Date: September 19, 2010
'Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.'
Poster's note: Profanity filtered in obvious places.
"Broken Memories Pt. 2 - The Dark Path"
The siege is over. That is what everyone thought. Or at least, what everyone hoped for. Those thoughts and hopes have been dashed against the jagged shores of cruel reality now. The bandits are dead and gone. The mercenaries have withdrawn as well, leaving behind trapped siege weapons and equipment. But though the desert was littered with corpses, there was at least no more fighting to be seen. Until a report of a >disturbance< at the remains of what was once a mountain turned into a massive earth giant reaches the ears of Itami and any other Council Members in the area. But as Itami rushes to investigate, and potentially stop whoever it is from doing anything troublesome, that's when things get ugly.
A wave of green light, not unlike the one that engulfed Sunagakure when the giant was slain by Sousa, just before he was placed into a coma, emanates from a gemstone in the raised hand of a very tall masked man. The shattered mountain begins to reform itself, taking on the shape of a titanic stone serpent. This serpent then slithers across the desert, >eating< the corpses that lie all about on the sand outside of Sunagakure, and then… The corpses emerge from the side of the serpent as animated dead. Animated dead that were both friends and enemies in life, and yet are unified in death in a single goal: To tear down the Sand Village and all that lie within.
Amuro calls out as the Stone of Body pulses in his grasp, "I am the next 'Savior of this World'!" His voice echoes over the desert, even as the call to arms is sounded within the Village.
Meanwhile, in a certain examination room, Takumi and two medical assistants >were< performing an autopsy on the late 'Goro' -- an unknown but skilled fighter who managed to get himself captured, apparently on purpose, and then take down the Kazekage with some form of Jutsu. That is what >was< happening. But after making a deal with Death himself… Itself… Well, >herself< right now. But anyway, such a deal was struck, and Sousa has passed along a message to the coroner and crew by carving the word 'resuscitate' in Goro's chest with a scalpel. As a ghost.
Let's hope they understand and follow this message.
A Konoha ANBU is on her way to Sunagakure, and will likely be just in time to see the horrifying vision of the dead rising and marching on a Hidden Village. Imota and Meimei were near the Village Entrance when the alarm is sounded. Meimei has run off to do something supporting for her current Village of residence, leaving Imota to rush to aid Itami or the others. He had seen the remains of the giant. An entire mountain, broken down and remade into a weapon. It was 'dead'. But not anymore, apparently. Is such power really something that exists? Even with Earth Release, is that really possible? Apparently it was. And apparently it gets worse.
All over Sunagakure, word that trouble is brewing should be spreading like wildfire. Nervous, shell-shocked citizens and surviving soldiers and ninja all feel anxiousness building inside of them. When will it be over? When can they live in peace?
And somewhere else entirely, an aurora borealis has formed in the desert's sky. It has been at least a month since something like this was last seen. But now it has appeared again. And with it… Four people and one cat will emerge from seemingly thin air. Worse for wear, perhaps tired, but still alive and, most importantly, home again. But while it has only been two days for these four, it has been more than a month for everyone else since Team 01 went missing. Changes have been wrought in their absence. Very unpleasant ones…
Itami feels like this is strike three. Everything she's done up to this point felt like it was done for naught and now she's trapped out here with a giant stone snake, the walking dead, and the 'Savior of the World'. She almost grew a bit hopeful for a few moments, she can admit. Seeing a stone snake eating up all those corpses would have definitely helped out with the efforts, however, once it began spitting them out 'lively' as ever, her hopes crashed just that quickly.
With all her focus on these things alone, she doesn't notice what else is going on around her. At least, not with a direct focus. She sees the aurora, but doesn't take note of what they could mean, possibly thinking them a result of all this activity. The last thing on her mind is to be awed by the aurora, but she was curious about that flash of green light that she's just recovered from.
It's difficult to think when her mind is running faster than she can process her thoughts. There's so, no too many targets out here, some of which were her comrades at one point, but now are enemies. There's the snake, the Savior, and these dead people. All of them equally dangerous. She thinks to start on the dead. Nothing screams burning detail now more than walking dead, so she first begins by making seals to summon the wind to stop those advancing in their tracks. It wouldn't cover all the dead, but at least a decent portion. She uses this a couple more times to cover more gound and then starts by sending a barrage of fireballs after them to burn the corpses up front. If she knows the dead well enough, they'll keep walking and perhaps might go in contact with the fire. If not, then this'll make the job that much more harder.
Bundled up against the killing cold of constant winter, Rurohashi Ruri approaches the spot where she and the others had emerged into this warped place two days ago. Much had happened since then. It felt like she had seen and experienced enough to last a life-time. But now they got to go home. Team Sheex had one of the Dark Triad in their custody, and she had determined how and why the barrier between realities was made permeable originally. An experiment of hers that had unexpected side-effects. She was able to recreate the process, luckily, since the experimental device had been on her person, rather than back at the Facility. The leather and fur keep her warm, mostly. But the cold is so intense it reaches down to her bones regardless. It's almost like the cold is more than just the absence of heat… Like it's some insidious force trying to destroy her will to continue living.
But they'll be home soon. And then it will be over. She looks towards her sister briefly with her left eye -- the only eye she has. Then she quickly refocuses on Shemri, Shiikaa, and Kara. All here. All ready. "Let's go." she says, then she steps into the shimmering air before her, here in the Land of Winter, and though it takes effectively NO time to get from this world back to their own, it still seems for a moment that she is hanging suspended between planes, as though all of eternity is being compressed into a single moment, and she gets to experience it without being aware she is doing it.
Then she passes out the other side, and is greeted with the chill but FAR warmer air of the Land of Wind near the dimensional breach. It's a bit like being hit in the face with a fireball. She takes a moment only to crouch and look around carefully, trying to identify whether this is really their world or not. It looks just like they left it. A desert, with the Northern Lights high above. No more snow, no more trees, no more dopplegangers, and (THANK THE LORD) NO more UNDEAD.
Ruri sighs and rises to her feet, making sure everyone else passed through safely as well. If so, she begins stripping off all the extra layers before it gets REALLY warm. Winter wear is not suitable for desert travel. Good thing she thought far enough ahead to wear her normal clothing underneath. But still, her flesh is cold. The desert will be such a bitch to get used to again.
Rurohashi Rinako's mind has been on nothing but getting her baby sister and her friends home the entire time they'd been gone, and now that was finally going to happen! And yet she couldn't help but feel that they were leaving things only half-finished on this world. After taking a few moments to make sure the other version of her sibling was on the mend from her broken bones and wishing her and the others a farewell, she follows her real sister through the strange between-world space back to their own time, world, dimension, or whatever. Temporal physics gave her a headache.
Emerging from the strange skylights out into the bright desert sand and sun is just as disorienting for the elder Rurohashi twin as the original trip had been. Especially considering that they had just been traveling through a snow-encrusted landscape. Before her dark brown eyes even land on the horizon, she's already shedding her outer top layers, discarding her heavy cloak, coat, and thick, long-sleeved outer shirt, leaving only a thin, long-sleeved undershirt to remain. It was dark brown in color, for absorbing as much sunlight as could be had in a frozen, dead world for warmth. Under the blistering Suna sun, it was very unpleasant to wear, to say the least, as everything about it's design was made to hold in heat.
Leaving the excess clothing where it lies, Rinako tears off her leg warmers, wishing for her pair of open-toed sandals once more, before focusing her eyes not on the others, but towards the horizon, trying to get her bearings. For a non-native of the desert, one sand dune tended to look just like any other, and they always shifted, changing the terrain. But the natives had a few tricks, such as guiding by known rock formations which were sometimes visible above the sand. Her brown eyes squint in the direction she assumed her village to be in, but heat and shimmering sand make it next to impossible to tell for sure.
"Ugh, never thought I'd miss the snow." She tugs idly at several parts of her clinging shirt, already starting to grow damp with sweat. "I'm not looking forward to trying to pass off this mission report as believable. Is… something really big moving over there?"
Putting up both hands, Rinako shields her eyes from the sun, but no one had ever accused her of having the most acute vision, and with the tricks the terrain could play on the eyes, a large dust-cloud being kicked up in the distance could be just about anything!
In the examination room, Takumi and his assistants stare at the carved message on the corpse. This is the second instance of words written in flesh during the examination, and the medic-nin is instantly suspicious, as this could be some sort of trap jutsu. Floating scalpels are not a typical jutsu, and Takumi worries he might be under a genjutsu triggered by seeing the kanji on the brain.
Taking a kunai out of his waist pouch, Takumi makes a small cut on his arm. Things seem real enough, and he quickly runs his palm over the wound, stopping the bleeding and sealing the cut. He turns to his assistants and gives them directions, "Alright, I'm not sure what is doing this, but I think we should prepare, and then attempt it." Takumi points to one assistant and says, "You, go out and notify a guard or two, in the event that this is a trap of some sort." He then points to the other, "You, come over here and begin the resuscitation."
