Date: November 9, 2013
Mushi and Aburei track the disappearance of the medicine and find something rather surprising.
"Squirrelly Crisis - The Trial"
Countryside of the Land of Water
Yayfun! Mushi and Aburei are doing DETECTIVE STUFF! :D Because obviously they're the most qualified people in miles to track down thieves. They've got, um, forensic skills! Yeah, their medical know-how will help them analyze cause of death and stuff! …Not that anybody's been found dead. c.c Okay, yeah, they're just doing this because Mushi's the authoritative medical expert who had to take charge when the patients got rowdy, and Aburei's tagging along because it's what he does when Mushi-neesan's involved. n.n
Anyhow, they arrive with the medicine delivery man at the little shack where he spent the previous night. It's getting on toward evening again, as they had to backtrack the route which took the deliveryman most of the morning. The delivery guy, whom we'll call Denrei-san, hops off the cart and goes to open the door. "This is the place. I brought the chest in with me when I bedded down for the night. Left it in that corner right there. There's no real lock on the door, so somebody coulda come in without waking me up easily enough, I guess. The weird thing is they didn't just take the whole chest, they somehow got the pills from inside it and replaced them with those pebble-filled eggshells." c.c
Mushi has to smile a little at Aburei as they go on this investigation. She's glad they're helping people, but now that she thinks of it, she promised to help without any guarantee of payment. Are they doing charity work? Well, no matter. She can try to get a little later. The medical center must be supported! In the meantime, Mushi turns her resources to finding out what is going on. It seems the thief has a sense of humor, to throw pebbles into eggshells. It shows he may be a cheapskate. Eggs cost a coin a dozen, and you can pick up pebbles anywhere. Mushi follows Denrei in.
She has her own theories about the thief, but she keeps most of them to herself for now. Instead, she starts combing over the room inch by inch, searching for some sign of a clue. Mushi says, "If they could fool you into thinking you still had the medicine, they'd have that much more head start." Under the bed, around where the box was, opening drawers, looking on sills, Mushi is taking this place apart systematically and methodically.
Denrei scratches his head. "Yeah, but…I woulda thought hanging around in the shack to extract the pills and poke eggshells into the chest to replace them would be too much risk to be worth the extra headstart. I coulda woke up anytime. I'm surprised I didn't, considering how much noise most people would make doing something like that." :P Aburei taps his chin. "Maybe they did just take the chest, and left an identical one in its place?" Denrei shakes his head. "No, the chests used by my company have numbers on the inside lids. I already checked to make sure this was the right one."
Mushi's search, meanwhile, doesn't turn up anything out of the ordinary…until she gets to examining the corner where the chest was kept last night. The dust there has been disturbed along a snaking line, leading from where the chest sat to a small hole in the wall to the outside. Here and there along the edges of the disturbance, tracks can be made out…tiny mammalian paw tracks. And the cobwebs in that vicinity seem to have caught an unusual amount of small red hairs.
Mushi looks at Denrei. Plenty of the clues seem to be pointing to the carriers after all. It'd be difficult to noiselessly replace an entire cart full of bottles and rattling pills with eggs and rattling pebbles. She's just about to — delicately — bring this possibility up when she notices the hairs in the corner. And she'd gesture Aburei over. "Aburei-kun, lookie here," she says, indicating the unsettled dust and holding up one of the hairs. She studies the shortness of the hair, trying to pin which animal it may be from. But she says what she's thinking, "Nin-animals, maybe," she says. "They'd have the silence and dexterity to pull this off." Which means they may be dealing with a shinobi. Mushi pulls out a small scroll, and in a poof of steam an assortment of medical tools and small weapons appear. She starts stocking up. Just in case.
Then, she would walk outside to try and follow the trail of bread crumbs. Fortunately, it hadn't rained so it may still be intact. She's a detective once more, going across the ground, careful not to disturb any possible evidence. "Why? This medicine was no treasure trove. With their skills they may be able to ramp it up a notch in terms of a profitable target."
Aburei peers at the trail in the dust. "Ah…yeah, something small could've gotten in through that hole in the chest and replaced the pill bottles without too much noise. Some kinda rodent, maybe?" Denrei groans and sits down on the bed. "Great, now we're getting ninja involved. Maybe we should just try to rush another shipment of pills to the village and hope we get it there before anybody dies. I'm responsible for the delivery and all, but no way I'm chasing after a ninja to recover it." c.c; Aburei smiles. "Don't worry, you can wait here and we'll get the medicine back." Not that Aburei's much of a ninja himself, but that doesn't seem to stop him from getting involved in these things. X) Besides, he's with Mushi-neesan! What could go wrong?
