Date: January 2, 2016
A late night summons drags tow Genin on a wayward adventure into the woods looking for a puppy. What they find however, is far too big to be a puppy… isn't it?
Poster's note: foul language filtered in obvious places.
"The little lost puppy?"
The Land of Fire
Midnight had come and gone before the messenger birds had been sent out to the houses of those needed for this emergency mission. A true emergency involving a missing child was one that called for the Inuzuka and so the birds went out and would call on Inuzuka Hige, Inuzuka Tsuna, and Inuzuka Hinori. An organized unit of search and rescue Inuzuka and canines were being summoned for this mission. The two Genin were going to be briefed by Hige at the gates of the village before setting out. The Daimyo's child was at stake so there was no time to lose!
At the gates, yawning with a tired look on his face and a cloak of shadows still clinging to him in the low light, was someone who smelled similar to Hige due to living circumstances, but looked nothing like the Jounin.. For one, he was taller, more dashingly scruffy, and his hair was lush and wild in its pony tail. Yes, this was the clearly better looking Nara… Shugo. And he couldn't even blink with his eyes at the same time from how tired he was tonight. In the Nara's hands was the scroll containing their urgent mission.. which was classified as a D-rank even though the alert was that of a missing child. Shugo himself hadn't even gone over the mission yet from the look of it…
Joining Shugo at the gate is teammate Tsuna and his partner Onyx. The Inuzuka boy looked a little tired and worse for wear, and his usual youthful exuberance isn't present just yet. It was just way too early..but when chosen for a mission one doesn't complain. He moves to stand in front of Shugo and lifts a hand. "Inuzuka Tsunayoshi reporting for duty…" The last part is lost in a yawn. Even Onyx isn't his usual energetic self. He barks a greeting to Shugo as well before yawning himself. Tsuna asks, "Why we gotta start this so early?"
The sleepy eyed Nara was wondering that same thing as he opened the scroll up and began reading over the intel inside. The aggravated groan and sound of annoyance that left the Nara told that it wasn't anything worth the seriousness or urgency that he was informed of.. Not in his opinion anyway. Then again, perhaps it was more important to the Inuzuka that was meant to be captaining this mission and not sending Shugo off to do it for him. "At 2100 hours the Daimyo's betrothed was travelling home from a shopping excursion when the sound of lightning in the distance startled her young child of one year and caused the child to flee from her carriage. The child is roughly five pounds, covered in snowy white fur, with a wet nose and blue eyes… This mission is ranked D but is intended to be dealt with in the timeliest manner possible." Shugo explained with an annoyed tone of voice… this is what his sleep was interrupted for.. "The 'child' responds to the name…. 'shnookums'…"
Tsuna holds up a hand towards Shugo after he describes the 'child' for him. "I hope I'm not stepping out of line here…but that sounds like a dog." He looks down at the sleepy pup. "How would you feel if I called you shnookums and referred to you as my child?" The pup gives Tsuna a deadpan expression and growls low in his throat while baring his teeth. Tsuna winces and silently goes to cover his crotch. "Jeez, Onyx, a simple no would have been good. I didn't need that image in my head." The boy sighs and looks up to who is probably team leader on this one. "Well, we might as well go get it over with, huh, Shugo-san?"
Shugo nodded with a slightly annoyed look on his face. "It is a dog… they disturbed my slumber, to look for the Daimyo's dog… And they've even forwarded the payment for it, which is closer to a B-rank than a D-rank's payment. We can't back out now that it's been issued." Shugo spelled out before rolling up the scroll and slipping it into his shirt somewhere for safe keeping. "Alright, Tsuna.. It looks like the others of the Inuzuka figured it was a silly job to do. Hige took one look at the scroll and told me I'd have to do it. Looks like they roped you into this too." The teen explained before turning and starting to head out from the village at a jogging pace. All of Hige's orders about morning jogs were coming in handy now. "She lost her puppy about twenty kilometers west of the village. We'll try to find a trail or scent from there."
Tsuna frowns slightly, but nods. "If Hige-sama requested it, I'll do it. After all, Onyx and I want to be part of search and rescue unit. It's a pet, but it's at least a start in my training." He starts walking in the direction. "Onyx and I will do our best to pick up a scent once we get there."
