Date: April 22, 2016
A village is nearly destroyed by Toujitakumi rogues, and make an escape! It's up to Rinoko's squad and Suzu to track them down!
"Fire Starters - Riverside Rumble"
Land of Fire
A small village in the Land of Fire has suffered an attack by those terrorist bombers! The've already caused lots of destruction, deaths, and injuries, and seemingly gotten away with both that and a prisoner… The daughter of the village's headsman! And all before the Konoha shinobi even knew about the incident. Now they've been called upon to track down the bad guys, when the trail might already be cold…
Ordinarily, at least. Because, unlike Leaf ninja, the bad guys in this case don't have the same familiarity with the environment, and they are attempting to escape on a hijacked river boat. The owner of said boat managed to survive by hiding when his boat was stolen, and has now reported it to the pursuing kunoichi who have shown up, consisting of Rankoro Rinoko, Namikaze Nonon, Hyuga Aru, and Uchiha Suzu.
The enemy ninja might have been able to just Water Walk across the river and try to escape that way, but perhaps they thought they'd be less likely to be tracked or identified if they were on a boat, or maybe they couldn't carry the prisoner the whole way… It's unknown right now.
But the layout of the rivers, the twists and turns, and where the various channels go, are all information readily available to Leaf ninja, either upon request or via experience. So with all these trackers, it shouldn't be hard to chase them down. Except… Being in a mechanical boat that doesn't tire the way human beings do, if they don't hurry, they might not be able to catch up before the bad guys get so far away that river or no river, they slip away!
Suzu is beyond grousing about tracking missions. She has accepted at this point that there will always be tracking missions. So. Many. Tracking. Missions.
She is determined, as a representative of Team 13A, to support Team 13B however she can, whether that's providing details on the rivers from when Team 13 (minus Rinoko) scouted the Land of Fire a couple weeks ago, or just lending firepower to the others. The sun is in the sky, but on its way downwards from the apex of its arc. Reduced lighting could be good or bad for them, depending on many factors. But again, time is not on their side.
"Should we try to cut them off by going cross-country or just follow the river paths?" Suzu asks before looking to Aru. "Aru can't walk on water yet, I don't think, and even if we take turns carrying her, that could be an additional hit to how much ground we cover."
Oh, one other thing. Suzu is REALLY starting to dislike the Toujitakumi Clan for all the pain and hardships they keep bringing. She would actually kind of like to hit them a lot.
"Considering Aru's not ready to go across water on her own, and that could be a problem that presents itself in battle on a riverside, I suggest we cut the off," Rinoko points out as she looks to Aru then back to Suzu, lending her thoughts on the matter as she jots a few notes on in a book then stashes it away in her coat.
Rinoko is a bit less quick to show prejudice against a clan for the actions of some, but then again she is of a clan that is strange to Konohagakure, so being suspicious of a Toujitakumi automatically would mean she'd expect people to be just as suspicious of her. "If we can cut them off and keep them away from the village, that would help us to keep civilian casualties to a minimum too." Offering more help. It seems she's starting to settle into her position… slowly.
Nonon is prone to finding good things in everyone. Even enemies. That doesn't mean she won't carry out her duty, nor would she allow something she likes about someone to compromise her loyalty to the Hidden Leaf, but even those who hurt her and her allies, she can usually find some quality that, if not redeeming, at least is something she likes about them.
These rogue Toujitakumi, she has yet to actually face. But from the sound of it, they've been causing a lot of trouble. Their skill at guerilla warfare is admirable. But they may have made a mistake this time. The boat is good for saving strength while putting distance between themselves and pursuers, but it's also a lot easier to spot. They also didn't kill everyone in the village before escaping with their prisoner, leaving lots of witnesses.
It's almost too clumsy for what she's come to expect based on reports, to be honest. Could it be a decoy…? It's too early to say. But as she checks her gear while the team leader discusses things, she does at least say, "We should be wary. If they're still on the boat when they find them, they're probably as aware as we are of how exposed they'll be. They'll probably have look-outs at the very least, and be ready to act if they detect us. That said, I suppose we should start going through the forest! Thankfully Aru-san can runs through the trees with the rest of us now, so that should also help save some time, rather than trying to navigate paths and terrain."