Outside, the trail is a little more difficult to discern, as there's no accumulated dust out in the natural world to be disturbed. There are, however, noticeable pebbles and bits of eggshell amidst the grass, and the grass itself has a slight furrow through it, indicating lots of travel along a certain path. The indicators lead off into the nearby woods.
"We'll make sure to track down the medicine," Mushi says, emphasizing the importance of what they're doing. "Risk a confrontation. And bring it all the way back." It seems that Mushi isn't beyond pointing out that their services are highly valuable, although she doesn't quite have the heart to demand payment. She gives a nod to Aburei and turns to the forest. Should she send someone to scout ahead? In forests Kirameki would have to fly low to see everything and may be spotted. Besides, Mushi is fairly sure that they can at least escape any kind of threat, if need be.
Mushi is soon following the path like a bloodhound. But then, she pauses. "If it were me, I'd lay this trail as misdirection," she says. "It seems a bit…obvious." Careless, even. Then again, the smartest thing to do was make sure you weren't leaving a bread trail. As they go along Mushi says, "If it comes to danger and we can't finish this peacefully or stealthily.." Run to safety? She looks guagingly at Aburei. "Do whatever it takes to get that cargo," she says firmly. "We need that medicine to save lives. As medics, we have a responsibility."
Aburei shrugs. "Well, I didn't see any other indications of which way to go. Following a false trail is better than no trail at all." Well, not really, if it is a false trail this'll be a waste of time, but…y'know what he means. :P Mushi and Aburei head into the forest. Aburei gives a nod to Mushi after she mentions their priority should things go south. "Will do, Mushi-neesan." Yup, easy as that. Nevermind that the scenario Mushi just mentioned will probably involve fighting, and Aburei's not much good at that. After all, nothing can go too wrong when —
A high-pitched voice yells out from above, and suddenly Mushi and Aburei are beset by squirrels. o.O They pounce down from the tree branches and latch on en masse. "Ow! Hey, what's the big idea!?" Aubrey's yelps, flailing instinctively. x.x "Drivethemout! Protectthevillage!" >.<
Mushi was prepared for many things. She was prepared for ferocious hordes of shinobi. Vicious nin wildcats. Or maybe even poor orphans in need of the medicine. What she didn't expect was Attack of the Squirrels. Mushi yelps. She doesn't know how to react. Squirrels have a maximum life expectancy of twenty years! Killing one would be abominable, she may be stamping out a decade of life! So she flails as they come down. It takes her awhile to gather her bearings.
And then she manages to make a few seals and send out a wave of chakra. It'd sweep out in a circle, over everyone within the area including Aburei. Chakra Wave Technique. Strangely, Aburei would feel only a faint tingle and then it'd pass harmlessly. But any squirrel unlucky enough to be caught in it would be frozen for the time being. Including the ones clinging to her. But now Mushi has used up all her chakra reserves. Lovely. "Enough," she says. "We mean you no harm. The paralysis will wear off in a few moments but DON'T attack us. Brave squirrels," she adds, flatteringly. To Aburei: "What is going on???"
Aburei winces and tries to unlatch a squirrel that managed to bite into his shoulder a bit with its sharp little incisors. >.x "How should I know??" It's not like he's the narrator or anything. :P One of the squirrels recovers a little faster than the others and shakes himself. "We'renotgoingback! Wesworewewouldn'tservehumansanymore! Thetreeswilldrinkourspilledbloodandtheleaveswillturnredbeforeasingleoneofussurrenders!" DX The other squirrels chitter warcries in agreement as they start to regain movement capability. Aburei tilts his head thoughtfully. "Y'know what, Mushi-neesan? I think they must've had some bad experiences with humans in the past." *sagenod* u.u
Yikes. That paralysis is going to wear off soon. Mushi considers drawing on more chakra, but she's reluctant to demonstrate a show of force in front of these creatures, even something as passive as gathering more energy. Like Aburei said, there seems to be a vast misunderstanding. So Mushi steps forward, and speaks calmly and clearly. "Hear me out, squirrels," she says. "We didn't even know you were here. We're on the trail of some…bad people." She's starting to put the pieces together too. "Bad humans who make others do bad things. If you know any humans like that then we would be grateful if you pointed them out to us. We have the strength to defeat them." Well, she hopes they do. She turns to the nearest squirrel. "Trust us," she says imploringly. Then, she waits. Tensely.
