Date: June 29, 2014
Three Leaf nin are sent to protect a village in the face of a mysterious illness.
Poster's note: foul language filtered in obvious places.
"Fighting the Sickness"
A village in the Land of Fire
A small village not too far out from Konoha has found itself in a rather worrying position. Most of its inhabitants have become horribly ill over the last couple days, suffering from an illness which seems to have no explanation. The relatively few villagers who aren't bed-ridden are either working to take care of the sick or to keep the village together. Among other things, that means the village has been left without its militia, and vulnerable to attack.
However the illness is spreading, it doesn't appear to be contagious, so Konoha has appointed Atsuro to put together a team in order to treat the illness, invesigate its origins, and to pick up the militia's slack. Certainly a lot for such a small team, but Atsuro intends to do his best. Obviously, he needed a mednin. He knows Kenta to be a very good one, so that was an obvious choice. Then he chose Takeo — partly because of a promise, and partly because he actually could be quite useful here. After tracking the two of them down and grabbing them away from whatever they were doing, he lead them out of the village and onwards to the assignment.
Now, here they are on a hill overlooking the village. "Doesn't look like they've been attacked," says Atsuro, surveying the village, "There are reports of bandit activity in the area, though, so keep an eye out. I'm sure they wouldn't let an opportunity like this slip by if they notice." The village has a simple wooden rampart and watchtower, and most of its buildings are on the banks of a large stream flowing through the village. There's almost nobody in the streets, and the town itself is eerily quiet. But there's no sign of dead bodies, so the situation hasn't gotten any worse in the time it took them to get here. "Any questions before we go check it out?" Atsuro asks.
Takeo can certainly see having been asked along on this mission in part because of a promise. However, the remainder of his usefulness is something to which he's blind. What can he do about a bunch of sick people, after all? This is Kenta's department! Nevertheless, he joins the team without objection simply because it's a chance to go a fair distance from Konoha. First time he's been this far out in quite a while, and that in itself is a relief.
For this mission, Takeo's actually cleaned himself up to usual professional form. His hair's bound up into a topknot, and protective bandaging has been ever so carefully wound about his arms, hands, and legs. Although the young man's chest remains visible, the seal upon hiss stomach is not. "They've already been down for a while, haven't they?" Takeo gestures toward the village as he asks the question. "If the bandits were gonna do the deed, there has long since been easy prey. They might be afraid of catching whatever it is these people have."
Kenta has been very subdued during the entire journey. More than usual, that is. He obviously finds it a great honor to be paired with such illustrious partners for an important mission like this. The young shinobi steps next to Atsuro, but keeps half a pace behind, while he stretches his gaze over the village beneath them. They couldn't carry much with them, so Kenta had only brought the most essential of supplies. Everything he has in his backpack are items that can't be easily produced from local materials.
"Things must getting worse if people are isolating themselves in their homes or unable to leave at all. We need better information about this illness, including what the symptoms are and the possible vectors causing it's spread. I wish the reports we were given was written by someone with better medical knowledge," Kenta utters somberly. "I wonder about those bandits, Atsuro-senpai. He could be behind this and are waiting for the villagers to get wiped out before they move in. I think we must also be aware of the possibility that poison is involved. In any case, we should stick to eating from our own rations and be very careful about cleanliness while we're here."
"That's a good point," Atsuro says to Kenta, "Small villages like this often don't have a variety of food sources. It might be possible to pick one important food and taint it." He nods to Takeo, "Would also explain your point about the bandits not attacking yet. It's definitely odd that they wouldn't seize an opportunity like this — unless they were controlling it and knew it would just keep getting worse. Anyway, we need to be ready if they do attack." He scratches his chin, "Of course, we can't get too ahead of ourselves. Let's go in and see what we're dealing with. Any specific suggestions, Kenta?" He suddenly stops for a second. "Say, Takeo. If you can't get drunk… does that mean you can't get poisoned?" Maybe that could be useful somehow.
Takeo shakes his head once at Atsuro. "No such luck. It's just that Isobu's made me a lot tougher, not that I could never, ever get drunk," he says with a rough chuckle. "Afraid I won't be of too much use here. I don't know the first damned thing about medical ninjutsu, or even basic field treatment." Rolling his shoulders back, the young man says, "I guess keeping bandits off of our bacteria might make me look a little less pointless to have along, though."
Kenta whips three surgical masks and a pair of rubber gloves out of his backpack. "We should put these on." He snaps one set of them on before offering the other two sets to Atsuro and Takeo. "Sorry, Taizen-senpai. I don't have anything available for ninken," he says apologetically. The surgical mask on his face muffles his voice, so that it sounds even softer than usual.
Kenta peers down at the village again. "It didn't sound like there's a hospital here. The place is too small. But there should be an herb woman or hedge doctor in any village. We should find out and pay a visit. Even someone with only minimal training would have knowledge about the illness that we can get from a normal visitor."
"It's still important, even if they never attack," says Atsuro, "But hopefully, we'll find something more for you than guard duty. Well, if we don't, Tai and I probably aren't much better off." He makes a bit of a face, not wanting to wear the surgical equipment, but he knows that they should be cautious, until they can figure out what's going on with the disease. He puts the equipment on. "It's okay," says Taizen, "The disease probably doesn't affect dogs." Atsuro looks a little worried, actually, but doesn't say anything.
As they walk into the village, a little more life becomes apparent. There are indeed a very few souls wandering the streets, and from within the nearby buildings, one can hear chatter, and perhaps the moaning of a sick person. An older man who appears to have escaped the illness approaches the group. He looks tired, and his voice is slightly hoarse as he asks, "Are you the ones we sent for? I'm in charge of this village… temporarily. I'm actually just the militia leader, but the elder…" He shakes his head, "I'm Sousui." He starts to hold out a hand, but withdraws it. He's appropriately cautious, it seems.