As the assistant moves next to the corpse, Takumi backs up and holds his kunai at the ready, wind chakra flowing over it's surface, ready to slice any hostile entity that pops up. At this time, the assistant makes a few hand seals and then places her hands on the corpse's chest, yelling out "Clear!" before sending a jolt of electricity through the body.
Tsubasa had been inside the village when this started occuring. He had been asleep in his own home overlooking the center of Sunagakure. The rest of the seishukuni had also taken time to rest after their initial set up period for restoration operations. They had stayed up for almost two days in order to ensure everything was being taken care of and that the things they couldn't do at least had the appearance of being worked on. All to calm the people who lived here after the initial problems. All of that work, shot to hell, in a few minutes of activity.
The mountain had began groaning and that was the catalyst to start waking people from their sleep. If there was any doubt after that, the flash of green light that radiated through the village tore the rest of them from their beds. Tsubasa had stumbled to the window just in time to see an aurora in the sky and the giant snake weaving through the desert before the village. It was not normal and while he may have wanted to rush out into the fight, there were larger concerns. The people inside were getting antsy again, their fears taking over and rioting began. It wasn't so much rioting as people just trying to survive, people who were genuinely fearful for their lives.
Immediately, the seishukuni set out to quell any rioters, trying their best to reassure the people and keep the peace, but it wasn't effective. At the end of the day, they had simply barracaded themselves inside their respective buildings and locked the doors. Guards were keeping people out entirely instead of keeping trouble makers out. These bastions of crystal that had once been a sign of hope were now closed to all, no one was allowed in. The rioting was only getting worse and despite their attempts, it didn't show signs of tapering off.
however, Tsubasa was a shinobi of this village and he had a deep rooted duty to help save it. So while he left the council in charge and gave his chief of security Jinto one final order, Tsubasa was on his way to the battle field.
Now, he was standing outside the gates, the desert sand greeting him and the snake and the undead being his obstacles. Well, no turning back now for this nin and off he goes, making his way steadily to the battle field. This was going to be so much fun, he could just tell that it'd be a story to tell kids for ages and something to laugh at, oh yes it would.
While the medical staff are trying, for reasons that perplex even them, to bring life back into the mangled corpse, Sousa's spirit is scribbling fiercely in his scroll. "How did life first begin? Where is the center of the universe? How many roads must a man walk?" As Goro's body spasms under the shock treatment, Sousa feels something. It's as though gravity let go briefly, and he became weightless, even having a negative weight. Aha, it's working. Sousa isn't being pulled by gravity, he's being pulled by his link to Goro, and the ground isn't ground, it's the barrier between this life and…whatever lies beyond it, Sousa can't quite tell even from here. Fortunately, there's another force pulling Sousa back toward his body, the vitality that still ties him to it, and the attempts to resuscitate Goro, as useless as they are for bringing /him/ back to life, are tugging his spirit back from the depths. With a regretful sigh, Sousa puts away his scroll. "I fear I must depart for the time being. I shall look forward to our next encounter, Death-san. And I won't forget our agreement, a one-piece handicap in the first game." With that, Sousa closes his eyes, concentrates on his connection with his body, and anticipates the timing of the next surge--
Sousa's eyes snap open. Sitting bolt upright in his hospital bed, he slams his hands together into a seal. "RELEASE!!!" Sousa's chakra churns within him, suddenly and violently. The strands which link Sousa's spirit with Goro's are twisted tightly back upon themselves. Sousa grits his teeth, willing the flow of chakra to continue unabated. Something inside snaps, just a tiny little thread, but it's soon followed by another, then a few more, then the whole gummy rope wrenches free and falls off. Sousa sits for a moment, gasping from the effort. Phew…that was certainly an adventure. -.-; Well, he's back now…and if all goes as Death expects, Sousa should have a couple years to study that game. Chess, was it? c.c
Well, unfortunately, now is probably not an ideal time to start in on that. There was something urgent going on when Sousa was first put into his coma, some sort of attack it seemed like. Sousa carefully pulls out whatever needles and such are stuck into him and hops off his bed. "Status?" he inquires of the guards, who no doubt came in to investigate his miraculous and noisy awakening. "Oh, and somebody go tell the staff in the dissection room they can stop trying to resuscitate the corpse now."
Raising from the ground was a body, alive and full of passion and strength. Koudo takes a look around, with intensity, and has to settle for a moment of thought. "Remarkable…Yet, this will not stand!" He looks at his colleague, whom had been on the battefield longer, taking the brunt of the attack, but now it was his turn to add some power to the mix. "Itami-sama…"
Who would have thought this would be an invasion on such a large scale. "They are all…Dead." An enraged flame sparks in his eye, and the temperature of his blood increases like molten lava, coursing through his veins. The seal on his forearm glows through, burning the bandages covering it, the flaming wings of the Phoenix burst from his back, a firey glow encompassing his body.
He charges through the field of undead, arms and shoulders knocking those in his path, and jumps, high like a flying kite the wings of the Phoenix to guide him, and starts his trajectory downwards. Power and strength building the whole way down, to hit the large elemental snake. Making a loud noise, he couldn't help but think about using this attack on the leader of the invasion, but that green light was mysterious, so he to reserve his chakra for someone like that. However, he had the audacity to fight the snake in the meanwhile, to stop it from eating their corpses, the disembodiment of their souls, the walking undead, they had no right to be at their gates.
Home. It's such a beautiful thought, even though they've only been away from it for a couple days. Even though it's almost the extreme opposite of the hostile environment they've been in. At least their own world doesn't have an unstoppable undead king trying to wipe them out. :P Although, Shemri also has the same feelings Rinako does about how they're leaving things in the other world. c.c What will happen to their doubles? What about that world's Megumi-chan and Fukanzen? Shemri doesn't know whether to hope they find a way to go back and help them or that the other world never comes into contact with theirs again. If the Dead King finds out what happened, odds are the latter won't remain whether they like it or not. c.c;
For the time being, though, the best they can do is go home and report their adventure…although it looks as though there may yet be another obstacle in their path! Shemri shields her eyes and gazes into the distance. "…It is like a snake…but far larger even than that krayt thing which tried to eat me that one time. Do you suppose they can grow that big?" c.c;
Hone Nai returned to his underground home. He returned and he sat in the dark and he thought about what had almost happened at the hospital. He had been planning to kill the Kazekage, and then disguise himself as Sousa, and thus take over the Village while everyone still thought he was the same one who had lead Sunagakure from its forming. And if not for the interruption of that nurse, it would have succeeded.
And since he WAS interrupted, he is now fairly bothered by why he thought doing that was a good idea in the first place. It was totally unlike him. Why would he want to control Sunagakure? Why? He just wants to be left alone. He does not want to be in charge. And yet he almost did it. So why?
These ponderings are interrupted when the ground begins to tremble. Again with the earthquakes? Rising slowly to his feet, Nai considers whether to stay where he is and wait for whatever it is to stop on its own, or whether to go out and investigate. His natural inclination is to stay put. But curiosity makes him abandon his natural tendencies. A short time later, the records keeper stands on the roof of one of the spire-like buildings of the Sand Village, looking out over the cliff walls. He can't see all of what's happening. But he can see enough to guess. The stone giant's remains are missing. Instead, there is a stone SERPENT. Also a giant, but not humanoid like its predecessor. And lots of the corpses that Nai had previously been walking amongst and scavenging from in his alternate identity are now shambling towards the Village. This will not do.
'There is room for only ONE like myself in this world,' Nai thinks as he takes off running towards a storage facility attached to the Administration Dome, where he knows certain dangerous artifacts and materials are kept. 'I will permit no others.' He does not know if this will work, but he knows what he is looking for. Hopefully, it will prove to be the solution to more than one problem. Arriving at the Administration Dome's outer wall, cracked by the earthquakes, he glances around to make sure no one is watching. Then he merges with the stone like it's made of liquid, and enters the Restricted Access Materials room…
It had been several day since Six left Konoha on a new mission to Sungakure. Little information had been given, just the very basic of orders. With those in mind, the Dragon faced Konoha-ANBU had had little idea what would truly be facing her on this day.
It started as an uneasy feeling several miles back. Light rumbling across the earth, birds flying en masse away from Sungakure. It's all that Six can help but notice as she peeks past the horizon. The hood on her head is pulled forward and her hands press together in a seal.
Spotting the giant earthen creature and all the zombies, Six tilts her head and quickens her pace, a razor sharp kunai being ripped from it's resting spot while she traverses the rest of the distance.
