Date: February 13, 2016
Suspicious activity on the border between Earth and Rain brings ninja of multiple nations to investigate.
Poster's note: foul language filtered in obvious places.
"Experimental Data - The Lava Pit"
Border Breaker - Earth/Rain
There has been an incident on the border between the Land of Earth and the Land of Rain. The details are not clear as of yet. Infact, word of the incident has not necessarily traveled far or reached the ears of those who make decisions like sending ninja to places. Only those immediately nearby are, for the moment, aware of anything being wrong. However, a large explosion and a continuous stream of smoke headed for the sky, visible from both Earth and Rain, is enough to potentially draw those closest to investigate.
Kokoro is one of these, a Genin with a group of other ninja, momentarily separated from them as she is part of a team that is searching for a missing message cannister that was supposed to be attached to a now-deceased messenger hawk. The others are not as close as Kokoro herself, may not even be aware of the explosion yet, though they are in the same area.
She debates whether to take action or to try to regroup with the others, and ultimately decides that she should at least see what intelligence she can gather so that she has something to report. She dashes through tall grass in ankle-high water, trying to move both quickly and quietly. This close to the border, the rain is minimal. But now there's also ash falling as well. The sky… Looks cloudy in a way completely different from a rain storm. What's going on exactly?
From the Earth side of things, there appears to be a large crater among some rocky foothills at the base of the mountains all around the Land of Earth. It can probably be spotted from a higher elevation more easily than from the low lands of the Land of Rain, and the fact there is molten lava bubbling within the crater and surging upwards indicates the possibility of volcanic activity.
A strange turn of events. While Arika was simply a visiting-nin, the girl had managed to stumble across shinobu that were traveling to the site of this disturbance, and as luck would have it, they took her in! Arika would be a combination of confused and excited, of course. Missions were exciting! And even more-so were missions that had the unknown associated.
"We're getting close," the leading Chuunin said to his team. "The earth has split up ahead. And I think it's getting hotter…" A Genin Kamizuru would have some of her bees move out to scout the area ahead. "Lava," she reports after a few moments, calling her bees back to her. "Volcano must have opened up. But it's a bit odd for the Land of Rain, isn't it?" she says to the leader, looking over to the lead with confusion.
"Baka!" declares a loud voice. Murasame Sentora crosses his arms over his chest. "Volcanos can occur anywhere at anytime. They just have a more likelihood of showing up along fault lines, you know?" He pauses for a second and focuses chakra into the ground. "My range still sucks," he then grumps with a small sigh. "Hey, stranger, what can you sense?" he suddenly asks. Sentora sounded like his old confident self. Maybe being placed on a team away from Zora was helping?
Arika shrugs a bit. "What's a volcano?" she would ask, which gifted her a number of open stares. #FeelingJudged. ~Something bad.~ "Umm… Nevermind… Le's just go," she says, frowning a bit. And the team would set off, Chuunin agreeing that they ought to move. 'But why are we going /towards/ the bad thing?' Arika wonders inwardly.
Kokoro sneak-sneak-sneaks closer. The volcano is inbetween the two countries, on the border itself, not within the Rain. Crossing the border could be bad, so once she reaches a good observation position, she stays where she is and observes. What she sees is… A sort of pool of lava that is gradually increasing in size as the ground around it sinks lower and lower. That's not good. She's a war orphan who knows little of the world beyond the Land of Rain. But she still recognizes that an expanding pool of molten rock is probably not healthy to stay around. What caused it though?
As she watches, and the acrid stench of burning stone fills the air with toxic fumes, she sees through the vile clouds of smoke what looks like a trio of figures crouched by the edge of the crater. Did they cause it…? One of them stands up suddenly, looking around as though noticing something, and the blonde-haired kunoichi tries not to move, breathe, or do anything to draw attention to herself. Her heart rate has sped up however.