"Anything you can tell us?" Atsuro asks. "And is there someone in charge of taking care of everyone?" He adds, recalling Kenta's suggestion.
Sousui nods slowly. "Old Kusuri used to be a doctor. He's helping out in the village hall, but at his age, there's only so much he can help… especially since we don't know what caused it yet. But… one of our fishermen noticed something that might explain it. He's actually the only fisherman on his feet, so he's down by the water, trying to keep the food coming." Atsuro thinks for a second. "Takeo," he says, "You wanna take Tai and see what the fisherman has to say while Kenta and I talk to the doctor?"
Takeo peers sidelong at the surgical mask. "Could just sprout some turtleshell over …" A pause for thought. "No, then I'd suffocate. Fine, fine." The young man takes the mask from Kenta and ties it on securely. Definitely not his style, but it'll have to do for the time being.
Upon entering the village, he has a thought which he can't help but speak out loud. "Three shinobi are a lot more valuable than some backwater villagers, and we're nice and penned up in here," he remarks. Takeo soon finds their team confronted by the defacto leader of the village, however, and bites his tongue. No need to cause any more of a panic.
When a task is dispensed to him, Takeo accepts it with a casual nod of his head. "Come on, Taizen," he says, motioning to the ninken as he heads in the general direction of the water. Although it's just as familiar and tempting to him, he advises his companion, "No swimming here. Could be poisonous water or something."
Kenta dips a polite bow towards the small village's militia leader. "I'm Akiyama Kenta and I'm a medic nin, Sousui-san. It's terrible to learn about the illness spreading through your people, but I'm going to do my best to help your village get through this." The young shinobi looks towards his team members. "I can't disappoint everyone that have faith in me and especially Konoha, so you can expect one hundred percent effort from me."
Takeo's comment about their value compared to the villages also worries him, but he projects a calm image to avoid causing worry in the few villagers around. He does wince when Takeo says the phrase "poisonous water". Nevertheless, Kenta backs up the Jinchuuriki on that subject. "Taizen-senpai, Takeo's right about staying out of the water."
Then, Kenta sucks in a deep breath through his surgical mask. "Atsuro-senpai, let's talk to the Kusuri-san now. The sooner we get the details, the better."
"If you want to tell that to the mission office, we won't stop you," Atsuro replies to Takeo's smartgerm comment. The smirk is hidden under his mask. Taizen follows Takeo down to the water (promising not to go swimming), where they do indeed find a fisherman, with a meagre pile of fish behind him. "Someone finally got here," he grumbles, not even turning away from the water. He's hard at work with a cast net. "Here's the thing. See those jars over there?" He gestures to some large clay jars on the ground, "Full of lobster. One jar was caught for the Harvest Festival a few days ago, one was caught yesterday, and one I caught for ya to look at just now."
The lobster caught recently look perfectly normal, but the ones in the other jars have a strange purple tinge to their shells and smell foul. "Weird, right?" the fisherman asks, "Thing is, they seemed perfectly normal when they were caught. I bet the fresh ones turn like that in a few hours. And here's the thing. This village's signature dish is lobster stew — always a huge pot of it at the Harvest Festival. I'm fine… but I'm allergic to lobster. Get it?"
Meanwhile, Sousui seems relieved by Kenta's words. "The sooner we have a cure, the better," he says, "Kusuri should be this way." He leads the two of them to the village hall, a large building, with little more than wide open space inside. Bedding has been placed all over the floor, and it is here that most of the ill lie, being tended to by the luckier villagers. Most of the patients appear to be both pale and sweating profusely, and many of them seem to have trouble breathing. Atsuro looks out over the makeshift hospital with a grim look in his eyes. An old man — easily in his nineties, based on looks — is giving orders and examining particularly needy patients. "Kusuri," says Sousui, "We have a mednin from Konoha."
Kusuri looks up from his work, spots Atsuro, and looks him up and down. "Doesn't look like a doctor," he says. Then he spots Kenta and does the same, but this time says approvingly, "Looks like a doctor." He nods to Kenta and with surprising energy for his age and the situation, "Symptoms are fever, weakness in the extremities, extreme fatigue, and painful breathing. No mortality so far, but some circling drain. Someone needs to find cure, but barely enough help to treat patients as is."
Takeo tips his head to the right as he approaches the fisherman's location, his neck popping lightly. "Don't sound too thrilled or anything. I'm Inuzuka Takeo, Chuunin with the team sent from Konoha," he says to the fellow. "Our leader and med nin are up talking with your healer. They sent me down to see what you've got here." The fisherman's already prepared for that, however, and so the young man goes about looking at the contents of the jars.
As much as he spends time in water, Takeo must confess to never having seen a purple lobster before. This prompts a furrowing of his brow as he takes a sniff at the oldest one, only to remember that he no longer has the keen nose. "Yeah, I follow," he says with a nod. "Everybody in your village is eating these things, and the only ones who aren't sick are the ones who don't." The young man picks up the jar with the oldest lobster, and then the jar with the freshest. "You mind if I take these back up with me? I'll let our med nin have a glance at 'em."
Inside the village hall, Kenta frowns at the amount of stricken villagers within. "Atsuro-senpai is one of Konoha's greatest shinobi," he states absently in response to Kusuri's comment. Most of his attention is taken up by the signs of sickness within. The young shinobi quickly gets to business. "We obviously need more supplies to treat so many people, Kusuri-san. I don't know how you managed at all to this point. I'll come up with a list to send back to Konoha after I have a chance to examine the patients."
Kenta picks a clean surface to unpack his medical equipment. His backpack has basic diagnostic equipment, such as tongue compressors, cotton swabs, syringes and a stethoscope. There's even a collapsible microscope, although it's resolution is probably very low compared to what's back at Konoha. Next to all this, Kenta lays out some petri dishes, glass vials full of clear solutions and several scrolls with medical seals written all over them.
Kenta looks over at the village healer. "Kusuri-san, can you help me collect samples of blood, urine and other bodily fluids?"
