Date: Feburary 6th, 2010
Koudo and his team set out in the the desert to meet an old friend of his and have to deal with the challenges along the way.
Within the desert, Land of Wind
Koudo walks out of the Sunagakure gates with Itami and Tsubasa. The desert was hot, and the heat could be seen in the air looking at the desert that spanned out toward the horizon. What was a simple ninjutsu training session had turned into a mission to go see Hanto's workshop. Being a friend of the Sand and a personal friend of Koudo's, the expert's name was brought up in conversation with Itami when she expressed her interest in getting a camera. This was going to involve a trek through the desert to see the workshop where he sells cameras, film, and supplies to a few select customers, mostly distributors and friends. "Well, if we make good pace we should be there and back before ya know it." Nodding to the others, with robes garbed to block the heat. The sky looked clear but desert storms could happen anytime during the season.
Tsubasa nods as he looks at the two before him. Even with his weird clothes on, he doesn't seem to mind the heat, sand and wind. Then again, he had spent a long time in the desert so it was nothing to him to walk around in it like he was. He turns his attention to Itami, "Missetsu is my village, not a person. That's where the Seishukuni live."
He reaches inside his cloak and withdraws a crystal flask of water before popping off a cap and taking a sip. Unlike most of the crystal they'd see him form, this was black and as such, kept the heat out. "Okay, well, as long as it's interesting I suppose."
Itami was very used to the desert. It was her home before she came to Sunagakure itself, so familiarizing herself with it once more appears to bring a calm over her. The act of kneeling to the sands and cupping her hand in order to scoop it and pour it as if falling from a vessel felt beautiful to her. Too long had she been away from the desert. A sigh parts her lips as she comes to a rise and dusts her bandages free of the sand saying, "Indeed. But we must not pace ourselves too quickly, or we risk the loss of water." She then looks back to Tsubasa and continues, "My apologies. I am not familiar with Missetsu or the Seishukuni. I have much to learn still about all who reside here. There must be many from all over that call this place home now."
As Koudo's team venture forth into the desert, a single eyeball pops out from one of the passing dunes…then another…and another…and another!? Pretty soon a slowly forming fountain of malformed eyeballs erupt from the ground and carve out a path as ryoji arises ontop of a spout of the slim ridden organs before being deposited safetly along the side of the dune. It is as he slides down the grainy banks that the eyeballs quickly evaporate into the air and allow for the sands to slowly collapse in on itself. "Now…where is that pesky little bugger at anyways?" He asks aloud as the slim coating his clothing quickly evaporates into the sun. A quick glance around would bring into sight the traveling band and without a second thought he would begin to follow after them. He also doesn't bother concealing his prescence by much after closer inspection from one of the few remaining eyes clutched tightly in his out stretch hand reveals them to be some of suna's higher ranks.
Heading through the desert on no particular path, the sand ninja had enough sense of direction to know where they were at least, and Koudo knew where the expert's workshop was located. "…Did I mention Hanto-san is my friend, he always has good advice. You are luck…" And then he noticed a ninja with many eyeballs appear, a startling sight in the middle of the dessert, but the younger Ryoji proves not to be a threat, he was even a friend. "Hello, Ryoji. I am Fukuzawa Koudo."
The time passes as they make there way towards the workshop and the sky starts to look grim. "Sorry, guys but I hope that storm doesn't come our way." says Koudo pointing out to the sky. Even a lightning bolt could be seen in the distance, but it turned out to be a flash storm and it was not a threat. It's not too long before they reach where the workshop should have been located, but it wasn't.
Koudo looks distraught "Impossible!" and he immediately starts searching the area, coming up with pieces of broken wood. It appeared the house had been destroyed. A silent breath to ponder the situation and he looks up to the sky "Haaantooo!….is missing." He looks at the squad of ninja, it was good they were all here "…A sand storm? It can't be, we would have heard from him! Let's search the area." He says, using wind chakra to clear the sand off the pile of wood, cameras and film, and Hanto's things.
Tsubasa shrugs as he continues along the desert path, "Eh, it's fine. Maybe one day I'll trust you enough to take you to Missetsu. Our village was thankfully spared the wars, so we're fairly picky about who gets to visit us. As it stands, the kage is the only person who knows the exact location of Missetsu besides the Seishukuni."
