The Horoscope


Rinako, Ruri, Kara, Shemri

Date: Saturday, March 20th


Ruri and her team head to Fuuma Alley to meet with and escort a client. They find their hands more than full when they find out the whole town seems to want this guy dead!

"The Horoscope"

Fuuma Alley

was high noon here in the dastardly city of Fuuma Alley, not that one could ever tell with the overabundance of smoke that clouded the sky and cast the city in perpetual gloom. The mission that sent the group here today, keeping three of them here from yesterday's previous activities, was to find a brown-haired teenaged boy, their client, at a certain place, at a certain time. From there, they would receive instructions on who they were to protect from 'brigands' and extricate back to Sunagakure along with him.

Kara, Ruri, and Rinako had left the hotel they had been staying in while completing the assignment that had brought them to the city in the first place, meeting up with Shemri at the designated place. It was an open-air market, filled with peddlers, trying to sell everything from smut to rice balls in this putrid little square. Everything looked dirty, and looked as if it would make /you/ dirty just by touching it.

A charming place for a meeting.

Whoever their client was, was late, by over an hour. This led to boredom, of course, which led to Rinako wandering off. She didn't go far, and if one wanted to locate her, they only had to look to the nearest fortune-teller along the edge of the market square, sitting on a small crate that was serving as a stool in front of the teller.

"Really? Huh. What else does my horoscope say?"

The wizened old woman waves her hands over some strange-looking cards that had etchings on them only she could decipher, apparently. "The cards say… today is your lucky day, my dear girl… an encounter with an unusual man awaits…"

"That's a little /vague/… I was hoping for the lotto numbers."

Ech…for someone who grew up in a clan of hunters, this place is /double/-disgusting. XP Shemri looks around at the crowded, unsanitary surroundings, tapping her foot with impatience. Her feeling of disdain isn't along the ew-don't-make-me-touch-it line; rather, it gives her an itch to grab a mop and start /attacking/ the filth. Of course, those slimeballs selling the dirty mags would probably be her first target, so she's having to restrain herself for the sake of not causing a riot. >.<; "Hoi. Does anyone have any idea what we have been called here to do?" Shemri asks the others. "I would not be displeased if it happened to involve removing some rats from this street." >P

Kara is busy posing in front of a full-length mirror. Pharaoh is posing too, which is probably the main reason everyone is trying very hard to ignore the two of them. She glances over briefly towards Shemri. "Oh, we're supposed to be guarding someone or something. A client is going to meet us, tell us who we're supposed to protect, and then we get the client and the person we're guarding back to Sunagakure. That was my understanding at least.—No, no. You need to move your hips like >this<, Pharaoh-kun!" A man walking by cries out in agony after making the mistake of looking in Pharaoh's direction. He clutches at his eyes and hurries off down the street.

Ruri is just hanging around, keeping one eye on her sister and the other on her surroundings. She is more concerned about the late client than the others are, apparently. For all she knows someone has intercepted the client and kidnapped, brutalized, or killed him or her. Thus, she is less interested in the various and sundry merchandise being offered and more on the task at hand.

"That's not how it works, deary…"

"Wait, I'm paying you, aren't I? Shouldn't you be telling me what /I/ want?"

"I can only tell what the cards say…"

"What kind of ripoff is that!?"

While Rinako argues with the fortune teller, a hunched figure pushing a cart enters the market square, looking around with square-rimmed spectacles from under a wide-brimmed hat. After a moment, the figure pushes the creaky old cart, it's contents covered by tarp, closer to the three women, two of whom were discussing the particulars of their mission.

"I was told to meet four women here. Where is-"


"Ow!" Withdrawing her hand, which had just been smacked by the hunch-backed male, from where she had been trying to lift the tarp to see beneath it, Rinako gives the guy a sour look. The head beneath the hat turns this way and that, as if counting the number of women now present, the peers about the rest of the market, as if expecting everyone was secretly watching him. After a moment, he reaches up, taking off his wide straw hat.

It reveals the face of a boy in his early teen years, with dark brown hair, and, after a bit of posture-straightening, rolling his shoulders, /not/ a hunch. "I'm Toshi-"

Whatever introductions were about to happen are cut off as, quick as a blink, nearly half the population of the square suddenly whirls to face the group from all side, tossing off beggar's clothes, women's kiminos, and other disguises, drawing swords, knives, and even a few butcher's cleavers as shouts ring out.



Shemri sighs. "Ah. Aha. Babysitting. Well, perhaps the one we are guarding shall be accosted by some of the vermin here. That would give us a good reason to—" Shemri pauses as the newcomer comes up and speaks to them. Hmmm, this must be the client, or the protectee, or maybe both. And then…it looks like Shemri's wish is about to be granted, en masse. c.C; Shemri draws a pair of kunai and settles into a fighting crouch. "I do not know what is going on, but already this mission feels much more interesting." >)

Kara glances over vaguely when 'Toshi-' begins to introduce himself. She had wondered if the one they'd be protecting would be cute at all. Time to find out! But before she can get a proper look at him, a bunch of 'goombas' start 'coming out of the woodworks' to quote The Godfather. "Oh, dear. I'll have to give you a proper inspection later, young man. For now…" She then twitches her hands and starts attempting to use her Chakra Strings to yank signs down from their posts. She is essentially trying to dump electrified lights, and pieces of buildings, and flower pots, and who knows what else on the (hopefully) unprepared mooks below. She trusts that her team mates will be skilled enough to not be caught in the sudden downpour of masonry, advertising tools, those buckets that people use to go to the bathroom in when they don't have toilets like civilized individuals might, and all sorts of other things. Anything that can be used as a weapon or distraction is being used as such.
Once Kara feels she has done enough damage, she'll make Pharaoh hop on her back and cling there, and get ready to 'move it, move it' out of there!

Ruri steps forward when the man mentions meeting four women. "That's us. My sister is over ther—" But then 'Toshi' (whose fullname might well be 'T-oh-shit' based on everyone's reactions to him) removes his diguise before she can stop him. And everything goes nuts. "#@$!ing #@$!," she lets out. Then she grabs their client and tries to pull him down the street, right through the middle of the sudden chaos, hoping that Kara's distractions will keep the bad guys off-balance enough to duck down an alleyway with this guy and lose their pursuers somehow. Of course, Ruri isn't all that strong, so it's not like she can actually haul the guy away. And if he insists on taking his cart with him, that will slow them down significantly.

"Tch, get out of our way, we've no quarrel with you." It's no ruffian that speaks and steps forth, but rather a young girl, also in her early teen years, blonde of hair, and wearing a kimono that was far too finely made for this section of the city. She was also wearing one of the most positively derisive and irritable expressions ever seen on anyone.

