Date: April 28th, 2010
"The Choir Bandits' Last Song"
Rika has been assigned to take out a mission - it's C-rank, though only barely. Fortunately, there's a Genin and a very appropriate Chuunin fr a mission of the sort. The briefing was as follows: There has been a particularly annoying group of bandits out there. They don't seem to be ninja, but they're still causing some issues with unescorted caravans. Their area of operations has been narrowed down… but 20 square miles of desert is still a LOT of area to cover. But that's where Sora comes in. And Imota? He's along for training purposes. Or mission purposes, whatever you want to call it.
So we join our heroes as they are travelling through the desert. Rika's goggles are down, and she seems to be quite content out here - happy as can be, and offering survival tips at times too. Pointing out good places to hide in a sandstorm, likely food creatures, that sort of thing. "Sora-san, has your falcon found seen any sign yet?" She inquires.
Sora doesn't balk at taking on missions with other Chuunin in the lead. In fact, she hasn't even balked with a mission where a Genin is a leader. She's simply brought for one reason usually—scouting. Rank doesn't really matter to her. Sora isn't looking at her hawk. She's keeping an eye below. Though not so powerful as her hawk's, her vision is pretty sharp even for a shinobi. However, when Rika asks she looks up at Megami. She shakes her head, but it'd only be a minute before when the hawk soars down a little. It makes a tight loop, twice, and Sora says, "She's found something…we ought to follow her." She squints at her hawk as Megami moves again in a strange pattern, no doubt a form of communication when they're not within range. Sora would pick up the pace as Megami drops down lower to be more visible and goes on a straight line. Soon enough they'd see footprints in the sand made by many men of middle age weight.
Now Imota had been deemed capable of is duties soon after some time spent with missions in the past, so it would not be unusual for him to be amongst two higher ranked nin, and work with them. He was unintimidated by the chuunin, yet still held them high esteem, enough so that he would obey all that had been issued. He would look to Rika, whom he had known, and then to Sora.. whose bird he had been constantly fixated on. He would have drawn a picture of it, just to have reference on what it had been later, and proceeded to follow the two in the desert. Every survival tip he had heard from Rika, would be written down, and noted, some things being known, and somethings being unknown to him.
Then the bird, according to Sora would have spotted something. "Hmm.. ranged scouting from above. Very beneficial.", would be said in a droning voice as they moved, and if Rika had instructed so to move, Imota would be ready.
"Mmm, let me know as soon as we know how many." Rika says, then gestures with a flick of her hand to move forward. "Unless there's a surprise, or one of you gets hurt, I'm going to be holding back to watch for ambushes or the unexpected." She says as well. She is running along as they pursue in a relative crouch, seemingly ready to drop down to the sand quickly if possible. "Sora-san, make sure to keep track of Imota too." She adds. "You should be going after the tougher ones, just to be safe."
And the bird? She should be seeing about a dozen or so bandits, all dressed in pretty typical desert clothing - though mixed with random assortments of looted stuff too. One with nicer boots. Another with a particularly fancy headdress (That probably would have been a woman's, but no one ever said Bandits couldn't be flamboyant!).
Sora nods happily when Imota points out the benefit of her bird. She casts an amused eye in the genin's direction as she jots down what Rika is saying. Of course, she's simply committing it to memory. Why bother with paper and pencil? But she quickly looks back to the trail, her lips moving silently as she counts the tracks. But the wind has been at the sand and it's hard to tell. She glances back up at her bird and would then take her shinobi forehead protector and tilt it so that it'd shine brightly up into the sun. In response her hawk would soar back a certain distance and then loop forward again. "Eleven," Sora says. "No…twelve. They're not completely careless, but they don't really expect an attack. And…umm…yeah, alright weapons. Not anything too bad." She's reading her falcon's movements in much the same way a blind person would read braille, without the usual means of observation. She'd give Imota a reassuring look them and pat her pouch lightly to make sure she's prepared. "If we go along that hill, we can sneak up on them better than if we take that straight path."
To tell you the truth, Imota wasn't really the type to feel apprehension or nervousness or really anything about any circumstance. Not even indifference crossed his mind. He just was about as blank as the expression he wore on his face. Hearing the number would only make hims feel upon the packs he wore, counting what he had had on himself, and unlatching the large 6 prong shuriken he wore on his back. Imota would notice the reassuring look, yet no reaction would happen. Just his way. He had seen such a look before, and though it had been in vain, he would nod back, just to let the woman know it had been recieved. He would then notice the communication between the bird and its master before he would then want to ask, "Your communication with the falcon. I am… curious. It is quite specific, almost as if the bird had spoken to you." Hearing the plan, he would then say, "A flanking strategy. It will be quite a surprise to them that they will not expect. A diversion perhaps?", small concussion grenades being pulled out and readied.
