Date: October 3, 2015
Suna nin venture into a thick patch of wicked weeds in search of medicinal materials for Sousa.
Poster's note: foul language filtered in obvious places.
"Garden of Eatin'"
A strange oasis [Land of Wind]
The First Kazekage is in a bit of a mess. During a recent mission to deal with a rampaging jinchuuriki, he made use of…well, you might call it a forbidden technique, although since nobody else knows the technique but him and there's hardly anybody higher up in the chain of command than him (technically there's Itami but she probably doesn't concern herself with this), it's up to him to decide when it's worthwhile using this technique. And considering what a fearsome fight it turned out being, Sousa may well have been right to use it…but whatever the case, he's definitely dealing with the fallout now. The technique was a genjutsu Sousa cast on himself to kick his brain into hyperdrive. The downside? It simulates the properties of powerful psychotropic drugs…very addictive ones. So now Sousa's going through withdrawal, and the kicker is that unlike most druggies, Sousa doesn't have to pay anything or even acquire materials to get a 'fix'. He has only to run through a series of handseals and cast the genjutsu on himself again. It would be easy…so easy…
Which is why a team of Suna nin has ventured to a certain oasis which is marked on most maps as STAY THE HECK AWAY FROM HERE. Why would an oasis be considered a place to avoid by desert folk? Because it is home to a freakish colony of GIANT CARNIVOROUS PLANTS. Yeah, you can get water here, but only if you can stave off the monster flora while you're doing it. And of course water isn't exactly what the team is here for, that would be too easy (not to mention pointless when there already is enough water in Sunagakure). What they're here for is the juice of a humongous pitcher plant, located smack in the middle of all the Venus fly traps and sticky sundews. The juice in the bottom of this pitcher plant can apparently be processed into a sedative strong enough to ensure Sousa won't 'give himself a hit' in his sleep.
The jungle awaits…
Itami definitely didn't understand what was going on with Sousa, though she had only the vaguest of understanding of what happened to him. Still, she couldn't say she was all that concerned if only because she didn't know what was happening, but it appeared that this was serious enough that she should participate in what was going on anyhow. So, she took the chance to participate in this mission to see to it that Sousa doesn't lose his mind and or body completely and render himself unable to function.
"Can someone explain to me what's happened?" She asked while looking over this oasis they've walked into. "But that aside, I understand we need to collect juice from a plant…" She began. "A pitcher plant, to be more precise. Given what has been said about this place, we should best keep on our toes. I can already see all the issues we'll be running into."
She proceeded forward with a staff to assist her. "Rikuto, your skills will be effective here. If it's too much to ask, could you keep a path clear for us as we proceed? Asashi, I imagine that you may be able to pick up on 'life' here. It may not be human, but it should likely give off the same signals. I'll need you to be alert to the things we can't see. I'll try to provide reinforcement."
A map spot marked to stay away? An uber danger environment? Sounds like home to the new Clan Head of the Iga Clan. The fact that he's now a trained and powerful Medical Ninja makes this endeavor even more intriguing. On top of that, it's a chance to stretch his legs and not have to listen to the worries of the dusty old senators that may have liked the man that once had control of the clan and may resist his reign still for a few days, so he definitely wasn't going to let Itami come here without him.
As they walk along, Asashi starts to explain, "Basically, the former Kage used a Genjutsu on himself that works like a psychedelic drug of sorts to boost his abilities temporarily during a battle, and now he needs a bit of treatment that doesn't allow him to give in to temptation and keep dosing himself, per se, with continued Genjutsu. I can be of assistance to him once we've got the ingredients for the medicine, but this definitely isn't a place I'd want to go alone, which isn't something I often admit."
Nodding to the Kage, he says, "I can sense what's going on, yes. Be prepared for things that aren't quite natural to where we live, though. I can use my skill with shinobi tools to keep some of the plants at bay, but my poisons probably won't be much use."
