Date: March 28, 2015
With the continuation of the Chuunin exams, death, trauma and betrayal find the Aspirants.
Poster's note: foul language filtered in obvious places.
"First Kiri Exams - Visions of Defiance"
The Aspirants are startled out of sleep by a loud explosion and a quake that set the walls humming.
The 27 genin rose out of their cots in the darkness, torchlight bursting in as the door to the makeshift barracks is thrown open by the guard outside. "Everyone evacuate to the arena for roll call now!" he commanded. "Something's happening!"
The doors to the arena slammed open, the guard on the other side of it shouting "EVERYBODY GET OUT OF H-"
Another explosion of sound cut him off as half of the barracks abruptly disappeared, revealing the open night sky, the arena beyond and the giant flaming meteor bouncing across it towards the dam. It continued on, hitting the dam of bone and rushing through it.
In that moment, the Aspirants lost one of the guards and 18 of their peers and competitors. This left only 9 of them, one more guard, half of a burning barracks and… the distant sound of tortured bone.
The dam shattered, releasing a deluge of water to rush towards the Aspirants with hungry, frothing speed.
The earth around them quakes, through the darkness every single sleeping body is abruptly awoken an explosion tears through the walls of the arena itself. The torchlight is almost blinding as it suddenly cuts through the darkness, but not a soul dared to question what was going on. The instantaneous fear was almost palpable.
As the explosion crashed, Yuriko was instantly to her feet and on high alert, an ivory blade formed and drawn in each hand as her bright eyes quickly dart back and forth for a possible intruder. As if being suddenly thrown into another war zone had been expected. As the doors are slammed open, the Kaguya's eyes snap up at him, and amongst the fear already several exam takers were stampeding towards the front doors.
Before she has a chance to move, to react, the doors to the arena slam open as well and the guard yelling from them is almost instantly cut off from another, louder explosion. The ceiling torn away from a jagged night sky exposes the meteor flaming through the sky, straight at the dam. Yuriko can feel her eyes widen, a sharp breath sucked through her teeth. Was this real? Or was this a test?
Taking an instant to gauge if it's truly a genjutsu or not, she doesn't take another moment to waste to wonder on just what needed to be done. Under her bare feet the flesh splits and the bone cuts through muscle, swiftly forming a disc under her feet. While she does this the ivory daggers in Yuriko's hands morph and stretch, forming into long whip-like vines. With a breath the ends of each vine snap out to entangle the living bodies closest to her, pulling them in towards her while the disc forms an edge, molding into a large sphere around those that she'd gathered. "Brace yourself…"
Since "the Summoning", sleep did not come easily, so every precious second counted. Still, Kiyoshi loathed the very idea of resting in the barracks. Far too many applicants were keen on the use of subterfuge or listening to whims of more basic desires. At least, that is how the giant interpeted things, though paranoia played a large in that. While as much was freely admitted internally, never was it to be voiced. And grudgingly, Kiyoshi did grant his body the reprieve it desired…
A very noticeable tickling sensation along his back woke Kiyoshi up good and quick. Instinctively, he kept his eyes half-lidded at first, and tried to figure out the cause through his other senses. Then, there the guards, yelling for aspirants to act when perhaps little over half of which were remotely prepared to act in emergency cases. As fool hardy, or perhaps even worst yet, distracting to others as his choice may be, the Moto opted to retain the ruse until assured that the last applicant had left, or —
"What… in the…" Kiyoshi trails off from there, the disorientation left by the second explosion having bled away to reveal a scene he just… couldn't fully process. Fortunately, seeing movement from his peripheral provided an ample enough distraction for the Kirryu to focus on. Anything was better than really thinking about the whys. Despite realizing upon closer inspection that the aspirant in question was one of the troublesome ones, Kiyoshi still assisted him in rising up before looking towards the others. He sees more corpses than actual comerades stirring, and before long, the option of looking for more is robbed from him by the sound of approaching water. It is not the sight of the approaching wall of liquid death that gives him pause. Oh no, That particular honor was reserved for indecision and known limitations.
Save what few he can?
Trust those that recovered the quickest to act?
Did he dare reveal his secret in order to increase the odds?
Kiji? Where is /Kiji/!?
Question after question after question assaulted him. The only fortunate thing about the whole mess was the fact Kokuo remained wisely quiet. Or perhaps the opposite was true. His downward spiral only halts upon hearing Yuriko movements. With one look, the questions faded into the background. All that remained left was a singular thought; one desperate, half thought of plan. Either in anticipation or due to their bond, Kokuo immediately began supplying Kiyoshi with the necessary chakra until a cloak enveloped Kirryu completely.