"Haven't seen you in a while, I figured you'd given up." Toshi-whatever appeared remarkably calm, considering half the market seemed intent on killing him. Maybe it was because he had four new bodyguards to hide behind. "Don't you usually direct your men from your mansion?"

"They haven't been working out, so I've decided to get back to the basics of doing things myself. Just hand him ov-"

It's right about then that the world starts to fall down around their ears, cutting off the Mysterious Girl in mid-sentence. The goons, ronin, and everyone else with a weapons is suddenly scrambling for cover, a few of them charging forward to be met by Shemri or Rinako, likely falling easy prey to the trained kunoichi duo, and a dangerous cat. In the distraction, Ruri manages to capitalize on the distraction and grab the boy, but, naturally, he /does/ insist on bringing the cart along, going so far as to take a swing at anyone that tries to separate him from it. It's bulky, it's squeaky, and the wheels are a little rusty, meaning it's slow, and blocks passage through narrow area. Still, Toshi-whatever keeps a deathgrip on the thing's handles, pushing it as fast as he can go, with Ruri leading, Shemri, Kara, and Rinako guarding their exit, running full-tilt down a side street.

Back in the square, the girl, studiously shielded from the falling debris by a pair of men much more skilled than the general masses, makes a displeased frown, pointing one way. A troop of men head off that way, even as she leads another group in yet another direction, leaving the unorganized mob to directly pursue their target.

Down the street aways, Rinako tips over a few vendor carts, much to their owner's chagrin, to trip up and slow down their pursuers. "WHAT THE HELL DID YOU DO TO PEOPLE, KID!?"

Shemri purses her lips and raises an eyebrow when the girl shows up. Somehow, this doesn't seem like quite the serious matter it did a moment ago. This better not be some silly rich girl using her influence to entrap the boy she has a crush on. >P Might still be something more urgent, but for the time being, Shemri makes a point to only use her kunai for blocking. She certainly doesn't mind giving the goons a good crack on the jaw with her fist, though. Serves 'em right for working for a selfish brat like that. "Perhaps one of us should go after the girl," Shemri remarks, tossing one goon into another. "It could be easier than dealing with all of these until they are exhausted."

Kara finishes dismantling the entire street and then runs with the others after Ruri and their client and his… Cart? Must be something really important in there. Kara also seems to recall the girl saying, 'Hand him over' to the young man. Meaning there's probably a >person< in that cart. Or the means to finding said person. Or maybe it's a favored pet? Who knows! There will be plenty of time to ask questions later, when they aren't being pursued by a bunch of crazy people with weapons and such.
"They didn't follow us directly. They probably know the streets better than us, and plan to cut us off!" Kara calls ahead to Ruri and Rinako, leaving Shemri and her cat to watch their rears. Kara is a smart cookie, see. Thus, she tries to plan ahead and out-guess the enemy. She might seem silly sometimes, but after that mission she was on for two years… Well, if she hadn't learned from it, she wouldn't have survived it.
"So while the idea of capturing the girl has merit, we need a more immediate solution to the pursuit problem! Ruri-chan! Can you block off this sidestreet with your walls? I've seen you do it before, back at the excavation! I have a plan!" If Ruri can do as requested, Kara will use the time bought by the maneuver of putting a twelve-foot high wall on each end of the alleyway to turn to Rinako.
"Rinako-chan! Please take the cartcarefully!to the roof of the nearest building. Shemri-san, if you think you can manage some Wall Walking with a burden, please carry our client up there too. Ruri-chan, you can join them! Help out with the cart if necessary! And take Neko-san up there too!" she points repeatedly at Shemri's cat. No way of knowing if cats can Wall Walk or not.
"Pharaoh-kun and I will do our very best to make sure that the ambushers eventually capture the ambushee." She takes a quick look at the young man, then… "Henge no Jutsu!" *POOF* There are now two identical teenage boys standing there. Pharaoh has turned into an identical cart too. "Sound good, everyone? Ruri-chan, you're the leader. Final word is up to you!" Kara says in the same voice as their client.

Ruri blinks. Maybe if she'd noticed what was going on behind them she could have come up with a similar plan. But honestly, how quickly Kara came up with this in a stressful situation speaks volumes for the dark-skinned woman's experience level in comparison to Ruri's own. "…Sounds good to me." She has already touched two Flesh Scroll tattoos and activated them. They glow blue and then… "Stored Wall x2!" Two very heavy brick walls land on either side of the alleyway, blocking the exits. A foolish tactic to the inexperienced who would imagine there's nowhere for them to go now, but that's why they're inexperienced and the team is going to get away.
"C'mere, Tora," Ruri says to the cat, bending down and trying to scoop him up. If he can Wall Walk on his own, then so much the better. If not, then it will be faster to just run up the wall with him and get to the roof. "Once we're up there, travelling along the roof will only get us so far, so fast, before they notice. And with a cart, it will be harder than usual. Best to just Henge Toshi-whatever-san into someone else, along with his cart, and then drop down the other side!" She then tries to leap up the wall with whoever or whatever she has to carry. Unless this whole plan isn't going to work.

"There was a girl? I was too busy trying not to get knifed in the chest to notice which were women!" Rinako, the ever-observant kunoichi, grabs onto the cart from behind, helping to push it's bulk along down the road. They come to a brief stop as their pursuers seem to be lost, for the moment, at least, with no sign of the brigands behind them.

"This? Up… /there/!?" Rinako points up at the roof. "That's impossible! This thing is all metal, it weighs like a ton! It'll probably collapse the wall if we try to walk up it!" Despite her protests, the dark-haired kunoichi is eyeing the cart closely, as well as the wall, then back at the cart, her brow twitching.

Toshi-something stands around, wringing his hands nervously, trying not to look too startled at the sudden appearance of walls boxing them in. After he dances from foot-to-foot for a moment, he merely nods his head dumbly at the plan that's come up with, watching as Rinako begins to slowly crawl up the wall, trying to pull the cart up after her. It does not look easy, nor fun, wheeling the cart up vertically, grunting and pulling, cracks appearing in the wall as she makes slow progress.

"Careful with the cart! It was in my family for genera- AHHHH, PAPA!"

Out of the cart, from under the tarp, a limp figure rolls towards the ground, Toshi-whatever trying to catch it in his arms, mostly managing to get himself knocked to the ground. On top of him is sprawled a thin, frail man, with a few strands of wispy white hair clinging stubbornly to the top of his head, clad in a filthy brown kimono and swearing to high heaven. When he lifts his head and smiles, he's missing all but three of his teeth, one on the top, two on the bottom, looking dazed and confused about what was going on even as he blearily waves a beer bottle around.

