Date: October 28, 2016
Kitaru continues his mission within the blood marshes, watched over by Okumo Meruin. Fortune both favors and spurns the boy at turns, leaving him narrowly avoiding fell encounters but not always landing in ideal conditions afterwards.
Poster's note: foul language filtered in obvious places.
"Dismantling Obstacles pt 2"
Blood Marsh — Within the Mists
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 flotation 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.
Kitaru had to pull, hard, to get the puppet to cut the stilts. So he was actually atop the wall and just on it's inside when they finally gave away with that shudder. The puppet pops up.. and chaos breaks loose. Kitaru's eyes widen as the whole place, him with it, sinks.. and keeps going. The puppet is sucked under but that doesn't break those threads. No, it just pulls harder on Kitaru, who's struggling with his tools more than dealing with people.
Fortunately.. or un, depending on who's side you're on, they all go down. The people, the fort, all of it sucked into the maw that is the blood marsh. Kitaru, pulling up, finally gets a response he wants and with a SPLASH is into the water with the rest of them. It's enough time for Meruin to leap into the water, to spy the one distinctly in that suit coming.. up? There's definitely something odd, the whole thing looks eerie even in the water, his suit looks filled with air and he's got his head two-thirds of the way into the Sphere. But up he comes, potentially even passing Meruin on his way down as he'd bob to the surface, then climb onto the water, panting heavily.
Meruin cut through the water like a javelin, his travel an assault that brooked no resistance. He sped right past the circular blob moving in the other direction through the murky waters, only splaying limbs allowing him to arrest himself before he got too far away. A heartbeat passed before he swam back upwards towards the surface, arms by his side as his legs and the twisting of his body brought the spare light back into clear view.
The sphere consumed Kitaru would come to find Meruin rising from the water as though raised upon a platform, his gaze examining. The Yondaime Mizukage gave the boy a once over, foregoing the courtesy of hiding his scrutiny. After a moment, standing before the boy, he dipped his head.
"Quite resourceful," he commented. Praise.
He turned his gaze upwards, where the entrance to the huge sinkhole stood, water still falling down. Water had filled it up partially, but had not made it all the way to the surface. Indeed, that surface still seemed quite a ways away.
"Now," he murmured, "We simply have to survive the trip home."
Ripples coursed through the water they stood on, riding a deep tremor…
Kitaru, soaking wet gets to that surface to release his head from the Sphere with a shudder and gasp. He's going to have to work on that aspect of the sphere, that's for sure! Checking himself to make sure he's ok, he stops and stares as Meruin emerges from the depths like a demon raising to the surface of the pitch black death below. The Sphere hisses softly as it exchanges air while Kitaru watches Meruin curiously. The praise earns a brief smile and a small nod. "Thank you, Mizukage." Looking upward as well, Kitaru nods slightly and would move. A motion and the Sphere is off again, skimming and then bouncing off the water surface, it'd find a column of water still coming down and roll up it. Skimming that surface to maintain the chakra contact for water walking, it goes as fast as Kitaru can push it up there, trying to get into range of the edge. Getting close, there would be points on all four sides of the Sphere that pops open, from within kunai blades, dry even after the submersion, are launched outward, wires trailing behind them as the launching attempts to bury the shots into the walls as deep as possible. Kitaru would line the Sphere up with the center of the opening if possible before two more shots would get launched downward for boy and leader to climb up.
Meruin stood still as he watched Kitaru utilize his puppet-extended chakra for water walking, seeing Sphere shoot up the thin waterfall like it was horizontal terrain most of the way to the top. The redeployment of wire-tethered kunai drew a nod from him, even before they each embedded themselves in the earth at the top, leaving Sphere a spider in the center of their exit.
"As well as extremely prepared," spoke Meruin, looking back down to the boy as more wire was launched down their way. "I would say your preparation is your greatest strength, so always be sure you are nurturing it as extensively as possible." The climbing lines plunged into the water beside them and he mused, "You act nearly as if you have been here before. It is candidly impressive."
"However… You could stand to pay a little more attention."
An explosion rang out nearby as water sprayed into the air from the side, marking the emergence of a dimly lit beast as it affixed itself to the ceiling above. The light from above revealed it to be a furry, six-legged animal but it moved too swiftly for very precise detail.
And that speed it had? It was using it to escape the now flooded cavern, plowing -right- through Sphere, the kunai tethers holding onto the land but that earth falling apart around them. They were well affixed, but who could say whether or not their surroundings would have been secure enough to support their body weights.
Regardless, the unidentified beast quickly scrabbled out of the den, Sphere attached to its head, earth enwrapped tethers tangling around it. "I would grab hold," said Meruin, his gaze still on Kitaru as he reached out to the side. His fingers wrapped around the rapidly vanishing line riding with Sphere, his body immediately launching skywards as he did so.
