Date: March 15, 2014
A mission to uncover more about the pirate coalition's recruitment efforts is derailed by the efforts of a Shippodoku assassin seeking fame and fortune in the removal of a Sunagakure's Councilewoman, Watanabe Itami.
"The Coalition Cleansing - Recruitment Derailed"
South Beach [Land of Fire]
The island south of the Land of Fire has provided a peaceful counterpoint for land based merchants, for trade between the Tea Country and River Country. The commerce however has spread out to the entire continent in recent years. Though South Beach doesn't have the central location of some islands, it boasts some of the swiftest trade ships out there.
South Beach is surrounded by calm, warm waters and white sand.
The two industries are visibly fishing and tourism, the first of which encircles the coast with many ports, markets and ships. The real heart of the island is in the town called Shiroku Hills.
Few are so bold as to enter into a shinobi village and attempt to recruit right out of their ranks. It's unheard of for one thing and downright overconfidence. Still, the approach was not to do away with the recruiters. If they were recruiting, it means that interested people could be tracked. Itami had every intention of finding these individuals and hopefully, finding the source of these siren calls. There had been some that answered, but some could soon turn into more. Hopefully, she could nip this in the bud.
She found herself at South Beach looking for further leads. This was a place that was heavy in trade ships and individuals carrying on about business of important and exporting for villages around here, including Suna. So far, there wasn't anyone that appeared to look like a pirate as she wandered the piers of the docking areas. It's possible they just might be out to sea or maybe hiding in plain sight. If only she had something to track their scent with or something else to look into.
Pirates were of no interest to Kongo. He had more important things to focus on. He realizes that his target is here in this area and though he doesn't have sight of her yet, being close enough is good enough for him. Once he had a lock on her, there was no chance of escape. He stood up from the crate he was seated on, having taken it into his possession as a temporary seat much to the chagrin of a dock worker and fear. The guy didn't want to get on Kongo's bad side. His heavy steps took him away and into the crowd where he began his search without much care as to who saw him. Certainly, he could blend in if he wanted to and the shadows were his friend from time to time, but he was the giant that struck from above or wherever else he darn well pleased.
The sun had already set, so Keiji was feeling more at ease. His natural clock seemed to thrive during those dark hours. He moved through the crowd as he searched for a clue or even a sign that this was the right track to finding the cause of the disturbance. Perhaps it was due to a lack of time spent near the ocean, but the place made Keiji slightly uncomfortable. The salt air filled his nostrils. The sound of the constant water crashing filled his ears. This was not the desert. Even the temperature was different. This was something out of Keiji's element. "The sooner we finish our buisiness here, the sooner we can return home." he mutters to Ayumu.
"Someone sounds shaky," Ayumu jests good-naturally, though quietly enough not to draw attention to the duo. It was something he simply could not resist. Whereas the Iga felt invigorate from both the fall of night and the sweet sweet air that once promised freedom, Keiji was the same, and yet, conflicted as well. It is that conflict that lured out the old demon. Luckily for both, the Iga knew better to contain it quickly before any more havoc could be wrecked. "But I digress, how shall we proceed young master?" He asks as he strode in the wake of his Shippodoku leader, or perhaps better yet, stalked. It really all dependent on Keiji's approach and rather or not the duo really stuck out to begin with.
These pirates weren't overly obvious which was better for them if they wanted to maintain an undercover presence. They weren't just any sort of pirate, they were skilled with jutsu, many of them having been former shinobi of many different backgrounds. The life promised a lot that they couldn't find in the villages, notably fast earned benefits and a lack of politics that once kept them restrained. The pirates had their small set of rules, but not nearly of the same as villages.
The majority of their operations at this dock was weeding out those who were willing and ready to join them versus those that were cowardly and or weak…or stupid. The objective was simple enough. Everyone saw that big guy wandering around here earlier. Best thing to do was to try and take him out.
Some feeling confident in their abilities went out to attack Kongo, but he was quick and merciless in puting them out of their misery. The pirates would know who managed what by hearing bodies getting cast into the water. Itami heard these things and went to go investigate. Little did she know that this was taking her right into the path of the one trying to take her out.
Keiji's eyes turned towards Ayumu momentarily. He was pretty sure the Iga was trying to have at him. Before he can say anything though, there was a splash made in the water. Keiji's attention is quickly turned to the large man. Though it had been many years, the face of the man was still easily recognizable. "This is not good. Be on your guard. There is another Shippodoku here. He takes priority. We need to find out why Kongo is here."
