
Gato seems to lurch to the side, wincing in dismay and sweat dropping, as he exclaims, "Seriously!? …Well, I guess we're in the Land of Fire, so it's not unthinkable…" He seems depressed. Then he claps his hands together and says, "Not to worry, Fudoshi! I'll just kill lots of Uchiha to make up for it!"
Then, as Senju Gato puts his hands on his hips and laughs, the Uchiha, arms folded across his armor, just stands there staring at him. Until suddenly he draws and slashes with a sword with such amazing swiftness that air currents whip outwards, slicing the ground. More amazing is that Gato draws his own sword and blocks just as quickly, creating a clash of force that blows the last of the dust away. It's revealed there are seven of these strange ninja. It also reveals anyone who wasn't behind cover.
The Uchiha says, "My name… Is Uchiha Fudou. You know that, scum."
Gato, grinning even as his blade clatters against Fudou's, says, "Ohhh? Why is your loincloth in a bunch, Fu-dou-shiiiii?" He takes his time to emphasize each syllable, until Fudou kicks him in the face and sends him staggering back. The force of the impact is so great it looks like Gato's face got torn off. But right before their eyes, his face starts repairing itself, the pieces floating back into place. "You wanna' fight, Uchiha filth!?"
A small, blue-haired girl who has thus far remained quiet, looks at those before her. She then raises a hand and points at Rinoko as she says, "That one."
The two shinobi about to come to blows cease their fighting, and look towards Rinoko.
The Kaguya woman looks Rinoko over from head to toe and then back up again. "You're certain, little star?" She is holding up her hands, fingers directed outwards on both of them.
The girl nods her head. "She unsealed the cave."
Then the Kaguya woman grins and says, "Then everyone else before me, except that one… Is dead meat." Then the tips of her fingers split open and she begins machinegun-firing finger bones into the forest, tearing through trees, bodies, and anything else in the way. Everyone except Rinoko and those who can get out of the way.
Rinoko's eyes remain firmly upon these people she apparently just let out of their cage, feeling rather foolish for doing so. Really, though, even Aru couldn't detect what was behind that seal, so there was no way for her to know. She seems to almost not know Mihoshi is even there as she comes up beside her, completely focused on the people of various nations before her.
These people seem strange, allies and yet enemies at the same time. Maybe they just pair up and brawl knowing who can and can't kill each other or something. When they start talking about who released them, her eyes widen a little as it now seems to be the case that she is their target.
…. And then it is confirmed. There is a hint in her eyes of a girl that once was so fearful, nervous, and awkward that she would have likely not been able to handle this situation and buckled under its weight…. But that girl is gone. She has been replaced by the Co-Captain who stands by Uchiha Tsugumi as the leader of Team 13B! With a fearsome look of determination, Rinoko pulls her arm from Mihoshi's grasp and shoves her chest to push her backward before slamming her hands upon the ground and erecting seal barriers all around that form a semi-sphere intended to cut these people and herself along with the bony appendages aimed at the group. "They won't harm me! RUN! NOW!"
Suzu is startled when Saori leaps up into the tree, wondering what she's doing, but it seems Saori is searching for something… Or someone? They DO have two missing team members… Then Suzuha spots Mihoshi coming running up to where Rinoko is. Okay, that's almost everyone… So WHERE is Aru? Suzu starts to get up, seeing her mom approaching Rinoko and Mihoshi. Are they going to fight against those crazy strong enemies?
She saw the painful-looking leg-fixing that Nonon did, and hopes she'll be good to run. A speedster that can't speed isn't the most useful team member.
Then she feels the wave of menace directed towards everyone, she feels her blood run cold. She has never felt such bloodlust and immediate intent to kill in her 17 yeas of life. Her breathing is ragged, terribly loud in her own ears as she remains half-standing, hand on the tree she is using as cover. She feels like, if she moves at all from this spot. She will die.
The enemy ninja all through the woods seem to feel the same way, based on what Suzu sees when she glances at the visible ones. They seem frozen in place, taking no action to defend their now-throatless ally. Just as Suzuha can take no action to defend her friends and team mates. Sweat is running down her face as though she'd just run a marathon.
A monster is over there. That's all she can think. Just like Saori, she can not see those ninja by the cave as people. They are MONSTERS. The white-haired one especially. She's never even heard of a power like that. Using one's own skeleton as a weapon? Clearly, Suzu hasn't had much dealings with Kirigakure to be unaware of that.
But that's lesss important right now. What's important is… Wait. She heard a name uttered. 'Uchiha Fudou?' she thinks to herself distractedly, her mind racing. Why is that… Familiar?
Before she can figure it out, she then hears what the little girl says. She points out one of their number. And the white-haired monster announces she is going to kill everyone else. Suzu tries to force herself to move. To run or at least leap up and grab Saori, or help Nonon, or get as many people out of here as possible… Aru? Where's Aru!?
But her legs won't budge. It's like her feet are glued to the ground. It's not until Rinoko yells for everyone to move that Suzu grits her teeth, eyes widening, trying to overcome her fear and RUN.
