Date: March 7, 2014
Sunagakure accepts an invitation to a deadly game of kick the can.
"Kick the Can"
Training Area #26 - Genin Training [Konohagakure]
A-rank: Mesahin Darei, a particularly dangerous Garatsuku Asylum escapee with a penchant for games, has sent Sunagakure another "invitation to play". This time he has given a tip-off about a slave-trading ring smuggling victims across the border. Opinion is divided in the Land of Wind's authority as to whether Darei should be apprehended or neutralized, as his actions thus far have contributed to the mopping up of other criminal elements. The official word handed down is that rescuing hostages takes first priority, capturing or killing the slavers is second, and preventing Darei from escaping is a side goal to be pursued if there appears to be a high chance of success without endangering the primary objectives.
It's happened again. The Sunagakure Jounin Council was sent a tip-off letter referring to a game:
You are cordially invited to a game of Kick the Can at the Awarege Cliffs in three days' time. This game has been ongoing for some time and the "It" team has already accumulated quite a crowd of prisoners, whom they are transporting for sale. Your objective is to free this group of prisoners by kicking the proverbial can, as well as those of the "It" team. They're a little fuzzy on the rules, I've tried to explain to them that they need to retrieve the can before taking prisoners again, but they seem too thick to grasp it, so we'll just go with a free-for-all modification, hm? I look forward to the competition.
This sort of invitation is the known modus operandi of Mesahin Darei, a game-obsessed shinobi who escaped from Garatsuku Asylum. The mission assignment which resulted from this letter? FIRST! Rescue the prisoners mentioned! SECOND! Apprehend the "It" team, who from the description are most likely slavers! THIRD! IF a golden opportunity arises, capture Darei as well, but don't take any significant risks about it. There's actually some contention amongst the higher-ups about whether that last one is really necessary considering his actions since escaping have only led to the downfall of other criminal elements, which is partly why it's been handed down with a condition. There are some mutterings that Sousa, though well-known for making unintuitive decisions which usually work out well in the end, is in favor of letting Darei run unchained in the Land of Wind because he amuses him. }/
Games… Kuoroke doesn't like games. This particular kind of games disgust him, and it was quite clear as he briefed his team about the events, while moving, of course, as it's harder to eavesdrop on people moving rapidly through the desert, and as it saves time. He's just about done providing some background information on the person and explaining the general geographical layout as they arrive at the cliffs discussed. He turns to his team. "From now on, be ready for any engagement. Ayumu, you're our long-range detection. Stay in the center of the formation. Yuuto, rear. You're mid- and short-range detection. Send out some scouts, keep the area immediately around us canvased closely. Akina, Katama, right and left. Keep an eye out, too. I'll take fore. Let's go see if we have somewhere to set up an attack."
When it comes to the antics of the insane, there's perhaps none more familiar than Yuuto himself… mainly because he's accustomed to playing the same kind of games and/or pranks. Given his special ability that he uses the mask and armor that Kuoroke helped him custom-prepare, he hopes to be able to get to one step ahead of Darei and at least pin-point his whereabouts if not attempt to bring him in. As instructed, he stands in the center of the group, holding a scroll that he has many creatures already drawn on, but he's apparently preparing even more. He's silent as as he does this, only offering a nod or responding when necessary as he is busy getting his art prepared for annihilation.
Awarege Cliffs were known to him and kin alike, but not once has the Iga been there personally. With that being the case, the red-haired wonder bore more than just the expected supplies (light or heavy based on prior instructions) upon his back, but what few maps and notes regarding the area he managed to snap up before the team was sent out. By the time of their arrival Ayumu had a relative good idea of what to expect; especially with Kuoroke's more fluent assistance along the way.
"Right-o, Bosh man." Ayumu drawls out before giving a cheery salute. Then, Ayumu discretely went to work. Discretely, because there was no point in unnerving the possible more squeamish of the group with his 'upchucking' eye balls and the like. In a few minutes the cliffside and sands becomes riddled with the Iga's spy network, though the latter less so due to interference. If along the way he manages to spy a place that >could< work as an ambush point, Kuoroke would be notified first before Ayumu slipped back into position.
Katama, in full armor, let out a 'Hup!' when instructed to her position. Her armor would come in handy in close combat, though with Ayumu and Yuuto there, her combat skills might be lacking more than useful. She kept following, hands easily within her sword's hilts range in case of attack. Her crimson eyes watched the area as they passed, searching for anything that might hinder or help them.