Shugo had done as Hige often did and taken to the trees while they moved toward the destination. That didn't stop him from looking around below and eying the ground. With a bit of snow on the ground foot prints were going to be easy to spot but also easy to lose amongst the other tracks made in the same white coating the ground below. That was why scent was important and why the nose of the Inuzuka was important for the mission. The Nara couldn't compete with the nose of a ninken or its partnered Inuzuka. "I guess you can take this mission as a bit of training instead of the real thing. If it's a puppy it probably won't have run far from where it got lost as. Let's try wrapping things up before the sun rises and we can't get back to sleep with a couple of fat wallets, eh?"
Tsuna is also jumping from tree to tree with Onyx held in one arm. "I think that's a great idea, Shugo-san. The odds of Onyx and I getting a scent go up because it's another pup. I'm sure we'll find it quickly." He increases his speed a little, wanting to get there and get it over with. That whole sleeping another few hours thing really appealed to him.
Shugo would nod as they closed in on the area. It didn't take long but soon enough the Nara was dropping from the trees and into the road below so he could walk the last few meters toward the tracks. There was a bend in the road and yet, nothing that Shugo could see.. In the distance, almost twenty meters down the road was a scent to be smelled that the Nara clearly couldn't notice. It was urine but it was special.. puppy spots in the snow that told the pup had actually jumped out further along than the scroll specified.. Then of course there was the fact that shnookums was seemingly a little boy, not a female as might be assumed by the name.
As soon as they drop into the area from the trees, Tsuna and Onyx go to work. Tsuna drops down to all fours and he and Onyx search the area thoroughly before he looks over at Shugo. "The puppy was here." Onyx then barks sharply from a few yards down. Tsuna nods. "Got it." He looks at Shugo. "The puppy was definitely here. I found a urine trail, and now that we have the scent we can try to find where he went."
Shugo nodded as he watched Tsuna and smiled a bit as he walked closer to where Onyx was at that barking. "You guys really are good at tracking. No wonder they tried picking three of you out for this mission. We'll be done in no time." The Nara complimented as he headed off toward the direction that Onyx was barking at so the puppy could lead the way toward the trail's end. And indeed the trail would end too, but not at a puppy. It ended at a large set of clawed foot prints that lead off to the north but there was also the scent of the puppy in the air along with whatever that creature was.. The tracks at the least looked canine…
Onyx leads the pair to where the footprints change and stops. He barks several times. Tsuna blinks. "What do you mean something big took the puppy? Are you sure?" Onyx barks once and pointedly looks at Shugo. Tsuna shrugs and looks at Shugo. "He's sure. He says that something big took the puppy. He saw the print and he can smell whatever animal it was. Looks canine, so we're thinking wolf or something."
Shugo nodded slowly as he listened to what was said before nodding a bit and beginning to walk. It wasn't long before Shugo turned to look at Tsuna and Onyx with a confused look on his face. "It is this way… isn't it?" Shugo would question. He was going the wrong way while the tracks lead off in the other direction. They were indeed laid by a wolf and as the wolf went with the pup, more tracks fell in with that first wolf. It was a full pack moving about in the woods somewhere and while there was no blood, it was certain that the little puppy was no wolf so how safe could that little pup be and for how long?
Tsuna blinks as Shugo moves off in the wrong direction. Tsuna clears his throat. "Uh, Shugo-san? The trail leads this way." He grins wide, his fangs extending slightly from his mouth. Onyx moves off already and barks to make sure Tsuna sees him. "Wow. Onyx says that it was a pack of wolves. We'd better hurry."
Shugo turned a bit red in embarrassment but turned about and began following after Tsuna and Onyx with a embarrassed chuckle leaving from his chest. Soon enough they would be moving on the right track toward the wolves which seemed ot be heading along animal trails toward a rocky out crop that housed a small cave. No doubt where the wolves were living for the winter months and where they had taken that little puppy to. From inside of the cave there were the sounds of whimpers and puppies making yelping cries that were well known by canines as calls for their mothers and milk.
Tsuna frowns slightly as they come upon the new area. He sniffs and then stares at the cave. "Smells like they have as lot of puppies in there, Shugo-san. I don't think we can just walk in there and take them back. I suppose I could try talking to them, tell them to let us have the guy we're here for." Onyx barks loudly. Tsuna shrugs. "I'm not sure." He looks up at Shugo. "What should we do now?"