"Go ahead," says the fisherman, "I'm sure not going to eat 'em. Anyway, it's just my theory. We put all the lobster traps in a single area, a pool downstream from the village. If you wanna check it out at some point, you can't miss it." Taizen takes the third jar, holding the rim with his teeth. Takeo's got the important ones, but maybe it'll be useful too? In any case, it seems like they've got a possible lead. Strangely enough, as they make their way back to Kenta and Atsuro, Takeo might notice that more people are out in the streets, and looking healthy enough.
"Shinobi are good for beating people up," Kusuri declares. He nods approvingly again when Kenta suggests getting more supplies, and takes out equipment of his own. "Yes," he says simply. He'll then go along, collecting according to whatever specifications Kenta desires. Hoping the answer isn't collect urine, Atsuro asks, "Is there anything I can do to help?"
Takeo drops his head into a nod toward the fisherman. "Our mednin's plenty good at his work. He'll probably get some use out of all this. Thanks for putting it together," he says. When his ninken friend fetches the middle jar, the Jinchuuriki casually says, "C'mon, Taizen. Let's go see where your partner's gotten off to." So begins the trudge back to the village, until at last, the pair reaches the hall. Of course, Takeo does notice that there are quite a few more people in his way now than before.
Pushing the doors open, Takeo enters. "Don't ever say I don't love my friends, Kenta, because I brought you your favorite thing," the young man announces while holding up the jars. "Samples. Lobster the fisherman caught." Finding a convenient table, he puts the two jars down, and takes the third from Taizen to put in the middle. Counting them off by touch, he says, "Oldest, old, fresh. All but the fresh ones are purple. The fisherman says the fresh ones will probably go that way in a few hours, too. They put their lobster traps in a pool upstream, only one there."
Takeo turns around to step away from the table, further explaining, "The oldest lobsters, they caught those for their Harvest Festival, where they all eat lobster stew. Thing is, the fisherman ain't sick. Allergic to lobster." He bares his canines in a subdued grin, as if he'd stumbled upon some vital clue. "Oh, uh, by the way. There're a lot more people out there now than before." Takeo hooks a thumb over his shoulder, indicating the entrance.
Kenta looks away from his work to peer up at Atsuro when the team's leader asks -him- for directions. The younger shinobi has a stronger presence when surrounded by the environment of his profession, but he still hesitates to give any outright orders to his superior. "Maybe you can find me some sake? I have some alcohol in my pack, but it's not going to be enough for all the sterilizing I'm going to have to keep doing. I don't want to bother Kusuri-san about it. He already looks so tired, and he's the only other person here with knowledge about medicine, so I need him around…"
Kenta's attention is quickly draw by Takeo when the other Chuunin enters with loot in his arms. He abandons Atsuro to peer at the strangely colored lobsters. "You're saying that these were all taken from the same pool? The water there's probably contaminated. If the lobsters changed -after- being removed, it could be a pathogen or substance that reacts to something else in the air." Kenta carefully unscrews the jar containing the oldest lobster. His nose wrinkles at the smell, even through the surgical mask. He dumps the foul mess onto a tray and prepares to do dissection. Kusuri should be fine handling the other tasks for now. The lobsters have higher priority.
"I need a sample of the water too," Kenta murmurs. Just as he's about to cut into the lobster, he stops and his head pops up. "Wait? More people out on the streets and they look completely well? I have a feeling about this." He looks over at Atsuro. "Atsuro-senpai, do we have descriptions of the bandits?"
"Uh-huh," says the fisherman. Well, plenty of people would be grumpy under these circumstances. The new people in the village seem to be mostly men, grizzled-looking guys, wearing rough clothes made of fur or leather. Most of them have small knives or other weapons in their belt, and they seem to be going around and inspecting the village. There's only a few of them, but that's plenty, most of the village being ill.
Inside the hall, Atsuro looks around for a bottle of sake. After a little asking around, he manages to find a bottle of it, with only a little bit of sake missing, probably from the Harvest Festival. Atsuro peeks into the lobster jars and immediately wrinkles his nose. "Ugh," he says, "Something wrong with them for sure. That's not just a normal rotting smell. Actually, they don't smell rotten at all." He does seem concerned about the bandits as well. "We don't," he says, "But they're your usual bandits. A group, or maybe a few different groups, of highwaymen and thieves. Shouldn't be much special about them." He looks between Kenta and Takeo. "Kenta, I'll have Taizen stay here and keep an eye on you guys. Takeo, you show me one of these guys and w'll see what's going on."
Takeo hears there's a call for sake and is altruistic enough to provide. "Here, take some of mine," he says, emphasis some. He pulls out one, two … Well, five bottles of sake hidden in his sash. "That oughta get you started. Meanwhile, time to have another look at those guys outside. Can't believe I didn't think more of it when I walked right through 'em." A confused pause. "Or that they didn't think more of me. They must've seen the forehead guard, that I'm from Konoha. Maybe they poisoned the traps for the festival, knowing the whole village'd eat, and now they're here to collect?"
Every so often, those little cogs in Takeo's head do start turning. He pushes the doors open again and looks out over the meandering brutes, dressed in their hides and so forth. "Hey," calls the youth as he pulls his mask off and tosses it aside. "Who here's a bandit? Raise your hand. Actually, raise both if you don't want your pathogens kicked." Isobu creeps to the surface a bit, given leeway by Takeo's own anger, but he takes a deep breath and subdues that bestial emotion.
Kenta still looks worried, but he bows to Atsuro's superior experience. The young shinobi bends down to his work with the noise of moaning and coughing in the background to spur him on. Soon, he's completely absorbed in his own tasks, with no thought to what the others are doing. If he knew Takeo's already confronting potential bandits, he might be more alarmed.
As it is, the first thing that Kenta sets himself to do is to start dissecting the lobster to see what's wrong with it. It's organs and physiology too different than a human's to give the exact answer, but it could help identify whether the cause of the illness is due to poison, pathogens or even some strange jutsu.
