Date: September 16, 2011
A conglomeration of fleets sent out by nations from around the world are sent to safeguard their merchant vessels and investigate the source of the seagoing disappearances. Most of them don't make it home.
The oceans east of the Land of Fire
It was the grim gray light of pre-dawn when the multi-nation fleet came over the horizon. The fleet consisted of over a dozen merchantmen, heavy and lumbering as they plodded along. Around them were dozens more warships of nearly every nationality, much sleeker, narrower, able to literally sail circles around the huge merchant vessels. The fleet wasn't put together like this, but had formed as they went along for mutual safety. Each nation represented had sent an armed escort with the merchant ships, as each nation had been losing more ships than it could afford as they passed through the stretches of ocean between the Land of Water and Land of Fire. The cause for these mass disappearances of civilian and military vessels alike was still unknown.
The only nation which seemed unaffected was the Land of Water, who was currently enjoying a monopoly on the oceanic trade in this part of the world, bringing in massive wealth to their Daimyo's coffers. Many people suspected that the Water Daimyo's navies had turned corsair and begun to prey on any they came across. But in that case there would have likely been survivors. Some said pirates, some claimed sea monsters, like those that had attacked the Land of Sea not so long ago. But this left no explanation for why they would leave the ships of the Land of Water alone.
But this time, each fleet was armed with something they hadn't been before: this time they each nation's fleet carried shinobi sent to ensure the safe arrival of the ships, and, more importantly, determine how and why their ships have been vanishing from the earth without even wreckage left behind. The ships stuck more or less close to each other, separated in their formation by nationality, captains communicating via flag signals. Whatever it was preying so deliberately upon their countrymen would have to take on ALL of their ships to even get one, those in charge of the fleets choosing safety in numbers over an every man for himself rationality.
Nothing united like a common enemy.
The lookout from the lead Land of Waterfall's ship shouts, pointing forward, toward the south, the direction all the ships were heading. Immediately, signals were passed along throughout the congolmerate of fleets, and all eyes were trained. "They're… THEY'RE FLYING WATER FLAGS! IT'S A LAND OF WATER MILITARY VESSEL! SHE'S TURNING TOWARDS US!" The lookout continues to provide what information he can, which is relayed throughout all the vessels, from the shape and coloring of the distant ship's sails. Merchant vessels tended to have square ones for added thrust to their bulky movement, while navy ships tended to have the much more maneuverable triangular cloth atop their masts.
"SAIL HOOOOOO!" For the second time the cry is heard, this time from atop the central mast of the ship flying the Water Daimyo's colors, as well as the flag of Kirigakure. Moments after word is passed throughout the lone ship, Samominoryu Kei, one of the Seven Swordsmen of Kirigakure, steps out of her cabin on the poopdeck with a scowl, clutching her long coat about her body. As was usual, her famous sword was nowhere in sight on her person as she moves towards the forward of the ship, trying to squint her dark eyes as if that'd let her see the distant ships any better. At this distance, without the aid of a telescope, only a collection of sails could be seen.
"Well, the plebes were bound to advance in conglomeration forthwith or dilatory." She turns abruptly towards the ship's captain, pointing. "INTERCEPT THEM!"
And the Kirigakure ship begins to turn.
On the deck of the Kirigakure vessel, Onryou Maikeru can seen sitting atop a barrel flipping through a notebook. What Hikan or Kei may have said to convince him to join in on this little expedition, who knows, but here he sits awaiting orders. He wears his normal white trench coat and black attire, the Onryou uniform.
As Kei calls out orders, the Jounin looks up to peer at the vessels they are about to intercept. "This should be fun," he says with a slight smirk, his voice dark but calm. For now, he doesn't move from his spot, simply waiting for the fun to ensue, or for Kei to ask/tell him to do something.
For some reason or another, everyone else had been to busy to be tasked with a mere 'investigation' of disappearing ships. And the only person who wasn't busy doing jobs for the village per say was Sunagakure's master botanist and self proclaimed legendary dealer of death. In the form of drugs. Tenjin Hibari. It was still pre-dawn, so without the sun it was still relatively cool out. This was a plus for the Tenjin, as the day time brought about hot sun that wilted the woman like no other. Her composure when exposed to intolerable heat caused some concern amongst her countryment about her ability to endure anything other than gardening.
While it was still bearable out, Hibari could be seen standing on the deck with a few other shinobi who were sent with her. Atop her shoulder was a tiny green snake with a red strip going from head to tail tip. It seemed to be lazily curled up on the woman's shoulder, flicking its tongue into the salty sea air. "There there Zith, it's not so bad out here. Ten times better than being in the sun back in Sunagakure." she murmurs, the snake giving a quiet hiss. A single digit petting the snake on the head as it begins to emit what seems to be a purring noise, earning a smile from Hibari.
When word reaches their ship that a Kirigakure ship has been spotted, things start getting exciting as bodies start moving all over. "Oh boy. This doesn't look troublesome. At all…" giving a slight sigh. She had heard all the rumors about Kirigakure being the prime suspect. But she wasn't one to give in to flimsy rumors. Proof. Where was it?
Moving towards the front of the ship, not knowing what it was called exactly, Hibari squinted behind her glasses at the Kirigakure vessel turning towards the vast fleet of merchant and war ships. Doubtful she could spot anything useful at this distance.
The predawn light suited Mitsuomi fine. It was enoughto see by and that was enough for him. His shirtless form stood at the bow of the ship waiting for the chance to test his fists against man or beast, whichever was the cause of the disappearances. The village had chosen him for one reason or another and he didn't much care. All he knew was that it was a chance to fight and that was enough for him to go without much complaint. Aside the lack of his student there to witness the splendor of battle.