Shugo really had no clue what was going on in that respect but he could at least head forward into the cave. "Well, we have to get the puppy back. I've never even heard of someone fialing a D-rank mission. I can handle the wolves if they get too wild but hopefully we can talk them into giving us the pup and not doing whatever they took it in for." The Nara explained while he moved into the darkness of the cave and held up a small orb on a string that, with a little chakra, began glowing dimly under the influence of the seal that read 'light' on the side of it. "Lead the way Tsuna, we've got to get that puppy back before the sun comes up."
Tsuna gulps a little and then nods. "Understood, Shugo-san." The young Inuzuka steels himself mentally and walks into the mouth of the cave with Onyx on his heels. Switching to the Canine language, he announces his presence. ~Hello, my four legged friends. My name is Tsuna and I'm a member of the Inuzuka clan. You have in your possession a white puppy that I need to take back to his mother. I humbly ask that you allow me to retrieve him and my companions and I will leave your territory without incident.~ He glances over at Onyx, who remains quiet for once. These are wolves and the pup knows better than to disrespect them. He is NOT the pack leader here, and he knows it.
~This child was left in our lands, go; your intrusion is not welcome here, human.~ came the snarls in response to Tsuna's words while shugo simply watched Tsuna with a confused expression. He didn't want to interrupt the growling and snarling but… was this how canines spoke to each other? The Nara had been around the Inuzuka for a while now but Konsho often spoke using a human voice rather than expecting him to understand the yips and yowls. The older teen wasn't sure about what he should say or do, if anything at this point. Tsuna was better with dogs than he was after all.
Tsuna wanted to keep Shugo in the loop, so he pauses to aside to him. "Um..I think the alpha says that the pup was left in their hands, and he's asked us to leave. Let me try again." Tsuna channels a little chakra, allowing for his feral traits to come fully to the surface. His fangs elongate as does his claws as he drops to all fours. His growls are deeper now. ~That child does not belong to you. I am here, speaking to you with respect because my partner and I do not wish to harm you or yours. But we have no problems showing our dominance. We ask again, give us the child that he might be returned to his family. If not, we will take him by force.~ Tsuna's claws dig into the ground before he snarls loudly while showing his fangs.
The first wolf that walked forward in that cave was large… staring down at Tsuna while snarling but not yet charging. It was then that it was clear that the wolf was not the one talking. Its growls were lighter and its demands more childlike than what the alpha had been demanding. ~Go away!~ was all the wolf demanded before the deeper growls resumed…
~You dare make threats to pack and I.. I cannot look over this.~ The deeper growls announced while the larger wolf began walking from within the cave. The foot that touched the ground was much larger than the trail they had followed and showed that the alpha was not a normal wolf hiding in a cave… He was roughly four times the size of the puppy of a wolf that stood before Tsuna.
Tsuna looks up at the Alpha and winces inwardly. Oh bark, this guy was bigger than Nozomi and Shinobu…Taiki's ninken. Tsuna backed away a little and a soft whine comes from Onyx. Tsuna says to Shugo. "We're in trouble. This is the alpha, and he's not releasing the pup. We're going to have to fight for him." Tsuna states to the wolf. ~Fine. We'll fight for him. But if we win, we take him and go without incident. If we lose…then you can take Onyx.~ The pup stares at Tsuna and then barks sharply. ~What the yip is wrong with you, dude?~ Onyx comments before running to where Shugo is. Tsuna comments. "Talking didn't work, Shugo-san."
The alpha snarled and began walking toward them while Tsuna bargained with the alpha. At the offer, that alpha would look over at Onyx and growl to the pup in question. ~Do you wish to leave the human and live on as a member of my pack, young one…?~ The alpha questioned rather than taking up Tsuna on the offered deal of a trade. Shugo however, began backing away and forming a hand seal to focus chakra which earned him the smaller wolf's snarling and glaring at him. The Nara was quick to release his hand seal and hold up his hands in a display that he wasn't trying anything while walking back toward the entrance of the cave. "That's not good, if they want to fight then we can but tell them we only want to return the puppy, which its owner is looking for it." Shugo explained before that alpha snarled deeply at the pair of humans. It didn't like them talking.
Tsuna replies to Shugo. "Yeah, I told them that. But he says that the pup was left in his care. I think he's pretty much saying 'finders keepers'. Though I haven't told him that the pup's mother is human or that he has an owner. That probably would get a bad reaction. I just told him I want to return the pup to his mother." Onyx seems to consider the request before he barks loudly. ~No thanks. He's more than just a human. He's my brother, and my partner."
