Date: February 19, 2013
Rinako gives Suki her first day of training: a suprise mission to hold onto a scroll as she's attacked by hordes of monstrous beasts with missing teeth and booboos!
"First Ninja Training Mission: The Power of Friendship!"
Sunagakure Academy Training Field
Welcome to the Sunagakure Ninja Academy Training Fields! Here there's a bunch of brats running around, yelling, and chucking ninja-stars at each other. If one listens closely, they can probably hear a certain Uzumaki redhead and Harada blonde screaming at each other while Sifu-Meimei tries to pull them apart before they rip each other's hair out. Ahhhh, the Spirit of Youth is blossoming under the springtime sun!
*Might Guy shoots the camera a thumbs-up, gives off a tooth-sparkle, and then leaps away after that bit of exposition.*
Rurohashi Rinako had TOLD Suki to be here at six o' clock in the AM. SHARP. And to NOT be late. And it was now nine-fifteen when she finally comes stumbling into view, with a five-year-old and a six-year-old student each on one leg. She's dragging her feet, both hands in her pocket as she tries to move towards the jinchuuriki with a wave.
But then three more jump her from behind, causing her to tip forward with a 'guh' of surprise. "YAAAAAH! WE GOT YOU, RINAKO-NEE-CHAN!" The Jounin stumbles once, twice, and then falls flat on her face as the children begin pummeling her with practice kunai with dulled edges.
"I don't even understand what's happening!" The former jinchuuriki cries as she covers her head with her hands. Once they're certain she's 'dead', the five each place a foot on the older shinobi's back and raise their 'weapons' to the sky proclaiming 'VICTORY!' Rinako peeks out from between her fingers in Suki's direction. "Oh… there you are. I've been looking everywhere for you." Apparently everywhere BUT where she'd told her to meet at last night after dinner.
Setsuno Suki has a perfectly logical explanation for why sifu Rinako didn't find her. She'll offer it in a moment. As she has been standing here since 6 a.m., patiently waiting and doing nothing else, Suki has had much time to think about things. Big important things. All of which flee her mind when Rinako finally arrives, dragging along munchkins on her legs, being leapt upon and assaulted, and causing Suki to wonder if perhaps she should step in. But Suki recalls how easily Rinako just picked her up and moved her around like she weighed nothing. If Rinako wanted to escape those kids she could probably do so easily.
Suki bows out of habit, fist of one hand in the palm of the other, and says, "Good morning, Sifu Rinako." And then she straightens up and… It should be clear she doesn't look quite the same as last night. Because instead of having her hair in a lengthy braid, she has put it up in a high ponytail that is just as long but smooth and sleek, almost like a long whip or something made of hair. It resembles Rinako's own hair — with the difference of it not being as spiked, and being waaaaaaay longer.
Clearly this change in hair style made her unrecognizable and that is why Rinako did not realize she was here. "I apologize for being difficult to find," the tiny teenager says solemnly.
"You can't talk, you're DEAD!" Screeches one of the kids, rearing back a foot and kicking the Councilwoman right in the head. Whatever Rinako was about to say is cut off forever as a foot impacts the side of her face, causing her eyes to go wide as she tilts to the side and-
Vanishes in a puff of smoke. When it clears, there's only a training dummy there. "HEY NO FAIR WITH THE SUBSTITUTION JUTSU!"
Rinako reaches out to place a hand on Suki's shoulder from behind, a friendly smile on her face as she indicates the kids coughing and hacking over the smoke. "They're so lively, aren't they." And then her smile turns apologetic. "Eh heh heh, sorry, I would have been here on time. But I failed to get out of bed on time because of my sister and then got so hungry I had to stop and eat at the noodle shop next to the Academy. You haven't been waiting long, right?"
And this was the level of responsibility she was supposed to teach this girl!? "Are you ready for today's lesson, Suki-chan?" Rinako stands up from her crouch, clapping her hands together loudly. It gets almost everyone's attention. "All right, everyone gather around over here. I have an announcement to make!" Children all over the student training portion of the field stop what their doing as their instructors begin to herd them towards Rinako and Suki.
"This girl is Setsuno Suki, and is the 'operative' for today." Several of the kids closest to Suki give her an evil grin, despite being only around half her age. "But before we get to that, can anyone tell me why the clans of the Hidden Sand came together and formed the village?"
