Date: May 18, 2016
The mission to draw out and capture the traitors and infiltrators doesn't go quite as planned…
Poster's note: foul language filtered in obvious places.
"Fire Starters - Flash Point"
Land of Fire
The mission began bright and early. Reime and Aru are running around the Village doing D-Rank missions. Nothing major. They've split up to cover more ground in some cases. Tsugumi, Suzu, Rinoko, and Nonon have gone out together to retrieve 'recordings' on security devices that don't exist which could reveal who has been messing with those same systems in an attempt to deceive Hidden Leaf ninja. They are followed. While their pursuers are skilled, the urgency of the situation has them moving a bit more detectably than they ordinarily would be. The kunoichi should be able to sense the fact they're being followed without using jutsu. But what the pursuers don't know is that half of the team isn't actually there.
Two of them are Paper Clones in the shape and appearance of Nonon and Tsugumi.
Something else they don't know is that Aru and Reime are not just running around on D-Ranks… They're delivering messages. Delivering evidence. Putting bargaining chips all over the Village, ready to be delivered into the hands of those in positions of authority.
So though Suzu and Rinoko are being pursued by at least four skilled shinobi, it's up to just the two of them to act as decoys and possibly even to capture their pursuers.
Meanwhile, back in Konohagakure, Uchiha Ken is getting suited up at the police station. "Sorry, ladies and gentlemen. I've got a meeting to get to, so I'll have to end my shift early today."
One of the ladies in question teases with a sly look on her face, "Oh-hoooh~? Is this 'meeting' with that pretty wife of yours?"
Ken chuckles and rubs the back of his head as he says, "Something like that."
"I'm sure you'll have more pictures of her to show everyone around the office when you're back!" the lady officer says with a sigh as she shrugs helplessly, familiar by now with how sharing space with Ken works.
Another Uchiha police officer clenches a fist and weeps dramatically as he laments, "Curse you Ken, for bagging such a hotty! I was sure I had a chance with her until you came along!"
The female officer looks annoyed and says, "Oh, I see! I guess I'm just not up to your standards!" She gets up, scooping documents into her arms. "I suppose our date is off for tonight then!"
The guy looks appalled and chases after her, calling out, "No, wait! That's not what I meant! You're also really hot! But even you called Tsugumi-san pretty! Hey! Yoiko-chaaaaan!"
Ken just grins lopsidedly and sweatdrops a bit before heading on out.
Meanwhile, at the Hokage Administration Dome, an older man with a shock of white hair on his head and a thick moustache is sitting behind a desk. After awhile, there's a knock at the door. The man looks up, one of his eyes scarred over by flame. "Come in…"
The door slowly opens, squeaking the entire time. Then the man, Senju Moroi, narrows his good eye as he says. "Oh-hoh… This is a surprise. I didn't expect to see YOU here…" The figure bearing the crest of the Uchiha Clan steps through the door.
"Uchiha Ken." Moroi finishes, as Ken stands before him.
It's a good things Rinoko got a hang of that Paper Clone jutsu before this mission. She's glad to be of as much service to the team and the village as possible, after all. They're quite believable, at least enough for the purpose of this mission. As they move along toward their next destination, Rinoko appears to making checks and marks along certain spots on a piece of paper. Perhaps it's a checklist where they're to go and check these monitoring devices? Good and juicy information for their pursuers to want in the hands of a feeble-looking librarian.
"We should reach our next checkpoint soon," she comments as she glances between the list and the trail ahead. Everything seems to be going as normal, the two clones even interacting as they would normally with the other two.
Suzu lets out a noise of agreement as she runs through the forest, occasionally stopping if Rinoko does (or at the direction of the 'mom' Paper Clone), but otherwise keeping on the move. But the tension is getting to her. This is her first time doing a mission like this. Having to fool people. She's a very open and honest young woman, and not great at deception. So rather than trying to act or lie, which would immediately seem suspicious simply because of how BAD she is at both, she settles for keeping quiet instead, so she can't reveal anything.
Though she IS aware they're being followed. She can feel the eyes on her, like a sixth sense. Is this a sign she's becoming a high-level shinobi, like Rinoko-sensei? Like her mom? That she can feel 'attention', the focus of another's concentration and senses aimed in her direction? She doesn't know. But she almost wishes she couldn't feel it, because that would make her less stressd out about what's about to happen.
She decides to make a gambit of her own here, however, to see if they can draw out the ones following them. Which may be a huge mistake, but… "Do you think it's true what that Aoiko lady said before she died? About who sent her on that mission in the first place?" If Aoiko and her Bomber companions were working together with the traitors… They might react to the name.
Aru scurries around the Village, hauling garbage, weeding gardens, repairing wagons, and all the rest, as far as she can, well, one might think that a member of the Head Family of the Hyuga Clan being so enthusiastic about her manual labor is quite a sight to see! But in truth, she is just trying to get as many messages delivered as she can before she is due to meet up with her big sister. They have to have everything in place. So much evidence, so many messages to trustworthy people, that even if they're being watched, the enemy won't be able to find them all. And there's an additional back-up that Reime and Aru have arranged of their own… Right in their own house, where even ANBU would have difficulty explaining their presence and need to be there, let alone search for the place where the documents are hidden. This is a matter of grave importance.
A traitor to the Village, possibly multiple traitors, are intent on destroying the Hidden Leaf just to get some gunkus into the position of Third Hokage. Someone who would sacrifice the Village just to obtain power and influence… Is unfit to be Hokage.
So Aru is determined. But boy are all these D-Ranks a work-out.
Running around the village delivering stuff is not tremendously new to Hyuga Reime, and she had gotten pretty good at it over the last year or so. So, her efficiency was rather commendable. She's not entirely aware of what is going on or the reason she is going about and doing these little missions while her friends are elsewhere, but she does what she is told.
"Well… I wanted to have a little talk with you." Ken starts. "About the investigation."
"I suppose…" Moroi says, and gestures at the chair in front of his desk.
