Date: July 25, 2010
No one really knows what the hell is going on right now, but Sheex is back. That means tensions are a >teensy< bit high.
"Mirror Mirror - Familiar Strangers"
Frigid Forest - Unknown
She can feel the partial impact as the blade hits her flesh, or rather, hits the woven shell of chakra mere millimeters from her flesh. For all practical purposes, it seems as if she just has stupidly-hard skin, almost as if she were protected by a chitinous carapace rather than the usual soft skin of most humans. Rinako can feel the blade beginning to make it's way past her protective barriers, but she didn't feel the puncturing bite of the wicked knife, which meant that they were at least effective in this instance.
It so sucked when they weren't!
But for all her efforts, and risking getting stabbed, her fist finds nothing but wind, and she is left holding a small momento of her attacker in the form of the strip of cloth that had previously been covering his face. She squints at 'him' sourly through the darkness as he skids away, finally halting 'his' backward progression. Only 'his' features seemed far too fair to belong on any man, and looked vaguely familiar, despite the shadows.
That's when the leader of their attackers shows himself, drawing the jinchuriki's eyes for a moment, before she glances back at her original combatant, sure that either Kara or Ruri would soon engage this new threat. Her eyes snap back almost immediately in a comical double-take as she starts, then points aggressively, rapidly adjusting her attention from faux-Kara to Resurrected-Sheex.
"YOU!" Through sheer force of will, the dark-haired kunoichi bends the muscles of the broken finger of her non-pointing hand into a proper fist. "My sister already killed you, you asshole! Oh baby, but I've been dreaming of this rematch!" Ruri's timely arrival and attack manages to allow Rinako time to absorb the words spoken by the much-hated male. "…Did he call me a 'princess'? And make clones of you guys!? Just two more reasons to rip his face off. Everyone remember what he's capable of. I may have to go… a little crazy."
Shemri hears the solid sound of her adversary's feet against the tree trunk. So, she's dealing with somebody who's quick to recover and compensate. Shemri draws her kunai to defend herself, and--huh? Where is she throwing those--WHUH-oh! o.O; Shemri raises her knives and manages to block the ones incoming from the sides, but the one behind draws a painful gash on her calf. >.<; It crosses through Shemri's mind to wonder whether she'd actually be slowed more by the injury than by the cold if the cold wasn't numbing it a bit. Shiikaa hears the rushing sound from the darkness and counters with a spread-out gust. It dampens the effect of the wind bullet, but doesn't totally disperse it. Shiikaa shakes his head rapidly to dispel the stinging sensation around his whiskers. ^x.x^
Shemri knows she probably ought to take advantage of her opponent's momentary inability, but something feels very much strange. It feels like the occasions when she and Shiikaa spar together, only more so, if that makes any sense. And after a moment, the reason why becomes apparent…though it makes even less sense somehow. "Eh? Hoi, who…how did…" Shemri rises to her feet slowly. "…I do not know what is going on, but if you try to fool my family with this, you shall suffer greatly." >(
Ruri stares into the face of one of the two men that she hates above all others. Unlike the others, she shows no evidence of surprise, hesitation, or anything other than hostility. Whatever is going on here, however this is happening, right now it doesn't matter as much as the threat posed by Sheex and these look-a-likes. What matters most is killing him dead, once and for all, and keeping her sister AWAY from him.
She hasn't gone through everything that she has simply to let this doppleganger or clone or whatever this is take Rinako away from her. Rinako has suffered enough with the burden of ONE monster sharing her body. To be dominated by a SECOND monster… She doesn't deserve that. NO ONE deserves that. And if Ruri has any say in it, she'll never have to experience it.
Ruri can honestly say she has never wanted to kill someone so much in her life. She has plotted and planned to eliminate the Kazekage, and stewed in her hate for him. But she has never actually been confronted with him, and felt such an IMMEDIATE desire to terminate his existence. She has faced Sheex before, and she has had time to cultivate a hatred for him that matches what she holds for Sousa. And now here he is, once again threatening to take away the only thing that REALLY matters to her. Her Village, her friends, her mother and father… All of those are optional and superfluous. Rinako is NOT 'OPTIONAL'.
