Date: September 11, 2016
Passing through the Land of Wind, Hotaru finds herself caught among a band of Desert Raiders. Only with the help of Hango, and the sacrifice of a Chuunin, are the three able to defeat Goge, a Missing Nin.
Poster's note: foul language filtered in obvious places.
"Skirmish in the Three Plate Delta"
Ruins of San-Sara Daruta
This place would make an excellent stop, or at least Hotaru thought. Being a young entrepreneur, and attempting to find a cure for her progressing disease, she would find herself traveling the Land of Wind, known for having… Medicinal Remedies being found among the rare plants in the oases that dot the desert. Right now however, Hotaru seems to have been separated from the individuals escorting her… Some how, and was currently taking refuge on the top of a building, with… Bandits currently pursuing her. Hotaru was seated, cape settling over her shoulders as she looks upon the gathering of bandits below. "You should stop, you know. You don't -really- understand who I am." She says in a voice that… Well… was that of an eleven year old girl. Cute, especially given how authoritative she was trying to be. "You managed a lucky punch, but pursue me any longer, and I will have to act." She had honestly just tried to run away, before attempting to fight back. Human lives were a precious thing, even when they were being used for evil. "So… I'll give you three seconds…"
She raised her hand. "Three…" One finger dropped. Then, suddenly, and arrow lodges itself into Hotaru's shoulder, causing the girl's eyes to widen.
That came from an desert bandit, one of twenty who were surrounding the building and getting ready to come up. "Really getting tired of your spoiled cream, dango. We're not here to play any games. We're here because you're worth money." That came from a rather muscular chap, without a shirt, though not without a cloth mask around the lower half of his face. There were… Plenty of individuals like that in this group. Most of them armed with steel blades… Honestly, with that disasterous strike to the shoulder, Hotaru was beginning to feel as if maybe taking the desert route was a bit of an error of judgement… She reached up to her shoulder and tried to pull out the arrow, wincing as she did. She had already escaped twice using stealth based ninjutsu. That wasn't going to work this time. "Okay! Okay! I'll come quietly! Gh… Dame…."
A two-man patrol out in the desert had caught the flash of chakra produced by the water ribbons, courtesy of Rankoro Hango's abilities as a budding Sensor Nin, and both had gone off racing in the direction of the incident. As they crouched atop a rocky outcropping jutting out from the descending slope of the mountains to the east, they exchanged glances. Hango adjusted his glasses, full of adrenaline and fear and bravado, while the Chuunin quietly crept atop the rock with a pair of field binoculars, peering over the situation.
Hango tracked all the chakras around the building, unable to spot the second group of her escorts, and also spotting Hotaru's identity as the girl he met before. The Chuunin gave a whistle, and Hango moved up the rock, as the Chuunin waved forward and jumped off the rock, racing out into the ruins. Hango followed behind, drawing a pair of kunais wrapped into calligraphic blue ink that faintly shimmered in his hands. With a bound, the Chuunin leapt into the air and throw a flaming ball of fire at the most grizzled bandit, assuming him to be the leader (as these things often were), while Hango weaved through buildings, focusing chakra with the slight flutter of his eyes that was common when he summoned it. He had an irregular signature because of this.
The leader aimed his bow at Hotaru as a falcon landed upon his bare shoulder, digging it's claws into him. It was his bird, and his shoulder was marred by scars where his bird had latched on before. His arrow was aimed at Hotaru, who had to lean on her cane to keep herself standing up. "Gomen… How do I get down?" How did she get up? What a mess… Just as she had said that, a fireball rained down upon the crowd of bandits. It caused them to scatter, and the Chuunin gave Hotaru a few moments of safety…
Before the Chuunin received his own arrow in his shoulder, the leader of the bandits closing one eye as he had loosed his arrow accurately at the Chuunin who had leapt at the air. "Being airborne provides a disadvantage, in that you are unable to change directions… You're just a kid. Get out of here and let us take care of the girl….." Girl? … Girl!?! "Pie it! She used him to get away. Spread out, she couldn't have gone far!"
Hotaru had escaped, by dropping off the ruin's roof opposite of the raiders. A muffled grunt came as she thunked into the sand, blood running down the arrow that penetrated her shoulder… She tried to pull it out, but it seemed to be barbed. A barbed arrow. "I can't believe this…" She whispered. "I knew I should have brought bandages…" Hotaru would crawl her way into the crack of a nearby building, who had four walls, but no roof. It provided just enough cover as the raiders passed through the very alley she had dropped into. If it wasn't for the fact that her blood was easily covered by sand, she might have been caught… This gave the Watanabe a few moments of downtime… Where had Hango gone? With his Chuunin instructor guiding part of the Raiders away, where was he?