'Divided But One' Wherever the thought began it concluded in the others mind. With a single eye alight in a blue-ish glow, Kiyoshi bore down on all fours and dug in deep into the ground with sharpened nails, bracing himself. Kokuo in the meantime exercised his will through the cloak, transforming the tail into multiple arms. Their touch would be painful, but those that were not pulled in by Yuriko or already well on the move to safety would have to endure the lesser of two evils. If given the chance, the beast stuffs what bodies he can into Yuriko's life boat; including the remaining living guard. With only the shared memory of Kiyoshi's view, there was no guarantee of success in assisting the living. Kokuo made no mention of this fact. The beast simply continued to act, until what precious time remained left it no choice but to secure the rest to the haul of the boat, then try hauling them higher yet closer to higher ground. He could hope for no better or worse except that his foolish host wouldn't die from the drowning or crushed.
Both would be… unfortunate.
Everything was happening so swiftly.
There was only one other who'd had the reaction time of Yuriko, a Hozuki Rin launching herself up onto the damaged roof with the intent to get higher and get a better view on the situation. The rest looked around in stunned surprise, some with their eyes on the incoming floodwaters, others looking at the scorched remains of the barracks where many once breathed, and some with eyes clearly focused on the middle distance, seeing but unseeing.
The actions of Yuriko and Kiyoshi pull many from their trances, the incoming 'attacks' setting off training that required they focus and react, many automatically moving to avoid what snares the pair sent towards them. The two genin were swift however, and only two Aspirants and the Guard managed to avoid the reaching bone and chakra, the rest caught up and dragged in.
Yuriko pulled in a pair of her peers, dropping them into her forming cocoon. Kiyoshi managed to grab another pair himself, but only managed to get one — screaming from the pain of the chakra burns — inside of Yuriko's protection before it sealed up completely. The other, he had to tether to its outside, leaving them screaming as well, the smell of their burning flesh tinging the scent of water and flame.
Kiyoshi was successful in grabbing the bone sphere and making it climb the wall, making progress until he exhausted the stores of chakra available for use, his Bijuu cloak vanishing from him. In this moment, the Aspirant tethered to the sphere of bone was released, his screams of pain turning into yells of surprise as he fell towards the ground to land with a stunning thump. And right behind him fell the bone egg filled with four shinobi, landing on and crushing them.
"Confrontation," growled the Chuunin guard vehemently as he landed on scorched earth, now that he was no longer occupied with dodging the Bijuu's burning chakra arms. Knowing that time was short, he simply rushed forward to perform his duty, tripping over the upper half of a body and shouting, "Waterwalking!" He grabbed the collars of the two genin who'd also managed to evade Yuriko and Kiyoshi's grasps.
The tsunami had come. The waters were upon them, shaking the earth underfoot. And so the guard tossed them up into the air with a spinning swing, all of the force he could muster sending them soaring — enough to put them above the looming water wall.
"RIDE THE WA—"
His voice was cut off by the rolling tides that slammed into him, sweeping up the rest of the building and threatening to devour anything else that stood in its way. As the waters came, Hozuki Rin stood atop the crumbling roof, hands coming together in a calm seal. Liquid was her form, water her substance through the gift of her clan and she leaned forward as though to kiss the giant wave like a lover. She vanished within its harsh embrace.
The air inside the diamond-hard ivory cocoon felt tense as Yuriko tried to concentrate, feeling bodies and lifeless husks just beyond. Even before the water had reached them those inside were jostled, falling after with enough force that they were jostled further. Yuriko grits her teeth but through all of this she concentrates her energy, focusing chakra while adding additional layering along the outside of the white seed.
And then all at once, the waters crash into them, sending the cocoon through the current while the dense, bottom-heavy portion struggled to keep them upright. Gritting her teeth the Kaguya girl scowls, and with an effort of will she threads more of the bone on the outside surface into tendrils. Yuriko attempts to create an anchor that's strong enough to keep them from being whisked away like a fallen petal on the river, yet long enough that they can bob on the surface of the torrent.
Teeth are openly gritted at the sound of screaming. He knew contact with the cloak could be bad without being tempered first, but there was no time to do so. No time to think or rethink; only act and hope. Hope lasted in his heart only up until he heard the message.
»Can't… hold it…«
Kiyoshi turned without even meaning to, following the path of the quickly disintegrating chakra. He cannot think. There was no acting. The Moto watched in stunned silence as the egg dropped and crushed two of the aspirants wholly in one fell swoop. All because of the fact he trusted Kokuo, a bijuu, to manage a 'simple' task. It was all because of his own hasty actions. Unthinkingly, Kiyoshi relaxed his grip on the ground, and stood erect, still regarding the accident up until the outcry. The Jinchuuriki turned just in time to have the wall of water slam right into his face, replacing the pain of failure and loss with the physical and disorientation, for a time. An eternity of endless spinning, crashing, breaking, and shattering unless by some golden miracle the currents kept him from the hellish experience.
