Date: October 21, 2016
Meruin takes Kitaru on a lone mission in the infamous blood marshes. The foray turns out to be more test than mission.
"Dismantling Obstacles pt 1"
Blood Marsh — Within the Mists
"So how do we approach..?"
Meruin crouches at the end of a field of tall, crimson reeds that surrounds a floating base of operations. Before him in the clearing of reeds is a huge wooden construct — what some might call a fortress — floating atop the two feet of swamp water. It appeared to contain rough looking people that were scraping out an ordered living here. All were clothed, though not heavily or prettily. Guards manned the outside, standing atop a lightly bobbing platform that wrapped around the fort. There was one for each side. In addition, at the top of the fort's outer walls stood two more guards, both of them overlooking two sides and those two guards on the ground, as well as maintaining a higher perspective.
The Okumo turned to look at the boy beside him. Doihara Kitaru, now a genin, and the only person he'd brought with him to accomplish this mission: Dismantle that fort and kill those within it.
Meruin arched a brow.
Kitaru followed Meruin's lead to get close. His 'sphere' now henged as a backpack on his back, he crouched low, studying the fort. He was quite for a few moments, although that familiar sense of calculation akin to a certain father was definitely there. Finally, Kitaru would nod slightly. "The Sphere can be a battering ram. The best way to avoid initial contact is a distraction. They're floating. I suspect they don't think something will come from below. The puppet busts through the bottom, creating an immediate hole they have to deal with. Draws attention inward. That gives me the opening to hit as much as I can with genjutsu." Kitaru finally looks from the fort to Meruin. "From there, the puppet inside has senbon guns to remove people and I'm sure that will be plenty of opening needed for you to enter and remove them. Hai?"
Meruin seemed to have wrapped the entirety of his attention around Kitaru, waiting for and listening to his explanation from within the void of still silence. After he received it, he gave a nod of acknowledgement. "A good plan," he spoke. "Well thought out for the time that you had to think of it, considering both your own position and the likely one of your enemy's. The only flaw is your partial reliance on me.
"I don't plan on taking a single soul today. This is your mission."
Meruin's chin rose slightly. "So take one more look at your options. The plan you decide is the plan you enact. And remember, you do not have to have all of the answers, young Doihara. It is far more important that you have the correct questions. And if you do, you may ask me of them." The man looked back to the expansive fort, craning his neck slightly to look to the top whereupon the guards stood.
"I will wait. Be swift, but do not hurry."
Kitaru raises a brow, then simply nods, accepting the statement. Parameters of a mission change in the field quite often. "hai. If I am to do it then I need that high position." He looks up at it with a frown, then glances around. "I understand now why I'm here, Mizukage. This is another test." Nodding slightly, Kitaru would shift his pack off and unhenge the Sphere. With that, he'd study it a second, nod and send it skittering off. "Without your support I have to provide my own. However, that is not too difficult if properly prepared. I believe I can set a wide enough field of fire that after the initial strike from within, those escaping will be caught." Kitaru watches the Sphere vanish off into the reeds. "That tower is going to be a problem. Taking it down, however, may not be as difficult. I believe I should alter where the Sphere comes up to under the tower leg. Add to the destruction of the fort as well as help the body count."
Kitaru looks back to Meruin with a small nod. "The difficulty at times with having the right question, is knowing there should be a question asked. As such, my question, Mizukage, is what question would be of the most assistance to me in this situation, to ask you?"
"Question everything, young one," spoke Meruin quietly. He looked to Kitaru, saying, "If there is anything that the recent tragedy of the Hatsu and Storm Brigade should teach you, it is that. It is not that trust should never be offered, but it must be questioned and considered."
He turned his gaze back to the fore, "When approaching any difficulty, your first question should always be 'What are the obstacles in my way?' There are always some that make themselves very clear, but there are often some that pass unacknowledged. Once you have your list of obstacles, you must then ask yourself, 'How can I turn these obstacles into advantages? During confrontation, in what ways can I turn my oppoonent's advantages into their downfall?'"