"Excellent." Rika says, then covers her mouth in a giggle. "I love working with members of your clan. It just makes things so much easier." She concedes. "OK, lead the way. We'll try to ambush them." She pauses a moment, and gets a thought. "Either of you have any trap ideas?" Another pause, "Actually, Sora-san, I want you to take command of Imota-san. Plan an ambush together using the information you both have." There! Now both get some sort of training. The Chuunin in leadership, the Genin will get the combat stuff soon enough! The fact Imota is already discussing with her draws an approving nod too.
All the while, the Bandits are clueless. In fact, they seem so comfortable that soon enough, combined with a shifting of the wind, they can be heard singing a boisterous song in the distance. It's… very bad singing.
Sora gives a shrug to Imota. "I can't understand her in the way a human understands a human," she says. "My hawk is smart as me. We've memorized over a hundred signals by the way she flies. Some Hayato falcons use bird calls to be able to communicate, but that gives away your position if a hawk is screaming repeatedly over your head." She is keeping her eye on her hawk and now she draws her shuriken. No fancy grenades. Besides, such uncontrollable things might harm Megami if she comes into battle and that'd be just…horrible. She shoves these thoughts aside and would not to Rika's orders. She looks to Imota and says, "Well. I'm going to get them from behind, and Megami is going to distract them from the front. Can you get them from the side once you see some openings?" She doesn't wait for a reply but would climb the last bit of the slope and there would be the bandits. If one of them might've turned around, all chance of that is gone as a crazy hawk spills air and drops down in a sharp dive, raking at the nearest man's head with her talons before swooping back up. At the same time the bandit closest to look behind him would get a kunai aimed right at him, followed shortly by Sora who aims to hamstring him in a swipe of her kunai.
Hearing Rika, Imota, would shake his head. "None that would be well planted at this point, Rika-taichi. Sounding and ambush however may work just as well." Nodding to the following of Sora's lead, Imota would soon prepare the concussion grenades, first charging them with chakra, and while waiting for Sora to take the lead, say about the communication between her and Megumi, "Physical gesture alone. That seems affective indeed." Imota would nod in understanding of Sora as she moderates on what would have been her partnership with Megumi, and when she had been done, she would get a nod from him along with the words, "Silence is a key to that indeed. A very effective partnership."
Soon Sora would have a plan. Imota would nod and move in from the left side as instructed, ducking behind a sand dune. With one lob, several grenades would be thrown, landing amongst the sand, and causing a big bang with each landing. With the bandits hopefully disoriented, the youth would the unleash his shuriken, and with a swipe of it, send several blades of wind in at the men.
The singing bandits, some more flamboyantly than others (Oddly, not really the ones dressed flamboyantly) aren't ready at all. And Rika? She's suddenly not quite visible. Probably behind a hill or something watching the situation play out in whatever mysterious Jounin way she has. So the initial ambush is quite effective. One of the bandits (The biggest one) screams in a shockingly high pitched voice. Though the initial panic passes moments later and a rather brutal array of wickedly curved scimitars, heavy axes, and in one man's case a tetsubo are drawn as they prepare to meet the ambushing ninja. "Come on everyone! It's just a little girl and a boy!" Says the apparent leader, the big one with the tetsubo and who must be able to sing soprano without any help at all.
The person wh encourages the men to rally soon gets a falcon diving down and slashing at his had with sharp talons. Sora sends a shuriken zipping through their ranks aimed so if it misses the first person it'd hit the next target. At that time the hawk would dive to try and make the men recoil, though Megami's "attack" would be no more than a faint to try and distract them from the threat on the ground. Sora grimaces. Twelve to two. Perhaps she should have thought this idea out better.
With the battle going into full swing, Imota would find as well that the numbers to which the bandits belonged had been lowering the probability of success by a percentage excedding that of what had been previously predicted. He had to concerve strength and fight this battle the smart way, and he knew it. Imota, with a spin of his body for force, would heave the large shuriken into the wind as with all his strength, aiming the throw only at one target it seemed. But unbeknownst to the bandits, the large shuriken had been attacked to a wire that had been attached to the Sasaki's finger. A slight tug, after the weapon had been thrown, would be all it took to change the tragectory not only once but twice, to let the large weapon hit two others, before the genin would reel it back in.
