Straying into the Darkness


Hayase, Kitaru, Kasai and Chiru

Date: October 24, 2016


A team is sent down into the Dark Caverns to search for a missing cat.

"Straying into the Darkness"

Dark Caverns

Cats don't enjoy being tightly hugged. And one doting owner found that out as they headed for the underground hot springs. It clawed her and ran off. Unfortunately, she lost her pet in the Dark Caverns. The cat might be anywhere by now which is why several teams were sent down to find the cat. Or to find the poor thing's remains. It was difficult to say whether the grumpy, fluffy thing would survive long in an area infested with bats and giant spiders. Nevertheless, the owner insisted on searching for her pet. A fluffy, flat faced ragamuffin by the name of Miko. At least it's white.

Some people were tasked with searching different areas of the caverns, and since it was deemed dangerous people must travel in pairs at all times. Hayase was with Kitaru. So they'd met at the entrance which smells completely fowl, with whatever they brought to light their way. Hayase carries a well-lit lantern, and an unlit torch hanging at her side. "The glamour of being a shinobi," she says to Kit with a smile, when the boy arrives. "Are you ready to find Miko?"

Cats don't enjoy being tightly hugged. And one doting owner found that out as they headed for the underground hot springs. It clawed her and ran off. Unfortunately, she lost her pet in the Dark Caverns. The cat might be anywhere by now which is why several teams were sent down to find the cat. Or to find the poor thing's remains. It was difficult to say whether the grumpy, fluffy thing would survive long in an area infested with bats and giant spiders. Nevertheless, the owner insisted on searching for her pet. A fluffy, flat faced ragamuffin by the name of Miko. At least it's white.

Some people were tasked with searching different areas of the caverns, and since it was deemed dangerous people must travel in pairs at all times. Hayase was with her team of four. And she'd decided to break them up into two. Herself and Chiru. And Kasai and Kitaru. Once they've arrived she'd say, "Well, we're searching for Miko." She gives a quick description of the cat. "We'll stay in a small radius, and rely on our partners for support and protection. And if the threat is too great, we'll all gather to work together. Any questions?"

There are few things that Kasai and Chiru would want to help with more than finding a fluffy cat or a similar pet. One of their most fond mission supervisions was helping a filthy dog make it safely to the groomers. Still, even then they found it very difficult to remain as excited about the mission as they originally started out with at the proposed suggestion. Despite the fact that they both care for Hayase and Kitaru very much, the mention of them being separated has them looking down-right anxious and dreadful about the idea. "But…we can't fuse then…" Chiru mumbles nervously, looking over at Kasai, who nods her head slowly and murmurs a similar lament. "Or…or do anything really we think…but we -are- still in class…" Chiru nods her head once and agrees softly, "Yeah, so wouldn't be very good if we were left on a team all by ourselves…so if it's what Hayase-chan thinks is best…" Kasai ends up finishing their thought, "Then we trust you. We'll work with the partners you say so…"

Kitaru would show up at the designated time, right to the exact second of when he was supposed to be there. He carried a backpack of wood and metal on his back and a simple miner's cap on his head holding a focused candle for light. Looking between the twins then to Hayase, he'd finally give a small nod. "Hai. Fine. This is good practice for the twins to learn how far they can sense off one another. Practice keeping in touch across the distance. It will help when forced to deal with a genjutsu that makes you feel alone, hai?" Shifting the strap of his pack, he looks to Hayase. "When do we begin?"

Hayase nods to the twins. "You'll have to bear with it, for a while," she says. "It'll be a ten yard radius. But I need to see how well you two think and act independently when you're apart. Because I never have, and as your mission leader I need to witness it at least once." Her tone is understanding but unyielding. She's come to this decision earlier, so it'll be something of a trial in itself. If they didn't have supplies for the darkness, Hayase would hand them lanterns and torches both. Then she'd make sure all of them could whistle, which is the signal for the other team to come running.

