Date: June 18, 2015
Ayumu and company find the creature terrorizing the town they came upon.
Poster's note: foul language filtered in obvious places.
"The Mysterious Beast - Run"
Despite a hard chase, it seems whatever it is that burst out of the house is faster than one might imagine, especially for something not associated with the hidden villages. It seems like it could be anything. A rogue ninken? A summon animal maybe? Whatever it is, the scent it holds is not quite right, especially to those with enhanced sense of smell. How far it ran is hard to tell due to how it moved to mix its smell in with that of its victims that have been left laying around. This leaves the shinobi who've gathered with a few options. They could search for tracks that probably lead into an area that leaving tracks isn't possible in for an idea of where it went, make an attempt to follow the scent, or try to question a grieving mother who seems to have basically gone catatonic in a clone's arms as she stares down at the ground or maybe just through it.
As scents became increasingly more distorted, the clone steadily turns to trying to keep track of the hybrid by sound; be it vibrations in the air or ground. That too promised to ultimately fail given the distance and terrain, but it does not give up in its endeavour for as long as possible. Neither the mother's words, or her condition for that matter went completely unnoticed to the doppleganger. It is, however, slow to take fully note, which promised a bit of future tongue lashing. Undaunted, it freed up a hand and digs it, messaging the original by touch.
"Run?" Ayumu stroked his chin for a thoughtful moment, then with joints popping all too loudly, rose up to stand upon his perch. Did they miss something back at the field? Or perhaps it was something along the way? Or maybe the woman was somehow…!? "Intentions… Hmm… Possible. Either way—" The clone perks up as it feels the organ squirm a message back into its palm before settling down again. While it silently mused over how best to broach the topic, the original began creating and scattering sensory organs throughout the immediate area. Much of which come together to form a second doppleganger that treads its way closer to the village. With that done, Ayumu settles back down in his seat to focus on expanding his awareness.
Arika is mostly useless for now, unable to sense much of anything since she doesn't have a strong sense of smell. The girl instead sits atop Konsho, watching the hustle and bustle of her friends as they try to figure something out. With a handseal, Arika makes a clone and sends it off to go search for the beast with Ayumu while she stays behind and hears what all is happening with the woman. It's better to have a shadow clone almost die, in her opinion, and at least the thing can give her useful information.
There aren't many things in existence that can outrun an Inuzuka, yet this thing managed to and it's becoming more and more a pain in the jog as he realizes it's not just some stupid beast. It's intelligent enough to lose itself in the scents of it's prey. It's intelligent enough to run instead of attack a group of shinobi. The question really was, now, what is it? Hige and Konsho slowed once they lost the trail and are taking their time trying to find it again, the large pup continuing to be a ride for the small girl. Scents, sounds, footprints, animals fleeing, birds startled…anything. Hige is watching for it all as best as he can while trying not to show his frustration at having lost the thing in the first place. If anyone else died from it now…
Through expanded awareness and general searching, the shinobi would at last catch wind of something. Far up ahead, something seems to have stopped. Even the scent seems to lead to there in some way. In a clearing in the forest near many of the other prey of whatever this creature is, a young man with pale skin and long black hair lays face first in the dirt. His breathing seems shallow, sweat beading off his skin. This could perhaps be the sick boy from the house, but that does leave the question of why the creature left him alive…
A soft sigh escapes the clone before it slips into position in front of the elder woman, hands at her shouders as if to keep her propped up. "I know this is perhaps not the best time to ask this, but… What has happened?" It asks, for once ditching the Iga's more characteristic round about way of speaking. Its more fleshy compatriot circumvents the village upon reaching its edges, and continues onwards. It would be some time before it caught up with the others. Hopefully, the three do not come under fire before then.
Arika can't quite figure out what's going on, but the clone is still trying to find the beastie while Arika slides off of Konsho's back eventually. "Konsho-kun! Let's go ask around the village!" she suggests, trying to tug the large pup to go see a group of villagers … Or no. Most of them have to hang out /somewhere/, so she's aiming to track down that main hangout and ask what has been happening.
Konsho lets Arika off but doesn't stick with her as he and Hige decide to continue following the trail as best as they can. They decide to leave the talking to the others since they aren't exactly the most sociable types anyways. Well, Hige isn't at least, but Konsho isn't going to let him hunt alone. Konsho catches up with Hige who had already moved on ahead and eventually they find the clearing with the boy where the scent simply ceases. That's…mysterious. When Hige spots the sick boy he races forward, crouching in the dirt next to him and reaching down to check for a pulse before he tries to roll him over. "Hey, you alright?" Stupid question…"Can you hear me?"