At the sight of Kirigakure vessles the ship went almost into a panic. As if the crew knew more than he did about their impending fate. A smile grew across his lips. Then came his booming voice. "Calm down and man your stations! All battle stations should be at the ready. No sense letting these water logged pansies get the drop on us. So put on a fresh pair of panties and buckle up. Let's do this!"
Obviously, this man had a sound head on his shoulders and a way with words…at least in his opinion. Though the Tokubetsu's words carried weight and drove the men to action. Battle stations were being manned at record pace. It was going to be bloody and quick, or so he hoped. Time to see if Kirigakure lived up to its reputation.
Amongst the smaller ships in the collective fleet lies a vessel from Takigakure, holding a Jounin and a trio of Genin amongst various other crew members. One of the genin can be seen pacing back and forth, before she walks over to one of the genin hanging over the side of the boat, apparently partially uncomfortable and partially bored, as she says, "Are you alright?.. I know you don't really like boats but I didn't think it was this bad…" before one of the lookouts comes running down towards the rear of the ship before speaking to what appeared to be an officer for a few moments. The officer then turned towards the rest of the boat and said, "Men! It looks like we've finally run into something worth investigating. A military vessel of kirigakure has been sighted, everyone to your posts they could do anything!"
The crew started to scramble to their posts as the previously bored looking genin perked up and started looking about, causing a third more darkly dressed and serious looking one to walk over to him and say, "Settle down, this is serious. We don't have the training to walk on water and we could be up a creek if they decide to single us out first." the other, more active genin sighs and says, "I know, but can't you at least find some part of this exciting? Sure it's dangerous, but it's better than sitting around with nothing to do while Chika has all the fun doing stuff in konoha." The first genin then turns to them and says, "Whatever the case, I was chosen as the best for the job. It would've been worse if you had been there so just learn to be happy with what's going on right now, alright Hiyoshi?" causing Hiyoshi to nod and cross his arms with a, "Hmph." as he looked away, and those on the boat waited to see what would happen.
The Swordswoman does indeed have orders for the shinobi aboard her ship, which consisted of Maikeru, Ryuutai, and a few others wearing the special insignia armbands of the Research Division. She turns away from the bow, heading back towards the rear of the ship where she can better assume command. "All shinobi personnel are to sustain bearings and espouse the transport. Be accessible to dismiss violation. Captain, beat to quarters."
"Lieutenant," the captain turns to his first officer. "Beat to quarters."
"BEAT TO QUARTERS!" After the first officer's cry, a drum begins to resound from within the hold of the Kirigakure ship, the sound toppling men out of their beds and pouring them out en masse from below decks, scrambling to their battle stations as their smooth prow continues to cut the water, tacking a bit to the left in order to make the best time towards the incoming fleet of vessels.
The two forces racing in opposite directions, closing the distance rapidly, had everyone on edge. Everyone seemed primed for combat, and orders to man battle stations were resounding throughout the fleet, men arming with bows and extra hands scaling the masts to assist in sail maneuvers. It was a lone ship, and it was impossible to tell if it was hostile. It seemed being hostile would actually be suicide for a lone ship against so many, but sailors were a superstitious and cautious lot. And whatever it was that was out here had killed quite a number of their countrymen, yet left these Water vermin alone. The sailors from every nation were nearly ready to kill and sink this foreign ship for that reason alone.
Captains aboard the various fleets were giving express orders, and thumping some of their more hotheaded sailors on the head, not to fire first. If it turned out this ship was fleeing from something, or just bringing news, or even a warning, they certainly didn't want to be the nation that ended up causing a war! Not without their Daimyo's orders, at least. After all, a lone ship coming at them? They'd have to be mad to attack!
The distance continues to close until both sides can now make out the other's individual people with the aid of sighting devices, such as telescopes.
Flags continue to fly as a message is passed. The Kirigakure ship was signaling them! The message reads 'Stop and prepare to be searched.' The reaction is near unanimous amongst all captains: "What!? This is international waters, they have no authority here!"
From aboard her ship's command deck, the wielder of Samehada lets a small, mean smile touch her lips as she sees the reply, overhwhelmingly negative, coming in the return signals. She didn't really expect any of the ships to stop, or even to slow down, despite the fact that her own was heading right for them. …But it would have made her job a lot easier if they had.
The situation on each of the ships were growing more tense by the minute as the lone Kirigakure ship would soon turn right towards them and begin sailing directly at them as if they were going to ram the first ship it came into contact with. Those aboard the boats belonging to Sunagakure would be murmuring in excitement over what may come. Except for Hibari of course who really didn't want to resort to violence if she didn't have to.
For the time being, all they could do while messages between captains were exchanged was wait it out until the intentions of the Kirigakure ship were made known. Waiting. She was good at that. Standing at the front of the ship proved a bit difficult for someone who didn't exactly have their sea legs completely down. A bit of a bump in the water and Hibari almost falls overboard! The only thing saving her was her reaction time of grabbing her heavy suitcate to counter her falling forward.
When word spread about that the Kirigakure ship was demanding all ships to stop so that they could be searched, the Tenjin gave off a chuckle. "What could those troublesome miscreants be up to now." she wonders allowed while a few near her raise a brow at calling inhabitants of Kirigakure mere miscreants and not something more.
Mitsuomi scoffed at the request and the reply would have been something alot more vulgar if the guys in charge would have let the choice words be sent. His men were already at battle stations and he was standing with a clear view of the Kirigakure ship. Rigid body focusing his chakra in case it was needed. Kirigakure inhabitants were known to kill first and ask questions never.
