Date: October 4, 2012
The hunt for the poacher is coming to a close. However, the hummingbirds of Museigan and their human allies learn that there is much more to the plot, and a lot more at stake.
"Hummingbirds of Museigan - Keep Your Word"
Museigan Forest – Haha Islands
It took them only a minute to ascend the tall peak, and up top it levels out flatly, with a crown of trees that are thick as towers. In them are carved holes as if giant woodpeckers had hollwed them out where the birds reside. It's impregnable. Someone would have to run up a near vertical wall with attacks raining down on them to harm the birds. And while the forest floor is a mass of flowers, here it's thick clouds. Hummingbirds extracting nectar. The three hummingbirds land in a hollow the size of a cafeteria.
Mushi grins at Shintaro. "Fun, huh?" she asks. "It's amazing up here. The hummingbirds drink the nectar of thousands of flowers per day, each. But they also drink the chakra that flows up from the earth into these flowers. Spreading chakra and pollen throughout the forest. They're it's natural caretakers, and stayed when all the other animals left."
The poacher is dropped with a graceless thump. Kiramki alights on a perch the size of a branch as the other birds leave to report. "That is correct," she says in a musical, trilling voice. "We sensed the forest needed us, so long ago we stayed as even the Cat Clan and other Clans abandoned it. And as they did, the forest and mountains have shrunk. If we leave it will vanish entirely. I take it you have come to try and open a summoning contract with me, Mushi. I can see it in your mind and heart. But it's too late. You should have accepted it in humility, not come thirsty for power."
Mushi says, "Wait! No. I'm not hungry for power. There's…there's people I need to help, and I'm too weak to do so."
Kirameki tilted her head, bird-like. "We do not offer it to humans who seek it," she says. "I am sorry."
Shintaro looks around as they fly up to the peak. This is quite an amazing perspective to see things from. As Mushi starts to explain, he looks over to her and listens intently. This is like something one would only hear about in a legend. As the bird begins to speak as well, the Jounin looks over to it and listens to what it has to stay. So, this place used to be bigger. It makes one wonder how enormous this island would have been in the time of the dinosaurs, maybe even the size of the Land of Fire or Wind.
As Mushi seems to get in over her head with her failure to think ahead again, Shintaro looks between her and the birds. While he'd thought he would simply be able to stay out of this, looks like he's going to have to save her on this too. "The fact that she came seeking your help shows humility, does it not? If she seeks your help for selfless reasons, to aid in helping others, rather than for simply aid in combat as most who seek a summoning contract do, does that not make her cause much more noble than one simply thirsting for power?"
Mushi looks to Shintaro not with innocent gratitude. There's a smirk on her face, and a clever gleam in her eyes. She knew Shintaro would speak better for her than she ever could. Self-compliments came hard to Mushi in the worst possible moments, even when it all hinged on making her seem better. She turns to Kirameki and says bluntly, "This is no vague philosophy I wish for, Kirameki-san. I'll be honest. I may be in trouble with the Land of Water, because I tried to help the Jinchuuriki master her bijuu by taking her outside the village walls. She was returned, but I may be in trouble. I want…no, I need you to lend me your power so I can leave there quickly. I don't want to die. Not yet."
Kirameki starts preening herself and then murmurs, "You are a stupid human. You should have let your mate speak. You only cause me trouble." She sighs and says, "Very well. You will undergo the trial after you help us with a problem. This human distracted us, with his antics and as we flew out he abducted several of our young. One of them is my child. And I sense that she is outside of this mountain. The hummingbirds wish to go, but the leader has wisely kept us here. We could start a war by attacking and accusing the humans. You must go and find her—them."
Mushi blinks. Then she says grimly, "I will."
As Mushi speaks up again, Shintaro glances over to her and lifts an eyebrow slightly. Bringing her problems to them before even signing the contract really isn't that bright an idea, but she is the one trying to get obtain this, so he doesn't interrupt her. After all, it's her character that they will want to see. The Jounin glances between his love and the birds as they speak, eyes narrowing slightly at the mention of the poacher kidnapping some of the flock's young. Someone like that having access to raise such creatures could prove to really be a bad thing, so this is a problem for human and hummingbird-alike. "Can you sense where they are, or do I need to beat it out of him?"
"We must question him," Kirameki says. She'd wait until several more hummingbirds come back to bear witness. And then, the poacher starts stirring. But before he can fully regain consciousness the wood warps, growing branches at an accelerated pace and wrapping around him. Then extending over the edge and a half mile drop. He wakes up in much the same position he was carried, and lets out a yelp of sheer terror. But the branch is wound around him like a snake so no matter how he struggles he cannot move. Mushi doesn't look pitying at all.
Then, Kirameki speaks. Though she is not the oldest or the largest she seems to carry some weight in this matter. "Human, you will tell us where our children are," she says. "My Clan will allow you to leave this forest alive if you do. If not, you will fall."