Suki blinks. She can perform the replacement technique herself, but… It took a lot of work, and hers is more speed-based than Ninjutsu still. Like, the idea of magically replacing herself with a nearby object still hasn't 'clicked' for her, even if she's technically capable of it. Ninjutsu is just… 'Weird' to her. But she is a ninja now, so she has to get used to it. She looks up at Rinako when the Jounin puts a hand on her shoulder, big, innocent, violet eyes going blinku-blinku. "Only 4 hours, Sifu Rinako," she answers. But then she redirects her attention to the crowd that gathers to hear the announcement.
When she is introduced, though she doesn't know what Rinako means by 'operative', she still bows to all the children respectfully despite their youth. But not as much of a bow as she would give to an elder. She does not know the answer to the question, however. The Hidden Villages? As far as she knows, it's because people wanted to be hidden! But, as she is given to from her upbringing, she decides to keep her mouth shut. Children are to be quiet, listen, learn, and obey their elders.
Further, showing off her ignorance would just be too embarassing!
Suki may think children are to be quiet and obedient, but THESE children obviously hadn't been raised to think that! Or at least, not around Rinako. They pipe up with all KINDS of answers from 'becoming the strongest shinobi nation' to 'developing world-ending awesome jutsu' to 'making money' to 'so everyone could be friends'.
Rinako listens for a few moments before patting the air with her hands to get the boys and girls to quiet down. "All very good answers. And almost all of them are at least partially correct." She grins at the kids, who begin to puff up with pride. "The villages formed for a variety of reasons: to be stronger, for safety, cohesion, to put aside our differences, protect our lands, to stop the violence. Because what is a shinobi's number one goal?"
"TO PROTECT!" The children shout back at her.
"That's right!" Rinako grins slyly, holding up a finger and slashing it through the air. "To protect what is most important and precious to you in this world!" Her voice keeps rising and rising dramaticly. If this were some kind of anime, surely there'd be a guitar riff soundtrack going off right about now. She reaches into the pouch at her belt, feels around, then into the kunai holder at her side, then the pouch on the other side, as if looking for something.
Finally, with a small 'Oho!' she reaches into her shirt and pulls out… a small scroll, holding it up like Link finding a piece of the Tri-Force. "This is your most precious scroll! For just today, this scroll means the world to you, and whoever has this scroll at the end of the hour will win a prize!" Stepping forward, the former jinchuuriki takes Suki's hand and places the scroll in it with a conspiratorial wink. "Trial by fire, Suki-chan. Try and hold onto it!"
And then she leaps the HECK OUT OF THERE! There's a moment of silence as everyone stares at Suki, and then… "GET HER!" As one, the herd of children rush forward.
Well, uh… Yeah. Quiet kids is clearly not a thing up here. Suki is only a little bit apalled though. Mostly she's just kind of stunned and smiles a little bit at the way Rinako handles them all, how they're all so enthusiastic, how they all yell out at once! Yeah, this is a pretty neat bunch. Suki wonders if they're all like this up here. If so, maybe they're not so bad. Not like back home.
The reason the various nations were formed in the Southern Lands was simply for organizational purposes. The entire continent was ruled by a single Holy Emperor, who had unified the various kingdoms under his banner and created a dynasty that endured for thousands of years… But then things changed. War began to spread, and what had previously just been 'districts' of a single empire became kingdoms unto themselves, with warlords, dictators, self-proclaimed royalty, and endless armies of soldiers, Chi-wizards, archers, siege engineers, generals, and on and on and on. For over 700 years the war between nations has been going on.
Unlike up here, where war has been halted temporarily only to occasionally resurge, the wars in the Southern Lands show no signs of stopping. Infact, one particular nation — the seat of power for the original Holy Emperor before his death — seems to be making the struggles bloodier, take longer, exact more pain and death, on PURPOSE. This is the same nation where rumors indicate the Infernals and the dead alike have begun to walk the world of mortals — a hole leading directly to Diyuu — Hell — lying in the forbidden palace itself.
No, this is not like back home. These Villages and nations and the purpose of ninja themselves is all… To protect. Not to serve as mere bureaucratic measures or tools for whomever becomes the next Emperor. Suki wonders if maybe bringing some idealogy from these lands back home might make a difference some day.