The woman stares at the ground for several long moments before finally uttering, "He went missing a few weeks back… The attacks started a few days later. We found him in the forest sick. He's been running a persistent fever ever since. We never see him leave, but I do hear his door close once in a while as if he's been gone… until today." Up at the clearing, the boy is still laying face down in the dirt. As Hige comes up and checks his pulse, a simple utterance is heard as the scent comes again, the odd scent, directly from his pores with the sweat. "…. Run." Suddenly, he jumps up, driving a suddenly powerful fist directly at Hige's face.
The shadow clone listens politely to woman's story until its end. A number of ideas run through its mind, but it knew better than to rely solely on one perspective. Even so, it sat in silence for a moment or so longer, squinted eyes averted until it found the right words. "… Where was he found exactly, and… was there… did he say anything? Is he-…" It pauses again, taking a moment to test the air. If things were as it thought they were, and the woman's son was somehow involved, only then does the clone speak again. "C'mon, let's get you somewhere to relax for the moment." It offers, and if allowed, it would help her to her feet.
Arika zips around town, asking various villagers about their recent experiences while her clone, finding out what Ayumu extracted from the single lady. She is so good at this recon stuff, isn't she… Her clone might be a bit more useful, though, seeing as it managed to track down Hige and Konsho, using wind chakra to press itself further and further so it can catch up to the Inuzuka. They're too far for her to interrupt any attack, though…
Hige is already tense just due to the nature of what they're dealing with at the moment. But between the words from the kid follow by that scent…chakra pulses through the teen as he launches himself away from the attack, sliding to a stop a short distance away on all fours. Konsho joins him, growling loudly. "Whoa, calm down!" Hige calls out to the kid. "I'm trying to help you. What the hell's the matter with you?" Feral eyes narrow a bit as things start to come together. "It's you…why are you doing this? What happened?" So many questions! He doesn't attack, but he doesn't run either, facing the boy down with narrowed eyes while Konsho continues to growl.
"Just leave me… I hoped it wasn't true… but, if you want your friends to live, you better go help them," the woman says, jerking back from the clone and finally standing to walk back into her house. Meanwhile back at the clearing… "Idiot," the young man growls out as he steps into a rather feral stance. "I said… RUN!" As he sweats more, suddenly his skin begins to literally grow fur, fingernails turning into claws as his muscle grow more rigid and larger. His face even shifts a bit, teeth turning into fangs. A fierce growl lets out before he darts at Hige, striking out at him and then leaping toward Arika to slash at her.
Fortunately, the shove lacked enough punch to dispel the clone. Even so, both the action and the woman's words remain clear to the doppleganger. It lingers around until she actually steps inside before walking off, hands dug into its pockets along the way. Once more, Ayumu recieves an update, mulls over it for a short little while, then order the shadow clone to join its fleshy brother. It would be even longer before it arrived, but hopefully not too long to provide any help.
As for the clone of flesh, the sound of another yell spurs it on faster, whiping up the wind in the fore and its wake. Upon sensing the trouble the other two are in, it doesn't hesitate for a moment in sending tendrils of hair after the boy.
Arika gathers her chakra, sending it through her body so that she might enhance her speed. The girl is about to move away from the beast, but then Hige knocks her out of the way (or Konsho) and she avoids the worst of any attack. Since she can do what she likes, she makes a seal, jumping and spinning to kick wind downwards upon the boy-turned-beast, forcing him to the ground. The real Arika is just wandering at this point, feeling useless until she senses a huge battle.
Konsho is indeed there, clone or not, and pushes the girl out of the way before launching himself back away from the strike. Hige had already avoided his own and, well, they were pretty race confused over what was going on. What the hell happened to this person to lose control like that. Was that transformation some kind of jutsu? So many questions. Regardless, the danger is obvious and so without even contacting the others the two simply move as one, launching into the air before spinning and coming down towards the creature in a coordinated attack.
Despite its failures to strike, the newly formed beast is apparently quite limber. The attacks coming its way warrant a fierce snarl before it bends its knees then launches itself high into the air. As it moves, it flips and kicks off to go down at Arika, intending to rip and tear at her flesh. "I… SAID… RUN!"
Close, but no cigar. The clone tries to retract the hairs and reconsider its option, but by then, the hybrid has already moved into position to strike again. ~Too quick. Ayumu—~
~~Trying. But have them retreat for now~~ Ayumu replied through the link. The clone cannot wait. Within a heart beat, it moves on thoughtless bravery (or better yet, foolishness) for the sake of protecting Arika's clone. A split-second sooner and it might've succeeded. Instead, it had to watch and hope the Arika copy defend itself well. A half a second later, it felt a through the link. An expansion of awareness it understood quite well, and reveled in for all of a few seconds.