Even in the gloom her smile to Kitaru is visible. "Precisely," she says. "Girls, you make it very obvious that you depend on one another. It's adorable. But it's also a visible weakness enemies will exploit." After that she'd set out with Chiru and keep a close eye on her. Out of curiosity or concern it's hard to tell. They'd keep a fair ten yard radius. Out of immediate hearing from one another's talk, but not too far. And not near enough to see. Hayase holds her lantern high to cast a pool of light around her and nearly treads on a bunch of squeaking rats. She watches them run off. "Well, at least the cat would have something to eat."

They wince a bit at the word while, but they nod their heads slowly. "Okay." They both say, as they listen to Hayase and Kitaru explain the reasoning for the separation. It doesn't seem to help the idea settle with them any better. They look over their shoulders as they walk away from one another with their partners, looking downcast before they try to turn their attention back to the task at hand. They accept the lanterns offered and try to set to work, staying relatively quiet. Their gaze is still kept low for the most part, and while they would normally search and scrounge with curiosity, it is more comparable to the alert state of an animal in danger. When Kasai nearly walks over some prints, her foot freezes and hovers over them. "Huh, you think this is something?" She asks Kitaru while she leans down to keep her nose close to the ground while following them to see where they lead. By the time she makes her second loop around the circle, she mentions, "Huh…circles, but these don't look -too- old…I think a couple of hours from what Naoya-sensei taught us." Chiru meanwhile would stick particularly close to Hayase, lingering an almost annoying distance around her heels as she looks around. When she finds the locket, she picks it up with a shaky hand and opens it to look through it. While it didn't help with finding the lost cat, it seemed to bring her some comfort from how pretty she'd find it. She takes some time to try to carefully put it around her neck to make sure she won't lose it.

Kitaru would keep an eye on Kasai as she'd move with him while sweeping the area. He pauses at his own finding and was about to comment when Kasai sweeps around and around following tracks. Pursing his lips, he eyes the bones for a moment then would turn his attention to what Kasai found, nodding. "Let's follow it then. We can see where it's going and loop back to the others as necessary, hair?"

Hayase blinks when she sees Chiru practically hugging her. While some might put this down to a kid's fear, she's pretty sure it's the further proximity from her twin. She reaches over and ruffles the girl's hair in a comforting way, and lets her hand rest on her head for a few moments. That's when she notices bat poop. Quite a lot. And staring up she sees about twenty bats hanging on the ceiling. She nudges Chiru. "Let's move on," she says. "Quietly. It's dangerous in this area." She points up discreetly towards the creatures, who are still dormant fortunately. She'd lead her teammate quickly from that area, lest they get a storm of bats flapping around them.

Kasai bobs her head at Kitaru, and peeks over look in the direction Hayase and Chiru left in. "Yeah, we can try to follow it, does look like kitty paws…" She'd reach out and would try to hold Kitaru's hand before reflexively releasing it after she realizes what she's trying to do. "Sorry, Kitaru-san." Kasai mumbles, quickly trying to distract Kitaru from what just happened by continuing on and following the track. By the time she comes to a stop, she looks up and quietly ogles the huge web wall before her. After scanning around to make sure that there's no spider, Kasai tries to tell Kitaru, "No spiders. Or stuck cats. Lots of dead bugs though…it's -pretty- gross…let's not stay too much longer around it."

Chiru leans into Hayase's touch, relishing the comfort it offers before she nods her head and follows behind Hayase. She looks over at a skeleton and whispers to Hayase, "Is that anybody we know?…The village isn't missing them, are they?" She couldn't think of many other reasons a skeleton might be stuck in there, but it was still an unsettling thought thinking about someone dying here. Chiru's head tilts back to quietly watch the bats curiously. "One time, papa and Kasai and I built a box where bats could sleep in…we think a family of them used it for a little while and everything." Chiru whispers to Hayase quietly.

Kitaru would follow along with Kasai, noting the prints. He didn't comment on her holding his hand, indeed a simple reassuring squeeze is given. Shifting his pack off, he'd have it henge back to Sphere, and then had it roll along with Kasai where Chiru normally walked with Kasai. "Spiders are not something to be scared of. Respected, not scared. We have Okumo in the village. They could be Sensei watching over us to make sure we are not hurt on this mission. Or to challenge us to help us reach further heights in abilities." He shakes his head slightly with a small smile to Kasai before pointing out the track he found in some mud. "it's old. But it looks like we're on the right trail. Think you can use your connection to have Hayase-san and Chiru-san come this way? I think this is the proper path."

