Date: July 11, 2010
The trail finally ends at a long-abandoned temple, where the Femme Fatales have to square off against the mastermind behind this entire ordeal, as well as a monstrosity beyond imagining.
"The Traitor's Trail, Finale: The Master of the House!"
Abandoned Temple outside of Sayu, Land of Wind
Darkness covered the land, and the forest was murky with shadows, the sliver of a moon overhead barely providing enough illumination in the darkness around them to ensure their feet were carefully placed. It wasn't a cool night, with the breeze arm and humid from all the vegetation, and the forest canopy did little to let the heat trapped on the forest floor from the day to escape easily. It was uncomfortably warm, especially with the exertion of swift travel, and the group was already tired, near exhaustion, and likely sweating buckets. And smelly.
So very, very smelly.
Following the clues they'd found in the sewers had led them to the traitor shinobi, who's death had provided very little answers. The only way to their foremost goal, the forbidden jutsu scroll, was the eerie beacon of light, which had long since gone out, and the hope that it would lead to this elusive 'master' the traitor had spoken of. As they continued along, even the lights from the large town of Sayu were drowned out by the night.
Abruptly, as if it were made out of the very forest around it, the team encounters a large stone wall, partially crumbling from age and neglect. Those who were positioned and travelling through the trees would have a view over this fifteen-foot obstruction, into the temple compound below. An old Shinto shrine lay in ruins, with vines and vegetation hugging and overcoming almost everything within. In the enclosure of the walls was a large, partially-covered old well, several storage houses, what looked to be a low, flat building that was possibly once used for living in, dilapidated pagodas, some having already collapsed, seet amidst gardens with a dry stream running through it's midst. The gate had long since broken and rotted away, as had all but the sturdiest of wood constructions within.
The temple itself was a tall, single-story affair, with several sections of the roof missing, and a few holes in the walls showing darkness within. The vines had been torn away from the portal leading into the building, and the doors were pushed, not caved, in, as if someone had entered and merely forgotten to close it behind them.
Rinako, crouched on a tree branch a dozen or so feet away from the edge of the wall, looks to the team's leader for guidance.
Yes, everyone was exhausted. There had been no time to rest after that pillar of green light went up into the sky. They had just finished spending a lot of Chakra — and stamina in the case of some — in order to have their only lead to the scroll's location get wiped out. He had probably been too deranged to actually tell them anything of value, but that had been IT as far as clues were concerned. Thus, when that light pillar appeared in the sky, despite wanting to take a moment to catch her breath, Ruri had nodded to her sister's declaration, and ordered that the team immediately head in the general direction the light had appeared.
And now they were here. At some run-down temple. All this… Forest, and greenery, is kind of disconcerting to Ruri. She has spent most of her life in the desert, and in the desert the dry environment tends to preserve sturdy buildings for long periods of time. Seeing how these temple grounds are falling apart due to moisture, erosion, and the passage of time… The way that everything is being covered slowly in a carpet of vegetation… It makes the mental image flash through her mind briefly, of an old tombstone being claimed by moss and plant-life, concealing the only visible sign that where there was now a covered hole in the ground, there had once been a person.
What lives had been lost in this place? Who had dwelled here long ago? Does anyone remember anything those people had ever done? The stories of their lives? Their dreams? Or might they just as well have never existed? This line of deep thinking keeps her distracted as she sits in a tree overlooking the wall, and the compound, possibly making people think that she is planning what to do next. Well, she's not. She's just tired to the point that, even on a high-stakes mission, her mind is wandering.
It is with a physical effort and force of will that she manages to get her thoughts back on track. She shakes her head violently a few times, not worrying about what that looks like to anyone else. Too tired to worry. "This place looks deserted, except for the temple. But that doesn't mean it actually IS deserted. Kara, do you have enough energy to scan the area for Chakra? Don't look just for human Chakra. Look for ANY Chakra source — other than us, of course. I don't want to run into any more of those zombie things, and if there's any Ninjutsu-based traps, like Seals or tags, I want to know where those are."
She then looks back towards Shemri and Shiikaa. "Sorry to have to send Shiikaa in again first, but cats are quieter than humans, and have better night vision too. Once Kara confirms the presence or absence of traps in the exterior of the compound, we'll need Shiikaa to go in as advance scout. He doesn't have to actually enter the temple unless it's impossible to see what's inside otherwise… But a quick inspection and then return should be sufficient."
Ruri sighs and wipes her black hair out of her face. "Everyone else… We just wait and rest. We'll need all the energy we can get if we run into some big bad guy. Kara will need time for sure, after she checks for traps. And also… Let's try to stay quiet. We might be expected, but that doesn't mean we should reveal we've already arrived."
Using two Puppets at once is a strain for Kara. She hadn't done so before, outside of practice. Even using Sekhmet and Pharaoh at the same time against bandits hadn't been too much trouble. But that had taken less than 60 seconds, whereas the present usage has continued on for a number of minutes. Maybe a half hour? Longer? She had been able to strap Pharaoh to her back on her harness, and just not keep him active, but she had nowhere to put Sekhmet. It would take time to seal her back in a scroll, and they hadn't had time. So though the Chakra cost has been reduced to a single Puppet's worth, Kara is pretty tired by the time they reach the wall surrounding the temple.
Breathing heavily, one eye only half-open and both eyes burning with the painful desire to close, she crouches near Rinako, with Sekhmet staying on the ground. Large solid-metal statues, flexible or not, tend not to find much support on tree branches. Plus it costs less energy to keep the golden lioness-headed Puppet down on the forest floor, instead of using Tree Walking for the Puppet to keep her stuck to something up here.
Just as she is groaning a bit and trying to lean back in the tree to stretch out some sore muscles, Ruri starts in on their plan. She asks Kara to do more scanning. Kara groans again, more noisily and less pleasantly, but shuts up when Ruri mentions being quiet. Getting the dessicated corpse off her back, Kara directs Pharaoh towards the temple grounds, and channels Chakra through him, activating the sensor gem in his headdress. It takes awhile to scan the entire complex, but before she's even done her face has gone grim. When she >has< finished, her face is even >more grim<. Like, 'Whoah she is grim' grim.
"Sorry to have to tell you this, Ruri-chan, but there are a lot more Chakra signatures in this place that are basically identical to the ones from the sewers. Meaning more of those mutants. And in the temple there is a very large amount of Chakra of the same type. So… Either there's a ton of them in the temple, or just a really, really powerful zombie-thing." After finishing her report, she glances in Ruri's direction to see what kind of reaction she has. Though she didn't pick up on how terrified their leader was of these mutant zombies, she still wants to make sure there are no changes in plans.
"…Oh, and I didn't detect any traps that are Chakra-based. Thank heaven for small favors, right?"
Shemri and Shiikaa are hanging in there, though the journey has been tiring. Their training largely emphasizes physical prowess, so they're accustomed to working their bodies hard. Plus, they haven't been using stamina-chewing ninjutsu like most of the others have (well, Shiikaa kinda has, but not to the same degree, and anyhow he's small enough to be carried when he's tired).
As the team surveys the temple, Shiikaa lifts his nose and sniffs the air. He gives a few mrowls, to which Shemri looks down with a furrowed brow. "…Wet cave people? Ah. Aha." Shemri turns toward Ruri. "I believe we shall encounter those things from the sewers again in there." Not surprising, really. And yeah, Kara confirms it after her scan. Joy.
Well, looks like it's up to Shiikaa once again to brave enemy territory as the sneaky scout type! The feline disappears over the wall with a flick of his tail. Inside the compound, Shiikaa weaves his way amongst the buildings on his way to the central temple, since that's where most of the activity appears to be. It's easy enough for a cat to remain hidden amongst the overgrowth that has claimed the place. Arriving at the temple, Shiikaa eschews the boring human entrance and climbs the outer structure, soon discovering a hole created by the vines pushing through the stonework. Exploring the temple from the obscurity of the rafters, Shiikaa follows his nose to the place where all the mutants are congregated, and…lo and behold, they're waiting patiently in line to have an old guy in priest's robes draw on their foreheads with some sticky green goo, then pile up inside a big ol' crater. Huh. Well, nobody ever said evil plots made a lot of sense. ^c.c^ Shiikaa works his way back out, retracing the path he used to get in (if it ain't broke, don't fix it!) and makes his way back to report to the rest of the team.