This is where the equipment that Kenta brought with him comes in handy. Weak as it is, the microscope will allow a close look at the lobster's cells, as well as any samples of bodily fluids that old man Kusuri retrieves. The solutions in the glass vials are chemical indicators that turn colors when exposed to certain proteins and compounds. There's precious little of the stuff, so everything has to be used sparingly. At least the scrolls are reusable half a dozen times each before the seals on them completely burn away from constantly having chakra channeled through them. They work similar to the medical solutions, but produces reactions to a different set of conditions, including the presence of harmful chakra.
"It's starting to look that way," says Atsuro, "They might be here to monitor their progress. Or maybe add more poison…" He stops to think for a monent. Or he plans to, but then Takeo just goes out there and does it. "Subtle," Atsuro says drily, following Takeo out the door, first stopping to grab a sword from Taizen's vest, just in case the confrontation turns violent, which Takeo has all but guaranteed it will. Three of the nearby men have taken notice of Takeo and his declaration. After a few exchanged glances, two of them start to move menacingly towards the shinobi. The third turns the other direction, though, and makes a run for it. "I'll deal with the runner," Atsuro tells Takeo, "You handle these two. I'll be back soon."
Then Atsuro dashes off in pursuit of the third man. The two remaining men are clearly intent on attacking Takeo. One of them, tall and thin, pulls a grip of throwing knives out of one pocket and tosses them all at Takeo in a single stroke. The other man, bulkier and more muscular, has a large, pointed dagger! He's maneuvered to the side and now charges at Takeo, approaching from the flank and ready to do some stabbing.
Kenta's examination reveals some interesting results. First, the lobsters don't appear to have been affected by chakra. Whatever's affecting them is purely mundane. The cells themselves appear normal, but on some tissues, especially those that have turned purple, Kenta can see what looks like tiny grains of silt or fine sand, but with a more crystalline appearance. Aside from that, only the digestive tracts of the fresh lobsters are purple, while the flesh of the older lobsters are purple the whole way through. Perhaps most important of all, both the purple tissue and patient blood samples react to Kenta's chemicals. All samples very consistent react to three particular chemicals, in fact, indicating a mix of toxins.
"Oh-hoho, I've been waiting for this," Takeo says as two of the bandits decide to stand their ground. "I was hoping somebody'd decide to be stupid." He doesn't have a chance to say anything more than that, as these two fellows /are/ being rather bold in their attack. With daggers headed in his direction, the young man makes a hand sign, drawing a ribbon of water up from a nearby barrel kept in the town's stock. Said ribbon splits into many flowing streamers surrounding his body, all of them working rapidly to try and deflect both the daggers flying through the air and the charge of the more brutish individual.
"Oh, not good… not good!" Kenta mumbles to himself when he identifies the cause of the sickness. If no one's dead yet, the poison must not be immediately deadly. Unfortunately, even poison that doesn't kill in the first few applications will start doing that after it builds up or goes untreated. He carefully examines the results of the chemical indicators and the scrolls to identify the most likely substances used in the poison that was applied to the water.
"Kusuri-san! I need you to find me the ingredients on this list!" Kenta calls out urgently while he rapidly scribbles lines of characters on a blank scroll. Without waiting for the old doctor to reach him, the young medic-nin rushes to where he left his backpack and starts rummaging through the remaining contents. There are several cases of prepared injections inside. Out of the three that he brought with him, he rejects two. When he opens the small box, it's revealed to contain five syringes full of premade antidote for a specific type of poison. With some targeted chakra manipulation, the injections should be enough to purge the poison from the worst afflicted. There won't be enough for everyone unless he can manufacture more or get supplies from the Leaf.
Kenta's head pops up when he hears the sound of battle starting outside. "Uh oh. And keep away from the entrance! No one should go outside! Whatever trouble's occurring there can be handled by Atsuro-senpai and Takeo!" he instructs with a raised voice.
Stupid seems to be the word, because these two bandits are clearly not prepared to fight Takeo. The thrown daggers are easily deflected by Takeo's water technique, while the man holding the dagger attempts to slash through the protection, pushing it into the water and jerking it around, to the best extent that he can. Whether or not he even manages to reach Takeo, he soon realizes that this simply isn't a very effective strategy. He backs away, and the two men exchange glances. After a few improvised gestures and mouthing of words, both reach into their pockets and pull out similar-looking pouches. They open the pouches then toss them at Takeo, causing them to spill a powder of some sort, which has a very familiar looking purple hue to it, perhaps attempting to poison Takeo through his shield — or maybe contaminate the water itself.
Back in the hall, Kusuri makes his way over and gets Kenta's list. Holding the paper close to his face to read it with his old eyes, he slowly nods, then starts moving around the hall, collecting the ingredients Kenta needs. There are definitely some patients who look to be worse off than the others (the seafood lovers of the village, maybe), and who would probably benefits from the injections the most. Fortunately, there aren't too many of them, so the medicine should be enough for now, until Kenta can get more. The healthy villagers move any patients away from the entrance and bar the doors. But all is not well yet, for Kusuri soon hurries over to Kenta. "Have most ingredients here," he says, pointing to a table nearby, where he's gathered most of the items from the list, "But for others, need to go outside, back to home."
Takeo is certainly pleased to see that the latest of his techniques works. At long last, his first serious fight since before the sealing! It's at once a terror and a thrill, for beforehand, he'd have engaged these men using Four Legged Style. These days, he lacks that vital knowledge, and his companion is less helpful in the phyiscal sense. "Ah, plague," grunts the Chuunin as the pouches are tossed at his feet. Of the options available, he decides that they're trying to pollute the water ribbons.
"Whatever this virus is, you have a taste," Takeo says as he decides to rid himself of the water. He sticks his finger into the flow, redirecting it so that it forms a lance, one forceful enough to blast the dagger-hurling thief back quite a ways. Takeo could probably do much worse, had he wanted to.