Staying quiet during the trip, the young Miira signed himself on for the task, knowing only that it wasn't going to be highly paid for, but it was going to be aiding the Shodaime Kazekage. Traveling itself would be smooth, though the closer the travel came to the oasis, his eyes widen as his curiosity began to peak looking around at the odd life that had sprung forth.
Curling and uncurling his fingers, Rikuto looks down at his hands before bringing them together, lacing his fingers into a single seal. Taking in a slow deep breath, energy began to shift and blend, concentrating chakra within his core. Looking forward and to the side towards Itami only to dip his head lightly once before speaking. "I can find others, even sometimes villagers but plants..? I will keep these plants in control if nothing else."
Turning his focus to the path before them, the young man takes in a slow but steady breath as he begins to make his way forward before pausing. Slowly twisting his fingers into a short chain of seals, he brings up his thumbs his lips and pinkie fingers downwards while his other stay laced. "Burn.." is all that was said before he exhales slowly for a moment before flames lick from the corners of his lips. Rapidly flowing in front of himself was a short sea of flames flare up in a half crescent pattern, attempting to burn the base of many of the plants. "Hopefully the plants don't regenerate quickly, I'll stay close to the front then Kazekage-sama?"
Though it's hard to pinpoint any one plant moving, the entire collective seems to rustle restlessly as the ninja step in. It is time to FEED. >} But that restlessness shrivels when Rikuto's fire cuts into the foliage and creates a line of clear walking space.
Despite the earlier sense of hungry anticipation, the plants don't seem to reach toward the ninja at first. Why should they, after all? They're plants, being largely immobile is part of the definition of their kingdom of life! So for the first few yards, all the ninja have to worry about is stumbling into one of the open flytrap maws or getting stuck on gluey tendrils. Of course, with how many of the darn things there are around, even after a path was burned, that's a decently significant worry…
Taking the lead with Rikuto, Asashi moves on ahead. As he does so, he reaches opens some hidden compartments in his robe and begins to send out a rather huge amount of wires to latch onto as many plants as possible and use their very surroundings to trap them. At the same time, he should hopefully weed out and force any plants that are lying in wait to close their traps around metal wire rather than human flesh.
"I'll hold down as many as I can. Torch any that manage to make their way through," he says with a nod to Rikuto as he starts to move, apparently having already memorized the map as Iga are wont to do. Information is the currency of those who live to take in as much of it as possible.
With the young man leading the way, one of the first of the group to notice there was something wrong was Rikuto. Turning his head to the side to watch as Asashi begin to use steel wire to restrain the plants, the young man cants his head to the side slightly confused. "I'll so just that, though I don't see many more of the ones with mouths." Turning away, he soon began to walk again. Despite walking along the mostly cleared path, his cloaked left arm lightly brushes against one of the plants resting along the scorched edge of the field without much thought.
Pulling at his cloak suddenly when it snares against the plan, he simply stares at the plan for a moment until it rapidly begins to coil around his arm to drag him deeper into itself. "Broccoli!" Staggering as he finds his balance, the color within the young man's face twists, brightening until it turns to a shifting orange and red a moment before turning into writhing flames. 'Tsk..' Looking at his arm, Rikuto skits to a stop close to the core team, slightly dumbfounded. "So, not just plants with teeth, but plants with baited snares.."
Shaking his head, his fingers move up to his lips, allowing him to breath out sharply in several bursts, releasing a short series of flaming orbs before them. When an orb would manage to touch one of the plants, it would quickly expand before exploding into a sphere of flame. "At least they don't grow back quickly."
"I see," Itami nodded. "I can only expect the unnatural around here. Giant plants aren't exactly uncommon, but they're not the usual either. "I don't think anyone in their right mind would want to be here willingly. It's best to leave places like this alone." She looked over her shoulder momentarily to Rikuto. "Keeping them under control is all that we need at this point, I believe. Your skills are especially significant since I doubt plants would want to be anywhere near them," she remarked.