To the visual inspection, the courtyard is quiet. So very, very quiet. Nothing stirs, not even what one would expect from the local fauna. No songbirds sing here, no owls hoot, no mice scurry. The only things that seem to be prevalent in numbers that one would expect for a place like this are the insects; beetles, ants, mosquitoes, and moths, all without the native bats there to swoop down and keep the population under control.
"Well… at least we don't have to worry about blowing up when we're getting swarmed by mutant beings from the underworld." Rinako mutters under her breath, quiet enough that probably only Kara, who was next to her, and the cat, who had better hearing than a human's, would pick it up. But her sibling likely had ESP when it came to detecting her twin's complaining anyway. The elder of the Rurohashi girls squints into the courtyard, as if she could see into the buildings by sheer force of will, all the while scowling as if she could scare their enemies away just by looking fierce enough.
Shiikaa's passage doesn't stir the creatures in their overtaken nest, and the feline manages to get both in and out of the compound without incident. Whatever else seemed to be happening within here, they did not seem to be expecting company, or, if they were, they were not very trained on how to go about setting up an effective sentry screen. Every now and then while they waited for the cat to return, one or two of the creatures would exit one of the storage buildings, or the living quarters, and shamble towards the temple entrance, disappearing inside. It would not return. A few minutes would pass and another would exit it's station and enter the main building.
The dark-haired jinchuriki watches the proceedings with distaste, the mutated humans even uglier under the moonlight, where more can be made out of their appearance than in the sewers. As Shiikaa returns, she turns her head towards their leader, raising her eyebrows in the classic 'now what?' expression.
After hearing Kara's report, and Shemri's words, Ruri just nods grimly. Not quite as grimly as Kara, but still pretty grim. She has no words for awhile. Ruri spaces out while she waits, and just tries to rest and recover. She actually closes her eye, and starts to drift off… But she only gets to that state of 'almost asleep but not quite' before Shiikaa returns, alerting the trained senses of the younger Rurohashi twin to motion in her vicinity. Her left eye snaps open, and her brain kicks into high gear for a second, as she looks around wildly for a target. But then she gradually realizes it's just the cat. She GLARES at Shiikaa and unleashes her 'Angry At Cat Intent'! It's sort of like 'Killing Intent' but specifically reserved for felines, does not actually involve a desire to kill (just simple malice), and is always, always, ALWAYS conveniently missed, ignored, or 'misunderstood' on the part of the cat.
Ruri mutters and then glances out over the temple grounds, spotting more of those things lumbering around, headed towards the temple. She shudders a bit, but it might not be noticeable in the dark. Looking to Rinako after Shiikaa reports to Shemri in Neko-ese, and the meows are then translated, she stares right into the nearly identical face in the tree across from her. Sure, she might be missing an eye, which is, in turn, covered up, but their faces are mostly the same otherwise. Pale from tiredness, sweaty, but also ready to move. Ruri isn't going to hang around forever waiting for the guy in the temple to finish what he's doing and THEN take him head-on. Even if it would mean fighting at full strength, there's no guarantee that they'd be able to handle whatever this creep is preparing in the future. They need to stop him NOW.
So… She gestures with two fingers, twice, indicating they should go over the wall in two pairs. She then gets a move on, following her onw directions. Let's hope there's no conventional traps in the vicinity that they missed, since they wouldn't have shown up on Chakra sensing devices. If they aren't any traps, then Ruri will wait for everyone to be inside the walls, and then she'll lead the way with Rinako towards the temple building, hoping to get close without being spotted, and move in to end this.
Kara is pretty drained too. She has shut off Pharaoh's sensor already (incase she didn't do so in the previous pose), but just that simple sweep of the temple compound has left her more tired than moving Sekhmet all those miles from the lake to here. She isn't quite >sleepy< tired, however. Just 'exhausted from strenuous physical effort' tired. Still, she has a couple minutes to recuperate while Shiikaa investigates. But all too soon, the cat comes back. And not even the very next day. Man, whoever wrote that song was such a liar!
Kara yawns and stretches, and then nods to Ruri's hand signals. She waits until Rinako and Ruri have leapt over the wall, then gestures with one hand, pulling Sekhmet to her feet, and causing her to leap right over the fifteen-foot high wall from ground level, as Kara also leaps over. Pharaoh was replaced on her back after the sensor scan was over. Presumably Shemri and Shiikaa will be right alongside her as they leap through the air! Gummi beaaars~! Bouncing here and there and everywhere~—WAIT. STOP. Wrong series. There may be some bouncing going on, but it's the dark of night, and there's no one around to appreciate it, and also these kunoichi are not bears of any kind, so that's out.
Anyway, upon landing, Kara winces a bit at the heavy *WHUMP* produced by the almost completely metal Puppet that is Sekhmet landing after her leap. Hopefully no one heard that. If they're free of detection, Kara moves to follow after Ruri and Rinako, getting close enough to the temple that Kara could potentially send Pharaoh up top to peer in through the ceiling with his Four-Way Spyglass, and maybe even provide covering fire when the attack itself begins. Humans, being land-bound creatures almost never look up when searching for something. They just don't even consider it a viable direction to find something or spot something, and almost >never ever< expect to be attacked from that direction. Add onto that Kara can direct Pharaoh from a distance and still see down at an angle, into the temple interior, and she won't be in much — or possibly any — physical danger. And if she sends in Sekhmet too, she can totally tear apart the enemy in those close quarters, where there's no room for anyone or anything to flee. Yessss, this will be deliciously bloody! :D :D :D
Shiikaa tilts his head at Ruri. Silly human. Weren't you /expecting/ me back this soon? :P Shemri nods slowly at Shiikaa's report. "Ah. Aha. A pity none of us are demolition experts," she murmurs. "Collapsing a nest is a very good way to kill many prey at once. Of course, you must have a way of digging them out afterward if you wish to have any prize…which means we would probably be unable to retrieve the scroll afterward if we did that. Ah well."
And then, they're off! Shemri and Shiikaa accompany Kara in the infiltration of the compound. The clumsiness of Sekhmet makes Shemri wince too. Yeah, Kara's gonna have to work on being able to quickly seal that thing away. c.c It's great for pitched battle, but it really cramps the style for stealth. Shemri thinks about her strategy as they move in. Projectiles didn't seem terribly effective before, you really need to draw a deep, long cut in those things in order to have a significant effect. Slash some muscles and all that good stuff. So, for Shemri, that basically means get up close and personal with all limbs slicing. Not a fun idea when faced with hordes of critters that don't feel pain. c.c Hopefully she'll find terrain that forces them to come at her a few at a time.
As the group goes over the wall, there isn't a sound, though they have to crouch down silently under some overgrown shrubberies as two more the mutated slums residents amble out of a storage building and into the main temple. The movement is slow going, as trying not to be spotted means they can't make a mad dash for the target, and must use the limited cover available, which isn't much for four humans, their puppets and their cat, though it had been plenty for the lone cat itself. Rinako places her back to the side of one of the low storage units, creeping past while ducking low under windows, around the back to squeeze between it and the wall in her approach for the largest of the compound's building.
Thankfully, nothing seems to be too alert and the large, if hollow, sound of Sekhmet landing doesn't draw any attention, allowing Rinako to let out the breath she was holding since the landing. As she rounds the first of the storage huts, she begins climbing the corner of the second, gaining the roof, where she scuttles forward in a crouch to keep her silhouette minimal, preparing to leap the rest of the way to the temple doors rather than run across the open ground.
Kara would be able to get her puppet onto the roof simply by having him leap across the rooftops, or by sneaking close to the building, and then simply having him climb.
