Date: September 30, 2011
The Pride purposely gives Sora a "chance" to escape.
"Hunting the Predator - Evasion"
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.
Another day, another type of training for Sora's induction into the Pride. This time, though, things probably won't be as pleasant as before. She won't be scrubbing garments with the Pride's 'baby sister', or grinding herbs with the 'den mother'. Her tutor today is Hiyayaka, the archer who took such a 'shine' to Sora before.
Hiyayaka leads Sora away from the camp, with an escort of a few other kunoichi. They are all lean, lithe specimens with no-nonsense looks about them. Hiyayaka walks in silence for quite some time, until they're out of sight of the camp. Finally, she stops and speaks. "This is going to be the most important part of your education. Today you learn why nobody leaves the Pride." Hiyayaka signals to the other kunoichi, who turns their backs on Sora. "Go. Run. Hide. Do whatever. You have five minutes."
Sora watched Hiyayaka with wary eyes the moment she was sent to the woman. There was bad blood between them after all…supposedly. But now she supposed the woman viewed her as a comrade…supposedly. She looked around for Shemri, but clearly the other woman didn't want to take part in this. Or wasn't allowed to. When Hiyayaka gives instructions, Sora actually smiles; she'd laugh almost. She supposes pitting her far from the camp was to give her some illusion that she could escape when they were obviously on high alert.
Should she try to run? Or at least bloody them a little? Well…she might have to try to escape the real thing soon. She snatches up a rock, little more than a wind-smoothed pebble, as if that'll do her any good. Then, she runs. And she can run fast. She has over a mile by the time the limit is up, and she still hasn't broken a sweat. And by the end she slips behind a small boulder, crouching down and folding up her slim frame to hide behind it. Waiting.
Do the members of the Pride really wait for a full five minutes? Maybe, maybe not. It's hard to tell, maybe they shaved off a minute or two for 'It's not gonna make any difference anyhow' type reasoning. Regardless, the result from Sora's perspective is that they're on her trail pretty quick. A rustling in the grass gradually becomes audible, approaching Sora's hiding place. The sound of swiftly parting grass grows closer, the direction it comes from difficult to pinpoint, and then…it stops. Silence falls over the plains once more, apart from the sighing of the wind. For a little while, anyway. "Heeeeere little kitten," comes Hiyayaka voice, yowling with eerie feline-ness. "Big sister wants to plaaaaaay." >3
What some might expect is stealth. Instead, a huge wind whips up. It blows sand in every direction, sets the grass to shaking, and fills the air with noise. Someone would recognize it as a messy use of wind chakra. And Sora would be listening, for any sound of a gasp or a cry of fright, to give away the other's location whether open or hidden. Or even worse, complete silence, if they were all very stalwart at ambushing their prey. By now Sora wouldn't be behind a boulder. She was crouching in the grasses, though a different swath than Hiyayaka. There's not a tuft of bent grass to give her away, and the wind has washed away all the footprints.
Hiyayaka lays low while the wind chakra whips sand and grass shoots around the plain. As it subsides, she begins to stalk slowly through the brush. "Big sister doesn't like little kittens that throw tantrums," she remarks. "They get a time-out. Is that what you want? A time-out in the naughty corner?" Hiyayaka stops and draws an arrow from her quiver. "Besides…big sister can throw even bigger tantrums." Hiyayaka fires the arrow high into the sky. It comes back down some distance from Sora, a tag wrapped around it glowing just before it comes to earth. It releases a large concussive blast, no fire involved, but it flattens the grass for several meters around. Hiyayaka launches several more of these arrows around the vicinity.
No sooner has the archer loosed her last arrow than Sora rises up behind her from what little standing grass remains. It's behind Hiyayaka, in her blind spot, though a skilled archer knows enough to be wary of that area. Sora doesn't make a feeble attempt at attacking with her rock. Instead, a strip of cloth snakes out fast as a whip, the same bandages that encircle her arms. Instead of trying to trip Hiyayaka up she'd aim right at the bow, to ensnare it and yank it to Sora's hands. It's been her strategy. Taking out that woman's bow and arrow, and then seeing if she can outrun them. Yeah. Right. But it's worth a try. "So this is what it's like to have sisters," she says bitterly. "It feels so…genuine."
Loosing shafts at such a high angle, Hiyayaka's bow is an easy target even from behind. Hiyayaka whirls around as it's yanked from her grasp, her face bearing an expression of surprise and outrage. It doesn't take long for her to regain her composure, though. "Cute. In an actual hunt, of course, the others would spring on you the second you showed yourself. Even now, I could signal for them to come, and it would just be a matter of chasing you a little further." Hiyayaka draws a kunai and crouches slightly. "But I told them to wait, because I want you to feel the despair of escaping from the Pride. I want you to know that it only takes one of us to catch you." Hiyayaka sprints towards Sora. "Just as it only took Tategami-sama to catch me!"
"We'll see about that," Sora says, with a note of her own bravado that hadn't, apparently, been stamped out of her. "I have faith in my stubbornness." She uses her hands to snap the bow in two, rendering it useless even if Hiyayaka should get it back. She chucks one of the pieces right at Hiyayaka's head, but doesn't otherwise try to evade any attack until Hiyayaka is within range. Then, a whirlwind would kick up, propelling Sora away and hopefully catching Hiyayaka off guard by blowing her back. Either way, it kicks up a huge spray of sand and dust.