"/Tell/ me this thing's soul purpose isn't to be that guy's chariot!" Rinako, meanwhile, is just managing to lug the cart up over the leading edge of the roof, collapsing down onto her bottom with some heavy breathing afterwards. "Whew!"

Getting up, picking up his apparent father, Toshi-something looks up at the roof Rinako had just disappeared over. "How… do /we/ get up there?"

Shemri knees one of the few goons still following directly behind in the gut and shoves him at the legs of those behind him. They stumble and fall, and Shemri dashes to rejoin her companions in the alleyway, getting in just in time. Shiikaa meows his thanks to Ruri and hops up onto the wall's face, showing that he is indeed perfectly capable of scaling it on his own. Shemri frowns down at the besotted old man that spilled from the cart. "Ah. Aha. So this is the one we are truly baby-sitting. I wonder if saving him is truly worth what you are paying us." -.-; Shemri bends down and hefts the old man over her shoulder in a fireman's carry, then scoops Toshi over the other shoulder. "You get up like this," Shemri grunts, carrying them up the wall with plodding steps. >.<;

Kara/Toshiwhatever is a bit surprised by the old man falling out. Only not really. She knew there was probably someone in there, but she was thinking more along the lines of an infant or a dog or something. "Papa!" she/he tries out in Toshi's voice. Then, nodding, Kara-in-disguise runs right up one of Ruri's un-sealed walls with her 'cart'. Leaping down onto the street on the other side, Toshi-Kara makes a lot of noise and cries out, "It's alright! We're safe now, Papa! Even if those lousy ninja have abandoned us, I'll protect you!" Then Toshi-Kara takes off down the street in plain view. As clever as this plan may have been, she never actually said how they were supposed to get out of the city, or where she would meet everyone later or anything.
Well, she can't be expected to think of everything! Besides, Ruri's the real leader of this team. She should do some actual work for once. Lazy-face!

Ruri reacts quickly to try to help catch the old man. He looks pretty frail. A fall — even broken by his son — probably won't do him much good. "You're going to need to explain this situation to us at some point," she mutters as she also helps Toshi and his father up. Once Shemri has them, however, she shrugs and lets the older kunoichi handle it. SHIIKAA and NOT 'TORA' is allowed to go up the wall on his own. Instead, Ruri just runs up the side of the building and makes sure everyone arrives safely. "Wait, Kara-san, where are you goi" but it's too late. She's gone.
"Tch. Alright, alright. Let's get out of here QUIETLY. There's obviously more going on here than is obvious, and if we're to plan in advance I want to know exactly what we're up against. Does that girl have ninja of her own, or are they just thugs with some training? She has a lot of money, clearly. Maybe enough that if we worked for her instead of you we'd get paid more. So I want to know WHY she's after you and your… 'Papa'. We're not going to abandon you two for money, but I'm also not going to throw anyone's life into the meatgrinder without a good reason."
She also looks around, and says, "One more thing… Do we need this cart out right now? If not I can store it and you can have it back when we're all safe. Lugging it around may be easy for my sister because she is strong like a boulder, but she is also about as smart as one. Fighting with a cart in one hand is going to leave her a bit handicapped." She doesn't just stand around while talking, either, and instead edges towards the side of the roof, crouched down, to see what the situation is like down below.

"My father's worth is not for you to judge." Pushing his glasses up his nose irritably, Toshi cuts a look at Shemri that was almost neutrally insulting. "Matters of family cannot be handled with logic or cold impartiality. W-What are you doing!?" He may be just a boy, but he's still not used to having women man-handle him! 'Papa', for his part, manages not to cause a fuss, a small 'wheeeeee' on the way up escaping his lips, though Shemri might now have the stink of that old guy on her until she changes clothes.

Kara-cum-Toshi, however, soon finds a world of problems all of her own. Two seperate groups of angry men converge around a corner, catching sight of the fleeing kunoichi and her fake-cart-corpse-mummy, though one of the groups was much better dressed, armed, and organized than the other. Regardless, the leaders of both points, shouts, and soon enough, two-dozen armed men are on the Kara's heels, hurling bricks, apricots, a few spicy meatballs, whatever happened to be on vending carts that they passed, at her.

Back on the roof, the group edges towards the other side of the roof, preparing to drop down to that side of the road, Toshi placing his father gently back in the cart, not bothering to cover him back up with the tarp this time. After all, those who were after them already knew what was in it.

"You'll have to pardon my sister," Rinako comments as she pushes the cart across the roof. "Stress causes her mouth to get too big for her britches."

"Er… It's no problem. The cart is just the easiest way for me to move my old man around. Carrying him in the open exposes him to danger." Walking next to the cart, with a hand on it as if assuring himself it was still there, he continues. "That girl, she's got a lot of money as you say. If we can just get out of the city, we should be beyond her reach. If an explanation will help, then my name is Toshi-"


With a loud creaking sound, followed by a thunderous crash, the roof beneath the cart gives way, crashing Rinako, the cart, 'Papa', and Toshi-something through the roof in a cloud of dust and debris. There's a long moment of silence, aside from the patrons of the restaurant they'd just fallen into screaming, before Rinako and Toshi rush out of the front door, pushing the cart with the old man in it, one wheel wobbly, only to skid to a stop.

For right there, another few dozen men stood, along with Mystery Girl.

"You gotta be kidding me." Rinako positions herself between their clients and the crowd.

"There's no where in this city you can go without me knowing. I'll ask you one more time politely: hand the old man over."

Toshi, meanwhile, with Rinako between him and the swordsmen, backs up, with the cart, towards the restaurant wall. "Don't you think it's a bit hypocritical that you want to avenge your father by killing mine?"

Mystery Girl's jaw drops. "WHAAAAAT!?" She recovers her composure after a moment. "I have no direct grudge against you… but I'd feel sorry if you lost your father. I'll just have you all killed!"

With that signal, the men begin rushing forward, swords raised. Unlike the other disorganized rabbles, these were professional guards, who knew how to fight.

Sigh…Shemri was so looking forward to that explanation -.-; And on top of that, somebody's going to want reparations for that collapsed roof. Might even get a few people sending bills for the stuff Kara pulled down earlier. But will anybody complain about the thugs hurling random stuff? Probably not, they'd be too scared. It's tough being the good guys.
Shemri rejoins her compatriots in front of the restaurant. The exchange between the boy and the girl only serves to heighten the desire to know what's going on, without really explaining anything. >.<; But, looks like now's not the time to ask questions. Shemri moves to intercept one of the guards, halting his blade with her kunai. "I shall not hold back against your kind," Shemri warns through gritted teeth. "If you are intent upon killing, you shall earn a murderer's reward!" Shemri's sash reaches into her pouch and wraps around the handle of a kunai, then whips around to stab at the guard's side. Meanwhile, Shiikaa unleashes one of his roars at another guard from the sidelines.

