Date: November 15, 2014
Team Sandstorm continue to seek out the missing-nin, Iga Aoi. They finally corner him in a tunnel-system discovered on a remote farm and have their last face-off.
"Hunting for Deserters: The Boom Box"
Land of Wind
After a few days of pursuing Iga Aoi, Team Sandstorm still hasn't caught him - but he hasn't managed to get away, either. He's thrown everything at them: misdirection, chakra-charged body parts to distract their Sensor, clones, a whole array of tricks and techniques. But between the three of them, they always found the trail among the web of misdirection and now they've tracked him to a scattering of buildings. As they approach what must have been a farm about a decade earlier, they don't see any movement or people, but Rikuto could swear there are three chakra signatures, all moving between the houses.
A look to Rikuto as they move and Tsuchi nods to him, "Ok, Rikuto. It's your time here." She nods her head and then looks out at the area, "You say three signatures…but you need to get us a fix on which one is which." She nods her head and then glances to Akiko and points up, "We also need a bird's eyes view." SHe grins, "Give me some intel and lets get this figured out, got it?"
With a light nod, the young Miira closes his eyes and begins to breath slowly. Extending a hand, his fingers waver faintly before curling all but his front most fingers. Drawing from one point to the next, Rikuto says "The strongest one is.. there.. the next two seem meeker, not weak but not as strong. They are close to each other.. some what. Not really sure if it's the same building or is it's in that area though." Turning around, he turns to Tsuchi to gage her reaction but then turns to Akiko. "Think you could have Kotone focus on those ones and not a full sweep, see just what she can see there, anyone at all?"
Akiko grumbles a bit as the chase seems to go on forever. Though it seems they might have him once more! She gives a quick salute to Tsuchi at the Sasaki's words. "Got it, Sensei." Rikuto gives her suggestions, and she nods. "Okay. Kotone, you know where to look, right?" Her falcon bobs her head in a nod and takes off, making her way to the spot Rikuto felt was strongest. She continues on to the weaker points he noticed, swooping in a bit close than might be safe. But it does provide the falcon with better intel if she sees anything.
The three signatures continue moving for a bit, then all stop somewhere Rikuto could swear is between the houses. Akiko's friend sweeps in, flying close between the houses, and finds nothing: the two farm houses and the barn next to them all appear empty and devoid of life, in a ramshackle condition. The bird is barely back when the signatures begin moving away from the group, down the valley at the end of which the farm is situated, with still not a thing to be seen with the naked eye.
"They're.. fading?" Tilting his head to one side, Rikuto makes a face before turning to Akiko. "They're either hiding or on the move, can you see anything at all? I can't tell if they are just in front of is it or underground some how.." Lowering his hand, the young Miira draws it back and begins to scratch at the back of his neck roughly in irritation and turns to Tsuchi. "I don't think they know we're this close, should we get closer or.." He doesn't finish his question, but simply waits for a suggestion or an order
A look at Rikuto and then at Akiko and then back to Rikuto. Tsuchi takes in the information that she is giving before nodding and rushing toward the edge of the buildings, looking in the direction indicated that they are moving away from the group. She stops and points in that direction, "Akiko, send Kotone after those signatures." She nods her head and then moves down into the village, "Akiko and Rikuto, look through teh buildings." She then races forward toward where the signatures went, "I'm going to create a path of no escape beyond this area." And with that, she focuses, her chakra pooling into her as she creates hand seals and then out before the path the signatures are heading, she calls upon higher air currents to come down into lower ones…within moments, a true twister begins to form in that pathway.
"Kotone didn't see much of anything. She even explored some of the alley-ways," Akiko tells the Miira. She frowns a bit. "If they're traveling underground, that'll be a problem…" She lets Kotone have a bit of snake meat before the bird takes off again, gliding after the chakra signatures in hopefully the right direction. "Umm… Right, Sensei! We're on it!" She dashes off to go look in the alleys from the ground. "Rikuto-san, c'mon! We should split up so we can look around faster!"
The hurricane tears around, sweeping up earth, rocks, parts of a half-decayed fence into an airborne mass of rubble. Kotone battles the air currents at the edge of what's safe, trying to find someone that's nowhere to be found. Meanwhile, the two younger members of the team make their way into tbe buildings, looking around. The barn is quite quickly ruled out as being of interest, but the other two require a bit more searching. Akiko is the first to notice that a table set on the ground floor isn't standing entirely right. It's been moved, and as it turns out, there's a trap door below it, leading to a dark tunnel. In the time it takes the two to find this tunnel, the signatures have continued their escape, but Rikuto can still sense them clearly even with the background of the violent vortex of chakra and air that Tsuchi has created.
