Date: August 22, 2010
Team 01 and Team Sheex begin their infiltration and assault on The Facility, the main research compound for Head Researcher Tenjin Hibari. Their target is the Head Researcher herself.
"Mirror Mirror - Face to Face to Face to Face"
The Facility - Land of Winter
The Dead King had been confident enough to appear before a Kage Summit Meeting, and answer some of their questions. Guards had attempted to kill him immediately, of course. They were the ones that died fastest, but they were not the last. All of the Kage and their attendants and the daimyou and so-forth — other than the Kazekage, who was assumed lost along with his Village — had been adamant about not giving in to the Dead King. He had endured their speeches and threats for awhile, and then ordered them silent. Amazingly, they obeyed. Especially when he pointed out the Mizukage specifically. Everyone had recoiled from him as though expecting him to die in a pillar of black fire, the way that the guards had.
Instead, he had said politely, "You, there. You asked a question. What was it?" The Mizukage shifted from a reflexive and futile attempt to shield himself from a blazing, painful demise that never came, and tried to muster some courage and defiance. "I said, what do you expect us to do? Surrender?" The Dead King had responded in a puzzled tone, "What do I expect you to do? I expect you to die!" Before any more outbursts could occur, he had continued on. "This may be the moment when you expect you will make your speeches about fighting me on the beaches, and your finest hour, and all of that, but I have no intention of fighting you. Not because I doubt my forces and I would win, but because it would be inefficient and time-consuming to wage war. Put simply, there are too many humans, and we don't have the resources to keep you all alive. So we won't try. We will leave you in constant winter. There will be starvation in a month and you will be eating each other in two. In three months' time you will be begging us to enslave you in exchange for food."
The Raikage had yelled out, "That's inhuman!" The Dead King had turned his glowing blue eyes upon the woman that had spoken. He removed the faceplate of his helmet, revealing to all present his true features. That itself would have left them horrified. But then he produced a blade from thin air, and slit his own throat. No blood came out. The rend in his flesh sealed itself slowly before the eyes of the assembled audience. He did not even wait for his airpipe to be repaired before he spoke. "I am not human." Even the Kage were left speechless.
Replacing his faceplate, he said. "I believe I am done here." Then a large sign reading 3:00:00 appeared behind him.
"One more thing before I go. Some of you may doubt I destroyed Sunagakure so another demonstration is clearly in order. Therefore, in three hours' time I will kill everyone in Iwagakure. Anyone who wishes to survive should leave now." As suddenly as he'd appeared, he was gone. The sign remained.
It was counting down! The Kage Summit — >located in Iwagakure< — exploded into pandemonium!
That story was told to Team 01 by Team Sheex, as was the history of Fort Coldkill.
Fort Coldkill is one of many bases in the territory that was once the Land of Wind. The fort was originally just another desert fortress used by Sunagakure's ninja, but once Dead Winter began in earnest, it became a safe-haven of sorts for the survivors of the Village's destruction — those who had not been >in< the Village when it was wiped clean of life, as none of >those< had survived. The fort was upgraded for military purposes, as it had been left to sit half a decade without regular use, towards the end of the Clan Wars, and the years afterwards. Simultaneously, the expanding structure was refitted and converted in places for civilian use. It was just as much of a refuge as a rally point.
The rallying aspect came into play once the Dead King announced who he was, what he had done to the climate of the various countries, and what was to come. How he was able to project his image in the sky like that was a comparatively minor mystery next to where this villain had come from, and since he had done the same thing right before destroying Sunagakure it was not as new as it could have been. Instead, people were focused on the news that this 'Dead King Yane' intended to lock all the countries, and eventually the entire world, in constant winter. 'Dead Winter', he had called it.
He had told everyone how things were going to work, which of his Lieutenants in the Dark Triad would rule which countries, and so on. People were ready to fight. Even after the meeting at Iwagakure, and the destruction that followed, no one was ready to give in. That had changed. The soldiers and ninja originally present to protect the people wound up fighting against them as the fort was swarmed by refugees seeking food and shelter. And when there was none of either to be had anymore, the fort was abandoned. Until 'Princess Rinako' took over the Land of Wind territories — now all part of the Land of Winter. She had her engineers and slaves rebuild the fort into one of her strongholds to watch over the lower-lifeforms — the humans themselves. Not it was Fort Coldkill. And it had a Teleportation Platform.
Team 01 and Team Sheex have managed to make their way to Coldkill via a stolen teleportation pad of their own, secreted away in the woods. They 'popped' in, 'popped' out, and reappeared hundreds of miles to the east, in the former Land of Fire. Rinako would have been the first to arrive, with Ruri and Shemri as her passengers. Almost immediately, lights would start flashing around the platform and a control panel set in a pole alongside the platform would start blinking the words 'Unauthorized Access' over and over. Only Rinako can shut that off. When/if it is done, then the others can arrive safely. If not, then they'll all die, most likely.
"Shut off! Cease functioning! End program! Terminate alarm! FRICKING STOP ALREADY!"
Rurohashi Rinako did not like it when she was selected as a guinea pig, but the chances of success became even more abysmally lower if someone else were to take her place in going first. Thus the jinchuriki had sucked it up, told herself she was a ninja over and over, as if it would somehow give her both courage and determination, and then proceeded to go through the 'teleportation pad'. …After discarding her nice, warm outer clothes, leaving herself clad in the ridiculously skimpy attire that her alter-ego seemed to prefer. Even so, she did her best to maintain a demeanor filled with dignity in an outfit that left her none.
After appearing in the other location, which she couldn't tell if it was five or five hundred miles away, or even the correct place, the elder of the twin Suna girls had approached what she considered to be the control device. Either that or a very cleverly-disguised trap for those unfamiliar with the devices. Even now she was spouting out anything she could think of to try and get it shut off, on the off chance that it would respond to verbal commands, and tapping, jabbing, or smacking anything that looked like a button, switch, or knob in order to try and disarm the device.
If she couldn't get it shut down in time, they'd soon be head-over-heels in enemies, traps, or both. She just hoped she wouldn't have to resort to smashing it in order to get the damned thing to shut up!