But then she hears the instructions about the scroll, and is handed it. She blinku-blinkus at it in the palm of her hand, looks up at Rinako leaps away, then back to the other children. When they yell 'Get her' and charge at her, it is only through years of practice that she manages to evade them. Turning sideways, 'helping' someone attempting to tackle her along in the direction he was going without Suki being in the way anymore, spinning one student into another, pushing off another's back, and so on and so forth. There are many close calls, and Suki's wide eyes show quite clearly she is concerned for her safety and is not just being some kind of mini-epic fighter. This is requiring substantial effort. She is grabbed a few times but each time manages to slip free with a deft twist of a limb or some other maneuver.
Eventually, she leaps over the heads of some of the children and takes off running across the field! She has no idea what's going on. She can only assume this some sort of punishment for not providing an answer to Rinako's question about the Villages. T_T
Rinako lands near the awning leading back into the main building, leaning against a column with her hands behind her head and her ankles crossed. One of the chuunin instructors looks up at her for a moment, and then sidles closer, lowering her voice. "Are you sure this is alright, Rurohashi-sama? If she gets too exhausted or angry… she may lose control. The students would be in danger."
"No." Rinako replies, with equally-quiet certainty. "She won't hurt anyone she doesn't have to." Her eyes narrow as she frowns. "She needs to reconnect with children close to her age. She needs friendship more than training. And she needs… to find something of her own to protect."
The children, meanwhile, are calling out things like 'no fair' and 'aw, almost had it' as Suki manages to evade their grasping, grubby hands. Most of them are far less trained than she is, and they show it in their clumsy efforts. But on the bright side, none of them seem to be seriously striking at her, simple grabbing for her and the scroll! Some trip and fall and collide into each other, but scrapes and bruises are to be expected when children are playing.
And judging from the way they laugh and howl as they chase Suki across the field like a pack of wild dogs, this was one big game to them! But one kid seems a cut above the others, and chucks his practice kunai!
But not at Suki, then what? The kunai is thrown far too wide, hitting a piece of rope and, rather than cutting it, the impact of the dull throwing knife jars the trap into action. To anyone who was even genin level, the tripline was incredibly obvious, being made of thick rope rather than thin wire, and the net wasn't very well hidden, either.
"HA! I knew this contest was coming so I laid a trap way earlier!" The girl, so proud of herself at her foresight, calls out as the net springs near Suki.
Thinking while running from a pack of kids who are, while not trying to hurt her, rather clearly trying to catch her, is not super easy. She's actually looking over her shoulder instead of where she's going, and that is why she doesn't see the 'trip wire' and falls right into the net and gets tangled up in it. She blinks in surprise. "…Um." Oh, no! Those kids are coming at her now! What will she do!? How can she escape!? …She has no idea! But she just try to use the training she has received thus far to use her crummy Ninjutsu skills to undo some of the knots and wriggle her way out, only to then go into a handstand and spin around quickly upside-down, using the net to toss sand and dust every which way to obscure her!
…If successful, she'll have seemingly VANISHED. Which mostly just means using the net and the same sand she just kicked up to lie still under the sand by a couple inches and try to blend in with the terrain. From what Suki can tell, this is some sort of test. And she WAS called out here for training. So presumably this is training too. Well, if she's being tested and trained, she can't just run around scared now can she?
So she just keeps holding her breath under the sand, hopes no one notices the lumpiness, and remains patient while she listens for an opportunity to pop up and try her GENIUS STRATEGY that is surely a RIVAL of the incredible OBVIOUS NET MANEUVER! :O
"Haaaa! Got ya NOW!" The girl cries right as Suki steps onto the most-excellent net trap that surely the universe had ever devised. That is, until the net is thrown up along with sand. The wall of children halts and cover their eyes, some even cover their heads as they duck from the sand. Those in back run into some of their friends and knock them forward a bit. In the end, they're all left looking around wondering where the strange new girl went.
"Hey, new girl Suki-person! Come out and I'll be your best friend! I'll share Rinako-nee-chan's prize with youuuuu!" One boy calls out, cupping his hands to his mouth as they start to spread out and look for the suddenly-gone girl. One of the other girls walks right over her and even stumbles over Suki's sand-buried form!