As the four kunoichi and their various extras make their way closer, Rinako lands near the entrance, crouched into a tiny ball next to the stairs leading up into the double-doored interior of the compound. She's just coming out of her crouch, reaching up towards the expansive deck area to pull herself up out of the shrubs when a sound freezes her in place.
The same pitch of moan that had first been heard in the sewers, eerie, somewhat excited, deep and carrying on the wind, sinister. The sound these creatures made to alert the others that they'd spotted something alive. Rinako's head whips around to the various surrounding buildings, away from the darkness leading deeper into the temple.
"We should get inside. Fast."
No sooner is this said than the first of the shambling creatures comes bursting out of the living quarters, followed by it's kin. Both of the storage buildings similarly erupt with the mutated, misshapen people limp-running on uneven legs, or crawling along the ground like spiders, swarming out of their cover.
Ruri does her best to stay hidden. Stealth might not be her specialty, but she is still a trained ninja. Even so, there's not a lot of cover to use, and those creatures keep on popping up occasionally to wander over to the temple. She has to fight her revulsion and urge to flee, or at least blow them up. Once they finally reach the temple's exterior Ruri is breathing quite rapidly. Her previous exhaustion is still there, but much dimmer, thanks to her fear. She's just about ready to enter the temple, right behind Rinako, when that MOAN echoes through the area.
Instead of looking around, she freezes. Her mind just shuts down. For a moment, she's back in the sewers with those things swarming all around her, trying to kill her friends, not knowing if her sister is already lost or not… All that panic, all that terror, nearly overwhelms her completely. But when her sister speaks, it breaks her out of her hallucination, and before the creatures are even done emerging from their hideouts, Ruri is charging up the stairs and into the temple so fast that she might as well be flying. She doesn't look behind her, doesn't check to ensure her team mates are following after, just charges inside the temple. Whatever is inside can't be worse than what's outside, can it?
Of course, once she feels she can put her back to something, she'll look back down the stairs and make sure everyone is safe. And she'll feel bad about not going up the stairs last later on. But right now, it seems perfectly reasonable to get herself to safety and rely on the others to take care of their own well-being in this instance.
Nothing and no one notices Sekhmet. Thank the gun goddess, Amaterasu! …Oh, wait that name is used for something else in Naruto, and doesn't fit with Kara's motif. Uhh… Thank… Ra! Yes. Ancient Egyptian sun god is much more appropriate. Anyway, they move on, Kara doing her best to stay hidden along with everyone else. Sekhmet, when not leaping from high up, is actually rather quiet. Her footsteps are muffled and due to her metallic body being flexible and smooth, almost like real flesh, there is no squeaking or clanking or clattering or anything like that. Still, a golden statue is not quite hard to make out. What little moonlight there is would highlight that shiny form easily. So Kara keeps Sekhmet a distance away from the group, hoping that, just like with Pharaoh before, the creatures will ignore the Puppet in favor of the human controllers. Once they reach the temple, Kara walks up the side of it with her Chakra, trying to make sure not to disturb any loose stones, and stops when she's almost at one of the holes in the roof, but not quite in sight of those within, nor able to see inside.
Then she unslings Pharaoh and props him up so that his head is over the edge, and he can look down into the interior. A periscope with four lenses emerges from his headdress, and Kara looks through it via another device attached to Pharaoh… And a very small amount of Chakra. She can see inside just fine… Sekhmet is crouched ontop of a roof, waiting to be called upon.
Then there's that >moan<. The same noise that makes Ruri freeze up makes Kara glance casually in the direction the mournful, disturbing sound came from. It's not that she isn't concerned. But she doesn't think she is the one who was spotted, way up at the top of the temple's roof, and in the >shadows< at that. So she is instead making sure that there is nothing coming after her team mates. When Ruri runs into the temple, it's probably only a matter of seconds before Rinako and Shemri join her. What Shiikaa does is anyone's guess, since he was ignored by the mutants previously. But if they are directed to attack the cat by their master, they might forget their disinclination to kill kitties.
If Shemri and Rinako do as expected, and get inside the temple, then Kara directs her attention towards Sekhmet, and has the heavy statue-like Puppet leap down to the ground and charge over to stand at the base of the stairs. Anything that gets too close will be savagely slashed at with incredibly sharp claws attached to incredibly strong metallic muscles. And if necessary, Sekhmet will back up to block the entrance of the temple, and keep anything from pursuing through the sheer weight of her Puppet body. How do you like >them< apples, suckahs!?
Hoo boy. -.-; Shemri and Shiikaa bound up the stairs after their leader. Yeah, high ground sounds like a good idea just now. Lucky all the mutants seem to be coming from every /other/ direction, huh? Of course, if all the ones in the pit Shiikaa reported about are still active, they'll probably come flooding out soon enough. Just have to hope otherwise. On reaching the entrance of the temple, Shemri pauses and tugs at the hidden end of her sash, pulling it free from the inner folds in which it was tucked. After a moment of unwinding, she lets it hang loose from the back alongside the other end. Both lengths ripple to life, and Shemri tucks a kunai into the end of each. o/~ Double your pleasure, double your fun! o/~ Shemri gets out another couple kunai and grips one in each hand. "Come, I shall take any four of you now," Shemri mutters. >/
Quick as a blink, Ruri's already inside, negating the need for Rinako to drag and/or carry her sibling along with her. She knew how badly these things affected her sister, or at least how badly what they /looked/ like affected her, and it was hard to stop the Big Sister urge to run right into the slavering horde to put down what was making her twin jittery. Hard. But she was likely to only wind up overwhelmed with such a foolish act, so she instead hauls herself up onto the deck area and moves to the doors, backing towards them while facing the oncoming monsters, ensuring everyone got either inside, or safely out of reach before she'd allow the doors to close.
Unfortunately for Kara, there's no direct hole to see into the temple from! Instead, there's some rather unpleasantly small, and dark, spaces one has to crawl through in order to actually be able to get past the upper ceiling level and into the rafters of the structure itself. And, likewise unfortunately, these things do not spare the cat, nor the puppet in their way, from their attacks. Sekhmet likely could have held off two, five, ten of these things, but there were more pouring into the courtyard here than had confronted them in the sewers, so many that they were even crawling their way out of the well. They swarm around the golden-skinned puppet, and for every one that it smashes, two more manage to get by, and several of them, those that scrambled like insects, even begin to scale the sides of the building for the roof, meaning Kara's secure position wouldn't be secure for long! The rest seek to bury the puppet beneath thousands of pounds of rending, clawing, biting flesh, and simply pour over and around it to get to the rest of the team.
With no living members still on the other side, Rinako slams the double doors shut, then slaps the wooden beam down on the locks. The first of the creatures hurls itself against the barrier, bending the doorway in, causing the wooden 'lock' to crack and shed several splinters. With a spitted curse, the elder Rurohashi sibling throws herself against the other side just as another body crashes into the portal, dust and tiny bits of wooden debris flying despite Rinako's added strength behind it.
"I can't hold this forever! We need to put a stop to this now!" Another hit has her feet sliding backwards a few centimeters as the doors try to give way. "Ru, if you got another wall handy, now'd be a great time! Or go kill this bastard and find us another way out!"
Now that they were inside, in the relative quiet of the sanctuary, the sound of low chanting can be heard, though hurried, as if the chanter were in a rush. The unlit hallway leads deeper into the recesses of the temple, and at the far end is a partially-opened doorway through which light from a fire, or several fires, can be seen vaguely.
Ruri's heart thuds quickly in her chest as she presses herself to the hallway wall, well beyond the doors. She doesn't want to move from this spot. She will if she has to, but she doesn't WANT to. But then when the doors are slammed shut and locked and even that isn't enough of a barrier, she suddenly changes her mind. She would love to move somewhere else. Like somewhere far, far away from here.