"Staying close to the front would be preferred," she began to slow up and allow Rikuto to pass her. "That is…one thing to consider. They may be able to regenerate quickly, which is why I hope to provide reinforcement for you."
As the group moves forward and makes their first encounter with some of the plants, she's already upset that they were able to catch Rikuto off guard. She'll have to be a bit more diligent, it seems. "…Okay, well…"
Nope, quickly regrowing out of nothing does not appear to be one of the attributes of these plants. Burning through them seems to be a pretty effective strategy, if a bit expensive chakra-wise. The path ahead is clear, and the ninja proceed deeper into the garden of eatin' without much incident.
…But of course things have to get freaky eventually. ;)
It's hard to say when it starts. There are so many plants around, it's only natural that a few of them survive the trail-blazing efforts, or have a tendril that happened to fall across the path after whatever other shrub it was resting on got burnt away, or maybe the heat caused something to unfurl and reach out with barbed spines. The deeper the ninja go, though, the more stuff like this seems to happen. As the gigantic pitcher plant which is their goal comes within sight, the foliage around them is slowly, but visibly, creeping inward. Vines slither along the ground toward the shinobi's ankles, and cloying smells that cloud the mind waft through the air.
"It appears we're close to our goal, but there's a problem…" Itami states, taking note of the plants around here. "We may have a problem," she indicates their movement. "We'll need to combine our efforts together. Asashi, I'll need your wire. I want to pour oil on it…" She states as she takes out a small pouch to utilize.
"Rikuto, I'll need you to maintain your abilities. I know it's taking its toll, but the more we can wither these plants, the better…" Additionally…. She's feeling a bit like she did at her surgery. She's sure she didn't take any painkillers before she came here…
"Okay, but you better be sure about this. If you torch this plant, we won't be able to get another one for probably a year I'd imagine, which means Sousa could be in recovery that much longer," Asashi warns Itami before drawing some wire to let her pour oil on. While he lets her do that, another set it sent out to defend them from incoming plants as well as to try and pull them back from the plant they seek. The further these things are away from their prize here while the two hotheads are busy burning things, the better.
Bringing a closed fist close to his chest, Rikuto over laps his other hand on top of it before bowing slightly towards Itami. "I can continue without question Kazekage-sama." Turning around, the young man chuckles faintly to him self, forming his seals more slowly than before but he didn't shift them from the last set he did. Taking in a deep breath, he rolls his shoulders outwards slightly as not only his chest, but his stomach began to swell as well.
Bringing his hands apart for a moment, he draws them together rapidly, slapping them together before exhaling. One by one, a trio of faux copies of himself materialize though the clones were imperfect, every so often a different piece of them would twist, swelling needlessly before contracting, simply trying to maintain shape. With a silent nod, the three clones would charge forward spearheading towards the outcropping of plants, but making it a point to stay quite a distance from the pitcher plant that had come into sight. Just as before, each time the clones were even slightly grasped, they turned into loosed explosives. "I won't be able to use these techniques much closer to the pitcher, I don't know anything about plants but if the roots are extended, I might kill it accidentally."
Progress continues, through more burning and a bit of hacking when things get too close to the prize to risk further fire. The hungry plants are moving, to be sure, but they're still plants, and their maximum speed is pretty low. It's just that there are way more of them than there are of the ninja. c.c;
Soon enough the group reaches the pitcher plant itself. The husk of the plant looks thick and waxy, not something that can be cut through easily. That aside, though, the top of the plant is an open hole, not at all defended. In fact, it's downright inviting. A heady perfume calls from the mouth of the pitcher, drawing the inquisitive and wrapping them in delightful slumber. Of course, a human would know that this is exactly how the plant takes its prey. :P But the goal here is to retrieve some of the self-same digestive fluids that sit at the bottom of the pitcher, so…
"I know. This is more of a backup. I don't want to destroy the plant. I want to destroy what's surrounding it," Itami states. "The pitcher plant itself, that's a different story…" She finished dousing the wire in oil. "With this oil, it'll keep up a constant flame that can be used to increase the effectiveness of the wire and hopefully will give you more versatility in its usage."