Hayase has to muffle her laughter when she sees the skeleton ironically clutching a lantern just like her. She shakes her head. "No it's no one recent," she whispers back. "The state of the bones means they've been down here for years. And there's rust…" She points to the lantern's metal. People really need to clean up in this place. She kneels down when she sees some kind of track. She squints closely at the rock then says, "Muddy pawprints. We should…"

That's when a giant spider falls right down onto Hayase's back.

Apparently being around Naoya hasn't helped Hayase get used to spiders the size of dogs landing on her. She lets out a yelp of fear and surprise before throwing off the terrible thing. It seems undaunted and there's silk all around, seeking to bind them up in the sticky lines. Before shooting a bit of venom. The hunt for the cat is momentarily forgotten by this duo.

"Yeah, but even papa and Naoya-sensei's spiders don't make webs that big that we ever see…I thought they lived inside in some weird way. I've seen them come out of Naoya-sensei's -nose- before…" Kasai admits, watching the web as they pass it curiously before returning her attention back to their tracking. She considers the question with a quiet curious frown to herself, "I could find them again if I tried hard but we haven't figured out ways to talk from far away yet.." Kasai walks closer to the hole they come across and kneels down beside of it curiously. "Looks like they went this way though, definitely…some spiders did too. We should find them." She hops up and beckons Kitaru to follow her as she instinctively starts to back track and try to find where Chiru and Hayase wandered off to.

Chiru nods her head up at Hayase and smiles finding some comfort. When Hayase points out the pawprints, she looks over and notices the white fur. "The kitty we were looking for is white, right?…That doesn't seem very…" She ends up getting cut off when the spider leaps down and she ducks and runs away when the webs and venom start to fly through the air. She manages to hop away just in time to escape a web, and a twirl helps her to get her body out of the way from the venom while staying on course to the spider. Once she's on it, she attempts to sharply kick at its arachnid legs out from under it to try to knock it off balance. "Bad spider! Don't try to hurt Hayase-chan like that!" Chiru says, despite sounding shaken from the sudden start.

Kitaru nods slowly, thinking with a frown. "There are two type of Okumo. I believe Sensei is a hunter. The nesters have spiders everywhere. They fight with spiders. Like the puppets." Kitaru would motion to the Sphere next to Kasai. Shrugging, he'd look at the hole, then note the mark of spiders and frowns. "Unless the spiders are hunting the cat, Kasai-san? Yes. I think we should definitely go get them." Turning, he'd follow after Kasai to trace to where the others of the team are at.

The spider's legs tangle up beneath it and for a moment it's paralyzed. That's when Hayase stabs it with her sword, so deeply the blade would go straight down to the hilt. The spider goes limp and Hayase wrenches the blade out. Then she'd give the foul thing a punt that'd send it flying into the darkness like a ball. After that Hayase shudders and brushes her back and arms, as if trying to get any spider remnants off her. There are none, but she double checks to make sure.

And while Kitaru and Kasai run towards them they'd hear a hiss and meow from within the tunnel. A moment later the cat would sprint out the other end of the tunnel, some yards away. Running into the darkness and chased by a horde of spiders! Unfortunately, it's going in the wrong way for them to help their comrades. Even more unfortunately the high pitched hiss has woken a number of bats that now fly down, chittering and whirling around everyone's head, biting with fangs. Not enough to do any damage, but definitely enough to confuse and halt the questers.

"Yup! More to stop the hunting spiders, the better." Kasai decides confidently as they run back to try to find their friends. That's when the mission target passes by right in front of them! "Hey! Cat!" Kasai immediately yelps out, trying to get its attention in vain and getting distracted from what they were supposed to do. "Come back!" That's when the bats start to descend, and try as Kasai might when it comes to running around in circles, she can't seem to escape the sheer number of them, "Go away!" Kasai says, flailing her arms to try to discourage them from flying too closely. Some time after, Kasai says, "Chiru got hurt too! That means they aren't too far!"

