Shaping Students Like Explosive Clay


Hotaru, Nendo, Kaneko

Date: September 8, 2015


A recent academy graduate teaches incoming academy students how to dodge.

"Shaping Students Like Explosive Clay"

Iwagakure Academy

It's the early morning before the start of a day at the Ninja Academy. The rising sun is barely covered by the dotted clouds that litter the sky. Most students have not even arrived to the academy, and the academy isn't quite open for the day. At the gates of the Academy, Hotaru would sit off to the side on the stone walkways leading within, as she looked over at the large building, and the even larger series of training buildings around it. Hotaru, for years, watched the children have fun out in the court yard, kicking and punching the strange scare-crow like dolls littering the fields within the gates. Now, she is days away from seeing if they will allow her into the academy as a special case. With her knees drawn to her chest, she sits hunched over, head resting on arms crossed over her knees as she day-dreams. Resting upon her shoulder, a cane made of Murasame metal heavily stylized like the rest of her outfit. She didn't look like an academy student anyways, not with the heavy flowing and plain kimono she wore. Most students wore something they could move around and do acrobatics in easily… She did not. She couldn't do those acrobatics, after all.

"AUGH, Dang it! I'm late!" Kaneko shot out of bed and out of her home. "AUGH, why the heck did my parents set this up for the weekends?" she whines under her breath.

It must have been a false alarm. All that rushing, and when Kaneko arrives at the front of the academy it's still closed! Hotaru must have noticed the academy student rushing towards the front gate, closed because the instructors haven't opened it yet for the day. Hotaru looks over her shoulder, blinking at what she sees as someone who is super enthusiastic about school. A smile creeps onto her face. She is just as enthusiastic to be approved to going to the academy. "Ah!" Hotaru says as she uncurls, and stretches out before lifting a hand and waving. "You're already here! You must like the academy a lot!"

"Huh? Are you the tutor?" Kaneko suddenly blurts out, fixing her hair and fixing her eyes (currently color unknown…) on Hotaru. "Unm… You're a bit small, though… My parents said my tutor was supposed to meet me outside the Academy."

A tutor? Here? She looks around in front of the academy, down the road both ways, and then back to Kaneko. "Uhm… Tutor? No, I'm not a tutor… I'm a student!" She proclaims, but whispers under her breath a moment "/Almost…/". Hotaru beams inside, because someone is actually talking to her… Despite the stigma that surrounds her. She slowly gets up, weakly, putting most of her weight on her cane. "I'm Hotaru… I thought you were a student too… I was waiting for this gate to open, so that I could explore the academy before it starts." She tries to be as polite and eloquent as possible, but it makes her sound wierd instead.

"Oh, okay.." Kaneko says with a faint sigh. "Well, I still need to- umm, oh right! I'm Kaneko. Murasame Kaneko. I'm not sure who my tutor is… Oh, I'm a student, too! Do you think we'll be in the same class? I only just started because my parents were so strict about everything." She makes a bit of a face. "There are only two classes. Iwa's got a really small academy right now. I think it's also that we try to graduate students as fast as possible? I mean, I know people who've graduated in a year, maybe two. I don't know if I'll be that lucky, though."

Nendo had free time after all of his worrying, with his father working the wheel and having plenty of clay on hand, the genin was free to move about for the day. With little else to do he'd take to jogging on the old path that would take him to the school grounds. The flowing waters there sounded the best and always made napping there a pleasant way to pass the day. When he neared however, he raised a brow slightly at the sight before him… not one, but two students standing outside. He was never so eager to go to class yet here they were… The one he recognized he'd call out to immediately while slowing from his jog to a walking pace. "Hey there, Koneko.. Friend of yours?" Nendo added the end while looking toward the girl he'd yet to be introduced to.