She drew her focus back to Rikuto as he sent his clones forward saying, "It's alright if you can't use your abilities closer in. That's where I'll come in. I can immobilize them." She set her eyes on the pitcher drawing closer. Once they were within the area, she could finally see where the scent was coming from and it was making her a bit more sluggish as a result. Compromised to some degree, she tried to work past it quickly enough to summon a wind to crash down on the area and hold in place to hold the plants from moving for a while. "Rikuto, do you have any wind skills that may help to disperse the scent of this plant? I want to ensure Asashi doesn't too many issues when he goes to extract the juice within it."
To Asashi, she continues. "Asashi, do you have any other tools you can use to help you get in and out of the plant safely?"
Oh, send the BLIND guy in to collect the juices out of the inside of the super dangerous plant? Awesome… Okay, so it's not like Asashi doesn't live for the danger that comes with these kind of tasks. He'd started to wonder if he'd miss them completely when he took up this job as clan head. Luckily some of these village shinobi do things almost as crazy as some of the stuff he's seen in his underworld life. A smirk tugs at the former (kinda former) assassin's lips as he nods to the Kage before getting to work.
Unzipping another pocket on his robe, Asashi uncoils a rather thick wire and loops it around a tree before clamping it around it. By the looks of it, it's probably wired somehow in his coat already to act as a lifeline. What kind of psycho walks around with his clothes themselves literally hiding so many contraptions fit for life and death situations? This guy apparently. Once it's in place, he zips up all the unnecessarily open parts of his robe as well as closing it fully around his arms and all the way up his face until literally no part of his body is exposed save an eyeball that he attaches to the top of his hood that seems to be covered in some kind of clear plastic or something to make it last just a bit longer than it normally would inside the plant. One would guess that his clothes are made out of something that's not so easily digested either."… See ya in Hell," he calls out before he turns and jumps up to literally dive into the mouth of the pitcher plant to make his collection.
'Hmm..' bringing his hands apart, Rikuto closes his eyes and exhales before coughing suddenly, forcing some smoke from his lungs and shaking his head. "I could, though I'll have to stay close to Asashi-san." Turning to the man, his gaze began to shift, looking him up and down, almost studying him before shifting to watch him walk away and towards the pitcher. It wasn't until he watches the man almost dive in without any protection that he acts quickly.
Bringing only two seals together, Rikuto snorts suddenly and clasps his hands together tightly while concentrating. A gently breeze began to swirl around Asashi though soon the wind became more and more forceful as it circles around them. It was very likely making the lighter trinkets and gadgets would rattle or even threaten to be pulled away from the force, though the scent, while not completely gone, would be reduced significantly.
As much as this should be the point where the pitcher plant SUDDENLY CLAMPS DOWN AND ALL THE CARNIVOROUS PLANTS BECOME A RAVENOUS HORDE, or something like that, it's getting kinda late. ;) So the pitcher plant remains an unreactive, vegetative life form that gets its nutrition by trapping less capable beasts than shinobi, Asashi manages to scoop up a good beakerful of the potent juices and climb back out, and the ninja team burns their way back through the jungle to safety.
Back in Sunagakure, Sousa has been sitting cross-legged at the hospital, engaging in meditation with cold sweat running down his body. =_= His hands are encased in special mitts designed to prevent handseals, but he could figure out how to remove them if he tried…and not thinking about it is quite a task in itself. When word arrives that the vital ingredient for his treatment has been acquired, his determination is bolstered — a purely psychological effect, as he instantly realizes himself, but one he won't complain about. X) After just a little more waiting, Sousa is able to drift into a peaceful slumber, and the worst of his rehabilitation is over.