A few moments later, the trio are fleeing north-east at high speed. Who were those three? She wasn't able to make out enough details to discern what country they might have been from, or even if they beklonged to a Hidden Village. Unaware there's a group from Iwagakure + Guest on the way, she decides to gather a bit more intel and creep even closer for a more detailed investigation. Hopefully the metal mask over the lower half of her face and the goggles over her eyes will shield her from the worst of the sulfuric fumes, but hopefully she won't have to get close enough to find out.
She should be more visible now as she comes out of concealment, though if the Iwagakure team was close enough to see the crater they may also have been close enough to see the mysterious trio departing in addition to the Genin now advancing on the lava hole.
The rebreather and cloak clad Ame chuunin dashed off to rendezvous with the other member of his team, sending the two other genin he was with to create a perimeter. He didn't know much about what was going on, but he would find out. His rebreather and cloak would come in handy here, protecting him from much of the negative effects of the freshly changed environment. Eventually, he would make it to the new volcano proper, and he creeps forward in silence.
When he catches sight of Kokoro, he nods to himself and makes his way over, tapping her lightly on the shoulder. "Report." His voice is raspy as it comes through the rebreather, but he doesn't sound out of breath, despite the running.
None of the Genin get to see the other shinobi through the heated area. Smoke obscured a bit and the haze made them want to look way in general. Arika squints, bringing out a piece of cloth to tie around her mouth while the Iwa-nin seem to just pull up their coats to hide the lower half of their face. It's a good thing that they have a Chuunin with them, otherwise things could have been missed. "Nami, send a few of your bees towards the northeast. I think I saw something running that way," the Chuunin tells his charge.
With a nod, the Kamizuru would tell her bees the instructions, and about ten would start flying in the direction of the runners. "Oh! There are people. I can't figure out their scent quite yet, though. The smoke is too thick…" And it gets /EVERYWHERE/. The young girl sighs just a bit in exasperation, moving along still.
"Don't feel bad, Nami. My senses are smoky too with the volcano. It's shaking a bit, so … Yeah." Sentora shrugs a bit as he runs, then glances back to the tag along. "How did she end up as a replacement for Kuzu? She doesn't seem very strong…" he would add doubtfully.
Arika ignores the comment, just preferring to look around. She frowns a bit, squinting through the haze. "Nnn….. I coul' catch up t' those people," she offers the Chuunin. She's told not to, though, because that would place them in a bad position.
Kokoro is surprised by the tap on the shoulder, but almost immediately realizes that if this were an anime, they wouldn't have tapped her on the shoulder. They'd have a kunai to her throat or in her back. Still, she makes a mental note about her own lack of wariness and how that could have been lethal if it really HAD been an enemy. Acknowledging the team leader with a nod, she pauses where she is crouched, and points to the crater. "Three figures that appeared to be shinobi were kneeling by this pool of lava. I do not know if they created it or were investigating it as I am. They fled to the north-east."
Meanwhile, the bees sent after the fleeing trio are able to track them by whatever methods nin-bees have, but the ninja are moving quickly and very much away from the owner of the bees. They seem to be headed for the Land of Grass, to the east of their present position, by running along the border between Earth and Rain. Their uniforms are general ninja attire, without obvious indication of affiliation. This may be out of necessity, because they are mercenaries without a Village, or it may be intentional, to avoid identification. Either way, what they were doing back there is something to be concerned about. There's no real good reason for either mercenaries or shinobi of another nation to be hanging around volcanoes, natural or otherwise, right on the border of two nations.
As Arika and her allies descend towards the crater, down crags and slopes of loose gravel, they may notice Honosuke and Kokoro, also peering at the mysterious new volcano. Though… It doesn't appear to be much of a volcano. Whatever process formed it appears to have stopped. The molten rock is continuing to boil, and probably will for some time, but the level isn't rising, and the ground isn't sinking around it anymore.
"Hm. The others I sent out to form a perimeter. I told them not to engage, however. We must learn of their identity one way or another though. We do not take kindly to intruders." His limited chakra sensing capabilities don't let him know who was up nearby, but at the very least, he was moderately prepared, as he did not know if any of the others would return. "This might be a problem," he gestures to the lava. "Tectonic instability or not, even if it has stopped for now, it could start again. Volcanoes are tricky things." A glance to the genin and then back to the molten rock. "I can cool it, but it would take time and a great deal of chakra. Do you have anything that could assist in this endeavor?"