Kenta's brows furrow when Kusuri returns with his findings. "There's no help for it right now, Kusuri-san," the young medic-nin tells the old man. He takes the first injection out of the case and makes sure that there are no air bubbles in it. Then, he starts moving towards the sickest villagers with Kusuri in tow. "I'll take care of the people that are worst off first. That shouldn't take long, but they'll still remain weak even after the poison is flushed, since their bodies have lost strength. When I'm done, we'll go get the other ingredients. Takeo and Atsuro-senpai will probably have the situation outside under control by that point." Kenta kneels down to check for the largest vein in the sickest patient's arm. "If worst comes to worst, I'll escort you to your home to get the remaining ingredients. I'm slightly more capable than I look." The syringe is plunged into the patients arm and quickly decompressed while Kenta flows medical chakra into the antidote solution at the same time.
The water that is hit turns a cloudy purple for a second, but soon returns to normal. A little of the powder hits Takeo himself, but it doesn't seem to do anything — not tingling sensation, no purple splotches on the skin, nor anything else. As for the poor guy hit by the water lance, he's sent flying and smacks hard into the brick wall of a nearby building. He crumples to the ground, and doesn't move anymore, either unconscious or dead. "You disease," his partner growls, drawing back the dagger. He charges at Takeo again, this time striking at Takeo with a vicious thrust, followed by frenzied slashes, his sudden burst of strength and speed granted by some mixture of fear and anger.
The treatments Kenta administers slowly start to take effect. Those patient who've gotten the injections are still obviously suffering, but their symptoms are less severe now. However, Kenta certainly doesn't have enough to treat every patient here, and who knows how many patients there are in the larger village? Kusuri and the people under his direction continue to make their rounds, treating their patients as best as they can.
When all the injections are gone, Kenta starts calling out instructions for the preparations of the ingredients that were gathered to make new antidotes. Rather than escorting Kusuri as he first intended, the young medic-nin decides to go alone and leave the old man in charge with the preparations as the only other medically trained individual in the village. It's only a small village after all, so how hard can it be to find Kusuri's house once he has the directions and a description of what containers the herbs are in? Kenta's confident that he can do it without any problems. "Remember, stay inside and don't open the door to anyone at all until a Leaf-nin confirms that everything's fine," he tells Kusuri before heading towards the town hall's barred doors. "Bar them again once I'm out."
Given that the powder doesn't seem to have had any additional effect, Takeo assumes that he made the correct choice and focuses his thoughts upon the fight at hand. He's still a great taijutsuist, but there's something to be said for the strength inspired by witnessing the defeat of one's brother in arms. The Jinchuuriki suffers the first, vicious thrust of the dagger, taking it to his ribs before the blade's yanked out. At first, it stains his clothes quite thoroughly with blood, but Isobu's chakra begins to regenerate his body. It's just enough help that he can move from side to side, evading the reckless strikes which follow.
"You're really blighting me off," says Takeo through gritted teeth, his eyes almost seeming to turn red for a moment. However, he once again displays restraint by pulling back that well of power waiting to be called upon. Rather than kill the man, Takeo suddenly lunges, seeking to bury a turtleshell claw deep within the shoulder of the lage bandit's favored arm. With any luck, it's enough to take him out of the fight before it has to go any further."
Takeo's attack catches the man completely off guard. Pierced through the shoulder, he falls to the ground, whimpering softly with his eyes wide. He's alive, but he's obviously not in any condition to fight anymore, his dagger fallen on the ground somewhere, forgotten.
The fight couldn't have finished at a better time, because Atsuro shows up just as Takeo is finished and Kenta comes outside. "I hope you have some good news," he tells Kenta, "Because they had someone watching the village." He glances to Takeo, "I got the guy, but they know what happened to their spies or whatever these guys were doing. I think we probably have a larger group heading for us. Takeo and I can probably take 'em… but it seems like you've left the hall for some reason, Kenta. What's up?"
"Oh good. All the bandits are taken car—-" Kenta starts to say before Atsuro's news interrupts him. The young shinobi grimaces and rubs at the back of his neck. "I was hoping that things will stay simple. I need to bring back some items from Kusuri-san's cottage." He jerks a thumb towards the emptied backpack strapped to his shoulders. All the supplies are still barricaded inside the town hall. "I treated the worst of the patients, but I can't do anything else unless I have the ingredients that I need to make antidotes. These bandits are applying poison to the water supply for sure. I found tiny purple grains solidified inside the lobster's tissues that corresponds to a blend of toxic compounds that can be distilled from local plants." Kenta turns to Atsuro for instructions as the team leader. "What should we do? We can't leave the villagers unprotected, but I can't get my ingredients by staying here."
Takeo looks down at the large man as he shakes his hand, the turtleshell crumbling away now that it has done its part. "Sorry," he says to the bandit, the wound to his ribs sealing shut at this point. "Didn't want to do it, but better your shoulder than your throat." Having taken down the two spies who stayed, he regroups with Kenta and the newly returned Atsuro to determine the current situation. Something the former says catches his attention. "Well, now it makes sense why they threw pouches of that purple stuff at me. They were trying to make my jutsu poisonous. I guess it's gonna be trickier than I'd thought to deal with these guys, and they're not bad with their blades, either."
Scratching behind his right ear thoughtfully, the Chuunin says to Atsuro, "The spy ran in one direction, so we know which way the reinforcements'll probably come from. Maybe we can block them while Kenta goes for the herbs? That, or he can fight. Either way, if there are as many as I figure, I guess it's time. I'll get ready …"
Takeo puts his hands together and closes his eyes, taking in a breath. There's a palpable sensation of power beginning to grow around the Jinchuuriki, an immense swell of chakra.