Chiru meanwhile breathes out a sigh of relief and smiles to herself, "We showed them. Maybe…we don't do -too- bad by ourselves…" Just as Chiru has some cautious optimism, the bats end up showing up and she yelps and tries to cling to Hayase to shield herself as best as she can while hiding and waiting for it to be over. "Kasai's getting hurt!" Chiru says, looking over her shoulder and waiting for an opportune gap in the swarm to try to set out to lead the way and find her sister too.

They are on their way back, chatting about Okumo, when the cat.. and spiders.. show up. Of course the cat sets off the bats, and now they're swarming. Frowning, Kitaru pauses the Sphere long enough to engage that bracer, warding off the bats for long enough to start it spinning. The senbon gatling would quickly start turning bats into pinned bats against the wall, those not killed by the senbon outright. Before the cat gets out of sight and therefore out of range, Kitaru quickly motions and with a *POOF* The sphere and the cat swap places. The sphere having hopped up above Kitaru's head, to drop the cat into his arms. Bracer and arm would hold it tight, as the Sphere would turn on the spiders to start crushing them. Nope.. Kitaru was merciless in plenty of situations and this was definitely one of them.

Before Hayase can even breathe a sigh of relief she hears the cat making a commotion and then the bats are everywhere. She ducks down and her solution to the bat problem is fairly simple. She draws her sword and starts slashing them out of the way. She'd have far more mercy for the animals if they weren't trying to hurt them and, apparently, had already hurt Chiru's twin. Then she'd grab Chiru and literally haul her up under her arm to run towards where they heard the cat, and their companions.

By the time they arrive the bats are everywhere, having come to alive because of the commotion. That's when the spiders come out in a swarm and start spinning up the bats. They're in the middle of a war, with bats and spiders and rodents swarming over the floor and walls and ceiling. But they have the cat who is doing its best to claw and bite Kitaru's arms till they're mincemeat. What an ungrateful thing.

Yet they're all reunited. The twins, Kitaru, and Hayase. Instead of fighting the war between the dark-loving creatures Hayase would grab the cat by the scruff of the neck, and give it to the twins (fortunately Kasai doesn't seem to be hurt too badly.) "Hold onto that cat no matter what and get to the entrance," Hayase says. "We'll cover your retreat. Run. Run!" And with that they'd make an orderly retreat. Or more like a headlong dash for sunlight.

Chiru yelps out in surprise, but otherwise lets Hayase haul her away from the bats to somewhere safer. Chiru tries to look around in confusion, but no amount of chaos could stop her from seeing Kasai when she's near. The moment that she's set down, she heads straight for Kasai and wraps her in a hug before Hayase passes over the cat. Kasai gives it an affectionate squeeze and attempts to pet its head comfortingly before she nods once. "Okay, Hayase-chan!" That's when she and Chiru start to bolt for the light at the entrance of the cage, moving as quickly as their short legs will allow them to side by side. The cat might be squeezed a little uncomfortably, but there wasn't any way that Kasai was letting it go. Once they were outside, they both hop in place and watch the cave, eagerly waiting on Hayase and Kitaru to join them again.

Hayase and Kitaru find it easier to keep the creatures at bay the nearer they get to sunlight. Once they emerge into the open the foul smells still drift from the caverns, but there's the hopeful presence of light in the gloom. The cat is grumpy in Kasai's arms, having tried its best to scratch his savior as they leave. Fortunately the twins are very adamant at keeping the cat in hand. Hayase would have Kitaru put it back in one of the contraptions. The cat is incurably grumpy, so might as well have it throw its fit on something besides their arms. "I have to say I'm impressed it managed to live that long," Hayase says. A meeker cat would probably have been devoured by one of the predators before they could find it. "Well done Kitaru-san and twins," she says, with a smile. "You know, this is our first mission together." Not quite a ranked mission, but close enough. "Let's get Miko back." And with that, they set back to the village.

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