It's not hard to detect the slavers, really. They don't want to be found, obviously, but they're not expecting anybody way out here in the middle of nowhere. After a long day of driving their human cattle along in the shadow of the cliffs, they've set up camp in a small alcove of the cliffside. The slaves are huddled in a miserable circle with several of the slavers watching them, the rest of the slavers are cooking and roistering around a campfire…and a certain black-haired bishounen is sitting a bit apart from the others, eyes set on an empty bean can left out in the open near the prisoners with a smile of quiet anticipation.
"Right… this guy's expecting us. Most likely, so are the others." Kuoroke says, as he leads them to a peak from which they can see the group. "No fun for him if they don't have an edge…" He analyses the layout of the area. "Alright, first priority, protect the civilians… Second, round those guys up as soon as possible…" His eyes stay on the area. "Yuuto, send one of your creations away. Cause a disturbance. Enough for a skilled ninja looking for us to notice and be distracted. Perhaps even drawn away. Everyone else, move to the top of the cliff above them, find a position where you have line of sight of me. If Yuuto can distract Darei, move down as quickly as you can and incapacitate the slavers as quickly as possible. I'll keep Darei occupied."
With his scroll prepared, Yuuto looks up to Kuoroke and listens to the plan. A simple nod is given as he sets the scroll down and brings his hands into a seal. A moment later, what appears to be a biped chimera with Yuuto's face rises from the page and begins running off into the distance. Once far enough away, the creature would fly up into the air enough that it can be easily seen from a distance and let out a massive roar, followed by a quick handseal where it lets forth what appears to be a Great Fireball Technique that lights up the area in front of it… except it's black for some reason?
Katama nodded and moved to obey. She perched on a smallish outcropping that was covered in shadow and waited. She kept a line of sight with Kuoroke as instructed, but kept to the shadows, lest her armor glint in the sun. Yuuto's 'distraction' is quite the show and Katama smirks, wondering if it will work. Her eyes flick between Kuoroke and the slavers below, picking her targets carefully.
"It'd be disappointing too." Ayumu comments at one point or another as they made their way to the peak. Beyond that however the Iga stayed uncharacteristically silent, and yet relaxed like usual despite what the mission promised. Regardless, Ayumu followed Kuoroke's instruction. Kind of. He did sort of, kinda immediately laid down on his back, closed his eyes, and placed his hands over his gut as if to sleep right then and there. It is a feat made impossible due to Yuuto's action, but the Iga did his best to stay focused… on observing the enemies movement from a comfortable position, not actually sleeping. >.>
Well now, that certainly turned a lot of heads. X) The slavers all shout to each other in alarm, and the little camp becomes as chaotic as a stomped anthill. The men all grab their weapons, and the security around the slaves tightens. "Who's out there!? Show yourselves!" yells one slaver, grabbing a prisoner by the arm and putting a blade to his throat. "We'll kill these stinking rats before you can take us, I swear!" Oh dear, looks like the situation has become complicated. Darei shakes his head and chuckles softly, not bothering to get up yet. Some of the bolder slavers start fanning out to look for the source of that flashy display. >.<
While the others move, Kuoroke prepares a scroll, attaches it to a kunai, and removes his cloak. A crossbow on his forearm accepts the dagger, and he takes aim into the forehead of the man with the knife. The moment Yuuto's… ill-conceived distraction goes off, the Kuroki puts together his hands and performs several hand seals, a circle of nearly-invisible chakra material popping up into being around the slaves. The moment the plan begins careening dramatically off the rails, Kuoroke nods to his soldiers, while quietly growling something disapproving under his breath.
When asking a psychopath to cause a distraction? Generally best to be a little more specific if you need a specific type of distraction. With some of the slavers moving out to try to find the source of the distraction, he puts his next idea to work. An intense feeling of dead would ring out from his position to the area below, enough to cause one to tremble, though in reality they might just be falling on their faces or standing there drooling as the Genin intends to make them all pause in place to open them up for the slaves to be rescued and the others killed.
