Date: October 20, 2014
Red and Mushi continue looking for Goh accross the high seas.
Poster's note: foul language filtered in obvious places.
"The Goh Hunt - Part 2"
The adventures of Red and his loyal sidekick Mushi have taken a swaying turn, with the pair having boarded a large wooden ship. This ship is the main method of transport for merchants getting their goods from one point A to B, as it stops at regular ports all along the southern coast line. From the Land of Wind, all the way to the Land of Lightning if you rode it long enough.
About a day into the voyage, Red is standing on the starboard side of the ship, propping himself up on the wooden railing with elbows. Just watching the empty blue ocean roll beneath them. They were far out now, with not a piece of land in sight.
Having talked to some merchants at the Toshi Sagan port, it was discovered that Goh's foodstuffs are coming from a small port off the Land of Fire. The plan was to simply disembark once they get there, then find out more.
Yet still, the travel was long. And for Red? Fairly boring. This wasn't a tourist or holiday ship, after all. It was a cargo vessel. No toys or games here.
Mushi enjoys sea voyages when they're not tossing and turning on stormy waves. In this one the weather is fine. Regardless of spending money generously sometimes, Mushi had haggled like a fishwife when it came to the modest fare. It was therefore a stroke of good luck when she stumbled across one of the crew who was favoring a stiff leg. She'd healed him in no time. After that there were splinters to heal, scratches, bruises, and assurances that all injuries would be treated throughout the voyage. They didn't even have to work. Funny how people reacted when their stubbed toe was instantly erased.
Mushi goes over to Red and says, "Come over here. Since we're going to be traveling aboard this vessel I can't spar you. But I'll see if you're able to do Chakra Shaping. Do you know what that is?"
"Chakra… shaping?" Red asks in curiosity, turning his attention away from the ocean beneath to the healer approaching. "Eeeehhh… I think I may've heard of it. Something about shaping chakra. Um. Right?" He laughs a bit stupidly, scratching the back of his head in embarrassment. "Dad didn't really teach me any of that stuff. Just more the basics of it all. Where it all comes from. That stuff." So it stands to reason he does not know what it is.
Sitting down on the wooden deck cross-legged, the youngster watches as some workers make their way through, doing some sort of job to keep the ship going.
"I like the water." He says suddenly. "It's nice on the seas, huh? I've never been on a ship before. Dad hated them for some reason." Thankfully, Red didn't inherit Goh's motion sickness.
Mushi smiles at Red's guess. "That's it more or less," she says. When Red comments how he enjoys sea travel, and that his father didn't go on it she's unsurprised. "Sea travel makes him sick," she says. She could cover for Goh and come up with some "cool" reason why he didn't travel on ships. Instead, she goes into a humiliating yet cruelly accurate description of just what Goh was like traveling on anything besides his summons, down to the retching. "We don't have that problem, fortunately. Now. Chakra isn't solid. By itself it's like fire or lightning chakra, fleeting and fluid. If you want to make it "solid" you have to use something such as your earth and sand jutsu. But with chakra shaping you can take pure chakra and make it into a solid shape. Here." She doesn't make any hand seals, but opens her palm and there's a small orb of chakra. "With practice you don't need to use hand seals. It's like tree walking and water walking. You don't blast chakra out. You control it carefully."
"Tch," Red gets out when he explains why he was never taken on any boat rides. "So he didn't want to go on the ferris wheel with me because he would barf everywhere?" He shakes his head a bit, disappointed.
This disappointment fades though when Mushi demonstrates her chakra shaping ability. Red blinks a bit in surprise, gaping at the spherical form of chakra that the legendary healer wields in her palm. "Oooooohhh! I can actually see it!" The youngster leans forward considerably, getting a really good look at the shaped chakra. "That is amazing, Mushi. Unlike my dopey Dad, who couldn't even sit on a boat!" He laughs a bit, before leaning backwards a bit.