Atsuro thinks about what Kenta and Takeo say for a moment. "Well," he says, "I can see two options then. Either Kenta stays here and fights with us and then goes back to treating the disease once the bandits are gone, or he goes and gets the stuff for the medicine while we hold off the bandits." He rubs his chin, "It depends on how well you think you'd do in an all-out fight. But sending one person off alone under these circumstances is a bad idea. Someone should go with you in that case." Taizen steps forward and offers, "I could go."
tBy this point, Takeo's last bandit is unconscious, so he doesn't have much to say in response to the apology. Atsuro broadly gestures in one direction. "That's probably where the rest of these canc — I mean, enemies would come from." Then he involuntarily takes a step back as he feels that immense power coming off of Takeo.
"It might not be the best approach, but I'd rather get the ingredients now. There might not be another chance if we end up having to hold off a siege inside the town hall. We don't know how strong the bandits are," Kenta comments in a worried tone. He steps a little closer to Taizen. The ninken probably outweighs him. "If Taizen-senpai will go with me, we should be fine. If it turns out to be too dangerous, we'll turn right back to regroup with everyone else. I won't know until how it'll go until I try. What I do know is that I don't want to risk having any of my patients suffer longer than they have too. The poison isn't a powerful one, but the weakest villagers -can- eventually die from it."
Takeo takes in deep, slow breaths as that palpable accumulation of chakra continues to build. At long last, it emerges from within. The seal upon his stomach is suddenly plain to the naked eye, and viscous chakra flows over his form. A long, flat tail takes form behind him, curling slightly after rising up. When next the young man opens his eyes, they're red with black sclera, though the one on the left is covered by the sudden lengthening of his hair.
"Go and get the medicine, then," Takeo says in a voice not precisely his own, more bestial. "Atsuro and I should be able to hold them off for long enough. In fact, the sooner they come, the better." It's the first time he's manifested Isobu's power in battle, which quite certainly makes it a critical moment.
"Probably not much stronger than the militia at full strength," Atsuro deduces, "But it seems like they've got a decent-sized militia here, so we have to take them seriously." He pats Taizen on the head. "Okay. You watch his back while he gets the medicine." He nods to Kenta, "I'll trust your judgement in whether or not it's too dangerous to continue. Good luck."
The sudden change in Takeo catches his attention. It gets him a little on edge, but no more so than the prospect of a bandit army approaching the village. Speaking of… He sniffs the air. "They're getting close," he says, "They're almost at the village. Team Medicine should get moving. Takeo… let's get up on a roof and try to see where they're going."
"Be careful," Takeo says to Kenta, regarding the young mednin for a moment through his visible black and red eye. Isobu's very own. There's then a nod offered to Atsuro as he moves quickly toward the highest building made of wood, running up its side and to the roof. His tail flicks about behind him of its own accord, but so far, Takeo maintains the flow of Isobu's power through focus.
Takeo says down to Atsuro, "You'd be better to catch them all on the wind. My nose isn't any good for that now." However, the height of the building serves another purpose. He starts to locate barrels, troughs, and other such supplies of water scattered throughout the village. "I'd rather fight them down at the river, but this'll have to do."
Kenta gives Takeo's chakra shroud a sharp and wary glance. His normal curiosity about Jinchuuriki and the Bijuu is dampened by current events, but it's still interesting seeing such strange power manifest. On the other hand, something about the shroud clearly bothers the young medic-nin. He watches for a moment longer before he turns away and reaches out to touch Taizen's shoulder. "Everyone, please be careful. Let's go, Taizen-senpai."
Kenta runs towards the opposite side of the street, nearly perpendicular to the direction of the approaching bandits. He hops onto a rain barrel against the wall of the opposite building, which he uses as a platform to jump onto the roof of the building. The young medic-nin wastes no time at all running and jumping from roof to roof to in his need to reach Kusuri's dwelling as quickly as possible.
Atsuro jumps up onto the roof after Takeo, walking to the far edge and looking out over the town. "If there's a lot of them," he says thoughtfully, "We should defend in depth. Even if we're better than them, they might still be able to push us back with sheer numbers." He sniffs the air, "They're all coming from the same direction. So actually, we /could/ confront them at the river." He looks over to Takeo, "If you want to start heading there, I'll go and tell the group in the hall — then I'll go to the river too."
Taizen follows Kenta's lead, and they travel the roofs of the town in search of Kusuri's home together. Since the main bandit group hasn't made it into the village yet, they make it there unopposed. Soon, a small house comes into view. From the directions Kusuri gave, this should be the place, and it should have the ingredients Kenta needs for his medicine. "I can stand guard outside while you get the medicine," Taizen offers.
"It's up to you, Captain," Takeo says to Atsuro, looking over at his cousin through a visage not quite his own. "I'd have more to work with at the river. On the other hand, the last time I used water jutsu against them up close, they threw that poison powder into the water protecting me." He looks then to the horizon, the lids of his visible eye drawn into a squint. "Will you be alright without Taizen here?"
At Kusuri's house, Kenta nods gratefully at Taizen. "Thank you, Taizen-senpai. That sounds like the best way to delegate the work right now." The young medic-nin enters the house and immediately starts his search. Kusuri had given him the approximate locations of everything, but since he's unfamiliar with the place, it still takes him some time to look through everything. Containers have to be opened, various herbs sniffed or tasted if they're unlabeled, and furniture sometimes have to be moved aside. Everything he can find is stacked as neatly inside his backpack as possible. All the while, Kenta keeps his ears open for warnings from Taizen.
"It's not /ideal/," Atsuro answers. He holds up his sword. "But I can fight reasonably well without Tai… even if he's got my other swords right now, and I need him for most of my clan justu. In any case, if the river will improve our chances, let's do it. I'll be fighting under sub-optimal conditions, but you don't have to." He walks over to the edge of the roof. "Get going," he says before hopping off, heading back to the hall.