But as Ken begins to move forward, he's brought up short by a knife at his throat. He pauses, frowning, and glances to the side, at a ninja who is emerging from the wall itself with kunai in hand, now ready to cut the Chuunin's jugular vein.
Ken looks forwards and asks calmly, "What's the meaning of this, Moroi-san?"
Then Moroi folds his hands together in front of himself and says, "Oh, nothing really… Just that I know for a fact that you're not actually Uchiha Ken."
Ken looks surprised puzzled for a moment, and then asks, "Why would you think that? We had an appointment today, didn't we? I'm just a little bit early." He grins and says, "You know how I have a hard time keeping track of time!"
Moroi chuckles as he stands up from his desk. "All true. But Uchiha Ken wasn't supposed to meet me here. He was supposed to meet someone else first, at the Village entrance, and then he and I would speak at the library."
Ken, seeming unimpressed by this pronouncement, says, "Well, I'd be glad to talk over this misunderstanding… But wWho is this friend of yours? I don't recognize them, and I'm having a hard time concentrating with their kunai so close to cutting me."
Moroi says, "It doesn't matter. Because whoever you are, you're not going to need to know." Then he raises his hand to indicate the blade should be used.
The enemy protruding from the wall slashes at the same time that something explodes.
Meanwhile, the ones pursuing Rinoko and Suzu and their Paper Clone companions seem to take the bait Suzu offered, combined with the data Rinoko has been collecting. Two figures zip into view ahead of them on the path, streaks of movement, who are mirrored by two more figures behind. They're all wearing ANBU outfits. ****.
A man in a ceramic bird mask says, "Uchiha Tsugumi. Rankoro Rinoko. Namikaze Nonon. Uchiha Suzuha. We need you four to come with us immediately."
Meanwhile, as Aru and Reime run around town, their activities have not been missed. They're being allowed to keep doing their missions, discretly concealing their message delivery as simple physical chores of cleaning things up and chasing down cats and so on. But the reasons behind it are unknown to the observers. Why these two prominent Hyuga family members should suddenly be lowering themselves to such basic Genin missions… Especially given the high-profile, high-risk missions they've BEEN going on so far… Well, it's enough to make them suspicious.
But unlike with the other group, the ones following and watching them are not ANBU. They're seemingly merchants and travellers from outside the Village who keep an eye on them, moving around in the frenetic mission completions they're engaging in… Trying to figure out what's really going on. When the same faces start being seen over and over, out of the corner of the eye, pretending to haggle with a merchant, etc… It's only a matter of time before the two kunoichi start to memorize them, and be on the look out. Though of course, they can't reveal they're aware…
That explosion that comes at the same time that the Earth Release-using ninja makes his move to slash at Ken is the result of a hand erupting through the wall that the is merged with, creating a gaping hole. Plasters continues to rain down inside Moroi's office for several seconds afterwards, as a female figure steps through the hole, her arm looking somewhat banged up but also engulfed in Chakra. Once inside, Nonon smiles at Moroi and the enemy ninja she interrupted, and says, "I disagree. I think that we need to know not only who your friend is, but everything else you know." n_n
She spins a kunai of her own into her grasp.
She adds on in a far less friendly tone, "Now."
Just as Rinoko is about to answer Suzu, the figures appear on the path. Rinoko cuts a glance Suzu's way then looks back ahead. The Rankoro woman seems to cower a bit while Paper Clone Tsugumi shakes her head and answers, "I'm afraid we can't do that. We're under direct orders from the Hokage, and we can't accept any interruption to our mission except one directly from his mouth."
Keeping things normal as to what anyone outside would think their relationship is like seems to be her strategy. After all, those outside the team wouldn't know that Rinoko has grown in confidence lately.
ANBU!? Or… Are they really? The ANBU answer directly to the Hokage… So why would these ANBU be stopping them from going on a mission that was supposedly ordered by the Hokage? Suzu sees two possibilities, even as papermom refuses to cooperate. Possibility #1: They aren't really ANBU. Possibility #2: They're really ANBU and the Hokage really ordered them to come find them.
The first situation is bad, but about what they expected. They knew SOMEONE would come after them, after all.
The second situation is either also bad or VERY bad. Because it could mean that their plan to fool people into thinking they were doing something for the Hokage worked TOO well… And now the Hokage himself has heard about it and wants them to explain what the heck they're doing.
Or it could even mean the Hokage himself has been fooled by his 'trusted advisor' and now they're in trouble…
She doesn't even want to think about the possible scenario where Senju Daisuke could actually be IN on the plan, because that's opening a whole other can of worms about what he would have to gain from helping a guy who wants to replace him and if he knows about the plan to replace him and so on and so forth. She isn't smart enough or paranoid enough to deal with all that.
But right now, she has to deal with what's in front of her. She adds on, "Can you tell us why you wanted us to come with you?" If they claim they were sent by the Hokage TOO… Well, only one side has a chance of telling the truth on that matter. And it isn't theirs.
Aru and Reime meet up after they finish their current batch of missions, and by that point, they've spotted the same people following them and watching them in multiple places. It's, to be blunt, majorly creepy. She has never felt unsafe in her own Village before, but that's how she feels now. And kind of how she's felt ever since finding out there was a traitor manipulating things to his advantage.
There's only one message left to deliver. This is the one that's supposed to be obvious. So, taking her big sister by the hand, Aru says, "Come on, onee-chan. Now that all of that's out of the way, it's time to go see Akimichi Noab. He's sure to know what to do about our situation, and he needs to see that message from Tsugumi-sensei."
She isn't being loud about this announcement, but they're standing out in broad daylight, with people passing by, and they're already under surveillance. She's sure they'll be heard.
"Don't worry about it, Nonon-chan." Ken remarks after he stands there stoicly, not even flinching when either the knife wielder moves to attack him or the wall explodes. "I'll drag the answers out of them whether they want to talk or not." Then Ken's Sharingan activates, as he prepares to use Genjutsu on the enemy.