She then bends down to touch her toes, stretching out, and geting ready to run and leap, before straightening up. "I'm ready, Rinoko-san~!"
This seems like a pretty high-stakes mission. However, though she still has uncertainty about many things, Hyuga Aru feels confident about this group. Sure, their ability to work together has yet to be seriously tested, but even the barbs from Nonon have been toned down and rolled back. She even received a little bit of a mild acknowledgement of her efforts, right after Suzu made her feel like she wasn't up to snuff! But she knows Suzu is nice, and didn't mean it that way. So with that, plus Rinoko being willing to accomodate her not having the same degree of Chakra control as the others, plus Nonon pointing out she can at least tree walk now…
Yes. Yes, she thinks she can be useful here. She activates her Byakugan in advance, without needing to be told to. "Byakugan!" Then she looks around, scanning the area, and says, "I'm ready as well. I'll hopefully spot them before our group is within visual range of them, and even if there are obstructions."
Hey, see how many times it takes for YOU to nearly get blown up before you start getting tired of people who make things explode! Suzu nods then and says, "Okay! I'll follow your lead then, Rinoko-sensei!" Once the group gets under way, they should make relatively good time by leaping through the trees, from branch to branch. There may be time to talk, to plan, or to prepare any jutsu they may need, but they're largely relying on knowing the geography and the water ways, together with Aru's vision, to locate the Toujitakumi attackers and do so without being noticed.
It takes awhile. A couple hours, infact. They might need to stop for water breaks and checking any maps they have as they eliminate one choice after another as to which way the enemy likely went. Eventually, the sight of smoke in the sky and the sound of an engine working will lead them to the right place.
And with Aru's Byakugan, they should be able to determine the condition of the boat before they even see it. A few people on deck, one in the wheelhouse… No sign of the headsman's daughter, but she could be inside somewhere. As it is, however, it looks like four enemies. One for each of them. How convenient!
Suzu pauses on a tree branch, still out of line of sight of the boat, and waits to hear what the situation is, as she asks, "How should we do this? Can anyone here use Water Ninjutsu strong enough to wash the boat ashore? Or, um… Maybe Earth Style to strand it in the middle of the river, with mud or raising the river bottom or something?"
She's trying to show some planning ability here, but compared to the girls of Team 13B, she isn't quite as smart.
Rinoko nods to Suzu, a bit relieved to be able to lead because frankly she couldn't keep up with that girl if they were running at full speed. This shouldn't be a problem once she masters some better ninjutsu, but it still will be for now! As they arrive, she examines the situation and frowns slightly. A lot of her jutsu lean toward a bit destructive for this. She wishes she'd already started on her Water Seals or did more with her Earth Seals, but maybe the one she knows can help. "My best earth jutsu can pull someone's body into the ground… I could probably lock up their rudder in one direction and make it stop or ground itself."
Nonon moves along with the others, up until they reach their destination. Unfortunately, her arsenal is also somewhat lacking presently. She's far more useful in close combat. She has a technique that could be used to blind someone, but she can only direct it at a single target. She listens to the others while trying to keep an ear out for the sound of the boat and estimate its speed and course based on that. "If you can interfere with their rudder, I can attempt to take out whoever is piloting the boat. I'll need as many of them as possible to be distracted for at least a few seconds."
She then looks around to the others. "After that, I'll need support. Ultimately, while taking out the enemy is important, getting the prisoner off the boat is also a major priority. If I can get her back here, then you all would be free to bombard them with everything you have."
She looks to Rinoko to see what she thinks.
Aru does indeed spot the location of each individual on the boat, though she must strain to do so. "I… Only see four people. Three on the deck, one at the wheelhouse. None of them appear to be bound, and the only female is armed and standing alongside the others. The kidnap victim may be below decks. I can't see through that much right now…" She closes her eyes, the strain becoming too much. "Haa… haa… I need to be closer to check more thoroughly, but I don't see anywhere else she could be."