Thus there is quite a bit of Killing Intent radiating from her, directed at Sheex. An immediate intention and desire to murder, rather than the more drawn-out anger she is used to experiencing. That's all the warning Sheex would receive, before Ruri unseals one of her Stored Shields -- a proper shield this time, instead of whatever happened to be convenient and available -- and charges straight ahead! Such an obvious attack and tactic, running at Sheex with only a largeish rounded piece of metal to protect her! But the shield is large enough that it even hides her behind it.
So it may be a bit of a surprise to good ol' Sheex, when the shield suddenly slows its advance and falls to the ground, revealing Ruri is NOT behind it. At the same time this happens, Ruri has just resolved in the air next to Sheex via Body Flickering. It seems she just used the 'Chakra Saturation' that lets her manipulate things she has unsealed for six seconds to move the shield forward.
Further, if Sheex's face is not pointed towards her, he can't do that eye-based possession technique of his. That would mean that Ruri is completely safe from retaliation for a split-second as, in mid-air at the Jounin's side, she slashes right at Sheex's throat with a kunai in hand. No words this time. No screams for him to die. She fights in silence for the moment.
Sheex's mouth turns down in a deeper frown as he scans his opponents. He recognizes them of course. They certainly look different in some ways… Actually, all of them are quite a bit >younger< than he is used to seeing them. Even as Rinako speaks so heatedly and strangely, his eyes slide to the side to glance along the line of allies to his right. Kara, Shiikaa, Shemri… They're still over there, and still full-grown adults. Shemri looks as surprised as he feels. It's hard to read a cat's expression, but Shiikaa seems tense too. And Kara… Well, there's never much sign of emotion from her. Even in this unusual situation, she looks as calm and lethally ready as always. Sheex's eyes return to the enemy. 'Is that a corpse?' he ponders briefly as he sees what the younger Kara has pulled out of a scroll. Daring to turn his head -- but not his eyes this time -- he asks of >his< Kara, "What is going on here? Do you recognize this Jutsu?"
Other-Kara's blue eyes never leave Rinako. She may not show emotion on her face, but she is clearly quite focused. One might even think she doesn't even hear Sheex, except that she responds in a frigid and emotionless voice, "No. But it doesn't matter. She's our enemy. I kill my enemies. On your mark?" Sheex's attention returns fully to those before him. Kara is right. If this is some kind of trick or mind-game, there's no reason to give Rinako the satisfaction of falling for it. Terminate the threat, figure out the rest later. Still… Something is off here. He narrows his eyes suspiciously, preparing to perform a Genjutsu-Kai just as a precaution.
Other-Shemri simply stares in surprise as a wave of vertigo assaults her. Her clothing is far different from 'Normal'-Shemri and far better suited for winter, but that is quite clearly >herself< standing over there. A younger self, but still… Then Rinako speaks up. The words don't make sense to this Other-Shemri. The behavior is quite different from what she is accustomed to as well. Is this really Rinako? And when 'she' speaks, she sounds exactly the same as Other-Shemri! This is too weird! "…Shiiksu-san, I do not believe--"
Uh-oh! All of that Killing Intent draws Other-Shemri's attention, as well as Sheex's. It's a pretty clear indication of what's about to happen. Ruri charges in moments later. Other-Shemri prepares to act, but oddly does not actually do anything, even though there are at least a few seconds inbetween when Ruri charges and when that shield would reach Sheex that she could have done >something<. Is she waiting for something?
Sheex likewise waits for Ruri to reach him, though he also stands defensively. Only when she appears next to him does he duck without looking, the slash following a half-second later cutting a few strands of hair from his head. In a crouch, he then pushes off the ground and hurls himself backwards, out of range of any follow-up attacks. A shadow falls over the younger of the Rurohashi twins. Something is coming at her from above!
If Ruri manages to defend herself in time or move out of the way, then this new attacker strikes the forest floor with its fist. Preceding the attack, however, is a visible aura of deep-blue Chakra that surrounds the attacker's entire body. Infact, his or her skin is also a blue color. It's almost identical to when Rinako--
The ground where the fist hit suddenly seems to just dissolve or vanish as the dirt and snow retreat in an ever-widening and deepening circle. That's some strength! Visible Chakra… A powered-up state similar to Rinako's… The powers of a Jinchuuriki, definitely. And from the way this attacker looks, even with her face aimed down at the ground, she is probably Rinako herself! Or a clone of her. Or something.