Kitaru glances to Meruin and flashes a brief smile. Nodding slightly. Then Meruin mentions the attention as the whatzit comes exploding out of the water to get free. Timber. Kitaru has a brief war with his chakra and the water to keep upright, Meruin of course able to grab the water. Kitaru's arm comes up and that Bracer engages, shadowing his hand as it's chain linked kunai is shot out. Kitaru is controlling both ends via chakra threads, so it's not hard for him to get it to hook onto the second line from Sphere that was on it's own way out. Pulled ever upward, the Bracer reels in Kitaru. "I have not, Mizukage. I simply do the best with what I have.. and I try to have it all.." Getting up equal with Meruin on the wired kunai, they in turn are pulled in towards the puppet and beast, trailing as far back as Kitaru believes is necessary to have it ignore them, at least until they can get to the surface. The Sphere would free the dirt from the other kunai, resetting the launchers, cycling itself to be ready for the next action needed. "I knew something was coming, Mizukage. I didn't know which direction… I felt the tremor. It seemed different than the settling of the fort and water.."
The Fourth Mizukage's hair pressed down against his back from the force of his upwards travel. An extremely thin layer of chitin capped his eyes, protecting them from the wind, but the sound of rushing air filled his ears. When Kitaru appeared at his side, drawn up by his bracers, the Okumo turned to look towards him. He relied on sight, reading his lips to understand his first message, and once he 'heard' what he had to say…
Meruin's mouth curled just the sparest bit, the ghost of a smile flickering across his features. He sent a greater amount of chakra to the surface of his brain, the latticework one of increased intricacy to further enhance his memory and senses, as they were growing very near to the surface world and there would be no telling what they'd find out there. This allowed him to pull Kitaru's last words from the rushing wind, and he nodded. "Next time," he called. "Investigate."
His hair flies upwards, latching onto the wire some feet above them. A swift push in one direction and a pull in the opposite snapped the two away from the edge of the hole in a rough jerk, so that they flew out of the cavern rather than colliding with the rock their tether was being drawn across.
Free from the darkness, the pair were greeted wit the sight of the blood marshes left nearly exactly how it looked when they'd left it, but for the hole and the six-legged mammal running through the reeds. It had long, rough fur of an auburn color. It was clearly… a rodent of some kind, and it didn't show any signs of slowing down.
Indeed, its careening path was a determined eastward, towards the Black Forest.
Meruin's only action was to look towards Kitaru. What happens now?
Flicked out and away from the wall, they would arc up and over, the whatzit rushing onward for the black forest. Frowning, Kitaru shifted tactics, the Sphere that had been leading them on would do what spheres tend to do.. roll. Rolling clean off the head of the rodent thing to let it plow on. The wires that the two were attached to started to reel in, pulling Meruin and Kitaru closer to the Sphere. Once close enough, Kitaru grabs onto a wooden handle that pops out of the sphere's wooden section. The rest of it? Would snap open, spreading out, showing all of it's gears and mechanisms to the world as the two halves opened to try to act as a sort of umbrella. Kitaru was running out of ideas. They had to slow down and he wasn't sure if the air brake was enough. Looking downward, he'd seek to aim them towards water, the Bracer coming up to fire off two kunai at the water's surface for two effects. One, to break tension so it's not like slapping against the ground and two, to tell Kitaru how far they had of a drop into it. Kitaru glances to Meruin with an apologetic look of all things and with the timing only one borne of the Doihara's could probably obtain, the Sphere would snap close and eject off of the handle, having it bound into a decrepit tree while Kitaru and probably Meruin, would splash land.
Again, Meruin played the observer.
It was here, it seemed, that Kitaru chose to disengage with the marauding creature, Sphere rolling off and leaving the pair careening from lofty heights towards the swampy ground at an angle. Their descent only increased in speed as they fell longer /and/ as they were realed towards the boy's puppet. It was swift thinking to release and open up sphere to provide some air resistance to their falling, and the Okumo definitely felt the difference.
Nevertheless, as the swamp water grew closer Kitaru could only see Meruin staring at him and, as the final seconds drew near, shaking his head. It was the final act of spearing the water with a pair of kunai that added to the former to cause him to lighten his view of Kitaru's response. Breaking the surface tension of the water, some, to reduce the impact. Very good. Kitaru's learning of the ground being just a few feet below the surface, however, would make it clear to him that it would not be enough.
Just before landing, the Sphere abandoned them to protect itself by crashing horizontally against an ailing tree, its trunk bending before snapping, letting the puppet fall without grace but also without damage. For Meruin, the Okumo simply let go and landed against the water with chakra at the ready on the soles of his feet. The water ran away from his landing in a rising wave as he landed without breaking the surface of the water, taking moment to come back to a stand.
His gaze turned back to Kitaru.
Kitaru crashed. While the water helped, it didn't help enough, causing him to slam into the ground under the water. The escape of air from impact was immediately replaced by water surging back in, causing Kitaru to choke. Fighting his way up above the water's surface had him gasping and spitting water. The wince of pain as his limbs failed pointing to a broken leg. Favoring the leg, Kitaru would drag himself to the water's edge at least, laying there a moment before rolling to lay on his back. Eyes closed as the pain washed through him, his control of the chakra threads wavering for a moment before he's able to wheel the Sphere over to where he was at. "That.. was.. a bad idea." Kitaru pants out, shaking his head, he disengages the bracer, letting him finally sit up with both hands back as he'd look around.