Keiji knew the brute from his time back in the clan. The time before he was shipped off to the village. Even back then, Kongo had been much taller. He also was pretty hard to control. It was obvious that Keiji had a distaste for him. As he walked towards the area where Kongo was disposing of the body, Keiji's pincered finger extended downwards. The young man was preparing to strike.
Ayumu merely cants his head slightly to side as if passively curious upon sensing Keiji's eyes upon him. With ears burning from an old call to arms or rescue, Ayumu adjusts his head towards the source of the splash, then hones his senses further by revitalizing the sensory organs nestled in the forest of red growing from the top of his head. "Aye, though don't forget to take this just in case." He says, offering up a disembodied ear for Keiji to secret on his person. "Just hide it on ya 'nd I'll hear you without you needing to yell for me like last time, neh?" Ayumu adds with a grin.
Regardless of rather or not his 'gift' is accepted, Ayumu takes a brief few moments to produce and scatter more sensory organs throught the area, as well as produce a shadow clone bearing one of his gifts. The shadow clone would move on wordlessly with the intention on playing back-up/relay point for its creator. Said creator in the meantime stalked after Keiji, though maintained a decent amount of distance not to be caught up in any immediate mishaps… or so he hoped.
As the body splashes into the water, Kongo turns around and begins to walk off when he catches Itami in his sights. She had her attention on the water, watching the waves roll away from the body that was just cast in. When she looked up to see who may have been responsible, Kongo was right on her with his blades extended to strike at her ferociously with stabs aimed for her neck and chest in particular. She managed to evade the first strike, but the second went straight through and pierced her. She looked down to see what the damage was and began to feel the effects immediately.
"I didn't think you'd be dumb enough to find me before I found you. Now look what you've done," he scolded her as if she ran into his weapon.
Keiji reached out and took the ear with a disgusted look upon his face. He quickly slipped it into his pocket. "I find your jutsu disturbing at best." These words were somehow, Keiji's justification of every single reason he should not have a living ear in his pocket.
As he turned around, he saw Kongo attacking Itami. There is a slight growl from Keiji as he remembers Konsatsu trying to do the same. It seemed like everyone in his clan wanted to kill Itami for one reason or another. Perhaps it was because their clans had once warred with each other. Maybe it was the claim to fame. Regardless, Keiji decided to intervene. He knew Itami could take care of herself, but this was about something more.
As Keiji dashed forward, he moved his own pincered finger from his pocket. He was looking to inflict some poisonous pain upon Kongo. "I doubt the pirates would want someone as dumb as a box of rocks." he whispers as he gets close enough for the first strike upon Kongo.
Ayumu simply shrugs at the analysis. While the wording may have been slightly different, it was far from being anything new to grace the Iga's ears. That aside, the clone wasted no time in acting upon seeing Itami wounded. The only thing that made up for its blind disregard for a command being 'his' ability to work in conjunction with Keiji's own attacks. Sort of. A flying drop kick from the side, meaning to drive Kongo into the water and hopefully remove his ability to rely on the Shippodoku's clan infamous (yet not?) underground assassinations techniques. The original would meanwhile slip behind a crate and play observer/look out until circumstances forced his hand.
He was on the fence between hoping and dreading such an opportunity…
"Sorry bout that milady~ His face was calling for me after he struck you so." The clone says, or would should he be allowed to spring board off Kongo's head and land nearby the Watanabe. "You forgive me though.. won'tchu?" 'It' pleads.
"It's alright…He didn't hit my heart which is important, but he did get pretty close," Itami admits. "If I hadn't managed to slip away from his strike, it'd have been a direct hit." By this point, she'd been on the ground and trying to fight back the effects of the poison as it was spreading across her chest. Make no mistake, this guy had some powerful poisons and she wasn't certain she could take it all that well. She didn't have any kind of antidote on her to work with this.
Kongo struck his target and though he missed where he was aiming, he did get her. With her chest hit, the poison could take effect, but it wouldn't be like striking her in the neck. That was a choice spot for delivering these sorts of things. Straight to the heart.
He didn't expect to see Keiji here, but part of him was thrilled that he was here. Though, seeing that he was able to hit him wasn't what he remembered from him. "Seems like you've improved," he mentioned as he took some steps back to feel at his wounds. He'll live. "You've interrupted my kill. Is it because you can't get your own? I'll be generous, I'll donate her to you. I'd like to have done more, but now your offense takes focus." He says as he focuses his energies to transform.