The giant eyeball sand wave would go ignored to this chuunin. It's not like eyeballs were neccessarily dangerous anyways and even if it was an enemy, they weren't doing a good job of sneaking up on them. So the only reasonable conclusion was that it was an ally and so, this ally went ignored.
When they reach the broken house, Tsubasa sighs as he reaches in for his water flask again. "The wood is too broken for it to have been a sandstorm don't you think?" He shrugs as he looks around in a circle, "He could be in potentailly any direction, but, if it was a sandstorm and my knowledge of our area serves me right, there are caves over," he holds up a hand to the sun and then points towards some cliffs to the southeast, "there. I think there are also some to the northeast."
Itami is glad she isn't the only once to notice Ryoji popping up out of nowhere, but she has her suspicions. Not that people didn't dwell the desert no, but at a time like this, random occurrences are subject to speculation…"Ryoji-san…" she hums. "How are you faring today? I assume all is well. Might I inquire as to what you were looking for?" She asks while they continue on their way through the desert. If Koudo wasn't concerned with his presence, she supposes she won't be either. At least, to an extent. "I understand. I shall not push the issue, but I do hope to visit the village at least once." She says to Tsubasa while proceeding forward.
So, they are finally making progress towards the workshop, but the desert appears to have other plans for them. It's not often that the desert feels humid. "Perhaps the desert is angry. It is not often that it does not grow upset when something happens…." No sooner than she finishes this phrase, Koudo mentions Hanto's missing and she is greeted with the sight of wood in the area… 'Why would he build a structure of wood out here?' She thinks to herself.
"Sandstorms are often unpredictable, but I agree with Tsubasa. I have not known a sandstorm to cause this kind of destruction, but it may depend on how well built the structure was…." A glance goes to the southeast and then to the northeast. "It is true that refuge might have been taken in either of those locations…" She looks back to the house and tilts her head, "Tracks…." She comments while pointing them out across the foundation. "…Do you know anyone that would wish ill will against Hanto-san, Koudo-san?" Indeed, it wasn't a sandstorm. These tracks definitely would not have survived if there had not been a fight.
'What the heck! Is some sort of mind reader!?…or is it…'He ponders with a frown before pushing his worries aside in favor of continuing observations. When he finally figures who this group of ninja are after, ryoji pauses a moment before begining his search around. Thankfully his search is short lived, thanks to tsubasa's suggestion and allows him a finally answer itam's question. "As well as any desert dweller can be Itami-san. And quite frankly, if it was the cause I have great doubts that it was someone who would wish him ill…if you don't mind me saying so?" He answers before taking one last scan in the direction of the cliffs before devouring the eye. "I'm curious though Fukuzawa-san, as to how you came across the name of someone as 'lowly' as I?" He asks curiously while wondering closer to the council member's general direction.
"Good Work, Thank you Itami. Now we know someone was here." A stressed brow and Koudo hangs his head to think, this couldn't have happened too long ago and he had to save Hanto. Koudo couldn't think of any enemies that Hanto might have, he was quite good at choosing the people he dealt with wisely, and this frustrated him "No, the only thing we can do now is search for the people that did this. If we're lucky, Hanto may still be alive." Yeah, he was sure of it, this was probably the work of a wind user. "This house may have been destroyed by a strong wind jutsu. Itami, Tsubuasa, search the caves to the southeast. We'll check out the cliffs to the north…Remember, we're looking for a ninja that uses wind techniques, that's all we know but there may be more of them." With that he nods to the squad and then to Ryoji and moves with ninja speed running to the northeast. They had to find Hanto, and fast, Koudo thought his friend's life depended on it. Splitting into teams of two was the best way to accomplish this.
Tsubasa watches koudo run off and scratches his head lightly with a confused look on his face. He shakes his head after the jounin is far away and then shrugs before turning to Itami, "Well…I guess…we're going to the caves. As I remember, these caves are a simple set of caverns that only extend about six feet under the ground. Usually, animals pile into them for shelter, but, we use to use them for shelter too. So it's entirely possible a group of rogues are there holding the man."