Shemri feels rather dizzy after all that teleportation stuff. @.@ It's bad enough experiencing travel along some unknown axis of dimensionality for the first time, but being yanked in another direction immediately afterward? It's a good thing their breakfast was rather meager. XP Shiikaa scampers after Rinako and hops up onto the control device. After looking around for a second, he meows and taps his paw near a clear panel. I'm not so great with human signs, but this shape on the glass says 'hand' to me. ^c.c^
According to the plan, everyone except Rinako is to be disguised as either human slaves or the new 'ruling race' somehow. That seems to involve being garbed in shabby brown robes and wigs, and sometimes some face paint. Ruri is not really sure what this 'new ruling race' IS, since no one has explained that to her, but from how the faces of the others look, she has this awful suspicion…
But there's no time for worrying now. Once the teleportation pad is hooked up properly, and they all step on, when the moment comes to send them elsewhere it is highly unpleasant. Ruri is unlikely to find out what it felt like for the others, but for the first 'Summoning' (sending?) it feels a bit like being ripped apart, molecule by molecule, and then being hurled through a frigid void so fast that the speed itself HURTS.
And then she is reformed on the Fort Coldkill platform. It was probably instantaneous, but it felt like it took several seconds. And it sucked. Then Other-Sheex activates the control panel at the Fort's pad, via some haxing of some kind, and sends the staggering, pale-faced Ruri, along with Rinako and Shemri, directly to The Facility — the base of operations and home for Head Researcher Hibari — before the younger twin even has a chance to recover from the first transition.
Fortunately, unlike the first teleport, the second one has no time 'between' spaces that she has to endure. She does not feel herself being ripped apart or crushed through a pinhole of a pinhole of a pinhole-sized spatial distortion or reassembled or any of that. Instead she just reappears with a horrendous headache centering on her right eye socket. Her right hand darts up to clutch at it instinctively, even though there is nothing she can do. She wonders belatedly if she should have told Other-Sheex about the other dimension in her head. Maybe it would have impacted how she felt after transitioning or something.
When Rinako starts yelling at the control panel, and slapping at it, Shiikaa leaps up to assist. However, assuming that Rinako will pay attention or interpret the message correctly would be dumb, so Ruri hisses, "Put your palm on the panel and HOLD it there, 'Princess'!" She gets up off her knees, not remembering when she got onto them in the first place, and pulls her hand away from the ragged bandages over her right eye. She had to store most of her clothing and such in Kara's scrolls so that they wouldn't get jumped at Fort Coldkill. But now they can change back. She hopes.
"Alright, so how do we get in?" she asks, looking around for an entrance into The Facility from this cargo loading zone. Hopefully the rest of this group will arrive soon to answer.
Other-Sheex, Other-Ruri, and 'Real'-Kara arrive next. Unlike Ruri's experience, there was no being ripped apart on the first teleport for anyone else, and the headache was not present either. But for Kara, at least, the first teleport felt like cold electricity crawling through her skeleton. It's not the worst thing she has ever felt, but it ranks pretty high up there.
The second teleport only has the disorientation of being presented with one set of sensory inputs — namely freaking cold air, and howling wind, and the visual input of Fort Coldkill — and then suddenly changing to another — in this case, still cold, but nearly silent, and they're inside a massive chamber that is apparently a freight entrance. So it's not as unpleasant.
Moving away from Other-Sheex quickly, Kara scratches her head a bit, the blonde wig she is wearing itching like crazy. Her skin has been painted stark white, with blue veins and patches of green rot all over her face. Other-Kara was apparently a skilled make-up artist, because she was even able to add realistic-looking gashes out of some kind of malleable material that could be colored appropriately, and so on.
She had asked how she looked. Other-Kara had said she looked disgusting. Kara was not sure whether to take that as a sign that the make-up was done properly, or as an insult. She just knew she would probably fit in. Either way, now that they're here, Other-Sheex confirms what Ruri said to Rinako. "It needs to be able to scan you, Rinako-san!" However, he only speaks after he, Other-Ruri, and the newly arrived Other-Kara, Other-Shemri, and Other-Shiikaa, all immediately drop into defensive positions upon arrival, and fan out to ensure their environment is secure.
If Rinako does as told, the warning lights and so forth stop immediately, and instead a red bar of light moves slowly over the control panel's surface, 'scanning'. Text appears at the top of the screen above the panel. 'Aura confirmed.' 'DNA confirmed.' 'Chakra stability confirmed.' 'Soul confirmed.' 'Welcome, Princess Rinako. Dark Triad-level access: Granted.'
And that appears to be that. If Rinako removes her hand, then no new lights turn on, no alarms go off, or anything else. The freight loading room has two enormous blast doors set in a nearby wall. There is another control panel next to the doors, presumably for opening them.
Other-Sheex says, "The plan is to get inside, and fight our way to the Level 5 Block-A Control Room. From there we can locate Tenjin, and then head towards her. There are artificial Kekkaijutsu — Barrier Techniques — that the guards can try to use to lock us in place. Rinako-san, you can take control of those barriers via verbal commands, and use them to our advantage. Please do so."
Other-Ruri snaps out, "Less talking, more moving! Let's go!" She then dashes off the teleport pad, moving for the doors. Other-Kara is right next to her, and Other-Shemri and Other-Shiikaa bring up the rear. Other-Sheex pauses only long enough to make sure everyone has arrived intact, and then moves after them. They wait on each side of the doors, backs to the walls, and wait for the gates to open so they can move inside. Kara checks 'her' Ruri, since she looks almost as pale as Kara's facepaint, and then sheds her robes in order to gain access to her Puppets. Pharaoh and Sekhmet are both released, and prepared for combat. She stands ready and waiting.
"Yeah, yeah, that's what I was going to try next. Don't look at me like that, I was. Tch, same to you, furball." After she's been shown by both feline and sibling, and told by Sheex, where to place her hand, the elder twin does so, holding her hand down onto the indicated spot to shut down the alarm and defense systems. With her limb on the panel, the dark-haired teen frowns around at the spacious room they were currently located in, before offering her helpful response to her sibling's query. "…Good question."
