Date: July 23, 2010
A training session between sisters turns into a nightmare of pain and horror.
"She'll Be Okay Again"
Training Fields - Sunagakure
It wasn't often that Ruri and Rinako trained together these days. Their specialties lay in different areas, after all. However, today is different. Ruri has invited/cajoled Rinako to join her at the Training Fields during this cooler part of the day, approaching evening. That way there would be minimal complaining about the temperature and her twin's sleep needs. See? Ruri is considerate of her sister's preferences! …Sometimes! …And also her own preference not to hear the whining.
Anyway, if they're both here now, or if Rinako will be here soon, the fact remains that the sun is low in the sky, and Ruri is doing some stretches. Maybe Taijutsu isn't her specialty, but even if she does not plan to attack physically, being able to DODGE is certainly useful. Ruri takes a moment in her stretches to rub a hand over the bandanna she keeps over her right eye. She'll probably never really get used to the feeling of emptiness there, even if she lives to be a hundred. It's just… Unnatural. She's almost always aware of it, even when it's only on the peripheral of her consciousness.
It's better than being Sheex's 'host body', though. So, she supposes she can't complain. And with the potential benefits gained as a result of Sheex's failed take-over… She smirks briefly. This training session will hopefully be very fruitful.
Doing something as physically intensive as training was never high on Rinako's list of things to do, despite how necessary it was for a Chuunin to keep their skills in shape. Many times she attempted to dodge the Jounin of her village when they came for her during the appointed times, but was unsuccessful most of the time. The Jounin of Sunagakure did not attain their rank through poor performance, after all. But dodging someone who wanted you to train with them became much harder when you had to sleep in the same space as they did. And Rinako did a LOT of sleeping, some of it invariably at her home, thus making her an easy enough victim for Ruri's vile mechanations.
"Coulda stayed in bed… When did I even agree to this? I need to pay more attention to what I say in my sleep."
Muttering under her breath, the dark-haired kunoichi toes a bit of sand, trying not to think of all the other things, things that required nowhere near the energy or effort, that she could be doing, even as she stretches her arm across her chest. She casts a look over towards her sibling, where the younger of the pair was doing her own bit of loosening up, taking a moment to allow her eyes to linger on a few less savory areas, or perhaps more savory, before looking away. She needed to focus! But did she? Did she really? It was only a spar, and spars were kind of like games, after all.
Dark eyes turn next towards the dark-orange sun, beginning to slip beyond the horizon, signaling the end of the day, which meant the temperature would soon start dropping. After several moments, she finishes loosening up the muscles and tendons in her arms, bending at the waist as she spreads her legs and reaches with both hands towards one of her ankles.
"This isn't going to take too long, is it? Because they're having a special on seaweed jerky at the Sandstorm, and I don't want to miss out."
Ruri's smirk vanishes as Rinako's complaining starts up. "You agreed when I asked you for help. Not all of us have — " she was about to say, 'A monster sealed inside of us with huge amounts of Chakra we can tap into', but she knows that's a sensitive subject. Not just for Rinako, but for Ruri too! So she finishes with, " — your endurance. I was literally falling asleep on that last mission, and was so exhausted by the end of it that I couldn't even stand anymore. That's not acceptable. I need to build up my stamina, both in physical terms and Chakra-wise. Since you know a lot about stamina-building exercises, I came to you."
Ruri's left eyebrow comes down sharply. "But if sleeping and eating are more important to you than helping me make sure I won't fail everyone the next time I have to push myself really hard… I guess you can leave. Maybe Kara has some pointers for me about lasting longer…"
Dark eyes roll about in their sockets as Ruri begins lecturing her elder sibling, yet again! She had a feeling that their relationship was backwards, and that she should probably be the responsible one, worried for the safety of everyone and anything around her. Instead, she'd just have to trust that she was bigger, meaner, and stronger than anything that might threaten her younger sister or friends, because, as far as she was concerned, being able to crush large things into tiny things with her bare hands was much easier than being the responsible sister.
One had only to see Ruri's constantly foul mood to reach the same conclusion!
