Date: March 26, 2011
Shemri and Sora set off to stealthily keep tabs on the Pride, but are forced to take confrontational action.
"Hunting the Predator - Ambush"
Open Plains [Land of Wind]
The long grass of the plains rises easily 5 feet tall, and it is a truly beautiful sight with the blowing wind. The grass swirls and ripples like eddies and waves on a lakes surface as the wind blows, and the golden stalks in the sun almost glow with a good natured light. The sweet smell of the plains is adrift in the air, and many travelers will stop to rest amidst the stalks for a night.
To the south lies a rising mountain, with a barely visible narrow path beginning up its massive height. Far to the east lays a narrow path, following a small river out of the stalks of grass, and into some distant trees.
SHORT SYNOPSIS! The Pride, a wild and troublesome group of mercenary ninja, are passing through Land of Wind territory. They are led by Tategami, a rogue ninja originating from the Maneshi clan. Shemri, as it happens, grew up in the same neighborhood as he, and frequently had to deal with his bullying tendencies. Now Shemri, along with Sora of the keen-eyed hawking clan Hayato, is on a mission to SMASH THE PRIDE INTO WELL-DESERVED OBLIV — hmm, what's that? Oh, yeah, well…technically, they're just supposed to keep an eye on them. e.e Meh.
Shemri trudges across the plains with Shiikaa weaving through the grass at her heels. "We should have been given a larger force and sent to deal with this matter properly," she mutters. "I know Tategami. He shall continue to make trouble until he is locked up, perhaps even killed would be better. And what are we supposed to do if he does attack some town, eh? Go back and say we told you this would happen? Ask him nicely to stop? Try to buy him off? Huh, like he would not simply take anything we had to offer." Shemri glances at Sora. "Do you suppose we could manage to assassinate him?"
Sora does find it odd that they're going on such a small team to confront a potentially dangerous band. Well, she was told it was non-confrontational in nature. But half the time danger comes whether you're assigned to it or not. Still, Sora is comforted by the idea of Megami who is high in the sky scouting for any danger. Sora gives a shrug. "I suppose we're supposed to travel in speed, and scout the area," Sora says. "Strategy." She strokes her chin when Shemri mentions assassinating Tategami. "That's doable, if we can get him by himself," she says. "I told Megami to keep an eye out for anyone who might be the leader, and to report any single ones moving around. What does he look like?"
Overhead Megami wheels in the desert air, with the occassional dip to glance down at Sora. She raises her hand now and then, as some kind of signal.
Shemri digs out the photo of Tategami which she was assigned. Good thing they still had the negatives, Shemri's kunai did a number on the copy with the original dossier. e.e; "He was always proud of his long hair, and it seems he has grown a beard to match. That shall be the easiest way to spot him. Besides that, though, it should be easy to tell him by the way he bosses others around. He always did like to lead a pack." Shemri frowns. "Unfortunately, that means it would be difficult to catch him alone. If it were as few as five of his followers with him, we might stand a chance. I learned to fight groups by dealing with his toadies." Shemri smirks. "Heh…it would be like old times. Only I shall have back-up this time, and he shall not be expecting it."
Comforting herself with thoughts of a possible ambush, Shemri continues onward with Sora. Soon enough they pick up signs of the Pride's passage, and begin to track them over the plains. Eventually Megami gives them warning that they will be within sight soon, and the ninja approach stealthily. Crawling low to the ground, Shemri furrows her brow and shifts her jaw. "Strange. The reports said nothing about beasts of burden with them, but I feel many hoofbeats in the ground. Is there a wild herd of some kind nearby?" Shemri risks peeking up over the long grass briefly. She groans quietly and lowers herself back down. "A merchant caravan. Oi. Things shall become very ugly soon." Shemri glances at Sora. "We must know where the Pride is, and quickly. Can your bird show us? And how shall we deal with this? You have been a chuunin longer than I." :/
Sora keeps an eye out for signs that Megami is tiring. But there's a good headwind, so she is able to use the hot air and wind to keep her aloft rather than endlessly flapping to gain altitude. Perhaps that's why the Hayato Clan travelled here, where the flat plains and hot winds turned their falcons into ideal spies. Sora moves with something almost close to contentment. This is the kind of mission she likes best, not weeding gardens or catching cats. Hmm, well if this bandit leader is a Maneshi, perhaps he'd have a cat on him. When Shemri asks about what they should do, she takes a minute to think about it.