While Kara's initial plan may have been spur of the moment, and seemingly clever, she is also not stubborn or dumb enough to stick to a plan that is clearly not working. And she doesn't see that girl anywhere among those throwing stuff at her. 'Either the girl hasn't gotten here yet… Or…' She sighs as the armed men come at her, and doesn't even bother to fight them. That's not her purpose here. Distraction, yes. Beating people up isn't part of being a distraction necessarily, and would reveal quite quickly that she's not really Toshi-whatever. Thus, she releases her Henge, leaping into the air and flipping around with Pharaoh clinging to her back. The cloud of smoke left behind might confuse people for a little bit, but probably not for more than a few seconds.
She then lands on a rooftop, rather smeared with various things that people have thrown, and begins leaping from unstable building to unstable building until she has returned to where she started. Or nearby, at least. Because she doesn't know where anything is in this stupid town. The sound of a loud crash draws her attention, though. Kara begins heading in that direction but won't arrive for a little bit.

Ruri stumbles when part of the roof caves in. "Who would build such a stupidly unstable building!?" she cries out, before managing to stick to what remains of the roof with Chakra. When the girl appears down below, guards in tow, she frowns. "Okay, then. Maybe we can talk this out, since she seems to be fairly influential—" But when the order to kill is given, and her own sister is right on the front lines, Ruri reacts almost immediately. Waiting for Shiikaa to unleash his Meow of Doom attack and creates chaos in the ranks, Ruri then Flickers out of sight and hopefully reappears right behind the blonde girl. Assuming she doesn't move suddenly or detect Ruri with super leet Little Girl Perception no Jutsu. If she succeeds then Ruri attempts to grab one of the girl's arms, plant her foot on the girl's back, and PUSH with her foot, while PULLING with her hand. And her freehand has a kunai in it, which would barely be touching the back of the girl's neck. "EVERYONE FREEZE OR BLONDIE GETS IT!"
Needless to say, this could potentially be quite painful for the leader of this crew of misanthropes.

As bystanders scramble to get out of the way, and other scramble to find a good place to watch from, Shemri engages one of the hired ronin thugs. Blocking his blade quite neatly, her addition of a second weapon catches him by surprise, sinking deeply into soft flesh. He stumbles back, clutching at his newly-bleeding wound. With this many opponents, however, she's immediately engaged again, this time by a male using a pair of twin katanas, swinging first one, then the other. They were a bit too big to be used one-handed, so he was attempting to make up for lack of grace and manueverability with raw hitting power.

Shiikaa, meanwhile, manages to scare one of the men, stopping in his tracks, viewing the roaring feline, before dropping his sword and running, apparently deciding that whatever he was being paid wasn't worth this.

Kara's sudden transformation from Toshi to Not-Toshi leaves the men bewildered as she begins leaping overhead, bounding from building-to-building, and then rooftop-to-rooftop. "ONE OF THE NINJA! WE WAS TRICKED!"

"We? YOU were tricked, you moron!"

"Then what does that make you!?"
Even as Kara escapes that group, the two sides that comprised the armed men begin to fight amongst each other. That's one way to handle them!

Ruri's kunai to Blonde 7 trick manages to go off without hitch, grabbing onto the small-framed teenager. She gives an 'eep' of surprise, then begins to move away, only to find herself held fast. The men fighting stop to turn and stare at the commotion behind them. For a moment, silence reigns on teh battlefield as they view their boss held hostage, weighing their options.

Shemri draws an extra kunai to match the swordsman's twin blades. They clang together jarringly, scraping and sparking. Shemri's sash swings its kunai around again, but the guard swats it away. "Even three of your little blades can't match up to my swords!" he taunts. Shemri smirks. "What about four?" The guard looks confused, then yelps as a sharp set of teeth sinks into his calf. Shemri's leg shoots up and connects with the guard's jaw. "Do not place such importance on size!"
Then everything comes to a pause. Shemri stands with her kicking leg lifted like a crane, waiting to see what will happen. "Ah. Aha. Shall we finally get some answers now?"

Kara tries to make herself a bit more presentable as she travels. Knocking off bits of food or whatever else was thrown at her, she is not exactly thrilled with the inability to stop and take a shower. But her friends and team mates are in danger, so she just picks up the pace and… Boom! She arrives! "Who broke that building?" is her first question, as she drops down into the street. Damn good thing she has those bandages wrapped tight about her chest. Even with them, all that leaping around is at least moderately uncomfortable.
Observing the situation with a quick gaze about the area, Kara realizes she was correct in coming back. She had doubts. She's not an omniscient twink after all, and couldn't be sure that the real threat was still nearby her allies. "Hm. Ruri-chan has the leader. We have the client and the cargo. It would seem that the only thing we do >not< have is a couple dozen miles between us and this city." Stretching her arms over her head and arching her back languidly, the dark-skinned woman says between stretching noises, "Nnn, do we even need to know what this is about right now? I mean, it would certainly, mmf, prove enlightening, but gaining some distance might be more to our immediate benefit." She then sighs and lowers her arms. "Then again, it might be totally unnecessary to escape if we know what's going on. And I don't feel like being chased all the way back to Sunagakure." She thrusts both arms forward and Pharaoh detaches from his perch on her back and leaps through the air as though being pulled by invisible strings. Which he is. He then lands in front of Kara and the withered corpse in a pharaoh's regalia trots towards the blonde girl. Possibly Kara plans to secure the target further.

Ruri doesn't let blondie go anywhere when she tries to pull away. Ruri's reply to Shemri is, "Answers, smanswers." Then she clarifies, "Feel free to explain what this is about, missy. But first, you are going to call off your various goons. If you don't, then we're leaving and taking you with us, and I can't promise you'll be in very good condition when that happens. Maybe this is all a simple misunderstanding. Maybe there's a perfectly logical explanation for all of this. But you ordered the death of my SISTER and my FRIENDS, and that is not 'okay'." Then she pauses. "Oh, and I guess our client and his dad were threatened too, but we were already going to protect them. ANYWAY. Goons. Off. Now. Then we can talk."