"You worry too much, Imouto-chan. I'd never let some giant… corpse… mound… thing annihilate our team. Or touch you." If she caught the near-slip of her twin's tongue, she gave no sign of it. Yet at that last statement, Rinako's form abruptly comes out of her bending stretch, propping her hands on her hips with her legs still spread apart, her eyes narrowing suspiciously.
"Why, has she been offering? Just what kind of exercises? Forget it, I don't want you going off somewhere alone with her. To train or anything else! Not without me there." She lifts a hand, her palms and wrists wrapped in supporting bandages, to level a determined, authoritative finger at the her mirror image. "You watch yourself around her. Tch…"
Shaking the sand out of her sandals, the elder of the twins brings her feet together again, bending down to touch her toes briefly after giving her sibling a last, suspicious scowl. When she rights herself again, she reaches up to her mid-section, adjusting the straps and bottom hem of the sports bra she wore in place of her normal, looser top, tugging on it just a bit as she was already starting to sweat.
"Shoulda brought my canteen."
Ruri blinks at the sudden shift in body language, tone, and subject. "…No, she hasn't offered. But I'm not going to bug Shemri-san when she has a kid to take care of, and I don't really know many others who could reliably teach me about stamina-building, or whom I would trust to do so." She peers at Rinako. "…Did something happen between you and Kara? I've never heard you talk this way about her before. It's like you don't trust her or…" Her eye narrows a bit, "…Or you don't trust ME."
Rinako seems to have moved on from that subject, however, and is ready to begin, so Ruri decides to leave it alone unless her sister chooses to answer or comment. "Alright. You're the stamina expert. Where do I begin?" She is dressed similarly to Rinako, though she has selected her clothing in her typical (ninja-)fashionable manner. A black lycra top, black lycra exercise-briefs, and some tabi on her feet. That's… Pretty much it. Not only does this provide her with maximum access to her various Flesh Scroll tattoos — and by this point in Ruri's skill development, she has quite an impressive collection of them — it also means maximum mobility. And she is only 20% off from maximum fan-service too. Or maybe that's 'Rinako-service' in this instance.
She wasn't expecting to need to use any ninja tools for this, so she has left her belt, tool pouch, and her FAR more modest clothing in a bundle out of the way.
"NO! … Ahem, no, of course not. I'm just looking after my little sister."
Turning abruptly away, Rinako brings up her fist and coughs awkwardly into it. By the time she's turned back, she's got her business face on. Well, maybe not, but she's at least not looking bored or complainy, instead poking around the wrappings on her wrist to make sure they're still plenty tight. She shrugs affably at the question, peeking up with a tiny smirk.
"Well, I can think of a few ways to make sure you can last longer…" The elder kunoichi places a hand to the back of her neck, rolling her head to one side, and then the other, mentally chastising herself. Bad Rinako! "Well, if you wanted to get buff, sure, we could go benchpress some boulders. But since you probably want more chakra, there's really only one way to get it: You have to spend it."
The jinchuriki props a fist on her hip, gesturing aimlessly with her other hand as she does her best to explain. Having a store of stamina that was the equal of most Jounin simply came naturally to her, teaching others to achieve it was quite a bit harder! "It's like with any major muscle group, you have to break it down, over and over, until it grows back stronger. You have to expel so much that you think you're going to pass out, and then you have to use even more until your body actually starts to hurt. At least, that's what I had to do to get strong enough to learn how to draw out and use You-Know-Who's chakra. It might work a little different for you, but the fundamentals are the same."
The dark-haired kunoichi drops her hand. "Unless you just want to work out, in which case I can flick rocks at you. Which would be an awesome way to spend the evening."
