Date: July 26, 2016
After having chased those who had experimented on Yasuo through Kyuusen, Yasuo and Totoro continue to track the people who had made the Hyuuga into the experiment he is today.
Poster's note: foul language filtered in obvious places.
"Project Akumu - Ghost Chasing"
From Kyuusen to the Senkutsu, a cave within a mountain that was also and may also be a popular training ground used by Iwagakure shinobi. Otherwise, it would have made an 'amazing' base of sorts. It's treacherous obstacles makes traversing the cave difficult, and also rather defensible. That doesn't explain why Yasuo or Totoro have reached this place, but at the moment a campfire would be made at the very entrance of the unoccupied cavern system that Yasuo has likely mapped out using the powers of Byakugan. Totoro is in a placid mood, a rare occurrence for the Inuzuka. Where her words are not off the cuff, but are well thought through. A time when staring into the fire provides some existential questions. The beast of a woman lay upon her side, staring into the fire, as she awaits Yasuo's return.
Having been gone doing just that and searching for some clues, Yasuo finally arrives back at the camp, his eyes glowing with Byakugan as he looks at Totoro from behind his mask. He looks her over for a long moment then steps over behind Totoro and takes a seat behind her. That seated position transitions a bit as he turns to lay down beside her and drapes on arm over her. "There are a number of tunnels from here… A few may be promising to look further into in case our prey happened to pass through, but there are no clear signs of the passage of a large caravan."
There were many ideas running through the wolf's mind. Some of them involved the future of her life. Some involve what god was, or if there truly was a god and when she died she would simply rot into the ground and turn into bones. Never contributing anything to this world, never fostering a child of her own. Just always following 'instinct' until the sad day when she dies alone in some neck of the woods. Gored by a boar because she was too old to hold her own any longer. Frightful thoughts that even scare someone as fearless as Totoro.
When his arm draped across her side, she lay back slightly and into him. "I didn't see anything in the places I went. Managed to get lost. Just gave up and came back. I don't know what idiot would come in here just to pass through. Seems like a terrible waste of effort…" Doesn't mean it didn't have it's high points. She tilted her head back, looking behind her at the masked individual. "Guess you should take me there anyways. Let me see if something doesn't catch me… Ugh…" No booze for a week. No towns close enough to supply it. She has been sober for a while, and when she is sober she thinks. When she thinks, she calms down. War needs alcohol.
"That's the point," Yasuo says with a slight smirk under his mask as his arm trails further aroun her while she lays back into him. "If they know how to navigate it, this is a perfect place to pass through and not be easily tracked. The Land of Earth is very good for that because of its rocky terrain in many places. Without a dirt trail, there aren't as many ways to leave tracks." He blinks slightly at her 'ugh' and chuckles a bit. "Oh, right, I brought you a present," he says, reaching to his side to retrieve a pack that he sets in front of her. Should she choose to open it, she'd find just what she wants… bottles of really strong sake.
Thus, Yasuo provides something that will inevitably dull her ability to act as a tracker. "You've been holding out on me?" She said after idly opening the box, finding something strong. She doesn't spend seconds thinking twice, before her addiction addled brain goes straight for the booze. The neck of the bottle is nearly broken off as she just manages to get the cork undone. The sweet, sweet liquid would drain down her gullet. It wouldn't be long before the more sensual side of her was crushed, replaced by that of a berserker. "Alright… Might as well go and get this over." She says as she slips away from Yasuo. she unclasped the empty bottle of sake that usually rests upon her hips and throws it aside, before she ties up the new far more full bottle in it's place.
"No. I found a vendor and bought it," Yasuo relies with a chuckle as he watches Totoro kill that first bottle rather quickly. When she slips away, he stands and stretches a bit while she starts to get ready. "Really they're probably further west if anything or they may have used one of these tunnels to get to a ship. Really, though, if there were a lingering scent of mass movement, you'd have probably detected it by now because there'd be smells that shouldn't be here and many of them would smell no quite human, not to mention that dozens would be transported at once."
"You still haven't told me what you are hunting, Yasuo." The bottle went to her lips once more, as she imbibed the drink that was also her prison. "It'd help if you'd give me a little more than just a 'They're not human' or 'There are dozens of them'. Come on. You know I'm not going to step on your toes. Let me into who you are hunting."
At that question, Yasuo blinks a few times. It's been a while since he opened up to anyone in any way… but this is important if they're going to do this. "Very well," he comments, pausing a moment before he says, "You've seen all the scars I bear. We are hunting the people that gave them to me. They are the ones that made me what I am through over a decade of experiments. I think it's time they experience the fury of what they created…. They also still have a number of people there that I once befriended. I imagine a number of them have been turned against me or turned into mindless beasts, but better they receive the mercy of death than continue to be experimented upon day and night like rats. Once we've hunted them down and annihilated every single last one of them, my debt will be repaid and we can move on to other even greater hunts."