Meruin jerks her chin towards the fort, the motion sharp but subdued. "We have a very large fort ahead of us, made of sturdy wood. It's surrounded by swampland and floating atop water. It's guarded on all sides as well as partially from above. We do not know precisely what the inside of the fort looks like, or where its occupants are.
"How shall we turn these obstacles on their heads?"
Kitaru pauses for a long moment at Meruin's statement. His attention returns to the fort as the Sphere comes skimming back to them from the other side. Pulling it in close, he'd check it real quick by popping open one of the panels silently. "Trust.. can be difficult to give, to start with. Papa-san trusts almost no one. I have tried and have been hampered. I will keep it in mind, Mizukage." The puppet closed after the check, he nods slightly looking at the fort. "It's floating. So a disruption of the water could cause uneven surface and make it hard to fight or stand within. Holes in the flooring causes flooding, disrupting footing. There is no easy evacuation point. I just ringed the fort with bundles of senbon tied to explosive tags. They set it off and it will be antipersonel." Frowning, Kitaru studies the fort. "The stilts are keeping it up. Taking out two of them on one side will cause the initial disruption. Or better taking them both out at the same time." Kitaru mused as he'd look at the Sphere. "Wire. But that'll have to be part of the attack.. it'll still have leaking if I strike the center." Nodding slgihtly, Kitaru looks back to the fort. "I have cut off their escape. I have a way to turn their floating against them. I know my initial strike. Attempting to plan further based off information given would be pointless until I know what's within."
Meruin only inclined his head at the words Kitaru spoke, gaze turning to the nearest guard. There was a sense to him of resolution and, perhaps… approval? It would be hard to say. Whatever the case, having come to this point, there is only one way to go from here.
"You have your plan. Make it so."
Kitaru would move at Meruin's command. The sphere went under, wire trailing out thinly from behind it as it'd duck into the water to almost scrape the bottom. The ninja wire was wrapped about each of the stilts at the base, giving a pull inward on them. Once this was done, the sphere would come up as close as Kitaru can figure to being under that tower, the tools within it put to work as one of the blades comes out and is converted into a drill, letting it burrow upward and into the fort. Kitaru watches for when this happens and casts his net as wide as he can. The solemn moment. The stillness for all those in his sight and as soon as he watches it take hold, he's on the run, heading for the fort and that wall to get upward. He needed height and a view. The wall had both and would allow the killing to begin.
Meruin saw it happen. The shift — the loss in movement or attention coming over the guards that he could see directly from their corner of the fort, both the two on the ground and the one overtop. He nodded after the dashing Kitaru, sparking chakra within his brain and beginning to follow directly behind him. He would not interfere, all according to plan, but he would be a close watcher.
The genin's plan was underway.
As soon as the Sphere broke through, it'd pull, the wires being shinobi wire would cut through wood, especially when set up as they were, rendering the stilts into nothing more than kindling. Kitaru was already using tree walking up the wall so wouldn't truly be affected. Once to the top of the wall, Kitaru briefly used his Bracer, the puppet expanding out to shadow his hand as a senbon would be used to end those guards within range. His focus turned within as the Sphere, having probably been noted now, would pop open it's own side and unload with that senbon mini-gun.
The stilts provide resistance to the shinobi wire entrapping them, standing firm against the pressure mounted against them. But only for a moment. After it passed, they did indeed burst apart, well weakened by all of their time spent immersed in swamp water. All of the stilts that were holding up enough of the fort that the rest could be held up by floatation were gone…
So the fort fell those two feet… and -kept falling-. Once the fort hit the swampland floor with a shaking, roaring crash, the water beneath it very swiftly started swallowing it up. It seems that, by chance, the Blood Marsh dwellers had crafted their fort over a sinkhole to be. And there was no time to escape it.
When the fort crashed down, the water swiftly entered the fort itself, and once it drained down the hole it dragged Sphere down with it. Within two seconds, it had vanished within a hole in the ground, the bodies of a pair of guards only floating down into it afterwards.
A slight scowl on his face, Meruin leapt into it and after Doihara Kitaru. That boy had better be alive.