It sprays against her face, but Sora doesn't hesitate in whipping around and running full tilt across the sand. Despite being a prisoner, she had done sit ups and exercises for a little every night, since they hadn't bothered to tie her up, to make sure her legs hadn't worn out. And she knew how to run across the sand without it slowing her progress much though, of course, anyone in the desert would practice that. She's slowed just a little by the occasional glance behind her, though she's using her ears and senses to detect the woman more than her eyes. It's not like some triumphal or graceful flight for freedom by some speed genius. She's just a skinny girl moving with a surprising speed for a person her age.
Hayayaka's temper takes over again for a moment. "Hey!!! You're making me a new bow when we get back, and you can bet the first dozen you make won't be good enough!" >.<; Hiyayaka ducks to avoid the fragments of wood, then is lost to the obscuring sand-spray. A moment later she appears again, chasing after Sora like a seasoned cross-country runner. "You're no slowpoke," she calls out, "but I doubt you can outlast me. Even before I joined the Pride, I was a top-notch man-hunter."
Keeping track of Hayayaka by means of hearing doesn't seem like it'll be difficult, because she appears to be in a talkative mood. "I could track by the faintest signs, run for hours, and sneak up on my quarry like their own shadow. That's why I was hired to eliminate Tategami-sama." Uh-oh, looks like another of those How-I-Joined-the-Pride stories. "I stalked the Pride for weeks, until Tategami-sama went off on his own to hunt. I thought it was my golden chance, following him through the woods while his focus was on a big deer. When he seemed ready to strike, I took up a position covering the stag, figuring I could shoot him as he went for the kill. The next thing I knew, he was on top of me with a knife at my throat — "
Suddenly the surroundings shift, and it becomes apparent that Sora just ran in a big circle — AND HIYAYAKA POUNCES AT HER! "LIKE THIS!!!" >D
Sora sighs when she hears how Hayayaka joined the Pride. "If this was you one time," she called back, "wasn't there a time you still wanted to escape, like me!? Stop following m—" She is caught in mid-word when she suddenly senses Hiyayaka alarmingly close to her. Speed? No. Genjutsu! Sora has good reflexes though, and dodges back rapidly. She's biting her lip so hard it's drawing blood; clearly, she's fought genjutsu users before. And just as clearly, from her reckless defense, she has no genjutsu skill herself. Just taijutsu…which is hopefully enough. She clutches at the other half of the bow stick as she leaps into the air and comes down on Hayayaka. She uses the speed of her downward fall to aim a crushing blow at the woman's head. "You're strong," she says, "so aid me!" Then with real anger in her snarl, she demands, "Or is it you've forgotten how to be a kunoichi?"
Hiyayaka frowns slightly when Sora evades her. She hasn't failed to catch anyone with that trick since…the time she tried to escape the Pride. >.<; Why must this girl bring up such embarassing memories? >P Sora's counter-attack, at least, makes Hiyayaka smirk. She has more than enough speed to dodge such an obvious assault — or she would, except Sora's question about being a kunoichi distracts her from movement for a split-second. Gritting her teeth, Hiyayaka takes the blow with an overhead cross-block instead. "S-shut up! I've become a better kunoichi under Tategami-sama!" Hiyayaka pushes Sora back, or maybe it would be more accurate to say she pushes off Sora to move herself back a bit. "If I can't surpass him, it's only natural that I have to continue serving him…isn't it!?"
Just then, an arrow hits the ground in between them. The other kunoichi who'd accompanied them earlier come loping along, bows and other weapons drawn. "Wh…what are you doing here!?" Hiyayaka yells. "You were taking a while, so we thought we'd better come see," one of them explains as they approach. "Looks like it's a good thing we — " "I would've been fine!" Hiyayaka snaps. "A few more minutes and…gah! Look, just get her back to camp!" >.< The others give their pouting leader mildly dubious looks, but comply with the directive to escort Sora 'home'.
Hiyayaka lingers behind, searching the tall grass until she locates the other half of her broken bow. "…So that's what Great Village ninja are like, huh?"
Sora actually smirks as Hiyayaka blocks the blow. To an amateur, it might've been a fractured skull. But she had to go all out to even get a hit on this woman. "Tategami made you better?" she says, softly and calm, despite the fact that she's doing her best to beat Hiyayaka up. "We both know that's not true. A proper leader teaches their followers to surpass them one day. Tategami is doing everything to keep especially you weak enough to—yow!" She exclaims as the arrow thuds down between them. Quick as that, the fight is over. Sora is looking around and seeing not one bow, but many. No amount of bandages is going to disarm them. Besides, she'd only succeeded with the element of surprise.
She considers then trying some ploy to escape. She's fast; she could use that to her advantage. She raises her hand…and then examines her nails idly, as if they're of more importance than anything else. "Well, I'm not in the mood today to escape today," she says nonchalantly, dusting some sand off her shoulder. "It's a bit warm." And she'd head back with them, though she can't really hide the fact that blood is now running down her chin. She wipes it away.