Date: July 7, 2016
Kenta and Tatsuo travel to a forest to harvest herbs that only grow during the first snowfalls of winter. They find an injured giant butterfly instead and discover that it's capable of speaking after rendering aid. When mysterious flying creatures start closing in on the group, Kenta and Tatsuo quickly flee with their new patient.
"On the Wings of Friendship - A Fortunate Meeting"
Land of Fire
The sun rises over the Land of Fire, and in one small field in the wilderness west of Konoha, the first rays of its light illuminate a strange form mostly buried beneath a layer of snow. Covered as it is, the figure looks mostly like a big lump, perhaps the size of a large bird, but to either side of it, what looks like a pair of thin screens angle up, only lightly dusted by the snow. They seem to blow in the wind, but sometimes flutter gently with life even when the air is still.
This faint sign of life is now accompanied by another though, for where overnight the clearing would have been grey and free of all plant life, thin green shoots have sprung up overnight and pushed through the snow until reaching several inches above the surface. They're scattered all around the clearing, looking rather healthy despite the cold and snow all around them.
A short distance away, two figures are making their way across the snow. The one in the lead can barely be seen under the red-edged white cloak that's wrapped around his entire body. The white of the cloak is pristine enough to blend in with the snow, but the red stands out so starkly that it's difficult to miss even from a distance. As the leading figure crunches through the snow, he keeps his hooded face ducked down to avoid the glare of the sun, though that doesn't protect him from the light's reflection off the white surroundings. There's an odd shape to the figure's lumpy back, which is explained when wind makes the cloak billow out just enough for the hint of a backpack to be seen underneath. "Umm… we have to hurry, Tatsuo!" comes Kenta's voice from under that hood. "If we don't reach the spot soon, we might have to spend an extra night sleeping out on the way back."
Tatsuo was squinting into the sun, the affiliationwith water doing nothing to help with the bright light on the snow. "I could still take us on water through the air Kenta-sama." Ya know, flying? "But you wanted us to walk for the exercise…" So ya know, it's totally up to Kenta whether they get there in time! *cough cough* Trudging through the snow is not one of his favorite things, especially not when he hasn't had to do it in over a year now since he /could/ use the water to fly.
Whether in response to Kenta and Tatsuo's appearance, the sunlight, or something else entirely, the two screens flutter again more strongly, shaking the powdery snow away to reveal rows upon rows of tuft-like protrusions arranged like scales. It would appear that these screens are actually two large, rounded wings, most of their surface white, but patterned with dark stips radiating out from their attachment points and spreading out into a black fringe at the edges. Were it not from the black, they'd be hard to notice against the snow, but they stand out strikingly.
"It's good for exercise -and- it helps you conserve chakra," Kenta replies to Tatsuo's voiced comments. The scarf around his face muffles his voice, but there really isn't much around to compete. The season for bird song and animal sounds are pretty much over, except in very small quantities. The young man slows down slightly until Tatsuo catches up, so that both of them are walking abreast. "Umm… besides, you know it's likely that we might get targeted. You coming out with me is a secret, but I don't really trust that it'll stay a secret for very long." Even though Kenta's face is hidden, it's almost possible to -sense- the frown on it. "Maybe I should have brought another medic-nin along to harvest these herbs. Not many people wanted to travel out here with all the snow though and these -only- grow during the first few snowfalls of winter."
Tatsuo catches up with a bit of huffing and puffing, his breath sending out little white bursts of air. "I have more than enough chakra to spare Kenta-sama," he huffs, sounding a little upset with it all. "And I could protect you." So there! "And I'm not going to say anything to anyone you don't want me to, you know that Kenta-sama…right?" Or does he not trust him? When Kenta mentions bringing out another medic-nin Tatsuo's back straightens a little before his eyes lower to the snow at his feet. So he really wasn't good enough to help out then?
Once they've reaches the clearing, Kenta and Tatsuo can see their targets quite clearly, the green shoots easily spotted over the background of the snow. But only a little further beyond the plants are the two wings, now at a weak but constant flutter, drawing the attention like a flag blowing in the wind. The wings are entirely free of snow now and they've started to reveal something of the body they're attached to: smooth, dark interlocking plates.
"I know that -you- won't say anything, but who knows what people are spying on Konoha right now? Things are such a mess…" Kenta says and follows the statement with a loud sigh. Even though his breath is filtered through a layer of woolen scarf, it still comes out in a plume of misty air. He suddenly comes to a stop. His cloak flutters around him while he surveys the clearing that they just arrived at.
"Look, Tatsuo! There's so many growing this year. We're going to be able to harvest a lot and still leave plenty to grow for next year. Umm… do you remember how I said you have to do it? You…" The young man's voice abruptly cuts off. Kenta's eyes squint. "Umm… Tatsuo… is that cloth fluttering on the far end? Come on! Someone might be in trouble!" He starts running across the clearing, but still makes sure now to crush any of the precious plants even in his hurry.