There was no passion over Kitaru's pain as Meruin bore witness to the boy choking and sputtering over the waters of the blood marsh in his attempts to get to dry land. Once the genin made it there, the Okumo calmly strode across the blood-colored waters.
"You don't have time for pain, pity, or regret," spoke Meruin. "You're in hostile territory, injured, and /no/ mission is complete until you return home to us. Gather yourself. Our next objective is home and aid. What are our next steps to get there?"
Kitaru nods towards Meruin with a small sigh. "Hai. I know. While I don't have time for the pain.. it is trying very hard to make time for me.." With the Sphere finally coming over, Kitaru would pull it close as it'd open up again. The interior, now that they weren't flying through the air with it, was able to be seen as a metal mesh within that looks like it's used to access all the components held in the different parts. Kitaru would climb into the Sphere, adjusting the mesh with an uncomfortable grunt. There's a hiss of pain now and then as he'd work on getting his leg situated within. Once it's all said and done, Kitaru is sticking out half of the sphere, while the rest does a rotation on what can now be seen as a central ring to give mobility. Kitaru takes a few moments to get it all sorted out before looking to Meruin. "It.. is makeshift but functional. I can not fight this way though, hai? I think we should depart quickly."
Meruin paid no heed to Kitaru's excuse, letting it pass into the air as Sphere approached the boy. He chose, instead, to offer some advice towards how to survive situations such as the one they'd just left.
"In the future," he spoke as Kitaru opened up his puppet, "In moments when you find yourself falling from extreme heights, you may wish to acquire a different focus. Rather than arresting your momentum, it's far more effective to change the direction of that momentum. Do your best to go from vertical movement to horizontal movement. While this will do nothing to lower your impulse, it can greatly reduce the amount of impact your body has to compensate for. Your Sphere can likely be used in great effect for this. Rolling is one of the most the most effective way of lowering one's impact from a fall.
"That said. Falling is one of the most dangerous things a human being can do. It is better to avoid it, and this, altogether. It may have been better to make our ways to the Muskrat and attempting to climb down before departing it. More likely, though, with it heading to the Black Forest, it may've been in our best interests to wait until we could land on a tree rather than the ground many, many meters below. Something to consider, next you face a similar situation."
Meruin raised his chin, slightly, examining Kitaru's new 'legs.' He nodded at the wish to depart swiftly. "Fair decision. I will say, however, that you should always inspect your wounds at any point you have the time to safely do so. It is especially important in places such as the Blood Marshes. Infection will kill you. Swiftly. If you have not already, do you wish to check your wounds and look for broken skin before moving on?"
Kitaru would listen attentively as he worked, nodding to Meruin to show his attention, while continuing to get settled in the Sphere. Once complete, Kitaru pauses then frowns and nods. "Hai Mizukage." He shifted within the sphere and the tools within were put to good affect. The small arms that Kitaru uses to actually line up the weapons is used to pat down his leg, he grits his teeth at the new flood of pain this causes but doesn't stop. Nodding slightly, there is a dull crack and Kitaru can't stop the yelp this causes, setting the bone within the leg, two of the arms would keep his leg still and secure. Panting softly a moment as he'd fight the pain, Kitaru shakes his head then looks up at Meruin. "No open skin, Mizukage. The bone is set per instruction of Mama-sama's book. The gyrosphere will keep me upright and it still, no matter the movement.. Although I can't turn the sphere too far too fast." Kitaru shrugs slightly. "I will be prepared next time, Mizukage. The Bracer I wield was borne of needing more control.. this will never happen again, so easily."
"Excellent," spoke Meruin.
"You are well educated, more than many above your age and station. You are well trained and well prepared, courtesy of the academy, of course, but far more of your well known shinobi parents. You show both the skills and certain habitual traits you find in young prodigies, and I do not hesitate to put you amidst their ranks. Above all of that, you appear to possess quite an uncommon will. And it is truly only that last piece which will determined how far you rise above this challenge. Keep all of your weapons in hand, Doihara Kitaru. You will need them to successfully complete your mission: Survive.
"I will see you at home," are his final words.
Then he vanished. Leaving the wounded, nearly defensive Kitaru alone.
Kitaru nods slightly, watching Meruin, he'd bow his head at the words a moment and then look up at Meruin's final words…
Kitaru stared a moment at Meruin's space, where he had been standing for a second. Well. Ok then.
Looking around, Kitaru would immediately get to work. The Sphere is offline due to him being in it, he has the bracer, but that will be awkward to fight with. This was going to be a long trip. Shaking his head, Kitaru focused on the task ahead, the Sphere going as fast as he could push as he'd race across the top of just about everything on his way home. The plates weren't chakra metal, but it was conductive enough to let Kitaru keep him skimming across mud, water, anything he came across he rolled over, up and over to race for that goal, for Kirigakure. For home.