With the immediate danger out of the way, the dark-haired kunoichi listens to the outlined plan the others have formed as she adjust the few strips of cloth that now covered her form. "How the hell does she not freeze her buns off?" Dissatisfied muttering aside, she moves towards the doors as the others do, finally raising an objection that was at least peripherally pertinent to the situation at hand. "Why can't we do more sneaking? Call me lazy, but it seems it'd be a lot easier to just walk towards the evil Tenjin doppleganger than smash everything that gets in our way. …I think I might pop out if I have to fight in this."
As everyone else gets to take cover, Rinako is left with the task of placing her hand on yet another panel, idly wondering how these things worked and if there was a specific phrase she was required to say. But like all technology, it was beyond her as much as it was beyond anyone who hadn't designed or studied it, relegated in her mind to being a 'magic box'.
"Ah… Open, says me."
Shemri's a little confused by the immediate switch to Rambo-mode too. If the plan is to fight their way through, what's the point of the disguises? c.c Not that she's complaining, deception has never really been her style. :P Shemri loads a kunai into each of her sash ends, then joins the others waiting to infiltrate the hallways.
Ruri waves off Kara's concern, and walks more or less with stability across the cavernous room's metal floor. When she notices almost everyone is already ahead of her, she picks up the pace and gets into place. "I agree. Why are we disguised if we're going to fight? I know we didn't want to be identified as different back at that fort, but wouldn't it still be a good idea to not be identified? …Or for MOST of us to not be identified, at least?"
She shakes her head, and winces at the motion, before focusing on the doors that are likely about to open, and whatever lies on the other side. She just hopes what's on the other side is NOT what she SUSPECTS it will be.
Other-Ruri snaps at Rinako, "Look, we're a bit more experienced at this than you. Try not to question the one in charge of this operation, okay?" Other-Sheex turns his attention on Other-Ruri and shakes his head fractionally. Other-Ruri starts to open her mouth to respond or say something further, but instead just lets out a breath and says, "Sorry, Ri—Rurohashi-san. The pressure is making me a bit terse. We've never had a chance to strike this close and this hard at the enemy. I don't want to ruin this opportunity."
Other-Sheex doesn't nod his approval or anything, just answers the questions posed. "You are partially correct. The reason we were disguised to begin with was to not be identified at Fort Coldkill. However, the main reason for Rinako-san to be disguised is as a psychological weapon. None of the guards, soldiers, or slaves will dare to fire upon a member of the Dark Triad, even if he or she is under attack from such. To put even a scratch on the Princess would literally mean a fate worse than death.
"Meanwhile, by keeping the rest of us disguised as their own people, they may consider us to be part of some kind of 'kill squad' performing a purge of traitors. And anyone who fires upon the squad would be deemed a traitor." Other-Kara then jumps in to say, "An even better reason to fight instead of sneak is that some of the troops they have can identify humans by scent, not just sight. So we'd have to kill them anyway, due to their being hostile towards our kind. The Princess would be left alone, likely, but no such special treatment for the rest of us. Now let us proceed!"
Just inside the doors the Receiving Adjutant was frantically trying to get his human workers into some sort of order. The terrified humans were doing there best to look sharp and praying this was a bad dream. They'd just received word that Princess Rinako herself was outside. Why she was using the freight pad no one knew but no one was going to go out there to ask her. It must be one of her whims. Perhaps she was accompanying some treasure her Master had presented to her. Whatever the reason she was out there and might be coming this way. Hopefully she'd teleport to the guest chambers and send word to have whatever was out there brought in, unpacked and sent to its rightful place. Worst case scenario was that she'd choose to accompany it inside — in which case they were all in danger.
She might decide the humans looked slovenly and decide to beautify the area. Which was another way of saying decimate. The story of what she'd done to the servant who spilled the soup was infamous and repeated frequently. His fate had been typical of her malicious sense of humour and had involved boiling water and sliced carrots. Of course if she decided the ultimate responsibility for the humans' unaesthetic appearance rested with the adjutant… He shuddered. The Receiving Bay guards (who were there to oversee the humans rather than official Facility guards) were straightening their black uniforms and quickly polishing their amulets and beam crystals. Getting reprimanded by the Princess might be the last thing that happened to you.
There was a chime. She was coming in personally. Waving the humans to kneel (which they were already doing) the adjutant unsealed the doors and bowed low as they slid open.
He never saw what hit him and was dead before he struck the floor. The guards joined him a moment later.
The attack on The Facility had begun.
"Don't worry about it, Ru. Just remember that we all want to get these people, no matter what our reasons are."
If Rinako noticed the slip of her sibling's nickname, she didn't show it, frowning towards the door they would seen be going into. She really wasn't fond of the idea that of all of them, she was the one least likely to be attacked by their enemies, not when she was the one most-likely to be able to take the hits and keep fighting. Well, her and her other-sibling. Or fake-sibling. The stranger that only looked like her sister, she mentally corrected herself.
Princess. The title didn't exactly sit well with her, about as well as the outfit she was currently wearing, which she could have sworn she saw in a leather lingerie store, once. She'd spent her whole life proving that she was tougher than any boy around, and now she had to be called a 'princess'!? Pride aside, she swallows her discomfort and tries to think how a spoiled debutante who wasn't harboring a demonic power inside of her would act. A murderous spoiled debutante.
The door chimes open. Rinako does not rush through with the others to begin decimating the populace. She strolls in, as if just visiting for a tour, trying to wear the strips of leather that only a fetishist would call an 'outfit' like a regal mantle of authority, her small nose turned up in the air and her expression doing it's best to look supremely bored and uninterested. "This area needs to be purged. Stay quiet and make this easy for everyone involved. Struggling will only prolong this chore." Her voice is normal, a bit softer than it usually is, more refined and enunciated, as it not really caring whether it carried over the cries of shock or pain.
Go time. Shemri dashes in low to the ground, arms crossed with a kunai in each fist. While she has every intention of doing her part, she tries to keep to the back of the group. Not only are the local versions more familiar with the dangers which they face, Shemri's still the lowest-ranked and least-capable shinobi here. c.c In large part /because/ of that, it's not too hard to keep that position—the others are tearing through the opposition at a rate that almost makes it trickier to keep /up/. Shemri and Shiikaa concern themselves with detecting and finishing off any foes that their team-mates may have not quite killed. Nobody's going to play dead and remain to raise an alarm later when these hunters are through. >/
Perhaps Rinako didn't notice the slip of name usage, but Ruri did. She started to ask a puzzled question without taking her eye off the doors, but then she realized that it wasn't HER that had been addressed. A sudden FEAR swells up in her chest, seeming to pressure her heart and make it hard to breathe. She had always tried to be there for her sister… She had always tried to be there to understand her, and had even willingly taken the monster that was Sheex into her being. It wasn't about strength. Not completely. The power that came with the transformed Sheex's body being incorporated into her own was a benefit, but not the goal. She wanted to have something inside of her, struggling to get loose, so that she would be able to better understand her twin and the fight that SHE faced every day.