"Of course I know how Kenta-sama, I helped you last year…" Tatsuo starts, but trails off as he catches sight of the billowing wings and whatever is attached to it. "Kenta-sama…be careful…I don't think that's a person," Tatsuo calls after Kenta before the snow beneath him melts into a layer of water that he uses to hover just over the snow before following after Kenta, drawing on chakra in preperation to protect Kenta if he needs to.
Indeed, it's not a person. Or at least not a human. By the time Kenta has reached the creature, enough snow has cleared away that he can identify it as a butterfly. Though it's small compared to Kenta, it must be thousands of times the size of a regular butterfly, just large enough to tuck in one's arms. The wings flutter weakly again and the body wriggles back and forth a little.
"Oh! You're right, Tatsuo! It's not a person!" Kenta exclaims when he gets close enough to see more of the details. He stays about three paces away to observe the creature from afar. While a butterfly is normally pretty innocuous, this is the first time that he's encountering once the size of a large eagle. "I think it's hurt…" Kenta tells Tatsuo. His fingers twitch on their own while he stands there trying to decide what to do. The medic in him says that he has to help, even though the cautious part says that it might be all a trick, perhaps a set up for an ambush. "Tatsuo, can you send out your mist and make sure that the area's safe. Try not to get the plants too wet, or ice might form and damage them." With that instruction given out, Kenta closes the rest of the distance and drops to his knees next to the giant butterfly.
Tatsuo tilts his head as he drops back down to the snow a few paces behind Kenta, chewing his lower lip as he looks at this rather interesting creature they've stumbled upon. At Kenta's instructions he nods and makes a hand seal. Mist forms in the surrounding area though in the middle where they and the plants are remains clear of any mist at all while Tatsuo checks for anything else in the area that might be a danger or, at the very least, is out of place.
The butterfly does indeed have a few signs of injury—slight tears in the wings and punctures in its exoskeleton. Nothing that would kill on its own, but perhaps enough to explain why it spent a night buried in the snow rather than seeking proper shelter. If Kenta should actually touch it, he'll find it's quite cold, only very slightly warmer than its surroundings. Alive, but a night in the snow can't have done it any good.
Tatsuo's search of the area doesn't turn up a lot, but one of the branches on the nearby trees is snapped and one of the butterfly's feathery scales is caught on it. Although it seems to suggest where the creature came from, none of the trees visible beyond it have similar evidence, suggesting this one was a mistake.
Kenta doesn't try to move the butterfly right away. Instead, he lays a hand on the creature's carapace and start to send medical chakra pulsing into its abnormally large form. "Umm… I don't know what body temperature a butterfly is supposed to have, but there's signs of hypothermia starting to set in. That I can tell for sure. There's also a lot of other smaller injuries, exhaustion… -chakra- exhaustion?" The young man blinks several times and mist blooms from his scarf to mix with Tatsuo's mist due to his sudden exhalation. "Must be a summoned creature, but why didn't it disappear back to its home when it got injured like they normally do? Tatsuo, it's also poisoned! Can you sense anyone around that might have attacked it?"
"No," Tatsuo says, frowning a bit as he takes in all the information. "I see it hit a tree while it was flying…or maybe falling? But there's no one within a half mile. Do you want me to check further?" Of course that just means more chakra…Tatsuo didn't fail to notice that change in Kenta's tone either and he glanced at the medic nin until he mentioned the summoned part. "Maybe it wasn't summoned. Maybe it was just passing through? Um, they don't move much when they're cold, but once we get it warmed up it should be able to fly okay if you can heal it. Cold just makes them sleepy."
The butterfly definitely has a strong enough chance of recovering, if it's cured of the poison and warmed up. It's too weak to move and might have simply stayed here in the snow until it died, but its vitals are still reasonably strong, at least for the situation it's in.
Kenta frowns, although that expression is hidden by his hood again. "Umm… go ahead and do that, Tatsuo. Better safe than sorry. Meanwhile, this… umm… butterfly-thing needs medical attention right away." He shrugs off his pack and sets it on the ground, which causes his cloak to pool around him even more ludicrously due to the lessening of the young man's overall bulk. Kenta rummages around in the pack until he finds the case that holds various antidotes. He selects a syringe with a green liquid inside. The young man pumps all of it into the butterfly via a damage section of the creature's carapace. Then, he sends medical chakra into his patient to force the poisons partially bound by base antidote he inject out through that same wound. "Anything, Tatsuo? Umm… I'm going to need your help carrying him later." Definitely a him according to what he detected with his diagnostic jutsu.
Tatsuo pulls on more chakra, his eyes changing to a dark red color as he does so and he pushes the mist out for miles in all directions, searching for any humans that might be out this far. No one else should be considering the location and how far out they are. "I can carry him Kenta-sama." Well, his water can. It's nice to have such a versatile ability.
The erratic fluttering of the butterfly's wings slows as Kenta starts to heal it, settling to a more rhythmic pattern. Fortunately, it's steady enough that one can guess Kenta has removed some if its distress rather than adding to it. The beating of the wings becomes steadier yet as the antidote starts to neutralize the poison. The butterfly's body wiggles again and a six slender legs partly uncurl from beneath.