As the fighting comes to a swift close, Rinako releases the pair of swords she was holding in her hands by the blades, preventing them from sinking into her vulnerable torso. Silence reigns in the square, not even the few gathered crowds-people bothering to break the tension, almost like some kind of mexican standoff, but with swords. The only sound was the creaking of wheels.

"Tch… Fine." The blonde-haired girl quits struggling, though her expression was no less irritable. She casually lifts a hand to point off to the side, though. "…But you're being abandoned."

Following her finger would indeed reveal Toshi-something pushing his heavy cart away, running full tilt away from the group with his drunken father leering out over the edge at the people on the street. "I got him, I got him!" Rinako takes off in pursuit of the cart, shouldering aside one of the swordsmen-for-hire that was in her way. Diving for the boy's legs, she manages to tackle him to the groud before he gets too far, forcing him to let go of the cart… which continues to roll on unaided. "Just /great/!"

Before she can get to her feet, the cart bumps to a stop, being stopped by an oddly-dressed man's wooden clogged foot. The man was swathed in layers of robes, with a cowl, no less, colorfully painted in dazzling swirls of green, yellow, and red, with a wide-brimmed, low hat that covered his eyes. When Rinako takes a step towards him the male figure grabs the old man in the cart, pulling out a gun and putting it to his head. "Now, now, make a move and he /gets it/, hahee!"

"Hmph." The dark-haired kunoichi crouches down, giving a glance back at the others of her group and the paralyzed swordsmen, ensuring she still had backup. "Do it and it'll be the last move you make!"

"In that case…" The gun shifts aim, pointing from 'Papa' to Rinako. "I should kill you first, right?"

Rinako's brow twitches. "I… did not see that coming."

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING, YOU IDIOT!? I'm still a hostage!" Apparently this was not the blonde-haired girl's plan. At least, not while she had a knife waiting to gut her!

"You already paid me~, dear girl. It'd be a shame to leave my job unfinished." The wide-brimmed hat lifts just enough to make eye-contact with Rinako, then the trigger is squeezed. *CLICK* …Nothing happens. The kunoichi's arms drop from their fighting positions down limply at her sides as she gives the male a blank look. The blonde, meanwhile, asides to her captive, the younger Rurohashi sister, provided her throat isn't slashed by now. "Can I pay you to kill him?" She's pointing at the male with the unloaded gun.

Toshi-whatever, meanwhile, has gotten to his feet, grabbing Rinako's shoulder and shaking her roughly. "What are you doing!? Get my father ba-HRK!" The dark-haired kunoichi grabs the boy by the throat, staring blankly into his eyes just a moment before hurling him against the side of a nearby building. His head impacts the brick wall with a *CRACK* as he slumps to the ground. "Yes, now don't let them hurt me, hahee!" Rinako looks back towards her team, interspersed with the throngs of swordsmen, still unsure of what to do, as the robed male pulls out a small knife and reaches for the old man again.

"Don't worry, I'll protect you from them, Imouto-chan."

Oh no! Far from getting answers, they've got /another/ mystery thrown into the mix! >.<; Shemri puts her foot down and watches things play out between Rinako and the new weirdo. When it gets to the part with Rinako tossing the client against the wall, Shemri blinks. "O-oi, I am frustrated by his dealings with us too, but we cannot" Shiikaa gives a trilling meow, and Shemri peers more closely at Rinako. "…Ah. Aha. You are right. Something is wrong with Rinako-san." Shemri looks around. So, the spoiled rich girl is showing signs of not being entirely an enemy anymore, and the Technicolor Terror seems to be a foe to them all…but right now he has control of Rinako, who would probably stop any moves against him Shemri might try…but there are more of them than there are of Rinako and the bad guy, especially if the girl's goons join in to take him down…but then again they might stab the ninja in the back instead, and…AAAAARGH! >.<; Too many possibilities make Shemri's head hurt! So she just does what she's best with. Shemri makes a dash at Rinako, andleaps overhead to pounce at the cowled stranger! Meanwhile, Shiikaa, who fell in behind Shemri during her run, attempts to freeze Rinako in place momentarily with one of his roars.

Kara calls Pharaoh to a halt with a gesture when it is pointed out that the client is running off. She doesn't move to catch him, however, due to Rinako saying she has it covered. Her means of stopping Toshi-whatever are a bit crude, but they work at lea—Oh, except for 'papa'. "Nngh." Kara nnghs. When the oddly dressed man pops up out of nowhere and seizes the cart, Kara frowns a bit. Guns are very rare here. They're a relatively new and untested technology. While they may temporarily make a single person capable of killing from a distance, a ninja can do the same thing from twice or thrice the distance, and with a great deal more accuracy. Further, they don't lose their ability to do damage after one shot. Still, a gun is a gun. And she doesn't think she can stop the stranger from firing at point-blank range.
However, she >does< plan for the necessity of doing such. She gestures with one hand. Nothing seems to happen. When Rinako is 'shot' before anyone can react, she tenses, eyes widening. But all that happens is Rinako's odd behavior. She isn't sure what's going on until Rinako throws the client and says what she says. 2 + 2 = 4. The gun fires and all that happens is Rinako starts acting weird? Then what if the purpose of the gun wasn't to kill, despite the man's claims to the contrary? What if it was an artificial Jutsu holder? Like…
Kara's eyes narrow. 'Like that medallion from the other mission… The one my father and his colleagues uncovered… Argh! Why does everything come back to my father!? Stupid daddy issues…' She gestures with her left hand and Pharaoh hunches over, starting to move slowly forward. Not quite as smoothly as he would if Kara were using both hands, but he still is able to ratchet open his jaw slowly, in preparation for some terrible attack!
Kara has no intention of attacking with Pharaoh. But she was hoping that Furutsu Ruupsu-san would think so. Her careful planning and psychological warfare is ruined, however, when Shemri decides to dash in and attack the guy. While he's still holding a mind control gun. What if he just shoots Shemri while she's flying through the air? Then he'll have >two< mind slaves!
Fortunately, Kara thought ahead. When Shemri launches herself at the Rainbow Ranger, Kara pulls her right hand backwards, striking while the bad guy is hopefully distracted. And that's when her Chakra Strings she planted, invisible to normal eyes and thus hopefully undetected, attempt to yank the Jutsu Gun right out of Captain Crunch Berry's grasp. She's not pulling with her muscles, but with her Chakra control. And her Chakra control is pretty darn good.