"Ah…" Suzu says, trying to keep th disappointment out of her voice. She can throw shuriken and shoot fire, neither of which is useful right now. Rinoko's options are limited as well. But clogging up their engines or snaring the rudder seems like a good idea! And Nonon adds to that! "Yeah… Yeah, okay! If Rinoko-sensei thinks that's valid, I'll be ready to provide ranged bombardment and support." If Nonon just focuses on getting the prisoner and getting out, they might have a chance of just blowing the boat up afterwards.
Though there's the matter of Aru… And… "…I could also carry Aru on my back to get her closer. Sending Nonon down there without knowing for sure what's waiting for her… She could run in there only to find a whole crowd of bad guys."
They still need Rinoko's go-ahead, but it seems a plan is forming.
Though somethin about this whole set-up is setting off warning bells in her head. She can't put her finger on it, but…
Well, Rinoko's job is pretty simple for her. "Okay, I'll slow them down. You all carry on quickly to be sure the girl doesn't get hurt," she says with a nod before she pulls a piece of paper with a seal on it from her vest and slaps it on the ground. The paper glows and sends chakra along the ground, which in turn turns the clay beneath the boat against it to lock up its rudder and try to push it ashore so they can't make any progress along the river.
Once Nonon gets permission to proceede, she waits until Rinoko uses her seal, then crouches down on the branch she's on… And when she leaps she flickers out of existence, having used her Body Flicker to vault high into the air with superhuman speed, flying at an angle she has precisely calculated via physics and math (the ultimate in ninja warfare), based on the sound of the boat itself up until now, as well as when it comes to a stop thanks to the mud forcing it ashore.
Her descent carries her towards the cabin, and she puts her arms flat at her sides and her legs out straight to reduce her profile and make her more aerodynamic. Then, at high speed, she goes shooting into the compartment with the man at the wheel, rolls to a stop, and is immediately on the move again, using her unusual instant-speed power to try to clobber him in the throat with her fist before he can call out or act.
Hopefully the guy driving this thing isn't some kind of super ninja who can kill her in a heartbeat, because she wants to move from here immediately to the door leading below decks. Though hopefully through hand signals Suzu can tell her what Aru sees down there so she isn't caught by surprise.
Aru agrees with that. She can't do much at range anyway. So once the boat is forced ashore, and Nonon makes her move while the people on the deck are all looking around for some kind of attacker, she latches onto Suzu's back like a baby monkey and allows herself to be carried closer. Whether by speed or stealth, they will likely have to get beyond the forst, and out into the open for Aru to be certain of what's inside the boat. And what she sees is… Nothing. No people, no bodies, nothing.
She tries to inform Suzu in time, to whisper in her ear, "There's nobody down there!" and just hope that the Uchiha girl can pass it along to Nonon in time to make a difference.
The pilot of the boat is no scrub, and his attempts to get the vessel back on course after the crash that has everyone looking around for danger and causations are abandoned the moment he hears the slight thump behind him. He draws a sword from his side and tries to slash at Nonon with it, but she is simply too fast, and there's a bleeding hole in his throat where there should be skin after her super-fast fist is withdrawn. He slumps to the floor, asphyxiating and drowning in his own blood at the same time.
While this is going on, Suzu has Aru on her back and is trying to get closer by running across the water towards the 'blind' side of the boat, where Nonon is, but what she hears lets her put some of it together. Unfortunately, it comes a bit too late. As she's shaking her head vigorously and mouthing 'no' towards Nonon (or 'iie', rather, so as not to confuse Nonon and make her think Suzu is saying her name over and over), the female ninja on ship's deck suddenly comes barreling out of nowhere and elbows Suzu in the face HARD.
Blood flies from the kunoichi's face as she is hurled backwards, losing her grip on Aru, and eventually slamming into a tree over on the shore.
"It all went according to plan after all," one of the men on the deck says as he pulls out a bag of metal spheres that he begin spinning fancily between his fingers on one hand. "You were right. Leaving that old man alive would get some idiots to follow after us."
He hurls the spheres towards the forest and any cover that Rinoko might potentially use. Wherever they land they explode violently in a huge way. Their intent is probably to flush out any ninja in hiding or kill anyone too slow to escape. After all, he doesn't know how many allies they've brought.