Is he going to hold out? The poacher is staring at the ground with bulging eyes. "A ship came in just awhile ago," he says quickly. "We've already stored the hummingbirds onboard. When it leaves, it will sell them on the black market for a fortune. There's a regional lord who collects exotic animals. But they were mostly as bait, to let you leave the forest. That's all! Please let me go!"
Mushi leans to Shintaro and murmurs, "Brave man."
Shintaro watches with some amusement as the hummingbirds trap and dangle the poacher from a rather precarious position. Too bad they don't just drop him where he is now as he would deserve. It would be rather amusing to watch him splatter. The man is rather quick to give up the plan, which brings a smirk to the Jounin's face as he looks over to Mushi and gives a nod. "Indeed." He reaches over to grab her hand and give it a squeeze before looking up back to the hummingbirds. "If you could drop us somewhere closer to the shore, we can make it to the ship before it leaves."
Quick as a flash, Mushi dives forward. She grabs the man by his leg, gritting her teeth. There's cries of alarm from the birds. She looks back to Kirameki and says, "I know how you value to keep your word, Kirameki," she says, "and you probably had to shoulder this burden. But your clan or yourself shouldn't need to break your word." She looks at the man who is staring at Mushi with pure gratitude. Mushi says, "Well, I saved you. So answer me. Who is your contact?"
The man says, "Shiro Takada, and his first and second mate. Oh Kami thank you for—ahhhh!" Mushi has let go of him. /Now/ he plummets to his death. Mushi stands with her lips pressed tightly together. Then she looks down with a moment of reflection. "Sorry, but I never gave my word poacher-san," she says and sighs. Then she turns to the stunned birds and says, "Can you give us a lift to the edge of the forest? That ship leaves tomorrow morning." Only Shintaro would know the truth; it leaves tonight. "We have that long left."
And quickly as that they're zipped back. Mushi is silent even when they land, her eyes lost in thought. Kirameki once again is the last to stay. She says, "Mushi…I spoke on your behalf and proposed this plan. If this fails I will lose what trust I have built with the elders. But more importantly if you fail to get our children by tomorrow never return to this forest. No, this island."
Mushi nods. "I'll do this. And Shintaro-kun is a powerful ally. He'll help."
Kirameki says, "Yes, he is a good boyfriend." Then she'd fly away as Mushi gapes and then shouts, "You awful birds! You kept on calling him my mate! If you knew what a boyfriend was…argh." She starts descending the mountain.
Shintaro watches as Mushi actually saves the poacher, tilting his head slightly. He remains silent through the exchange, rather curious as to what Mushi will do. When she actually drops the guy to his death, he raises his eyebrows slightly in surprise. It's the first time he's actually seen her kill someone or even actually purposely harm in combat. That was actually kind of hot…
He rides back toward the shore with her, remaining silent during the exchange between Mushi and the bird. The final exchange, however, brings a light chuckle from him before he turns to start going down the mountain as well. "Animals do tend to have a keen sense about things," he says teasingly.
As they descend the mountain Mushi looks hesitantly to Shintaro. Then she says, "You don't seem to…taken aback. I killed someone. I tell people I'm not an angel, but they always look shocked when my halo flickers out. Nor do I regret what I did." She doesn't say it defensively. In fact, she almost says it defiantly. She looks down at her hands, and notices…they're not trembling. Some part of her wants to feel sick, and in the back of her mind she does feel a little uncomfortable, but not much and nothing compared to the satisfaction of it. He'd deserved to fall, if anyone did.
Then, she shoves it from her mind. She has something more important to do than nurse her feelings. "I lied. They leave tonight, but you probably know that. I just…if we said tonight they may come out earlier than we can succeed, they may come out of the forest. I want a little grace time. I plan to get those kiddos back by tonight. Remember, Shiro Takada. I remember the name of the first mate, Yokoya. And…Roku or something is the second mate." We'll divide and conquer. Sneak into the ship, you're better with stealth. Find them. I'm going in town to make sure there are no loose ends, see if some of them are loitering. 'kay?"
"I'm a shinobi, my love," Shintaro replies with a smirk. "One who's done things terrible enough during war that Kirigakure labeled me the 'Shadow Demon'. That part of you doesn't bother me." He pauses for a moment before saying, "Your dangerous side is actually pretty sexy."
That would be his last comment before they get onto conversation about the task at hand. "Rikumo," he says with a nod. "I'm on it." With that, he moves to duck into the shadows and meld to them to move unseen toward the ship.
Mushi heads into town. And she starts searching the public areas swiftly. There are stores, inns, all kinds of places. And it takes her a full ten minutes to finally find one of them. It's Yokoya walking down a public street. Mushi circles around, looking for a relatively clear space. But he never goes into a completely deserted area. So she'd carefully place a tag in a slightly less crowded area. And as he comes walking down the street it'd go off with a loud crack. Every head turns in that direction. And Mushi would come up to the man from behind and jab a hand into his back. She successfully paralyzes the man, grabs him and leaps silently onto a rooftop. Then she proceeds to tie him up and gag him. She needs to get to a more secure location.