"They're getting away," Nami reports suddenly. "Are you sure we shouldn't follow them?" The Genin glances in the direction of mysterious group #1 worriedly. "Leave it. We have some other issues to deal with." The Chuunin notes the Ame-nin now, and he slows his pace a bit before he starts to adjust his course. Heading towards Honosuke. "Sentora, keep a close eye on the volcano. We don't need to be surprised."
The young Murasame would nod and use his chakra to keep an eye on the local tremors rumbling through the earth. "All silent," he reports. "I'll tell you when." The group would eventually come to a halt before the shinobi from the other nation, but not before the Chuunin lets out a mighty 'Yo!' to alert them. Friends give each other warning. And if they were unfriendly, they had time to prepare for something bad. "Is there anything you know about this?" the Chuunin proceeds to ask, gesturing to the lava just nearby.
Arika would have a lot of her attention on the volcano itself. She had never seen one before! It was super cool! ~Just don't jump in.~ "Oy! Get yer butt back over here!" Sentora yells at the Suna shinobi, voice cross. "You might fall in, Baka!" Arika puffs her cheeks out. "'m not a Baka, you are! :<"
Kokoro starts to say, "I can control ribbons of water with my Water Release, though they are intended for defensive purposes, and the amount I can control would likely have minimal effect on something like this… Also, the ones who fled… I couldn't tell if they had a Village affiliation…" Suddenly another ninja comes rushing up. This time, at least, the Genin notices and rises to her feet, ready to act if she has to. But she doesn't attack, just lower herself into a defensive stance. It's not her place to say or do anything. Her Chuunin supervisor should handle this. Still, as she observes various ninja in the area who were previously hidden by the heat waves rising through the air, and the acidic smoke, she realizes these are Iwagakure ninja… Or at least most of them are. One appears to be from Sunagakure. That's about as much as Kokoro's limited knowledge of foreign affairs clues her into.
She can't ascertain abilities, skill levels, or similar based just off of appearances. But she is memorizing everything she sees.
She turns her head very slightly to glance at Honosuke. These aren't the people she saw, but she can't say for certain they aren't connected. Though why they'd approach like this if they were, she doesn't know.
"I'll depend on you to use those if the lava boils up when I try to-," as the others appear, Honosuke snaps his head up to them, eyes slightly narrowed behind his goggles. Iwa-nin and one from Suna. He was on good terms with the Kazekage, having been one of those who helped raise the dome after it had fallen, but those from Iwagakure were a wild card in this situation. It would be wise to be wary. With the volcano stable, at least for now, he allows some of his chakra to flow, to be prepared for the worst. He nicks his index finger on a kunai, a small few droplets of crimson pattering to the ground, but little else, at the moment.
"Hail, ninja of Iwagakure and Sunagakure. I would hope that we could meet under happier terms, but it would seem that we have a problem here." He gestures to the lava idly, keeping his gaze locked onto them. "It would be wise, I think, for us to fix it, hm?" The Ame chuunin glances over to the genin, giving her a slight nod, indicating that she should be ready, just in case.
Arika would not recognize either Honosuke nor Kokoro. So the Suna nin, after departing from the crater's edge, would come over and peer at them curiously. "Agreed," The Iwa Chuunin states. "Do any of you have useful abilities that can keep this area secure? We could use earth manipulation to cover it and fill the crater, but that doesn't work as well because it's still filled with lava." The other two genin from Iwa would be watching Kokoro and co with just about as much scrutiny as the Rain-nin is giving them.
Kokoro chooses not to reveal her abilities to the other ninja at this time. She does say, "There is a large volume of water back the way I came from. Digging a channel so that all that rain water empties into the crater might cool it." She then looks around, seeing if there's any more ninja coming out of the wood works/rain works/lava works/whatever. For now it doesn't appear the mysterious three are coming back. Still doesn't explain what they were doing here in the first place. Did they make this crater somehow? Or were they studying it for some other reason? To what end, in either case? This seems like part of something bigger.