Taizen sits down in front of the house, lifting his nose into the air and sniffing, ready to deal with any bandits who might come this way while Kenta is working inside the house. The interior of the house isn't well-organized, and Kenta definitely has to do a little searching and identifying, but the necessary items are all there. But Kenta had better get a move on, because from outside, he hears a loud, low growl, followed by several barks. Outside is a bandit, having a staredown with Taizen.
Takeo is a good team mate when it comes down to it, and a good subordinate. The young man nods his head once to Atsuro and then leaps down from the roof, kicking off immediately into a sprint toward the river. His transformation doesn't seem to have made him any faster, but even so, he still makes good time in heading down toward that precious resource. With a limitless supply of water at his disposal, he can do battle until exhaustion takes him, though the display may well be a terrible one with Isobu's power partially tapped into.
"Alright. Bring the maladies on," rumbles Takeo to himself. He stands on the banks of the river and waits, as obvious as can be given that he's literally glowing with raw chakra.
Kenta's head snaps up when he hears Taizen's barking. He rushes to a window to peer outside and is greeted by the sight of a bandit. Only one, so Taizen shouldn't have any problems right? He's just missing two more ingredients… Biting back an uncharacteristic curse, Kenta returns to his search to find the last two pouches of herbs necessary for him to make an antidote base for everyone. All the while, his heart is pounding in anticipation of battle sounds starting at any moment. The young shinobi quickly opens the last of the cabinets to rummage through them. "Come on… Come on… Come on…" he mumbles. As soon as he finds the herbs, he tosses them into his pack and snaps the fasteners shut. Kenta straps on the pack on his way to the doorway to reinforce Taizen with several tag-wrapped kunai gripped in his left hand.
The bandits are only too happy to oblige Takeo's request. There's a small bridge across the river here, and men dressed in ragged clothing start appearing in the streets across from Takeo, heading for the bridge. They're not a whole lot different from the two Takeo fought before, armed and armored with fairly cheap, simple equipment. It's just that there's a lot of them this time. Fortunately, the bridge makes a pretty good chokepoint, and Atsuro should be along shortly, but Takeo is going to find himself fighting solo for a short while.
By the time Kenta gets outside, Taizen and the bandit have started to fight for real. The bandit has a cheap-looking, mass-produced katana imitation. Probably pretty good weaponry by the standards of these bandits, but the katana Taizen holds in his mouth is of far better quality. The two of them have locked blades and are pushing against one another, trying to get the advantage. The man looks to be strong, but against a dog the size of Taizen, you need a /lot/ of strength.
"Alright," mutters Takeo. "Isobu. don't lose it on me. Remember your promise." It's then that he first utilizes the enhanced power granted to his ninjutsu by the Three Tails. He dashes forward as he makes a hand signal, causing the water under the bridge to burst up into a cloud of obscuring mist. The shinobi works through it, bringing his katana out to slice through the first bandit before tucking it back into its sheath. Stealth, from Takeo? Maybe there's more to his brains than he lets on!
Tipping his head from left to right, Takeo pops his neck and says quietly, "That should've been their bait. Now, they know somebody's here and waiting." He steps onto the bridge and stops at its center, engulfed for a moment longer within the cloud of dissipating mist.
Kenta skids to a stop pass the threshold of Kususi's house. His right hand slips into a pouch to produce a shuriken, which he flings with all his strength at the bandit in a deadlock with Taizen. "Taizen-senpai! Get back!" he calls out urgently. The young medic-nin's moving even as the warning leaves his lips. Kenta jumps up and plants both his feet on the wall of the house. He runs up a few quick steps to gain a greater height advantage before turning to throw two of the tag wrapped kunai at the bandit. His hands slap together to perform a quick handseal as soon as the kunai are in flight. "Kai!" The tags wrapped around the kunai flares and erupts in twin noxious clouds of poisonous green mist.
The combination of the sudden mist and the sound of someone being killed causes the bandits to pause for a moment. There's a few confused murmurs from the crowd. Not a well-coordinated group, they can't seem to decide on a single plan of action. Some of them hang back and do nothing, hoping for the mist to clear, others stick to their throwing knives and toss randomly into the mist, a few particularly brave ones brandish their weapons and charge right in, while some even jump into the river to try and swim across and bypass the bridge entirely.
Upon hearing Taizen's warning, Taizen quickly uses a burst of strength to stagger the bandit for a moment, then jumps out of the way. Aside from covering his escape, that last shove was enough to ensure the bandit couldn't escape Kenta's poison attacks. From within the clouds come the sounds of coughing and gasping. When they clear, they reveal the bandit in a crumpled mass on the street. Taizen sniffs the air, "No more in the immediate area," he informs Kenta.
Kenta jumps and runs to Taizen to inspect the ninken for injuries. He doesn't really expect any, so he isn't surprised when none's found. He jogs over to the bandit next. Kenta picks up the katana before he kneels to check for a pulse, just in case the bandit's playing opossum. "He's alive. The poison just knocked him unconscious. I don't want to kill him when it's unnecessary, but we can't just leave him free to attack us from behind when he recovers…" A hard look enters Kenta's eyes. Medical chakra enshrouds his right hand as he slaps his palm across each of the bandit's limbs. Nothing seems to happen, but… "I sliced the tendons of his arms and legs. That should make it hard for him to do anything for a while. Let's get back to the town hall, Taizen-senpai."
There isn't a great deal that Takeo can do about the ones swimming through the river, save to disorient one or two of them. It's the knife throwers that he hates most, the ones who won't come in close enough to make taijutsu possible. The Jinchuuriki makes a hand sign and causes part of the river to rise up under one swimmer, pushing him aside as the liquid surges ahead like a lance. When it strikes one of said blade tossers, it's with such force that he must surely have suffered shattered bones somewhere within. Isobu's power at work through a temporarily enlightened Takeo.
When the mist clears completely, the tailed Chuunin is obvious to the naked eye of those bandits attempting to move ahead. "Come on," Takeo challenges them, shouting in a voice somewhat deeper than his own generally his. "You want the village? You've just gotta get across the bridge. Swim and you die." That's a bluff, but only to a point. He's counting on Atsuro to snag the ones who make it across, those he could do nothing about.
