Date: March 1, 2011
Someone is stealing fish and money from stores owned and protected by the Ryokami. Mikado is dispatched to deal with the problem himself.
"Ryokami - Bindings of Fate"
Fish Market in the Land of Water
Kucha has seen better days. Although the girl has seen far worse, too. She's lingered in this quiet backwater in the Land of Water for nearly two weeks, now, and she knows that she's starting to frustrate people. So far, they have no idea who has been stealing their goods; she's skilled enough to hide her true talents, and she has been very, very careful. Stealing food, money, whatever she needs at any particular moment. The local criminal underworld is in uproar, as she has been quite indiscriminate, hitting people who pay good money to stop that from happening, as often as she does those who do not.
It's a chilly day, and the rain is a constant companion. Not that this seems to bother her very much. She's found a quiet spot on the roof of a tall building overlooking the fish market, and she's put an umbrella up over herself to guard against the elements. This is having a tough time doing so. But she's also enjoying her lunch. Delicious, salted fish. All the better for being free. It wouldn't be long now before she'd have to move on, but another couple of nights at least shouldn't hurt. She could stock up on supplies, and be in the next village in a few days.
Mikado sighs to himself silently. A bunch of useless grunts, the lot of them. He received notice a week ago about some thief hitting all the nearby shops and finally decided to come in to fix the problem himself. He spent the last few days in disguise, hanging about the shops and skulking in shadows. He finally caught the little nimble-fingered thief in the act stealing some salted fish from one of his stores. Not just a store that he protected, one of his own suppliers that would sometime hide illicit material and give it to specific customers. Maybe one or two transactions such as this in a day, but it helped bring in extra money. This Ryokami organization was spread very thin. When a bust did happen, it always appeared small-time. The big picture had alluded almost everyone.
And so Mikado found himself a rooftop away from Kucha, staring at her back through the cold rain, wondering how to deal with the situation. It only took a few minutes of pondering to decide his course of action. Leaping up to the slightly taller rooftop he lands without a sound. The only sound Kucha would hear is a long chain arcing through the air on it's way to wrap the girl up tight.
At the last possible moment, Kucha hears the chain cutting through the air. She is, in truth, completely ignorant of the kinds of people she's actually pissing off. She'd assumed that they would be, well, small time. Thugs and idiots. That someone as skilled as Mikado is taking a personal interest, is entirely and completely unexpected.
The fish is thrown up into the air, and she brings a kunai out from inside her clothing, the weapon sparking as it clashes against the chain. The problem is, Mikado is infinitely more skilled in this than she is. The chain wraps around her arm, and then spins around several more times, binding her up tightly. To her credit, the girl doesn't panic.
As the chain wraps rightly around the younger girl, Mikado pulls the girl flat against the rooftop and pulls hard, dragging her roughly across the rooftop. He uses his foot to painfully pin the girl's chest against the roof while standing tall in his cloak and hood. With his left hand on the chain he reaches up and draws the over-sized sword on his back, hefting it easily with one hand before dropping the blade to rest the tip against the neck of Kucha.
"More skilled than you know, girl." His voice is gruff and low with a certain tone of bored apathy. He locks eyes with the girl for a few moments before asking, "You've been trained as a ninja, and yet you wear no forehead protector. A missing-nin then. Makes sense, I guess, it's no wonder those idiots couldn't find you. No matter. What is your name, child? I might carve it into your gravestone if I am feeling generous."
Kucha grunts as she is dragged across the rooftop. She tries to struggle, of course, but, that stops when the blade is touching the skin of her neck. She feels sweat bead on her brow. Perhaps, this is where her story ends. It would be fitting. Dying for a portion of salted fish. As pointless and as unnecessary as everything else in her existence.
It isn't until the man accuses her of being a ninja that she feels a flare of indignation. Her eyes narrow, and she stiffens underneath the chains. "I am not a ninja." She hisses, anger drawing her voice low, a nasty growl. "And I won't tell you my name, either. If you are going to kill me, then kill me."