Said girl Nendo was yet to be introduced looked like she was having issues standing up at the moment. Never-the-less she smiles and greets Nendo. "I am Hotaru!" She says as she slowly raised a hand away from her cane to wave with a full smile on her face. She slides back down to sit, starting to pant as she clutched the sturdy metal cane she was walking with. "W-watanabe Hotaru." She seemed tuckered already, and she had just started to stand. "I hope I can graduate." She daydreams a little. "Graduate in a year? Two? I wouldn't mind even three!" She closes her eyes, giggling. "With a nice classroom full of friends!"

"Oh! Nendo-senpai! Are /you/ my tutor? My parents said they arranged one, and I was supposed to meet them here, but…" she sighs a bit, then Kaneko says, "Well, we just met! But I suppose we could be friends. Thi-" And then Hotaru says her name. "Well, yeah. This's Hotaru. She's a student like me! And Hotaru, this's Nendo! He's a genin. He said he'd help me train~!"

"Oh? Well… No, I haven't heard from your parents when it comes to being a tutor." Nendo answered with a slow shake of his head before looking to Hotaru and smiling lightly at her. "Toujitakumi, Nendo at your service." he introduced with a light bow of his form before glancing down at Kaneko once again. "Now then.. while I'm not your tutor, I can help out until they get here. All you need to do is let me know. That goes for you as well, Hotaru; feel free to ask me anything."

Hotaru has a string of questions. "Nendo-san, then? Very well. From here-on out I will call you Nendo." Hotaru drags herself to her feet. "Question one." She grunts, staring at his headband. "What was the academy like for you? Question two. How did you graduate? Question three. Did you have a lot of friends in the academy? Question four. Did you have to know a lot of taijutsu to become a good ninja? Question five…" Interrupt her. before she continues! She has a rather stern look on her face as she rattles through the questions most important to her… Nothing related to helping her train or anything of the sort, yet.

"Okay, then. Let's just practice here. I want to get so good at dodging that Kage-sama won't be able to beat me up!" She grins, then Kaneko blanches a bit at all the questions spewing from Hotaru's mouth. Quite promptly, a hand is over the Watanabe's mouth. "You should let him answer a question before moving onto the next, Hotaru-chan!" she exclaims.

Nendo smiled and nodded at the enthusiasm from Kaneno however when Hotaru grunted out the warning of her in-coming list, he glanced at her only for his eyes to start widening. The growing mountain of questions nearly amassed a physical weight, and if Kaneko hadn't stopped the girl Nendo no doubt would have fallen over into a question-induced coma. "Wow, ok then, Um… The Academy was nice, since my parents both started going off on missions around the time we moved here I liked the company. I graduated four years ago with seven clones being my limit in the test. I had a few friends that graduated with me but I was the odd man out when teams were formed so I've sort of lost touch and fallen behind the rest." He took a breath after answering those few and then smiled at the question of Taijutsu - no doubt because all of the others were held off by Kaneko's hand and thus, he could finish with this one. "I'm average at Taijutsu; I can move quickly, punch and kick with the rest of them… but I'm kind of weak really." The genin admitted while looking down on the girl and her cane. He put on a thoughtful expression, and then let a broad smile show on his face as he started to speak again, "There was a boy in my graduating class who was so frail he couldn't throw a punch without hurting his hands. But when it came to the test, he didn't only make more clones than everyone else, he made Earth Clones. I bet he's well on his way to being a Jounin by now." And then his eyes turned to Kaneko for the last note on that student. "He was horrible at dodging in the beginning, by the way. In the end he was the fastest of us all, still couldn't so much as think of taijutsu without his hands aching though."