Tatsuo's expanded search reveals a few more snapped branches that the butterfly apparently collided with, forming a rough path through the forest. Further, at the very edges of his range, something is moving through the air.
"Umm… I think it's working. I'm able to neutralize and remove at least some of the poison. For a moment, I was worried that the anatomy difference will make it hard. The poison's effects is probably going to take a while to recover from though…" Kenta tells Tatsuo without looking over his shoulder. Most of his attention is focused on the giant butterfly. "He still needs a warm please to rest, food and medical care. We have to bring him back to Konoha with us, Tatsuo." The medic-nin finally looks away, but only to scan his immediate surroundings. "Umm… Maybe we can still harvest some of the herbs before we go, just so that we're not empty handed, but we won't have time to get much."
Tatsuo frowns faintly as he focuses on what's coming through his connection with the mist. It fades once again and he glances worriedly at Kenta. "Something is coming this way Kenta-sama. I can't tell exactly what it is, but it's flying." That could be a good or bad sign. He waits for Kenta to decide what it is they're going to do…
The butterfly wriggles against the ground a little more, then stops moving altogether. From beneath it though, comes a soft voice, "Hello? Who are you?" It shifts a little more and finally comes up onto its side, exposing its face to Kenta. Its proboscis wiggles slightly as it speaks. "I'm cold…" Whatever's off in the distance is taking a meandering path, but it is slowly getting closer.
"Oh! You're awake! And you can talk!" Kenta exclaims when the butterfly suddenly regains consciousness. "I'm Kenta. That's my student and brother, Tatsuo." He points towards the Jinchuuriki. "Umm… don't try to move much or talk too much. You're still weak and injured. Do you have a home nearby where we can take you? We were going to take you to Konoha, but someplace closer would be better for you…" The young man pauses and looks towards Tatsuo. "Can you tell anything about the body shape? Butterflies? Maybe it's friends of his."
"It's…strange," Tatsuo admits, not sure how else to put it. When the butterfly thing talks Tatsuo glances at it but doesn't say anything, leaving Kenta to speak to it while he focuses on keeping track of the intruder. "It's not moving really fast so I don't know if it's coming for us on purpose, but it is coming this way…"
The butterfly doesn't speak for a moment, then his body shudders slightly. "Home… is far away," he manages. "Flowering… Fruit Valley." He suppresses another shudder, then pushes up slightly, despite Kenta's advice, and looks over at Tatsuo, or at least vaguely in his direction. "What-what is it? What does it look like?" He tries to move again and push himself up onto his legs, but only manages to shift a little. "…what does it look like?" he repeats.
Kenta tries to keep the butterfly prone with a firm, yet gentle grip. "Umm… you -really- shouldn't move yet." He glances over to Tatsuo with a worried expression on his face. If the boy thinks that the incoming people or creatures are strange, it's very likely that they're not more giant butterflies. "I hate to say this, but maybe we should move away from here. I'm starting to like this situation less and less. Umm… we might not be able to harvest any of the herbs, but we can't risk getting into a potential confrontation either." The young man wraps his arms around the butterfly and gets to his feet.
"I think the herbs can wait Kenta-sama." Tatsuo focuses on the creature again before describing it to the querying critter. "It's made up of different…parts. Scorpion, spider…dragonfly wings…I don't know. I haven't seen anything like it before. But it's still coming this way." He looks back to Kenta, then the butterfly. "I think we should leave now Kenta-sama."
The butterfly stops moving and lets out something that sounds like a whimper. "We should go…" he says. He stays still as Kenta scoops him up, but suddenly twitches as Tatsuo describes the approaching creature. "W-we have to go!" he says suddenly, "M-m-manticore fly! Very dangerous! Please get me out of heeeere! Don't let it get anywhere near us!" Kenta can feel the butterfly shrink against him, shivering.
Kenta's brows furrow. "Umm… that definitely doesn't sound like the same species." And dangerous too, considering the butterfly's reaction. The young man nods his head curtly at Tatsuo and keeps one arm wrapped awkwardly around his shivering patient while he fishes for a defensive tag from one of his pockets. "Tatsuo, keep using your mist to watch these creatures. We'll try to know them off our tracks. We won't be able to reach Konoha or even civilian village within the day, so we need to find a safe place to hole up. Stay right next to me, Tatsuo. I don't want you behind." With that said, Kenta starts running across the clearing and jumps into the trees as soon as he reaches the side they came from.
Tatsuo does as asked and even thickens up the mist around the creature to try and help it get a little more lost now. Then he's running after Kenta and, unlike before when they were mucking through the snow, Tatsuo makes a platform of water that appears just ahead of each of Kenta's steps and disappears behind Tatsuo. They would leave no trace in the snow and they would move faster.
As the two Leaf nin flee the scene with their new butterfly ward, Tatsuo can sense that the manticore fly hasn't changed its pace—it hasn't noticed them. But the shape of a manticore fly is unmistakeable once you know it, and as they move through the woods, Tatsuo notices another, then another. To get back to Konoha with the butterfly, the two of them are going to need all their cunning.