"…Badhumans?" "Weknowbadhumans." "Defeatingbadhumanssoundsgood!" The chitter of conversation amongst the squirrels swells into a positive cheer. ^.^ Seems like they change their collective minds pretty quickly. X) Must come from having a short attention span. "WAITAMINUTE!!!" Oops, spoke a little too soon. "Maybetheyspeaktruthbutwegottabesure! LetthemfaceTHETRIAL!" THAT certainly gets an enthusiastically affirmative response from the tribe. Aburei scratches his head as the squirrels leap off him and bound back into the trees. "Um, what's this trial about?" One of the squirrels draws himself up officiously. "Thetrialisasacredtradition! Itprovesifyouareonewiththesquirrels! Youmust…um…" The spokes-squirrel glances about quickly, then points at a particularly tall tree. "RACETOTHETOPOFTHATTREE! Yesandyoumustdropaleaffromthetopandmakeitbackdownbeforeitfalls!" "…You made that up just now, didn't you?" -.- "TRIALBEGINSNOW!!!" >.< Whuh-oh. o.o; Aburei dashes over to the tree and grabs one of the lower branches. "Mushi-neesan, I don't suppose you could give me a crash-course in that tree-walking thing ninja do?" c.c;
Mushi brightens up when the squirrels respond positively to her words. In fact she's almost cheering with them, until the little rodents mention a trial. Oh no. That doesn't sound good — a sacred trial. Wait, run up a tree and drop a leaf? Mushi glances over at Aburei just to confirm that this is ridiculous. Yup. Well, she's not complaining. It'll be a cinch with Tree Wal — "You don't know Tree Walking?" Mushi says, with a laugh. Uh oh. "That takes a few minutes to a few days to learn depending," she remarks. "We don't have that kind of time. The thieves could be escaping." Then, she's making seals and gathering chakra around her arm. It's clear, but visible solid chakra. It grows larger into a replica of a giant limb that encases her arm — or in this case, a limb shaped like a squirrel arm and paw. Then she'd grab Aburei with the hand and say, "Go get iiiiiiiiiiiit!" before throwing him up like a catapult flinging a stone, straight to the top. They did say race to the top, but not how it should be done. Mushi shields her eyes as she watches his progress.
Aburei continues trying to climb, oblivious to Mushi's actions. "Well, we've gotta do something, do you have any better id — whoa!" o.O;;; The squirrels' jaws all drop and their eyes bug out as they witness Mushi hurling Aburei skyward. No need for HER to face a trial, they're pretty darn convinced she's one with the squirrels after she demonstrates…her nut-throwing skillz! Of course, that leaves Aburei to complete his trial. He does indeed manage to take a leaf from the top, mainly through a failed attempt to grab a branch. And after letting go of said leaf, he certainly heads downward faster than it…a lot faster. X.X
Some of the squirrels would start forward to catch him but pause. They may be doing the math, such as Aburei's weight and velocity compared to theirs. Mushi supposes she could try to soften the ground with her earth ninjutsu, but he's heading towards the ground awfully fast. So she takes the simpler approach. Move quickly to the right angle and jump up to catch him and break his fall. Unfortunately, she underestimated how fast he was going and now they're tumbling end over end across the grass. After a few rolls Mushi manages to skid to a clumsy halt. They're both on the ground. The leaf falls gently to the forest floor then. Mushi lets out a sigh of relief, and then says hopefully, "We've passed the trial, right?" She can't help but grin a little though as she looks at the squirrels. So cute and such a goofy test!
Ow-oof-ack-erk-pffffbth. x.x Aburei shakily pushes himself up and spits out some grass and dirt. "Bleh…a little warning next time, Mushi-neesan?" u.u; The squirrels cheer and flock over to the medics. "Theypassedthetrial! Theyareonewiththesquirrels! Theyhavebeensenttoavengeus!" :D The spokes-squirrel stands on two legs and gives a courtly bow. "Forgiveusfornotrecognizingyourarrival,greatone. Wewilltakeyoutothehumansthatusedusforsomanyyearsthatyoumaypunishthem!" Aburei gives Mushi a sideways glance. Hoo boy, what've we gotten into this time? X)