~Abandoned by an owner was it? It is no wonder the child did not know whose land it was racing through nor what had happened..~ The alpha announced, showing it knew what they were saying if nothing else. As they made it beyond the mouth of the cave the wolf raised its head proudly and looked down on Shugo and Tsuna.. gauging them and seemingly taking a moment to measure their worthwhile six average sized wolves poured out to stand around the alpha that was looking down on the two genin. ~Tell me, child, why should I return the lost one to those who are not bold enough nor loving enough to seek out their own with their own paws?~ The wolf asked, looking down to Tsuna as well as Onyx.. Shugo was as good as frozen chopped liver.. which meant the wolves surrounding him were willing to wait, but all looked ready to eat such a lazy looking meal.
"What is Konoha putting in its dog chow to make all of its dogs get THAT big?!" Shugo would shout as he looked up at the massive wolf and then down at the collection around its feet. They must be something like the beast's puppies… Shugo didn't know what they were going to be doing but he was somewhat worried that in involved not getting stepped on and so the Nara began letting his shadows spread out at his feet in preparation.
Tsuna gulps and then looks at the wolf. "And he can understand human speech. How lovely." He moves from being on all fours to standing up straight. "Then I'll lay it out for you, Alpha. The little one was traveling with his owner and he fell out of the cart and she lost him. We were contacted to bring him back home. My clan works with canines, we take care of them, and we treat them as equals. I love Onyx as I would a human brother, and I'm sure that the pup's human mother loves him just as much. Imagine how you would feel if one of yours was lost and you had no idea where they were? Please. All we want is the pup. To take him home. Will you allow us that?" Because their chances were both slim and none if this turned into a fight. Tsuna and Onyx were learning how to be better fighters, but these odds were just crazy. Tsuna asides to Shugo. "No idea. But Onyx is going to grow up to be that big someday. Which means these guys might be related to our clan somehow."
The large wolf let out a howl of a sound that the other canines would know of as a laugh at what Shugo had said though soon it had stopped that laughing sound and lowered its head to sniff at the air around Tsuna and Shugo. Its tail swayed low behind its legs as it seemed to think things over calmly for a long moment.. and then began speaking in a measured tone, not as aggressive as before, nor a tone of submission. ~You all smell of my kind.. they smell happy.~ There was a squint to the wolf's eyes as it spoke and looked to Tsuna as he seemed the one of the humans that could understand what was being said. ~I will test your worth, human… you may delve into my den and seek out the one you are searching for. If you return from my home with the wrong child then you must leave the child with me, however if you choose correctly, I will spread word to my children that you are allowed to leave unharmed with the child.~
Shugo was slowly being surrounded by the smaller wolves though they didn't seem to be baring their teeth at him as they moved. Instead, they seemed only interested in ensuring Shugo didn't not move anywhere from where he was standing. Only Tsuna and Onyx were to be allowed within the cavernous paths of the wolf's den.
Tsuna looks back at Shugo. "He says that he'll let us leave with he pup if I chose the right one. Please try not to make any sudden movements, Shugo-san. I think they're instructed to rip you apart if you do anything aggressive." He looks down at Onyx. "Come on. Let's go get him." Tsuna tentatively steps inside of the cave and walks back to where the young ones are kept. Remembering that this pup would answer to a certain name, he asks in the canine language. ~Shnookums? My name's Tsuna. I'm here to take you back home.~
The inside of the cave is just as it was a moment ago however with the wolves not blocking the way it was clear that the den had several branching pathways that could lead them anywhere in this cavern, perhaps even to somewhere far more dangerous than the wolves. The branching paths all smelled fairly the same and had all been recently tread upon by the wolves leaving to meet the visiting humans moments ago. And now the matter to be concerned with was.. which direction would Tsuna and Onyx take and would that choice lead them to the right area? The words that Tsuna spoke however earned a response from the right pathway. "Yip!" came the sound of a small puppy from the right, it seemed too tame to be able to speak or at least too young to speak clearly.
As Tsuna left him alone, Shugo watched for a moment and then looked at all of the wolves and slowly began reaching for his pouch so he could begin pulling out something that he would guess all of those wolves would enjoy. If he still had a package in his pouch. "Good luck Tsuna, we're counting on you guys!"
