Distant Struggles


Keiji, Itami

Date: October 1, 2011


A small farming village in the Open Plains area has been suffering frequent attacks from a band of bandits using the war as a means of getting what they want, showing that the problems are creeping farther than the nation borders. Keiji and Itami visit the village in order to solve the problem and possibly gain support for Sunagakure in the form of new trade.

"Distant Struggles"

Open Plains

The war was creating hardships on everyone as the effects slowly crept along the land, extending its reach to what felt like the furthest reaches. Sunagakure was certainly beginning to feel the strain, but not as much as smaller villages. It was in the Open Plains where some attacks were reported and thus, some ninja were called out to handle the problem.
This type of mission didn't require a task force, so it was only Keiji and Itami on the job today. As usual, the wind swept across the plains, causing the long stalks of grass to roll and shift in the direction the wind was blowing. The sky was overcast and the air cool, quite beautiful to say the least.
The two of them arrive at the small settlement, an agricultural village which…appeared to be pretty empty. Though, it wasn't because no one was around. Everyone kept inside because they were suffering frequent attacks from looters taking advantage of the war to frighten them into handing over their goods. They were suffering and if they couldn't produce, the village would go under.

The dark pupils of Keiji would scan the entire settlement, at least what he was able to see. "Things must be bad here. Not a single person is out and about." The boy would say as he walked next to Itami. The statement itself brought the boy down a little from the natural excitement of his first real mission. The weather seemed to be perfect. The timing was there. Everything seemed to show good signs for the boy. Then seeing people that were suffering. It was a new and different concept for him. Definately something he needed to learn.

Itami sighed. She hated this. "Indeed…" Itami remarked as she looked upon the small settlement. "We should probably make our way in and see what the problem is."
The people, while they may be inside, are not blind to what's going on outside. They need to be ever vigilant as they need to prepare for the attackers that come around these parts often. Their eyes pierce the glass that separates them from the outside, looking at the two individuals who have entered their settlement. They can't decipher if they're enemies or allies, but at this point, they're not taking many chances.
A small band of them gathered together, using their experiences from the war to make a task force to combat their enemies, but they were common footsoldiers and weren't as skilled as their attackers. Still, this didn't keep them from trying to protect their home and livelihood. From above, masked by a roof covered in layered grass, an archer sits, ready to fire an arrow to strike first.
He was a young boy, probably in his teens and was somewhat nervous. Nocking the arrow, he drew back on the string and took aim. Once Keiji and Itami were in range, he fired the arrow off, sparking the others in the area to raise their weapons and do the same. Two more arrows followed in separate directions, one to the left of the duor and one other to their right. Including the one previously fired, three in total were headed their way.

As the two moves along, the first arrow would whiz past Keiji's ear. "Incoming!" The boy would yell before looking upwards towards the young archer boy. Almost immediately the young genin would toss a kunai from his pocket towards the next arrow to knock it off course. Then, wasting no time, he would begin to make hand seals and yell "Clone jutsu!". He would then move to take cover behind a building.
This would allow Keiji a little bit of time to formulate a plan. These were not enemies. He could not just injure them or even worse, kill them. His eyes would scan towards Itami, wondering if she was going to take care of this or simply leave it to him. Either way he would have to think quick before the village militia got an angle to fire on him.

Itami's eyes widened at the arrows that came flashing by them, she, being spared of being struck by one with a kunai knocking it off course. She sidestepped the last arrow and ran to take cover at the side of a storage barn made of stone while Keiji went the opposite way. The attacks stopped for now, but this wasn't the end. There were more coming around waiting to attack the intruders that dared come upon their home in small number.
She looked across the way and then up to see someone creeping along the top of a roof to try and take on Keiji. The man had a makeshift club in his hand, though he wieleded it with both fear and determination. Silently, she pointed up to indicate someone was above him and that he should take notice. Meanwhile, on her side, a second clubber was sidling along the backside of the storage barn to attack her.

Luckily for Keiji, as the man with the club moved to swing, the club would go right through the head of Keiji and then Keiji would go poof as it became apparent this was nothing more than a clone…
The ground would crack behind Itami's attacker. Soon Keiji would be through the ground and his hand would be moved around the neck of the man, his pincered finger pressing lightly on the man's throat. "Please do not force me to send you to the next world. We have come to aid your people, not harm them. Tell the others to cease their attack." The dark pupils of the boy would scan towards Itami. He had hoped that she would have his back, now that he had revealed himself.