She manages to wobble and take a single step, her legs feeling like they weight a thousand pounds each. Then fire blazes in her mind, anger at her own powerlessness, and she gradually fights off the numbness, and starts moving. Moving. MOVE! RUN!
She's running. But she checks behind her occasionally as she does so. Terror or no, she isn't leaving without her team mates. She hasn't been seeking power to be a self-serving coward.
Nonon also breaks out in a sweat, and it has nothing to do with the pain she's enduring. She does look up as Saori hops into the trees, confused but realizing quickly that she's probably looking for Aru. Then she gets up and moves into position, handling the killing intent slightly better than Suzu, but only in so much as she can robotically move her body even if her mind feels like she's swimming through ice water just to salvage a cogent thought.
When she sees the barrage of bone bullets, and the barrier put in place to stop them, she says, "We can't leave you here, Rinoko-chan! They're crazy, and we don't know what they'll do to you! When you drop the barrier, get on my back and I'll run us out of here full speed!"
That may not gel with what Rinoko's planning, but it sounds more sensible than a last stand. Of course… They still have the problem of those scrolls. It's unlikely they're getting past the enemy and then back out. Not without extroardinary speed. Maybe, if Nonon could control her Kekkei Genkai better… She could blink in, seize the scrolls, and get back out. But instead, they should probably focus on destroying them.
But… What ARE these guards? They all have unusual eyes. And that isn't a doujutsu, because there's an Uchiha with a Sharingan there already and they have the same eyes as the others. And that Senju's face got torn off but then restored itself? AND they were inside that cave for HOW many years? Without food, water, or air? And the masked woman said they were 'dead' and thus don't sleep.
Was she speaking figuratively or literally? Too much information to process.
Her eyes turn back to Rinoko, trying to see if she heard and understands.
Saori can see a lot of things from her position. She can see the strange assortment of enemies. She can see Rinoko, Tsugumi, and Mihoshi assembled as three of their strongest and most experienced members, ready to face the enemy. She can see the enemy Jounin dying on the ground. She can see terrified shinobi throughout the woods, uncertain of what to do. She can see Aru's unmoving body.
And it's that last one that has Saori crouching and preparing to leap from the tree when that Killing Intent hits. Her legs lock up. Her body trembles. The little girl is, infact, so utterly terrified despite her usual calm composure, that, out of pure fear, and much to her shame, she wets herself.
Her face is utterly pale, and she feels like she's going to pass out.
.oO(Is this it? Is this how I'm going to die? Falling out of a tree unconscious, covered in my own pee? Waiting for the enemy to come kill me? Not knowing what they're doing to my friends? My mentors? My comrades?)
As profound as these thoughts are, they are in the back of her mind. She is watching her own trembling, frightened form as though she is an observer to her own twitching body. But when she hears the machinegun firing of bone fragments, and the sound of them impacting a barrier instead of tearing through her and the others, and Rinoko yelling for them to run, Saori manages to find the smallest gap in her fear, the tiniest hole, and lurch out of the tree. She falls and hits the ground on her side, her limbs limp, struggling to maintain control.
She looks in fear towards Suzu's retreating back, seeing the Uchiha looking towards her as she runs. And Suzu forces herself to crawl by pushing off the ground with one foot. Just a small movement. More like shuffling the dirt than crawling.
She tries to overcome her own fear, to exercise her will. To use her Medical Ninja training to restore control of her body. She didn't realize she was holding her breath until she feels her lungs burning, her whole self too numb before now. She takes small, frightened gasps of air, enough to avoid passing out, and then starts using her arms to help her.
It feels like it's taking an eternity. She's been lying here for hours in her mind, struggling to just get up onto her hands and knees. But it's only been seconds. Slowly, slowly, her thin, noodly, little-girl limbs work to get her into position. And she uses the nearest tree trunk to climb up onto her feet.
And from there, it's just a matter of doing like Nonon. Putting one foot in front of the other, not stopping. Ignoring the leaden weight of her own limbs, and pushing forward, pushing forward, PUSHING…!
Pushing until she finds hersel at Aru's side, looking down at the older kunoichi, and hoping she's not too late to get them both out of here alive.
Hyuga Aru knows nothing of what's happening. When Saori reaches her, she is lying in a pool of her own blood, mixing with the waters that Tsugumi was gathering for her jutsu before everything went wrong. In her deep unconsciousness, even the menacing killing intent of the Kaguya monster does not touch her. But if it had, she'd probably have much the same reaction as Saori. She hasn't known a murderous desire like this ever. Maybe Rinoko is unaffected because she has more experience. Maybe Mihoshi and Tsugumi can fight it off the same way, or through willpower.
But Aru, Suzu, Saori… They're all just Genin. Even Nonon is probably not quite as strong willed as the three eldest kunoichi present. But they have to do something, don't they?
But Aru can do nothing. All she can do is lie there and bleed, and not get in the way of efforts to save her. If any are made, at least.
Tsugumi and Mihoshi are not unaffected by the killing intent. Tsugumi feels is like clawing skeleton hands on her skin, trying to strangle her. It's definitely one of the more intense murderous auras she's felt in her career, but she does not let it suppress her ability to act. More disturbing to her is the fact that she has identified at least two of the ninja before her.