He holds up a finger again and then bends over to touch the ground. "Hmm, let's see, If I remember right, we're exactly a few hundred feet from the caves, around six hundred. We can get there in no time if we run, but unfortunately, I can't run. Therefore, I suggest we take the crystal highway. Even though you're not supposed to know about it."
Itami fixed her lips to reply to Ryoji, but instead, she decided against it. She didn't believe that someone would attack this man's house randomly, unless the individual was trying to make a statement of some sort, but…"People?" She inquires. It appears Koudo has an idea of who all was behind this attack. Hmm. "A strong wind jutsu. I see. To the southeast I go, then!" She chimes with a smile behind her scarf. "Do you have any…." She wasn't able to finish her question as Ryoji had run off to the north. A sigh parts her lips. "I suppose we're just looking for unusual wind…" A hand is placed to her headwrap in slight frustration.
As Tsubasa begins to speak, she nods softly and looks at him as he begins to point out the cave system in the desert. She was partly familiar, but she only traveled the caves that were familiar to her clan, so she wasn't all knowing of the rest of the network. "The crystal highway. If it is a must, then I'll take it. This Hanto is important to Koudo-san and it is imperative that we find him before it is too late. I believe you're more familiar with the system here than I am. I will follow your lead and learn as I go. However, since the crystal highway is to remain secret, I will not travel it's path after we have completed this investigation. Still, I know not what these people would want with Hanto. Is it his camera mechanisms?" She thinks aloud followed by a shrug.
'He never really did answer my question', ryoji thinks with a sigh before taking off after his supposed leader. "Tally ho dear, Fuku-san! Times a wasting eh?", He says enthusiasically while keeping a good pace behind koudo. Afterall there's no need to rush headlong into a possible trap or tire himself out needlessly. It is as they make there final approach to the cliffs that ryoji begins closing the distance slowly between them and ask, "So..do you have a plan or you plan to charge in there all heroic like?"
Koudo and Ryoji make their way to the cliffs northeast of Hanto's workshop. Koudo says to the Iga boy while in motion "I know who you are Iga Ryoji. There's lots of us ninja in the sand village, and we wish that you would join." Coming up to the cliffs "Ha! There shouldn't be any traps…" He notices the silhouette of a man at the top of the cliff. "Hey, you!…stop!!" He yells, and starts running up the cliff wall. Shurikens rain down from above as Koudo trips a wire attached to a camouflaged pouch "Oh crap!" Drawing a kunai he deflects some of the projectiles and dodges the rest, hoping none of them would hit Ryoji either. He found the target, but they had already made it over the head of the cliff.
The caves to the southeast were similar to how Tsubasa remembered them, but it seemed there was some recent modifications. The first thing they would notice upon approaching the caves was that there was a door, it seemed someone had set up a type of hideout here and there was actually one of these people standing and guarding the door. The man wears an old kimono and trousers with a thick rope tied around the waist. A katana is placed on his side in the rope but it is unsheathed.
Tsubasa shrugs as he steps forth and offers Itami a hand. Assuming she would take it, there would be handseals and then the desert would open up below them as they fell down a few feet and landed on something hard, cold and smooth. Once the crystal they were standing in sealed up, it started to emanate a faint glow, which was enough to give a view of the area. This was obviously a thing built for the Seishukuni to secretly and quickly move about important parts of the desert. "Well, this is it," his voice echos, "This is the crystal highway. Took our ancestors fifteen years to build it and we still add onto it today. There's even been a Sunagakure junction put in. Now, the riding is a bit of a problem, uh, hold on is best I can say."
Suddenly there was a rumbling as a wave of crystal came rolling down the highway and scooped them up. They flew through the cave system and ended up nearly fifty feet from the entrance to the cave hideout. Now, unfortunately, the seishukuni hadn't made this ride for comfort and so they are promptly shot up into the air as the hole reseals below them. They would land and then they would be staring at the man in front of the cave.
Now, Tsubasa would be fairly unphased by this, but in concern for Itami, he would look over, "Are you…okay? It's kind of tough for first timers when the seals send the waves."