Ruri doesn't let her eyes leave her hostage for a second. She remains keenly aware of her environment through the rest of her senses, but she's mostly focused on keeping this leader from escaping. "Yeah, my sister is on that." she replies to the blonde girl's words. The commotion that results and the sudden arrival of a new player on the field causes her to lower her foot from the girl's back, and instead pull her closer so she can press the kunai directly against her throat. Then she turns in that position, so she can see what's going on. "Hmph. A gun? I'm pretty sure my sister can handle that." She expected Rinako to just toss up a Chakra Shell and block the dumb metallic ball. But something else happens. Ruri peers at the man in the colorful clothing.
"What the hell did you just do?" she demands. When Rinako starts acting like the jerk is Ruri herself, Ruri is first struck by understanding, then anger. And finally… Fear. '…Uhh. Nee-chan isn't suppressing that Other on account of being mind-controlled then…' She is very unhappy about the conclusion she has come to. She'll just have to hope that Rinako doesn't need to be CONSCIOUSLY controlling herself to ward the monster off. When Shemri launches right at the badguy, Ruri just about facepalms. But her hands are a bit occupied right now, so she just grits her teeth and watches.
If she were stronger she'd try throwing her hostage at the gun-carrying psycho. But she has doubts about even carrying blondie, let alone throwing her. Looks like she just has to watch, wait, and trust in her teammates.

The gun is torn from the man's hand quite easily, he wasn't even holding on tightly! He also had somewhat effeminate hands that didn't look as if they were very strong. When Kara gets the gun, it'd look just like any other muzzle-loading weapon of it's type, snub-nosed, horribly inaccurate, and not all that great of a weapon, yet perfect for the untrained civilian. Not only is it unloaded, but there isn't even any flint in the primer to set off a bullet!

Shemri manages to leap over Rinako, who never had the best reflexes to begin with, relying more on brute force than anything else for combat. She manages to land on the other side of the kunoichi, but the male, as if he had a supernatural awareness of his surroundings, skitters backwards, his swath of robes fluttering about his skinny legs as he does so, releasing the 'Papa' and holding the knife feebly as if preparing to defend himself. He didn't look like he could do much, beyond having almost precognitive reflexes.

The wildcat's roar manages to get Rinako's attention, but as her chakra flares up, protecting her from outside influences, it manages to keep her from being paralyzed by the ear-shattering sound. With a slight growl, the elder of the twins turns, grabbing the edge of the cart, her muscles bunching as her skin takes on a light blue tint, a dark, hazy form of chakra appearing around her body. The cart, old man and all, is heaved up and around, /hurled/ at Shiikaa, Rinako then turning and stalking towards the quicker, older kunoichi.


"So… you should probably go help." Blondie, still back beneath Ruri's watchful eye, motions with her chin towards the ruckus being kicked up in the street. The swordsmen, meanwhile, were doing their best to ignore the Shemri-Rinako-Kara debacle, and slowly repositioning themselves, edging this way and that, closer to the younger sibling and her hostage.

Shiikaa's eyes go wide. Incoming mega-projectile, twelve-o'clock. ^o.o^; Fortunately a cart is a very awkwardly shaped obect and Shiikaa is low to the ground. He moves aside a foot or so and crouches, and the cart bounces over his head. Too bad he's not big enough to have done anything for the cart's occupant. ^c.c^;
Shemri lands and takes a moment to regain her balance after the missed swipe at the Multichromatic Mystery Man. Oh good, the gun's gone. >) That should make things easie—huh? Shemri turns her head to look at Rinako. Oh…well, this is…good, sorta? At least Rinako's attention is on Shemri, so maybe Kara can do something with the Prismatic Poncho (gosh, maybe we should come up with a name for him and stick with it?). Then again, he doesn't seem like much of a threat without his genjutsu gun or whatever it is, so maybe it would've been better for Kara to handle Rinako. Well, life doesn't always work out the way you'd like best, especially in the ninja business. "I have no intention of hurting your sister," Shemri says, backing away carefully. "I was just going to…give her a hug?" n.n;

Kara isn't sure exactly how the gun works. Does it need Chakra to function? Mental focus of some kind? A hidden mechanism? Well, the Genjutsu doesn't seem to have stopped with the gun in her hand. What if the gun wasn't part of it at all? She frowns, but just says, "Catch, Pharaoh-kun!" And then she tosses the gun to Pharaoh, who catches it one-handed, without even looking. Pharaoh then dashes in and cracks open his mouth again as a needle cannon drops out of the roof of his mouth and begins firing a stream of poisonous senbon at The Peacock. "Pharaoh-1: Needle Cannon!" Kara calls out. Then she tugs with her Chakra Strings and Pharaoh lifts his hand and 'fires' the gun in his emaciated grasp right at… Rinako!? Well, if she's already affected, best way to see if this gun even does anything is to use it on Rinako, instead of messing around with trying to ensorcel someone else.
Kara shouts out, "Stop, Rinako-chan! It's a Genjutsu! The real bad guy is the one dressed like two Gayajin performed the Fusion Dance and turned into Super Fruitgetto!" Pause. "…Just like in Super Ninja Z, the new manga by Masamune Akira, the young author and artist whose father wrote and drew such classics as 'Admiral Moon' and 'Yuri in the Shell'!"

Ruri is very unhappy about this situation, but she takes the blonde girl's advice into consideration. "Oh. Yes. Perhaps so. But just incase you decide to backstab us when I go to help…" She then spins the girl around in a circle after removing the kunai from her throat. She could probably just kill her. There's no reason not to, other than the remote possibility she's innocent of wrong-doing. But if Ruri kills the leader of these goons, there's the distinct likelihood that all these goons will try to kill HER. So instead she just runs her fingers along her left arm while the girl is still spinning around and probably coming to a stop gradually (though perhaps dizzy). Four Flesh Scroll tattoos glow blue and then four brick walls appear in the air and fall down around the blonde girl with loud *BOOMBOOMBOOMBOOM*s. She would have put a fifth over the top to make a roof, but she just used up all of her Stored Walls. Walls that aren't in use are hard to come by, okay!?
Then Ruri turns towards the commotion, and leaps in the path of the cart with the old man in it. She might WANT to help her sister and Shemri and Kara, but she is trusting the two self-aware members of the team to deal with everything else right now, while she keeps the mission objective in mind. "Stored Shield!" she calls out as a large training mat like one might find in a dojo poofs into existence in front of her, trying to absorb some of the impact of the throw from the juiced-up Rinako.

Rinako, in the grip of genjutsu-inspired rage, stops short for but a moment at Shemri's comment, her eyes narrowing. With a snarl, she continues advancing on the older woman, her fists balled up with murder in her eyes. "I don't let men touch my little sister."

When the gun is pointed and fired at Rinako, there's the hollow *CLICK* sound again… and nothing more. It appears either the gun wasn't meant to undo whatever was done, it was a single-use item, or it was, in fact, just a not-very-well-made pistol after all.