"Men ready to open fire. Don't fire off a single round until my signal, but you better not hesitate or I will throw your *** in the ocean myself. Those men are not setting foot on our ship without pain and death. We will make it home unlike those before us."
Upon noticing that the rest of the so-called, "Fleet" is moving, some orders are barked out by the officer who had been contacted earlier and the crew members start moving about, working with the rigging and such as the ship starts to follow suit. Hiyoshi moves up towards the from of the ship and apparently almost starts to grin, before Chika walks up behind him and looks a bit off to the side near him, both looking at the boats and the Kirigakure military vessel up ahead.
An older man then walks up behind them and says, "Daishiro's right you know, you shouldn't be so excited about this." Chika sighs in reaction and says, "I'm not all that excited, but we should be keeping watch for what's going to happen right?" She asks, causing the man to nod and say, "Yes, but I'm not as easygoing when it comes to something like this. It's not a good idea to worry about this mind you, but the implications of what could happen here are massive. We could be looking at the start of a change in the political structure of the world, not to mention the economy of various countries." before he grins and says, "…Nevermind, I'm boring you aren't I?.. Either way, let me know if something happens alright?" and walks off a bit towards the back and sits down on one of the crates on deck, attempting to look somewhat nonchalant but still looking around at the other ships in the group.
Onboard the same ship that Mitsuomi is yelling orders from, there are ninja of Kumogakure of various degrees of skill and experience. With the commotion in the Land of Lightning over the rebellious civilians and their 'mercenary' allies, the shinobi available to attend to matters in other countries is slightly stretched. However, this is not a mere foreign expedition. This mission is meant to ensure that the Land of Lightning itself does not crumble and vanish due to the crippling of their economy and the denial of the import of food, raw materials, manufactured goods, and more by some mysterious sea-going adversary. Genin and Chuunin are both present, but there does not appear to be any Jounin sent on this mission. This is understandable as Jounin are a rare commodity in general. Most Villages will have perhaps a dozen such high-level ninja at most.
So it may come as no surprise to either those onboard nor those able to look upon the Lightning's fleet that their most qualified ninja are still at home or on other tasks abroad. But there >is< a Jounin accompanying the fleet. A slender figure in a black bodysuit, with various pieces of light-weight protective gear in strategic locations that will not greatly impact mobility. This figure is likely female based on general contours, but she has a smooth, featureless, non-reflective black mask on her face and her snow-white hair is bound into a bun and covered with a mesh hood, keeping such details hidden. Further, she is presently clinging to the hull of one of the ships near the water line, and staying hidden with the simple Academy-level technique of using a blanket of sorts that mimics the rest of the environment to appear to be invisible.
The gear she is equipped with, her expertise in the area of stealth, the features hidden behind a mask… This is one of Kumogakure's ANBU, known by some as 'Kamen Raida' (Masked Lightning-capture). Of course, no one else was informed such a covert operative was sent along. That would defeat the purpose. Perhaps the fleet captain may have been told >something<, but this Kumo ANBU operative is here to act as a silent observer. If she needs to take action, she will do so, of course.
Until then, however, she is merely to keep track of what happens and provide a report upon her return. Nagayama Amaya watches the Kirigakure ship approach and hears the commotion about preparing to be searched. There is probably a reason why a lone ship would make such a demand when faced with a combined fleet such as this. Like, say, having a secret advantage…? Moving in a series of near-silent, super-speed leaps and dashes, Amaya relocates to a different ship, and a better vantage point. As much as she would like to pre-emptively find out what the enemy can do before they can do it, she has very >specific< orders.
…Is that one of the Seven Swordsmen down there?
Itami heard the rumors herself, but whether or not they were true she had yet to figure out. Even still, disappearance of trade ships is a concern as some of the wares that come from them do make their way to Sunagakure. When trade is hurt for one, it can be assumed that the rest will be affected as well.
She hadn't much to say on one of Suna's boats, the cool air drew her focus to herself mostly. Luckily, she was bundled up enough to keep it at bay, but there were times where it might get through her clothes and chill her to some degree. Not much seemed to be happening so far, other than signal flags and movements spotted on other ships as people walked back and forth doing whatever they were doing. Keeping watch, maintenance and all that stuff. She didn't know as she had minimal experience with boats and ships.
Its when the call goes out that she lifts her head and looks out. Seems like a Kirigakure vessel has shown up. A military one at that. Inhaling deeply and sighing the breath back out, she lifts herself up from the deck of the ship from her cross legged position and dusts herself off, not without tumbling somewhat. The waters were entirely different from land.
"Looks like trouble…" She hums. The air feels like its getting tense and she doesn't like it. So, everyone is being signaled for an order to be checked. Huh. Where is this going? And how can they do something like this? She grumbles and rubs her head gently. She really doesn't feel like dealing with anything, especially not with the way she was feeling.
It's been so long since he was sent out on a mission. Though Hikan had entrusted him with the twin swords, 'Kiba', Yotsuki Ryuutai feels he is still being kept on a short leash. No matter what authority and responsibility he has been granted after convincing the Mizukage of his loyalties, there will always be suspicions. Ryuutai is thus feeling much more relaxed and even… ENTHUSED by this mission to journey beyond the Land of Water's borders and into the open sea. He is probably still being watched by at least one person — possibly even Kei herself, infact. However, he does not feel as 'stifled' by being restricted to the same general stretch of territory day after day.
War, killing… These are the bloody fruits that Ryuutai was raised upon and nourished by once upon a time. Now he seeks something beyond merely his duty, and beyond what is 'necessary'. Sometimes happiness can be more important than completing the objective given by someone else. This is not a time for happiness, and yet it feels good to be on a ship again.
