Date: March 26, 2014
The remnants of team 2, Akina and Keiji are guarding high value cargo when a routine bandit attack occurs.
"High Value Cargo"
A light breeze blows a couple flecks of sand through the air as the sun sets over the horizon in the land of Wind. There is a small fire going outside of a nearby cave. There are several horses attached to a wagon. The wagon is filled with jugs of liquid.
Keiji stands at the entrance to the cave. He is watching the merchants men fill the wagon. Each wagon carried roughly twenty jugs. There were three wagons total. Luckily for Keiji this was the last wagon that needed to be filled. It was almost completed. His eyes scanned over the horizon. The customer had insisted that this precious commodity be moved at night.
Earlier, Keiji had already briefed Akina on the mission. In this dry and desolate land, water itself was more precious than gold. Sure, when the rains came anyone with a container could get water. This was different. This was a water source that someone had found and was hiding to protect their own interests. It did happen from time to time. Thats why the two shinobi were brought in. They were to ensure any other merchants did not move in to steal the wagons of water.
Akina, fully masked, stands guard at the entrance of the cave, opposite side to that of Keiji. She watches silently as the jugs of water are packed into the last wagon, before glancing over her shoulder, at the cavern itself. So far things have been going well, but for some reason she felt ill-at-ease. As if something were nagging at the back of her mind. It made her nervous for some reason. Akina exhales a longer breath and shakes her dark head, clearing her thoughts, knowing that if she were jumpy then she wouldn't be effective.
As the last worker comes up and fills the wagon with his jug, the merchant appears from within the cave. "We are halfway done. Just imagine. A few hours and we will be rolling in the money." The man then looks at Keiji, then Akina. "You sure the two of you can handle escorting us? I hear there are lots of people trying to get the jump on me."
Keiji glanced at the man. He seemed to be counting his chickens before they hatched. He disliked the greedy. As the wagon is finished loading, Keiji nods to Akina. "You take the first wagon. I will be in the last. We will be able to communicate through hand signs. If you see something let me know. The main mission here though is to protect the water so stay with the caravan." Keiji states before latching on to the wagon that was just recently filled.
Listening silently, Akina turns her masked head towards Keiji, absorbing the directions before dipping her chin with an equally silent nod. Just before he climbs into his wagon, she catches his hand, only for a moment and gives it a squeeze. She just as quickly releases her grip and turns away, swiftly climbing into the first wagon as instructed. From there, she perches so that she can have a good view around them.
Soon the wagons are off leaving only a trail of kicked up sand behind them. They were specifically travelling under the guise of night to hide where they were coming from. With all the precautions that the customer was taking, Keiji was a bit surprised that they had not requested the travel wait until their was a sandstorm.
Although Keiji knew better than to not take a mission seriously, he doubted this would be anything more than a long, boring ride. The customer was one of those worried types. It simply seemed unfounded in this situation. Though it did seem like Akina worried a bit about the journey. Keiji knew it had been a while since she had been on a real mission.
The Shippodoku's eyes remained cast out behind the wagon watching for any signs of trouble. So far it was nothing but kicked up dust. Now and again a coyote would howl in the distance or a set of glowing eyes would be seen over a hill. In the end it all simply returned to nothing. These were normal signs of night life in the desert.
Perched on the front of the wagon, it's lurches lightly as it finally starts forward. Akina glances back over her shoulder and watches momentarily as the other wagons start up and begin to follow in turn. A minute, then another passes and the kunoichi settles herself into her seat, holding onto the edge as her dark eyes turn their attention back towards the desert. Just like Keiji, her gaze pierced the darkness easily, searching for movement, for the forms of beings rather than animals that may be coming out.
A yawn escapes Keiji as the night continues on. The Chuunin was more than a little bored. He had become use to guard missions. The vast, empty space between towns made the land easy pickings for bandits. It was hard to enforce any type of laws in this area. Even the established trade routes, although safer, still had several reported attacks a month. On the bright side, they were getting paid and did not have to walk next to the wagons.