Itami's eyes had to naturally adjust to the darkness that was present in the caves. Even with what faint glow was offered from the crystals, naturally they would take on a more reptilian form from behind her blinder so that she might see more clearly in the lack of light. "It's lovely. Fifteen years of beauty." She chuckles, though it begins to fade as there was a rumbling from behind that scooped them up, much to her surprise. At first it felt like she had been hit with a wall and considering how fast the crystal was going, the momentum wouldn't let her slip from the surface of it. Not that she wanted to, but this was a lot more than she was expecting. No sooner than the ride began it was over as she was shot up into the air, managing a shout as this happens only to fall to the ground in a heap. "…I..I'm fine…I think…" She replies with slightly heavy breaths. "…I think next time a warning might do nicely…" is said as she rises up from the ground and dusts herself off. She makes sure to readjust her clothes so nothing of her would be exposed to anyone. "Now…who are you?" She inquires to the man standing in front of the cave. She saw that he had a weapon, so she would place herself on the defensive just in case he decides to use it.
"Bah! I think more than enough of my clan has already joined wouldn't you say? And besides—", Ryoji is suddenly cut off as shuriken rained down while he follows koudo. Thinking quickly, the young iga leaps to the another foothold before continuing his climb in relative peace. 'Figured as much. But really. Does he have to be all fancy about it by climbing up like that? I mean geeze!' He thinks. When he finally manages to make it up to the cliff edge nearly out of breath he takes a quick glance around. In whisper ryoji asks, "What now or glorious leader?"
The guard at the door is a surprised to see the two randomly shoot out from the ground, he reaches for the hilt of his sword "Who are /you? I…I am not supposed to let anyone in." He says, the hand on his blade shaking.
Reaching the top of the cliff, Koudo takes a look straight ahead and at his peripherals. The target was seen running off ahead, they were definitely up to no good and probably the ones responsible for destroying the workshop. It was then that he noticed the incoming of more projectiles, this time it wasn't just a trap. A bunch of shuriken fly towards Ryoji with deadly accuracy. The jounin was quick to help, with a force of wind to change the course of the shuriken, the sneak attack still presented a danger to Ryoji. He looks at the young Iga with a sinister glare, this was not the time to be making jokes about his rank in the sand village "Aren't you glad I'm here?"
The ninja who threw the shuriken lands on the ground in the clearing in front of them, she wears tan wavy clothing, a girl with bandages, small in figure with black hair and bandaged wrappings on her forehead, arms, and shins. "Who are you, what do you know of Hanto?" Koudo asks, "Haruna." She says, looking towards the two of them like she's gonna kill them. "Think you can handle her, Ryoji?" Koudo thought that he could, but he forms a seal and makes a clone of earth to attack and distract the girl while he runs after the other ninja enemy.
Tsubasa shrugs as he goes over to look her over, "I'm sorry, I should have given you proper warning about the operating procedures of our highway. It wasn't made for comfort, it was made to get us around quietly and quickly so we could avoid your wars." He reaches into the satchel at his side and offers her a handkerchief with which to wipe off the dust.
Then he would turn to eye the guard at the door and sigh, "You're not serious. I can't hurt the man." He walks forward and offers the man a bow, "Hello, we'd really appreciate you letting us through this door. I really can't bring myself to hurt someone of your status. It would be a sin I could never atone for. Please, go back to your home and allow us entry sir." He would bow again and the nraise back up to wait and see the man's response.
After a few timid seconds, the man lowers his blade and then stutters, "But..but, they'll kill..they said I open the door for anyone they'd hurt my family in Suna."
Tsubasa walks forward and gives the door a push as he looks back at the man, "If your family is in Suna, then nothing will ever touch them. Tell her about it." He thrusts a finger at Itami as he walks into the cave and finds their captive Honto. "Oh, I take it you're the captive?" Seemingly, everything was taken care of. He would untie the captive honto and then lead them both to Itami.
Then he would grin, "Oh well, this is the problem of a Sunagakure Jounin Council Member and I really need to get back. I tell you what, I owe you one Sempai." With that, he would chuckle and disappear into the earth again, probably to shoot off towards Sunagakure in that crystal highway.
"Our wars? What do you mean?" Itami inquired. She wondered if he was speaking specifically of her clan. They were the only ones that she knew of that also used an underground network of caves to connect the villages, camps and etcetera. She sighs and shakes her head. "They're still not finished yet. I'm surprised that this place hasn't been discovered…" She grows quiet for a few moments, having dropped her defenses temporarily in that moment, but now she had to raise them back up for the guy that was guarding the entrance to the cave.