Amuro waits and watches as Itami approaches. She seems to be stopping to fight the zombies instead of approaching to engage him directly. Foolish. If she had tried to destroy the serpent, that would have made sense, since that is what is generating the zombies. But taking down the minions one at a time… Inefficient. Well, it is not as though Amuro was trying to obtain Itami's help for her >intelligence<. Koudo slams into the Corpse Soil Serpent with his firey attack, shattering a section of it… But compared to the miles and miles of bedrock and granite it is composed of, it is not a crippling injury. Directing the power of the Stone of Body, Amuro feels even >his< vast reserves of physical and spiritual energy starting to decrease at a rather rapid pace. He controlled the Titan and the Storm at the same time for many hours, and only started to weaken towards the end. But using the Stone directly, it can leech his stamina to feed itself. The power it can wield when being used directly is vast, but costly. And the corrupting whispers… They continue to caress Amuro's mind, and tell his deepest, darkest parts of his soul that he is doing the right thing.
He wants to deny the voices. He has heard them often enough before to know he cannot allow them to hold such influence over him. But all humans have a dark side. No matter how good one's intentions, there is always something wicked and selfish that will try to guide one's actions. 'Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.' Truer words were never spoken. All of this killing and destruction was for the sole purpose of obtaining a single person and the documentation pertinent to her existence. How had it come to this?
'Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.' Amuro channels more of his own energy into the Earth Stone, and it surges as the Stone Serpent ceases disgorging more zombies and simply rises up, arching its gargantuan form until it can likely be seen quite clearly from a very long distance away. For now, it is simply waiting as smoke rises from the scorched earth where Koudo struck, and zombies are flattened by Itami's wind and torched by her fireballs. They do not burn when they are damaged, but instead disperse into clouds of dust… Only to reform from the serpent's side. But with it no longer consuming new corpses, the number of enemies will at least remain static -- if one discounts the whole 'constant regurgitation' thing.
In the examination room, as Takumi and his assistants continue trying to resuscitate Goro's corpse, nothing happens. Until a guard comes rushing in. "Kazekage-sama had just woken up from his coma! He says you can stop trying to revive this…" He trails off and looks at the remains. "…That." Then he shakes his head and moves to leave, as the other guards stand by, just incase anything else weird happens. Which it does, as the room starts to shake, not unlike the previous earthquakes. Not as violent this time, but still a definite rumbling. Alarms can be heard even in the examination room. The attack isn't over!? Great. Well, time to find out what's going on.
Sousa's emergence from his coma causes a great deal of surprise and fuss, of course. But this is no time for paperwork. Though everyone clamors for orders, Kuoroke has been doing a good job of managing the Sunagakure armed forces while Sousa was out of commission. Now, though… Well, the Kazekage is awake! He'll be informed rather quickly of what has been going on and what is going on now. Summaries only. No time for details.
At the location of Team 01, the mammoth serpent is >very< visible. There used to be a mountain to the north somewhere. It's not there anymore. Instead there's this snake thing. That's not good. A long run to get back to the Village, but perhaps there is a faster way…
There are plenty of zombies to go around as Six moves closer, in preparation to assist in combat. They may be weak, but they are also numerous, and the living eventually tire. It only takes one slip-up to be swarmed by the undead and torn to pieces. But she is not a normal ninja. And her Byakugan would be showing her quite clearly that the vast amount of Chakra in the Corpse Soil Serpent is exceeded only by the Chakra of the one controlling it. It's like looking at a Tailed Beast in human form. That man with the stone… Who the hell is he!? And what is that glowing green stone he is wielding…? Is that the one that certain top-secret reports indicated Akuu Goh had recovered from the Tower that appeared in the Land of Fire? Would Six even know about that Stone? Either way, something needs to be done.
Tsubasa's arrival on the battlefield, just like with everyone else's, is not met with any fanfare or applause. Anyone who is not a combatant got out of there long ago. Now there is only the fight for survival against friends and enemies who were once living, breathing people, with hopes, and dreams, and >souls<. Now? Now they are sightless, mindless, and hostile to the living -- regardless of whose side they belonged to originally. Unified in death. They all walk the same path to destruction together. And Tsubasa is in their way. More than a few lurch their way towards him, trying to surround and then attack him. They show no coordination or tactics, nor any special intelligence. But they also show no fear and no hesitance. They know no pain.
Nai's entrance into the Restricted Access Materials Storage goes off without a hitch. Can anyone do this? No. Most people would have set off a dozen alarms by now. But Nai >knows< this place. He likely has read the records of every defense system planned and implemented for this part of the Dome. And thus he enters, bypassing the Seals and alert systems, and finds himself in a long, dark room, full of shelves and crates and boxes and weapon racks, and more. What he wants is in here somewhere. He just has to find it.
Kara emerges from the frozen wastelands along with the others. She was just getting use to the whole 'wearing real clothes' thing. Really! No more bandage bikinis for her! And no more alternate worlds for that matter either. She was concerned about the other world, of course, but her alternate self disturbed her greatly. She was ruthless, cold, and would likely have killed Kara without flinching if she thought it would help take down the Dead King.
But she's home now, and hopefully if they ever go back there it will be with some support and some WMDs. Once on the other side, however, she immediately remembers why she prefers not to wear much normally. She practically tears off all the extra layers and then huffs and puffs at the sudden increase in heat. "This is lame," she complains. The dust in the distance is ignored until Rinako and Shemri point it out. Then Kara pays attention. Just in time to see the massive serpent rise up and arch its back like a cobra ready to strike. "…Uh." That's about it in terms of intelligent responses from her.
"…We need to get back to the Village. Right now." She unloads her Puppet's scroll, Pharaoh, from her back harness and makes him appear in a cloud of smoke. Then he immediately spits out what appears to be an origami boat, made of papyrus. The boat expands into a real boat, Ancient Egyptian style, which floats in the air. Kara leaps on, along with her mummified Puppet. "Everyone on, please! We should hurry!" Assuming all do as asked, they are soon flying towards Sunagakure much faster than they could have run. It costs Chakra, sure, but better that than arrive to find everyone dead.
Itami watches as Koudo goes on the offensive with her. She would have responded to his words earlier if she wasn't too busy trying to fight against these corpses. She thought them important. Sure, there was the serpent and the Savior, but she began to think of what the corpses could bring to Sunagakure. The last thing they needed in all of this were disease ridden bodies wandering into the city. They already had jackals and who knows what else trying to come around. Though, maybe they wouldn't have to deal with that as it seems that the corpses were…turned to dust?
She thought she was going to see burning masses, but the way they disappeared was odd at best. She didn't use a particularly powerful attack enough to incinerate them. A creeping feeling runs up her spine when the dust starts to turn a bit dark. Her eyes are cast up at the monstrosity looming over the field. The corpses are gone, but they're being remade and spit back out onto the field. She at least knows how it works, now. She wasn't aware the corpses would be reformed rather than lie in the field and burn.
With this knowledge, she begins to make handseals to prepare to attack. Since the head of the snake is the part raising over the field, she plans to fire at it. The head is where the intelligence lies, after all. After completing the handseals for the attack, blades of wind begin to rain down to slice up the head and perhaps even the figure standing atop it. Already she was beginning to grow tired and she hadn't been out here that long. She was going to need to recover after this one.
Ruri stares at the serpent long and hard. She doesn't remember that being there. If it's not one thing, it's another. "…Okay, yeah. Let's get back to the Village. The report can come later, Nee-chan. Looks like something thought you being gone meant it'd have a clear shot at our home. Want to show that thing wrong?" She tries to sound flippant, confident, and friendly. But she's mostly just trying to make her sister feel that she is the important one. She is the one that matters. Not some alternate sister or fake sister or whatever. But on the other hand, she doesn't have time to make up for her perceived failures. They have lives to save.
She'll just have to hope it's not lives to avenge. She hops onto Kara's Papyrus Reed Boat and begins channeling Chakra. She is still very low on Flesh Scroll Tattoos after the assault on the Facility, but she hopefully will have enough to put a dent in the enemy.
"A giant krayt snake? What would it be doing on the surface unless it was… feeding. Damn."
The thought of an enormous snake making a meal out of a caravan of travellers sent a queasy feeling into the dark-haired kunoichi's stomach. Hopefully it'd just be snacking on some small band of brigands that occasionally roamed the lawless wastes, but from this distance it was impossible to define whethere they should be launching a rescue operation or assisting in feeding time roundup. Thoughts of THAT vanish, though, as the impossibly-huge serpent rears itself up out of the sand to stand collossaly tall over everything else in this bleak, flat landscape.
Rinako lets out a groan of dismay, "I don't think that's an ordinary sand snake." A sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach is followed by the realization that getting somewhere quickly was never her forte. This problem is solved soon enough by the timely arrival of Kara's corpse-regurgitated boat, floating handily in the air. Wasting little time, though with her reflexes she's likely the last aboard, the elder of the twins leaps upwards, using a hand on the side to help her leap clear the rail and land within the body of the craft.
"Yeah. Great." There's a long, tense glance at her sibling as the younger teenager begins to gather her chakra, before Rinako's brown eyes squint at the rising beast again, her lips forming a disturbed frown. Rinako's hands slap together right over her stomach, forming a seal as she begins to draw chakra, not only from herself, but from another source, closing her eyes in concentration as the boat speeds along. Her brow twitches. "You're going… to listen… to me!"