After a few hours, and the edge of boredom creeping in, Akina tries her best to keep her attention on the desert. The endless sands doing nothing to help the growing monotony. The lurch in the wagon is almost abrupt, letting Akina wake some as she blinks her dusky eyes ahead of them instinctively. Wagons. A few of them were suddenly just there. And… The kunoichi tenses as she counts the bandits quickly, a hand reaching into the air to swiftly sign, 'bandits, twelve, swords'.
As the wagons came to a halt, Keiji's attention was turned towards the source. His eyes saw the sign made by Akina. There were a dozen bandits. These bandits carried swords. These were not farmers turned bandits. No. These were actual bandits that made their living off of theft. If Keiji had to vote. These guys were scum. In the end they were a bit easier to kill. Keiji raises a closed fist. It meant Akina was free to engage the bandits. Once Keiji was certain that Akina saw the orders, he stepped off the wagon and sank into the ground itself.
"'Ello 'ello 'ello? And what do we have 'ere? Looks like it's da catch of the day, boys!" Taunts the centermost bandit, speaking ironically and earning several throaty chuckles as the others begin to fan out, already walking towards the other wagons. "I'm afraid we'll 'aveta confiscate ya wares this very fine eve. There's ah 'eavy tax currently, and that tax 'as fallen onto you lovelies this even'in. Now then. Please be so kind and 'elp unload the wares." He smirks.
Akina's reply? Several poisoned senbon are thrown in a wide arc, aiming for several of the bandits at once.
The senbon hit two of the of the bandits. Both of them manage to stay on their feet though one starts to scream out in pain. The rest of the bandits charge directly towards Akina in an attempt to kill the one threat that has already revealed itself.
As they pass over top of him, Keiji reaches upwards from the ground grasping at a set of ankles. He pulls them down into the earth leaving only their head visible above ground. He repeats the manuever once more. At least both bandits would have someone to talk to until they were let out or died. Keiji finally rises from the earth. His eyes follow the eight or so bandits attacking Akina. Keiji was interested in seeing how she handled them.
The attention of eight bandits, Akina smirks to herself under her mask as she jumps hard from the seat of the wagon, expertly flipping through the air and, as she lands, the kunoichi disappears under the surface of the sandy earth. This leaves the bandits suddenly lost and confused, unsure of what had happened, and speculating that the kunoichi could have been a ghost. At least, until the first is suddenly pulled underground, as if the earth itself swallowed him up, then another. The two that were poisoned are already feeling the effects.
Keiji watches as two more bandits are pulled into the ground leaving only their heads showing. It is only a moment before the bandits turn around and look towards Keiji. He was standing a good deal away from the loaded wagons. Instead of dealing with the bandits rushing towards him. He turns his back and places his fingers together. "Demon Grave Jutsu." is stated just loud enough that the bandits could hear him. Almost immediately the wagons blocking their path begin to sink into the sand. As they do, earthen hands reach up grasping anything that they can. They pull the wagons down until they become no more than a bump in the dense sandy road…. Of course, Keiji expected Akina had his back.
Akina emerges from the sands, just beside Keiji. As he is busy sinking the wagons that had been in the way, the kunoichi prepares another several handfuls of poisoned senbon, the smirk hidden again as she throws them with quick precision. She takes care of the rest while ensuring that no one unexpectedly attacks Keiji while he's working.
As the remaining bandits see the wagons dropping into the earth, they seem to pause for a second. Almost in disbelief that their road block could just vanish, a few start to become shaken. Akina's senbon easily hit their targets. The remaining few take off towards the sandy, perverbial hills. Keiji turns around and looks at the fleeing crowd. "You have done well Akina. Go ahead and lead the caravan onwards. I will finish off the witnesses." he states before turning into a cloud of smoke. The real Keiji was already off moving underground. Though it was not a mission requirement, he decided to eliminate all the witnesses. Also he truly doubted that they actually knew what the cargo was. This way though a paranoid customer would have nothing to worry about later on.
"Pfft. Taking all the fun for yourself." Akina murmurs, her feigned scoff easily twarted by the sound of the smirk in her voice. "I expect a reward later." She says this as she turns to walk back towards the caravan. By then, Keiji has already disappeared underground. Climbing up on the first wagon, she explains to the driver there that the mischief makers are taken care of, and that they were to continue to their destination.