Mr Sorprano leader is almost seeming cool and in charge when… a bird starts squawking down at him and clawing at him and he lets out another screech that would make a little girl look at him like he was insane. One can only guess this particularly large bandit is nicknamed Tiny. His wild swings have very little effect on it. Or really, none at all. The rest of the bandits seem to be doing ok, barring the one that Sora cut down, Imota's inflicted some wounds, but no deaths quite yet. And the bandits are angry and possessed of sharp objects they begins to swing at the intrepid Ninja!
Sora would occassionally glance at Imota to see how she was doing. In the meantime she moves with speed and skill, maneuvering so their group numbers won't surround and overwhelm her. But they're also starting to take notice of the falcon too, and Sora makes a quick signal with her hand so the hawk stays higher up. She'd aim to punc one high in the face and send him falling into the other ones in the hopes they might be knocked over. She'd have shuriken shoved between her finger so when she finds her balance she throws them randomly into their midst, to hit any downed.
They just kept comming, and the more he moved out the way, the more of the Choir Bandits came. His ways of fighting werent working well with the sitaution at hand. His only chance, deception. He would throw his large shuriken, and after handsealing once it had been out amongst the crowd, smaller shuriken, hiding under the path of the larger, would come from beneathe, and split off, hitting some of the bandits with an unexpected attack.
Sora's actions wound one of the Choir Bandits, and outright kill two of them. One of them right between the eyes like a bullseye, he suddenly collapses. The other takes a few more moments, does it quite melodramitically too. That was the one wearing the pink headdress. There is still no sign of Rika coming to the aid of the two, they seem to have it well enough in hand, and the Bandits are again staggering as the two fighting them seem to have some bite to them… especially since Imota's Shadow Shuriken just dropped another one. Still, they have numbers on their side and go charging towards the two Ninja swinging those wicked implements of death that have plagued so many unfortunate merchant companies!
If Sora even noticed that she fatally wounded some of the bandits it's hard to say. She's turned away from them before they could fully fall, and aims several shuriken at the back of a ninja getting nearer to Imota. It seems that the girl uses very few ninjutsu or genjutsu in battle, but prefers to fight with taijutsu and speed. Then, she'd duck forward to aim a low kick right at an especially large man, only to have Megami fly down right over her head and aim its dive to rake the man's eyes. Sora spares a quick glance over to Imota, and even one to Rika to make sure they're well. She almost snorts in disdain. Lazy team leader!
The bandits hostility knew no bounds, some of them even singing as they rallied there attack against the poor Imota, whose evasion of the hordes of singers would have been expedited by clone after clone, of dummy replacements, who would pop and fizzle when hit. Imota who would have been finding himself at a wits end would result in more drastics pursuits, eyeing back Sora and then look toward the groups, and with handseals, send multiple blades of air and chakra at them post haste.
Two more down to the Chuunin. Two more enemy Bandits dead. One of them because of a falcon's claws through his eyes, that was a nasty one indeed. And Imota manages two more! So at this point the Bandits are suddenly scared, and Mr Sorprano suddenly calls out in his squealing voice, "run away!" Back where she's watching, perhaps even grading the performance of the two Shinobi, even Rika can't keep a straight face at this particular big Bandit, he can probably hit higher notes than she can! Even if with less of a sonorous tone…
When the bandit band begins to run away, Sora takes out a few kunai and throws them hard at the right leg of one of the fleeing bandits. Hopefully that will slow them down. But rather than attack them she'd signal to her now bloodied hawk overhead, and beckoning to the men, then hold up two fingers. Megami would rise high into the sky, becoming a speck, and even less than that, until she vanishes too high for the human eye to see. The bandits will have to find shelter to help their comrade, and perhaps even their base if they have one. She wouldn't tell Imota what to do, though, but she would move up to her team leader. "Megami will follow them for an hour then report back," she says. "I'm going to wait here for my falcon."
Meanwhile, Imota, seeing that many had been running, would then say, "Good riddance of bad singging." Wait.. did Imota just make a joke? That would baffle anyone one that knew him. He would see them running and say, "Orders to pursue, Rika-taicho?", seeing as how they would know the definite locations of the men as long as the large falcon had been a teammate on the squad.