Hotaru was abruptly cut off by Kaneko, but Kaneko made up for it when she used the suffix -chan. Chan? Chan! That could possibly mean… Hotaru made a friend! Her eyes wince tightly as happiness wells up. So much so that she almost missed everything Nendo said, until he talked about a boy who couldn't throw a punch well at all, but could make earth clones. Earth Clones? Earth clones! "Really!? He didn't pass using taijutsu at all!?" You could almost see the stars glitter around the Watanabe-eyed girl. Truly, all that information has boosted her mood quite heavily. Enough that she lets go of her cane to cheer, and falls to her bottom. "Aaah!" She would squeak, quickly scrambling to grab her cane. Just then, a chunin instructor would open the gates to the academy, before moving on to do other things. The training grounds were now open for use…

Kaneko lets go of Hotaru's mouth for now, which resulted in a huge barrage of ….. admiration? Well, then… The girl blinks a bit and ends up acting as a cushion for the fallen Watanabe, and she winces a bit. "You should be more careful…" she mutters, helping Hotaru up efore looking to Nendo. "Let's go train, then! I'm going to learn how to become the champion of dodging!"

Nendo chuckled lightly at the two of them and moved through the gate toward the training grounds. He had brought a few kunai with him that his mother had let him use as a child, blunt ones that a child could use without worry of injury. In the back of his mind he worried about if he had brought enough bandages along with him, but was sure he'd not hurt the girl too badly.

Hotaru is excited to train too! Even though she has yet to get a decision whether she -can- join the academy thanks to her disabilities. Yet, even though Hotaru will not be a master of dodging ever, she still wants to practice what she does know… She raises one hand to the sky, before pointing towards the gates. "Alright, Koneko… C-… ch… Koneko-'chaan'! And Nendo-se…sensei!" It was really hard using those honorrifics, when she doesn't believe she had ever used them. "Let's go!" She says as she moves as quickly as she can into the training area, which wasn't fast. Fortunately, the training yards weren't entirely hard to get to. With practice dummies all about, prepared for the students who have yet to come, it leaves Koneko, Nendo, and Hotaru with an infinite supply. Though, with dodging being the priority, it might be Nendo who is the training dummy! Technically!

"Okay! I'm ready!" she says, charging into the center and bouncing in the middle. Classes weren't in session since it was the weekend, but the training facilities were free for students to use! "Nendo-sensei, let's go! And then… I suppose Hotaru-chan can practice, too? With clones, might be good."

Nendo didn't rush too far, making sure that Hotaru was alright with moving around at all in her condition. Still, he'd not question her on it and instead remained silent so he didn't cause any trouble for the seemingly shy girl. Once he reached the edge of the training area that Kaneko had picked out however, Nendo drew free a single kunai and spun it on his index finger before gripping hold of it by the narrow handle so she could see the upward-pointing blade and how its edges were rounded. "I'm going to be using these on you today so at the worse you'll be getting a few bruises, Kaneko. Once you're comfortable dodging I'll switch to a real one though; we can't expect any enemies to be nice enough to only want to bruise someone after all." Nendo spelled out before he tossed the kunai toward Kaneko, a lighter throw than what he'd use normally but he was only here to train the girl, not harm her after all.

Hotaru watched the Kunai fly with excitement in her face! Oh, how she wanted to dodge something like that! "Kaneko-chan! Do your best!" Hotaru said, as she did her best too. All the excitement in the air caused Hotaru to want to train as well. She rest her wrists upon her cane as she creates a hand-seal, channeling chakra. Just in case she gets a turn, she wanted to practice her dodging abilities! "I'm going to do my best too!" She'd state with a deep breath.

Kaneko takes a breath and nods. "Okay, Sensei!" she says. Kaneko bunches up her muscles to avoid the kunai, but she still ends up getting hurt… "Not again…" she mutters, crossing her arms and staring at her legs. "Work properly, legs! Do you want to feet beat up again?" She looks up to Nendo. "Let's keep going."

Nendo closed an eye but otherwise kept any signs of pain or regret from his expression while he drew a second kunai and began walking sideways with it. "Alright. Move around a little, Kaneko, you never want to stand in one spot when you're in a fight and you always want to be keeping a close eye on your opponent; you need to try reading their moves to the best of your ability." He explained as he circled slowly, keeping an eye on the girl before he'd again toss a kunai in her direction once more.