But what if there was nothing she could do to gain that understanding? What if there would always be a rift between her and Rinako, and there was absolutely nothing she could do to fill it? And worse than either of those questions was the more horrifying idea that had sprung to mind… What if Rinako could find more understanding from this 'Other-Ruri' than from the one she had grown up with? They both had a Bijuu in their bodies. More than that, they had the SAME ONE. That had to unify their experiences somehow. It just added to Ruri's worries about being able to understand this alternate world's Rinako somewhat.
The chime sounds and the doors start to open. There's no time for these worries, these doubts, or these fears. They'll handle this mission and then go home and this 'Other-Ruri' will stay here and she won't take her sister away from her. Ever. Shoving down the fears inside she starts to turn to face the enemies. They've already begun dropping, however. The speed of the attack stuns Ruri. The doors are still opening when a seemingly gaseous attack from one of her 'allies' blasts the bowing creature before she can get a good look at it. The petrified figure topples forward as two more entities of not-quite-human detail are crushed into the walls by concentrated, high-pressure, water blasts. When the first one hits the ground and shatters the other two are already falling. Team Sheex gives neither attack cry nor chance to surrender. Nor does it appear that any of them were considering such.
Ruri tries to shake off her shock and move within the receiving hall beyond the now-open freight doors. She sees no more enemies, but there's plenty of human workers around. Are they going to be an issue? Where are the indiscriminate guards that were mentioned? Are they higher up or something?
Kara waits with the others, behind and a few feet to the side of Rinako. She doesn't provide input on the dispute regarding disguises, and fails to realize what Ruri is upset about. When the doors open, she tenses and waits to be able to identify the enemies. She doesn't get a chance. Other-Sheex breathes out some kind of dusty-looking smoke that turns the Adjutant into a stone statue — apparently a rather fragile one too — and Other-Ruri spits out a stream of water onto the floor that she then sends off on two different paths by thrusting her hands in two different directions. The water shoots to the left and right, and pulverizes the unfortunate guards. Whatever they were, they aren't immune to crushing force, apparently.
Like the huddled human workers, Kara is gaping in astonishment as Team Sheex dashes into the loading dock. A moment later Other-Ruri calls, "Clear." Other-Kara straightens up and her eyes flick towards the gawking humans, utterly terrified by the appearance of the 'Princess' and her apparent decision to 'purge' the area. At Other-Sheex's nod, Kara's doppleganger raises one of her curved blades. Kara sees what appears to be a dozen small electric spheres form in the air. Without warning, the spheres leap forward and the workers drop like stones.
Kara's jaw drops, then she screams, ">WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING!?<"
"They're fine." Kara spins to face Other-Ruri. The alternate continues, "They are merely stunned. Those were low power. The effect is similar to being hit by a stunning Genjutsu. They'll recover shortly." "Unless any of them have weak hearts." Other-Ruri doesn't seem bothered by Kara's rebuke. "None of them do. When the Dead King's forces were filling the enclaves they were rather eugenic in their standards. They only wanted healthy slaves. Why settle for inferior merchandise? So no human under abomination command possesses congenital defects or carries hereditary diseases. They tested the applicants. Everyone who had either of those was left outside to starve. So no more diabetics, hemophiliacs, or a host of others. They were a literal death sentence for everyone who had them."
Missing the implications of all this, Kara asks, "But why stun them at all?" "So they wouldn't warn the monsters. And before you say humans wouldn't betray humans to the monsters, remember that this is >our< world. We've learned by experience that resistance has been beaten out of these people. The fear of punishment and reprisals from the monsters is greater than any hope that we can do anything to aid them." In her own thoughts, Other-Ruri thinks, 'And the true tragedy is that they're usually right. Except maybe, just maybe, things will be different this time.'
Other-Sheex says, "This is neither the time nor the place for a debate. We have to move fast. Rinako-san, you're up front with me. The rest of you follow us. Ka-san, rearguard." Other-Kara nods and moves into position.
Unless there are any further protests, Other-Ruri looks towards the 'Princess' expectantly. There's another pair of doors up ahead, beyond the unconscious workers. It has another panel that will likely require a hand slapped on it to open. And on the other side is an expansive corridor. Moving forward would be a good idea.
"It doesn't matter, Kara. We'll do what we have to do to get through this. Under threat of death or not, these people are aiding our enemies. So if we're not going to kill them, let's speed this along so they don't come to while they're still in a position to hamper us."
The stunned workers barely get a spared glance from Rinako, who took her duty far more seriously than she took human lives. Duty was almost all that mattered, and it was her duty as a kunoichi to return to her homeland and give a report, and her duty as a big sister to make sure her little sister got home. Her duty as a human being to spare other human beings took a distant second to the first two, no matter how she felt about the situation of the people on this world.
Though the elder of the Rurohashi siblings never stops walking, she has to catch up to the others who've dashed ahead in their zig-zagging routes, delivering death to the others. Before long, she's approaching the doors, heedless of the carnage about them, as if she owns the whole damned place and this were a normal, everyday occurence to her. If this was what it was like to be in power, maybe it wouldn't be so bad… None of this silly frozen winter stuff, though. No, the Princess would demand a tropical paradise to rule over. The thought causes her to smile just the tiniest bit despite herself as she slaps her hand against the plat meant to open the next door.
Unless something unexpected happens, the dark-haired teenager leads the group, along with Fake-Sheex, through the doorways and into the huge corridor beyond, walking briskly, as if she had somewhere more important to be.
