Date: August 11, 2015
Kuroko and a squad of Genin go to investigate the sudden death of insects inside Toshiba Forest.
Poster's note: foul language filtered in obvious places.
"Kuroko's Impromptu Environmental Squad"
Inside Toshiba Forest
Something was amiss in these woods. Where normally the insect life would flourish, in the recent weeks, the population has been /drastically/ declining. Not only is this particularly disturbing to the Aburame Clan, who often use insects as a means of gathering information, but this sort of change could be a huge upset to the natural ecosystem of the area. Thus, the cause of the recent decline had to be discovered, and rectified.
Naturally, the Aburame Clan Head had been placed in charge of this mission, due to her superior knowledge of insects. The team she had opted to bring along were likewise of the Aburame, as she felt it was better to have three minds working together, instead of just one. And she knew that Liao and Kyoko were both very intelligent, and would be of great assistance to her in figuring out this mystery.
She had instructed the two kunoichi to meet her in the middle of Toshiba forest, where they would get a better look at the natural wildlife in the area, without being disturbed by human traffic. It was the best place to start, to get a good idea of the circumstances they were dealing with.
Liao, as usual, arrived rather quickly and in high spirits this time around. "Hello, Kuroko-sensei," she calls as she drops from the tree she'd been in, her smile obvious even under her collar due to her cheek bones showing slightly. "I haven't given you the news so I'll mention it now… I am moving out of the Aburame Village." She nods, it wasn't too surprising all things considered, she never had fit in around the place much, and it wasn't like she was leaving Konoha. "Don't worry though, I'll still visit all the time. Kind of have to, since that's where the sanctuary is…" It was the best place to study insects, as they had all sorts living there. "What's going on today?" she questions, looking around for Kyoko, her rival she knew would be here too.
"And that's what's going on!" Kyoko's voice comes, the girl apparently filling Tatsuo in on the details. She had gotten the mission when she was training with him (well… training meant that she was watching him and asking a bunch of random questions in a semi-scathing tone!), so she figured she could drag the boy into this. "And you're helping!"
Tatsuo is following along with Kyoko, eyes a little wide as she explains what's going on and why she's making him go along. "Uh, but I'm not Aburame…I don't know if I'll really be able to help or anything," he tells Kyoko. In all likelihood he would've rather hidden himself back away at Kenta's house but…well Kyoko can be rather demanding.
Kuroko blinks with mild surprise when she sees the companion that Kyoko decided to bring along. That was rather unusual of her.. To insist on someone's companionship? Her lips twitch up in a light smile, though, and she nods to Tatsuo. "I suppose I can welcome another sharp mind on this case. Alright, then. Let me brief you all on the details really quickly, before we get started."
"The insects here have been dying.. at a rapid rate. Obviously, this cannot be allowed to continue, and we must seek out what is causing this strange occurrence and fix the situation… to the best of our abilities. Your job is to use all your powers of perception to study your surroundings, and try to find anything that seems out of the ordinary. This is the first step.. Once we have an idea of what might be causing this, then we can start searching for the specific problem. Hopefully We can have this situation solved by evening."
Kuroko nods then, and turns toward the dim, shaded expanse of the forest. "Time to start. Spread out, and see what you can find. You are all sharp minds. I have faith in you."
Liao seemed perturbed by the news, death of insects en masse was NEVER good. She didn't know what might be causing it, but it was possible that somebody had introduced an unseen factor into the environment, or worse; they might be killing the insects by hand in attempt to destabilize the surrounding forests of their productive life, thus harming the Village as a whole. She would get to the bottom of this, if she could! Spreading out her arms, she sends her kikaichu out among the trees, looking for anything out of the ordinary, especially dead hives of insects. She herself, then begins to walk through the forest, hoping her eyes will give her a clue on something also.
She wished her team was here to help, Kirryu's senses would've been nice and Tsuchiri's ability with ranged combat just in case… But she was on her own on this one.