The dark-skinned man with his short, white hair stands as unobtrusively as possible in whatever passes for shadows aboard the Water Country ship. He is not using special techniques or similar to remain hidden. He is just standing there, without even his paired, pike-like blades drawn, and watches the signals sent from the foreigners. Of course they will not allow a search party to come aboard.
It will be easier for him to justify killing people to himself if the others are fighting back. That is something of a relief. The man keeps his ears tuned to orders from Kei and moves away from the wooden structure he was leaning against, beginning to make his way towards the ship's front. If an attack is launched from even one of those other ships first, he will want to be in place to stop it.
"Captain, digress clockwise."
Apparently the captain of Kei's ship had a mental Kei-speak dictionary handle, for he soon orders the ship to turn hard to starboard, the traditional collision-avoiding direction. Sailors skitter across the crossbeams, turning the triangular sails even as the helmsman turns the rudder and the ship's body begins to react to the change in direction and velocity.
"THEY'RE TURNING AWAY!" The lookout shouts down from the lead ship. Again the message passes like wildfire amongst the sailors, and cheers burst out, as well as quite a few insults about the Kirigakurian's mothers. And sailors had quite a number of imaginative insults! The captains pass signals back and forth, turning their own ships to starboard in order to give the lone ship a wide enough berth that their closest vessel would be out of bowshot.
The Swordswoman lifts a hand from one of her long coat pockets, rubbing slightly at her chin as she frowns. After a moment, she turns towards one of her Research shinobi, giving a curt nod. The male nods his head in return, then begins to focus his chakra, creating a series of seals, and building the levels of his energy…
From out of the pre-dawn sky, seemingly coming from everywhere at once is a deep, rumbling noise. A thrumming humm, almost like a foghorn, but much deeper and less shrill. Samominoryu Kei has already plugged her ears against it heartbeats before it starts. All among the coalition fleet, tiny hairs on the back of everyone's neck begins to stand on end, and in some cases the hairs on the tops of people's head begins to turn frizzy. This would soon come to be known as the 'blast zone'.
A flash is detected far to the east, on the horizon, somewhere beyond line of sight. No sooner is it seen, than what caused it arrives. It's a horrible, blinding, incinerating beam of energy tearing across the surface of the ocean. The fleet doesn't even slow it down as it moves with singular, uncaring purpose. Men and women disintigrate in mere eyeblinks, lives turned into nothing more than a memory. The cloth sails burn away like paper, the wooden hulls splintering, shattering, and burning, the ships directly in its path going to pieces, and then turning to ashes floating in the water. Those caught near the periphery catch flame, sailors going blind by the sheer brilliance of light, flesh being seared, second and third degree burns received as several more ships sails go up in flames.
The fleet has been broken in two by a single beam of power, almost a fourth of the total ships gone in mere seconds. Panic breaks out, training taking over as men fight fires and others leap overboard in agony to try and squelch their seared flesh. The Kirigakure ship keeps moving on its course, untouched, as if it intended to bypass the lumbering, panicing fleet completely.
Captains try to regain control of their men, mostly successful on the military vessels thanks to training, not so fortunate on the merchantmen, most of which were lost in the initial blast, having been huddled near the center of the mass of ships. Men and women are frightened, shouting conflicting orders, some wanting to fight, not knowing what to strike at, others wanting to run. Ships begin turning in different directions, some trying to flee, others trying to avoid those turning into their paths.
And through it all, Kei begins laughing.
The rocking of the ship from the blast almost sent Mitsuomi clean over the railing and into the drink. He turned to look at the crew and see who was okay when a mast snapped and was coming down right towards him and several shaken crew members. His chakra surged as he stepped up in the way of the monstrous tower of wood coming down and reached up to catch it befoe it pancaked several crew members.
Luck was on his side at the moment as his muscles and chakra held up under the weight and he managed to hold it off for others to move the crew members before even he had to set it down with an unceremonious crash. The crew looked to him as he continued to look around. That was one hell of a surprise workout. Even if this ship survived another blast it wouldn't be long until they were picked off.
"All hand to damage control. Battle doesn't mean **** if we can't get our ***es to even limp home. Get the wounded walking, get the fires out, and get the water back on the outside of the boat! Me…I'mma get ready to sink those slimey son's a *****es if another volley comes this way. Take those b******s down to the depths with us!"
Weird jutsu, deadly weapons, and even Tailed Beasts… Amaya has witnessed or dealt with all of these. She did not combat any Bijuu herself, but she knows they are extremely destructive — akin to forces of nature rather than any enemy that even ten-thousand ninja could be expected to face and >survive<. Winning is not even an option against those >things<. The attack just levelled against the amassed fleets reminds her of the power possessed by a Tailed Beast. Retreating seems like the best option right now, as she can't even >see< what attacked them, but it can obviously attack >them< with impunity. However, these ships are not exactly going to just get up on their hindlegs and dash across the water. They are far too slow. If the source of this searing heat, the blinding light, and all this death and destruction does not have a delay between when it attacks first and when it attacks for the second time, then they will be wiped out long before they can reach even a facsimile of safety.
The Kumo ANBU suddenly just appears next to Mitsuomi, resolving from a flicker of movement. She barely takes the time to introduce herself in her mask-disguised voice. "Operative 'Hakke' of Kumogakure ANBU." A second later, she calls out, "Order crew members to launch flares to get the attention of the remaining ship captains and then to signal a retreat. If you have a high-force, repeatable technique, then I need you to help me provide all of the survivors with cover."