Shemri carefully wipes her blades on the clothes of the nearest corpse. This isn't pleasant business, certainly, but it's not altogether unfamiliar to any of them. Occupied as she was with the down-and-dirty task of stabbing anything that still showed signs of life, Shemri almost missed the action that caused all the outcry. She felt a touch of alarm as the orbs went out, but the explanation came before she could raise any objections of her own. It's a funny thing, really…they know that these alternate versions of themselves are most definitely different people, and may well have different ethical standards than they do (in Other-Rinako's case, apparently most definitely). But on the practical level, these people are the Suna team's only real hope of getting home, and it won't do to be jumping at every possible sign of disagreeable conduct. :/
"We have many times been over the fact that we must trust each other, as a simple matter of survival," Shemri remarks, getting up and following toward the next area. "I feel we have seen enough by now to have faith even without that motivation."
Ruri takes a moment to examine one of the crushed bodies of the guards. She really does not want to. But she would rather confirm her suspicion NOW, rather than be faced with it in a combat situation. Sure enough… When she looks at the right-hand guard from a few feet away… It is obvious even with the enormous force applied to the body that it was dead before it 'died'. Undead. That's what the new 'ruling race' is. The beings that command the living humans are, infact, DEAD HUMANS.
She feels shivers running up and down her spine and fights the urge to get sick as she looks away from the festering corpse and moves ahead briskly. When the next set of doors open, Ruri is on the lookout for anything that looks like it's moving around when it shouldn't be. Such beings SHOULD be fairly obvious, based on the fact that they are dressed better than the living slaves. Clean uniforms, polished weapons, etc.
She's not going to be late to the party a second time. If anything dead appears, she'll make it MORE dead. Her fingers are practically itching to destroy these monsters, even as her heart beats rapidly, and cold sweat begins to flow. She has friends and allies here. They'll keep each other safe. This isn't a repeat of the sewers. No one is going to sneak up on them. Things are well-lit here. No more bites to her shoulder, or anything like that. Everything will be okay.
Sucking in a shuddering breath, she plods along behind Rinako in her clothing that would ordinarily make Ruri STARE openly, but is instead merely noted vaguely and then ignored in this instance. 'Come on, you shit-heads.' she thinks. 'Give me a reason…'
This level is obviously more for working than for show. Drab and undecorated. Here you'll find laundries, kitchens, workshops, servants' quarters and the thousand other things that keep the majestic bulk above them functioning smoothly. Other-Sheex moves forward swiftly and silently. Rinako likely matches his speed. From the general tension in the air, falling behind may be unhealthy. Behind them the others follow as best they can while Other-Kara moves like Other-Sheex's mirror image. So far so good. But discovery is inevitable. The question is, how far can they get before it happens?
Within her assigned Guest Chambers, Princess Rinako feels a growing sense of danger. Of course there is no reason to think anything might be wrong. She is in the most secure part of the Facility, which boasts a very well-armed guard force and the most advanced security system available. Her defenses are second only to the Fortress, and if Hibari had a Tailed Beast Chakra Extractor available, the Facility would be its equal.
Not that the Fortress of Eyes needs any defenses when the Dead King is in residence, but her Master isn't one to leave things to chance. As for the Facility… She raises a hand to her throat, involuntarily… While she may not be her Master's equal, she is capable of repelling any attack single-handed. Then she realises something feels odd. The stone seems to be vibrating gently. That must be what she's been feeling unconsciously. Why? It hasn't done this before. Why is it activating itself? Feeling a little disquieted, she shifts positions and speaks.
"Command mode." Picking up that phrase, the automated security monitors await input. "Open line to security central, audio only." There is a quiet beep to indicate the order is understood and being executed. The man beside her stirs and mutters sleepily, "What's wrong Rin?"
"The name is Rinako." Men! They think just because you've been lovers that gives the right to chop up your name. 'Always insist on your full name', her Master had taught her. 'How else can you expect your name to command respect and obedience?' It is a wise policy and they all follow it. Though she suspects Hibari and her harem of girls use nicknames in private. Well, let them! At their level of intimacy it is a harmless affection. She doubts she'll ever be that close to anyone. If she ever is, it certainly won't be with >this< creep.
"Sorry, Rinako." She spares him a look. He actually looks hurt. 'Get used to it, buddy.' This has been a disappointing night. Not totally. The pleasures of the flesh are always worth indulging, but it didn't yield the results she hoped for. Then she hears the monitor whisper, "Link established." She hears a lot of shouting in the background.
"Commander, what is going on?" she keeps her voice mildly curious. There is no need for overt threats. Her underlings know her well enough to understand she expects prompt answers.
"Princess… Your highness…" The commander sounds nervous. Only natural if something has gone very wrong on his watch. Which, judging from the cacophony, it has. There is a momentary pause as he contemplates the dangers of admitting there are intruders versus lying to the Princess. He decides honesty gives the best chance of survival. "A small strike force has entered the Facility. Reports are sketchy, but it appears to be lead by the Suna-Rebels. Total numbers are uncertain. They disabled the main scanner, but not before flooding all the sensors with false data. We're purging the system now but it'll be ten more minutes before everything's back on line."
Rinako nods, "Definitely Sheex. Looks like the huntees have decided to try being the hunters for a change. Or to go out in a blaze of glory. How did they get into the Facility anyway?"
"We don't know that yet, majesty. There's no sign of unauthorized use of the teleport pads or of an external breach. Blocking fields are still secure, so if they teleported in they'd have had to use the internal pads. But we have no access within a reasonable time frame."
"We'll worry about assigning blame later. For now, why aren't you using the contingency plans for Rebel attack? Activate the Kekkai Generators, pin them against the Rebels, and send in enough troops to finish the job."
"We've tried that, but it's not working!" The captain sounds very exasperated. "Somehow they're disabling and reactivating the shields at will. We can't understand how! It's hampering >us< rather than >them<. They're also locking shields over the pads so we can't transport in enough troops to finish them. The new fields are refusing to respond to anyone without Dark Triad-level clearance, so we can't hit them from behind. We're forcing our way through the fields, but that takes time. Meanwhile, this idiotic system keeps informing us that no unauthorized user access is taking place!"
"I must have a talk with Hibari-chan about her unbeatable system. It seems Sheex has found a way to fool it into thinking someone with high-level access is along. We may have to crash the system." "But… but, your majesty! That would shut down all the shields, and given the confusion we'd probably have mass insurrection among the humans! Also they'd have a clear run to your chambers, and those of the Head Researcher!" 'And if anything happens to you, the King will have me tortured to death.' the captain is likely thinking.