The Chuunin emits a cry as the arrow hits him in the shoulder and he lands on a knee. Gritting his teeth, his hand shakes as he reaches up to break the shaft of the arrow, leaving the rest in so he doesn't spurt blood, before he reaches to his back and he draws a ninjaken. He raises it with both hands as he stares down the leader of the bandits, holding it horizontal and beneath his eyes, glaring at the bandit as he sidesteps in a circular manner around the brigand's space, using the sight of the sun off the blade to conceal the fact that he's creeping closer. "Life is often a game of chess," is all the shinobi shares, before his sword flares with light as the bandit leader is surrounded by blinding sword edges in a circle around him only he can see, the Chuunin choosing to deploy a stalling genjutsu.
Hango's sense of the Watanabe increased, as he focused on her, narrowing his search for her into a cool, honed tracking pattern that took into account reflections of nearby structures and turf, as well as watching those chasing her. Hango pushed his back up against a building as a raiders passed through the alley, he waited, watching them carefully in the maze, before he threw each kunai he held, one after the other, the paper around them splitting open with high-pitched shrieks as the reached the upper arc of increasing velocity from his whipcord fling, propelling them farther.
A genjutsu… That was quite a fight, but for now the two younger shinobi have a fight of their own. Hango would propel a few Kunai towards a few of the lesser rung raiders. The first raider would receive the first Kunai, alerting the second Raider to move away just in time. "Sunagakure is here. Pretzel it. Can't stay out of our business can you?" The first raider would pull the Kunai out of his shoulder, and toss it aside, using a scarf too tie the wound close. "That didn't hurt much at all. Let me show you how to throw a weapon." This man had an axe. A throwing axe. Not as fast as Hango's seal-propelled Kunai, but it was far stronger. If that hit it was going to hurt. Fortunately it was slow.
Hotaru's senses reached out at this very moment. She could tell that Hango was there. She couldn't believe it, but he was there. The one person from Sunagakure she managed to acquaint with. He could have handled them alone, but the shinobi world wasn't about fighting alone. As she closed her eyes, she brought her hands into a seal, and began to unlock the first step of her Kekkei Genkai. Her internal chakra network changed, slowly becoming different. The amount of Tenketsu in her system increased, and a pattern of scales started to appear upon her face. A line of chakra-laden yellow colored scales that formed upon her face… Scales that started to turn a brilliant red as she focused fire chakra.
While she sat upon the ground she opened her mouth, and a fire seemed to 'drop' out of her mouth, running through the crack she used to hide from the raiders initially. The fire snaked across the ground rather quickly, before it jumped up upon one of the man's legs. Her hands shifted into six more seals to create a follow up move. A pulse of fire chakra appeared from her mouth and followed the line of fire chakra until it came to the leg of the individual she had caught with her previous technique… He… Might have ended up bursting in flames if he didn't dodge the previous technique…
Hango's fingers gesticulate into two separate one-handed seals, dust kicking up from around him as the axe is launched. He slides off the ground and to the side in the alleyway as the axe goes flying past, easily dodging it, before he bursts forward on the winds as if riding ice skates and gliding rather than moving his legs. He thrusts himself forward at the raider he had wounded as the scarf was being used as a bandage, not worried about the other raider after the axe was thrown and the man was disarmed.
The Rankoro's feet burst him off the ground as he reached closed range, sending him arcing upwards with a brief push, as he inverted and laid both hands on the raider's shoulders. And then, he'd flip down and land on a knee, twisting about to thrust his right palm outwards with a surge of wind at the raider's back, to propel him forward, off his feet and down the alley where Hango had attacked from.
Hotaru's technique was outright dodged. These bandits were getting quite lucky, or were quite perceptive. As the line of fire reached out to grasp the man's foot, he dodged backwards. Hotaru's attempt to attack while Hango was being targeted failed. There wasn't going to be any choice for too much longer. These two raiders were likely former Shinobi. Hotaru might be frail, but her mastery over Ninjutsu was quite strong. The fact that she hadn't wiped them out thus far was a tribute to their prowess. Hotaru tracked Hango and the two raiders from behind the wall, watching their chakra move.