The last remaining ninja, some blue-haired pretty boy with hair hanging in his face looks towards the wheelhouse though and says, "It's too bad about Jitai. I don't sense his Chakra anymore, but there's another in there I don't recognize." He draws a kunai and says, "I'll take care of it."
This has gone south very quickly.
And it seems it was all a trap.
Having stayed back as she attacked the boat, Rinoko is able to see the attack coming from afar. Quickly she makes a handseal, which causes a leaflet of paper to fly from her vest, activating to throw up a wall of chakra that keeps her protected from the blast. Out of the smoke, though, comes an attack in return that, if it lands, one might definitely say is just a bit brutal.
Out of the smoke of the blast colliding with the chakra wall, a pair of paper shuriken fly toward the man in succession at the man that attacked her, yet neither are required to strike. The first one sends forth an array of lightning binds meant to lock the man up by shocking and binding him in time for the second one to get there, this one even less nice as it bursts into a powerful jet of flame like someone put a lot more power and less accuracy behind a Great Fireball Technique with intent to just blast someone out of their socks… Never mess with the shy ones.
Well, this has not gone at all according to plan. Nonon has killed before, so she doesn't flinch from the gruesome spectacle. She sees the attempt by Suzu to warn her, and then watches as the enemy kunoichi zips forth and nails Suzu in the face with a powerful elbow strike. As one man proclaims his intent to come kill her, Nonon is leaving the wheel house at high speed. She wasn't just sitting there that whole time while the dramatic reveal was going on. She was forming hand seals. And a blinding flash of light produced by Lightning Released is aimed at Pretty Boy-san to try to stall his attempts to come after her even as Nonon vanishes once more, trying to latch onto Evil Elbow Lady from behind and press her kunai to the older woman's throat. "Call off your goons or you die," she says cheerfully, if coldly. She's smiling, but it's a very tight and unhappy smile. "I suppose there never was a headsman's daughter, hm? Was the old man threatened into telling us that story, or was he complicit in this plan of yours?"
She can't do much for Suzu or Aru right now except hopefully end the fighting.
Aru can't do much. She sees the incoming enemy, but she doesn't have the reaction time to do anything else. She can't even warn Suzu. That woman is FAST, and apparently STRONG. Aru gets dumped in the river when Suzu is sent flying, and Aru can't do much but flail around below the surface of the water for awhile. Can… Can she even swim?
…As a matter of fact, she can, though she usually doesn't go swimming against river currents, and she has all the physical strength of a normal teenage girl. But she's staying under for another reason beyond the fact she's struggling against the current.
Because there's an enemy up there still. And she has very few things she can do to help if people remember the weak Hyuga girl exists.
The Pretty Boy-san guy is blinded by the Lightning Release, despite trying to shield his eyes. It seems he's a sensor-nin, but his range might be limited if he didn't pick up that Konoha ninja were nearby until they got this close. Moving out of his range while he's blinded thus might be a really good move on Nonon's part. "Curse you!" he yells out as he starts forming hand seals of his own for some unknown jutsu.
The man on the deck with the explosive spheres is not expecting to be electrocuted and then blasted with flames. He's used to dealing with explosions. He has scars all over his face to prove it. But when the smoke clears, it's evident that getting caught in some of his own explosions doesn't render him immune to fire. He looks pretty charred. And yet… Still standing.
"You little…!" he begins as he starts to throw a metal sphere at Rinoko, but he pauses when the woman who has yet to speak finally does do.
"That's enough, Toguro." The woman says. It seems as though Nonon has a knife to her throat as she stands there on the waves. Toguro's surprised look fades away after a moment, as he seems to gain control of himself. But he doesn't look concerned. Why is that?
"You figured it out a bit late, but you did figure it out. However, your theory is a little off." the woman replies calmly to Nonon with a kunai at her throat. Right up until a sword stabs out through her belly, apparently having been stabbed clear through Nonon. Only for the one that Nonon is restraining to fade out of existence, and be replaced by the same stoic-faced woman standing directly behind Nonon, holding the sword.
"I just used Genjutsu to make him think there was a headman's daughter in the first place." the older kunoichi says smugly. Then, to her companions, "Leave the Uchiha and the paper-thrower alive. I want the first one's eyes, and I want to interrogate the second."