"Ow, I think I skinned my knee!" Immediately two of her male classmates are at her side, fighting over who gets to take her to the nurse's office. Ah, young love~
Rinako watches on with a chuckle, eyeing the white-haired female instructor next to her. "And you were worried!"
The kids are getting rather spread out now, some looking under rocks, others punching training dummies to make sure she's not henged into one of them, some are climbing trees, looking in bushes, kicking around sand, poking cacti…
Suki is trying reaaaaallly hard to be a ninja and just lie still and be hidden and not give in to pleading. But, there is a very crucial fact here. FACT: Ninja are mammals. That means they breathe. They don't just suck hair in through their joints like bugs or whatever! So, Suki has to breathe eventually. And the tiny hole in her sand camouflage that results from being tripped over saves her from suffocating by giving her a way to breathe! Yay! Sadly, there is another fact. FACT: One of the kids in a tree can see what isn't visible from a level surface. The outline of Suki under the sand, with what might be no more than an anthill to someone on the ground but which is obviously a hole for sucking air through from up there!
Once Suki hears she is pointed out, she bursts out of the sand like some kind of ancient cat-mummy from Egypt or something! …Only she doesn't really look like a cat or a mummy. So that's not a very good analogy. But once she is out in plain view, she knows she's going to get chased again. So what does the sand-covered barely-teenage girl do? She runs! And runs! And runs right at…
And she attempts to stop in front of her teacher, take one of Rinako's hands, put the scroll in her palm, bow, and says, "Apologies, Sifu Rinako! Good luck!" And then run away, leaving Rinako with the scroll that all the kids want.
Of course maybe Rinako will round-house kick Suki or refuse to take the scroll or something, but this is the GENIUS PLAN that the new Jinchuuriki has devised.
As Suki pops out of the ground, the swarm is once again on the move. The children begin popping out of the woodwork to chase after her like the orcs and goblins in that Lord of the Rings movie where the heroes were passing through Moria. Yeah, just like that. They're screaming and hollering and just generally chucking stuff at Suki to get her to 'slow the heck down' as many of them put it and get that scroll!
Rinako watches the approach with seeming dispassion and a quiet groan. Was she going to ask for help or that the exercise be passed off? There was still fifteen minutes left! And then… WTF. Rinako is still standing there with scroll in hand as Suki sprints away, the kids ignoring her, no longer the target. She's JUST looking up when the swarm descends.
"WAAAAAAAUGH!" As Rinako is buried under an avalanche of children, her instructor compatriot just getting out of the way. There's a mound of screaming, wiggling children where Rinako used to be, until one boy with a huge gap-toothed grin crawls out of the crowd, holding up the scroll triumphantly, hooting, and running away. Gradually, the others figure out the scroll is no longer on Rinako and abandon her to give chase.
And when they're done, all that's left is a trampled Councilwoman, on the ground, twitching, looking only half-alive, and with several footprints on her.
Meanwhile, a girl about four years younger than Suki herself grabs her arm, carting around a wrapped-up package on her back. "Hey! Psst, Suki, right?" She looks around conspiratorily. "You're really strong. Rinako-nee-chan didn't say we had to control the scroll the longest, just that whoever had it at the end of the hour wins! So let's team up! You and me will let everyone else tire themselves out, then we'll get the scrolls and split the reward. C'mon, whaddaya say? Pals?" She holds up her pinkie in the traditional, time-honored child bargaining right of the pinkie-swear.
To be super honest, Suki is not especially interested in the reward so much as not receiving the same treatment as her teacher! However, waiting until everyone else is tired out seems like a good plan, as it addresses both concerns! "I will aid you, but you may keep the reward. I only wish to survive until the end of the exercise. Perhaps we should go investigate Sifu Rinako's condition to ensure she will also survive." Yeah, Suki feels a little bad about her genius plan working so well. She'd just assumed her teacher would use that switcheroo technique again and escape or use her super strength and start throwing kids into the sun!
Instead, she was left TRAMPLED like some kind of… Of… Trampolinako! Suki thus casts concerned looks upon the Councilwoman, and only partly keeps track of who has the scroll at any time.