Totoro extends her fingers before curling them into fists again. "An Experiment?" What was that anyways? Totoro turns and walks backwards a few steps, looking Yasuo in the eyes. "That's called… a vendetta?" Totoro's lips curled into a rather short smile. "I mistook you for someone who didn't have a single friend left, and now I learn you're hunting to save them. That's a bit noble for my tastes." Yet, as her hand so readily grabs the alcohol she realizes quickly, "Never mattered how just or corrupt a bounty was anyways. That's… That's never been the purpose of a hunt for me. You point, I kill. That's the life I've chosen." She's wisp well not going to quit now. Totoro was turned around once more as the bottle went to her mouth again. "I like knowing my prey a little more though."
"That was no mistake," Yasuo reaffirms with a lift of his eyebrow. "If I was actually doing this for them, I would've done it months ago while I was still in Konoha. Once they figure out that I'm not there anymore, they're going to come for me. I'm simply going to strike first. The benefit of the other subjects being liberated of their torture is simply a side-effect."
"Should it matter to you if they're coming for you? Come on, you've got stretchy fingers. You shouldn't have any trouble at all!" Totoro chides as she raises a clawed hand and scratches it along the cave wall. "So… This really is a wholesale slaughter kind of hunt. Even the people you knew are likely goners anyways."
"It's not a matter of trouble," Yasuo says, chuckling and shaking his head. "Until they're off our backs for good, we can't be certain our hunts won't get interrupted by them since they want to either kill me or bring me back to their labs to perform more experiments." He nods to her next statement then. "Storm in. Kill them all. Simple as that."
"Keep it nice and simple." Totoro whispered under her breath as they taverse through the tunnels. Already, Yasuo had disarmed a number of traps that were usually meant to challenge shinobi moving through this tunnel of mazes, such as spike traps that would impale and likely kill the unprepared, or the fact that the maze's walls seem to have the capacity to change themselves at any given point. Totoro's senses, still yet unaffected by alcohol, almost immediately turn towards the tunnel Yasuo was leading to her. Not because he had turned there, after all she took the lead, but because there was actually something there. "That's new… I've never smelled that before. Yeah, this is the tunnel you were talking about, wasn't it?"
Yasuo has done well to be paired with an Inuzuka in Konoha as well as after he left. Between the two of them, there's just about nothing they can't sense. As they move along, he is basically silent until Totoro senses something. He blinks as she actually detects something and looks her way. "Yes. It seems about right for what they would pass through with the things they have to transport," he says with a nod, waiting to see what she deduces next.
She doesn't deduce anything. Not her job. Not what she signed on to do. Totoro moved into the cave Yasuo had a hunch contained needed information, following her nose as she often times grabbed pillars of limestone and circled around it. Perhaps one of the people Yasuo once called friends had helped leave a trail. At the top of a sharp stalagmite was blood, as if someone had intentionally struck one's hand against the sharp spike to coat it with blood. Upon that was a rag, perhaps a piece of torn clothing that rested against it. Yasuo would likely remember something about that piece of cloth, because the cloth itself was something worn by all the experiments. White cloth, rough and made of hemp. This appeared to be a piece of sleeve of some sort, but it's scent was strong. "Ah… It's nothing. Some woman cut herself on the rock. Definitely a woman." Totoro wrote the scent off as unimportant, though Yasuo might know slightly more about it than she. Perhaps even who it might have been.
Yasuo follows along as they move, his eyes spotting the cloth just before she does. He may've spotted it earlier even, but didn't have her sense of smell at that point to to figure out what it was since he was doing a wide area scan rather than looking directly at it. Approaching the spot she points out, Yasuo furrows his brows a bit and steps over, using a finger to dab the blood and taste it before picking up the cloth carefully to take in its scent. "… Hanae," he comments with a slight pause. "This is hers. They passed through here definitely."
Totoro grimaced, groaning a little. "Great… It really was something. Not only was it something, it's apparently a childhood sweetheart too. Alright, Yasuo…" Totoro trudged deeper into the cave a few steps before she places her hands upon her back and leans herself backwards a little as she stretches. "Guess we're moving." Can't give this lead up, can they? "It's definitely fresh. I'd say about a day old. Let's get moving." She dulls her senses with a little alcohol instead of complaining anymore about having to get on the road so soon after settling down to relax.