"I'll get sensei, they went this way or down through another house, they aren't hiding, they are moving but it's getting harder to pick them out." Rikuto doesn't leave the house nor does he shout for Tsuchi, rather he goes to one of the windows of the house and pops his head out and looks around, trying to focus where the young woman was. Breathing in, he exhales a single sphere of flames which expands as it travels outwards, though it was doubtful it would withstand the howling winds once it travels that far. "Hopefully she'll see that, if it's like that time they'll be traps. I'll follow behind this time.. I don't want to set them off again.
Turning and looking back to see the sphere, Tsuchi stops her current actions and turns to rush back to where the sphere came from, peering inside, she nods her head, "Yes?" Upon being directed to the tunnel, she nods her head, "I see." She then rushes for it and then states, "We are behind, we need to move!" She then rushes down into the tunnel and puts her hand out before her, ready to produce a powerful blast of wind if need be. Even as she moves, she glances back to the pair, "We need light, produce it." She nods her head and nods ot Rikuto particularly.
Akiko gives a piercing whistle, and Kotone comes zipping down, working hard to stay away from the tornado and avoid getting sucked in. When she finally lands on Akiko's shoulder, Tsuchi is already inside and down the tunnel. "Well, now /I'm/ behind!" She huffs, but makes her way after her teammates, finding it easy to catch up since they still need light and such. "Rikuto-san, is there any way you can produce a constant light so my and Kotone's eyes don't have to continually readjust? It messes with our vision sometimes…" she comments.
Even below the ground, Tsuchi's tornado can still be heard, as a dull, monotonous growl above them. But the team make their way through the tunnel, or, as it proves to be, tunnels. They manage to avoid a few of the traps easily, as they're simplistic, but some of them aren't that easy to bypass, targetting the group with two explosions a triggered collapse, and a barrage of spikes that turn out to be venomous. Rikuto's senses tell them that they're catch up, though: something seems to be slowing their quarry down.
When the explosions trigger and they don't seem to be directly below Rikuto, he looks up and clasps his hands together suddenly. Taking in a breath he makes several signs before breathing upwards, forming the top of a dome of shifting winds above himself before it wraps around him. The young Miira doesn't run away soon after but forces himself to try and maintain the sphere until the rocks mostly settle in place before panting. "Geeze.. I can't sense any of these traps, I don't think they're seals just trip wire.." While he sounded like he might speak more, the boy heard other sounds close by and raises his voice as he look around for the others. "You two Okay?!"
Even as the explosions go off, Tsuchi simply makes two quick gestures and pushes her hand forward. For a moment, the others in the tunnel will feel almost like there's a pressure shift as much of the air is pulled into and against the explosions. She takes a breath before shaking her head and then looks at the others, nodding to Rikuto, "GOod joob." She states before taking a breath and then starting to move again, "We can't let this slow us down." She nods her head, "We have to keep going."
Akiko manages to avoid the spikes, ducking most of the sharp rocks and rolling to dodge the rest. "I'm good! We need a bit more light so we can see these traps as we walk, though, Rikuto-san!" she calls out, scooting out from under the poisonous spikes. She gets up and dusts herself off. Kotone had simply dived forward to avoid the spikes, and now the pair are back together and on the move. "So let's get going, then, Sensei~. Rikuto-san, do you have an idea of what's going on with the target?"
The team continues to close the gap between themselves and their opponents. By Rikuto's estimate, they should be around the next turn, when he notices their three opponents have stopped altogether, and there's a remarkable buildup of chakra from one of them - the one Rikuto now can make out is Iga Aoi himself. Like they know the group is coming close, and preparing something…
Relaxing some what once he could hear everything was well, Rikuto turns back to look back down the tunnel. Breathing in faintly, he breaths out with a puff of a breath, a bolt of flame that briefly lights the area before splashing with a flare into the middle of the area and disappearing. Moving closer to where he heard the voices, he hurries and lowers his tone, 'They know we're here, two of them are staying still, one is either coming closer or.. No, too fast. It feels like one of them is prepping to do something large and soon."