The one who was punched out of the wall by Nonon is clinging up on the ceiling on all fours, a white bandanna on his forehead in plate of a hita-ite, a wild mass of black hair waggling upwards from his scalp, and a scarf over the lower half of his face. His eyes are wide, bloodshot, and hostile looking. Nasty-looking eyes. "Is the little girl okay to kill too?" he rasps in a low, gurgling voice.
Moroi replies in the affirmative. "Aa. Whatever they know, it's too much. Eliminate them both." Then he backs up against the other side of the office, letting his goon protect his elderly bones. "Be cautious of that Sharingan, however. It can snare you in a world of illusions."
"I've got it…" the psycho gurgles before kicking the heavy desk up and towards Ken and Nonon, sending papers flying everywhere, and obstructiong their view with both those and the desk itself. Which way is he going to attack? From where?
Meanwhile, in the forest, Rinoko and Suzu and their paper companions are apparently following these ANBU to some degree. The bird-masked one doesn't seem to be willing to accept the refusal, and says, "Your orders have been changed. If you come with us, the Hokage can explain to you himself." Ah-hah. Gotcha'. He accepted that a Hokage-ordered mission was underway that doesn't actually exist. These ANBU aren't actually serving the Hokage at all!
Or at least the bird-masked one isn't… But while they know HE'S probably not loyal to the Hokage, it doesn't help them THAT much. Because in order to catch him in his error, Team 13 would have to admit that there was no secret Hokage-ordered mission to begin with, which would remove one of their strongest excuses not to come with, and might get them in even more trouble.
In answer to Suzu's question, a woman behind the group, in a fox mask, says, "Let's not fool around here. The real reason we've been sent to retrieve you, on the Hokage's orders…" Though she looks relaxed, with her hand on her hip, the ponytailed fox-lady could probably draw and slash with a blade faster than mundane eyes could follow if she were given cause. Which is worrisome with what she says next. "…Is because you're been labelled traitors to the Hidden Leaf, who have been collaborating with the Bombers to weaken the Village so that the Uchiha Clan can take control."
It seems Moroi was one step ahead of them in that department, using enough of his own plan to have a grain of truth, and using it to send these people after them. But the question now is… How many of these ANBU are fake-ANBU? And how many are actually loyal?
And is there a way to make the loyal ones act in Team 13's favor?
This isn't a challenge of force, per se, though it could become one. It might instead, be a challenge of wits.
Elsewhere, as Aru and Reime head towards the marketplace, and the Akimichi Village located nearby, they suddenly find themselves obstructed while going down an alley. A tall figure in a straw hat steps into their path. And a similarly dressed figure in flowing robes steps in the way back where they came.
The first one says, "Where are you going in such a hurry girls? Don't you know it's dangerous to run around so much?"
So Moroi isn't backing down, and his henchmonkey is going to do the fighting for him. That's fine. Two versus one is better than two versus two, even if one of the opponents is a wrinkly old fart. Nonon just says, "Hai." in response to Ken. So they can't kill these two. They need to be interrogated. When Gurgles kicks the desk at them creating a huge messy distraction, Nonon reveals that she has learned a bit more about her powers. Because she blurs and vanishes, appearing on the other side of the desk almost immediately, the world seeming to move in slow motion as she flows the Swift Chakra Nature through herself, accelerating her mind and body.
When she resolves into visibility again, she's where Masky LaRue is, and tries to slash at the backs of his legs if she can turn in time, to try to remove some of his mobility.
Well, ****… Rinoko probably should've made a paper copy of Suzu too so she'd be the only one at risk in this situation and Suzu would be able to report back to the others without having to be under scrutiny by these ANBU… or fake ANBU. She could probably trade places with a Paper Clone of herself at that point if she really wanted, but no sense risking getting caught. For now she'll just have to go along with them.
"There must be some kind of mistake," Paper Tsugumi answers with raised eyebrows. "But we'll come along so we can clear up this confusion and our names. Let's go then." Assuming they lead the way to where they are supposed to be going, Rinoko and the two Paper Clones would go along with them.
Oh. Oh, that is very bad. If these folks think they're capturing traitors for the Hokage… And if bird-guy is leading them and saying he's under orders from the Hokage… They aren't going to question those orders. That isn't what they're trained to do. Trying to second guess the Hokage is probably… Not something any competent ANBU would be attempting. But surely, there's a way to expose the fake, right? To get the others to cooperate? After all, if their leader is a fake, then he sure isn't going to be taking them to the Hokage. And if they're ALL fakes, the same apply. The only situation she can think of where they'd be taken to see Daisuke is if Moroi was already there and waiting with falsified evidence.
And NONE of these situations sound good. Rinoko having paper-Tsugumi agree startles Suzu as she mentally scrambles for a solution. "Wha—Really?" she asks without thinking, only to close her mouth and obey. Rinoko is team leader here. She probably has a plan. There's no way she doesn't. Because if they're going to have any chance of exposing the fake… They'd have to do it before they get to wherever they're being taken. Right?
Just so that she has a slight advantage incase something bad happens, Suzu activates her Sharingan. If anyone asks, she'll have to make up an excuse, of course. Like she's training to be able to leave it active all the time like her mom can! Yeah, that works!
And in the meantime… She'll be able to see attacks coming. Even if she doubts she could avoid them.
As Aru is running down an alleyway with her big sister, and two creepers appear, she can't think of a single good reason for them to be there, because there are no good reasons. No one blocks both ends of an alleyway just to give safety tips to teenage girls. So she doesn't hesitate as strawhat guy gets in their way. Her Byakugan activates and she just keeps running right up to him, only to leap in the air and try to Juuken him in the face in passing, hoping to weaken him, land, and keep right on going.
She doesn't have time for this. Even if this is part of the plan. But they really need to get to the Akimichi Village. She thought they'd have at least a LITTLE BIT more time before they got accosted. "Reime-oneechan! Take a different route! I'll meet you there!" she calls out.
