Date: August 25, 2012
A pair of Suna nin are sent to track down and deal with a mentally unstable arsonist.
A small town in the Land of Wind
C- or B-rank: An escape attempt by criminally insane patients at Garatsuku Asylum was largely thwarted by the fortunate presence of Sunagakure shinobi, but a few inmates did manage to slip out in the confusion. These escapees must be tracked down and recaptured, or if necessary, terminated. Their disorders (and associated level of danger) run from kleptomania to cannibalism.
While the inmate escape at Garatsuku Asylum was not nearly as successful as most of those taking part had planned, a few patients did get out and disperse across the countryside. Naturally, these were the criminally insane ones, who wanted — NEEDED — to get out of there in order to resume their destructive habits. Recapturing these individuals is a fairly high priority for the Land of Wind's peace-keeping forces, since unlike most criminals, they are motivated almost solely by their psychoses and are unlikely to be checked by the usual fear of consequences if caught. This does mean they could be sloppy and easily found when they do act, but in the meantime, people suffer.
This is precisely what has happened in a small town not too far from the asylum. 'Firebug' Houka made his presence known by incinerating several buildings, then vanished into hiding (ninja, naturally). The response from Sunagakure was swift, sending a pair of very competent shinobi to track down and deal with the escapee. As for how they're to go about it, well…the burnt buildings still sending up thin plumes of smoke would probably be a good place to start the investigation.
Kuoroke had several reasons to want to capture these people, one of them being that he felt responsible for letting at least these people escape, and part because the fact they had been kept somewhere to escape -from- in the first place irritated him. As one of the two members of the investigation, he was quite eager to make some headway. so on their way here, he had moved very quickly, and now, still catching his breath from what was a rather prolonged series or running and scating, began his examination, firstly by trying to find out what parts were less burnt and what parts more, and in what sequence the damage was done, to retrace at least a basic image of where the fire started and how it spread.
It had been a while since Keiji had worked with Kuoroke. Okay, the two had never actually worked together on a mission, but he had interacted with the drill instructor on several occassions in the training fields and a few outside them. The young Chuunin knew exactly what was expected of him. It came as no surprise when Kuoroke moved as quickly as he did. Keiji in return did his best to keep the pace as not to be viewed as hinderance.
Once in the village the boy's dark pupils glance around at the locals. He had never met the 'Firebug', but he was sure this was not some genin level shinobi he should take lightly. His eyes then focus across the debris of the former buildings. "I wonder what set him off… I will ask around and see if anyone can give me detailed information of the events leading up to the blazes." Keiji then waits for a moment to see if Kuoroke objects or if he will allow it.
Kuoroke's inspection of the wreckage shows that the fires were most intense at a particular point in each building, just inside of a window, and worked outward from there. This indicates that they were likely started via some ranged fire attack. Forming a triangle with the fire starting points at each corner, there is a tallish building smack in the center. Very likely Houka stood on top of this building and made his attacks from there.
Keiji's social investigation supports this hypothesis. Though nobody who saw the attacks could quite pinpoint where they'd come from (kind of tricky to trace unexpected projectiles overhead), they all agreed it had been fireballs coming from somewhere above.
"Excellent, go right ahead." The Councillor agreed after Keiji suggested a more social approach. After performing his search and finding out, he quickly compared his findings to Keiji's and uttered and continued the search. "Look around to see if anyone saw a person leaving the building, and keep an eye on the exits, in case he's still here. I'll go see if I can find a trace of where he's operating from." With that, the Kuroki moved to the building from which the attacks had taken place, and ran straight up the wall, trying to cut time that would otherwise be spent on using stairs. While running up, he made sure to look at the neighbouring streets, trying to make out if anyone made a break for it after seeing him.
Keiji nodded his head and moved towards the nearest group of people who had gathered to watch them work. After asking them a few questions, Keiji returns to find Kuoroke has moved up the wall of another building. Keiji remained down below on the street. He moved himself at such an angle to be able to see Kuoroke and the next side of the building. This way should their target still remain there, he would not be able to easily escape without somewhat of a fight.
Still up there? Nope, this happened last night, and he didn't stick around too long afterward. Nobody saw anybody suspicious coming out of the building either, but hey, if you were a ninja on top of a building, how likely would you be to escape using mundane pathways? You might try it to throw somebody off the scent, sure, but in a case like this, where nobody was expecting you and you've got the cover of darkness, it makes more sense to just bound away across the rooftops.
Of course, that simple advantage can be crippled if you're a maniac like Houka. Up on the rooftop, Kuoroke finds a trail of scorch-marks leading off the roof, onto the next one, and so on. Apparently Houka couldn't resist spitting his leftover fire chakra here and there as he ran, mildly burning the scenery. It must have been intoxicating for him, finally letting loose after being held with chakra-suppressive constraints for so long. The trail leads across several rooftops before ducking into an alley and ending by a manhole.
Once he sees the trail, Kuoroke stops and whistles, trying to draw Keiji's attention, before pointing to the manhole the scorch marks disappear into, indicating it. Then, his usual distrust takes over, and the Kuroki looks around from his convenient vantage point for the next manhole cover, so that they can go around any traps Houka may have left behind. Having found one, he whistles againd and points to that one, instead, and moves back from the roof of the building and to the wall. Using a weaker version of his tree-walking technique, the Kuroki slides down it, in a crouching position, tips of his fingers touching the wall on either side of his body and his feet pressed firmly against it. Just before the ground, he pushes off and, using his initial moment, runs for manhole, opening it.