She finally says, "An ambush is good for only two things. One is intimidation, to attack so that they are disoriented and have less time to gather. Second is strategy, attacking and killing one or two of the enemy by surprise before they can react. We could use Megami as a distraction either way. Most important in an ambush is that everyone doesn't do everything. There has to be one leader to give commands. Which is you." She smirks at Shemri. "Have fun."
She signals up to Megami who circles around three times. This must have some meaning to Sora, because she says to Shemri, "Just about where she's hovering, about thirty yards beyond. They're very close."
Shemri grimaces slightly. Growing up as a loner (excepting Shiikaa, of course) hasn't prepared her well for this leadership stuff. She has enough trouble coordinating in a team as a subordinate. Still, she is the authority on Tategami and his tactics, and seeing as Sora isn't whipping forth any genius plans, Shemri's probably the best choice for giving the orders. "Very well…we cannot risk letting the caravan draw near them, there would be casualties. We must move quickly. I shall be the distraction, as well as the warning for the caravan. When I shout for them to flee, the Pride shall break cover and rush forward to keep from losing their prey. When they are close enough together, Shiikaa shall attack with his wind. You and Megami keep watch for any unexpected enemies and take them out if they appear. We must strike quickly and escape while they are disorganized."
Shiikaa slips away through the grass, and Shemri crawls toward a spot between the ambush point and the caravan. It's a nerve-wracking task, moving blindly and having to maintain stealth against an enemy force whose position one only vaguely knows, yet with the caravan fast approaching. Eventually, Shemri decides it's now or never. She springs up from the grass and sprints towards the caravan, gesturing wildly. "HOI, TURN AWAY!!! IT IS AN AMBUSH!!! FLEE!!!"
The caravan guards seem uncertain about whether to trust this report, but when the surprised and incensed shinobi of the Pride break cover and charge, they decide that they'd rather avoid the ambush in front of them and just hope it's not an elaborate ruse disguising an even bigger one. o.o; The caravan turns sharply and puts the lash to their horses. For a moment, it looks as though at least part of them will be caught anyway, but then a streak of black darts up into the air and unleashes a barrage of wind scythes at the charging bandits! They scatter to avoid the attacks, and the charge loses momentum.
Meanwhile, Sora and Megami can't be idle and watch. A kunoichi archer rises up from her hiding spot not too far from Sora, scowling and aiming an arrow at Shemri. And as Shiikaa drops back toward the ground, a sudden rustling speeds through the grass in his direction, culminating in an enormous atoneko leaping out at Shiikaa with jaws wide open!
Sora and Megami's strategy usually is to stagger their attacks during the ambush. So it's more of a two-fold attack from different directions. Sora keeps an eye on the guards charging towards Shemri, in case one of them has some trick behind their back. But it's Megami who sees the archer and dives down with a sharp, piercing cry. The archer would have to turn the arrow straight upwards to hit the falcon, and see against the sunlight, as Megami rakes at the scalp of the archer to send her off balance.
If anyone looks towards the hawk's shout, they'd hardly get time to take aim when a volley of shurikens, kunai, and senbon speed in a wide area towards them. Is it a group of badly aimed shinobi? From what direction? A second wave of projectiles would come. They're thrown one at a time, hitting and scattering the original projectiles so they're precisely aimed and coming from every direction. It's meant to hurt everyone, though not kill any one person. Then Sora would moving not be a static target, while Megami rises higher and higher out of reach.