"So what's the point of doing this, anyway? I bet you could make some sweet super amazing jutsu that look like things?" Opening his right palm and having it face upwards, his left hand comes to grab the right wrist. As if it's an effort to keep it steady. "How do I do it?"
When Red asks what can be done with chakra shaping, she considers this. Should she show him how to blast things with chakra, or go more hand to hand? She looks Red up and down. Taijutsu is taught to youngsters to strengthen their bodies, not just their control. "It can be used like this." Chakra forms around her hand in a glove — but a clear glove tipped with sharp claws. "Or this." And chakra forms around her in a clear, hardened layer. "Try hitting me." It'd be as unyielding as a wall. "No one has a 'natural' tendency towards chakra shaping. It's harder to create and control, but once you do in its natural form it doesn't take any hand seals to summon…although it's easier that way.
Red does indeed throw a punch when invited, his fist slamming against the armor of blue haze with a dull thud. The youngster recoils his hand and shakes it vigorously, gritting his teeth in pain. "Ow." He grunts, rubbing his poor knuckles that now glow a rosy red.
"I see. So you can do some pretty neat tricks, and it's quicker too." His brow seems to furrow, looking at his hand again. "Is this like a visualisation trick like everything else? Picture it mentally and it will happen?" The youngster still seems a bit unsure. "I can only just run up trees. Are you sure I'm even good enough for this?"
At this moment, the booming voice of the Captain calls across the deck. "I've just been given word! The Bounty Hunters known as the 'The Sad Pipes' have taken refuge in our designated ports in the Land of Fire. We are going to be taking a detour through the Land of Water to avoid any troubles." There's a collective groan from the workers, though all continue their activities.
"What's that mean?" Red asks Mushi innocently, not sure on what exactly is happening.
"Tree walking is the first step to chakra shaping," she says. "It's how to form chakra that's still. Still as a tree. Water walking later will teach you chakra in motion — more useful for ninjutsu. But what you'll be learning is — "
That's when the captain announces that there will be a detour to the Land of Water due to some bounty hunters. Instantly Mushi springs to her feet. She'd heard of the Sad Pipes, who cut people's throats. But far worse would be having to contend with Meruin. "There are some bad guys," Mushi says. "We'll have to go to the long route to avoid them. Unless.." She goes over to the captain. "We have to stop in the Land of Fire," she says. Part of her wants to get on Kirameki and fly away with Red. But what would that be teaching him? To turn tail and run? Somehow, she knows Goh wouldn't have his lizard swimming away. "How about this? I'm a combat medic." That's stretching it. "I'll go ashore to deal with these men, I know of them. And anyone who wants to come with me can." She smiles. "As many men can stay on the ship, but if we beat them you'll be the captain of the ship who drove out those ruffians. And the gratitude you get will come with plenty of rewards.."
The Captain looks a bit frazzled, but he's putting on a brave face. If nothing else for his men, who also look a bit shaken. The Captain himself is a hardened man who has seen many voyages. And some combat, by the looks of things. He's no shinobi though.
The middle aged man seems to take everything that Mushi has to say seriously and evenly. "Go ashore?" He nearly spits. Gross. "I don't know who you think you are lady, but those are the Sad Pipes we're talking about here. They'll cut you down before you get clear of the dock." Red butts in at this point, emerging from behind Mushi's waist. "Hey! Mushi is super tough! She'll smash 'em all." He raises a fist up to his jawline, an indication that he too is ready to fight. "I'll come with you ashore, Mushi. We'll fight 'em and drive 'em outta town!" He grins a toothy grin. The Captain looks dumbfounded. "Look. Even if I wanted to, I can't. I got these orders from the authorities." The eagle which delivered the scroll is still here, sitting on its little stand. "This ship ain't going near the Land of Fire while I'm still breathing." Red's nose wrinkles.
There is only a second, maybe two to react. A huge wave appears to hit the side of the ship — itself an unusual event in such clear skies and calm waters. The vessel shakes back and forth, though the sudden rocking causes Red to fall onto his rear with an 'oomph'.