An immense blaze of golden energy rises up from the ANBU operative then, tearing straight upwards into the sky for about forty-feet. It takes the shape of a man in both robes and armor, with two brilliantly-shining eyes. The Ki engulfs Amaya and then descends to cling more closely to her body as she pulls Sarutohiko's Shroud tight about her. "Aim for the >water only< and try to block line-of-sight by any means possible," she calls out one last instruction before she leaps off the ship and down to the ocean…
The moment her foot touches the water, Amaya is gone. In her place a streak like a living ray of sunlight begins tearing back and forth and all over the place along the water's surface, likely generating towering waves and geysers as she runs and strikes the sea water with all her speed and all her control over Ki. No time to stop and punch. She just has to use her Shroud to do the punching for her. She really hopes that the near-tidal-waves she is producing all over the place are hiding them from whatever is shooting at them… And the Kirigakure ship too. She doubts they had nothing to do with this, but even if they are innocent of attacking, finishing off a wounded opponent is very much in their nature.
It seems the plan for search didn't go through. Naturally, the ships didn't agree to have their vessels searched in these waters, but that was of the least importance now. The Kirigakure ship began to turn which meant that Itami was going to feel the pull of the ship she was on as it began to give room along with the others for the military vessel. She walked over to a mast and clutched it, closing her eyes to minimize feeling dizzy. The hum that came over the air was mistaken for ships, but as it grew louder, there was some concern for whatever it was.
She opened her eyes to look around and from the east, something flickered for but a moment and a bright flash took over. She closed her eyes, but even still the light was strong enough to penetrate her lids, so she lifted her arm to give more protection. This beam carried a great amount of heat, whatever it was, and she could feel it from where she was. When she opened her eyes, wincing somewhat while in recovery, the picture still came out pretty clear. A number of ships were blasted away and turned to ash along with the people aboard. What /was/ that light?! No matter, panic was afoot and their boats were rocking widly.
Suna's vessels already began the process of signaling to one another to begin turning around, but had trouble trying to relay the message as they each were attempting to regain control of their ships. People fell overboard and needed rescue, but of those some, few took it upon themselves to begin swimming to what they thought was safety. Itami began to feel sick, but the thought of that beam coming back was an even more overwhelming thought, so it kept her stomach from going nuts.
Seeing as how some flags were dropped, this was going to make for a difficult escape, but she was determined to get out of here. She began to shout at some of the sailors to toss out some rope and get the victims out of the water while directing others to pick up the dropped flags and be prepared for more signaling. Others went to get flares to fire off. These ships were going to turn around and head out of here. "Make this quick! Maintain your balance at the rails and get those people rescued!!" She pointed out to the others, "Pick up the flags and prepare to signal!"
Letting go of the mast, she then looked east. Who could have shot that thing off and how did they acquire something so powerful?
Ryuutai notes that they are turning away and that the other ships are doing likewise and keeping a healthy distance between the two 'sides' to avoid any 'accidents' such as putting cannon fire into each other. Well, that's nice. There are already crew at battle stations on some of those ships. They outnumber the single Water Country ship by a lot, and those other countries have good reason to not like Kirigakure. They might decide to wipe out this lone ship regardless of other factors. 'Just to be sure', maybe. But really, it would be more like, 'because you have attacked and killed our people more than once and we just do not like you'.
They could do that. Make sure there are no survivors, and deny all responsibility… Maybe even claim it was pirates and they came along after the fact. All sorts of things are possible. But no ships seems to be gunning for any other quite yet, so Ryuutai plugs his ears as instructed in advance and turns away for the same reason. The hideously powerful beam of light comes from the east, and even with not being the target of the weapon, he can feel the heat like a whip as it snaps across any and all exposed skin, and even through his clothing and armor. In contrast to the chill of the sea, it is enough to make him inhale suddenly in surprise.
Other than that, the dark-skinned Jounin does not react — not even to the screams of pain that echo across the water after the beam ceases. Fire, smoke, the scent of charred flesh, the steam rising from the boiling ocean, the obvious confusion and chaos of the victims… This would be an ideal time to strike an enemy if he were on the battlefield and he was meant to attack. He sees now, however, that he is NOT meant to attack right now.
Picking off the enemies with no way to defend themselves, no chance of survival, no way to fight back… And neither he nor his allies is lifting a finger. Honor is not a concept that Ryuutai pays much heed to. He still feels there is something wrong about this method of fighting, however. It feels wrong to simply stand by and watch. It feels like even a ninja such as he is 'obsolete' next to that ray of death.
'What will happen if more are built?' he wonders silently. 'Will ninja be replaced?'
Ryuutai observes the column of golden light that resembles some sort of… Giant or kami of some kind… It disappears a moment later, into the dense smoke, and then a streak of gold blazes across the ocean so quickly that even a speed-based swordsman such as himself has trouble recognizing where it was three seconds ago, let alone where it is NOW. It is remarkably fast… Very impressive. The walls of water that rise up between the wounded fleet and the Kirigakure ship obscure his view of the other side, but Ryuutai does not try to stop the mysterious light. If it is a kami, mortal, or something other, Kei will be the one who will give the order if he is to act.
Ryuutai observes the display of speed and power a bit… Sadly. Such amazing ability and such a valiant effort… But what good is it? Will ANY ninja be any good in the future? He almost hopes for an excuse to 'defend' the ship just so he can make at least a token effort to prove his worth.
The leader of the Kirigakure forces aboard ship cackles with glee as the first of her handiwork finishes, watching her 'toys' light up the enemy ships like a bonfire over water. Even from this distance she can hear the screaming and smell the odor of burning wood upon the wind. It's been done already, and save for herself or one of her shinobi cancelling what has transpired, there would be no stopping what has started. Those ships will be destroyed and all aboard them will either perish in the ensuing carnage, or from exposure when they are left out here in the middle of the waves t die. To defeat an enemy so utterly was one of Kei's true delights in life.