She is scared, of course. She doesn't want to die. But she's not going to beg, not to someone who had the audacity to accuse her of being one of /them/. Her pride is just too great for that. Nor is she going to apologize; so what if her life is in the hands of this man? If he is going to kill her, then simply lying and pretending to be sorry for what she had done isn't going to change that. He obviously cares nothing for her, or her motives, so let him at least finish it quickly.
The man seems to stand there for a few moments, obviously thinking. He jabs his sword downwards with surprising force, letting it sink deeply into rooftop just inches to the side of Kucha's face. He turns his body and straddles the air above Kucha, hunkering down to look the girl in the eyes with his elbows resting on his knees. If he were to sit down, he would be sitting on her hips. His gaze is quite intense, as he seems to be looking for something in Kucha's eyes.
"That is it then? Is your pride so great you won't even ask for you life nor give your name for a gravestone?" He let's the question hang in the air as the rain beats down on them from above. "And such venom for one so young towards ninja, I like this. I find you quite interesting, child. Tell me about yourself." An order, not a question.
This girl could be useful. She had a fire in her soul that he liked, and she obviously had nothing but the clothes on her back. He could give her so much more, and she would love him for it. But first he needed to know if she would follow his orders. If not, he might just have to break her to his will. Depending on the effort that would take, he might just kill her here and save himself a headache in the future.
Kucha flinches when the sword stabs into the roof. She, had been expecting that to be her end. But, when she doesn't die, she looks momentarily surprised. The words of the man above her are, strange. She doesn't quite understand why she is of interest to him. But she's not so stubborn as to see no benefit in getting on his good side.
"My family was wiped out in the Clan Wars." She says, without allowing herself much emotion. The words are frank, to the point. "We were small. I was, young, at the time. I couldn't do anything. The Kaguya slaughtered everyone. Because they thought we would be a threat to their precious… ninja village."
Some bitterness, despite her best attempt to hide it, leaks into her tone as she continues. "My family never got proper graves. Nobody but me remembers their names. I'm only alive because of that. So if you are going to kill me!" Tears, now. Hot and wet, contrasting the cool trickle that the rain splatters against her cheeks.
"If you are going to kill me before I get my revenge, I don't want anyone to remember my name, either!"
Mikado stares almost impassively over the girl. It is for just a moment he sees himself, looming over a girl wrapped in chains, forcing her to relive a horrible past in the cold rain. For just a moment, he sees the monster inside of himself. Without a word he loosens the chain with a flick of his wrist and offers the girl his hand to help her up.
"The Kaguya are scum, but so are shinobi in general. Using children as soldiers… It's sick. What if I told you I could help you. I could take you and mold you into a weapon to be feared, and one day we could wipe the shinobi from this world in a great cleansing fire. The shinobi nations are a plague on this planet, causing nothing but hatred and pain. These nations are still young, but the gain in power everyday. While they squabble and fight over petty differences I corrupt their system from the inside."
"So I give you a choice; I can relieve your suffering with but a flick of the wrist. It would be painless and swift. No more hurt, you can be with your family." He stands fully, looking over the fish markets. The people in the market continue on oblivious of the pair. "Or you can go back to that. Return to nothing. You will be weak, but you will be free and answer to none. Freedom is not an easy thing to let go of, child." He is silent for a moment before he levels his steely gaze at Kucha. "Or you can tell me your name and join me. You will have shelter, food, clothes, training and revenge. You will also have a master to obey, your freedom gone."
It is time for Kucha to decide her fate. Death, freedom or servitude.
The chains fall away.
There's no doubt in Kucha's mind that Mikado is capable of fulfilling his words. She has never seen someone move as swiftly as he did when he incapacitated her, and although she's far from being strong enough to claim her revenge on her own, she knows that she's stronger than the average thug. Her heart beats a little faster in her chest. This is, exciting.
What does freedom mean when it is a life without anything of value? Her revenge is what has kept her warm at night. But she may never find the strength she needs to claim that revenge on her own. She's tried to train herself as best she can since the death of her family, and she has advanced in inches. Far too slow.
So though the chains fall away, when she grabs Mikado's hand and hauls herself up, chains far more binding than mere physical restraints fit snug about her. "Nanashi Kucha is the name I have been using to avoid the Kaguya."
A deep breath, and then.
"But I am Mouii Kucha. Please. Let me help you burn down this world… Master."