The sound of splashing is next, as twenty objects are launched out of the ocean and high into the air, surrounding the ship. These objects, cloaked in long black clothes, flip about, and then neatly land on the railings of the ship. The synchronistic actions are impressive if nothing else, the entire group just now standing at their positions. Completely covered by their billowing cloaks. They themselves however, don't move. They just stand there. Unmoving. Watching. About to prey.
The Sad Pipes. They had likely used a water technique to travel under water and get here. Their target was someone on board this ship. But who?
Red just stares at the grown figures in black, gawking all around him. They were completely surrounded. "M…Mushi?" As strong as Red claimed to be. As bold and brave as he pretended, he had never actually seen combat. He had never been in a real fight. And the stench of death that these guys had made him tremble, edging closer to the healer.
"If you insist," Mushi says. "We'll still be getting…" She stops and whips around as the incoming hunters launch onto the ship. For a moment, she looks terrified. Not for herself, but for everyone aboard the ship…and Red. Red most of all. She looks down only to see the kid is also scared.
"In these situations," she murmurs quietly to Red, "the most important thing to do isn't to beat the enemy. It's to stay alive. Defend yourself with everything you have, Red. For now, let me take care of them."
She doesn't want to tear this ship apart. Instead of an explosion of bijuu chakra, a black flower blooms on Mushi's neck. It sinks into her skin, and infuses her with chakra. She's gathering chakra to herself. She says to the captain, "Find out what they want. Make them leave."
One action is all it takes. And in this case, this 'one action' is performed by four crew members. These four men all launch forward with haphazard strikes, trying to hit out at the closest Sad Pipes with their working tools. Not even the "Stop it, fools!" From the Captain is enough to stop them from their daring gambit.
As one unit, the Sad Pipes, now considering themselves to be under attack, counter-attack. The four men which attacked first are sliced open like hot butter, as all of the enemy shinobi brandish their identical curved scimitars.
Chaos erupts. As the Sad Pipes attack, what remains of the crew fight back. Flung kunai knives are thrown, explosive tags detonate. The ship was under attack!
Four Sad Pipes reach the Captain quarters in less than a moment. In their sights is the Captain himself, along with the healer and Red. They move to kill with compact kenjutsu movements. They're quick and fast, more than a match for most Chuunin level candidates. Heck, even some Jounin might struggle!
When the Sad Pipes rush in wielding katana and running for them, Mushi looks at where their eyes are pointed. Who are they here for? She doesn't have much time to speculate as they close in. She makes a few seals and a wave of clear chakra sweeps out, pushing them back. She's already making more seals, and another shimmering wave of chakra flows out towards them. Instead of hitting them it'd pass over the four men. But if they were unable to defend against it, they'd be paralyzed for some time. She draws a kunai. "Two choices. A kunai in the throat or you tell me immediately what all of you are doing here," she says. Despite her stature she seems to loom, filling the cabin with her presence. Her usually warm smile has vanished.
The Sad Pipes were quick and precise, but even they are no match for the legendary healer known as Mushi. The four assailants are unable to defend against the paralysing chakra pulse that she sends out, meaning they are frozen in place. They can only watch as she draws her kunai.
The Captain is still alive, quickly learning that the closest he stays to Mushi the better. Likewise, Red is still there. Frozen in fear, eyes as wide as pools. He finds his hands shaking, a movement he is unable to control.
The enemy ninja stay silent, not answering Mushis demand. They were trained and disciplined ninja, after all. They had a decent spine to rely on.
Meanwhile, in other parts of the ship, the Sad Pipes are running amok. Blowing parts of the hull apart, slaughtering sailors and looking for their target. Then, eventually, one calls out in a deep voice; “The Salamander is not here! Withdraw!”
The Sad Pipes re-form their initial formation, all of them stepping back to stand on the ship railing (or what was left of it). If Mushi will let her frozen targets leave, they too will withdraw with the others.