Psycho Goon's legs are slashed but not quite enough to keep him from moving around. Still he now has bloody slashes on his limbs and he's barely even aware of where they came from. See, he was focused on trying slip a smoke bomb under the desk as it flew through the air, perhaps hoping to obscure vision and remove many of the Sharingan's strengths. He wasn't looking behind him, where no enemies are supposed to be.
He turns, swearing at Nonon, as the smoke bombs drop from his hand, hit the floor, and erupt, just as he slashes at the blonde-haired head with the kunai in his other hand.
And then Ken attempts to kick the desk into the goon's back and then slam a kunai of his own through the wood and into the enemy. Right as the whole room fills with smoke.
The bird-masked ANBU guy seems as surprised as Suzu that 'Tsugumi' agreed. It's possible he was expecting them to fight. Perhaps even counting on it, so he had an excuse to eliminate them. Taking them to the Hokage isn't in his best interests if he's a traitor. And if the others aren't… "…Alright. Let's go then. But first, we have to restrain you." He holds up some cord between his hands.
"We don't need you traitors making any hand seals and trying to slip away, after all." The fox-lady folds her arms and says, "Let's be quick about it." Another of the ANBU comes forwards with cord of his own, preparing to bind Rinoko's hands, while bird-face goes for paper-Tsugumi.
Assuming the quartet cooperate, they'd soon find themselves tied up very securely, hands behind their backs, and prepared to be led around as though on leashes. Bird mask guy notices Suzu's Sharingan either way and says, "Oi! What's with those eyes? Who said you could use your Sharingan, huh~?" He then attempts to punch Suzu in the face.
Whether he lands the hit or not, fox-mask lady says, "Enough! If they're willing to go with peacefully, then take them that way! She can't do anything with her Sharingan if we don't make eye contact. Her hands are bound. Unless you think a Genin might use Taijutsu that can take you out?"
Jerky bird face curses under his breath but doesn't do anything further unless he's fought back against. "Nasty Uchiha…"
Meanwhile, Aru's leaping attack catches the guy completely off-guard, perhaps expecting the young kunoichi to pause or huddle in fear for a moment or panic or SOMETHING, not just keep right on running! One sec he's grinning like a creeper, then his expression slowly shifts to one of shock as HE panics and has to duck under the pair of jump-kick Juuken strikes. Holding his hat down with one hand, he yells out, "Darn it! After them!" As he chases down Aru while his companion slips away to go after Reime. A public chase through the streets of the Hidden Leaf isn't to his advantage, however, so he soon makes himself scarce… But has he given up on following her or is he just looking for a better opportunity to attack?
He's still on the move! How unfortunate! But Nonon manages to flicker out of the way of that kunai slash easily enough… But when the room fills with smoke, she has much worse luck, unable to tell where anything or anyone is in the enclosed space with the furniture so recently moved around. She didn't get a chance to see the new layout before everything became obscured.
So for now, she leaps straight up, turns upside-down, and clings to the ceiling like the psycho was before. If he tries to come up here, she might be able to detect him more easily. And if he doesn't, she'll be out of range of any more slashes, until the smoke finishes spilling out into the hallway and clears things up.
Calling out to her comrade in this situation doesn't seem like a good idea. It would betray her position. So she has to remain silent.
Restraining… Oh no! Whatever will Rinoko do?! The joys of only her team knowing about her abilities. These geniuses think they can bind her like anyone else…. while her body undergoes an invisible tranformation that only Suzu would be able to see by turning into countless sheets of paper much like Tsugumi and Nonon are, except this is her actual body. When the punch toward Suzu comes, Paper Tsugumi says, "We are coming willingly. Let's try and stay calm." That ANBU will get payback for that later, but no sense being hasty about it.
Suzu is getting her hands tied which is, admittedly, not great for HER at least in terms of escaping this mess if she needed to. And while that's happening she gets punched in the face. Her Sharingan sees it coming well enough, but she just doesn't act to defend herself. Is she too surprised? Either way she cries out in pain, takes the blow to the face, and hits the ground. She lies there for a few seconds before getting back to her feet with some difficulty due to not having use of her hands. But half of it's for show. If they think she's a weakling and are willing to write her off because she's a Genin, better not to give them any reason to think otherwise about her.
But what really surprised her was the huge volume of Chakra that Rinoko has focused, and the transformation to her body. It's like before… But the Chakra level is even higher. Rinoko-sensei is really amazing.
She is momentarily glad that neither her real mom nor her father are here, because both of them would have reacted with much less calm to Suzu getting hit. And that's probably exactly what the ANBU guy henceforth labelled 'Angrybird' wanted.
If he's trying to keep them from actually making it to the Hokage alive, he's likely to try something else along the way. But it's also a good thing. Because it means if they actually MAKE it to the Hokage, the situation may turn in their favor. Especially if the second team in this operation is doing its job. Moroi can't convince the Hokage they're traitors if he's already been captured and forced to reveal his true plans!
So all Suzu can do right now is try to stay alive and not give Angrybird what he wants. But if he forces a fight… It might be up to Rinoko to save her. And hopefully, the other ANBU, who don't seem like bad people. Fox-lady and two others who have been rather quiet. None of THEM have punched Suzu.
So those are the options right now. Sway the others to their side or make it impossible to push them to fight. Persuasion or endurance.
Reime and Aru have split up, and now, as Aru runs through the streets, her Byakugan makes her aware that strawhat has leapt up onto the rooftops and is running alongside and above her. Probably looking for a chance to cut her off or ambush her again where there aren't as many witnesses. She hopes Reime will be okay. But for now, she avoids looking at him, and starts making various sudden turns down streets, acting like she's trying to lose him. Avoiding shortcuts, and using the roads. She knows this area well. It's right nearby the Hyuga Village after all, not just the Akimichi Village. And if the goon is following her that closely, desperately looking for any way to stop her from reaching her destination… He might not notice that he's being maneuvered towards a building with a large tower right alongside of it.