"Let me go first then." Tsuchi nods her head and then looks to Akiko and Rikuto before saying, "I want you to prepare your abilities that will stun or subdue our opponent. I mayh be stunned or subdued myself by what is ahead and you must ask." She nods her head and then turns and starts off toward the direction quickly, rushing forward and preparing her jutsu as she goes, unsure of what to expect, "We can't simply wait if something is being prepared, the sooner we act, the more likely we are to be able to stop it in advance."
Akiko nods, getting her bow off from her back and getting ready by nocking a few arrows. "Ready, Sensei! Just give us the word," she says in a quiet voice. "Once you attack them, we'll come in behind you and attack. Right?" she glances to Rikuto to make sure they're both on the same page as well. Kotone hops off the Hayato's shoulder for the time being, staying in the back because tunnels don't work well for the kind of maneuvering falcons tend to do.
The blast goes off, briefly lighting the corner behind which the enemy is, and is then extinguished by a roaring mass of water flowing down the corridor. The confined space focuses the attack, making it harder to defend against. As it flows further, it captures rocks and mud, turning into a brownish fluid battering ram. An explosive blast sent through the tunnel by Tsuchi, however, halts the attack and causes some dirt from the tunnel's ceiling to fall on their heads.
Once the blast began to surge, the young Miira quickly forms a set of seals before hopping forward. Appearing below Rikuto was an unstable echo of himself, though as soon as his foot landed on it, it exploded with a gale of wind, bolting him up higher, allowing him to land onto the ceiling quickly flattening himself against it. His extra effort was seemingly for naught as Tsuchi, rather than just defend herself, acted like a plug against the flood, though he was quickly aware that his perch wouldn't last for much longer.
Making a few quick gestures, Tsuchi makes a blast of wind that will slow the advance of that incoming water before she looks to Rikuto, "Move!" She then glances to Akiko, "I can't make it permanent, do something." She nods to the girl and shifts as her wind starts to die down.
Akiko quickly grabs a scroll from her pack, whipping it so that it unfurls to create a shield. It's big enough, hopefully, to hold back the water… "This scroll's gonna act like a shield. So get behind me and hope we don't all drown!" she exclaims. Tsuchi's defense gave her enough time to set up the largest scroll she had that could defend all three members of team Sandstorm, and if they were all safely behind it, the water would just go rushing past without knocking them back.
"Move where? I'm not getting in front of your blasts." Pointing at himself briefly, Rikuto hops from the ceiling and looks up at it carefully before looking between Akiko and Tsuchi, grumbling lightly to himself. "I don't feel them running off, they're waiting for us to go out there, an ambush. But with that in mind.. Sensei, Akiko-san exactly how bright can you make it over there? They're as dark over there as we are, maybe worse." Turning to the open area of the room, the boy moves a hand into his cloak, soon pulling out a untreated cloth bandage and breaths onto it, soon setting it ablaze. The light was little, but it did offer some additional visibility. "Akiko, you don't need to get the arrow all the way to them, just to the bend of the tunnel, they should be staring at it waiting for movement."
Waiting for the attack to die down and Akiko's wall to fall and she fires off a practical cloud of throwing stars made purely of lightning down the way toward her target and then calls out, "Give it up!" She calls out, "Now is not hte time to continue fighting. You are cuaght and your time here is at an end!" She nods her head, "Do not force us to destroy you."
Akiko grins a bit. "I can make it plenty bright, Rikuto-san. Allow me to demonstrate." She lifts her bow, finger the arrows that are still in place despite all the moving earlier, and draws the string back. The Hayato takes careful aim where she knows the entrance to be, and shifts slightly in her spot. Apparently this was a signal, as Kotone brings down the iron scroll she had made earlier just as the arrows are launched. It's timed well, too, as the flashbangs attached to the arrows go off once they round the corner.
Ankle-deep in mud, Tsuchi dashes into the corridor as the water seeps away, throwing lightning down the corridor at their target, Aoi, who responds by raising a wall of water. Not the best of decisions: although some of the attack is stopped by the presence of a barrier at all, most of it is simply conducted through, zapping him thoroughly. Akiko's target doesn't fare much better: her first arrow demolishes the wall of earth he'd brought from the side, and the next two explosions hit him square in the chest. Aoi looks at the others with worry, but they have the fanatic, blank expression of someone not inclined to surrender, talk, or even think.