The Kirigakure ship continues to sail on under full power, her crew at the ready to repel attacks. Many of them are cheering and jeering at the misfortune of the combined fleet of the assorted nations. Kei's ship is rapidly withdrawing out of easy engagement range, especially for ship-borne pursuit!
The fleet is in chaos. Everywhere one looks about the center mass of the vessels, people were dying. Few ships dared to stop and help those who were overboard. But one ship was signaling something different from all the others, a single word over and over.
Slowly, the several other ships begin to signal the same, as an acknowledgement and to spread the message. Ships are not runners, however, and are slow to respond, with a large, unwieldly turn radius. The sole surviving merchantman, a ship from the Land of Fire, strikes its flags, hoping that surrender would save it. As cumbersome as it was with a hold full of goods, running would be futile, and any who stayed behind would fall victim to the same slow speed should they try to save her.
But the lone shinobi out there causing geysers has caught Kei's attention, even as another thrum begins to fill the air. It's not yet as loud as the first, but it is gaining in both volume and strength, causing the small hairs on the back of one's neck to prickle. Whatever it was was clearly getting ready to discharge again! And judging by the panic among the enemy, every one of them knew it.
The swordswoman turns to the swordsman on the command deck with her, one finger singling out Amaya, who for all intents and purposes seemed to be literally flying about causing small explosions of water, obscuring her view of the happenings. Judging from the dark-haired woman's expression, this didn't please her.
"Be accessible to impede the obtruder. She may be remodeled as a quandry."
Mitsuomi barely looked aside to the ANBU operative. He had a better idea for his target with his blasts, but an order was an order. There was little choice left in what to do if he wanted to stay alive and keep his rank. He turned and snarled to the men. "Get the damn flares up in the air, and signal every other ship out that that we are at full speed retreat to the nearest harbor not in the seas around the Land of Water for emergency repairs! Also signal any shinobi to ready their strongest ranged jutsu to be used as cover fire aimed in the direction of the blast!"
With that Mitsuomi grabbed some heavy chains and latched himself to the ship. Most would see this as suicidal, but he saw it as a safety precaution for the others. His body began to bulge as he stood there. The slack of the chains filling in as his flesh began to crawl. His nerves began to rise up like slithering serpents the size of steel cables under his flesh. The mind of a man was fadding into the darkness and raw power was surging forth.
Those familiar with his nickname understood the premise of this power. He sacrificed his mind for his body. In this stage the name of 'Double Impact' was well earned. A feeling of dread rang out over the crew as they began to file in to make those orders happen. Best not to anger him in this state or they might end up dead without him even realizing it.
Mitsuomi too his form as his chakra began to channel through his body in a tight coil forced along gaining speed and power by his muscle tension. Then with a single outward punch a visible auger of chakra shot from his fist causing waves to rise in its wake before it slamed into the water creating a monsterous gyser from the impact. He hit the water close enough to the Kiri ship to scare it but not even close enough to be considered a warning shot. His intentions were to distract and disrupt without making it seem like he was even attempting to start a war. In only a moment he was ready and firing again with another punch into the water with similar effects just farther from the Kirigakure ship. He only had about a dozen and a half of these left in him, but they would have to do for now.
Her technique is eating away at her very life as long as she uses it. Amaya can feel her grasp on life becoming more strained even as she moves like some insane micro-sun that has decided to go water-skiing. It hurts.
But then she realizes the beam is getting ready to fire again! That humming noise… Amaya can't let more people die! Maybe she wasn't told to get involved, but she knows damn well that it is up to the discretion of the agent on-site as to how much to change a mission's parameters based on new data. And right now, getting the information she has gathered back to the leadership takes a second place to ensuring as many of her countrymen as possible survive to do the same. If she can save those of other countries too, then great. Lightning comes first, however…
And the fact that the death ray thing is about to lash out again while some psycho laughs her head off on the lone Land of Water ship present indicates that the source of the attack is either willing to shoot blind or it's not blind at all, even with the tidal waves that the ANBU operative is creating. 'Kusou!' she swears mentally. There has to be >something< she can do… Idealism is no longer part of her life. It hasn't been for years now. But that doesn't mean she will give up without trying >every< plausible solution.
Well, there's one solution she hasn't tried yet.
Suddenly, the darting light is gone. The water gradually descends, the 'aqua curtain' revealing whatever state the ships remain in and how far they may have gotten away before the obscuring barrier went away. But why did it go away? And where did that golden light go?
The rather unpleasant answer may arrive momentarily as Kei's ship might come to an abrupt and jarring stop. It would almost be as though the vessel at run aground! But there's no ground out here. Just one glowing woman in a mask, trying to dig her clawed fingertips into the Land of Water-aligned ship as she stands on the water, and tries to lift or pull it towards the rest of the fleet!
She doesn't know for certain that Kirigakure is to blame, but trusting them to be innocent is not on her agenda. Pulling them within range of all those >cannons<, on the other hand, seems like a >marvelous< idea.
If the Raikage has a complaint about the method employed in saving Land of Lightning merchants, citizens, and ninja when she gets home, Operative 'Hakke' will be more than happy to listen.
Right now, however, Amaya is turning her own life force into strength to try to drag the only obvious enemy away from the safety they may have assumed was provided by 'distance'.
The ships continue to turn about, attempting to get out of here. The flares have already been fired and they're beginning to stabilize themselves and head back from where they came. A long, slow, dizzying, and enduring process, this one was. Itami was not used to ships, this much was certain, but the adrenaline pumping through her veins thought otherwise and she was doing surprisingly well running across the deck while it was still rocking.