Keiji's pincers had hit home. His poisons were now taking effect on the larger Shippodoku. Ayumu's clone seemed to be of no help. His eyes focus on the transformation. "So you have gained the ability of Sasoriendai. Impressive. It is too bad you do not realize you are out classed still. Walk away and maybe I'll be generous and let you leave with your tail between your legs." Obviously Kongo was one of the gifted Shippodoku like Keiji. Keiji's fingers move together as his own chakra builds. He too starts to transform. He was trying to keep it on the same level as Kongo.
Ryoji smiled broadly, even though ont he inside the clone was seething. No one hurts his Itami and gets away with it. 'He' is just short of entering the dick measuring contest between two shippodoku when it recieves a message from its creator through the ear it left behind. It growls behind gritted teeth, but ultimately obeys the edict of 'standing by'. Mostly. If nothing else it would see to it that Itami remained safe, and comfortable until the system worked its way out of her system. At least, that is what it hoped. If it had the enhanced senses that its creator was accessing at the moment it might've flown off the handle again upon reading its potency.
The cry of gulls…
The bubbles of panic beginning to spread from the first onlooker of the battle…
An eternity later, Ayumu takes in a deep breathe and focuses back on the present. Keiji's, Itami's, and Kong's present, considering how his own upon delving deep into the Iga bloodline displaced him from the others. He would be ready when the time came…
Kongo's winced at Keiji. "Walk away? That's not an option," he spoke as his tail shifted back and forth. "You're a fool if you would think I would do otherwise, let alone accept the offer." He wasted no time in focusing needles to his tail by which he'd use to shoot out at Keiji and by extension Ayumu. Upon showering them both he'd find himself a high point where he could home in and target them more effectively with poison darts aimed at vital organs.
Itami stayed off to the side, wishing she could join into the fight, but this poison was working a number on her body. She could only hope she could hold on long enough to make it back to Suna. She had no intention of falling to this guy, whoever he was. At most, she knew he was Shippodoku. Part of her mind wonders what magnetizes them to her, but she can't think on it too much. She needs to focus on maintaining herself.
Keiji threw his body to the side as the needles came forth. Using his tail to help him quickly recover his balance, Keiji looked up in time to see the poison darts. He repeated the maneuver to the other side. Once more his tail helped him stay on his feet. "You've not learned how to properly use that tail, have you?" Keiji taunted. With a quick twist, Keiji swung his own tail directly at Kongo. He was certain Kongo had no idea of Keiji's paralytic venom in the stinger on the tail.
Everything is recorded. Nothing is missed. Ayumu maneuvers in tandem with his sensory web, evading the rogue needles at the price of exposing himself to ensure his own survival. When next he lands atop of pile of crates, there's a more focused dart with his name on him. A hand made of hair slaps the projectiles away. "If'n this is how it must be, then—" He crouches down. "So be it." While it would've been best to leave Keiji to his own devices, an opportunity to strike was too much to ignore. He springs almost literally into action, intending on destroying the man's tail first with a rather explosive palm strike towards its base. The act — regardless of success or failure — unbalances, but the Iga works with the motion to try and unleash one more explosive strike to the leg.
Kongo felt the stinger pierce right through his hide and that meant trouble. In one motion, he flinged the tail from his body and managed to evade Ayumu's attacks with swift footwork, but ends up collapsing to the ground, using his pincers to balance his weight. "Don't think you're the only one that knows how to use a tail…" He sputtered out. In his condition, he began to have second thoughts about this fight, but he shook them away as quickly as they came. He couldn't allow Keiji and his partner to show him up. "You still haven't dealt with her, yet. Wasting time fighting me here will mean that I accomplished what I came to do. She's bound to give in to my poisons eventually."
There wasn't much to be said with concentration placed solely on managing poison. Was her body able to? Not necessarily, but ailments were just as much of the mind as they were of the body. If she could keep her mind together, she hopes that her body will follow suit and maintain. At least, for just a little longer.
Keiji dashed back after the poison took. He landed on his feet and a hand with his tail over his own head. As he saw the effects, he moved forward towards the massive Shippodoku. "I'm not even fighting at full strength Kongo. I've mastered Sasoriendai. You should have walked away." Keiji states as he dips his pincered finger into his pocket. He dipped it into a special vial of poison. Now coated with that poison, Keiji drives his pincered finger into the tail of Kongo. His dark eyes wait a moment longer before he backs up. Soon Kongo's entire body would be racked with pain.
