The Recluse War - Seeing The Forest For The Trees


Kaido (emitter), Zankuro, Hikaru, Shinobu

Date: Unknown (log received June 8, 2015)


A group of Konoha shinobi are sent on an important mission to scout for Recluse movements in the forests deep inside the Land of Fire.

Poster's note: foul language filtered in obvious places.

"The Recluse War - Seeing The Forest For The Trees"

Unknown location

Zankuro would be called into the Jounin Council room to receive a mission. The mission would be simple and straightforwards and a team consisting of the Sarutobi, Hikaru and the graduating Student from the Academy, Inuzuka Shinobu and her nin-pup Kame. The mission was to survey a section of forest deep within the Land of Fire and scout for any possible Recluse movement. Zankuro would furthermore be admonished severely to NOT engage the Recluse if found, but to report back IMMEDIATELY. Messenger hawks would be sent to the team members to gather at the gates and await further instructions.

Zankuro's fingers could not get any more greasier. In fact, after disentangling his fingers from his hair, spiking it a bit, the Sarutobi was certain he managed to get every drop of grease that normally kept his hair so stylish back onto his hand. He sighs quietly and dug out a hankerchief. The process is one he takes his time with considering he wait for the rest of his team to arrive. And so long as he could focus on the one thing for awhile and not the dressing down the council gave him, the teen was more than happy to kill a bit of time.
"Skitters, Pup-pup, and mystery cousin H… They sure know how to test a guy." He shook his head at the glum thought spoken aloud, then looked up, searching the open space at the gates for any signs of the team.

To be honest, Hikaru had been surprised when he had received a mission of this caliber, considering the last task he'd been asked to do was some simple pest control. He was more excited than nervous. That meant that someone was recognizing his skill! Still, he kept his composure about him as he walked to the gates, seeing that fellow Zankuro that he had heard so much about, and greeted him with a nod. "You must be the mission party. I assume we are waiting for others?" Like the Hokage would really send two young Sarutobi on this sort of mission without any backup. That would have been… Well, some would call it suicide.

Shinobu has found herself getting on more and more missions as her graduation draws closer. Not that the girl is particularly happy or sad about this fact. It's just something that means she has to interact with people, and that's a bit… more difficult for her at times. She has Kame in her arms, the girl peeking over her ninken's head at the two Sarutobi as she waits for instructions. A few seals would send a genjutsu washing over the two, allowing them to hear her voice and understand Kame's. Yip! ~Kame and Shinobu reporting for duty!~

"Well, I—" Zankuro starts to say, leaning back all cool in response to Hikaru's "compliment". But then, his fellow Sarutobi goes on and manages to correct himself. The more rotund Sarutobi bows his head in defeat, moving it only afterwards to mechanically nod in answer to the follow up question. A bit of pep enters the boy's proverbial step upon sensing the mental nudging. Despite training tell him to do otherwise, Zankuro let the nudging in as per the instructions of the gut!
"There ya are Skitters, Pup-pup. Just in time." Zankuro nods in a sagely manner, then clapped his hands together. "You already got the basics of the missions in the missive, so I won't bore you guys with that. I can't stress enough however how not engaging the enemy — /if/ we are just that unlucky — is not A-ok today. This is strictly recon. No excuses." He looks about all shifty-eyed before motioning for both to move in close. Once they are there Zankuro whispers, "Unless I say otherwise, alright?" He leans back and winks. "Yosh, if that's all understood we can get underway with Skitters and Pup-pup taking point."

Hikaru didn't even notice the Genjutsu taking hold of him, until he saw Shinobu and Kame approaching and nearly jumped out of his skin when he heard the voice inside his head following Kame's yip. He stared dumbfounded at the pup, confusion written all over his face. "You.. I understood you!" he exclaimed, putting a hand to his head and looking to Shinobu for some sort of explanation. There was business at hand, though, and he quickly turned his attention to Zankuro's short speech. Hikaru frowned at his cousin when he mentioned the possibility of going against a direct order, but he said nothing now. He would, however, should the occasion arise.

Shinobu nods quietly at the orders, setting Kame down so that the two can run together. Kame yips an explanation. ~Shinobu figured out a way to translate me while I learn human speak, so as long as you're around her, you can understand me! And you can hear her talking to you two even if she isn't really talking!~ There's another nod at the explanation as Shinobu's voice comes through the genjutsu connection. 'Ready…' She moves a bit to take point, making sure her senses are working properly and that the team is ready before she moves to head out.