Hozuki Rin opened her eyes.
She was water — a piece of the deluge, and the deluge a piece of her. It was pure exhilaration, the momentum within her and throughout more breathlessly intense than anything she's ever experienced.
But she had to focus.
As she saw the Ivory egg created by Yuriko roiling in the sweeping tides, the bodies of the guard and Kiyoshi swirling in its depths, the other Aspirants flying overhead to the backdrop of firelight in the sky, she knew she had to act. A brief delay of thought before she rushed towards the guard, the body of a man rushing past.
His head lolled weirdly. His arm slipped away from the rest of him like a frightened fish.
She quickly changed directions. He was dead, with no doubts. Her focus was better spent on Kiyoshi, who seemed more durable and in more trouble, crashing through the wall of a building the tsunami rolled over. With mercurial speed she made her way to him and slipped her arms around his middle, gripping him.
An angel of the deep, she pulled in an attempt to take him upwards…
But he was heavy, and the tides were powerful. Instead, she brought her hands together and utilized the power of suiton ninjutsu, manipulating the waters themselves. Expending a heavy toll of chakra, she countered the momentum of the wave around the two to take them towards the bone seed keeping Yuriko and company contained.
She reached it before too long only to find a crack in it. The impact with the deluge had damaged the container — enough, she quickly saw, to allow water to seep in. She had to get them all to the surface. She extended the influence of her chakra to encompass the seed, but it was too much. Too heavy. The wave, too strong. Rather than the group lifting towards the top of the tsunami, it was left suspended by her efforts, Hozuki, Jinchuuriki, and marooned sphere surrounded by a multitude of bone tendrils.
The 'boat' rattled back and forth from the impact, tossing around those inside as a crack forms through the ivory shell. She could feel it weakening before water began to seep through. Quickly. Yuriko grits her teeth and begins redoubling her efforts, trying to seal the crack again while the pair of bodies cling to the outside of the seed. If they were still alive, she knew, they needed to get up to air as soon as possible. All of them did, before their boat filled completely.
Through an effort of her will Yuriko spreads the tendrils to the closest surface, releasing the anchor on the bottom to begin the crawl up the closest wall. The torrent of water threatened to pull them away every moment, every inch they fought for. But they needed to get to the surface, and if she was lucky, the Kaguya will be able to pull them up onto dry land as well.
Entreaties. Another. Purpose.
Kiyoshi was so very much too tired to care about all that. Truly, enough was enough. Nevertheless, Kokuo grew more insisted about provoking further thought, further action on his part. A wasted effort ultimately, for Kiyoshi had no intention of listening to the beast most of all. His only wish was for it to stop trying to repair him. It would take time for the Bijuu to reform, but it never needed fear death or worry about some old promises. And why care for a host who's so called indomitable spirit waned at the first sign of true disaster?
'Your not.. making any sense… Kokuo-san.' His oxygen deprived brain and overtaxed brain thought as they went along with the current. Afterwards, he closed his eyes and tried in vain to ignore instincts that demanded he held on to what precious little air remained in his lungs. But focus was impossible to retain while just about every inch of his body continued to whine about a few broken bones, punctured organs, and a myraid of other bothersome things. His nerves of course showed no such mercy in even the slightest until he finally stopped moving along. Somehow. Tempting as it was to look and deny whatever savior, living or otherwise, prevented further injuries, Kiyoshi ignored it.
By this point Kokuo was growing feed up with his host nonsense. For once, the five tails actually raised his voice and threatened to take over if Kiyoshi did not act, halting all attempts at regenerating his hosts injuries further.
»Geki… At the very least, help /her/!!«
Wearily, Kiyoshi opened his eyes enough to view a world, and upon seeing egg cocoon, he tried to swim closer. His arms hardly moved, and even that much was agonizing. His legs on the other hand were worse off by the lack of feeling. Cursing inwardly, the teen began to allow his will to flounder again. At least, he tried, right? Sickened by the thought but even less so by the alternative, Kiyoshi forced his hands into the appropriate seal, and began building chakra.
Rin's teeth clenched, a vein rising in her forehead, the lines of her liquid form starting to grow diffuse as keeping her body a single entity grew increasingly different. If something didn't change, she'd be pulled apart…
'I… can't save everyone.'
Dread filled her as this realization hit her, an anger at her impotence giving her some strength. She looked between the Jinchuuriki in her arms and the pod filled with Aspirants. Her comrades, this moment, rather than her competitors. And she would have to decide who lived and who died.