The archer shrieks nearly as loudly as Megami when the talons find her head. The arrow flies wild, injuring one of the Pride rather than Shemri. This hardly goes noticed amidst the other projectiles, though. There is much cursing and pained cries amongst the mercenary nin as they are peppered with sharp cutlery. Not all of them fail to defend themselves, and amongst those who are hit, most receive only superficial wounds, but the attack certainly did the job of stopping the ambush! Not knowing where the assault is coming from or what might be next, they duck and mill about in a disorganized mass.
Shiikaa isn't having too much fun. Snatched out of the air by the much larger cat's jaws, he is shaken until his skin tears free of the teeth. ^x.x^ The atoneko circles, growling while Shiikaa picks himself up. Yeah, great to see you again too, you big furry cretin. ^>.<^; If Kizu recognizes Shiikaa, he doesn't show any fondness because of it. With a snarl, he pounces again, but this time, Shiikaa has a little surprise for him. With a swipe of his paw, he draws a slash across Kizu's maw, before the big cat's claws even come within reach. Wind chakra FTW. >3
Shemri looks around and takes stock of the situation. Caravan is escaping, bandits are disorganized…looks like it's time to vanish. But then, she sees him. Tategami himself, still charging forward, heedless of the missiles that have his lackeys pinned down…and it looks like he's alone. What was it Shemri was hoping for before? Catching him with just a few of his underlings around? This is a golden opportunity to solve the problem once and for all. She can't pass up this chance.
Shemri faces Tategami and crouches. She's gotten a lot stronger since the old days, but she doesn't doubt that Tategami has too, and she isn't foolish enough to believe she'd have good odds tangling with a brute like him head-on. Instead, she sends her sash creeping through the tall grass, circling out and around. As Tategami runs closer, Shemri can't help smirking. What a chump, he doesn't even stop to consider why she isn't moving. When the distance is right, Shemri's sash darts from the grass like a striking viper, aiming a kunai at Tategami's neck from the side!
*SHKTH!*There is a spray of blood, but it isn't Tategami's. Shemri watches in stunned slow-motion as a young kunoichi, probably around 16, jumps out from behind Tategami and takes Shemri's knife in her side. Then Shemri suddenly finds herself skidding through the grass after being smashed in the breadbasket. DX Tategami stomps after the dazed Suna nin and jerks her up by the ponytail. "ALL RIGHT, WHOEVER'S OUT THERE!!! IF YOU VALUE THIS ONE'S LIFE, SHOW YOURSELF NOW!!!"
Sora watches as the bulk of the attack is turned towards Shemri. Sora sees the criminal leader, and Shemri setting something up for him. At first Sora silently cheers Shemri on. Getting Tategami would be an invaluable win. But no… she has been too out in the open. Sora nearly shouts a warning before Shemri is captured. Her stomach does a flip as the situation quickly deteriorates. Maybe she can free her comrade… no, it'd be too slow. If only she had the right kind of trap jutsu, or even better, earth affinity. Her wind jutsus are not concentrated enough to hit with the pinpoint precision she'd need in a hostage situation. Should she call down Megami? Surely the two could make an escape, but the thought of leaving her comrade is repulsive. Shemri wouldn't, if they switched places. But what if she revealed herself? They might both be killed. After a moment of consideration, Sora gestures to Megami to go even higher, as out of sight as the falcon can get. Just in case.
All these thoughts would be translated as a very long silence. Well, she might as well try to get Shemri free without having to reveal herself. Her Camouflage is good enough, though not bulletproof when she's speaking. As she does now. Sora calls out, "Release our comrade and we'll withdraw. Otherwise she'll understand her sacrifice as this fight continues!"
Shemri feels pretty angry now. A fair bit at Tategami, of course, but mostly at herself. X( She should've known she was overreaching, taking Tategami on like that. What kind of leader doesn't stick to her own plan? Now she's stuck in the enemy's clutches, and everybody else could be caught too because of her. "Ngh…just *cough* go!" Shemri gasps, although considering how little breath she can muster it'll be a miracle if Sora can hear her. Tategami grins. "Oh, is that what you want? Because I'll tell you what will happen if we do that. We'll hunt you down within an hour. Hunting's our specialty, you know, and we always enjoy a good chase."