Hango's flip was quite skillful, and he was at the very least able to get behind the two raiders. As the two looked behind Hango, they chuckled. "You gonna dance for us, kid?" Both drew an axe as Hango managed to surprise them with a gust of wind that made them skid back in the alley… It was great positioning. They had been moved into a place that Hotaru could absolutely destroy them… However, she needed one thing from him. She called out from behind the ruin's old brick wall. "Hango-san… Get out of the alley!" It was a warning, because she honestly had no choice now. The Chuunin's chakra signature had faded, likely because the head baddy had incapacitated him or worse.
Behind the wall, Hotaru had brought herself to a stand. She swiftly tugged her cloak off and threw it to the side, breathing quite heavily as a pain overcame her body. Hotaru couldn't walk well on her own, but the Watanabe had something that Hango was well aware of. After all, he rode into Iwagakure on the wings of a dragon… Hotaru, too, was a Watanabe…
Hango could ear the sound of clothes ripping, and the cracking of the wall Hotaru was behind a moment later. Hotaru's transformation was far less advanced that Itami's, of course. She hadn't gained her wings. However, she was able to shed her frail body behind and become something beyond Human. Hango would see large claws grip the upper rim of the wall Hotaru was clearly behind a moment ago, and rather soon something rather large came into view… The head of a large Lizard, black scaled with yellow eyes, would clamber up over the wall balancing atop it.
Like that of a Five-Lined skink, the lizard looked more nimble that perhaps Itami's dragon form was. The lizard was about the size of a horse, and had various glowing patterns of scales that ran down along it's back. The lizard looked down over the two individuals, whom seemed to have paused… Without even a hand-seal, the lizard would open it's maw and breathe an almost flamethroweresque cone of flame upon them, it's scales turning bright red as it happens… Dodging such an attack would be an act of godsend, or a terrible mistake on the Watanabe's part.
Hango's head darts to the side, in the direction of the voice, as he hears the warning. He grits his teeth and leaps upwards, his hands slapping onto a ledge created by a wall and what's left of a roof, before his toes bounce him off it with a carefully practiced climb upwards. He pushes upwards off the ledge and lands with his feet in a crouch, fingers down, as he hears the Watanabe raging below. He balances precariously, his Taijutsu skills more advanced than when he first joined Sunagakure but still considered average for a Genin, and summons more chakra, the leylines about his arms and fingers flaring even as the chakra in his head flutters on and off between too powerful and too weak.
The large lizard would look up at Hango, as it crawled into the alleyway amongst the two charred corpses, slowly moving out into a more open area. The sounds of shouting can be heard a distance away, as the Raiders probably begin returning, likely hearing the cries and screams of their burning comrades. Either way, with a break in the peace, Hango could observe his surroundings. The roofless building Hotaru was empty, save for scraps of torn clothes that seemed to litter it. Scraps of a blue jacket, white pants, and other… intimates… Likely a result of the transformation. One piece of clothing was intact. It was a white cape of sorts, perhaps something Hotaru would like back later. Either way, the large lizard sat in the middle of the road upon it's haunches looking at Hango from his perch high above. No words came from the lizard, only because the lizard could not speak. The loss of vocal cords was likely a trade-off.
Hango exchanges looks with the lizards, blinking once behind his square glasses, before the obvious to a male that grew up between sisters flashes across his mind. He jumps down into the den where she was hiding and grabs her cape, fastening it about his shoulders as a way of carrying it in combat, and then steps out back into the alley. He sniffs, then smells the corpses, looking in their direction.
At first, he breathes a sigh of relief, before he gets sick to his stomach, curling forward and puking in the alley, wrenching repeatedly with his arm against the wall. It is brief, but Hotaru would be able to hear it. Embarrassed, he wipes his arm across his mouth, the purple jacket he wears above his flak vest smeared with the remains of spittle and bile on his mouth. Collecting himself, he steps out of the alley, and expands his chakra senses, concerned that he hears the raiders but not his commander.
Everyone sort of… pukes when they see their first charred corpse. Hotaru puked the first time she saw her own death through a genjutsu illusion. As Hango walks out of the alley, and in the Lizards presence, it would lower it's head. It stares at him a moment, as if expecting him to understand. So far he has understood it's wish to have it's cloak retrieved. The lizard's head turned lightly as it looked at it's back. Climb on perhaps? What is with Watanabe and being ridden? At the very least, the lizard would would try to reach it's maw over to the arrow still sticking out of it's left shoulder, hissing as it is unable to remove it. That would have to be dealt with later… Around the corner were three more individuals that appeared to be a part of the original twenty.