As she remains crouched in the crater she made, steam rising from the melted snow, the woman says, "I won't be running away this time…" The voice is like Rinako's, but slightly deeper due to being older. Further, the tone is different somehow… "And I won't let >you< run away either!" She rises from the scarred earth slowly, coming to a standing position. Her face is still unseen. "Today you >die<…" Then her head snaps up, revealing the face that looks like an older version of Rinako's. But the next words spoken makes this situation even more confusing. "…Rinako the Traitor! Rurohashi Ruri will restore honor to our family name! With your death your master will finally fall--"
The woman stops suddenly in the middle of her dramatic speech. She just caught sight of the younger woman that she attacked. Ruri stares at Ruri. She looks puzzled at first, brow furrowed and one eyebrow arched. Then her eyes widen a bit more as she looks between her younger self and Rinako, and then back again. "…What the hell? Sheex-sensei… What the >hell< is going on!?"
Like a barely-controlled feral animal, Rinako begins to crouch, obviously tensing for a powerful lunge at their adversaries. There wasn't any subtlety to her actions as she prepares to go on the offensive. But then, there never was, as the dark-haired kunoichi relied on overpowering her opponents rather than misleading or out-maneuvering them. But despite the adrenaline of the moment managing to temporarily drive away the cold, the nagging sensation was back, tugging at something inside of her. And it was coming closer.
"RU, ABOVE YOU!"
The shouted warning would only come a heartbeat before the dark chakra haze becomes visible and the strike hits. Would it be enough to warn her younger sibling? Did she even need the warning!? Brown eyes narrow on the new arrival, her lips curling back in a feral snarl, much like the typical reaction of an alpha dog when faced with a rival alpha, instinctive animosity and competition. And then there's that face…
The Rurohashi siblings were identical twins, and before Ruri had lost her eye, telling them apart by features alone was an impossibility, except for their parents. And each other. But Rinako knew her sibling, whether on instinct, some minute difference only they could spot, or just twinpathy, she knew who this was. "Guh…" It throws the jinchuriki's mind off for a moment, causing her world to tilt and her mouth to fall open slightly. But she's soon enough recovering, and her expression is enraged, a rage that's fueled by the constant wrath of her bijuu.
Pale skin turns dark blue, brown eyes turn yellow, and then to vertical slits, the world viewed through them becoming a liquid haze. The familiar feel of her chakra emanates from her in a hazy outline of a much-larger beast, a single tail growing out behind her, flat, elongated, it's tip ending in several sharp, wicked spikes. She slams her hand against a nearby, full-grown tree, causing a mini-avalanche of snow to rain down as her muscles bunch, her fingers digging into bark.
"You would even seek to replace my sister!?" Her voice was doubled, but the second was not her own, deeper, somehow darker. "You go too far, bastard. THIS ENDS NOW!"
Her other hand joins the first gripping the base of the trunk and HEAVING. The thunderous crack of shattering wood and sundering earth rends the air as the live pine is uprooted, and lifted like the world's most insane club.
Shemri stares hard at the group before them. This whole weird thing could still be a genjutsu dream theoretically, but then you could say that about all of life (Shemri…the Narutrix has you…). Also, that gash to her leg earlier essentially served for the stab-yourself-to-try-and-wake-up deal, though technically that could be part of the illusion too. c.c Bah! Whatever, assuming it's real. Now the question is, what to /do/ about it?