More began to swim towards Suna's vessels since the ropes were tossed out and so the effort of saving people turned into a task as well as chore. In order to help out, the councilwoman utilized windy updrafts to give lift to the people and have them collected onto the ship to speed up the process. Other than the few still swimming towards the boat, the rest were dead bodies, charred remains, ash and a number of other things.
A call went out from the lead ship that they were sailing off and the others began to signal to one another and follow suit. Full power was given to the engines to get out of here as fast as they could. That hum was in the air once more and this time, the rest knew to cover their ears and hope that they wouldn't be the next victims.
A glint of light seems to flash in the air every so often and igniting panic, but when its realized that this is something else other than the beam, the people on her ship resume their focus on moving out. That other light was something else entirely. Something helpful. Time to get out of here. That beam was going to make another shot soon. Kiri's vessel was of no concern at the moment. The safe return of Sunagakure's ships and those on them were of the utmost importance to Itami right now and she made sure the signals kept coming to ensure they were all together in heading out. Some suspicion arises as she feels there might be something amiss. Something about this all seems sour. She heads towards the stern, ears plugged and eyes both towards the east as well as towards the military ship.
Ryuutai acknowledges the command from Kei, as thick as the vocabulary used may be, and draws the lightning-imbued swords he has been granted to use in the defense of Kirigakure. The light vanishes. The waves fall away slowly, leaving a heavy mist and salt spray in the air that casts a prismatic 'rainbow' between the ship Ryuutai stands upon and the enemies on the other side. Something so beautiful hanging suspended there during such an ugly and violent battle such as this seems nearly 'rude' or 'disrespectful' to the warrior. But he will take up his concerns over the misuse of rainbows when he meets Kami-sama himself. Right now, he's still alive and able to fight.
The violent LURCHING of the ship as it comes to a total halt with no warning seems to be the indicator that it is time for Ryuutai to make himself useful. After recovering from the brief loss of balance, the dark-skinned man dashes to the rail and attempts to determine what is responsible for this cessation of movement. The shining golden light down by the water is probably a clue.
A few moments later, the mysterious woman who is wearing a mask and glowing with a golden aura but is probably not 'the Great Saiya-Woman' or anything may receive an unwelcome surprise in the form of Ryuutai landing a short distance away from her upon the water, and giving only one warning WHILE he is in the process of dashing at her and trying to slice open her side. "Leave or die," he orders. He will offer no more chances and he will not wait for agreement or refusal before engaging in combat. If she plans to leave, a wound will just be ADDED incentive to do so. If she plans to stay and fight, it would be foolish to give up the advantage of a first strike.
Something unpleasant that the ANBU may notice, however, if she is struck with one of those blades… The sword seems to be able to pass through flesh as though it were wet paper. It can slice through flesh, bone, and armor, and leave only a staticky crackling in the air in its wake. Electricity sparks across the metal's surface regardless, perhaps offering an indication of what is being wielded.
The flares, the flags, the panic and desire to GET THE FREAK OUT OF THERE, it all points towards one thing: full-on, unorderly and inglorious retreat. The vessels are scattering as they turn to flee, attempting to put as much distance between themselves as possible while doing so, to minimize the damage a single shot can do, for they had already seen what happens when that terrible beam hits them in a cluster.
The humming is reaching a crescendo even as the Kirigakurian's ship is halted, causing many to stumble and lose their footing. Several fall from the masts overhead, screaming into the ocean. One is unlucky enough to land on the deck. He does not live to regret his unluck.
Kei stumbles a single step, her hands lurching out to the sides for balance, using her captain to retain her own footing. It sends the captain to the floor, unlucky guy that he is. But he's back on his feet soon enough, and so is Kei, even as she holds up her hand. An enormous sword, almost ridiculously huge appears in her hand in a cloud of smoke, though it's wrapped up in so many bandages that it almost looks like a ridiculous popsicle.
Samehada, the sentient sword, takes absolutely zero time in homing in on the ANBU operative's presence, as she wasn't even making an effort to hide her presence. But her chakra output was abysmally dismal, and the sword was all too eager to want to feed off of Ryuutai's energy. Or even Kei's own. With an imperitave mental command, she conquers the sword's will and silences it for the moment. For now, the other swordsman would handle the danger, and she would keep her hands neat and clean.
And then the humming stops. Another bright flash on the horizon, just like the one before, followed a split-second later by the lightning-fast beam of energy which strikes the surrendered and floundering merchant ship full on. The ship falls to pieces, and then the beam coming across the horizon and cutting the ocean SHIFTS ITS AIM, snaking across the ocean and striking one, then another, and then shifting direction and hitting a fourth ship before vanishing! Four is a lot fewer than what it had hit before, but was still a hefty loss, the ships tearing apart in a flaming mess as if someone had taken a match to a piece of paper.
If the ships can only stay away from each and keep sailing at full speed, some of them may seem likely to escape! And now Samominoryu Kei wasn't laughing anymore.
'Hakke' is holding onto the ship with all of her strength. The Earthly Deity's Aura is not specifically geared towards enhancing physical strength, but it does provide its user with both a >lot< of extra energy in the form of Fierce Ki (Geki), which Fierce Beast Kemonoken use… And enhanced control over that Geki. Thus, Amaya may be using a small amount of Chakra to stand on the water, but the thing that Ki is best at is physical enhancement or alteration. Maybe one can not ensnare an opponent's mind in an illusion with Ki, and maybe one can not conjure swords from paper or spit fireballs or a host of other things that Chakra can… But supplementing her own natural strength with Ki is very much within the realm of possibility.
Amaya is pulling a very heavy vessel backwards gradually, towards that beam that she felt the heat lash from as it destroyed more ships. She doesn't turn to see how many were lost. She hopes it was not many, but her focus must remain on the only enemy she can see — the only enemy she can >blame< and >strike at< right now. If it turns out she was wrong later, there will be hell to pay. Right now, she is not going to waste time doubting her own judgement.