Hotaru walks the same distance from Nendo as Kaneko, can tapping the ground rhytmically, "Okay! I'm ready! If you could, please throw one at me!" She says, welling with excitement. Hotaru makes a few more hand seals, only letting go of her cane as she creates a small flame and throws it a distance between Nendo and herself. "My Otosan taught me how to dodge things, but in a different way! So, I'll be okay!" She admits.

Kaneko takes a breath and tries to dodge again, but for some reason she seems like a magnet to all incoming attacks. She fails once more to dodge, and she ends up with a nice bruise on her leg. "DANG NABBIT!" she huffs aloud, kicking the kunai. Out of frustration, she picks up a rock (of which there are plenty of) and starts chucking them at Nendo. "Why can't I dodge?? Isn't is supposed to be easy?" she grumbles, keeping a careful eye out to try and watch the whole process. maybe she can learn something. And she completely ignores Hotaru, too, in her irritation.

Nendo quickly began retreating from that wildly flung assault of Kaneko, putting more distance between her and himself. He let his eyes turn from her only when the rocks were close enough, focusing on the first and twisting at the shoulder to let it sail just barely past him. The second rock was lower than the third and he most likely would have dodged it though the sight of Hotaru's flames caught his attention; the rock made its mark, striking him just below the knee however Nendo used it to his advantage. The genin let the pain drive him to one knee so that he could duck down easily below the third rock before both hands reached to his pouch and drew free a pair of kunai for Kaneko. He'd not forgotten they were only sparring however, and when he threw those kunai they were thrown lightly at Kaneko with a third kunai being tossed at Hotaru to test this dodging technique she mentioned.

She planned it so carefully! She was going to dodge the Kunai! She made the appropriate hand-seals! Just like she practiced, but her hand-seals were too slow, and with the addition of her cane… She was hit with the Kunai. She wasn't bleeding, but she was knocked off her feet… She also sort of sniffled a little, rubbing her eyes. "W-wha? That was too fast! I… I was too slow… I… Nnh.. *Sniffle* That hurt…"

Kaneko scowls as she finds herself too slow once more. "DANG IT!!!" she grumbles. She doesn't scream, but she sounds extremely frustrated at the moment. "I'm gonna practice on my own," she mutters, stomping off to a different corner of the room to just jump around and practice her movements. Maybe her injuries were making her a bit stiff?

Nendo covered his face with a hand and let out a long sigh, looking toward Hotaru he took in a deep breath before pressing to his feet and moving across the floor to begin gathering up his thrown kunai. He'd tuck each kunai into place in his pouch before drawing out a cloth and a small container. Opening the container and jostling free a few pieces of ice into the cloth, Nendo folded it over and offered the cloth to Hotaru. "Here, put this on your bruise. A little ice will help with the pain." He explained, the remainder of the ice was being saved for Kaneko. He'd take care of Kaneko once he thought of a good way to help boost her confidence.

Hotaru would take the ice and bandages, and place them against the spot where she was struck. "I should probably ask Daddy to get me some real ninja clothes…" She says as she fights off even more sniffles. "I need to work harder, or else they aren't going to let me into the academy either…" So she ought to stop crying. She grabs her cane and slowly drags herself to her shaking feet. "T-thank you Nendo-san!" She says as her eyes water.

Kaneko continues to look a bit silly. She's just dancing around trying to avoid invisible punches and kicks. She seems pretty coordinated, too! The only problem is that she freaks out when an actual weapon is coming at her… Sigh…

Nendo would pour the remaining ice into the second cloth he had, bundling it into a make-shift ice pack before rising to his feet and bringing a finger to his lips. Then the genin was on the move toward Kaneko, slowly walking toward her with a slight smirk on his lips as he tried staying out of her field of view. Only when he was close enough would he reach out with that pack to press it against her left shoulder. "You're doging really well now, feel up for trying again?" He offered with a curious tone, a slight glimmer in his eye as he now had an idea on how he could help the girl with her dodging problem.