But before she can move deeper into the temple, the elder twin suggests something that had not occurred to Ruri in her fear-paralyzed state. Back in the sewers, she'd managed to think and fight even while scared. But with the addition of exhaustion, she isn't really functioning at full capacity. Thus, the moment that Rinako mentions the wall, she starts looking around on her arms for the right type of tattoo, when normally she just has to reach over and touch it. She can't remember where her Stored Wall is! Finaly, in a panic, she finds it, and tries to yell, "Stand back, Rinako!" But it comes out hoarse, choked, as though her throat had gone completely dry. Still, the gist should hopefully get across, even over the commotion of the monsters.
Then a Flesh Scroll tattoo flows blue, and the hallway becomes much more crowded. Hopefully Rinako leapt back, because otherwise she is now fused into the thick stone wall that has likewise merged with the hallway, due to its width being too great for the hall to contain (presumably). Those mutant zombies are going to need explosives if they hope to get through that. Raw strength just won't cut it.
…Well, it MIGHT, but it wouldn't be normal strength or even mutated strength, necessarily. More like some kind of Chakra-enhanced strength, or a powerful mechanical arm, or something of that nature. She takes a moment to gasp for breath, as though the act of unsealing the wall had been a huge toll on her. And maybe it was, with her currently low Chakra levels. But more likely it's just the respite from facing her worst fears in the flesh that allows her to actually breathe again.
She doesn't appear to be rushing to take down the chanting guy just this moment. That's going to have to be up to someone else — at least until Ruri gets ahold of herself.
Kara is actually surprised when the mutant things manage to get past Sekhmet. She does her best to control the Ancient Puppet such that the statue-like being can tear a swath of carnage through the ranks of the once-humans, but there are simply too many! And soon, Sekhmet is overwhelmed despite her controller's efforts. Maybe if Kara knew more about the Ancient Puppet's capabilities… But she only knows that Sekhmet is strong, fast, and has claws. That's it.
She has no idea what other tools might be hidden inside of the Puppet. And thus the mighty lioness-headed, gold-fleshed warrioress Puppet falls beneath the tide of gnawing mouths, scraping claws, and press of deformed and soulless bodies. Kara is loathe to abandon the Puppet she trained so hard to be able to claim as her own and control… But she can't do much right now, and she is confident that the metal hull of Sekhmet can withstand the beating she's receiving for awhile. Flesh is generally weaker than steel, after all!
Thus, Kara cuts the Chakra Strings, and notices that the doors of the temple are swarming with the creatures, as they leap up the stairs, and pile against the closed door. She bristles a bit at that. She was locked out! "They locked us out, Pharaoh-kun!" she declares shrilly. She pauses then repeats more calmly, "They locked us out." Hmming, she watches as the zombie-things come piling up the temple walls, climbing over each other to reach the dark-skinned woman. "Man, this is horrible. I had no idea they were going to use me as a sacrifice to ravenous freaks when I was assigned to this team!" She sighs. "Well, I'm not going to cooperate with this plan! They didn't even ask me first!" So she uses her Chakra Strings to make Pharaoh crawl ahead of her into the first dark passage she can get to quickly. Pharaoh's dessicated body can probably easily fit inside and crawl forward. Kara is nowhere near being dessicated. She is, infact, quite fleshy. Especially around the hips (and other places but we all know about >those< already). So as she is crawling after Pharaoh… She gets a bit… Stuck.
"…Oh, god this is not happening." She says outloud. She wriggles, squirms, and tries to fit herself into the passage, but her hips… Are a bit too wide. "Dammit! I knew I shouldn't have eaten all those sweet buns! Because they went directly to >my< sweet buns!" As the creatures outside continue to climb higher, and pile up, they get closer and closer! Kara freaks out! "AAAHHHHHHH I AM TOO YOUNG AND HOT TO BE EATEN BY ZOMBIES THEY HAD BETTER NOT TAKE OFF MY CLOTHES FIRST IF THEY ARE GOING TO EAT ME THAT WOULD BE SO GROSS AND CREEPY I DON'T CARE WHAT THAT ONE CHICK IN THE REMAKE OF THAT MOVIE SAID AND—Oh, wait." She then slips out of her skirt and ninja tool belt, and leaves them behind as she quickly crawls into the passage, just >barely< managing to get her feet beyond the opening, probably mere seconds before the mutants reach her chosen crawl-space and try to reach inside to grab her.
After all that fuss (and waiting for this pose!) Kara and Pharaoh reach the rafters of the temple inside, and peer down at the enemies below. 'Oh, hey, I can see my team mates from up here!' she thinks. 'And who is that guy in the robes? Looks like he's up to no good.' She doesn't act yet, though, and instead tries to crawl closer, in order to be as near to directly over Head Priest Zuluwhack as she can get. She has a plan. But first she needs a distraction!
Shemri blinks and hops back as the doors are slammed shut and barred. O…kay…that's a relief, although at the same time…it's sort of a buzzkill when you realize you /don't/ have to make a last stand against a horde of unspeakable horrors. Uh-oh! Then again, maybe they do! Shemri braces herself for the moment the undead break through and—*POOFCRUNCH* Oh. A wall. How convenient. Shemri inhales deeply, then sighs. "Very well. Shiikaa, which way to the suspicious old man?" Shiikaa gives a meow and starts off down the hallway.
Rinako /almost/ misses Ruri's cry, a barely-audible choking sound above the cacophony of bodies slamming into wood in her ears. The hinges of the doors start to give way, even as she manages to hold the two ends shut, revealing the losing battle for what it is: a lost cause. More on instinct than reaction, she hops back just enough to not get her fingertips crushed as the new barrier pops into being just as the old barrier beyond can be heard crashing into splinters. The wet sound of flesh-on-stone is heard over Rinako's heavy breathing as she backs up a step or two, eyeing the new stone construct which cut out all light except for that coming from the end of the hall.
"That'll keep them out. For a while, anyway." But a new sound emerges from outside, one like the skittering of dry leaves in a stiff breeze, one which seems to be gaining elevation with every moment. Rinako looks up to the roof as she listens to the sound of the mutanted horrors beginning to scale the building en masse. "Or… maybe not."
Kara manages to get into, and through, the crawlspace just ahead of the first leading crawlers of the mutant zombies on her tail, but she won't have long to celebrate. For starters, she made and /awful/ lot of noise up there, enough to draw the attention of the pale-skinned, elderly male in the red-and-white shinto shrine robes. Add onto that the mutants cramming themselves into the space after her and she wouldn't even have much time to enjoy her new perch before clawed, mangled hands are reaching for her ankles to pull her into convenient biting range!
Shiikaa, meanwhile, would have no problems leading the group towards the ringleader of this disaster, as the all the side rooms and passages would prove utterly empty, at least as far as a feline's nose could tell. Pushing through, or peeking through, the lit doorway at the end would reveal the same room that Kara is now looking down on: the main shrine.
Where the altar would be, however, dominating the center of the room, is instead a massive crater, a hole of torn earth, wood, and tile. From this foul-smelling hole is a heaping mound of the mutated creatures that were clawing at the walls and ceilings from outside, doing their best to get in. Each of the once-human monstrosities writhes and twitches within the macabre pile, a hundred, maybe two hundred bodies so far, each with the same lime-green sign painted onto their foreheads, seemingly stuck in place.
The elderly man claps his hands together with a wicked, toothless grin as he looks up at Kara and Pharoah. "Two more to add to my beauty. Now rise and claim them… Rise! RIIIIIIIIIIISE!"
From within the pile of bodies comes a large groaning sound, and an increased gibbering from the zombie-things within. An enormous hand, who's smallest finger could likely have squashed one of the kunoichi outright, claws it's way out of the pile, reaching up onto the edge of the crater it was in. It pulls up an equally enormously-proportioned head, followed by shoulders, and another hand, the entire upper half of a human body filling the crater… but missing it's legs.
But what made the thing even more horrifying was that this was not a single creature, but was the amalgamation of every mutated body that had been in the crater, though it was seemingly incomplete at the moment. Hundreds of bodies, legs, arms, and faces writhed throughout every inch of the huge gestalt being they made up, the gibbering cacophony of their voices nearly deafening. The noise was too loud to make out what the robed male was saying as he pointed energeticly at the position Kara and Pharoah were in, but the creature seemed to hear it nonetheless, rearing back an enormous fist made up of nearly a dozen bodies and aiming it right at the puppet-user!
