Date: August 20, 2012
Keiji follows Kazeodori onto a battlefield knowing they will die there.
"What if? Final Performance - Against Better Judgement"
It had been a normal day for most the people in Sunagakure. There was a sand storm that took visibility down close to zero. The only difference was on this day a war was brewing. Under the cover of the sand, the combined forces of Kumogakure and Iwagakure struck out at the Sand Village. Their forces showed up almost instantly. The eastern half of the village fell within the first hour. It's defenses were over run and most the buildings smashed or set ablaze. The streets were filled with shinobi and civilian alike. It was pure chaos.
Elsewhere near the administration dome, Keiji sits down at a table. He is obviously much older now. Easily past his teenage years and possibly into his early twenties. His pincered finger moves over the map on the table. "They struck here and here first. That forced everyone back to this point. Now they are using these two points to attack. If only we were able to use the wall to funnel their forces…" He growls a bit at the idea of losing the massive wall.
Then a messenger arrives. Keiji turns towards them, "Any news of the other members of unit 2?" The messenger slows shakes their head. "None sir." Keiji then lowers his head and turns back towards the battle plans ahead.
Kazeodori stands behind Keiji, staring over his shoulder at the map laid before. The boy is older himself, the wear of years beginning to pluck at his face, the stature of his body stronger, more elegant. By his side rests a slender katana. His hair, still long, still the lightest touch of lavender, dangles near his waist. He lowers himself a bit closer towards the map, ignoring the muffled sounds of chaos blowing in from outside.
"What's the plan?"
This is Kazeodori's first war, his first major combat. For his years, he has spent them working towards keeping more bloodshed from happening, but one man - but a boy, even - is not enough to keep entire nations from savaging each other. Thus, together with his mentor he stands, to help as best he can. That the fight may be stopped — by peace, or by death.
Keiji shakes his head. "We must fall back to the caverns outside the village. Once we have a good estimate of our numbers we can begin a counter attack and take the village back. Right now there is too much that is unknown. I am sure they have brought in their best for the assault. This is not like a planned assassination. This is… something far different." It was obvious he was not sure what to say.
Keiji then turns to the messenger. "Tell our forces to retreat. There is no point in watching people die as we try to gather intel. Maybe they will spare the civillians if they know we're not here."
Kazeodori retains his position behind Keiji, over the map, listening as the orders are given. The boy's position does not change, but his head turns slightly, to look at Keiji's masked visage.
Kazeodori regains his posture, crossing his hands into his robes.
"How can you suggest retreat? And leave our village to be taken?"
The boy shakes his head, removing one hand from his robes to place it upon the hilt of his katana, staring now, blankly, at the battle map on the table.
"There's got to be something else we can do. Some other way."
The boy shakes his head again.
"There must be another way."
The eyes of Keiji close a moment to cover his dark pupils. There was pain in his decision, but it was for what he believed to be the best. "Kaze, we were not prepared for this war. If we continue to press on more will die because of that lack of being prepared. I understand your pain but we cannot simply fight their massive numbers. Reports are sketchy. We do not even know if they have more troops than what attacked…"
"But I can't…"
The boy shakes his head, staring at nothing.
"I can't leave."
Kazeodori's head snaps up, his eyes wide and glistening in their anxiety, glistening in their fear of the future, of a future so immediate.
"I can't leave her."
And the boy simply… vanishes. More than likely, he flickered himself away, disappearing with the speed that ninja are prone to do. But where he's going, who the 'she' is that he is after, is unknown. Perhaps his mother, trapped in the Sasaki headquarters. Perhaps another, a girl he has known for some time. A girl who he smiles with, who he sits close to, grinning and plucking at flowers. A girl in who he sees the innocence of the world that should be. Perhaps it's no one at all. Or perhaps it's someone who has, in the horror and ravage of the war, become no one.