Ayumu sighs as heavily as he dared to without giving away the team's main position before adjusting and focusing one of his sensor's towards Kuoroke, reading and anticipating the man's actions to a degree. The projectile is loaded and released, then… the slavers were down one. If that was not enough to get them to focus more on searching over the keeping an eye on their slaves, then…
He grits his teeth behind his mouth, distracting himself from the dreary line of thought to better focus on better to aid. Several come to mind almost immediately. Their viability questionable at best, but still he would follow through by first unbinding his braid. Once the crimson bramble is set free individual strands seem to move on their own accord from there. Some clump together into thicker bundles while the rest stayed apart. Regardless of 'their decision' the goal remains the same. They slipped down along the cliff face, staying hidden for as long as possible by using their coloration, shadows, and whatever else is possible along the way. Even the sand (should they reach far enough) becomes their ally… Albeit this effect only lasts until one of the slavers — those that may have somehow managed to resist Yuuto's efforts that is, if any at all — note the disturbances. Snakes? Baby Sand Worms? Worse? Worse. Tendrils burst forth to entangle as many slavers as possible.
Katama frowned as the one slaver took a hostage and swore to kill the slaves before they could stop them… She had a history with hostage situations and though her first instinct would be protective toward the civilians, she can see that sacrificing one to save many in this situation would be preferable. She swears to herself that she will pay respects to those sacrifices later. For now, her sights were set on the slavers nearest her. She launched herself forward, coming from the shadows above one of the slavers, she takes advantage of Yuuto's genjutsu, aiming to slit the throats of the slavers near her. Of course as usual she miscalculates her own strength and if she lands a full strike, she would nearly take off their heads… She does not stop to ponder, though, taking advantage of Ayumu's tangling traps as well, she kills as many as she can, aiming for those incapacitated first. Her crimson eyes gleam as she makes her way through the battlefield, blood on her armor and her blades.
Good thing you never hear the one that hits you, as long as 'you' are a slimy mook rather than a heroic PC able to detect and snatch knives out of the air. n.n Kuoroke's kunai strikes home on the hostage-threatening slaver, and before any of the others can think to start slaughtering in retaliation, a force field is placed around the frightened prisoners. Not too long after that, Yuuto and Ayumu are incapacitating them with their individual methods, and Katama is in their midst incapita — decapacita — decapitating them. -.- Darei just sits and watches the whole fracas with a smirk. "You brought some skilled players this time," he laughs. "I'll have to find a better team to challenge you next time. Looks like this game will be over pretty quick." X)
Kuoroke isn't nearly done, though: he'd like to get Darei, too. So, while the others are busy removing the slavers -the forcefield disappears again, but he's confident they won't be in any shape to retaliate- the Kuroki goes for the high-profile target. He leaps straight off the cliff, smashing down next to him on one knee. The vest he tore off in mid-air floats down slowly, and on the meantime lines along his limbs and on his torso erupt in light, split up, and expand into entire fields of brightly shining surfaces, looking much like a suit of knight's armor. "The game's over." he says, the face behind his luminous helmet distorted with the anger beginning to well up inside him.
Yuuto continues to project his Genjutsu, intending to ensnare as many of the slavers in it as possible until they've all withered away. Once in a while, he casts a glance toward Darei and Kuoroke, waiting for the others to finish up their work under his assistance before he'll move to assisting the Councilman in capturing the target.
Ayumu's characteristic foxy-smile turns into a scowl after feeling one of his tangled foes go slack. Even as he refocused some of his organs on Katama's he held onto disbelief like a fool, but the truth he spied and could not doubt. Another two or so would be decapitated before the Iga can send enough chakra to reinforce his hair as well as command them to protect those they bound. But even then, another dies before the strands are able to fully respond and dissuade the girl from lashing out again at them.
Hopefully with that out of the way, those that were still bound by him could be smothered until the passed out from oxygen deprivation before being cocooned and neatly pulled together. The process is repeated until all slavers were slain or fully incapacitated. Absently, Ayumu's main attention floats to Kuoroke and Darei. The final confrontation was on the horizon…
Katama spotted Kuoroke heading for the pretty boy with black hair, evidently that was their secondary - or third perhaps — target, Darei. She held no illusions that she could aid in that fight, so she hurried her own actions. A look of disdain crossed her face as she realized Ayumu was trying to keep some alive… She frowned but let it go, leaving a few for the odd man.. then she turned to the slaves and began issuing orders, directing them to escape via a path into the cliff face nearby, she sheathed her weapons and began physically bringing some of them back to reality as some had been dealt a horror show by her own actions.