Mushi whips around when they reveal that the Salamander isn't there. Her eyes flash in alarm. They were looking for Goh? She's about to go out and fight the lot of them when they decide to withdraw, and she almost breathes a sigh of relief. She pushes three pirates out. But the last one she leans in to give a soft, tender kiss on the lips. "Had fun," she says, with a sly smile. Then he too would be returned to his comrades. She would wait until they withdrew. Then she goes to the captain calmly and says, "I'm sorry for your losses. This won't happen again. I'm sending my summon out to keep watch. And I hid a feather on that man I kissed. He'll discover it soon and dispose of it, but until then Kirameki will be able to track it and know if they're really leaving."
The man's breath certainly did not spell too rosy. Red just gapes when she kisses the enemy ninja, before watching as they depart. They dive into the sea, not too different to how they entered.
There's a growl from the Captain as the enemy flees. "You're sorry? SORRY for my loss? I just lost fifteen good men! You BETTER keep track of them all, and eliminate them. Track." The stench of death was quickly wafting up and across the deck, causing Red's stomach to turn. He had never seen corpses cut so brutally before. Never seen death like this. The boy remains silent.
All is silent for a moment then, with nothing falling on the ears except for the soft movement of waves. But then, to the trained ears of a shinobi, something can be heard below deck. As if something caught alight. For just beneath them, with all of the stockpiled goods, dozens and dozens of explosive tags just caught alight. The Sad Pipes were erasing any signs of their presence!
Mushi looks at the captain calmly. She could point out she just saved his life, but she doesn't. She could console him for the men he lost, but it wasn't a healer's job to grieve over the dead. It was to tend to the living. So she says, "I'd like your men to find every injured man and bring them to a large, clean room. This room. The most gravely injured first, the others can wait. I'll treat them here." She places a hand on Red's shoulder. "Red, you tell Kirameki-chan what happened here. Then return to me." She'd go out to summon the hummingbird, and then back to the cabin where she would await any wounded. For obvious reasons she doesn't make the bird cramp into an enclosed room. Her calm is almost chilling. Is it natural or forced? Either way, she gives off a sense of authority that can't be denied.
"O…Okay." Red sniffs a little bit, before taking his first steps since everything began. Legs feel like jelly as he travels across the deck to the hummingbird, the stench of blood and sight of corpses causing him to finally throw up his breakfast. Fortunately, over the side of the ship!
The Captain is about to follow the orders that Mushi gave, but hes interrupted. By a big, loud, boom.
Those dozens of explosive tags which were planted by the Sad Pipes detonate with an incredible, ear-splitting explosion. The entire middle part of the ship is blown to bits, taking with it the various bodies and supplies that is anywhere near it. The Captain is killed instantly as wooden splinters, both small and large, riddle his body from head to toe. Mushi will suffer the same fate unless she reacts quickly!
Red meanwhile, fortunately having moved to the end of the ship, isnt caught in the initial blast. While a few splinters scratch his skin, hes mostly unharmed. But with the ship now in literally two pieces, each piece begins to slant inwards as it takes in water and begins to sink into the ocean beneath! Red, losing his footing, begins to slide down the now sharply slanted deck, heading for the ocean beneath. "Wauuughh!"
Mushi gasps when the captain is killed instantly, and throws up an arm to shield herself. The ship is going down and there are screams everywhere. For a moment she stands stunned, but then she sees him. Red is sliding down the half of the ship. Blue and green chakra springs up around her. She reaches out and the cloak extends into a giant hand to snag the boy and pull him close. "I have you kid," she says. She jumps off the ship, and her feet land as solidly on water as if it were dry earth. "Kirameki!" Kirameki comes, scratched and battered but alive. She sets Red on his back. "Wait here. Carry three others." And then she starts reaching out to grab the few people who are above the surface. There are more than three, but it's a child and two women she gets on first. They're hysterical.