Her eyes took in the pod. There were four in there… as opposed to only one. She closed her eyes… squeezed the man in her arms… and loosened her grip, beginning to let him go — until something felt different. A tug, her ninjutsu made even more difficult to sustain.
She opened her eyes and readjusted her momentary slip on Kiyoshi, looking to the pod to find that it had speared through the walls of a four story building that had managed to withstand impact from the tsunami. Immediately, she relinquished her hold on Yuriko and the others with her, believing they had a fighting chance.
Released of this burden, she and Kiyoshi rocketed upwards… high er and higher until they breached the surface behind the crest, their heads now above water, winds whipping at their faces but breathable.
The call came from the two Aspirants who'd been tossed up by the chuunin guard, his sacrifice not in vain. It seemed they'd managed to heed the man's final words, using water walking to stay atop the wave, riding it through the village.
Below the waters, the seed remained anchored to the wall it'd pierced, even climbing it, tugged at by the influence of the tide but holding firm. In time, that tug lessened and lessened until… it was no more. The wave and the others had left them behind, leaving them hanging from the bone seed three stories high.
Both this space and atop the wave were perfect places to give the Aspirants a good view of just what was going on, were they to look.
The village was revealed in a light the group had never seen before. Fire. Both in the sky and on the ground, fire streaked and lent its illumination to their home. The meteor that crashed into the barracks had just been one of many…
Kirigakure was under attack.
The pull lessened and lessened, the seal on the crack holding as she feels the water eventually give away beneath their pod. Yuriko allows a small bit of optimism to fill her chest, but doesn't let it distract her. Instead she focuses on the matter at hand, preparing herself to face whatever or whoever had destroyed the arena and taken so many lives.
Large, circular indents begin to form in the inside of the large, ivory seed, a makeshift ladder leading up to the opening forming at the top. Already the tendrils that kept the pod anchored to the side of the building were thickening, forming another, ropy ladder up to the top of the four story building.
Yuriko was the last of the four to climb up, silently thankful to be on dry land instead of bobbing around in the middle of water like a bath toy. It takes her a moment to take in just how few there are that survived. And behind them… the village was alit with flames and destruction. The petite Kaguya stares at this for a full moment, taking this in with disbelief, but eventually she turns back to the small group that had gathered. The few that survived.
"Alright." she murmurs. "Let's get to the others. We need a head count of all who's still alive." Glancing over her shoulder at the three she had rescued, Yuriko narrows her eyes. "As of this moment, you're my team. All of you are under my orders. Got that?" And before there's a chance to reply, argue even, she suddenly takes off. Intending on intercepting the others.
For one brief moment, Kiyoshi thought the current was finally winning over whatever force kept him in place. That soon, he would return to flotsam, knowing he had not built up nearly enough chakra for another desperate plan. Anger flashes in his eyes, only to be quickly replaced by confusion and pain once more from a return to stability. Kiyoshi has only a brief moment to wonder before being dragged along towards what he could only presume to be the surface.
He yells and tried to struggle against the force to no avail. He merely wasted the last of his air venting his frustration and further disturbed his own injuries, much to the chagrin of his Bijuu. Just as he began to feel light headed from the lack of air, Kiyoshi found himself instinctively gasping for air the moment his head peeked above the surface. A few moments later, Kiyoshi dragged himself on top of the surface of the water, ignoring the source of the call until his breathing fully normalized.
"Yuriko… Kiji…" Kiyoshi murmured in renewed despair. He had to get back down there, and do something! The feeling was coming painfully back to his limbs, so —
Kiyoshi's hands snap up to cover his ears, reinforcing the idea of tuning out the voice. When nothing more seems to follow the Moto then turned his attention towards his surroundings fully. Rin's presence is finally acknowledged with a look, but nothing more. A gut feeling left him far too resentful for even a muttered thank you. The others are spared his direct ire, just a passing glance as he tried to figure out what happened. Inevitably, his gaze falls upon the village, the fire, and the answer he sought from the beginning. This wasn't an isolated incident. The village was under attack.
"…. If any of you think you have a remote chance, do what you can to divert this wave. Break it down.. Otherwise-…" Kiyoshi pauses with a grimace. "Otherwise… see if Yuriko-san group survived. And if so, join them." He lingered only long enough for the aspirants to catch the empty eyes before taking off. Injured or not, he would at least fulfill his purpose — /the/ purpose of the Jinchuuriki; the complete devastation of the greatest concentration of the enemy. And seeing as how they would more than likely be determined to protect the source of the meteors…
As the pod was opened, releasing a stream of fresh air for the first time since they'd been encompassed, the three Aspirants locked in with Yuriko sucked in deep gasps. Once the bone ladder presented itself, one quickly started climbing to escape the confinements, another shaking the last who'd been on the verge of passing out from air deprivation.