Pharoah's attack is reacted to instantly, the multi-colored robed male screeching in terror as he dives out of the way. That many needles, though, despite him seemingly having advanced warning, prove inescapable, three of them burying themsleves in the meat of his calf as he dives out of the way, pedestrians scattering as the jutsu begins to fly, deciding that this show wasn't worth watching, after all. Whatever poison was in those needles was now in the man's blood.

Rearing back her fist to try and smite Shemri's face into a fine red paste, she's distracted by her 'sister's' scream, looking at the man briefly before lashing forward with her fist. With the hesitation, the attack is slow and a bit uncoordinated, the elder twin turning on her heel to run towards the man who had her under his spell and defend him from further fire.

"Ru! Ru! What's wrong!?"

The cart, meanwhile, hits the mat full-on, knocking it down, spilling the old man on top of it, the cart balanced precariously on it's end. Throughout this whole ordeal, 'Papa' had managed to hang onto that beer bottle throughout, taking a swig as the cart teeeeeeters, then falls, upside down, onto him, effectively trapping him beneath it. At least he was out of harm's way. From beneath, echoing in the metallic interior, a small, drunken 'heehee' can be heard.

Meanwhile, the swordsmen had gathered around Blondie's screams, trying to boost each other up to form a human ladder and rescue their employer from her prison.

Shemri blinks. Boy, this spell must really be doing a number on Rinako's senses. I mean, she couldn't possibly mistake Shemri for a man under ordinary circumstances, right? c.c Shemri has to hold that thought as Rinako winds up for a punch. Shemri ducks under the blow and rolls off to the side, prepared to flee from further assaults…but it looks like Rinako has other ideas. Hmmm. Well, at least that means the genin isn't facing the most dangerous person around anymore. Let's see, how to be useful…ah! Shemri pings a warning shuriken off the wall the guards are trying to climb. "Hoi! She shall keep well enough until this business is finished! If you wish to help your mistress, perhaps you should earn her our favor by assisting us with that one!" >/

Kara nods. She wasn't sure the gun actually did anything. Good way to find out. This enemy seemed to like misdirection. Well, it was time to use some misdirection of her own! …But Kara can't think of anything to misdirect with, so she settles for shooting some more. She has Pharaoh produce a nozzle from his throat. "Pharaoh-4: Plague of Blood!" Then a stream of bloody-looking oil sprays out of the nozzle twice, one blast heading for the poisoned Purple Pie Man (Strawberry Shortcake reference is GO!) and the other for the hypnotized Rinako. If the sprays hit, they will make the targets slippery, sticky, and probably unable to move very well. The stuff dries up eventually, but as long as the incapacitated victims aren't directly attacked, they would mostly be left to flounder in the gross, soupy, salty red stuff.
Why would attacking them make the Plague of Blood wear off? I dunno'. That's just how the combat system works. Go away kid, ya' bother me!

With the old man safe for the moment, Ruri turns her attention on Rinako. Her sister is reacting to that creepy jerk-face as though he were her. Though she fears a bit for the way that Rinako's skin has turned slightly blue, she is more angry and pained than afraid. Angry that this shithead has stolen away her own twin's concern and love, even if only temporarily, through trickery. Pained to see how much her sister cares about her, that she would give up a fight instantly just to see what's wrong when Ruri is injured. "I'm not letting this continue," she mutters.
As Kara sends out streams of sticky red stuff to entrap Rinako and ugly-clothes-dude, she taps her right arm twice. "Stored Physical." A metal hammer appears in the air. Ruri weighs the object reluctantly as it hovers there, using Chakra Saturation to control it. This she finally sends flying at Rinako's back, hoping that pain will work the same as self-inflicted injury to snap her out of it.
"Stored SHARP." A nasty looking serrated blade as long as Ruri's arm poofs into existence in front of her. It gleams menacingly for half a second, then Ruri sends it hurtling at the mind-controlling guy's throat, hoping that he will completely utter fucking die.
"No one messes with my sister," Ruri states simply and hatefully as she stays standing in her 'casting' position, feet together, one arm extended, the fingers of the other pressed to her forearm. "No one who wants to live."

The warning shuriken doesn't quite do it's job, at least not of making the men stop trying to scale the walls. It does, however, cause one of those nearest the top to jerk in reaction to the thowing implement coming so close to him, forcing the man at the top of the samurai-pyramid to wobble, wobble, and then pitch headlong into the pit made by the doorless new room in the middle of the street. A moment later there's a screeching cry from within.

"GET OFF OF ME, YOU IDIOT! Lift me up there!"

Kara's bloody mess sprays out, hitting both Rinako and the man squarely, especially as the male is still clutching his leg and fighting the burning pain of poison. It causes Rinako to slip, one of her feet going in one direction, the other slipping out from under her to go another, causing her to tumble to the ground, slipping and sliding the rest of the way to Not-Ruri. Even as the hammer strikes her square on the spine, causing Rinako to yelp in pain, glaring over her shoulder, reaching out to grab the robed man by the shoulder, tugging him closer.

It's right about this time that a knife out of nowhere passes through his throat, almost quicker than the elder twin can blink. It jabs into the male's throat, mixing real blood with the, hopefully, fake blood that Pharoah had shot at and covered them with. With a scream, Rinako manages to get to her knees, clutching the strange male's head to her, cradling him, turning to glare death at the real Ruri as her eyes start to…

…suddenly come into focus!

Rinako blinks twice, looks down at the man in her arms, then drops his bleeding, gasping form completely, looking around for a minute. "The hell?" She sniffs the goo covering one of her arms. "What /is/ this!?"

Meanwhile, Blondie's head pokes up from the other side of that wall, gripping at the top of it, trying to lift her leg up over the side so she can drop down to the men waiting to catch her. "Dammit, that's it, I'm staying in the mansion next time. …Why aren't they dead, yet!? What have you idiots been doing!?"