She can't exactly attack an absurdly far away death-ray right now, and this Kirigakure ship is >right here<. What else is she going to do!? It's better than just standing around and feeling helpless!
Then her enhanced reaction time and naturally sharp senses allow her to notice not only a sudden arrival to her left by some man with two swords, but also to perceive him looking at her, judging her to be a target, and then dashing towards her while his mouth moves to match his words. It all seems to be happening in slow motion to her. She could probably dodge him as he tries to slash at her. She would have to let go, however… So instead of using her phenomenal speed to dodge, she pours more of the 'bonus' Ki she received — even as it rapidly dwindles — into a >different< form of defense.
A large, golden sphere of energy expands from Amaya. It >blocks< the strike with one of the Kiba blades — but worryingly, even the densified Ki seems to show signs of being damaged by that slash. However, as Amaya is still right there at the base of the ship, when that sphere appears, it seperates her grip from the vessel and acts as a barrier between woman and sea-going transport. The Aura Sphere technique thus may result in >shoving< the Kirigakure ship away — back along its original course, though quite abruptly and forcefully. More balance issues on board, likely… But Amaya no longer has her claws dug into the hull, >and< there is this guy with two impossibly-sharp swords and electricity who seems to be intent on stopping her.
The intelligence she has access to in regard to Kirigakure indicates this is likely only one man and one pair of swords. Yotsuki Ryuutai and Kiba are not on Amaya's 'be nice to' or 'get hit by' lists. Traitors are, infact, one of the few categories of people she tends to hit first and ask questions later about.
She would >really< love to pound the man before her into a bloody heap, and let those swords sink to the bottom of the ocean. But saving lives is more important than taking lives. That's what she tells herself mentally, over and over, to justify slamming her fist, encased in Sarutohiko's Shroud, into the Land of Water ship as hard as she can, trying to breach the hull. That will leave her open to retaliation from Ryuutai or anyone else on board, but if steps are taken to repair that hole and keep the ship from sinking, then hopefully these jerks will be too busy to stop her from retreating and doing what she can to help the still-fleeing vessels in getting away.
The signaling continued on Suna's vessels as they made their way away from the area of the beam. They felt they were in the clear and they wouldn't have to worry about the beam, but that good feeling doesn't last long as the beam returns, striking at some of the remaining ships in its range or perceived range. As it snaked across the water, more people began to panic, but their worries would be cast off in a flash of light. The beam managed to catch one of the ships under Suna's care and was gone before anyone could react to it.
Some cries could be heard from people that were splashing around in the water, debris falling from pieces of the ship that managed to survive the shot, but were now collapsing without proper support. It was a horrible sight and there was no way to go back and retrieve them. The beam wasn't stationary as it was assumed to be, but could actually move. Itami as well as everyone else found this distressing. How does someone beat something like that?
Bracing herself for more rocking as the water sloshes around having been upset by the beam, she grabs hold of the railing and holds on tightly, attempting to focus her sight on the Kiri vessel. Unlike the beam, it seemed to be stationary for a small time before continuing forward after an orb of light grew from the base of the ship. There was much to discuss when she returned to Suna. If they got there, that is. With a beam like that, there didn't seem to be any high hopes for return, but they were going to try their best to get back.
Once the ship is released, physics take hold of it once more, wind and waves propelling the lurching wooden construct onwards, once more causing those upon it to stumble. This time, with chakra focused at the soles of her feet, Kei does not come close to falling. Instead, she watches as the pair of dueling warriors fall behind… until the enemy breaks off and moves towards the ship once more. The swordswoman isn't aware that she means to attack the ship, but probably just grab and rend it, or whatever else she had planned. Either way, her free hand shoots forward, a snap of her fingers as her chakra wells up within her…
And a large seal appears on the back of the ship, creating a protective barrier when the masked woman strikes at it. She had underestimated the strength behind the blow, however, and the barrier cracks upon impact, giving way where the fist strikes. Wood splinters and shatters inwards, though the barrier had managed to stop a potentially-colossal hole from forming, and the resulting depreciation of her ship is much more manageable, mitigated to the point where it will not sink the ship. At least not right away, meaning there was time to save themselves.
Another snap of the fingers and a surge of chakra, and another seal appears over the water, nearly as large as Amaya herself and right in front of her. And it's one most shinobi would recognize!
Swordswoman Kei would never know if her hastily-created explosive seal injured the ship's attacker, as the resulting large explosion also served the dual purpose of propelling the ship even farther away! …Though it also damaged it a bit more. What was left of the barrier managed to stop most of that. The ship is soon leaving both Amaya and Ryuutai behind, apparently unconcerned with whether he would catch up or not. Perhaps they had faith in his ability to catch up to them.
The beam fires several more times as the ships continue their retreat, though with the distance between each ship growing as they spread out as much as possible, heading with all speed towards the west, the number it catches with each shot is fewer. In the end, almost half of the multi-national fleet makes it ashore in the Land of Fire, where they are met by military personnel who tend to the wounded regardless of nationality. Far more survived than anyone would have thought possible thanks to the intervention and quick-thinking of shinobi, but, unable to travel by sea, they have only a long walk home to look forward to.
For the shinobi who survived, however, they also carry news and eye-witness accounts of a most terrible new weapon wielded by the Land of Water with impunity, as well as valid testimony that the war criminal Samominoryu and the Swordsman Ryuutai were involved. What is done with this information in the coming days remains to be seen, but right now the seas remain the unchallenged domain of Kirigakure and their subjects.