Ruri has not necessarily physically suffered worse than anyone else during this mission. If anything, she has fared a lot better than most. No scratches so far. At worst, tiredness is the main thing she has had to endure. But emotionally has been another matter entirely. From fearing the horrifying creatures they've been fighting, to fearing for her sister's life, to fearing letting down — and subsequently losing — her team and friends, it seems that if any one word would best describe this entire experience, at least in Ruri's view, it would be 'terror'.
But even as she gasps for breath, heart racing, a cold sweat coating her skin, she knows that they're not done yet. She isn't thinking so much that they still have a job to do, but more that there are still chances for her to screw up and get those she cares about killed. And the sounds of those mutant monsters outside pounding on the wall she summoned into existence, and the thudding of misshapen limbs scrabbling at the sides of the temple as the beasts climb to the top, do nothing to set her at ease. Turning her attention down the tunnel, the younger of the Rurohashi twins manages to motivate her exhausted body to move away from the wall instead of slumping to the floor and falling asleep.
Staggering at first, she eventually pushes herself to run into the main shrine area, looking over the disturbing scene before her. The old man is most likely insane, but that isn't going to save him. He has done many bad things, and there will be retribution for those crimes. Before Ruri can act against the priest, though, the monster formed of all those twisted bodies rises from the crater, revealing an even greater level of horror to Ruri. If it were just a giant abomination, it would likely not have evoked such fear in her, but the fact that it was actually made of OTHER abominations gives it a nightmarish quality that leaves Ruri with her left eye as wide as it will go, her teeth bared in a rictus of absolute terror, and her head shaking back and forth as though to deny what she is seeing.
It takes her precious seconds to process that the priest is not sending the monster after her, due to the screaming and moaning and inhuman noises being produced by the giant's components being rather distracting. When she dares to look away from the behemoth and up to see where and what it is attacking, she sees Kara and her Puppet in the rafters. The young woman wants to help Kara. She really does. But her mind is barely functional, and her body is refusing to respond. It's almost like the connection between mind and body has been severed!
And then something awakens inside of Ruri. Some OTHER source of energy and strength, previously untapped. She clutches at the right side of her face with her hand, the bandana covering the empty socket getting tugged aside. Pain radiates from the emptiness in aching throbs. 'Have to do something! Have to… Fight!' she thinks. Gradually, her body regains feeling, as though it had previously been numbed, and she is able to run further into the room, as an eye grows in the black hole in her face. And then a SECOND eye grows, forcing the first to the side. It stretches the flesh around the socket, and hurts pretty badly, but Ruri feels strong enough to act now. So she does. The two eyes, both red and bearing the Flesh Scroll tattoo for the Stored Fire Stream their surfaces, surge with Chakra and unleash a pair of flamethrower like streams into the huge monster's face, attempting to at least blind it.
Kara doesn't waste time looking behind her as she hears some of the zombie-mutants managing to squeeze their bulky bodies into that narrow passage. Given what has happened to them, it is likely that even if they can feel pain, they might be malleable enough that they can simply reverse their joints or whatever they would need to do to fit. Ew.
Instead of worryin about that, Kara just tries to put some more distance between herself and the passage, and focus on the culprit behind this huge mess! Some lame old man who has apparently constructed a flesh golem or something, and is sending it >right at her<! Kara's eyes widen at the size of the incoming fist, and performs a nano-second's worth of calculations. She likely would not be in particularly great shape if she gets hit by that body-fist-thing, and might even die! So without fanfare or grace, she simply allows herself to fall out of the rafters, towards the ground far below!
Pharaoh is pulled after her via the Chakra Strings still attached to him, but whether Kara >or< Pharaoh will get out of the way in time is uncertain. Chakra is low for everyone in the group who uses such, probably, with the possible exception of Rinako. Attacking on the way down would be pretty cool and useful, but Kara just isn't in the physical position or mental state to decide on an attack, aim it, and let loose. She's more focused on not breaking her neck on the floor.
Sigh…you practice and spar for hours on end to improve your hand-to-hand combat against human opponents, and what do you face out in the field? Giant monsters that hardly (if at all) feel pain and are damaged by weapons of assassination about as much as a person would be by a paper cut. >.< Ninjutsu users get all the fun. Fortunately, there is one fairly obvious thing Shemri can do to make a difference in this battle: go after the brains behind the operation.
Shemri gives a whistled signal to Shiikaa, who skitters low around the edges of the room. Who's going to notice a little black cat in this dark and dirty old temple? Shemri, meanwhile, takes a more direct route toward the old man, bounding forward across the uneven flooring. As she approaches her target, Shiikaa gives one of his trademark roars to freeze him in place, and Shemri leaps in with a shout for a straight lunge punch to his jaw. She'd rather not knock him out, just in case the zombies would keep coming if he doesn't call them off, but putting him into an ow-please-don't-hurt-me-anymore state of mind is desirable. And knocking him away from his giant bodyguard would be a plus too.
Flames leap from Ruri's eyes, striking the monster dead on in it's huge, misshapen face, a face made of dozens and dozens of mutated bodies all crammed together. It has no true eyes, only a semblance of sockets, a macabre mockery of a mouth and other features, and likely sees through some supernatural sense other than with it's own 'senses'. An even more horrible conclusion might be that it could use all of the eyes, ears, and noses of the once-people attached to it to view the world with!
But however the amalgamation of horrors could detect it's surroundings, it is simply too large and cumbersome to move out of the way of the flames. Flesh curdles, melts, and boils beneath the heat, a few arms and legs are burned off, and several of the corpses are still on fire, wreathing it's head in flames, but it seems as if the attack has only drawn the creature's attention, rather than dealing a severe blow!
Kara manages to get herself out of the way heartbeats before the fist of the enormous creature slams into the rafters, shattering wood and tile, sending splinters and timber raining down, creating falling debris that must now be dodged. Even as it retracts it's lumbering arm, it's baleful face, scorched a bit on the outside, turns to begin to face the new threat that had emerged: that of Ruri and her dual-streaming fire-eyes. It opens it's mouth, presumably to let out one of those horrid groans that the creatures have been letting out when detecting prey, yet nothing comes. At least not from it's mouth. Instead, the bone-chilling sound comes from every mouth that makes up the abomination.
One hand rears up, then comes crashing down at the younger Rurohashi sibling in an open-handed swat, as if she weren't more than a fly to be swatted. Given the size difference, that's probably what it saw them as!
The enormous hand is intercepted by the elder of the twins, Rinako, with both hands overhead, holding the enemy's limb at bay, her muscles straining, the wooden floor beneath her beginning to crack and give way. Around her is the hazy darkness of her bijuu's chakra, in the vague shape of an aquatic beast, a single tail extending from her backside, her skin tinted blue as she lets out a growl. "GODDAMMIT, HIT THIS THING AGAIN!"
The beast brings it's other hand on top of the first, effectively doubling it's squishing power, wood cracking as Rinako is driven into the floorboards, barely keeping herself from being smashed flat. But the hands are soon withdrawing, both rearing back into fists, it's 'face' locked onto the dark-haired jinchuriki as it prepares a double-handed strike that's unlikely to be able to be blocked this time!
"Guwahh!" The elderly male yelps in terror as the cat's feral scream startles him, causing him to spin towards the sound and freeze wide-eyed for a precious few seconds. All the seconds Shemri needs to land a solid hit on his jaw and launch him reeling backwards, tripping over his dirty robes, and landing on his rear with a pained grunt. "Foul child, how DARE you!" he shouts, if his voice can even be heard over the moans, groans, and screams of the walking corpses. The male makes a seal in front of him, before sucking in a lungful of air. When he exhales, it's with a chilling air that saps the very warmth from anything living it touches, making those it strikes feel sluggish, powerless, as their strength evaporates. It's an attack breathed right at Shemri, though it has a short enough range that she can dodge beyond it as long as she reacts quickly enough!