"I will keep watch, unless directed otherwise."
"If you will, once I begin, use your Earth Release to create a lip around the lava, raising it up a few few or so. Also, you may wish to shield yourselves." Taking a final deep breath, he removes his rebreather and places it in a pouch. Taking a bit of a wider stance, the Ame-nin weaves some handsigns and he rears back his head before thrusting it forward and expelling a massive jet of water from his mouth, spraying it over the lava to cool it. Thankfully, his chakra reserves were fairly deep, so he would be able to keep it up for awhile, barring interruption. At the very least, this would accelerate the cooling process and head this problem off before it become too big of an issue.
The Chuunin would nod lightly. He wasn't all that afraid of revealing his earth release, considering that was expected from a majority of the Iwagakure shinobi. "I can do that," he says, making a few handseals himself. Once Honosuke spits out a jet of water, he would start to move the earth itself to make a dome around the crater. Sentora would assist, and Arika would just stand there and watch awkwardly. She wasn't much use at the moment. "I need to go get closer to my bees if we want to keep an eye on those other people," she tells her team leader. Said team leader would nod a bit, but continue to focus on the task before him. Knowing his response, Nami would set off to track.
The efforts to quench the aborted volcano's flames seem to be working. Gradually, the glowing red rock cools, releasing lots of searing stream in the process, but thanks to the crater being shielded, the steam is all channeled upwards rather than outwards. It's still pretty sweltering there by the time the ninja are done.
Kokoro doesn't notice anything odd during this process, but she is still impressed by the jutsu she sees being used. Far beyond anything she can do. She is probably kind of in the same boat As Arika, with the difference being that Kokoro is actually just not good, rather than ill-suited.
Meanwhile, the three ninja being chased by bees continue on their way. Their course seems to continue to take them towards the Land of Grass… Until they start bearing further north, still along the border. They could still be headed to the Grass, just a different part of the country. But they aren't taking the most expedient route into the country. It's possible that Kusagakure, Kyuusen, or other major locales within the Land of Grass aren't their destination.
It's even possible that isn't the country they're headed for at all.
However, one of them appears to be a Sensor-Nin, possibly the same one who tipped off the others before. Because their head lifts and they slow their run, coming to a stop and signaling the others. The three shinobi are all wearing face-concealing ceramic masks with expressionless slits for eyes. The Sensor says, "We're being followed."
"When did that happen?" another asks.
"A while back. I thought we would lose them by the time we reached point 'C'. What now?" the Sensor asks.
The leader of the group says, "No more tails. We're beyond the point where that's acceptable. Configuration Blue-Three." Then he starts forming hand seals quickly, which the other two ninja mimic. Then, all together, a thick fog starts rolling in, a haze of water moisture that rises from the ground and builds into a dense cloud that not even the mystery ninja can see in. But they have a Sensor-Nin to guide them. And in short order, they seem to vanish unless the Kamizuru has other tricks up her sleeve.
Nami didn't expect the cloud of haze, and she is forced to draw to a halt. Her bees are unable to follow the shinobi, dying in the smog. "Dang it…" she curses, keeping a mark on where they were heading towards. "I'll go point this out to sensei, I guess…" she says with a sigh, turning and starting to head back. At least she didn't have to roast with her other teammates. That was a blessing in disguise.
"Good work," The Chuunin from Iwa would reply. "But that still doesn't answer why this happened… I'll be sure to write a report to the Tsuchikage about this incident. And I suppose you can do the same for your own … village. …" Some ninja just didn't think much of Amegakure… Arika would huff. "This was boring… All I could do was stand around and watch others be awesome!" This, of course, earns a glare from the Iwa-nin. Sentora would frown in particular. "This is what genin do sometimes on missions. I don't know what it's like for Suna, but at least we're respectful." This earns a warning glare from the Chuunin leader. But he would bow a bit towards Honosuke. "Keep safe," he offers before moving his team back towards the Land of Earth. The Kamizuru could meet up with them in a bit.