Ruri starts off nodding and listening, but at the point where Rinako starts talking about using up so much Chakra that one is about to pass out, and then going after more, she starts just staring. When her sister finishes, Ruri says, "I suppose this is somewhat excusable, since the academy didn't exist when we were training for Genin-equivalent, and I never see you reading any books worth a damn. However, I feel I must inform you of something… For people without crazy-go-nuts beasts at our beck and call, exhausting our Chakra in that way has a very high probability of being lethal. Repeating a Jutsu over and over will cause one's Chakra to become more potent, because it's building up 'experience' which in turn makes spiritual energy stronger. And since spiritual energy is one half of Chakra, the stronger your spiritual energy, the stronger the end result. This is all stuff I know already."
She sighs and holds her hands out at her sides, palms up, and just shrugs. "I guess I just thought you would have some great ideas for a specific work-out routine or something. Maybe certain Jutsu that are good for repeating, or a special way of doing them. If dodging rocks is the best you can offer, then I'll take it, I suppose."
"Hey, hey, hey! I read plenty, okay!? Just because I'm not always studying doesn't mean I'm not learning new things. You'd be surprised at the insight in some of the issues of Bareback Kunoichi Monthly."
After defending her choice of literature, or rather her overwhelming lack of variety in literature, Rinako spreads her hands helplessly, giving a meek shrug, along with a smile of apology. "Sorry, Imouto-chan. There's no shortcuts to power for you to take. If you want to become the evil overlord of Sunagakure and send chills up the backs of small children with but a glance, you're going to have to work for it like all the other evil witches that came before had to." She pauses for a moment, fingering her chin in thought. "There's lots of ways you can raise your physical stamina, almost any exercise can do that. But let's get real, you're a total wimp! For you, we need to chakracise."
Even as she's poking fun at her sibling's lack of physical strength, the elder of the twin kunoichi is approaching the boulder-lined barrier of the training area, which kept the troublesome, ever-present winds from burying the training grounds beneath the sand. Her calloused palms run across the rough surface of a broken piece of rock, about three times her own size, before rubbing them together. Getting a grip on one of the handholds, she digs into the sand beneath it with the other, before giving a grunt of effort and heaving. At first, nothing happens. And then, slowly, the rock begins to lift, causing Rinako to change her grip as she lifts it up to her chest, then to change it again as she hefts it overhead, stepping back and bowing slightly under the weight as loose bits of sand rain down, causing her to cough. Taking slow, measured steps, so as not to lose her grip and drop the unwieldly, elongated stone on herself, Rinako's feet approach her sibling once more, finally chucking the solid mass back onto the sand, causing a miniature sandstorm to be kicked up.
Once she's done coughing and waving a hand in front of her face to clear the dust, she points at the towering rock planted firmly into the grund. "A lot of skinny-armed people use their chakra to boost their physical strength. That's how I started, so, I don't know, maybe it'll help you, too. I want you to move this thing with your strength or chakra. Tip it over, roll it, pick it up, whatever works. And no crashing some enormous wall-safe into it!"
Ruri watches as Rinako lifts the boulder all on her own and carries it over. She squints at the minor dust storm kicked up. It's not that she's not impressed by her sister's strength — or at least her Chakra-enhanced strength, if not muscles — but she has somehow come to expect that Rinako can do things like this without much effort. That's just one of the reasons she has always felt her sister is stronger than her. Most of the time it's in the department of spirit, but bodily, Rinako is also far superior. No one expects Superman to be incapable of facing the challenges presented to him. Similarly, Ruri never expects Rinako to ever fail to overcome any hurdle she comes across.
With that bit of introspection/explanation out of the way, the younger Rurohashi twin takes her time in contemplating the boulder. It's not going anywhere — unless Rinako wants to move it again, at least. Ruri advances on the boulder finally, unfolding her arms and placing her palms on its rough surface. She isn't going to assume she can actually lift this thing, even an inch. With the aid of Chakra, she expects she'll still be lucky to be able to tip it over. That is assuming she can do anything at all. Closing her left eye, she tries to focus her mind. Generally that's not a problem for her. Focus is something she excels at, compared to Rinako. Or, more accurately, she excels at focusing on IMPORTANT things, as opposed to trivial things. Rinako has her beat at triviality-focusing.