"Good plan." Rika says, seeming to fade out from the sands… Or maybe just unbury herself from it. "You both did good in that fight. And excellent idea on trying to find the base, again. Might save the guilds a bit of money if that can all be recovered." And net the village a nice little bonus! "I recommend hold back for now." She says, "Otherwise they might not run to their base, but try to just scatter. We can follow with Megumi." Yep, Rika really loves this Falcon thing, makes it all so much easier!
Sora looks to Imota curiously when she speaks. This girl hadn't been very talkative for the duration of the mission. Usually girls her age liked to chatter away, but this one was half mute, albeit she wasn't to be underestimated. "Those were some interesting contraptions you used," she says. She nods to Rika and would turn to look in Megami's direction, as if she could see the stealthy hawk. "The desert is good," she says. "Hot air rises from the sand, making thermals. Those are the warm updrafts of wind that let a hawk soar up rather than have to flap. Megami should be able to follow them easily, this heat will do most of her flying for her." Then she simply stands there, waiting at her ease for her hawk, albeit with the slightest traces of worry around her eyes. A mile high, out of sight, Megami wasn't going to be hurt, but still Sora had sent her on a dangerous task.
Nodding, Imota would say, "Your feathered friend displayed quite the aerial competency as well. The strength is not akin to normal birds of the species. His abilities in comparison to that of the bandits caused our probability of success to become higher.", this said with quite the observances as he would watch the bird hover over head, and not do much in the way of watch now. "Eyes above that send down fury to below." He would look to Rika and nod at her orders before saying, "So shall we retreat and make report of this situation, Rika-sempai?"
"I'm a Nagahara. I know all the winds of the desert." Rika says with a wide grin and a certain amount of self confidence. Then she looks to Imota, shaking her head. "Iie. I'm sure they'll get to their camp soon. We just need to take a break, drink some water, and prepare to follow them. We just need to stay out of view after all." She removes a canteen from her belt and lifts it to her mouth to sip at it. "Don't drink it all, but you can probably afford to have a decent amount, bandits will have to have a source of water at their base after all. We'll probably camp there tonight after we take it too."
Sora stands there the entire time, neither moving or speaking but at one point she does take a few gulps from a flask she'd brought along. She uses some of it to wash her hands which are sticky with blood. She glances down at her clothes which are messy too. She really needs to work on staying cleaner during a fight, but with all the weapons, chakra, wind and talons flying about she'd concentrated more on survival than cleanliness. They'd wait for some time, but it'd only take the falcon half an hour to come back. Sora lets out a sigh of relief when she sees Megami who glides down. Sora raises an arm to take her weight, where the falcon would land, gripping the armguard. As the hawk sidesteps to her shoulder Sora would stroke her chest feathers. "You did well," she says. "Take a rest for awhile." She points in a northwesterly direction. "That a way."
Saluting to the orders Imota would dust himself off lightly of the sand, and after a moment to latch his large shuriken onto himself, he would move on, not quite thirsty at the moment, but still in need of a rest. Alot of chakra had been used, and he knew well that it wouldn't come back with him moving around more. When the falcon would descend, Imota would move in for a closer look, and if he was let, he would stroke the bird, his face still quite expressionless except for the widening of eye which told a tell all their own about an 11 year old kid with a large curiousity for everything.
Rika's advice to Sora comes next, "Be careful with water, you won't usually have the luxury of knowing you have water coming soon after a fight." The chide is gentle, but there is a certain gravity to it. Of course, Rika is from a Desert Tribe, so water is more than a little bit sacred to her. "Use sand to help clean things, it absorbs a lot more than you'd think. The rest, well, you have to live with stains sometimes." And when Imota doesn't drink, Rika has something for him as well, "Imota, drink. If we're ambushed on the way, you need to be sure you're hydrated. You used a lot of water in the fight. Replace it. That's a secret to desert ops when you know water is coming, as we do." And after that, the waiting game - Rika uses her cloak as a makeshift mini tent to shade herself, really quite practical. And then the falcon is back. "Move out." She says, and begins to pursue to the base! Which happens to be a nice little cave hideout, they have a small boulder in front, but not too hard to move away, just enough to hide it from casual view. Sadly, open sesame doesn't make it open with no work!