The reveal a sad, sad story when they arrive in front of the giant lizard and Hango. "Where the cake is the girl? Is that her? No… That's the other Shinobi. Hey! Shinobi-san… We got your friend. He took almost half of us down before he finally kicked the bucket." - "What the @#$% is that beside him? That doesn't look like any creature I've ever seen walking around the desert! Anyways, Goge wants you dead too. You're not hiding that little moneybag are you? Whatever. Let's get started."
Three Raiders, each as strong as the last two. The Chuunin Hango came with was killed… Retreat might actually be a good option, what will Hango decide? Whatever he does decide, they are about in attacking range now.
Hango steps over to Hotaru as she reaches for the arrow, grabbing it near the base and giving it a quick snap, so it no longer sticks out of her shoulder and causes pain when levered, but also not pulling it out, which might cause blood loss he wouldn't be in the position to fix at this moment.
Hango is already aware when they arrive that the Chuunin is dead, Hango privately considering that his commanding officer displayed poor tactics. He would not make the same error. He opens up his beige flak vest and pulls out a trio of paper wrapped kunai and slides onto Hotaru with a swift movement, holding the kunai in his left hand. He waits until she begins any form of movement at all before acting, before he throws one, then the other, then the other,
Hotaru would begin to move as soon as Hango was upon her. Keeping upon her was another matter. Tree Walking would certainly help, as well as a saddle. The lizard would charge forward. A midst the charge, Hango released a volley of Kunai that aimed true with the power of wind propelling them. All on a single raider. One that would block two of them with weapons in either of his hand, but one manages to slip through, striking him in a vital place. Before his heart stops, he and his allies all through a volley of Kunai at the charging lizard, yet as they strike Hotaru both she and Hango disappear in a burst of flames, replaced by a boulder of some sort. Hotaru was now upon the wall, and despite the fact that Hango did not know Tree-Walking, he was firmly seated upon the lizard's back. Hotaru had used Tree-Walking to keep him steady upon her. Once more, the lizard opened it's maw and unleashed a violent fire, attempting to catch the last two that weren't mortally wounded in a stream of fire.
Hango squeezes the legs of his narrow frame around the dragon's sides, holding on tightly as he braces his right hand on the shoulder of the beast. He grits his teeth shut as he is transported to the top of the wall, shocked and unbalanced, but kept fast on Hotaru with her ability predominant. He pulls out three more kunai, hurling them down at the two remaining raiders, doing the same thing as before, focusing all three on the same raider, the high pitched shrieks of wind audible as the paper splits around them and drives them forward with blurs of metal.
The Combination of both Fire and Wind has been known to produce devastating results. The extra wind feeding into Hotaru's fire ninjutsu caused it to grow stronger, and heated the Kunai to near-melting levels while they flew through the fire… One Raider would have suffered far more than the others. The Heated Kunai would burn a hole right through the man before both were washed with fire… 10 of the twenty were killed by the Chuunin in a last ditch effort. 5 were killed by Hango and Hotaru. 4 were left, and that included the leader, Goge…
Hango must have started to feel fatigued, and Hotaru's transformation put strain on her own chakra network. So far, they had worked well enough as a team. As the lizard stuck to the wall, she started to feel a powerful chakra signature far off. She had seconds to prepare a counter measure, because up above, their leader had loosed a powerful Iron Arrow with the intent of pinning Hotaru to the wall of the building she lingered upon. Goge, the man who the Chuunin had engaged earlier, was standing atop the tallest ruins. He seemed to have had various burn marks on him. The Chuunin killed himself in a explosive tag last-ditch effort to sacrifice himself like a loyal Shinobi of Sunagakure. Goge was strong, but he hadn't much left…
As the arrow caressed the air, flying true, it would actually penetrate the large lizard and Hango. For a moment, it looked like they might be dead, until suddenly… Hango and the lizard start melting away and splashing upon the hot desert ground! A water clone… One that took a lot of energy from Hotaru… There wasn't much in the way of water in the desert…. Hotaru and Hango were shifted off the wall, and were upon the street the whole time… Huh!
Hango gets off the lizard, undoing his cape and folding it up neatly, leaving it beside Hotaru. He takes three steps forward, staring up at Goge and his position at the peak of the ruins, before he undoes his purple jacket and leaves it on the ground, just wearing his beige flak jacket he wears for dangerous missions over his upper body, his wiry arms bare. He reaches to his thigh pocket, pulling out a square of parchment with a blue ink kanji rune written on it.