Not one blow landed. He should've predicted the Shippodoku would retain some fight within him before the poison took full effect. Pride and vengeance threatened to overwhelm him for a moment. A moment, and then, he'd feel nothing at all. During the following moment Ayumu glanced towards Keiji's general direction, consider following up the Shippodoku's own movements with his own, and… hesitate as a realization struck him. While Kongo did just threaten a councilor and interfered with official shinobi business, Ayumu was a reluctant killer.
A sigh escapes his lips as he formed a seal and summoned another shadow clone. Like its brother, it needed no orders from the original before getting to work on trying to cave the brute's head in with consecutive explosive blows. Ayumu meanwhile would signal for 'Ryoji' to seek out something to stave off the poison while he took over covering Itami.
Kongo tried to speak, but all that came out were muffled grunts as he tried to form words. The poison worked its way through his body and on top of that, the pain of fighting was catching up to him. He had an exposed wound and could hardly hold his body together. He fell to the ground, but pride kept him from staying there for too long. He fought against the poison and rose up only to fly back down as Ryoji battered him. He found that he couldn't stand again, but not for lack of trying. He'd just been hit with more poison courtesy of Keiji. With all of this blending together in his body, there's no way he could survive, but he did his job. Itami was bound to pass from his attack.
Itami felt the majority of the poison pass through her system, but she was still in no condition for any sort to move, but she was aware of her surroundings, at least. The battle went on without her, but she observed the results of what happened. She sluggishly turned her head to observe the scorpion that attacked her before her eyes closed and she leaned back against the crate she was set against. She can't believe she was just surprise attacked by this guy and it wasn't even much of a surprise.
Now that Kongo seemed to be out of the way, Keiji turned his attentions towards Ayumu and Itami. "We need to get her prepped to move." He lowered a hand over the wound where the poison had entered her system. "I cannot stop the poison, however I can undo some of the damage that it has done." There were medics back in the village that could solve the poison. Until then he'd simply have to make sure she was as healed as best she could be. He then turns his attention back towards Kongo. He was not sure if he would live or not. "Think I should let him waist away in a jail cell?" he asks.
"He is of your blood rather you like it or not. Deliver whatever punishment would be deemed fit by your clan and be done with it."
Keiji's question might have been rhetorical or only meant to be directed at Itami, but nevertheless, Ayumu would speak up before advancing and helping Itami up. He would offer in a whisper to carry her, and try to convince her further given their need to make haste. Despite the logical choice, Ayumu would accept whatever decision is ultimately made by Itami. The clones, on the other hand, would either help Keiji perform whatever task needed to be done regarding Kongo or their original mission. Regardless of how things played out, Ayumu would retain the heightened state of being. It was the only way to maintain control they returned to Sunagakure.
"Let's…just…move," Itami struggled to verbalize as she was offered to be picked up by Ayumu. She had no qualms about being carried as her body was far from being able to carry her. "I'm sorry," she added, though she wasn't able to finish. She wanted to apologize for placing them through this difficulty, but she had to place whatever strength she had on reserve to make it through this poison. Keiji's help did deter some of the problem she was experiencing, but further assistance would be needed to get rid of this. Kongo could stay here, be sent to jail and or killed. Perhaps in combination. It didn't matter much to her.
Keiji was still puzzled by what to do with his clansmen. Finally seeing him on the verge of death, he moves over and palces a hand over one of his wounds. He starts to heal him. It is just enough to keep him alive and for him to move. "You will spend your days behind bars. Instead of being an assassin of caliber, you will be another numbered prisoner. I told you that you should have just walked away."
Ayumu did not show it, but he was genuinely taken aback by Keiji's action. The fleeting feeling aside, the Iga bears Itami without so much as a grunt from exertation. Meanwhile, the clones take up position at Kongo's side and would half-drag, half-carry the man wherever Keiji deemed to lead the team. The only hitch — a brief one at that — is the clone that went by Ryoji. It concealed its murderous temperament from all but Kongo before belatedly assisting in the man's transportation, all the while bearing an unreadeable mask. The mission may have been a bust, but at least Itami would have one last crazy shippodoku after her head for awhile…
"Care to lead on, oh cap'n, my cap'n?" Ayumu asks of Keiji with half-hearten mirth behind his tone.