"Clone…" Itami chuckled softly in a somewhat mellow moment. She didn't bother to attack the man as he was a bit dumbfounded at having attacked something that wasn't there. She already knew someone was creeping up on her along the back of the storage building. Despite the effort he placed into being quiet, he wasn't quite silent enough and she was ready to take him, but not before Keiji burst from the ground and held up a pincer to the man's neck. He immediately dropped his weapon and held his hands up to show he meant no more harm. "Alright, alright! I'll tell them. Just don't kill me, please!" He called out.
The young archer boy on the roof of the building over took this opportunity to nock another arrow and prepare to strike, but Itami pulled out a kunai and tossed it towards the roof to frighten him as well as keep him from firing. "That's enough." She remarked sternly. She gestured for Keiji to walk the man into the center of the village so that he could tell everyone to hold their fire.

"Come on, lets move." Keiji states before using a hand behind the guy's back to move him forward. He would loosen the tension between his finger and the man's throat. "Stay calm. This will be over in a few moments and then you can return to your people." The boy would walk the man out into the center of the village and then wait for him to speak. His eyes would scan upwards trying to take in just how many people there were here.

The man moved along with Keiji, waiting until they were at the center of the village for him to raise his hands up for all the people and militia to see yelling for them to ceasefire. There was hesitation as they wondered if it was a trap, but the intruders didn't appear to be bent on destroying their village, so they stood down and refrained from attacking any longer.
Some people began to exit from their homes, mostly men first to see if everything was clear and the village leader exited from his home as well. It was clear he was an agricultural guy. He was short, stocky, well toned and looked like he'd seen a few battles in his time. Although, most of his efforts have been focused on the village and keeping it running. His face was hardened from stress, but he was a gentle soul and it showed in his eyes. He was probably around 50 years. When he raised his hand to give further confirmation of a ceasefire is when the tension of the village left the area.
"Hello and apologies on behalf of the village. We didn't mean to attack, but we were frightened and uncertain. We've been suffering attacks for sometime now and its showing…" He points to the fields where some of the crops have been damaged or are withering due to lack of attendance. "We need help to keep our attackers at bay. They should be coming soon. They've made a habit of visiting us weekly and taking whatever they felt like." His voice was clearly distressed, yet filled with anger.
"We will handle them…" Itami remarked. A gust blew through the area and carried with it dust creating a small haze. Looking overhead, it seems there was a dustcloud rising in the area and it was headed the direction of the village. The band of bandits was about to arrive.

As Keiji saw the villagers standing down, he would release his finger from the man's throat. "As promised, you are free to go." The boy stated before turning towards the leader of the village. Keiji did not speak as it was not his place. He was merely a subordinate on the mission, plus he was still kind of excited at having diffused the situation successfully without blood shed.
After Itami spoke, the boy would turn towards the dust cloud. Finally the boy would speak. "Please take shelter. Return to your homes." After that he would reach into his pocket and pull out a single kunai. His eyes glanced towards Itami before he made a few hand signs. This time Keiji would sink into the earth.

Itami thinks she'll be following Keiji's lead. She'll be sinking into the ground herself. The village leader doesn't take any changes and nods to the two of them before signaling everyone to return back to their homes. This might get ugly out here.
The dust cloud stops at the small gate of the village and it isn't long before the wind blows it away to reveal the band of bandits. They came riding in with horses and oxen they stole from the village, ready to take more out of the village. For the most part, the band was just a bunch of militants turned thugs, but there was one guy who seemed to be different from the rest. He was definitely a shinobi. Why he was traveling with them is anyone's guess.
They'd step off the wagon and see nothing in the village as everyone has gone inside and Itami and Keiji were now underground. Without anyone to impede them, they started their rounds of going up to homes and busting down their doors to demand food and whatever else from them, making sure to threaten them if they didn't comply.
The people handed off their goods, some thinking they've been abandoned, but others had hopes. Those ninja weren't a setup were they? Of course not. The attack was just about to begin.

Keiji would rise from the ground in between the huts. He was behind one of the militants that was making their way to an out house. Unlike before, this time as the boy reached up, he would place the pincered finger directly through the neck of the man, severing his ability to speak and more importantly to breath. Quickly he would pick up the body and place it in the out house.
Now exiting the out house was a duplicate of the man who had just died. He moved back towards the wagon. He would look towards one of the man with empty hands and point towards a door that had yet to be kicked in and give a small grunt. He would follow the man into the residence as the door was now being kicked in for him…

Itami slipped in behind a loud mouth and quickly disposed of him by slicing his neck with a kunai. He didn't make much noise after that and needless to say, the family was frightened, but they'd seen much worse happen as the bandits continual attacks produced some vicious killings. A man pulled apart by two horses racing in opposite directions, for example. It was a horrible sight, especially seeing his remains fed to stray dogs.
As she dragged his body through a side window, she made the necessary handseals to loosen up the earth and allow her passage into the ground once more in order to bury the body before coming back up. That was two down and three more to go with one about to fall to Keiji anytime now.
The shinobi that they had tagging along with them hung back at the gates, waiting. He appeared not to have much of a purpose, but he'd serve his soon. The dwindling number of bandits was sure to catch his attention. Oh and, "Where are the others at? There's nothing going back to the wagon." He remarks. Suspicion is enough to spark action, after all.

