Date: July 3, 2015
Arika finds herself having to improvise to fulfill a simple mission.
Fertile Plains - Eastern Desert [Land of Wind]
The Fertile Plains are a part of the Eastern Desert that regularly receives deposits of silt, nutrient-rich soil, plant seeds and, most importantly, water. These 'gifts' originate from the Land of Rivers, to the east. The Land of Wind shares a border with the Land of Rivers, and the Fertile Plains are the southern-most crossing point between the two countries. Though farming occurs here, it is still not enough to support the entirety of the Land of Wind. Still, it alleviates some of the burden of hunger and thirst for the Wind Country's residents.
To the north lies Fort Zaru, a watcher of the borders and a safeguard against local bandits and foreign invaders both. To the west lies the Sandy Expanse. To the east is the border with the Land of Rivers.
D-rank: The sap of the sukoyaka cactus is needed to produce medicines. Be careful while going to gather the sap, there are plenty of desert critters which like to hang out near the cactus.
Field trip! Really, this sort of mission is practically like a picnic for ninja. Go out, get some juice from a plant, bring it back. It's not even a particularly rare plant, or guarded by anything in particular. What could go wrong?
Sousa is coming along with Arika on this little jaunt. It's a little unusual for a ninja of his caliber to go on a D-rank mission, but somebody a little more grown-up has to be present for a trip this far out in the desert (especially when the kid happens to be a valuable village asset that could be randomly targeted), and it so happens Sousa could use a sampling of the local wildlife, so he volunteered. "You familiarized yourself with the appearance of the sukoyaka cactus, correct?" Sousa remarks as they trudge into the fertile area.
Arika yawns a bit, still… well, still tired despite the good night's sleep she got the other day. Gyuki at least decided not to poke his head up, so she was able to catch up on her rest after days worth of no sleep at all. The girl kinda peers at the former Kage, not sure why he'd even wanna go on a D rank mission. The only reason she could think of was he wanted to keep an eye on her or something. Fine enough for her. "Uh-huh! It's umm… Purple, right?"
"That is its most striking distinguishing characteristic, yes," Sousa replies. "Of course, you will need to take care not to confuse it with any of its close relatives. The medical department is, with good reason, quite picky regarding the accurate labeling of any materials they are provided with."
Before too long they come across what looks like a good specimen of the sukoyaka species. It's…quite spiny, as should be expected. "It appears we've located your first potential tap," Sousa says. "I shall be gathering observations of the local fauna." With that, Sousa putters off to the side, unscrewing the lid from a jar.
Arika nodnods and heads out, following behind Sousa with not too much effort. She looks high and low for … umm… Well, anything that's purple! Oh! A spiny one! "How do we get the juice out of it, though…?" she asks, brow furrowing a bit. She could cut the thing… But that might not be what they wanted. And then Sousa just wanders off! Hey!
Sousa looks over his shoulder and quirks an eyebrow. "Don't they emphasize desert survival training in the academy these days? You will need to make a hole in the fleshy part of the plant to drain its fluid. That is, of course, after you have cleared the region of spines. You did at least bring suitable tools, most importantly containers for storing the liquid, correct?" Sousa slams his jar down over some creepy-crawly on the ground.
"Yes!" No… The girl could make do with what she has on her, though. She has a jar of salve with her almost all the time, so she scoops out all the yucky medicine and buried it in the sand. Then she cleaned out the rest with her cloak. She'd wash it later or something. Okay… Jar? Check. A Kunai is brought out … And she realizes that trying to get near the cactus is a bad idea. So Arika makes a handseal, and the wind comes whistling by to slice off some of the spines so she can do some better, neater cuts of the spines. Okay! Now to drain the fluid…
Better hope that jar's pretty well cleaned, wouldn't want any of that salve contaminating the sap. ;) Anyway, as Arika approaches the cactus and starts trimming away the spines with her kunai, an ominous rattling sound comes from the ground by her feet. It looks as if there was a small rattlesnake resting in the shade of the cactus, and it doesn't like having some big mammal tromping around near its spot! After a moment's warning, the snake bites at Arika's ankle. >E
Arika blinks a bit when she hears… Rattling? She's not completely out of the loop when it comes to desert safety! It takes but a moment for the girl to put a clone in her place, and the snake gets a nice taste of smoke while Arika peeks over at the snakes. Umm… Should she … Okay, the girl can do this! Another clone appears next to her and tries to pick the snake up so Arika can cut open the cactus without too much issue. The jar is as clean as it can be, and she puts it down so it can catch the cactus juice.
Picking up a hostile snake by hand? Not something most people can safely do. But at least Arika's clone gets it a little ways from the cactus before being bitten, and the snake decides the area's too dangerous to be worth defending. >P It slithers off to find a new napping spot.
The jar is nestled in the sand by the base of the cactus, and the juice of the plant starts to ooze out of the hole and drip into the container. SUCCESS! …At a rate of a few milliliters per minute. c.c It's going to take all day to gather even a few doses' worth of cactus sap like this. Arika's going to need to figure out a way to speed things up!
The clone goes poof, which adds another unpleasant experience to Arika's memory banks. Well, fun! She eyes the juice of the cactus dripping g out at a snail's pace and… sighs. So slow! She pokes the hole she made with a Kunai to try and make the hole bigger. Then she makes another hole above that one, as if that would increase the amount of juice she'd get. And maybe it would..?
Hmmm, that helps a tiny bit, but not much. The sukoyaka cactus consists of many segments, each of which only holds so much sap. Maybe if Arika could figure some way to funnel sap from holes all over the plant into the jar, she could get a decent overall flow going?
Arika huffs a bit as the trickle doesn't get much faster. Impatient, she makes a handseal, and wind would bring to swirl about the cactus, removing almost all of its spikes. Then she's start jabbing holes in the cactus freely, aiming to poke it as many times as possible to get a bunch of the juice. Oh wait… she has to catch it now… Um… Part of the Bijuu's chakra would leak out of her body, forming many tendrils to catch the different droplets of sap that might escape. Wind would travel within the tendrils, carrying the sap to the jar she brought with. Maybe this would work!
Okay, now we're getting somewhere! :D Still not anywhere too fast, but one can visibly see the fluid level in the jar rising. After a few minutes of this, the jar is nearly full…but the cactus stops bleeding out sap. Looks like that one's given all it can.
Sousa passes by, screwing the cap onto a jar housing several arachnids. "Hmmm, we'll need to bring back a bit more than that. Otherwise the medical department will send you out here again within a week, and they won't give you full pay for the mission either."
Arika is a bit tired after all that! And she had hoped she was done, but then Sousa says they need to bring more back… D: The girl grumbles and huffs. "Hai…" Then she picks up her jar and makes her way over to another cactus, which she gives the same treatment as the last one, though she actually knows what to do this time around, so it's faster. Same process as before! Which fills the rest of the jar. If the medics really want more, they'd have to send her out again with a bigger jar!
Okay then. After Arika fills her salve jar, and Sousa fills his jars with bugs and plants and lizards and whatnot, they head back to Sunagakure. Mission…vaguely accomplished? Guess the lesson learned here is to read the objectives thoroughly and don't assume the mission board will always arrange all the tools and supplies you need. ;)