Soon enough, they all made their way out onto the top of the four story building, suppressing shivers from the night air on their wet skin and clothes. One couldn't contain those shivers, though, at the sight of the fires… the destruction. "Our village…"
They turn their attention to Yuriko, then, at her words — the command and the declaration of ownership bringing various looks of displeasure to their faces. She left before they could say a single word and they followed after her without much hesitation, this moment a time for action. Something needed to be done, and it seemed all agreed that heading in the direction of the wave and the others was the thing to do for this moment.
Atop the wave with Kiyoshi, Rin only shook her head at Kiyoshi. Ungrateful rebel. Disturbed, ungrateful rebel. She pulled herself up partially, but rather than stand atop the wave she remained melded with it from the bottom down and seemed far more stable for it. Hearing his words, she arched a brow at him — and then he was gone.
She looked after him before looking to the others. Nobody had a way to stop the wave; they'd already have done so. She didn't bother addressing that, instead saying, "Yuriko and some others were in a bone pod underwater and got left behind. I hope they're still alive, but we don't have time to check. This is bigger than I thought." She pointed ahead. "The wave is heading towards the administration building. I say we go there, see if we can find the Mizukage. Someone's got to be doing something. Kiri doesn't lie down in battle."
At her speed, Yuriko easily overtakes the course of the torrent, her keen eyes catching sight of Rin and the other few survivors. Shifting her weight she jumps off the edge, chakra pulsing across the bottom of her feet as she lands on the waves. With just a brief moment the petite Kaguya comes to a pause at the second group, waiting for the three others to catch up. No sight of Kiyoshi. Or Kiji. Or Naoya or Hayase. Were they alright?
Yuriko quickly shakes her head to free herself from the worried thoughts. She can worry about them later. "How is everyone? Any serious injuries?"
Even without ever hearing the words, Kiyoshi sensed Kokuo's disappointment. It should've been enough to give him pause, and yet he continued to run until assured enough distance had been gained. As soon as that happened, all there would be left is the final leap. The nerve of his host grated on Kokuo to no end. The Bijuu is even tempted for a moment to try and deny Kiyoshi access to its power. Unfortunately, it was better to remain with the fool he knew, then deal with the aftermath bound to follow his death.
»Bothersome« He murmured just as the power began to ebb from its being, and being begin to divide. What remained would continue to work in the background. The rest however continued to bubble to the surface until for all intents and purposes, the Bijuu in its all glory took the place of Kiyoshi's original form. Whatever unfortunate building to be the path of his landing is never given a thought afterwards. Kiyoshi did what he could to avoid trampling over any future buildings. However, his patience would only last so long. If he needed to trample a few obstacles, living or otherwise, then so be it. He would not stop until he reached the meteors source.
The Aspirants on Yuriko's trail proved swifter than the wave as well. Now that they were no longer beholden to its power, it was clear to see that much of its momentum had been lost, spent on the distance traveled and the drag of every obstacle it pushed through. But they weren't as swift as the Kaguya girl. They moved with the haste that they could muster, and they were approaching the wave, but they've not yet caught up to her.
When she reaches the wave, the others still upon it turn their grimly determined faces to her, recognition softening some of the harder lines in it. "You're alive," said Rin with a smile.
"Everyone here's alright," she said. "I'm pretty tired, but otherwise we're all fresh. We're heading there," she pointed ahead, to the Administration Building. "Hopefully, we can catch the Mizukage or someone and get involved with whatever's being coordinated." She paused, glancing back before looking to Yuriko. "What about the others?"
Her question is forgotten at the sudden appearance of Kokuo in their village.
His transformation crushed a local restaurant, empty of patrons, though the falling rubble killed a family running the streets in an attempt to find safety. Indeed, much of his travel would find a number of deaths the Jinchuuriki would never be likely to notice underhoof — especially should he give up patience and start going through buildings to traverse the inhabited village. Just how many water citizens he was responsible for killing may never be known.
However, his transformation did allow him to escape the tsunami's spread without any further trouble. And it drew attention as well. From the administration building's front doors came Meruin, nine fellow shinobi at his side. Sparing the giant incoming wave only a glance, the man sped in the direction of Kiyoshi and the village gates, the others at his heel, just avoiding the wave's crashing — and breaking — against the wall of his office.
Meruin wasn't the only one whose eye was caught by the giant beast. Nay. The enemy had taken notice as well, the proof lying in the meteor that was suddenly heading directly towards the dolphin-horse Hybrid, poised to stop his progress.