As Keiji followed the man into the building he would quickly pierce the man's throat with his pincer and wrap his other arm around the man to control the shaking. He was trying to mimize the effects on the family. Luckily they had remained cowering in a corner and did not witness most of it. He would lay the body on the floor and close the eyes. "May you find the right path in the afterlife." the boy would whisper before placing a finger to his mouth to warn the family to be silent.
The henged Keiji would appear at the door once more, this time he was carrying a chest. He would move to the back of the wagon and set it down for the man on the wagon to move to the back. As he moved, Keiji would get up on the wagon. When the man turned around and began to question what he was doing up there, Keiji would toss a scorpion directly onto his face. As the man began to scream, it would be halted by a pincer entering the throat. That would follow be a second pincer entering his mouth and pinning down his tongue. "Fear not. The pain will end before you pass to the next world. Go in peace." It looked like the last bandit would be Itami's.

The others? Well…

A body would be casted off into the center of the village, neck sliced and blood trickling from it and onto the ground. The shinobi, seeing this began to prepare himself for battle and the first thing he'd do is target the wagon. There was obviously an enemy in there and he didn't care who else might be inside it or the objects that were gathered. He made a few handseals and sent a spire of earth through the wagon in order to skewer whoever was inside. The dead body was one, but the killer had the potential to be attacked himself.
Once he was finished with that, he turned his aggression onto the village. If they weren't going to pay up, then he was going to destroy this place and everyone inside it. He approached the town and already began sending stone pillars through houses to destroy them as well as upset the earth where crops were growing. He needed to be stopped before this whole place was ruined.
Itami, coming out of the house she killed the man in, saw the damage and called out, "Keiji!" while handealing. "We need to stop him before this village goes under!" The family inside the house where the stone pillars rested began to run outside and into the open to flee, opening themselves to be targets to the shinobi who commanded the earth.

As the earth began to pierce the wagon, the no longer henged, Keiji dived out the back of it. "That was close. He disturbed the last words to that soul." The boy seemed slightly more upset, especially as he saw the villagers leaving their homes. Itami was right, this man needed to be stopped. However, until Keiji learned to master the earth style, going below ground was like suicide.
The boy would move towards his opponent. As he moved towards the man he would begin whipping kunai at the man. He was intentionally trying to draw the man's attention away from the villagers. Hopefully Itami had a plan.

Itami needed to get these people evacuated out of here while he was bent on destroying the village. Apparently, he was some kind of failsafe, but it didn't seem like he was doing much in saving other than turning this village into a failure. It was already down on its luck and would only make things harder for the individuals if their land was destroyed. They'd have nowhere to go and produce. They'd been providing for who they thought were representatives of Kirigakure in this war and didn't want to upset them. They'd heard about the attacks and the weapon that was employed from those that managed to survive. They didn't want that same wrath brought down upon them, so they cooperated to a degree, though their efforts of retaliation failed the majority of the time.
Now, their livelihood is disappearing right before their eyes and their lives are on the line. People were fleeing their homes in an attempt to escape, stumbling over one another to find any way to get away from the settlement. The village leader, stepping out of his home boomed over the chaos for the village to assemble and follow him to a safer place. He gestured to them with his hands to flee in the direction he was waving them and Itami assisted with this by going about the village to collect any stragglers that might suffer from the earthen attacks the shinobi was using.
Her plan was a pretty basic one. Get the villagers out of here and then try to preserve this settlement with as little damage as possible. The earth shinobi took the two kunai from behind as he underestimated his opponent. He thought that spire of earth might have taken care of him, but he was wrong. With his attention averted from the village, he turned his aggression to Keiji by forming two slabs of earth to close in and crush the boy in between.

Two mere slabs of earth? Keiji dives forward and does a roll between the two as they closed in. It seemed like he was on his own, but that was okay by him. So long as the villagers were not in harms way, he would try to make the fight interesting. After evading the slabs, the boy would run directly towards the man. This time he would perform a group of hand signs and yell "Secret Technique." Of course this would only remain a secret technique for a moment as three clones of the boy appeared. Two versions of Keiji would fan outwards to make a half circle around the shinobi. One version would meld into the earth and the last version would run directly towards the shinobi.

Itami was spending her time making sure the last of the villagers were safe and evacuated out of the village. It seems the leader spent some time with a few workers setting up a safety net in the form of a camp that was stocked with items that should at least last everyone a month. They'd be going there and out of harms way, but it was in no way a living space, so this problem needed to be solved quickly.
While Keiji was busy dealing with the enemy shinobi, she jumped down off of a roof and decided to join in the fray. She made handseals to form a blade of wind to send off towards the earth user, but he blocked it off with a small wall of earth. Keiji escaped him so now he had to figure out where he was going to come from, but not without taking on Itami first. Blazing through handseals, he finished with his attack, churning up a line of earth for Itami to sink into and trap her. Once he was finished with that, he summoned up three spires of earth to pierce her three ways.