The chakra figuratively slams into her body as she completes whatever mental struggle was going on, her eyes popping open as she crouches, moving towards the bow of their aircraft, making ready to leap into action when they've gone near. Thankfully, her recovery times were short, and she was almost fully rested after their ordeal in that other place. Not fully, but close enough to handle an enormous stone serpent. …She hoped.
Glad to be done with the disturbing corpse, Takumi perks up when he hears the alarms. He puts his kunai away safely, and then tells the medical assistants to get somewhere secure. Getting out of the hospital quickly, Takumi looks around outside the hospital to check for anything within the village. He can't see anything on the streets, but the skies definitely have something. A rather sizable snake is visible outside the village.
Know that where there's a giant snake, there's a giant amount of hurt, the medic nin dashes through the streets to the village entrance, stopping short just outside the gateway tunnel. Taking a kunai out of his pouch, Takumi gets ready to work.
Tsubasa pushes up on his glasses. This was all going to be a pain in the ass to handle wasn't it. Zombies, a giant snake and whoever it is standing over yonder. However, the worst thing any of them could do was panic and act rashly. This is why he didn't move, his eyes scanning the battlefield. The zombies that currently approach him are cut short in their attempt by crystal needles embedding them in their eye sockets, the things returning to the dust they were born from. Now that those things are gone, he turns his attention to the battle as a whole.
"Hmm. Zombies are just a side effect, caused by the giant serpent. Serpent isn't native to this region, must be created. Mountain is material used, earth based, good, vulnerable to crystal. However, snake is a side effect too. The mountain didn't create it on its own power and the snake certainly hasnt' been hiding there for centuries. Logical conclusion is that snake and zombies are being controlled, logical controller is the man on the mountain over yonder."
He reaches up to push on the glasses again, "However, seems to have no control over the situation. Chakra being released at a superfluous rate. Speaks of either inability to control chakra or inexperience. Inexperience is not a logical conclusion, must be experienced to know how to mold a moutain to his will. Even if not direct cause..Smart enough to know what to use."
Another sigh and he stares at the man, "Logical conclusion then is that the person has no control over how fast his chakra is coming out…Still, chakra is pointed, meaning it has a purpose or it is being taken by someone or something. Logic dictates the snake would be sapping a lot of the chakra reserves, however, feeeling from snake doesn't match feeling from the location of the man. Must assume the man is also a side affect. Which leaves us with one conclusion…That stone."
He lowers his hand, "Logical conclusion is to attack the man in a feint and attempt to destroy the stone while he is distracted. Suggest gathering more intel." His hand pushes up his glasses, "For now, i'm going to get started. Welcome to our world."
He lowers his hand and pushes them together, a surge of chakra from his body identifies that he is focusing his chakra on something or maybe just for general use. Once that is done, he continues to walk forward towards his goal.
Sousa listens carefully to the gabble around him, picking out the important parts and piecing together a picture of what's gone on in his absence. Stone giant beaten, sandstorm subsided, fighting with enemy army…and now, it appears there's a newly developing situation--a big ol' snake much like the giant from before, only it seems to be creating zombies. Splendid. e.e You go away for a little while, and there's a disaster awaiting you on your return. Oh well, at least Sousa's little unplanned vacation was an extremely relaxing one. Two weeks of lying in a hospital bed--how much healthier can you get? ;)
Soon enough Sousa is on the cliffs at the village edge, surveying the situation. Okay…big earthen snakey thing, as reported…hordes of shambling undead, also as reported…oh look, and some sort of unearthly green glow. Looks like what was seen just after the stone giant was destroyed, from the stories Sousa was told. Well, if video games teach us anything, it's that glowy things are important and generally make good targets in boss fights, right? ;) And, yeah, all that stuff Tsubasa mentioned is good thinking too. Sousa hops down the cliffs and starts making his way toward the source of that glow. Maybe now he'll FINALLY get some answers about this whole crazy event.
Shemri doesn't have much to add to her comrades' comments. She and Shiikaa leap aboard Kara's ship and hang on for a swift ride. If that thing /is/ a krayt, then this is a job for Sunagakure's only experienced krayt-wranglers! >D If not, well…they'll see what they can do to help out when they get there.
Nai searches among the various restricted materials. Boxes of something called 'black powder', a jar with a visibly-damaged Sharingan eye floating in some kind of fluid, a long crate labelled 'Anubis'… And then he finds it. It's sitting in a display case, as though it were intended to be in a museum, instead of tucked away in an infrequently used storage room. It probably has all manner of Seals and wards on it.
But this isn't really the time to worry about that. A master of Seals can identify all traps with but a glance, and disarm them with a flick of the wrist! Or so the rumors go. Nai picks up a nearby mallet made of stone, hefts it in his hands, and then smashes the display case.
Nai is not a master of Seals.
Soon, the records keeper is running through the streets of Sunagakure, bearing in one hand a Funerary Medallion that was recovered from a dig site out in the desert by one Uudo Eddo, months ago. How did he know about this medallion? He is the head of records. He knows a lot of things. Like this medallion's special POWERS… He just needs to get to a good vantage point. The cliff walls should do. He starts his way up.
Zipping from one dark shadow to the other, Six lands a twenty paces from the first set of Zombies. That kunai she had wielded? Well, she absently discards it into the forehead of the nearest undead freeing up her hands for a speedy set of seals. The first time she forms the seal, it's only held for a moment, as a large mound of earth pushes itself up with Six, putting her on high ground. The second time it's formed it's held for a long moment. A new rumbling can be heard, but this time.. from a Konoha ANBU? Wtf?
BOOOOM! A loud eruption rocks from the back of the battle field, an explosion of earth and stone, and whatever else may have been lost to time rising high into the air above the Dragon-Masked shinobi's head. It hovers above her for a long moment, condensing into a ball, before finally exploding out over the crowd of Zombies. Earthten material rains down upon the undead mounds of.. whatever they were, causing several to simply drop from material similar in size to their head.. and much heavier, colliding. Others are severally wounded, but manage to clamber back to their feet just to catch more rain.
It's not over though. That previous mound she had been sitting on is suddenly tapped. At the exact moment of the explosion, she leaps high into the air, using the burst from the ground to shoot her deep into the middle of the battle field, while the rest of those Zombies who had caught slack bite the dust. Her destination? THE GLOWY MAN. Spotting Sousa, the eyeless, Dragon-Masked ANBU shouts out, "Konoha ANBU reporting…"
Itami's wind scythe attacks slash at the Corpse Soil Serpent's head, cutting deeply into the stone surface. A rain of boulders large enough to crush a horse flat plummet down to the ground, seeming to be merely chipping off the creatures's body, rather than delivering a measurable amount of damage. And yet, it >is< damaged. Ridiculously large or not, it is able to be harmed. Perhaps it will just require a bit >more< harm to adequately take it out of action. However, it also seems that Itami has gotten the serpent's >attention<. It turns towards her and then wriggles so that the hundred-foot-tall tip of its tail whips out at the Watanabe kunoichi. It may not be "fast" per se, but it's also big enough to present a challenge to simple dodge.
Preceding this, however, is a wall of stone that erupts in front of the tail as it plows up the desert. The sand and dirt are flung every which way at high speeds towards Itami!
Six's attacks slam into the zombies, some of them being knocked around and then dispersing into dust, others somehow surviving by the thickness of the battle lines they have formed shielding those behind, but most of them are just plain obliterated. …Only to reform from the serpent yet again. As the ANBU closes in on Sousa, the Kazekage is met with dusty undead of his own. They try to grab onto him, but they are slow and clumsy. Easy for a Kage to handle. Right?
Amuro sees Sousa approaching, as Itami continues to delay their meeting by attacking the serpent. "Hmph. What a bother." He is becoming weaker and weaker, even as the power flowing through him grows and grows. He can't keep this up for much longer, or he'll be easy prey for almost everyone around. He lowers the Stone of Body, and cuts off the Stamina feed. Yes, the voices still whisper to him. 'Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.' But giving all of himself to the Stone will need be proceeding down that path. It would cut his travel short, if anything. He will have to make-do with what power he has now.
Tsubasa's crystal needles destroy zombies that encroach on his personal space, even though they will be reborn a moment later. Perhaps that is all the time he needs to close the distance between himself and where Sousa, Six, and Amuro are getting together for a chat. Or perhaps more zombies will begin to gather and try to ambush the Seishukuni ninja from the side in a sudden rush, moving faster than they were previously! It may also be noticed that the zombies have stopped being regenerated from the serpent. The flow of power for that is cut off. Or perhaps it was simply deactivated somehow. Whatever the case there a lot of undead coming in quickly to try gobble him up.
Almost like they know what he's trying to do, and want to stop him…
Kara continues to fly Team 01 closer to Sunagakure. The impossibly large stone serpent is now clearly made of stone. It is also presently distracted with Itami's harassment of its head and is not looking up at where Ruri, Rinako, and Shemri are preparing to engage it. Kara presumably can as well, but she has to manage the boat! Unless they land first. She'll follow what orders are given to her, but for the moment… She is providing a platform for her friends to attack from.