If Zankuro noted the frown, he certainly did a heck of a job not showing concern for it. He did on the other hand frown a little at Shinobu, or seemed to for a moment there before reverting to an easy-going facade. 'Later' He thought grimly. "Alright, basic half-diamond formation. Lil' Cous', I'm trusting you to guard our tail until I say otherwise." Zankuro states, and with that said, he motions for Shinobu and Kame to take off with him following right behind them. Well, not exactly right right behind them, but more off to the side behind them.
Yeah. Something like that.
In any case, the team is off with Zankuro doing his best to keep as much of an eye on the rest of the team as he did on the sides of the group as they made their way to their destination.
Which… Shinobu hopefully knew well enough about or asked, because Zankuro most certainly forgot to make mention of it during that brief little meeting.>.>

Hikaru nods quickly when Zankuro gave him his instructions, and as soon as the older Sarutobi was off, HIkaru was trailing right behind them, taking the tail. 'This is it,' he thought as his eyes scanned across the scattering of trees along the path to their destination. 'I have to focus… If something's amiss, I have to see it… I can't afford to lose this chance!' Hikaru so wanted to prove himself that he mustered every ounce of his mental energy into his task, keeping a sharp guard on the rear of their group. He wouldn't let anything happen on /his/ watch.

Shinobu hesitates before they get moving, glancing back to Zankuro. He would hear, '… Where to?' quietly in his mind, as well as Kame yipping, ~You never told us where we were going!~ Once that was actually cleared up, they would get to go on their merry way, both Shinobu and Kame sniffing to check to see if anything is amiss. Or if they could detect anything useful/deadly on the horizon.

The journey was fairly uneventful, there were no bandits and nothing that caused any delays in getting to the mission area. As the team arrived and started searching, Kame would notice the scent of several Recluse having traveled across the path recently. Shinobu would see the tracks and could easily figure out which way they went and approximately how many there are. Zankuro on the other hand would just manage to spot some debris left behind by someone camping. Hikaru would just be able to avoid falling flat on his face due to the dense foliage around him.

"What? Oh, right! Sorry. Thought that came with the missive. Just keep head'n forward for now. I'll clue ya in ahead of time when we gotta turn." Zankuro says after a bout of chuckling. And with that little hiccup out of the way and no new ones thrown at them along the way, the team makes it feeling jus a wee bit winded. Or at least Zankuro was winded. Huzzah for one two many beef bowls!
"Spread out a little, but don't stray too far out of sight." He warns the other before moving on himself. Upon spotting the debris, Zankuro takes a good long look from afar to make sure it isn't booby trapped before getting any closer, searching for signs of how long those that camped there had left by checking the fire as well as any clue on their numbers from the remains. "Hmm.. Any luck you two?"

Hikaru had followed behind steadfastly, focusing so intensely that his brain was starting to hurt. He rummaged through some of the tall brush surrounding the trees, moving quickly as his eyes worked double-time. All he needed was a — ACK! Hikaru gasps as his foot snags a root and he stumbles face first, his arms flailing wildly as he falls to the ground and barely catches himself before he totally eats it, puffing out a deep breath as he lays on his elbows and stares straight down at the dark dirt just inches from his face. 'Maybe I should relax a little…' Too much focus can make you lose it, apparently.

Shinobu skids to a halt, also breathing a bit faster with the run. Kame seems just fine, as the pup enjoys running a lot, but Shinobu was still working on getting her stamina back up to par with… well, any other shinobi. Rough times don't really help with how long you can hold out. The girl glances to Hikaru when he falls and winces just a bit at the faceplant. Poor guy… Kame, helpful as always, tries to tug the Sarutobi up by his shirt, though she's a bit small… The only thing she can really do is probably accidentally tear his shirt!
Through the genjutsu link, she would have told them that she saw footprints, and that they were following the right trail, according to Kame's nose. She peered carefully at these tracks, saying quietly, 'It … looks like … 20…'

Now is the time to be quiet and stealthy, as Shinobu says, there are quite a number of Recluse around. The forest falls silent which is not a good sign, usually a quiet forest is the sign of danger, and this forest is no exception. It seems the faceplant by Hikaru might have alerted their quarry as a kunai comes out of nowhere to attempt to stab poor Hikaru.
That's when a war cry breaks through the false peace, "BANZAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAI!!!!" as a large group of Recluse goons drop down from the trees armed with swords while others remain in the trees, probably seal and/or ninjutsu users.