Inside the cave, Tsuna couldn't see very well, but he didn't need to. He relied more on his ears and nose than anything else. Hearing a reply from the right, he drops down to all fours and continues forwards. He whispers to Onyx. "You sniff him out, and I'll listen for him." The pup woofs silently as they go down the right tunnel, taking their time and hoping they're going in the right direction.
The pair were quite the adventurous duo and did well to seek out the source of that puppy. Through winding paths, past puddles of water dripping from the ceiling, and even beyond the scent of fresh kills not far off that were waiting to be devoured.. It wasn't far from there that the last of the turns would reveal to Tsuna and Onyx that the puppy was clearly not alone, nor the only one that was white in the den.. Even in the dim light of some bioluminescent fungus, the den area looked like a stone bowl filled with a sea of little white and grey puppies squirming and yipping impatiently for their mother. Most were wolves, that much was for sure, however some were more common house dogs, perhaps even something other than a canine was mixed in but that wasn't a part of today's mission. They were looking for Schnookums.. Try saying that with pride.
Even in the low light conditions, Tsuna could tell that there was more than one white pup in there. He looks at Onyx and says, "It's gonna be up to you to find him. My nose isn't as good as yours. So go in the pile and see if you can't tell him to come out." Onyx woofs again and then darts into the pile of puppies, barking for Schnookums. ~Hey Schnookums. If you're in here jump or something so we can take you home.~
Onyx nips the tail of the pup that he believes to be Schnookums and that's the one Tsuna picks up. He looks at him and sniffs. "Smells like him." This was the one that was cowering and he wasn't a wolf cub, so odds are it's the right one. Tsuna and Onyx backtrack, following their own scents back to the mouth of the cave. He stands in front of the alpha and holds up the pup. "This is the one, I think. He smells the closest like the one we've been tracking." He then looks over at Shugo to see how he's been getting along with the wolves that were left to guard him.
The alpha leaned down and sniffed at the pup a few times, giving the small canine a lick before raising its head and looking down at Tsuna. A look to the ground and back at the Inuzuka was the alpha's way of nodding its acceptance of Tsuna's choice before it spoke. ~You have done well and shown your closeness with my kin… you found the right child and I hope I need not have it brought to my home a second time. Be sure its family is more careful with their child in the future and go on in peace. As agreed, you are safe to leave my forests.~ The large wolf explained before it began moving back toward the cave so it could return to feeding.
Shugo was fairly well off if not feeling a bit like he was mugged. Those treats were expensive and yet he'd bought some peaceful time with the wolves by issuing out free samples of Konoha's special brand of high protein, real meat, canine grain buns. It was similar to a meat bun, but chewier and filled with more meat than what a person would often wish to have. It was a good thing Konsho and these wolves seemed to have the same tastes.. but there was all of the Nara's mission pay up until today. When Tsuna came out with the pup, Shugo smiled and clapped a few times even before the Alpha had decided if it was the right one, he had faith in the Inuzuka's nose to have chosen the right puppy.
Tsuna exhales softly, a look of relief on his face. He inclines his head to the large wolf. "Thank you." He tucks the white pup underneath his arm and then begins to head out of the forest. "Shugo-san. That was hard. I thought we were going to get eaten." He looks down at Onyx. "You did a great job, partner. You're getting extra portions for breakfast when we get home." Onyx barks happily and wags his tail. "Now lets get this little guy home before something else happens."
Shugo followed after Tsuna now that he knew his own sense of direction in a forest that wasn't his own was about as good as spinning a scroll and seeing which direction it fell in. Still, Shugo reached out and patted Tsuna on the shoulders with a smile. "You did great in there Tsuna. I couldn't see a thing in that cave and you jsut waltz in there and come out with the right dog out of the bunch? You're going to have to tell me all about that when we get home!" Shugo announce with a grin on his lips while looking at Tsuna and lightly pressing him forward. The truth of the matter was that Shugo was out of treats to buy off the wolves if they followed and while Tsuna might know the wolf swore they were safe, Shugo didn't speak bark.
When they got back to the village they would be able to get the puppy checked over by the vet and then safely placed in a kennel with other puppies so it didn't get lonely while they sent word to the Daimyo's home that their puppy was being kept safe and sound in the village and awaiting pick up. Payment would be issued out for their service and with that, the mission was complete and at an end. Sadly for Shugo however, the sky was beginning to brighten so his chances of a good night's sleep were fading like the darkness.