Whatever strength Ruri has gained, her mind is still rebelling at the sight, sound, smell, and other sensory assaults she is experiencing from this creature. As she sees that giant hand coming down upon her, it's like her blood runs cold. She can't move at all, or even think. Her life doesn't flash before her eyes, there's no cry of fear or denial, or final tear-jerking thoughts of those she will leave behind when she dies… There's no time for anything as complex as all of that. She's too tired, too scared, and just… numb.
The hand made of bodies stops several feet above of and in front of her, though. She keeps on staring into the gibbering faces of those undead or mutants or whatever the hell they are. But then Rinako yells from right in front of her, and Ruri's eyes (all three of them) are drawn down to her sister. The second hand slamming down on top of the first forces even the elder twin towards the ground. The Chakra that surrounds Rinako is potent enough to be visible even to normal vision… But it's not enough to hold back this monster.
Ruri's thoughts come sluggishly, but they have at least resumed. 'I'm not strong enough… I can't stop this thing on my own… Everyone is going to die because I made the wrong choice…' Her eyes look back up at the monster as it raises both of its massive arms and hands, prepared to bring them down on Rinako. Ruri's eyes close, and she reaches inside of herself, to a dark place where there should be nothing at all. And yet there IS something.
The source of that extra strength she has been using lies in the darkness. She has no idea what it is, exactly, nor does she really care right now. She knows that she is too weak to save herself, let alone anyone else at the moment… So she tries to draw more of this mysterious strength from the darkness inside. Whatever it is, it seems to be sufficient for Ruri's purposes. She turns her mental self back up to the light of the world outside, and flies with arms oustretched back to reality…
Ruri's left eye opens. Brown, like normal. She stares up at the monster, realizing that less than a second has passed since she went diving into her inner self in search of power. Then her right eye opens. Both of the eyes in the socket are a pale yellow around a black dot at the center of each, not unlike a wolf's eyes. And then a THIRD EYE forces its way forward, cramming the other two into different corners. The pain makes Ruri think her face might be about to tear right across the middle, from ear to ear, but the strength she can feel flowing through her dissuades her from obeying her instincts and stopping whatever it is that she's doing that is causing such serious self-harm. The third eye, like the first two, is the same wolf-like yellow in the sclera. Feeling slightly unstable emotionally, as though survival was no longer as important a priority as destroying the enemy, Ruri channels this extra Chakra she has gained into those eyes.
First, a giant guillotine appears out of nowhere, streaking from the surface of one eye into the air. It goes flying at the monster. But Ruri's not done. The other two eyes then project those twin firestreams again, but this time they COMBINE the flames into a single intense wave of heat. The flames engulf the guillotine while it's still in-transit, and augment the execution-appropriate sharpness of the blade by turning it white hot.
Maybe it can't feel pain, and damaging the bodies that compose it doesn't do much of anything. But let's see how it likes having a decapitation tool so hot and sharp it can cut through flesh like a hot knife through butter passed through it. The aim isn't very precise, but the flaming guillotine is generally directed at the forearms of those two amalgam limbs as they are so conveniently close together.
Kara, meanwhile, is falling. Broken tiles, splintered wood, pieces of stone, and whatever else was making up her perch and the ceiling above before she had the bright idea to fall off in order to 'save' herself, all rain down alongside of her or above her. She was kind of high up, and so one might think the fall would take awhile. But gravity doesn't really work that way, and so Kara maybe has two or three seconds at the most before she goes splat on the ground. She didn't have a plan when she fell out of the rafters. There was no time for that sort of thing. But as her brain catches up with her situation, the dark-skinned woman realizes that even if she survives the fall, the hail of sharp and/or hard things from above would probably finish her off. And if it >didn't< then she'd be in no condition to help anyone or do anything else.
Solution? Don't hit the ground. No time to yell out the name of the Jutsu, Kara just channels what Chakra she has left into Pharaoh as he is somewhere above her, and has him spits out another of those handy origami boats. Ordinarily, two things dropped at the same time, regardless of their individual weight, will continue to fall at the same rate. The heavier object does not fall faster. But when the paper boat expands in a cloud of smoke and swoops underneath Kara faster than she can reach the ground, it is basically politely telling physics to go screw itself. Chakra. What'cha' gonna' do?
The momentum is still sufficient that, though the boat swoops over the floor of the shrine and turns to avoid hitting any of the walls, Kara still hits the Papyrus Reed Boat's bottom pretty hard. "Oof!" she oofs. Pharaoh lands ontop of her, making her 'oof' a bit more vehemently thanks to getting a bony knee in the spine. Luckily the Puppet doesn't weigh that much.
Circling around the room, the Ancient Egyptian-themed kunoichi doesn't have a lot of Chakra to use on flight. She'll have to make this quick. Forcing herself up to her hands and knees, Kara moves Pharaoh into position manually, and then lands the flying boat right in front of Rinako and Ruri.
"Pharaoh-23:" Kara calls out as she sends her Chakra into her Puppet, triggering five pre-prepared scrolls inside of his torso and each limb. "Pyramid Barrier!" A yellow, pyramid-shaped energy field shimmers into existence, hopefully blocking any falling dismembered appendages, or angry giant attacks, or similar.
Shemri and Shiikaa were out of range, unfortunately.
Oh, Mr. Necromancy is calling US foul? :P Well, actually, they haven't gotten a chance to really wash since the sewers. c.c But still! Shemri's a little disappointed that the old man's fighting back. Suppose it's only to be expected, as he evidently knows a thing or two (or rather a lot, probably) about ninjutsu, but he just looked like such a frail target. Shemri was worried she might break him before he could stop the zombie rampage; looks like she can't hold back on—uh-oh! Shemri throws her arms up to shield her face, which turns out to be not a very useful defense. She gasps as the cold wind steals the warmth from her limbs. Shiikaa responds by firing a wind attack of his own at the troublesome old coot, and Shemri, thankful that her sash isn't alive to be affected by the cold, manages to fling a kunai at him.
With her eyes having turned to vertical slits of black and yellow, eyes more accustomed to peering through water than the air above it, Rinako watches as those two might hands are withdrawn for another blow. She struggles to pry herself off of her knees, to stand amidst the broken remains of the temple floor and torn earth her battle of raw strength with the hideous beast had created. She places one foot on the ground, struggling to lift her second knee, but her legs felt like dead weight, and her arms were as if they had chains attached to blocks of steel about them. She wasn't going to be able to stop them both at once, not again.
Even so, the elder of the twins crouches, ready to intercept the pair of monstrous limbs with her own two hands, which had formed into chakra-encrusted claws, raising them up just as the pair of fists come crashing down… and bypass her completely, instead striking against the pyramidic barrier before falling harmlessly to the side, cleanly severed by the flaming blade, and completely blocked by the barrier in front of it. The badies creating the pair of hands go absolutely wild, arms and legs flailing, mouths and bodies writhing, as the devolve from a coordinated, enormous limbs, into a pile of bodies, which slowly falls mute, each of the mutants making it up slowing in it's movements as if becoming groggy, and eventually lying still.
The great beast, meanwhile, lifts the two severed nubs, cut just below the wrists, taking off part of it's forearms, as if inspecting them. Dropping it's arms, using the stubs to support itself, it leans forward from it's spot within the hole, bringing it's still-burning head into line with the three kunoichi before it. It's body convulses as if about to purge itself… and that's exactly what it does.
Disgustingly, it's mouth opens impossibly wide, spewing forth a potent river of noxious green liquid, along with a few bodies, and body parts, within the foul brew. Rinako enacts her chakra shields to protect herself, in case Kara wasn't able to maintain her own barrier, and where the liquid strikes inanimate objects or obstructions, it clings as a slime would, and begins to sizzle, burn, and melt it's way through. Once it's through throwing up, as it appeared to have done, the entire area is covered in the slick, sticky goo, which begins to eat through the ground, and promises to burn through any sandals or flesh it comes into contact with, whisps of smoke coming off of the burning, bubbling, and melting surfaces.