"Where are they now?" "Level three. We may have them contained. I'm getting troops there as fast as I can. I've got barricades set up on the main stairs and we're flooding the troops in by the secondary stairs and the elevators. We've neutralized the fields locked over three of the level one pads. Unfortunately, this destroyed two of the three pads."
Rinako looks up, "Mirror, display current level three security schematic." Overhead, their reflections disappear, replaced by a floor plan of the Facility's third level. The intruders are represented by blue dots gathered together to form a blob. Almost as soon as the image appears, she hears somebody in Security Central shout, "We have breakthrough! They're heading for the stairs!" This is followed by a worried voice from directly behind her.
"Rinako, they're only one level down!" He nods towards the door that covers her personal teleport pad. "Shouldn't we perhaps take a trip to my Tower…?" Seeing the hostility in her eyes, he quickly adds, "…or perhaps to the Fortress." She still doesn't look appeased.
"I am not some little girl who needs to cower behind her Master every time there's trouble."
"No, no. Of course not. I was just suggesting that… That maybe the King would want to handle this personally."
"If he did he would never have assigned the hunt to me. He has no need to prove anything by killing them personally. Flee if you like, but I am remaining." The rebuke is obvious and his plans hinge on remaining in her good graces.
"Obviously, I'll stay by your side. How could you think otherwise?" She smiles, "How could I indeed. It's good to know I can count on you." 'And if you believe that,' she thinks to herself, 'you'll believe everything.' Aloud she says, "Patch me into the comm link with the Captain in charge of the barricades." Above she can see the blue mass is almost there.
In addition to the chaos in the Security Center, she now hears a voice barking commands. In the background someone calls out the rapidly reducing distance between them and the attackers. There is a firm call of, "Volley fire", answered with the hum of Chakra weapons and a variety of Ninjutsu-based attacks. She isn't too surprised to hear the crackle of lightning and the rush of water. Yet there are other voices in there shouting at the top of their lungs. They keep repeating phrases identical or similar to ones she has read of in her Master's tactical assessment notes. From the noise, it is a complete melee down there. There is a scream of, "JINCHUURIKI! DOZENS OF THEM! WE CAN'T…" The transmission breaks off suddenly.
She feels a hand on her shoulder. "That didn't sound good." Rinako nods, "Guards dying in the middle of a transmission is usually a bad sign. It would seem they'll be here before long. I'd say a few precautions are in order." She looks toward the impenetrable darkness within a small alcove. Something within stirs as it senses her attention.
The Commander's voice cuts in on her thoughts. "Princess we are pouring troops into the laboratory and will have the situation stabilized momentarily. However, I would like to recommend that you temporarily withdraw until then." "I'm staying." "BUT…!" "This is not a debate, Commander. End transmission." With that, she turns back to her paramour. "We must prepare to welcome our visitors. The way they're chewing through the guards, they won't be long."
"What do you suppose that guard meant by dozens of Jinchuuriki?" Rinako snorts. "Dozens… Hah! What it means is Sheex and Kara have got some idiots to dress up like the ex-Jinchuuriki, and follow them. Good use of psychological warfare by Sheex. All those Jinchuuriki distract the guards, so they don't realize only one is firing. Now, quiet. I need to concentrate."
Meanwhile, Other-Kara pours more lightning down the corridor. They almost managed to get out of the sub-levels before running into the guard detachment. That had been the start of the serious fighting, though Other-Ruri had dealt with them easily enough. She gave no Jutsu name that anyone recognized. She just yelled, ">DIE!<" and then crushed them all with a wave of water that compressed around the guards, until it had effectively the same amount of 'depth pressure' as the bottom of the ocean.
There was always hesitance when the guards and soldiers say the 'Princess', but eventually they realized those >around< her were unrecognized. Except the one with the corpse and the statue. She was clearly the Suna-Rebel known as Kara, though where this new technique of hers had come from, none knew or lived to discover. Shiikaa and Sheex both used a mix of Henge, Genjutsu, and Earth Clones to appear to be a variety of people Rinako, Ruri, Kara, and Shemri had never met. All appeared to be quite frightening to the enemies though, and the shrieks of "Jinchuuriki" might provide a clue as to why.
Eventually, however, after determining the location of Hibari within the Facility, they had run into a small bit of bad fortune.
The 'special soldiers' that had been mentioned before were apparently set loose. Where the other guards had been mostly intact, and worn clothing… These… >Things< were more skeletal than anything that had been seen so far. Ragged, rotten, and equipped with foot-long claws on the ends of their fingers, their empty eye sockets stared blankly even as they tracked the scent of living flesh to the intruders.
They rush down the hall in a solid wave of animated, dead tissue. So close to the target. So close, and now >this<. Team Sheex is tiring, and so might be Team Ruri also. But they have to make it through somehow. And with two Jinchuuriki on their side, they'll have a better chance of success no matter how tired the rest of them are at the end.
It was easy, too easy! Barely anyone even dared to attack her for fear of some mysterious 'horrible fate' would crawl out of the shadows to consume them. But they were resisting the attacks of the others readily enough, and even fighting back. It was hard to remain a cool and detached demeanor when friends and her dear sister were fighting for their lives. Things were bad, and getting worse, enough until the arrival of some sort of NEW threat was caught of sight of. More dead things.
Her sister wouldn't like that.
Enough was enough. Her genetic material might be identical to the monster that looked like her, and thus keep her safe from harm, but she wasn't going to stand by and allow these things to simply tear in and have their way with her team! Rinako's hand slams into the ground beneath her, followed quickly by her other one, forming two large cracks in the otherwise solid surface near her. In her slinky little outfit it wasn't hard to see the jinchuuriki's muscles bunch and strain, a thunderous cracking noise of solid material breaking rending the air as more cracks form in the floor, until a sizeable chunk of the structure was simply torn out of the floor, without even the use of her transformation!
The huge piece of material, easily twice as big as Rinako herself, is heaved overhead, rearing her arm back once, twice, and then with a feral grunt heaving the unforgiving stone projectile towards the oncoming skeletal monsters. "GET OUT OF MY WAY!" Maybe they'd actually listen to her. Idly she wondered if slapping her hand against them would deactivate the creatures.