Nai would find his way up to the cliffs easily, and get to see exactly what's going on. Whatever his plan is, he better be ready to enact it quickly. A snake that big and it's not really even >trying< to use its bulk to attack yet. If it gets serious… Things will become nasty. Or nastier, even. Meanwhile, floating over the entire battlefield, a figure unseen and unsensed watches and waits. It has a very special interest in Nai, regardless of what else happens.
Itami counts another strike. This is too much. Many mistakes she's made and this is just one she can add to the list. Everytime she's rushed out she found herself in trouble and yet again, she does the same thing over. She can't tell if it's an overwhelimg sense of duty or an overwhelming sense of stupidity. More than likely the latter, but now she's a bit tuckered out without having thought things through again and has a wave of earth headed her direction…and a pissed off snake. "Dammit…" She comments harshly to herself.
Making quick work of a few seals she utilizes body flicker to avoid the wave and once more to avoid the tail that was whipping at her. Naturally, sand flew up into the air and obscured her view a bit, but once she landed, she coughed a bit having inhaled some dust and began to wipe a bit from her eyes as well. What doesn't feel right is the fact that she landed atop a hard surface and like everything else that has clicked for her, it's safe to assume she's on top of the snake. Now that she's here, she figures she could begin to attack from this point. She wonders if she could get it to attack itself. Might be a longshot, but if it's bent on striking at her at the moment…
Running along the surface, she makes sure to focus some chakra to her feet in order to stick. This thing does move after all, and while she does so she makes more handseals to send more fireballs for its head. She's still wary of the tail, but she keeps with the whole distraction thing so it won't have much focus elsewhere.
Ruri sees the serpent. It's easy to focus on this thing that his bigger than anything she has ever seen ever, including her sister transformed into that monster's shape. But she tears her attention away to see what else is going on down below. Lots of people fighting down there. Some are moving slowly, as though disoriented, or wounded, or… She blinks. She can't be sure, but… She takes the bandages off of her right eye for a moment, and the empty socket is filled with a pure red eye, with darker red iris and pupil at the center. It has enhanced sight, and she can see a bit more clearly who is down there.
Or rather WHAT is down there.
"…." After a moment, Ruri sighs out shudderingly. They don't look like the mutants from the sewers. They don't look like the intelligent undead from the Land of Winter, or the mindless running dead from inside the Facility. No, they look an awful lot like the very first undead that Ruri ever encountered outside of her nightmares. "I told them, didn't I? I *BLEEP*ing TOLD them. I said, 'Destroy the *BLEEP*ing medallion.' And they're all, 'No, we have to study it.' And I said, 'You are all *BLEEP*ing morons and you need to destroy the medallion.' And they were all, 'It belongs in a museum.' And I was all, 'You're morons. You're going to kill us all. Don't do it.' And now what happens? ZOMBIES HAPPEN. No one ever listens to me."
Then she turns to Rinako suddenly and says, "Rinako, use the monster's powers if you have to, but take down that snake thing!" Then she turns towards Kara and says, "Kara, once I'm off the boat, take Shemri and Shiikaa down to where that green glow is coming from, and see if smashing it will make all this *BLEEP* stop." She pauses for a moment, and glares around, as though daring someone to ask what SHE'S going to do. She answers pre-emptively, "I don't know what I'm going to do. I'm making this up as I go along."
Then her attention is caught by something. Someone standing on the cliff walls that surround the Village. She wouldn't have noticed ordinarily. But with the Tomogan active, she spots him. Hone Nai. And something familiar glitters in his hand. She has to grow two additional eyes to crowd her right eye socket, but when she has all three Tomogan active, she can make it out clearly. The Medallion. The Funerary Medallion that Kara's dad recovered. The one that is probably making all these zombies, just like before. And Nai has it. "…Change of plans, Kara! Do a fly-by of the cliffs right over there! Drop me off by where Nai is standing! Shemri, you're with me! Shiikaa too! Kara, you continue on to figure out the glow. Becareful, and if anything looks suspicious, *BLEEP*ing SMASH it."
Assuming these orders are followed, Rinako will soon be depositing herself on or near the stone serpent to pummel it, and Ruri will be leaping off the Papyrus Boat to confront Nai. Which would involve landing on the cliffs and yelling unintelligible but angry-sounding things as she charges at the records keeper looking like she's ready to clobber him.
"Mmph. Why do I always get the big ones?" Rinako mutters under her breath from her position in the bow of the boat. Still, she glances towards her sibling. If Ruri was telling her to use 'the monster', things must be more at stake than they appear. Or… But before thinking too long, she seems to resume talking to herself in a more literal fashion, still with nearly-inaudible muttering. "No, I don't need you for this. I can handle it." A glance towards the village. "…Fine."
Legs tensing as the boat begins to pass as close as it dares to the stone serpent without getting wrecked by the least twitch of it's enormous body, Rurohashi Rinako leaps from the relative safety of the moving craft, her minute form falling towards the infinite sands below. And then her form ceases to be 'relatively small' at all.
Chakra explodes outwards from the young woman as she releases her hold on whatever she was keeping inside in a darkening flash of power. What lands in the sand is no longer anything that resembles a human, but rather an enormous shelled beast that kicks up the shifting dunes beneath it as it's heavy legs slam into the ground. Three tails whip behind the reptilian beast, each flat and terminating in several spikes. Yellow eyes stare out of an amphibious head, toothless maw snapping as it hisses at the snake. As large as the creature is, however, it is still dwarfed by the sheer mass of serpentine stone before it, it's skin a blue so dark it might as well be black, all trace of the woman beneath it gone.
There's a soft pull of air towards the tailed beast, as if the very wind around it had changed direction and begun to converge on it's location, the great turtle's head rearing back as it glares balefully at it's opponent. Chakra gathers and crackles around it as it ceases inhaling, the air around it stilling, as if waiting to see what would happen next. And what happens next is a deafening thunder that can't quite be defined in a simple word, a ball of pure sound so thick it could just barely be seen launching towards the upright section of the enormous animal. It wasn't expertly aimed, but it was a very large target to hit. Shockwaves of noise ripple around the beast, likely making it hard to hear and leaving a ringing in the ears of any within the vicinity.
As cocky as ever, the Lord of Water has announced his arrival.
Tsubasa looks around at the zombies, "So you can understand the words coming out of my mouth can you? Then you can understand that you're about to die!"
He hunkers over and pulls his arms around his body for a moment, chakra surging around him and then he releases the arms, a wide movement that causes two giant wings to sprout from his back. These wings, made entirely of crystal, slam into the zombies attempting to bite him and throw them across the desert around ten feet away. The wings are much larger than usual and spanned easily fifteen feet from tip to his back. Crystal was literally dripping from them as he lowers the wings onto his back and stares around. "Welcome to our world, how may I," he pulls them in around his body twice once more, "kill you today!"
Swoosh, the opening of the wings causes wind to pick up in the immediate area sending sand everywhere, but that's not all, hundreds, easily thousands of needles are flying towards everything around him. EVERYTHING is being caught in a literal blanket of needles and they don't stop after hitting something, no, some of them clear their initial hit and move onto another unlucky sod. There're even needles flying at the man where sousa is, the snake, the zombies. Absolutely nothing is spared save his comrades. As needles approach those known to him, they move and join a line next to their position, showing he has control over them even after leaving his wings if he wishes. In fact, a jarring wall was speeding towards Sousa but it separates, the needles swinging past the kazekage, literally right next to his head, but not touching even so much as a hair. Sousa might even notice them as they then reform into their original wall and move towards the man that was causing all this junk.
Finally, in an act of defiance, he moves his hand out to his side and gathers a large crystal spear next to him before flinging it at the man and specifically, towards that damned crystal of his.
Sousa twists fluidly around the clumsy grabs of the undead. Quick, sharp strikes shatter their bones, most significantly spinal cords. Having brought down the immediate threat, Sousa jumps up and makes his way across the crowd of zombies, hopping lightly from shoulder and head. Ninja stuff is cool, but certain tropes remain the domain of the kung fu master. ;) Reaching the other side, Sousa somersaults and lands a short distance away from Amuro. He lifts his hands in a relaxed defensive posture and regards Amuro. "I take it you are a person of some importance in this invasion," Sousa remarks. "Perhaps you would be willing to inform me regarding what your objective is. Surprise assault is one thing, but not giving a single reason for hostility during a two-week siege, that's simply rude. And most likely counter-productive."
Sousa glances aside briefly when Six hails him. Konoha ANBU, eh? Suppose they're interested in the glowy stone. "Defensive posture for now, if you please," Sousa replies. "I'd like to find out what's going on here if at all possible. Feel free to dispose of any corpses which wander within range, of course."