And he might run directly into it. If he does or not, it might at least stall him long enough for the young Hyuga to duck down an alleyway when she's finally out of view from his position, and start heading for her original destination!
Psychogoon is stabbed in the back THROUGH the desk and cries out in pain, just as the room fills with smoke. He's too distracted to see where Nonon went to, and his own stealth attempts are ineffective against Ken at least. Apparently the smoke isn't defense enough to conceal his Chakra. So even as he tries to move back in the direction of a wall, kunai held before him, trying to work his way around to Moroi while leaving as few open avenues of attack as possible, he has no idea where an attack might even come from. But there's both an open door and a huge hole in the wall, so the smoke is billowing out into the hall. The room is quickly clearing, and with no further stealth benefits he might see his opponent…
And launch a hook on a chain from his sleeve at the Uchiha!
Ken, meanwhile, at the same time, blasts a ball of water from his mouth at the psycho, aimed at his chest. It moves at high speed, and in this low visibility, might be difficult to avoid!
He is also completely exposed to attacks from above thanks to Nonon being on the ceiling. He has trapped himself against a wall, with nowhere else to go, the illusion of safety provided by a barrier at his back simply making him more vulnerable.
Out in the forest, as the group gets underway, they are kept at a brisk, steady pace, with no breaks to rest. Suzu, Rinoko, paper-Tsugumi, paper-Nonon (who has been completely and uncharacteristically quiet. Good thing nobody here knows her), all get lead back towards the Village, as Angrybird apparently decides he can't wait too much longer and moves ahead to whisper quietly with fox-mask lady. What are they discussing? It's hard to say with those masks in the way… But whatever it is, at the end of it, fox-lady looks back towards the captives, nods her head, and then looks forwards again.
And Angrybird starts to fall back once more, towards the rear…
Only to stop alongside Rinoko. "It's unfortunate that you got caught up in all this," he says. Rinoko, too, has been very quiet. "I recall the Hokage himself gave you this position and responsibility. If you were, perhaps, tricked or forced into helping these traitors, it might be possible some kind of deal could be made…" So now he's going to be both good cop AND bad cop. With different people.
Yeah, that'll work.
After spending a confusing few minutes following Aru around, trying to figure out what she was doing, Strawhat guy nearly runs right into the wall, but looks forward just in time to see the tower. He runs up it, up to the top, and then stops as he tries to see where Aru went. When he spots her, he appears in front of her again in a blur, with the Akimichi Village entrance right in plain view.
"That's far enough." he declares. "Give me that letter and you won't get hurt."
She appears to have escaped notice. So as she is on the ceiling, just as the smoke is clearing, Nonon sees the target and sees him apparently wound Ken. And she decides to take Psychogoon down. She does this in three ways. First by blowing out and causing some of the smoke in the area to come back and try to fill the enemy's lungs by manipulating wind currents and altering the smoke's toxicity with her Chakra. Then she drops down, forming hand seals, and attempts to puts her hands on either side of his head after landing on his shoulders. Then she calls out a single warning to her ally. "Lightning!"
That's all the warning Ken gets before a binding flash of light erupts from Nonon's palms, and hopefully directly into Psycho Goon's eyes… Followed by a blast of actual lightning to crackle through him and electrocute him.
The longer this fight goes on, the more likely they're going to be interrupted. And trying to explain why they're attacking an advisor the Hokage could be messy if they haven't gotten him in a position where he'll confess before then.
Rinoko is a bit surprised when the guy comes back to her. She is a bit confused for a moment until she realizes her ruse has worked out in a way she hadn't anticipated… This guy thinks she's actually cowering, nervous, and confused. He most likely hopes to sway her over to his side to help move things his way. Since things are going that way, the best thing to do would be to play along and weave her way inside so she can figure out the best way to splinter this plan…
A brief glance is cast toward Suzu. Rinoko hopes with all her heart that the Uchiha girl trusts her enough to realize what she is doing. Looking back to the Angrybird, Rinoko offers him a sad smile. "He did put me in this position when he promoted me… I've gotten caught up with their missions, but I never considered that there could have been ulterior motives. I hope this is all just a misunderstanding, but I'm glad you're here if it's not…"
If the situation weren't so dire, it would almost be laughable what's being attempted. This guys must be really desperate to tear the group apart. To do SOMETHING to put himself in a better position before they reach their destination. And Suzu is recognizing these trees… They gates of Konohagakure should be in sight very soon. Minutes at the most. With her face acheing where she was punched, testing the inside of her cheek with her tongue for any sign of the source of the blood she keeps tasting, she has the presence of mind to put her bad acting to work. She has to make it convincing.
She glowers at Rinoko as the Chuunin starts speaking to this guy, pretending to go along with him, and looks away from her, focused solely on the path ahead. She even mutters, "Traitor. I knew my mom shouldn't have trusted you." just loud enough to be heard.
Which is so obviously and totally unlike Suzu and so conflicts with how she has spoken of Rinoko before that if it fools anyone at all, it will at least probably not fool the Rankoro. She knows perfectly well how her mother feels about Rinoko now. And she admires and respects Rinoko as well. She wouldn't be alive if not for her.
And yet, she's that gentle of a soul, that even performing in such an obviously fake way hurts her when she thinks it might actually hurt Rinoko to hear her say such things. Sigh. She just cares too much.
Aru, again, is confronted by someone who seems to think she's going to stop just because he stands in her way. Last time, she caught him by surprise. Will it work this time too? She doesn't know. She isn't even sure how skilled this guy is yet. But the fact he's still trying to get her to hand over the letter instead of just taking it from her says either he's skilled enough to be confident he doesn't need to use violence, or too weak to do so. Either way, he's avoiding fighting her, and her destination is clearly in view! So… Once again, as he stands in her way, she just keeps running, and if anything, speeds up.