She begins to channel Chakra through her body. She'd prefer to do this with minimal effort, but even if she manages that level of control, it would negate the point of the exercise. Better control is great, but she is trying to accrue 'experience' to enhance her spiritual energy. For this reason, she uses a lot more Chakra than she normally would just to push on something. Then she begins to actually push. The boulder, as expected, does not go anywhere immediately. Ruri pushes and shoves, putting all of her body weight into it in addition to the Chakra enhancements. Still, nothing happens, so she changes positions, spreading her feet apart and lowering her body. Bracing her feet against the ground, she focuses even more Chakra, to the point where her body, unused to both physical labor and containing this much Chakra, begin to burn with pain. Her left eye opens, and she grits her teeth, grunting between strained breaths, as she puts everything she has into moving this stupid, over-sized rock!
Every muscle in her body, not just in her arms and shoulders, and not just in her legs, but EVERY MUSCLE that she can consciously control is pumped full of Chakra and then pushed with. She even uses her abdominal muscles, despite them having nothing to do with pushing anything. Infact, she even uses her butt muscles! Unaccustomed strain, Chakra-overload, and now her entire body feels like one big CRAMP.
Will this be enough to move the boulder? Even a little?
Expecting some sort of retort for the 'evil witch' crack, or at least the comment about 'skinny arms', Rinako is soon disappointed as her sibling instead eschews talking and focuses solely on the task at hand. She supposed one of them had to, or they'd never get anything done. Hell, they'd never leave the apartment! As Ruri begins to summon her chakra, focusing and generating a large amount of the powerful substance, Rinako stands idle, folding her hands behind her back, with her feet spread shoulder-width apart. She wanted to do something, to help, to offer encouragement, but knowing her sister, she'd probably just be snapped at to quit distracting her.
Instead, she watches as her twin prepares herself, and then strains against the enormous boulder, watching her relatively frail form bunch and strain, biting her lower lip as the corners of her mouth try to turn upward impishly. Standing off to the side, and a little behind, her sibling gave her a rather good view of the proceedings, but only after she took her eyes off of the younger woman's rear, trying to ignore the light pink flush to her cheeks as her mind starts to wander to places she knew it shouldn't go during training.
But those shorts just made it so tempting to give the tiniest of pinches…
Rinako's eyebrows lift as her sister withdraws even more chakra from her reserves, straining more than the elder of the two had ever seen her to shove the rock. But pushing the rock over onto it's side is certainly a lot easier than picking it up, which would be an advantage, until one took into account the shifting sands beneath their feet, which failed to give a good purchase. Whether Ruri was capable of pushing it forward or not, the stone does indeed move at least several inches in the direction the kunoichi was trying to move it, Rinako snatching her hand back from the assist, hopefully before her sister could notice.
"Wow! I'm impressed, Imouto-chan." She does her best to sound sincere as she swats her twin's rear end with a loud slap, but she was no skilled actress, and wasn't even all that good at lying. "It took me weeks before I got that far!"
Ruri ALMOST has a visible aura of Chakra around her — though it would be dim if it was perceivable — there is definitely a sort of 'heaviness' to the air, that is normally only around when Rinako is tapping into the Three-Tails's OWN Chakra. The boulder moves with Rinako's help, Ruri not seeming to notice, and then stops for a moment at her sister's words. The slap on her rear makes her jerk a bit, partially due to surprise and partially due to the fact that there's a dull soreness in her entire body, and something like a strike — even if playful — makes her ache in new and not-quite-wonderful ways. Taking in a number of deep breaths as the sweat that has gathered on her adds a sheen to her skin in the dying sunlight, she says, "Don't patronize me, Nee-chan. You gave me a task to accomplish." She is not relishing the thought of straining again as she just had been a moment ago… But if it was easy, there would be no point in doing it. "You had to work hard to get where you are. Maybe you haven't spent hundreds of hours studying like I have, but…" She takes in a deep breath and then throws herself against the boulder full-force again. The previous amount of Chakra she was using is about a third as much as she uses now. And the pain is TEN times greater. The air around Ruri wavers like heat waves rising off the desert sands at mid-day.