"Fine then, go." is all Keiji states in a low tone before standing up. "If she is not already dead, she will only weigh you down." Keiji then rolls up the map and looks towards the others in the underground meeting place. "Move out. Get to the tunnels and find a member of the council. I will be along shortly. I have something to do…"
Once all of the other shinobi vanish, Keiji looks towards the ground. "Damnit Kaze. Even as a Chuunin, you are irrational as ever. I never thought you of all people would fall to one of the three great shinobi vices." The Jounin then makes some hand seals and sinks into the earth. "I always thought a woman would get me killed. Never imagined it would be my own student…"
Kazeodori churns through the streets, leaping from rooftop to rooftop. Around the village, houses are afire, unknown ninja slicing through innocent civilians, combing the streets in a savage of blood and hate. Sunagakure shinobi challenge when they can, offering but a slowing for the rapacious ravaging of the oncoming ninja. Slaughter bleeds into the air, and the tangy metallic of blood licks into the sky.
As Kazeodori makes his way - so furiously, so surely - to the house of the girl he cannot leave, two rogue shinobi leap into his path a house away. The boy does not miss a beat, still leaping, and in mid-air, disappears, reappearing in an instant behind one of the shinobi, his blade arriving instantaneously in the man's chest. The man spits blood into the air, and Kazeodori pulls his sword free with a sickening shink. He stands before the other, and sheathes the blade. Right as the other begins to move, Kazeodori's hand are flashing, and in an instant, the man is immobile. The air around - though invisible to sight - becomes so thick that the man cannot even breathe. Thicker and thicker it becomes, and cries from the man begin to erupt. Soon enough, the air becomes too dense for the human body, and the enemy shinobi vanishes in a pop of blood and offal. Kazeodori snarls a lip, and dashes off again.
Soon after Kaze's exit from the area, Keiji emerges. "Reminds me of when you were younger. I remember having to track you through the desert." He then looks down at the mess of what use to be one shinobi. "Though you never left that for me to find. You have grown soo much." The Jounin's mind seems to remember some of the time they spent as kids together. Beneath his mask, Keiji's lips curl into a smile as he moves forward. A few senbon are thrown into his body, causing it to pop in a puff of smoke. A shadow clone…
Kazeodori arrives at the house he had been so eagerly attending. The door is kicked in, several of the walls scorched, one of them crumbling at the top, leading the roof to have caved into the corner of the home.
"No… no, no."
Kazeodori appears before the door, easing it slowly open, peering inside. There are no sounds of fight, no screams or scuffles of conflict. There is just the burning smell of stone and the sharp cackle of lit timber. Kazeodori pushes the door open, the hinges squealing. He steps into the home, but he gets no further than the first. On the floor before him lies the bleeding of his heart. She is dead, an arc of red leading from her chest and onto the floor, as if it were searching for a new life.
But the boy cannot move. He only stands there, his lips tucked into his teeth, a glisten drawing at the corner of his eyes.
Another moment goes by before Keiji appears behind Kazeodori. "Her suffering has come to an end. I would urge you to retreat but unfortunately it is too late. We have drawn the attention of their sensor nin." He knew right now his words were falling on deaf ears. The world Kaze knew was probably crumbling at the moment. There was only one thing Keiji could offer his student. "Let us avenge her death. Kill as many of them as possible." His voice was now a whisper as his hand moved to rest on the shoulder of his student.
Outside the residence several enemy shinobi had gathered. This area was far too deep to expect any reinforcements. "Kill them." came a voice from the outside…
Kazeodori stares straight ahead, his eyes never leaving the empty body of the girl. No breath lifts her chest, no gleam stirs her eyes; no more laughter walking through the desert, no more staring at the rare flowers which bloom right after rain; there would never be another moment together. How much longer would life be worth? How many days before it became too many?
Keiji's words slip like syrup along Kazeodori's ear, so sticky and thick in his mind. His head snaps up, he turns to face the doorway, untying the sword from his waist, letting it topple to the floor with a clatter. The boy takes several steps towards the door, the first of the enemy ninja streaming through. A few hand seals are made, and - with a roar - Kazeodori takes a lunging punch forward. From the distance, it would seem his impact will fall easily short. The other shinobi sees this and grins, but it is the last moment of his job, as an eruption of thunder crushes forth from Kazeodori's fist, slamming into the man and blasting him back through the doorway, through which Kazeodori himself charges through.