This time she aims for his solr plexus with a pair of attacks, trying to drive him backwards, and then leap over him, handspring off his shoulders, and then aim another Juuken strike at his spine, intending to disable him. Only then does she stop to say, "Sorry, but this letter is for Akimichi Noab. I can not give it to you. Nor would I. Stop following me, or I will report you to the police for stalking little girls."
What good fortune! The intended recipient of the letter comes marching out from the Akimichi village right on cue. Just in time to see there's some sort of altercation going on. "What in th'name of hundred-year hardtack is this about!?" he barks. "If I find out somebody decided sparring in the streets is what all the cool kids are doing, there'll be a lot of mighty shiny latrines about the village!" >[
Psycho goon manages to dart aside to avoid the jet of smoke that washes over the wall he was just up against, only to move directly into the path of Nonon's hands as they come down on either side of his face and blast his eyes with light. "Aaaarrgh!" he yells, blinded, right as he then gets electrocuted something fierce. The water bullet pierces his chest after that, making him stagger and nearly fall to one knee. He is in pretty poor condition right now, but it seems his hook attack had an effect.
Because it carves into Ken's shoulder, drawing blood in a red spray, and sending torn fabric flying! The room is clearing of smoke but it seems there's another eruption of it suddenly… Because… Wait. There's a new figure in the room. Or rather, the same figure that was already there, but with very different body shape to the blocky male form that has been fighting all this time.
Tsugumi, who was henged into her husband, is there, holding a hand to her wound. Since the jig is up anyway, she decides it's time to put a stop to this. Her Sharingan pulses red as the enemy looks on in shock, trying to stun him by making eye contact and placing him under a Genjutsu.
"Nonon, find Moroi. Make sure he hasn't gone anywhere in the confusion. This has gone on long enough." she instructs tersely, the mix of pain and battle tension throwing her senses in disarray.
Meanwhile, as Rinoko attempts to fool the traitor-ANBU into believing that she's willing to cooperate, to spill the beans about her team mates if she must, or plea bargain her way out of this mess, there's a sudden halt to the procession called, right with the Village gates in view. More ANBU who show up, and one of them announces, "We'll be taking over from here."
It may not be clear at first what's going on, but as fox-lady seems confused and asks, "On whose orders? We're operating on the Hokage's." the fact that bird-mask guy seems to be slipping behind the group, away from Rinoko, near-silently, is probably an indication that something is about to happen.
"We are also operating on the Hokage's orders," the new ANBU leader replies. "We'll escort them the rest of the way. Go report at Intel Division on what has happened. That is all."
Fox-lady isn't having any of it, however. She starts to raw a straight-blade from her lower back, as she says, "Something has been off about this entire mission. And your appearance here has just confirmed it. Whether these are traitors or not, we WILL complete our mission. And by the way…" She whips the blade around in front of herself. "Not a single one of you are real ANBU."
With a single hand seal, the ropes biding Suzu, Rinoko, and the two Paper Clones fall away, apparently having been rigged so that they can be removed instantly with a special technique known only to ANBU.
The other two ANBU, not counting bird-mask man, also draw weapons in preparation to fight. It seems the situation has just turned in Team 13's favor—
Then a dog-masked man gets stabbed through the back. He cries out in pain, as blood pours from his wound. Angry Bird is holding the sword.
"You—!" a snake-masked ANBU who was part of the first group calls out as he draws his sword and enters into a chase and clash with Angry Bird. Well… That removes some of the ex-captives' back-up, unfortunately.
This is still a bad situation to be in after all.
Meanwhile, Straw Hat ninja gets nailed by one of the blows from Aru, feeling his Chakra disrupted and the pain of the impact, but managing to dodge aside from the two other attacks. He also turns with blade drawn about to slash at Aru, when suddenly Noab appears! The blade is quickly, smoothly slid back up into his sleeve as he calls out, "This girl is delivering messages for a traitorous faction led by her team leader, Uchiha Tsugumi! It contains confidential information that I need to confiscate! If you accept it, it could implicate you in these actions. However…" He lowers his head and his hat with his freehand, as he says, "If you assist me, I am certain no suspicion will fall upon you." It's a bluff and a pretty weak threat, especially from someone who hasn't even identified himself.
Oops. Well, there goes the plan of covering for Team 13's real location and membership. She's concerned about Tsugumi's injury, of course, but that's a tough mom right there. So she does as she instructed, attempting to locate Moroi and then try to pin him or restrain him somehow. She's fast enough in this state that no normal human should have any chance of dodging or avoiding her. She seems to just blur everywhere she goes, even the disturbance of air currents coming a couple second AFTER she has already relocated.
"Moroi-san, if you don't want to get seriously, hurt, I recommend doing exactly as you're told to~!" she lilts as she attempts to strike just to the side of his head to make it clear she means business.
She'll just have to hope the psycho was taken down with Genjutsu, because she's now occupied with keeping this advisor from going anywhere.
Well, that was short-lived…. As the guy moves to the back of the group, Rinoko glances around. And then there are more ANBU. The librarian gulps a bit and glances between all the supposed ANBU. Only ONE of the entire group is real? That spells quite a bit of trouble, depending on their level of skill… And the situation continues to get more and more violent.
Whatever the case, it seems they have revealed the fake ANBU to the real ones. She looks over to Suzu and gives a nod before stepping to be back to bback with the Fox lady. Shifting a set of handseals, she sends a pair of pieces of paper literally off her clothes, from being part of them, to fly out at a couple of the fake ANBU and create jolts of electricity to try and trap them.
Suzu is a bit spun around by all this. Wait… If these NEW guys are coming to interrupt them, then that means… They don't intend to allow Rinoko or Suzu to reach the Hokage. They'll probably be killed as soon as they're somewhere isolated. But to be making such open, brazen usage of fake or traitorous ANBU… Either this Moroi guy is getting really arrogant about just how much influence he has (or imagines he has), or he's entering his end game. In the latter case… It could mean the Hokage himself is in danger!