Koudo was up against the giant snake, among others, and the walking dead were attacking recklessly and ruthlessly, it was almost unavoidable. He looks up, the fire element coursing through his veins. "Hahaha!" There was no reason to be laughing at a time like this, but the fire in him caused his mind to react to the chaos and overwhelming nature of the attack in such a way that was uncontrollable. Then the laughter stops, rage returning to the council member's eyes, with a frown. Drawing a fuuma shuriken, jumps into the air fanning the shuriken in hand, and a smirk "Heh!" He lets out a light chuckle, releasing the shuriken along with the wind element, sending it in a loop through the zombies on the ground. He could see the battlefield clearly, there were many ninjas to aid the cause of defending the village, and, some powerful jutsu being shot at the snake. But, how were they to defeat this giant monster. Then it hit him, he noticed the leader of their village "Kazekage-sama…" He mutters to himself, and catches sight of the enemy leader once more. Eyeing the tall ninja with the amazing chakra. Landing, catching the fuuma shuriken he sent to disrupt the undead. "This is not over yet!" He raises an earth clone and sending it to aid the Kazekage. Joining Itami runs and lets a couple fireballs loose at the snake.
Shemri makes a mental note to keep Megumi-chan away from Ruri-san when she's in a bad mood. -.-; The last thing she needs is for Megumi-chan to get the idea that part of being a strong woman is expressing yourself with expletives. Following after Ruri, Shemri hops off Kara's boat when they arrive, and…wait, what are they doing now? o.O; That guy's one of theirs, isn't he? They even did a mission for him once. "Hoi, what are we trying to accomplish here?!" Shemri shouts, dashing after Ruri. Whether to assist her or restrain her, she doesn't yet know. x.x;
Nai does indeed make it to the cliffs. It's a long run, even with Tree Walking. But he does not tire the same way others do. He does not need to catch his breath. So he comes up onto the more-or-less flat plateau and runs to the edge to make sure all of the zombies are in view. The snake is less of an issue, since one can see it from basically anywhere around. Then he holds the Funerary Medallion in both hands and raises it above his head. Dirt and dust begin to seep out of the bandages wrapped about his hands and arms, and swirl around the pendant on its chain. He can feel it intuitively. This Medallion has a very powerful Earth Release jutsu stored in it, and the Chakra to use it. The Chakra has been depleted severely from the maximum the Medallion can hold… But Nai should have enough for what he plans to do. He can augment what's left.
He starts to focus on releasing the Jutsu, sending his own Chakra inside to unlock the technique. Then something comes swooping in, and for a moment, Nai is unable to process the new information. He simply stands and stares, struggling to break off from his previous task. Ruri lands about 30 feet away, with Shemri and Shiikaa in tow. They are charging at him, and Ruri is yelling a lot and looking quite hostile. …And she has three eyes in her right eye socket. Nai stares for a moment.
Then when she closes in on him, he lowers the Medallion and leaps back several feet to gain some safety distance. "I do not know what is wrong, but unless those zombies are stopped they will enter the Village and begin killing everyone. There are thousands of them, and only a handful of people focusing on eliminating them. You are preventing me from stopping them. Feel free to explain to me your issue while I am doing this."
Then, still looking cautiously in Ruri's direction -- or maybe Shemri's. It is hard to tell with his goggles on -- he tries to raise the Medallion again, and awaken the Jutsu. It can make the dead rise again, made of dust, more or less infinitely, as long as the Jutsu's caster remains alive.
Nai is not really 'alive'. He will have to hope he can hijack the Jutsu in progress with the Medallion, and link it to his lack of life to support it. He has no idea if this will work. But he'll try anyway. And later he'll ask himself why he is even bothering to save these people instead of waiting for them all to go away.
Six is surrounded by two Zombies which lunge her direction in a pathetic display of agility or technique. Pfft. Zombies. They're simply disregarded as she steps out of the way, why waste any energy. Moving past them towards the enemy, Six lets two Kunai go from out of practically nowhere, tossing them blindly over her shoulder. The daggers plant themselves exclusively in the forehead of the opposing creatures, sending them sprawling to the ground in a heap of earth. Whoever this ANBU was, they obviously didn't need to see to hit their target.
Six offers a stout nod to the Kage. She comes to a stop at Sousa's position, and takes up a purely defensive posture, her Juuken Stance becoming apparent to any of those who've experienced a Hyuuga in action. Several zombies make their way close to her and the Kage, and she disposes of them with singular Juuken Strikes, poof'ing them into the air like clones. Her technique is beyond amazing, fit for nothing but the best of ANBU, yet she still sounds young.
The Stone of Body continues to pulse and glow in Amuro's right hand. Wisps of unholy energy stream from the stone and move through the air without any breeze to guide them. Chakra is ordinarily not visible unless it is extremely dense or present in very large amounts. It is unclear if this energy is Chakra or not, but it is clearly visible. When Tsubasa's crystal needles come at him, Amuro raises his left arm and turns so that he catches them in his forearm. Went right through his sleeve. He lowers his arm and leaves the crystal needles there like they're not irritating his skin and stinging. He is no stranger to pain. He has had more than a hundred years of it. Amuro then holds up the Stone of Body in his right hand, seeming to examine it. He could kill them all still. He could win. He could--He chokes off that line of thought, since he never >intended< to kill them all or 'win'.
Instead he answers Sousa, in his extremely deep voice, "It is nothing personal. But I had to achieve something here. Something to make the world a better place. A world of peace. That can only be achieved if people understand fully what the horror of war is, and what the price of hating each other is. The Clan Wars were feeble compared to what can be wrought by pure human malice. All the dying that has happened here is the merest sample of what >could< happen. And I literally have the very essence of every crime, every wrong, and every act and thought of hate and evil that has ever been perpetrated by human beings since we first came into existence, chained up and sealed away. If it is ever released, it would result in a behavior I am sure you understand the definition of… 'Omnicide'. Globally. Every person and animal would instantly drop all that he or she is doing and simply try to start killing everyone else around him or her. It would continue until all life ceased to exist."
The 8-foot tall man in the robes and mask looks upon Sousa and Six. Where his eyes are directed is unclear. He has no eyeholes in his mask. 'Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.' Amuro thinks about what he has done here for the past two weeks. 'Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.' He thinks about how it might have been handled differently. If he only had the time… 'Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.' He has walked this road for too long. A century too long, infact. Amuro says, "I have human malice bound and ready to serve at my command. The death you have seen here is but a sample. Call a Summit Meeting of the Kage and tell them this: More examples will be made until war between nations ends forever. And if ever it is felt that this goal is impossible… Then I, Fuu Ka, will release all the ills of humankind from bondage, and the Beast of Blood will >devour us all<."
'Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.' Amuro thinks, 'Well, here I am.' Then a pinpoint of black deeper than the darkest night forms >inside< of Amuro's torso, and he is sucked into it quickly. It's like he just imploded. He's gone.
Meanwhile, the blades and fireballs and rains of crystal shards and kung-fu moves and shuriken and chakra-powered punches and kunai and >everything else< all completely devastate the zombies. But there are thousands of them, and only a few defenders still able to fight. They have already made it to Sunagakure's gates and begun to enter, despite the best efforts of the ninja on watch. Luckily, most civilians had the common sense to flee. But the wounded… There are many wounded who are unable to run fast enough or far enough. Most of the civilians of Sunagakure were spared the harm inflicted on their soldiers and ninja.
Now the suffering is spread to them as well.
The Stone Serpent is scorched by fireballs, but they seem to be less than effective. Other attacks strike, and do massive damage, but it is the culmination of all those attacks on the upper body and head of the artificial beast that is weakening its structure. A chunk of rock falls from its 'neck' that could probably have broken even the Three-Tails's toes if it had landed on them. But it didn't. Instead, in retaliation for the devastating sonic attack, the Serpent rears up its miles-long but damaged form even higher than it did before… And then lunges down at the Bijuu before it. The Chakra inside of it is bleeding out, now that there is no one controlling it or funneling power to it. But it has enough left to make it hurt if the Lord of Water does not live up to his reputation.
The thrashing of the Stone Serpent and its attempts to collide with the Three-Tails cause tremors of a magnitude right off the freaking >scales<. And there's a few people sitting right on the edge of the cliffs surrounding Sunagakure. A very >precarious< location to be. If anyone were to fall off… Well, in addition to a long drop, they would probably become zombie food pretty quickly.
Nai's plan will work if he doesn't fall off the cliff in the process. If he uses the Medallion to usurp control of the Jutsu the lack of life force will make the zombies drop dead. So to speak. But the Medallion is trying to do some usurping of its own. A "command" Jutsu that tries to take control of whoever holds it. Can Nai resist the ancient Jutsu that tries to make him no better than the zombies? Will he even try? The loss of worry, the loss of concern, the loss of humanity is so very >relaxing< and feels so very >good<. It is humanity that makes us suffer. Does Nai want to suffer? The Medallion tries to convince him it would be better if he just gave in. Let the pain stop… Or perpetuate it. Which will he choose?