Kyoko sighs. "I already told him what was going on," she mutters to Kuroko. She waits impatiently as the clan head explains what all is going down /again/. "I guess I should see what we can find," she says, closing her eyes to try and pick up anyone that didn't belong in the area. Kuroko was still blinding as ever, though. And so was Daisuke. And a few others. It would all pretty much blot out the information she wanted. So she takes a different approach: the girl's Kikaichu swarm out of her body and begin to investigate the area.
Tatsuo stops once they arrive with the other two and he gives the leader a small quarter boy of acknowledgement. Well, she wasn't sending him away and he /was/ already here so…might as well just see it through and help out. With the approval of Kuroko he branches off to go in his own different direction, letting his eyes scan the ground, the trees, and as high into the treetops as he could see to try and find anything amiss. He has no bugs to help out, just his eyes…so probably not quite as useful. But he's here so he'll try.
And so the team branched out looking for answers. Everything seemed relatively normal in the forest so far - except for eerie silence lacking the constant buzz of a million insects everywhere. The ground itself seemed… less alive than usual. Liao's kikaichu would be able to report back that there was hardly any sign of insect life anywhere, whereas Liao and Tatsuo's eyes would find several instances of the plants on the ground being.. off color. Kyoko wouldn't be able to sense anything chakra-wise, but she would notice a pile of unusually loose animal dung. This could be a sign that an animal in the forest had gotten sick from something.
Kuroko's kikaichu would bring back similar news to Liao's, with the addition of spying sickly looking animals around the area. Well then. It was possible that this was some sort of environmental agent. "It seems that some of the animals here are looking sick," she comments to the group, turning to see what they've found. "What do you think may be causing it? I'd like to hear your ideas."
The middle-aged of the three Aburame moved back toward their leader of this pack once she'd basically found no sign of insects, recalling her kikaichu and giving a few of them a look-over to make sure whatever was doing this wasn't affecting them as well. They seemed all right, seeing as they were embued with her chakra and hadn't really been in this environment that long, but she made note not to use them too much, judging by the off-colored plants.
"I'm going to guess definitely environmental. If Kyoko couldn't sense anything, though, it might not be caused by ninjutsu. We should check the water for signs of pollutants," she mentions, there were several streams in the area they could probably check.
Kyoko comes back after finding some nasty animal dung, the girl's nose all wrinkled when she gets back. "This's great. We're probably dealing with some sort of litter bug or some terrain, and now we gotta clean up after the idiots." Kyoko grumbles a bit more before adding her findings to the imaginary pile. "I found a bunch of animal dung. It didn't look like the critter was too healthy, which means that this sickness is pretty bad. We should keep our eyes peeled for any and everything, I guess." Because she cares about the bugs, even if Kyoko doesn't give a habitat about the Leaf and its people.
Tatsuo looks over what's there, a faint frown as he notices some of the plants and he crouches to get a better look at them. Hmm, very interesting. When he returns to the others he listens to what else is said before he gives a small nod. "With the plant discoloration it seems that something is seeping into them that doesn't belong. The animals may be eating this and the bugs are getting sick when they bite the animals. Or it could be the opposite effect. But since it is affecting both bugs and animals in this area it's something nearby. It…could be bad if it starts to spread."
Kuroko nods to each of the Genin, considering the situation. "Very true, Tatsuo-san. So it seems we are dealing with an environmental agent… Liao-chan, your idea of checking the water is a good idea. I'll leave that to you. Tatsuo, you are tasked with further inspecting the plants and soil. Try to determine what kind of toxin is troubling them, if you can. Kyoko, you come with me. We are going to find some sick animals, and see what we can learn from them. Does everyone understand?"
Kuroko expects that everything is fairly straightforward, and so she starts heading out deeper into the woods with a nod to Kyoko, her kikaichu spreading out to show her the way. "If any of you discover anything, give a shout. I won't be too far away."
Nodding to her Clan leader, Liao takes off right away in the direction of the nearest stream. Along the way she notes the sickened plant life again, a few wilting flowers, and still no bugs anywhere. She finally stops at a stream, not noticing anything out of the ordinary right away, except that still the plants in the area have wilted. "Guess there's only one thing to do…" She kneels down by the water, and cups a hand, taking a small bit of the liquid and sniffing it, then tasting a tiny bit to see if anything was wrong with it.