Megami would bite Imota's hand off! …not. The falcon would indeed let itself be petted and tilts it head so one fierce golden eye is looking piercingly at him. She listens to what Rika has to say, and for the first time looks a little guilty. What Rika says is right on the mark. She shakes her flask a little, hearing the last bit slosh around. She tucks it away and rummages in her pouch till she gets out some dried meat and tears off a bit to feed to her hawk. "Oww!" she says, as Megami pecks her sharply. "Why you little—yeah, I didn't get the ones you like. Well you can starve for all I care." After that the hawk relents, albeit grudgingly, and they'd go after the bandits, soon finding their footprints and a bit of blood as well to leave a trail.
Looking to Rika's orders the boy would nod, and drink. Rika was right about Imota. He did perspire some. So it was only fitting that he at least have some water to replace what he had lost. Having pet the bird, Imota would rest and when the time came, move into pursuit mode, following those that had been superior to him.
"The other reason?" Rika says more softly now, "In the desert during the day, you often need water the most when you think you're the least thirsty." But soon enough the group has trailed the bandits to their lair. And it didn't take them nearly as long either, being a Ninja means you can move fast! Rika is looking carefully from just over a ledge towards the lair now too. "Hopefully there aren't any extras. I have a feeling there isn't, reports never talked about many, and always many of the same descriptions. So we should have one wounded, and two others. We'll demand they surrender if we can, prisoners would look good."
After a few minutes Megami spreads her wings and flaps up into the air, gaining height with some difficulty. They'd follow the hawk until Megami landed on a tall border, and beyond them would be the camp of the bandits. Sora takes a deep, calming breath. It's like the silence before the storm. She doesn't look excited. She'd killed more than one person today. While she liked fighting, she didn't particularly like killing. It was messy, if nothing else. "We're here," she says quietly.
Imota would nod as they had arrived, stretching mildly as they had made it. He was ready. No choice but to be. They had been protectors in charge of keeping the peace in the Land of Wind. So mind as well get protecting. He would see the lair and not believe it. "The place seems to have good acoustics from what I can see. Probably well and perfect for any rehearsals or singing they may do." He would look to the those above him in rank and wait on what the verdict would be.
The Jounin cracks a mirthful smile at Imota's little joke. Rika looks between the two, then just nods before a small whirlwind of fire and hot air appears around her, seeming to immolate her… but then she seems to reappear in a similar fashion down below, in the base. The light of the fire from the technique betraying that. As well as a scream of fear from inside by everyone's favorite bandit sorprano can be heard to prove that yes, there is some pretty darned good accoustics here! "They've surrendered, come help tie them up please." Rika calls out soon after, her own voice so much more sonorous in the echoing walls.
Sora can't help but sigh in dismay at her teammate's antics and cover her face with a hand, but could it be there was the faintest twitch of a smile under her palm? By the time she takes her hand away she says, "Let's—oh my." She blinks as the Jounin seems to spontaneously combust. Rather than join Rika for what would no doubt be a slaughter, she takes the time to watch the Jounin deal out a quick beating. For the first time, she does laugh when moments later Rika is giving the all clear. She gives a shrug and would go to join her team leader. "Now why couldn't you have done that earlier?" she asks, before going to take stock of the camp for the night.
"What is funny?", would be asked by Imota as Rika would began laughing at his observation. He wasn't joking that time. He would look to the woman, who had been now seeming to be enveloped in the elements, would then vanish, only for them to hear high octaves being hit from withing, along with a whole bunch of noise. Imota's eyes would twitch, the closes thing to him wincing, as he would say, "Yes.. very good acoustics indeed. My observations were not wrong." He would then come to a stand before shrugging and walking in to tie up those that had been captured. Looks like the Choir Bandits had song there last song.
The response is serious, even somewhat weighty "You both need practice too, especially Imota-san. Like I said, I would have stepped in the moment there was a threat. Honestly, a single jutsu could have stunned, or even killed every one. But there was no need." Indeed, it looks like the bandits here surrendered without a fight. And that night is lived quite comfortably. There's plenty of good food in the bandit base. A nice little well with surprisingly cool water. And lots of stolen good including some nice furniture and pillows to lay on. Rika even sings some of those newfangled Jazz songs to once more prove how amazing the accoustics are here (And probably in no small part because of it)… and she's shockingly good at singing too (Probably why one of her infiltration personas is as a jazz singer). So as long as Sora and Imota don't mind the new style of music that Rika's Moga Scene seems to think is the Cat's Meow, it should be a nice evening! And if not, well, there's always Sorprano Bandit to taunt!