The flaming, guillotine, meanwhile, has cut out a sizeable chunk of the cieling as it went through the creature's arms, creating a large hole in the rafters and roof overhead, which rain bits and chunks of debris down. Through it, the creatures that had been scaling the sides of the temple can be seen, though they seemed to be paused, confused, and… still, staring at nothing as they cling to the roof, slack-jawed and un-moving.
It seemed Shemri was correct about the old man knowing a thing or two about ninjutsu! Even as he gathers his feet under him, another sign is made, followed by him pressing the seal out before him, causing a shimmering yellow hexagonal barrier to appear, wrap around the small ball of wind shot at him, completely enveloping it. The ball then seems to empower the wind attack into a violent vortex, even as it reverses direction and heads back towards the cat! Once it reaches the general vicinity of it's target, the barrier unfolds, releasing a veritable maelstrom of cutting wind at the feline. Yet for all his mastery of chakra-based attacks, it seemed he had far less defense against the more physical of the two attacks. Even as he tries to dodge, the kunai slices painfully through his upper left arm, cutting deeply into the fleshy part of his bicep, causing a pained cry of dismay.
"What are you doing, you fool!? PROTECT ME!"
As if hearing, or perhaps merely sensing the priest's will, the large creature begins to use the stubby remains of it's arms to turn itself around.
Ruri notices her sister is looking kind of haggard. Maybe she overestimated how much energy her twin had available. Though Rinako likely has a larger amount of stamina than Ruri, using the powers of that monster inside of her must take a hefty toll. "It's okay, Nee-chan!" Ruri calls out in a surprisingly steady and upbeat tone. Whether she can be heard or not over all the other noises, she yells anyway, "Just rest! I got us into this mess and I'll get us out!"
Where has this strange confidence come from? She feels kind of light-headed and almost… Cheerful. Has the fear become so great that she has become immune to it? Has she snapped and gone crazy? She admits to herself inwardly that if this is what it feels like to be crazy… Then it feels pretty good. Even the foul-smelling and foul-looking acidic bile that coats and dissolves the floor and anything else it touches seems a trifle at this point. She leaps into the air several feet, and attaches her feet to the temple wall, not worrying overly about those still on the ground. They'll be fine. There's no way they can lose now!
The Chakra Ruri has drawn upon from the darkness doesn't appear to be fading with use. So she decides to take full advantage of this unexpected resource, and in quick succession she presses two fingers to her left forearm, and then swaps hands and arms so that two left-hand fingers are pressed to her right forearm. A Stored Wall is unsealed from the first tattoo, to simultaneously TRY to seperate Shemri and the priest from the abomination and possibly hinder its attempts to turn around for a few precious seconds. From the second Flesh Scroll tattoo, the cement hull of a standard outdoor swimming pool is unsealed. Unfortunately there is no water in it. But it IS kind of heavy on its own, which may be useful for Team 01's goal of staying alive, as the swimming pool is dropped towards the giant zombie-thing, in an attempt to pin it down, or at least delay it from helping its master.
Ruri just stands there on the wall, grinning like this is a very amusing game rather than a life and death struggle. But then blood starts to stream from her right eye-socket as the flesh tears a bit from the strain of containing those three eyes in such a limited space. As it trickles down her cheek, Ruri winces, grin turning to grimace in an instant. Her right hand comes up to clutch at those eyes as though simply pressing her hand to the area would make the pain go away. The Chakra and power she had been drawing upon abruptly recedes into the darkness, and Ruri is both unable and unwilling to go looking for it again. She has to try to cling to the wall with her own Chakra now, or else fall into the acidic goop all over the floor. The eyes she had grown have vanished.
Kara's barrier holds. It blocks the weight of the two severed body-arms. But it's not exactly air-tight, and when the slime is spewed out onto the floor and everything else, she's not confident she can keep it from getting her feet if she relies solely on the barrier. She doesn't have enough Chakra left to fly her Papyrus Reed Boat… But maybe she has enough to join Ruri up on the wall. What was the younger twin yelling about anyway? She hadn't been able to make it out.
Forgetting that Rinako has her Chakra shields, Kara leaps from the boat just as the Kekkaijutsu fades away, Pharaoh clinging to her back, and tries to help the other kunoichi to her feet, or if all else fails just drag her over to a wall and hope she can stick there on her own. Kara is breathing very hard by now, and she feels weak throughout her body. She is pretty much out of the fight, and says so. "I don't think… I can fight… Anymore!"
It seems it's up to Shemri now to save them all by taking out the priest, unless Rinako is better off than she looks.
Ooooooh, that doesn't look good. ^o.o^; Shiikaa cottons on to the fact that the old codger's defense is more than just a defense the second the strange ball starts heading back in his direction. Consquently, he does something cats do very wellhe scats! The blades of wind thunk through the flooring close behind him as he flees to a safer distance.
Meanwhile, Shemri is seeing that this old man definitely does have a weakness for the physical aspect of things, so it's about time to fully capitalize on it. Forcing her body back into motion, she leaps forward onto the attack again. This time, though, instead of hitting the old man, she goes for a grappling strategyspecifically, a running clothesline at his neck, locking her arm under his jaw. Nor does she stop running upon contact. She keeps going, yanking the foe bodily along with her, and moving around the monster to stay ahead of its turning. Who knows how this unholy amalgamation really works, but it does seem to have some physical limitations, so being behind its back would probably be advantageous. "Hoi! Make it stop, if you value your neck!" Shemri shouts to the evil priest as she drags him. >P
The stone wall drops down between the battling genin and priest and the monster that was turning to aid it's master, causing the beast to peer this way and that at the strange new obstruction. Whatever it was, however many minds had made up this thing, it didn't seem to have all that much intelligence. After a moment, though, it determines that the wall should not be there, and that it should endeavor to remove it, backhanding the construct of stone with one of it's handless arms, crashing through it like a child would break a tower made of Legos.
The sudden introduction of the heavy weight of cement on it's 'head' and back hinders it more, causing the creature to lose it's 'footing' so to speak under the considerable and unexpected weight. It crashes to the floor, tearing up yet more of the wood and earth, the cement pool over it's head like some sort of oddly-shaped helmet.
As Kara grabs at the elder of the Rurohashi twins, Rinako doesn't seem to object, following her airborne flight to the wall, only to stick there, crouched sideways, with the other two. The strain put on her muscles, even enhanced by her bijuu as they currently were, by blocking the creature's attacks with brute force had produced a dull ache throughout most of her body. The Other within provided more than enough blind anger to drown out the pain, however, at least for a while.
Jinchuriki though she might be, there were limits to what the Chuunin could do, especially after her little trick of summoning about… a trillion water clones earlier. Still, her friend, Megumi-chan's mother, and, most importantly, her sister were all still in danger. She had to keep going.
"Kara, make sure my sister's all right!"
With Ruri in pain and Kara proclaiming that she could no longer stand up in combat, Rinako tenses her leg muscles, snarls as her yellow-and-black eyes narrow, then LAUNCHES herself at the abomination like an airborne missile.
No one had ever accused Rinako of being an expert tactician.
Just as the beast was managing to regain itself, using it's stubs to push up the pool-helmet, the dark-haired, blue-skinned, chakra-hazed kunoichi drills into it's side, right below where it's ribs would be. Her initial strike half-buries her within the thing, and her continued attacks only cause her to burrow in deeper still. Claws, teeth, even her lone, spiked tail, all rend flesh as she scratches her way deeper, tearing through bodies, the acidic substance hissing and burning at her shields.
The old man, meanwhile, doesn't have much time to express any glee that the cat was now fleeing before his 'might', not with an angry kunoichi charging at him. He lifts his hands to begin making seals, but Shemri is the quicker by far, catching him around his throat, and keeping them two steps ahead of his monster, who was currently trying to dig Rinako out of itself with fingerless nubs.