She'd soon enough find out as she follows her flung floor-boulder along on it's trail to close in with the new arrivals. It was time to see just how sharp those little claws they wielded actually were, and how effective they would be when flattened into a fine, powdery paste with her bare fists.
Oh joy. -.- Always with the things that can't feel pain, and can't be 'killed' without outright severing their heads or something. XP Or can't they? Those guys from before, while…fleshier than these new ones, seemed to be dead in some sense before the shinobi arrived, and they appeared to dread being assaulted too. Maybe these undead will be more cooperatively damagable than what Team Ruri's accustomed to as well.
…Or maybe Rinako will moot the whole issue by crushing them all with a chunk of the building. c.c Regardless, Shemri prepares to deal with any 'survivors' that get past Rinako. The claws look pretty nasty, but when it comes to range, Shemri still has them beat, as swift stabs from her 'tails' will demonstrate. Shiikaa, meanwhile, perches on Shemri like a shoulder-mounted cannon, ready to fire a ball of compressed wind chakra at any zombies he can get a clear shot at.
Ruri keeps her distance. She is not the first to strike the initial guard detachment — well, she sort of IS, but that's not REALLY her — but she gets in plenty of attacks in the next encounter. And the next. And the NEXT… She is about half-empty in terms of Flesh Scroll tattoos by the time they have visited Security Central, accessed the weird, high-tech machine that can apparently tell where people are, among other things, and then moved on to their destination.
She has been trying not to think of the guards she has been fighting as dead people. This has worked out marvellously, because they aren't acting like dead people. Infact, many of them are NOT dead people. She has never killed so many human beings before in her life, and yet the battle through the passages has left behind many corpses that were not corpses before someone in the group made them into such. She'll worry about it later, when this nightmare is over.
Almost on cue, the normal guards that have been assaulting them have stopped showing up, leaving an eerie silence, outside of the sound of heavy breathing, and the various ninja running down the hall. She doesn't know why the news that the 'Princess' was leading this incursion hadn't reached those in charge yet. She'd seen Other-Sheex do something in Security Central that apparently screwed up their machines really badly. But other than that, it has just been Rinako turning off or turning on barriers at will, and keeping them from being simply overwhelmed by sheer numbers.
She doesn't trust the silence. Which is good, because that's when a heavily reinforced section of what she had assumed was the wall turns out to be a multi-layer GATE. And on the other side of that gate… Horrors. The shrieking, babbling, hungry dead come charging down the hall at her, and despite the bright lighting it's like she's down in the sewers again. Only worse, because these aren't some form of mutant that resembles a zombie. These are the REAL THING. She freezes up. All she can do is stare into those empty pits as they come barreling forward, intent on shredding her to pieces or eating her alive. Her legs nearly give out on her.
Her sister's voice is vaguely heard nearby, but it seems to come from far away. Even the sounds of the floor being torn up does not penetrate. But when that section of floor smashes right into the frontlines, crushing a number of the ghouls, she snaps out of it. She's still shaken deeply, but there's no time to waste. She grits her teeth and uses up her last Stored Fire Stream tattoo to torch the ones that try to pour around the boulder in the middle of the hall. On hindsight that was a bad idea, because there will now be flaming undead running around until the fire eats through the connective tissue enough for them to fall apart.
Cursing at her lack of thought, she starts dropping random blunt objects on the nasties, hoping to pin them down or at least put an obstruction between them and the ranged fighters.
Team Sheex is tired. Team Ruri is likely getting there, if they are not already. Other-Shemri has been hanging back in the same manner as Shemri, but she has been using different attacks. Generally kunai bombs, though she also appears to have picked up the ability to send out invisible Chakra blasts that mimic her physical movements at some point. A punch from her at 100 feet away is as good as a punch in melee range. And she is apparently strong enough with this ability that the people she hits generally don't get back up when they hit the floor — dead or not. However, this is also apparently very energy intensive to do, as when the horde of undead shows up, she moves into close-range combat with a pair of altered kunai — the blades are long enough to qualify as short-swords. Shemri's attacks, meanwhile, are just as effective. Perhaps her lesser experience compared to her alternate self may make her tire out faster, but for the time being she seems to have the situation handled. Shiikaa's wind blasts are also quite useful in taking down the apparently less-well-constructed undead.
Rinako's boulder-throwing breaks up the lines of the ghouls, but other than crushing more than a dozen of them, and then several more as it rolls forward a bit further, it does not seem to drive fear into them. The other undead from before were intelligent. These ones are just mindless beasts. However, they also have no ranged weapons, and Rinako's order to get out of her way seems to be effective. Or at least they appear to have it built-in to not attack her, as they do not retaliate to her crushing blows or try to evade them in the slightest.
Other-Ruri shrouds herself in a dimly-glowing Cloak of Chakra, and just runs in a straight line through the undead ranks. The Cloak seems to become more visible as it is concentrated — focused, somehow — into a single point, directly ahead of the Jinchuuriki. The zombies react badly to the forward-facing Chakra field. Just coming near it, let alone touching it, seems to be equivalent to being struck by one of those boulders Rinako threw, because the undead seem to just >fly apart<. Other-Ruri is not even running that fast, but the repelling ability of the Cloak is behaving as though she were running quite fast indeed — or had a lot more mass than she actually does.
Meanwhile, Ruri's fire attack does indeed torch a number of undead, that then proceed to come in close to attack the others. The bowling balls and anvils and wall safes and so forth that drop on them from above, however, terminate their approaches rather quickly. Generally by caving in or squashing their heads.
Kara is laying down the hurt on the ghouls, and Other-Kara is doing the same, though the latter has given up the lightning attacks in favor of performing a nearly dance-like form of combat that uses her swords to take the undead apart and move on before the previous ones had even finished hitting the ground. Other-Sheex has been laying down the hurt as well, using various Earth Release jutsu, but he now settles for doing something that is probably a lot smarter than what everyone else is doing. He leaps up onto one of the walls and runs up towards the ceiling. Then he runs along the ceiling until he is beyond the ghouls, and makes the floor erupt into a tall wall to block off the undead. "Everyone!" he calls out over all the noise. "Get to the ceiling and come over here! No time to waste fighting these things!" Even as he speaks, yet more undead continue to flow from the wall-gate, though their passage is severely hampered by all the fallen ghouls blocking the way. They just climb over each other, though. They'll likely reach the top of the wall that Other-Sheex has formed if given the time. He'll have to seal it off soon.