"Hmph! She'll be okay!" The other girl assures Suki as she begins to remove her wrapped-up backpack. "She acts really silly, but you've never seen what she can do!" The dark-haired student grins at Suki as she points towards Rinako while simultaneously trying to keep up with the scroll's progress. The Battle Royale was in full swing, with children fumbling the scroll left and right and the darned thing changing hands every four or five seconds before it's owner is tackled or tripped or just stripped of the prize.
Rinako is just starting to sit up with some help from a couple of Chuunin teachers, rubbing the back of her head and asking what ran over her as the student continues. "She's a legendary ninja who used to control the power of one of the most fiersome creatures on the planet tamed to her will. She saved this village from a giant rock-snake bigger than all of Sunagakure single-handedly, rescued the Land of Sea from an army of demon-fish and their evil overlord with the help of her sister, and has been on dozens and dozens of missions destroying undead abominations and bringing down evil criminal organizations. Nothing can hurt Rinako-nee-chan!" The grin grows a little wider. "Besides, she promised she'd always be here to protect us, so she can't go breaking her promise, right?"
The girl unwraps the package, revealing… a puppet! It's in the shape of a fifteen-foot coiled snake as she tosses it to the ground, arcing her fingers like puppet strings. "We're sharing the reward, and that's final, Suki! Now I'll distract them and create and opening, you use that crazy speed and snatch up that scroll! Only seconds left…" The snake leaps to obey it's masters command, swirling into the maelstrom of children, causing many to trip, until it finally wraps itself around the girl who's carrying the scroll's legs, causing her to trip and lose her grip, the 'most precious scroll' rising into the air, many of the young students leaping and reaching for it in a panic.
Suki listens with rapt attention, hearing amazing things about her teacher. She watches with wide, violet-purple eyes as Rinako gets up easily enough. She'd known Rinako was probably strong. Why else would she be called a legendary hero of the Hidden Sand and beyond? But still.. The things being described… It make Rinako sound like more than mortal. It's almost like she's a… A…
"…A god," she mutters. But then the call to attention as there are only seconds left has Suki refocusing on her partner-in-crime and paying attention to the scroll's location. She takes note of the Puppet snake, and how it is moved around through hand movements, but just chalks this up to yet another mystery over here in Foreignistan, Land of Mysteries and Foreign. (She'll ask about it later.) For now, she waits until the girl with the scroll is snared and then takes off running, using the backs, shoulders, and heads of the fallen if needs be to vault into the air, turning upside-down as she moves in an arc, all bullet-time slow-mo, and attempt to seize the scroll out of the air, and then complete her flip and land on the ground rightside-up.
Suki is not that fast. Perhaps a bit faster than a basic student, but it is agility and training in martial arts that are not standard 'Taijutsu' that let her perform maneuvers that are so unorthodox. This though? This isn't purely monk-trained economy-of-movement martial arts.
It can't be just that.
Because she just tried to ninja the scroll. :|
Of course, after landing, she's going to be vulnerable if anyone acts in whatever time is remaining to leap upon her, but she's going to try to hang onto it regardless if anyone tries! Even if she has to shove it down her robe!
The children Suki steps on protest, and the rest of them watch in awe and amazement as the scroll is nabbed right out of the air. That only lasts for a second before they all turn as one and begin to converge on the foreign girl like the Zerg. Until a whistle-blow stops them all in their tracks, their arms all held up like they're getting ready to leap at the jinchuuriki, turning around to gape at Rinako as she stands across the grown blowing her little gym-teacher whistle.
The Councilor raises a hand, waving it to make sure she has everyone's attention. "The winner is Suki-chan." And then she offers the student puppeteer a smile. "…With an assist from Aoi-chan." Suki's partner-in-crime beams her delight as her contribution is recognized and her puppet falls lifelessly to the ground as she ceases to maintain it's chakra-strings.
Instead, she's jumping up and down and squealing. "WE DID IT, SUKI-CHAN! WE DID IT!" There's a lot of grumbling and grouching from the assembled students, but several of them start clapping for Suki and pretty soon they're all offering her cheers ranging form the half-hearted to the heart-felt. They gather around to pat her on the back and congratulate her for a moment before their Chuunin instructors intervene to begin rounding them all back up, separating them into their classes and herding them back inside. Aoi takes a moment to promise Suki they'd meet up later before she runs off to join her companions, all of them waving bye to Rinako as they pass, making her promise to come back and visit again tomorrow.
