Date: July 26, 2011
Sora finds out what it's like to be a "cub" of the Pride.
"Hunting the Predator - Scrubs"
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.
A new day dawns, and the Pride goes about its business…which seems to include reeducating Sora. Shemri is…well, there seems to be some plan for her, but beyond having her basic needs taken care of and a guard posted to make sure she doesn't make any trouble, she's being largely ignored for now. Sora isn't permitted to stay with her, she's been assigned to learning-by-doing at the tribe's menial chores. The new guy always gets the worst jobs, huh?
Kitto, the young kunoichi who took an injury to save Tategami, is Sora's companion for the duties. Just now they're scrubbing through a pile of dirty laundry. "You have to keep at it for a long time, even through you can't tell they're getting any cleaner," Kitto explains, pushing a shirt down her washboard. "A hundred strokes for each garment, and you have to put your back into each — ow!" Kitto winces and clasps a hand to her still-sore shoulder. "Eheh…I guess I'm not the best example right now." n.n;
Sora is nervous about leaving Shemri alone. If she is being assigned to endless chores, is Shemri as well? Or is the bum not even being punished yet and slacking off? The thought makes Sora snicker. She's actually been quite good at the work, having done it more than once. Though she does grumble to herself now and then. She's a shinobi, a Chuunin, and here she is doing something more menial than an E-rank mission. She resolves to never be captured ever again, lest her fingers fall off.
When Kitto winces, Sora says, "If you're hurting, you'll only slow down. Take a few minutes to sit down, and I'll continue." To prove that she can do just that Sora redoubles her efforts and would continue to do so if Kitto were to continue her break. As she works with a kind of violent determination on the clothes, Sora says, "You know, there's always someone who needs to do the dirty laundry. But somehow everything here seems a bit…forced. Labor, not chores. Don't you get tired of it?" Literally, since her shoulder is hurting.
Kitto settles back uncomfortably. "Well, um…I guess that'd be okay…" Kitto sighs and lets the rhythm of Sora's scrubbing hypnotize her eyes. "It's really not that bad," she says. "For a family, I guess it's kinda strict, but for a ninja band, we're actually pretty relaxed. I've heard stories from the others, about how they had to do all sorts of rough training before they joined the Pride. Sometimes even really humiliating stuff, to prove their loyalty to a daimyou on a silken throne."
Kitto sighs. "To tell the truth, though, I am getting kind of tired of being treated like a kid. I almost never get watch duty or hunting or anything, just cleaning and cooking and stuff. I was hoping Tategami-sama would notice me after yesterday, but…here I am again. I guess I have to try harder." Kitto sets her face in a determined scowl. "Speaking of which…" Kitto grabs her washboard and starts scrubbing again with almost the same violence as Sora, grunting with pain at each stroke. >.<;
Sora's eyes darken as Kitto explains their organization. "No true leader would ask their followers to do something that would bring shame to them." She sighs. Perhaps that's not something that she should say here as a prisoner, but somehow it seems important. She glances over her shoulder just to make sure no one overheard her.
As she continues to wash the laundry, Sora says, "At least that's what I think. In my clan, I take note of my followers who show talent…either through natural training or hard work." She hangs up a shirt. "You're getting nowhere fast though. Think about it. I just joined you at this, and if you redouble your efforts they'll attribute the greater amount of work done to me. I'd get all the credit. This isn't a very fair system, is it?" She smiles grimly.
Kitto scrubs stubbornly, focusing her mind on counting so she doesn't have to come up with a response. 94, 95, 96, 97 — "Ahhhh!" A particularly searing flash of pain forces Kitto to drop her garment into the washbasin. A few others glance over. "Hey, you all right over there? You need Kinshu?" one of them calls out. "I'll be okay!" Kitto responds through gritted teeth. >.<; The others shrug and go about their business.
Kitto scowls at Sora. "What do you know about us? You only got here yesterday and you're picking on how we do laundry. Is that the best you can come up with?" Kitto lifts her chin. "Well, I've been in the Pride since I was little. Tategami-sama took me in after my clan was scattered in a night raid. You oughta be even more thankful, he let you live after you attacked us." >P
Ugh. Sora looks at Kitto with actual respect this time. Someone who can be swayed by the discontent that comes from dirty laundry is no one to admire. And it seems that Kitto was picked up on far more favorable odds than many of those here. No wonder she's loyal. She grins. "Those are good words," she says. "Though if you've been here since you were little, I wonder why you're still on the lowest rung. Or how long it'll take to climb up."
"But you're right, I was spared. To live a happy life among these women." She rolls her eyes. "Still, I have a plan. Today we'll do this. You were wrong not to go to Kinshu just now. Go to her at the end of the day, and complain about your injury, ask her to fix ya up. Say it was hard work to compensate for the lack of the insolent newbie. But promise that you'll whip me into shape, no matter what it takes. The next day we'll work twice as hard and when they see you're a person who can whip an insolent newcomer into shape, you'll be noticed a lot more than you are right now."
"But in return for this favor…promise me that you'll understand I don't say my words lightly. Right from the beginning, I've noticed the motivations here aren't always noble or even decent. Still, you seem like a nice person, so I don't mind giving you a leg up."
Kitto rolls her eyes. "Yeah, right. Like anyone'll believe that. The newcomer gets turned into a model student by the injured kid." Kitto picks up her garment and carefully resumes scrubbing. "Thanks for trying, though," she mutters.
Having finished the current article, Kitto hangs it up and starts on a new one. "I'm the lowest because I'm the youngest," she says. "I never said I wanted to be second-in-command or anything. I just want to be a lioness instead of a cub, y'know? The Pride's all I've got. My old family…" Kitto bites her lip and scrubs purposefully. "Well, they're all gone. Dunno if any of them survived, and if they did, they wouldn't know me anymore. No use thinking about it." c.c
Sora gives a shrug. It was worth a shot. People believed what they wanted to believe, it might be worth a try. "Ah well," she says. "If ya say so, but I bet it'd work." She looks Kitto up and down, and has to suppress a smile. After all, their situations are quite different. "It's strange how age works here, I'm actually head of my clan. I suppose Kai will have to do the paperwork while I'm gone." That does make her smirk, imagining that man sitting behind a desk. That's what leadership roles come down to much of the time. Paperwork.
Her expression turns somber when Kitto mentions her family. She considers using this as some angle to pitch her story, but opts against it. Personally, she just can't do it. So she says, "I bet they'd remember you. If they are alive, I know they'd be thinking about you. No one can forget family, even if they try." That last sentence is said almost to herself, as she stares down at the unwashed clothes. Ugh. She gestures to Kitto. "Your shoulder…I don't have healing chakra, but if your back is out of place, I can pop it back. I've had to do it a few times. Or go see a medic before you collapse."
Kitto gives Sora an incredulous look. "You, a clan head? Ha! Y'know, we have joke contests around the campfire sometimes, you really should give it a shot." :P Kitto rolls her shoulder carefully. "Ngh, it's not out of place, just still healing. I think I will go see Kinshu-san, though. It was stupid of me to force it." Kitto gets up and heads for the infirmary tent…leaving Sora with the remaining mountain of laundry.