"I'm not a medic," Kyoko snaps at the Clan Head, but she goes along with Kuroko anyway. The girl keeps an eye out for anything that looks like a sick animal, but she doesn't have much hope if they just go clopping around. "We'll scare all the beasts away at this rate…" she mutters, trying to lighten her footsteps.
Tatsuo nods to the eldest Aburame before he turns to start looking at some of the plants, touching the leaves gently and trying to find some kind of pattern of where the plants are the sickest and which are affected. After a short time he pulls off a few leaves to take back for a medic to look at…maybe Kenta can make something of it. Finally he reaches deep into the earth near the plants roots with his chakra, making a hand seal to draw the water out through the soil so he could look at it. Maybe it'd look funny or something?
The sick animals are not about to run away very fast, and so the Aburame pair don't have much trouble in finding the first one. It is a snow rabbit, it's fur starting to be lightly tinged with tan since the weather is getting nearer to spring. But it is foaming at the mouth, and it's eyes are yellow and crusted. It's movements are also weak, and it has a noticeable twitch. Kuroko frowns. "This doesn't look good," she says quietly, though having little real medical training herself, can't determine exactly what may be causing it.
Liao would be able to taste a definite acidic taste of ammonia in the water, so hopefully she spits it right out. Likewise, Tatsuo would find the ground water to be tinged a little bit too yellow. What could be causing all this?
Carefully, Kuroko picks up the rabit and carries it back to where the team would meet, to show it to the others. If she was lucky, maybe one of them was studying medicine.
Liao definitely spits once she tastes something off, and frowns deeply. She'd found out a definite source of contamination, and moved away from the stream back toward Kyoko and Kuroko. Rushing up to them, she doesn't look so happy as she had at first anymore. "There's definitely something wrong with the water," she mentions, rubbing her shoulder idly as she speaks. "It tasted terrible, it also looks a bit discolored. Totally contaminated, if you ask me," Liao states, then turns to look back in the direction of the stream. "Maybe we should go check the source? If the rest of Konoha's water is just as bad, it could be really serious…"
Kyoko lets the clan head handle the rabbit. As comfortable as she was with Kikaichu, wild animals just wouldn't do! Well… Wild animals that weren't bugs. Eventually they all get back together, and Kyoko says to Liao, "It's only this area, though. Why is it only affecting the forest and not anywhere else? Some Baka must have spilled something in the local water source. At least it's not connected to another stream."
Tatsuo puts the leaf samples in his pouch, eyeing the water still floating in front of him…would be nice if he had something to put it in, like a vial. But, well, he doesn't. So instead he lets it drop back to the ground before he returns to the others.
When Tatsuo sees the sick bunny he grabs it without asking or anything, setting it carefully on the ground before making a hand seal and placing a few fingers gently against it, sending his chakra through to try and find out what's wrong. "I'm…still new to this. But he's definitely sick from some kind of toxin. Probably whatever is in the water and plants. Something is polluting it upstream." He's not sure if he'll be able to save the rabbit with his limited experience, but green chakra appears at his hand as he starts trying to help the rabbit's immune system beat the toxin.
Kuroko nods in agreement with the findings of the genin, and her eyes widen with happy surprise when Tatsuo starts using medical ninjutsu to tend to the rabbit. "Oh, Tatsuo-san! How very clever of you. I'm glad you came along, then. I had no idea that you were a medical student, but it seems that your talents will be useful."
"Furthermore, I agree. Whatever is polluting the stream and the groundwater must be coming from somewhere upstream.. So, we should all go and investigate. If we can find the water's source, we can find the pollutant, I'm sure of it. Liao-chan, would you kindly show us the way back to the stream?"
With that, Kuroko would follow Liao, and once there, the team would be able to follow the water upstream, searching for the source of the pollution.