"I've got this one," he says over his shoulder to Hotaru, before he begins running forward, and jumps up into the air. The paper glows in his hand as he activates the charge and it throws it beneath him, creating an explosion of updraft that sends him rocketing up towards Goge. As he reaches the peak of his jump, just meters above Goge and directly in front of him, he performs a mid-air leg and arm bend, preparing to bring his limbs into play.
And then, as he hangs there for a moment, he locks eyes, before he lofts downwards with gentle velocity in body but not in limbs, lashing out at Goge in a violent combination.
His left hand lashes out first, the ninja used to employing it as the show dominance hand despite his ambidexterity, a nail rake aimed at Goge's face, before his right hand shoots forward as he lands on the same footing and rockets a palm at Goge's left breast to push him backwards. His bent knees cause him to land in a squat, that he explodes out of in a jumping spin kick, swinging his leg around backwards as he mounts into a shallow hop, his foot aimed to kick Goge in the sternum.
Hotaru honestly doubts it, and the lizard tilted it's head as a result of that doubt. There is something she can do, that will let Hango get revenge for the Chuunin's death. She displays that soon enough.
Hango would jump forward to attack the advanced shinobi, likely a missing-nin. His raking was easily dodged, and his rocketing palms prove no challenge to him. Honestly, they stand upon a ruined tower four stories high right now, upon the ledge of a wall. There were few places that Goge could go, and when the sternum-kick seemed to have the most success at finally hitting him, he simply jumped off the ledge and allowed himself to fall backwards into the sand below… Yet, his bow was drawn. As he fell, unable to dodge anything while falling, he drew an explosive arrow and aimed it at Hango. This was an attack too fast for Hango to dodge. "Got you… This is the same exact idiot thing your Chuunin instructor did… Put himself in a place he couldn't easily dodge." Suddenly, however, Hotaru would take a deep breath and blow out a massive cloud of steam… The kind that made it impossible for Goge to see Hango. He would fire the explosive arrow, and it certainly did pass through the cloud… Alas, it wouldn't hit Hango. Likely, because he moved…
This put Goge in a position that he did not want to be. He was falling. Unable to dodge anything. The next technique to strike him would hit, and he knew it was actually he who put himself into the same situation the Chuunin had earlier. "Wait… I didn't hit him!? NO!" He knew how dire his situation was, because when the explosive tag-laden arrow cleared the steam away, Hango was still standing there… There was no better chance to attack than now!
Hango succeeds in knocking Goge off the tower with the spinning kick, then landing atop the tower in a three point pose. As he spots the hand to hand training as a fellow missing-nin, albeit a far more experienced one, the Rankoro sees the steam surround the tower. He hears the arrow coming, and slides aside, before he sees it explode above his head and behind him. The steam clear, Hango jumps off the tower, needle diving down after Goge, headfirst, his arms and legs straight so he falls with the least air resistance to build up speed the fastest.
As Goge lands from the fall, Hango follows seconds behind, snapping his arms forward with a quick burst of wind, the recoil from the ninja magic bouncing him into a ball that rolls him past Goge. He lands and launches two gales of wind at Goge, attempting to drive him into a crumbling wall, with the intent of him breaking it.
Goge went through the wall, breaking through it, and falling into the darkness of the inner ruin mass. Hango had successfully managed to strike him where it hurt, but… Those basic sort of Ninjutsu… They couldn't possibly have killed Goge. Nevertheless, his chakra network suddenly disappears… Wherever he was, he might still be alive, but he has likely retreated. Even Hotaru could not follow him. Hotaru, of course, waited out in the streets. After she was sure his chakra signature was gone, she moved back into the alley quite quickly. The state of her health, and that of her exhaustion meant that it was best that she returned to a normal state. The state of a human girl. It was that, or remain a Lizard and… Go into chakra hibernation of some sort. With the cloak that Hango had salvaged, she would be found with the sun beating down upon blue hair and yellow eyes once more, only the cloak was tightly wrapped around her… It's going to be an awkward trip to the nearest town… "Hango-san… He's gone, and we don't have the ability to follow… … …"
Hango moves over to the Watanabe after the battle, picking up his jacket again and sliding it onto his shoulders to shield his flesh from the desert sun. "I must destroy Chuunin Miira's body so none of his Hidenjutsu is stolen. To the east are the mountains over the desert, there are caves located with hidden stores of supplies for patrol groups to use in case of emergency. I will tend to your wounds there." He leaps into the air atop a rooftop, and skates along the edges of buildings nimbly with his Sleek Taijutsu, until he finds the Miira's corpse.