Darei tilts his head quizzically. "Over? Well, almost, but not yet. All the prisoners are still in jail." Darei looks over to the group of slaves, then blink and stretches out his arm toward Katama. "Hey, wait! Don't you know the RULES?!" As Katama helps up the frightened prisoners, suddenly one cloaked figure in the crowd seizes her by the throat! Water rushes out of the robe's sleeve and binds around Katama as the other hand pulls back the hood to reveal…DAREI! "You can't free the prisoners until you kick the can," Darei states in a low, menacing tone. >/ The first Darei sighs and shakes his head, seeming to liquify from the bottom up. "And here I thought you were good players," it burbles as it turns into a puddle.
Darei drops Katama amongst the slaves. "Now she's a prisoner too," Darei says, forming some handseals. The prisoners who'd been trying to flee suddenly stop and give choked cries, grasping at their necks and backpedaling to the circle as though they had invisible collars at their throats with chains pulling them inward. "If there is any FURTHER rule-breaking, we'll go into sudden death for this prisoner," Darei announces, indicating the fluid binds around Katama. "Now…run and hide, or kick the can. Remember, though, if I so much as touch you, you're a prisoner…those are the rules, and you'll abide by them, or your friend suffers." >( Darei walks forward to protect the can, pulling out a strange scimitar made to look like a fish.
So that's the trick here, the Kuroki realizes, far too late. For a few seconds, Kuoroke estimates his team's abilities. Yuuto's reliability is impaired, but then he might still be useful. The Kuroki carefully moves towards the can, experienced eyes looking for signs of a trap - and his eyes briefly fitting to Katama, whom he simply cannot allow to let harm come to. He quickly glances at the impenetrable helmet on Yuuto's head, then at the man, then at the can, and moves to kick it with all his might, as far as he physically can.
When Darei pops up and suddenly Katama is among those being bound and strangled, Yuuto's eyes get big behind his mask. Of course, the bad thing for those whose side he is not on is that his student being in danger is when this Genin is most dangerous. From his perch above them, he decides the best thing to do right now is to make sure Kuoroke hits that can. With a hand seals, dozens of ink creatures from small sized snakes to full-sized lions leap down to guard Kuoroke, the larger creatures going to tackle any intended transgressor of the line between Kuoroke and the can and the snakes to bind them down.
Yuuto's eyes wouldn't be the only ones bugging out from Darei's trick. Albeit his reasons differed from his fellow genin a tad. Ayumu made a note to himself in that moment. If the team survived this day then the Iga would focus more on his perception abilities. Until then, the Iga would continue with his previous work into secure in the knowledge that all of his previous charges were out and secured. As an added safety measure they are prodded and searched for any signs of being another Darei or… clone(s).
Katama had not expected an attack at this point, so when the man touches her from behind, she turned toward it, which simply put her in harms way easier. She clenched her teeth and reached up to grab at the man's wrist instinctively. Of course she's stopped partway through the motion by the water bindings. She doesn't let Darei intimidate her, though, her crimson eyes glaring at him defiantly and she did the only thing she could do while restrained as she was: she spit in his face. But she was quite aware of Yuuto's reaction to her being in trouble.. She kept her gaze leveled at Darei, struggling against the bonds, testing the water's hold on her even as she waits for something to explode. But Yuuto doesn't flash fry anything, he protects Kuoroke in the attempt to literally kick a can. Katama decides to try and distract Darei as much as she can as well. "You really are crazy you know that? And I don't mean in a good way. You definitely need some kind of tranquilizer, coward."
Darei, who was quite close to the can to begin with, puts himself in Kuoroke's path. "It won't be that easy!" >) Of course, that's before Yuuto sends in his ink beasts. "Aha, that's more like it!" >D The ink creations are no huge threat to a ninja of Darei's skill level, and are dispatched by deft thrusts and slashes of his swordfish. They do, however, buy enough time for Kuoroke to get around Darei and kick the can, albeit not with as much force as he could've with a straight line drive. Darei jabs his sword through the last ink beast and into the ground, vaulting sideways over it to nab the can from the air. He slams it back into place, ending the 'safe' period in mere seconds. >) Apparently it was enough to release the prisoners, though, because the water binds on Katama slide off her legs and arms to gather solely at her throat and the genjutsu holding the slaves is released.