After they've all filed out, there's rather few people left on the training grounds for the students, aside from a few kids eating an early lunch or with a free period. The Jounin's sandals kick up a bit of dust as she approaches Suki, putting an arm around her shoulder and steering her back towards the building. "So, you won, right? Was it fun? I see you made a new friend, and a few new rivals, too."
Well, that was not so bad! …As it could have been, at least. It was still kind of scary, but also fun! …Ish! Suki is basically really unclear how she feels about it. But she at least didn't feel like her life was in danger. That's more than can be said of what almost every day was like back home. Suki has only been in these foreign lands for about a month, but she already finds them more hospitable (being in the middle of the desert aside) than the ones she has spent all of her life in. She finds them more safe, more comfortable… And the warm feeling inside when everyone claps for her and congratulates her and pats her on the back makes her feel more 'at home' than she ever did back in the Southern Lands.
She has to admit, Rinako is a major factor in Suki feeling this way. But people can fight here and use incredible abilities and not be consumed with fear, blood-lust, or despair — knowing they're just prolonging the inevitable until some army or another comes along and kills them all. Everything is so DIFFERENT here… And the new Jinchuuriki finds this simultaneously thrilling and frightening. It's that fear inside that makes her think she hears a voice she has heard a few times before as everyone is led away. She dismisses it at the ringing in her ears from that whistle and does as she has been doing: she ignores it.
Suki instead just makes sure to try this 'waving' thing to Aoi instead of bowing, and looks forward to meeting her again. When the former-Jinchuuriki shows up and starts guiding her back towards the school buildings, Suki thinks about it. "I did, Sifu Rinako. I apologize for the injuries you have sustained." She looks at Rinako, and can't really tell if the woman is injured or not — though she seems a bit dirtied by sandals and feet and so on. "I was attempting to… 'Think like a ninja.'" She does not really know how ninja think, but she thinks they must think like thoughtful strategists whose thoughts make other people think, 'Wow! I never thought of that!'
For now, with Rinako's arm around her shoulder, Suki just relaxes and lets the fear slip away. It's still there in the core of her belly — of her soul — but it's blocked by attempts to think of happy things for now. She smiles up at her sensei.
"Aoi will receive the reward as well, correct, Sifu Rinako? I promised her." She thinks back to that pinky-swear thing they did. She didn't know the full connotations, but she assumed it was some form of pact or agreement. Aoi deserved the reward more than Suki. Suki would have just stood by and let others fight over the scroll and not worried about a reward without that girl and her snake. Because…
…She's scared of fighting.
"And you did very well." Rinako praises, ruffling her student's hair as they pass through the archway and into the Academy building. "You eventually figured out that you didn't have to hold onto the scroll for the entire duration, just at the end. …And I guess got a little revenge on me for putting you through that in the process, huh?" Other than sandal marks and such, the elder Rurohashi twin does not appear to have so much as a scrape or bruise on her. She may have lost her bijuu's protective barrier abilities, but she's also recovered her full natural strength since then.
"We'll go get Aoi out of class, and then you can both have the 'reward': a dip in the hot springs to get all cleaned up. It's on me. THIS time!" As they pass through the halls, Rinako grows silent for a moment, letting her student sort out her feelings of victory and, most likely, her first time interacting with so many children at once!
"We're going to train here often, Suki-chan. So you'll be able to come back and see Aoi-chan and the others a few times a week. It's important for a shinobi to not become too isolated. To know and forge connections with others, to realize that you do not exist in a vacuum." She pauses outside of the puppeteer's classroom, looking down at the young jinchuuriki. "By the time you are grown and ready to take your place as protector, these children here, and the younger genin, will be the ones fighting by your side. You must learn to trust them, and they you. Eventually, they will be all you have."
She doesn't mention that there will be losses along the way, the death of friends. That might just scare the young girl off the whole concept of 'friends'! Rurohashi Rinako had grown up with no one but her sister to rely on, and even then she'd been separated from her for long periods. She'd been trained, raised alone, aloof, isolated. The mistakes of her childhood would not be repeated in her student, she vows silently as she knocks on the door's glass window and then opens it.
"Forgive me, I need to pull Aoi-chan out of class for just a little while."