Rin's observation brought about a slight smirk from Yuriko, despite the circumstances. "Yeah, I'm alive. And the three others catching up are also alive and uninjured." She turns her gaze from Rin to the rest, looking them over. The few that had escaped were unscathed, but those that hadn't… she didn't want to think about it. Not now. Yuriko quickly shakes her snowy head to herself as she glances back at the Administration Building, the wave quickly carrying them towards it.
Whatever focus she had on the task at hand, at getting to the Mizukage amidst the crisis and joining the ranks, it flitters to nothing. The chakra from the tailed beast blurs from such speed, and from where they are she can see the Mizukage and his elite heading towards his direction. Yuriko curses under her breath, teeth gritting and chest tightening. Waiting for the other three to join them wouldn't be good. It'll just slow her down when every second counted. She curses under her breath again and turns towards Rin, "The Mizukage is going after the tailed beast, and the meteors are actually being fired by someone. I'm going to find them. You and the others need to evacuate everyone in the village. Don't leave anyone behind. Got it?"
Yuriko waits only long enough for Rin to reply before turning away. Knot forming in her stomach, she takes off to search for those responsible for the meteors. A needle in a stack of needles.
Humans can make themselves believe just about anything.
Kiyoshi was no different. If at any moment the cries of villagers reached the titan's ears, they were perceived as nothing more than the tortured sounds of metal, or wood and rock shattering beneath his hooves as roads and buildings are passed through. Truth be told, when his patience finally wore thin, only the fact that open space allowed him to proceed faster kept him from plowing straight through everything on his way towards the gate. He could never run fast enough. The memories pursued him relentless. His conscious cried out for him to pause and reconsider his action.
He had to keep… running? Confusion took root in the transformed Jinchuuriki as the area around him grew lighter. Instinctively after glancing about, he sets his gaze higher. The enemy had noticed him. A grim grin comes all too easily to the lips of the Jinchuuriki. Regardless of whether or not they meant to take him down in one shot or merely slow him down, he would not give them such satisfaction willingly. Desire and intent did not make up for the delay in perception. The burning mountain of fire and stone would catch him while still earth bound, driving him back severely, but never truly stop him. Calcified fur and flesh crack and crumble under the intense hit and pressure. He kept them buried deep into his mass, ignoring the torture long enough to eventually throw his whole body into sending it back. Anything remotely within range of his swing would more than likely be devastated as a result. Everything outside of it would still have to withstand the force of the gale it produced.
Unless given reason to pause immediately after, Kiyoshi returns to charging towards the source of the rain. If only for no other reason than to make sure the summoners stayed buried and dead…
"Oh…" whispered Rin, eyes on Kiyoshi.
Her shift of attention from the giant Bijuu to Yuriko was a delayed and drifty one, but her eyes soon sharpened. Go and evacuate? Her jaw shifted, debating between the need to go and /fight/ whatevever or whoever was attacking them and the need to have a village left to fight for. A village is in its people, not its walls.
"Fine," she said after a time. "But someone should help the Mizuka—." And then there was no more time for discussion. Yuriko departed, the wave hit the administration building, and all those atop it were forced to leap from it.
Flame marauded across the night sky.
A meteor, gigantic mass of stone and flame, left a brazen trail as it traveled not into but out of Kirigakure. Another, from outside of the village walls, rose and sped to meet it. The two connected and the stone thrown by Kiyoshi pushed through the other, sending the defeated one ricocheting downwards… right into the village gates. The gates were reduced to rubble, replaced with a gaping hole in Kirigakure's walls.
It allowed those on the ground level to see Kiyoshi's comet as it tore path through the trees of the misted forest before touching earth and enemy flesh. There, where the comet landed, was a broken circle of shinobi — most of them dead — and an army of upwards of 400 surrounding them.
A face to the foe.
Yuriko follows the trail of meteors streaking through the sky. It was no coincidence that Kiyoshi was heading in that direction as well, and the Mizukage and his men after him. And the people that had been left dead in the wake of the bijuu… the Kaguya girl grits her teeth. The only way to save more people is to put a stop to this. Focusing energy deep in her gut, bones creak and shift beneath the surface of muscle, preparing to transform while she kept to the shadows. If the tailed beast was drawing attention, then she'll use it to her advantage and come in beneath the radar, stealthily. She pushes for more speed. She needed to get there. Now.
Four and a quarter tails continued to sway lazily behind Kiyoshi as he sized up the new enemy. Their numbers were smaller than he expected, but if even a quarter of that number was capable of raining down the amount of devastation shown earlier, than it mattered not the size. No, their numbers mattered little to him in the first place. His tails began to thrash about in the air and even low to the ground in a frenzy as time ticked by.