…Actually, she should probably stop leaping to conclusions and focus on the people she KNOWS are in danger. Namely, her and Rinoko, right now. The real ANBU, fox-lady, dog-face, and snake-face are all getting ready to defend them, though she imnagines there's some confusion about what's really going on. Suzu's face still hurts from that blow she took, but her Sharingan continues to burn. Unfortunately, she can't see behind herself, so she can't see the attack on dog-face coming. And snake-face takes off after bird-face. Darn it!
Suzu doesn't know how strong these Paper Clones are, but she hopes they can serve as adequate back-up. Fakes or not, these guys are armed with ANBU gear and are probably dangerous. They can't die here, and they can't allow themselves to be captured again.
As Rinoko tries to stun the ANBU, Suzu acts as well, rapidly forming hand seals and then breathing out a huge ball of flame that attempts to engulf the entire area in front of her, and all the fake ANBU, in roaring flames!
Aru is honestly pretty worn out from all that running. She doesn't have the greatest stamina in the world. So now, breathing hard, her opponent STILL not disabled and apparently willing to use open violence against her, she is glad to hear someone show up to help her. She HOPES they'll help her anyway. She doesn't know how convincing or not-convicing that story of her attacker's is, nor what kind of person Noab is, except one that Tsugumi told her should be given a letter. Presumably that means he's trustworthy.
She says, "I am Hyuga Aru. All I know is I'm supposed to deliver a message to you. What this man is saying all sounds like the ramblings of a mad man to me." She points dramatically at him, her Byakugan showing her his Chakra Network, and what impact she had on it. Minimal. "This man and another tried to block in me and my sister in an alleyway on the way here. He hasn't identified himself, his purpose, and has just been chasing me and trying to get my letter without explanation. I advise caution in accepting his words at face-value, Noab-sama!"
Noab blinks. Then he shoots a super-sized arm out to make a grab for mugiwara-san. "Wrong move, grunt. If you don't have a convincing bluff prepared ahead of time, RETREAT." >P Noab holds his other hand out toward Aru. "Let's see this intel, then."
Psycho Goon forgets the advice he was given at the start, as he is startled by the sudden change in appearance of his opponent. Then his body goes weak and limp, and he falls to the floor, unable to continue fighting. The power of the Sharingan is formidable indeed. And he underestimated it, AND his other opponent, all while overestimating his own abilities. He was quite skilled. But not skilled enough.
Moroi fails to evade the attack, he rushed and slammed up against the wall as he tries to sneak out of the office. When he sees Tsugumi appear, he is at first shocked. Then, soon enough, even as Nonon threatens him, begins to chortle. And then laugh. Soon he's in full maniacal villain laughter. Then he grins as he glares into Nonon's eyes. "If SHE'S here, then you're already too late. You'll never get to him in time." Then smoke erupts from Moroi as well! As he escaping somehow!?
When the smoke clears, the man Nonon restrained is right where he was last. But he's no longer Moroi. He's a stand-in. The Bomber who was captured outside Konohagakure and who in turn got freed from the intel division by the infiltrator in a coma in the hospital. He's scarred all over, but now at least one mystery is explained. His entry and exit from the Hidden Leaf wasn't detected because he was brought in as a prisoner… And he never left.
"The real Moroi is already on his way to a meeting! You won't stop him before he takes out the only person with proof of what he's been up to… The person who is presently about to meet with his wife… To deliver it!" He grins as he plants one hand against the wall behind him. And then he yells out, "Explosion Release…"
The rest is lost in the deafening eruption of sound, smoke, and flame that follows. Nonon might be fast enough to get away in time, or she might not. But it's clear what's going on now. Moroi has gone to meet Ken, disguised as Tsugumi, to receive the very evidence against him!
Rinoko's lighting seal tags come flying from nowhere, with no indication of them being prepared, thanks to that fancy jutsu of hers. They paralyze two of the fake ANBU, while Suzu's fire ball immolates them. The two who weren't stunned fail to dodge despite their best attempts, showing either that Suzu is a lot better than they thought or that they're not truly ANBU level… Or maybe both. Fox-lady zips in, slashing one man with her blade, and then hurling a kunai towards the other. Even though the kunai seemingly misses, the man it was thrown towards can't seem to move. And in the light of the flames that Suzu has cast all over the forest, it is shown why.
Fox-lady has impaled the man's shadow. A shadow that has been linked to the shadows of the two men that Rinoko paralyzed, by the flames. The other one, the leader of this fake group, has been run through with the blade, and his own shadow is gradually creeping its way upwards to his throat to strangle him. She looks back towards Rinoko, Suzu, and the clones, and calls out, "Go! Warn the Hokage! I'll make sure these ones don't follow you, and try to get some answers!"
Angry Bird and snake-mask are still off somewhere, with dog-mask injured or dead on the ground. Fox-lady says, "It can't be helped. If you can take him with you, do so. But notifying the Village takes greater priority than our individual lives. Now MOVE!"
Straw Hat guy is about to give a retort of some kind to Aru's accusations, but then a GIANT HAND comes zipping forth to grab him and nearly crush him in a powerful grip! He can't do anything in a situation like this! He was assigned to handle the two Genin because that was a task tailored to his skill level! "Y-you'll regret this! You could have… Benefitted… From being our ally!" he grunts out. Who 'we' is and what he's babbling about now probably don't matter terribly in the face of whatever's on that letter. If it was enough for people like this to try to steal it in broad daylight WITHIN the Village… It has to be important!
…Curse this Moroi guy. Always one step ahead! He actually had someone impersonating him in his office while he was out impersonatin Tsugumi, just incase someone came to see them! She'd thought this guy was incompetent to have been linked to all these covert and blatant acts, given how showy he was being, but maybe that was just arrogance born of actual genius and planning ability. Still not a good trait, but he still managed to fool them all regardless.