"Indeed, you can tell me. It is my duty to protect Suna and all it's inhabitants. That includes your family. We will leave this place together and I will provide you with protection until we reach the village.
"Are you serious!?", ryoji yelled after finally climbing up and over the cliff edge. Unfourtunatly, with koudo already to caught up in his own battle ryoji is left with no choice. A quick step to the side allows him to avoid the brunt of another hail of shuriken. Some of which however manages to catch part of his arm and cheeks. 'Kuso! Stupid blindness is gonna get me killed again *flash through handsigns* hope this works' He thinks before spewing up a smile tide of juicy, squirming eyeballs that seem crawl around in every direction and slip beneath haruna's footing before shifting around and tripping her up. Ryoji seizes the opportunity the moment she screams/yells(?) and tackles her to the ground. With her pinned to the ground, the iga gives her a quick lick on the cheek and a whisper in her ears sends torrent of paralyzing fear down her spine "But don't worry. He need not fear that sort of consequences yet. As long as you remain…still", he says creepily. "Oi!…could you hurry this along Fuku-san? I'm loosing too much enthusiam over here!" He yells annoyingly without turning away from his victim.
Hanto looked like he was beat up a bit, with a black eye and bruises but was able to walk "Thank you" He says in a weak voice. "I knew the sand would come to save me. You will always find the words of a friend to ring true." He says to Itami having learned a lesson himself. "…but I don't think it will be that easy, we have company."
A large six foot guy with a black cloth mask and samurai helmet with desert camo armored guards, and nunchaku on his side. He says to Itami and Hanto under the mask "I can not let you escape. The market for snap photography is like a gold mine. This Hanto will make me rich when I sell and distribute his product!" A ninja swift motion and he attacks Itami with a barrage of punches and secondary shadow punches.
Haruna was absolutely shocked by her opponent Ryoji. She was stunned and trapped by the Iga but after all of that she really got mad. With a spin flip up she jumps back only to charge at Ryoji with a shadow boxing combo using punches and kicks.
Koudo's earth clone would have slipped back into the earth, but the real Koudo was far ahead and one could only suspect that he was going up against the enemy.
For a guy his stature, Itami was surprised he could move so fast. She had to think fast, so despite Hanto's condition, she pushed him backwards causing him to stumble and fall back. He shouldn't have been hurt by the push more so than the pain that would have come from his wounds being triggered by the fall. Now that he was out of the way it was time to take this guy out. She'd seemingly flicker from view, but it was in fact her speed that aided her in avoiding all his attacks except for one punch that managed to catch her. It was simple enough to recover from, though. Straightening her hand out, she'd jab him in a pressure point shouting, "Yari te!" It didn't really have any effect. She grumbled, "Dammit…" Oh well, time to kick some arse then, literally.
Since this was an enclosed space, she wasn't sure this structure could last, but considering how deep they were, things should remain relatively sound. She focused strength into her legs where she would drive her leg up to kick the guy up into the celing to drive his helmet head into it. He managed to break some crystals from the strength of the kick and on his way down, she jumped up and spun around to deliver a finishing blow to him that would send him careening down to the ground near his crew so that she might take out multiple birds with one stone.
Ryoji laughs with insance glee as each punch hits there mark before sending him flying over the edge. "There all so beautiful..*cough, cough* when their mad…" He says aloud as he slowly descends to the earth below. And with a sickening crack something shatters under the sand built up from the crash landing. "Nice view isn't it?" a voice says beside Haruna. In answer she nods before turning back to pursue koudo; only for realization to dawn on her. It is just as she spins around and succesfully spins kicks ryoji into the nearby rock wall, that she nearly falls back on her butt from another set of slime. "I knof whath youm thith..*yanks his head out the wall* really! More of this! But let me ask you something? Is it succeding?" He asks ,but is answered with another round of shadow punches aimed for his head. 'Should've listened' Ryoji thinks as he raises his hand in time enough to block the attack and use the force to slide back on the trail of eyes and into the walls. Another leg is raised lazily up to stop from crashing into it before pushing off it to gain enough speed to piroute kick her off towards the edge of the cliff. "Now…will you join me? Or do you prefer a earlier but less dramatic end?" He ask curiously after he stops spinning.