Nodding to her leader, Liao decidedly moves away, waiting for everyone to follow before she guides them all to the stream she'd used to test the water. "There, see?" she questions, pointing to a small roiling part of the water where the turning shows nicely the yellowing reflected in some of the light filtering through the trees. "It's bad enough… I hope it's nothing too serious." With that she continues upstream, heading toward the source, making sure to keep her eyes and ears open just in case there were enemy infiltrators committing the sabotage.
Tatsuo doesn't say anything while he continues working with the rabbits, his lessons with Kenta definitely coming in handy now. But still, he /was/ very new at it. It was a tricky bit. It seems to be working however as he boosts the immune system and has the toxins…uh…'purged' out the front. Rabbit puke! When that's done the boy sits back on his haunches, watching the rabbit as it slowly gets up and starts to hop away.
Tatsuo stands then to follow after the others, eyes not meeting anyone else's as he instead scans around for what might be causing all the trouble. He's not good with things like praise so he's hoping if his gaze is low enough people might just forget what they just saw. That's how it works right?
Kyoko follows after Liao and Kuroko, and maybe Tatsuo if he actually took the lead for once in his life. The girl glances down at the tainted waters. "Gross. It just /looks/ poisonous!" she exclaims. The girl glances over at the other three. "How the heck are we supposed to fix /this/ though? The tainted water's getting into /everything/. Even if we find the source, that's not gonna prevent this batch of water from poisoning everything."
Kuroko glances over to Kyoko, her expression a bit sad as she nods. "You're right, Kyoko-chan. This water has already been tainted. But hopefully, if we can get rid of the source of the pollution, we can find a solution for the rest…" It was then that Liao would spot what looked like a metal canister, hooked onto a drain grate up ahead. It was marked with yellow paint, and bobbing innocently as the water passed over it…
Liao pointed out the canister when she spotted it, raising her hand to signal the other's attention. "There, is that it?" she questioned, looking to Kuroko, before she headed over to the thing, kneeling to look it over better. "What is it…?" She wanted to unhook it, but without being sure she wouldn't poison herself, she decided against it and waited for the other's input.
Kyoko glances over to Tatsuo. "Can you get all the yucky stuff out? You can split the water and the weird yellow stuff, right?" she asks the Nara, eyes worried. Of course, no one would be able to see that she /was/ worried with her goggles on. And her voice sounded more forceful and angry (as usual) rather than anxious.
Tatsuo hesitates at Kyoko's question, looking at the water once more. "I…could try," he says though he doesn't sound too certain about it. He certainly can't do it completely alone, but then he never truly is. "I can try, once we stop it," he says finally, looking to the icky thing that was the root of the problems. "And I'd need somewhere to put the bad stuff." Maybe back inside that container?
Kuroko frowned. That /did/ seem to be a problem. "Allow me," she says to Liao, and steps over to where the canister was. She would rather herself have to deal with the adverse effects of poison, than any of the genin. Carefully, she lifts the canister away from the grate, unhooking it from where it got snagged. The label definitely marked it as a caustic substance. A biochemical. This sort of thing doesn't get here by accident.
Sighing quietly, Kuroko sets the canister down and considers the options for cleansing the water. "Even if you tried, Tatsuo-san, there is no way that you'd be able to reach all of it.. But I do have an idea. If I travel further upstream to where the water is regulated, I could try and bust open the earth and create a huge surge of fresh water… That might be able to flush out most of the toxin. Would you all agree?"
Liao frowned when she was able to read the side label better after Kuroko pulled it from the grate, and she didn't like the looks of it. Somebody had deliberately poisoned a large portion of their forest, although she was glad they'd only gotten to one of the smaller streams and not the larger Lake or anything else closer to the Village. She hoped the insects would recover. "Oh, that sounds good, I haven't had a chance to see your Doton no Jutsu yet!"
Kyoko grits her teeth a bit, but nods. "Just hurry up and do something," she mutters, not caring what the stuff was. The girl just wanted the forest to get better. People she couldn't care less about, but the forest… The earth… The water… /That/ was crossing a line that was too far. She also was frustrated that she wasn't useful at all here… Her talents were useless.