Zankuro tenses up from the crash, and then whips his head about to catch the source. "Jeeze.." He facepalms, shakes his head, and made a mental note to train with Hikaru in the future. Seconds later, the hand is pulled away and looked upon with utter horror. 'I'm becoming my sister…' The very throught repels Zankuro, distracting him a little while Shinobu communicated the information.
"That's a pretty big — redwood! Skitters, Pup Pup! On Hiccups, now!" He calls out. And yes, he did just call Hikaru hiccups. A nickname that may very well stick for the rest of his life. :| But in the meantime, there is work to be done. Knowing he wasn't the fastest tool in the shed, Zankuro still rushed to Hikaru's side, building chakra rapidly along the way.

Hikaru heard what Shinobu had communicated to him telepathically, and the thought sent his blood racing. 'Twenty…?' He had just enough time to hear Zankuro shout before he heard it - the whistling of a kunai. By his noisy fall, he had given away his location, and now they were after him. His muscles seized and he swiftly rolled away, narrowly dodging the thrown knife and leaping onto his feet, his eyes scanning the treetops with bated breath. They were sure to throw another attack, and he had to be ready. 'Do not engage…' The order echoed in his mind, but this could be life or death! They had to get out of there, fight their way out if that's what it took!

Shinobu doesn't quite know how to react to the fact that there is an attacker… And then suddenly there are a lot more assaulting her senses, appearing on her radar before they even are visible to her single brown eye that's already filled to the brim with fear. Despite Zankuro's orders, Shinobu is … well, essentially gone, the girl aiming for the nearest hiding spot that doesn't have the nasty enemy's scent covering it. Kame stands her ground, keeping near Hikaru to obey the team leader and also make sure Hikaru doesn't have anything too bad to deal with by himself.

The war cry has a dual purpose, one to attempt and demoralize and paralyze the four of you and second, to call in more reinforcements. It would be a VERY good idea to escape now, because the only reason they aren't attacking immediately is to be able to surround the group and cut off all escape. It seems 20 was a very conservative estimate as the sounds of multiple feet running and jumping can be heard in the distance.

'All or nothing!' Zankuro flashed through hand sign after hand sign with that thought in mind, dividing his focus for a few precious moments to enter another state of mind. Though his eyes grow half-lidded, the teen is anything but focused…technically. EITHER WAY, he calls out for Hikaru to "Go the way of the Shadow" just as the jutsu is completed, roaring mightly as a last ditch distraction. The Recluse members nearest his fellow kinsman are subjected to an intense pressure demanding that they bowed down before the terror rushing their position. Out of the five there, four are at least tapped twice by an overlapping wave of terror.
Hopefully and with any luck, Hikaru was forced to endure the same family story times or guessed well, because otherwise, that last order might not be recieved as well as the Sarutobi hoped.

Hearing Zankuro's roar, Hikaru flinches, his eyes wide. He didn't know what his cousin was doing, but it looked terrifying. When Zankuro gave the order, Hikaru did his best to slip away unnoticed, fleeing into the darkness of the shadows and getting as far away as possible. He only hoped Zankuro could handle himself alone. 'Where the fir is Shinobu…?' He couldn't stop running to see. He would just pray she had the same idea that he did.

Shinobu is already quite a ways away, able to slip away from the entire grouping by being stealthy and quick. No longer in danger, she's able to collect her thoughts and looks back, sniffing to check to make sure her friends are okay. Kame runs as well, heeding Zankuro's orders and making sure that her partner is okay by racing towards the smell of Shinobu. Yip! The pair of Sarutobi would no longer be able to understand her, though she acts as if they do. ~Hurry up! I don't think we'll get any information here!~

The intimidating cry by Zankuro is enough to freeze the first wave that is coming after the group. The problem is that there's several other waves behind them that AREN'T frozen. Hikaru's bumbling causes quite a few to laugh uproariously and make comments like, "If this is Konoha's best, we'll destroy them in no time" "What? Are they sending rank amateurs against now?" "Is Konoha putting on vauderville plays for us?".
The Recluse are closing in and if Hikaru and Zankuro don't skedaddle RIGHT NOW, they won't be able to. The time has long since come for everyone to just cut and run for the now questionable safety of the deep forest.