"…You turned out strong!" she gets out as she heaves with all her strength, trying to get any grip she can on the stone. "You don't have to…" A pair of sudden THROBS like heartbeats seem to pound in Ruri's head. Is that really her heart? "…Know everything to…" Bom-BOM. There it is again! It's definitely not coming from her chest. She can feel her own heart beating, and it's not beating in time with these pulses. "…Do your best!!!" Her left eye is wide, veins visible standing out in various places on her body as the total focus she is putting into this takes a serious toll on her physically, and mentally.
Bom-BOM. Bom-BOM. The bandanna over Ruri's right eye shifts. Bom-BOM. Bom-BOM. Then, depending on if Rinako can see or not from her angle, she may notice something seems to be pressing against the fabric of the bandanna… From the INSIDE. The black fabric rapidly moistens, and soon a small trickle of crimson leaks out from under the eye-cover. Ruri has never been in so much pain in her life, or struggled physically so hard in her life. Every breath is a very shallow gasp that chains into another. Her lips are parted, teeth bared, as she sucks in air between them and cries out in effort. "UUUURRRRGGGHHH!"
Bom-BOM. Bom-BOM. Bom-BOM. The flow of blood from under the bandana suddenly increases exponentially, soaking her right cheek, and trailing down to her chin, where it begins to drip onto her chest and the sandy ground. The most pain is no longer coming from her over-strained body, but from her right eye. The eye that no longer exists. The pulses are now waves of agony that make her feel like her head is going to tear open and spill out her brains onto the grains of sand. Deliriously, she thinks, 'That wouldn't be good. It's hard to get sand out of brains.' Then she has no more time to think, only to scream at the top of her lungs, both in effort and in pain. The bandana is shoved outwards and slips off of Ruri's head. Underneath is a tendril of pinkish-red flesh that protrudes out of the socket. The tendril suddenly changes shape, thickening, and growing, as more strands of flesh wind around it and into it, supplementing its size. At the end of the tendril, an eye grows as the tip of the fleshy projection 'bursts' open. The eye is not human by a longshot. The scelera is dark-red, like the blood that is running down Ruri's face. The iris is a much brighter and more vivid red, with a black ring around the edges. The pupil is a tiny black dot at the center.
More tendrils begin to grow as the first one extends further out of the blackness. These further tendrils worm through the air like sentient threads of tissue, seeking something… Unless Rinako stops Ruri, who is now down on her knees and screaming, and yet still struggling with the boulder — though that may be due to muscles being locked in place, rather than conscious effort — the tentacles continue to proliferate, growing two MORE of those inhuman red eyes. What limits there might be to their growth — if there even are any — is unclear.
"Oh, learn how to take a compliment." The elder of the pair of twins rolls her eyes as her sister recovers from her initial efforts, making ready to throw herself at the uncaring stone again. She hated seeing her sister exert herself like this, to see her in pain, and the expression she wore made it plain. But nothing would come without effort, and the greater the effort, the greater the rewards. "Ru…"
"We're just different. We have different- Do you need to rest?"
Her expression of resignation turns to one of mild concern as the younger woman all but hurls herself against the boulder again, crossing her arms under her chest, gripping her biceps tightly as she affects a tight frown. She wanted to intervene, to stop this, to help her sibling. But she couldn't. This was how she was trained, the only way she knew how to train. Taken out by Jounin, and then given a task to complete. Some of them took hours, hurling herself at them until her hands bled and she fainted from dizziness. Some of them took years of effort. But never did she receive help, always expected to be strong enough on her own.
"Ru… Maybe you should-"
It's the inhuman scream of pain from her sibling that finally snaps her body into intervention, her hands automatically reaching forward, grabbing at the back of Ruri's neck, the other for her waist, in order to bodily yank her away from the boulder she was struggling against. That was when she saw the grotesque tendril, and the blood, exuding from her sister, bringing forth her own startled gasp.
"RU! CALM DOWN, FIGHT IT! What… What IS THIS!?"