Then, it is back to the present. "Mah-ee… Hige. Arika. Do as he says for now, because if that — if he changes any more, I doubt any of us will be able to keep up." It isn't a lie, but neither is it the complete truth of his assessment. Not that it might matter much considering the company currently with him…
Arika tries to avoid the attack, but she isn't fast enough. The claws slice through her arm, leaving a huge gash right down to her bone (like one could see the pale white of it if they tried to… There's a bit too much blood, though.) The girl hisses faintly, then a growl comes from her. Chakra begins to bubble out and around her arm, first, covering the wound and healing it a bit as it envelops her body. Two tails wave behind her, a third one slowly forming.
Hige growls low in his throat, an inhuman sound coming from the teen as he sees Arika get hit. "That's it," he growls out, flashing in between Arika and the creature to try and prevent her from being attacked again. "Retreat Arika, go with your friend. I'll slow this thing down and then catch up," he says, feral eyes not even looking back at the girl. He's going to make sure they get a good head start before he tries to make his own escape. Until then he'll just have to keep this puppy busy. Hige flashes forward, moving quickly towards the creature as if to attack. But it's a feint. Konsho is the real danger as he lunges from behind the 'sick boy', lightning surrounding his body and forming into long, dangerous looking claws that slash at the creature.
Watching Arika start to transform, the beast's eyes only get more feral… yet it is then distracted by Hige and Konsho. As the two move, it lets out a growl and dives toward Hige and out of the way of Konosho's strikes as it attempts to tackle him and rip and tear. "RUN!" he roars out as he attack, seeming to try to hold back as he tries to fling Hige away if he does manage to hurt the boy.
"Typical Konoha-nin. Always gotta play the hero." The clone smirks, knowing its original to be little different on the right day; such as today. Albeit, the clones did lower the threat level somewhat…
A quick shake of the head dismisses the thought, freeing the clone to prioritize properly. Hige wouldn't be disuaded easily, and Arika… With a heavy sigh, the clone sought to catch the girl by her midrift after Hige shouted out the warning. While not the most physically strong it would survive the cloak's touch, and hopefully catch Arika off-guard well enough to get her far enough away from any more anger stimulants.
Arika suddenly squeaks when she's grabbed by the Ayumu-clone. The cloak continues to mend her wounds, burning foreign flesh away from her being as if it were an attack instead of a rescue. "Ayumu-saaaaannn…" she whines. "We can't just leave them…" She's not much stronger, admittedly, and the girl is actually herself, as somewhere along the way, she and the clone switched places. Speaking of a clone… It goes POOF wherever it is.
Alright so he managed to avoid Konsho's attack from behind, but perhaps the creature man made a mistake in attacking Hige directly. The boy launches himself into the air as the thing tries to tackle him, flipping cleanly to come right back down with his own devastating claws to try and rend flesh. "Control yourself!" Hige growls, the sound coming low and throaty. "Don't let it control you. Fight it. You have enough control to warn us, then push it further!"
As the claw digs into his back, the creature least out a growl. "You dumbsprint," it grows, voice becoming more and more distorted. "… Don't say… I didn't warn you.." With that he seems to completely check out, eyes turning utterly black and then a fierce, burning red, his eyes completely replaced with that of a wolf even as lightning courses through his body and keeps him down for now.
As skin corrodes more pours to the surface to try and replace the damage tissue. The visual effect is than pleasant to look at from some perspectives, though fortunately, it hasn't gotten so bad that the clone was in danger of falling apart. Yet. As for Arika's whining, well, 'Ayumu' keeps on running with the girl in tow. "Trust when I say that Hige will be fine… And besides, I have another—"
Something blurs past the two, hastily making its way back to where they once were. "On his way to assist. Besides, you should be reporting back to Sunagakure now, shouldn't you?" It states more than asks, but would say no more as if awaiting an answer.
Hige might sense the earth churning about the hybrid just before crimson tendrils come flying out. Within moments, the struggling creature is cocooned by red strands and barbs; The latter of which sought to absorb chakra. While it may just be a drop in the bucket, with any luck, it would slow the transformation. "It will not be enough, Hige-san… For now… you should report this before… the change… complete." From behind, the clone voice would issue forth. Turning, Hige would see Ayumu kneeling with his hands clasped together as if in prayer, hair hanging loose, enshrouding part of his — its form.