Zankuro growls, but doesn't fall for their fiendish 'Make-em-angry' ploy. He couldn't in the state he was in even if he wanted to, but her sure as heck began running as if all of his fury went straight to his legs! "Gate of Opening, Gate of Healing… Release!!" He calls out after leaping over one of the recluse he tagged earlier. As soon as he hits the ground, the rotund Chuunin takes off like a bullet out of a gun! Sadly, all that really amounts to is his keeping up with Hikaru for all of two seconds…
"Shhhh—huff.. huff…why da… oak I… eat that… last… dumplin…."

Hikaru didn't feel the heat of pursuit anymore, but he could hear Zankuro following behind him, and looked back to see him struggling. He clenched his teeth. If somene didn't help him, he could be caught.. How could Hikaru allow that? What would he do now? Follow orders and continue to run, or turn back and attempt to save his cousin? 'No.. Turning back now would just trap both of us,' Hikaru reasoned as he moved swiftly through the trees, his eyes hardened. It was a difficult decision to make. But the recon information had to be delivered. The Hokage had to know that the Recluse had a large group this close to the village. He had to go on. And he /still/ didn't know where Shinobu was… Would he be the only one to escape? 'Please let both of them be alright,' he hoped strongly as he continued to run, feeling the burn of his legs pulsing throughout his whole body and exhaled with the air of his lungs. He had to keep going.

Shinobu didn't hear or see Hikaru (having one eye to look through is kind of detrimental to one's vision…) or her ninken. She wanted to stay back and wait, but instinct told her to get back to the village… So she did. She continued to run at top speed to Konoha, hoping that Kame and the Sarutobi are going to be okay. She's already running out of breath at this point, but she's also got a major lead on the others… So hopefully that's enough.
Kame runs alongside Hikaru, keeping a bit ahead of the boy as she dashes off. She continues to yip encouragement behind her, even if the two can't understand Inuzuka language. It's not like that would 'reveal' them, anyway. The bad guys were right on their tails.

The Recluse are definitely hot on the heels of Hikaru and Kame, Shinobu is lucky in that she hid before any of the Recluse saw her so she is free to make for Konoha. Zankuro on the other hand sadly was unable to escape and was surrounded by multiple Recluse. It looked pretty grim for the Sarutobi and as they advanced on him, their expressions were barely restrained glee.
That is, until someone calls out, "Yo! What the birch, are you part Akimichi or something?", coupled with, "Men smell awful!", then, "Great, I was summoned to pull THIS guy's maple outta the fire? I have to waste my bombs on him?". A couple of huge balls with the symbol "Bomb" on them, as well as a small tin cannister falls and the Recluse stare stupidly at them for the moment before the voice of Kaido is heard, "Uh Zankuro… hit the deck… oh, and cover your nose and mouth." Seconds later, the bombs explode and the canister releases it's poison sending Recluse flying, badly injured, or falling down, coughing and looking like their faces are melting. Kaido, Bandit, Bolt and Doborou drop and help up Zankuro and says, "Let's get out of here while we still can." They push Zankuro in front of them, getting him to escape.

Zankuro skids to a stop as soon as the first group of recluse members managed to get in front of him. Even without looking back, he knew that route was blocked as well. Rather than curse his luck or show fear in the face of impossible odds, the Sarutobi closed his eyes and smiled grimly at the men blocking the way forward.
"Heh.. 'Instantly Black' … Dad nailed." Even as he began to chuckle, Zankuro is flashing through handsigns again, preparing not for a means to create an escape but to leave the enemy limping with nothing to show for it; just ash and dust. The fire in his eyes and grim determination are the only warnings he gives to what was to come. Except… it.. doesn't?
"Wha…." Zankuro's eyes practically bug out of their sockets at the bomb in doborou's hand. Without another word, he dives for the ground, burying his face in the earth and covering his ears. Afterwards, the Kaido posse are gonna have to give him more than just a push, because the Sarutobi was a little too cautious about making sure he didn't wind up death from explosions. Once on the move he doesn't need to be told twice, or even bothers with a thank you. All that energy in him had to be put into full out run!

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