The shinobi of the Pride are starting to recover, and from the look of them, Tategami's boast is not an idle one. They're already beginning to fan out and search the tall grass for any hidden enemies. The archer from before in particular is aiming an arrow in Sora's general direction, waiting to see if she'll make a run for it.
"As much fun as we might have with that, I think you would be much better off giving up now," Tategami continues. "We don't kill our hostages lightly. In fact, nearly every member of our happy little family came to us much the same way you did. Takes a while to get used to the idea, but they usually come around in the end. What do you say? Better than being killed right here and now, isn't it?"
Shemri isn't so sure she thinks it would be better, particularly if she can take Tategami with her. >.< She struggles to marshall her chakra, and the sash stirs from the grass. It's too late now, though, because several of Tategami's underlings have rejoined their chieftain, and they pounce on the knife-wielding fabric. Tategami scowls and pins Shemri down into the dirt. He cuts the sash off and yanks it away. "Clever trick you have there. Should've known it had a purpose, no self-respecting shinobi would wear a stupid thing like that otherwise. Makes you look like a Sat…" Tategami trails off, peering closely at Shemri's profile. His expression goes slowly from puzzlement to fiendish glee. "…Little Squeak-Mouse? Oh-ho-ho, this is too good. Ruining my fun again after all these years? Well, Daddy and the rest of the clan aren't here to take your side now." >)
Kizu had looked over to see what was going on with his master, but he soon looked back to Shiikaa. If he understood that a chance to surrender was being offered, he didn't seem to care. He growled and pounced on Shiikaa again! *POOOOOF!* And gets a puff of air blasted through his whiskers as if he'd just popped a balloon. ^*.*^ Kitty wind clone! The real Shiikaa is making his escape through the long grass. He hates to leave Shemri too, but he knows from long experience that he's far more valuable as an unknown, striking when the enemy has their guard down. And as long as Tategami hasn't learned to listen to his kitty (which Shiikaa recalls he always seemed uninterested in), Kizu will be the only one who knows he's out here, right? ^c.c^
Sora is almost biting her fingers behind her cover which is a low shelf of rock. If Shemri dies right now, it is her fault. Either because she wouldn't give herself up, or because she'd failed to cover her better in the first way. At least Sora can negate one of those options. And the word "hostage" was a hopeful straw to grasp, but at least something to grasp. They wouldn't be in a hopeless situation as captives. Megami was still out there. But in the end, there really was no choice, was there? No matter what she thought, she would definitely take the path that kept Shemri alive.
Sora peers out from around her cover. As the cat makes a run for it, Sora stands up at the same time and waves her arms. Look at the shinobi, not the kitty! "Okay, okay," she says. She'd step out into the open with hands raised, and not resist anyone approaching her. She has a faintly rueful expression on her face, or at least she hopes she does. She doesn't care about these bandits, but she doesn't want Shemri to see her bawling or making a cowardly run for it. She adds as an afterthought, "We're the only two here." It'd be confirmed by the guards sweeping out to find her imaginary backup, or more precisely not finding them.
With the archer still covering Sora, several of the Pride lope over and start relieving her of her weapons. They also bind her so that she can't use handseals. "Welcome to the clan," one of them mutters. "Be a good little girl and you'll be out of these bonds in no time." The archer scowls, but relaxes her bowstring. Meanwhile, Tategami directs some of his other lackeys in binding Shemri. "Arms and legs, good and tight," he orders. "I know this one, she's stubborn. She's gonna take some strong convincing." Shemri's glares leave little doubt of how right he is. >.<
Tategami turns around and looks down at the girl who took Shemri's kunai earlier. "Oh, didn't hit anything vital, huh? Good. Bandage her up and let's go." Several of the others go to lift the injured kunoichi, while Tategami heads off to lead the clan away.