Aoi brings his hands together again, and the remains of muddy water on the ground rises in a recognizable shape: a watery scythe slashes at Tsuchi. In the light of the explosions and the smoldering remains of Akiko's arrows, it becomes clear why they were slow: they're hauling a heavy crate somewhere. But that's not their priority any more. Now, both of these cloaked figures begin launching slivers of hard rock at Akiko and Tsuchi, alternatingly.
Dropping the lit bandage, 'Now just stand still for me, okay?' Rikuto's hands come together into a quick pattern before breathing out a colorless stream of air down the tunnel. Narrowing his breath flames begin to chase down a unseen path, trying to wrap around each of the figures hurling reflective stones down and towards them. The flames wouldn't strike at the figures directly but loop around them, once, twice, three times in a corkscrew manor before flaring and condensing. "It might get hard to breath down here soon.. better than be causing a cave in though."
Looking as the attacks come in, Tsuchi dances around this way and that to escape the attacks as she goes, causing the attacks to miss her and she shakes her head, "Show them no mercy if they don't wish to attack." She seems to be building up as she dances this way and that and with a kick, sends a sideways vortex into the air and throws lightning shaped into senbon through the vortex that fire off at high speed right for Aoi and she shakes her head, "You had an opportunity to give up." The senbon pierce through nearly anything, flying at hypersonic speeds.
Akiko squeaks a bit, one of the rock slivers cutting her cheek. She avoids the next two, though, twisting and turning to avoid the attacks. Without missing a beat, she sends a barrage of arrows at the enemy, hoping to keep him busy while Tsuchi works on Aoi. Even Kotone joins the fray, attacking one of the man's faces with her sharp talons.
Aoi raises a barrier of water, but he might as well be raising a barrier of tissue paper: Tsuchi's lightning tears through it and into him, throwing him back into the darkness. He lands with a groan and a fleshy thud, and stops making sound altogether. The first of the thugs manages to block Rikuto's attack with another rock barrier, but is then swept away by a wave of explosions into something barely recognizable as a human being. Kotone's claws are, at most, adding insult to injury. This leaves the second thug. He looks at the team with hatred, then at the crate, then at the crumpled form of his ally, and finally smashes his hand into a specific spot on the crate, seals spreading over it. The intricate pattern of seals lights the corridor with an ominous red, and finally with a thunderous boom, the crate explodes, leaving nothing of itself or the last thug. The corridor begins to come down where the crate stood…
When Rikuto seems a brief oddity, he brings his hands together but by the time he could hardly form a clone, the explosion struck, rendering the cone mute and knocking the boy off his feet and backwards. Sitting up slowly, the young Miira winces and mumbles, "Just what was that?" Looking up and around, he blinks lightly but then look up and brings his hands together for another barrier of wind, but once again in his haste he couldn't strengthen it and was partially buried in the rubble.
The blast sends her back and Tsuchi is only just able to create a wall of air that smashes away the rubble before it can hit her. She then looks up and stares at the rubble before shaking her head, "After the hit I gave him plus that explosion…Aoi is dead." She nods her head and stands up, brushing herself off and then she shakes her head, "And he created his own tomb…" She then looks at Rikuto and Akiko, "You two ok? We will need to send out hunters this way to come find his body and remove his Kekkei Genkai."
Akiko tries to jump back, but the blast from the crate is too much, and she ends up injured. However, she's able to avoid the collapse and rubble that comes with. "I'm fine. Just a bit… Injured…" she mutters. She blinks a bit, then, as Kotone nudges her attention to her bow. "What..?" She looks to her weapon, blinding as there seems to be something different about it.
With a wince, the young Miira shifts around slowly, picking the larger sections of rubble that landed on him and slides them off to the side but remains still for the moment. Running his hands over his chest, Rikuto seems to check for something but then nods lightly to himself before sitting up after breathing deeply deeply once and sitting up. "Tsuchi-sensei, Akiko-san.." Hearing Tsuchi ask what he's about it, has him nod briefly. "I'm fine. Let me give up some light.. It won't last long." Grumbling at first be breaths slowly, shifting the wind around them before the room is ringed with flames that lessen when the boy breaths in and flares slightly when the boy exhales.
Standing up slowly, Tsuchi brushes herself off and looks at the others, "Come along then, we need to get going."S he nods her head, "No time to dawdle, our work here is done."
Akiko still looks rather puzzled, studying her bow closely. It looks different… Something about the patterning along the wood… "Ok, Sensei," she says automatically, getting up and following after the Sasaki. Kotone stays perched on her shoulder, resting since they're in such a cramped area, until they get to open air.