Keiji heard the whistle and made his way towards the alley where the manhole cover was. Though he trusted his eyes to be able to spot any type of trap in the darkness, he followed behind Kuoroke to the next cover. The Jounin council member seemed pretty spry in Keiji's opinion. The boy moves to the hole and takes a hard look inside for any traps before dropping down to the ground beneath. He was certain Kuoroke would be right behind him.
Good thinking on Kuoroke's part. Turns out Houka was anticipating being followed. He sits near the manhole Kuoroke chose, looking down the sewer toward the entrance he's expecting pursuit to come from. "Hmhmhm, it's been so long…I wonder what kind of ninja they'll send…the strong ones burn so much brighter…huh?" Houka whips his head around on hearing the manhole behind him being opened. "No! You're supposed to — gah!" >.<; Houka sprints off away from Kuoroke.
Kuoroke grins, noticing the bandit. "Morning." He greets, jumping down the manhole. While dropping, he unfolds a pair of tattoos, shaped a bit like leaves, from his feet, placing them to the bottom of his feet. At the same time, under his billowing cloak, his tattoos brighten partially in anticipation of combat. Once he's landed, Kuoroke engages pursuit.
From the moment Keiji hit the ground, he was after the startled Houka. There is no even a thought about Kuoroke catching up. The boy remains on foot after the insane criminal. His black pupils dart around the sewer looking for possible traps laid in the darkness. So long as he follows the Houka and does not deviate from the path he should be okay, right?
The young Chuunin makes a few hand signs as he runs along. It was a simple earth technique to cause daggers to rise up from the sewer floor ahead of the criminal. He was trying to slow down the maniac. "Firebug Houka, Halt!" he yells. He sincerely doubted that the criminal would do as he asked, but he had to at least give him the chance.
A trap there is indeed, of a type you'd rather expect from a Firebug. Laid out along the ground, with only a corner poking out here and there from under the grime, are many flat sacs. Three guesses what sort of stuff is inside them, and the first two don't count. Actually you don't have to guess, because Keiji's stone dagger technique, while it fails to catch Houka, does puncture several of the sacs, causing a burning chemical smell to be released (as much as it can be differentiated from the general aroma down here). After dancing around the earth spikes, Houka looks back and sees that Kuoroke is gaining on him, and he probably won't be able to reach the other manhole ahead of him. "Nnnngh, fine! We'll ALL burn up together!!!" Houka flies through a series of signs as though his hands never stop making them, then spews a funnel of flame at the ground. The sacs ignite and quickly start spreading an intense blaze through the tunnel, while Houka laughs hysterically in their midst. "YES!!! IT FEELS SO GOOD!!!" XD
If the man desires a firey demise, Kuoroke is ready to oblige. As soon as the fire stars spreading, he shrugs with a malicious grin, reaching into his cloak. Out comes a rolled-up piece of paper, which he hurls past Houka. A quick series of handseals remotely activates the barrier, blocking off a tunnel further away. Of course, the Kuroki is not unconcerned for his own safety, grabbing another piece of such paper and quickly going through another series of handseals, creating a wall on his side, too, containing the fire to its creators.
Keiji stopped in his tracks as he spotted the fire. His hands quickly went to work trying to do one more earth style jutsu before they hit. "Earth Dome Jutsu!" he yells before placing his hand down on the ground and trying to get a wall to come up in time. He was hoping that Kuoroke's attack would not finish the guy off yet. He wanted to get a couple of decent shots in of his own. And that smell…
Kuoroke's seal barriers are hard-pressed to contain the blaze; that's some serious fuel Houka managed to get his hands on! Fortunately, they don't have to do so for long. Precisely because the flames are so intense, and since the barriers created a fairly air-tight area, the available oxygen is quickly depleted. After a moment, the fire dies down, leaving only a sooty blackness in the air. 'Firebug' Houka, while certainly burned almost beyond recognition, is not quite dead from the experience. He sways lightly, choking in the oxygen-less space, reaching out with shaky hands and pawing the air as though trying to find something he'd lost. "No…it was so beautiful…bring it back…" Then the lack of breathable air catches up with his brain, and he passes out. x.x
Whelp, think we all know how Kuoroke would like this to end, and it doesn't involve busting a gut to get this guy any medical attention. X)
Kuoroke crosses his arms and looks at the destroyed body. "Useless fool." he states, checking for a pulse. Whatever the result, he gets up again and tells Keiji, "Let's go, we'll send someone to pick the corpse up… and gather these explosives." With that, he heads towards the exit, on the way picking up those of the bags that are still intact and near enough for him to pick up.
When the flames are finally extinguished, Keiji looks up from behind the half dome of earth. Luckily it seems due to the barriers he had not needed it. There is a slight sigh from behind his mask. He was dissapointed. Kuoroke ended the battle before he even had to do much. "Understood." the boy states as he follows Kuoroke out of the tunnel. "That was quite a technique with the seals…"