Well, when two of a kind meet in nature, there are several possibilities. One is that the two fight it out for control of the territory. Under the circumstances, Team 1's chances with that approach don't look so hot, if only because it's so COLD!!! And the locals are adapted to it while Team 1 isn't. Another is for the newcomer to leave the territory. Seems a little late for that now, what with their path here vanishing. And the final option, which is relatively rare but important, is for the two packs to join. Putting aside the gut-reaction to, well, hate Sheex's guts, that's actually probably the best bet, both for surviving and for getting answers. And it looks like Other-Shemri at least may have some thoughts of peaceful resolution as well, so maybe--
Shemri throws up her arms to shield her face as another powerful player joins the scene. Huh? Wait, so that's, what, three of them now? o.O And which one is this newcomer? Everything's so confusing. u.u Before Shemri can speak up, the Rurohashi twins decide that they're going with option A from up above. Hooboy. "Hoi!" Shemri pulls off her shinobi belt and tosses it into the snow. "There is nothing to be gained by fighting here! Even if we triumph, we shall freeze to death out here!" >.<
Ruri grits her teeth in annoyance as her kunai misses Sheex by a fraction of an inch. Was it the cold slowing her reflexes? She can't even feel most of her body anymore. She's surprised she can do ANYTHING ninja-related in such a numb state. The shadow falling over her is not noticed at all, but thanks to Rinako's warning she is able to act in time. The second a single TOE touches the ground (judged more by the slowing of her descent than because she can feel the toe), she hurls herself away, hitting the ground in a roll and somersaulting along it until she comes up next to Rinako again. The Chakra-covered fist that hits the ground sends a splash of liquified snow and pieces of broken earth to pelt her in the back. Once the detritus stops hitting her, she turns her head and left eye immediately back on her foes. A fifth enemy. She hadn't counted on that.
She also hadn't counted on Sheex somehow managing to duplicate her sister somehow, nor on granting that clone the powers of the Three-Tails. The former is hard to swallow, but the latter just seems… Impossible! Maybe when Rinako transformed in the Land of Waves, the Three-Tails's excess Chakra saturated the environment? If a DIFFERENT piece of Sheex somehow escaped the fate of the Sheex-Beast, then it might have recovered and gathered the Bijuu Chakra, and then infused it into a clone.
This hypothesis, however, doesn't explain when he managed to get a DNA sample from Rinako to make the clone with! …Or Shemri, or Shiikaa, or Kara, for that matter! Argh! Her attempts to figure out this situation are derailed, as she actually starts paying attention to what the Fake Jinchuuriki (she HAS to be fake. There's only ONE Three-Tails) is saying. Something's not right. Ruri narrows her eye and frowns, rising to her feet. The way this woman is talking, the fact she's older, and the body language she's seeing… They don't match her sister. Even when the woman's head comes up, revealing her face to be the same, she just gets the feeling that--
Then the woman identifies herself.
"…." pretty much sums up Ruri's thoughts. Basically, her brain has just locked up completely. She has no thoughts right this second. She's too surprised, too disoriented, too… She's just… She's… "WHAT." Ruri offers, with a face like >:o. It's not a question. More a statement of disbelief. She points at this look-a-like. "WHAT!" she repeats, though now it's more accusatory, and she looks like >:O.
"This is all kinds of screwed up," she mutters as she starts to turn her attention on Rinako, Shemri, and Kara. They look as unenthused about this situation as her, but her sister looks and sounds very volatile. "Rinako. I have a new theory about what's going on, and I need you to help me test it. Punch me in the face really hard incase this is a dream. When I wake up, I'll punch you awake too--" But she stops talking and moves back instinctively when Rinako starts to transform. No! Not again! She doesn't want her sister to use that monster's powers anymore! She has strength of her own, and relying on that beast will just make her more susceptible to its influence! But before she can get out a protest, Rinako has torn the tree out of the ground, her strength obviously amplified to ridiculous levels. Ruri stops shielding her head with her arms against the deluge of snow from above.
"This is insane!" she yells to no one in particular, and then moves to back up her twin. Shemri's words make sense, but she won't leave Rinako to fight alone. Taking down Sheex will hopefully end this before it goes any further. Or maybe it will just enrage his servants and then they'll have to deal with these whatever-they-are trying to 'avenge' their fallen master. Hearing herself call Sheex 'sensei' also pretty much made Ruri want to vomit. One solution for that: Flesh Scroll time!
Rapidly she unseals a Stored Fire Stream directed at the Jounin in the rear of the enemy group, but hidden inside the lengthy flamethrower-like attack is a metallic spear. Luckily the melting point of the metal is higher than the temperature of a single Stored Fire Stream. But that doesn't mean it won't be nice and skin-searing hot if it finds its mark.