Taizen shows no sign of injury, and he doesn't appear to have inhaled any of the poison either. The bandit is indeed totally unconscious, and doesn't react at all to having his tendons cut. It'll certainly be an unwelcome surprise when he wakes up though. "Okay," says Taizen. He jumps up onto the roof of the last building they used, preparing to simply go back the route they took to get here. Although the main force is at the river, there are a few men skulking around in the streets. Taizen, of course, can alert Kenta to any of them long before they notice the two ninja.
Takeo's first attack easily takes down the two men, swimmer and thrower both. Still, the bandits don't seem too daunted by it; they recognize that there's still a lot of them! With the mist clearing, more men have opted to try and charge Takeo, some hoping to overwhelm him with a multitude of attackers, while others simply try to dash by and get across the bridge without him noticing. From behind Takeo, the yells of a couple swimmers, plus the sounds of weapons clashing, signal that Atsuro is getting close.
Takeo can hear Atsuro at work somewhere behind him. Just a little bit longer. He takes the time the bandits need to reach the bridge to focus, gathering more of his own bodily energy to fuel his continued access to Isobu's chakra. It's just enough that he can make a sign as the brutes reach the bridge, causing another cloud of mist to burst up, obscuring their vision and the form of their target.
That they've come into close combat range makes Takeo only too happy. Here, he can take the hits and give them back. The first learns this when the young man's shell-clawed hand lashes forward through the mist and rakes across his neck, severing an artery. The man's given a push into the river so that those behind him can see his fate, before the Chuunin executes more mundane martial arts movements against other bandits crossing the bridge. When he can, he draws up water and forms another lance to strike at them, shattering a body and tossing it clear of bridge and river alike, back to the side from whence it came.
Kenta follows after Taizen. His eyes dart alertly from side to side. If Taizen manages to miss any bandit for some reason, he'll have a chance of spotting them. The medic-nin has more tag-wrapped kunai in his hands. All of them are variations of the same poison tag that he used on the unconscious bandit left behind. Anyone enemy unit that they encounter on their way back to the town hall will get an unpleasant surprise. Kenta might not be as bloodthirsty as Takeo, but there's little that he hate more than people that prey on innocent villagers, especially with poison. They'll learn better after their own encounters with poison of a type even more unpleasant, though also not immediately lethal, than what the poor villagers were exposed to.
The well-timed mist seems to foil the bandits once again. Even aside from the grisly display made of their now-dead comrade, they have to deal with the confusion of the mist once more, and the attacks come in poorly coordinated, and easily defeated. Many of them retreat to the other bank again and begin tossing knives into the mist. They can't aim very well with the mist blocking their vision of Takeo, but they seem to be trying to make up for it with the sheer number of flying weapons. Behind Takeo, the fighting is quieter, though slowly getting closer to the bridge, and it sounds as if Atsuro has cleaned up most of the bandits who managed to make it across.
Taizen falters in neither detection nor stealth, so he and Kenta encounter no trouble as they make their way back to the town hall. When they arrive in the square, they find it empty, and the town hall undisturbed — the bandits haven't made it here. Or not yet, at least. In any case, the way seems clear for them to return to the patients and start getting the medicine ready. Or Kenta will, at least. "Do you want me to guard the hall?" Taizen asks Kenta, "Or should I go help them at the river?"
"Please go help Atsuro-senpai. He needs you more than I do now," Kenta tells Taizen once they reach the town hall. The young medic-nin bows to the ninken. "Please be care, Taizen-senpai!"
Kenta slips all his kunai back into their various pouches before he removes eight new tags from a roll vest pocket. It's something that he should have done earlier. Kenta darts around the building to adhere two tags to each wall before he stops in front of the door again. "Please open up, Kusuri-san! It's Kenta! I have the ingredients that we need! The coast is clear now, but I don't know for how long," he calls out while knocking on the door.
Takeo draws a ribbon of water up from the river, splitting it into several others which swirl rapidly about his body, deflecting clumsily thrown knives and casting them aside into the water. Some do hit the mark, but the Bijuu's chakra immediately begins the slow process of mending them. He doesn't seem to feel the two or three which are actually imbedded in his flesh, whether due to his state or from sheer adrenalin.
Finally, the young fellow pulls back from the bridge and then draws up yet more water with a hand sign. This time around, the lance strikes not a person, but the bridge itself. Planks of wood are shattered as the convenient route over the flowing water is swept away. "Come on. Now you can swim," Takeo shouts, issuing his invitation with a feral grin. "You'll be just fine in the water, I promise."
"I will," Taizen promises Kenta before heading off to go reinforce Atsuro. Kusuri opens the door to the town hall and quickly ushers Kenta in to start treatment. It will definitely come much easier, thanks to Kenta's hard work and bravery.
As for the bandits, they're clearly starting to lose. Their attacks on Takeo are utterly ineffective, and those that do manage to slip by them are quickly cleaned up to Atsuro — who is now an even more formidable opponent thanks to the timely arrival of Taizen. "I hope they're grateful enough that we don't have to pay for the bridge," Atsuro says drily, stepping up by Takeo. He starts to cross the bridge to get at the bandits, but those remaining alive are now retreating. Seems they've done all they need to for the moment.
Their stay in the village lasts a few more days, and things are looking far more optimistic than when they got here. With Kenta's help, people are starting to recover, and the bandits don't make any more attempts on the village. Soon enough, a reasonable portion of the militia, and the village itself, is healthy and ready to work. And along with the treatments devised by Kenta, the village should be safe for now. As they leave the village, many villagers (now happy and healthy) come to see them off. The only thing they're lacking is a feast, but given what the village just went though, that's understandable. They leave the village with the promise of hospitality any time they return, though, as well as the gratitude of everyone living here. Mission accomplished!