Tatsuo considers the option before he shakes his head slightly. "Unleashing more water might dilute the substance more but it would push it further downstream at a faster rate," the boy says. "I'm not sure how toxic it would continue to be at that point." Tatsuo turns to look around, chewing his lower lip in thought before he finally points downstream. "We should try to stop it before it reaches anything, like farm lands. If we can dam it temporarily then we can get some water users out here to separate it." With his suggestion done he falls silent once more, just waiting to see what happened. It wasn't his decision, after all. He could only offer an option. Of course they'd have to do both fast because with the water still flowing a dam would only work so long.
"Hmmm…" Kuroko considers this latest option. Separating the toxin from the water… Seemed like a lot of work. Perhaps too much to get it all out, no matter how many water users they had. But she did agree with building a dam. "Alright," she says with a short nod. "We'll build a dam. If only to buy us more time to figure out a solution to this problem. At least we know that the source of the toxin has been removed, so it won't be getting any more potent…"
With that, the clan head starts to move further downstream. Once she got to the edge of the forest, she would use her earth manipulation to block off the flowing water and instead create a reservoir where it could be held. If all of the contaminated water was in one spot, then it might be easier to clean it.
Liao followed the older Aburame, and tried to press her brain for a better way to cleanse the river. If her Justus were more potent, she might've been able to use Doton, but as it stood she had no practice with her Earth techniques. So when Kuroko used hers, she marveled at it. "Wow, that was amazing… you'll have to teach me sometime. But the only thing I can think of is to use my kikaichu to dig drain holes, maybe flush the toxin lower under the surface where it will do less harm? But I don't want to poison the little guys…"
Kyoko just waits where she is, frustrated at being useless. She wasn't meant for this sort of mission… Not yet, at least. The girl just waits until everything is fine, and then she's gone without even a dismissal from the clan head. Probably off to go exchange some harsh blows with whoever happens to run into her while she's in the lovely foul mood!
Tatsuo follows after and watches as the dam is created and a temporary reservoir is as well. It wasn't perfect or a complete solution, but it definitely gave them time. Tatsuo's eyes turn to the surrounding forest with a sad look in them. "There's no way to ward the animals off…we'll need healers too, to help the animals. And people to replace the contaminated water in the soil with fresh water…" Of course over time it would fix itself, but it would take some time to reach and dilute the affected soil.
Tatsuo's hesitant a moment before he finally makes a single hand seal. Chakra flows from him in all directions as he closes his eyes and water begins beading up out of the ground, the foul part of it separating in little drops. It seems to happen all around at once and, while it's not a ton of water in the soil, there's a good amount of it. The clean water is released and dropped back down while the poisoned bits are taken to the new reservoir to be taken care of later. In the end the soil nearby, at least, is cleansed and the plants will follow suit within a week or so. By the time he releases it all Tatsuo collapses to his knees in exhaustion. When his eyes open they're just fading from a red color back to their normal black. It wasn't much, but at least it was something. Most of the plants would likely survive.
Kuroko watches Tatsuo's effort with clear surprise. What he just did was no average feat for a Genin.. and the effort obviously took its toll. "Thank you, Tatsuo-san," she says with a soft and warm smile. When she looked around again, she saw that Kyoko was nowhere to be seen. The clan head sighs and pinches the bridge of her nose. Always running off, that one. "Well, good work everyone," she says to the remaining two. "We'll get some Suiton masters out here right away to deal with this mess. As for you, Tatsuo-san.. I suggest you rest, now. It looks like you need it…"
Liao figures her insects weren't needed, just as soon as she watches Tatsuo suddenly open up some water manipulation, and she watches in surprise as he culls the poison from the groundwater and the stream and places it in the reservoir, expending a lot of chakra in the process. She claps in delight, though, and cheers him on. "Way to go! That was awesome!" She nods to Kuroko after that, and decides to get a head start on fetching more people to help. "I'll go get started gathering some people with Water affinity, and I'll send them this way. Great work guys!" And with that she's off, through the trees, to fetch more help.