When the faker reveals himself to be someone Nonon has never seen before, she has no idea what's coming, or what kind of jutsu she's about to have to deal with. But her mind and body are BOTH accelerated by her jutsu, and so as she notices his hand pressing to the wall, her eyes tracking downwards towards it, she is already drawing a hand back in preparation to strike. But when she hears his words, distorted by being almost in slow-motion to her awareness, 'Ex… Plo… Sion… Re… Lease…' she is GONE. Out of there. She zips backwards, and out into the hall, thinking Tsugumi could take care of herself as well.
But it appears she was wrong, as one of her team leaders is still in the room when the explosion goes off. "Tsugumi-sensei!" she yells out. She has no idea why people haven't come to investigate the sounds of combat yet. They're IN the Hokage Administration Dome! Shouldn't someone have noticed by now!? Maybe this explosion will wake some people up.
But right now, her bigger concern is on Tsugumi and her well-being. The news about the real Uchiha Ken is frightening and worrisome, but it has to wait until she knows whether Team 13's den-mother is okay or not.
Nice teamwork on the part of Suzu and Rinoko. That's a swift death for the fake ANBU. Rinoko nods to the Fox-lady then turns to take off along with the two Paper Clones toward Konoha. Normally she'd completely drop the pretenses at this point, but maintaining it until they reach they Hokage could be vital to making sure things end as they should. She runs with all her might toward the Administration Dome. Admittedly, she's still probably a lot slower than Suzu can run at full speed, but she's trying hard!
So the ANBU lady helping them is a Nara? That would explain the shadow-stabbing powers she is displaying. Her request to bring the injured ANBU guy with them, even though he was one of those who bound her hands and was escorting her to ambiguous doom only a few minutes ago, tugs at her heartstrings. She understands the urgency of the situation, but she can't just leave him there. So she carefully raised him up onto her shoulders, acutely aware that he has a hole through his torso via the feeling of his hot blood leaking all over her back. Then she runs towards the Village, through the gates. If they run into any Leaf shinobi coming out to investigate the eruption of flame so close to the Village, she'll try to hand the man off to them, saying, "This man was injured defending us from men impersonating ANBU! An ANBU leader is presently keeping four of them pinned down with Shadow Release, but I can't say how long she'll last. Please send people to help her right away!"
That gives Rinoko time to get ahead of her while she's wrapping up all of the responsibilities her conscience demands of her, and then she rushes to catch up to the more senior kunoichi, right as an explosion echoes throughout the Hidden Leaf… The plume of smoke and flame rising from the Hokage Administration Dome can be seen from here.
Are they too late? Has it already begun? She doesn't know. But with her back covered in blood, her face bruised, her heart in her throat as she worries about her mom, her dad, Nonon, Aru, Reime… The Hokage and the Village… She pushes herself to get there in time.
And as she runs, a third tomoe appears in her right eye.
Aru is glad that a mere Genin, an inexperience girl like herself, has been believed by someone so much her senior, so much more experienced. Of course the bluff had been a really bad one. But she doubted he word was very meaninfgul to a Clan Head of the Akimichi. Noab isn't even a Hyuga. Why should he trust her over some dude in a hat?
Her word hadn't meant much to her parents. But she sees now while Tsugumi trusted him. He exudes an aura of someone she feels she can rely on, and has the power to back it up. She doesn't know what's on the letter, specifically so that if she's captured and interrogated, she can't reveal it. So she simply holds up the message as she backs up towards Noab, using her Byakugan to navigate towards him while keeping her eyes on Straw Hat von Scumface as he makes idle threats.
When Noab accepts and reads the letter, what it has on it is…!
…A cartoonish drawing of him, enormously overweight, with the words, 'u r fat' alongside the illustration! …It even has flies and stink lines!
…But a few seconds later, the surface of the paper seems to dissolve, the insulting imagery and words burning away, and revealing a hidden message that was hidden underneath through some sort of sealing technique. It details exactly what's going on, succinctly but clearly. The Bombers, their membership being made up of ninja from all over, their plans to help an advisor close to the Hokage overthrow Senju Daisuke by weakening the Village, the known conspirators, times and dates of meetings, who can corroborate these claims, the location of evidence planted all over the Village, and a jutsu that when activated will cause all of this evidence to deliver itself if the signal is given…
More and more information appears as the surface of the paper is destroyed, until the entire outline of what has been going on, and Team 13's role in it, is exposed.
Aru says, "I wasn't told what's on that letter, Noab-sama." She isn't looking back towards him, instead keeping her awareness out for signs of the bad guy's companion, or of any sneaky jutsu being prepared. "But Uchiha Tsugumi believed you would do the right thing with whatever's on it. So, Noab-sama…" She finally turns her head to look at him, the veins on the sides of her face still bulging as they flow with Chakra. "…What are your orders?"
And just then, there's the echo of an explosion somewhere in the Village. Aru looks in the direction of a plume of smoke rising up towards the sky to the north. The Hokage Administration Dome is to the north. And that's where the REAL sugumi was headed. It doesn't take a genius to piece it together. She swallows hard, as fear creeps up her spine.
Noab quirks an eyebrow at the drawing. What kinda…oh, obfuscation, of course. Noab squints and tilts the paper about as the true message reveals itself, trying to read it as quickly as possible. Blast this old eye. =.U Doesn't help that it's about some takeover plot, Noab's never been much for intrigue, as much as he's capable at tactical deception. Hrmhrm Bombers, yhdhyhdh advisor, smnsmn overthrow the Hokage…well that doesn't sound like a periwinkle picnic. :P Hmm, how to deal with it though, it probably won't stay under wraps for long now that there's been at least one direct confrontation between —
…Well, at least that decides the issue. e.U Noab activates the seal on the letter for revealing all the other evidence. "Regroup with your team and notify anyone you can about the situation," Noab says, stuffing the letter into his vest and pulling out a signature stamp to hand to Aru. "Show 'em this and tell 'em it holds a jounin's weight. I'll mobilize the troops." Noab drags the straw-topped one back toward the Akimichi village while bellowing at the top of his lungs. "'TEEEEEEN-SHUN!!! EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAM, FRONT AAAAAAAAAN' CENTER!!!"