'Yuriko, Kiji… Kazumi, Souta, Surumu, Ojiji-san…' A growl came unbidden as he lowered his stance. They were a paltry number of lives compared to those the gathered army had and were going to lose in this campaign. Nevertheless, they were important to him. 'Were' for they were all dead or dying by now. All because someone wanted more.
Deep trenches were dug as a forehoof kept tearing at the ground in anticipation. Then, for no other reason beyond the urge to do so, Kiyoshi sucked in a deep lung full of corrupted air before lifting his head skyward and bellowing loud to be heard for miles. All of his despair, hatred, and rage — Nothing is spared for the sake of keeping him going. So long as an enemy remained clear and so close at hand, his source of strength would continue to refill itself in a matter of moments. He offered no such luxury. Mere seconds after the noise died down, the titan is on the move again. His consideration to the environment and those within it is gone. Everything is trampled into nothingness equally. This included members of the army that happen to be lined up in his path should their resolve proved weakened in the wake of hearing his roar.
Minutes, seconds, heart beats… The time to act would be short if Kiyoshi had anything to say about.
Vivid purple eyes lock on Yuriko from the shadow of the wall.
They see her as she drops to the ground, attempting to come at the army from a less overt angle, playing to her shinobi strengths. All eyes, it seemed, were on the Jinchuuriki. How fitting, this situation. Almost a moment of karmic purity. The last time, it had been Yuriko's presence that saw Kiyoshi put in this danger. This time, it is his presence that endangered her, left her so open.
"He's forgotten about you, hatchling," murmured the man that formed around those purple eyes as he stepped from the wall's shadows. From the earth all about Yuriko, a flurry of spiders would spring forth and launch themselves at the girl, and should she be bitten by one there'd be an intense flash of light bright enough to light the whole battlefield followed by rapid… rapid aging. Years would fall from the minute with soulrending pain.
In the thick of things, Kiyoshi trampled a number of foes on his way towards the army. He was an overbearing figure. Some had lost their nerve at the sight of him, a few dozen fleeing into the trees. Others took time to gather their steel and some showed no care.
Those remaining in the circle — they showed no care. Indeed, there was a distinct lack of excitement in them, as though being bore down by a Bijuu were an everyday occurrence. They began moving through handseals, hands swift with practice but showing no unease even as their forces were met by the sudden appearance of Meruin and his shinobi who knew their true enemies.
As the giant loomed, they finished their jutsu, each pointing to fingers to a spot between them. Volatile red-orange energies shot from them and combined between them, soon launching directly towards the charging Kiyoshi's chest.
So focused on keeping hidden, on making sure that she keeps the tailed beast and the small army in sight does she not sense who might be watching her in turn. The pause was brief, only meant to be long enough to restitute herself compared to the last of army, but it was an instant too long. The murmured words reach her ears before Yuriko could sense him, her eyes darting all around her before she catches sight of the figure stepping from the shadows.
Fear instantly spikes through her as she meets his eyes. Those intense purple eyes that seemed to pierce through her soul. She remembered those eyes. They caught her last time when she was alone too. Would she be caught yet again. "No…" The single word is the only thing Yuriko could utter as from the very ground she stood on bursts hundreds of spiders. Instinctively she backs away, bone trying to build up quickly under the surface of her flesh in order to protect herself, but she was caught off guard. Too slow as the Kaguya girl is swiftly swarmed by the brood, bitten countless times as light is released all around her. Falling to her knees, Yuriko screams from the pain, unyielding earthshattering pain that engulfs her very essence.
Kokuo had not been idled. The Bijuu watched as he always did, monitoring his hosts and through him, the environment around them. Though infamous for being a charge, there were other weapons at its disposal. In time, Kiyoshi may have proven worthy enough to learn of them. But not now or ever if the demons grumbling from the mindscape was anything to go on.
Even if he had a mind to listen to what was implied, his attention is sharply drawn elsewhere. Having expected some type of attack from behind after seeing the light stretch past him, trees and those that might have happened to be using them as a perch are uprooted by his tails. Several are dropped moments later from the sound that reached his ears. With eyes squinted and teeth gritted, the Moto looked back into the light and murmured a name. "Yuriko-chan.." It was far too late to stop his momentum. Nevertheless, Kiyoshi tried. He had to turn —
Four great legs nearly tripped over one another from the force of the voice; its demand prompted the Kirryu to look forward again. Kiyoshi has only enough time to catch a glimpse of the combined energy shooting towards him before having to act on impulse and throw his trees on an intercept course. It isn't remotely enough. His legs are the first to give out on him, though the rest of his body follows soon after. Chakra made flesh and bone rapidly dissipates until all that remains of the Bijuu is a bone weary, confused, but still very angry Kirryu, trying in vain to stand up properly. The most he can manage is to flip onto his back before exhausting his immediate strength.