In Shemri's house, there is a very simple system for punishment. One warning, then if the bad behavior comes up again, there will be pain. So if darling Megumi-chan doesn't get any more slack than that, you can guess what these cold-blooded mercs get. >( Shemri blitzes in and gives the nearest pyramid-samurai a flying kick. The whole formation crumbles into a dog-pile, though unfortunately Shemri wasn't quick enough to prevent one of those guys from getting in over the top. Shemri tchs at the shouting from inside the structure. "Hoi, even though you clearly have no moral principles, surely she cannot be paying your enough for this?" e.e
Shiikaa stares with rapt attention as the situation with Rinako unfolds. ^o.o^ He can tell there's something very, very unusual going on, and it's not just the genjutsu. And when the Duke of Dyes…dies, it looks as though that something is about to go bang…but it goes pop instead. Phew, good thing the spell was broken with its user's death, Rinako probably would've qualified as a small natural disaster if she'd continued to believe her sister had just been killed. ^-.-^; Shiikaa turns his head as the little princess comes up out of the impromptu prison and starts yelling at her goons again. He gives her a sonic blast to shut her up. :P

Kara nods to herself. Not quite what she had planned, but thankfully Ruri took advantage of the situation. "Good to have you with us again, Rinako-chan!" She then dashes over, alongside Pharaoh to help Rinako up. She stops half-way, though, to help up their client. Hopefully he's not dead. Pharaoh climbs on top of the cart and sits there like some kind of extra-freakish gargoyle. Glaring. His head even turns to face anyone who comes near. And if they get >really< close, then they may get to see a flesh-eating beetle crawl out of an empty eye socket and start buzzing around looking for prey. Ugh.

Ruri ignores everyone else to hurry over to Rinako. Good thing Kara is taking care of the cart and client, because Ruri is mostly worried about her sister right now. "Nee-chan, that asstard with the blade through his throat used some kind of Genjutsu or illusion or something on you. You thought he was me," she explains as she tries to help her sister up, despite the red liquid. "I dunno' what it is, but you can have a shower later. Right now we need to get our crap together and get out of here. If the princess wants to negotiate, we can negotiate, but I'm perfectly fine with just getting our client and customer, getting out of town, and wasting anyone who gets in our way in the process. Also sorry about hitting you with a hammer. Was trying to break the Genjutsu."

The pyramid of ronin collapses as it's leg is taken out, the men coming down in a tumble. The girl at the top of the wall begins waving a fist about. "Kill her, already! It's just one- KYAH!" Even as the men spring to their feet around Shemri, drawing their swords once more, Blondie vanishes behind the wall, frightened back with a girlish squeal of dismay by the cat's display of the feline version of STFU. Her muffled voice comes from over the other side of the wall. "O… Okay, captain. You may tell them they can leave with their lives if the old man stays."

Rinako is helped to her feet slowly, a bit unsteadily considering the slippery goo. Their client, as well, is breathing, though when he awakens at the prodding and regains his feet, he complains of a nasty headache and a likely concussion. Also, with the glance he gives to Rinako, it's clear he probably won't be going within easy arm's reach of her again.

"Where's my father!?"

Being caught up to speed, more or less, Rinako scratches at her head, making a face as her hand comes away with more goop. "But we were… and then men came… You /hit/ me? With a /hammer/!?" Despite not being pleased about this fact, it did explain the sore in her back and, upon being directed towards where Toshi-something's father had vanished to, she makes her way to the overturned cart, beginning to heave it over right-side up again, the blue skin pigment slowly fading to be replaced by her usual pale flesh color.

The group of ruffians, meanwhile, seemed to be looking between Shemri, her cat, and the other women uneasily, then looking to their supposed leader. Locking eyes with the genin, he tilts his head down the street and points meaningfully away while putting a finger to his lips. Out loud he intones, "I'm sorry, Akai-sama, it seems they've slipped away using ninja magic!"

Naturally, this results in more irritated screeching from the girl behind the wall.

Shemri smirks slightly. Finally, one of these guys shows a shred of sense. Much as Shemri would like to stick around and knock some more heads togetherthese guys /did/ show some willingness to kill just for their salary, after allthe team's current condition and the priority of protecting their client suggest that taking the implied truce is the wisest course of action. Shemri goes over to the cart and lifts one end of it. Somebody drag the old man out plzkthx?

As Shemri and Rinako lift the cart, they may find it a bit… Heavy. Because Pharaoh is still crouched on top of it. Like some hideous undead vulture. Ugh. Kara gestures with both hands and Pharaoh slips off the cart quietly, aided by his relatively light weight. Then Kara bends over and pulls the old man out from under the cart, shushing him if he makes any noise, and winking at him coyly. It's just a game! A game that drunkards can play! A game of 'stay silent so we can get out of here'! Then Pharaoh climbs onto Kara's back and she leads the doddering old fool down the street in the direction that the captain of the goons indicated they should go. And >no< they are >not< bringing the creaky cart along!

Ruri looks apologetically towards Rinako for once. "Sorry. I didn't hit you with the hammer because I WANTED to. But we weren't snapping you out of it any other way, so I figured you'd rather take a hammer to the back than be that sicko's mind-slave forever." She turns to glare at the man, making sure he's dead. She considers putting another few blades in him just on principle, but when the captain guy indicates that they should leave, she just nods, bows to him, and leads their wobbly client down the way. She follows Kara and hopefully this is the last they see of this stupid, stupid city.
'So glad I stored our purchases in one of my Flesh Scroll tattoos,' she thinks to herself.

The men mill about the four walls one of their comrades and their irate leader are trapped behind, hoping against hope that they don't have to fight the people who can summon walls and make corpses walk, and also praying that the blonde-haired girl doesn't peek her head back out and see that she was lied to. They make no effort to stop the feminine quartet, their undead puppet, nor their two male charges, waiting until they're well and truly out of sight before attempting to retrieve their employer again.

Rinako spends the better part of the trip backing doing her best to make her sibling feel bad about hitting her, trying to milk as much sympathy leniency as she can get. It's a long way back to Sunagakure, especially with two men unable to travel at anywhere near ninja speeds in tow, but ultimately the elder twin is none the worse for wear, despite having a hole in her memory.

The old man doesn't put up a fuss, or even make much noise beyond cooing at the pretty damsel that saves him from under the cart. He does try to cop a feel any time one of the women gets too close, which is often, since he can't walk unaided and they're leaving the cart behind. He also stinks, no matter how often he's washed. This is do to the fact that the drunken wreck wears a diaper.


Along the way back, Shemri FINALLY gets her answers! The boy's name turns out to be Toshinahara Higashi, and the old man, his father, Bayashi. The girl after them was the daughter of a deceased, and allegedly corrupt, businessman Bayashi had killed nearly a decade prior. It turns out the old sod was not only senile, but was also quite the assassin back in his heyday, and the only inheritance he'd left his son was to defend him from the friends and family of his former victims. He has no idea who the man who had controlled Rinako was, but suspected he was some kind of 'sorcerer' hired by the blonde-haired girl and may have had strange powers or sight or some such, which would explain how they weren't fooled by the initial henge ruse.

Several uneventful days later, the group returns to their home in the desert, and are finally rid of the boy and his stanky old man, collecting their portion of the money, and their next assignment to boot!


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