"Now this is a game!" Darei laughs, lunging after Kuoroke with swift palm jabs — he doesn't have to inflict real damage after all, only touch. "'It' team, get up and play if you want to live!" The few remaining slavers that are A) alive and B) capable of moving scramble to grab the fleeing slaves, wishing they'd paid more attention to the prattling of that mad shinobi they'd tolerated because he'd demonstrated exceptional abilities and offered his services cheap. c.c; Fortunately, Darei either doesn't seem to count Ayumu's hair touching members of the 'It' team as making him a prisoner or doesn't notice it. -.-; Still, prisoners are being collected again and Katama's still got a death-collar around her throat! How is this game supposed to end again? c.c;a The 'It' team could theoretically capture all the other players, but is there a way for the other team to win?
Kuoroke scowls. Avoiding strikes isn't his way, he prefers to get up close and personal. However, he has to play by the madman's rules or lose his Genin. The Kuroki maneuvers to get out of the way, then two massive, cupped structures on stalks unfold from his back, and as he pulls them together, pushing off from the earth, the blast of air throws him away… but more importantly, the powerful blast picks up the can and blasts it away from its spot, behind Darei, putting the water-nin in a less comfortable position: if he goes after the can, Kuoroke's freed up and at his back, but if he goes for Kuoroke, the can is still off its spot and therefore the Kuroki is free to retaliate brutally.
The game was… entertaining, and agitating all at once. If Katama's life wasn't in any danger than the Iga might've taken on a more active role in it all with a look of glee. Instead, he could only look through his sensor organs with mixed emotions and speculate. That and try to help the prisoner escaping as well. Unfortunately, ensuring that his previous captives were 'comfortable' did not conclude until the vast majority were captured once more.
Infuriated, Ayumu nearly rushes from his hiding place to show the slavers the business end of his umbrella! As he rises just to do that an idea strikes him. A few adjustments here and there and then… the plan commences. The booming howl is their warning before the crimson beast descends. A nightmarish thing bearing twin tails, a vaguely humanoid torso, jagged horns set in place like a bull, a wolf-ish mug with multiple tongues lawling for its huge jowl, and several multi-jointed limbs to bear it down the cliff side in mere moments.
The first go are those crippled by the beast sudden appearance, crushed beneath a limb, then tossed into the cliff side to either be impaled upon its side or knocked unconscious. It's intention: scare off the remaining slavers. There are of course the braves one that may try to take advantage of its apparent blindness and sneak up on it. They too get a taste of fear in the form of eyes spawning from its hairy hide to glare angrily down upon them. The braver ones get impaled upon tentacles, though there are few if any left with Yuuto's assistance from afar.
Katama was surprised that when the literal can was kicked the slaves and — mostly — she was allowed to move. The collar remained around her neck, true, but at least she could move again. She drew both her katanas, and injected herself between a young group of slaves and a slaver, her crimson eyes glowing darkly as she threatened — but did not make any further actions against the slavers.. She would attack with her blades if they came at her, but she wasn't sure just how far she could push the crazy man in charge of this 'game'. Her gaze was steady but it held a hint of that battle lust from earlier which left her with a slightly unhinged appearance. The red rampaging beast makes her blink and glance to the side, unsure of who that one belonged to, but oddly certain it wasn't Yuuto's insanity showing for once…
When the can gets blasted away, Darei knows better than to focus on it too hard. There's nothing in the rules against the other team killing him after all, especially while in 'safe-from-touch-mode', and getting killed is a huge detriment to one's score in the much bigger game called life! >P However, Darei finds himself suddenly unsure what the rules do say about a situation like this. c.c; Kuoroke didn't kick the can, he blew it over — but does it count? He was doing some kind of evasive maneuver, and if it just happened there was a stray breeze that knocked over the can they'd just have a brief timeout and put the can back up, but this was hardly a random breeze, but he can't really prove Kuoroke did it on purpose, and — GAH! >.<; "Game called due to technicality!" Darei snaps, dodging away from the playbattle-field. "I'm leaving now, play whatever you like with those idiots!" Darei streaks away into the wilderness, and after a little bit his water collar splashes off of Katama's neck. And of course, the slavers don't put up much of a fight after that. u.u;
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! Apart from tertiary objective. c.c