"Keep them on. Get them to land as soon as possible and then come back." She whips out a scroll. All of them soaked. She manages to peel one apart and poof — a small boat of all things. Too small. In the end she's only able to save a handful of people. Crammed into the boat, some injured people slung over her shoulders as she stands panting on the water. The rest, all the cargo, the ship itself, gone.
It's a long row back for Mushi! Fortunately, her hummingbird summon makes the trip quickly, dropping Red and a few passengers off on the nearest piece of land. In this case, its a small beach in the Fire Country. By the time that Kirameki has come back and forth a few times to make all the trips necessary to get everyone on land, a few minutes have passed. While several had been saved, many more had been lost.
Red himself sort of sits there on the beach with a few others, trying to take in the events of what had just happened. It was all so fast. So quick. And then, what was with the giant arm that Mushi had caught him with?! Regardless, he does look to brighten a bit when the healer herself finally gets to land. A small wave is given.
Mushi flies in on Kirameki and thanks the hummingbird with all her heart. "One more thing. Go to the Hokage and tell him what transpired. Senju Daisuke. Expect a cold reception, I'm not much loved in Konoha. But they won't attack you." She hadn't been officially banned from Konoha, the desire not to see her was unspoken. She tells everyone to wait there and goes to contact the nearest village to enlist their aid in helping for survivors. But from now on she keeps Red close to her, often pulling the boy into a hug or ruffling his hair. For some reason she heals only the gravest wounds. She need to conserve as much chakra as possible if by some slim chance the Sad Pipes return.
Eventually as they were sitting in a room within the coastal village she says to Red, "They were looking for Goh-kun. He may have left you for this very reason — because he drew trouble. From now on you can speak of your father, but only to me and anyone I say it's alright to tell. No one else."
Those villagers and crew members whom are well enough to move on their own completely ignore Mushi. They opt to take matters into their own hands and just walk to the nearest port, itself a few kilometres along the coast. They had had enough and were bailing!
Naturally, the more sensible ones remained behind, including those too wounded to do so. Red is still unmoving, nodding a bit to Mushi when she instructs him on what to do. Hes not adverse to hugs or pet ruffling, either. "I can't even say how awesome he is?" The youngster seems a bit sad, but nods anyway. He is in no place to argue. "Why are they after him? Why, Mushi?"
Mushi frowns. "He's not just your father, Red," she says. "He was my lover. He's a close friend to some. An ally to others. And when you're an ally to someone you're an enemy to someone else. Your father has enemies. And sometimes just being important or powerful is enough to make people fear you." She glances around, and then draws Red to a bed to sit down. "It may be because they found out he's Akuu," she says, very quietly. "Akuu are a clan that were hunted down some time ago. He's always hidden his powers, and never used them to harm people, but to some that makes no difference. It'd be enough reason to chase him."
She looks into Red's eyes. "Knowing you may see more of this, and be in more danger…what will you do? My suggestion is to go to Konoha and join the village. They'd welcome a shinobi with such potential. You could be protected. Safe. The Hokage is a good man, and they have good ideals. Both the men I loved came from there."
Red listens intently as he's sat down on the bed, trying to take in as much information as possible. Akuu, lover, friend, ally, enemies. It was a lot of information to process, causing him to rub his forehead in some confusion. As Mushi crouches in front of him to look directly into her eyes however, his nose wrinkles.
"I don't wana join any stinking village!" He declares, maybe a bit too loudly. "Then I would never be able to see you again, too! I want to stay and keep travelling with you. I want to keep going to try and find my Dad. I'll… I'll… just keep training and get super tough, so next time I can help you fight the enemies back!" He caps off his little statement with a firm nod, and crosses his arms to cap it off with some stubbornness.
Now that he is finally sitting down on something comfortable, the boy moves to lay down. A feeling of exhaustion suddenly starts to wash over him. "I'm sleepy." He starts, and before another moment has passed, his eyes are shut. And he is dozing.