After discreetly making his way onto the ship, Shintaro looks around and spots a feather lying on the deck of the ship. That is a definite sign that he's in the right place… He turns and makes his way into a room on the first floor, spotting the second mate of the crew and two other crewman. Well, this is interesting. May as well give these guys the beating they deserve while he's here. Bringing his hands up, the Jounin forms his hands into a seal, sending his shadow out to send tendrils at each man to pierce through their bodies in several places and bind them down. "Evening, gentlemen. I believe your trip has been delayed.”
Mushi takes out a scroll and grins to the man. "Be thankful I'm not harming you more than this," she says, before rolling him like a log onto the scroll. She makes a few seals, and then he'd vanish in a puff of steam. The scroll would roll back up of its own accord. Mushi ties off and stuffs the man — the scroll — in her pocket for now. Then she'd go in search of the rest of the village to see if she can find Rikumo or the Captain. She's struggling to keep her anger under control. And now that she's alone she's thinking of the fall that man had taken. If she'd had more time to think…could she have done something else?
She sighs and drums her fists against her head. "Concentrate, Nikumari." She'd search but for now not find much more. So she turns in the direction of the ship. Shintaro might need her help, but if he's being sneaky she doesn't want to interrupt his thing. So she goes into an alley with the ship in sight, resolving to wait for a bit.
After capturing the thugs with Shadow Sewing, Shintaro begins to move his hands through seals. A moment later, he breathes out a stream of fire at them, directing it to blast all three of them. While it does make contact, it doesn't quite finish them, and thus he brings a shell of shadow up over his body to deflect incoming sharp objects. "Got a little fire to you, eh? Guess I'll just have to make you extra crispy."
Mushi resolved to wait ten minutes. She almost gets to forty seconds before heading in. She's coming Shintaro! However, it's the animal room she gets into first, the normal ones. She frowns when she sees the poor animals in there. Though it may be legal that they take these ones, these ones came from the forest. She takes out a pill, bites down, and shoots out a cloud powder to wreathe the animals, putting them to sleep. Then she'd be storing them up too. Holding living things doesn't last too long for her for some reason so she'll have to transport them post haste after this.
She heads up and soon hears the commotion within the cafteria. As soon as she enters she's being grabbed by Rikumo, and the man holds a kunai to her throat, glaring at Shintaro. Mushi blinks. Then she'd raise her fist and slam it into the man's face back handed. He'd fall unconscious. She looks at him, perplexed. "That…was I supposed to knock him out?" she asks Shintaro sheepishly.
Normal urge is to leap in to save the day when the girl is attacked. However, Shintaro only smirks as he watches Mushi pound his face in. He drops his hands and walks over to where Mushi and the downed bandits are. "I like when you get all violent," he responds with a smirk. "That's fine." He looks down at the unconscious bandits and chuckles a bit before looking back up to her. "Shall we investigate the lower deck then?"
Mushi smiles and nods. "It's going to be okay," she says, though she almost makes it a question. So they head down the ship stealthily and manage to avoid any more confrontations. At the bottom Mushi closes her eyes, and seems to listen. Then she'd point to the end of the hallway with a reinforced door, and smirk. "So subtle," she says. She goes to the door and presses her ear against it, listening. "Different breaths, lots," she says. "I'd say…five. I think they're the birds." She opens the door and there would be cages of amazing size with hummingbirds of enormous size, though not quite as gargantuan as many of their parents. They look miserable, and none meet the eye of the captain standing there now glaring at the two strangers. Everywhere there are explosive tags all over the bird's cages, and one could guess who had put them there.
"Where is Emishi?" he demands. "My man in the forest. He should have returned by now. You two…I know you've been snooping around in the forest and here. Tell me or I blow these birds to kingdom come."
Mushi has paled. She seems unable to speak, and stands there frozen.
Waiting patiently by the door as Mushi uses her enhanced senses to investigate, Shintaro stays silent. When she opens the door, he steps through with her and glances around at the trapped cages. He looks back to her and gives a nod, saying, "Emishi sent us to let you know how things were going." Of course, the speech is just a distraction to keep his attention on their faces as his shadow sneaks along the shadow of the cages to reach out and wrap up around his body. It would wrap around his body to the point of completely restraining him from moving or casting jutsu or activating his paperbombs.
The man is paralyzed, wrapped up in the full body bind completely. But as the shadow encircles him he'd poof. A shadow clone! And the real man would be standing in a corner, stepping out from behind the crates. He glares at the both of them and says, "Liars." Then he makes a seal. "I can see it all over their faces, especially hers. You killed my brother." The…the tags are fizzling! There's a horrified second of silence. Mushi is trying to channel her chakra but…no… "NO!" she screams, just before the tags would all detonate at once, engulfing the birds in fiery explosions that fill the room.