"I'm not certain those are the words I'd use, but we were close due to proximity while we were being used as subjects," Yasuo says, shrugging his shoulders and not really delving much more into that. Considering it wasn't THAT long ago that he escaped from these guys, there may be more to it, but he sees no need to give out those sort of details unless she specifcally asks. He nods to her next words and says, "Follow the scent and lead the way. I'll keep an eye on the area around us to be sure we aren't jumped with my Byakugan."
"Yeah, yeah. I'll take care of it." Totoro rolls her shoulders as she takes a deep breath, and begins to move at heightened speed. "ALRIGHT! The sooner I can sink my claws into them, the quicker we can move on to BIGGER things!" It just took a moment to get her head in the zone, and pick her pace up. Totoro often switches between running on two legs and maneuvering on four like a typical Inuzuka, but as she continued through the cave she came to a screeching halt. "What the shade!?" She asked as she skidded, narrowly missing the end of the cave. Though they were clearing ascending, there appeared to be a dead end. A cave-in of sorts. "I could have sworn that the trail headed this way…" Totoro moved up to the end of the cave, and even went as far as pushing up against it to see if it moved… "Solid rock. Maybe they used some of that 'earth magic'."
Yasuo enjoys Totoro's optimism here, but the likelihood of finding the group within the day is pretty thin… especially as they come to a dead end in the tunnel. His Byakugan, however, spots the oddity about the wall and he smirks behind the mask. "It would seem they did," he says as he brings his hand back, causing it to crackle with lightning before he slams his palm into it with extreme force to cause the artificial to break and crumble.
Totoro scooted away a short distance as she saw Yasuo's hand slip back behind him. Totoro quickly crossed her arms as she watched him thrust his palm into the wall. It was a thick wall, but he managed to break enough of it to step through, and get to the other side. It was a very thick wall, but it was also an artificial one. "I expected as much. Shinobi are scary!" Totoro said with a half-smirk. Totoro spent no time being the first to step in to the large hole, and come out the other-side. Sunlight. This was the Land of Earth proper, wasn't it? "Scent hasn't faded either. Come on. We're going to let the fun slip out of our grasp!"
"These people are more scientists than shinobi. They try to create new powers to outdo the villages, probably so they can try to take over one day," Yasuo comments as he takes off along with her to follow the scent. With them being a day behind, it's not too likely they actually catch up today, but perhaps they can figure out what way the group went, though that could possibly just lead them to the ocean since that's what seems most logical at this point. That does help some, though, since that would mark them as moving in a certain direction that they went a long way to hide their movement toward.
"Well, let's see… Heh…" Totoro said as she trudges along not necessarily at top speed, quite a lazy run. "I guess we're there first test then? First stepping stone on their path to try and down a whole village! Wouldn't it be absolutely embarrassing if we destroyed them completely!" Totoro punched heh own hand, open-palmed, right in front of her. "Can't wait to prove their smug <Redacted> wrong!" Totoro even bites her lower lip in excitement. Yasuo better make sure his girly girl isn't in the way! Every day on this hunt that passes, Totoro seems to be snapping out of her previous slump! Still, after five miles of running, even Totoro decides that it was time to conserve strength. How quickly does a care full of people move?
"That's exactly what we're going to do," Yasuo says with a nods as they race along. When they finally come to a stop, he glances around, peering out with his Byakugan. "… Wagon tracks," he points out, though she might not actually see them unless she looks closer. Opposite sensory jutsu. "They were heading northward… which means probably to a ship. If we're a day behind them, they're probably already on the ship." He ponders over his knowledge of the world map a bit, which luckily he memorized pretty well by now. "There's one large enough continent for them to try to hide north of the Land of the Snow to make a new base or start up one they had prepard."
"Continent, uh…" New word. Totoro tries to piece it together the best she can though. Totoro didn't actually stop, and likely wouldn't. "You mean they're going across the water?" She asks, as the realization hits her. "Oh, there is more land across the water! Great. We don't really need a boat. You can swim right?" She asks. "Even better, you can walk on the top of the water. You did it with me! I remember!" As much as Totoro had not really added to the conversation at all, she still feels full of herself enough that she snaps her finger. "We'll just run after the boat! Boats are slow! We're pretty specter fast! Just wish our prey didn't… move around so much. It's really becoming annoying."
"As fun as all that sounds, we should pace ourselves. Since we have an idea of where we're going, we head their way but be certain to be rested well before we run into them so we don't wind up on the losing side of things instead of obliterating them," Yasuo comments as they move. He's ready for this too, but he also wants to win this battle rather than wind up captured or killed. Either way, they are well on their way.