And both of them should be dead.
"Rinoko…" Tsugumi begins as her co-captain puts up a barrier to protect everyone. The rapid-fire bullets slam into the barrier, ricohetting off of it even and trapping the strange enemies and Rinoko as well in a seal barrier cage of sorts where the Kaguya's attacks are tearing them apart. If Rinoko is quick to put up a second barrier while inside her own barrier, she can spare herself most of the damage and maybe get hit once or twice, if that. But those bullets hit hard if they hit her at all.
Only Kotatsu seems to be making any effort to dodge, yelling and cursing the entire time, as all of his allies get punched full of holes. The shattered cliff face behind them, the cave interior, the ground, all of it keeps being shredded alongside the ninja. And they don't even move.
Eventually, the Kaguya woman stops shooting and frowns. Her bloodlust is easing off as she becomes disappointed with the lack of corpses. "That's no good. Maybe I'll kill her after all. We can just use the jutsu on that scroll to bring her back and force her obedience."
Kotatsu finally gets to his feet, brushing himself off and says, "BAAAAAAKA! Since when are you a Ninjutsu expert? You couldn't perform a summoning jutsu to save your life!"
Gato calls out as the holes in him start closing up, "Who are you calling 'baka'? You just spent half a minute dodging attacks that can't kill you! And Narui is already dead too, so her life CAN'T depend on it! Baka!"
Kotatsu sweats a bit. "Tch! It's the principle of the thing! I'm not letting some blood-sucking Kaguya put her finger bones in me! And shut up! If she can't master the ninjutsu because her life can't depend on it, then what I said is still correct!"
The blue-haired girl stares dispassionately, but then forms a non-standard hand seal, and intones, "Secret Technique: Demonic Mirroring Ice Crystals." Suddenly a sheet of smooth, reflective ice start to form directly behind the girl who is apparently a member of the Shirayuki Clan.
Mihoshi, shoved back by Rinoko to make sure she wasn't trapped in that hail of death within the barrier, but not willing to run off when she can still do something, takes note of the exotic jutsu being used by the Shirayuki. The cantankerous red-head says, "I think instead of leaving you behind…" She begins performing hand seals, molding Chakra in large amounts, more than probably was expected for her to have left at this point. It's that Uzumaki stamina. "…We should work together to seal them away for good!"
Then she begins intones, "Sealing Technique: Boundary Of God!" Then she raises her hand and aims her palm towards the undead shinobi, as seal marks start spreading across hr skin, glowing brightly.
Tsugumi's words to Rinoko trailed off when she saw that Uchiha. He's looking at her. And she's looking at him. She knows that, as a Jounin, she should be focusing on the mission. She should be preparing to get everyone out of here, and, if possible, to complete her mission. But that man over there is…
"…Grandfather?" Tsugumi asks.
And then something frigid and sharp races down out of the sky, and the Shirayuki girl is already gone from within the barrier. She stepped backwards into her ice mirror. And she has just come down out of a second ice mirror above, and cut off Mihoshi's arm with a blade of ice.
As the limb spins in the air, the Sealing Jutsu fading away instead of being projected towards the Reanimated Shinobi, Mihoshi reels back in pain, eyes locked on the ninja that attacked her.
Tsugumi reaches out, trying to seize Mihoshi by her clothing and yank her back out of range.
Thankfully, just then, a timely distraction. All those ninja who came here to claim the scrolls stop standing around and attack. Shuriken fly, fireballs and lightning bolts are launched, explosive tags rain down on the cave (and Rinoko's barrier, unfortunately). There is a chance, here, for all of them to run away. But how long will they really last? Will they last long enough for all of Team 13 to escape? If they can bypass seal barriers like that, then how long can even a seal specialist hold them? It's a hectic situation. And spot decisions must be made. Tsugumi had to sacrifice the only man she ever loved to prevent a traitor's escape. She can't handle sacrificing her girl friend so that she and others can escape. Not so soon after Ken. Not ever again. And yet, her duty says she might have to.
That lethal ice kenjutsu kunoichi stops pursuing Mihoshi and Tsugumi, instead putting up ice barriers to block the attacks of those in the woods, leaping from seemingly-indestructible mirror to seemingly-indestructible mirror so fast that she can't even be seen. Slashing ninja's throats, cutting them apart, freezing them solid with ice breath… She's a one-woman slaughter machine, and as Tsugumi finally makes the decision, staring teary-eyed at Rinoko, gritting her teeth, reaching out a hand, wanting to just… Touch her and let her know she's not abandoning her co-captain…
She turns and yells at Nonon, "WE'RE LEAVING, LET'S GO!" as she runs towards Saori, scoops up Aru under her other arm, and starts running. Mihoshi, even one-armed, even watching the death all around them, pauses long enough to call out to Rinoko, "We're coming back for you! You hear me? So don't give them anything! If you need to escape before we can come for you… Take my hand."
Then she turns and runs as well.
TO BE CONTINUED…