Sheex rises to his feet again after his evasion of Ruri's attack. As Other-Ruri rises to her feet and makes her speech and declarations, the Jounin puts his hands together, and cancels the flow of Chakra in his body, before resuming the flow -- only it's more of a >surge<. "Release!" he calls out, as he tries to break any Genjutsu that may be affecting him. Nothing changes, so rather than wasting any more Chakra he seperates his hands and considers his other options. The younger Shemri seems to be suggesting a truce of some kind. That's… Unexpected. Almost as unexpected at >everything else that is going on<. He does not move to attack, though he remains wary. Other-Kara channels Chakra into her blades and holds them ready. She also seems to be ready to fight, but she doesn't act >quite< yet.
Younger Kara has gotten over her shock, and seeing her older self preparing to fight, she also acts, hunching over a bit, as Chakra Strings connect her to Pharaoh. It's a good thing that lack of sensation in her body does not affect her ability to manipulate a Puppet. Pharaoh's mouth snaps open, but nothing is launched from it yet. "I'd make a remark on something incredibly obvious about this situation, but I think everyone has covered it fine already," she mutters. Rinako tearing up the tree startles Kara, but she doesn't take her eyes off the enemies. Despite the cold, she is sweating slightly. The moisture freezes on her skin.
Other-Shemri was apparently waiting for Other-Ruri to arrive, because despite her uncertainty about what is going on, and whether this is actually their enemy -- aided by her younger self's yell about the fight being unnecessary -- once Rinako tears up the tree she brings her left arm up, and pulls back her sleeve, revealing there's some kind of device on her forearm. She doesn't attack yet. Rinako is a familiar enemy, but this younger Rinako hasn't attacked yet. "This is a fact. You are not equipped for survival in this environment--"
Ruri makes the first actual attack. Other-Shemri can't stop the flamethrower or the unseen weapon within, but she can convince the hostile party to abandon further plans to attack. She swiftly pulls back on a string attached to her forearm device and then lets go, apparently triggering the release of some kind of launching mechansim. A series of darts or something fly in Ruri's direction. If evaded -- something that should be easy, as they were aimed low -- they will land in the snow harmlessly, and stick there as a warning. If even one penetrates Ruri's skin, however… Well, they're poisoned darts.
In reaction to Rinako's transformation, Other-Ruri's attention snaps back to her sister. She is at first stunned at what she is seeing, but then she just looks determined. She settles into a stance low to the ground, with her feet wide apart. Then her skin turns dark blue, her eyes change yellow and gain the same slits that Rinako now has. When Ruri attacks, Other-Ruri intercepts the attack, leaping to the side and standing directly in its path. The flames flow against and around her dense Chakra Shell, but the heat dissipates too quickly after touching that defense to harm anyone behind her. When the flames cease, Other-Ruri is holding the heated metal spear in one hand. Her blue Chakra has shaped itself into the same form that Rinako possesses, right down to the tail.
"…This is too weird to be one of Rinako's elaborate traps," Other-Ruri says after a moment. She tosses the spear aside casually, sending it whirling through the air, and out of sight somewhere in the forest. "Further, there is only one Lord of Water. And I can tell that >this< girl…" She points at Rinako. "…Possesses his power. Not just a portion of it, but the whole thing." Sheex speaks up, finally, with, "If Rinako-hime or her master had the means to recreate the Three-Tails, then they would have done so a long time ago. She is not the type to leave new powers or weapons unused for long. It may be that this is just a large amount of Chakra gathered from somewhere and made to appear the same--"
"No." Other-Ruri states simply. "She has the real Lord of Water in her possession. It's the same as mine. I can… Just >tell<." She looks at Rinako in her reptillian eyes with eyes of the same type. Whatever she sees in those eyes, however, she apparently doesn't like, because she frowns and her eyebrows come down sharply, glaring back at the other Jinchuuriki. "Hmph. You may look like the Traitor Princess, but you're >not< her. So if you're not the 'real' Rinako, then who the hell are you? Where did you come from? And how did you get an exact duplicate of the Three-Tails's powers?"
Silence, except for the whistling of the wind over the treetops, and the creaking of the improvised tree-club that Rinako wields, is the only immediate answer.
TO BE CONTINUED…