As the enemy shinobi began to make his hand seals to do Itami in, the two side versions of Keiji would move towards him to make their attack. Behind him though, Keiji would burst up from the earth aiming to pinch off a major nerve in his back, before trying to stab him in the back with his free hand. It seemed despite knowing it could have been suicide, the young Shippodoku would take the gamble. The other three clones of him would poof into thin air.

The enemy shinobi saw the two clones headed for him and so set about to attack, but was instead met with an intense pain flying up his spine and subsequent paralysis after experiencing it. He couldn't move and thus, his attack was cut off and Itami was spared from being pierced three ways.
Since the ground was no longer solid, she pulled herself up from the ground and joined in the fray….again. Handsealing, she lifted her foot and stomped the ground, sending a pillar of earth to strike the shinobi from behind and add to the dose of pain that he received from being stabbed as well as paralyzed. He suffers a great chance of having his spine severed after being hit with it. Sadly enough, that isn't the case, but being outnumbered two to one is taxing on his chakra.

Keiji would not stop there. Even after the wall smashes the man, the boy moves in and attempts to slice into the shinobi's arms with the pincered pointer fingers on each hand. He was looking to disable the man completely. His eyes would scan momentarily towards Itami. All she had to do was give the word and Keiji would try to kill the man. Either way, it was up to her to decide how the mission would end, that is of course if the shinobi did not dodge his attacks all together.

The shinobi wouldn't dodge Keiji's attacks. Instead, he'd build up a skin of stone to defend against the attacks. In realiation, he formed earth around his arm and punched the young Shippodoku, not without the added effect of having a few spikes nestled at the top of the earthen fist.
Seeing how this fight was going to cause some problems for him, he threw himself from the ground and began to form the handseals necessary to send an earth dragon to tear apart and ravage the whole village. It appears he knew one handed seals, so he was going to finish this attack while defending himself from any attacks that may have come against him. This needed to be ended quickly. "See if you can stun him again!" Itami called out to Keiji.

The young Shippodoku is knocked backwards, some blood flowing from his chest where the stone hit him. Again the boy would do some hand signs and make three more clones appear, this time the same as before. Two fan out and one sinks. The two that fan out seem to converge on the outside, but this time the boy attacking from the front dives towards the ground and reaches both of his pincered fingers for the man's ankles. He was aiming to stun him on either side if he could reach him. The two clones would attempt to attack the shinobi's face in hopes of giving Keiji just enough time to hit the spot.

The shinobi utilized his free hand to defend against the attacks once more, summoning up earth to block Keiji's attack, but it turns out he was fooled again by the clones that were coming towards him and he flinched to evade the pincers that were coming towards him on the ground. This didn't throw off his handseal cycle to summon the dragon, but he did suffer another stun, effectively freezinng him yet again.
Itami was busy forming her own handseals to counter against his dragon should it ever be formed. She had one just as strong and was willing to use it to break apart his earth with her fire. Yet, she didn't need to. He was stunned for the second time in a row. His perceptive skills didn't seem to be all that great. "Finish him off, now!" She shouted. This guy was going to lose his life today.

The boy felt his pincer sink into the man's nerve point. He would then use both hands to push himself upwards to his feet. His dark pupils would look the man directly in the eyes before a pincered finger would rise and lodge itself in the man's pupil. "May your soul find the peace it could not find in this world, in the next." Then with a tug of his finger, Keiji dislodged his pincer from the man's brain. "Gross… I definately have to wash my hands before dinner." He would watch the man's body fall to the ground lifelessly. "One handed signs. That could be useful to practice…" The boy says as he turns around. He still had open wounds, but he would live. "How is everyone else!?" He would call out to Itami.

The shinobi couldn't do anything, but watch as he was left to be victimized by this Shippodoku. His jutsu was stopped and body unable to move, but his expression was trapped in an enraged glare at the boy. Before long, his world would turn black and the remains of his mind would spill in small pieces to the ground. He'd collapse to the ground, dead as a doorknob.
Itami, while she didn't expect that kind of kill, was more or less glad the shinobi was taken care of. She looked around and surveyed the damage. Some homes were destroyed and one of the fields ruined, but they should be able to recover, she imagines. All in all, the village was spared. "Yes, you should wash your hands." She found a moment to chuckle. "As for those seals, yes, they are useful. Might be able to serve you later on if you ever seek to take them on. For now, we need to send alert to the village leader that the place has been spared. Damage was suffered, but nothing they shouldn't be able to recover from." She hums and looks around. "Let's return to Sunagakure. I don't imagine they have much in the way of money, but perhaps we can negotiate a means of trade with them…"

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