After Hotaru cleared the tears from her eyes, and made sure that no one else saw her cry over getting hit with a kunai and getting bruised, Hotaru would walk over. Slowly. Her legs were starting to become tired, but despite the bruise, she still felt as if she'd push herself more just so that she could experience what it is like to have friends longer. "Kaneko-san. You dodge a lot better than me at least… I need to practice more. A lot more." Hotaru still reaches up to rub her eyes despite the waterwork having stopped. "… I'm going to try again though, if you will!"

"Alright," Kaneko says, taking the ice and putting it on her bruise. Ahhhh… Much better. The girl glances over to Hotaru and says, "Oh, thanks. Umm, so I guess we're both ready, Nendo-sensei. Let's go!" She offers the ice pack to him and then goes to take her spot again.

Nendo would take a moment to collect the ice in his container once more, guessing it mgiht be needed after this training as well even if he had thought of a good way to make her feel a little more comfortable with the training. "Yeah, be sure you show me some of those cool moves you were practicing, Kaneko. You too Hotaru; I want to see that technique you mentioned." Nendo called to the pair while packing his things into his pouch. Once he was satisfied he'd draw out a trio of kunai and look at the two girls before giving a nod of warning just before he tossed those knives as he had before.

It was tough being a shinobi. Here, she wished to join the academy and fight like a true shinobi… Yet she could barely lift her hand off her cane without her legs giving way. Another Kunai trailed in the air, aimed straight forward. She let go of her cane to bring her hands up to create the seals she needed to replace herself with a nearby flame, but the seals were not fast enough. Once more the Kunai strikes against her, knocking her off her feet and onto the ground. Upon her back, she got to see how pretty the sky was. That's a bonus. "… I'm never going to make it into the academy like this… They'll reject me." Hotaru would draw herself up, so that she rests upon her knees, giving her crippled legs a rest. "Okay, Nendo-san… I'll show you!" she pulls her cane over to her, settling it in front of you as she took her time making hand seals, ending on the 'Tora' seal. "Fire Release: Dragon Fire Technique!" Maybe if she used this, they'd let her into the academy. They'd approve her application regardless. Drawing in a deep breath of air, she focuses her chakra into her mouth, and exhales. A long and focused stream of fire leaves her mouth, steadily expanding as it moves away from her. It might not hit Nendo, but it certainly will burn a few training dummies scattered along the academy's training ground…

Kaneko avoids the kunai, grinning at the success. "Yes!" she says cheerfully, giving a little fist pump. When Hotaru looks so upset, she frowns a bit. "Hey, wait… Wha-" She blinks a bit at the sudden fire and says, "ACK! I- uhh… Will go grab help." Then she flees.

Nendo grinned at seeing Kaneko dodging the kunai thrown at her however when the kunai thrown at Hotaru hit he knew he'd not been mindful enough.. Still, she wasn't crying which was a plus. Infact, she seemed really enthusiastic… forming her hand signs in preparatio— "Oh sweet pottery kilm what the—!" The genin called out in surprise while diving out of the way. He'd tuck and roll to put as much distance as he could between himself and those flames before laughing a bit weakly. His lapel hanging from his right side was singed slightly but he had a grin on his face despite that. "That was really good, Hotaru but get ready to dodge these, it's just you and me now." Nendo warned as he drew a pair of the training kunai free and tossed them toward the girl, he was more careful seeing as she was kneeling and wouldn't be able to dodge very easily.

Hotaru wanted to practice her fire-replacement technique, but after getting hit a few times before, she was slighly afraid of failing again. Instead, she brought her cane up and flinched. It was actually fortunate that the first kunai bounced off the cane! It knocked her backwards again which made for the second Kunai whizzing overhead. "W-wha!?" The unprepared girl squeaks as she crawls aside a distance, to heft herself up using her cane once again. Using a C-rank Ninjutsu might be easy for a genin, and easy as cake for a Chunin, but using just one of those certainly tuckers Hotaru out… She didn't think she could pull it off again without exhausting herself. "I-I dodged them!" Technically…

Nendo took the moment to clap as he smiled at her. "Very good! Dodging isn't everything, if you can't run you need to think of other things you can do. That was really good thinking. These will be the last ones for today, Hotaru." Nendo explained while picking out another pair of kunai and letting her see them in his hand before he tossed them toward her again. He didn't want to push the girl too much, and from the kind of attack she had let out along with the rest of their training he was fairly certain she was getting close.