The punch was something Keiji had expected. He had seen Kaze use the manuever many times. The first time the boy had used it, Keiji had been so proud. He remembered taking Kaze out to eat to celebrate the occassion. It was a costly celebration. Of course not to be out done by his student, Keiji placed his fingers together and focused his chakra until his body began to shift. Once fully transformed into the giant fat tail scorpion, he demolished the wall nearest to him and with lightning quick speed began to tear through enemy shinobi as if they were water.
Unable to fully concentrate on the battle, Keiji continued to glance towards Kaze. He pondered if in the next few minutes the boy he raised as a shinobi would return, or if he was stuck with the pain driven wreck that he had become. It was a gamble either way, but somehow if anyone could do it, it would have been him. Their history had taught him that much.
It is by rage that Kazeodori acts a ninja. There is no comprehension in his mind, no analyzation of the scene, no identifying targets and remaining nonchalant, as Keiji had instructed. To not let one's emotions overcome them. Such things did not exist for Kazeodori. His world was blurred, shifted now, tucked into a place where only he and death existed. Several shinobi were blasted away from the combat zone, always proceeded by a crack of thunder. But even with such a driving force, the realization of an unwinnable situation is inescapable.
A blade shivered into Kazeodori's side, blind as he was to its coming. A cry erupts from the boy, but it is with anger he turns to his attacker. Kazeodori claps his hands together, blowing the man away in a gust of wind. He looks down at the instrument sticking from his flesh, the blood like water soaking his robes. He pulls the blade out, anguish and spittle jumping from his lips. Another immediately sinks through his back, punching from his chest as his own blade did to another but minutes ago. A cough erupts from the boy this time, a spatter of blood slapping the ground.
"Summoning jutsu!" *poof* From a cloud of smoke a giant raccoon appeared above the Scorpion-formed Keiji. Not one to back down from the fight, the fat tail launches itself onto underside of the raccon. The two claws grasp into it's flesh causing the raccoon to scream in pain. The tail stabs upwards into the jaw of the coon. It is only a matter of moments before the massive creature hits the ground dead. But something else draws Keiji's attention.
It was the scream of Kaze. The scorpion turns towards the boy in time to see the second blade shoved through his chest. For a few moments time seems to stop.
'Never have I wondered what it would be like to have a normal student. A student who listens and is respectful. No, that would have not been nearly as much fun.' Keiji thinks to himself. Visions of Kaze chowing down on food and other times play through his head. Like the time where he slammed the door on Asao, on guard duty, for not having food in his hands. Thinking about it, Kaze had always seemed to be a different spirit. A source of light for the most part. Now his life was about to fade and there was nothing Keiji could do about it.
Then from out of no where a spear slams into the side of the scorpion causing him to fall over into the rubble. He starts to move for a few moments back towards the place where Kaze was falling. Soon his body transforms back into the man he was.
As the sword is pulled from Kazeodori's chest, the boy tumbles to the ground, falling onto his back. Blood seeps from beneath him, claiming ground with the apathy of an ocean wave. But there is no draw back into the water: the wave simply flows and flows, soaking through the sand.
Kazeodori stares into the sky, the empty stretch of desert sky. The sounds of war, of death and hunger and hate, are quiet now. He blinks, once, the only thing in his vision the length of sky. But with the turn of his head, the roll of his neck that his eyes might find the other, that he might see Keiji, it all returns. The fires, the blood, the crumbled homes, the screams of fright. And too is Keiji, tranforming himself back into a man. A wan smile licks onto Kazeodori's face as he stares at his mentor, the clothing of the other's side soaked and shining.
The boy had never used such a greeting, such a pronouncement of respect. But it would seem, upon one's end, to be the perfect time for politeness.
Beneath the mask, Keiji was returning the smile. He moves his free hand to his mask and unhooks the metal. "I have… am proud.. of.. you." Though Keiji was certain that his soul was tainted well beyond that of Kaze's he had hoped to meet him in the next world. That seemed unlikely. 'The irony…' Keiji laughed to himself. 'I spent my whole life asking what consequences would come of my actions. How did I ever end up with someone so different?' he asked himself. Now he was no longer able to feel the blade plunge into his skull. Everything just faded to black.