Seemingly trying to communicate, probably to call Shemri a few more names, he yanks ineffectually with feeble strength at the arm around his neck. When his face begins to turn blue from the lack of oxygen, he finally starts gesturing madly at the struggling creature, by now free of it's 'hat', and ignoring the few new holes in it's body as it continued to try to catch up to the speedy Maneshi, and it… simply crumbles without fanfare. Whatever the old man had gestured, or perhaps willed, had brought about an end to the beast, which collapses into a mass of bodies, no longer connected, each wiggling and writhing, moaning in those horrible voices, before going still and lifeless.
The creature was now effectively dead, if it had ever been alive, though within that fleshy mound was still buried a certain jinchuriki.
Chakra was running low. Should already be gone, really. The pain, the tiredness, and the crash after the constant adrenaline high of fear, all combine to make Ruri one miserable little cookie. The vision of her left eye is blurred, making her see multiple images of everything as they all move around in an unfocused, unorganized, nauseating mess of visual input. The sounds in the room are heard dimly as barely-there echoes of high-pitched noises, warbling in and out of Ruri's ability to detect. The pain is still all too sharp, however. And she clings to that to maintain consciousness for at least a little while longer.
"Kara," she calls out, unable to even hear herself speak, and thus unaware of what level of volume or coherency she might be using. "Pull my sister out of there." She'd do it herself, but she isn't confident she could reliably locate Rinako in that mess. Instead, she gathers what little strength she still possesses and makes a lame attempt at leaping from the wall to a spot on the floor beyond the slime. She lands in an awkward crouch, and tumbles onto her side. It's harder to get back up than it should be. She knows she's tired beyond words, but why can't her body work with her at least a little bit!?
She crawls half the distance to where Shemri and the priest are before she manages to get back onto her feet. She sort of staggers the rest of the way. When she reaches Shemri and her prisoner, Ruri's hearing and vision have started to return to her — albeit slowly. "Shemri-san, give him here." she orders. Assuming Shemri cooperates, even with her feeble strength and depleted energy, she tries to get a grip on the old man's clothing and hold him up by the collar, so she can look down into his face. The blood trickling from her right eye socket has slowed somewhat, but the damages to the eyelids are still evident.
She stares into the face of the priest, knowing she's trembling all over for a number of reasons, and hoping she can remain standing long enough to do this. Her mouth is set in a grim line, and her working eye is bloodshot. Eventually, Ruri says, "You've done a lot of very bad things. You are a very bad person. Whatever your reasons for what you have done, whether that be revenge, or power, or just because you're THAT fucking insane, the result is that a lot of people have died, or they have been remade into things that would be better off dead. What I'm about to do is something I never thought I'd do." She closes her left eye, and takes in a deep breath, feeling her head swimming. She opens her eye again and says, "I have never considered myself to be 'above the law', or 'special', or an authority unto myself. But considering that you sentenced all these people to torture, slavery, and death, I doubt I'll lose any sleep over you sharing their fate."
For a second nothing happens except an intense staring match. Then something long and blotchy purple-red darts swiftly out of Ruri's right eye socket in a blur of movement. A tendril of Summoned Beast flesh attempts to stab through one of the old man's own eyes, and into his skull, before retreating back into the darkness. Successful or not, after that, Ruri has not the strength to hold ANYONE up anymore. So she'd let go of the guy and slump against the nearest surface, whether that be wall or floor or corpse.
Kara is not as tired as Ruri, but she's still not in the best condition to maintain this wall-clinging for much longer. So she nods to Ruri and says, "Okay." Then she leaps down to the floor, landing better than Ruri did. She staggers towards the various dead mutants and tries to fight down the nausea that touching them generates, in order to try to heave bodies aside, while calling out to Rinako. "Rinako! Can you hear me? Hey, Rinako! The fight is over, you can stop tearing these things apart! If you can hear me, give a sign!" Oddly, she isn't too worried that Rinako might be too injured to communicate. She just takes for granted that the other kunoichi is tough enough to survive the universe imploding, and keeps on searching.
She is vaguely aware of Ruri talking in the background, but isn't really looking in that direction. She'll find out what's going on later, after she has found Rinako!
Shemri glances aside and sees the zombie ziggurat start to tumble. She hopskips away to avoid any debris. Once she's finally pretty sure the zombies aren't about to spring up and attack them again, she loosens her grip around the old man's neck a little. She's quick to press several kunai against various vital spots, though. "Do not try anything funny," Shemri warns. "I know of many ways to kill." >/
On Ruri's order, Shemri looks over and blinks. "…If you are certain," she replies warily, pushing the captive into Ruri's custody. Shemri keeps her knives ready and pointed just in case…but it turns out Ruri's not the one who needs protection. "O-oi! What are you—" Whoa. o.O; Ew. Shemri takes a moment to recover from the occurance, then sighs and kneels down to pull Ruri's arm over her shoulders. "I sort of implied we would spare him, at least until trial," she mutters. e.e
And Shiikaa's helping to locate Rinako, of course.
The man's feeble weight, less than that of a female of his height would even way, is able to be supported even by Ruri's failing strength. Underneath the shinto priest robes, the man was practically emaciated, as if eating was a distant second on his mind compared to what he had been doing with the scrolls, and the victims it had ensnared. He swallows as the young kunoichi grips him up, listening closely to her words. After she's done, he starts to smile, to speak, spreading his hands like a benign, old, grandfatherly figure.
"Now, now, my dear. Perhaps we can come to a deal regar-HRK!"
His 'deal', whatever it may have been, remains unfinished, as the sickening tendril of flesh pierces his eye, and scrambles up his brain matter. His body tenses, trembling violently during the ordeal, his throat seizing up with shock and pain, before it's over, and his body slumps immediately to the ground, dead before he even hits it.
The search for Rinako takes a bit of time, as there are hundreds of bodies in this macabre pile. But eventually, her tunneling and shouting, plus the benefit of a feline's nose, meets the younger kunoichi's own extrication efforts, and an arm pops up from within the pile of arms (and hopefully isn't bitten off out of reflex!), one which is neither withered nor swollen with mutation, as well as a muffled voice.
"Et ee ouffa eere!"
A bit of tugging and heaving would see the elder of the Rurohashi twins withdrawn from the pile of corpses, sans her chakra haze and blue-tinted skin, signaling the end of her jinchuriki transformation, as she shakes herself to rid her body of the general goop that being in the pile of mutant corpses had covered her in, though it was hardly any fouler than what she'd already been covered in just earlier that day. Making a face, she turns her head to the side, and spits, dislodging a glob of leathery gray flesh from her mouth from where she'd bitten into one of the creatures in her savagery.
"Eugh!" She says between pants. "I'm going to brush my teeth for a damned month."
One she's semi-cleaned off, the jinchuriki sways on her feet for several moments before regaining her balance, her rapid healing and stamina regeneration already at work in at least allowing her to move about normally, if not with the typical ninja swiftness and surety, and her first matter of business is to check on her sibling.
After she's made sure that her sibling isn't too much the worse for wear, though still showing likely more concern than is plausible for exhaustion and slightly-torn eyelids, Rinako, Kara, Shemri, and Ruri wouldn't take long to find the forbidden scrolls they had been sent to retrieve. Whatever the creatures were that were still outside, they made no more moves to strike, follow, or hinder the party. In fact, they made no moves period, almost as if their will to do so had been stripped of them. They do not, however, wither and die as their comrades in the grotesque pile had. They are eventually disposed of by a support team which meets the kunoichi band back in Sayu, who move in, secure the temple, and eliminate all traces of any mutanted infestations. The scrolls are returned safely to the Administration Dome of Sunagakure, where they are once again locked up. Subsequent debriefings and investigations would reveal that both the escaped criminal and the traitor-nin had originally been hired by the unknown male, and that the traitor-nin had met his end when the priest had turned him into an abomination, and he, in turn, killed the wanted criminal.
No further details are given to the kunoichi team, though whether this is because there are currently none to give, ro because the investigators are keeping it under wraps is left unsaid. Rinako suspects the latter, and says as much to the rest of the team, before immediately suggesting that they all visit the public baths and submerge themselves for the remainder of the week within it's heated waters.