"And don't you go worry'n bout me… Just a clone…"
Despite the nature of the Imprisoning mantle, it is clear from the clone's breathy tone and visage that it wouldn't keep the hybrid pin for long.
Arika hasn't lost control. Not yet. Which is probably why her chakra cloak slowly fades from her finger and she doesn't pass out from it fading. "Fine…" She mumbles. "But you still gotta come back to Suna with me. Then we can report stuff. You know more about this than I do, so you should at least help me tell Itami-sama." The girl settles where she is, waiting for them both to stop before she hops down and out of his grip, looking at the Iga. "So? Are you gonna come back?"
Apparently the sick boy trying to fight his transformation is not exactly going so well. Where was Kenta when you needed him. As the thing struggles under the effect of his lightning Hige hesitates briefly, but then the clone appears and he nods. "Good. I just wanted to make sure Arika had enough time to get away before we left. Konsho!" Together the pair turn and are off in the direction that Arika and Ayumu had gone, leaving the clone to slow down the creature for as long as it can. Hopefully it'll be enough for now. There are other things to take care of at this point. "Go to the village," Hige tells Konsho while they run. "Tell them to evacuate. If the daimyo of this land won't take them have them head towards the Land of Fire. I'll figure out some temporary housing until this can be taken care of. I don't want any more people dying from this thing." The large pup splinters off to go to the village, leaving Hige to catch up with the others.
As the tendrils of hair stab into it and begin to absorb chakra, the beast lets out a feral roar. Yet, this is not the only harm done. As the clone absorbs chakra from it, the chakra absorbed from it would just feel… wrong, as if intended to turn in on itself. This chakra quickly attempts to permeate the whole of the clone, apparently intending to take it over and use it against whatever threatens it, which in this case would actually be the original himself if he doesn't dismantle this thing himself.
The clone just really did not know how to take Hige's words. Did it mean that Hige knew its other half was a clone as well, or just didn't care for the elder man's life? Regardless of which, it felt a twinge in its heart…
"I…. suppose I owe her that much. If nothing else, mocking three birds with one jest wouldn't be so… bad." As that last word left the clone's mouth, the strained but easy-going look about it fades as just about every sensory organ composing it pick up the infection.
Sensing the same via the link, and yet unable to do nothing, the original can only cancel the jutsu holding the one organ on the shadow clone's person before it too got infected, and watch from the perspective of its unaffected half. To act too soon meant endangering the others. They were all aware of the gamble. Oddly enough, it is the infected that chuckles as feelings akin to blind rage and protectiveness rose up from within. Then…
Gone like the wind. Ayumu still found himself reeling from the information passed along, gasping for air, and… laughing, too. "Heheh… Just… What have intruded upon?"
Arika grins a bit. "Good! I'll wait for you about two miles south!" she says with a nod, knowing that, in his own way, Ayumu had decided to join her on the trip homewards. Then she makes a handseal, and the girl disappears with a burst of wind, using her chakra to speed her along her way. She had finished her own 'mission' and managed to pick up some interesting information along the way. A good job as per usual!
Konsho returns to the village and lets out a loud howl to get everyone's attention. "Take what you can carry and get away from the village before the creature returns!" The large pup says. "If you can't find shelter in this land we will find you a temporary home in the Land of Fire." Konsho waits to see if people start moving or if he needs to take a more…angry…approach.
Hige catches up to Arika and Ayumu just as Arika departs and Ayumu says his…strange statement. "Your clone." It's not a question. He realizes that some information must've been passed along at some point. "What is it? What happened?" He has his own reports to make at this point, and the sooner they take care of it the better. That thing was very dangerous, obviously.
A moment after the clone vanishes, the beast is free. The only sign of it now is a resounding howl that almost seems to shake the area around it before it vanishes off in the other direction… The hunt will likely resume in one way or another once the beast has recovered from its wounds.
Arika's warning isn't much of a warning, because by the time a comeback or correction comes to mind, the girl has up and vanished from his arms. Hige would arrive just in time to hear the clone grumbling about something along the lines of "That girl…" before turning to regard the Jounin's general direction.
"How do I put this delicately?" 'Ayumu' rubs his chin thoughtfully. "I'm no medic, but either a new clan has emerged suffering a case of the wolfism that I once read plagued easterners way back in the day, or…. it seems there's another outbreak of infectious chakra. Either way, that war of yours might have to be rain checked, neh?" The clone doesn't wait for answer before forming a seal. Moments later, it disappears into the surface of the ground with the intent to linger in the general area and act as a warning system of a sorts. For a little while, in anycase.
The original did have business in the Land of Wind to take care of now…