Meanwhile, Kara is flying by on her Papyrus Reed Boar still, and descends to where the Kazekage and the ANBU are standing. The green glow is gone. What was the source of it? "Are you alright, Kazekage-sama?" Kara asks of Sousa, while eyeing the masked person near him. "Do you know how to stop this?" The fact that the Three-Tails is standing a short distance away, doing battle with a >mountain< is probably not lost upon the Kage, but he has to keep his priorities in order!
Now the battle field looked busy, besides the zombies and all. More people and more attacks to go round. Things were starting to look up and as Itami was doing so, there was a giant turtle dropping from the sky and landing on the ground nearby the snake. These aren't things that get to be seen everyday, thankfully, but what also doesn't go seen is a large soundwave headed straight for the snake. Bracing for impact, Itami knelt down and held her hands against her ears, but that roar was powerful. Despite her attempts at keeping the sound out, it went through her body and into her ears and now she has a great ringing in them. A ring similar to the one she heard when that genjutsu hit her in the interrogation room.
She starts to respond to it, but has to hold back. Her eyes momentarily turn to slits before she shakes it off and they return to normal. A sigh slips from her mouth, thinking that too close. Standing to her feet, she manages to replace herself with one of the smaller pieces of rock that had broken off of the snake and move away from it to somewhere else, right in the area of zombies. Fantastic. Already one bites her and she suffers for it, badly. It hurts, yes, but there's another that's trying to attack so she summons some earth up to guard against the bite and give that zombie something to think about. Not really. It doesn't think. But once that was over with, she summoned up some lightning chakra into her knee and kicked him straight in the gut. The other then received a fireball point blank in the face. After this, she tries to get out of dodge as the earth is beginning to shake and she doesn't want to be around for it.
Sousa tilts his head slightly after Amuro (or rather, Fuu Ka, since that's the name he introduced himself by) disappears. Hmmm…interesting concept. Telling the whole world, 'Play nice, or I'll kill everybody.' Essentially trying to take the whole world captive for its own good. Not that Sousa expects it to work. On a small group, it might, for a while. It could possibly even put a lock on global politics. But there are simply too many people who'd be willing to risk breaking the peace, whether they had a recognized country or just a band of mercenaries behind them. To say nothing of individual criminals. And anyway, they haven't yet seen the proof that this entity of sheer malice that could turn all living things violent exists, let alone is under this Fuu's restriction.
Sousa turns his gaze back toward Sunagakure. So, he's got a date with Death to prepare for, a mysterious death threat against all creatures…and a zombie horde attacking his village, in increasing order of immediate urgency. e.e Sousa prefers a first-come-first-served approach to dealing with issues, but sometimes life just doesn't work out that way. "Defend the village entrance," Sousa orders to anyone within hearing. "Minimizing casualties is priority one. These foes won't last much longer."
Sousa looks up at the clashing titans. Should he help take out the snake? Hmmm…nah, it shouldn't be able to keep going for long without its creator. Besides, about the only means Sousa would have of making a difference against that thing could just as easily hit the bijuu--oh, say, wasn't the jinchuuriki missing? Somebody should've mentioned she got back while Sousa was out. e.e Oh well. Sousa decides to head back to the village gates, straight through the zombie horde. Having observed that the walking corpses are fairly fragile, and surmising that the technique that animates them is earth-based, Sousa decides that the most efficient means of disposing of them is small discharges of lightning chakra. He cuts a path for himself through the crowd, felling the undead with quick sparks from his fingers.
Ruri tries to listen to Nai when she gets close enough to hear him. There's screams and rumbling and all kinds of explosions and fireballs and who-knows-what-else going down. But she makes out enough of the records keeper's words to understand he is trying to STOP the zombies somehow. Does the Medallion have a dual-use? Can it stop this Jutsu as well as start it? If so, then who started it to begin with? She looks around, and doesn't see any likely suspects. There's that guy over there with the green light radiating from his hand, and a couple other people she can't make out from this distance, even with three enhanced eyes in her right socket.
Is it the man with the glow? Is he making the serpent too? She doesn't know. She just knows that her sister has turned into a monster to fight an even BIGGER monster, and most ninja are nowhere to be seen. How can so many die in just two days? Where is that Bastardkage? Why isn't he out here blasting the enemy? Is he hiding in his laboratory somewhere? Is… Is this all an 'EXPERIMENT'!? She tries to tighten down on her anger. She doesn't have enough facts to make that conclusion.
Turning her natural eye on Nai while her artificial right eyes continue to track what's going on with the glowing guy, she is unprepared for the massive ROAR from her the Three-Tails. Maybe it's not directed at her, and maybe it's not right nearby, but it's powerful enough to have a physical impact on the environment and what lies in front of the Bijuu. That's loud enough to make Ruri flinch and wince, closing her left eye. But her right eyes stay open and active, staring as the man with the green glow seems to somehow vanish INTO himself. It's night time, but with the Tomogan she can see as clear as day. The man that was talking peacefully with the one likely behind all of this is Sousa.
She growls. Then the tremors become violent enough from the serpent's thrashing around that Ruri's perch on the cliffs, even though she was EASILY 10 or 12 feet away from the edge, is disrupted. She is hurled from the cliffs, and falls through the air. She is stunned. Too stunned, at first, to do anything. Then she realizes she's going to die if she doesn't react. It's amazing how quick you can react when you're about to go splat.
Ruri channels Chakra into her right eye socket, and the three eyes there extend out of her face, along with a dozen other tentacles of dark-red flesh. She sends them down to touch the ground ahead of her, and thus start absorbing her momentum before she arrives. Unfortunately, though this works, she is also 'arriving' right in the middle of a cluster of zombies. Her blood goes cold when she realizes this.
For a moment, she manages to stay above the shambling dead by remaining supported by the twelve tentacles that act like spider legs or something to keep her in the air. Then she loses balance as she stares into the faces of the groaning corpses, and then they BITE one of the Tomogan tentacles. It hurts. She falls.
As the zombies cluster around her, converging and trying to pile on top of her, Ruri abso-freaking-lutely FREAKS OUT. The tentacles lash out wildly, striking at anything and everything around her, as she screams hysterically and tries to keep from putting her back to any of the zombies. Which is hard when she is surrounded by a couple hundred of them, but she tries her best anyway. "GET AWAY FROM ME! NO, GET AWAY! GET THE *BLEEP* AWAY! NEE-CHAN! HELP! RINAKO! HELP ME!" She wanted to be strong. "HELP!" She wanted to be independent. "NEE-CHAN!!!" She wanted to be the one who did the rescuing and kept her sister safe. And yet, what it all comes down to is…
"RINAKOOOOO!!!" She will flee to her twin's side when she is at her weakest, instead of standing on her own two feet. She doesn't even know if the zombies are still coming anymore. She's just kneeling in the burnt sands and crying tears with her left eye, and crying blood from all the various protrusions coming out of her right.
The great, dark turtle doesn't move to dodge or skitter out of the way as the impossibly huge serpent rears back it's head for a strike. Either the lumbering beast was confident in it's ability to simply stop the blow… or confident that it didn't have the ability to get out of the way in time. A deep, feral growl resonates as the strike begins, yellow reptilian eyes locking onto the approaching stone head and the tremendous force bearing down on it as if daring it to complete the attack. Even before the impact, the force of gathering chakra begins to kick up the sand around it in a miniature, violent sandstorm.
The impact is colossal, sending up dirt and debris for hundreds of meters around, blotting out the sun for those closest to the two struggling beasts like the impact of a miniature asteroid. The sand flies up for hundreds of feet, blotting out vision and making it difficult to see anything but the snake's miles-long body protruding from the area of impact. It takes many heartbeats for the thundering noise to finally settle into the relative silence of blowing wind and falling grains of sand.
By the time the air clears enough around the two titans, the giant turtle is gone and the serpent's head is buried in the sand. Beneath the earth, where the sheer force has buried it, the three-tailed bijuu remains, it's chakra shields having held against the blow. Just barely. And yet more than that, once the floating sand clears in the newest subterranean tunnel beneath the sand, the reptile's head is revealed.
And so is the large ball of water so thick it almost appeared black right in front of it's open mouth!
The earth where the Lord of Water had vanished erupts upwards in an explosive geyser, yet another explosion rocking the landscape as the menacing ball explodes on impact, devastating the immediate landscape whether it strikes the serpent's 'face' point-black, or simply impacts the earth. Boiling-hot water begins to rain down from the sky as the geyser reaches it's apex and gravity resumes it's rule over it once more, starting to fill up the new crater within the landscape.
Out of this crater the shelled monster hurls itself, leaping mightily skyward, casting it's shadow over the sand before it lands, a few hundred feet away, it's legs digging large furrows into the soft sand, it's body hovering off of the ground, each of it's legs forming a corner of a figurative cage. The bijuu-that-was-Rinako stands protectively over the kneeling Rurohashi Ruri, casting her in shade as it lets out another angry bellow. Though likely painful to the auditory senses, it lacks the destructive chakra-empowered blast it showed previously, whipping it's tails back and forth in a fit as it glares balefully around for something that was threatening the teenaged kunoichi beneath it.