Noruma lets loose a wicked laugh, purple gaze aglow.
His spiders stopped biting and left Yuriko alone. There was no need to assault her any further. The girl's life would melt away before their eyes anyway, the seal finally complete.
"I truly hate leaving things undone," he said by way of apology.
"Kiyoshi, PROTECT HER!" This bellow came from Meruin, who was engaged in combat with three shinobi from the center circle, unable to escape them to come to the genins' aid. "Your role is the protector!"
But it was vulnerability that drew the spiders towards Kiyoshi. The seal-transformed arachnids rushed towards him, ready to swarm and inject him with the completed aging seal to leave him unable to protect anyone. Meanwhile, with the force of the Bijuu gone, the tides of battle have turned against Kirigakure.
There was only pain.
Fire filled her existence, here senses. The words of the mysterious purple-eyed man falls on deaf ears as the singular form, engulfed completely by light, collapses on the earth floor. The scream of pain still torn from her lips. There isn't a single ounce of doubt that death would come. If Yuriko could form thought, it would be preyed for. Anything for release.
Kiyoshi jolted to full alert at the bellow; a demand he could not refuse, nor tried to for that matter. Old wounds and muscles complained to no end, threatening on multiple occasions to force Kiyoshi to listen. He would make them yield through sheer force of will, strengthening himself with ever muscle tensed up as he rose back to his feet. Only one foot is actually firmly planted on the ground before he visibly sees another reason for Meruin being so passionate.
Pain. Fear. They both slip from conscious thought as a memory played in mind. Even as his mind's eye is overridden by imagery, the body still moves. Mechanically, Kiyoshi goes through the motions of taking off the giant scroll hanging from his body, and resetting the strap so that it was bound firmly to his hand. The moment the swarm got within a few feet of the Kirryu, he spun his makeshift weapon about like a makeshift mace, splattering unfortunate arachnids left and right, or knocking waves at a time using the wind generated from his sweeps.
Unerringly, he would try to push cutting a path through them, knowing subconsciously what the inevitable would be, and yet moving forward for however long he could. The enemy was not just some nation that thought to conquer Kirigakure, or remnants of some fallen force seeking revenge. This enemy… What Meruin failed to do before, Kiyoshi would do so himself. He /would/ protect Yuriko this time. If he had to crawl his way to her position and chew through the ankles and necks of those that were in his way, the Moto would do so in a heartbeat. Any agony suffered along the way would mean nothing compared to seeing this goal to the end…
Pain engulfed everything, swallowing existence itself until there was nothing but darkness…
A sharp breath wakes her abruptly from sleep, brow drenched with sweat as Yuriko stares at the ceiling for several long moments. Was a dream? A genjutsu? If it was a dream it was a really vivid one. All that death… She swallows lightly as she tries to slow down her breath, focus on calming the rush in her veins. The fear… Focusing again Yuriko lifts her right hand, staring intently at the Seal of Judgment. It tingled and itched like crazy, annoyingly so.
Grumbling under her breath the back of the hand comes to rest on top of her forehead, eyes closing. It was several moments more when she's finally able to calm down. Dream or not… the day certainly didn't start off like any normal day.
All for naught.
No matter how many of the nasty spites became paste against his scroll, more awaited the chance to strike. Others were more clever or lucky enough to find purchase on his weapon or form, and inevitably, they found flesh. His legs were the first to go, though one by one. He incorporated the stiffness of limb into his forward momentum, but ultimately fell to the venom.
Growls became whimpers and soon enough, cries of pain as rage fueled fortitude waned under the force of tidal waves of torture. "Can't… fall… Not… won't…" Kiyoshi murmured as he looked towards his outstretched hand, mustering the last of his will to try and manipulate the outstretched limb. Beyond it and growing rapidly closer, he caught sight of a manifestation of oblivion. An endless tide of black and purple, rushing ever onwards towards him. Further than that and only for a moment, he thought he caught a glimpse of another. A shinobi that seemed to recognize him or merely acknowledged him, and yet instead of aiding the fallen genin, pointedly turned away.
The Darkness and agony claimed him soon after…
Kiyoshi awoke flailing and gasping for air, ignorant of the tingling sensation on his right hand until his eyes no longer felt the need to search out danger. Several minutes will pass well before he reaches such a conclusion. A day would before he even considered sleep again. Before the latter came to be, Kiyoshi stayed curled up into a tight ball against the wall, coiled about his storage scroll, and staring wide-eyed but blankly at the seal well after it stopped tingling…