The elder Rurohashi girl wrestles the younger to the ground if need be, to place her on her back, one hand gripping for her chin as she moves to straddle her sister's waist, to hold her head still, as the other reaches to grab the unnatural growth in a chokehold. But she wasn't sure if she should be trying to rip it out or to push it back in! Both could be dangerous, even fatal, to her beloved younger sibling.
As Ruri stops channeling Chakra, after being thrown to the ground, the tendrils stop multiplying as quickly. But they're still doing so. The three red eyes on their fleshy extensions turn to look directly at Rinako just before she seizes the tendrils. Ruri's left eye is closed, the eyelid and surrounding skin twitching as her body slowly releases its tension. Full-body cramps suck almost as much as weird things growing out of one's eye socket.
The eyes wave around for a moment, unable to move as freely with what they're attached to held so tightly. But then they just grow more tissue to make up for it, lengthening further and spreading wildly into a sort of 'lattice'. The grid-like fan of artificially-grown flesh spreads out about three feet wide and half that tall, above Ruri's face. The tendrils then change from pinkish-red to a much darker shade of red… And tiny 'bulbs' begin to form in various places in the flesh-net. Whatever is happening is likely not good for anyone, least of all Ruri. But she has stopped screaming, at least, instead just lying on her back and gasping heavily.
Then… Ruri holds her breath for a moment, clenches her teeth, and her left eye opens, showing a degree of focus and intensity rarely seen outside of a full-Jounin with killing intent. But this ISN'T killing intent. It's just raw determination and ferocity, focused into a single task… The Chakra infusing Ruri's body is cut off, withdrawn, and allowed to disipate into the air. With no more Chakra supplying its growth, the half-grown bulbs of flesh stop getting bigger, and the rest of it likewise stops expanding. It wavers for a moment, and then all of it begins to get very thin and pale. Dead-white. Then all of it, ugly inhuman eyes included, turn black and crumble into flakes of rot or whatever it is this weird stuff turns into when it dies.
Unlike normal rotting skin, there is no foul smell, and the black flakes don't stick around, disintegrating into nothing. The mass of tendrils that Rinako is holding onto has already collapsed in her grip, and turned into nothing, leaving no trace it was ever there. Except for the empty eye socket with the infinite void inside of it, and the thoroughly inflamed tissue of Ruri's eyelids, and the blood all over the place and so forth.
Only when there is NOTHING sticking out of that eye anymore does she close the eyelids and let out a breath she was apparently holding, before sucking in a huge lungfull of air, and then repeating the process. Her left eye closes again as she lies there and just breathes.
As the disgustingly inhuman flesh continues to grow out of her own sibling's skull, Rinako releases her hold on Ruri's jaw, since she was apparently content to stay still herself, and locks the other hand just above where she was holding the tendrils with the first, ready to rip the lattice-work off and the consequences be damned!
She always was more about action than thought.
But soon enough, her sister was focusing, likely waging some internal battle, and the slimy tentacle-eyes pouring out of her face stop, and then disintegrate before she can get to applying brute strength to solve the equation. Wiping away the black dust, which further dissipates into grains so fine they can't be seen with the naked eye, Rinako observes the change, and then the restoration of Ruri's right eye to it's 'natural' state, her thumb brushing away some of the blood from her cheek.
"Ru? Ru!? C'mon, Ru, say something!"
The jinchuriki grips her younger sister's shoulders and pulls her up into a desperate embrace, one meant to soothe herself as much as it was to ease her twin, a shakey hand stroking over the crown of her head, even as she holds the younger woman to her chest, heedless of the life fluid soaking through her shirt and dripping to the bare skin of her midriff. Her teeth grit in frustration at being faced with a problem she couldn't simply crush with her hands in order to make her soul mate safe.
"You're going to be okay. You're going to be okay," She repeats, half to reassure herself of that fact, rocking the younger of the pair gently. "I'm going to take you to the medic. They'll get that thing out of you. They have to know a way. They have to. And if they don't… Kazekage-sama will. We'll get it taken out of you, and then you'll be okay again. You'll be okay again."