Hotaru had already prepared seals before Nendo even decided to throw. She didn't want to be caught unprepared. Finally, she was able to finish the set of hand-seals just before the Kunai planted into her. The source of the flame came from a training-dummy that was still burning from her earlier technique. The Kunais look like they hit, for a moment, striking where Hotaru once was before the girl exploded in flames. Of course, the draw-back of the replacement technique? Well, you are replaced with where the fire-source was… Which means… "AAAAH! HELP!" Hotaru would call out, as she hangs off the training dummy that was still smoldering a little. Her arms were wrapped around the neck of it, cane clutched into her hand as her feet dangled about three feet off the ground. Given she has never been a few feet off the ground in her life, this was actually a little scary…

Nendo whistled in appreciation at finally getting to see her pull off that replacement, a smile on his lips only until he heard her screams. He was quick to shake off the training mentality, using his full speed to rush toward the smoldering dummy and reach for her sides so he could take hold of her. "You're alright, Hotaru; let go and I can set you down. Are you hurt anywhere? Is anything hot?" He asked, beginning to ramble over any kind of injury he could think of - anything from a third-degree burn to a splinter - while he used one of his sandaled feet to knock against the embers so they could be snuffed out.

Hotaru was gently set on the ground so she could get her barings and plant her cane to the ground. "I'm perfectly fine, Mendo-san! Watanabe always wear fire-proof clothing." Thus, she wouldn't have been burned. Thankfully! "O-oh… Nendo-san… Uh… can I ask a favor?" She says as she dusts herself off gently and looks over towards the academy…

"Oh yeah? Maybe I should ask about that in case I get a little too close to an explosion one day." Nendo nodded as he stepped back and checked over the few burned dummies, making sure none of them were still smoldering while listening to what Hotaru had to ask. "You can ask me just about anything; I've got to keep a few secrets after all."

"If you could… Could you tell them to let me join the academy?" Hotaru asks as she turns towards the gate, rubbing her nose. "If I keep working at it, I'll be able to walk better! So… They should… should approve the paper… uh… applica… application! The Application my Daddy sent in!" She turns her head to look at Nendo, tears welling up again. The tears are a-flowing again… "I don't want to see the world from my window anymore. I want to be a part of it!"

Nendo blinked and then showed her a smile as he nodded his head in agreement. "I'll talk with anyone I can come across and do whatever I can to get them to accept it. You're going to be a great addition not only to the academy but when you graduate too." Nendo wasn't all talk, he meant each word after seeing her prowess with ninjutsu; she was a genius or on the boarder of being one with such a control of fire at her age, if she could walk freely on top of it… it was a little frightening actually. Scary enough to make Nendo smile more broadly.

Hotaru might be a 'genius', but being crippled means that the missions expected of a shinobi cannot be done normally. That's likely why her application may be rejected. Who knows, though. While most shinobi stop being shinobi when they become barely able to use their legs, maybe it's possible for one who started out barely knowing how to use them to become one. "Okay! I… I don't know who says I can or can't, but…" She stares at the Toujitakumi a few moments before she hangs her head low a little. "Thank you! It's nice to have someone other than Father think I could be a good Ninja… It really is! S-so, you can be my friend too!"

when she bowed to him, Nendo took a step back and bowed to her as well, a slight smile showing on his lips before he stood upright and looked her over. "We can start with walks, maybe just to the square for now and then further and further. Soon you'll be able to get to the cliff I bet. For now though… I think we could both use a break. You and Kaneko wore me out." Nendo admitted, it had been a while since he'd gotten rocks thrown at him.. and he couldn't remember the last time someone spat fire in his direction so today was a good day in his book.

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