The teenaged jinchuriki probably shouldn't be too upset that none of the beasts are attacking her, as it certainly makes it easy to attack them, but every hit that didn't come her way was a hit that was tossed at one of her companions. Her chakra shields are conserved, activated only intermittently, as her hands, feet, forearms, or shins come into contact with one of the ghouls, adding hardened chakra to her blows. She strikes one in the back of it's skull as it runs by, bending forward and kicking out behind her to simultaneously strike at another one that tries to get past her in order to attack her team.
It goes against almost everything the elder Rurohashi twin knows about to combat to leave while her enemies are still standing and capable of coordinated movement, or that may have just been her bijuu's ever-present rage welling up within her. Crouching low, she simply launches herself up into the air after a moment's hesitation, the ghoul's lack of focus on her making her getaway easy as her hands and feet crunch into the ceiling, using her chakra to cling tightly to the inverted surface.
"How far away from our target are we!? They obviously know we're imposters by now, if we don't reach her soon we're going to have to pull out or get overwhelmed!"
Even as she shouts out what's likely pretty obvious by now, Rinako moves in the direction indicated by Sheex, keeping an eye on her sister as she does so, assuring herself that her twin was all ri- That wasn't her sibling. Where was- Oh. It takes her a moment to find the 'correct' Ruri in all the chaos going on, the dark-haired kunoichi pointedly waiting for her sibling to join the group before she's willing to continue on. "If this keeps up, we won't be able to get out, either!"
Undead that can actually be taken down efficiently, y…ay? Well, yeah, yay! n.n Shemri's actually enjoying this a little. >) About time they got some monsters they can really slice to ribbons! Only problem is, they've got a bit /too/ much of them. It doesn't take too long for Shemri to get her fill of stabbing zombies, and Shiikaa's starting to get a strained throat. XP So when Sheex presents a more permanent solution to the problem, they're both rather relieved. A quick flip and an upside-down run later, and Shemri and Shiikaa join Sheex on the other side of the wall. "…I hope we shall have another way of getting back?" c.c
The moment the wall rises up from the floor, and Other-Sheex starts shouting, Ruri is more than happy to get up the wall and out of reach of the undead. She actually doesn't make her way to the ceiling until after she sees Rinako do the same, but once that is done, she quickly joins everyone else. She has no more desire to face these things than anyone else here. Except maybe Shemri, who is some kind of Necrostabbophile! Crazy!
Getting to the other side of the wall, she is eager to put distance between herself and the ghouls, so without even waiting for further instructions she simply charges down the hall beyond. The map they saw had shown the location of their target. And according to that map, Hibari should be just ahead. No more stairwells, no more elevators, no more anything. They can just run right up and take her down. Easy-peasy.
Indeed, everyone is quick to vacate the ghoul-side of the wall. No one wishes to stick around. Other-Ruri stays slightly longer than everyone else, but only to make sure everyone else is safe. Then she joins Rinako on the ceiling, and momentarily shows a small smile of comraderie to her twin. Then she remembers this isn't >her< twin, and how she feels about her own. The smile goes away instantly and she scowls as she runs towards where her sensei is located. When everyone is on the other side, Other-Sheex seals off the wall, even as the undead scrabble and pile atop each other in an attempt to reach the top. The top no longer exists now, though. So the two teams of ninja are 'safe'. In as much as they can really >ever< be safe in an enemy fortress.
Other-Sheex answers the questions posed as Ruri runs ahead. "As I explained before, there is a way to get out of here, yes. That is why I needed a blood sample from you, Rinako-san. Something has to remain behind to keep the teleportation platform active long enough to send everyone out of here, but we cannot leave >you< behind." Kara runs down the hall, glad for once to be wearing some actual substantial 'support'. She could get used to this 'wearing real clothes' thing. It's certainly less painful when doing ninja acrobatics! This train of thought is derailed as she realizes she feels a bit weak. Probably from all the Jutsu she has been using. Shaking her head she tries to catch up with everyone else. Other-Kara is silent and runs along gracefully, seeming to be hindered not by her anatomy. Of course, she also doesn't have to control two Puppets at the same time while running either.
And a short time later, everyone is clustered before the doors that block the entry to the Head Researcher's rooms. Other-Ruri is about to order Rinako to unseal the doors, when a pair of doors on the >other< side of the hall slide open. Opulent chambers lay beyond the suddenly open portal. Team Sheex had whirled around instantly at the first hint of sound from behind, but no targets present themselves. It's clearly an invitation to come in. "It's a trap." Other-Ruri says simply. "Probably, but if Tenjin wants to confront us personally, then it will just expediate things." Kara blinks, seeming to remember that Hibari's rooms were on the >right< side of the hallway, not the >left<… "Hey…" she starts. Other-Ruri doesn't wait, though. She just rushes inside, and then so does the rest of Team Sheex. Kara decides she must be misremembering. In all the chaos, such a detail might get confused.
She moves to follow, but waits until Ruri gives the word as well. If she receives it, then she follows Ruri into the chambers and through the various hallways, until they all arrive at the bedchambers.
Other-Ruri charges in, followed by the others. Kara rushes after them and is very surprised when she slams into Other-Shemri's back. Why had they stopped so suddenly? Then she sees what they are looking at and makes a strangled noise as her jaw drops in shock.
There are two figures on the massive, four-post bed before them. Rinako doesn't have to worry about her counterpart wearing embarrassing clothes, because right now the only thing Princess Rinako is wearing is a black choker (with an odd jewel in the center) around her neck. Her >much< older companion is also unattired, but has wrapped a sheet around himself. His eyes are red and glowing slightly in the shadows. Both are leaning against the headboard, watching the intruders with amusement.
"My, my. What a pleasant surprise. My dear sister has come to see me after all this time. Your sense of timing is as dismal as always, but I suppose you wouldn't be >you< if you had any capacity for forethought to speak of."
Oh, dear. These are not the Dark Triad members they were looking for. And for once, the Princess is >not< in another castle. How very inconvenient.