A ninja with bandages as a headband that cover his eye, he probably lost an eye in battle. This guy was a really strong wind user and Koudo almost got cut bad by a few of his attacks, but he used fire to attack and weaken his opponent who, being purely a wind user was weak to fire. "This is your last chance…surrender!" says Koudo. But the guy makes a hand seal and starts manipulating wind. Koudo uses his own element against him to finish him off, as he sends pieces of a windmill shuriken with wind chakra to stab him from different angles.
A ninja with bandages as a headband to cover his eye, probably lost an eye in battle. "Where is Hanto!?" Says Koudo. He performs a set of seals and lands on tiger "Katon: Gokakyuu no Jutsu!" and spits a fireball at his opponent. He couldn't take any chances with the opponent who had potential to throw an A rank wind jutsu that could cut him to pieces, so he says to the burning man "This is your last chance, surrender!" Even with all odds against him, he hand seals and starts manipulating wind, but Koudo uses his own element against him and sends the pieces of a windmill shuriken to counter and stab him from different angles.
Gathering the body, he makes his way back to the head of the cliff, and approaches the battle between the two younger ninja. The girl Haruna surrenders when she sees her dead team mate. "Please, don't kill me." She says, on the verge of tears. Koudo replies, "We won't kill you Haruna, but you must cooperate." He doesn't have to tie her up and they head out to go meet with Itami and Tsubasa.
The large guy with shadow boxing taijutsu proved to be really strong when he took the hits from Itami, a full combo of powerful attacks that might kill someone else. He slowly gets up, his brow creased in a frown, and draws the nunchucks, spinning them on his right side, and left side, flips them over a shoulder before a forward stomp, lunging at Itami with a spinning nunchaku combo.
Itami was getting frustrated and she didn't want to have to go all out on this guy, but considering his stature, she didn't have much of a choice. Those nunchucks were moving pretty fast and as she avoided them, she was nicked a few times in the combo and even got a smack to her jaw by how quick it came across. She shook her head and held her hand up to her jaw wondering if it was dislocated, but it didn't feel that way. It was just a really hard strike.
She shifted her jaw a couple of times to make sure and once she was sure it was secure, she made a few handseals and drew fire to her arm to thrust forward and strike her enemy with as soon as he was done with that nunchaku combo. "I'll…be done with this guy in a few moments! (Hopefully.) It's just taking me a bit of time… Ugh, I hate guys like him!"
Ryoji sighs. "Well this was a waste of my time *peers at haruna* almost at least", he says wearily. When they finally manage to catch up to itami; ryoji waste very little time flashing through another set of hand signs. From the depths of his being arrives a wave of pink squirming mass that jetteson from his mouth and towards the sound of the clinking armor. The same pink mass surround the behemoth joints and constrict around his arms. "What the hell is this….Tongues!?" He yells as he tries to break free from the lock. Ryoji groans. "UGh! I can pratically taste him! And why the hell are you so bitter!" He yells.
Koudo and Ryoji enter the cavern hideout to find Hanto and Itami in a battle with the enemy. Koudo kneels beside Hanto who gives him a smile "Thank you, Koudo. But look, don't worry about me, I don't think that guy is going down without a fight." Koudo replies "Right, I'm glad you are still alive!" And a knowing grin is given to Hanto, for he was not a ninja but it was very honorable to have taken torture and not revealed the secrets about his craft.
Koudo watches Ryoji's attempt at ninjutsu, and it proves successful as the taijutsu user is at his breaking point. Koudo moves in with a kunai to capture the enemy. "Will you surrender?" This was a redundant question as the man doesn't even answer. Koudo takes a look back at the dead wind user and the girl fidgeting next to Hanto, even the guard, and takes a look back at the taijutsu user. The guy's expression breaks, he would go willingly but this one would get tied up.
The training mission turned into a B rank rescue mission, and the squad of sand ninja successfully rescued Hanto. "Nice work guys, but…what happened to Tsubasa?…and…where is Ryoji, and Haruna?…Well, thanks for your help Itami, and it's good to see you Hanto. We'll have you fixed up in no time at the village." Koudo says laughing, as they head out on their way back to the sand village the sun already setting.