Koudo found the windmill shuriken to cut the limbs and halves of zombies but they kept walking, and found them swarming him with slow, but hard attacks. A leap as he gathers fire chakra in his stomach, but is bit on the arm by one of the corpses. "Fire Release: Great fireball technique!" Still continues with a hand seal and brings his fingers to his mouth to release a fireball at the zombies below. Burning fire engulfs the crowd below, catching the dead bodies in hot flame. The zombies, the snake, how could this end?…
Koudo's clone watches as Fuu escapes, this was a very dangerous person and he ultimately disapproved of his mal-intent "Damn!!!" He would have let out a wail, a scream, a groan, but instead he just looks up to the sky. Bringing his mind back to the battlefield at the sound of Sousa's orders. No matter the pain and death caused he had to see to his duty. He bows to Sousa "Yes, Kazekage-sama." And the mud clone melts back into the earth.
Nai ignores Ruri as she topples off the cliff. Shemri, likely calling desperately after her, is likewise ignored. The shaking of the ground is ignored because he had the foresight to maintain his Chakra-enhanced grip on the plateau with Tree Walking. Hone Nai, otherwise known as the Ghoul of the Desert, is focused solely on the task at hand. He is focused completely on destroying these zombies and saving the Village's people from further harm. That is how it looks from the outside.
On the inside, he is considering his options. The Medallion has a point. No matter how much of a monster Nai is, he still regrets the death of every single one of his victims. He feels guilty for murdering others. Yet he has never considered ending his own existence to spare them. And that just torments him more. It is disturbing. Disturbing that the idea that he would rather continue to walk the Earth and kill to ease his own pain, and yet suffer from doing so, is not horrifying.
And yet here is this trinket, offering him a solution. He can stay alive and not have to suffer. He can let go of his guilt, his worry, his humanity, and exist as something BETTER. All he has to do is put the Medallion around his neck, and let it do all the work. It would be so easy. So easy to rule an army of the dead. So easy to add endlessly to his forces until the undead command the living, instead of being their mindless slaves. It would be easy.
Easy to make a terrible mistake.
Nai considers his options… And, ultimately, rejects the one that would spare him pain. "No matter what kind of monster I may be," he begins, likely unheard over the deafening roar of the Thee-Tails but audible enough in his own mind. "I am a monster of my own making and my own choices. I will not permit myself to be a monster of another's devising." Then he seizes control of the zombies with the Jutsu. He channels the unnatural, frigid, shadowy, unliving Chakra that is what motivates his withered form into the Medallion… And then he BREAKS it. The pendant shatters. 'Let that be enough,' he pleads silently in his head.
The Dragon-Masked ANBU moves fluidly to avoid the large up-heavel of earth which is flung her way. With keen, cat-like agility, Six flips outs of the way, tree-walking up the side of a piece of earth that had been meant to crush her, then somersaults off the face, landing a few feet away. It's unfortunate that on her way back down to the ground she is struck by.. some powerful attack that the large rock creature had used on her! It sends her sprawling, her black tunics scuffed heavily while a large crack forms in her mask.
Rolling back on her feet, she pulls her hood away from her head while forming a singular seal. Behind her mask, the Byakugan advances to it's next level, giving her superior knowledge over the battlefield. A tching sound issues, and she flickers out of existence, avoiding a swarm of zombie-bites. She reappears a few minutes later running at full speeds towards the giant stone creature. As she closes the gap, leaps forward and drives a powerful attack down on one of the visible, non-boiling-water-effected areas of the stone snake.
The water-based Menacing Ball, though not the strongest that the Three-Tails is capable of, is nonetheless enough to obliterate the head of the Corpse Soil Serpent, and much of the upper body that was within range. It just… Broke. In addition to boiling water raining down everywhere, so too are many, many, many, >many many many many< >MANY MANY MANY< rocks. Some are merely pebbles, the size of small hail stones. Some are still pretty darn big -- enough to crush a house easily. But most are somewhere inbetween. And yet, somehow, despite all odds, even though it is effectively 'dead'… The stone serpent continues to move around. It moves sluggishly, directionlessly. The multiple miles of bedrock and granite, though they have been sharply reduced -- cut by about 25% by the Bijuu's attack -- are still animated enough to continue squirming. Unlikely it can do any further damage, but one never knows…
Then the Konoha ANBU uses her Byakugan to identify where the 'core' of the Chakra is that is holding the thing together. Thankfully, it is located outside the range of the massive crater that is filling with scalding water. Then a Juuken strike later, and the Chakra core is destroyed. It just flies apart, and disperses into the air around it. The rock that was once a mountain stops moving. Hopefully for good this time.
The fireballs from Koudo, the lightning strikes from Itami, the efforts of everyone who has fought this day, though they stop the zombies from spreading throughout the Village, and though >hundreds< of these dusty undead appear to have been slain -- sometimes more than once per zombie -- do not end the threat. Not until Nai gives up his chance at eternal rest and the power over death itself. Speaking of that, a gaunt figure in a black robe and hood, with a skull and boney appendages protruding from therein, grips the shaft of his scythe a bit tighter and leans on it as he peers at Hone Nai. "YOU FALSE IMMORTALS ARE SUCH A NUISANCE," Death says conversationally in a voice like vault doors slamming deep beneath the earth. If only Nai had taken the Medallion's advice and worn the pendant… Then he would have been slain shortly thereafter, and Nai could finally be 'processed'.
Now, however, Death would have to wait some more. Nai was past his due date for termination processing. He had to die >eventually<… No one cheats Death, after all. Not forever.
The siege is finally over. A dire message has been delivered. It will takes generations before Sunagakure fully recovers from the past two weeks. It might never >truly< recover… But the Village still exists. That is more than can be said for those who lie out in the desert, festering and boiling and returning to where they belong.
Having finished the large stone creature off, the ANBU flickers out of the exploding rain of stone, not wishing to be pelted by anything further. Once everything slows to a stop, she finally exhales and lowers her defensive position.
Moving towards the closest Wind Shinobi, Six utters, "I will be sticking around for a few days.. tell your Kazekage that I shall be seeing them." Without another word she flickers away.
But the threats are already gone by the time the bijuu has landed to protect it's host's sibling in an uncharacteristic show of concern for something other than it's own rage. Perhaps it was a sign of the jinchuriki's growing hold over the monster within, or maybe just a fluke that allowed the user to take momentary control upon sensing her twin sister was in danger. Whatever the cause, the chakra-beast wavers for a moment, as if losing coherency in it's form. The internal battle for control was too taxing, too draining for Rinako to maintain, and control begins slipping again in the direction of the raging beast. But as powerful as the bijuu was, it was still tied to Rinako's physical form, and when she falls, so too does the great turtle.
The midnight blue chakra-form dissipates, shattering quickly into the air in a dark flash, revealing the form of a kneeling teenaged girl that could barely be recognized as the Sunagakure Chuunin through all the blood. Most of her skin seems to have been simply burned off, revealing tissue beneath, leaving wide, bloody splotches. Large pieces of her clothing seem to have survived, but have been melted into the skin from the force of the chakra enveloping her form. And from every part of her, steam rises.
She tries to move, to stumble towards her sister, but falls, landing unceremoniously face-firts into the fine grains of sand, exhausted. Even under the heat of the sun, with sand clogging her nose, it was difficult to keep her eyes open, to continue seeing, not when blissful, pain-releasing unconsciousness was so close. So close. Pain like this should never have to be borne by the living.
"Ru… ri…" The last thing the dark-haired jinchuriki sees is the hazy form of her sibling, emitting a single cough that sends up a tiny puff of dust, and then the sweet release of darkness.
Ruri doesn't look up. Doesn't notice when the Three-Tails charges over and looms over her protectively. She doesn't seem to be aware. Even the loud, challenging roar fails to reach her. Not until Rinako has become herself again and speaks to Ruri does the younger twin recognize the real world again. Pulling herself out of her stupor, the dark-red, blood-soaked tentacles with their eyes and instruments of impaling on their tips, all slurp back up into her right eye socket. She hurts. Her head feels like it's going to split open. She is also still terrified, even with the zombies gone. She feels ashamed for her fear. She feels ashamed that her sister had to get hurt again just to protect the damn Village. She feels ashamed that she couldn't protect her sister or herself.
So she crawls across the chill sand towards her sister, and even with the blood covering her, the exposed underlying tissue, and the painful steam rising from her body, Rinako is grabbed by Ruri and hugged tight as she rocks back and forth, staring blankly out to where the crater now lies. Rocks rain down. Hot water rains down. It's so surreal. So nightmarish. But it's real. It's here. This happened.
Two days. Two days and it all went to hell. How?